“Good, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me.”
Sally came up next Decebel with Costin beside her.
“Alpha, there is dark magic at work. I can feel it like oil over my skin,” Sally told him.
“Peri, Elle,” Decebel called back to the Fae as he stopped.
“You feeling it?” Peri asked Decebel. He nodded.
“Before you ask, Elle and I have been using a cloaking magic, but whatever it is tailing us, it’s powerful.”
Decebel’s eyebrows rose at that concession. If the magic they were dealing with here – with no witch present – was stronger than two Fae, then they were in trouble.
Jen took Decebel’s hand and looked up into his grim face.
“I don’t like standing still, Dec. Something is telling me we shouldn’t stand still.”
Sally nodded in agreement. They broke off into pairs and filed in a line as they continued on. The day seemed to grow darker much sooner than it should and the temperature dropped.
Sally’s teeth soon began to chatter. She had her arms crossed with her hands tucked in her arm pits, trying to keep warm.
“Dec, we have to stop,” Cynthia called out to him. It was getting colder and even though moving was keeping their blood circulating, she was thinking about Jen.
“Let’s get a fire going. Whatever magic is at work here, they're dead set against us going any farther,” Peri spoke up above the wind that had begun to whip around them.
They worked quickly, getting the camp set up and a fire going within minutes. Peri and Elle used their magic for the fire because a natural one wouldn’t stay lit. They all huddled around it, the shadows around them seeming sinister as the wind howled through the trees. All of nature seemed to be working against them.
Suddenly, lightning flashed and thunder rolled across the sky. They felt the ground beneath them shake. Peri stood and held her hands out, her eyes closed. Elle did the same, so Sally stood, not really sure what she was supposed to do, but feeling that she should be standing as well.
Peri and Elle chanted. The wind whipped through their hair, the thunder crashed around them, and the lightning pulsed into the ground, lighting their features in an eerie matter.
Peri’s arms snapped down and her eyes opened. She looked grimly at Decebel.
“I’m not strong enough. I need the stones.”
“Where are they?” he snarled.
“I guess it’s not time,” Peri told him sternly, not backing down.
“What do you mean it’s 'not time'? When is it time? Once we’re all fried from lightning?”
Jen grabbed Decebel’s hand and reached up, turning his face to hers.
“Peri is not the enemy,” she told him firmly.
Decebel closed his eyes and reined his wolf in. Once he opened them he looked at Peri and inclined his head.
“My apologies, Fae.”
“Not necessary,” Peri told him. “The shit has hit the fan and we are all little testy.”
“Took the words right out of my mouth, Peri Fairy,” Jen grumbled.
Sally snorted and looked over at her best friend. Jen winked, trying to reassure her that everything with her was okay, even though it was as far from okay as one could get.
Peri glared at Jen. “That one was free, Jen. The next comes out of your hide.”
Jen grinned, her first real grin all day. “Aw, Peri, if you want to touch my hide all you have to do is ask. Well, that, and pay a small admissions fee.”
The others laughed and were briefly distracted from the havoc going on around them.
Decebel pressed his lips to the top of Jen's head, glad to see a glimpse of his mate.
Peri turned back to the Alpha after giving Jen a pointed look, who simply shrugged in return.
“The stones come and go at their own will, Alpha. I do not control them. No one does.”
Everyone looked at Decebel, waiting for his orders. He looked at each of them, feeling the weight of their safety – it was heavy.
“We will stay here and hold out through the night.”
Once again they huddled around the fire. No one slept.
They were still huddled around the fire when dawn finally broke. Almost as if a switch had been flipped, the wind stopped, along with the thunder and lightning.
Jen stood up, stretching, looking around, and surveying the damage. She let out a huff.
“That was fun.”
Decebel smacked her on the backside, causing Jen to growl.
“You have a strange idea of fun, mate,” he told her as he leaned down and kissed her gently. Jen took the kiss and allowed herself this moment. The pain hadn't receded over what she was facing, but she had to find joy where she could. Decebel brought her joy, and she was going to soak in every little bit of it.
He cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowed as he looked at her.
“You okay?” he murmured.
She smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “For now.”
Decebel decided that that would have to be enough until he could talk to her alone.
Hours later, Jen, trying to shake off the darkness, started singing “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson.
“Well, if we want to scare off the evil magic that is certainly an effective method.” Peri snorted.
“Laugh it up, Peri Fairy,” Jen hollered back. “One of these days my singing might just save your life.”
Before Peri could respond they heard a familiar voice.
“I hope you all weren’t trying to be stealthy because you suck at it.” Adam's voice carried over the foliage and finally he physically emerged.
He looked everyone over, showing obvious relief that everyone was here and unharmed. Then he smiled over at Elle, who was standing close to Sorin.
Elle nodded and blushed. Sorin wrapped an arm around her and kissed her gently on the forehead.
“Alright,” Adam’s voice drew everyone’s attention away from Sorin and his mate, “let’s join Vasile and get a plan in motion.”
“I’m going to say this one time and one time only, so you had better listen up. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. We got Jacque running off into ponds like a crazy ass lady, Fane thinking he’s Aqua Man, diving in after her and getting his ass captured by the wicked witch; we have freak lightning shows, thunder that shakes the ground, and wind strong enough to knock you over. And you know what’s really scary? It’s going to get worse before it gets better. The fan is broken from all the shit that has hit it. Yes, I have a potty mouth. I get to have one when the world as we know it is crumbling around us.” ~ Jen