Tzipporah was separated from me for the first time in a decade. I mean, really separated. I couldn’t reach her, not even in the Open Plane. I couldn’t find her there. What was more, because she was with the amshuns I wasn’t allowed to see her.
She had been my mate for a century. Promised to me before then. The Second, my father and her mother, the Grand, had foretold that she would be mine. Just mine. But I had no time to reflect on this, the loss I felt at not being at her side. I knew it was time. The babe she carried was coming. The amshuns had said it would be so. I knew that the time would be swift, but I had no idea it would be as swift as this! During the ceremony where I was to lead my people? Only the ancestors would have planned this.
With custom and tradition, Tzipporah and I were supposed to be separated for this week. It was hard for her, but I couldn’t pinpoint why. When I reached for her on the Open Plane, she hid from me. Tzipporah had never hidden from me, not there. Or anywhere. The Grand had told me it could be happening because of her impending delivery. “My Alpha, she is in a tender state.” She had touched my shoulders in the heated room I was left in. “Let us tend to her. We all knew this day would come, but none thought it would come so soon.” I stared at her, Tzipporah’s steady brown eyes in her face. I grimaced as she left the room.
Something was wrong, I knew something was wrong. I wish someone would have been brave enough to tell me what it was!
The separation for The Beginning was for purification. Tradition said this time was to prove the mate bond, to make sure it was true. That the Alpha was bonded to the right mate. Errant bonds happened, but if an errant bond happened to or with an Alpha the line could not produce the next Alpha. Without an Alpha, there could be no lineage. Without a lineage, there would be no pack.
The Grand left me in the heated room with the light off. Centuries before The Beginning, the first two days of the ceremonial week were in the dark. The Second told me this would be some of the deepest peace an Alpha could have. Here for two days, the ancestors would speak and I would listen. I would know what the previous Alpha knew. I would be asked questions, strength regained and deepened. It was the ancestors that gave the second set of confirmations for your mate. My mate.
I closed my eyes, counted my breaths as my father told me. As my Alpha had instructed. As Alphas had done since our pack began. I felt my hearing heighten, and the wolf that I housed groan and wish for the comfort of Tzipporah. The sweetness of her skin. The smell of her. I heard my own growl in my new hearing, startled at the hunger found in it.