MoboReader> Horror > Bound

   Chapter 22 No.22

Bound By Julie Embleton Characters: 21136

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:02

Two days after Nyah had gone Dean finally stopped sending out patrols along both directions of the riverbank. He knew searching for her so close to their territory was pointless, yet finding his mate was as basic a need as breathing. He had scoured the train tracks - over one hundred and fifty miles in each direction, hoping with every mile he raced over he would find something – anything – just the tiniest thing that would give him a clue as to which direction she had gone in. But he had found nothing. Likewise when he had extended his search to the neighbouring belt of towns that lay further along the tracks; if he had thought that catching her feeble scent in vast expanses of grassy fields was hard, a three day hunt for it amongst thousands of equally feeble-scented humans was impossible. He would never give up however. If it took until his dying day he would keep on searching.

Swinging his jeep onto the dusty road leading to Carter Plains, Dean glanced down at the map spread out on the passenger seat beside him. Five towns had been circled in red pen and first thing tomorrow morning he was going to be back on the road and heading for them. Nick and Kyle were capable of managing the pack in his absence, so a quick overnight stop to check in and swap clothes out of his bag was all he needed.

Once he reached the outskirts of his territory he mind-linked with Nick, telling him to meet him at the pack house. Nick could catch him up on what had been happening while he ate, then he wanted to shower, re-pack and try to get a few hours' sleep. He hadn't had a decent night since Nyah had gone; his dreams full of violence and anxiety, the fear of Northfell finding her before him playing havoc with his mind.

Nick appeared just as he parked outside the pack house. Grabbing his bag and map he opened the driver's door and climbed out, Nick not needing to ask how the search had gone.

"Alpha Nickleson reported two rogues skirting the edges of his territory this morning, " Nick told him as they walked towards the house. "One was a female, he said."

Dean shook his head. "Whatever mistakes Nyah made when she stumbled onto my territory won't be made again. She's too smart for that. She's going to stay smack bang in the heart of human territory where she knows I won't be able to trace her."

Nick agreed with a sigh as Dean unlocked his front door. Stale air hung in the hallway as they stepped inside. "House has only been empty for three days, " Dean grunted, sniffing against the unfamiliar scent of his vacant home.

"Yeah." Nick wrinkled his nose in agreement. "Weird isn't it? I'll open some windows, " he sniffed, heading for the kitchen as Dean dropped his bag at the foot of the stairs.

"How's Aaron doing?" Dean called out as he shrugged off his jacket. "Any sign of his first phase yet?" Nick didn't reply. "Nick, " he repeated, draping the jacket over the banister. "How's Aaron?"

Stepping into the kitchen Dean saw what had Nick so silent. A stranger was standing against the far wall of the kitchen, his hands casually resting inside the pockets of his crumpled coat, his face calm as his stare slid from Nick to Dean. "What the. . ." Dean began. "How the hell did you get in here?"

"My name is Cassius Ochre, " the man replied in a gravelly voice.

"I don't give a shit who you are – what the hell are you doing -."

"Dean, " Nick interrupted sharply. "It's Cassius Ochre – Northfell's shaman."

"You son of a bitch." Finally, someone responsible for Nyah's situation was within reach, and Dean didn't pause for thought as he moved to launch himself across the room. Before he had covered two paces however, he found himself being flung backwards. With a heavy thud he landed hard against the fridge, the back of his head cracking against the door. "Son of a bitch!" he yelled again, staggering to his feet.

Nick had assumed an attacking posture, but seeing the effortless response of the shaman he faltered and stayed put, reaching out to grab at Dean's arm to suggest he do the same.

"I mean neither of you any harm, " Cassius announced softly, sliding his hand back into his pocket. "And we have very little time, so please, let's not waste it with pointless aggression."

"What do you want?" Dean snarled, "and where's Northfell? Is he here, too? 'Cos if he is -."

"Simon Northfell is not here, " Cassius replied. "Not yet, anyway."

"So what are you doing here then?" Nick demanded.

"I need to see Nyah, " Cassius said. "Where is -."

"Screw you, " Dean spat. "Get the hell out of my house."

Understanding that Dean was not prepared to listen, Cassius turned his attention to Nick. "Where is Nyah?"

"Not anywhere you're going to touch her, " he said.

Cassius sighed and murmured a low comment about over-protective Lycans. "Mr Carson, " he said patiently, moving towards the table in the centre of the kitchen. "I want to help, Nyah. I want to undo some of the damage I have caused before it's too late. Please allow me; it would be better for all concerned if you do."

"How did you get into my house?" Dean yelled, ignoring his statement.

