Chapter 17 .

Lily

We sat all in the cafeteria, but in separate groups. It was silent in the large room. I wasn’t sure about the others, but I could only think about the people that had died and the incredible loss we had just suffered while trying to take down the venefici. None of us had thought we were going to lose and lose so badly. The werewolves weren’t saying anything, but they were looking at each other, occasionally nodding or shaking their heads and I was sure they were still communicating with each other through their pack connection. They were probably communicating with Erik too. The three tricksters moved from group to group quietly whispering things to them that I didn’t hear.

An hour passed and then another one before Alvina stood up. “We need stronger magic than what we currently have,” she said. “Human magic.” I took that to mean the vampires weren’t giving up in taking down the venefici. The longer time had passed without anyone saying anything, I had worried they would abandon us. I still worried about that with the werewolves.

“There is a witch coven northeast of here,” Hare said.

“Their magic isn’t strong enough,” Jin said without looking at anyone.

Silence filled the large room again until Liam finally said, “There is a witch coven to the southwest, but they deal in darker magic. The pack has used them a few times, but mostly we avoid each other.”

“Would the zombie thing affect them too?” Victory asked. “If they can turn into zombies too, there might not be any of them left.”

“The venefici magic problem affects them too so that they can turn into zombies,” Liam said, “but they are powerful and I imagine they quickly took care of any zombies that might have appeared among them.”

“So we’ll go tell them to join us,” Alvina said as if it were that simple.

“It will be faster if Erik sends someone from home to ask and lead them back to us,” Liam said.

“Will he do that?” Gunnor asked. “He’s already sent out more of the werewolves than he initially wanted.”

“He’s fully aware of the danger we are all in,” Liam said. “He will do anything to save the pack including putting a few werewolves in possible danger to save everyone else. But I will ask him if he is willing to do that.” Liam paused and got that far away look in his eyes as he communicated with his pack leader. It only took a few moments before his eyes focused once again and he said, “He is sending some werewolves out to the coven.”

“What do we do in the meantime?” Coyote asked with that all knowing gleam in his eyes.

“We’ll wait here,” Alvina said. Her eyes trailed to my sister. Mackenzie shuttered and tried to hide behind my brother. He sat up a little straighter making himself bigger to hide her.

“But it’s going to take days, possibly a week for them to get here,” one of the human men in Grant’s group said. “What if the venefici and those zombies come back here for us?”

“I don’t think they will,” Alvina said. “They were going somewhere else and hiding their tracks along the way. It was only because we have two humans that are immune to magic that we were able to follow their trail. But even if they do decide to come back and try to fight us, I think it’s better for us to hold out here. We have some fortification here while out there we are exposed. In here, we can fight together while out there, they’ll have a higher chance of splitting us away from each other and taking us out one by one. So we will wait here.”

“Maybe we should send someone to follow them so we don’t lose their trail,” Raven suggested.

“They fooled us with magic once,” Jin said, “they can do it again.”

“Then whoever we send out there to follow them can just come back,” Raven said. “I’ll volunteer to be one of the ones to go out. I can fly in the sky as a raven. They’ll think I’m a regular bird and won’t take any notice of me.”

“I can send out two of our werewolves,” Liam said. “We can communicate through the pack so if something does happen, we’ll know immediately.” He didn’t give a chance for Alvina to put her thoughts in before he was commanding two werewolves to go back outside and follow the trail. “Be careful,” he told them. “Don’t take any risks. If you think there is any chance you might be found out, come back here immediately, understand?”

The two werewolves nodded. Raven followed them when they left. The room was silent for several long minutes afterwards, but eventually the individual groups started speaking again and the hum of talking buzzed throughout the room. I didn’t like any of the men in Grant’s group, but at least a few of them were sitting around him and talking with him now.

I didn’t see Alvina move, but she was suddenly standing in front of Mackenzie. A little squeak escaped the back of Mackenzie’s throat. Jin, Gunnor and Alex were immediately on their feet. Two of Alvina’s vampires were now by her side. No one moved as Alvina stared down at Mackenzie.

“I’m hungry,” Alvina said in her smooth, liquid tone. “Would you mind letting me drink just a little bit of your blood?”

My sister’s face went slack as she stared up at Alvina. Her eyes became mesmerized. “Okay,” she said in a stupor. Alvina had charmed her.

I was on my feet as Alvina reached a hand out towards Mackenzie, but Tanner was faster. He stepped in between them just as Mackenzie was reaching out for Alvina.

“No,” Tanner said. “I won’t allow it.”

Alvina’s expression changed from pleasant and calm to angry and deadly in the split of a second. Her hand flashed up and her fingers wrapped around my brother’s neck. He tried to gasp for air. He grasped desperately at her arm, but she did not relent.

“You won’t allow it?” Alvina asked in a quiet, low tone that promised death.

“He didn’t mean it,” Grace said now on the other side of Tanner. I rushed to the opposite side to help Grace plead with Alvina. “Please let him go,” Grace said as tears spilled from her eyes.

“We’ll step aside,” I said as I joined my brother in trying to get Alvina’s fingers off his neck. “You can drink from her, just don’t kill my brother, please.”

Alvina let go off Tanner’s neck. He fell to his knees and took in a huge breath as he clasped at his neck.

“Come dear,” Alvina calmly said. She held her hand out towards Mackenzie. Mackenzie took it and walked away with the vampire leader.

Tanner looked at me as if I were crazy, as if I had just betrayed him and Mackenzie. I hugged him and whispered. “I’ll find some way to kill her. I promise. For now, play along, please. You’ll do no good to Mackenzie if you are dead.”

Grace dropped to her knees on the other side of Tanner and hugged him. “Don’t do that again,” she said. Tears still fell to her cheeks. “She’s not going to kill Mackenzie but she will kill you. Please don’t leave me.”

Tanner wrapped one arm around Grace and the other around me. “I’m trusting you on this one, Lily,” he said.

Now that the moment was over and I felt like I could breathe, I looked around. Victory was close by and lightning crackled around one of her hands. I knew then that she was about to try and kill Alvina if Grace and I hadn’t stepped in. Victory was powerful. She had proven that, but she wasn’t powerful enough to kill Alvina. Alvina would have killed her first. I shook my head at her. Victory swallowed hard and let the lightning around her hand fade away. Arthur watched our exchange closely. He was standing and Molly was standing next to him. He had an arrow in his hand, but not his bow. When he saw our exchange, he put the arrow away. I got the impression he had just been about to try and kill Alvina too. That could have ended devastatingly for our little group.

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