Chapter 2 The Matebond
Noah “Mateeee!!!” my wolf roared. I froze, my heart stopping the moment my wolf let out that terrifying growl, all his senses attuning and focusing on the beguiling green eyes that met ours. It was the briefest of contact, barely even ten seconds before she collapsed in front of us. But it was more than enough. The damage was done. I have a mate now. Again. A few hours ago… “Why is this slave thing our business again?” Gamma Eli inquired as we shuffled through the crowd and inside the small make-shift dwelling at the far end of the forest, almost at the foot of the high mountains that surrounded us. It was cradled in a tiny nook surrounded by the humongous mountains and hence, unless you really know your way around, it was hard to spot those wolves. Felt like a bunch of nomadic rogues, judging by the disgusting roguish scent that hit us immediately. “Because this is Gray Crest territory, and it is illegal,” I answered. “Isn’t this area under the Blue Hounds?” he frowned. “This should be alpha Jordan’s responsibility, isn’t it?” “Blue Hounds is Gray Crest’s subsidiary pack,” I rolled my eyes. “And yes it should be, but this is a matter grave enough for us to step in. Clearly, you have paid no attention to anything these past fifteen days. Not just Blue Hounds but many other packs have reported missing cases of young omega girls from their packs in the last six months and ten of those packs are under the Gray Crest alliance treaty. It was high time we stepped in.” “Are you going to fight?” Eli asked, not looking pleased at the idea. “It’s just two of us against these disgusting smelling rogues or whatever these filthy assholes are,” “Are you scared?” I demanded. “You are supposed to be a gamma wolf, Eli. And you should be ashamed of asking something like that from your alpha,” The gammas in our pack, Gray Crest, were responsible for patrolling and working as messengers, which meant, just like our front-line warriors, they, too, needed to be well-trained in combat as well. “Sorry. But I am still learning,” he grumbled. “And I would love to live and find my mate.” I noticed how his eyes lit up at the mention of mates and I clenched my jaw, fighting the urge to burst his happy bubble about that subject. To me, the whole concept of mates was nothing but a curse. “Focus,” I said, sounding a bit stern as we gazed around. “Watcha upto?” we blinked at the gruff voice, turning around to see a mangy-looking dude chewing at a toothpick while he suspiciously squinted back at us. “We are here to bid for our alpha,” I lied, keeping my face impassive and eyes locked on his. He appraised me from head to toe and then Eli before giving us a nod. “That way,” he muttered, pointing to the gigantic yellow tent in the center. We nodded, and I dragged Eli towards the tent, very aware of his eyes on us. At the same time, I quickly gaze around, taking everything in. It would help to investigate later on. “Act normal,” I warned, again halted by two similarly dirty looking men right at the entrance of the tent. We stood still as they inspected us from head to toe before allowing us inside where many others had already gathered. There were chairs placed all around the tent in a circle and there was a raised wooden platform in the middle. “Come,” I muttered, making a beeline for two empty chairs in the front. Most of them were already filled, and I wondered how these people even found out about this thing. Precisely ten minutes later, a huge man covered in tats stomped inside the tent and as his eyes took in the crowd, a smug grin crossed his face. “Let’s begin the auction,” he announced in a gruff voice. “Bring her in.” I don’t know who he commanded, but a moment later, the guy we encountered earlier dragged a really young girl inside and I was shocked to see how they had her tied in shackles. Both her wrists were cuffed together and a sturdy iron chain connected the cuff with those on her ankles. “What the f**k?” Eli hissed beside me. I clenched my jaw, forcing myself to stay put as he pushed her onto the wooden platform and uncuffed her. I noticed she was wearing a flimsy little robe-like dress. “First bid,” the tattooed guy said loudly. “Omega blood. Eighteen and still untouched. The rest is all open to your eyes,” He nodded to the other guy, and I froze in my seat as he pulled the sash and the robe-like dress pooled at the girl’s feet, rendering her completely naked to each of our eyes. She whimpered and tried to cover herself somehow, but the guy grabbed her hand and gave her a murderous look. My hands shook, a low growl escaping my throat as I forced myself to look away. This was disgusting, and that was putting it mildly. “You are drawing attention, alpha” Eli hissed, and I raised my eyes to see half the room giving me looks. Taking a deep breath, I tried to control myself and look as unaffected as the others around me. “Let’s start bidding at ten thousand dollars,” the