tagNonHumanStorm of Shadows Ch. 10

Storm of Shadows Ch. 10


Thank you for all your messages. I appreciate it has been a long time since the last chapter published. Work commitments and problems with my eyesight have made writing extremely difficult recently. I hope you enjoy the latest chapter.

Chapter Ten

Darkness covered everything. It was insidious, blanketing all light, all memories, all sense of time. How long had she been here? Was it a day, a week or even a month? She didn't think it was any longer than that. She remembered the concept of light, and she was fairly certain that if darkness had been all that she'd known for a year or more then the memory of light would have faded. Sensory deprivation did that to a person. It confused time and place. It messed with the mind until you didn't know which way was up or down, or who you were any more.

She knew her name was on the tip of her tongue. She could reach for it but it would only slip away again as it had so many times before. The creature would arrive and there would be the barest of sensation at her right side and then oblivion would creep back in. So, this time she didn't reach for her name. The crushing disappointment of almost getting there only to have it snatched cruelly away again would be too much to bear.

Something did feel different this time though. The clarity was stronger, and she was sure that she could sense a presence to her left side. Someone was with her, someone lay close and he was important to her. He! She was aware of his gender and his presence. That hadn't happened before. Perhaps she was becoming immune to whatever drug was being administered or maybe something had happened to their abductor and he couldn't come back to knock them out again.

Whatever it was it gave her the first tendril of hope that she could remember having. She reached with her mind, stretched as hard as she could, trying to force the clarity to come quicker. Her name...rain. It was raining? Why did the weather play on her mind when she was so close to remembering? Her name was almost in her grasp, she almost had it...rain. No, not rain, but Rayne. Her name was Rayne! Sarayne, and the warmth that was starting to become more pronounced to her side could be no other than Gard, her mate.

"Gard! Gard! Wake up. Hear me!"

The mental shout she sent towards the presence was nothing more than the faintest of whispers. She was far too weak for her telepathy to work, and just because she was becoming more aware, that didn't mean that her mate was. Silence greeted her, and the tiny spark of hope that had started to blossom began to fade. What did it matter that she knew who she was, and remembered Gard? If he was deep in the drugged oblivion that had surrounded them for so long, there was nothing she could do to escape. Even if she could move and was fully lucid, she would never leave her mate behind. As he would never leave her behind if their roles were reversed.

The only thing Rayne could do was wait, and hope that their abductor did not return. If he stayed away long enough then maybe Gard would shake off the drugs too and they could escape together. It was a tempting thought, one that fanned the tiny flames of hope once more. If she called to Gard every so often perhaps he would hear her. Maybe they would soon be free.

The shuffling sound of approaching footsteps sent a shaft of dread right through Rayne. No! He was coming back, he was going to drug her again, and they would forever be held in this captivity.

"Gard! Please wake up! Gard!"

Something flickered, a gentle fluttering against the surface of her mind.


The presence was there and it was male and so very familiar. However, it wasn't her mate. It didn't have the same scent and colours that wrapped her up in his love. This presence was dark, and it was brooding. It was midnight shades and deep dark caramelised cinnamon. Moreover, it was love...so much love and loss that her heart broke and she knew she had to stop a telltale tear from leaking from her closed lids.

Oh God no! Not him! They had everything else that she loved, but they couldn't have him...they couldn't!

"Run!" She screamed the word out with every ounce of mental power that was available to her, even as the sharp sting of a needle told her that her time was up. "Run, Kothi, run...please son!"

There was no answering call, but the presence was still there, alert, angry, and oh so feral as it slowly began to fade away as the darkness thickened. Rayne's heart slowed, memory evaporating as the drugs took hold, but her mother's love fought on, gave her a final moment of lucidity. "Agony...oh Agony...run my child."

She couldn't fight it any more, couldn't hold onto the spark that tried to keep her centred in the conscious world. Rayne let go, sank down into the abyss once more as the softest of voices danced inside her mind..."Mother..."


