We spent the morning presenting our plan for the rest of the group. As I explained, I made sure to watch Archer's reaction. We were going to break his mind and I wanted to make sure that he understood everything properly before he agreed or disagreed. But I couldn't read him.
I finished my speech and we all looked to Archer. He didn't say anything. "Archer?" I said. "I need you to understand what we are going to do to you. If you don't want to, I won't push you but you also need to understand what is at stake. If Icarus gets to you, you won't be able to resist his commands."
He closed his eyes and looked extremely concentrated. As if he was searching for the right answer, going through every option available. Then he opened them again and crossed his arms.
"I only have one request," Archer finally said. We all looked at him anxiously. "Shay is the one who's going to break my mind and I want none of you in there with us."
My own mind collapsed for a second. "But, Archer... We need to be there if..." "Exactly, Rieka. Shay won't hold back and if we need me to be ready, I can't have any of you distracting me or making sure that I'm not pushed too far. I have to be pushed beyond my limits, as you said yourself."
I sighed. Using my own words against me... I knew that he was right but I didn't like it. Archer looked at Shay. "Do you agree?" He asked. Shay smiled and nodded slightly. "Whatever you say, hunter."
Then he nodded his head towards the house and Archer started walking. Shay followed right behind him.
Just before they walked through the door, I grabbed onto Shay's sleeve. "Shay..." He turned around and put his hand to my cheek.
"I'll only do what's necessary, Rieka. I promise you, " he said and kissed my forehead. Then he let me go and continued inside.
The three of us were left standing outside in the garden. "What now?" Everly asked. I turned around, gathered myself and acted like the alpha wolf I was.
"We trust Shay and leave them to it. The three of us will spend the time figuring out how we are going to approach Icarus when he returns."
And that was what we did.
I soon noticed that it was possible to hear Archer scream occasionally inside the house so I decided that we were going to use the packhouse instead. That way we could concentrate and not constantly having to fight the urge to run down and see what horrors Archer was going through.
"We need to catch him here, Harvey, " I said and pointed at the circle on the map of the forest. "It's best if we can keep him occupied until dawn where the moon is no longer amplifying his powers. From there, you know what to do."
Harvey nodded. Everly still didn't look like she understood. "What is it, Everly?" I asked. "It's just... You're talking about splitting us into two groups. But you're the only one who can burn him. And Harvey is the only one who can kill him. I just don't see the reason."
"I know. We would be stronger as one group but we can cover more ground as two groups. Besides, the second we find him, we send the signal along with our location, " I explained again. "Besides, we're all wolves. Well, Harvey is not but he is just as fast as one so we'll find each other in no time."
"Okay, " she surrendered. "So, two groups. You and Archer, and then the three of us?" I nodded. "I can burn Icarus which gives me the advantage, so it's better if I'm on the smallest team. I have a connection with Archer from the past so I believe that I will be able to reach him if Icarus is underestimated."
"Alright then. But you also need to be careful. He might not be able to touch you but I don't doubt for a second that he doesn't have another trick hidden in his sleeve."
Harvey was still silent. He was resting his elbow on the table and his head in his palm while he kept staring at me. "What are your thoughts on this?" I asked him, hoping that it would make him look the other way.
"I'm sorry, " he said. "You just sound so much like her." He smiled and leaned back into the chair. "Diana?" I asked. He nodded.
"She also always had a plan which she believed in with her whole being. Just like you do right now." He chuckled. "Nothing could shake her when she had made up her mind."
Then his smile disappeared. "But I am warning you, Rieka. I agree with this plan because I believe in you, but Diana's stubbornness was the thing that killed her in the end."
We were all silent for a few moments. "I have been meaning to ask you this, Harvey, but... I mean... It's a very personal question so I don't expect you to answer. I was just thinking... Diana was marked like me..." I looked at the mark in my palm. "If Icarus couldn't touch her then how...?" I couldn't bring myself to ask the final question.
"How come he could kill her?" Harvey finished for me. I nodded and avoided his eyes.
He sighed. "I wish I could tell you but I wasn't there when it happened. I left her because I knew that Icarus couldn't touch her so she would be safe..." I could see that he was hurting but I couldn't stop him now. He could remember something important. Something that could help us bring Icarus down for good.
"But... I did notice something odd when I found her." Everly and I moved closer. "Her hair. It had always been white like yours, Rieka. But it was completely brown. As if her purity was gone. Just like the mark in her palm."
I gulped by the thought. Could that be why Icarus got to her? By removing her purity. How could he do that? Was he that powerful? Could he do that to me too?
We didn't have much time to think about it. The light outside darkened. The room turned red just like the moon outside.
He had returned. Icarus was back.