Chapter 70: Witches in the woods
“You felt them, but you didn’t actually see them? Or one, as in singular?” Sierra gazes at Colton
questioningly as we sit across from her at breakfast, something we usually share in her own suite as
she prefers it that way. Colton slides me the platter of pancakes as he shrugs her way. It’s late for
breakfast but our patrol duties sometimes push us to eat nearer noon a couple of times a week.
“Felt. Possibly just one, but I can’t be sure. I didn’t see them at all, but my eyes turned blue and I could
definitely feel their magic in the air; faint, but it was there. Just out beyond the perimeter.” Colton dishes
me some and throws me that soft smile, that translates to ‘I love you’ as he adds maple syrup to the
stack he’s given me. I help myself to bacon and dig in while his mother still stares pensively at his face.
Sierra sighs and looks torn for a long moment as we start to tuck into the pancakes, bacon and eggs I
insisted I was dying for this morning. My appetite has been huge since we started turning on a daily
basis and he’s always one to pander to my needs.
“I’m not surprised that witches have sided with the vampires, knowing what we do about how this all
began. They are the least evil in this war, even if that’s hard to believe. The wolves villainize our kind,
the vampires do not. I guess they hope an alliance means they get to come out of the shadows to live
free once more. Too many witches have been slaughtered and gone into hiding for hundreds of years.”
Sierra picks up her fork but seems like she has no appetite at the moment and twirls it in her hand
instead. Her expression is strained, and I can feel her nerves coming through in subtle waves since
Colton told her about the witches.
“What does it mean for us if they now have magic on their side?” I butt in, not exactly at peace with this
conversation as anxiety swirls in my stomach and I glance to Colton, who for once is not all that
interested in his food. He’s pushing his bacon around with disinterest as he glances at his mother. My
man is an eater, and his lack of hunger means he isn’t as calm as he has been pretending all morning.
“Within these walls, nothing. It’s beyond the protection stones of our land that we should be afraid.
Witches have powers that are capable of holding their own against small numbers. We’re a smaller
pack, an easy target. I guess it’s why we’ve had so many attacks in recent weeks. The vampires are
trying to pick off the smaller of our kind before we unite to set out on a war once again. In numbers
they’re not a match for us.” Despite her words that should instill a little confidence of our safety all I can
feel is her overwhelming sadness.
Sierra has been quiet of late, her powers growing again and spending more time studying the grimoires
of the house than venturing outside of her own walls. I know she’s pining for a mate she hates but can’t
be unbound from, and a life she lost that she can’t go backwards to. Her unhappiness has been
growing in the last months, the longer we live this way, and I don’t think it’s down to the vampire
attacks. I think her heart is grieving and with every new niggle and unrest brought up, she feels even
less useful to her pack.
“So, their magic can’t invade beyond the runes buried outside the perimeter?” Colton cuts in, his eyes
on his mom and I can tell he too feels her underlying lack of vavoom today. He won’t push her though;
he still treats her like precious glass that may shatter should he blow a little too hard.
“No. Those runes were created and buried by my great, great, grandfather under guidance of the
world’s most powerful witch. He was a great sorcerer and made sure this house would withstand magic
of any kind that was not borne within from blood. We can use ours, we can freely come and go, but
anyone else touched by spell or gift that we don’t invite in, can’t pass. I’m not even sure humans can
pass without our say so.”
“That’s something I suppose. So they can throw all they have at our walls and outside within the
boundary, and nothing gets through?” I raise my brow, finding some peace in that. The first boundary
line where the rune stones lie are about ten feet outside the village walls and our front sweeping drive.
“Yes.” Sierra seems confident in it, so I settle, glad of something at least. One less concern. We can
sleep at night, knowing nothing gets in, even if the vampires stray close. We still have to patrol though
as our power lines, telephone cables all route out with these lines and our main water supplies come in
from the west. They have been targeting those with every new attack.
