My plans of sleeping were blown out of the water shortly after I’d drifted off to sleep. A flurry of birds shot out of a bush and then a crash into my wall of air. I jumped a mile and fell over startled. The rest boys huddled behind me. Larry and Patrick weren’t the bravest of them, but at least they trusted me.
It took a while for the lump in the afternoon shadows rights it’self so we could make out his face and features. He looked at me, and at the boys behnd me and he tried to run but when he looked back he directed our attention to that which chased him, a pair of lepoards stalked around the four of us. I dropped my wall of air and walked towards the boy.
It was the same scraggly boy I’d seen before in the cave, and around the fire in the Therian camp. Why were they chasing him. I walked slowly past him and set him behind me as the other boys crept behind me. “I won’t let them hurt you.” I said quietly. “Why are they chasing you?”
“I’m their sacrifice. Just as you are.”
“Wait, what?” I threw my hands up in the air and a wall of air and earth formed around the four of us. “They kill their own kind.”
“Blood for blood.” He said with a small smile. “You saved me before, your boys were supposed to kill me. I was left for them to do so we could take revenge. It is how it has been done for generations. I was chosen by lottery.”
I sighed. The Venatori weren’t the only brutal race. “What’s your name?”
“Faelen.” He frowned, “What are you?”
“Well, first of all my name is Nox. And I’m Magnus.”
He shook his head, “You don’t smell like any Venatori I’ve ever smelled.”
I didn’t know if that as a compliment or an insult. I knew I smelled like a campfire, but I was pretty sure he didn’t mean that.
The two leopards crashed and clawed at my wall of air. I shouted. “I don’t want to hurt you. I will to protect these boys. All of these boys. Kids aren’t sacrifices.”
There was a growl from the far edge, and then I saw Matt and Tim coming towards us. A mountain lion burst through the trees and then shifted into man form in one fluid movement. It was interesting watching a powerful Alpha do that. Adrian and Dom had never shifted in front of me before. Most shifts take a few minutes. But I could feel the power flowing off of Darwynn.
He didn’t turn to look at us. “I got them.”
I dropped my wall of air and the four boys gathered together and Matt pointed in a single direction. They all seemed to defer to him. The rest of the boys seemed to afraid to do much else. Some Venatori hunters they’d make, I thought to myself. The three boys all started off at a run through the trees in the direction Matt had said. He stared at me and I at him. Darwynn growled, “Go.”
Matt grabbed by arm and pulled me towards the way the others ran. We ran until we found Phil, who was also being rescued by Dylan’s team and the rest of my boys. Jerry was proudly walking towards me. He didn’t see that the six of us were out of breath from exertion. We made camp early and every single one of the boys huddled around me for support. No one erected tents, they all slept in a ring around me, the boys on the edges opting to lay closer to their fellow student than they normally would have.
I wove two walls, the out one was just a ring of fire, the second was a wall of air. The visible fire put the boys at ease, but it also insure I wasn’t going to sleep either. Last thing I needed was to lose control of it. But the boys were my priority. They didn’t seem to care that I had the lone werewolf boy with me. He cowered against, but it was Matt who was talking to him, comforting him. That boy was going to be a born leader, if he could just stand up for himself.
Dylan’s group had faired only slightly better than Trent’s. They managed to not scatter, but they had injuries. Thankful for Brock’s good thinking as he ushered the boys into an old tree that was rotten on the inside. They had only a small opening to defend. When Jerry had arrived, they had shot the two wolves that had them cornered. They ran off when I showed up. Apparently throwing fireballs is not something they like.
Faelen rocked against me. Matt had wrapped him up in a blanket for warmth and comfort. I’m going to comfort those who will let me. And rest – sleep won’t happen tonight.