It was a regular patrol night. Quiet and cloudless, the only sounds to be heard was his own footsteps gently tapping along the stone and the wind gently rustling the tree branches; a falcon calls in the night.
It was a regular patrol night... Until it wasn’t.
A “We’re under attack!” echoes from the darkness, but the sound doesn’t go far, for the throat it emitted from is slit into silence. However, it did reach one guard’s ears. Said guard rushes to the lookout to light the fire. Several grappling hooks appeared near the ladder and the guard’s heart begins pumping rapidly faster.
I’m going to die, he thinks. Nonetheless, he runs past the hooks, hoping he won’t be caught by whoever is utilizing them. The hooks tighten as the climbers near the top. The guard reaches the ladder and climbs hastily, slipping and struggling from the anxiety. He hears a malicious grunt and a sword unsheathing behind him, right before he feels a searing pain in his right calf. He cries out in pain, his first battle wound he thinks childishly, and pushes on. By sheer will power (but mostly upper body strength) he reaches the top and grabs for the torch, trying to ignore the intense throb of his right leg.
As he turns around to light the signal, he is met by a large figure with terrifyingly bright yellow eyes. He can't see this man’s face, but the scent radiating off him is clearer than day. He is an alpha, a strong and very powerful one at that, but there is something off; something foreign laced with his scent.
“Huns,” the guard breathes out in fear. The Huns are a tribe of sorts that live to the north of China; however, they are—were, not thought of as a major threat. Because they were formed by solidary alphas accidentally coming together, they are completely savage. They constantly fight for dominance over the tribe, mauling each other for leadership. It is in the alpha’s nature, which is why they were never considered as an enemy. It’s clear now that this alpha, whatever, whoever he is, was able to gain control over the savage tribe. And their numbers grew.
The guard quickly throws the torch into the signal, the alcohol quickly igniting. Another look-out in the distance lights its signal as well, and a wave of false hope washed over the guard.
“Now all of China knows you’re here,” the guard says, mustering up every bit of courage behind it. The throbbing of his right leg is unbearable now, and he’s finding it difficult to stand his ground.
“Perfect,” the alpha growls in response with a sickening smile, sharp canines on display; shaper than they should be. The guard couldn’t help but stumble back at the voice, falling when his right leg didn’t support his weight. The last thing he sees is a jagged sword inches away from his face, a glimmer of blonde hair, and those horrifying yellow eyes.
“Your Majesty!” a voice booms throughout the throne room as a very anxious and hyperventilating beta runs through it. “We’re under attack, the Huns, they—they broke through our northern border!” the beta falls to his knees at the Empress’s feet. “They killed almost all… all of the guards on top of the wall, they’ve invaded!” The Empress’s eyes widen and the council members next to her audibly gasp and start murmuring how that’s just impossible.
The General enters the room. “It’s true, Empress Reiss,” he says as he bows in front of the Empress. “I will command my legions to set up a defense around your palace immediately.” The Empress shakes her head and holds up her hand.
“No, absolutely not. You will go and defeat the Huns where they stand before they can destroy any more families and villages.” The Empress looks to the councilman on her left. “Send out conscription notices throughout all the providences. Call up as many reserves and new recruits as possible!”
“Forgive me, your excellency,” the General starts as he removes his helmet. “But I believe my troops can stop him.”
“I have no doubt in your troop’s capability, General,” the Empress states. “However, one soldier may be the difference between victory and defeat. If someone can control that raw alpha power and wield it to their will, then I do not want to take any chances.” The General nodded his head in response.
“Do we know who is leading them?” the Empress asks.
“No,” the General says. “We only know that he is an enormously powerful alpha with piercing yellow eyes. A few survivors say he might have blond hair, but other than that, we know nothing of who this alpha is or how he is leading them.” The Empress emits a curt, frustrated sign in response.
“Go then, prepare my armies for battle.”
“Yes, your majesty,” the General bows in departure and puts his helmet back on, turning on his heel and walking out of the throne room.
“Good luck, General Jaeger.”
