Council of Elders Ch. 02

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Amateur

I probably should have mentioned in the Prologue that sex would only come after a little bit of character and plot. I won’t just have my characters have sex with no apparent reasoning behind it.

Enjoy the show XOXO

***

Fenris McAgnus watched as his father rose from his position on the floor. The clan’s Alpha had just suffered the effects of a mental shockwave and his head was still aching from the assault. Angus McAgnus was a giant of a man, he stood eight feet tall and his shoulders were as wide as a doorframe. Years of selective breeding with other clans had made the McAgnus Pack into a group of titans that intimidated their foes even as humans.

“What the bloody hell was that?” despite living in the deepest reaches of the Siberian Tundra, Angus had maintained his deep Scottish accent. “It felt like my bloody head was going to fall off.”

“I don’t know Pa,” replied Alistair, his eldest son and heir to the Alpha’s title. His years of seclusion had robbed him of his father’s inflection, and like all of Angus’ children, he spoke in the same tones as his mother who hailed from the southern states of America. “But Fenris seems to be fine.”

“I saw him talking to himself just as you were standing up Pa.” Cried Daniel, the middle brother. “Maybe that thing that happened to us made him go crazy.”

“Is that true boy?” the way he said the word made it sound like an insult, but Fenris knew that despite his disappointment his father still loved him. “Are you crazy?”

“No.” Fenris said blandly. “I am not crazy.”

“That’s probably what a crazy person would say.” Added his older sister Keira with a derisive snort. “He wouldn’t know he was crazy.”

“For Christ’s sake! I’m not crazy.” Fenris shouted. The words were laced with power and authority he had never had before, it made the other werewolves back away slightly.

Caesar’s projection grinned broadly. He had detected the untapped magic at Fenris’ core and had tainted the boy’s voice with power that drove fear into those who heard it.

“Okay lad, I didn’t mean to upset you.” Angus stepped closer, feeling foolish for being momentarily afraid of his runt son. “Fine, you’re not crazy.”

Fenris relaxed his stance and smiled apologetically. He didn’t want to fight with his family, but sometimes they really got on his nerves. His two brothers were constantly teasing him about his comparatively small stature, but their teasing protected him from other would-be bullies. They were the two dumbest morons in the mountain with barely half a brain cell between them, but they were friendly and fun to be around. His sister was a different matter; she was beautiful and tall both in human form and as a werewolf, but she was also vain and cruel. She was the bride-to-be of Apollo, the Alpha of another pack, and this politically arranged marriage made her extremely bitter. She yearned for freedom and rebelled at every opportunity despite being spoiled rotten by their doting father.

Ever since their mother’s death, Angus had done his best to fill both parental roles at once. He had tried to be at once compassionate and stern and Keira had taken advantage of him many times. The three boys offered few problems other than when girls had entered the equation, but Fenris had never troubled him even once.

Angus hauled himself onto a tall rock in the cave they lived in and blew into the great horn that stood on it. The great blast shot through the network of caves and soon many horns could be heard at once. The echoing noise told every inhabitant of the mountain that there was to be a meeting of the whole pack. The Alpha left his perch and the five of them trudged to the large cavern at the centre of the mountain.

***

Owen honked his horn at the caravan that was taking up both of the motorway lanes in front of him. The driver stuck his middle finger out of the window and refused to go any faster than the snail’s pace he had been moving at for the last half-hour. He laid his head against the steering wheel and was given a jolt when he set off the horn again. This time the driver of the caravan threw open the front door and stomped out and over to Owen’s car. The man was short, even shorter than Owen’s 5’8″ and he had the belly of a man whose only exercise was the short walk to the fridge to grab a beer. Owen wound down the window and poked his head out.

“If you honk me one more fucking time I’ll-“

“You’ll what? Breathe on me?” Owen had no time for bullies, especially ones with such awful BO. “Come on; just drive a little bit faster. You’re about 40 under the legal limit so why not speed things up?”

“I’ll drive at whatever fucking speed I like you little shit. I’ve had my license a hell of a lot longer than you.” The driver spat.

“Seriously sir, there’s a back log of cars for about half a mile because no one but motorbikes can get around you.” Owen was fighting a losing battle to remain calm in the face of such irritation.

