Lord of the Wolves Chapter Eighteen

January 14th, 2018  |  Published in Haventon Chronicles

Start | LoTW Chapter Seventeen| Index | LoTW Chapter Nineteen

Sabren looked much as Leisa remembered when they spotted her sitting in a quiet booth in one corner of Morna’s bar. She looked up and smiled at them when she spotted them arriving.

“Leisa!” she said as they approached. “The night’s are treating you well.” She turned and inclined her head to Michael. “Michael, honoured father of your line, it is a pleasure to meet you at last.”

“Thank you,” he said curtly.

“Yes, I guess you would be less than happy with me, and not without reason.” She smiled sadly and looked at Meredith. “And you must be even less happy with me, child. I am sorry about the boy.”

“Yes, I am.” Meredith put her hands on her hips and scowled at Sabren. “And the other two I hope.”

Sabren looked down. “Yes, them too, but mostly the kid. He was fighting so hard against her.”

“You should have let him come to me!” Meredith exploded. I could have helped. You know I could have helped.”

“My step-mother would never have allowed him to reach you, Meredith,” she said. “I had to make sure that he couldn’t be used any more before she sent him against someone he’d be more than trouble for.”

“And Laurel?” Michael asked. “Why–” He broke off as Leisa cleared her throat.

“Let’s deal with the formalities first. Given the situation we thought it wisest to come bearing a truce gift.” She placed the gift bag containing two bottles of bloodwine on the table.

“You always were polite, Leisa,” Sabren opened the bag and looked inside. “Is this from your cattle, Michael?”

“It is indeed,” he said. “And prepared to the highest alchemical standards.”

“A fine gift,” Sabren said. “You have my gratitude. Please sit, we need to talk about how best to protect your child from my brother.”

“It seems that you have a very dysfunctional family, Sabren,” Leisa said.

Sabren gave a bitter half-smile. “And I know it.”

“Why does Maelin want her dead?” Michael asked. “She doesn’t seem to have any history that would have attracted his attention.”

“I wish I knew,” Sabren said. “He has an obsession with hunting down and killing certain people, but I have never been able to discover why. Early on I tried asking but his answers made no sense because he would fly into a rage when he tried to explain. It more than anything is why I broke from him. His obsession that killing certain people with no connection to the Court of Seasons would harm his mother.”

“He thinks killing Laurel would harm Gwendolen?” Michael said. “Why?”

“As I said I do not know,” she said. “It sounds odd but I think dearest Moira knows more. She still speaks with him occasionally.”

“Moira?” Michael said incredulously. “Talks to Maelin? Why? I mean she’s so nice and he isn’t…”

“I think she knows something about what happened that I don’t and can’t talk about it for some reason,” Sabren said. “She’s advised me to leave it alone and keep my attention on Gwen more than once… of course that might be because she knows Gwendolen is responsible for what happened to us and thus for all vampires existing and that Maelin saved our lives that night.”

“What!” All three of them said simultaneously.

“You and Moira are the oldest of us but you never talk about which of you came first,” Leisa said.

“We don’t,” she agreed. “But I have a feeling it’s time that I did. It’s complicated but technically it was neither of us, or perhaps both. I was a Baobhan Sith so I was already dependent on blood before Moira but Moira was a draugr and thus undead before me.”

“Huh,” Michael said. “So you got mixed up somehow?”

Sabren nodded. “After she killed my father and mother Gwendolen handed me over to some human mages who were experimenting with hollowing.”

“Ugh!” Michael said. “She did that to her own step-daughter? Hollowers are enemies to all supernaturals including her. Why would she do that?”

“I wish I knew.” Sabren said. “They were experimenting with a new form of hollowing to siphon draugr immortality and mistwalker glamour into a single human. They had already begun draining our power when Maelin came smashing in to the circle in his wolf form. It made them lose control of the magic they were draining from us. It killed the target of their ritual, forced his co-conspirators to flee for their lives and blew Maelin across the circle before smashing back into the two of us only it was all mixed up and when we came around I was undead and Moira had lost her yen for flesh, replacing it with a taste for blood.”

