Actions

Work Header

The Negative One 2 - Left Behind

Chapter Text

Note: This story just doesn’t want to end XD This is the second “volume” of the trilogy. To understand what’s going on, we advise to read the first part too, “The Negative One”.

Note 2: The title comes from Slipknot’s “The Negative One” and “Left Behind”.

Disclaimer: This is a product of our imagination and was written only for entertainment and fun. We don’t profit from this fanfiction and we mean no harm or disrespect against any real person, culture or custom that might appear in the story.

Fandoms: Slipknot, Trivium, Tool, Gemini Syndrome, Gojira, The Prodigy, Machine Head

Characters: Corey Taylor/Jim Root, Shawn Crahan, Mick Thomson/Stacey Riley, Jay Weinberg, Craig Jones, Chris Fehn, Sid Wilson, Alessandro Venturella, Paul Gray, Robb Flynn, Matt Heafy/Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto, Maynard James Keenan, Aaron Nordstrom, Joe Duplantier, Mario Duplantier, Stephanie Luby Taylor, Keith Flint, Liam Howlett, Maxim, original characters

Rating/category: R (explicit), supernatural AU, slash, M/M, alternate dimension, drama, romance, hurt/comfort, angst, teenage drama, dark, torture, violence, demons, witches, magic, betrayal, blood/gore, blood play, mating/bonding, rough sex, some (kinda manly) fluff.

Summary: It’s been ten years since the Grays had purged the witches from their territory with the help of other clans. They have managed to keep the peace ever since. But danger is never far from their doorstep and a new arising threat changes everything in the growing clan’s life.

 
Full-sized illustration
by Useless-girl

 
The Negative One 2
- Left behind -
By S.M.A. and Useless-girl

Chapter 1

The musty air heavily covered the gathered demon elders. The Bloodstone clan’s once powerful and feared noble ones were now squeezed into a small dungeon – again. But hard times required hard decisions…

The Earth Demons have been spying over the other clans in the last ten years, and they have been sewing the web of their own plans according to what they found out.

To say that the Elders were impressed and terrified by the Gray clan's new leading mates’ united powers and the kind of force and damage it could cause when it exploded from their bodies, was truly an understatement. And as such, of course for Demons who’d seen a lot from these worlds these were warning signs. They had to count with that power, and mostly try to react, or even more, prepare a first strike against it.

After all, the main purpose was to protect their own kind. Those beast demons have always been a threat. Especially how they somehow managed to keep the Bloodstones in their filthy claws.

The plans now will finally become actions. The main chancellor announced the summary of their decade-long plotting to the gathered nobles.

One of the things they all agreed on was that they were going to leave their leader, Cristina out of these actions. Mainly because she and her father had turned their backs to the clan many years ago. Robb Flynn was off the grid, even untraceable for the Shaman's senses. And his daughter, even if she namely took over leadership, was not much around either. Though she strictly ordered the Elders not to get into the ways of the Grays. They should even help them out with their 'mission' to free captive and abused 'animal' kids.

Of course it was an outrage! That already was a cut from all the many centuries old habits of where the place of the Earth Demons was and where the other races of lower class demons stood. And she also kicked up all the privileges that upper-class demons had over such creatures…

It was evident that after getting to know more of what it was that they were dealing with, they had to stop it. And finally everything was set into motion. It has been too many years already that they had to practically hide and agree to the overpowering of those low-cast animalistic creatures.

The low murmuring ebbed down when the chancellor knocked with his richly decorated crane against the table. The door opened and four upper-class white witches and two of the most powerful shamans from the far continent walked inside the secret gathering, hidden underground in the cellars. Really, it was all scandalous… But as the help arrived now it would all change back as it should be. Everyone right where they belong. Just in a few weeks time now....

***

Not so surprisingly Jim was sitting in the music room he and Corey had renovated ten years ago. It was essentially the same like back then, just more guitars and musical equipment had found their way there. They just got back from tour, during which they both kept writing new music. Jim was working on a solo, trying to figure out the right arrangement. Or rather how it would sound better. He already had a few versions, but he wasn’t satisfied yet. Because there was that urge, that nagging feeling that could be about the music or something more.

Ten years have passed since he’d joined the Gray clan and became one of its leaders. By now he got used to that role – as well as his duties as the young ones’ tutor. Since the first saved demon kids they’d managed to add more to their clan’s members while eliminating other slave markets. One of their missions was to do so until there were no such places in their territory. Also, touring with their band Slipknot opened up the opportunity for them to continue that work first in the different states then even worldwide. It was an amazing feeling! Of course they didn’t take in all the kids. There were other demon clans who could accept them around those certain areas to raise and teach them.

But the Gray clan kept growing too. In the last ten years – besides the new small members – other demons had joined too. The most important change was the forming of the core Nine, a fighter “elite” including the four leading members too. The loose hierarchy looked like this: Corey, Jim, Shawn and Mick were the heads of the clan, then came the next five warriors and guardians of the clan: Jay, Alex, Craig, Chris and Sid. The latter five had a more important role when the leaders had to decide about more drastic moves, like attacks or defending the clan or their allies. They soon earned the name “The Nine” and were respected and feared by many.

Otherwise, next to the usual leading tasks, the aforementioned four were dealing with raising the kids and organizing stuff for both the clan and their band. Sometimes it wasn’t easy to juggle with all the tasks, but they really had strength in their number.

Jim remembered the time when there were only a handful of the Grays, mostly because of his old clan, the Bloodstones. It was funny how life could turn around for some. From a feared and huge clan the Bloodstones became smaller and more controlled (by the Grays), while Jim’s new clan only seemed to grow both in numbers and power.

They spent a lot of time and energy to keep the peace they’d achieved after cleaning out the witches from their area and signing a treaty with the neighboring demon clans. For ten years it seemed to work. Some alliances grew stronger, some stayed on the same level. The former happened with the Grays and the East River clan. The two groups kinda melted together, but were still independent in their decision-making and in the more important things in their clans’ lives.

But despite all the positive changes, there was something coming again. Jim could feel it in his bones and he noticed himself listening inside more, pausing with his playing. He was staring out the window, watching the passing people on the street who had no idea of the world he was living in. Something was going to happen… He could feel that same tension in his mate, Corey too, who was getting closer to Jim. The bond between them never lied about such things. And it was good that Corey was nearly there, because the tall guitarist somehow needed the silent comfort of his mate’s touch and presence.

 

That weird feeling was back again. It wasn’t only that Corey could feel it stronger again in his mate. The small shaman also always had it in the back of his mind.

But all these years already passed with that feeling and yet nothing really happened that would be so monumental. And the feeling stayed. Sometimes Corey thought that maybe it was just the trick of their connected mind after all the shit they’ve been through. But then again, from all that exact shit they were smarter than to ignore such warning feelings.

But right then the priority was his mate, and it made him smile how badly Jim was nagging him through their bond to get there.

"What's up, babe? Can't fight the evil instrument?" he asked playfully, sitting down next to the tall man, pressing a kiss to the bearded face.

Jim turned his head towards Corey still a bit lost in thoughts as if distracted by that annoying feeling. After a short sigh he pecked his mate’s lips then glimpsed down at the guitar on his lap. “Apparently. You can feel it too, right? It worries me. It’s been nagging me more often in the last couple of years,” Jim mumbled under his moustache.

They both remembered clearly how the last time they ignored such omens ended all those years ago. An attack and the death of their beloved previous shaman, Paul. Since then they paid extra attention to the omens and the protection of their home. They were still living in that former storage building by the peers, but unlike when Jim moved in there first, now it wasn’t nearly empty anymore. It was usually buzzing with life because of the current size of the Gray clan. Jim just felt glad sometimes that there were three other leaders beside him, because that way they could divide the different tasks. With the size of such a clan it would be difficult for one person to handle everything.

"Yeah I know. It's like slowly getting stronger... Or I can feel it more often. Something is up. Shawn and I sent out the rangers to spy around. They should be back and report tomorrow morning. But what about that mean guitar? Want me to break it for you?" the beast added with a naughty look on his face.

He was just done with his duties and wanted to get away a little from the serious things, if only for a little while with his mate in the privacy of their home. Where else could a domesticated beast relax if not on his soul mate's side? "Did you eat? I'm free for the rest of the day... You?"

“Good idea about the rangers. We don’t want to have any surprises and they are good at what they do,” Jim nodded, trying to focus more on the here and now. Living with a shaman beast for so long, especially because of their tight bond that grew stronger during the last 10 years, Jim picked up this and that from what Corey could do – or at least feel as a shaman. First it was a bit frightening to have occasional stronger connections to the spiritual dimension. Or one could say with the universe, but by then Jim got used to being a bit distracted by those feelings and sounds time after time.

“No! Leave my baby alone. She’s just having a stubborn day,” Jim’s eyes narrowed as he hugged the guitar to his chest, slightly turning away from Corey to keep it safe. “You already broke one of my poor babies on stage! It was horrible…” he pouted giving Corey the shifty eyes but even his moustache and beard couldn’t hide his playful smile. “And no, I didn’t eat yet, but could… You know my duties never end, but for now I don’t expect anyone to bother us…” he put the guitar back on its stand, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to figure out that arrangement today.

"Oh come on... I said sorry already and you got two custom made for that Fender..." Corey fake-pouted. "It was the heat of the performance..." he laughed then stood up taking the hand of his ragged male. "Come on. I'm starving too, so gonna make some quick dinner. Pauly is at Shawn for training and I bet he will be hungry too."

"I'll never live down that moment..." Jim teased back, but they both knew that he was faking it. "Although those Fenders are good," he murmured as he let Corey pull him up and lead him out of their little sanctuary. He kept holding his hand – enjoying their joined warm energies on his palm – until they reached the kitchen area. "Want me to help or should I just sit here and be pretty for you?" he flipped his wavy hair with a giggle.

Yes, being around his mate was definitely helping in improving his mood. "I bet that kid's gonna eat three servings. Teens... I'll never understand how he manages to stay so scrawny or where all that food goes," he grinned, thinking fondly of their son.

"Just be gorgeous, babe," Corey laughed letting his mate go and looked into the fridge to size up the possibilities. "Every teen is like that. They probably use it up for growing or something. And our boy probably to stay that calm," he packed out some chicken breasts and a few vegetables, fetching a wok to sudden fry all after seasoning.

Speaking of their teen son, all of a sudden some angry drum solo broke the silence of the apartment. A clear sign that Pauly needed some more energy to keep his cool.

"Okay, I'll try," Jim chuckled low sitting down to the reinforced kitchen table to watch his small mate move around with practiced ease by the counter. It was no secret how much he loved watching him. And no, it wasn't creepy. He was just still deep in love with his soul mate. Sue him...

"You're probably right..." Jim started to say when he heard the banging and he nearly felt sorry for the drum kit. "Uh-oh... It seems he got into a fight with Gabrielle again... We better make sure some ice-cream lands on the table too for dinner..."

"Oh… Yeah I feel sorry for the kit too," Corey answered Jim's thought and quickly peeked into the freezer. "We're out, as I remembered. The one box I smeared on you the other night was the last here... Can you go fetch some from the storage, please? And on your way back also the angry youth maybe?"

Jim wasn't even surprised that Corey answered his thought. He got used to it during the years. He often did the same. Smiling from the memories of that mentioned night he stood up, stretching out his back from sitting too long in the music room.

"Sure, no problem. Anything else you might need from the storage?" he asked as he tried to tune out the energetic banging on the drums. When whipped cream crossed Corey's mind, Jim chuckled. "I'll bring two cans just to be safe." And with that he walked out of their apartment.

***

Fetching the required food didn't take long then he entered the neighboring room where Pauly was completely focused on breaking another set of drum sticks. It took some time for the nearly 17 years old teen to notice Jim, because he was too lost in giving out some pent up tension in him. But when he did, he looked up with the usual nearly-pouting expression of teens.

"What?"

"Dinner's nearly ready. I have ice cream too..." Jim lifted the box that was already freezing his fingers off, but he didn't care much. He saw Pauly's eyes soften and with a sigh he put down his drum sticks (still in one piece) and got up to walk out of the room. Jim didn't ask anything yet, they could talk over the newest debate during dinner. So with that the two males joined the third in a minute or two.

Exchanging a look with Corey after Jim walked over to the counter and pressed a kiss against the shaved side of his head, he put the food into the fridge while their son sat down to his usual spot. "Smells awesome, love," he praised his mate and grabbed plates and stuff to set the table for three.

"Thanks, babe! And hello, son of ours," he turned to the pouting teen. It was amazing how time flew by, really. Corey still recalled nearly daily when they found each other with that little introvert boy. It was truly love at first sense, due to the dark-haired and eyed child's powers and nature. And look at him now! A raging teenager with issues. Almost a grown shaman!

"How was practice?" the beast asked at the table, serving the meal for the others. Everyone knew about the difference between the two top shaman trainees. They were the most gifted with Gabrielle, but it was no surprise that her edgy nature fit well with the parent she chose. And for sure Shawn’s influence made that wild careless personality bloom in the fertile raising environment of the other main shaman's care. The two teens were total opposites, and yet their powers kept uniting during practices. Well... when they didn't get on each other's nerves, that is…

Jim agreed with Corey's thoughts, letting him know that through their bond. He remembered that first night too when they both sat down opposite the small child whom they just saved with a few others. That was the night Jim stepped into the role of their mentor. They quickly realized how Paul's nature and energies were close to Jim's and they grew close even if Corey was the shaman and the tall guitarist more like a warrior/teacher and protector of their clan.

Sitting by the table and thanking Corey for the food with a warm smile, Jim looked at their boy trying to find the right words to say not to sound mean or something. "Practice was fine until she started babbling about some nonsense..." Pauly grumbled, sticking his fork into a baby corn with more force than necessary. And of course she meant Gabrielle.

"What nonsense?" Jim asked and took a bite from the delicious chicken.

"About some spiritual journey that is coming. She keeps bringing that up, but it's bullsh... stupid, because I should sense it too if she does, but I don't," he grumbled staring into his plate then decided that he needed food so he started eating with much more enthusiasm.

Corey looked long and meaningful at his mate and shared some thoughts with him. With the passed years their skills as mates grew as well. And the mind-link worked between them as naturally as breathing.

"I'm glad you still like my cooking," he chuckled partly from Jim’s thought and mainly from the way and speed the teen made it disappear… well, really only the spirits knew where ‘cause he was lean and slim, sporting a fair share of muscles with nearly no fat at all on his bones. "You are as tall by now as I am," he ended his thought aloud and had to laugh. Being as tall as him was not much of a task.

"Remember son, females sense the future sooner. Especially if it's something threatening. What did she tell you about that journey?" He had to ask. What he and Jim have been sensing all along could be connected to what the shaman girl has.

What Pauly told them was concerning, to say the least, and the mates agreed on that through their bond and long look while their son was eating as if nothing else existed on the world but the food in front of him.

Jim snorted and had to cough as he nearly choked on his bite from Corey's comment on Paul's height. It was funny, really with Jim's height. He still stayed the tallest in their clan. "Corey's right about that..." Jim murmured and chewed on some veggies while looking over to their son.

"Nothing much. She just keeps repeating that some journey is ahead of us that can go in the right or bad direction depending on our decisions. Don't ask me who the 'we' are in this. She was so fu... very cryptic about it and acted so smug that she had something I couldn't sense. She's so annoying sometimes I could... Okay, whatever."

"Interesting..." Jim stroked along his beard, glimpsing at Corey as if agreeing on something again. "Maybe after you're finished, you could fetch Gabrielle for us? We have plenty of ice cream. At least loving that is one thing you have in common," he couldn't help a little chuckle, especially seeing the "oh hell no" grimace on their son's face.

The other dad had to bite his lip and turn away taking the empty dishes to hide his dirty grin. Poor kid. Life is so mean... Now it was his turn to cough and not choke on his laughter.
"Your dad is right. Please bring Gabrielle over and we all can talk about this. You know we have been talking to you all about the omens when we ignored them and almost lost all the clan. Be the more mature, Pauly," Corey turned from the sink and gave the kid a reassuring smile. He was a good kid. Corey loved him with pride.

Jim was smiling under his moustache too but mostly from how Corey tried to gently influence Pauly and make him see through his teen-ish defiance. Nonetheless, he was right.

Said teen returned Corey's look and sighed. "Whatever..." he grumbled under his breath after his last bite and stood to do as he was asked. He might have his contradicting feelings about Gabrielle and bringing her there, but he wasn't stupid. He'd learned his lessons from his dads. Clearly remembered all the stories they had told them during the years. And the importance of not ignoring what their kind can sense.

With that he walked out of the apartment to leave the soul mates alone for a few minutes until he managed to bribe the shaman girl into coming with him. Yes, ice cream worked for both of them, they'd learned that a long time ago.

"What you think?" Corey asked Jim once Pauly left. "I think we should do a séance maybe? With Pauly we are enough for it..."

"Sounds like a good idea. Things are lining up too much to ignore them," Jim nodded looking over at his mate as he rubbed his hand through his wavy hair on the right side of his head. "We have to get as much information about this as possible. I have a bad feeling."

As the kids got back, Pauly sat down back to his place without a word and looked expectantly at his dads. Jim understood that look and got up to get the bowls and the ice cream with one of the whipped cream cans and placed everything onto the table, waving with his hand for the kids to serve themselves.

"Hey Gabrielle, how are you? Get some ice cream. Ehm... Pauly said you had sensed some sort of omens?" Corey came closer too, paying close attention to the kids. Yeah their powers matched on many levels, even if they didn't...

"Hello, Corey! I'm fine, really," the girl pulled the box to herself to scoop some out with a naughty smug grin that was kinda always present on her pretty heart-shaped face. "Yes, it keeps coming back to me. In my dream even and often awake too. But only just the feeling and I can't remember the exact dream," she explained to the others clearly proud about her skills.

"I see… We’d like to know more if we can. You see, we have to be prepared for anything that might come," Corey smiled at the teens as Pauly rolled his eyes at the girl's wide grin for him. "After you're done with the ice cream we could have a séance, if you don't mind. With Pauly we are just enough. Pauly? What you say? You help?"

Jim smiled on Gabrielle's cheerful and confident behavior. Just like he expected from the energetic girl or rather young woman by then. She was still small like back in the days when she became Shawn's protégé. She was shorter than Pauly, but her presence certainly filled the wide open space of the leaders' apartment. Still, Jim could feel and see it too how the kids' energies reacted to each other. Similarly like it always happened when he was close to Corey.

"Whatever, dad..." the other teen shrugged and pulled the box from Gabrielle when she wasn't paying that much attention. He scooped out some ice cream for himself too then slid it to Jim. "It's better to look into that, as you suggested," he said, which translated in Pauly being intrigued and curious about what Gabrielle might sense better than he. Maybe he even wanted to figure out the why, because surely her being a female of their kind was not all. Or was it?

"Alright then. Thanks for all of you in the name of the clan. Eat up and I get things ready for it in the music room," Corey gave them all a smile and went back to said room. He couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. Somehow that feeling he shared with Jim got stronger all of a sudden. The bad omen seemed to get more intense as he drew chalk symbols onto the floor and placed the candles. As if the mystery got stronger from the threat that they are gonna peek on. Or maybe he was just slightly mad... Nah, no matter how crazy, he couldn't ignore it. But by then he was sure that something huge was about to happen.

Just as he got back from his darkening thoughts, the others came in looking over his work with the alchemist circle's runes and symbols shining up in a sun-like yellow glow after Jim thoughtfully turned off the light to help.

"Come on. You all know what to do, I suppose," he looked at the others, finishing his spell and sitting down by the edge of the circle. He made it just big enough for Gabrielle to sit back on her heels inside while the three males could form a circle with holding hands.

The other three finished eating their ice cream with mostly Gabrielle talking about whatever came into her mind, Jim and (no matter how hard Pauly tried to ignore her) the other male listening to her too. Although Jim's attention was shared between the teens and his mate preparing things in the music room.

Once Jim got the green light from Corey and the kids were done, they put the plates into the sink. Jim tried to shake the bad feeling that was starting to overshadow his own thoughts and feelings too. But he knew there was no use and he shared what Corey was feeling about it too.

