Chapter 1: The Departure
Who would’ve thought that I would be trained to be apart of pack of mercenaries.
My mother was an elven healer and a world renown one. My father was a magical instructor at the high school for supernatural. This means that magic was a large part of my life. Neither of my parents were trained in combat magic but my dad knew many different uses of magic. When I turned 5, my magic manifested when I touched a magical dagger that was hanging on the wall. The dagger was an heirloom that hung on the wall all the time. After the reaction stopped, my dad checked me for how my magic was shaped. He turned to my mother and told her the one word that would forever determine my future. “Meister.” Is what he told her. The smile my mother had was one of proudness even as a single tear rolled down her face. I wish I knew then why she had a single tear fall that day.
It wasn’t until 4 years later when my great uncle came to my birthday party that I learned why she shed her tear. My great uncle was spinning a tale to me the other kids about an ancient form of magic that we elves once possessed. He told of how these elves could summon great weapons and give these weapons magical abilities. He then told us to close our eyes as he spun the tale of these elves’ animal companions.
He began to explain how they went about discovering them. As I close my eyes and follow my great uncle’s worlds, the images of two birds and hounds came to my mind. I continued to listen to his words as the images fully formed in my mind. The images of the birds finalized into a raven and crow with a word floating about them. The hounds finalized into spiritual wolves also with a word floating above them. The world around me fell away as I study the words above the animals before me. I read the words to myself before uttering them aloud. “Branwyn and Camarada.” The birds caw loudly as the wolves howl greatly as I close my eyes.
I open my eyes to see everyone at my party staring at me.
I look to my side and see a raven on my right and as I look there is a crow on my left. I can see the tails of the wolves around me but more to my back if the feeling of breath on my neck was any indicator. I look to my parents for what to do but they stand there in shocked silence. My great uncle snaps his fingers and I feel his magic run through the house. I look to see my birds and wolves vanish. I look at my great uncle to see him stare back with an intensity I’ve never seen before.
He turns to my parents and smiles largely at them. “Well, my nephew. You never told me that Riall came into his powers.” He said to my parents. My mom has tears rolling down her face as my father walks towards my great uncle. “Please. Don’t do this?” My father begs him. I am scared because to see my father beg is never an image I thought I would ever see. My great uncle shakes his before speaking. “I am truly sorry but it must be done.” My great uncle stands and opens our front door to allow a group of men to rush in and surround me.
I hear my mother cry as all of a sudden the world is swallowed by darkness. This was the last day I saw my family which was nine years ago. My name is Mythriall Niall and when I left, I was around 5’2” with bleach blond hair that falls to my ears. I was lithe in build. I was shipped to a school that trains magic users to be lethal weapons.
There were people form all schools of magic there. I met necromancers, druids, sparks, fey and many others. All with different approaches to magic and different morals of how to use their magic. For example necromancers have no problem with giving life to things that didn’t have it or raising the dead which goes against those of us that believe in the laws of nature. Being a meister meant that I could summon different kinds of weapons and imbue them with magical abilities.
Chapter 2: Let The Training Begin
The first two years of my training was spent strengthening my physical abilities first. This meant that I worked on increasing my stamina and physical fitness. They also spent some time during these two years training my senses to be better than they were. They focused on my sense of smell and sense of hearing mostly but found out ways to help the others.
The next year was spent training me in hand to hand combat. This year was grueling because the trainers were merciless in their training. They ‘pulled their punches’ but only so they didn’t damage us beyond repair. This year was hard for me because I was raised by a healer and instructor that did not like violence. They also increased our dexterity, resilience and reflexes during this year. The first two years of training are done to all the kids who came to the school around the same time. This is because the training is universal.
The next seven years are spent training separately because each school of magic has different approaches to teaching and learning magic. Another reason we are separated is because each kid has different sets of abilities in each school of magic. I was told that I had such promise because out of the 39 kids that came in with me, I was one of the top three with immense promise.
This meant that we would be a tested at the end of our training. I didn’t know what the test was for nor how long I would be in training but by the end of the first two years I was nowhere near what I was when I started. When they took me from my home, I was a baby faced cheerful child. I believed in the good in everyone and I wanted to follow my mom’s footsteps and become a healer. I didn’t fight but would rather talk my way out of everything in life.
This changed due to the intense training the school put us through. Now I am a cynical, snarky little devil. I also discovered that being a meister means that I love the thrill of fighting more than I should. I discovered this when the trainers picked those of us to be tested for passing onto the next stages of training.
The ones picked were a two guys named Stiles and Bain, two girls named Lydia and Allison and lastly myself. It was the five of us against 20 drones summoned by one of the proctors of the exam. Lydia and Stiles were the top brains in our group, Allison and Bain were the top fighters in the group and I was an all around type of person.
The fight started with the drones charging at us with no hesitation in their movements, I remember centering myself and letting go as I charged at them myself. I remember people telling me that there was this demented smile on my face as the fight continued. I remember the feeling of my blood coursing through my veins and my heart pounding hard as I fought the drones. The thoughts I remember during the fighting consisted of wanting more but I have enough control to reel in the urge to go beyond what is needed.
The next phase in my training started off with being introduced to the different types of weapons that exist in our world. I didn’t know that there was so many different weapons a meister can summon. They said that they wanted me to be able to not get accustomed to only one type of weapon or locked in one style of combat. To this end they trained me in all types of weapons. They started with one-handed weapons that ranged from different types of swords, shields, guns and daggers.
We would start with the strengths and weaknesses that each weapon had such as its general durability and its reach. We then would move on to getting my hands on the weapon of the month. The first weapon we started with was a sword. We worked with me moving around with the sword in my hands then working on basic fighting movements. Once I had to the basics down they would have me spar with someone until I mastered the sword.
This went on for all one-handed weapons they wanted to teach me. They even took the time to teach me how to use them together such as a short sword and shield and a dagger and gun. I picked up the skills fairly quickly but I still suffered many injuries such as cuts, bruises and bullet wounds. There were many nights during these years that I cried myself to sleep because the healing wounds and the pain of the training were to much for me sometimes.
After this portion of weapons were done being trained they moved onto two-handed weapons. This category consisted of bow and arrows, spears, hammers, dual blades and many more dual styled weapons. This category explained why they taught me how to wield two weapons at once early on. The training was the same as the previous category which resulted in me being well versed in almost any weapon. This training lasted 3 years, which impressed my instructors because at the rate at which I was picking every up so they moved me on to the last phase of my training.
