Feral, wrapped over Ky, watched Mag warily as Lovely touched his tongue delicately to the orb on his arm. He had once seen the requiem nearly kill two relics when they had given into starvation and tried to touch him. It was fresh from the move, when Anselm hadn’t had their living arrangements quite figured out, and the requiem was chained with the others upstairs. In an instant Seriphous had gone from docile and dulled eyed to a murderous beast, all to protect the two fools from what Anselm would do to them if he discovered they fed from the requiem. Feral knew the hunger and isolation had taken his brain then—requiem were not meant to survive starvation but be what prevented it. Feral could not let his guard down, not with the whelp so trusting, and Thornes so easily addled by the requiem’s power.


Ky, who is lost in his change, starving, confused, is on the verge of breaking down as he thinks of all he’s messed up. He feels different now, more stable since the sex, and he realizes they were right. He keeps fucking it up. He doesn’t understand anything.

Why would you? Why would you know any of this? Feral is blunt. Do you even understand how long we have lived far from our realm? We barely remember who we used to be. Why should you know it as well? You have only know what you were.

I don’t know… I don’t know what I’m becoming. I don’t know why I feel like this, why I’m breaking at every fucking turn. I’m hungry. I’m so fucking hungry but I don’t want food. The last thing I ate was Tobias and I can’t ever eat again. Tomorrow—I’m going to fuck it up. I’m already falling apart and I can’t do it. I can’t protect you.

Mag is the one who grabs Ky’s shoulder and pulls him toward him. You ‘ate’ him? His first words since the fight, Ky stares at him in shock.

Ky nods, his expression growing grim. He owned the other wand. He was going to kill Brave. I… I let them kill him. They fed me pieces of him and… he trails off, watching as Mag, with a serious expression, reaches up and carefully pulls one of the dark piercings from his ear.

Feral speaks to Ky while watching as well. You have killed in defense of your clan. You have protected your bonded and taken a life. You have eaten the flesh of the dead to honor the life you took and the ones you saved. You have earned your ‘mark’—find a better word.

Ky is confused, feeling the weight of the three. They seemed so serious, like it was a ritual. For murder? For cannibalism?

Lovely steps up, a claw outstretched. He pierces the outer edge of Ky’s ear, quick to slip the dark metal in place before he can heal. We are all energy. Everything we feed from, we give back. We consume those who die so they live on with us, immortal in our bodies. Every life becomes a part of us, forges us.


Ky sighs, his lips parting when Lovely sought his mouth out and kissed him deeply. He let himself be pulled close, his breath growing short with every rough kiss and sharp nip to his skin. Having Lovely touch him after all his anger, his mistrust and confusion, seemed to sooth something inside of him.

Lovely fucks Ky. This needs to be a meeting. Ky realizes the immense fear the relics have for his safety. They think he’s going to die tomorrow and it has fueled their actions the same way Ky’s new hunger has made him irrational and emotional.

Ky showers and goes to bed with all three in bed, Mag sitting at the furthest corner, his hair brushed smooth even if it was still in need of a wash. Wounds healed—at least the ones visible. Feral fucked out, and Lov purring and content. Ky worries, wondering in how many ways he’ll fail them all by the time tomorrow is over.

WARNING. This site contains sexually oriented adult material intended for individuals 18 years of age or older. If you are not yet 18, if adult material offends you, or if you are accessing this site from any country or locale where adult material is prohibited by law, please leave now.



(An actual show of responsibility and expectation on Raven’s side. A potential marriage prospect and why things have dragged out as long as they have. Let’s mention Raven’s duties at home and how he has been the primary caretaker for the kids since he was 15. I want a response to the fire ‘tragedy’ seeing as Raven is more informed about what happened that night and the dangers lurking. He doesn’t know the entire story, but while half the town calls his parents traitors, half see them as heroes. The distinction is extreme and focused completely on the wolf packs.)

Wed afternoon

Raven needs to have a meeting with a prospective wolf, older, distinguished. Raven compromises on his appearance, keeping to a tight black pant suit, cut feminine but at least it wasn’t a dress. He still did his makeup but didn’t add any crazy colors in. He was even in flats—well, two inches. It was flat to him. He looked flawless, beautiful, but ultimately boring. Chris had glared and pleaded for him to just dress like a guy for one fucking hour. But Chris didn’t understand how much of a struggle this already was. He felt plain, boring, and every time he caught his reflection he wanted to do something with his hair which he had kept down and straight for a silky finish. He missed his tattoos, missed his piercings. Missed him. He liked feeling pretty—Fuck, he didn’t know himself when he wasn’t feeling pretty and wild. But this wasn’t about him. This was never about him. This was about the town and the people that depended on him. This was about his family that was starving because as the Sentry, he wasn’t allowed to work and make money and Chris wasn’t allowed to run the pack until Raven was squared away with. This was about the kids and Raven tried to think of them as he caught sight of the wolves arriving outside.

The arrangement, the house he’d live in, the family he would join, the prestige, etc. How his family would be provided for.

I want Raven’s match to be clear that he might not mind the way the boy dresses but he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the pack. It will undermine his position. Perhaps at home out of sight. His clothing now is fine but the makeup was a bit much. Would he mind taking it off for him? Raven dips his napkin in a water glass, swiping at his left eye, only to stop, sighing deeply.

You don’t need to hide under all that. I’m sure you’re lovely—

I’m not hiding, Mr. __. This is who I am and asking me to change that is like asking me to cut off a limb.

Surely you’re exaggerating.

Raven fixes him with a hard glare. He runs his fingers through his hair, purple and silver highlights streaking through and sparkling. No, I’m not. How would you feel if I asked you to never transform into a wolf? That you could go out and run in the wilds but you could not turn into a wolf because it would undermine my position as Sentry? That you would need to remain only half of yourself—even though you would surely survive—so that you’d be able to afford to feed your family and self?

Silent for long moments, he eventually nods. I can understand your point, truly, but I’m afraid I cannot concede to it. Not only am I faced on a daily basis with a very traditional group of men and women that look to me for guidance and protection but I have to consider my own desires as well. I’m seeking a mate that knows who he is and has nothing to hide. I’m not impressed by superficialities such as beauty and designer clothing.

Raven is growing stiffer by the moment. Mr. __ my appearance is not intended to impress anyone.

But you are trying to shock, you must agree to that. You’re clearly looking for attention. Either out of some ill placed need for sexual congress or some statement on—

My appearance is just my appearance. Would you like for me to suggest that every time you bothered to shave and comb your hair it was because you’re hoping to get laid? Must I feel ashamed for the fact that other people find me attractive?

Do they? Is it you they find attractive or the layers of makeup and outlandish clothing? Does anyone even see you under all that?

Feeling slapped, Raven sat back, staring determinedly at his hands.

I did not mean for that to come out as harshly as it did. I’m a lot older than you and long past the care for

Age can always afford rudeness, Raven said hollowly. He was standing before he realized it.

He stands as well. Mr. Lucent, please—

Mr. __, I have a responsibility to my family to ensure that they have everything they could need to bring them happiness. I have a duty to this town and every person living here to protect them from the dark forces that lurk just outside these borders. I also have an obligation to myself—and although the many people I protect may not see this obligation, it is just as important as any other task I do. I must be true to myself. I must nurture, love, and respect who I am so that when I am feeling the weight of my many responsibilities, I do not break beneath them all.

