“It’s damn Captain Hog all over again!” Alexis was upset. Normally, she never swore.
“Worse, I would guess,” Mingus said. “You were relatively safe with Hog. No telling what they will do to Boston.”
“Can you get a geo-position?” Captain Decker asked.
“No, sir.” Lieutenant Harper answered. “No satellites.”
“I will find her,” Roland insisted. Captain Decker was already checking his weapons
Raini came back from wherever she had run decked out in bow and arrows, spear and a long copper knife. She was dressed in leather reminiscent of the leather Saphira wore. The man beside her talked quietly.
“I am ready,” She said when she arrived. “This is my husband, Koren. He will take you to the plateau to find Faya.”
“I am going to find Boston,” Roland said, and Raini smiled at him
“I am sure you will, young elf.”
“I’m coming,” Captain Decker and Lockhart spoke together.
“No,” Raini turned to them with a firm word. “You would never keep up. You are both fine men, I am sure, and Captain, I know you are a true warrior, but we will be moving faster than an ordinary human can follow. We must if we expect to catch them before the worst happens.”
“Gentlemen, and ladies,” Koren got their attention, but only for a second. There was a wind and Raini and Roland we gone.
Boston stopped screaming some time ago. As soon as they were far enough away from the village, Bruten beat her so badly she became dizzy and imagined she had a concussion. Her hands were tied behind her back and she was made to walk. She tried to go limp and refused to go forward, but they just dragged her over rocks and through the bushes. It was less painful to keep stumbling forward.
Thag kept a hand on her rope. He kept his other hands on her person and touched her everywhere. He seemed to have a particular fondness for her left breast. She kicked him, but he just laughed. Her only respite came when Grogor complained.
“Thag,” Bruten spoke but did not slacken the pace. “Wait until we are far enough away. You will get your turn.”
“Father,” Grogor also spoke. “I want to go first. Can I have the first turn?”
“We’ll see,” Bruten said. Thag said nothing. He just kept fondling her.
Koren explained. “The highland belongs to the Were people. The rule is no weapons. You must keep yours put away. Whatever happens, do not kill any of the animals. The Were people are the men, women and animals. Some of the animals may be children.”
The others did not exactly understand, so Lincoln spoke up. “I read about the Were in the database. They are not exactly human – not from this earth, though no one knows where they originated. They are shape shifters, able to take on not just the form, but the characteristics of the animals. If you see a deer or bear or hawk, there is no way of knowing if it is a natural animal or a Were person in that form.”
“Yes,” Koren said. “And when the moon is full like it is, they run with the wolves. It is the strongest of all the animal forms they take and the most possessive of their minds. They become wolves which is why it is generally the worst possible time to go up to the highland.”
“The database suggests they may have had some dog-like form on their native world,” Lincoln added.
Koren shrugged. “The main thing,” he said. “Is to keep your weapons put away and no matter what happens, do not injure any of the animals we may meet. If you do, they will kill us all.”
With that word, they came to an upper meadow and walked silently in the night under the light of the moon, their ears open for any sound. Lockhart and Mingus followed Koren. Lincoln and Alexis took the middle. Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper brought up the rear as they had at first back in the days of the twins, Pan and Iris, but this time they kept their rifles safely shouldered.
They entered a forest on the other side of the meadow and Lockhart had a question.
“How far is it to the home of the Were?”
“Half the night,” Koren answered. “But don’t worry. The wolves will find us long before then.”
Roland and Raini stopped to check the prints in the soil. Roland sniffed the air. Raini glowed a little and let all of her senses range beyond human range.
“They have been here,” Raini said.
Roland merely nodded. He was certain as well, but presently he was looking around his feet. He saw a light for a brief moment. It was not a fairy light. It might have been a glow bug of some kind, but he was sure there was something.
“What?” Raini wondered.
Roland shifted his foot and shifted a leaf with it. He picked it up. It was Boston’s wrist communicator left open and glowing in the night. He examined the wrist strap and Raini made the pronouncement.
“Torn from her wrist. No doubt painfully.”
Again, Roland merely nodded as he lifted his head. There was something else nearby.
“Up!” Roland shouted and he scrambled up the nearest tree as only an elf can. The wolf growled and leapt but it was too slow. Raini also went up, but it was straight up into the air, about six or seven feet where she hovered and the glow around her increased. Her eyes lit up and a light came from them that was hot as fire. The wolf’s back was singed and it leapt back into the forest and ran, like it knew when it was overmatched.
“Faya is much better at that than I am,” Raini said as she floated back to the earth and Roland climbed down.
“I thought you did that very well, m’Lady.” Roland understood that Raini was not a goddess, but she was a half-goddess to be sure and worthy of all respect.
“But what was that?”
“A werewolf.. The future kind. A poor diseased human driven mad by the transformation its body is not designed to make. It has been following us through several time zones.”
Raini nodded this time. “So now we have to find your friend to protect her from more than just three dead men.”
The leaves stirred as the two figures ran so fast they appeared to vanish.