Chapter 1: Alora - Introduction
You know those stories about unwanted rejects, whose loved ones either died or all abandoned them
to drift aimlessly through the world? A worthless no one, almost invisible to other people. Nothing
spectacular about them, no grand rise from nothing to something as they dawn into adulthood.
Yeah well, that's kind of my story.
My name is Alora Dennison and l am literally hours away from my Awakening Ceremony at the ripe old
age of 18 years old, with absolutely no one who gives a crap about me to be there, no support, no
family, and definitely no friends. I'm a late bloomer, l guess. Not that it's unusual in my bloodline, as
almost every female in my family didn come out until they hit their late teens from what l can remember.
Much like the others in the orphanage, stuck here with me. Another reason we are snubbed and left to
our own devices in this hell hole they call a home.
My ceremony has me all churned up inside and restlessly pacing the room I share with Vanka. She's
like me, although in all the years we ve bunked together l cant say we have ever become friends of any
kind. She makes it clear she doesn't like me and much like everyone around me, they all keep their
distance. We tolerate one another, but none of us have ever bonded.
lm an orphaned no-one whose parents died in the war of ten years ago against the vampires. So is
she, but it didn't Warm her to me in any way. Ì guess because she's from a leg of the Santo pack and
they have hated the Whyte pack since long before the war. We were feuding before the vampires
united every one of us and old scars and grudges are not something that wolves let go easily.
We were just two small girls left with no immediate blood link guardians, put in this place for unwanted
cubs, to live out our days in unexceptional ways. it would have been kinder to end our misery back
then, than leave us to live as outcasts among our own people, our own kind. Shunned because we are
the shameful proof that their own packs failed them. I don't think they knew what else to do with us. So
many young with no one left to care for them and raise them in Our Ways and seen as cursed. They
were ashamed of the failings of our families and we are the ones to carry that burden like an eternal
black mark painted on our faces.
l mm amazed that kids like us even get to go through with the ceremony, l mean it's kind of a big deal
and we are kind of not. We are a bit like the lost boys in Neverland, except.... none of us want to stay
here and growing up is the only way out.
Your Awakening is a bit like graduation in a sense. A passing from child to adult and normally where
you would find your place, your rank, in the pack, and get a mate. | have no delusions that it means
anything of the sort for any of us turning tonight. Of which there are four from the home of unwanteds,
and I hear maybe three from the packs around. .Just a handful of kids trying to break free, find their
path, and all in the great presence of the entire 'Packdom.
The Packdom being the dozen or so wolf tribes from the state. They all have to convene on the shadow
rock to watch you transform fully for the first time, under the first full moon of your birth month. It's not
hard to figure out when you're ready. The weeks running up to your birthday, you start to change in
small ways and, god damn, it hurts. Like having your insides snapped and stretched in fits of severe
twisting pain and zero control over it happening.
The signs are pretty evident to all. Kind of like puberty for werewolves, Ì guess. Maturing, physical
improvements and a massive rise in appetite and aggression. Little moments where you start to
transform painfully and then it dissipates just as quickly so you never really reach a first transition, but
it's reported, and no one can hide it. That pain, that you know Will come with the first time, is saved for
the full moon after your birthday.
Some don't go through it until later in life, and some earlier. Usually, when you turn, is a sign of where
you stand in the hierarchy. The longer it takes, the weaker your DNA, according to the Santo elders
anyway but my parents never mentioned any of this when Ì was young. So, being eighteen, puts me
way down on the pecking order and just confirms my bloodline were not that of warriors or strong
enough to be anything of importance. Vanka is sixteen and she too is turning tonight, but with Santo
blood somewhere in her veins, she should have turned far earlier. I guess whatever mix is in her is the
reason they reject her as one of their own.
I mean look at the Santos, they are the reigning pack in the state and everyone in their bloodline turned
before the age of ten. Colton, the next heir as Alpha, is nineteen years old, lords over all in our kingdom
and he has been running with the pack since he was a mere eight years old.
