Chapter Fifteen: The Missing Queen
“There’s only eight!” Park called out. “Where the fuck did the other two go?”
Paxton looked around and found them at the bushes he had seen Laila duck behind. “Laila!
“Paxton!” Park shouted when his brother took off towards the two hyenas behind the bushes.
“How are we going to get home if we keep getting attacked?” Mark asked with a growl as he fought off two hyenas.
Loud growling came from the other side of the woods.
“Great, now what?” Park grumbled as he shook off another hyena.
Ryce had a hyena pinned to the ground and looked up when he heard the growling in the woods.
Ten coyotes came out of the woods, and Ryce howled.
“About fucking time, you lot got here,” Ryce said to the newcomers.
“We send you on one mission, and you nearly get yourself killed twice!” The Chief of the coyotes said.
Ryce snorted then ripped the throat out of the hyena he had pinned to the ground.
“It would seem that you could use some help,” the leader said, looking at Park.
If bears could smile, he would be grinning right now. “Should have known you wouldn’t be far behind your little brother.”
The coyote laughed then commanded his pack to attack, and they swiftly dispensed of the seven hyenas.
“Was that all?” The coyote’s Chief asked.
“There was two more,” Park said, “Paxton went after them. They’d gone after...” He looked at the bushes and saw no Paxton or Laila. “Laila!” He called out panic gripping his heart. “Paxton!”
Park and the others ran to the bushes and searched for his mate and brother. No sign of either of them.
“Paxton!” Park called out.
A loud howl and a bear’s angry growl could be heard further in the woods. They moved to follow the sound, but Paxton came into view, and Park breathed somewhat easier. But where was Laila?
“Denver, how nice to see you,” Paxton said as he joined them, a hyena in his mouth.
The Chief of the coyotes chuckled. “Looks like you have your mouth full.”
The other coyotes laughed.
“Where’s Laila?” Park asked a he stared at his brother and the struggling hyena in his mouth.
“I was hoping to get those answers from this one,” Paxton said, “the other one had an accidental break down.”
Park frowned or as much as a bear could frown. How can they do that when they can’t hear his thoughts? Then he remembered that the coyotes could hear the hyenas, they’re all K-9’s.
Park and Paxton could hear Denver because they were all Pack Chiefs. The Great Spirits had at least been smart enough to let the leaders communicate with each other.
“Set him down.” Denver said, and Paxton set the hyena on the ground.
The hyena went to move, and two coyotes were on top of him, preventing his escape.
“I know you know where the queen is,” Denver said.
“She ain’t no queen...” The hyena said then howled when a coyote bit into his flank.
“We will try this again,” Denver said, pressing his snout against the hyena’s. “Where. Is. The. Queen?”
The hyena howled as another coyote, sunk his teeth into his shoulder.
“I don’t know!” The hyena screamed. “We went to take her out, and she disappeared!”
Denver looked up from the hyena and stared at the two leaders of the bears then told them what the hyena had said.
“He’s lying!” Paxton yelled.
Denver shook his head. “You know they cannot lie to a Chief.”
Park cursed. “How could she have just disappeared?”
“What’s going on? Where’s Laila?” Riley asked as she joined them.
“The other human, she must die!” The hyena shouted when he saw Riley, then tried to get at her.
Two more coyotes jumped on the hyena as Riley yelped and pressed herself against the black bear.
Denver pressed his front paw against the hyena’s throat. “Why must the second human die? She’s not royalty.”
“Because she’s their healer!” The hyena yelled and fought to be free, so he could take out the human.
Denver looked at his brother, and Ryce nodded in confirmation.
“Fuck,” Denver said, then looked back at the hyena. “Does anyone else know about her?”
“Just the ten of us.”
Denver looked at Paxton. “Park had said that there had been two more. Did you kill the other one who was with this one?”
Paxton chuckled. “Did you miss my joke Denver? Are you getting that old?”
Denver snorted when the bear’s joke popped back into his head. ‘The other one had an accidental break down.’ He shook his head then looked back down at the hyena.
