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Cascade Hills 17: Good, you brought the runt

Cascade Hills

A new morning dawned over Cascade Hills, but it was very obvious this morning was anything but normal. For one, it was torrential downpour from the very crack of dawn. Rain this late in the fall season wasn’t common, especially for this town. There seemed to almost be a perpetual gloom looming over the town itself. If you were to ask Katherine, she would call this the day from hell. First, she woke up feeling all out of it, like she had a bug but she didn’t necessarily feel sick, just a bone-deep tired. Her senses went crazy right off the bat, and she nearly launched herself out of her bed at hearing the sound of birds. The birds however sounded like they were turned up to 200% and were directly inside of her ear. And it didn’t seem to be just her as she arrived at school. The usual energy of wild and rambunctious teenagers was dialed down to about a 3, 3.5 if she was being nice.

“Is it just me or does today feel like absolute shit?” Alex mumbled as he stumbled next to her.

Katherine just gave a hum of agreement as she didn’t really have the energy for more than that. Then suddenly a loud bang sounded and she almost let out a scream as she turned her head. It looked to have been a locker that had been closed roughly but unfortunately, it was down the hall and there was no way she should have heard it under normal circumstances. Alex was watching her curiously as she quickly got a hold of herself.

“Uhh, you okay Kat? You don’t look so good?” Alex said with concern written on his face.

He even holds out a hand as if he was worried that Katherine was going to faint. Which was both sweet and a bit mortifying for Katherine as she was now freaking out. Her senses have been a bit overwhelming at times with her new lease on life but she had been training to keep it to a normal amount. And she’s doing that, but every so often it’s like her body revolts against her wishes, and that sound or touch leaks in a bit too much.

“I-I’m okay Alex, I just had a really rough night.”Katherine says, wincing a bit as another sound comes in just a bit too loudly.

Alex lets out a sigh as he nods in agreement with her.

“Yeah tell me about it. I had the absolute worst nightmare, woke up sweating bullets.” Alex murmured.

Katherine smiled in sympathy as best she could given she had used all her willpower not to vibrate out of her own skin with stress. Given that Alexander hadn’t noticed yet, it meant she was doing well for herself but given how she was feeling she didn’t think that would last long.

“W-where’s Kristen?” Katherine asks looking around.

Alexander frowned as he also looked around. There were still about 10 more minutes before classes started so there was time. Kristen usually didn’t skip multiple days and if she was late one day, the next she would be there before basically anyone. It was one of the many reasons why Katherine and Alexander assumed the school allowed it. She didn’t miss a lot of days and would always do make-up work orderly which Alexander always questioned before but eventually, it just became something normal. Katherine however now knows why exactly Kristen is absent and now wonders if this is more council stuff.


Katherine’s head snaps back to Alexander who is looking very concerned at her. Looks like her mask had slipped a bit while she was distracted. She had broken out in a bit of a cold sweat that she hadn’t noticed until now. Her breaths were coming in shaky and she had been leaning against the lockers next to her.

“Okay, you’re going to the nurse’s office.” Alex says as he goes to grab her.

“W-wait Alex-”

Her warning came too late as Alexander’s hand fell on her. Almost in an instant every muscle in her body tenses, and her heart suddenly leaps into her throat. Her gaze blurs and there is something there, something peaking just behind Alex. It turns to her and tilts its head as if curious. He knew she could see it, it could see her!! She scrambles back against the lockers. She can barely see Alexander’s mouth moving and his face morphing into horror as he looks back. Her heart was too loud, she couldn’t catch her breath.

This was hell, an all-encompassing hell.

“-therine! Katherine!!”

She must have lost time, one second she felt like she was about to die. Darkness crept around the edges of her vision and then the next she blinked open to a familiar room. Her eyes are wet with unshod tears and her body feels like she has been run over. Her muscles yelled out as she moved to sit up.

“Are you alright sweetheart?”

She jumped and turned to the voice that was just on the side of her. Karen gives her a soft smile as she places a hand on her back.

“Take your time, take deep slowing breathes dear.”

Katherine followed her order without even a thought. Once she was finally calm, she looked as tired as she felt inwardly.

“…W-what the hell just happened?” Katherine asks breathy as she looks back at Karen.

“..We’ll talk about that later, are you feeling okay?”

Katherine is about to answer before noticing something out of the corner of her eye. The nurse’s office was filled with students, some looking worse than others. Nathan was on one side of her, his face a bit pale but beyond that, he looked okay. She didn’t however see Alexander anywhere.

“W-where’s Alex?”

“He just went to get some water and will be back in a bit.”

“What happens now? Why do I feel like I’m still gonna crawl out of my skin?”

