Inside the compound, after almost two hours of rest, both Gabriel and Breena were much better. They were far from completely recovered, but they were both ready for another round of fighting. No one was saying anything as they all understood the next wave would be even larger than the last. As Gabriel, Breena and Apollo headed for the front door, Zeus walked out into the hallway.
“Enough of this!” he insisted. “Jaida and Anthony, you have done all you can. Take the young ones and leave the compound. The way to the North should be clear. I will finish this alone.”
The entire group ignored him. The young ones walked out the front door and talked about their strategy for the next wave of shifters.
“No more heroics, my love,” Breena started, “I know you allowed that pack of shifters on you just so you could assume your fire form, but you’re too weak for that now. If you use your skills as a warlock and not as a Scythian, you can continue this fight.”
“I agree, but will you do the same for me? Your mist form takes a lot more out of you than your wolf form. If you use your elemental form sparingly, you can keep fighting for much longer as well,” Gabriel countered.
Breena didn’t like it, but she knew he was right. She could never expect him to follow her wishes if she wasn’t going to do likewise. Suddenly, she wasn’t as happy as she had been about Gabriel’s intelligence. He had neatly allowed her to paint herself into a corner.
“There is another option,” Gabriel began.
“And that would be?” Breena asked.
“You could use your remaining energy to heal me, like you did Zeus. Kind of a recharge for me. Then, you can go and hide while I help Zeus finish this,” Gabriel answered.
“If I thought you were serious, I’d be very mad at you!” Breena flared, “For the last time, we survive this together, or we die together. I don’t really care which one at this point, as long as we do it together! That’s all I ask of you Gabriel. We both love each other enough to sacrifice ourselves, but I need you to love me enough to promise me that whatever happens, it happens to both of us.”
Gabriel saw the tears in her eyes and he loved her as much as his heart would allow. He understood neither of them wanted to survive without the other and he nodded his head in agreement. No matter what happened, it would end the same for both of them.
Apollo was throwing his head into both of their hands, trying to make sure they understood he wouldn’t allow anything to happen to either of them. If either of them had managed to look down, they would have seen the blue sparks coming from their hands. Neither of them was aware Apollo was doing what they would not.
He was feeding his Scythian gift energy into the two of them. By the time he was done, he had given them a great deal of his energy. He knew this would slow him down and make him much more vulnerable to the next wave of shifters, but like the young couple, he was planning on using his warlock training to compensate for it. He only hoped it would be enough. He knew his energy would build back up, given enough time. He just didn’t know how much time it would take.
He loved Gabriel and would give his life for him, but he hoped he wouldn’t have too. There was a love of his own waiting for him in the deep woods and he had promised her that after tonight, they would start a family of their own. She wasn’t nearly as large as he was, but she was the most beautiful, savage creature, he had ever met. She was a skilled hunter, and even more fearless than his own mother had been. She had avenged the brutal death of her younger brother at the hands of the bear in the woods. The same bear that Apollo had attacked.
Afterwards, she had spread parts of the bear throughout her territory. It would serve as a warning to all other predators that thought wolves were on the menu in this part of the deep woods. It was then that Apollo had met her. He was in love the moment he looked at her. She was as black as the night, except for her bright golden eyes. In many ways, she was almost the opposite of the grey wolf.
He was huge, and she was small. His original color had been almost white, and she was completely black. She was the only thing Apollo had ever met that caused him fear, yet she was completely fearless. At least his fear was the good kind. It was the fear that he might not measure up to her standards and that somehow, she might reject him. He needn’t have worried. She was every bit as in love with him as he was with her.
Now, with the next wave approaching, Apollo wasn’t sure if he’d lied to her when he promised to return to her after this fight was over. He hoped he hadn’t, but he wouldn’t abandon his brother in his time of need. Not even if it killed him.
Gabriel felt the surge of energy wash over him. Breena felt it at the same time. They looked at each other and started to protest at the exact same time.
“You promised not to…” they said in unison.
They suddenly realized that neither of them was responsible, but then who? Then they understood what had happened.
“Apollo!” Gabriel started.
“Love you both,” Apollo responded in their heads and then walked away to take up his position near the garage to await the next wave.