“We need to reduce the distance we chase from now on. No longer use the frequency as our measure
of distance. We need to properly mark the rune boundary and forbid any of the pack straying beyond
until we know more about what they intend to do.” Colton places his fork down and frowns off outside
the large double window of the veranda, staring at the looming presence of the distant forest and
mountain as though trying to visually spot the enemy. The sun is bright today, despite the chill in the air
and the land before us looks green and luscious. A far cry from the shadowy danger we faced last
“It’s not a bad idea. Safety first. As always.” I smile at him softly, knowing that’s what he’ll do for the
good of our people and tap his plate to encourage him to eat.
“Talking of magic…. I had another dream…” Colton turns instantly invasive; his posture stiffening and
instant heavy cold fills the atmosphere around us. I flicker my eyes his way in question and surprise.
He hasn’t mentioned any dreams to me lately, so I squint at him with brewing doubts.
“When?” I blurt out, hating the thought he has kept something from me. It’s not how we are. He tells me
everything and vice versa, we have no secrets, and one hundred percent honesty.
“Last night. I figured I would tell you both at the same time and save the agony of having to repeat it.”
He glances from his mom to me and that subtle frown appearing on his brow makes me wonder how
bad it can be. Simmering my internal pang of betrayal momentarily. Colton is rarely fazed by anything,
especially not dreams, even if he thinks they may be visions of the future, so this has to be something
“Tell me.” Sierra reaches out across the table and covers his hand with hers, that gentle maternal love
she smothers us with shining through as she too senses unease. Colton sighs heavily, leaning back a
little without breaking her contact and rolls his shoulders. A sign he’s starting to get stressed and my
nerves pick up, pushing me to lean towards him. Aching for him as his emotions taint mine and I get
equally antsy as I feed from his inner despair. I reach out impulsively and take his other hand, the one
on his thigh under the table and tangle our fingers together as a way of consoling what I don’t even
know yet. He throws me a soft look, a hint of a smile and a little ‘I love you’ squint of his eyes as he
wrinkles his nose cutely. I blush in response, never immune to the faces and messages he sends my
way, even when it’s in a serious moment like this. Colton clears his throat and tenses as he exhales
with his words.
“It started out in a forest. I think, maybe the north side of the mountain. It was familiar, but not here. I
was alone…. Maybe…. I don’t know. I saw no one, but it wasn’t quiet, like I was alone. I felt like there
were others in the shadows.” He sighs again and flinches and this time his eyes start to subtly amber
out, a sign his emotions are pushing through and I squeeze his hand tighter to keep him calm. Wolf
Colton would not be great at explaining anything as he has way too much hostile in that furry form.
“Go on…” Sierra encourages. Colton hesitates, screws up his face and blows out air as though the very
words are painful, and I can feel it ebbing from him. The upset, the heartbreak and I listen intently,
holding on for what he has to say.
“I was standing still, in human form, but my hands were clawed out like I was half turned but had no
intention of fully doing so. Covered in blood even though I was uninjured, and I knew it wasn’t mine.”
“Maybe it was a past vision, we’ve been up against the vampires and had their blood on our hands so
many times these past months” I interject as his emotions start clawing at my insides, his sense of
elevated anxiety making me jittery and I wriggle in my seat.
“No, this was different. I didn’t feel like myself, I felt ……. I can’t explain, but it was like I was above and
looking at me, but it wasn’t me. I was blank… emotionless and disconnected. There was nothing going
on in my head and I tried to rouse myself to some sort of response. There was nothing but this shell of
me, going through the motions and he couldn’t seem to hear or see me, and then ….. I saw you.”
Colton’s eyes drop to his lap and he turns his head away from me shaking his head. His sadness and
pain hits me full pelt in the stomach like a sucker punch as he sees it in his mind’s eye, and I know
that’s not a good sign.
“What was I doing?” I blurt out impulsively, afraid of what he saw if it’s cutting him this way. Colton
remains silent for a long moment to compose himself and Sierra and I exchange concerned glances.
“Would it be better if you shared it with me and I can see for myself?” His mother interjects but Colton
flashes back to her with a brutal headshake.
“No!” I don’t want it in either of your heads. The hostility in his harsh response is so out of character.
“Then tell us….” I coax him, pleading to know what he saw that has him this way, while ignoring his
outburst. Colton pulls his hands away from us and runs both through his hair in agitation, leaning back
so his chair balances on only two legs at a precarious angle. I curb the urge to correct it and let him be
as he scrubs his fingers on his scalp and sighs loudly.
