Without so much as a word between us, Thaddeus, Sylvan and I retreat to the Requiem Mountains to scout out my parents. Hael inform us they are in a meeting with the council in Deep Cavern so that is where I go to intercept them.
I had informed Sylvan and Thaddeus of Shai’s message so they were well aware of the danger approaching. Before we enter Deep Cavern, I’ve retrieved my leather set of clothes from Adara’s ledge and my mates retrieved theres from guest room 12.
Now, Sylvan and Thaddeus halt me with a hand on each arm before I walk through the main entrance to the council meeting.
“Did you think of something?” I turn to each of my mates and they both share a look of serious concentration.
“Tell them of the warning Shai sent and of the image you saw in the sky of the six Silver Breeds,” Sylvan suggests, “We will gather a scouting party to skim the territory and we will take down any infiltrators we find as soon as we can.”
“It is best we act now,” Thaddeus adds while looking me over, “Princess... please inform the council but do not leave the mountain range.”
“...and why is that?” I ask, “Women should be in the mountain for safety, am I right?”
“You’re a high priority target,” Sylvan answers for Thaddeus, “The daughter of the two Dragon Lords that rule Requiem territory. They catch you as a hostage, they could win the war.”
“I understand,” I nod, “But I won’t needlessly put myself in danger. I will help as best as I can, you can’t stop me from helping.”
“You can help as long as you stay safe,” Thaddeus reaches out a hand and brushes a stray hair off my cheek gently, “You proved your strength last night, but you haven’t even trained with your new power. When we are done scouting, we will return to you and discuss how we will continue to keep you out of danger.”
“No point keeping me safe if the whole mountain isn’t safe,” I snap, even though Thad is trying to be gentle about it, “If this Horde goes under, so will I. So I will fight.”
“...Luvenia,” Sylvan says my name quietly and without arrogance or a tone to mock me. This time, he is serious, “We were at war for five years, we grew in that time and saw things and survived things that I prey you never see. Fighting is heroic. Every man and woman and child believes that. It’s completely different when a war is real and in front of you people die, savagely, painfully, without mercy. Fighting isn’t always the answer.”
“Sylvan is right,” Thaddeus agrees, “Look into our minds if you want to understand further. But the reason we go to war is we never want to go to war again. War is bloody. War is merciless. If we want to win, sometimes, we have to become merciless... it takes a toll... something you wouldn’t understand. There can be no negotiating with the Tempest breeds and a Blood Raven’s revenge. They want to change us into slaves or corpses. Either way, we’re not going down without a fight.”
“We’ll win,” I shake my head, “We’re not going down, we’re -”
I stop talking when my vision is distorted for a split second and an icy breeze wraps around me at the same time that I see my mates eyes widen so far I think they’ll pop out of their head.
“Completely unprepared?” I pause as I hear a strange accent right behind me. I turn, and all I see is a mirage of a silver headed monster with black scars all over his face and red war paint on his lips. His green and gold eyes look like those of a snake.
“Luvenia,” Sylvan and Thaddeus both say my name and as I turn I see five more mirages appear behind them, and my mates haven’t even noticed.
“Behin-” I say the word and even though I don’t finish it, Thaddeus and Sylvan mist just as two swords plunge forward, exactly where they were standing.
My mates narrowly avoid getting slit in half.
I believe I am next, except I feel a hand in my hair and a hand on the back of my pants.
I’m thrown through the air of Deep Cavern and I’m in such a state of shock, I don’t mist. My human body simply flies through the air and then I crash and slide against the rocky ground, my sides scrapping as I roll to a quick stop at the foot of a huge make-shift council table.
I blink rapidly as I glance from the council members towards the entrance where I had been thrown from.
“Luv?” Hael stands up and Lochness also slowly rises, but his eyes are on the entrance I was thrown from.
“Silver Breeds,” Lochness snarls and shoves his seat back. Except he doesn’t get far.
The air around him distorts and his hair flies back in a magically forced wind as a presence slips behind him.
I watch from my position as a figure remains invisible but a bloodied sword plunges right through my father’s middle.
I hear Madeline scream as he crumples to his knees next to her. Hael doesn’t hesitate to stand over Madeline protectively as he casts green fire behind him.
A Silver Breed is lit up in a burst of green flames. He doesn’t scream, he simply falls on his own sword, killing himself quicker before he can be interrogated.
My gaze tries to find Lochness but he is still down on the ground.
“Dad,” I whisper, just as I feel a hand in my hair as I’m jerked to my feet with a sword at my throat.
“Princess, Luvenia?” I hear a growl in my ear and I look over the table as frozen council members watch me held back against the leader of the Shadow Assassins.
“No,” Hael shakes his head, while Madeline gasps in quick breaths and looks up from Lochness to me. She almost faints and grits her teeth as she grabs the edge of the wooden table and watches me silently, trying to think of a solution.
Don’t move, Hael growls through my head and the Silver Breed nicks my throat a little until I feel warm trickle of blood down my neck.
