Lexa held her screaming baby boy in her arms as she ran with her husband. William carried Onvyr and Elora who were also sobbing. Their partners, all the animals in their world had gone mad and blood thirsty. All around them all they could hear was screams and the animals crying out. They were running from Toby, Lexa’s beloved lion. She couldn’t kill him and refused to let her husband even hurt him despite teh blood dripping off her from the deep claw marks in her back. Somthing had happened and she knew if they could find a safe spot to think they could fix this. They would get their animal partners back, they meant too much to them to kill them, even in self defense.
They had no idea where their wolves were at this point. Maybe they had realized somthing was wrong with them and ran away so they wouldn’t hurt them, maybe they were just off chasing someone else. In any case she hoped nobody would kill them before they found a way to fix this.
They stopped when they finally found a quiet, safe place and William sat the kids down to check on Lexa. “Your wounds haven’t closed, we need to find help.”
“I don’t understand, William, I can feel Toby, but there’s so much rage and confusion. Why? Why is this happening?”
“I don’t know baby, but I will fix this after you and the kids are safe.” William felt the wolf in him stirring, it told him something evil was happening. “Can you keep going?”
“Once I have you safe and healing, I’m going back to find Jarvis and his family.”
“Okay, hurry please, we need you with us William”
“I know, If I didn’t need to leave your side i wouldn’t but I know you can keep the babies safe and I wont waste a moment. I’ll be back to you guys as soon as I can with help.” He kissed Lexa then helped her up. They were soon running again so he could get his family somewhere he could leave them and not be completely terrified for their safety. He ran with them almost halfway to Juppars world so if it came down to it he could finish taking them all the way there if he needed to. He’d do it now but she couldn’t wait that long for her wound to be treated. She needed to rest, the kids needed to rest and he needed to find Jarvis.
William touched on the wolf part of him, opening his senses, letting his nails grow into sharp claws and canines into fangs. He stuck to the forest as he made his way back, letting the animal show him the best path. The scent of blood hit his nose as he stepped into town and he could see it streaking the sides of buildings and covering the ground. Human and animal bodies alike lay lifeless on the ground. It had been a bloodbath.
Jarvis’s house was close, but he went the back way to minimize risk. When he got there, he hopped the back fence and knocked on the back door. No one answered. He knocked again. “Jarvis, it’s William, if you’re there let me in.”
He heard his daughter Eloen and breathed a sigh of relief even as Eloens mother Clarice shushed her. Jarvis opened the door, pulling William in “where’s your family?” Jarvis asked, obvious terror washing over it as he assumed the worst. “They are fine, I’ve hidden them as best I can. Lexa is wounded but hopefully it’s healing well. Lets get your family to where they are”
“Clarice, grab Eloens things.” they all gathered the few minimum essentials for the two of them and their four year old then they all left. “what’re we going to do about our partners” Clarice asked, obviously fighting back tears. “we’ll come up with something once we’re all together” William answered, feeling a huge weight on him as he worried for his family. Lexa was a strong woman but all the animals were against them now, thirsty for their blood. Loseing her or even one of their three children would destroy him.
“Where’s Yowie?” William asked as he lead them.
“The basement. One minute he was sitting in my lap and the next he was tearing into me. I’m glad he’s a cat, I was able to scruff him and put him downstairs. I made sure he had food and water, so he should be fine.” Jarvis explained. “Maisy was outside, probably hunting mice, so I have no idea where she went.” He felt Clarice squeeze his hand. “I hope she’s okay. What about the wolves and Toby?”
“Toby attacked Lexa and the wolves ran off before they could succumb to whatever is happening. They could be anywhere, so keep your eyes and ears open. You know how wolves hunt and mine are far more organized than most.”
“What are we going to do?” Clarice asked.
“Once you and Eloen are safe with Lexa and the kids, Jarvis and I are going to see if we can find the cause of all this.”
“We can’t leave them alone in this world.” Jarvis said.
“Then I will take all of them to Juppar’s.”
William felt weak with relief when he saw Lexa and the children still okay. He guessed their two month old, Fidelis, had cried himself to sleep because he was out in Onvyr’s arms while Lexa had been laying down. She got up and hugged her husband “how’s your back baby”
“It’s better than it was”
“Jarvis and I want to get you guys to Juppars world where we wont have to worry sick over you while we figure this out. The kids have all been terrified out of their minds today. They need their mothers and Jarvis and I need our wives to be safe, far away from here. PLease just go and don’t fight with me about helping”
“No, I understand. Especially with Fidelis still nursing. I’ll stay with the kids.” They stayed long enough to let Clarice rest up a bit then they left their safe spot, running like mad for Juppars world. They passed through, glad to see Fidelis unaffected by the journey. They kept running but their urgency had come down considerably now that they weren’t afraid for their children.
The look on Juppar’s face when he opened his door was one of pure shock. He quickly ushered them in, calling for Oemach. “What happened?” He asked when he had them seated and Oemach was examining the wounds on Lexa’s back.
