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Magblo

Chapter 6 - Troubled Waters

By: Andrew J. Kolesar

 

“Great, if this doesn’t look bad, I don’t know what does.” Jack said.

Maeve shifted out of lupus form, as Samandra and Gabriel laid Latharous’ body on a table. Tarian stepped closer to Maeve, this crowd looked hostile indeed. Everyone started to move forward, trying to see what was going on. Three counsel members stepped forward and looked at Latharous. The counsel man in the center looked at the group, and in a polite and patient tone asked for an explanation.

Tarian stepped forward and informed the counsel member and surrounding people of what happened. How shortly after Lord Tymerian’s death Maeve felt another murder, how they got transported to an unknown place and about how Soren betrayed them. Tarian didn’t mention their visit to Shadowolf.

The counsel member spoke up and addressed Tarian, “With both your elder brothers dead, you General Tarian Tymerian are now the rightful lord of the Elven Nation. We will lay your brother’s body to rest in your families’ burial site, and place a marker for Soren. But after the viewing of your father’s body, you will be inaugurated as Lord Tymerian the IX.”

Apparently Tarian hadn’t thought of that. His legs lost all solidity and he fell on his ass, staring at the assembled crowd. He mumbled that he didn’t know how to be a lord of a nation. But no one heard him as the crowd erupted into discussion. Maeve kneeled down next to him and put her arms around his shoulders giving him a light squeeze. He looked at her and whispered he was just a warrior, he didn’t want to be a lord of anything. She smiled and kissed his cheek. She noticed that Tarian looked very tired suddenly.

Gabriel and Samandra helped Tarian up and did their best to sound happy for him. Samandra noted the look of sadness in Tarian’s eyes. She could tell that he didn’t want this, she knew it wasn’t her brother to be lord of the nation. It was a burden he was going to have to accept, he would also have to tell Maeve good bye. As lord he must marry an elven woman of noble birth, and he must do it before his hundredth year as lord.

Tarian excused himself and left. Maeve was about to follow when Samandra caught her arm. Samandra told her to let him go he needed time to think things through.

“But he needs someone to talk to, someone to comfort him. The look on his face was worse than when Latharous died. By being lord, they’re stripping him of everything he his.” Maeve said.

“I know, but they’re also taking you away from him as well. He must now marry an elven woman of noble birth. And there are several women who’ll want him. Not only for the position, but Tarian is the more handsome out of my brothers. So not only do they take away his way of living, but also the woman he loves he must say farewell to.” Samandra sadly told her.

“L-Love, what do you mean? Has he actually said it?” Maeve asked.

“No, but Tarian was never one to show emotion. He has showed you more warmth and care than I’ve ever seen him display towards anyone in my life. I know my brother Maeve; Tarian loves you very much. I’m just sorry it has to be like this.” Samandra answered.

“But he’s gonna be the lord, he can change the laws.” Maeve responded.

“No Maeve, there are something’s that are as you human’s say, ‘are written in stone.’ Even the lord can’t change them.” Samandra informed her.

Maeve turned a few shades of red and stormed off, obviously very upset. Jack walked over and asked what was wrong. Samandra just gave Jack a dirty look and stormed off as well. Her shades of red were in anger however. Jack gave Gabe a confused look, evidently he missed something.

Gabriel let Jack in on what was going on with Tarian and Maeve, and then let Jack know why Samandra was angry with him. At the latter part Jack only shrugged and said, “She’s young, she’ll get over it.” and then he walked off.

Counselor Marius Moonfrost walked up to his son. In all the commotion of the last few days, Gabe hadn’t even thought of his family. His mother and sister ran to him and the four of them held onto one another for a long time. Loreena held onto her son for dear life, fearful that if she let go he’d disappear.

 

After the mourning period was over, Lord Tymerian’s body was set in front of the palace for viewing. Over the course of the last few days no one saw nor heard anything from Tarian. Maeve thought several times, almost all the time, about going and seeing him. But as hard as it was she stayed away, both physically and mentally. Gabriel went home to his family with Samandra. They announced that they were still to wed, and Gabe joked that his trip away was just that, nothing but an adventure away. Jack was waiting for them to show Lord Tymerian’s body, and then a few hours later he’d leave.

Jack looked out the window of his rooms. To the nation it had been years since the goblin war, but to him it was just months ago. He was surprised to find that he actually missed it. Battling the goblins on that beautiful day, with Tarian fighting by his side. It was just a splendid time, sure he died but that wasn’t even Samandra’s fault. He was then also surprised at this surge of jealousy towards Gabe and Sam. After all, he knew that their relationship would not last, and that Gabriel and Samandra had been an item before Jack’s father was born, hell maybe longer.

Jack decided that he was glad to be human. Living the long life of an elf was something they could keep. There was just too much pain and misery in the world to stomach much more than a few decades. He looked away and paced his rooms; he then realized that the funeral bell no longer was ringing. He strapped on his sword and gun and headed down to the palace gates.

 

Samandra and Gabriel stood looking at Lord Tymerian, Gabriel held onto her as she wept. He saw Maeve walking down the palace steps, she to looked quite exhausted and upset. Gabe guessed that she probably hadn’t spoken to Tarian yet either. Maeve walked over to them, and Gabe put an arm around her as well.

 

Jack stood looking from the top of the palace stairs. He could see Lord Tymerian from here, as well as Gabe, Sam, and Maeve. He was about to turn and leave, when something in the shadows caught his eye. He turned and squinted, something felt wrong. Like his favorite superhero, his danger sense was tingling. Then he saw it again; it was the sun reflecting off of a rifle barrel. Jack smiled and was about to leave when he remembered that Tarian had told him that the Elven Nation no longer had their rifles.

Jack spun and stared at the shadows. Frantically searching for that rifle again. He drew his pistol and moved slowly and carefully in the shadows himself. He got to a better vantage point and saw the rifleman. He had the weapon up and ready to fire, the assassin was aiming at Samandra’s back. Jack lifted his weapon but realized that there wasn’t a chance for a clear shot. He swore to himself and ran like the wind, knocking people over as he went.

He cast a spell on himself and leapt into the air. He soared over the heads of the crowd and landed directly behind Gabe and Sam. Jack lifted the gun but saw his mark running down the avenue, without a word to his friends Jack gave chase. He heard Gabe yell something behind him, but now was not the time to stop and chat. His mark turned down a side street and Jack in turn followed. They ran for what felt like miles when Jack, about to give up, felt a force slam him directly in the chest. His instinct took over and he dove for cover. He realized that he was having trouble breathing and his world was becoming fuzzy. With all the effort he could muster he stood.

He vaguely made out a figure moving ahead and much more slowly gave chase again. Jack started cursing the Shroud for not having the ability to heal ones self. Jack then realized that he must have been yelling out his curses, his mark stood in the alley waiting for him, his rifle up to fire patiently aiming. Though they only stood twenty feet apart now, Jack’s vision was so blurry and faded that he still couldn’t make out the assassin.

Jack smiled; he knew that this was it. Once again he was going to die and once again he thought of that damn book Arden had handed to him once, long ago. ‘So, You’re Going To Fuckin Die!’ yes indeed. He was about to except his fate when an excerpt from his favorite poem came to mind, ‘Rage! Rage! Against the dying of the light. Do not go gently into that sweet night.’

At that Jack’s vision cleared instantly, he swung his pistol up and around and dropped to one knee. The assassin saw the change, but couldn’t pull the trigger fast enough. His own shot went wildly into the air and out of harms way as his own body was riddled with bullets. Jack kept firing until chucks of flesh and gore were flying off the body, and then Jack himself hit the ground as his own wound over powered him.

 

Gabe, Samandra, and Maeve were right behind Jack but lost him amongst the crowd. They were looking around excitedly when they heard a single shot ring out. They ran towards the sound and saw Jack on one knee, a man with a rifle in front of him, and Jack releasing a salvo of bullets into the man. After Jack collapsed they ran over to him. They saw that he’d been shot in the chest, blood was gushing out of his chest. It looked as if he’d been shot in a lung as he began gurgling blood.

Maeve shifted to lupus form and hoisted Jack into her arms. Gabriel said that they needed to get to Tarian; if they didn’t soon Jack was going to die. Maeve in the lead easily cleared a path for them as they ran past screaming elves. Jack was covering himself and Maeve in blood, by the time they reached the palace; Maeve was making bloody footprints on the marble.

Four guards stood in front of Tarian’s chamber doors. They drew their weapons preparing for an attack. Maeve let out a roar from the bottom of her soul. Even though the guards trembled, they stood their ground. They were about ready to attack when Gabriel and Samandra caught up and Tarian opened the doors.

Tarian at once saw what was wrong and quickly ordered the guards to stand down. Maeve didn’t wait and charged through them, neither she nor especially Jack had time to wait. Tarian stood up after being bowled over and ran for his sword. He once again called the sword’s name, it glowed a pale green light, he touched it to Jack’s wound, and then they watched in horror as the wound turned black and a putrid substance started to ooze from the wound. Jack was unconscious already or he would have screamed out in agony.

When they realized that they were about to lose him, Maeve quickly jumped into Jack’s mind. Unfortunately she ran into the riddles again. Fortunately they were the same riddles. Before she entered she asked the old man if he’d just remember that she was here, that way they could skip this part. He answered that it wouldn’t be a problem, and she entered.

Samandra ran out of the room and headed for the priest’s chambers, she had to find a healer. Gabriel held a cloth over Jack’s wound to stop whatever the hell this stuff was, from flowing out. Tarian paced around anxiously searching for a way to be helpful. At first he couldn’t understand what went wrong. Aymeribol should have healed Jack as it did Gabriel. Then he realized why, Aymeribol was a good weapon, destroyer of evil. Although Tarian didn’t believe Jack was evil, he did say that he chose to walk the Dark Path. But no one, as far as he knew, knew why Jack chose it.

Samandra returned with the priests and they looked at Jack’s wound. They began to chant and when they touched his wound, the skin around it began to bubble. Maeve was harshly ejected from Jack’s mind screaming. The healers stopped immediately and said that they couldn’t do anything for a Death Child and they promptly left.

Samandra asked Maeve to contact Lord Arden, he was still somewhere in the castle. But before she even began they saw Jack’s body begin to thrash. He was having spasms equal to someone having a violent seizure. The four of them tried to hold him down and then suddenly Tarian backed off. He realized Jack was in the midst of his death throes. He pulled Maeve and Samandra off as Gabe stepped back. They looked at the still form of Jack, when he bolted up into a sitting position taking in a huge breath of air. Everyone let out a yelp and jumped back.

Jack reached into his pocket and grabbed a cigarette, he offered everyone one, but they declined. As he sat there slowly smoking, he noticed the looks he was getting.

“You were dead.” Samandra finally said.

“No I wasn’t, I was in a healing trance. Then you touched me with that fuckin sword and sent my entire being into a world of anguish. Tarian as long as I live, which judging by things won’t be to long, do not touch me with that thing ever again. It hurts like hell!” Jack yelled.

“Sure Jack, not a problem. I need to talk to you in private when you have the chance. When you feel up to it, let me know.” Tarian said.

“I’m ready whenever you are, but first I’m sure you’d all like to know what exactly happened.” Jack replied.

Jack went into a full explanation back to why he chose the Dark Path. He told them that he could better understand his enemy if he was his enemy. He knew that one day it would actually kill him, but if he could use his knowledge to help out the good side in this war to come, then it was worth his death. The others started to disagree, but Jack cut them off and went into an explanation of what had just happened. He told them how he planned on leaving after he saw Lord Tymerian and how he saw the rifle reflected in the sunlight. When he was finished talking, no one made a sound.

