I am frozen; in shock. I do not know what to do or how to react. I cannot even distinguish any of the emotions I feel because of how overwhelming they are.
I remain on the floor staring into nothing until Shadow appears in my vision and offers me her hand. It takes me a few seconds, but I eventually take it and allow her to pull me up.
Once on my feet, I look around the basement to see that neither Chance nor Amara are anywhere to be seen.
“He took her to her room and called both Brook and Hope. Alec, are you okay?” My mate answers my silent question.
“She… She just…” I stutter as I struggle to find the words.
“I know, but as much as you are devastated and shocked, this is not about you; this is about Amara. You need to be there for her just like the past few years.” Shadow holds my hand and guides me out of the basement.
When we enter Amara’s room, Brook is examining her bicep while everyone, minus Josh, waits outside.
A few minutes later, Brook gives Amara a cup of what looks like water before she heads to the door and gesture for Shadow and I to follow.
“Is she going to be okay?” My mother asks as soon as she spots us.
“Um, the mark on her bicep, it is identical to the ones the warriors had on their bodies. And according to the description Chance gave me, it is on the exact same spot Owen touched her.”
“What are you saying?” Lorenza whispers.
“I am saying that she does not have long. Until night falls, maybe until midnight at most.” My hands twist into fists as my anger rises and Amoux goes numb, almost as if he is not in my head anymore.
“Is her sin decaying?” Shadow asks.
“Not yet, I am guessing it takes sometime before that happens.”
“There has to be something we can do.” I say between clenched teeth.
“I gave her some sleeping herbs. Apparently, the pain is unbearable so I figured if the last few hours of her life are going to be filled with pain, then she is better off sleeping until… you know…” Brook trails off.
“I meant a way to save her, Brook.” I growl.
“If there is a way, then the only person who knows about it is Owen himself. However, if we have any chance of saving her I am certain it must be before the decaying starts.”
Then it is a good thing that we have him tied up in Josh’s attic. Clay gives me a knowing look.
“I… I cannot leave her. She just saved my life and you want me to abandon her?” I look at Clay as if blood pours out of his eyes.
“Hey, look at me.” My mother puts both of her hands on my cheeks and forces me to face her.
“He is not asking you to abandon her; he is asking you to save her from dying because he knows that none of us will be able to handle the pain of her dying.” She gives me a forced smile.
I turn to Shadow and she gives me an encouraging nod.
I will come with you if you want. Nick is already there with Joshua.
“Okay, um, mum, hope, and Brook, I want you to stay with Amara. Report to me every single thing that happens. Lorenza, I want you to gather the strongest warriors we have and to keep guarding the borders and the waterfall; this could be a move to distract us from seeing a coming attack. The rest of us will go to Josh’s house.” They all nod, but before everyone goes their separate ways, I raise my hand up, asking them to wait.
“No matter the circumstances, do not pull your mental walls up, I want to be able to reach every single one of you if something happens.” Then, I run to Josh’s house with Shadow, Chance, and Clay following me.
“Are you sure it will work?” I ask Nick for the third time in the last five minutes.
“Yes Xander, I am sure.” The witch gives me an annoyed look. I turn my attention to Owen. He is unconscious, held down by chains in a metal chair that seems to be pulled out of a horror movie.
Somehow, his hat is still on his head. I have this urge to take it off, but I do not find it in me to touch the bastard. I except Amoux to mock me for my cowardliness, but he remains as quiet as a dead person’s scream.
How exactly will this work? Clay asks with a grim expression.
“Well, I will touch Owen’s temple from each side as I chant the spell. Once I give you the signal, Owen’s inhibition will be down; he will become unaware what he should or should not say. Therefore, he will tell us everything we want to know. The spell also puts him in a daze so he will not even realize who he is talking to.”
“This is brilliant.” Shadow murmurs.
“And what will you do?” Chance gives Nick a raised brow.
“I will be maintaining a containment spell that will detain the bastard in this circle.” I look down at the circle on the floor that surrounds the chair Owen is in. It is made of black ash or at least that is what it looks like.
“I thought you said he will be in a daze?” I turn to Josh.
“Well, we figured with what just happened, it would be wise to have a contingency plan.”
“Good point.” I look down at the floor, feeling shameful for not thinking about having a backup plan of my own.
Should we do something? Clay looks at Owen with a calculating glance.
“All you have to do is ask the questions. Do not waste time; the duration of the spell is unknown, and do not forget any vital questions. We will be focusing on chanting; we will not be able to ask him anything.”
“When will we begin?” Chance asks.