Once in the room – after turning off the light – he sat down with the other two while Gabrielle took her place in the middle. Jim took his mate and Pauly's hand too and closed his eyes to focus on their energies and the spell.

Saying the chanting out loud and holding hands with the other males, Corey was leading the ceremony. Soon Pauly joined in and also murmured the spell then Jim started too. The girl in the middle of the circle fell into a trance and the light-like glow that was coming through the carvings on the floor turned orange. The channels were open.

"I wake up in a strange place. Everything is black and white. No, more like faded colors. It's like a swamp or jungle. Many plants and a thick fog. I can sense all kinds of strange creatures but cannot see any of them. They seem to follow me as I go. I feel lost and cut off,” the girl told her vision on a calm, dreamy voice.

While keeping up the chanting, everyone's attention was on what Gabrielle was saying. She was painting a picture Jim didn't remember seeing, but the feeling that she was channeling to them seemed familiar to him from the mostly forgotten hazy dreams. She certainly had a stronger feeling and memories of it.

The mates tried to drink in as many details as they could, because they both knew that what she was saying was connected to the bad feeling they were both having stronger for a while. Jim just hoped she could tell them more about it to make sure they were prepared.

"I can feel new forces in me. More focused ones. But cannot find a way or know where I'm going," she said then moaned holding her head between her hands like in pain. "It’s all so fast. Fights and beasts. Many of them. Teaching and healing. And a fever… Sickness. Dark…" she panted then the lights went out. The connection and the visions ended there.

Corey opened his eyes and tried to focus back after all the flashing images Gabrielle channeled to them. Kneeling up he crawled closer and started calling to the girl to wake her.

They could all feel and see what she did and it was a bit harder for Jim to come back from the trance once it ended, because he was the only non-shaman in the room. By the time he came to his senses, Paul was already moving without a word to pour a glass of water for Gabrielle then he gave it to her. Maybe it was his way of apologizing for doubting her vision, but he wouldn't say anything about that, of course.

"What now?" he looked at his dads questioningly.

"Well... this was definitely in connection with what we've been feeling..." he looked at Corey as if giving the word to him to continue while he collected himself, watching Gabrielle drink from the water and brushing her blond hair out of her face.

"Yeah it is. We wait and pay attention. And carry our weapons and packs everywhere. We cannot be sure, but I somehow feel like it's all magic-related. So if any of us end up in that strange place it can be anytime. And if the attacker is cleaver, and must be to pull off a dimensional transport, then they’ll try to act while we are not prepared. So we will be as much as we can. So far we can't know the targets for sure either," Corey ended his talk with a sigh, already thinking about the small backpacks with a somewhat survival kit in them and that it has to be handed out to everyone. Especially the leading members and the young ones.

"I'll inform the others so everyone will get such packs handed out to them from the storage room. Pauly, you and a few of the other kids could help me pack and drop down the bags by the rooms while I send the word out," Jim stepped into his more practical leader role. "Corey, stay with Gabrielle and maybe inform Shawn too," he glimpsed at the girl, feeling that this séance took quite some energy out of her even if she tried not to show it.

"Okay," Pauly said, not saying or protesting for a change since he knew this was important. And when he thought the others weren't watching, he looked back a bit worried at Gabrielle before leaving with Jim's hand on his shoulder.

 ***

Meanwhile not so far from the building a witch and two shamans were drawing similar symbols onto the ground.

"The others are done?" an older grey woman asked from the powerful witch.

"They will connect with me when they are and we can make the line," the female replied with a nod.

The tasks were easy. Make holes to channel energy. Make lines. Cross them. Choose.

Her thoughts were interrupted by her twin connecting to her senses. The witch waved to the two shamans and they lit the candles and stepped back. The witches walked into the magic circle and started chanting as a grey fog-like force began sweeping through the runes. It won't take long now...

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The Gray clan's garden was loud from all the baby goats. It was strange somehow as new life moved into the old building, the force of life was spreading like a virus. Many pairs had their own babies and the goats started reproducing so much that the clan had to gift little ones of the sacred animals to other clans.

As Corey petted them, he laughed from the small ones’ loud and very fake cries for the food. They practically climbed upon each other and the big ones to get closer to the small beast.

A little peace before who knows what comes… He sighed, sitting down and left the plastic bag to the four-legged beasts to fight over and tear apart. Only a few handfuls of dry food were left in it anyway. He needed this little peace of mind now.

And some more coffee! After the séance they stayed up late to look over the packs and weapons. Jim and Pauly already started to hand them out with the help of Mick and Stacey. They had to be prepared. But as they didn't know much, they also had to continue their lives. The rangers would be back soon to report. But now, coffee.

Walking back he stopped by the bed to feast his eyes on his sleeping mate. Despite all the years that have passed, his love… their love had only gotten stronger. He was still adoring this tall idiot. Placing a cup of coffee on the nightstand, he climbed beside his mate, starting to kiss his chest all over to wake him. Even biting here and there to make sure.

The previous night was long and tiring on many levels so it was no wonder that Jim practically fell into bed and didn’t move much during the rest of the night. Although, like always, he woke up when Corey did to do his usual rounds at dawn – feeding the goats (which was a task he refused to give up on when he was at home) and strengthening the protective spells. And as nearly always, Jim fell right back into sleep, stretching out his long body in one of his favorite positions.

He was also having a nice dream that was starting to get hot. It took him a minute or two to realize that it wasn’t a dream about his mate. It was Corey’s soft lips and… sharp teeth waking him up, his body already reacting with goose bumps as he moaned low. “What did you find this early in the morning?” he asked on his deep morning voice and cracked an eye open when Corey paused near his nipple.

"Breakfast," Corey smirked at him and bit down on his mate's big dark nipple, sucking on it hard to make Jim moan again. He had to pay for falling asleep on him last night...

Of course the other male reacted to that although not with a moan but a hoarse cry as a mixture of pleasure and pain shot down right into his naked groin under the cover, making his cock stir alive. "Fuck... do that again!" he panted slightly out of breath, his big hands finding Corey's warm skin under his tee.

Corey pulled the blanket off Jim and moved on top of the bigger body. Even rubbed his covered one to his lover's. "You didn't ask nicely," he looked at Jim with slightly glowing eyes and a fake pout.

Now both of his eyes were glued to the red beast on top of him, the playful leaking powers of his mate starting to affect Jim's. Which he didn't mind, of course. Especially because the rough fabric of Corey's jeans were nearly painful, yet so awesome against his quickly growing dick.

Licking his lips, Jim met Corey's eyes. He still found that glow beautiful in them. After all this time he was so in love with him that it sometimes felt crazy. "Please? I know this is about some kind of 'revenge'..." he added, kneading the muscles at the small of Corey's back.

"Get out of my head! Mr. 'hit the bed and snooze'," Corey snorted but repeated the bite as asked from him, sucking on the erect nipple long, rolling the little bud between his teeth. Pulling on it even, he let it go then slid down on Jim's body, rubbing his hardness against Jim along the way and laid between his mate's long thighs to smirk at him dirtily.

Jim had to wait to be able to reply once he could do something else than moan and curse from the attention his nipple got, after all. His mate knew how to play dirty and never held that back. Thank fuck. "You might have forgotten it, but... I can never get out of your pretty head," Jim snorted and opened his legs wider for the smaller male, that dirty look making his cock jump excited against his tummy.

"Yeah... I have to drag you along everywhere. You know all my secrets. And I just found the main course of my breakfast," Corey growled low, his beast features already showing, which predicted some wild fuck was in order.

His clawed fingers played along the excitedly jumping cock till he heard Jim's frustrated groans then held the hard meat and sucked on its tip, his fangs rubbing at its sides.

"What a bummer... I have such a cruel, cruel fate..." Jim chuckled, which turned into a smirk as he watched those beloved beastly features push closer to the surface. He was fucked. Or rather was going to be... Not that he'd have any objections against that.

It was kinda time for a full mating anyway... If Corey stopped teasing him already! He could probably hear all these thoughts in his head thanks to their bond that worked the other way around too, but then Jim stopped thinking all together and let himself enjoy the sucking and the fangs on his cock. He always loved how easily Corey could hurt him for real, even if it was never going to happen.

Experimentally he reached out to stroke the slightly curly hair that fell onto the side of his mate's head that was otherwise shaved around. "Hope the main course is satisfying so far..."

The fully changed beast looked up and let his red fog-like power wash over the other male and call out his forces. He was moaning onto the cock in his mouth and swallowed it deep down, growling satisfied on it to drive Jim crazy with the sound and vibrations around his cock which jerked pleased in his throat.

Jim's other hand fisted around the creased linen next to his body as he choked back both a curse and a loud moan from Corey's amazing actions and red power. His own answered the call and together they started forming the usual lilac "fog" around them.

"That damn mouth of yours..." Jim panted slightly out of breath, not being able to look away from what Corey was doing, but the feeling was even better than the sight. The trembling of his body and the pre-cum sliding down on his mate's throat were good enough proofs of that.

"Hmm... Dunno… Not done with the main course yet," Corey said once he let the dripping meat out of his mouth and pushed the adored legs over his shoulders as he started rimming Jim, loosening him up good before getting his well-deserved punishment released on him. His claws moved up and down on the thighs around his neck and his powers started to cover them both. Pulling them deeper into their mating.

"Thank fuck..." It just kinda tore itself out of the guitarist as he let Corey move him as he wanted then it was time for a series of more moans while Corey was working on opening him up, the claws teasing him with the promise of tearing into him and it was just as maddening as that eager tongue in him, or his mate's powers seeping into Jim's every pore, making him throb and kinda squirm for more as he was getting more and more lost and only his sounds of pleasure were leaving him without a pause.

As soon as Corey ran out of patience and thought that enough was enough, after all nothing could be perfect ever, he moved back and peeled the long limbs off him, kneeling up and getting rid of his clothes. Then he just stayed there stroking his own cock lazily, and looking over his panting mate he felt pleased with his work.

"Would you kindly tell me... what the fuck are you waiting for, my beast?" Jim growled clearly needy while feasting his eyes on his naked and very hard mate, his own beast-like features rising to the surface too, although they could never come out as much as Corey's since he was only a half-breed. From the look he got, Jim knew that this sheet was gonna end up in the trash too like so many in the past because of their... beastly mating that included all kinds of bodily fluids. And usually a lot of them.

"You to get irritated and needy, my half-blood," Corey growled back low and going down on his hands and knees started crawling back on top of Jim. He was so very hungry and his power continued covering Jim, his burning eyes and his thoughts linked to the other male made that state very fucking clear. But just to underline it he started licking up on Jim's left inner-thigh and as he got more and more close to his groin, he bit the goose-bumped skin harder and harder, already leaving slightly bleeding marks on his lover.

"Need some lubrication. You have time to prepare in mind till that…" he added on a matter of fact tone and after lifting and opening the long legs wide and getting between them again, he sunk his sharp fangs into Jim's side, sucking on the wound to taste his sweet blood with low, pleased moans.

Well, getting like that from all the teasing and tapping a bit into Corey's beastly nature wasn't hard. Still Jim kept his mouth shut and rather chose to watch that otherwise lethal beast crawl onto him. Fuck, he loved Corey like this and he let him feel it – like always. He remembered those first times when Corey didn't believe it because of how he had to grow up, but Jim made sure to reassure him at least like this that he still found him beautiful. And always will.

Oh yeah, he was doing it again... Corey always seemed to be fascinated with his long legs, especially his thighs and he liked to express that with leaving his bloody marks on them, which only fuelled the bearded demon's lust.

That sharp bite, sending pain and pleasure through his jerking body was half-expected. Still Jim cried out loud and pulled on Corey's hair, but it was not clear if he wanted him to stop or give more. It was often like that with them when they got lost in their instincts and things got bloody while literally tearing into each other. "Fuck.... Oh fuck..." Jim finally managed to utter, panting for air, his side throbbing and bleeding and all he could think of was the need to feel his mate impale him. "Corey!" he dug his nails into the smaller man's back and as he pulled him fully on top of him, his own claws broke the damp skin.

The small beast growled louder from the way Jim cried out his name. Letting the wound go he spit some fresh foamy blood into his palm and slicked his shaft up good then got into position. Locking eyes with his mate he slid inside the very ready body with ease and let the shiver of bliss rush over him. Their powers were coming more alive and swirling around them as he hit home with one hard trust.

Waiting, Jim could only groan and dig his claws into his mate's flesh again, his eyes glued to what Corey was doing and then there was no other choice: he had to throw his head back, exposing his throat on a long moan, the slight burning ebbing down fast as he relaxed his ass as much as he could and enjoyed being filled by that beloved cock.

Their uniting powers only added to the heady feeling and he found himself hooking a long leg around his mate's body, his hands pulling him even closer as if he wanted to melt their bodies together too while losing the battle against his instincts. "Come on... come on! Corey!" The second time his voice carried more urging and desperation, because he couldn't wait to become fully one with his mate at the end.

"You're mine," Corey said with a moan that turned into a throaty groan as he pulled back almost all the way and rammed into the hot body under him. It was so good... Their moans were echoing from the walls as he was working his mate hard and fast. The feeling of their merged powers burning them alone was almost unbearable every time they mated. That hot tightness gripping onto his throbbing meat was adding to the sensation. He had to lean up and lick along the exposed throat. Sending his love and desire through their bond then his fangs sunk into the inviting neck.

"Yes! Always!" the hoarse growl-like answer came, followed by another series of moans, grunts and curses as Corey fucking finally started giving it to him hard and fast and mind-blowing. Their full matings always overwhelmed them both up to the point that they nearly couldn't take it, yet they always could. This paradox always fascinated Jim, but what fascinated him more was giving himself fully to his beast and urging him to do what he wanted. And that's just what Jim did.

"Keep biting me!" Jim grunted and to emphasize his wish – and maybe to fuel Corey's aggression – he scratched up the sweaty back from the shoulders to the contracting ass cheeks.

The beast huffed loud, still sucking on Jim's neck. Pulling back his canines he moved to the other demon's collarbone and bit him harder there, growling as the sweet blood hit his throat again.

Plunging deep and hard into his mate in the urge to make them both come soon and let them become one, his claws dug bloody trails into the thigh around his middle. He was already losing his mind and felt like their powers would peel off his skin from his burning body.

Both their melted together powers and they were ready to explode in the middle of their mating, their bed lightly creaking under the force Corey was fucking into Jim and the tall demon kept crying out with every sharp bite, the pain transforming into pleasure in his brain and making his cock leak like crazy. Reaching down with one bloody hand he roughly grabbed himself and started jerking himself, adding to the already wet sounds of their slapping together skin, the scent of their blood filling his nose.

"Please... I'm so close..." Fill me up! Jim asked the last thought through their bond as his brain was getting fried by the burning and the pure pleasure.

Corey didn't need much either. He just wanted to chase their desire till their peak. He could barely hold back, the burning itch creeping into his every pore and their united lilac power crossing in and out of their being.

He didn't even know where to bite Jim. He was so hungry for the tall demon it was turning him more into a savage beast than usual. Hearing the begging of his mate, he grinded his dick deeper into his man and bit him again by his claiming mark, fulfilling the urge of the mating. He marked his mate as his.

Jim's now glowing eyes widened for a split second as a massive wave of the lilac power shot through him – them – the second Corey bit him on that special mark by the crook of his neck, which never fully healed. He just loved when that scar got torn up to renew the bond, because every time it meant that his mate wanted him as his just as much as the first time the mark got there.

With a desperate cry Jim started shooting his load all over their tummies and his ass began its dance on the pulsing meat in him. Damn, he loved this moment. But what he loved more was when in the middle of their orgasm he grabbed Corey's head to expose the side of his neck where the pair of that bite was and then he sank his sharp teeth into it to make Corey his too, completing the circle and making their united power explode.

As the beast got bitten in his mark too and their powers exploded along with their earth-shattering orgasm, he pushed harder into his mate and moaned long into the mark while probably the whole house got to know that they were mating. The shock waves of their united forces lingered on and lightly washed over them for a few more minutes before it ebbed down and let them try to breathe again. This was the most perfect thing in the universe!

Coming down Corey pulled his canines back and laid his forehead against Jim's shoulder to pant wildly for air.

His pair was trying to do the same and maybe regain some conscious thoughts too as his nails and teeth returned to their normal state as well as his face. He wiped his messy hand into the ruined sheet, the other caressing Corey's bloody back. Once again, he couldn't find the words to describe what just happened between them, but he got used to that during the years, because he felt like this every fucking time. Earlier he was afraid that this would get less frantic and crazy, but luckily everything stayed like at the beginning. And now he simply let himself just enjoy and bask in this feeling and being still one with his mate physically, mentally and spiritually.

Maybe half an hour and some cleaning up later the mates were dressed, drinking coffee in bed with the bloody sheet somewhere on the floor when there was a knock on their door. It took only a split second for Jim to focus and realize it was their son. "Come in!" he called out.

To that a kinda embarrassed and flushed teenager came in wearing a Led Zeppelin tee, black skinny jeans and Converse sneakers. "Sorry for... ahem... bothering you, dads, but the rangers are back," he said, trying to look everywhere else but on the visible bite marks.

"Thank you, Pauly. Would you join us, please?" the beast asked their son, very visibly amused from his embarrassment. Putting down the coffee mug he waved to Jim to get going right away. He wanted to know if the rangers found anything that might add to that puzzle that was forming to reveal itself before them.

***

Meeting the similarly flushed males in the nearby conference room was funny, to say the least.

"Sir. We searched the nearby surrounding in 360. We found witch summoning circles in the east and the west," Craig showed it even on the area map laid down on the table. "They seem to be sleeping ones. Not much to do with them. We will go back to that," he pointed at the west location "and look around if they come back to check it. Also that one looks like not channeling the energy correctly, just pulsing. Maybe we can capture the witches."

"I thought we finally cleared them out a bit," Corey mused watching the marks on the map. This could only be higher class witches’ work. That kind hasn’t dared to come this near them for years. Many years. It had to be connected to what Gabrielle saw and felt.

"Alright. Jim and I will join you tonight then. Jay, Chris, please inform everyone you can and give out all the weapons and packs today. And everyone MUST carry it even to the bathroom. I don't want to lose anyone. Alright?"

Like always after a full mating, Jim stood closer to Corey than usual, the remains of their powers lazily moving around them, painting the air with that lilac hue to those who could see it. Jim stopped himself from rolling his eyes good-naturedly at how much his mate enjoyed all the blushing going on around them. Yeah, everyone knew what they were up to, but no matter how many times they did it, mostly everyone kept blushing and Corey loved that so much for some reason that it usually made Jim chuckle low or at least put a lop-sided smile onto his face.

But the news about the witch activity wiped that smile off as he stood there a half step behind Corey, looking at the map while stroking his long beard a bit nervous. This wasn’t good. Things were starting to fall into place too much for his liking. He agreed with Corey, these things were all connected.

“Most of the packs were handed out last night, but there are still a few in the first storage room,” Jim told Chris and Jay. “Good work, guys,” he looked around, but his mind was already running a mile a minute thinking about the evening when they were gonna check out things for themselves too.

"Which reminds me that we are not armed either and without that little backpack," Corey muttered half-aloud as the room emptied. "We will take Jay and Sid with us to that direction in the west. And the rest of them can lurk around. It's maybe not a summoning circle but the connecting points of a bigger gate. And if they make five around the clan we probably all will poof to that place Gabrielle made us see. I have to admit it, though… teleporting a whole clan is a way to get rid of competition," he sat down thinking. They have to break those power portals. "Pauly, please go to Shawn and ask him over. I want his help with the other team, and hear his opinion about this all. Fetch Mick too, please…"

"I already have our packs at our place. We were just in a hurry and forgot to bring them with," Jim nodded stroking his wavy hair out of the right side of his face as he put a hand on his sitting mate's shoulder while he himself stayed standing.

While he listened to Corey talking, Jim was wondering from where these strong witches did come. Did someone ask for their help again? Or they wanted revenge for the clean up they did 10 years ago? Or they wanted territory around this area again and thought that taking out the strongest clan would be the solution to that? There were too many questions now that they had actual proof that something was cooking here...

