Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(16) by Connie Suttle
He also wanted to get to know Ashe and Sali better—they shared a friendship that he envied. If he could become good friends with them, who knew what the future might hold? In all his life, Edward had no close friendships. He knew his father was trying to protect him, but pointed ears didn't seem to be a concern to the citizens of Cloud Chief. In fact, Luanne had told him that one of the residents became a white buffalo. Edward wanted to see someone who could turn into a buffalo. And Sali's wolf? That was amazing.
"I don't know that they'd allow it—this is a hidden refuge for these people," Steven replied. "Want cocoa?" Edward's father pulled a box of instant out of the pantry.
* * *
"My Queen, I would not have offered this to our previous monarch," Diamond lifted the sleeve of his silk shirt, revealing the single, square gold talisman beneath. It shone brightly in the torchlight surrounding Friesianna, marked with runes denoting power in an ancient language none remembered.
Friesianna's crown was grasped in her left hand as she reached out for Diamond's talisman with her right. The Bright crown held power over the talismans and all four medallions could be called forth if there was great need. Diamond failed to see six children as great need, but his Queen asked, therefore he answered. His brothers Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby waited behind him, ready to offer up their talismans as well. Hilbah stood nearby, a triumphant gleam in his eyes as he watched the first of four gold power charms peel away from Diamond's flesh and float toward Friesianna's hand. The Call would go out within days.
* * *
"Wildrif is worth his weight in gold," Obediah Tanner chuckled, causing the scar running from the old werewolf's left eye down to his chin to pucker. Gray peppered Obediah's thick brown hair and he sported a rather large and bushy moustache that hid most of his mouth. Smoking a cigar and having a glass of whiskey, Obediah grinned at Lester, his second-in-command.
Obediah wasn't an officially recognized Packmaster, so Lester had to settle for being an unofficial Second. The Grand Master considered Obediah an outlaw; he just hadn't been able to pin any wrongdoing on the old wolf. All thanks to Wildrif, who was something of a clairvoyant. Wildrif always knew when someone was coming for a surprise inspection of Tanner's Wild Game Preserve, located near Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. Obediah was able to hide any contraband and the rare, endangered or exotic animals used to lure wealthy hunters to his land; Wildrif warned him days in advance in order to give his employer plenty of time to conceal everything.
"How much this time?" Lester raised a glass of whiskey to his boss.
"Three hundred thousand. I think we could get more if we turn those kids over," Obediah grinned. "A lot more."
"Are we still getting information regularly?"
"Yeah. Josiah won't say who his spy is, and I really don't care as long as we keep getting what we need on that community. Wildrif has trouble seeing past their boundary, but he sure knows what the Bright Ones are up to. No idea where the Dark Ones get the money to pay, but we don't care about that, do we?" Obediah sipped his whiskey.
"Nope. Boss, that's the easiest money we've ever made. No animals or contraband to smuggle, no politicians to pay to keep quiet—it's all information and simple to get."
"I thought about giving Wildrif a raise, but that might get his hopes up," Obediah continued, rattling ice cubes in his glass.
"Boss, I wouldn't have taken him on, looking the way he does," Lester pointed out. "Wildrif scares some of the others, what with two different colored eyes and all."
"He refuses to get haircuts, and that makes him look even wilder," Obediah agreed. "But he knows what he's talking about. Every time."
"At least he keeps himself clean—when you first got him, he smelled terrible."
"Kept in a cage somewhere down south," Obediah blew smoke rings in the air. "Don't know how he managed to get himself locked up like that. Unless he knew he'd end up here."
"Could be. You treat him good, boss."
"Yeah. Go offer to bring him a steak—he's earned it."
* * *
Ashe could hear rain drumming on the roof from two floors down. He'd checked the weather reports—just a thunderstorm with no tornadic activity reported. Blowing out a relieved sigh, Ashe sent an instant message to Sali. His father hadn't forbidden email or instant messaging, after all. Likely hadn't thought about it—Aedan refused to use it, preferring his old cell phone. Ashe had only attempted to persuade his father to buy one of the newer, smart phones once.
Dude, I got two weeks, too. Sali's reply came swiftly—Marcus hadn't cut off Sali's electronic communication, either. Man, this sucks, Sali added.
Yeah, Ashe dutifully replied. They'd gone off the reservation; now they paid the price. I'll send an email to Wynn and ask her to let Edward and the others know we can't see them for two weeks.