Livian looks up from the scroll on his bed and copies the notes down onto his pale forearm, careful not to smudge the ink. He is tired, the training leading up to the matchmaker event has exhausted his entire being to the very core.
“An omega is… quiet,” he mumbles. “An omega is also graceful… polite…” He takes a bite from his morning rice. “Delicate, refined… poised…” he takes one last look down at his paper to write down the final note. “… and always on time.” He pauses. His eyes widen. “Shit!” he curses to himself as he rushes out from under his covers.
Livian scrambles to one end of the house to the other, grabbing a bag of chicken feed and a pot of tea on the way. He runs out to the temple, emptying the chicken feed messily onto the ground as he runs. As he reaches the temple, he almost trips on the stairs, nearly spilling the pot of tea onto himself.
“It won’t do any good if you spill my morning medicine,” a teasing voice echoes from the temple as his mom appears with a gentle smile on her face. Her long silvery black hair waves softly in the wind, along with her long morning robes. Even with her walking cane, her stance is very powerful; everything about her radiates “experienced veteran alpha.”
“Sorry mama,” he starts, “I’m a bit pressed for time.”
“I was about to say, aren’t you supposed to be in the village by now?” she says, the teasing smile falling from her lips as she quirks her eyebrow up. Livian shrinks back just a little and grimace.
“I know how important this is,” he bows his head in respect. “I know that it is my duty as an omega to uphold the family honor through marriage,” he looks back up at his mother. “However, I can’t let you go this morning, no matter how important, without your tea.” His mother softens her gaze.
“I know how much you care about me, but you must get going. The matchmaker is not a patient woman, you know!” Livian nods in response, quickly walking up the rest of the steps and handing the teapot to his mother. As he grabs for the teacup, his hand reaches an empty pocket.
“Shi-oot!” he mentally chastises himself for almost cursing out loud in front of his mom. “I forgot your teacup!” which he may not or may have forgotten on purpose. He hurries back into the kitchen and grabs two cups, knowing that with his luck, one will probably break.
“Luna!” Livian shouts at the barn as he quickly dusted off his robes. His horse popped her head over the corral and perked her ears when she saw Livian approaching her. “Hello, pretty girl,” he says to her quietly as he guides her out of her stall, catching his breath. She was already tacked up in her saddle, the grooms knew he was going out with her today. He gently pats her neck as he slides the bridle onto her face.
“We’re late,” he says simply as he hopped up onto her back, with the aid of a large step stool. As he rides out of his family estate and into town, he couldn’t help but start feeling anxiety and doubt crawl into his mind. He’s never felt quite like a true omega. Frankly, he’s never met another ‘male’ omega so he can’t blame this uncertainty on his gender. The female, the proper omegas as they are called, all seem very obedient and keen to do whatever is asked for them. They seem comfortable in their own skin; like they know who they are, what they’re supposed to be, how to get there, and know when it’s going to happen. Livian has never felt any type of certainty that strongly. He wonders, a bit depressingly if he ever will.
“I don’t want to just be like any other omega,” he mumbles to himself, a bit in a haze. He bites his lip as he tries to focus on the road ahead, willing his thoughts to stray away from those dark and deep places where it has no right being.
“But I can’t be myself either.” Livian, shut up. You’ll be fine he tells himself. This meeting with the matchmaker will be okay, how hard can it be to really mess it up? He lets out a breath, grateful for the wind whipping at his cheeks. Livian sighed, knowing that with this life, he may never be happy. But his happiness doesn’t matter in the end, he decides firmly. His family name comes first. If he is the one to fail the family name, then it is he who will pay for eternity. The ancestors would not take kindly to the devastation of the name they worked so hard to build up.
Livian shook his head one last time, willing these thoughts to vanish into nothingness as he enters the village, where his Grandma was waiting. He slowed Luna down as he approached his elder, an apologetic smile masking his inner turmoil.
“Sorry, Grandma,” he says sheepishly as he dismounts Luna and hands her reins to one of Grandma’s “helping hands” as she likes to call them. “I came as quickly as I could… under certain circumstances.”
