“Trolls?” Lilly's eyebrows rose.

“Surely you realize there are more supernaturals than just the ones you know about, little one.”

Lilly shrugged. “Doesn’t mean it’s not still freakish.”

“Thea, that was my brother’s mate, was hell bent on uniting us and creating an alliance with the trolls. My brother warned her to stay out of the council business, but that only spurred her on. She sought out the leader of the trolls to try and speak with him, but it wasn’t the leader she met in the mountain that day.” Cypher paused and thought back to that day. He could still see Thea walking away from him after he had told her that as her King her forbid her to seek out the trolls. He had seen the defiance in her eyes and knew that she wouldn’t listen. If only he had followed her, if only he had told his brother sooner. He was drawn from the memories by a warm hand on his arm. He looked down at Lilly, her eyes full of understanding. It gave him the courage to continue.

“She came to me, imploring me to see reason, those were her words. I told her that she was not to go, but something in her eyes told me she would defy me. I had met with the leader of the trolls and I knew that he wouldn’t hurt her. He was actually an honorable male, but like any leader, he not only had loyal followers, but corrupt followers as well. I figured he would walk her back to their keep, all the while sporting a dubious smile, chuckling at her innocence. And, he would have, had it been him who had met her. But, when she went to the troll mountain, she was met by two of the trolls that spoke out against the peace between their races. They saw an opportunity to destroy that peace. She never had a chance. And, they succeeded in destroying the peace. The enmity between warlocks and trolls still exist to this day. I can’t even describe the things they did to her. I should have followed her. It was my job, as her King to protect her, even if it was from herself.”

Lilly shook her head. “It was your brother’s job, and even then, she had free will. Regardless of the outcome and how horrible, Thea made that choice. I don’t say that to be mean, but you cannot take responsibility for her choice.”

Cypher couldn’t believe that he didn’t see condemnation in her eyes, but instead saw understanding and empathy. He didn’t deserve it. Regardless of what Lilly said, she didn’t understand the responsibility he had for his race. He had failed to protect that which was most precious to his brother and he had known she would go. When he and his brother had found her body, he had lost it. His torment and pain were so tangible that Cypher felt it in his soul. As soon as the shock wore off he had turned on Cypher. He could hear the words reverberating in his mind, a broken record of endless truths.

“You are our King; you knew what she would do! You should have come to me! You should have warned me. This is your doing; her blood is on your hands.” His brother screamed at him. All Cypher had been able to do was bow his head in defeat. He fell to his knees in shame at the truth behind his brother’s words. He allowed his brother to beat him until his closest guards saved him from his brother’s wrath. He wanted to die, wanted his brother to kill him. It was what he deserved. The council locked his brother up until they felt he was no longer a threat. But, Cypher knew that if his brother were given the chance he would kill him. Time passed, years, decades, centuries, and still, there had been no word from him.


He realized that Lilly had been saying his name while he was remembering that horrible day. His vision refocused on her and he smiled at the determination in her face.

“It’s not your fault. Say it with me,” she coaxed.

Cypher shook his head. “I’m sorry love, but this time it is.”

Lilly could see that nothing she would say was going to change his mind. She knew when to back off. Now, was not the time, but the day would come when she would make him understand.

“So, what now?” she asked him.

Cypher looked over at Cyn. “Do you know how my brother could have gotten the drahiem in this realm?

Cyn frowned as she thought. “It’s actually quite a surprise to me that he was able to get them to cross through a veil. They are very suspicious animals.”

"Do you know anything about drahiem, like any weaknesses they might have?” Lilly asked.

The expression on Cyn’s face did not look promising. “There are very few things that can kill one and they aren’t the friendliest of beasts."

“You don’t say?” Lilly laughed, sardonically. Cyn continued as if Lilly hadn’t spoken.

“Your brother appears to have convinced them to serve him as guards. This is a mystery to me. Their skin is thicker than leather, nearly impenetrable. If that weren’t enough it reflects light so that a glare that blinds their opponents. It is like water being hit just right by the sun, it can be blinding. Their eyes have a clear sheath that slides into place when they are in battle, their tails are lined with deadly spikes and their mouths excrete a poison when it pierces flesh that causes paralysis.” Cyn explained, dryly as if she weren’t describing a near indestructible foe.

Lilly thought for a moment, going over the description that Cyn had just given them. Her brow furrowed as she considered it.

“Wait,” she said, stepping towards Cyn. “You said its skin is near impenetrable. That means that it isn’t impossible, it can be done.” Lilly’s eyes filled with a small amount of hope.

“Is there some sort of weapon that can get through their thick skin?” Cypher asked.

Cyn looked grim.

“Why do I think this is going to be some other impossible task that could most likely get us killed?” Lilly asked, wryly.

Lilly nearly laughed when the corners of Cyn’s mouth tipped up in an almost smile.

“There is one weapon that can kill them. It is an arrow made of a special metal that is only forged by…”

“The elves,” Cypher interrupted, ominously.

Cyn nodded. “The elves,” she agreed.

Lilly held up her hands as her eye brows rose. “Wait one second. Elves?” She shook her head and let out a frustrated breath. “I know now why my daughter and her friends are constantly using words like bloody hell, shut up, and mother of pearl.”

Cypher tilted his head to the side as he watched his mate.

Lilly looked over at him at laughed at his confused face.

She waved him off. “Don’t ask. Okay, so exactly how many supernatural species are there?”

Tags: Quinn Loftis The Grey Wolves Young Adult
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