Upon A Midnight.
- 192.6K words
What happens when a witch cut offs the alpha's paw and finds out that she is his mate? Amber is a free spirited witch; brave and cunning. She has a mind as sharp as a fox but a spirit as meek as a dove. Upon crossing paths with a rogue were wolf, she claimed his paw, the creature ran off to die. Or so she thinks. Weeks later, she stumbles across a pack with it's alpha missing a paw and then she realises that the alpha is her mate. Cliff is a ruthless alpha who was attacked by a witch who severed his paw. Full with rage and desperation, he hunts her down, desperate to find her. When he meets Amber, sparks start to fly. Little does he know that she's the culprit and she strives to hide this from him for the sake of their romance. Will their love stand true and defy the terrible consequences of Amber's secret or will it be exposed and all hell breaks loose.
Chapter One: The Beginning of a Journey
The sun had just begun to sink beneath the mountains, darkening the valley that had previously been bathed in sunlight. Amber ignored her steps as she crossed the woodland floor, looking up at the trees as they swayed quietly in the wind. She'd long since learned the trail into the dense woods from her riverside hut. Putting one foot in front of the other, watching the sky develop gorgeous shades of orange and red until it ultimately succumbed to night, had become second nature.
She groaned, finally lowering her head as she approached a downed tree. She knelt, laying her knee on the moss that had begun to decompose its fallen partner. Her fingers stroked the aged wood mournfully, feeling the lack of vitality run through them. The scratches that scarred its once gorgeous bark warned her that werewolves, like the rest of the forest's ruin, were to blame. Her face twisted in rage, and she got up again, hot tears filling her eyes.
Her auburn hair fanned out peacefully behind her as the cool wind carried it backward. It would soon be dark, and the wolves would retire to their camp for the night. She hoped that the forest's innocent lives would be able to flee this time, but the chances were slim. Someone had to die for the wolves to stop; it was unavoidable.
She studied the woodland floor for indications of a battle as she turned her head to the east. At first, her gaze glided over the rough terrain, focusing just on the rows of trees ahead. A loud rustle, followed by the flapping of many wings, caught her attention. Her eyes widened as she noticed birds flying hurriedly across the treeline from the west.
"Crap," she muttered as she snatched the hilt of her sword from its leather sheath. Her boots risked the falling terrain, weaving among the trees and returning the way the birds had come. The screams of a deer could be heard reverberating through the trees from a clearing ahead. She made no effort to hide her footsteps as they dashed against the grass and pebbles in a panic. The cries kept coming, propelling her legs faster and faster until she couldn't feel the forest floor under her.
She finally arrived in the clearing, surveyed the land with her blade still tightly gripped. Her gaze was drawn to the deer's crumpled corpse, moaning hopelessly on the ground in front of her. She dashed over to it in an instant, sliding on the ground alongside it and sheathing her sword. Her hands lingered gingerly over her side, assessing the injuries.
"Shh, it'll be okay," she reassured, stroking the deer's head as its eyes closed. It was a female with a severely scratched side. Her blood was still pouring from the wound, staining the earth scarlet.
Amber closed her eyes, clasped her hands together, and chanted, "Mutavit aspersione pulveris os."
The deer's eyelids fell as she heard the words, her wound reducing to a minor sting. Amber breathed a sigh of relief as she noticed the shimmery shield that covered the scratch and halted the bleeding. She had been practicing the magic on smaller wounds, nothing like this. Fortunately, the Goddess of the Forest had blessed her hands on that particular day.
"Let's go home, my friend," Amber suggested, delicately slipping her arms beneath the deer's body and putting them around her torso.
"Thank you, Amber," the doe said, the voice appearing in Amber's consciousness. She smiled warmly, comforted by the sound of her name. It was never apparent to her whether she was making a difference in the forest; seeing an animal she'd never met shout her name was enough to convince her otherwise.
Standing on the ground, she balanced her weight between her arms and returned to the jungle. The doe was young, and there wasn't much meat on her bones, which was presumably due to the werewolves that terrorized their woodland. With a swarm of mega-predators on the loose, it was difficult for any prey to find food and water, let alone dodge the predators.
Despite all of her precautions, such as ordering the animals to hunt during the day and stay near to home at all times, more of them died every day. Amber felt responsible for every life lost as a result of the Alpha's ruthless hunts, a feeling exacerbated by the fact that she felt completely powerless to stop him.
As they approached the river, the terrain grew muddy, coating her boots in a thick layer of filth as she walked through the stepping stones. The deer began to whine again as the enchantment began to wear off, feeling the once-sharp anguish return to her wound.