“Ah Livian, my child, you are just in time,” she laughed and paused. “For a cold bath” she finishes, but with a comedic stoic expression. Livian laughs at the sight, relaxing. His Grandma is always very easy going and understanding.
“Come now,” she waves at him to follow her, and he did so into the salon. “Prepare yourself, Livian.” Before he could ask, one of the woman workers pulled him behind a changing curtain.
“Strip, love,” she said to him as she was already untying the ribbon around his small waist. Livian, though feeling a bit uncomfortable with her presence, followed her lead and started to disrobe. He grimaces at how dusty and dirty he suddenly felt, now having a clearer mindset. He couldn’t suppress a shiver that ran through his body, even though it was moderately warm inside the salon. He hesitates a moment, looking back to see if the woman was still behind him. She raises her eyebrow and tips her chin at him.
“If you were here on time you would have the gift of modesty. We do not currently have such grace. Off it goes.” She waves her hand at him.
“Fair enough,” Livian let the robes pool at his feet, still covering his groin with a piece of the robe from the floor, feeling very subconscious of his now very naked body in front of this woman stranger. She smelled dully of beta, and even though betas were not normally attracted to omegas, he still felt his nerves on edge.
“Come now, enough of this timidity, I’m bonded for heaven’s sake, we all are.” She brushes her hair away from one side of her neck, revealing a bond mark. Livian lets a breath escape his chest, one that he did not know he was clinging on to.
“Into the bath you go.” She pointed to the tub that was filled with sudsy water. Livian nodded. He walked towards the tub with eagerness, one to be thoroughly clean and rid his body of any dirt and grime. However, he failed to account that the water would probably be freezing at this point. As he climbed in, he almost jumped back at its temperature.
“Why is it so cold?” he asked to no one in particular.
“You can handle it!” he hears a raspy voice from none other than his Grandma behind him, as simultaneously hands push at his back and he topples into the cold water. He resurfaces almost immediately, turning to glare at his grandmother.
“Really?” he asks. She simply shrugs innocently.
A different woman from the one in the dressing room approached him and started rubbing the soap into his hair, and it felt so nice that Livian’s retort to his Grandma died in his throat. He must physically restrain himself from making a content sound, pinching his forearm under the water. He looks to his Grandma and she looks from him to another wall. He follows her gaze and sees the dress he is going to be wearing to the match maker’s ceremony. He sighs and leans back against the tub, trying to concentrate on the now rougher movements of the woman washing his hair. The dress was flowy and… pink. He never minded the color, but he didn’t exactly love it either. It has a light, see-through collar with a bright pink torso and long sleeves, with a darker midsection. It also has a red half skirt design with the rest of the dress light pink. It looks like something a 6-year-old girl would wear. He knows he has a shorter stature than most, even by omegan standards, but the dress seems almost impractical with how long every limb was designed.
“Up,” commands the lady behind him. He flushes a little at the words, not realizing he was so lost in thought. As he scrambles out of the cold water, two towels are thrown into his face by his Grandma.
“Dry quickly!” she encourages with a smile. He nods and begins to vigorously run the towel along his limbs, careful to not showcase his crotch, avoiding the ink on his arm as well. After he wraps one towel around his waist, he couldn’t even begin to dry his hair before he is pulled aside by his Grandma towards the changing curtain.
“Sit,” she orders and pushes Livian down by his shoulders. For being shorter than he even is, she is still quite strong. His Grandma and another hairdresser start to fan at and rub his hair with the smaller towel. They go at it for a few minutes before they start to brush it, without care for his scalp.
“Ow,” he mumbles, knowing that they’re rushing because he was late and that it is his own damn fault. They pull and tug at his long hair, ripping out the knots and combing them over and over. Soon, his hair was mostly dry and combed out. The hairdresser starts styling and pulling his hair up into a traditional bun on top of his head, tying it with a red ribbon. His Grandma steps away for a moment as the hairdresser finishes up, and she returns with a small box in her hands.
