My blood is rushing through my head to the point I have a headache, palms sweaty and adrenaline spiking as I follow the path to the top of the cliff on .Jell-O legs. Walking in behind the others, like me, who are to go through the ceremony at the highest point of the full moon. lm breathless, fighting the nausea and internal shaking of fear, body trembling, as l watch where I step, a little too closely, and almost collide with the girl in front of me. Staggering sideways and kicking stones in my path, accidentally, to avoid her.
“Watch where you are going, reject!” The growl of one of our accompanying mentors hits me in the side of the face with an open palm as he leans in close and shoves me back in line, harshly. Hard enough to send me crashing into the rock face, we are brushing up against and I almost hit the ground with the force, coughing out a whimper of pain. I catch myself, right my body quickly, ignoring the burning pain of grazes, and skip two steps to catch up and get back in line while rubbing my bruised arm and shoulder from the collision. Trying not to look his way, knowing if I do, he will probably smack me in the face for showing zero respect to a superior.
He's called Raymond, and he's around twenty-four. One of the Alphas main pack leaders of the subs, one of the Santos, and he hates anything to do with us. Another superior wolf from a pure bloodline who sees us as an inconvenience and unworthy to breathe his air.
This is the reality of my life and how little value I have in this hierarchy. Reject is the name for all of us, like we don't have separate identities anymore and I can't wait to be free of these people and this life.
“Halt!”" A booming low and gravelly voice ahead of us stops us all in our tracks as we come to the level top of the cliff known as “shadow rock.. It's more of a large plateau than a rock but the sun never seems to lay its light and warmth in this nook of the mountain and yet it gives us a direct and uninterrupted view of the moon every night. It's been the point of this ceremony for hundreds of years and we're finally here.
I pull myself past the girl in front of me and come to her side to gaze at the familiar scene before us. Stomach churning up with the knowledge it's happening. The ceremonial set up of flares and burning fires at points near the ledge, are already there and glowing bright, all the way around the curve of this large platform. Creating a red and amber glow that illuminates the space in what will soon be wall to wall darkness of this still night. The center of the clearing is marked out with symbols in chalk and a large set of circles surround them, one for each of those who are to awaken. I shudder inside as reality hits home that this is really it and I have nowhere to hide. You can't outrun it, there's no way to stop it from happening.
“Clothes off here and put these on” scratchy grey blankets are thrust into our arms by a tall muscular Santo, looking down at us with almost black eyes as he snarls his contempt. Probably annoyed that they even allow my kind to go through this like everyone else does. Walking past as he dishes them out and Ì am aware that many have gathered around the ledges, and above us on the edges of the cliffs above to watch this.
All the packs are here already, and right in the middle stands Juan Santo and his immediates. His second in command, his third, and his son, Colton. The ceremonial Shaman in full dress ¡is standing with his staff awaiting the start of his duties. Something he could do with his eyes closed l expect, as he has been here for so many years.