Every single one of his family returned from the wars, which speaks volumes to the purity of their
genes, their strength, and their abilities in battle. He's destined to take over from his father as Alpha
one day and the way things are heading, he won't just be Alpha of the Santo pack, but all of us.
Something that has never happened in our lifetime but will begin a new dawn in how the packs live.
Santo is not a nice guy, none of them are. He walks around surrounded by his sub pack, looks down at
the likes of us and never makes eye contact or responds to anyone below his station. That's how it
works here, dominance and strength is everything to wolves. He has his father's arrogance and he
knows every female hitting puberty is craving to become his mate. He hasn officially paired or marked
yet and despite having the same girl always by his side, he's fair game until he does.
Faultlessly good looking in that Latino, pretty boy kind of way with far too handsome a face. He's over
six feet of muscle and radiates aggression without trying and is a rare black furred wolf on turning, one
of the largest among us. Í think the one time he actually acknowledged my existence was the day he
pushed me out of his way in passing. l tripped in front of him in the corridor to the great hall, and he
didn't bat an eye or miss a step in shoving me back aggressively, like l was a lightweight piece of trash.
All the girls laughed at me when I landed on my ass and skidded back into the trashcan and I've made
sure to never get in his way again.
Not that we have much time in the same place. l live in the orphanage and go to the school nearby that
was built purely for our kind, away from “normal' people. He was ahead of me by one year, so we didn't
really cross paths in all that time, and since he lives with his pack on the south side of the mountain,
only coming to the shadowy north when required, I never see him or any of his subordinates. Like all
the rest of the people who avoid the “Rejects..
Our people all moved and convened nearer the mountain from all surrounding areas after the great
war. Keeping close to stay protected and no one ever left again. His father is the unofficial Dominant
Alpha and likes to check in with all on the mountain when he sees fit. Since Colton graduated school,
we only see him when by his father's side for official visits. Lording over their newfound kingdom of
obedient and submissive packs, keeping law and order.
Rumor has it the vampires have been brewing and gathering for several months, maybe even years, to
regain numbers and launch a new war on our kind. We always knew they would. I mean we won the
war, bụt we didn defeat them in the way we wanted. Many survived and fled and have been out there
for almost ten years, recovering from it and licking their wounds. It's been quiet for so long, eerily so,
but there is so much unease and unrest in the air that the packs called together a meeting a month
back to decide the fate of our future. Trouble stirring and we could all feel it, our senses on high alert
and that vibe that something huge is coming. They think coming together to create one pack and one
unity is the answer to a brewing war. Not that it changes much, as we have been living almost that way
for a decade.
We were never united before under just one Alpha though. We fought as separate packs and it almost
wiped us out. There was no leadership as a whole and it meant packs like mine, known for peaceful
living and farming, were almost annihilated. Many of our kin never returned and those who did, were
forever changed. Those like me who lost everyone; my parents, grandparents, uncles, and my
brother... We are shunned by people who like to pretend it never happened. My family were lost, none
of them came back and therefore in the eyes of the pack hierarchy ... my bloodline is weak. They don't
want to claim us as their kind anymore and they sure as hell don't want us procreating and spreading
our genes to future wolves.
Warriors came home. The weak did not.
We were never ready for it.
They were farmers, they were peaceful, and had never had to fight in their lives. Not all wolves are
savage killing machines, or feral beasts, like human legends and stories dictate. Some are quiet, land
loving people, who never want to experience the thrill of a hunt or the warm blood of another being in
raw savagery. In a whirlwind of months, we were dragged into a battle to the death and children were
left in the care of the old and frail, or the pregnant.
We waited endlessly to find out who of our loved ones would come home to us. Until one lone night,
the people who cared for me in their absence, the last of the Whytes who were too vulnerable to follow
them, were slaughtered by invading vampires in our own homes on the far edge of the farm lands, and
I was a lone survivor who was then shunted to the orphanage. The events of that night are so foggy
and hazy, I don't really remember it at all, or why l was even spared. I was just a child.
