For complete disclaimers, see part 1.
Author's note: Please feel free to leave feedback by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A long week had passed and Thomas had barely started to walk the perimeter of the valley. She wiped the beads of sweat from her brow and scanned the surrounding trees. It was a little strange to see an area without a patch of snow. She had almost forgotten what it looked like since spending so much time within the valley. This had been her first chance to check the barrier.
She had made sure Rumeria stayed at the house to look after everyone while Furry tagged Jacob. Certain her two subordinates would notify her immediately if something were to happen, she had left them to their own devices. Her trust in them was instinctive and they bathed in it like a sponge. She believed their relationship with one another was spawned from the ancient magic used to create them. It was with this thought that she came to know who Hattie was and how she was connected to the incident. However, she had more pressing matters to attend to.
She had packed very light so she would be able to move quickly. There was also no problem for her to find food on her own. She had the occasional chance of meeting a few other people on her way to the perimeter, but now there was no one. Left in solitude to check the barrier which she had not been able to get around to until now, she was able to focus.
Her blue eyes looked at the amazingly clear blue sky. It was magnificent after having to see so much snow for the past three thousand years. She breathed in the fresh air which was due to the melted flakes which only just passed the barrier. Her walk was carefree as she tested the barrier with a little touch from her own magic.
She trailed the barrier with her hand as she fed it and renewed the waning energy. Her continued effort for the past day had been tiring. She was tired after having to leave straight after making sure Anna was settled within her house. Wishing more than once that she still had her old friends to help her in times like these. She could always count on them to know what they should do in all different circumstances. Remembering them all fondly, thoughts of her old family flooded her mind; Juliana, Ileus and Antonio. There was also Daniela and Gillen. They were all a part of the household and looked after her.
Year 2015 AD or 0000 BI…
Daniela knocked on the door to Thomas's study after being informed she was in there and not with their guest. Her hazel eyes looked at the grains of the door as she listened intently to what was being said inside. She knew her boss was there and there had been a growly voice which meant it could only be Furry. However, she was shocked to hear the beast's conclusion. Her own eyes had narrowed in speculation. Was it possible?
She remained standing there for some time before she had the courage to knock again. Surely they should have noticed me standing out here. I'm pretty sure I knocked loudly. I hope I don't get scolded for eavesdropping. She only had to wait a moment longer before she heard Thomas's voice.
Daniela flicked her sandy brown fringe out of her eyes before opening the door. She had to look presentable considering she was a part of the security detail and her duties included some rather dirty missions. Always getting cleaned up before reporting after that first time she had made the mistake of going to report straight away. At that time her brown hair was covered in layers of thick muck mixed with blood; her simple black ninja like outfit was covered in slurry and bits of straw as well as manure. She had been a five foot stinker who had successfully reeked out the office for an entire week.
Luckily today she smelt pristine like a field of sunflowers. Her black ninja like outfit was freshly laundered and her hair was still slightly wet from her fresh shower. She smiled as she walked into the office and greeted Thomas and Furry. “Hey guys, I got an interesting report.” She informed with a smile as she tried to hide the fact she had eavesdropped on them.
“What's so interesting about your report?” Thomas asked who smiled back. Her anger from before had vanished as if it were never there to begin with. She was also pleased Furry didn't look as ruffled as it had been before.
Daniela walked in and closed the door behind her. She had noticed how the boss was not in a good mood at all. She saw how that smile didn't even greet her eyes. It was more like a grimace of the lips than anything else. Hmm, I wonder what was in Ileus's report to have her in this mood. What should I do? She glanced at the file she was holding in her hands with a full written report of her latest outing. It really didn't help at all since Juliana had sent her on this errand instead of Thomas.
She breathed in deeply and took a chanced glance at Furry. Maybe it will be alright since Furry enlightened her. Maybe she won't chew out my arse if I ease into the subject. She won't like what I've done, but it will be for the best. She smiled nervously which was so unlike her and placed the report onto Thomas's desk. She quickly adjusted the collar of her jacket before speaking. “Juliana sent me on an errand while you were away on your vacation. I want you not to blame her or me. It was for the best. The errand involved tailing you.” Daniela informed in a rushed voice as she flinched back ready for an onslaught. She squinted her eye as if she were about to be blasted with an angry outburst, however none came. “I haven't told anyone about her. I thought it would be best to report to you first. I wanted to give you the choice of what to do before the others find out.” She squeaked knowing she was on the end of a plank and was about to jump off to certain death.
“I guess my timing was perfect then. I should take my leave.” Furry growled tiredly after the small confrontation. It pranced to the door without looking back at Thomas. She was shocked by what it had told her and it knew only a small amount of time was required for her to process it all. There was still some time before a true decision could be made. “I'll go and mark her.”
