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Having lost the trail of Terry and Isabel's captors in the other world, Devon leaves his son Russ and the dragoness Ariessa to keep a lookout. Meanwhile, he, Senias, Gabriel, and Derek move on to seek help from this side of their pack.
By Rachel Adams Dawn McClellan Posted in Ties That Bind on April 27, 2019 0 Comments 39 min read
Spotlight: World Wide Pedrol Previous Step One to Taking Down a Coven Next

He appeared in a stretch of desert with the wind blowing in a permanent sandstorm. His vision was limited and the scent was gone just as quickly as he’d gotten it. There were no tracks to follow and no direction to turn in.

“I can’t see anything in this damned mess! This is the lands of storms.. there’s no way to find a trail in here..” Who ever had Terry knew how to lose others tailing them. That meant they were professionals which meant to find them would take professionals.

“Step back pops and let me have a go at it.” Russ had pulled the half mask up before stepping through the portal, now he was thankful for it. His shades had helped too. Crouching down as the ole man stepped back, Russ dropped the mask, “Three males.”

“What kind?” Derek asked. it never ceased to amaze Devon that Russell had the gifts he had. He was thankful that he had agreed to let Senias train his son to use them properly. 

Russ closed his eyes and grabbed a handful of dirt to lift to his nose. He was focusing on the scents within as he crumbled it beneath his nose. “Three males..” His nose wrinkled in distaste as he quickly dropped the dirt and wiped his hand cleaned, “One is wearing a scent blocker. Could take a bit longer to track that one if they pass through a city. I smell fang.. and somethin’ else.. not sure what it is, though.” Once he was completely enmeshed and focused on his task Russ nodded to his father without saying anything more to any of them.  He wasn’t being an asshole, he was just extremely focused and want to risk ruining the chance at success he currently had.

“If they’re like the ones we fought other night – they’re mutts, like Evan!” Ariessa yelled over the winds. She was angry now that her hair would be a mess. She was quickly running from them and shifting into her larger dragon form. She wouldn’t take to the air in this wind, but she could provide them with some bit of shelter and like this she didn’t have to worry about the beating of the sand or the currents.   

The feral stepped through the harsh beating sands as he sought out the trail. He crouched down in the same tearing winds and scooped up earth to crumble beneath his nose.  “This way.” He dropped the sand, adjusted his shades and moved to the North. “The scent is weak, not sure how long it’ll hold.” And so they moved, the dragoness to the west, shielding their movements through this sandstorm while the Alpha and his two adult pups moved them all northward. 

 **********

Two hours of trudging through the storm led them to a small camp town that seemed shut down for the night.

“It leads here.” Russ took a few more steps and rumbled, “It’s too faint, we’ll have to check all the buildings and see if I can get it again.” His dad was already heading for the first one. “This is gonna take us a while, why don’t ya crash, unless ya wanna prowl through one of these buildin’s and cut time down clearin’ em.” He looked from his brother to the dragoness and lifted his brow at her.

~ I can move through the streets and around the perimeter. I’ll let you know if I see, smell, or sense something you need to look at. ~ She moved gracefully through the sand-swimming town. It had definitely been abandoned. But that meant anything coming through here would leave behind clues.

“If you need me, don’t hesitate…” Derek knew both Devon and Russ could contact him if they needed to. He moved to the other side of a wagon with a tented roof and crawled in so he could get some shut-eye. He’d been going non-stop for a couple of days now. And they’d need him further on.   

Russell, Ariessa, and Devon took their time and Russ was finally able to pick up the scent again. This time the scent led out of the storm and to the grand city of Portico. It was here that Russell forced his father to take a room and lay low while he took Derek and Ariessa out for a quick scouting run. The scent trail was all over the city, which meant that at least one of the attackers frequented the area. The dragoness secretly used magic to get their ole man to calm down enough to rest. That bought them almost an entire day with no problems. Devon was ready to kill and that took a lot of control to keep his wolf at bay. 

