Chapter Eighty Four
“… You need to tell me where she is,” I demanded, stepping back towards him again. “Tell me where she is right now or I swear I will burn every f*****g bridge to get that information out of you. I don‘t care what it costs.”
“Aria… I don‘t–”
“No!” I cut off, grabbing his shirt in my fists and pushing him back up against the door once more. “No, you don‘t get to tell me you don‘t know. I smell her on you, Cai. Tell me where the f**k she is right now!”
He mustered up enough strength to push me back, but I didn‘t release my grip on his shirt.
“Aria! I don‘t know where she is. She comes and goes a lot since I‘ve mostly been in bed these days,” he explained. “And she has family. Not in a pack but–” |
“A human family,” I finished for him. “Yeah, it‘s the same bullshit line she fed everyone here when she turned up after killing Myra. You‘re all morons for believing her. I assume you didn‘t even bother to ask her about it.”
He just pushed me again in reply, confirming my thoughts, and I finally relinquished my grip, but not for his sake.
Without looking at him, I then quickly walked over to the cabinet and threw across the room whatever ornament had been sitting on top of it, needing to physically vent my anger somehow.
“I don‘t understand any of this. How can it feel like she‘s my mate but she‘s not? I mean… it always felt a bit… weak, but the signs were all there. Whenever I look at her, it‘s like something inside tells me she is m y mate. How can you fake something like that?”
“Who the f**k knows, Cai? Why don‘t you ask her next time you‘re both sitting down together for dinner?”
“Stop blaming me, Aria!” he then growled back. “I never knew what she looked like! When she was living in the Winter Mist, I was living in your goddamn cells, remember?”
“Oh, shut up, Cai!” I snapped back, finally losing the last shred of restraint. “You don‘t get to play the victim here. In fact, I‘m done. I‘m so done with all of this. Of you… of Aleric. Somehow both of you have found your way into her bed no matter what I do! Is this why Selene actually brought me back? Entertainment to see how long it takes before I completely lose it?! Because I‘m there. I‘m there, Selene!” 1
‘What if he‘s lying and he knew it was Thea the whole time, the voice inside finally piped up. ‘What if he knew and is in league with her? What if he just wants you to think he isn‘t on her side so you‘ll open up
and let him steer you in the wrong direction?‘
“Aria! Get it together! I can help you find her but you need to calm down,” he said, taking a step towards me
…It was just as my other self had cautioned me about.
And so I quickly took a step back, now doubting even his presence here.
“No… no you stay the hell away from me,” I warned, my hand resting on the dagger by my hip. “I want you off my territory immediately. I don‘t even care if you talk to Tobias or not anymore. In fact, don‘t. I dare you. Don‘t join back into the alliance and I *promise you* I will wipe your pack off the map again, just like! did in the last timeline. This meeting was only a courtesy… for you.”?
“No! I said I‘m done.”
“Get the f**k out of my office, Cai!” I finally screamed, my eyes ablaze.
He just stared at me, his eyes glazing for a split second under my order, before breaking early,
It seemed my Saintess authority wouldn‘t work on him.
Not to say I was aiming to order him like that but it did open up an interesting revelation I hadn‘t expected.
If I had to take a guess why, it would probably have something to do with him also possessing attributes o f the Goddess. Perhaps it was the same for Aleric too. Maybe this was always the way things were going o end up. That there was no outcome where I could have commanded Aleric or Tytus to stand down given their lineage.
“You don‘t need to order me,” he growled, finding his composure. “I‘ll leave myself.”
And, with that, he finally walked out, leaving behind the solitude I had so badly craved.
In fact, now in the empty office, the only thing that filled the silence was the sound of my breathing, threatening to turn into s**s at any second.
But I couldn‘t give in to that.
No, not today.
We‘d made a promise on my birthday to never shed tears for anyone again.
If Cai was working with Thea, then so be it. We‘d get to her somehow now we had a link.
More so than that though, I just couldn‘t believe that all of these months had passed and she‘d literally been across the border in Cai‘s bed the entire time. Given how easily girls seem to fall into his lap, .. perhaps I should have checked there first.
