Chapter 8: Declan
Looking over the two sisters standing in front of him and the other heirs, Declan was at a loss for words. What the freaking hell was up with this chic? She should have been out for at least four more hours with the number of injuries she sustained, and there was no way she should have been standing.
There was something seriously off about her, and Declan made a mental note to check if there was anything in the Council Library that would give him some insight on what she was.
Declan was definitely the brains of the group. In his mind, almost any answer could be found in the pages of a book, and, because of this, he was the one they always turned to for answers.
He didn’t have the witty comebacks like Lachlan, or the strength and fighting skills of Roman, or even the leadership and quick thinking of Callum, but he prided himself on his knowledge of all things historical and political.
But, no matter how much he wracked his brain, he couldn’t figure out what the hell was bothering him about this girl, or why she would be so intent on getting away from them.
Was she really that afraid of them? Or was it that she was trying to hide something? Callum had mentioned earlier that she may be a spy for Bernwill, but then why would she be so intent to leave?
It just didn’t add up. Besides, she clearly had some form of magic if she could heal that quickly, and Bernwill didn’t have any more magical people living there.
Bernwill, Lockhelm's neighboring region, used to be known for its incredible warriors and unique mages, but in the first Great War that took place centuries ago, Lockhelm managed to defeat the magical population of Bernwill, making a treaty that stated only nons could live there.
Nons were the nonmagical population, and Bernwill eventually became a refuge for them since they tended to be so defenseless against a shifter or a mage.
It all happened so long ago that people often didn’t remember the time of Bernwill’s great magical warriors anyway. Declan only knew of them from an old journal he found in his father’s private library. It was worn and tattered, but it held stories and information that Declan had never seen anywhere else.
The entries told of incredible warriors that were so powerful they could defeat a whole pack of shifters with their bare hands, with strength so great they could move boulders the size of houses. Declan didn’t believe in all of it, but he was awestruck by the sheer brutality that these warriors were known for.
In the war, they became known as the Hunters, due to the fact that they were used by the Bernwill leaders to plunder and destroy any and all magical beings they came across.
It was rumored that they had a bloodlust inside them that, once they came into their full powers, was so great, it took over their every thought, driving them to be killers like no one had ever seen before. Mage families were decimated, and entire packs were murdered in cold blood.
Lockhelm almost fell to the Hunters, and the only reason they didn’t was because of the royal family at the time. Lockhelm used to be ruled by a King and Queen, much like Bernwill was, only Lockhelm also had a council that aided the royal family in their decisions.
Joleene was the name of the Queen during the Great War, and her husband was known as Mateo. At the time, they were the two most powerful beings alive.
Mateo was a descendent of the Origin shifter himself, and Joleene was a mage rumored to have been blessed by the Goddess with a power so great, she could move mountains with a single wave of her hand.
Together, they formulated a plan to stop the Hunters and win the war. One day, the King and Queen journeyed into the forest to enact their plan, never returning.
Days after they left, the forest became a weapon in and of itself, killing any Hunter that dared enter the treeline. Animals joined forces and the trees came to life to create a defense for Lockhelm, and it was the only reason Lockhelm was victorious.
Although the King and Queen were never seen again, the forest stayed alive until every last Hunter was eliminated, ensuring the safety of Lockhelm forever.
At least, that was the story in the journal. If you looked in any of the Council’s history books, you would find that the war was won by the Council after the King and Queen were killed in battle. Without an heir, there was no more monarchy, and the Council began to rule over Lockhelm in the years following the war.
Hunters were purged from books and records until, eventually, they became simply a tall tale that was lost in time, and Bernwill became the sole home of the nons, vowing to remain an enemy to Lokhelm forever.
Since this girl was clearly not a non, she definitely was not from Bernwill, but she very well could have been a spy that they recruited from Lockhelm. Whatever the case, Declan knew that they would have to stay wary of her, just in case.
“What the hell were you doing in one of our patrol cars?!” Callum growled, stalking up to the two girls. Oh shit. He was pissed.
“Why do you care?” The older one asked, still remaining in a fighting stance.
Callum suddenly stopped his pursuit of the girls, seemingly taken aback by the girl’s line of questioning. “Why do we care?! Why do we care?! Because you traipse on into our lives, covered in blood, and despite our better judgment we decided to bring your ass here to save you! And you know what? You haven’t given us a lick of thanks! And I-”
“Oh, you want fucking thanks?! What the hell am I supposed to thank you for?! Threatening my sister? Kidnapping us and taking us away from our home? Ruining our lives?! Just let us go!” At this point, they were full-on yelling and Declan couldn’t contain his bubble of laughter. He hadn’t seen Callum this pissed in a long time.
“Your home? You call that place your home? You’re damn lucky we took you out of that shithole before you got your ass beaten, little girl. Bad things happen to girls who can't defend themselves, but you look like you know all about that, don't you?”
The blonde in the back suddenly lurched forward to try and grab her sister, but it was too late. Lunging forward, the sister in front grabbed Callum's arm, pulling it forward to punch him in the gut before swinging around and flipping him on his back. Suddenly, she had a dagger in her hand and was holding it to his throat.
