Nine

Purpose



‘Casper stay with the pack.’



The command of the Alpha echoed in Casper’s head as he had begun drifting from the side of the pack formation. Casper’s ears twitched but he slowly regained formation. He hated that his instincts forced him to follow the command. The wolf in him wouldn’t let him disobey a command from his better.
He should be dead. He should’ve died in her place.
Nala.



His mate; his perfect, beautiful mate.
His heart ached with hollowness. She was gone and he was missing that half of himself. He couldn’t function. He simply couldn’t take it. He had lost everything that day. Absolutely. Everything.



His home.



His friends.



His family.



His mate.



He was sure he would never be whole again.
He slowed to a stop from the run, his nose digging into the dirt below him with a whine. Everything ached and he just wanted to lay down and die. There was nothing left for him here, yet his Alpha commanded he stay.



Casper was growing more resilient to the commands. He could see the writing on the wall - he could feel it in his blood. He was going rogue.
He was going feral.



His Alpha already knew this and perhaps it was the sentimentality of being friends since birth that kept him from bringing down the hatchet. Casper needed something to keep him from losing himself, yet in his mind he was already long gone.
The scouting pack had circled around for him, the Alpha’s gaze glowed in the night. Yet Dagan was patient and his body language reflected that.



Casper had moved to get up and follow the pack once again as they carried on when the westward breeze brushed through the woods from the ocean. Casper stiffened at the change, his nose catching a stray scent that was new - that didn’t belong. His head turned towards it, wanting a better sample to examine.
The rest of the pack caught the scent too and all ignored it minus Dagan, who growled a warning at Casper. ‘Don’t.’



Yet it was too late, Casper had caught the scent again - this time with a trail. His feet tore into the ground following it. Perhaps he had finally gone feral after all, yet there was something inside him that pulled him forward.
It was almost like he could hear Nala’s voice calling to him, asking him to come. Would he meet his end following this unfamiliar scent?



‘Casper! Don’t!’
It was a distant command that his mind had shut out completely.
‘Casper! CASPER!’



Casper’s paws broke through the line of trees and into the open - not a place for a wolf, and especially not a place for a Werewolf.



The beach was rocky as clouds loomed overhead, droplets of rain threatening to hit and lightning on the horizon.
Casper’s ears twitched, picking up a soft sound that was hidden beneath the crashing of water and rock.



It was crying - a child was crying.
She was drenched and her clothes were in tatters around her as she weakly crawled out from the waves. The scent was stronger now - her scent, and he could smell it even stronger with a metallic undertone that screamed ‘blood’ in his senses. She couldn’t have been 5 or 6 years old and she was bleeding as she cried and crawled up onto the beach.



Casper approached silently, treading lightly as the beach of gravel and sand shifted beneath his paws.
The little girl’s arms trembled before they gave out and she collapsed down onto the rocky shore, her forearms taking the beating as she landed. It was then her eyes moved upward, spotting his form and he stilled.
He figured she might scream seeing a wolf that was nearly twice the size of a normal wolf, yet she didn’t. Her shoulders still shook as she cried silent tears that disappeared into the other drops of seawater on her face.



She lowered her gaze to the shore with the same look of resignation on her face that he felt aching inside him.
It was then that Casper realized there was no going back. Nala had brought him here. This little girl needed him.
He broke the cardinal rule of any and all packs.
He transformed in front of a non-pack member while not at war.



He had found his purpose and his life would never be the same.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

“P-Pup? Is that you?” Casper’s voice went from partially asleep to suddenly awake. Esmerelda hadn’t realized how much she had missed his voice.



She licked her lips anxiously before nodding, as if he could see her through the phone. She swallowed hard and tried to find her voice. “I-It’s me, Papi.”
There was rustling before a hasty response. “I’m so… so glad you called, Ezzie.”



Esmerelda knew he meant it, and it stung too. “Is now a bad time?” She knew this dance. She asked every time she called and it always was a bad time, but he never answered with ‘yes.’
“Of course not, sweetheart. I’ve always got time to talk to you.” It was exactly what she needed to hear. She knew he was probably lying about it being a good time, but it was comforting all the same when she let herself believe it. “Did you make it someplace safe?”



