Chapter 1

The round and wondrously bright disc was hanging in the clear and starry night. Chords of moonlight gleamed across the sea of trees. It was that time of the month when the moon would appear more gloriously beautiful than ever.

For werewolves, Full Moon was both exciting and frightening. It used to be a challenging moment for werewolves—half human, half wolf—to face a Full Moon, as it was the exact time when they would turn into their wolf counterpart. Now, hundreds of years after the Dark Ages, werewolves had mastered to control themselves. Full Moon became a celebration of life.

Every Full Moon once a year, the tribe would gather at a small clearing on the hill, with each family bringing a peace offering for the Moon Goddess—which we believed to be the reason why we found each other here, why we were blessed with such a good life. The other Full Moon was still celebrated within the family or pack.

On a Full Moon in one October night six years ago, I had my first transformation. I was only ten that time, and was considered a ‘late bloomer’ by other werewolves, who had tasted how it felt like to meet their other half at the age of eight. I remembered crying to my sleep because I was made fun of, generally because both my parents were a born-werewolf, where most of those kids had one werewolf and one human parent.

Half-blooded werewolves usually had slow transformation—but I had even slower one. They compared me to my own brother, who was already in training to become an Alpha that could lead his own pack someday.

It usually took eight to ten years for a born-werewolf to be eligible for an Alpha training, but Nathan only took seven. He was exactly seven years old when he first transformed into a full wolf and it impressed the whole tribe. He was automatically in the race to become Alpha once he turned 14.

Mastering transformation wasn’t easy, but Nathan nailed it all. Most young werewolves were still learning to shift according to their desire. Some still needed Full Moon to do that, some had a hard time battling for the dominance, and some could not transform at all.

And Thea Whitlock, the daughter of one of the Shadow Striders Elders, was thrown into the last category.

In the middle of the gathering, Nathan’s friends came to me who was sitting by the fire. One of them had turned into a small grey wolf and growled alongside their laughter.

“How is it, Little Thea? Still can’t turn?” The tallest boy—even taller than Nathan—smirked, showing his white teeth.

“Quit bothering her, Drake!” Selene Preston, the prettiest of them all—mainly because she was the only girl in the group—defended me. It wasn’t the first time she tried to do this, but the other boys wouldn’t listen. I could tell that she liked Nathan. Otherwise, she wouldn’t bother taking a stand for me.

“Nate! Are you sure she’s a werewolf? Your parents didn’t adopt her or something?” Drake Calloway still picked on me, followed by cold laughter from the other boy and the wolf.

“Stop it, Drake.” Nathan came between us. “Why don’t we all go to the spring? I heard the Moon Goddess sometimes appears in the Full Moon.”

“You still believe that bedtime story?” Bryan Waltz, the one with curly hair, chuckled. He patted the wolf next to him. “I think even Elliott no longer believes it—and he’s only ten.”

Elliot Calloway growled again. He was in the same class as I was. Calm, reserved, and kind, but he always followed his cousin, Drake, along. One minute he would sit with me at lunch, and the next, he would join this group to laugh at me.

“No, no, I agree with Nathan!” Selene said excitedly. “The Moon Goddess can tell us who we are mated with.”

“Boo-hoo,” mocked Drake. “But, well, it is better than being here. Full Moon celebration is boring.”

The group was starting to leave. I stood up, but Nathan blocked my way.

“You can’t come along,” he told.


“It’s only for werewolves.”

The answer unexpectedly hurt me. Nathan didn’t stand up for me, he just doubled whatever mockery Drake just spat to me.

Emotions building up inside me. Seeing Nathan chose his friends over his own sister created a big hole in my heart. He wasn’t exactly Brother of the Year, but if I could expect someone to defend me, it would be him of all people.

Running into the woods, I finally burst into tears. I didn’t want anyone in that gathering saw me crying. They would pretend to care, but they would definitely make crueler comments behind.

‘Look at that Whitlock girl—she really can't do anything but cry!’

