Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Greenhaven, there lived a pack of werewolves. Their numbers were many and their lives were prosperous, despite the human settlements that had sprouted up in the valley beneath. The woods were their refuge and the mountains their home. Among these werewolves was one family in particular. It wasnt a very extraordinary onemore like any other. It had seven children, all sons, and a mother and father. Two of these children were grown to manhood already, and were looking throughout the pack and the surrounding area for women to take as mates.
It was a fine summer day when the younger of the two grown sons stumbled upon a beautiful woman. Her hair was as shiny as dark silk, and her voice as melodious as the birds in the trees. He felt himself instantly entranced with this mysterious lady, who, she said, came from a faraway land where her family had been hunted to extinction. She was seeking a place of safety, she said, somewhere to start over. Henrik, being the poor smitten young man that he was, took her home with him to meet his parents and the rest of the pack.
As they approached the den, the mans mothers eyes narrowed in suspicion. She knew better than to trust beautiful women, being one herself, and sought the council of her grandmother, the packs witch woman. Lilias was an old, wise woman, and at the request of her favorite grandchild she went with her to meet the stranger Henrik had brought home.
The old witch and the young woman, who was called Sarha, faced each other across the short expanse of ground, the elders eyes boring into the younger female. There was something about her
She leaned into her granddaughter.
Freya, she whispered. That woman will bring this pack nothing but trouble.
Freya looked at her besotted son and the mysterious woman with growing unease. Her sons attention never seemed to leave the girl for long. Before she could speak to repeat her old grannys words, Henrik spoke.
Id like Sarha for my mate. Ive come to bring her to you. I hope youll like her as much as I do. He managed a smile, but Freyas gaze upon Sarha quickly dimmed it. The young girl met the beta females eyes defiantly, and Freya took a step forward with a low growl.
Freya, Lilias spoke up again, and she turned to look at the old woman. Dont. Shes a witch.
Silence hung thickly in the air. Freya stepped back, and Henrik tore his hand from Sarhas and stared at her in surprise. The look said it all, though he didnt speak. There was nothing to be done about it now, though, in the presence of his mother and great-grandmother. She spoke quietly to him, and he retook her hand after a few moments.
You cant bring her here, Freya finally said. The pack doesnt need another witch.
But if she was just my mate
He shot an imploring glance at Lilias.
No, Freya snapped. She stared at her son, arms folded across her breasts, expecting that to be the end of that.
Ill take her to Eiric, then, he replied calmly, and watched Freya step back as if struck. He was the shy one, the quiet one, the last one any of them wouldve expected to defy his family.
So he took her away from his mother and great-grandmother to meet the alpha pair. Eiric initially shrugged her off, but a few whispered words from Lieke had him shaking his head. They were not so short of women that they couldnt afford to let one go, and so he refused Sarha admission to their pack.
They walked through the forest as the sun fell down behind the mountains, stopping under a large oak tree. Henrik was torn. Here was this beautiful, mysterious woman that had stolen his heart. In her he saw no flaws, yet she had been completely rejected by his family. He hadnt forgotten Lilias whispering to Freya, or Liekes to Eiric. A witch woman. Sarha was a witch woman, something she had neglected to tell him.
The warm pressure of her hand drove those thoughts from his mind, and any suspicion he might have had of her melted when he gazed into her dark eyes. She was so beautiful, so exquisite, so mysterious, and when she wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered for him to make her his, he couldnt refuse. A voice that sounded an awfully lot like his mother whispered in the back of his mind that this was wrong as he slid what clothing she had away from her body and tossed it aside. Kissing her was like nothing he had ever felt before.
Take me, she whispered. Take me.
Henrik didnt need telling twice, and as he pulled her against him the distant rumble of thunder growled across the sky.
Freya paced back and forth across her grandmothers den, toying with a necklace that appeared to be made of bones. She was nude otherwise, and stalked the den like a restless cat.
It just doesnt seem like him! She protested. To just meet a woman out of the blue and bring her home the next day? No one falls in love that quick. And he wasnt even listening to us, Granny. Did you see the look on his face?
I saw, Lilias replied from her seated position near the fire. The old womans hands were full of yarn and needles, and she didnt glance up at her restless granddaughter. Maybe hes just at that age. You remember how you were with your mother. The old womans dark eyes locked with Freyas blue ones, and it was the younger woman who looked away first.
That was different, Freya said, frowning. I dont know how but that was different. Ma and I always fought. It wasnt like our spat over mating was anything new. Henrik
she trailed off. I dont trust it.
A stroke of lightning split the sky, followed by a growl of thunder. Both Freya and Lilias turned to see the western horizon edged with dark, rolling clouds. A chilly wind whipped through the den, bringing the scent of rain.
Shut that curtain, Freya. Freya was on her feet before the words had left Liliass mouth, drawing an old bit of cloth over the mouth of the old womans cave. She took a seat beside her grandmother and stared at her in silence.
Lilias set her knitting aside and folded her hands in her lap. You want to know why I told you to reject her, the old woman remarked. I cant tell you the whole reason..but
there is just something about that girl that smells wrong. I cant quite explain it.
Shes a witch, like you, Freya said, softly.
Yes, Lilias agreed. A witch with no family and nothing to lose. A dangerous commodity indeed.
Do you think she might be using my son? Freyas brows drew together, and it was clear she had thought such herself.
Perhaps, Lilias answered. But it wasnt malevolence I saw when I looked at her.
What was it?
Doom, Lilias murmured, as the lightning flashed again. Doom for your son and his family. Our family.
My son, Freya repeated. My good son. A finger of cold stabbed into her heart, and it fluttered with panic. Henrik. Where was Henrik? Whats happened? Whats going to happen?
That isnt helpful! Freya snarled, agitated. Thats my son out there, Granny! Do you think shes going to do something to him?
Lilias watched her granddaughters temper rise impassively. I think she already has.
Surely there is something we can do? Fix it
If we can get to him, I can try and reverse it, Lilias said. Bt we need to find him, and soon.
The two wolves raced out into the night, one dark, the other mottled grey. Their howls echoed through the mountains, terrifying human village children and rousing the rest of the pack for the search. They combed the valley for any signs of the pair, but Henrik and Sarha had vanished without a trace.