Breena and Gabriel could only stare at each other as they realized he had given them both exactly what they needed to have a fighting chance for survival. They also knew that it might also be the very thing that doomed the grey wolf to death at the claws of the shifters. The very thought of that almost caused Gabriel to assume his fire form.
Breena felt him getting hot and tried to calm him.
“Don’t waste the energy he gave you by burning it up in your fire form,” Breena cautioned.
She was right, doing so would only waste what the grey wolf had sacrificed. With each passing moment, Gabriel was finding his hatred for Grace and the White Alpha growing. She had to be stopped once and for all!
Inside the mansion, Zeus was extremely agitated. He had a great deal of control of his shifted form, but the way the twins and the young ones ignored him was driving him mad. After Breena, Gabriel and the wolf had walked outside, the twins started to talk about where they should choose to fight from once the shifters entered the mansion.
He growled deep and long, still neither Jaida or Anthony paid him any attention. Anthony headed back up toward the rooftop to make some modifications to the machine guns mounted on the North and West sides of the roof. Jaida waited until he was out of earshot, then she turned around and walked right up to Zeus. He towered far above her in his shifted form, but she didn’t care. She reached up and standing on her tiptoes, she could just stroke under his chin.
“All of us have cheated death a hundred times, it’s what warlocks do. If this is our time, then so be it. I’ve felt the joy of knowing that the man I love, loves me too. There is nothing I could’ve ask for that would make me happier. With luck, we will find a way to win, to beat this White Alpha, and to continue our lives together. If not, then I will gladly die beside you,” Jaida said.
Before Zeus could respond, she turned and walked away. Zeus couldn’t understand women when he was in human form and had even less chance when he was shifted. He simply sat on the floor and began preparing for his showdown with Grace.
With Oz watching from his dimension and the watcher hovering far above the compound, the third wave began. Grace was banking everything on the destruction of Zeus and the twins. She knew that if she couldn’t accomplish this, she would be unable to convince the many thousands of North American shifters to leave their cells and to follow her. All her plans required the shifters to accept her and to follow her of their own volition.
She knew that word would leak out somehow and her anonymity would be forever gone. She had hidden in the shadows for decades. Not only in this incarnation, but her previous ones as well. After tonight, everyone would know who the White Alpha was. If she was successful, it would be worth it. Tens of thousands of shifters from around the world would flock to her side. If she failed, the governments of the world would hunt her down mercilessly.
The five hundred shifters moved ahead of the White Alpha and the super seven. They stopped when they arrived at the compound’s eastern wall, just as they were instructed. The White Alpha and the seven walked up to the closed gates and stopped. The heavy steel gates were reinforced and capable of stopping a large truck. The White Alpha threw her shoulder into it and it flew off its hinges and landed a good ten feet from the opening.
With a roar, she leapt through the opening with the super seven close behind her. As she crossed the threshold, the rest of the shifters began pouring over the wall. As they landed on the other side, they began to fan out in a wide semi-circle that covered the entire Eastern and Southern ends of the compound. As they spread out, the White Alpha and the seven stood and watched as the shifters moved slowly and methodically toward the mansion.
As they approached, Gabriel and Breena began to move. Gabriel walked right at the oncoming shifters and Breena moved to the Southern corner of the mansion to face the shifters there. She glanced nervously at Gabriel as the two had no idea how they could possibly survive this wave. Apollo was suddenly at Gabriel’s side. As the shifters approached, the machine guns atop the mansion roared to life once more.
Anthony had been unable to remove the sealed ammo cartridges from the guns. They were originally designed to be used on the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft. Using a dolly, the American warlock had moved both guns facing the North and West sides and remounted them on the original mounts for the empty guns.
He also recalibrated the aiming radars to home in on the densest collections of shifters. The thirty-millimeter silver shells were easily capable of going through five or more shifters at a time. They had a devastating effect on the tightly packed masses of shifters.
Grace had made a mistake in assuming the guns were no longer a threat and allowing her shifters to be so closely packed together. She had planned to strike fear into those remaining at the mansion when they saw such a formidable force slowly descending upon them. She should have accounted for the fact the tiny band defending the compound knew no fear when it came to shifters.