But all of this boiled down to Selene. Because she had sent me back with no information on the powers–at –be that extended far beyond the normal I knew of. It was as if she had wanted me to fail, setting me upt o lose when the enemy clearly wasn‘t ordinary.
No, Selene had sat back and watched me slowly die during my first life.
...And now she was watching it happen again, only this time with more variables.
Did the first death bore her too much?
Did she just need a bit more spice for the second time around?
I‘d bring it to her
Since she liked watching so much, I‘d give her a front–row seat.
And with that, I stormed out of my office, out of the packhouse, and into the forest behind it.
The forest I used to go running in. The forest where I‘d apparently forgotten something very important.
A distant memory from another life, almost completely overlooked now, yet had somehow retained nonetheless. Perhaps Selene had intentionally tried to make it that way.
Because I could recall now the day I‘d come running through here to clear my head, the day Aleric had told me Thea was pregnant.
...And I‘d seen a woman.
A woman in a white dress with golden hair who had seemingly made it over the border without patrols seeing her.
Who had no scent or presence and magically disappeared into thin air when I‘d approached.
Who I discovered merely weeks later resembled the Goddess herself, only once I’d met with her in the Abyss.
Because she might have claimed that she couldn‘t involve herself in our affairs, but it didn‘t stop her from watching us anyway. After living for so long, what else was there for a Goddess to do?
Well, whatever the reason, I was well and truly done. Done with her neglect, her omissions, her ability to send me back without even a shred of information as to what was happening or what I needed to fix. I was done with this life.
If she really needed me to change our fate so badly, then she could prove it. No, she could tell me herself.
“Come out!” I screamed into the forest. “I know you‘re watching me!”
The sky was already darkening as the afternoon was turning into night, and I knew the conditions were almost the same as that day I‘d first seen her.
“Selene! Show yourself!”
But only silence followed.
“Fine then,” I hissed and pulled out my dagger. “Either come out, or I swear to you that I‘ll make the decision for both of us right now, Selene!”
And I held the dagger up to my throat, threatening to move it at any second.
“You think I won‘t do it?!” I yelled when she still hadn‘t appeared. “You think I give a s**t about saving anyone anymore? Everyone who loved me either lied or is dead. I have nothing left Selene, no one worth saving. So f**k your laws. If you really need me so badly then you can show yourself or…”
I pressed the silver into my flesh more, waiting for when she would stop me.
...And yet, still, no one appeared.
Did I get it wrong?
… Did I not matter as much as I thought?
It seemed she really was committed to calling my bluff. Maybe once I was gone she would just send someone else back to try and stop Thea. Maybe it never mattered if I agreed or not because she would have chosen another poor soul if I‘d declined being sent back.
…But could I really do this? I‘d come out here to demand answers on the assumption she needed me more than I needed her, that she couldn‘t take the risk of me ending it. If she really wouldn‘t appear… could I go through with it? Was I actually at my limit?
‘It would be a fitting end, the voice inside said. ‘To have lived and lost everything in both lives is no small thing to endure. But surely the Abyss would be better than this hell? Maybe this doesn‘t need to be a bluff after all….
I wasn‘t sure if those words were comforting or not.
“…Alright, then,” I whispered after a few minutes had passed with no result. “Have it your way. I‘ll see you o In the other side, Selene….”
And with that, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and prepared myself mentally for what I was actually considering….
It couldn‘t be that hard, right? There would be no Aleric, no Cai, no Thea, no wars, no packs, no heartaches or loss. A sanctuary away from all of that was just waiting for me on the other side. If the Abyss could show me my worst memories then perhaps, one day, it could also show me my best. Maybe, i
I was lucky. I could see my parents and Myra again. Maybe I could finally be at peace....
And so my grip tightened on the blade, my heart now racing.
Just a quick movement would be enough and...—
“–Stop,” a voice then came from the forest. And my eyes flew back open to see who had spoken.
The second I saw her standing there, I quickly collapsed to my knees, my grip releasing from the dagger immediately.
I‘d been merely a second away from doing it. From ending it. From finally letting go.
And yet I was still alive.
I gasped at the air around me, my body shaking from adrenaline as it pulsed through me.
It had started as just a bluff… but somehow I‘d found myself almost going through with it.
…Had I really fallen to that point?