“Well I cannot perform the spell on him unless he is conscious. We have to wait for him to wake up.” Josh says, the anger I feel radiating off of him can cause an earthquake.
We wait for five minutes, every minute feels like an eternity of pain and misery as I think of how Amara is doing. She cannot die; I will not be able to forgive myself. If I cannot save her, then I will not only fail her and my pack, but also myself as well. This kind of pain will be intolerable.
“What the hell is this? Where am I?” Owen thrashes in his chains. Then he turns to me, and his angry expression turns to an amused one.
“What are you doing here Xander? I thought you would be next your sympathy case comforting her as she takes her final breath.” I growl at him, but Amoux does not react; he remains silent. I take a threatening step toward shim, but Shadow stops me by wrapping her arms around me and whispering some comforting words.
When I pull away from my mate, I see Josh step into the circle behind Owen, and Nick immediately puts his palms in the air where the circle’s line would be if it was a wall. When Nick nods at his brother, Josh grabs Owen’s temple and starts chanting as well.
We watch as Owen’s eyes turn as white as snow before Josh gives me a nod.
“Are you a werewolf?” I ask without hesitation.
“Alec, we already know he is not.” Shadow whispers in my ear.
“I want to make sure he is not immune to spells or whatever by asking him things we already know the answers to first.” I explain and she gives me an agreeing nod.
“No, I am not.”
“Then what are you?”
“I am part of a species that has been erased from history, a species the supernatural world has no idea exists. I am an encantado.” His voice sounds weird; it is not devoid of emotion but of life as well. As for his expression, it is as blank as it can be.
It seems the children’s book was right after all. Clay’s posture relaxes a little.
“Meaning you inevitably turn to either dolphins or sea snakes at night.” Shadow says.
“Yes; that is why I never did any patrols during the night.”
“Where does your kind originate from?” I ask.
“We are Brazilian creatures, we are found near the Amazon River.”
“What did you do to Amara?” Chance asks above the low chanting.
“I used one of my kind’s powers against her.” Owen vaguely answers.
I think you need to be more specific Shadow. Clay tells him.
“What is this power exactly?”
“We cause illness and death by a single touch.”
“We touch our targets with our palms. At first, the body starts to decay from the inside, and then the decaying begins to appear on the skin. Once that happens, it is only a matter of an hour or less before the target dies.”
“How can we stop it?” I snarl.
“It cannot be stopped.” I am about to attack him, but Clay holds me back.
Alpha, if we hurt him, we will not be able to get any more answers.
“He is lying!” I seethe and struggle in Clay’s hold.
“As much as I hate to say it, he is not lying, Xander. The brothers said he will reveal the truth without knowing it; he cannot lie.” Chance answers.
It takes me a few moments to collect myself and turn my attention back to Owen. I am scared, angry, and sad but I choose to focus on one step at a time. We might not be able to get an opportunity like this again, so I force myself to feel brave.
I try to think of all the questions I had, but my fear for Amara causes my mind to hit a wall.
“What other powers does your kind have?” Shadow rescues me.
“We control minds.” All of us, even the brothers, look at each other with knowing looks; another thing we knew just got confirmed. I am about to demand to know what he used this particular power for, but he continues talking.
“We get our powers from the holes in our heads. That is why we always wear hats on our heads; to hide and protect our source of power.” Chance walks towards him and takes his hat off of his bald head. Even though we already knew it existed, it is the first time we have ever seen it. It looks weird, peculiar, like nothing I have ever seen before.
Ask him how long he has been conspiring against the pack. Clay suggests and I comply.
“Longer than anyone would ever believe.”
“How long?” My tone gets a little higher.
“Six years.” I actually stumble at that answer.
“How so?” I whisper; somehow the betrayal and hatred I feel have increased because of these two words.
“My king sent me to become your friend and earn your trust. So we can have control the waterfall. Things did not go as planned since our first plan did not go as we expected it to.”
“What first plan?” He does not answer me.
“I said, tell me what your first plan was.” I growl.
“I mind controlled the six werewolves to attack Amara. And then I mind controlled you and made you torture and kill them. Well, I mind- controlled your wolf; made him lose any sense of humanity he had.” The room turns silent as the wheels in my mind turn.
“You made him kill the six werewolves…” Shadow murmurs as she too attempts to comprehend that piece of information.
“I made him kill the doctor too and attack the Fairchild witch. I am the one who made him go into his ‘angry episodes’” The triple crime, Doctor Lewis, Josh’s scars; the worst three things I committed, he made me do them. He basically turned Amoux and I into a monster. I feel Amoux twitch in my mind, but other than that, he remains quiet.