“Our animals just suddenly went mad and started attacking us.” William explained. Toby did that to her, the wolves disappeared which was a mercy.” Juppar and Oemach suddenly looked at each other. “What is it?” William asked.
“But it can’t be.” Juppar said.
“What can’t be?” William prompted.
“This is not the first time we have heard of such an occurrence. It’s a form of dark magic.”
“How do we stop it?”
“You find the caster and you kill them, it’s the only way. If you don’t then he or she will continue to use your animals as pawns and no amount of loyalty will keep them from ripping your throat out.”
“Ruuka wouldn’t, no matter what. She’s my wolf, no one else’s, she’ll listen if I find her.”
“William her loyalty was getting away from you. I’m sure even she knew she couldn’t fight it which is why she used what will she had to get far away before she could harm you and your family. Don’t go looking for her, don’t do that to her when she worked so hard not to have to hurt you. It was no doubt a great struggle of wills for her to leave like she did.” Williams hands were in fists no as he shook with anger at whomever had done this. He wanted to stay with his family but he had to get back in hopes of stopping this before somebody else killed their animal partners.
He wouldn’t be able to blame them. It would be self defense but if they could come out of this with all their animal partners intact he knew that’s what his family would want. He hugged each of his children, telling them how much he loved them then said goodbye to his wife Lexa “You take it easy baby” She could hear the emotion in his voice, how much it pained him to see her that way “you know I’ll be fine, especially here. Don’t worry about us. Keep your mind on what you have to do. Clarice and I will keep the kids safe and I’ll focus as much as I can on getting better”
“I’ll mind the baby for her William so she won’t even be doing that. Your kids are always such big helps with the baby too anyway” Even now Onvyr was holding his little brother. Juppar left with William and Jarvis to offer what aid he could with his lion Iliphar. Once they were back in Williams world Juppar said “Iliphar will help with Toby if we see him again.”
“he wont kill him will he? Can you control that? It would break Lexa’s heart almost as bad as loseing one of our children if anything happened to Toby. Even as he clawed her she screamed at me not to hurt him”
“We’ll only use it as a last resort.”
“Thank you, same with the wolves. Ruuka and I have been bonded since I can remember so if it comes to killing her, I’ll do it.”
“How are we going to find this dark wizard or mage or whatever he or she is?” Jarvis asked. “We had no warning, I don’t even remember anyone new coming into town.”
“Someone who can control all of those animals, would have no issue concealing their presence. Not even the animals would have picked up on them.” He patted Iliphar. “He will be able to track the magic once we catch the scent. It should be everywhere now.”
“why did you bring him. You aren’t afraid he’ll turn?” They trusted their friends judgement, especially since he obviously knew what they were dealing with but Jarvis had to ask. “Iliphar is an incredible beast. This dark magic won’t bother him in the slightest. Not much magic can get to my Iliphar” They just kept running until Juppar proclaimed triumphantly “He’s found it, I can tell by how determined he is”
“Thank the gods” William said with relief. They were that much closer to bringing order to their world. Back in Juppars world Oemach was still tending to Lexa while Clarice was cooking something for the children to eat. “Juppar knows what he’s doing” Oemach comforted “I keep reminding myself of that. Our world was so terrifying when we left it. I’ve never been so afraid or heartbroken”
“They’ll make everything right again. William and Jarvis seemed incredibly determined.”
“It’s that alpha mentality in William, he’s so stubborn and Jarvis is an artist, they’re all about determination.” She felt tears sting her eyes. “Our poor babies had to witness so much bloodshed.”
“It’s going to be alright. You can all stay here until your town is cleaned up that way they won’t have to see anymore. They can play with the Ocelli. I noticed that Hyphillion was tucked inside Elora’s dress pocket.”
“She was the only one that didn’t go nuts.”
“Probably because she isn’t from your world and her kind have a different sort of magic.”
“I’m glad, she loves Hyphillion so much” By the time Clarice was done cooking for the kids Oemach was done with Lexa’s wounds so Omech helped Clarice get all the children served and at the table. She took the baby from his siblings and brought him to the resting Lexa “are you still breast feeding?”
“Yeah, he probably should eat too. Hand him here” Oemach laid the little one with his mother and walked back out so Clarice would have help once more with the other kids. “Is momma okay?” Elora asked and Oemach answered “she’ll be just fine. She only needs some rest to be good as new”
“do you think I’m ever going to see Arashi again?” Onvyr asked, worried about his partner. “I wish I could promise that to you but if your dad can make that happen he will” Onvyr nodded sadly.
“Freeze.” William said as they made their way through the darkening woods.
“What is it?” Jarvis asked as he came to an immediate stop.
William cocked his head to the side, he breathed in. “Wolves, five total, they’re patrolling.”
“What should we do?” Juppar asked.
“Fall back and go around, keep our scent out of their noses.” He breathed in again. “Neither Ruuka nor Arashi are in the group.”
“They could be closer to the wizard. Powerful animals are incredibly valuable to a person like that. He or she could have made them into guard dogs if they were unable to get far enough away.”