Katherine could still feel that strange panic just on the outer of her mind. She could feel a warm feeling battle with the panic which she know for a fact is the pack bond. That is her first hint that whatever is happening right now isn’t normal and makes her stomach clench in unease.

“Well, Principal Armstrong is going to cancel school today, she just getting a bit more information before that.”

Something slots in Katherine’s mind as she takes in that information from Karen. She looks back at her a bit shocked, her mouth falling open to speak. Karen shakes her head and places a finger to her lips. Her message is very obvious and Katherine just nods robotically.

“Kat?! Oh, thank god!”

Katherine turns to see Alexander walking up. His eyes seemed to dart all over her as if measuring any damage or pain before he let out a sigh of relief. Katherine smiles weakly back as he sits down next to her on the left. Nathan and he exchanged a short greeting before Alex raised a bottle of water to her. She didn’t even realize how thirsty she actually was until she had finished off the bottle without even a pause.

“Thanks Alex.” She croaks out with a relieved smile on her face.

Alex smiled back but she couldn’t help but notice an odd expression filter over his face quickly. It was too fast for her to determine what it was but she did note it in the back of her mind to ask him about it later. At that point, the sound of the school bell rang out from the intercom. Everyone in the room looks over a the sound of Principal Armstrong’s voice comes through.

“Good morning students, due to rising concerns for the weather and also a viral bug coming through this morning, the school board has decided to cancel school for today. Parents have been informed and the buses will be around to bring all students home. Please do not try to walk home as the conditions are unsafe for foot traffic.”

Katherine looked a bit confused as she looked back at Karen.

“W-wait how long was I out for?”

“For about 30 mintues.”

Katherine sucked in a breath at hearing that, there was no wonder why Alex looked so worried. A suddenly loud crack rumbled and the room seemed to vibrate a bit. Everyone looked around both shocked and a bit scared.

“..That isn’t normal lightning..” Alex says.

“It picked up a lot since this morning, which is why the buses are necessary.” Karen replies answering the question forming on Katherine’s face.

Karen then stands up and walks over to check on the other students. Alexander seems a bit restless which isn’t odd for him during storms like this.

“I guess it’s a good thing Kristen didn’t come in today. I called her while getting you water, she said she was still home cause she also felt sick.”

“Oh, well that’s good then.” Katherine replied.

Kristen had lied to Alex, that much was obvious to Katherine. Where she actually was however did concern Katherine a bit given how crazy this storm seemed to be becoming. Katherine glances at Nathan to see if he can tell her anything. But he just smiles back and shakes his head. ‘Later’ he mouths to her and Katherine nods back. It took exactly 20 minutes for the buses the arrive. The storm outside had more or less remained the same, the roads weren’t flooded yet but it was very obvious by the looks of things that it wouldn’t remain that way for long. This was the first time in a long time that either Katherine or Alex were taking the bus since their houses weren’t as far away as many other students. What did surprised the two was seeing Nathan, Rose, and Claire also getting on. Katherine however quickly figured out it was more for her given the pointed look on Nathan’s face when he sat down next to her.

“Oh you guys not heading home with your mom?” Alexander asks curiously.

“Oh no, she had a staff meeting, probably to get a better understanding about what happened with the students. She said she would meet us home in a bit.” Nathan answered.

Katherine wasn’t 100% sure if his explanation was true but it would make sense for her to stay behind in theory. It was times like this that she wished she knew just how many people actually were in the “know” about what was going on in this town. Whatever happened today wasn’t normal and there were a load of questions Katherine was dying to ask.

“Oh wait, where was Kyle?” Alexander suddenly said.

Katherine also looked a bit taken off guard and felt a bit of guilt that she didn’t even think about the other boy. After that very weird encounter, something in her didn’t want to interact with him, like a subconscious rejection. She didn’t see him that morning which isn’t really like him. He’s usually one of the few early birds much like herself.

“You’re right…I didn’t see him this morning either..” Katherine said.

“Ah, neither of you happens to have his number huh?” Alex asks as he now realizes he has no way to contact him.

“Hmm, I’m not even sure he had a cell..? I mean given how his dad is after all…” Katherine replies with a frown.

It was rather apparent after being around Kyle that his father didn’t care for him in the manner that a parent should. It was never that he fully neglected Kyle but instead did the bare minimum required. It is probably the main reason for Kyle’s rather meek personality. He would always try to make himself appear smaller and never really talked up unless spoken to. It was really only recently with Katherine and the rest interacting with him that there were changes to his character.

“Ah right, damn. I wish his dad wasn’t such a scum. It’s also bad enough with what happened with his mom.” Alex says with a dark look on his face.

