Eredity

Chapter 10

Ira

He wasn't sure how long he lay there watching his mum, breathing in her scent and being in the circle of her aura. He knew she had not abandoned him because she wanted to; she hadn't wanted to forget about his birthday or about him. He knew he was right and that felt good. Now he just had to get her help and protect her from his father. He didn't want the man to take advantage of her because she was sick. That was imperative.

"Ira." He was sure his name was voiced from somewhere behind him but he ignored it. His eyes, his attention and his thoughts were focused on his mother now. She was the only important person in the world. "Ira." Someone touched his shoulder which sent an immediately burn to his skin alerting his brain. He growled lowly, protecting what he considered his territory. He was sure this was a learned behaviour from seeing the other werewolves do it. It was ingrained in him. He did not take his eyes off his mums glazed over ones. She needed to know he was there and that he would help her. She could heal as long as he was there to help.

"Come on," Derek's voice penetrated his mind. Ira kept ignored him and kept gazing at his mum's still form. "Don't make me move you," Derek warned. Ira felt the bed dip a bit and knew he had on knee on it. Ira squeezed his mum's hand and told him to go away, his mum was his and no one could touch her. He heard a sigh and then he felt hands around his stomach. Ira tried to push the werewolf away and then he kicked out and caught him in the stomach fighting to get back to his mum as the man easily pulled him away from his property. His hand slipped from hers and he cried out ready to scream and fight. He didn't care who heard. He didn't care if it made him sound like a five year old. His mum needed him. Why didn't anyone else see that?

Ira's face contorted into a mask of fear and pain and anger. He was a trapped animal and he had to fight hard for what was his, what he wanted. And he did until a voice stopped him cold in tracks caught in his Derek's arms, burning from his touch and fighting angry tears rushing down his cheeks.

Ira could count the number of times he cried in his life, beyond being a newborn. When he was three he was bitten by a Tiger snake. He saw the animals and he wanted to study it. It hadn't hurt at first and he had looked at the bite impassionedly and moved on. After a few hours though his neck and left foot had started to hurt and he had felt sluggish. Luckily the pack had multi antivenins to all of the dangerous animals that lived where they did. He had cried because it hurt and because he was afraid to die. He was still afraid to die. The only other times he cried was when he was sick at seven years old and it started to hurt his lungs and he cried a hand full of times about his mum and being here, that was it. He'd cried notable five or six times in his life. This made seven times. He was proud of that record.

The panic was washing over him in waves now and coming faster and faster. He couldn't catch his breath, he was coming close to not hearing or seeing. The panic was all encompassing and the worst it had been since coming to the states, since losing everything. He wasn't sure if he would come back from this one. If they took him away from his mum he'd be lost at sea and he wouldn't come back, wouldn't want to come back.

"Let him go Derek," Chloe ordered. Derek did as told and Ira dropped to the bed scooted back to his mum glaring at the adults. He wiped his sleeve over his eyes and sniffed hugging his mum's arm and curling up to her. Chloe sat on the bed and crossed her legs looking at Ira with a smile. "How is she?" she asked softly. Ira frowned wondering what her game was and looked at his mum.

"Not good," he answered clearing his throat to get rid of the weakness. Chloe nodded. He tried to steady his breathing and force the panic away with an effort. He needed a bathtub or some space to close his eyes and his ears but he had to protect her. That was more important.

"I can see that, the problem is what should we do?" Chloe asked. Behind them Derek made an impatient noise but they both ignore him. Ira bit his lip and tugged on his mum's hand anxiously curling his fingers around hers. She still hadn't moved and he was still scared to death. Ira shrugged at this. He had no idea and then he saw the point. "We can't help her, can we?" she asked. Ira sighed and looked down at her shaking his head. His hands were shaking and he felt his body trembling with fear and anger.

"What should we do?" he echoed quietly relying on her which was a first for him. Chloe gave him a plan he thought he could live with. They would call an ambulance and make sure she was taken care of. Since she was a human there was no exposure danger. Ira agreed to this plan as long as he could get updates and he could see her. Chloe agreed to these terms and they shook on it. She took the opportunity to pull him forward and grab him under the armpits to swing him off the bed before he could have second thoughts.

"Come on, Ira. We need to get out of here," Chloe instructed. He turned and glanced at Derek who was making a phone call.

