Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 16

Deep in the forest, a lone Delphin sat on the bank of a quickly moving mountain stream. Two years ago, she found her life being turned upside down again, and had sometimes questioned if it was all worth it. The death of her Guardian, then the death of her love’s brother in the same day was still quite hard for her to handle. It’s not that she wasn’t familiar with death, she just wasn’t so used to it any longer. “This should have ended peacefully,” she said to the forest.

“Snowhawk?” a male voice called out. “Where are you, love?”

“Nowhere far,” she replied. With a tired sigh, she laid down on the cool, soft grass.

From the underbrush emerged a pale-furred Lupino. “Are you ok, love?” he asked quietly, kneeling next to her.

“I’m fine, Janus.”

“You’ve been awfully silent the past few days.”

“Just been doing a lot of thinking.”

“Care to share your thoughts?”

“He’s two, now,” she said after a pause.

Janus took a minute to realize what Snowhawk was talking about. “Having some regrets?”

“Just wondering what it would be like. I’ve had three children and not been able to raise any of them.”

He sat down beside her and lightly rubbed her arm. “I’m sorry. I took you away from them.”

“No. I could have left at any time.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“What would I have gone back to? Even though Legacy is gone, I’m sure he some how manage to plant the idea of rebuilding the Dephin Society into Nytehawk’s head. And she’s part mule, I swear,” She sighed and turned on her side, facing him. “This will pass soon enough. It always has before.”

He nodded slowly and gently stroked her cheek. “Please don’t forget I’m always here for you.”

She looked up at him, then sat up, twisting around, and wrapped her arms around him. “Of course not.”

He wrapped his arms around her and felt her nuzzle him. Then, he felt a moist warmth on his fur. At first, he thought she’d injured herself, a not uncommon occurrence, then felt her faintly trembling. His bird was crying. “Snowhawk, tell me what’s wrong.”

“Just feeling– old, I guess.”

“You’re not thinking about giving everything up, are you?” he asked, his voice sounding decidedly concerned.

“No. I wouldn’t live through a third time.”

Janus never really said anything to that, just hugged her tightly. Then he gave her a small lick on her neck and nuzzled her softly. Eventually, she fell asleep in his arms. “My poor bird,” he silently whispered.

*********

Nytehawk sat on her balcony railing, looking to the sky. She hadn’t seen her cousin in more than two years. Yet, she was reminded of her everyday by the two year old child that scampered about her home. Valerian didn’t remember Snow or Legacy, but he had been told the general story. His mother was with a man other than his father. His father was dead. He was with his aunt because his mother wanted to protect him.

Nyte looked back to her feathered wings and sighed. “So much has changed since this all began almost four years ago.” Four years since she had been recaptured. Almost three since she’d been set free. She idly wondered where they would all be if Snow had left Janus and if Legacy hadn’t tried to kill her.

She looked up as she heard Hunter behind her. “Did he finally go to bed?” she asked, referring to Valerian.

“Yeah. He’s as stubborn as Snow– and you,” Hunter replied, nuzzling her and wrapping his arms around her.

“Comes by it honestly, I guess.”

“Will you ever tell him the full story?”

“Dunno. If he asks, I will. I just don’t want him thinking Snow or Legacy were ‘bad.’ They were both in a really awkward situation. And Snow was so doubtful of their relationship at the end. They both made mistakes Unfortunately, Legacy died because of it. I don’t want Valerian to blame his mother for Legacy’s death, or him to blame his father for her not being around.”

“Is that really what happened?” a young voice asked from the doorway.

“Valerian,” Nyte said quietly. “Yes. That’s pretty much it.” Hunter moved off to the side, sitting in a chair nearby.

“Do you think there’s a chance I might be able to see my mom?”

“I’m sure she’d love to see you, and to see what a handsome young man you’ve become. But I don’t know if her mind or her heart could handle it. Its getting closer to the anniversary of Legacy’s death, and the birthdays of her other two sons.”

“I have two brothers?”

“Half-brothers, but yes. If they’re still alive, the youngest is about ten years older than you. She got to name them, but not raise them since they were taken away from her after a few days by our first owner. She never handled that well.” Nyte looked off. “Tried to kill herself on several occasions, both directly and indirectly, until Janus got us. Then she was trying to kill him for the first few days. She hated everyone. Became bitter and aggressive. Something happened between them, never found out what, but she just, stopped. What developed between them was more than a physical relationship. Some sort of screwed up form of love, I guess. She had refused to show it, he didn’t know what it was. But there it was.”

“If he loves her, then why is he keeping her from her family?”

“I don’t think it’s just Janus keeping her away. I’d guess she’s hiding. Trying to get things sorted out, to rest, to recover.”

“Was– Is she strong?”

“One could say that, though she’d never admit it. Had she been prepared when she got pregnant with you, and had she not been under so much stress, her pregnancy wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. Between Janus capturing me, her doubts about Legacy, then being basically captured herself she certainly wasn’t in the best of situations. Though she didn’t think to actually use what time she could rest for resting. That was her spirit, and something they could never break. She was so stubborn, and so scarred from the slavers trying to beat it out of her, she was pretty much given away.”

“Did Janus ever hit her?”

“No. He never laid a hand on either of us, even the times she would attack him. That’s not to say she went unscathed. She’d go on these missions. The last one nearly cost her her life. I’d say she still wears the ribbon to cover the scar on her neck.”

“What happened after that?”

“She healed for a few days, then escaped, taking me with her.”

“How old is she now?”

“Twenty-three.”

Valerian blinked and yawned. “Hey,” Hunter finally said, waking up from his light nap. “I thought you were supposed to be in bed.”

Valerian grinned innocently and gave a soft chuckle.

“Hunter’s right, dear. Go back to bed.”

The young one nodded and, with another yawn, wandered back to bed.

“Snow would be proud of him,” Hunter idly mentioned. “And of you for doing such a wonderful job of raising him.”

“I would hope so. I just wish she could have raised him. That’s what should have happened.”

Hunter slowly walked to her and hugged her. “I know, but apparently, Fate didn’t agree.”

*********

Two weeks later, Snowhawk stepped out of the shower, quickly wrapping a towel around herself. She wiped the condensation off the mirror, looking at herself but gasped at her reflection. The Delphin in the mirror wasn’t her. Her pale fur had darkened in hue, but she was shocked most by her mane and tail. The color had changed to a pale blue tinted with lavender. Her legs went weak and she collapsed to the floor, falling against the wall with a dull thud.

The sound of her fall brought Janus running into the bathroom. “Sn– Snowhawk! What happened, love?!” he worriedly asked as he kneeled next to her. She was too stunned to speak. Janus shifted to Lupino form and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly as tears began to stain her fur. “Snowhawk, love, what happened?” he quietly asked her again.

“… I’m getting old.” she near whispered after a few moments.

“Older, love. You’ll always be young to me.”

She nuzzled against him and held onto him tightly. “This is something I should have been expecting,” she mentioned as she shifted into her human form, then nuzzled her face into his fur. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him the real reason her aging scared her so badly. The older she got, the less time the two of them had. Lupino didn’t live as long as Delphin, even when one adjusted for the shortened lifespans of the average slave.

He hugged her again, subconsciously more carefully. He was always reminded of just how small she was. Even as a Delphin, she was only a few inches taller than his human form. “My little bird,” he quietly said with a gentle nuzzle. Janus felt her breathing finally slow as she began to calm down. He smiled softly and shifted back to his human form. He slowly stood, bringing her with him, then picked her up and carried her to their room.

*********

Snowhawk awoke several hours later and smiled softly as she found herself still in his arms. She cuddled closer to him, nuzzling him softly. Her mind soon began to think This is how my life should have been. But what if she hadn’t acted the way she did all those years ago, when she’d escaped. They had both had many strong revelations over the past couple years. Neither of them would have had any of those had they taken different paths. If I had it to do over, I’d change a few things, she thought, but I wouldn’t change the outcome. She gave him a small nuzzle and drifted back to sleep.

*********

Back in the city, a twitch of life made its presence known in Snowhawk’s abandoned apartment. A male figure moved silently through the living area, stopping at a coffee table and picking up a dusty picture. He brushed the dust off the glass, revealing two Delphin, one lavender-furred female shyly trying to hide her face from the camera in the shoulder of a tan-furred male. The figure gently touched the face of the female. “Snowhawk,” he whispered. Another moment passed, then he broke the glass of the frame and pulled the picture free. He folded it in half and slid it into the pocket of his black overcoat. He continued through the apartment, entering what had been Snowhawk’s room. The man walked to her nightstand, opening the drawer. He pulled out a slightly dulled piece of crimson ribbon, placing that into his pocket as well. He turned to leave when a flash of silver caught his attention. Further inspection revealed the silver ring she had been given to signify her mateship. After a moment’s pause, he took the ring and dropped it in the pocket with the other items. He turned to leave, then stopped at the two year old bloodstain on the floor of the living room. He knelt next to it, then gingerly rested his fingertips on the stain. His old scars began to ache again as he thought of the events of that night. He bowed his head, recounting his past. A moment later, he stood and quickly left the room.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 17

Two uneventful months would pass until one not so sunny day, a paper flyer managed to reach the cabin. Janus has awoken quite early that day, intent on finding something his bird had hinted at wanting. As he left the porch of the cabin, he was somewhat surprised and amused to see a piece of God-awfully bright, neon orange paper tumbling down the drive toward a cabin on a gentle breeze. Figuring this paper must have some important message to have traveled this far from the city, he trotted toward it and snatched it up. His eyes widened as he read the message. Printed in bold, black letters, the text read, “Coronation! Em’bar 25th! The Delphin Society will live again!” then continued with the time the ceremony was to happen and where it could be watched. He folded the paper and stuffed it into his pocket. Hopefully, he could run his errand and return before Snowhawk awoke.

However, he didn’t make it back in time. Snow’s eyes fluttered open soon after he had left. She lay where she was for almost an hour before deciding to sit up and beginning the daily battle of deciding if she should even get out of bed. She’d been very tired over the last two weeks. She knew what it was but hadn’t said anything. A sharp breeze howled over the roof and she looked at the ceiling. “Hint, much?” she mumbled, swinging her legs over the side of the bed, then standing some twenty minutes later. “Wonder where he’s gone off to…” she mused, wandering toward the nearest television and couch. She flipped on the TV as she passed by, then flopped down on the couch, sinking into the soft cushions. After a minute of searching, she found the remote control and surfed to one of the educational channels she often watched. “Ooh, lightning,” she mumbled, still half asleep. She watched the show, comparing what it was telling her with what she already had in her mind from other sources, until she drifted back to sleep on the couch.

Some three hours later, she was awoken to the feeling of a pair of hands sliding around her neck and what felt like velvet between them. “A gift for you, love. You said you’d like one,” Janus half whispered.

As he pulled his hands back, she reached up and felt a velvet choker studded with a few small gems. “Oh!” she quietly gasped. “Thank you!” She reached up and hugged him, giving him a soft nuzzle, quite glad he remembered she’d mentioned something like this one day as she looked at the scar on her neck.

“You okay, love?” he asked, concerned. “You’ve been so quiet the past couple weeks.”

“I’m fine. My body’s just preparing for something.”

“What?”

“A child.”

Janus held her as he sat in stunned silence for a moment. “Snowhawk–”

“It wouldn’t be a repeat of my last pregnancy.” she added quietly.

It should be known that Janus had mixed feelings about children. While he did want them, eventually, now was most likely not the proper time. Especially with the news he had discovered earlier. “Love–”

“If you’d rather not, I’ll understand.”

“Love, it’s not that. I don’t know if now is the right time or not. With what’s going on in the city right now, I’d worry it might place you under too much stress.”

“What’s going on?”

Janus mentally smacked himself. She probably had not been awake for any of the local news, and he had taken the flyer with him. He pulled away from her slightly and removed the folded paper from his pocket. After opening it up, he handed it to her. “This is what’s happening.”

Snow’s jaw dropped as she read. “This is tomorrow.”

“The city is being prepared now. But apparently, no one knows who will be at the head.”

“Nytehawk, most likely.”

“What about you?”

“They would have to drag me out of here unconscious. I have no intention of leading, especially a Society that’s died once before.”

“Are you thinking history will repeat itself?”

“Considering the leaders never changed how they ruled, even at the end, yes. Times have changed. The Society’s been gone for how many hundreds of years now? Very few remember it anymore. They’ve all died, or forgotten. A few of us have memories of the past that were never told to us by anyone.

“You included?”

“Of course, I’m one of the Royal line, though I never understood why I had the memories until you mentioned it. I’m haunted by nightmares of her, rather my, death. Darkness, night I’d guess. A fire. Men, humans mostly, with weapons. Cuts on my arms, blood pouring down my back, a gash on my right thigh. Part of my horn was gone, broken off. Then, I’m hit by one of them and that’s where the nightmare ends and I wake up.”

Janus thought for a moment, then nodded slowly. “I remember hearing a tale from one of the old men that had served in my family’s army of a Delphin that died like that. Silver fur, black points, deep blue mane and tail, and the rare black dorsal stripe that’s almost impossible to find today. Black feathered wings. Her horn was emerald and her eyes colored like sapphire.” He paused for a moment. “She was a fighter by choice. She was supposed to be the Society’s leader, but refused. She was captured one evening while out by herself. They tortured her, trying to get information. All she did was laugh and taunt them. One of the men lost control and hit her in the back of the head with the butt of his gun.”

Snowhawk nodded slowly, then sat for a few minutes in silence. “I wonder who the hell instigated this,” she said, not really questioning.

“Hmm?”

“The rebuilding.”

“Could it have been possible for Legacy to have spoken with someone before he came to get you?”

“I’m sure he did,” she shrugged. “He always had a big mouth.” She sighed and looked out the window for a few moments. “I thought my fighting ended two years ago.”

“I know love, I know.”

Snowhawk sighed quietly. Her mind was nagging her with a single thought: What if Legacy hadn’t been killed and that he was alive now. It was a well known fact that often after having a horn broken, a Delphin would change in coloration and appearance as a human. She would be able to recognize him, but most likely only by scent. If that was the case, then no one else would know who he was since they didn’t know the scent intimately. “Do you think–” she trailed off.

“What?”

“That it could be possible that Adian didn’t kill Legacy.”

Janus didn’t really know how to respond. “Adian never would have thought to actually make sure he was dead before he left. So, there is the possibility. It was a closed-casket funeral, was it not?”

Snowhawk nodded. “They said they couldn’t get the blood out of his fur.”

“We may just have a ghost on our hands then.”

“Only he’s not dead. Which would make him all the more dangerous. Almost every Delphin that survived a broken horn turned–” she paused, looking for the right words. “It’s like whatever darkness they have in them takes over.”

“Their appearance changes as well, does it not?”

“Yes. Scent too, but, someone that knew the scent–” she paused again as she searched for the kindest wording, “Someone that knew their original scent intimately would be able to confirm.”

“How close would you have to be to know for certain?”

She didn’t respond for several minutes, looking away from him. Then finally answered, “Too close.”

“Tell me, love, please.”

“Close enough to sleep with him,” she shuddered. “A risk I’d prefer not to take.”

Janus was silent for a moment, then squeezed her tightly. “No one’s going to make you, love.”

*********

The following evening in the city, species of all kinds gathered to show support for the rebirth of the Delphin Society. The remaining members of the Guardian Counsel appeared to crown the new leader of the society, and commend her Guardian for his work. After a long, drawn out, and somewhat boring speech by the Counsel leader, the crown, which in all actualities was an elaborate tiara, was placed on Nytehawk’s head and she stood overlooking her new subjects as they applauded. Once their applause died down, she began speaking to them, her voice strong, clear, and powerful. “I thank you all for being here. Today, we celebrate the rebirth of the Delphin Society. This is for what I pray to be the good of all beings. And so, I say to you now that we will not tolerate the enslavement of our kind or any other race. This is an issue that will no longer be sluffed off as a problem for the so called ‘lower classes.’ I have been there, I was born into that life. Yet here I am, free. Many of you have been slaves as well, yet you stand here, free from the bounds of your owners. This problem will not be taken lightly and we will see to it that no other race has to suffer our pain.” By the time she reached “suffer,” her words were nearly drowned out by the crowd. Knowing that their enthusiasm would last for hours, she gave them a bow of respect after several minutes, then headed off toward a waiting vehicle.

Once inside, she flopped down, leaning back against the seat. “Well, that went well. Wouldn’t you agree, Jerome?” she asked the other as he climbed in.

“Yes, but no one reported seeing Snowhawk,” he replied as he sat down across from her.

“Didn’t figure she’d come.”

The opposite door of the vehicle opened as Jerome reached to close the one he entered through. Hunter slid inside and next to Nytehawk, closely followed by the head of security.

The head of security had appeared one day some eighteen months ago, intent on helping with the rebuilding. He was a mysterious fellow, only giving his name, Quillen, and his age, twenty-three. “You intended on seeing her, did you not?” he asked.

“I did.”

“They why not use the power at hand and retrieve her? We do know where she is.”

“Do you have a plan?”

“Always.”

“Then do it. That bastard’s kept her away far too long.”

“Nyte,” Jerome began, “what are you going to say this is?”

“A raid. Proof we will not stand for any slavers. Should word get out, that is. Which I trust it won’t,” she said warningly.

“Snowhawk is hardly a slave anymore, and Janus is hardly a slaver anymore, if at all. She’s there because she wants to be.”

“Do you really believe that, Jerome?” Quillen asked. “That someone would willingly stay with a known slaver.”

“Yes, Snowhawk has her reasons for staying.”

“What? Love? He’ll only hurt her. Use her to his own ends.”

“I would have to disagree with you.”

“Why?”

“I know Snowhawk. Better than most would think.”

“‘Once a slave, always a slave,’ is that not what goes through her mind? And as for Janus, once a slaver, always a slaver. He’ll slip up and she’ll see that.”

“I won’t give him a chance to harm her,” Nytehawk stated. “Quillen, once you are ready, take your team and retrieve her. I don’t care about the cost, just bring her back to us.”

Quillen nodded in response, “I will.”

They pulled into the garage of the recently renovated estate, the home of the reborn society’s leader. Quillen stepped out of the vehicle first, followed by Jerome, then Hunter and Nyte. “Where’d you get the ribbon in your hair, Quillen?”

“What does it matter?”

“Just has a very familiar color. Like one of Snowhawk’s ribbons.”

“So what are you implying, Jerome?”

“That you have some ulterior motive in this. Your own personal reasons for wanting her around.”

“And if I did?”

“Then you’ll wind up the same as Janus’ brother.”

Quillen smirked. “I wouldn’t worry to much about that.”

“Then you’d be a fool,” Nytehawk added in.

“We’ll just see. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a mission to complete,” he smirked, then promptly vanished into the garage’s shadows.

“I’m somewhat suspicious of him,” Jerome stated.

“As long as he does his job, that’s all I’ll ask of him.”

*********

Quillen quickly walked down the hallway toward his quarters. He could have this planned out and underway in less than two hours. Two hours and he would be on his way to being able to touch her again, to hold her, to kiss her. It had been far too long since he could. “I refuse to let that son of a bitch win,” he growled as he turned into his room. The door was closed and locked, then he sat down at his desk and began to make his phone calls.

*********

Back at the cabin, Snow awoke in the middle of the night to moonlight illuminating her room. She smiled softly and slipped away from Janus, quietly walking to the window and looking to the night sky. She felt the opened the window, finding the night to be unseasonably warm, the night air filled with the scent of earth and fallen leaves. She glanced back to Janus, then deftly slipped out the window and hopped to the ground.

