Chapter 1: The Chosen

Night sheathed the world in black, and dusted the sky with countless children of the moon. It was cold outside. Not even the shimmery, silver fur that lined my back, could keep me warm. We were running for what seemed like hours, traversing through the desolate lands of our kingdom. Above me loomed the forest towers, whose leaves danced hand in hand with the wind.

Crickets whistled their sweet melody, one that I have loved ever since I was a child. It reminded me of the times when my mother and I would run through the tall grasses in the backyard of our house in the countryside. We'd chase the stars and pass out on the hills just beyond our house. Sometimes, if the nights were magical enough, she'd tell me stories of our history. My favorite was the one of the North Star. I missed her. If I didn't believe she was staring at the same ivory star, then the tears that forced their way to the surface would have freely fallen down my cheeks.

A howl echoed through the forest, bringing my pack to a stop. In unison, heads varying in color and beauty cocked back and set free a sound similar to the howl before theirs. Unwillingly, I pushed my way through the crowd towards the regal creature who released the first call, his posture strong and his appearance magnificent. Nobody in the pack had his rich ebony fur or his calm blue eyes. He was unique in every sense of the word. Even though I've seen my father in this form millions of times, I always managed to be awed.

When he was within touching distance, I bowed to show my respect and then placed my paw on his shoulder. He shrank back, sweeping my mind with confusion. Before I could ask what was wrong, he in return, bowed down to me. This was something that he never done before.

Already, I could feel the changes. As my cheeks warmed with nervousness, I found my eyes roaming the crowd. Everyone else was bowing before me as well. This wasn't an unusual act, they bowed to show their respect for me as their princess. But again, that uneasy feeling took over me. They were no longer bowing because I was their princess, but because, as it was prophesied, I was the Chosen.

The silvery shadow touched the crown of my father's head, making him transform into a human. Sometimes it was strange seeing my people in human form. Their soft skin wasn't as beautiful as the fur that graces our backs. Their hearts were exposed freely to the world, making it easy for death to take them. It was impossible to think that they once ruled over us.

My father had wrinkled with age and his black locks turned a grayish white as time passed. He was an avid runner and as the lead hunter, his body was well toned. But as his breathing roughened and his heart slowed, everyone knew that one day his time would come.

I met my father's proud eyes, fear lining my irises. He was smiling, making his face wrinkle even more. As I slowly changed into human form, he parted his frail lips to speak.

"On this night, the Goddess, Selene, gave birth to us. She shed love to a species of hungry killers, to create a race of triumph. We are her children and on this night, she will be reincarnated,"

My father's voice wove through the trees, making the leaves flutter. Yells of excitement escaped from the lips of so many of my people. They were more accepting of what was soon to come than I was. They truly believed in every word that was delivered to their ears. If I were the wolf I was years ago, I would have too. These legends are nothing but myths painted with useless prophecies.

I felt the atmosphere change beside me. It was warm now where it should have been cold. Hesitantly, I turned around to find that things do get worse. There, stood Alexandru, the man that I was supposed to marry. His dark bronze hair was pulled back into a ponytail and his ocean green eyes were burning holes through my soul. Light veiled his chest in alabaster, making my eyes peruse his body. It was nicely toned, and firm. He was beautiful. When I noticed I was staring, I quickly averted my eyes and turned away. Through a peripheral peek, I could see a smile playing on his full angel's lips. The amused look in his eyes made the blood coursing through my veins crash against my cheeks.

"Hello Corina," he said, entwining my hand with his.

Our hands rose slowly towards his lips, making my cheeks flush even deeper. I wanted to pull away, and run off into the night, but everyone was watching. I could feel their eyes boring into my back. After he released my hand, I tried to politely turn away. But Alexandru wouldn't accept it. He pulled me towards him , and before I could protest, our lips met.

