Custodian Chronicles: Lone Red

By Mel Ryle All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Action

Twenty One

“Kent? Are we talking about the same Kent here?” I asked after John dictated each name Lady Eliza Morgan had gathered who might be responsible for my family’s death. I should be surprised she was able to get a lead, let alone actual names, of those accused. Yet that wasn’t my focus right now since one name on that list pretended to be a friend.

“Yes, it’s the same man…” John replied.

“What the hell?” Kaleb burst before John could finish his sentence. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place? We should get Tony and Axel out of there!”

“Lord Hunter, please come down. I think where they are now could be a good idea.” John pointedly said.

“Excuse me?” Kaleb looked at him in confusion.

“John, do you have a plan in mind?” I inquired and kept my cool the whole time. But of course, inside, I’m shaking in fear for my two friends.

“I think I do… but I have to call Lady Morgan and tell her about the situation.” John informed as he pulled out his phone from the front pocket of his denim jeans.

“Woah! Wait! Wait! Wait! Let’s pull our thoughts together first… we shouldn’t be calling anyone and telling them about this plan at all.” Kaleb jumped in, looking jittery and worried.

“I think it’s best we tell someone who we can trust on their end to help Tony and Axel, Kaleb. Knowing that one of our contacts could be…” I trailed off, as my mind recounted how we met Kent and gone along with his plan. “If he was part of some group who conspired in assassinating my family, and he helping us now, it just doesn’t add up. Why is he helping us?”

“Maybe it’s a farce, or to mask his cover?” John offered before excusing himself to call Eliza Morgan.

“I don’t know what his excuse is, but I don’t think I can stay quiet about this anymore, Cole. He was my contact. I introduced him to you. So, partly, I’m at fault here.” Henry finally spoke up from the shadow.

Cole looked sternly at his cousin. “Did you know about it?”

“No. I didn’t have a clue. He was Eliza’s advisor. It was highly unlikely a man like him would betray any of his people…” Henry admitted but trailed off into silence at the thought of the possibility that he might be.

“Now that this has come to my attention, there was a time a few years ago he asked me for information on Roués south of our border. Of course there’s nothing new about Lycans and Custodians sharing information about such things; however, he looked rather interested in their location and numbers. From what I know, Custodians don’t hunt down Roués who aren’t a threat, right?”

“We haven’t anymore in recent year,” Kaleb was the one who replied.

“Then, maybe he was…”

“I already told Lady Morgan. She’ll try to keep Tony and Axel away from harm as much as she could without getting caught by Kent. However, she wanted to make them as bait.” John interrupted as he rejoined the group.

“How is she supposed to make them as bait?” Kaleb asked. Though he looked like he wasn’t all supportive at the sudden change of plans, he finally regained his composure.

“Kent doesn’t know that you guys know. Just play along until he makes a mistake.”

“What if he won’t?”

“We’ll make him.”

The communicator screeched alive as Tony’s voice surfaced. “Hey, guys! Are you still there? I think something’s wrong… there seems to be a commotion outside.”

I picked up the small device and pressed the button to allow me to talk to them. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?” I asked worriedly. However, I couldn’t press further as John held out his hand, asking to take over the conversation.

“Tony, it’s John. I know I told you to lock yourself in your room. But could you sneak a peek outside and see what’s the situation?” John ordered.

“Got it…” Tony abruptly answered, but quickly spoke again, sounding a bit disoriented. “Wait, I think the door is locked… yeah, someone has definitely locked us from the outside.”

Hearing the word by word report of their current situation, my heart started beating fast. “The window! Look out the window!” I called out before John got to say anything again.

A second later, Axel’s distant voice replied. “I think something is wrong with the house… wait! Tony, is that smoke coming out?”

Hearing those words, I could no longer hide my worry and abruptly stood up. “We need to go! We need to help them get out of there!”

“Axel, could you tell from the view outside where the smoke is coming from?” John asked, ignoring my interruption.

“I think I could see… it’s on the west wing of the house. First floor, from how the smoke is rising.” Axel sounded a bit closer now like he was speaking directly to his mic.

“John! We should…” I urged again but stopped as a loud BANG startled everyone in the room. From where the sound came from, it wasn’t on our end.

“Hey! What was that! Are you boys okay?” John’s calm façade finally cracked a bit.

“Sir Lockwood, I think someone’s raided the house and set it on fire…” Tony sounded a bit breathless.

I grabbed the small device out of John’s hands. “Tony! Axel! You need to get out of there now! Find a way to break down the doors. And don’t lose contact with us. We’re coming to you!” I avowed and hastily headed towards the main exit.

“Roe, wait!” Kaleb finally snapped out of his trance as he listened throughout the whole ordeal. He then grabbed me by the wrist. Though he couldn’t hold on to me a second longer as Cole stepped in and tugged his arm away as he stood between us.

He looked at Kaleb angrily. “Don’t touch her.”

Kaleb was about to snap back but Ash, Dan, and Henry were quickly standing around us. Feeling the slight hostility from them, Kaleb took a step back. “I don’t think you should be going anywhere near there, Roe. It’s obviously a trap and they know you’ll want to go and save those two.”

