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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Drums of War - 3. Heading In

I lay there awake that night, wondering what would happen tomorrow. Zeke had said this area was secure for the night, which means he felt we should be moving on very early. It was good advice anyway, but what made him say it like that? What made Colton's Pathfinding actually work for the first time? More and more questions all led to the same damn answer. I hate magic.

Love Phuong. She's awesome. When Zeke had flipped the coin, it landed on its side three times in a row, which pretty much said neither of us was topping or bottom and Quintin could forget the popcorn. We all knew how it happened, but her faux innocent act was too perfect. She also told me when I was cooking what she had done.

"Thanks. I doubt Heather would be happy to hear I handed my card to Zeke." Tonight was pan-fried fish, one thing all of us loved.

She tilted her head in question. "But not Quint?"

I know I blushed. "He's...different. Even Heather sees it. A huge part of me knows it would never happen, but a small part kicks that part in the balls and tells it to live a little. As mostly a joke, Quint tells me once I have consummated my marriage, Dylan Season will officially open." I loved the way her eye rolls are so perfect. She had them down to an art.

"Don't you worry about Zeke and Heather should you get bagged and tagged?"

I shook my head more at her joke than anything. "Honestly...no. Zeke has told me to go for it." I looked over to where the two guys were cuddling with Colton laying his head on Zeke's thigh. "Heather...understands. It's the strangest thing. She'd fuck me up if I ever looked twice at a woman. She would rip off my balls, shove them down my throat, cut off my head, shove it up my ass, and then stop being nice."

Phuong's grin was wide. "You know from experience."

"Almost. I saw a gal on the beach wearing a totally bodacious bikini." I smacked myself in the head to get the surfer lingo out. "I pointed her out, which Heather did not like one bit. After she chewed my ass out, I told her I'd been looking because I thought Heather would look a lot better and wanted to go find out where she bought the bikini so I could buy it for her. Heather, after turning red and gaping like a fish, apologized. I told her bluntly she would know if I was checking someone out." Phuong tilted her head again. "I give off serious amounts of pheromones when I am more than passingly attracted to someone. I mean, you're hot and awesome, but Heather didn't even have to worry because she could tell you were pretty much family zoned from the get go.

"Which leads me to her and Quint. She knows there are times when I get sensations and emotions that wash over from him. Especially during sex. I could be in the middle of a briefing with the Alphas and boom. Pheromone spike thanks to Zeke and Quint going at it by the lake a few miles away. So, she knows when I'm interested, and she knows I literally can't help but be curious about it with Quint." I don't know why I could talk about this with Phuong. It was all kinds of embarrassing to even talk about with Heather.

"With the overflow from Quintin, I figured you would be more interested in Zeke."

I shrugged. It was a very logical statement. "I'm glad I'm not. Those two would have me held down and do things porn stars balk at." She raised her brow as if letting me know she didn't buy my half-truth. "Yes, okay, I do have some interest in Zeke, but nothing sexual. I just wanna be cuddled by the teddy bear sometimes." My face turned pink.

"So quasi-romantic feelings," she said with a small smile.

"Meh," I grunted as I made an uncertain gesture with my hand. "More like just comfort. I feel very comfortable around the guys. More than anyone in my life, including Heather. Were I a smaller man, I would probably fall asleep on Zeke much like Quint does on occasion."

"You trust him and feel safe," Phuong said.

"Exactly. There are just times I want to be held, and Zeke would be the guy I would go to." I was super glad the guys were ignoring our quiet conversation in favor of some cuddle time. I didn't need their snark.

"Ever done any snuggling with them?"

I was beginning to wonder why she seemed so curious about this. "I have. All watching a movie. I've had Quint cuddled up under my arm with Colton under Zeke's. Had my head resting on Zeke's thigh while he played with my hair. Colton and I have fallen asleep in the same bed during a stay at the cabins, and we woke up with me as big spoon. I mean it's a total bromance situation." In spite of myself, I smiled. "The best friends I've ever had. We'd do anything for each other." I know she heard how sure I was of that statement. "So why all the questions?"