She looked around hesitantly from where she sat and bit her cheek. Nowhere was safe. “Yeah, I did. I’m sorry it took so long to call.”
“Don’t be, Ezzie; I’m just glad you did.” There was some more shuffling in the background before Casper spoke again. “I’m glad you got the phone ok; it was like pulling teeth to get Mel to say anything when she got back from her trip. She and Eric-”



“Broke up?” Esmerelda nodded, the upset from a moment ago fading as she slid into playing ‘catch up.’
“Yeah, you knew?”
“I helped her make that decision. Is the pack ok with it?” Esmerelda tugged on the hem of her dress, moving to sit forward slightly.



She could hear Casper sigh into the phone. “They’ve not been the most accepting of it - at least not at first.” He paused and there was more rustling. “I think they’re hoping if they put enough pressure on her she’ll change her mind and agree to marry Eric again.”



Esmerelda bit her cheeks, it was one thing she had hated about pack life. It was all close-knit and lovey-dovey until you did something the pack didn’t agree with - then there was hell to pay. Werewolves in general were just that way, Esmerelda had discovered; they were very set in their ways and old-fashioned to boot. “Is she doing ok?”
“She’s just fine - keeping her ground and flipping a coin.” Casper chuckled deeply into the phone. “That’s how I know she’d been to see you.”



Esmerelda smiled, sniffling slightly. “She knew what she wanted, I just helped her see it a little clearer.”
“That’s my girl.” He chuckled. “I think the pack is starting to come around to her side - Eric blew up rather dramatically and lost a lot of favor from most - well, most minus Nan.”
Esmerelda rolled her eyes at the memory of that woman - she was stubborn and it was her way or the highway. She had a lot of sway in the pack, despite not being in power anymore. Werewolf packs followed wolf hierarchy. There was an Alpha and Beta of each pack - as well as several other ranks Esmerelda failed to pay attention to during lessons - all the way down to the Omega, the runt of the pack. The Alpha and Beta were the ones that kept the pack in line along with their mates who had equal personalities and power. They did this until they either died or retired - and Esmerelda knew they seldom retired. Too stubborn for that.



Nan, or so everyone called her, was the current Alpha’s mother. Once, before the current Alpha had stepped up, she had run the pack alongside her husband as an Alpha. Despite ‘stepping down’ from her position as the Alpha’s mate, she still functioned much like the Alpha in the pack, making her son’s wife rather uncomfortable, as Nan was best known for doing.



She was also best known for making Esmerelda eat soap when Esmerelda would cuss out the kids who would tease her.
“Leave it to Nan.” Esmerelda said as she rolled her eyes. “She always has to have the last word in everything… but give it a week and Eric and Mellie splitting will be all her idea.”
Casper laughed a little louder at that. “I give it until tomorrow before the ‘I told you so’s start coming out.” There was a slight pause. “How are you doing, Pup?”



Things were more serious then and she could feel the emotions she had been suppressing knocking at her. She tried to keep pushing them down. “I’ve… I’ve… been…” Her eyes burned as she swallowed. She wanted to curse herself because she had already revealed her hand. “I miss you, Papi.”
She should’ve left it at that, but she couldn’t. Casper knew she couldn’t either and there was a patience as he waited for her to continue.



“I’m so tired of running, Papi… I’m just so… so tired. I’m tired of having to give things up or… or have to pass up on moments that other people get to have… things other people get to have… moments I can’t…”
“Did something happen, Ezzie?” His voice was gentle.
Did something happen? One could say that. “I… I met someone.”
“Not Quinn”



She heaved a sigh as she leaned forward onto her knees. “More than once - and you don’t even understand Papi I shouldn’t have even run into him again. I was crossing towns! I think he’s got magic - no I know he does… but he’s different, you know? And I…” She let out a breath. “It was just a reminder of all the things I can’t have.”
“What makes you say you can’t have them, Pup?”