"It's okay, we're almost there," Amber said as they crossed the running stream and saw the stone cabin she called home. The worn path to the door was the only thing directing her inside now that it was dark. She sighed, shifting the deer's weight as the tension in her arms became apparent.
Amber stepped inside as the mahogany door slid open and shut behind her. She dashed over to the hospital table, carefully setting the deer down and inspecting her wound once more. As far as she could tell, it was still clean, but she wanted to disinfect it just in case.
"Just hold on, honey," she urged, listening as the doe's groans became softer. Amber was bleeding blood again, but she lacked the strength to do another sealing spell. She dashed across the room to her medicine cabinets, grabbing a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Her boots returned to the table, dipping the clear liquid onto the towel and carefully running it over the wound.
"Stupid werewolves, they think everything is theirs for the taking," she snarled, letting the wrath she'd been harboring for a year erupt.
She raised her hand again, hearing the deer's cries through the sting of the alcohol. It took all of her remaining strength to cast a sleeping spell.
"Somnum," she murmured, stroking her hair again as she fell asleep. Her hands worked swiftly on the scrape, gently running the towel along each line until she was certain it was clean. She tossed the cloth away and went back to the cabinet, where she pulled out a jar of patchouli ointment.
She had tried hard to avoid employing man-made therapies in her profession, but alcohol and herbs that were not found in the Washington forest were necessary. Her fingers smoothed the thick substance over the doe's wound, wrapping it with a linen bandage for the night.
Her arm wiped sweat from her brow, transferring it to her sleeve and into the woven pattern. She studied the tranquillity in the deer's features as she rested. After such a horrible day, a little smile brightened her dirt-stained face, illuminating her mind with delight.
She pushed off the table, snatching the dirty cloth and threw it across the room's thin rope. The ointment came next, with the lid closed and left aside for the next day. To be sure, it would have to be reapplied before the doe could leave.
As she crossed the room, she began to hum as she felt the strain from the evening leave her body. It was an old hymn, one she knew belonged to the Goddess she adored. One has no lyrics and a succession of notes that will put even the most fussy infant to sleep. She removed her boots by the door, double-checking that it had locked itself as she had bewitched. She nodded joyfully, turned away, and walked up the wooden staircase behind her.
The wood in the middle was old and squeaking from years of bringing Amber to bed. It had been a hard day when she built her healing hut; she had to haul boulders from the stream to build the walls, and she had only chosen wood from recently fallen trees in the neighboring forests. It had served her well to construct out of stone, employing resources she knew she wouldn't miss and protecting her from the severe winters.
A carefully constructed cot awaited her upstairs, draped in blankets and pillows produced from the cotton crop to the north. It had been planted many years ago, when the pack's territory was not as near to the human town. Amber smiled at the sight, finding solace in the sleep she was about to get.
Her bare feet crossed the floor before coming to a halt in front of the open window that overlooked the creek. The moon was high in the sky, creating lovely waves of light on the water and illuminating the sky.
"You've excelled yourself tonight, Ceres," she remarked as she propped her head up and leaned on the windowsill. After a long day, the Goddess knew how to make her happy, and this was no exception.
She drew the thin curtains in front of the scene and moved over to her clothing baskets as her legs began to ache. She unbuckled her belt, grasping the hilt of her sword as it slipped from her body and placing it on the chest behind her. She loosened her robe and tossed it to the ground in one rapid motion. She threw it in the dirty basket while pulling a cream dress from the clean one, bending down to pick it up. As she slid the dress over her head, she let out a big yawn, closing her eyes hard and making them flood.
The melody in her thoughts kept playing as she slid into her cot, tucking the sheets firmly against her body and trapping in her heat for the night. She closed her sleepy eyes and cuddled up, settling into the cold pillow at her head.
Suddenly, she found herself in a condition of total tranquility, considerably greater than any peace she had before experienced. Her body seemed to soar upwards, away from her bed and into the sky, where she could breathe in the pure air.
She finally opened her eyes. It wasn't clear where she was at first, and no matter how hard she tried to recognize the dense woodland in front of her, she couldn't. Her gaze dipped to her right hand, where she could feel the weight of her broadsword. It was lit up in a beautiful blue glow and buzzed silently in her grasp.
Her brow furrowed at the peculiar spell, which she had not recognized from the many literature she had studied as a child while learning witchcraft. This spell had the potential to cause harm, which she avoided at all costs, even against her adversaries.
"Enemies," she said quietly, realizing the sole reason she was armed. Her head raised, her eyes darting about for any sign of danger. Instead, she was startled by loud wailing, which drew her attention to a man on the ground.
