The Warlock Lord
The Warlock Lord
Rite World 4: Rite of the Warlock 1
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A she-wolf who's been outcasted. A warlock with a dark destiny. And a journey that will unite them—or break them apart forever.
I’m the alpha of the Dark Vale pack—or I was, until my crown was taken from me by a bloodthirsty female called Isalia who doesn’t deserve to rule. If I want to overthrow her and reclaim my pack, I’m going to need some help. Keeran and I put Queen Thea on her throne, but I’m unsure if the lonely warlock is still alive… or if he’s still has feelings for me. I want to search for Keeran, but my wolves come first, and I might be forced to make a choice between them.
I never forgot about Luana. I never forgot she had obligations, either. Most of my life has been spent alone, and I plan to keep it that way, until I’m told there’s a group of warlocks just like me somewhere out there. If Luana wants me to aide her in bringing down Isalia, she’ll have to help me achieve an impossible task: finding the warlock coven, and becoming a legendary Warlock Lord. But things are complicated. I have a tainted past that still gives me nightmares. Yes, I want Luana. But the closer she gets to me, the more danger she’s in…
A kick-ass paranormal romance with bite and intrigue, The Warlock Lord is the perfect balance of seduction, suspense, and surprising secrets. Readers will love this new adult tale of wolves, warlocks, and magic. The first in a brand-new series!
From behind the bushes, I spied the herd of deer in a little valley. There were at least a dozen of them, eating the overgrown greens and warming themselves in the last rays of sunlight.
Clueless of the werewolf pack surrounding them.
Everyone ready? I sent my thoughts to the wolves who had volunteered to come with me. When in wolf form, our minds were linked and we communicated via thought. The alpha was able to control this connection, sending thoughts to each wolf or blocking them. However, as the youngest and the first female alpha of our pack in more than two centuries, I was still trying to learn my newfound powers.
And a bunch of other things.
Like controlling a large pack of aggressive werewolves.
Ready. Wyatt was the first to respond, as usual.
But nobody else did.
I swallowed a growl, lest the deer hear me. I could see the other wolves across the valley. Moon be damned, why didn’t they answer me?
Are you ready? I tried again.
A handful of half-assed yeses sounded in my mind.
After we killed this herd and dragged them back to our pack for this damned feast tonight, I would have a talk with these wolves. I was their goddamn alpha. They had to do better than this.
Set, I told the wolves. The ears of one deer perked up. Now!
Teeth bared, I jumped from behind the bushes and—
Startled by the command in Charles’s voice, I skid to a stop right in front of the herd. I glanced around, realizing only Wyatt and I had attacked, and now the herd fled from us.
What are you waiting for? I put as much bite as I could into my words. A few wolves stepped forward, but they were too slow for my taste.
Instead of catching the entire herd in one fell swoop, we only got five deer before the others escaped.
When it was clear that was all we were going to get, I turned around and bared my teeth at Charles. What the hell was that?
Charles strutted out from behind the bushes. He stared me down with his dark brown eyes. Even though he was at least twice my size—maybe more in our wolf forms—I stood my ground. I wouldn’t buck to this big bully.
I’m sorry. I just thought it wasn’t the right time to attack. His voice dripped with sarcasm.
I let out a low growl. Did you forget who I am?
Charles growled in response. Believe me, I have not.
Then you know you have to obey me. Everyone does.
I couldn’t believe he was being this direct. This stupid. And right in front of a bunch of wolves, who now surrounded us. I puffed my chest. I don’t care if you think it’s fair or not. It is what it is. And you obey me until it changes.
How about we change it now?
It was all the warning I got before he jumped on me. I barely had time to move back and avoid his hit and his sharp teeth.
What the hell? I directed to his mind only, but Charles didn’t answer me. He was too busy circling me, preparing for another attack. Charles, stop this now.
Again, he didn’t answer me. Instead, like a bulldozer, Charles ran toward me. I jumped to the side, but not before his paw found purchase on my side. His nails sank into my skin.
I let out a howl as the pain registered.
Shocked. I was shocked. In my year as alpha, I had heard rumors and insults, I had been glared at, but I had never been challenged like this. And I was certain Charles wasn't fooling around.
This was a challenge.
A challenge to become alpha.
Which meant, Charles would only stop once he killed me.
In my stupor, I barely resisted when Charles careened into me. I slammed against the hard ground, and he stepped over me, his sharp teeth close to my neck.
Give up, Luana, he said in my thoughts. Let me win this fight and I won’t kill you. Let me become the alpha then become my mate. We can rule the pack together.
The rumors had been right. Charles didn’t only want to take the mantle of the alpha from me, but he also wanted me as a mate. As if he could decide that. We had stood side by side several times, and the mating bond hadn’t snapped into place. I wasn’t his mate and he knew it.
It didn’t matter, because I would never be his mate, bond or no bond. Charles was a conceited and selfish wolf, who was even worse in human form. And not that handsome.
Finding strength in the depths of my core, I swiped a paw sideways, making Charles lose his footing. I pushed against him and rose to my feet.
