The moment Sintia placed the ice-cold gun's handles across her face; her ears deceived her.
She had expected the men to have a full-on brawl by the way they had packed away their weapons, she expected shouting, the sound of human struggle, human being the keyword there.
“Trust me.” Was the last thing she heard somehow echo into her mind before a bone-chilling howl vibrated every part of her, almost letting a scream escape her lips. Snarls and what sounded like a hundred tree branches cracking filled the air, followed by barking and panting, snapping of jaws.
It took every willpower she had not to peep when the ground beneath her shook as heavy feet rushed around throwing up cold sprays of snow, some falling, others snarling and biting. What felt like the softest and fluffiest tail that oddly enough smelt like Delacourte whipped across her arms as a snapping of powerful jaws came very close to her left ear. Tears began to fall freely as she heard cried pains and horrid howls that she was sure would stay in the deepest corners of her nightmares. Something abnormally big and hairy bumped into her and she fell to her knees, then forward onto her hands, making sure to still hold onto the guns.
She knew better than to open her eyes, she had been warned, but instinct had her open them as a hot huff of rotting meat, and something beyond vile huffed in front of her. She sucked in a breath as large whiskey eyes, black fur, yellow snarling teeth looked at her a mere few feet away. It was the black wolf, the same one that had attacked her all those weeks ago. It snapped its vicious teeth at her, about to launch and Sintia instinctively raised the guns she was clutching onto and held down the triggers screaming as it launched for her.
A hand gripped her from behind pulling her back, and she screamed again looking from the stumbling wolf up to her rescuer realizing it was human she turned back down to the guns, her fingers still squeezing the triggers but nothing more was happening, she let go aimed again and pulled the triggers at the monster slouching forward dripping blood onto the snow and her boot, the one-shot scraping the beast’s shoulder into another yelping wolf beyond.
“Give here!” Came a raspy voice shoving his hands forward to grab the gun, she looked behind her again to who was dragging her, actually paying attention this time to see Don.
“It’s empty.” Sintia shrieked pulling the triggers again looking at the black wolf, as it continued to drag itself forward despite all the blood it was losing from her bullets trying to snap at her boots, grab at her ankles.
Don stopped dragging her yanking Sintia to her feet grabbing the gun, she took a few steps behind him, her eyes large as she watched him slam something into them from the bottom and pull the top back. On the verge of hyperventilating, she looked behind them to the cliff’s edge dangerously close, the large black wolf still advancing.
Don’s arm reached out and grabbed her as he aimed at the wolf, “This time you die for good.” He spat shooting it three times between the eyes. Sintia squeezed her eyes shut at the horror till Don turned her to face him shaking her, “Hey, are you ok? Did he bite you?!” Don asked an urgency in his voice. Sintia opened her tear-filled eyes shaking her head.
“No.” She said looking over the dead black beast realizing for the first time now the massacre before her; it looked to be four massive wolves left alive facing each other off, one grey wolf slightly larger than the rest had his broad back and powerful hindlegs pushing them back from her, she frowned as it attacked a wolf close by, the way its massive jaws bit into the brown wolf flopping it over ripping out its throat as if it was a rag doll.
Don shot at another charging for them grabbing Sintia, throwing her over his shoulder. She didn’t protest as he held her turning to leave, she was numb, and even more so when the Grey wolf looked up at her, its face was matted with blood, but through it all, she saw Delacourte’s ice-blue eyes.
* * *
After a third refill of coffee Sintia was still in a daze, sipping slowly she leaned against the wall closest to the fire watching the Alexeyev house Dr and two assistants help Don hold Rod down. Her lounge had become a bloody mess but it had been the nearest meeting point for them all. Rod screamed again thrashing as the Dr was nearly complete in removing a branch from his leg and a different section of it from his abdomen.
Don had carried her over his shoulder down the mountain at lightning speed till he had stopped alongside Rod. Again, she couldn’t grasp the situation, Rod was not just hurt, left along the trail down the mountain dead, like three other guards she had seen literally ripped to pieces as Travis had said, but Rod was actually impaled, up, in a tree.
