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       Slumber, p.28

         Part #1 of The Fade series by Samantha Young
 
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  The last century had seen calm before the storm. The Midnight Coven had dissipated into a mist, a near invisible layer of destruction that touched those who did not seek it. We Daylights waited with bated breath, aware that our enemy had retired a fearsome aggressive strategy. The Dark Coven had become wary of the war spiling over into the world of the humans, and instead had embraced a far more threatening silence.

  But the attacks started.

  The subtle desolation of individual supernaturals: communities of vampyres, and packs of lykans; packs like mine, who wanted nothing to do with the war and had lived in relative peace until that point.

  Other than the faeries who share their beliefs, only the daemons, the beasts created from Midnights own magik, are alied with the Dark Coven. The Daylight Coven, with her alies of faeries, lykans and vampyres, could only hope to act fast enough to discover the target of the next Midnight attack in order to prepare the target for war.

  Some supernaturals escaped disaster.

  Others slipped through the cracks - targeted without warning, without preparation.

  That’s how the war stood.

  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Gaia, already grown weary of being caled down upon both sides of the war, had set her plan for its end in motion many generations before.

  My pack, Pack Errante - untouched by the war, unpoluted by the world – were puled into this chaos. My name is Lucien Líder. I am Alpha of Pack Errante and our story begins in 2010.

  There we were going about our business, living in the world of humans, keeping our secret. Little did we know that from the heart of us, would spring the culmination of al Gaia’s designs.

  1 - Hidden

  Caia recognised his ruddy face and chocolate eyes from long ago memories; memories that poked and prodded her heart and set it racing, her ears burning hot with the sudden onslaught of blood rushing to them.

  Life was going to be very different from now on.

  His dark eyes settled on her only companion these last ten years, Irini, and shifted from soft concern to steely determination.

  “It’s finaly safe for you to return her, Irini.” His gaze flickered back to Caia as if trying to gauge a reaction. He would get none.

  Irini sagged down into the sofa beside her as her wide eyes flew to his face. “Dimitri, please promise this is for real.” He smiled gently. “I know you have lived alone for a long time… but it’s finaly time to come home.”

  “What happened?” Irini breathed in disbelief.

  Dimitri managed to fold his huge, muscular body into the smal armchair before them. He looked to be somewhere in his forties but she knew he must be much older than that. He was an Elder after al.

  “Lucien returned five years later to reclaim the pack.”

  She looked to Irini and then to Dimitri. She had been seven when she was taken from the pack but she stil remembered Lucien, a young headstrong male, who had falen out with his family and ran from the pack at seventeen. A year later, Lucien’s father Albus, Pack Leader, had been kiled by The Hunter.

  Irini looked shocked at this news. “And the pack welcomed him with open arms?” She shook her head.

  “After Albus’ death, no one else tried to track The Hunter. Everyone was far too caught up in who was going to be Pack Leader, what with Lucien being AWOL.

  Whilst you were stuck in this goddess-forsaken place under Marion’s protection, we were trying to reassemble our lives. Then Lucien returned. He didn’t give us much of explanation…but he told us what he had been up to.” Dimitri’s eyes narrowed. “He kiled The Hunter, Irini.” His eyes went to Caia as did Irini’s. She was puzzled by their guarded looks. Shouldn’t they be happy? The Hunter had kiled her father and mother and had wanted to murder her as wel. If it hadn’t been for Irini taking her into isolation, The Hunter would have kiled her. As it was, Albus, a beloved leader, was gone because of his determination to see herself and Irini returned to the pack. After al, her father had been Albus’ greatest friend.

  “I suppose that gained him his rightful place then?” Irini sneered.

  Dimitri shook his head. “No. Magnus and I were wiling to see him take up the mantle of Pack Leader-”

  “How could you after-”

  His hand came up between them shushing her accusation. “Irini, he is extraordinary. Everything his father was and more. He just … needed time.”

  “Time?”

