Athanasios and Ava begin their journey to Greece. The best-laid plans of shifters and men…
For the second morning, I wake with Athanasios’ arms wrapped around me. It’s warm in our little cocoon, but today I know we have to leave. When we talked in the hot tub last night, Athanasios was keen to return, almost agitated when we spoke about his home. When I asked him why, he replied that he’s simply been away too long and I understood that. He asks again if I was sure that I am going with him, knowing how far away from home I was about to become. I smile and hug him.
“I need to be with you,” I tell him, sure of the words that vibrate in my soul. If I were a shifter, they’d be going mad inside me at the mere thought of not being with him. “It’s that simple,” I tell him. “I will need to do a handover to Aonghus,” I tell him as I pull away, looking at his eyes. Alexandros is close to the surface, the eyes are a giveaway.
“It’s a simple transfer of power from one set of Callaghan blades to another. It takes moments, but I cannot leave without doing it,” I confirm and I see Athanasios’ eyes take more control as Alexandros backs off. He must have some mind control, I can’t hear what’s going on in there.
“Don’t close me out,” I remind them both nervously via our new mental link. “It scares me when you do,” I tell them, “that you can!”
“Why would it scare you?” Alexandros asks, concerned.
Instead of words, I project all the turmoil I’m feeling at them both. “It does, I can’t explain why,” and then I’m held in a tight embrace as I begin to hear Dragon and Man converse.
Because of You
“We still stop blocking you, though it wasn’t intentional,” Alexandros tells me. “And we do need to increase your mental blocks,” he tells me.
“That would be good! But, first, let’s finish tidying up. I know you’re keen to begin the journey home,” I confirm.
“We are. We have been away for too long,” Athanasios confirms.
“I’m sorry,” I begin but he cuts me off.
“No, while I am still here because of you,” he pulls me to him, claiming my mouth as I hear him in my head, “You were worth the journey and every moment,” and I feel a rush of warmth, love, desire and trust come my way. Trust. That floors me.
We make quick work of the matrimony cabin, then we walk back to the Castle, hand in hand, both of us grinning, happy and together.
James is the first to greet us as we walk into the courtyard and with a whoop, we’re surrounded by other shifters. Some of Athanasios’ clan greet him, then me. The wolves are enthusiastic and don’t give us a moment’s peace, but I embrace it. It will be some time before I lay eyes on any of them here again, if I ever do.
“Sister!” Aonghus’ voice cuts through the babble and chatter, silencing everyone as his voice booms. The wolves part, making a corridor for him to reach me, then he does and I get a hug from my little brother.
“Are ye ready?” I ask him after we’ve embraced.
He nods and leans in. “I need to share something with you, afore yer journey” he glances at Athanasios and then James is dispersing the group, telling them to be at the arena in an hour. The last time I did this, I was just sixteen and on the receiving end of the Blades power. Today, I hand that over to my brother.
When the courtyard is clear, I give my brother a quizzical look.
“What has happened?” I ask. I’m picking up tension from him, but via Athanasios. This is a rather useful trick.
“Vicky,” he begins and I can feel my eyebrows rise. “She tried to go back to the family house,” he begins and I close my eyes as feelings of pain, shock and hatred contort through me. I loved our thatched family cottage.
“She didn’t think we’d put defensive spells on the property,” I state. Athanasios is at my back, holding me to him, giving me support as my body slowly absorbs the shocks from the defensive spells. Because they were placed by us all, the shockwaves would come through to us. Mine were delayed, I think in part, to my matrimonial seclusion.
“She didn’t,” Aonghus states. “Her family have claimed her body, apologised and cleared out her things,” he states. My father is free! I simply nod to my brother, but I can feel the rumble of pleasing results at this news and understanding.
Half an hour later, I’ve packed a rucksack with some simple things, enough to travel with. My aunt will pack my things and I’ll portal them to Greece once we’ve completed our journey. For now, I am dressed in soft travel leathers, my brother in harder battle leathers; he’s off on patrol with the Wolves when we’re done.
We stand face to face and recite the transfer spell. Our blades cross in the ceremony, as they’re supposed to. The power begins to transfer from one set of blades in the middle to the other set. Only, the power divides as we withdraw the blades from each other, blue for me, gold for Aonghus. Now we have two sets of charged Callaghan blades in existence; something I was told was not possible.
I look in surprise at Aunt Em, who is just as wide-eyed in surprise as I am. “The magic merged, then divided again,” I state and she nods, touching me on the arm.
“I’ve seen that afore, but only once. The blades’ power is clearly needed where yer going my dear,” my aunt tells me. “So do what you’ve done with it for the last six years; use it well,” she blesses me and I feel a calmness settle on me.
“That is not our doing, ómorfi,” Alexandros’ voice cuts through my mind. If the calmness isn’t coming from him, then where? I have no time to ponder as Athanasios’ wolves are eager to begin our journey.
The Journey Begins
In moments, I have the blades and backpack on my back, as do some wolves. Those not carrying the backpacks have shifted to their wolf form and await word from Athanasios. I bid my family farewell for now, promising to keep in touch; then as a pack, we turn and leave the Castle, heading out to the forest and the paths within that I know so well. My staff is handed to me by Aunt Em as I leave the Castle fortifications. With one last hug, I bid her farewell.
By nightfall, we are near Carlisle, heading towards Glastonbury, the southwest and the port on the South Coast to head to Greece. While Athanasios can fly across the water, the rest of us cannot and we need to travel by boat or aeroplane. Until then, we spend the night under the stars before we present ourselves to Shifter Border Control and transport away from England.