“Who is he?” Justin asked.
Daldion was distant. “The Watcher and his companion. Two in one. Like us.”
Justin’s eyes, within his mind, narrowed. “Like us—“
“Keep your thoughts silent, Justin Kobe. He is the Watcher and the Judge. He can sense your mind and feelings. He can feel your thoughts if you do not keep them to yourself.”
Justin felt a cold surge. “Mind reading?”
“No…he reads our minds like I read yours now. But he is simply able to hide his presence within our minds. That is his gift.” Daldion manifested, his golden eyes staring into Justin’s.
“Like your gift is seeing the future—prophecy?”
“And like yours is leading.” Daldion’s eyes dropped.
Justin was realizing that Daldion communicated far more with his body than with his words. His tail, eyes, fur, and stance said what his few verbal—or mental—words did not. “If my gift is leading and I’ve only just…been found, who was your leader before?”
Daldion’s answer was what Justin expected. “Our leader was him—the Watcher. Buncombe.”
Justin opened his eyes.
Buncombe, the African-English gentleman—there was no better word for him—was making a fire in the small cave that Justin had found shelter in. Most of the wood was damp, but Bumcombe had found dry sticks in the rear of the cave and was drying out the rest. Steam rose from the logs.
The man wore boots, sturdy leather ones, that contrasted with his overall bedraggled appearance. He was dressed like a hobo. A street person.
“When was the last time you looked at street person? Most people, most respectable people—” he snorted through his moustache, “—bounce their eyeballs.”
Buncombe looked up at the movement. “Didn’t Daldion tell you not to think too loudly?”
Justin didn’t respond.
Bunombe went back to his work—warming his gloved hands. “It’s a perfect disguise—or reality. Nobody notices you. You can follow people all you want.” He glanced over his shoulder and raised his voice. “And you don’t ‘ave to hire strapping thugs to do your dirty work.”
Amber raised her hands in surrender as she stepped into view, her clothes rimmed with snow. “I never could sneak up on you, you old reprobate.”
Francisco was shivering. “What’s a…reprobate?”
Buncombe pursed his lips. “Me. Didn’t you hear that part?”
The Latin American knelt before the fire, uncurling his frozen fingers with a sigh of relief. “I…must have missed it.
Smoke drifted out the wide cave entrance. It was not deep, but was dry, and the fire was beginning to catch. With the darkening of the sky, the flames flickered life and warmth into the group.
Amber, Francisco and Buncombe sat together, staring into nothingness. Justin watched with little interest.
He was warm, so he hadn’t gone back…Daldion hadn’t let him go back. Into his other form. His wolf form.
But Daldion was with him, not them.
“Why aren’t you with them? Can’t you…link up? Jack in? Whatever?”
“I could. But they will consult—they must decide what to do with you without me. My opinion has been…affected…by my time with you.” Daldion bowed his head. “They believe…believed that I could be better off with a different host. A different human.”
“What!? How!? How can they get you out?”
“They cannot. They can only wait…and let you die. Leave to for their enemies to find…or at the least not protect you from them and wait for the inevitable. ”
Justin felt…strange. The fact that he was within his mind meant he could not feel sick—at least not nauseous—but he felt disgusted. “They can’t do that!”
“They could try. Their aim is not the good of you, but of the Pack. Of all of us. If one can die so that others might live, should they not die?”
Justin pulled his knees up to his chest. He was down to his undershirt—his sweatshirt was drying by the fire. He delved back into his mind.
“So you agree with them?”
“I do not,” Daldion said firmly. “You are my companion. And this…this has not been seen before.”
“What? A teen werewolf? They’ve done that before.”
“No.” Daldion moved into Justin’s space and stood before him. He bent his head and front legs. He was…bowing. “I am the Prophet, and as such I am a guide of the Ruler. You. We, together, are Ruler and Prophet. I will stand beside you.”
Justin opened his eyes to see the three others—or six, if their companions, the other wolves, were within them—watching him
He met their gaze squarely.
“We have decided,” Amber said, her voice quiet.
Justin pulled on his warm—and damp—sweatshirt. “Well?”
Buncombe pulled his hat off, which for some reason he hadn’t removed. “We have decided to wait. It is not the responsibility,” he glanced at Amber, “of a mere Watcher to decide. It is the decision of the Ruler—or, barring that—the Pack as a whole.”
He smiled, his teeth startlingly white. “You will learn what it means to be a member of the Pack—and then you will be judged.”