Chapter 94: Dusk
“Are you sure you want to do this” Meadow sidetracks me as I make my way to the podium of our new
town hall that was only finished in recent weeks and is three times bigger than the hall of the house.
Flanked by two temporary sentinels.
“Yes. They need to know that by this time tomorrow they may not have a Luna, or Alpha, coming back.
I need them to be prepared and to know what comes after. I owe them honesty to what’s happening
after the patience for the last days.” I thought this through all night, tossing and turning once we set the
plan in motion and decided tomorrow at dawn we are to move on the mountain. This will be our last
night with the pack and with that fog surrounding us. Last night I watched my mate slide away in the
darkness from me for the last time and said my goodbyes, just in case.
Leyanne is certain she can protect us one by one from the effects of the green smog, with the casting
of a spell on every wolf that we’ve rallied to fight. She plans on splashing us all with some kind of potion
after they all turn, so it’s effects won’t be lost. Minus me. I’m to stay human and there’s not much we
can do about that.
Twenty-three of us in total, handpicked from our strongest and have been sworn to secrecy until now. I
realized in the night that these men and women shouldn’t have to lie to their mates and loved ones
when there’s a chance it’s the last time they might see any of them. I want them to value tonight,
cherish each other, and be prepared for what’s coming.
Colton said we would always be honest with the pack and I’m not doing what I agreed if I don’t tell them
what’s to come. It’s an oath he swore the night he made me his Luna, and I won’t let him down by
breaking his word. They know something is brewing and that we are working on a way to clear the fog;
they have waited for news and put so much trust in me, and I’m about to tell them everything.
Sierra is already on the podium waiting for me, after assembling many of the able bodied here and
those without children in tow, and it’s weird to see her out among the people in this way. She has spent
months in solitude, hiding away and saying she wasn’t ready to be among them again. I guess after
leaving her to watch our home for two days she had to force herself out of her comfort zone to face
them and hasn’t reverted back to her wing since. She’s been part of every decision and plan, our
makeshift task force of women as we agree on the fate of our people. I don’t know what I would have
done without her, Meadow, Leyanne, and even Carmen. Who knew that the once proud and arrogant
pack of Juan Santo, the most sexist wolf alive, would be held together and run by femmes. There’s
poetic justice in that somewhere. Those he considered too weak to ever thwart him, to rule him, and yet
it was women who have ruined everything he held aloft. Even now he’s enslaved in fog, much to the
thanks of unknown witches.
I step up and smile at her, meeting her eye for a little push of bravado, nerves cloying at my throat as
the eyes of dozens and dozens land quietly on me. I inhale to steady the anxiety coursing through my
veins, take her hand and gently squeeze it to tell her I’m ready and I’ve got this.
These people rely on me and have done since the fog came and I don’t want to let them down
anymore. I feel like I’ve done nothing so far to really help them through this, even if I did go off and
bring back a witch.
I clear my throat and step to the microphone that’s been set up to face the bodies crammed in here,
catching Meadows eye across to the left and the looking out over the sea of faces slowly. I spot
Leyanne and Carmen standing right at the back, on chairs, side by side, so they get an unobstructed
view and Carmen gives me a thumbs up, encouraging me in her own weird way. I clear my throat and
focus on the faces below me, shivers running through my soul; but I bite down and show them the face
of fierce I know I still possess.
“Thank you all for coming here on such short notice. I know not everyone can fit inside, so I ask that
you spread this news among your families when I am done, and we share my words so all can hear
them clearly.” My hands tremble, exposing the cold fear in my heart, and I grasp the cold metals stand
to hide my lack of confidence. So not used to standing up and commanding an audience the way
Colton can. Somewhere deep inside, I’m still that orphaned no one that this pack paid no attention too
and I feel like a fraud, standing up here in the absence of him, to tell them what to do. “As you know, a
little over a week ago a green mist covered our land and took several dozen of our pack with it.
Enchanting them in a spell that seems to have turned them mindless and feral. We all know they stalk
the border, and the vampires are behind this maneuver, shielded by our own and using them for their
own purposes.” There’s a murmur among some of those near the back as people voice suspicions,
conspiracies and I even here Juan’s name on the flutter of noise. Sierra claps her hand to bring quiet
once more, glaring with a commandeering edge, snatching attention back and they simmer back
respectfully. I swallow heavily, take a deep breath and continue.