Outside, she wandered into the forest toward a small pond she knew to be surrounded by honeysuckle and the tiny wild roses she enjoyed so well in the summer. She soon came upon it and stopped at a natural arch of dried honeysuckle vines. She crawled under the arch and lay down, soon drifting to sleep. A dream crept into her mind, one of a fourth child, a girl this time, and one she could actually raise. The dream sent a bittersweet tear down her face.

A moment later, she felt something she hadn’t felt in two years. Not a feeling of movement, per se, but just knowing. A feeling of life. Her eyes snapped open and she sat straight up. “Shit.” She searched for the feeling again now that she was awake. However, she could no longer sense it. She blinked a few times, then lay back down and closed her eyes, drifting back to sleep. She never knew when a deep, dreamless sleep overtook her.

*********

Back at the cabin, Janus awoke alone. “Snowhawk?” He felt where she had been, finding it to be still slightly warm. She had not been gone long. He then caught the scent of earth and leaves through the open window. Sitting up, he climbed out of the bed, then walked toward the window. He could also smell her scent here, then leading out the window. He exited the cabin as she had earlier, then followed her scent through the forest, soon realizing where she was headed.

He reached the pond and could see her across it, asleep under the natural arch. Such a beautiful image, he thought. He watched as she suddenly sat up, then went back to sleep a moment later. Soon after she drifted back to sleep, however, a darkly-clothed figure emerged from the forest and stalked toward her. The figure knelt next to her and appeared to touch a spot on her neck, just behind her jaw. Janus growled and ran toward the figure. He neared the dark one and lunged at him, but soon found himself tossed to the water’s edge. “Leave her be,” he growled.

“I can’t do that, slaver,” a male voice returned. “I’ve been given orders to bring her back.”

“Then I guess you never thought she might not want to go back.”

“Hard to believe, wolf. Now,” the man began as he picked up the Delphin-formed Snowhawk as if she weighed nothing, and grinned, “I’d suggest not following me. Never know what might happen to her.”

“The least you can tell me is who you are so I’ll know who to kill.”

“The name’s Quillen,” he replied, then turned and ran into the forest. “This time, Snow, I’ll make sure you’re safe. And that you’ll never leave me again,” he whispered to her as he swiftly moved through the trees. After a half hour of walking, he reached the rest of his team, then climbed into the back of an SUV, setting her beside him. “Go,” he instructed the driver, then flipped a switch and closed off the rear of the vehicle from the driver’s compartment. A moment later, he lowered the divider again and instructed the driver to take a meandering route through the city. He needed to finish up a few things with Snowhawk before they got back. The driver gave an affirmative response and Quillen again raised the divider.

He folded the rear seats down, then placed Snowhawk on her stomach. After finding a specific spot on her neck, he ran two of his fingers down either side of her spine to the bottom of her shoulder blades, resulting in her shifting to her human form. He carefully turned her onto her side, facing him, leaving his hand on her hip. He touched her throat again, as he had earlier, only on the opposite side. A grin crept across his face as her eyes fluttered open. She slowly awoke and began to piece together where she was, or rather, was not. “Hello, love,” Quillen said to her, touching her face. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen you.”

“Who–” she slowly began, pushing herself up on her arms. The man greeted her semi-upright form with a long, deep kiss. Her eyes immediately snapped open ad she tried to pull away, but he held the back of her head too tightly. She clinched her eyes shut and could do little more than wait. When he finally broke the kiss, she broke away from him and attempted to merge with the vehicle’s opposite wall. “Who are you?!”

“I’m hurt you wouldn’t remember me, love,” he grinned as he slowly moved across the vehicle to her. He gently took her chin in his hand and leaned toward her. “But I have a few ways to make you remember.” She gasped as he leaned to kiss her again. He moved over her, a leg on either side of her, pinning her legs down, then held her arms down. Quillen laughed as she whimpered. “Still nothing? Do I have to get closer to you? Poor thing can’t remember. And at such a critical point too.” Her eyes widened at this. “Did you think I wouldn’t be able to tell?” One of his hands left her arm and he gently rubbed her stomach. “Really love, you underestimate me.”

“Why are you doing this?” she half cried.

“You left me, Snowhawk. Yes, he captured you, but you left me. You were never going to come back.”

She began to piece things together now, then gave a ragged sigh as tears of realization rolled down her face. “Legacy.”

“Precisely, dear bird. Though everyone knows me as Quillen now. If you value your wolf’s life, you won’t let anyone else know.” The hand on her stomach slid around to her back and rested just above her rear. He grinned as he spoke, “Especially that bitch of a cousin of yours. You’re not getting away from me this time, love.”

“You were dead. Adian killed you.”

“Almost dead. That stupid wolf never thought to check.”

“So whose idea was this? Yours or Nytehawk’s?”

“Her’s, with a bit of assistance from me.”

“And she really doesn’t know?”

“No. Neither does our son. He’s been asking about you, you know. Really interested in meeting you.”

“Regardless of how his mother was brought back against her will, I’d assume.”

“Don’t be so harsh, love.”

“Fuck off. You realize you’re a thousand times worse than Janus all those years ago.”

Quillen growled lowly at her and the hand on her back wrapped itself into her hair, and he forced her to look at him. “I am a thousand times better than that bastard will ever be.”

“Are you now?” she asked, her eyes full of contempt.

“He will never take you back,” he stated, then pulled her into another forced kiss.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 18

“Why the hell are you doing this!?” Snowhawk yelled as she pushed Quillen away.

“I already told you, love, I want what’s mine.”

“And who’s to say I ever was?”

“I am, dear Snowhawk. The wolf won’t have anyone to help him steal you away this time.”

“He didn’t before either. Or has your mind twisted so much you forgot? You left. I was alone.”

“So are you saying he’ll be coming after you again?”

“He never came after me in the first place!”

“Regardless,” he replied with a smirk.

“What happened to you, Legacy? You used to be so kind, so gentle.”

“It’s amazing what can happen when the one you love is stolen from you,” he darkly replied. “So,” he continued a moment later, “why didn’t you fight him off?”

“What was there to fight?”

“Plenty. I had figured he simply grabbed you by the throat and held you down when you went to ‘visit’ that night. That is one of your weaknesses, after all,” Quillen grinned as one hand moved to her neck and gently stroked it. “Don’t be afraid, dear bird,” he half chuckled at the look of fear that crossed her face at his touch. He leaned down and gently kissed her again. “And my name is ‘Quillen’ now, love. Can’t have any of the others finding out, can we?”

Snowhawk clinched her eyes shut as tears began to well up in them. “Don’t make me choose. Not again.”

“There shouldn’t be much of a choice, dear Snowhawk,” he stated as he pulled her to him. He lifted her chin up with one hand, leaning down to kiss her again as his other hand reached up and pressed on her neck as he had some hours earlier. She was instantly dropped into a deep sleep. “I’m sorry, love. You have to stay. Goodnight, my sweet Snowhawk. You shall see our son soon.” He lowered the partition again and informed the driver to return to the estate.

*********

Elsewhere in the city, a very angered Janus jumped out of his vehicle and entered his estate. “That damn fool picked the wrong wolf to screw with,” he growled as he stormed into his library and to his maps of the city. “There are only so many places in this city where a Delphin can be hidden. And there are only so many beings in this city named ‘Quillen.'” He sighed. “This will require more work than finding her the last time.” He just hoped that who ever this guy was working for had no intentions of hurting her.

He eventually fell asleep while looking over all the maps, trying to figure out where they could be and who could be the responsible party. The thought came to him in his sleep: what if Nytehawk was behind this? Would she have been the one to suggest it, or could someone have manipulated the power she held to their own advantage? “What if Legacy hadn’t died then?” Snowhawk’s voice repeated in his mind. Given what had been said about personality and appearance chances, there was a high chance that the man Quillen was Legacy. His anger and frustration at losing Snowhawk brought on a severe obsessive state. Though what he might do to try and hang onto her was forethought in Janus’ mind.

Quillen was much larger and most likely much stronger than Snowhawk, if he had kept those traits from Legacy, assuming they were indeed one in the same. Legacy had also been highly intelligent. But what else? he thought. What else makes him such a threat? Then he realized Legacy knew Snowhawk almost as well as he did. And Quillen’s intentions would most likely not be with her best interests in mind.

*********

Trying to understand why a broken horn causes a shift in personality is about equal to trying to understand the logic of a three year old human child: It just is and any further reasoning will leave one with a migraine. The cause had never been discovered, but the effects were widely known. An alternate personality formed, a mirror dredging up everything the injured one was not. In Legacy’s case, his kindness was tossed away, leaving a hurt, vindictive soul determined to reclaim what he felt was rightfully his. And willing to do so at any cost.

Buried somewhere in him was his kindness, his gentleness, everything that had made him Legacy. However, this old self was so far locked away, and his new persona of Quillen was so strongly attached, little hope could be held out for the old Legacy to ever return.

Quillen cradled Snowhawk’s unconscious form as the vehicle pulled into the Society leader’s estate. The car stopped in front of the grand mansion. Quillen carefully picked her up and carried her out of the vehicle. He was met on the steps by Nytehawk, Hunter, and Jerome.

“She looks smaller than I remember,” Hunter commented.

“Two years can really change someone,” Nytehawk near whispered as she gently touched her cousin’s arm. “Did you have any trouble, Quillen?”

“Only from her. I found her asleep and she was very– disoriented when she awoke.”

“I guess that explains why she’s unconscious then,” Jerome stated, glaring at Quillen.

“Yes, it would,” he replied, returning the glare.

“I had a room prepared for her upstairs. We can take her there and wake her up,” Nytehawk said, not having noticed the glares.

“Lead the way,” Quillen responded.

Nytehawk nodded and walked up the stairs leading into the estate, the other following her. As they walked, Jerome very casually mentioned, “You took a big risk by putting her under like that.”

“Who’s to say I don’t know her better than any of you suspect?”

“Even if you had Guardian training, the only way you could know her that well is if you had had an extended, intimate relationship.”

Quillen smirked. “I have my secrets, Jerome. Just as you have yours.”

They reached the room that had been set up for Snowhawk and turned in. It was a moderate sized room, furnished with a queen sized bed, a desk, various chairs, a couple small tables, and various lamps of varying intensities. Quillen carefully laid Snowhawk on the bed, then gently brushed her bangs from her eyes, his hand lingering near her face almost too long.

“Quillen, could you wait to awaken her for a moment so I can bring Valerian in?” Nytehawk asked.

“Most certainly.” Nytehawk gave a small bow of thanks and quickly exited the room. “Soon, bird,” Quillen quietly said to the still unconscious Snowhawk. “Soon you will see your son.”

The use of “bird” caught Jerome’s attention. Only two ever referred to her like that: Janus and Legacy, and the latter only rarely. The Golden Guardian narrowed his green eyes slightly. He was beginning to piece everything together and he didn’t like the picture. “You’ll only be able to fool her for so long, then the consequences won’t be pretty,” he half growled under his breath.

“I’m sure you’re right, Jerome,” Quillen returned.

Hunter was at a loss. “What?”

“Nothing,” Quillen responded. “Just a little friendly rivalry”

“I’m sure,” Hunter warily replied.

A half moment later, Nytehawk returned with Valerian. The boy ran to the bedside when he saw Snowhawk. “Mom?” he said worriedly. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Nothing. Just asleep,” Quillen said reassuringly, then reached to her neck and awoke her as he had earlier.

Green eyes fluttered open again and she slowly began to see who was around her. First a flash of gold, Jerome, then her cousin’s pale blue fur, followed by Hunter’s gray fur, then a young, lavender-furred Delphin. “Where am I?” she half moaned, then felt a pair of small arms latch onto her.

“Mom,” the young one whispered.

“Wha– Valerian?”

He nodded and she could feel his silent tears on her shoulder. “You’re home.”

“It would appear I am,” she whispered, still waking up.

“Snowhawk,” Nyte began, “welcome back.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Snow–”

“Nytehawk, this is not my home, it’s yours. I don’t belong in your world anymore. Not this– Society. I never did.”

“Snow, you do belong. This is your destiny. Here. Not off in some cabin in the forest. You’re a Royal.”

“No. You are, Nyte. I never was.” She flinched almost imperceptibly in pain, then sighed as she closed her eyes. No point in being awake for now.

“Mom, don’t leave. Please. Not for a little while anyway.”

Snowhawk replied with a soft smile. “Don’t be afraid, son,” she whispered, then drifted to sleep as the stress of the day caught up with her.

“Mom…”

“Don’t worry, Valerian,” Hunter reassured, “she’s just asleep.”

“She sleeps a lot,” the child commented.

Quillen nodded. “Your mother needs to rest for now. She’ll be better in the morning.”

Jerome rested his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Come on, Valerian, I’ll teach you more about the Guardians of the old Society.”

“Okay,” he responded, somewhat sadly since he didn’t want to leave his mom.

“Go on, Valerian,” Quillen told him “I’ll stay here and make sure she’s safe tonight.”

The young Delphin nodded and followed Jerome out of the room, stopping at the door to look back at his mother.

Nytehawk turned to Quillen. “So you’ll watch over her tonight?”

“Yes. As if it were my life’s purpose.”

“Good, I would hate for anything to happen to her so soon after getting back.” She took a hold of Hunter’s arm and walked out of the room. “Do you think he’s changed, Hunter?” she asked as the walked to their room.

“Yes. Jerome suspects too, I think. They were doing a lot of glaring at each other.”

Nytehawk nodded. “We’ll just have to see what his intentions are.”

Back in the room, Quillen walked to the bed after locking the door, and then brushed a stray lock of Snowhawk’s hair from her face. “What will I have to do to make you forget him?” he quietly asked to no one as he ran the backs of his knuckles along her jaw. “What indeed,” He pulled her chin up and leaned down to give her another kiss, then looked at her face for another moment, softly stroking her cheek. Then he pulled his shirt off and lay down on the bed behind her and wrapped his arms around her. He held her tightly, then drifted to sleep, his head on her shoulder.

*********

Back at his estate, Janus now sat in a state of quiet contemplation. He had an idea of where to look for his bird, but didn’t want to make a move until he was certain. He was awaiting a call from one of his informants to verify Snowhawk’s location. The waiting was the hardest part. He clinched his fists at the thought of what that– Quillen may have done, or be doing, to his bird. The jealousy was almost overwhelming, but he fought it away again. He needed a clear head to think and act here. The mere fact that Quillen had laid a hand on her in the first place was enough reason to beat him to a bloody pulp. Adding in how he had done it was enough to beat the bloody pulp within an inch of it’s life. Had he done anything else to her… “If he has, I will kill him personally.” His phone beeped at him and he quickly snatched it up, answering the message. “Yes?”

“We think we have her location,” the man on the other end replied.

“Good. Continue monitoring. I want to be certain on this.”

“Yes, sir,” the voice replied, then the line clicked.

The two had come too far for someone to screw this up, especially someone that was supposedly dead. Janus had no idea just how simple it would be to discover exactly where Snowhawk was. And all in thanks to the evening news.

*********

Several days would pass. During this time, as Quillen tried to make Snowhawk forget about Janus, he also convinced Nytehawk that the time to move against the remaining slavers was now. She gave him the authority to essentially begin a war.

With that completed, he stalked off to the separate house Snowhawk had been moved to. There was one other thing he wanted to accomplish.

*********

Snowhawk dozed somewhat peacefully for one of the first times since she had been taken. Valerian slept, semi curled, next to his mother. It was another unseasonably warm, lazy afternoon, one that simply felt like the calm before the storm. The door to her bedroom swung open, a quiet creak awakening Valerian. He sat halfway up, trying not to disturb his mother and looked to the doorway. “Quillen, what are you doing here?”

“I need to speak with your mother on a private matter,” he evenly replied.

“Oh, okay,” the young Delphin responded, frowning, then carefully slid off the bed. He still had no idea of Quillen’s true identity.

“I think Jerome wanted to show you a few new things today. He’s in the gardens if you want to find him.”

“Okay!” he smiled, then sprinted from the room, his small hooves sliding around on the smooth stone floors.

Once the boy was gone, Quillen grinned darkly and stalked to the bed, sitting on the edge. He gently touched her human face, awakening her. “Good afternoon, love.”

She sat up slowly, pushing herself up until his hand caught her chin. “What are you doing?” she groggily asked.

“Nothing, love,” he said as he leaned to her then kissed her. His hands reached to the back of her neck and unhooked the velvet choker Janus had given her. As he tossed it aside with one hand, he removed a collar from his pocket with the other, still distracting her with the kiss. He moved his hands back to her neck, one wrist resting on each shoulder, the collar trailing down her back from his right hand. He leaned forward, as his other hand took a hold of the free end, and pushed her back onto the bed. He brought his hands to the front of her throat and locked the collar onto her.

She heard the quiet click of the lock and forced him off her, sitting back up. “What the hell are you doing!?”

“It’s for your own protection, love. We’re about to go to war. I can’t have you running off on me in the middle of a battle. You could end up getting hurt. Or worse, killed.”

Snowhawk glared at him. “I can take care of myself. Now unlock this damn thing,” she demanded as she tugged at it.

“I think not, dear bird,” he smirked. “You know, that’s a good look for you.”

“I assume you convinced Nyte into letting you do this.”

“Actually, she has no idea. You see, dear,” he began, running a finger along her jaw, “Nytehawk is just a figure head for us. I have been given as much power I need to strengthen the Society. I’m going to turn this into a full Empire.”

“With you at the head, I assume.”

“No. Nytehawk will remain as the leader, I’ll be the one ‘working to defend’ as it was in our past.

“You make it sound so noble,” she dryly remarked.

“Oh it is, dear Snowhawk, it is,” he returned, the sound of another lock clicking was heard as he fastened a chain to her collar. “An even better look,” he grinned.

Her eyes narrowed and she glared daggers at him. He gave a small smirk of amusement. “So I guess Legacy really is dead.” She drew her hand back to slap him, but he caught her small wrist in his hand.

“I don’t recommend that, love.” He pulled her to him, grabbing her waist tightly with his free hand. “You can’t fight me, dear bird. And I will never let you get away from me again.” He again reached to her neck and dropped her into a deep sleep.

A half minute later, Nytehawk entered the small house, intent on speaking with her cousin. Quillen sensed the female and carefully turned Snowhawk so she was facing him and the chain and collar were hidden. Nytehawk turned into the room and was surprised to see Quillen there. Even more so to see Snow apparently asleep in his arms. “Quillen, is Snowhawk alright?”

“She’s fine. Just exhausted herself.”

“And so she fell asleep on you?”

“Pretty much,” he replied and he gave her a very slight squeeze. “I don’t believe she’s properly rested in years.”

“Your intentions had better be nothing more than honest, Quillen,” she warned, noticing the squeeze.

“And I assure you, they are,” he grinned. He paused for a moment, then began, “I’ll need to take her with me tonight. I feel it would be safer for the both of you.”

“Do you suspect Janus knows?”

“The news last night said ‘at least one slave had been recovered’ then continued on to say her relationship to you.” His grin turned to a smirk. “And quite honestly, how many cousins do you have alive?”

Nytehawk sighed. “Just her that I know of. Damn, not the most opportune timing, was it?”

“Not in the least.”

“Very well,” she sighed, “you may take her with you.”

He grinned and gave a nod of thanks.

*********

Quillen left the estate late that evening, driving to an end of town where she once had an apartment. Two days ago, he came here to have everything prepared. He picked up the still sleeping Snowhawk and carried her into the building, then to her former residence. He further carried her into the bedroom and carefully laid her on the bed, then reattached the chain to her collar and connected the free end to the bed. He bound her hands behind her back, then re-awoke her. “Good evening, love,” he grinned, his hand slipping through the flap of her dress and resting on her rear. She gave a small cry of pain as he flipped her onto her back. The look of fear in her eyes was quite apparent as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a dagger, then brought it toward her.