Chapter 3: Training Comes to an End
The last phase of my training consisted of the magical aspects of my talents. We started with testing to see if my magical levels were sufficient enough to continue the training. What they found was that I possessed the same level of magical energy as an elf with royal blood and began to call me Little Prince because of it.
After that they gave me a book that housed weapon summoning spells in it and told me to study the spells and the weapons that they would summon. They quizzed me for days about which spell summons which weapon. After two months of this process they moved on to process of summoning the weapons themselves.
It starts with knowing the shape and style of weapon I want and having that image cemented in your mind. We started with a sword that would best suit my tastes and style of fighting. I close my eyes and concentrate on a sword that would best suit me. The image of a black katana styled swords comes to mind. The handle is styled from a rapier and the blade itself is smaller than an actual katana but there is only the one bladed edge.
I let the image finalize as I speak the spell to summon it. “Zangetsu” I say out loud and feel my magic move to shape the sword. The sword rests calmly in my hands as my magic calms from creating it. I open my eyes to see the sword in my hand and as I swing the sword it feels just as fluid, if not better, than my practice swords. My instructors have me spar with drones to test the sword’s make and to see if there are any imperfections in the making of the sword.
The design of the sword is smaller which helps with quick movements because the sword isn’t to big and in the way. We repeat this process for a week of summoning a sword and sparing to make sure that I have it down pact. We went through this process with all the weapons they wanted me to master. This process lasted 2 years of training me in summoning a weapon, and sparring to make sure that I could handle the weapon with ease.
The last 2 years of my training consisted on imbuing my weapons with magical abilities as well as working with my animal companions, known as familiars. Some of my favorite spells to cast on my weapons were the ability to amply gravity on whatever the blades cuts. The thing about this spell is that until I release the spell, my blades can not harm anything. This is great for subduing someone instead of killing them outright.
I have also been learning that I can imbue my blades with different forms of magical energy and release them with a slash. I almost destroyed the walls of he facility they were training me in. I also learned how to extend my blade so I can take a close range sword fight to a mid range fight and still be competent in the fight.
My longer range weapons such as my bow can shoot almost through anything. They taught me a spell to shoot through magical barriers. I learned a spell to turn one arrow into a volley of a thousand arrows that can obliterate a large number of enemies. They taught me how to enhance my eyesight so that I can see up to a couple of miles ahead of me as well as in the dark. This really helped with fighting at a longer range as well as enduring some the training they were putting me through in the cover of darkness.
I learned that my wolf familiars sense of smells is very sharp and I can tap into our bond to enhance my sense of smell to be on their levels. My instructors would have us hunt down prey for a couple weeks to train how to flawlessly tap into my bond with my wolves to use their sense of smells.
My bird familiars are the same as the wolves expect their eyesight is sharp. I can tap into our bonds to see through their eyes. This skills comes with the benefit of that they do not need to stay close to me and can fly off away from me. They are self sustaining so they don’t use a lot of my magic as they exist. They’re good for sending notes to others as well as for scouting out ahead of my current position. The two years of this training showed me what a meister really is capable of.
My training ended with the completion of a test that put everything I learned on display. The magic that created my test was an ever changing field that sent dangers at me from all sides and from different aspects of life. The test’s primary goal was to reach the goal and survive. The field I was in changed its terrain to make some areas easier to traverse while others where difficult to even contemplate an idea of overcoming them. The test had large predators attacking me with all forms of weapons. The weapons ranged from firearms to claws and even blades were used. The worst part of the test was that there was a time limit of two hours. This meant that I needed to make it to the goal within the two hours.
When I finally got to the finish line of the test and saw my instructors stand there with a grin upon his face. I was panting hard as my wolves disappeared and my bird flew to my sides. “Well done Little Prince. You have made us very proud of you.” One of my instructors said with a booming voice. By now there are tears forming in my eyes as the pain of the test begin to hit me with the force of a ton of bricks. “You have passed this test with flying colors but there is still one more test to be held. You are to rest for some time and we will call for you when the test is ready.” The same instructor said. I nodded my head as the magical field around us dissipated.
I stood and made my way back to my room with a slight limp. I have rapid healing as a meister but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the pain. I lay in my bed and cry silently because my entire body aches on levels I haven’t experienced since the initial physical training at the beginning. Now I stand at a solid 5’7 and my hair has grown to be to my shoulder blades and the color of pure white. My eyes are a pale gray and my skin has taken on a slightly darker tone due to my training and my birth rite. My lithe build is more compact and my muscles are more defined. My crow and raven fly to my bed and try to comfort me as I call for my wolves. “Camarada.” I mutter and see my wolves materialize around me. They all crowd the bed and snuggle with me. I soak in the warm of my familiars and let sleep take me.
Chapter 4: Let The Real Test Begin
I wake to the sound of someone banging on the door to my room. I have no idea how long I have been sleeping because there is no window in my room. It’s hard to keep time in this place because at one point it all seems to blend together. I have been isolated from other students because I am an elf and a meister. The door opens and one of my instructors walks in. “Awaken Little Prince, the final test is upon you.” I crawled out of the bed and stretched the kinks out. I felt so much better than I did before I fell asleep.
I follow as he leads me towards the main part of the school and I am reintroduced to the same set of kids that I tested with earlier in my training.
Lydia Martin was one of the smartest kids in the school and apparently is a banshee of skill. I did not know much of what they could do but I felt that I would soon to find out.
Next was Stiles Stilinski who was also one of the top brains of the school. He is a spark which means that his magical skills are immense. I can feel his power from where I stand as he sends a smile to everyone assembled.
Next is Allison Argent who is one of the top fighters in the school. I didn’t understand why an Argent was in the school for magic users but I learned that the family produced kids that have enough of a spark to wield specialized weapons that react to their wielders’ needs. I smiled because the knife she has attached to her hip and the bow over her shoulder are elven made but the gun on her thigh is not.
Next is Bain Allister who is also a top fighter of the school. His magic deals with strengthening his body as well as his weapon which is a broad sword attached to his back.
My instructor introduces me as Mythriall Niall and meister and third highest in both brains and fighting. This means that I am slightly weaker than the other four gathered but can possibly beat them. I smile and wave to them and receive smiles back from all except Bain who just nods his head in my directions.
