As the magical glowing fog slowly cleared up, all Gabrielle could feel was the way Pauly was squeezing her hand. For a long ten-twelve minutes the kids couldn't see anything at all. But when they finally could, it was not much better either. They were still standing on the summoning circle. The runes were no longer lit. It was still rather dark but the sky over them was nothing like they ever saw.
It seemed wherever they ended up at, it was right at the crack of dawn. "Well… We got here. Wherever this place is," the girl stated looking around amazed, feeling the spark of the thrill about a new adventure inside. Well, Pauly thought about it otherwise from the expression the dark-haired boy had on his face.
They were standing on some kind of a platform, seemingly floating on water. In fact there was water almost everywhere. Not far from them they saw a forest with trees which’s side was dark green with thick bushes and mountains with waterfalls.
"Let's go. We will worry later," the blond girl tugged on the boy’s hand and started to drag him onto the narrow path towards the woods.
Pauly sighed after swallowing hard, but let Gabrielle lead him. Yes, this place was amazing but he really tried not to think about the dangers it might hold, or the feeling that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea and they should’ve waited for the adults. But when he thought about his dads and Jay, he followed Gaby with more determined steps. It wasn’t about them. It was about saving those three. He just hoped they’d have a chance to do so. After all, they didn’t know where the hell they were.
They had to watch their steps because the path was uneven and they had to jump onto little slippery grass islands too surrounded by water. Meanwhile Pauly let his powers go a bit to scan their surroundings for other presences, but so far he couldn’t sense anyone around aside from some smaller life forms. Probably fishes and animals. He stomped down on the feeling of being totally lost and let the girl lead him by his hand. He figured it didn’t matter where they were going since any direction was good.
“We should get somewhere higher to look around,” he suggested calmer than he expected his voice to be. Probably Gabrielle’s excited energies had something to do with that.
"I kinda like that waterfall," the girl pointed to the cliff a bit further ahead. "You can feel all the animals around? Be careful," she added and held her crossbow stronger as she led Pauly into the bushes. "Maybe we should switch places. You can cut our way. Come on. Be more fun, male," she giggled at the pained expression the boy had.
Well, he was the 'man' or some shit earth humans liked to over-discuss. The truth was she just wanted Pauly to ease up a bit. After all, the spell they thought out on their own worked. This place was not that bad. It had shelter, possible food sources in the form of fish and such and water. Many, many water... She also knew that Pauly knew what she was thinking about. So she quickly imagined the boy slipping down the slight hill because of the slippery grass.
"Not happening!" Pauly grunted from the mental image and let her hand go, partly to shake off that image and on the other hand to pull out one of his Sai daggers to start cutting the plants ahead that came into their way, although they tried to hurt as few as possible.
"This place is throbbing with life. All around. It's kinda amazing," he said after pausing for a moment to reach out and put his hand over a tree trunk. He didn't even mind the blond girl's banter. He had more than enough time to get used to it.
"Yeah, I just love it," Gaby added exited then bit her lip stopping before Pauly. "Sorry. I'll try to be more focused but can't promise it will happen," she giggled looking around more.
Deeper the forest looked more like a swamp. The green – maybe bamboo… surely they looked like huge bamboo – trees had their roots curling all around above the waterline and even on the ground stood high into the air. "Maybe we should rest a bit at that clearing and think over where and how from here. What you think?"
I know it won't, but I don't mind, with a faint smile the taller boy thought about her trying to be more focused, not minding if Gabrielle heard his thought. He wanted to just pull her into a hug for a moment. After all he's been worried sick for so long and she was the only familiar thing in this strange world.
"Okay... Good idea," he nodded instead and turned towards the direction she pointed out. Seeing that there the undergrowth wasn't so thick, he swirled his dagger absently then sheathed it, but kept an eye out while leading Gaby there. "A bit later we should also check the spirits of this place. Maybe some could help or even guide us, I guess," he checked the roots both with his eyes and some of his power too to make sure they didn't disturb any animal. When all seemed to be clear, he hopped up on one of the huge roots cross-legged. "I guess this is the point where we're gonna improvise, huh?"
"Yeah I guess," Gaby hopped up next to him and hugged him close. "I sense high magical activity around. And it's sort of triggering my powers. You feel it too?"
