For Eva, it had already been a very busy time. She had been able to gather supplies officially this time and bring them back through the main portal in Lyon, France. The Councilors had been very gracious and Sen… or as they knew him – Raudine’s pull had been very useful. She had met with a very proper dragon named Gratinel in Iona at the opening of the French portal. He had been kind enough to help her with her own supplies and add to them before casting a portal for her, the supplies, and all of the wagons carrying them to go through. He had to have been a very powerful dragon indeed to be able to hold his natural portal so large and for so long. She would never forget the swirling green colors.
Once through, she wanted to see Devon and Inea took her to him immediately. He was in the rest, he’d nearly exhausted his body, the fool! She let herself tear up at seeing his wounds; they would heal, but he’d come close. She’d come close to losing him and hadn’t even been there. Once she knew he was safe and mending, Eva put herself to work. She had people to help with healing, nursing, doctoring for she was the pack Shaman on the other side and that didn’t stop here.
After arguing her point, Eva had a large pyre being built near the fields for the fallen who had been Weylyn under Ethan’s rule. They deserved a proper sending to the fields. And if she had to continue arguing her point, she would. Only what was left of Ethan and the true traitors and the enemy from the Simoan pack were to be discarded like the trash they were. She helped oversee the pyres and made sure all those honored dead would be treated properly. They had to be cleaned and their hair braided and beads proper. Some had to be wrapped. Her fingers were getting sore from all of the work. Seeing Kieran and Twilight took her breath away. He was … he looked so much better than she remembered him, even in sadness as this war had caused. Eva took a deep breath and made her way over to the couple.
It was as they were overseeing the disbursement of supplies, Kieran turned to see the girl first. Stopping his handing out of supplies, he moved and tapped Twilight on the shoulder so she’d see who was coming their way. He found himself oddly nervous around the half-breed. And as the thought struck his head he scolded himself. She’d been more of an Alpha than he had at the time. Eva had met him at the worst time of his life. The lowest moment. He felt nervous, because he felt he needed to make up for that. He wondered if she would see the changes. And…more than anything? He owed that woman an apology.
Being the protective person that she was, Twilight stood partly in front of her mate as Devon’s mate approached. Her chin tipped up just a little letting the other female know that she would protect and defend what was hers no matter who it was she faced. Kieran had told Twi about his past, she had fought him and his ghosts to prove to him that he was worth mating. There was no way she’d let someone come along and unravel all of that. “Devon is recoverin’ in one of the downstairs rooms.” After dealing with battle and then helping with Niki, Twi’s patience wasn’t at it’s best.
“I know. I’ve seen him. He looks a might bit worse for wear than you,” her eyes were directed at Kieran.
“Well, he leapt out a window ripping Ethan the whole way down. I was dealin’ with the guards at the time, didn’t know he’d be that fuckin’ foolish.” Kieran swallowed. “You know as well as I do, I raised ‘em wild and fierce…all four. And now I got the one…”
“You got two, Kieran. Lost don’t mean he’s gone to the fields and Devon’s in there healing. Alyssa…” Eva sighed, and took a step forward. She looked to Twilight for permission.
There was a slow nod, but Twi watched every step the other female made in regards to her mate. For now it seemed that Eva meant only to comfort him, and that Twi would allow. Kieran was hurting and she would do anything to help him, even if it meant letting another console him.
Eva placed her hand on Kieran’s shoulder as far up as she could get it and whispered, “She fought fierce for her pups and she’ll be welcomed into the fields for it. You did all you could do.”
For once, Kieran looked weakened. He hated that feeling. “Helplessness is better than hopelessness.” He placed his hand over hers and bowed his head. Others around them watched and took good note. The Shaman who had left them was blessing the one they followed and he in turn was accepting of her blessing. Considering the rifts within the pack, this was something that had been needed.
When Kieran felt the full enormity, he lifted his head and howled a mournful howl to let the world know his pain. All around the packlands, others answered in kind.
When the moment was over, he let go of her hand and placed his arm around Twilight, pulling his mate closer.
“I need your consent. I need both of you…” Eva took a deep breath, crossing her arms loosely before motioning with a toss of her head toward the collection of bodies being readied in the courtyard for transport to the pyres. “These that fought you, not all of them had bad hearts. I can feel it off of them as their souls flitter round their bodies. They did as they thought was proper. They don’t all deserve a wretched burial with those who profited off our pack and other packs. I’ve been readying them for the fields… the ones I feel are worthy and weren’t complicit. Would you give me your blessing to release them to be placed on the common pyre?”
“They went after not only warriors, but our mothers, elders and pups. Why should we give such honor?” Twilight had watched so many of their own fall and had watched so many families grieve losses that shouldn’t have been. Twilight was just as much warrior as she was sister and mate. She would need to be convinced. Her hands lay over the top of Kierans large ones where they held her close.
