The morning at the beast tribe was peaceful and the yellow shaman girl opened her eyes with a smile. Feeling Pauly's arm still around her middle, she stroked it and turned to face her brother.
It was such a strange feeling of belonging and home. She slept off with that and woke with that too. Could feel that only after a few days after they were rescued and Shawn was so nice to her at once – like a father she never remembered having. That made her sigh. They have to get back and help them. Find Corey, Jim and Jay and help the clan that took them in without any hesitation. Their enemies tried to remove the strong ones to leave the clan defenseless. But they will fix it. With Pauly. He will get his dads and home back. She smiled again kissing the cheek of the boy.
Pauly woke to that kiss on his cheek and Gaby was the first thing he saw as he opened his eyes. That made him smile back at her instinctively as his mind was slowly waking up too. Being so close to her wasn't unusual, and after all these years it still felt nice.
It took the boy a moment to remember where they were and why Gaby felt so content. She finally knew where she originally came from. This was her home land and tribe. The yellow shaman demons.
Pauly couldn't help the slight jealousy that stabbed him in his chest for that. He still knew nothing of his past or family. The only family he knew was their current clan. And although he also felt happy for the blond girl, he knew they had to leave this place soon to find his dads and Jay.
"As nice as the last couple of days was, we have to get going today. We can't waste any more time," he said a bit worried since as far as they knew, the dads and Jay could be in danger. Their clan surely was without their two strongest leaders.
"I know," Gabrielle said hugging her brother close for a moment. "I was thinking just that. We should eat and go to Mario. He said he'll get in contact with the other lands’ shamans. Maybe he has some news. And I'm so curious about the whales. Are you not?" she got up and the chatter was pouring out of her in the usual careless cheerful way she usually was. Moving around filled with energy, she fetched some morning drink and some fruit and roasted fish for the boy.
"Good idea. I hope Mario was successful and can give us some good news," Pauly said sitting up and stroking his shoulder-long hair back from his face as he kept an eye on the energetic girl.
"Of course I'm curious about them. They are majestic," Pauly mumbled and took the drink and food from Gaby. "Thanks," he said and started eating. After a minute or two he looked up at her. "You feel very happy here."
"Yeah… After all we found out where I came from. But my real home will always be the Gray clan and your dads and Shawn and you, my brother," she giggled sitting next to the boy to eat too. "I want to find them and go back and kick the asses of the witches. After all... they took us all away from our home in the first place. I won't let them ruin our second home too."
The jealousy eased up in Pauly hearing Gabrielle's words and he even smiled at her, hugging her close to him with one arm for a moment. "You all are my home too," he mumbled then they finished their breakfast in silence.
After putting their stuff together, they headed towards Mario's hut with great expectations, although the boy had noticed that there was something distracting his sister.
Indeed Gaby could feel something strange. Not really sure what. It was in the air… As people say. "Can you feel it too? It's like… like an awkward calmness before the storm… Or something. Like… Something is about to happen," she whispered to Pauly as they walked through the clearing in the middle of the small village.
After turning to the right, where Mario's shaman nest was, suddenly a strange shining flashed before them. And the shaman brothers and their guards ran outside yelling to everyone to take cover and hide the young ones.
Pauly was about to agree with what Gaby was saying, but instead pulled her into cover behind a thick tree trunk, crouching down with his Sai daggers already in hand, ready to attack if needed.
From the shining mist portals opened with glowing runes on the ground. Similar to the ones through which the kids have arrived. Witches and Earth demon warriors rushed out and attacked the small wooden buildings at once. The guards and shamans ran before them to defend their home and clan at all costs.
Suddenly the peaceful village turned into a battleground with weapons flying and children screaming and males yelling in the heat of the fight.
Some Ghouls broke in through the woods and joined allies with the intruders. It was way too familiar for the two hiding teenagers. Even if they were very young, some things burn into the infant brain for life. It was a raid to kidnap children to be slaves on Earth.