“I know by now that some of you have learned that I left the homestead for a couple of days, to bring
back a witch… Leyanne Cruden…” I nod towards her at the back and there’s a deathly hush as a few
eyes turn her away and back again quickly, as no wolf has been brave enough to really look her in the
eye since they found out what she was. Some guessed at the arrival of this stranger, but we have
never really clarified any of these details and just let rumor spread. Too focused on everything else to
open up to them and I feel ashamed that I waited until now.
Wolves still fear witches, even though they accepted Sierra, but seeing what the fog has done, only
renewed that terror of their kind. The unrest grows and I taste the wave of increasing anticipation and
anxiety among them.
“We brought her back with a plan to break the spell and free our pack, but it’s not as straightforward as
we hoped. So this is why I brought you here. To prepare you in case the worst should happen, and our
plan should fail.” I inhale heavily, voice beginning to rasp as my emotions get the better of me, my
stomach churning my hands trembling, but I know this is the only way and verbalizing it somehow
makes it more real. “Tomorrow morning, two dozen of our strongest are planning to mount an attack
and head for the mountain. To give the witch access and time to get to the source of the spell, and
disable it. She needs to physically get there, and we need to offer distraction to ensure she can. I’m
telling you because two dozen us are not five dozen of our warriors, and several dozen vampires we
know reside in the mountain. There’s a high chance that some of us may not come back even if we are
successful….. I may not come back. I’m weakened by something, and I won’t be able to turn to fight as
one of you, but I will still lead the battle. As Luna, my death will be the Alpha’s death and as our pack, I
need you to be prepared to carry on without us. The Rema and I are linked, so she too won’t be here to
carry on should I fall. In one loss, you would lose all three of us.” the gasps and horror that
reverberates through the crowd ring out painfully, suffocating me with their emotions and almost
causing my head and chest to explode with the sudden rush. I have to dampen my gift as my heart
swells painfully, and my eyes and ears sting with the incoming distraught feelings of many. I step back
to give myself a moment to catch my breath as a lone voice calls out boldly.
“The Luna should stay with the people… we need you. Protect the Alpha and Rema by being with us.”
It almost breaks me, but I shake my head and almost cry as the words burn my throat. Knowing that’s
the path they would expect, and no one would look down on me for it. I know that it’s not what is
needed to be done and the fates brought me here to this for one purpose.
“I’m the strongest left here, with the most useful gifts. Without me the mission has less chance of
success and our pack will certainly perish out there. I’m sorry, but if there was another way, I would
take it….. but there isn’t. I have to be your leader and do what’s best for the pack. My mate would
always put his life on the line for you and I should do the same.” The words are killing me as eyes
round and faces pale as my words settle in, and I realize tears are starting to roll down my face. The
inner heaviness consuming me because on some level, I feel like I’m abandoning my children, and this
feels like a goodbye. Terror gripping me coldly that I am truly leading them to their death by leaving
them alone to continue without their anchors in life. A pack without an Alpha, nor a Luna, is a pack
without it’s soul.
I curse myself for not being as strong as Colton, for not being able to push my fear behind the mask he
wears so well and shows them an unbreakable face. I’m not him, and I can’t hide what this means for
them if I fail.
“Then take more of us…. we outnumber them as a pack, even without our strongest. It’s our duty to
protect our Luna, for the good of us all.” Another voice calls out and then another with the same
sentiment, and I raise my hands to quiet the growing noise.
“No. I can’t risk more lives than I have to… you all have a chance at a future without us if I don’t come
back. This is what must be done. There are vulnerable here. Children, pregnant femmes, and older
wolves who need to be protected. I will take only those who can fight and stand a chance of surviving. I
won’t leave you without means to have a future.” My voice breaks, a burning ache in my throat
strangling me as my hormones spiral and I end up wiping my face to try and calm my unstoppable
tears. I have no verbal way to express to these people how much I care about them continuing without
us, should that be needed. I love all of them and see them as our legacy, to carry on when we’re gone.
These are our pack, in our homestead, and we must ensure their survival beyond this fight.