"Don't hurt her," he growled. He gave Derek a stare full of malice. He tried to put all his anger and contempt behind the glare and he hoped he succeeded. He would protect her, that woman who had to be his mum somehow, with his life. Derek nodded taking Ira seriously.

"We won't but she needs help Ira and we need to hurry," Derek growled impatient. Ira saw Derek's intentions and they were not murderous like he thought they would be. He nodded. There was really nothing he could do for his mum but leave her in better hands. It was hard to trust them and he really didn't want to but he had no choice. Reluctantly he walked to Chloe casting nervous glances at his mum. Would this be the last time he saw her?

As they stepped into the hallway an angry man walked into the apartment and slammed the door hard. He was scowling and looked very angry. Instantly Chloe pulled Ira to the side and Derek pushed past them standing and taking up the majority of the hallway. Ira looked out from the Derek's back. The new man had stopped and reconsidered what he was doing.

By the time they were in the car driving down the highway Ira was playing over the events in his head while looking at the flashing lights of the other cars on the road. He kept seeing the paramedics taking his mum from the apartment, the gurney shaking and the wheel of the apparatus breaking making the men stumble and his sudden panic that they would drop her. After that he lost track. They didn't follow her to the hospital so he had no idea if she was even alive. He was sure he would feel it if anything happened. He had to know.

There was another image he could not get out of his mind either. He was used to violence and he'd grown up with it all around but he hadn't seen it in a months. The brutality ended when he came here and this is really the first time he realized that. He had never seen anyone torture or hit or kill someone else here, not until today. As they were leaving the building they ran into someone, Ira suspected he was a drug dealer, and he had tried to grab Ira. Derek had broken his neck and the man had fallen right at Ira's feet touching his sneakers. Ira had backed up watching the man's body stop moving with a clear detachment. Just because he did not react does not mean he did not think about it though. He would be labelled as a monster if he couldn't dredge up an ounce of emotion.

Chloe and Derek had been talking quietly in the front seat as they drove and Ira caught snatches here and there. Mentions of the Nast Cabal, a man names Kit and a contract. He wasn't sure what it meant. He was concentrating on Reese and the pack instead and how they would react. Ira didn't notice that they did not turn down the right highway to get to Sorrentino Estates or that they were leaving the state until he saw the sign. Now Leaving New York Sate the Empire State. Ira read the sign and then turned and read it again when they were passing it.

Silently he looked at the front seat and at the two supernatural. The fabric of the seat under his hands helped tether him to reality. It was soft like silk and he could still smell that new car smell. His mind was spinning with idea and scenarios but he couldn't land on any one idea. His anxiety and his panic which had been on a high all day was now out of control. He undid his seat belt quietly and closed his eyes tightly covering his ears and trying to breath, tried to be as small and invisible as possible. It didn't help.

Reese

It may have been one of the worst moments of his life besides the worst moment. It was worse than coming to a strange country, worse than running for so long, worse than losing his fingers. This felt like his heart was being ripped out, stomped on and then shoved back in. He had asked Noah to repeat himself on the phone because he could not possibly have heard Noah right. Bombs? Ira gone? Missing? He had almost killed his brother when he saw him.

They tracked Ira to the city when they found some notes he left, they found the apartment and the dead drug dealer and even found Daniella in the hospital which did not make sense. They found the scents and the puzzle pieces but not the little boy who seemed to have disappeared into thin air. They recognized Derek Souza and Chloe Saunders scents but that didn't make sense. It almost seemed like a unique coincidence. They knew to stay off pack territory. They knew that although they had been offered pack membership they became mutts when they declined over and over again. They were treated like mutts because of this.

"It has to be Keith. Who else would have taken the time or care enough to get Daniella help?" Reese asked. He was pacing around the floor of the New York safe house unable to settle. There had been no word about Ira, no phone calls and no sighting. The wolf pack was looking, the Interracial Council was looking and their other contacts, people who owed them, were looking. No one had heard a word. No one knew anything. How could a child just disappear into thin air? How could he have failed his son so badly? He just got his son back and now he might never see him again.

He felt like a wall was pushing in on him from all sides and it was hard to breath. It was hard to think. It was hard to hear Kim and pay attention to her words or his Alpha. Their promises didn't help and their advice went in one ear and out the other. The only thing that helped was the meeting that was about to start. Revenge. How did they get Ira back and get revenge? No one stole from the pack, no one who did would live.