Pauly kinda leaned into that embrace and pecked her temple, Gaby's familiar presence and scent comforting and calming him down a bit. "Yes, mine too," he lifted a hand and looked at it, some of his still loose blue powers swirling around it. "It's also easier to bring them forth," he added then closed his eyes for a moment, letting himself do a wider seep. "Yes. There are shiny magical spots moving around nearby," he hummed. "I wonder what those are. I don't feel... bad intentions around."
"I will find out!" the girl jumped off the root, holding her weapon and marched toward the darker bushes while bringing forth her powers to locate the magical 'spots'. And totally ignoring the upset snorts of Pauly.
"Hey!" the boy hissed after his snorts didn't work on slowing her down. "It's not wise to run off like this in an unknown forest..." he kept talking low, but loud enough for her to hear. When he didn't get a response, he snorted again. "At least it seems you can cut our way through too..."
Gabrielle just giggled as she used her sword to find the creatures skipping around. This picking on Pauly was at least something familiar to feel for the two of them in this unknown place.
Pulling over a branch she finally saw it. And it made her freeze in her track and her power reach out for the boy. "Hurry over here!"
Pauly was looking around the forest a few feet behind, trying to observe the place some more and gather as much information about it as possible when he heard Gabrielle's voice and power, both calling for him.
It took him no time to get there where she was standing at and after crouching down, he silently gasped for air too. Those magical spots were some fox-like creatures with darkish fur that seemed to lightly glow in the half-lit under bushes. "Wow..."
"Yeah" the girl could only nod as the creatures came closer and connected to their powers. "They are intelligent… Communicating with my powers."
"Yes... I can feel that," Paul nodded and unlike himself he slowly reached out a hand before Gabrielle could even think about it. One of the smaller foxes took it as an invitation and walked closer, his nose pushed into the air as if smelling the offered hand, but the boy had a feeling that it was sizing up his power too.
It seemed the spirit-like fox accepted it, because he bumped his nose against Pauly's wrist as if asking for some strokes. Which he gave the fox, of course. Then he was moving towards Gaby to test her too.
"They are amazing. They are telling me that they're spirits of the forest. So cute too," she said with a little giggle as she petted the fox’s head. "You think they can help us?" It was a good chance. For at least guiding them to a safe path…
"They are talking to you? Wow. I can only feel their emotions and intentions," he whispered, watching Gaby with the fox. He was starting to accept that as a female she might be stronger or more perceptive, sensitive about things, so this time he wasn't pouting about it.
"Well... ask them if they can help us. We have nothing to lose since we have no idea where we are. But we should get going as the night is about to fall, it seems."
"They can understand you, Pauly. And they will guide us to a safe cave for the night," Gabrielle said standing up and smiling at the boy as the foxes started to yelp low and skip before them towards a hidden path into seemingly closed up bushes.
"Awesome," he returned that smile and started walking after the foxes first, just in case, his protective instinct over Gaby working as always. The walk wasn't that long or difficult, they just had to crawl through some bushes and dips, the sounds of that nearby waterfall following them. Climbing up on a barely visible dirt path they saw the entrance of said cave.
Pauly helped to pull the girl up on the last rock then they stood there looking into the blackness. The boy's senses told him that the cave was uninhabited and stepping in after the foxes he could feel that it was dry and had a nice vibe too. "It's perfect. Thank you," he told the spirit animals with a smile then put his backpack and weapons down onto the ground. "We should try to rest."
"Yeah. Let's make some kind of beds and rest," Gabrielle packed down the same, thinking the next day they should try to find that foggy place from her dreams to find the leaders… "Come on and cuddle with me!" she smiled at Pauly making a quick sleeping place from the dry leaves and their packs.
"What...?" Pauly looked at her, caught off guards and watched her lay down in the darkness. He was glad for the by then nearly pitch black of the cave as he cleared his throat, his cheeks stupidly burning a bit while taking his place next to his sister. "Yeah, we should find that foggy place. If we do, we'll know we're at the right place," he murmured as he obediently put an arm around the smaller girl to keep her warm while they slept. In a couple of minutes he could feel the three foxes moving closer and curl up around them to help too.
"WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY, SID??? MICK WILL GUT YOU, YOU KNOW THAT, RIGHT??!!" Shawn's voice roared fuelled by his helpless anger. From the way it echoed across the building it was sure that everyone, including Mick heard it. Poor Sid knew he would be the punching bag for the news he brought about the disappearing kids. Especially for Shawn's adored daughter. He just stood there and took it while chewing his lip.
"What's this all about?" the mentioned black-haired demon came into the room, filling out the doorframe nearly completely for a moment. He was alone this time since Stacey was downstairs in the basement for another round of torturing the witches in hopes of getting something else out of them.
"Why would I gut Sid? What did you do this time, you idiot?" he slapped the clearly frozen to the spot demon's back, nearly making him stumble forward.
"I…I…" Sid coughed a little from the back slap and swallowed rather looking at the floor than at the two leaders. "I didn't do anything. I was patrolling and saw Pauly and Gabrielle vanish the same way like Corey and Jim did," he blurted out in one breath and closed his eyes. Ready for anything that the huge and short-tempered demon beast would react.
Mick could actually see not just feel as the red filled his head and then he could see nothing but that. The next moment he blinked, one big hand was already circling around Sid's neck as Mick was holding the poor guy against the wall, his feet barely touching the ground.
"WHAT THE FUCK?!" he roared just as loud as Shawn did. His disappointment and anger wasn't directed only at Sid, but at Pauly too. He thought he could trust the kid and now Mick felt betrayed a bit. Could this night get any worse???
"Oh fuck... Mick put him down. It's not his fault after all..." Shawn rushed over and touched the raging demon's shoulder. Trying to make him reason, he also had to admit the defeat in this situation. "We're actually lucky that Sid saw them. So we know where they had gone to, or at least kinda know it…”
Sid's face turning purple as he was struggling for air and Shawn's interference made Mick finally come around and he suddenly let the slender man go so Sid could collapse against the wall, coughing for air.
Mick's heavy boots started banging against the floor as he was pacing up and down in the room. "FUCK! That stupid kid! It's unbelievable! I thought I could trust him..." he mumbled more to himself.
"With what? They took some of my and Paul's books too. I just saw it this morning. But I'm sure now that they’ve been planning this the whole time. Pauly being at the last meeting didn't make much of a difference. Mick... It's not your fault man," Shawn leaned against his desk with a sigh. "We have to keep the clan together. And get ready for an attack."
"Shit...." Mick rubbed his beard slowing down then sighed and looked at Shawn. "I didn't know about the books either. But I might have given him some information that pushed the kids to do the spell... Fuck. I'm sorry," he grumbled. "After you had your fight with Paul, I found him... and promised him I'd tell him about what Stacey had learned from the witches. But I guess it doesn't matter anymore. You're right... We have to do as you just said. Maybe we – the whole clan – should go over to the East River clan? Safety in numbers?"
"I was thinking something like that too. Take over most of the clan, kids mainly, and only the warriors stay here and we get ready for an attack. I want to be one step ahead of them. We use the tunnels Corey did with magic," Shawn said on a tone that told them it was not a matter of discussion.
"I agree. That's probably the best way to do this," Mick nodded. "We don't need them to know where most of the clan is and we can surprise them in case they attack," he added then looked at Sid with his piercing blue eyes. Just that look made the other demon with a hand around his sore throat tense up. "I'm sorry, dude. I lost it. I know it's not your fault. Shawn's right, at least we know where they are," he grumbled. "I just hope they'll find each other," he stared in front of himself, lost in thoughts.
Corey followed the excited white and silver fox creature outside. The kitsune was nagging him to wake up and follow. And for a few seconds the beast could swore that he understood the thoughts of the spirit.
The cute glowing kitsune led him to the back of the village. It was a little clearing and a cliff with a small waterfall, and the other Corey was sitting there cross-legged and kindly smiling at him. It actually made the beast snort. All this friendliness was not his cup of tea. He was into coffee anyway. He was giggling on his own joke and coffee addiction as he plopped down next to the shaman at the sickly idyllic mediation spot and smiled back short. "Morning. I guess you will teach me to relax more and get in touch with my inner power..." he said and admitted at once that it came out more sarcastic than he wanted to sound. "Sorry... I know you want to help."