Within a few seconds the shaman girl felt her blood boiling in blind anger and if Pauly didn't hold her back, she would’ve jumped up to fight with the others.
But Pauly was more tactical and what he noticed first were the open portals. Portals back home. If they could reach one that would mean a way back. But also failing their task that led them here in the first place. To find and bring his dads back.
Sensing what went through the boy’s mind, Gabrielle narrowed her eyes at him, anger still working strong in her system. "We cannot! Pauly, we can't give up. All that and the scare we did to the ones back home would be for nothing," she would have continued her speech but the loud inhuman and non-demonic scents and grumble made her quiet down at once and pull Pauly even closer to the ground. A pack of five ghouls were sniffing in their way and were ready to corner them against some huge rocks.
"It was just an idea, an option," Pauly snorted barely audible then concentrated on the nearby ghouls, his hands tightening around his daggers. "We can't fight them all off. Come on!" he sheathed one of his daggers to be able to grab Gaby's arm, who clearly wanted to fight, but Pauly wasn't that sure that against five of these creatures they had enough experience.
"Come on, this is not our fight. You said so yourself that we have to focus on our main mission!" he hissed at her when she was reluctant to let him pull along. Squeezing her upper arm a bit firmer she finally started running with him as the ghouls noticed them, lunging after them.
It seemed they were surrounded from every way. Taking the lead, Gaby pulled Pauly up on a small clearing, grabbing a stick and drawing the circle and runes similar to the ones that brought them here. "Remember Mario said it's similar to what they use to travel in this dimension? Here in Jukai? I stole his scrolls," she added fast and started chanting some ancient lines to which the symbols in the dirt started to glow and yellow smog swirled up from its center.
The dark-haired teen only had time to glimpse at what Gaby was doing then he had to make a quick choice. He chose to fight off as many ghouls as he could while protecting Gaby.
"Do it quick! There are witches coming too!" he yelled back over his shoulder and stabbed a ghoul into the throat, kicking it back on two others. That's when he saw a spell heading towards Gaby. Without thinking, he jumped into its way and as it grazed his arm, the burning made him hiss. "Fuck..." he added, seeing more ghouls heading their way. "Gaby..." he grunted, eyes turning black as his blue energies started swirling around them.
"Now!" he heard Gaby's urging voice as she grabbed the back of his hoodie and practically pulled him into the portal that sucked them up, leaving only some yellow dissolving smoke and burning runes behind them.
It felt like they were falling. Not for long like in those movies with survivors and shit. It was a short fall and a loud landing in some thick dark water. It wasn't deep but the two kids got wet from head to toe from landing on their backs before they got up and looked around.
If something ever looked like a prehistoric swamp then that place won the first prize. Dark muddy knee-deep water, thick fog, darkness and all kind of noises surrounded them.
"Well... There's the way up," Gaby said after she looked around and saw that it was a valley with a nearby seemingly walkable path going up on the hillside. It was not far… Relatively... Well it was in eyesight distance at least...
"Fuck..." That was all the boy commented as he got up and tried to squeeze out as much of water from his clothes as possible. "Let's get going then. This place isn't too inviting and we don't know how far we got from the village and the attackers..." he grumbled, irritated from the water and everything else. He just wanted to finally find the dads and Jay and get the hell out of here and go home.
"Sowwwwyyyyy," Gaby said a bit offended. She and her sticky hands and endless hunger to learn actually saved them both. It was not a five star hotel or their own bed they had landed on. But still. In that moment she felt like a bad little sister who only gets blamed by the strict family.
"It would take time getting through all this, though," she added over her shoulder as she started to crawl over the huge mangrove-like plants’ endless pile of roots hanging out of the sticky dirty swamp water.
For a change Pauly didn't react on or tried to make Gaby's offended feeling disappear. He was too busy huffing and puffing to himself as he followed her and started climbing through the roots as well, slipping a few times.
