As I said, this meeting was a complete unknown. Theo had no way of knowing how it would turn out, but it had to happen. We needed information and this was the only way to get it. It was a risk, but Theo and Jacques agreed it was worth taking.
We drove to the other side of the park, where I imagine Theo thought would be more advantageous, and waited.
“I like your car.”
“I don’t take it out much, but I figured it was right for the occasion. Better to have the locals get the wrong impression of us, knowing few would come to this area to begin with, but if they do in such a vehicle, they would assume we are not to be trifled with. Plus, it has a few other special qualities I hope we will not need.” Theo said
“You think he will listen?” I said
“That’s the question alright. When emotions get involved anything can happen. With our history, well…” Theo said.
“Emotions?” I asked.
“We don’t have much time, but I will try to give you a brief history lesson that may shed some light on today’s meeting.”
I didn’t want to pry, but I was glad Theo offered. I had only heard bits and pieces about this person we were meeting. He was quite the legend from what I was hearing.
“Jacques and I go way back, as I’m sure you figured out, but there was also another who we were close to. His full name is Murdac VonRieger and in 731 AD he was a General in the army Jacques and I fought for at the time. War was raging in our homeland then and we were on the front lines. We received word that the enemy had made their way into our village were Rieger’s wife Ayla was. Rieger sent me to get her to safety, but when I got there I was too late. I won’t go into the details but the enemy did not show anyone in the village mercy, including Ayla. To make things worse, she was nine months pregnant with Rieger’s first child. To this day he blames me for not saving her. No more than I blame myself.” Theo said.
I could tell he was remembering this as if it had just happened. I was just beginning to understand my new abilities and the crystal clear recollection of past memories was something I saw as a blessing and a curse. Even my memories I had as a mortal have become far more vivid.
“Is he like us?” I asked.
“No, he’s a wolf.”
“So he’s the exception.” I said.
“Yes. One of only two I have ever encountered in all of my days.”
“How old are you?” I asked.
“2496 years old.” he said without a moment’s hesitation.
I stared at Theo in complete disbelief, though I knew it was the truth. The things this man must have seen throughout history. I couldn’t even imagine the stories he could tell. I fought the urge to ask about every historical incident that I had read about in college and focused on the present. We had enough on our plate.
“Do you think Rieger is the one behind the attack on Bili and me?” I asked
“He certainly has motive, but I don’t presume anything. We’ve been looking into this situation for some time and only getting fragments of information. I was hoping to avoid this conversation, but we have come to an impasse and this may be our only way through.”
“Any chance he won’t show?” I said
“Doubtful. Jacques went to a lot of trouble setting this up. He rarely fails to deliver.”
As if right on queue I saw a black SUV approaching from a distance. It was followed by Jacques, who was on a motorcycle. He was unmistakable, as he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
As the car approached I could see four large bodies inside. The vehicle pulled up in front of us, nose to nose, about fifty feet apart. Jacques rode up a little more, almost between us, threw the kickstand down and got up from the bike. He appeared to be somewhat referee like in the way he stood and where.
The wolves in the SUV exited at the same time and all four were impressive in size. Even so, one of them stood out. Not just because of his size, but the way he carried himself. It was obvious he was the leader and not someone to be taken lightly. He was one of the most intimidating figures I had ever seen. I would almost say more imposing than Jacques and that was saying a lot.
“Are you ready for this Jack?” Theo asked
“It’s just a walk in the park.” He said grinning at his obvious pun.
Theo could put someone at ease if they were facing a firing squad. His ability was fascinating, and at that moment I was thankful for it.
VonRieger approached us and his companions fell into place at his side with military precision. I was surprised not to see Kristov and Franklin.
We walked toward them and they walked straight for us. We stopped about ten feet from each other.
Jacque walked over to the side, almost between us, but back further. He appeared almost as an unofficial referee. The one I assumed was Rieger stared holes into Theo before turning his attention to me.
“So, this is the heir?” Rieger said with an accent I was very familiar with.
Even though I was incredibly nervous at first, that burning inside me started again. It calmed the nerves at first, but the more I thought about my mother, Viktoria, and the beating Bili took, I started to get angry.
