Aria felt her breath catch in her throat, her heart pounding with reverence and awe. "Moon Goddess," she whispered, her eyes wide with wonder.
The goddess looked at Aria tenderly, her gaze full of warmth and love. "You have come so far, my child," she said, her voice gentle yet firm. "But your journey is not yet complete."
Aria bowed her head, overwhelmed by the weight of the goddess's presence. "What do I have to do?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
The Moon Goddess's eyes sparkled with wisdom as she spoke. "You must face your destiny, Aria. The path ahead is littered with challenges, and the darkness threatens to consume you. But you must stay true to who you are, and everything will fall into place."
Aria nodded, determination flaring within her. "I will do whatever it takes," she said, her voice strong.
The Moon Goddess looked at Aria, her eyes full of grace and compassion. "Remember, my child, the mark I have given you is not just a source of power, but a symbol of hope. You have the power to change the world for the better, to bring light to the darkness. Trust in yourself, and the path ahead will be clear."
"But why did you mark Lucas? If the mark is supposed to be a symbol of hope?"
She smiled sadly, "Lucas is a wolf with great destiny. It's quite unfortunate that he chose to embrace the side of darkness."
"But I don't understand. Aren't you supposed to be all powerful? Can't you just put an end to it?"
"I do not interfere with the affairs of mortals. I cannot pick a side. Despite the darkness in their heart, I love all equally including Lucas."
Aria stepped forward, "I have so many questions. You could have chosen any other wolf, why me?"
"Because Aria you are pure of heart. In all the marked, you are purest. I realized too late of Lucas' corrupted heart and so I made you to try to right my wrong. You are the answer to it all. But be careful, not everyone you give your trust to has your best interest at all. But remember Aria, I am always there with you."
With those words, the Moon Goddess vanished into the night, leaving Aria standing alone in the clearing, "Wait. Don't go I still have so much to ask."
Aria's eyes shot open, her heart pounding in her chest as she found herself drenched in sweat, gasping for breath. She glanced around confused and then realization dawned on her. It was just a dream yet the remnants clung to her mind, the presence of the Moon Goddess still lingering. She tried to make sense of it all, the words of the deity echoing in her ears. Looking around the room, she realized she was back in the safety of Knox's room but her mind was still reeling from the vividness of the dream.
Knox stirred beside her, sensing her distress through the bond. He propped himself up on one elbow, concern etched across his rugged features. "Aria? Are you okay?" he asked softly, his voice still laced with sleep.
She turned to face him, trying to steady her breathing. "I... I had a dream," she managed to say, her voice trembling. "I saw her. I saw the Moon Goddess and she spoke to me."
Knox sat up fully now, his eyes never leaving her face. "What did she say?"
Aria struggled to find the right words, the weight of the dream pressing down on her. "She said the mark I have, it's not just power, it's hope. I have the power to change the world, to bring light to the darkness."
Knox listened intently, a mix of curiosity and concern evident in his expression.
"But that's not all," Aria continued, her voice shaky. "I asked her about Lucas, why she marked you if the mark is supposed to be a symbol of hope. She said he had a great destiny, but you chose to embrace the darkness. I think I am the light to his darkness and he is truly my father."
"She said I was pure of heart, the purest among the marked," Aria replied, her brow furrowing. "But she also warned me to be careful about who I trust, that not everyone has my best interest at heart."
Knox's expression shifted from concern to a mix of surprise and hesitation as he listened to Aria's earnest words. Her revelation about the Moon Goddess's message left him conflicted. He ran a hand through his tousled hair, trying to process everything she had just shared.
"I don't know what to make of all this, Aria," Knox admitted, his voice tinged with unease. "I don't like the idea of you having a deep connection to Lucas and about not trusting people, I don't like your sister being here. Seraphina has caused you so much pain and suffering in the past, and yet you are so eager to trust her. I don't want to see you hurt again."
Aria reached out and gently grasped Knox's hand, offering him a reassuring smile. "I understand your concerns, Knox, and I appreciate your protective nature. But I truly believe in the power of forgiveness and second chances. If there's a glimmer of hope that Seraphina can change, I want to be there to support her in that journey. Just like you were there for me when I wore the Shadowbane Crystal even though it wasn't directly."
Knox growled softly, his emotions swirling within him. "What do you mean by not directly?" he questioned, a mix of curiosity and wariness in his tone.
Aria let out a hearty laugh, throwing her head back with a playful glint in her eyes. "Oh, don't take it personally. You did almost have me killed when I first arrived here, and then you kicked me out of your territory."
Knox folded his arms in a defensive gesture, a hint of embarrassment crossing his features. "I didn't know you were my mate at the time, and I had a lot of things going on."
With a flirtatious smile, Aria pushed away the covers, revealing her bare chest. She trailed a hand across her skin teasingly. "You didn't want me the first time you saw me?" she asked playfully trailing a hand her chest.
Knox let out a low growl, trying to maintain his composure despite the enticing sight before him. "Aria," he growled, a mixture of exasperation and desire in his voice.
"Yes Knox?" She replied blinking innocent.
Within the blink of an eye, he tossed her over and entered her from behind.
Aria and Knox lay together panting. She peaked up at him through her eye lashes. Aria chuckled, her eyes still holding a playful glimmer. "I knew you always wanted me," she teased, her tone turning more serious as she sat up and faced him. "But we weren't done talking. I really think we should give Seraphina a chance."
