Chapter 1: Five Years From Now
Winter and Summer had gone by so quickly that she barely noticed. Stepping back on campus with her matching designer luggage for the last time, Annie sighed deeply. This is was he one constant in her life. Being kidnapped and meeting living legends and god knows what would come next, she knew she’d always have her best friend and a schedule. But soon she would have none of that. Everything was going to change and everyone was changing too.
How do people move on? How do they leave each other behind, shrug it off, and call it life. And she can see on the eyes of her classmates as they get closer to the end. Closer to the point where everything changes, they are excited but they are happy. Annie well she's just scared. There's never been a time where she didn't have Britney with her and when she thinks about it she owes all her confidence to her.
She peeks at her best friend over the top of her text book. Britney looks focused and calm as always. She'll be like that her whole life most likely. But Annie doesn't even know what major she'll choose, what's she's good at, who she wants to be for the rest of her life. Still when anyone asks her if she's excited about graduation she scoffs and gives them a megawatt smile. Because that's how you're supposed to feel as a senior. You've taken what you could from this place. You’re certainly not going to miss feeling like the most important person in a crowd of people. You're certainly not going to miss your friends.
"Annie" Tobey says.
She snaps her head to the side to find Tobey staring at her strangely. "Huh?"
"Café is closing."
“Is everything okay?” He inquires as she shoves her books into her bag.
She turns to him and offers a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “Yeah” replies half-heartedly. He wants to question her but she struts ahead of and out the door.
Tobey abandons them to go to some game tournament or something. If she’s being honest she wasn’t really listening to him, she also missed just being alone with Britney. Ever since Victoria came into their lives and sort of pulled their group together things had been hectic. With all that had happened she barely noticed her junior year. And Britney didn’t seem to notice either, or maybe she did and just didn’t care. The three of them were supposed to do some dorm room shopping.
“We have to be on top of things for finals this year.” Britney announces pushing the shopping cart.
“Uh huh.” Annie chimes in. Britney had sent her a ridiculously organized shopping list and had been rushing them through the aisles.
“Notebooks?” Britney questions excitedly
“Check again.” Annie says a bit too quickly.
“Are you actually checking the basket?” Britney asks after a long pause.
“What Britney? It's senior year. You're supposed to enjoy it not freak out months before finals. What the hell would we even need a scientific calculator for?” Annie says rolling her eyes and shoving her phone back in her pocket.
“You’re supposed to graduate. That’s the whole point.” Britney responds though she does look a bit sheepish.
“If you don't drive me mad with your neurotic freak show first.”
“Why did you even come if you weren't going to help?”
“I'm here to humor you until we get to the real school shopping.” She points across the street at the mall. “You know the shopping that actually matters.”
Britney laughs a bit. She will admit she hadn’t done pointless retail therapy in far to long. It was studying or it was running for their lives. The last year or so all she bought was candles, school supplies, and first aid kits. “Your priorities are still flawless.”
“Thank you kindly.”
“We still have to buy our books though.” Britney points out.
"I went to college twice you know."
Victoria glances up at Adrien briefly and then back at the pamphlet in her hand. Benji had gotten three sports scholarship offers and asked her to help him choose. It wasn't until she was halfway through the second one that she realized she had no idea what to look for in a college. Her academic career had potential once but it sort of went to hell. "Then how come your such an idiot?" She asks smirking when the smug expression slides off his face.
"People are supposed to be nice to each other when they are dating."
"We're dating?" Victoria questions.
"Not for long"
"Why don't you help me instead of just sitting there."
Adrien rolls his eyes but picks up one of the pamphlets anyway. "Shouldn't he be here? Or asking his parents or his sister." He asks staring at the teenage actors with fake smiles plastered on their faces.
"He's still not talking to his dad and he said Britney's being weird and intense since she's narrowing down her choices too."
"When is Britney not weird and intense? Besides I don't think this is the best thing to ask for your advice about."
"I resent that.” Victoria protests weakly. “I can be wise sometimes."
"Rarely like sunshine in Seattle."
"Shut up!” She throws a small pillow at his head, which he catches at the last second. “And for your information I've been thinking about school. Or I guess a career of some kind. After I find my brother I want us to have some kind of normalcy."
