Though they had never gotten to battle and work together much as pups, Derek and Twilight were a force to be reckoned with when fighting the lycan of Simoa Pack. The tunnels were being swept by them, the dragon, Largros and the rest of their scouts who had finally made it back around to join in.  They rarely split up, preferring to fight back to back. They finished off another set of enemy, rendering them all unconscious or dead before chaining them. Then, they both headed back to a larger chamber where they could catch more of their own army, moving into the tunnels to join in on the fun.

 “We have three tunnels to clear still. Five down those two and we’ll take Largros and clear the third one. Meet back here in this chamber when ya done.”

The lead lycan nodded and with some growling and head moves, they all had decided who was going where and took off, shifting as they went.

There were only a few enemy lurking down each tunnel as if trying to wait things out. They were made quick work of or they surrendered. Those that surrendered were tied up and brought to the big chamber in the middle where Largros had earlier fricasseed their elders. 

When they all met up once again in the center cavern, Twilight asked Largros, “Can you burn each tunnel and collapse the end so it can’t be used again? I just want the single tunnel and this chamber to remain when we are done.”

“If that’s what you want, warrior woman, that’s what you get,” Largros smiled brightly. “But it’ll take a while. Why don’t you leave me here to finish handling this.  Send some of your men back to the front of the tunnel with the prisoners. You take your brother and the others and go for the palace. I can even cast a portal that can get you to the underground tunnels, there. Dante and I made sure they were swept as we came. You can gather us and your other men supplies. And you need to be sure your family’s safe.” His eyes moved between the two siblings.

“I think it’s time, Twi. Don’t you?” Derek asked. He was still showing his respect, leaving it up to her. Of course, she could definitely tell that he wanted to go and be sure Devon was okay. He imagined she wanted to be sure Kieran was well, too. They had no idea what was happening back there. No one was chatting them up mentally – and that had Derek worried.

Looking between the two men, Twi nodded her agreement. She wanted to see the job finished, but trusted the dragon to complete it. She really wanted to see her mate and put hands on him to know that he was safe and well. That was something she hadn’t been able to do in well over a week’s time. “A portal would be appreciated, thank you Largros… for everything.”

“My pleasure,” the dragon placed his hands together and then pushed on outward to create a door-sized portal for the two. “Do me a favor and tell the demon I could use his help. You know, if his dragon will let him off his leash.” His smile was nothing but wicked.  

“We’ll do that.” Twilight nodded and with her brother she stepped through the portal to reach the palace.

************

Devon had taken on the very lycan he had appointed as Alpha. It was heartbreaking to see how low power had brought the creature. While his father, Kieran had taken on the guards, he was faintly aware of the demon, Dante being in the room. He was dealing with the elven magic user that had helped turn pack against pack. By his brother-in-law’s stupidity, so many had been turned to slavery that did not deserve it. Once this mess was cleared up – so much had to be done to fix it all. But in that moment – when he was shoving his clawed hand up into Ethan’s ribcage to rip out the scoundrel’s heart – all Devon could think about was his mate, and how he’d promised her that he’d return unscathed. He was falling, already badly wounded, and falling, watching Ethan’s eyes go dead, and falling… 

“Devon!” Kieran yelled – nearly howled as he saw his son fly out the window with Ethan. He wasted no time in hitting the staircase to get down there to the side yard of the castle. He’d already lost a son to the inner beast. If he didn’t lose Devon to that fall, he had to be sure the boy’s wolf was still held at bay.

There wasn’t an inch of him that didn’t hurt, but slowly the pain was actually beginning to have a numbing effect. At the sound of others coming, Devon rolled his head to the side. He turned onto an arm, and coughed, his chest rattling and spit blood out of his mouth. There was a rough smile on his lips as he looked up at his father and the sorceress, “Eva is gonna be so pissed…”

“No she won’t, son.” Kieran chuckled as he bent over hands on his knees to catch his breath. “You still alive. That’s all that’ll matter to ya mate.”  

The dragoness looked out toward the Pond. She sighed and her expression went from relieved to saddened. “There is still much to deal with. The palace it taken back. Let us gather there to heal and collect ourselves, shall we?”

