Almost a week later Russell finally had it. His family was losing hope and now he’d done it! He had located the whereabouts of his little brother. He hadn’t been able to focus on Isabel as his family came first. The attackers were in an old mine shaft at the base of the mountain called burning hills for where it was. This was the worst place for his brother to be on this part of this world. He knew at least two were inside, but he hadn’t seen the third one at all since arriving. He was certain that Terry was inside after he’d torn through the rest of the places he had checked. The place was the worst out of all of them. It was at least a days ride through dry, desert that was accompanied by no water holes, very little sustainable food and ungodly heat that wicked the moisture from your body. He actually sent a silent prayer to the Goddess that his brother be alright. After five days he feared the worst.
Now as he watched the were-feline enter the mine entrance to disappear he called out to his mentor, ~ I got em’! I know where they’re hidin’ out. ~ Russ sent images. He didn’t go further without backup.
“We’ve got ‘em!” Senias called out from the deep sleep he’d been in. He blinked and looked around to process where the hell he was. A rented room. Gabriel was next to him and Derek in the chair across from them. Using Derek’s nose and focusing Gabriel’s energy into a spellwork, they had come across the sands to find themselves right in the center of the map – the dragon-run city of Iona. This was where Avery had been found by Ashley not so long ago. Now, it seemed that her sister’s trail led here.
“Well, it’s about time,” Derek muttered. “We’re close enough to Izzy that I can almost feel her. Maybe we’ll get the both of them out of here.”
“That’s the problem. This is happening all at one time. And we can’t be two places at once.” Senias looked to Derek.
“While you were sleeping, I was thinking of different ways inside. We need Largros, unless you can be our pass to get in? The auctions happen tonight and if Izzy is here, she might be in it, right? What if Derek goes in as your slave? Wouldn’t that be common with dragons on this side? I could wait here for you to return with her and we could all leave together.” Gabriel was watching his dragon. Was he carrying on with two different conversations?
“Rash knows so many. He’d know me. He’d definitely know I don’t deal in slaves,” Senias looked at himself in the mirror and moved his fingers through his hair. “Besides, I don’t want you left alone without protection near.”
“I’ll be fine here, Sen. I don’t think this world is going to kill me in the short time it takes for the auction to occur.” Gabriel tried a smile for Sen, “Derek needs in there and he needs someone with a steady head on his shoulders. They won’t let me walk in, I’m only human.”
“If she’s going up, Derek can handle it. If not, Largros can spare some time if he gives a fuck about your cousin. How long ago was it he was supposed to meet up with us?”
“Today, he should be meeting us today. I believe it was a few hours from now why?” Gabriel was pouring himself water when Sen reacted to an obvious mental message.
“He’s…” Senias stood up straight and closed his eyes. His breathing was hitched as he listened to what Russ had to say.
~ Wait.. something’s happening here. Senias damn it! I need ya here! ~ Below there was a wagon approaching and the Dwellers were coming out to see what was going on. While he didn’t know the male that exited he rumbled, ~ Fuck… lycan are here…here with the Dwellers. None look too pleased right now. ~
~ You need me to bring a distraction is what you need. How many are there? Can Essa get behind them and block them off from the inside… you said last time it was a cave – still the same place? You’re getting excited and not giving me the details, apprentice. I need details. I need to know where I’m going. I need to know what to do. ~
“What’s going on Sen? Do we need to do something?” Gabriel looked Derek’s way and saw the lycan preparing himself.
“We’re needed right now. Isabel will be handled, Gabriel. Right now, we need to get out to the Dweller’s cave Terry’s in. We need to keep them distracted and out of that damned cave so we can get that pup from them. Get your desert gear on, now.”
It was quick then as he moved to pull things on while talking to Derek, “Meet with Largros and set up a plan to get Izzy. We’ll return as soon as we can, but if we aren’t back by the time you need to leave then go with him and we’ll find you afterwards.” He was snapping and buckling things into place.
