The silver spear cut through her flesh with ease.
Blood splattered on the already stained clothes, soaking them rapidly. Ruby-red drops fell onto the flooded floor, dispersing in the water within seconds as if they were nothing.
As if his blood was nothing.
Brayden looked at Riannon with a sad smile on his lips.
“I told you I would always protect you,” he said as he fell to his knees. Ria tried to process what had happened when she looked up and saw the one who had thrown the spear. An internal snarl left her chest.
Roxanne glared at her from the other side of the dungeon. Breathing heavily, the little hybrid gritted her teeth. She did not mind killing her fake mate. She did not care enough about him even though they spent so much time together.
She had a bigger fish to fry. That spear was meant for Riannon. She cared about Riannon’s death. She wanted her dead more than anything at that moment in time. That woman was the source of all her troubles.
That woman took what she wanted from her, and Roxy wasn’t having any of it a moment longer.
“Haven’t you done enough?” Ria screamed at the fox while catching Brayden before he fell face-first into the water. She slowly lowered him to the ground, noticing his ragged breathing.
“This one is on you!” Roxanne hissed, narrowing her eyes. “All of this is on you! He blew up the house, not caring that I was inside! Was it some kind of punishment for you? After all, he loves to train his girls! But, with you he is so different! This madness will be over the moment you are dead! Everything will get back to normal!”
Ria scanned her face, realising her enemy was talking about Castiel. Everything was worse than she imagined. Roxy didn’t just love him. She was obsessed with him. An unhealthy, sick addiction that drove her crazy, making her break all the imaginable and unimaginable boundaries.
“Do you realise he has been experimenting on you?
” she asked, sensing life slowly leave Brayden, who tucked his head in the column for support. “He used you!
He used your siren abilities. He used you as his Guinea pig! He intoxicated you and all those other women with his fake mate scents! Now that I think about it, I bet you were a frequent visitor to his laboratory. There’s no way someone like him wouldn’t try to replicate the siren pheromones!”
“That was because l am special to him!” Roxy snarled, growing her claws. “He treated me better than anyone else!”
“Then it’s just sad,” Riannon admitted, “Because he put you under other men with ease. He never cared whether you were dead or alive in the process of his schemes. He never once asked about you while he-
“Shut up!” the obsessed woman screamed hysterically, “Who are you to judge me? You didn’t even fight for your man when he brought me to your home!”
“I did fight you the first time,” Ria heard herself saying as she felt Brayden twitch in her arms. Still, she did not regret her words.
Her secret wasn’t important now. Her reality had changed so much there was no point to hide it any longer. She no longer possessed any essential knowledge about future events. This life transpired very differently from what she had experienced prior. It was so different that no event was the same with the exception of the war which her mate now fought.
Riannon had absolutely no idea what would follow after today was over. “I lived a life where I fought for the man who was clearly wrong for me! I loved him, and I thought I could fix things between us if l tried hard enough to be perfect, to do something different. I was wrong. I paid the price for my mistake. See, you killed me. The man I practically sacrificed my love for probably didn’t even notice I was gone.”
“What kind of bullsh!t is this?” Roxy stared at her in shock, her chest heaving.
“How do you think I knew everything you did before you even tried to do it? How do you think I knew all the details I wasn’t supposed to know?” Ria gave her a sad smile. “The Moon Goddess brought me back in time. At first, I believed it was only to change my course of life.
Now, I see a lot of people needed the events to be altered. Including you, Roxanne. Look at what you are doing! You are going to have a baby, for Goddess’ sake!”
“Shut up about my baby!” Roxy looked around in search of a weapon. Anger filled her heart and soul; fury burned in her veins.
Riannon was why everything happened the way it did! Roxanne wanted to kill that woman once and for all!
She could have won. Could have fulfiled Castiel’s tasks and expectations. Riannon changed everything! It wasn’t fair! It seemed like a cruel joke of the gods!
Roxanne found a metal stick with a sharp end and decided this was qood enough. She wanted to wipe that Alpha-female from the face of the earth!
As soon as she took a step, she felt a kick to the back of her knees.
“Not so fast!” Maya growled, and knocked the stick out of her hands. Ash appeared nearby and helped her subdue the female. Regardless of the hatred they both felt towards her, they didn’t want to hurt a pregnant woman. It wasn’t who they were.
Brayden sighed, and Riannon was finally able to concentrate on him. She carefully turned him on his back and placed his head on her lap. Their eyes met at last, and there was so much understanding in his.
