Discover the truth about the people who were called the Goddess’s Wards.
The ancient texts spoke of the end of a dark age and the dawn of a new era of peace and prosperity. All celebrated the day the demon was locked away by the Moon Goddess. But the ancient texts don’t relate everything, for history has forgotten that a price had to be paid to bring this peace.
This book will reveal what happened centuries before “A Beloved Sin.”
Discover the truth about the people who were called the Goddess’s Wards.
The moon was full, and light snowflakes were falling from the sky. The cold wind blew on my skin, making me shiver. Our ancestors had foretold that a bright light would shine, ending a dark age of blood and death. Everyone in town gathered quickly when the light tore through the darkness of the night. We followed it right into the dead of the wood. In front of us stood a woman. Her hair was blonde, almost white, undulating in waves, going way down her back. She wore a long white dress. The air seemed to glow with the light of her golden crown.
Further back, I could see her silver chariot pulled by two snow-white winged horses. A powerful aura emanated from her, and I could only hope the prophecies were accurate: that she was the one who would end the reign of terror of the murderous demon, Eurynomos.
She stood in silence, observing us. I stiffened, and my heart raced when she gestured toward me.
“You! Step forward.”
I held back my breath as everyone turned my way, staring at me. People moved to the side, making a path between the woman and me. I swallowed hard and walked toward her. I was scared as hell and didn’t know what to expect.
She looked at me kindly as I approached her, and I immediately relaxed. When I got in front of her, I asked timidly,
“Are you the one the prophecy stated? Are you the one who will rid us of Eurynomos?”
The woman nodded.
“I am, though it’s not as simple as ridding you of Eurynomos.”
“What do you mean?”
“Eurynomos cannot simply be killed. He is a powerful demon. But I have sealed him in a sepulcher, protected by a powerful spell.”
A gasp was heard at those words, and whispers were heard. Before I could say anything more, a howl tore through the night. I stepped back, screaming, as a giant gray wolf appeared between the woman and me, growling menacingly at me. Looking around the woods, I realized dozens of wolves were surrounding us. People pressed against each other as the wolves came closer.
The woman put her hand on the giant wolf’s head, and he stopped growling.
She spoke to the wolf, “Calm down. They mean me no harm.”
The wolf nodded and bowed his head. I couldn’t believe my eyes as his body started to shift right in front of me. His paws and bones elongated into arms, legs, and spine. It all happened quickly; before I knew it, a full-grown naked man was kneeling before the woman. I was too surprised to be scared. My mouth went agape when I realized that all the wolves had also shifted to humans. People started to stir from this, and some tried to get away, but the woman sent a wave of magic, stopping them in their way.
She spoke with authority and kindness, “Stay calm. There is nothing to fear.”
People seemed to relax at her words. She added, “Humans! These are wolf shifters. You might not have heard of them, but they have lived among you for centuries.”
Her words resonated in my mind. I had never heard of wolf shifters. An old woman asked, “Are they the werewolves that devour my sheep at night?”
The man to my side scoffed at those words. The woman answered, “What you might have heard or believed about wolf shifters is probably wrong and exaggerated.”
I pondered for a while. Werewolves. They were only legends, or so I thought. Never could I have believed that they existed. Yet, I was now surrounded by werewolves. It was scary yet exciting.
The kneeling man spoke deeply, not daring to lift his head toward the woman, “My Goddess.”
My eyes widened as I repeated, “Goddess?”
The woman nodded and gestured to the man.
“You may rise.” Then she looked at the people from my town and me. “Humans! Fear not, for I am the Moon Goddess.”
People gasped at her words. It certainly explained the aura of power I felt surrounding her and how her words could instantly calm people. This night challenged everything that I ever believed was true. Murmurs arose from the crowd. I remembered reading the legends of the Moon Goddess once in an old folklore book, but otherwise, I had never heard of her. My heart was racing, and I should have been scared, but somehow I felt excited and ready to accept this new knowledge.
She continued, “As I said, I have sealed the demon, Eurynomos. I have chosen all of you to be the guardians of his sepulcher.”
