Forged In The Flames By Karima Sa’ad Usman
Chapter 33 Awake (Nikolas POV)
Voices came like a torrent in my sleep, and I thought I was having a nightmare. I woke up and looked at the clock. It was eight in the morning.
“Alpha”, I heard eight voices at once. Qusack and Ania’s representatives were the most prominent, and I knew something was wrong.
“What is it,” I asked.
“Nikolas, you have to come quickly! The Queen is beside herself with grief! She is hysterically calling for her little boy,” Qusack said, and I gently got off the bed so I did not wake Aliana up.
“I am coming,” I linked back and hurried to sl*ip on something. I wore shorts and a T-shirt and sl*ipped out of my room.
I was quick on my feet, eager to get to my mother in time. My heart was pounding really fast. I felt the adrenaline of excitement and fear course through my veins.
Could this be what I had hoped for nineteen years? Was it possible that she was no longer feral?
I wondered what must have gone wrong to make her hysterical. Did all our efforts go down the drain? Was she worse off than she was yesterday?
Although all through the years of her on- and-off feral episodes and the final one that kept her in that state for nineteen years, she had never spoken a word, so asking for me was a huge sign of improvement.
I got to the door, and there were people there, something I had prohibited because I did not want anyone to see her.
I growled, and they all dispersed, living Qusack and the maids. The guards weren’t there.
“Where are the guards?” I asked.
“Holding her down. You know she isn’t in chains,” Qusacksaid, and I rushed in.
My mother was growling and trying to break free from the men holding her. Each guard held on to an arm, and they held on tight.
She struggled on the bed whilst sitting and seeing her suffer like this was heart-wrenching. Her eyes were shut tight, and she tried to break free with all her might.
My mother looked at me and was silent, then started growling. I wondered what had gone wrong. Her eyes were still feral, but I could see the redness fading gradually. I could not believe my eyes.
“Where is my Niko?” She asked, and I was in shock.
That was the first time she would speak to me in nineteen years.
“Where am I? Where is my son?” She asked, and it was logical that she would ask those questions, but still, I was frozen on the spot.
She tried to fight them off, and I could see her strength draining with every struggle getting weaker and tears streaming down her cheeks whilst she cried.
I had to snap out of the shock and advance towards her. Her eyes were normal. They were brown, as I remembered them, not red but brown. Had she not worn silver bracelets, I am sure they would have been black. She wasn’t feral any more.
I could not waste time just in case it was temporary.
“Momma,” I said, and she looked at me with confusion. “Momma, it is me, Niko,” I said, and she frowned.
“My Niko is a little boy,” she argued, doubting herself as she spoke, and I nodded.
“Yes, I was, but I am grown now,” I said, touching her cheek gently and sitting before her. She flared her nostrils as if smelling something offensive.
“I need you to pledge your allegiance to me so you do not go feral again. You have been out of it for nineteen years,
“Momma, I doubt we will be lucky again,” I told her, and I could see realisation and shock form on her face.
“Niko?” She asked me with realisation. “I need you to plead your allegiance now, Momma,” I said, afraid the insanity would come back. This was all I had ever hoped for, and I would be damned if I let the opportunity sl*ip.
“I, Isabelle Kowalski, swear to you, Alpha ….” She said and searched my eyes.
“Nikolas Kowalski,” I told her my name and her eyes widened with the realisation that I wasn’t lying to her. She stopped giving the guards a h*ard time and relaxed. “…Alpha Nikolas Kowalski,” She said, tears streaming down her cheeks and staring at me with disbelief and profound sorrow.
“…to be forever loyal and serve you as yours until the day I die,” She said, and I felt the bond snap into place. I did not know I was holding my breath until I exhaled.
I exhaled with d*eep relief, knowing she would never be feral again. My days of living in fear of the red-eyed beast were finally over. I felt like a little boy again. She touched my face and ran her fingers over the scar on my left eye. I dared not tell her she was the one that did it. Her tears streamed uncontrollably, and she grabbed onto me and hugged me tightly while she wept.
“I am sorry, Niko, I am so sorry. I should have listened to you and gone back to our cave,” she said, remembering our conversation before she went feral. She would remember that because she was stuck at that time. Although nineteen years had passed, to her, it was like a moment ago, the only traces of time passed was that I was now a grown man and not a ten-year-old little boy.
“Leave us,” I linked everyone at once while I held her, and I heard them recede and close the door. Bane was mainly silent. He had never met our mother before.
She broke the hug and began to sniff the air.
“Halfbreeds and werewolves,” she said, sounding confused, and I bowed my head. Was her hatred so entrenched that she could remember them too?
“Where are we, Niko,” she asked me.
“Your home. I took it all back. I conquered the forest as promised and took it all back,” I said, telling her what I had done, and she widened her eyes.
“How?” she asked as if it were an unbelievable task.
“We will talk about it later; right now, I think you should rest,” I said, and she shook her head.
“Did you ensure Gabriel and his cohorts pay for their crime Niko?” She asked, and I tried to avoid the question.
“Niko, why do you reek of werewolves?” She asked, sniffing around me, and I did not know what to say. Telling her of Aliana now would be too much. I needed her to be all right and then ease her into it.
“Niko, why aren’t you answering my questions?” She asked me, and I shook my head.