It looked as if Tarian’s heart just fell. Maeve, now in human form, went over and took his hands, peering into his eyes. Tarian gently moved her aside and stood up to address them.

“Well what I was going to say to Jack in private I might as well say to all of you. After all, Jack’s actually the only person who won’t be directly effected by it.” Tarian paused, noting the rapt attention he was getting. Then he continued, “I’ve thought this over for days, and the impact of my decision will have a profound effect on our nation. On the day of the inauguration, history will be made. I need you two to be married as quickly as possible. Fore after I am officially lord of the nation, the reign of Tymerian will end. I will then hand over my title to my sister, who will be Lady Moonfrost by then. Starting the reign of Lord and Lady Moonfrost.” Tarian said.

All was quiet as Tarian finished. Gabriel stood up and told Tarian that he’d be honored to marry Samandra, but as for being lord, that was a different story. Like Tarian, he didn’t know anything about being a lord. Samandra stood as well, she could see the passion burning in Tarian’s eyes. She didn’t much want to be the lady of the nation, but she knew she had to do this for Tarian. She spun on Gabe and looked at him with hands on her hips, and told him that they will accept the title. Gabriel almost fell over.

“What! You actually want to be lord and lady of the nation?” Gabe spat out.

“No, actually I don’t. You may dislike the idea of it, but look Gabe; it’s actually killing Tarian. Note the sudden change in his appearance.” Samandra said smiling broadly.

“A little hard to note the change when he’s wearing a small woman about the neck. The only thing I can actually see is a smile, unless that’s what you mean.” Gabe playfully joked.

When the excitement had settled down Samandra and Gabriel headed off. Him to tell his parents, and her to start getting ready. Tarian excused himself and went into his private room to change and prepare the ceremony. Being a general in the military and as acting lord, Tarian had the rights to perform the marriage. When he told Gabriel and Samandra, they were both delighted. Jack and Maeve stood looking at each other when Jack realized something.

“Have you noticed that no one wants to be the lord of the Elven Nation?”

“Yeah I have. To bad humans would probably be stoned to death if we accepted the title. They already don’t like me too much. I think they’re a little frightened of werewolves.” Maeve responded.

 “I wonder why Maeve, I’ve heard about your actions. But I think that Lord and Lady Karde has a nice ring to it.” Jack replied.

“Jack, whatever women you marry sure as hell won’t be a lady. A woman we can only hope, lady definitely not.” Maeve joked.

“Hey! Don’t sell yourself short. I was thinking we could just make this a double wedding. Save sometime and energy.” Jack said with a grin.

Maeve smiled and shook her head. They were right about one thing; Jack definitely had a sense of humor. As she was about to walk out the door she looked back and said. “Besides Jack, it’d never work out. I seriously doubt you’d ever be able to handle me.” Maeve said with a wink and walked away.

 

Gabriel didn’t like the lordship part, but it was a good excuse to marry Samandra. Of course he’d have to come up with a real good excuse to tell his parents. If they eloped, Gabe’s mother would send him back to the Kingdom of the Dead personally. He walked into his parent’s home and found his mother right away. He asked her if she’d get father, he had some very important and exciting news.

He decided to leave out the lordship part, he wanted them to be just as surprised as everyone else. Gabe thought of telling them that the reason they were getting married so quickly was because Samandra was pregnant. Then thought better of that, it would take hours to calm that chaos down. He decided that he’d tell them the truth, but just leave out a few details.

As his parents and sister came in and sat down, Gabe stood and announced that he and Samandra were going to wed this afternoon. After his announcement a deafening silence filled the room. Gabe looked worried; then all at once his family erupted into questions. After all questions were answered his mother grabbed his sister Anaya and headed off for their dressing chambers. Gabe’s father stood and congratulated his son. When Gabe was finally alone again he blew out a deep sigh and plopped on the sofa.

 

An hour later Samandra, Malindria and Maeve were giggling like a couple schoolgirls as they were getting dressed. This wasn’t exactly the way Samandra had envisioned her wedding, but everything that was important was in place. Almost everything, she wished dearly her father could be present. She tried to think of someone to give her away, she figured she’d ask Arden. The ladies were discussing topics that always accompany a wedding when a knock sounded on the door.

They stood around half dressed and only a quarter ready when the knock sounded. All of them yelled, “Go away!” in unison. They began to giggle at their unity, when the knock sounded more persistent this time. Maeve closed her eyes and concentrated. Jack was standing outside the door with an old, ancient looking elf. She told Samandra, and the three ladies threw on robes. Samandra answered the door.

Since Jack had saved her from being assassinated, she was slightly happier with him. She wasn’t sure what his problem was; she seemed to be the only person he was short with. But stopping the assassin, and risking his own life for her, showed her two things. 1) Jack didn’t hate her or wish her dead, and 2) Jack, no matter what path he was walking, wasn’t evil.

“Yes Jack, what can we do for you?” she asked.

Jack looked into the room at three scantily clad women and grinned. He looked back to Samandra and cleared his throat driving the impure thoughts from his head. He could see the disapproving look on Maeve’s face already.

“You need someone to give you the boot right? Find anyone yet?” Jack asked.

“Give me the boot? What are you talking about?” she replied

“Give you away, still looking for someone?” he said.

“Yes I am, I take it you know someone?” Sam asked.

“Why yes I do! My friend Ty here.” Jack answered.

At that Samandra opened the door all the way and saw an ancient elf standing there. He looked so familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on where she knew him from. She looked at Jack for an explanation.

“You see Sam, this is Lord Latharous Tymerian the I. When we made our little prison break he jumped aboard to help. He wanted to see what the Elven Nation has become, plus no one in their right mind would want to stay where we were at anyway. So Sam, I present to you Ty, your great something grandpa.”

“Griffinfeathers! For starters, why would the first lord and founder of our nation be in a place like the Kingdom of the Dead? And then if I believe it’s really him, if, why would he not say something sooner?” Samandra said.

“To answer your first question Princess, I was in the Kingdom because I died in battle. It’s in the history books; I was quite interested in seeing what history recalled of me. I was nicely surprised to see all that was written about me. To answer your second part, I was very wrapped up in seeing my nation. It was nothing like this ten thousand years ago. Although I’m slightly disappointed that we haven’t come farther along. I would have hoped to have seen that we would have become more advanced than we are.” Ty answered.

Malindria was at the door with Samandra now. She was staring at Ty in wonder. Malindria told Samandra that it had to be Lord Tymerian the I. The resemblance of this man and the one in the tomb was exact. Lord Tymerian the I commented about the ‘Hall of Heroes’, also mentioning that a person should never ever see their own body. It was creepy and just unnatural. Jack laughed, those were his thoughts exactly.

At the sudden realization that Jack wasn’t playing a joke, and this really was the first lord and founder of the Elven Nation, Samandra and Malindria bowed deeply. Ty told them to rise, he was just another elf now and thanks to Jack, he was simply calling himself Ty.

Maeve walked up and coughed, holding Samandra’s wedding dress out. Family reunions could wait until later; this was on a timetable. With the kick back to reality Samandra asked her ancestor if he’d do the honor of giving her away. Ty accepted, and walked away with Jack. They could hear Ty commenting on the palace and wishing he thought about it in his day.

 

A few hours later the temple of Daganion was filled. Jack thought it was amazing how quickly things could get done when the time limit was short. Before today, Jack had never been to a wedding and now he was Gabriel’s best man. Gabriel and Jack were dressed in ceremonial elven platemail. The designs and high polish made it a beautiful piece of work. Tarian stood in a ceremonial dress robe of silk with embroidered symbols of his house, nation and god on it. Jack had to admit, even though he felt awkward about this; he was honored to be here. It was a chance to see a wedding the elven way.

 Jack wished he had time to throw a good ol American bachelor party. As he stood by the altar with Gabe and Tarian, Jack had an image of Maeve in lupus form dancing seductively on a stage wearing a g-string and pasties. Then loudly in his mind he heard someone clear their throat. Jack started to chuckle to himself causing people to give him strange looks.

As the minstrels began playing, Jack saw Malindria and Maeve walk down the aisle together. Not only did Jack’s jaw drop, but he noticed that Tarian and Gabe’s jaw also hit the floor. Jack gave Gabe a hard jab to the ribs, knocking Gabe back into reality. No bride would like her groom to be lusting after her bridesmaids, especially before the wedding.

When the two ladies took their place, the music changed to a softer, slower tempo. Princess Samandra and Ty started walking down the aisle. Samandra looked radiant in her white dress and veil. Jack started to feel a bit jealous again, and looked over at Maeve instead. A few minutes later everyone was in place for the ceremony to begin.

“Family, friends, and honor guests. We are brought here today to celebrate the union of Captain Gabriel Solarin Moonfrost and Princess Samandra Marici Tymerian. If anyone here knows any reason why these two should not be united in the eyes of Daganion or this nation, stand and be recognized.” Tarian started.

After these words were said, the wedding party kneeled so that no one but Tarian stood. No one but Jack who momentarily looked around. He then realized what was happening and kneeled as well. Tarian smiled at Jack and realized they should have let him know a few things about elven weddings. Like the archer who’ll shoot an arrow after the ceremony. It was a symbolization that the married couple had a straight path ahead of them as one element.

“If the bride and groom will join hands we may begin.” Tarian continued.

Jack didn’t realize that the ceremony would take so long. Granted, elves were more careless with wasting time, but after four hours of traditional ceremonial speeches and displays he was getting bored. His short attention span was being tested and he began to wonder if anyone would notice if he quickly and quietly ducked out. Slight relief came when he caught Maeve’s eye. He was grateful for her telepathy at that point. After almost two hours of actual in-depth conversation it was almost over. Six fucking hours for one lousy wedding. And Gabe told him it’d be quick.

As the couple embraced in a kiss to signify the completion of their wedding Tarian said loudly above the happy sobbing, “Let me introduce to you, Captain and Princess Moonfrost!” The crowd erupted in cheers. Jack looked at the assembly and then noticed a lone man on the balcony above them all. Jack placed his hand on his magical gun; he’d only draw it if it became absolutely necessary. Then he saw the bow and watched as the archer notched an arrow.

At that Jack drew his gun and yelled up to the archer to drop his weapon. The archer gave Jack a strange, confused sort of look. He didn’t know what that thing Jack was holding, and he didn’t understand why he was being commanded to stop, but stop he did.

Gabe looked over at Jack who hadn’t moved. His weapon was still trained on the archer when Gabe walked over and stood next to him laughing.

“Jack it’s alright. At the end of a wedding an archer shoots an arrow over the heads of the bride and groom. It’s to symbolize that the couple will as one entity follow a straight path. Put the weapon down and lets finish this.” He said to Jack. Then quietly he whispered, “But I’m damn glad to know you’ve got our backs.”

Everyone got back into position again and Gabriel and Samandra Moonfrost turned to face Tarian. The last rite was about to be performed. At the end of what was known as the marriage rite, where the couple prick the end of their finger and mix a few drops of blood into a single vial, the arrow was to let loose.