I did not mean to suggest that your role in the town was not essential. There is no one more capable—If your mother had been half as powerful, surely that tragedy never would have occurred. Please, Mr. Lucent, stay. I was thinking only of myself and not your situation.

Blinking back the sting of tears, Raven focused on the man, finding his eyes had softened. I just need a moment to freshen up, he whispered, heading towards the bathroom. He pauses at the door ways, the male and female signs with their simple pants and skirt. He wasn’t a woman and didn’t wish to be one. He was a man that enjoyed wearing the same clothing that women did. He wasn’t ashamed of his body, he didn’t think he was in the wrong form or that there was anything wrong with him. It was the world that was fucked up. The one that said that just because he was born with a dick he needed to dress a certain way, act a certain way, and accept being treated a certain way for choosing to be different. But he hadn’t chosen to be different, this was just the way he was. Even a gay man like Mr. __ who had fought with his pack for the right to love someone of the same gender still couldn’t understand how ridiculous it was that he was just trying to fight for the right to wear a skirt and makeup and not be treated like a freak for it.

Stepping into the man’s bathroom, he went to the sink, washing his hands and patting his face with water. Staring at his dull reflection, he began magicking it to something more his style. He was beautiful like this. Fierce. He never should have compromised on who he was. It was like Deon had said—he had a job to do that required him to show the world he was fucking awesome. And if the world wanted to criticize him for it, well, that was their fucking problem. This was who he was.

Steps back out, Mr. __ standing when he reaches the table. He ignores the judgment in the man’s eyes, sitting tall and meeting his gaze boldly. So why, Mr. __, should I, the Sentry, be interested in marrying into the __ pack?

This meeting will end with a no but this wolf will show an understanding that will bring a yes later and cause Raven’s conflict with Deon.


“Shit, what is it? What's wrong?”

I fight the cold terror clawing up my chest as I watch Voldemort torture the remaining life out of what is no longer anything recognizable as human. The terror unfortunately claws back. I grab the offender, hissing when my wrist is twisted and pinned to the floor.

“Potter, snap the fuck out of it!”

“Shit—What the fuck?” I yelp, very much awake, my shoulder stinging from where Malfoy smacked me.

“You were screaming. I thought you were being murdered.” He releases my wrist to cover his face with his hands. He's crouched on the floor, feet just brushing my right hip as he sits back and slumps against the side of the bed. “Fuck, you scared the fucking life out of me. Fuck.”

Blinking at his dim features in the warm glow of the night light, I relax back to the floor, letting the fear slowly drain from my body as I try to collect my wits. “Sorry. I don't sleep much. He... he likes to pump visions into my brain when my guard is down.”

Pushing his bangs back from his face and gripping his hair, Draco sighs another weary sigh. “What the fuck does that even mean?”

“Snakeface. He uses my scar to feed shit into my head.” Once the words are out of my mouth, I immediately wish I could take them back. Malfoy's spent a lifetime finding out anything he can about me and twisting it to sound the worst among our peers. I really shouldn't be handing him information where it's clear I'm fucking crazy.

“You're telling me You-Know-Who tortures you in your sleep? Every night?”

Fuck, he sounds scared. “Yes. But It's not me. It's other people he's hurting.”

“Real people? Did you see... Did he show you stuff he's doing this very night?”

God, I'm like the biggest ass. “I don't know. I didn't see your mom, if that's what you're wondering. Or your dad.”

It is, and he gives another heavy sigh, rubbing his temples, his hair a perfect mess. His legs seem extra long from this angle, his calves strong, thighs muscular.

“Sorry I woke you. I'm used to having silencing spells for when I'm in the dorm.”

“Shit, don't your relatives say anything?” He fans his fingers out over his face, eyes meeting mine through the opening. “How are they not knocking down the door right now to make sure you're okay?”

Yeah, he's more than a little naïve. “They don't care, Malfoy. They all wear earplugs so they don't have to hear me. They're probably hoping one day they're going to wake up and I'll really be dead. Go to bed and stop asking so many damn questions.”

“Damn, you're a surly bastard. Are you going to be pissed off at me the whole time?”

Probably. He's hot as fuck, in my personal space, and I can't touch him. Yeah, I'm going to be fucking grumpy as hell. “Go to bed.”

“It's lumpy.”

Petulant prat. “What, you want to sleep on the floor?”


I open my eyes, finding him biting his lip while studying my face. “You freaked?”

He nods, another sigh escaping him. “Will you just... just talk to me for a bit? My heart is racing and the night just feels alive with terrible things right now and I keep wondering about my parents and if they're...”

I hold up my hand, my arm feeling heavy with sleep. “I get it. But let's talk about something that's going to calm you down, not freak you out more.”

“Kay... What do you want to talk about?”

“Nothing, I want to go back to sleep,” I say bluntly. “You pick.”

“Oh. Alright.” He tilts his head back on the side of the bed, closing his eyes, arms resting on his knees. I close my eyes, hoping he'll talk himself to sleep without needing me to answer. I don't get much sleep, pretty much ever, and my body fights for it when it's available.

“Tell me about your boyfriend.”

I snort sleepily. Fucking prat just won't let it die. “Paul's not my boyfriend. I don't think we've ever had a full conversation.”

“Oh... So do you do that with a lot of guys? Just, what, casually...”

“If you're asking if I'm a slut, no. I'm very selective in who I let touch me.”

“Can't really tell... Unless you like ruffians covered in tats and piercings. You probably do. You have terrible taste in lots of other things as well.”

Probably. Compared to him, I'm always a mess. “Fine. You tell me what kind of guy I should like.”

“Hmm... That's a good one. Well, for starters, someone you want to actually talk to. A wizard, naturally.”


“No? You have to date a wizard, Potter, you can't just date some clueless muggle. What the hell are they going to say when you start sparking in the middle of the night, screaming about all the blood?”

That makes me open my eyes. “I was sparking?”

He nods, blinking at me sleepily. “Green. Scared the shit out of me. You can't do that to a muggle. It's plain cruel.”

It's really difficult to look away from his face. When he's tired, his guard is down. Nearly sweet looking. “I'll sleep in a different room. Wouldn't be right to put anyone through that.”

“That's dumb. You'd have to walk all the way to the other room just to be cuddled. Or you'd make him have to walk all the way to you through the dark to check up on you.”

Like I want to be cuddled? “Not if I put up a silencing spell. He'll never know I'm—”

“You're messed up. Why the hell wouldn't you want your boyfriend to wake you up and hold you after dreaming fucking terrible things in your sleep? Why the hell do you always want to be alone all the time? I'm always alone when I come home for the summer, and I hate it. People make things better. Alive.”

The sound of his voice is lulling me to sleep, but it's a question I really can't ignore. “Life is pain... The less pain at this point, the better.”

He's quiet. I think I may have fallen asleep because when he does speak, it seems far away. “How long have you been having those nightmares?”

“Long... Three years... Four.”

“That's fucked up, Potter.”

It sucks, that's for sure.

My silent reply is completely ignored. “You need to date someone that won't let you be alone.”

I like being alone.

“Someone that can challenge you. Not just feel you up in some crowded room. You can totally do better,” he mutters.

I don't want to do better.

“Someone that can appreciate just how much you sacrifice... Really, you give too much. All the time... and you won't ever accept anything in return... I mean, the world is waiting for you to either win or die at his hands, and you sleep on a lumpy mattress. Tonight the floor, for someone you can't stand.”