“This isn’t how packs work, Luna.” A male voice echoes my way from the left and I turn to see Tom, the
sentinel who helped us leave, stand to voice his own opinion. Keeping his eyes downcast to show me
respect but his words are clear. “We protect our Luna in the absence of our Alpha… we stay together,
to survive together. That is our nature. Without our Luna, there is no pack. She’s the heart that keeps
us as one…. look at the mountain and the years we grew apart without one. Our people divided by
names and bloodlines until we shunned those we should have sheltered. We lost our way without our
heart….” Tom’s voice carries boldly through the suddenly silent room as Sierra stifles a cry behind me
and her guilt and regret at what he’s saying almost end me. Ebbing my way as her own shredded heart
bleeds at abandoning them to Juan’s fate and only makes me worse.
“I won’t sacrifice any of you. We’re doing this in the hopes we break the spell and come back to the
mountain with our pack and our Alpha. So we can fight to rid ourselves of the vampires, together.” I try
to stay firm, push back the feeble tears and find that inner courage I know I possess.
“And how will our Alpha feel to know that when our Luna needed us, we stayed behind like cowards?”
another call out, another male, and I falter as I try to find the new voice in the crowd, beginning to get
overwhelmed. I feel like I’m losing control of commanding them, even if their words are not against me
“He will know I commanded it and you’re to obey me when he’s not here.” I stammer the words, Sierra
grasping my hand from behind to support me and I spot Meadow from the corner of my eye, sliding to
sit down. She must have stood to come to my aid and quiet those disrespecting me. She should be
hushing those calling out, talking out of turn, disobeying my command, but I can tell she knows they are
not doing it with malice and she can’t answer them. She agrees.
“We can’t obey our Luna when it directly endangers her life… it’s against all we are.” This femme is in
the front row, young, bold, and stares me right in the eye with passion despite knowing she’s stepping
over the mark and breaking the rules. “You’ve been our rock since you came here. You held us up and
stood by his side to keep the people safe. You’ve worked to build the school, the village, the security
and sanity of all of us. You care about us and it shows in your people…… How can you ask us to sit
back and watch you walk into the fire after all you have given us?” Her words completely choke me,
and I open my mouth to reply but nothing comes out. I don’t know what to say or how to reply when my
heart is bleeding from such raw wounds.
Months ago, I was nothing to these people, and here they are, trying to convince me that they need
me, that they want to stand with me to fight for our pack. I can’t take this, it’s too intense and I am
starting to crumble. I’m no leader, this is proof right here, as I falter and break because my pack decide
to disobey me. I have no control over what they choose.
“Don’t make us disobey you, Luna, please….. we don’t want to dishonor you. We all respect you to the
moon and back, but the Alpha he would never see us worthy if we stayed and you went. We belong by
your side, as one pack.” It’s one of the midwifes, pushing through the crowd towards me and one of the
few of our citizens that has the right to look me in the eye. I have talked with her many times over the
months to improve the facilities for birth and the care of newborns, and even witnessed a few under her
attentive hand. She’s someone who works closely with me when needed and I know her words are
from the heart.
“Most of you are not fighters…. You won’t survive. You don’t know what it’s like to come up against
them.” it’s my last-ditch attempt to make them understand the dangers, the almost certain death for
many of them, and it’s as feeble as it sounds. My body vibrating as I cling on to my last shreds of sanity
and composure knowing the crowd is against me as the noise begins to grow form hushed whispers to
“We are more in numbers than they are… we can use that to our advantage, and if some are lost, it’s
for the good of the pack.” It’s an elderly wolf, near the last phase of his life cycle. One who has seen
many things, endured many battles, many wars, and his soft gaze warms me painfully. “A pack is only
a pack when we stand and die together, Luna….. Protecting our previous Luna was denied us and for
almost a decade we failed her. We won’t stand back and lose you both and do nothing but watch. We
as Santos have to redeem ourselves for the things our alpha did in our name. Juan dishonored us and
ripped our pack apart; we came here and we began to heal, to bond again….. don’t take that from us
again by making us fail when it matters.”
A sob escapes my lips and I have to cover my mouth with a desperate move to control myself.
“Give it up, Luna…. listen to the people. I doubt you can stop them being ready to battle at dawn.
