Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(35) by Connie Suttle
"Ashe," Edward looked up as the two boys approached. "Sali."
"Edward, I, uh," Ashe didn't know what to say. He felt so uncomfortable; his skin continued to itch and he had no words to say, suddenly.
"Yeah," Edward nodded, staring at his feet. "I just, well, I never had such good friends before."
"We hate this," Sali said. "You should be able to stay."
Ashe blinked as he looked up at Edward—Elizabeth's ghost was standing at Edward's shoulder, making the same gesture she'd made inside Luanne's bedroom.
"She's here," Luanne came to stand beside Edward.
"Lizzie?" Edward whirled to stare at Luanne.
"Yeah. Right behind us," Luanne breathed. "She keeps doing that gesture thing. I have no idea what that means."
"It's kind of creepy," Edward shivered.
"What?" Sali didn't understand.
"Elizabeth's ghost," Ashe said. "She's been hanging around ever since, well, ever since." Ashe shoved his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders.
"You guys see a ghost?" Sali's eyes were wide and he took a step back.
"Sal, she hasn't done anything," Ashe said. "And only Luanne and I can see her, I think."
"She isn't dangerous," Luanne agreed. "She just keeps holding her arms out like this," Luanne copied the gesture, stretching her arms out and then pulling them upward until her hands were nearly touching, high over her head. "Nobody knows what that means," Luanne dropped her arms.
"Looks a little silly," Edward nodded.
"Everybody into the vehicles," Bill Jennings barked orders.
"Ashe, I wish we could stay," Luanne leaned forward and hugged Ashe tightly.
"Yeah," Ashe was stunned when Luanne let him go.
"Ashe," Edward stepped forward and awkwardly offered another hug. Ashe clapped Edward on the shoulder and stepped back.
"Take care, man," Sali held out a hand. Edward took it briefly and nodded once to the young werewolf.
"Ashe," Bryce and Keith had come to say good-bye. Ashe copied Sali, offering his hand. In minutes, all of them were loaded into waiting SUVs and doors were closed. Philip and his mother loaded in last of all; Ashe watched as Philip sullenly climbed into the back seat of the SUV and sat beside his mother.
* * *
Pierce and Hilbah waited for Diamond and Ruby to return with carryout from a local restaurant. The time had been set and they had more than an hour before the children were scheduled to arrive, but Pierce was hungry and if they didn't return soon, there might not be enough time to eat. Pierce was angry and out of sorts while Hilbah sat huddled in a corner of the cellar, lit only by a camping lantern that Pierce had supplied. Hilbah stared intently at Pierce. It made Pierce uncomfortable. He was ready to snap at Hilbah when the strange, point-eared man spoke.
"Your death will come at the hands of one you know," Hilbah said softly, his eyes glowing strangely in the lantern light. The gun was in Pierce's hand and Hilbah was dead before Pierce even realized what he'd done.
"That saves us having to kill him; he was worthless anyway," Diamond handed over a bag from the restaurant. Pierce pocketed the gun he'd stolen from Nick Lawford and accepted the bag of take-out without a word.
* * *
"Is the ghost still here?" Sali asked as they watched five dark SUVs drive toward the entrance to Cloud Chief.
"It got in the car with Luanne," Ashe said, shaking his head over the oddity.
"Son," Aedan's hand dropped onto Ashe's shoulder, "Take Sali to the gate but not beyond, hear me? You can wave good-bye from there."
Ashe searched his father's eyes. "You mean I can mist us there?"
"I'm giving you permission," Aedan smiled.
"All right," Sali pumped his fist. In seconds, Ashe and Sali were mist and blazing toward Cloud Chief's hidden entrance.
* * *
"This is Sorrel's work. Strong, but it won't keep us out," the warlock muttered, pulling back the dark magic he'd employed to detect the barrier. "Ready?" he glanced at the line of six others, male and female, that stood beside him. "Then let's begin," the warlock said as each one nodded.
* * *
Ashe kept pace with the lead SUV, where Winkler and Director Jennings rode with Philip and Jackie Raymond, before ranging ahead to rematerialize beside the gate. The vehicles were nearly there and Ashe and Sali had hands raised to wave good-bye when the witch's shield fell and the first hurled firebomb upended Director Jennings' SUV.
Aedan barely had time to register Ashe's mindspeech as he and Nathan raced toward the blast. Marcus and many other werewolves were running as well, but they were far behind the two vampires.
"The shield is down!" Adele shouted to others who'd ran or driven up. "Marcie's on the phone; she and Jason heard the blast in Cordell and the Cordell Fire Department is on the way. This is awful," Adele waved her cell phone in the air.