He felt quite hopeless and lost in that moment as the hard-found little security they could feel for the last few days was gone and they were on their own in this unknown vast jungle once again. At least they were getting closer to that damned path.
Of course the girl felt how Pauly pitied himself behind her back. Poor 'princess', she thought rolling her eyes, not even bothering anymore to look back to check if the boy caught up or not. Fuck him. Hopefully he heard/felt that from her. At that point Gaby wanted him to. It's okay to keep telling her to 'play it safe' but Pauly sometimes just would sit in a closed room and feel sorry for his 'very bad life' rather than do something about it. "Emo shit," the girl mumbled climbing up on a bigger piece of root, discovering a small fast stream behind it.
Not surprisingly the boy caught those thoughts and they only made his blood boil some more. "Sorry for feeling fed up with this place, Miss Know-It-All-Better!" he snorted as he kept climbing after her nonetheless. "We could've avoided this if we left earlier like I wanted," he added lower.
Despite his thoughts and tiredness, he knew that together they had a better chance to actually fucking finally find their family and a way to get back home. And this was wasting precious time. Though neither of them knew the witches and ghouls would attack so it was a factor they couldn't have prepared for.
"Yeah. Whatever," the girl grumbled walking over the stream on the slippery rocks and branches. "If you woke up earlier or the shamans had any news earlier. But blame me. And I am the 'know it all', huh? Blame everything on someone who actually does something other than whine and sit feeling bad for themselves," she huffed even kicking some small rocks away. For real? This was her fault as well now? Her own dad was back home and worried. And pissed at them probably. But all that she has done was for Pauly. And to get HIS dads back.
"And you think I did nothing? I worked on the spell with you that brought us here! I protected you from those assholes. Isn't that to be considered 'doing something other than whining and feeling bad for myself' in your book?" he replied while trying to focus not to slip on the stones. This was crazy! "You act as if I did nothing at all!"
~ Earth. The Gray clan base ~
The Grays, or more like those few that remained in the old storage building, had a meeting with the returned spies. The situation increased as Chris and the others brought the news of a new attack. On all of the beast clans.
"Get over to the East Rivers and warn them at once," Shawn ordered Chris’ little group with a concerned face then turned to Mick. "We have to prepare ourselves as fast as we can. Stacey, please take the 'scum' to the place I've told you about. All the others here, stay on alert!" he added looking over the handful of warriors in the great hall. When a loud blast of a magic missile shook the building…
~ Jukai. In the jungle ~
Gabrielle stopped and turned as she was standing on a large rock in the angrily running water. It matched perfectly the girl's expression as she looked at the boy standing now right in front of her.
"You did. You know what? You always do one thing perfectly besides whining. Blaming me!!!! All our lives together, you kinda wanted to do something but you didn't try. I did and you blamed me. Even about this thing now! You wanted your dads back, I helped. You blamed me for ending up here. And blamed me for following the foxes and understanding them. You blamed me for accidentally finding my roots. And blamed me for ending up in this swamp. While all along you were just one big coward who just daydreams about what should be done!!!"
"You really think that I'm a coward?!" Pauly grabbed Gaby's upper arm and raised his voice a bit, getting pissed and frustrated with the girl more than usual. So far this way probably their most serious argument. "Well, excuse me for my weak moments and those too when I stopped you from hurting yourself because of your hotheadedness! What do you think we would be now if we stayed? Dead. Fucking dead if I let you join the fighting. And then who would help the others here and at home? Who would help YOUR dad? What you think is daydreaming is often more like thinking ahead instead of jumping into things head first, you stupid reckless girl," he spit as his emotions took the better of him.
~ Earth. The Gray clan base ~
"Go to the tunnels! They’re using magic. Many high witches and some Earth demon warriors," Sid yelled running inside. Followed by a series of blasts from all over the house. They were surrounded and magic would make the whole building crumble on them very fast...