"It's okay. I kind of expected that," the other chuckled pulling his long hair into a ponytail with a band. He had really grown to like the painfully honest way the shaman from Earth expressed himself towards everything. What Jim told about his childhood made it understandable why he got so... skeptic maybe…? Or just way too clear with everything around him without the conditioning of morals and politeness messing with his feelings too much. "This place is the border of this land. Here in Jukai the big islands are like... Errr like the continents on Earth. So they are floating around above the sea. Not attached to any main land. So, as this is the edge of this one, the magic is stronger here. I thought maybe it would help to 'get in touch'," he chuckled. "Your mate should be on his way too."
"I see. So we will go to the high shaman of this... land. But how do you travel between these lands?"
"With the whales," the Jukai shaman said with a soft smile just as one of the mentioned gorgeous creatures flew by singing its echoing song.
Jim woke not much later from a fox sitting on his chest and licking his nose. That creature couldn't get any cuter than that. "Okay, okay, I'm up," he chuckled, stroking along the soft magical fur then the creature jumped off him and made a yipping sound, being a bit impatient as if they were late. At least that's what Jim kinda heard in his head.
Sitting up he looked around and saw Jay sleeping soundly on his bunk, but his Corey was gone. Frowning a bit at that Jim concentrated on their bond and soon felt him nearby. He kept that connection open as he put on some of his weapons just in case then followed the persistent spirit creature. Getting more relaxed when he realized that it was leading him towards where he felt his mate, Jim just heard a whale from that direction too. That unique song echoed through this part of the forest, and maybe his soul too.
Once he reached the clearing with the two Coreys, a soft smile appeared on his face as his eyes met his mate's. "So what's going to happen now that the three of us gathered here with the help of the foxes?" he asked sitting down nearly opposite his mate.
"Now we’re gonna travel across this world. The spirits hinted to me that you two need that now. And I am here to help," the brown Corey said. Then closing his eyes he started a chant, expecting the mates to meditate with him. During his dive into the spirit world he connected to the two other males and brought them down to the level where their astral eye could scan across that dimension.
The beast felt the push. And having a strong will on his own he had to hold it back to let himself follow someone else’s will. He clearly felt Jim and the other Corey by his side. And like from the viewpoint of the whales, they saw the ground from above. Getting up from their bodies, even seeing their physical vessels from above. They were getting higher and looking down at the village, then the near forest. They felt like flying over it and saw all the fog and the small ground they had arrived on. Getting to the edge of that land it all made sense. The bigger 'island' they had ended up on was floating a little above the angry black ocean. Not touching the water or any other ground. Looking around on the horizon they could see two other islands and some whales flying around them. Almost like pushing on them to keep the floating lands from colliding into each other.
Closer to the other floating land they saw different vegetation. Greener and there were more clearings with short plants and a grassy ground. Going along the next it had a village of demons and dry white sand-like areas with high mountains. A bit further there was a land with almost only narrow cliffs and waterfalls. Many ghouls seemed to live there in the caves. A lot further away from that the land was all green with high trees and rainforest-like vegetation, and with a few highlands and waterfalls. The highlands were dry and small villages could be seen on top of each.
Seeing this world like this reminded Jim of some fantasy movies he had seen during the years. It was breathtaking to say the least and for a moment he forgot all his worries and just enjoyed the astral traveling with the two Coreys.
But over that far island with the rainforest-like vegetation and waterfalls, he mentally gasped for air. Probably his physical body did the same, but he didn't pay much attention to that because what he felt there in the depths of that forest was familiar. He didn't want to believe it. Was it even possible?? Pauly... and Gabrielle? It had to be some mistake. He mentally reached out for his mate to alarm him of what he felt. Do you feel them too?
Actually Corey could feel it too. And it made him almost lose focus and the line of the chant. And that resulted in all of them going back to their bodies very fast and mostly painfully.
"Yeah… I felt the kids there too. It's not a mistake," he said while moaning from the heavy cramping in his brain.
Holding his own head too, Jim moaned too from the migraine-like pain. It was unpleasant to "wake up" like this, but he didn't give a damn because the kids being there was more important. "What the hell are they doing here?! How did they figure out the way to come here?? We have to get them! They might be in danger!"
