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Going Home – Chapter 39 – Hidden Monsters

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Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

King Veelka wasted no time diffusing the hostilities.  He sent out his populist to encourage the rebels to rejoin the pack and offer peace to the jackals for the former king’s egregious behavior, requesting audience with a constituent of their clan to further discuss their truce.  He and his new guards escorted Tomas, Jill and Layla to the holding cells to release the prisoners.

The door to the cells stood open.  The chains lay in a heap on the floor and one guard lay moaning just outside.

One of Veelka’s new guards moved forward, sword at the ready and ventured through the opening.  Soon they heard sounds of a struggle followed by the guard’s reappearance.  He stumbled out and fell hard against the floor battered and bruised.  He raised his eyes and addressed Tomas.

“Your mate is a dynamo and a very angry one.”

Tomas couldn’t help smiling.  He lay a consoling hand on the guard’s shoulder, shifted his appearance to human and ventured through.  After a short minute, he signaled the others to follow.  Jill entered first, eager to see her mother and check on Robbie.  What she encountered sent her into dry heaves.  A  guard she recognized from the hive room lay dead on the floor.   A frozen expression of agony twisted his features.  His skin looked burned and had turned a sickening shade of brownish green as if he’d been consumed by a thermonuclear blast.  Tom pulled Jill away from the gruesome discovery and shielded her from the sight.  Soon she felt her mother’s arms encircling her as well.  Jill tried to breathe but their seemed to be a deficit of oxygen in the air.

“Breathe, baby,” Rebecca said as she rubbed Jill’s back.

“Did the wasp poison do that to him?” Jill asked in a shaky voice.

“Yes, but Robbie’s ok, dear.”

“How?” Jill asked looking up.  Her mother led her to the back of the cell.  Robbie lay on a bed of hay with his mother by his side.  His complexion didn’t look as bad as the guard’s but she still saw the awful greenish hues on his skin.  Jill dropped down beside him and lay a hand on his brow but he didn’t stir.  Paloma gave her a weak smile.

“I’ve stopped the spread of the poison for now but in order to remove the rest from his body, he needs an infusion of a plant extract from our territory.  It’s a ephemeral flower that blooms late in the season.  I purged what I could but it continues to multiply and spread at an alarming rate.  I can keep him in stasis until I get him home.”

Jill continued to rub Robbie’s forehead and smooth the fur around his ears.  She thought a minute and looked up at Paloma, “You put the poison in that guard, didn’t you?”

Paloma’s face turned hard, “He deserved it!  Treating my Robbie like he was already dead, an expendable casualty of war!  He laughed at my son’s discomfort and told me to give up.”  Her face softened as she looked back at her son and tears welled in her eyes.

It didn’t take long for Saal to arrive at the castle.  He met briefly with the new King before he rushed to take Paloma and Robbie home.  He returned later for Tom, Rebecca and Jill.  He spoke as they followed him to a designated portal site.

“Robbie’s responding well to treatment.  His mother should have him back to normal in a few days.  He wants to visit when he’s well again.”

“He’s more than welcome,” Tomas said.

No one knew how Ulvarg had managed to open a portal to the human  realm.  It was an ability delegated to the Guardians.  Saal had proved himself worthy and received this rare gift.  It was a mystery that disturbed them all.

Tomas pulled his family close as they waited for the portal to appear, relieved to have them back and soon, safe in the human realm.  “We should celebrate tonight.  Our first night back home, what do you think?  Dinner out?” he asked.

“Yes!”  Jill said.  “I really want a big juicy burger!”

“I could use a Chardonnay,” Rebecca said.  “Maybe two.”

Tom laughed as Saal opened the portal to their home.

 

CCC#322

The New King – Chapter 38 – Hidden Monsters

Photo credit: Moha’ Al-Bastaki / Foter.com / CC BY-NC
 
 
 

They stood silently facing each other.  Layla showed no fear of the guard who stood before her, his sword drawn and gleaming by his side.  She inclined her head as an acknowledgement.  He did the same.  With exaggerated flourish, he pulled his sword high and saluted the princess.  Holding the sword across his palms, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head.

“My sword is yours now, Princess.”

“I have no need of your sword, Sir.  My father’s poisonous reign is over.  Our clan requires a new King.” 

She glanced around at the faces watching her.  She caught Jill’s eye and smiled.  Finally, Layla looked toward her uncle, who managed to wrap a cloth around his bleeding shoulder.  They exchanged a meaningful look before she turned back to the pack.    

“As heir to the throne I must confess that I cannot remain here.  It’s a complicated and weighty decision but I must leave this realm.   However, as my first and final official decree, I appoint Veelka as King.”

Jill watched as Veelka approached his niece.  He looked lousy after his battle with The Grey but moved with as much dignity as he could muster.  Jill watched the eyes of the other wolves around them and saw relief everywhere she looked.  As Veelka ascended to the throne, many of the guards helped to remove the dead bodies from the throne room before they could become bloated.  Others took positions beside Veelka as personal guards.