“Which is why I’m going, Kaleb. They’re finally doing this to my face not anymore behind my back. I want to be there and see the man behind it. I want to see him before I put a bullet between his eyes.” My words softly echoed in the room, bringing everyone to a brief silence.

The thick atmosphere was cut short when Tony’s voice rasped from the receiver. “Guys! We are out! And Axel’s right. Someone just drenched gasoline all over the place and lit it up like a bonfire.”

I lightly cussed under my breath.

“You heard him. We need to go and help. I know you’re going as well, John. That’s your home. And I’m not staying here until I saw those are two safe,” I stated firmly.

John studied my expression while he still sat across the room. Whatever he saw in my expression, it was enough to get him up on his feet and join us. “Henry, could you lend us a ride? I don’t think you all would fit in my Jeep.”

“Got it.” Henry nodded and took out his phone. He excused himself and got out of the apartment first. While he arranged everything in the hallway, John called everyone by the entrance.

“I know I can’t talk you out of not going with us, my Lady. So I’m just going to remind you not to do anything rash. I know these four will be protecting you, so please allow them. As much as you think you could be dispensable like us – well, except Lord Hunter and Alpha Blackwell, you are not. You are someone important. And losing you would mean all of this, what we’ve been doing – including what Lady Morgan is trying to achieve – will be all in vain. Do you understand?”

“Understood, sir Lockwood.”

His lingering stare was cool. Not once he broke our eye contact. “Be safe, okay? Allow us to do all of the dirty work.”

“I can’t promise you that really…”

“I know. But at least try.” He finally let out an easy smile.

“I’ll try.”

Henry was a fast worker or maybe it was his Clan who were top notch. Not half an hour later, everything was ready and we were already speeding through the freeway towards the Morgan Mansion. In the black and heavily tinted SUV with me were Cole, Kaleb, and Henry, who were all brooding and silent throughout the drive. But I couldn’t find them at fault since I was the same. When we finally reached outside the city, heading towards the forest side with trees upon trees lining up beside us, Henry turned towards us from the front seat.

“Cole, reach up around back and get the black suitcase. I think you’ll find those tools handy.” He informed as Cole followed his order.

He got the said case and quickly opened. It revealed three handguns with an extra magazine of bullets ready for arming.

“Where did you get this?” Cole looked up and stared at his cousin in surprise.

“I have some connections. And besides, my Clan’s base is in the middle of a city. We can’t just suddenly turn into our Lycan form when there are disputes in the area. These can be useful as well.” Henry lightly answered.

“We don’t kill our own people if we have problems with them… well, except for Roués.” I loosely remarked.

“We’re not using them for killing, Cole, relax.” He stated to his cousin, sensing his unnerving silence. “It’s for intimidation. You could wound someone with it in a hands of a professional, am I right Custodian?” Henry turned to me with a sly smirk.

“I agree,” I nodded and grabbed one of the guns while putting away the two magazines of bullets in my back pockets. “Thanks for giving us these. I forgot to grab my own with all of this commotion.”

“I’m not giving you those, though. I’m just lending it to you. Those guns aren’t disposable. They’re a bit expensive, actually. They aren’t the ordinary standard issue.” Henry sarcastically informed.

“Is it now?” I muttered and studied the ammo. There I found the runic symbol that meant earth carved on the body of the bullet.

“Silver plated and earth cast bullets? Really?” I asked.

“Our kind heals fast,” he plainly pointed out.

“And how did you manage to get a Curatrix to cast these bullets?” This had surprised me more. “No, wait. I need to know how you get these Custodian level two issued guns.”

“It was Kent, actually. Now that I’ve been recalling, most of what I was dealing with him is the black market type.” Henry’s tone suddenly went dry.

“That bastard…” Kaleb murmured darkly under his breath.

“You do this sort of business with him and yet you never really questioned it?” Cole sounded a bit disappointed at his cousin.

“I know. I know. To me, it didn’t really matter what his business was as long as he never crossed the line and did anything to my people.” Henry admitted deadpan. “But this all changes now.”

“Sir…” Suddenly the driver, who remained silent since we left the condo, spoke up. “One of the guys picked up something.”

Henry shifted around his seat and looked out from his side of the window. “Cole, one of my man trailing us in Lycan form caught a scent of Roués heading towards where we are headed.”

“Where? What route?” Cole sounded calm but as I looked towards him, his eyes sparked with rage.

“It’s about 75 yards from the main road,” Henry replied.

“I’ll get Dan to follow it,” Cole informed out loud.

“Wait! Isn’t that dangerous?” I asked, bringing Cole’s attention to me.

His expression slowly softened as he lightly caressed my cheeks, pushing back the hair strand that I didn’t know had covered my face. “He’ll be fine. This is Dan’s job.”

Just from his touch, I could feel a slight change in my mood. Though the worry and nervousness in the pit of my stomach hadn’t subsided, I was feeling a lot better than I did back at the condo. Cole continually lingered his finger by the side of my face to not break our connection.

