I stood and stared at Stark for a few seconds, my hackles raised. His growl still echoed in my ears, chilling my blood. I wanted to growl back, but memories of the last time I'd done so were flashing in front of my eyes. Pain, blood, defeat. That had been the night I turned submissive…
To my confusion, though, he didn't seem to be looking for a fight tonight. He just stood where he was, looking back at me. He raised his nose a little and sniffed.
Yeah, it's me, I thought. Just like I told you it would be.
He looked exactly like I remembered him. Iron gray fur all over his body, probably the same shade as his hair, without a single spot to blemish it. Stark raised his head and glanced in the direction the Majestic goons' scent was coming from, but apparently decided that they weren't there anymore— just like I'd been afraid he would.
What are you doing? I screamed at him in my thoughts. You know what's going on. You know why I'm here. Why did you come?
I let my ears go flat and tucked my tail between my legs as I silently begged him to leave. He cocked his head at me, as if confused. My frustration grew, and escaped my mouth in the form of a whine. Just run already, you idiot!
But Stark did the exact opposite— he took a step toward me.
“Now!" I heard Wrogan shout, and all four of them came bursting out of the shadows. Wrogan was holding a net like a dog catcher might use, woven with steel fibers that looked like they could stop an airplane. The gems on Victor, Dex, and Ed's scepters were all lit up.
Stark reacted at once, spinning and snarling at his attackers. With his attention off of me, I took the opportunity to retreat to the other end of the parking lot, watching guiltily.
Stark waited until the first of them was within attacking range, and then pounced. Victor swung his scepter in a wide arc, its ruby leaving a blood red afterimage, and swatted him out of the air. Stark skidded across the asphalt, but immediately got back to his paws.
It's not too late, I urged him. Just get out of here!
He didn't, of course. Dex came at him then, aiming his wand as he ran. Stark lowered himself to the ground, eyes following the glowing yellow gem. A beam of golden magic shot from it, and Stark dodged to the side. The attack missed him by only a couple of inches, and he hit the ground and rolled before lunging at Dex.
“Geez!" the blond mage shouted, swinging his scepter to fend him off. Instead of retreating, Stark grabbed the golden wand in his mouth and yanked it out of Dex's hand. Dex stared at it for a moment, stunned, before saying, “Aw, crap…"
Stark jerked his head to the side, sending the scepter clattering across the parking lot, and pounced at him again. I thought Dex was a dead man, but then he spun into a roundhouse kick, his heel connecting with Stark's jaw, knocking him off course. Safe for the moment, Dex stepped back to clear the way for his teammates.
“Edgar, Victor, with me!" Mr. Wrogan ordered, stepping up and raising the net above his head.
The two wizards obeyed, and ran to flank Stark. They held their scepters out, training them on him while Mr. Wrogan slowly came forward, net held at the ready.
“Don't struggle," he said to the wolf. “If you come peacefully, we won't have to hurt you."
I wasn't sure how threatened Stark would feel about that. He had already disarmed one of their mages, and didn't look ready to give up just yet. He snarled at them, baring his teeth. Wrogan sighed, and swung the net at him.
With unbelievable speed, Stark dodged to the left, jumped up onto the net, and dashed along the length of the handle, towards the man holding it. Wrogan released the net, pulling back a massive fist to punch the wolf, but never got the chance. There was a bright flash of red, and suddenly Stark was skidding across the asphalt again. Victor twirled his scepter in his hand, repositioning it to better hit his opponent, and ran forward the intercept Stark before he could get back up.
He was too slow, though. Stark was on his paws in the blink of an eye, and had dodged around the suited man. This put him closer to Edgar— too close, I realized. Ed, feeling braver than he had any right to, stepped up to block the Silverblood's way. I cringed, fighting the urge to close my eyes. Stark was going to turn the poor kid into dog chow!
To my disbelief, though, Ed was ready for him. He swung his scepter out in a wide arc just as Stark came close enough. Stark jumped back, evading the blow, but Ed followed up by aiming his wand at him and letting out a bolt of green energy. It hit Stark in the face, throwing him backwards. The momentum propelled him into a flip, and he landed on his back with a yelp.
Wow, I thought, looking at Edgar in astonishment. Didn't see that coming.
Stark wasn't finished yet, though. With a growl, he rolled back onto his paws and shook himself. Wrogan came at him again, holding the net, but Stark retreated the opposite direction. I don't know what he had thought he'd gain by fighting them, but it looked like he'd given up. That was for the best, I thought. Let him get away. He'd put on a good show for them. They'd think I'd helped try to catch him, and wouldn't suspect me of sabotaging the operation. Maybe that had been his plan all along, I realized.
He was smart!
Unfortunately, Wrogan and the others didn't seem keen on letting him escape. They'd come to catch a Silverblood, and they weren't going to leave without one. Without waiting for his men to come to him, Wrogan took a step forward and swung the net. Stark dodged again, but his steps were more sluggish now. The accumulated hits were beginning to add up, I realized. It didn't matter how well he held up in a four-to-one fight. Eventually, they would wear him down.
Get out of here! I screamed in my head. Stop fighting! Go!
That seemed to be exactly what Stark was planning to do, but before he could turn and flee, Dex was there blocking his path. He held up his scepter, the tip glowing.
Stark gave him the most hateful glare I'd ever seen, baring his teeth in a primal snarl and raising his hackles. Dex didn't back down— but that proved to be his mistake.
Stark moved so quickly that he was nothing but a gray blur in the dull lamplight. He spun around, and pounced. Dex was too close to react in time, and the huge wolf landed on top of him. There was a flash of bright white fangs, and Dex screamed.
My blood ran cold. This wasn't good. There were only two outcomes to this. Either Stark would kill Dex, or he would survive and… I didn't even want to think about it.
Then Wrogan was there, swinging his net, and knocked Stark off of him. Stark fell to the ground, but before he could get back up Wrogan swung the net a second time, trapping him underneath it.
“Now!" he roared, struggling to keep it in place as Stark thrashed about within.
Moving as one, Edgar, Victor, and Dexter held up their scepters and shot magic at the net. The beams collided simultaneously, and began to swirl around the steel web in a rainbow of color. The net fell still, and Wrogan released the handle with a sigh of relief.
That's that, then, I thought with a sinking feeling in my heart. It's over.
I glanced at Dex, and was surprised to see him sit up and take a vial of yellow liquid out of his jacket. After uncorking it, he tipped it back and emptied it into his mouth.
“Gah," he said, grimacing. “Hate that stuff!"
“Are you all right?" Wrogan asked, looking his way.
Dex looked down at his arm where Stark had bit him, and I saw blood staining his shirt.
“I've had worse," he said, picking himself up.
Wait, I thought, taking a step closer to them. Is that seriously all the reaction he has to becoming a werewolf?
Unless… I stopped short, my eyes widening.
Unless he had just…
Which meant that thing he'd just drank was…
No… Freaking… Way!
NEXT TIME: What is it? What did Amber figure out? What did Dex just drink? Stark can't help her anymore, so hopefully there's SOME good news here.