The instructors present stepped away from us and began to speak. “You five are to be tested as a group just like you were all those years ago. The difference between then and now is that you will have to use all that you have learned over the years. The test will be to survive the wave of enemies in a magical field together. If any one person can not make it then you all fail. This test will determine your futures so please take this very serious and good luck to you all.” They stated before turning to summon the magic field. We look at each other and smile because the thought of having backup sounds so good.
We take the time they need to summon the field as a chance to plan how we are going to handle the fight. Stiles stepped up as group leader and none of us objected to this. He smiled before he began to speak. “Okay there will no doubt be an outrageous number of drones they are gonna have us fight so we need to come up with a formation that utilizes everyone’s strengths. I can tell you that my magic is good support and I can watch the field as a whole and help anyone who needs it.” Stiles finished and turned to Lydia.
She flips her hair before speaking. “My magic abilities are more tailored to the energy of the world but I can assist Stiles in watching the field. I am good at summoning ghouls to fight so I can somewhat boost our numbers in the fight.” She ends her part and turns to Cain. “I can be a vanguard but I am worried that, if it’s a horde we go against, I can get overwhelmed by their numbers so I am counting on your support. Also I can magically enhance my strength, endurance and change the composition of my blade at will while imbuing it with magical energy.” He spoke clearly and looked to Allison. “I am an good with a bow and my arrows never miss. I also am good with hand to hand combat with my blade and gun so I can work as either. I would rather start fighting up close with Cain then switch to my bow. My magic is weaker compared to you guys but the weapons I have change based on my needs much like Cain with his sword.” She ends off and turns to me.
I smile to everyone before speaking. “I can start off with rear support so Allison can start off as vanguard with Cain then switch with me when you need to. My magic is based on the weapons I summon so I can fight anywhere you need me.” I finish and turn to Stiles as he thinks things over. “Okay. Me, Lydia and Mythriall will be rear support and Allison and Cain are vanguard. Mythriall is there a shorter way to say your name?” Stiles asks me. “You can call me Raill or Prince.” I say with a smile on my face. “Okay, Prince the opening act is your so dazzle us with something spectacular and then we can start the show.” Stiles finishes with his fist held out. Cain throws his fist in next and followed swiftly by Allison. Lydia rolls her eyes before placing her fist in the circle and I follow their leads. “Alright guys, let's go out there and demolish them.” Stiles states and there are nods all around. I smile brightly because my blood is pumping in anticipation for a good fight.
We turned to see a portal open and the instructors standing to the sides waiting for us. We walk through the portal to see an open barren land before us. I smile again because this means that there will be nothing but frontal assaults. Stiles closes his eyes then kneels to the ground. The ground shakes and then the area around us begins to rise up. He smiles to everyone before speaking. “This is for those of us who need higher vantage points.” Next thing to happen is the sound of footsteps approaching us. “Branwyns.” I call and my birds appear. I send them forward to scoop out just how many creatures are coming. I tap into our bonds to see through their eyes and I relay what I see to the others. “So right there are just roughly three thousand creatures marching towards us. Their ranks consist of goblins, beowolves, Dire wolves, Giant angeloids, smaller angeloids and regular drones with various weapons. This fight is going to be epic.” I state to the others before calling my birds back. “Okay that is helpful, thanks Prince. Remember that we do not need to hold back.” Stiles states as the mass of creatures comes closer. The creatures stopped moving and waited for us to make a move.
Chapter 5: Let The Battle Begin
I call and my birds appear. I send them forward to scoop out just how many creatures are coming. I tap into our bonds to see through their eyes and I relay what I see to the others. “So right there are just roughly three thousand creatures marching towards us. Their ranks consist of goblins, beowolves, Dire wolves, Giant angeloids, smaller angeloids and regular drones with various weapons. This fight is going to be epic.” I state to the others before calling my birds back. “Okay that is helpful, thanks Prince. Remember that we do not need to hold back.” Stiles states as the mass of creatures comes closer. The creatures stopped moving and waited for us to make a move.
“Alright Prince you’re up.” Allison said to me and I smile at her as I walk up in front oh everyone. “Quincy.” I speak softly and hold my hand out as a bow materializes in my hand. I reach for the bowstring and point the bow up towards the sky above the horde’s head. I draw the string back as an arrow forms in the bow. “I ask that the twin lords of the hunt guide my bow this day as I offer to you this Calamitastrophy.” I say and release the arrow into the sky.
When the arrow reaches just above the horde’s head, it erupts in a blinding light show. The light show gives way to a volley of arrows that rain onto the horde, killing them effortlessly. I smile brightly as I turn to the others and bow. I feel two people rush past me as I stand up and see only Lydia and Stiles before me.
They both are clapping for me and then turn their attentions to the battle field. I turn also to see Allison and Cain making their ways through the hordes. “Was that really necessary?” Lydia asked. I smirk at her before turning to the battle field. I aim at some of the creatures and continue to pick them off one by one as they try to attack our vanguards from their blind spots. Stiles has been casting healing spells on the two down there as they fight and I hear Lydia chanting something behind me. I see dark storm clouds forming over the battle field and lighting striking creatures down. I smile because this is what a battle really feels like.
I continue to pick creatures off as I watch Cain’s and Allison’s progress. They are starting to approach the larger creatures and Cain appears to have no problem with mowing them down but Allison seems to be struggling a bit. I decide to wait until she wants to switch before moving plus there are creatures coming towards us.
“Sprïnger.” I call as I aim my bow at them. The one arrow I fire separates into a volley of thousands and destroys the creatures that started to advance on the three of us in the rear. I hear Allison call my name and I look to see her take down another creature and signal me. I fire two more arrows at enemies near her before jumping down from the platform Stiles created.
I toss my bow to the side and it dissipates midair. “Zangetsu.” I call out as I fall towards the ground, materializing a black blade in my hand. I stand and rush towards where Allison is fighting. She skillfully backflips over me and makes her retreat as I cut my way through the crowd.
I stop as a large ageloid approaches me known as a Beloved. “Asuna.” I call as I leap into the air and thrust my sword out. This spells allows me to perform multiple strikes in a second. I cut down the Beloved before it can fully swing its ax. I feel the magic in the air as I turn to see Stiles and Lydia casting something. I cut down two drones and Allison takes out one behind me. I hear the message to move out of the way along the wind and I turn to see Cain is still fighting.