I felt nothing but disgust. Although the heat from the friction our lips created, made me want to kiss back, I didn't. There were no fireworks going off behind my eyelids. I didn't love him. As I kept my mouth as still as stone, Alexandru began to force me to join in the embrace. Soon, I found my lips moving in synchronized fashion with his.

Tears burned in my eyes. I did not want to be forced to marry someone I could never love. There were millions of women in my pack who would love to have him because of his mysterious charm and good looks. But I was different. I believed in love.

Cheers heightened the longer we kissed each other. Love was sacred among my people, but it was excused when the prophecies got involved. If we looked like we were in love, then people would trust us to lead them. A butterfly gave birth to millions of wings in my stomach. I didn't like lying.

Alexandru released me, his eyes filled to the brim with pleasure. He moved a strand of hair from in front of my eyes and then gently pushed my head up to the moon.

"Beautiful," he whispered, staring intently into my eyes.

The night was lined with goblets of wine and meats of delicious variety. Music moved with our feet, attuned with the beat of the forest's heart. Ilonea, my father's seventh wife, danced with me, but only because she thought I was lonely. Out of all of my father's wives, Ilonea was the only one that I really admired. She listened to me when I needed someone to listen. Unlike my father, she cared about what I wanted. So when I told her I didn't want to dance with Alexandru, she gladly took my hands and twirled in the delightful aroma of the feast.

"Besides his looks, he is very strong and respectable," Ilonea whispered, averting her eyes.

I slowly followed her gaze over towards a group of people who were dancing on a hill. Among them was Alexandru, his ponytail now free from its hold. He was dancing with my promiscuous cousin, Ana. She tried coaxing Alexandru closer but he kept a discreet distance. Then, his eyes locked with mine, sending chills down my spine. Embarrassed, I looked away and continued dancing with Ilonea.

"Yeah, he's a keeper," I said, sighing.

Ilonea smiled, making her rosy cheeks rosier. Her brown eyes laughed, beckoning a smirk to form under my nose. We continued to dance, laughing at our sloppy steps. I was just about to dip Ilonea, when I found myself pinned down to the ground by something heavy.

The smell of fresh pine tickled my nose, making the blood boil under my skin. Blond hair caressed my cheeks, shimmering white in the moon's shadow.

"Hello cousin," Daniel said, smiling.

Furious, I shrugged him off of me and let him get a two second head start. He took off, grass crunching under his feet. Adrenaline pounding through my soul, I sprinted towards him. As I changed, I felt freer than I did before. It was as if all the chains that bound me to the prophecy were cut.

I could still see Daniel's golden tan fur bouncing along in front of me. He was quicker than me, but I knew that once we stopped, he'd be mine.

We ran along our lands, careful not to touch those of the humans. The last time someone didn't follow the boundaries they were killed. Out of breath, I stopped and howled, ordering Daniel to stop as well. Even though he was older than me, my rank was more important than his. He had to listen to me.

"So, whens the wedding?" he asked, teasingly.

He was already in human form, and as always, he was utterly annoying. The stars beat down on my back, guiding me as I changed. My dark hair fell like a veil in front of my face. I shook my head and waltzed over towards Daniel, who was sitting down on the ground.

"I'm not getting married," I replied, sitting beside him.

"Really? Then how come he..." Daniel started.

I growled, which pretty much shut him up.

"I never understood what was so special about you," he muttered, glancing at me. With a sour expression on his face, Daniel got up and started walking back towards the party. I looked after him confusedly, then got up and ran to join him. His gaze was intent as he stared at the soft brown soil that squished between his bare toes. In tired curls, his hair fell around his face, bouncing with each step he took. Unlike his sister, Ana, he was gorgeous. His almond shaped eyes blazed a fiery brown, matching the shade of honey or burning oak. Under his fireplaces, sat a straight nose that set the structure of his jaw and full lips. When I looked at Daniel, I sometimes questioned my own beauty. The air grew silent but his remained parted. He wasn't finished with his tiny rant so it was best that I stayed quiet.

"I mean, you're way too short to be a Queen and no one really ever listens to you," Daniel continued.

