Terrie exhaled and began the spell. “Sanguis venande invocavite. Sanguinem autem ejus de venator defendat. Sanguis enim venator covina praesidio!”
Terrie felt a tingling sensation all over her body, which soon dissipated. She looked at Eli and nodded. Eli lifted the ceremonial dagger off the table, proceeded to slice open the palm of his right hand, and did the same to Matt’s left palm. Elias handed the knife to Terrie, and she cut open both of her palms. Terrie stood between the two boys, and they joined hands. All three chanted the words to the bonding spell in unison. A wave of energy spread outward from the circle. Terrie’s jaw dropped. “Wow. It’s not that I can read your minds, but I can feel both of you in the back of my head. It’s an image of what you are feeling. It’s so clear that I can tell which of you is which.” She looked at Matt. “Stop worrying about everything. We’re going to figure this out.”
Eli grinned. “That’s what I’ve been telling him.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “If it’s always going to be two against one, I may back out of this… whatever we call this relationship.”
“I believe the trendy name is throuple.” Nate quipped. “But I think you guys are beyond labels once you add in the supernatural connection.”
“I’ve never liked labels, even when I thought I was straight,” Matt said.
“Society always wants to label everything. You guys just ignore all the bull and keep being who you are. All three of you are very special to me.” Brad said.
Elias quirked an eyebrow. “You’ve changed, Bradley, in good ways. I approve of the more mature and wiser Bradley 2.0.”
Brad blushed. “I’d like to think that I was changing on my own, but all of this,” Brad motioned around them. “Was bound to change us all.”
Eli shrugged. “Point taken, but some people would have been changed for the worse. You have changed for the better. Nathan is a lucky guy.”
“So is Matt.” Brad grinned.
Eli smiled. “Ok, Terrie, what’s next?”
“We go to Lilly’s cabin,” Terrie said to Elias. “While Matt, Brad, and Nate finish preparing the curse breaker and wolf charm spells.”
Eli handed a spell book to Matt. “The two pages are marked. Gather and separate the ingredients. Don’t mix anything until I get back. I should be gone less than an hour if all goes well.”
Matt took the book and turned toward Brad and Nate. “Ok, boys, let’s get to work.”
Sky kicked at the gravel path as he walked next to David. “There was nothing out of the ordinary at either of those houses. Are we wasting our time checking out the third one?” Then, Sky’s nostrils flared as if on cue, and his eyes opened wide. “Do you smell that?” He nearly growled.
“I don’t smell… hey! Slow down! Hey!” David yelled as Sky was running and pulling David along behind him. David managed to pull Sky to a stop before he entered the backyard of the house they were approaching. When Sky turned to face David, David’s eyes went wide. “Skylar! You need to calm down. Talk to me. What do you smell? What are you feeling right now?”
“What am I feeling? I’m feeling angry and powerful. Can’t you smell that? I smell everything, but from that house, I smell wolf and blood and fear and death.”
“Babe, look at your hands.”
“What the hell? Why do I have claws?”
“You also have fangs. You need to calm down and get yourself under control. Elias said that you might be able to change at will even in daylight because you aren’t cursed. At will is the key. Right now, your emotions are in charge. Take control of your mind and body, Sky.”
Skylar knelt and bowed his head, then took deep, calming breaths. He watched in amazement as his claws retracted. Sky felt his teeth and found the fangs were gone. He looked up at his boyfriend. “That was intense. When we are somewhere safe, I will try and do that on purpose.”
“You should also try preventing the change tonight. If we can control when we change and remember what we do as wolves, we might be able to get a handle on this.”
“Good idea.” Sky nodded toward the cabin. “We know where he lives. What should we do? Should we try and take him down right now or proceed with Eli’s plan?”
“Let’s go back and consult with Elias. We don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m still cursed, so I can’t change in daylight. You don’t have control of what you can do. If he can do what you do but controls it, we may fight against a werewolf while we’re human. There are too many unknowns. Let Eli trap this guy with magic, and then we can decide how to deal with him from there.”
