I was the main topic of talks for the next few weeks. There was no Val, who didn’t speak of me. There were people holding competitions on who hurt me the most during my Rite. Someone threw a rock right at my temple, while another hit me with s metal ball in the knee. Such discussion was one of many.
The elders also had a lot to talk about. They asked me questions, they made me transform many times, they observed me and recorded everything. They spoke amongst themselves and spoke with the heads of the tribes. Much talking was done.
During all this Elaya barely let go of me. She was so sure she would loose me, now she took every opportunity to show her affection. It wasn’t hard to haul around a very clingy girl. I gladly suffered through it all.
The discussions about me would go on for ages. Nobody could decide what I am. A fiend? But I was clearly sane, unlike any other fiend in history. Fiends only became a thing, when guardians couldn’t control the power and went on a rampage. Was I a guardian? I took some royal blood, had full body transformation, stayed in control and then even reverted back to my original state. That is as unique as they come. First in the whole history of the entire tribe. Plus the fact that power I gained was beyond anything seen before.
At some point elders began to talk about what to do with the other girls. They were almost immediately dismissed to be married off, until a wise man, Karmak, said that they were clearly fated for me, as having only seven children in any given month was a unique rarity nowadays. What’s more, while my body transformed entirely, gaining monstrous power, my mind went unscathed, not distorted in any way. He believed that we were fated for one another and it is nothing if not the work of the gods. We had to undergo more Rites.
At that point, seven of us with the girls mothers were invited to participate. While tribe heads were important, they were not elders, so they would rarely be invited. I was represented with Elaya, as I was hers. Girls’ mothers were told of their predicament and asked for their opinion. Adults talked for a while, about safety and necessity of further Rites, about how could I have six wives instead of one. Girls didn’t have much say at first.
At some point, Meriden, having heard enough talk about her life, jumped up, took her sword and slashed her hand with it, sending drops of blood on the ground.
“I WANT TO GO THROUGH THE THE RITE OF PASSAGE AND TO BE ONE WITH ZERN!”
This surprised everybody, especially me. I half expected Aedim to do something in this manner, she clearly showed affection to me throughout our lives, even more so after my Rite. But Meriden was something like a sparring partner for me.
Apparently Elaya was not so oblivious on the matter of Meriden’s maiden heart. She really liked that girl and knew her feelings about me. They clearly talked about it at some point. Even though wolves are meant to be monogamous partners for life, something in Elaya told her it would be ok.
“If Zern is ok with it, I will gladly accept Meriden to join our family and be one body and soul with my love.”
This simple statement sent even more shock through everyone. Nobody expected her to go along with it, especially not after how she reacted at Lilith’s pranks.
“I feel the same way as Meriden, if it is possible, I wish to be one with Zern.”
Aedim indeed decided to speak up. She had light in her eyes, I could swear the colors in there swirled and changed rapidly. She showed happiness, with a slight hint of sadness, perhaps because she was not the first to say it.
Next one to speak up was Eleanor, which also surprised us.
“I cannot pass up the chance to gain such powerful ally at my side. It would be unbefitting royalty to let this opportunity pass me by. I will also stand by Zern and see him rise.”
Since the Rite, she changed a great deal. Her expression now showed tolerance towards me, perhaps she was unused to showing any positive emotion. She could not force herself to smile, but there was a shine in her eyes that only appeared recently.
I could feel the grey matter boiling inside the skulls of others and trying to make its way out of their ears. For Eleanor, who openly despised me until just mere weeks ago, to be wishing to join me in sacred pact of marriage, was something akin to my own legend. Even her mother, who secretly had such thoughts was shaken by her daughter’s words. Clearly, something shifted high up in the stars.
Last to speak were two vixens, who were like two sisters Deceit and Misdirection. Although it wasn’t as much of a shock now, their words still stirred something inside all of us.
“We are fated for one another, if Zern joins with them, he is to be one with us. We cannot let him go to our opponents. We will go through the the Rites”
Words of rivalry were clear as day, they were sisters to one another, but treated others as enemies if it concerned me. They were not totally serious, but their expression showed seriousness and determination, in great contract to their usual mischievous demeanor.
What also struck others in their hearts were Lilith’s words of the Rite. For royal princess of Val’Luna tribe to undergo the rite of passage when there is no necessity was an alien concept. The idea would be dismissed immediately if not recent happenings concerning me. This made everyone think.
For sometime everyone remained silent, trying to think of what to do. This would be violation of any rules set before, but now my existence was breaking such rules by me merely being present there. The circumstances of my birth, my abnormal development, my transformation made everyone consider the girls’ words seriously. Thankfully no one thought I was some kind of demon trying to gain power or whatnot.
I decided it was my turn to speak.
“I will gladly take all of you as mine, to be joined as one on day of our marriage. I will gladly go through with every rite, if not to gain more power to protect my people and my brides, but to show my strength and determination to overcome any challenges of the Val tribes.”
With my words, our future was sealed. Even if nobody knew it in their minds, in their hearts it was clear what was to come. Discussions resumed shortly after. There were lots of logistics to work out, but the issue was resolved. I had five more Rites ahead of me.