She had also made the mistake of assuming Gabriel had perished in the second wave. As she saw him walking toward them, appearing to have suffered no injuries from the attack and the explosion, she vowed to see him die last. More importantly, she planned to make him suffer before she killed him.
By the time the guns were empty almost three hundred of the shifters were either dead or badly injured. The White Alpha was insane with rage. She had made another mistake and made to look like a fool in front of her shifters. As the remaining shifters turned and appeared to be ready to flee the area, she roared. The only thing they were more frightened of than the automatic defenses on the mansion was the White Alpha.
Gabriel had rounded up a new set of pistols, Desert Eagle, forty-five caliber automatics. He was carrying a hundred rounds of ammo and planned to make every silver bullet count. He drew the pistols and began firing as the shifters turned back toward the compound. Apollo moved out and began attacking the shifters that Gabriel didn’t shoot. He wasn’t moving nearly as fast as he was during the first two waves, but he was still able to drop the average shifter with his own strength and speed.
Breena was finding it difficult to stop the onslaught of shifters coming at her. She could easily transform to her mist form and protect herself, but that would allow many of them to make it to the mansion. She dropped three of the shifters in her wolf form before she had to become the dark mist. As she was trying to suffocate a group of nearly thirty of the creatures, many more were running right by her.
Suddenly, she heard gunshots. Very close gunshots. Looking behind her, she found the twins standing side by side and using pistols to drop as many of the shifters as they could. Together, the two of them were almost as efficient as Gabriel. They were killing dozens of the shifters, but some were still getting by them. Gabriel and Apollo were having the same problem. They were killing dozens, but quite a few were still getting through.
Glancing back at the mansion, Gabriel saw more than three dozen of the shifters running through the open door and into the darkness that awaited them inside. There was nothing he could do about it now. He still had his share of shifters to deal with outside. Then he saw the White Alpha and several other, enormous, super-shifters quickly approaching him. He quickly reloaded both guns.
The White Alpha howled and the remaining shifters on the east side of the compound, almost fifty of them, turned their attention to Gabriel. They were going to rush him just like they had during the last wave. Apollo saw the mass and sprinted straight for them as fast as he could go. The shifters slowed and prepared for the wolf to attack.
He had been ripping out their softer underbellies as he sped past them all evening. Each time one of them thought they could rip into him, he was no longer there. He had been moving so fast it was like battling a ghost. The grey wolf seemed to have slowed down, but none of them wanted to be the one to find out for sure. This time, Apollo was going to use his cunning, rather than his speed. He knew he was moving to slow to make it through such a large group of closely packed shifters. Instead, he only wanted to slow them down and to disperse them so that Gabriel could shoot as many as possible before he started using his sword on those that were left.
Just as Apollo was nearing the middle of the pack, he lowered his head and rolled onto his left shoulder. Between his speed and his more than two-hundred and fifty pounds of solid muscles, he broke several of the creature’s legs as he crashed into them. Without stopping, the grey wolf rolled back onto his feet and keeping his head down began to snap the legs of all the shifters around him. Several of the beasts tried to strike him, but they were so tightly packed they could only strike the shifter closest to them. The wolf was down below them and many of them dropping to the ground, howling in pain as their rear leg bones were crushed.
Gabriel was afraid for his brother, but his strategy was working. The group was spreading out. Some were trying to get away from the wolf and others were trying to get enough room to be able to attack the leg-crushing fiend. Apollo worked his way through the pack with only a few minor cuts. As he exited the back of the pack, he began to run again. He didn’t go far before he found himself running straight at the White Alpha.
The wolf was impressed by the size of the beast, but he wasn’t afraid. The White Alpha was almost a third larger than Zeus in his shifted form and he was by far the largest shifter Apollo had ever seen. As he neared her, he leaped and aimed to rip the throat out of the massive shifter. The White Alpha stood her ground and just as the wolf was about to strike her, she brought her right front claw up and thrust it into the wolf’s ribcage.
Apollo squealed as the White Alpha’s claws broke through his ribcage and buried into his liver. As he landed on the ground, there was a large hole in his front chest wall and blood was pouring out profusely.
