Kadessa woke minutes before her alarm sounded. Reluctantly, she rolled over to see that the clock read 6:50am. She reached over to switch off the alarm before it rang, but she froze with her arm only halfway extended. She could hear the footsteps falling on the wood floor of the hallway by her door. She sat there listening to the footsteps and waited. They walked up and down the hall, stopping, she knew, at all the doors on the hall. At last they came to rest outside her door, and there was a brisk knock. Silently she rose from the bed and made her way to the door. When she breathed the air in deep she breathed a heavy sigh and opened the door. The man standing there was younger than her, but could almost equal her in strength. She could feel excitement radiating from him and she knew in an instant that tonight he would become a hunter.
“Yes?” She asked him as he stared at her.
“I’ve been sent to deliver this letter to you,” the he said. “You’re Kadessa Jade Adaliz, aren’t you?”
“I am.” So this is the one the council sent this time, Kadessa thought as she took the letter the he handed her. When would they simply accept that she didn’t want to join another pack? Had they thought that seeing this young and eager wolf would change her mind? They had been wrong if they thought it would.
As he turned and walked down the hall Kadessa closed her door and retreated to her bedroom. In her hand she held the pale envelope. When she sat down on her bed she looked down at the letter and turned it over in her hands. On the front of the letter was her full name in a script that she didn’t recognize as belonging to the council. She flipped the letter over to look at the back. When she saw the golden wax seal there, she knew this letter wasn’t from the council. Impressed in the wax were the initials M.R. S. Carefully she broke the seal and opened the letter. Her eyes scanned the page without reading at first, taking in the delicate shapes of the letters on the page. They weren’t typed, and the handwriting had an air of familiarity to it. Then she went back to the top of the page and began to read:
Kadessa Jade Adaliz
158 Danby Drive, Apt. 7
I am sure by now you are wondering who I am and why I am writing to you. In time you will come to know me well, but for now I wish to remain only a name to you. I am writing because it would be a great pleasure for me if you would come to work for me. By now you know that the work is best done by someone of your....nature. I have been told that your strength and talents are impeccable, and I would find it beneficial if you would join my staff. I’m sure you will find the pay to be suitable and the work simple and tolerable. If you wish to accept my offer please arrive at my warehouse promptly at 8:00am on Tuesday. You will find the address of the warehouse on the enclosed business card. Thank you for your time.
Mr. M.R. Slade
Her alarm rang as she sat there in astonishment. Silently she reached over and turned it off. Inside the envelope Kadessa found a simple business card. It wasn’t a normal business card, and she knew the work wouldn’t be normal either. The “business” that he ran was called “M.R. Slade Academy.” The warehouse was a place she was familiar with; it was on the outskirts of Denver, far off the road and well-guarded. Only wolves went there. The nature of what was taught there was unknown to her, but she could only guess that it was some sort of training academy for young wolves. Why did this man want her there? Who was he? Kadessa was confused by the letter but for now she didn’t have time to worry about it. She dressed in silence, locked her apartment, and left. Minutes later she was letting herself into her friends’ apartment deep in the middle of Denver. Her friends, Greg and Anna, greeted her when she came in.
“Hey Kadessa!” Anna said, giving her a hug as she sat her bag down on the floor.
“Hi,” Kadessa said, not really paying attention. Like her, Anna was a werewolf. Her husband Greg was a plain human. When Anna had defied her pack and chose to marry Greg 14 years ago, the pack had banished her. The pack laws for marrying mortals were clear and unbreakable, but Kadessa was content with Anna’s choice because they were happy, and so were their children.
“Are you looking forward to the run tonight?” Greg asked.
“I’m always looking forward to the run at full moon. Tonight is going to be even better with Stephanie joining us. Where is she, anyways?”
“She’s in her room, worrying about the shift.”
Stephanie was the oldest of Greg and Anna’s three kids, and so far she was the only one who showed signs of being a wolf. Tonight would be her first shift. She was a half-breed, acquiring the wolf blood by luck from her mother, and she would be considerably weaker than any pureblood wolf.