Esmerelda’s tone became harsher. “You know why, Papi. I can’t start anything - I barely even know where I’m going next let alone plan to meet someone… let alone date someone.”
There was muttering as Casper shifted the phone. “Well you said you’ve met this guy more than once, right? How did that happen?”



Esmerelda immediately smiled as she thought about it. “I met him once in Bridgeport on a night out. He was charming and fun. I didn’t even sleep with him the first night I met him.”
Casper coughed and groaned slightly. “I… see?”
She carried on without second thought. “It was… the funnest night I’d had in ages. I moved on to Midnight Hollow later and ran into him again. He knows I’m a drifter and he didn’t even bat an eye at it. It was so weird, Papi. He left me his number, too.” She stared ahead wistfully. “I know I shouldn’t… It’s… It’s too dangerous for me to… but I...” She let it hang as she said what she really wanted to. “Part of me wants to know where it leads.”



The line was quiet for a second. “Call him.”
“I shouldn’t put him through that-”
“Pup, listen to me.” His voice was warm but firm. “You’ve been given a terrible hand in life - one that not many people can handle or understand. I know that you’re struggling, but if there’s someone out there that knows your struggle and is still willing to stick it out… don’t push them away.”
She felt a tear roll over her cheek and she wiped it away hastily. “Why would anyone want to stick through this hell, Papi?”



There was no hesitation in his answer. “Because you’re worth it, Esmerelda.”

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

There was a chill in the breeze as it glided through the nearly deserted park where Esmerelda walked. The world around her seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for a shoe to drop somewhere. The clouds above her were growing ominous and she could already feel a familiar sinking in her gut.



They’re coming.
She swallowed. She was inland enough. She had lost them way before she had even gotten to Bridgeport and now she was two countries over. This was just a storm coming in, that’s all.
Casper had some old friends that lived here - friends who could possibly give her some supplies, then she could carry on her way through… where though?



She hadn’t thought that far ahead.
She cursed herself for being without a plan, but she had figured she would have more time. Moonlight Falls is cheap and open. The weather is only atrocious 8 months of the year, yet she was in the happy 4 month stretch that she could live off of with enough camping supplies.
Would backtracking be wise?



No. She couldn’t make this decision now. She needed to sit down - somewhere safe and dry - to pull out her map and make a proper plan. She would have no choice but to head south, and southwest was probably favorable.
Anywhere away from the ocean’s edge.
With limited options, Esmerelda spotted the nearby diner and made her way towards it, entering into the quiet business.



There was a family sitting a table and a few lone customers at the bar eating quietly, all of them turned to stare at her upon her entry. Their stares unnerved her - usually people in Moonlight Falls were friendly, welcoming people. Today it felt like a completely different lot. Esmerelda stood awkwardly in the doorway until being told to seat herself, to which she happily grabbed a corner booth away from the prying eyes of the other patrons.



None of this was helping her feel more at ease from the bad feeling she had in her gut. Esmerelda paged through the menu, happily finding the prices to be reasonable.
Expensive for her, but reasonable. Unfortunately expenses kept popping up for her.
She reached down and felt for the bills in her shoe, fortunately, her Papi had been looking out for her as he always does.



A waitress came by, giving her a glass of water along with a sideways glance.
Esmerelda had eyed up the cheapest salad on the menu and ordered it. With the menu gone she would be able to pull out her map and start planning.
She could also pull out her phone and perhaps see if she heard from “Not Quinn” as she had put everything away to make it this far.
He really did make it easy to forget what she was doing.


She bit back a smile and checked over her shoulders.


Esmerelda snorted slightly, moving to cover her mouth as she laughed. People turned to stare at her and she pressed her lips together awkwardly.


Esmerelda smiled, relaxing due to the light-hearted conversation as her salad arrived. She even smiled at the waitress. “Thank you!”



The waitress had already turned around and was walking away when she hummed an “uh-huh” back. Esmerelda’s smile faltered at that and she let herself gaze around at the other patrons who were all staring at her coldly.
Her gut sank and she turned back to her food immediately to pick up her phone.