“You were lying on the forest floor about ten feet from me, partially concealed as though you had
crawled to hide. Human, still dressed like you hadn’t even tried to turn……. you were bleeding.” Colton
chokes on his own emotion, leaning forward sharply to place his face in his own palms as he leans on
the table, his chair slamming down, rubbing his temples then wiping a palm over his face as though to
shake what he sees. “You were looking at me, crying……. You were scared. Of me! ….. And I walked
towards you, so empty, so…unfeeling…. I could see you were hurt and yet, I didn’t seem to care or
react. And you said ‘Please…. don’t’, as if it was down to me or because of me, or you thought I would
hurt you and I woke up” Colton tenses, shudders, and then stands up quickly to shake the memory out
physically as I blanche in open eyed apprehension and Sierra frowns sternly. He stalks to the patio
doors and opens one for air and shoves his shoulder against the frame to appear at ease, despite it
being obvious he is far from it. I can feel his confusion, his pain and it renders me momentarily mute as
chaos swirls in my brain to try and dissect his vision.
“You think you were the one who wounded her?” Sierra shakes her head at me as I move to get up to
console him, telling me he needs space as she notes his eyes glowing amber before I do. He’s wound
up, better to let him get it out in his own way and I settle back down. Sometimes when he’s riled his
wolf hates being touched, even by me.
“I would never…. but why was she afraid, why wasn’t I reacting? Helping her? Why wasn’t she turning?
None of it made sense! It’s like she couldn’t turn wolf.” he’s back to pacing and I watch him with a
heavy heart, unsure what else to say as I try and decipher the dream logically. If he was half wolf in the
dream, then there was no reason I couldn’t turn. It makes little sense.
“You said not all the dreams and visions are literal, right? Maybe it’s more symbolic. Maybe it’s that you
feel somewhere inside that you aren’t protecting me enough, or maybe feeling the witches last night
somehow made you feel like there’s danger lurking more than before, and you’re scared I won’t be
safe. That you somehow are watching, powerless, while I’m hurt.” I try to explain what he described,
clutching at straws and he turns and narrows his eyes at me thoughtfully. A slight change of expression
as he grasps at reason in my explanation.
“Maybe…that sort of makes sense.”
“Sometimes they may seem like visions, but are our intentions, warning of a path we may take, and the
possible outcomes. Maybe sensing the witches has stirred up chaotic emotions and like Lorey says,
you’re dreams formed this visual to voice what those are. You’re afraid as leader you will fail against a
new threat and your mate will be left wounded and unable to defend herself.” Sierra sounds out my
reasoning to strengthen the possibility and Colton relaxes even more. Seeing some hint of logic in the
words and I guess looking for a reason to explain what he saw, that wasn’t him hurting me.
“I guess” Colton’s distracted, not fully believing even if he seems like he’s agreeing. I know him better
than that and the worry in his eyes betrays that this isn’t an answer for him fully. I did think he was a
little quiet when we woke up and he made love to me this morning, rather than crazy morning sex. He
seemed subdued before we came to breakfast, overly touchy feely and attentive. I thought he was
tired, having one of his calmer days of reflection that sometimes happens. I never knew he was
harboring all this and picking apart the meaning.
Since starting to get visions he’s found it both a blessing and a curse and often frustrated with the
cryptic confusion they can cause. They are hard to separate from dreams sometimes that have no
meaning and he has started over questioning every single night terror he has. His powers are growing,
but he feels like instead of harnessing them, they’re getting more chaotic and invasive, and most
definitely more frequent in recent months.
He’s learning to heal with his touch too, much like sierra can. He can close wounds, cure minor
sickness, not that he’s had any Guinea pigs to try for more. Wolves are all too good at healing
themselves and the children don’t often have anything serious. He’s spent time in the medic room
practicing on cuts and bruises, childhood viruses to see what he can do, under Sierras gentle hand,
and he’s pretty great at a blue glowing wave of healing perfection. The worst he has had was the odd
broken bone from a clumsy fall of a pup.