“How exactly am I supposed to find that damned dragon in the middle of the market and arena paths on auction night?” Derek was growling under his breath already.
“You’ll figure it out,” Senias was getting perturbed by the way this one whined. Yes, he was away from his pregnant mate, yes he was upset about his previous lover’s circumstance, but dammit, there was a time to explode and it wasn’t now. The dragon was keeping track of actions and events in two different places and he wasn’t whining.
~Eight lycan.. I think one’s an Alpha. What the fuck is goin on here? I see.. Looks like they have three vampires with ‘em. ~ Russ shared his sight with Senias so that he didn’t have to describe any further. There was snarling and as Russ watched, the vampires killed the Dwellers only before turning to the lycan and actually bowing to the Alpha.
~ We got Alphas of our own, and they’ve been itching to fight. Get behind them, Russ. Stay out of attack range. Let Essa pull her tricks to get to the entrance. And I’ll portal directly to you with back-up… distraction. ~
Blinking Russ looked Essa’s way, “Time for a distraction. I’ll run this way and you can get behind them into the mines while they chase me. Sen is on the way, we just gotta buy him some time. I won’t get caught, just make sure no one gets into the mines. My brother’s there and ya need to protect him from them.”
“I’ll do everything I can.” She nodded at him, but before he could go, she grabbed him by the sleeve and tugged him in for a good kiss. “There. For luck. It’s cliche, but I figure we both needed it.” With a quick smile, she took off running down the back side of the dune they had settled on.
What the hell was that? Licking his lips he could still taste her and that made him grin. On to the suicide mission portion. Time to get his brother back!
Sen had gone directly to Devon’s mind to let him know to get everyone ready.
~ We’ve got ‘em. I need to get to you and then we need to portal to Russ. We need to attack. They’ve got the Alpha out there and fangs – they’re taking out loose ends. ~ Devon would know what that meant. And he’d know to get everyone ready RIGHT NOW.
Devon gave the howl that would get the others ready. He knew he could trust them to prepare for their return and those on the trail to the hills would know to make haste to their target. Pack Simoa had been a thorn in their side for years. Now they would take out the Alpha and warriors to disband the Pack into nothing.
Shifting forms Russell took off running up wind and let the others catch his scent. He knew he could outrun them, he just needed to do it long enough. ~Now Essa! They are on my tail!~ He was running and could feel them not far behind him.
Essa rounded the corner to go into the cave, and even made it in a few yards before she felt like she’d been bit by electricity and she was shoved back out. She hit the sandy earth on her rump and shook her head to get the ringing to stop – or she tried.
She turned to her stomach see someone coming toward her. “No…” She pushed her hands down into the sand and shifted into her dragon form. When the unfortunate half-vampire skidded to a halt, he was met by the steaming hot breath of a water-dragon.
~ They got something keeping me out. I think it’s… it’s set against supernaturals. Or at least water-dragons, and how would they ever know I’d be here? ~
~ Barrier spell.. How’d they get that? We had to have two dragons to cast one for Uncle Gareth. ~ Russell felt the shift of the air behind him and knew that Senias was opening a portal.
Behind Russell, the sound of a powerful portal opening could be heard. The Alpha of Pack Simoan halted in his tracks and those around him stopped their chase of the wiley rogue lycan that had been out there.
Out stepped a full batalion of Pack Weylyn warriors, led by not one, but two Alphas. Kieran came forward first, “I would have words! My son comes to speak with the cowardly swine who would harm his pups and his mate! Who of you would parley!?” It was a show. He had no desire to talk unless it got them closer to Terry and the girl. He just wanted to keep them busy. Hell, maybe Devon would learn something out of them. His son had the floor once that Alpha that was shaking in his boots spoke up.
“You”ve come all the way out here to parley?” The lycan male walked around the carriage to come into view. It wasn’t the Alpha after all, it was the Beta of Pack Simoa. “We don’t parley anymore! We want our lands back! You took everything from us! So we want to take everything from you!”