Questions started to arise from the crowd.
“Chose us? How?”
“Do we need to fight a demon?”
The wolf-shifters were silent, waiting for the Moon Goddess to keep talking. I couldn’t help but appreciate their respect for her compared to my people.
She smiled when a kid asked, “How are we supposed to do this?”
She spoke in a firm voice, “Humans! I will give you the gift of magic. You will be able to wield the elements, brew powerful potions, or call on mystical forces. This is my gift to you for becoming guardians of the demon.”
She turned towards the wolf shifters. My gaze shifted from the Goddess to the man standing beside me. His green eyes caught my eyes, and I lost myself in them momentarily, gazing upon his deepest secrets. His black hair was messy, and he had light stubble. He smirked as my eyes fell onto his muscled chest. He was handsome, and I caught myself wondering if he was single. I scolded myself, now was not the time to think about finding a boyfriend.
The man turned his head towards the Goddess when she spoke.
“Werewolves, I will gift you a fated mate. You will find, only once in your lifetime, a twin soul. Someone made especially for you, as you will also be made for them. An attraction so strong it’s impossible to resist. A never-ending love and a more powerful bond than anything you thought existed. Giving you the power to sense what your mate is feeling and speak through their mind as your bond increases, making you one with this person. You shall take care of your fated mate and overcome challenges together.”
As she spoke those words, something clicked through me, and the man’s eyes flickered. He looked at me, his eyes heavy with desire. My heart pounded in my chest. I wanted to go to him; I needed to be with him. Sure, he was handsome, but at this moment, I felt like I had known him forever. I wanted to be in his arms, never to go away. Was this the bond she was talking about? If it was, it was undoubtedly the most powerful thing I had ever felt, and I didn’t want to fight it.
The Moon Goddess smiled, looking at the man and me before pointing at us.
“These two will be your new leaders. Your two races must associate together, as you are all my wards. Learn from one another. Master your powers. Always be prepared in case the demon should be freed. Many perils will await you.”
My mate told the Goddess, “I, Alpha Cyrus of the dark forest pack, accept your gift with humility. We will happily welcome the humans in our pack.”
I frowned. “Wait, what? A pack? Alpha?”
The Moon Goddess smiled. “You have a lot to learn. And you must understand that the werewolves’ way of leading a pack, or the human way of living in society, will not work. You will now form a new kind of society, a new form of pack. A pack of werewolves-witches. Live in harmony with the forest, and build a strong society with rules that please both werewolves and witches.”
The man stared into my eyes deeply, and I could stare at his soul. He was strong, had a kind heart, and wished to protect his loved ones. We had so much to discover, and I was eager to learn everything about him. He nodded, not breaking eye contact with me.
“Understood,” he answered the Goddess before adding to me, “I can’t wait to get to know you better.”
Heat rose to my cheeks, and my heart fluttered at those words. I answered back, “I can’t wait either.”
The werewolves began to mix with the people from my town, trying to get to know them. People in the crowd started looking at each other, exchanging words. Some people were amazed to see that they could summon elements and magic.
The Goddess said, “You shall create a new pack here, close to Eurynomos’s sepulcher.”
The man grabbed my hand, and I swear I felt a surge of magic traveling through me as he did, sending sparks through my spine. My heart was racing in my chest. I looked at the Goddess, “Thank you for those wonderful gifts.”
She shook her head. “You should hear me out before thanking me. As I am afraid that those gifts come with a curse.”
Everyone stopped talking and stared at her at those words. What curse? She hadn’t spoken about any curses. Frightened, we hung on to the Goddess’s words as she told us of the horrible curse that now bound us to the protection of the demon’s sepulcher.
Chapter 1 (Matthew)
Born with an expiration date
** Centuries later **
I woke up to the scent of coffee and eggs. I wasn’t in a hurry to get up. My head throbbed from the lack of sleep. I was still sore from yesterday’s race. I loved participating in those, even though I didn’t have to. As the Alpha’s son, I was faster than most wolves of the pack. But the race was different every time.