*********

A half-inch stack of papers landed on the desk in front of a half asleep Janus. “We have her location. And we’ve discovered the Society wants to start a war against all the slavers,” the tall, dark furred Lupino female standing opposite him stated.

“Thank you, Nyx,” he groggily replied.

“Quillen’s on the move. He’s taken Snowhawk to the far side of town. An old apartment of hers. You know what he’s planning, do you not?”

“He wants to reclaim her. And he’ll probably not be gentle about it.”

“Are you moving now or will you wait?”

He paused for a moment to think. “If he does what I think he’ll do, it doesn’t matter when we move. We’d never make it on time. If he hurts her…” Janus sighed, “But he won’t be expecting a move so soon, so we’ll leave now. I’ll be counting on you and your crew for a diversion.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Thank you.” The other Lupino bowed and turned, then quickly exited the library. Janus waited another moment as he fully awoke, then stood and half ran to his garage.

Nyx greeted him there. “We’re ready to go at anytime.”

“Good. We’re moving now. Maybe I’ll catch the son of a bitch in the act so I’ll have more reason to kill him.”

The female turned and gave her crew a signal as she trotted over to them. A small fleet of vehicles moved out, Janus following several minutes later in one of his personal cars. After some forty minutes of driving to reach Snowhawk’s location he sent a signal over a radio to Nyx that he was ready when they were.

And halfway across town, an explosion blew several of the windows in the Society Leader’s home and set off every car alarm within miles.

*********

Back in Snow’s old apartment, Quillen let go of her now naked, half-unconscious form. She fell to the side, her raggedly cut hair draping across her neck. Her body ached from the abuse she had been subjected to. Quillen stood from the bed and stalked out of the room. Breaking her was just half the fun. He looked at the hair in his hand and grinned, then tied it together with one of her old ribbons. He set the bundle on a table, then looked to his computer and the message flashing “urgent.” He growled lowly as he had been called back across town.

Quillen re-entered the room and tossed a blanket over Snow’s bruised and bloodied form. She was crying softly, he noted, as he leaned down to give her a small kiss. “I shall return soon,” he whispered, then left the room, grabbing his sword and tying the sheath to his belt on the way out. She heard the front door unlock, open, close, then lock again as he left.

With that, she was alone. Helpless. She hurt too much to move, not that she could go very far if she could. While it was true she had been raped and beaten before, it was never by someone she had once trusted. She lay where she was for a few moments, then her stomach twisted in fear as she heard the door unlock and open again.

*********

Janus tentatively stepped into the old apartment, looking around for any others that might have been inside, after narrowly missing Quillen in the hallway. He knew Snowhawk was here, as he could faintly smell her. He listened carefully for a few moments, then heard something like quiet cries, of both sadness and pain. He also caught the scent of blood. Janus followed scent and sound back to a bedroom. He slowly opened the door and the smell of blood was strong enough to force him to shift from his Lupino form. His gut wrenched as he realized the blood he smelled was Snowhawk’s. The figure on the bed lay nearly motionless. “Sn– Snowhawk?” he almost whispered. She made no movement. He slowly moved toward the bed and could see long cuts on her exposed shoulder and her raggedly cropped hair. He gingerly touched an uncut place on her shoulder and she whimpered in pain. He knelt next to the bed and brushed her hair from her eyes. “My poor bird, I’m so sorry. I should have gotten here sooner and stopped him. I couldn’t find you.” She made no response, the shock of not a half hour earlier still held her in a near paralyzed fear. Slowly, he pulled the blanket off her, revealing just how much damage had been physically done. He caught site of her bound hands and first tried to untie them, then cut them with his pocketknife. Blood stained the rope and her wrists bled from the thin, wiry rope. He carefully pulled her arms from behind her, hating to hear her cries of pain. One of her hands immediately went to her face and covered it. Just from that movement, Janus knew how much she was hurting. Not physically, but mentally. She most likely felt as if she had betrayed him, that she should have been able to fight her attacker off, that she was weak for allowing this to happen to her. He didn’t want to further harm her by touching her, but he felt that he had to at this time. He carefully gathered her in his arms and held her as she cried and whimpered in pain.

“Well now, what have we here?” Quillen’s voice interrupted. “I thought they killed all the wolves around here.”

Janus bristled, a feat strangely accomplished in his human form. “What did you do to her, you son of a bitch?”

“I figured that would be obvious, slaver. I took back what’s mine,” he grinned. “By the way, the explosion was a nice touch, but not enough to keep me gone. Especially from a creature as sweet as her.”

“You can’t take back what was never yours, Legacy.”

“Right,” he replies sarcastically. “And Legacy’s dead, wolf.”

“Along with his gentle sincerity, I’m guessing.”

“Mostly.” Quillen’s face darkened. “Now let her go. I have unfinished business.”

“There’s not much more you can do to her.”

“I will be the judge of that. Now move aside.”

Janus growled and shifted forms again, fighting the sensory overload of the room’s scents. “You won’t touch her again.”

Quillen simply smirked and withdrew his sword from its sheath. “Your brother almost killed me, you know. With this very sword.”

“And just what does that have to do with anything?” Janus growled, carefully laying her down, then standing.

“Just a distraction,” he returned, lunging at Janus.

The Lupino dodged the strike, but was caught in the back of the neck by the edge of Quillen’s hand and sent across the room. He spun around, the blow having disoriented him for a moment. Quillen was amazingly strong. He was also dangerously close to Snowhawk. She was still too weakened to fight back and could only cry out in pain as he roughly flipped her onto her stomach. “An audience wasn’t part of the plan,” he darkly began, laying the blade of his sword across her legs, halfway between her rear and her knees, “but I think I can cope.”

“Let her be! She’s hurting enough as it is!” Janus warned advancing a couple steps forward, realizing just how far he’d been hit across the room.

“Don’t take another step, wolf.”

“Or what?” he defiantly asked, stepping forward.

“This,” Quillen responded and drew the razor-sharp sword across her legs.

Janus froze as she cried out in pain. “What the hell are you doing!?” he demanded.

“I’m making a point.” He sat down on the bed next to her and pulled a small dagger from his boot. He ran the blade along her arm, the razor edge easily cutting through her skin. “It wouldn’t take much to kill her, you know.” Quillen paused for a moment. “But death is far too easy. She’d be escaping me again and I simply cannot allow that.”

“And by doing this the only point you prove is that you’re many times worse than I ever was to her.”

“Maybe,” he nonchalantly replied, cutting diagonally across her back, enjoying the look of helplessness on Janus’ face. Her cries her grew weaker, though Quillen didn’t seem to notice. “But it also proves that I know her better than you ever attempted to.”

“So you would destroy everything about her. Crush her spirit.”

Quillen narrowed his eyes and stated, “Fine, you may have her for now. But always remember I will return for her one day.” He stood and glared at the Lupino for another moment, then seemed to vanish into the shadows.

“Nice trick,” he growled, then rushed to Snowhawk. She had lost a great deal of blood. Her body was cool to the touch and her heart rate had fallen drastically. She wouldn’t survive without care from a doctor, and she needed it soon. However, he couldn’t carry her out with out further injuring her. He fumbled around and found his phone then called Nyx. “Nyx, I need you at the old apartment. Now. Snowhawk is badly injured and I don’t think she’ll last long.”

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 19

Crying softly in pain, Snowhawk could feel herself growing weaker as her life bled away. She heard fabric ripping as Janus tore the sheets on the bed into temporary bandages. She could barely feel his touch as he bandaged her wounds. Her cries grew softer and as her eyes closed, she realized she might not make it through this. She felt Janus put his arms around her and hold her tightly. She mentally smiled at the fact that, if she were to die now, in his arms, she would go peacefully. Her eyes fully closed and she entered darkness.

“Snowhawk! Snowhawk, open your eyes! Love, please, don’t leave me!” Janus cried as her eyes slipped shut and her breathing further slowed. “Don’t leave me, love, please…” he told her, squeezing her gently as if trying to keep her spirit from leaving.

Nearly two minutes later, Nyx and several of the men under her command entered the room. “My God, Janus! What the hell happened?!” she exclaimed.

“I’ll explain on the way to the hospital. We need to get her down stairs as quickly and carefully as possible. Can’t risk letting the wounds tear more.”

The men quickly loaded her into a makeshift stretcher, created from another blanket. They carried her down the steps, then sped to the hospital. As Janus comfortingly stroked his bird’s face, Nyx again asked, “What happened back there?”

“Quillen raped her. He beat her and cut her hair. Then he cut her legs, arm, and back as I watched. I couldn’t do anything to help her.”

“Who the fuck is this guy anyway? He must have some pretty big balls to pull this.”

“He was her mate. That is, before my brother broke his horn and tried to kill him.”

“Tried to?” she said, almost sounding shocked.

“Almost did. I don’t know the details. We left as the two were fighting.” The lighter wolf paused, looking down and burying his face in his hands. “I can’t live without her again,” Janus almost whispered.

“She seems strong enough, Janus. I’m sure she can pull through.”

Janus nodded in reply. “I hope so…”

Even if she doesn’t, Nyx thought, there’s still a way.

Just as her name implied, Nyx was a creature of the night, and in more ways than one. That was not her only secret as in all truths, Nyx was actually male, using a new gift to disguise himself. To add to all this, this particular male was none other than Janus’ younger brother Adian. Sophie had almost killed him two years prior, but a vampire appeared that night as Adian lay dying. He called himself Kione and offered to “save” Adian on the single condition that Adian would complete one mission for him someday in the future. Adian agreed to the eternity of endless nights, be it from the loss of blood and lack of oxygen to his brain, or that he simply felt this was not his time to die, so their deal was sealed with Kione’s gentle bite. Some months later, Adian returned to his brother’s estate under his female identity.

He was shaken from his thoughts by his brother calling to Snowhawk. “Snowhawk! Love, keep breathing! You can’t leave me!”

Adian could hear the almost hysterical despair in his brother’s voice, and Snowhawk’s shallow, labored breaths were not a good sign. He turned to the driver and simply said, “Pull it over, we’re never gonna make it at this pace.” The driver complied and pulled the vehicle over. Adian moved into the driver’s seat as the driver left, and left the poor Feln on the side of the road to either find his way home on his own, or to be picked up by one of the other team members.

Janus blinked at Nyx and her insistence to get Snowhawk to the hospital. As the vehicle accelerated, Janus held Snowhawk tightly and whispered to her, “Soon, love, we’ll be there soon. Just hold on,” She was growing cooler by the minute and each breath was shallower than the last.

Another five minutes passed before they reached the hospital. Once there, Janus carried Snowhawk inside while Nyx tracked down the doctor that had treated Snowhawk twice before. “Great Orion!” the doctor exclaimed when she saw Snow’s ashen hued skin. “Bring her in here quickly!” she directed, opening a door to a nearby, empty room. Not needing to be told twice, Janus quickly carried her in then him and Nyx situated her on the bed, stomach down. “What happened, Janus?” the doctor asked, her ruby horn beginning to glow softly.

“She was raped. He cut her legs, arm, and back as I watched. I couldn’t do anything to help her…” Janus trailed off.

“Okay, I’ll do everything I can,” she said, gently putting a red-furred hand on his shoulder.

Janus nodded, then gently kissed Snowhawk. “I won’t be far, love,” he whispered. Reluctantly, he left the room. Nyx stayed behind, the doctor having asked her to. He flopped down in a chair in the nearby lobby, then placed his head in his hands, elbows on his knees. Tears fell from his eyes as the full magnitude of what happened hit him. “Snowhawk…”

*********

Back in the room as she sewed up the wound on Snowhawk’s arm, the doctor calmly stated to Nyx, “I know your secret.”

“Do you now?”

“Yes. I know what and who you are. If you think helping her is going to atone for your past, you’re wrong.”

“Nothing can make up for what I’ve done, dear Doctor. Or what I am.”

The doctor nodded as she finished, never having looked up. “That’s all I can do. She’ll be on her own now.” She sighed quietly as the glow faded from her horn. “She needs blood, but we have no Delphin blood to match her’s here. The only city that might is Juv, but that’s too far to go,”

“Don’t–!” softly cried the now sleeping Snowhawk. She was so weak it was difficult for her to whisper even this.

Adian knelt next to her, then gently brushed her bangs from her eyes. “You didn’t deserve this,” he whispered. “Maybe I acted wrongly two years ago.”

“Adian, two years ago, did you have the faintest clue this would happen?”

“No.”

“Then you have no reason to feel guilty. Though how the hell you figure yourself into this, I don’t know.”

“You’ll understand when you find out who Quillen truly is.”

The doctor gave a small nod, then called Janus in. Adian stood before his brother entered. “The next hours will be crucial. I wish I could say something more, but it’s all a matter of waiting now.”

Nyx looked at Snowhawk for a moment, then to Janus. “What now?”

“I’m staying here to keep an eye on her, and so she’ll know she’s not alone.” He paused for a couple moments, then continued, “Then I will find this son of a bitch and rend him limb from limb.”

“If you can find him. I would guess he knows he’s in for it and will sneak off into hiding for a while. Not to mention what he may tell the Society leaders.”

“The man who did this had ties to the Society?” the doctor asked.

“Yeah. He’s the head of security.”

That Quillen?!”

“Yes.”

“I knew he wasn’t all there, but I never imagined he’d be capable of this. But, why her?”

Nyx looked at Janus as he looked at her, then Nyx dropped her head and turned to the side, leaving Janus to answer. “… Because Quillen is Legacy. And he’s pretty pissed off that Snowhawk wouldn’t willingly go back to him.”

The doctor stood in a shocked silence for a moment. “Should have realized when he tried to kill her two years ago.”

“How did you know about that?”

“I work here. I hear things. And for now, I shall leave you with her.” The doctor turned and left the room.

“Do you want to know how close she was?” Nyx quietly asked a moment later.

“How close?”

“Another five minutes. Probably less.”

“She would have been gone,” He knelt next to the bed and gently stroked her face.

“Not forever,” Nyx whispered.

“What?” Janus asked, looking up.

“Nothing.” She leaned against the wall; all they could do was wait. Once she realized the time, she quickly excused herself. She wanted to stay, but the sun that would soon rise had other plans.

Within eleven hours, Snowhawk had improved more than they could have imagined. Nyx returned just after the sun set some thirteen and a half hours after she’d left.

Janus glanced to her as she entered, “You certainly live up to your name.”

“Me and the sun don’t mix,” she replied. “How is she?”

“Much better, but still not out of the woods,” Janus answered, gently stroking his bird’s hair.

Nyx nodded. Her mind was elsewhere though. She needed to tell her secret, but she didn’t know how to begin, or how he would react. The last thing she wanted right now was to be pushed away. She had this driving urge to protect Snowhawk. As much as it probably didn’t need to come out now, fate decided to throw her hand in and force it out. The room seemed to grow darker, colder. Janus looked up and Nyx moved from where she had been leaning against the wall toward the bed. In the short hallway from the room to the hospital’s main hallway, a man appeared. He was ghost white in complexion and had long, dark silver hair that hung to his mid thigh.

“Who are you!?” Janus demanded.

Nyx hissed, “Kione. What the hell do you want?”

The stranger grinned, opening almost glowing gold eyes. “You inadvertently completed your half of out bargain. I’m simply here to collect her.”

“She’s been through enough. Leave her be.”

“So harsh, Adian.”

Janus blinked. “Adian?”

“Janus,” the younger Lupino replied, his faux exterior melting away to reveal the same wolf Janus had grown up with.

“I’m sure you to have some catching up to do. Now let me have what I want and I’ll leave you.”

“Not today, or ever, Kione.”

“Why do you protect the one that forced you to be what you are? After all, you once threatened to do the same to her.”

“Feelings change.”

Kione’s grin still had not lessened. “I’m sure. In any case, why don’t you ask her what she wants?”

Adian looked back to the bed where Snowhawk was slowly sitting up. Her dulled, half closed eyes told him the story. “Because you’re controlling her.”

“Not completely. Merely telling her what she could have if she came with me.”

“What? The endless nights? The constant bloodlust?”

“We’ll see,” Kione smirked. “Besides, that’s only a problem the first few years. You should be over the sun’s burn soon.”

The groggy woman was now standing beside her bed. At least, she appeared to be standing, but was actually floating. She began to drift toward the long-haired stranger and Janus jumped in front of her, grabbing hold of her arms. “Snowhawk, love, wake up!”

“She can’t hear you, Janus. Only me,” he informed them. Janus held onto her tightly, but she managed to break away. She floated to Kione and he took her into his arms, falling limp at his touch. “What a pity that your world has to lose such a beauty,” he said, his grin never lessening.

“I will take her from you, Kione,” Adian growled, “before you turn her.”

“Good luck, young wolf,” he said with a final grin, then vanished with Snowhawk.

“Dammit!” Adian growled.

“… Dare I ask what you became to still be here?”

“I don’t think you’re that dense, dear brother. In any case, that’s not the issue here.”

“Why do you want to help her, Adian?”

“Because I owe the both of you that much. The wounds stopped hurting and I’ve accepted that I deserved this, especially now.” Adian paused for a moment, then headed toward the door. “I’m going after her. I’ll contact you when I find her.”

*********

Snowhawk awoke in a darkened room, someone gingerly holding her in their arms. She at first assumed this to be Janus and so, thought nothing of it. Her eyes focused on her surroundings and she found herself in what appeared to be a room of a castle, decorated in deep, rich colors. “Where am I?” she asked, still not fully awake.

The one holding her pulled her now short hair back and away from her neck as he sat her up. He leaned in toward her neck, wrapping one arm across her chest, and whispered, “Someplace safe.”

As soon as he heard the voice, she knew this man, who ever he was, was not Janus. She tried to break away from him, but found herself to still be too weak. “Who are you?!”

“Think back to just a few hours ago. Well, about a day now,” he said as he nuzzled her neck. “The name’s Kione, dear.”

“What are you doing?” she asked as he moved further back on her neck.

“I told you earlier I was going to help you. And I shall.” She cried out softly as he lightly nipped her neck, breaking the skin and drawing blood. “Such delicate skin… And sweet blood too,” he commented as he licked her neck. “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to take you where you won’t hurt anymore.”

“I like the pain. It lets me know I’m alive.”

“But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?” he asked as he turned her around to face him. His left hand sat in the small of her back; his right was at the base of her skull. He smiled seductively and pulled her to him. She again tried to break away, but he only pulled her closer. “You have nothing to fear,” he told her, then leaned down to her neck.

“N– No, please…” she whimpered.

Just as he bit down, the door of the room burst open. “Let her go, Kione,” Adian warned.

“Meddling wolf,” Kione growled as he pulled away from her neck. “Do you really think you can stop me?”

“All I have to do is get her away from you.”

“Easier said then done, I should think,” the vampire grinned.

“Not necessarily,” Adian returned, then quickly lunged at Kione.

The vampire twisted out of the way, pulling Snowhawk with him. She cried out in pain as the wound on her back was nearly pulled open again. “Be careful, Adian. It wouldn’t take much to reopen her wounds.”

“Using her as a shield won’t help your position any, Kione.”

“She’ll thank me for it after I turn her.”

“I won’t give you the chance.”

“But I shall, dear wolf.”

“Only in your dreams.”

Kione grinned. “So you say.”

Adian again lunged at the other vampire, but found himself stopped by Kione’s booted foot in his chest. “Hand her over, Kione.”

“No. You can’t stop what is meant to be, wolf.”