“Maybe it was just a dream, and not a vision.” I point out but Colton frowns heavily.
“I never used to dream at all…ever. Not even as a kid. They only started after I unbound my gifts.” He
shrugs in irritation and slumps back down in his seat and picks up his fork absentmindedly. I know he’s
told me this before, but it still silences me, and I stare at my food with a little defeat. I don’t know what
else to say to put his mind at ease.
“Maybe Alora’s right though, it might be that by binding your gifts, I bound your natural ability to dream
and work through your problems in the sleep state. Which is normal for all people and now you can do
it. Maybe this is nothing more than Alora symbolizing your whole world, your people, our home, me,
your responsibility, this land, and you feel responsible for it all. That in your disconnected state it was
somehow highlighting you feel overwhelmed with the huge responsibility and maybe feel that one little
taking your eye off the ball will result in your striking down your heart…your world. Which she was in
your dream. Dreams don’t have to be more than that, even visions sometimes.” Sierra must sense his
unease too and her soft smile and confident expression seem to bring him some peace.
“Yeah, my gifts aren’t exactly stable, or clear cut. I dream sporadically and nothing ever makes sense. I
thought it would be more like seeing a movie and knowing exactly what to do.” He sighs, leaning my
way and sliding his palm onto my thigh as I instinctively take his hand.
“If only. Sometimes they do come at you and with perfect clarity, tell a story. Most of the time, they’re a
mess of figuring it out and second guessing what it’s meant to be saying. When I was pregnant with
you I kept seeing a white dove, carrying a leaf….. multiple times. Never once clicked that it was
symbolic of a new life and a new path, with the purest of love. My son.” Sierra glows at that and for a
moment it hurts. To know she was denied a decade of that child’s life and now, she’s stuck here in a
mateless bond with no hope of ever being able to produce another child. Even in her circumstances it’s
forbidden for her to find another mate and it wouldn’t exactly kill the bond she has to Juan. Even if she
despises everything he has done, she still cries for the way her heart bleeds at the separation of her
bond. It’s partly why she’s driven to sadness and isolation to try and work through and understand her
own internal conflict. You can both love and hate someone at the same time.
“Maybe you’re right and I’m overthinking it. I just need to pull us all together and focus on one day at a
time. I would never hurt you, Lorey, not like that. I know I wouldn’t, so it can’t be real, or a future vision.
It has to be symbolic and we’ll figure it out.” Colton seems calmer now and relaxed and he sighs it out,
picking up his pancake with a half-smile as I lean in and kiss him on the cheek softly.
“I know you never would.” I nuzzle against him for a second as he slides his arm around me, instead of
hand holding, and gives me a hug to assure me that he’s the one person in the world who would never
do anything in life to hurt me in any kind of way ever again. He loves me and this is something
“Alpha, Luna, Rema, I’m sorry to disrupt your breakfast but I must have words with my Alpha.” Radar
stands at the open door to our breakfast room, eyes on his feet like always whenever he’s in the
presence of Sierra. Even though her being changed to Rema, or Mother of the Alpha and no longer
Luna, he has never broken the habit. As Delta to Colton, he has authority to look even alpha in the eye
so I always find it weird he can’t break this respectful mannerism for her. I guess knowing he has
always had affections for her is partly why. I think he’s too shy to look Sierra in the face.
“I’m coming.” Colton gets up quickly, hitting my temple with a kiss before sliding out of his seat and
discarding his half-eaten breakfast. He passes behind his mother and kisses her on top of the head as
he goes. This is normal for our life. He takes care of everything and always ready to jump to attention
should issues arise. No time of the day is out of bounds except our quiet time before bed.
We have an understanding that he takes care of the security, the military side, the continual running’s,
and I take care of the people’s everyday needs. Education, food, love, community. I prefer it to tactical
meetings and the ever rounding up of sentinel patrols to keep our land safe. I help with patrols when he
joins them but other than that, the security is not part of what I focus on.
Sierra watches Radar from the corner of her eye, sitting a little straighter and pastes on a warm smile
before turning towards him fully. Not that he will see it, with his eyes fixed firmly on the marble floor and
I wish he would just make contact at least once in her lifetime. She obviously likes him.
