601 Anything But That

When she was first trained as a Berserker, Ashleigh saw the prestige of the role. The unattainability. She had gone through all of the rituals and training to harness the rage and use it to bring her pack honor and fulfill her duties. But also to impress her father and show herself that she could do it.

To become a Berserker, Ashleigh suffered different forms of physical and mental torture. But, at the time, she, and likely most others never realized that they were stepping to the brink of death to allow the dead to become a part of them.

Lily had told her that the rage Berserkers called on was created from the echoes of the past. The energy stored from pain, suffering, loss, and hatred. The wolves of Winter had a connection to the dead, even if they couldn't actively speak to or hear them. The shadows that lived in the deadlands still hung near the Winter wolves.

When they performed their rituals and their tortures, they brought themselves to the edge of death. Here, the shadows of their ancestors could return with them if they chose.

The reason that some Berserkers lost their abilities fast was that their ancestors had little to offer, or there were only a few that wished to join. Those that lost themselves in the madness often did not have the strength to handle the pain and suffering of the past.

Though all Berserkers were seen as the same kind of beast, they were very different.

Ashleigh had never realized it until Lily told her about it. Saul was a Berserker, and he was impressive, to say the least. But even lost in the rage, he never became a monster. He killed swiftly and ferociously. But he did not torture. He did not tear limbs from bodies or leave the dying screaming on the battlefield.

Lily had told her this was because, much like Saul himself, his ancestors were kind, soft-spoken, and practical.

But Ashleigh's ancestors were anything but that.

She tore through the vines and roots almost as fast as the Dark Queen sent them flying at her. Ashleigh snarled and growled as she wrapped her hands around several vines and ripped them apart.

The Dark Queen hissed. She had expected to fight but not to struggle to keep up. She needed to end this quickly.

"I can keep this going all day long, Winter Princess, but what about you?" she called out, sending out another wave of speared vines at Ashleigh.

'We will not lose!'

'Tear her apart!'

'We will never fall!'

Once more, Ashleigh tore at the vines, yanking and pulling, attempting to draw the Dark Queen toward her to no avail.

The Dark Queen laughed.

"Silly children, I am ever-lasting and never-ending!" she shouted. "Every vine you cut is replaced and regrown. Again and again. My body will not fall while you struggle and fight for five minutes of playtime."

The alphas growled angrily. Ashleigh turned to the Dark Queen and let out a frenzied roar as she clawed away at the roots, taking small steps closer and closer to the Queen.

'We will kill her!'

'We will prevail!'

'We will remain.'

'Ashleigh!' Lily cried out. Her connection felt weak, but she could still feel them, hear them. She knew that they planned to keep control. To lock Ashleigh away inside her mind forever.



The voices howled angrily at Lily.

The Dark Queen smiled.

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"It seems we share a common dislike of the Lost Princess…" she said, pulling back on the roots that prepared to attack.

Ashleigh's body stilled. She had a hungry and wild look on her face.

"How about we make a deal?" The Dark Queen offered. "Let me have my meal, and I will help you keep that body to yourselves."please visit panda-:)ɴᴏᴠᴇ1.co)m


Caleb moved slowly and carefully around the vines. Ashleigh was keeping the Dark Queen's attention. Still, now Caleb was concerned about what he was hearing.

Ashleigh had told him about the alphas that came with her Berserker Rage. He knew she was scared of tapping into that power because of them.

He understood this was a desperate situation, and she did what she thought she needed. But how could he stand by while the Dark Queen helped the alphas to steal her body?

He looked ahead. The large roots were close now. It would not take much more time to reach them, and as long as he held firm and moved fast, destroying them would not be an issue.

He looked back at Ashleigh, or at least her body. She started at the Dark Queen, they were talking, but Caleb couldn't hear anything the alphas said.

Caleb hesitated, unsure what to do. But then he heard what the Dark Queen said. He saw an evil grin pass over Ashleigh's lips. He couldn't let this happen!

He moved to run to Ashleigh, but suddenly, he felt her. He heard her soft voice whisper in his ear.

'Trust me…'


The alphas were quiet.

'She is lying!' Lily screamed. 'She will feed on you the moment she finishes me off!'

'We will not fall!'

'We are stronger than you!'

'How will you give us control?'

The Dark Queen grinned, knowing that she had won.

"It's quite simple…." She replied. "Do you remember how the child initially trapped your power?"

The alphas remained quiet. Their minds were memories of hate and rage. Memories folded over each other and lost in their meaning.

The Dark Queen scoffed; she should have known they would be clueless.

"At the brink of death, the deadlands wait. She called you to her when she was dying, and you crossed into her," the Dark Queen sighed. "Allow me to take her back to the brink… and then you simply shove her into the deadlands and keep the body."

'Lies. You will kill us.'

'We are not fools!'

"You are right to be suspicious," the Queen smiled. "So, I will offer you my oath. Swear an oath to me that you will banish the Winter Princess into the deadlands, and if you do, I will swear to let her body live with you inside of it."

Ashleigh stared at the Queen with low growls and an angry expression. But then an evil grin grew on her lips.

'We swear it!' the three alphas shouted in unison.

They raised Ashleigh's hand to their mouth and bit down until it bled, turning the hand back toward the Dark Queen and letting several drops fall onto the roots below them.

'You can't!' Lily cried out.

The Dark Queen rolled her head back in laughter before looking back at Ashleigh. Then, with a cruel expression and a twisted smile, she shot a speared vine into Ashleigh's shoulder.

"I accept your offering…."