Chapter Twenty-Six: Mal
Someone's Going to be Pissed When They Wake
He lightly drew patterns on Kaden's skin; he didn't want to wake the man; Kaden was as dog tired as Mal. Their trip back from the castle had been fraught with tension the entire way, not knowing if they were going to be caught or not. When those men had arrived at the platform, and interrogated Tibo, Mal thought they were a goner.
If it weren't for that lovely goblin grandmother, they would likely be sitting in a jail cell somewhere right now.
The feeling of relief when the front door closed behind the last of their party had been mind numbing. The tension that had filled Mal ever since the alarms sounded at Schloss Rotlicht had drained out of him on the spot and left him seeing stars.
When Jaxx had sent Rolly and Tibo off to bed, telling them Nootau and the others had already settled themselves in the largest room, Mal and Kaden had followed suit. It had been a bloody long night, and Mal was exhausted.
"We'll talk more when everyone's had a decent sleep and can actually comprehend what the hell's just happened," Mal said to Jaxx and Ashe as they too looked dead on their feet.
"Sounds good. Sleep well," Ashe agreed.
Kaden had taken Mal by the hand and searched the house for the first available bedroom. It hadn't taken them long, and Mal hadn’t paid his surroundings much attention, his eyes were watering, and he couldn't stop yawning.
They quickly undressed, Kaden had kissed Mal sweetly then curled up into Mal and promptly fallen asleep. Mal had dropped off as well.
Mal glanced at his watch and silently cursed. He'd only slept for four hours. Nowhere near long enough. He closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but the darkness evaded him.
The room was too bright, the curtains doing bupkis to block out the light from outside. That and the fact the Mal's brain refused to shut off from everything that had happened last night.
Everything they'd seen played on a loop in his head. This seemed to be spread further than Mal had originally thought, than Anya had even realised. The thought of his sister had Mal choking back a sob. He doubted Anya had any idea what the hell she'd stumbled upon. He was so close to finding the one responsible for her murder; he could almost taste it.
His body shook with frustration and anger. He had to try and put his sister's death out of his mind. If he didn't, he'd be no good to anyone. It would eat away at him until it consumed him. It had already taken him from Australia to Switzerland. He had to be smarter about things now. He couldn't go off half cocked, things were so much bigger than one death. They needed a plan, as a group.
Not wanting to wake Kaden he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss to Kaden's forehead, then carefully removed Kaden's arm from around Mal's chest. Mal slid out of bed and quietly watched Kaden for a while to make sure he hadn't woken the gorgeous wolf. Kaden had been a real asset to them yesterday, and he needed his sleep.
Mal rummaged in his pack and pulled out a pair of his leather pants; he slipped them on as quietly as he could. He didn't bother about a top; the house was heated thankfully. The temperature outside wasn't freezing, but it was pretty bloody close to it. Living in Australia, the winters weren't anywhere near as awful as the European ones, or hell, even the North American ones.
Mal quietly closed the door behind him as his stomach grumbled loudly. It looked like his first point of call would be the kitchen.
The house was silent, just like Mal had expected it to be. It was also nicer than just about anything Mal had ever been in before. Going from the Australian Army to the Dragon Rangers guild, accommodation was basic at best. This place was clearly made with lots and lots of money. Mal was almost afraid to touch anything in case he broke it.
His stomach growled again, and after a few wrong turns, Mal found the kitchen, all black granite bench tops, and silver appliances. Mal bet usually there wasn't a fingerprint in sight. That so wasn’t the case now, not after it had been used as a safe house for Tibo and the others.
He opened the fridge and sighed in relief at finding it fully stocked. Mal started to remove all the fixings for omelets and some homemade hash browns.
It took him a while to locate the chopping boards and bowls. The frypans were easy as they hung from a thick metal rack that was tethered to the high ceiling with chains. The knives sat in a block on the bench next to the six burner gas stove.
Happy he'd located everything, Mal set about chopping all the ingredients. He was so focused on what he was doing he didn't notice Rolly wander in and take a seat on the other side of the counter until the other man spoke.
"I don't suppose I could impose on you to make me one of those lovely things?" he asked.
Mal jumped at the unexpected sound. He glanced up at the pale banshee and smiled when his heart rate had slowed back down again.
"Sure, with the lot?" he asked.
In front of him, he had ham, onions, capsicum, baby spinach, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes all cut up and ready to go.
Mal started cracking eggs into a bowl and mixing them with a little milk.
The hashbrowns were sizzling away nicely in a pan on the stove already.
Mal started sauteing some of the ingredients for Rolly's omelet when Edwige wandered in and took a seat beside Rolly.
"Couldn't sleep?" she asked no one in particular.
"No," Rolly replied.
"Nope," Mal answered, "Hungry?"
"Famished." She smiled at him.
"Coming right up." Mal went back to cooking. Adding the eggs, cheese and tomatoes to Rolly's omelet.
"So," he said to break the silence in the room. "It would seem the Rubrum Lux is further spread than any of us originally imagined."
"So it would seem, yes," Edwige agreed.
"Do you think we can trust this Akemi?' Rolly asked before Mal could.
"I don’t know. We'll never know unless we try, though. We all have questions that need answering, where else are we going to get those answers from?"
Mal thought about what Edwige said as he dished up the plate for Rolly, including a nice helping of hashbrowns.
"Thank you, this looks amazing."
"Anytime, mate," Mal grinned then got back to work on Edwige's.
A couple of minutes later Mal remembered something from the previous night before they'd had to flee, "Does anyone in our group speak or read German?"
"I can both speak it and read it, though my French is better than my German. Tibo can barely speak it, as for reading it, I doubt it, why?" Rolly asked.
"When we were in the library last night before all hell broke loose, Ashe found a book, bound in dragon skin. It looks like an old diary. Handwritten. It looked promising. Rubrum Lux was mentioned in a couple of the passages. The only problem is it's in German and written in gothic script."
"I’m not sure how much help I’ll be with the gothic script, but it can’t hurt to take a look. Does he still have the book?" Rolly asked.
"He may have relieved it of its previous home." Mal grinned at them then served up Edwige's breakfast and started on his own. He'd cook for anyone else when they finally woke up.
When Mal finally sat down with the other two to eat, Edwige paused with a fork halfway to her mouth and placed the phone Akemi had given her the previous night on the bench in front of them.
"Even if you can translate some or all of the diary, I think she's our best bet of getting the answers we need,” Edwige said calmly.
Mal really hated the idea of bringing in someone else, especially since they didn't know if they could trust her. She worked for the very people they were investigating. He just couldn't see another way of them getting what they needed.
Somewhat reluctantly he nodded his agreement.
"Fuck if I can think of another way to go," Rolly agreed.
Edwige placed her fork on her plate and picked up the phone. Mal watched as she tapped away at the screen for several seconds then placed the phone back on the counter.
Edwige let out a heavy sigh. "The other's aren't going to like this."
"No, but they'll see it's the only way, same as we have."
They went back to eating. A couple of minutes later the phone chimed, and a message appeared on the screen.
Sit tight, we'll be there in the next 48 hours.
They had less than two days to try and convince a couple of hot heads they'd done the right thing while everyone else was sleeping. Mal just thanked God that Edwige and Rolly were here to help try and soothe their men when they woke up.