It was a few hours before the small camp came into view in the distant tree line. Twilight wished they were back at the main camp, but right now this would work. She hoped that the others were doing well, one in particular. “We can join the camp and enjoy a good meal. The rest of the scouting party won’t be back until this evening. We’ll head off to the main camp once they get back here.”

“I want to go find Devon and …”  Derek didn’t get it out of his mouth before his sister was telling him otherwise.  

“Can’t let you do that brother. Everyone’s on edge and your party isn’t high on the trust list except maybe you and the Lady Inea.”

“Then where is Kieran? We need to see this all settled and done with.” Derek didn’t like Kieran not one bit, but he would deal with the big lycan if he had to.  

Twilight watched the tense way her brother moved when he spoke of the elder. “He’s not here. You will deal with me and once we reach the main camp you can speak to him.” She didn’t explain any further because it wouldn’t be the best at the time.

Largros let the couple, Inea and Dante, go in before him. He purposely made his way slowly, bringing up the rear. At all times, the younger dragon took in their surroundings and the number of lycan around them.  

“If you don’t relax, they won’t,” Inea whispered to the other dragon, using the Abyssal tongue.  

“They’re yet bloody from war. They’ll go feral easily. I’m not taking chances. I’m not being belligerent, but I don’t like not being ready,” Largros grumbled back to her in the same language, the tongue of the demonic realm.

With a look from Inea, Dante turned his gaze to hold Largros’ own as he grasped the draconic males forearm so that his palm made contact with bare skin, “Calm yourself, feel that we are all ready. Working yourself up won’t help the situation Largros.” He used Abyssal as well so as not to alert anyone that anything was going on. He’d leech emotion off of him if need be. All he’d need was a word from Inea.

~ Just a little. It won’t hurt either of you. ~ Inea gave her permission for it. Largros was a capable warrior and a fine asset to them here, but not if he was too much on-edge.  

Dante watched the dragons reaction as he drew some of the strong, potent energy from him. It wasn’t enough to hurt him, would make him feel good and maybe take him from that tense edge a little.

The male dragon looked at Dante with a bit of surprise. That had felt good. He hadn’t expected such a thing to feel good. But, he jerked his hand away, nonetheless.  His glare at Inea was one to behold.  He knew she had ordered it.  

“Be calm or I’ll have him put you on your ass. That would be embarrassing for all of us, Largros.” Inea warned.

The other dragon huffed, but rested himself against one of the trees within the camp.  He felt a bit…tipsy.

Derek came back to his friends.  

“Are you okay? They’re offering us food and clean water if you have need of anything,” he looked around at the camp and sighed. “I never thought I’d see something like this again.”   

Pulling his watch back out, Dante opened it and looked at it. He turned and held it up to catch the light. The dials inside spun left and then right before finally settling to a stop. ~Three days until a double full moon, we need to not be in the middle of Pack lands during that if possible love.~ Before Derek could get a good look at it he snapped it closed and tucked it back into his pocket, “ A hot meal and some drink sounds good right now.” He took Inea’s hand again and started farther into the camp. “Come on Largros, even you have to eat. Besides they’re less likely to attack if you’re shoving food in your mouth.”

The dragon looked doubtful, but he took a deep breath and followed along.  Derek shook his head. This was as much as he could do for now. Not unless he sent the dragons to help Devon… It was something he could consider, to be sure. His mind was ablaze with strategy as he walked back into the heart of the camp with the rest of his party.

Derek wound up having to speak to several of the lycan as he walked through. Some recognized him and others caught on soon enough. Many began to be friendly to him and more curious of his other-worldly pals. Some of the older ones recognized Inea as well.  

“You don’t change as much as we do!” one of them laughed before holding out his arm to her. She had to let go of Dante to return the grasp. The older lycan was quite happy to have proper dragons on their side once again. Inea simply nodded before taking a few bites of the meat she had been given.  

When he had the chance, Derek caught Dante’s gaze and he placed two fingers to his temple, indicating that he wanted to mind speak.  Since Inea was keeping the others busy with her company, it was easier to see if the half-demon could and would do so.  

~ What is it that you need?~ Dante easily connected mentally with the lycan as he watched Inea be greeted warmly by several of the older lycan.

~ Wait until there are fewer lycan around. Take Inea and Largros. Go to Devon. I don’t like this. I don’t like him being out there and us having to wait on Kieran before going to help him. ~  

He had a slow smile on his lips as he listened to what Derek had to say that he didn’t want the others to hear him say. ~Alright, we’ll see to your Alpha while you tend things here. ~

Twilight was kept busy receiving reports from the scouts as they returned and made arrangements for their guests to bed down in one of the tents overnight. She did grab her food and make her way to her brother. “While the camp is settling come and sit with me so we can talk.”

