When I woke up I had only a few hours of sleep. And then I started for the first boy who was closest. He hadn’t moved since the last time I had checked. Which could be good, or very bad. And when I got there it was very bad. So fucking bad. The problem with the dots, you don’t know who is who. It’s just tracking the location. It was meant to prevent favortism.
When I got there, I fell to my knees beside the shredded body. I didn’t need any identifying marks to know who it was. His dirty blonde hair was so like Jason’s I just collapsed. I couldn’t even cry. The farm boy I had watch grow up lay in a pile of blood stained clothes, and ripped apart by animals.
Chris was a good boy. How the fuck was I going to tell his parents? Jason? Oh yeah, we could have saved him. But the Venatori decided to keep us here to die. I can hear Jace yelling at me. Why the fuck didn’t get him out of there? Jace is gonna hate me.
I don’t know how long I sat there kneeling on the ground staring at the body. I didn’t even hear the footsteps behind me. There was a firm hand on my shoulder and I waited for the claws to descend upon me. I knew who was behind me just by the smell.
But they never fell. Darwynn spoke softly, “I’m sorry. I tried to stop the ritual. But once it’s set in motion, I have no control.”
“Blood must have blood, it is the law, the nature of our world. You understand.”
I shrugged his hand off my shoulder. “Blood must have blood. But it doesn’t need the blood of a thirteen year old who’s only ambition in life was to see who could grow the biggest fucking pumpkin.”
I stood up and wrapped my fallen family in air and I stood vigil over his body while it burned encased in the pocket of air I made. I would take him home to his family. He would have a Venatori burial. I wasn’t going to leave his body alone and untended a moment longer.
The fire burnt hot and quick in the oxygenated bubble and by 10:30 I was ready to go. Darwynn never left my side, and he didn’t say another word to me. My delay had cost me, but by staying in place I also gained an advantage. Darwynn spoke softly, “There are more of you about.”
I glanced down at my screen and saw five dots in a search formation. I yelled. “Over here.” All five boys crashed through the brush at the sound of my voice. They looked dirty and could use a shower, but I hugged each one of them. Matt frowned. “Who’s that?”
“Chris.” I said softly. He wrapped me in a hug but said nothing more. I put my arm around his back. “We can mourn later. Right now, we have to get the rest of the boys.”
Jerry nodded. He handed me his compass and his phone. “I’ve been tracking everyone.”
I smiled and showed him my app. “How many phones are working?”
I gave each of the boys the app, and handed Jerry the compass back. Mike said, “I think we should split up.”
Darwynn nodded. “I agree. Let me help.”
I shook my head. “Your people are killing my boys.”
“I’m going to help one way or the other.” He said flattly.
Matt interrupted. “He’s right Nox. We need all the help we can get. I’ll go with him. You take Larry. Jerry, Mike and Steve will stick together. This way each group has a tracker device and we can find you.” Matt pointed to the first and closest dot, “You go here, take care of the body. You are the only one of us who can bring them back for a proper burial even if it’s already done with fire. Jerry and his group will go to this one. It’s closest and they will have more numbers with Dylan’s team. He and I will go after this one, here. And when you are done, you go for the farthest one. We’ll all meet you with him.”
The rest of the boys were nodding in agreement. Darwynn was smiling brightly and he looked to me for the final okay. I sighed. “Fine. If any of you get dead I’ll find a way to bring you back to life and kill you myself.”
Matt grinned and wrapped his arms around me and whispered. “I’ll be okay. I know you are freaking out over Chris.”
“You better be.” I didn’t bother whispering. I looked at Darwynn, “Anything happens to this one, and you will find that the incredible hulk has nothing on me.”
And they went off in their respective directions while I finished with Chris’ remains. Then Larry and I were off to the next body.