Rod's cry brought her back to the present as she gripped her mug looking at the poor man, her own gut twisting at his agony.
“Is there nothing I can do? Can we not give him morphine or something?” Sintia begged, desperate to help.
“His body is burning up trying to fight, he would burn through the morphine in a matter of seconds,” One of the doctor’s assistants said looking up at her still holding his weight down on Rod. “Perhaps you should go lie down, you still very pale.”
“No, you help Rod focus on him.” Sintia said shaking her head looking to Don, “Don where is Delacourte?” She asked the concerned guard holding his friend down.
“I don’t know, his orders were strictly to get you home.” Don said looking up at her with a worried expression, it unnerved her.
Sintia’s stomach twisted again at the words, wondering if he was ok, had in fact tried countless times to call him reaching his voice mail till her panic had subsided slightly to allow logical thought…
And logical thought was turning dangerously fictional; she hadn’t heard him run away when she closed her eyes atop the mountain, the sound of a hundred branches cracking suddenly sounded more like bones in her mind, the black wolf had the same eyes as Travis who had said he would bite her again…
Sintia sipped her coffee staring into nothing, recalling Delacourte having the same eyes as the large grey beast…
Her heart skipped a beat at the absurd word swimming around her mind, werewolf.
But it wasn’t possible, there had to be a logical explanation for everything, perhaps Delacourte had run off to call his pet, she knew lots of celebrities that had exotic pets even one that kept a pet lion as a showpiece, perhaps the prince had a pet wolf, with the exact same eyes, that kept appearing when he would disappear.
She huffed at the absurd thought taking another sip. What? Did his pet wolf run behind the car all the way to the mountain, don’t be ridiculous! Not even she could believe the lie. Everything, since she had arrived, had been off about them especially this places freakishly big wolves, if nothing else; Don had climbed the tree to pull Rod down snapping the tree truck with ease, the wounds Rod had with the amount of blood he had lost should have left him dead, yet here he lay before her with full lungs. Don had several cuts on his arms and a swollen shut-eye when he had found her, yet looking to his arms now, they were just smeared in dry blood and dirt, no cuts, and the swelling of his eye had gone down enough for him to use both eyes.
Impossibly strong, heal unbelievably fast. Sintia’s heart began to race as she looked towards the doctor recalling his words on how fast the brothers healed. Super speed, she could hardly count on two fingers when she had actually caught Delacourte catch up to anyone, he was always just magically by her side, moving with such ease and surety.
“His eyes.” She whispered to herself remembering now the way they reflected like a cat at night looking straight into light, what the bloody hell had she landed in? A bad guy mafia werewolf movie? Not possible! She spun around rushing back into the kitchen to look out the window, it was already dark and the moon was up, and full. “There that confirms your idiotic, childish thoughts.” She whispered to herself, the moon was full, and Rod and Don were still human, but where was Delacourte?
Four exhausting hours later Sintia was passing out on the couch wrapped in blankets, her suite had been cleared of Rod and Don, apparently taken away to a hospital, after Don had left her introducing two replacement guards, the place had turned into Fort Knox. Every window had a soldier every door two. She wondered if opening a cupboard to get a glass or the fridge for a snack might present a hidden guard conveniently folded up in there. She smiled wearily to herself over the stupid joke, her head nodding as sleep tried to claim her.
Today had been hell, there was no other word for it, yet despite it all, she felt oddly calm, the wolf that attacked her was dead, she was safe, Rod would live, which should be impossible, and according to the men suddenly appearing at her door on Don’s command, Delacourte and Vinchenzo were ok too, or would be. She still couldn’t believe he had just left her amongst the wolves! Her mind raced to the thought of Delacourte shifting into a werewolf, her mind recalling how shocked she was to see his sharp teeth under such gorgeous lips when he was angry... No! It was a trick of the light! They were normal wolves, just pets, their trained killing machine pets! She shook her head at the crazy thought looking into the fireplace as she drifted off to sleep.
