It is 2006 and Dagmar Berg, alpha wolf, faces a mounting challenge to her leadership by another councillor, but as plots and schemes are concocted, the traditional Berg pack hunt must be held – whether or not it will lead to her demise.
In 2006, the lycan council, known as the Synedrion, was in crisis – disparate ideas, ambitions and worries separated the councillors, forced them away, rather than towards, unity, which, in a human-ridden world, was a naked dereliction of their duty to the survival of the species. Dagmar, 11th on the council, was clinging to power on the eve of the Berg pack hunt – a tradition dating back centuries – but plots were in motion that would test her leadership and decide the fate of her pack.
Splinters of moonlight were caught in its fur, and the breeze served it a platter of scents: skin, excrement, food, dirt, perfume, blood. A trickle of noises snagged its ears, even the grass whispered.
It had to be careful, it was not alone in its supremacy; others like it stalked the unwary.
The grounds of the pack house stretched far and wide and were covered in a rash of buildings, each one adopted by different families within the Berg pack, or used as store houses or training rooms, or offices or schools.
The wolf surveyed the sprawl: it wasn’t here to destroy, merely weaken, and had planned its targets earlier, knew their routes already and could identify where each individual was by their scent.
Into the deepest night it submerged and silently crawled around the perimeter of the grounds, its nose leading the way.
The first guard was distracted by his phone and had no idea the wolf was there until his head twisted off his body and thudded on to the floor.
Now blood swamped the air; it would alert the other guards – the wolf had to act fast.
The second guard was closest to the decapitation and was roused by the sting in the breeze. The wolf was forced to change its route as the individual walked slowly in the direction of the smell.
The guards were always in human form; it was the Aranist way, the separation of wolf and man, purity of the souls – but it gave the wolf the advantage.
Affording the guard a lot of space, the wolf darted between trees, aware the closer the guard got to its last location, the stronger its scent would be – but in its haste to close the gap, its claws grated against the earth, alerting the guard to its location.
‘You,’ she said, before the wolf slammed into her and tore her to pieces.
It was enticing: the flesh, the blood, almost enough for the wolf to stop and eat, satiate its hunger.
Once the two other guards had been destroyed, it retrieved the body parts, every limb and sinew, and arranged them in an unguarded storehouse.
It enjoyed the macabre frivolity, the ritual of parading its kills; there was a deeper message also – look how easy this was.