He hadn't expected that reaction from his father. The man looked ecstatic as he received the news of his engagement. Although this happiness came from a lie that Khalid didn't bother correcting, it made things easier for him. As far he knew, wolves had their mates among humans and other creatures of magic apart from other wolves, though it was quite rare. He had subdued their curiosity by promising to let them meet his fiance at the upcoming festival. Khalid hoped that there wouldn't be an issue when they told them that the one he intended to marry was Fatin.
Their small community included a few humans, air elementals, and werewolves. Tasked with the protection of their city, people, and their dying religion, the wolves commanded and guarded the hidden area. For centuries, Khalid's family did this task while helping out the elementals to maintain the temple of Al'lat. Now that the goddess's festival was coming up, the security was to get heightened. It was the only time of the year that they let her human worshippers enter the hidden city and its mighty temple. With it came the risk that their enemies could breach the borders of the hidden city.
Generations had passed since vampires destroyed the Palmyra of the old, acknowledged by the Nabateans lovingly as Tadmur. The city's destruction had seen the death of thousands of Nabateans, irrespective of them being humans or not. Consequent attacks on the city by others had razed it to the ground. Homeless and in hiding, their people waited for the right time and place to rebuild their city. This time, they were crafty enough to keep it hidden from the eyes of the public. Their existence faded into a myth, letting them live in peace while in seclusion.
Their enemies, the vampires, hadn't stopped searching for them. But the city was well hidden. Manipulative as the creatures were, they were quick to latch on to humans greedy for power to help them in their search. But humans were hard to get convinced, especially when it came to the existence of the supernatural. So far, they weren't able to launch a full-on attack on the city, though, over time, there had been one or two breaches. Khalid looked on as some of the elementals were busy constructing a second wind wall, close to the one that marked their boundary. He hoped that this was enough. But if it came to a fight, then he was ready to put out a good one.
"Khalid!" He heard a familiar voice call him from behind.
Khalid turned around to see one of his pack members jog towards him with a bright smile on his face.
"Oh, hey, Sayf." He acknowledged his friend with a nod, returning the smile.
"I heard you're getting married," Sayf said, poking him on his arm teasingly.
Khalid shook his head. When his father told him that he'd inform the pack, he didn't know that the news would spread this fast.
"Yeah, well, that's the plan." He said with an awkward shrug.
"Aren't you going to introduce her to the pack?" Sayf teased, wriggling his eyebrows.
Khalid laughed, shoving his friend teasingly. "Soon, at the festival." He said with a wink. "Speaking of which, how are things going?"
Sayf was in charge of training the pack. Khalid knew that if he were to become the Alpha, he'd make Sayf his beta. Although he didn't have many people who he could open up to besides Fatin, Sayf came the closest to the category. He knew that he could depend on him for anything. But even this friend of his didn't know about his love interest. Fatin was, after all, the high priestess's daughter. She was next in line to becoming the priestess. A union such as theirs was unheard of and scandalous. But for Khalid, it meant a stronger community. Though his friend was trustworthy, he hadn't mastered the skill of putting up a wall while using the pack's mind link. Hence, if Sayf knew anything, it was like the whole pack knew about it.
"So far, everything looks good," Sayf said with a thoughtful look. "The priestess is unwell. So, the sacrifice will be headed by Fatin in all probability."
"Fatin?" Khalid asked in confusion.
He didn't know whether it was bad news or a good one. They were supposed to break the silence on their relationship on the night of the festival. He wondered if it would be ideal for her to be put in the spotlight like that.
"Yeah." Sayf said, dismissing the thought, "Anyway, there was something else that I needed to talk to you about something important."
Khalid watched his expression shift into a serious one as he looked at him. Sayf was not one to worry about small things. So if he was worried, then something must have gone wrong.
"What is it?" He asked, raising his brows in concern.
Lowering his voice, Sayf said, "I heard rumors of a committee getting formed under the French state."
"We have no relation with the state. What's there to worry about?" Khalid asked with a shrug.
"It's the vampires," Sayf said, looking around nervously. "One of our boys saw them with the French troops discussing something about Tadmur."
"Why would the French believe in the myth of the hidden city now after all these years?" Khalid asked, his brows creasing in worry.
"I have no clue. But we should stay alert." Sayf said with determination.
Khalid thought for a while before replying. He was right. if there was a possibility of a threat, then maybe, they should add another wind wall, he thought to himself.
"Hmm, you're right. Did you tell father about this?" he asked, with a sigh.
"No, not yet," Sayf said.
"Good. Don't access the pack link till I tell you to, okay?" Khalid said, patting his friend's back. "Let's not worry the Alpha about such trifles. I will be taking the position from him soon. I think it's fit for me to take care of the pack business from now on."