Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(31) by Connie Suttle
"How would you know that our people need us?" The same Elemaiya demanded.
"Jeez, you really are stupid, aren't you?" Ashe muttered. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out where the Dark King is. Or where the Bright Queen is." Ashe spoke mentally to both sides after that, telling them exactly what he knew and giving precise locations—telling the Bright Ones where the Queen was, the Dark Ones where the King might be located. "What are you, idiots or something? Go home. Hide better than that if you expect to live."
"Are you going to stop us? We were instructed to bring you to the Dark King," a Dark Elemaiya guard bluffed while he backed further away. Neither he nor his companions could fathom how Ashe knew where their camp was.
"No. The boy dies here," one of the Bright Elemaiya snapped. Aedan had listened patiently to the dialogue, but at that statement, he growled. The Bright Elemaiya who spoke took another step back. Vampires could kill Elemaiya easily; they all knew it. In addition, the boy held all eight of the talismans, Bright and Dark. Perhaps there was truth in the H’Morr after all.
"How do you think I got these?" Ashe pointed to the talismans on his arm. "I killed the ones who held them. Go home. Whoever sent you after my father made a mistake. This isn't my father. My father is Elemaiya." One of the Elemaiya hissed in a breath.
"How can you know this?" The first one spoke again.
"Someone who can't lie told me," Ashe said. "Go home. I’m not in the mood to kill anybody today."
"You lie." The second Bright Elemaiya accused.
"He does not." The brown-haired man appeared and all the Elemaiya took another step back, looking frightened. "He is pure-blood. Tell the Queen that. And your King." The tall man nodded to each speaker. "If they are using that as an excuse, then they should rethink their motives. Do as the boy says. Go home. Live to fight another day. Two more vampires are coming. They will not allow you to live. Ashe is offering a generous gift. I suggest you accept."
The Elemaiya looked frightened to Ashe. Cori's panther leaned against Ashe's legs and growled low. Marco's wolf stood nearby, snarling at the Elemaiya. Aedan had claws and fangs at the ready. "More vampires are coming," one of the Elemaiya squeaked. All twelve disappeared shortly before two vampires ran up in a blur.
"You missed it, Gavin," the brown-haired man observed as a tall, wide-shouldered vampire appeared at his side. "Twelve Elemaiya, gone in a blink." He snapped his fingers.
"Griffin, I'd appreciate it if you'd leave the continent," Gavin snapped.
"But I haven't had dinner yet."
"Gavin, you have no control over this one. Leave it." The other vampire said.
"Russell, you have always had more patience than I. I have only heard that I shouldn't attack this one." Gavin wasn't giving up easily, his dark eyes focused on Griffin.
"By the Honored One's command. Don't risk your life. Aedan, are you well?" The vampire called Russell asked. Russell stood at six-six, only a bit taller than Aedan and Ashe. He had dark-brown hair, brown eyes and was built like a boxer.
"I am fine." Aedan retracted claws and fangs. "It appears I need a new place to stay."
"There are safe houses in the area. You may have one of them if you want. Contact Charles." Gavin was finished since the enemy had fled.
"Dad?" Ashe said. He sounded lost. Aedan hadn't spoken to him.
"Ashe, go home. I’m not sure how you arrived, but you should leave now." Aedan wasn't looking at Ashe. Instead, he kept his gray eyes focused on Griffin, deeming him the greater threat.
"Someday, you will regret those words. And your actions," Griffin informed Aedan in an icy voice before he disappeared.
"Cori?" Marco was human again and pulling clothing on hastily.
"Here," Ashe pulled up the cloth the Elemaiya had used to cover his father. Draping it over Cori, he waited for her to change. She appeared under his arm and he helped her wrap herself in the heavy black drape. Marco gathered her scattered clothing, some of it ripped in Cori's haste to help.
"I guess we’ll go, Dad. Since you don't want us." Ashe lifted Cori and Marco in his mist and hopped to Star Cove. Aedan cursed as they disappeared.
* * *
"Thank goodness," Winkler muttered when Ashe appeared in Winkler's kitchen with Cori and Marco. "Kid, what happened?"
"Six Elemaiya pulled Dad out of his house and had him lying on the ground, wrapped in this," Ashe pointed to the cloth in which Cori was wrapped. "And then another six showed up from the opposing camp. Since they didn't find me with Dad, they intended to get information from him on where I was. One side wants to kill me, the other side wants to take me and make me work for them. We had a few words before that Griffin guy showed up. They all took a step back when they saw him."