"Right away," Pauly nodded with a serious expression on his young face. The actual older age of his soul was showing in his look and dark eyes now as he was focusing on his task, leaving the pouty teen attitude behind.

"How do you want to do this?" Jim asked lightly caressing Corey's shoulder while they were waiting for the other two leaders.

"Have no fucking idea. I have to be there to sense that spell and then hopefully I can break it. But I can't see into the future like Paul did. I'm still not like my clan was," he shrugged a bit bitterly. During the years on his mate's side the small beast more or less accepted himself. The creature he became after growing up in an arena fighting to be fed and to survive. The greatness that was in the stories about the red-haired small beast shaman clan was more than he ever would be. But at times like these he wished he could. Seeing into what may come would be so fucking useful... He should have learned more from Paul, the previous shaman.

"But anyway... We go there and improvise. That always worked for us. What can go wrong? Hmm?"

"It's okay, love. We're gonna solve it like always," Jim tipped Corey's head up to lean down for a soft kiss, sending some reassurance and love through their bond and the kiss too since he knew that being the last of his clan and not being able to learn more about his powers on his own was one of the sore points for his mate.

Then just when he straightened up, the door opened and the other guys came in, followed by both Pauly and Gabrielle (already with their backpacks). Jim looked at them feeling up their mood. They were more curious than anything else. And happy that this time no one sent them out during the council.

 ***

True to their plan the armed demons were prepared for everything in the evening as the two investigating groups neared the circles. One was led by Corey, the other by Shawn since they were the most powerful shamans of the clan at the moment. Sticking close to his mate, Jim kept his eyes on their surroundings, his fingers itching on the handles of the throwing knives at the ready, goose bumps breaking out on his skin time after time from the tension in the air. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to near that circle, but they had to break it if they wanted to keep their clan safe.

The way the symbol was pulsing, the strange foreign energy was not for Corey's liking either. He actually could feel it from afar. The energy came with some kind of a cold breeze and a grey fog and some shimmering light. But anyway, there it was.

He, Jim and Jay stood at the edge of the summoning circle and the other two males looked at Corey with expectation… But he hadn’t had the slightest clue about what to make of the runes.

"Maybe I try the usual closing spell. Chant with me, I will connect with you two. And Chris, please look out till we try." So here goes noting…

~~

Not too far from a tall building the Bloodstone's high elder was watching the four males down in the alley. "It will surely work, right?" he turned to one of the twin witches standing next to him.

"Yes. The activator is any basic spell-breaking force that contains shaman powers and at least two people. Those are the keys to the gate. It is a very complex spell and been working on it a lot to fit the… prey perfectly," the woman smirked. So far everything was done as they planned. Nobody was foolish to risk an attack against the by then huge and strong Gray clan. If you want to fight a snake, first cut its head off...

~~

Jim could feel Corey's confusion and hesitation about what to do. That told the tall demon enough to know that this was something new even for his quite experienced shaman pair. Well, of course it didn't make him feel any less concerned. Meddling with unknown magic could backfire easily and that bad feeling was only getting stronger in Jim.

Still, he started chanting, feeling Chris and Sid looking out for any outside danger that could threaten them. Once Corey connected to them and started the actual spell, Jim could feel it in his bones: something was wrong.

The feeling that something was not right was strong in the beast too. But he had to try. This was the basic shaman chanting only someone with such powers could use to break seals and spells. And as far as they knew, it was threatening all the clan.

So far the powers from that symbol haven't reacted at all. The same slowly pulsating light and energy were rising up from the runes. Corey took a deep breath and started the second part of the chanting. Seeing from the corner of his eye that Chris wandered further away, looking over the street while Sid stood in his place.

For this second verse of the breaking spell the runes seemed to pulsate faster, the smoke, or more like thick fog started to cover them all slowly as the chant went on. No turning back now.

~~

"It's starting," the witch told excitedly to the demon noble. "They are predictable. It was easy to make them believe that the whole clan was in danger. These fools always run and inspect it themselves," the witch’s voice was full of spite. She and her sister were cooking their own little plan while helping out the Bloodstones. With that little red animal the last of that kind and the power he held would be gone. No more obstacles will stand in her and her twin’s way from taking the position of the most powerful witches. It was only a matter of time when the beast learned how to unlock those forces. They were too strong and controlling too much already. They had ten years. It was time to change the setting.

~~

There was a split second when Corey actually felt frightened. And even if he shrugged it off fast, he knew that Jim could feel it too. By then they were way too deep into the spell. The pulsing of the runes before them stopped, and the fog thickened around them quickly. The three males could feel only each other and a strange cold power piercing through them, making their bones feel the cold as their chanting got louder and faster nearing the end of the spell. Then it was over. The last word was said and eerie silence fell upon them.

After a few seconds the fog started to clear but they still saw everything white and grey. Corey looked at Jim for support but he only saw confusion on his mate and Jay's face. Then they could slowly look around... The feelings got familiar too… Gabrielle's dream… They were standing on a small piece of ground. It was almost like it was levitating in the thick fog. Tall dark tree-like plants, lots of vegetation and water.

"Fuck...." That was all the small shaman could manage to comment.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Needless to say, the tall demon could still taste his mate’s fear on his tongue as the fog cleared out somewhat and he could look around too. They were in that strange place from Gabrielle’s dream. Another… dimension perhaps? Because the whole place had a very different vibe from what they were used to, not to mention those faded colors around them. With all these monstrously big plants and trees and the humidity, the scenery should have had bright greens and other vivid colors, but they were pale and much gloomier-looking.

Jim wanted to echo Corey’s comment, but was still too stunned from their new foggy environment and the spell that brought them there. So this was the goal of the enemy? Take them out of the equation without a real fight. Typical attitude, but he didn’t expect much more from such cowards. In a fair fight the Grays could probably overpower them with ease. So this solution was left for them, it seemed.

Exchanging a long look with Corey, Jim decided to take things into his hands. “Jay, look around for a way to get off this… thing,” he looked down at the levitating piece of “island” under their feet. “Maybe there are strong enough roots to climb off to the ground,” he said, checking if he had his backpack and weapons. Luckily it seemed they got transported along with them and Jim felt so damn happy that he’d decided to have his katana with him too, just in case.

As Jay wandered off to the side a bit, Jim did the same in the opposite direction, but he wasn’t looking for a way down. He tried to strain his eyes to look as far out as possible, although the thick fog and the tall trees and plants of the “rainforest” made it difficult to see far.

With a sigh he walked back to his mate and put his big hands on the narrow shoulders, waiting until Corey looked up at him. “You okay, love?”

"No," the beast muttered low. Jim could feel it anyway. It was no use to say he was okay and all was cool.

How the fuck could he be so stupid??? He should have tried to stop the spell they were chanting when he had the bad feelings. They would have managed somehow. But the ones they had left behind.... Fuck... That song they had a few years back started playing in his mind... The irony of it all.

"I'll be okay. Don't worry, babe. We have to find a gate home. This was a one-way only kind," he looked down at the runes that kinda self-destructed themselves. "Maybe it's a path. Just we don't see it," he said thinking out loud and looking out at the edges of the little platform while letting his power scan their surroundings.

"Here. Come this way," he looked back at the other males, pulling one of his short swords out just in case, and stepped into 'nothing' and kept walking on it. "It's magical. Keep close behind me and really DON'T peek down, ‘cause if you look, it will vanish."

Of course Corey wasn’t well and he was clearly blaming himself for ending up here. Jim knew better than to say anything verbally, but he made sure to make Corey feel through their bond that all was gonna be okay and that they would figure this out and fix it together with time. Now they had to get somewhere hopefully safer and less exposed to anyone or anything to see them. They were in an unknown world, after all. They couldn’t know what might be lurking between the trees and plants. Not to mention that the air was so thick with magic that even Jim could clearly feel it and judging by the way Jay kept absently rubbing his hand against his thigh, he could too. Jim was curious how that might affect his shaman mate.

“Shit…” was the first word he muttered under his moustache as he got behind Corey and stopped himself in the last moment from looking down and making them fall. Getting their bones broken in such a place wasn’t a good idea… But he trusted his mate more than anything so he kinda literally followed him blindly until their feet hit the actual ground and they tried to decide which way to go.

"Fucks me up hugely," Corey growled at Jim’s unsaid question. He could feel his beast features coming forth without anything he could do about it. Stepping on solid ground was a good feeling at least. And as they looked around he couldn't shrug the feeling that the magic lingering in the air so thick was familiar to him. And as it heightened his senses, he could tell that it felt similar to Jay too. "Let's go along this riverbed, it should lead to... people – if there are any around – and drinking water."

~~

Sid just stood there and stared at the black burnt ground where the symbol was with his clan members a few minutes ago. They were all gone. The demon kept howling 'fuck' as he started to panic and run around in all different directions, unable to decide what to do. He should get Chris and the others. So he ran out of the alley to find Chris as he kept howling curses-like desperate cries.

~~

"I can already see the rest of that clan of animals act just the same," the elder laughed, flicking the butt of his cigarette down from the window where they were standing. He was pleased with the witches and shamans’ work. Now it was time to take over his own clan and lead them back to the position they deserve. Without the interruption of such animals.

~~

“I’m sorry, babe,” Jim murmured to Corey but otherwise nodded and followed his mate with Jay protecting their back. Jim was still holding onto that throwing knife and forced his fingers to relax a bit so he could actually throw it if needed.

His demon features were less obvious than Corey’s – only his eyes were slightly glowing – since the magic and different vibes didn’t affect him as much as they did the shaman… and apparently Jay? With a light frown Jim glimpsed at the younger demon who just stopped scratching his side.

“What? It’s just itchy a bit,” he shrugged at the questioning look and swirled one of his twin swords that were similar to Corey’s just somewhat longer.

“Okay, man. Let us know if it gets worse. We have to stay healthy and in one piece. We don’t know anything about this place and how it might affect us…” Jim told him, glimpsing a bit worried at his mate and his very visible beastly features which Corey could usually hide if he concentrated enough, but Jim knew this time it wasn’t going to happen. Then he rather focused on the natural trail they have started following in hopes of some civilization and water. The bottles they had in their back packs wouldn’t last long in such humidity. Yes, trying to focus on the more practical things was his kind of way of coping with the new situation. It was much better than a panic attack…

Jay felt strange to the small shaman as well. But his senses started to focus on other energies. Halting the others he let his powers scan the site. "We are being followed. Jim, remember Gabrielle's visions?" he whispered to them, focusing to the right. Between the thick fog and rich vegetation some figures were moving, he could make out some white and red colors on their skin. They felt like "ghouls…" Corey said out loud, frowning. Creatures feeding on human meat were known in their own dimension too. From time to time some appeared. "Maybe there are humans here too… Come on. They won't attack us directly. But can be tricky so pay attention."

As they walked along the riverbed it started to change into a river, luckily for them and their supplies. They just had to decide how to get home now…

“Oh yeah…” Jim murmured under his moustache, seeing the pale shadows now too. He remembered something like them from their séance. Well, flesh-eating creatures like that didn’t help on relaxing either, but oh well, they had worse enemies before. He just hoped they wouldn’t try any of those tricks on them. They weren’t the kind of prey they would prefer since all three of them were demons, but one could never know in an unknown world.

The tall demon was about to turn and tell Jay to pay extra attention not to let them attack from the back, but the drummer was already on it. That made Jim smile a bit under his moustache. At least they were stuck here with one of their best guardians.

Seeing the water with the fog over most of its surface made things look a bit brighter for them at least. The question was if the water was drinkable.

"Maybe we should rest a little and look around what these trees and all are," the beast sat down on a bigger rock, trying to make something out of the rainforest-like thick plants. This moist air was tiring them out faster than it was for his liking. Maybe they will have to make a camp somewhere. None of them knew what happens around here after nightfall.

~~

Not so far from the trapped demons, three other males were walking among the dark tall trees. Their leader sniffed the air then looked at the two following him close behind. Intruders came to their land.

~~

Yes, they weren’t used to such humidity back home. It made their skin glisten and their shirts stick to their bodies. Wiping his forehead with the back of his hand, Jim looked around where they stopped. “Yes, a camp could be set up over there,” he answered his mate’s thought while pointing to the left, a bit further from the edge of the water. It was protected from one side by the roots of a huge tree and that same tree gave them good spots between the branches to keep an eye on their surroundings. They’d have to take turns in their watch.

“Jay, collect some wood to start a small fire. I saw trees that looked pretty much like some at home so probably burning them wouldn’t release some toxic shit,” he ruffled his hair then slid his throwing knife back into its sheath. “I’ll climb up on that tree to keep an eye on the ghouls and look around from above a bit while you check out the plants,” he told Corey. “Some protecting spells might come handy if we stay here for the night,” he suggested then moved towards the tree.

Climbing up on the thick branches wasn’t hard. But just when he was about to look around, they heard some strange noises. To Jim it sounded like… whales? Frowning he climbed a bit higher where he could look out over the water between the branches and he… couldn’t believe his eyes…

They were whales, alright. But he expected to see them in the water… not in the sky. “You have to be fucking kidding me…” he mumbled under his moustache. Looking down at the other two, he answered their unsaid questions. “They are flying whales! Fucking flying whales!” he yelled down with disbelief.

"Nice…" Corey snorted. What else? Ghouls and flying whales… And yeah, protecting spells. Somehow he felt a bit insecure about his magical skills since they ended up here.

Jay came back and started a fire. The beast still just stood there feeling lost. Oh yeah. They were lost. Thinking about it he wanted to see the whales too. "Come on Jay. Climb like a beast," he waved to the younger one and with ease they jumped up upon the tall tree, standing next to Jim. "Where?"

“There. See?” Jim put an arm around Corey’s shoulder and with the same hand pointed towards the two whales that were “swimming” closer, following the river upstream. “It’s kinda awesome,” Jim smiled somewhere above his mate’s head, because true to his words the sight was magical.

“This place is a real mind-fuck without any real hallucinogens,” they heard Jay from a branch above them and that made Jim chuckle a bit, his hand caressing Corey’s shoulder to make him ease up a bit. He hated to feel him so tense. “Look at it as an adventure… Our tenth anniversary honeymoon?” he murmured into his ear.

"If you insist…" Corey rolled his eyes but smiled watching the truly majestic animals moving in the air. "They are amazing..." he whispered leaning against Jim's body and let his mate's calming attempts work on him. Closing his eyes he let the sound of the flying whales go through his body and mind. Like some kind of led meditation.

The feeling that truly bothered him the most was that he felt it all familiar. Not like being here before. More like the senses and the magic felt like something he knew well. But how??

"I feel like I've been here before," Jay added above them just like a comment to his thoughts while he kept scratching his left side lost in his thoughts.

"Let's make a camp. The plants seem harmless as far as I can know. And many are the same as at home. So hopefully we’ll find some edible fruits too,” Corey finally said.

~~


"The whales will show the way," the nearby local creatures' leader said. He was the tallest of the three with short slicked-back black hair and white skin. The others, a long haired and bearded male and a bald even smaller one followed him with practiced ease through the thick bushes, cutting their way. They all could sense the others by then.

~~

It was good that Corey felt calmer now that he let Jim’s energies seep into him a bit to help in that. But hearing both males saying that this place felt familiar to them was strange to say the least. It wasn’t for Jim. Or rather not really. The little familiar feeling he felt about it was coming from Corey through the bond and the memory of Gabrielle’s dream. So in this regard he was the odd one out.

“You two can go finish setting up the camp and searching for food. I can cover quite a range from here with ease. I’ll stand guard. Also I had put some energy bars into the backpacks. Last minute decision,” he shrugged then let Corey go after a peck on his lips.

“Good thinking,” Jay said already starting to climb down to busy himself with the tasks.

After a smile Jim watched them both reach the ground then he found a better place to sit and carry his gaze around, trying to glimpse only a few times at the unbelievable creatures passing them.

Corey started to make place for the runes all around their camp base to form a protective shield. He just noticed that his red fog-like power started to leak from him and was swirling around him like a second aura. He couldn't do anything about it... The magic-filled air got that reaction out of him.

Maybe he could use it. His powers should be stronger here and if he really calms down, he should focus on his skill and use it more to their help. But the thoughts about that summoning circle and how it could work kept coming back.

Up at his post Jim tried to keep an eye on everything. Truth be told, this part of the forest felt calm and nice aside from the humidity, but he was starting to get used to that. And of course aside from the ghouls. But they kept their distance so far, so that was good. Also, no other exotic animal came this way, luckily. Just a few strange birds here and there, making kinda eerie noises as the night was starting to fall. From that branch Jim could admire as not one but two moons have started to climb upwards on the horizon. One was roughly the size of their own moon just bluer with a tint of green, the other thrice the size of that but pale with a faint yellowish hue at the edges.

Yeah, they were definitely far from home.

 

Jukai” by Useless-girl

With a sigh he looked down at their little camp, watching his mate placing the runes. He was still nervous and upset probably both from his “failure” at the magic circle and because of this place that was affecting him the most. And through their bond Jim too. Although the tall demon could still hold his beastly features back with some more concentration, his blue powers were leaking around him too as if wanting to react to Corey’s even from this far.

Sending some more calming energies and his love for his mate, Jim turned his eyes towards the forest again, searching for any sign of civilization. Smoke, or a tall building, some port by the river, but wherever he looked that endless forest was stretching in all directions. How were they supposed to get out of here?

Placing the last rune and putting up the spell they were finally protected. Corey added one of the crystals they all had with them to the barrier so they could go in and out easily.

Sitting back he noticed again how Jay was scratching his side. "Jay! Are you sure that you're okay?"

"Yeah sure. Probably all that moisture here. But what do you think, Corey? Why does this place feel so familiar?" the younger male came closer and sat by the shaman.

"I have no idea. I was born on Earth and was raised there. I was only a year old when they took me, so I couldn't know things from my parents. But my power remembers this place. With you… I'm not sure…" Corey started as they watched the twin moons rising.

"I was bigger… About five or six when I became a slave. And Robb tried to brainwash me but he couldn't. But even if… I'm not sure from where I could know this… but those moons were in my dreams a lot of times," Jay added laying back to watch the sky.

Corey just hummed trying to feel the lurking creatures around them. The sky was also magnificent. And in the distance even a few other planets were slightly showing.

"Someone is coming. Not ghouls."

Above them, just under the top of the protective shield Jim leaned back against the tree trunk too, a bit more relaxed now that the barrier was up, both Corey’s and his powers fuelling it thus making it twice as strong as a normal one. Letting a long leg lightly swinging in the air, he admired the night sky again, feeling that Corey found it fascinating too.

In a minute that small smile brought by that slowly faded and he got more on alert, taking a defensive position as he could feel it through their bond that someone was approaching. Looking towards where they came from, he saw movement. Straining his eyes, he counted probably three figures, but the fog was still thick between the trees and plants. He warned Corey through their connection, also telling him that he was going to stay hidden, but ready to attack. With that he slid a black throwing star into his right, and a knife into his left, ready to protect his mate and Jay.

Standing up and letting his senses scan over the said direction again, Corey closed his eyes to focus more on what he could feel. "Three males. Feels like demons too. They are coming our way. Get ready, though I don't feel danger from them," he said to Jay and Jim could hear it through their bond.

"Alright let's get back-to-back, Cor. I hope we can get some answers from them," Jay added pulling his swords out.

Jim let his mate know that he was ready for the encounter too and then they waited. After a while the hiding demon could feel their presence too and probably the arriving males also could tell that there were three of them, even if they saw only two by the small fire.

 

From behind the branches he watched them come closer, their figures becoming clearer as the fog opened up and swirled around them. All three of them were wearing black clothing, similar to what they were wearing, yet it was somehow different in the details. Jim’s thumb rubbed along the star in his hand, a nervous energy coursing through his veins as adrenaline started entering his bloodstream.

The strangers slowly came closer, their – especially the taller leader’s – power surrounding them and telling the onlookers that they were strong. Right before Jim would’ve told Corey through their bond to tell them they were close enough, they stopped and silence fell upon the small gathering.