I can stand him... I really can.

“You let me rip on your shitty boyfriend and your stuff and your hair... and pretty much anything that pops in my head at the time cus I just have to fucking talk so I don't think about shit. And you still sleep on the fucking floor even though you get terrible nightmares and probably can't sleep even more... You even got me that light that probably keeps you up... Hell, me talking probably keeps you up... You're fucking amazing. Seriously.”

I'm pretty sure I'm asleep. His hand on my cheek feels cool, fingers brushing lightly over my features. A thumb presses into my scar, running up the length of it and then slowly down, repeating in slow swipes.

“Sweet dreams, Harry.”

Yeah, I'm definitely dreaming.



Magnificent Night wouldn’t meet his eyes when Ky closed the bathroom door. It wasn’t too small a room. Magnificent’s wings didn’t brush the walls of black and white tile, or the antiquated but well kept fixtures. Still, Ky knew a caged animal when he saw one. Each movement Magnificent took caused the chains on his arms to rattle and the sound was amplified in the contained, tiled space. Magnificent’s gaze darted to each wall, and he looked at the shower, toilet, and faucet like he was staring at a torture chamber.

“This is where we go to clean,” Ky explained patiently. He stepped to the faucet and turned the handle. Magnificent’s breath hitched when water poured forth. There was a spark of curiosity in his eyes but it was quickly swallowed up by his unease when Ky wet a facecloth in warm water and approached him. Magnificent held his breath, his body tense when Ky pressed the fabric to the tail slash on his chest.

“Does it hurt?” Ky’s voice cracked. Guilt tightened his gut as he carefully dabbed up the dried blood his chest was streaked in. If he hadn’t yelled, hadn’t blamed Magnificent for things completely out of his control, the requiem never would have hurt himself.

Magnificent didn’t answer, and Ky kept his head ducked as he wondered if he was silently blaming him too. Ky’s fingers gently probed a bruise on Magnificent’s side and paused when he got no response. “It looks painful. Not as much as here, though,” he added when he caught sight of the red where the metal bonds wrapped Magnificent’s wrists. Ky raised the manacled hand and pressed his mouth to the raw flesh.

“That won’t work,” Magnificent muttered.

“It won’t heal?” Ky licked his tongue out, only to shy back when the chain swayed too close to his face. It was like they were sucking the heat and moisture right from the air and left everything cold. “We’ll wrap them in something,” Ky said decisively and looked for a towel to do just that. “Just until we get you free.”

“You mustn’t touch them. You mustn’t heal me.” Magnificent pulled his arm away and stepped back. “You’ll anger the master.”

Ky was left staring at his empty hand, his dark bangs obscuring his eyes. “You know he’s dead, right? He’s been dead for years now.” He looked up to find Magnificent mirroring his posture and staring at the floor. He refused to answer, and Ky sighed heavily. “Do you want me to go?” He held the facecloth up. “You can clean yourself now, and yeah… Yeah, I don’t know why I’m doing this.” He dragged his fingers through his hair agitatedly.

Whatever Magnificent needed, he didn’t know how to help him. The guy thought he was still living in the past. He was waiting for Anselm to show up and punish him. It was heartbreaking, and depressing, and Ky really didn’t know if he could handle it at the moment.

Magnificent made no move to take the facecloth from him, so Ky walked it over to the sink. He idly turned the faucet on, plugged the drain, and stared at the water filling the basin. “I don’t know how to talk to you,” he admitted quietly. “I don’t know if I’m saying the right thing when I tell you the world is different, or if it’s like waking a sleepwalker and it’s going to freak you out or something. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not even old enough to drink and suddenly all this complicated stuff is on my shoulders. I… Fuck, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Ky hunched forward and leaned on the counter as he watched the water swirl. He knew he was going to fuck it all up tomorrow. He knew it so surely, he was half afraid he was planning it at this point. He wasn’t smart enough, and he didn’t know any magic. He secretly hoped Lovely and Feral had a plan, but now he knew they were just as lost, just as limited. He couldn’t even talk to his parents about it. They wouldn’t be much help, but Ky missed the unwavering support they used to have for him.

Ky twisted the faucet off and stared moodily at the water swaying and lapping at the white basin. He felt unanchored. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to find his way back to the world he belonged in, or if he even knew what that world was anymore.

Ky shook himself and reached for the facecloth. He stopped when Magnificent’s hand slipped into view beside his and cautiously touched the brush on the counter.

“It’s fine. Take it,” Ky urged when Magnificent hesitated and his fingers fell short of the handle.

Magnificent sighed before speaking. “The chains… They make it difficult.”

“Shit—sorry.” Ky picked the brush up and whirled to meet Magnificent’s quiet gaze. “Sorry. I’ll find a way to break them off. I don’t know how, but we’re going to find a way.”

Ky was somewhat relieved Magnificent didn’t answer. It either would have been an insistence that he couldn’t because Anselm might punish them, or maybe worse. Magnificent might trust him to follow through. All of Ky’s promises felt empty lately. He wanted to keep them, he wanted to be the person the Relics needed, but he knew his flaws were far more abundant than his heart was big at the moment.

“Umm…” Ky raised his eyebrows, suddenly feeling awkward as he stepped toward Magnificent. “This is okay, right? I mean, I know the chains are in the way, but I don’t want you to feel weird.”

Magnificent paused and eventually tilted his head, offering the side so Ky could have access to his hair.

Ky definitely felt weird as he stepped close and sectioned off a lock of Magnificent’s hair. He kept his eyes fixed on his task, and not the hard, bare body before him adorned only with piercings and bruises. The sexual attraction he felt for Magnificent hadn’t faded no matter how much he really wished it would. Magnificent clearly needed help. He was confused, lost, and kind of crazy. All really reasonable given what happened to him, just, wanting to touch him when he was like this felt kind of messed up.

“Sorry,” Ky mumbled when the brush snagged on a tangle and his chest bumped against the flesh of Magnificent’s arm. Magnificent breathed out unsteadily and carefully turned so they wouldn’t touch. It could have been a rejection, except Ky had seen the odd flash of blue energy zap through the dark bumps on his arm. Ky glanced down and raked his teeth over his lower lip when he saw Magnificent was erect, his cock flushed.

“Uh.” Ky fought a blush and tore his gaze back up to his task. “You have a lot of knots. It’s all tangled.” Magnificent’s hair was rough beneath his fingertips, and Ky raised the ends to show him. “You also have a bad case of split ends. If you want, I can cut it for you. It’ll make it easier to handle until the chains are off…” Ky clicked his mouth shut when Magnificent’s tail wrapped around his wrist.

“You must leave it as is,” Magnificent said, his eyes piercing like it was deathly important.

Ky pursed his lips in confusion. “Messy?”

“Untouched. Long. It represents…” Magnificent hissed softly and released Ky. He fixed his gaze on the side wall. “My hair is part of who I am to them.”

“Oh.” Ky studied Magnificent’s features and took in his tense jaw and shadowed eyes. “To who?” he asked tentatively.

“My lovers,” Magnificent’s voice was rough with emotion. “They know me by my hair. They… They once took turns to clean and brush it. The greater it shone, the more they knew I was cared for. It was a symbol of our happiness.” His eyes slipped back to Ky and his hand came up to gently brush the dark, spiky bangs from his forehead. “It is a luxury to have such well kept hair. You must be very loved.”