I snarled at him. Never.
He showed me his sharp teeth. Such a loss.
Then he attacked again.
I sidestepped him, trying to think this through. As the alpha, I had become stronger and faster, but Charles was probably still stronger, not to mention a bigger and a more experienced fighter. If I wanted to win this fight, I would have to be fast.
Charles turned around and came at me again. He snapped his teeth close to my hind leg, and I jumped forward, putting distance between us.
Stop running from me, Charles said in my head.
Letting him think I was obeying him, I stood my ground. Charles snarled and charged me again. I waited—until the last second. Then I sidestepped him, angling my body. I jumped over him. Off balance, he hit the ground. I pressed my paw down on his snout and snapped my teeth an inch from his throat.
I’m not going to kill you. His eyes widened in surprise. I won’t be that kind of alpha. But be warned. Next time you challenge me, I’ll make an example out of you.
I stepped back and held my ground, afraid Charles would attack me again. To my surprise, he pushed up to his wobbly legs, his head low.
You’ll regret this, he whispered in my mind.
And I believed him.
* * *
I didn’t regret taking down Ulric. He had been an evil alpha with only his pride and power in mind. He had sent me, a young, lower-ranked wolf, on what was supposed to be an easy mission, but looking back, I was sure he thought I wouldn’t survive. He had probably expected me to die when he sent me to spy on the vampires of DuMoir Castle. He never imagined I would have been captured and turned into a blood slave.
My stomach turned. I hated remembering those days, but things got better when I allied with Drake, who was now lord of DuMoir Castle. For a vampire, Drake was a decent man and wanted peace between the vampires and the other races. Because he had helped me and given me a family when my pack had abandoned me, I trusted him wholeheartedly. He and his mate, Thea, the Witch Queen of the Silverblood coven.
No, I didn’t regret killing Ulric, but I did regret becoming the alpha. At first, it had been part of the plan—as alpha, the wolves of the Dark Vale pack would have to obey me during the battle when Drake and Thea retook DuMoir Castle. It had worked, but I wished there had been another way. Maybe if another wolf had been by my side, I could have let him take down Ulric and become the alpha. Then, I could have been his beta and avoided all the hateful glares—the same ones I felt now as I walked out of my cabin.
Since my fight with Charles, we had dragged the handful of deer back to our village, then I disappeared inside my cabin, while the others took care of the feast’s preparations.
Back in human form, I washed the deer’s blood and the dirt from the hard ground from my body, scrubbing the sponge over my skin, as if I could scour away more than dirt. Maybe my fate too?
After the shower, I donned leather pants and a suede vest and brushed my long hair down my back. Then, after a hundred deep breaths, I left the safety of my cabin and faced the wolves outside.
The pinprick of everyone’s hateful glares sent goose bumps down my spine, but I did my best to stay calm, to control my heartbeat and my breathing, so they couldn’t hear just how much I detested all of this—and use it to destroy me.
As much as I hated being alpha, I hated the idea of being killed even more.
I hadn’t even taken five steps before Wyatt showed up in front of me, holding a glass of our artisan beer.
“I thought you might want something to drink,” he said, smiling at me.
I eyed the glass. If it were Charles or any other werewolf, I would think the drink might be poison, but Wyatt was different. He was a teenager, who had lost his parents as a child, and because of that, the pack had raised him. He had had little guidance, but he was a loyal wolf nonetheless. I remembered him from before my mission, and he had always struck me as an upbeat and optimistic kid. Now a young man, he hadn’t changed much.
And he seemed to like me as his alpha.
At least one wolf in the pack did.
I took the glass from him. “Thank you.”
He stepped to my side and gestured down the road. “It’s almost ready.”
I looked around. Since werewolves decided to become more human than wolf many centuries ago, our pack had adopted an old human village with a handful of dirt packed roads and frail wooden houses lining them. With time, the wolves paved the roads with limestones and reinforced and expanded the houses. Despite the many wells for water and generators for electricity, the village still had a pre-Industrial feel to it.
My house was close to the edge of the forest and about eight houses from the center of the village, where a square was located. Following Wyatt’s gesture, we walked toward the square.
If the weight of the stares from the people walking by my house and coming to the feast had been heavy before, it was nothing compared to the moment I stepped into the square and joined the rest of the wolves.
After the DuMoir battle, our numbers dwindled, but we still had about a hundred wolves in our pack—which was a record since wolves didn’t do well in larger groups.
And right now, all the wolves stared at me and silence filled the air.
I cleared my throat. “Enjoy the feast, everyone.” I waved toward the tables set to one side of the square, where the food and drink were spread out.
Slowly, the wolves resumed chatting and laughing. Slowly, everyone ignored me. Slowly, I let out a long breath.
My relief was short-lived as I approached the big bonfire in the center of the square. Logs surrounded the fire, serving as benches, and on two of those logs sat Charles and his band of hateful wolves.
He stared at me, his dark eyes gleaming with the flicker of the fire. He raised his mug of beer toward me, then tipped it back, finishing it in two big gulps. The rest of his group patted his back and yelled, like drunks in a bar.