Jack watched as they pierced their fingers and dropped a few drops of blood. Then his danger sense started to tingle again, out of the corner of his eye he watched the archer. Jack saw that the man was ready, he was slightly flexing the bowstring and as the vial got a stopper, he let loose. Jack quickly realized that the arrow was too low to fly overhead. He fired off two shots at the archer and dove to the side, rolled and came up in a couched position holding the arrow. It was inches from Samandra’s throat.

Tarian yelled for the guards and within seconds the archer was apprehended. Samandra stood quivering as Jack, for the second time that day had saved her life. Jack stood and handed the arrow to Tarian. Samandra grabbed Jack around the neck and hugged him tightly. Jack looked at Gabriel and pointed to his new bride. Gabe pulled her away and they stood looking at Jack in gratitude.

“How did you know?” Tarian asked.

“I didn’t really, the first time was an accident. I thought he was an assassin, I didn’t know about your archer custom. You guys may want to stop that one. Shooting arrows at a newly married couple probably isn’t in the best interest of the couple. Personally I think shooting them is a good idea, puts them out of their misery, especially the guy…” Jack was rambling

“Jack, stick with the story. How’d you know?” Maeve interrupted.

 “Oh, well as I was saying I didn’t really know. I was just watching the ceremony waiting for the arrow to fly when as earlier today; I felt this strange feeling. I’m guess like my favorite wall-crawler; I’ve got a danger sense as well. Because as soon as it went off I saw the arrow get released and I knew right away that it wasn’t going to fly overhead. Don’t ask how I caught it, that I don’t know.” Jack answered.

“Like I said before Jack, damn glad you’re watching our backs. When this is all over, the worlds domination thing, how would you feel about being Captain of the Guards in the palace? You’d be Captain Karde, Captain of the Lord’s Guards.” Gabe asked.

“Sorry Gabe, but when this is all over I plan on building, maybe even taking my bone castle and moving it right next door to Arden. That way I can bug him for a long time. Besides, you wouldn’t want me anyway. I’m a Death Child now, and I’d just stink up the place. Which makes me wonder when I’ll start rotting.” Jack said.

“I think we have bigger problems right now though. In one day, Samandra has been the target for assassination twice now. Now I’m not trying to imply anything or accuse, but it’s also twice that Jack’s been there to save the day. Personally I think it’s luck that Jack’s managed to save her life both times, but it has to mean something. I think that whoever is behind this wants Jack there when she’s assassinated.” Maeve said.

“Why would you think that? What would it matter if Jack was around or not?” Tarian asked.

“Simply because it would have been easier to attack her while she was getting ready for her wedding. It was only the three of us. Like Jack, he could have knocked on the door and when she answered it, he could have killed her then.” Maeve explained.

 The group stood around thinking it over, Maeve was right they realized. Tarian also pointed out that there must be more spies in the nation. How else would they know about the wedding so quickly? Tarian spat out a curse on the heads of all Children of Death. Jack gave him a slight disapproving look. But everyone agreed that even though Jack walked the Dark Path, he was in no way a Death Child.

Gabriel suggested that they go and interrogate their prisoner; maybe he’d have some answers for them. Tarian told him that he wasn’t going anywhere. He and Samandra had just gotten married; it wasn’t the time for them to be interrogating anyone. He was also sorry, but their wedding party would have to wait until another time. He would inform their guests that it was cancelled in light of the situation.

So the group split up, Captain and Princess Moonfrost went to their chambers in the palace while Tarian, Maeve and Jack headed for the dungeons. Maeve was looking forward to interrogating the prisoner. She was really starting to like being intimidating. As the trio walked towards the dungeons Maeve thought about the first time she actually started standing up for herself. It was in high school, and the topic was football.

 

Maeve’s childhood was a lot like any normal humans. She went to Medulla Elementary then to Lakeland Highlands Jr. High, and then to Kathleen Sr. High. She had all the same classes as the regular kids, and participated in all the same extracurricular activities. It was really just her gym instructors that noticed how tough this little petite girl was.

In high school the gym coach wouldn’t allow her to play football. It wasn’t a sexiest issue, because of her small frame he was actually worried that she’d get hurt. So one day while she was on the sidelines watching Brody and the rest of the boys play, an idea struck her. As the quarterback threw the pass, Maeve jumped in play and intercepted the ball.

Knowing that Brody wouldn’t treat her like a fragile china doll, she stood looking at the shocked boys. Maeve, with a sly grin told Brody that if he wanted the ball, he was gonna have to get it from her. With that said she bolted for the end zone. Brody took off, hot on her heels.

The whistle fell out of the coach’s mouth as he watched Maeve run, not only was she the fastest player he had ever watched, but she had agility and grace like he’d never seen. She had almost made it to the end zone when two twin boys from opposite sides slammed her. The loud crunch of the impact made him and almost everyone else cringe. The coach blew the whistle and ran out onto the field.

When the three boys (Brody had tripped and fell on top of the pile) got off of her, Maeve sat up and looked at the coach. The coach’s mouth dropped as she stood up, a tackle that would have taken out the toughest of his players, this little girl walks away from without a blemish, in fact she was smiling. The only sign that she had even been tackled was the mud on her clothing; she even still had the ball.

The coach ran her through a series of tests, checking her motor skills. He tested her dexterity, speed, hand/eye coordination, and a few others things. He asked Maeve if she’d stay after school, he wanted the other coaches to see her play. Maeve agreed and walked off with Brody running after her. They stopped a few yards away from everyone.

“Maeve I know you want to play, and I know how tough you are, but you can’t go doing this. We have to downplay what we can do. Showing off like that makes you look like you have super powers. I mean a girl your size should have been killed from that hit. You know I love you and want the best for you, I’m just saying cool your jets a bit.” Brody said.

“No I won’t cool my jets. I hate being a small little girl. Out in public I always have to stop being me, a short, petite girl isn’t supposed to be able to do the things that I can easily do. I’m sick of pretending to be something I’m not. I can kick anyone’s ass here, even yours. But if a fight happens I always have to stay clear. I can’t help the kid being bullied, or I have to back down from someone pushing my buttons. I’m tired of playing the helpless victim, we have powers Brody, and I plan on using them.” Maeve yelled.

 

Brody walked away shaking his head. That fire Maeve had was one of the things he loved most about her. If it were ever extinguished it would mean that she was dead or someone had severely handed her, her ass. As always he’d be there for her, after all isn’t that what boyfriends are for? Of course their relationship was slightly different.

Their small pack all lived together. Brody’s adopted mother was a very loving and nurturing mother. Jessica with the help of her sister, Lilith and Maeve’s father Andrew were raising four cubs. Besides Brody and Maeve, there was Gwideon and Ewan. Gwid and Ewan were orphanes like Brody; their parents along with Maeve’s mother were killed in a battle against the Dark Forces years back.

The small pack of seven all lived under one roof. They lived as a pack of wolves sharing everything and working together. The four young cubs all slept in the basement of their home. It was their room to do with as they pleased. The adults never interfered and treated them with respect. The adults were more like guides than parents, but Jessica was always quick to kiss any boo boos they might have. They knew what their children were and what their calling in life was. They couldn’t shelter them.

 

Brody, along with Gwideon and Ewan watched after school as Maeve showed off for the coaches. They were really treating her like a boy Brody’s size, and even though she could take it, the six foot four, two hundred and forty-pound boy that was Brody still cringed. Gwid and Ewan were enjoying watching Maeve go through it. These to twin werewolves never took anything seriously.

“You realize that by tackling her earlier that you caused this. If you two just let her make a touchdown the coach would have just ignored it. Granted he was probably impressed by the way she moved but it would have stopped there.” Brody scolded.

“Yeah but where was the fun in that? Besides, she’s enjoying herself.” Gwid said, then he turned to his brother and with excitement said. “Hey! You think they’ll let her play on the varsity team? I mean she’s better than most of the guys.”

“You know Andrew is going to kill us. Her showing off like this is definitely a rule breaker. We’re supposed to blend in and not show off. What if someone discovers us?” Brody asked.

“Brod, for such a big guy you worry a lot. Take it easy she’s not doing anything to break the code. She’s just proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Besides, she’s actually really good and if you’d stop worrying about her, you’d see that.” Ewan said in a rare moment of seriousness.

As the cubs stood, Brody opened up his mind and actually watched Maeve play. He knew she was tough, and agile, but he didn’t realize until now that she was really good at playing the game. When the test was over, Maeve walked towards them. Gwid and Ewan clapped as Brody gave her a slight smile. She told them how the coaches wanted her to play, but she turned them down. She was only trying to make a point; she had no intentions of playing on the team.

 

Tarian tapped her shoulder and brought Maeve back to reality. They were standing in front of the dungeon doors. Maeve commented that it looked like they made the bars thicker. Tarian laughed and said that they had to, if she could bend the bars on the old door as easily as she did, then the new door had to have thicker bars. Jack, not understanding or really caring about what they were talking about, opened the door and stepped through.

He noticed that these dungeons looked nothing like dungeons at all. It was well lit down here and there were no torture devices. In fact it looked like any jail he had ever seen. Jack was slightly disappointed; he had hoped to see some interesting things down here. Even the men on watch looked like regular elves, clean and proper. Not one of them was the dirty, toothless, vile jailer you’d expect with a dungeon. Jack frowned slightly as he went up to the clean and proper guard.

A minute later they were standing in front of the cell that held the archer. Jack noticed that the man inside looked scared to death, he was paler than an elf usually was and he was slightly shaking. Jack wasn’t good at judging age, especially of elves, but if he had to guess, this elf was still just a boy. Jack gave Tarian and Maeve a curious look and then went in the jail cell.

Jack sat down on the cot with the archer as Tarian and Maeve hovered in the doorway. The boy began to tremble more and beads of sweat started to break out on his face. Jack pulled his gun out and pressed the muzzle hard into the boy’s temple, with his other hand he held the back of the boy’s head. Maeve yelled out in surprise, angered by Jack’s actions. Tarian wasn’t too happy about the way this was going either, but decided to keep quiet.

“What the fuck are you doing Jack! The boy’s scared shitless already! Put the damn gun away and let me talk to him.” Maeve yelled.

“Back off Maeve, I know what I’m doing. This boy gives us the information we need, he lives. If he tells us nothing his brains will add a splash of color to these walls.” Jack said calmly, never taking his eyes off the boy.

Tarian put a hand on Maeve’s shoulder, she shrugged it off, walked over to Jack, and in a swift move, snatched the gun away and stood her ground. Jack stood, towering over her and glared down at her. Maeve was sort of surprised by the look on Jack’s face; it was as emotionless as a statue.

Jack bent low to her ear and whispered. “I’m not going to kill him Maeve. He’s a young, very frightened boy who if he thinks he’s about to be killed will very easily spill the beans. Trust me; I’m only going to scare him more. I’m not a baby killer after all, not yet at least.” He said with a wink.

Maeve handed Jack the gun back and said aloud to keep the show going. “Fine Jack, but when you shoot him I want you to remember that I warned you.” Then in Jack’s mind she said. ‘Just don’t scare him to death. I doubt he even knew what he was doing.’

Jack sat down and grabbed the boy again. But this time it was on the shoulder, the gun was in Jack’s hand resting on his lap. He looked hard into the boy’s eyes he noticed that they were wild looking with fright. Jack realized that this boy didn’t know what happened. Jack let go, closed his eyes and sighed. He put his weapon away and took a gentler approach.

“It’s alright kid, no one’s going to hurt you. What’s your name?” Jack said in a soft tone.

“M-M-M-Marshall B-B-B-Blackrider.” The boy stammered.