“And this isn’t,” he growled, knocking Kione’s leg aside then grabbing Snowhawk. He quickly moved away from the still grinning vampire.

“She’s mine now, Adian, and you can’t keep her from me.”

“Snowhawk belongs to no one but herself. She is my brother’s by her own choice,” he told Kione as he protectively clutched Snowhawk. She was trembling in both fear and pain.

“And just what are you going to do once you return her? Become their protector? You’ll always be a fifth wheel to them, Adian, unless you claim what’s in your arms as your own.”

While Adian could admit he found this to be a very tempting proposition, he had to decline. “No. I think not. Especially if that’s how you intend to eventually get her to become yours.”

“And who ever said I did?”

“I’m not as stupid as everyone makes me out to be.”

“Maybe you won’t be a failure as a vampire yet,” he grinned. “Now, take the prize that is in your arms. You don’t want her in pain anymore, do you?”

“The only way I would is if she told me to turn her, Kione.”

“But can you not see it? The pleading look in her eyes. The trembling of pain.”

“Only if she says it.”

The older vampire smirked. “Ah well. It’s of no concern to me. I’ll come back for her at my leisure.”

“We’ll be waiting,” Adian growled.

“Good,” Kione replied, then vanished.

Adian growled again, then looked to his right hand as he felt a warm liquid oozing over it. The hand he had on her back was covered in her blood. The wound on her back had begun to split open again. She cried softly in pain as he tried to pick her up without further injury, finally managing to do so after having to hear several of her half-neighs of pain, something carried over from her Delphin form, he guessed. She continued to cry, burying her face in his chest as he carried her out.

He reached the vehicle he had brought and carefully positioned her inside on her stomach. He half ran to the driver’s side and slid in, picking up the cell phone and calling his brother as he pulled away. “She’s safe and I’m on my way back now.”

“Adian– thank you.”

“We’ll be a few hours. You may want to keep that doctor handy. The wound on her back has begun to reopen and she has a couple bites on her neck.”

“Care to tell me who this guy is when you get back?”

“I’ll tell you what I know when I return,” Adian replied, then hung up.

Over the past year and a half, Adian has found that being a protector was more rewarding than just taking what he wanted. He enjoyed helping Snowhawk, and his brother, but he had said that he would see that she was never by hurt by Janus again. She didn’t deserve to be hurt, and if Janus could do nothing but use her, then his brother would lose that which he held so dear. The younger Lupino knew he had the power to take her from him with a quick, painless bite. But he would wait and see; bide his time and keep a close eye on them. There was no point in taking her away from him now that she was happy. “Or would be if she hadn’t been cut to shreds,” he mumbled. “Besides, barring any serious accidents, a Delphin will outlive a normal Lupino at least twice over. And I am far from normal.”

*********

After returning to the hospital and the wound on Snowhawk’s back being sewn closed again, Janus and Adian sat in her darkened room and Adian relayed his story. “Just after sunset the evening following Sophie trying to kill me, at which point, yes, I was still alive, a man emerged from the shadows. He called himself Kione and offered to help me on the condition that I would one day help him. Not knowing this was his intention and not caring of the consequences, I agreed. He turned me there, then took me somewhere to heal. The rest, as they say, is history.”

“Yes, but who is he?”

Adian shrugged. “Not a clue, other than the fact he’s a very old vampire. He taught me a few things, but only stayed around for a few nights.”

“Which leaves you unaccounted for for several months.”

“I was strengthening myself.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. Why are you do damn curious all the sudden? You think I wanted this to happen?

Janus sighed. “Sorry, Adian. Maybe I’m being too protective of her right now.”

“It’s understandable, brother. But I have changed quite a bit over the past two years. Gave up a lot of things. Stopped acting like such an ass.”

“Took up cross dressing,” they heard Snowhawk say.

The older Lupino jumped up and ran to the bed. “Love, you’re awake. How are you feeling?”

“Like shit…” she grumbled.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t find you sooner, love.”

“I should have fought him off.”

“There’s no way you could have, Snowhawk,” Adian began. “Quillen is a hell of a lot stronger than you. Plus, add in the fact the bastard knows you almost as well as my brother and I’m sure you get the idea.”

“Love, his human form is stronger than my Lupino form. Please don’t blame yourself. This is in no way your fault.” He reached out to touch her face, but she shied away from him. “Love–”

“Please, I just– I need to be alone.”

“But do you think–”

“She’ll be ok, Janus. Neither of them would try anything this soon. Come on, we’ll find you some decent food and I’ll find a place to rest for the day.”

Janus nodded. “Very well.” He gave Snowhawk a gentle kiss on her cheek, then the two of them left the room. “Dammit, I feel so helpless.”

“There’s nothing you can do, Janus. Or could have done. Quillen is too strong, just as you said, and truthfully you would have had a snowball’s chance in hell against Kione.”

“And you?”

“Brother, I’m basically immortal. It may take a few nights, but Quillen would be no real problem. Kione– that’s another story. He’s a much stronger vampire than me.”

“Why do you feel you owe us this?”

“If I hadn’t broken Legacy’s horn, this wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have snapped like he did and she wouldn’t have been raped. More than likely, I wouldn’t be a vampire because Sophie probably wouldn’t have tried to kill me. That is why I owe you this.”

“Thank you, brother.”

“But,” he began, “let me tell you one thing, Janus. If I ever see her cry because you have hurt her, I will take her from you. I will protect her from everyone because the last thing she needs is more pain.”

“Why would I ever hurt her?”

“You have been known to in the past, brother. So this is the only warning you’ll receive.”

“Adian…”

“Just remember, Janus. If I see one tear because of you, then you will lose her forever.” The younger Lupino turned and stalked off.

“What the hell was that about?” Janus asked to no one in particular.

“I do believe your brother may like your bird,” stated the Doctor, popping out of no where.

Janus jumped and spun around. “Where the hell did you come from!?”

“I’m always around. I work here. By the way, next time you’re looking for me, just ask for Lisa.”

“Very well,” Janus sighed, then shook his head. “I think everything just got several times more complicated.”

“Maybe,” she replied, “but you have to realize he feels a lot of guilt for what happened.”

Janus nodded, but really had nothing else to say. What could he say? His own brother was threatening to take away the very thing he had missed for so many years. Not to mention the issues with Kione and Quillen. He would have to be more careful than ever with her now.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 20

It had not taken long for Snowhawk’s physical wounds to heal, thanks to Dr. Lisa, but the scars left on her mind and body were still quite obvious. She would often wander aimlessly about the estate, doing her best to avoid everyone. She looked lost, as if something important was missing, and perhaps there was. Quillen had stolen nearly the last shred of sanity she had left and she seemed to grow ever more distant with each passing day. Janus was greatly pained to see her in this state. It had been almost six months and she’d not allowed him to touch her. She would never answer his questions when asked what was wrong, only running away from him to hide.

He finally managed to track her to her room one night. She was laying on her bed, her back to the door as she usually would be. Janus sat down on the edge of the bed, between her and the door. He reached to touch her on her shoulder and she coiled into a ball when he did. “Love, please tell me what’s wrong,” he whispered.

Some five minutes later, she finally, quietly answered, “I failed you. I betrayed you.”

“You did nothing of the sort, Snowhawk.”

“I did. I don’t deserve you anymore.”

“You know that’s not true.”

“And why not? I couldn’t fight. I’m weak.”

He realized she’d been mentally beating herself up the past months. “In that case, I’m the one that failed. I failed to protect you.”

She shook her head. “I wandered off. I let my guard down. I set myself up for it.”

“Love, please stop blaming yourself.” Snowhawk refused to answer him. “You can’t ultimately blame anyone but me.”

“Why?”

“I took you from him. I know how he must have felt. We just handled our frustrations differently. He became violent. And I waited too long. I just wanted to be certain of where you were.” He sighed. “But that’s just an excuse. That’s why I should be blamed for this.”

She curled up tighter and cried. “So broken,” she whispered.

Janus wrapped his arms around her. “Then let me help you, love. Please. I never want to lose you again.”

She uncurled and turned around, then buried her face in his chest and cried. “I’m sorry,” she whispered several minutes later, “I’m just not– not myself any more.”

“It’s alright,” he assured her, stroking her back. “You’ve been through a lot. Just, please, don’t hide from me.”

She nodded slowly, then gently nuzzled him and cuddled closer. He held her tighter, then lifted her head slightly and kissed her on the forehead. She gave a long, slow sigh, then snaked her arms around him and wrapped one of her legs around his. “I’ve missed you,” she whispered.

He answered her by tilting her head back a bit further and giving her a long, slow kiss. He had been so afraid he would lose her over the past weeks. There had been more thoughts of worry going through his mind than he would ever admit. Between her habit of running from everyone when she was hurt, the vampire Kione, that bastard Quillen, and even his own brother, he was almost certain he would lose her. He shook away the thought, now reassured that she would not run this time. A gentle nuzzle from her got him to look down to see she had fallen asleep in his arms. “I love you, Snowhawk,” he whispered. “More than you could ever know.”

*********

The following day, as Snowhawk half lazed on the long bench on her balcony, enjoying the sight of late summer’s colors. Janus wandered out to see her. He greeted her with a kiss, then sat down next to her. She smiled softly and leaned against him, wrapping her arms around him. A moment later, she crawled into his lap, having turned to face him, sitting on her knees and straddling him. She nuzzled him softly, then kissed him on his cheek several times, each kiss moving closer to his mouth. As their lips met, he pulled her closer to him, holding her tightly. Once that kiss broke, he picked her up and carried her inside. She had definitively reassured him that she was not leaving him anytime soon and it would now be up to him to make sure she knew that he would not leave her.

*********

Adian switched off a monitor as he saw his brother carry Snowhawk inside. Things finally appeared to be getting back on track between them, he thought as he leaned back in his chair, but nothing ever stayed peaceful for long when it involved her. She seemed to attract trouble. While this brought out a strong urge to protect her, it also tended to make her feel like she was little more than an annoyance. He tapped a pen on the desk as he thought. She used to be very proficient with a dagger, and she had some skill with a sword. “It wouldn’t take much to get her back to where she was, ” he mused. “But we would have to get her out of that neck sensitivity, or at least lessen it so she’s not paralyzed.” Though, even he had to admit that was an interesting prospect. But, it would turn out better for them all if she were rid of it.

So, with that in mind, he just needed to wait until their little cuddle session was finished. He wouldn’t interrupt them. After all, God only knew how many his brother had left.

*********

Late that evening, Snowhawk awoke in Janus’ arms. She looked to to see that he was still asleep. She already felt much better, and even a little mischievous. She carefully slipped away from Janus and wandered into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. She remembered that, along with her appearance changing as she aged, she also gained the ability to shift into forms other than Delphin and human. She stood in front of the mirror for a moment, leaning on the bathroom counter, her head lowered and her eyes closed, searching for any signs of a new form. She smiled as she found what she was looking for, then her form began to glow as if she were shifting into her Delphin form. However, instead of growing in size, she began to shrink. The shift stopped when she was some five feet tall and she opened her eyes. Her reflection revealed a long pale lavender furred, dark amethyst striped feline morph. She giggled and brushed her light blue bangs from her eyes. “Oh the possibilities,” she giggled.

As she opened the door, the stopped for a moment, having felt this form had more to offer. She removed her hand from the door knob and closed her eyes again. She began to glow once more and her form further shrunk. Once she was done, she hopped up on the counter, now seeing full feline reflected back at her, slightly larger than a normal house cat. She gave an approving nod, another giggle, then pawed the door further open, hopped down from the counter and padded toward the bed.

*********

Janus felt something on him. He could feel it’s paws on his shoulder and it’s fur brushing along his back as it tugged on his loosened hair ribbon, then felt the satiny ribbon being drug across him. He wasn’t really concerned for himself as much as he was for Snowhawk.

It was at this point he realized that Snowhawk was no longer asleep beside him. He waited until the creature moved away before he opened his eyes.

*********

As the feline formed Snowhawk chewed on the distractingly shiny ribbon she’d pulled from Janus’ hair, she never noticed him wake up. She did, however, notice when she was grabbed from behind and spun around. She could do only the first thing that came to her kitty mind: look cute and hope it got her out of trouble. “Nya?” she went, dropping the ribbon.

Janus blinked at the feline he held at arms length from him. “A cat?” He thought for a moment. “How in the world did a cat get in here? Especially a purple one… with blue hair…” He again blinked as she desperately tried to grab his bangs. “Snowhawk?!”

“Mya?” the feline went, looking even cuter.

“How did you–”

She gave a small feline grin and began to shift her form again as he held her. Janus looked away, the light of the glow seeming brighter than usual in the darkness of the room. Once in her morphic form, she gave him a small nuzzle. “Just a new trick, love,” she informed him with a small giggle.

“Should have known,” he smirked, pulling her into a hug. “I take it you’re feeling better then?”

She nodded. “Yeah, Just needed a little reassurance.”

He gave her a small squeeze. “I think we all do sometimes, love.”

They lay in bed together for another fifteen minutes until a knock was heard on the door. “Who in the hell?” Snowhawk mumbled as Janus stood, pulling on a pair of pants.

“This had better be good,” he yelled to whoever was beyond the door.

“Better than you’d know, brother,” Adian’s voice returned.

Janus opened the door, revealing his brother’s lupine form leaning against the wall opposite the door way. “What do you want, Adian?”

“There is a problem.”

“What?”

“Her,” the younger Lupino returned, pointing to Snowhawk. At this point, his mind registered that Snowhawk was a feline. “What the hell?”

“New trick. Now, what’s the problem?”

“Would you prefer being shown or told?” he asked, moving toward the door.

“It really depends on what you’re planning to do, Adian.”

“She has a very strong weakness, brother. But it’s something that can be changed.”

“What weakness?”

“You haven’t noticed how sensitive her neck is?”

“Well, not really.”

“Snowhawk,” Adian began, “would you care to come here for a moment?”

“Mrh?” she mewed, then crawled from the bed and padded toward the two.

Adian stepped toward her once she neared him, then reached out and gently touched her face. With one sudden, swift movement he grabbed her throat with the hand that had been gently caressing her face a half second earlier. She immediately froze, clenching her eyes shut. “This is the problem, brother.

Janus stepped in and batted Adian’s hand away from her. “Leave her alone, Adian,” he said as he pulled her to him.

“We need to rid her of that, Janus,” Adian said as he crossed his arms across his chest. “Otherwise, she’ll continue to be at a high risk.”

Janus gently stroked Snowhawk a few times as he thought. “What would you need?”

“Her, time– and you willing to leave us alone for a while.”

The older brother gently pulled Snowhawk’s chin up. “Love, would you be willing to do that?”

She thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, this is a weakness I’ve been needing to overcome.”

Unwillingly, Janus released Snowhawk, his vampiric brother gathering her small frame into his arms. “Don’t look so worried, brother. She’s in good hands,” he grinned, then led her away.

*********

The younger Lupino led the small, feline formed Delphin to his room. Holding her delicate little paw, he gently brought her inside. She was obviously nervous at being in unfamiliar surroundings. This was multiplied by the fact she was alone in a darkened room with a vampire. “Here,” Adian said, bringing her a long, dark green dress, “I’ll be needing you in your human form.” He turned away, shifting forms himself, as she pulled the dress on. The glow she gave off while shifting forms illuminated the darkness, then as it died, he turned back to her. The dress hung perfectly on her, and covered all but the scar on her neck. She held one hand up to the base of her neck to try and hide this scar, still missing her velvet choker. “Shall we begin?

She gave a small nod, closing her eyes and ducking her head slightly. “Yes.” She jumped and spun around as the door of the room fully closed and locked.

Adian moved behind her, wrapping his hands around her shoulders. “Please understand that what I do will be only to help you, dear Snowhawk.” She gave a small, unsure but affirmative whimper. “Now,” he began, gently pulling her hand away from her neck, “I’m going to start slow. All you need to do is move away when I touch your neck. I know that sounds a little silly, but we need to start somewhere.” Adian’s right hand moved to the back of her neck and gently took hold. She froze for a moment, then slowly stepped to the left. “Good,” he complemented, “That’s a start.” He repeated the process over the next several hours, alternating which hand he grabbed her with. After this, Adian changed things. When she tried to step away, he grabbed a hold of the back of her dress and pulled her to him. His arm went across her chest and his hand reached to her throat. “Now, I will make things more complicated, dear bird. You have to discover how to break away on your own, now.” She had frozen again, clinching her eyes closed in fear. Adian released her throat and gently touched her chin with the backs of his knuckles. “I’m sorry, I went too fast.”

“No,” she whispered, “I need to get over this.”

“Truly sorry,” he said, gently pulling her chin around. He leaned down as he pulled her chin up, as if to kiss her, but she instead pulled her head away. “Very good,” he grinned, removing his hand from her neck. She had never felt him touch her.

“How did you–”

“Snowhawk, if you can resist a vampire, then Quillen will be no problem. You’re making progress, dear, but I believe we shall have to continue this tomorrow night, if you don’t mind?”

“Ok,” she nodded.

Adian led her back to his brother. Once there, Janus gathered Snowhawk into his arms and held her tightly. She nuzzled him softly, but was soon nearly asleep as she was held. “Accomplish anything?” Janus asked his brother.

“Yes, we did. But I am going to need more time. This is very deeply ingrained.”

“Indeed?”

“Yes. Don’t act so suspicious. I’m not trying anything.”

“Your little speech at the hospital would lead me to believe differently, Adian.”

“Huh?” Snowhawk sleepily asked.

“Nothing, love,” Janus replied, gently stroking her arm. “She seems awfully tired, Adian.”

“I’m sure you would be as well if you’d just spent several hours fighting your biggest fear.”

Janus glared at him for a moment, then scooped her up. “You’re not going to win, Adian.”

“But you’re not the immortal one, brother,” the younger grinned. “Don’t forget she’ll naturally outlive you several times over.”

“– the hell are you talkin’ about?” Snowhawk sleepily queried again.

“You’ll know when the time is right, dear Snowhawk,” Adian replied.

Janus again glared at Adian, then carried off his nearly asleep love. “I have mixed feelings about this, bird,” he whispered.

“Adian’s not trying anything,” she groggily returned. “His intentions are honest. Promise. Not leaving my wuff,” she continued, nuzzling him gently.

Janus sighed and smiled, then turned into their room. “I didn’t think you would, love.” As he placed her on their bed, she wrapped her arms around him, then pulled him down to her. She cuddled close to him and he, in turn, wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She sighed quietly and contentedly, then had soon fallen asleep in his embrace.

*********

Several days later, the again feline formed Snowhawk trained outside in the gardens one night, relearning and remembering her strength with a dagger and her gymnastic skills. Janus and Adian were off to the side watching her with Adian said, “She’s almost back to the form she was in at eighteen.”

“Yes, when I lost her the first time,” Janus paused. “I just pray that history won’t repeat itself.”

“Watch what you say and do then, brother. I won’t take her from you without a reason.”

“I was young and stupid back then. Hopefully, age has given me better judgment.”

“I hope so as well. For her sake.” Adian paused. “Well, I guess it is time for us to continue our training. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know she’s advancing wonderfully.”

“I’d rather hear that she was over it.”

“Time, brother. We just need time,” Adian grinned and walked toward Snowhawk. He nearly found himself at the wrong end of her blade, but a quick grab of her small wrist stopped her dagger inches from his face. “Careful, dear. Though, it’s not like you could do much damage,” he smiled. “Now, shall we continue your training?” She nodded slowly and he wrapped one arm around her shoulder and led her back inside.

To say Janus was a little jealous would be a gross understatement. The same could be said about his annoyance at Adian. Still, he had to step carefully. One wrong move and he would lose his bird forever. That was something he never wished to happen.

