Lord of the Wolves Chapter Twenty-Five

March 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Haventon Chronicles  |  3 Comments

Start | LoTW Chapter Twenty-Four?| Index | LoTW Chapter Twenty Six

 

A/N: Please check out my February Update post here.

Anna watched her aunt treat Stephen’s wounds with fascination. Lucy worked quickly and methodically starting with the largest wounds and even the most gaping gash ceased bleeding and seemed to melt and knit together in moments when she touched it. What Anna really wanted was time to talk to her and find out from her why she was siding with someone everyone said was evil, but somehow that seemed unlikely with everything that was happening.

That thought made her glance over at Maelin who was sitting by the still sleeping Abigail. He looked worried in spite of Lucy’s reassurances that she would be okay. His obvious concern seemed at odds with his callous reputation. It was a puzzle but one she would have to figure out later, she decided, looking back at her aunt.

Once all of Stephen’s injuries and minor scrapes were healed Lucy lifted one hand to the stump of his broken antler. After a moment she scowled.

“I can’t fix this, I’m afraid,” Lucy said. “At least not without several days work. We’d have to remove the remains and regrow it.”

Stephen just shrugged. “It’s no matter. It will only be few months before I shed and regrow them on my own. We have more important things to worry about than a broken antler. I take it you’re going to go after the Winter King from what you’ve told me.”

“That’s right,” Moira said. “Will you help us, huntsman?”

“Of course I will, but thank you for asking.” He smiled at her. “You would have been justified in compelling the hunt for this.”

“What sort of friend would I be if I did that to you, Stephen?”

Stephen just smiled again. “So what’s the plan?”

“We’re working on that. The Winter and Summer Palaces are at opposite sides of the town which means this is going to be interesting.” Moira unrolled the map of Haventon onto a large wooden table and stuck a yellow pin into it. “Summer Palace.”

“That’s the Summeroak retail park,” David said. “The name’s not a coincidence, is it?”

“No, it’s not,” Moira said. “It actually exists in the same space as Tescos just in the Mists.” She gave Lillian a sly look. “Gwen was most annoyed about that, you know?”

“Good,” Lillian said. “That was my intent. Making sure that the plans got through committee with Gwen fighting it tooth and nail was a pain. And making sure none of the curses she fired at the construction workers hit was worse. It was worth it though. I think everyone in the mists heard her screaming… especially when she realised someone had hidden a personal ward against her under the foundations and she can’t enter the great hall any more. She has to hold court in an antechamber.”

“Good grief, Br…Lillian, that’s petty,” Maelin said, he was laughing though. “Brilliant, but still petty.”

Lillian shrugged. “When you tend to lose most battles you take what victories you can. I just wish I could have arranged for it to be an Aldi. She’s such a snob that would really have annoyed her.”

“Okay, so the Summer Palace is Tescos.” David wasn’t sure how he kept a straight face at that. “So is the Winter Palace over the dry ski slope or something?”

Lillian snorted and shook her head. “No, it’s over the glasshouse in the park, actually.” She pointed to the map just as Moira stuck a blue pin on exactly that point on the map. “Gwen let that one pass for some reason.”

“Probably because Maddan always was fond of growing things,” Maelin said. “And even if he can’t leave the Mists he can still look through them and see them.”

“He actually can leave the Mists it would just kill him after only a few minutes,” Cheryl said. “Gwen watches him like a hawk because she knows he would do just that if he could. He’s tried more than once.”

Maelin flinched. “That would be a horrible way to die.”

“So is the way you were trying to do it,” Sabren said dryly.

“I know, but I didn’t have many options,” he said. “I have been trying to get in there to do it the other way.”

“Neither does Maddan, and honestly the condition he is in I suspect that what passes for his life is even worse.”

“True enough,” Maelin said.

“There’s a secret door that Gwen doesn’t know about in the glasshouse,” Cheryl said. “Maddan had one of his few true loyalists build it in the hopes that we’d be able to get him out but we’ve never managed to find opportunity to get him to it. Not for want of trying. That’s how we’ll be getting in. Moving through the sunlit world will be safer, but we’ll still need someone who can cloak us from prying eyes. Gwen’s guards do not ignore it after all.”

“Brenna can do that,” Tyler said. “I could do it better but Gwen would suspect something if I wasn’t either here or part of the attack on the Summer Palace.” He tilted his head. “Best here, I think… that will make her think we have something to protect here… something like David. Even so I only give it fifty-fifty on her falling for the bluff.” He looked at Cheryl. “I don’t suppose you know of any backdoors into the Summer Palace?”

Cheryl lifted her hands helplessly and shook her head. “Gwen most likely has one, she’s not the sort to leave herself without an escape route after all, but if she does she hasn’t shared it.”

“No, she wouldn’t,” Lillian said. “We’ll have to do this the old fashioned way, more’s the pity.” She stared at the map. “So now we just have to decide who is going where and also where we are going to hide that.” She pointed to the Summer blade which was lying on the table. “We have to make sure Gwen can’t reclaim it. She’s significantly weaker without her hallow. It’s not trying to return to her which is a good sign.”

“It helped me keep hold of it,” Abigail said weakly. Everyone looked around to see the girl awake and trying to sit up. Maelin stopped her with a gentle hand as Lucy and Daniel both hurried over to check on her. “I think she would have taken it from me if it hadn’t.”

“Yes, it wouldn’t like what she’s become,” Lillian said.