"You needed to talk about it, and I have never had the chance to talk about this with anyone. The Flock is very strict about TMI." I knew she was making the understatement of the world. "When I take over as Wind Master, I want anyone feeling they can come to me with anything, including LGBTQ concerns or questions. Watching Little Bird grow up makes me wish I had the position then so he could have been more open. What he has with Dean makes me so happy."

I sat up straighter and gave her a bow of my head. "The Rogue Valley Flock will be in honorable, capable, and loving hands when you become Wind Master."

She returned the bow with a bright smile. "Thanks, Dylan. So, by what you aren't saying, Heather has given you permission with all three guys."

Damn women and their psychic bullshit. "Yes," I grumbled. "I..." I stopped when I saw Zeke sit up quickly and dump some sand on the small fire we had going. Dinner was done enough that I didn't even grumble. He had his reasons. We all nodded when Zeke put his finger to his lips for silence.

It was a few moments until I saw what made him tighten up his protections. A pair of canoes were silently floating by, but the screen of brush and foliage kept us from being seen and the wind was in our faces, so they couldn't smell us.

"You're sure you felt something earlier?" asked one of the men to the one in the front of the lead canoe.

"Yes. The winds came through the village and on their backs was a foreign magic and a powerful Pathfinder." The face of the man was young, but his voice sounded old. Perfectly straight black hair, tall, broad shoulders and chest, he looked like someone used to getting his way.

Yup, they were searching for us. I looked at Phuong and she shook her head, holding up three fingers. So they had three shamans in the group. She also had a chagrinned look on her face. Probably feeling guilty for them sensing her magic.

"Could they be with the old one? He did say some might come to free him and the missionaries." The questioner was a younger man. His voice was softer, younger sounding, but carried a power even I couldn't deny. This was one powerful shaman. His straight blonde hair looked like a horse's mane. Shaved on the sides but long on the top and back. He pulled the look off.

"If they are, they will die alongside the others." Then they were out of earshot.

We all sat in the sand, sharing looks. No one said a thing while I passed around the food, our minds on the small talk we just heard. No doubt in my mind they had Gene and the others. They had admitted to having the missionaries. When we finished eating, I simply said, "We leave in six hours. No watches, we're safe here. Everyone get some sleep."

I had very little sleep, but I didn't need it so much. I was really feeling the coming eclipse and had been up all night thinking. I had the makings of a plan, but I needed to get some input from the guys and gal. We had barely left the cover of our camp and crossed the river to new cover when the search party from the previous night came right through our camp. We had erased all our traces with a little skunk scent and some stealth help from Quint. They searched around for a few moments and moved on.

When Zeke and Phuong gave me a nod, I spoke quietly. "Okay. Here's an idea for getting in. Their territory is close enough to ours that treaty negotiations would be reason enough for us to come. The only problem would be getting out again. Phuong, can you take the younger one in a magic battle?"

She looked uncertain. "He's very strong, so I might have a good chance of it. If any of the others jump in or pool their strength with him, no chance." No bullshitting, no bravado. One thing I liked about her.

"Colton, can you find us a path out with help from Phuong?"

"I think so. If I can get a minute to concentrate, I should be able to get us out." I gave him a look. "No, don't count on it. We're dealing with stuff I can't know and can't get through."

"I...have an idea," said Phuong hesitantly. We all looked at her. "It may not work, and it may even hurt us, but I feel strongly it could work. We would just need a wolf with us."

"Does it matter Lupus or Lunais?" I asked. She shook her head. "So we need to get with Gene. What's this idea?"

"You asked if I could help. Well...we all can. Colton's Pathfinding following my wind using Quintin's stealth and Zeke's protection."

"How do I fit in?" I had to ask. I knew this would involve magic shit again, and I was not too keen to have it put on me.