“Ri,” Brayden breathed, “l am so sorry.”
“lt’s okay,” she comforted, assessing where the spear entered and exited. She came to the conclusion it probably hit his heart as well. Which was fatal for a shifter. Hearts almost never regenerated. Blood gushed and she attempted to apply pressure, knowing everything depended on whether his wolf would be able to heal him or not. It did not help that the spear was silver. It was a bad sign. The situation was dire.
She remembered how Brayden purchased it at some auction for a ridiculous amount of money even though she protested against it. Ria recalled how proud he was to display it in their house.
“The joke is on me,” he tried to chuckle, but coughed up blood instead. He probably knew what she was thinking and her lips curled into a little smile.
He was becoming more and more the Brayden she used to know and love. While it did not change her feelings towards Gideon, she was glad to know she at least had not made the man up. She and Brayden weren’t meant to be; however, she hated to see him lose everything he had worked for all his life, including his own personality.
A part of her was still angry at him. She used to think this part of her would always be angry.
When he took that spear for her, risking his own life without hesitation, everything changed. Before Roxanne, she always felt safe with him.
At the distance, Roxy struggled against Maya and Ash, who tried to sustain her without hurting her too much. Their eyes met, and something crazy gleamed in Roxy’s glare as she began cackling.”At least one of you is down!” Roxy gabbled. She couldn’t stop laughing. “Don’t worry! Castiel will not leave it like this! Soon you are all going to -“
“Your Castiel is dead!” Maya interrupted Roxy’s rant, and the fox’s head snapped in her direction. They all became silent with only the sound of water dripping and splashing from broken pipes to be heard.
“You are–lying!” Roxanne stuttered in disbelief.
Maya met her gaze with ease.
“Hurts, doesn’t it?” the Beta said bitterly, watching her worst enemy finally suffer for what she did to her.
When Roxy fell to the ground helplessly, tears rolled down her cheeks, and her chest shook uncontrollably as if she wanted to sob but couldn’t. Maya realised then that the sight of Roxy in utter heartbreak did not make her any happier. It did not make the loss of her brother any easier. It changed nothing. What a disappointment.
“I’ll take her” she said to Ash, and gestured at their Alpha, who was holding her ex-husband and whispering something to him. “You stay and help them, and I will call more people to come here and finish things up.”
This time Roxanne did not struggle. She let her hands be cuffed in silver-plated handcuffs and seemed lifeless when the Beta led her away. Roxy was a shell of the person she was just moments earlier. She followed Maya as if there was no point in her fighting anymore. As if there was no point in doing anything.
By now Riannon knew Brayden was not healing properly. He knew that as well.
“lf we keep the spear inside, we might win some time and get you to the hospital,” she said, thinking of what was the best way to transport him.
When his hand caught hers, he whispered, “It’s no use,”
Riannon shook her head.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she insisted. “A good doctor might still help you. You are an Alpha, you can hold on for a long time. You will make it through-“
“Not this time, Ri,” he replied, trying to smile, but she knew it was hard for him. “lt’s okay. It’s fine. Don’t cry-“
She didn’t realise there were tears in her eyes.
Riannon tried to wipe them away quickly, but new ones appeared in their stead.
He was an important part of her life, her friend. Yes, he had made many stupid mistakes, but losing him was still painful.
Her tears now fell onto his face, and he brushed one palm over her cheek, smearing it with blood.
“I’ve been such an i****, Riannon,” Brayden confessed as he smiled, his voice becoming weaker and weaker. “l can say I am sorry a thousand times, but it would never be enough.”
“it’s all right” she sniffed, seeing how he paled as his life source continued to leave his body. His body was not healing, and he barely had a few minutes left. Sadly, werewolves were not immortals.
“It’s all right, Bray” she repeated, her tears now uncontrollably falling onto his face, “l forgive you. I really do.”
“Good.” A smile formed on his face. “At least I knownhe will take good care of you. Better than I ever did.
She didn’t understand what he was doing at first, but Brayden grabbed the spear and pulled it out of his body in one swift and immensely painful move. They now sat in a puddle of his blood which couldn’t stop gushing out of him.
Ria held his hand, the two of them looking into each other’s eyes. At the very last moment, she bent down and whispered into his ear what Onyx had just told her.
“You saved the wolf blessed by The Moon Goddess, Brayden Thorn,” she uttered, and his eyes widened, “You and your wolf will be reborn with a new life. In that new life, you will be given a mate. The one that is right for you and you alone. It will happen, and you will find your happiness.”