“She’s okay,” Lucy said after a moment. “You can let her sit up, but she still needs a few days of rest. Even with healing getting stabbed in the lung takes it out of you.”

“But I want to help!” Abigail protested. “I feel fine and I’ve been listening for a while. It sounds like it’s all hands on deck.”

“You’ve already helped,” Maelin said. “You need to rest up and regain your strength now. We have enough people to deal with the situation.”

Abigail pouted at him like a rebellious teenager but conceded the point with a nod. He chuckled and turned to Moira.

“Can I buy something for her to eat, please. She must be hungry after that.”

“Of course,” Moira said. “Let me get her a menu.”

“So I guess you really were a spy, Abigail,” Philip said. Though he was frowning at Maelin as if confused by something.

Abigail and Maelin glanced at each other.

“It’s a bit more complex than that,” Abigail said. “A lot of what I told you about my history is true and aren’t spies generally passing on information? That’s kind of the point of spying, after all, which I wasn’t.” She took the menu from Moira and began to flip through it.

“So what were you doing?” Philip asked.

“She was trying to find out why my mother wanted your pack dead,” Maelin said. “She’s been aiming hunters and worse at you for well over two decades, and I don’t think it’s just because of your links with Lillian.”

“And it started before David was born so it can’t be that,” Lucy said.

“Well, Gwen doesn’t like werewolves regardless of their politics,” Lillian said. “Probably because she is the only thing that Maelin and Cerian agree on.”

Maelin snorted. “True enough, she does hate werewolves, but she doesn’t usually expend so much effort on wiping them out, so I think it’s more than that as well.”

“She’s got a pet seer,” Cheryl said. “He isn’t really a very good one any more, rumour has it that she broke his mind centuries ago because he wouldn’t help her willingly, but he can identify people who are a risk to her plans. Once he does she removes them. Maybe it’s somethng to do with that?”

“Well that’s interesting,” Maelin said. “But it doesn’t tell us why they are a danger to her, and I still think that’s important.”

A wave of dizziness passed over Anna and she heard herself speaking even though she hadn’t been intending to. “We know something she doesn’t want us to. We don’t know we know it but we do.” She paused then added. “That was in English, right?”

“It was.” Philip pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Which means you are getting stronger. Something in the pack memory maybe? That’s the only thing I can think of.” He rubbed his forehead. “Do you have any clue what or when we found this thing out, Anna? We can’t search the whole thing. It’s too big.”

Anna concentrated for a moment before shaking her head. “I think I could chase it down if I knew how, but…”

“I could help you with that,” Lucy said. “And Karen could do even better.” She looked to where her sister’s ghost had been but she’d vanished again.

“She’s sleeping again,” Anna said. “She said she wanted to regain her energy before the battle. Is being a ghost tiring?”

“It can be,” Moira said. “Ghosts need sustenance just like anyone.” She tutted for a moment. “But can we get back to the battle planning? We need to be ready to move quickly.”

* * *

Laurel used the mirror she had swiped to peek around the corner. Two bored looking gargoyle type creatures were guarding a heavy wooden door that probably led to the dungeons. She needed to get past them to find whatever it was that had been calling her. She only considered for a moment before once more taking her mist form and sliding past them ?and under the door.

She had been right about this being the dungeons. The corridor was lined with cramped and dirty cells that stank so badly of urine and rotting straw that she was aware of it even in this form. Most of the cells were tenanted and she could hear soft sobs coming from just ahead. She slithered towards the sound and saw Jana kneeling by one of the cells, two little girls who looked human – though they were young enough that it didn’t mean anything – were kneeling on the other side of the bars. They both looked solemn and quiet unlike Jana who was clutching their hands and sobbing. They must be her daughters.

Laurel could have slid through the bars and carried them out of the cell, but she didn’t think she could maintain mist form long enough to carry them all the way past the guards to safety. So she slipped past them towards another heavy oak door at the end of the line of cells. This one was unguarded but heavily warded, though again with nothing that would stop a vampire. Laurel had the sense that she wouldn’t even have noticed it if it had. She slid under the door. Checked it was unguarded on this side as well before regaining her body with a relieved sigh and starting down the narrow spiral staircase slowly and cautiously. It was unlit but that was no problem for a vampire. Using the mirror and her ears to check for anyone ahead as she made her way down and down. How deep did this stairway go? She felt certain she was below ground already. Eventually the stairway reached an abrupt stop in front of another door even heavier and more ornate than the one above. Whatever was calling her was behind this she realised. Again it was warded but the wards felt strange. Michael had only taught her a little about warding so it took her a moment to realise that what she was feeling was a paired ward – an attempt to truely exclude everyone from the room though there was always a gap. It was some sort of magical law. She didn’t quite know how to parse what these wards were but it seemed that she fell into the gap.

Still she hesitated for a long moment. Whatever was on the other side of this was locked away for a reason, and while Gwen was an enemy that didn’t mean that what she had hidden was safe or good. And Laurel could sense it calling her, and that if she did this there would be no turning back.

Well it couldn’t be worse than having her soul ripped out, which seemed to be the alternative. She hesitated a moment longer and then slipped into her mist form again and slid under the final door.

Start | LoTW Chapter Twenty-Four?| Index | LoTW Chapter Twenty Six

3 Responses to “Lord of the Wolves Chapter Twenty-Five”

  1. torvawk says:

    Yikes, Becka!

    Rocking and rolling the plotlines right now. WOW. I take it either the winter crown? wants either out or to have its new owner.

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