“I will answer your question when you are all right. If you do not like Halfbreeds tending to you, I will send the Lycans over, but mind you, it was halfbreeds and a werewolf that nursed you back to health,” I said, letting her know who was responsible for her excellent health.
Had Aliana not stepped in, she would have died.
The physician was already counting down the days, and they only fed her enough to prolong the inevitable. There was a point when the food would no longer be enough again, but the goddess had been kind enough to make Aliana offer her services. This was all thanks to her. But how will I balance between my mother and the woman I love?
My mother began to growl.
“How dare you leave me at their mercy? After all, I told you they did to your father and me. They are the reasons we were cut off from the world. The reason why we had to hide Niko? Or did they feed you lies and tell you otherwise? Nineteen years is a long time,” She said, sounding angry and disappointed.
She also looked hurt, and it got to me. She looked at me as if I had betrayed her. It hurt because I had lived my life trying to accomplish her goals, her revenge and recover what she told me we had lost.
The look on her face broke my heart, but I let it go. It was normal for someone who never really liked the werewolves and had all the right to hate them for their treachery.
I wanted to tell her that I knew the truth and that the werewolves weren’t the ones hunting us in the woods but her brother, but I held my peace because she had just come through.
“I will avoid discussing the past with you until you are all right,” I said, standing up.
I was happy that she would not go feral again, which meant we had all the time in the world. It also meant Fredrick would not win and would have no choice but to give me my place.
As for my relationship with Aliana, I plan to have it all. I deserve joy and happiness. I have lived all my life trying to make my mother happy, pursuing her dreams and trying to keep my promises. It had been an empty and lonely life for me, but finally, there was colour in my life, and I planned to keep it. Hopefully, my mother would forget her hatred and accept the woman I love and want to be with.
I stood up, and she held onto my hand and looked up.
“Where are you going?” She asked.
“To my room. You are all right now. I will send the physician to check your vitals, and then I will send the Lycan women to tend to you. Mind you, they aren’t good nurses, but since you said you do not want Halfbreeds around you, I will have to remove them from serving you,” I said.
“Why are you allowing them freedom?” she asked me, and I pulled my hand away.
“You have been out of it for Nineteen years, Mother. I was ten when you lost your mind. You are regaining your sanity after nineteen years. Instead of being grateful to the goddess for the gift she has given us, you are bringing up your grudge and vengeance. I would like to breathe, Mother, and you should learn to do the same,” I said, stepping away from her.
She had honestly irritated me with her words and questions. Someone who missed nineteen years of her son’s life should be grateful she has a chance to build new memories and close the time gap.
She should want to catch up and not remind me of the promises she forced me to make as a child and her grudges against the werewolves.
I was at peace because I had done everything within my power to keep my promises, all except two. I didn’t kill her, and I didn’t kill Gabriel and his family. Those were the only exception, and I had the right to decide who I killed.
I am sure Gabriel is suffering for his crimes right now. I also know Aliana is suffering too.
Even though I chose to ignore it, I knew it was h*ard for her. Knowing I hate her father and force him to work long hours as a slave must be h*ard. She visits him and knows his h*ardship, yet she returns to the palace and smiles for my sake, ready to please me, always there for me when I need her. Aliana has made our relationship and my life easy at her expense.
She has learned to refrain from complaining just so it would work out. Even though I have confessed my love and intentions, she still walks on eggshells believing what we have will crumble someday.
She might even think this is a ploy to hurt her d*eeply.
I knew both she and her father were suffering.
I try to separate her from him in my mind and love her regardless of his crimes, but I know it isn’t the same for her. She must feel like a traitor s*leeping with the man who ruined and humiliated her father. She must conflict with herself.
Sometimes, I am tempted to cancel my revenge so Aliana can be happy, but the thought that I would betray the woman that gave me life always holds me back.
I am suffering, too, because my anger has dissipated, but I have a promise to keep and a father to avenge, so I keep going. My mother was being inconsiderate and ungrateful at this moment.
We were all suffering, and it was heart wrenching that my mother would bring up her grudge immediately after she regained her sanity. It was sad. How much more did she expect me to give?
“I am sorry if I upset you, Niko,” I heard my mother’s gentle voice and looked at her. She looked sad and wiped away her tears.
“I will try to follow your lead. It is just that everything is still fresh in my mind. Nineteen years might have passed, but it is still like yesterday,” She said. I did not know how to tell her I knew her brother was the one hunting us and not the werewolves.
I needed to give her time to get used to the environment before I ironed things out with her.
“I do not know why you reek of werewolves, but be careful, Niko. They can’t be trusted. I would hate to see you betrayed as they did to your father,” she said and began to weep.
Remembering my father constantly tormented her. I was glad I had some of his features but didn’t look like him, or she would have thought I was him.
“I need you to rest, Mother, and we can have lunch together in the dining room,”
I said, smiling at her so she would not think I was mad. She nodded with hope in her eyes and reluctantly let go of my hand.
I bent to k*iss her forehead and then left the room.
I knew my life had just gotten difficult, and there was nothing I could do about it; balancing my mother, Aliana, and my pursuit of kingship would be h*ard, there were two factors in my life against one, and I wasn’t willing to give up either.