His eyes locked with mine, waiting impatiently for me to say something. Then a smile bubbled over his serious facial expression, making me punch him in his arm. He nudged sideways, almost falling into the grass.

"That's what you get for pushing me earlier," I smirked.

"Short but deadly," he joked, sticking out his tongue.

"I'm average height," I retorted, smiling.

It was good having Daniel back, especially since I haven't seen him for a long time. Over the past couple of weeks, he's been traveling North to clear his head. Now, as I look at him, with that intense look on his face, I wonder if all that running away finally paid off.

"I miss him," he whispered and then I knew the answer. No. His constant trips away from his home didn't help. The dreadful memory that hes been trying to avoid is still dangling a sword over his head.

Three years ago, his older brother Marius, died in a vampire attack. If it wasn't for Daniel, most of my pack wouldn't have made it out alive. After the accident, he really never talked about it, he just shrugged it off as often as he could. Whenever someone tried to lend him a shoulder to lean on, he quickly refused it and walked away. I, closer to a sister to him than Ana could ever be, wanted so much to reach out to him, but another part of me also wanted the playful, joyous Daniel who took me in the day he met me. He was my brother, if not by blood but by heart. Daniel needed me, as his sister, to listen. And as we walked through the grassy forest, I owed that much to him, especially since he did the same for me for so many years.

"It took me all I had not to just fight back but...I knew you were here waiting..." Daniel started, sighing.

I parted my lips to say something but stopped myself because I knew that there was nothing to say to ease his pain. Instead, I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled him close. He towered over me about a good two feet, so if anyone were to walk pass it'd look like he was comforting me. But I knew it was the other way around as Daniel's hot tears doused my neck.

"Sit for a while," I said softly, "with me."

Nodding, Daniel slumped to the ground bringing me down with him. He shrugged away from my hold around his waist and then enveloped his giant warm hand with mine.

"You must think I'm weak," he said, wiping away some stray tears with his right hand.

I looked at Daniel, knowing that weak was the last word I'd use to describe him. If it wasn't for his strength and his lovely soul I wouldn't have gotten through the years. Daniel wasn't big on warm and fuzzy moments so I kept what I thought about him to myself. He met my gaze, somehow reading what I thought, and pulled me closer.

"No, I don't," I replied, laying my head on his shoulder.

We sat like that for a while, watching the stars glitter in the sky. I could hear his deep breaths and I could feel his chest move in and out. Suddenly, I felt his hand release from mine and gently push my head up to face him.

"I'm leaving," he said, smiling.

For a minute I thought he was telling me that he was going back to the pack, but then I saw past the mask Daniel faithfully wore. He was talking about leaving, but this time it would be for good. I wanted to ask him so many questions, to calm the bees that flew around in my head. The longer we sat there in silence, the more I found myself trying to muster up the courage to ask him to elaborate. But I knew I didn't need to rush him. In his own time, on his own terms, he'd tell me everything. He always did.

"How are you?" he asked, holding my eyes with his.

I didn't know what to say. It wasn't abnormal for Daniel to worry about me, he was protective of me in that way. It just didn't make any sense though. Things have been thrust upon me so fast that I haven't been able to really focus on how I truly felt. This question was so short but very trivial. I smiled softly and then shrugged, hoping he'd let the question go.

"I guess this has been a lot for you. You know, with the marriage and the coronation. If I were you, I wouldn't be able to handle it all, but you seem...fine?" Daniel asked, nudging me in the shoulder.

I smiled. It was always like Daniel to try and push whatever was on my my mind out into the open. He usually was good at persistence, but now, in the moments that just passed, his talents were fading. I looked at him harder. He looked like he really wanted to talk about me but then there was something else on his mind. I nudged him back, yearning for one of his wide heart-birthed grins, but all I got was a dry, sorrow-filled chuckle.

