Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(27) by Connie Suttle
"What happened?" Ashe prompted Griffin, who'd fallen silent again.
"One day, the One and the Three discovered that a blight had infected their ranks," Griffin blew out a breath. "Some at many levels of power had banded together and turned against them, seeking to destroy what had been created. The Three were given the task of pursuing the rogues—those Destroyers—and finding a way to turn them back to the Light or devising a way to eliminate them. Not an easy thing to do, since the ones they hunted were not only immortal and powerful, but were recruiting allies among the created races. The Three began to choose their armies carefully—part of their duty is to seek out and right many wrongs in their pursuit of the invasive evil."
"Is that true?" Ashe blinked at Griffin.
"Yes. There is another tale associated with that one, but it is something I feel you must discover for yourself."
"What has all that to do with Changing What Was?"
"Only one of the Three will be gifted with Changing What Was. It is something the One allows sparingly, as it is quite rare. None know which of the Three will have it, when they appear."
"You make it sound as if they don't exist, yet, when you already said they do." Ashe followed the logic.
"Caught that, did you?" Griffin chuckled. "Good job. Should have known the Ir'Indicti would figure that out. As gods, the Three can't interfere. But there's a way around that rule. If they're reborn into a created race—as one of them, they can interfere all they want. And there are ways of becoming immortal if they're born mortal, as you well know. The problem with all that is, they may be vulnerable. Their enemies may be looking for them, to destroy them in their new forms and keep them from their duty. When all Three come together in their new existence, it means the god wars are imminent. That's not a good thing, young one. Is there anything else I can tell you before I leave?" Griffin asked.
"I wish you'd tell me how to get rid of this drug in my system. It's making me stupid." Ashe tapped his forehead.
"You were given an opioid?"
"I don't know what it was. I was unconscious, and now I can barely think."
"You were given an opioid," Griffin confirmed. "It is the bane of any Elemaiya, and dampens their talents, leaving them virtually powerless if enough is injected."
"I got pain medicine when I was twelve. Was that the same thing? I could still do stuff after that," Ashe said
"You were likely given either a non-opioid or a compound, and it wasn't enough to impair you. This—whoever gave this to you had a particular goal in mind, and injected a sufficient quantity to impair your system. I can't interfere directly in this. I can tell you that the answer to your question circles your arm. Those who currently call themselves King and Queen of the Elemaiya can't read those medallions and never knew how to use them properly. I should go." Griffin unfolded his tall frame from the deck chair and stretched. "Be careful." Griffin disappeared.
"Yeah. Sure. Easy for you to say." Ashe lifted the sleeve covering his left arm and gingerly touched the eight gold medallions circling his biceps. At least they weren't as tender against his skin as they'd first been. When they'd first appeared, he could barely stand to touch them, and it was worse if someone else tried.
"How am I supposed to read these things now, to get back what I lost?" Ashe shook his head in bewilderment. "This just gets worse as it goes along."
* * *
"Any improvement?" Trajan asked as he settled at the Evans' kitchen island. "Mrs. Thompson is bringing dinner for you and your mom."
"No improvement. Not since five minutes ago, anyway, when I last attempted to mist," Ashe grumbled dejectedly. "Want coffee? Mom asked for some a few minutes ago. She got up and took a shower. Said she'd be down in a few minutes."
"I'd take coffee." Trajan nodded. "Shirley says we can have a service for Andy tomorrow afternoon at the usual spot."
"He shouldn't be dead." Ashe poured water into the coffeemaker and turned on the brewer.
"True. Winkler and the Grand Master want to hunt Zeke again, but Peyton says Zeke is probably moving his compound, if he hasn't done it already."
"What's happening with Peyton? They're not thinking of killing him, are they?" Ashe turned worried blue eyes on Trajan.
"Not at the moment. He's telling everything he knows to the Grand Master, and a lot of it confirms what Weldon already suspected," Trajan sighed. "Winkler's sending Peyton to Dallas afterward, to train with some of his other wolves. Most of the education Peyton has is self-taught, so he may be enrolling in night classes, too. Loren is filling in for Andy. Winkler may make it permanent. Loren catches on pretty quick."
"Wish I could help," Ashe said. "Can't right now."