"Come on, we may need to help," Denise DeLuca drove up and flung a car door open. Adele climbed inside Denise's small car and held on while Denise sped toward the gate.
* * *
Sali went to werewolf, Ashe turned to mist. Winkler was climbing out of the overturned SUV and Ashe registered that he was swiftly turning to wolf as well. Two warlocks hurled more fireblasts at the SUVs, but those vehicles were attempting to get around the one that carried the Raymonds and Director Jennings.
Winkler tore into one of the warlocks and Sali, seizing the opportunity, leapt at the witch who was attempting to help the warlock against Winkler. Aedan and Nathan ran up at that moment, even as a hurled fireblast hit another SUV.
Think fast, Ashe, filtered into Ashe's misty brain—it was a voice he didn't recognize—it sounded adult, and Ashe only knew of one adult with mindspeech—Edward's father, Steven Pendley. This wasn't Steven Pendley. Making up his mind swiftly, Ashe flashed from one SUV to another, lifting all the teens and their parents inside his mist.
Jason, Trace and the other werewolves, along with Director Jennings' agent-drivers, pelted from SUVs, the werewolves turning to wolf, the agents with guns drawn. Director Jennings was the only one who didn't move; he was unconscious, his head cut and bloody. At the last moment, Ashe lifted the unconscious Director in his mist as well. Unsure where to take the children and adults he carried at first, Ashe turned in a complete circle while he desperately searched for a solution to the dilemma.
* * *
"The plan's been compromised!" Wildrif's voice screeched into Diamond's cell. "The warlock and his people are fighting for their lives. You'll have to take the children away yourselves."
Diamond nodded to Ruby, and he and his brother each grasped one of Pierce's arms and disappeared before Pierce had an opportunity to shout at either of them.
* * *
"We're on our way." Rend, the Dark King's Destroyer, ended the call he'd gotten from Wildrif—it was almost identical to the one Diamond had gotten from the wild-eyed clairvoyant. "Come on, those stupid spell-casters have managed to muck this up," Rend informed his three brothers. "Sorry, it will expend too much energy if we take you along," Rend informed Josiah and the six werewolves that stood before him. "Here's your money," Rend tossed a heavy bag to Josiah. "We'll be in touch." Rend, Slash, Grind and Crush all disappeared before Josiah could say a word.
* * *
"Quick, get in the storm shelter," Ashe had carried all his passengers to the shelter between mobile homes. They'd never used it until now, but it was built of strong material and buried in the ground, with a thick door that could be latched once they were inside. Ashe could still hear the noise of fireblasts being hurled at the entrance to Cloud Chief, while werewolves, vampires and a few shapeshifters attempted to fight off rogue spell-casters. Steven Pendley and Rocky Hill carried Director Jennings between them; the Director still hadn't wakened.
"Hurry," Luanne and Edward were lifting the shelter's heavy door so the others could get inside. Bryce, Keith and Macy helped shaky mothers down steep steps after Director Jennings was taken in first.
"Son, shouldn't you come with us?" Michael Caldwell, Keith and Bryce's father placed a hand on Ashe's shoulder.
"I need to check on Sali," Ashe winced as another fireblast exploded at the gate.
"I'm not going in there," Philip Raymond announced as his mother attempted to pull him down the shelter's narrow steps. Smoke from burning grass filtered past as Ashe stared at Philip Raymond. Philip backed away from the shelter entrance, refusing to go inside with his mother.
"Dang," Ashe breathed and prepared to mist Philip inside the storm shelter.
"You stupid," the sentence wasn't finished as a voice shouted directly behind Ashe. Jackie Raymond screamed as a bullet tore through her shoulder. Ashe whirled to find the man who'd attacked him and his mother inside Cordell Feed and Seed. Behind that man stood two others Ashe didn't recognize, and both were just as shocked at what the man had done as Ashe was. None of them, however, were expecting what happened next.
Philip had been angry for a very long time, and his anger found an outlet that night. Turning to mountain lion, Philip hurled himself at the one who'd once called himself Philip's father. Philip Raymond Sr. had been a CIA spy for many years before going rogue and acting as a double agent. Until he'd been discovered. He'd disappeared after that, and Jackie Raymond had tearfully lied to her son, telling him that his father was dead.
Now, Philip slashed and clawed at Philip Raymond Sr.'s throat, even as the gun his father carried fired. Ashe and the others watched in horror as father and son fell to the ground, dead of their wounds. Jackie Raymond kept screaming as four more men appeared from nothing, immediately engaging the first two strangers in a firebombing battle. Only these blasts were fifty times more deadly than those hurled by the warlocks and witches at Cloud Chief's entrance.
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