The End, The Beginning
Breena was concerned. Gabriel had refused to alert the Angel Corps to the possibility of the White Alpha coming to the village. He insisted that Zeus had eliminated the last White Alpha and it was now his turn to bring this one down. She was confident Gabriel could defeat her, but only if he agreed to kill her. She knew he was resolved to not kill again and that was what worried her the most. If he wouldn’t kill her, he would be killed. There was no other way for this to end.
As soon as they landed at the airport, they headed for the village. Gabriel, Breena and Apollo on the motorcycle and sidecar and Leonidas flying in his Gryphon form. It was early morning and the dark skies would help conceal the giant Gryphon from view. It didn’t matter to Leo, at this point he was willing to take chances to save the villagers.
He flew high above, but he could still see the motorcycle below him. The traffic was light, and the bike was flying. Gabriel was pushing the Triumph to its limit. Breena closed her eyes and held on tight as she buried her head in the middle of Gabriel’s back. She knew this may be the last time she ever got to hold him. She tried to be positive, but deep down in the pit of her stomach, she was sure this would be Gabriel’s last day on Earth.
What should have been an hour drive took less than twenty minutes. Fighting against the jet stream, Leonidas had barely managed to stay with the trio flying along on the bike well below him. Gabriel parked the bike a half mile from the village and took off running. He was barely able to keep up with Breena in her wolf form and neither of them could come close to matching Apollo’s speed.
As soon as he climbed out of the sidecar, he was off. Gabriel called to him to wait, but he was already gone and out of sight. As they neared the bridge Gabriel could hear a piercing howl from his brother. Something terrible had happened! All he could hear in his head was ‘No, No, No’!
Both Gabriel and Breena cleared the bridge completely in a single leap and flew into the main street of the village. At first it seemed abandoned, then they saw it. Tucked neatly between the fourth and fifth cottages was a giant cylinder. The cylinder was holding all the village’s children. Ranging in age from two to fourteen, all fifteen of the village’s children were crammed into the thick, plexiglass cylinder.
At the base of the cylinder was a large black box and on either side was one of Grace’s lieutenants. They didn’t move, they simply stood and stared at the two elders. Gabriel heard movement and turned to look at the opposite side of the street and found himself looking at a horrific sight. One that shocked even a battle-hardened warlock.
Apollo was standing over his mate, the black she-wolf. Evidently, she had tried to protect the villagers and had paid for it with her life. Her head was almost completely torn from her body and her eyes had been plucked from their sockets. As Gabriel watched, Apollo threw his head back and howled a single, solitary howl.
“Where is that witch?” Breena demanded.
Gabriel headed for the cylinder.
He didn’t get very far. Just three steps toward it and two giant birds landed on the ground in front of him. One an owl and the other a bald eagle, they quickly turned into two more of Grace’s lieutenants. Now all four were accounted for, but where was Grace? As Gabriel was asking the question in his mind, the evil woman’s voice rang out loud and clear through the streets of the village.
“Not another step Gabriel!” Grace commanded. “I have all of your precious little villager brats neatly contained and if you want them to live, you will stay away from them. You see the black box at the base of the cylinder, that is a high-speed air pump. Both of my lieutenants are holding one of the triggers that will activate the pump. In less than ten seconds, they will all be dead unless you do as I tell you.”
“Don’t listen to her! No matter what we do, she’s going to kill them, or worse,” Breena said quietly.
“I know,” Gabriel answered, “but what choice do we have? I will not be the cause of their deaths.”
“What do you want me to do?” Gabriel asked.
“Simple, I want to know what I’m up against and what I have to gain by not killing you quickly. I expect you take on the two guards in front of you while I watch. And I do mean both of you. If either of you makes a move toward the cylinder, the pump will be activated and that will be the end of the next generation from this village,” Grace said.
As soon as she finished saying it, Gabriel moved forward to the red-haired lieutenant directly in front of him. Breena slowly walked around the other. In his mind, Gabriel was already trying to communicate with Apollo. His poor brother was in shock, finding his mate like that had stopped him in his tracks.
“Apollo, I am so sorry my brother, but Breena needs you!” Gabriel said in his mind with as much concentration as he could muster. He had no way of knowing if Apollo was listening or was even capable of helping, but he had to try.