"Sure, sure I can see that. He could come home late and we'll get in to big fight and remind him that he has to live by our rules."
" So first we are dating and now we are living together? You as a father figure is a joke"
"Not true I once had a goldfish and he grew up just fine." Adrien says bitterly. He places the pamphlets aside pondering the idea of them actually being together. He’s fond of the idea but Victoria was still busy pretending she wasn’t. Her obsession with normalcy still annoyed him to say the least, especially considering all they’ve been through. She’d never stop gently pushing him away until she was content with her life as someone who would never be normal. "Do you really want to do it through? Go get you GED and be a functioning member of society?"
"I don't know. I guess that depends on what happens with my brother.” She doesn’t miss the strange expression on his face before he lays flat on the floor placing an arm over his eyes. “So anyway what are your degrees in?"
"Didn't graduate I just went for the frat parties."
“Why am I not surprised?”
The day had been so long. Even though Victoria wasn’t a student, helping her friends for college made her feel like someone’s surrogate mother. She was still very flattered Benji trusted her to help him make such a big decision. And deep down she could admit she was even a little jealous that he had a normal future ahead of him.
He came break with coffee and donuts and a long rant about his sister ignoring his phone calls. Victoria was happy to listen of course but Adrien insisted they just get attached at the hip instead of whining whenever they are apart.. After they narrowed down his choices te three of them decided to relax for once.
“Would you rather fight a bear or a shark?” Benji asks randomly.
Adrien ignores him far to into whatever violent mobster movie was on the screen. Victoria answers instead “Bear. I mean at least I can run and hide on land if I need to.”
“That's not how it works you have to fight it.” Benji protests.
“Whatever I’d still choose the bear.” Victoria says then thinks for a moment. “Would you rather freeze to death or burn to death?”
“Freeze. Your body shuts down and you kind of just fall asleep right? Burning is like endless torture and then your body is unrecognizable. I can't imagine going out that way. Can't imagine what kind of monster would do something like that to someone.” He looks at her pointedly.
“What?” Victoria says or rather squeaks in surprise.
“Do you ever wonder what it feels like? Have you ever been burned alive?” Benji reiterates.
Victoria turns her gaze to Adrien and his eyes meet her. But they aren’t blue they are a bright smoldering red that has her standing to her feet and stumbling backwards. She awakes then gasping, a cold sweat coating her skin and the heat of his glare still lingering in her mind.
“Something wrong?” Adrien asks lying next to her on her bed, his eyes still closed.
“No.” She looks around the room and there’s nothing. Midnight in curled in a ball at her feet undisturbed. Just a nightmare, the third one she’s had this week but still. “It’s nothing.” She says.
They meet up at the café the next day for lunch. There’s only a few days left before the semester started and their schedules stopped lining up. Britney and Victoria are the first to arrive and decide to find a seat at the ice cream bar while they wait for the others.
“So Britney what was it like spending the summer with your soul mate?” Victoria ask curiously.
“Oh shut up. Lets just say I learned a whole lot about werewolves. More than I wanted to know. And speaking of soul mates what about you and Adrien?”
“I don't know. I think everything is good but it’s different. With Scott and I... actually no never mind that.” Victoria chews on her bottom lip. “I like him.”
“Hmmm” Britney says. “I noticed you didn’t deny the soul mate part.” She shrugs when Victoria gives her a baleful look. “I just think that there are different types of love. Love that you find in places it shouldn't have been, love that is fleeting, love that's good, love that hurts you, and love that lasts forever.” Britney smiles ruefully. “We should be glad to find the latter don’t you think?”
“That’s the sappiest thing I’ve ever heard Britney.”
“Well it’s true. So this means you guys are finally dating right?”
“I guess. We didn’t talk about it.” Victoria answers.
“Well don’t sound so happy about it.” Adrien says walking up behind them.
Victoria smiles widely at the sound of his voice though she does her best to hide it. She looks at him over her shoulder with a straight face. “I’ll try to contain my excitement.”
He sits down next to her at the bar and stares at her with mock irritation. She eventually laughs and nudges him with her elbow. He returns the gesture.
Britney ignores them both and calls over the waiter.
