“Devon! Wait!” I shouted to her fleeing back. Fuck. I was still waking up from sleep and the sex coma she had given me on our second round. It was more intimate and slower than the first time, and without the light show to finish, but that woman just wiped me out. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and rubbed my face awake.
I heard Devon start to run down the hill outside and I considered shifting to my wolf and foregoing clothes, but no. A burning house needed helping hands, and therefore I needed clothes. I jumped up and started to scour among the bedsheets and cover on the floor. By the time I had my jeans and shirt on, I still had a boot missing when I heard a garbled wail of a scream outside. Fuck, that was Devon, still close to the guest house.
I ran to the front door without shoes and around my parked truck to look down into the center of the Ring. The perfect full moon was visible for the moment, but was threatened by quickly moving clouds coming from the West. Another house was in the beginnings of lighting up and a breeze wafted across the large clearing and up to where I stood. The smell of acrid smoke hit my senses as well as blood. I tensed.
A lot of blood.
I searched around for Devon. She had to be close with that loud scream. My eyes scanned and stopped at the Wardwell house on my left. She was kneeling on the ground in the yard, her back was towards me and there was a figure dressed head to toe in white coveralls standing right in front of her. Suddenly screaming up at him, something beneath her hands on the ground convulsed. Like she had electric paddles and restarted someone’s heart. It seemed she didn’t even notice.
I then recognized what she was kneeling at, its smell hit me from even this distance. A dead body. The white suit pulled a machete out of nowhere and aimed it down on her. My stomach lodged in my throat and I started sprinting towards them when halfway there I was stopped in my tracks. The hair on my neck and arms rose and my inner wolf refused to go any further. His innate sense of survival was telling him to back the fuck up.
Not far ahead, Devon had risen and walked over the body, smoke rising from the ground on either side of her feet. Her assailant was now walking backward, wary of her and whatever she was saying. The air around us buzzed with electricity, and a charge that made me wince and the wolf inside yelp. I looked up, Devon was still advancing on the man, fury holding her body rigid. She was terrifying to watch, like a specter stalking prey. She screamed something about 'burning' at him, when from above, lightning flashed down on the two.
I flung myself to the ground as the flash blinded me and the crack caused physical pain to my sensitive hearing. After a moment, I raised my head to look. Devon was curled over, crying with such force that she vomited. I started to push myself to my feet when I felt the air charging itself again. Every instinct in my body told me to run back in the house, but the sight of six more men, identical to the first, running straight towards Devon went against the instinct.
I was at a loss. The air was telling me there would be another strike, but Devon was in the middle of it on her knees, almost supplicant to the sky’s fury. My choice was taken away when the charge burst through and multiple strikes hit the ground within 200 feet of where we were all standing. I again threw myself on the grass and covered my head as best as I could. Again and again lightning flashed and thunder clapped and I felt it all through the ground. I lost count of how many there were until after ten seconds of silence, I looked up. The hairs on my arm were silent and my base instinct wasn’t howling for cover. Whatever just happened was over.
I pushed myself up and ran over to the front yard of the house, first coming up to the body lying on the ground. I dry retched as I saw the position of the neck and head, as if it now functioned as a hinge to open and close a box. Taking in her features, I recognized Francis Wardwell vacantly staring up to the clouded sky.
A faint groan from ahead sounded and I remembered Devon thirty feet away. As I approached, little smoking mounds of churned earth appeared in sporadic places where lightning had struck the ground. She was curled up in a fetal position on her side. Blood and dirt now covered her once white Henley as well as her hands, and her dark jeans were sodden with what I assumed was Francis’ life blood. Her boots had the rubber sole melted off of them and on her left foot, the sole had been burned completely through and her sock at her toe was alight.
I rushed down to her feet and grabbed a handful of dirt, smothering her foot, and dousing the flame. Looking down the hill at the men in white, all I could smell was their char and death. They were not getting up. I closed my eyes and listened. Nothing was moving nearby. If any more of these assholes had come tonight, they were long gone.
Seeing her legs twitch, I moved to Devon’s face. Blood marked her neck and there were scorch marks around her ears and edges of her face. She looked like something the earth spat up from its bowels.
“Devon, I’m going to pick you up now, kay?” She didn’t respond, and I placed my hand on her cheek when I was suddenly shocked.
“Shit!” I muttered. Looking down the hill, the first lit house had now been doused, though everyone seemed to have run for cover when the lightning began. No help was coming. I positioned myself to pick Devon up in my arms. Sliding my hands under her, the initial electric shock zapped me again but I pressed through recoiling. I began the walk us down to the center and hoped to hell they had something like a clinic on this place.
It wasn’t until the early afternoon when I could return to Devon’s room at their healing house, after taking part in the search for bodies. Six of my pack dead. Three as humans and three as wolves. It looked like one of my wolves had been able to kill one of them however, the pride I would have felt extinguished with the fact that it also cost the wolf his own. The Witches caught it worse though. So far they had counted 21 of their 102 members dead, much in the same manner that Francis Wardwell had been slaughtered.
The other attackers on the hill were all very dead by electrocution and nothing personal had been found on them besides each having a necklace and a distinct tattoo with tally markers on their forearms.
