Chapter Twenty-Three: Ashe
Ashe’s face burned with shame. He’d let his temper get the better of him again, and to no avail this time. His opponent still stood, and he’d left a swath of destruction behind him that he’d have to answer for.
He was just like his father—lash out when push came to shove. He was supposed to be better than that.
Goaded on by his shame, he lunged across the table at the man, and it fell into ruin before him.
The dragon rider dodged his advance, but more slowly than before. His attacks had taken some toll.
“Is that the best you’ve got, mate?” the man taunted, though his voice was ragged with exhaustion too.
Ashe glanced back at where Jaxx lay crumpled on the ground. The dragon rider’s female companion hovered over the satyr’s prone form. What was she doing to him?
“You’re a fucking asshole,” he muttered to the man. “Why’d you do that to Jaxx?” He had been defending someone he loved, at least.
That thought set him back a moment. Love? Was he in love with Jaxx?
“He attacked me first,” the man said.
There was a loud crash across the room as Tibo threw the skin walker against a metal cabinet.
“Why the fuck are we fighting, then?” Ashe asked.
For his answer, the dragon rider grunted and dived at him again, catching him across the waist and knocking him backward against a metal cart, sending it skittering across the room to crash into a wall. His anger surged, and his wings spread as he tried frantically to slow his backward momentum.
* * * * *
As Tibo continued to forge his own personal path of destruction across the lab, using the skin walker as his own personal battering ram, Rolly tried to pin down the merman. But the man slipped out of his grasp once again, humming some kind of fecking elevator tune.
“Hold still, would you?” He grabbed the man by the legs and hauled him bodily across the ground toward him.
“He’s going to kill Nootau,” the merman said, exasperated, trying to scramble away again.
Rolly spared a glance for his lover. “Aye.” Tibo was letting his anger get the best of him again, and Ashe was doing no better.
Somebody had to be the adult in the room, and fecking hell, it look like it fell to him. He let go of the man. “What might you propose?”
The merman looked up at him, relieved. “We’re going to attract unwanted attention from the guards if we keep this up,” he said. “I’m Aegeus, and those two are my second and third.”
Rolly snorted. “Third, huh? I have trouble enough with just the one.”
Aegeus shrugged. “Look, we need to talk this out—if that doesn’t work, we can always beat the shit out of each other again later.” He winked.
Rolly nodded. “Might have to knock some heads in to get their attention.”
* * * * *
Tibo growled. The thought of what the skin walker had done made him crazy. Treating a human like that, consuming his soul—it was a thing both foul and degenerate.
The guy barely even put up a fight.
He grabbed the walker by the neck again and slammed him against a table, sending beakers and lab equipment flying to the ground with a resounding crash.
He pulled back his fist for a blow.
Something jerked him into the air.
He flailed about, cursing up a storm. “Let me fucking down.” He swung around to see Rolly’s face.
“Calm down, Tibo. You’re a fecking madman.”
Tibo stopped, his arms falling back to his side.
“Are you ready to be civil?”
“Fucking skinwalker deserved it...” he muttered.
“What was that?”
“Yes. Put me down, and I’ll be all civil and shit.”
Rolly set him down. “Is your skinwalker friend okay?”
Aegeus knelt next to the Being. “I hope so. After what your friend did to him. He was injured, you know. You attacked a helpless injured man.”
“Injured?” Tibo screeched. “After what he did to another person…”
He jumped forward, but Rolly pulled him back by the collar. “Use your words, Tibo.”
Tibo looked around. The others were still facing off, but they seemed to be losing steam.
“Enough with the fecking fighting,” Rolly said. “You all have made a shite mess of the place.” He marched over to Tibo, crossing his arms. “What say we leave the wounded skinwalker be, and ask his friends why they are here instead?”
Jaxx floated in lonely oblivion, surrounded by an inky-black darkness. Something throbbed in his head, sending red waves through his dark night.
He tried to remember who he was. Where he was. Why he was here. Something had happened.
Someone was trying to hurt Ashe.
His eyes flickered open, and he sat up, sending more waves of pain through his skull. His vision cleared, and he saw a lovely woman looking down at him, her brow creased in concern.
“Try not to move,” she said softly. She put a cool hand on his brow.
All around him, things were crashing and there were screams and shouts and grunts. Ashe. “Ashe needs me…” He tried to get up again, and something growled at him.
“Stay still or I can’t help you.” The woman’s voice had an edge of steel.
Slowly the pain in his head began to ease, ebbing like a receding tide. “Ahhhhhhh…” he said, grateful. “I’m Jaxx,” he murmured.
“Edwige,” the woman said. “And your furry prison guard is Kaden.”
Jaxx grinned wryly. “Nice to meet you.” Then he heard Ashe’s voice. “I have to go help him!” He struggled to get up, but he still felt a bit queasy.
He closed his eyes and waited for everything to start making sense again.