The others arrive not to long after. The conversation never strayed far from their plans to rescue Davie and the Blake’s. Adrien suspected they were avoiding the subject of graduating for the same reason. They were flat out terrified. He lets his eyes fall on Victoria who is thrilled at the aspect of getting her brother back. He has a feeling it won’t be so easy.
The ride home is quiet. Victoria hadn’t thought about the future the way all her friends were being forced to do. She also couldn’t think of a single thing she was good at. It’s not like you can get a job doing hexes.
Adrien decided to stay at her place again and she didn’t argue, she never did. It was peculiar their little arrangement, no labels, nothing really official but still as much stability as any other relationship. She knows Adrien avoiding calling his her anything was her own fault, it didn’t mean she’d get used to not being on her own any time soon though.
She falls asleep almost immediately after her head hits the pillow, exhausted for reasons she can’t explain. She rolls over subconsciously reaching out to Adrien in an attempt to snuggle closer to him but instead finds something hard and cold. She sits up confused taking in her surroundings. She’s in some strange dark graveyard. Gone is the safety of her bedroom, and so are Adrien and Midnight. She stands to her feet rubbing at her eyes. “Oh I’m just dreaming, that’s all.” The awareness doesn’t make her feel any better however.
To make matters worse the soft wind that had been ruffling her nightgown starts to sound a lot like words. Then she hears it again clearer this time. “The circle is broken, he will return.” The voice then seems to grow louder and louder. “The circle is broken the circle is broken the circle is broken” A breath that tickles her ear.
“What circle?” Victoria asks looking around the empty graveyard. “Adrien are you there?” The wind howls as if in response. “Please stop being a weirdo this isn’t funny.” He doesn’t answer her so she walks through the gravestones searching “Adrien? I’ve got to stop eating junk food before bed because this is ridiculous.”
“There was a balance.” The voice booms above her head. “The circle was there for your protection but now she has broken it. Now you will all have to suffer the consequences.”
Suddenly it’s hard to breathe. She tries to gasp but the pressure increases. Her eyes shoot open when she realizes she’s still in her bed and two hands are gripping tightly around her neck. She gasps for air again as she claws helplessly for a few seconds as her assailant laughs softly.
“And they said you were scary.”
It’s a tall thin man who seems almost transparent. No not a man, it’s something else. An apparition of some kind and the static like energy reminds her of Thmei’s spirit. Except that it has eyes, red glowing eyes that seem very familiar. She clenches her jaw and concentrates, a few seconds later it's pushed away from her and sails right through the window. Victoria dashes over to it carefully avoiding the broken glass. When she looks down she spots a dark haired girl staring up at her, smiling. The thin man is nowhere to be found.
Victoria is about to greet the smug girl with a wall of fire when a scream from the doorway interrupts her.
She turns to find a panic stricken Adrien standing in the doorway of her kitchen. Victoria glances around confused. “I was in my bed how did I get in here?”
Adrien eyes her warily. “Victoria listen to me you’re burning the house down.”
“Put the fire out before you kill us!” He shouts.
“There’s no fire. Not yet.” She tries to walk around him back towards her room but Adrien blocks her path. “Move Adrien, I have to find them.”
Adrien grips her shoulders and shakes her a bit. “Victoria snap out of it. You need to put the fire out now!”
She feels the thickness in the air then. She shakes her head to clear her vision and as sure as he says the entire room is in flames.
“What’s going on?” She gasps.
“ I think someone is getting in your head.”
Victoria concentrates and the fire finally dies down. The fire alarm had been triggered long ago and she can hear the fire trucks in the distance. Before she can get upset enough to curse the smoke sends her into a coughing fit.
One minute she’s leaning against her counter the next she’s across the street sitting with a concerned Adrien kneeling in front of her. Midnight is seated on the other side of her looking rather peeved. “It’s never going to stop is it?” She practically sobs.
“These people, everyone, they’re going to keep coming. They all think I know something they don't. It’s because of Michael and the stupid council. It's a lie.”
“But they don't know that.”
“They know that there have been multiple attempts on my life. They know I'm always the last one standing but they just keep coming. Someone is going to figure out I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
“They haven’t yet and if they do I’ll kill them for you. How about that?” The fire trucks round the corner then and he stands pulling her gently to her feet.
“So how the hell are we going to explain this?”
