“Like bait, you mean?”

“Yes,” he whispered.

“And do you really think you could have driven me out of the Cove?” I asked him.

“Perhaps,” he said. “I nearly got shot of you – but Luke brought you back.”

“And if he hadn’t, I would have died,” I told him, as I remembered those vampires chasing me through the snow. “That’s why I can’t leave him behind now.”

“If you stay and look for him,” Murphy said, easing me back so he could look into my eyes, “then he would have saved you for nothing. He might as well have left you to the vampires that night in the snow – he would have risked his life for nothing.”

Then taking me by the hand, he started to lead me up the beach in the direction that the werewolves had gone. Silently, I went with him. As I did, I looked back over my shoulder to see Isidor following behind us and Potter standing alone, staring out across the lake as if looking for his friend.

Chapter Twenty-Five

We followed the Lycanthrope along the shoreline, the lake lapping around our feet. Turning away had been hard, and with each step I took, I struggled with the temptation to turn around and go back in search of Luke. But search where? And how? With the sun rising and the Vampyrus heading towards the secret lake, the situation was desperate.

However much I knew I had to struggle onwards, I couldn’t help but steal quick glances back over my shoulder and scan the horizon in the desperate hope that I might see Luke dragging himself out of the water. But the only other people I could see were Isidor and Potter following behind. They walked apart, Isidor with his crossbow in hand and Potter with his head and shoulders slumped forward. I could see that he was struggling - just like I was with the loss of our friend. I thought of going to him and offering him some comfort, but I feared that if I started back in that direction, I might never want to come back. So facing front, I continued to follow the giant paw prints that the werewolves had left behind them.

It was only as we drew closer to the fountain that I really appreciated its sheer size and wonder. Water raced in thick, red waves up the front of the mountain, as if being sucked-up by an invisible straw. To watch it was mesmerizing - almost hypnotic. The sound of the water cascading backwards was deafening and it almost seemed to roar like the werewolves themselves.


Reaching the fountain where the water formed a haze of watery-mist, the wolves stopped and turned to face us. Opening his colossal jaws, Jack Seth licked his snout with a fleshy-pink tongue and said, “Do you want to change your mind?”

“About what?” Murphy asked him. The wolf was so big that even on four legs, they stood eye to eye.

“About taking refuge in our sanctuary,” Seth woofed.

I watched Murphy as he looked back in the direction that we had come, and at the sun, which was spinning its golden rays between the tips of two ragged mountains in the distance.

“What choice do we have?” Murphy said grimly.

Without saying another word, Seth and the other three wolves lept from the shoreline and into the fountain.

Joining us by the fountain, Isidor looked up in awe as it towered high above, making us look tiny and insignificant. Potter looked at Murphy.

“What?” Murphy said.

“Why did you have to go and enlist Seth’s help?” Potter said, and his voice didn’t sound angry, just confused. “You’ve just made a very bad situation a whole lot worse.”

“I had no choice,” Murphy started. “I was desperate. After what happened at Hallowed Manor, I knew we were dealing with a ruthless killer, and as my father used to say - sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Our number is too small, Potter, just us against a legion of Vampyrus and the vampires they make. They are picking us off one by one. So I struck a deal with the Lycanthrope. For the release of Jack Seth, they would help hunt for Kayla.”

“But why would they want to help us?” Potter cut in. “They hate the Vampyrus.”

“Exactly!” Murphy said. “They don’t want the Earth overrun by Vampyrus any more than we do. The Lycanthrope have made lives for themselves amongst these mountains - hidden from prying human eyes. But that would all change if this invisible man took the Earth as his own.”

“You should have gone to our elders,” Potter insisted, “told them what we know - they would have helped us - they don’t want our race taking over the Earth any more than we do.”

“They banished us from The Hollows, remember?” Murphy reminded him. “We’re just a pain in their arse - a fly in the ointment. They don’t want any trouble - any political turmoil.”

“We’ll they’re gonna have a whole load of shit dropping on them from a great height,” Potter snapped. “Because by the time they do wake up to what is really going on up here - it will be too late. They will have no power - they will be finished.”

“And that is why I came to the Lycanthrope,” Murphy said. “It wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I agonised over it. I admit they don’t make worthy allies - I don’t want to be associated with that scum anymore than you do. But if we are going to survive this - we’ll have to work with them.”