Derek walked with her, happy to keep her mind off of his comrades for now. He hadn’t eaten and could care less about waiting in line. He’d get whatever he got at the end.  Right now, he wanted to catch up with Twilight and maybe find out more about what was going on.

Making his way to the tent they were to use, Dante looked towards his lady so that she would follow. ~ We need to take off and go see about that Alpha. Before you ask, it was Derek’s idea. ~

Largros followed the other two carrying a baked roll from the makeshift ovens nearby for each of them. “Then are we to relax the night in our own tent?” he spoke it normally and waited for Angelus to open the tent for both he and Inea to enter. He walked past them to the makeshift floor mats. Turning back to them, he could tell something was afoot. ~ What? You both look like you’ve eaten innocent farm animals. ~

Dante grinned, “Yes, we are meant to be relaxing in here for the night while we wait for this Keiran to arrive.” The demon exchanged a look with his lover before answering the rest of what the other dragon said, ~ If I were eating innocent farm animals I would definitely be enjoying it. We need to check on Devon. ~ He wasn’t going to lie.

~ Who will have Derek’s back? ~

~ He doesn’t need our help. These are his people. If anything, our presence complicates things. ~ Inea replied. ~ Devon’s safety was the reason we came over. Derek is giving us a chance to see to it. ~

~ True. I suppose I was just looking forward to more of this bread, ~ Largros bit the top of the roll and ripped the thing with his teeth before taking it into his mouth to devour. His gaze moved to Dante.  ~ Maybe I’ll get some as a reward after we’re done? ~

~ Perhaps. ~ Dante held his hand out to his lover. She knew which direction they’d need to go to find the Alpha. ~ Come. We need to be going. ~ He waited on Largros to grasp his other arm before using his shadow-control to take them from the camp to the place where Inea was thinking of.

 

****

 

Though her brother thought he was being sly, Twilight had seen the pair disappear with the younger dragon and never re-emerge. She doubted her brother would ever just do as he was told. He never had before. That was why he wound up under the tutelage of Devon and Keiran as a young warrior. Their father had become fed-up with his antics. She sat with Derek and ate while listening to everyone share stories. Her gaze shifted over to him as she offered him a canteen of water, “Did ya really come over here for me too or just following Devon?”

“I didn’t want to leave you the first time, Twi. But mama disappeared with you. There was no tracking her. Not when there was only one trip to be made. Then, I got word that you were fine from not just you and her but another trusted source. I remember you’d been scared about going through. So I left ya be. But when I got word of war, I had to come and find you. I would’ve come through whether Devon had or not.” Derek was being honest. He had gone to Devon first, and when the man had left without taking him, too… Derek had immediately been looking into alternatives. He just hadn’t asked Mira yet because he didn’t want her to think that was why he was around her. He didn’t want her to think he was using her.

Light blue eyes that matched their father’s own turned to settle on him as she studied and weighed him for the truth before giving her own part to the story. “This war has been goin’ on for a good long while Dare, so why rush to stop it now? I mean, when mama brought me to Pack Saba things were just stirrin’ up.”  

Derek didn’t want to face his answer right at that moment. It was stirring up things he didn’t want to think about. “When did she bring you to pack Saba, Twi? Why?”  he asked. Their pack had supposedly been under protection and melded with Pack Weylyn once his dad had died and he had joined with Devon. So why?

“When Devon started teachin’ you more about runnin’ the Pack. She lost it after papa and then you drifted away.. She thought maybe I was a curse to her and so she brought me over to Pack Saba to mate off to their Alpha.”

Derek looked down. He’d never known about any of this. Yeah, he knew their mama wasn’t all there after their father had been killed, everything had gone to shit, to be honest. That’s why he’d taken to spending time with Devon more.

“I’m sorry, Twilight. I should have paid more attention.” Derek felt horrible. But then, he considered where they were and he had to ask. “So, you didn’t allow it. You’re here instead, so…?” Derek studied his sister. “What happened?”

“Kieran happened.” Twilight glanced at the empty tent she shared with her mate and then at her brother as she explained. “I wasn’t given a choice. Mama arranged it and so I was there waitin’ to be mated. A fight breaks out and in walks the old Alpha as if he owns the place.”