I huff and run towards the brute. “Zwie” I call as my blade begins to glow a yellow hue. I slash in the air vertically in front of me and slash cuts through all the foes in front of me. I grab him as I cast a spell. “Wies.” I call and a glyph appears under us and pushes us back. The spell is used to form platforms I can use for walking and other spatial properties. I get us out of the way just in time to see I powerfully force of magical energy carve through where Cain was standing. I look to see that they used Allison’s arrow as a focus point for the powerful blast. Cain and I hear the message to regroup and we make our way back to the others, carving through any enemy that stand in the way.
When we get back to the platform, Stiles tell us that the horde is almost fully defeated and that the instructors want each of us to showcase something. I shrug my shoulders and motion for Lydia to go first. She flips her hair over her shoulder and walks in front of us. She mutters to herself and I can feel the magic in the air around us. I look out to see a magic circle form over the horde and spheres of dark energy rain down on the horde causing explosions where they land.
Once she is done she walks back to us and motions for Stiles to go next. He walks up and slams his hand onto the ground. Spikes erupted from the ground that the horde was standing on, piercing them from all angles. Allison took this moment to crouch and aim an arrow at the horde and released the arrow. The arrow exploded once it reached the area the horde was located. When the smoke cleared there was still a large portion of the horde left.
Cain looked at me and I nodded my head in understanding. “Weis.” I call and place the glyph under him and angled it above the horde and fired him like a rocket above the horde’s heads. Once he reach the arch of his accent, his blade began to glow and the glow increased as he descended. He swung his sword at the horde causing a large explosion to erupt, shaking the very ground. He then jumps back into the air, I create a glyph under him and he jumps to reach us.
He looks at me and motions with his head for me to go. I smile predatorily at him and walk past him. I hold my sword like I am putting it into a sheath with my other hand hovering over the blade. “Tetsusaiga.” I say and my sword begins to change shape into a larger blade. The blade is double edged instead of single like the other blade I had and there is fur where the blade meets the hilt. This blade is also known as the demon’s toothed blade, as in it was forged using a demon’s tooth as raw material.
I brought the sword up above my head and spoke again. “Inuyasha.” I call as I swing the sword down and crash into the ground. The magical energy of the spell rushes from me towards the horde and rips right through them as if cutting through paper. I stand tall and release my sword entirely as it dissipates completely. We all stand side by side and look to see that the horde is completely destroyed and then the world around us begins to dissolve.
We each looked at each other and smiled because this means that we passed the test. We could see and hear our instructors applauding us and congratulating us on a job well done. I all smiled and looked at each other and as one bowed to our audience who watch our show. There was laughter in the air which then turned to conversations.
Chapter 6: Conversations and Decisions
Sorry for the wait. Here is the next chapter. Let me know what you think and as always:
Leave me comments and suggestions on the story or any of my stories
The instructors were talking to each other before turning to us. “Okay this is a little bit ahead of schedule but there appear to be people who came looking for potential recruits for various organizations. The leaders of these organizations saw the spectacular performance you all put on and they each would like to meet you.”
With that said each instructor walked over to their respective student and lead us away to separate rooms. The room I was in was a small conference room with a square table and chairs around it. I was told to sit at one end and then my instructor left the room.
Before he left he spoke to me over his left shoulder. “You will be meeting many people today Little Prince. Remember your manners and do not agree to anything that does not feel right to you. Remember to always trust your instincts.” He left when he finished his little speech.
This means I have a choice on who I want to leave with. The thought alone made me nervous, but more so it made me excited at the prospect of finally leaving this place. Just as my instructor said, I met many leaders of different organizations.
I met leaders from the Elven Royal Guard because they believe that my powers would serve them well but I declined because my magic wasn’t reacting well with them. For some reason my magic rejected their magic. Next was the leaders of a team of super heroes known as The Avengers. They wanted to increase their magic based personnel in their numbers but once they started explaining the restrictions I rejected their offer because I need more freedom than what they were offering. This seemed to be the trend with the people who came to see me. My magic either rejected them or their rules were too restrictive.
Just when I was starting to give up one last man came into the room with a small group of people. Two men sat down at the table while three other guy stood behind them. I let my magic out and for once it accepted the people before me. I sat forward with interest for the first time because this is the first group that is magically perceptive and my magic didn’t reject them.
One guy sitting at the table was dressed casually in a V-neck sweater and I could see the muscles slightly straining the fabric of the shirt which showed his possible strength. His hair was styled with something to hold it in place and a goatee. His eyes were a clear blue that showed the swirl of thoughts that appeared to go through his head. The guy sitting next to him had a closer cropped hair but still some there. It was a light brown color with graying areas. His eyes were a steel gray that held power and other thoughts. I could feel the magic in him and in another one of the three standing behind them. I couldn’t keep the a smile from sliding across my face.
The clean cut one with blue eyes sat up straighter, slide a file on the table and begin to speak. “Your file is a pretty interesting thing to read Little Prince. Apparently your style of magic has died out from the Elven population, and yet here you sit before us. My name is Peter Hale and this is my mate Christopher Argent. I am the alpha of this pack and behind me are the rest of my pack mates Scott McCall, Jackson Whitmore and Danny Malachin.” He spoke clearly and pointed out each person as he named them.
My eyes were drawn to the boy named Scott for some reason but I remembered I had other things to do first. “What type of creatures are you all, if you do not mind me asking.” I ask smoothly to Peter. He smirks slightly before answering. “I am an Alpha werewolf, Chris is a hunter with a small spark of magic, Scott is a True Alpha, Jackson is a kanima/werewolf hybrid and Danny is a Malagwin.” Peter finished as I raised an eyebrow towards him. He shrugged his shoulders before responding. “What can I say, I am a collector of rare items and each one of the members of my pack are indeed rare.”
I nod at this before speaking up. “That is indeed quiet the pack. The fact that a True Alpha willingly acts as your beta. You have a hybrid of two creatures that despises one another. Standing next to him is a hawk tasked with leading souls to the underworld. The only one I’m not surprised to see is the alpha pair.” I speak to Peter politely which earns me a raised eyebrow from both him and Chris.
I giggle slightly at this before schooling my features back to a polite smile. “With that said and done. I would like to request you join my pack as our emissary as well as a full fledge member with all the perks of a member.” Peter spoke to me. I reclined slightly in my seat acting like I was contemplating the offer. “What rules are there for the members of your pack?” I ask because I really want to go with them. “Besides you submit to me and Chris as your alphas, you perform the tasks we are given.” Peter answers honestly. “What does your pack do?” I question with interest. “Usually we are a for hire pack. What ever our client needs, they request it from us and we decide who is best fitted to perform the task. We usually send two or three depending on the mission but we all discuss the mission together.” Chris decided to explain for me. I smiled maniacally because I think I finally found the people I’m meant to leave with.
