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Down at the main pack village, when Devon caught their eldest’s scent he followed it straight to his own cabin. Finding him with Eva and the still rattled pups, Devon grabbed Evan by his shirt and hauled him outside away from them.

“Devon?!” Eva was startled and grabbed hold of Ryker once again. The poor boy would probably not get rid of his mama for a while, now.

Evan didn’t fight. It might’ve seemed uncharacteristic for a pit fighter not to fight, but he knew better. This wasn’t some foe he had to defeat to win his next breath. After what Eva and the others told him, he already knew he deserved whatever was coming to him.

Tossing Evan off the porch onto the ground Devon jumped down to snarl at him, “Tell me what in the seven hells ya did son? I’m givin’ ya a chance right now.” He wasn’t going to let Evan get away, but he wanted to give their son a chance.

“Ya damned…” Russell wasn’t so thoughtful as he had shifted to his hybrid and plowed into his older brother. He rolled with him growling with his claws digging in everywhere that he could.

Russell found himself flying through the air while everyone was beat back at least a step by the windsheer coming back from the center of this clearing. When he hit the ground, or rather, before he actually got purchase on the ground, Russ found himself covered in a net of pulsating energy. His lycan form was stripped away from him. In front of him stood a petite, dark-haired female with almost fae features and her eyes shimmered the color of the gulf waters in summer.

“You don’t have the right!” She yelled, that yell followed by a low growl and in lycan, “Only the Alpha…only the father…”

“Essa!” Evan looked around to all of them. He looked to Devon first. “Don’t hurt her.”

“Pfft… like they could,” she mumbled under her breath and kept her eyes on Russ and held the magic resonance on the net so that he couldn’t do much of anything. “Don’t piss me off, handsome, I’m not a one trick pony.”

“Oh gorgeous, trust me neither am I.” His blue eyes glittered as he studied the net that held him. The one thing he remembered above everything that Senias had taught was nothing was foolproof, everything had a weakness. You just had to calm yourself and study the target to find it.

“I…I’m the one you need to talk to. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it’s my fault. It’s my fault.” Evan looked at Devon’s anger and then what truly broke him was seeing his mama’s expression from the porch beyond him. The disappointment and disbelief in her eyes.  

There was a deep growl that had all the lycan stepping back with their heads bowed. Even Russell inside the net bowed his head to his Alpha’s command. Taking the first step down from the porch Devon looked straight at the young dragoness and rumbled very carefully, “Remove your net and step away from my sons, girl, before I show you what tricks I’m capable of.” Yes he knew what she was, his own blooded brother was one. Even dragons had weaknesses and the way his golden gaze glittered told her that he knew it.

“Yes, Alpha.” Ariessa even bowed slightly and took a step back, almost… a curtsy. She was respectful to the one deserving of respect. She twitched her wrist and touched the tips of her fingers with her thumb and the net simply disappeared. Then, she kept her head down and stepped back like any other lycan would.

Once the girl had stepped back Devon took the next step down and moved to stand before their eldest, “And just what is it that’s your fault son?” Devon was almost chest to chest with him, “Evan, I need to know because your brother is gone and a woman that is kin to the Kennedys and a friend to us is gone with him. We need to know so we can find them.”

“They followed me. I knew it was possible, but I wanted to be here. I shouldn’t have come here in the first place. But I let Raven shadow us off that dock straight to the Kennedy house. I’m never usually that stupid. I know you want that Coven gone and so do I, but they’re not gone yet. And I…I was acting like they were. They figured things out when the manager submitted the deeds and they thought I’d gone underground. Essa saw them lurking and sniffing around the bar when she and her father came by to try and catch me. We’re trade partners and… friends…” He looked over at the young dragoness. She nodded her head once in agreement.

When Russ lifted his gaze it wasn’t to his father and brother, no it was to the one who’d trapped him. He drew in her scent as he moved toward his father and brother. She was gorgeous he hadn’t lied, but no trick she had was going to stop him from finding Terry. If Evan was the key to that, the guy wasn’t getting far out of his sights.

“I confronted them. Last night. I took out two of the Coven Lord’s favorites.  I thought I’d lost the rest. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I came straight back here with Essa. She found a way to get a portal to work near the oak grove. According to mama, that’s where things happened. They followed me. They know who I’m connected to, now. They never knew that before. They thought mama was still a slave or dead on the other side. But… last night…”

“I’m pretty sure one of the psychic mother fuckers read him and poked around before I could stop it. That’s why I had to get him back somewhere safe. He went berserk on the muscle’s asses, but the vampire got away,” Essa explained.  “There were too many of them and it was too close to mundanes for me to do anything but stop him and get us both back.” She hated what those assholes did to people like Evan. When they got in his head it messed him up.