"They must be here then, we should be able to track them easily. Especially if Derek is working for them," Noah said. Reese didn't bother answering. He knew he should not blame Noah but he did. Right now he couldn't look at his brother.

"Maybe, maybe not," Nick mused. He was sitting forward on the couch with his hand folded in between his knees. Antonio nodded beside him with arms crossed looking out the window in thinking mode. Reese ran a hand over his face and closed his eyes. It was a complete mystery. Why would Derek be here and why would he be involved with his son? Did they switch sides? Had they gone off the deep end? Did they have a nasty death wish?

"We should call Sean? Does he know? He's in charge of them after all? Isn't he?" Karl growled speaking about Derek and Chloe. He was. They all knew that those particular supernaturals were part of a cabal project and their contract had not yet ended. They had made the deal as teenagers but Sean had been giving them lots of time to decide what they wanted. He was a patient man, unlike his cabal forefathers.

"I've tried, I can't get him on his cell," Kim sighed trying again. Sean was supposedly at a series of important meetings in Japan. No one else in his organization had been able to get a hold of him or had really tried. Bryce and Savannah were not having much luck either. He was a hard man to get a hold of at the best of time.

Ten years previous he his grandfather, Thomas Nast, had died during the kyboshed start of a supernatural war. After this the Nast Cabal had split in half. Half of the Cabal had followed Josef Nast, Sean's less than moral uncle, and half had followed Sean, who had come out as gay which was the main problem for the traditional cabal. Sean had moved his half to the Chicago branch, original a small satellite office, and it had grown to be as big as his uncle's half in L.A.

Sean had also introduced his boyfriend, Kelty, at the time, now his husband, a Gelo half demon producing ice, to the cabal. They had produced the required heir and a spare as well though they did not believe in that philosophy anymore. Through a surrogate they had two boys, Kristof was three and Thomas was one. Kelty stayed home full time with them. Sean was a father that took after his own dad. He was always there; he would blow off business meetings and important events for his children. His kids and his husband, and not his work, came first just as Kristof's philosophy had been.

Kim clicked off her IPhone frustrated again, silent again. Reese knew every minute they just sat here could be another moment Ira was in danger. That is why he paced unable to sit still, unable to stop his firing thoughts and think about anything but the red he saw around him. The world could be on fire and he might not know he felt so hot and angry.

When Kim's phone rang Reese almost dove for it but Kim picked it up before he could do much more than twitch. Her eyes met Reese's and they were filled with surprise and hope. "Savannah," she mouthed, "there's a rumor about Derek Souza walking into the Nast Cabal in Chicago. Josef has him now and Chloe."

Before Kim had even ended the call they were running. Elena hadn't met up with them yet. They gathered all the kid's at Stonehaven and were battening down the hatches and dividing the forces. They needed to protect the rest of the children because ultimately they did not know why Ira was taken, though they suspected, but the first priority was protecting the rest of them. Elena was there and had put Antonio and Reese in charge of this group. In charge of the meeting that would have to happen on the road. Any decisions would be directed back to the Alpha for her to approve beforehand.

"Why was Josef even in Chicago?" Noah asked as they hurried down the stairs, the elevator was too slow.

"You know how he likes to check up on Sean when he's away," Kim scoffed. Josef, despite Sean being in charge and being almost forty, still did not trust him. When Sean was away Josef liked to poke around and find any flaws he could and Sean, wanting to desperately hang onto the last few bits of family he had, did not object, not as much as he should.

"If Derek and Chloe are there they either have Ira or know what happened to him," Kim said and Reese nodded sharply, a move his son normally answered questions with. He was starting to understand why it was so difficult for his son to answer sometimes or talk. If Ira felt like this 24/7 then Reese could understand and things would be different from now on. Reese swore it would if only his son was safe.

Ira

Ira pulled at the piece of bark in his hands setting aside the small rough pieces he had already examined in a neat row and then going back to the original piece. He was slow and methodical and getting strange looks. Chloe was more subtle about it while Derek just outright stared.

"You know, if you're going to kidnap a kid you should probably know what their issues are before you do it," Ira said without glancing up from his task. Derek shrugged and continued to eat his three burgers. Chloe was only half way through the one she had for herself and Ira hadn't touched his. If he ate he might be sick. The whole situation was turning his stomach to ash.