“Sorry brother,” Gabriel heard in his head.
He knew it had come from Apollo and it sounded like he was dying. He couldn’t see through the mass of remaining shifters, but he knew something terrible had happened to his brother. His guns were empty, and he couldn’t take time to reload. No longer thinking he began to wade through the pack using only his fists, his silver studded bots and his katana sword.
Gabriel only knew he had to get to Apollo as quick as possible. Inside his blood began to boil. He didn’t care if he changed into his fire form, he didn’t care if he died. He had to get to Apollo.
As soon as the White Alpha struck Apollo down, she leaped twenty feet into the air, toward the mansion. Two of her super seven stayed by the wolf, and two headed for the twins and Breena. The other three followed the White Alpha, intent on entering the mansion and killing Zeus.
Breena heard Apollo and knew he was badly injured. She couldn’t do anything about it. She was struggling to suffocate a group of more than a dozen of the shifters, but they were spreading out trying to keep her from containing them. They had spread her as far as she could go and still remove most of the oxygen from the air around them. Just a few more seconds was all she needed.
Breena managed to drop this group and the twins had destroyed all the remaining shifters, all except those that were already inside the mansion. Breena was drained. She had held her mist form for far too long on the little energy reserves she had received from Apollo. As she tried to move toward Apollo, she found herself in her human form, too weak to even take the shape of the enormous black wolf that was her animal form.
She heard shots whizzing by her and realized that the twins were shooting at someone. As she looked up, she saw two enormous shifters running straight at her. The twins were hitting them with silver bullets, but they didn’t seem to have much effect on either of the creatures. Breena didn’t know what to do. She didn’t have the strength to shift to one of her other forms and even if she wasn’t drained, she wasn’t strong enough in her human form to fight one of these giants, let alone two.
Gabriel emerged from the scattered bodies that had been the pack attacking him. Bodies and pieces of bodies littered the ground for almost fifty feet. As he approached the fallen wolf, he saw the two giant shifters standing next to the unmoving body. One of them was the red-headed shifter from the cemetery. Without a word, Gabriel raised his sword and rushed at Eric.
Eric dodged out of the way just as Gabriel was about to slice through his abdomen. The other giant shifter, one with a deep black coat, seemed to laugh or snarl, it was hard to tell which. Out of the corner of his eye, Gabriel could see the black shifter raise his right claw to thrust it through Apollo’s throat. If his brother wasn’t already dead, he soon would be.
Gabriel turned and started to throw his Katana into the black shifter when Eric struck him in the back. The blow knocked him face first into the ground and left a deep set of slashes across his back. As soon as he hit the ground he rolled instinctively to his right and brought the sword up in front of him. He heard a snarling and thrashing behind him, but he dared not take his attention away from the red-haired shifter leaping at him.
As Eric tried to land on Gabriel, the young warlock brought the katana up and angled it across his body. As the shifter tried to slash him again, he struck the razor-sharp edge of the silver tipped katana. His entire right claw was severed, and he howled in pain. As he stepped back, Gabriel quickly stood and went on the offensive. He was slashing his sword with tremendous speed and power at the giant shifter.
Gabriel knew the black-haired shifter could attack him from behind at any moment, but he didn’t care. He was going to kill Eric once and for all. Meanwhile, he was getting hotter and hotter by the second. At first, he was sure he was going to change into his fire form, but then he realized this was different. Whatever was happening, it was something new. He no longer felt drained. Whatever this was, it was feeding off a well energy that he never knew he had.
Eric had had enough of being chased by the young warlock in front of him. With a howl, he leaped at Gabriel with his left claw extended toward the young man’s eyes. As he landed in front of warlock, he was sure he was finally going to get to kill him. His claw was only an inch away from his face and the stupid human wasn’t even trying to avoid him. It was going to be an easy kill after all and then he would get Grace to replace his missing claw. He was sure she would be so happy he had killed Gabriel, she would give him anything he wanted.