As Gabriel neared the red-haired man, the lieutenant suddenly shifted to his werewolf form. So, they could shift without the moon, Grace was pulling out all the stops when she built these soldiers. Not only was it a shifter, but it was massive. As soon as it shifted it had grown until it was as big as the shifted Zeus. Gabriel had no doubt that the creature would be quick and powerful as well.
What else could they do? He remembered from the report he got from Oz that they had Scythian abilities as well. He knew they could assume bird forms but what other creature and elemental forms would he be dealing with? Grace had built her lieutenants to be almost invincible, but she had kept some of the new powers she had discovered just for herself. Since watching the hidden camera in the South American cave, she had used the lab onboard her private jet to make a few improvements for not only her lieutenants, but for herself too.
Without warning, the red-haired shifter leaped for Gabriel. Its enormous mouth, filled with mucus covered fangs, was gaping open. The creature’s front claws were reaching for his throat and the beast was almost on top of him when he finally moved. He was so fast, it was only a blur, but the shifter screamed and was suddenly a wall of water. As the water rushed by, it left a wet Gabriel kneeling on the ground holding a silver dagger in both hands.
The water struck the side of one of the cottages and as it splashed up the side of the building, it was gone and in its place was a giant owl. The creature just managed to fly to the top of the cottage. It seemed that one or both of its wings were damaged, and blood was pouring out each of them. As the owl settled down on the peak of the roof, Grace could be heard giving orders.
“Don’t just sit there, attack him!” she screamed.
She repeated this several times, but the owl ignored her. Gabriel waited cautiously for the owl to attack. As he did so, he watched Breena taking on the other shifter.
Her opponent had also shifted to his werewolf form and leaped at her as well. Unfortunately for the shifter, there was no longer a young woman to attack, instead he found himself falling through a dense black mist. Flailing about, he discovered there was nothing there to sink a fang or claw into.
Breena began pulling the oxygen from the air around the shifter before he landed on the ground. As soon as he detected what she was doing, the shifter was gone and in its place was a large boulder. This presented a problem for Breena, she had no idea how to choke a rock.
She may not be able to choke it, but she had a plan. Using all her strength, she solidified just enough of her to be able to grab the boulder and pull it upwards. Using the air around her to strengthen her, Breena began lifting the stone high above the village. She was going to drop the boulder and see what happened when it struck the ground!
Once she was high above the village, she released the stone and watched as it plummeted back toward to Earth. Her elation was short-lived though. After falling half-way to the ground, the boulder was gone and in its place was the giant bald eagle. The eagle quickly turned, flapped its wings and tried to attack the black mist floating above it.
Breena tried to solidify enough of herself to strike the eagle as it dove through her, but she was too slow. Each time the eagle came through, she was too slow to be able to cause any real damage. They were at a stalemate, neither one could hurt the other. Breena’s only hope was that the shifter wasn’t going to be able to hold the eagle form for very long. Once it changed, she would be able to renew her attack on it.
As Gabriel watched the battle far above him, the giant owl shifted back to the form of a massive werewolf and leaped at Gabriel one more time. This time it changed to water right before it hit him. Gabriel was strong enough to keep from being knocked over by the water, but he couldn’t hurt it either. As the water rushed by, it gathered into a vertical column and turned back toward Gabriel.
It was now much more concentrated than before and intent on crushing the young warlock. As the water column bore down on him, Gabriel took a deep breath and calmly assumed his fire-being form. As the water struck him, most of it evaporated. There was a watery scream and the red-haired lieutenant was no more. Too much of it had been lost to the intense heat. Gabriel turned back into his human form and looked again at Breena.
Breena was still locked in battle high above the village. The giant bald eagle couldn’t hurt her, but she was finding no way to hurt it either. As the eagle came through her again, she was suddenly aware of another creature hurtling through her as well. It was another giant eagle, this one even larger than the bald eagle.
It took a second, but then Breena recognized the second eagle, it was Rayna, the other village elder. Her animal form was that of a magnificent Harpy Eagle, a bird even larger and more powerful than the bald eagle. Rayna had timed her attack so that the bald eagle never saw her coming. As a bird, Rayna was uniquely aware of how to best incapacitate another bird. As she dropped into the black mist that was Breena, she extended both talons and waited for contact with the other bird.