“My name is Jack.” I said, staring back into his icy gray eyes.
“The only reason that you both are not dead right now is that Jacques insisted I hear what you have to say. What is it that you could possibly tell me Theoderous that could make me forgive you? Not to mention what this thing has done.” Rieger said, gesturing toward me again with tilt of his head.
Rieger took a couple slow steps toward us muttering something low under his breath. Of course I heard it clear as day.
“Ich habe keine Angst zu sterben.” I said. I’m not afraid to die
He stopped and looked at me again. This time the look was different. He was still angry, but there was something else.
“Just say the word sir, and I’ll finish him.” Said one of Rieger’s companions.
Rieger just held up the back of his hand, letting him know to do nothing. And from the look on the side kicks face it was obvious that he should have kept his mouth shut.
“I think we both have been getting fed bad information and to this point, the why escapes me.” Theo said calmly.
“Did you have Viktoria killed?” I said, unable to hold my tongue.
“Jack!” Theo snapped.
I knew I shouldn’t have spoken without Theo’s leave, but I couldn’t help myself. I knew we were playing with a powder keg, but I was almost at my breaking point. I knew it was Franklin who killed her and there was a possibility that he was working for Rieger. The burning was spreading again.
“You’re the one who killed her you little piss ant! Either by your own hand, as I was told, or by your filthy existence. I’m her maker boy, so don’t test my fucking patience!” He spit out.
Not only did he think he was telling the truth, he was on the verge of attacking. His teeth were full and looked sharp and broken glass. They grew even more than kirstov’s, and looked far more intimidating. My new senses were on fire and everything about this situation screamed danger. I was no longer scared though and more than ready to fight if it came to that.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jacques set his feet, ready to move. I was less than positive at the time as to his allegiance.
“Rieger! Don’t make the biggest mistake of your life.” Theo said quickly and sharply.
“The biggest mistake of my life was trusting you to protect my Ayla!” He snapped
“Your right, I couldn’t save her. I tried, but I couldn’t. But I did save Aleana.” Theo said.
Rieger stopped in his tracks and stared at Theo. His expression changed within a heartbeat. That name meant something to him.
“You better explain yourself and quickly Theodorus.” Rieger growled.
“When I got to our village that night I found Ayla, as I told you then. What I didn’t tell you was that she was on the verge of death, but still alive and conscious. By some miracle the baby had not been injured in the attack. Ayla was strong and gave everything she had to deliver your child, and she succeeded. She was a beautiful little girl, and a living miracle at that.” Theo said.
I was completely in the dark now. I knew these two had a past, but the depths were far beyond what I imagined. Rieger’s lieutenants seemed more interested in Rieger’s reaction than the possibility of a fight. This information was something I gathered no one was expecting. No one.
Even Jacques had a look of disbelief.
“Ayla’s dying wish was that I take your baby somewhere safe, far away from the fighting. Though she loved you, she knew you would not quit the war to do what was necessary to raise a child. She made me promise to take Aleana to a church to be raised away from the horrors of the time. She made me swear on her daughter’s life right before her last breath that I would fulfill her wishes. Right or wrong I gave her my word. Ayla swore in time you would understand and forgive her.
The look on Rieger’s face was a mix of sadness, guilt, and fury. You could have heard a whisper from a hundred yards. The world seemed to have stopped as Theo went on.
“She put me in an impossible moral dilemma, but in the end I did as she asked and honored my word.” Theo said as he hung his head. The pain and regret on his face was obvious. “I knew that one day we would be here, now, just as we are. I know you can never forget, but hopefully you can forgive us both.”
If the wolves had half the clarity we had, I’m sure Rieger was remembering this event as if it happened yesterday and not centuries ago. Though Rieger was still bordering on furious, I sensed something else in his demeanor. Centuries of believing something, only to find out it was not the truth, can make anyone question their beliefs.
“There’s more.” Theo said hesitantly.
This simple statement grabbed everyone’s attention as if he yelled fire in a theater.
“Go on.” Rieger said.
“Look at Him.” Theo said
Look at who? What was Theo talking about?
Rieger was not in the mood for more secrets and losing his patience.