“Damn it son,” Devon rubbed his forehead as he took a deep breath and held it a moment in thought, “you should’ve told me long before now.” That same rubbed shifted to rubbed over his his heart as he listened to the rest.

“I passed out. I just got up about an hour ago and I came down here as soon as I got dressed, but the howls had already started. I wasn’t sure what it was about. Essa had to tell me. And by the time we got to the main house it was done and over.”

“If nothing else you and all of them are about to find out that we don’t give up on our children so easy. Grab your gear, and you and Russell meet up with Inea at the site they portalled in from.” The Alpha looked between his two sons, “And if you two want to fight it out? Well, you don’t dare until after Terry’s found. Not a minute before that. You understand me? Family safety always comes before your own feelings. Let that sink in all the way to the bone.”

Both young men replied with “Yes, sir…”

Devon turned to move back up the steps and go inside to grab his pack that his own mate would have by the door. Sharing a moment with Eva, he drew close and kissed her, “I’ll bring him to you, Eva I promise. Take care of all ours here and yourself, my love.”

“I know you will,” Eva replied, tears in her eyes and a shaky voice.

“Remember if anything happens to me get the cuffs to Derek and if not him then Clint with guidance from father.” He breathed her scent in before letting go.

“I know the ways, but I want you back to me with our Terry and poor Isabel. She was defending him. She defended all of us so we could get to Gar. You all come back to me. I don’t want to pass your cuffs on to anybody.” She put her palm on his face. “I’ll make sure to get with Inea and Dante and whoever else I can to insure the wards are revisited. I’ll not let another out of my sight until that coven is gone.”

She turned and looked down the steps to Evan, who was still standing forlornly in the yard.

“You will help them take down the Eriksson coven. I am done looking over my shoulders. I am done, waiting on the next surprise. Whatever has to be done, it will be done.” She turned before anyone could see her lip tremble. She stopped at her mate and took his big hand in hers and just stared at it for a moment.  

“I need to get back to Sen and get going.” He nuzzled the side of Eva’s neck where his mark lay unseen. Devon loved his mate and if the Goddess were with him, he’d return soon with their pup to her.

She nodded and walked by to the door. The pups were all inside, waiting for her along with Nikita, their niece, who had finally come out of the fog to become quite a help with the others. Eva was thankful she hadn’t been with them. She could only imagine the damage it would’ve done. She already had to deal with the girls little brother and sister. Poor things lost their family on the other side and had taken shelter in a cave while it all happened. And here they had been run into one again. 

Ryan and Lecia helped gather the rest of the family back inside the house. He was quiet as he carried his little cousins. one on each hip.  Eva walked into the room and took Ryker immediately into her arms. Despite his age, the young one was still just hopping over into adolescence. He and his brother looked very similar, except that Terry was a ginger and he was a dark-haired boy.  It took Ryan a moment, looking out of the downstairs window to really feel the gravity of the situation. The young man had never been frightened of his father, but he could feel the anger emanating from the big alpha as he moved toward where they had all just come from, toward the oak grove.

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

Senias was standing with Inea, Gareth looking on from the barricade up above on the hill.

~ You may need to help me handle Crimson. It’s on your lands, Gabriel. They made the attack here and one of the lycan took one of their guys out. He’s marked up with Eriksson designs. It needs to be logged, even if they deny it. Eva and the kids witnessed it. But it puts a target on their heads. We need this place secured. ~

~It means letting Crimson onto the property. You both will have to drop the barriers to allow entrance. I can get clearance and get another warrant sent out for the Coven. ~ Gabriel answered even as he was dialing the number to contact Crimson central dispatch to report the incident. This would get a team sent to the estate.

~ I’ll do it, but it means… ~ It meant Devon wouldn’t have his brother or Inea with him on the other side. The two dragons had to stay here and keep their magic scarce. It meant taking Gareth from the barrier a bit and hiding him elsewhere. It meant keeping Eva and the other pups safe. It meant a lot of things.

With his pack on his back, Devon made his way back to Senias. When he got the others, they were outside the old oak grove and discussing how best to enter the sacred lycan area. Normally outsiders didn’t enter and when they did it was only at the guidance of a shaman. “Waitin’ for an invite?” Devon rumbled as he stepped through the entrance to the grove.

“No, I was just discussing our reality in this situation with Inea.” Senias took a deep breath. “The portal’s not tied to this world’s magic, Dev.”  

Devon frowned, “What do you mean Sen? Need to break it down for me brother.”

“I know they were Eriksson, but they didn’t portal or teleport to another place here. They had a strong enough magic that they went through to the other side. To do that, we either have to pinpoint it and use a major portal or, we’re gonna need a lot more power.”