Corey and Jay could see the others as well. It was clear who their leader was as they came closer.

The taller guy walked up right in front of Corey, stopping outside the barrier. The other two split up and stood at the other two sides of the triangle-shaped shield walls.

Corey could feel Jay swinging his swords around, and he also grabbed them stronger, sizing up the other demons – it was clear at least that they were demons. One thing got the shaman's attention and that made him frown. Aside a bigger bush knife to cut their way through the wilderness, none of them carried any weapons at all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

They were fucking gone. Yes, fucking gone. He could use swear words – especially in his head. As the fog slowly dissolved in the air and he saw only Sid starting to panic and run around, Pauly’s chest tightened and his lips pressed together painfully. He wanted to cry out, but he stayed silent, trying to burn every detail into his mind for later and maybe to work through the shock of not knowing what happened to his dads and Jay. He hoped as hell that they were okay somewhere… That the portal didn’t take them into the middle of a volcano or something…

“Fuck!” he voiced his sudden anger and then jumped off from the tree by the mouth of that alley where he’s been hiding and following the happenings. He should’ve warned Corey to stop the chanting when he got that bad feeling, but officially he wasn’t supposed to be that close to action. Not that anyone would’ve been surprised that he snuck after them again. He’s been doing that along with Gabrielle since he was 11 and Gaby 10.

“Gaby…” Paul remembered, his powers already searching for the girl. It took only a minute to calm down enough and feel her in the other direction. At least that meant she was still here. Maybe the others under Shawn’s leadership didn’t break the circle in the end. Maybe they were cleverer than Pauly’s stupid dads!

Grunting he took off running towards the direction from where he could feel Gaby. Only he and Shawn were allowed to call the fierce girl like that. “Get a grip of yourself!” he scolded himself and pushed that thought aside to be able to think about ways how they could bring those three back.

He got there just when Chris and the still panicked Sid told the others that the mated pair and Jay were gone. Both Shawn and Gabrielle’s eyes fell on Pauly’s figure stepping out from the darkness with a pale and grim expression.

“We have to bring them back,” he announced on a determined voice, talking more to Gaby than anyone else.

"We will, Pauly. But right now we should know what the fuck happened. And how the fuck Sid lost them from sight??" Shawn was trying his best to hold back his rage that started to build up inside him. How the hell even??? "The others are bringing some hostages we can ask out but I guess it's too late anyway. It was probably a trap." The grey bearded guy sat down devastated and was just looking at the ground and reaching out one of his hands as a silent request for a hug from his daughter.

Which he got from the blond girl as Pauly's dark eyes fell on the still shaken up and kinda guilty-looking Sid. "It's not his fault. I saw it all. It was indeed a trap, Shawn," he frowned looking down at the hugging two. His mind was now surprisingly clear, analyzing what he'd seen and what they should do. "It was to draw them in and once the spell was activated, it sucked them to... somewhere. I should've stopped them..." he sighed, trying not to show his pain, but Gabrielle probably knew him too well – and could feel some of what he was feeling, because despite not being able to sync their powers all the time, they still reacted to each other.

"We don't have any time to waste. We have to investigate that circle. Don't do anything about this one until we learn more. It's too risky. Gaby, will you come help me to take a look at this one?" he asked but didn't wait for an answer just moved towards the not activated circle, calling forth his powers to try and test what kind of magic was used there.

"No, Pauly! Stay away from that shit!" Shawn stood up practically yelling at the kid. "I don't even know how to tell this all to Mick. I don't need you two to be in any danger. You two go back home with Sid and Chris and the hostages. I inspect the runes and follow you all a bit later," he said in a "no objections" type of voice he always used to shut up everyone.

The teen froze mid-step and pulled his hand back before it could touch the invisible lingering energies of the dormant circle. He turned around to glare at Shawn with his swirling emotions. They didn't have time for this now, but seeing the older demon's eyes and hearing his voice, Paul pressed his lips together and with some huffing marched past the others, not looking at anyone just heading into the direction of their home.

"Good boy… Gaby, you go too and keep an eye on him. Now I ask you to stop him from anything stupid," Shawn turned to the girl who bit her lip and nodded. It was indeed a turn of events when she might have to hold back Pauly. She thought it was better if she didn’t comment and went to catch up with her almost brother.

After all, even the fights and differences couldn't make them feel otherwise. They were the two shaman trainees and their powers always reacted to each others’. She always thought of the much calmer and thoughtful boy as her brother. And seeing her brother like this was making her heart ache too, beside the pain she clearly felt through their powers. They had to figure out something. Maybe she could steal some of those old books on summoning from the old leader, Paul's room...

That damn Shawn… What if they were in danger? What if they were already dead? But no, he couldn’t think like that. They had to be fine wherever they ended up. Stupid spells! Stupid enemy! Why did they have to fuck up things for their clan? They didn’t hurt anyone unless it was necessary. They were leading a relatively peaceful life. And Paul loved his family. He still couldn’t remember his original one. Not even after all these years. He only remembered how they were chained together and how scared he was and that it was so cold in the dungeons. But then the now disappeared demons came and saved them. They took them in, gave them a home and a loving, warm and strong family. They kept training them to be able to defend themselves… And two of them practically became Paul’s dads.

Despite all the pouting and huffing, Pauly loved them deeply and seeing them disappear made him hurt like hell. He didn’t want to stay alone – although that would never really happen with a clan of such size, but still. Corey and Jim were his closest family. He didn’t want to lose his family again…

“You know I won’t stop trying, right?” he looked at Gabrielle once Sid and Chris “dropped them off” by the mated pair’s door. Glimpsing around, Paul lightly grabbed her arm and pulled her into the empty apartment, looking into her blue eyes in the half-light. “Gaby, I need your help. This clan needs them back. I need them back…”

"You know that I would help you in anything Pauly," the girl looked back smiling into the dark, almost black eyes. "I already was thinking about that book in Paul Gray's room. You know… the summoning ritual one. I could steal that with the keys from my dad. Maybe we can figure out something. Did you memorize the runes?"

"Thanks," he shortly squeezed her arm then let it go to start pacing in the living room area, rubbing the back of his neck while thinking. "Yes, yes, that's a brilliant idea, Gaby!" he nodded, his mind running a mile a minute. "I'm sure there are some stuff in that book that we can use. I know where my dads keep their ritual stuff. We can use their supply if we find something useful," he said, talking faster than she'd probably ever heard him.

"Yeah, I can remember the runes, especially if I see them again. Wait a sec..." he looked around and walked to the kitchen table, rummaging in the pile of lyrics until he found a clean paper and a pen then quickly drew up the five runes along the edge of the magic circle. "They looked something like this and kept glowing a few moments longer after they were gone," he explained, his long fingers playing with the pen absently. "We should steal the book once most of them are asleep, although I bet there'll be more guards posted outside after what just went down..."

"I can sneak past them. You know that," Gabrielle gave the boy a naughty smug smirk. She tried to keep her cool and support Pauly with staying calm… Okay, calmer. But she kinda enjoyed the way they could plot something sneaky. Couldn't help it, always was the wilder one living off the thrill. "Please try to calm down a little. I go back to Shawn's place and take the keys and I think he has a book too that could help. I'll bring that too and meet you here at midnight. Okay like that?" she asked, hugging Pauly. She had to go back otherwise they won't get Shawn off their heels.

With a sigh to that smirk Paul nodded. Yes, if anyone could sneak around like that then it was the short Gabrielle. "Calm down a little? Pfft... That's likely to happen..." the boy huffed full of sarcasm but tried to take a few deep breaths to do so. She was right, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself. He had to get his cool back to be able to think clearly. "Okay, fine. I'll try to play some guitar to calm down," he gave in to Gaby – as usual. "And yes, we can meet up at midnight. It's only two hours 'till then," he nodded, pulling back from the hug that turned out maybe a bit longer and tighter than he expected, but it was a nice feeling nonetheless.

 ***

Meanwhile Chris headed towards Mick and Stacey's room, but spotted the couple in one of the living areas where the clan members could mingle and talk. Mick was standing by the window in his usual intimidating pose, while his by then wife shot worried looks at him time after time. The black-haired woman turned towards the door the second Sid and Chris stepped in with grim expressions.

"What is it now?" Stacey stood from the couch where she's been sitting.

"It's about Corey, Jim and Jay..." he started, thinking that it'd be easier on Shawn if he didn't have to tell these two. That sentence caught Mick's attention too and as he turned around, his face was unusually serious, blue eyes cutting through the room like sharp knives.

"Don't make me spank it out of you, Chris..." Mick warned him half-serious.

"The magic circle sucked them up. We don't know where they are now. Everyone else is fine. Shawn's examining the circle. A few of the guys protecting him. The rest came home. I'm sorry, man..."

It took the huge demon a few long breaths to cope with the news. Still his face turned to a nice reddish color as he opened his mouth and the words rolled out unstoppable and loud. "WHAT THE FUCK?? AND YOU TWO! YOU WERE THERE TO LOOK AFTER THEM. WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO, MOTHERFUCKERS?? YOU LOST MY BROTHER I SWORE TO NEVER LET GO!!" Mick was out of his mind and started to march towards Sid and Chris, the only thing stopping him was the small female – his wife – practically clinging to the wide muscular body to stop him.

“Easy, baby, easy...” Stacey held him tighter, ready to use more force if necessary, but Mick stopped his frankly scaring power walk towards the shaking other two. The female warrior didn’t look to check on Chris, but she could clearly feel and hear Sid freaking out again. “They probably did all they could. Look at me, look at me!” she slid her small hands up onto the bearded face and kinda forced Mick to meet her eyes. “They’re gonna be fine. We’ll figure out a way to save them. I’m sure Shawn is already working on a plan. We’ll get them back,” she kept talking to him until her husband’s attention was fully on her. “You’ll get your brother back, baby. I promise. We just have to wait what Shawn learns then talk over our options…”

Turning her head to look at the other demons now that she knew Mick wasn’t going to tear their limbs off, she saw how pale and fucked up Sid looked so she nodded towards him, addressing Chris. “Why don’t you escort your friend to his room? He could use some rest,” she winked at the grateful Chris.

"Yeah… Yeah, come on Sid. Mick, I'm sorry. We all love them, you know," Chris said hugging Sid's shaking shoulders and walked him out of the room.

"I fucking hope they get back," Mick huffed hugging Stacy strongly to himself.

"They will..." she squeezed her man too. "Come on, baby, let's just sit down here for a while, okay?" she suggested, leading Mick to the couch and once he sat down, she sat on one of his thighs to hug the wide body with her seemingly tiny but muscular arms. She was worried too, but now her top priority was to keep her husband relatively calm and comfort him a bit until Shawn got back.

Shawn did get back and was heading exactly toward them.

"I just passed the others. Sorry man. I will bring them back whatever it will take. I promise I’ll try my best! We looked around and captured two witches. Stacy, you're in charge to get whatever you can out of them. I will go over to the East Rivers and ask their old shamans about the symbols," Shawn said it fast, his tired eyes already got more dark circles under it.

He wanted to look determined and collected but inside he was also freaking out. Not even knowing how to cope with it all. Corey has always been like his son, he always kept a close eye on the not much younger beast, but now Corey was gone with his half-blood mate and now he and Mick were in charge. "Get yourself together, Mick. We are in lead while they're gone. Look after the rest, please, while I’m out," he patted his friend's shoulder then went to check on Gabrielle.

Mick knew his brother was right and when Stacey jumped up, her mind already clearly set on torturing everything out of those bitches, Mick stood from the couch too, patting Shawn’s shoulder back. “Roger that. Wifey will take care of the torture business and I’ll put up more guards around the perimeter and talk to the other clan members. But don’t go alone. Take at least three with you,” he warned his friend.

The big demon leaned down to peck his wife’s lips once then they all took off to do their duties. Damn fan and damn shit… They should totally learn how to keep themselves fucking separated…

 ***

Gabrielle couldn't wait for Shawn to stop. The demon shaman was not home for long but he kept talking about safety and how she should not follow Pauly, ‘cause he was sure that Pauly would try something. But Gaby was too important to him and Shawn even showed how much he was worried for her. The girl felt sorry for the adults, but even sorrier for Pauly.

So, after the building went quiet, she sneaked up to the old room of the previous leader. She knew he was a great man and he and his father saved a lot of slave kids and was very close to Corey too. That was clear even now as the beast treated the room and Paul's memory with so much love and tenderness. Also, they learned that Pauly was similar in nature to that Paul they named after him. Gaby smiled thinking about that as she closed the door behind her as silently as she could. Looking over the room she could swear that she could feel him. The memory of how proud Pauly was for so long and bragged about his inherited name, and how it meant that Corey loved him special was vivid in her memory. He was so adorable and even the girl felt proud of him.

She walked around the dark room respectfully. Even bowed to the little altar where Paul used to talk to the spirits. He was still around…

"I'm sorry... But I know you loved Corey… and even Jim. Now they are in danger. I promise I bring the book back…" she whispered to the room, hugging the book to her chest and the sudden warm and good feeling rushing over her told her that Paul agreed. Bowing again and saying a thank you she left the orchid-scented room and hurried to Pauly.

Meanwhile said boy was sitting in his dads’ music room that they often called their sanctuary. After Gabrielle had left, he checked out all the books he could think of that might help, but there was nothing similar in them what he saw in that alley. So true to his promise, he picked up Jim’s favorite black and red guitar that Corey had built for him all those years ago and started focusing on his playing. After a while his worries and stirred up emotions seemed to calm down a bit as music took over his body and mind.

Without noticing he’d started playing that recurring riff again that he’s been playing for weeks now. He even heard it playing in his dreams.

He looked up an hour later only when he sensed Gabrielle standing in the door. He let the last tunes resonate through the air as his nearly black eyes looked up from the heavy book pressed against her chest to her face, examining it and her energies for a moment. “He supports our idea,” he said quietly, obviously meaning the late Paul. “Good. Let’s get to work,” he stood up, putting the guitar on its stand and walked to the girl to take the book after a half-hug and a kiss on the top of her head as a ‘thank you’ for borrowing the book.

 ***

In the other dimension Corey stood with his back against Jay, both gripping onto their swords, Jim standing on a tree nearby and they were sizing up the three demons through the power shield.

The one guy, who would be described on Earth as Asian, or more like Japanese, seemed to be the leader and he stepped closer to Corey. "Why are you here? We won't let you take more children," he said on a determined tone as his powers started swirling around him and also around the long-haired guy, the two reacting to each other's energies.

Just think the words, Jim sent to Corey through their bond, meaning that he was ready to attack if the strangers tried anything. Well, those swirling powers weren’t that good of a sign and it made the three stranded demons tense up some more.

“What kind of kids are you talking about?” That was Jay, who kept his eyes on the bald guy with the high cheekbones and a piercing look. Was it possible that… “We’re no damn ghouls like those lurking around,” he added then went silent again, the itching in his side getting stronger, but he couldn’t scratch himself since he needed both his hands for his swords.

"We got teleported here. With a trap. We are kidnapped kids too. But we can defend ourselves if needed. Where are we? What do you want from us?" Corey said, his beast features still out while he was watching the demon leader before him. The guy’s reddish power seemed similar to his and he automatically glimpsed up at Jim.

"Corey, come here," the guy said pulling back his power and stepping back, the long-haired guy going to his side.

Jim met his mate’s eyes for a split second then – like the others – frowned hearing Corey’s name from the other guy’s mouth. How did he know…? But when the buff long-haired guy went there, all became clear: he was called Corey too. He kept his hazel eyes on those two, fingers itching on his weapons and the need to jump down and stand on his mate’s side grew stronger too while the two strangers leaned closer to each other for a mostly silent conversation.

The small red beast was watching that other Corey closely with a frown. What the fuck? Also as they stood close to each other, the two strangers’ energy reacted to each other's more and "Corey's" yellow one mixed with the leader guy's reddish, making it a slowly swirling fire-like haze.

"My mate here says you’re telling the truth. We don't mean harm. We are protecting this place. We felt your intrusion and came to check it out," the leader said pulling his power fully back, his mate did the same and the third guy walked up to them.

"My name is Matt. My mate is Corey and our guardian Paolo. And this is the Jukai," Matt waved his hand to the scenery, even adding a little smile.

Now that it looked the strangers weren't going to attack, Jim relaxed a bit too and sheathed the throwing star but kept his knife in his left hand just in case. Then jumping down from the tree he straightened up next to his mate and looked the others in the eye. Like before with the other mated pair, his and Corey's powers reacted the same way, creating the usual lilac haze around them. The only difference was that they couldn't fully pull it back because of this dimension's effect on them.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Jim. This is my mate Corey and our guardian, Jay. Jay, you can put your swords away," he told the other man, who using the permission did so and absently scratched his side nearly right away. "Believe me, we didn't want to end up here. Some witches' spell transported us here from Earth... another dimension," the tall demon explained, putting away his own knife too. Corey's barrier was still feeding on their combined powers to protect them in case of an attack. "We just want to find our way back home. We don't mean no harm either. You mentioned children being taken from here... You mean to Earth?" Jim frowned then followed Paolo's look which was glued to the scratching demon.

"What's up with him?" the bald and short demon asked with a light frown, looking a bit suspicious, like a good guardian.

"He has an itching tattoo," the beast Corey put his swords away too looking back at Jay as well with a 'come on man!!! Stop it!' look. "We all are kidnapped kids too, as I said. We keep trying to save such kids from slave markets."

"I see," Matt said looking at his clan mates. "Demons from Earth keep coming here to take small children away. I think from the way they keep coming and going there must be a way you could go back. Corey too, right? You're a shaman too. I saw some of your kind before."

"Sorry. Can't help it," Jay mumbled under his nose and dropped his eyes from their Corey's look.

The long-haired Corey looked at Jay clearly lost in his thoughts for a moment. "Maybe we should take a look at that tattoo?" he suggested, glimpsing at his mate, clearly communicating with him through their bond.

Jim didn't like the fact that they didn't know what they were talking about, but at least he knew how that went with mates. But what caught Jim's attention were two things. First that there was a way to travel between the dimensions. That was good news for them, because it meant they could go home once they figured out the “how”. Maybe these demons could help them. The second, was it possible that there were more of Corey's kind here? He asked the second question through their bond too, not wanting to reveal just yet that his mate was the only one of his kind that they knew of.

The small beast nodded to Jim's thoughts in his head. "So maybe some of the salvaged kids were taken from here. Maybe we can offer help in that in return of you helping us to get back..?" he suggested, trying also to save time for Jay who felt a bit intimidated by the sudden interest towards his body art.

"Maybe we can, yes," Matt answered, his dark eyes also glued to the young guardian standing between the mates. "I also see that none of you can control your powers. That weakness is the strongest clue that someone is from Earth."

The beast couldn't help but pull up his upper lip a bit from the term "weakness", though he knew that the others were right. That place held more magic and that equaled stronger demons with stronger skills. Earth and its creatures have been too much mixed and weak for centuries. "Then we have a deal?" he asked, looking over to the three demons.

"Yes, we can give you shelter and directions. If he shows us his tattoo," Matt nodded towards Jay who glimpsed at the mates.

"Okay. Jay, strip. But we want to hear why it is so important."

With that and a giving in sigh Jay popped the buttons on his pants, pulled his tee over his head then pushed the pants down with his boxers, showing off the line art tattoo covering his side from his middle till almost down to his left knee. Jim and Corey stepped back with a frown seeing that the eastern demon motive of a horse and crow spirits were slightly moving. Like vibrating the lines on Jay's skin, making it look like it was coming alive.

The Jukai demons let out a collective humming at the sight and Matt buttoned down his shirt and pants too without a word. After he stripped he turned. Matt's back, including his arms and butt and upper thighs were richly decorated with the vibrating vivid scene of a god playing drums to call the dragons.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

For long minutes the two small groups of demons were just staring at each other's stripped members without a word through the power shield. The art style seemed creepily similar and both tattoos seemed to be alive and resonate to the thick magic-filled air.

"And... what does this mean?" Jay asked on a nervous voice, starting to panic from all the quiet attention.

