Mixed Blood

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Chapter 9- Leaving Rose

Kara watched as the agitated crowd slowly dispersed, the villagers kept looking back as if the werewolves were going to make an attack at any moment. Some of the werewolves helped the young lad walk back to the camp.

It was a strange feeling for Kara, standing there in the middle of all the commotion holding a knife to a man’s neck, feeling so much anger. She found the knife lying on a patch of exposed ground that had been melted away by the heat of her magic and stared at it for a moment.

She was too distracted to notice that most of the people around her had left when she heard Marko say, “I am so sorry.” She noted the strain in his voice. Kara turned to see him exiting her home with her bag and sword in hand. Well, it was not her home, but it was where she lived, not anymore though.

He set the bag and sword down a few feet away and looked at her, she was visibly shaking, the low temperature crawling into her bones as the heat of adrenalin and her magic left her body. Now she just felt vulnerable, lost, angry and very damn cold.

Kara looked at Marko trying to hide her messy feelings behind a small smile. “There is nothing to be sorry about... This all just escalated too quickly.”

“But I do owe you an apology, I left for only a minute to check on Yenive, knowing you were finally resting. And then I felt your panic.” He stepped towards her. “I should have been here.”

She looked at him stupefied, was he seriously blaming himself for all of this? She neared him reaching up to touch his cheek enjoying the warmth of his prickly skin against her cold hand “either you are a wonderful, caring man or a hopeless idiot who thinks he is responsible for everyone around him.”

“I am responsible for you,” he said looking at her with soft eyes. She could just get lost in them all day long.

“You are hopeless and I am fine.”

He pulled her to his body wrapping his arms around her. “No you’re not, you’re shaken, cold... and still angry.”

“I...I am not mad at you,” she said trying to ease some of the tension she felt coming from him. She let one of her hands play with the hem of his dark green shirt, he changed his shirt; her fingers lightly brushed the skin of his chest as she did so. “These villagers simply make my blood boil with their recalcitrant attitudes. I just cannot understand them.” She paused letting her hand rest lightly on his chest, feeling the steady beat of his strong heart. “Perhaps I am not meant to understand… perhaps I’m not meant to understand you either.”

He frowned at her, perplexed by her words. “I’m not that hard to understand.”

She rose a brow at him “Of course you would not think so, you live inside your head. But I just cannot comprehend why you would want me as a mate, I am dangerous.” He opened his mouth to protest but she stopped him “Face it I am, I let my anger control my magic. I held a knife to a man’s neck, a really hot knife,” she clarified. “And do not tell me he deserved it. As violent as these people acted, they only did it out of fear and prejudice. It did not give me the right.”

He hugged her tighter to his body; being close to her was helping to calm his still agitated wolf. Hopefully he could do the same for her restless mind. “You will get better at controlling it, you are not alone in this.”

“Thank you,” Kara said enjoying the cedar wood aroma that clung to his persona. It was nice to hear him say that she was not alone given that most of her life had been spent in a state of loneliness. Growing up, as an orphan was hard, especially when you suddenly opened your eyes to find yourself in a completely different land. Literally. The night her parents died, that fateful moonless night, her father tossed her his sword, The Legacy. The moment her small hand touched its cool handle she was transported to a land far away. Kara had found herself alone in a world that constantly tried to be reed of her.

“Well you two look all set,” said a familiar voice from behind Marko, the sweet voice made a smile appear on Kara’s face. Kara turned stepping out of Marko’s embrace to see Yenive looking as radiant as ever. Kara looked at her shoulder expecting to see a bandage but found no sigh of any injury whatsoever.

“Why do you look so surprised, we wolves heal fast well... once the arrow was removed, which hurts more than actually getting shot, healing takes no time.” she said with a smile.

“I am glad to see you are well. I only hope the ones who did this get brought to justices,” Kara responded.

Yenive gave them a smile that for some reason didn’t seem to come from any happy though saying, “I will make sure of that.”

Marko raised a brow at her saying “You got shot by them, I think they out bested you in stealth”

“Hey!” His sister protested “I reacted fast enough to intercept the first arrow and stop the one that followed.-”

“Wait you got in the way of the first one?” Kara asked skeptically, from what she remembered of Yenive reaction she was as surprised as she had been.

“Sometimes the wolf can register threats faster than the human mind,” Marko said.

“So the wolf knew it was coming? ”

“Yes, but only for a split second, the attackers were smart, they kept to the south knowing that they would be down wind from me- ” Yenive stopped talking when she noticed that Kara was shivering uncontrollably. She took off her blue cloak and wrapped it around Kara’s shoulders.