Regardless of the means though, I couldn‘t dispute the results.
Because Selene had shown herself. Standing in all her glory, her silver eyes analysing as she silently looked down at me.
Even from here, I could feel that air around her. The one that made me want to give myself over to her. Funny how eerily similar it really was to Cai‘s ability. The familiarity in the energy surrounding her was almost uncanny.
After a minute or so had passed, I finally managed to calm down, my heart now back at a semi–normal rate. And so I proceeded to address her directly, Selene still having remained silent this entire time.
“You know what I want,” | said to her. “Though I‘m unsure if ‘want‘ is even the right word. Tell me….what word would be best to describe the information you so negligently deprived me of?”
But her lips only creased into a tight line as she continued to scrutinise me.
“Is she one of us?” I proceeded to ask, slowly getting back to my feet. “Is she one of the original lineages descended from you?”
She paused for another moment, considering, before finally answering.
“… No,” she said, her voice almost melodic.
“But she possesses the abilities of a God?” I pressed, stepping towards her. “Because, on the possibility that Cai is telling the truth, then what she did to him is not normal.”
“…It is… complicated.”
“No,” I immediately barked back. “I told you already. You‘re going to give me the answers you owe me… or we‘re done. You can find someone else to do this. I‘m not participating in your rigged game anymore.”
Only more silence followed as she quietly regarded me, almost as if weighing up her options. And, for a moment, I wondered whether or not she really would just leave me here. Become just another number in the lives she had inadvertently ruined.
But then she finally spoke once more.
“You wouldn‘t be able to understand if I told you,” she replied. “There are things in this life far beyond what you could possibly begin to imagine. You are merely a child in a world of adults who have lived and ruled over everything since the beginning of time.”
“Then help me understand,” I pleaded. “Help me to see what I need to because I‘m not equipped for this war you threw me into. It‘s clear you need me to stop whatever triggers the end of my kind and yet you give me nothing but a mark that only made my life infinitely more difficult. I don‘t possess the knowledge I need in order to benefit you, or anyone else, in stopping this cataclysmic event. Please… help me, Selene
…. Help me stop her.”
She took another few moments to think further on my request, her silence so eerily unnerving, and, as every second ticked by, my own anxiety grew. This was my last hope. My only chance of getting the answers I needed. If she refused to intervene then I would remain lost in the dark.
“I can‘t make you understand… but perhaps I can try and show you instead,” she finally said and approached me slowly. “Apologies, child, but this will… not be pleasant.”
And before I knew what was happening, her hands then cupped each side of my face, little sparks erupting from where my skin met hers, and, gently, she brought her face in, kissing my forehead. But it was as she brought her lips down that suddenly those sparks magnified and became like searing explosions in my mind, burning it from the inside.
And I began to scream.
I could recall her doing something similar to this when she‘d brought me back to life. However, back then I had been dead. I knew now that whatever she was doing was not intended for the living. Maybe not even for those who did not possess a piece of her.
…What followed next was something cross between a vision and a burst of knowledge combined; my brain now overcome with intense overwhelming sensations all at once.
…Something that only stopped when I saw it.
When I saw it all.
A timeline of our origin, spanning since the beginning of time.
Playing out like a story in my head.
The story she wanted to show me.
A story that went like…
Long ago, well before man drew breath, the Gods ruled over everything.
Twelve children had been born to the universe and amongst the eldest, there was a girl.
The young Goddess was best known for her kindness and affection towards her siblings, caring and doting over them always, and helping them wherever possible. And, as such, she was soon given the title of “Great Mother“.
But her life wasn‘t easy. Whilst she loved and held her family dear, she had always refused to engage in any personal relationships. Her devotion and dedication to seeing her family rise in power had become something that consumed all her time and energy, and she had no desire for children of her own. And so, whilst she had become known as the Great Mother, she would soon find herself becoming bitter at the title when it became a constant reminder of the pressures she felt from her siblings to begin a family
She was the Goddess of Sight, capable of influencing the perception of what people saw. She could create value and sway others‘ minds, and things that previously might have meant nothing, she could manipulate the image in their heads to her own will, making them see what she desired them to. It made her exceptionally great at earning the trust and love of those around her, and her power of true sight also gave her a small insight of prophecy into the success of whatever ventures she set her mind to.
