Total destruction could be seen for as far as the eye could see as waves of smoke, thunderous clouds of torment, and channels of fire spread across the once green and beautiful lands of the Apreez, the Kingdom of Werewolves. Where the skies were once blue, now only grey and heavy smoke floated and twirled and even the birds which would happily fly around were dropping down as they tried to escape the pulsing waves of heat. Every tree was aflame with burn, every watering hole bubbling and boiling under the heat of destruction and even the once bright wildflowers became blackened with soot. The castle rumbled and screaming echoed through the bricked walls as another building exploded, killing more people and more families of innocents. Howls of anguish began to ring in drones, pushing more chaos into the atmosphere at the loss of life. Nobody’s screams could compare to that of the sorrow in the castle. Everything about the previously poised and perfect space became turned with drilling turmoil and chaos. This castle was a sanctuary, a place of refinement and history, and the murderous screams and stink of battle did not hold back in tearing up the lush carpets, melting the ornate curtains, or turning the golden embellishments to black. Even the King of the Weres, King Augustus, had lost his patience and regality.
“RIA!” The King boomed as his feet rushed him across the stone hallways of the castle. His eyes searched behind every closed door and his whole body trembled as his worst fears started to become more apparent. His newborn son was not in his room and now his Queen and mate were nowhere to be found. Another loud and earth-shaking boom could be heard from down below, where the Apreez was crumbling down into nothing. He could feel each and every cry of his people as they tried to escape from whatever disastrous event was happening around them.
“RIA!” The King screamed again as eyes widened in terror from the explosions outside the window. His body pushed past guards, who had already been ordered to run to safety and even the maidens were long gone as they fled for cover. Door after door was opened, but each room was dark and void as the battle raged on. What battle, nobody knows. The King cursed under his breath as his feet pulled him closer to where the blasts could be heard. He counted the locked doors until she smelled something sweet coming from behind a very delicate, red one that belonged to the Queen's personal, tea parlor in the highest tower of the castle. The King pulled it open and his blood ran cold at the sight. His beloved wife, queen, and mate were holding his baby and her whole body was shivering as blood dripped from her clothes. It ran crimson and thick, making the scene even more morbid than before. The King could still pick up his son’s faint heartbeat, but the very sight of his mate covered in red was something out of a nightmare. Was she hurt? His nose twitched up, but the blood reeked of others. His mate looked wide-eyed at him, her body cowering as she pulled their son closer to her chest. She looked like a madwoman, her hair thickly roused and her every movement sharp and unpredictable.
“Ria, come here darling, please.” The King begged, but he could see that his mate was far beyond return. Her dark, curly hair was knotted from being pulled too much and her eyes were shining in wild and vivid brown with hints of purple. Her witch was present, but so was her wolf. His breath became lost at his hybrid mate and the way her magical selves were becoming lost to the terror surrounding them. All the King could think about was his son and the future King in his wild and dangerous mate’s hands. He needed to be careful and discreet with Ria. She is both a werewolf and witch, meaning her powers and abilities could run rings around his wolf. No matter how strong, Ria and every Hybrid in the Zenox, the Magical Realm, were stronger.
“Don’t come closer. I warn you!” Ria hisses and her eyes flash to purple as she propels one of the tea cabinets to fall in front of the King. The glass shatters onto the stone and some pieces bounce up across the walls. His wolf becomes uneasy as Ria starts to back herself up to the open window. The explosions and puffs of smoke roaring behind her only add to the dramatic effect of the moment. The King can feel his gut twisting in pain as his son starts to cry. The breeze is so close that any lasting or uncontrolled movement and both she and their son would plummet down and see their ends.