Jack looked at Maeve with a smile. In his mind he thought, ‘Blackrider aye, well Maeve if I remember right, your last name is Black. Black and Blackrider, what a nice couple you two would make.’

The thought of slamming something large and heavy into Jack’s head crossed Maeve’s mind. She’d get him back for that thought. But like everything else lately, it’d have to wait.

Jack turned back to the boy and noticed that he seemed a little calmer. Still in a soft tone he asked Marshall if he knew whom everyone here was. He knew Jack because of his father. Marshall’s father was one of the men that Jack had brought back from the Kingdom of the Dead. Marshall said that he of course knew Tarian, but he wasn’t sure who Maeve was. Jack asked him if he heard about the werewolf in the palace. The boy’s eyes grew large and he started to shake almost violently as he stared at Maeve.

Jack laughed and told him that Maeve wasn’t going to hurt him. After they had calmed the boy down again and the introductions were out of the way, Jack began to question the boy. Marshall told them that he was ordered to be the archer for the wedding. Everything was going, as it should, then Captain Karde ordered him to stop even though it wasn’t time to fire the arrow.

Marshall told them that, that was the last thing he remembered. The next thing he knew the guards were running in and taking him into custody. He then asked them why he was being arrested; he didn’t understand what he did wrong. He had done everything he was ordered to.

Tarian, Jack, and Maeve looked at one another with glum looks. While Jack and Marshall had been talking, Maeve was scanning Marshall’s mind. If the boy was lying he was good enough to not even think about a different story. Maeve moved Jack aside and took Marshall’s hand; she was going to delve deeper into his mind. With a bit of luck she’d be able to discover who had done what exactly.

 

Maeve made the connection and started to travel into Marshall’s mind. She found herself in a dark room that was moist and hot, it reminder her of a sauna. It was a small room with a wooden table and a few chairs around it in the room’s center. But upon further inspection she noticed what looked like a dog cage in the corner, something was moving inside it.

Maeve cautiously crept over to the cage and crouched down to peer inside. There was an elf trapped inside facing the opposite direction. She could tell that it was a male due to the fact that he was naked. Under different circumstances she would have been quite impressed and slightly flabbergasted by the sight. She cleared her throat and mind then she called out to the elf. The elf turned around and she was face to face with Marshall.  

Marshall then pointed behind her. Slowly she turned around and saw a figure standing in the shadows. She squinted into the shadows, even with her superior vision she couldn’t make out who it was. Then she felt the room go cold and before she knew what was happening she was on the floor clutching her head. Whoever was in the shadows wasn’t friendly as they blasted her with a telepathic attack.

 

Jack and Tarian watched as Maeve fell to the floor screaming. Tarian ran over and started shaking and slapping her, trying to break the connection. Jack watched as Tarian tried to revive her with no success. Jack closed his eyes and took a deep breath; he knew what had to be done to save Maeve. Jack knew that this whole event was planned out. Whoever this bastard was he knew his enemies and their abilities. This boy was expendable, he was meant to die. Just another pawn in the game.

Jack drew his weapon and fired two shots into the boy’s head. As the boy drew his last breath Maeve stopped screaming. She was trembling and covered in sweat and with Tarian’s help she sat up. She wiped the tears from her eyes and sweat from her face and looked around. When Maeve saw the boy she gasped and covered her mouth. Marshall’s face was frozen in terror, blood and brain dripping from the fatal wounds in his skull.

Tarian helped Maeve to stand and led her out of the room. Jack holstered his weapon and rubbed his face. So much for not being a baby killer. So much for telling the boy that no one was going to hurt him. Jack picked Marshall up and laid him on the cot, shut his eyes, and covered him with the sheet. He walked out to where Maeve and Tarian stood.

“Jack, I told her you didn’t have a choice. You did what you needed to do. Don’t beat yourself up over it, it’s not your fault.” Tarian said.

“Tarian, if that’s true, why do I feel so rotten. That boy couldn’t have been more than sixteen in human equivalency. I return his father to their family, only to kill their son a few days later. This is fucked up! I’m sick and fuckin tired of this shit!” Jack yelled as he kicked a mop bucket.

Maeve moved from Tarian over to Jack. She took his hands in hers and looked up at him with a weak smile. She noted the sadness in his eyes; she also noticed the look of someone who has just given up. She stepped in and gave him a hug; then she stepped back.

“Jack you can’t give up, if you do then all is lost. More innocent people will die, think of your family. You do have a family right?” Maeve asked.

Jack told her about his parents, sister, and nephew in Florida. Maeve was about to ask where in Florida they lived when Jack mentioned Lakeland. Maeve’s eyes lit up slightly and she began telling Jack that she was from Lakeland as well. For a few moments they forgot about everything as they began talking about the city. They both thought it was funny when Maeve realized that she actually knew Jack’s sister

Lisa. They thought it was really weird that they had to meet on a different world to find someone that had been to Lakeland. For a few minutes, everything was okay.

Then the three of them set out for Tarian’s quarters where they’d be able to discuss matters in private. Jack thought about going to get Gabriel and Samandra, but thought better of it. It was their wedding night and by now they were probably doing the nasty. Jack felt that surge of jealously again and quickly brought his mind around to more important matters.

 

Cerubus sat looking at his actual spy in the Elven Nation. He was not at all happy about the set backs that had occurred. He knew that if it wasn’t for that damn sword Tarian possessed the Elven Nation would be theirs by now. He also knew that none of it mattered anymore, not since the artifact had been taken out of the nation. All that was needed now for the destruction of the Elven Nation was the artifact. Cerubus had every intention of utterly destroying that accursed place.

“Let me guess Sigastri, Princess Samandra is still amongst the living. Am I correct in this assumption?” Cerubus stated more than asked.

“Yes sir, unfortunately the two assassination attempts on her life have failed. Both times it was Captain Karde who saved her. Captain Karde was almost killed himself in the first attempt. He ran after the assassin and was wounded severally. However somehow he survived, I believe he has learned how to heal himself in someway. It has been reported that Captain Karde has been using dark magic, the healers and that sword of Tarian’s couldn’t have healed him.” Sigastri, the elven spy said.

“Whatever the reasons or beliefs are, it doesn’t matter. You are to stand down from anymore tempts of assassinations. What I would like to know is why would Captain Moonfrost and Princess Samandra marry so quickly? There must be a reason behind their rushed marriage.” Cerubus stated.

“I will do my best to find the logic behind it my lord. I will also halt any further assassination attempts until further notice.” Sigastri said.

“Good, go back and find out what you can. I need to know what is going on. They’re planning something, I can feel it.” Cerubus commanded.

With that Cerubus created a portal and Sigastri was gone. Cerubus didn’t really care what the elves were up to, not any longer. He had always hated them and now that the artifact wasn’t on their world he was going to destroy them. Cerubus had agents searching the worlds for the Scepter of Kings. He hoped that soon he’d be in possession of the artifact. He just couldn’t decide what to do with it first.

 

Tarian sat in his chambers taking deep calming breaths. In a few minutes time he was about to be crowned Lord Tymerian the IX. But what made him really nervous was passing on the title to a non-Tymerian. He wondered how the people would react to the new era of lords to come, how they would react to the reign of Lord Moonfrost the I. For the first time since the nation was formed a Tymerian had ruled and today that was about to change.

Even though he’d only be Lord Tymerian the IX for a few short minutes, he’d still go down in the history books as a lord. But would history remember him as the lord who destroyed the nation by passing on the title, or would he be revered? Tarian didn’t want to be lord, but was it right for him to be so selfish to pass on the title and break tradition. Sure Samandra was a blood born Tymerian, but as their line grew the Tymerian blood would dwindle to nothing.

Tarian walked over to the window and peered out. He could already see the crowd gathered around the palace. Tarian realized that he felt less nervous facing certain death on a battlefield than he did now. The whole event that was about to take place was about to shock everyone in the nation from the counsel all the way down to the common man.

He closed his eyes and went over again how he was going to do this, first ordering his father’s body to be put in the Hall of Heroes, and then he would address the nation. Like every lord before him, he would give his inauguration speech, but unlike every lord before him, his speech wouldn’t be filled with acceptances or promises, it would be a speech of declination, short and to the point.

 A knock sounded on his chamber door, Tarian knew it was time to begin. He took a deep breath and strode over to the door and opened it. Four guards stood waiting, their armor polished and spotless. They were to escort him to the top of the palace stairs where the priests would perform the ceremony. Tarian looked at the four guards and smiled, he knew three of them personally, fighting by their sides during the goblin war. And now Tarian felt as if they were leading him to his execution.

 

The ceremony of swearing in a lord was like all other elven rituals, quite long. This ceremony would last most of the day starting in mid morning and ending after twilight. Tarian felt like he was wasting everyone’s time by waiting to be sworn in before he passed the title along. Unfortunately it had to be done this way; he couldn’t pass it on until he was lord.

 

Tarian walked out onto the platform on top of the steps and looked around him. As far as he could see, elves stood in audience for the ceremony. It was a beautiful sunny day; the temperature was perfect with a slight breeze whipping through. Tarian still couldn’t shake the feeling that all here where gathered for an execution, then he thought about the attempts on Samandra’s life. Was this feeling he was having a premonition, or was it just nervousness?

Tarian looked over to Gabriel and Samandra; they looked as nervous as he did. Tarian assumed that Gabe did have a better reason to be nervous, after all he was about to become lord himself. Tarian then looked over to Jack and Maeve, he noticed that Jack was scanning the crowd, his hand resting on the butt of his gun. Maeve to was searching the crowd, but unlike Jack, she had no weapon.

The priests stepped forward and the horns sounded, announcing the start of the ceremony. Over the course of the next several hours the priests prayed, recited incantations, performed rituals, read from books depicting the history of the nation and her former lords, and then finally anointed Tarian with an oil that would bring him wisdom to rule as a just and fair lord.

After the anointing of the Oil of Wisdom, it was time for the new lord to order the body of the past lord to be put into the Hall of Heroes. The crowd watched in silence as the tomb was lifted by guards and was led away by a priest into the palace. Once they were out of sight it was time for Lord Tymerian the IX to address the nation.

“People of the Elven Nation, I feel that as your lord I have already deceived you.” Tarian paused as whispers went through the crowd; he saw confusion on the assembled faces. When the crowd quieted down he continued. “I feel that I have deceived you because I had no intention of keeping the title that has been bestowed upon me. As the son of Lord Tymerian the VIII, it is my birthright, but alas, I am not a man who is fit to rule an entire nation. I am just a simple soldier, a warrior who knows nothing about being a lord.

“My late brother Prince Latharous studied his entire life for this, but since he and Prince Soren were both killed, it has been passed to me. I had no choice but in accepting the role, but as lord I have the power to pass the title on. Therefore I am passing it onto my sister, Princess Samandra and her husband Captain Gabriel Moonfrost. Today a new era begins under the rule of Lord Moonfrost.”

Tarian watched the crowd as a stunned silence fell over them. He knew that it was a lot for them to take. After all, the nation had never known a ruler other than a Tymerian. Tarian expected any second now that the crowd would begin shouting, the counsel most of all. Tarian looked at Gabriel and called him forth. Since there was no protocol for swearing in a new lord while the old lord still lived, Tarian had to make it up as he went. This time it would take minutes instead of hours.