Daniela stared at Furry's swishing tail as it left. Her hazel eyes stared at Thomas for a while. She was surprised to see the confident woman was speechless for once. However, it wasn't her place to speak up and give advice. This was her personal problem and she alone had to deal with it. “I'll take my leave as well. The report has all of my findings in it.” She said hurriedly. Turning on her heel, she quickly made her escape before the blue eyed woman came to her senses.
Thomas looked at the closed report. She had been struck dumb by Furry's revelation and didn't even register what Daniela had said. Gently closing her eyes, she thought about the entire situation she had to face alone. Evolution, Darwin 's theories, scientists, knowledge, power… Is it truly time for humankind to change? If I leave them be, they will eventually change. If I allow the faction to continue with their plans, they will change immediately. How is it that she is the key? Trying to make sense of the matter, her thoughts were straying and all she could really think about was Anna.
Suddenly, her heart started to pound at an alarming rate. It was a warning and she could feel all of her muscles tensing. Her eyes burst open to look around her office to locate what the problem was. It's not in here. She stood up abruptly and jumped over her desk where she yanked the door off its hinges. Seeing Gillen standing there with worry in his eyes, she had not been mistaken.
“There is something wrong; something in your bedroom. Furry told me to come here through mind speech to get you. You have to hurry.” Gillen rambled as he pushed her toward her own bedroom. He was running and panting since he wasn't as young as the others. Being the oldest, he was more of a butler than a part of the security detail. Only his wisdom and experience came in handy, but not at the moment.
Thomas sped up into a run and left Gillen behind after he had finished informing her. She ran passed Antonio who was lying on the floor looking quite battered for a six foot giant of a man with more muscles than Hercules. Knowing he would be alright, although a little shaken, she had to get to her room.
She was surprised to see what was left of her bedroom door. It looked as though someone had pulverised it with a huge blast of lava or something else equally hot. The timber fibres were still smoking, but were luckily not alight. She didn't need to worry about the place catching on fire as well.
Her blue eyes widened in shock to see Furry in a rumpled heap on the floor next to the wall. It looked as though someone had flung the beast against the wall with such force there was a perfect imprint of it. She looked across the room to see Juliana with her blade out. Clearing spotting her friend's intention to stop the young woman who was standing on top of the bed, she had to step in.
“GET OUT!!!” Thomas yelled with so much anger Juliana obeyed immediately as if she had a tail folded cowardly between her legs. Her blue eyes blazed as an ocean of different shades of cerulean light engulfed the entire room. Slowly walking toward the bed, she lifted her arm up and presented her hand with a bright smile. “It's alright, I'm here now.” She purred smoothly to try and calm her.
Thomas stared into those glowing green orbs and waited for what seemed like an eternity. She would have waited forever if she had to. However, her smile widened as Anna slowly grasped her hand. Gently, she pulled her into a tight protective embrace as the magical energy within the air began to dissipate. “I've got you. It's okay now.” She whispered in a gentle caress.
She waited as Anna's body began to relax. The tight tension was leaving both of their bodies. Her worry was slowly ebbed away as she looked at the blonde beauty. The young woman had closed her eyes and was asleep. Carefully lowering her back onto the bed, she covered her with a thin sheet before turning toward the door. She was met by blue eyes which were shocked to say the least.
“Who is she?” Juliana demanded worriedly. She had put her sword away once she knew Thomas had a handle on things. Surprised at how the young woman had suddenly gotten up and thrown them all away from her, she wanted answers. She remembered gingerly getting up and knowing she had to defend herself. The only way she knew how was not to hold back. The young woman was too powerful to take her lightly or to do anything less. She had the intent to kill on her mind and knew her friend had seen that.
Thomas ignored Juliana. She left the bed and walked over to Furry. Her blue eyes assessed her beastie friend was still alive although thoroughly battered. Extending her magic toward it, she healed the blue furred beast until it was able to move and talk.
“Thanks Thomas.” Furry growled gruffly.
“What happened?” Thomas asked concernedly.
“I came in here and was about to mark her. I already had my magic ready and as soon as she sensed it, she tried to defend herself. I didn't realise she was this far along. I thought she was still dormant.” Furry explained as it quickly shook itself together. Golden eyes looked up to see Thomas nodding in understanding.
“I must have influenced an early awakening from healing her with my magic. I guess it is time you can mark her now. I will keep watch in case she tries to protect herself again.” Thomas replied enigmatically. Walking over to the bed, she gently caressed Anna's delicate hand. She had been surprised. Her love wasn't meant to reveal her true self until she was a little older, according to Furry. She was amazed the blonde beauty was actually the last of her kind, an Eliteous.
Eliteous were thought to have been extinct long ago. They were perfect beings who could take any form they wished. It would seem that Anna had taken human form or was unaware of her parentage. Thomas thought the latter since the genetics for the Eliteous race were recessive. It was hard to believe the young woman was the last one. She could only feel the truth of it now. Before, she had thought the puzzling feeling had been her feelings toward Anna and had put it off. However, now this made everything easier. They could be together. The blonde beauty would learn their world and she would have to be hidden from humanity.