It was therefore with her help and influence that many years later her family finally ascended to become the Great Circle of Gods, a now aged and forgotten council in modern days. But to her, this had been everything she had been aspiring for, everything that her family had worked so hard for. Finally, they all
reigned on thrones above all else.
But as she witnessed the years of peace go by and the times begin to change, she eventually felt the pressure for motherhood become too much for her. She knew that it would be her duty to leave behind a son to succeed her on her throne one day.
Before long, she found herself wed to someone who had always been a source of support, and the two of them were united happily. The names of these two Gods, now known as the ‘old gods‘ or ‘Titans‘, were Hyperion… and Thea.
Hyperion had loved Thea for as long as he could remember and was overjoyed when she chose him as her partner. For him, this had been all he had wanted. Just a glance, a touch, a whisper of affection from the woman he revered. And he was even happier when together they produced two healthy twin children; Helios and Seiene.
Their children were unlike any others, admired by everyone for their beauty and purity. And as the twins grew, she saw how their bond became stronger also. They were almost inseparable, their lives entwined a s they both grew together. And Thea even found herself happy too, something that surprised even her as, unexpectedly, the children had become her life and new purpose.
But, as whispers of a new age were beginning, one where the new generation of Gods would look to overthrow their parents, many began to distrust even the ones they loved.
Including Hyperion, a once good man who slowly became wrought with fear and anger. Because Thea no longer needed Hyperion now she had her children, and even his children felt no need for his love as they only needed each other. Soon, he found himself falling victim to those whispers of an uprising, no longer trusting even his own family.
And, eventually, it became too much for even him.
Hyperion acted by any means possible to stop his son from ever stealing his power....
...And drowned him in the Argyros River.
Upon hearing of Helios‘ death, Hyperion was immediately sentenced and killed by his siblings for actions of filicide. His actions had only served to sow more distrust between the generations; what previously had been a source of only rumours before.
But worse than Hyperion‘s demise, Selene also learnt of her twin brother‘s death and was distraught. Her other half was now dead and her life now felt meaningless.
...And so she followed after her sibling, drowning herself in the same river that he had lost his life to.
Within a day, Thea learnt of the news about her husband and son, and immediately ran to the river knowing what Selene might do next.
…But she was too late.
Thea searched the riverbank for hours, searching for the body of her only remaining child, but soon she became devoid of all strength as she fainted by the water…
...And a vision came to her.
In the vision her son, Helios, spoke to her and told her not to mourn their passing. That they were to become immortalised in death as living worldly natures, new Gods beyond what she could possibly imagine, becoming known as the ‘Sun‘ and the Moon‘. Helios and Selene would dance forever in the sky, chasing after one another, but never to be reunited.
Thea was both enraged and devastated upon waking from the vision. Devastated at having lost so much s o quickly… and angry at, not only her husband, but her daughter too who, unlike Helios, had purposely chosen a cowardly path to leave her.
And so Thea took off into the mortal plane, no longer caring for her previous titles or polities as the call aside everything she had previously known, Thea needed a change, a new life that she could live herself But inside, she could never forget or forgive those who had hurt lioc especially her daughter and every night, it was as if Selene mocked her still as the moved across the sky, looking down at her
The world then changed, man began to walk the land and the Titans were overthrown by the new Godo, just as Hyperion had leared before his death. But thea continued to stay neutral, knowing none of 11 concerned her anymore. To her, the mortals were ohsily onchanted with her abilities and the new Gods held no qualms with her. She was therefore left in peace,
… That is until she found hersell one day back at the Argyros River, somewhere she hadn‘t been in centuries, and saw her daughter once more. In the flesh, walking on the mortal plane, No longer a child, but a woman full grown.
Thea observed from afar under the darkening sky and watched as her daughter played with live children. Five mortal children. She saw how Selene Imprinted on them, showing them the love of a mother, Something that Thea had been forcefully robbed of because of Selene‘s actions,
Night after night, Thea would return to the river and find Selene playing with the same children under the light of the moon. And she became angry, spiteful. If her daughter had the ability to take form and walk the land once the sun was set, why did she not tell her? Was her son, Helios, the same? Did they both purposely choose to abandon her?