As she planned, her talons ran directly into the top part of the left wing of the bald eagle. As soon as she felt it, she clamped down and tore through the tendon that ran along the top of the wing. Even worse than a break, this bird would never fly again. As the two women watched, the eagle screamed and fell toward the ground. Desperately trying to survive, it shifted back and forth from the boulder to the shifter and back to the eagle.
“Where are the other villagers?” Breena asked Rayna quickly.
“Waiting in the cave. I ordered them there after our initial fight. We were no match for the White shifter, she killed four of us before we even knew what was going on. She was so fast, she had gathered the children and locked them in the cylinder before we had a chance to mount a counter-attack. Just say the word and we will stand with you, even to the end,” Rayna answered.
“No, you were right to go to the cave. Return there and wait for us. Once the children are safe, we will come for you, and thanks,” Breena said.
Rayna wasn’t happy about it, but she obeyed the order and returned to the cave.
The falling lieutenant was in his werewolf form when he struck the tree stump. His spine was shattered instantly, and the creature kept gnashing its teeth as the rest of it, broken and useless, lie motionless on the stump. Breena would see no creature suffer, not even a shifter, so she slowly descended on the twisted form and pulled the oxygen from the air and ended its suffering.
“Excellent, excellent,” Grace began, “I will be able to use both of your abilities nicely!”
Breena returned to the ground and assumed her human form, going to stand beside Gabriel once more.
“Why should we allow that, you will kill us all anyway?” Gabriel asked.
“Not true, with your powers, I won’t need any of the others. I will release the children and shall leave here if you take their place in the cylinder,” Grace answered.
There was a screech and the lieutenant standing next to the black box beside the cylinder was knocked forward. In his place, a giant Gryphon stood. While they watched, the Gryphon tore the black box from the side of the cylinder leaving a gaping hole where the vacuum had been. It was too small for the children to escape through, but the pump was no longer a threat to them.
As soon as he landed, the two lieutenants rushed after Leonidas, each of them in their shifted form. As they watched, a grey blur streaked between them as Apollo went to Leonida’s aid.
“Help them,” Gabriel said to Breena.
“I know what you’re doing, I can help you defeat her,” Breena answered.
“No, my love, you can’t. If I have to worry about you, I’m vulnerable and she knows it. That’s what she wants. The same way the previous version used Jaida to try to destroy Zeus, this one will try to use you. I need this to be just the White Alpha and me,” Gabriel explained.
Breena was torn, she knew Gabriel was right, but she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. With a tear in her eye, she headed to the end of the village where the two shifters were battling Leonidas and Apollo.
“Now it’s only you and I, show yourself,” Gabriel demanded.
“Not yet,” Grace said.
There was a hissing sound and the air at the end of the village was filled with a green smog. As Gabriel watched, both the shifters, Leonidas and Apollo all collapsed to the ground. Whatever the green gas was, it had rendered them unconscious instantly. Suddenly, there was a shot and the head of one of the shifters exploded. With a maniacal laugh, Grace stepped out from between two of the cottages.
In her hand was a small remote controller. As she walked toward Gabriel, she was talking and laughing.
“You pathetic little whelp! Did you really think this was going to be a fair fight, or even one you ever had a chance to win? If you don’t do exactly as a I say, the next bullet goes through the wolf’s head and the next one through the Gryphon’s. I could easily defeat you, but why waste the energy. You’ll do as I say, or they’ll all end up just like the little black wolf,” Grace said.
“If we don’t stop you, Zeus will. My mother destroyed one of you, Zeus destroyed another and he’ll destroy you as well,” Gabriel said quietly.
“Not once I have you. You are the key Gabriel, with you, Zeus won’t even put up a fight. Not that he could win anyway, but with you we’ll never have to worry about it,” Grace explained.
Gabriel knew what she said was true, if she had him, Zeus would willingly surrender. It was then that Gabriel decided that no matter what else happened, he would not be taken hostage. It would result in not only his own death, but the deaths of everyone he loved, and he would never allow that.
