#Chapter 1 My Wolf Leaves
You never get used to being poisoned, no matter how frequently it happens. The pain never lessens; the fear never fades. Understanding what’s happening might save you some confusion, but nothing can ease the anguish of betrayal.
I’ve been poisoned every day for eight years, held prisoner by the person meant to love and protect me most. I wish I could tell you why, I wish I knew why myself, but I can only guess. The reality is my childhood ended the day my mother died; the day my father, Garrick, finally showed his terrible true nature.
Sometimes I think the grief stole his sanity. It seems impossible that the kind, caring man who raised me could commit such brutality. I was only ten, and I have not always been a good prisoner, but I always thought I was a good daughter.
I cannot figure out what I did wrong. After all, what crime can a ten-year-old commit to deserve such punishment? Perhaps I’ve forgotten, blocked out the memory to protect myself from the knowledge of my own guilt. I wish I could do the same with the last 8 years. I would give anything to forget, to be whole again.
My world used to be wide and wondrous, full of fresh air and moonlit adventures in the forest. My ancestors, the very first members of the Nova Pack, built our city into the mountains themselves. The buildings were carved into the hard granite in intricate and elegant tiers, woven around trees and waterfalls in a beautiful contradiction of wilderness and modernity.
Outside the walls of my prison a sprawling city waits, glittering with light and opportunity. We call it Elysium; paradise. In my memories it lives up to the name, but it has been out of reach for so long I cannot be sure anymore. Now I live only in darkness, a small windowless room in the place I once called home.
I sleep more often than anything else, not that I need it. There simply isn’t anything else to do. Though even if there was something to occupy my time, I’m not sure I’d have the energy.
Garrick took no chances with my captivity. Locking me away wasn’t enough. I was too strong for him, bearing more power than he could fathom. As a child my mother’s bloodline hadn’t mattered so much, wolves only come into their full power when they reach physical maturity.
Our wolves are with us from the day we’re born, but the magic comes later. For most people the first shift happens around age 13, before that our power only really presents itself in our pack roles.
Garrick started giving me the Wolfsbane long before I actually needed it, before there was any chance of me shifting and coming into my birthright. So I reached physical maturity, but I’ve never felt the extraordinary power my mother’s bloodline guarantees.
There’s no doubt I inherited the gene; the evidence is written in my skin. One blue eye, one violet – that is the mark of a Volana wolf.
Special. That’s what everyone says. The Volana wolves are special; blessed by the goddess with unrivaled senses, incomparable speed and strength, and a profound connection with nature. Well I feel special alright; so special that even years of poisoning cannot put an end to my suffering.
I used to beg Garrick why. Why are you doing this to me? Why can’t I go outside? Why do I have to take the Wolfsbane? What did I do?
When begging failed I turned to apologies, I’m so sorry, whatever I did, please forgive me. I swear I’ll never do it again.
Begging earned me silence. Apologies earned me derision. Anger on the other hand, anger taught me there is no use fighting. The pack is going to notice I’m gone! You can’t keep this up much longer, sooner or later someone is going to come looking for me!
I still remember the way he cornered me, kneeling down and leaning so close I could smell the whisky on his breath. No one is coming for you, Selene. Not ever. You are not worth it. You are nothing, and nobody cares that you’re gone.
He was right. No one ever came.
The only thing that keeps me sane is my wolf, Luna. She lives in my weak and broken body, keeping me company through the worst of my suffering.
Lately I feel her less and less. She’s like a fading, flickering light, more and more distant with every day that passes.
I’ve begun to wonder if a wolf can die while a person lives on. The Wolfsbane can’t kill me, but what about Luna?
She promises me it isn’t possible, we are one in the same. After all, what is a person without their wolf, without their soul?
I’m not sure I believe her.
I try not to think about it, but I can’t help feeling like I’m losing her; my one ray of light in this darkness.
He’ll be coming soon. Luna’s voice sounded in my head, warning me. She can feel the coming night, and Garrick always comes after dark. It’s as if he knows the pull of the moon – no matter how distant – gives us some comfort.
“I know.* 1 murmur weakly.
Just breathe. She reminds me, It will be over fast.
*It will never be over.” I answer, despondent.
Everything in life ends eventually, one way or another. Luna says patiently, sounding farther away than a moment before.
“We both know how this story ends.’I sigh, “And it’s not with a ‘happily ever after.”
You shouldn’t her weak voice trails off, leaving only silence.
A pang of panic vibrates through me when she does not continue. “Luna?” My voice breaks, “Luna? Can you hear me?”
A shaft of blinding amber light shatters the black as the words fall from my tongue. He’s there: a hulking form framed in the too bright doorway, leering down at me though I cannot see his face. He holds the wolfsbane in one hand, a thick green solution that tastes like bile and burns like acid.
He extends the glass to me, and I take it with trembling fingers.
You may think me crazy to drink it on my own – but I’m not. Resisting Garrick means one thing and one thing only: pain. I refused in the beginning, but fighting only earned me bruises, and the poison was still poured down my throat in the end.
As I got older the physical retribution changed. As a child there was only violence, as a young woman it became clear Garrick would stop at nothing to exert his power over me. He enjoys my pain, the torture in my eyes when he gropes and caresses me, touching me in ways a father never should.
So I obey, no matter how much I hate it.
I begin to drink, as I always do, trying not to taste the vile liquid. It starts as a slow burn, a searing pain that never fails to become all-consuming agony.
It works its way down my throat, into my stomach as I finish the glass. The familiar wave of torment swells in my chest, but this time it rises too high, surpassing anything I’ve experienced before.
Something is terribly, terribly wrong. It sounds strange to say my torture should feel different, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I know exactly what Wolfsbane feels like, I know what to expect. I know that my memory never compares to the reality but..
Then I realize: Luna isn’t howling.
Not once in 2860 days has Luna ever been able to bear the poison without howling, no matter how far away she’s felt in the moments before
I reach out for her, grasping desperately for the tether linking us, but finding nothing.
A fuzzy whisper floats toward me through the abyss, a shadow of Luna’s voice. Goodbye, Selene.
My chest cracks open, releasing a torrent of despair so overwhelming my lungs stop pumping in my chest. I feel myself hit the floor, and then a strange keening fills the air as the door to my prison slams shut. Belatedly I realize that the sound is coming from me, creating a heartrending symphony with Garrick’s savage laughter.
For the first time in my life I am truly, truly alone.
I curl my arms around my knees, rocking myself on the granite floor as s**s wrench from my chest.
I shouldn’t be able to survive this.
I don’t want to survive this.
As I lay there, gasping for breath, I decide… I’m not going to survive this.
It doesn’t take much to make Garrick lash out with violence, and I know exactly which buttons to push. He might want to keer alive, but I’m not going to let him -..-