Cassandra admired the last stroke of red varnish on her elegant fingernails. Her perfectly manicured fingers a far cry from the blood-soaked mess they were hours before. She reclined in the soft baby blue fabric of the wingback chair, as the fire burnt low in the iron grate behind her. Her yellow eyes flicked to the door as a small knock interrupted her vanity.
She called softly to the old wooden door. A faint Eastern European accent tinged her voice.
The door creaked slowly open, as a deep green-eyed man in a crisp gray suit and white hair stepped on to the parquet floor. He absently glanced around the immaculate study.
The room held a huge amount of books on one wall. On the opposite wall, a large double sashed window with royal blue curtains let through the light from a bloated moon. Marcus’s sister casually watched him walk across the floor to her colossal desk. A vast expanse of granite separated the pair as each waited for the other to speak.
“I see you’re bringing home your projects once again?”
Cassandra continued to look at her finger nails as she raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
“Not your concern.”
Marcus’s voice raised slightly in aggravation.
“It is my concern when you bring them into my house!”
Marcus had no need to look to the back wall, where a vertical diamond concrete slab held a shackled bloodied figure. A collection of weapons from throughout history circled the gray diamond shape, and the figure dangling lifelessly from his metal fastening. Blood wept from multiple slashed on his abdomen, the skin red and raised at the edges. His bruised face was covered in scratches, and his short blonde hair matted with blood. Marcus could hear the faint and irregular beating of his heart. He lived still, but for how long was anyone’s guess.
Cassandra stood up straight with her hands on the desk, and raised her porcelain chin high, exposing her diamond encrusted neck.
“This is my house too, brother, lest you forget?”
“Never my love, and you should never forget that I, was first born and the legacy belongs to me and me alone.”
“Don’t speak too soon, Darling.”
She let the threat hang unfinished
As she pushed at the enormous desk. The thick wooden legs screeched against the floor. Marcus nodded with a faint smile and turned towards the window. He enjoyed making Cassandra mad, it was one of his favorite pastimes.
“Why are you here?”
She barely contained the anger growing in her stomach. She stood clenching her hands into fists trying to fight down the urge to shift. A dribble of blood leaked through her palm and splashed onto the floor.
“We are needed downstairs dearest; one has come to our numbers, and the troubled soul needs inducting into our ranks.”
“Who found this one?”
Cassandra relaxed a fraction now that she knew he wasn’t here to taunt her.
“Jacob found him wandering about the park; he has been bitten some time ago and is still coming to terms with the gift.”
“And his sire?”
“No one from our Institute has claimed responsibility, but no matter. He will be welcomed into our ranks instead.”
Marcus flourished a tanned hand in the moonlight. Thick fingers ended with nails filed to sharp points.
“These rogues need dealing with, roaming around like animals. Do there have no decorum?”
“Savages, however, there will soon be dealt with.”
He twisted away from the window and placed his hands in his trousers pockets. He crossed the expanse of the room to the old creaky door and glanced over at his sister.
“Are you coming?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She sneered.
At the bottom of the marble staircase, the pair turned into a long corridor the led through to the back of the house and two large wooden doors with iron straps. Marcus pushed against the heavy doors, and they swung inwards on oiled hinges. The cavernous stone room beyond was occupied by a large number of people; the room was lit by a series of wall lights that stretched across the open space. At the back of the room, two heavy iron gates gave way to the night.
The congregation stood around a dais on the back wall, where a lone figure draped in fur sat on a stone throne that had been carved from the foundations of the mansion. The assembled crowd turned to inspect the newcomers and parted when there drew near. The tall man on the throne looked at the approaching siblings, he stretched his hands to either side of the dais where two similar but smaller thrones sat. Marcus took the one to his right and Cassandra to the left.
At the foot of the gray stone dais, knelt another man who had been stripped to the waist. His body was covered in patches of mud and marks, dirty black hair shadowed his face from the siblings, but despite his grubby appearance, he looked strong and healthy. The circle of people closed in again and looked to the man on the center throne.
Ivan Drognoski stroked the wolf figure heads of his arm rests. This throne had been the seat of his family’s power for over three centuries. Passed down from alpha to alpha, many had challenged the alphas through the generations, but all had failed.
The elders say that Ivan’s blood line is from true alphas. Pure, ancient and powerful.
Two of his offspring now resided at his side, again the result of the union of alphas. Marcus his Alpha heir, would sit on the throne when Ivan chose to step down and take a place as an elder. However, Ivan favored his daughter more, although he had a special place in his heart for her, she was the more ruthless of the two and if truth be told, she was the better suited to his legacy. Even so, that was for her to decide.
Ivan waited for his children to take their seats before rising to his feet. His long gray hair was tied back in a warrior’s tails and flowed against the brown bear fur wrapped around his lean shoulders. A kill he was most proud of. Few adult wolves could take down a fully grown bear and live, let alone an adolescent wolf. He had skinned the bear himself and brought back the offering to his father. The bear’s teeth now fashioned a necklace that he wore under the furs next to his cream robe made from fine cotton.
He opened his arms wide and smiled.
“Welcome, welcome, today is a special day indeed. For one has come seeking sanction in our home. A stranger yes, but soon he will become family.”
He took a step down to the cold stone floor and pointed to a few people in the crowd, each one looked down and away from his blood-red eyes.
“Each and every one of you is a part of this family, and I, am your alpha.”
He grabbed the kneeling man but the chin and forced him to look up into his eyes.
“Do you accept me as your alpha or have you come to challenge?”
The man squirmed in Ivan’s iron grip, his eyes darted from side to side trying to avoid the alphas piercing gaze.
Ivan snarled and knocked the man to the ground.
He turned and walked back up the dais and took his seat.
“What is your name boy?”
The man pushed himself to a sitting position and combed back his clammy hair.
Ivan’s lip curled slightly as the Sentinel – Jacob took a step and kicked him in the ribs.
“Sir.” He spat gruffly.
Garret held the pain with his hand and crouch over, waiting for his breath to return. He finally forced words past the pain in his side.
Ivan smiled and looked to Jacob and back to Garret.
“I understand Jacob here found you, roaming on my land? Tell me, who is your Sire, or are you just another rogue?”
“Please, sir.” Garrett panted. “I don’t know what that means.”
Anger flashed through Ivan’s body as he sprung up and flung back his furs.
“Do not play with me boy! Who bit you or do you come to deceive me!”
The congratulation cowled as Ivan’s voices slammed against the walls, the echo finally fading leaving only Garrett’s pitiful whimpering.
Ivan took the stone steps slowly once again and came to stand above Garret.
“Quite my child, all is forgiven. How could you know? When you were left to face these changes alone.”
The alpha ran his fingers through Garrett greasy hair and came to stop behind him.
He reached down and helped Garrett to stand.
“Now, you are not alone anymore.”
He walked around to face him again.
“Tonight, you will finally know what gift you have been given. Tonight, you will finally know what it means to have a family.”
He turned and pointed to the iron gates as howls filled the chamber, the cracking of bones and baying nearly drowning out his words as he looked into Garrett’s eyes.
“Tonight, you will finally know the ecstasy of the hunt.”