"The same way Simon Northfell will get in, " Cassius snapped, growing impatient at being disregarded. "I walked right through the heart of your territory, Mr Carson, past your patrols, your women and children – and not one member of your pack knew I was there. When Simon Northfell comes here for Nyah it will be the exact same, except he will not leave them unharmed as I did. If you want to avoid that situation, I would advise you rein in your anger and share a civil conversation with me."

Dean pressed his lips into a tight line.

"Thank-you, " Cassius replied. "Now where is Nyah?"

"She's gone, " Dean answered. "And don't waste your foul breath asking me where, because thanks to your handiwork, I've no way of tracking her."

Cassius gave a grunt of agitation. "I waited too long, " he chastised himself.

"Too long for what?" Dean grunted.

"To come here, " he replied. "I located her on Monday night, but I didn't want to raise suspicion by leaving so abruptly."

"Raise suspicion with Northfell?"

"Yes, Simon Northfell." Cassius leaned against the back of one of the dining chairs and looked down, his expression sliding into a dark frown.

"He doesn't know you're here, " Nick guessed.

Cassius shook his head. "Let's hope not."

Watching Cassius stare despondently at the floor, Dean stepped closer to the table. "I take it this means you're not on Northfell's team anymore."

Cassius gave a short, wry laugh. "Anymore?" he said looking up. "I was never on his team."

"So what you did to Nyah was of your own free will?"

"No, absolutely not, " Cassius answered, disgust twisting his mouth. "I knew Nyah as a child; harming her was the singular most appalling act I have ever committed."

"So why did you do it?"

Cassius glared across the table at him. "I had no choice. I didn't want any dealings with that vile man, but he refused to take no for an answer."

"Really, " Dean snorted, his eyes flicking sceptically over Cassius. "Explain how a man with your abilities was unable to say no."

"Northfell has my daughter, " Cassius answered. "So saying no a second time wasn't an option."

Dean took a step back, his anger waning as he grasped the predicament of Cassius's situation. "I'm sorry, " he said. "I shouldn't have judged you."

"I deserve to be judged, " Cassius replied honestly, "and I will be for what I have done. My kind follow a strict creed of do no harm and I blatantly ignored it."

"Not by choice, " Nick reminded him grudgingly.

Cassius shrugged as if to say it didn't matter. "I could have handled it differently. I tried to protect her, but I failed. Her father would never forgive me if he were still alive."

"How did you know Harper Morgan?" Dean wondered.

"He came to me many years ago when his wife Lori was dying, " Cassius explained. "She had been bitten by a vampire during a battle over territory, but by the time he had found me the venom had taken her past the point where I could have helped. I did what I could for her last days. Nyah was just a young child at the time and Lori fought so hard to stay alive, but. . ." Cassius trailed off with a rumbling sigh that rolled into a wet cough. Fumbling in his pocket for a tissue he held it to his mouth until the racking had subsided. "Harper kept our friendship as a secret, " he continued hoarsely, "he didn't want word of our alliance being broadcast, but Northfell found out somehow and obviously filed it away for future reference."

"Because he's a self-serving bastard, " Nick said.

Cassius agreed with a lift of his eyebrows as he returned to leaning on the back of the chair.

Dean began to pace a steady tread on the kitchen floor. Cassius' connection with Harper was an interesting sidebar, but he didn't care to hear about past events. He was stuck in the now. "There must be something you can do to help Nyah, " he said. "Surely you have some way of helping her."

"If she had been here, yes, I could have helped."

"What were you going to do?"

"Restore her wolf, " Cassius answered. "It might have given her a chance against Northfell."

"And you can't do that without her present?"

"Not now, " he said, gesturing towards a satchel propped against the wall in the corner of the room. "If I release her wolf's corpus essence without her being physically present to absorb it, the essence will simply drift unanchored."

"Her corpus what?" Dean replied, his stare drawn to the bulging satchel. Something of Nyah's was in there?

"Her corpus essence, " Cassius repeated. "With her distance and condition the reconnection will never happen. I'm sorry - I really am."

"So let me find her, " Dean said. "Once I bring her back home you'll be -."

"You don't understand, " Cassius cut him off gently. "Unless you can find her before tomorrow night, Northfell will be restoring her wolf."

"Northfell? Wait - what?"

Cassius nodded once, his eyes desperate with pity. "Northfell has the power to do what I can't. He plans to restore her wolf tomorrow and find her himself. Once he takes her back, he'll. . ."

"No, " Dean said slowly. "No way. That's not going to happen. That is not going to happen!"

Cassius drew in a breath and on its release, broke away from Dean's horrified stare to turn towards the satchel. "I can't risk delaying any further, " he said quietly. "I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do now. I have to

leave." Picking up the bag he hooked the strap over his shoulder. "I never wanted -."