Breena had been listening and watching. As soon as she heard the hissing sound, she had turned to mist and joined the shadows at the end of the street where the others lay unconscious. Now that Gabriel had Grace distracted, she planned to try to save Leonidas and Apollo.
She couldn’t wake them up, but she could move them out of the line of fire. Spreading herself across the ground, she covered Apollo first and began moving him slowly toward the side of the last cottage. A shot rang out and struck the ground where Apollo had just been lying.
“Tell the girl to leave my targets alone!” Grace demanded.
“I promised not to ever tell her what to do,” Gabriel answered.
Another shot rang out, this one struck the ground where Leonidas had been just a second before. Breena had only moved him a foot, but it was enough to save his life.
“How long can you hold that form?” Grace asked Breena, “I’ve put the targeting system on auto. The moment you revert to your human form, you’re dead. If you leave the end of the street to try to help Gabriel, then the other two will die. As soon as I can see them, they will most certainly die. Ha ha ha.”
“Looks like it’s only the two of us and since you can’t shoot my family, I won’t be going willingly,” Gabriel said.
As soon as he said it, the young woman was gone, and the White Alpha was in front of him. With his silver coated katana Gabriel might have made a decent fight of it, but he didn’t have anything except the two small daggers and they weren’t likely to do much to the giant shifter standing in front of him. Still, he could make them count.
As the White Alpha leaped at him, he threw one of the knives directly at the creature’s left eye. Just as the blade was about to pierce the pupil, the eye was gone, and the creature’s entire head was nothing but water.
Gabriel was stunned but still managed to dive underneath the creature’s outstretched claws as it sailed just over his head. So, she could not only assume Scythian forms, but she could do so selectively. She didn’t have to be an entire water being, she could just make her heart water so there was no way to pierce it. The very idea was genius and made the White Alpha nearly invincible! How could Gabriel ever defeat such a creature?
He couldn’t cut it, shoot it, beat it or break it! But there had to be a way!
The White Alpha rolled on one shoulder, landed back on its feet and launched itself at Gabriel once more. His mind was racing and there seemed to be no way to win. Gabriel avoided another collision, but this time his shoulder was cut by the long claws of the giant shifter.
In the back of his mind, something was trying to come through, but what was it. It had something to do with Grandfather. What was it? It was something he had explained to Gabriel when he was first trying to come to grips with being a Scythian…what was it? It was simple, but important.
Suddenly the White Alpha was gone, but, where was she? Gabriel turned around completely but the giant shifter was nowhere to be seen. She was here somewhere, but where? What was it Grandfather had told him? ‘When it all seemed impossible, trust the gift.’ That was it, but what exactly did it mean?
As he was trying to figure it out, the White Alpha rose out of the very ground beneath his feet. She was right behind the young warlock and before he knew what had happened, she had both of her massive shifter arms around him. He was locked securely in her grip. He tried rolling forward and flipping her, but she simply picked him off the ground like a child. She held him dangling in the air.
He threw several good kicks into her hind legs, but she didn’t even flinch. As he hung there thinking of what to do, she began to squeeze him. She was putting enough pressure on his chest that he was finding it almost impossible to breath. Another minute or two of this and he would either be dead or unconscious. He had to do something, and he had to do it quickly!
‘Trust the gift’, ‘trust the gift’, ‘trust the gift’. The only way to survive was to trust the gift, but how.
Breena was watching the events down the street with tears in her eyes. If she left Apollo and Leonidas, they would die, but if she stayed there, Gabriel was going die. It was almost more than her heart could take.
Gabriel stopped struggling and closed his eyes. He relaxed and gave himself over to the gift. Before he even knew it, he was in his fire-being form and he could smell the hair burning on the White Alpha. It only lasted a second though and the burning smell ceased.
Opening his eyes, he was shocked to see that the White Alpha was no longer a hair-covered shifter. Now, she was a shifter covered in what looked like rocks.
“I found a Scythian that could assume the shape of a komatiite silicate rock. The kind found lining the walls of volcanoes. Even you can’t get hot enough to burn me now!” The White Alpha said with a laugh.