The wave of nausea crashed over Natalia so strongly that she couldn't halt the groan that ripped from her throat as cramp clenched inside her abdomen. She was vaguely aware of Dara speaking her name, however her eyes swung to the dark cloud in the seat opposite her, her breath catching at the rigid body language of the male before her. "No..." she croaked the word out, even knowing it was too late.

Agony rose like a spectre of death, fangs elongating and dark black talons curling from his fingertips.

"Get everyone out of the carriage." The voice was panicked but authoritative, Dara issuing instructions, even as she moved closer to the impending danger. She didn't look to see if Dante and the others followed her instructions, though Natalia could hear the others in their party moving quickly away from them.

It was a small blessing that there were hardly any humans in the train compartment. Something about their presence had seemed to warn them off when they entered the carriage and most had moved to other ones, a handful of the braver ones staying at the bottom end away from the group of wolves, hybrids and vampires.

Natalia couldn't drag her gaze away from the death in front of her...because that's what Agony was in that moment, the true embodiment of death. "Kothari...Kothari listen to me. You need to take control. You need to stop him. " How she knew that was what was needed was beyond her, she just said the first thing that crossed her mind, that felt right.

Long talons lashed out, ending a millimetre from her face, halted by a smaller hand. The hand wasn't gripping the wrist tightly though. It was clear Dara had reacted instinctually to protect her, but despite the feral state Agony was in, he had reined in his movement, as if conscious somewhere that he could hurt her badly if he didn't.

"Mother," hissed out of his snarling lips. "Mother!"

It was the last thing Natalia had expected him to say, and it appeared it was to Dara too, though she recovered more quickly from her surprise.

"Agony, I know something has happened that is distressing you, but you need to stand down, before you end up derailing this fucking train." Dara snapped the words out, giving a gentle push against the wrist that rested in her hand. There was an audible sigh of relief as he didn't fight the movement, his shaded eyes turning to stare at her before he swung back towards Natalia.

"He can't help her," he spat out, fury lacing his tone. "You call for a boy who cowers in grief, when I am the only one who can save her."

Natalia fought not to shrink back against his rage, knowing from pack life that it would be viewed as a sign of weakness and none of them could afford to be perceived as weak when Agony was so close to losing control. He appeared to be ignoring Dara for the most part, concentrating on Natalia, so she tried to keep his attention while the others made sure everyone else was safe.

"Well at least he wouldn't out the entire paranormal world and potentially kill us all including every human on this train because he was having a temper tantrum."

She was ready to pass out from the nausea and fear that was threatening to overwhelm her, but she pushed on, knowing that there was only a small window open to get through to him. "You brought me here to warn you of impending danger, Agony. If you don't sit down and behave I am going to throw up all over your pretty black clothes, you're making me so ill."

For a moment, she thought she'd pushed him too far, and then he slowly sat down, some of the menace easing from his body language. It was only as he sat that the nausea began to die down, and Natalia relaxed a little, her gaze going to Dara's concerned face. "It's okay."

Dara didn't appear too sure, and say down beside Agony, her arm brushing against his in a gesture that was so clearly pack related. She was seeking to soothe him as she would a pack member, though Natalia doubted that Agony would succumb to pack when he was this wound up.

"What happened, Agony? Is Rayne okay? Were you able to contact your parents?" Dara asked, quietly, as the rest of their team slowly returned, each sitting down nearby but no one interjecting into the conversation.

He watched the others sit, his expression blank, and then he sucked in a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, and slowly exhaled. "She was there for a moment, but was very weak in mental contact. She called to Kothari...told him to run. Then she told me to run, as if I would even consider it."

A ghost of a smile flashed across Dara's lips at his derisive tone, as if she couldn't help being amused despite the tense situation, and then her expression turned thoughtful. "Don't you see that this is good news, Agony? We're clearly headed in the right direction, and there has been contact with Rayne even if it has been brief. Yes, there is strong danger ahead if she told you to run, but we've known that all along, and we can be prepared for it. This isn't a bad thing that has happened, but a good thing. We are getting closer with each passing moment."

