I sat on my new throne, tapping on the arm of it nervously. We were waiting for William to be escorted here. I was eager to find out what this all meant but was also worried and a little scared. I had the support of my family, though, and the Sword tied to my side. It started to vibrate and I frowned until I realized what it meant. I straightened up just as the guard announced William's arrival.
William walked in and got on his knee in front of us. His hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and he was in new clothing. Now that he was clean, I could see how pale he had become. There were scratches all over his body.
"Why are you not bandaged?" I asked, putting my hand on the hilt of the Sword until it stopped vibrating.
"I do not need her remedies. My wounds heal faster than the average human's," he said.
I leaned back in the throne. "William, I have a lot of questions for you but the first thing you need to know is you have much to prove to my family." He glanced around at everyone. His eyes hesitated on Tiberius, looking frightened. "You tried to kidnap my wife to advance your own means. But," I added when he whimpered in a doglike manner again, "you also helped us greatly. You helped me when I needed food. You warned us about the attack and provided us with the one weapon that could save us."
William didn't seem to know what to say so he remained silent. I looked to Roland, nodding.
"We are give you a royal pardon," Roland said and William stared at him, his eyes wide. "But you will not be on your own as long as you are here. You will be constantly guarded. If you want to go anywhere, you are to ask for permission."
William bowed his head in understanding and the queen spoke.
"Along with this pardon is an order. No matter what, when these werewolves arrive, you are to protect this family with your life," she said and he bowed his head again.
"My husband trusts you," Angel said, "therefore I trust you. Betray that trust, and you will be punished most harshly."
"I understand," he whispered.
"Stand," I said and he obeyed, putting his hands behind his back but keeping his eyes down. "Now, where did you get the Sword of the Thousands?"
"It was passed down through my family," he answered. "My ancestor found it and hid it from those who would try to steal it."
"How were you able to send us those letters?"
He cleared his throat.
"As a werewolf, I can communicate with other animals. I gave the letter to an animal and told them how to deliver it."
"How did you fake your death?"
"I had crafted a potion long ago that I always carried with me. It reduces the heart rate to give the illusion of death. I slipped it in my mouth while they were torturing me. They thought the strain of the torture had been too much for me so they buried me."
"I thought you said you weren't going to tell them about us," Angel said accusingly.
"I didn't," he said. "David's father recognized me from the village. I don't know how he knew you had the Sword, though. Perhaps it was a lucky coincidence or there was a spy in the castle. Either way, it doesn't matter now that you're the alpha."
"That's my last question," I said. "What the hell does it mean to be an alpha?"
He sighed. "This is where it gets complicated. You are not a werewolf so the laws are different. If you were a wolf, then you would be put through a trial to prove your strength. The trial would also be to show that you hadn't cheated in your duels with the former alpha and beta. Then, once you were formally recognized as the alpha, you would select a beta. However, you are not a wolf. We haven't had a human alpha in over a thousand years. It will take some... strength to prove your worth."
"Because killing his father and the beta single handedly wasn't enough?" Angel asked sarcastically.
William flushed. "I do not make the rules, your highness."
"Then what are these rules?" Roland demanded.
"First, you have to give a valid reason to not be a werewolf. None of us can quite understand why someone would not choose this life. We are the strongest of the strong. After you have given the reason, you have two choices: fight another wolf or kill one."
"How would the wolf be chosen?" I asked with a frown.
"A criminal will be the one," he said quietly.
"So it will be you," I said and he nodded solemnly. "And once that is done?"
"A blood seal is required?"
"A blood seal?" Angel repeated, sounding scared.
"Yes. David will sign a pact with the clan with his blood."
"What kind of pact?" Roland asked slowly.
"To become a werewolf, one must receive the bite on a full moon. However, to pledge allegiance to an alpha, one must have a taste of their blood."
"Isn't that a vampire thing?" I asked, ignoring my family's cry of outrage.
"Not all the time."
"Is that all that's required?"
"Very well," I sighed. "I suggest you return to your quarters until we have reached a solution."
"Your highness," he bowed and was escorted out of the throne room.
I stood and limped over to one of the windows. No one spoke but I could fell them all staring at me.
"I'm considering it," I said.
"Wait," Roland said and I turned wearily. "Do you realize what you're agreeing to do?"
"The wolves will be at my command," I said. "Should we go to war, they would be a valuable asset."
"If they can control their bloodlust," Miranda pointed out.
"Yes but if they're left without an alpha, I fear they will roam freely," I explained. "If that's true, then there's no telling who they will kill. And, as we've learned, there's only one way to kill them."
"And you are willing to make this blood pact?" Angel asked. "Let those monsters touch you?"
I frowned. "Of course not. If I decide to do this, I will fill a goblet with my blood." I limped back to her and leaned my cane against her throne. I took both of her hands in mine, getting on my knee. "We are going to make this decision together. I have promised that. Not only will I be the alpha, you will be my wife; a female leader for them. You, too, will lead them." I looked at Roland and Miranda. Miranda was crying. "You have shared much wisdom with me and I will need all I can get."
"You're serious about this," Roland said.
"Only if my wife agrees to it," I said, looking back to Angel. I touched her cheek. "I will do anything to keep you safe, even if that means signing a deal with the devil."
She sighed. "This is a big decision to make, my love," she whispered. "I see both sides of the argument, though. I greatly fear werewolves after what was almost done to me. And if they were to be without a leader, that is only more terrifying. We must do more research, though, into what it means to be the rulers. It's one thing to rule a kingdom. Will we still be able to be the king and queen when our time comes?"
"I believe we will. When I was at their camp, I noticed most of them just lived their lives as normal. It could be that they would make a community of their own. We will set restrictions, though, to protect the kingdom."
I took my cane back up to get to my throat. I rested my head on my hand.
"My family, I don't know what else to do."
"You have my support," Roland said to my left.
"And mine," Miranda said.
"And you will always have mine," Angel whispered.