“If she is truly a part of our world, then how many more are out their living among the humans?” Juliana asked agitatedly from the door as she had read Thomas's mind. She had already checked up on Antonio and sent him to Gillen who was also a healer of sorts. “If she was able to hide herself from humanity and us, there is a possibility there may be others doing the same.”
“She is an Eliteous. They are the only ones who can coexist with humans.” Furry informed sternly. It had moved to the other side of the bed and transformed one of its padded paws into a hand. Placing its transformed hand on top of Anna's head, it transferred a small portion of magic into her. It was the only way to mark a person since the magic would mingle with the person's blood and stay with them forever. However, the beast was doing something a little extra for this woman since it had seen how Thomas felt for her. It had slit its palm and mixed its own blood with magic to infuse into the blonde's blood to mark her. “There are no others like her. I have already scoured the world.”
“So that's where you've been since I was on vacation.” Thomas commented wonderingly. She had thought it had been strange that Furry had disappeared during the first few months of her secret mission. Believing the beast had taken a vacation as she had told everyone else.
“Indeed.” Furry growled as it smiled knowing Thomas had also lied to everyone else about having a vacation. It was the only one who truly knew where the woman was and had kept an eye on her. Seeing her with Anna, it knew immediately everything wasn't as black and white as it seemed.
Thomas stroked Anna's hand delicately as if she were about to break. She smiled as her love seemed to ease into a restful sleep instead of being comatose. Her blue eyes sparkled at seeing what Furry had done. It was really a rare thing for her friend to make the young woman a part of its pack. The blue furred beast had only done it with her.
She felt the weight of choices lift from her shoulders. Her eyes now knew the truth and so her thinking had changed. She would try to stop the faction from continuing with their plan. Remaining as the guardian, she would help humanity to survive. She would be able to bask in Anna's love when her beauty woke up.
Thomas continued her assessment of the barrier. She walked slowly and made sure everything was perfect. Her blue eyes were slightly glowing with magic as she restored the energy used for the barrier. She had wanted to link the barrier to her own magical energy, but Furry was strongly against it. Of late, her magical energy had been warped so she understood. Sometimes she would have plenty of energy while other times she would be drained.
She looked at the many lush green trees and saw beauty in the mundane. Small insects caught her eye as they crawled or flew passed her. She admired the little animals brave enough to nervously satisfy their curiosity. Smiling brightly, she walked and not once did she think about what she should do after this task was complete. Lost in a world of her own, the only thing accompanying her was nature.
She could still remember the time after Anna had woken up after Furry had marked her. A smile graced her lips as she was thrown back into her memories. She remembered where they had gone and how she had explained everything to the one she loved with all of her heart.
Year 2015 AD or 0000 BI…
Anna had been surprised to see Thomas. She smiled brilliantly upon awakening as tears began to form in the corners of her eyes in pure joy. Finally being with the one person she loved after seeing her disappear right before her eyes.
Thomas was pretty sure she had woven a strong shield around herself to hide her presence from everyone. It was only now she realised why Anna was still able to see her. “There are a few things I need to explain.” She said hesitantly as if she were a young school girl talking to the one she loved for the first time.
They were walking together in the garden. Flowers were blooming and everything was lush green or brightly coloured. It was a surreal place as if it shouldn't have been possible to exist. The air was clean and the sky was so blue. They could hear birds chirping excitedly as they walked further away from the house.
Anna smiled as a small blush remained on her face. She was holding Thomas's hand and felt almost giddy at being able to. She had been so afraid before that she had lost her forever. Her only conclusion was to meet her in the afterlife if there was one. “You sound pretty serious.” She commented lightly, slightly amused by Thomas's current mannerisms.
Thomas smiled at the statement. It was true she had never been serious around Anna before. She would always be funny and try to make everything as non-serious as she could. Her act would have been described as a work of art if someone were to see her. However, the only reason she acted like that was because she didn't have a care in the world when she was with Anna. Anna was everything to her and as long as they were together, she was happy to be carefree.
She looked deeply into green orbs of wonder and knew she had to explain quickly. Delaying from saying anything before to Anna, she felt it would lead to a much more serious conversation. She had wished to put it off, but the faction needed to be stopped. There would be little time to spend with Anna if she were to plan to stop them. “Anna, there is something you should know first.” She whispered diffidently as if she didn't want Anna to actually hear her.
“We have plenty of time here.” Anna replied calmly. She assumed Thomas needed some time to sort her thoughts. However, she could see her words had not soothed her.