  “Time.” He sighed and then narrowed his eyes. “Of course there were others, some of the younger males who felt the need to chalenge him. We felt it only right that those who chalenged him were truly wiling to risk everything for the mantle …”

  “A Lunarmorte?” Irini breathed.

  He merely nodded.

  She looked between the two of them again. Irini was somewhat closemouthed about the pack and their way of life, but this she had mentioned. Lunarmorte was an ancient ritual amongst their specific lykan pack, dating back to their Portuguese origins. If there was a break in the hereditary line of the pack, or a rebel rising within it, it fel to a Lunarmorte to determine the Pack Leader. It was fought during a ful moon and only happened once in a blue one.

  “As you can imagine, in the end only one chalenged Lucien. Lucien kiled him within seconds.”

  “Who?”

  “Dermot.”

  Irini look unsurprised by this. “You sound admiring of Lucien. Am I to assume he has done wel as Pack Leader these last five years?” Dimitri stood, towering over them, stating his authority physicaly. “It was Lucien’s idea to keep you here protected; there are stil some Midnight folowers of The Hunter on the loose, and we had no way of knowing if they stil held plans for Caia.” He nodded towards her, using her name for the first time, and drawing her back into the reality of what he was saying. “Instead he wanted to wait until we had built a safe new life.”

  “And I’m guessing you have now that you’re here.”

  “Yes. Lucien has managed to integrate us into a good town. Al the families have good jobs. Lucien’s got this furniture business going …” He drifted off at the sour look that passed over Irini’s face.

  “We’ve been left here for ten years, Dimitri.”

  “I know.”

  Irini shook her head in anger. “No! You don’t know. I have been left here with Caia whilst my brother galivanted around goddess knows where - not alowed to come home for my father’s funeral, not alowed to even speak one word to my mother!”

  “Irini-”

  “And now my brother just expects me to come home. Like nothing happened? Like he didn’t abandon us? Goddess-”

  “Irini!” He growled, and Caia slid back in her seat. She had lived with Irini’s tantrums for ten years. Not entirely sure how to deal with the behaviour she had merely listened as Irini hissed and snarled about her predicament. Apparently Dimitri didn’t have the patience for it.

  Irini’s eyes had widened and she had shrunk closer to Caia.

  “You would not even be able to return if it wasn’t for Lucien. As soon as he learned of Albus’ death he hunted The Hunter and he won. He did not send for you immediately because he wanted to make sure you had somewhere safe to come home to. And now you have.”

  “And if we don’t want to?” She whispered, although Caia was sure she didn’t realy mean it.

  Dimitri glanced at Caia. “You must,” he said, throwing Irini a meaningful look. Irini now turned to her and reached for her hand. Clasping it she nodded in agreement.

  “Do we leave now?” Caia enquired.

  Dimitri looked at her, seeming startled. It was the first time she had spoken. “Yes,” he eventualy acknowledged. “Whilst you pack, I’l summon Marion so she can finaly drop the protection spel from these many years past

  2 - The Unknown

  They traveled by plane. Caia sat by Dimitri leaving Irini alone to her thoughts.

  “You’re apprehensive.” Dimitri smiled kindly down at her. She brushed her hair behind her ears so she could look up at him. Being so c
lose to him she could smel his own individual brand of beautiful damp earth that identified him as a lykan. It brought with it unprepared for memories. In truth, she sighed inwardly, she had been so long without the pack that if it hadn’t been for her weekly runs with Irini in her true form, she would have felt almost entirely human; a socialy deficient human, but one nonetheless. Looking into Dimitri’s eyes she saw blurry images of a life long gone, a life where she had felt a part of something. But it no longer existed, and now they just expected her to what... be one of them again? The pack didn’t know her anymore, and she didn’t know them.

  “Of course,” she muttered in reply to his question. “I’m the returning orphan who stole away a member of their pack.” He laughed. “Irini? She’l get over it.”

  “Realy? Because that’s what lykans do, they get over it?”

  “Wel.” He shrugged, his eyes twinkling. “True we’re a temperamental bunch, but Irini has never blamed you for what happened. No one has.” Right.

