At Jukai, Corey the red beast shaman skipped up onto the narrow mountain wall with ease. Laughing at his tall mate left a bit behind. "We all got left behind..." he sang again then laughed. He started to adapt to the place and the tick magic, and that improved his skills more. Once again skipping from tree branch to tree branch and up on an almost vertical cliff was to him like walking to others. His sensing sharpened as well and he couldn't shrug the feeling of being followed by that strange black round 'cloud' or something.
"I won't let this build up inside of me..." Jim teased back from “Vermillion” instead of going off his hinges from Corey singing that song again. He kept following the others and simply rolled his eyes on his mate "jumping" around like a spider monkey. The teasing little shit did a good job to... well, tease the tall man with all kinds of tricks, but when he was actually moving around on the ground, Jim made sure to get right up behind him or pull him back against his broad chest when Corey got too close to some slippery cliff edges. So yes, two could play this game and since their mating things seemed to be a bit easier for both of them. Like always.
But this time their senses were sharper and their powers more restless, probably because the rest of their powers were starting to awaken like the other Corey had told them earlier. Jim could feel it too and thanks to the bond, he could always peek on what his mate was feeling so he was aware of that "black mass" too. Maybe we should mention it to our hosts, he wondered, sending that thought to Corey too through the bond.
Yeah, maybe, Corey thought too. Though he couldn't believe that these local "chosen protectors of the place" couldn’t notice such a big dark object following them. He decided he would mention it once they arrived to... wherever they were going. It seemed like they have been climbing for half the day. Not that he minded. He had fun teasing his mate.
And as he felt and saw, the other mated pair was in their element too. Since he mated with Jim, they could do better at the morning trainings too, and Corey's curiosity had grown to learn more from these demons and their skills.
Agreeing to Corey's silent decision, Jim didn't mention it to the other demons either. He rather kept teasing his mate back, for example while climbing – when the red beast was on the ground – he sometimes helped to push Corey up, grabbing and squeezing his ass or thick thighs here and there, but made sure not to overdo it, because... well, stopping for another mating would probably piss off the others, no matter how the other pair seemed to be on the same wavelength as they were.
Jim found the protectors interesting and during the time they have spent travelling with them, he got kinda friendly with them. The other Corey was fun to be around too, especially when they started talking about playing guitars. Into that conversation Paolo could join too as he played bass in their band.
But no matter how a friendship kind of thing was forming between them (even between his mate and the guys), Jim wanted to find a way to go home. To see how their son was doing. He was worried about Pauly the most. Jim was sure that their disappearance was the hardest on the boy who – despite being a shaman like Corey – was a lot like the tall demon in nature. He sometimes had awful nightmares about the enemy mercilessly slaughtering their "weakened" clan. It wasn't good for his anxiety, but luckily he had his Corey to help him calm down before something more serious happened.
Now they were finally nearing that village Matt had told them about. It was one of the outposts they usually stayed at for a week or two before moving on to continue their wanderer life. They were true nomads, always on the move. But it was no wonder since Jukai's forest was vast and filled with all kinds of magic and danger.
As they were climbing up on the side of a smaller and less steep hill, Jim thought he'd seen something white from the corner of his eye. Turning his head towards the tree line, he didn't see anything, but he kept his hand on the handle of a dagger as they continued their way. The next time the same thing happened, to his surprise, Jim saw a slightly glowing white fox-like creature watching him by a tree.
"We have company..." he murmured loud enough for the others to hear.
"Yeah… They’ve been following us ever since we climbed up here," the beast nodded towards the flashing up white daze of the skipping along fox-like creatures hidden in the thick bushes.
The Grays followed the Jukai demons a little bit from behind. As Corey put it, it was because they had to wait till big Jimmy pulled his big ass up the cliff. Of course he was joking. He loved Jimmy's big ass!
They were talking between each other about the situation they got into. And probably because of that they weren't paying attention to the shadows lurking around them as the shining creatures left them behind.
It was already dusk and the faded colors of that place still managed to trick their eyes. The discussion and the good-natured banter between the demons from Earth went on, so when the foggy path between the trees narrowed, the danger came out of nowhere. Their senses alerted them, but it was too late and two ghouls jumped in front of them and blew some kind of white powder into the air, right in front of the three demons' faces.