“Did any of ‘em make it Inea?” Devon asked as he carefully sat up. Kieran was helping, relieved to see that his son had not only made it through the fall, but was definitely not raging.  Devon groaned as his body protested the movement. He was healing slowly and he could feel it.. Damn, soon he’d be starving from the use of all that energy. The big lycan actually stumbled a little as he got to his feet. He felt his father catch him and took a moment to fully right himself. He was covered in muck and blood but the surface scratches were healing with every step he took towards the palace entrance.

“Your nieces and one nephew still live. Wulf and Zenlial are planning to bring them back here. I shall let them know it is safe.” the dragoness looked between the two lycan and whispered, “The fields will be warm with new souls this night.”  It was sad, yes, but hopefully things would be put right, now.

Dante appeared from nowhere, to stand beside the two lycan. The sound of collateral damage was dying down and the castle had been retaken. Things were tipping scales to the good. He didn’t mind that. Not always was evil a profitable and proper desire.

Kieran, for the first time, showed signs of his age. His mouth turned downward in a deep frown as he bit back his pained tears. Never had he thought his little girl would be a casualty. Never would he have thought that Ethan would turn on his own mate. He motioned for Inea to take Devon’s arm.

The dragoness did as she was told, her eyes on Dante where he appeared. She wasn’t sure what was happening, she just knew that Devon looked like he was defeated despite being the victor. His sister had died. One of her pups had died – and all for what? 

Walking back to where Ethan’s body lay, Kieran shifted and began ripping the body to utter pieces. He would not allow this one to easily step foot into the Golden Fields. He didn’t deserve that. And so whether anyone wanted to stop him or not, he was desecrating the body and planned on burying the filthy thing piece by piece all over the world. Ethan would never… ever… see the Golden Fields if Kieran could help it.  

Honestly Devon didn’t have the strength or the desire to stop his father’s actions. Ethan deserved no sympathy from him. His sweet, loyal sister and his eldest nephew were going to the fields much too soon because of the honorless male that Devon had thought was loyal and brave enough to keep them and the pack safe. That was his mistake and he would have to live with that.

~ What of the elf?  Of the rest of the pack? ~ Inea asked her love as they helped Devon and all of them watched in awe at the carnage being heaped upon Ethan’s body nearby. She had purposely stayed out of the elven sorceress situation, knowing Dante could handle it better than any of them. After all, getting information and eliminating magical defenses were two of his favorite things.

~ She’s safely tucked away and I’m sure she will give every shred of detail we desire. She is my sire’s newest play thing; not a fate I’d wish on anyone – usually. ~ His snarl of a grin showed his double incisors. ~ When he grows bored he’ll let me know.~ Dante took the brunt of the lycan’s weight upon himself, relieving Inea of the burden. ~ The rest of the Pack was in two Simoan camps to the west, but thanks to the rest of Kieran and Twilight’s army – or pack, not sure which to call it – and yours truly –  they are currently free and making their way back here. Seems the Simoa were going to sell them into slavery to the elves. ~

~Wait…~ Inea paused and really thought over what he was saying.

Dante looked at his dragoness, ~ Pack Simoa won’t be trouble any longer. The scavengers will feast well the next week or so of that I promise you, my love. ~ He had assured her that he would see as many of the lycans that she so adored safe and well. If nothing else he kept his word. While most of the time Dante knew he was a right nasty bastard to deal with, when it came to Inea and his sister Mira.. well he had a soft spot only they could reach.

~ But, love, you’re saying that the pack who were attacking because Ethan was selling lycan into slavery – they planned to do the same thing to the Weylyn pack? ~

“The pups.. The Pack…” Devon rumbled as the two helped him along the way inside.

Inea sighed and looked to Devon. “It’s good news. The rest of your pack is coming home, Devon. The children will be back soon. And I’m fairly certain that the tunnels are being cleaned properly and the defenders of your packlands have been victorious. You, sir, need to rest and heal. Then, we can sort out what needs to happen next. Got it?”

There was a rough shake of his dirty blonde hair that made his beaded braids click together. “Need to see to the pups first.” As he looked towards Inea she could see the need on his blood smeared face and deep in his golden eyes though one had small bleeds present within it. The fall had been hard and though the Alpha wanted to put up a strong front there were some things he just couldn’t hide.

