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               Will ignored their insults and abuse. He even ignored how they tore the clothes from his body and smeared the fresh blood over his skin. He just closed his eyes and tuned them out, allowing their voices to become muffled, distant, and then vanish from his mind. He forgot about his pain, the way his skin stung when it came in contact with the cold air and slick leaves on the ground, and how the ropes that bound his arms behind his back were unnecessarily tight and straining. He forced his mind to focus on anything else. The smell of the crisp night air, the way the torches they carried flickered light across his closed eyes, and the feeling of being lifted, pushed, and moved.

               He was jarred out of his thoughts as he was pushed down onto a stone slab, the Alter, just outside the town and on the outskirts of the forest. He groaned at the agony his body was feeling as he forced himself up into a sitting position. His face was roughly grabbed and made to turn and look upward. The man, who not just a few hours ago had been his alpha, sneered down at him. “This is what you deserve.” He hissed loud enough for the crowd of people behind him to cheer and call out in agreement. “You have disrespected me for the last time, and to take out your revenge on our child…” He fell silent for a moment as the crowd behind him was overcome with yells. “I hope the Windigo eats you alive and leaves your ruined corpse here on the Alter for the ravens to pick at.”

               Will’s head was shoved away and the crowd turned to leave. Their footsteps making crunching sounds as their feet trampled the autumn leaves that littered the forest ground. Will watched them go, down the hill and back to the glowing lights of the town nestled in the valley.

He knew he should feel sadness, or even terror at being left as the winter solstice sacrifice, but he wasn’t. In fact, he felt liberated. How many times had he curled up and thought that death could only be better than the life he was living. A sense of calm over took him as the moon overhead shone brighter as it passed through the sky. He waited, slowly growing colder until the only thing he could feel was his own heart beating in his chest. Despite his resolve and acceptance of death, it would seem his body had other convictions.

               Late into the night, after the lights of the village had long dimmed, Will felt more then heard something in the forest. He turned his head and looked toward the black shadowed vastness of the trees. He could not see anything, nor could his white deer ears detect any sound, though they had long ago grown numb from the cold. All the same, he knew he was not alone in the calm and quiet night any longer.

               He stared motionless as he waited. His breaths came in puffs of white the blood that he had been covered in shone black and almost iridescent in the moonlight. After what seemed like an eternity something in the shadows shifted, moving with what seemed like an immense weight. As it emerged from the woods Will noted how the creature still did not make a sound. The leaves neither crunched nor rustled as its four legs carried it into the open. The moonlight shone across its black furred body and the antlers that donned its head were enormous. Will pursed his lips as the creature came to stand a few feet from him. Will frowned slightly. It was an elk? Elk usually stayed more toward the peak of the mountain. Why would there be one all the way down here in the valley?

               Will then noticed the odd almost feathered like appearance of the animals coat, specifically around the neck and hind quarters. His eyes then snapped to gaze into the animals own soulless black orbs.

               He inclined his head then turned and laid down on the Alter, not taking his eyes from the creature’s. “You’re not an elk, and since you are going to kill me I ask that you do it quickly.”

               The elk released a breath, which evaporated in the night air like a cloud. The animal studied Will a moment longer before it released a cry as he hunched down to the ground. Its body rippled and Will could hear bones breaking, bending, and cracking. He watched the animal morph slowly and terrifyingly into the silhouette of a black skinned man. The enormous horns on the top of his head remained. The sight of it, of something so completely unnatural, should have terrified him. Will was overcome with a sensation and realization that all the sacrifices who had lain here before him had screamed, begged, even cried, and yet Will did not. He was not afraid, he was mesmerized.

               The man walked forward, his feet shifting the leaves. He came to stand and then loom over Will, smelling him. Will could do nothing with his hands tied behind his back so he only tilted his head up, exposing his neck for a clean and easy death. His heart was hammering; the echo of it reverberated in his ears. He heard the creature growl and felt breathe against his neck. He closed his eyes, expecting a sharp pain and then nothing. Instead his head was grabbed by his short soft curled and then smacked against the Alter, leaving him unconscious.

               Will periodically drifted in and out of consciousness. He recalled a moment where he was being carried. He could tell by the feeling of weightlessness and the gentle rocking back and forth of his body. Then there was another time where he recalled seeing a light in the distance, blurry and obscured. Another moment he had sworn he had been awakened and been forced to drink something that had burned down his throat, but he had drifted back into sleep soon after that. He could not be sure however, if these moments were real or just more hallucinations that his mind had thought up.

               When he finally did awaken, at least enough so to be aware of his surroundings, his mind was foggy and clouded. He felt drunk, for lack of a better term, and curiously warm and wet. He groaned as he opened his eyes and turned his head. He was in a bathtub of steaming water and there was someone scrubbing him with careful sure strokes. He blinked, trying to clear his blurry vision but couldn’t. His sense of touch was the only one he was sure was correctly unhindered, and it felt wonderful. The gentle slide of the cloth down his skin cleaned him of the sticky and rancid smelling blood.

               Will took a breath, smelling the perfumed waters. Vanilla, if he was not mistaken. It was such a gentle and calming scent. He turned his face to try and get a look at the person cleaning him. Even with his obscured vision he could tell he was a man, both tall and well built. He tried to make out his face but the hand with the rag then moved to start cleaning the back of his neck and shoulders. Will closed his eyes and moaned into the touch.

               “Who are you?” He managed to say weekly.

               “I am not a threat to you, if that is what you wish to know.” Replied a voice that was accented, calm, and gave the impression of a man with absolute control.

               Will breathed in the vanilla scent once more but his nose caught the tangy smell of something else. Will turned his head, sniffing again. The smell was hidden, yet it slunk through the air like an elusive wisp of smoke. Will moved to follow it and found himself climbing slightly out of the water as he nearly pressed his nose against his bather’s neck. Unaware of their closeness or his actions Will breathed in the scent, taking it deep into his lungs. “You smell,” Will released a breath “good.”

               “Do I?” The man said as he guided Will back into the tub. Will made no protest and went willingly. The rag began to massage as it cleaned him once more. “What do I smell like?”

               Will shook his head sluggishly “I don’t know, just good.”

There was a long pause and then another question “Have you ever smelled anything like me before?” Will shook his head, no. “I find that heard to believe.”

Will shook his head again “Not lying. Don’t like to lie.”

That earned him an almost amused chuckle “That is good to hear.” The cloth stroked down Will’s spine “Where is your alpha?”

A pained sound escaped Will and he said in an almost guttural hiss “Don’t have one.” Another pause and the rag stopped. An almost whimper emanated from him as he elaborated “Doesn’t want me. He got rid of me. That’s why I was the sacrifice.”

“Why would you’re alpha willingly cast you aside?”

A noise akin to a hurt or wounded animal came from Will as he shivered “Not good.” He whispered, sounding like a terrified child “I’m a… bad omega.” The rag resumed and Will visibly relaxed. He was pushed back and encouraged to fall back asleep. The man’s voice was lulling as Will seemed to hang to every word.

“I believe you, but you are wrong in your assumptions that you are somehow bad.”

Will smirked as he closed his eyes, slowly drifting back into unconsciousness “You’ll see.”

“Yes, I believe I will.”