  “Good to know.” She turned away and gazed straight ahead with her jaw set in determination. Out of the corner of her eye she felt him nod in understanding. It was irritating - she wanted to hide where he couldn’t see through her false bravado.

  “Wel, as for having no immediate family that wil change. It’s only right you go back to staying with Irini and her mother Ela... and Lucien, of course.”

  “What about Uncle Magnus?” She tried to sound indifferent. Magnus was an Elder like Dimitri and Ela, and in truth, the lykan she remembered the most.

  “He’s there … waiting for you, too.”

  They’re all waiting for me, she sighed, trying to tamp down the butterflies in her stomach.

  “You’ve been living a civilised life with Irini in a big town much longer than the pack has. I’m sure you fit in at high school much better than any of the pack kids.” She turned towards him at that smiling wryly, shaking her head. “Uh wel … I wouldn’t say I exactly fit in.”

  “What would you say then?”

  “I ate lunch in my car.”

  “Oh.”

  ***

  The door was thrown open, his tal, gangly assistant almost faling into the room in his hurry to get to him.

  “The spel!” He heaved, as he lunged at him, out of breath.

  “You’ve been running?” He asked him incredulously, folowing the trail of sweat that trickled down his assistant’s forehead.

  He nodded, bending over, his hands braced on his knees as he tried to regain composure. “I … I … I stil … haaaa … haven’t … mastered the communication spel you taught me.” He gulped for air again, wheezing as he flopped down beside him.

  “Wel obviously you rushed with a purpose. Spit it out, Lars.”

  Lars turned to him now, his eyes bright with excitement. “The protection spel is down. She’s unprotected.” His eyes blazed with the news. “You’re certain?”

  “Positive. I’ve been on Marion duty for two years. Her protection spel on the girl has been dropped.” His smile of triumph was slow and predatory. “Do you know what this means?”

  “It’s time?”

  “Activate our agent.”

  ***

  “They’re on their way, Magnus.” Lucien sauntered into his sitting room. Magnus was sprawled across an armchair, whilst his mother Ela poured them al coffee.

  The Elder looked up at him and smiled brightly. “I get to see my Cy again.”

  “I forgot how fond you were of the little brat.”

  “You were too busy chasing skirts at the time to notice the little blonde kid who was constantly perched on his shoulder,” Ela pointed out wryly.

  “I remembered her,” his voice was low, tone a warning. Instantly a chil fel over the room.

  Ela stood slowly, her eyes narrowed on her son. “No one would dispute that you were very aware of Caia’s existence, Lucien. I meant only that you avoided her, so you knew nothing about her.”

  “She was a cute kid.” Magnus chuckled, straightening up beside Ela, his warm teasing bending the steel of tension emanating from Lucien. His huge hand came down on Ela’s shoulder. “Why don’t you brew more coffee?”

  Nodding stiffly she left the room, muttering under her breath about sensitive dogs.

  “You need to ease up, Lucien. Everyone is wel aware that you’ve fulfiled your responsibilities to this pack and that you intend to fulfil the one that’s on that plane.

  Defences down, please.”

  “Thought I was the Pack Leader?”

  Magnus laughed and cuffed him across the head, pushing him into a seat. “You’re stil a pup.” After Ela had returned with more coffee, and it was clear the tension had eased between son and mother, talk returned to pack business.

  “So when do they get here?” Magnus queried, his excitement evident. Lucien had been so wrapped up in dealing with what was to come from Caia’s return that he had forgotten about the one person who was actualy looking forward to it. The girl had never known anything but Albus and Ela, and in particular, Magnus.

  He didn’t want to burst Magnus’ bubble but they needed to get serious about the situation. “Magnus-”

  “Don’t start with that tone... this is a happy occasion. This is what your father fought for: the safe return of Rafe’s daughter.” Lucien sighed. “I know. And I am happy to finaly have that realised. Goddess knows for this reason only I wil have made the old man proud. But Magnus.” His hard silver eyes searched Magnus’ happy ones. “We have to deal with the pack.”

