Chapter 84: Follow Them
“Maybe we can speed between goal posts?” I point out, meaning from perch to perch where the crows
are, we could hyper speed then wait on them to move, and go again. Which is exactly what we do the
second we see them land further on and move to go. Racing to the next set of trees in the blink of an
eye and the birds move again, in a game of follow me.
“I hope to god this is not some crazy idea and we’re not just following some random flock of ravens
who are just trying to get away. I mean we’re kinda just assuming.” Meadow quips in and I giggle out of
pure nervousness and frustration and also doubt. Maybe she’s right and were insanely following birds
that have nothing to do with this. We just assumed, given Sierra’s text and then their freakish behavior
that we should, and who knows, maybe their curiosity has them come to us, but mistrust pushes them
to move further away when we get too close.
We hyper speed to the next set of trees that are further into overgrown landscape, light failing us, as
they land on and do this four more times, covering a fair bit of distance in the shortest time. They
maybe can’t speed like we can, but by air they can cover further ground than a normal human can
walk, in a third of the time. So were making progress and we seem to be heading into denser wood and
more of a forestry sort of weird space that’s neither green and luscious or sandy and rocky, but
somewhere in between. It’s like a drying up, almost dead wood but dense enough to seem like it’s not.
Eerie, something haunting about it as shadow’s lengthen across the ground and noises of night
creatures start to come out subtly around us. We move fast, ignore the building anxiety that soon it will
be pitch black and hope we are heading somewhere less rural, that maybe there’s a house at the end
of this trail.
“This place is weird” I point out when we stop again and wait for the birds to move, kicking away dead
tumbleweed that’s grazing my ankle and taking note of the terrain that’s way too abundant in plants for
the desert like soil beneath us. It’s almost mystical in itself that something seeming so dry and arid can
have so much vegetation.
“I get creepy vibes too.” Carmen admits in a low voice, seemingly aware that we’re not alone out here
in the wilderness as multiple eyes start to shine from distant brush. Large and small animals taking
note of our alien presence and peeking because they can obviously tell we’re not just wandering
human. Animals tend to avoid the scent of wolves at a very large distance in this outer world.
We move again as soon as the birds settle once more, this stop and start game that’s becoming tiring
the farther we plod on. We have come off the path a few trees back and now seem to be wading
through wasteland of some sort with no sign of houses, manmade light, or roads in the front where
we’re heading. Just dead trees blocking our view and lots of rocks for as far as the eye can see.
“I’ve got no signal on the cell either.” Carmen sighs, aggravated, and hands Meadow back her cell she
had brought from the truck. “So, we can’t even check with Sierra if we’re heading the right way.” She
adds with a furrowed brow and a stern expression making my last traces of hope fizzle out, like being
drained of the last ounces of energy.
“God dammit” Meadows chirps in and slides it into her pocket after checking for herself. Muttering
under her breath about cursed witches and damned nightfall, which only serves to make my hackles
rise and my skin goosebump all over as the sun edge further down towards the horizon and the air
turns cooler for lack of it.
I look up at the sky at the last dregs of fading light and back at the birds and really start to wonder at
the likelihood of vampires being out here in this nothing space by chance if darkness comes fully before
we get anywhere. It’s looking likely and even though we have nocturnal vision, I would rather have
found a safe haven before they can come lurking out from their holes and crevices to walk the world. I
know with my gifts it’s harder for vampires to really take us down and I know Meadow can hold her
own, possibly Carmen too, although I haven’t witnessed it yet, I would rather not have to fight and
battle for survival if we don’t have to.
Three more tree stops, and we can’t see the truck behind us anymore at all as its so far away and
obscured by the trees and rocks we have passed. This seems to be taking us much further than any
location Sierra sent and I’m starting to wonder if this is even right. My gut telling me that we shouldn’t
be so trusting, and maybe we shouldn’t keep trying to push forward without an end in sight.
“We should turn back. I don’t like this, and I don’t see an end to where we’re going.” It’s Meadow,
verbalizing my exact thoughts, sounding pensive, looking overly alert, and I guess she too is feeling it.