“Ok. Let’s go. Hopefully, Elias has the spells ready to break your curse and trap this guy. We still have tons to do today, and it is already afternoon.” With one last look at the cabin in the woods, the two boys turned and started walking quickly toward the Carrier house.
Elias and Terrie stopped inside the tree line and looked down the hillside at Lilly Monroe’s house. “Are you sure Lilly is with your dad at the police station?” Eli asked for the sixth time.
“Yes, Eli. I even texted my dad again just to check. She is there.”
Eli stepped into the open and raised his arms. “Quae latebat claustra reveletur. Nune ponite insidias quae volebat. Patere nos omnia pericula sine limite.”
The air between them and the house shimmered with light, and there was a strong sulfur smell. Then, the light and the odor vanished. Terrie looked quizzically at Elias. “Did it work? What exactly did you say?”
Elias shrugged. “I hope it worked. A loose English translation would be ‘Barriers which were hidden now be revealed. Traps that were set now be sprung. Let the path before us be clear of all dangers.’”
Terrie nodded. “I like the wording. I guess we proceed cautiously and find out if it worked.”
“I wish I could say there’s a way to know for sure, but if there is, I haven’t learned it. If I knew what she did, I could have a better plan, but we don’t know, so proceed with extreme caution.” Eli said as the two started walking toward the house.
They got to the front porch unharmed and without setting off any alarms, at least none they knew. Eli reached for the doorknob, but Terrie grabbed his wrist and stopped him. “I think it would be safer for me to go in alone.” She said. “You got me this far, but we already know that she had one barrier in place inside that only a hunter could pass through. Who knows what else she’s done?”
“Isn’t that why you asked me to come? To help you get through the barriers?”
“Outside the house, yes. When I was with Lilly, she kept me close to her while we were outside and let me roam free once we entered the house. I suspect there may be anti-witch traps inside. I do, however, have one more task for you.”
Eli cocked his head to one side. “How else can I assist?”
Terrie pointed to the right of the door. “I can pick locks and walk past magic barriers, but I don’t think I can fool that. She used her thumbprint and a retina scan to unlock the house.”
“Neither can I,” Eli mumbled as he knelt in front of the keypad. “Did she also use the keypad?”
“Yes. Is there anything you can do?”
“I’m no hacker. I can get you inside the house using magic. Still, if she has cast anti-magic spells to secure her alarm system, I can’t guarantee you’ll get in unannounced.”
“Do it. Get me in the house. After I’m inside, go home. It’s already well past noon, so the boys should be back at your house. I can finish this on my own. You are needed there to cast your spells before moonrise.”
“I hate leaving you here, but you’re right.” Eli shook his head. “Matt will kill me when I get home without you, but he’ll understand.”
“Do your thing, magic man.” Terrie grinned.
Elias stood up. “Averte virtutem.” The keypad and the retina scanner shut down. “Aperi ianuam.” The front door swung open. “Enter at your own risk.” Elias huffed out a laugh.
“Get home. The boys need you more than I do.” Terrie said.
“As long as Matt doesn’t kill me.” Eli grinned, then turned, leaving Terrie alone as she stepped cautiously into the house.
Elias saw David and Skylar enter his house as he crossed the lawn toward the kitchen door. Eli walked into the house and was met by the pungent aroma of fresh-cut herbs. He smiled as Matt walked toward him, but then the other boy stopped in his tracks and scowled.
“Where’s Terrie?” Matt asked.
Eli sighed. “She’s still at Lilly’s house. There was no way I could get in, so she sent me back here to do the curse breaker spell and prepare the werewolf charms.”
“You promised that you’d keep her safe, Eli.” Matt frowned.
“I did everything I could, Matt. I got her past all the barriers and traps in the yard and disabled the door alarms. When the front door swung open, she insisted I come back here and do what needs to be done.”
