Edward, Roswell and Rosen have escaped their confinement. Kaden knows that they are coming for him.
For within Kaden rests the Key of Wisdom.
Kaden and his lover turn to Kaden's sister, an Earth bound spirit named Sara for help. She leads them to Brigid, a woman who is not all she seems to be.
She tells Luke and Kaden that they must cement their love in marriage in order to fight the darkness.
But when one of them dies, even love may not bring them back...
He had become the beast.
There was a part of Kaden, that human part still inside his animal self, which feared what he had become. Edward’s magic flared inside him, and he felt his Wolf form shimmer brighter than the moon. Edwards’s blood still marked his mouth, his fur. He could smell the blood on him, and his Wolf self growled in appreciation.
Kaden let himself fly over the ground. He made his way through tall grass and felt as if he were flying, the air seeming to shimmer as he zoomed past. As he neared his home, he slowed.
The door to his home stood open, as if someone had been welcomed in. But that wasn’t what had Kaden stopping in his tracks. It was the blood that marked the front stoop.
Sniffing the air, Kaden knew the blood belonged to his sister—to Sara.
Kaden began to Shift. He knew he would need to defend himself, and the Wolf was still too new for him to trust its magic. He needed to feel, to see completely. He did not yet know how to do that as his Wolf self.
Fear mounted in his stomach; his chest tightened as he made his way toward the open door, being careful to step around the blood. He did not want to mar it with his footsteps.
The scene around him was one of carnage. He stepped carefully and quietly and made his way down the hallway, past the destroyed living room. Its cushions had been shredded, as if the assailant had been looking for something.
Someone—or something—had come here searching for something, and he or she had not found it. The rage in the destruction made that much clear.
It was the sound of ragged, wet breathing that pulled Kaden towards the den at the back of the flat they called home. When he opened the door, its movements silent, Kaden felt his world fall out from under him.
There was what appeared to be a family of dolls, life sized and painted red, sitting in the middle of the floor. It took Kaden only a moment to realize that the dolls were his parents, his mother and father.
And Sara. His sister.
She lay in front, as if she had been the last to fall, the last to defend herself.
Her face was covered in blood, long lines of it crisscrossing her face. The ragged breathing was coming from her. Sara saw Kaden and held her hand out to him.
“Kaden…?” She choked, and blood came out with spit and spittle as she coughed. “Where have you been? They came so quickly…” She moved her hand in a come-hither motion, however weakly. Her breathing urged him forward. The fire in the hearth crackled, as if it was angry at what had been done. Kaden held a hiss as a new log fell, sending sparks shooting from behind the gate.
“They said you had changed…that they wanted you…”
Kaden felt the Wolf inside of him rise in anger. The beast within him demanded justice. But there was something else within that howl of anger at what had been done to his family.
There was also another voice. It was not Edward’s voice; he was not speaking to Kane telepathically as he had done before. Instead the voice was his own, but darker. He wondered if it belonged to his other self, his Wolf self.
“You have the power to heal her. You must listen carefully…”
Kaden listened to the voice and knew what he had to do.
He waited until Sara had closed her eyes, until she could not see, and Shifted, letting the fur spread along his skin in ripples, hissing as it popped from his skin like sharp needles. He felt the crunch of bones as his body reshaped itself. He felt the Wolf take control, could hear the Wolf whispering to him, even though Kane was now a voice inside its head.
“I will not hurt her. You must do as I say.”
Kaden listened to what the Wolf told him. When the Wolf had finished, Kaden nodded, giving his ascent.
With something approaching a growl, the Wolf made its way carefully towards Sara’s prone figure, its teeth bared and shining in the firelight.
New York, 2008
Luke hated rush hour.
If he were asked to list his five least favorite things in the entire world, rush hour would take up the first three positions. Traffic jams were a menace to cabbies. They meant you couldn’t pick up as many fares, and possibly make more money, but also that customers got upset, sometimes angry.
Luke looked at his passenger in the rearview mirror. The man in the backseat gave his watch another angry glare, as if he could make time move faster with just his will. Luke sighed, knowing he had a Backseat Driver on his hands.
You got them all the time when you drove a cab. Passengers who thought they knew the city better than you, the cabbie, whose job it was to know the quickest route to anywhere from anywhere.
“Can’t you move this thing any faster?” the man in the backseat said. His voice was surprising: high and nasally. Luke would have pegged him for a deep baritone, judging by the size of him.
The man jabbed angrily at his BlackBerry. “It really would have been better if you had taken New Market and Third, like I told you.”
Luke sighed. It was going to be a long night.
The night began to feel longer when Central Park came into view.
Luke flashed back to that night, only a few weeks ago. Ever since that time, he could see things more clearly, as if some lens inside him was becoming clean again.
Luke saw the flash of silver, the arc of the knife as he brought it down towards his skin. He saw the blood bloom to the surface of his skin and spill from his body onto the ground.
When Luke’s blood hit the grass, the ground began to shake anew with a strength and force that threw Roswell and Rosen off balance. Edward watched in horror as the ground began to crack open.
Luke and Kaden watched as roots began to shoot out of the grass, long, twisting roots that launched for the Elder, Roswell and Rosen. The three of them began to scream, but their noise was cut off when the roots began to work up their bodies and wrap themselves around their faces.
The roots continued to pour out of the ground with great force, covering the evil men with their shoots and leaves. Finally the rumbling in the ground began to lessen, and so did the plant growth, but not until the trio of men were covered from head to toe in roots.
But when the cracks in the ground knit themselves, the real magic started. Kaden and Luke watched as branches began to grow, as leaves began to sprout from those branches, whispering and crackling.
Where there had been an Elder, a Rodent and a Dog, there now stood a circle of three birch trees. They glowed briefly in the darkness and then everything, including the air around them, was still.
Luke looked down at the scar on the palm of his left hand. It throbbed painfully at the memory of the magic he had performed with Kaden. Magic that he shouldn’t have been able to do, being a mortal.
The scar on his palm throbbed angrily as he looked at Central Park. The lights were brightly lit, and Luke could see a man and a woman pushing a stroller along the path, moving faster than any of the cars were at that moment.
But that wasn’t what had his blood running cold. It was the trees.
The trio of birch trees that had glowed brightly in the dark.
They were gone.