“Normal, I need normal.” She mumbled.
* * *
“Goodbye, your majesty.” Came a menacing laugh as both men fired at Vinchenzo.
Vinchenzo dropped to one knee as they shot, one bullet killing the man behind and the other bursting out the back of his right arm, with a painful grunt he rolled to the side shifting, no more guns, no more mercy, he would let his inner beast take control and finish off the Molchalin scum on his property.
Vinchenzo crept forward listening to the bastard reloading his gun and launched over the van into the Molchalin, before he tried to shift, Vinchenzo had ripped off his head, a heavy paw on the dead man’s chest as he scanned for anymore.
A cry followed by breaking glass came from inside the house and his ears twitched in its direction. It was Joel and his men trying to clear the house. Looking around one last time he bolted inside padding through the smoke down the wing he had sent his injured men into, they would not die, despite his right bleeding shoulder causing a limp, he had never felt stronger.
Taking the stairs in two leaps he landed soundlessly in the smoke-filled, dark hallways.
He twitched his ears listening; there were several strong heartbeats and a few creeks and cracks of floorboards from almost every direction.
This side of the house had turned into a hide-and-seek deathmatch.
His lips pulled back as he listened to three heartbeats growing stronger, they were just beyond the wall ahead, sneaking around the doorway he spotted their lasers atop their weapons and leaped into action.
* * *
Delacourte jolted awake as his head thumped against a door handle. He sat up wincing with the pain gripping onto the seat in front of him.
“We nearly back sir.”
Delacourte raised his arm to wipe his blurry eyes groaning as pain ran through him again.
“They almost had you, sir, you still have a while to heal.”
Holding his head, he looked through his fogged vision at the man rattling the entire Jeep and his head-splitting headache further with the speed at which they were traveling.
Delacourte nodded slowly trying to clear his dry and raw throat, giving up he mind linked his thanks to the guard, wincing as he leaned back in the seat looking around the car, all the other seats were empty.
“Where is the rest of my company?”
“It is only me left, sir.” The guard said, a sadness in his voice.
“How did I get here?”
“I called for back up the moment I regained consciousness, I heard the fight up on top and once I saw my brothers…” The guard broke off his Adam’s apple bobbing, Delacourte reached forward despite his pain placing a hand on the man’s shoulder squeezing it.
“All your sacrifices will not go unseen; we will avenge them.” Delacourte said clenching his jaw as he applied pressure to his wrapped upside, he refused to look down, refused to see the damage his body had, his mind would just weaken him, and he needed to get to his brother. “How far are we?” He asked through gritted teeth as the jeep bounced over the rough mountain road.
“Twenty min or less,” The guard said looking back at Delacourte then down to his wet red side.
“Don’t worry yourself, push harder, I will be ok.” Delacourte said leaning back into the seat trying to not groan as the guard shifted down pushing the Jeep to go faster. He knew the battle had been greatly outnumbered, all of his personal guards slaughtered, all except this one. Delacourte looked towards the man noticing his uniform had been ripped at the shoulder and his ear was bleeding. He was so grateful one had survived to find him up there.
Before he had blacked out one of the wolves had run away from the fight as Delacourte began ripping apart the Molchalin wolves. He, in turn, had been bitten in more places than he cared to count, but with five dead he searched for the black-furred Travis glad to find him dead, he smiled internally at the bullet wounds thinking of Sintia till his vision became cloudy from loss of blood.
Within minutes they were out the trees skidding around a corner towards their home, Delacourte’s heart sunk as he saw the large puffs of smoke up ahead, he held his breath as they neared the last bend to see his home, he still felt his brother but had no idea if that just meant he would always feel him if he was alive or dead, no, he refused to think of the latter, his brother had to still be alive.
“Fuck.” Delacourte breathed as they spun into the clearing, his heart beating a million miles a second, his home.
Their home was a pile of rubble decorated with dead bodies and smoke. As the Jeep jerked to a stop the windshield cracked with two solid shots at them.