When Derek and Russ got back in the latest part of night, their ole man paced the room and was obviously pissed. Luckily, he had no idea about the push to rest.

“We should be out there finding your brother not relaxing in this damned room!” The big lycan snarled as he moved to the window to stare out it.

With a roll of his eyes Russ moved to close the curtains, “Pops, we’ve been workin’ on finding him. The scent is all over this city so we’re watchin’ and waitin’ for it to appear again. Until it does we need to rest and prepare for what comes when we find em.”

“Rip out their throats and take your brother home.” Devon answered in a very deadpan way. The Alpha looked at his pups with that cool golden gaze. Russ nor any of his brothers ever doubted a word pop spoke with a look like that.

“Get your clothes on,” Derek requested again as he fastened his own fighting pants at the waist. There was plenty of room to move in these things. He missed them. They snapped at the ankles and the waist so that the free flowing material wouldn’t get in the way too much. It was a mixture of cotton and silk and it breathed well in the warmer climate they were now in.

~ “Tracked em northeast of the city. Have ya noticed how heavy the scent is in this city? It’ll be back and we’ll have them then.” ~ Russ rolled a cigarette and tucked it between his lips before striking his zippo and lighting it up. He had no issues talking with his mind to a dragon, he’d had plenty of practice with Starrfire. So he included Ariessa in the conversation, even though she wouldn’t come into the room with the males.

~ I’ve managed the perimeter. They’re not used to seeing dragons in Portico. It might shake ‘em up and out of hiding. But mostly, I’m looking for unusual activities. So far, it’s been the day-to-day for these souls. ~  Ariessa had already traveled in the direction her senses told her to go in. She had landed on the side of a small mountain, the forest and mist surrounding was beautiful. It was much different than she had ever seen.

In the night to early morning sky, it was difficult to see her, she was so many shades of blue and  her underbelly was an almost lavender with a shimmer of gold about the eyes and frill-line only. Her colors in this moment shown to those who knew she was there, but she could only last so long. She became virtually invisible on that hill overlooking the city. And as such, she stepped into the forest.

~ Got room and food down there, handsome? ~ she walked out of the forest a bit down the hill on two legs like nothing had happened.  People were talking and pointing to where she had landed as the large creature she actually was. They paid no head to the small girl that walked out of the forest on the other side of the hills. 

~We do but not for long, gorgeous. The ole man is on a roll so… we’ll be out and about soon. We could use some eyes and ears that aren’t lycan out there to see what’s goin’ on. ~ Russell stayed at the window smoking his cigarette. He thumped ash and listened to the two behind him goin’on and on. He never thought he’d miss his mentor quite so much as he did right now. At least Senias was quiet.

~ What? People are talking. ~ She could tell he was distracted. It was kind of distracting to her as well. Then she understood better. ~ OH! You want me to stay out here and roam around and get info? Sure. I can do that. But, I’m gonna be thieving me some food. I haven’t eaten a damn thing since yesterday and my belly’s growling worse than you or my big form could do. And I didn’t pack the kind of money they take here. ~ She got silly for a moment despite the situation. ~ Or maybe I can go for a swim somewhere grab a fish and eat it in front of them? ~ 

~ Nah don’t need ya gettin’ hunted and there ain’t no water this far out. ~ Russell watched those below and rumbled low, ~ Give us a minute and we’ll be down stairs. I’ll let ya know where to meet us. ~

~ I’ll take the slow walk through the village and be friendly, I promise. I am capable of friendly, despite what Evan may have said. ~ There was a pause. ~ He didn’t say anything did he? ~ Her eyes narrowed as she strolled through the back gates of town. Ariessa was capable of continuing to help. This was her friend’s little brother they were tracking. And now that she’d been around Russ a bit more, she could see that he also was important to her. Maybe, he was a friend she’d not had the chance to truly make into a friend? under different circumstances – well…  These were their circumstances, now. The worst situation. The draconic lady stopped and  walked over to the side of the road in full view of the guards. She leaned down to look at a drag track and some broken reeds.  