Coughing Jim threw a knife, but it ended up in a tree trunk instead of the quickly moving ghoul with the white skin smeared with dried blood here and there.
"What the fuck?" he asked then coughed some more, trying to wave the powder away from his face and focus on the enemy despite his sudden dizziness. He felt a bit disoriented as the three of them stood back-to-back with their weapons in hand. "Show yourselves, cowards!" he yelled, straining his eyes and ready to attack.
Corey and Jay were blinded the same way. Backing towards each other with their swords ready for action and coughing up the powder, only seeing glimpses of the ghouls with some kind of pointy sticks (really??? sticks?) and something like a long thick chain coming to attack them. Luckily Jay was a well-trained guard and following his instincts he stroke aside with his sword and from the sound wounded one of the creatures. Corey, having enough from the smoke in his eyes, jumped up on the tree trunk next them for a clearer view and connected with Jim to tell him where to throw his knives. "Fucking shits!" the beast demon grumbled and jumped right behind three of the white-skinned ghouls, cutting down two fast.
The connection between them proved to be useful again, because it made it easier for Jim to throw his knives and stars, even if not all hit a ghoul. He could still barely see and what he could were just blurry lines or more ghouls. He tried to focus on his breathing and not panicking.
It was a bit hard, especially when he thought he saw someone like Pauly being dragged behind a tree by one of the ghouls. "What the fuck? Pauly?" he frowned, his mind trying to make sense of what he was seeing.
"Focus, Jim! I can sense that they use some kind of fungus to mess up your brain. Jay, only rely on your powers," Corey yelled at them as he scanned the area with his power. He now started to understand why the demons here in such foggy atmosphere used their powers more than other weapons.
Finding Jim quickly, he put away one sword and took his mate's hand in his. "Think about our power and how it blasts out when we mate. Try it, babe!"
"Now that makes sense..." Jim mumbled to himself, trying to focus while letting Corey take his hand.
Meanwhile Jay was trying to do the same, his powers concentrating in his arms and as he visualized his attack and swirled his swords, some golden energy ran along his blades and hit two attacking ghouls right in the chest.
The mated pair tried to concentrate harder while Jay kept the ghouls off their backs as much as he could. Like when we mate, Jim thought to himself, trying to bring back that overwhelming feeling. The memory was strong, that feeling burned into his every pore during the years and he found himself reaching out for Corey with his powers, starting to create that lilac energy that usually burst out of them in the moment of their orgasm. Now they just had to figure out a way to build it up and make it the same without the sex part.
"Good, babe. Try to focus the power. Like... control it… Like press it together into a ball." All what the other Corey had told them earlier and the beast ignored, let's face it, rather childishly, now he repeated. Also he noticed that Jay had learned the trick during his boredom as he had to hear all the lessons too.
Using his power as a shaman and having blasted it out of his body before, he knew a bit about such skills already. Mainly from his own experiences as a slaved hunter. But still now as he felt Jim turning his power force into some kind of a swirling ball with his, he figured he would try his own method and concentrated on the feeling he has when he blasts his power at others with his yell. Pressing his lips together and trying to get to that part of his mind, he recalled the same explosion of their matings. He raised his free hand and the lilac energy swiped the fog and the ghouls – even Jay – away with a hurricane-like blast. Just when Matt and the others arrived running along with those glowing foxes.
Jim was trying to do as Corey suggested, a few sweat drops running down on his temples from the concentration. Similar like to what Jay was doing – with the difference that Jim wasn't holding a throwing star or a knife at the moment, just Corey's hand, Jim made that lilac ball of energy manifest in his left and then without thinking, he threw it against a ghoul at the same time as he felt Corey use quite some of their united power with that blast.
Jim's opponent flew back quite a distance until his back hit a tree. After that the creature stumbled away so he could focus on what was going on on the other side. He saw Jay shaking his head and getting up and the Jukai demons – along with those interesting foxes – joined into the fight, quickly chasing away the rest of the already beat up ghouls. Now at least they had some fresh blood on them. Their own.
Matt looked at his mate meaningfully. Yeah, the demon mates from Earth held a huge power indeed, and Corey seemed to be a true offspring of his rare breed. Even if he hasn't accepted it or acknowledged it yet. "Are you all alright? I see the lessons were useful after all. You did well with your powers. All of you," he nodded with respect towards Jay too.