Picking up on the empty air, the cold aura of this place, and the suspicion of foreign eyes watching us
from all angles. It’s hard to defend when out in the open like this and we have no tactical advantage,
especially with only three of us. I turn to her with a stiff expression, my stomach sinking at the thought
of coming this far only to now give in. I know it’s what I wanted, what my instincts are screaming at me,
but my heart is telling me it’s not the right thing to do. I want Colton home, sooner, not later, and waiting
another night seems like an endless eternity. I open my mouth to try and talk this out and am rendered
mute as a stranger’s husky brogue echoes around us clearly.
“Well, that would be a shame, seeing as you only just got here.” A female voice startles us from
somewhere to the left, sounding almost smug, definitely confident, and so clear and loud it rings
through as if spoken right at our ears. We can’t see anyone at all, and we all turn instinctually, claws
ripping out and teeth baring as we crowd together back-to-back to make one fierce bubble of wolf
aggression. Leaning down, poised and ready to turn as eyes glow with intention and every red alert
signal explodes inside my body.
“Who are you? Who said that?” I call out harshly, my voice laced with a growl as my heart hammers
through my chest like a ward rum and a rustle of some nearby bushes alerts us to a dark figure slowly
walking into the clearing. We three seem to shift into an almost crawl pose, so ready to fight and take
down our intruder, hackles rising, blood pumping and unified in both awareness, alert aggression, and
yet heavy wariness.
She steps into view, although shrouded in shadow but I can still make out that she’s wearing a long
black cloak, hood up which is oversized and seems to frame her head in a sinister way. Her entire face
and body is concealed in both fabric and shadow and she stops just within vision to look at us from her
bold position, no hint of fear at all. The largest of the ravens flies over and lands on her outstretched
hand which appears when it gets close, showing a smooth almost youthful skin as it appears from
under dark cloth and a slender wrist adorned with bangles and vintage jewelry. In the darkness her skin
is so pale it almost glows like a beacon and we gawp at her in both apprehension and surprise. I figure
we all had ideas on what a three-thousand-year-old witch would look like and so far this isn’t it.
“Why, aren’t the lass you’ve been looking for? So why are you planning on toddling away?” her accent
is thick, sing songy, and foreign. I guess Scottish, if that’s where Sierra said she was from. It sounds a
little rustic, yet warm and she has a pleasing voice to listen to that pulls you in and intrigues. No hint of
any kind of American twang at all and yet she peaks clearly in an almost teasing and clear way.
“Are you Leyanne Cruden?” Meadow queries, even though we both know this can’t be anyone else.
Lurking out here with these birds, wearing a stereotypical witch’s cloak and showing face as the moon
hits its highest point. She’s definitely spooky and my nerves twang so tight I reckon it won’t take much
to snap them fully.
“Depends who’s asking? Depends on what they want?” she laughs, a low almost husky and seductive
sound, like rolling waves, that echoes around us eerily and the hint of bold confidence and lack of fear
completely unnerves me. She doesn’t seem to care that three highly aggressive wolves are homed in
defense and she is the target.
“I’m Alora Santo, Sierra Santo sent us to find you because we need your help.” I relax my stance and
turn my claws and teeth away, nudging Meadow and Carmen to do the same in a show that we’re not
here to harm her. Only Carmen obeys with a sigh and straightens up beside me, while Meds stays in
protector mode, sticking to me like glue. I can feel the vibrations from her as she growls under her
breath and refuses to relent.
“I know…… there’s not much that goes on around here that I don’t know about. My birds have very
good ears. So, welcome, Miss Alora Santo.” She smiles, showing whitest teeth in the hints of her pale
face, just barely visible from the shade of her hood and yet it still makes my unsure of her. Every cell in
my body is in alert still, stiff and bristled all over because something in me doesn’t want to trust this
I squint at the crows and recall her words, casting a glance at Meadow, not entirely sure what she
means about birds and ears and certain we never once mentioned her around these damned birds. I
think she’s maybe a little bit insane, or else she’s making she knows more than she does.