“What happened?” Derek asked as he watched his father pace the room. he had noted Russ getting up after looking out the window. 

“Ariessa is walkin’ in from the end of town. She’s hungry.”

“Tell her, she can meet us at the tavern down the street.” Devon moved for the door before either Russell or Derek could stop him, he was out and heading down the stairs.

“Pop, wait…” Derek growled as he saw Devon lift a hand while walking out the room. “So much for keeping people from knowing the Weylyns are around and about.”

“Well damn.” With a frown, Russ followed after his father.  ~ Meet us at the tavern called Last Dregs. ~

~ Mmmm…okay, ~  She moved forward, careful not to step in the trail she had just found and picked a morning glory from one of the vines. She turned, moving the flower bloom on her hand to look up at the guard. She smiled and waved at him, he waved back. Yep. They could see from there. Time to ask some questions.

***

The bar keep in this particular establishment was either elf or half-elf.  His ears pointed not very far out from his long hair and his face was clean. When the two lycan walked in, he smiled and stopped washing the glasses.

“Well, what can I get ya, strangers? I just got finished with some sweet pomegranate mead, but I also got other drinks.”  Sniffing, he added, “I also sell the finest of cigars, from both sides.

“Honey ale and one of those cigars.” Devon took a seat at the bar and watched as Derek took a seat beside him. Devon watched his pup tense up. “He’ll have a mug of ale and a cigar too.”

“I don’t like cigars. But thanks,” Derek shook his head at the elf so that the guy didn’t bother.

When Russell and Ariessa took seats to the other side of him, Devon rumbled to all of them, “Well, see anything worth checking out or are we still waiting on the scent?”

“There were several fires in the foothills surrounding this valley town, but I couldn’t stop and search them all. Night vision told me there were no young boys out and about at them. And with the wind, scents are difficult for me.” This was why worlds on the other side of the portals could be dangerous. One could simply disappear without a trace.  ~ I did notice something worth checking out at the far end of town. Looked like drag marks on the ground outside the gate. I flirted with the guard on duty and found out he’d just begun his shift in the dawn time. So if something was dragged out of town last night under our noses… the night shift guard might know about it. But, no need to look further if you can’t smell our folks there. ~ The last part had been spoken to Russ alone. Essa didn’t want to broadcast everything, so she made sure her voice was quiet and when the bar keep came close she shut up.

When the elf came over she ordered several things. She was starving and everything he had sounded good. Once he was off again, she grabbed her drink along with the rest of them.  

“Maybe we should use our heads here, too. Who have you or your pack pissed off enough over here, that also would know about your packlands over there? Anybody that fits and also might have ties with the Eriksson Coven? Can you think of anyone that could’ve passed close enough? This wasn’t a one day trick, here,” Ariessa walked with them over to a side table once they all had drinks. That way they could better see one another. “I’ll take my licks where they are deserved. I shouldn’t have portaled there. It gave them an open door. But… how is it that they knew to get there in the perfect time of day when there was the best chance to catch your family out without protection?”

“That’s a good question.” Russell spoke up as he drank from his tankard. “I have a few ideas.”

“How do you have a few ideas? This… you’re sayin’ it might’ve been an inside job? And whoever did it, they’ve been there this time?” Devon didn’t want to believe it!

“I’m just saying, whoever did this has been studying and planning and took advantage of a weak moment to get in… but then waited to attack. And they got directly over here and know how to lose trackers over here. It’s weird don’t you think, sir?” Essa shrugged before accepting the food from the elf who served them.  “It makes sense it’d be kind of an inside job, you have to admit, sir,” she had the sir down at least. But the food was just…wow… she was quick to be chowing down on her carved meat and sopping up some gravy with the bread.

“I’ve been wracking my brain and I just can’t think of anyone in particular.” Devon huffed heavily and shoved his fingers through his hair as his elbows rested on the table. “I have a few that don’t care much for our Pack over here, but I don’t think any still thrive that would pull such a thing. Especially knowin’ it would pull me back to this world.”