“Well you can see them after Inea looks you over.” Dante stated matter of factly and added just so that the lycan understood him clearly, “Oh and that wasn’t a request.” The demon looked toward the beauty on the other side of the lycan and winked. This moment was rough, but they’d pull through.

“You need to be cleaned up and they probably need to be cleaned up and then they can come and see you, Uncle Devon. Do they… do they know you?” Inea asked quietly as Dante followed her through the quickest doors to the side, lower rooms of the palace. She was certain they could find a nice clean-enough room somewhere in here.  

Devon frowned at her, “What do.. you mean?”

“I ask because I know you had limited trips over to visit since you took Eva back to the other world. And if they don’t know you… and if Kieran was kept away from them purposely…do they really know anyone here? Would they be comfortable or understand?” Inea was fine with keeping her lycan friend talking while they found him a room so she could get him cleaned up and check his deeper wounds. Actually, they found one of the guest rooms on the bottom floor to be free for use. Inea opened the door for Dante and Devon.

“I know Nikita… the young ones I don’t.” Devon looked at the bed and sighed, Inea would obviously get her way.

Dante helped the Alpha to the bed and eased to sit on the side of it. As the lycan answered Inea, Dante worked on removing his shirt. He only stopped when Devon rumbled at him in that way that was a warning that he’d had enough. “Alright strip yourself then stubborn ass.”

Removing the rest of his shirt Devon sat there breathing hard on the edge of the bed. There were scratches and deep bruising all over his chest, sides and back. There were even shards of the glass still stuck in a few of the deeper ones. “I’ll clean up, but make sure they come see me when they get here.” He pulled a piece of the glass out and set it to the side.

This time, the dragoness growled at her friend.

“Devon, if you don’t let me clean you up, I will force you to sleep, you hard-headed shit.” Inea looked Devon in the eyes this time. “If you behave, you’ll see the pups. I might even finagle a portal trip for your mate back here once the lands are completely secured. But you have to let me and my kindred help you. Between us, we can make very quick work of your wounds. Just let us do it.”   

Holding his hands up in surrender Devon saw the momentary look of uncertainty that crossed the demons face. It was gone just as quickly, but the lycan had seen it. “Have at it, then.”

Dante returned to the bed and looked down at the damaged lycan. “Need his pants off too?” He gave a sly grin and lifted a brow towards the lycan as Devon huffed at him.

Inea made an impish grin for Dante. Then, she reached down to pluck out a rather nasty large piece of glass. Devon whimpered just a bit at the unexpected pain. 

“This is as bare as I get with ya hellspawn.” He hissed as he felt another piece of glass pulled free. “Goddess… lil warnin’ next time would be good.” As Dante rested a hand on his left shoulder blade Devon stiffened. It didn’t last long though. He soon felt warmth spread over him. “Don’t…” The lycan’s eyes rolled back and he swayed in place. Dante held his upper body for his dragoness. 

“Did you get all of the glass lover?” Dante asked. 

“No, and thank you. With him like this I’ll be able to take care of my nursing duties and those bloody, filthy pants, will definitely go.” Inea took a deep breath before holding it and moving her hand, fingers spread out over Devon’s prone form. As she passed over his skin, glass rose out of any flesh it was sitting in. Inea grimaced as it came to her fingers and her hand, cutting sometimes. This, however, was the easier of the several spells she had. You couldn’t just let a person heal over objects stuck within their skin or muscle. It would be dangerous and painful.  She could heal herself later.

Once she had finished over his chest, she held her hand over the waste container in the room and with a flick of her head, expelled the glass into it. Then, she moved back to Devon and exchanged sides of the bed so she could work this extraction magic over his back and shoulders while Dante held Devon by the chest. 

“Okay, his upper is done, need to check on the lower.” She expelled the shards collected into her hands at the basket nearby again.

Dante began undoing Devon’s breeches, tugging them down from his waist.

“Wait… he didn’t like the idea of you doing it. Let’s give him that much respect, love. I’ll do it. Gods know I’ve played nursemaid to them all at one time or another. Maybe he won’t be too mad with me.”

“He should be thankful…” Dante groused.

