As he dragged the wee goddess outside, Dubric debated within in himself: tell her or not tell her? If he told her—exposed the fact that Death himself had sent him to stop her—he risked her fleeing and disappearing into the ether. But if he didn't spill the beans, how did he explain his need to be near her, to follow her and stop her? Still debating the issue, he turned to confront her on the small path outside Van Hall. What he saw completely derailed, crashed, and exploded his train of thought. The rising sun illuminated her face and softened her features. Upon seeing her so, his sucked-in breath forcibly burst from him. A part of him, a part he had thought long forgotten, bellowed "MINE."The Instinct was back, and the intensity of it staggered Dubric. Over the millennia, it had faded becoming quieter and less frequent, until a few months after he entered Death's employment, it disappeared all together.
"Mine, mine, mine" it chanted over and over again as it clawed in his chest. Suddenly, there was too much space between the two of them. He needed to touch her, see if her skin was as soft as it looked. He was at her side without consciously realizing what was happening. Gently, he cupped her cheek, slowly rubbing his thumb back and forth. As the pain of pins and needles—indicative of his blood supply being cut off—slowly spread from his fingers, he recalled himself. He quickly withdrew his hand and took the step back he hadn't realized he'd taken in the first place.
Kiandra arched an eyebrow at him, clearly waiting for an explanation. He racked his brain for an answer that wouldn't send her to the hills, but none came. Time for plan two—distract with randomness.
"Is that bat I smell on you?" he blurted out. The question obviously threw her, but she answered nevertheless.
"Yes, Nix had one of the little creatures, some sort of weird soothsayer pet. It was squished between us as we hugged." Now obviously curious, she lifted part of her shirt to her nose and inhaled. Unsatisfied, she let her shirt drop. "I guess the Lykae nose must be as good as legend has it. I smell nothing."
"You'll find most things about us live up to legend," he said with a slight smile, a smile that she missed given that she was still contemplating her shirt.
Seeming to make a decision, she pulled out a band of leather from her pocket and held it under Dubric's nose. "Do you smell anything?" she asked.
Seeing what Dubric assumed was hope in her eyes, he reached out to hold her hand and the leather still. He let out a small breath and then inhaled deeply.
"I smell much, which one are you curious about?" he inquired. He continued to stare down into her face without relinquishing her hand.
"I'm not sure really. I have heard his scent described as incense. Got any of that?"
"Yes, it's the strongest one. Who is he?" Dubric fought with himself to not growl out the last question. While the logical part of his brain assured him that he was only her brother, his newly awakened instinct screamed that he could be another man, a lover even. If the latter was the case, the man would soon find himself bereft of a head.
"Brother," Kiandra responded without hesitation. "Long estranged. I am trying to find him…was trying to find him at the rock concert too. Don't suppose you could follow his trail?"
"Yes, I could." He could see her wheels turning.
She broke eye contact, and only then seemed to realize that his hand still engulfed hers. She tugged. Dubric let her hand slide from his grasp. She toyed with the leather strip for a moment.
"Oh gods, this is such a bad idea" she mumbled. Then, lifting her eyes back to his, she inquired, "Will you help me track him down?"
Dubric couldn't believe his luck. She just supplied him with the reason that he so desperately needed. But, he couldn't give in too easily lest he frighten her.
"Why should I?" he replied, trying to keep his cool.
"I'm surprised. Given that you appear to have been stalking me, I would've thought you'd have jumped at the chance to be near me."
"Maybe I just wanted to get even. Your attack on me did quite a number."
"Really, we're back to that again? You Lyakes know how to hold a grudge."
"You did kill me."
"You did try to abduct me. I claim self defense."
"I'll give you that, but you didn't have to kill me."
"Oh, what else could I have done? I seriously lack your height or your build. Physically overpowering you is completely out of the question. And, as I have no claws or fangs, getting your attention that way was also a no-go. I did what I had to. Now are you going to help me or not?"
"Yes, fine. But we need to go somewhere that he's been more recently. The only trace of his scent here is from that bracelet you carry."
"The last time I saw him was at the concert. Do you think you could track his scent from there?"
"It's worth a try I suppose, though that was almost a week ago and any trace left is going to be hard to follow."
"Then, there is no time to lose," Kiandra said with purpose. She turned on her heels and marched back up to Van Hall. Seeing no choice, he followed her, not sure how going back inside sped up their travel. His car—an Aston Martin One-77—sat gleaming down the street. Surely, his car was the fastest way to get to the airport.
Dubric entered the house just as Emmaline brought a glass of water into the war room. A spot had been cleared amongst all the maps and books. That was where she set the glass. Kiandra stood waiting for him next to the table and the glass.
"Come on then," she said as she gestured for him to come over to her.
"Why?" Dubric asked with his brow wrinkled. "I thought we were in haste. My car awaits outside. I assure you it is very fast."
"However fast your car may be, it doesn't top my method of travel," she replied and gestured to the glass with a nod of her head. It still didn't makes sense, how did a glass of water? Oh, that did make sense. Kiandra is the Goddess of Water.
"We are traveling via water?"
"That small glass of water?"
"You are sure we will fit?"
"Of course, just as Mariketa uses mirrors as portals, I, too, use water. Now, stop being such a wuss and come on."
"I dunno. This still strikes me as completely wrong." Dubric eyed the innocuous glass of water with apprehension. He couldn't see how they were going to fit.
"It's not that bad actually," Lachlain's voice rumbled from the doorway. He leaned against the frame watching their exchange with a smile. "Sure, you feel like you are dissolving, but you coagulate on the other side."
"Bloody great," Dubric muttered.
"So you're ready then? Good," interjected Kiandra in an attempt to stave off any further objections. "Now, come here. A firm grip is best. Wrap your arms around my waist and hold on."
Dubric did as he was told. Almost immediately, the world began to slowly fade to black around him. And as the light receded, he couldn't help himself from alternately cursing the gods for his fate and fervently praying for their divine intervention.