It was strange though, no matter how hard the massive shifter tried to rip Gabriel’s face off, his claw just wouldn’t move. If Eric had looked down, he would have seen that Gabriel had already cut completely through his abdomen and severed his spine. Only a thin strip of back muscle was keeping the top half of the shifter from sliding off and onto the ground. While the shifter stood looking into his eyes, trying to comprehend why he couldn’t get his arms or legs to work, Gabriel deftly swung the katana one more time and removed the giant shifter’s head in a single blow.
Turning his back on Eric’s headless body, he headed for Apollo. What he saw when he turned around didn’t make any sense to him. The black-haired shifter was in a ferocious fight with a shiny black-coated wolf. At first, he thought it was Breena, but then he realized it was much too small to be Breena. This looked like an ordinary-sized black timber wolf, but it was fighting like a beast three times its size.
The wolf had several deep gashes running down her left side, but the giant shifter in front of her was in even worse shape. It looked like she had ripped a large section out of the shifter’s right shoulder and it was limping badly on what looked like a broken right rear leg. Gabriel didn’t know why the wolf was attacking the giant shifter, but he was glad it was.
As he moved forward to help the tiny wolf, he heard the White Alpha howl. She was in the mansion and likely had just killed Zeus. Gabriel’s temperature continued to rise as he felt the hair on the back of his neck raise. Even in the situation he was in, he had to turn and look at the eastern wall. He knew something was coming, but he wasn’t sure what. He continued to move toward Apollo as he watched the wall. Then it happened!
As he watched, another two hundred shifters came pouring over the wall. Grace had left a reserve unit in the woods for just this contingency. Gabriel had no idea how they could possibly survive now, nor did he really care. He glanced at Apollo and realized that if his brother wasn’t already dead, he soon would be. The chest wall was completely obliterated, and he could see bones and organs spilling onto the ground beside the massive wolf.
Not knowing what to do, Gabriel looked in the direction of Breena and saw her on the ground on her knees. The twins were locked in a life and death struggle with one of the giant shifters and the other was standing over Breena, ready to strike her down.
Why wouldn’t she change to her mist form? The beast couldn’t hurt her in that form, why wouldn’t she?
Gabriel realized she was too tired to fight anymore. She had spent great deals of energy in the previous waves and she was completely and utterly exhausted. Apollo was dead or dying and Breena was about to be destroyed and Zeus was likely already dead. It was too much for the quiet little boy trapped in the warlock’s body. His body was still willing to fight, but his mind wasn’t. For the first time in his life, Gabriel only wanted peace. He wanted all the ills and the evils of the world to go away and to never return.
His temperature was now hotter than it had ever been. Still, he hadn’t changed to his elemental fire form. He was hopelessly lost, and mentally he had given up on everything. This was the one scenario that could bring about his animal form. As he dropped to his knees and stared at the full moon far above him, the mass of shifters that had poured over the wall descended on him.
Without Apollo and Breena and Zeus, he didn’t want to live. The shifters tried to tear him to pieces, but he was impervious to all their slashes, scratches and bites. As they fought each other for the chance to kill the young warlock, the young man beneath them began to change. He kept growing larger and evolving with each passing second.
Finally, after less than a minute, there was a screech that had not been heard for many millennia. It caused every creature for more than fifty miles to stop and listen. Even the shifters attempted to flee the compound. Yellow-mane dropped his head and a single tear fell to the ground.
Azura looked up at him and asked, “So it has happened?”
“Yes, it is here,” Yellow mane answered. “Take the clan and go to the cave, barricade it and hope for the best. If I return, then I will have killed my own flesh, if I don’t, then all is lost.”
Then the Scythian elder was gone and only an enormous Saber-toothed lion remained. Azura watched as he bounded away. She looked in disgust at the villagers, wondering if this could have all been avoided if they had only accepted Gabriel and Breena as their new elders.
The watcher, high above the fighting had seen enough. As the giant shifter was about to strike down Breena he dove straight down upon him. His beak snatched the extended arm from the creature’s body. The shifter howled in pain as it fell backward away from Breena. The watcher made a tight, fast circle and descended upon the shifter again. This time, it hit him fully in the chest with both his front talons and his rear claws. As the shifter hit the ground, the watcher was already holding its heart in his talons.