He was stunningly beautiful, with a big scar over one of his gorgeous blue eyes. Amber stood motionless, watching as the man's face distorted in agony. She tried to take a step forward, to assist him in any way she could, but she was paralyzed. She screamed in frustration, fighting the force that seemed to be squeezing her.
There was something about him that she hadn't felt before. It was as if she was the only one who could save him from his agony, which she really wanted to do.
"What are you showing me, Ceres?" She pleaded, feeling a new force form in her chest.
"He is your soulmate," a high voice said, filling her ears with a soothing sound. She breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that her Goddess would not let her lover die. She had always been there for Amber, shielding her from the harsh realities of life and providing her with a safe haven.
The power in her chest got stronger, and she stared in horror as the man continued to cry, unprotected from the misery she was feeling for herself. Her mouth opened in protest, as if she wanted to beseech Ceres for assistance, but her breath was redirected.
She let out a loud gasp as she noticed the big, infamous figure over his shoulder. It was a wolf, big enough to be the thing she detested the most. Her heart stopped, and she let out an ear-splitting scream that she didn't realize was coming from her mouth. She let the blade fall to her side, clattering noisily on the ground as she knelt to her knees.
The wolf turned to face her, its intimidating gaze piercing her whole soul. She wanted to fight, but her body appeared to have lost its strength. The helpless feeling she had worked so hard to avoid had returned, haunting her with terrifying pictures and threats of violence. Weak gasps escaped her voice as she watched the black shadow advance its gigantic paws towards her.
Her ears were filled with a deep snarl as its eyes narrowed. As the wolf's jaws opened, displaying a set of razor-sharp teeth, her arms moved behind her, attempting to back away. But it was pointless; the invisible force that was keeping her down would not let her go.
"Please," she begged.
The wolf made its final approach, pausing just briefly before lunging for her head.
"Help!" she shouted, rising from her cot and firmly placing her hands on the sheets. Her breath was ragged and broken, and her hairline was slick with sweat.
She hastily searched the room for a threat she imagined was still present. Despite her intense trepidation, she swept over every nook and dark spot, coming up empty-handed. She threw the covers away from her body and tentatively placed her feet on the ground, finally satisfied with her safety.
It was now early morning, and she doubted she could sleep again. Her head fell between her knees with a tiny groan, trying to quiet the panic that was building up in her stomach. She watched the swirling patterns in the wood on the floor to quiet her heart. It was throbbing quickly in her chest, screaming to be relieved of the nightmare that had so severely distressed her.
When she sat back down, the image of her soulmate entered her mind. Ceres would not have showed her something so powerful unless it was necessary. This was a calling; a call to save someone she'd never met.
She gathered the strength to stand and hurried quickly across the room to her garment basket to change. She put on a new robe, putting it around her waist and attaching her sword belt. Her gaze hardened as she tightened the leather strap, her legs going determinedly to the stairway.
Her connection to the forest informed her that the man was nearby and that he required her assistance. She'd travel miles only to find out who he was and save him from the werewolves who had already taken so much from her.
When she got to the bottom of the steps, she dashed into the healing chamber, where the doe was still sweetly sleeping on the table. She examined her wound, noticing the light pink scar that had formed over yesterday's bloody scrape.
She surprised herself by smiling, knowing that this level of scarring was enough to send her home.
"Wake up, dear friend," she said softly, her loving hand on the deer's neck.
"Am I healed?" the gentle creature said as she sat up, her gaze fixed on Amber.
She nodded, watching as life returned to her eyes and lifted her off the table. Amber offered her assistance, grabbing her by the torso and gently placed her on the wood floor. She stepped slowly across the floor, her front legs still tingling with pain when she moved. When she got to the door, it opened for her, exposing a lovely afternoon.
"Thank you," the doe said quietly as she walked out of the home and back into the trees.
All distractions were gone, and she could start packing. She grabbed a rucksack hanging on the wall, which was already stuffed with extra medical items she hadn't yet distributed. She walked over to the kitchen and picked a bushel of berries, a few pieces of bread, and a flask of water, stuffing them into the bag with a few herbs.
The rest of her belongings she could live without for a few weeks while she hoped to return with the guy she had been asked to save. She took a careful look around her house, inspecting every crevice in the stone walls, shelf, and cabinet. It was unusual for her to be out from home for so long, and this would be her first outing since her visit to the temple months before. It was warmer back then, closer to summer than the autumn the woodland was approaching.
She had prayed to Ceres for guidance, for a purpose other than the one she had already been given. Serving the forest had always been a privilege for her, but she craved more. She breathed sharply before slipping her boots on and going through the open door. She knew her prayer had been answered when she saw the sun begin to rise perfectly above the river.
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