After a few steps, I break free from Joshua’s hold and run back to the unconscious warrior. Just because we are in haste does not mean we have to be reckless.
“Shadow what are you doing? We do not have tim…” His sentence gets interrupted when he sees me kneel down and pull the bottle that contains the lethal gas from the warrior’s pocket.
“Okay, now we can go.” I get up and secure the bottle in my inner jacket pocket. Joshua does not waste time as he grabs my hand once again and starts to run. He, however, is focused on running that he does not hear a branch break right before us. As a result, we are faced with another warrior. He is a few years younger than the one Joshua knocked out a minute earlier. His features are sharper, more cunning. The warrior gives us a smirk before he pulls a small bottle from his pocket and smashes it to the ground. A second later, he is running away in his wolf form.
Joshua looks at me in horror as I immediately feel the toxic gas make its way into my lungs. The witch walks up to me and puts his hand on my cheek.
“What are you doing?” I say with difficulty, I can feel my body going weak rather quickly. Joshua, however, does not answer me; he chants for a few seconds before he retrieves his hand and looks me in the eye.
“The spell will resist the gas, but it will only last for thirty minutes, we need to move.”
“And do what? We are literally running around with no destination, no solid plan, and we have no idea where Clay is.” I yell as I throw my arms high in the air. I feel like sitting by a tree and cry for a few days.
“Listen to me. We are not going to allow any innocent lives to be lost. Do you hear me? We cannot lose. Xander put his trust in us, we have to be worthy of that trust.” I nod and wipe the unshed tears from my eyes.
“Yeah you are right, let us do it. He went that way.” I point to my left and follow the path the warrior took. Despite Joshua’s spell, I can feel the silver travelling in my veins, weighting me down and gradually shutting my body off. I feel Accalia becoming weaker than me; our connection feels like a ghost.
We find the warrior with a black circle around him. He looks at me with tired wolf eyes, he is too weak to even growl at me. I kneel down and study the black powder that creates the circle.
“Do not touch that!” Joshua’s voice rings in my ear. I give him a confused look.
“It is a barrier spell, similar to the one I put around the border. The difference is the powdered silver.” The witch points at the black powder.
“The barrier itself is made of silver. They really thought things through…” He says through gritted teeth.
“Can you break it down?” I stand up as I glare at the warrior who watches our exchange with his exhausted eyes.
“Yes I can. Although it would not be wise.”
“A spell like that is not easily broken since the powder was spelled a few days prior. It will take a lot of time and a power that I barely have. Not to mention, they can have more tricks up their sleeves. For all we know, he can be mind-linking the rest of the warriors right now.” Joshua points at the wolf inside the circle. My head starts to pound, and my vision blurs, but I refuse to show it even though I know it is a matter of time before my body succumbs. Regardless of my frail state, I hear someone curse just a few miles away.
“Can you put him out like you did to the other one?” I ask.
“Why? What are you thinking?” The witch gives me a raised brow. I try to speak, but I am suddenly out of breath.
“Shadow? Are you okay?”
No, of course I am not okay, I can feel the silver destroying me from the inside out! I scream in my head what I wish I can say to his face.
I lose my footing, and lean to my right as I try to find a tree to lean on, I am panting at this point. For a second, I lose my vision as well.
“Shadow watch out!” Joshua warns.
Too late. I step inside the circle giving the warrior a chance to rip me to pieces. Abruptly, he turns back into his human form and wraps his strong hands around my neck. Even with being chocked, I notice that the air in the circle is clean.
I try to break free from the warrior’s choking hold, but I am too weak; the silver is already in my system. Joshua raises his hand to attack the warrior with his magic when I am suddenly pushed out of the circle and fall in Joshua’s embrace.
“Are you okay?” The witch seems extremely concerned. Unable to form words, I just nod as I pull away from him.
I manage to remain on my feet for a few seconds before my legs give up and I start collapsing. Luckily, two familiar strong arms wrap around my body preventing me from colliding with the ground.
Shadow, are you okay? Clay’s voice rings in my head bringing me comfort and a sense of home. He is here, he is okay, and he is not dead.
“Who are you? Let her go!” Joshua pulls his hands up defensively. My hands roam Clay’s body until they wrap around his neck.
“Clay…” I whisper with a weak voice. Joshua immediately relaxes and pulls his hands down. My best friend’s grip on me tightens.
I am right here Shadow. I hum.
“Are you Clay?” The witch points his finger at Clay in question. All Joshua receives is a tight nod.
“You need to take her back to the territory, the gas is killing her.” When my best friend attempts to comply, I force him to let me go, but I still lean on him.