“So, if you know why we’re here, then I guess we shouldn’t beat around the bush and ask if you will
help.” It feels kind of rude to just invade her territory and blurt it out, but it’s put me completely off kilter
having her seem to know who we are and so smug about it. She’s not exactly welcoming and so far,
she seems to like indirect answers and word play. It doesn’t really signal a friendly soul.
“It’s getting late.” She points out, ignoring my question completely, in fact acting like I haven’t spoken,
and instead looks to the sky with a sigh. I still can’t make out anything about her features other than
she seems to have a youthfulness to her. It’s hard to put a finger on it, more than seeing her hand, but I
get the vibes she is not that much older than Sierra physically. Mid-thirties at most. I’ve heard all about
witches using anti-aging seduction, masking appearances to lure, and means to pull in innocents to
trust them…or was that sirens? I forget. The books down under the house have so many supernatural
species and I don’t recall which sometimes, or what ones we should never be drawn in by. Either way,
her presence is giving me the heeby jeebies.
“Not to be rude but, we are aware, and we don’t like being out after dark, so if you could, you know, get
to the point. You know who we are, what we want and hence…. we really need an answer.” Carmen
comes right out with it in that haughty bitchy tone of hers, no warmth, only dry boredom and superiority,
and for once it doesn’t annoy me. I mean its rude as hell, and I admire her total lack of fear around this
witch, but she does have a point. I don’t want to be standing out here like this for the rest of the night.
This witch has no concept of how dangerous it could be for us, or the fact, we do still need sleep and
food before dawn.
“The jilted lover…. So full of anger and attitude. It’s like you’re a very full sponge, who has sooked up
all the toxins in the world. A little squeeze and it all comes squirting out in the most unattractive way.”
She chuckles, that same girly, yet not young, sound that washes over us and the crow seems to cackle
in response along with her. An evil vibrating noise that grates on my nerves. I swear it laughs at us. It’s
that same little window tapping asshole from earlier and I mentally add her devious mini sidekick to my
kill list should this turn bloody.
Carmen on the other hand falls silent and glares at her with a great level of mistrust, eyes gleaming
orange in the dark, full on hostility leaching out from every pore, given she does seem to know a hell of
a lot. I’m certain we never said anything of the sort near her birds at all about carmen being Colton’s ex
or my being the reason he left her.
“How do you know so much about us, and don’t say your birds hears us. Because that’s bullshit as we
haven’t said a thing about her love life since we got here!” Meadow is the one with the hostile tone now,
biting in, full on mama bear mode initiated as she steps in front of me and seems to grow taller. I can
feel her unease and suspicion all around me, tainting the air and feeding my worry. She doesn’t like this
witch and she certainly doesn’t think we’re safe with her.
“Did I say it was these specific birds? You’ve come far my wee pets; you look like you need somewhere
to sit and maybe a hot drink to calm that unwise rise of attitude. Know who you’re talking to and learn
when to be silent!” The tone loses that almost friendly air and that superior edge and biting tone change
the atmosphere completely. It’s an icy statement that makes Carmen sound like an amateur in terms of
scolding and there’s a hint of power and superiority that can only come from someone knowing their
skillset trumps yours. She slides back her hood as she steps fully out from her space, releasing her
raven to fly back to his perch, the rising moon glowing somehow brighter at her command and we’re
faced with a woman who looks no older than her late twenties at most.
She’s pretty in a wholesome sort of a way visually, yet shrouded in maturity, underlying darkness, and
wisdom, that gives her an older presence. Not outstanding, unearthly, stunning beauty, but she has
definite attractiveness and a natural unmade up face with zero lines or wrinkles. She’s seductive, yet
somehow looks pure, untainted by the world and has a fire in her eyes that suggests she’s a warrior at
heart. She has a likeability, a sense of calm and control that makes you feel like you need this woman
to tell you what to do next. A born queen, under her dark robes and almost Celtic style, flowing layers
of longs skirts, boho attire, which has a mix of era’s in one outfit. She looks exactly how I thought a
witch should look, if she was eternally young and beautiful.