He told Gabriel to kneel before him and Tarian drew his sword and held it above Gabriel’s head. “Captain Gabriel Moonfrost, I, Lord Tymerian the IX, pass on to you the title of lord in the Elven Nation. From this day forward, until the time of your own death may you rule with wisdom and grace, may you be a just and fair lord to the people of the nation you rule. May you look to the past for guidance for the events future.” Tarian finished as he touched Gabriel on each shoulder with his sword.

Tarian then told the priests to perform a quick ritual, ending with the anointment of the Oil of Wisdom. In stunned disbelief of the events unfolding, the priests did as ordered, quickly saying a few prayers and finally dabbing the oil on Gabriel’s forehead. When it was over the nation had a new lord for the second time that day, however this time it would not be passed on. Lord Gabriel Moonfrost the I stood before the nation, looking at his people.

Tarian leaned in and whispered into Gabriel’s ear, “Sort of scary isn’t it?”

“I don’t know whether to thank you Tarian, or have you killed for this.” Gabriel said with a smile. Then Lord Moonfrost addressed the nation of his people.

“People of the Elven Nation, I may be standing here as your new lord, but I am still the same man that fought with many of you on the battlefields. By our laws I am no longer able to do so, but the wisdom and patience of a warrior still beats true in my heart. I will guide the nation, not rule it, I will always listen to the people, and never will I turn a deaf ear unto you. If you become displeased, then so shall I, for without you we are not a nation.

“Yes, today history is being made. We all know our history, and the past lords of our nation. If all of you are skeptical and slightly frightened of what’s to come in our future, then let me tell you, I too join you in that skepticism and fear. I don’t know what’s to come in our future, but together we will overcome anything that the gods throw at us and as always we will be triumphant!”

As Lord Moonfrost finished his speech the crowd started to cheer. The new lord of the Elven Nation noted that all in the gathered assembly were smiling, most of all his parents, his mother had tears of joy running down her cheeks. Samandra went up to her husband and gave him a warm, heart felt hug. She was also smiling through the tears. Gabriel looked to Tarian as to what to do next; Tarian only shrugged he didn’t have a clue either.

 

That night the Elven Nation celebrated the reign of Lord Moonfrost. All were dancing, singing, and enjoying the merriment of the night. Gabriel once again broke custom as he to celebrated amongst the people. He turned down the private celebration in the palace and opted to be out with the people that he considered his equal. Gabriel vowed that he would never deem himself better than the people he ruled, no matter what position he held.

All in the nation rejoiced at the new era of rulership that lay before them. It appeared that no one was truly disheartened by the rule of Tymerian coming to an end. Although the nation flourished under the Tymerian rule, the people agreed that the time for change was now.

Gabriel was the first lord since the rule of Tymerian the I that was a warrior before he became the lord of the nation. It was apparent to all that met him in the street, that even though Gabe was now the lord of the Elven Nation, he was first and foremost a warrior. They couldn’t remember the last time they saw their lord in actual armor carrying a battle-tested sword at his side. Gabriel didn’t wear the fancy clothing of a noble, or the expensive jewels. Just simple elven made chain mail, a worn out tattered cloak, a set of old boots and his weapon belt that held his sword. The people already loved him for it, to them he was more on their level, not striving to be better than them.

Gabriel walked around without guards greeting everyone and anyone that came up to him. He danced with the ladies, accepted drinks from the men, and played with the children that ran up and tugged on his cloak. Not one single person thought that he was putting on a show, his smile was too genuine for that, his actions to sincere.    

Tarian, Jack, and Maeve looked at each other and smiled. Whether Gabriel was meaning to or not he was acting like a celebrity. Fore now everything was forgotten, the wars, the assassins, and the pending doom that was coming in the way of the Death Children and their allies. Tonight was a night for merriment and celebration; all serious matters would just have to wait for the morning.

 

Pheonix paced around an office swivel chair that held a normally intimidating being.  She was so bored of listening to the lies the creature spat out. But at least the lies were a good reason, if she even needed any, to inflict horrific pain to the creature of evil. The creature being a vampire, a lesser demon in her eyes, she herself, a demonhunter.

Pheonix was 22 years old and was five foot six, one hundred and twenty pounds. She had short black hair and the most beautiful blue eyes. Her body was athletic and tight and looked as if she was ready for anything, and when anything would come along, they would soon find out just how agile and tough she really was. Although she was petite she was very combat tough.

Wearing black jeans, halter top, and combat boots with a rapier strapped at one hip and a handgun on the other, she spun the vampire in slow circles.

“Come now Jeremy, you can’t possibly think that you can hold out forever can you? The sun will be up in a few short hours. I won’t use it to kill you outright, but a charbroiled hand or leg will hurt like hell, now won’t it?” she asked the vampire.

At that Jeremy spat in her face, a smug smile crossing his face. For years Pheonix and her brother Raven had been a thorn in the vampire community’s side. Always interfering when unwanted most, but now things were changing, times are about to get exciting. Jeremy decided that no matter what they did, there was no way he was going to give any information to these two. He knew that if he did, he was dead anyway.

Just then, Raven walked into the small poorly lit room. He was five foot ten, one hundred and eighty pounds. He too had black hair, except his was long and tied back into a ponytail; his eyes were the same blue as his sister’s and his body was muscular and hard. Raven looked just like Pheonix; after all, she was his younger twin sister. Raven was older by exactly three hours.

“Yo sis! What do you say to killing this morose motherfucker and splitting? This snaggle-toothed bastard isn’t going to tell us anything. Kill him and let’s be done with this mess, eh? We need to find this Karde guy, you heard Shadowolf.”

Pheonix looked at Jeremy, for three years she had tormented him, followed him, and basically just ruined his plans whenever she got the chance. She knew that he hated her; she could see the loathing burning in his brown eyes. To outright kill him would be to easy, what he needed was a death that showed her appreciation for all the fun over the years. As she stood looking down at him, Jeremy once again spat at her, this time, instead of just brushing it off she punched him, breaking off one of his elongated teeth.

Pheonix cut the vampire’s bonds and handed him a sword. “If he actually kills me Raven, let him go.” She said, then looking at Jeremy she continued, “But we both know he won’t, he’s too much of a pussy. Pearl Jam sure as hell didn’t write that song about you.” And at that she attacked. To say it was a fight would have been exaggerating. Pheonix went high for a head shot; her blade zipping in fast for his neck, Jeremy dropped his sword and threw his hands up. Before Pheonix could have even considered stopping her attack, Jeremy’s head, and right hand fell to the floor, then quickly burst into ash.

“See, that wasn’t so hard now, was it?” Raven smugly asked.

“Shut up, you know how much I loved torturing that loser. Hell, he even ran to Texas trying to get away from me. Remember the surprised look he had when he walked out his door in Austin and saw us leaning in his doorway?” Pheonix commented.

“Yeah I do, still though, can’t figure out why he’d want to leave little ‘ol Pensacola and run to Texas. Anyway, don’t really matter much anymore. We need to get to Colorado, find the werewolf tribes. Then we can get in contact with Shadowolf, and find this Karde guy. Still can’t figure out what’s so great about a guy named Jack Karde. Sounds like a lawyer or something.” Raven said.

“Sounds to me bro that you can’t figure out a lot of shit, let’s get out of here and get on the road. It’s gonna take several hours to get to Colorado then however long to find the tribes.” Pheonix replied.

At that they left the small motel room and headed for their black 1999 Ford E350 van. Raven had equipped it with everything but a kitchen sink, not only was it armored, but it had guns mounted in hidden compartments that could be fired from the drivers seat. Inside the back was one bunk, a small TV/VCR combo, and a small dresser. Hidden compartments in the wall and floor paneling hid a good size arsenal. They had everything they needed for demon hunting and more. Not only were they good at their job, but they loved it as well.

 

Almost from the day of their birth, Raven and Pheonix were destined to be demonhunters. Although they specialized in seeking out and destroying the truly evil denizens of the planes, they weren’t above slaying lesser evil creatures as well. As far as they cared, evil was evil, and slaying anything that was evil was just “All Good!” quoted from the twins.

Raven and Pheonix Hunter (actual last name) were born in the city of Pensacola Florida. At the tender age of four they witnessed their parent’s brutal murder. On a stormy night, as the toddlers played in front of the family TV, their parents sitting on the sofa, the electricity went out. The children ran to their parents, not out of fear really. (That was the one extraordinary thing Mr. and Mrs. Hunter realized about their twins, they in all honesty had no fear. Things that should scare children at any young age such as boogiemen, and witches, and such, they had no fear. When the twins were caught watching a very grisly and scary horror movie, the Hunters thought they would have a night full of nightmares on their hands, but they didn’t. In fact the children slept as peacefully as if they had been sung to sleep by an Angel.) They ran to their parents, well, because they knew. The twins knew what horrible fate was about to fall upon their parents.

As the twins were being cradled, the front bay windows of their home shattered. At first Mr. Hunter thought that a tree branch or some other debris hit the window. He put Pheonix down and went to inspect the window and damages. But before he got ten feet from his family, the most horrific creature stepped into view. It stood at least eight to ten feet tall; its skin was as black as pitch. Horns protruded from its head, and great fangs from its mouth. Claws as long as large daggers extended from massive hands, the claws on its feet were just as long and deadly. Its wingspan was enormous, from the center of the room the tips of its wings pushed into the walls of the twenty foot room. But above all that and its taut, muscular body, the thing that terrified Mr. and Mrs. Hunter the most. Was its eyes. Sinister, malevolent, callous, malicious, and burning with desire.

The Hunters began to shake in fear, although they weren’t exactly religious people, they did believe in a God and they sure as hell knew a demon when they saw one. Mr. Hunter started to turn and run towards his family but before he even took a step towards them, he was ripped in half by one slash of the demon’s claws. Mrs. Hunter screamed at the top of her lungs, the demon laughed, its laugh was nothing more than pure evil, and evil like this world could have, or really should have never seen. Mrs. Hunter grabbed her children and made for the back door, but with her arms full, couldn’t unlock the door and escape in time.  That’s when she felt the hot air of breath behind her.

At that moment, her hair went as white as the driven snow. She closed her eyes in fear; her breath became ragged in her chest. She opened her eyes back up and saw the demon’s reflection on the window of the door. She realized then that no matter what happened to her, she had to do something to protect her twins. A calm fell over her and she gently set her children down. Calmly she unlocked the back door and opened it, letting the twins out into the night. Never once did she shake in fear, and never once did she turn around, that was until her babies and escaped, then she turned and faced the demon.

In a voice that was to terrible to fully comprehend, the demon started mocking her. Sadistically it began imitating her voice and actions. If it were a child it would have been annoying, but watching this thing mock her was just horrendous. She screamed at the top of her lungs again, but this time it wasn’t from fright, no this time it was mother against demon. She knew she would die, but she was going to die trying to give her children more time to get away. Plus she was just tired of letting this thing intimidate her.

 

 

She grabbed a cleaver out of a wooden knife holder and chopped at the demon. Her blow landed on his right forearm, lopping off the great clawed hand. Both mother and demon paused at what had just transpired. The demon laughed again, and Mrs. Hunter attacked again. Unfortunately her reaction was no where near as fast as the demon’s, and in a few seconds the demon had reached with his other clawed hand and ripped into Mrs. Hunter’s chest cavity. Once again they stood there in silence, just watching one another. Then a cruel smile played across the demon’s features. He then began to slowly rip out her insides, being careful not to remove anything to vital to soon. Within a matter of minutes, Mrs. Hunter was dead.