"We didn't…," Chloe started but then shook her head. Chloe and Ira had already had one epic battle about the definition of kidnapping that day and he could tell she did not care to argue with him again. He was difficult and stubborn or maybe pigheaded as Keith used to call him. He accepted this. He figured if they were going to label him he may as well live up to the label.

"So, what are those issues?" Derek asked nonplused. Chloe gave him a look probably for the millionth time that day. Ira sighed and set down his bark. He folded his hands on the rough wood and then looking straight into Derek's eyes.

"I suspect they are not as deep seeded as yours are," Ira answered with a smirk. Chloe choked on her water and Derek frowned and then growled before patting her on the back. She nodded gratefully and tried to hide a tiny smile at Ira's words.

"I really hate the pack and its progeny," he growled. Ira raised an eyebrow at this, shrugged and turned back to his bark project. He pulled off another piece imagining pulling the wings off a dead fly he had found once when he was four. He was about to set it down with the rest when Derek swiped his hand across the picnic table and scattered the pieces. Ira let out a small sound of indignation as the man took the remaining bark from his hands and flung it into the woods and then took him by the upper arm back to the car. Ira burned but he kept quiet.

"I'll bring the food so you can eat later," Chloe called after them. Ira looked back

"I won't." He hadn't eaten since he ate with Noah the day before, a bowl of Heavenly Hash ice cream, his favorite, but he wouldn't eat now. Not with them and not with another werewolf. It was as much a peaceful protest as it was not wanting to eat with another werewolf and cementing his bond or any kind of hierarchy with him. Plus, Reese was not here and he ate with Reese or maybe another pack member depending on the situation. Derek was not pack, he was a mutt and Ira had told him so. The mutt didn't seem effected though. They just ignored him and kept talking about what they should do.

He'd been able to piece together a little bit of the situation from listening into the conversation over the last few hours. They had been in New York on business, a very important business that was apparently dire and worth risking the pack's ire. Chloe and Derek, and some others, had an agreement or a contract with the Nast Cabal and somehow they would use Ira to get out of it. He wasn't sure how. They could try and sell him he supposed. He wasn't actually sure what a cabal was but it sounded like a company to him and if werewolves and necromancers were involved it meant that they were a supernatural company.

If they were a supernatural company then they would want Ira because werewolves were rare. Ira was also still a child so they could try and influence him and also observe his first change and growing werewolf nature. It left him to wonder if his father knew or cared. Ira was not dumb. He knew Kim and Reese wanted a baby of their own. A child of their own that was not him. A kid that looked like both of them and that they could control. Who would want a kid like Ira when they could just have their own? He didn't think she was pregnant yet but they were probably trying double time now.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to go back to them because he was not sure that he wanted to be back. Logically if Reese and Kim had a child he wouldn't matter anymore, just like he didn't matter with Keith. A new baby would usurp him again. He really hated babies. There were no more parents they could send him to. No more solutions. Maybe this was a solution.

He wasn't sure how long they drove but it felt like days and days. Days of phone calls and whispering back and forth, days of hunger and a growing unease in Ira's stomach. It was currently a growing feeling warring with hunger, with fear and with what he hoped was excitement but was probably anxiety. In reality it was probably just one day but the clock on the dashboard of the car they were driving was broken. Ira was a time keeper. He always needed to know the time and be aware of a kind of schedule. Without that it seemed like the world had frozen. It just added to the growing feeling of disquiet. His small panic attacks.

Ira learned a long time ago by listening he learned a lot more than by talking and by watching he learned the most of all. Over the multiple hours that he had been with Chloe and Derek he had learned that they had a family they were trying to save. That was the only justification for them kidnapping a child and possibly doing a horribly irrevocable thing. There was a father and siblings and two of note, Derek's brother Simon and Simon's sister Tory. Apparently the relationships were convoluted.

He had grown up with convoluted relationships of half-brothers and cousins and unidentifiable or unnameable other family members. Personally Ira suspected inter family relationships in some cases but it was one of those things no one talked about. It was pretty obvious when you looked at people like his cousin Abel though. He and his family all looked almost exactly the same, same odd shaped noses and jaws and same, what Ira could only think of, as slowness. It was something he didn't quite understand until he asked his mum. It was one piece of information that he, for once, had no words for.

