Bound to My Mate Ch. 14byDoctorWolf©
You know I'm addicted to the commentary, so please let me know what you think. Thank you to everyone for reading. Enjoy – DW
The next morning dawned much too quickly and I stretched out waking up. I sensed a familiar presence before I opened my eyes. It wasn't a surprise to see Joel leaning on the desk when I did.
"Your scent is back," I told him groggily.
Joel came to lay beside me on the tiny bed and then pulled me to straddle him.
"All the spells are worn off," he told me. "The girls are awake, Anthony is awake, and Lucas' wound finally stopped enlarging."
I was wide awake all of the sudden. "What do you mean about Lucas?"
"Nate said you all saw him about an hour after the attack. The wound continued to enlarge until he went to see the healer late last night. Most of the muscle of his shoulder and front leg is still exposed."
"Oh, no Joel, I didn't know. I'm so sorry. I should have insisted he see the healer right away," I moaned dropping my face onto his chest.
"There's no reason to be sorry, love. The healer couldn't do anything either. The wound just grew and grew. Finally it stopped. We were just lucky he wasn't hit with a larger or more direct dose," Joel soothed.
"How did he even know to get out of the way? I thought these spells never affected anybody?" I mused.
"Once again," Joel sighed, "I do owe you a debt of gratitude for not listening to me. I told everyone what that spell did when it hit Anthony. They were all very cautious during the attack. No one wanted to be knocked out like that. If Lucas had been hit with a larger dose or more directly there is no telling what could have happened."
That made me feel better about being so stubborn. Something good did come out of it.
"Are you going to let them out?" I asked referring to the pack in the secure room.
"Already have," he told me. "The shipyard would be a ghost town if we left it to the few humans I hire."
I got up and we went upstairs to bathe and change. It was hard for me not to notice all the new cameras. They were unobtrusive, but they were everywhere inside the den.
"Nobody is sneaking up on us again," Joel told me as we walked through the hallways.
I'd never seen an attack like the night before. Now the security meetings were a lot more interesting. I started to pay more attention and started to get the hang of how it worked.
Emily noted my increased interest and started looking for interesting articles on the topic for me. Neither Emily nor I was particularly well versed in the subject, but she made it her mission I be prepared. I encouraged the initiative and was rewarded with something new to read every day.
Our studies soon said the same thing Joel already thought, security in the woods was going to be tricky. Joel and I finally settled for clearing them away by another fifty yards in every direction. We toyed with several ideas and eventually settled on a round the clock guard to video surveil them. It wasn't like we lacked the manpower, that was for sure.
The only problem with the eyes in the sky watching the perimeter was the rest of the pack. It became a game to see who could distract them while someone else played a prank. Usually the pranksters just pointed out where the security team wasn't watching.
I thought Joel would be angry when he found out what they were doing.
"Angry?" he asked me. "Hardly, they've made their point and my security has heeded the warning. Their game, as of yet, is not disruptive and it keeps the detail on its toes."
Joel continued to update security at the den. He even went so far as to make the windows bullet resistant. His main concern seemed to be places where the pack Council went together. Joel didn't want his most valued advisors left exposed when they were in a group.
"For too long we have depended on our native strength. There are weapons now that could do us serious bodily harm. Who knows what is coming next," he said and I agreed with him.
With everything going on at home it was easy to miss what was going on in the rest of the world. With all the extra security, I felt like we were protected from whatever was happening. Other packs weren't as lucky.
The calls started as a trickle at first and then they became daily. At first it was mostly reports of rogue attacks. Later, it became thefts and break ins on pack property. None of it seemed to have any strategic link. The wolves just seemed bombarded from all sides.
Those simple breaches of security didn't really concern the wolves too much. The rogue attacks were common, in their own way. It was just an upsurge. At first everyone just assumed the thefts were perpetrated by witches. That was bothersome, but not dangerous. Overall, they seemed to consider it a containable threat.
The wolves didn't galvanize until later. A pack out west had a human business rival steal valuable trade secrets from deep within the den and their patience was at an end. Involving the humans was dangerous territory.