The last thing Ky felt lately was loved. Any affection turned his way felt like a lie of sorcery, or worse, pity. He dragged his gaze down and stared at the brush in his hand. Magnificent’s hair was straggly and unkempt and reflected a neglect that was far more real than the hollow feeling clenching at his chest. “We’ll wash it, okay?” Ky said decidedly. “We’ll wash your hair and then douse it with a ton of conditioner to make it smooth again.” He knew it wouldn’t erase the past, but maybe it would help Magnificent see things were different.

“Is that okay?” Ky glanced up, afraid he might have said the wrong thing. He held his breath when Magnificent’s fingers nudged his chin up and lips brushed his. A soft sigh escaped him, echoed by Magnificent, who kissed him deeper. Ky’s lashes fluttered shut and he sank forward and opened to the hot touch of his tongue.

He shouldn’t. Ky knew he shouldn’t. Out of all the Relics to confuse with his new power, Magnificent was the most vulnerable, the most easily destroyed. He knew, but he just couldn’t stop. He wanted to feel devoured. He wanted to disappear in the requiem and never have to think again.

Ky tilted his head until their lips sealed, and pushed forward, grasping at Magnificent’s shoulders. Kissing him was just as intense as the first time, just like the last time, and every desperate kiss in between. It bubbled something that felt like pure insanity through Ky and left him burning and gasping for oxygen as Magnificent pulled him close and plundered his mouth roughly. The brush fell to the floor with a clatter and Ky tangled his hand into Magnificent’s hair. He pulled the long locks taunt, and Magnificent groaned against his lips. The sink slammed against his ass when Magnificent crushed him back, and Ky whimpered, his lips kissed and nipped sore while strong hands rubbed possessively over every inch of his body they could reach.

“Wait. Damn it,” Ky gasped out when Magnificent suddenly pulled from his mouth with a frustrated groan. He avoided Ky’s lips and instead held him against his chest, his face buried into Ky’s silky hair. Ky could feel Magnificent tremble in restraint with every ragged breath he dragged in.

Ky blinked a few times to get the room to stop spinning. His heart was pounding in his ears and it was hard to think, hard to care about anything but the hot body pulsing against his. He felt like he was just swept up by a wildfire and it was impossible not to be burned, not to have his entire body vibrate for more.

A bruise shone purple on Magnificent’s throat, and Ky drew closer and sealed his lips over the mark. He felt Magnificent stiffen in his grip, and a soft groan rumbled through him when Ky licked up the tender skin and multicolored spots. Ky rubbed tingling lips over his flesh as he held his bicep tight to reach higher. He kissed the raw slash on Magnificent’s jaw and cheek, and traced his trembling tongue over the mark until it healed.

Magnificent’s breath was ragged as he turned toward him and caught the side of Ky’s mouth with his. He kissed him deep, drinking down Ky’s whimpers with every hot slide of lips. Magnificent drew him up until Ky was half wrapped around his taller form. Ky’s legs wobbled from standing on tiptoes, but he threw an arm around Magnificent’s neck and held tight to meet each intense, wet kiss.

“Oh,” Ky gasped when Magnificent’s hips shifted and his erection found his with just the layer of his pants between then. Ky grasped a hand down, holding Magnificent’s side tight as he ground back and sought more pressure.

Magnificent growled in approval and rocked with him. He palmed down Ky’s torso and tore at the hem of his shirt. When he pulled it up his back, cool air rushed over Ky’s flushed skin. Ky’s breath hitched and he froze, their lips inches apart as they gasped.

“Sorry.” Ky’s gaze moved from Magnificent’s eyes down to his kiss swollen lips. “I’m trying not to be like this.” He breathed in deep despite himself. Magnificent smelled right, safe, strong. Ky knew it was a lie—Magnificent was even more lost than him—but his scent made him feel protected and loved.

Magnificent didn’t seem to remember his confused reasons for resiting before. He nuzzled down against his face and brushed a lingering kiss to Ky’s jaw. “You’re hungry. We’re like this when we hunger.”

Ky snorted and refused to look his way. “I’m horny. It’s totally different.”

“That also happens when we hunger,” Magnificent murmured. His lips forged a hot trail up Ky’s jaw, and teeth nipped the soft lobe of his ear. “Once you feed, it won’t ache as much. It will become pleasure again, not this gnawing hunger.”

Ky’s head lolled back and he sighed as lips moved down his chin to his throat. Even dizzy and somewhat weak, Ky only felt pleasure. It was only ever pleasure with the Relics. Magnificent’s large cock rubbed against his, and they both groaned. It was easy to get lost in the rhythm, and Ky’s eyes closed and back arched as they rocked together. His nerves sang with each touch and press of Magnificent’s bare flesh to his clothed form. A palm fumbled down the back of his pants, seeking his waistband, and Ky jolted back to reality with a whimper.

“Sorry.” Ky shook his head with a start and pushed a hand between the press of their bodies. “Sorry. You feel… You always feel so damn good to me.” Ky watched dazedly as his hand slid down Magnificent’s hard chest and through the beads of sweat that had formed. He pushed to the side, his breath held as he teased a thumb over a pierced nipple. Ky’s mouth felt wet as he imagined leaning forward and sliding his tongue over the bud.

Magnificent’s breath was heavy in his ear as he kissed along Ky’s jaw. “We mustn’t feed. If he catches us…”

Ky closed his eyes in a sharp wince. “Magnificent…” Fuck, he was seriously a monster. Like on the level of molesting a trauma victim, monster.

“They need my energy.” Magnificent pressed a slow kiss to Ky’s upper lip. His voice changed with each word and drained of the warmth it held moments ago. “They all suffer, starve with me right in the room. But it must be this way. To keep them alive, I can’t feed them.”

Goosebumps shivered over Ky’s skin. It felt like only moments ago Magnificent had really seen someone die for merely touching him, kissing him. It was insane. Had Anselm really killed every lover Magnificent had just to keep the requiem from using his power? Had his fear been that great, he murdered over something so small as to find comfort and share energy?

Ky surged forward and pressed a hard kiss to Magnificent’s now still lips. “That was a long time ago,” he whispered. “He’s gone. No one will be hurt.”

“I won’t let them die.” The quiet, unsteady words sounded like a mantra, something Magnificent might have whispered again and again when the hunger hit and his eyes glowed in desperation. Ky’s heart twisted painfully, and he ducked his head down.

Magnificent was just too messed up to handle reality. He had lived in a place in his head for so long, to leave it was to face all he had given up to make it this far. There was too much in his straggly hair, the age that crept up on him, or the weakness in his once powerful limbs and an even stronger heart. He atrophied in so many ways while living in a cage, and surely to leave it was to truly see it all.

“I understand.” Ky pressed a soft kiss to the center of Magnificent Night’s chest. “I do.”

Magnificent inhaled deeply. “Yes, you’re like me. I sense it, taste it.” He threaded fingers into Ky’s hair and drew back so he could see him better. Magnificent’s brows scrunched as his gaze roamed the top of Ky’s head, which was void of horns, to his rounded ears and wingless back. “I thought for a moment we had… I dream sometimes.” Magnificent’s voice was a dark rasp, and his eyes haunted as he searched Ky’s gaze. “I thought we touched, joined, but that can’t be. You’re starving.”