Gabriel simply closed his eyes and gave himself over to the gift energy inside him. The same energy that had been killing Grandfather, but in the hands of Breena, had saved Apollo from certain death. No matter what happened, Gabriel was going to let the gift energy decide his fate.
As he relaxed, he could feel himself getting hotter and hotter. He was already hotter than he had been in the Cebada Cave and he was getting hotter by the second. The cottages closest to them burst into flames. At the end of the street, Breena could feel the immense heat coming from Gabriel’s fire-being form. What was he doing, he was going to burn himself up!
Grace was no longer as sure as she had been. Her research suggested Gabriel had managed just over two thousand degrees in the cave, but he would have to almost double that to affect her in her current form. There was no way he could manage such a massive amount of heat!
Gabriel simply continued to relax and the more he gave in, the hotter he became. He was now well over three thousand degrees and all the cottages and trees with a hundred feet of him were burning. Luckily the children were inside the silicone cylinder several hundred yards away and therefore they were temporarily safe.
Breena was now crying openly, she knew what was going on. Gabriel was going to burn up the White Alpha, but he was going to do so by sacrificing himself. She was watching the end of the only man she would ever love. She could sense that Leonidas was coming to. In her mist form, she explained to him what was happening and how to save himself and Apollo. As he leaped into the air in his Gryphon form, a burst of shots rang out as the automatic firing system tried to lock onto him.
It took him a moment to locate the system setting on a small rise overlooking the village, but it took him only a few seconds to rip it to shreds. Even at that distance, he was finding the heat coming from Gabriel difficult to deal with. He must be several thousand degrees or more! If he didn’t stop, he’d surely burn himself up.
Grace had already released Gabriel and tried to move away, but now it was Gabriel who had her in a bear hug. He was refusing to let her go, no matter how hard she struggled. The outer edges of her rock body were starting to melt. She couldn’t really feel the pain, but she knew she was on the verge of death. Everything in her wanted to flee, but the young warlock had her in a vise-like grip and refused to let her go. She stumbled and fell to the ground, but he refused to loosen his grip. He was going to be with her to the very end.
The end came suddenly, the rock creature that was Grace, hit its breaking point and exploded from the inside out. There were only pieces left of the White Alpha. Gabriel already knew his time was up as well. He could feel his very fibers slowly breaking down. It didn’t hurt, but he was forced to watch Breena rushing toward him as he slowly turned to ashes.
As much as the village had been as hot as the depths of Hades just a moment before, it was now cool. The only evidence that Gabriel had ever been there was a deep pile of grey ashes and all the burning cottages.
Breena fell upon the ashes and called on her gift energy to somehow resurrect her fallen husband as she wept openly. Leonidas landed beside her and wept as he looked down at the ashes that had been his only son. He had lost his Stazia and now his Gabriel. He was in shock.
Hours later, the villagers all paid their final resects to the pile of ashes. Apollo had looked at the ashes and then picked up the body of his fallen mate and headed into the woods north of the village. Rayna had flown to the compound to notify Zeus and the others and they were expected at any time. Breena simply sat and stared. Her world was shattered beyond all repair and she was sure she’d never make it through the night, nor did she want to.
As soon as Rayna returned, her and Raven and several other villagers took up seats around the large ash circle and sang Scythian hymns. Finally, Breena could take it no more.
“What are you doing? Leave me in peace, can’t you see my heart is forever broken?” Breena screamed at the women.
Without acknowledging her, they simply continued. Leonidas took Breena in his arms and tried to calm her down. He knew she was on the verge of completely breaking down and the truth was he wasn’t far from it himself.
As they stood behind the singing women, Zeus, Jaida, Anthony and Oz stepped out of the woods. Jaida ran to Breena and took her in her arms and held her tightly. Leonidas did the best he could to explain to Zeus what had happened. He described how the White Alpha could combine all her powers at once.
“Gabriel was the only one on the planet capable of defeating this version of the White Alpha,” Oz said.
The others simply nodded their heads in agreement. Zeus knelt at the edge of the ring of ash and tears slowly streamed down his face as Oz stood behind him with his hand on the master warlock’s shoulder. They were all together, one eclectic family, all feeling a tremendous loss.