She glanced around paranoid again when there was a tremor in the earth. Esmerelda sat frozen by the way the water in her cup rippled as she chanced a glance outside. The wind had picked up and on it carried the whining sound of a storm warning.



She wasn’t hungry any longer.
Esmerelda’s gaze was locked on the distance where she could see them approaching.
Sirens. Cursed Sirens coming straight out of the woods.



It was reflex that made Esmerelda stand up from the table. She eyed her things below the table and realized then she would have to leave them behind. She pulled open her violin case and dug into one of the pockets for her shell. The colorful shell was the only thing she absolutely refused to part with. Her good luck charm. Gods knows she needed all the luck in the world right now.



She had to leave.



She had to leave now. She turned around to plan her escape and that was when the bombs started going off.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Quinn stared up at the familiar ceiling of his house with a sigh of relief. It was good to be home. It was all his too. Quinn took great pride in his trinkets and knick-knacks. They were his.



Coming from slavery - from having nothing that was his, not even his own body - made all the items that adorned his house feel all the better.
They were his and no one else’s. His eyes glanced over at his pocket watch on the bedside table next to him.



His first possession.
When his master had released him from that cursed lamp, it was the first thing he saw. Majnun had told him the watch had been left for him by Ma, who said the woman that gave her the lamp had instructed that the watch stay with the lamp.



It was strange, but he hadn’t questioned it. Some kind soul had given his lamp to Ma and that, in turn, lead to his freedom by Majnun.
The watch was also engraved.
Q.F.
You are my freedom.
It was how he had selected his last name, as up until that point he hadn’t had one. Quinn Flanagan. Q.F. He had even done some searching and discovered the maker of it - an old man named Finnis Piper, so he knew the engravings must have been for him. He told himself it was likely just a coincidence, yet he couldn’t bring himself to believe it completely.
His mind jumped at the sound of his phone going off and he reached for it immediately.


Quinn found his brow furrowing, people in Moonlight Falls acting rude? That was unusual. It was the one place no one seemed to bat an eye at Quinn for being a halfling - not that he was ever out of a disguise that frequently. Must be an off day for them?


Two messages followed back to back.


Quinn heard the sound of someone teleporting into his house and he groaned. None of the traps triggered in his house so he knew it was one of the master’s children. He figured it wouldn’t be long before he was discovered, yet instead of getting up to go meet his guest he remained right where he was.



“Agh, laminya!”
Suddenly it was very apparent who was climbing up his steps and tripping his newest trap he hadn’t remembered to warn the kids about. His house was considered a safe haven due to the rather ridiculous amount of alarms and traps he had collected and set up over several interesting missions.
He was too fond of his house and his things to risk them possibly being screwed with - and he couldn’t even count the number of people who would take great pleasure in doing so.



“QUINN!” Mania cursed as she finished climbing the stairs. “You had to get a new trap? Like the first twenty weren’t enough for you?!” She stomped into his room from down the hallway, crossing her arms as she did so.
Quinn smirked at her, feeling his phone going off in his hand and he immediately turned back to it.


So Esmerelda was a cinephile? The thought made him smile. “I figured one of you would find it, though I’ll be honest and say I was hoping it would be Liro.”


Mania smirked at him as she dusted her dress off. “Well I certainly don’t plan to tell him about it, just make sure you get it on camera.”
Normally Quinn would’ve taken that moment to show off how quickly he could whip out his camera to snap an unseemly picture yet his mind was preoccupied. He sat up in bed and set his phone to the side. “I’m sure even if I miss it on camera you’ll hear his reactions all the way in the Madhouse - maybe for days.”



Mania giggled, her eyes rolling slightly as she expressed a very fond “yeah.”
Quinn shook his head. “How’d your mission with Sheo go?”
She straightened and tried to gather her composure. “It went just fine, thank you.”



He smirked in response to the change in her demeanor. There was a running bet for how long it would take before Sheogorath and Mania finally became a couple.
Quinn estimated about a year, but he soon found out he was likely lowballing it, as Mania had already been there for four months. “Did you guys kiss yet?” He almost didn’t have the heart to give her shit today, so the question was fairly mild as far as things went.