Jim reached out to put a reassuring hand on Jay's shoulder for which he got a grateful look, but stayed silent since he had no idea either what this meant. Probably the other demons had more information about this too. It was a bit irritating that the three of them had to feel so out of their depth. It was something they weren't used to feeling. But it was also understandable in an unknown dimension about which they had no idea it existed until they got "teleported" here by that spell.

"It means..." the long-haired Corey started standing next to Matt "that you are probably from this dimension. You said you are all kidnapped demons. You... Jay... was probably born here. Did you have dreams or memories about this place?" the demon asked, his brown eyes attentive and calm as they rested on the nearly panicking young one.

"Uhm... yeah, dreams I think. I kept dreaming about the two moons," he pointed towards the sky then pulled up his pants. It was clear on his face that he was kinda shocked from this new information about a past he could never remember. "How do I stop the itching? It's kinda annoying..." he mumbled, hoping he didn't somehow offend these demons with his question.

"Your power is awakening. It happens to us here when we are around five years old. Yours didn't fully develop due to not being here among these spirits. We cannot stop the itching. It will pass when you fully use your skills," Matt said pulling up his clothes too. "We can take you back to our camp. Our trio keeps traveling to keep this forest safe, but we have our tricks to sleep safely." There, it was a wide great smile to the new comers. The small Corey nodded and quickly looked at his friends to see if they were also agreeing with following these demons.

Jay added a 'sounds good'. It showed he was calming down and thinking over what he had learned. And he was curious about what else there was to know about his lost past. At least his birthplace was no mystery anymore. Not like with most of the ex-slave kids who never got to know nothing about their origin.

Jim nodded also as agreement, so Corey walked around to gather the rune stones and dismiss the shield. After packing their small stuff together, they stood ready before the locals, waiting for their directions.

"By the way… Jay… You don't happen to be a drummer, do you?" Matt asked.

Making sure the small fire was put out properly, Jim looked up to that question, his eyes meeting with his mate's for a second. "He happens to be the drummer in our band back on Earth," Jim answered the strange question while they started following the other demons through the forest.

"That's true. Why?" Jay frowned looking at Matt curiously. It seemed his fear was completely replaced by that.

"We are a band too. There should be four of us, completed with a drummer who got kidnapped as a child," Matt added on a matter of fact tone as they were walking between the tall trees.

"No fucking way..." Jim grumbled under his moustache, tensing up somewhat maybe in fear that the demons were leading them into a trap and would force Jay to stay. Or whatever... After that magic circle he was kinda mistrustful and on edge.

"Oh come on, that's not possible. How would you know that kid was supposed to become a drummer?" Jay shook his head, laughing a bit in disbelief. "Besides, what are the odds that I'm that kid?"

"It was a prophecy. We are the guardians of Jukai, the sea of trees. And there should be four of us with a drummer. And… the spirits are trapped in your tattoo, Jay. That's pretty much a big clue," the long-haired shaman added.

"And what you gonna do about it then? He is our drummer and guard now," Corey added, feeling and sharing the mistrusting vibes with his mate.

"You can't keep him here against his will," Jim stopped, his hand resting on the handle of a knife behind his back, ready to attack and protect their long-haired guard. "He's also part of our family, clan."

Paolo kept silent until now, but noticing Jim's move, he stepped in front of his mated pair and looked at the "intruders". "No one's forcing no one. It's gonna be his choice. The spirits can't be forced, but they already know that they are at home."

"He's right," Matt nodded. "Maybe later when we find a way to open a gate to your dimension, we could work out a deal with Jay..."

"Yeah, maybe…" the beast added as they walked along. They won't let them keep Jay just like that. This fucking dimension. And what about that 'later'? They have to get back… The clan is in danger. These guys said there was a way back. Then they better find one fast.

With that Jim pulled his empty hand back, but kept his hazel eyes – that were slightly glowing since they got there – on Paolo and the other two. They were far from trusting these guys, but they knew that they were the only chance for them to survive and find a way back home. Grunting his agreement to Corey's thoughts they continued their way through the dark forest.

It took them a while until their "hosts" led them to their camp. For a while Jim had his doubts about them heading that way in the first place, but when he felt some protective spells and spirit-like sentinels on the trees and the light of some fire illuminated the path ahead, he actually felt grateful. This was a fucking long night and they needed their rest and start to work on a way to get back home to their own clan. As he thought about them, the worry grew in his heart, because they didn't know what was happening to them back at home.

The other two shared Jim's thoughts too. Well, mainly Corey who could hear them, but the way Jay looked at everyone suspiciously was telltale.

The camp seemed nice and well-secured. The demons from Earth were led to one of the corners to make their resting place, and suddenly they couldn't think about anything else just a good sleep. All the happenings drained them to their core without noticing it. But if they would count it, they were up and on alert for over a day now. Everything could wait until the morning.

~~

"What do you think?" Matt later on asked sitting down next to his guarding mate, greeting him with a peck on his lips. "They are kinda strange and annoyed, but telling the truth. There must be a reason the people on the other side wanted to get rid of them…"

"Animals," his Corey added with a chuckle. "Look at them… The shaman beasts are always like that, but he is more... reckless and not really like his kind," he looked over to the three intruders cuddling together under the blankets and sleeping all over each other like snuggling cats.

"True," Matt said sitting there with a straight back, looking over to their sleeping guests. "He's not in his full powers either. I believe mating the tall one helped on that somewhat. Did you feel how both their powers were feeding those protective runes?" he asked a bit lost in thoughts as he was trying to figure out the strangers.

"Yes. Their bond basically works as ours," the long-haired Corey rubbed his mate's thigh. "We should ask them in the morning what they think what was the reason that made them end up here. And what do you want to do about Jay?" he asked, feeling Paolo leaning against a tree trunk to their left, close enough to protect them if necessary, but still giving them their privacy.

"Yes but they are still not using their powers as much as we do. Like… all those weapons for example…" Matt turned to his mate and leaned against him a bit. "I don't know for now. Jay is surly the one. But he belongs to them and that world now. Let's rest too. It's Paolo's turn now to guard."

"It's strange, yes. There's so much more potential in them," Corey agreed to what his mate was saying then sighed. "Things will surely form. In the morning we'll see clearer," he hummed sliding a bit backwards on the bunk he had made for them earlier. He laid back down onto it to put his head on his folded jacket then pulled his mate down to rest against him. After exchanging a kiss with Matt, they both fell asleep relatively quickly under the guarding eyes of Paolo.

***

Jim jerked awake at dawn from the loud croaking of some unknown animal. First he didn't know where he was, he only saw and felt Corey plastered against his front with that firm butt, sleeping soundly and well... drooling a bit onto Jay's shoulder on his other side. That made Jim smile under his moustache but then as it dawned on him that they were outside in a forest, he remembered how they got there. That made him lift his head, also feeling that someone was watching them.

He was right. That strange dude, Matt was sitting not far from the still crackling fire. Damn, he could still give the creeps to Jim with that intense look. "Morning," he murmured and untangled himself from around his mate to sit up. Damn, he could've killed for coffee. So the previous day wasn't a dream. Fuck.

"Morning," Matt nodded to Jim and almost like he would feel what he needed offered a flask to him. "It's a brew of a plant around here. It helps to wake up and get your chi flowing," he placed the dark liquid containing bottle at his side for Jim as an offer to join him by the fire. He wanted to talk to the tall one before everyone else woke up.

"It sounds close enough to coffee so..." Jim nodded and after tucking his mate back in, he got up to walk over to the fire and sit down next to the other demon. He picked up the flask and took an experimental sip from it. It tasted much better than he expected so he took a few more sips before handing the flask back to Matt.

"So... what do you want to talk about? I can see it on your face, man," he added seeing the little surprise on Matt's face.

"About that too," Matt gave him a small chuckle after the first surprise. "And about how and why you all ended up here. You said you were tricked by witches…" Matt looked the tall guy deeply in the eyes. Before they do anything he had to know about these things. And he already had a list of questions about them all ready.

"Yes, we were," Jim said carefully as he returned the guy's deep look. He had nothing to hide, but still he had to be careful about what and how much he shared. But he also felt the importance to answer this leader's questions if they wanted to find a way back home. Alone it was probably impossible, but with some luck and the help of these demons they would be able to do so.

"Alright. I'll answer your questions if you answer mine afterwards," he said stroking down on his beard. "Deal?"

Matt narrowed his eyes for a moment then nodded. "Deal."

"You see, back at home around ten years ago after I mated with Corey and joined his clan, we managed to wipe out the witches from our territories and we also signed a peace treaty with other demon clans. We managed to keep the peace there and eliminate quite a number of slave markets both around our home and in other places while touring with our band. Recently we felt that something was cooking against us in the background, but we don't know this enemy yet. It has to be witches since they used magic circles and one of those circles got us here. So I guess it's about territory and power once again," he sighed running a hand through his hair too. "Might have to do something with Corey and me. They fear our power, I guess."

"I see," Matt mused thinking. "That’s another question. You two are not using your powers fully. And you are much calmer than your mate, Corey. It's kinda funny, admit it," he sipped from the drink, giggling about their mates having the same name and both being shamans. "I know his kind, not long ago that exact color type still lived up in the mountains. They were the most powerful of that kind of beast shamans. But now only the other types remained, no real reds with fair skin anymore. He is more like a warrior, like you are, and for us it's strange. You have any idea why he is like that?"

"Yeah... it's kinda funny," Jim snorted then turned more serious. "We... don't know much about the limits of our powers, I admit..." Jim grimaced. "We couldn't learn about our powers from anyone. But we figured it out that we can tap into them when we're mating. You know, he's the last of his kind back on Earth – as far as we know. I was hoping that there'd be more like him at least here..." he murmured, looking at his sleeping mate with love and some sadness in his eyes. "He often feels alone. Even if he has me. But I'm just a half-blooded beast. Not fully like him. I'm sure you could sense that already."

"Yes," Matt nodded, following Jim's gaze to the short shaman while monitoring the feelings coming from the tall bearded guy.

There Jim paused, thinking about how much to share about Corey's past. "You know what happens to the kids they kidnap from here and other places? On Earth some gets sold as slaves. Others... especially beasts like Corey and some of our clan members had a worse fate. Corey had to kill and fight to survive. He can tell you the rest if he wants. But it's not pretty. Took me quite some time to 'tame' and balance him. And he's not too balanced now, let me tell you."

"Those circles you mean? We met some of those people taking the kids and they told that they run some kind of circus with gladiator fights and they need beasts for that. I see… That's why he doesn't use his shaman powers, or has much of a shaman feature in him. There are some of his kind here still, just different tribes, not sharing these colors. His type was the most connected to the spirits and not that wild as the rest of the beasts. But I see why his wilder side is in charge," Matt nodded, sadness appearing on his face as well thinking about what the small demon had to face as a child in such a place growing up. Because he was deeply changed from his kind's calm and wise ways. "You do balance him out. It's always like that with mates. So far this much, I guess... Now you can ask, Jim."

"He was fucked up in every possible way since he was a child, yes. Until the former leaders of our clan had saved him and one of our other leaders," Jim nodded then stared into the fire for a moment, thinking that maybe during their journey here they might actually meet some of those other tribes. "What's the story of you guardians and Jukai? And how are you with those other tribes?" he asked then paused for a second to look Matt in the eyes. "But most importantly, are you really able to help us? And if yes then how?"

"Jukai is the edge of the spirit world. Like a last frontier. That's why the magic is more alive and soaks in everything here. And those strong shaman demon breeds have developed. In every generation guardians are born and they make a group of two guardians, one shaman and one warrior. Two of them mated pairs for their greater powers. As we’ve been saying. We are only three, because this cannot be changed. We guard this land. This... planet, so to say, is mostly water and fog. In each bigger island there is one territory to protect. We keep the locals safe, care for the forest and especially the whales in the sky," Matt spoke with much love for his land with a bright smile. "The ghouls are also trying to steal young ones to lure humans to this place. They are not that dumb as they look, sadly… And yes, I think we can help. But the key to open a portal is in you two. And that means that you two have to develop your powers more."

While Jim was trying to wrap his mind around all the new information, he fished out a cigarette from his pack and lit it, inhaling the smoke deeply before puffing it towards the fire. Sensing Matt's eyes on him, he offered the pack but when it was refused, he put it away. "It's quite the party you have here..." he snorted a bit amused. "And what about the whales? They are amazing. Never saw flying whales before. It's sick," he chuckled, taking another drag.

"And okay, I'm all up for developing our powers, but how are we supposed to do that? Are you going to train us or something?" Jim frowned. "I also noticed that you don't carry weapons. Do you always rely on your powers?" he asked then exhaled some smoke.

"The whales fly everywhere. Connecting land and sea and sky. Even with the spirit world. I actually know that it’s unusual for most, because everyone who came here said the same thing about them," the warrior chuckled. "They help us too and we protect the tall trees they feed from," he added sipping on his morning drink then offered it to Jim.

"Yes. We can use our powers in combat too and I and Corey can unite and use ours anytime it’s needed. I am not surprised that the ones who sent you here fear your merged powers, it's a massive force, more as your mate releases his true powers, and if you learn to control that, it would blast anything into shreds."

Taking the strange drink again, Jim sipped on it processing what he learned about the whales then his thoughts turned towards the power merging. If what Matt said was true – and why would he lie about something like that? – then it became a bit clearer why they have ended up here. But if they manage to develop their powers with Corey then the asshats made a grave mistake with sending them into this dimension...

"How long have you been mated?" he asked, his eyes jumping to the lightly snoring other shaman. "If my Corey manages to release all his powers, I have the feeling that I'll have to do more controlling. I mean... I already do that with more or less success, but that would be on a much bigger scale. That's kind of a scary thought at first..." he mused, his eyes turning back to his stirring mate. Jim could feel him starting to wake up. From not so nice dreams, so he sent him some love and a soothing wave of his power.

"We’ve been mated for about twelve years. And yes, I can feel that. But your powers would grow too. You have much more of a beast than a half-breed in you. Probably your parents were a half-beast and a beast. You are stronger than other half-bloods with one human parent. Or it could be a demon from Jukai. Our kind can breed and even mate with other breeds," Matt said looking behind his back as his mate was waking up too.

The red beast had dark dreams. Messed up scenes from running in the maze as a small child and feeling the hunger for the blood of the victim. Also scenes where Pauly wandered lost and alone in a dark forest. There in Jukai, climbing up the mountains followed by a strange dark force swirling like a black cloud of ball in the sky. But after all that he felt Jim, making his mind calm and him feeling loved. When he opened his blue eyes, he was filled with the feeling of what ever may come, he was not facing it alone.

"Yes, as far as I know my dad was a half-beast and my mom a full one. But I don't have many memories of them. I was maybe four when the village Corey's parents and clan protected for all kinds of demons was overrun by some witches and Earth demons. That's when I got to my previous clan and Corey to the arena. I was brainwashed and grew up with that clan not knowing anything about my past until Corey came along and turned my world upside down," Jim smiled from the memories, his love for his man seeping through their bond some more.

But his reverie was stopped by the other Corey who plopped down next to Matt on his other side. He didn't have to ask for the flask, his mate was already offering it to him. Once he drank, he pecked Matt's cheek and suppressed a yawn. "Do we have something to eat?"

"It depends on what Paolo brings back," Matt smiled at his mate, they let their otherwise hidden powers linger by each other and merge. Like some kind of a greeting ritual of their bond.

"Oh… Morning, Jim. I know what you’ve been discussing. And I agree. When your mate wakes up, we do our morning ritual. We join our powers with Matty. You two can try to join us. Then we eat," the long-haired shaman smiled calmly at Jim.

It was kinda fascinating to watch those two's powers interact. Of course it reminded Jim of how their own energies react when they are close with Corey, even if their colors were different.

"Morning, Corey..." Jim tried. Damn, it felt strange to call someone else like that. 'Corey' to Jim meant his mate. "Sounds interesting. Maybe we'll give it a try..." he started then his attention was drawn to his own Corey who was already getting up.

The small beast was waking up, alright. First he peeled himself from the death grip of their guardian since Jay was clinging to him like a koala in his sleep. "Morning, babe!" he pressed a kiss to Jim's lips and greeted the others too plopping down next to his man. He nuzzled against his side a bit like a big cat while their powers reacted to each other's too. His reddish blond hair was all messed up and hanging in loose curls by one side of his otherwise shaved around skull. "What are we trying?" he asked taking the offered drink from Matt.

"Morning ... Corey," the warrior smiled at him, he couldn't help it but kept thinking that the same names were funny. Quickly he summed up the convo between him and Jim before, as the red shaman stated that he could recall bits about what Jim shared with him through their bond. He was just sipping on the drink and nodded and hummed at what Matt was telling him. The beast saved it all to his brain to process it later once he feels more awake and functions better. "Okay, let's try it. We'll see how it goes," he shrugged. More controlled and bigger power can only be good, right?

Yes, Jim's heart skipped a beat from the sight of his mate like this. Like always. He couldn't help it, but he just smiled on it, welcoming the peck then putting an arm around his Corey. He loved the way he could nuzzle to his bigger body. It felt awesome every damn time.

Jim knew by then that his mate needed a few minutes (and lots of coffee) to fully wake up in the morning, but he could feel it how he was quite attentive about the new information pouring into his mind so early. That made him smile a bit as he rubbed the small of his beast's back. "I'm in too. Tell us what to do," Jim nodded and snorted from Corey's last thought. Yeah, sure.

"We start it like a basic meditation. You familiar with that?" Matt started moving a bit so he and his mate could sit facing the other pair.

"Yeah I was trained… or more like they tried to train me into a shaman," Corey snorted and got into position with his mate.

"Good," Matt added starting to already like the sarcastic beast. He closed his eyes and joined into the low chanting of his own mate.

"You start to open up the gates inside. Let the power flow through your every cell and find Jim's. Focus on the time when it does become one. Try to feel that fusion to make your powers one," the long-haired Corey told them low.

Thing is... When their powers can fully merge it is usually when they are having an awesome mating... And for Jim's Corey to think only just about their forces was a bit frustrating. Also Paolo coming back and Jay coming to the fire to 'watch the show' was like that too.

Okay, it wasn't so hard so far, Jim thought as he tried to follow the instructions too, waiting on his mate to find his power while the blue one started flooding the tall man's body as requested. He caught his mate's thought about their matings and well... that was a road they didn't want to go down in front of these guys and Jay. Besides it wasn't about that and it should be simple enough to separate the two, right?

Well, feeling Corey's irritation it wasn’t going to be. As Jim mentioned to Matt previously, the red beast was on edge from this place and everything that'd happened. Of course Jim could feel that clearly and even if he couldn't, the visible beastly features and Corey's expression were good enough tips. Reaching out for his mate's hand on instinct, Jim rubbed the back of it in a calming manner and maybe to give him something to focus on through the touch. You can do this, baby, he sent it through their bond, letting the beast feel his support.

The way the other Corey talked about it making it seem so easy and staying so calm, for the beast Corey it got more and more irritating and he started to growl and flinch around in his position.

"Just focus on the breathing. Make it in sync with Jim's," Matt's mate said.

"Okay I'm done," the beast pulled back, growling low. "We try it later too."

"It's not that hard. You just have to relax. You're the shaman."

"Well maybe I was taught and my family consisted of shamans, but this place fucks with my powers."

"All this magic should help you to free all that power inside you," the Jukai shaman calmly said.

"Well we are not the same, are we? Maybe one day is not enough for my 'weakened' earthly body and force to cope and let in all this 'marvelous great magic' so easily," the red beast hissed to Jay’s giggling amusement. Visibly pissing off the calm guy now staring back at him.

"I’m just trying to help and would have better things to do than bother. You should take this seriously if you want to go back."

"Oh wow… What else would you do? Water the plants? Or hum wise slogans?" Corey got lost in his rage, it felt like the better way than to rip off Jim's clothes. In no time they were arguing back and forth and beside them everyone thought it was the funniest thing around in this forest world.

For a minute or two Jim wanted to say something or send more of his calming power to Corey, but then he – like the other three – started to find the debate kinda amusing too and he found himself smiling under his moustache. Truth be told, he sometimes loved to watch his Corey get into it with someone. He found it hot, but who could blame him? He nearly always found his mate hot. It's just how he was wired.