I look Peter in the eyes and can see the red bleed into his eyes. I sit up straighter before speaking to everyone in the room. “I would be honored if you would please accept me into your pack Alpha Hale.” I bare my neck in my seat for all to see.
Chapter 7: Feelings of Lost and Renewal
I look Peter in the eyes and can see the red bleed into his eyes. I sit up straighter before speaking to everyone in the room. “I would be honored if you would please accept me into your pack Alpha Hale.” I bare my neck in my seat for all to see.
Next thing I know is Peter in more wolf than man and he is running his nose up my neck. A shiver runs down my spine that causes a moan to escape from my lips. He inhaled and growled slightly. He pulled back, grabbed my chin and forced me to meet his eyes. His blazing crimson eyes searched my silvery ones for something I did not understand yet.
He must’ve found it because he smiled at me, gripped my chin and bit me where my neck meets my shoulder on my left side. My vision whited out for a second before slowly returning to normal. I open my eyes, they must’ve closed when he bit me, to see Peter smiling at me with my blood on his teeth.
I could feel the bond between me and Peter forming and I allowed it to fully form. Once the bond was cemented between us I looked towards him and saw the smile widen into something almost feral. The wolves in the room howled in joy before coming over and hugging me. Scott was nuzzling my right neck as Jackson nuzzled my left. “Sorry but we’re really close to each other in this pack.” Scott whispered in my ear before he nibbled the tips of my right ear. I inhaled sharply because of how sensitive that place is on me. I looked at Scott and he smiled at me with hunger in eyes. I looked at Jackson and he laughed at us.
They moved away as Chris and Danny walked up to me. Chris walked over first and placed his hand over the bite mark Peter gave me. Danny walked up lastly and hugged me while whispering. “Welcome to the group buddy. I have a feeling that you are going to be a good addition to the team.” He walked back to Jackson and wrapped his arm around his waist to receive a kiss on the head for it. Peter left the room to go talk to my instructor about leaving with me which wasn’t going to be that hard to do because I didn’t come with anything, which means that I am leaving with nothing except with the clothes on my back.
We walked outside and I stopped to look up at the sky.
The sky was pitch black with sparkling dots in it.
I know they are stars but I have never seen a true star before now and I stood there staring in wonder at them before looking to see the pack give me looks. “I haven’t seen a true sky in 9 years. This is still somewhat new for me.” I say softly to them which earns me a whine from the wolves and whimpers from the others.
Scott walks up to me and wraps and arm around my waist to whisper in my ear. “We can watch the sky later if you want. It’s beautiful when the moon is out.” I smile at him and hug him as for the first time in what seems like forever, I let my emotions come forth with all the intensity I’ve been suppressing, and cried for the lost of my life due to that facility.
Scott holds me throughout my entire breakdown and once I seem to have calm down, he picks me up and carries me over to the car they have parked out front. Scott sat in the far back of the car with me in his lap and he continued to hold me as I slipped into an exhausted sleep.
The last thing I remember before fully slipping up is uttering the word “ Dolgrien .”
When I woke next it was to Scott gently calling my name to tell me that we arrived at the pack house. I looked out the window to see a beautiful three story house that appeared to also have a basement. The back door opened and Scott allowed me to exit before him but he was close behind me which felt wonderful if I’m being honest with myself.
We walked up to the house but I paused to get a sense of the wards of the place. They felt strong but wrong for the house and I turned to Peter. “The wards around the property were set up by a druid weren’t they?” He shook his head yes at my question. “Will you allow me to place my own wards and destroy theirs. They don’t feel right to me and it would make me feel so much better if I replaced them immediately.” I said with all the sincerity I could muster after my breakdown earlier.
He looked to Chris, who shrugged his shoulders in return. Peter sighed before looking at me and waved his hand. I smiled and decided to show off a bit. “Branwyns” I utter and my birds materialize on my outstretched right arm. I throw my arm up and my birds take off. “Scout out the wards a druid placed.” I tell them out loud. They each cawed before taking off.
“Camarada.” I call next which summons my wolves to me side. They all walk around for a little getting use to the smell and feel of the land before turning to me for an order. I smile before speaking. “There are wards placed around the land that belong to a druid. I want them destroyed and replaced with my own. The twins are already scouting the area for them but follow your nose and my lead.”
I speak clearly to them as I throw down glowing knives into ground below me. Each wolf smells the area around them before they all lift their heads and howl as one. They each take a knife from the ground and take off in different directions. I sit on the ground and close my eyes to concentrate on my familiars.
I watch as each ward is destroyed and replaced but some of the wards were harder to destroy such as the one placed below the house. That one seemed to be the focal point of them all which means that I will have to deal with that one myself. I opened my eyes to see Danny standing with a computer, I think, and everyone watching something with astonishment on their faces.
I stood and dusted myself off to smile at the pack. I bowed slightly to them as my wolves and birds all came back to my side. I stood up straight to pet a wolf on the head and run my fingers through my birds’ feathers.
“Now that, that is dealt with. Care to give me the tour Dolgrien ?” I ask Scott, who jumps to take my extended arm.
Chapter 8: A New Home And The Perks Of That
Sorry for the long wait. I have not had the energy to write and publish recently so here is a go at it again.
As always let me know what you think about the story. How do you think it should progress?
I stood and dusted myself off to smile at the pack. I bowed slightly to them as my wolves and birds all came back to my side. I stood up straight to pet a wolf on the head and run my fingers through my birds’ feathers. “Now that, that is dealt with. Care to give me the tour Dolgrien ?” I ask Scott, who jumps to take my extended arm.
He hooks his arm around mine but looks to Peter before walking into the house with me. My familiars vanish except one wolf who went sniffing around for the final ward that tied all the others together. The foyer of the house is very open with windows everywhere to allow natural light into the place. The house actually appeared to have little artificial lights but was well lit.
I smiled as Scott led me to the grand spiral staircase but stopped and turned us towards the others as they came into the house. Peter walks in last and closes the door behind him and locks it. My wolf is off somewhere in the house but I’m waiting with Scott because he seems to be waiting for something. I look at Peter as he checks his phone and nods at Danny. Danny nods back and moves off to the a side room to do something.