Even though they were only just four years old, Raven and Pheonix both knew what was going on exactly. Though neither of them showed any fear, and afraid they were not, they both knew that there was just nothing they could do, they were just too small. Raven and Pheonix ran until they found a sewer grate, when they did they slipped into the sewer unseen in the night. For the next few days the kids survived as only they knew how, eating and drinking contaminated food and water. Then on a bright and sunny day one afternoon in a park they saw a man dressed in all black. He was looking at them with knowing eyes, gentle eyes that spoke volumes. The twins ran up to him and looked back. In those few moments, everything was understood. He would care for them, teach them, and love them, until they could care for and teach themselves. He would always love them.

The next ten years of their life was spent in vigorous training and exercises, learning from books and from life. By the time they were fourteen, they knew of and how to kill, almost any kind of demon that existed. The man in black taught them almost everything he knew about demonology.

During those ten years though they were also trained to fight what they came across. Raven and Pheonix were trained with so many different weapons, being specialists with them all, that even a trained Special Forces agent would blush. In those ten years they rarely had time to themselves. They trained and learned, about their profession, and at their fifteenth birthday, they were considered masters of the trade.

At fifteen the man in black cut them loose from his care. He gave them money, weapons, magic items, and whatever other gear they needed, but they could never come seeking the man in black’s help. He knew that they were to well trained, and he also knew that even though he loved them and worried about them, if he was always helping them they would never be truly independent. If worse came to worse though, he knew he’d be the first person to help them. At that, he gave them a black van, and set them free. Their only mission in life: find anything that was truly evil, and eradicate it. Protect those who needed protecting, and above all, self preservation.

The first year they were on their own went horrible. Although they were never seriously injured, they never actually accomplished anything either. Their enemies always won or got away, the people they were protecting ended up dead, or they were always fighting amongst themselves. After the first year, with their funds depleted, weapons and supplies low, they returned to the man in black. At first he turned them away, but his love for them could not display such cruelty towards them. He knew that through all they knew, they were still children.

Raven and Pheonix asked for advice, explained their failures, and gave a general report on the year’s events. The man in black listened with much patience, and realized a few things they were doing wrong. The main thing that was wrong he sadly knew was his fault. Even though he had trained them together, he had never trained them to work together. Even in the field they were still trying to fight the way they were taught, against odds much greater than they. The man in black realized that he needed to teach them how to work as a team and not as individuals.

The man in black took them in once again and began to exhaustively teach them how to use their talents together, just how to make themselves into a well oiled machine. Raven was an electrical and mechanical expert, if it was made by man, be could fix it, rig it, or destroy it. Pheonix was a information and software specialist, no secret anywhere was safe against her, no computer could be protected enough when she wanted in. in the course of two years, the man in black showed them against real enemies, in real scenarios, on the field of battle, and in the streets of cities how to be a team.

After the two year crash training course was done, he had two of the most dangerous beings ever to fight evil that he had seen in a long time. Raven was cocky, smart-assed, and full of megalomania, he was confident in his abilities with no doubt in his mind. Pheonix was confident in her abilities as well, plus she had no doubts as well. But her personality was much more reserved, she was cautious, serious, and calculated. Where her brother would run off into the unknown on a moments notice, she would measure the consequences of her actions. Where her brother was reckless, she was vigilant. But because they had completely different personalities, they worked perfect together.

The man in black, proud with his children’s progress, once again sent them out. This time he knew they would not come back defeated, he knew that from here on they would be nothing but victorious.  The twins knew that as well, they knew that the man in black had fixed their problem. They never returned to him for help again, only for friendly visits now and again.

 

After a week of festivities the entire nation was tired. Elves never had short rituals, and having a party for the new Lord of the Elven Nation was nothing different. Jack sat on the bed in his room pondering everything that had happened to him thus far. In a relatively short time, a lot had happened. So much in fact that it seemed that one couldn’t even catch his breath without something or another happening. He was just grateful for the slow week of partying, compared to the chaos that had been going on; a week of constant parties was a relaxing vacation.

Although that didn’t mean that Jack wasn’t without worry the whole week, in fact he was more troubled than he let on. Ever since that encounter in Cerubus’ tower, Jack hadn’t been feeling right. He knew he chosen to walk the Dark Path, knew that it might change him, but it was for the good of everyone that he chose that path. ‘To know your enemy is to think like him, well what if you actually could become your enemy?’ Jack thought to himself.

  But still he was worried, pain kept shooting through his body, he could feel his heart skipping beats, his skin was becoming cold and clammy, and he noticed that even though he had an appetite from hell, he was loosing weight dramatically. Even his strength seemed to be fading as well as his energy; he was making up excuses now as to why he couldn’t stay at the parties. Jack tried to convince himself at first that it was just a flu or it was in his mind. But he knew that the power of the Shroud was taking him over. He just wished he knew a way to slow down its effects.

As Jack was sitting there pondering his dilemma the door to his bedchamber burst in. Jack quickly jumped up and grabbed his gun. He might feel like he’s dying, might even be dying just to be an animated corpse, but he wasn’t going to roll over and let someone kill him. Then he heard a voice he knew only far to well.

“Jack, are you alright? Tarian and I have been knocking on your door for almost ten minutes now. Then we heard some strange sound, like a groan I guess. We thought you might be in trouble.” Maeve said.

“I’m ok, stressed out maybe, but ok. I was just thinking back to everything that has happened to this point. Everything from meeting Alisa in the night club in New York to the Gabriel’s inauguration, I can hardly believe that over ten years have gone by. I know they say that the older you get, the faster time goes by, but this is fucking ridiculous.” Jack stated.

“Well in all fairness Jack, you were dead for five years.” Tarian snickered

Maeve and Jack gave Tarian a disapproving look to which he could only shrug. Jack knew that he had to get it together, there was too much that needed to be done still, and the impending battles would not wait on him. He stood up and shook off the weariness and fatigue, he cracked his neck and back and looked at his two friends and simply asked, “So, what’s up?”

“Lord Moonfrost wants all of us “Good Guys” to meet in his study. He wants to discuss our plans on finding the Scepter of Kings. It’s been a few weeks since our meeting with Aed, and he as well as others believe that we need to get moving on our mission.” Tarian informed.

Jack nodded his understanding and told them to go ahead; he’d catch up in a few minutes. He had some things to do first. As Tarian and Maeve left, Jack sat down on the bed again; he really wasn’t feeling well at all. He knew he had to pull himself together, but just wasn’t sure how. He ran through his mind for a spell that would restore him, many came to mind that would require the Fabric of Life, but since he was in all actuality a Death Child, he knew he was screwed.

Then for the first time since he had chosen to walk the Dark Path, Jack, for shits and giggles or more really out of desperation decided to try a Fabric of Life spell. He knew it wouldn’t work simply because Tarian’s sword, Aymeribol caused intense pain and the priests could do nothing for him as well. So Jack, knowing nothing would happen tried anyway. He thought of a simple restoration spell and tried to cast it. And as expected, nothing happened.

Jack hung his head in despair, how he wondered, was he going to defeat the Dark Forces when he couldn’t even really get up off the bed. But in his despair he didn’t feel the slight tingling throughout his body. It was only when it started to grow stronger that he noticed it. He felt better, and looking to the mirror across the room from him, he looked somewhat better! At that Jack decided to cast a much more powerful restoration spell.

To Jack’s ultimate surprise it worked! He felt invincible! In fact he had the energy of his early teens, and looked as if he was no more than eighteen himself. As Jack jumped up and down and shouted out his excitement, guards came rushing in to see what all the noise was about. Even though Jack looked years younger and in better health, they knew it was Captain Karde, and they to cheered. Shortly the guards left and Jack was once again alone. Then a thought came to him, if he was able to cast spells using the Fabric of Life again, could he still use the Death Shroud for the same purpose? To Jack’s best recollection no one had ever been able to do it, but then again, had anyone ever even tried? Jack started to cast spells from both the Fabric of Life and the Death Shroud, small spells at first, and they all succeeded.

 

 

Then he began to cast larger spells, and his final spell that he cast using the Shroud was the Death Child’s teleport spell. Jack disappeared in a cloud of black ash. He knew that his target location was not really a place to teleport to using that particular spell, but he had a knack for dramatic entrances. At his target location, Jack appeared in another cloud of black ash, standing in front of Lord Moonfrost.

Everyone in the room jumped out of their seats, a few out of their skins as Liam and Maeve both shifted into lupus form. The only person in the room who didn’t even seem to notice was Lord Arden, who only sat back puffing on his pipe drinking from one of his tea cups. Lord Moonfrost standing was shaking a finger at Jack and was apparently at a loss for words. He like everyone else assembled here looked scared, startled, or surprised. Jack smiled slightly to himself, ‘Damn I can be such an asshole sometimes.’ He thought.

As Jack watched everyone start to calm down, all looks at him disapproving (except Lord Arden who happened to look up, see Jack, and nod his approval.) he decided to blurt out his new found power. “I can use both!” he shouted in almost hysterics, “I was feeling like shit, and thought I was actually dying when out of desperation I decided to try and cast a Fabric of Life spell. The fucking thing worked! Look at me, I look healthier, and younger!” and to prove he wasn’t lying or just crazed he began casting small spells that were easily recognized as Fabric of Life or Death Shroud. Everyone in the room was utterly amazed, even Lord Arden raised an eyebrow to this display of power.

Everyone began to question how it could be done, that it was impossible. The volume in the room began to increase as everyone assembled talked at once, everyone shouting over everyone else to be heard. Then the room went deathly quiet and Lord Arden stood and walked to the center of the room to where Jack stood. Everyone tried to speak, but none had a voice. Then Lord Arden spoke.

“Now that all of you are quiet, maybe I can get a few words in; you see I haven’t the kind of voice to shout over everyone else.” With that he dropped his spell, no one spoke a word. “Now I have known for quite sometime now, as have all of you, that Jack is a very special boy. When he became a master of the Fabric of Life in but a few short years, I wasn’t surprised. When I learned that he turned to walk the Dark Path, I wasn’t surprised. I knew that Jack had a good reason for it, and knew that he’d never actually betray us. But to say I’m not surprised by this new development would be a lie. No one in the recorded history of the Magblo has ever walked both sides. Jack my boy, I knew you were quite special, but even I must admit to being baffled at this new development. I don’t know what to say.”

“Neither do I but it’s just something else I’ll have to get used to. Besides, you can all rest better now knowing I’m not solely a Death Child. Then again, I’m not solely a Fabric follower either, I was a Wildrunner, the Wild Card Path was just right for me, but now it seems I can do it all. In a way this is really cool!” Jack said.

At that Lord Moonfrost spoke telling everyone to take a seat and that the meeting was about to begin. He spoke about the responsibilities they all had in the war, about how time was growing short on finding the Scepter of Kings. For over an hour he spoke, saying the same things, just putting it in different ways. Jack and most everyone else there seemed to notice how drastically Gabriel changed. If it wasn’t for appearance, no one would have even recognized the man sitting on the throne. Jack wished that the old Gabe he knew was in there, somewhere, but he knew that being Lord of a nation would change anyone, whether they liked it or not.

Jack sighed inwardly; this was definitely one of the most boring things he had ever attended. Without thought and without realizing it, Jack took out his gun and began to spin it like an old west gun fighter. But it was alright, no one else seemed to notice either, that was until it went off, then everyone jumped. People began to shout, yell, and scream, the tension was so thick that the slightest noise would have set everyone off. Jack just wished that he wasn’t the guy to have started all the commotion. Then after ten minutes of yelling and screaming Jack stood up, walked slowly to the middle of the room, and fired three shoots in the air. When the room was quiet he spoke.