“Not all of them did such deeds. You know this. You have seen war, your family has been affected by war. You know that not all of them killed. Many of them fought to defend. Those are the ones I have prepared here. And if you need to be absolutely sure, perhaps you and Kieran and those who were servants to the royal family could look at them and give their own testimony as to whether they are deserving of the fields or not?” Eva could see Twilight’s point, and she didn’t want to make a mistake by honoring those that didn’t deserve it. But she didn’t want to punish those that didn’t deserve that, either.
“She has a point, Twi.” Being denied the fields just because you were defending your Alpha – it might have been a dumb decision, but not all of these guards were given the choice by he and Devon last night. Some just came out from their stations and suddenly had to defend as they had been taught to do. Now the ones that had set the trap? The ones that let power go to their heads? Fuck ‘em. “I can look to see which ones are which. If it makes you feel better.”
Her icy blue gaze shifted towards the field in question and it was obvious that she was mulling the situation over quietly in her head for a moment. She listened and she weighed things because that was how she worked.
“I know the Simoan that attacked the innocent ones – they will be buried to never see the light of the fields. But what of those that were trying to defend their own pack from Ethan?” Eva knew this wasn’t something most would want to consider… but as she had found, in every conflict, in every war – both sides thought they were doing proper for the most part.
“Give those deserving a proper send off to the fields and bury the rest. We’ll have other things to deal with soon enough. Simoa will have to make their own move and I hope they are wise in replacin’ that worthless Alpha. If they aren’t, then our battle may still go on further.” Twilight hated to think it’d come to that, but if it did they’d be prepared this time.
“That was the other part of this request. I asked it, because when coming here, I got word that they’ve made that decision. The newly placed Alpha of pack Simoa wishes to speak terms of peace and trade of prisoners. Maybe we should hear them out. Shane of Simoa is not his father… he is not unmoveable.” Eva then added, “Sending those to the fields in honor would do much to soothe the scar between the packs.”
Kieran looked to his mate. They made decisions like this together.
“We are willing to speak as long as he understands no threat will be taken lightly at this point. He needs to tread carefully.” Twilight was still looking out at the pyres as she lifted a hand to rest against Kieran’s cheek. “First we need to send off our dead, eat and recover. Then we’ll meet and talk.” Her gaze lifted to her mates to see if he agreed.
“I trust Eva to know these souls. Who are worthy and who are not – it’s always been the place of our shaman to tell that. She has been our shaman since training.” He moved his arm over Twilight’s shoulder. His sad eyes looked to Eva again. “I’ve yet to rest. I believe I need to do so before bein’ able to see to anything more right now.” Kieran allowed Twilight to lead him. One thing for sure was, he didn’t want to be weak when he saw his daughter and grandpup sent to the fields. And he’d not speak to any damn body about peace until all theirs was sent to the fields that deserved it.
As Twilight turned with Kieran to lead him back to the palace to tend and rest, she paused at seeing a bare chested Devon standing in the doorway watching them and his mate. She could tell that he was healed but that it had taken its toll on him. “See to your mate and I’ll see to mine. Then we will see ours off and talk peace with the others.”
Eva turned to see Devon and her heart hurt for him. She dropped the things she had in her hands to run to him.
Devon felt drained and starving as he stood there quietly watching the exchange between his mate, his ole man and his ole man’s mate. If it had been needed, he would have interceded and defended Eva. Dev was glad it hadn’t come to that though. As Kieran and Twi moved past him, there was a look exchanged of understanding between the men that no one else would ever comprehend.
Barefoot and shirtless he stepped away from the doorway and started towards his mate. The pants he wore were a little more snug than he was used to and the leather didn’t have as much give as the denim that he usually wore these days. The discomfort was forgotten though, the moment Eva was in his arms and her scent was surrounding him. His arms wrapped around her and held her so tight that he feared she couldn’t breathe proper and so eased up a little.
“When’d you get here?” His words were muffled as his face buried in her hair.
“In the night. Inea told me. Your dragon brother made sure I got here quickly as possible with plenty of supplies coming through from both portals. The dragons here have also stepped up. They have our borders and our backs. We’re safe. You can rest and relax now,” Eva pulled back and took his face in her hands. “Let’s see to you, now that you’re awake.” she led him back into the side door. For the first time ever, she felt like if she tugged too hard, he might just fall over.
Snapping her fingers at the court servants who were still there, she let them know to bring them food and other needs. She didn’t want to have to speak right now, she couldn’t. They wouldn’t feel disrespected. They would understand and if they didn’t she’d apologize later.
He didn’t fight her on returning inside and let her lead him right to the bed. Devon sat on the side of it and watched Eva take charge as servants shuffled in and out of the room bringing things in and taking things out. By the time all of her needs were met there was food and drink on the small table, fresh clothes at the foot of the bed and a pitcher of warm water and wash clothes at the wash stand.