"Here." Ashe poured a fresh cup of coffee for Winkler's Second. "Any news on Dawn Smith? Is anybody making sure Randy has something to eat?"
"No news, and yes, Randy is being fed. He's in good shape, other than worrying about his mother and his job. Winkler let him call Sara once, but that's the only call he was allowed to make. He didn't tell her about his mother."
"What did Sara say? She's a bunny shapeshifter, you know."
"Didn't know that," Trajan shook his head. "Winkler said she couldn't come down to see Randy until things were more settled."
"Wish I could see the implications of all that," Ashe remarked.
"Is the coffee ready? It smells good," Adele walked in, dressed in jeans and a comfortable top. Her feet were bare and her hair pulled back in a single braid.
"Sit down, Mom. I'll get it for you." Ashe went to the cabinet to get another cup.
"Ashe, why are my recent memories of you so hazy?" Adele asked. "Do you think it's a side effect of what happened last night?"
"I don't know," Ashe lied, setting a cup of black coffee in front of his mother. "Mrs. Thompson is bringing dinner for us later."
"That's so nice," Adele lifted the cup to her lips.
"That's my phone," Ashe pulled the cell from his pocket and checked the text he'd received. "It's from Dad," he whispered, opening the message.
Coming home. Will arrive in New York to spend day. Be in Corpus Christi Sunday night, late. Have informed Nathan. He will pick me up. Will explain when I arrive.
Ashe read the message twice before handing the phone to Trajan. "Holy shit," Trajan swore.
"Fifteen trackers are dead and Wildrif has disappeared," Zeke snapped. Hutch stared at the floor surrounding Zeke's desk—Ezekiel Tanner had nearly destroyed the desk inside his new study in anger, sending a laptop, files and everything else flying when he learned of Wildrif's perfidy. "Have you sent anybody out to track him?" Zeke barely kept the snarl from his voice.
"I've got three out, but they lost the scent just before he reached the river. Probably had somebody pick him up," Hutch growled low. "If it was somebody from the other side, he's long gone by now."
"I shouldn't have given him a new cell phone. He dumped the other one in the desert when we went to get him," Zeke huffed. "Who knows if he intends to sell us out, now? How's the move going?"
"Well enough. Two more loads and we're done."
"Get it done quick. It may not be enough, but at least Peyton won't be able to send the Grand Master against us."
"We don't know that Peyton is still alive."
"Thanks to Wildrif high-tailin' it out of here. If I ever catch him," Zeke's hands clenched in fury.
* * *
"Buck, I'm sorry. I just feel that something's missing," Adele sounded tired over the phone. He'd called and she'd thought to allow the call to go to voicemail. Instead, she'd answered, determined to end her relationship with the werewolf as gently as possible.
"Adele, I wish you'd think about this before dumping me." Buck didn't sound happy.
"I promise to think about it—I just can't promise that I'll come to any other conclusion," Adele brushed tears away. "You were good to me, and I appreciate that. More than I can say. It's just—not right. Not what I want. I'm sorry."
"Look, both of us got hit last night. I'll call you back in a couple of days and we'll talk again." Buck ended the call.
"That went well," Denise DeLuca sat next to Adele at the kitchen island.
"I'm sorry you had to hear it. Did Ashe let you in?"
"Yes. He went out to talk to Sali. How are you feeling?"
"Not so good, after that." Adele tapped her phone. "The good news, I guess, is that Aedan is coming home. He texted Ashe. Maybe he was afraid to talk to me."
"Things haven't gone so well, lately," Denise agreed softly.
* * *
"Anything new?" Ashe asked as he and Sali walked through the Star Cove community.
"Nope. Marco is at the beach house with Loren, and he says things are really quiet over there. Says he's talked to Cori three times today. She almost freaked when he told her about last night."
"Not many people knew what was happening," Ashe said.
"Ashe, what's wrong?" Sali stopped on his trek around the community and stared at Ashe.
"I'm blind as a bat, no pun intended," Ash muttered. "Dang. I don't know if I can even change to the bat," he added. "Sal, will you pick up my clothes if I turn?"
"I guess, but dude, it's still daylight."
"Doesn't matter. If I can't do this, I really am screwed." Ashe concentrated on turning to the bat.
"Looks like a bat to me," Sali muttered dryly as Ashe flapped in front of his face.
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