Heart of Stone - Book 3: Souls Entwine

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Chapter 43 - Stone (Part 2)

It only took a moment to reach the valley and he could feel the energy shift as clouds covered the moon. Lightning flashed in the distance and thunder rumbled.

The approaching storm wouldn’t deter the lycans, but it may hinder the vampires due to their aversion to getting wet. They had come so far from immediate shelter, that he feared they may stay within the trees instead of coming out to fight, prolonging their battle when he wanted nothing more than to hurry back home to his mate.

They waited, crouched down in the brush along the edge of the forest at the southern end of the valley for the bloodsuckers to arrive.

Within moments of Stone’s arrival, his nose picked up the scent that tucked his tail underneath him since puppy-hood.

Alistair swore. [They’re setting fires! We have to stop them from spreading it!]

Stone shifted his throat muscles to speak. “We have to split up into teams to stop them from spreading the fires. The winds will spread it and the rain, provided the Goddess grants us enough, will put it out, but it won’t stop the damage that has already been done—before it reaches the pack house.”

The Council members split to the east and west, while Stone, Gunner, and Alistair headed north. Amora remained south of the valley to catch any vampires that snuck past them to the house.

Stone knew he was getting closer when gasoline fumes prickled his nose. Along with smoke filling his nostrils, the faint smell of vampires couldn’t be detected.

Stopping, he coughed as he ran into a plume of smoke the wind blew in his face. Even though he couldn’t see it, he could hear the fire crackling ahead as his eyes began to tear and his lungs burned.

Gasoline trickled down his head.

Bounding forward before doubling back, cackling laughter followed him as he raced to the valley.

[Watch yourselves!] he shouted into the mind-link. [They’re pouring gasoline from the trees. Double back to the valley!]

An arrow flew past his head and struck a tree in front of him. A gasoline-soaked rag hung from the tip, alight in flames and began to spread.

He stopped to grab it and pull it out, but another flaming arrow nearly struck him.

He had to leave it and keep moving.

Back in the valley, he howled to let the others know he was there. He wasn’t going to fall into this trap. If Carina wanted him, she had to come to him.

Alistair jumped from the trees, a vampire in his massive jaws, shaking him like an over-sized chew-toy as the leech screamed before being ripped to shreds.

[One down... How many more to go?] Alistair asked, tail wagging and blood drenching his muzzle.

Alistair always loved the hunt. Perhaps it was because vampires killed every last member of his family.

He didn’t expect anyone to answer.

[Behind you,] Gunner warned as he plowed through the brush, out into the open, chasing a vampire that was much quicker than him.

Alistair dove over to him. The vampire tried to pivot and change course but Alistair managed to grab him, kicking and screaming. He threw him up in the air before tearing into him before he even had a chance to hit the ground.

Getting into position as the smoke began to build over the forest in the north and spreading to the east due to the wind, Stone checked in with Gavin and Gwen on guard.

When they confirmed they were all fine, he checked in with his mate. Aubree was still tired, but comfortable in the safe room and getting used to having a tail, making laying on her back a bit uncomfortable.

[I’ll give you your first belly rub when we get home, Sugarplum,] Alistair offered in the pack mind-link.

She groaned in protest. [No! You know how ticklish I am!]

[Focus, everyone,] Stone commanded, his eyes following the billowing smoke as it got thicker and thicker.

The valley grew quiet, save for the crackling of the flames as they consumed the vegetation hungrily, and thunder rumbled, getting closer. It was pitch-black now with clouds blanketing the sky and an orange glow over the smoldering trees in the north and east.

A howl sounded the alarm in the east as the Council members clashed with vampires. A minute later, another howl cut through the night in the west—the vampires were trying to surround the valley and burn it to the ground.

Debating on which direction to go, Stone growled, not wanting to split with his packmates should the vampires change tactics.

His hesitation was answered when flickering light approached them in the north, west, and east side of the valley—surrounding them.

With the ample rain they had gotten in the last few weeks, he knew the vegetation wouldn’t burn as quickly as it could and for that, he was thankful. But it would smolder and generate more smoke than if it were dry. Smoke could be just as deadly as fire.

When the torch-bearing vampires reached the edge of the forest, they paused and waited.

Waited for what?

Several red lines flickered through the smoke from all around, aiming at him and his two brothers-at-arms.

[Heads up!] Alistair shouted before Stone could give the warning.

Sprinting forward, Stone, Gunner, and Alistair ducked and dodged the dozens of silver bullets that fired at them from all directions.

He didn’t know which way to go or where to turn without getting hit. How could he stop the onslaught if he couldn’t even get close?