“No we don't.” Thomas said in a sigh of self disappointment. She was going to break Anna's illusion. She could see Anna starting to prepare for the worst news ever. “Anna, you are truly alive. You're not dead. We aren't in heaven. This is my home in the mountains.” She explained in rush as if it would lessen the weight of her words.
Anna stopped walking. Her lower jaw hung open in shock. I'm alive. She looked deeply into blue eyes and saw the truth in them. Gently guided to a wooden bench, they sat side by side. How is it possible for her to be here with me when I saw her disappear right after the accident? What happened to what I did to my wrists? Surely there should have been a mark of some kind to show what I did.
Thomas gently held Anna's hands and began to rub her wrists with her thumbs. “I know why you did that to yourself. I am partly to blame. I should have tried to see you earlier. I found you in your apartment on your bed. I healed you with my magic and brought you here. You've been unconscious for two whole days.” She explained gently to reassure her.
“But…” Anna couldn't form any coherent sentences. She was in shock. Her mind was numbly trying to process what Thomas had said. How could it be possible? Thomas knows magic? She tried to breathe calmly to try and get her mind to function. Being slightly angry at Thomas for disappearing and only coming back now, her body wanted to lash out. She had been devastated and there had been no need for her to do what she did. “You led me to believe you were dead.” She whispered almost to herself as she voiced her thoughts.
“I wanted to tell you the truth about me, but I couldn't.” Thomas explained as she looked pleadingly into green teary eyes. “The two years we have spent together is because I was on vacation from my duties. The only way for me to return to my duties was to sever all ties that I had formed. I didn't want you to get hurt because of my responsibilities. There were people after me and they targeted you. They spotted me with you. I'm sorry.” She apologised sincerely as she searched for forgiveness from Anna.
Tears began to well in Anna's eyes. She was angry and sad. Could it be possible she doesn't really love me? Was I just a convenience? Am I just a plaything to her? She slowly stood up and moved away from Thomas. Her hands slipped away from her grasp and she could see those pleading eyes asking for forgiveness. How can I forgive her for putting me through all of this pain?
Anna abruptly turned on her heel and began to run. She didn't know where she was going, so long as it was as far away from Thomas as possible. Running in-between trees and through bushes. The only thoughts were to get away as fast as she could. Her heart was pounding as pain erupted through her chest. Even her head felt like it was going to explode from the tears she was trying to keep at bay. Tears muddled her vision as her sight was blurred. She kept running though, not knowing where she was going.
Thomas gave chase. She had to stop Anna before she hurt herself. Mentally slapping herself for phrasing what she needed to say the way she did, she only just realised how it all sounded.
She looked ahead and knew she wouldn't be able to catch up with the head start Anna had been given. There was no other choice, but to show her real colours to the one she loved and hoping she would be accepted. She shifted into a Black Panther and ran like the wind. Her muscles relaxed and contracted so quickly it was starting to create a burning sensation in her limbs. She ignored it all since she had to catch up to Anna. She needed to explain properly.
Her four paws barely touched the ground as she swiftly manoeuvred between trees and rocks. She was certain Anna had no idea where she was going. Her glowing blue eyes searched in front of her frantically to find her. It was only a matter of seconds before she spotted Anna's running back. She increased her speed and hoped she could make it.
Anna kept on running. Her lungs were burning and her muscles were screaming for her to stop. Her mind had gone numb with only the thought of escaping. She continued to blindly traverse through the trees and other plants. However, she suddenly felt airborne and her feet didn't feel like it was touching the ground. She desperately tried to clear her eyes as she felt like she was falling.
Suddenly, a warm body encircled her and she felt as safe as a kitten. She closed her eyes knowing she was protected. Knowing instinctively who had come to her rescue. It was still frightening to feel the motion of falling, but it was alright since Thomas was with her.
Thomas had shifted back into her human form to be able to grab Anna. She had used all of her momentum to try and propel them to the other side of the chasm. Her blue eyes calculated that there was a chance they would not make it. She willed her body to try and do something about it. Feeling magic surface onto her skin, she knew she was going to shift. She was unsure what she was going to change into since she knew the only form she could attain was a Black Panther.
She felt heat at her throat and pain as bones were breaking and reknitting. Her body was changing completely as she held onto Anna. She felt like she was on fire as her skin became leathery with scales and she was growing larger. Her mouth was forming into a protruding snout and she could feel sharp teeth with her tongue.
Anna could feel there was something going on. She didn't dare open her eyes since she greatly feared heights. However, she felt Thomas was becoming larger and her grip was loosening. Feeling scales instead of skin, she started to feel she was falling in earnest. She knew Thomas had lost her grip on her and had to open her eyes. She had to see Thomas.