~ Jukai. In the jungle ~
Gaby looked at Pauly's hand gripping her arm and from the boy's words she saw red. "You ARE a coward Pauly! If I wasn't jumping into things you would sit in the very spot they tell you. Fucking emo coward!" she growled.
Gaby's words hurt him more than he liked or would ever admit. He loved this girl, his sister with whom he'd grown up. And now realizing how she saw him for real was painful. There was some truth in her words, but Pauly had come a long way and until now he thought that they complimented each other's personality nice. Apparently he was wrong and stupid to think so.
"Fine. I won't burden you with my presence any longer then," he snarled then pushed on her arm as he let it go. Maybe it was a bit stronger than he wanted, because the next moment she slipped.
The girl stared at her brother with surprised wide eyes. Not even a sound left her lips from the shock that Pauly actually pushed her. Gaby fell into the stream without a sound and landed on some rocks as the fast strong water picked up her half-conscious body and carried her down a small waterfall.
~ Earth. The Gray clan base ~
"I hope they get inside fast..." Mick growled. All his beastly features were strongly visible as none of the demons hid who they truly were. Not at that point. Not when the very base, their home was being attacked by foreign witches. Mick said what they all felt. Let the enemy get inside already, so they can fight face to face.
Shawn was busy to run around on the collapsing corridors to plant spell traps for the enemy. He could only hope that the other clans were not attacked yet and he and the others could buy some time for them to get into safety.
~ Jukai. In the jungle ~
"Shit!" Pauly cursed, quickly sobering up from the unexpected turn of events. Gaby's shocked expression before her body disappeared in the water burned itself into the teen's mind. But there was no time to feel guilty and sorry. He quickly tried to fight off the shock and as adrenaline filled his system, he jumped after her without a second thought.
As he fell down the waterfall too, he swore that he'd never forgive himself if something happens to his sister. He didn't even think of what would happen to him if that was the case and he'd have to face the wrath of Shawn.
As the strong stream was carrying her along, Gaby got hit on the rocks a lot. Some on her head and a sharp something cut into her left upper arm, making it somewhat twist out before it left her to be taken again by the water with a long bleeding wound and an injured shoulder joint. After the short waterfall the temperature of the water changed too. The sudden freezing cold started to make the girl's senses go numb. It all happened so fast and she couldn't even form a thought as after a curve the stream widened out and slowed down.
From the high waves it was difficult to see in the dark water, but after a while Pauly spotted Gaby's form being tossed around. What worried him more was that she wasn't dodging the rocks like he was, getting hit only a couple of times, which meant that she was either unconscious or couldn't move fast enough.
It took him some time to catch up with her in the freezing water, but when he did at the calmer part of the river, he took hold of her and tried to swim to the shore as fast as he could. Gaby was still unconscious when he dragged her out of the water and he also noticed that she was bleeding from several wounds.
"Fucking shit..." he panted then moved her around into a position in which he could listen to her breathing – or the lack of it in this case. Pauly blessed the clan for making the kids familiar with giving first aid and doing CPR at a young age, because now he needed those skills. After a few tries he was getting more worried. "Come on, Gaby... Don't die on my stupid ass!" he blew air into her lungs again and let his power go to try and help on her in any way he could.
Thankfully soon the girl took a sharp inhale and coughed and puked up a lot of the dark muddy water. Shivering and trying to move, she looked up at Pauly. "I can't move. I'm sorry," she whispered with chattering teeth. Her power reaching out to Pauly's for support.
~ Earth. The Gray clan base ~
Getting fed up with standing there while parts of the building were falling on them, the circa dozen of beasts tracked down where the magic blasts weakened their own force field and walls to welcome the intruders.
Sid looked at Mick and they both knew they were thinking the same... Their whole life and memories were being destroyed within the very nest of the clan. Their own home. The genocide has started...
