Zack paced back and forth the expanse of his bedroom, which was now filled with people from his pack. He didn't see this coming. His mate was not only in the most heavily guarded werewolf territory but also particularly on his bed- unconscious. How did his entire world turn upside down in one single day?
He wanted to go sit near the bed and hold her close to his body. He wanted to cry and ask her to wake up. He wanted her to know how much he missed the sight of her. But Zack held back. She was still Alex's sister. He couldn't let Alex know about Elize being his mate, although his best friend's shift changed a lot of things.
"Zack?" Alex dragged him out of his thoughts.
He stopped pacing at once and looked at his best friend.
"Yes, Alex?" He asked.
Alex looked as if he was in pain. Poor guy. He had a lot on his plate at the moment.
"Thanks for stopping me again. I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I hurt Eli in any way." He said sadly.
Alex looked as if he was going to cry. Zack walked to his best friend and patted his back, showing him that he understood.
"I know Alex. I know how much she means to you." Zack replied.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and an old woman stormed into the room, followed by a nervous Nina. She seemed to be nearing seventy, yet her sparkling green eyes said otherwise. Her plain long white gown dragged behind her and the green silk turban she sported seemed more like a crown than a piece of cloth. The woman had thrice as much energy as Zack had at the moment as she walked towards him with a determined look on her face.
As soon as he spotted the woman, Alex ran to her, engaging her in a deep hug. Zack could see the woman's hardened face turning soft at the contact. She took Alex by both his hands and held him apart to have a good look at him.
"My sweet boy. How you've grown! You're almost as handsome as Khaled when he was your age." The woman said.
Alex chuckled at that. "You just get more beautiful every time I see you, aunt Aileen."
The woman scrunched her face in protest.
"Haha, okay, grandma Aileen," Alex said, laughing.
She patted Alex on his back and looked around the room. Suddenly her eyes were on Zack, and once again her face hardened. Nina cleared her voice from the woman's back.
She announced, "Alpha, please meet the head witch Aileen."
Zack wanted to go hide underneath a bed. This woman was giving him the chills.
"You, young man! Zachariah right?"
"That's Alpha Zachariah mam," Zack replied, trying to sound
The woman laughed sarcastically.
"Ahhh! Alpha, is it? I wasn't informed about a new Alpha. Are you the son of Jebediah Ze'ev?"
"Yes, mam. Father retired and I took his place on last year's dies Februatus." He replied.
"Lupercalia. I see." The old woman smirked.
Alex looked back and forth the two, clearly confused at the underlying hostility.
"You two don't know each other? I thought this was a small place." Alex said, cutting in.
The woman called Aileen laughed. And as she stopped, she pointed an accusing finger at Zack.
"His kind killed my kind. Now the Island is divided into two parts- the East for the witches and the West for the dogs. We poisoned our part so that the mutts would whither and die if they set foot on our lands."
Nina let out a low growl in a warning and inched towards the old woman. Zack held his hand up, which quickly shut her up. Nina retreated to the corner of the room with her fists clenched.
"I'm sorry about that. But it was ten years ago. And my father apologized for that. We only divided the territories to avoid another incident." Zack's voice was clear and determined.
"Yet, you harmed another of ours today." She said, pointing towards the bed at an unconscious Elize.
"I-" Zack was taken aback. How did she know of the bond?
Alex spoke up, "Aileen, you misunderstand. It was not Zack. She fell suddenly. I was there."
Aileen narrowed her eyes at Zack "Oh? Is that what he told you now?"
Without another word, she turned and walked towards Elize. Sitting by her side on the bed, Aileen's face softened once again. She took hold of Elize's hand in hers and squeezed it with her left hand while moving the strands of hair which fell on her sleeping face with her right.
"Wake up my child. You're home." She whispered in Elize's ears.
Nothing. There was nothing. Everyone in the room kept their eyes on the two women on the bed, waiting for something to happen. Something always happened when witches were present. Aileen reached for something from inside her long sleeve with her right hand. The guards tensed, leaning forward to pounce on the old woman any minute.
'Stand down!' Zack pushed his command at his subordinates.
He couldn't risk it. His mate's life was in jeopardy. Aileen took out a bunch of dried herbs, tied together in a knot, and blew over it. It suddenly caught fire in her hands. She blew at it again, and it subsided, filling the room with smoke. She placed it on the table next to the bed and turned towards Zack.
"Clear out your minions if you hope to see them alive. In a while, the magic in her will start leaving her body slowly, seeping down the bed. Any contact to it will be fatal to anyone but a witch."
Zack sighed and nodded towards his pack members. One by one, they filed out of the room. Now it was just Zack, Alex, Nina, and Aileen with Elize inside the room. Zack could see it now. Something pale gold in color was seeping out from Elize's body. Is this what the essence of magic looked like?