“Please, Ria. Don’t do anything stupid. My son…” The King’s voice trails off as his mate laughs hysterically, her voice rough and gritty with sarcasm. He can sense her anger and burning rage. Ria, who was once the love of his life and the most gentle soul he knew, is too far beyond reach. She has lost herself to her two counterparts and the destruction is only echoing the very reality of it all. The King tries to step closer, but with each step towards his son, his mate steps back until her feet are on the edge of the window. The room shakes as attacks breach the castle and his eyes widen. Time seems to stand still as he breathes in thick smoke and he can feel Ria’s aura become more defiant. She won’t ease up. She is going to take herself and my son out the window of this ten-story tower.
“Your son? Have you not…” The Queen says, her aura easing for only enough time as the King rushes forward to plunge his dagger into her throat. In the heat of Ria’s emotion, the last thing she ever expected was for the King to do this. The Queen looks down at her baby and a tear rolls down her cheek and onto his pink one. She tastes the metal crimson in her mouth signifying the end of her life. When her eyes lift to look into her King’s, she feels bile rise to her throat as reality grips on her. She can feel herself fading and he isn’t even flinching as she breathes in her final breaths. Magic floats around the Queen's body and her purple aura float in a protective stance around her and her body but this fades, making room for the whimpering of her dying wolf. The King watches closely and holds his mate close as dread fills his soul at what he just did. What choice did he have though? She would have killed his son. As Ria’s eyes start to turn to a cold and dull grey, the King finds himself beginning howling in agony as he squeezes both her limp body, as well as his son against him. His wolf’s roar can be heard throughout the Kingdom of Apreez and for those who are alive to hear, their eyes turn down in heartbreak. Time seems to stand still as the King never ceases his grip on what is left of his family. The roaring thunder and bursts of destruction also seem to fade.
“Your Majesty?” A male voice says from the door. The King looks to the side and sniffs as his eyes land on that of his Beta, Frederick. His Beta looks anguished as he looks down to the dead form of the Queen.
“Fred. I tried – I tried to save them both, but she…” The King cries and Frederick rushes forward to hold onto his longest and best friend. He looks down at the open window and how close they are to facing a very long fall, sure to bring death and a chill creeps up his spine. The beta manages to convince his King to leave the Queen’s body on the floor and rushes to open for the guards to cover her up. The explosions have stilled ever since she died, almost as if she were the one causing them. Frederick holds the young prince and pulls the King closer to the council room, where many others are waiting for an explanation. Explosions and thunder could be heard across the whole of the magical realm of Zenox, so there is no surprise that nobles and royalty from all castes are very confused and demand answers. It isn’t often that this sort of war happens. Frederick hands the sleeping child to his own mate and a sad smile appears on her face as she looks down at the motherless Prince with tears in her eyes. All of the Kingdom loved their Queen, so what could have gone wrong? The King moves to his own seat and his beta moves along with him. A few moments go by and everyone has their eyes fixed on the leader of the weres. They know he just suffered a great loss. They can feel the heartbreak and sizzling sorrow burning in the air, but this matter was too large to ignore.
“King Augustus, I know it must be very difficult to speak now, but unfortunately we need some sort of explanation for all this unrest.” The Queen of the Witches says. She looks particularly devastated. Her purple eyes land on the blood covering the King’s hands and torso. Queen Ria was also a witch. A very powerful and loved one, despite being a hybrid. The King flinches and Frederick sighs at his silence. Is the man in shock? Prince Ares starts to cry and the beta’s mate moves outside. The cries were not a welcomed distraction as the council room energy begins to flare up. Beta Frederick takes in the scene and amazement fills his gut as he sees that every council member is present. I suppose this isn't surprising in a magical world where moving through time becomes so easy. Roars explode nearby as the council members demand answers for the disaster outside.
“WHAT WAS THE MEANING OF ALL THIS?”
“Over a thousand dead…”
“Do you have any idea how scared our people are? We are supposed to be a peaceful bunch and your war could be heard all the way from…”
The King slams his fist on the table in front of him as his wolf starts to surface in rage.
“I JUST LOST MY QUEEN!” He booms and the room stills. Everybody knew they were a fated pair. This is not something that is taken lightly, especially as most magical end up taking chosen mates as they grow tired of waiting.