"Well, shit. That came out of nowhere." Lachlan chuckled from somewhere to his left.
At the same time, Declan heard a deep growl from Roman to his right, and he knew that if things escalated any more, they would have a serious fight on their hands. An angry Roman was not to be messed with.
"Hey, now, let's not get trigger happy here. We don't mean you any harm. We honestly just wanted to help you and your sister, so please drop the knife." Declan raised his hands to pull off the innocent look, and she glanced up to him.
"Then tell your asshole of a friend to mind his manners." If looks could kill Declan didn't think he would have made it to his next birthday. The stare she was giving him was full of so much hate it nearly suffocated him.
Before he could respond, the younger sister was at her back, with a hand on each shoulder. "Ad, don't so this. This isn't you. Rein it in, Ad," She continued whispering calming statements until, slowly, the older sister relaxed, stepping off of Callum and sheathing the knife in her belt.
Getting up quickly, Callum glared at the two girls. "For that, you owe us your names. We could have your fucking heads, you do realize that, right? Who the hell do you think you are?" Declan grabbed his arm in an attempt to calm him down, to no avail.
It was the younger sister who spoke this time, stepping in front of her older sibling while still keeping their hands clasped, as if it was a lifeline.
"We aren't here to hurt you, and we are nothing worth bothering with. I am very sorry my sister acted in that manner, but, you have to admit, we were sort of ambushed, thrown into the back of a car, taken somewhere completely new against our will, and then verbally provoked. Please, do not hold this against us. We are simply low-level mages who have had to learn to survive on our own in the harsh villages surrounding your great city.
"My sister has had to become a fighter in order to protect us both, and it has hardened us in ways you cannot imagine. Please, we are not fit for life in a castle. It would be best for everyone if you would let us go back to the life we have made for ourselves in the village."
He had to give it to her, this girl was much more civil than her older sister, and made a very convincing case. However, there was one hole. "If you're such a weak mage, then how did you heal so quickly?" He asked skeptically.
"Don't ask me, you dipshit. Maybe y'all thought it was worse than it was and took us for no damn reason?!" Declan had to bite back another laugh at the look on Callum's face as the older girl said her piece once more.
Any more smart-ass comments from her and Callum would have steam coming out of his ears.
"Whatever the case, we do need to know your names. Somewhere in between attempting to steal our patrol car and attacking my brother here, you have potentially made yourself an enemy of the council, so the least you could do in return for us offering you our protection and discretion would be to tell us your names." Declan remarked diplomatically.
"You can quit with the smart person speak, we weren't offered the same high-class education as you were-"
"Ad, would you please shut up and let me handle this?! You're gonna get us killed!" This came from the younger sister, who had stepped in front of her sibling to block the boys from her line of sight.
"Thank you." Looking exasperated, the blonde turned back around towards them.
"If you really wish to know, then I'm Elle and this is Addie. We are sisters who, as I said, are low-level mages that have never been of any consequence to the council. We truly mean you no harm."
Deciding to give them a break, he stepped forward, offering the same courtesy. "Thank you. I am Declan, and this here, to my right, is Rowan. The furthest to my left is Lachlan, the jokester of the group. Lastly, the one you have so easily managed to piss off is Callum, the leader of our little brotherhood and future council head." He saw the blonde girl, Elle, widen her eyes at this, and smirked at her before continuing.
"We honestly don't mean any harm to you, but I am very sorry to say that we cannot let you go. If those men in black are actually after you, then we cannot simply send you back into their line of fire."
The older one, Addie, opened her mouth to speak but was cut off by a glare from Elle. After what felt like forever, the staring contest ended with Elle apparently being the winner.
Turning back around, she faced us with a defeated look on her face. "Fine, but while we stay here, we ask you to please keep us out of your line of fire. We are of no consequence to you, and if you insist on keeping us locked in the castle, the least you can do is let us make our own lives for ourselves."
"We will leave you alone as soon as we very well know that you speak the truth and are not here to harm us," Callum grunted.
"We don't even want to be here!" Addie screamed, and Lachlan began laughing hysterically. "What the hell are you laughing at?" she stalked towards him until he stood up straight and looked her in the eye.
"Not you, little bird. Callum. I don't think he's ever gotten refused this badly." He barely got the words out before Callum reached over and hit him in the back of the head, effectively silencing the laughter, but still failing to wipe the smirk off Lachlan's face.
"Shut up, asshole. For that, you have to ride back with the girl," Callum grumbled, heading back over to his bike.
"What the hell makes you think we're riding back with any of you?" Addie said, beginning to make her way back to their commandeered patrol car.
"Oh no, you don't! You are both coming back with one of us. If you tried to get out once, who's to say you won't drive off and do it again? Addie, you're with me. Elle, go with Lachlan." Callum was now in his leader mode, and there was no way he was budging on this one.
"I'll call Frankie and tell him to have one of his men grab the car on the way back from patrol," Declan said, heading back to his bike.
With a little encouragement from her sister to 'behave,' Addie relented and made her way over to Callum's bike.
This was definitely about to get interesting, and Declan couldn't wait to see how it all went down.