“You ready to listen or do I have to slit her throat too?” the Silver asks with impatience, “I’d rather not kill something as beautiful as this Rogue. I have a taste for Rogues. Enslaved. That is.”
“What do you want?” Hael asks and I see Madeline’s hand go to her heart as she glances down to my felled father that is out of my sight. All I know is he is quickly bleeding to death on the floor and we had to act soon to stop the bleeding.
“Your answer,” the Silver Breed states, “We’re not the patient kind, Dragon Lord Hael.”
“What answer?” Hael asks.
“I haven’t told them,” I whisper and the Silver Breed raises his sword to the corner of my eye.
“Well tell them quickly or you lose an eye,” without giving me time to prepare, I feel a pinprick as he pushes it in further, tormenting me.
I keep my eyes open and blurt out the words.
“Shai approached me in the forest this morning. She said, agree to enslavement. All of you. Or we will all be turned to stone.”
“Not all,” the Silver Breed laughs, “We can’t be coming all this way not to have at least some fun in these lands.”
I lick my lips and Hael looks extremely torn about what to say.
“You cut open my brother, you hold my daughter at deaths door... and you expect me to believe enslavement is an option you will swear to?” Hael asks, tightly restrained.
“Simple revenge, Dragon Lord. Lochness stabbed myfather right through the middle... boasted he’d give the last scale to his only daughter... the beauty in my arms,” the Silver Breed lets me go abruptly and kicks me forward. I stumble to the table and then quickly turn to face not just one Silver, but the four others, holding their swords down while they eye all of the council.
I look around frantically for Sylvan and Thaddeus but I assume they are finding some back up... or something.
Where are you? I ask them, help, please, Lochness is bleeding out. He’ll be dead soon. How do we beat Shadow Assassins?
You don’t, you can only fight hand to hand combat, they are immune to poisons and most spells. You must fight or talk your way out of it. We’ll find a healer, Thaddeus answers for me.
“What do you really want from us?” Hael asks more impatiently this time and the Silver Breed smiles as he looks at me.
“I told you. Just an answer,” he explains, while only watching me, “Enslavement or stone? Then we’ll leave... with your daughter... no matter the answer, actually. And I promise, I won’t kill her. I’ll just fuck her. And she’ll live. Deal?”
I open my lips in surprise and there is a tense silence behind me.
“No, Lochness, don’t-” I turn to see Madeline looking down to nothing as she looks up and screams, “That idiot!”
I see a faint black mist filter to the columns and I wonder what the hell Lochness is thinking, misting after he has been stabbed right through his freaking guts.
“We did not expect an i-invasion,” I speak up and try to calm my breathing, “We thought the war was over.”
“It just started, sweety, now shut up and let your father answer for you fate... oh wait, I already sealed it,” the Shadow Assassin winks a green and golden eye, while he swings his sword around in his hand as he waits patiently for an answer.
“I am mated to two Twin Leading Breeds,” I add, hoping to delay the inevitable.
And not what you think. I wasn’t trying to delay the inevitable enslavement or continued mocking by the Shadow Assassin.
I was trying to delay whatever the hell Lochness was about to attempt.
I wasn’t sure what, but I wanted to keep the Shadow Assassins distracted.
“Shush, pet,” the Silver Assassin raises a hand, “Don’t piss me off, princess. I’m waiting for an answer so I can retire to a lovely warm bed with you in it.”
“I have your answer,” Hael snarls out, ”Ash.”
“Ash isn’t an answer,” the Silver motions his men forward, rolling his eyes, “Cut the princess up nice and bloody until he answers us correctly.”
Now my eyes widen.
Not from the approaching Shadow Assassins.
But the mist behind them. Silent. Killer. Completely unnoticeable. It is the slowest moving magical mist I have seen in my life, as it comes together, piece by piece, silently like a mouse, until, there stands a solid, menacing Dragon with the longest fangs you’d ever see. No one had teeth like my father. Two rows of solid sword length fangs made for ripping and slaughter.
The Shadow Assassins only turn at the sound of rushing blood, from my father’s ripped stomach. The blood drips all over the cave floor. But he doesn’t flinch and his eyes do not stray from the leader of the Shadow Assassins.
Lochness simply raises his neck, opens his jaw and strikes like the faster viper fueled by blood rage.
The Shadow Assassin that threatened me gets caught half way through his attempt to mirage to safety. The long fangs of Lochness rip right through his middle and Lochness swings his head left and right, completely knocking the last remaining four assassins off their feet.
Green fire burns bright, flowing from his throat as he spreads it over the thrashing bodies.
I don’t understand how quickly they have been destroyed but I feel a hand on my shoulder and I look up to see a younger council member stand to explain to me.
“They forget our fire is not hindered in these lands as it is in the Tempest Darkened lands...” he explains in awe, relieved by the infiltrators sudden deaths.
But even as he explains and the infiltrators are soon becoming ash, Lochness collapses and falls to his side, his Dragon head lolls and blood drips from his jaw as he brings his wings in and and he closes his eyes.
Help me, I call out to Thaddeus and Sylvan, hoping they’ve thought of something.