Dara's words appeared to have the effect that she'd been working for, as Agony relaxed further, his brow furrowing in a thoughtful frown. "We need to plan for when we arrive at Braşov. I am sure I will be able to pick up my parents scent there when we arrive. It is getting harder to maintain control, Dara. The closer I get to them, the harder it will be to maintain any sliver of civility. I will destroy all who have laid hands on my parents. I suggest you work out what you need to do to keep collateral damage to a minimum."

Natalia had no doubt in her mind that what he meant as collateral damage was the people travelling with him. That should have terrified her, but for some strange reason she felt calm. Perhaps Agony was not as far gone as he believed he was. On the other hand, perhaps it just meant that no matter what happened in the future, there was no direct threat to her own life. That didn't mean that the others would come out of everything unscathed, and that was a worrying thought.

"There will be no collateral damage," Dara said firmly, a sternness crossing her pretty features that Natalia had never seen before. "We are all here for the same reason and you will not go AWOL again, Agony. You might not like being pack but you damned well are pack. We work together as a team and that's what makes us stronger. Yes, we will plan, but we will plan to make sure that we bring home Gard and Rayne together...all of us. So, you better get that into your thick skull or I will call Rafe right now and tell him to send over Demetri and Kal to deal with your sorry ass. Am I making myself clear?"

Natalia didn't know what to expect, but she certainly hadn't expected laughter. Agony actually threw his head back and barked out a loud laugh, startling everyone who had been imagining a more volatile response.

"You think I am afraid of Demetri? Yes, he is impressive, but I could kick his ass with one hand tied behind my back."

"Maybe you think you could, Agony, but I am sure Kothari remembers the story of what Demetri and the Romanovs did to a coven that pissed Demetri off," Dara retorted. "I'd like to see you try to take on Kal, though. Now that would be an interesting match to watch."

In reply, Agony closed his eyes and rested his head against the seat, his body language making it clear that the conversation was over.

"I take it we have an agreement?" Dara pressed.

"Fine...draw up your little plan. I will point out the flaws when you've finished."

It was the best she was going to get, so she stood up and moved back to the other side of the carriage. Pulling out her phone, she dialled Rafe, and quickly filled him in with the latest developments and their estimated time of arrival at Braşov.

Natalia's curiosity was piqued, and she tuned out the others, keeping her gaze on Agony. "Who is Kal?"

For a moment she thought he wouldn't answer her, but then he sat forward, leaning his arms on the table between them.

"There are 7 of us...those you call Vârcolac or hybrids. Lily and Kallum Romanov, Cassia and Dara Romanov, Liam Eriksson, Elina Alexander, and me... Agony."

His sudden chattiness was surprising however, she couldn't resist interjecting. "Don't you mean Kothari?"

He let out a long sigh, as if he regretted his decision to answer her, but then he continued. "Whatever...those are the 7 Vârcolac born of the recent matings between vampires and shifters. My mother Sarayne is Vârcolac, though her animal is a black panther. When she mated with my father, I took her animal, as the others have taken the wolf as their animal from their parents' matings. We are pack and Rafe is our Alpha, though this generation of Vârcolac are something more, we have our own internal hierarchy, though it isn't a true pack. Kal talks the most sense out of the Vârcolac so we tend to heed his words when he speaks."

It was the first real conversation between them, and Natalia was fascinated by what she was learning. "Why didn't Kal come to get you then, when you came to Europe? Wouldn't it have made more sense to send him rather than Dara? You argue with her all the time, and sometimes I doubt that you will listen to her even when she is talking sense."

"He stood no chance of tracking me. I hid my scent and masked all my pack bonds when I left. We Vârcolac can become invisible to most when we want to."

That didn't make sense because Dara had clearly found him. Her expression must have given something away because he sighed again and she could imagine his eyes rolling behind the dark shades with which he screened them.

"I let Dara find me."

Now that did sort of make sense, but not a lot. She was confused and couldn't understand the distinction between Kal and Dara. "Why?"

