Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(2) by Connie Suttle
"Quite fascinating," Wlodek murmured. "You're sure of what you heard?"
"I have an excellent memory, Honored One. Those words are verbatim."
"Why is he still so young?" Wlodek whispered. "We have so many uses for him."
"As you say, Honored One," Edmond said respectfully. "Casimir can make the turn immediately if you ask it. We will take the boy while he sleeps. According to the young werewolf, Ashe is quite exhausted after the episode in Canada."
"No doubt," Wlodek observed dryly. "Nevertheless, he is still underage and the risks of turning at this point are too great. Perhaps if we have need of him, we can use his father to bring him to us. If strong vampires supervise him, he should do as he is bid. Especially under compulsion."
"I imagine that Hancock and his sire might keep him in line."
"Just as I was thinking," Wlodek agreed. "But we are speaking in hypotheticals at the moment, are we not? Keep a watch on the boy. He will be more than useful to us in the future."
"We will do as you say, Honored One." Wlodek hung up first. Edmond hit the end call on his cell more slowly.
* * *
Ashe had used up what little energy he had to become mist and hover over Edmond's head. Mentally sighing, he misted back to his bedroom where an illusion of him lay as if sleeping on his cot. "Messed up, messed up, messed up," he pounded his pillow before flopping down on it with a frustrated sigh.
* * *
Rabis watched as the Queen paced. She muttered profanities under her breath as she trod the same ground repeatedly. Rabis wisely kept quiet. He knew, if she didn't, what might have happened had Parlethis taken the Dark King's crown and handed it to Friesianna. The two could never be used together. Never. But the Queen refused to heed the H'Morr's warnings and lusted after Baltis' crown anyway, just as Baltis coveted hers. Long ago, Rabis and his father, Saldis, had foreseen what might happen if both crowns were used together. It would be disastrous. Saldis had given his life for his son Rabis, so Friesianna would never know the true author of the H'Morr. Rabis kept his head bowed as if in deference to his Queen while she continued her rant. Parlethis, too, kept quiet. Rabis knew it was the only thing keeping Parlethis' head and body connected at the moment.
"Contact our spies," Friesianna snapped after stopping in mid-pace. "See if they have discovered Baltis' new hiding place."
"Yes, my Queen." Parlethis was happy to escape her presence intact.
* * *
Baltis was more than displeased and three of his captains lay dead at his feet. They'd ran like frightened hares when the ground began to shake. Baltis punished them as they deserved. His brother was dead. Baltis had no idea where the humans had taken his brother's body—Wildrif was still weeping over the ordeal at the lake and could tell him nothing. Laridael had brought the quarter-blood along, although he was also mourning his lost brother. Laridael's twin, Liridael, had died beside the Prince.
"Come, Laridael, we must plot revenge against the humans for our brothers' deaths," Baltis said. Laridael nodded and obediently followed his King through the sands toward the King's tent.
* * *
"Kid, you may have to slow down a little," Winkler grinned as Ashe finished off his second ham steak for breakfast.
"I'm good now," Ashe sighed, leaning back in his seat. The breakfast restaurant in Star Cove served up good, plain fare seven days a week. Ashe's cell rang as he watched Winkler finish a cup of coffee. "Sal, what is it?" Ashe said without looking at the phone before answering.
"Just wondering if you're coming to the service, dude," Sali replied.
"I'm coming," Ashe replied.
"We'll bring him," Trajan offered, knowing Sali would hear.
"Good. See you there," Sali said and hung up. Ashe's cell rang again before he could return it to his pocket.
"Randy?" Ashe said when he answered the call—again without looking.
"Ashe, are you available for dinner tonight? I'd like you to meet Sara." Ashe looked up at Winkler who nodded slightly.
"Yeah. What time?"
"Around seven?" Randy asked. "Her plane gets in at five, so that will give us enough time to check her into the hotel and meet somewhere. I'll let you know where, later."
"Sounds good," Ashe said and hung up. This time the cell did go into his pocket.
* * *
"Just wear something comfortable," Winkler said later. "No shorts," he called out as Ashe went to dress for Hayes' service. Winkler drove to Shirley Walker's groves, something he normally let someone else do for him. Ace had come along and went to stand immediately with Wynn the moment they arrived at the designated spot. Ashe, his light-brown hair blown by the breeze rustling through groves of grapefruit trees, followed Winkler, Trace and Trajan to a grassy clearing lying nearly in the center of Shirley's extensive orchards. The carved wooden coffin was already there, with several werewolves standing vigil.
