It started with greed, then it turned into a punishment. Shackled together against their will, they will have no choice but to do as the Goddess asks, to choose between their hearts or the crown. And if they choose the crown, they know there can only be one winner.
Age Rating: 18+
He was standing tall and regal, with a smirk plastered on his tan, freckled face. I wondered how long this would take before I started getting bored.
“It’s fucking time you stepped down!” he boasted with a smile that showed his perfect teeth. “I don’t wish to hurt that beautiful face, you know.”
A snort left my lips as I smiled devilishly. It was the same as always: him boasting about his ego, empty warnings, and threats that didn’t even scare me.
“You’re a freak who doesn’t fear death,” his voice spewed with hate.
“And you do?” I asked while raising a cocky eyebrow toward him.
The snapping sound of his half-shifted jaw echoed on the silent platform where an eager audience awaited to see how this would end.
If it had been up to me, I would have ended this long ago, but he had to keep throwing empty threats that bored me to death.
Another snapping sound, accompanied by a growl, made me shift my eyes his way.
“Okay, let’s finish this then,” I smirked and lashed at him, tackling him down in a swift move.
He whined as I reached for his sweaty fur and threw him against the wall that surrounded the top platform.
An enormous crack appeared instantly in the white and grayish concrete wall where he landed.
“WINNER: ELAINE WOODS!”
I dusted my hands and clothes as I headed down the small steps that guided me to the waiting area where my brothers stood.
Eyes on the front, I noticed them all smiles and excited looks.
“Two more to go.”
“Shouldn’t you be somewhere else?” I asked while grabbing my belongings and heading out of the arena. There were a few chuckles that made me roll my eyes.
“Of course, baby sister. How could we not support you today?” one of them said. His voice was full of happiness.
I looked over my shoulder.
Quillon, Jyn, Blaze, Arye, and Regulus, brothers and sons of Alpha Atlas, my father.
As the only girl in the family, it annoyed me to have this bunch always roaming around me like vultures protecting me from prey. It was overwhelming.
“It seems you’re the talk of the pack,” Blaze commented, earning me some stares from the rest of the pack members as we passed by them.
The Black Rose, the biggest and most feared pack in the north of the Alpine Mountains, surrounded by rivers and snow that kept us hidden from the prying eyes of humans.
Every ten years, a competition was held for every pack in which warriors could join and become the next alpha king.
Betas, omegas, or alphas were welcome to be part of it, and today was that day, and as a daughter of an alpha, it was my duty to take part, although my father was against it.
“Your favorite person is going to the last round, you know,” my brother Regulus sneered from behind.
“Really? Then it’s amazing!” Sarcasm dripped from my mouth. “You know, things like this could be avoided if you guys would have taken part in this and kicked some puppy fur.”
None of them answered. All I could see from the corner of my eyes were the flinches and shifting of their bodies as they kept their distance, knowing that I was saying the truth.
Reaching our next destination, I glanced around where various pack members from various neighboring packs stood in small groups chattering.
It was a sight to behold, since the Black Rose Pack would only open its doors to the rest of the packs once every ten years.
It was a rule they had, and the only way to get in without waiting that long was if you had some business with the pack or got invited.
And once they did that, this place would bustle with people for the tournaments, especially since this also helped to find something every pack lacked—mates.
“Hey, are you the only she-wolf participating?” Arye asked as we all looked around the new arena where my next fight would be.
“No, there’s another one,” I answered, took a seat, and rested my elbows on the iron bars that surrounded the platform while I spread my legs in an unladylike manner.
“Could you sit like a lady?” Jyn whispered, eyes rolling heavenward. “You’re the least attractive woman here.”
I raised my eyebrows as everyone else turned away from us, their chuckles reaching my ears.
Deciding to ignore Jyn’s words, I stared at the front, where the other warrior was ready with her warm-up. I studied her as she stretched, mumbled, and looked around nervously.
It seemed she was worried, but I couldn’t understand why.
While I kept my eyes on her, my brothers started talking between them, when suddenly, a loud howl echoed from a distance.
Everyone in the arena stopped talking and looked up to hear another howl coming from the same direction.
“Well, lucky bastard!” Blaze laughed and howled back in congratulations.
It was the howl of a man, announcing to every pack member that he had found his chosen one, his mate, his forever one.
“Yes, lucky him,” Jyn mumbled, making me glance his way.
Sadness covered my brother’s face as he slowly but silently cast his face down.
I knew that all this troubled him since it’d been years since Jyn had been searching, and there had been no signs of a mate.
And what was worse, he was the oldest son, someone my father expected to form his own family and take over our business. But so far, there had been no luck.
Standing, I asked if anyone would like something to eat. A few of my brothers grumbled at how eating before a fight was a bad idea.
