All the boys slept late except for Matt and Faelen. They helped me get food ready for the rest of them. Faelen kept staring at me from lowered eyes. Everytime I’d catch him he’d lower his eyes and Matt would laugh.
Matt sat down next to the wolf and whispered to him. But he knew I could hear. “Just ask him what’s on your mind. He doesn’t bite. At least not unless you ask him.”
I tried not to laugh at the overheard comment as I boiled water for coffee. I needed coffee. I needed coffee bad.
The blue eyed wolf asked shyly, “What are you?”
I didn’t have a different answer than before. “I’m half Venatori, half human. I’m Cesari, a Magnus that can bend all four elements.”
He shook his head, “You smell like a wolf.”
I smiled. “I’ve been told that before. I’m part of a pack at home. I guess that’s what you smell.”
“You smell like something else too. Something dangerous.”
Matt laughed. “He smells like fire.”
Faelen nodded. “That’s it.” He looked to Matt,”What is he?”
Matt shrugged, “He’s Nox. He doesn’t need another explanation.”
I laughed. “I like that.”
Matt grinned, “I thought you might.”
Darwynn was sitting at the edge of camp watching everything. The boys all woke up slowly at the smell of coffee. And I had to make two more pots before we were all done with breakfast.
I sat down with them all around me. “Dylan was supposed to find us. My priority is you guys. My gut says we leave back to Boulder now. But leaving Dylan and Michaela out here by themselves leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So I’m leaving it up to a vote. We aren’t going after the therians. We’ll send up hunters, but I doubt HQ will send anyone until next year.”
When I called for a find Dylan and Michaela they all raised their hands except Faelen and Darwynn. So I nodded, “You need to follow my instructions. This is not a democracy. I know some of you don’t like me, but I do this for a living. Mick and Dylan don’t have trackers, they could be anywhere. But I think they went to the therian camp to do something stupid.”
Darwynn moved closer to the group with a towel wrapped around his body. “I’ll scout ahead, see if I can find their trail.”
I nodded. “Alright.” He took that as a dismissal and he shifted in front of the boys. Every single one of them jumped and then stared at the mountain lion looking back at them with brown eyes. I dropped the wall and put ot the ring of fire and Darwynn growled which made the boys jump again as he took off in the direction of their camp.
I looked to Faelen, “Can you find your way home from here?”
He nodded. “Yes. But I don’t want to go.”
Matt wrapped his arm around the other boy and smiled, “We won’t let anything happen to you.”
We all heard a few of the boys grump under their breathes, “I ain’t helping that fleabag.”
But I nodded and reassured Faelen. “You are under my protection. No one will hurt you. Not here not ever.”
And so we packed up and started following Faelen through the woods. Matt walked beside him, and I flaked him on the other side. Off to find the wizard the wonderful wizard of oz…. Sage you are so on my mind.