Knox's expression softened as he looked into Aria's eyes. He could see the compassion and forgiveness shining through her gaze, and he knew he couldn't ignore her heartfelt plea. With a sigh, he conceded, "Alright, I won't stand in your way. But I'll ask Jacob to keep a close eye on her, just to ensure she doesn't pose a threat to you or anyone else."
"Thank you, Knox," Aria said softly, her relief evident in her voice. "Speaking of deranged siblings, why have you been avoiding going to see him?" she asked gently, shifting the focus back to Knox's own troubles.
Knox hesitated before answering, his eyes clouded with emotion. "It's complicated, Aria. I don't know if he can truly change, and I'm afraid of what will happen if he doesn't. No matter what, I can't bring myself to kill him. Nikolai was my best friend. We were more than that. He, Ryke, and I were like brothers."
Aria scooted closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder in a comforting gesture. "You can't avoid him forever, Knox," she said gently, her voice filled with understanding.
"I know," Knox whispered, his voice filled with vulnerability. "But it's hard to forgive him for the things he's done, especially now that I have you and our pup. I don't want anything to jeopardize our happiness."
Aria placed a comforting hand on his chest, her touch tender and soothing. "I understand your fears, Knox. And I won't pretend to know what's best for you. But I do believe that people can change, that they can find redemption if they truly want it. Maybe one day, when you're ready, you can find a way to face your brother and talk things through. But remember, he also has a mate and a pup to get back to. You can't leave him to rot in there forever."
Knox's expression darkened at the mention of the name, and Aria quickly patted him with affection, offering her support. "I'm sorry. I will never speak of her again."
"It doesn't matter," Knox replied, "She is probably dead by now. Lucas already took Nikolai's territory."
"You really think it's a good idea to wait for him to come?" Aria asked, her concern evident.
Knox shook his head firmly. "We are not just waiting. Three other packs have joined us. We have the witches on our side. Our sentinels are ready. We aren't just waiting, we are preparing for war."
The weight of the responsibility on Knox's shoulders was immense, and she knew she had to be his unwavering support.
"I'll be with you every step of the way, Knox," she said, determination in her voice. "We'll face whatever comes together. And as for Seraphina, I will be watchful too."
Knox leaned in and kissed her forehead, his gratitude and love evident in the gesture. "Thank you, Aria. I don't know what I did to deserve you. I can't believe I sentenced you to death."
"Actually you asked me to fight a huge savage wolf, where did you even get her from?"
Knox smiled, the memories flooding his brain, "It seems like such a long time ago. So much has happened."
Aria's eyes went to her mark, "So much blood as been spilled. Let us not spill any more than we have to. Have you heard back from the Moonlight Pack?"
"Nothing. I can't send anyone over there. We don't know where Lucas' men are."
Aria sighed, "I just hope everyone is okay. Especially JB."
In the Moonlight territory, chaos and tension hung heavy in the air as Lilian paced anxiously inside the grand packhouse. Alpha Randy stood nearby, his usually composed demeanor replaced by concern for their missing son, JB. They hadn't heard from him since he left to find his wolf in the Whispering Woods and Lilian's worry was becoming unbearable.
"Randy, we still haven't heard anything from JB," Lilian said, her voice trembling with fear and sorrow. "I never should have let him go alone. What if something terrible has happened to him?"
Randy reached out to hold his mate close, trying to offer comfort despite the uncertainty. "We will find him, Lilian. JB is strong, and he knows how to take care of himself. We have to believe that he's alright."
"But what if he's not?" Lilian cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. "We can't afford to lose him, Randy. He's our son, our only child."
Alpha Randy's jaw tightened with determination. "I refuse to believe anything has happened to him. I feel it in my bones that JB is okay. We'll keep searching for him, but right now, we need to focus on the impending danger. Lucas has already taken three packs next to our territory and we're next on his list."
As he spoke, a shiver ran down Lilian's spine. The threat of Lucas and his ruthless pursuit of power was all too real. Their peaceful territory was on the brink of war, and they had to be prepared to defend themselves.
Just as Alpha Randy was about to outline their defensive strategies, the doors to the packhouse swung open, revealing Lucas, a wicked smile playing on his lips. His entrance cut Randy short, and the tension in the room intensified.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the Alpha and Luna of the Moonlight Pack," Lucas sneered, his eyes gleaming with malice. "Such a pity we have to meet under such circumstances. But I must admit, I've been looking forward to paying you a visit."
Lilian took a step forward, her grief and anger giving her strength. "What do you want from us, Lucas? We won't bow down to you, no matter what threats you make."
Lucas chuckled darkly. "Oh, I'm not here to make threats, my dear Luna. I'm here to offer you a choice. Surrender your territory to me, join my ranks, and I might spare your pathetic pack. Refuse, and I'll tear through your land, killing everyone in my path."
Alpha Randy's eyes blazed with fury, but he kept a firm hold on his emotions. "We will never surrender to the likes of you, Lucas. We'd rather fight to the death than become pawns in your twisted game."
Lucas's smile widened, his arrogance radiating like a dark aura. "Very well, Alpha. I love a good challenge. It's been a while since I had a worthy adversary. His eyes bled to black. He stared directly at Alpha Randy, "The Alpha or the Luna, who dies first?"