Green eyes widened in alarm at seeing a giant black leathery scaled beast with wings trying to catch up to her. She could see sharp claws outstretched to try and grab her. Not knowing what she should be doing, she was frightened beyond anything imaginable. Right before her eyes was a creature she believed could only exist in a person's imagination. She stared up seeing blue glowing orbs and knew it could only be Thomas. There was desperation in those eyes. Her hand instantly shot up to try and shorten the distance between them. She didn't care that Thomas was a dragon or their conversation before. The only thing she cared about was trying to calm those blue eyes. She wanted to sooth Thomas's worry.
Thomas managed to grasp one of Anna's arms gently with her claw. She didn't want to accidentally crush Anna's limbs or her body. Soaring into the sky, she tried to reach the lip of the chasm. Her newly formed wings batted frantically to gain altitude after having to dive after Anna. Her blue eyes were glowing brilliantly to try and muster enough magic to maintain this new form. She felt her entire body rebelling against the effort she needed to get them both to safety.
She fought violently at her draining reserves and was able to get Anna back up onto solid ground. Her frantic mind was trying to warn her, but she didn't care. The only thing that mattered was Anna's safety. She flapped her wings to steady herself and look for a decent area to land. However, she had overused her body. Violently shifting back into her human form, she began to fall back into the deep chasm. Her blue eyes were glowing and a gentle smile graced her lips was all she could muster to the one she loved. Her body was totally useless and she fell like a rag doll through the air.
Anna stared intently at Rumeria. Her fingers were crossed to see if she would fall into her trap. Her own king and queen were well protected as she had placed her bishop into a checking position. The board had a few pieces left and she was going to try and beat her.
“There is a difference between your style and my style.” Rumeria commented amusedly as she thought about what she should move. Her green eyes scoured the chess board with practise. She was going to turn the tide in the game. Lifting her fingers, she delicately moved a measly pawn to block Anna's bishop. “You only think a couple of moves ahead. I have already planned from the start.”
Anna stared at the chess board unbelievingly as she cursed her eyesight for not being able to see the trap which she had fallen into. Katsi, Kayla and Hattie were all wide eyed by the clever trap Rumeria had created. They were all awed by the skills displayed in this difficult mind game.
“Do you want to continue?” Rumeria asked in a cocky voice.
Anna smiled and knocked her king over to forfeit the game. There was no point in continuing since the only conclusion for the chain of events which would occur would be the demise of her king. She slouched back into the couch clearly exhausted from the mind game. Her white eyes were glowing in appreciation at a good match. “You win.”
Rumeria smiled and started to put the pieces away. It had been a long time since she had played this game. The last person she had played it with was Hattie who was at the moment not the same person who she had played. Hattie was still a child and she had lots to remember if she were to become her true self.
“That was amazing. I think you could probably give Thomas a run for her money.” Kayla commented tiredly as she lounged back after intently watching the game. She smiled at her sister who was serving everyone tea. Her brown eyes glanced around the room and noticed how Furry was still not back from wherever it went. They all were not expecting Thomas for another two weeks as well.
Rumeria accepted the compliment with a smile. However, she doubted she could win against Thomas. It was a mind game after all and she didn't have the better mind. The fearsome woman was much more sophisticated and cunning. There was nothing she could do more than her. It was slightly frightening, but also relieving since she didn't have the weight of responsibility that her friend had.
She quickly put the packed chess board away and smiled as Hattie came over to sit on her lap. Still in her human form, the others of the household were not frightened by her. The only other person who knew her shifted form was Anna, but she had been kind not to bring it up at all.
“Rumeria, can you put my curiosity to rest? How do you know Thomas and Hattie?” Katsi asked inquisitively. She gently poured herself a cup and sat next to her sister who was already starting to doze off. Her curiosity about Hattie had been satisfied as she had already spoken to Thomas before she left. She was given the truth. Hattie is a part of her kind. Maybe she is one of them too.
Rumeria smiled. She had been waiting for Katsi to ask since she was the type who wanted to know while her sister just flowed with it. Cuddling Hattie protectively in her lap, she was glad the small girl was finally falling asleep after waking up very early in the morning and rousing everyone up. “I first met Thomas about ten years ago. She was subduing a creature and I was there to bandage her up. I have only recently met Hattie, but she shares the likeness of someone I know dear to my heart. Thomas asked if I could come and stay here for a while so she could assess the barrier around the valley. It's much homier now than it was before.” She explained lightly, knowing she had grazed over everything.
“Does that mean you're not like they are?” Katsi asked as she tried to get details.
“You could say I'm more akin to Furry.” Rumeria replied hesitantly.
“But you're human, aren't you?”
“Katsi, if you want answers you should ask Thomas. She will gladly answer any of your questions as long as she feels that you need to know them. However, right now, Rumeria is taking over Furry's position while they are both away. I suggest you try to practise patience for a while until she returns.” Anna interrupted a little heatedly as she gently closed her white eyes. She was still unsure as to what sort of relationship she had with Thomas, but for now Thomas was her protector.
“I guess you are right.” Katsi said, firmly chastised.