*********

Once in Adian’s room, the door again closed behind them. Snowhawk’s feline ears pricked up, listening to every sound around her. Her eyes were not quite adjusted to the darkness. A light brush against her fur was the only sign and warning anyone was near her. A half second later, a pair of arms snatched her up. She was cradled in one arm as the other trailed up her between her breasts, the hand grabbing her throat. “Surprise you?” Adian chuckled. “Now, how will you escape?”

Snowhawk moved her leg closest to him, hooking her paw behind his knee. “Like this, “she said, then quickly pulled her other leg around the on one already hooked behind his knee and used her arms to push off him. She managed to pull his leg out from under him, sending him collapsing backwards. He released her as he fell, and she jumped away from him but a slight hesitation on her part left her legs entangled with his. “Em–” she blinked.

“Very good, dear,” he complimented. “But,” he began, sitting up and grabbing hold of her ankles, “you hesitated.” He turned her so she was sitting on her rear, facing him, then slowly began to pull her to him, her legs on either side of him. “You enemy will take advantage of that,” he stated, grabbing her waist and pressing her small form against him. One of his hands remained on her waist as the other reached up and grabbed a hold of her throat. “Now what?”

She closed her eyes, thinking for a moment, then grabbed a hold of the wrist of the hand on her neck. She slowly, yet forcefully began to pull it away.

Adian could see the battle against her fear on her face. But she was winning. She had begun to pull his hand away. As a test, he tightened his grip on her. She whimpered and froze for a moment, then began pulling his hand away again. “Such determination,” he grinned.

She held his hand away from her neck with one of her own and batted the hand from her waist, then sprung backwards and away from him. She panted a few times, and a few seconds later collapsed to her knees.

“You are doing wonderfully, Snowhawk.”

She was silent for a moment, then asked quietly, “You’re not trying anything… are you Adian?”

“Snowhawk,” he sighed, “as much as I would love to have my brother’s place in your heart, I shall not attempt to take you from him. The only way I would is if you told me differently.” He paused, looking away for a moment, then back at her. “Or if he were to ever harm you. Be that in the physical or the mental sense. I don’t think he ever would, but if he does…”

She nodded and closed her eyes. “I understand.”

Someday, though, Adian thought.

“What now?” she asked.

“We need to work on your speed. You will have to react as quickly as you can.” She nodded in agreement. “So, if I okay this with my brother, what if I were to give you a small bite each time you hesitated?”

“I suppose…”

Adian grinned. “Good. I’ll discuss that with him.”

“Now?”

“Of course now. I’ll need you in your human form when I return, regardless.”

“Okay,” she nodded.

The door unlocked and opened, then Adian quickly walked out. A moment later, Snowhawk left the room and walked toward hers. Once there, she grabbed the first dress she saw and had no high collar. It was the long green dress Adian had given her. She shifted forms then pulled the dress on. She tied a ribbon of the same color around her neck to hide the scar, then fastened two close fitting bracelets to each wrist to hide those scars. She pulled her hair up and looked at herself in the mirror, sighing quietly, but never noticed the man sneaking up behind her.

*********

“You want to try what?” Janus growled.

“To bite her each time she hesitates. Think of it as an incentive program.”

“I’m concerned she may find being bitten the incentive…”

Adian quirked an eyebrow. “Know something about that, then?” he smirked.

“What I may or may not know about her is my knowledge.”

“I could really care less what you two do in bed. That’s not my concern. What is my concern it that she–”

“What?” Janus said at his brother’s abrupt stop.

“I think we may have an uninvited visitor,” he simply said, then turned and walked out of the room, Janus soon following after. The younger Lupino stalked toward Snowhawk’s room.

*********

A pair of arms slipped across Snowhawk’s chest and held her tightly. “Hello, dear…” Kione’s voice soothingly said.

“K– Kione.”

“Correct, love. Don’t act so scared. I’m here to talk.”

“About what?”

“Do you remember what you were in your past?”

“What”

“That silver Delphin, do you know what she became?”

“Considering who’s asking I have an idea.”

“I was the one who turned her. She was such a beauty. I couldn’t just let that go to waste. Her horn eventually regrew, but those beautiful wings never did.” He turned her around, tightly hanging onto her small waist with one hand, his other forcefully grabbing a hold of her jaw and pulling her head up. “I wonder, have you looked at your wings lately?”

“Why would I need to?”

Kione grinned, moving the hand on her back up to the zipper of her dress. “Just take a look,” he told her, slowly drawing the pull down.

Snowhawk held her breath for a moment, then jerked her head free of his hand and quickly stepped away from him. “No free shows for you.”

“How intriguing. The wolf’s training actually worked,” Kione said, grinning again. “But that is of no concern. I will have what I want. And I do enjoy a challenge.” The vampire advanced toward her, soon backing her into the wall. “You won’t be able to fight me forever.”

As Kione placed his hand gently on her neck, lifting her chin up with his thumb, the door to the room was kicked open. “Should have known it was you,” Adian growled.

“It’s a pleasure to see you, too, Adian. You seem to have overlooked something in her training.”

“And what’s that?”

“Just this lovely timidness of hers.”

“You just haven’t pissed her off yet,” Janus said, shifting forms. “Now release her, Kione.”

“Take her, wolf. I just wished to speak with her,” Kione grinned and let go of her.

Not needing to be told, Snowhawk half stumbled, half ran to Janus. He gathered her in his arms and glared at Kione. “Since when does ‘talking’ involve her clothes coming off?”

“I just intended for her to see something. Get her to show her wings.” Kione looked directly at Snowhawk, and said, “You’ll understand soon, dear Delphin.” With a slight bow, the elder vampire vanished.

“What was he talking about, love?”

Snowhawk looked away, not responding for a moment. “Nothing.”

“Do you still wish to continue your training?” Adian asked.

“Yes. I’ve gotten this far. I’m not gonna let some idiot vampire beat me.”

Adian nodded. “I do believe you’ve had your share of excitement for the night, though. I’ll leave you two for now.” He slightly bowed his head to them, then turned and left the room.

“Now, what was this about your wings, love?”

“I can’t really say, I’ve not looked at them since my change. No need to.”

“Well, let’s see what he was talking about,” Janus said, leading her to the bed. He unzipped her dress the rest of the way and slid it forward and off her torso, then sat off to her side. She closed her eyes and exposed her wings.

She gasped when she looked back. Instead of her dragon wings were a pair of dark amethyst hued feathered wings. “What the hell…”

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 21

“Fea– feathers,” Snowhawk gasped. A moment later, she wavered a bit, then fainted.

Janus quickly caught her before she fell off the bed. “Love, wake up,” he said quietly, gently stroking her face.

She was out for only a moment before she came to. “What–”

“Shh, don’t speak right now. We’ll learn why later,” Janus smiled. “They are very beautiful, though,” he said, gently stroking low on her back. She leaned against him and soon had drifted to sleep. “You put yourself through too much, love,” he whispered.

*********

Elsewhere in the city, Quillen paced in his room. Nytehawk had not been pleased about Snowhawk’s escape, nor was she pleased about the rumors she had heard about him raping and nearly killing Snowhawk. After almost a month, he finally managed to convince Nytehawk that the rumors held no truth.

He felt no remorse for what he had done. He planned on using any means necessary to take her back. After all, Snowhawk was his. She had given herself to him. They had a child. There were ways in which he knew her that the wolf could never hope to know. He grinned, knowing that somewhere in her, Snowhawk would forever hold a loyalty to him. That was such a wonderful thing. She was marked as his now. The scars added so much to her beauty. His grin grew as he thought of her small wrists in his hand. She was such a tiny thing, smaller than he remembered, and that made her all the more desirable. And to hear her cries of pain, he thought, his grin growing more devious. She would certainly be a joy to have around once more. And this time, he would make sure that damned wolf didn’t interfere. Janus had found him far to easily.

*********

Miles away from the city, on the far side of the forest and closer to the sea, a silvery haired vampire grinned in the comforts of his estate as he watched an image of his feathery winged interest sleep in a large viewing orb. “So peaceful,” he grinned. “Just as I remembered. And soon I will hold her again. That idiot Quillen aided me so greatly last time, though he’d never know it. Maybe he will again… or maybe it will be Adian this time,” Kione nearly purred as he touched the image of her on the orb. She moved in response. “Oh, excellent. That little bit of toxin I got into her still remains.” He again grinned as he touched her throat, leading to her leaning her head back. “Adian will never fully break her of this. She shall still remain vulnerable as she sleeps.” He ran his hand along her form, causing her to move as if she were trying to escape. “I’m sure I could find a use for that currently mortal wolf as well,” he chuckled, watching as Janus awoke, confused as to why his love was so restless. “This is almost too perfect.”He watched her for a moment longer, then jumped as the orb in front of him shattered. The soft chuckles of a female was heard directly after.

“Dammit, not you…” Kione growled as he turned around.

“Aww, Kione, don’t sound so upset,” the woman said, grinning.

“What do you want, Anya?”

She gave a childish giggle. “So you do remember my name after all these years.” She smirked and ran her hand through her short, dark blonde hair. “I figured you could use a bit of help.”

“You? Willingly giving me help?” Kione scoffed, folding his arms across his chest. “What’s the catch?”

“I want the wolves.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes.”

“Sorry. Adian has far too much potential.”

“Aww, I can train him.”

“No.”

“You never were any fun.”

“One wolf or no deal.”

“Fine. I like the older one more anyway.”

Kione shook his head. “Such a fickle thing.”

“My sex life is none of your business. I’ll screw who I want to screw.”

“That’s really more than I care to know.”

“Say, what are you gonna do about the rest of that Delphin’s family? That cousin of her’s is quite– appealing.”

“You can deal with the lot of them.”

Anya grinned. “You’re too kind, Kione.”

Kione rolled his eyes at her. “I take it you have a least an inkling of a plan.”

“Indeed, I do,” she purred.

“Then tell.”

“Our young wolf is more than marginally attracted to the Delphin with feline tendencies.”

“This I’ve known.”

“If we can get her into Adian’s grasp, then you’ll ultimately receive her. After all, if Adian were to be, say, manipulated into handing her to you, wouldn’t that be so much easier than taking her by force?”

“So you do have a brain in that sex-crazed head of yours.”

“Don’t start and don’t question the powers of seduction. Once she sees her love with another, she’ll run.”

“I don’t see Janus as the type to cheat, though.”

“No man can resist me. Even you know that.”

“I hadn’t fed and you sure as hell appeared human.”

Anya grinned. “You can’t deny it though.”

“No, I can’t. But you that isn’t the issue now. We have work to do.”

*********

Ten weeks later, the feline formed Snowhawk padded down one of the hallways of the estate. She noticed one of the room doors partially open. Being curious as usual, she walked to the door and stopped outside to listen. She heard Janus and an unfamiliar female inside, talking. Her curiosity growing, she peeked inside, and immediately wished she hadn’t. She felt like she had been hit by a truck when she saw Janus and the woman engaged in a passionate kiss. Her legs grew weak and she stumbled backwards across the hallway, hitting the stone wall on the opposite side somewhat forcefully. Her small frame crumpled to the floor and she sat there for a moment, numb, until she saw a shadow in the room moving to the door. She quickly composed herself enough to stand and run away.

She half ran, half stumbled down a flight of stairs. She slammed into a human formed Adian as she turned the corner at the bottom and was knocked onto her rear. “What’s wrong, Snowhawk?” he asked her.

She stood slowly, her head lowered. “N– Nothing.”

“Snowhawk–”

“Really, nothing,” she said, cutting him off and closing her eyes as she tried to blink back the tears forming. She began to move away, intent on running, but he caught a hold of her arm. “Adian!”

“That’s bullshit, Snowhawk, something is up. Now, what is it?”

“I was walking around upstairs and noticed one of the doors open a bit. I should have never looked in,” she softly cried as she sank to her knees.

Adian sighed, stooped over, and picked her up. “Let’s go somewhere else to talk. Someplace private.” She just sniffled, shifting to her human form, and drawing her arms up under her chin. Adian carried her to his room, then carefully set her on the bed. He sat down beside her and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. “Now, what did you see?”

“Some short blond haired chick, and Janus. They were–”

“What?”

“Kissing. Very passionately.” She drew her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and burying her face as the tears began again. “I should have known,” she whispered. “I can’t keep anything.”

The vampiric Lupino was somewhat confused. Janus wasn’t the type to cheat on her, especially someplace she would so readily find out. However, regardless of the circumstances, his brother had done the unforgivable by hurting her. “Snowhawk, look at me.” She shook her head, refusing. Adian sighed and gently took her cheek in his hand, carefully pulling her face up. He smiled and leaned down to her, then with out a word, he kissed her softly, but quite passionately. Snowhawk didn’t fight him. Her arms and legs uncurled as he pulled her a little deeper into the kiss. His free hand ran across her stomach as he pulled away a moment later. “There, now you’re even.”

She lowered her head, looking away. A few more tears fell from her eyes and she hid her face in her hands. “Why would he?! Why the hell can’t I hang onto anything?!”

“Snowhawk,” Adian began, pulling her into his arms and holding her, “there’s no excuse for what he’s done. But please, don’t give up on everything.”

“I don’t deserve this,” she quietly said, pushing herself away from him and beginning to stand.

“Where are you going?”

“Off to find Kione and let him turn me. I won’t hurt then.”

Adian grabbed her arm and pulled her back. “You most certainly are not. You don’t know what he’s capable of.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does,” he said, the concern in his voice quite clear. “Especially when there’s someone in this room that would do anything to make you happy.”

“What?” she replied, blinking.

“You heard me, dear. I would do anything to make you happy,” he stated as he moved behind her and began to massage her shoulders.

“Adian…”

*********

To go back in time, a little after Snowhawk had seen Janus and the short haired blond female engaged in a kiss, Janus pushed the woman away from him, having heard a soft thud outside. He never made it to the door since the woman grabbed him before he reached it. She was surprisingly strong. She purred as she wrapped herself around him. “Don’t be so jumpy. There’s still so much I want to do to you.”

“And you won’t get the chance. Now, unhand me.”

“Not a chance in hell,” she grinned, then bit him high on his neck and released a toxin into him. “That was nothing vampiric, but you’re my toy now.”

“What?!”

“I like you, wolf. And besides, you wouldn’t have had that Delphin forever. Kione would have taken her from you eventually.”

“Let me go, woman. I have no interest in you.”

“You will soon enough,” she purred.

*********

Adian massaged Snowhawk’s shoulders and back until she was nearly asleep. “Hey, you can’t fall asleep yet,” he said tickling her side gently. She responded with a soft, half smile. Adian smiled at this and tickled her more. Within a few moments of her wriggling and trying to get away, she wound up laying on her back on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chest in an attempt to offer a little protection. Adian, laying beside her on his left side laughed quietly at her and slid his right arm across her stomach. They fell silent for a moment, looking at each other, then Adian leaned over to her and kissed her again. She uncurled her legs as he moved over her and leaned into the kiss, gently pushing her back into the bed. He moved over her and straddled her then his hands drifted down her sides and under her top. They moved back up, pulling her shirt with them, stopping at her breasts and gently massaging them.

Snowhawk pulled her head away, looking off. “I shouldn’t,” she whispered.

“You’re not,” he responded. “Please, just go with it.” The Delphin still looked unsure, and worried. Adian sighed, then gave her a gentle nuzzle. “You don’t think like me. Doing the same thing that’s been done to you isn’t your way of getting even. Deep in your heart, you don’t want to because of how you feel for him. It was truly wrong of me to go this far. I just want you happy. That is what you deserve.”

“Adi,” She sighed and returned the nuzzle. “Thank you.”

“Shall I return you to your room?”

“Doesn’t matter. I just don’t want to be alone.”

Adian nodded. “I understand,” he replied. “I’ll return you to your room. But I will stay with you.” She blushed and smiled softly. “So adorable,” he said as he picked her up and carried her off.

Once to her room and at her bed, he pulled the sheets down, then placed her on the bed and pulled the sheets up to her waist. He then lay down beside her, wrapping his arms around her and holding her tightly. Snowhawk soon drifted to sleep in his arms. Adian smiled and gently kissed the top of her head.

*********

Back upstairs, a very unclothed Janus lay on his back, restrained by the equally unclothed Anya’s mind control. She was straddling him, doing everything she knew to do to get him to show some interest in her. She finally growled and sat down on his stomach. “What’s wrong, wolf? Having some– personal problems?”

“You do absolutely nothing for me. I care for my bird too much.”

“Do you now? Well, I believe your brother is doing a fine job of ‘caring’ for her now.”

“He’s what?” Janus growled.

She pulled a small viewing orb from the air. “Look here.”

Janus saw the scene from a few moments earlier, of Adian kissing Snowhawk. “Well, he certainly wasted no time.”

“No, he didn’t,” she grinned, waving her hand and making the orb vanish. “I can make you forget about them.”

“Release me, woman. I have business to talk with Adian.”

“First of all, I do have a name. It’s Anya. Secondly, I can’t let you go, Janus.”

“For the last fucking time, woman. Let. Me. Go.”

“No.”

Janus growled and shifted forms. He knocked Anya aside and into the wall. “I warned you.”

“How did you–?!”

“Love is too strong to be held back forever.”

She slowly stood, wincing in pain. “Running to take your little slut away from someone that may just care for her more than you?”

“If Snowhawk is a slut because she truly loves more than one, then I wouldn’t take her any other way,” he growled. “How she loves my brother and me is something you couldn’t begin to understand. I know her too well.”

“Certainly didn’t seem any different.”

“Because of you, my bird has been hurt. You won’t succeed in making me blame her.”

“Then you don’t blame him either?”

“I never said that. Now. Leave. I don’t have time for you.”

Anya grinned. “I’ll get you yet, wolf.”

“Only in whatever perverted dreams you may have.”

“Dammit! Why does everyone assume that!?” Janus rolled his eyes at her and walked away. “Well, fuck,” she scowled, then vanished.

*********

A naked Anya reappeared in Kione’s study, directly in front of said vampire’s chair. “That damn wolf will be harder to get than I thought.”

Kione looked up from the neck of the young woman he’d been feeding on. He pulled away and dropped her limp, nearly lifeless form. “Must you interrupt me while I’m feeding?”

“You didn’t warn me he’d be that loyal to her.”

“And you didn’t expect it. And put some clothes on, woman.”

“Most everyone shows some interest. There was nothing!”

“Then it appears that you’ll have to find a new way of capturing him.”

She rolled her eyes, then pointed to the girl on the floor. “You gonna finish that?”

“By all means take it. I’ll find something else.”

Anya grinned, grabbed the girl, and vanished.

*********

Back at Janus’ estate, Adian held the sleeping Snowhawk. She slept facing him, her back to the door. The room was dark and very peaceful.

At least, it was until Janus burst into the room. “You have a hell of a lot of explaining to do, brother.”

“Do I now?”

“Yes.”

“Why should I be the one explaining. I wasn’t the one to hurt her.”

“Do you really think I was a willing participant?”

“Snowhawk,” Adian began, having noticed she’d awakened, gently lifting her chin up, “what did you see?”

“I– ” she started, then the tears returned to her eyes. She looked away, closing her eyes. A half moment later, she shifted to full feline form and wiggled away from Adian, jumped from the bed, and ran out of the room before either of the Lupino could catch her. They ran after her, but she was already quite far ahead.

*********

At some point earlier that night, an early, heavy, snow had begun to fall. The small lavender feline didn’t mind though. This would only hide her tracks, as it fell heavy and fast. For even thinking Janus would cheat on her proved, to her at least, that she didn’t deserve him. And she’d almost allowed Adian to take her. “Why?” she cried as the bounded through the ever deepening snow falling on the city streets. “I don’t deserve either of them.” She finally grew tired and fell into a snow drift forming on the side of the road.

