Home > Etched in Honor (Aspen Pack #1)

Etched in Honor (Aspen Pack #1)
Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

 

Prologue

 

 

Malphas had known what the demon Caym had been up to in the human realm. But he hadn’t cared all too much. For if he were to care about what another demon was doing, then others might notice what his plans were with a certain realm. No, it was better to walk away and let the little demon do what he had to within a Pack of wolves.

Malphas snorted as he ran his hands over his dark black suit. No, little Caym had thought small potatoes, as the humans liked to say.

For that demon had wanted to take over a single Pack, so he could destroy another Pack of wolves, and then maybe at one point possibly take over the world.

No, Malphas didn’t care what Caym did. Unless others noticed and started to look into his personal plans.

Then Malphas would have to care.

Neg strolled through the open door and glared at Malphas.

“What is it?” Malphas asked as he adjusted his tie. He’d gone into the human realm a few times since the portal had been opened thanks to the sacrifice of that Central wolf. He always liked getting the best suits and attire from the humans. It was either that or wear the leather and chains that some of the demons liked within this realm. No, Malphas preferred the sophisticated life. After all, his children would enjoy those benefits as well.

“The higher-ups have finally taken notice of Caym.”

Malphas froze and turned ever so slightly to the one demon that he could possibly call his friend. “And we have our orders then?” Malphas asked. He was a general for the one true demon, but he only took orders from that one. No one else. Unlike little Caym.

Neg shrugged. “We have to pick him up. We’re also taking Trail with us.”

Malphas frowned. “Do they honestly think it’s going to take the three of us to bring that little demon back to our realm? It took an entire Pack of magic and sacrifice to bring him to the human realm. He had no power to do it on his own. And yet we are supposed to take him in force?”

Neg just grinned. “They want a show. I do believe they don’t want this to happen again. Caym was a little loose with his magic and wasn’t listening as he should have.”

Malphas sighed. “And I suppose we’ll put on that production, and another wolf or human or even a little witch will never think to use that spell again to call us forth.”

“They think to bind us,” Neg growled.

Malphas sneered. “They think to own us. But they will never. They don’t understand the power that we wield.”

Neg grinned evilly. “They don’t. But they will.”

Malphas adjusted his tie one more time, slid his hand over the silk, and nodded tightly. “Let’s go pick up that little demon. The one who tried so hard,” he teased.

Neg just shook his head, another smile playing on his lips, as they made their way to pick up Trail and find that woebegone demon. Thanks to the magic of the wolves on the other side of the rift, and their own, they opened a portal to where the Redwood Pack lay.

There was shouting and screaming. It seemed as if there had been a battle of some sort. Malphas didn’t care, but he still stepped through the portal in a V formation with Neg and Trail. They did bring the image of power, didn’t they?

Malphas raised his head as Caym began to scream. However, the demon didn’t have that power. He couldn’t overtake them.

The wolves surrounded them as if they were ready to take on three demons from the hell realm. They didn’t know much, did they?

Instead, Malphas stepped forward and gripped Caym’s arm. Caym struggled, trying to get away, but Malphas didn’t care.

Neg and Trail continued to help, and they pulled Caym through the portal.

Malphas couldn’t help himself though, he looked over his shoulder, directly at the wolves with the bright green eyes, and winked.

One little wolf’s green gaze narrowed as their mouth dropped, and Malphas held back a smile.

The demons slid through the portal, and as it snicked partially closed, Malphas knew soon a little minion would come to finish closing it from their end.

Or… Malphas thought. Maybe he could have a little fun.

After all, they say revenge is best served cold, or was it patience saves the day? He wasn’t sure what the humans said. All he knew was that he had necessary plans.

Plans that had nothing to do with the hell dimension and everything to do with the children he planned on sending into the human realm.

But they would have to wait to see exactly what happened next.

 

 

Chapter

One

 

 

AUDREY

 

 

I dodged the blacked-tipped talons handily but nearly tripped over the wolf to my side. I winced as I jumped over Ronin and didn’t let the fact that he cowered beside me insult my cat. After all, he was a new wolf. And he didn’t know exactly how to fight yet. This wasn’t exactly the training I had planned for the day, but there was no going back now, not when I needed to fight whatever these things were.

It looked like a man, a normal man, with excessive strength. Its eyes were dark-rimmed, but I couldn’t see its irises to tell what color they were. And its fingernails had turned into claws, or perhaps the talons I had once thought. But they looked as if they had been dipped into black ink. The nails were black for sure, but even the fingertips seemed to radiate that darkness.

I had never seen the like, but as I was part of the Aspen Pack, I knew that not all was what it seemed, and there were many unknowns out there.

I let my claws push through my fingertips and raked the nails down the back of one. The man in front of me let out a shocked gasp, then fell to his knees. I didn’t want any of that black tar or whatever it was to touch me. My cat didn’t like the scent of it, and frankly, neither did the human part of me.

I was a lion shifter in the middle of a wolf Pack, a wolf Pack that was like none other.

And my cat already had enough and arched its back up.

There were two of these creatures in front of me, and they didn’t scent of the rogues that we had been fighting for years, nor did they scent of wolf.

I wasn’t sure if they were a witch gone bad or not, but whatever they were, we needed to deal with it before it was too late.

I grumbled a bit, then found a branch to toss at Ronin. Ronin gave me this odd look, his human face looking puzzled, and I sighed before I made sure he held the stick, and I pulled the dagger out of my boot.

I used my claws on the creature’s back, but I wasn’t about to get anywhere near its mouth.

My senses told me it wasn’t a good idea, no matter what it was.

I used the dagger to stab the closest creature at the base of the skull and twisted. It let out a scream, one abruptly cutoff, before it fell to its knees, its body at an odd angle on the ground.

I went to the other one, but it came at Ronin quickly, ignoring me. I cursed under my breath, my cat ready to slice at those who endangered our people. Ronin was under our watch, and we refused to let him get hurt because we weren’t strong enough.

I kept moving towards it, but Ronin smacked the thing with the branch.

Well, that was one way to fight it. Probably not the best way, but we were getting somewhere. At least I hoped so.

Ronin smacked it again, but then the creature gripped the branch and shook it. He tossed Ronin twenty feet back, and my brows winged up.

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