“The day I let casino oyna some snot nosed kid tell me how to drive-” The man stopped talking suddenly and paled.

Unbeknownst to Owen, his normally dark brown irises had begun to glow a deep blood red. The colour spread until it filled each eye with blazing malevolence. The terrified caravan driver turned and practically ran to his vehicle before slamming the door behind him and accelerating rapidly. Owen raised an eyebrow and wound up the window. There were honks and cheers from behind him as other cars began to start their engines. Owen did the same and his journey continued.

***

Malus and Oberoth sat in uncomfortable silence at the triangular table of their dining room. They both stared sightlessly at the vacant seat by their side and mourned the death of their companion. Never again would they hear his terrible jokes or his cackling laughter. However necessary his murder had been, they could never forgive themselves for committing it.

Just as he was about to bite into his suddenly tasteless steak, Malus felt the battle scars on his arms begin to burn. Each member of the Triumvirate experienced their visions in a different way. Caesar had seen the future while Oberoth heard the future and Malus spoke the future. The words poured from his mouth in a stream of golden vapour.

“Eyes of red and skin of night. Darkness spread and Pit’s delight. All are dead and clad in white. Heart of lead, till cured by light.”

The verse was etched permanently into his memory, as were all his visions. Oberoth looked at him with sorrow as he realised that his friend’s death had done nothing to end the terror that faced them.

“What does it mean?” Malus asked with a quaver in his voice.

“It means we have failed. Even by taking the most drastic of actions, we have averted nothing. The Hunter’s involvement will not change our fate. The end races toward us as swiftly as it did before.” The stone of Oberoth’s face was incapable of forming tears, but he still wept softly. “There is nothing for us to do but prepare for what is to come.”

With that, he stood and left the room. Malus followed him as he swept down the corridor that branched away from all the others. The dark passage would have been impossible to navigate for those who relied on sight, but for the two Elders it was a route they had memorised by touch alone. Oberoth held one stone hand against the wall, feeling for a change in the texture. He found a patch of smoothness amongst the rough stones. He pressed against it at pushed lightly until the whole section swung away.

The new room was equally black but for a large triangular obelisk rising from the centre. Oberoth stepped toward it and his hand danced in a complicated arc that drew patterns of fire in the air. A dome around the pillar flashed into visibility and just as quickly dissipated.

“Are you sure about this?” asked Malus meekly. “If we do this, there is no turning back. Our decision must be final.”

“There is no other way. I am certain of it. We must protect the citadel at all costs.” Oberoth held out his hand and Malus took it. They stepped through the place the invisible dome had stood and each felt a frisson of magic course through them.

“It will not be as powerful as with Caesar present.” Said Malus as if to convince the golem to change his mind. “It may not be strong enough.”

“We know that it won’t be strong enough. We just need to have more time.” Oberoth moved forward again and let go of Malus.

Malus was tempted to flee, but knew that he had to do this final task before death. He watched as Oberoth walked to one of the three sides, turned his back to the stone and ever so gently fell backwards. His body seemed to melt into the pillar so that he vanished. In the space where he had fallen through there was just a glyph bearing his name and species. The room thrummed with power and light shot skywards from the tip of the pyramid. The light travelled directly up, through the underground sanctuary until it burst out into the open. It formed a sphere that stretched in every direction under the ground. It encased the entire subterranean city in a bubble of golden energy.

Malus prepared himself and stepped forward. He turned his back to a side of the pyramid and fell back into it. He was absorbed by the stone and his magic added to that of Oberoth in the giant shield that protected the seat of arcane power in the world. The barrier was immensely powerful and not even light could pass through. The massive reserves of magic that both Elders possessed would keep the shield strong for hundreds of years, hopefully long enough for the danger to pass and for the citizens to resurface and repopulate the shattered land. It wasn’t anywhere near as powerful as it would have been if the full strength of all three Elders had been available, but it was the best they could do. The two Elders had sacrificed themselves and channelled their power into the obelisk to canlı casino save the people they ruled.

***

“No!” whispered Caesar as he felt the other two Elders deaths even from so far away. “Those idiots! They aren’t nearly powerful enough to maintain the barrier against the Pit.”