“This,” she started, opening the lid to reveal a very expensive and antique-looking flower clip. She looks up and Livian could tell her next words would be spoken with sincerity and love. “Has been in the family for over seven generations, it is my pleasure to bestow it upon you, my precious Livian. You truly are one of the most amazing omegas I have ever met.” Livian felt himself blushing at the compliment, for his Grandma was never one to be serious. He bows his head and feels the clip glide into place by the ribbon.
“Thank you, Grandma,” Livian said, an unnatural smile lighting up his features. She pats his cheek lovingly. Then she grabs his hands and stands him up, leading him over to the makeup area.
Deep down, even though he cringed a little from it, he loved the attention he was receiving. Omegas are supposed to be virgin in every aspect of their life until marriage, only to really be comforted by other omegas. However, Livian doesn’t know any other omegas because he is male. Male omegas are supposed to be abominations; mistakes made by nature. Males were supposed to be strong, like alphas and betas. Females were supposed to be the more nurturing and caring ones, like betas and omegas. Very rarely are females’ alphas, but when they are, they must prove their strength. Once they accomplish that, they are looked up to and admired. Whereas when a male is an omega, they are looked down upon and sneered at and very rarely does that change. Livian never feels unloved in his home, simply out of place. He just hasn’t discovered who he is yet.
It’s not his fault he is an omega, nor his parent’s either. The gods and the ancestors are the ones who are believed to assign orientations. Livian only half believes that though.
As he sits down in hopefully the last chair, he doesn’t have the chance to look at himself in the mirror or look at the colors they are about to plaster onto his face before he is told to shut his eyes. He does so and immediately feels brushes along his face. At least whatever they are putting on his skin doesn’t itch or smell. The large brush runs all along the shape of his face and a little down onto his neck. He is given a small break where he almost peaks a look in the mirror, but another brush starts stroking along his eyelids. Simultaneously, a wet tip runs along the outline of his lips and he mentally rolls his eyes; he’s never been one for lipstick. A few minutes go by and slowly the number of brushes on his face declines, leaving only one circling his cheeks.
“Can I open now?” he asks
“Not quite,” his Grandma replies. He then feels a small wet tip run along the base of his eyelid. He is even more anxious to see what his face looks like; he’s never worn eyeliner before.
“Okay, now you can see.”
He opens his eyes and is a little shocked when he sees his reflection. His normally pale face is white, and he doesn’t quite know how to feel about it. He has a very dark shade of eyeshadow on his eyelids, topped off with very thick eyeliner that ends with a winged tip on both eyes. His cheeks are rosy red with a matching lip color, one that he has never seen on anyone. He almost blurts out ‘Really? This is attractive to some people?’ But he doesn’t. These women all worked very hard in a short amount of time to make him presentable and ready for the matchmaker ceremony, so instead he says:
“Wow,” in a very shocked tone, because, well, he is. It seems to appease his Grandma though. She grins and claps her hands together, almost bouncing on her feet.
“Perfect! Now, on that dress goes!” He stood up this time without having anyone guiding him. They’re starting to make him feel like he’s senile and unable to do anything for himself, even though he knows they mean well. He grabs the dress and takes it behind the dressing curtain, hesitating before putting it on. He really doesn’t want to. But he must.
It’s his duty to uphold the family honor.
As he pulls the dress on, he tries to clear his mind of all doubts. But alas, he fails. The women come back to fiddle and fit the dress to him, pulling the midsection ribbon a little too tight and he squeaks. They finish nitpicking at him and send him outside, where his Grandma is waiting.
“Ah, you look so gorgeous!” she exclaims hugs him tight. “Now hurry, here’s your parasol,” she hands him a blue umbrella looking thing; he recognizes it as something the older women use while outside.
“Run along now, follow those girls walking down the street and do what they do, yes?” He nods in response and then turns towards the building, bowing to the ladies at the door.
“Thank you all for your hard work, my family really appreciates it.”
As he hurries to catch up behind the other omegas that are also awaiting their meeting with the matchmaker, he can’t help but feel that this is going to go terribly wrong.