Prologue- The Initiation
"Rise, Lydia Ashby, daughter of the Pack." The girl gracefully stood from her subservient kneel under the alpha's hand. Her violet eyes sparkled brilliantly in the moonlight. She wasn't nervous. Oh, no. She was ready.
"From this night, you will serve the Pack with your life." Lydia moved to face the Pack, the apparition of a goddess. She was clothed in a white shift that contrasted sharply with her jet black hair. Her face was set in stone, despite the wild excitement rushing through her.
She waited impatiently as he finished repeating his words in Greek, as he had done the entire ceremony. She fluently esponded in kind. "I accept."
The alpha, her father, used the ceremonial knife to quickly cut her outstretched palm. As instructed, she squeezed closed her palm and shut her eyes and merely waited, searching for a calling of some sort - a longing. Abruptly, without her own say so, her arm violently jerked outright and her hand opened. Crimson dripped on the primitive sketches etched on the ground, each representing a different type of shifter. Earlier that day, Lydia herself had traced them with the point of an arrow. Now, she bent and touched one finger to the picture on which her blood had fallen. Her breath caught in her throat, terrified.
It was eerily silent. She could feel dozens of eyes bearing down on her as she crouched, bathed in the moonlight. Her father leaned down and she spoke almost inaudibly in his ear.
(To be continued)...
...Her bones began to mold to those of an animal. Lydia writhed and shrieked on the ground, a fine sheen of sweat coating her. Kaden clutched her hand with his own, the muscles flexing in his arm. He spoke urgently in her ear, offering encouragement. She could only sob wildly in reply. Her muscles ripped and her bones broke, waves of pain rolled over her.
In the very back of her mind, she vaguely recalled a legend her father had told her when she was very young. It told of a Cherokee man teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, pain, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson had thought a moment and asked, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
As Lydia felt her body be torn in two, ripped to a mass of broken bones, she found strange peace in such an old tale, and though she would never admit, understanding. Focusing on the pain and despair only worsened it, she felt. With everything left inside her, she summoned all the strength in her body, wailing one last final time as the final change tore through her.
And suddenly, it was over. Lydia felt her old skin melt away to lean muscle and rippling black fur. It was silent for a moment as the clearing stood struck by awe. Then, a shot rang out.