Cernunnos - 14. Chapter 14
A somber chirp raised Cyn from his sleep. His eyes drifted open as he heard another chirp. That...that’s not a bird. A third chirp echoed in the room, but after some movement in the bed, the deer found himself cuddled against a warm and breathing body. In a daze, he looked up to find Sheamus with an arm holding the lycan's head up with the other wrapped around Cyn’s back. When...when did we get so close?
The deer almost refused to answer the question as he admired how warm the body felt against his. Another chirp went through Cyn’s ears, and after narrowing down the source of the noise, it sounded like it was coming from the bed. He lifted the blanket to find that the strange black square was glowing. It’s that thing that Sheamus carries! Fishing it from under the blanket, he held it as another chirp came from it, causing the buck to drop it in surprise.
Feeling movement under his head, Cyn looked up to Shea’s sleepy eyes, grabbed the black brick and set it on his chest, “Sheamus? Your...thing is making noise.”
My...thing? With another chirp, Shea knew what the deer meant. My phone. Someone’s trying to call me. He grabbed the phone and saw it was a member of the tracking team. Anton. Oh shit! Gotta take this! “Sorry, Cyn.” The deer felt the urgency in the lycan and scooted back, instantly missing the warmth the wolf provided. “Anton, what’s going on?”
Cyn watched as Shea’s face grew serious. “Uh-huh...alright, send that to me in a report, along with anything else you and your team found. Leave no detail out. If there was a squirrel eating a pecan, I want to read about it. Thanks.” Shea let his arm holding the phone fall to his side as he brushed his unkempt hair through his fingers. Anton is one of the few members of the team I trust entirely, but I can’t help but think about who would be the traitor. Someone had to have let Eike or Hauser know we were at the hospital. He looked back at the deer, who was holding on to the blanket for security. He’s not going to like this.
The wolf strolled back to the bed and sat on the edge. “Cyn, that was my tracking team that went back to the Kettle to figure out what happened during your attack. I need to go talk to Arric, but I want you to come along. There’s...there are some things you need to hear, and I’d rather not say it twice.”
Feeling the need to get closer to the wolf, Cyn inched himself closer. He sounds so sad! I...I haven’t seen him sad. “Okay. Are...are you okay, Sheamus?”
“I’m fine, but I’m concerned for what I was told. Let’s get dressed. I’ll text Arric that we’re on our way down.” Cyn didn’t know what the strange word meant, but he knew he had to find some clothes. The deer crawled off of the bed and dug into his bags of newly purchased clothes. Ripping off the bothersome tags and stickers, the deer found himself clothed as Shea pawed at the little block in his hands. He uses that thing a lot.
“What...what is that thing?”
Looking up at the cern, Shea snorted and smiled, “It’s a smartphone. You’ve heard of the telephone, right?” Watching the deer nod, the lycan almost breathed a sigh of relief. That makes it easier. “That’s what this thing is, but it can do a lot more. I can send sentences to other people, called texting. I can find videos, like the one of the man running, and even use a calculator.”
Bewildered at the magic device, Cyn stepped closer to it. “It can do all of those things?”
“Yeah, and more. It’s a pretty complicated thing, but it’s almost a necessity for human life nowadays. I’ll need to go get some of my clothes, and we can head downstairs to talk to Arric, okay?”
“Okay.” Shea rose from his seat and ventured out into the hallway, but found that Cyn was right behind him. He’s following me? So closely? The lycan and the deer entered the other room, which to Cyn, looked nearly identical to the other one.
Shea took off his shirt and Cyn’s eyes were glued. The man was unlike any of the other cernunnos he had seen in their human form. He has muscles. Really big muscles! I never paid attention to him until now, but...oh...oh, no. Cyn shook his head, but a mental war broke out in his mind. He’s a wolf, but he’s nice. Sheamus has been nice to me. Can...is it even possible? Looking up, he saw that Shea was staring at him with the same patented smile. Would I even be able to be with...with something that can eat me?
“You’re thinking pretty hard over there, little man. Got something you want to share?” Cyn’s heart fluttered as he heard the scruff voice. “We can talk about it later, if you’d like. But would you mind staying outside the room until I’m changed?”
The question seemed silly at first, but Cyn reminded himself of the lycan’s apparent obsession with putting pants on by themselves. Leaving the room, Cyn stood in the hallway as he heard noises of fabric moving and shortly after, Shea exited the room with his bag in hand. The lycan backtracked to Cyn’s room and put the bag on the floor inside and next to the doorway. Watching his friend move the belongings to his room delighted the buck, urging Cyn to wrap his arms around Shea’s waist. “That makes you happy, little man?” Receiving an affirmative hum from the smaller shifter, the wolf unconsciously grabbed Cyn’s hand and led him down the stairs.