She distanced herself to see he was looking at the ceiling with glassy eyes. Even now, a vague smile reached the corner of his lips.
She closed his eyelids with trembling fingers and took a deep breath of air, trying to hold back her sobs. He was her husband once. He was her friend first. He was her partner for a long time. Now that man was gone forever.
In his last moment, he dreamed of his true mate whom he had never had a chance to meet. His one true desire…
“I hope you two will be happy in your next life,” she murmured, k!ssing his forehead one last time. Only then did she notice Ash stood next to her.
“Ill take him,” the Gamma offered as he lifted his best friend’s body in his hands without waiting for an answer. “Everyone else in the house is either dead or out.
Riannon followed him, trying to gather her thoughts. This wasn’t the time to be a sopping mess.
Her heart broke from the loss of Brayden, but she would be truly dead if something fatal happened to Gideon.
She already had a mate, the one who meant everything to her, the one who had never failed her, and the one for whom she was ready to do anything.
Her mate now fought an army. She couldn’t leave him.
“Maya,” she called her Beta, “Call everyone who can fight. We are going to the lycans. Now. Leave just a few people here for protection and to help the wounded. We will deal with everything else later.”
They were in cars in just a few minutes and took the shortest way imaginable to the Western Kingdom, overspeeding on their way. The closer they got, the faster Riannon’s heart beat. She couldn’t sense her mate through their bond even when they were supposed to be in range for mind-linking.
She couldn’t feel him even when she saw the battle before her eyes. Fear coursed to her soul because she could go through anything, as long as she knew Gideon was fine.
She got out of the car, taking the spear with her.
Ever since Ash took Brayden’s body, she couldn’t let go of the spear.
She knew that field. She had seen this place in the vision Onyx had shown her after her return. Ria swallowed uncomfortably, knowing this was the battle that would decide the fate of many.
All their scents were mixed, and it was hard to find the one she was looking for.
Riannon froze when she saw a man holding another man in his arms right on the hill where she had witnessed Gideon holding Reid in her dream. Everything was being repeated, and it suddenly became hard for her to breathe.
She closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she saw the man was actually blonde and not as well built as Gideon. Now that she had managed a closer look at him, he looked more like a fox. Seeing this brought relief to her aching heart.
All she wanted now was to help her people, the Union that they had formed for peace, and to find her mate.
She motioned for her warriors to join the fight and didn’t stay behind herself. She didn’t shift, using the spear as her weapon to successfully kill her enemies along the way. It helped her manoeuvre better as she continued her search. In her glowing wolf form, she wouldn’t be able to go far.
Her bond wasn’t working for some reason, but she knew there was no way Gideon was dead.
However, if something did happen to him, she wanted to find him sooner rather than later.
Riannon pierced a fox’s head with the spear when she finally foünd the one she was looking for.t However, she wasn’t sure whether seeing him was a good thing or bad.
They knew about the upcoming sneaky battle, so Kyle met the enemy forces earlier than they anticipated and attacked them first. However, the element of surprise only worked for so long. The bears and foxes brought a whole army with them. The Lycans didn’t have enough time to call everyone who was on their side in time for the battie. Most were still on their way.
Although if they were all here, there was still a risk Savvy didn’t get all the names right, and traitors could be between them. The possibility of being stabbed in the back was huge, and they all knew that.
However, lycans were strong, and soon Savannah arrived with the werecats, who jumped right into the epicentre of the battle; fearless, elegant, and powerful.
One of the best allies they had.
Gideon and Reid worked efficiently, targeting the biggest bears and killing them first, so the werewolves and cats did not have to. The Lycan King tried to uncover who the leader was, but no matter how hard he searched for one, he couldn’t find them.
Shrill screams, growls, and screeching turned into a background noise for him. Too many warriors were dying at both ends. Each time more foxes and bears arrived. The whole battlefield was a mess of blood, dirt, and dead bodies. Sometimes not even whole bodies.
“You know what we have to do,” Mars said, but Gideon snarled at his constant companion.
“No!” he refused the idea.
“G, you know what Riannon saw!” his wolf insisted.
“As of now, there is a sixty percent chance of us winning this battle. That’s a big maybe, and only if a lot of our people give their lives; however, if we let him out.”
Gideon hated to admit when his wolf was right at a moment like this.
He hoped for quite some time he wouldn’t have to do it. Now it was clear that he had to. For the men and women who fought on his side, for his little sister, who turned out to be way stronger than he ever imagined. For his beloved mate, who deserved to be a queen and would do a good job even if he was no longer around.