“You look well. I like your new haircut.” She smiles somewhat coyly, and Radar stiffens. A hint of pink
flush blushes over his cheek bones and it only seems to push his nose further down towards his feet.
“Thank you, Rema Santo.” Radar is curt, a little too quick with his response as his cheekbones color
further and turns with an almost relieved exhale as Colton passes him with a pat on the shoulder to tell
him to move.
They leave with him pulling the door closed behind them so we can eat in peace and not even a glance
in our direction as they disappear between the crack. I glance to her crestfallen face as she goes back
to her food, not the first time I’ve seen the slight disappointment in her brief interactions with her ex-
guard and this time I can’t hold my tongue.
“You like him, don’t you?” I smile encouragingly as Sierra’s face flames crimson and she drops her fork
with clumsy fingers.
“I ..umm, am grateful…he was my Ummm. No, I can’t. I mean, no, I do…of course, I do. He’s truly
awesome as a male, wolf, guard, type, sort of guy, um young man. Not that young, I mean almost my
age young, Ughhh………. I owe him my life. It’s just…. He’s very….. aloof. For a guy who used to
shadow me and make me feel safe.” Her blushing goes all the way to her roots, and I grin wider.
Knowing that fumbling awkward self-war only too well. Breathless, tongue tied, fidgeting insanely with
her plate and fork and unable to look me in the eye at all. The little warm spread through my heart tells
me I hit the nail on the head.
“So, that’s a yes then? …. He’s never mated up. No lovers, no girlfriends. Totally single. I think he’s
maybe just shy and you intimidate him.” I shrug, not even going to pretend she doesn’t like him. For
months now she acts like this nervous virgin type whenever he shows up, and he is hopelessly stiff,
curt, unable to formulate any kind of conversation at all and leaves as quickly as he can. I already know
Radar likes her and it wouldn’t be wholly awful to see the Rema have even some happiness. Even if
neither physically acted it out, just became friends or something. Maybe she wouldn’t be so sad.
“My bond to that……… I can’t do anything, with any male. There’s no point leading on anyone, with no
chance of a future. Radar deserves a nice femme with no complications. He’s loyal, sweet, stable, and
completely efficient in terms of protection. I would still have him as my guard should I ever leave this
house.” She turns away and stares out of the window listlessly, a little crestfallen, eyes misting with
emotion, but it only sparks a little twinkle in my mind.
“I think as Luna, I believe my Mother-in-law, the Rema of this pack, needs her own guards still. Even if
it’s to sit out in the sun and play cards. I’m sure Radar wouldn’t object to picking up where he left off a
“Don’t. I know you mean well, but Juan will never let me go, and this bond will only make everyone
miserable if I allow myself to get close to another in any kind of way.” The defeat in her tone silences
me and I know this is futile. Six months of life here, three of those seeing her well enough to interact in
the pack and she still chooses to be solitary, separate, and push away all other relationships outside of
Colton and I. Sierra is punishing herself for things she couldn’t stop and letting herself wither away in
this room at the top of the west wing. I exhale in defeat and sadness for her. My heart aching that she
of all people deserve happiness and the fates have abandoned her.
Juan can go jump in a lake for all I care. In the last months we have had little communication with the
mountain at all. There has been an occasional hemorrhage of runways head this way to find sanctuary
within our walls and we know Juan is only biding his time while he figures out what to do about us. We
don’t give him opportunity. We never stray outside our land and focus on just living our lives. Maybe it’s
because of that he’s stayed away and left us be, because maybe he thinks the prophecy was wrong
and the only rising I’m about to do has already been done in creating our small homestead pack and
our new life away from the shadow of our mountain. He’s focused on rallying his army to get ready for
the vampires and war and we seem to have fallen off his radar for the time being. I haven’t forgotten
though. My family perished at his hands, and I won’t let that grudge ever die. One day we will have our
I pull my mind back to the here and now. Realizing Sierra has stood up and wandered to her balcony
window to gaze out as the rain begins to fall and dims down the bright sun which woke us this morning.