“What about the ones we pardoned? Think they’d still keep digs? It’s not unheard of, Pops,” Derek pointed out.

“They told us their stories. They were doing what they thought best for survival. I just…if it was one of our own or ones we’ve taken in? It’s gonna change things.”

Russ gave a sharp nod before disappearing out of the bar to do more scouting on his own. He loved the ole man but worked better on his own.  

“I’m gonna show him where I was talking about. Maybe if it’s just the two of us, they won’t think anything.” Ariessa moved out of the bar, still carrying her potatoes in her hand.

Dare would look out for their ole man while Russ and Essa sought for information. If they were lucky they’d find Terry within the next few days, if not.. well, they’d keep going until they did find him no matter how long it took.

“I need to reach out to Kieran on this. He may have some ideas, too.” Devon couldn’t help but worry over what his pup was going through. Just the thought made him rumble dangerously. His wolf wanted to break free and find the ones responsible. It was taking all Dev had to keep control over himself.

“I say that’s a damn good idea,”  Senias’ voice could be heard from the entry room, where he now stood, and beside him was Gabriel. It was so odd to see the Councilor dressed in attire from this side of the portals. Silken, light desert cloth kind of looked good on the man.

“I never thought I’d see the day,” Derek smirked. He also then thought of Izzy in similar attire – clothing that he’d not worn in years. He kind of missed some things from this side. And he missed Izzy. His mate was supposed to call out to Largros and get him  the message as soon as possible. So far, he’d heard nothing. 

“Now that I’m here, maybe I can portal you to the packlands? Same palace or…?”  Senias walked to the counter to toss a gold up for them.

“That’d be good of ya.” Devon stood up to greet his dragon brother properly. He looked Gabriel’s way and held a forearm out to him. “Ya seem to be fittin’ in here, Gabe. I see Sen hasn’t lost his touch for clothes shoppin’ after all.” There was a slow grin from the Alpha. “We were just discussin’ who would be enemies to our Pack. Any suggestions?”

“Seems the only person who wants Eriksson taken out as bad as we do is Ezekiel Skinner,” Senias began, but he let Gabriel explain everything. He motioned for Devon to get up and lead the way to a side street. Sure, magic was used here and often, but it was rude to do so inside of a place like this. Sen placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder and squeezed to remind him that he had support and to remind him of his civility and help against the urge.

Gabriel watched the two men and then glanced Derek’s way as he explained everything that Skinner had said and what Evan had given. “Skinner even provided us a list of factions that the Eriksson Coven has had dealings with on this side.” Alongside Derek, he followed Sen and Devon out of the tavern and into the alley nearby. This wasn’t his favorite but at least the clothes he wore were decent enough. When Sen opened the portal he watched as Devon stepped through, followed by Derek and then he stepped through knowing Sen would be right behind him.

When Gabe handed over the list, Devon looked it over and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  “The Simoa.. Pack Simoa are aligned with the Eriksson Coven.” The breath left the big Alpha a moment as he scanned down the names. There were so many and yet only a few that were familiar to Devon. The only other mention on the page that made him a bit nauseated was the last one. Dwellers… “Damned if they didn’t..” He looked Sen’s way. “Dwellers are used by a lot of folk, Sen. They help find things and they help people get lost.” His pain for his son grew tenfold. What did they have in mind for Terry? Would Izzy ever be found if Dwellers had been involved? 

Devon and his comrades waited in the courtyard for the greeting by his sire and his sire’s new mate. He knew it would be soon as the alarm had already been raised the moment they stepped through the portal. Instead of a polite greeting as expected, Devon was surprised when he was bumped out of the way by his own father.

Senias saw the wild Alpha recognize him and he knew what was coming. He pushed Gabriel off to the side, out of the way, and started to jog backwards – getting ready for the first hit. He’d fought with and against lycan for so many centuries that he understood how best to defend against them. Especially this one. This particular lycan had been a friend, until he could no longer be trusted as such.