“Look, I’m sorry I have to be the guy to tell you this Gabe, but get on with it! You keep rehashing the same shit over and over again in different ways. I mean what the fuck Gabe? How many different ways can you tell us to go find the damn scepter?  Shut up already and we can go find it!” Jack shouted.

At that sudden out burst, Lord Moonfrost stood, there was fire in his eyes, and Jack noticed a silent rage behind them. Jack knew he showed disrespect to the Lord of the nation, but hell, what was Gabe gonna do, execute him? Doubtful, considering if it wasn’t for him, Gabe would still be stuck in the Land of the Dead. Lord Moonfrost took a deep breath and spoke.

“If you were any other man Jack, I’d have killed you for your insolence. Considering all you have done for me, the nation, and the realms, it will be over looked. I as your friend and as a man who has been in battle with you can understand your out burst. But do not let it happen again. You will show respect for the title I bear if nothing else. Is that clear Captain Karde?” Lord Moonfrost said.

 

 

“Yeah Gabe that’s cool…”

“Lord Moonfrost”

“Ok, Lord Moonfrost, that’s cool and all but still, get on with it. I mean we know we have to find the scepter, vanquish our foes, and all that. But I’m sure Lord Arden isn’t sitting in attendance here to listen to you babble on. There are obviously other matters to discuss; all I’m saying is, let’s move on. If I’m losing interest, I’m sure others are. So what else is on the agenda?” Jack stated.

“Shadowolf has informed me that he has two demonhunters that he would like to elect to help fight for the cause. They are young, but far from experienced. Raven and Pheonix are considered masters in their trade. From what I understand, Shadowolf trained them himself.” Lord Arden said.

At the mention of Shadowolf training two kids to fight demons, Jack, Tarian, Maeve, Samandra, and Gabriel were all dumb struck. The thought of an ancient god training someone to fight anything was just an act to be in awe of. The five of them looked at one another as the impact of Arden’s words sunk in. Then Maeve spoke up saying that she’d heard about the demonhunters before. She began to tell everyone what she knew about them.

“I know that for two people barely in their twenties they are relentless and quite deadly at their trade, Raven takes his job lightly and has a sick sense of humor about it all while his twin sister Pheonix takes it very seriously. Where Raven is impulsive, Pheonix is cautious.”

Everyone nodded their understanding and Liam added more about them. He stated that he had fought with the twins once a few years back, in Chicago there had been a demon terrorizing the citizens. As luck would have it, Raven and Pheonix showed up. At first he was pissed because they took over the battle, but within a few minutes of watching them work, he realized that they were much more efficient than he thought. The battle only lasted but a few moments and the battle was over. Liam said that he was rather impressed with their fighting prowess. Then he was even more impressed with their partying skills.

“So then when do we get these guys on our team? Sounds to me that we should put a rush delivery on them and get them here ASAP.” Jack asked.

 “Well lad ye see, the twins they be headin o’er to Colorada ta meet wit the tribes. That’s were Shadowolf will meet ‘em. Then I guess after that they’d be headin this way.” Liam answered.     

“That’ll take to much time. Why don’t we just go to Colorado ourselves and meet them there? What better way to meet new battle partners than at a kick ass party? I heard you werewolves can throw one hell of a shindig.” Jack put in.

The room started talking at once, and after a few minutes they all agreed that it seemed that the Elven Nation was safe for now, and even if something happened, they had more warriors now than they knew what to do with. So it was decided that Jack, Tarian, Maeve, and Liam would head to Earth and meet the twins in Colorado at the tribe’s Jamboree.

Within an hour the meeting was adjourned, an hour after that, the group was on their way towards Colorado, to the great Rocky Mountains.

 

Raven looked around him; all he could see was mountains.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” he asked.

“Yeah, this is exactly where Shadowolf said to meet him, look at the map.” Pheonix stated.

The van was parked on the side of the road and the twins were standing in a field where wild-flowers grew in abundance. If they weren’t in such a rush, they would have realized the beauty of their surroundings. Beautiful mountain backdrop, a large crystal clear lake in front of them, a large field with multi-colored wildflowers, and a big bright blue sky with soft white clouds. But in their haste, they didn’t register any of it.

After waiting for over two hours, the twins were growing quite restless. Though their personalities differed in many ways, the one thing they shared was impatience. They both hated waiting above all else. They’d rather be in a situation where death was almost guaranteed than having to wait. To the twins, hell was waiting in a small room with nothing in it, listening to disco music. To them, nothing was worse.

Then right before they were about to give up and find the tribes themselves, Shadowolf appeared.

“Well where the hell have you been? We’ve been waiting for almost two fucking hours.” Said Raven

“Yeah, and I have to piss. Can’t really hide to take a piss around here.” Pheonix said.

“Sorry, but I was slightly delayed. I had a few things to do before I met with you and I sort of lost track of time. I’ve been informed that Mr. Karde and a few of his companions are going to meet us with the tribes. So the two of you will get to meet him sooner than I thought.” Shadowolf stated.

“Good, but do you think you can tell us something about him? So far we know jack about Jack. What’s he like, you know stuff like that.” Pheonix asked.

 

 

“Sure, let’s just get in the van and on our way first. Then while Raven is driving I’ll tell you about Jack.” Shadowolf promised.

At that the trio got into the van and headed down the road. Shadowolf told the twins about Jack starting from when he came to be in Lord Arden’s castle. He told them about all of Jack’s conquests and experiences. About his personality, his potential, and flaws. By the time Shadowolf was done, Raven and Pheonix felt as if they knew Mr. Thomas Jack Karde for years. They thought it was cool that although they lived about four to five hundred miles away, Jack and they were both from Florida.

 

Jack stood looking around, sure he’d been around Maeve and Liam, but all of a sudden he felt quite small knowing that all the people around him were werewolves. He knew he was powerful, he knew he could hold his own, but he also knew that if just a few of these puppies on steroids decided to play he’d be in a lot of trouble. He decided it was a really good thing that he was on their good side.

The leaders of the six tribes sat in attendance along with Shadowolf, the twins, Jack and his group. At first all was deathly serious, all bore grim expressions and all were ready to jump at the opportunity for combat. Stress levels were high and although everyone was on the same side, a good fight amongst themselves wouldn’t hurt either. Just when you could have cut the tension in the room with an axe, Jack, drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola, let out an enormous belch.

That single handedly broke the tension and had everyone laughing. Bulvai of the Demonhunter tribe grunted his agreement; Kai of the Bloodstone tribe raised an axe in salute. Jack at first blushed, but soon hardily took credit, realizing that maybe he saved this meeting from attacking each other just by a single burp. Then he to started to laugh.

After everything had settled down, and the grim expressions were replaced with slight smiles, Silver of the Starhorn tribe stood to give the history of the tribes and the passage of the werewolf. The two verbal rites have been used to start meetings amongst the tribes ever since the tribes held their first meeting. The history of the tribes is about how the tribes came to be, who the original leaders of the tribes were, and why Mother Earth demanded their existence. The passage of the werewolf was about their role in the world, what their mission is, and is set in a poem format, it’s usually sung.

After the rituals were done, the group sat around in silence. Although their wasn’t any tension, no one knew exactly were to start. For what seemed like hours Jack sat there twirling his now empty coke bottle. Then after enough was enough, he stood up and walked away. Everyone gave him strange looks, as if he had pissed in the Holy Water. When he came back he spoke to the assembly.

“Alright, I know I’m bored to death here, and by looking around at everyone else’s face, I know I’m not the only one. As far as I know we’re just here to meet Raven and Pheonix and be gone. Well I met them, so there’s only one thing to do now, PARTY! I heard you werewolf people know how to throw one hell of a party.” Jack commented.

“Well Mr. Karde,” Shadowolf said “There are a few other things we need to discuss. After the jamboree we need to put the four of you to a test, Maeve being included. We’ll find a demon, and not an easy one to defeat, and see how the four of you do. I’ll make an assessment of your battle and determine where your strong points lay and where your weak points lay. Then it’s time for training. The four of you most likely won’t be in perfect sync with one another right away.”

“It took Raven and I two years to get to that kind of fighting level and we’re twins who were trained for ten years together. How the hell are we gonna become a perfectly synced fighting team. We and the galaxies don’t have that much time.” Pheonix asked.

“Ordinarily I wouldn’t go to such extremes to train anyone. But I know a way to get done what’s needed and still have time for you four to still fight in the war. Trust me Pheonix; everything will get done in time.” Shadowolf replied 

After a few more minutes of deliberating the process and talking about future events and roles, Kaden of the Steelaxe tribe stood and declared it was time to party. For hours the party rolled on, Jack and the twins tried like hell to compete in the drinking games, but there was no way they could beat a full grown werewolf. As dawn started to rise, werewolf, human, and elf passed out together, Shadowolf woke up Jack, Maeve, Tarian, and the twins.

“What time is it?” Raven asked through bleary eyes.

“It’s almost five in the morning. We need to get moving if we’re to start your training. But right now we need to get the four of you sobered up.” Shadowolf replied.

At that Maeve looked at the other three; they looked as if they’d been to Hell and back, blood shot eyes, hair all tousled, and a slight drool from lack of muscle coordination. Maeve grinned and shifted into lupus form, held it for a few moments, then went back into her human form.

“Damn, I feel better already! What’s taking you guys so long?” Maeve teased.

 

 

“Ha fucking ha, sadly we can’t do that, jackass.” Pheonix said.

“No, but I can do this for us.” Jack said as he began casting a spell. With in a few moments, Jack, Tarian, and the twins looked and felt better. The side effects of all night drinking were gone.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I feel great! Jack, what’d you do?” Asked Tarian.

“Nothing a little magic couldn’t cure. Lately I’ve just started making up spells. I’ll think of what I want the outcome to be, and usually it’ll happen. The harder the spell, the harder the concentration. Far as I know, there’s no spell recorded to get rid of a werewolf mead hangover. But that was easy, doing things like this require a bit more thought.” Jack answered, and at that he took the form of a werewolf in full lupus form.

All eyes were on Jack as he stood there with his hands on his hips. Even though he was in lupus form everyone could tell he was smiling, even though it looked more like a wicked snarl. After a few moments of gloating, Jack dropped the spell and continued speaking. “I may have looked like a werewolf, but of course I don’t have any of the abilities they have. I can cast a few more spells to compliment the form like extra strength, better dexterity, and a greater fortitude, but I’d never be able to use their powers as efficiently as they do.”

“Well with all that said and done, we need to be on our way. I’m sorry General Tymerian, but this is where you must go. This next part is for Jack, Maeve, Raven, and Pheonix, even though you will end up fighting along side them, the four of them together must learn to be in perfect harmony with one another while in combat. I know you’ll understand, if I thought you wouldn’t, or weren’t capable I’d never of left Aymeribol in your hands. So when you are ready General, I’ll send you back to the Elven Nation.” Shadowolf stated.

After a few minutes of saying good-bye, Tarian stepped through a portal that Shadowolf created. At that Shadowolf cast a spell and a swirling black vortex appeared in front of the four, Shadowolf gestured them in, when no one stepped in, he walked in first. Jack looked at the others and shrugged then he to stepped in. The other three followed in suite.