I shuddered, feeling like a stranger in my pack.
“Luana, my dear pup.” I cringed at Patricia’s voice. She was an elder she-wolf, who thought she was some kind of counselor to the alphas. She was probably the oldest wolf here, over a hundred years old, though she didn’t look a day older than fifty. The old woman stepped in front of me, looking more like a Romani in her long dress and bangles than a werewolf, and she smiled wide, showing off her yellowed teeth. “There you are.” She gestured to the table, where the limbs of the deer were now displayed—most of them still dripping with blood. “Thank you for securing our feast.”
Was she being sarcastic? I could never tell with her. She was the kind of person who smiled even when she was handing out an insult.
“You’re welcome,” I said, unsure what she really wanted. Because I knew she wanted something. She never started a conversation without a clear purpose.
She hooked her frail arm on mine and tugged me forward. I let the old woman guide me through the crowd in the square, because I wanted to hear what she had to say. Probably more gossip and her own reasoning about it. I was so sick and tired of gossip and rumors.
And an unruly pack that looked down on its alpha.
“I heard Charles gave you a hard time,” she said in a low voice. With our enhanced senses, I was sure half the pack heard her. “He can be such a prick sometimes.”
I steered us to the edge of the square, where it met one of the roads, and turned to her. “What do you want?”
She widened her eyes, pretending to be shocked by my tone. “My dear pup, I only want what’s best for the pack.”
I cringed again. I hated when she called me 'dear pup.' One, I wasn’t a pup, and two, I wasn’t dear to her. Not really. “And what would that be?”
She puffed her chest, preparing for a speech. “I believe we can’t live as we used to. Werewolf packs have always been patriarchal, where females weren’t allowed to move up the ranks. Unfortunately, the few female alphas we've had before didn’t last.” Her tone was calm and clear, and I frowned. The two females who had reached the alpha status in our pack had gotten there because they had been mates of the alphas when they died of natural causes. They assumed the position for a brief time—until a male wolf challenged their position and took over the alpha mantle. “But times are changing. I think we finally have one that will change history.”
Still feeling on the defensive, I crossed my arms. Was she really saying what I thought she was saying? “You think I can hold my position?”
“I do, but you might need help.”
And here we went. “And who would help me?”
I blinked at her, sure I had heard her wrong. Wasn’t she just praising the future and the end of male dominance? “What?”
“Think about, my dear pup. As females, we’re naturally weaker than males. A female alpha doesn’t have much of a future, unless she has a strong male as her mate. He’ll help her secure her place. Especially if she bears pups who will strengthen the line of succession.”
I stared at her in horror. She was really telling me to get a mate and procreate. Just like that. “I don’t need a male by my side. I can steer this ship alone.”
She tilted her head, her eyes narrowing. “Do you really believe that? Didn't Charles just challenge you? Tomorrow, it'll be a stronger wolf, and eventually, you’ll succumb.”
My brows curled down at the thought. I wasn’t afraid of losing the alpha position, but I didn’t want to be hurt, or killed, in the process. However, what really made me sick was that most wolves in the pack still thought Ulric had been an amazing alpha. He had been ruthless and cold and greedy. He had brought more comfort and riches to the pack—at the cost of others. No, I didn’t like that. On this matter, I agreed with Drake and Thea. All races could live together in peace. We just needed respect and courtesy.
If I succumbed, if I were killed and another wolf secured my position, then our pack was doomed, and peace with the vampires and the witches would be gone.
I couldn’t let that happen.
I clenched my fists until I felt my nails digging into my palms. “And I bet you have someone in mind.”
She nodded. “Charles.”
What? I picked at my ears, once again sure I couldn’t have heard her right. “I’m sorry. I thought you mentioned the wolf who just tried to kill me.”
“I did,” Patricia said, seriously. “He’s not the strongest wolf in the pack, but he’s strong enough. And half of this pack is under his thumb. If you mated with him, then they would all be under your thumb.”
Even if the idea of having Charles as my partner didn’t disgust me, there was another problem to consider. “You do realize the mating bond isn’t something that can be forced, right?”
Besides, Charles, or any other wolf in this pack, would use me as a pawn. I would hold the title, but I bet that as soon as I mated with one of them, they would steal my power. They would rule instead of me.
“Then find another one,” she said, her voice gaining a slight hard edge. “Search for your precious mating bond among our pack, but do it fast. Otherwise, you’re doomed.”
She spun on her heels and marched back to the crowd. I watched as she joined a group of she-wolves near the bonfire and started talking animatedly. Patricia’s mate had been killed a long time ago, and her only son had mated with a wolf from another pack—a rare event—and moved to his mate’s pack. Patricia was alone here.
It seemed she was now trying to make an ally out of me. What was her real intention?
To her right, three werewolves brought out Spanish guitars and other instruments. In no time, there was music mixed with the chatter and the laughter around the square. There was plenty of food and drink.
Every wolf in the pack seemed happy. Carefree.
It was a shame I wasn’t.