“It might be a little early to say but I think the war will be averted.  Veelka will have a lot to smooth out with the jackals but no one wants more bloodshed,” Tom whispered.

Jill gasped as she remembered something horrible.

“What’s wrong?”  Tom asked.

“Robbie!”

CCC#321

No More Fear – Chapter 37 – Hidden Monsters

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Photo credit: DennisHolzberg / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Tears streamed from her eyes and splashed on the cold stone floor.  Jill blinked hard to focus on her father’s face.  He stood mere yards away but he wouldn’t be able to stop the blade poised at her throat.

“Ulvarg, please!  I’m the one you want.”  Tom removed his fighting staff and slid it across the floor past his king.  He removed a long dagger and small knife and slid them across the floor as well.  “I’m unarmed, Ulvarg.  Please, take your vengeance out on me, not her.”

“My vengeance requires more than your life, Tomas.  I wanted you to suffer and know agony before your death.  You do not deserve the quick end of a slit throat.  I vowed if you returned, I would smash your will to live until you begged for death.  And even then, I would not bring your end until I grow tired of your screams.”

“Do with me as you will, my King, but I beg you to let her go.  She will never be a threat to you,” Tom said.  He moved closer, his palms out in a submissive manner.

“A war is brewing at my borders because of you, Tomas.  I have no time to punish you as you deserve.  But before I kill you, you will know agony and a grief so powerful, it will suffice.”

Jill watched her father’s face.  She saw hope withdraw from his eyes before he met her gaze.  He mouthed, “I love you” as if saying his goodbyes.  A weird sensation spread through her mind.  A need to protect rather than be protected.  Her heart no longer slammed against her chest like a base drum.  A calmness stilled it and she gave him a small smile.

The blade pressed hard against her skin before she felt the King stiffen.  His grip loosened on her hair and the sword fell from his hand, clanging against the floor.  Jill twisted away and looked back to see a long blade protruding from the King’s chest.  All semblance of sanity faded from his features.  They twisted into an ugly display and finally froze as his body pitched forward.  Jill scrambled away as the King fell unseeing to the ground.    She stared at the body like someone had pulled a cruel prank on them until she looked back and saw Layla standing behind where the King once stood.  Blood trickled from a small gash in her forehead and her hands shook slightly.  She seemed shocked at her own actions.

Tom pulled Jill from the ground and held her so tight it actually hurt but she would never complain.  It felt good.  Guards appeared as if waiting for the stand off to end and rushed into the throne room.  They filed in and stared dumbstruck at their dead King.  Tom pushed Jill and Layla behind him but Layla step out and stood to meet the guards.  Her face no longer registering confusion but confidence.

The closest guard pulled his sword from its sheath and Layla walked out to meet him.

 

CCC#320

Deadly Encounter – Chapter 36 – Hidden Monsters

“This should be interesting, young human,” Ulvarg whispered into Jill’s ear.  She could do nothing but watch the events unfold before her.

Veelka zeroed in on The Grey and Layla.  He said nothing but advanced upon them.  The Grey moved back, smiling as if reeling Veelka in like prey.  Layla continued to struggle for release.  She squirmed and kicked until she connected with a soft spot.  The Grey’s face contorted in rage.  He whirled and launched her into the wall near the throne.   She crumbled to the ground and didn’t move.

Veelka hesitated slightly, watching Layla’s still form before he turned back, shifted in an instant and dove into The Grey.  They fell together, teeth gnashing, claws scratching.  Jill pressed her palms to her ears to subdue the horrendous sounds.  She knew this would be a fight to the death.  Remembering her own attack, and The Grey’s vicious fangs piercing her skin, her heart sank as she watched.  The Grey shifted and quickly pinned Veelka against a far wall.  He bit hard into Veelka’s shoulder, ripping fur and flesh with his canines.

Veelka snapped his jaws, keeping The Grey from his neck.  Their growls and snarls echoed through the high halls of the throne room.  No one else moved as they watched the fierce battle.  The Grey threw a smug look Jill’s way, his teeth gleaming and dripping of warm blood, a look of triumph in his wicked eyes before he snarled and dipped his head for a fatal strike.

Veelka pushed off from the wall just as The Grey moved to bite.  It was just enough to send The Grey forward and off balance.  He slid over Veelka, who scrambled to gain his footing first.  Not missing a beat, Veelka sank his fangs into The Grey’s flanks, jerking his head quickly and snapping bones.  The Grey through his head up and howled in agony.  Spinning around, Veelka’s teeth found purchase in The Grey’s exposed neck.  His bite snapped hard and crushed bones, severed tendons and tore through veins.  Blood erupted from the wound coating both of them but Veelka didn’t let go.  He shook his head and ground his teeth until all life drained from The Grey’s eyes.

Jill felt the King shake with rage as his grip tighten.  He shoved her down to her knees and wrenched her head back.  His blade rose to her exposed neck.