Anna felt Katsi rouse Kayla from sleep long enough for the both of them to make it to their rooms. She could feel green orbs staring at her intently and opened her eyes to see if there was a problem. She waited as Rumeria's eyes glowed briefly before returning to their sparkling green.
“Thank you for stopping her.” Rumeria said sincerely.
Anna nodded her head in acknowledgement. She knew the circumstance in which Rumeria was involved with Thomas and Hattie was their business. She had no right to butt in, let alone let someone else butt in. The past ten days had been lonely for her since Katsi and Kayla still refused her help to do the chores. They still believed she was a guest and would remain so until she left. She hadn't told them that she was really there to be protected by Thomas. Although she was still unclear as to what Thomas was protecting her from.
She felt Rumeria leave with Hattie and she remained alone in the living area. Thomas hadn't even given her a room of her own yet either. She had been staying in Thomas's room since the tall woman had insisted it would be alright. Their first night together in the same bed had been a very long one. She remembered how awkward it had been.
Ten days prior…
“Don't worry about it.” Thomas whispered caressingly.
Anna had made the mistake of not knocking or informing Thomas of her presence and had been given a surprising view. She had tried to run away after her mistake and knew she was going to be scolded. Her eyes were glued to the floor as she didn't dare look up at her. There were already strange feelings coursing through her body which she didn't understand. Now she had to see the beautiful woman in all of her glory. Her stomach felt like a fire was burning deep and she wanted to quench it, but she didn't know how.
Her chin was gently lifted and she stared into deep blue eyes which were not embarrassed one bit. She could already feel the blush covering her face since she couldn't get Thomas's perfect body out of her head. Having the need to run away or something, but her body remained where it was. She saw Thomas move forward and she was embraced in a tight comforting hug. The tension which had been growing within her was finally easing away and she was once more feeling perfectly safe in these strong arms.
By night, they were both in the same room. Thomas had insisted she come up with her so they could talk for a little bit. Katsi, Kayla, Rumeria and Hattie had already retired to their rooms. She was the only one left since she wasn't sure which room would be hers.
“You can stay here tonight. I will probably be leaving tomorrow morning anyways so you might as well use this room while I'm away. As you've seen before it has its own bathroom. Katsi and Kayla will make sure you have everything and Rumeria will protect you and Hattie while I'm away. Please keep Rumeria's secret safe. I don't want the girl's to be alarmed.” Thomas explained gently. She was patient and made sure not to ridicule Anna in any way.
“Okay.” Anna replied as her mind was preoccupied while she stared at the bed. She wondered how the sleeping arrangements would work. Looking into blue eyes, she could see a small glint in them. Once more, she was blushing from remembering Thomas's body and had to turn away briefly to calm her nerves.
“I don't bite. We can share the bed. It's big enough for both of us.”
Anna had obliged since the bed was big enough. They lied side by side and were both comfortable even though she doubted she would get any sleep. The person she had a crush on was sleeping next to her in the same bed. Thomas's body warmth wasn't helping her as her body wanted to curl up beside the woman. She wanted to be embraced.
Anna opened her eyes and didn't know when she had fallen asleep. She blinked her eyes multiple times to clear the sleep out of them, but she noticed she was being gently cuddled by someone. Somebody's body warmth was soothing her entire body. Her body wanted to just relax and fall back into sleep, but her mind came to a realisation of who was in bed with her. She looked up fearfully into a relaxed face. Thomas. I better move before she wakes up and scolds me for hogging the bed and cuddling her. She noticed her head was resting on Thomas's shoulder and she had her arm wrapped around Thomas's middle. How am I going to retrieve myself? She might be a light sleeper.
“Go back to sleep. It's still early.” Thomas whispered in a slight sleepy purr.
Anna had been shocked, but she couldn't fight her body which wanted to do exactly what Thomas had said. Her mind slowly turned off as she blissfully fell into a deep dreamless sleep. It's only for one night. Maybe she doesn't mind.
Anna could remember waking up that morning with Thomas gone. She had inquired about her whereabouts only to learn her tall protector had left to check on the barrier. Saddened by the disappearance of the woman, they wouldn't be able to talk for another three weeks at least.
She sighed heavily and finally decided she should retire to Thomas's room. There was really nothing she could do at the moment. She would just have to wait like the rest of them even though she was already missing Thomas dearly. Her nights sleeping had never been the same. She wished for that warm body to embrace her and make her feel safe and comfortable. Wanting Thomas to come back home.
She reached the bottom of the stairs and was about to ascend when she heard a strange scraping noise coming from the door. Alarm bells rang loudly in her mind and she knew she had to get to Rumeria and warn her. She quietly crept up the stairs and was only halfway up when the door swung open. Her eyes widened in shock to see a group of people barge in with weapons armed.