What happened with Kyle’s mom was unfortunately something many were expecting but at the same time could do nothing to stop. His mother loved his father too much to report him, even making excuse after excuse. It was a tragedy to hear that she had killed herself one cold winter day. Of course, there were investigations but again, since the wife never reported or even complained even if the abuse was obvious, nothing could come of it. Since then at least the father had been just a sad drunk at least from what a few a seen of him. He doesn’t really leave the house, having more than enough from his wife’s insurance policy to last for a while.

No one had seen him for the last 2 years since his wife’s suicide.

“I hate that Kyle is stuck with him but what can you do? It’s still his dad after all.” Nathan said with a frown and a frustrated sigh.


With that, Alex moved on from the dreary subject and jumped over to talking about shows. It didn’t take long to get to his stop and he got up and turned to Katherine.

“Make sure you get some rest alright Kat?” Alex says with a pointed look.

Katherine gives him a nod and smiles, there is a small ting of guilt ramping up as she has to lie to him. Alex then waves them both goodbye and exits the bus. Katherine’s gaze followed up until the bus pulled away before turning to Nathan. Nathan already has a sympathetic look on his face, he had watched the whole exchange after all.

“…Does it ever get easier? Lying to others?” Katherine asks in a low tone.

“…I’m not sure. I’ve had to keep this secret for basically all my life. It comes second nature to me. But think of it this way Kat. You are protecting him, I know it doesn’t feel like it but trust me. Our world is a dangerous one, and sometimes keeping the ones we love at arm’s length is the best way to keep them safe.” Nathan replied quietly.

Katherine just gives a muted nod, not really feeling better about the situation but agrees nonetheless. She then pulls out her phone and dials her mother, she answers on the 2nd ring.

“Sweetheart? Are you okay? Did something happen?” Her mother fires off as soon as she answers.

“No, no Mom everything is okay. I just wanted to let you know I was gonna stay with Nathan while the storm was going on. I figured you be out for a bit longer and didn’t want to be alone..”Katherine says.

And to be fair, it wasn’t a lie for her reasoning. There was no telling what would happen at home given how the storm affected her earlier. Given that her mom would be probably on duty helping to make sure everyone in town is ok, she really didn’t want to be alone at that time. Her mother let out a breath of relief at hearing her words.

“Okay, yeah that sounds good sweetheart. I was going to call you anyway to see if you could stay with Alex but I just got caught up with everything.”

“Did something happened?” Katherine asked curiously.

“Yeah, a transformer blew and a crosswalk and a few commercial buildings are without power. Been rerouting traffic basically all morning.”

Katherine gives a hum and is relieved to hear nothing too terrible has happened. Given the amount of rain and how intense the lighting was before, this is a positive by any stretch. After that, Katherine bids her mother goodbye and promises as well to be safe. It takes about 10 more minutes to arrive at Nathan’s house. Once inside and significantly dried and warmed up from the rain outside, Katherine finally unleashes her yearning for information.

“So what the hell happened today and what is up with this freaky storm?”

Katherine would like to think she keeps in her panic well, given how fresh she is to the supernatural world. She had only been spiraling in silence for the entire day after all. Nathan looks at her seemingly searching for a way to explain.

“Whatever has happened has to do with the world tree.”

Both Nathan and Katherine turn to Rose a bit surprised that she was the one that answered. Rose wasn’t someone who Katherine socialized with much due to her being a freshman and also if Katherine was being honest she didn’t think Rose liked her much.

“World Tree? You mean like Yggdrasill in the Norse mythology?” Katherine asks confused.

Both Rose and Nathan turned on her a bit shocked that she knew what they were referencing.

“W-what? I like mythology!?” She said defensively.

“Yeah, like Yggdrasill. Well at least that’s what everyone calls it anyway..” Rose replies with a shrug.

Now Katherine’s head was spinning a bit with that information. She’s been in the forest before, it’s not hard considering that Cascade Hills has plenty of trees around it. The point is she’s never seen anything odd about them, outside of the situation where she was attacked, the forest around has never been weird.

Just creepy as forests tend to be.

“..So I’m a bit lost. I have been in the forest before, I’m sure everyone in our class has for various trips and otherwise. I’ve never seen anything weird?”

“And you would have never seen anything weird years ago.” Nathan answered this time.

“What do you mean by that?” Katherine asks intrigued at the confidence in his statement.

“God where do I even begin? Hmm okay, so there’s this thing we all call “the Veil”. From what has been found out it was created from the world tree. The tree is old at least that’s what was gathered from years of research. It’s magical, deeply, and unworldly powerful and has affected the forest surrounding it. It keeps itself hidden which is why you’ve never seen it. Hell, I haven’t even seen it, just heard about it from my mom and Eric.”

That was a lot of information to process and Katherine is having a bit of a struggle going through it but she’s trying. The full weight of the world she had just recently joined was starting to creep in. Rose and Claire at that point had gone into the kitchen, asking if they were hungry which both Katherine and Nathan refused.