Wolves are known to be headstrong when riled. You of all people should know that.” Carmen this time,
echoes out from the back in that snooty and superior tone which rings true, and I stare at her through
watery vision while I shake my head. She knows this isn’t what I want, but it seems she too thinks I’m
wrong. Ever bold in saying what she thinks, never beats around the bush.
Meadow is silent, Sierra too, and the will of the people are deafening me even in their sudden silence.
I’m defeated. I can feel the rebellion around me, that despite seeing me rightfully as their Luna, they
are refusing to follow this one command. I know I won't stand a chance ion changing minds, all I can do
is make a request. Hope, they listen.
“I won’t lead you to death…. but I can’t stop you coming. All I can ask is that you be smart. That you
think about your skill set and the ones who need you here. Femmes, children, mates… that if you show
up to come with me, you know you might not return. Don’t come if you know you won’t survive it. Don't
be a martyr and give your life in vain. Future is as important as the fights we endure today.” I have no
other way to try and persuade them and I’m grasping at straws, wishing to god Colton was here. He
would know what to do, what to say, and god, he would alpha tone them if they continued insisting on
this stupid plan. He would never let the word of the pack out rule his decision this way. He would
literally make them tremble if they dared question something he ordered. But then, Luna is not Alpha,
and her will is soft and gentle, not borne from being a seasoned warrior. Isn’t that why they rule as one.
“I know it wasn’t the plan, Chica, but with the numbers…… you can’t deny it swings things in our favor.”
Meadow’s caving too, seeing the way the packs swaying to protect me, and she can’t argue with it
because she never agreed to me going in the first place. Tears rolling down my face as I scan all the
lowered heads and try to blot out the sea of emotions invading me from all sides. I can no longer tell
what’s me and what’s them but it’s draining and I’m suddenly too tired to keep fighting. I want an end to
all of this.
“I’ll be by your side. I’m not staying here…. if you die, I’m dead anyway.” Sierra shocks me from behind,
her voice stable and strong and a hint of fierce I haven’t heard from her before. I spin on her, instantly
aggressive in my refusal, forgetting everything else when my world comes crumbling down..
“No.. No!!…. Colton would never forgive me, I will never forgive me, for putting you in danger….. You
stay here. You belong HERE! No way, Sierra, you don’t get to disobey me too. Not on this. Never!”
From low and wounded to sudden harsh and commanding, my tears increase tenfold in sheer pleading
and I gawp at her in terror.
Sierra catches my hands and pulls me to her, hushing me as subtle hysteria begins to take over. My
lungs constrict in panic at the thought of my adopted mom being out there, among that, fighting her
own, getting hurt. Even a scratch, a tiny knock, and it would slice me to a million pieces. I know our
lives are bonded but it’s not computing in that way in my brain right now.
“Alora listen to me, you can’t turn…. Your gifts are weaker… I can feel it. I know each day they dwindle
more, you can’t hide it from me. I can heal you if anything happens, I can be your safety net….. let me
be that while my son can’t.”
“No.” the floodgates open and the emotions spew out, borne of anxiety, the panic immersing me
painfully as Sierra tries and hushes my obvious distress. Pulling me to her warm embrace in a hug, her
fingers to my face to softly push my hair back, but I fight to stay locked on her eyes and not back down.
“We have babies to protect and a son to bring home…. We’re not ready to die and I am NOT leaving
my baby out there any longer in the cold dark world without me. I did that for too long, its time I was his
mother and brought him home like I should have done ten years ago.” Her voice stern, her manner
strong. Sierra is different from how she’s been these months and has seemed to have found an inner
fire. I don't care though; she won't be coming with me.
“Your pack is with you, you have no choice, Luna.” Tom invades the podium and rests a hand on my
shoulder, bringing my attention back to the front and the sight almost ends me. Wolves crowding closer,
tears in their eyes as they huddle together, holding their loved ones and nodding in agreement. The
room crowding as those who have been linked of the news push in to show they too offer their support.
Space filling until not a tiny inch remains, and bodies are crammed out and spilling into the village
around the doors.
A hum vibrating through the room and a feeling of unity and acceptance. They’re willing to sacrifice all
for the good of the pack and tomorrow we won’t be two dozen running into the forest, we will be
hundreds, whether I want it or not. This is no longer something I can control, and the fates are telling
me to let it go. This fight isn’t mine alone, and I’m not alone. I haven’t been since the day I bonded to
Colton and these people became my blood.