tattooed guy muttered. “Ten thousand dollars for the young beauty?” “Ten thousand,” someone said from the opposite side. “Ten thousand! Do we have fifteen? Fifteen thousand dollars, anyone?” I couldn’t help but glance at the little girl and my heart clenched for her. I so wished I could help her escape somehow. She didn’t deserve that. Nobody ever deserved that. But I was helpless. For the time being, I was just here to investigate, but when I do get to these fuckers…I will make sure they pay. “Hundred thousand dollars! Going once…twice and sold!” “Hundred thousand?” Eli hissed, looking appalled. “It started at ten!” “More money for young, untouched girls,” I replied. The guy nodded and the other one covered the girl up again and pulled her down. “Next bid is…” Before he could complete, suddenly one of the guards stumbled inside, looking like he had eaten s**t. I watched as he muttered something in his ears and it had to be something bad because the tattooed dude paled, his eyes turning red with fury. “What?” he roared, grabbing him by the collar. “Ran away? Well, then find her! Send the hunters after her.” I frowned, curious as to what suddenly happened to piss him off like that. “The auction is closed for today!” the tattooed guy hissed. “First bidder, collect your bid from him,” Dissatisfied and angry murmurs spread around, but ignoring that, the tattooed dude walked out followed by his partner. “Thank goddess,” Eli grimaced as we followed the crowd outside. “I couldn’t have endured that anymore. So, where are we off to now? Back to the pack?” “You go back,” I said. “And let alpha Jordon know what happened here. I am going for a run. We go home tomorrow. I saw what I needed to see.” “But?” “Go,” I ordered and, giving him a nod, I darted off in the opposite direction, deeper in the forest. I don’t know if it was because of witnessing this monstrosity or what, but suddenly there was a weird uneasiness inside me. Like something was about to happen, or rather someone calling me. The restlessness had actually been lingering for the last few days, but it suddenly seemed to have intensified. “Noel, is that you?” I grimaced at my wolf, finally finding a safe spot deeper in the forest to strip. “I was going to ask the same,” he grumbled. “This is annoying me now,” “Well, it’s not me,” I rolled my eyes before closing them. Taking a breath, I quickly shifted. And it seemed like a terrible idea as the restlessness intensified. Noel seemed irritated and angry for some reason, sprinting through the forest at top speed. The cold wind hitting us usually helps to calm me down, but not today. “What’s with the weather, suddenly?” Noel muttered, as we finally halted in front of a small spring, efficiently losing track of time. It had suddenly gotten really dark. “It feels like a storm is coming,” I frowned and gazed up to see dark clouds rolling in the sky. Not only that, but suddenly, out of nowhere, a really strong wind started to blow. It was startling because, until a few minutes ago, the weather was just fine. “This is creepy,” I said, blinking at the ripples on the clear surface of the spring. “Something isn’t right,” Noel whispered, and I had to agree. On the scale of one to ten, the restless nagging at us shot up to a hundred. It was a feeling that was really hard to explain. Like something tugging and pulling at us. Someone calling to us. Before I could respond, a terrifying cry echoed through the forest. It was a female voice. And right after that came a ferocious howl that almost made the trees shudder. And not one, but more followed it. The wind intensified, almost making it hard for us to see, and abruptly, without any warning, Noel dashed in the direction of the howls. What the f**k? “Noel, what the hell are you doing!” I exclaimed. “I don’t want to get involved in anyone’s mess. Stop!” He let out a terrifying growl, thoroughly ignoring me, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had lost control of him. He dashed through the forest like a crazed beast and the closer we started to get to those sounds, the stronger the restlessness became. I could sense that same disgusting rogue smell from earlier, apart from the usual forest scent. But there was also a scent that stood out. It was so strong that it overshadowed all the others. The rogues, the trees, the forest soil…it overpowered everything. All of a sudden, Noel stopped, and I blinked as a tiny figure tumbled at our feet. I was blank as my eyes fell on her. The scent…the overpowering scent. It was hers. My wolf suddenly went berserk, letting out a loud, agonizing cry. It took me a moment to figure out why he was behaving this way. It felt like history repeating because the moment my eyes fell on her and were met by a tormented green gaze, everything inside me shifted. The restlessness ebbed away, replaced by a long-lost feeling. A feeling I feared more than death, more than anything. The matebond.