He could easily have ignored her question but after a long pause he chose to answer. "Kothari has always had a special bond with her. He needed that connection to remain sane, to keep him anchored, when our parents vanished. In addition, Dara is not as fragile as she may appear and is a formidable beta. Do not be fooled by my apparent lack of confidence in her abilities. I wouldn't even choose Kal over Dara to fight at my side because no one in our pack understands me quite as she does. It isn't always about who is the strongest, Natalia. Often, it is about who you trust the most to have your back."

Natalia was aware that Agony was being more open with her than he probably was with most people and she was afraid to say anything more in case she broke the fragile spell between them. However, she couldn't contain her curiosity. "Is Dara Kothari's mate?"

Agony rose up, his lips tightening in a straight line. "Stupid human," he muttered, striding down the train carriage to sit half way down as if he couldn't bear to be in the same area as her.

His abrupt departure was puzzling, and Natalia glanced at Dara in confusion. She knew the older woman had likely been listening to their conversation.

"Leave it," Dara said, a small sigh escaping her. "Kothari thought so for some time but realised recently that he was wrong. He's still touchy about it."

Natalia nodded, sitting back to think over everything she had learned. Kothari and Dara had a close bond but were not mates. For some reason she felt a sense of relief about that though she couldn't understand why. It wasn't as if she was interested in the hybrid. The mere thought of it was just ludicrous. He had been going to kill her mother for goodness sake. Okay her Ma had been in the process of going rogue and would have murdered innocent humans if she had been able to, but that was beside the point...wasn't it?

It didn't take away from the fact that Agony believed he was separate from Kothari, and was prone to turn into a homicidal maniac when pissed off. No woman in her right mind would be interested in a man like that, especially not a human girl like her who was nothing special. No, she was not interested in the infuriating male who was sulking a handful of seats away from her. The information she was getting from him was just helping her understand her current predicament and where her mother was now headed to Stateside to keep her safe until she could join her.

Natalia closed her eyes and let the gentle lull of the rocking train seep inside her soul. They had another hour before they reached their destination, and things turned hectic again. It was probably best if she tried to take a light nap until they got there and discovered whatever was waiting for them. Forcing Agony out of her mind, she drifted off, shutting out the feeling that concealed eyes were boring into the back of her head.

"They went this way."

Agony could scent his parents even though it was a while since they had passed through Braşov. The scent was very faint but it pointed in the general direction they had taken. He knew that once they passed into the mountains looming in the distance tracking them wouldn't be as easy as he hoped, but for now, he knew which direction they needed to go.

Turning to view the others it was all he could do not to let out a loud sigh. They were clumped together like a tourist party, their appearance, and numbers, unusual enough that human heads were turning in their direction. "Do we have to look so obvious?"

Louis nodded at the group of vampires he'd brought with them, and they immediately dropped behind the main group, blending in a little better with the people milling along the sidewalk.

"You go ahead. We'll follow close behind," Dante said, hooking Mila's arm through his and raising an eyebrow at Louis.

"Fine." The dark-haired coven leader nodded his agreement to remain with them, though it was clear that he wasn't that impressed with not being in the main group. He was used to being in charge so it was hardly surprising that taking a back seat didn't sit well with him.

"So which way do we go, Agony?" Now that they were on Romanian soil, Dara wanted to try to find Gard and Rayne as soon as possible. It was unsettling knowing they were so close to something dangerous which they knew nothing about.

"Can I ask a question before we do anything?" Natalia interrupted, her tone pensive. "If Rayne is Vârcolac, and was captured here, what's to say that the same thing isn't going to happen to us?"

As it was a valid question for a human to pose Agony wasn't too irritated by it. He looked down at the girl who he considered inferior as a species, but surprisingly insightful as a person. "Lack of surprise, Natalia. My parents are two of the most powerful people to walk this planet, but they were not anticipating encountering a being stronger than they were. We, on the other hand, now know that whoever is out there is not only intelligent and resourceful, but they have great power. We are anticipating a powerful attack, and therefore, we have a better chance of countering that attack."

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byJazCullen© 54 comments/ 12297 views/ 52 favorites

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