Better you than me, dude. Sali never spoke civilly with Wynn or Dori, in any form of communication. Attempts at such met with cold and calculated insults and unmerciful teasing.
Can't we all just get along? Ashe mused through his keystrokes. It was an oft-moaned response to Sali's war with both girls.
Dude, Armageddon will happen before that does, Sali sniped back.
You may eat those words someday.
You eat everything else.
Hey, that's just mean. And not true. I don't eat beets.
I stand corrected.
Then stop implying that I eat everything.
I wasn't implying, I was inferring. I was arriving at a conclusion based on the evidence at hand.
I owe you a kick.
In two weeks, dude. Unless you want Billings to catch us.
Detention on top of grounding? No, thanks.
* * *
"The Call will go out in a few days. I want you to track those children when they leave the protected area to seek out the Bright race," Baltis instructed his Destroyers. Rend, Slash, Grind and Crush bowed before their King.
"What is your will in this?" Rend, eldest of the four asked.
"Kill them. We have no use for them—I hear they have not developed any talent as yet." Baltis examined his nails. Perhaps he would have a servant take care of them—they looked a bit ragged.
"We will have to drain power from our talismans to relocate—it will take four jumps from here," Rend informed Baltis.
"Then go tomorrow. That will give them time to recharge." The Destroyers wore the gold duplicates of the Bright talismans—all bearing the ancient text that none now recalled or were able to read. It gave the Destroyers extra power to relocate, hopping from one place to another. Four hundred miles was the maximum any Destroyer could jump at one time. The talismans enabled them to make additional, difficult relocations. Most Elemaiya capable of the feat could only perform one or two relocations before taking a rest. Baltis' crown helped him relocate farther and faster, but he used it only if his life were in danger.
"It will be as you say, my King," Rend bowed low and disappeared, Slash, Grind and Crush following closely behind.
* * *
Dude, I have to get in bed, Mom will be knocking on the door anytime, Ashe was still messaging Sali and it was after ten.
Me, too. See you at school. Sali shut down his computer before his mother caught him communicating with Ashe.
Ashe sighed and turned off his own machine, pushing his chair back and stretching a little before rising. "I was hoping you'd stop soon, I've been waiting for more than one of your Earth hours," someone said behind him, making Ashe whirl around in terror. A very tall boy with sky-blue skin, wheat-colored hair and bright blue eyes sat on the end of Ashe's bed, smiling.
"What the?" Ashe was about to turn to mist and flee.
"No, do not run away, I must speak with you," the blue being held out a hand in a calming gesture. "I have the room shielded; we may speak without fear of discovery."
"But," Ashe began to wonder if he'd fallen asleep and was now dreaming. Tugging on his short, slightly curly brown hair, Ashe stared at his visitor.
"I am of the Larentii race and am younger than you, although I am taller—my race is very tall. My name is Renegar. I ask that you remember it from this point forward—if I use it more than once my father will know. He has employed Nexus Echo while I am studying other worlds."
"But," Ashe repeated. He had an alien in his bedroom? How did that happen? And did he call himself Renegar? How had he gotten past the shields surrounding Cloud Chief?
"I asked Uncle for an unusual race to study. He handed over information on the Elemaiya," Renegar smiled, revealing white, even teeth that contrasted sharply with his blue skin. Renegar's face was evenly proportioned; his nose was perfect and his blue eyes twinkled with something akin to mischief.
"But," Ashe said a third time.
"You wonder how old I am and why I am here," Renegar went on. "I am nine years old and six inches taller than you, using your measurements, of course, and the Elemaiya are on a path toward destruction. That is why my uncle sent me in their direction—he says to study them at this time because they may not survive past the next six hundred years. Not as they are now, anyway."
"But that doesn't explain why you're in my bedroom," Ashe muttered, sitting down at his desk again.
"You should not fear for your safety; we Larentii are benign and are forbidden by law to interfere," Renegar said. "I will not stay long now, but I may come back to visit occasionally—while the Bright children remain within your village. You are a puzzle to me, Ashe Evans," Renegar added. "An unreadable one."
"What does that mean?" Ashe demanded helplessly.
"We Larentii know a great many things, even at such early stages of our lives," Renegar stood, showing Ashe that he was taller than Ashe's father. "We young ones know much of what was, but we must study what is and what is likely to be. Hence, my curiosity over the Elemaiya. I hope you do not mind if I fold in once in a while."
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