Not bad at all for a three-thousand-year-old who has probably seen and interacted in more wars than
we can imagine. It’s not her looks that pull you completely in though, it’s her aura. There’s an
atmosphere around her, of great power, crackling energy, pure clear oxygen fizzing up the tempo, and
the steady unruffled gaze as she locks eyes on me completely throw me off. Dark, almond shaped
almost catlike eyes that have a hint of exotic beauty about them. Deep and endless and way darker
than Colton’s brown eyes. She’s terrifying. Like the kind of woman who would kiss you on the lips
before driving a steak right through your heart and smiling sweetly as she did so. She’s utterly
“Look, we’re sorry. It’s been a long journey and a lot of stress. We don’t mean to be rude; we just
weren’t sure if we could trust you. Or if you are her…Leyanne Cruden! You still haven’t confirmed!” I try
for the smoothing over and calming things approach, my mediation skills as Luna, but she throws her
head back and laughs heartily. Like she just heard the funniest joke of the year and isn’t shy about
expressing her amusement.
“You come looking for me and yet I’m the one that’s not to be trusted, oh pet…. You really are a bit
backwards. Who else would I be?” It’s a chuckle, as she regains composure, wipes a tear form the
corner of her eye and shakes her robes around her to rearrange them back to neatness. I’m starting to
think this one is a bit insane.
“Truth be told, you can’t trust me… you can’t really trust anyone. Everyone has a line that they’ll cross
for the right persuasions, even my kind. No one is every truly trustworthy, even your sisters here.” She
smirks, rolling her r’s in her sing song accent, hearty scots, and walks a step forward to close the gap
between us and it takes all my will power not to step away. She’s suffocating with just a foot forward,
that energy eating me alive and I realize it’s my ability to feel others that’s causing it. I can sense, taste,
feel, her brimming power and incomparable amounts of magic within her possession. Like she carries a
constant death fence of electricity around her at all times. It makes Sierra seem human in comparison.
I want to venomously defend my Meadow and maybe even Carmen too, but sense tells me to be quiet
and ignore her insults concerning my being able to trust my pack sisters. This witch seems to like word
play, and maybe mind games, and I definitely do not trust her. I have never met anyone like her before.
“I would die for her. So you can eat that and choke on it, Chica.” Meadow loses her cool, spitting
venom, obviously offended enough to not stay quiet as her pride is bruised and I grasp her hand to
quiet her, and groan at her words. Flinching inwardly that this witch just told us to heed her and here
Meds is, poking the bear.
“Want to prove it? I mean, I’m willing, and we do have a nice quiet night for it.” Leyanne chuckles again,
that hearty, brash, mocking laugh, throwing back her cloak over her shoulders to reveal a sculpted
upper bodice of her dress, sort of romantic and flouncy around the neckline, with jewelry that give her a
completely earth momma vibe that’s not entirely weird. I kind of dig it but it’s definitely something that
would stand out in the human world, unless sit was some sort of cottage gore convention. Even without
the huge black cloak with an extra pointed long tail on her hood. The girl likes to look the part of what
she is, I guess.
“Are we wasting our time? Should we just leave?” I blurt out in frustration at how this is going and step
in front of Meadow again, reinforcing my position as leader, hoping to god we can just turn and go and
find another way if this isn’t it. My mate is back there, he needs me to figure this out, and I don’t want to
waste hours of my life on someone pointless who just wants to spur my girls into fighting.
“So quick to give in, wee one. Not much Luna quality in that. Do I scare you? Are you intimidated?” She
whispers it in a mock tone, smug and winking as a smile haunts her full lips. No sense of her being
rattled by us at all and I wonder just how powerful she is to stand up to three glaring femmes and not
give an actual crap about consequences. She turns her back on us, throwing us a gleeful look over her
shoulder and gestures with a tilt of her head. “Follow me, if you’re brave enough, and I guess you’ll see
if I was worth the journey. Don’t dawdle…. it’s dark, you know?” She sniggers with her last sarcastic
words, and seems to sway off with a steady walk, looking like she owns this land and is walking a red
carpet, rather than a dirty sandy scrub with nothing around.
She doesn’t wait on any kind of response at all, so sure of herself and our need of her, and walks off
into the darkening wood to seemingly disappear. We hesitate, all three standing firm and throwing
glances to one another, expressions ashen, faces pale, before Meadow shoves me forward to follow.