Love Stained

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Chapter 39 - Fool Me Once, Shame On You…

Quinn POV

My heart felt as though it were tearing in two as Jayce let go of my arm. He knew what I had to do, but still, he also knew the risks involved…and yet, he still let me go. I guess that was part of being an Alpha and Luna; you always did what was best for the pack, and right now, I had to save them.

I turned and ran towards the portal, a fresh stab of pain to my already broken heart as Kyanite’s gut wrenching wail reverberated over the top of the deafening buzz. I knew Jayce would handle him, a silent understanding passing between us as I handed him the animal sedative.
The blue portal beckoned me, drawing me in as I took my final steps. I closed my eyes and held my breath, this was it.

Then everything went dark.


……………


Drip. Drip. Drip

The icy chill wrapped itself around my body, a vast contrast from the dry heat of Fern Creek. I instinctively rubbed my arms in an attempt to warm them up and narrowed my eyes, trying to see anything in the pitch black.

Well, we’re not in Hell. That’s a bonus.

Rogue was right. I’d imagine Hell would be all fire and brimstone, this was far from.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could faintly make out my surroundings. Jagged rock covered the walls, ceiling and floor. Water dripped from above me and trickled down the walls, pooling in small dents in the ground. My nostrils flared, taking in the smell of salt, mould and just an all around damp scent…with the faint hint of death.
My eyes adjusted more, my pupils dilating to take in any ounce of light they could. It was clear to me now that I was in a tunnel but not a man made tunnel, this was part of a cave.

I turned around, behind me there was a wall, a dead end. I only had one way to go, so I turned back around and pushed forward.
All of my senses were heightened, my animals working together as one to give me every chance at fighting off a surprise attack if one so happened to come my way.

The further I walked the wider the tunnel grew. I’d been walking for close to an hour when the tunnel finally opened up into a monstrous cave, making me feel tiny in comparison. I hugged my arms to my chest and looked around, the realisation of being alone suddenly dawning on me. I had no one here, no one to help me, no one to fight with me. I was completely out of my depth.

But I wasn’t alone.

That feeling of being watched, of someone tracking your every move. It was a feeling that was all too familiar to me and right now it was glaringly obvious. The hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention and I focused on my breathing as I felt the panic begin to creep in.

We’ve got this. We’ve trained for this.

I glanced down at my amulet, safely secured around my wrist; all three gems sat their, reminding me that I had three fiercely strong animals on my side. I had a wolf that wanted to go home safely to her Alpha and a panther that already missed her prince. I had a bear that enjoyed sun baking and gave me weird cravings for honey sandwiches…but they all had the same goal - to kill Magdalene and to keep me safe.

I heard movement to the left of me and my head shot up, my gaze immediately drawn to the shadows ahead. Red eyes stared back at me, glowing in the distance, flickering like flames in the darkness. Magdalene’s shifters. I couldn’t tell from here if they were wolves or panthers, they stayed far enough tucked into the shadows that all I could see was their menacing eyes.

Welcome

A chill ran through my body as a velvety smooth female voice echoed through the cave, bouncing from wall to wall and giving me the sensation of being surrounded. I fought back the fear that brewed inside me, causing my stomach to flicker with a million butterflies and my knees to quiver.

She is nothing. We. Have. Got. This.

“Thanks for having me. You could have at least chucked the heating on…or cleaned up the place” I answered back, very impressed with how confident my voice sounded.

An evil laughed filled the empty space around me.

“Quinn - Tribrid. Luna of Fern Creek. Queen of Shifters. Master of the witty one liners”

I shrugged my shoulders, my eyes scanning the cave around me, hoping that I might just pick up a glimpse of the witch.

“What can I say?” I quipped, “Jack of all trades”

The red eyes moved closer to me, finally giving me a peek of who they belonged to. I swallowed, my mouth suddenly dry. I counted about twenty wolves and maybe the same amount of panthers, it was hard to tell.

“Sorry that my welcoming party aren’t a little more…welcoming. They are very loyal to me. You see, you may be Queen of Shifters but these ones in particular answer only to me. If I give them the go ahead, they won’t hesitate to rip you from limb to limb”

I nodded, taking in what Magdalene was saying. What she didn’t know was that I was well aware that she had no intention of killing me. Hades wanted me very much alive and in one piece.

