Chapter 7 - Questions

Rhiannon shivered and wrapped her hands around herself. Her wet clothes clung to her.


"Rhiannon!" Alfred ran towards her. 


Ignoring the dishevelled state he hugged her.


"Thank God! You are safe sister, you frightened me."


Rhiannon felt genuinely grateful, "I am ok Alfred, I was saved....by a wolf," she said.


"What?" He peered at her as if she had grown horns.


"When I woke up a wolf was staring at me."


"Maybe he was contemplating lunch,"  Alfred commented," anyway let's go. The prince is worried about you."


Alfred wrapped his cloak around Rhiannon which she accepted gratefully. 


"I am relieved to see you safe, my lady," Prince Matthew said as Rhiannon arrived near the horses along with Alfred. He looked genuinely concerned.


While they rode back the prospect of getting scolded by her father and stepmom, made drowning in the lake seem like a cakewalk.

"I know what you are thinking sister, " Alfred whispered to her.


"Don't worry I will talk to father," he smiled.


Rhiannon smiled at him. He was much wiser than his 15 years.


Rhiannon grinned at him.


"Thanks, brother, I know you have my back."


It's didnt work out that well though. Catherine yelled at Rhiannon for spoiling the prince's outing as if she jumped in the lake on purpose, she was banished into her room for rest of the day. 


Rhiannon sighed with relief, she was used to this and preferred staying in the room than joining them for dinner.


********


Vasilios was lying on his back on the


soft grass. He was stark nude as the sun warmed and dried his body.


He had folded his one arm under him and looked at the clouds floating in the sky. He had made sure to shift into a wolf just before she gained consciousness, he chuckled imagining her shock at being rescued by a naked man.


She was not afraid of him, which was a surprise. He hadn't come across any human maiden who treated wild wolves like pet dogs. Whereas she had petted him and called him my friend wolf. He smiled again recalling her lovely face, the way her slim body felt in his arms. She intrigued him.


"Rhiannon, what a lovely name you have," he smiled. His wolf nodded in agreement.


*******


Rhiannon was sipping on the hot chicken soup in her room, while old nan knitted her yarn. 


"Nan, have you heard of intelligent wolves? Like do they rescue people?" Rhiannon asked.


Rhiannon had not told anyone except Alfred that she was rescued by a wild beast because no one would believe her and she didn't fancy being called a lunatic aside from a bastard.


She just said that she swam to the shore. It was more believable.


"It depends on the wolf if they are attached to their masters. They can even give their lives to save their masters. Animals are more loyal in that way," old nan sighed.


"I don't mean pet wolves nan, wild ones, do they rescue people?" 


Nan took her eyes away from her yarn and gave her a piercing look.


"Why you ask so girl?"


"I am just curious."


Nan left her knitting and sighed.


"There are legends of shapeshifter people, they can turn into beasts whenever they want." 


Rhiannon looked at her surprised.


"Really? Is it true?"


"Yes my dear, beyond the forest of brambles lies the kingdom of Arcadia, long ago their king Lycaon was cursed by God Zeus to turn into a werewolf. Ever since then his descents are shapeshifting wolves. Their kingdom is strong and very powerful, for no one can defeat their army of wolves. Every 25 years they ask for a tribute, of an innocent virgin maiden. That maiden is never seen or heard from again."


Rhiannon listened intently, "but this is just a story right?"


"You never know, some legends are true, don't bother about such things." She took away her empty bowl and tucked her in the bed.


What if it was a shapeshifter who had rescued her? She giggled at her imagination. Perhaps, she was turning eccentric like the old nan.


That night Rhiannon dreamt of a snow-white wolf. A lovely snow-white wolf was walking towards her through a moonlight forest. Then suddenly a big grey wolf joined her. He licked its face and she responded.


*********


King William looked down at the letter and the well-dressed messenger who had arrived from Arcadia. He knew about the treaty, which was signed long ago by his ancestors of sending a pristine maiden as a tribute.


The last time Lidio had to send a tribute was 100 years ago. William had no idea that he would have to deal with something like this in his lifetime.


"Very well, I will see to it." He responded.


Getting a maiden was not a problem, many peasants and serfs would gladly give away their daughters for a few coins. But the ancient rule wanted a girl with noble blood. He wasn't sure how to get such a maiden.


None of his noblemen would give up their daughters as tributes. He clasped his hand and supported his chin on his knuckles pondering.


*********


Vasilios walked through the city of Zyla tha capital of Arcadia. He finally reached his destination and knocked on the oak-panelled doors of an old mansion. 


A young omega girl opened the door and immediately bowed on seeing the crown prince.


"I am here to meet Beta Damuis, I hope he is at home?"


"Welcome your highness," she said, " master got your message, he is waiting for you. Please follow me." The omega replied.


He nodded and entered the hallway. He had been visiting this place since he was a young pup.


Beta Damius was an old and one of the most respected scholars of Arcadia. He had been a trusted advisor of Vasilios's grandfather and later Vasilios's tutor during his growing up years. They had shared a very good bond because Vasilios was eager to learn while Damius loved to teach. They had remained friends ever since. Even after Damius retired and left the court.


One of the few men whom Vasilios genuinely respected.


He was distracted from his thoughts as he saw the grand old beta Damius stride into the room. His long white robe fluttered behind him at the speed at which he walked. Vasilios was always amazed at how nimble that old man was. He was well past 500 years old, which is a normal life span equated to about 80 years old.


His body was still fit and his beard was white as snow. His blue eyes were always full of mirth. Even after losing his mate some 100 years ago. Damius was still very much in love with Lady Eva and always kept her pictures around the house.


"Vasilios, it is so good to see you. Hope everything is good at the court and the kingdom ?" Damius said after giving Vasilios a tight hug.


"I am good sir, my father has sent his regard,"  Vasilios grinned at his former tutor and offered him some premium cuts of meat and fruits in a basket.



"Thank you Vasilios," he gestured at an omega who took away the basket. 


They sank back into the comfortable cushions of the chaise while the omegas served refreshments.


"So what brings you here young man?" Damius asked.


Vasilios shifted a little unsure of how to broach the subject.


"Sir, I have some questions, and I believe only you can answer them."


Damius raised an eyebrow.


"Of course, ask away, you know how I love to brag my knowledge," he winked.


"Well, I wanted to know about mate bonds," Vasilios said cautiously.


"What do you want to know about them?" Damius asked, his curiosity piqued.


"Everything, tell me everything about soul mates," Vasilios replied.

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