"You would be covering our asses with Gene, allowing the missionaries to get out and home." She said it bluntly enough, but I had to ask one more thing.

"So...no magic being cast on me? Because I know what you're talking about. A binding ceremony with one person receiving the traits of the others."

She nodded, which made it better and worse. "You're right, but it would be Colton with the combined traits. No magic on you." I know I looked as relieved as I felt. "Not too keen on magic?"

For an answer, I pulled down the neckline of my shirt and showed her the scar nestled in the hair in the center of my chest. "Ritual sacrifice gone wrong, thankfully. I'm no big fan."

"Do you still get pains in the area?" she asked, brushing her finger over the scar. I know I shouldn't like her doing it, but it felt nice. It didn't do anything for me sexually, but I could almost feel a maternal presence from the touch. Phuong had a mommy mode.

"Sometimes." Any time I shifted to furball mode it stung like crazy and itched like hell when I lost my fur.

"It will continue to give you problems until the athame they used is destroyed or you have a shaman use magic." Again, no hemming or hawing. Just straight out with it. I almost pity anyone who she has to get catty with. It would be a massacre. "But I understand your reasons. If you should want it, let me know." And she dropped the subject. "Are you okay with me...with us performing a binding ceremony, Colton?"

"It won't mess with us permanently, right?" he asked, a bit hesitant.

"I've done it one other time with success, but it has a chance to cause damage if all involved are not willing and without reservation. As close as you boys are, I see no problem."

She was right. "Which leaves you, Phuong," said Quint, "but that's why you're getting to know us all, isn't it? The more you know, the closer the bond."

Her small smile was all the answer we needed. "I knew you were quick, Quint. I knew this might be a necessity, so I've been prepping us since day one. I do want to get to know you guys, but this mission's success is paramount."

I grumbled, and they all rolled their eyes. We all knew I would do it, but I didn't have to be happy about it. I wouldn't be part of the binding directly, but with me and Quint sharing the synergy, it may get me, too. I knew it without Phuong having to say it. "How long does it take to do the ceremony?"

"Two hours." Even she seemed annoyed that this would take so long. "But this is a last chance scenario. I doubt we'll need it if we can appeal to the younger one. He has a strong aura of compassion about him. The elder," she said with a grimace, "will be killed if he so much as glares at us wrong."

Yikes, PMS moment. "Okay then. Keep your eyes open on the way inside. Landmarks, exits, hidden areas, sentry posts, and their jail. We need to get the boys and Gene out." All nodded to my words. "Questions? Comments? Anyone have to pee?" I looked at Zeke for the last one, a barely suppressed smirk on my face.

He gave a huge sigh. "One time and you're branded for life." Then he went to take a piss and cover that with more skunk scent. No sense in seeming to mark territory. When he came back, he swatted my ass. "No Phuong the next coin toss," he said, and I shook my head.

"You can kiss my ass, but I've seen your man tackle." I recalled a musical parody Zeke made me watch on YouTube. "Never gonna bottom, never gonna bottom." Three drag queens...and I'm badly singing a line from their song. All they did was laugh and grin.

* * *

Walking into the enemy village out in the open was nerve-fraying. I mean I could feel the amount of magic in the air, and Phuong was rubbing her arms in agitation. The houses were plaster and thatch and looked more to be a seasonal area rather than permanent. A communal firepit sat in the middle, and beyond it were the six waterfalls. Oh, and about forty people, all of which felt like magic.

The blonde shaman stepped forward with a kind smile. He was taller than I expected, only a few inches shorter than me. Broad through the shoulders and chest, I was getting the impression that I was meeting my first herbivorous shifter. "Welcome to the Equis Camp. I am Rhava, Master Shifter for our camp." He made a gesture of an open palm to his chest and brought it out as if in greeting.