The second shifter turned to see what was attacking the other giant shifter and saw something that made even the hardened shifter, a murderer in his own right, quiver in fear. Standing over the dead shifter was a creature it had never even heard of. It had the body of a lion and the head and front feet of a giant eagle. The wingspan on the creature was more than twenty feet and the body was the size of a mini-van.
As the giant shifter stared, Anthony drove his sword through the back of the beast and out the front, piercing the heart along the way. The skin and blood touching the silver blade were smoldering and sizzling and the giant shifter fell forward onto the ground.
“Is that a gryphon?” Jaida asked incredulously.
“A what?” Anthony countered, “I’ve never heard of such a thing. What’s a gryphon?”
Jaida dropped her arm onto her brother’s and held on as they watched the winged creature to see if it would attack them next. It seemed to have attacked the shifter to save Breena, but they weren’t sure. It might just have been attacking the largest prey it could find.
“A gryphon is a mythological creature first described by the ancient Greeks. It’s supposed to be one of the ‘good’ monsters,” Jaida explained.
Breena stood suddenly as she realized she had been saved by an unknown Scythian.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
The gryphon never answered her. At that moment, they all heard the screech. It was so loud, it threatened to break their eardrums.
“Oh no!” Breena said as she looked to where Gabriel and Apollo had been just a few seconds before.
The gryphon was already in the air and moving to that same location. By the time he arrived, Gabriel was gone and, in his place, was a massive winged reptile. It was more than sixty feet long and had three sets of wings, one every fifteen feet down its long, red body. The bright red was contrasted with the shimmering orange of the wings. There were six golden tipped claws on the end of each wing. The dragon had two enormous, double-pronged horns that flowed backward away from the head. The horns appeared to be made of solid gold and steam was coming off them. The four legs of the creature were spaced so far apart, it seemed as if it didn’t have any. The claws on the tips of the feet appeared to be solid gold as well.
The tail ended in a solid oval of dense bone as large a wrecking ball. It was so hot that steam was coming off the ground where it laid. As the watcher approached, the dragon used its massive tail to strike down a dozen of the shifters. As the dragon’s red skin touched the hair-covered beasts, they ignited into flames and then were gone. Only a small pile of ashes remained to show that the shifters had ever existed. The watcher would have to make sure he avoided that tail!
Quickly, the dragon that had been Gabriel, began to hunt down the remaining shifters. When he caught them, he opened his jaws and bit them cleanly in half, swallowing what he could. With each shifter he swallowed, the dragon grew just a little more. It was gaining energy and size with each bite of meat it consumed. Those who were fortunate enough to not get bitten in half, were touched by the dragon’s claws, or tail, and instantly burst into flames.
Breena’s eyes filled with tears as she realized the White Alpha had managed to bring about the animal form they had all feared so much. As she watched the dragon biting shifters in half, she wondered if there was any part of her beloved Gabriel left inside of it. She had never heard of anyone assuming the dragon form and ever coming back from it. Usually they killed themselves, but only after they had destroyed every living thing they could find.
The gryphon didn’t seem to care. It landed next to Apollo and began working on him. Breena half ran and half stumbled after the unknown Scythian, determined to find out who it was. The twins watched all of this and then Jaida turned and rushed into the mansion with Anthony close on her heels.
They had seen several dozen shifters enter the darkened building, followed by the White Alpha and three of the giant shifters. They had to help Zeus. It took everything the American twins had to hold off the one giant outside, but they weren’t going to abandon Zeus. After what they had just experienced, they were both beginning to think they were losing their minds. Gryphons, giant shifters, girls that could become mist, it was like an episode of the Twilight Zone. They were witnessing myths, legends and horrors on an epic scale.
Gabriel no longer thought like a human or Scythian, he was feeding off pure emotion. At that moment, the feelings were an uncontrollable desire to kill all shifters. Not just here, but all shifters on the planet. The urge to kill was his only purpose. Somewhere, deep down in his heart, there was a tiny voice telling him that he had just lost everything and everyone that were dear to him. Apollo was dead or dying and Breena was as well. Kill, kill, kill was his only thought!