It’s soft today, overcast now with threats of a rainy day and a little colder, but pleasant. Perfect weather
for staying inside and working on some of the details for the schoolhouse.
“Do you really think Colton’s dream is just his eternal stress finding a way to vent?” I ask her, knowing
that she would never lie to me, especially not while alone like this. Sierra and I have built a bond these
past months, almost like mother and daughter in a way. I never knew how much I needed it until Sierra
woke up so many months ago and showed me what it was like to have a mom again.
“The mind is a complex and often frustrating tool and being a seer is not always what it’s cracked up to
be.” there’s distance in her tone and I frown at her response.
“Do you ever regret the path you took based on your own visions?” I’ve always wondered but never felt
it appropriate to ask. She sacrificed so much for my life, and I wonder if she had it to do over would she
choose to not see the truth and live in blissful ignorance with her mate and son instead of losing ten
years of their lives. She stops for a moment, still as a statue and I can see her mind turning over as she
really think through my question. Her emotions stabilize and her mood brightens to an almost steel like
“No. I can’t say I do. I regret leaving my child to cope alone for so long, but he wouldn’t be the man he
is now, he wouldn’t have the happiness he found in you if I hadn’t. I would rather live a lonely existence
of truth, without that monster as my mate, than ignorance and fake happiness and the demise of these
people. Nothing about our bond was true…. It was orchestrated from the second he laid eyes on me. I
don’t regret what I did, only that I didn’t do it better and that I left myself no way to be the one to put a
knife in that monster’s heart.” She turns boldly, a hint of fierce in her eye and I nod, knowing her one
desire in life is to see Juan fall.
Adoring this woman who means so much to me now, in my life, I can’t believe I spent my entire
existence oblivious to her importance for so long. I knew she means every word and it’s not the first
time she has uttered a wish to be the ending blow to her mate. She has told Colton many times that if
she hadn’t bound us together for eternity, she would march to that mountain and Juan and end herself
for good. A true Luna, putting her people before her own life.
“One day. We’ll find a way to free us all. Maybe with magic…. Maybe the fates will figure it out for us. I
feel like this isn’t over by a long shot.” I interject to draw her away from thinking about that dark shadow
on her heart.
“Maybe…. If I could still see the future, that would help, but since I woke up it seems my son is the only
one seeing visions now. I feel like my magic is waning the stronger he gets, and I don’t know if it’s
meant to. I don’t know what that means.” Her words trail off quietly as she introverts thoughtfully and I
gasp at her words, my eyes widening, and I get up to go to her with a sickening lurch in my belly.
“Have you told Colton?” This is news to me, the first she has ever mentioned her loss of gift. This is a
“No. I will, I just didn’t want to worry him that something is wrong. Maybe it’s a natural decline of my
gifts as my offspring rises. I can’t say I ever remember if my mother’s did, but then maybe daughters
are different.” She sighs and shrugs it away as unimportant, but I can’t shift the niggles.
“Do you think maybe it’s not that at all, and your sadness, your discontent is somehow marring the
gifts? You have so much of a changed life since you woke up. It’s normal to experience some kind of
mental backlash at everyone you lost, that’s changed.” I have heard that emotional state can weaken
any kind of supernatural gift and it’s a strong possibility.
“Perhaps… maybe. I guess time will tell.”
I’m deflated by her tone, but I don’t want to dwell on things that seem to upset her. I know she can still
use her magic for the time being and I hope we figure it out before she does lose what she has.
Sierra’s magic is a gift that should be treasured. It saved us from so much and it would be wrong on all
levels to see her lose it.
“Are you really not worried about the witches in the woods?” I ask derailing our conversation and
heading back to what brought us up here so bright and early this morning. I know to Colton she said
she wasn’t, as long as we stay in the boundaries, but my gut says she isn’t being entirely honest.
“No, and yet… yes. Witches are a whole other breed, and in my time asleep, I don’t know what
changes there have been in the world. There are so many forbidden forms of dark magic that most
avoided. I can’t say I know they still do. We should be ever more aware and play it safe, more so than
before.” She looks me deadpan in the eye and I nod, a sinking wariness hitting my gut and for the first
time since our life began here, I begin to feel afraid.