“No witnesses,” he said, then tore the hyena’s head off.
Riley screamed as she hid her face against Mark.
“Was that fucking necessary?” Park asked.
“He knew too much. Riley’s gift must stay a secret. They were ordered to kill the queen and your healer when they found her,” Denver explained, looking at the bears.
Paxton and Park growled then relayed the information to Mark. Mark growled, then backed away from Riley and shifted. She fell into his arms, and he held her close, wondering if he should tell her. He turned from the others and walked with her away from them. She needs to know, so he told her.
Park looked at Denver. “Did you really have to rip his head off?”
Denver laughed, “I happen to like Alice in Wonderland. Off with their heads!”
Park and Paxton laughed.
“Now, let’s find your queen and get the fuck out of here,” Denver said.
They searched for an hour with no sign of her. Even the Osprey searched with no success.
They didn’t want to leave the area, but it was starting to get dark, and if she had taken off towards home, they’d like to find her before their enemy did.
Laila moaned as she opened her eyes. Where was she? She slowly looked around her surroundings. She was still beside the bushes, the Hyenas hadn’t killed her after all.
She could hear several voices in her head, some she knew, the others were new.
“Park!” She screeched when she heard his voice.
“She’s not here!” Paxton bellowed.
“I’m here!” Laila screeched. Her voice sounded so different, so soft. “Park! Paxton!” She screamed. “Can’t anyone hear me? I’m HERE!”
She sat up and moaned. She ached all over. What had happened to her? She placed her hand to her head then squealed as she stared at her small pink furry hand that wasn’t a hand. She looked down at the rest of her body and screamed as she jumped to her feet.
“What the fuck?!” Laila squeaked. “Someone put a spell on me!” She cried out.
How else could she explain this?
She looked back at her tail and groaned. Someone has turned her into a field mouse! Why not a bear, so she could have helped the others?! Nooooo, they had to turn her into a fucking field mouse!
And now no one can see or hear her.
Was that their intention? Make it so no one can ever find her, and what about their sons? Are they safe in this form?
“Let’s go,” a voice she didn’t recognize said, “maybe she headed back to your house to escape the hyenas.”
“NO!” Laila shouted as loud as she could. “I’m down here! They transformed me!” She cried out. “Somehow,” she whispered.
She could hear everyone moving to leave and got on all fours then scurried around the bush. This was an odd feeling but somehow exhilarating too.
“Park! Paxton! Please, I’m down here!” She cried out.
Park paused for a moment. “Did you hear that?”
“What?” Paxton asked.
“I thought I heard Laila. But in a really soft voice,” Park said, then shook his head.
“You’re just projecting her voice in your head because you want to hear her,” Paxton said.
“Yeah. You’re probably right,” Park said with a sigh.
“NO!” Laila screamed. “You heard me! Park! You heard me! Please!”
Park shook his head again, then started running towards home.
“Damn it!” Laila screamed. Her small voice was becoming gruff from all the screaming. She’s never screamed so much in such a short amount of time before. And her little lungs and throat weren’t strong enough to keep up. A small tear slid from her little eye.
“How can I keep up with you?” She said with a huff of air as she sniffled then took chase after them.
Laila looked up as Nova swept down and picked her up in her claws.
Great now her Osprey thinks she’s dinner.
“Nova! You drop me this instant!” Laila yelled at the Osprey.
Nova squawked and dropped the field mouse.
Laila screamed as she fell. She hadn’t thought this through! She guessed falling to her death was a little better than being eaten by her son’s Osprey.
Laila looked up just as Mekhi caught her.
“Mekhi!” She cried.
“Now, how did you get yourself into this predicament?”
Laila laughed then told her Osprey what had happened.
Mekhi squawked. “I should have searched the bushes!”
“It’s not something anyone would have thought to look for,” she said.
“Maybe it’s not permanent.”
“I hope not,” she said with a sigh. “I don’t know what will happen to the babies if I stay like this.”