"The pack doesn't know who took the information and whoever it is knows too much," Joel ranted to me. "Our secret is at stake, our very future is at stake."
It wasn't just that in danger, though. Our lives were at stake
As I watched Lucas slowly heal from his injury, I was positive the menace could get much worse. Lucas took weeks to improve, which was unusual for a wolf. I shuddered when I thought about what that spell could do. If it could be 'weaponized' it could tear the packs apart. Evidently I wasn't the only one to see promise in that evil design.
Joel got a call from an Alpha Samuel Devoe early one morning. The spell that had glanced off of Lucas had hit several of his highest ranking Betas directly and insignificant quantity. The wolves suffered hours of agony as their bodies were dissolved by the tonic. One wolf died when it destroyed his heart.
"Those spells can kill a were wolf?" I asked Joel stunned.
I didn't really realize much could kill us, besides another wolf. It was hard to process.
"Removing the head from the body or destroying the brain can kill a wolf. Enough injury to the heart can also kill," Joel told me.
I paced inside our bedroom and Joel sat on the bed staring out over the forest.
"Why would someone do that?" I asked Joel finally.
"Rank," Joel said. "Samuel said his Betas were on a regular training run. One of them had circled around to try a blitz attack on his buddies, just for fun. He saw the witches as his friends rounded a sharp curve in the mountain trail. The spell poured down out of the trees and the witches shouted the incantation as they sped off on all terrain vehicles."
"The only wolf left made a choice and followed the witches. He called in reinforcements and the pack's trackers caught up to the witches as they left Samuel's territory."
Joel started to pace as I sat down heavily, but he continued to talk. "The witches went straight back to a diner and met with some of Samuel's younger pack members. Money changed hands."
"When the wolves were questioned back at the den, Samuel forced it out of them. They didn't like their jobs, hated listened to the old guys always telling them what to do. They hired the witches to do away with the competition. They thought they would move up the pack's chain of command faster this way."
I sat in stunned silence for a moment. "What about the witches? Did anyone question them? Do you know how they made the spell?"
"Yes, Samuel's wolves caught up with them. If those witches knew the spell, they took it to their graves. They had bought it from someone else and had it shipped across the country."
Joel stopped pacing for a moment and the fury on his face was indescribable.
"There is a website the witches told Samuel about. It is a dating website, do you know about those?" he asked me.
"I've heard of them," I admitted.
"If you type in the correct description of what you are looking for it sends back your perfect match, right?" he asked rhetorically. "This site, if you type a certain string of qualifiers it hooks you up with the seller of these potions."
"You can order 'the destroyer', 'the secret', or 'sleeping beauty'. The seller ships them to you overnight with a copy of the necessary incantation. The seller does note you need a real witch to activate 'the destroyer'. The other two will work if ingested." I thought about the spells we had seen, "These have all been used here?" I asked.
"Yes, you know the destroyer, that's what hit Lucas," Joel answered. "Sleeping beauty you saw with Anthony, causing unconsciousness, and the secret is what the rogues used to attack us. Used in combination they are deadly."
"Anyone has access to these spells?" I asked him shocked.
No wonder the attacks had seemed so haphazard and disorganized. There was no central bad guy behind it all. The whole thing was just for profit.
"Oh no, love, it gets worse. The seller promises there will be other products brought to market soon enough and to keep checking back," Joel said staring out the window.
"Should we buy some and test it?" I asked.
"Yes, but I am loathe to do it," Joel said.
"We will be lining the pockets of whoever is doing this, funding their research into how to best kill and disarm us," he shot back.
"We need to know, Joel. We can't be the last to have checked this out," I said stroking his arms. "I agree with you, but we have to do something. Is there any way to hack the site and find the seller?"
"Are you much a computer hacker, love?" he asked viciously turning to face me.
"You have an entire pack at your disposal. Some of them are damned sneaky, I bet you have a couple pretty good hackers right here," I said gesturing to the den.
"What is the proper way to invite them to go rogue? Perhaps I should give them the money to buy their way to a different life?" he said sarcastically.