Mania responded immediately by clenching her fists and scowling. “Laminya!” She cursed him crossing her arms once again with a pout on her lips. “Two can play at that game, you know? I know you’ve been texting that girl - the Nightingale I predicted.” She stuck her tongue out, pleased with herself. “Seems like somebody’s in love!”



Quinn shrugged. “She’s a good fuck.” He bluffed. Deep down he knew there was more to it than that. More to her than that.
Mania let out a loud laugh. “Yes, because that’s totally what you’re doing while not screwing her - you know, on your phone, giggling like a fool.”



He flipped her off casually, though speaking of Esmerelda did make him curious about the strange behaviors of the Moonlight Falls population. His eyes drifted towards his phone. “What brings you here, anyways?”
Once again Mania straightened, this time clearing her throat. “I came to officially inform you that Ambar and Calypso have initiated combat and therefore war. The master’s angry about it.”



Quinn rolled his eyes, shrugging nonchalantly. “I say let them bleed each other out. If the master wants to start some bloodshed I’ll happily knock some heads around but this is a girl’s squabble and we’re much better staying out of it.”
She shook her head seriously. “No, that’s the problem. The master wants nothing to do with this petty squabble yet those pathetic laminwa have decided to level all of Moonlight freaking Falls.”
Quinn’s skin prickled, his head turning suddenly to look at Mania. “What?”



“They’ve been moving around the edges of Moonlight Falls recently and it seems they’ve finally selected Maintown as their first bloodbath. Carule went in last week and cleaned up a lot of the local folks with sanity - telling them to get out, though a few diehards likely stuck around.” Mania shook her head and all Quinn could feel was his gut sinking lower into his stomach. “You know, born in this house, die in this house types.” She rolled her eyes before realizing he hadn’t reacted to her joke. “You ok?”
“When did this start?” The words were quick off his lips.



“I actually headed here right after confirmation of the first bombs being set off. I think the master wants everyone on standby incase they infringe on our border.” She shifted in her stance. “What’s going on, Quinn?”
He wasn’t listening though, he had jumped towards his phone and dialed her number.



He had to warn her to get out. He could go to her - she just had to tell him where she was. It felt like an eternity as the phone rang and rang.
Her voicemail picked it up and Quinn’s heart rate increased.


Her last message to him was sent several minutes ago.
Mania was looking at him with nervous energy. “She’s in Moonlight Falls, isn’t she?”
Quinn frantically texted Esmerelda.


“Shit.” Mania breathed.
Quinn stared at his phone intensely, willing it to vibrate in response.



Nothing. He moved for the door when Mania stopped him. She snapped her fingers until his eyes met hers. “Go get her out... but no matter what you do - do not drag us into this war, do you hear?”



He wasn’t listening though, he was out the door and through a portal.
“Hold on, Nightingale.”


<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>






<><><><><><><><>

Playlist
"Silhouette" - Aquilo
"Breathe" - Fleurie
"Soldier" - Fleurie


Special thanks mpart for creating the Cursed Sirens and half of Casper's pack! I never would've gotten this chapter out before I left for vacation without you!
Oh, and for catching that egregious error that I would've died if I couldn't fix!

9 comments:

  1. Awwwww! Poor Casper!!! I'm glad he found Ezzie though. Not sure how I feel about the pack or Nan but I love Mellie. Mellie is amazing. POOR EZZIE THOUGH. RUN, EZZIE. RUN. Quinn is charming as always...why the cliffhanger though? WHY? I'm just glad I could help, Livvielove! =D

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    1. <3 Casper and Ezzie make my heart into gooey love melty stuff.
      I'm iffy about the pack, especially Nan, but I never really can say until I dig in and write them... so perhaps that feeling will change?
      It could happen.
      It won't,
      but it could.
      MELLIE though, she's super wonderful. <3
      QUINN pulled a nice smooth one. Heh, I love his relationship with the Keepers and Nia. THE CLIFFHANGER I'm sorry. It happened. I didn't mean it to (yes I did) but it just happened (as I intended it to).
      I just wanted to keep people on the edge of their seats while I was away.
      I'M A MARRIED WOMAN NOW.
      Also I really owe you a big cookie + some (maybe a chocolate lava cake?) for that save you did!
      2am picture taking is not recommended. XD

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  2. Replies
    1. Oh god.
      *grips your seat too*
      I CAN'T WATCH.
      (other voice): BUT THEN WHO IS DRIVING?
      NOT I, I SAY, NOT I.

