424 Cherishing the Little Things
The scent of fresh morning dew hung in the air, the warmth of the rising sun against the skin, and the slightly cold breeze that announced the changing seasons. These natural subtleties of nature didn’t go unnoticed by the still king that seemed deep in thought.
Lately, Cole Lycaon had begun to take note of the little things in life. He now knew the serene calmness that came to one who walked through a meadow and let their thoughts wander.
…the delight one could take from something as simple as reading a book to ease the mind.
Now the king stood in front of three grey headstones that were starting to change colours with time. The trio of headstones were some of the newest in the cemetery. Despite that, they were already starting to grow moss at their bases. With minimal maintenance, they could be kept looking good without disturbing the resting place of their loved ones.
Among the countless headstones scattered through the cemetery, this grey trio held the most sentimental value to the king…
…aside from that of his dearly-departed mother.
‘Good morning, Father,’ Cole thought to himself, placing the assorted wreath of flowers he’d brought with him by the headstone. Cole stepped back from the man’s headstone, his eyes never leaving the engraved letters of his father’s name, and took a seat in a white chair that had been set there for him a while ago.
The king was known to come to this place at least once every week. At first, the werewolves thought this would go on for as long as he was mourning, but soon enough, it became clear that he would keep visiting the graves of the past king and his beta alphas.
…and no one questioned this decision.
On the contrary, most found it to be admirable of him. The rumours of the king’s hatred toward his father faded with each visit he made to the cemetery.
King Cole didn’t care for the rumours that milled through the ranks of pack warriors and civilians in the capital. He had an empire to run after all. “It’s getting easier. I’m actually surprised the empire has been doing well this long. I know I’m not as strong as you were.
I owe a lot of it to my beta alphas. Caden and Jason adjusted to all of this like they were born for it. They’ve been a great help…
Kyle too,” Cole sucked in a deep breath at the thought of his mate’s beta alpha. The man’s face blew through his mind with a myriad of memories of the past several months. Some were as serious as training while others, holding equal significance, were simply memories of Kyle goofing off with Jason and sometimes… Caden.
Despite the beta alpha’s treacherous and dark past, Kyle was showing an astounding will to change and the results were equally staggering. “I’d thought I will be taking care of Kyle like she wanted me to… but no, he’s doing fine on his own. If there’s anyone who’s still struggling, that would be me… and Margaret.”
The king thought back to the numerous times he’d seen a tear unexpectedly roll down the queen’s cheek. She often spaced out and took melancholic moods at nostalgic times of the day.
Cole sighed and leaned back in his seat. ‘The Trials… They are back again. I wish you could be here to watch them… All of you, but you’re not. I hoped Katie would at least be here to go through them with me.
Yeah, that would have been fun, but… I guess she’s not. It’s almost two years since she left. Sometimes it feels like she’s not coming back at all, but… Kyle is still alive, so I know she’s still alive.’
“There you are, dear,” a melodic voice interrupted the peaceful silence of the empty cemetery. Cole lazily turned his head to a dazzling woman walking towards him.
Margaret was dressed in a creamy-white gown and carried herself gracefully, exuding the aura of a queen. Her sparkling sapphire eyes were the only other pair that existed in the empire of Lycaon.
The last two remaining royals of the Lycaon empire.
“I was just… paying them a visit like I always do,” Cole replied, getting up from his seat, “Good morning, mother.”
“Good morning, Cole,” Margaret hugged the king lovingly.
After releasing him, she walked past him and to the headstone flanked by two others, Alpha Duncan and Alpha Cross. This was the place King Trevor had been buried after the attack on the Lycaon capital nearly two years ago.
Margaret placed her wreathe beside Cole’s and pressed both her palms together in prayer, settling into a comfortable silence. While she retreated into her mind, in prayer and memory, Cole took his seat. His mind wandered as he tapped his thumb on the armrest unconsciously, thinking of nothing in particular.
Queen Margaret was now a widow and Cole’s only surviving relative. King Trevor didn’t have any brothers and for reasons that Cole didn’t know of, had no parents either. Unlike the Sirius empire which was filled with Royals, the Lycaon family was dwindling in number with their only hope of an heir gone from the mortal world.
This was the very reason why the Lycaon palace had been offered more protection by the hunters during the attack on the Moon Goddess’s chosen twenty years ago. The baby had survived the attack but his father had sustained a serious injury while trying to protect him… and his mother had already died during labour.
For a long time, the empire of Lycaon was shrouded in an era of darkness, with a wavering future. Cole even remembered his thoughts of running away from the palace those many years ago but the beautiful woman kneeling in front of him had kept him from making such a terrible decision.
The empire wouldn’t survive without Cole… He was the only heir to the throne…
“Why didn’t you…” the question hadn’t fully come out when the queen finished it for him.
“-have another child?” Queen Margaret sighed. After a short pause, “-I don’t know. We tried… many times but weren’t successful. I wasn’t worried though.”
“I had you,” the queen turned around, a loving smile gracing her countenance.
“…I’m glad you were there for me and hope you can continue to be here,” Cole returned her smile.
“Of course, I’m here Cole. Do you really think you would be able to function without me?” the woman cocked her head to the side, “Who would have taught you to swim? You didn’t even know how to have proper fun. You’ve always been hopeless without me.”
The king chuckled lightly before laughing hard. Unable to keep her facade, the queen laughed along with him, “You’re right. I was a mess growing up.”
“Oh? What did I miss?” a male voice interrupted the Royals.
The two Royals turned to see a blonde male walking up to them. He wore a smirk on his face and looked bigger than he’d been two years ago having completely grown into his role as a beta alpha.
Beta alpha Jason had died his hair blonde a few months ago and was as cheery as ever, “Oh, not much, Jason. Is everything ready?” Cole replied, standing up to address his dear friend.
“We must hurry or you’ll miss the best part. Kyle might have gotten a little carried away,” Jason chuckled, “Not with that abnormal growth spurt and annoying attitude adjustment.”
“You’re one to talk, Beta Jace,” Margaret placed her hands on her hips… shaking her head.
“Oh, come on… My transformation is normal in comparison to his, but I understand where you’re coming from.” Turning to the King, “Shall we go, then?”
“Lead the way,” Cole nodded. With that, the beta alpha gave a slight nod and turned to the cemetery exit.