Corey on the other hand was far from amused. That guy with his name was so annoying… Why the hell did they think the long-haired Corey was a good shaman? Just ‘cause he talks on that fucking irritating forced calm voice trying to sound smart?

Soon the long-haired shaman was spitting curses and names on the beast and they got so into it that not even Jay's loud laugh and Matt's giggle could bother them. It seemed only Paolo had enough after a while stepping between them and keeping the two worked up men apart.
"Okay… Coreys… crack it up," and that was when everyone started laughing...

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

It’s been too many fucking days… They’ve been walking in Jukai for what felt like a lifetime. But then these guys were nomads in a way. Always on the move to do their duties and protect the forest. To be honest, it was interesting for Jim to observe the other demons in their element. They had learned a lot from them… Okay, he kinda did. Corey was another question. He’s been… off since they got into this dimension and it was the first time after a very long time that Jim didn’t know how to “handle” him – or rather help him.

But still… he was hot. Yeah, no doubt about that in his mind. He just wished Corey would stop being lost in that strange mood he was in. More importantly he should’ve stopped singing one of their songs. Jim was starting to regret writing “Left Behind” with the ginger shaman, because Corey humming that song all the time was irritating, to say the least. And he was doing that even in his head when otherwise he was silent. Thus Jim could hear that song nearly non-stop.

There were moments when he just wanted to smash Corey against a tree and shut him up in every meaning with fucking that song out of him. Maybe that’s what he should do… Damn it!

Of course Jim's naughty mate knew too what was going on in the tall guy’s mind. There was a reason why he was trying to bend down or climb up before Jim's face as much as he could. The “Left Behind” song just started while he was thinking of the irony of it all. But let’s face it… It's a fucking amazing song and the bridge couldn't get out of his head. And he paid attention more to it after feeling Jim getting on edge from his arousal and annoyance about everything.

They were following these demons for now three days and Corey was locked up inside his thoughts. It was strange that in this world he could partly hide his thoughts and emotions from Jim. And maybe it was wrong on some level but the beast enjoyed this a little. He was stressed and in those times Jim could get a bit too protective over him. But Corey felt it that he had to fix things inside by himself. This place and his powers were connected, his kind lived here too. He had to find the way inside to free his powers.

Still lost in the repeating of that song and his thoughts, he heard Matt yell back to them that they would camp for the day and they would go to do their forest saving duties. At least they ended up at a little waterfall and some washing and shower sounded nice. Then it was their duty to hunt – with precise description of what and how they could kill in this spirit "sea of wood". Yeah… *dramatic eye roll* but maybe that was just the effect of the careless Earth life...

Yeah, that ‘kinda distance’ was getting on Jim’s nerves too, but he tried to focus on other things. Things that weren’t his mate’s firm butt cheeks in his face while climbing. Jim had a hunch the little shit enjoyed this a bit too much, but whatever. He got used to it. Besides that washing up sounded fucking awesome after three days of 220% humidity that made his hair and beard look like a wet dog left out on the rain for… well, three days.

Chuckling a bit on his own very clever joke, he headed down to the water and was already peeling his clothes off, getting naked in no time. He hoped as hell that no dangerous creatures lived in those clear waters, but he guessed the native demons would’ve warned them in that case. Unless this was their plan to get rid of them. Which Jim doubted. They were nice guys, really. But he was annoyed and… well, horny.

At least the water was warm enough not to freeze his ass off, but managed to still cool him. In no time he was in it up to his neck, with the glowing eyes of a predator watching his mate stripping, barely noticing Jay washing himself a bit further down to the left.

The beast put up quite a show for Jim. Shaking off the pants slowly from his wide hips, walking into the water knee-deep. Paying attention to turn his back to the peeking predator in the water. Even giggled hidden inside from how Jim could be a hungry alligator and he a poor victim. Hmm... Nice...

There was no denying it anymore. Not that Jim could fool anyone with the vibes he was giving off and now the low growling as his facial features started to change thanks to his control slipping as lust was taking over his mind. He knew the show was for him and despite the fact that he was already rock-hard and ready to pounce on his (willing) victim, he enjoyed every second of it, torturing maybe both of them.

Come in a bit deeper, he purred in Corey’s mind through their bond and on the voice of the beast as he slid a bit closer to his mate in the water. He knew that one touch and all hell would break lose. His heavily leaking blue power that was swirling towards Corey on the surface of the water was a good enough proof of that.

Smirking to himself, and totally ignoring the way Jay froze in his movement of washing himself, noticing the mates’ powers reaching towards each other, Corey slowly went butt-deep into the water.

Corey felt their powers meet and couldn't help but moan and growl, in Jim's mind too, from the missed thrill. Damn that place was no good for their starving needs… What else to do to get eaten up alive by that nice bearded alligator...? Hmm…

A louder growl was Corey's reward from both the feeling of that red power melting into the lilac fog, and the sounds Jim's mate was making. Forgetting everything else around them, Jim's eyes focused only on the slowly submerging body he wanted to fuck and tear into more than anything in that moment.

He continued his slow gliding in the water until he was a breath away from Corey's tummy. For a moment Jim didn't do anything, just looked up at his mate with his glowing eyes, pure want written all over his slightly changed face as the tension was building between them, getting nearly unbearable.

Then his long tongue darted out and slowly licked a wet trail up on Corey's stomach, watching his every reaction.

"Fuck..." Corey grunted with a delighted shiver and his fingers got lost in Jim's wet hair, trying to pull him closer. They were done teasing now, he wanted his fix of his fucking awesome and sexy man... "Are you waiting for something, babe?" he asked in a rather warning tone… Meaning, 'get to work or else…' Their powers were covering them like a lilac fog and his erection was already dripping into the water…

With a naughty smirk Jim just growled and then his mouth moved forward fast, sharpened teeth tearing into the soft flesh near his mate's belly button, making blood mix into the water too. And then he bit again and again, chewing on the tasty meat, Corey's blood in his mouth a fucking welcomed taste, making Jim groan louder, his fingers pushing into the tight ass under the water.

"Oh come on! Again??? Here???" That was Jay of course, who chose that moment to throw his hands in the air and stomp out of the water also butt naked, grumbling under his nose something about 'can't even get cleaned up properly'. He probably went to find another place to finish washing himself up.

Not that the mates would care too much. Now that they were alone, after sliding his fingers out Jim stood up in front of Corey and he lifted him up by his thighs to carry him more or less onto the shore, giving him a needy and bruising all sharp teeth and tongue kiss.

Corey was already drifting down the path to turn into jelly between Jim's hands. The sweet sharp pain always did the trick. The fact that beasts like him healed super fast made all their rough and bloody encounters more fun too.

He kissed back his man with his sharp fangs, cutting into the eager tongue and lips, sucking the blood into his mouth and gulping it down like it was the finest wine. His claws were digging bloody trails into the wide shoulders as he couldn't wait to be dropped by the shore and get one with his pair again.

Jim was groaning and growling into the violent and bloody kiss as they neared the shore, his hisses from the back-scratching swallowed up by Corey who was pressed to him like a hungry leech.

Finally Jim broke the kiss with a throaty growl and dropped him back down on his feet just to roughly turn him around and push his mate onto his hands and knees, following him right away just to kneel behind him. Grabbing the hips in front of him, Jim didn't wait any longer, just rammed into that tight heat.

Earning an approving cry and long moan from his shaking mate. Corey dug his fingers into the small pebbles on the shore as his body welcomed the pain rushing over it and triggering his nerves in the way that made him crave for more. Out of his mind he pushed back to feel more from Jim. Even his red swirling power seemed to pull on the taller demon to fill the beast’s senses with the feel of the other's skin pressing to his. Jim's teeth and beard were brushing against his back too as their beings connected again.

Nothing but animalistic growls came from Jim as he kept ramming into that beloved tight heat, his pre-cum slicking his way as he leaned down and tore into Corey's back and neck. He was completely lost in their mating, his powers reacting to the call of the red one, creating a swirling massive energy of that purple fog, more of his mate's blood dripping steadily into the water as he kept chewing him up like a rabid beast.

Which was exactly what Corey wanted. His pain-fuelled body drank in all the sensations and pushed him deeper into his ecstasy. Reaching back with one arm he tore into his lover's side to make him catch up on his high faster.

The bigger demon roared from the pleasure-pain that ripped into him a few seconds after Corey's claws did. He was now right there along with his mate and Jim didn't hesitate to ram harder and faster into him, giving the red shaman his all. One of his big hands slid onto Corey's throat and he squeezed the way his mate loved it. There was nothing civil left in them. It was all about instincts and becoming one.

Finally Jim got rough!!! At least in Corey's scale… He was just at the brink of the height of their mating and when Jim finally let his almost fainting brain get to some oxygen, his body and spirit gave into that extra push and he crossed the line, pulling Jim with him too into their much needed orgasm. And their united powers exploded as their spirits merged into one.

The Jukai demons chose exactly that time to get back and witness some of the bloody mating. The long-haired shaman moved close behind his mate, humming to himself from the sight. "Told you... Animals…"

Matt just laughed, shaking his head.

"You have to admit that it's... stimulating," the Jukai shaman kissed into Matt's neck with a low chuckle, inhaling both his mate's scent and the other mates' energies, kinda sampling them. "They are so much stronger than we thought..."

Meanwhile – oblivious to their audience – Jim gave Corey what they both needed so badly, his "dying" sounds muffled as he kept chewing on Corey's mating bite, tearing it open over and over again while filling him up with his seed. They were completely lost in each other and their united being even when they started to slow down and Jim's savage biting became gentle licking and kissing.

It was too much, but so good. Like always. Corey's limbs gave out and he plopped down into the shallow water, moaning still out of this world with Jim on his back.

"Yeah… Much, much stronger. They have to learn to use that power. Not just at times like this…" Matt nodded and moaned low, because his mate's dirty thoughts reached his mind too and the way his Corey pressed himself to his back was almost too much for the warrior too.

"I'll just go and find Jay..." they heard Paolo snort loud.

 ***

It’s been too many fucking days… Pauly was sitting on the warehouse's flat roof where he liked to come up to think and watch life around him. It usually helped him to see things from a different perspective or if he just wanted to be alone, he could always come here. It was his and Gaby's place. At some point they snuck out two old plastic chairs and some crates to function as a small table in the east corner of the roof.

He was sitting on one of the plastic chairs, legs pulled up to his chest as he rested his chin on his knees, watching the setting sun. Another day was coming to its end. Another day without his dads and Jay. He missed them so much. Especially Corey and Jim. He was also deeply worried and that melody just didn't want to get out of his head. If not playing then he kept humming it.

But that's not why he sought shelter up there – like a lot of times in the nearly one week since he was left alone by the two most important people in his life. He came up to both try to handle his hurt feelings and to cool his anger off a bit. An angry and messed up shaman trainee usually wasn't a good idea.

He was pissed now because the adults kept treating him and Gaby as kids and wanted to shut them out although they just wanted to help getting back the missing leader pair and their guardian. Pauly got into a serious verbal fight with Shawn about it and now his anger was mixing with his pain and helplessness. Not even music could help at the moment as he wiped away a few angry tears and sniffed. Why couldn't they understand that they just wanted to help?!

Inside the building the leaders were running up and down in search of the young shaman. Gaby was at the East River clan and Shawn started to lose his cool. Maybe his sane mind too… If they lost Pauly… Damn that kid! They had an argument not long ago but Shawn just tried to keep him safe. Corey will release all that fucking red beast power on him for sure if he loses his son...

Meanwhile Mick as a last idea kicked the roof door open and started to stomp around in his combat boots, calling for the boy.

Not caring about the stirred up energies coming from some parts of the building under Pauly – those energies have been like that more or less non-stop since the absence of those three anyways – he embraced his black skinny jeans-clad legs a bit tighter after pulling his dark-grey hoodie up on his head to stop the light breeze from blowing his long hair into his face. To suppress that melody in his head, he let some aggressive metal songs blast into his ears through his ear buds.

He couldn't care less what was going on around him. Probably that's why he first didn't hear that someone came up to the roof. It was more the vibes Mick's heavy boots caused than the stomping sounds from which Pauly realized that someone was coming. From the familiar energies he knew who it was, but he didn't react just kept staring at the blood-red clouds.

"Hey, Pauly!" The huge demon gently grabbed the boy's shoulder. He waited till he unplugged his ears and sat beside him on the other chair. "You saved me a head rip, fella," he chuckled. "The Clown is surely in panic over where you vanished to. Wanna talk? I mean… I know you want to help us find a way. I miss Corey so much too. And Jim too, of course," the big guy nodded. "You know that Corey is like my brother. We are like you and Gabrielle. So… I'm pissed and feel helpless too about it all. Boy, you saw how bad I took the news about them being gone. Even that little prick Jay is a big part of the family by now. So... I just let you sit here and shut up," Mick ended with a sigh. He was not that good with kids like the others. Maybe that's why they haven't adopted one with Stacy this far. His small wife was a warrior too and even if they both loved the little ones and enjoyed them around, somehow having one never really came up.

"Don't break Gaby's chair." That was the first sentence that came out of Paul's mouth after a couple of silent minutes. "She loves that chair," he added as an afterthought then he went silent again, his powers sneakily sizing up how Mick was. He told the truth, but that was nothing new to Pauly. He knew how close the big demon was to his shorter dad. He'd heard the stories about how they had to grow up and rely on each other in order to survive. Which was kinda awesome in Pauly's eyes (not the circumstances but the brotherly bond the two adults shared), but now he was just feeling... too lost.

He wanted to say that Shawn deserved it, but that was just his hurt feelings 'talking' from him. It wasn't true. He knew Gaby's dad didn't deserve it. He had enough on his plate to worry about, but whatever... Damn these contradicting feelings! The rational part of his mind knew that the adults were right, but his heart was pulling him (and Gaby) into the opposite direction.

"They can't be gone too..." he finally said on a weaker voice than he planned and that sniff was totally uncool at the end, so he decided to hide his face behind his knees. Damn, why wasn't Gaby there when he needed her? She could always distract him or console him so well.

"We’ll get them back somehow. And I'm sure they are working on getting back to you and this clan. Gabrielle will be back soon. And Stacy will tell us what she got out of the witches. Want to hear? I – as one of the leaders – will protect your right to know about anything involving this," Mick told the teen on a deadly serious tone, and that from the otherwise intimidating guy was a big thing and something he would never break.

Now that made Pauly look up. He wiped his nose with the sleeve of his hoodie and looked just as seriously at Mick for a long moment. "You'd do that for me? Why? Because I'm Corey's son?" Pauly tried to guess it, because frankly, this offer came out of the blue and neither he, nor Gabrielle could see this coming. Well, it was easier to get information this way than sneaking around and trying to overhear the adults.

"Honestly? Mostly yes. About 70% ‘cause you're Corey's son and he is the closest I call family. And that makes you my family too. Plus there is that 30% of how I can understand how you feel, ‘cause I feel that too and I like you, kid. I have a position to help you a bit. And really, beside the fact that we are scared shitless and more protective over you two than when you got here, you even have the right to know where things are." Mick even nodded, mainly to himself. He felt that he was doing the right thing for at least Pauly.

Pauly thought Mick's words over and finally nodded sensing that this wasn't a twisted kind of trap or rather test. Mick was deadly serious about this. "Yeah... Thanks, Mick. I like you and Stacey too. You two are cool and I'm grateful that you'd do this for me. Although you can guess that I'll tell whatever we learn from your wife to Gaby..." Paul warned him, but he doubted that it would be big news or a problem to Mick. "When will you talk to Stacey?"

"Right about when we all calm down and you are found," the big guy laughed standing up. "Would you come down with me?"

That actually lured a small smile to the teen's face and with a huge sigh he unfolded himself and stood up. "Makes sense. Please, keep this place a secret. Don't want everyone to know about it," he looked up at the big demon after wiping off his face once more then he followed Mick downstairs from the roof.

 ***

Meanwhile in the basement of the Bloodstone clan's building the conspiring elders had a meeting. But it was more like a celebration. After years of trying to find the last red beast shaman to take its power – in which they couldn't succeed – now at least they could get rid of that power before the shaman could awake and use it. It took almost a decade but it was worth it.

"Now, my friends. A new era for the Bloodstones has started. It is time to rise from our ashes and gain back what was robbed from us by those mongrel animals. Cheers to the rise of the Bloodstones!" the highest elder raised his blood-filled cup to the small gathering. Next step, total regaining of control and genocide against all beast breeds.

***

 With a little jump in her step Gaby walked down the corridor after listening to Shawn going on and on about what happened between him and Pauly earlier that day. She wasn't really surprised since she could feel both shamans on edge, but after a while Pauly felt calmer to her, which made her curious. As she neared Corey and Jim's apartment in the building, she heard Paul playing that riff again.

"It's a catchy one," she said as she plopped down on the couch, looking at the boy with Jim’s treasured red and black guitar.

"Yeah. Can't get it out of my head," he said, his long fingers stopping on the strings.

"I know. So what's up aside from your little fight with Shawn?" she asked while chewing on her gum. "You feel less stressed."

"Mick told me what Stacey tortured out of the witches."

"Whaaat? How come?"

"He likes me, thinks of me as family and felt that I deserve to know," he shrugged.

"Sooo???"

"Sooo... It was a trap, indeed. They were hired to make it look like the whole clan was in danger to get my dads removed. They spoke about Corey's great power. Which is bullshit I think ‘cause he always says that he doesn't know how to be a real shaman…" Pauly said putting the guitar down.

"Oh I get it, though. I've accidentally overheard something. Shawn and the others were talking about Corey being the last of a great shaman clan that had huge powers. Maybe that's what they feared. I mean… We all know how their powers get while... you know," the girl giggled naughtily.

"I don't need a mental image of that, thank you very much!" Paul huffed as he got up and walked to the window with his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. "But I know what you mean... that power might have scared the enemy. But... if you think about it... since they get like that only when they... go at it then it means that before the enemy had to be close enough to them to feel that wave of power... Which means..." Paul turned around to face Gabrielle "that they'd fought this enemy before," he mused then walked over to the couch to sit down cross-legged, facing the girl. "Remember, they told us that there hasn’t been considerable witch activity here after the clans cleaned our area... So maybe... this enemy isn't just witches?" he thought out loud.

"Maybe. But they tour a lot and during these years they had to fight witches on the road. It's possible that a pissed off coven tracked them down after feeling that power wave somewhere, don't you think?" she raised a brow, putting her feet onto Pauly's thigh as she leaned back against the arm rest.

The boy's enthusiasm visibly dropped a bit from that, because he thought for a moment that they got closer to solving this mystery. "Shit... you might be right," he sighed, rubbing his face with a hand. "I think I'll mention these theories to Mick, but we should keep working on our plan. How are things coming together?"

"According to the notes from Paul's book, these types of runes mean star or more like planet constellations. Like directions for the portal. So... We have three more days then that night we can try to open the gate," Gaby told rather proudly to the boy.

"We are going after them? Aren't we?" Pauly asked hopefully.

"But of course! You don't think I would let you keep moping around like this! You're starting to scare the little ones!" she joked lightly kicking Pauly's side.

"Shut up," the boy said with a tiny smile, grabbing Gaby's ankle to stop her.

"I mean it. You are sooooo depressing to be around nowadays. So we better find your dads and Jay fast in... wherever they are so I can keep pestering you without any remorse!" she giggled, trying to free her leg.

"Sorry. Have a lot on my mind and even that damn guitar riff won't go out of my head," Pauly said letting her leg go and gave her a smile. "Thanks, Gaby. It really means so much to me. All the help," he added with a tiny blush. And thought that hopefully they would succeed and not just get lost somewhere as well.

"You're welcome, dumbass," she twirled a blond lock of her hair around her finger, narrowing her eyes a bit. "Probably that riff means something too. No coincidences, remember?" she winked then sat up to look into the dark eyes from closer. "We'll find them. I'm 100% sure about that. In that jungle-like forest."

Pauly swallowed hard, but kept the eye-contact and finally nodded. He wanted to believe with everything he had that she was right.

