Book One: Chernobyl

Prologue: Always be prepared. Nothing is true. Death is not an obstacle. The path to the light is covered in shadows. These are the oldest of our laws and we follow them at all cost. We, who were driven out of the pack for a crime we did not commit. Others may not see it, but the hatred within the pack runs deep and there are some things you can never run from. Old laws will be rediscovered and our presence will become known to all. We shall exact the revenge that is our birthright. We shall leave our mark on history and the entire world shall be witness. My name is Lucio Alfieri and I am an Assassin.

Adela scented the air, hoping to catch a whiff of what she was looking for. Though the air was filled with the scents of the forest, her highly trained nose could pick out the bitter scent of yarrow. Satisfied, she quickly moved to where the herb was growing.

She turned back to her human form and bent down to gather the yarrow. She put the unusual looking herb into her satchel along with the rest of the herbs she had collected. Aurora would be pleased to find that her apprentice was almost as skilled in finding herbs as she was.

Changing back into her wolf form, she bounded away through the sun-dappled forest, the brittle, fragile leaves snapping under her paws. It was autumn, and the trees were ablaze with brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow. Autumn was her favorite time of year. The air had just enough of a bite to it to keep her alert, but it wasn't so cold that she had to bundle up.

She scented the air once more, but this time she wasn't looking for herbs. She had promised that she'd meet her brothers at the abandoned daycare center at the edge of the woods. She could just barely pick up their scents among the myriad of smells that wafted through the crisp forest air.

It wasn't long before she could see the old daycare center. Its walls were crumbling, forced apart by the roots of the vines that grew along its walls. Its windows were still intact, though they were covered in dust and grime. There were still cots in the ancient building where human children used to sleep while their parents were at work.

She nudged the rust-covered door open and peered inside. She could easily make out her brothers' jet-black pelts against the brownish-gray of the walls.

"Vince, Lucio," she called. Immediately, the smaller wolf pricked his ears and turned towards her.

"Adela!" he barked cheerfully. "I was convinced you wouldn't come."

"Why would you think that?" she asked.

"Well, you've been so busy with your work lately that I thought you wouldn't have any time left for your lowly brothers!" he teased.

"You know I'm not like that, Lucio," she growled playfully.

"What did you want to talk to us about?" the larger wolf growled irritably.

"You don't have to be so grumpy all the time, Vince," Adela scoffed. "Anyways, I wanted to ask you something important.

"Would you just spit it out already? I don't have all day to waste here." Vince snapped. Adela glared at him, annoyed.

"I wanted to ask you if you've chosen who you want to be apprenticed to yet." she asked her brothers. Vince and Lucio were identical twins. They looked exactly alike, except for the fact that Vince was considerably larger and stronger than Lucio. She, on the other hand, looked nothing like her brothers. Where their fur was as black as night, hers was as white as snow and her icy blue eyes were far different from their burning gold ones.

"I'm not really interested in anything," Lucio mumbled, his cheerfulness from earlier vanished.

"That's because you aren't any good at anything," Vince growled. "I, on the other hand, have decided that I want to be a member of the Inner Circle," he declared.

"A member of the Inner Circle? Why? You know they'll never except you unless you're one of them from the moment you're born," she cautioned.

"You don't know that," he said defensively. "Besides, I want to help lead the pack. We've been falling apart for ages now. We're not as tightly knit as we were when we first came here."

"That's because the pack has gotten so much bigger since we came here. We can't be closely knit if we see less than half of the other pack members every day," Lucio told him.

"That's what I want to change. I think that we should make the pack smaller; get rid of the criminals that stalk our streets to make room for feelings of kinship between the good, hardworking, and honest members," Vince explained.

"That's terrible! You can't just throw away lives like that," Adela said in disbelief.

"You would say that, Healer!" Vince retorted. "You spend your days with your muzzle buried in herbs and your mind filled with useless stories!" he spat venomously. Adela recoiled, shocked by the hate in her older brother's voice. Why was he being so narrow-minded?

"Don't talk to her like that!" Lucio barked. "How can you be so cruel?"

"The world is full of cruel things, brother," Vince spat out the last word like it tasted foul. "I'm leaving. I don't have all day to waste chatting with you fools." With that, the black wolf stalked out of the old daycare center, his eyes blazing with fury.

Lucio looked at Adela apologetically before following after his brother. Once again, Vince had managed to turn what was supposed to be an enjoyable day into a complete nightmare.

She stepped out of the stuffy old building into the clear, fresh air. She breathed in deeply, comforted by the sweet scents of the forest.