Since our pack consisted of witches and werewolves, we changed the race so that everyone could have a chance to win. Last night’s race was prepared so that witches had a better chance of winning than werewolves. I was proud when I managed to finish second. Those born with the gift of magic and a wolf had a real advantage, but there were very few of them. Those born without magic or a wolf were usually in charge of preparing the race, as they couldn’t compete with us. But we still organized races made especially for them. They were essential members of the pack, and we didn’t want them to feel left out.
The feast following the race was a celebration in which everyone partakes. Yesterday’s was one of the best I’ve seen. We celebrated for hours, and I remember dancing with Kelly all night, her blonde hair swaying to the rhythm of the music. She was one of my best friends. Although we once had a small affair, we agreed to stay just friends. But we both knew that on nights of celebration, after drinking, things tended to heat up between us. It was something I was looking for as much as she did. As long as we were both single and willing, it was a game she liked to play with me.
The smell of food got the better of me. I put on a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt, then shaved before combing my brown hair. When I decided I looked good enough, I got to the kitchen.
“Happy birthday, Mat!” joyfully shouted my dad, Esme, my brother Bryan, and Kelly.
Esme was the oldest witch of the pack. At ninety-two years old, I knew she had little time to go. But she was like a mother to me. Esme helped my father raise me, as my mother died giving birth to me. Kelly, Bryan, and my dad hugged me while Esme watched, smiling.
I was glad to see them but wasn’t happy that it was my birthday. Today was a gloomy day for me. I dreaded this moment all my life. Twenty-six years ago, I was born on a blessed night. I was the most precious member of the pack. I was the one chosen, born with the mark. I was to be cherished until the day I would be sacrificed. This year was the last that I would live. No one ever made it older than twenty-six years old. Sometime before my twenty-seventh birthday, the demon’s seal would weaken. When that happens, my blood will be spilled, and I will die so Eurynomos doesn’t escape his sepulcher. I never understood why they called this a “blessed night.” I was born with an expiration date.
That’s why my brother Bryan was the next in line to become the next Alpha, even though I was the oldest. Everyone in the pack knew I would never be the Alpha, but they still paid me respect while I was alive.
“Sherry didn’t come to see me?” I asked.
My dad shook his head.
“She’s busy with her youngest pup. She’ll probably be there later today.”
Sherry was Bryan’s mother. She and my dad dated a few years ago. But she didn’t want to become the pack’s Luna. Too many responsibilities. So they split up but stayed friends. Still, she looked after me like I was her son.
After breakfast, I exited the pack house with Kelly. It was a sunny summer day, and the sun’s rays felt hot on my skin. We walked toward the forest. We had to stop whenever we crossed someone’s path as they wanted to wish me a happy birthday. They didn’t know it was my birthday because I was the Alpha’s son. They knew it because I was the one to be killed. With each generation, it became increasingly difficult to sacrifice the “treasured member” of the pack, as they called him, the emotional weight taking its toll on people.
We had a big wall surrounding our pack’s houses. The name of everyone who had been sacrificed over the years was written on it. It all started when we received this curse from the Goddess, and people were tired of it. I felt sick, knowing that soon my name would be added to the wall.
“Be safe!” Charles shouted as we crossed the dreaded wall and ventured into the forest. Charles was one of the best guards in the pack.
I gestured to him. “Sure!”
He nodded, his red hair swaying in the wind, then added eagerly, grinning, “Oh! I almost forgot! Happy birthday!”
I smiled at him. “Thanks!”
I breathed a sigh of relief as we headed deeper into the woods. Kelly laughed, her crystal clear voice echoing around me.
“You’re getting a lot of attention today!”
“Too much!” I replied, annoyed.
Kelly looked at me with her deep chocolate eyes. We stepped over a small stream.
“You can’t blame them for wishing you a happy birthday.”
I knew she was right, but still…
“It’s a constant reminder that this is my last birthday.”
She walked in silence for a while, staring at the ground. She spoke; her voice was barely audible.