Jay looked smug as he sheathed his swords and picked some dry leaves from his long hair and clothes then shrugged as if saying ‘it was nothing’.
If Jim wasn't too shocked by what he managed to do with their power, he would've rolled his eyes at the younger guardian. But yes, he fought well. Also, the tallest demon was occupied with how his mate was doing. That blast was bigger than anything he'd seen from Corey before. He slid a hand onto the 8 tattoo at Corey's nape on instinct and before saying anything, he turned Cor’s head to look him in the eye. His glowing hazel eyes told volumes to his mate then Jim pecked his lips with the promise of more later.
"Thanks," he finally found his voice as he faced the other demons. "Those lessons were useful," he nodded then looked at the glowing foxes not far from them. Some were skipping around playfully, others were sitting and watching them. "What are those creatures?"
"Kitsune," Paolo stepped closer grinning wide at the really adorable creatures. "They are animal spirits of Jukai. Living with us and helping us protect the villages."
"They have high magical powers and communicate with the whales too," Corey, Matt's mate added.
"Nice," the red beast said leaning back against Jim's taller body and let their powers swirl around them lazily and playful as a reaction to that promise-filled kiss. "That means we are close to your village then?"
While watching Jay carefully walk towards the closest kitsune before crouching down to let the spirit go to him, Jim smiled a bit too, his long arms going around his mate to hold him tight. After all these years and one of the strongest bonds on Earth... err in the universe? ... he still couldn't get bored of touching his mate. He had a feeling he never would.
"They are magnificent," Jim murmured as that one kinda danced around Jay before rubbing its lightly glowing head against the guardian's palm.
"Whoa..." Jay whispered in awe as a wave of energy rushed through him, warming up his side, but not making it itch worse. It was as if the spirits in his tattoo recognized a kindred spirit in the fox.
"They really are," Corey whispered watching his guardian with the magical creature, absently caressing Jim's arm around his middle.
"Let's go, we are indeed close to the village. We can rest and tomorrow I'll take you all to our main shaman," Matt said.
Nodding, the demons followed him as the kitsune skipped around them, following along.
Truthfully, after a few minutes of struggling through the bushes, the foxes led them to a small clearing. Strangely, without the fog or grey sky, it became clear that this place was created with magic and guarded by the animal spirits. The village had a vibe like old pagan villages had on Earth. There were small wooden houses with little gardens where edible plants were grown by the locals. One 'road' led to the gathering place in the middle with a 'town hall' kinda building too. On both sides of that road the houses lined up nicely. Curious kids ran to greet them with even more of the kitsune around. Corey just felt moved with the feeling of familiarity and the knowledge that that faded memory was mostly generated by the stories he’d heard. But maybe he was born in a similar place on Earth.
"You were," Jim mumbled under his nose, reaching out for Corey's hand to squeeze and hold it as he stopped for a moment both from the familiar vibes and sight. This was the first time since they got here that Jim didn't feel like an outsider or the odd one out. The deeper they walked in, the more the whole atmosphere of the village triggered some long forgotten memories in the tall demon.
He saw himself as a kid running around with these children. Past and present kinda blurred together before his eyes and maybe it was the after effect of that ghoul powder, maybe not, but he felt even more moved than his mate. He half-expected a red-haired woman to come out of a hut with a baby on her arm or his own mother calling for him that dinner was ready. Without noticing, silent tears were sliding down from his eyes to disappear in his beard as they were walking hand in hand towards that town hall. "It's like back at home..." Of course without the fox spirits and of course he was talking about the hidden town they both were born in.
Corey had to swallow and he squeezed Jim's hand stronger from all the emotions he felt from his mate. All the sounds, the smells and visuals crept into his very core. Especially the memory Jim had of his mother. He was maybe the only one left of his kind, but not the last from that village. And Jim wasn't alone either, they shared this, the last survivors of the beast shaman's village from Earth. And the feeling how they had been robbed from their childhood and families started a boiling anger inside him. They have to get back and make those who keep trying to hurt them and their families pay.
