As much as Vasile hated lying to his pack, it was necessary. Sadly, with every telling, the story came easier and easier to his lips. He had repeated the tale so often now he was beginning to believe it himself. Anghel and he had come up with the simplest story possible. Vasile knew that the more intricate the lie, the harder to keep it straight. He explained that his father had been managing the boarders of the territory as he often did. When he did not return to the castle by midnight, Vasile took it upon himself to go look for him. He found him three miles away, his throat had been ripped open, and the artery there severed. He had bled out much too quickly to heal himself. Vasile had caught the scent of a bear, maybe two. He had held his father for quite a while before any of the other wolves had shown up causing his scent to mask that of the killers. Wolves and bears were natural enemies, and though it was horrific to lose their Alpha, they would not retaliate against predators engaging their natural instincts.
What he did not say was that his father had been growing more and more restless, which is why he had been running the boarders of their territory. When Vasile found him, it wasn’t with his throat torn out by a deadly animal. It was with a fae blade still in his hand, which he had used to slit his own throat. Vasile had no idea how his father came upon such a treasure as the blade, but he imagined the fae had no idea that it had been in his possession. When his father had not come home by midnight, Darciana had asked him to go look for his father. She knew that if something was wrong she would not want the others to find him first because they would wonder why she was not suffering as well.
Vasile had found his father three miles from the pack castle. After the initial shock had worn off he had hurried back to his mother and gave her the devastating news. Tears ran down her cheeks but she did not weep as he had expected her to. Instead, she rummaged around in a drawer of her bureau. He turned to growl at her but it froze in his throat. She held a vile of clear liquid in her hand. She looked up at him and the tears in her eyes were part sadness and part regret. There were a million things she wanted to say to him, he could see it, but she did not.
“Your father and I prepared for this. We knew that one day sooner or later one of us would pass on to the next life. I have to die with him, Vasile,” she told him. “If the pack finds out that he deceived them there will dominants crawling all over this castle to challenge you. I will not do that to you, not when this is our fault in the first place.” She opened the vial and stared at the contents. The look on her face was not one of fear, but of resolve. “I love you, son. Your father loved you. Regardless of our bond, you were a result of our love and that made up for anything lacking.”
“Wait!” He lunged at her, fully understanding her intent. He was too late. She upturned the little bottle and swallowed the contents down before he could reach her.
Vasile had held his mother’s body in his arms and wept for them both. It was a tragedy, but one that he could not bring himself to blame them for because his father had lived longer because of Daciana, and they had borne him from their love. How could he blame them?
He had returned to his father’s body before morning, allowing his mother’s to be found. He knew that as soon as his mother’s body was discovered, Stefan’s top three wolves would be on the hunt for their perished Alpha. He knew that before they arrived he had to make his father’s death look like a terrible accident, a fight between predators which Stefan had lost. Vasile did the hardest thing he has ever done in his life. To protect his father’s legacy and his mother’s virtue he did what he needed to in order to make his father’s body look as though he had been attacked. He could still taste Stefan’s blood in his mouth from where he had torn his throat open. He had to cover up the evidence of the slit, and the only way to do that was to destroy it. So he had phased and let his wolf take over in order to make his story plausible.
When they finally found them, Vasile was holding his father tight against him, and he didn’t have to pretend to be broken. He wept openly and sincerely. He mourned for his father’s madness and suffering, and he grieved for his mother’s sacrifice. Alin, Ion, and Nicu mourned with him. Their howls filling the early morning air. As they carried his father’s body back to the castle to be prepared for burial with his mother, Vasile wondered if he would be able to fill the hole his parents had left. Even with his madness, Stefan had been a good Alpha. Vasile was not sure he would be able to live up to the legacy his father had left.
“There is only one village left, Alpha.” Nicu’s voice jarred him from the memory. “It is the furthest from the castle. If I remember correctly the most dominant among them is Petre Sala.”
Something about the name made Vasile’s wolf perk up, though he was sure he had not met the man. The males that lived in the villages were not dominant enough to be a part of the top wolves that trained as warriors on a regular basis and patrolled the territory when necessary. The violence that was necessary for a warrior to carry out had to be swift and without hesitation, and often the less dominant the wolf, the more likely the hesitation. If these males did not come to the castle, then Vasile seldom met them, though his father probably had. Vasile took in a deep breath, filling his lungs with the warm night air. He had a sudden eagerness to get to this village, and he had learned long ago not to argue with his gut feeling.
“Hunt on the way; I do not want us hungry and eating up all of their hard earned food.” Vasile phased, not bothering to remove his clothes, and took off in a run. His legs stretched and popped as he adjusted to being in his wolf form. The wind in his face, rippling through his pelt, was refreshing, like waking from a much needed nap. He saw Ion and Nicu out of the corner of his eyes on either side of his flanks. Though they ran faster than even their cousins the full blooded wolves, their feet were light and nearly silent as they raced across the forest. Before they hit the edge of the final village, they had each caught their meals and devoured them, appeasing their wolves’ desire for the hunt to continue. It was still several hours until dawn so Vasile and his two wolves curled up close together in the hollow of a tree. Three human males probably would balk at the idea of sleeping so close, but wolves were different. They thrived on touch, mate or pack. It was necessary. He was slowly settling into the power that had begun to fill him shortly after his father’s death and allowed it to cover them, ensuring they would be safe while they slept.