William growled, the sound rumbling in his chest and up into his throat. Jarvis placed a hand on his shoulder. “Easy my friend, I know them being used as playthings is unacceptable, but we have to get out of here like you said before we attract the wolves.”
“You’re right, sorry.”
“It’s just the beast in you, I understand.”
They fell back and went around, letting William guide so they would be sure not to have to fight the wolves. They hurried on once there was no threat. They didn’t even stop again until Iliphar stopped and seemed to talk to Juppar “we’re very close. We need to go quietly now so hopefully we can surprise them” William and Jarvis nodded, following Juppar and Iliphar silently. When the man came into view without talking about it at all William and Jarvis went to attack him. Juppar and Illiphar joined in. They could tell by his reaction he had been too cocky to even consider that fact somebody might be able to get to him.
He ordered the animals with him to attack and William saw that Ruuka, Arashi, and Toby were in fact there. His wolf came straight for him and he met her, his hand going around her throat as he used his momentum to shove her back. He launched her through the air and she hit the ground and rolled. He took his attention off of her, focusing on the wizard. He ducked and dodged around animal after animal, only using his claws to wound. Toby and Arashi came for him next, Ruuka rejoining them. Iliphar slammed into Toby, rolling across the ground with him, roaring and biting. Ruuka and Arashi were suddenly trapped in a bubble and they slammed against it angrily, teeth bared as drool dripped from their mouths. William glanced back, seeing Jarvis covered in scratches and bites, but other animals were captured in the magical bubbles he used when he drew.
William now stared down the magician “what’re you when you’re not controlling our animals” he growled, attacking him head on now. William didn’t know if it was just his rage giving him more strength or if this mage simply wasn’t used to not having things to hide behind but the three of them managed to overtake him and both men allowed William the killing blow. It seemed nearly instant that the animals started to calm “let her go, let them all go, please” Jarvis released them and the wolves ran to William, nuzzling him. William cried and hugged Toby aswell when he came to him.
When William could collect himself they began walking back to town. They needed to rally everyone and start cleaning up their world from the disaster that mage caused. They left the man laying there dead, he didn’t deserve a burial and William was too disgusted to touch him another second. They’d let him rot there or let something eat him. They honestly didn’t much care.
Jarvis retrieved Yowie and was greeted by Maisy when he came out of the house. Thankfully their home hadn’t suffered much and he had never been more glad to have a cat rather than something big. Yowie rubbed against him apologetically and he sat the cat on his shoulder then scratched his chin before lifting Maisy. “You should go back to Juppar’s and let everyone know we’re okay.” William told him.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, they need to know.”
“Should I take Toby and Arashi with me?”
“Please and thank you for keeping them safe, I would have hated to kill them.”
“I didn’t want to see them dead either. They are a part of the family”Jarvis went back to Juppars world, elated and emotional when he got to witness not only Lexa’s and Onvyr’s reunion with their partners but also his wife’s with her cat. “where’s my dad?” Elora asked and Jarvis assured her he was fine and was just getting moving with bringing order back to their world. Clarice went back with Jarvis to help and once Lexa was better Oemach offered to keep the kids while she also went to help. It was a long process but over the months they completed all the burials and cleaned and repaired their world.
Lexa and William were happy to get the kids home and for a short time he was waking up at every little noise, ready to protect his family. Even Ruuka, Arashi, Toby, and Hyphillion were on edge, never wandering far from their partners. If anything, the incident had made their bonds stronger. William went back to helping rehabilitate animals, even taking Onvyr with him to show him how to use energy to connect with not only Arashi, but also those creatures society had deemed too dangerous. Lexa worked with Toby, hoping that if something bad ever happened again, she would be able to call the cat back. Jarvis and Clarice visited as often as possible, Jarvis even getting some new painting ideas watching everyone work with their animals.
After they had the kids settled in one night, William lifted Lexa and took her to their room to cuddle with her, his nose pressing into her air as his arms locked around her. “I love you so much, Lexa.”
“I love you too.” She snuggled closer, her nose rubbing against his chest. “You alright?”
“Even though some time has passed, I still find myself needing to be a little selfish and overprotective. It’s hard holding back.”
She smiled, kissing his chest. “You’re so sweet. So, how is Onvyr liking the shelter?”
“The animals respond to him, especially the wolves. It’s amazing to watch.”
“Just like you.”
He pulled back, looking into her eyes as he caressed her cheek. “Have I thanked you for giving me such a wonderful life?”
“Just in case, I’ll thank you again.” He kissed her then crushed her to him again. “Thank you, Lexa. Just the thought of losing you or the children or our partners scares me. I love you and I won’t let anyone or anything ever hurt you or our family again.”
“I love you too, my crazy wolf man and I’ll always be here by your side.” They fell asleep wrapped in each others arms, William more relaxed now and Lexa just enjoying her husband’s warmth and protection. They knew that if another storm came, they could count on each other as well as their companions and friends to see them through it.