Death and Shadows - 2 | iii

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The allies gathered when they were the only ones left. The hill laid in rubbles, Anabella's cleaners taking care of the bodies.

Marx had expected a more cordial meeting, but the three vampires stood some distance from him. All their gazes and loathing aimed at Ava. He was missing a big part of the story, as the three seemed to know her. Their collective hate was so strong he could almost taste it. As the werewolves took their human forms, clothes fashioned around them. Courtesy of a runic symbol, that Ava had imprinted on their skin during the fight. Along with that rune was another that helped the werewolves to communicate when in their wolf form.

"What is the meaning of this?" Marx asked.

"There will be no alliance with that murderer," Philippe pointed towards Ava.

Daniel moved to stand at Ava's side ever the protective mate. Marx wondered when he was going to learn that the woman had no need for protection. On the other hand, he understood the urge to protect one's mate whether they needed it or not.

"She has saved our lives many times over," Marx said. "We would not have stopped Sven without her help."

"And there would be no Sven if it hadn't been for her." Anabella made a move towards Ava, but Vescovi stopped her.

As hostility built between the vampires on one side and the Natives and werewolves on the other, Ava stepped into the middle of them. Daniel tried to follow, but she stopped him.

"My name," she started, "is Avana Le Granc Dubes, Queen, and Head of the Order of Shadows. I..." she faltered. Ava took a moment to compose her thoughts staring into space. "I started the war between the shadows and the vampires and werewolves. It was on my orders that my people revolted. We wanted to have more power. Not over any of you, we wanted power over ourselves. We wanted everything you all had that we could not have. We thought—I thought that you cheated us out of things you all took for granted. You treated us like second-class citizens, like slaves for your amusement. We were looked down on and treated like we were nothing," she said bitterly.

She looked down at her hands. "The more of your souls we took, the more substantial our forms became. The stronger we became. The more we started to feel the emotions we craved. When you created us, it was without corporal bodies, and we wanted that. We wanted to be touched. To be and feel love. We were created empty and taking," she closed her eyes, "taking your souls made us whole."

"Y-you started this?" Marx asked.

Ava nodded. "I was angry, and I was bitter, and I fed on the hurt of my people to turn them. To make them fight my war."

Marx's voice tightened. "But you said you were an outcast."

Ava nodded again. "I was. After the vampires had left, the war went on with the werewolves. They had remained behind to fight us. My husband—Kunz Le Granc Dubes wanted to follow the vampires here. I told him we only needed one world—our world. Nevertheless, he—he wanted everything. Soon some of the shadows started to rethink their position in the war as they were, in essence, killing their families. Kunz turned on them. He resorted to making them his mindless puppets so they would not question his orders. I did not want that, and so we fought.

"I lost my stone and with it full control of my powers. I cannot..." Ava stopped herself. "I could not stop him from harming my people, so I did the only thing I could think to do. After the last of the werewolves had gone through the portal, I followed them through, and I sealed it. I stopped him from coming to this world but then I-I was stuck here... forever. And my people—they were stuck with him."

"You had my family murdered," Anabella screamed.

Ava hung her head. "I-I created two monsters. All this is my blame to take."

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