The Rogue Hunter

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The Released

Jonez View

Things happen so quickly. One moment I'm in pain, the next I'm experiencing pure euphoria, and then I'm on the ground in my wolf form, Alastair, still locked in a mate bite, now with the form called Syl.

As we release each other the amber stone next to us breaks apart. The four inside drop to the ground, unharmed, although slightly disoriented. One of the women recovers first and immediately states, "What seems like only moments ago we were staring in the eyes of a demon, and yet images of many others have passed before our eyes, how long have we been imprisoned?"

Her hands indicate the stone fragments about them. The others look around, astonishment setting in as DoJo returns to human form, causing me to do the same. DoJo tells them, "From what I understand it's been well over a millennium or two."

"Who are you?" The bigger, and darker, man asks in a deep, demanding voice.

I wince just slightly, not in fear of him, but in fear of DoJo's response.

DoJo grins as she informs him, "I am the Silver Luna Demon Hunter, and the only person who could have freed you, so that the one amongst you who is destined to kill Helios can fulfill their destiny."

The other man asks, "And where is Helios?"

I shrug my shoulders. "He has a habit of showing up when you least want him to."

The other female says softly, "Forgive my associates. It seems a near eternity spent mostly in self reflection has done little for their manners. I am Berenice."

The large man offers, "I am Heliodoro."

DoJo looks at him oddly. "Can you spell that for me?"

He slowly approaches her, then gently presses his first two fingers to her right temple. After a few moments he drops his hand and nods briefly. He takes the stick and writes his name in the sand floor of the cave.

DoJo looks at it and announces, "That's a little close to Helios. I think I'll call you Lio for short, if you don't mind." As she circles the three letters out of his name.

He nods his head with an easy smile. "I appreciate the new name for the new life."

The other man quickly writes his name, Agamemnon, in the sand.

"A-Game it is, for you." DoJo says with a playful punch.

The woman who spoke first takes the stick and writes, Jagna.

"Jag is appropriate for you." DoJo declares as she looks the woman over.

Berenice takes the stick and writes her name.

DoJo thinks it over for a minute before offering, "We can call you Berry, cause it's hard to tell if you're deadly, or just wild."

"Deadly when I want to be." Berry announces with a wink.

I look around and offer, "I'm Cajun Jonez, but most people just call me Jonez."

Lio slaps me on the back and states, "I believe you just became Alpha Jonez."

I feel my eyes widen, it hadn't occurred to me until now what being the mate of a Luna means.

A-Game slaps my other shoulder. "Don't worry, your wolf looks like he can handle it."

Alastair beams with pride inside my head.

DoJo smiles, a happy smile that encompasses her eyes and makes them shine, almost like a nightlight in a dark room.

"With her I can do anything." I declare with a smile of my own.

Jag comments, "Not much of a wedding ceremony, I'm afraid."

DoJo laughs and tells her, "I had all that the first time around, don't need it again."

The four released look back and forth between DoJo and I. I point to the translation DoJo did. "She actually found her second chance first."

"But that's unheard of." Berry asserts as she starts pacing.

DoJo shrugs her shoulders. "My second was older than me, and my first is younger, so I guess it could only work backwards for me. Besides without that I wouldn't match the instructions left."

Jag laughs hysterically. "She's just so practical." She says when she stops laughing, as Jag points at DoJo.

DoJo grins as she replies, "I lead a great army of demon hunters, being practical in times of uncertainty is a sought after skill to those with less responsibility."

"A great army? Are they waiting outside?" A-Game asks enthusiastically. He starts towards the exit.

I call out, "There's no one else here!"

Lio looks at us. "You're telling me that you came to get us and face battle with no backup what so ever?"

DoJo laughs. "Why would I need more than what is destined to be?"

"You are an intriguing choice." Berry says with a soft chuckle.

"Choice for what?" I ask, resisting the urge to release a little chuckle with her.

"You may be the leaders of a demon slaying army for the rest of your days." Berry explains, "But, in this moment you are also ambassadors of your time."

"You're here to help us understand the world we've been released into." Lio clarifies.

I suggest, "Maybe we can teach on the go? After all I'm fairly certain Helios has kept an eye on this cave since he imprisoned the four halflings here."

DoJo nods her head. "How careless of us to stay here this long."

"Exit plan?" A-Game inquires.

"Jonez and I will lead the way, pair up and follow behind." DoJo answers, almost mechanically.

It's interesting to see how she handles having to lead, after getting to know who she is when it's just us, and we can just enjoy being ourselves.

I grab her hand, and even though I instantly know the weight she bears on her shoulders, and I'm suddenly acutely aware of where everyone is. Without looking I know that Lio and Berry paired up, and are right behind us. A-Game and Jag are paired, bringing up the rear. What I can't tell is who the traitor is. What is certain is that everything in this moment is perfect, everything makes sense, and nothing will ever be the same.

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