I crossed the doorway and found an older woman at Devon’s bed side, looking down at her. The older lady smoothed Devon's hair away from her face in a loving manner, much like I had done the night before. I cleared my throat and the woman looked up at me, undisturbed to be caught in the affectionate gesture. She was the Witch elder from the treaty signing, though, for the life of me I couldn’t remember her name.
She gave a grimace as she looked at my blood stained sleeves. I answered her unspoken question.
“Six wolves.” She nodded solemnly and looked back down at Devon.
“Do you know who they were?” I asked.
“Hunters, I imagine,” she replied simply.
“Hunters? Hunters of who? From where?”
“Hunters of us, of course. Weres, Witches, night children, shifters, anything unnatural I believe is their aim.” I shook my head in disbelief. I hadn’t heard of any real hunters in North America, and even those from the old land in Wales hadn’t been seen in a few decades. The thought that Devon had been face to face with one churned my gut. I pulled out the necklace found on the men and held it to her eye level. There was a small metal pendant with a mark I didn’t recognize on the end of the chain.
“This was the only thing they had on them, I assume it is some kind of talisman.”
She held it in her hand and grimaced as she ran her fingers over it.
“Something like that, yes.”
I then handed her my phone to show her the pictures of the men’s faces, now lying in the back of my pickup. They would be taken to the Res and thrown in a pit, and then set alight, the bones never to resurface.
“Do you recognize any,” and I scrolled through the eight men’s faces.
She looked on impassively.
“The third one delivers the commune mail and the last one I’ve seen in town a few times.”
“Fuck.” They had reconnaissance on the commune, and most likely on my Res too. But we were far more spread out and many of us were not ‘in’ the pack, rather, just normal Native Americans living on their home nation. I had already alerted my father and the few pack members who had chosen to stay behind for the weekend. Not taking her eyes off of Devon, she asked.
“What have you surmised?”
“Well, elder, it’s not good. They wore no personal clothing or anything to identify them. Those cameras on their heads weren’t just recording, they were transmitting, meaning there are more of them somewhere and they have seen faces.
They knew we were having a party and made their move when we were all more or less asleep. They started a fire to make confusion and get everyone out of their houses and picked them off as they were coming outside. It screams organization and training. If it wasn’t for what happened near the guest house, I’m not sure anyone would have realized what was happening until much later.”
She stroked sleeping Devon’s hair again.
“Tell me what happened near the house”
I recounted the five brief minutes of lightning strikes and what I witnessed of a terrified and angry Devon finding Francis’ body and making the men suffer for it. The elder Witch wiped a tear from her face, still looking down.
When I had finished she looked up, confused.
“Well, let’s keep that story to ourselves for the moment, shall we. ...And when you say Devon, you mean...” she pointed down to the woman in the bed.
“... Kelly Devon Jones?”
I pursed my lips as I remembered her reluctance to give me her name.
“I guess I do.”
“Uh-huh. You two left the bonfire together, was there anything strange before the attack?”
I looked down at the new Kelly, wondering how much I should tell.
“Well, she made the lights nearly blow out.”
“What did she say when that happened?”
Oh god, this was getting awkward.
“She...uh.. she didn’t notice it at the time it was happening.”
The Witch’s eyes narrowed on me.
“...She didn’t notice?”
“She was kind of... in the throes of an extreme emotion at the time, elder.” Her face scrunched in thought and then seemed to understand as she gave me an unamused glare.
“Okay.. anything else?”
“She did have a slight...vibration to her from when we first met and throughout the night. Another wolf and I could hear it, but it seemed too low for even her to feel it.” The elder scrunched her brow in thought.
“She hasn’t done that before?” I asked.
“Kelly hasn’t been back to the commune for a few years. Her aunt told me though that she went through something emotionally big last week, so this might be new.”
“Well, where is her aunt now?”
Looking down at Kelly’s face, she moved some of her bangs aside.
“Her aunt was Francis Wardwell,” she spoke with mourning. I looked at the two together and I again saw a flash of the pain and rage that filled Kelly’s face in that front yard.
Overcome with sadness for her, I also had a strange desire to comfort and take care of her as I gazed at her sleeping face. Bring her back to my small cabin up the river and spend nights in front of a fire. I studied her, she definitely seemed changed since I saw her in the firelight of the pyre. There was something more... elemental to her. Healers had cleaned her up, but I would never forget finding her half buried in the dirt with scorch marks on the fringes of her clothes and blood covering her nearly head to toe.
“Is she doing it now?” The elder asked, referring to the vibration.
I reached out and touched, almost caressed, her resting hand. She was still.
At my touch, Kelly stirred and her eyes fluttered open, coming to rest on me. She gave a weary smile and I couldn’t resist.
Her smile faded at my emphasis of her name and she noticed the presence of the elder on her other side. Looking over she muttered a low “shiiiiiiiit” before moving to sit up in bed. The elder looked down at her with the same unamused stare she threw at me not a minute ago. This woman was unforgiving, even to the injured who saved her coven. Once fully upright, Kelly looked between the two of us and turned to the elder.