“Only specific artifacts have that capability. You know how difficult it is just to communicate from one world to the other. Imagine the power it takes to open a portal from one place to another,” Inea explained. “But, I have Dante and Derek has Mira and they’re seeing what can be found. Seamus is searching for some of the more powerful items we’ve collected over the years.” Inea’s eyes looked beyond Devon as his son came up the hill. She and Sen were unaware of everything that had transpired below, but from what Russ and Gar had said, it seemed Evan might’ve had something to do with this. The two dragons looked from Evan back to each other and then to Devon.

What had just been a fear before was now a reality. The two dragons had confirmed that Terry and Isabel were indeed on the other world. What made it worse was that the couldn’t follow by portal, they’d need to take a main portal. It could be days before they found Terry..

“Let’s be honest, we were hoping to go through from here, but they’ve still got one helluvan advantage. And until this is come to an end somehow, Inea and I have to stay here to protect everyone. Crimson’s being called. This has to be reported. Because we’re dragons on a blacklist, we have to remove the spellworks until the Crimson investigators are done; then re-establish them. To keep them from being in danger and to keep the Crimson investigators from going too far, Eva and the pups need to come to the main house.”  Sen watched as Evan approached.

It was taking everything in Devon not to shift and call out to his Pack for war! His pup had been taken by a Coven to the other world and he wanted their blood. What made it worse was the reason they had been able to get in was because of his eldest and his dragoness friend had led them right to the only way into the estate through draconic and demonic wards. His eyes were shimmering like gold and every breath was deep, slow and rough.

A hiss of magic later and Dante and Derek appeared right outside the area where everyone was standing. Derek was still snapping the necklace around his neck that Mira had given him and seemed unbothered by the travel. He’d gotten used to it. “Thanks, brother,” he whispered to the half-demon before looking up at whatever fresh hell had begun.  

“I’m here,” Evan announced as he jogged up, pack on his back. “Do you need me to get Es…” Evan took a step back from Devon as soon as the Alpha turned around. Things had gone from bad to worse and he didn’t know how that could be possible, but he was fairly certain he was about to find out, considering the way Devon’s eyes were shimmering.

Devon looked like he was about to go hybrid right in front of all of them even as he tried to hold it back.

“No I don’t need your dragoness to help fix what she helped do. She found the weak place that no other would for you and let them in to the one place that has been safe for your family! You should have trusted us when you first knew they were following you.” He was hurting and it was showing. The things he cherished most in this world were his mate, children and family. The easiest way to get a response from the Alpha was to mess with Eva or their pups. While it upset him that Evan had been followed in, it upset him more that the damned Coven had used his eldest son for their scheming.

Evan’s eyes hit the ground. If he were going to get it, he’d take it. There was no point in whining and trying to explain. He’d fucked up. And now a little brother he’d barely even met was paying for it. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here.”  He’d never had to think about anybody but his own two siblings and that had been a losing battle. He’d failed them and now he was failing his new family. He really was a lone wolf, wasn’t he?

Derek’s gaze was on Evan as Devon’s wolf  started to come out. The dragons were also moving forward. They didn’t want the Alpha to do something he would regret. The situation was horrible, yes… but this could go one of two ways.  It was Derek that caught the Alpha’s attention.

“Pops,” Derek spoke calmly, hoping he didn’t have to get into the middle of anything. He held a hand up toward the dragon, who was also stepping toward them. He’d not seen Devon look like Kieran Weylyn in a bunch of years. He needed to stop this.  “Dante and I have a way in.”

Devon growled.

Derek looked between the two and cleared his throat before touching his adopted father’s shoulder. “Not like this,” he whispered. “I know first hand where this could lead. Don’t.” Realizing he had Dev’s attention, Derek’s eyes moved back to where Gareth had begun pacing in his barrier. Derek had a bit of his own guilt to deal with when it came to Devon’s little brother.

The reminder hit hard as did the comparison. Stepping back, the Alpha pushed his wolf to stop and forced himself down from his angered hybrid state. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, Devon did the exact opposite of what Kieran had done too many times in the past with Gareth. The Alpha reached for Evan and pulled him into an embrace. He wrapped his arms around him and hugged the young man tight. He growled low so only Evan could hear him, “You screwed up, and I’m pissed about that. But it doesn’t  mean I care any less about you, son. It just means you make mistakes like all of us. Now we need to put our heads together and get Terry and Izzy back.” He pressed his forehead to Evan’s as he started to ease the embrace, “Always our son, you’re never alone again, no matter how pissed we get.”

Evan’s nostrils flared as he tried to keep his own emotions stable. What he was hearing – it went against everything he had seen and been taught. It scared him and filled him with hope in the same moment.  “I’ll do anything to fix this, papa. Anything.”