"No." Dean rounded the table to stand before Cassius. "You're not leaving. You're staying to fix this. You're the only person who can help Nyah."

"You don't understand, " Cassius tried again. "I really must leave."

"No, you don't understand, " Dean corrected him. "The only way you'll be leaving here is over my dead body."

Nick came to Dean's side, agreeing with a threatening growl.

"Mr Carson, " Cassius warned.

"No, " Dean snapped in reply. "You owe this to Nyah and her father – stay and fix this."

Cassius held up his hands in refusal, but before he could fully draw breath to protest again, Nick jabbed a finger at his chest. "Why can't you find out where she is now – like you did before?" he demanded. "If you did one of your spells to find her here, why can't you do it again?"

"She's fading too fast, " Cassius explained. "It took everything I had to locate her on Monday. It would be impossible now."

"Fading?" Nick repeated.

"Yes." Cassius paused to turn his pitied look back onto Dean. "How bad was it before she left?"

"How bad was what?"

Cassius regarded Dean warily as he stared up at him from under his lined brow. "Being without her wolf is killing her, " he explained in a tone of didn't you know? "The spell I cast was meant to be lifted within a week – it's been nearly a month now. If Nyah is still alive it won't be for much longer."

Dean sucked in a tight breath and wheeled around, his hands fisting tightly into his hair as he struggled to control his panic.

"Okay, " Nick cut in, forced calm in his tone. "So do something to fix that. Do your voodoo and get her strong again."

"It doesn't work that way, " Cassius answered as Dean kept his back turned to them, his eyes mashed shut, his hands trembling as he continued to keep a rigid grip on his fistfuls of hair. "And I'm a shaman, not a worker of voodoo."

"Well what way does it work?" Nick demanded louder. "You don't just turn up here to say sorry and then refuse to do anything about it! You said you wanted to make amends, so bloody well make them!"

Cassius remained silent.

"Come on!" Nick yelled. "Do something! Follow your creed - find a way to help her!"

"What can I do?" Cassius yelled back. "What can I do that won't risk my daughter's life? You think I wanted to do this to Nyah? Do you think this is how I wanted to honour my friendship with Harper Morgan?"

"Nyah is dying!" Dean roared, spinning back around. "And you're the only person who can help her. Do something, find her – now!"

"I can't, " Cassius ground out. "Northfell is using demon blood. I don't have anything as powerful as that!"

"Demon blood?" Nick choked. "What the - ?"

"He has her blood too, " Cassius continued. "Maybe if I'd been able to get some of it from him I might have -."

"Northfell has Nyah's blood?" Dean said. "Why in the hell?" he paled, his face twisting with revulsion. "Why would he want her blood?"

Cassius's replying expression was so full of pity for their ignorance that Dean suddenly couldn't stand it any longer. Flinging a hand out, he snatched one of the kitchen chairs away from the table. "Sit, " he ordered Cassius, gesturing sharply towards the seat. "And tell me exactly what in the hell is going on."

"It's complicated, " Cassius hesitated.

"So explain it to me like I'm five, " he snapped in reply. "Start at the beginning - the very beginning - and don't you dare stop until the very end."

Cassius threw a surrendering glance at the clock sitting on the mantel above the stove. When Dean rattled the chair against the floor and yelled sit again, he glanced once between them both and obeyed.

Cassius spoke, and as instructed, began at the start. For a long while there was only the sound of his voice, patiently taking them through the situation, neither of them able to interrupt as he laid the bare facts out before them.

"Demons, " Dean choked out eventually. "He wants to engineer some kind of. . . werewolf-demon pups?"

"He has immersed himself in the blackest of magic, " Cassius confirmed. "And it's taken him to a very dark place. Originally, I was to summon the spirits of his ancestors and extract some of their essence for Northfell to absorb. But he quickly moved onto a far more dangerous level. What he's planning to create is unnatural, an abhorrence."

"And he wants Nyah to carry them."

"Yes. And the chances of her living past the birth are -."

"Enough." Dean had dropped into a seat not long after Cassius had begun talking, but now he hastily stood up and returned to walking lengths of the kitchen floor. "I won't allow that to happen, so we're not discussing it. Just tell me what his next move is."

"From the moment Nyah escaped he's been trying to find her, " Cassius began "I wanted to give her the best chance I could, so I stalled, pretended I was working to locate her and find a way to restore her wolf without her present. He's been shadowing me morning and night however, hounding me to find her. Monday was the first opportunity I had to chance a locator spell, and as I explained earlier; it took everything I had. With the power he's manipulating, " Cassius frowned, "he's found his own way to restore her wolf. Once he begins I won't be able to stop him."

"But we have until then to find her ourselves, " Dean said.