“Starving?” Ky scoffed. Unease flickered through him and he pulled away. “I’m fine, just a little dizzy. I’m learning how to be this way, that’s all. You don’t starve in a damn day.” Hell, he had fucked his brains out at Tobias’s while Lovely and Feral were able to survive literal years without feeding. If he truly needed more, there was something wrong with him. Ky crossed his arms over his chest. “Listen, I’m the last person you need to worry about, okay? Out of the four of us, I’m not afraid to leave the house. Or make a damn sandwich, for that matter. I’m fine.”

“They all starve.” Magnificent’s eyes were unfocused and fixed on the black tiled floor. “I wish to protect them, but I hurt anyone who touches me.”

“Aw, fuck.” Ky sighed heavily as he heard his own words thrown back at him. “You don’t… You didn’t have any control in that. You can’t blame yourself for shit you did when you were locked up in a damn prison. I never should have said those things to you.” Magnificent’s face remained impassive, and Ky whirled away and took a few tense steps. “It’s not your fault. Anselm was an asshole. You can’t blame yourself for what other people do. The guy was insane. All these sorcerers are insane.”

They were insane, and he was going to be trapped in a fucking building full of them in less than 24 hours. And if he failed, or worse, died, there would be no one to come back and tell Magnificent to run—to feed, and run, and love, and never let another sorcerer near him again.

“You should get back before the master…”

Ky growled and turned. His eyes blazed power as he stalked back to Magnificent, grabbed his chained hands, and kissed him fiercely. “Stop talking. Just stop talking nonsense. You can’t be crazy right now,” he muttered between deep, hard kisses. “You need to be strong. Stable. Sane, damn it.” There was too much depending on him, and the thought of the Relics being this lost if he never returned tomorrow terrified Ky more than anything else.

Ky breathed out unsteadily and slipped down to kiss the hollow of Magnificent’s throat. There was so much he couldn’t control, so much he couldn’t predict or prepare for. This, though, this he could do. This made sense no matter how insane the world turned.

Magnificent’s eyes slit shut and he sighed heavily. “We mustn’t,” he murmured, even as he titled his head back to give Ky better access.

“It’s okay.” Ky rubbed his hand over the hard planes of Magnificent’s chest and leaned down to kiss a bruise. He sucked at the sore flesh and licked it healed while Magnificent groaned.

“I… I can’t see anymore die,” Magnificent insisted breathlessly. “So many have died.”

Ky paused, a frown threatening. “He’s not here. Anselm is dead.” He reached up and traced slim fingers along Magnificent’s throat. “Can’t you tell? You have no collar, no master. You’re free.”

Magnificent caught Ky’s hand. His eyes were haunted as he pulled him close and pressed lips to the soft flesh of Ky’s inner wrist. “He will catch us,” he whispered against his skin. “He will kill you. You are young and look just like a thrall. The master won’t hesitate to destroy you.”

“You’re free.” Ky bit his lower lip, then shook his head in frustration. “I don’t know how else to prove it to you. You have no collar.” Ky’s eyelids slowly drooped with each kiss to his inner arm. He sighed and ran his free hand down Magnificent’s torso, tripping over hard abs and a sharp hipbone.

Did it matter if Magnificent knew he was free when he was actually free? How many caged animals still lived in their cage once the door was opened? After meeting the demons at Tobias’s, Ky knew there was a difference. Anselm had broken his relics in ways Tobias hadn’t had the years to attempt.

Ky gasped when Magnificent pressed up against him and his cock rubbed against his. Ky hooked an arm around Magnificent’s broad shoulder and slid his mouth along his collarbone. The touch of Ky’s lips to his flesh again sparked something in Magnificent, and he wrapped his tail around Ky’s waist and pulled him up his body as he fell back against the sink. Ky moaned when hungry lips crushed his and his mouth was claimed.

Ky was so hard, and he moved with every rock of Magnificent’s hips, wanting to feel more, to feel him. A part of him felt frozen since turning from Magnificent that first time. It was like something broke inside him when he yelled at Magnificent and nothing he did could repair it since. Hands slid down his back and cupped his ass, pulling him tighter to Magnificent’s hard body, and Ky whimpered. He dropped kisses to the flesh before him, seeking out every bruise and cut and licking and sucking it healed. Fuck, he needed more. Ky’s hand drifted lower, and he carefully palmed the hard, flushed dick grinding against his thigh.

Mgnificent threw his head back, his eyes glowing as a soft hiss broke free from between clenched teeth. Ky’s breath came out in heavy pants as he slid his hand over the contoured flesh of Magnificent’s dick. His thumb teased along the bumps on the side of his shaft while his palm caressed the thick underside. Magnificent grunted and thrust into his grip, his tail tight around Ky’s waist to keep him close as he fucked into his hand.

“You feel amazing.” Ky leaned forward and ran his tongue along Magnificent’s chest in wet strokes. “You’re so hot when you’re like this, so fucking perfect.” Precum trickled down and dripped sticky along his fingers. Ky groaned and buried his face against Magnificent’s chest as he stroked more of the clear liquid free. “That’s it. Fuck, I want to make you cum so bad.”

Ky tried to ignore the voice in the back of his head telling him it was wrong. He couldn’t stop, and when he was honest, he didn’t want to stop. He needed Magnificent. Maybe he really was starving because a part of him felt like he was going to die if he actually stopped worshiping the body trembling beneath his touch.

“Wait. I don’t… I can’t think.” Magnificent’s voice was raw with lust as his fingers tangled into Ky’s hair. “You are… I think you’re very important to me. I don’t want you to die. I’m always alone.”

His eyes wide, Ky stilled, his gasps lost in Magnificent’s hot flesh. Fuck. What the fuck? Didn’t he even know who he was? Ky’s hands fell to his sides. He squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to think around the loud pulse thrumming in his ears. This wasn’t right. Fuck, this was seriously messed up.

“Do you sense him anywhere?” Ky asked hollowly. He looked up, and made himself meet Magnificent’s gaze. He was flushed, his eyes glowing, lips parted. His hair, only half brushed, was tangled around one horn, and Ky reached up and untwisted the strands. “You would sense him if you were linked to him. Do you sense Anselm?”

“No,” Magnificent answered after a long moment. “Still, I see him every time I look at you.” His chains clattered when he reached up and cupped Ky’s face. His fingers slid petal smooth over parted lips. “I see him here.”

Ky stared up at him in shock, his silver eyes wide and lips dripping crystal fluid. “Shit.” He swallowed hard and took a step back. Trembles started to shake his body he couldn’t stop. Ky’s eyes glanced to the mirror. It was just his face—the same face he had his entire life—but it wasn’t really his.

“It’s a spell,” Ky bit out. “A trick to hurt me. Damn him, probably to hurt all of you, too. Anselm was a fucking monster and this is just another shitty thing he did to hurt everyone he could.”

Magnificent remained silent, his eyes drinking him in. Ky flinched and backed away. He didn’t know who Magnificent saw in that moment, but the possibilities made him sick inside. Ky grabbed the door handle blindly, his other hand clawing at his bangs to cover his face. “You said it yourself. You sense who I am, taste it.” Ky couldn’t meet his eyes, a part of him half afraid maybe even then Magnificent had sensed only Anselm in him. Fuck.