This time Jim didn't try to calm his mate's anger since he shared that emotion with him too. Wiping his eyes with his free hand, grateful for Corey's support and giving him his too, they took a moment to collect themselves a bit then followed the others. Especially when a bigger kitsune started tugging on his pants to do so.
Smiling down at the playful spirit, Jim kept silent, a bit still lost in his past as they finally got to the building. There was a bigger fire in the middle and an altar by the opposite wall. Matt was already kneeling there, saying a silent prayer to the spirits while lighting then waving something very similar to incense. Jay, Paolo and the bigger Corey were putting their little packs and very few weapons down on some simple "beds" – more like hand-made covers and pillows on the floor.
"Come on," the red Corey tugged on Jim's hand and they got rid of all their stuff, joining the others by the altar. Each thanking their own guiding spirits and the spirits of this land for the safe arrival.
"Come, we’re always welcomed with a feast. I will introduce you to the leaders," Matt said getting up and guiding them outside through a back door where several big tables with food and the other clan leaders awaited them.
Jim nodded to his mate and followed him to the altar. They thanked the spirits too then they all followed Matt through the door, seeing the gathered locals. Of course they were demons too, but from the feel of it, some were from mixed breeds like back in the village Jim and Corey used to live.
At a table opposite from the entrance there was a pretty female demon sitting, keeping her eyes on the approaching group. She was chewing on some fruit while listening to a younger male talking to her until all talking died down.
"Greetings, Stephanie. Let me introduce our guests from Earth. This is Corey, his mate Jim and their guardian, Jay. A spell made them end up in our world and they seek help to get back home."
"Greetings to you all," the woman nodded her head, carrying her piercing eyes over the newcomers. "Please, be seated. I've already heard about you from the others. Can you sum up what got you here and why?"
Letting his mate size up the room and the present demons while they all sat down on comfortable thick pillows by the low tables, Jim started talking, summing up what he already told to the three Jukai demons about the enemy that used magic probably in fear of their power and that as kids they got kidnapped too. The long-haired Corey also mentioned that Jay probably originated from this dimension. To that the drummer started squirming a bit again, especially when Stephanie's said piercing eyes rested on him for a long soul-searching moment.
"Interesting, indeed," she murmured more to herself. The guests could all feel her powers and it told them that she was a strong female and from her presence and looks Jim imagined that she was a firm-handed leader of the village. He knew that back on Earth it wasn't uncommon that clans were led by female demons, surrounded by respect.
"Can I ask about that big ball of black fog that followed us till… almost here actually? Because I'm sure your people could also see and feel it but not seemed to be bothered about it much. So, it's a normal, common thing or something?" the beast shaman from Earth asked, standing the deep searching eyes of the leader female. Indeed, strong females were highly respected for their stronger skills and better learning abilities than most males had. Usually females were who could have mixed skills as shamans and warriors and leaders in one.
Stephanie looked from Corey to the guardian trio. "That again? Hmm... As far as we know, that mass or something is created by the witches of Earth in coproduction with the ghouls from here. The purpose of that, as it seems, is to inform the buyers from Earth about the children available to kidnap. We can't do much about it yet. That's why my men didn't bother with it," she explained. "The Shaman tribe up in the other island's mountains has been working on it for a while now. I think they would be able to help you, if you don't find a way to go back with your own powers. And a personal thing I must: I am sorry about your tribe,” she looked back at Corey. “I've heard what happened to the last survivor family on the other side. I am surprised to see you alive. Sadly, by now even here only a few similar beast clans stayed strong," she ended with a soft sympathetic look addressed to Corey, who got so many questions all of a sudden that he found himself lost for words.
Jay looked absolutely fascinated by the female and the place. From the corner of his eye Jim could watch their guardian drinking in all the details around him. He still felt a bit mixed up, but now more and more curious, as the tall demon could feel, but then Jim’s attention was drawn to both Corey and Stephanie. She had a nice vibe and as they listened to her talking, Jim hoped that they could find a way back home on their own, but knowing that there was an alternative was good.
As Stephanie switched the topic, Jim felt his mate’s mixed up feelings. It surprised (and honored) both of them how the female talked about Corey’s kind (and that little destroyed village). Jim automatically reached out to rest a hand on his mate’s thigh as silent support. Listening to the questions in the red beast’s head, Jim himself wanted to get answers to those and this female leader seemed to finally have some.