  Reluctantly, the Elder nodded in agreement. “Stupid, scared judgemental lykans.”

  “That may be, but they’re our lykans, and we’ve got to make sure the pack is happy.”

  Ela cleared her throat from the corner of the room. “I’ve already made sure most of the mated females are clear that they have to welcome Cy home. It’s the young I’m worried about. Most of them wil see her as an outsider anyway. They stil fear what they don’t know, and they fear possible war … and the fact that she’s more competition for our males …”

  Lucien smirked. “Yeah, I see where you’re going. Fine.” He heaved, slapping his knees in determination and standing to his feet. “We’l gather the whole pack here.

  It must be made perfectly clear to them that Caia is part of this pack’s future; that mention of the war is to be kept to minimum, absolutely nothing about her parents …

  and I want a ful pack welcome.”

  “Oh I dunno.” Magnus shook his head, his forehead wrinkled with anxiety. “Ful pack welcome? That could be a little overwhelming. Lucien, this girl has lived without a pack for ten years. Irini would only have been able to teach her so much.”

  “Irini wil have taught her wel,” Ela replied tersely, her look defying him to speak otherwise.

  The Elder looked between son and mother, their posture relaxed but their eyes determined.

  He knew when he was outvoted. “Pack welcome it is then.”

  3 - Home?

  “Have we got everything?”

  The noise was overwhelming. Why were there so many people going places, and did they have to be going there today? Someone bumped into her and nudged her into someone else. Was it warm here? Jeez, they realy needed more windows in this airport. She stopped herself from bracing her hands on her knees and tucking her head between her legs in an effort to breathe.

  “Caia?”

  They were here already. How did they get here so fast? She wasn’t ready yet.

  “Caia?”

  Pain flared up her arm and she looked down to see the cause of it. Dimitri was gripping her tightly by the elbow, so tightly he was close to cutting off her circulation.

  She gazed up at him stupidly, her eyes clearing at his worried expression.

  “You alright?”

  She needed to get herself together. Lykans didn’t act like this. They didn’t wimp out. Nodding, she puled from his grasp.

  “You got everything, then?” He repeated, looking a little annoyed now
. “We realy should get going.” Oh my.

  Those earlier butterflies suddenly burst into flames in her stomach, the metaphorical residue covering her lungs in an attempt to suffocate her.

  “I... uh... I just need to... use the bathroom.”

  “Fine. Hurry up.”

  She slammed the door of the women’s toilets behind her and stumbled over to the sinks, striving to get her breath back. If she wasn’t mistaken she was having a ful blown panic attack. Stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it, stop thinking about it. But the more she said that the more her head whirled.

  Caia suddenly stiled at the beginnings of a rumbling noise.

  Was that her heart?

  No, she shook her head, looking around as the rumbling increased in volume. Holy Artemis, Caia exhaled, stepping back as the entire length of sinks in front of her began to shake ferociously, the rumbling coming from the pipes. What the...

  Al the taps blasted open, and water streamed out into the sinks with the power of a fireman’s hose, the original rumbling now deafening. Ceramic cracked and fel away from the wals; water bilowed over the sinks and onto the tiled floor.

  “Caia?”

  She whipped her head towards the door where Irini stood, looking shocked. The water abruptly stopped.

  “What the Hades?” Irini indicated the watery mess in front of her.

  She gaped at her, and after a moment managed a reply, “I have no idea.”

  “Wel, come on, quickly, before you get the blame,” she snapped, grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her outside.

  “How could I get the blame?”

  “Just come on.”

  ***

  Her breathing had regulated once they had left the airport. However, now that the car had traveled directly through the large town, and then made a turn onto the highway, her breathing was feeling a little forced again. She was nearly at her new home. Caia could see why they had chosen the town. It was large enough to melt into but had enough rural area surrounding it to run free in. There were a few tracks dotted along the highway leading off onto what she thought must be homes.

 
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