 

CCC#319

Show Down – Chapter 35 – Hidden Monsters

It had been a simple plan designed to save lives and stop the impending war.  Jill hadn’t thought it reckless at the time but now, they were in serious trouble.

She and Layla stood before the Wolf King, his features a mixture of hatred and satisfaction. 
“We found them in the swarm room releasing the wasps,” The Grey said.
“And where is the young jackal?” Ulvarg asked.
“He received fatal injuries from the swarm.  I sent him to the cells so his mother could watch him die,” The Grey said.
“A fitting death indeed,” Ulvarg said.  “And you bring me a traitor, Grey.  One that has been hidden from me, my own daughter.”  He turned to Layla and frowned.  “This will be the last time you bring shame to your family, Laylianna.”
“My King, let me deal with her.  Once mated, I will make sure dramatic improvements are made to her loyalty.  That is, if I have your blessing.”  The Grey ran a heavy hand down the back of Layla’s neck, wrenching her head back by the hair.
“Then she is yours, Grey.  Perhaps she will show a higher regard for your authority.”
The Grey smiled and jerked Layla toward the door.  She fought him and clamped her teeth down on his hand.  The Grey howled in pain before he back handed her.  She fell to the polished stone floor, her bleeding lip making a slick spot where she fell.  The Grey snatched her up ready to inflict more blows.  He demonstrated a real passion for causing pain.
“Father!  You can’t do this to me!” Layla cried.
Jill fought also.  She needed to get free.  She needed to help her friend.  She kicked hard at the guard behind her and slammed her head back connecting with his nose.  He flinched and she broke free but Ulvarg grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her back.  He pulled a sword from the guard’s sheath and held it to her neck.  Jill froze.  They needed a miracle and fast.
The door to the King’s throne room opened and everyone stopped.  Veelka came through, his eyes like stone and behind him stood Tomas.

Forgotten Chapter – Chapter 32.5 – Hidden Monsters

This lost chapter was written after chapter 32 but I forgot to post it.  Silly Me!

Hope you enjoy it!

Tom’s anger boiled just below the surface. He knelt on the padded floor, his head bent low as he listened. He bore ugly marks on his wrists and ankles where shackles wore at his skin from his constant struggles for freedom. Other metal cuffs encased his waist and neck making it impossible for him to shift out of his confinement. He let loose a feral growl when he heard someone enter the tent where he’d been imprisoned.

He counted two sets of footsteps entering the tent and an additional three just outside. The chains at his waist and neck rattled then released. Tom remained still and waited. He felt the chains give on his ankles and then finally the ones on his wrists fell away. Thoughts of Jill’s capture ran through his mind. Why would they free him now? The only answer his brain conjured froze him in place and cold despair snaked over him like frosty fingers. He swallowed the urge to scream but he had to know.

“Why have you released me?” Tom asked. He slowly unsheathed a blade ready to attack. “Tell me my child lives or I will spare no one from tasting my blade.”

“She lives, Tomas,” Saal said.

“I’m here, Dad,” Jill said.

Tom’s heart flipped in his chest. He whirled to see her standing just inside the tent, her eyes wide and full of tears. His own friends had kept him from pursuing her and he’d cursed them everyday. Seeing her now, he still wasn’t sure if he would forgive them. But his anger took a back seat to her standing before him. He dropped his dagger and rushed to hold her. The desolation of his heart evaporated as he held onto her as tight as he dared and kissed her temple. Remembering the bloody evidence of her capture, he pulled back and examined her closely, blood stains caked on her torn clothing, and puncture wounds still healing. Guilt stabbed at his chest, mocking his bold and arrogant declaration that he could protect her. Evidence of his grand failure stood before him.

“I’m so sorry, baby. I’ll get you out of here right now! I’ll get Vrag to take you home and keep you there until this is over. I’ll hire an army to protect you. No one will harm you again, I swear it!”

“No, Dad. I can’t leave now,” Jill said. She motioned for the others to enter the tent. Tom recognized Layla and Veelka immediately.

“My father has amassed a powerful weapon and is holding it in the east tower. We heard it when we escaped through the secret tunnels. If he unleashes it, you and your army will die with little effort on his part,” Layla said.

“What does he have?” Tom asked.

“The largest swarm I’ve ever heard,” Layla said.

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King Ulvarg stormed into the holding cell that held his two remaining prisoners. Without warning he back handed Rebecca across the face sending her to the ground. He raised is hand next to Paloma but paused, remember her status.

“Who helped the young ones escape!” he roared at them. He saw a hint of relief in Rebecca’s eyes and moved to strike her again. Paloma blocked him and glared.

“We don’t know, Ulvarg and we certainly would not tell you. Leave us if you value what short life you have left.”

Ulvarg backed away from the women and left the cell. He turned back just as the door clanged shut.

“Your clan may fight with my enemies but they will die with them as well. If my demands aren’t meant in three days time, I will demonstrate my power on you and the human. Either way, I will have my revenge.”