Ky whirled, wrenched open the door, and stumbled out into the bedroom. He stopped short with a sharp inhale. The air was wrong, charged with something he couldn’t name. Ky moaned when he found Lovely and Feral on the floor. They had only grown more crazed with lust while he was gone. Lovely was fucking Feral, his hips slamming in hard, determined thrusts as he pinned his mate’s body beneath him and his silky hair. Feral’s face was flushed and eyes dazed as he gasped heavily. Ky could see the streams of cum Feral had already released, the hardwood floor slippery with pearly seed beneath the two of them. Feral’s back was bloody with deep, red slashes. Lovely’s claws flexed and pulled a groan and fresh spurt of cum from Feral, right before he ducked his head and pressed lush lips to heal the cuts away.

“Aw, fuck,” Ky whimpered as he grabbed for the door frame to keep from falling. “Fuck.” He was so horny. Ky’s hand found hot, firm flesh, and he whimpered when Magnificent pulled him back against him. Magnificent’s cock nuzzled against the curve of his ass, and Ky clutched at his wrist, trying to get him closer with the awkward grip. He wanted to fuck. He wanted to be fucked so bad, it felt like the world was going to turn black if he didn’t give in.

“I’m not Anselm,” Ky mumbled as Magnificent pushed his short sleeve up and his mouth pressed to his shoulder. “He cursed me. He spelled me to have his face. He’s dead and I’m not…” Ky broke off with a whimper when Magnificent’s claws tore through the collar of his shirt and he ripped down his back. Hot breath and lips quickly followed.

Fuck, it didn’t matter. Ky pulled at the scraps of his shirt, tore them off his arms, and threw the mess on the floor. Lovely looked up from where he was hunched over Feral, and as Ky stared, the catboy’s eyes pulsed an unnatural blue. Ky’s breath froze in his chest and he turned his head to find Magnificent staring back, his eyes glowing as he looked at Lovely. Cum dripped from Feral’s hole when Lovely gave a parting kiss to his shoulder and pulled out. Lovely’s eyes pulsed blue again, and he began to crawl to where Magnificent and Ky were standing.

“No!” Ky pulled out of Magnificent’s grasp and turned, putting himself between him and Lovely. “He’s not a toy. Tell me you know they’re not playthings!”

Ky regretted it before the words were fully out. Magnificent shrank back, his expression full of confusion as his eyes lost their otherworldly glow. Dark feathers swept up, and in moments the Requiem was cocooned in a barrier of wings. Ky stared, at a loss when Magnificent crouched down on the floor, looking nothing more than a big breathing puff of feathers and straggly hair.

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“Justin!” Fox screamed when he felt his friend’s energy disappear. He quickly scrambled over the massive ox who was trying to beat the fuck out of him with his hooves. Fox made sure to slash his claws deep into the animal’s back before he pushed off. He snarled when his tail was caught and wrenched so hard, he saw flashes of light behind his eyes.

His glamors had dropped minutes into the fight and the condescending laughter evoked from seeing him with fluffy ears and tail turned out to be a perfect distraction. These fuckers were used to intimidating and getting everything they wanted without a fight. Shifters at the Academy knew better. It didn’t matter if it was a crazy-ass alpha lion or a sorcerer with impossible power; respect was earned, not given. No one was just going to give away their life.

Fox snarled as he turned back and sank teeth into the ox’s muscular neck while avoiding his deadly horns. He clamped down and tore as best he could with a jaw too weak in his human form even if his teeth were razor sharp. The shifter roared from the pain and bucked his entire massive body. It was like being thrown from the top of a van. Fox tumbled and rolled on the pavement. He recovered as pain stung his palms and hips, and twisted to land as gracefully as possible given the momentum.

Fox’s head pounded from a blow he couldn’t fully remember beyond the blood dripping into his eye. He whined when he found Justin a few feet away, crumpled on the ground in the slush. His jacket was still smoking black fumes from where the spell hit him square in the chest. Justin’s face was impossibly pale and as Fox peered closer, he was consumed with a terrible fear he was dead even though he could hear him breathing.

“Oh, is he done playing? The dumb puppy couldn’t even figure out how to fetch.”

Fox pulled his gaze from Justin’s face to glare. It was the stupid gray fucker.

Malek met his gaze and smirked unapologetically. He crooked his finger tipped with a glowing claw and beckoned him closer. “Come on, little fox. I’ve got things I need to do today.”

Fox held back and his mind raced as he tried to think of his options. There were few. He lifted Justin up under his armpits and straightened. He kept his eyes tight on Malek while he listened to the sounds of Leo fighting the other two. Fox had managed to slash Seth’s eyes before the ox charged at him and none of them seemed to have the ability to heal. If they could pick these freaks off one by one, they might just fucking survive.

Justin was dead weight in his arms and they were too far away from the entrance of the alley to get him to a place free of fighting. Fox knew he couldn’t leave him; these freaks would either finish Justin off like they promised, or steal him away to do shit he didn’t even want to think about. “Justin, I really need you to wake the fuck up,” he growled hoarsely. He tried to keep the anxiety out of his voice as Malek raised an eyebrow at him. Freaking the fuck out wasn’t going to do shit right now. Even if that crazy fucker was staring him down like he was thinking about skinning him and wearing him like a coat.

There was something fucking deranged about Malek and it only made everything feel so much more dire. This guy was going to kill them. Kill them, steal Forest and Raider, and once he got bored with them, come back and hunt down everyone who was at the Academy. No, there was no running from this. If they failed now, they would be failing everyone.

Malek combed a long lock of hair back from where it was wrapped around his shoulder. It was silvery blue-gray streaked with black and white patterns reminiscent of a tabby cat. His glamors had started to fall after a few blows, but only the ones on his hair. It was a sign of his power. Even in the middle of a brawl, he could still keep up his facade of human. “Should I come to you?” he asked when Fox continued to stare at him warily. “Are you out of silly tricks already?”

Fox bared his teeth and clutched Justin closer to his chest. “What’s the matter, kitty kitty? Did your shifter pack kick you out for being an asshole?”

Malek inhaled sharply the same moment a strange pulse of red light lit around him for a moment. “I believe we have established my superiority to you lowly animal hybrids. But if you insist, you can drop your little werewolf shield and fight me like the beast you are.”

There was no way Fox was going to leave Justin undefended. “I think you’re full of shit. You’re a shifter just like us and you’re too pussy to admit it. Literally, he said with a smirk that didn't reach his eyes. "You’re a cat. A cute little kitty cat who’s too afraid to show it.” Fox narrowed his eyes as red light again flashed for a moment on Malek’s skin. “Only a cat shifter would get sucked into Forest’s heat. You’re just like that stupid ox; a traitor to your kind. Is that why you want to see us dead? So you won’t have to face all the shifters like you whose lives you’ve fucked up?”

“We are nothing alike!” The light pulsed again, and Malek’s expression twisted into something that could only be described as tormented. He twitched violently and hunched forward as a vicious hiss fell from his lips. His clawed hands suddenly reached for his chest and tore at his flesh like he was trying to rip something free.

Fox licked one of his fangs and grinned savagely at the display. He knew this game; he played a tame version of it with Vince all the time. It didn’t matter how strong, how powerful, how fucking untouchable someone seemed. If you could find their weakness, you could break them from the inside out. Grown men became powerless children who could only rage and scream in frustration. You didn’t have to bust through a spell when you could just annoy the fuck out of a sorcerer until he couldn’t focus enough to cast.