She tried to run up the stairs, but she was pinned down from behind by a great brute. Trying to scramble free, she wasn't even slightly successful. Somebody grabbed her leg and others pinned her arms behind her back. She was helpless.
Outside, under the cover of several trees, Rumeria sat with Katsi, Kayla, Hattie and Furry. They had all escaped the intrusion by going out of Hattie's window which faced the side of the house. The back and front doors had been barged open by a large group of people. Only Furry's short warning had gotten them away.
“I think Thomas will be mad when she finds out we forgot Anna.” Rumeria commented worriedly. Her green eyes looked at the group of people being led by an old man. They were raiding the house and it looked as though they were really organised. She breathed a slight sigh of relief for getting Hattie out safely.
“I didn't forget. I just didn't have enough time to get her since she wasn't in Thomas's room. She was still in the living room. It was either reveal all of us or leave her behind. I would rather keep surprise on our side. We will be able to get her later.” Furry growled angrily. It had been unsettled for many days trying to race back to the house without being seen. However, it only made it back long enough to get everyone upstairs out of the house. It didn't want to leave Anna behind since Anna was part of its pack. However, none of the others understood. “We need to warn Thomas, but she needs to finish her task.”
“Do you know when Thomas will be finished checking the barrier?” Katsi asked frightened. She had never had this happen before and was slightly in shock. The slight adrenaline running through her veins was only keeping her warm since she barely had time to grab anything besides a coat.
“It will be another five days at least. However, I fear she may take longer since she is a perfectionist to heart. She will want to make sure the barrier is fully intact. I can't believe that old man has persuaded so many people to follow him.” Furry said as disgust filled his voice at the old man.
“Who is he?” Kayla asked hesitantly, clearly scared by the entire ordeal.
“He is called Preacher. He goes around claiming to cleanse the world with the help of mercenaries. Of course all of his mercenaries are paid and it is the only reason they follow him. He realises it, but there is a lot of money to be had with bounty hunting.” Rumeria explained informatively as she made sure Hattie was alright.
“So what do we do now?” Katsi asked swiftly.
“Nothing until they reveal to us their plans.” Furry replied shortly.
Jacob stood next to old man Preacher. He watched as the house was being raided. There had been a bad feeling in his gut about this and he wondered why since Preacher had explained this was where the evil resided. He wanted to believe Preacher since he was a good person and would never do anything unjust.
“What if the evil thing isn't in there?” Langley asked enquiringly. She had shifted into her horse form so the three of them could catch up to the group after being extremely delayed by Allen and his people. Her grey eyes watched as several people she knew by their names barged into the front door.
“If they're not we could always lay a trap.” Mike suggested tiredly.
Preacher stayed silent as he watched the mercenaries take action. They had been restless at the human village and he had to get them to move on before the villagers got suspicious of them. It was alright for them to know they were there, but not alright if they knew about their plans. There was a possibility the villagers were in league with the evil creature so that they could gain protection.
“We will see shortly if we need to plan further.” Preacher replied ecstatically.
The group which had barged through the front door were coming back out. Orana escorted her group out and it looked like they were able to detain something. A smirk covered Tyler 's face as he pranced forward proudly. Gabriel was bringing up the rear while Leslie held what they had found within the house.
Leslie dropped the young woman gently onto the ground before Preacher and stepped back. He had carefully bound the woman with some rope after being knocked out by Tyler who was struggling to keep her still. He would have knocked the kid senseless for the uncalled for act, but Orana was there.
“This is the only person we found.” Orana reported melodiously as she looked her group over. No one was hurt and she still had to talk to her brother about his actions. She had seen the warning glare in Leslie's eyes. “Katarina is retrieving the second group out the back of the house. We'll all be meeting back up a day north from here as agreed beforehand.”
Preacher knelt and took a closer look at the young woman. He had been surprised that she had white hair and white eyes and initially thought the woman was old and aging. “She sure is a strange find. I can only feel a little bit of evil coming from her. However, the mass of evil energy emanating from the house is much greater. We'll keep her and hope she will lure out whatever else was living there with this woman.”
“One more thing I need to report is that there were more inhabitants besides this woman. It looked as though they escaped before we got here.” Orana looked around at the surrounding trees with suspicion before she turned on her heel and moved her group out. She gestured for Leslie to carry their burden since Tyler had been the one to knock her out. Rolling her eyes, she wasn't surprised by Preacher who was following Leslie closely.
Once Orana and her group were a fair distance away, Mike spoke up. “Are you going to say something to him? You do realise who we have captured right? There is no way I'm going to mess with that other beauty. They have really strong allies. I doubt this will be kept secret.”
“I heard she was the daughter of Allen, the clan leader.” Langley said, alarmed.