Devon didn’t say a word until they were well and truly alone with the door closed to give them privacy. His golden gaze lifted to rest on her and she’d see that the right one was still a little red from a bleed. For the most part the big lycan was healed aside from the minor surface things like a few bruises and the red to his eye. “I couldn’t save ‘em all Eva.. I got here too late..” His head bowed down and his broad shoulders slumped as if from a great weight upon them that he was just too tired to carry.
“Hey, you did your best, Devon Weylyn,” Eva moved to him, between his legs and pulled his head onto her shoulder so she could move her fingers through his hair. “This was a perfect storm of chaos and anger and hatred and greed and ignorance and naivety. You can’t stop a storm, Devon. You can only try to save people from it. You did that. You saved most of the pack. You and Kieran and Twilight and those that saw the storm coming and chose to help.” She knew it’d take a bit and she knew he needed to mourn and she’d let him. But he didn’t need to lay all the blame for this on himself.
“My sister’s gone, her eldest boy with her.. Nikita.. What they did to her..” His face pressed against the side of Eva’s neck and his large hands shook as they rested on her hips. “I trusted that bastard and he stood and let them be destroyed.” The warmth of his tears could be felt as Devon let them fall in silence for all those they’d lost. His heart ached and he let the only one ever allowed to comfort and soothe him – do so. Eva was much more than his mate and mother to his pups, she was his very soul, she was his balm… she was home to him. “I am not so sure that our best was enough this time, love.”
“Then you make it right, Devon. We all do. I’m as much to hold up some of the blame as anybody else. And I’ll be by your side as you help bring things back to good. Nobody’s perfect. We never could’ve seen how Ethan would change, Devon. Last I knew him, he took care of me and he took care of Derek’s mama and Alyssa. He handled the needs of the pack and he had even been to war once, so was respected for that. Never would I have imagined him capable of the things I’ve been told since coming here. So though we all hold some responsibility – don’t you forget – the dragon’s weight of it should be on his soul. And he will be paying for that.”
“I hope he suffers for eternity.”
“From your lips to the Goddess. She is benevolent but she is also very protective.” Eva hugged him tight and kissed the side of his head.
Devon lifted his face from her shoulder and looked into Eva’s eyes. “We’ll get them through this, but we still can’t stay. We have pups and Pack to see to on the other world. We’ll have to put another as Alpha here. I think we should put some thought into Kieran and Twilight takin’ Alpha here.”
Eva said nothing, here creased brow said it all.
He slid his arms around her waist and drew his mate closer, “Now, I know he didn’t do such a good job before, but he’s changed and I think Twi helps him. He fought hard for the Pack and I want to believe that he’d do right by them in the long run, too. Will ya at least think about it?” His stomach rumbled letting Devon know it wouldn’t be ignored any longer.
“Let me think about it, and you eat.” She shoved him back, her fingers moved over his face to wipe his tears. Those same hands moved to his shoulders, not just holding him, checking him. He was still weakened. “Come over to the chair. I’ll mix things how you like it, my mate. Get some of that bread in ya stomach, now. There’s fresh water.” It wasn’t fancy like she preferred to make things for him, but it would do. She began slicing some ham from the bone. It was important to her that they keep some civility after being in battle and in the woods. Lycan were prone to ferality if they kept wild too long.
He knew then that he still looked rough, Eva didn’t have to say it. Grabbing up a chunk of the bread he bit into it and ripped a good piece of to chew while watching her. “I’ll be good as new in another few hours. There won’t be a bruise in sight I promise.” He would have chuckled if it didn’t use so much energy. Devon knew he’d scared her and that wasn’t right either. She’d been through enough without this to add to it. “Can I ask ya to go by and see Niki? I don’t know how she is but I don’t think she’s ready to see any of us yet.”
“I can try. Last I checked she was still sleeping and I…I uh…” Eva took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in her throat. “I gave her some more sedatives. She needs the rest and everybody around here needs a moment before dealing with her.” Eva’s shoulders slumped a bit. “She was raped, Devon.” That was what hurt Eva’s heart most. “I needed a little bit more time before I looked her in the eyes.” She finished cutting up the ham and put it on the plate with two apples and a pear. She sat it in front of her mate, but couldn’t look at him right yet.
“Hey,” Devon rumbled low and reached out to place two fingers beneath his mates chin and pushed it up so they were looking at one another. “Don’t do that. Don’t draw into that place I can’t reach ya in. I fought like hell to get ya out of it the first time. You’ve got me and she’s got us. We’ll help her together alright.” Taking Eva by the hand Devon tugged her from her seat to his lap. Kissing her knuckles, he let her hand go to pick up a piece of pear and bite into it before offering her the other half. It was terrible what had happened to their niece, but if anyone understood it was Eva. He just wasn’t going to let her get lost in her past along the way.
“I’m supposed to be taking care of you, not the other way around,” she scolded. But sitting in his lap like this, she took the opportunity to snuggle into him as much as possible.
~ Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018