Chloe silently pushed a big bowl of ice cream across the table towards him interrupting his thoughts. Ira eyed it and then pushed it away looking at her again. His stomach rumbled but he ignored it. "Stubborn little brat aren't you?" Derek asked. Ira shrugged silently as Chloe sighed and gave him a look.

"More chocolate sauce?" she asked next and reached over squirting more sauce in the bowl and pushing it towards Ira again. Again he pushed it away. Chloe sighed but Derek only smirked. "If he starves he starves Chloe, don't worry about it. As long as we get him semi alive to the cabal we are fine." Ira scowled at this but sat back in the squeaky booth seat and crossed his arms staring at the tacky newspaper clippings on the wall instead.

"If we deliver a dead werewolf to them the cabals and the werewolves will both be after us. It will be even worse than it was before," Chloe sighed. Ira ignored them and eyed the phone on the table top. It was a black IPhone. He was still torn about what direction he wanted to go in. Did he call his dad and tell him where he was or did he stay with his captors and possibly face a new future? If he did that he would have to force himself past his learned behaviours and eat something. It was hard and it was physically painful but if he stayed with the cabal he needed to change or he would die. If he never saw Reese again it was not worth it to extinguish his new life because of something from his past. Even thinking about this was hard though.

"What are the cabals like?" Ira asked in a fit of what he could only describe as verbal diarrhea. The question had been bouncing around in his head ever since he figured out the solution to the equation but he normally kept such things to himself. He kept the irritation carefully concealed and looked at them both wondering if they would answer.

Finally Derek snorted and ginned wolfishly. "They will eat you up and spit you out, kid. Hope you like them." Chloe shot him a disastrous look and then put a hand over her head shaking it. She didn't contradict him though. Ira nodded. Apparently if he did go to the cabals he would not be treated like a child. He liked that part. He hated when they molly coddled him and treated him like he was ten. He was physically ten but mentally he was a grown up and he had been for years.

They had been waiting perhaps an hour across from the biggest and brightest building he had ever seen. Ira sat with his head in his hands kicking his legs annoyed. Derek and Chloe had been going back and forth on the subject. Take him in or don't take him in. Ira sighed impatiently again with their indecision. On the one hand Chloe stated that leaving anyone, let alone a small child, to fend for himself in a cabal was just cruel and unusual. Derek argued that a man named Sean, whoever that was, was in charge of the cabal and he wouldn't let anything happen to Ira. Plus, it was the only way for them to stop running, to have a life and finally a family. The family that was currently on the way he hinted.

Quietly Ira excused himself on the pretense of using the washroom but veered towards the door as soon as their attention was off of him. He was inside the biggest and brightest building in the world minutes later. He ignored the large waterfall taking up a full side of the room, he ignored the tourist and the woman walking around with water and a smile and he ignored that everyone was either in business attire or in t-shirt and shorts. Instead he walked up to the receptionist and looked over the top of the desk. The desk was a tall one and only his hair, eyes and nose cleared the top of it.

The man behind the desk, dressed in an expensive business suit, what else, was speaking on the phone and he gave Ira a dirty looked when he cleared his throat to get the man's attention. Ira waited patiently for him to end the call before he spoke. "My name is Ira Gavin Wri…Williams, I am a werewolf and I want to sell myself to the cabal."

The foyer of the building had been filled with voices until Ira spoke. Instantly silence descended. Ira's voice had echoed across the room and bounced off the walls for all to hear. The man's eyes went wide and he froze. "A were…werewolf?" he asked and Ira nodded. Ira saw the fear in the man's eyes a split second before he started laughing out loud and asked Ira where his mommy was. Ira gave him a baleful look as the rest of the tourist and business men laughed and shook their heads at the crazy little boy. Ira didn't miss the secretary getting two men's, suits, attention and two of the men casting him annoyed looks and disappearing though.

He sighed and turned away quickly thinking of another way to get what he wanted. He scanned the lobby. The elevators were at the end of the long rectangular room but you needed a card to get into them. Only the men in business suits were using them. The tourist were using another elevator, with a tour guide, to get to the sky dome Ira had seen when they approached the city. He could already tell that would get him nowhere.