Kieran was all over Senias and soon they were rolling across the ground exchanging punches, snarling and growling at one another.

What the hell was going on? Gabriel had been pushed back and his hand went to the slender but wicked dagger that Sen had insisted he wear. He looked at Derek, “We should stop this. I don’t want to get involved but I won’t let him hurt Sen.”

Sen slung Kieran, using the man’s own momentum against him. The draconic male licked a busted lip and bent, squatted and ready to burst into action at a moment’s notice. His eyes shimmered green, the pupils slitted as his draconic side showed through.

There was a loud, anguished howl of command from Devon that got both fighters’ attentions, as well as the attention of the entire pack nearby.

“Alright that’s enough!” Devon shoved himself between the two. Pulling his father away from his best friend,  Devon snarled with his lack of patience, “We aren’t here to fight with you! My pup, Terrance, was snatched yesterday and with him a female teacher. They were brought over here! I thought you might want to help find them!”

“And you brought that traitorous wretch here with ya?!” Kieran growled. His mind was still wrapping around the situation. What he did know was – “Yer a rat bastard, ya are!”

Senias stood up straight again, and watched the son hold back the enraged father. Gabriel was once again at his side while Derek and his sister, Twilight went one to each side of Kieran Weylyn, the old man was still as strong as ever. 

“I’ve been called worse.” The dragon took steps back. “Listen to your son, old man. LISTEN…” He knew the Alpha would want some licks. He knew he deserved them – at least in Kieran’s opinion and as his honor dictated.

“Get out of here, you back stabbin’ claw, and maybe then I can speak ta my son,” Kieran stopped trying and just growled a low warning. That’s when his mate took his hand and tugged him back.

Twilight held Kieran’s hand and jerked it roughly to shake him from the anger he had been overwhelmed by. She then stepped closer to him. If not for that anger she knew her mate would have approached differently and known something was wrong. After all, the last time Devon had been in this world had been for the battle that reclaimed the palace for their Pack and saw his sister sent to the fields with his nephew. He and his mate had taken the remaining children over with them to give them new lives and help repair the damage this world had done to them. Devon had said that he would never return and yet here he was.

“Kieran, your son is here seekin’ you out. Think about that before speakin’ again and riskin’ losin’ more than ya think.” Taking his bearded chin in her hand Twilight turned it so that Kieran was looking at Devon instead of at the draconic man.  

“Maybe I was mistaken!” Devon looked at Sen, “Take me back. We should be helping Russell and Ariessa track.”

“No, Devon.” Sen whispered. He would have, but he saw reality hit the elder lycan. So, he shook his head. It was at that time he felt Gabriel’s hand in his. He squeezed. He appreciated his kindred’s support. His more instinctual haze began wearing off immediately when he felt his love. Gabriel held his love’s hand and nodded to him. He had made the right choice. His hand pulled Sen back away from the father and son.

“Wait!” Wait…” Kieran shook his big head, braid and beads tinkling when he did. “My grandpups?” It was beginning to sink in. He’d never met them. What were they doing over here? “What happened?” The rage was ebbing, and the wolf’s reign within him diminishing. Especially when he felt Twilight touch his hand. “Why’s my grandpup here?”

With a sharp turn of his body Devon glared at his father and his wolf rippled to life just beneath the surface of his skin as his eyes glittered that fiery gold. It would be the first time his father had ever seen him like this.

“He’s not here by choice! They were out playing and the girl Isabel was teaching them about things in the woods. Eva was out there with them when at least three men broke through our barriers and defenses to grab them, but Terry…” There was a tremble to his voice as he spoke his sons name, “Terry protected them and put them some place safe along with his mama, but the attackers got him and Isabel. They brought them over here.” How long could his pup survive this world, he’d never been here and wasn’t used to the environment?

“Devon… son, I’m sorry. The wolf got the better of my senses. Last I saw the claw we were…”

Sen raised a brow at the elder wolf. Yeah. You could say it. Was he gonna say it?

