Twenty Three

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The cold bit into her skin as she stood at the lakes edge. Earth and snow squashed between her toes.

A deathly silence had overtaken the space. The only sound being that of water lapping gently at the edge of the ground.

The moon had risen high into the sky and a cold wind whipped through the air, moving her hair back from her face and away from her neck, leaving her bare.

The atmosphere was strange. A mixture of hurt and despair along with suspense.

No one knew what the world would now bring, where the Goddess would guide them. The last of the High Alpha's had been killed. Murdered no less and now the wolves were left without clear leadership.

Adelaide knew they would look to her for leadership. The thought passed through her mind easily as she stood in the lake, the water lapping against her bare skin.

But she was no leader, only an executioner.

Everything she had done in life had led to this point, whether it be by her own will or not, and she knew where it would lead her.

She was coming closer and closer to being reunited with her family once again. A peaceful afterlife was all that she could ask for, she had given so much, and only wanted something small in return.

But none of that mattered in the current moment.

The snowfall had stopped for a small moment as their ceremony began. The bodies of the dead floated around her in the lake behind her. Their arms crossed and faces serene in death.

Adelaide walked before them. Her ceremonial robes turning translucent in the water but glowing softly in the night's darkness. She looked out before her at the vastness of the lake before stopping just before the water became to deep. Her feet balanced on top of the smooth pebbles under the soles of her feet and she waited.

She swayed with the water as it moved softly around her. No one moved, no one spoke. They only watched in silence, taking comfort in the person next to them as their loved ones were sent home to the Moon. Many had never seen such a ritual, most of the packs had their own traditions they followed, but Moon Fang always stayed faithful to the Moon.

The moon had crested at its highest peak when her arms spread out beside her, slicing the world before her in two. Her body rose up and her feet rested upon the smooth surface of the water.

Her lips parted and she sucked in a breath as power filled her. The ethereal glow that was so familiar to her encompassed her once more and her eyes filled with silver fire as pain filled her. Her voice was hoarse as she began to speak the rights of the dead.

"The Goddess calls you home."

Her voice, although strong, held the sadness that any child would feel when saying goodbye to a parent. She was about to let go to the very last piece of her father, until she would meet him again. And although she had done it before, it was no easier than the others.

"Your duty to her is now fulfilled."

She could feel each of them. Her bonds with them breaking as they passed through the gate and into the Goddess's arms. The Goddess sympathised with her Conduit, it was clear on her face and from the feelings that ran through Adelaide's body. For the first time since the Pack Wars that the Geata na Mòine had been opened with a ceremony. For many it was the first time they were setting eyes on their Goddess.

"She will embrace you."

A ghostly hand clasped onto her shoulder and a shiver past over her skin. She turned her head to find the ghostly ethereal form of her father's soul. Golden and pure as was his soul, he shone against the night light. A beacon of power. He looked at her with such sadness but such relief in his eyes and she thought hard to hold her tears at bay.

His suffering had finally ended.

My Gaisgeil. The words were whispered into her mind and her throat constricted at the sob that threatened to be released. In that moment, she felt the Goddess's power wrap around her, to give her strength to carry on.

As he smiled at her for the final time and his touch left her, she looked to the gate and her heart squeezed in her chest. They all stood, watching her. The Goddess with her arms open wide as she embraced her father in well-deserved embrace.

He held her for but a moment before turning to her mother and falling into her arms. Adele Jones's eyes met those of her daughters, and she smiled wide and proud. Her brothers stood tall and strong, as strong in death as they were in life.

She longed to feel their touch on her skin and their words in her ears. Adelaide watched as they retreated, and the Goddess looked upon her for a final time before walking backwards and dissipating. Her small gift to her Conduit dissipating with her.

The lake turned dark as the gate closed and she slipped back into the icy water. Her emotions overcoming her as she stood, staring into nothing.

Murmurs had broken out around her as the wolves came to terms with what they had seen but she ignored them all. She turned from her past, her pain and walked back towards the alter through the water. She pulled the diadem from the crown of her head as she walked, her hair protesting as she pulled it out of place. Small waves formed from her strong movements as she strode from the water and dropped the diadem to the wet ground. Not caring for its delicate nature.

Leonidas tried to grab her attention as she walked towards him but she ignored his words and motioned for Adam, who stood waiting, watching, and motioned for him to follow her.

She melted into the treeline as she put her back to the wolves, she had always fought so hard to protect but had not done the same for her. She moved quickly and Adam kept pace silently behind her as they made their way back to her den.

Adelaide entered without glancing around and moved quickly to the chest that held some of her clothes. She ignored Adam's presence as she stripped from her ceremonial garb and stood bare. She felt his gaze as he watched her dress. He was still a male after all.

"What is going on?" He asked her.

His curiosity had peaked as she fastened her cloak around her neck, its length covering her from the winter cold and its fur protecting her neck. Adelaide said nothing as she picked up another cloak, so similar to her own and threw it around his shoulders. She stood in front of him as she fastened her father's cloak around his neck.

She watched as he took a deep breath, scenting the ownership, and looked her deeply in the eyes before moving backwards and standing before her.

He wore it well; his wide shoulders filled the material and it flowed down his frame. A pillar of darkness against the night. She nodded, reassuring herself of her decision, before leaving her den and standing to look at the moon.

"It is time we left these wolves to their own fates." She told him calmly.

Her words were not sinister, nor did they hold any venom, only a realisation that she did not need to help wolves that did not wish to be helped.

She closed her eyes as Adam came to stand closely beside her. The warmth from his body warming her against the cold. She reached within her mind, searching until she found what she was looking for before her eyes opened again.

Bloody red and full of a thirst for blood.

"There is a little girl that needs our help."

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