“Thank you, but I don’t want you to be cold,” Kara said.

Yenive shook her head. “Unlike my brother here, I actually care about fitting in while in the presence of humans. The cold doesn’t actually bother us that much, but wearing a cloak when it’s cold helps ease nervous humans. And from what happened earlier I think we can all agree that they are very nervous. But since we are leaving I see no point in wearing it, I rather you be warm. After all we have a long trip.” She noticed the shifting of Kara’s eyes and frowned “You are coming with us right?”

Kara nervously looked from Yenive to Marko as if doing that would help her decide anything.

What do I say? What do I say? No? Yes? Kara thought. Why do I even have to answer? Maybe I can just run away. As she thought that Marko’s words came into her mind. Running away was the one way she could hurt him, and that was the last thing she wanted. Do I really want to go with him? Well, I’m sure I don’t want to leave him. But he doesn’t need to know that. Kara turned to Yenive and nodded “Yes, I suppose I am, Marko tells me that he might be able to help me with controlling my magic,” she said making it sound as if her decision had nothing to do with the fact that she wanted to be with him.

Yenive gave her a knowing smile that made her grey eyes sparkle. It amazed Kara how different their eyes were even though they had the same stardust color. Marko’s eyes spoke of a raw power and dominance counterbalanced by his caring way. Yenive’s however, were mysterious, as if at all times she were looking for something, details perhaps. They were lively but held behind them untold stories that would probably chill even the strongest man to the bone. Stories of dark deeds that not even Yenive liked to remember. “That sounds great, I will also be able to help you. I am better at magic after all,” She gave her brother a wink that made him roll his eyes.

“We should get going,” Marko said picking up the bag and the sword.

They walked over to the camp in relative silence. The camp looked like an organized mess. Most of the tents had been taken down, folded and staked into a cart, but on top of it sat boxes filled with fruit and vegetables and a mix and match of things. The werewolves were rushing to get their things packed into the carts. They really took to heart Marko’s orders to be packed and gone before the hour was through.

Marko walked them to a wagon pulled by two huge black horses. He set her things in the back of the cart. Kara climbed onto the wagon and sat down beside a sack of apples and her belongings. She looked back at Marko and notice the smile his eyes.

“My lord here are the horses.” the sound of a familiar voice made them turn around to see the young lad standing there with Marko and Yenive’s horse.

“Ah, thank you Roan.” Marko said taking the reins of his horse. Yenive came to take her palomino horse from the young werewolf, giving it soft pats on the neck. Kara had to remind herself that he could be older than what he appeared to be. Kara looked Roan over noticing that there were slight burn marks on his neck were the silver knife had been pressed to his skin. She had not noticed that when the events were taking place. Other than that he seemed to be in top shape. With all the commotion she had not noticed how light his hair was. His eyes were a deep brown that spoke of a gentle nature and kind heart. He was handsome in the average standard, but his face still held a boyish look that was nowhere appealing to Kara. But she could see why a sweet girl like Alua would like him or for that matter be mated to him. He simply gave a vibe of being good.

“I am glad to see that your are all right.” Kara told Roan.

“Likewise my lady.” He said nodding cordially at her making sure not to make eye contact with her.

“Roan.” Marko said tying Froy’s reins to his saddle.

“Yes my lord ”

“I want you to go get your mate and seven of our best men, five fighters and two scouts. You will all be traveling ahead with this wagon.”

“Why travel ahead? ” Kara asked.

“So that people who need help do not run away.” Yenive said as she got on her horse. “I would run away if I saw a troop of armed werewolves storming down a dirt path.”

“Is that how you found the village that day?”

“Yes,” said Marko “we saw a man running out of the outskirts of the village. The man was screaming for help saying that vampires were going to eat everyone.”

“Having a scout or two helps knowing were we should or should not stop. And no Northern attacker is going to expect you being in that front group.” Yenive said as she patted her horse.

“Exactly” Marko said.

“Well I will go to get the men,” Roan said trotting away he turned back to look at them still jogging “I will be back shortly. ” he turned around and almost collided with a barrel and some crates. “I am okay!” he said.

Yenive laughed and Marko shook his head with a smile on his face. “That is Roan for you” she said.

“Yes at least this time he did not tip over a pot of boiling soup.” Marko said before moving away from the wagon.

“Where are you going?” Kara said, suddenly feeling nervous.

“I have to go change, it is rather unpleasant and I rather you stay here than have to see that.”

“What, do you think I cannot stomach it?” the look on his face confirmed her suspicions. “Do I have to remind you that I have beheaded vampires and crushed them with earth? I think I can handle a transformation process,” she said narrowing her eye at him.