“It’s just… they’re private once they mate or find their mate, An… Dante.” her voice had gotten softer and she had almost slipped in calling him by his true name. ~ Sorry ~

The demon’s eyes held hers from across the bed as he adjusted the bulk of the big lycan again for her. ~ I will always forgive you. But in this, there is nothing to forgive. I still think he should be thankful, but I also understand...somewhat. ~

“Yeah, had a feeling about this,” Inea began extracting glass from around Devon’s midsection and the tightly packed musculature. “He must have gone full body out the window.” The glass was coming out, mostly smaller pieces here. She turned to push the pieces to the trash, then she tugged the breeches the rest of the way down so she could get to his thighs, especially the right one that had apparently taken the brunt of the impact. It wasn’t until it was too late that inea recalled that most lycan didn’t subscribe to the concept of underwear. “Oh… heh… well… “ the dragoness enjoyed the view for a moment and looked over to her demonic lover. “Guess what they say about lycan  – is true?”

Glancing down Dante lifted both brows, “I’m sure his mate has no complaints.” The pair had enough pups to prove that point several times over.

After a very slight giggle, Inea cleared her throat and moved her palm over Devon’s right side and got several more slivers of stained glass from his thigh. That done, she expelled the last of the glass into the wastebasket and began pulling the clothes off of him.  “I know he’s not bashful. Most aren’t. But I also know he’d prefer not to show himself to anyone but his mate. It’s a respectful thing for them. So, let’s not speak of it this time around? After all, this isn’t exactly a nice occasion.”  

“I don’t know much of lycan customs and such so there’s nothing to mention regarding this.” He chuckled just a moment, before grabbing the discarded covers from the side of the bed to cover Devon’s midsection.

Inea moved to look through the wardrobe. She found a bunch of coats and some long gowns. “Think you can find him some fresher… less bloody clothes while I finish cleaning him?”

“I’ll go see what I can find. Don’t enjoy exploring your friend too much, my dear. Remember you have to look his mate in the eyes some time soon.” He blew her a kiss as he moved to the door and made his way out of the room in search of clothes.

“After all of these years, we’ve never once done anything but flirt, you and I. I don’t see that changing anytime, ever, do you, my friend?” Inea giggled again, when she got a bit of a grumble from the sleeping lycan. “Friends forever, as the humans put it?” She walked over to the porcelain washbowl and pushed the stopper in before pumping water into the thing. “Ahhh I forgot how quaint these old otherworld buildings are.” You never knew how much you took for granted until you didn’t have more modern plumbing.  Taking a washcloth from the side cabinet, Inea soaked it and moved to Devon. “Here goes nothing. I’ll tell Eva I did it by magic, how about that?” As Inea washed Devon’s wounds and around them clean, she let her hands also push a warm, healing power into him. She couldn’t do a lot, but he was lycan. All he needed was a kick-start. His body would do the rest. “It wouldn’t actually be a lie, after all.” She furrowed her brows and looked at Devon’s sleeping face. “…not completely.”

Once Inea was done cleaning Devon up, she covered him in a clean sheet and very gently removed the silver chained turquoise amulet he was wearing. He grumbled at her and she cast an annoyed gaze his way. “You’ll thank me. Now hush and sleep it off.” She walked out of the door of the chamber and looked around at the various people meandering here and there. Lycan were strong and forceful and normally honorable folk. But once they had battled their hearts out, they tended to need a very hard rest so that their bodies would recover. And that was why teaming with dragons had been such an ingenious plan for pack Weylyn.  

~ Are all fronts covered? Did the resources from my dragon contacts in Iona come this way? ~ she asked her connected guardians, whom had slipped through the main portals without notice at the same time they had taken the underground route.  

~Yes, m’lady. And of the weapon you seek, Lord Gratinel seeks your audience. He has the piece in his collection. He has sent seven dragons to secure Weylyn Borderlands until the next triple full moon under the auspices of trade and information agreements. All of the packlands should be safe now from outside incursion. It will give the lycan time to recover. ~

~ Thank you. ~ Inea looked down at the amulet in the palm of her hand. Soon, she would call on Eva. Devon needed his mate here to help balance him from this point onward. He was no longer looking at war, he was looking to form a peace between betrayed packs. He would need his mate’s support for that.  

**********

“Have ya sent word to Dev yet?” Wulf returned to Zenlial and the pups so that they could start the trip back to the palace. “At least reach out to the dragoness and find out if the way back is safe enough for the pups.” Gently Wulf gathered the slumbering girl back into his arms.