“And for this, we are so sorry, but tell us now King Augustus, what happened. Why don’t you start from the beginning?” The leader of the Elves says softly and the room hums in approval of his suggestion. The King’s wolf eyes scan over the crowd and when he sees the determination and attention of each member, her finally settles and allows himself to retreat. With a sigh, the King sits back and the energy around him shifts. How does he tell the people of the land the truth? How does he look into the eyes of so many nobles, other royalty, and friends and explain how his Queen and mate changed so drastically from the woman they all knew and loved?
“I started noticing a change in the Queen after the birth of our son. It started with small outbursts behind closed doors, but they started to become more frequent. A few times her magic would snap, or her wolf would shift and go on meaningless hunting sprees. She almost hurt me and our child a few times with her little tantrums. Her lead maiden, Orphelia, came out of Ria's rooms sometimes covered in bruising.” The King says and every mouth starts to drop slightly. This news is shocking for every person in the room, as Queen Ria was always a loved, gentle and kind soul who would never harm anyone. The King picks up on this energy and a tear falls down his face. How wrong they all have been about his Queen. His heart constricts as the painful truth washes over him and the faces of the council. All of their eyes searched the King, their minds running wild as they tried to comprehend what he was saying.
“One night I even caught her performing spells on Ares to try force magic into him.” Gasps are heard across the room.
“Are you saying that Queen Ria was trying to enchant the Prince, her own son?” The Queen of Witches asks and the King of the Weres nods with dread.
"She always wished he had the hybrid mutation as she did. I think she was trying to find a way to enforce it into him." The King admits slowly and the pain of his memories becomes too much as his wolf whimpers in his head.
“I tried speaking to her, but it was as though she was becoming more and more lost to her magical selves. Even her wolf was becoming rougher. I am an alpha and I started battling to keep up with her outbursts and demands.” The King says and everyone blushes. He clears his throat.
“It wasn’t until I found her journal that I understood what was going on. The woman we all came to know and love was being sucked into a type of dark void within her hybrid self. Her wolf and witch were fighting, having a power battle, and were becoming at odds with one another. Her outbursts were taking control as she started to lose touch of reality and I found her leaving the house often to start trouble in the forests or gardens.” The King admits. Everyone can hardly believe their ears. He can sense the disbelief in their expressions and so can beta Frederick. They share a quick look. Beta Frederick has a mate and baby of his own, so he understands the sensitive state that the King must be in.
“It is true. I was on a run one evening and found Queen Ria breaking down trees in the forest. When I tried to confront her, she shifted into her wolf and almost attacked me. It was as though she didn't even know who I am.” Beta Frederick says. There is a tense stillness that fills the meeting room.
“King August, this journal, can we see it?”
“Here it is. See for yourself!” The King booms and throws it down onto the center table. Everybody looks to the small, brown, leather book, and their eyes widen at the magic dripping from its sturdy spine. They can smell Queen Ria's scent coming from every page. They can feel her uneasy and screaming emotions.
“QUEEN RIA WAS NOT AS SHE SEEMED. SHE HAD YOU ALL FOOLED AND ME ALONG WITH THE REST! IT WAS HER MAGIC AND HER WOLF THAT STARTED THIS MESS. IT WAS HER HYBRID BEING THAT BECAME AT ODDS AND DESTROYED EVERYTHING IN THIS LAND. ALL THOSE PEOPLE, ALL THOSE HOMES AND CHILDREN WHO ARE NOW ORPHANED. IT WAS QUEEN RIA!” The head noble of the fae booms as his fingers swiftly page through the journal. He was a dear friend to the Were Queen, but it would seem his friendship was riddled with secrets on Queen Ria’s part. He curses and his eyes widen as every word rings loud and clear. He uses his magic to project every word into the center of the room for everyone to see and the words are written loud and clear. How the Queen was losing control. How the Queen started to hate every part of herself. How the Queen wished to kill every wolf and every witch in an attempt to end her own abilities. How she planted bombs and used magic to kill innocent souls. The King could see how this news was affecting the noble fae, who held their relationship to Queen Ria in high regard. Their green eyes were burning with sadness at the loss of a dear friend, but also at the news that she wasn't the person they thought she was.