“I don’t give a damn about what happened ages ago between you and the claw! I came over to find my son and his teacher! My son doesn’t know much about this place! He’s still not more’n a kid, Kieran! Yer grandson is out there with people who hate us!” Devon was both angry and disappointed.

Keiran took a deep breath and cleared his mind. No. He’d handle Morias later. Right now, they were all looking for his grandpup. And that was the incentive he needed to keep control.  

“Senias agreed to bring me here for your help, not for settling old debts.” Devon got closer to Kieran and he spoke deep and low, his eyes still shimmering, “Papa, let it go and help me figure out who has my boy.”

Kieran faced his eldest and nodded. He’d lost Devon’s older brothers to war and his younger to his own mind. He knew that pain and to see Devon going through it?

“We don’t have as many enemies over here as we once did, son. We’re gettin’ a seat on the Council over here, too.  I’ll do all I can to help, but – I don’t know who’d be dumb enough to try and take our pups like that. Not these days. That’s old school shit.”

“I don’t either.” Pushing a hand through his hair Devon muttered. “Last I was Alpha over here, we had problems with the felines – Dwellers have always been a problem for anybody – or a solution to some. Seems they might be involved.  No other lycan Packs have had problems with us until this last war with the three packs my brother-in-law sold out. So, I don’t know who has my pup.” His heart hurt for his boy and what he must be going through.

Keiran walked over and put his arm over his son’s shoulder. “You have my support. You know that. Dev, they targeted the pups. You don’t have those pups off packlands, do ya?” He turned his son toward Twilight and the living quarters of the palace. “Let’s think all this through. I don’t know much about your life on the other side, but I know schemin’ and trickery. I know how certain people work from over here. So, if you tell me and Twi what they went through to get Terry, tell me everything, maybe we can figure this out.”

While the others began to make their way inside from the courtyard, Senias, still holding Gabriel’s hand, felt the familiar mental speak from his apprentice. 

~ Essa’s lead panned out. I found Terry’s trail and the scent of another one. Fresh in town, he is. Trackin’ him now. ~ Russell  didn’t want his father back yet because it’d tip the guy off. He knew Sen would understand and hold off from bringing his dad back. Russ was hoping he’d be led right to his brother. It was a long stretch but he could at least hope for it. They had two trails to follow and there were two of them. 

~ We’re at the pack. Give me any clues you can. I’ll translate in a way that doesn’t have Devon busting in and fucking up. ~

~ Will do boss. ~ Russ tracked the man to the food vendors and then after buying several types of food as if uncertain what to get, he tracked him to the clothing mercantile. The scent was all over clothes Terry’s size. ~ He bought clothes for Terry.. light material and several canteens. Also grabbed several different types of food. Some raw and some cooked from vendors. They’re packing for a long haul. I don’t like it. The smell.. it’s strange…almost..almost cat like… ~ There was a slow rumble and Russell took off again to follow further. ~ We’re gonna keep tracking out of the city I’ll be in touch. ~

Senias had slowed, letting Gabriel lead him. But the conversation went on ahead of them.

“We found out it was through Eriksson Coven, the same as had mama and her original three pups,” Derek supplied so that his pops could gather himself. “They came back after one of those pups after the pack had taken him in. They went after mama and the others. but they couldn’t’ve done all that alone, not and get things handled over here, too.” 

“But, I thought Eva was… alone…” Kieran was confused. He’d bought her and a bear from the slavers that had set up shop in Iona that night… that very night that Devon had begged him. “She had pups?”

“Looks like maybe some catching up is in order?” Derek whispered.

“But I know some of the same packs that we stood against has trade with our enemies and the enemies of all others,” Kieran’s eyes narrowed. “Some of ‘em, they trade with lycan of other kinds, vampire, demons, dragons – even elven slavers. And what’s left of ‘em? They might have reasons ta do with revenge.”  