A moment later, Kione appeared near her small form. He smiled softly and knelt next to her, then brushed the snow from her fur and picked her up. “Hello, dear.” He gently stroked her fur and turned to walk away, wrapping his dark cloak around the two of them and shielding her from the night air. “That certainly went well,” he grinned.

*********

Only a few more moments passed before Janus and Adian found where she had been. Kione’s footprints were already well covered and him hiding her in his cloak masked her scent. “Someone has picked her up,” Janus silently said.

“I think I may know who.”

“How so?”

“She was weakened, mentally. We’re both to blame, really. But there is an opportunistic hunter waiting for just such a time.”

“You’ve lost me.”

“Kione. I’d even go so far as the say he planned all this. Did that woman say her name?”

“Yes. Anya.”

“Should have known. She was apparently once very close to Kione, but is now an annoyance to him. I never met her myself.”

“Then why is she here?”

“Hell if I know exactly,” Adian sighed. “But she’s not really the problem. If Kione bites her, we’ll have twelve hours, at the most, depending on his intentions.”

“Then?”

“I really don’t think you’re that dense, Janus.”

“Where is he?”

“His home, most likely. Or on his way to it.” I don’t think he’ll try to turn her for a while. He’ll spend some time wearing her down further. That will offer us some time. However, you don’t need to go anywhere near either of them.”

“Why?”

“That little slut bit you. Whatever she used to control you–”

“You knew?”

“Of course. In any case, what ever she did to you most likely has a residual effect.” Janus said nothing in response, but the feeling of helplessness he had showed in his eyes. “You can’t protect her all the time, Janus. You’re mortal. You have to rest. And you’ll make mistakes. And so, I’ll give you a second chance. Especially considering you were being controlled. Now, you should go back and wait.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to talk with Kione,” the younger Lupino stated, then stalked away.

“I can’t believe I’m trusting him him of all people,” Janus said as he turned and walked back toward his estate. But he had to trust Adian. The younger Lupino was his only his only hope for getting her back.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 22

Shielding her against the cold, Kione grinned at the lavender feline in his arms. It has been far too easy to find her, but that only meant Anya’s plan worked better than she thought it would. The feline he held was damp and shivered, but made no other movement. He could feel his sleeves becoming wet with melted snow, and the warmth in the area where her head was told of tears being shed. “Poor thing,” he whispered. “But soon, you won’t hurt anymore. Don’t be afraid. There is a world on the other side that you can’t imagine, but your soul has seen it. I was the one to take you then, and I shall be the one to bring you back again.”

Snowhawk was numb. Not so much from the cold, but from everything that had occurred over the past few months. She cried softly, burying her face into the arms of the man that held her. She knew who held her, though to say she cared was a long stretch of the imagination. Still, Adian’s warning rang through her mind. “Adian… Janus,” she whimpered, “What have I done?” She clenched her tiny paws in anger, inadvertently sinking her own claws into her arm.

Kione had heard her cries, and her question, but it was the scent of blood that made him stop. He moved his cloak aside to see the feline’s arm streaked with her own blood, as was the bottom of the opposing paw. “It is not your time yet, dear Delphin,” he sighed and carefully grasped her wounded leg. A moment later, he moved his hand, and the wound had been healed. She blinked and looked up at him in slight confusion, to which he returned a small smile, after which she looked down again. “You don’t deserve pain, little one, just gentleness,” he said, stroking her fur.

Gentleness, she thought, he said nothing of kindness. But I guess I don’t deserve that either. She clinched her eyes shut and cried again. This time the vampire reached up and gently stroked her head.

“Soon, dear Delphin, you won’t hurt like this anymore. You’ll be free from them,” he said as he turned down a darkened path. His hand moved to the longer, blue fur on the back of her neck and he gently scratched there.

Some time later, the vampire still soothingly scratching her fur, she thought, This place seems warmer, and it smells of salt. Are we really near Dia’ru? How is that possible? She grew a little nervous. Dia’ru, unlike her city of Ametition and the southern Delphin city of Juv, was a haven for open slavery.

“We’re almost home, dear little cat, but don’t fear, we’re not going into that slum of a city,” Kione replied, almost as if he could read her mind.

“How did we get so far so quickly?” she asked, her voice just above a whisper.

“Vampires can travel fast, dear.”

It wasn’t long after that they were stopped by a man who stepped from the shadows. The man was tall, well-muscled, and his expression did not make him an inviting figure. Kione stopped, half-grinning, half-glaring at the figure. He’d sensed him miles ago.

“Lovely Feln you’ve got there. Or Delphin. Can’t tell which. Hand her over and neither of you will get hurt.”

“Are you serious? You don’t even know what species she is, yet you want to sell her in that shit-hole of a city? I think not.”

The man was taken aback. He had not said anything about selling her, which was the intention, yet this man somehow knew. He growled and shook the thought away. “You don’t scare me.”

“Then you do not know what I am, so I suggest you leave before I rend you limb from limb.” Kione may have been smaller than the man, but Snowhawk knew this was no empty threat.

The man was growing ever nervous. “Look, man, I just want that cat.”

The vampire grinned wider. “She’s not for sale, nor will she ever be. I suggest you leave now if you like your head where it is.”

The other man chuckled nervously. “I was told to find a cat, now I’ve found one, and I just need to bring her back.”

“She is no cat, you fool!” Kione hissed, baring his fangs at the man.

“Oh shit!” he exclaimed, as the vampire set the feline-formed Snowhawk under a very nearby bush.

“Stay here, dear,” he told her, gently petting her head. “Now,” he said straightening and removing his cloak to hang over the bush to shield the small feline’s view, “where were we?”

“Shit, man, what are you?!”

“Hungry,” the vampire simply replied, then lunged at the man.

A few moments later, Snowhawk heard the bushes near her crumple with the weight of a body being tossed on them. “Find me later if you don’t die a slow, painful death first. You may be useful,” she heard the vampire say. She still flinched as he pulled his cloak from the bush, dropping a few dried leaves on her fur. “Good, you’re still here,” he grinned, brushing the leaves from her, then loosely wrapping her in his cloak, and continued his journey to his sea-side home.

As she was carried the last few miles, Snowhawk silently thought of the scene a few moments earlier. That was certainly quiet and completely contrary to the old stories about vampires. But I guess somewhere in my soul I always knew.”

It was another half hour before, Kione’s estate could be seen. Once she saw the stone work, Snowhawk felt a rush of comforting familiarity. They had reached the sea by this point, and were walking along the coast toward his home. Snowhawk had nearly drifted to sleep after that point, strangely comforted by seeing some place she felt was her home, even though she only ever remembered being there once. Kione gently scratching her shoulders didn’t help relieve the sleepiness any.

Soon after they passed through the gates of the estate, and Kione carried the feline to what he’d called her room. He carefully placed her on the bed, still wrapped in his cloak. “Why don’t you shift into your human form for me?” he grinned as he walked to a closet, and pulled open the wooden doors. “I’m afraid we don’t have much in the room for you to wear, but there are plenty of clothes left from your past life in the castle. But for now,” he said as he pulled out a mid-thigh length, dark, silvery grey silken robe, and removed it from it’s hanger, “this should suffice.” He placed the soft, thin robe next to her on the bed, and then turned around to step a few paces away.

Snowhawk hesitated for a moment, then crawled out of his cloak, quickly shifting into her human form and pulling the robe around her body, cinching the sash tight, closing the robe’s front. She guessed her past self must have been smaller than her, as the robe wasn’t well fitted to her current size. She paused as she thought to herself. She couldn’t explain why she was following his directions, other than she knew the fate she had waiting for her was deserved. “O– Okay,” she quietly began, “I’ve changed.”

The vampire turned to look at her, smiling upon seeing her human form. “Excellent,” he grinned, stepping toward her and then reaching out to stroke her cheek with his thumb as his palm hand cradled her chin. Her eyes were clenched shut in fear, and she kept twitching as if she’d pull away any time, but still she couldn’t bring herself to. “Don’t be scared, dear one. Everything will be fine.” The hand on her face gently tilted her head to the side and he leaned toward her.

As she thought of everything over the past few hours, before she was carried so far, a single tear rolled down her cheek. How could I have done that? How could I have not trusted Janus?

The vampire stopped, and leaned back, not having bitten her yet, but having felt the tear on his own face. “Let’s make this a little more gentle,” he said as he pulled her toward him. “Perhaps a little easier to forget,” he continued as he leaned her back on the bed, then took one of her hands in his. “Don’t be afraid,” he repeated. He brought his free hand behind her head, lifting it and tilting it back, exposing her long neck. He paused for a moment to admire her smooth flesh, but as well note the long scar that still refused to fade. Then he gently bit down, sending both his vampiric toxin into her blood, and draining her at the same time. He remained at her neck, sucking her life away until he saw he’d fully passed out. He stopped then, licking the wounds on her neck to close them as he pulled away from her. “Sleep well, my dear. You shall awake to a new world.”

********

Roughly an hour later, a very angry Adian stormed through the gates of the sea-side castle. As he was well known here, no one stopped him or questioned him, even if he hadn’t been seen in a while. He followed Snowhawk’s faint scent into the upper levels of the castle, and to a well recognized room. He’d learned this once belonged to Kione’s dead companion. Stopping only to check and see if the door was unlocked, and finding it not, he soon began kicking at the heavy oak door, knocking it in and nearly off its iron hinges. “Real funny, you bastard,” the wolf growled as he stalked into the room.

As the wolf entered, Kione sat up from the bed with Snowhawk resting in his arms. “You’re too late, Adian. She doesn’t have much time left,” he grinned, gently stroking her arm through the silken fabric of the robe.

“It’s never too late as long as she’s still mortal,” Adian growled again, narrowing his eyes at the vampire. “Now hand her over.”

Kione thought for a moment, then carefully stood and placed the still sleeping Snowhawk back on the bed. “Take her back, if you will. Try to ‘save’ her now, if you must. But,” he grinned, “just remember that one day you’ll be doing this anyway if she doesn’t come back to me first.”

“Only once she asks. Without being coerced into it, or simply preyed upon,” he said as he closed the gap to the bed to pick the sleeping Delphin up.

“You know, it may be sooner rather than later,” the vampire grinned.

Adian simply scowled at him as he picked the equine up, and then turned and ran from the estate. “I don’t know how much time you have left,” he told her, placing her into his vehicle, “but I will not allow him to take you away yet.” He gently stroked her hair for a moment, then leaned over and bit into her neck.

*******

“What connection,” Janus openly mused as he waited in Snowhawk’s room for his brother to return, “does this damned vampire have to my bird?” He sat down on the edge of the bed, looking out the window. “What indeed?”

He thoughts were interrupted seconds later as the door to the room opened. “Just in time,” Adian stated, carrying the still unconscious Snowhawk to the bed.

“What happened?!” Janus asked, noticeably concerned, as his brother placed his love on the bed.

“He bit her. I had to try and save her.”

“You had to what?” the older wolf asked, confused.

“I had to try and save her. I don’t know if I accomplished anything, or if it was too much–”

“To much what?”

“Too much toxin. Two vampires can’t sire a single vampire. So if one ever bites you, trying to turn you, another one can try and save you by biting you as well.”

“And what if you did?” Janus questioned, trying to get his brother to actually tell him something.

“Either way, unless I did it just right, she’ll gain some vampiric powers. And one of us, who ever has the most toxin in her system, may be able to control her.” He looked at his now very concerned, somewhat angry brother, and continued. “Just hope it’s me.”

“Wh– Why?” Janus started, his voice cracking as he sat down next to Snowhawk.

“Why what?”

“Why did you come back?!”

“For you, you idiot. You can’t run this place on your own, especially with her and all her damn problems distracting you. Now you have a vampire after her, and you may as well have one on your side.”

“Did you know? That he was after her?”

“I thought I told you, no, not in the least. But he knew I was angry, and jealous, and somehow he found out about who she was in the past. I’m sure she’s told you.”

“The grey Delphin…”

“Yes. That was his mate. He wants her back.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

The chocolate wolf paused and dropped his head. “Yes. Hold her, be there for her. Be here when she wakes up, and look very carefully at her eyes. If they’re not hers, we have a problem.”

“What do you mean if they’re not hers?”

“You’ll know it if you see it. I have to go study somethings now that there’s a little bit of a break.”

Janus was still confused. It was like his brother learned how to not say everything on his mind after he became a vampire, when before every perverted thought in that red-head of his would come out whenever he felt the need to say it. But he wouldn’t argue with him for now. He still felt lost at what to do, wishing he could do more than just hold her.

********

Hours later, things did not seem to be going well at the Sininensusi estate. Janus felt a bulging in his love’s back, a short warning that her wings were going to be exposed. When they did appear, tearing through the silk robe, they did not belong to Snowhawk. The feathers were pitch black. Janus leaned back as he realized she was changing her form as well. First she looked like her normal Delphin self, then seemed to shrink back down, past the size of her human form. Once the change had finished, he realized the extent of how much the Delphin next to him was not Snowhawk. Her fur was steel grey, and her arms, legs, and ear tips were black, her mane and tail sapphire blue, and a spiraled emerald horn was in place of the silver-spiraled, amethyst horn that should be on her head. He also realized her mane and tail had increased dramatically in length.

Her eyes fluttered half open, revealing cold blue, instead of the kind green of Snowhawk’s.

The Delphin silently removed herself from Janus’ arms and stood from the bed, and for the first time, through the hole torn in the robe, Janus saw the black dorsal stripe running along her back. Oh shit…

Both mane and tail, and her wings drug behind her as she walked from the bed to a darkened corner of the room. Janus stood as she walked away from him, and saw a pair of hands reach out from the darkness, with a black leather halter between them. Glowing golden eyes opened as the halter was slipped over her head, as Kione’s voice taunted from the shadow. “I told you I would have her, wolf.”

“You just don’t know when to quit, do you?!” Janus growled. “You could have at least allowed her to recover.”

“I’m not as kind as you then, wolf,” he stated, finishing buckling the halter he’d placed on the grey Delphin. “Why don’t you go see what Anya has to offer and forget about this one?”

“Never. Why do you want her so badly anyway?”

“Look at her, Janus, can’t you tell who she is?”

‘I remember my past life. Things I was never told. I never understood it until now,’ rang Snowhawk’s voice through Janus’ head. “But that Delphin died!”

“Twice, if you want to get technical. But I saved her the first time. I couldn’t the second. She was powerful, beautiful. I couldn’t let that go to waste. But you know her heart, and how it can melt any ice around a heart.”

Janus did indeed know, and had learned about it many years ago.

“She was mine long before she was yours, wolf,” Kione glared as the other Delphin knelt before him, her head still held.

“So you’ll manipulate her to bring back the dead?”

“No, I just reveal what’s already there.”

Janus growled as he strode to the changed Snowhawk and knelt next to her. “Love, please, wake up,” he begged.

“This will be much easier once you realize she’s almost back to who she was. She’s no longer yours wolf.”

“No.”

“Suit yourself,” the vampire shrugged as he looked down at the Delphin in his hand. “Stand,” he commanded. Her sapphire eyes half-opened again, and she did as he told her. “Change,” he then directed, after unbuckling the front of her halter and slipping it around her neck. Again, she did as she was told, shifting to her human form. Her skin was paler than normal and she was much shorter, her hair still insanely long though now deep blue like the equine form. “So lovely.”

Janus stood and gritted his teeth. The mind control he was seeing was far, far to invasive for even his old self to care for. He hadn’t known what his brother meant by control before, but he was well aware now. He had the lingering question if he brother could be so controlled as well. With another growl, he batted the vampire’s hand away from the halter around her neck and pulled her to him. “She is no longer yours, Kione.”

The vampire just grinned. “Time will tell. She will come to me soon enough. And when she does, you won’t be able to stop her.” He faded back into the shadows and vanished.

Once he was gone, Snowhawk’s form began to shift back to normal. “Snowhawk, love, wake up. Please, look at me,” Janus pleaded.

Her green eyes slowly opened to meet his. “Wh– What happened?” She asked, reaching up and to the halter around her neck.

Janus squeezed her tightly. “Welcome back, love.”

“How did I get back?”

“Adian found you and brought you back.”

“How noble of him,” she trailed off.

“It was, and I am grateful to him for it.”

“But, what happened?”

“What do you mean?”

“Everything’s so fuzzy. The past few hours especially.”

“Do you remember Kione biting you?”

She held her head, and whined softly. “Vaguely. It didn’t hurt, and I don’t remember much after that.”

He hugged her tightly again, deciding not to say anything about the moments prior until he better understood what had occurred. “You’ll never leave me, will you?”

“Love, no, never,” she sighed, nuzzling him softly, then she flinched in pain. “Why do I hurt so much?”

Janus gave a somewhat relieved sigh then brought her to the bed and lay down with her. “Then we’ll rest together.” Janus closed his eyes and held her tightly as she cuddled close to him. He knew she wouldn’t leave, but what if that silver Delphin were to return? He knew if she did decide to leave, he couldn’t stop her.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 23

“Nothing could stop her from going,” Janus worriedly stated to his brother as the two spoke in the library.

“Reversions don’t usually occur this many years later. It’s very odd,” the vampiric brother replied. “But that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. If their old bond was strong enough, then time wouldn’t matter.”

“Is there anyway to stop it?”

“The best way would be to kill Kione, but that’s no easy task. I’d have to do some research, but I believe the silver Guardian swords are made from can be fashioned into jewelery and used to prevent it.”

Janus nodded, looking at his brother. “Thank you, brother.”

“You’re wanting to know something else, or you wouldn’t be so polite.”

“Yes,” the older wolf sighed. “Can he control you, like he does her?”

“He prefers females. He doesn’t want to control me.”

“That’s not an answer, Adian.”

“Brother, that vampire is so old and so powerful that he can control anyone he wants, thrall or not.”

Janus sighed again, frustrated at the indirect “Yes” answer. A moment asked he asked “Do you know what kind of bond was between them?”

“Are you really that dense, Janus?”

“No, but I was hoping I’d be wrong.”

“It does explain a few things, though.”

“Such as?”

Adian paused for a moment to find his words. “Such as how, ahem, ‘good’ she is, or so I hear. And how she never failed to seduce someone when needed.”

Not comfortable with the subject, Janus attempted to move on. “Anything else?”

“Emerald was a master of blades, especially small ones, like daggers. Where has her proficiency always been?”

“Small blades.” The older brother sighed yet again. “This shall be difficult.”

Adian nodded in agreement. “Yes, but right now, you need to concentrate on her. I don’t mean watching her like a hawk, but you need to be there for her more than ever.”

“What of Kione?”

“I’ll deal with him. If he was to get the idea in his head to get you out of the way first– Shit.”

“What?” Janus asked at his brother’s pause.

“He’s already got the idea in his head. That’s why Anya was here.”

“Do you think he’ll try it again?”

“Most certainly, though he wouldn’t go the same route. It would most likely be something more permanent.”

“I see. Thank you, Adian. I have some thinking to do.” Janus turned and left the small library, headed to his love’s room.

A feline formed Snowhawk met him halfway there. “Janus, what’s going on?”

she asked, concerned over the secretive nature of both her love and his brother the past few days.

Janus just wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. “Don’t worry, love. We’ll protect you.”

“’We?’” she asked, not exactly pleased with his non-answer.

“Yes, Adian and me.”

She’d not really had a chance to just talk to him lately, and most conversations led her far away from something that had been weighing on her mind. “Adi– Janus,” she began, pulling away from his slightly, “I think there’s something you need to know.”