I still remember the agony of the day I watched others return in masse, the battle truly over with the
vampires in retreat, and no one, not a single person from my bloodline came home. An entire pack, of
more than forty people I called my own, they were all gone, everything l knew.... Every single last one
of them. l was all alone.
There is no pain compared to that of an eight-year-old child learning everyone she ever loved and was
protected by, Were never coming home for her. My security was shattered and my future dead and all I
have known since was the isolation and solitude of being one of the many who were thrown here to rot.
So now here we are, a house full of teens who bear the only living connection to our past loved ones. A
mixed bunch of leftovers, but no one in the packs will bond to us for fear of producing weaker offspring.
It's all about dominance in our world and power, standing, and ability. DNA ¡s everything. They call us
the Reject Pack which sums up exactly why we are overlooked.
We don't belong to anyone anymore, even though by rights we should be part of the united wolf
community, this new singular pack, we are bonded by location after all. We are not though, they see us
as cursed children and deny our mere existence, throwing us to the dark shaded side of the mountain
so they don't have to see us. This house is the only home we know now and the people who care for
us do so in duty, but not love. They are afraid we curse them by proximity.
It's forbidden to abandon a pack child, even if they come from a shamed bloodline. The fates and
traditions have laws and rules from old that we have to abide by and abandoning the vulnerable is
abhorrent. So, we are given a home, shelter, food, and education. Basic care in the understanding that
upon our Awakening, we get to leave. Severed like a rotting limb.
We can go out, find our own path, and fend for ourselves. Turning give us gifts and ability to go it alone.
Find a pack who want us if that is even possible. Solves their problem and shirks off any responsibility
they have for us. Which sucks if you happen to turn at a young age while caught here with us.
So, thats where | am now. Just a mere four hours before we have to climb to shadow rock for the full
moon and [II transform for the first time of my life. Changing from child to woman and my gifts will
manifest along with my first emerging of my full wolf self and whatever that will look like. Not that I have
any clue what those will be, if any at all. Not all of us have a special gift and it's unlikely I will. My
parents never talked of theirs.
I've watched this ceremony once a month for many years and it still terrifies me to know l will be one of
them. Finally stood in the center, terrified of what the new light brings. Itfs a blood moon tonight, meant
to be symbolic or biblical or Some nonsense. Signaling the end of times. Not that I paid attention to our
Lunar studies as they held little importance to me.
With a first transform comes pain, and a lot of it. You hear the cracking of bones, the tearing of flesh
and the howling of those going through it and it haunts you for eternity. lts inevitable. Ifs awful to see,
traumatized me the first time as l
was still so young, but they tell us it only hurts that way the first time. After, we II be different, and the
pain will be far less clawing, because we can heal and withstand it so mụch more as a stronger breed.
l’ve seen it. Physical improvement they call it. It's the leaving of childlike features behind, firming up,
muscling over as though somehow you get an injection of superhuman enhancement. All who have
turned become superior in every way, even in terms of attractiveness, which explains why the Lord
Colton is considered a god among mere females. His genes are strong.
Not that l want to change. i'm already tall, slim, athletic and I wouldn say I was ugly. m on the pretty
side of plain, with full lips, mousy brown hair, and abnormally green eyes. | take after my mother, and
when I look in the mirror, Ïm haunted by her memory in the most bittersweet way. Proud to carry her
face with me but broken that it reminds me of what I've lost.
l guess l am what one would call girl next door, but it's just another flaw in my genetic makeup.
The alphas are all handsome or beautiful and physically perfect. You can't deny good genes when it's
shown in every single little way. Compared to humans they are like Gods among men.
Now all I can do is wait.
Shower, dress, brush my hair and pace like a maniac as | watch the clock and count down the minutes
to the first moon of my new future.
This could be the first step in changing everything.
I can leave after tonight; I can walk away from this mountain and the people who treat us like we are
nothing. IIl be free to run far away, with no bond to anyone or anything. No one to care if | never return.
I just need to get through it first and then it's the start of a whole new existence for me.
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