"It's tradition if you die a hero," Trace whispered to Ashe. "Six werewolves stand guard through the night."
"Then James Johnson should have had the same," Ashe said quietly.
"Ashe, what do you know?" Winkler dropped back to walk beside his ward.
"I can't explain it right now," Ashe replied. "Maybe later."
* * *
Mr. Dodd, the history teacher, delivered the eulogy. He spoke about sacrifice and lives taken too soon. Ashe watched Buck and his mother, who stood next to Hayes' parents. Not once did Adele glance in his direction.
* * *
"I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner," Ashe informed the prisoner. Somehow, Chad and Jeremy had imprisoned the man in an old, abandoned bunker left over from the early nineteen-sixties nuclear war scare. Ashe didn't expect the man to be forthcoming about his true nature. Not immediately, anyway.
Lifting his eyes, Lewis Sharpe shivered inside his six-by-six foot prison. The young werewolf and shapeshifter had dumped his drugged body in the cage two weeks earlier. Their visits had been sporadic to provide food and water, and he'd been without for three days. He still couldn't understand how a shifter had collaborated with a werewolf against one of their own.
"Come on," Ashe was somehow inside the cage, helping Lewis up without opening the door. Lewis, thinking he was hallucinating—people didn't walk through barred cages, after all—allowed the tall youth to pull him off the concrete floor. Ashe slipped a shoulder beneath Lewis' arm and disappeared with his burden.
"You have to be quiet here," Ashe told Lewis as he set a glass of water on the kitchen island for the former prisoner. Lewis blinked dark eyes at Ashe before gulping the water thirstily, his hand shaking as he held the glass.
"Slow down, you don't need to choke, there's plenty more," Ashe did his best to calm Lewis. "I'm Ashe, by the way. Ashe Evans. I have canned and packaged food in the pantry, here," Ashe pointed to the small pantry in question. He'd taken Lewis to the hidden room beneath Winkler's new beach house. "So, what will it be? Canned soup, spaghetti or chili?"
"Kid, who are you?" Lewis rasped, coming to his senses. His reddish-brown hair was shaggy and needed washing, as did the rest of him. Ashe was glad he didn't have a werewolf's sensitive nose; Lewis needed a shower in the worst way. He required food and water first, however, and Ashe wasn't about to call the man to task about his hygiene. It wasn't his fault, after all. When Winkler and the others questioned Chad and Jeremy, they hadn't asked about potential prisoners. Ashe had picked up remnants of extreme sadness emanating from Lewis, who'd determined that he'd been left to die in his cage.
"I'm just a not so average kid," Ashe replied. "Tell me who you are. I promise to get you home by Monday."
"What day is it?" Lewis asked. "And I'm Lewis. Lewis Sharpe, from Russellville, Arkansas."
"It's Friday, August eighth," Ashe replied. "Full moon is," Lewis finished Ashe's sentence for him.
"Sunday," Lewis muttered hopelessly.
"It's all right," Ashe reassured the shapeshifter. "My mom shifts into a peregrine falcon on full moons."
"Your mother's a shifter?" Lewis asked, blinking at Ashe in confusion. Ashe emptied a can of spaghetti into a bowl and shoved it into the microwave while the man continued to stare at Ashe.
"Yeah. But things are a little strained at the moment. Don't worry, you're as safe as you can be for now, and as soon as you finish eating, there's a washer and dryer behind those doors in the center of the room, a bathroom and shower past that plus that bed over there so you can rest. I'm sorry there's no door in or out of this place, but if you're quiet, nobody else will know you're here until I come back."
"If there's no door," Lewis lifted the fork Ashe placed before him and dipped into the bowl of microwaved spaghetti, "How did you get in here to begin with?"
"The same way I'm getting out," Ashe replied. "You'll hear noise above your head all day—people will be moving in. There's nothing to worry about as long as you stay quiet, all right? At least until I can explain things to the owner."
"Kid, you just hauled me away from certain death. I think I can stay quiet for a little while. Especially since that cabinet is filled with food and there's plenty of water." Lewis nodded toward the kitchen sink where Ashe stood.
"There's probably soda and juice in the fridge, but you needed water first," Ashe said. "I have to go before people start looking for me." Lewis' fork dropped from numb fingers when Ashe disappeared before his eyes.
"I'm getting my computer unhooked," Ashe called out when Winkler half-shouted his name.
"Son," Winkler stood in the doorway to Ashe's room that doubled as an office and bedroom, "as soon as you get that stuff carried out to the van, we'll go on. I've got movers coming for the rest."
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