“We’d sense if she was in danger, right?”
“I think we would. I’ve never done this before, Matt. I’m learning on the fly. We don’t have time for proper training. Everything is happening too fast.”
“I understand.” Matt wrapped his arms around Elias. “I think I have everything ready for you, babe.”
Elias looked deeply into Matt’s blue eyes. “I wouldn’t have left her if I thought she was in danger, Matt.”
Matt leaned in, and their lips met in a tender kiss. “I know.”
A voice from behind them startled the two boys. “Before you two start making out, can we uncurse my boyfriend? Uh, wait, is uncurse a word?”
Elias and Matt stepped apart, and Eli looked over at Skylar. “We weren’t making out, and yes, uncurse is a word. Also, yes, we can start the process of uncursing David. Let me gather everything, and you and David meet me in the dining room.”
Matt helped Eli carry all the herbs and potions, except for the wolfsbane, into the dining room. Matt spread all the items on the table, looked at Eli, and smirked. “Does David have to get naked like I did, or was that a special stipulation for me only?”
David’s eyes went wide. “Wait, what? Naked? What exactly is going to happen?”
“We will talk all that out before we begin the spell, and, no, you don’t have to be naked. The spell will be drastically different from the one I did on Matt. The curse is affecting you in a much different way than it was affecting your brother.” Eli said.
Sky leaned forward. “What about the charms and traps we have planned for the grey wolf? We are ninety-nine percent sure we know who he is and where he lives if that will help.”
I’ve picked out an area that I want to lure him to. It will definitely help to know where he lives, but we still don’t know if he transforms at his house. I can cast multiple charm spells near the home and in the areas where he has been most active. Once the spells are in place, I’ll explain what I need everyone to do. Hopefully, by the end of today, David will no longer be cursed, and the grey wolf will be in the sheriff’s custody.” Eli said.
“Will a regular jail hold a werewolf? Do we want the world to find out that werewolves exist? Wouldn’t that put all of us in danger?” Sky asked.
“I haven’t solved those problems yet. I’m not sure I can murder a living being despite this person’s actions as a werewolf. The sheriff knows everything. I hope he has his own ideas on handling the grey wolf.” Elias said.
David shrugged. “One step at a time. What do we need to do for the curse breaker spell?”
Eli took a deep breath. “Brad, take Nate and Devon into the kitchen. You guys cut the wolfsbane exactly like I showed you. Sky, you can stay here, but do not touch David while I do the spell, even if it looks like he’s in distress. I’m not sure what would happen. Ok?”
“Got it. I’ll be here if you need me, but I won’t interfere unless you give the go-ahead.” Sky said.
Elias nodded. “Matt, sit across from your brother. I’ve written the spell down. Repeat it with me. You might feel tired once we begin. That will be from me drawing power from you. We talked about that. I need your strength, Matt. I can’t do this without you.” Elias looked back at David. “As far as the spell itself, I’ve set up these bowls of herbs.” He lit three of the bowls on fire. “These will burn like incense.” Eli handed a coffee mug to David. “Drink this.”
David made a face. “I hope this doesn’t taste as bad as it smells!”
Elias chuckled and set a second mug on the table next to the first one. “This one smells even worse.”
“This better work.” David frowned.
“I’ve had good results so far.” Eli shrugged. “Are we ready to start?” They all nodded. “The closest English translation to this spell is as follows: Dark magic release. Werewolf is strong. Nature magic is cleansed. Let this cursed wolf be free. The wolf shall be free. The curse shall be broken. This I command.” Elias looked at Matt. “Let’s begin.”
Elias and Matt started chanting in unison. “Tenebris magicaeest abiit. Versepellem volebit. Mundandus magicae naturae. Et lupus maledictam esse liberum. Lupus ad liberum erit. Maledictionem conteratur. Lubeo fiet.”