“They only follow you because you have possessed them, you’ve given them no choice. Do you really think they would be loyal to someone that tore them away from their families and slaughtered innocents? I don’t think so”

“You’ll never know” Magdalene crooned, “I don’t intend on you being around long enough to find out”

The wolves and panthers started to move forward, creating a half circle around me as they closed in. They were corralling me, forcing me to move exactly where the witch wanted me. I stepped backwards, making sure I was very careful as to where I placed my feet. I needed to do something, I needed to make a move. Magdalene knew what she was doing and, right now, I was falling straight into her trap.
I picked a wolf out of the line up in front of me and locked eyes with it. Taking a deep breath I projected my mind forward.

As your Queen I order you to stand down. You do not answer to the witch, you answer to me!

The wolf’s steps faltered. It’s head tipping to the side while it studied me. I noted his the red in it’s eyes flickered, clearly fighting the possession.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” Magdalene hissed.

I kept my focus on the wolf.

I order you to stand down!

The red in the wolf’s eyes flickered again before vanishing completely. The animal shook it’s head then turned in the direction of the darkest corner of the cave. It’s lips curled over its teeth, the wolf snarled, letting me know exactly where the witch was hiding.

“I warned you. This is on you!” Magdalene sneered.

Before I knew what was happening the wolf fell to the ground as a sickening snap echoed through the cave. I gasped. She had snapped it’s neck, it’s head facing in the opposite direction than it should have been.
My stomach turned and I felt my wolf howling in my mind, grieving for the innocent life lost.

“You’re a monster” I seethed between clenched teeth.

The evil laugh sounded again as the other shifters moved in closer.

“That life is on you. I won’t warn you again”

I took another step back, expecting the shifters to close in further but they stopped. My back was about six metres off hitting a wall and everywhere else was blocked by wolves and panthers.

“I take it this is exactly where you wanted me?” I asked, throwing my arms up in the air.

My eyes were drawn to a sea of burgundy silk, billowing in the darkest corner of the cave. A woman stepped out from the darkness , her hair and gown blowing around her even though the cave was void of breeze. Magdalene was stunning, a terrifying beauty. Her hair was a rich, deep red and fell in waves over her shoulders. Her eyes reminded me somewhat of Kyanite’s but they were icy, no warmth in the piercing green at all. She wore a long sleeve burgundy gown with a high neck that accentuated her curves.

“Suddenly I’m feeling very under dressed” I muttered, indicating to my white t-shirt, leather pants and combat boots.

“I always dress nicely for a special occasion” Magdalene purred, “it’s not everyday I get to have an audience with the Queen…”

“Is this how you normally treat your guests?” I asked, my hands waving in front of me at the shifters.

Magdalene smiled, but the smile not quite reaching her eyes.

“Just making sure you don’t go running off on me” she answered, “this meeting has been a long time coming”

I fidgeted on the spot. I was feeling edgy. What was all this small talk leading to?
I looked down to the clasp around my wrist. I could feel my animals, they were wound up, ready for whenever I needed them.

“What? No witty come back this time Quinn? I’m disappointed”

I crossed my arms over my chest and cocked my hip, foot tapping impatiently on the rock beneath my feet.

“You brought me here for my company and quick wit? I don’t think so. You’re the big bad, yeah? I’m yet to see any sign of that. You snapped the neck of a wolf that was unable to defend itself. You’re nothing but a coward”

Magdalene tensed, it was only for a millisecond but long enough for me to notice. I’d hit a nerve.

“You sit here in your shitty cave while men like Clayton and Brax do your dirty work. I would have thought that a badass bitch like yourself would ‘need no man’” I rolled my head and clicked my fingers at the last bit, Magdalene failing to read my attempt at humour, “but apparently you do need a man…two in fact…and look where that got them. Dead”

“They we’re expendable; casualties of war” was her only answer.

I hummed and nodded my head.

“Clearly”

Magdalene lifted the bottom of her gown and began walking towards me. I had nowhere to go. Did I wait for the witch to make the first move? Or did I try something now and risk revealing my power to her?

“Tell me something, Quinn” Magdalene purred, closing the distance between us, “Does your new pack accept you? Or do they see you as an abomination? A freak of nature”

I kept my eyes locked with her’s, refusing to bite. The witch was clearly trying to provoke me, trying to make me snap and make the first move.