"Only if Northfell's patience holds. He said tomorrow evening, but -."

"We still have time, " Dean insisted.

"Yes, you do, but please understand Mr Carson; Louisa's life is at stake. I will not stop Northfell from claiming Nyah back."

"I know, I know, " Dean assured him hurriedly.

"And even though I cannot believe a word that spews from his mouth, " Cassius continued, "I have to hope he will return my daughter to me, unharmed."

"Is there any way you can delay him?" Dean pushed, "any way at all? I've been searching for Nyah, and I will find her, I know I will, but I need more time."

"No, " Cassius shook his head slowly. "He's come to understand he holds more power. If he learns I've been slowing him down Louisa will pay."

"Dammit!" Dean spat.

Nick got up from his chair. "Dean. . ." he began, before trailing off. He had nothing to suggest, nothing which could offer comfort.

"This can't be happening, " Dean stated, panic rearing inside him again. "This just cannot be happening."

"Dean, " Nick said again.

"No." Dean shrugged off Nick's conciliatory grasp. His wolf was snarling inside, fear urging it to overwhelm Dean and phase so it could return to searching for its mate. "I can't lose her."

"We'll find her, " Nick soothed.

"How?" Dean rounded on him. "How? It's like looking for a needle in a haystack! She could be anywhere. Even if we knew which damned direction she was in it would help, but we've no clue, Nick. We have nothing! I can't lose her, " Dean repeated desperately. "I can't. The pain I feel right now is unbearable – and that's knowing she's alive – if she, if she was gone, it would. . ."

Cassius suddenly rose from his seat. "You are in pain, " he agreed, gesturing at how Dean was grasping at the front of his shirt. "That only happens between wolves who are. . . Mr Carson, are you - is Nyah. . .?"

"My mate, " Dean confirmed. "Yes, Nyah is my mate."

"But, " Cassius paused. "How is that possible? How can that be? Her wolf is gone. How did you connect with her?"

"It's not entirely gone, " Dean corrected him. "It's buried deep, but not gone. It surfaced when she was here. I felt our connection, she -."

"Her wolf surfaced? You felt it? You actually sensed her wolf?"

Dean paused, the look of sudden hopefulness on Cassius's face registering with him. "Yes, when she was asleep, twice, but then it happened again, and she felt it too, that was when our mate connection was established."

"It worked, " Cassius exclaimed, delight brightening his face as he looked between Dean and Nick "I thought it had failed, I thought I hadn't –."

"What worked?" Nick butted in. "What did you do?"

"I altered the spell, " Cassius answered, his gesturing hands alive with a renewed vigour. "Northfell wanted her wolf removed; I knew that if I could somehow bury it deep inside of her instead it would give her a chance. I didn't think it had worked – yes, the corpus essence I transferred from her into the vessel was weak, but I'd never disconnected -." Cassius felt abruptly silent and stared blankly at a point beyond Nick's shoulder. "This changes things, " he announced after a pause. "This certainly changes things."

"How? What can you do?" Dean asked urgently. "Can you find her?"

Cassius ignored Dean's question. "Did you mark her, " he asked instead.

"That is none of your business, " he growled.

"I understand the delicacy of my question, Mr Carson, " Cassius acknowledged, "but I need to know."

"No, " Dean answered flatly. "I did not mark her."

Cassius' delight dimmed for a short moment.

"Why? And does that mean you can't help her?"

"It would have put a considerably larger spanner in the works, " he replied, "but not to worry; the fact that your mate connection has been forged is enough."

"Enough to find her?" Dean asked again.

"Yes, and enough to release her corpus essence, " Cassius replied, already turning to grab his satchel up off the floor. "I'll need some of your blood, " he announced unbuckling the chunky brass buckles, "and if you have any of Nyah's personal effects they would help also."

"There's a t-shirt, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, a -, " Dean began to list.

"Hairbrush, " Cassius said quickly. "Perfect. And I'll take some of your hair, too."

Dean made to dash from the kitchen, but Cassius called over to him, holding him back. "Mr Carson, " he said gravely, bringing Dean to a stop in the doorway. "You know that all I'm giving you is a head start, yes? Tomorrow night Simon will know where she is, too - regardless of whether she's back here with you or not."

"I know."

"And you do understand the danger you're putting yourselves in?"

"All I care about is Nyah, " Dean answered.

"I appreciate that, " Cassius said, "but Northfell won't tolerate another hitch in his plan. He won't hesitate to kill you if he thinks you're trying to stop him."

"Not if I kill him first, " Dean replied simply.

"I've told you what he's capable of, " he warned. "You won't be able to fight him."

"For Nyah and Louisa, " Dean replied, "we'll die trying."

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