I was standing at the gate of the Elder’s residence, gazing up toward the massive gateways made of black iron.
It seemed complex and terrible at the precise moment, yet I was aware that inside those was even more terrifying.
I didn’t need to introduce my name, because the doorman instantly knew who I was, then he opened the gate directly after realizing I had already arrived. I was preparing myself, because once I was entering the extravagantly enormous building, I would approach that fate once again.
A total of seven Elders had been selected. To embark on each prospective addition of the council, a majority vote of the highest ranking and current Elders was needed, thus the procedure was extremely formal. Each of them required to be at least particular years old and possessed a kind of reputation that would help the pack’s development. The only distinction to such stringent recruitment procedure was the retired ranked officials, who were practically assured of a seat and provided they had the capability to survive until the required time.
When I entered, I couldn’t help but let out a small sigh at how lavish it looked inside. Instead of calling it a house, it would have been more accurate to call it a mansion. I noticed there was pricey home decor and furniture everywhere. I hadn’t been given an opportunity to visit this place before, so witnessing it for my initial visit was shocking. I didn’t think they could afford such elegance.
“Winona,” a deep voice greeted me.
When I looked up, I noticed Elder Tom awaiting at the entrance, anticipating when I would come.
Elder Tom was undoubtedly the youngest of the Elders, with dark graying hair and not much beard across his jaw; he was rarely one who maintained a neat look. His intelligence had made him an unbeatable candidate for the council job, which had opened up soon after he had reached the required age criteria.
He always had a reputation as a leader in terms of creativity and a shift in perspective. He was actually one of the primary Elders to suggest that I should come along with the strategy sessions. This turned out to be one of the aspects that the remaining Elders didn’t appreciate about him, though. The more conventional viewpoints of the elder members were occasionally in conflict with his contemporary method of solving problems.
I lowered my head respectfully. “Hello, Elder Tom,” I said.
Now that I was not a Luna anymore, Elder Tom had a status greater than mine in this situation. But deep down, I was certain I would have treated him with the respect he deserved. Even before I became Luna, I had always appreciated his capacity for thoughtful problem-solving. He was one of the persons that I had carefully examined throughout the course of my years-long strategic studies. I was aware that he was responsible for some of who I was.
Elder Tom was the person who originally held the position, when I had begun my step to become the pack’s Gamma and top strategist. He never gave any indication that he was the
least bit resentful about it, but I’ve always pondered whether he was. But I had the utmost regard for him. He was the only person, in previous times, who might have been regarded as being on par with me in this regard.
He smiled and asked me to go with him along the corridor, as he was done with politeness.
Each space we reached was equally luxurious as the previous one. I discovered that every single one of the available areas in the rooms were occupied by individual offices and conference rooms. The fact, that we hadn’t even passed the private accommodation on the way there, made me question how huge the area actually was.
Following a few further detours, we finally arrived in a sizable but orderly-looking workplace. In contrast to the others, there weren’t many personalized objects, because the work area and walls were covered with documents and books.
“My office,” he said and motioned for me to come in.
I entered and was immediately struck by how many books were there. I assumed I had read every scholarly book in the pack’s library, but when I looked through these, I saw some titles I hadn’t encountered before. I hadn’t experienced the thrill that comes with desiring to gain knowledge in such a long time. I would be overjoyed to spend my day at this workplace by myself.
“This is a huge library,” I was flattering. “How could you discover some of these? I found numerous special-edition printings of books, that I had previously believed to have disappeared to our civilization.”
“Your eyes are excellent.” He noticed, then grinned
maliciously. “I’ve learned how to get books that would have previously seemed unattainable.”
I was interested in pressuring him for more information, partly so I could try to achieve what he was doing, but I had the impression that he wouldn’t open up to a teenager about his secrets. Maybe someday I could get him to share this with me.
“Please sit down.”
I moved over to a large cloth stool where a guest chair should have been.
I was confident that this seat was set up to not have headrest, so that Elder Tom could examine my mark without difficulty.
“So, Miss Granger,” he said. “Are you doing fine lately?”
I was rather taken off guard by the query. I hadn’t anticipated him to dally with pointless conversation.
“Oh, um, call me Winona, please. I’m fine, thank you. How about you?”
He nodded. “I’m good as well. In addition, I feel really honored. I learned that you asked me directly to help you with this confirmation today.”
After we reached the office, his black eyes had been keeping a close check on me and consistently displayed this glimmer of cautious inquiry. I understood that he would be
meticulously examining me to determine who I was and why I possessed this mark, because if I had been in his shoes, I would have been thinking about the identical thing. I was already anticipating that I would be used as a candidate for the examination during the procedure. After all, this mark had
been vacant for more than a thousand years.
“You’re right,” I affirmed.
“May I inquire how you arrived at this conclusion? If you don’t want to, you are not required to respond. The reason we are here today has nothing to do with this inquiry, it is just my curiosity.”
I paused for a while to consider the best way to respond. ‘Because you showed in my previous life, you are not a jerk. like the majority of people as well,’ or ‘Because you were the only one who acted on empathy when I was killed?’
Obviously, I wasn’t really saying any of those phrases. “Oh, I’ve heard you think logically like I do. I have faith in your objectivity during our meeting today.”
He gave me furrowed eyebrows. “Since I’ve been serving as an Elder for the past twelve months, I didn’t know that I currently had an excellent reputation.”
I immediately swore in silence. I’d failed to consider the fact that I wasn’t meant to be familiar with him just yet. Ideally, another two years should pass before the cases he engaged on were publicized.
“But,” he continued, “I’m delighted you are comfortable with me. Today will be simpler as a result. I must say, Winona, I’ve also been wanting to chat with you, so I’m glad we have this chance now.”
Chat with me? What might he desire to discuss with me?
“Naturally, I was there when you were summoned by the Alpha a few months ago. I noticed what you said about how
to handle the situation with the Bane pack.”
I stiffened up right away. I had been so concentrated on wanting to assist during that discussion, which I had overlooked the fact that the person who would eventually come up with the plan was present. “I’d like to express my appreciation for your excellent counsel and maturity.”
I silently sighed with relief. Naturally, there was nothing to be concerned about. Since he hadn’t even considered it yet, there was no possibility for him to have recognized that it was his idea in the first place. But I felt a little sorry. I had indirectly taken his credit for what he had done.
“I’m not aware whether anyone informed you,” he continued, “But you turned out to be right about everything. The truth is the wolf in captivity had been a respected member of the Bane pack. In the end, Alpha Leo carried out your strategy just as you had planned. There were no casualties throughout the entire discussion with the other pack. Please allow me to be the first to express the pack’s gratitude if no one else has already done so.”
Then I realized, I had totally neglected looking into what was going on about the Bane pack. I had no need to worry or be uneasy because I already believed it would be successful. Even yet, learning that it had been effective made me feel better. Everybody, who originally perished during the Bane disaster, would safe in this moment.
“I think we’ve gotten off track enough. Shall we start with the confirmation?” he asked.
I anxiously gulped and agreed, “Ok, let’s start.”