Janus sighed and pulled her back to him. “If it’s about the other night, I know. Don’t worry, love. I may not understand completely, but I understand enough. And I’ve already kicked my brother’s ass for taking advantage of you.”

Snowhawk chuckled a little at that. “I’m sure,” she replied, resting her head on him.

Janus scooped her slight feline form up, then carried her into their room. “I thought we knew everything about you, love,” the wolf sighed.

“I guess it’s hard to know everything about someone, even if that someone is yourself,” she responded as he placed her on the bed’s edge. “What did you find out?”

“We think we can stop the reversions from happening again, but we need to find a Guardian’s sword.”

“Wh– Why one of those?” she stuttered, nervous about any kind of silver with that kind of potential to harm near her flesh again.

“If we fashion some form of jewelery for you to wear from it, it may work to keep you as you are.”

The question had to come out. “But who is the other Delphin?!”

Janus sighed, knowing the information should be given to her, but still hesitating to say it. “She was Kione’s mate. And an ancestor of yours.”

“Oh shit.”

Janus had to chuckle at her reaction. “That’s what I said.” He stopped once he realized she was staring nervously at the door. “What’s wrong?”

“Someone’s here,” she whispered, backing her way across the bed. She suddenly stopped and dug her claws into the bedspread as she felt someone’s hand on the back of her neck. “Janus, who’s behind me?” she whimpered.

“No one, love,” he replied, “that I can see anyway.”

She leaned down as the hand pressed forward on her, then rolled to her side as it forced her over. “Please, stop,” she softly cried.

Janus again felt utterly helpless. “Goddamned vampire.”

A nearly inaudible chuckle was heard, then Snowhawk felt herself released from the invisible force pressing her into the bed.

“What the fuck was that?!” she exclaimed, crawling back to Janus and holding him tightly.

********

Adian sighed as he stared at the book in front of him. The list of known Guardian swords was short, most having been reclaimed for their metal during the slave uprising. The only ones he could find belonged to Jerome, and the other to Legacy, who he now knew as Quillen. “This shall be difficult. I lost that damn sword in the forest and the son of a bitch still managed to find it. And he almost killed her with it.” He scratched through his short, red hair. “Now what.”

At the bottom of the page, one more weapon was listed as known to exist, written in almost as an afterthought, but the location was in a fuzzy range of coordinates. “I guess that’s as good of a lead as any,” the dark wolf grumbled. “At least it’s possibly close, and in the city. At– Bryce’s old estate,” he realized, checking his map.

He sighed and scribbled the range on his map, then folded it and placed it into his back pocket as he stood. “Then if I can find this damn thing, I need to find someone to work the metal.” He turned from his desk and walked out of his room to try and find the elusive Guardian sword.

*********

Kione chuckled as he watched Snowhawk through a viewing orb. He could still be near her without placing himself in danger. He scowled as he saw her cuddle close to Janus. “Soon, wolf, you will be the one watching, and you’ll never be able to get her back.”

He could just end this all now, Adian had failed to prevent her from being controlled by him. But he was not the type to just take a prize without toying with the rest of the game. He loved to gamble, and he loved a challenge, both of which he could find here.

“So when are you going after her again?” Anya’s voice asked.

Kione turned and glared at the female, for once in her true, dragon-like form. “Three days,” he said to the Avizon, “but why would you care?”

“So I’ll know when I’ll have my wolf! Duh.”

“You’re confident you can take control of him this time?”

“Of course. Once he thinks she’s dead, he’ll be like putty to me,” she said as she flopped across a couch in a very non-ladylike fashion. “So what will you do with her? Keep her as is, or turn her back into Emerald?”

“As interesting as Snowhawk is, Emerald was the only being I ever cared for. It isn’t even a real question at this point. The wolf has no claim to her, past or present self.”

“So how do we do this?”

“I assume you’re still proficient with that crossbow of yours?”

“Of course.”

“You lure Legacy, Quillen, whatever he’s calling himself these days, to Janus’ estate. Make sure he can get in, so keep Adian distracted on this hunt for a Guardian sword. Once there, where ever they have their confrontation, be ready.”

“I get to kill the asshole?”

“Yes.”

“Sweet!”

Kione sighed at her. “Poison the bolts. We don’t want him coming back again. Once he’s down, take Janus out however you choose. I’ll be visible by that point.”

“She’ll have to give in to you once she thinks they’re both dead, as much as she might hate Quillen.”

“She doesn’t hate him, actually. Don’t forget, I’ve been in her head.”

“Oh?”

“She feels pity for him, and is terrified of him at the same time. But there’s no hate for him.”

“Oh that’s even better, seeing him die, knowing he’ll never be redeemed,” she grinned.

“Precisely. Now prepare yourself. You may actually be useful for once.”

Anya grinned at Kione. “I’m always useful, dear vampire, but think of it as a birthday gift.”

*********

Three nights later, Snowhawk slept in Janus’ arms as usual, but their peace was not to last. Janus was awoken by a violent shiver going through Snowhawk’s body, and quickly noticed the look of pain on her equine face. Through the darkness, he could see a sword pointed at the two of them, and he smelled her blood.

“Hand her over, you bastard,” Quillen’s voice commanded.

“Never,” the wolf growled. “What did you do to her?” he continued to growl, noticing her to still be asleep.

“I should be asking you, you manipulative prick. Now back away from her.”

Janus sat up, pulling Snowhawk further away from Quillen. “What part of ‘never’ did you not understand?”

“Back. Away,” warned the former Guardian, advancing toward the two of them, until he was blocked by an invisible wall.

“The fuck?”

“Neither of us belong to you, Quillen,” said Snowhawk’s voice, accompanied by another, unknown female.

“Who the hell–”

The latter voice continued. “I am Emerald, the heiress to the Delphin Empire, and the first Royal Delphin to be killed by the slavers. The battle began with me, and it will end with her, my descendant. You have no business here.”

“I think I do,” he growled. “He stole my mate.”

“Then you were a weak fool. You have no business here, now, leave!”

“She is the mother of my son!”

“You treat her like a toy. An object. Not a mate or mother,” she glared.

Quillen had nothing to say to that. “Hand her over, wolf.”

“You will do no such thing, Lupino,” Emerald’s voice commanded.

Janus was utterly confused. Not about the decision to turn Snowhawk over to the angered, former Guardian, but over how a long dead Delphin could be controlling Snowhawk’s actions, without changing back into her old form. Her eyes were again, half open and dull, as they had been a few nights ago. How can they inhabit the same body?

“I don’t have time for this,” Quillen growled. “I will have what is mine!” He quickly lifted and swung the heavy sword in his hands toward Snowhawk. As expected, Janus, not knowing the strength of the shield, pulled her back onto the bed and out of the way. This broke Emerald’s hold over Snowhawk, dropping the shield, and allowing Quillen to quickly pull Snowhawk away from the Lupino, dropping his sword in the process. It was left behind as he ran from the room.

The male Delphin sprinted into the courtyard in front of the estate, grinning. “Finally, after so long, you are mine again and no one can stop me this time.”

But, he would be stopped by a crossbow bolt to the thigh. He screamed in pain, falling to his knees, then screamed again as another smooth, poisoned bolt embedded itself into his shoulder, missing Snowhawk by a hair’s breadth. He glared in the direction the bolts came from, as Anya’s draconic silhouette could be seen loading another bolt into the crossbow. Unable to hold on anymore, he finally let Snowhawk fall from his grasp, only to have her vanish before his eyes. She reappeared a moment later, in the arms of a man he didn’t recognize. One of his arms was around her waist, the other across her chest, and his hand was high on her throat, pointing her head toward him. “And just who are you?!” he panted, the poison beginning to take effect.

“It makes no difference, you’ll be dead soon enough,” Kione grinned. “Wake up, dear,” he told Snowhawk, who lightly shook her head and began to take in what was going on around her, from the site of a bloodied Quillen struggling to stand before her, and the hand of the vampire on her neck.

“Let me go!” she pleaded, struggling against the vampire’s grasp.

Ignoring her pleas, Kione kept his attention on the Guardian before him, who had finally managed to stand back up. “Don’t like pain so much now, do you?”

“Hand her over.”

“You just don’t get it do you? You aren’t meant to win. You’re just a pawn. She,” Kione said, referring to the struggling female in his arms, “was never meant to be yours.” Anya fired a third bolt toward Quillen, this one finding it’s home in his neck. “And now, you will die. For good this time.”

“No!” Snowhawk cried out, now struggling more. “He could have been saved!” she exclaimed as Quillen crumpled to the ground.

“There was no saving that one, dear Delphin.” She slumped a little his his arms, her legs going weak and tears beginning to fall over what she had just witnessed. “This shall be over soon, we’re just waiting on the next player.”

Soon after, Janus finally ran into the courtyard, limping, and having injured himself in trying to save Snowhawk earlier. He stopped several yards from them and immediately saw the vampire holding her, and the lifeless body of her former Guardian on the ground. He took only a few steps before a bolt from Anya’s crossbow found it’s mark in his side.

Struggling again, terrified of what would happen to Janus, she cried out to him though her tears. “Stop! They’ll kill you too!”

“Hush now,” the vampire said to her, tightening his grip on her throat. Then he looked at the light-furred wolf before him. “Do you want the same to happen to you as him? Will you keep trying to hang onto what is not yours?”

Janus took another step toward them, but soon found himself with a fresh bolt in his shoulder.

“Stop, now, before you are the second person she’s loved to die in front of her tonight.”

“You won’t keep me from her,” Janus growled. “She made that decision months ago.”

“And things have changed since then. I would suggest not moving again.”

“I said you won’t keep me from her, and I mean it!”

“Janus, no!” she quietly pleaded. She was terrified as he took another step toward them.

Soon another cross bow bolt found it’s place in his back. Janus just glared at the vampire. Another step toward them, and another bolt soon found it’s home in his back as well. With this, Janus fell to his knees, and Kione loosened his grip on the Delphin in his arms.

She broke free and ran to Janus, reaching him in time to have him quite literally fall into her lap. She leaned over him, sobbing, as he gently touched her arm, then fell limp under her, his ice blue eyes closing. “No– no, no, no, no. You can’t be gone!” she cried.

Not a moment later, Anya grabbed her horn, pulling her away from his body. “Come on you, I have plans for him.” She half-drug Snowhawk back to Kione, who nearly gleefully took her from the Avizon.

Snowhawk was numb. She couldn’t stand, and was honestly almost grateful for what she knew would come next. “That went well,” Kione grinned as Anya handed the Delphin to him.

“For once. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” she grinned, grabbing Janus’ body and vanishing into the night.

As soon as Anya had vanished with Janus, Adian ran into the courtyard. He bristled at the smell of blood “What the fuck?!” he growled, seeing Kione picking up Snowhawk. “Dammit! Let her go, Kione!” he yelled, running at the elder vampire.

“Wolf, you are as much of a pest as your dead brother.”

Adian stopped in his tracks. “Dead?”

“As is the former guardian. Too bad, you missed the fun. Anya just left with his corpse.”

“You son of a bit–”

“Adi, stop! Just– forget me,” Snowhawk said through her tears. “This is all my fault. Let me go.”

“On my brother’s memory, I can’t allow that.”

“Too bad,” Kione said, vanishing with the Delphin in his arms.

“Goddammit!” Adian howled. He was at a loss. He knelt next to the pool of blood where his brother had died. Snowhawk had been covered in it. “I swear on my life, my new life, that I will not let him win. He will not take her from this world.”

But he would need weapons now, and a quick look showed the former Guardian’s sword to be missing, so Adian hurried inside to find where he felt it may have been left.

*********

Hours later, at Kione’s sea side castle, Snowhawk stood in a darkened room in front of a mirror, apparently alone. She wore only a robe similar to the one she wore when she was first here. I should have stopped him then, she thought to herself, a tears welling up in her eyes. No, I should have given in. Then they would both be alive.

Her legs wobbled slightly as she stood, and her whole body wavered, and once she finally began to collapse, an arm caught her around the waist. She was stood back up, and the other arm again went around her arm and it’s hand held her throat lightly. The hand remained there for only a moment then dropped to the sash around her waist, untying it.

She made no attempt to resist him. The feeling of numbness wouldn’t leave her, and then she heard Adian’s voice in her head. I would do anything to make you happy. “Just forget about me…” she whispered.

The vampire ignored her talking to herself, simply pulling the robe open and off her shoulder, then sinking his teeth into her flesh. He fed on her only for a moment, then released her, never closing the now bleeding wound. He pulled the robe from her body, and removed the sash from it, then fashioned said sash into a halter around her equine head. It was not an unknown look. She often wore a silken halter when she was out with Janus. This brought more tears.

He left her alone for a moment, then a pair of unrecognized white furred hands turned her around. She gasped as she saw a red and white painted Delphin before her, with a long, silvery mane and tail, and glowing golden eyes. “I think we have some unfinished business,” Kione said, pulling her to the bed.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 24

Snowhawk simply lay where she had been left. Her only movement had been blinking tears away, and breathing. She simply hoped the latter would be done with soon. It had been several hours since the vampire left her, presumably to prepare to bring Emerald back for good.

It will be good to touch him again, permanently, Emerald’s voice began in Snowhawk’s mind. Sorry you won’t get to again.

Now I can’t even be alone in my own head. Snowhawk thought.

Nope, stuck with me until you’re gone and I’m all that’s left.

Then take over, I have nothing left.

Oh no, not until you fix what broke when I died the first time.

Snowhawk’s tears welled up further. I can’t fix anything. I’ve killed two men I loved.

No, you can’t when you think like that, Emerald chided. Now snap out of it before I force you to do this.

“Whatever,” Snowhawk openly said, finally moving her aching body to curl up on the bed.

———

Having moved into the darkened doorway, watching the lavender Delphin on his bed, the silken halter still tied tightly on her face, Kione grinned. It had been a thousand years since he last saw Emerald, but she kept appearing to him tonight. And Snowhawk, though a larger creature, was very similar. Perhaps, he thought with a grin, there is a way to combine the two, then stepped into the room. He quickly reached the bed, and grabbed the free end of the sash, using it to pull Snowhawk’s head up to look at him. “Aren’t you glad to soon be free of this?”

She halfheartedly tried to pull her head free, and being unsuccessful, she simply looked away from him. “Why are you drawing it out? Just get it over with.”

“It’s not that simple. Emerald isn’t strong enough yet.”

“Then make her strong enough and get rid of me.”

“I have a better idea. Why don’t I keep you around and bring her back?”

Snowhawk tried to pull her head away again, once more unable to. “Just kill me, please. I can’t stand this.”

“That would ruin all my plans. She can’t come back until she has the strength, and you can’t die until then. But if I find a way for you both to live…”

I’m willing if you are, Emerald’s voice began in Snowhawk’s head, unless you’re going to throw you’re life away over a man.

They were my life. My lives. What am I supposed to do now?

The grey Delphin would have shrugged if she had shoulders of her own. Outside of taking care of what you are responsible for taking care of, I don’t care. Do what I did, find their killer and murder her.

It won’t bring them back.

So? You might feel better. Put that dark silver sword your Guardian left behind before he died to use.

I can’t face Adian again.

Stop it. You can face him. You can do whatever with him. Bring him back here, then we both get our men.

“Well?” Kione said, somewhat impatient with waiting out her answer.

Snowhawk closed her eyes. “Goddamn you both. Fine. Whatever.”

“Just remember you will be mine. You will have your freedom, but I will know what you do at any moment I so choose.”

“With her in there, my head is no longer mine anyway.”

“So be it. Delphin, you are mine now,” the vampire said, leaning down to bite her.

“You could at least use my name…”

Just before biting down, he whispered to her. “I will when you earn it.”

********

Half-vampirism is rare even by vampiric standards. The condition is hit or miss. One can get all the benefits of being a vampire, or some of them, or simply get all the bad. Half-vampires can be born or created, usually the latter. If the condition is not reversed, or kept in check, by a vampire other than the sire, eventually a half-vampire will become a full vampire. The only way for Emerald to regain the ability to speak on her own without great concentration would be for her host to become at least half of what she was in life. Together the two could be a nearly unstoppable force, but eventually, unless a second vampire offered to keep the process in check, Emerald would take over, and Snowhawk would vanish.

It would be several days later when a car pulled in front of the Sininensusi estate. A darkly cloaked, hooded figure stepped from the car. Barely purple legs with shined, shod hooves could be seen peeking out from under the cloak. A smooth, slightly curved horn, and a short-furred muzzle of the same color could be seen from under the hood. The figure walked directly into the estate, no questions from any workers, and into the gardens.

The cloak wearer found a particular bench under a trellis that once held morning glories, and sat, and waited. Through slits in the cloak, pale arms stuck through, and the delicate feminine hands were folded in the female Delphin’s lap. She sat with her legs crossed at the hocks, and her head slightly down.

She wouldn’t have to wait long. The now-ever present Adian soon found her in the garden, and angrily confronted this intruder. “Who the fuck are y–”

“Adian,” Snowhawk’s voice began, “I need help.”

“Sn– Snowhawk! Where have you been?! What’s happened?!”

“I’m only allowed to say so much,” she said, looking up and revealing deep pink eyes instead of her usual green. “Once this is done, I can tell you everything.”

“Shit. He has you, doesn’t he?”

She paused for a moment, dropping her head again, then looked back up at him. “Yes.”

“I’ll do whatever I can.”

“I need to find Anya. And I need Legacy’s sword.”

“He’s sending you to kill her?”

“No, I’m doing this on my own– with his consent. She’s a liability to him, and I want my revenge.”

“You have to tell me everything when you get back. This isn’t like you.”

“I will, Adian.”

“I no longer have Legacy’s sword, I had it fashioned into a pair of daggers for you. I knew you would come back.”

“Adi– How did you know?”

“Because I know you. Come inside, tell me what you can, and I’ll give you the information while you do.”

“Thank you, Adian.”

She stood and walked to him, and followed him back into the estate. He heard both the steel of her shoes and a small metallic jingle he didn’t recognize as she walked. “What is that?” he asked soon after getting inside. Rather than tell him, she reached up and unbuttoned, then removed her cloak. She showed not only a newly regrown mane, but also a wide band of steel, with a ring in front and riveted together, now graced her neck. “Oh Snow,” Adian sighed.

She dropped her head. “I didn’t have much of a choice.”

“I know, dear,” he said as he gathered her into his arms and hugged her.

“So are you–”

“Half,” she quickly replied, “for whatever good that term is. But I’m being warned to say no more about this. Not right now.”

“I see,” Adian said, releasing her so they could continue on their way, taking note of the dampness left on his shirt by her tears. He could only hope that whatever communication line was connecting her to the vampire would be broken when he gave her the necklace he’d also had fashioned from the sword, as well as preventing any reversions to Emerald. “Can you speak of your phase shift?”

She was quiet for a moment, then nodded her head. “Some, yes.”

“Is this a Phase 3 or something else?”

“I’m not even sure. Emerald has told me it’s not, but is more of a result from,” she trailed off, and paused for a moment. “From what happened. From losing Legacy and Janus, then being made what I am now. And, there’s this,” she said, stopping in the middle of the hallway and holding her left arm away from her.

Adian felt the air around him grow colder and it crackled with static as he watched a long blade of apparently ice form from her hand. The blade was surrounded by electricity, and seemed to be cored with something resembling blood.

“And yet, as strong as this magic is, it’s not enough to kill an Avizon,” Emerald’s voice said through Snowhawk. “We don’t have enough time to hone it. Anya is a liability.”

The Lupino was unnerved by hearing a different voice than Snowhawk’s speaking through her. “Is this your magic?”