"I'm not feeling okay. It's just..." The few words that I spoke were true but they felt like they were too much. The butterflies that fluttered their wings endlessly in my stomach tried harder to make me feel guilty. Who knew one single answer to a question could make me feel selfish.

" It's okay," he said," I'm listening."

As if those words were magic, I began to talk. I told him how missing my mother made me cry all the time and how I still remembered her each time I closed my eyes or looked in the mirror. I told him how getting married to Alexandru was something that I dreaded because I didn't love him and how being forced to become someone I was not really made me angry. The whole time I talked I switched my attention between the sky and Daniel's face. When I wasn't looking at him, he sighed sympathetically or played naturally with a strand of my hair, always listening. Each time I tried to steal a glance at him, he'd flip his hair over to cover his face. Not wanting to make him hide any longer, I kept my gaze on the moon and the stars and nothing else.

"What do you want in life?" he asked, after I finished talking.

It was an out of the blue question but I knew right away what my answer would be.

"It doesn't matter," I replied and it was true.

"Of course it does," Daniel countered, seriously.

I couldn't see his face but I knew his brows were tight in that firm way they curved when he felt strongly about something.

"Why," I asked, "should what I want matter?"

He didn't answer me, instead he just turned his head to face me. His face was blotched with red from the tears and his eyes were between grief and joy.

"What I want is not going to get me anywhere. As long as my father has these 'visions' for me and the packs' future, I'm condemned to be painted the way he wants me to be," I continued, looking down.

The moon was falling behind the trees, making a dark shadow fall over us. Only the sparse lightning bugs lit the air, disappearing every now and again.

"Sometimes, what we want to do and what we have to do are two different things," Daniel whispered, trying to catch a lightning bug.

"Like you leaving. Is that something you..." I started.

"I thought we were talking about you," he interrupted, harshly.

"Yes, we are talking about me but you asked me what I wanted and what I want is to know why you're leaving me now," I replied angrily, taken aback by his harshness.

It didn't occur to me how selfish my words sounded until there was silence filled only by the chirping of birds.

"Other times, what we want to and what we have to do, are the same thing," he said, sighing.

He didn't seem angry about my outburst. He just seemed calm- as if what he just said was making him feel better about what was soon to come.

"It can't be vice versa. Life isn't that way Daniel," I whispered.

He nodded, somehow agreeing and disagreeing at the same time. We were met with silence again but not for long. Daniel started humming an unfamiliar tune and then he laughed. It was the first real laugh he had since we came here. I wondered innocently about what was so funny but I was too ashamed to ask.

The sun was peeking out from beyond its fortress behind the clouds, waiting impatiently as the moon slowly made her descent into the mountains. Knowing that the party was coming to an end, I readied myself to stand but Daniel locked my wrists in his hands and kept me beside him.

"Stay," he whispered, and I did.

He told me that he fell in love and that her name was Elizabeth. When he talked about this red-headed, green eyed beauty who he called Beth, he never failed to mention she was a human. At first I was shocked but then it didn't sound so bad after seeing how happy Daniel was. Besides, he was more human than anyone here in this pack. A long time ago, he told me that because his mother was a human, when he came here he and his brother weren't accepted.

"Being a were-wolf is all about carrying on the gene, so to speak. Because I happen to be more human than wolf, there's a chance that my children may be human," Daniel had explained that night, after I had asked why he and Marius weren't accepted.

It was a cold night, much like this one. Marius was sleep inside the tent, his soft snores blanketing our conversation. When he explained the reasons why the pack didn't like him or his brother, a pained expression spread across his face. The look made him look older and then I began to wonder why he cared what others thought. I guess losing everything makes you desperate to be something in the eyes of everyone.

"It wouldn't matter if your children were human," I said, hoping that he'd see that I didn't hate him at all for what he was. Because really, he was just like me. A were-wolf. By blood and by spirit.

"Humans aren't supposed to know of our existence, and thats also why they hate us. They think that someday my species will be the downfall of this pack," he continued, and then as if he didn't hear my words, he grew silent.