Looking around it seemed to Jack and the others that they were inside a large black bubble, with a mysterious light source. Shadowolf smiled and explained that this is where they would train after the dual with the demon. At that he waved his hand and the black bubble changed, weapons of all sorts aligned the walls. Shadowolf looked at the four and told them to choose their poisons. After a few minutes, they were ready for just about anything.

Jack equipped himself with a Japanese katana that looked as if it was hundreds of years old, but just as strong and sharp as the first day it was crafted. Jack knew by just looking at her, she was a masterpiece, the smith’s greatest work. Jack also dropped his Kimber pistol and picked up a new one, a SOCOM MK-23 handgun. The MK-23 was a .45 caliber pistol used by Special Forces around the world for its durability, reliability and the extra “goodies” it had. After casting a few spells on the MK-23 Jack no longer worried about ammunition. He didn’t bother to cast a silence spell on it considering it already had a damn good sound suppressor already.

Maeve picked up a battle axe that fitted onto her back and grabbed Jack’s Kimber. Then to no one’s surprise she grabbed an M60. As the small woman hefted the large weapon she looked around at her companions who were smiling. She only mumbled something about lupus form and went to stand over by Shadowolf.

Raven went over and looked at the melee weapons, finding nothing that really fit him he simply grabbed a punch dagger. But when he looked at the “newer” modern weapons, his eyes lit up, he then asked Shadowolf if he had a large duffle bag. He proceeded to fill the bag with all sorts of in cinerary devices including C4, dynamite, sticky bombs, grenades, and other such explosives. Then he casually grabbed an MP5 SD 9mm and a Benelli M4 Super 90 shotgun.

Pheonix grabbed a rapier and attached it to her left hip. She then went over to the gun racks and picked up a Sig Sauer P226 9mm handgun and a HK PSG 1, 7.62mm sniper rifle. After setting the weapons to her body she looked and felt quite confident. Slowly, as visions of blasting demons went through her mind, a smile emerged on her face. All looking realized it was quite wicked, quite scary, and quite serious.

 “Well now children, since you all have your weapons and supplies, I think we’re ready to go take down that demon. It’s a good thing that I happen to know exactly where a demon is, so if you all are ready, I think it’s time to go hunting, or killing really considering we’re not going to have to hunt anything.” Shadowolf ranted.

At that, once again, Shadowolf cast a spell and a large swirling vortex appeared. Jack looked inside it and recognized the terrain on the other side. His face lit up in excitement and he quickly jumped through. The others being a bit puzzled at Jack’s excitement followed as well. On the other side, in a booming and noisy city, Jack raised his arms towards the heavens and took a deep breath.

“I LOVE NEW YORK!” he shouted.

 

But as Jack looked along the skyline he realized that something was missing. At first he couldn’t put his finger on it, but then he realized what it was that was missing exactly, the Twin Towers. The World Trade Center was gone. Jack looked at Shadowolf; panic was in Jack’s eyes. Shadowolf carefully explained what happened on September 11, 2001, telling him about the terrorists and about the Pentagon as well. By the time Shadowolf finished, and the other three were done interrupting with their own variations, Jack was enraged. He swore that when the Dark Forces were defeated, if bin Laden was still alive, Jack himself was going to catch him and bring him to America for justice. He wouldn’t take him to any jail or military branch; he’d bring him to where the towers stood, chain him to a wall, and let the citizens of the Big Apple have at him. But Jack knew for now, it would have to wait, there were actually worse things than bin Laden out there and tonight they were roaming around his beloved city.

 

Tarian paced around his quarters in the palace, wondering what to do next. Even though he’d only been transported back to the Elven Nation a few hours ago, he was indeed bored. He tried not to think about being brushed off by Shadowolf, tried not to think about how he wasn’t wanted there with Jack and Maeve. When he did think about it, he felt strong surges of anger, maybe even hatred. Tarian knew he must find other ways to keep himself occupied, try to find away that he himself could help fight the Dark Forces that were rising. Though Tarian didn’t know it, the knock on the door to his chambers would be the beginning of “something to do.”

Tarian went and opened the door, a small messenger boy stood in the hallway drenched in sweat, trembling. Tarian gave the boy a strange quizzical look and then nodded for the boy to speak. The boy only reached into a pouch and withdrew a scrolled up piece of parchment and thrust it forward into Tarian’s hand. Tarian examined the wax seal and noted it was from General Alosha. Tarian, confused, once again nodded to the boy, this time in dismissal and took the scroll into his chambers and locked the door.

After breaking the wax seal, unrolling the scroll, and reading through it, Tarian dropped the scroll in stunned silence, watching the parchment re-roll itself. He wanted something to do, he wanted action, and it seemed as if his wishes were to be granted. Quickly he grabbed the scroll, got up, and ran out of his chamber door, but not before crashing into the locked door, hands fumbling to unlock it.

 

Gabriel sat on his throne while the members of his advisory stood yelling back and forth at one another. About the time Tarian received his scroll, Lord Moonfrost received a copy as well. Samandra stood behind the throne, calmly running her fingers through her hair with one hand, lightly rubbing her husband’s neck with the other. Just then Tarian burst through the doors, scroll in hand. Tarian noticed the look on everyone’s face, then he realized that they already knew the same knowledge as he.

“So what are we going to do about this? We have at our disposal more elven warriors than we’ve ever had in the history of our beloved nation. I know to Daganion that we’re not going to just sit here and do nothing. So why are you even arguing about this?” Tarian questioned.

“It’s not that easy General Tymerian, not that long ago you know I would have been just as spirited as you Tarian, to go off and destroy our enemy. But these creatures are much more powerful than anything we’ve ever fought and so far they haven’t attacked yet. Now I do agree that they will, but we must build up defenses first. General Alosha will be here soon to give us a first hand look at the situation. He’s bringing a sorceress with him so she can cast spells to illustrate his words. Remember Tarian my old friend, even though I may dress and act as the Lord of this nation, inside my chest beats the heart of a warrior. It’s the same heart that’s saved your ass on a few occasions.” Lord Moonfrost concluded with a smirk.

At that Tarian took a seat and listened to the advisors ramble on about policies, tactics, laws, and such. Tarian knew that when it came to books, the advisor’s mastery and powers were unrivaled, but as far as life went and a pending war swinging over their head like a pendulum, their mastery and powers were going to be useless. It was the Generals and warriors on the field that would make or break this war. At that Tarian stood, the look on his face was grave, he wasn’t at all pleased with what he was about to do, but he knew it was for a good cause.

“Lord Moonfrost, I think it’s time to break out the war council, these men here are book wise and are unrivaled throughout our land but the time has come now when their usefulness is no longer needed. We have a pending war, and as our first defense we must call the war council together to discuss other defenses so that we may construct them.” Tarian stated.

The advisors to Lord Moonfrost stood in stunned silence, for the first time Gabriel noted and smirked at their speechlessness. For a few short seconds the advisors stared at Tarian as if he had something horrific about him, then they exploded into speech. Some were yelling at each other while a few were almost begging Lord Moonfrost to reconsider such a rash decision, even though one had not been made. Gabriel looked at Tarian and frowned, Tarian responded only by lifting one eyebrow and the corner of his mouth in a smile.

 

As the advisors were yelling, begging, and pleading, General Alosha and Malindria walked in. Tarian jumped to his feet to salute the general, as did Gabriel, out of habit. Then all at once, all twelve of the advisors called out, “A lord does not salute a general, a general salutes the lord!” Gabriel sat back down as a reddish hue came over his face, General Alosha smiled slightly.

General Alosha stood before Lord Moonfrost and bowed deeply in respect, even though the general had trained this boy and was at one time his superior officer, he was now the lord of the nation. General Alosha had no qualms about showing Gabriel respect because all in all, he respected the man before him greatly. Plus the general was pleased that a warrior sat on the throne once again, a man that knew war was always to be avoided unless no other choice was given. General Alosha knew that Lord Moonfrost was just such a man, and the general bowed again, even more deeply this time.

“Everyone quiet and be seated,” Lord Moonfrost said, then continued “the general has something to say and I believe we all need to hear it.”

“Thank you my lord, as you are all quite aware by now, there are forces just outside of our borders that are quite menacing and look to be quite hostile. Though they have not made any threatening move towards us, it appears as if they are preparing for a war.” At that, Malindria cast an illusion on a table that showed the forest, the border, and the creatures. When eyes rested on the creatures, almost everyone gasped. There were several different kinds, they all looked as if they were black twisted werewolves or other lycanthrope          type creatures. There were bears, great cats, hogs, snakes, rats, and many others. Some were in their normal form being human, dwarf, elf, orc, giant, and others while most were in their lupus type form, black and twisted. Menacing and hostile weren’t words strong enough to describe these creatures.

General Alosha continued, “As you can see, thanks to Malindria, the creatures look as if they are building weapons and machines. They have not tried to hide themselves from us, but they also have not attacked a single scout yet. Our scouts do say though, that this is not the only area in which these creatures have been spotted. A few scouts have claimed that they’ve seen a large cave, just north of here, from were these creatures venture out from. It is in my greatest opinion that the creatures have an underground network from which they have started to wage a war on us. They have built all they could underground and are now building weapons above ground that would not have fit in their caves. It is my expert opinion that we prepare for war, and do it fast. My lord, we have no exact numbers on them, but there appears to be thousands if not hundreds of thousands of them.”

Lord Moonfrost sat in silence for a moment. He noticed the look of urgency, maybe even fear in the general’s eyes. As far back as he could remember, Gabriel never saw fear in Alosha’s eyes. General Alosha was afraid of nothing, but yet these creatures, obviously concocted by the Dark Forces, scared him, and that in turn scared the hell out of Gabriel. As the thought was pushed from his mind, Gabriel stood and ordered that the war council was to assemble in one hour in the war room.

Tarian smiled as he fondly remembered the last time he was in the war room. The elves were at war with the goblins once again, and a younger less experienced Jack Karde had entered the room along with himself and Samandra. Tarian chuckled to himself as he remembered Jack holding his gun out to keep the elves at bay, calling them all “Vulcan wanna be’s” and “pointed eared fucks.” Compared to this, the goblin war was a breeze. This was going to be something else, something that was nothing short of a maelstrom.

 

Lord Cerubus stood from off the floor, once again he had ingested his weekly dose of souls. He looked around and saw Adhimuktivasita standing before him. Cerubus snarled at her, he had ordered his guards to admit no one when he was taking in his “medication” but yet here she was, looking at him.

“What is it this time Vasita?” Cerubus hissed

“I’m just here to inform you of the events that have occurred as of late.” Vasita replied.

“If you are talking about the new lord of the Elven Nation, then I already know. I also know about the lycanthropes, preparing for war against the Elven Nation as well. Is there anything else?” he snapped

“Actually, yes. Shadowolf has introduced Mr. Karde to the Hunter twins, Raven and Pheonix. As we speak, they are training with Maeve Black of the Bloodstone tribe. In New York City on Earth they are hunting down demons. Shadowolf is trying to build an elite team to fight our side back. And from the look on your face, this is news to you.” Vasita smiled

“You know then, with Jack Karde away from that damn nation, it is now the perfect time to strike our death blow. I will call the assembly together in an emergency call, and we will order the attack on the Elven Nation.” Cerubus said, with a smile as well.

“No my lord, there is no time. Call upon your spy to order the attack, then tell the assembly.” She suggested.

At that Cerubus cast a summoning spell, and a few seconds later his spy had received his orders. The Elven Nation was to fall within a fortnight

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