Jacob stood rock still. His heart was pounding at a million beats per minute and he knew what the right thing to do was. He felt with all of his being that this was something they shouldn't have meddled with in the first place. His green eyes looked at his two friends before they set out to follow their comrades. “We'll tell them once we reach the rendezvous.” Jacob said hurriedly.
“Won't that be too late?” Mike asked hastily.
“If Katarina has already left before Orana, then no it's not too late. If we were to tell Orana and not Katarina, we will be in for one long battle between the two of them. Do you really want that? I hope not since they will ask us to take sides.” Langley replied logically as she sped up to try and catch up with Orana and her group.
“Don't you think we should be more worried about Allen's clan?” Mike asked incredulously. He thought the clan of warriors would be more of a worry than two of the mercenaries. It was true that Orana and Katarina didn't see eye to eye, but surely it wasn't as worrisome as a hundred expertly trained warriors.
Jacob and Langley looked at each other before nodding their heads. It was a risk both of them were willing to take. It would all be cleared up once the young woman was awake and set free.
Jacob and his two friends caught up with Orana and her group. They stayed silent as they occasionally glanced at the young woman Leslie was carrying on his broad shoulder. He wanted to speak up about the huge mistake they were going to cause and wondered how he should approach Preacher. Knowing he was the most favoured among all of the mercenaries, but there were times he would rather be wrong than right.
He walked behind everyone else, including his two friends. Wanting to keep his distance, he could feel the pounding of his heart whenever he got too close to the white haired beauty. He even feigned that he was the rear guard even though it was clear Gabriel would have easily taken the job.
He didn't let on to the others about his true feelings. They would all just laugh at him, but he felt as though his family was being taken away by a group of brutes and he was helpless to stop them. He wanted to grab the young woman and take her back to the house where he was sure whoever had been protecting her would return. It was either the house or back to Allen's clan, but he favoured the house since there would be less questioning.
He knew who owned the house. Feeling the aura coming from the place, he distinctly placed it as Thomas's presence. He could even picture her angry face once she discovered her friend had been taken away. So deep in thought he was, he banged into Mike's back. Green eyes looked around in surprise to see everyone putting their gear down. It looked like they were taking a break.
“Everyone involved in the raid is tired.” Langley whispered concernedly as she placed her bag down. She had noticed Jacob was contemplative and was unaware of his surroundings. It was no surprise to Mike and her that Jacob walked right into Mike. They were glad they had noticed to easily cover up his bizarre behaviour, otherwise questions would be raised and it was too soon to give in to them.
“We are barely an hour away from the house.” Mike said informatively.
“Isn't that too close?” Jacob asked, a little anxiously. He was confused as to why they should stop so early. Looking about enquiringly, no one was going to answer him. Everyone was busy putting their packs down so they could rest. He eventually did the same and sat between his two friends. Still in view of the white haired beauty from where he was, he could see no harm was being done to her. It looked as though Leslie was taking good care of her even though she probably had been in the most uncomfortable position on his shoulder.
Orana stood up and walked over to her brother, Tyler. She had to get this talk over with and knew the group would feel better about it. Flicking her black hair to one side, she sat facing Tyler . Her silver eyes could see her younger brother deflating himself after the successful raid.
“Did I do something wrong?” Tyler asked softly like a small school boy.
Orana sighed heavily and nodded her head. “Did you really have to knock her unconscious back in the house? Yes, I know she was struggling. I know she probably hit you a few times, but you can't blame her for trying to get free. So do you think she actually deserved being clobbered in the head by you with your katana?”
Tyler looked to the ground and shook his head in defeat. He had got wound up in the mission again and done something he shouldn't have. Last time he was scolded for stealing a few items from the victim's house when the victim was dead. His sister had explained to him it was wrong for him to take it even if the person had died. She had explained how the family would feel if they knew he had done such a deed. It was clear he was still young and it showed in his actions.
“So when she wakes up, I don't want you to clobber her again. It was wrong and she wasn't even armed. It is not honourable to do something like that. So please next time think before you act. Don't let your anger mar your actions or judgement.” Orana explained gently.
“Okay.” Tyler replied like an infant. He watched Orana leave his side with a disappointed look in her eyes. Crestfallen to see that look in her eyes, he could feel it heavily within. He would try to make it up to her in some way. Carefully putting those thoughts away, he began to sharpen and clean his sword. It was the only thing which would calm him and get him to relax after the adrenaline rush.
Orana walked past Leslie and whispered for his ears only. “I sorted it out. He won't do it again. I hope you will be able to forgive him once more for his childishness.” She left his side and went to her own pack.
Leslie looked at Orana for some time before shrugging his shoulders. There had been many times he had disapproved of Tyler , but knew he was young and still learning the ways of a good mercenary. Sometimes he would think Tyler would be better off joining Katarina's group who never thought of consequences. However, he knew Tyler could never be that ruthless. He would never stoop down to their level if Orana and his colleagues had anything to do with it.
To be continued…
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