"Ira, there you are." The small werewolf turned sharply. Chloe was walking towards him shaking her head. She looked panicked and upset, an act, but Ira did not miss her eyes darting around nervously. Behind her Derek was by the doors trying to look like a tourist but he stuck out like a sore thumb. "Don't ever run away like that again. I was so scared," she admonished. She hugged him lightly and took the opportunity to whisper in his ear. "You're going to get us all killed." Ira stiffened.

"Ma'am." Chloe paused for a moment before taking a breath and standing. She took Ira's hand lightly just as he was pulling away and he scowled. He must have looked exactly how they wanted him to look, like a kid who was trying to escape his parents and got caught.

The secretary was standing on the other side of his desk and two others were coming up behind him, the men that had left before. Now they looked less annoyed and more purposeful. Ira glanced behind them. Derek had taken a careful step forward like a dog on point and wasn't taking his eyes off of Chloe and the situation. When he started paying attention to the men and Chloe again she was apologizing for Ira's behaviour. Apparently he got lost. Apparently he was an adventurous child and was apt to wandering off. She said he had been talking about seeing this building and had gone off on his own when his parents decided against this. Ira shook his head slightly looking at the men.

"He said he was a werewolf," the secretary said. Chloe excused his behaviour with every reason she could think of including ADD, attention defecate disorder, hyperactivity and an overactive imagination. With this she excused them and started to pull Ira forcefully towards Derek who was still eyeing the men, Chloe and the situation. He looked so tense Ira was sure he would turn into a big green hulking monster with veins the size of the Nile.

"Do not take another step Chloe Sunders!" a voice boomed. Ira jumped a bit at the authority there. Chloe hurried faster towards Derek who was coming towards them but Ira looked back. The tour guide was shoving the last group in the elevator, she'd been hurriedly clearing the room, and as the doors closed more men in business suits came from the executive elevator.

Ira's gaze skimmed over the foyer and landed on a tall blonde haired man. He had piercing blue eyes, eyes that told Ira he was dangerous, he was used to getting what he wanted and he was the leader here. Derek reached them and growled lowly pushed them behind him and ordered Chloe to get to the door which was only a few feet away. "Derek Souza, even I did not expect you to be as stupid as to come here," the man said preening for some reason with every word.

Ira could feel the tension coming from Chloe; she was tight and sweating profusely. She let go of Ira's hand as she tried to push the door open. It wouldn't budge. She sucked in a breath and informed Derek who growled again. He balled his fists but his gaze was stuck on the man. "Is the boy a werewolf? Your son?" the man asked.

"No," Chloe said when Derek could only manage territorial and dangerous series of wolf growls and warnings. "He's just a boy. He's nothing, please," she begged. Ira's stomach went into his throat. He was nothing. Fine. They could get out of this without him. Maybe the man was dangerous but he obviously offered a better future than Derek and Chloe did and then the pack did. He knew this was a misguided thought but with a new baby it was true. He really was nothing if he stayed with either group. Maybe with the cabals he could forge his own future.

Derek threatened them loudly making sure they knew exactly how many body parts they would lose if they hurt Chloe. "Give me the boy. If he really is what he says he is you are free to go. I wouldn't want to upset my sensitive nephew too much. He does like his pet projects." Ira slipped from Chloe's side as the man was speaking and as Chloe and Derek were distracted. He walked around them before they noticed or were able to stop him and towards the blonde man. He certainly didn't look as nice as his father who he was just now realized he missed a bit. His dad had that happy and comfortable glint in his eyes and he was always smiling and laughing. He was on the path now though and he couldn't stop his momentum.

The man did not take a knee to get on his level like the pack members did, he did not give an encouraging smile or even seem to dwell on the fact or notice he was a child. For this reason, the last one, Ira decided he liked him, just a little, and he could do this. The man nodded and gestured for Ira to go to the elevator he had come from. Ira did as told but looked behind for a moment to see the men in suits surrounding Derek and Chloe. Derek was snarling and he was clearly close to a change, his feature were morphing, his ears were getting longer and it looked as if dark worms moved under his skin. The doors shut before he could see where Chloe was or what happened.

"You made a good choice, boy. I'm Josef Nast and you'll be listening to me from now on." The words chilled Ira reminding him of how Keith spoke to him but he was in this too deep now, he was drowning and the only way to go was forward. Ira nodded trying to find his center of bravery but it was a small shrivelled raisin now. He was terrified.

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