And so she‘d finally had enough. The next night, before her daughter could come to the riverbank to see the children, Thea killed them all and left their bodies for Selene to find.
Naturally, her daughter was heartbroken as something she had cherished so much was seemingly taken too soon. Something that Selene was already familiar with given she‘d had to relinquish all familial ties to the Gods upon her ascent to becoming the Moon. Because a God of Nature could not be involved in the politics of their kind.
However, Thea didn‘t know this and only sought retribution for the pain that had been inflicted on her. She didn‘t know of the sacrifice Selene had made to uphold her position.
But, in the end, it didn‘t matter.
Furious, Selene immediately caught Thea, there being nowhere under the moon she could hide, and was enraged at her mother for killing the children she had loved.
And whilst she couldn‘t bring harm to any mortal because of the laws that contained her, those rules did not extend to the Gods.
«Thea had little experience with the new Gods though; especially a God of Nature such as Selene. Worst still, she had become so blinded by her rage and pain that she hadn‘t been able to foresee what would happen next.
Selene quickly robbed her of her godly powers… and gifted them to the five children to breathe into them new life. Thea had only been allowed to live past the War of the New Gods because of her stance to stay out of the deity affairs. By choosing to publicly oppose Selene, she was declaring herself a threat. Something Selene realised Thea would not ever stop in her mission for revenge.
But in carrying out her punishment, Selene saw inside Thea, saw her life; her history, her battles, her pain… and she knew she did not want to kill her. She pitied her mother and felt bad for leaving her the way she did, but knew she would only continue to interfere in her life if she were to leave her be.
Selene only took what she needed. Just enough of Thea‘s powers to no longer be dangerous should she turn that anger against her once more. And she used those powers on the children, now tied to Selene through their rebirth, and each possessed a quality of Thea; some being natural to all Gods, some more
unique to Thea.
One child held the ability of strength, another with influential reverence; one with perception manipulation, another with youthful longevity… and one with foresight.
But these powers were not meant for mortals and there were unforeseeable side effects, cursing the children as a result. Since they were now children of the moon, born in the night, they would become half beast. They, and all of their descendants, were to share their bodies with that of a wolf come their eighteenth lifecycle.
But Selene couldn‘t forget what had started this mess. How it had been the unrequited love of her father that had begun the chain of events that led them here. And so Selene gifted her children destined mates. Two people that would be chosen at the time of their conception to love one another. There would be no question over their sincerity for the other as she would make them feel immense joy at just the touch, sight and smell of their partner.
Immediately after Thea‘s powers were taken, she was in agony; a part of her core having been ripped out o f her forcefully. The result was leaving her to now become almost completely mortal.
…Something much to the horror of Selene as she realised she had now inadvertently applied the laws of nature to her own mother.
Thea was now untouchable to her as mortal blood ran in her veins. And worse, she retained some of her immortality. She would now be free to roam the earth until her death, something that would never occur naturally unless forcefully robbed of her.
In order to prevent Thea from stealing her powers back, Selene quickly gave the children a blade blessed by the Argyros River water and tasked them with guarding their powers. The water was imbued with the souls of both Selene and Helios and therefore had the ability to kill even Thea. It was during this moment she showed them the ritual of how to bless the silver with water; something that would later become known as silver ‘kissed by moonlight‘.
But more so than just the silver, Selene also blessed a protection on the children. A protection where Thea would be unable to directly draw the blood of any direct descendant, preventing her from ever killing them by her hand.
After the events of that day, the five powers were passed down to only the eldest of each house, the rest only inheriting the curse of the night beast. However, without the need to utilise their blood gift, many of the chosen families never realised their full potential; most possessing no noticeable trace as it laid dormant inside them.
And as the generations of children came and multiplied, they soon began to completely forget the true history of their origin altogether. They forgot the true purpose in having the abilities… and, soon, they even forgot their worst enemy, stalking them from the shadows, slowly picking them off as the centuries went b
.. Waiting for the right moment to make that last… fatal… strike,
A moment that finally presented itself when a girl was born.
A girl who would be mated to another of the direct descendants. And with only three families left, Thea was close to becoming whole once more.