Madelyn

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-16-

“She’ll come back when she’s ready, Connor,” Brian said softly to him.

“But, why can’t I hear her?” Connor asked. “I could hear her when she slept earlier, her mind was a jumble, but she kept calling out to me.”

“They’ll do that when they’re first changed, Connor. It’s like they need their mate with them constantly.” Brian paused, considering. “Connor, you can’t hear her, but can you feel her?”

“No.”

Brian’s face paled slightly.

“What, Brian?” Connor asked as he watched his Elder, and his friend.

“Richard and Marie used to talk about how Madelyn wasn’t safe. They wanted me to find them a place to make a home for themselves, where Maddy could just be a kid, play and run free as they did when they were children. A place where she could grow up without them feeling she needed to be watched 24/7.”

Brian paused before moving to the study to rifle through some papers he’d found.

“Ah, here it is,” he said, holding out a binder opened to a list of names. “This is the list of tutors I’d gathered for Richard and Marie to teach their daughter. I presented it to them one day when they were insistent upon sending Maddy away to a boarding school.”

Connor took the binder and looked at the list.

“I know.”

“You know?” Brian asked Connor, stunned by the admission. “How?”

“Madelyn was just 7 or 8 years old when you gave them this list, Brian. I know because she was outside on the porch, listening to the rain, when she heard you and her parents arguing. I happened to be at the bottom of the stairs when I heard her move, so I went to investigate. She was kneeling outside the study, beneath the window. Her focus was on what was going on inside the house, so she didn’t feel or hear me approach. She turned and saw me, then backed against the wall as she watched me before her attention finally turned to the argument inside again.”

Connor looked over the list of names, noting that all of the people on the list were Garou. ‘Clever of Brian,’ he thought.

“They had me convinced someone was after her, Connor,” Brian said. “I readily believed it, and felt that if she was to stay here, she would be safest. There was also the thought of my wife’s vision. If she were to leave, there was a chance you would lose your mate, and I wasn’t going to let that happen to you.”

“Thank you, Brian,” Connor said softly. He silently looked over a few other pages in the binder before continuing, “Madelyn listened until she noticed the rain had stopped, then she took off running into the woods. I followed her, of course, until she came to a small clearing by the stream near the edge of the property. She sat there, listening to the sounds of the wood, and playing with blades of grass, and I watched her while she was there. Eventually, she dozed off. When she did, I came close and as I did, a boy came out of the woods on the other side of the stream.”

“A boy?” Brian asked, frowning.

“Yes, a boy. He looked to be about Madelyn’s age, with the same eyes and hair as she had. He was dressed strangely, his clothing made from a very light and flowing fabric that might have been fluttering in the breeze had there been enough of it. But his clothing wasn’t cut to do so, except that his sleeves were cut very full, almost like a peasant blouse. I growled a warning and it was then that Madelyn awoke.

“She looked across the stream at him and two men stepped from the wood to stand behind the boy. They were dressed similarly to the boy, and wore their hair long and tied at the backs of their heads.” Connor was known as an observer. He could be at full alert, fur raised, growling, yet notice the tiniest of details. So, it did not come as a surprise to Brian that he had noticed all of these things. What surprised him was that he remembered them after so long.

“Did you notice anything else?” Brian asked him.

“Not until Madelyn ran and was back at home,” he replied. “Marie was at the edge of the wood, calling for Madelyn to come home. She seemed agitated when Maddy finally burst from the trees, and scolded her for running off. It was not something she’d ever done before. I watched from the cover of the trees for a while and not long after Marie took Madelyn inside the house, she came back outside and went to the far side of the clearing.

“There, two men emerged from the wood. They were dressed very differently than the two who were with the boy. Their clothing was harsh and heavy. Their hair was cut short, and their eyes were black. Marie spoke with them for a bit, and I caught bits and pieces of the conversation, but the wind was not in my favor, so I did not hear anything relevant.”

“What did you hear?” Brian asked, very interested to learn all he could about Marie and her visitors.

“They were talking about Madelyn, and I heard one of them say ’she’s not dead, is in Sa Sakor,” and that’s all I heard them say.”

“Sa Sakor?” All color left Brian’s face.

“Yes, Sa Sakor is what they said, but I don’t know who they were speaking of, or why they spoke of her. And I’ve never heard anything more of this place since. I didn’t know who to ask or where to begin looking for it, and I didn’t know why Marie would have any interest in anyone from there. I’ve never learned why, either.” He looked at Brian questioningly. “Do you have some answers for me?”

“I may, but not at the moment. I will have to do some research and make contact with someone I never thought I’d speak with again in this lifetime.” Brian stopped, looking down at his hands. When the silence seemed like it was an ending to the conversation, he said quietly, “I think Madelyn’s mother and brother may be alive, Connor.” He paused again. Sighing, he continued, “And they may have Madelyn.”

The room went silent. The men looked at each other. Connor paced.

“It’s been long enough. I’m going to look for her, Brian,” Connor said finally.

“I’ll stay here, Connor, and watch for her. If she returns before you do, you’ll know,” Brian replied.

Connor nodded as he stripped his clothing from his tall frame and changed to his wolf. Charcoal grey fur emerged from smooth skin to cover his powerful frame. His eyes changed to the color of raw honey as his bones and joints rearranged themselves.

It only took him a few minutes before he reached the small clearing at the edge of Madelyn’s property. He took the time to sniff around the clearing. It wasn’t long before he located the place where she’d taken a drink from the stream, and the place where she’d laid down for a nap. While taking in the smells around where she’d lain, he detected another scent. This scent jogged something in his memory, a time when he and Madelyn had been here once before, when she was a child. He’d watched over her as she slept.

His reliving of that scene was interrupted as he caught a scent, fresh, and turned his head at the sound of branches being pushed away. It took him only a second to follow the sound and scent. Whoever it was, they were running as fast as they could, and he had to grant, they were fairly fast on their feet. But, they were not too fast for him to follow, and he continued after them, silently, as they made their way to their destination. The sounds stopped as the forest around him began thinning and he slowed just in time to keep from emerging into a small clearing. A man dressed in flowing blue garments ran across the clearing toward a boulder formation at the other side.

As the man disappeared into an opening at the center of the formation, Connor was sprinting across the clearing, entering the formation right behind the man.
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