Meeting the Pack
Doomsday had arrived. This would be the last time Willow could ever
think of herself as only human. True, she knew that changes had
probably already occurred. The infection of lycanthropy had
burrowed into her skin through the scratches and now was floating
along in her bloodstream. With every beat of her heart, the
infection spread by inches and tainted yet another one of her
cells. Her temperature had begun to rise. It was like the virus
was burning out the last of her true humanity. She could
practically feel it. She knew that it was probably just her
overactive imagination running at full tilt.
She could taste her nervousness. It had a bitter tang at the back
of her mouth and all the mouthwash in the world wouldn't make it
go away. She didn't want to go to the lupanar tonight but they
were leaving in just a few minutes. The moment of truth had
arrived. There would be no running from this fact. She couldn't
magic it away. She was stuck and not in control. She hated not
being in control. This fed the emotional rollercoaster that she had
been on since the night of the attack.
She had to get a hold of this fear. She would not lose herself
completely. She may lose her memory but she would return to her
human form when the morning comes again. That is what she feared.
Not being able to be Willow anymore.
She sighed and shook her head of these thoughts. She didn't have
time to philosophize over what really constituted her identity. She
put on some ratty old tennis shoes and went to join Sylvie and Gwen
Not a word was said as Willow entered the room. Gwen gave an
encouraging smile and a comforting hand went to pat Willow's
shoulder. Willow gave a very feeble smile in return. They were all
dressed in old clothing. Willow had been informed that the change
can bring about quite a mess. You didn't want to wear your
Sunday's finest for a night rolling around in the wilderness.
Well, no more postponing the inevitable thought Willow. She stood
up straight and looked Sylvie in the eyes. "I'm ready."
Sylvie nodded approvingly and out the door they went.
The sun was nearing the horizon when they finally reached their
destination. Willow would have been hard pressed to find her way
back to civilization. They were in the middle of nowhere. There
was nothing to keep them company but the trees and well, other
Stage fright had reared its ugly head with the thought of others.
Willow didn't want to be the center of attention but she had the
sneaking suspicion that it would happen anyway. She was the only
one who would be experiencing the change for the first time tonight.
She rubbed her arms as if she were cold. Her skin prickled. She
had the foreboding sense that one acquires while standing outside
unprotected in the middle of a thunderstorm. She could feel the
pull of something in the woods. She was drawn so strongly that she
felt like she should be running instead of standing there next to
the car. She looked questioningly towards Sylvie.
Sylvie understood without Willow speaking the question aloud.
"You feel the call. You are being drawn to the lupanar. All
Lukoi feel this way. It is alright."
Sylvie grabbed her hand to reassure her and gave a wild grin.
"Come on, girls! The night's a-wasting! Let's run!"
Willow never felt so alive. She felt like a quickly moving shadow
as they practically flew between trees. Too soon for Willow's
liking, they did arrive at the clearing. Willow wanted to run some
Willow stood between Gwen and Sylvie. She slowly took in all the
people that were gathered there. Such a large pack, she thought to
herself. People were streaming in from the trees.
Willow's eyes were drawn to the center of the large circle being
formed by the members of the pack. Three casually dressed men
surrounded an ancient stone throne. It was such a strange sight to
see in modern day America. Two of the men stood to the back of the
throne as if on guard while the third regally sat.
It was the one that sat on the throne that caught Willow's
breath. This was the Ulfric. Sylvie said his name was Richard. He
was just too yummy for words. Long, thick, brown hair hung loosely
around his shoulders. He wore only a faded pair of cutoff jeans.
He had a dark tone to his skin. He looked completely comfortable in
this outdoor setting. It was the way the air just seemed to shimmer
around him that caused the gasp to come from Willow's lips. She
could feel his power rolling off him in waves. It was quite the
Sylvie motioned Willow to follow her through the crowd to the
center. Willow swallowed hard and did as she was bid.
They stopped just feet away from the yummy man that Willow had been
ogling. Sylvie moved closer to her and put an arm around her. The
crowd hushed as the scene unfolded in front of them.
Richard slowly rose from his throne. "Geri of Thronnos Rokke
clan, state your business before your Ulfric and your pack."
Sylvie's power surged in response. "Before my Ulfric and my
pack, I bring another to our sacred lupanar. I present Willow
Rosenberg. She is newly-made Lukoi."
Willow felt all eyes upon her. She fought off the urge to blush.
She wished this over with so that she could sink gratefully into the
Richard stepped closer to Willow. She felt his warm power wash over
her. Something deep within her stirred in response to his probe,
the beast within had awoken. She felt suddenly very alien and
strange. Richard continued to look into her eyes. Was he judging
her soul? What if he didn't like her? Would she get kicked out?
Could he read her mind? Would he set her free so that she could run
again in the woods?
He stepped back. "Willow Rosenberg is Lukoi and she is pack.
Come forth and know the scent of our newest wolf."
Willow knew to expect this but she still couldn't help the bubble
of fear that broke free as the group closed in around her. Many of
the eyes that she was faced with now had taken on wolf amber. They
meant no harm. She had nothing to fear. Faces came closer and she
could feel the intake of breath as they caught her scent. Some of
the wolves were friendly and offered her a face-rubbing greeting.
She had found refuge.
The sun rays finally disappeared from the clearing. The night was
falling and the full moon had begun its slow ascension into the
sky. The crowd parted before a petite woman with dark curly black
Willow surrounded by all that lycanthropic energy could still sense
the power off this new arrival. Willow felt the call of the grave.
A rushing noisy presence filled the lupanar. It was the noise of
many voices calling out. Willow shuddered and so did the small
Willow realized that this was Anita Blake, the former lupa. This
was the woman that managed to put the pack in turmoil. She was
Richard's former love and she was summoning forth the rushing
presence. Willow could almost taste it. What was it? She looked
at Sylvie and Gwen who had returned to her side after the pack
welcome. They were unaffected but expectant. Willow hid her
reaction to the foreign sensation.
Anita's brisk walk transformed to a sexy strut before
Willow's eyes. The former lupa was exuding a dark sexual energy
that made Willow's skin crawl. Some of the pack recognizing this
shied away from Anita. She smirked. She was practically undressing
the crowd with her eyes. Her gaze landed on Willow.
Willow felt an overwhelming need to hide from this strange person.
Anita stalked closer to Willow.
"Ooh a new wolf. If only, I was alive today." She ran a
hand through Willow's fine shoulder length red hair. "You are
such a pretty one. I bet you would be fun to play with."
Willow slapped the offending hand away. She gave off a low growl
towards Anita. She couldn't help herself. It had just slipped
out. Her eyes bled to amber. Her beast wanted to take a bite out
of this threatening presence.
Richard spoke up at last. "Anita, get a hold of Raina. We have
no need for that."
Anita/Raina walked up to Richard. She yanked down his head and gave
him a violent kiss. He angrily pushed her away. She gave a
victorious laugh. Anita shuddered again. The dark presence was
gone. Anita and Richard had both taken up protective stances. They
were clearly uncomfortable with what had happened.
Willow knew she had to be blushing now. She didn't want to
witness something that was obviously very private between the two of
them. There was unfinished business between the Ulfric and the Lupa
that was not meant for the eyes of the pack. She had just seen a
possession by some vengeful munin that got a thrill in pointing this
out. The possession didn't seem to be that pleasant if this was
what Willow had to go by.
The moon broke over the trees. The pack gazed up at the sight.
Willow looked to Sylvie for reassurance as she felt the change come
upon her. Pain…so much pain.