Fox shifted Justin in his arms and touched his palms together. For a moment he was back in Master Howld’s class with Theodore’s ever watching glare observing as he raised his power up. He battled with his focus all the damn time. The sky could collapse around him and it wouldn’t be able to shake him. Well, just so long as Vincent wasn’t there to distract the fuck out of him.

Vincent might just be his personal weakness.

Before Malek could regain his composure, Fox focused his power and shot it at the hissing man. It exploded feet away when Fox’s power hit an unseen barrier. “Fuck!” Fox ducked and turned so his body would shield Justin as debris rained down in a shower of sparks and broken wooden pallets.

Fox peeked over his shoulder and groaned in dismay when he found Malek still pulsing with weird red and blue light and completely unaffected by the blast. They were so fucked. He turned back to Justin and his breath hitched when he watched a bruise on the werewolf’s cheek suddenly heal before his eyes. It would have filled him with hope if Justin was also conscious. Fox had no idea what the spell did to him and Justin’s healing abilities might not be quick enough.

Malek gave a final angry hiss. Blood streamed down his chest, not from Fox’s explosion but from the wounds he inflicted on himself. There was something broken in the man, best seen by the way his face kept twitching like he was battling something no one else could see.

“I can make this quick for you. Nearly painless.” Malek fixed his eyes on Fox, which were now a wild looking violet with narrow, sharp pupils. “I’ll slice that delicate neck of yours with my claws and you won’t have to wonder just what will happen to your pretty little kitten.”

Fox growled warningly. When he stood, he left Justin on the ground so he could have his hands free. “You’re fucking sick, man. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Wrong? Only the weak get angry at the strong.” Malek tilted his head, his grin wide and full of vicious teeth. With a wave of his hand, his glamors unwound from his body. Fox felt the animal inside him bristle at the sight of the gray man unmasked. No, a shifter Malek was not.

He was humanoid, towered tall, and was covered from head to toe in a fine, soft down of gray fur. Horns sprouted from his head and twisted back elegantly. They were the same blue-gray of his fur, as were his feathery gray wings patterned with white striations. His hair draped like a waterfall down his back to tickle at his ankles. His tail was furry and long with rings of black to pattern the end. When Fox followed down, he found his shoes were just as fake. Malek was barefoot, his fur covered feet shaped strangely. His heel held some sort of extra claw and his arch was exaggerated. On the soles of his feet and hands were dark pads, and where his fingernails should be were glowing blades of power.

He was still as gray as before but now instead of one tone, it was clear he was many shades. His only color came from the crazed derangement of his periwinkle eyes and the blue glow on his skin. Silver flashed from the sparkles of piercings hidden in his fur that dotted his eyebrow, lower lip and the edges of his long, elf-like ears. Black patterned Malek’s fur in tabby stripes on his arms, back and face while something else glowed in jagged rune symbols on his skin. They were the source of the light pulses and they were flickering even now as they turned from blue to red to blue again.

Fox swallowed hard when he realized the marks were cut into Malek’s flesh. His fur was burned away to reveal the glow and the flesh scarred to keep from growing back. On his chest was the largest rune, this one currently dripping in blood from the man’s claws.

It was then, as Fox stared at the mutilation of this demon’s body in precise, ritualistic fashion he remembered Malek’s promise. He would only show him his true form right before he killed him.

Fox was not immune to fear, he was discovering. There was something primal in the dark recesses of his brain where his fox dwelt that recognized this Malek, recognized a predator of predators.

The want to flee was nearly as strong as the need to protect his pack. Fox ignored the shaking in his knees and held his ground. At his feet, Justin was laid out like some pale sacrifice. His wounds were slowly disappearing with each minute but he still showed no signs of waking. There was no way he would abandon him.

“You can’t expect to win against me.” Malek crouched forward. He was elegant, jagged angles with his wings outstretched and hair draped around him. He might have been some cat god with his crown of horns and beautiful face. His body was lithe, strong, and full of anticipation of the kill. When he spoke, his voice was smoky, seduction and death combined. “You’re just some weak, human halfbreed with enough magic to turn into your dumb, fuzzy form. I’m from a realm of pure magic. I bleed it. I sweat it. I can drain it from you with one little kiss if my master asks it of me. Run before you die, little fox.”

There was a blur of gold. “Leo, no!” Fox cried out when the lion leaped on top of Malek and knocked him to the ground in a spray of gray feathers. For a wild moment, Fox had the hope Leo might win. The giant lion had more weight, more size and pure bulk compared to the slender demon. The thought evaporated when the snarling battle on the ground suddenly exploded outward in a glow of magic and Leo was thrown head over paws. He hit the wall with a sickening thump of breaking bones and dull flesh.

Fuck. Fox’s pulse raced as Malek shook himself off. The demon smeared the copious blood flowing from his torn throat down his chest and stained his fur crimson. Fox could only hope Raider had gotten Forest the fuck away. Dying would be better than whatever these sick freaks wanted with his friends. He was certain.

Malek straightened and licked his blood coated claws. His tail whipped about his legs in agitation as he hissed at where Leo was still breathing. Fox wasn’t sure how long that would last; he had glimpsed raw bone where claws raked deep into Leo’s tawny fur. Malek’s eyes started to glow an unnatural light as he built his power up. The ox shifter, back in human form, rose to his feet like a puppet along with the sorcerer. They were both wounded and bleeding heavily, but the message was clear. Malek was strong enough for all of them. He might not be able to heal but he could just as nearly raise the dead. It was three against Fox and there were no null-collars or masters to keep someone from dealing a killing blow.

Fox always knew he’d die by a sorcerer’s hand just like his grandfather. He just kind of assumed it would be Vince’s.

He immediately began to focus his own power. It would never be enough, not against this fucked up cat demon, but he had to try. He stepped over Justin and angled himself so Leo was behind him as well. Fox was starting to feel his head wound; it was a nauseas rocking in his stomach that moved in a disturbing wave of heat through every inch of him. As his sight blurred for an instant, a thought struck him.

Vincent had taught him a trick, hadn’t he? Elemental magic. The alley was dim, the sunlight obstructed by clouds. There had to be moonshadow all around him. If he could focus enough on the stronger elemental power, he might be able to collapse the wall and slow these fuckers down.

Malek’s eyes glowed pure malevolence as Fox focused and pulled at the shadows in the alley. Fox reached out to Justin and Leo and twisted and flattened the moonshadow to cover their fallen forms. The element wrapped around them like a mirror. First it reflected the surroundings of the alley and grime, and then erased them from the space entirely. When Fox opened his eyes he found a spark of something new in the demon’s eyes.

“You might be worth keeping after all.” Malek tilted his head and flared his nostrils but Justin and Leo’s scent was gone from the area. “An interesting trick, fox. You might be of worth after all.”

Fox tried not to flinch at the thought of being in Forest’s place. “Thanks, but I’d rather be dead than part of whatever the fuck it is you’re doing. Shifters are big fans of being free.”

Malek’s gaze snapped back to his, and his runes pulsed with red power. The forms of Seth and Lawrence trembled and swayed as the demon’s face again spasmed. Fox had no idea what the fuck was wrong with the guy, but he had not problem using whatever advantage he could steal. While Malek hissed to himself, Fox twisted shadows into the bricks behind the three. As he did, he whispered under his breath. The words made it way easier to focus his intent and keep his power from exploding out.

There was a clattering of shoes on pavement from the direction of the alley behind him. “Cease!”

