20. The Challenge

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Athena felt the familiar rush of anger flow through her veins, but she was surprised to realize that it wasn't she who was feeling it. She looked at Ryder who stood beside her visibly shaking and was about to charge into the golden eyes that looked at them through the darkness. She slowly reached out and held Ryder's hand, feeling him flinch.

'No. I am not offended. Let's stand right here. If an attack is unavoidable, we have more room to move here.'

Grunting, Ryder gave a small nod, and Athena felt him trying to calm himself down.

Our bond is growing. She thought, grimly amused.

"Show yourself." She shouted to the voice.

A man, well built and of olive skin, walked into the light, staring at Athena, which was a feat of its own because not many managed to do that with the Queenly aura that now radiated from her.

"Raphael," Ryder gritted out. "Do not do anything stupid."

"I remember you," Athena whispered. "You were one of the two I missed."

"Oh, so the killer Queen recognizes her victims. Isn't that just lovely." he spat out

"I only did as I was asked. That was long before I was aware of the existence of your world."

"Is that the only reason why you decided you wouldn't follow her?" Ryder asked.

"With all due respect, Lord Ryder, I do not mind if you lead us. She isn't fit to rule. None of the Wolfborns will ever be fit to rule, not after what her father did."

Silence struck the grounds, only to be interrupted by the occasional crackle of flames from the holders on the walls of the ground. Athena glanced at Ryder once more to ascertain his reaction. She, for one, had accepted that she wasn't ever going to know the whole truth about her past anytime soon. Athena sighed.

"I am just going to sit here and watch you boys fight it out. I have no reason to get angry and I totally understand his point of view. Honestly, Raphael, we called all the Alphas together to form a council to lead the people since I know that I am not capable enough for this. While I am sure I will be able to defeat you in any challenge, that is not my intention as of now. Besides, all I know about my father is that he was a just king and a traitor, which doesn't make sense to me. I intend to find out sooner or later, but we have other pressing matters at hand."

Raphael was taken aback at her laid-back reply and it only added fuel to the fire that raged in him. "You dare to mock me by treating me as a weakling?"

"Oh no, Alpha, I really don't want to fight after the little trip down memory lane that Ryder and I just had when you intruded. Besides, an attack is imminent. We have to prepare for that. We will discuss this during the meeting with the all the alphas and if all of you want me to give up the throne, I am only more than happy to do so."

"Enough! Enough with your lies and deceit Wolfborn, I trusted your blood once, and my pack suffered for it. Never again will I allow the same mistake to happen twice." He shouted and ran towards her, sword drawn and ready to strike.

Athena stood up slowly, readying herself for the attack as Ryder fumbled to find a sword.

'His fight is with me, Ryder. Besides, let's just count this as practice.' she said, grinning wide, confusing the blur that was headed towards them. The mask she often placed before making her kill, fell on once more, locking all her feelings away. A cold blooded killer stood in her place.

Using his confusion as an opening, Athena ran forward, taking the fight to him. She struck his blade, that he brought up to shield himself a little too late, and looked at him in the eye, still grinning like a madwoman. "You asked for this." She whispered before pushing herself off of him and coming back to attack him multiple times.

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