They found Kara in the living room peeking through the window blinds and Arric leaning against the attached kitchen counters, sipping from a coffee mug. Cyn was calm around Kara, but still felt somewhat nervous around the Alpha. “Alpha Claude, I’ve been in touch with one of my tracking team members and he has given me some details from the findings.”
Arric set his mug down and folded his arms, “I’m rather confused, Farren. It’s been a couple of days now. With the squadron of thirty I ordered, it shouldn’t have taken this long for news to come up.”
“I agree. Since we had Hauser at the hospital, my only conclusion is that the tracking team is compromised. The fact that no report has been given to me or you means they’re hiding something. The only reason I have intel now is because it’s from Anton.”
The Alpha snarled at the mention of the name, “That pipsqueak? He’s a runt.”
Shea nodded, “Yep, and that’s why I trust his information. No one pays attention like him. Everyone ignores his existence, so he makes the best wallflower.” Earning a grin from Arric, he assumed that the Alpha saw his reasoning. “Anton gave me some low-down intel, and everyone needs to hear it.” He looked at Cyn and pulled him closer into his side. This is going to hit him hard. “The whole deer herd was wiped out, including the other cernunnos.”
A dark curtain fell in Cyn’s mind. Colman. He’s...he’s dead? The buck didn’t know the other shifter very well, but he was a part of the herd nevertheless. A few tears fell from his eyes and he watched them fall to the floor. “Cyn.”
Looking up, he saw the face of concern on Arric’s face. “I’m sorry for your loss, and I will promise you that the culprits will be found guilty for their crimes.” Turning his attention back to Shea, the Alpha asked, “What else did Anton learn?”
“His team found the scents of the three accused, but he also found traces of Priscilla’s scent in areas she had not been assigned for policing.” The Alpha’s eyes grew wide at the name. “I think it is safe to assume that she would be the mole. She’s not the most fond member of the tracking team, and there was the rumor last year that her and Marric slept around. It isn’t the best evidence, and I’ll urge Anton to be more careful.”
Huffing, Arric bent his neck backwards in thought, “I trust your judgement of the runt and his findings. Was there anything else?” Seeing the commander shake his head, the Alpha snorted in distaste. I need more on Priscilla if I’m to rope her in with the other three. “Very well. Ask your leading teammate at the Kettle to file the report yesterday per Alpha’s orders. I want to see the discrepancies between Anton’s and their findings. Until then, I want you to make a very small list of team members that you trust without a doubt to track down Eike, Marric, and Hauser. I’ll compile a list of five hunters to accompany them if they run into trouble. Eike is a formidable enemy, and when you add the other two in, I’ll need to send a proper kill squad in, provided that they turn themselves in first.”
“Sir?” Arric tossed a look in Kara’s direction as she bared her neck. “I can vouch for Saige on the hunting team. She hates Eike’s guts without even knowing the developments. She’ll be a good insider if the hunting team is compromised.”
“Excellent. For now, assume that every team in our pack is compromised. If you know someone who is to be trusted, I want their names listed. Walter is on the way here, and I’m going to be filling him in on everything. He should be arriving within the next ten or so minutes, so I want you three to take a hike for a while until I message you. If you don't get a message from me within half an hour of Walter arriving, come running and get ready for a fight.”
Shea swallowed. He’s serious! Alpha is even assuming that Walter is in on the plot! “Understood.” Looking down to Cyn, he felt bad for the little guy. It looks like he is still caught up on his friend. Maybe a walk will help. “Cyn? Want to go check out the hiking trail?”
Trail? In a somber effort, the buck barely bobbed his head and turned to go get his shoes from upstairs. His heart ached. Why him? Why Colman? He was more respected in the herd. The head buck listened to him when the wolves were watching us. He...he was…
Halfway up the stairs, Cyn dropped to his knees. He couldn't hold back his emotions any longer. Sadness for his lost brethren culminated. Tears rushed down his face and he cried out, “Why? Why wasn’t it me?”
Shea could only whisper, “Cyn…”
“It’s not fair! He was the stronger one! I couldn’t even win a challenge, and-and he’s the one that dies! I should have died! It should have been me!” The buck knelt on the stair step and cried out, babbling his words. He felt wronged by life’s destiny.
The lycan could only walk up the stairs and sit down next to him. He latched onto the trembling deer and pulled Cyn’s head to his chest. Shea kept his eyes closed as he did his best to block out the cries and terrible statements. He opened his eyes to find Kara and Arric standing at the ground floor, staring at the two men on the staircase. Lowering them, he felt his eyes misting up. You’re wrong, Cyn. Shea closed his eyes and let his own tears fall as the buck convulsed, crying into the wolf’s shoulder.
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