She is admittedly afraid to fall asleep again that night. The firefighters told them the damage wasn’t too bad and her landlord promised it would be liveable within 2 weeks. Adrien had refused to let her go back into her apartment to pack a bag out of his own fear. She humored him in his suggestion that he just buy her new clothes. They had driven to the warehouse in silence after Adrien left the others a rather panicked voicemail.
Despite her best efforts to stay awake she succumbs to her exhaustion once again. When she opens her eyes again she finds herself in a empty field of some kind with stones around the perimeter.
Victoria realizes the strange stones aren’t stones at all when she gets closer. They are all corpses…corpses of her friends. Knowing it’s a nightmare being projected into her head doesn’t make it any easier to look at.
Some tan dark haired girl comes into view on the other side of the bodies. She nudges the pile of bodies with her boot and someone rolls off the top landing at Victoria’s feet. Benji’s lifeless brown eyes stare up at her and Victoria has to force herself to bite back a scream. “It’s not real” she says out loud and mostly to herself, swallowing her throat suddenly dry.
“ It can be” the dark haired girl answers.
Victoria steps over Benji’s body and around the pile of corpses walking right up to the girl. “Who the hell are you and what do you want?”
“I’m a descendant of a god.”
The girls eyes shift turning from brown to red then back to brown. “Do I need to say his name?” She smiles slyly. “Mine is Natalia by the way.”
She supposes Natalie could be Roman’s descendant, but a wolf with the power to infiltrate people’s minds is impossible. Victoria is momentarily distracted by the thought so she’s caught off guard when Natalia surges forward and shoves her to the ground. She straddles Victoria and swings her free hand, which is balled into a fist at Victoria’s face. Victoria however reacts quickly and catches her hand right before it strikes her.
Victoria holds tight and rolls them over until she’s above her. “My friend Benji taught me a few things about binding powers of course that would mean binding mine too. But I’d only be without mine until you died.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” The dark haired girl cries trying to pull away. Her eyes flicker to a muddy green and then back to dark brown as she panics.
“I want to see the real you witch.” She hisses but Victoria just tightens her grip. “Werewolf don’t have the power to invade dreams so stop lying to me.”
“This isn’t a dream. Your friends are dead.”
“You’ll be dead if you don’t stop lying.”
The witch looks like she wants to try and keep up the charade but the fury in Victoria’s eyes makes her snap her mouth shut. She nods her head and slowly morphs into her true form. Her brown curly hair turning into straight blonde locks that fall over her green eyes. “What’s to stop me from coming back?” She asks jutting her chin out in defiance. “You really think you can beat us? You have no idea what’s coming.”
“You think I can’t block you out? I did it to Michael. I did it to Thmei.”
“You...you did it to Thmei?”
“Yes and I can send you on a one way ticket to meet her. So if I were you I'd stay out of my head.”
The witch finally manages to snatch her wrist away and scramble off of Victoria. She eyes the burnt shape of fingers marring her skin and frowns. “Natalia will kill you.”
“Well you tell Natalia, Roman, and whoever else to come try it.”
Chapter: 2 You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The room was unbearably silent as Victoria recounted her nightmare. She’s sure they are just as disappointed at there being yet another threat as she is. It’s always something.
“So now there are witches working with werewolves to come after us?” Adrien shakes his head propping his feet on the coffee table and staring up at the ceiling. “You people have some serious loyalty issues.”
Tobey barely glances at him from his spot on the warehouse floor. “I’m not going to get into how loyal vampires are. Anyway there may be more to the wolves than we thought. Things I don’t think any of you want to hear.”
“Just tell us Tobey.” Victoria says her eyes still trained on the grimiore in front of her. When she told Adrien what happened they decided to have everyone meet up at the warehouse to figure out what to do. So far they were unable to find anything about Roman besides outrageous tall tales. The only one there who could really offer anything substantial was Tobey. Britney had suggested calling Eric but he wasn’t answering his phone. They just had to work with what they had. “No one’s mad you anymore Tobey just tell us everything.”
“I’m still a little mad.” Britney says under her breath.
Victoria rolls her eyes. “ No one’s mad go ahead.” She closes the book opting to sit on the arm of the chair next to Adrien and wait.