“Partially, in the electricity and the blood. The ice is all hers. Were Anya not what she is, or time not an issue, we wouldn’t have had to come back.”

“You’re both immortal, now. What time could you possibly need?”

“You know as well as I do, wolf, what happens after so long with a half vampire.”

“One can hope. So this– arrangement allows you to control her body more than just laying around?”

“Oh much more than that, wolf. But you’ll find out soon enough,” she grinned, then the grin faded to Snowhawk’s former, sad expression, as the icy sword in her hand vanished.

“Does she do that often?” Adian asked.

“Yes, and more.”

Adian sighed again, thinking this may be more complex than he originally intended, or perhaps the necklace would work better than expected. Either way, he needed to get it on her soon.

After a short time, they reached Adian’s room. Inside, he presented Snowhawk with a small box. Inside were two dark silver replicas of the daggers of her past life.

“Adian, these are–” she began, reaching in to pick one of them up.

“Everything but the blades are yours. I made sure the craftsman balanced them as closely as possible, accounting for the blades now being slightly heavier. You should have no trouble using them.”

Her hand shook as she held the dagger, not having touched the grip since she nearly lost her life on her final mission for Janus’ uncle. “Thank you, Adian.”

“Now, let’s find the bitch that killed my brother.”

*********

Several hours later, the darkly cloaked figure of Snowhawk left the Sininensusi estate, having found where Anya may be hiding. Adian watched her trot away, the sound of her steel shoes echoing back to his ears through the otherwise silent night. He honestly wasn’t sure if he’d see her again. Emerald had warned him against following them, and Avizon were no push overs.

He now had to think of ways to get her away from both Emerald and Kione’s influence. The necklace might be a start, but the elder vampire really needed to be taken out of the picture. Emerald might leave Snowhawk as well then.

“But how do I kill an elder vampire?” the wolf said aloud and to no one.

Or so he thought. “Might I be of assistance?” a black-furred, silver-maned, silver-muzzled Delphin offered.

Adian jumped at seeing the other Delphin behind him. “Who are you?!”

“My apologies. My name is Onyx. I’m a Royal Guard, and a remnant from Emerald’s time.”

Adian paused. “That was more than two thousand years ago.”

The black-furred Guard shrugged. “I was one of the lucky ones.”

“Why are you here now?”

“Do you know the duty of a Royal Guard? We don’t protect just one Delphin, but the whole family line. I unfortunately have been so busy with her son and cousin’s protection that I couldn’t watch over her as well. The Royal Guards are gone, except for me, for a reason.”

“I’m sure it was somewhat easier before the slavers came.”

“Incredibly. I may be an old Del, but I haven’t forgotten my duties. You are a better protector than my old self could ever be, so I wanted to help you with your vampire problem.”

“What will you do?”

“Help you kill him, of course. It’s been a mission of mine for years, since he took Emerald. The manipulative son of a bitch has had it coming for a while. And then maybe I can rest.”

The old Delphin needed it, it was obvious even if one didn’t know his age. “Very well, sir. Let’s go get a vampire.”

*********

Snowhawk trotted through the city’s outskirts hours later, searching for the elusive Avizon. Anya was one of the best shape shifters alive, and like most of her species, was an expert at hiding. But they’re not good enough to avoid me, Emerald had said, when Adian asked her about tracking Anya.

Emerald’s words were not empty threats. She’s here, the grey Delphin’s voice calmly stated as she nearly passed an unassuming, run down apartment building, like so many others around the edges of town. Snowhawk quickly turned and ran into the building. Slow down, dammit! She’ll hear those shoes of yours.

She doesn’t know it’s me. And I’ll stomp the life out of her with these shoes if I don’t slit her throat first, Snowhawk growled at the other female.

Don’t you dare lose her, was the only reply Emerald could manage.

Anya did indeed hear the loud, quick clip clop of shod hooves running though the apartment’s building. Were the building otherwise occupied, she wouldn’t have been suspicious as many Delphin still wore steel shoes. But the building was supposed to be empty, and had been for the past week or so she’d been here. As the noise grew ever closer she cautiously stuck her head out of the room she was holed up in. She nearly then lost her head as she barely saw and dodged an icy sword swung at her, and felt the tingle of the electricity as it missed her. “What the fuck?!”

The ice sword was dropped and vanished where it fell as Snowhawk simply pulled her cloak off and unsheathed the two dark silver daggers from her thigh sheaths. Her eyes almost glowed red as she then lunged at the Avizon, swiftly catching her and pinning her down. “Where is he?!” Snowhawk yelled.

“Where is wh–” Anya began, but was soon cut off by a dagger to her throat.

“You know who, you bitch! Where is Janus?!”

“He’s gone!”

“You fucking killed him, I know he’s gone. Where is his body?!”

“No, he’s not dead! But he escaped from me!”

“You’re lying,” she growled, pressing the dagger closer to the Avizon’s throat.

“Gah! No! He’s really alive. But he’s not the sa–”

“I will slit your fucking throat right here unless you tell me where he is.”

Snowhawk! She is telling the truth! Emerald’s voice rang out in Snow’s head.

No, she’s not. I saw him die. I’m not going to live with false hope he’s alive!

But–!

Emerald’s words were interrupted as Anya took a moment to regroup and push Snowhawk off her. “No, you aren’t getting away!” Snowhawk yelled as she quickly formed and threw a spike of ice at the still trying to stand Anya. The ice spike couldn’t completely pierce the Avizon’s leg thanks to her thick skin, but it did enough damage to seriously wound her. Snowhawk lunged at her again from the floor, sinking one dark silver dagger into her other leg and pulling her back to the ground.

“But he’s alive! He’s in the forest! That’s all I know!”

“So is that where you left the corpse? The forest? How could you?!”

“Goddammit, listen to me, there is no corpse unless he’s gotten himself killed!”

Snowhawk grabbed a handful of the Anya’s short hair, and pulled her head back. “Lying or not,” Emerald’s voice now said through Snowhawk’s body, “Kione wills you dead, and I will not disappoint him.”

“What did I do?!”

“You lost the wolf. That’s what.”

“He escaped!”

“You still lost him. And you’re lucky that I’m the one killing you instead of Snowhawk. She’d planned to drag it out and make you suffer.” And with that, Emerald, controlling Snowhawk’s body, slit the Avizon’s throat.

She remained in control of Snowhawk long enough to be sure Anya actually was dead, a far too uncommon occurrence it seemed.

How could you kill her so fast? Snowhawk questioned once she was finally able to take control of her body again.

Because making her suffer was not part of the plan. We don’t have time for that.

What’s next? Making me go kill Adian now?

Emerald sighed. You know Kione would never allow that.

Then what time are we lacking?

Yours.

Do I at least have time to finish my conversation with him?

I see no harm in it.

*********

The following day, Snowhawk slowly trotted through the gate of the Sininensusi estate. Adian greeted her at the door. “Is she gone?”

“Anya? Yes, she’s dead.”

Adian could still faintly smell the blood on her. “Come on, we can’t have you smelling like a killer.”

“Adi, I don’t have much time. We should talk first.”

He hadn’t realized how far over “half” she was. “I’ll meet you in the garden then. I need to take care of something first.”

Snowhawk gave a small nod and the two parted ways. She was a little confused at the chocolate wolf’s behavior. He normally would not be so secretive. Still, she went to the garden, sitting on the same bench as yesterday to wait on him. When he returned, he was holding a small, flat rectangular box.

“I had another gift for you, but I decided wait until you returned to give it to you. Close your eyes for a moment.”

She canted her head to the side, but soon complied, closing her eyes and holding her head up to wait.

She felt a bracelet soon close around her right wrist, then soon after felt a pendant press against her chest, and a necklace clasp was heard clicking closing behind her. Then she heard only silence in her head. “They’re gone!” she gasped, opening her eyes.

A black Delphin stepped from behind a hedge. “Excellent.”

Snowhawk looked at him, startled, then to Adian. “Don’t worry, dear, he’s here to help,” the Lupino reassured her.

“Indeed. My name is Onyx, I am your family’s Royal Guard, and I am here to finish what I should have finished when Kione took Emerald.”

“But, wait, how did they get out of my head?”

“Your wolf here had a necklace and locket fashioned of the dark silver from your Guardian’s sword. But that wouldn’t be quite enough, so I provided him with a bracelet made from it.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Originally, we planned to use it to prevent you reverting back to Emerald. Then Onyx informed me that I could use it to prevent Kione from controlling you. I know it doesn’t make a lick of sense. But the important thing is that it works.”

“For how long?”

“Until you take those off,” the Guard chimed in. “Or until we take care of the Vampire.”

Snowhawk looked down for a moment, thinking, “If you need a way in, he asked if you would come back, Adian.”

The wolf thought for a moment. “That could be an excellent idea, Snowhawk.”

“Indeed. If we could get in easier, with him not expecting us, that would certainly make our job easier,” the black Delphin replied.

“How are you going to get in, Onyx?” Adian asked.

“Make a distraction. I’ll find my way.”

Snowhawk paused for a moment. “If they can’t keep track of me, that will be a pretty big distraction on it’s own.”

“Leave the jewelery on then. And don’t worry about the vampire. He wouldn’t dare try anything to the host of his beloved Emerald.”

“Nothing he hasn’t already,” Snowhawk replied, seeming to shrink in size as she restrained herself from curling into a little ball.

Adian gently touched her shoulder, “I won’t let him.”

“Just keep those daggers handy, we don’t know if you’ll need them,” Onyx said, nodding to the sheathed weapons strapped to her thighs.

Past Secrets – Version 1 – Chapter 25

“He’ll be pissed, you know,” Onyx commented after a pause to the chocolate wolf, “once he finds out.”

“And so will Emerald, I’m sure.”

“Aye. Snowhawk, you may not be able to contact us for a while, so please let Adian and I work out the details”

“But I can’t just sit back and let her take over!” the Delphin protested.

“Then fight her,” Adian replied.

“Its not that easy, Adi–”

“Snow, you’ll be fine. We don’t know how long she’ll take over, or if there’s someway to reduce her power so you can keep her back–“

“Your bite,” Snowhawk began, perking up a bit. “Kione turning me as he did brought her out like this. Yours should reverse it.”

“Its worth a shot, Adian,” Onyx shrugged.

Adian sighed. The collar Kione placed on her was wide enough to keep him from easily biting her on the neck. “I’ll have to bite you somewhere other than your neck, which could be more painful.”

Snowhawk offered her arm to the wolf. “This is the least, after the neck, for me at least.” The vampiric wolf took her arm gently in his hands, trying not to think of how she learned that, kneeling before her as she looked away. “Sorry, I just can’t stand to watch.”

“Understandable,” he said just before biting down on her arm.

He took no blood, but instead just injected his vampiric toxin into her. She closed her eyes as he bit into her flesh, but never made any vocalization about the pain she felt. It was soon after that the wolf drew his head back, quickly placing his hand over the fresh wound on her forearm and healing it closed. “Are you okay, Snowhawk?” Onyx asked.

“Yes,” she replied after a moment of silence. “My head feels clearer too.”

“Good, that means his grip on you did loosen. It’s not perfect, but until we can either kill him or find the proverbial cure, it’ll be the best we can do.

After a few more moments of silence, Snowhawk quickly looked at Onyx. “Were the Royal Guards trained better than the Guardians?”

“I don’t know if ‘better’ is the appropriate term, but more thoroughly, yes,” the Guard replied.

“Legacy could mask his scent for a short period of time, were you trained for that as well?”

“Are you thinking we should hide him someway, and then he can sneak in easier?”

“Yes.”

Onyx nodded. “That would be better than just distracting him. Or making long enough of some kind of noise to get past any guards or workers.”

“He doesn’t have many workers on site and no real guards to speak of. The fewer that know the better, I guess,” she mentioned.

“Makes sense,” the Guard continued.

“Or,” Adian began, “Anya killed them all. He wasn’t so bare-bones with his outfit or concerned with keeping himself a secret a few years ago.”

Snowhawk shuddered. “I don’t know why I killed her. I was angry, yes, but more sad than anything. Now I’m just lost again. And if what she said is true, it doesn’t matter because I could never face Janus again,” she rambled.

Onyx gently touched Snowhawk’s shoulder. “That would most likely be Emerald’s influence. She did the same to the ones that killed her mate–”

“Wait, what did Anya say?” Adian interrupted, realizing what Snowhawk has said.

“That your brother is still alive. She said he was in the forest. But that’s not like him. That’s me. He was only ever out there for my sake. But,” she paused, “she said he changed. I don’t know how, Emerald took over. I didn’t believe her. I saw him die.”

“And I saw Legacy die, but I was wrong. Snowhawk, you can’t just ignore the possibility–”

“Yes, I can, Adian!” she exclaimed, tears welling up in her eyes. “I can’t go through it again. I can’t go through him dying on me again. I shouldn’t even be here. I appreciate you want to help me. But, I don’t even want to be here.”

“Snow…”

“I just– I can’t even think about it right now,” she whispered, doubling over and sobbing.

“No one will ask you to then,” Onyx said, trying to mitigate the situation, “but understand once we get the vampire out of the way, I’m duty-bound to go find him. Your mate, even though he’s a Lupino, is your family and falls under my protection. And I will try to help with this problem of any early death on his part.”

She couldn’t respond other than nodding her head slightly.

*********

Over a day later, the trio neared Kione’s sea side castle. Adian stopped his vehicle, figuring it better to walk the last few miles, and at least keep the vampire from stealing his truck. Onyx drew a cloak about himself as he slipped from the vehicle first, followed by Snowhawk, then Adian on the driver’s side. Snowhawk made sure the dark silver locket and necklace was well hidden under her dress collar, then paused a moment before following the chocolate wolf. “Onyx, follow behind us for a while, then once they’re busy watching us, you can sneak in easier,” Adian instructed.

“Certainly. And if there’s trouble, I can jump in quicker.”

The wolf nodded, then extended his hand to Snowhawk. “Are you ready?”

She drew a deep breath and sighed. “Yes. But I don’t look forward to how angry he’ll be.”

“I know,” Adian replied. “I’ll try to protect you.”

“And I’ll be waiting back too,” the Guard reminded.

“Thank you, both.”

The trio trotted to the estate before them, Snowhawk growing ever more nervous with each step. Adian and Snowhawk walked into the grounds, unhindered, not seeing a single other soul. They walked through the front doors into the entrance way, the steel of her shod hooves echoing through the large, cold, stone room.

“So they both return,” Kione’s voice growled as the vampire appeared behind Snowhawk, grabbing a handful of her hair near the base of her skull and pulling her to his side.

“Let her go, Kione,” Adian warned.

“What did you do to Emerald, you little bitch?” he commanded, ignoring Adian.

“Nothing!” she cried as the vampire bent her back, examining her.

“Bullshit,” he growled again, then seemed delighted once he saw the outline of the locket through her dress and realized what had happened. “So you did find some dark silver, and I guess the Avizon is dead. You’re not completely useless!”

Adian made a move as if to punch the vampire, but Kione simply side stepped away. “I said let her go! It wasn’t her doing!”

“Then it was yours? How would you know if would break the hold I have on her?”

“I didn’t, you dick. Let her go and I’ll explain.”

Curious to the wolf’s tale, he indeed released her, half throwing her at Adian. “Now get to talking.”

Adian protectively cradled Snowhawk away from the elder vampire. “I was trying to just block Emerald. She was making Snowhawk too violent.”

“Oh, like she wasn’t before. How many people did she kill for your uncle?”

“That was different!”

“Oh, right, she had to do those, she just wanted revenge this time.”

Adian growled. “No, that was Emerald. Even after she was nearly killed by him, Snowhawk never wished such harm on Legacy.”

“You can’t keep pretending, wolf. It is in her nature, and has been long before she was even alive.”

“That was Emerald. Not Snowhawk.”

Kione shrugged. “Take that necklace off her and see.”

Through out this exchange, Onyx had been sneaking through a side room of the building, making his way to the main hall. With his scent hidden, he neared a door that seemed to be leading to the grand entrance way, where he heard Kione and Adian’s voices arguing. He’d borrowed Snowhawk’s daggers, and pulled them from the sheaths he’d strapped to his belt as he silenced the door and slowly pushed it open.

Indeed the two vampires were arguing, and were just ahead of the Royal Guard. He cast the same silencing spell on his own hooves and quickly crept toward the group before him. The elder vampire began to turn just as one of the dark silver daggers sunk into his chest.

The vampire’s flesh hissed as it contacted the dagger. “You fuck!” Kione growled spinning toward the black-furred Guard. He immediately looked as if he’d seen a ghost. “You should be dead!”

“So should you,” Onyx quipped.

Adian took the time to move Snowhawk away from the other two males. “Please, stay back, I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“No, this will just drag him away from your fight,” she said as she looked toward the others, now engaged in battle.

The old Royal Guard was surprisingly agile for his extended age, and was holding his own well against the vampire he fought. But holding his own and defeating the vampire would require more hands. “Just stay here for now,” he begged. “We’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.” And with that he sprinted to the fight.

Snowhawk fidgeted where she was, stamping one steel shod hoof on the stone floor below her. Maybe, she thought, finally alone in her own head, I can shift into my feline form and help. Knowing Kione would never kill her, as that would also kill Emerald, she figured it was worth a shot. As she began to change, her fur lengthening, she felt the wall put up by the dark silver jewelery growling thinner, but once fully changed, she realized it was thankfully still there. She unsheathed her feline claws and silently charged at Kione. Though she was now barely five feet tall, when she pounced on him, she managed to bring him to the ground.

“Little bitch!” he growled, reaching to toss her aside, but her agility was better as a Feln and she managed to roll out of the way. The distraction of the light lavender feline was enough to allow Onyx to cut at the elder vampire again, and sink one of Snowhawk’s daggers deep into him once more.

The battle would continue like this for another fifteen minutes, until Snowhawk grabbed Kione from behind, her claws digging into his chest, sharp kitty fangs sinking into the back of his neck, and rear claws braced into has back. Onyx again lunged at him, sinking both daggers deeply into his body, and the elder vampire collapsed to the floor, assisted by Snowhawk half pushing him down as she lept from his back. “So you’ve won,” he panted, then grinned. “How are you going to kill me?”

Snowhawk paused for a moment, then an icy sword appeared in her hand. “The blood magic is sealed with Emerald, but I can still finish your sorry ass off.”

“I told you wolf. She’s no different,” Kione said, giving Adian a pained grin.

“This is different, Kione,” she responded. “I will never be able to rest with you alive.”

“Then why don’t I let you rest for a while?” he again grinned, then vanished before them. He appeared a moment later, one of his arms around Snowhawk,and using the other hand to hold the back of her neck, then he whispered in her ear, “Don’t worry, relax for a few years. Once you’re ready, I’ll be back.” Then he vanished again, and the steel collar he’d placed on her fell to the floor.

Snowhawk collapsed to her knees, staring at the collar. Adian and Onyx both rushed to her side. “Don’t worry, he’s gone. Actually gone. I don’t know where to, but he’s not in my head anymore,” she told them both.

“What about Emerald?” Onyx asked.

“I think she’s gone for now as well. But I don’t know for certain, I guess because of the jewelery.”

“What did he say to you? Just before vanishing.”

“That I should rest for a few years, then he’d come back when I was ‘ready.’”

“Ready?” Adian asked.

“That’s all he said. Then he was gone.” She shook her head quickly, then looked at them both, and the numerous small wounds covering them. “And you both got hurt for me. For nothing.”

“No, he’s gone. We accomplished something,” Onyx mentioned.

She sighed. “You’re right. And thank you both for helping me.”