Kadessa spent the rest of the day with Greg and Anna, trying to put the letter out of her mind. Every spare moment she had, though, was filled with the words of that letter. The way the letters were slanted reminded her of someone’s handwriting, but she couldn’t place who. The more she thought about it the farther the answer went away from her. At last it was nightfall and the full moon was rising overhead. It was time for their run, and time to welcome Stephanie as the newest wolf. Kadessa was silent as Anna drove the car down the narrow back roads that lead to a hunting ground for lone wolves. At last she stopped the car and everyone got out. Stephanie stood there cowering against the car, afraid of what was to come. Kadessa walked over to her and put her arm around Stephanie to try to comfort her. Stephanie looked up at her with wide eyes and as Kadessa watched they changed to the eyes of a wolf. Kadessa stepped away from her to stand beside Anna. They watched as Stephanie shifted into a wolf and silently they remembered the first time they shifted themselves. Stephanie was a small wolf, even smaller than Kadessa. Her coat was the color of ash, and her eyes were gleaming amber. Stephanie looked first at her mother and then at the moon, and raised her head back to let out a howl. She watched as her mother shifted into her wolf form. Unlike Stephanie, Anna was a purebred wolf and much larger in size. Mother and daughter shared the same color of eyes and coat. Kadessa was the last to shift. Her white fur stood out against the shadows, but looked pure and radiant in the light of the full moon. Together the three of them took off into the woods to run along the moon lit paths that no humans dared to tread upon. When they reached the river they stopped to rest and drink. Stephanie lapped at the water eagerly, accepting its offered refreshment after the intensity of the run. Anna sat sniffing the air as Kadessa paced anxiously.
Suddenly, Kadessa froze. Another sniff of the air told her that there was another wolf nearby, and moments later she could hear steady paws tread across the ground. As she looked up she could see the subtle shadows cast by a massive body on the other side of the river bank. Another step brought the strange wolf into a ray of moonlight. Stephanie scurried away from the river bank to stand behind Anna who was now facing the river bank. Kadessa padded closer to the river bank while never taking her eyes off of the wolf who stood there so silently. He was massive, far larger than her and his coat was as black as a raven. His amber eyes glistened in the moonlight. There was something familiar about this wolf; about his size, his eyes, and even his scent. As Kadessa watched him he didn’t move for several moments. When it seemed as though she was about to give a name to the familiarity of this wolf, he stepped towards her. Kadessa was shocked when another wolf darted out from the foliage to the right of the black wolf. This new wolf was just as massive as the black wolf, but his fur was a gleaming white. He moved himself between the river and the black wolf, blocking him from Kadessa. The black wolf hunched down and snarled, but the white wolf only bared his teeth and snarled back. For many tense moments they stood there, teeth bared, growling at each other. Then the black wolf made a step towards the river bank, but he was met with a bite to his neck. He whimpered, and with one final growl like a vow of vengeance, he darted off into the shadows. The white wolf then turned to face the river bank. For the first time Kadessa could see all of him. His eyes were blue. Icy blue and calm. She breathed the air in deep and took in the scent of this wolf. He, too, was familiar. Before Kadessa could think more about who he was, he was gone. He disappeared into the foliage like a ghost, leaving only his scent upon the wind as proof that he had been there.
Back at home, Kadessa unpacked her bag silently. Who were the wolves that had been there in the woods? For years she and Anna had been the only ones to hunt there on the full moon. Those woods had been her home since her pack was killed seven years ago, and for seven years there had been no other wolf, except for her and Anna, to tread those paths. Then her mind went back to the letter that laid, untouched, on her nightstand. Tomorrow she would go to the warehouse. Perhaps this Mr. Slade knew the wolves that had been there. Perhaps they had been there to watch her. One thing, however, was clear. No matter who those wolves were, she knew them. She knew not only their eyes but also their scent. Now she only had to remember.