“Get down.” The guard called ducking, but Delacourte was beyond caring, his entire body felt as if it had taken on bullets, one more was nothing. He swallowed a pained growl as he opened the back door shifting into his beast, in human form he was too weak, but like this, his wolf had a bit more left.
The guard opened his door rolling out behind an abandoned van pointing his gun in the direction of the shooter.
“Your majesty, I still don’t think this wise.” He called shooting in the direction of the bullets firing at them.
“I know.” Delacourte mind linked to his guard dipping his head in farewell, “Stay here till the backup arrives, I have to find Vinchenzo.”
“We should wait for the army to arrive.” The guard protested ducking as a bullet narrowly missed them, but when he turned to look, Delacourte was gone leaving a single message.
“I am my own fucking army.”
Delacourte entered the ruins through a whole-blown through the wall and kept his senses on high alert till he reached what used to be their study. He looked through the flames at a melted laptop atop a husk of a desk, the exact place he had left his brother earlier that morning. His gut twisted at the thought of his brother being hurt, dear gods he couldn’t think beyond the thought, envisioning him dead would destroy him.
A heavy thud shook the unstable roof above him and he reluctantly turned away from the office, padding through the rubble, locking his jaw at the discomfort in his body, up the steps following his nose to the fresh blood.
* * *
Stalking through the rooms and corridors Vinchenzo had managed to find Joel who had shifted as well, but sadly his other guard was unconscious from his wounds. Together they had taken down a good portion of the enemy but the remaining few had shifted as well, making the deadly hide and seek game harder. His mind kept drifting to his brother, the fear of losing him, the uncertainty killing him.
“To the left.” Joel mind linked and they both spun to face the threat defensively as three brown wolves launched at them, Vinchenzo was about to block when the one nearest to him yelped spinning around, unsure what the cause was he took the opportunity to attack and kill leaving him facing familiar blue eyes.
“Delacourte!” He shifted instantly back to his human form, Delacourte did the same and no words were needed as they bear-hugged each other tightly.
“The house is clear.” Called Joel shifting into his human form as well walking out one of the hallways.
They all stood still straining their ears for a while picking up only their own in need of medical assistance, the brothers made their way down through the house, leaning on each other for support.
“You don’t look so good.” Vinchenzo said nudging his brother with a small grin, yet smelling his brother’s blood and seeing the many bites had his heart raging for revenge.
“Think Annabelle will still dance with a black and blue off-balance prince tomorrow?” Delacourte snorted taking in a deep breath as his side hurt.
“How about a future king missing a tooth?” Vinchenzo winked at him giving him a false grin showing a side tooth missing and a deep cut in his lip and cheek from claws. They both shared a small laugh then groaned as they held their sore bodies, thank goodness it was a masked ball.
Joel was sent back to take count of those still alive as the brothers made their way through the wrecked home outside to find Delacourte’s other personal guard.
“I don’t know what I would have done if they…” Delacourte stopped speaking, unable to voice his fears.
“Me to brother, me to.” Vinchenzo gave his brother a small smile, nudging him again as they helped each other down the entrance steps towards a train of vehicles screeching to a halt, filled with their medical staff, back up and their royal army. “We can sit now.” Vinchenzo said wincing as he plonked down on the ground laying back in the snow, “They will attend to us, and honestly I don’t think I can walk anymore.” He said sighing with relief, they were ok, the house could be rebuilt.
“Best idea you have had all day.” Delacourte chuckled falling to the ground alongside his brother giving in to the many aches.
They both lay there staring up into the snow-flaked sky, taking slow pained breaths in and out till a sawm of paramedics and guards surrounded them getting straight to work.
“So, who’s going to tell Da what happened?” Delacourte smirked looking over to his brother who closed his eyes as a broad smile crossed his face.
“I was never here.” Vinchenzo laughed. “It wasn’t me.”
“And I’m adopted.”
Both brothers chuckled silently to themselves as the medics started assessing them, neither in the mood to face their father’s wrath.