“What idiots? What pit?” Fenris asked, shocked at the anguish in Caesar’s voice.

High above them, on a raised platform from which he could see the assembled clan members, Angus McAgnus spoke to the crowd.

“The pain we have all recently experienced is due to the death of Caesar, the Werewolf Elder of the Triumvirate of Blood.”

Cries of horror filled the cavern as the pack grieved for the loss of their true leader. Despite their hatred for the outside world, the Hunters had a huge amount of respect for the werewolf who had championed their rights. He had done more for his kind than any other werewolf in history, every pup learned of his exploits from an early age.

“You’re THE Caesar?” asked Fenris in astonishment. He felt so stupid, he should have realised that the old man had to be an Elder; no one else could possibly have enough power or skill to detach his mind from his body and survive.

“Yes, I am. But don’t make a big deal about it. Certainly don’t go around telling people that I’m floating around in your head, they already think you’re insane.” The old man had a benign smile twitching at his lips and gave a comical bow. Fenris had to stop himself from giggling at the sight.

“We have also received word that the remaining Elders have sealed themselves inside the ancient barrier. They had gathered representatives of each clan apart from ours before doing so as well as bloodsuckers and other crypto’s from around the world. Last we heard, there’s a great evil on the rise that threatens to take over the world and destroy it.”

At this, the crowd began to beat their chests and howl loudly, some going so far as to start to change in anticipation of the hunt. One werewolf next to Fenris began to salivate at the mere thought of violence.

“That’s right brothers and sisters, our job is to hunt this thing down and kill it. Then the barrier will deactivate and the other werewolves will be freed from captivity.”

“Who will be the first to track the monster?” Hundreds of voices clamoured to be the first to taste blood.

Suddenly and without warning Caesar seized control of Fenris’ body. It lasted only for a few seconds before Fenris retook control, but those brief moments were enough for a voice to be heard over every other in the room.

“I will!” declared Fenris’ traitorous vocal chords. A brief muttering passed through the crowd but when Angus looked proudly into his son’s eyes and gave a nod of ascent, they began to roar with excitant.

Fenris was lifted up by the nearest werewolves and as he was hoisted into the air, he could see the impressed looks on each of his brother’s faces. His sister’s expression remained stoically spiteful but a small twitch in her left cheek showed her true feelings. Fenris began to get excited as the exaggerated scent of testosterone flooded the cavern and everyone howled as one.

***

Owen had stopped at a roadside pub that doubled as a hotel. He parked his car, walked in, and was immediately bombarded with the sounds of merriment that filled the ground floor. He was pulled into the bar by a plump girl in her twenties who seemed to fit the description “tavern wench” rather accurately.

“A’right my lover.” She said in a deep Devonshire accent. “What can I get fer you?”

“Ummm…” Owen was rather shocked at this friendly greeting. Londoners were not exactly horrible, but they had a reputation for being antisocial. “I’ll just have a coke please.”

“Gosh, you sound posh!” she guffawed. “You from that London?”

“Ummm… Yes? Yes. Yes I am.” He was unsure if the cackling followed by the smacking of her thigh meant that she was pleased or that she pitied him. “I’m going to university in Plymouth.”

“Oh! My cousin goes there. She’s doin’ Lit-rit-cher.” She seemed to automatically assume that I knew this cousin, even though there were hundreds of students on campus.

“So, um, can I have a coke please?” Owen was becoming increasingly uncomfortable in the presence of so much focussed attention.

“A’course you can, my lover!” The girl swept off in the general direction of the bar before disappearing amongst the throng of people.

A tall man next to him fell of his stool right on top of Owen who struggled to pull himself and the inebriate off the floor. The effort seemed too much for him at first, but suddenly he felt strong enough to lift ten times the man’s weight and he practically threw him into the air as he achieved a vertical position. The movements were not lost on a beady eyed bearded man in a leather jacket and chinos. He looked at Owen and smiled with dirty rotting teeth.

The man stood up and walked to the exit chuckling darkly. The kaçak casino old man trudged through the mud to Owen’s car and pointed a grubby finger at it. A thin stream of dust blew from his finger into the exhaust pipe and clogged it, making it impossible to drive safely. He returned to the bar and struck up a conversation with another regular, never taking his eyes off Owen’s face.