“You’d be amazed how quickly a pack will turn on their Luna…or her babies. A few whispers in a few ears, an easily persuaded Beta…”

My stomach turned, goose bumps breaking over the surface of my skin; My brain ticking over. I knew what Magdalene was saying, what she was trying to insinuate. Maybe she was just messing with me, part of her plan to get into my head, to throw me off.

“You’re full of shit” I muttered, keeping the emotion out of my voice.

“Am I?”

The witch stood just behind her front line of shifters, once again showing her cowardly presence by putting something between herself and potential danger.

“It took me a long time to track down your mother. Clara did a wonderful job hiding young Verity but by the time I’d located her, she’d had a daughter of her own…Claudia. And imagine my delight and surprise to find out that she already had a daughter too! The next shifter Queen in line to the throne”

There was no way I could disguise the colour that I knew was draining from my face. I kept my arms crossed over my chest, hoping that would at least hide the fact that my hands were shaking. The corner of Magdalene’s mouth lifted, an evil smirk to let me know how happy she was to create the unease that pulsated from my body.

“Clayton was a fool. All I needed from him was to light a fire. Kill the Luna and her daughter. Not a hard task, surely. I’d believed for nearly twenty years that he’d been successful too”

“Well he wasn’t” I spat.

Magdalene shrugged, walking behind one of the panthers, her fingers trailing through the glistening black fur on its back.

“He got half the job done. Your mother is dead. That’s a win”

Witch. Needs. To. Die.

The rage of my animals flooded my body, combined with the pure hatred that I had for Magdalene already. I felt the pain in my jaw first as my teeth elongated then in my hands as my fingers took on the deadly appearance of claws that had traits from all three of my animals.
I threw my body forward with a speed that I didn’t know possible. The shifters in front of me didn’t even have time to register what was happening. I cleared the panther in front of the witch, my teeth gnashing only millimetres from her porcelain face.

“Enough”

My body froze. Suspended mid air. Magdalene didn’t even flinch, even though my hot breath made the hair around her face sway. I tried to reach for her, tried to fight her powers. I wanted her dead. My animals screamed inside my head, a jumble of sounds that I couldn’t decipher. They were losing their syncretism, letting their rage create an imbalance that I knew, if not controlled, would inevitably cause our demise.

Magdalene shook her finger at me, tutting as she did so.

“Quinn. Quinn. Quinn. So easily angered. I can see now why Hades wants you all to himself”

As difficult as it was, I tried to ignore the witch’s taunts and concentrated on my breathing. I needed to focus. I allowed my body to absorb the power from the gems in my amulet. I breathed in and out, allowing the energy to seep into my subconscious, to calm my animals. I felt my face and hands return to normal, earning a raised brow from Magdalene.

“I’m impressed” she voiced, “You demonstrate restraint. But it’s too little too late”

Magdalene waved her hand and a familiar buzzing sound filled the air. I could feel the pull from the portal that I knew had opened up behind me.
The witch lifted her hand to my face and gently ran her perfectly manicured finger down my cheek.

“It’s a shame. After failing to kill you as a baby I was so elated when Clayton managed to track you down again as an adult. It wasn’t hard to convince him to allow me help his cause…men, they are so gullible. But to have you escape my clutches a second time, shame on me”

We are ready. We are one. The witch must die.

My mind was finally clear and I knew it was time to put my training to the test, it was now or never. I focused on the amulet, allowing my animals to feed off the gems, to call on the powers of their gods and their kin. The clasp heated against my skin and my heart skipped a beat, I knew it was working.

“You sneaky girl”

Shit.

My eyes widened and Magdalene shook her head.

“I don’t think so young lady”

The witch looked at the clasp around my wrist, realising exactly what I was doing. With one simple snap of her fingers my wrist and hand snapped, I screamed as an invisible force tore the clasp from me and it flew into Magdalene’s hand.
She looked at it with amusement in her eyes before throwing it to the ground.

No! No! No!

I bit the inside of my cheek, trying to stifle the sob that threatened to tear out of my chest. My animals went silent, maybe finally realising that this was it. We had failed. We had failed Jayce. We had failed Kyanite and we had failed humanity.

“It really is a shame that I don’t get to kill you myself” Magdalene sighed, “Any last words before I send you to Hades?”




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