"If they'd attacked him, they'd have died," Winkler said. "They wouldn't have enough to take him down if they'd had thirty times their numbers. How's your father? Did those two vampires get there in time?"
"Yeah. Two showed up, right after Griffin convinced the Elemaiya to leave. Somebody named Gavin and Russell. Dad's fine. He told us to leave." Ashe wanted to go to his room and sulk instead of answering questions.
"Gavin is Chief of Wlodek's Assassins and Tony Hancock's surrogate sire. Russell is Chief of Enforcers," Winkler said. "Charles sent the best he could."
"Now I know why Hancock's so grumpy, if that's his surrogate sire," Ashe said. Winkler pulled him into a hug.
* * *
Ashe found himself on a conference call with the Grand Master shortly after that. Cori and Marco had to come, too, and give their account. Bear Wright had come to sit with Cori, since she was a shapeshifter. "Just to make sure Weldon doesn't get away with anything," Bear grinned and patted Cori's shoulder. Nathan might have come, but it was still daylight.
Ashe relayed the incident to Weldon, while Winkler and Trajan listened and Andy recorded everything. Cori and Marco added their bit, then Weldon and Winkler asked questions after that. "Ashe, how did you know you could do that hopping thing to England?" Weldon asked.
"I don't know. I just knew Dad was in trouble. I didn't even think about the distance."
"If I’m asking about this, you can be sure your Dad is getting grilled by Wlodek. If not now, then very soon. He’ll want to know."
"Not surprising," Ashe said, ducking his head and staring at his shoes. A few blades of grass clung to one of his sneakers—grass from England. Grass from his father's front yard. The house had looked to be a country house, with London in the distance. Somehow, the Elemaiya had found his father. Ashe hoped Aedan would be well hidden from then on.
"Ashe, there's something else we have to tell you," Weldon said when the questioning was done. "We’ve worked this out with your mother. Your father has officially refused to support you—I learned this from Wlodek. And with the way things stand with your mother, well, Winkler has asked to be appointed your guardian. Your mother signed the papers in Corpus Christi today. If you agree to sign, too, Winkler will make sure your expenses are covered and you have everything you need. Your mother seems a bit confused, so we think this is for the best. If you object, we’ll work this out."
Ashe sat, his wrists and hands dangling over his knees. Confused was a mild description of his mother's condition. "No. It's probably for the best right now," Ashe agreed. Taking the offered pen, he signed the paper the Dallas Packmaster placed before him. Then, rising swiftly, he stalked from Winkler's study.
* * *
"One of those we cannot name appeared. He verified it," Parlethis said, hoping the Queen would sense his sincerity and not blast him for the news he brought. "And we saw all eight talismans. Here, on the boy's arm." Parlethis tapped a spot on his left arm.
"We cannot have this. I will not accept it. I still want the boy killed. You realize what kind of threat this might be." The Queen was agitated and paced before her throne. A canopy had been spread above it—a late summer storm threatened. "Who held the poisoned dart?"
"I did." Parlethis admitted.
"Keep it. The opportunity may come again. Meanwhile, we have an attack upon the Dark camp to execute. Prince Beldris does not hold the Dark Crown. He will be little more than a common soldier against us." Friesianna swished her skirts aside so she could sit, adjusting the crown that afforded her the power to rule.
* * *
"Randy." Ashe leaned against the wall beside his cot and stared at Randy Smith. "I heard you and your mom were moving to Star Cove."
"It was a compromise. I told her this was the only other place I'd consider, never thinking she'd do it. And here we are." Randy flung up his hands in surrender. "The gods pull our strings and we dance."
"I'd prefer to do the waltz, then, and not the samba," Ashe grumped.
"It's all in the hips," Randy laughed. "I’ve got an interview tomorrow morning. Any advice, man?"
"None whatsoever," Ashe said. "Just don't sound so much like a city slicker."
"Should I pick hayseeds out of my teeth?"
"I wouldn't go that far. Tell them you're from New Mexico. I get the idea that Chicago might be a dirty word."
"Got it. How’ve you been, man?" Randy sat on Ashe's guest chair.
"Not bad. Working for Winkler is okay."
"Dude, I hear wolves would kill to get a job with him. Winkler's the man. Er, wolf."
"Have you talked to him? He might have pull with the local paper."
"Hadn't thought about that. Maybe I will. In the meantime, I think I'd like to go out sometime. Feel like a burger or something later in the week?"
"Maybe. Let me know." Ashe nodded to Randy.
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