A Dark Alliance - 1 | iii

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The four had led the charge to the bloodbath. From above Ava floated over them—a dark blanket made of mist. She absorbed the twisted souls of Sven's men making more magic for Marx and the others. She gave the men and women on her side each the strength of a hundred men to fight the hundreds of gnashing teeth and razor sharp claws that came at them in a haze of fur and fury. They had never seen these werewolves before. Made of the darkest souls, she was yet to encounter in this world; their creation should have been impossible. However, here they were—hundreds of them with one singular purpose to kill all those who opposed their alpha.

As she absorbed the souls into herself, she felt the dark stain of them spreading, setting roots inside her very being. A soul defined its host and taking the souls of murderers and rapists was starting to have its effects. She could feel her mind clouding, bloodlust stirring within her. She held on to Daniel as an anchor so she would not lose herself in the midst of all this. As soon as this fight was over, she would purge herself of them. Ava, however, could not honestly deny the intoxicating feel of the rush. To have that much power back after so long was exhilarating. It reminded her of a time when only a few could rival her power. She knew the risk of taking on the life forces without her stone to stabilize her but the power...

Focus, she felt the words more than heard them.

A slight tinge of guilt tried to form, but she pushed it aside. She had free rein on Daniel's mind. He allowed her to roam there as she pleased but he...he could never see all the corners of her own. There were secrets in the dark pieces she kept from him. Secrets she knew the others would not be pleased to hear. She had already given away one piece of the puzzle to her past, and she was holding on to the rest.

Are you? She pushed her response back into Daniel's mind.

With her renewed strength, Ava created a link between the allies. A telepathic link allowed the werewolves to communicate with the Natives and their two human counterparts without them having to take their human forms. For Penny, however, no connection was possible using shadow magic. Neither could it boost her as it had the others. Not that she needed it. She was strong, she was fast, and she was merciless like a machine. And another puzzle for them all to solve.

***

The Natives held auras shaped like werewolves around them like a force field. It glowed orange-gold there in the midst of battle. Marx marveled at this as he marveled at the sheer brute force of the once frail little human who had attracted the wrong kind of attention. He was happy to see her, but in the same thought, he was concerned. She had changed. Setting aside the fact that she was a werewolf now, she was a darker version of herself. What she had done to the manor and what she was doing now—she had changed on a much deeper level.

"How long will your shadow be able to keep this up?" Roan asked Marx. They looked up at the low-hanging mist over their heads. Some of the opposing werewolves jumped to get purchase, but their hands could grasp at nothing.

It was a thought Marx had had himself. "Let us not draw it out to find out."

They went right back into the fight. While Marx fought, he searched for Shea. Barabbas was among them, and he was concerned about the two meeting. He had a sinking feeling they already had.

Daniel came over to Marx. "Ava is losing hold of her control. We need to get this done now."

Marx looked out at the werewolves still around him fighting. "Does she have the power now to take them all out?"

Daniel's gaze went off to the side as if listening to something. He looked back at Marx. "She says yes."

Ava's form came back together again as she moved down into the center of the fight. All who tried to attack her got nothing but mist.

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