“Shadow, if you stay here for much longer, you will die. You need to leave.” Joshua seems like he is ready to pull me onto his back and take me to the border himself.
He is right. Clay agrees.
“I am... I… I am not leaving.” It becomes a little too hard to breathe, let alone talk.
“No… Clay… just… jjust hear me out. Weee… We have to figure out… a… a n-new plan.”
“No Shadow, we need to get you to a clean environment before you die. Talk some sense into her!” Joshua angrily directs the last part at Clay. The witch grits his teeth when he does not receive a reply.
“Clay… is… he is... mute.” That seems to take Joshua back for a few seconds before he regains his composure.
You’re not going to try and convince me to go back? I turn to Clay.
I know you better than that. I give him a smile before I collapse. The only thing that prevents my body from getting crushed into the ground is Clay holding me close and getting into his knees as we both go down.
“Shadow!” both Joshua and Clay yell in unison, but I ignore both of them. Instead, I look at my left hand as it rests on the soil underneath it. I stare at it for a few seconds before my eyes become wide open and I face the two men who watch me with concern painted on their faces.
“I… have… I have an idea.” I declare even though I feel the air literally being knocked out of my lungs.
Shadow, you need to save your breath…
“No… just… just listen to me, and then… I will…teleport back.” I try to minimize my words as soon as possible, and they seem to satisfy both Joshua and Clay. I wish I can use the mind link so I do not have to waist my limited air, but then Joshua will not hear or understand me.
“You know how…” I start coughing vigorously. Clay rubs my hands in comfort and Joshua leans down next to me beside Clay.
“Shadow, listen to me. I am going to do a spell that allows me to dive into your brain. I need you to let me in and only think of your plan. Can you do that?” I try to nod, but I am too weak to move a muscle. Nevertheless, the witch takes my silence as a sign of agreement. He places one hand on my head and starts chanting lowly, I close my eyes and try to imagine myself opening the door of my mind to him. Unfortunately, this backfires when I start to feel extremely dizzy and feel like my lungs are on fire.
“Shadow, you are a genius!” Joshua exclaims as he removes his hand from my head.
“Okay, you need to leave, now! The necklace will allow you to pass the barrier because the necklace was used in creating the spell.” I look at Clay with a blurry vision feeling reluctant to leave him behind even though he does not seem to be affected by the silver that is in the air.
Shadow, I will be fine, I promise. I need to know that you will be. Please go, I cannot lose you too. I nod with teary eyes. I give Joshua a final look before I touch the necklace with the tip of my fingers and teleport right into another set of strong arms, these ones are a little stronger.
My vision becomes unfocused and I gasp loudly as I desperately try to breathe. Regardless, I can hear someone’s hurried footsteps as they run towards me.
“Shadow, what is wrong?” Alec’s hand touches my cheek. When he sees my condition, he collects me in his arms and starts running towards what I assume is the infirmary.
A couple of minutes later, I am laid on a bed that smalls exactly like Alec, the alpha sits right beside me on the bed. The way his hands shake as he pulls my hair away from my face tells me that he is terrified.
“Shhh… It is okay, you will be okay.” He places his hand on my mouth, but I need to tell him about the new plan, he needs to know.
“Alec… the... the… warri…” Once again I start coughing only this time I can feel the blood in my throat causing me to get up abruptly and vomit a pool of blood on Alec’s lap. All the while, ‘my mate’ rubs my back softly in a comforting manner. Once I am done, he helps me lay back down. He tries to conceal it, but I see the trepidation in his glassy eyes.
“Shadow, please do not try to talk, you will only hurt yourself, Josh contacted me as I was bringing you here; he told me everything, so please try to relax honey.” Alec leans down a little bit so he can meet my eyes though all I see is a blur of his figure. I can, however, feel his tender fingers against my face and his soft hand holding mine.
“Do not worry, everything is going to be okay, the doctor is on her way. I just need you to hold on okay?” All he receives is a whimper, my lungs are utterly deprived of air, I cannot breathe. Tears pour out of my eyes as fear consumes my heart; I have never been this scared in my entire life. Every part of my body is numb, my lungs are on fire, my throat is bleeding, and my eyes feel like a grenade threatening to explode at any second.
“I know you are in pain, but please hang on just for a few more minutes. Please Shadow, I cannot lose you, you are the only hope I have. You cannot leave me, please Shadow I am begging you.” Despite my eyes being almost blind, I can see his eyes turn bitch black and I see the wetness in them. Amoux is crying, if an alpha’s wolf cries, it means the situation must be really bad.
I tighten my hold on him as I feel myself being seconds away from either passing out or dying, I cannot tell the difference. All I know is Alexander Cresswell’s eyes are the last thing I want to see before I am thrust into oblivion.