"Thank you for the welcome, Master Shifter Rhava. I am Dylan Davenport, Prime Enforcer for the Homestead Pack. With me our my fellow pack mates Quintin Marshall and his mate Zeke Whitebear, Colton Matthews, and the Wind-Master-to-be of the Rogue Valley Flock, Phuong Saechao." Each nodded their head in turn.

Phuong made the same gesture as Rhava. "A greeting from the winds, Rhava." Her eyes never left his, and boy, did her scent go wonky. Instant lady boner action.

"The plains answers your greetings with joy, wind sister." For his part, he blushed which made his healthy tan go all shades of red from hairline to belt. If we lived through this, I think Phuong found her future mate.

A cleared throat broke the spell of attraction, and Rhava gestured to the other shaman, the one with the raven hair. "This is my older brother, Rhisi, Master Hunter for the Equis Camp."

"Are you with the old one and the missionaries?" His voice, posture, tone, and lack of ceremony all led to one conclusion: He didn't like us here.

Good.

"Rhisi, these people have come many miles. Let us show them we can be gracious hosts before you interrogate them." Rhava's face was neutral, but his eyes showed how annoyed he was with the elder brother. "Besides, the answer is yes. Obviously so. Yet they have come openly and without menace."

How he knew, I could only guess magic, but I was coming to like Rhava. He had already chosen hospitality over hostility. I don't doubt he'd be dangerous if provoked, but he came with open hands instead of fists. "You are correct. We were sent as representatives of several packs to find what happened to a group of missionaries and several members of those packs. Phuong, while not part of our pack, is joined to us. Her brother is our Beta, our Second. One of the missionaries is from a pack related to Zeke. The 'old one,' as you call him, is a surrogate uncle to me. We have come to find our lost family." I knew that honesty would serve us well, but I also got a feeling that this reasoning would get us farther with Rhava than a rescue mission. "Also, with our territories so close, I would like to get a feel for truce and trade alliance."

The small grin and slight sly look in Rhava's eyes told me he knew I was playing up certain angles. Not a man to ever underestimate. "Then we are of one mind. Come. I will tell you why your family has been detained." Rhava swept his arm toward the falls.

"Then they are here?" I knew I sounded hopeful. I didn't want to, but I couldn't help it.

"Yes. I will lead you to them." I knew I would like Rhava. By the way Phuong was staring at his butt, she did too.


 

Thanks again to Timothy for his wonderful help with the edits
Copyright © 2018 Fantasyboy69; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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I love this story! I probably haven’t said it before, so I wanted to start there, but the mixture of a variety of shifters, sexualities, and now shamans is totally captivating. I particularly like that, for some of them, sexuality is fluid, which I think would probably be true of a lot more people if society were less rigid in its need to categorize and were more supportive. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

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Great chapter; a lot of information to absorb though.  Can't wait to see what happens next; keep up the great work.

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Rhisi gives off vibes a bit like Phuong's evil brother

Some people just shouldn't have access to power

Edited by Bears_old_honey
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No confrontation up front. That's good. Maybe there is an acceptable explanation for their actions?

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I hope that the hospitality does continue.  I don't know what to think of this pack as it seems like their all shaman. I hope that when they see the missionaries, the trackers, and the hunters they'll all be safe. I think it'll be better for the group if they just see the missing people then wait to try to find a way to free them so they could escape.  

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"You can kiss my ass, but I've seen your man tackle." I recalled a musical parody Zeke made me watch on YouTube. "Never gonna bottom, never gonna bottom." Three drag queens...and I'm badly singing a line from their song. All they did was laugh and grin.

I just had to go online to listen to this song...for the hundredth time.:gikkle: And I can understand Dylan's reluctance considering Zeke's endowment. 

Edited by raven1
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Rhava is being hospitable and friendly, but I agree his brother send off Kai vibs.  Phuong's evaluation as well a reaction to Rhava does hold some hope for the rescue team.  I am looking forward to the explanation as to why Rhava has so many captives.  It does seem that he is interested in some sort of compromise. 

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