Tobey looks uncomfortable but Annie offers him a small reassuring smile. “Okay. Well its all kind of confusing since the hunters all have different origins. Most of them see wolves to be these powerful beings that are loyal and excel at...”
“Let me guess hunting.” Britney fills in dryly.
Tobey ignores her. “For example the Quileute and the Kwakiutl tribes believed that their first ancestors were wolves that somehow transformed into men. The Zunis tribes believed wolves represented protection and you can even find some of the ancient carvings that suggest wolves have both healing and hunting powers.”
“And how does that explain the hunters and their vendetta against witches.” Victoria asks.
“I asked myself the same question. I didn’t really get it until I read Chloe’s journal.”
“Chloe? Eric’s great great great whatever grandmother. What does she have to do with anything?”
“She was around before the hunters. Her and Roman.” Tobey reveals.
“So Eric is related to Roman.” Adrien replies glancing sideways at Britney who looks uncharacteristically calm. “So I’m the only one who didn’t know?” He shakes his head. “Great. Let me guess Roman’s responsible for the hunters somehow.”
“Not mine. The Navajos hunters have always believed that werewolves or skin-walkers are evil bringers of death and should be feared. This fear led them to respecting them in away knowing that they wielded the shape shifting powers by reaching the highest level of priesthood in the tribe. My grandparents said that our ancestors were so scared of skin-walkers they wouldn’t even discuss them in public out of fear of being made an example of.” Tobey drops a book down on the table the pages depicting drawing of men literally tearing off their own skin. “Anyone who had encounters with skin-walkers left completely traumatized. Some said they would hear knocking on the windows of their homes and loud banging on the walls outside and they knew that the skin-walkers would ask to be let inside. They would use voices of their loved ones to ask. Other people claimed they spotted tall animal like figures peering at them through the darkness. It’s said that to beat one you have to track it down and say it’s name, it’s real name and it will wither away. But if Roman is part skin-walker or something that won’t work. I’m pretty sure that’s not his real name. The more I find out the more I think the hunters were threatened or tricked by someone somehow. Someone forced them to make an oath.”
“Sounds like something this Roman guy would do.” Adrien says. “Get people to do his bidding even after his death. It’s the ultimate form of immortality.”
“Well sure but my point is that skin-walkers, witiko, werewolves are not all the same. skin-walkers have the glowing red eyes not werewolves. To become a skin-walker you have to kill your closest family member like how alphas become alphas. You said Natalia was young Victoria, there’s no way she became an alpha that quickly.”
“So maybe Roman wasn’t just a werewolf after all. And I’m guess this Natalia chick isn’t an alfa based on young she lucks. She probably plans on changing that though.” Victoria says. “Do you know how to find out who and where her alpha is?”
“I think I can find out.” Tobey aggrees.
Britney jumps up gathering her things and heading swiftly towards the door. Benji nearly stumbles over his own feet catching up to her. “Hey where are you going?”
“To find Eric.” She answers.
“I’m coming with you.”
Britney sighs heavily “ Listen I have questions for him and I don’t need you to be there.”
“Well I don’t trust him so I’m coming with you whether you like it or not.”
Britney clearly wants to object but decides an argument would be a waste of time. Benji waves halfheartedly at the others before following his sister out the door.
“I’m calling my mom, try not to say anything offensive please.” Tobey says pulling out his phone.
“Like asking her what kind of sick people worship murderers?” Adrien asks
“Are you really asking this question in a country where Christopher Columbus has a national holiday?”
Mr Weber picks up on the third ring. Happy to hear from her son until she realizes she’s on speaker phone. ‘What’s the problem now?”
“Mom there’s no problem really...I just had some questions.”
“You mean your friends did.”
“I did.” He repeats. “Why do the hunters hate witches so much?”
There’s a long pause before Mrs. Weber lets out a deep heavy sigh. “The witches who came here from Europe were not good people. We thought that they were, but they came here to escape prosecution and were willing to slaughter us for their own benefit. We couldn’t fight back.” Mrs. Weber explains. “We did what we had to do.”
“I don’t mean to intrude and with all the history and the…”
“Genocide?” Mrs Weber adds sarcastically.
“The… well I’m sorry.” Annie practically squeaks.