“And what am I looking for?”
“Please, just look.” Theo said calmly.
Rieger looked back at me and stared, and then something clicked. His face went from hatred to something else.
“He can’t be.” Rieger said, almost to himself.
“He is.” Theo said.
“No.” Rieger said, but with less conviction this time.
I was looking to Theo this time, completely lost.
It’s complicated alright.
“The second he was changed his eyes went from hazel to that. It was never my intention for him to be turned. If Kristov and Franklin hadn’t been sent to kill Bili and kidnap Jack, this would have never happened.”
“Kristov?” Rieger said. It came out like a question.
“They’re not working for you?” Theo said.
“He hasn’t worked for me in over a century. Is this some kind of ruse Theodorus?”
He was telling the truth again.
“It’s true.” Jacques said.
Theo and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing. If Rieger wasn’t behind this…
“What brought you to the States General?” Theo said.
Theo obviously still had a lot of respect for this wolf to call him that.
“I received some anonymous information that you had an heir in Michigan. That is when I contacted Viktoria to keep an eye out. Viktoria told me that she found something and would contact me when she was sure. The last time I spoke to her she told me that I should come to the states, because there was something that she wanted to discuss with me. It was a short time later that I received news about Jack and that he was the one who killed her.”
Just hearing him mention her that way caused my heart to break all over again.
Rieger continued to stare at me as he walked closer. His strength was obvious, but when he was only a few feet from me he was even more physically impressive. He looked into my eyes unblinking.
“You have her look young one.” He said. His tone was much calmer now.
I just stared at him, not knowing what to say.
I was completely in the dark, but this was not the time ask questions.
“What really happened to Viktoria?” Rieger asked.
I had only talked about what had happened with one other person and that was the night it happened. I knew talking about it would be painful and difficult, but he had the right to know.
I told the story, trying not to leave out any details as I thought that he may be able to provide help if he had all the information. My eyes were starting to mist up as I recounted the moment of her death. I was reliving it all over again, and it was just as painful. When I got to the part when I told him that I was sure it was Franklin who killed her, because his scent was unmistakable, his eyes held murderous intentions.
“Are you sure that it was him?” He said. I could see he was getting angrier, and the fact that it was another wolf who was responsible it only added to the anger.
“I am. The son of bitch fled like a coward, but that was apparently part of the plan.” I said.
He had a confused look, then I told him about when I got back she was missing without a trace. When I told him this he got a look about him that even with my abilities I couldn’t decipher.
“He will be found, as well as any others who may have played a part.” He said.
If it wasn’t me, I did hope it was him who found Franklin. I never thought of myself as a vengeful person, but after such a painful loss you reach a tipping point.
“Sounds to me as if someone is attempting to start a war, and near to pulling it off.” Rieger said as he looked back at Theo. “I have also heard reports of conflicts in Europe between the clans.”
“Agreed. May I ask how you received your information about Jack?” Theo said.
“It was a letter, typed of course. All it said was ‘The heir is in the States: Michigan.’ That was over two years ago. No return address, but it was mailed out of New York.” Rieger said.
“If this doesn’t get dealt with soon there will be a conflict of which we haven’t seen in over a millennia.” Theo said.
“I think it’s time we had a meeting with everyone we can trust. We need to start spreading the word as to what’s happening.” Rieger said.
“I agree. We will set it up. We also have a few leads that may provide some information. If we get anything useful we will keep you apprised.” Theo said.
Rieger nodded, looked at me one last time then got back in his vehicle with the others and left.
Once the vehicle was out of sight, Theo Jacques and I took a second to digest what had just happened.
“I guess that could have been worse?” I said looking at Theo.
“Indeed. We are still alive.” Theo said.
Jacques was contemplating something and Theo saw it right away.
“What do you think?” Theo said.
“I have more questions than answers and I don’t like it. I’m waiting on some intel-.” Jacques started to say when his phone chimed.
Jacques looked at the text then put the phone back in his pocket.
“That’s what I’ve been waiting for. This may be something we can use. I will call you soon.” Jacques said, as he got onto his bike and sped off.
“Let’s get back. We got work to do.” Theo said.