Hearing my stomach grumble, I slipped away from the group and headed to a nearby stall where the scent of meat and corn lingered.
For wolves that lived in the mountains, having bison meat around was a delicacy.
There were a million chances you could try it, since the cold weather and being far from human cities made it impossible to get your hands on some necessities.
Most of the time, we would eat canned food or other things that would take a couple of months to expire, but the good thing was that we had a human representative who knew very well of our existence.
The troubling thing was he would only come around every three months unless it was a dire necessity, which would take up to two weeks. We would have to wait that long.
Getting in the long line, I pulled my cloak over, hiding my face, when suddenly loud cheering had me peering to the side. It seemed another fight had concluded, and there was a winner.
Since I was small, I had always yearned to compete in this tournament, but because of my age, I couldn’t.
Now that I had turned twenty, I could, and my sole aim in all this was to become the first female alpha in the pack’s history.
“Hey, I heard a warrior passed away.”
I glanced over my shoulder. Two guys that wore red and black gear, not from our pack, chatted awkwardly. It was obvious they feared whoever the killer was.
“It seems that alpha is going with everything he has. Good thing I’m not participating,” the guy next to the other laughed.
“Coward,” I muttered under my breath.
Feeling a firm grip on my shoulder, someone spun me around. I scowled at the two guys.
“The heck did you say?” one of them snarled. “Hey, I’m talking to you!”
Slapping his hand off my shoulder, I looked up.
“You’re a she-wolf?” both guys said, surprised.
“What? Never seen a woman?” I barked, making both of their eyes twitch in anger. Scoffing, I turned away and moved with the rest of the line, ignoring them and focusing on my goal, food.
“What’s taking you so long?” Blaze’s mind linked, suddenly distracting me from both guys.
“Line. Can’t you see?” I said, showing him what I was seeing.
Our pack of werewolves had particular abilities. Some were strength, others agility, or even fighting techniques.
But in my family’s case, there was something unique: eyesight. We could show others what we saw through our eyes—the surroundings, people, and even our dreams if we wished.
It’s a strange ability that earned me the nickname “Freak” in the pack.
And although a few were born with these abilities, ours was because we were lycan descendants. Their blood ran in us, but mostly in me.
I was the special one in the family, and I didn’t like it a bit.
Sighing, I ambled forward when someone dared to bump into me. My head snapped at seeing the stranger.
“Move it!” a deep voice ordered from behind.
“David.” I clenched my teeth.
“Well, if it isn’t Elaine Woods. What’s up, freak?”
My hands were balled at my sides as I glared at him.
“Get lost,” I ordered, turning away from the idiot behind me. It was a waste of time trying to argue with him.
David snorted close to my neck.
“Bitch!” he blurted.
He had to be serious right now. Nose flaring, I snapped, ready to teach him a lesson, when a familiar voice called out to us.
My entire body tensed as his footsteps approached us slowly but deadly.
I didn’t need to look; I knew. Taking a deep breath, I tried to remain aloof and ignore the man standing right next to me.
David and his small group had puffed into the air without a word.
“I heard you’re still at the tournament,” he whispered, his voice dripping with hate. The corner of my lip twitched.
“Shouldn’t you be somewhere, Connor?” I said with a coldness that could make everyone around us scurry away.
“Change that tone you’re using with me,” Connor growled, teeth clenching hard.
My head held high and straight back, I slowly turned with a smug smile that would annoy him.
This man before me was Connor Reed, former son of the alpha and king of the pack, everyone’s favorite to win the tournament, and my enemy.
“I would like to say the same,” I smiled sweetly as everyone, including Connor’s friends, stepped back from us.
From the tension around us, it was obvious that everyone feared us, and they had the right to.
Connor and I were like water and oil, darkness and light, lightning and thunder, and nowhere close to ever being mates.
I took a step, closing the gap that separated us from everything else, our hate. Meeting his honey eyes, I saw how his face half shifted, showing me the authority he could have over me.
But did he really have that will?
Feeling the need to do the same, I summoned my wolf. This was defiance.
It would make him debate between shifting completely and fighting me or retreating like the obedient dog he was and waiting for me to kick his ass in our last fight, which I would definitely be in.
“I advise you not to cross me, Elaine,” Connor hissed threateningly, bringing a deadly smile to my lips.
“Likewise, dog,” I smirked while drifting my finger up his toned chest that heaved while he tried to control his anger.
Eyes shifting to his chest, I noticed that Connor looked well toned, with a tall body that brimmed with elegance, the epitome of a god and a king.
One that any woman would dream of having over her body, but not me.
I loathed this poor fellow so much. He disgusted me.
“I have warned you, Elaine,” Connor whispered while he bumped into my shoulder, walking away with his group.
I took a deep breath, then turned and stared at the line. Connor had seriously made me lose my appetite.