“Okay, so a magical ancient tree is doing all of this?” Katherine asks with a strained smile.

Nathan gives her a small conforming smile as if he can feel her anxiety creeping in, which is probably not that far off.

“Is it going to get worse?”

Her question was met with silence for a beat.

“It probably won’t get any worse … hopefully.”

“…But it can?” Katherine quickly asks.

Nathan just nods and continues to give her comforting looks. Katherine was doing her best not to let her rising fear show physically. While she knew things were going to be different, for the most part since her change, life hadn’t changed all that much. And maybe she just let herself believe that nothing would.

She hoped that everything would just remain the same, just slightly different.

“Look, Katherine, all of this is new to you and I know it’s terrifying. But you have nothing to worry about. This was one of the main reasons Eric had you join our pack. The pack bond works to help us regulate against any outside forces trying to influence us. We will also be able to help and know where you are if you are in trouble.” Nathan reassured her.

His words did help a little bit. Katherine has always been an overthinking, a curse she has always hated growing up. While she may have stopped to rise of panic that didn’t mean that little voice in the back of her head would shut up. But she nodded anyway and motioned for him to continue his explanation.

“The ‘veil’ is a barrier that covers the whole of Cascade Hills. It hides the town from the supernatural in the outside world, well most supernaturals.” Nathan explains, his expression tightening a bit at the end of the statement.

Katherine didn’t have to ponder why he corrected himself. While she doesn’t fully remember the attack which she is utterly thankful for, she does remember the fear. She had nightmares for a while afterward. To the point that her mom wanted her to see a therapist but then the whole wolf stuff started and since then she hasn’t had one.

Lucky timing in some sense? Or maybe just a twisted sense of karma? Either way, she moved past it (she really didn’t).

“From what I understand is it tied to the world tree so-”

“If there’s something wrong with the tree then the veil is in trouble…” Katherine said with a frown.

Nathan nods to her guess. Rose and Claire who had disappeared into the kitchen came back. Rose was just finishing up a conversation on the phone as she entered the living room.

“Yeah, okay. We’ll be ready.. hmm yeah bye.” She then hangs up her phone.

“Eric will be here soon, he said there’s a council meeting soon.” Rose said to Nathan.

Katherine perked up at hearing the word ‘council’ as she remembered Kristen mentioning this ‘supernatural council’ before.

“W-wait we are going out in that?” Katherine said motioning outside.

It was still raining hard outside, the lighting and thunder had died down a bit but she doubted it was safe to travel outside.

“Ah, no no. We won’t be traveling outside.” Nathan reassures her.

There were a bunch of questions that Katherine was sure were popping up on her face but she held them as Nathan motioned for her to follow. The whole group walks through the house down into the basement which does perk up Katherine’s anxiety just subconsciously. The basement was similarly furnished as the rest of the house with lots of wood, and earthy colors/tones. Nathan brings them to a wall which is made of dark brick which made up the foundation of the house. This section was decorated like the rest of the basement but there was one section where there was nothing, just the plain wall. Katherine’s eyebrows instantly raised as her brain worked to figure out what was about to happen.

“..Is this a secret passage?” She asks with poorly veiled excitement.

Nathan gives her a vastly amused grin. Rose and Claire both give her a look that yells ‘You’re a werewolf and this is what you get excited about?’ and Katherine doesn’t even care.

Secret passageways are always cool.

Nathan raised out a hand and mumbled some words that definitely weren’t English. The wall in front of him suddenly lit up with strange symbolic words etched into the brick. A strange smell wavered which caught Katherine off guard. It smelled familiar, spicy but also burnt. She didn’t have time to really think more as a doorway formed and the brick pulled away.

It opened to a passageway. The walls were composed of dark polished brick, maliciously placed, and gave the impression that it was well maintained. The floor was a smooth, brighter stone, and in equal intervals were torches that didn’t seem normal giving the equal amount of fire on each one. Everything was much more than Katherine expected as they all stepped out into the tunnel. She almost jumped out of her skin when the doorway closed behind them as soon as they walked through.

The questions she had before tripled.

She looks over at Nathan with her mouth slightly agape as she tries and fails to put her words out.

“…Good, you brought the runt.”

Katherine lets out an undignified yelp and jumps to Nathan at hearing a voice that came out of nowhere. From the darkness of the tunnel behind them stalks out Eric who looks all too smug at almost giving Katherine a heart attack.

“…I hate you..” Katherine grumbles as she glares at her alpha.

Eric just grins wider with his teeth gleaming. He then tampers down as he looks between the four before walking past them.

“Let’s go. We have a council meeting to attend.”

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