***

"Ready?" Gaby asked standing in front of the closed door of Paul's room. The slightly taller boy took a deep breath. They were about to go against everyone with this action and a lot was at stake. Pauly felt sorry for Mick, who tried to help them on his own way and the teen kinda felt as if they were betraying the big demon's trust, but they couldn't sit around waiting for the adults to figure something out. They were too slow. What if his dads and Jay were in grave danger or between life and death? What if wasting precious time would result in their death?! They couldn't stay. They had to try this.

Adjusting his pitch black Japanese Sai daggers with some golden decorations on it, he made sure they were secure in their holsters. Of course they both were armed with physical and magical weapons, the talismans under their clothes giving them some extra protection.

 

"Yes," Paul answered then when Gabrielle signaled that he could start, he began murmuring a spell that would help them slip out into the night undetected.

Sneaking out of the building was not a big task for the teens. Been there, done that a lot. Sneaking through the streets was child's play as well. Setting up the summoning circle was the tricky and somewhat scary thing that night.

"There. I did all like I saw it in the book and what you showed me," Gabrielle stepped back from the chalk symbol. "You know what chant Corey used and how. I'm ready," she said with an assuring smile to Pauly. She grabbed her crossbow firmly and stepped to the circle. "Come on…" she offered a hand to the boy.

Standing by the circle Pauly made sure too that everything was like he saw and they learned from the late shaman's book, because every detail was crucial with such spells. One wrong symbol and things could go south very quickly. Just when the boy finished checking things out and he lifted his hand to take Gaby's, a warm breeze swirled around them, filling them with a good feeling.

"He's helping us," Gabrielle whispered and the second their hands touched, the boy knew she meant the other Paul. A small reassuring smile crossed his face as he joined her in the circle then he recalled Corey's chanting, concentrating hard to say everything right.

For a while nothing happened – just like that night – as their in-sync chanting broke the silence of the night. But when it started, Paul's hand tightened around Gaby's, their powers releasing some more, fighting each other but partially mixing together too, making Pauly's blue and Gaby's yellow result in some green fog here and there.

As they kept chanting, the circle started to come alive, making its lines on the ground glow more and more, the powers swirling in the circle, making their hair dance around their faces, some thick fog seeping from the circle's middle until it completely surrounded them. They couldn't see a thing, but their joined hands kept them grounded.

"No fucking way!!!" That was Sid who got drawn to the massive magical activity during his nearby patrol – especially when he felt Pauly and Gaby's presence now that they weren't shielded by Pauly's spell.

But no matter how hard and fast he was running towards the circle, by the time he got close enough, the circle stopped glowing and as he ran into the fog to grab the kids, his hands couldn't find anything there. Stumbling he tried not to fall onto his face as he ran back and forth in the fog, calling the teens' names in vain.

"YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME!!" he finally cried out in the empty circle, seeing that there was no one else there. Then he remembered the others. He had to tell them. And with that he became the bringer of bad news once again...

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

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.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

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."

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

Life was rather stressful back on Earth. Because they didn't have any better idea, the two leader remaining, Mick and Shawn went over the same patrol routes to keep an eye on the farther surrounding of the clan's territory. Sid and a few other warriors kept close to them, trying to spot anything unusual. At times like these, with the witches and probably the Bloodstones doing minor attacks on the East River clan, and even on the Grays, they had to be extra careful. Not to mention that they needed to find a way to bring back the two other leaders and those noisy kids. Shawn was over the madly angry state. Pauly and Gaby took the old Paul's spell books with them. Literally not leaving any trace behind for them to follow.

Mick was sticking close to Sid, because the poor red-haired guy had enough traumas lately. He tried to persuade him to go with Chris and the kids to the East River clan's hidden safe house, but he insisted that he wanted to help with the patrols and probably to prove his usefulness. Not that he had to do something like that, but oh well. So there they were, the buff guy keeping an eye on him just in case.

Mick was also a bit calmer knowing that his wife stayed behind to guard the clan's building with some other warriors. Not that he liked the idea of not being around her, but she was one of their fiercest fighters and if someone could defend the base then she was definitely the one.

For most of the patrol there was nothing out of order. They didn't see any unusual circles on the ground or markings on trees. They were about to head back home when they sensed them.

It was a small group. At other times they wouldn't even pay attention to them. Even if they were some highly skilled rangers. Those were no match to the beasts trained in the arena to kill for survival. But now all of them got tense and alerted.

They attacked from the trees. Like beasts would do. But their moves and smell showed the Earthly human race. The group of fast moving beasts stood up good against the long swords and messy raid.

Mick and Sid turned back to back at once and the other warriors of the Grays proved to be fierce fighters, too. It was still strange that the attackers seemed to try to lure them further away from their base and usual route. Not really fighting back. More like teasing them to a chase. And it smelled like a trap to Shawn more than anything

"I don't like this," Mick grunted as he dodged an attack with his double edged battle axe.

"Smells like a trap," Sid said voicing Shawn's thought as Chris got closer to them too.

"I have a bad feeling about this. We should pull back. They seem to try and take us farther from home," Mick suggested to Shawn and the others too as his beast side recognized the pattern fast. In the past often that skill meant survival while fighting against all kinds of creatures and fighters.

Shawn nodded and signaled to retreat. He has to keep the others back at base safe too. Maybe it is a way to trick them to leave the base unprotected. Maybe they are planning something else. But either way going back to the base was a must.

Soon all the Grays circled around the attackers and slowly moved back to the old storage building in the bay. Not knowing what happened inside.

Meanwhile at their base the fight was already a full blown one between another group of rangers and the warriors left behind to protect their home. Stacey was leading the attack against them and she was fighting with her short sword as fierce as a full-blooded beast, although she was an Earth demon. Still, definitely a fitting pair for someone like Mick.

The short black-haired woman just drove her sword into a man twice her size when she felt the other's return. "Head inside! We got this. Some got past us!" she yelled at Mick and Shawn then got engaged in another fight with two new opponents.

"I'll go in," Mick said to Shawn after cutting the man attacking them almost in half. The shaman nodded and kept up the others with Sid and Stacey while Mick and Chris ran up the stairs following the scent of the intruders. "They are searching for something," Chris said on their way sneaking across the corridors. The doors of the rooms were opened and some rooms seemed to be messed up as if someone looked for something in them. "Over there. Can you feel it? Paul's room," Mick groaned and started to run in that direction.

"Yes," Chris gritted through his teeth. Although he didn't know the late shaman personally since he became one of the Nine just a few years ago, he'd heard the stories and what a vital part Paul had in their clan's past. Feeling the intruders from that sacred room was outrageous and only pissed them off more.

As they got to that corridor, they immediately saw that the usually locked door was now wide open. Chris and Mick practically burst into the room to face the assholes who dared to enter their home during the chaos of the fight.

"Stop, you bastards!" Mick's booming voice filled the room, but instead of fear, the two witches (clearly twins) only grinned at them.

The two tall ladies in long coats just looked at each other. The one at the bookcase threw a spell book to his sister and they laughed.

Mick just got closer to attack the latter one when they threw some kind of white powder into the air, turning the beasts blind and making them cough. When it slowly settled down, the witch twins were gone. Also they could hear and sense Shawn, Sid and Stacey coming with the rest of the warriors.

 "They are all gone. Just suddenly turned and ran away," Sid said fast and looked around in the messed up room shocked.

Shawn was red from anger seeing what the intruders left behind only mumbling a "Motherfuckers" as he threw his weapons onto the ground.

 ***

The cave into which the foxes took Gabrielle and Pauly proved to be safe indeed. In the morning after eating some energy bars from their small backpacks, the teens followed the foxes among the trees and rocks and smaller waterfalls.

"Where are they taking us? Did they tell you?" Pauly asked Gaby as they climbed up on a smaller rocky hill. The shaman trainee boy could still feel just the foxes’ emotions and intentions while as a female Gaby understood them more.

"They only tell me that… 'to more like us'. Maybe other demons like us," the girl said skipping after the foxes leading them deeper into the thick forest downward from the hill.

Pauly pondered that in him for a while, simply following the spirit animals and Gaby. He was getting more and more curious, he had to admit that. He just hoped those 'more like them' demons would be friendly. They really needed some help not just to find the dads and Jay, but to get more food and water on which they were already running low. Once again the teen wished that those charms that made bags bottomless in the Harry Potter movies were real. That would have made things easier for them now.

At least the forest with the waterfalls and fog were breathtakingly beautiful around them. Even if not the easiest terrain to move on. It took them another hour and a small break to get to the top of the hill they have been climbing. It was more like a highland with trees and bushes and more grassy parts. Looking around, Pauly wiped the sweat off his forehead.

"Look! Is that a... cabin?" he pointed further ahead where just behind the treeline, he saw a run-down hut.

"Yeah… Yeah it looks like that. The foxes are taking us there. Saying that 'one from us' is there. I'm so curious," the girl laughed and started to run with the magical creatures.

Soon they were standing in front of the very bad and very abandoned-looking wooden shack. Gabrielle felt Pauly's doubting gaze on her back as she gently opened the door.

Peeking over Gaby's head, the dark-haired boy's frown deepened. "Quite messy and looks abandoned. You think someone actually lives here? Or maybe they just want us to think that it's abandoned..." he hummed trying to quickly look at all possibilities as they took a step closer to the door to take a better look.

"Maybe someone uses it as a hideout. But then, what is it that this person is hiding from this much?" Gaby thought out loud too as she entered.

Inside it was the same mess. It was small, with a sleeping place on the ground from leaves and grass. There were some raggedy clothes and some hard shells of a bigger fruit, like coconut at home but blue-ish colored used as cups as it seemed.

"It's almost more like a home of an animal… or a beast..? You think 'our kind' lives like this here?" the girl frowned thinking back how the Earthly demons treated the beasts like animals and as lower beings than they are. Maybe it was somewhat true after all? "No one is here. Let's look around," she cleared her throat. Not wanting to think any more of that possibility as she turned to get out and search the surrounding area.

"Yes, you're right..." Pauly agreed with her as his eyes skimmed through the very few furniture and objects in the hut. He also saw some kind of herbs drying in a corner and a leather sack for probably water, but it was lying empty in the same corner.

He followed the blond girl, but they barely got through the threshold when they suddenly felt a presence that was cloaked before and in the next moment a man – or more like a beast? – jumped off a nearby tree landing a couple of steps from them. He was around the same height as Pauly and his tanned skin was covered in a dry layer of mud here and there. The messy and curly brown hair that was full of dry leaves reached down to his shoulders. He was wearing only some ragged and dirty brown pants reaching to his knees.

The barefooted man's dark-brown, nearly black eyes reflected the wildness of a beast as he took a defensive stance, pointing a self-made spear at them. Frankly, he reminded Pauly of a prehistoric man he'd seen in books and on TV.

Gaby took a step back with widened eyes and raised her hands in defense. "The... the foxes brought us here… They said you are like us…" she said uncertain.

The wild man looked down at the foxes and narrowed his eyes sizing up the kids again.

The magical creatures looked pretty much at ease, one curling around Gaby's leg and looking contended at the "wild man", as if he was satisfied with getting the kids there. At least that's what Pauly could feel as he took a half-step ahead to get Gaby more or less behind him.

His raised hands were empty too, although his fingers were itching to grab his Sai daggers in case he had to defend themselves, hating to feel Gaby's uncertainty. "Look, we mean no harm to you. We are looking for help. This is Gaby and I'm Paul. We're demons from Earth stranded here. You understand what I'm saying?"

The man lowered the spear and grumbled at the foxes – and they yelped back. Clearly they were communicating and Gaby – even to her own surprise – understood it.

After the foxes told the person about how they found the teens, the man looked at them again.
"You came through the portal the kidnappers use? From Earth only the other kind of demons come to steal our young ones. But you are like we are here in Jukai," the man spoke fluently and rather intelligent. Which was a total contrast with his look. But who was she to judge anything in this foreign world.

"Yeah. Well some people tricked our leaders to end up trapped here. Two leaders who are his fathers, and a guard. We tried to find them to help and ended up here too," she said only hoping that they were in the same place as Corey and the others.

The guy was telling the truth. Now that he wasn't pointing his weapon in their direction, Pauly relaxed a bit too, but kept his guards up. Still he could now sense that the vibes the man was giving off were similar to theirs. So the foxes were right and it was a relief that the guy wasn't like how he looked.

"We were kidnapped and sold as kids too back on Earth and my fathers freed and raised us. Is there a chance that you or someone you know might have seen them? We have to find them then figure out how to get back. Our clan at home is in danger from our enemies..." Pauly continued to quickly explain their situation. "Could you help us, Mr...?" he added, not knowing how to call the guy yet.

"Joe. I'm Joe. And you're the first demons I'd seen around in months. I live in this area alone as I like it on my own. Sorry."

"I see," the boy murmured then frowned lightly. "Are there others around whom we could ask? Please, it's important. My dads..." he swallowed hard, his black eyes filling with emotion "they are the closest to me and Gaby's adoptive father is back on Earth, probably going nuts about us sneaking off to come here..."

"So you ran away to solve things on your own as adults seemed useless? Rebels, huh? I like that," Joe grinned. "I had it with putting up with others and be a shaman. That's why I live here by my own rules," he explained. "But I can take you to my brother and the others. They… I mean we are the north Jukai shaman beasts. Follow me. I'll take you to a clean stream first where fish is. You two look like some water and food would do good for you."

The teens mumbled a thank you and hurried to keep up with the wild man who already moved fast and familiar between the thick bushes.

Gaby was thinking and connecting her thoughts with Pauly. The man said they were a shaman beast clan. Those could be related to Corey.

Pauly could only agree with Gaby on that. Maybe later they could ask Joe about the red beasts and if they know more about them. But first that fresh water and more sustaining food sounded too good to pass up.

Since they didn't have as much experience or knowledge of the terrain, running through the unknown forest was a bit of a challenge, but they could keep up quite well, two of the foxes yipping as they ran along happily. It looked like they were rather gliding in the air than actually running on the ground.

Joe was already standing up to his knees in the stream, eyes glued to the water and spear at the ready to catch some fishes for lunch while the teens caught their breath and drank the last of their water from their flasks, not wanting to break the demon's concentration.

"So... can I ask why you didn't want to be a shaman? We're shaman trainees, by the way," Pauly finally asked what was on his mind while he held his fish on a skewer over the fire to roast it the way Joe showed them.

"Because I don't like pressure coming with it from all the other kinds of demons coming and asking for help. I like this land and like to live in it with my own rules. Not many shaman beast clans remained here. Only us and a clan in the middle lands. The demons and witches from earth took away more of our kind's children. And a whole clan went over to help those, just like you and your fathers do. But people say they were killed over there too. I was born a shaman with those powers. And I use it to protect the forest and be one with it," Joe said roasting his own fish too.

"You are from here," he pointed at the girl. "But you are more like the ones living in that other world. Prophecy says that the red ones will return again and that power will revive again the paths to the other worlds too," the man shrugged. Like someone not really believing such returning could happen. And Gaby felt just like she solved that mystery. Biting her lip looking at Pauly meaningfully.

 ***

The demons both from Jukai and Earth were sitting in a circle around a put out fire, the sun shining on them and making the air glimmer a bit from the strong spiritual energies.

Jim was still baffled about the way Maynard greeted his mate and as he could feel, his Corey felt pretty much the same. The great shaman and his trainee were sitting opposite them, the other Jukai demons on both their sides. Everyone got some kind of a herb tea as refreshment and Maynard seemed very satisfied with them – especially the red beast – being there. Which only made Jim kinda suspicious about this all.

"What prophecy?" he blurted out before Corey.

Maynard sipped on his tea and smiled from that, turning to Corey. "He really is a perfect match for you, young master," he noted with a half-smile then put down his cup, taking a long breath. "Once, they say, there was connection to all the worlds. As you would say 'other dimensions'. The red beast shaman clans kept up the portals for the longest. Gave the knowledge and skills from generation to generation. As they were the most skilled with that, the other clans lost that power and knowledge. Then the last of the red shamans opened a portal to Earth. And left there to keep the innocent safe. And all of us here stayed cut off from those other worlds. The prophecy says that one day a red beast shaman returns and as the powers awake in him, the magic that now flows around here uncontrolled gets its owners back and the dimensions will connect again. That first return will bring the whole clan's rebirth," the old man explained on a calm tone and with an all-knowing smile.

Staring at the great shaman hard but with respect, Jim narrowed his eyes hearing about the prophecy. There were some things that made sense to him, like the "return" of the red beast (that could be only Corey, right? since as far as they knew he was the last living one of his kind), but the rest was way too cryptic to Jim.

Still he couldn't stop himself from asking the question that was on his mind. "What makes you think we're a perfect match?" It always intrigued him how others saw them since his perspective was obviously different from those on the outside.

From the corner of his eye, Jim saw Jay finally close his mouth and sip from his tea while Corey seemed to be lost in thoughts.

"Also, we're not staying. We're searching for a way to get back home where we belong. But first we have to go get... something," Jim added to give some more time for his mate to pull himself together and to clear things with the shaman. Great or not, Jim didn't want this Maynard guy to get the wrong idea. They had beloved ones and duties back at home.

"Of course. You once all belonged here and to other worlds. People from Earth started to take away our kind to show as proof of some 'gods' or what the humans call it. It was eons ago and many were born over there too. You too, Jim. And you are the other half that master Corey's power needs. In personality you complete him too," Maynard said with that mysterious smile again. "To save the young ones ended up here too and go back you two have to learn to use your powers more. And Corey can open the portal with his mate and their lilac force. Like his ancestors could."

Corey still frowned. Somehow deep inside him things started to make sense. All the half-lines he overheard as a slave kid. And all his realistic vivid dreams of other worlds. "As far as we know, my family was from those who had left to Earth to keep up a safe place for fugitives. I am the last. That also fits. And I returned. And as it looks like I… we will open a portal, because we will have to. But the return of my kind... I'm not sure of," Corey thought out loud still processing the new information.

"My trainee and the protectors here will help you. But first. You two, mates have to come with me inside the cave and let the magic flow through you to awake your powers," Maynard added standing up and waiting for the said two.

 ***

Pauly returned that gaze of the blond girl after listening to Joe explaining that frankly interesting prophecy. The boy knew what his sister was thinking and his agreement manifested itself in a nod of his head.

Tucking his long hair behind an ear he looked at the doubting Jukai demon. "One of my dads is a red shaman..."

To that Joe glimpsed up from his fish that he was checking if it was done yet. Surprise was written all over his face. "That can't be true. You're joking."

"No. I'm deadly serious. He's the last of his clan. He was transported here with his warrior mate and their guard because the witches at home were afraid of their awakening power. That's another reason why we have to find them in this world. This has to be the explanation why they got stranded here without knowing a way back home..."

"And your father doesn’t know a way back home? Interesting..." Joe mused putting his fish down.

"You see…" Gaby started "he was kidnapped from his parents early and has the red power and skills of a shaman but don't know what those... those of his kind should know, I guess."

"I see. I'm not surprised the witches are afraid. He has a mate, you said that, right? What power does his mate have?" Joe asked visibly more and more interested.

"His color is blue. Originally he comes from the same safe village the red demons were protecting. Then he was taken by an Earth demon clan and brainwashed. He realized what he is after mating with Corey," Pauly explained, turning his fish over the fire. "He was trained as a warrior. Otherwise I'm not sure what kind of power you mean. He's skilled with throwing knives and balancing my other dad's more beastly nature."

"Hmm... It may sound inappropriate... but when they are mating their powers become lilac and blast out...? ‘Cause if that's the case then he’d found his match to use the ancient force. And that is a very powerful weapon," Joe said on a matter of fact kind of tone, finishing up his fish and standing to fill the water bags.

Seeing that his own food was finally done, Pauly put it aside to cool it a bit before trying to eat it. He was getting really hungry by then, but looked up at Joe to answer him after exchanging a look with Gaby. "Yes. As a matter of fact that blast can be felt by everyone every time they... successfully mate," he said clearing his throat at the end. "But as far as we know, they have no clue how to use that power. I mean... no wonder since there was no one to teach them."