‘I can't believe she's Nathan's sister! Robert's daughter on top of that!’

‘I'm betting my whole fortune that she can't transform until she's at least 12 years old!’

All those comments were lingering in my head. I had never heard it directly, but I could see it in their eyes whenever I made an appearance behind my parents and my oh-so-good brother.

I kept running deeper through the trees that I lost track of where I just came from. I slowed my feet, but a sudden misbalance made my whole body stumbled on to the ground.

Lying flat on my stomach, I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t feel my legs. At the same time, there was some strange patches of hair along my arms. Just like my braided blonde hair, they all turned white, sprouting from every inch of my body. My fingers became shortened, but nails were sharper.

My face felt numb. I could feel that my mouth was getting bigger—no, it was my teeth, growing longer and pointed.

The Full Moon was reflected on a puddle of water in front of me, so was my face. A hairy beast with yellow eyes was what I saw.

If I could scream, I would. My voice was choked in the throat. A split second later, something was pulling my feet, but there was nothing there. Instead, I saw two pairs of big claws.

A sharp pain sear through my body as I felt bones crackled, lengthened, popped through my skin and ripped my clothes.

I was sure my scream tore apart the night, but instead of my voice, all I could hear was a long howl.

My first transformation ever, and my parents were not there to guide me.

I should have known what to expect, but I didn’t. How to walk after completely transformed into a furry, four-legged animal certainly wasn’t a fifth-grade elementary student would learn at school. With my four legs, I staggered through the woods, looking for a way back home.

Every time I screamed, “Mom!”, it all came out as another howl. I just hoped they heard and came looking for me. Werewolves were supposed to have each other’s’ back after all.

The sound of twigs snapping was heard. I turned around, hoping to find at least one of my family members. Instead, I could only see a shadow lurking in the dark, behind the trees.

Something dashed and scratch my left leg. I howled in pain as blood spurted. An arrow was stuck on the ground near my leg. I couldn’t run away as the pain seemed affected my way of walking. I tried to limp away from that spot as far as possible.

The whole situation reminded me of the stories my parents always told me about humans. Some humans liked to hunt supernatural creatures. Whoever shot the arrow had to be a hunter. They probably were preparing another one to shoot through my heart.

With the blood kept flowing, I could barely see the woods in front of me. I swore it was just a scratch, but the blood came out as if I was shot through. I moved slower and slower, and in the end, I couldn’t walk anymore. I whimpered weakly. I was losing too much blood and none of my family knew I was even here.

Through my blurred vision, I saw someone—a human—got closer. With that height, I thought it was Nathan, but his voice was completely different.

“You got hurt!” The boy almost shrieked.

Panic ran through my veins. When he touched me, I struggled, almost clawed him in the process. He swiftly avoided, but instead of running away scared, he stayed.

“Hey, calm down,” he said. “I’m not gonna hurt you. I will help you take care of your wound, okay?”

The boy took out a handkerchief from his pocket. He ran his fingers through my fur to calm me down. It was indeed soothing. I stopped moving so much to allow him to wrap the handkerchief around my wounded leg.

“There you go,” he whispered. “I want to take you to the vet, but I don’t think they would like it.”

His face was illuminated by the moonlight. As I looked at him, he caught my eyes. A pair of beautiful green eyes were staring sincerely at me. His smile bloomed once again, followed by his soft voice telling me that it was gonna be alright… It all lingered on my mind for a brief second.

I heard the sound of the trees rustling even though there was no wind that time. The boy put his finger on his lips.

“Don’t tell them that I helped you!” Carefully, he stood up and dusted away the dirt. “Bye, wolf!”

And just like that, he left, disappeared into the woods. I had never seen him before. He obviously wasn’t part of the tribe because if there was a nice boy like him, I would have known.

He was a human, a kind human, a human that was not like my parents’ stories at all.

A human who knew how to treat a wolf right—unlike the werewolves themselves.


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