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Dark Nights

Chapter Text

    It was strange walking in through the front gates - specially after being dragged out of the smelly pub of Riverside Village by armed men. Usually he'd be breaking in to a place like this (and he'd not be this drunk).

    This castle, though, he'd never even think about breaking in and maybe smuggling some silverware to sell. It was common knowledge that no one in their right minds would dare to try raiding it; a pointless move that would be (unless you had a big fucking army or something like a dragon).

    Thousands of years prior, while it was being built, the seven-towered castle had only one purpose: protect its inhabitants - and protect them it did. Outsider packs and rogues have tried to challenge the legendary walls and its guards, though. And when Harry heard about the invasion attempts, while sitting in a fetid pub, he came up with three possible reasons: they were insane indeed; two, they were stupid Dulls  and were bitter about it; or three, they wanted to hurt the Family.

   The Family – also known as First Wolves – was the beginning of the wolves’s kin, the firsts to ever have wolves and power within them. The primary leader and firstborn was named as Alpha, his sibling and partner as Omega and their other relatives as Betas, seeing that their real names were long forgotten. As the generations went by, the Family lived in that castle,  the Castell o'r Elfennau, protected within its walls and untouchable. The purest of all wolves beings, connected to their inner part to the fullest. Some people believed that just by being in the mere presence of them one would get blessed. Their powers were magnificent, too - healing, conjuring illusions and so many others.

    “I guess I’ll find out very soon”, thought the wolf as he was being escorted by a sentinel through the interminable walkway.

    Several guards stood in formation on both sides of the narrow way up through the almost mountain-like hill, their helmet-covered eyes following Harry’s every (drunk-like) movement as he slowly walked. The person at his front (he couldn’t tell their gender since they were scentless) guided him on the long way up to the massive gates. 

    "May I know why I am being taken?" he asked to the closest scentless guard. Maybe if he was polite they would be more willing to help him.

    "No. Keep walking." Answered the one on the front.

    Politeness would not help Harry, it seemed. He wouldn't attempt rudeness, tough. He liked his head where it was.

    When they passed the narrow drawbridge and got to the gateway, metal bars gritted loudly as the portcullis was lifted. His nostrils burned with the putrid smell coming from the moat below. He could jump on it, it wasn't that deep of a dive. He was to scared to try.

The guardsmen on top of the Barbican had bows in their hands, ready to shoot an arrow at Harry’s heart if he made the wrong move. Several spikes projected themselves from the top of the stonewall, and stuck in them, chopped heads at different levels of decomposition stared at the way from where the group came. One still had blood dripping drom it, fresh; a puddle forming on the ground.

    Yeah. Definitely no rudeness from him.

    Ensuing the opening of the gate, the first thing Styles noticed was the Keep in the western wall. It was gigantic, casting its shadow all the way long to where he was standing as the sun went down on its back. The next thing the wolf noticed were the sounds - or the lack of them. Everything was so... quiet. Not in a peaceful way. It felt like the whole place was holding its breath, knowing something was going to happen that night. It made his insides turn and his hands start slightly shaking.

    “Maybe this is where I’m going to die.”

    The thought was enough to sober him up.

    A hand on his shoulder pushed him forward the stoned way cutting through the west courtyard. The stables were at his right and, fifty feets ahead, the store house was at his left. Smaller buildings were scattered around the courtyard, but Harry didn’t know what they were for. One structure caught Harry's attention for a moment longer: a wooden platform. On the middle of it, a log and what seemed to be a axe rested. A metallic scent reached him as they got closer. This is where the head came from, Harry concluded.

    As the group of guards and wolf advanced, they passed by several workers, whose eyes sticked to Styles’s front and the markings on his chest, exposed by his ragged shirt. But as soon as they saw it, they'd lower their eyes and continue whatever they were doing before.

    All the staring made him uneasy. Maybe they didn't like tattoos every much.

   The moment they passed the inner wall, which was likely to be separating the workers’s lands of the noble ones, the curly haired wolf saw the kitchen standing at his right and some sort of temple to his left. A child, with white marking all over her body, played with a doll at the steps. She was alone. The weird-looking construction was shaped as a semicircle, its walls were covered in silver intricate lines - or drawings, he was too far to know for sure - and the light wooden doors were closed. The entrance of the Keep, however, had its doors wide open but heavily guarded. When they reached it, the guards moved to the sides and the way was cleared.

     Styles was sure, at that point, the guards could smell his fear, coming off of him in big waves. He didn't know how to stop it, though. To be fair, he was far more invested in finding a way of his head to not be separated from his torso. He should've jumped on that moat when he had the chance.

    The entrance hall, to Harry’s surprise, wasn’t luxurious at all. The floor was made of wooden planks and the walls of big stone blocks, retangular slits served as threadlike windows. Candles were lit in simple copper chandeliers along the walls due to the dusk light not being enough to illuminate the room. Simple tapestry also covered the walls with plain patterns and weak colours. There was also an archway a few feet to his left, which led to a long hallway. The men pushed him to that path.

    Several closed doors were to one of his sides and an inner garden or courtyard was left inhabited on the other. At the end of the corridor, making a turn to the right, another archway led to a much bigger and pompous room than the last: the throne room. 

    The ground was made of white marble and the walls were covered by huge standards with three phases of the moon drawn in them. The throne itself, resting on the opposite side at an elevated platform, reflected the fire from torches and candles beautifully on its silvery surface. Little moonstones adorned the metal and seemed to glow ethereally in the nightfall. It was empty.

    Although their kind did not have a crowned king or queen who ruled over them all in centuries - the independent clans and packs made sure of that on the War of the Folks - they did have something similar. The wolf with the strongest power among the Family sat on the throne and was adored by their kin, but did not have any real control over them - influenced them, at best. Usually, it was one the Dark Children - the Family was particularly blessed with a lot of them as offspring. Styles didn’t know who was the chosen one of the generation. He wasn't interested, to be honest. The Fire Clan - his clan - was a bit recluse. And liked to stay that way.

    “Oh, you arrived!” said a woman in a long dress. She and a few others came from a stair case at his left, which probably led to the galleries above the room. Her braided dark hair shined as she passed the torches. “Thank you, sir, for bringing him here. You may go back to your stations.”

    Only after several bows, the guardsmen left, leaving them alone.