Breena watched the dragon chasing after the fleeing shifters. To be so massive, it was fast, extremely fast. She knew that none of the werewolves were going to escape. There would be a slaughter tonight, just as the White Alpha had planned, but not the way she had planned it. Already, hundreds of shifters had died, and the dragon was just getting started.
Breena understood how Gabriel felt. When she saw him covered by shifters and the body of Apollo nearby, she too had felt like she had lost everything worth living for. Now, she was too numb to feel anything. She would stay and wait for the end. She would keep her word and she wouldn’t try to hurt Gabriel. She would wait for him to come back to destroy her. She knew that in the end, none of them would survive, not even Gabriel.
“Breena! I need your help!” the gryphon screamed at her.
His deep voice was barely audible above the screeches of the rampaging dragon.
Suddenly Breena was smacked hard across the face. Slowly she looked up and saw Grandfather! But…how…it wasn’t possible.
“Grandfather!” Breena cried.
“No, I am not Grandfather. I am his son Leonidas, Gabriel’s father,” The tall man in front of her explained.
“But…you’re dead,” Breena mumbled.
“You must help me if we are going to save the wolf! Without him, we can’t save Gabriel,” the man declared.
The thought that they might still be able to save both Apollo and Gabriel snapped Breena out of the shock she was in. She would do anything to save them.
“What can I do?” Breena asked.
As the man kneeled next to Apollo, he reached up and grabbed Breena’s hands and guided them to the wolf’s damaged side.
“I’m too weak, I’ll never be able to save him,” Breena cried.
She could barely stand and yet the tall man, the exact image of a younger Grandfather, was insisting she heal the wolf that was on the verge of death. There was a scuffle behind them as the golden-eyed, black wolf continued her assault on the giant shifter that had tried to kill Apollo. She was breathing heavily, but she wasn’t giving up. The giant, black-haired shifter was crippled, but he was far from defeated. He knew the little black wolf was getting tired and any minute now, he’d get his claws into her. He was going to take his time shredding her to pieces for breaking his leg.
As Breena and the watcher worked on Apollo, they sensed something flying above their heads. Breena glanced up just long enough to see Yellow-mane, in his animal form, leaping at the giant shifter right behind them. The enormous saber-toothed lion struck the shifter in the shoulder as both of his giant fangs tore into the werewolf’s neck. With a twist, the creature’s head was cleanly severed from his body.
The black wolf limped over to where Apollo was laying and placed her head on his hip. She knew he was badly hurt and couldn’t understand how he was still alive, but he was. As she watched, Breena’s hands touched Apollo’s fur and blue sparks began to dance back and forth and across his grey coat. The tall man placed his hands atop Breena’s and the intensity of the blue sparks grew.
Breena could feel a new source of energy coursing through her hands. Somehow, Grandfather’s son was feeding her energy, but how? It wasn’t the energy of the gift, then what was…oh, no. It was his actual life-force energy. She was siphoning off the energy he needed to live. Or was he giving it to her?
“I thought you were dead nephew?” Yellow-mane asked as he bent down near the two Scythian’s working on the wolf.
“We need some of that enormous energy reserves you have uncle if we’re going to save the wolf,” the watcher answered.
Yellow-mane looked at the damage on Apollo’s side and was certain there was no saving him. The Scythian elder couldn’t understand how the wolf was still alive.
“I don’t think all the energy in the world is going to save our friend here,” Yellow-mane said softly as he dropped a hand onto Breena’s shoulder.
As soon as his hand touched her shoulder, Breena felt even more energy flowing through them. Somehow, her great-uncle was able to give her a portion of his clan’s gift energy! She would no longer need to draw the life-force from Grandfather’s son.
“I can do this! Put your hand on mine,” Breena demanded of Yellow-mane.
Even as he complied, Yellow-mane didn’t understand if they could or why they should. Even if they could save the wolf, the dragon would eventually come back around, and they would all die anyway. If they hid, deep underground, they might survive for at least a little while longer.
“Why are we worried about saving the wolf, when the dragon is going to finish us soon enough?” Yellow-mane asked gently.
As soon as he said it, the black she-wolf lying next to Apollo began to growl. She didn’t like any talk that didn’t involve saving her precious Apollo.