Matt slumped forward, and David’s body went rigid and then convulsed. Elias took one of Matt’s hands and placed his other hand on David’s forehead. Eli repeated the spell. The bodies of both Montana boys shook, then a dark cloudy mist rose out of David’s body. The cloud grew and swirled around the room.
Elias pointed at the swirling cloud and shouted, “Dispello!” And then he collapsed onto the floor.
Sky leaped to his feet and rushed to Eli’s side. Sky frantically looked from Elias to David to Matt. All three boys were unconscious. “Devon! Brad! Nate! I need you in here!”
“What happened?” Brad asked.
“After Eli and Matt did the spell, a black mist rose out of David, and then they all collapsed.” Sky said. “One of you, get some cold, wet facecloths from the kitchen.” Sky pulled Elias to his feet and set him in one of the chairs. Devon brought the wet cloths and placed them gently on the three unconscious boys’ foreheads. In a few minutes, all three began to wake up.
“That was intense. Did it work?” Matt asked.
David leaned against Sky. “I felt weird for a while. When you guys were chanting, my body felt tingly. Then it felt like my insides were being ripped through the pores of my skin. Finally, I felt exhausted, and I passed out.”
Sky wrapped an arm around David’s waist. “A freaky black cloud rose out of your skin and eyes. I’m not surprised by how you describe the feeling, babe. I’d like to say that it was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen, but we’re werewolves, so I don’t know. Par for the course, I guess?”
Elias still held his head in his hands but finally spoke. “I think it worked. We’ll know for sure after you change tonight, or rather after you change back in the morning and tell us if anything was different.”
“Can you tell anything from my aura?” David asked.
“Good idea. I should have thought of that.” Eli said. “Aurae apparuistis.” Eli stared intently at David, then at Sky, then back at David. “It does look different than it did before. Your aura is now yellow, silver, and blue. The black and grey that were clouding it are gone. I think the curse has been removed.”
Matt moved around the table and squeezed in next to Elias. “You’re doing awesome with all these spells, babe. What do we do next?”
“Next, we set the traps for the killer wolf,” Eli said as he stood up and walked toward the kitchen.
Terrie made her way to the basement of the hunter’s cabin without tripping any traps or setting off any alarms., at least as far as she knew. She decided it would be best to avoid the bookshelves where she encountered the barrier last time. Who knows if that would alert Lilly to her presence? Books weren’t what Terrie was looking for this time around. She passed by the cabinet with the wooden stakes and other anti-vampire weapons. Terrie bypassed the charms to protect against witches and warlocks. Finally, she found what she was looking for.
Terrie examined the glass case in front of her. There was no way for her to be sure if there were any magical alarms on it, but now that she was this close, there was no way she would leave without the silver sword. Terrie took the sword out of the case. She was surprised by how light it felt in her hand. She prayed that it would have enough weight for the task she planned for this sword. With her prize in hand, Terrie opened her backpack and started filling it with an assortment of necklaces, rings, and medallions from other tables and glass cases in the room. Terrie focused on the items she believed were most important to werewolves and witches. This may be her only chance to pillage the hunter’s cabin, so she wanted as much as she could carry.
Terrie heard a noise from the room above, footsteps. She went to the top of the staircase and listened until the footsteps faded. Whoever was there ascended the stairs to the second floor. Lilly must have come home. Terrie cursed herself for taking too long in the basement. She opened the basement door and stepped into the kitchen as quietly as possible. Terrie stealthily made her way to the front door.
Taking a chance that the alarm was off, Terrie exited the house and broke into a run. When Terrie reached the tree line, she heard shouting. Terrie turned and saw Lilly standing on the front porch. Terrie turned, ran off into the trees, and didn’t stop until she was back at Carrier House.
Matt stood on top of a small hill and surveyed the scene around him. Elias picked the best place to fight the grey wolf. Old Hickory Lane was the only road in sight. The road came up the hill’s south side, crossed the clearing, and disappeared into the trees to the north. The other significant feature was the bike path that crossed Old Hickory Lane from east to west. The bike path led into Roxbury Park, traveling east, and ran past the house that belonged to Christopher Parker, the grey werewolf.
