Welcome back to the twelve days of Christmas, fantasy style. So far, we’ve had a god with a secret, two changeling cats, three fearless hunters, four lightning birds, five gold rings, six members of the Battalion, seven of the Elite, and eight greedy goblins. If you’re just joining the story, a small estate within the mortal realm has collapsed. All twelve days relate to the rescue effort.
On the Ninth day of Christmas my Craze Muse sent to me…Nine brave soldiers.
Blade? What the hell?
Logan jumped from the vehicle he’d driven back to the site and stared. The security fence, the mechanicalised gate he’d expected to swing open, was gone. Now there was – nothing. Not the site beyond, or the newly constructed dwellings. Not the tents littering the outer edge. Nothing.
His mind struggled to process exactly what he was looking at; like a visual moratorium . An all-around blind spot.
It was instinct to defer to the wolf, to allow him to prowl closer to the surface, because the animal detected things the man didn’t. The scent registered first, a subtle blend of sophisticated magic. If concealment spells had a flavour – this one would be goblin.
Why are you standing there gawking? Don’t you have a truck full of wounded soldiers?
As though the sarcasm soaked voice in his head was a trigger, the spell dropped and Blade came into view. He was watching Logan from the other side of the open gate, and wearing a ridiculous grin that flashed his own animal.
Logan flipped him off as he climbed behind the wheel again. His brother was right about his precious cargo. He was carrying nine severely wounded soldiers. Brave men and women who had volunteered for a mission nobody else wanted.
It was no secret the Fractured were establishing camps across the realm. Logan refused to refer to them as clubs – recreational or otherwise. The bastards were conducting experiments, and had acquired a family of hympes. Borrowed. That was the term one of the soldiers had used. Because the family had a long history of forced imprisonment. It made Logan sick.
They had been placed together during the Hympe Trials – a hundred-year contract enforced on the race – and had been tricked into servitude. The sorcerer who owned the original contract had convinced them to sign over their freedom for another century.
It was a gruesome history, and the soldiers in the back of the truck had risked everything to get them out. Logan was fucking proud to serve beside them.
Blade was waiting for him when he parked the truck. He left enough room for Riley, who was driving the second vehicle.
“How bad?” Blade asked, with no hint of his earlier humour.
“Bad enough.” He pulled back the rear doors and grimaced at the scent of blood and pain.
Zachariah was beside them in a flash, his dark skin pale. As though he were the one bleeding. And perhaps he was, in a way. The vampire could feel them, and had connected with the soldiers’ pain. It was Zachariah’s duty to protect humans, and the compulsion to help everyone at once was riding him hard. He was already fighting off exhaustion.
“Easy, Zac,” Logan said, placing a hand on his shoulder as he moved to enter the truck. “We’ve got this.”
When he felt Zachariah tense under his hand, he knew he wouldn’t see reason. Not without a little help. “Sorry about this, bud.”
Logan let out a low, high-pitched whistle, and right on cue, Maddison ducked her head out of the command centre. She had a connection to her brother, was likely fighting the urge to take his back, and Logan had just given her permission.
The sound was also a call to action. In seconds, he was surrounded by medical personnel, armed with stretches.
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