“Because dear uncle, like my father, you don’t know as much as you think you do,” the watcher responded, “Grandfather only knew what was in the scrolls of the Canadian and American clans. The answer to stopping Gabriel is found in the scrolls of the clans that occupy Mongolia, far out on the plains of western China. I have seen these scrolls and many more.”
“And how can you be sure that it will work?” Yellow-mane asked.
“Now is not the time for questions, if we don’t save the wolf, we don’t save the world,” Leonidas answered.
“Did Grandfather know you were alive?” Breena asked as she continued to pour healing energy into Apollo.
Yellow-mane looked down and saw that Apollo’s rib-cage was already mending. New bones were slowly extending around the chest and muscle was regenerating on top of it. It was amazing to see!
“I think he suspected it. He would say things in the night air just in case I was listening. He told me of his fear of Gabriel’s animal form. I had to go back and read the scrolls again, that’s where I was when he was killed,” Leonidas replied.
“But how did Grandfather know what to do with the clan’s gift?” Breena asked.
“Before I left, I placed a new scroll in the cave where I knew he would find it. I knew of the legend from China and the basic understanding of what they believed would cure a Scythian with the dragon form. I gave him the knowledge I had, but I had to return there and read the entire scrolls to be sure what to do next,” Leonidas answered.
“A cure Leo? A Scythian’s animal form is not a disease or a curse. How can you cure such a thing of nature?” Yellow-mane asked as he continued to pour energy into Breena.
Yellow-mane was starting to feel the drain of his gift’s energy, but he continued to give Breena all the energy she needed to heal Apollo. Second by second, the wounds were being repaired.
“Everything about Gabriel is wrong and yet, everything about him is amazing. He shouldn’t be alive, but he is. His fire form is extremely rare, but his animal form is even rarer. One thing is certain, if we don’t help bring him back to being Gabriel, then all is lost. I know you thought you could persuade Breena to help you kill him, but you can’t. He’s far too powerful for that and once he perceives you as a threat, he’ll not only kill you, but all Scythians. It’s the way dragons are wired. That’s why he’s intent on killing all the shifters he can find at the moment.
There’s only one chance to save Gabriel, which means only one chance to save the rest of the life on Earth as well. Like Breena, I wouldn’t hurt my son even if I could. Life has been more than cruel to him! He doesn’t deserve to be murdered and I won’t allow it,” Leo replied.
Breena could see Yellow-mane thinking and she knew what he was trying to figure out. Was a Sabre-toothed lion more powerful than a gryphon? She heard the quivering in Leonidas’ voice and understood just how much he had sacrificed to keep watch over Gabriel, but not to interfere with his life in any way. She couldn’t fathom what it must have been like. The loneliness would have driven most people crazy.
“You said there was an answer in the scrolls of China. What if it doesn’t work?” Yellow-mane asked as the wound on Apollo’s side was almost completely closed.
“Don’t even think about it Yellow-mane,” Breena said as she watched the thoughts passing in the elder’s eyes. “We either save Gabriel or we die. Neither of us will allow you to hurt Gabriel and where you might be able to oppose one of us, you have no chance against both of us.”
“Three of us” Breena heard in her mind.
Breena looked at Apollo and the grey wolf was trying to stand. As he slowly sat up, the black wolf by his side moved up and began licking his chin. Breena looked at the female’s cuts too. Most of them had stopped bleeding and given time the smaller wolf would heal on her own.
“So, what do we do now Leonidas?” Yellow-mane asked, knowing just how true Breena’s words were. It was doubtful he could defeat Leonidas, but with Breena at his side, he’d have no chance at all.
He admired the way these two defended Gabriel, but he didn’t want to see the end of all life on Earth either. He would go along with their plan for a while, if it looked like it wasn’t going to work, then he’d do what he had to in order to protect everyone else.
“Now, we give Gabriel the chance to kill the ones he loves the most, the wolf and the girl,” Leonidas explained. “it’s the only way!”
Yellow-mane and Breena could only stare at him. The golden-eyed black wolf was already growling at the thought of losing her Apollo again.