      Delete
  3. OMG! Ezzie!!! I'm so glad Ezzie gave Casper a new lease on life. It must have been so hard to go on without his mate! Nan sounds like most aging matriarchs the world over lol busy-bodies of note :-)

    I really want to know what this error was that you did not find without assistance (PM? Please?)

    Today is your wedding isn't it? The 10th? Anyway, I know it's soon if it isn't today, so I am resigned to us only getting another chapter after the honeymoon period lol

    Love you, Liv <3 Good luck and long life as a Mrs!

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    Replies
    1. Ezzie gave Casper sanity and a fresh start. They're so ridiculously adorable to write. I just had to find a way to include them in this chapter. So worth it.
      The error really isn't anything too horrible or huge - it is to me because I'm a perfectionist so Mpart is a saint for catching it before this chapter was up for too long. I had enough time to take the chapter down and redo all the appropriate images.
      Essentially I used the wrong version of Quinn that had a specific tattoo he wasn't meant to have yet, so I had to edit every picture of him to cover it. I did a pretty good job, no?

      Wedding WAS the 10th, yes. I've been married for 12 days right now! =) It was a wonderful ceremony and I'm a lucky lady to have such a wonderful husband. I've got a backlog of chapters I'm set to work on! Keep an eye out!
      Thanks for the well wishes!

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  4. Oh no!
    Ok ok, in order.
    Poor Casper, I'm happy he found Esmeralda. They BOTH needed to be together!
    Watching Ezzie talk to him also broke my heart. So much that I felt guilty and I called my dad to play catchup. I hadn't talked to him in months.

    Ahh, I could feel something was up. It was getting creepy! And now Ezzie got caught up in the war! Quick! Quick Quinn!
    Didn't Ezzie mention something about an object? That wouldn't let her die? That could help here right? Either way hurry up Quinn!

    Oh, and I'm also curious about Quinn's watch. Who gave it to him?
    Q.F
    You are my freedom

    That's such an intimate message. A past lover? A friend he saved? After all he said he didn't have a name, but what if he just lost his memories of it?

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    Replies
    1. Yes Casper is my poor broken-hearted sweetheart I just wanna crush in a hug and cuddle. He and Ezzie really did need each other. Hahaha! I know I'm due to give my dad a call too, but man was that emotional. I also love how quickly and calmly she let out that she "didn't even sleep with him!" (and Casper cough-choked like 'that's nice honey') I'm such a sucker for dad/daughter relationships in stories I swear... and IRL too I suppose. I'm just a sucker for happy family dynamics. XD

      Yea my dearest Ezzie was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a good thing she's got Quinn there. Didn't Ezzie mention something? (sneaky smile) You're very perceptive (nods fervently) she did indeed. She has an artifact embedded in her, stubborn little thing it is.

      Also double bonus points to you (here have a cookie or seven) for noticing the watch. It's Quinn's most prized possession. I do love the engraving... I suppose we'll just have to find out where it came from. (trails off with an evil laugh)

      No but you bring up great questions, like I'm in love with all these questions! Keep asking! ;)
      It's these wonderful comments I get to look forward to after spending all day writing a ridiculously long paper. <3

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    2. Ooh bonus points!

      Getting the right answers motivates me to keep asking questions haha

      I have fun reading the chapters twice just to see if I missed anything. You're so detailed that it's worth it! That way I can catch all the special hidden things! Makes the read more fun. Especially since your stories are set in the same world. I want to be able to spot the easter eggs!

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