"What was your mother like?" I asked, euphorically.

"You would have loved her," he said.

The way Daniel smiled when he talked about his mom was extraordinary. It was as if she was the sun in a night sky. Her name was Patricia and she couldn't care less if you had three legs or one eyeball. Daniel didn't have a picture of her because all their stuff was burned in a fire that took away their house. But by looking at Daniel and remembering Marius I could tell she was beautiful.

The death of Daniel's father tore Patricia apart. She usually got drunk to ease her pain but when that didn't work, she killed herself. I couldn't imagine losing my parents at such a young age.

All the sorrow that filled Daniel's soul seemed to have washed away as he talked about Beth. Now that he was happy, I didn't stop myself from asking question about his mysterious love.

"I met her when I went up North. Sometimes, I go to bars just to, you know, take a load off and that was where I met her. She seen something in my eyes and said "an Angel." It was awkward of course because she really sounded crazy but she looked quite intelligent. Well, we started talking and I immediately fell in love with her," Daniel explained.

"So...she's alright with you being a were-wolf?" I asked, softly.

He nodded and then sighed.

We talked about Daniel's fears, his doubts about leaving me, and mostly, Beth. He explained to me that the reason for his weird behavior was because he had a lot on his mind that he wanted to share with me. He also said that being with Beth made him see that it was okay to cry and just let off some steam sometimes.

"So let me get this straight. You're afraid to leave me because you think I might go crazy?" I asked, firmly.

"Yeah. I mean, you have no one here to listen to your problems. Unless you count your father, who isn't exactly supportive of anything you want," he replied, unperturbed by my anger.

"Hmm. Well, tell me a little more about this Southern bell that has you leaving your insane cousin to fend for herself," I said, rolling my eyes.

"She makes me laugh and if you look into her eyes..." As Daniel went on and on about Beth, I found myself drifting away. It wasn't usual for me to be jealous of someone, but me and Daniel were like conjoined twins. We did everything together when we were younger. I know that our brother/sister relationship will never fade once he leaves but what if he forgets me?

"Oh and I can't wait till' you meet her. I told her that she could meet my family. So what do you say?" Daniel asked, standing up and pulling me up with him.

I heard what he said but the words didn't fully process until I found myself slowly walking down the hill. Daniel followed, waiting patiently for me to answer his question.

"I don't know what to say," I replied and it was true. A part of me was honored that Daniel would want me to meet Beth instead of his sister but the other part of me was sad. My new life was starting and Daniel wasn't going to be a part of it if he left with this Beth person. To add on to my frustrations, he wants me to meet her, which I'm not looking forward to because I haven't talked to a human since I was a little girl. I know I can be civilized but because I'm jealous of her who knows what I might say or do.

"Well?" Daniel pushed.

I sighed. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard. Besides, if Daniel really wanted this, I could do his one thing for him. He gave me so much in the past, perhaps it was time for me to return the favor.

"I guess it'll be okay," I said, nodding my head.

Daniel smiled at me. It was the grin I'd been wanting to see all night. Suddenly, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. After his roller coaster of emotions, seeing Daniel smile was a sterling release. He kissed me on the forehead and then mouthed 'thank you.' And as he strode off into the night, his blond hair flipped dramatically to the side making me laugh. It was going to be hard letting him go but if I'd learned anything tonight, it was that sometimes you had to do what you wanted to do.

The sun was peaking over the contours of night, announcing that morning would be here in a couple of hours. Instead of heading back to the pack, I lay back and watched to sky. I could imagine my mother beside me, singing her magical melody. Soon, my eyes grew heavy and I was sound asleep.

--

Author's Note: Okay, some of you may not remember me and that's because I haven't been on here in a really long time. If you need to refresh your memory, my first story I started was entitled In the Land of Harmony. It is not finished and I haven't worked on it in a while but here's a story that I'm very proud of so enjoy.

Thanks for reviewing,

-Mistress of Words