Fox didn’t dare move as Vincent’s voice rang out like thunder. The moonshadow crackled around him as it hid Justin and Leo, and he continued to weave all three of the enemies’ shadows into the bricks behind them. He kept his eyes fixed on Malek and tried not to feel the terror bubbling inside him at the thought of losing Vincent in this battle too.

Malek flicked a disinterested glance toward the mouth of the alley. His runes still glowed red but it didn’t stop him from raising his hand and his power with it. Fox felt the pulse as the air parted to the blow. He didn’t bother to shield himself, too focused on finishing his spell. He was thrown back by the force of Malek’s power even as the wall collapsed in a thundering waterfall of brick and mortar.

Fox had a disorienting moment of weightlessness and vertigo and then suddenly he stopped. He glanced down to find his feet hovering off the ground.

Dorian stepped up and pulled him down to the pavement. “What the hell is going on?”

It was hard to hear. Fox realized blearily his ears were shredded and blood was pooling into the openings. “They want to steal Forest,” he gritted out as pain began to register throughout his body. It was like every inch of him was flayed skin and bruised muscle. He did his best to ignore the burning throb and his heart raced as he turned back to the carnage. Justin and Leo were still on the ground, the two exposed and vulnerable with the moonshadow stripped. Fox’s camouflage had failed when Malek’s spell hit him.

Dorian’s gaze followed to where Fox was looking. With a flick of his finger Justin slid across the pavement to end up at their feet. Leo’s large, broken lion form swiftly followed in a streak of sickening blood. Dorian crouched and quickly checked for a pulse. He sighed in relief when Leo rumbled in weak protest.

Fox was too busy staring at Malek to feel any relief for the current condition of his pack. The demon was covered in dust from the fallen wall but had otherwise avoided it. The other two were buried in the heavy rubble. Fox had no idea if Dorian and Vincent could possible even the odds against such a monster and he was afraid of the consequences if they couldn’t.

“We ran by Forest and Raider when we got here. They’re fine.” Dorian’s eyes were also fixed on Malek, his expression void of emotion. “We felt you all the way in Orphic District.”

Fox was having a really hard time focusing. “You need to run. All of you. These fuckers are planning to kill us to get Forest. They want dragons,” he spat out as the rage hit him at the very idea. “They’re slavers.”

Vincent cursed so softly, Fox was certain he imagined it. He jumped when the bricks suddenly gave a shudder. Fox looked to Malek, certain he was going to throw the wall at them and uncover his friends at the same time. But Malek was pushed back along with the unconscious bodies of Seth and Lawrence. The brick wall raised back up in a wave of rubble and slammed with perfect precision around them. In an instant it molded and cuffed to their every wrist and ankle.

Vincent stepped forward to inspect the strength of the bonds. Malek hissed and the brick crumbled in a pulse of blue light around him. He slashed through the magic pushing him back and leaped forward to rake his glowing claws down Vincent’s face and upper torso.

Malek didn’t even get close. Vincent’s mouth moved impossibly fast as he spoke flashes of Latin. Spikes appeared out of the air and surrounded him in a shield. Malek tried to maneuver around them and twisted to avoid the points to reach Vincent’s flesh. The demon’s shoulder was caught on a spike and crimson blood billowed in the air.

Malek didn’t flinch. He surged forward to reach through Vincent’s guard to claw his eyes. Stone faced, Vincent spoke three clipped words and the spikes grew into thick spears and drove forward into the tall demon. Malek countered by throwing his hands up and pushing back with pure will. He screamed as one of the spears got past his defense and drove into the flesh of his side in a spray of blood.

“He’s going to kill him,” Fox whispered the same moment the realization struck. He watched as Vincent moved forward a step, and then another and Malek was pushed back by his power. The demon continued to desperately guard against the razor sharp spears intent on slashing him to bloody shreds of flesh.

“Vincent.” Dorian called. His gaze moved around the area and he threw extra bonds on the two men stuck on the brick wall as he approached. Vincent ignored him. His lips moved in a perfect, precise rhythm to cast another complicated spell. Behind Malek the concrete wall and boarded up windows shimmered and morphed. Jagged, vicious spikes grew and hardened until they looked as smooth and sharp as diamond.

“Damn it—Vincent!” Dorian yelled and shot a spark of magic at Vincent from the side, only to have one of the floating spears block it with ease. “Fuck. Get it the fuck together, Frost! You can’t go killing people on the damn fucking street!”

Malek struggled uselessly. He hissed and panted for breath while he fought against Vincent’s power. He dug his clawed feet into the pavement as he tried to prevent being pushed into the deadly spikes behind him. “Damn you, I will not die like this! Not to a human!”

“Die, sorcerer’s puppet.” Vincent’s voice was rough and alien as he raised his arms and pushed another force of power to uproot the demon and slam him back. With a growl, Dorian surged forward and slugged Vincent across the face.

Vincent fell silent, his head turned from the blow. His hands and spell remained steady. Malek was trapped less than an inch from the spikes. Each gasping breath the demon took was a threat to his life as it brought his body close to the points.

Vincent turned his glare slowly to Dorian as blood trickled down his lip. Dorian tried not to flinch under the pure malevolence in his eyes. This was his first time seeing Vincent fight and it was creepy as fuck.

“You can’t just fucking kill them, Frost.” Dorian tried again even though he wasn’t sure Vincent was reachable like this. “Bind the fucker. Let’s find out who the fuck they work for. If they’ve done this to other shifters and if we can rescue them.”

Vincent’s nostril’s flared as he looked back to the struggling Malek. “The only good thing to do with these kinds of monsters is kill them. You of all people should know that.”

“Should I?” Anger sparked in Dorian’s eyes. “Would you kill Christopher? Dante?”

Vincent blinked and confusion crossed his features. “Why would I…?”

“Because they’re demons!” Dorian threw up his hands in frustration. “I’m part demon, you fucktard. Are you going to kill me because you think I’m a monster just because of my blood?”

Vincent’s brows furrowed for a moment. He looked away from Dorian with a huff and his eyes fell on the streak of red on Malek’s ear. It was bleeding from where a spike caught the flesh. “It’s not demons I aim to kill. This one just happens to be a demon.”

“What? Damn it, don’t fucking kill him! You can see the markings!” Dorian’s gaze jumped from Malek to Vincent and without another word, he pushed his hands forward. Sparks jumped from his fingers as he built a pressure of magic to push Vincent away.

“Stop interfering!” Vincent snarled as he fought the new force. “His power feeds his master. I will kill him and strike the sorcerer controlling him.”

Dorian’s power might come from an unlimited source but he wasn’t able to safely let it out without fear of obliterating everyone. It was far too dangerous in such a highly populated city and Vincent had no problem exploiting this knowledge. He growled when Dorian tried to muscle him back. At Dorian’s gasp, Vincent stole the life force from his breath and turned it against him.

In a flash, Dorian was propelled away. He stumbled back and nearly tripped as he regained his balance. Before him a solid wall of frozen blades rose up and surrounded him as Vincent rattled off a dozen words of power. Dorian immediately blasted at the containing wall, but all it did was smooth where he struck, the material still inches thick.

“Fucker! That’s not reason enough to take a fucking life!” Dorian shouted as he slammed his fists down on the wall. “He’s bound to a master, Vincent! You know how these creatures are; they can’t take a fucking piss without being ordered. He’s covered in the binding runes that make him a slave!”