Even in with the circumstances, Ebona was happy to get out of her resting form and stretch her legs in the Keefe house’s huge garden. Daniel had to admit he felt the same. He’d gotten used to a certain amount of solitude recently. Being tumbled back in with the rest of his family was getting wearing, and last time he’d tried to grab some alone time he’d been rudely interrupted by a fight and his maturity.
Of course he was likely to be interrupted this time, as well. Which reminded him that he was out here to do a job, not clear his head. He wove a shield to hide him and Ebona from prying minds before they headed towards the boundary fence to start their patrol.
It was a beautiful night. A half moon peeked out from behind one of the few clouds and the stars, away from the town’s lights, glittered brightly. It lifted his heart and eased some of the anxiety roiling in his gut both about Andrew and what was to come tonight.
He picked his way across a small stream that ran near the fence and began his circuit of the garden, extending his psychic senses and letting them merge with the darkness. Anything hiding in the shadows should be blatantly obvious to him, but beyond the normal nocturnal creatures he could feel nothing. Of course they might be able to conceal themselves the way he could.
He continued his scans as they walked under a gnarled old oak tree and then the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he felt something watching him from the branches of the tree. He looked up and scanned the tree frantically but sensed nothing except leaves and insects. Yet he could not shake the feeling that this nothing was watching him intently. He scowled at the tree some more then turned away, making as if to walk on before whipping around and throwing a stone at the area in the branches from where the sensation of being watched was strongest.
He was rewarded with a muffled yelp and smirked to himself as he drew his spear and advanced on the tree. Several branches cracked, then someone flew over him and Ebona and landed nearby, taking off at a run before he could get a clear look. He was about to give chase when he sensed the group of people just outside the fence; where he had sensed no actual bad intent from the mysterious watcher, he sensed plenty of murderous intent from them.
Cautiously he sent his mind spinning back to the house and located Sarah and his father finishing up their checking and reinforcement of the wards. He redoubled his concealment and shot what he was sensing at them both. In reply he received an equally short acknowledgement combined with instructions to stay hidden until they got there.
“Okay, where are they?” Matthias asked as he came up behind Daniel with the others.
“Just beyond the fence,” Daniel whispered. “They’re still chipping at the wards and I counted six of them.”
“Hmm, I sense six as well,” Matthias said. “I would have expected more… except-” He broke off and looked at Sarah. “What about Anthony?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve warned him and I’m fairly sure that Marian doesn’t know where he is. She’s very good at finding people but he’s even better at hiding. He’s been hiding from his own family for years. Compared to them, the Lavernes are child’s play. But you’re right, there should be more of them. I’m sure they’re out there.” She turned to Karen. “Could you break their concealment without them knowing, dear?”
“I think so,” Karen replied and sat down under the tree and closed her eyes. A faint light spun from her fingertips and shot through the wards, making them sparkle in the air momentarily like spider webs in the dawn.
Daniel gasped as seven more presences became obvious. From their lack of reaction it seemed Karen had succeeded and they didn’t know they were visible.
“Ah good,” Matthias said just as the interlopers pierced the wards. “Just in time I think. Lyr, would you carry our group over the fence.”
“Of course.” She slid into the form of a sinuous yellow dragon and they climbed aboard.
“So, what’s the plan?” Daniel asked.
“We let the advance group through and your group moves to intercept them. When the other seven move to attack, we slam the wards on them and my group take them out. And to be clear, leave Marian to Lyr and me.” Matthias looked towards the fence and frowned. “It’s rather simplistic. I hope it works.”
“It should,” Sarah said. “We’re stronger than them and we match them in numbers – I guess they forgot about our heart friends. They were relying on surprise and they don’t have that.”
Daniel was about to respond to that when a screaming sound cut through the air. “What?”
“It’s the alarm – they’re on their way through,” Sarah said. “We’d better move.”