Peter walks up to us and stand in front of us with a slightly amused face on. “Scott will be giving you the tour as well as showing you where you will be sleeping. You are staying in the room with Scott. Tomorrow we will go shopping for clothes for you and also buy other things you will need.” Peter told me as he looks at me with a look of contemplation on his face. “Can you glamour to hide most of what you are” Peter asks me. I look up at him for a second before responding. “I can because it was one of the first spells my father taught me but I need an image of something that would best work for what you want.”
Danny comes running in with a picture in his hands and gives it to Peter with a knowing glance at Scott. Scott blushes bright red but schools his features as Peter looks the picture over. He smiles at Scott as he hands me the picture. I look at the picture and study the picture thoroughly before looking at Scott with a raised eyebrow. He wouldn’t meet my eyes so I looked back at the picture instead.
The person in the picture was obviously Elven in nature but his features looked different. This image would work best for me because it meant that the only true change I had to make was my skin color to be lighter than it was and my hair color had to be a shade or two different from the pure white to an almost blonde. I close my eyes and focus on the image now in my head and let my magic take the image and cloak myself in the image. When I open my eyes I look to Peter to see him raise an eyebrow in agreement with my handy work. “That is good work. You are free to let the glamour down when we are here or on a mission that does not require you to have the glamour.” Peter told me as he brush past us to go do something else.
I look at Scott, smile and motion with my other hand for him to continue the tour. He smile with a crooked jaw and began the tour of the first level of the house. As we walked the house, he explained what each room was for and if a certain person in the pack was more than likely going to found there. The main level of the house help the kitchen, living room, dining room, offices, and library.
Next he took me to the basement which was sectioned off in different places. One section was for Danny’s workshop because, according to Scott, Danny was a wiz at technology and the workshop was for him. Another section for fully of firearms and weapons that they collected over the years. Scott pointed out that Chris is mostly found here because of his hunting upbringing. The last section of the basement was a shooting range and gear testing. He pointed out the high-tech things Danny and Chris set up as he explained that Danny is a great long distance shot and Chris was good with a pistol and knife. I smiled at this because this meant that I could find someone to spare with here.
My wolf came up to me and motioned that he found the ward. I hand him a glowing blade and let him deal with the ward without me, but gave him so more power to make sure he didn’t face any problems with destroying it. Scott took me to the second floor of the house and pointed out each room. There were three rooms on this level of the house, one for Danny and Jackson because they were mated, one for Scott and a guest room. Scott took me into his room which was beyond anything I ever saw.
His bed was large enough for 4 people to comfortably sleep in, he showed me his walk in closet that had one half already cleaned out for me and then he showed me the bathroom. I looked at the show with pure happiness because a shower sounded like the best thing in the world. He explain that each room was the same and that the third floor was for Peter and Chris. I nod my head as I walk around the room some more.
There was a desk on one wall and a full length mirror on another wall. There was large windows with a ledge to sit on and pillows all along the ledge. I go to the window and pull the curtains away to see the night sky looking back at me. A single tear rolls down my face as warm arms reach around my waist and pulls me into a warm body. I wipe my face as he speaks to me softly.
“That name you call me. What does it mean?” He asks softly. I turn in his arms to look into his pools of chocolate eyes, happy for the distraction. “It loosely translates into ‘Holder of my heart’ in Elvish. It can also mean ‘Protector of my heart’ but it depends on the bond between the Elf and the other person.” I reply honestly to him. He nods his head before kissing my forehead and turning me back towards the window.
“If you want we can shower together before bed.” He spoke into my ear after a moment of silence. I nod my head in agreement to him and he leads me by the hand to the bathroom.
We enter the bathroom and he releases my hand. He walks over to the stand alone shower that’s big enough to fit maybe 4 people in it and cuts the water on. I can see the steam rising from the shower as he walks back over to me. I pull my shirt off and slide my pants down my legs, showing off my body for Scott. He licks his lips as he peels out of all his clothes except for his underwear.
He pulls me to him and dips his head down to gently kiss my lips. He is taller than I am by a couple of inches but it’s a noticeable difference. The kiss lasted only long enough for Scott to slide our underwear down and off both of us. The feeling of skin to skin contact was one of the most magical thing I have ever felt in my life. The moan that escaped my lips was a noise I didn’t think I was capable of. “The rooms are soundproof so we only hear each other’s heart beats. You can make all the noise you want. I can’t wait to make you mine.” He whisper, which turned to growls towards the end, in my ear. He ended it with a nip on the points of my ears which caused me to gasp and arch into his body.
His hands were feeling up and down my back, ending with both hands cupping my but. His face was in my neck on the right side and he was breathing in my scent. I took this moment to feel the muscles on his back which ripple as I run my fingers down his back. He picks me up suddenly as I wrap my legs around his waist instinctively. He walks us into the steaming shower and holds me right under the spray of the water.
The shower and the feel of Scott holding me is a feeling I never knew existed in the world. He places my back against a wall and somewhat leans his weight on me to help with holding me up. One of his hands is gripping one of my ass cheeks while the other was tangled in my hair to hold my head in a fixed position. The way he held my head kept my neck bared to him as he nipped and bit all along the right side of my neck.
After what felt like an eternity, he set my feet on the ground but held me because my knees seemed to wobble a bit. He grabs the shampoo and pours some in his hands and begins to wash my pure white hair. “Is this your natural hair color?” He asks as he begins to wash his own hair as I rinse the shampoo out of my hair. “Yeah it is. My hair has always been this color.” I say as I open my eyes to see crimson eyes looking back at me.
I grab the soap but he stops my movements. “Please let me?” He asks he, huskily. I hand the soap to him and he pulls me closer to him. “You are such a beautiful creature Riall. You are mine now. I don’t want anyone besides the people in this pack to see this part of you my little elf.” He whispers into my ear as he washes my body. He had my back to his front as he lathers soap all along my body which had me writhing in pleasure as he speaks into my ear. “I won’t fully claim you yet, but when I do, you will know who you truly belong to my little elf.” He growled as he bit my shoulder harder than he was earlier. This bite didn’t break skin but it left a nice hickey on my neck.
Chapter 9: An Interesting Affair
We rinse off and step out the shower. He grabs two towels and hands one to me so I can dry myself. I walk over to the mirror and wipe some of the steam off to see the huge hickey Scott left on my neck. I look at him through the mirror to see the smug look in his eyes as he walks past me and into the bedroom.