“Already here,” I glance up to Thaddeus who runs in with my cousin thrown over his shoulder.
“Let me down!” Summer beats his back and Thaddues drops her near Lochness’s gushing blood.
I watch as Summer turns and gasps, quickly holding up her hands and healing the wound.
Sylvan waltzes in next and sees me by the table. He stalks up to me, unharmed and very aware of the blood on my neck and my arms from my fall.
“You just left,” I whisper, accusingly, “The leader had a knife to my throat... and then to my eye... but you both left.”
“If he knew we were your mates sooner, you’d be dead sooner,” Sylvan snarls while he tries to hold his anger at bay, “We are known to them as Warlords of the Requiem Army. They may have considered us in that cave corridor as princes simply protecting an allied princess. If they knew for certain we were your mates and if we came fighting for you in haste, the easiest way to kill us would be to simply take your own life first. By leaving we protected you. It was the only option at the time. It suggested you were not important to us and that protected you. And don’t tell me otherwise because you saw them nearly slice us in half in front of you. You know they wanted us dead, without warning, without honour. They would happily stab us in the back, as long as they had the claim of killing us when we killed so many of their own in war. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
I eventually nod and understand his words, and I let him raise his hand to my throat to inspect the damage. I then numbly look on at Lochness, feeling sick to my stomach as he lays still as Summer continues to heal him.
Madeline and Hale rush over as do the other council members, crowding around him to offer support.
I can’t move from where I am, too scared one step in his direction may show me lifeless eyes.
So I stay still, and pray Summer can heal him in time.
“A council member just told me that they didn’t realise our fire is not hindered in these lands... is that because it is completely hindered in the Tempest Lands? Was that your experience... Sylvan?” I turn to him and I see one of his eyes is swirling with rainbows, colours and images.
I glance at his faraway look and his hand slowly slips from my throat as he falls into a vision.
As the vision continues, I wait for him to come back. I jerk a bit when I hear a cry of relief and people clapping as Lochness growls.
Get away from me, you all stink like rotten whores, take a bath ugly brutes... why can I see stars... get the flying things away from my offended eyes... where’s my little whore? Madeline! did you sing a song again? Well, I guess another punishment is in order then, Lochness growls through all of our minds but he seems delirious with blood loss. I hear Hael and the council all chuckle while Madeline audibly slaps his snout.
“You’re the brute, you brute!” she snarls at him and Lochness growls louder as she hits him again.
“Don’t move,” Summer insists, “I am still healing you. And don’t hit him, Maddie, what the hell? He nearly died!”
“But he’s an emotionless brute even half way to death’s door!” Madeline snarls and I’m taken aback by her ferocity.
Slap me again, Madeline, and you won’t be able to sit for a week, Lochness growls to Maddie while she sighs in exasperation, throwing her hands into the air. Hael quickly clutches her around the waist before she storms off.
I turn back to Sylvan, grossed out by the conversation but still relieved never the less... and I focus completely back on my midnight haired mate.
I see a tear escape his eye and his visions have abruptly ended.
Sylvan looks down at me and I reach up in confusion to the tear on his face.
Before I can touch it, he snaps up my wrist in his hand.
“What did you see?” I ask, confused by the cold and stern look in his eye.
“We win,” he murmurs, “I saw our victory.”
“Then why do you look so serious?” I ask and his hand doesn’t let my wrist go.
“Because Madeline will die saving us all,” he answers, truthfully, “She saves the Requiem Horde,” I purse my lips and shake my head multiple times but he gets in first, ”You will not speak a word to her, princess... she must not know.”
“How can I keep something like that from her?” I ask, moving into glare up into Sylvan’s heavy gaze, “You said what you see, always comes to be.”
“...not always,” Sylvan growls, “There are exceptions. Double paths. I had a hint to this before but never spoke a word. You won’t like what I have to say, Luv.”
“Try me,” I smile sarcastically and he licks his lips and manages to smile.
“Sometimes I see things that happen, whether or not, certain things come to pass,” Sylvan looks down to me and his smile slowly changes to a smirk, “No doubt you will believe this is a trick.”
“Just tell me, asshole,” I hiss, hating that he is keeping the truth from me and now decides to tease me instead.
“Remember how I said you crawl for Thad and I?” Sylvan leans in until we are nose to nose and his amber eyes sparkle, “I wasn’t lying about that. But sometimes I see double visions. One path must be taken, to avoid another.”
“No...” I shake my head, guessing what is about to come out of his mouth, “Those events would be completely unrelated. You would be tricking me, to get back at me for last night-!” I snarl this at him but he just shakes his head and doesn’t blink.
He can’t wait to say it and he wont release my wrist until he does.
“You will crawl for us,” Sylvan murmurs, “...you will. If you do, Madeline will live.”
“You better explain these visions in great detail,” I growl, low, so no one will over hear.
“I doubt you’ll want to listen to the details,” Sylvan growls back, “But I can show you.”
“Try me again. I want the details.”
“Then I will gladly tell you,” Sylvan smirks further, “But I know you won’t like the details.”