The little house sat in the center of the clearing. Raven Silverclaw stood tall under the full moon as he waited for the change to take him. Tonight it was taking longer than usual. He looked out across the clearing, trying to find some sign of his sister. There was nothing. The forest was quiet – eerily so. He couldn’t even hear the sounds of the night creatures.
Raven watched as the clouds drifted over the moon. The pain hit him like a flash of lightning. He snapped his mouth shut on a scream. It was going to be a long night. His muscles rippled, bones extended and morphed as the change gripped him.
It was twenty minutes later when he took his next proper breath. Stretching, he lifted his head and let go a howl into the night. It was time to run. Leaping forward, he let the wolf have complete control. Running through the woods, he followed his nose. There was something in the air tonight. He had scented a hint of it when in human form, but now he could get a better sense of what was on the air. It was blood. The call from the copper scent in the air pulled him across the forest to the water’s edge.
As he reached the water, he slowed, letting his paws sink into the wet sand. His nose lifted and caught the scent of the blood again. It was stronger, clearer, and smelled sweet. The scent made his mouth water as he turned away from the water and moved back into the forest. Getting closer, he skidded to a stop and howled a second time. Under the tree were the remains of his sister. She had been torn to pieces somewhere between her human and wolf forms.
Using every ounce of his power, he forced himself to change back into a human. The pain rocked through him and he fell to his knees beside her remains. “I’m sorry. How did this happen?” He asked, touching what remained of her face.
There was a sound behind him, causing him to look back over his shoulder. “Who’s there?” He asked.
Something moved in the trees behind him. A shadow stepped free from the darkness. “My name is Joseph. I tried to protect her, but I wasn’t fast enough,” he said.
Raven swallowed and stood, keeping himself between his sister and the newcomer. “Who are you?” He asked a second time. The name wasn’t important. He wanted to know what the hell was going on.
The man stayed where he was. “My name is Joseph and I am an Omega. But I do my best to protect those I live near,” he said. He looked at the body on the ground. “Who was she?” He asked.
Raven glanced at his sister’s body. “She was my sister. I was supposed to meet her out here tonight for a run.” He turned his back on her body and fought the urge to howl in pain.
Joseph nodded. “If you will allow me to help you, I will carry her to your alpha for burial,” he said.
Raven gave him one nod. “I would be grateful. Thank you.”
Joseph shrugged out of his black trench coat and handed it to Raven. “If you’re like me, you don’t have any clothing stashed for events like this and I doubt you want to be walking into your Alpha’s house naked.”
Raven forced a smile. “No, that would not be the best of ideas. Thank you again.” He said, taking the jacket and slipping it over his shoulders.
Joseph stepped forward and removing his shirt wrapped it around what was left of the young girl, lifting her into his arms as if she was a small child he loved dearly. “Ready when you are,” he said.
Raven moved along the path, keeping to a slow enough pace that he wouldn’t strain the man with the burden he carried. “It’s not a far walk through the forest. About two miles down this path and over the river,” he said.
“Okay.” Joseph said, stepping into pace behind him. The two of them walked in silence until they reached the river’s edge.
At the edge of the water, Raven stopped and looked back at the man carrying his sister. “On the other side of the river is the Alpha’s property. He is an angry man with a temper, but I’m hoping he will stay calm enough to talk to us.” Raven said.
“Most alphas are grumpy. Even when they are young.” He stepped over to where a set of rocks made a path through the water.
Raven led him across the river and through the trees at the back of the Alpha’s yard. He called out as they approached the back of the house. “Hey, father, are you home?”
Joseph swallowed and paused at the base of the steps. “That would have been nice to know,” he said.
Raven grinned. “Had to lighten the mood.”
A deep growl came from the house, followed by a voice almost as deep. “Raven? I thought you were out running with Heather,” he said. He stepped onto the porch and stopped short at the sight of the stranger with a body in his arms. “What’s going on?”
Raven stepped forward. “I had a hard time changing tonight, so I was late meeting her. She went off without me and I didn’t know she was in trouble,” he said.
Joseph spoke up at the moment. “I saw the monster that attacked her, but I wasn’t strong enough to fight him off. When Raven here found us, I offered to help bring her home,” he said.
The Alpha stepped forward, taking the burden from Joseph’s arms. “My poor girl.” Tears fell unchecked from his eyes. He sat on the top step, holding his daughter’s body close to his chest. He tipped his head back and howled in pain. Raven joined in the sound.
Joseph stayed at the base of the stairs, keeping just out of the family moment.
In time, The Alpha lifted his head and faced Joseph. “Who are you? How did you get into this mess?”
“I am an Omega that was passing through. I was hoping to talk to you about the ability to stay within your borders.” Joseph said.
“Since you helped my children, I have no problems with you staying on my pack’s land. Be welcome.” He said, standing and moving back into the house with his daughter’s body.
Raven stood and faced Joseph. “Be welcome, I can guarantee you a space at our table any time you want one.” He extended his hand in greeting.
Joseph took the offered hand and shook it. “Thank you. If I ever feel the call of the pack, I will find my way to your door.” He released the Raven’s hand and stepped away to start his life on pack land.