Derek’s head canted to the side. Kieran? Doing something good? Sure, he’d been a hell of a fighter, but he was never one for being…

She smiled and her eyes twinkled with love, loyalty and pride. “He was fierce and to some he was frightenin’, but to me.. oh brother, to me he was breath takin’. See, he’d heard that the Alpha for the Saba’s was to be mated and Kieran felt he didn’t need another mate. Especially not the daughter of his brother in arms. He told Saba that they’d have the loyalty and protection of Weylyn, but the Alpha had to give me back.”  Twilight smiled.

“So you came back and he trained as a warrior? His partner as Alpha?” it wasn’t unheard of. Two Alphas… Derek hoped that was what it was.  

“I came back, but I was already bein’ trained while I was at Saba. Their style is what is my basic technique. He has only retrained me in other techniques over the years. I’ve also taught him a thing or two.” Twilight’s smile actually became warmer. She missed her mate.   

“No.” Derek’s eyes were clouded with storms. Kieran.

“Yes,” Twilight replied before taking another drink. She let the cup rest in her lap. “We’re mates, Derek. We both wanted that. We wanted each other.”

Kieran Weylyn was mated to his sister? The old Alpha that had drank himself under rocks and had let his pack go into such a disarray that his son had challenged him just to be sure the pack survived? The brother in him wanted to challenge this completely! But he’d failed her. He’d failed her and so his sister had come to this? He stood up from his seat and turned to pace, his hand moving over his rough jaw.  

“I know what you’re thinkin’ brother, it’s all over ya face. He’s not that man anymore and there’s more to all that then ya know. He’s a good man and he’s been nothin’ but a loyal and true mate to me. So if ya think to start trouble with him then ya best think again.” Twi’s own blue eyes glittered protectively. She loved Derek, but she loved Kieran, too and she wouldn’t see either of them come to harm at the others hands.

“But with everything that was happenin’ between our packs and the hatred? He acted like he wanted me dead and he celebrated when our papa died saving his sons!” Derek growled. “Did he take you just to piss on papa’s pyre?”

“Dare, I don’t know how his mind works, and maybe in the beginnin’ it was to spite our papa. I hate ta think that. But I won’t deny it.” she couldn’t help the hurt expression. “Maybe it is also because he’s attracted to me and now because he loves me.” She swallowed. “I definitely love him. And if he’s acting… he’s damned good at it. From what I was always told, when it came to Kieran Weylyn, what you saw was what you got. He’s never been a liar. He’s never been a pretender. He’s not perfect, but none of us are. Even your own Alpha has his shames in his past don’t ya think?” Twi’s brow lifted in that perfect arch.

“I don’t buy it.” Derek crossed his arms over his chest, a frown on his face.

Looking towards the fire she sighed, “It’s not my place to tell you his answers and his story. If you cannot just accept that I am happy with my mate, you have right as my closest relative to ask him about everything when he gets here.” Twi smiled at her brother again, “Now sit back down and tell me about you. What have ya been up to? Are ya still trainin’ under Devon? Are ya mated? Have pups? I’m eager to hear what I’ve missed.”

Derek couldn’t deny his younger sister. She was all he had left of blood relations save a crazy mama… so far as he knew their mother was still alive anyway.  And she was correct. It wasn’t her place to answer for Kieran.  He walked back to the tree and sat looking over at her.  

“I’m leaving the pack lands when we get back. Devon – and I agree – we uh… I feel like I’ve learned all I can, Twi. I’m feelin’ that itch ta go and find my own way. If it leads me back to the pack, so be it. If not?” Derek shrugged.

There was no masking the surprise at this announcement. Derek had been Devon’s shadow since he was old enough to walk so hearing him say he was leaving the man’s side was shocking. She wondered what had brought this on, but then he answered her curiosity with his next words.

“I don’t got a mate or pups, but I think I’ve found someone special to my heart. Problem is, she ain’t lycan.” Seemed being full of surprises might be something he and his sister had in common.

There was a low whistle, “Not lycan? And what’s ya Alpha’s say about that? Ya know lycan ain’t keen on minglin’ with other races.”

“Yeah, he ain’t keen on it. It’s why I don’t think I want ta be near the pack while I work things out in my head and my heart.” Derek’s eyes regarded his sister. “Not you, too? After droppin’ the magic you just did on me?”

Twi held her hand up to stave off her brothers irritation, “Whoa, I’m not judgin’ ya. I expect to meet her, though. Besides, I know that you can take care of yourself. But what about any pups ya have? Think how hard it’ll be on them not really fittin’ in to either world. It’ll be hard on ‘em for sure.”