“Rest, go home, prepare, decide. Only show up if you won’t hinder and only if your loved ones agree.
First sun, be at the tree border behind the west rune line.” Meadow calls out, dismissing the crowds
knowing I will only continue to fight it, and the silence falls heavily as the realization hits everyone that
this is really happening. Tomorrow we do something I never thought I would ask of them. We leave the
safety of the border; we face off our own, and we mount an offensive on the vampires who have
overshadowed us and caused fear to live in our souls for the past six months.
God help us, I hope the fates are paying attention because I could sure use a little help.
They start to shuffle out slowly while I stand like a broken child in Sierra’s arms. Overwhelmed and
frazzled as my mind finally stops trying to take everything in and I just watch. I have no words left,
nothing I can say to sway them. My heart heavier than it's been in a long time, as they go, one by one.
Every wolf at the door turns, looks towards me and with a low bow, utters one word.
They then lower eyes to their feet, before turning and leaving. I’m so touched and beyond
comprehension at this sign of respect that I don’t know how to react except to stand and stare at every
face that honors me and leaves. I want to memorize every single one, just in case. While every bowed
head and uttered word tears and claws at my insides so that I cover my stomach instinctively and
cradle it protectively. Sniffing, gulping in ragged breaths because I’m too consumed with too many
emotions to be able to separate them out.
“And here you thought you would never be part of a real pack or a family…. yet here we are.” Meadow
glides up beside me and slides an arm around my waist to help hold me up as I breath out the painful
truth. Taking me from Sierra gently.
“Most of them will die…. We’ll lose them.” The breathy words stick in my mouth like peanut butter,
sliding out in woe, and I have to struggle past the agony to get them out at all. Knowing I shouldn’t think
it, but it’s the truth and I have to be a realist.
“That is their choice…. you commanded them, they have every reason to stay and obey and nothing
would happen to them. It’s not what they want.” Sierra interjects, still holding my hand and we patiently
stand and watch every single wolf wait their turn to leave with a bow and respectful utter before walking
“Next time I lay eyes on most of them, will be at the rune border… What will Colton think if I let this
happen?” I despair still, unable to let it go, imagining his heartbreak that I let his people suffer, but
Meadow is the one to calm me with her logic and reasoning.
“Do you really think he would object to the pack coming together to protect you. He loves his pack, but
he would always put your life first. You’re everything to him, and more now, even though he doesn’t
know…. He would do exactly this if this was his decision to make.” Meadow moves her hand and
smooths over my flat stomach, eyes misting over as her chin drops so she can gaze at the life we all
know is in there.
I stare down at my stomach and try and pull myself together, knowing she’s right. Colton always
protects me, uses the pack to shield me when he thinks I need it. That’s what packs are meant to do for
the Luna. It’s why she has her own guard when our world is in turmoil. The Alpha is the warrior, not the
She’s the heart, hidden behind the rib cage and shielded in the warm, while the alpha, he’s the fist.
Driving out front to lead the way. The pack, they’re the body… joined, connecting, working as one, but
they get behind the fist and they always cover the heart.
The shaman’s words finally make sense to me. Words he uttered so many months before when he told
me what my place in the pack was meant to be. Care for the people, listen to them, be the arms and
the safe place. I finally understand what it is I am meant to be, and it was never a powerful force to tear
down armies of vampires. The prophecy once said that I would conquer with love… not war.
Yet I know that tomorrow, love won’t keep them safe. And I am not ONLY a Luna of the Lycanthrope.
Now they’re mine. But I’m not going to let them down, not now they bound their lives to my own fate.
Tomorrow I will lead, I will be the fist, even if it’s not what I was born to do. I will take his place and
make him proud of what I can be. I know it’s in me. After all, am I not a princess of one world and a
Luna in another. I’m royalty, either way, and I was given these gifts for a reason. I was given my eyes,
my power, and my story, so I could be more. I’ve been sheltered for far too long and it's time I stood up
and put an end to this, like they said I would.
I only hope to the fates we do this swiftly, and safely, and I don’t have to bury any of them at the end of
the day. I’ll protect myself, my children, my people, and I will bring my mate home.