“I …” as if on perfect cue, the elf felt the dragon’s thoughts. No words were needed.

“Zen?”

“It is safe. We can go.” Zenlial took a hand on each side of her and led the children away from the cave and around the pond with Wulf. Her eyes were wide and looking around here and there. Yelling and fighting could be heard further off in the distance. She hoped for now, that it would stay away from them.

“Have you ever heard the Song of Silihuehu, little ones? It’s a shared song about…”

“The moon goddess. But it’s like in elvish,” the little girl replied.

“Yes, yes, that’s right. Some things we all believe in and the moon goddess is one of them. Want to sing it with me?”

The little girl nodded, and so Zenlial began to sing softly. They were nearer the palace, clearing the last of the forest near the pond. She just wanted to keep the pups’ minds occupied. The soft, trembling sound of her voice was joined at first by the girl and then by the little boy. Zenlial looked down at him, smiling and hugged him a bit before taking his hand again and continuing to sing.  In the moonlight filtering through the more sparse trees, one could see the shimmer of tears on the elf’s face.

~ Can you manage? ~ Wulf suddenly tried using the mind speak from his own mind to hers. He had learned at a young age.  She was crying, albeit silently… but still, he had not expected it.

~My tears are not a weakness ~ she pointed out.  Had she been snappy? Defensive?

There was a long time of silence between them and Zenlial regretted what and how she had replied.  ~ I am… I am sorry, Wulf. I meant no disrespect. I…I am accustomed to my own people around me and as you know, they are not like you. They are often devoid of emotion and when they see it, they target it. It is seen as a weakness. ~

~ You … you don’t think highly of your own, do you? ~ Wulf finally said, while slowly moving over a fallen log that was in their way. Zenlial picked up one little one and then the other to help them over before hopping onto and over it herself.  She took the children’s little hands in hers again and smiled at them. She was so patient and nice to them. He had never seen an elf be such a way.

~ Most of them. There are some who I find enjoyable to be in the company of. My children. My sister. Alas, she is missing. I had been on my way to take her place as Councilor and to find her when I met Devon. ~

“Why are you cryin’?” The little girl asked before Zenlial could move forward. “You didn’t lose anybody. So why are you cryin’?”

Wulf paused and turned back to listen and watch. The girl in his arms didn’t stir at all.

Zenlial looked between both of the children she had with her and then specifically to the little girl who had asked the question.

“This world lost many beautiful souls today. I mourn for them and I am sad that you had to be there when everything happened. You should be playing and enjoying life, not facing death. So I cry because of that. And yes, I felt the loss, too. your Uncle Devon has told me many, many stories about his little sister and their adventures together growing up. And I had wanted to meet her very much. now, I can’t. And that makes me sad.”

The little boy came up to her and put his hand on her cheek. After all, Zenlial wasn’t exactly tall for an elf.  She leaned down just a bit for him.

“It’ll be okay. Someday, you can run in the fields with mama. You’ll meet her then and she’ll like you.”

The elf smiled and felt more tears come to her eyes. She hugged the little boy and held her arm out for the little girl, too. When she looked to where Wulf had gone, she realized he was still standing there, holding their sister, watching. Taking a deep breath, Zen took their hands again and whispered, “Come, sweet ones. Let’s go find your uncle and your grandfather. I bet they want to see you.”

When they reached the gates of the palace, it was to find truly loyal Weylyn guards there, ready to let them in. Wulf walked past with his light bundle and watched heads bow, not so much to them as to those they escorted. The family was respected and it showed as the way cleared for the pups to reach the palace doors. ~ Prepare yourself.. Don’t take to heart anything that may seem hurtful that you hear, they’ll see you as one of us and not the enemy, but… ~ Wulf wasn’t sure what they were walking into and so he wanted her to be ready.

~ I still have pointed ears and elves had worked with Ethan. I know. I just hope it is overcome quickly. ~ Zen replied as she squeezed the kids’ hands in her own to show them more support.

As they stepped inside the first one that Wulf saw was the elder Weylyn Alpha. The sight of the old man covered in blood and gore was not something the young ones needed to see. ~ Go through to the inner suites – upstairs… ~ Wulf nodded of towards the side where others were so that Zenlial would take the young away. Kieran could see them after he’d washed up. Adjusting the slumbering Nikita in his arms he moved towards the elder.