Mekhi squawked then dove down in front of the group of shifters. They all stopped and stared at the Osprey.
“He has something in his claws,” Riley said as she stared at the bird.
“How are we going to do this?” Laila asked.
“I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
“Who do you want me to deliver you to?”
“Park, he had heard me earlier.”
Mekhi flew towards Park. Riley squealed when she saw the mouse in the Osprey’s claw. Mekhi held the field mouse in front of Park.
“I think he wants to share his meal with you,” the unfamiliar voice said.
Everyone except for Mark and Riley laughed.
Laila figured that was because they were the only ones who couldn’t hear the coyote who had spoken. She’ll have to ask her mates later why they can hear the coyote.
“How do I tell him that I don’t eat mice?” Park asked the others.
“Very gently,” the coyote said with a laugh.
“Get me closer to Park,” Laila whispered.
Mekhi flew closer to Park and held Laila in his face.
“Dude!” The coyote yelled.
“Mekhi...” Park started to say, then stopped when he saw the field mouse’s eyes.
There was no fear in those seafoam green eyes.
“Laila?” Park whispered, confused.
Everyone looked at Park as if he’d completely lost it.
“Hi Park,” Laila said in her tiny voice.
Park instantly shifted and took the mouse from Mekhi and held her up to his face.
“You are sooo cute!” Park said with a grin then rubbed her stomach.
Paxton shifted and cautiously walked over to his brother. “Park?”
Park turned to Paxton, still grinning. “It’s her Paxton. It’s Laila!”
Paxton frowned at his twin. “Look, I want to find her as much as you do, but this is ridiculous.”
Park held the field mouse in Paxton’s face.
Paxton looked into the seafoam green eyes of the field mouse and sucked in a breath. “Laila?”
Paxton took the field mouse from his brother’s hands and started kissing her little head. “I thought I’d never see you again,” he said as he continued to kiss her.
Her little giggles were just too cute!
“How did this happen?” Park asked as he slid his finger down her back.
“Paxton, stop slobbering all over me,” Laila said, still giggling.
“What’s going on?” Riley asked as she, Mark, Ryce, and Denver joined them.
Paxton turned to them with the field mouse in his hands and held her out toward them.
“The Ospreys found Laila.”
They stared at the twins as if they’d completely lost their minds.
“Hi guys,” Laila said as she waved her small paw at them.
“Ohmigod!” Riley squealed. “Laila?”
“How?” Riley asked as she moved over to her best friend. She was just too damn cute. Riley took Laila from Paxton and cuddled her face against the soft fur.
“Hey!” Paxton hollered, glaring at Riley. “Give us back our mate.”
“She’s just so damn cute,” Riley said as she rubbed her nose against Laila’s fur.
Laila giggled, “give me back to them before they have a conniption.”
Riley sighed as she handed her best friend back to the twins. Mark wrapped his arms around her, and she leaned back against him.
“So, how did this happen?” Ryce asked.
Laila told them her story of how she’d found herself a field mouse, the others had to move closer so they could hear her tiny voice. When she finished, everyone stared at her, then looked around at each other.
“So, do you think the Dark Wizards cursed you?” The coyote Laila didn’t know asked.
Laila nodded her little head. “How else could this have happened?”
“We will send a message to Vectore once we get home,” Paxton said.
“See, I told you I had heard Laila,” Park said, nudging his brother.
Paxton snorted, “yeah, yeah. So, you have better hearing than the rest of us.”
“Who’s the new guy?” Laila asked.
The twins chuckled.
“Denver,” Park said.
The coyote shifter looked at Park.
Park gently took Laila from Paxton’s hand and walked over to Denver.
“Meet our mate Laila, Queen of the Animals, Mother of the future Kings.”
Denver fell to one knee. “My queen.”
“Laila love. Meet Ryce’s older brother, Denver Turner. Chief of the coyotes,” Park said.
“Nice to meet you,” Laila said in her tiny voice. “Thank you for coming to our rescue.”
Denver got to his feet and grinned at her. “The honor was mine.”