Walking to the main entrance of the old building, they could just see how the warriors rushed inside through a spell hit hole on the wall. They walked right into Shawn's traps and the beast waited no time to cut them down. It looked good, but they could smell and sense the many more outside waiting to enter as well. After defeating a second wave with getting only some minor injuries, the beasts had to move back from the shock wave of magic that practically pushed the high brick wall over like it was made of toy building blocks.
For a second or two they just stood there and watched the bricks on the ground. Their home was no longer...
Suddenly from the back corridor the group that was sent away ran to them. "Shawn!!! They set the north tunnel on fire!"
~ Jukai. In the jungle ~
The blue energies wrapped themselves around Gaby without hesitation. "Don't be silly. Just stay still, please. I'll quickly look around to see if there's some safer place where I can take you and tend to your wounds," he said quick once he saw relieved that Gaby's life functions were back to normal.
It took him only a minute or two to find a good enough "lair" between a bigger tree's roots. By that time his own teeth were chattering too from the cold and wet clothes sticking to his body. Moving the girl as careful as possible, he did his best to make her feel more comfortable.
"I'm so sorry, Gaby... I was so stupid," he said time after time while he kept trying to tend her wounds and even heal them with his powers. Keeping her warm wasn't an easy task either, because the small fire he'd managed to start meanwhile didn't give them that much heat and all their clothes were wet. Still, he continued using his powers to help as much as he could.
"We both were tense. And stupid. And that fucking swamp added to it," the very pale girl smiled at him. She wanted to move and help Pauly but the shivering and the numbness in her body wouldn't let her. At least the blue power made her feel safer and the small fire and the exhaustion made her drift into a restless dream.
~ Earth. The Gray clan base ~
It turned out that the messengers got to the East River clan just in time to evacuate. The raid only found their empty hideouts. Same with the little pack of beasts in the south forest. The group just entered the north tunnel when the fire came towards them.
By then all the Grays retreated and tried to find a way out. The witches used spells of the green fire. Nothing can put that out until the magic flames have something to feed on. As it moved in a wave with the witches and warriors of the Earthly demon packs, the building fully collapsed. Leaving behind the blackened ash of what was once the home of them.
Shawn, Mick, Sid, Chris and V-man with two warriors stood on a high treetop a few yards away and watched the smoke in silence. Everything was gone. Their home. Their clan. They will have to hide and hope to survive for now.
~ Jukai. In the jungle ~
A couple of days have passed since the unfortunate accident that had left Gaby in a pretty bad shape. Pauly got more and more worried as her condition wasn't improving. On the contrary, she looked even paler both from the blood loss and her injuries. At least those seemed to be healed enough to close and with Pauly's care and growing healing powers he'd been trained to use, he made sure to check on the wounds and her shoulder time after time. The other problem was that the first aid kits in their backpacks were small and they were running out of their supply.
While Gaby was resting, Pauly went hunting for food or searched for herbs to use on the wounds. Finding help became their top priority, because the boy knew that his knowledge and skills weren't enough to save his sister. Those worries only seemed to deepen when her fever got up, making her body tremble nearly constantly and slip in and out of consciousness. She also began to babble in her feverish dreams about the "visions" she was seeing.
The dark-haired boy knew that he had to find help. And fast, because she was burning up by then. But it seemed no one lived in the swamp. Not even the spirit foxes that could lead them to that much needed help... And that only added to the teen's worries and feeling of hopelessness. If his sister dies here because of him... But no, he couldn't think of that now.
"Gaby... Gaby, we have to move... I'll have to carry you, because we can't stay here any longer. You... we need help," he explained to the half-conscious girl. He thought he'd spotted a faint trail in the distance to the north. So after packing everything together, his power fully out to sense if any danger was lurking around, he carefully picked up the small blond girl, holding her securely to his chest. He knew they would move slowly like this, but he had to try finding someone who could help. Because there should be someone... anyone around. Right?!
Either way... he couldn't know if that path would lead them to safety or to their doom.