Leisa sat there with her eyes wide. “Oh God!” she said finally. “That’s why all the draugr are ancient. When Moira was changed it corrupted the magic that made the draugr somehow so all new draugr were vampires.”

“That’s our surmise, yes,” Sorcha said. “We’re not sure why we can create more vampires though. Draugr aren’t contagious.”

“Hmm… that’s probably a side-effect of the hollower magic,” Michael said. “It’s intended to allow a human to steal your magic but when it got mixed in with your combined magic it metamorphosed into the ability to transform humans.” He paused and his eyes widened. “Damn! That’s why we’ve never been able to work out what Maelin did to himself. He didn’t actually do anything to himself.”

“Yes,” she said. “He already had the ability to weave glamour as many wolves with mistwalker blood do but the blast of intense glamour magic that hit him woke his mistwalker blood and made him a hybrid.” She hummed to herself. “I hate him for the things he has done since yet I still have mixed feelings even after all this time. We were close once.”

“Ever likely you do,” Meredith said. “He saved your life and he risked his own to do it. I don’t care how long it’s been that has to make an impression.”

“I suppose,” Sabren said. “But that’s why Moira speaks to Maelin. Gratitude, he freed her not only from her captors but from being chained to her tomb.”

“I can see that,” Michael said. “But we need to get back to Laurel. Will you release her?”

“I will if you, Leisa and the local pack will promise to guard her from Maelin.”

“Willingly!” he said.

“Good,” she said. “Then take me to her and I will release her.

“Thank you,” he said.

***

“Hello again, child,” Sabren said when Leisa led her into Laurel’s room.

Are you here to let me go? Laurel asked.

“I am,” she said. “Though you should probably stay inside until we are sure it’s safe.”

You think I’ll be attacked again? she asked.

“I fear so, yes,” Sabren said. “My brother doesn’t give up unfortunately. But hush, let me release you.” She laid a hand on Laurel’s forehead and the young vampire’s body jerked convulsively. After a moment she gave a gasp and sat bolt upright.

“Woah! That stung!” she exclaimed. “You could have warned me!”

“I’m sorry, child,” she said. “Do you feel better now?”

Laurel nodded. “Am I still hidden?”

“You are,” Sabren said.

“We need to move her somewhere,” Michael said. “We think Maelin may know she’s here.”

Sabren tilted her head at him.

“We had a werecat spying on us and we think it was as a favour to him,” he said.

“Hmm…” she said. “I would have thought he would have attacked by now. He doesn’t hold back about these people.”

“We think we have him in a quandry,” Liam said from the door.

Sabren turned and looked at him and then her eyes widened. “You’re the Night King! I am honoured to meet you, your majesty.”

“Call me Liam,” he said. “And I am surprised you recognised me in human form.”

“I have a lot of experience,” she said. “What quandry?”

“We have someone he wants alive,” Liam said. “Quite possibly as much as he wants young Laurel dead.”

“The girl who’s probably a spy?” she asked. “I doubt he’d care about that.”

“You know about Abigail?” Michael said.

“Is that her name?” Sabren said. “I know the local pack has a member who they think is a spy but not much about her.”

“Yeah that’s Abigail,” Liam said. “No not her. I think the best way to explain is to introduce you.” He stepped aside to reveal David standing behind him.

Sabren’s mouth dropped open and her eyes flew wide. She swore in a language that sounded a lot like the one Anna had used when she had a vision. “The winter warrior, or potentially so.” She bit and looked at the floor. “Yes, that would give him pause. He has my mother’s sword, you know.”

“Your mother?” David asked.

“She was the last Winter Warrior. Gwendolen killed her,” she said. “She’s chained every warrior since and killed any who she couldn’t keep suppressed. She’ll come after you.”

“She’s already sent the hunt after him,” Liam said. “Kate dealt with it.”

“I see,” she said. “The huntsman will not be happy with her, but she will come again and soon.” She gave a half smile. “You’re right this is a quandry for Maelin. He won’t want to risk attacking Laurel because he wants you safe at least as much. Gwendolen, however, will surely attack and soon.” She turned to Michael. “We must see to your defences. You need wards.”