I follow him to see him walk into the closet and rummages through a drawer for something. He walks back with two pairs of underwear and hands the smaller pair to me. “I think I have something that should somewhat fit you for tomorrow.” He says softly to me as I slip into his underwear.
I smile at him and walk towards his bed but stop before I reach it to turn to him. “Can the others come share the bed with us? It’s that I haven’t slept in a bed without my wolves or birds in a long time and it helps me feel more comfortable.” I say shyly to Scott and end up looking at the floor in slight embarrassment. He walks over to me and lifts my head up with his finger under my chin. He kisses me gently on my lips before answering. “Of course my little elf. Do not feel embarrassed about asking for what you need. We are your family now, and we take care of our own.” He says with conviction and so much love that I blink back tears I feel coming on.
He walks to the door and opens it to calls for Jackson and Danny. They come to the door and talk to Scott about sleeping in the room. They agree happily and walk into the room in nothing but their underwear. I blush slightly which gets a chuckle from Danny as he is the first to reach me. “Don’t worry little one. You will be very comfortable with us like this after the full moon comes.” He says softly to me and kisses my forehead as he climbs into the bed behind me. I huff lightly at the nickname because I swear I am not that little.
I turn to the bed and crawl in and lay besides Danny towards the middle but on the left side of the bed. The other two crawl into the bed with Scott behind me and Jackson behind Danny. Danny turns his head to kiss Jackson before reaching out for one of my hands. Scott had one of his legs between mine and his arm was stretched out past me and on Danny. Jackson did the same and rested his arm on my ribs and we all went sleep right after everyone was comfortable.
The next morning I woke to being surrounded by heated bodies and one body that was slightly colder than the others. I open my eyes slowly to see Scott more on top of me, Danny practically up against my front and Jackson mostly on top of him. I smile at this because this is some of the best sleep I can remember having in such a long time.
There was a loud knock on the door before it opened to reveal Peter and Chris fully dressed. “Okay people time to get up. We have a lot to do and I think we just got a mission so everyone has ten minutes.” Peter spoke to the room. The wolves jumped up as me and Danny slowly sat up. I smiled at everyone before getting up and walking towards Scott’s bathroom to relieve myself.
After that I walk to the sink as Scott walks in the use the bathroom as well. I look myself over in the mirror as Scott flushes the toilet and comes to wash his hands. He reaches under the sink and pulls out a toothbrush out and hands it to me. I take it with a smile on my face as I begin to brush my teeth. Scott follows suit as he stands behind me. I spit what’s in my mouth and rinse my mouth as Scott leans over me to spit in the sink. He places his toothbrush in a cup on the counter, to which I follow suit, and we both walk out of the bathroom.
He walks into the closet and I follow only to stop at the doorway and lean to watch Scott pick an outfit out. He looks over at me before licking his lips. I bit my bottom lip in response which earns a growl from him. He pulls a pair of jeans out of a drawer and finds a t-shirt in a different drawer. He walks over to me with both articles of clothes in one hand.
When he reaches me, he grabs my chin and somewhat crashes our lips together like my lips hold the answer to all life’s problems. I moan into the kiss and open my mouth when his tongue licks across the seam of my lips. Once he pulls away from me, I am breathless, panting and flushed red. He smiles smugly at me before holding the clothes to me.
I take them from him and place them on the bed before turning back to him and tackling him to the ground. I am only currently wearing a pair of underwear, as is he, as we grind against each other. He growls and flips us over as we hit the ground so that I am laying under him but he uses his hands to cushion my head from the ground. Our lips crash together as we hit the ground and he takes charge of the entire affair.
He proceeds to grind into me with some force and begin to chew on my neck until there is someone clearing their throat from behind us. Scott huffs into my neck before getting off me and helping me up from the floor. We look to see Peter standing there with a smirk on his face. “Seems you two might need to be monitored until the full moon comes around.” He says with a look towards Scott.
I smile innocently towards Peter as I walk to the clothes I left on the bed. I get dress in the clothes Scott gave me and Scott does the same in his own clothes. I turn to see Peter watching us with a calculating look in his eyes. He eyes look between Scott and I before leveling Scott with a serious look. Scott looks up to see Peter staring at him and he shakes his head yes which broke the look Peter had on his face. He lifted his hand to check the time on his watch before speaking to us. “If you are certain then we will perform the ceremony during the true full moon tomorrow night. Tonight is our usual run so we will see what happens then move from there.” He speaks to Scott but I tilt my head to the side. Scott kisses my cheek before speaking softly in my ear. “You will understand later.”
Chapter 10: Shopping and New Life Styles
Scott kisses my cheek before speaking softly in my ear. “You will understand later.”
I shrug my shoulders and walk up to Peter who looks us over before nodding his head approvingly. “Before we leave you should apply your glamour.” Peter tells me which I nod my head and let the image take over. I open my eyes to see Peter smiling back at me.
He turns on his heel, heads out of the room and I follow behind him with Scott right besides me. “We will be going to the shopping district in our lovely town here and buy you an entire wardrobe. This will include all manners of clothing. That means we will be getting you jeans, t-shirts, pants, workout clothes and many more. I hope you can handle this Little One.” Peter speaks to me which causes me to giggle because he obviously is underestimating me or he really plans on shopping that much.
I shrug my shoulders and continue to follow Peter as he walks to the front door where Chris is standing with keys in his hands. Peter walked up to him, grabs the keys and kisses his cheek. “We will be back in a few hours. Make sure the house is still standing. Also let me know if we get an assignment.” Peter told Chris as he opens the door and walks out to one of the cars parked out front.
I follow behind him and wave goodbye to Chris as I exit the front door. We walk up a nifty looking car that’s blood red and black. Peter gets into the driver side and Scott opens the back door for me. I get in and he gets besides me as Peter starts the car. We drive away from the house at a fast speed as Peter flies down the road.
He pulls up in front of a store and the next 4 hours were spent walking from store to store as Peter had me try on article of clothing after another. There was a small break for a small lunch and then he had me back into another store trying on another set of clothes.
He would occasionally ask me for my opinion about some clothes and about whether they irritated my skin. He then told me that he researched that certain material irritated elf’s skin. I hid my face as a blush creeps up my cheeks from him taking the time to research that kind of information.