For his part, Owen was thoroughly enjoying himself. He had gotten over his fear of the amiable nature of the people that now surrounded him. They asked him all sorts of questions about where he was going, what he was doing and whether he liked Devon so far. His answers grew less and less vague as he became more comfortable. He was being drawn in by their charm and before he knew it Owen was losing a drinking game to a man who seemed like he was baptised in vodka.

Hours blinked past and while the rain had stopped, Owen was still sitting on a stool at the bar. He finally looked at the watch strapped around his wrist and groaned. 8pm! That was far too late to start driving again; he would probably fall asleep at the wheel. He had the distinct impression that he was also quite a bit over the legal limit for alcohol.

“D’ya think I could stay the night?” he slurred at the barmaid who blushed fiercely.

“A’course you can m’boy!” cried Mr Bass, the proprietor, slapping him on the back.

Owen payed for a room and practically crawled up the stairs. He reached the landing and used the key to enter his room. He didn’t notice the man in the black beard who had followed him up. He didn’t see the man pick up a flower vase. He fell to the floor as the man crashed the vase against his head.

***

Searing pain coursed through his entire body, but he couldn’t move. Owen was strapped to a wooden table carved with intricate symbols. The metal cuffs that secured his hands and feet were also covered in tiny symbols that seemed to glow in the sepulchral gloom. There was a fire in the corner of the room and the flames were licking at the walls as though trying to find a way out.

“Hello?” he shouted. “Is anybody there?”

“Don’t bother. This room is sealed. No one can hear you.” The voice came from behind him, just out of sight. It was raspy and a shiver passed through him as the sound washed over him.

“Who are you? Where am I? And where the FUCK is my t-shirt?” Owen was bare-chested and his firm muscles were straining as he tried to free himself.

“I’m afraid I can’t answer all of your questions at the moment. But soon, you’ll understand. Very soon.”

The man entered his field of vision as he stepped over to the fire. He was carrying something in his right hand. As he placed the end of the object in the fire, the flames turned green and the heat in the room intensified. The bearded man turned back towards Owen and now he could see what he was holding. It was a branding iron, but he couldn’t make out the symbol. It was as though the shape changed as he looked at it.

“Please, sir, you don’t have to do this!” He screamed desperately.

“This is going to hurt.” The man drew closer and as Owen watched in total horror, he brought the brand down on Owen’s stomach.

Owen yelled as the torturous agony filled his body. Every fibre of his being seemed to focus on the burning. Then, suddenly, the pain vanished. The mark on his stomach seemed to tingle rather than burn. Skin changed from milky white to stark black. Eyes lost iris, pupil and sclera and became pits of dark red. Teeth sharpened and grew to fill a lipless mouth. Ears changed from round and flat to curved and pointed, like those of a bat. The nose all but disappeared, becoming two slits that fluctuated with each breath. A stag’s antlers burst from the sides of the Daemon’s head. The body lengthened and thickened, every sinew stretching to cover the monstrous carapace. Feet changed into talons that dug into the floor of the chamber. Tiny gaping mouths opened in the palms of the Daemon’s hands, filled with rows of razor sharp teeth. The fingers transformed into claws that ached to tear and rip after so many years of captivity.

The creature broke through the restraints of the table as though moving through thin air. It stood and as it moved forward, the shed skin of its host fell to the floor behind it.

The bearded man stepped back and fell to his knees, a look of joy on his face.

“Master!” he whispered. “Master, is it you?”

“Indeed it is. Where am I? What year is it?” The voice emanated from the thing that was once Owen. It echoed with the inexorable power of death. The Daemon seemed to struggle with the words, its mouth trying to shape the syllables of a language it didn’t know.

“My Lord! We are in Britain; it has been some two thousand years since your last visit to this world.” The man was simpering, nearly begging for praise. “There are still those of us who worship you my Lord.”

“And yet it took two millennia to resurrect me. I am disappointed. Did I not teach you the lore of magic? Did I not provide instructions?”

“But my lord, the library at Alexandria was flooded and all the knowledge you left to us was lost. We have been forced to use petty magic thus far.”

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