“Pack Simoan. The Director of Crimson on the other side? he gave us a list. And none of the other contacts looked familiar. I can read ’em off to ya. It’s in their common language. But that name? Yeah, it stood out.”  The thought made his guts knot up and once more Devon had to fight back the animal within him. “I need to find him.. Time ain’t on our sides in this. My boy is out there sufferin’ somewhere and I should be savin’ him from it.” He took a deep breath and his big body shivered from the restraint he was holding right then.

~ Don’t get caught, ~ Sen warned. ~We’re not sure if this is a special order or a ransom situation, yet. If they were purchasing just for him, it doesn’t smack of slave trade. So we can definitely mark that off the list. ~ He was relieved by that, to be honest. Slavers could dive underground with a quickness. A pup could get lost among all the other slaves being trafficked and never be seen or heard from again. That’s what worried the dragon about Izzy. Finding her was going to be like a needle in a haystack. At least he knew that the kidnappers wanted Terry, wanted to keep him alive, and wanted to keep him alive for a reason. Sen had been following along, but apparently had paused when he had tuned in further to his apprentice. Damn.

Turning to talk to Sen and realizing he was busy Devon had to ask, “What is it? Did Russ find something? He need help?” He was anxious and he was eager to get back on the trail!

“Russ? My other grand-pup is here, too?” Kieran was trying to follow the conversation. “How would he know all this?” His hand indicated Senias.

“He’s seen some things and smelled more.” Senias ignored Kieran. “He’s looking to the trail. It’s not time to go and mess that up right now. It might spook off the lead. Trust me, Devon. I’m in contact with Russell at all times.” He wasn’t going to completely explain anything if he didn’t have to. He felt like Keiran’s suggestion was sound.

“I know ya both have it right, but it’s my pup and not some strangers …”

“Look, your father and Twilight are the experts about people on this side. You need to speak with them. The last thing I want to do it run off half-cocked. If we don’t do this right from the beginning, we could lose Terry.  In my eyes, he;s blood, Devon. I’ve helped with his raising and I don’t want to lose him.  Your family is just now getting to completion. After all these years, I’m not about to let you lose another pup. Not like this.”  The tone of Senias’ voice was a bit lower than normal, he was trying not to scold Devon, but he was irritated that the man would think that he cared less for Terry.

Gabriel watched as Twilight stood with Kieran before Devon and Senias. They were all holding their breaths. And they all seemed to relax a bit once Devon nodded and turned to his father once more. 

“You’re right. We’ll stay and see what we can figure out while Russ tracks em.” His eyes were no longer shimmering, and on the verge of shifting. He got himself back into control. He needed to handle this for his son. And he needed to explain things to his father and get the best information he could out of the elder lycan. “Russell is an excellent tracker, and he’s been on this side a few times. Senias has been trainin’ my boy as a Tasker’s apprentice. He’s on the trail along with…along with his own dragon partner out there.” 

“Another claw?” Kieran took a deep breath.

“She’s got skills. And she’s been loyally tracking along with us, Kieran. I’ve known her and vouch for her, whether you accept that or not, I don’t care. Devon does.” Derek was done parceling words. He growled low and looked to Senias, “Maybe you should get us all up to date?”

“Here’s what I know based on what Russ has found out – They aren’t slavers. Not normal ones. They want to keep Terry fed and clothed. And it seems like he may be their only worry. Also… I’m gonna go with feline.”

“Okay then. Let’s get on inside. Let’s talk feline Packs that are in the area,” Twi offered up. Maybe all this extra tension could go away and clear heads would prevail, now. That was more to her liking. “I’ve heard of were-tiger and were-lion Packs movin’ into the area. There was some talk of some others on the other side of the city but nothin’ definitive.” She rumble softly at the servants and sent them for drinks.

As they moved inside, Derek hung back and caught Senias by the arm. The dragon turned to him.

“Anything on Izzy?” he asked, worry in his blue eyes.