Devon rumbled as he looked the male over. Taking a deep breath Devon moved closer as he rumbled low, “Where’s ya Alpha?”
He tried to stand tall before the much larger Alpha. As he looked up into the golden eyes, the Simoa Beta could see his death.
“What of the boy?” Devon’s body and face showed signs of partially shifting as he snarled again. It had been a week and that in Dev’s book was too long. As he stepped closer and watched the Beta unconsciously take a step back Devon canines gnashed together. “Fuckin’ coward, ya better hope my pup is alive.”
Devon grabbed him by the shoulders as the others rushed past him to start fighting all of the others. “I want ya to watch and then take word back to yer Alpha. Tell him the Alpha of Pack Weylyn is meeting his challenge – a challenge made when he got involved in this. I expect his answer to be delivered to our palace.”
The portal closed as the last of the Weylyn warriors left them, when Senias stepped back through. He was now on his way, portal opening once again, to the area further up, closer to the cave opening. He kept… hitting something. He tried opening a portal four times before he actually was able to complete the process. Gabriel stepped through first and then him. They were met by the dragoness.
Senias growled and looked back toward the big hill made from volcanic movement. “What is that sound?”
“I don’t know. It’s… a ringing sound… I couldn’t get in. I got pushed backward Lord Senias.” Ariessa shook her head and moved up just a bit. Then she shifted again.
“A barrier and the ringing… it’s got to be set up – a ward of some kind against anybody that would try to go in.” He looked at Gabriel.
“What’s going on? I don’t hear anything.” Gabriel moved past them and started inside the cave. He passed through the barrier and then looked at Sen, “Which way are we going?”
“We can’t go, Gabriel. You’re the only one who can make it. There’s some sort of barrier against supernaturals in play. You’re human, you happen to have gifts. Get your blade out and let your instincts lead you. Maybe we’ll still be able to communicate. But remember, I can’t come to you.” Senias didn’t like this at all. But, he knew Gabriel would do this, because his kindred was brave and because a child was involved… a child of his loved ones in the pack.
Gabriel took a deep breath. For once, he was on his own…
He cautiously walked further in and when the choice of left or right came up, Gabriel went left as he followed his gut feeling. He moved through the walkways and paths. It was a twist of tunnels, lefts, rights, it seemed never ending. The heat was intense as it poured from the walls, ceiling and floor and made breathing difficult to those not used to it. It almost felt like the air was scorching its way to the soft lung tissue with every breath. He could already feel his skin dampening and it didn’t help when he had to stop at random times for dwellers to move past them. The closer he drew to the central compound, the fewer there were… which was odd. That’s when he saw the bodies. Several of the humans – they looked human – they were dead on the ground in a pile in the central chamber. Then, there was a hybrid lupus trudging past with two bodies over his shoulder to add to the pile. Sen had been right. The pack responsible was tying up loose ends.
~ They’re killing the Dwellers and piling them up in here. ~ Gabriel was speaking to his dragon and hoping that Sen could hear him. ~It’s hard to breathe.. ~ His heart was pounding and racing away in his chest.
Outside, Ariessa and Senias each moved to the side of the cave entrance as several of the shifted Dwellers went running past. They had no interest in anything right there – they were after others or… they were running. And they were very fast! Senias had been right – the four of them looked like huge cheetah.
Both dragons looked at one another. The fewer inside the better…
~ Four dwellers just ran out of here. Your enemy may have some enemies on their way from behind… I think your Simoa really are killing off their witnesses. ~
Kieran and Twilight each took a flanking position, shifting easily into their hybrid forms. The warriors they had with them did the same. They had left two scouts up on the dunes above – to be sure this wasn’t a double cross. To be honest, it seemed too easy. But then again, these Simoa Pack seemed prepared for a slaughter, not for someone ready to fight.