“You’re sorry that Native Americans were almost wiped out? Are you apologizing for the entire white race or one particular nationality?”
“Okay I feel like this is veering in the wrong direction. Can I start over?”
“You can hold your tongue how about that?” Mrs. Weber answers.
Tobey shakes his head at Annie who sits back in her chair crossing her arms. “Mom can you be civil please? Anyway how exactly did we finally fight back?”
“We asked for help. The werewolves gave us the power.”
“That’s impossible. Wolves don’t have magic and if they did why not use it themselves? Why give it to us?”
“Maybe they weren’t the ones who did.” Adrien says. “Only witches can create and control power.”
“I think I know my own history vampire.” Mrs. Weber snaps.
“We all think we know things. This may be a bit hard to admit, but from my experience witches aren’t always very loyal to each other.”
“No kidding.” Victoria mumbles.
“Tobey. I’d like to speak with you alone.” Mrs Weber says after another long stretch of silence.
“Yes mom.” He leaves the room with his phone to his ear.
Somewhere in New Hampshire
Henry enters his cousin’s apartment without knocking and finds her in the dining room messing with the box of Roman’s remains. “I knew it wouldn’t work you know.” He stops just in front of the entryway glowering and crossing his arms over his chest. “Oh and by the way I’m taking this as a sign. I really don’t think we should be messing with her.”
“Don’t be a coward Henry.” Natalia says from a spot in front of the fireplace back still turned to him. “Besides we won’t be alone when this all comes together. ”
“She’s not alone either.” Henry adds. “And I’m not a coward I’m just thinking about the facts. Michael couldn’t die remember that? And where is he now? Very much dead.”
“The witches are scattered there’s no better time to finish it. And I have a feeling she’s not nearly as tough as people think.”
“So we should all be willing to risk our lives to find out, because you have a feeling?”
She touches the box with Roman’s remains thoughtfully. “He chose me. He chose me because I’m the only one who can see the big picture.” She looks inside the box running her fingers over the side of the skull. “My mother was the true alpha…”
“I know the story cousin.”
“You know nothing,!” Henry raises his hands in the air as if to surrender. “It’s not a story Maddox killed her.” Natalia says in a much calmer manner. “Everyone wants to act like they don’t know the truth, but I won’t.”
“Even if that’s true what we are doing now, going behind his back like this…if he finds out I’m not sure that I’ll be strong enough to protect you from him.”
“You won’t have to be.”
“Why not? What aren’t you saying?”
“I’m saying I don’t need your protection from maddox. Thanks to that other witch Victoria thinks that she has the upper hand in all of this. I had her attacked her in her sleep. She’ll be focused on finding the witch who made it possible and I’ll be able to take my rightful place.” Natalia felt excitement shooting up her spine at the thought of avenging her mother and finishing what Roman had started all those years ago. She always found herself just standing still as the world moved around her. Things just happened and no one even blinked her direction. She would be remembered for once. “We both know there were no other options. I can’t turn my back on this, this is my purpose.”
“Kayla. Yeah that other witch has a name. And yeah we’re in the clear unless Eric figures out who and where Maddox is first. Then they’ll be at our doorstep by the end of the week” She shoots him a dirty look but he only stares her down. “Look Natalia I know you are on your little mission right now but challenging a Wesley is a bad idea. In fact I talked to Kayla earlier and she was scared out of her mind.”
“Eric has no interest in tracing his bloodline, if he was he’d have done more with Chloe’s journal. I sent him the exact starting point to a journey of self discovery and he’s done nothing with it.” Natalia chuckles. “Nevermind Kayla, she was just meant to be a distraction. I have a new witch.”
He scoffs. “Of course you do.” He watches her holding the box carefully. “The legend said that Roman was burned and his ashes were scattered. These can't be his bones.”
“The legends were wrong. These are his bones.”
“How do you know?”
“Trust me I just do.”
“Fine be cryptic. Can you at least tell me who the new witch is.”
“She’s a very powerful necromancer. Better than the little Blake girl.”
A necromancer he thinks gravely. Nothing good ever came from making deals with necromancers nor was he fond of black magic. He eyes the box of bones warily when the point of her plan finally clicks. “Oh I get it, you’ve completely lost your mind.”
“Oh cousin, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”