After David and Sky identified the house, finding information on the homeowner didn’t take much research. Matt compiled all their research and composed a draft of an email that he would send to Sheriff Hanson just before moonrise. After he sent the email, Matt would text the sheriff to ensure the email was received and read. The sheriff would be informed of not just Parker’s information but also of the plans to capture the grey wolf. Hopefully, Sheriff Hanson would devise a plan to keep Christopher Parker, and his wolf locked up. The boys, so far, had not come up with any ideas.
Matt looked at Elias. “The charms have been placed, and I’ve memorized the spells that we might need. I have to say that I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. We are intentionally trying to lure a murderous werewolf to us. We plan to trap it using spells that we haven’t even been able to test to see if they work correctly.”
Eli took both of Matt’s hands in his. “Those are all valid points. I’m scared, too. Everything that we’ve done so far has worked perfectly. I’m confident we can continue that streak.”
Devon shrugged. “Not to be the Devil’s Advocate, but one could say that because everything has worked perfectly so far, your luck is due to run out.”
“Elias isn’t relying on luck, Devon. Look at what he’s accomplished with Matt and David. Have faith, little brother. The grey wolf is going down.” Sky interjected.
“The moon will start to rise in less than an hour. I can already feel its power. Do you want me and Skylar to stay here or go to the warehouse, Eli? You might need us if you can’t contain Parker, but we still don’t know how much we will be able to control our wolves. We might be a help, or we might add to the chaos.” David said.
“I want you both here in case our spells fail. We need to take the chance that you will have at least as much control as Sky did last night.” Elias said.
“I agree with Eli. I remember everything from last night. It was a conscious decision to do what I did to calm you, David. I acted to keep you safe from hurting yourself against the cage. Plus, it was fun.” Sky grinned. “If you are cured, I think we’d be more useful here than locked in a cage.” Sky said.
Brad spoke next. “What about me, Nathan, and Devon? Don’t even try and tell us to leave. We’re all in this thing until the end.”
Eli smirked. “I knew you’d say that.” He looked at Nate and Devon. “Do you both agree with what Brad said? If either of you wants to leave, this is your last chance.”
“Count me in. I’m not leaving my brother or any of you guys.” Devon said.
“There’s no way I’m leaving. I’ve dreamt of being involved in something like this my entire life.” Nate said.
“It’s not a game or a horror novel, Nathan. If you stay, I have an important task for you.” Elias said.
“Sorry. I know it’s serious. I’m in. What do you need me to do?” Nate said.
Eli tossed his backpack to Brad. “Inside my backpack is all the wolfsbane that you guys cut up. Split it between you three. Once the wolf is here, spread the wolfsbane in a circle around the clearing, then light it on fire. Even if Parker breaks free from my spells, he won’t cross the line of burning wolfsbane.” Elias looked at David and Sky. “Stay near the center of the clearing once they light the fire. It shouldn’t harm you if you don’t inhale the smoke.”
“I understand. Hopefully, we have enough control to remember and stay away.” David said.
Sky grabbed David’s arm and leaned against his boyfriend. Sky’s voice was deeper, almost like a growl. “We’re going to find out soon. I feel the wolf stirring inside me. I’m trying to hold him back, but I’m not sure I can.”
David’s eyes were wide with wonder. “The other nights I changed, I blacked out from the pain. This is different. Sky is right. I feel the wolf inside like a separate being trying to break free from confinement. It… he…. I want to howl and run free under the full moon’s light!”
Eli’s eyes lit up, and he looked at Matt. “If these two are feeling the change, Parker must be, too. Get ready!”
Brad tore open the backpack and handed Ziplock bags to Devon and Nate. “Spread out, guys. As soon as we see this freak, get ready to work!”
Then, they heard a bone-chilling howl, and the grey werewolf stepped out of the trees and started walking up the hill.