“No. I’m afraid not. But Derek,” Sen was acutely aware of his fiance right there next to him as well. the girl was his cousin. “Let’s be honest here. Someone like Izzy? They’d see her as a bonus and also a problem. They’d get rid of her to slavers as soon as they could. She’s probably nowhere near Terry anymore. That means it’s another trail that needs to be followed.”

“Then it needs to be followed.”

“Shouldn’t you be able to feel her still? If so isn’t that traceable? And, what about the dragon?” Gabriel asked.

“No. She’s always held off. She held off with me, and she held off with him. I’m not sure why she won’t… you know… but… it just makes things more difficult, not impossible.” Derek was not giving up on his best friend. He’d promised her that he’d never give up on her. 

“So if not impossible tell me where we need to start looking for her over here Derek. I know nothing of this world, but Isabel is my cousin and I love her so I am willing to help any way I can.”

“We can go back to the first old city we came to. It looked deserted, a little camp town before we got to Portico. But, I guarantee there’s more than one trail. Places like that in these reaches? They’re perfect for slave trade that a lot of places wouldn’t allow. Portico, for one – they don’t allow the trade. They allow people to have slaves, but , anyway…” Derek could see that all of this definitely made Gabriel uncomfortable.  

Rubbing his forehead and then the bridge of his nose, Gabriel drew in a deep breath, “I don’t care to think of Izzy in the holds of slavers Derek.” How would Rose and Nathan take such news?

“I don’t want to think about it either. But it’s part of life here.” Derek moved onward with Gabriel. 

“It’s a disgusting part of life here. It should be stopped.” Gabriel sounded as sickened as he felt right then. They made their way into what looked like a main dining area, there was a big table and several smaller ones. There was also a circular fire pit in the center of the room, surrounded by stools and benches. The place was empty save for their crew and the Alphas at this point. Twilight and Kieran sat at the big table and Devon stood across from them. 

 “Dwellers..” He looked to Senias. “Eriksson’s used Simoan Pack, it makes sense. And to get things handled on this side, Dwellers. So that begs the question, which one holds Terry now?”

“Dwellers. Russ mentioned a feline scent. The Dwellers are a type of lycan that resemble our world’s cheetah. They’re hunters and scavengers here, and they’ve been pushed to the desert. There aren’t many of them left. Same with most feline lycan save lions. Just as Twilight confirmed.” Senias looked between them all. He could feel Gabriel’s discomfort and he could see Derek’s impatience written all over the lycan’s face. 

“Then we eliminate the rest?” Kieran asked.

“Russell and Ariessa are on it. Don’t fuck this up by running out there. They already had the feline part and the trail around the city. that list provided us with a secondary connection. You need to start closing in on Simoan activity that’s still happening out there. Track them with your well-trained scouts. Don’t make any full moves until we know for sure where Terry is. And you that can be recognized easily? You don’t need to show up anywhere until we’re ready. You show up, it’ll be obvious that we’re hunting them. Stay here. Reach out to those who can help, but keep it quiet. Do this right.” Senias turned toward the door.

“You leavin’ my son in the dirt like you left me, claw?” Kieran asked as he stood up, a low growl in his chest.

“No,” the dragon turned back around. His eyes were icy when he looked at the old Alpha. Whatever he’d felt for the man had long ago fled.  “I’m going to go and follow another trail. Terry’s not the only one that was nabbed. We’re going to go backward and see what we can find. Maybe one path can help us shorten the other.” Senias turned to look at Devon, the warmth returning when he did. “I will let you know, brother, what we find. I will be back.” Devon nodded one bow with his head to let Senias know that he was accepting things as they had been laid out. That acknowledgement was all that the draconic man needed. He motioned for Gabriel and Derek to follow him out, and they did just that. 

“Bro…” Kieran bit back the word and the bile in his throat. His eyes narrowed as they followed Senias out the door. Those same eyes turned to his son. “I believe, there’s a lot for us ta catch up on that we didn’t have a chance to catch up on before.”

“Oh yeah, quite a lot.”


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