I stopped stroking his arms and watched his face. The stream of emotions I felt when I tapped into his mind was confusing. Anger, embarrassment, distrust, and fear were all there. None of these emotions I was used to getting from Joel.
"Spill," I demanded. "What's going on?"
"Five of my pack members went rogue and I completely missed the signs. What if there are others out there? This pack is too large, there are too many to watch. What if given the right tools they decided to try it again," he said sounding defeated.
"You told me once to trust my pack and I believe it was good advice. You knew those wolves were troubled, you had seen the signs. I'm sure we are both sorry for the way it played out, but you were not blind to it. You just didn't act on what you saw. If you saw those behaviors again, would you let it go?" I asked him.
"I would not ignore it like I did," Joel said sitting on the bed.
"Do you see behaviors that you find concerning in other pack members? The violence against their family, the anger, do you see any of it?" I pressed.
Joel sat for a moment and thought about it, "No," he finally said. "Everyone seems to be clinging tightly together, not splintering apart. They seem closer than ever. No one wants to see harm come to the pack."
"Who would be best to try to hack this system?" I asked quietly.
"There is a group that everyone teases for their love of electronics. I've heard they are quite good at getting where they are not supposed to on the computer," he said looking up.
He considered me for a moment and smiled. "I enjoy having someone I can talk to," he said breathing more normally. "It was just me for so long. I never felt I could open myself to anyone completely. I am afraid I have been considered too secretive by my pack. They just couldn't offer me solace and advice when I needed it."
"You are too secretive," I grinned at him. "You totally freaked me out when we first met."
"Dealing with a human had certain disadvantages," he shrugged pulling me onto his lap. "At first, I was overwhelmed and you know what happened. Your smell was so tantalizing, I had to have a taste of you, but I scared you. I was not prepared for your fear and struggled with how to do it correctly after that. I did have plans, but then the rogues took you."
I kissed his lips and ran my hands through his hair. "You did a good job once you had me here," I mused. "What had you planned to do, if the rogues hadn't interfered?"
Joel grinned and answered, "I was going to try taking you out to dinner and dancing. My plan was for us to end up back here. I hoped to seduce you into my bed and then not let you leave until you swore you were mine."
"I don't dance," I told him seriously, "so I'm glad you didn't do that. The rest of it you did a good job of, although the not letting me leave part was seriously annoying."
"Let me make it up to you," Joel said stroking my back and laying me on the bed.
"Oh no," I said bouncing up, "we have potions to buy and systems to hack. Get yourself up and let's find those hackers of yours."
We bought the potions on line and had them shipped, just like every other pack. I suggested we buy several orders of the spells, so we could test them and Joel agreed. I wondered out loud if we should buy enough to use ourselves as weapons.
"Absolutely not," Joel stated with finality, "we are doing this to find out where they are coming from and to stop them. This pack doesn't need that type of assistance to be strong."
The hackers got to work right away. They got into the on line dating system, but were shut down with a series of false names and addresses. That didn't deter them in the least.
The computer guys were relentless and all the attention from the Alpha spurred them to work harder. Soon we had to take their computers away to get them to sleep or eat. They were determined to find out where the spells were coming from.
Once the spells arrived they were taken directly to Sarah, the healer, for study. Joel told me Sarah's grandmother had been a witch. She had taught Sarah everything she could about spells.
Joel wasn't willing to use his other witch contacts. After Ryana's death, neither of us thought it would be wise to involve her family or friends. Lucky for us, Sarah had listened closely to her grandmother's teaching.
I spent a lot of time in the infirmary with Sarah. Thanks to my training I was considered a healer. Since Sarah was working on the spells full time, I took up her role.
My wolf luxuriated in this position. I was necessary and providing a much needed service. The care I provided soothed my beast's need to provide for her pack. I felt better than I ever had inside the den.
I continued to be grateful the wolf and I had come to some accord on the issue. My night time excursions would have not been tolerated right now. I spent long hours in the infirmary doing whatever was needed of me and it kept me calm.
In addition to that benefit being in the infirmary full time allowed me to watch Sarah dissect the magic. A mini lab was erected in one end of the infirmary. I watched Sarah try to determine what was in the different potions.