"Guess how... They are smart as fuck. Our son and Shawn's daughter, remember?" Corey laid down onto his back and tried to breathe deep and slow to somewhat ease the piercing headache.
"That place is almost on the other side of this world. And safe for demons. Other beasts live on that land," the Jukai Corey said rubbing his temples. "First you'll have to eat. Then we all go to the high shaman. I promise we will help you get to your kids."
"Yeah they are smart indeed. Though they're alone. Which means the others at home are probably losing their shit about them being here too..." Jim sighed then nodded to what the other Corey was saying, the headache slowly ebbing down. "Okay, let's get going. We shouldn't waste any time," he grunted and stood up, grabbing his mate's hand too to pull him up. After a gentle – and healing – kiss against his temple, he started stomping back towards the village with new purpose.
It only took a few hours to climb up on the mountain. The 'holy one'… The beast had to roll his eyes and snort from the way the Jukai trio phrased those words. The feeling that the kids were over here and the clan back at home in danger kept lingering in his mind, he couldn't shake it off.
He had to admit that the magic was even thicker as they got higher and closer to the 'shaman nest'. He just hoped that they would find something useful there.
Jim shared his mate's worried thoughts about the kids and the clan, but he felt more curiosity than annoyance from the clear deep respect the Jukai demons had for this shaman and his trainee whom they had briefly mentioned before.
The air got heavier but not from the humidity or fog. The weather was clearer up there but the magic was indeed stronger, tugging on their powers, but now they were better at controlling them after the practicing with the long-haired Corey.
As they finally got to the top, they saw a small clearing between the trees, some smoke curling towards the sky coming from a wooden hut near a cave opening. But that was not the only thing that drew their attention there. They could all feel a strong presence. Something they rarely had the chance to feel before.
It was like time and air stood still on the mountain top. The magic was so strong that they could almost see it like colorful prisms breaking the flashing up shining lights. Strange clouds swirled above them, like the Aurora on Earth.
The nest was decent and had a little garden where the shamans grew flowers for the offerings. The whole thing looked like it just grew out of the ground. Maybe it had. To the beast shaman dwelling seemed more like a wide big tree trunk broken off then turned into a hut than anything else. Then again, such shamans could build a tree trunk house with their magic anytime.
Just as he got there in his line of thoughts, a short slim but ripped man walked out of the door. He had a short Mohawk and piercing small eyes. Keeping them on Corey, sizing up the red beast. His power followed him like an always present glowing cloud and reached over to scan the demons from Earth.
That place was breathtaking and very intense, both the three Jukai and the three Earth demons could feel it. Jay went very silent as they took a glimpse of the highly respected shaman. Jim narrowed his eyes a bit after drinking in their environs.
The shaman was wearing a simple white shirt and loose white pants and was barefooted. Those small eyes and the very much visible indigo aura (which is the highest spiritual color) that surrounded him were intense. Jim had no reason to start sweating from it but he still wiped his hands into his worn jeans.
Before they could say anything, another man appeared in the mouth of the cave. For a moment Jim thought he saw a ghost so he had to do a double take. He figured it was the shaman trainee. He wore similar simple white clothes too, but what was even more interesting in him was that as he came closer, it became clear to the guests from the shoulder-long white hair, beard, eyelashes and eyebrows that he was an albino. His power was visible too and from the feel of it, not far from the high shaman's, but it had a violet color.
Well... this was going to be interesting, Jim could already tell that at least. After they sized each other up and the trainee walked to the other shaman's side, Matt stepped forward to start the introductions.
"Honorable Shamans of this land. I brought these demons here to ask for help. They were sent here by a trap spell and don't know how to go back. I introduce to you Corey the shaman and his mate Jim and their guardian Jay," Matt spoke to the shamans then turned to the just introduced ones. "Our high shaman Maynard," he bowed to the short man, "and his trainee, Aaron."
All the demons present bowed their heads in mutual respect. Then Maynard walked directly to the Earth Corey, placing his palm on the beast's chest and bowed again before him, and started talking with big respect and a kind smile. "Welcome, great one! I am more than happy to see you here. The prophecy is being fulfilled. It was written that the last of the great ones who had left will return. And that triggers the happenings that will start the new era for all demon kind in the multi-verse."