“She was an abomination to our realm!” gasps can be heard all over the room.
“What are we going to do?”
“We cannot allow this to ever happen again.”
The King of the Weres clears his throat and quickly grabs the journal. Even though the Queen may have been behind all this destruction, he still feels the searing pain of her betrayal and even the hot reality that she was not the woman he fell in love with.
“There is only way we can ensure that this sort of thing NEVER happens again.” The King says softly and his heart beats rapidly as he remembers plunging a dagger into his mate’s throat. He can still smell her fear on his fingertips and he hates it. The air in the room is so tense that a blade could slice it. His eyes turn to land on each person’s face. They all hold the same concern. They all want safety for the realm.
“We need to kill every hybrid. They need to be found and ended. Every soul in these lands must know what destruction they can bring and fear must be raised in their hearts. Hybrids have to become a thing of the past.” The King concludes and chaos roars through the room.
"But King Augustus, the hybrid kind is merely a birth defect."
"That would mean stripping mated couples of their offspring!"
"What of every mated couple from different chastes?"
"It is only a genetic mutation, Augustus. There is no way of understanding why this happens and surely not all can be as bad as the Queen?"
"AND WOULD YOU ALL WAIT AROUND TO SEE IF THIS IS THE TRUTH? DO WE JUST PONDER ON THIS AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT HYBRID TO BURN DOWN OUR LANDS AND SLAUGHTER OUR PEOPLE? YOU SAW IT YOURSELF WITH MY MATE. YESTERDAY A QUEEN AND TODAY LOST TO HER MAGICAL SELVES!" The King's voice trembles as he pounds a fist on the table. He understands all of their concerns. The realm is covered with mates from different castes who have become fated or chosen. Usually, at birth, the baby takes on only one of its parent's magical abilities where mixed breeding is concerned. The hybrid mutation is a rare exception to this. There is no explanation as to why it happens. The room erupted into a debate on the matter.
In the end, his suggestion was still the best of the lot. The truth of the situation was lying in the ash between buildings, the cracked glass sprawled across the barren streets, the blown-up homes where families once lives, the smell of burnt wood where a forest once stood, and in drops of blood that spread across the land. Every person who died today needed to be brought to justice. Hybrids had to be ended so that such threats and terror could never happen again.
The leaders of every caste left that day and set out all with a new parchment of paper in their hands. One that signed the fate to any person who has more than one magical ability. They were all to be killed and all schools were to teach the upcoming generations of this day. Orders were shouted across the Zenox as guards lifted their swords and shed the blood of every hybrid. Parents became lost to the pain of losing their children. People looked on with fear, not knowing who or where another Hybrid may be lurking or waiting to attack. After the Queen's whole ordeal, people became scared. Hybrids were vermin and they had no place in this realm. What caused hybrids? Nobody knew. Just ordinary mates could conceive one, but the villages would learn to see them as cursed and many would flee to find peace somewhere else. Hybrids were an unexplained cause. One that became seen as the greatest and most feared curse amongst parents conceiving a child. Those who tried to hide their hybrid children, friends, or family from their inevitable fates became part of the death numbers. Grave sights could be seen stretched across the ashen Zenox and green fires roared as their bodies were disposed of. The air around these gravesites reeked of magic and destruction, but this only spurred on the hatred for the hybrid mutation.
It took months for things to feel normal again, but eventually and over much time, people started to continue their lives. Even the King found a way to warm his heart to his only child and son. The same one who would one day watch over the Kingdom and take his seat as King of the Weres. The lands were rebuilt and slowly, the air felt clean again as people started to smile at life. This is something that came with the comfort of safety. This was something that came with a cold, dark, and lingering truth.
Hybrids were no longer.