“How? Where are they? Do you think they’re keeping Ella there?” I bombarded my younger friend with questions eager to learn my sister’s whereabouts.
“I was looking through all of my books when I thought of what El- the shifter said at Ella and Alex’s birthday. She said, ‘A small village.’” Alexis paused waiting for us to catch on and when none of us did she said, “We’re in New York and there are several big cities in the state and obviously the shifters are still in New York since they can only teleport to close places they know well. See shifters are all over the place, but New York is where their queen resides, so the higher ranked monsters will stay closer to their queen and only higher ups can teleport. And all the higher ups have this tattoo on their neck.” She pulled a book off the table and flipped through until she found the page she wanted.
“Here this is the symbol.” She showed us a picture of a bird that wasn’t completely a bird. It was more like a bird, lion, deer combination thing.
“What is it?” Leon asked.
“It’s called Sharabha. It’s a creature from Hindu mythology, it has the legs of deer, wings of bird and head of a lion. It pretty much symbolizes strength.” Alex said. We all looked at him. “What I pay attention in class!” He squeaked. He covered his mouth and we laughed. It felt nice to laugh with everything that’s going on.
“Anyways, Alex was right. To the shifters it represents the power of an ancient ones. The location is one of the smaller towns in New York. One of the smallest is a place called Woodstock. It has just under 6000 people, and it just so happens that the reason so few people live there is because the shifters only allow the young, the strong, and the healthy stay, the rest well you saw what happened to Cassidy,” Alexis said somewhat excitedly. I shuddered at the memory. “ The nest is probably somewhere obvious so they can be there to keep a close eye on the townspeople. Somewhere like a diner or someplace that can have a lot of people.”
“What about an inn?” Mark suggested.
“That would work really well. Except for the fact that Woodstock has quite a few inns,” Liam said looking at his sister.
“What if we checked out the biggest inn, because that’s probably the most likely to have the queen inside?” Mark asked.
“That’s actually a really good idea the biggest one, the one with the most ancient ones,” Alexis said getting excited again.
“How long does it take to get there?” I asked.
“Three hours max,” Liam told me.
“Then let’s figure out a plan and go?” Alex said.
“No. You don’t know enough about the shifters. You need to learn their weaknesses, their strengths, and so much more. We have six more days, we have to use our time wisely. We have five more days to train, and on the sixth day we leave as early as possible,” Alexis said.
“I agree,” Leon said. We murmured in agreement. Little did I know a lot could happen in five days.
After our meeting we went our separate ways to think of ideas for what our next steps would be. It wasn’t even noon yet so I went to find my older brother to keep me company. I went to his room first but no one was there so I checked the backyard and there he was staring at a random tree and playing with blades of grass.
“Well I didn’t think I would ever see a grown man playing with grass like a five year old that’s bored at something his parents dragged him to,” I said clapping slowly. Leon turned his head and said, “Come here I want some quality time with my baby sister.”
“I’m not a baby,” I said walking over and sitting down beside him.
“I know you’re really scared,” Leon said.
“Who said I was scared?” I asked. I wasn’t scared.
“I can see it all over your face.” I was terrified.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t show,” I said.
“I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that noticed.” I wasn’t supposed to be scared. I’ve been running around trying to beat these things for years and I had never been scared like this before. Sure I had gotten scared when I was younger and right after Liz died but I’m eighteen now and I’ve been doing this for almost eleven years. I hadn’t realized I said this out loud until Leon said, “ just because you’ve been doing this for a long time doesn’t mean you can’t be scared. I’m terrified, I’m sure Liam, Alexis, and Alex are scared too. I’d be worried if you weren’t scared.”
“I don’t know what to do. I haven’t been this scared in years,” I said softly.
“Trust me I know the feeling,” the older man said wrapping his arm around my shoulder. I leaned into his side hoping to find some warmth in the cool May afternoon. We sat there for a little while longer. I wish this moment would last forever, I thought. Just me and my brother for eternity, but that would never happen. My luck isn’t that good. If that did happen I would never see Liam and Alexis, Ella and Alex ever again, and I would never wish for something like that.
Our moment was interrupted when Liam came out and yelled, “Marie! Alexis says you need to go train with her!”
I groaned, got up, and walked to my boyfriend of two days. “Will you help me escape the monster named Alexis?”
“No. You need to train and she’s my sister.”
“You mean you’re too scared to do anything that would go against her?” I asked teasingly. Liam blushed. “Wait, she actually scares you?”
“Maybe just a little bit,” He said turning red as a tomato.
“Marie, we’re going to finish up your training in my room tonight. We need to figure out strategies and everything for the next five days,” Alexis said interrupting my fun. I followed the younger girl out of the kitchen and up to her room.
When we came in I heard a familiar voice coming from the shadows.
“You’ve grown into a beautiful young woman, Marie.” I froze. It was him, the man I had thought of like a second father, the man I never expected to see again. There he was, my Uncle Angelos.