The music was too loud for his sensitive ears, ears that had been trained to listen to the dangers and threats many would ignore. The ears that had failed him a week ago.
Prying the woman’s hand that crept on his chest, he sat on the stool and gave the bartender a known look. Silas was one of the few who knew his secret and guarded it.
The werewolf grunted at Silas’ raised eyebrows and nodded. He needed the strongest this pub had for what the command the last Royal issued did not settle with him well.
He was not a normal wolf shifter, but he was one of the Warrior of Moon, the ones people thought were a myth. He was made to listen only to two. The Moon and the Royals the Moon gave life to.
Only when he was four shots down did he recognise a scent he knew much like his own.
Without turning to meet the Vampire, he said, “I failed, Leo. I failed.”
“When Vince told me how fucked up you are, I did not believe him,” Leo snorted and took a seat next to him.
Silas smiled at the vampire who shook his head. “Not today, Silas. Not since this fool here thought he could walk away from the meeting.”
Silas cocked his head and left to attend other customers. The music changed from an upbeat song to a sultry one. All the people who enjoyed here never knew what happened within the Royal castle last week. And if it was up to him, he would keep it that way.
“What?” he drawled.
“Aqua is pissed at you,” Leo said. “Don’t expect her to go easy on you.”
He snorted. “She hates me guts on a good day, Leo. Say something new.”
“Sag and three others are staying back,” Leo said, twisting the ring on his finger. “Defying the direct command of the Royal, yes. But our oath to Moon predates the command Ant gave.”
“Ant is just fifteen.” He clenched his fists. “How can any decision made by that pup be valid? That stu- Royal needs to learn a few things.”
“Well,” Leo dragged. “At least four of us are staying behind, right? Ant will be safe.”
“Ant is the last Royal. Nothing can-”
Leo grabbed his shoulder. “Nothing will happen! I understand that you were the general and the ruling King and his mate died. But that does not mean you got to blame yourself. Ant is alive because of you. Just be happy.”
“Happy that that pup is orphan?”
“Orphan? Queen’s parents are alive. Ant will be with them for a while.”
“I fucking hate them,” the werewolf grumbled. “They actually mated their daughter to the king just because they can become the queen’s parents. If Ant is going to be in their custody, they will rule us to our demise, Leo.”
The ancient vampire who made from the same flames as he nodded solemnly. “True. But who said we will let them do anything? We are the Warriors of Moon, my friend. We have seen aeons and we will see another thousand more. Have we not served since the first royal? Nothing will happen to that kid.”
“I hope Sag and Aqua will tear those manipulators’ face apart. They will stay with Ant, won’t they?”
“They will,” Leo said. “We all will. At once four of us will protect Ant. The next shift, the other four. The young Royal needs to learn from each of us.”
He nodded. “Sounds okay.”
An infinity of silence fell over them despite the blaring music. Only then did he realise there were many kinds of silences. The quiet predatory ones, the awkward ones, the ones born of fear and others that began when words failed. But the one that spoke of goodbye was the most painful of all, the werewolf decided.
“I hope we will see each other again,” his friend whispered like the shadow of the night he was born to lead.
“We will,” Aries said with the light of the night he was made to wield.