"Are you a witch, too?" I asked Sarah one afternoon while she worked.
"No, Madam Alpha, I am a wolf. The magic of the wolf and the magic of the witch cannot be interchanged. My grandmother was a witch that mated to a wolf and gave birth to my father, also a wolf. The witch's magic still runs in my line, though. My daughter, when she conceives, could give birth to a wolf or a witch," Sarah patiently explained.
I pondered what she had said for several moments until an 'Ah-hah', brought me back to reality.
"They have a source," Sarah said confidently standing up. "This spell was made from the body of a werewolf."
Sarah looked at me like I should be impressed. I was happy she had figured it out, but the explanation didn't make any sense to me.
"That's great, Sarah," I said with fake enthusiasm. "I'll go get Joel and you two can discuss it."
"I apologize, Madam Alpha, I forget how new you are to this. Do you have any idea what a source is?" she asked sitting back down.
"If you are sitting down again I assume it is something complicated," I answered watching her.
"A source is an old concept. The witches say with the right amount of time and the influence of enough magic a wolf's body could be made to give up its secrets. They believed they could tap into the source of that werewolf's power," she explained.
"They have a wolf held captive?" I asked in horror.
I couldn't imagine someone strong enough to trap a wolf.
"No, no," she shook her head, "a source must be willing, completely willing. The witches believe that any restraint on the wolf's part would destroy the spell. There can be no trickery or coercion involved when dealing with source magic."
"That is different," I said looking at the clear vials of magic in front of me.
That meant a wolf was part of all this, a willing part.
"They literally make the spells from pieces of the wolf after the source has been prepared," she said standing up and pacing. "Something is wrong with this, though. My grandmother studied source magic. She said the physical spells should have limitless capacity. They should last as long as the person casting them wishes them to. These spells wear off after six to twelve hours. They don't even last the day."
"You sound upset by that, Sarah," I stated feeling uneasy suddenly.
"No, Madam Alpha, I am not upset. I am confused. My grandmother studied this magic with the help of a willing participant, my grandfather. She was very concerned with the power generated by the magic. She told me of the infinite potential of source magic. These new spells have a definite shelf life, so to speak."
"Explain your worry to me," I said prompting her.
"What if they aren't using a willing participant? There is something that is limiting the capacity of this magic. It's the reason I didn't think it was source magic initially, it just wore off too fast. Now, though, I have proof," she said continuing to pace and watch the vials.
"What proof do you have?" I asked.
"Look in the microscope," she pointed, "and tell me what you see."
I looked in the scope and saw a familiar looking shape floating in front of me.
"Cells, maybe red blood cells, I can't tell from this magnification," I said looking closely and adjusting the dials.
"That is the spell called 'the secret'," she said. "If I pulled up 'the destroyer' you'd see flecks of bone. I'm fairly certain 'sleeping beauty' contains brain matter. One of the packs up north has a member that is a pathologist in the human world. If Alpha Latro agrees, I'll ask him to check out my suspicions."
"Wouldn't a wolf die if you took brain matter?" I asked looking at her.
"Yes, if you took or destroyed the entire brain, but they are probably taking bits at a time. It would induce great suffering, but it would not kill that way." Sarah stood silently watching my reaction.
"Could they just use a dead were wolf?" I asked.
"If the wolf agreed beforehand, perhaps, but that's why we burn our dead. Part of it stems from our belief that burning releases the wolf's spirit to be reborn, part of it is protective. No one can use the ash."
"These are probably really basic questions, aren't they?" I asked feeling embarrassed.
"Yes, but I understand you were not raised with this. Alpha Latro probably hasn't had time to teach you everything you need to know," she sighed.
I sat and thought about everything she had told me. I was still confused, but it was making more sense.
"You think the rogue packs had something to do with this?" I asked.
"Possibly," she said starting to pace again.
"Do you want me to call Joel?"
She grimaced and looked around the quiet infirmary.
"Ask him to summon the Council and politely request they meet us here. They will want to see proof of what I am claiming," she said.