“We do,” Liam agreed. “I’ll help you.”

“Thank you,” Michael said. “David, stay here with Laurel. It’s the most secure room in the house.”

“Of course,” David said. “If Maelin attacks I’ll keep myself between him and her as well.”

“Good,” Sabren said. “And later you and I are going to talk. I can help you get used to your needs.” She shook her head. “A male Baobhan… you are a rarity.”

“Thank you.” Michael left the room with Sabren and Liam.

***

David sat on the bed beside Laurel. “Hello again,” he said trying to keep his tone light. “I hope Sal doesn’t turn up to hijack our conversation again.”

Laurel chuckled and stretched. “I’m sure she’ll be up to see me presently. She’s a good friend. So I take it you are over being a vampire hunter?”

“As long as you don’t kill anyone,” he said. “And it would be a bit hypocritical since I’m a blood drinker too now.”

“I heard about that,” she said. “That must be a shock.” She stood and began pacing around the room, occasionally stopping and stretching. “It’s such a relief to be able to move again.”

“I would imagine,” he said. “But you should stay away from the window.”

Laurel, who had been heading towards the curtains, stopped short and nodded. “Yeah, I guess not. It’s just I’ve been stuck in bed for so long.” She shook her head. “But I guess I’m still stuck for now.”

“You are, but at least you can move now. That’s important.”

“It is,” she said. “But knowing some super-powerful monster is out to kill you is unnerving.”

“Tell me about it,” David said.

Laurel frowned at him then nodded. “Yes, that Gwendolen person is after you and the guy who wants me dead wants you alive because he hates her. That’s confusing.”

David snorted and laughed, after a moment she joined in. When they’d finished she walked over to the DVD player.

“Want to watch a DVD since we’re stuck here?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said.

“Do you like superheroes? Michael bought me the latest X-men movie earlier.”

“Whatever you want,” he said. “Superheroes are good.”

***

Abigail was sitting in the kitchen reading when they came downstairs. Sabren stopped when she saw her.

“So you’re the spy,” she said. “You’d better stay away from the child upstairs.”

Abigail looked up from her book and smiled. “Whatever you say, Lady Sabren.”

Sabren stalked up to her, claws sliding from her finger tips. “Do not mock me, girl. I have no patience for my brother’s servants.”

“No mockery, Lady Sabren.” Abigail met her eyes without any trace of fear. “I’m not going to hurt Laurel. I swear it by blood and moon.”

Sabren eyed the young woman for a moment longer, clearly suspicious, but then she shrugged. “See that you don’t, or I will kill you slowly.”

“You’d have to join the queue,” Abigail said. “Shouldn’t you be walking the perimeter and seeing to the wards.”

Sabren scowled at Abigail and headed for the door without another word. Once they were outside and the door was shut she turned to Michael and Liam. “That girl…” She trailed off and shook her head. “I don’t know if she is a spy but she’s certainly not one of my brother’s normal patsies.” She walked purposefully towards the farm yard boundary. “Now, we need to lay wards that will only block enemies so we can’t use the normal components as they will repel all mistwalkers and we don’t want that. That means we’re going to have to use glamour enhanced symbols.”

“It’s simple enough in principle,” Liam said. “It’s making the symbols that’s the hard bit.”

Michael nodded. “And ensuring the whole boundary is covered, I imagine?”

“That can be an issue but not so much,” Sabren said. “As long as the symbols are in range of each other they’ll entwine naturally. I’m more concerned about if we have time. I can’t imagine Gwendolen leaving this for long. She can’t afford him getting the sword.” She hesitated. “And I had better warn the young man… my mother placed a doom on the winter blade. If he accepts it he’ll be compelled to war against Gwendolen.”

“In which case Gwen is being bloody stupid,” Liam said. “She’s pushing him to war anyway so he’ll have no reason not to take it up. She should have tried to recruit him.”

“She should, but Gwendolen doesn’t think that way. She can’t imagine someone might give up power for friendship”

 

 

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