“And we’ll be there to teach ‘em everything about both worlds and to make ‘em strong so they don’t rely on either world for everything,” Derek answered a little too quickly. It showed that he’d already thought things through, that far. He kind of surprised himself with his response!  That was it, then. He knew what he had to do. And he knew it’d be the first time he’d ever stepped away from his pack.  

In a show of tenderness and caring towards her brother, Twi’s hand moved to rub his back and then rest on his shoulder in sympathy, “Dare..” What could she say to make this better? There really wasn’t anything that could be said to make it easier. Lycan were raised by ages old traditions and there had never been any kind of change that had been truly accepted by the Elders. And defying the Elders had never really been done. If the Elders turned their back on you then the Pack followed suit. So far there hadn’t been an Alpha powerful enough to draw the Pack from the Elders decisions. Would there ever be?

“It shouldn’t be that way, ya know?” Derek whispered. “Pack is pack. It’s something I never understood – banishment. Even Kieran, ya know? If pack is pack, why not help the ones that need it? Why forsake our friends just because they’re not lycan? They all still have to survive in a world that don’t want ‘em or understand ‘em half the time. Even Dev allows it for friends, right? Look at Scales.”

“No it shouldn’t be.” Twi stood up and moved to seek them out to mugs of ale and returned to hand one to him. “Who knows, maybe Eva will sway Dev and he’ll stand up to the Elders for ya. You’ve always had such faith in him that he could do anything right?”

Derek nodded. “And yet, here I am agreeing to come through the portals to help Devon, as if he needs my help. Even when I know his feelings on Mira, I’m here to help my alpha… my second father…” Derek shook his head.  

“That’s because you’re my honorable brother, Derek.” Twilight heard several footsteps coming their way. She  got up, her brother following suit.

There was a whistle and a scout came bounding up to the private firelight meeting. “The three packs got together. They’ve left a forward line, but it’s nothing. Kieran said take ‘em out, but he’s movin’ to defend the palace. The underground tunnels – Twilight. He thinks they’ve been breached.”

“Damn…” Twilight stood up, finished her ale and set the mug back down. “Call the others, we need to pack up camp. The forward line’ll need leadership. Especially if Kieran went the opposite path.”

“I’m with you. My group’s already gone closer in. Hope you don’t mind that. Maybe they can help Kieran out as well as Dev…”  The expression on her face was priceless. Yeah, she already knew the game. So Derek just buttered her up. “Warriors together, finally?” He chuckled. Yeah, she was definitely his equal if not his better. He realized then just how proud he was of his baby sister. He’d helped her learn how to walk and talk, for Goddess’ sake. And here she was, telling him where he could put it and making him understand things he never thought he’d have to.  

“Dragons could’ve been useful, but we can do this. Besides, these are wronged people,” she paced while reasoning things out in her mind. “They fight honorably. They fight the Weylyns that brought scourge to their lands, not the true pack. We need to teach them the difference. At the same time keep ‘em off of Kieran and the palace.” How could they make it back in time, though?

“Wanna try the tunnels? Let ¾ of your men defend the front and finish taking it, while we grab your best sneaks and head down through Mirren’s Gap into the back tunnel entrance?” Instead of taking over, he was respecting her decision on his suggestion. He’d do as Twilight felt was best for this situation.

“And here I thought you were honorable?” Twilight smirked.

“Being a good strategist don’t make me less honorable, sister. We take the tunnels and we can get to the front line quicker, we can keep these lycan from hitting Kieran’s backside, we can drive ‘em back topside and hold the line, maybe even overtake the battle.”

“True,” she was considering his suggestion.

“You and me? We know those tunnels like the back of our hands.” They had grown up training in those tunnels and playing in them and using them to go between their own pack home and the Weylyn Palace. Who knew that they’d be used like this?  

“Sounds like a good plan.” Tilting her head back she gave three short howls and one long one. A minute later she received a response in the form of three short howls from two different directions. As she tied her long hair back at the base of her neck, Twilight started off in a slow jog before making one long jump and shifting to her white wolf form. In this form they’d make faster time and get into position before those inside the tunnels realized what was happening.

Derek was right along side of her and when she shifted, so too did he. His silvery brown furred form seemed darker when seen alongside Twilight. Her coloring was unusual, just like… like Devon’s brother’s coloring. Hardly ever did you find a lycan that was a solid color. And there were two within their neighboring packs. Too bad one wasn’t here to fight for those packs.  

As they made their way running through the forest, Twilight would make different sounds that Dare recognized. They were picking up their hunting pack. Soon, one then two then four then seven then ten or more huge lycan wolves were hurrying with them toward the hidden passage to the tunnels beneath pack lands. They had a mission and no one was likely to stop them.

 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018