Pacing around the people he had in training Talon thought about their progress. It had been almost a month since he had begun honing all their skills. He couldn’t help but smile when the others realised Javier was the person who found the training the easiest. Javier never once complained the training was too hard, yet Talon knew each night Javier fell into a deep sleep. He knew this because since he’d become Prince Javier’s bodyguard he had moved into the anti-chamber leading into Prince Javier’s room. More than a few nights he had had to tuck the younger man into bed.
Talon turned his attention to Brayden and Mylo who were sparring against one another. He could see they both were so intent on their battle neither realised the others had stopped to watch them. Talon even saw money changing hands as to what the outcome would be. They were both evenly matched in skills and power so he wasn’t willing to bet against either of them. He shook his head as Brayden took a savage blow to the shoulder, and then winced as Mylo’s foot shot out to knock the consort on his arse. Brayden's head hit the ground with a loud crack making more than a few people gasp in shock.
Everyone watched on as Brayden lay on the ground unmoving as his husband and king dropped to his knees beside him. “Bray, love, open up your eyes baby.”
The silence was broken as an ear splitting cat call rang out into the air. Talon turned just in time to see a huge panther lunge across the arena to leap against Mylo, slamming him to the ground. The panther’s jaws were open, and poised above Mylo’s neck in a warning growl. Instinct must have kicked in because Mylo turned his neck to the side in a submissive gesture that seemed to please the beast. His teeth grazed Mylo’s throat softly before he turned and bounded toward Brayden. He lay on the ground and placed a heavy paw on Brayden’s chest.
“What the hell?” Quinlan shouted.
“Javier.” Talon admonished as he walked over and bent to scratch just behind the panther’s ear. Over the last month Talon had come to realise this particular spot being scratched had an immediate calming effect on Javier in his panther form. “It’s not nice to scare everyone this way.” He couldn’t hold back the smile as his charge turned those huge eyes his way and softly yowled.
The panther then seemed to shift his attention to look deep into Quinlan’s eyes, blinked slowly. Talon watched as Javier dipped his head in acknowledgement of Quinlan.
“Holy shit!” Quinlan reached out a hand and pressed it to the top of Javier’s massive black head, before running his hands over the furred body.
This interaction again made Talon smile, especially when Javier’s body shook with the purr that escaped from within him.
Brayden groaned as he slowly came back to full awareness. His immediate reaction was to jump up and run when he saw the large panther. The only thing stopping him was the fact the animal was currently pinning him to the ground. Well that, and his head was still aching from the knock it had taken. Brayden shrunk back in fear as the panther leaned in and licked the side of his face.
“Eww gross.” Brayden tried unsuccessfully to push the animal away from him.
Quinlan smiled at them. “Love, I don’t think your brother wants you to move just yet.”
Brayden did a double take at the words his husband had just said. He turned and stared at the panther in question. “Javier?”
Javier growled. Right then he wished he had the ability to speak, or at least roll his eyes at the stupidity of the situation. He felt the rumble roll though his body as a growl emanated from deep inside him. He sensed the King’s Guards were closing in around him with weapons drawn, and he didn’t like that one bit. He turned his attention to Talon and yowled softly, his tail flicking in agitation at the threat heading in his direction. He wanted to tell them everything was okay, and realised he should have listened to Talon when the man had suggested numerous times since he first shifted that he should tell the others. Javier had wanted to wait for a while until he was surer of himself in his new form. He also didn’t want to expose the re-emergence of the ancient line, because you never knew who was watching or whose side they were on. Even now he could smell someone in the vicinity who absolutely reeked of ill-intent.
Talon must have known what he wanted because he gestured for the King’s Guards to stand down. Telling them there was no need for weapons and that the panther was not going to harm the king or his consort in any way.
“He means them no harm.” Talon said as some refused to step down. He knew that Talon was certain that he, Javier, would never cause harm to his brother or anyone else he considered family.
The scene playing out before them today was so surreal that no one seemed to see the figure standing in the shadows watching. No one felt the presence of an evil so old it should no longer be in existence. No one saw the way the animals shied away from its presence. No one felt the hatred and malice pointed their way. No one knew today’s revelation was going to change the rest of their live—forever.
Kybald Reynard watched from the arena entryway in seething hatred. The consort’s brother shimmered and morphed into one of the ancient ones. This was not good. The old ones were thought to be extinct. This was a race of beings that no longer belonged in the same world as the rest of them—their time had passed. They had once been hunted by Kybald’s kin until their entire species was eradicated. How could he now be seeing an ancient one? How was it even possible one had been missed? All he knew for certain was now because of what he had just witnessed, the hunt would once again resume. The abominations that once were, were not going to be allowed to come back into existence. He had to warn the other of his Guild. The Guild of Shamian wouldn’t be pleased when he informed them of what he had just had the misfortune, or fortune as it were, of seeing. Because if there was one, how many others were there out there? How many other abomination races were once again re-emerging? The question now was how hard was it going to be to get into the inner sanctum to be close enough to kill what should not exist? If the consort’s brother was an ancient one, what then of the consort himself? Did he also carry the gene to allow him to transform into an animal? The hunt now ahead of the Guild was not going to be an easy one to be fought. Preparations would need to be made. There must be something in the scrolls of their people that had foreseen this happening. A shudder ran through Kybald as he had another thought. If the shifter races were coming back into existence then would their leaders—the true Sentinels of Varnuse also come back to life?
Slipping out of the shadows and down a side street Kybald made his way back to communicate to the others what he had seen. For the upcoming war they were going to need to recruit new members into the Guild, because this time around Kybald didn’t think that the Guild of Shamian was going to be strong enough to defeat this new generation of ancient ones the mists surrounding them seemed to be filled with power..