Rayna, Raven and the others continued to sing as the rest of the villagers sat or stood near the ash circle and stared at the ground. This continued through the afternoon and into the beginning of evening. Then, just as the sun began to descend in the western sky, there came a solitary eagle. Then came another and another. Followed by blue jays, cardinals, sparrows and hawks. Every bird for miles around was landing in and around the remains of the village. It was filling up with birds. Every tree limb, every unburned cottage, every post or boulder was covered in birds.
Every villager that was capable of assuming a bird form was now joining Rayna and the women at the ash circle. One by one, they assumed their bird forms and instead of human voices singing, there was the most beautiful sounding song as thousands of birds from every imaginable species sang together. It was a song the likes of which had never been heard before. Like an aviary orchestra, the sound rang out loud and clear for miles into the dense forest.
Breena couldn’t help but smile at the song being played for her beloved Gabriel. Even Oz, who had witnessed the wonders of many worlds was amazed at the events taking place before him. Finally, it was Leonidas that spoke up.
“Where has the gift energy gone?” he asked.
“What does that matter now?” Breena responded.
“It means everything,” Leonidas started, “if the gift energy has not transferred to another, then it is still with Gabriel!”
“Gabriel is no more!” Breena screamed as she collapsed into Jaida and Zeus’s arms.
“Does the energy always transfer once an elder passes on?” Oz asked.
“Always. It would have passed to Breena, Rayna or even myself if it thought I was worthy,” Leonidas answered.
Suddenly the truth of what he was saying broke through the fog of emotions swirling around Breena. Leonidas was right, the gift energy would have passed on to another when Gabriel died…if he was dead. But he was nothing but ashes, there was no life left in what used to be Gabriel. What was going on? First, he was a dragon and now he was nothing but ashes and still, the gift energy was somewhere. But where?
Leonidas was no longer standing beside Oz, instead the Gryphon was in his place. The Gryphon stepped forward and added his voice to the song being sung by the thousands of birds. As the others watched, the singing got louder and louder, until they could no longer hear anything but the eerie, beautiful melody that all the birds and Scythians seemed to know by heart.
As the last rays of the sun disappeared on the horizon, the ashes that had been Gabriel began to glow. As the glow grew into a flame, the singing got quieter and quieter until there was a massive blue blaze burning in the middle of the ash circle and the bird song was almost too soft to hear above the roar of the fire. As the fire grew, no one moved, nor did they have too.
Even though the blue fire was now as large as Leonidas’s Gryphon, there was no heat coming from it. A fire without heat? Oz was the first to guess at what was happening. He had read of the legend long, long ago in his adopted monastery and now he was seeing it come to life. As the others watched, mesmerized by the cold fire, Oz began to laugh.
He laughed openly, loud and deep. Breena, Zeus and the twins were getting angry at the little man. What was wrong with him? Couldn’t he see how much they were hurting?
“Its what comes next that has me laughing,” Oz tried to explain, “look!”
They followed his pointed finger and looked intently at the cold blue flames dancing before them. Where there was once just flames, there was now something in the flame. As they watched intently, the flames began to solidify and take form. The birds, all of them, began flapping their wings and chattering, shrieking and cawing as loud as they could.
Slowly the form in the flames grew and took shape, the shape of a bird! Without warning, the flames disappeared, and in the center, where the flame had been its brightest stood a phoenix!
As the giant phoenix opened his deep blue eyes, every bird became quiet and bowed. The legend of the phoenix was alive. After looking over all the birds and then the humans and Scythians gathered before it, the phoenix closed its eyes once more and then it was gone. But in its place stood Gabriel Warlock!
“I don’t understand,” Breena said softly.
She saw it, but she still didn’t quite believe it. Was this really her Gabriel?
“It’s me,” Gabriel said as he rushed to her, “I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how. In my dreams, I never became the dragon ever again, but I did die only to be reborn as a phoenix.”
“That explains much,” Leonidas added, “the Scythians that take bird forms are just as drawn to you and compelled to serve you as all of the other birds on the planet. The phoenix is the king of all birds…at least according to the legend. But, unlike the dragon, there has never been an actual phoenix to have been known to exist.”