Scott walks up and kisses my cheek and whispers into my ear. “I told you that we take care of our own.” I smile brightly to see Peter watching me with amusement until something of his makes a chiming sound. He pulls out a device from the back pocket of his pants and reads it.
He must’ve caught my staring because he looks between the device and my face before speaking. “This is a cell phone and we will need to get you one soon Little One. On that note, Scott we apparently have a new assignment so we need to cut this trip shorter than normal.” He says to Scott as he walks back up to us from talking to an employee of the store we were currently standing in for this moment. “Did he tell you what the assignment was?” Scott asks Peter as he wraps a arm around me.
He looks down at the device before looking back up. “Danny says that it’s a hit mission again.” He responds with an eye roll. Scott laughs at this and turns to kiss my head. “Let us head home then so we can read the mission briefing.” Peter announces to us and turns towards the exit of the store. “What about all that we bought today?” I ask Scott. “They will be delivered to our house later today.” Was a response from Peter instead as he walks out the door.
I shrug my shoulders and continue to follow Peter with Scott walking right next to me. We arrive at the house to Chris opening the door as we pull up to the house. I walk into the house to see Jackson and Danny sitting on a couch, relaxing while watching a show on a screen. “Hey Little One.” Danny says to me with a smile on his face as Jackson turns to wave at us. I blush and wave back which earns me a giggle from Danny.
“Okay lets get this meeting started because it’s the first night of the full moon and I don’t appreciate that they sent us this mission.” Peter calls from another room of the house. Scott pulls me to what I believe to be one of the offices, sits in one of the plush seats and pulls me into his lap to sit. I get comfortable and rest my head on his shoulder as Peter begins the meeting.
Chapter 11: Let’s Get To Work
He sits in a grand chair behind a desk with Chris leaning against the side of the desk and his arms crossed across his chest. Danny was seated at a sofa with a device in his lap and his fingers were flying across the keys of the device. Jackson was perched on the arm of the sofa next to Danny with me and Scott in a plush chair on the other side of the office space.
Peter lifts the report and reads it to himself before speaking out loud to the rest of us. “Apparently the guys in B.P.R.D need help clearing out an abandoned building of a nest of goblins, which means that there is an ogre hiding somewhere in the building.” He finishes with a sigh as he slumps into his seat. “The building in question is an abandoned hospital which means that there is probably something else really nasty crawling around in there.” Danny pipes up from his seat as he never picks his head up from the screen.
Jackson reaches down to run his fingers through Danny’s hair which gets him to look up from his device to look around. Chris reaches for the paper Peter was looking over and starts to read it. “It seems that they are sending in Hellboy and Abraham as personnel on the scene but they are asking for 3 members from our team.” Chris speaks out loud to us as he hands the paper back to Peter.
Peter’s eyes sweep across the room for a second before he appears to make a decision. “We all are going. Danny, Chris and Little One are the ones I want to comb through the building looking for other things that does not pertain to the goblins. I want the wolves and I to deal with the goblins with the B.P.R.D., and if possible, I want all of us to meet up before we completely reach the heart of the nest.” Peter announces to room.
His makes eye contact with each of us before looking up to Chris who shakes his head. “Okay. Let's get moving people. I want Danny and Little One to get there before us. It is currently around 7 o’clock at night and the report says that they want to start the operation at 9:30 pm. I want you two there so that when the rest of us show up the operation will just begin. That way we can finish this job quickly and get on with out usual run for tonight.” Peter announces to us which causes a slight whine from the wolves.
Danny closes his device and stand up to kiss Jackson before walking off out of the room. He stops at the door to the office to look back at me. I kiss Scott on the lips and he wraps his arms around my waist as we kiss before letting me get up. I stand to follow Danny as we walk away from the room. “What do I bring and do I have to wear the glamour?” I ask as Danny leads me to the basement. “Honestly all we need to bring is some equipment so that we can fully understand the situation at the site while everyone else will be bringing the rest of the needed equipment for the mission. Our other job is to make contact with those on site to make the arrival of the others smoother. I would say that for the start of the mission you should wear the glamour but as we get closer to starting the mission you can drop the glamour.” Danny explains as he gathers a couple devices into a bag as I stand and watch him work. I whine slightly because I don’t wanna wear a glamour which earns me a giggle from Danny who kisses my forehead and walks past me. I apply the glamour and follow him.
We take a small, two door car and drive it for what felt like forever before stopping next to an area that held a tent. I follow Danny out of the car and around inside the tent. The clock on the wall said that it was 8:00 which means that the others won’t be here for the next hour and a half.
I watch as Danny walks up to a group of people and begin talking to them. I stop paying attention and look around the tent because there are so many things going on here. There are screens with images of the area surrounding the building and some images of the inside of the buildings.
I watch the screens that show the surrounding area and notice there is large red man and an aquatic looking man with blue skin on one of the screens. Danny is still talking to someone but he goes to leave out the tent but calls for me to follow him. I follow behind him keeping my glamour up because there is still sunlight out.
Danny leads us to a side of the building and this side looks oddly familiar to me. When we round the corner, I see why it looks familiar when a giant red man comes into view. Danny walked up to him with a smile upon his face as he greets the people before us. “Hellboy! Long time no see. How are you guys?” Danny says energetically to the large man now known as Hellboy.
The large man turns around to look at us and the first thing I notice is the filed down horns on his forehead. I tilt my head and make an inquisitive noise in my throat but don’t voice my question. “If it isn’t the little hawk. What brings you here and who is your pointed ear friend?” He asks Danny but I decide to take the moment to introduce myself. “Hello Hellboy. My name is Riall and the ears are because I’m an elf. We’re here because your company asked our pack for assistant in the mission at hand. Some of us are here to make sure that nothing else goes wrong today.” I say to him with a sweet smile on my face.
I play up the niceness and cuteness to fool them because I don’t need everyone to know how strong I truly am. Hellboy laughs loudly when I finish talking which sets my nerves on edge. “No offense but you look like you can barely hold my gun kid.” He bellows to me which causes me to roll my eyes at him.
Danny looks at his watch before tapping my shoulder. I look at him for him to direct my attention off to the side of the road where a car pulls up. Peter and Chris exits the front seats while Scott and Jackson exits the back seats. Peter goes around to the trunk of the car, opens it and pulls a large rolling case out of it. I tilt my head to the side and look at the case which I guess Danny saw because he leaned over to whisper in my ear. “That case holds some weapons for Chris and I.” I nod in understanding as Scott and Jackson approach us.