He did the same as a smirk came to his lips, crossing his arms over his chest he said “Or perhaps you just want to see me shirtless again. You seemed to enjoy that.”

Her jaw dropped open but she quickly regained her composer. He chuckled and continued to move away, a low laughter rolling out of him. She fought the urge to throw an apple at him from the sack of fruits that sat beside her, but failed. She threw the apple aiming at his head and just as it was about to connect with its mark Marko turned around and caught the shiny red fruit.

“I thought it was too early for marriage... but with an apple as an offering I accept your proposal.” He said half jokingly and took a bite of the apple. That he said it half jokingly meant he was half serious and that made Kara so nervous it almost seemed like fear.

“I was aiming for your head not your hand,” she said throwing him another apple, which he caught of course.

“Yet another proposal, I am a very lucky wolf indeed!” before she could reply he ran off behind some tent.

“He is right you did enjoy it.” Yenive said with a smile on her face.

Kara looked at her with a red shocked face “Perhaps, but he need not boast on it!” she sat back against the sack of apples.

“Come on, why are you so hard on him? Earlier you look comfortable in his arm” Yenive pointed out. “Do you not love him?”

"Love?" Kara said with eyes as big as a bug’s. “How can I love a man I just met?” incredulous that she had proposed such a thing.

Yenive frowned “the same way you are blood bounded... it is fated for you two to love each other.”

“Love cannot be fated by some biomagical attraction. Love is built from scraps.” The image of her mother and father dancing to the melody of an old violin on the center of the village festival suddenly came to Kara’s mind. Her mother looked so happy when she danced and her father seemed to be showered with a serene peace. The duo was the soul of any party, charismatic, independent and with so much love to give. “It is the small things that make love, not fate”

“Well sure that is true, but it is that “biomagical” connection you share that got you together in the first place”

Kara chuckled “that connection only got us stuck with each other.”

Yenive looked like she wanted to say more but abstained when the sound of approaching well-worn boots invaded their isolated conversation. They turned to greet the new company. All the werewolves stood in front of them in a salute position. Their right fist over their heart, heals snapped together and faces downcast, making sure to look at the ground. They wore black leather armor that seem to dismantle by unhooking a few straps on the sides. They seemed very protective though, like no blade could damage them as long as they wore it.

“Guys why must you be so formal?” Yenive asked shaking her head. Roan took the opportunity to set a couple of bags inside the covered wagon and settle Alua inside. Alua gave him a small kiss on the cheek before he moved away. Roan smiled at her as if he were in a daze.

Alua settle against her bags and gave Kara a small smile. Her chestnut hair fell gracefully around her young complexion making her hazel eyes pop out like gems.

“Okay, Tark and Rez,” she said, and the two men at the left of the group lifted their heads. One was tall with short silver hair, green eyes and a tanned skin, these were common traits found in the people form the Mountain Lords. The Mountain lords are humans, well a kingdom really, they kept good relation with the werewolves by selling their exceptional horses in exchange of fish and crop. But this man was werewolf so one of his parents must be mated to a Mountain lord. The other man had brown hair and brown eyes, which looked bored and uninterested in the situation around him. “You two know your job, scout and call if you see trouble.” the men boded and backed away, presumably to get their horses.

Kara hugged herself as a sudden felling of warmth consumed her skin. It was strange because she knew it was a cold day, but even so her skin was warm. It was like being held in Marko’s arms, like he was holding her a bit too tightly. For some reason she knew this was his doing.

He was transforming, that had to be it.

“Twins.” she said to the two maple syrup haired men on the left of the small group. The men lifted their heads and Kara could see that they were indeed twins. She stared at them in awe, she had never seen twins, but she had always wondered how a woman could hold so many heads in one belly. They had light brown eyes and ageless faces and for some reason she thought they could be cliff elves. Although cliff elves have not been seen for ages and it is impossible to get to their homelands “You need to go transform now, you too Mrich” the said to the big man in the middle. This guy, who was probably bigger than Marko, screamed werewolf, pure and simple. He gave off a sense of danger that made everyone nervous, and by the look on Roan’s face he too shared this feeling.

The men nodded and when on their way. As they were walking away Kara saw a cascade of red hair coming from behind a tent.

“There you are, I was thinking of sending a search party.” Yenive told her.

“With all the things I had to pack I could have gotten lost in my tent. It all becomes a mess during packing.” Kendra said as she approached the wagon and tossed her bag inside. She looked Kara up and down “Well you look better...” she said with a smile.

Did everyone know that I had blood bonded with Marko?Kara thought as she helped Kendra onto the wagon.

“It is good to see you too Kendra.” Kara said as they settled back.