There was a growl from Twilight as she raced and pounced on the first one that came their way. They traded punches and scratches up until she latched onto his shoulder. At that point Twilight had the upper hand and kept it as she clawed at her opponents throat until there were nothing but shredded remains.
In the midst of battle, she looked Kieran’s way to smile viciously before wiping her face with a bloody palm. The red streaks looked like camouflage on her face and it didn’t bother Twilight at all. She went on to the next enemy knowing that her mate would hold his own well enough.
The Dwellers that came out, didn’t tangle with the Weylyn lycan… they went after those of Pack Simoa. Unfortunately, for all of their swiftness, if they got caught by a lycan hit, they didn’t easily get up.
Kieran had hit and thrown another of the warriors over his shoulder for his pack fighters to enjoy. Seeing a fight between one of the felines and a half-turned Simoa coming up, the Alpha growled and took off running. He slammed his weight full-force into the lupus and then turned on crunching bone to look at the feline. The dweller hissed and backed up. He then coughed blood out of his mouth, his hand covering his chest – a hole was there from the long-bow arrow. The light left his eyes and his blood covered the sand.
~ “ARCHERS!” ~ Kieran let them all know immediately. After all, he had dragons that could help with that…
Meanwhile, inside, Gabriel turned from the carnage of seeing so many fresh bodies and took a deep breath. Unfortunately, he found it made him need to cough, the air in here was so damned thick. As soon as he did, there were growls from below.
He withdrew the dagger and prepared himself for whatever was coming. After one more deep breath Gabriel made his move.
Rounding a corner, he found himself face to face with a girl – a Dweller – the look of surprise in her eyes matched that of Gabriel’s current surprise. He felt liquid on his hand as he realized the knife was in her diaphragm. Instead of attack, she backed up, grimacing.
~”Oh God.”~ He had never actually used the thing. To be honest he hadn’t meant to use it now, but she was where he hadn’t expected anyone to be. He didn’t expect what came next.
The lycan from pack Simoa were behind Gabriel with a swiftness, their grunting and growling as they made their way up the side chamber told him they knew and were after him. The girl grabbed his shoulder and motioned for him to go to the left. She moved behind him and shifted – ready to defend.
Around the next corner was a room to itself, the doorway left open. Lying in the middle in this world’s clothes and surrounded by what looked to be charms and amulets and empty bowls… a blanket…not that one would use such in these heated rooms – was the red-headed Weylyn boy, Terry. He was 16, but he looked so frail right then… The poor thing didn’t even wake up and that frightened Gabe. He scooped Terrance up and turned back towards the doorway. The dead weight was tough.
The sounds of snarling and fighting came from the halls outside of the cell. And then there was a whine and a whimper. The hissing that followed had Gabriel sucking in breaths. He still had the dagger. But then, the girl came back around the corner and motioned for them to follow her. They would be going in a different direction from whence he had entered. What should he do?
She paused waiting on Gabriel. When his eyes gave off a soft greenish glow, she smiled and touched her eye before pointing to him. Then, she motioned once again for him to follow her. He did.
They moved through hallways, she was fast, especially since he was carrying dead weight of an adolescent lycan in his arms. But she never got far enough ahead that she lost him. And then, she stopped and pointed around to their cave – surroundings. It was heating up. Gabriel could feel his skin – it tingled as if he were getting a sunburn. Terry was still. It was getting harder to breathe, and he felt as if they were going deeper into the hill. If she were trying to kill them, she was on a good start. But then they were standing before a door and his gaze narrowed on her.
She pointed to the doorway in front of them, moved her hand in a circular motion and then pushed her palm forward. She looked at Gabriel and nodded as if he would understand. There was no barrier here… she knew what he was… or who he could bring… she nodded again and pushed her palm out to the door.
With a nod of his head Gabriel reached out to Sen as his head swam. He knew he was sunburnt as his skin tingled and yet he continued to clutch the youth to him. ~ Sen.. try portaling to me.. It’s too hot Sen.. I have him.. Hurry please..~