Otherwise, things were moving along quite splendidly. Maybe not as quickly as she would've liked, but then Rome didn’t come crashing to the ground in a day, did it? The healers no longer had the protections of the males, though they were still with the Fae, and were heading toward the Veil to cross into the Fae realm. She wasn’t worried about them making it through – she had a surprise for them.
Mona smiled to herself. Yes, everything was going according to plan, and soon, very soon, she would be the most powerful of the supernaturals. None would stand against her and all would fall.
“It’s dark and cold. I can hear him. He’s calling out to me, he’s telling me over and over how sorry he is. Why is he sorry? What has he done? I’m here, I tell him. I’m here. He’s weeping and the anguish I feel through our bond is crushing me. I can’t breathe; I can’t move. Why can’t I move? Fane, I’m here. Please, Fane, I hear you. He thinks I’m dead. Why does he think I’m dead?” ~ Jacque
The trees towered over them as they trekked through the Carpathian Mountains. Perizada kept an unforgiving pace. Night turned into day and yet the skies did not lighten. Clouds rolled in ominously above them and thunder crashed. The wind cut across their skin like a knife.
“This tastes of black magic,” Rachel ground out through her teeth.
“Mona has been busy in the mountains,” Peri agreed.
A sense of dread settled over them and as the day dragged on, Sally found herself growing more and more depressed. The despair seemed to be reaching into her soul and she couldn’t fight it off.
“I feel it too.” Jen reached out and took Sally’s hand.
“It’s Costin,” Sally whispered. “Something is very wrong.”
Jen reached out for Decebel through their bond. She could feel him, feel his loss, his fear – his suffering. She longed to tell him she was alright, that their baby was alright, but the more she pushed on their bond the harder it was to reach him.
Crina stumbled as she walked and Elle too seemed to struggle under the weight of their shared desolation.
Peri finally came to a stop, hours later, before two huge trees that stood several feet apart. Their branches hung over the space between them, creating a canopy.
Just as she stepped forward and raised her arms to open the veil, Jacque sat up. Her eyes were open, but they were empty. Sally and Jen stepped toward her but Peri held up a hand to stop them.
“Perizada of the Fae.” Jacque’s voice came out in a raspy whisper, low and distorted, causing them to take a step back in surprise. “Alina Lupei, mate to Vasile, Alpha of the Romanian Pack. Jennifer Anghelesco, mate to Decebel, Alpha of the Serbian pack. Healer Sally Morgan, mate to Costin, Beta of the Serbian pack. Crina, mate to Adam of the Fae, member of the Romanian pack. Rachel, mate to Gavril, Beta of the Romanian pack. Elle of the Fae, mate to Sorin, Third in the Romanian pack. Cynthia Steele of the Romanian pack.” There was a frightening pause – a demon-like croak forced itself out of Jacque's mouth.
“I have named you all – I have named you and so I bind you.”
“Cover your ears! NOW!” Peri yelled as she threw up her hands and began to chant:
“Trees of the forest, air on the wind,
Your help now I ask you to lend.
Grant your power into my care,
Cover these children, their burden you bare.”
Meanwhile, the group did as Peri told them, slapping their hands over their ears though they weren’t sure why.
The evil voice coming out of Jacque’s body continued speaking.
“I bind you to this realm, you cannot pass through.
I bind you to this realm, caught if I named you.
Cross through the Veil, if you dare,
Cross through the Veil, see how you fare.
I bind you now with magic black as night,
I bind you now, forever in my sight.”
The air around them grew cold and the wind continued to pick up speed. Jacque’s hair whipped around her face, her eye glowed an eerie shade of green as she looked upon the group.
An ear-piercing scream escaped her lungs just before she collapsed.
The silence was deafening for a moment. Peri lowered her arms and looked at the women.
Sally and Jen rushed over to Jacque’s limp form and checked to see that she was still breathing.
“Obviously this was the work of that bitch – I mean, witch. Desdemona,” Jen growled. “But that last scream, that sounded like Jacque.”
Peri nodded. “She was fighting it. She pushed Mona out.”
Sally wiped a tear away. “That’s our girl,” she sniffed, “a fighter.”
Rachel approached the two trees that Peri had indicated as where the Veil was supposed to be. She reached out her hand, but the Fae stopped her.
“No, healer,” she told her somberly. “If we cross, we die. She had indeed bound us to this realm. I can feel it.”
“What does that mean?” Sally asked, trying to keep the tremble from her voice.
Peri stepped back from the Veil and observed their group. The fear and weariness was written in their tear-streaked faces, the fall of their shoulders, and the broken look in their eyes.
But she had no good news for them.
“It means that for the moment, we are stuck.”
The group grew still at her words. After a minute of listening to the wind and the defeated silence of the women, Jen stood up. She narrowed her eyes and let out a low grumble.
“I guess it’s a good thing that well and truly screwed is a place I’m familiar with.”
The group snorted out exhausted laughter; Jen took it.
“Pull your shoulders back and put your heads up. She may have won this battle, but the war is just beginning. And just so you know, this is the only battle she will win. I’m tired, my mate is in hell, I’m pregnant, and some disembodied entities have decided they want my baby.” Jen shook her head menacingly. “Oh, they've all messed with the wrong bitch.”
Her eyes glowed brightly as she looked at Alina. “You ready, Alpha?”
Alina nodded, determination steeling her eyes.
Now Jen looked at Sally. “What about you, healer?”
Sally stood, brushed off her pants, and pulled her chin up high. “I’m ready. I want my mate back.”