Yenive turned to Roan “think you can drive?”

“Of course” he said moving to the front of the wagon. The three women in the wagon moved to the front as well. Kara, felling a bit hindered by the cover of the wagon, lifted the flap of fabric that had a window to look at the flanks of the trail.

“You two will be tail escort.” Yenive said to the blond and black haired werewolves that were still standing at the tail of the wagon. They quickly bonded and retrieved some near by horses. “Alright, we can head out, whoever is missing will catch up in less than thirty minutes. Marko will be ready to join us by then as well.”

“Alright! Let’s go! ” Roan said sounding exited.

“This is going to be dreadful, I hate travel.” Kendra said groaning and falling back on one of her sacks. Kara smiled sympathetically at her.

With the whip of the reins the wagon set out down to the South road, to get there they had to cross the village itself. Kara was impressed to see Froy, the grey horse, following the wagon with an alert interest, wary of the next turn he needed to make.

“What was this village called anyway?” Yenive’s voice asked from outside the covered wagon.

“East Rose Village... I think” Alua said surging her shoulders “No one ever really uses that name but that is what my grandfather uses to call It.” she looked behind to the village. “It never looked like a rose to me...” Alua looked away from the retreating image and focused on the palm of her hands. But Kara had seen it, the shinning in her eyes, tears. The tears you shed when you leave a place you love to start a new adventure.

As if sensing her distress Roan said “It will all be all right.” her paused “it will be alright for everyone, we will get home safe and sound.” it seemed like he was about to make a promise but abstained. Never make promises you cannot guarantee.

They were about five minutes out of the village when the two scout riders passed them in a hurried gallop. The warm feeling brought on by Marko’s transformation still clung to Kara’s skin. She could feel his magic surround her like a warm summers breeze.

“I should thank you while I have the chance, my lady.” Roan said looking over his shoulder at Kara. “If it weren’t for your wise words neither of us would have been able to leave, Alua because her father would lock her away and me... well, because her father would have killed me.”

“I think your words would have been enough, Herard simply needed someone to make him see the big picture. His daughter’s safety and happiness should out weight his pride and his prejudice against werewolves.” she paused and chuckled “not that I blame him. The way Marko reacted would seem frightening to anyone.”

Roan laughed, which Kara noted brought a smile to Alua’s face. “Yes he was very frightening and angry. And add to that that he was keeping me from lashing out.” his young voice grew serious “I would never harms my mate’s loved ones, and Marko knew this.” she noticed how he said his name without title.

“So he took your freedom to defend yourself?”

“No, he would never do that, not even to an Omega like me.” he surged his shoulders “My lord is... kind unlike his f -”

“Watch what you say Roan ” Kendra said, with a hint of concern.

“You never know who is listening ” Yenive continued. There was no threat in her words so he nodded at her in acknowledgement.

Kara supposed he was talking about their current king, Yenive and Marko’s father. She knew little of the werewolf king, but none of the horrible things seemed to be true if she were to judge from the personalities of his offspring.

Roan cleared his throat and said. “Well, yes my lord is Kind and just. He simply allowed me to have better control of my reaction.”

“Is that why his hands were transforming and growing fur, he was absorbing your reaction?”

“Quite possibly, although I had never seen him that angry before. It must have been because you were also in harms way. If you had not gotten free and gone to him there would have been more blood shed today.” he let that sink in before resuming “So I am grateful for all you have done, intentional or not. We are fortunate to have you, my lady.”

Kara blushed and said, “Well I guess you are welcomed ... but you know you should not call me lady. I hold no right to the title. Call me Kara. After all we lived through a hostage situation together, I think we are pass such formalities.”

“O-of course, my la- hmm, Kara” Roan said uncertain at first, but to him her word carried as much weight as Marko’s. If she said to call him something that made her feel comfortable, how could her refuse?

After that they traveled in a comfortable silence for about fifteen minutes until a movement in the corner of Kara’s eye caught her attention. She turned her head to see a blur approaching the wagon, it moved through the shadowy forest like it was its playground.

“He is here.” Kara said to no one in particular. She could still feel his warmth working over her skin. It was probably doing a better job in heating than the coat Yenive had given her.

She kept her attention trained on the blur, until she could see that it was not a blur, that was his fur. She had expected it to be black like his raven hair but it was indeed grey, like the stardust of his eyes. He reduced his speed as he came to trot by the flank of the wagon.

It surprised her how certain she was that this grey wolf was indeed Marko. But there was no mistaking it, he was there, she was looking right at him. Another movement caught her attention, more blurs.