“Reid, Savvy, Kyle,” he connected to his family who was close, “lf anything goes wrong, I want the three of you to try and put me down.”
“No, Gideon!” Savannah was the first to react. She had the same blood in her veins and probably had the same thoughts in her head right about now.
“What do you mean?” Kyle, however, didn’t get it at once.
“Gideon,” Reid replied, also understanding what he was about to do, “lf you are decided on that, you have to do it as fast as possible. You know your beast is controlling. He will never let you get control back if he can. So, don’t let him come to his full strength!”
“l will try,” he agreed, “However if it goes wrong, you know what I want you to do. I need your words on
“I don’t like it!” his sister said. She was the only one who knew how hard it was to control the true royal lycan form.
Right now they all had to agree that he had to do it.
He had to put an end to this battle and send a message to his enemies.
“Promise me!” he growled, feeling the lycan inside him rising to the surface. He was both him and Mars, but he was also something else. Something stronger,
something bigger, something he couldn’t control well.
“I promise,” Reid said, and Kyle repeated his words.
“Gideon,” she said, “You have to come back after this! For all of us. Or at least for Riannon. She will kill us all if we don’t bring you back and your sacrifice will be in Vain,”
“l will do everything to return,” he said, and he intended to keep his word.
“Then, I promise too,” his sister agreed, and he let out a long loud growl that shook the mountains.
His bones started to crack again because his true battle form was different from his usual wolf form. It was bigger and way more powerful. His muscles were getting heavier, firmer, as if they were made out of steel, and the shape of his body changed. The wolf turned into a lycan, and for a few seconds, it seemed the battle stopped because of him. Everyone stared at him. In shock, in fear, in disbelief. There were all kinds of emotions.
When the beast that he now stood on his two feet and let out another mighty and soul-piercing growl, it was as if he had taken everyone out of their daze.
Dozens of bears threw themselves at him. They knew they would only have a chance if they attacked now, while he wasn’t at his strongest .Only if they fought wisely. Foxes tried to launch a series of smaller assaults which were like tickles to him.
He didn’t even bother to look at the little red things when he crushed them with his feet or back slapped them, sending them in the flight of their lives. Even bears weren’t that much of a threat to him. He caught them and snapped their necks with ease. Or caught two and crushed their skulls against each other. He wanted their blood; he wanted to see their death, to feel power over their pathetic lives. The beast wanted more. More, more, more.
Catch, snap, crash. Repeat. Catch, snap, crash.
Riannon couldn’t believe what she saw. She called her mate, she knew it was him. However, her Gideon wasn’t responding to her.
She knew royal lycans did not like to shift into this humanoid wolf form of a monster. She remembered how her mate told her about his struggles with control. The stronger the beast was, the harder it was to get back after shifting into him. Gideon’s lycan was one of the strongest ones that ever existed.
She wanted to go after him but some fox jumped on her. The spear proved to be useful again. Riannon had to use it a few times as she ran after her beloved. He was slaughtering their enemies one by one and cleaning the field off the rival species.
From the corner of her eye, she saw the presence of the true lycan was changing how the battle continued.
Wolves and werecats were getting the upper hand.
Gideon was now in the middle of a large enemy group. They jumped on him, trying to bite him, cut him, or do anything possible to turn the tables.
Ria tried to get to him but it was so hard in all this mess. Someone attacked her every second and her progress towards him was slow.
Before her eyes, a huge wave of bears and foxes covered her mate from her, climbing on top of him, jumping on his back, and forming some kind of a moving mountain.
“Gideon!” she yelled at the top of her lungs when she couldn’t see him anymore as that mountain fell.
She tried reaching her bond, she tried calling for him, but he wasn’t responding. It was as if he was not there at all.
Riannon did not know what was going on there but she tried to get to that part of the battlefield at whatever it cost her. Another fox, a grey one this time, sliced her back and she screamed again, falling to her knees. She twisted and managed to pierce the one who attacked her. However, a huge brown bear was there before she managed to get up. He snarled loudly and was about to tear her into pieces when a resounding roar shook the ground beneath them.
In one breath the bear was gone, his bloody head falling to her feet, and a huge black beast stood before her, his eyes grazing over her slender frame.
“Gideon,” she called her mate’s name, but he did not respond. “Gideon!” She sounded desperate, but she did not care. He looked at her as if-as if he did not know who she was.