Derek cleared his throat and continued as if nothing had happened. “As soon as Inea and Sen told us it was a portal to the other world, Dante and I went to look for something to get us there quicker. Mira had to find it, but she’s given it willingly. She hopes only the best for us. We’ll have to find another way home, but at least this can get us there and on the trail instead of having to deal with one of the official portals and losing the trail.” he grasped the amulet in his hand. 

“Evan, if you want to make up for this, if you want to help your family, come with me and talk with Gabriel and Sebastian. You could be the person we need to help make sure the Eriksson coven doesn’t ever do this again.” Senias offered.

“That would help son. Senias can get you to his Councilor. Gabriel has been helping build a case against the Eriksson Coven. The vampire, Sebastian…  has been pushing it but without enough proof they aren’t getting close.” He had let his son go but stood beside him as they worked on solving the problems. “I can’t attack them over there without a warrant. Doing so will cause a war and I don’t want that for my pups or my mate. Can you help work on things from this while we go to the other world for your lil brother.”

“Yes, sir. Anything I can do to help. So long as I’m not putting another of my family in danger.” Even if he couldn’t go as he had wanted… he would do everything he could to help.

Russ walked up to them all. Ariessa, the dragoness that had been partly responsible was standing nearby, worried about causing more trouble for her friend, Evan. She normally didn’t care, but he was crew; he was family.

“Devon, just remember what you just said out loud,” Senias warned. “You can’t attack them until we have a warrant. Or at least if you do it, make it clean. We’ll get this done as quick as we can.”

~ Crimson is coming in and I’ve arranged an emergency meeting with a few Councilors and Skinner to review the incident and get an immediate action on the Coven. The warrant should carry over to the other world. Sebastian is already here with me. I’ll wait on you, but don’t keep me waiting too long, time is of the essence for the boy. ~

“Gabriel’s antsy. Russell, you’re the tracker. Derek, the deal broker and pretty face. Devon’s the braun and the one with the major notice-power over there. You go through here,” Senias moved within the sacred circle to the Great Oak that stood in the center of the grove memorial. He pressed to the side of the huge trunk and looked over to the trio. “If Derek uses the magical bauble Mira sent him with, it needs to be here. They ran through it to the other side. I just hate you won’t have one of us with you to help out.” Senias backed off, careful not to step on any of the items left in memorial there.

“I can go,” the petite draconic girl was standing four feet behind Russell, the wind on her side to keep any of them from smelling her.  “I was listening to what was said. I’m at fault, too. Evan’s my friend and I knew his past with that coven. I should’ve been more careful. But if you want a dragon that can come along to help out, I’ve got all the time in the world to help out.”  

“And you are?” Senias asked, his face moving upward to look her over.

“Ariessa Storm. No clan, Lord Senias. But I know of you and know of your mission. I thank you.” She smiled at the elder dragon who cleared his throat nodded.

“Up to you, Devon. Otherwise, she’s with Evan. Inea and I have to begin dismantling the dragon magics, now.” He took his brother’s arm in his and hugged the man. “Return to us.” With that, the dragon walked to meet with Inea and Dante to begin removal of all wards that were draconic from the lands. Crimson was on the way.

Turning to the smaller female Devon rumbled low as he pointed right at her, “You step out of line over there doing something stupid and get any of my sons killed and I’ll take your pretty scales for them. Understand me girl?”

“I won’t get anybody killed, sir. Not anybody you care about, anyways.” Essa moved right up beside Russell her hands on her hips. Evan couldn’t help but have just a bit of smirk, which was welcome considering the situation. He moved away from them and off to join the dragon elders that were remaining. He’d do anything, just like he said… including being a witness to the organization he had been running away from for years. 

Looking at Derek, Devon waved towards the tree, “Let’s get goin’, we got yer brother to find.” As Derek held the amulet in his grasp and walked toward the tree, Devon saw the look in the man’s eyes. He could see what Mira couldn’t. “We’ll find her too, Dare.” Devon whispered. Derek nodded. Izzy was over there, too. And she was human – which made her quite a commodity. He was scared for her. “Now let’s see what that bauble does.”

Derek raised his free hand to the side of the tree trunk, mimicking the stance the dragons took when they cast a portal. Magic moved from the amulet to the tree and then, very slowly, a reddish shimmer could be seen coalescing in an oval around the magic that had been used last. Once it was established well enough, the air inside the oval crackled and then there was nothing but a thick fog waiting to be entered into.

“Well, I’ll be,” Devon muttered. He took a deep breath and nodded for Russ to go first. He followed, and then Derek.

to be continued… 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2019