“Sir, there’s something right behind us.” The driver spoke again, bringing back everyone’s attention to him. Without taking his gaze away from the front of the car, he briefly gestured his head towards the rearview mirror.

At first, I only saw the headlight of John’s Jeep slowly moving further and further away from us. But then, slowly coming in to view was another source of light right behind him. Without as much as a warning, the car coming up behind John’s Jeep rammed directly at his vehicle. I jolted in surprise and covered my mouth. Hardly taking a breath, I spun around to get a better look.

“Stop! We have to get back! We have to help them!” I called out when I finally got my voice back.

“No! Drive! We need to get out of here and bring Roe to safety!” Kaleb barked in command, briefly giving the driver a death glare before turning back to study the horrid scene.

“What? No! We need to help them!” I turned to Kaleb in disbelief. As I was about to reach towards the driver, demanding him to turn around, Cole suddenly wrapped his arms around me.

“GET DOWN!”

I didn’t see it coming until I felt the impact of our car colliding towards the side of the road, hitting a tall pine tree, which jolted us around. Since Cole held me down with his weight, the force hardly moved me away from where I sat. When the car went on a stand-still, my ear started ringing and my breathing became ragged from the adrenaline. I felt a slight tang of blood in my mouth and bruises over my leg and right arm. I was able to open my eyes but quickly regretted it. Seeing the sight in front of me knocked the remaining breath in my lungs. For the first time since that night I saw blood painted my old family living room, I felt being drenched again with pain and despair.

“Cole… Cole… Wake up…” My own voice felt distant. But I didn’t care what was happening to me at the moment. In my eyes, I only saw Cole’s eyes close while the side of his face was soaked in blood.

Still, in his embrace, I gathered what little strength I had left to reach out towards his face and caressed his cheeks. “Cole, please wake up,” I begged again.

I felt my eyes slowly blur as I got no response again. However, behind me, I heard a groan. Without moving an inch away, I turned and found Kaleb all bruise with a few cuts on his cheek. He was disoriented.

“Kaleb. Kaleb.” I called out to him, my voice slowly regaining back its strength.

Hearing my voice, he looked up to me. “Roe… Roe! Are you okay? Are you hurt?” From the tone of his voice, I knew he was out of harm’s way.

“I’m fine. But Cole… he’s not…” I replied but I suddenly choked up as I felt tears streaming down my face.

“Hey. Hey. I’m here. He’s going to be fine.” Kaleb reached out to me, slowly tugging me away from Cole’s.

I clung closer to him and lightly pushed Kaleb away. “What are you doing?” I asked in alarm.

“He’s slightly crushing you, Roe. If we’re going to get everyone out of this busted car, we can’t do it on my side. The tree is in the way.” Kaleb calmly informed and gestured towards the large tree trunk behind him, which had smashed the windows and door. “Are those two in front alive?” He finally remembered, which also brought my attention.

“Henry!” I called out as Kaleb groaned to sit up and assess the situation.

It was then I heard sounds coming from the front driver and passenger seat.

“What the hell was that?” Upon hearing Henry’s voice, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“I’m sorry, sir. I hadn’t noticed the car coming right beside us. I preoccupied from the car behind us…” the driver muttered in dread.

“It’s okay, Paul. It wasn’t your fault. We didn’t see…” he paused and peered briefly at the empty road, “and the car’s gone. There’s nothing we could do about it.” Henry reached out at the wounded driver and lightly tapped his shoulder. “So, are we all good?” He inquired and turned towards us. It took him a moment to notice Cole, who was still unconscious beside me.

“Cole!” Henry was about to reach out to him when Kaleb stopped him.

“He’s alive. He is breathing,” Kaleb reassured him, which also brought my attention. I was so engrossed with the sight of blood on him I hadn’t noticed his calm breathing.

“Oh, thank god!” Henry sighed in relief and looked at me, who still clung to Cole. “Are you okay, Roe?”

“I’m fine,” I answered, but my words sounded like a lie.

“He’ll be fine, Roe. We’re quite sturdy.” Though Henry was trying to cheer me up, his words didn’t reach his eyes.

The driver, who we just knew was named Paul, finally got out of the car while Henry followed behind him. With their inhuman strength, it was easy to gauge the busted door from Cole’s side and slowly ease him out of the car. As Kaleb and I were getting out, a headlight from an incoming car brought our attention. Remembering that I placed the gun by the waistband of my jeans, I grunted as I got it out, feeling the bruises left by the accident. I hastily checked for bullets and then clicked off the safety. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Henry standing protectively over Cole’s unconscious body. Paul had sat him down beside the wrecked SUV.

“Keep him safe, Henry,” I ordered before walking further until I reached the edges of the road.

“Roe, don’t…” I didn’t wait for him to finish the sentence and held up my gun.

I aimed it towards the headlight, shooting two rounds. Once the lights were out, I got a better look of who was behind the wheel. It wasn’t someone I wanted to see. Especially now. So I didn’t hesitate and aimed towards the head of the driver.

I am not letting Maddox Blackwell get away.


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