“Not in this dimension, but it has been known in other realms. I first heard of the legend on this planet, long, long ago. It seems a Buddhist monk had a habit of projecting himself into other dimensions where he encountered one of the creatures. He used the experience to start the legend of the phoenix here on Earth,” Oz said.
Breena grabbed Gabriel and held him tight, deep down she was still afraid it was all some sort of dream and she really had lost her Gabriel forever. She told him her doubts, but he kissed her as she whimpered quietly in his arms. Finally, Gabriel let go and stepped back. One by one each of them hugged him as if each of them needed to be sure they were really seeing the real Gabriel.
It was getting late and Gabriel said his goodnights as he took Breena’s hand and led her under a giant oak tree. Their cottage had been destroyed by fire, but they were thankful to be together and planned to sleep under the tree on the edge of the forest. Gabriel spent the night dreaming of flying while Breena woke often to make sure Gabriel was still there.
Everyone had stayed in or near the village all night with Leonidas, Zeus and Jaida keeping a watchful eye to make sure nothing disturbed Gabriel’s rest. Oz drifted off into the forest north of the village and Anthony found himself snuggled next to the villager Raven for the evening. Rayna had left to report the events to Yellow-mane and to let him know the White Alpha had been destroyed by Gabriel.
It was a month before Gabriel and the villagers managed to rebuild the cottages. During this time, Oz was seen to be heading around the village and into the northern forest almost daily. On more than one occasion, Gabriel had tried to contact Apollo, but his brother was no where to be seen or heard from. Gabriel knew he was devastated by the loss of his mate and was unsure if he’d ever see his adopted brother again.
That evening, Oz came to the village.
“I have someone who wants to talk with you,” Oz explained to Gabriel.
With a nod to Breena, Gabriel followed Oz to the north side of the village. As they approached the forest, Apollo stepped out of the dense thicket.
“I’m so sorry brother,” Gabriel said as he dropped to his knees and hugged the grey wolf.
“My family needed me,” Apollo said.
“Your family?” Gabriel asked.
“Oz saved me and my family after my mate died,” Apollo said.
Then, out of the forest came a wolf puppy. It was huge and reminded Gabriel of the night he first found and saved Apollo. This pup wasn’t grey like his father though, he was black with amazing golden eyes.
“I don’t understand,” Gabriel said.
“It’s simple, the she-wolf had already given birth to a litter several weeks before the White Alpha’s attack. She gave her life trying to save the village children, but Apollo didn’t know how they would survive without their mother. Together, along with seven bottles, we have managed to bring seven pups to the point where they no longer need a bottle,” Oz explained.
“So that’s what you’ve been doing. But, why didn’t you tell us, we could have helped?” Gabriel asked.
“No, Apollo was right in understanding that mixing the pups with either humans or Scythians would affect their abilities to become fully wolves and to live their lives as they should in the deep woods of Canada.” Oz answered.
Gabriel could see the reasoning and understood Apollo was looking out for the best interest of his pups.
“But why is this pup here?” Gabriel asked.
“This is Artemis and she will be living with you. It’s her choice. After hearing the stories of her father’s life as a warlock, she’s decided she wants to be your newest apprentice,” Oz explained.
“But I’m no longer a warlock, those days are past,” Gabriel said.
“Not warlock, she will be Angel Corps,” Apollo said.
“Then I will train her as such. Will I see you again?” Gabriel asked his brother.
“I have much territory to rule now, but when you need me, I will be there,” Apollo answered as Gabriel hugged him.
“And tell me Artemis, what made you want to be part of the Angel Corps?” Gabriel asked the black pup.
“All boys, all the pups are boys…anything better than that!” Artemis said.
Gabriel and Oz could only laugh. Yes, Artemis would get along well with Breena!
“Speaking of which, Jaida has announced the next mission for the Angel Corps and she would like you, Breena and Leonidas to commit to it,” Oz announced.
“I’m not sure Breena and I are ready for another mission yet and I’m not sure if you’ll ever convince Leo to become an active member of the corps,” Gabriel answered, “but what is this mission that would take all of us?”
“She’s going to find out once and for all what happened to your mother. If she’s still alive, we’re going to find her and bring her home,” Oz answered.
“I think you can count on all of us for that mission!” Gabriel said.
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