A bullet ripped into his calf on his left hind leg, but he couldn’t stop. They’d kill him for sure.

A cry rang out when a member of the Council ripped through the line of vampires and tore him apart. With such speed and agility, he ripped through the next one before the bloodsucker even realized what was going on. The lycan slipped back into the forest when the gunmen next to him turned to fire back.

With a hole in the offensive wall, Stone dashed toward it.

The vampires raised their voices to warn each other as the gunmen turned their firearms on him.

Bullets flew passed him. Another one pierced his right shoulder as he charged. Smoke blew in his face the closer he got to the fire burning a few yards beyond the line of vampires.

He grabbed a bloodsucker and threw him over his shoulder and into the valley for Gunner and Alistair to deal with. He needed to break the vampires’ focus. They had the upper-hand with their weapons and Stone had to turn the tables into his favor. He had to break their line and take away their weapons.

Snarls, barks, and roars filled the air behind him as vampires screamed, cried out, and wailed.

He coughed, a deep, hoarse sound, as he ripped another vampire from his weapon and flung him into the valley.

His eyes caught the deep red ones ahead of him and he ducked away between the trees as bullets struck the trunks.

The Council member he saw before jumped from the bushes and tackled the gunman as screams filled the air.

Lightning cracked overhead and down came the rain.

Hisses from all around and above made his fur bristle. There were far more vampires present than he thought.

[They’re everywhere!] Stone exclaimed to Gunner and Alistair as he ducked under the arms of a pine tree.

[Carina came prepared this time,] Gunner said. [She’s giving this one her all. The final battle.]

Stone peered out between the needle-pointed branches.

Smoke billowed up over the tops of the trees as the downpour began to put out the fires. Shadows moved among the trees across the valley as growls, grunts, and shrieks continued to resonate.

A handful of vampires ran out into the valley, smoke curling from their backs, their heads burned and melting at the back of their scalps as the rain eased their suffering.

Alistair pranced around them, his tongue lolling out the corner of his blood-drenched muzzle, before snatching them up and tossing them into the air one by one and ripping them apart as they fell to the earth.

A loud shout signaled a spur of vampires to come running out of the forest, wielding silver weapons of all shapes and sizes.

Alistair threw his head back and howled before barking in laughter and charging after them.

Gunner came barreling out of the forest across from Stone as two Council members ran out from other parts of the forest toward the first wave of vampires.

About to sprint forward with them, the bullets in his calf and shoulder made him wince, reminding him that he’d been wounded.

Leaning back against the tree trunk of the pine, he dug his nail into the gaping hole in his calf and dug the bullet out.

Checking in with Aubree to let her know that he was alright, he knew he’d just have to bear the bullet in his shoulder for now because he couldn’t reach it on his own.

Gwen and Gavin were itching to help but knew better than to leave the house unguarded. The fact that they had yet to encounter any vampires was a relief in itself.

A howl of pain erupted, wrenching Stone’s attention back on the fight before him.

A silver scythe was plunged into Gunner’s upper hind leg. As the vampire tugged it out, Gunner’s massive paw swatted him away, knocking him fifty feet back.

Hurdling forward, Stone dashed across the twenty-yard gap in the valley and tore the filthy vermin apart.

Swift feet ran toward him and he spun around in time to plow his fist across another vampire’s face, crushing his skull and knocking him to the ground.

With a quick jerk of his arm, he ripped the vampire’s head off and tossed it behind him.

Out of nowhere, two vampires charged with swords raised over their heads. Stone twisted away from one and kicked him to the ground while Gunner attacked the other.

As the vampire scrambled back to his feet, Stone stood on his hind legs, grabbed the vampire’s leg and swung him around at another vampire charging at him. Knocking that one down, Stone flung the vampire in his paws to the ground, pressed the paw of his injured leg against his back and pulled.

The vampire he knocked down rose to his feet and charged at him again.

Stone picked up the wailing, one-legged vampire from the ground and used his body as a shield against the other’s attacks. A battle-ax nearly cut the soulless creature in two.

Before the bloodsucker could dislodge his ax and swing it again, Stone used the body to shove him back a few yards before tossing the corpse and lunging after the ax wielder and ripping him apart.

Amora howled two short calls of warning making the fur on the back of his neck stand on end.

[Guinevere! Gawain! Update!] he commanded.

[Smoke, Papa,] Gwen responded immediately. [All I can smell is smoke.]

[They’re using that as their cover and means of destruction,] he said. [Be prepared.]

[We got company, alright. All around us,] Gavin confirmed.

Cursing, he reached out into the pack mind-link as he slammed two vampires together with his massive paws.

[Where is Carina? Find her!]

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