Alex started moving towards his sister, like a child enthralled by the sight.
"Careful now. You don't want to hurt yourself. Don't touch her now Alex. It's going to be okay." Aileen warned, stopping Alex in his tracks.
"But why is it glowing?..." Alex trailed off deep in his thoughts.
Shaking his head, he continued, pointing towards the bed. "What is happening to her?
Aileen shook her head.
"Aileen please, I need to know what is happening to her." Alex was pleading.
"Yes honey, I know how worried you are. But you have to be patient. She is a witch who hasn't been initiated. You can see it for yourself, the magic seeping off of her."
"But why all of a sudden? I've never seen her like this." Alex said, clearly disturbed.
"Something must have triggered her," Aileen said staring daggers at Zack. She turned back to Alex and smiled, reassuring him "But don't worry, she'll wake up soon."
"What can I do?" Zack couldn't stop himself.
If this was caused by his actions then he wanted to do everything in his power to bring her back. He had to.
Aileen smirked. "It's okay Alpha Zachariah. It's not something wolves can help with. Although..." She trailed off, expecting him to very well pick up after her.
"Yes? Anything you ask." Zack replied with a determined voice.
"She's a witch you know...if she is around her kind more, she will heal quicker."
Aileen's demand tore him in half. How could he let her go? He had to make sure that she woke up fine. He had to make sure that his mate was safe. Not seeing her would kill him now. His guilt would eat him alive. Aileen was still staring at Zack with a smirk on her face. He had no option.
"Sure thing. I will arrange it for both of you to go back to the other side of the Island. My men will personally escort you back." He said, biting down on his feelings.
With that, he stormed out of the room, Nina following close behind him. Zack wanted to punch something, as he walked down the corridor. Anything.
"So how's my girlfriend doing in there?" It was Brandt. He was walking towards them.
'MY MATE!' The wolf inside Zack's body thundered.
"Bro? I asked you something. How is she?" Brandt prodded, poking Zack on the chest.
That did it. Zack punched him on his face. The sixteen-year-old went flying against the wall.
"Zack! What the hell do you think you're doing?!" Nina shouted, holding Zack back.
A couple of his pack members came running towards the trio.
"Get him out of here," Nina ordered.
Two of the men lifted a howling Brandt and dragged him away.
Mikail came forward from among them and dispersed the crowd, asking everyone to return to their work. He then turned towards Zack.
"I told you not to bring a witch into our territory! Now, look at what's happening! She got into your head too, didn't she?! Can't you now differentiate between your kind and the enemy?!" He shouted.
Zack was taken aback. What did he do?! Why did he punch a kid?! What is happening to him?!
"Mikail!" It was Nina. "You don't speak to your Alpha that way!" She shouted.
"It's okay Nina. I'm tired for the day." Zack said in a saddened voice. He was tired all of a sudden. "Prepare the transport for Aileen and the girl. You and Mikail will go with them till the East boundary."
Mikail opened his mouth to protest, but Nina nudged him on his side. He lowered his head, frustrated.
"Yes, Alpha," Nina replied.
Suddenly he heard a scream from his bedroom. It sounded like Elize.
Zack turned around and ran towards the room, the other two trailing behind him. On his bed, he saw Elize's back arch as her head dug inside the pillow while she screamed. He leaned towards his mate in desperation and extended his hand toward her.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Aileen warned from the other side of the room.
Zack looked up at her in desperation. "What is happening to her?!"
He shouted at the old woman.
Just then, the screaming stopped and Elize's body slumped back to the bed, once again motionless.
Aileen smiled at Zack. "Don't worry. It was just the pressure of the excess magic leaving her body. She's asleep now."
Zack sighed in relief. Aileen walked towards him until she was a footstep apart. S
he looked up at his face with a determined expression and said "I'm willing to retract the poisonous magic from our lands. Your kind will now be able to enter it."
Zack looked at her, surprised.
"But know that this is only because of Alex. A new wolf needs to stay with his pack. And I trust you to do your job. And let him come home in the course of two weeks."
"I-" Zack started
Aileen raised her hands demanding silence. "I'm not finished yet.
Zack's mouth formed into a tight line.
She continued, "You are not your grandfather. And I will not hold you accountable for what happened under him- precisely because I believe that you are more like your father. So if any harm comes to any of the witches while the guard is down, I will hold you accountable Zachariah." She lowered her voice so that only Zack could hear her and said "I wouldn't think twice whether you're Eli's mate or not."
His eyes went wide with shock for a second. But he quickly regained his composure. "Yes, mam." He replied curtly.
"Truce it is then," Aileen said with a polite smile.