Kieran saw the elf move away with the two younger pups. They were still scared and he couldn’t blame Wulf for having her go another direction. He was sticky from the blood of their father, after all. When Wulf stepped up to him, his gaze put upon the waif. Just a sniff told him that things had gone much further than he would have ever wished upon an enemy. It made him want to rip their sire apart again.  

“She knows me. I visited secretly with Twi sometimes and brought ‘em presents. This one? She’d let the other pups see us and even after he turned their mama on us…she saw through things.” Kieran shook his head. “She didn’t deserve this. None of ‘em did.”

“No, none of ‘em did. But what’s done is done so now we need to help her and the pups through this. It’s good she knows ya cause when she comes awake familiar faces are gonna be needed.” Wulf cautioned as he held the girl close.

Derek and Twilight had finally made their way out of the tunnels beneath the palace and were now being greeted by the rest of their loyal pack that were here. They made their way up the steps into the outer courtyard, where Kieran was at the well, talking to Wulf, who was holding someone in his arms.  

“Kieran?” Twi left Derek’s side to move forward past Wulf into her mate’s arms. She kissed his jaw and breathed in his scent. She didn’t care that he was covered in blood. Twi was just thankful to the goddess that he was safe and alive. “I love you..thank the goddess you are well.”

“Twi, I love you, my mate,” Kieran held his mate and took in her scent. He needed her presence more than anything, but he knew the girl needed help more than he did. As soon as she was put back to the ground, Twilight turned to Wulf. She hadn’t missed Nikita, just needed to touch her mate before dealing with anything else. Seeing the girl like she was meant things had gone very badly for the pups. 

“Kieran where would ya like me to take her. She’s exhausted and needs to rest and be seen to. She fought hard.. Harder than many warriors I know.. But she suffered a lot too. I just want ya to make sure that she’s taken care of cause she’s earned it.” Wulf rumbled softly.

Derek looked around at the place and at Kieran. He was covered in blood.  “Dev?”

“Dev’s bein’ taken care of, pup.” It was all Kieran would give the boy for now. He turned his attention back to the other two. “Take the girl into the corner guest room, Wulf. Twi, I need ya to take care of yerself and of her. She ain’t gonna want ta be round no males for a while. We need ta get hold of a shaman. She deserves the choice. She has til the next full moon.”  

Twi nodded and looked at the girl in Wulf’s arms. Nikita had always been so spirited and full of life. The girl had defied her parents and Pack to let Kieran see her and the pups. “She’s strong, we’ll see her through this. Like ya say the choice is hers, but she has time.”

Wulf turned and started inside. He could feel the couple walking behind him and knew they would trail just a bit farther back.

Twi walked with her mate and she could feel his grief weighing heavy on him. Resting her head on his shoulder she listened to his heart beat.

“Want me to get a bath ready for ya too?” She wanted to ease his pain though she knew deep down before he let her do that, he’d want to see to the pups’ welfare first. She’d been with him long enough to know he’d see to Devon and then he’d go to fetch his daughter and grandpup home to be properly sent to the fields. Only then would he let her in and let her see to him.

“No need ta mess up things in here. I’ll wash up outside and then see to the pyres for those deservin’. By then, maybe Dev’ll be ready and the pups… or if not…” Kieran rumbled low in his chest. He’d been fighting one war or another for so long. He never thought something like this would come to the packlands – not in them. They’d always defended the packlands. He couldn’t help but feel responsible. So many decisions could’ve been made differently.

At the doorway to the guest room Twi paused with her mate as she watched Wulf lay the girl out on the bed. She watched him until he stepped out of the room and moved a short distance away to give them a moment alone. Cupping the beard-stubbled cheeks of the man she loved, Twi tilted his head down so they could look eye to eye. “Just don’t forget that I need ya too. Clean up, see to ya pups and I’ll tend Nikita, but then ya come back to me yes?”

“I always come back to ya, mate. Or like this time – Goddess brought you back ta me.” he kissed her forehead very gently before backing up and bowing to her. Then, he turned to make his way back down that hallway. He patted Wulf on the shoulder and they both made their way back out. Things needed to get done. It was his responsibility to see to it they got done.  

 

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