The letters sneak behind her eyelids quietly but whisper loud enough to alert her of the wolves on the prowl.
“Gamma, rho, beta, alpha,” she breathes as a wolf stalks into her vision which each letter she names. Their eyes glow before one letter slithers into view near her left hand. Psi. The symbol slides into place, settling on her wrist. She jumps and tries to remember the words of her father, the hero, Jean Chastel, the one they called Argent. They are not like us. They are monsters, beasts, abominations. They cannot continue, and it is our duty to end their stories so that Gevaudan does not happen again.
She exhales, rises to her feet, and nocks a silver arrow in her bow. The gamma rises to its feet and shifts, fur leaving his body. He sniffs the air before moving towards her. Her hands began to tremble fiercely. Try as she might stay them, nothing can stop her shaking.
“Young one,” the young man says, his French rough, “Why do you bleed so?”
She gasps, the edges of her vision going blurry and the arrow falling from her bow to the ground, useless.
“Do not come closer,” she says, collapsing on her knees, attempting to staunch the nearly forgotten wound on her side. She nearly screams--her blood (or, what little remains of it) boils with some sort of feral ire that claws at her insides. “I am Arya, daughter of Argent.”
The man slowly descends to meet her, his hands emitting a strange light.
“Daughter of Argent,” he says, softly as the leaves rustling in the darkened woods, “Your wounds are deep, and the poison deeper still.”
Arya’s arm legs start to twitch and she begins to convulse in pain.
“It is the magic I have found!” she howls, writhing. “It is the magic that has removed the silver in my blood, that has cut me off from my family.”
“It is the magic that can save you,” the man murmurs, laying his hands gently on her side. “I am Grigory, son of Gamma and Phi.” The pain starts to lift, but her wound continues to bleed. Grigory’s hands continue to pulse with an otherworldly light.
“Arya, child, the magic you speak of,” another voice says, deeper, darker, and more authoritative. “You must use it.”
Arya closes her eyes and tries to reach for the beast inside her. It rears its head before meeting her straight on. Her right hand begins to pulse with a dull gray light as the first wave of pain rushes to her temples. Grigory brings her hand to rest over his own. Arya feels the bleeding stop, her wound reknitting itself. The fire in her veins no longer torments her. She looks up in amazement, the mortal wound gone. Her body sings, vibrantly alive.
“I owe you my life,” she says to Grigory, nodding at the alpha. “How can I repay this debt?”
The alpha looks at her, red eyes stoic.
“You can leave your past behind, Arya, and join us.”
Arya feels her heart drop.
“That is a price I cannot pay,” she says, rising to her feet.
“To whom will you return?” another voice says—this time female. The beta steps forward. “Your family has disowned you for becoming who you are.”
The woman’s words sting, and Arya stares hard at the ground. She catches another letter floating in her vision, near her right hand. Chi.
“I shall give you a choice, Arya,” the alpha repeats. “You may run with us as both a healer and a fighter, or I shall put you out of your solitary misery.”
Arya makes her choice. This time, it’s much easier.
“I am Arya, she who runs with the wolves,” she says, clasping her hand to her breast. “Silverbane.”
The werewolves howl into the night: sure, confident, and strong.