“Okay everyone is here ” Yenive called, she turned her head as if she were listening to something no one else could hear. “We travel for until nun then eat travel until sunset and wait for the rest of the men”. Her voice sounded as if she were relaying a message. She was quiet for some time then she hissed “I do not think that is a bright idea, she will not appreciate It.” another pause “Yes, I know it has to happen at some point, but she is simply not ready.”

A deep growl came from Marko’s direction, the sound of an annoyed beast.

“Hey! No need to get so vocal!” Yenive hollered at him.

“What does he want?” Kara raised her voice and said “I can throw an apple at your head again if you wish. This time you have no hands to catch it with, so I will not miss.” Across from her Alua gasped but Kendra simply laughed.

Yenive remained quiet for a moment then said “He wants to get in your head so that you can two can talk while he is wolf. It is an uncomfortable thing to do, and from our conversation earlier I think you should wait - It was girl talk, you need not know!” she said switching from conversation and back again. “But if you do it you should at least give the blood bond more time to settle.”

I suppose it is the dream of every man to know what women think of them. Kara thought. Why would a werewolf be different? And would it be so bad for him to see my mind? Perhaps that way I could convince him to reject me. The thought caused her pain, not physical it was more like a sudden tightness in the chest that made it impossible to breath. I mean it is not like I wanted to be his forever; I simply owed him a blood debt. Blood for blood. I just wanted him to feed... and look where that got me.

Kara turned her head to look back at Marko’s massive grey figure. He turned his head to look at her. His pale blue eyes focused intently on her face, they seemed to assess her every angle.

Look where that got me...

She smiled at him and his tail instantly started to wag. Kara reached into the bag nearby and retrieved an apple. She extended her hand and shook the apple at him as if it were a ball. His wolf smile disappeared as he looked at her.

Distracted by her taunts he collided with a tree. He fell to the ground and a look of shock and worry came to her face. When he stood, the confused and embarrassed expression that came upon him made her laugh. He shook his head, lifted his chin and caught up with the wagon again.

Marko narrowed his eyes at her as if swearing revenge with one look. She responded by saying “I would like to see you try.” she took a bite off the apple, closed the flap and turned back to look at her companions. They both looked shocked “What?” she asked.

“Well not many people can get away with challenging him so directly. Though I think you could do that even if he wasn’t your mate,” Kendra said with a small glint of surprise and pride in her green eyes. “He is going to have his hands full with you.”

“I just can’t believe how different they are.” Alua said moving to kneel behind Roan. “It is all in the eyes.” she hugged him by the upper chest and placed her face cheek to cheek with his.

It surprised Kara that even a young girl like Alua, who must be in her late teens, could see the difference between Marko and Roan. Like her she saw more than their physical appeals, not that those were a problem.

“Well we are different. He is alpha and I am omega. He protects, guides, cares and corrects everyone.” His voice showed nothing but admiration for Marko. “I offer confidence, by showing that I know my place in the pack.”

Yenive scuffed “You are more than that, you are the balance of the pack, the soul. Our most valued asset after the alpha and his mate.”

“My most valuable asset “Alua said with a giggle.

They stopped the wagon for an hour to have lunch.

They had bread cheese, apples ham and some wine. It didn’t surprise Kara that the wolves didn’t transform back to human. They were gone for most of the hour, hunting, according to Yenive. When they came back they brought with them five rabbits and six chickens. The prey hung limp from their legs. It was a wonder how the huge wolves’ furs seemed so clean and yet they had evidently made kills and fed. More than that, she wondered how they managed to carry so many at the same time.

Marko’s fur color stood out the most from the four wolves. Two of them, which she assumed were the twins, were the color of maple. The other wolf, which had to be Mrich, was bigger than Marko’s wolf, but somehow he managed to look submissive. Dangerous but submissive.

Kendra looked happy with their catch, thinking out loud about how best to cook them latter when the camp reunited. She put the animals in a game bag and stored it in the wagon.

While all this was happening Kara could feel Marko’s gaze on her. She turned to look and, yeah, he was looking. His soft looking grey fur swayed in the wind and a sudden desire to touch him invaded her mind. He took a few steps towards her but stopped when the sound of two approaching horses interrupted the moment.

The riders stopped their agitated horses and got down “My lord, the Three sisters road west is closed.” Said Tark, his silver hair shining in the high noon sun. “The rivers have flooded the area, it is impossible to cross.”

Kara frowned “But that makes no sense” everyone turned to look at her making her blush “wet season is over, winter is coming, in fact there is snow in the ground. How can there be a flood?” she looked at Marko then at the scouts “Unless it was-”

“Fae magic?” Yenive whispered, all the wolves but Marko gave growls filled with animosity.

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