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Shadows of the pack novel Chapter 72

Jackson's gaze lingered on Shana's serene form as she slept, her did not breathing steady and calm. The room was bathed in a soft, warm glow, the remnants of their passionate embrace still lingering in the air. He couldn't help but feel a sense of contentment wash over him, a rare moment of peace in the midst of their chaotic world.

Lost in his thoughts, he barely registered the soft knock on the door. With a startle, he blinked and glanced towards the entrance. Slowly, he untangled himself from the tangle of sheets and made his way to the door. As he swung it open, his father's concerned gaze met his.
"Jackson," his father's voice held a mixture of approval as he looked past him into the room at Shana's sleeping form, "Happiness looks good on you."
Jackson managed a half-smile, feeling a faint flush creeping up his neck. "Thanks, Dad.”
His father’s gaze shifted past him to the sleeping figure on the bed, “Is she alright?”
Jackson nodded  his eyes never leaving Shana. “"Yeah, she's just—" He paused as his wolf growled in his head, a gentle reminder of what had happened moments ago, "Just resting." He completed with a guilty look on his face.

The atmosphere in the room grew tense as Jackson's father cleared his throat, his demeanor shifting from casual concern to a more solemn air. Jackson, still caught in the soft embrace of Shana's tranquil slumber, looked up at his father with a mixture of curiosity and anticipation.
"Jackson," his father began, his voice carrying a weight that demanded attention, "there's something important I need to discuss with you."
Jackson's brow furrowed slightly, his mind shifting from the warmth of the moment to the gravity of his father's words. "What is it, Dad?"
His father's gaze met Jackson's, his eyes holding a blend of seriousness and a father's caring concern. "You've probably never heard of it before, but there's an event that's approaching – a celestial eclipse."
Jackson's brows knitted together as he tried to make sense of the unfamiliar term. "Celestial eclipse? What's that?"
His father's lips pressed into a thin line, a hint of nostalgia flickering across his features. "It's a rare occurrence, son. Happens once in a thousand
years, you could say. During the celestial eclipse, a unique cosmic alignment takes place, and it affects us, the wolves."
Jackson's curiosity deepened, his focus shifting from Shana's peaceful form to his father's words. "Affects us how?"
A contemplative sigh escaped his father's lips before he continued. "On the day of the celestial eclipse, every wolf will temporarily lose their ability to shift."
Jackson's eyes widened in surprise, his mind grappling with the implications of his father's revelation. "Wait, you mean we won't be able to shift at
all? For how long?"
His father's expression remained serious, his gaze unwavering. "It usually lasts for a day and a night, sometimes a bit longer. During that time, our connection to our wolf nature and all our enhanced abilities will be greatly diminished."
Jackson's thoughts churned as he absorbed the gravity of the situation. "But why are you telling me this, Dad?"
His father's eyes softened, a mixture of understanding and empathy present in his gaze. "Because, my son, this is not just about you. It's about all of us, every wolf in our pack. It's a day when we will be vulnerable, and we need to be prepared."
Jackson's mind raced, thoughts of the pack's safety and his responsibility as a leader taking center stage. "Prepared? How do we even begin to prepare
for something like this?"
His father's voice held a steady reassurance as he explained. "We need to come together, strengthen our bonds, and be there for one another. Unity will be our greatest strength during that time. It's a test of our resilience and our ability to face adversity as a pack."
Jackson's gaze shifted to Shana, her form a reminder of the fragile nature of their existence, “How will I be able to protect her if I don’t have my abilities?
His father nodded, his expression solemn, “Which is exactly why we need to be united more than ever. Knox is a  young Alpha just like you. We need to send word to him too. All the wolves need to be prepared for this. It is perfect for those that seek to eliminate us.”
The moon hung low in the sky, casting an eerie silver glow over the ancient stone courtyard where Isolde found herself standing. Her steps were measured as she approached the towering figure of the leader, his presence commanding respect and a touch  of apprehension. She had always admired his strength and unwavering dedication to The Order, but today she had to question the path he was leading them down.
"Leader Alaric," Isolde's voice held a blend of deference and determination as she spoke, "may I have a moment of your time?"
Alaric turned to face her, his piercing gaze meeting hers. His weathered features held a sense of authority and a touch of weariness that spoke of the many years he had spent guiding The Order. "Isolde, speak your mind."
Isolde took a steadying breath, her eyes holding his without flinching. "The decision we are making, to prevent the child's birth... Are you sure this is the only way?"
Alaric's expression remained stoic, his voice carrying a weight that matched the gravity of their task. "Isolde, the prophecy is clear. The child's power could tip the scales in ways we cannot fathom. We must prevent its birth to safeguard our world."
Isolde's fingers tightened around the edges of her cloak, her resolve unwavering as she spoke her truth. "But Alaric, we are talking about an innocent life. To take a life before it even has a chance to begin... It goes against everything we stand for."
Alaric's gaze held a hint of something hidden beneath his stern exterior – a flicker of doubt, perhaps, but it was quickly replaced with conviction. "Our duty is to maintain Order, Isolde. Sacrifices must be made for the greater good."
Isolde took a step closer, her voice soft yet firm. "And what if we're wrong? What if this child's destiny is one of light and hope? What if by preventing its birth, we disrupt a balance that has existed for centuries?"
Alaric's jaw clenched, his gaze unwavering. "We must trust in the wisdom of the prophecy."
Isolde's eyes searched his, her voice unwavering. "And what of our own wisdom, Alaric? We have seen the consequences of blind faith before. Are we not Protectors, sworn to safeguard all life, even in the face of difficult choices?"
Alaric's expression remained resolute, his voice carrying a touch of frustration. "Isolde, you underestimate the danger. The child's power is unprecedented. It could destroy us all."
Isolde's gaze held a mixture of empathy and resolve. "But what if we could find another way? A way to guide and nurture that power, to ensure it is used for good?"
Alaric's eyes bore into hers, his voice holding a hint of weariness. "Isolde, we have debated this extensively within The Order. The decision has been made."
Isolde's fingers trembled slightly, her heart heavy with the weight of their impending choice. "Alaric, I implore you to reconsider. The path we walk is not without its doubts and uncertainties. We owe it to ourselves, to the child, to explore every possible option before we resort to ending a life."
A long silence settled between them, the moonlight casting intricate shadows across the courtyard as their thoughts hung in the air. Alaric's features softened, a hint of resignation crossing his expression. "Isolde, I understand your concerns. But you must also understand the burden of leadership. Sometimes, we must make the hardest choices for the sake of our world."
Isolde's voice held a quiet strength as she met Alaric's gaze. "I understand the burden, Alaric. But let us not forget our duty to seek the light even in the darkest of times."
Alaric's shoulders seemed to slump slightly, his gaze distant as he contemplated her words. "Very well, Isolde. We will convene once more to discuss this matter. But know that the safety of our realm is my paramount concern and next time tell Kael to be a man and stand for himself instead of sending a woman.”
Knowing the past history between the two of them, Isolde smiled slightly, “Of course Leader Alaric. I will take my leave now.” 
Isolde nodded her head in respect “Thank you.” She turned around to leave but Alaric’s voice stopped her, “Do you ever miss him.” She stopped in her tracks as the memories came rushing back. Turning back to face him. She closed her eyes before she opened them. resolve shining through, "No. I do not. He is dead to me."
Alaric nodded, his gaze unrelenting. "I hope you believe that, Isolde, because another celestial eclipse is coming, and whatever happens, Malachi cannot merge with his wolf spirit and return to this world."


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