“Don’t go kidding yourself that they are doing this to help us or the humans,” Potter said, “They are purely in this for themselves - to protect their own little world inside these mountains.”

Then staring hard at Potter, Murphy said, “And that is why we need them, because the Lycanthrope will slaughter anyone or thing that puts their race at risk of being discovered. These serial killers will show no mercy in protecting their own.”

Then, turning and bowing his head, Murphy stepped into the fountain and disappeared from view. I looked at Potter and his eyes were dark, and his jaw firmly set. Turning to face us, he said, “Whatever you do, don’t trust the Lycanthrope. They seem to have fooled the Sarge, but don’t let them fool you. Your lives will depend on it - I promise.” Looking up at the raging crimson fountain, Potter lept forward and disappeared inside it.

“Ready?” I asked Isidor, with an anxious look in his direction.

Holding out his arm, in the direction of the rushing water, he half-smiled and said, “Ladies first.”

“Yeah, thanks,” I grumbled and took a step towards the fountain. As I was about to step into it, Isidor stopped me and said, “Are you injured, Kiera?”

Glancing back at him, I answered, “No. Why?”

“It’s just that you have two large tears down the back of your coat,” he said, his eyes full of concern.

Placing a finger to my lips, I said, “Shhh, Isidor. They were made by my wings.” Then turning front, I stepped into the waterfall and Isidor followed.

Chapter Twenty-Six

We stood at the entrance of an enormous tunnel, which had been carved into the side of the mountain. Ahead was darkness, but as I peered into it, I could see the outline of the Lycanthrope just ahead, waiting for us. The tunnel was rough-looking and made of earth and stone. Moss grew over it and the whole place stank of damp mildew. The others stood beside me, and we dripped water from our hair and clothes onto the uneven ground.

“What’s this mountain called?” I asked to no one particular, but just out of sheer wonder at its huge size. It was like I had stepped into another world - dimension - that lived just on the other side of the world that I thought I had known.

“It’s called home,” Jack Seth growled, his voice echoing back down the tunnel towards us. In the darkness ahead, I could see Seth turn away and his companions followed.

“Ready?” Murphy said, taking a deep breath.

“I guess,” Potter breathed, starting off behind the wolves. Silently we followed him.

The path through the tunnel rose steadily upwards, and even though the gradient wasn’t steep, before long, my legs had grown tired and had started to ache. As the sound of the rushing waterfall faded away behind us, so did the last pinprick of daylight shining through on the other side of it. But as we continued to climb, the craggy walls of the tunnel were lit with a series of gas lanterns that shed an orange glow into the gloom.

Onwards we went and I began to wonder how deep and high this mountain could be, and just when I thought I could walk no more, we reached a stone plateau that looked out across a spectacle so amazing that I lost my breath. Isidor stood beside me and I heard him whistle through his teeth in awe. I tried to absorb every detail, every shard of light that glinted from those lanterns, making the world that was now spread beneath glow like hot embers in a fire.

“I can’t believe what I’m seeing,” I whispered.

“My home is beautiful, don’t you think?” Jack Seth asked as he suddenly appeared beside me. He was no longer a wolf, but back in human form - if you could call it that.

Straining my neck to look up at him as he towered over me, I said, “It’s incredible,” then I looked back at the jagged scenery below.

“It’s as beautiful as The Hollows,” Isidor said, sounding almost out of breath.

“Nothing is as beautiful as The Hollows,” Potter remarked, and he looked unimpressed at the scene spread out below us. “Some regions are so beautiful, people have been known to be so mesmerized by them, that they have stood there for days, transfixed to the spot, unable to tear their eyes away from the view.”

“It sounds incredible,” I whispered, hardly able to imagine a world more wondrous than the one I was now looking at.

“It is,” Potter said, his voice sounding miles away, as if lost in his own memories. “When I was a child, my mother and father used to take me to the Talles Varineris.”

“What’s that?” I asked surprised, as this was the first time that I’d ever heard Potter say anything about his past life.

“The largest canyon in the world. It makes your Grand Canyon look like a crack in a paving stone,” he said, looking at me. And then, as if he realised he had in some way said too much, he looked away.

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