“Why did you make him do that?” Shadow screams as her eyes start turning to black.
“Why did you mind control him to do these things?” She clarifies as I turn to the wall and lean my weight against it. I do not know how to feel or what to think. I am not relieved that I did not do these things out of my free will. I do not know how I feel, but it is definitely not relief.
“I made him kill the werewolves hoping the entire nation would turn against him, and that the Amazonians would execute him or imprison him. Sadly, while the nation did turn against him, the Amazonians did not deliver the punishment we were hoping for. And what made it worse is that his whole pack stood by him. Therefore, we had to come up with a new plan. As for the doctor and the witch, I intended to try once again to turn the pack against him. However, my king did not want that to happen. Thus, I had to penetrate the minds of everyone who wanted to overthrow him and made them believe that he is the best fit to be their alpha. That includes the doctor’s family.” The sound of thunder tells me that Josh is angry, furious even. I turn my gaze to see that his hold on Owen’s temple tightens.
“What is your new plan?” Shadow wonders.
“We started killing werewolves of high ranks to cause chaos among the packs. Unfortunately, the Amazonians were nowhere to be found. So we improvised. When the alphas decided to have a meeting, another one of my kind, a close friend of mine, penetrated their minds, and implanted the idea that your mate is the one behind the killings. Since they were mind controlled they did not question the false possibility…”
“The attack on Nolan right before Shadow first showed up in our territory.” I cut him off as I recall saving my gamma.
“Yes. My friend also mind controlled the alphas to send the warriors. The warriors were supposed to kill everyone in the territory, and leave it empty for our disposal. However, you managed to ruin our plans forcing me to kill the warriors in order to initiate yet another new plan.”
“What did you do to Nolan?” I hiss.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, where is my gamma?” If Amoux was feeling his usual self, he would have fought for control to force an answer out of Owen.
“I do not know.”
“What do you mean you do not know?”
“I was ordered to penetrate his mind and make him a spy so he would report to me every move you made; that is how I knew you were aware about being mind controlled; but someone else from my people kidnapped him. I do not know where he took him.” I growl as I turn around and hit the wall I was leaning on.
Six years is a long time to go after something, why are they being so persistent? Clay studies Owen closely from outside the circle.
“Earlier you said something about controlling the waterfall. Is it because it is a portal to your realm?” Shadow’s eyes return back to normal.
“It is more than that.”
“Elaborate.” She orders.
“Yes, the waterfall is important because its waters create an entrance to our realm. You see our realm, the Encante, is a deep underwater realm. Even though it is under water, the realm itself is similar to the ground; it is almost like it is surrounded by an invisible shield that keeps the realm dry.” He stays quiet for a few seconds before continuing.
“There is an entrance, or more, to our realm in every realm that exists. The one that is in your territory is the most important because it is connected the lake right by the king’s castle. Therefore, that waterfall is scared to us; every heir’s first transformation must happen in it.”
“That does not explain why you would make an enemy of us. We did not do anything to you!” I glare at him.
“The spell… is about to… break.” Josh says between chants.
“Tell me, why did you target us? What does the waterfall has to do with anything? Why is it so important?” I ask urgently.
“For the past decade and a half, the water in the waterfall has mysteriously and gradually been drying. At first, the king did not think much of it, but about a year after it started drying, it became obvious that something was wrong. The problem became severe when about eleven years ago, the king’s heir was born. If the waterfall continued drying, then the prince would not be able to transform in its waters on his sixteenth birthday, which is the age when our kind first transforms. Thus, he will not gain his rightful powers that will allow him to become the king after his father. Knights were sent into each entrance in order to find a replacement to the waterfall in our realm.”
“And the waterfall in our territory is the perfect replacement.” I finish for him and chance and Clay both growl.
“I was sent to this realm nine years ago. Ironically, we did not know that there is an entrance in the castle’s waterfall. Hence, it took me three years, but I finally discovered it. Therefore, my king and I formed a plan; I would join the Open Wound pack and I would find a way to rip them from their territory and steal the waterfall’s water.”
“You are the one who murdered the previous head warrior five years ago…” I trail off.
“The original plan was to kill the Gamma, but I realized I would need him in the future, I was right.”
They must have become desperate to involve other packs. They only have five years until their prince is sixteen.
Suddenly, like a hurricane, Amoux’s anger erupts as he fights me for control. For the first time ever, I allow him to reveal how furious he is because for the first time it is justified and I do not reckon I have the right to take that away from him.