"If your fathers are lucky, kid, here they are going run into some demons who will take them to a high shaman. Here at Jukai everyone knows the prophecy. And growing up on Earth like you did means they also cannot hide their powers here from the flowing untamed magic. So..." Joe said sitting back down and facing them "if all goes well, your enemies back home may get double of what they were afraid of in the first place when you all get back. Now eat up. We have to reach my siblings before the sun lowers."

The kids had more to digest than the roasted fishes they ate after that. Both of them were thinking about what Joe has told them and were wondering if the trio had already met such a high shaman who could help them.

That would be so epic, Pauly thought as they gathered their stuff and started following Joe on a barely there path that led through the highland then descended into a valley. Because if that was the case then the witches made a grave mistake by sending his dads here. Once they find a way back – because now he strongly believed in that – the enemy won't have a chance against their clan.

After many valleys and hills and a few short rests, this trio – joined by new foxes time after time – was finally getting closer to the camp or village of the yellow shamans. It was getting dark, but the sounds of some tribal drums were leading them closer and closer.

Just as they got through a thick wall of bushes, three males jumped before them with spears.

"Hey! Keith, Max, Liam!!! It's me, Joe Duplantier! Let us through. I brought some lost kids seeking help," Joe said loudly as the three warriors took a closer look of them.

Gaby and Pauly froze behind Joe, their hands already on their weapons in case they would need them, but they visibly relaxed when the spears' sharp tips were moved towards the sky.

The three males couldn't look more different aside from the warrior paintings and tattoos on their faces. Keith was short, lean but muscular. He had several piercings in his ears and nose. His painted green hair was shaved in the middle but the remaining on the sides was formed into horns. His blue eyes were curious as he sized up the kids.

Liam was somewhat leaner and taller with a messy short Mohawk, his blond hair already growing back on the sides. His dark brown eyes narrowed more suspiciously as his hand tightened on his spear, glimpsing from Joe to the kids then back.

The third man was the tallest and widest, packing the most muscle too. His skin was a shade of darker brown, some dried white paint around his eyes enhancing the nearly black irises as some long dread locks fell into his face.

The three warriors looked at each other. Nodding with their head and humming for a while. It was like they were talking between each other on their own language. Soon all three of them hummed in sync and released their powers. What started to swirl around them in a light yellow fog.

Liam, who seemed the most 'normal' on the outside but had the presence of the wildest one, stepped ahead. "We are the warriors of the yellow shaman clan. We protect the ancients and the tribe. You," he pointed at Gaby "feel just like us. Now follow," and with that all turned around and on their hands and knees crawled through a hidden passage into a valley.

Feeling Pauly's gaze on her, Gaby followed the strange warriors. She felt it too. As they were getting closer and closer to this place, she somehow felt the magic and vibes familiar. And the somewhat lighter yellow powers the males have shown to her felt like a greeting from their own kind. Joe could be right, and that meant that they just stepped into Gaby’s village.

Indeed, the teenage boy couldn't take his eyes off his sister. What she might have not noticed about herself was that her yellow aura reacted to the warriors' "greeting" like back in the forest when they'd met Joe for the first time.

It made him both happy for Gaby that it seemed they had found her origins, and a bit jealous too for the same reason. Though the latter emotion died down in him the moment they got through that passage and they looked down into the valley. Among the trees there were fires lit here and there by huts and there was a bigger clearing in the center where there were several demons sitting, drumming, dancing or eating around a big fire.

It was more of a tribe than a clan like what the kids knew. But nonetheless it was a fitting home for such wild beast demons.

They all headed towards the main fire. From where a male stood up from the painted drums and smiling hurried to hug Joe.

"At last. I thought I will have to go after you and drag you back by your messy hair, brother," the slightly taller and lighter colored (or maybe that was just cleaner skin and hair…) man couldn't stop hugging Joe.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm here. Be happy. I found these kids at my hideout. They are looking for their fathers and their guard. Those were tricked to end up here and the kids followed to search for them. And it seems the dads are a pair of the ancients' reincarnations. A red shaman and a blue powered half-blood," Joe explained. Then turned to the kids "’Cause I guess the other is a half-blood, half-beast. Because only those produce that merged lilac power. And by the way. This is my brother. Mario. He is the main shaman here. Or leader."

Mario stepped closer too and sized up the teens before looking back at his brother. Then at the teens again who felt a bit awkward in the big silence and with everyone's eyes on them.

"Very well. Welcome back," he smiled at Gaby and let his own, exact same type of yellow power be visible. His aura reached for the girl's as a greeting too.

The night finally found the two stray kids in a soft bed and under blankets. And they were very grateful for that. Everyone in the tribe came to greet their lost member after the more mutual introduction. And the blond girl melted away inside from the way they were treated. Even Pauly. She wouldn't let her brother go and feel left out. But these beasts gave the same warm welcome to the foreign kind of teenager as if he was their own. And after the big dinner and dancing to the tribal drums, Gaby closed her eyes smiling in the hug of Pauly. They will be okay. She dreamed of this place and the big adventure for a reason. She knew. It all will be okay. They found another home and family who can help them go back.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Back on Earth the Grey clan's warriors were sizing up the damage after the attack. Some were tending their wounds or others helped them before taking the injured to the East River clan's hideout. But Shawn, Mick, Sid, Stacey and Chris – the latter two peeking in from the door – were at Paul's room.

Shawn's weapon was still on the floor where he'd dropped it, while he was sitting in an armchair, stroking his grey hair back. The vibe in the trashed room was far from its usual calmness and the scents of the toppled over orchids were barely noticed by the pissed demons looking around.

Mick couldn't even stand in one place. He kept pacing all across the room and snorting or growling over and over from the mess he passed by. They all held the memory of the late shaman leader sacred. This outraged them beyond words.

Still, first the nervous Sid was the one who got himself more or less together to speak up. "Shawn... You have that list of the spell books Paul kept here, right? Maybe we can find out their next move if we know what they took," he said carful and low.

The addressed man sighed and rubbed his eyes like waking himself from a bad dream. From this attack on that room brought back all his buried emotions and hurt over how they had lost their beloved leader in a similar attack. "Someone should go and sneak into the Bloodstone castle. And I'll look now," he sighed again and stood up walking to the bookcase. Gently stroking the shelf, like greeting an old friend.

"I can take Craig and V-man with me to do some investigation," Chris offered. "Might ask you for a few tips of moving around undetected at the Bloodstones. I have a feeling they had something to do with this..." he added after looking at Stacey.

"Sure, I can help. I also want to report that the filth a.k.a. Robb is still in the dungeons. It seems they didn't know about him being held there or just didn't care," the black-haired Earth demon looked at the others in the room too, keeping an eye on her husband in case she needed to calm him.

"Good idea. My intuitions tell me the same. Somehow those fuckers are behind this," Shawn glimpsed at Chris.

Mick finally stood still and frowning watched what Shawn would figure out from the books. Folding his big arms in front of his broad chest, he was the embodiment of pent up rage.

"Teleportation spell book. Paul's father brought it from some other dimension. It is not even written on our Earth language. There is a myth... That once all the creatures like us could travel between those places. But the race who had the knowledge died out and no one has the power anymore. Only small portals can be opened for a short time. That's how witches kidnap children," Shawn hummed to himself. Why would they want a book no one can even read....?

Everyone's frown deepened at what Shawn was saying. The spouses even glimpsed at each other and finally Stacey entered the messed up room to walk next to the big beast.

"If they took it then perhaps they'd found someone who can read it?" That was Sid again, clearly trying hard after 'his' two fiascos from earlier. Not that anyone would blame him for the disappearances of the leaders and the kids.

"It'd make sense. And it would be also more bad news for us," Stacey sighed, exchanging a worried look with Mick.

"We'll try to keep an eye out for that book and everything and everyone that could be connected to it," Chris said rubbing his chin, already planning ahead. "How did they get past the protective spells in the first place? You keep renewing them, right?" he looked at Shawn a bit confused.

"Corey is not here," Shawn simply added and he dropped himself back in the armchair with another painful sigh and slowly rubbed his forehead.

"Corey has special powers. And with Jim their merged forces are different and much stronger," Mick continued it to explain. "It's all a well-built up plan. They probably have been plotting it for years. Studied us and how we work. That also would lead to the Bloodstones. They took out the two leaders who had the most power together. All the magic Corey’s been keeping up is weaker now that he’s gone."

"Stacey. Get the 'filth' ready so we will be able to transport him quickly when we need it. We might use that ace up in our sleeves if all starts to go downhill," Shawn mumbled and thought that maybe it was already downhill and just picking up more speed as all their fate goes lower...

Chris simply nodded to the remaining two leaders' reply to his question. It all made sense. No wonder the smaller attempts in the last ten or so years were futile when it came to trying to break through the barrier around the building.

"Already on it," the female nodded seriously then after a gentle and calming touch on Mick's tattooed forearm she headed for the door. "Walk with me, Chris. After I dealt with that bastard, I'll brief you about the Bloodstone property," she said and they both disappeared on the corridor, leaving the burdened leaders and the quiet and kinda uncertain Sid behind.

"If you want to, I can clean up and put the room in order," the red-haired warrior offered so he could do something and feel less useless even if he couldn't help otherwise.

"Thanks, Sid. I'll call the East Rivers about the attack. We should warn them and check if all is well over there," Mick murmured quickly while looking at Shawn.

The grey man cursed under his breath and stood, taking his weapon from Sid who already picked it up for him. That last thought of his about things going downhill echoing in his mind. For a moment he felt like he was maybe getting too old for this shit.

 ***

"And you are sure this will work?" the demon elder at the Bloodstone headquarters asked the witch twins.

"Yes. We are sure. Our mother made a mistake when she left that red child alive. Before she died she had told us about what power he holds and that it should be stopped. This book holds the details about the portals his power could open. Even if he finds a way back, which we doubt, with this we can rip that power from him," one of the sisters said holding up the old book meaningfully. "Our mother had left a note how to read this."

"Very well. We don't want any more of those animals to rule over our noble kind," the elder nodded with a serious look on his face. "Our way of life and businesses must be back as it's always been. The filthy beasts must be punished and wiped out forever."

"Yes, Milord. With this knowledge our kind won't just rule this world but all of the existing ones," the other sister added with an all-knowing smile.

 ***

Meanwhile the mated pair, Jay and the Jukai trio were getting ready to leave the high shaman's nest. Jim and Corey were unusually silent as they packed their little stuff together, their blue and red energies still swirling around them and every time they got close enough, the swirls reached out for each other to transform into that lilac shimmering.

Jim looked up when he felt Maynard's calm dark eyes on them, a small smile playing in the corner of his lips. The shaman seemed content about the turn of events and what went down in the cave. Jim didn't know yet how to feel about that.

"Here, you'll need sustenance," Aaron, the albino trainee stepped to them with small packs of food and fresh water, handing one to each demon.

"Thanks. It's kind of you," Jim murmured absently, his mind still not really focused on his surroundings.

Corey thanked the pack too and looked at his mate. The past knowledge that got revealed to them was all what he’d heard before. Still it was much more.

All his adult life Paul and his father were trying to teach him how to use his powers. And he always felt like a huge disappointment for not being that 'powerful skilled fucking shaman from the legends' like his kind should be. This... prophecy in which he and Jim will bring back the balance and a new era... It was too much pressure.

Still the magic they were shown felt familiar and like his own being's part. At the end the ritual that opened more chakras and allowed their powers to merge and be controlled more was still making the short beast dizzy. They will need to practice how they can use that in action. Without mating...

It was such a huge power. He was told about it, and even been hiding his real hair color and himself and his skills for many years. But it was much more than what he had imagined from the stories. Though, it seemed he had a bit easier way to accept it than Jim, Corey thought as he looked at his mate on their way to a narrow hilltop. The tall demon was closed up and lost in his own thoughts.

There were two things that were occupying Jim's mind as they were climbing a bit slower after the Jukai trio, Jay protecting the mated pair's ass. One was that Jim and Corey had learned in the cave a bit more about Jim's origins. So far they only knew that he was a half-breed born to an Earth demon father and a full-blooded beast mother. That's why Jim was able to mate with the red beast in the first place.

Now it became clear that his mother came from another dimension. Not Jukai, but an unknown one. Hence the blue-colored energies. It also meant that it wasn't a coincidence – not that they would believe in them – that Pauly was so similar to Jim. Not just in color but in personality too. Apparently, he was born in that other dimension too.

The other thing was how the ritual affected Jim's body. Its bigger size didn't matter when it came to the freed power. Obviously it was more compatible with Corey since it was more his power, but through their bond Jim's being was flooded with it too. And it seemed to be too huge for his physical body, making him dizzier and more messed up than Corey. Not that he'd say anything or complain about it as he was trying to fight off the negative side-effects and gain control over himself.

Still it manifested in some paleness and dark circles under his eyes as he was trying harder to pull himself together, catching his breath while leaning against a tree with a hand.

Of course, no bravery was big enough to hide those effects from the bond with Corey. The beast walked next to his mate and gently caressed his back.

The much more vivid and rich-colored red power reached out and wrapped around the tall demon soothingly to calm the awakened stronger blue force in him.

"I am with you babe. Work with me to help on this. Set it free a bit. We need to practice anyway," Corey said as he pressed a soft kiss on the long back.

Turning his head to look down at Corey, Jim took a few deep breaths, sensing that the other demons have stopped too. He could also feel their worry and maybe curiosity too. The "is he okay?" question was on everyone's mind, but Jim focused on Corey's words and that familiar yet still new... and denser power that wrapped itself around Jim. It felt warmer and tinglier too.

Of course his blue one reacted immediately, wanting to come out more to the coaxing. "I hope it won't draw in any enemy, but I can try..." the taller demon said, his eyes starting to glow more as he lowered his mental shield some more.

His power seemed to have waited just for that and started rushing out of him as if it wanted to overpower the red one. Jim held on to the tree trunk a bit tighter, gasping for air as he tried not to panic.

"It's okay, babe. Look at me. I can handle it more. See?" Corey whispered to him with another sweet kiss on Jim's back. And yes. The red power wrapped the blue one around and merged into a strong lilac shade. As soon as it managed to unite, Jim seemed to breathe easier too.

"Try to move it with me. As a shield. Like those dudes use their powers as weapons," Corey said working together with Jim through a mind link.

As air started flowing into his lungs again, Jim synced his breathing to Corey's calm one, taking deep breaths as he let their powers keep merging, creating more of the lilac smog that started to cover the ground, stretching further and further away from them.

"Okay,” the tall man slid his other hand onto Corey's that was around his middle and closed his eyes for a moment to use the mind link and visualize a wall from the fog with Corey through which the others couldn't see trough. With the red beast's help it was much easier and faster than Jim thought it would be.

The lilac smog-like energy moved at their will, some of it swirling and forming a wall around them, leaving only the two of them in the circle.

"Much more like it," Corey purred and pulled his mate down by his nape for a deep passionate kiss in the safety of their own power’s wall.

"Let's move now. As we saw our ancestors doing it," Corey said with a smile after the kiss. Moving the lilac fog from the solid wall mode to more fluid again, they stretched it far ahead of the others, near the hilltop, and squeezing Jim's hand focused on appearing there. Which worked. And the mates stood there above the Jukai demons and Jay, who with mouths wide open were staring surprised at the grinning mates.

That kiss probably helped as much as Corey's other ways to share the huge amount of their new power. Then they did what would've been impossible before the cave, leaving everyone's jaw on the floor – including the Jukai trio too.

"Oh we're gonna have so much fun with this," Jim finally chuckled, feeling a bit better as his long fingers were still laced together with his mate's. "I just hope when we mate, it won't actually make things explode around us," he giggled at the end, feeling their power pulling back a bit.

"I think we can control now that explosion too. But let's try something..." Corey said looking around and winking at the other demons. He made their united power kind of 'hop' over to a nearby pile of branches and explode there. "This will be useful too, I think."

Jim hummed, already seeing and feeling what Corey wanted to do and assisting him in silence, he grinned wide after the explosion. "You are abso-fucking-lutely right, love. This is so... awesome," he said now in awe instead of feeling miserable.

As the mates were trying out their enhanced or rather freed power, the Jukai demons (joined by the amazed Jay) were watching them a little calmer now that they more or less pulled themselves together. It wasn't often that they could see something like this.

"I didn't think that they'd figure out this fast how to actually use it. And doing it on their own? I think I can say it’s good that we are on their side," Matt murmured.

The long-haired Jukai Corey nodded. Feeling a bit proud of the fact that some of the ancient power was freed and in use again. "They are very good. Even have a special power in our terms too. The prophecy seems to be fulfilling itself," he also added starting to walk up to the mates.

"If anyone's interested, my tattoo isn't itching that much anymore," Jay blurted into the silence, making Paolo frown and give him one of his best brooding faces (in which he was very good with his high cheekbones and all).

Matt glimpsed at the young guardian amused and even chuckled a bit. "Good. It means your powers are awakening and getting stronger too."

"Come on, my drummer boy! You'll be an even more powerful guardian to us!" Corey laughed too as he stepped to the edge of the cliff and looked around.

Below a seemingly endless sea and swirling smog, and if he looked a bit farther he could make out the shapes of those other lands. Not like islands in the ocean. More like separated pieces of ground floating a few inches over the water. Just like they saw during that séance.

The Jukai shaman stood next to the red one with the same name, thinking about how it turned out that they are both connected to that dimension. Patting the red beast's shoulder, the long-haired fetched a whistle from his pocket and blew it. Sounds like the songs of the whales came from the small item, and very soon real whales replied to it.

As they all were standing on the cliff, suddenly a big shadow fell upon them. A whale passing over their heads. It was amazing in every possible way. Especially as it maneuvered to the cliff with its tail resting on the ground.

"Come, my friends. She will take us to your kids," Matt looked at the ones from Earth.

It was Jim's turn to leave his mouth open as the whale got into position then exchanging a quite exciting look with his mate and the grinning Jay, he squeezed Corey's hand. Their power was still out, but not as much as while they were practicing with it. Yet they didn't try to close it inside as much as before, their beast features showing somewhat as they let the excess power swirl around them as they walked onto the whale along the tail and spine until they were on its back. There they followed the example of the Jukai demons and sat down cross-legged, ready for the strangest ride in their life.

 ***

On Earth the small group of spies from the Gray clan moved across the city in one of the hidden underground tunnels. Stacey even made a map for them not to get lost when they get into Bloodstone territory. Chris, V-man and Craig were still shocked from the latest attack. And wanted revenge and answers to how they could keep their clan and loved ones safe.

If it was true that the Bloodstone clan was behind all of this, that means war between the Earth demons and the beast clan. And the smaller clans on both sides. And that would be long and bloody with a lot of deaths.

As they were sneaking closer to the castle in the tunnels, the three demons had some time to chat too. And what else would be on the table than the real amount of power their red beast leader held? So far only a small circle knew about the true extent of that power, but now the cat was out of the bag as Chris briefed the other two about that and why they were going on this solo mission. Namely to gather information and if luck was going to be on their side, steal that book back. But it was Shawn's strict orders that they could do the latter only if the opportunity to do it undetected presented itself. Sneaking around the Bloodstone castle and getting busted could become a cause to a war just as much.

They double checked the map and agreed on their roles in this mission before they crawled out of the small opening of the hidden path right inside the Bloodstone castle’s basement.

Using all their beastly skills, they sensed a small gathering on a nearby hall. As a well-organized and trained group, they moved without a sound, signaling each other and looking out not to bump into enemies.

Chris soon felt the scent of those exact witch twins and an old Earthly demon. What luck! They got them, probably with the book too.

They figured that they could get closer fast from the next room's balcony, and they were soon under the half-open window of the room in which the witches have been explaining their plans with the book for the elder. And none of it sounded good...

Especially the parts about the genocide of beasts and what the elder added about already bringing in more demon allies from the north. And how they will try to isolate the bigger and smaller camps and clans of the beasts and mixed breeds before a major raid to swipe them all out. The Lord present in the room and a few of his followers were going to take back the lead over the demons once again. And most of that plan was already done and in motion...

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

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.

The End