Ava and Athanasios vow to find the missing wolves.
Previously: 21: The Hunt 20: Edge of New Home
Making The Promise
Ava struggles to keep her eyes open long enough to see the room. As soon as I lay her on the bed, her eyes close and she’s asleep. I have never seen her hold up two arena containments before, though she must’ve known what she was doing, from what Cora said; even subconsciously. As I watch, I can feel the magic of the land snake towards her like roots seeking out water. As soon as they find her, they begin nourishing her. Her aura slowly begins to change from dark red angry swirls to lighter ones. It’ll take a few hours but I don’t want to leave her, especially since I can no longer trust all the wolves in the mansion. With that in mind, I head out onto the sun terrace to recharge my own energy and talk with Aeolus.
‘Aeolus, what have you found?’
He huffs at my question. ‘Nothing too useful, yet. I am now not sure how many within our pack we can trust. It seems we are missing a good dozen or so men.’
‘Ava seems to have a way to find those that cannot be trusted. She is sleeping and recharging at the moment.’
‘I’m glad. And did you ever notice that we have a corridor that leads downwards?’
‘From the main entranceway? It’s been there the whole time.’
‘No one has seen it, until now. How can I have missed it? Though, none of us who are wolves can enter it but Cora can.’
‘Can she now? I wonder why? I never ventured down there.’ I pause, looking across at my sleeping wife. ‘Leaving Ava alone is not an option right now, I do not trust everyone here as a result of today.’
‘I’ll send Eleni to sit with her. This, I think you need to try and access.’
The Secret Area
Eleni acknowledges me with a slight nod as I leave, taking one last look at Ava, sleeping peacefully on our bed. With a sigh, I turn and stride to the main foyer, where I find Aeolus, waiting. Off to the left of the main hallway, is a corridor I’ve seen before but never explored.
“That,” he points “is new.”
“I’ve always seen it,” I admit and he rolls his eyes.
“Can you go through? Because the barrier won’t let us past,” he tells me. I walk through it with no issues, though I can feel it tingle on my skin. He tries and he is suspended mid-walk until he takes a step back. I motion for Cora to come to me and she does, without hindrance.
“Let’s find out what this area is for,” I begin, turning from Cora. I turn back when she does not follow me.
“I already know, alpha. I’m sorry. I’ve taken to hiding here when the she-wolves have been on one of their quests with me.”
I stand taller before I walk to this female shifter, towering over her. That she hides in this section of the pack mansion, because they cannot enter has Alexandros roaring in my head. It takes me a moment to calm him so I can ask; “What are you?” Like most people here, she smells of the sea, but with Cora, it’s stronger. It always has been.
The Witches Lair
“When Ava awakens, I will show you both: together. There is one area here I cannot get past,” she says as she moves past me and I turn to follow her. A few turns later, we’re standing outside a room with a tree embossed on the door. I try the handle, which will not turn. I see words written in runes, but I do not understand them.
“Witches runes,” Cora tells me. “Which is why Ava needs to visit this area.”
I nod in agreement but we explore the other rooms. Each one is empty, but the white walls and warm wooden floors leave lots of room for Ava to make it into whatever she needs. The rooms are as big as my own suite, so whomever the witch in residence was in the past, they were catered for.
Down To The Sea
By the door with the embossed tree, another creeks open as we walk past.
“The ocean,” Cora whispers to me after sniffing the air. A few steps later, my ears can hear the sound of the waves.
“How did you know?” I ask her.
She smiles. “It’s because of what I am,” she admits. The stairs are stone, carved from the rock the mansion is built upon. Like the tunnel back at Ava’s house, the sconces light up of their own accord, showing us the way.
“And you won’t tell us?” I gently question.
Cora is barely five foot in height, but she rounds on me quickly enough to set Alexandros into defence mode.
“I will. When Ava is down here with us. It was her I was sent to help protect,” she reveals as she shudders.
“You were sent? For her? But I did not know she was my mate until she projected into the meeting.”
Cora nods. “I did not know who she was; only that your true mate would come here and I was to help protect her. Those are my orders.”
“Orders from whom?” I demand, my heckles rising.
“My father. Please, I do not mean you or Ava any harm. When she awakes and has eaten, I will share all with you both. I promise.”
I nod, accepting her sincerity. After a brief moment, Cora turns and guides us down.
First Find Of The Missing
Cora stops short and gasps. “Corwin! Damyon! What…how?!” She exclaims and rushes to their side. They look at her and fight her off as she checks over our missing pack members. It takes too long before they recognise her. Damyon faints and Cora turns to me in alarm. “Alpha, they’re two of our missing pack. We need to work together to get them back.”
“How did they get down here? They cannot enter here the way we came. Aeolus proved that.”
“Thrown off,” Corwin mumbles, understanding my question. “We tried…climbed up…the barrier,” he utters. Cora catches him as he faints, laying him down gently. They’re both in a state, likely from a lack of food and fresh water. Shifters can survive several days longer than humans without either, but even they need water after a time. Stripping, I summon Alexandros forth. Carefully grabbing one in either claw, I take off and head out of the underground cavern and up to the balcony.
When I land, it is carefully with Aeolus, Ana and many others rushing to help Corwin and Damyon. Cora rushes out to greet me, handing me my clothes. I do not mention where the missing men were found. There is time for that in private council later. As I dress, Ana and the others take their brethren on stretchers to the medical wing and I pray we’re not too late.