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Out of The Dark (The Grey Wolves #4)(4)

By:Quinn Loftis

Darkness consumed him. The lights went out.
Fane watched as his Beta, who had just jumped in front of him, fell to the ground. Sorin, Fane, and Skender all took up defensive positions, looking into the dark night, searching for the enemy.
"Sorin, what happened to him?" Fane called out.
"Dark magic," Sorin growled. "He's been hit with a curse."
"What kind of curse?"
"We won't know until he wakes." Sorin looked back to Costin, who growled as he watched his Beta unconscious on the ground. "Costin, take Skender's position. Skender, Boain, and Fane – surround Decebel. He might wake up feral and need to be subdued. Fane, as Vasile's heir you can draw on his power, just as Decebel can. Do it if he's uncontrollable. We cannot have a feral wolf of his strength running around."
The men moved to follow Sorin's orders, glad to have a job to do as their wolves were pushing to take action.
Just as Decebel began to move another flash of light hit his chest, pushing him back into the ground. The entire pack, as well as members of the three packs left waiting, began to snarl and growl.
"Hold your phase!" Sorin growled as he began to see his pack mates' claws and canines descend.
The night became quiet but for the steady growls. Each wolf was standing alert, ready for anything that might come at them.
Several minutes passed and Decebel began to stir again. Fane and Skender helped him sit up. Suddenly his head snapped around and the wolves saw his glowing eyes and long canines. He lifted his eyes to the sky and let out a tormented howl. The powerful, audible grief that filled the night pulled every wolf to their knees. Howls ripped from their chests and they mourned with the Beta, even though they didn't know why.
The howl died and Decebel rose into a crouch. "Cosmina!" He snarled. He looked at Skender, then to Sorin. "Unde este sora mea? Am privit-o cum moare. Am ținut-o în brațe acum câteva moment. (Where is my sister? I watched her die. I held her in my arms moments ago.)"
Sorin looked at Decebel, his brow furrowed as he tried to understand what the Beta was saying.
"Why is he asking about his sister?" Fane asked.
Decebel growled at him. Sorin stepped in front of Fane, instinctive for him to protect the wolf who had been his charge for so long.
"Ce știi despre sora mea, lupușor? (What do you know of my sister, pup?)” he growled at Fane. His eyes continued to glow.Fane's wolf – being a dominant as well – pushed forward to meet the challenge. His eyes began to glow also. A low growl rumbled in his chest.
"Fane, he is still your Beta," Sorin reminded him.
Fane closed his eyes and drew his wolf back. Taking slow, deep breaths, he calmed the beast that demanded he prove his strength.
Sorin, avoiding direct eye contact, continued to look Decebel's way. "Decebel, do you understand what I'm saying to you?" he asked in English.
It was obvious that something had happened to Decebel's memory.
Decebel narrowed his eyes at Sorin. "Yes, I understand you," he forced out.
Finally, he stood, body tense, legs spread wide, ready for action. "I ask you again, Sorin, where is my sister? Who the hell are all these other wolves?"
Sorin relaxed his stance, trying to let Decebel see that he was not challenging him.
"It's been a century since your sister died."
Decebel snarled and, moving quicker than the eye could follow, grabbed Sorin by the throat. "You lie! I know what just happened. I feel the pain of it coursing through my veins even now. WHERE IS SHE!"
Sorin held up his hand to call down the wolves that were easing forward to defend him.
"Decebel, you know me. We are pack mates. Would I lie to you?"
Decebel listened to Sorin as he held the wolf's gaze, searching for any deceit. Finally he dropped him and stepped back.
Sorin caught himself before he crumpled to the ground. Straightening his clothes, he spoke earnestly, but calmly.
"Decebel, I think you've been cursed. The year is 2010. We've been attacked by the Serbian Alpha and we think he is using a witch. Two powerful lights hit you in the chest and knocked you out. We don't know what the curses are, but we have a gypsy healer who might be able to figure it out."
Decebel swung around, slamming Sorin with his amber eyes. "Gypsy healer? Since when do we have a gypsy healer?"
"That's what I'm trying to tell you. It's not 1910, it's 2010. One hundred years have passed since Cosmina's death."
"How can that be?" Decebel asked, not speaking to any one person. "And yet, even as I stand here, memories fill my mind that could only be after her time. I know the things that existed in 1910." He began to pace as he tried to work out the confusion that muddled his thoughts. "But I also know of all the things that have been created since. Why do I feel like today is the day she died? Every single raw emotion; every jolt of pain; every lethal streak of anger. I feel those as if it had just happened."
No one responded to Decebel's monologue, watching him with wary eyes.
"Our ride's here," Costin spoke up, and everyone turned to watch the two Hummers and two vans pull up. 
Sorin looked back at Decebel to see his reaction. After hearing him say he had memories of things that had happened after Cosmina's death, Sorin was unsure what things would be new to him. But Decebel didn't act surprised or confused by the modern vehicles.
Sorin stepped closer to his Beta as the other wolves began to pile into the cars.
"I know you are confused and hurting, but you've trusted me since we were pups. Please trust me now. I can take you to Vasile and Alina."
Decebel's head snapped up. "The Alphas are here?"
Sorin nodded.
"I will go with you."
Decebel gritted his teeth as he followed Sorin to the vehicles. As he climbed in, he recognized Skender, Dorin, Boain, and Anton. Ealier, he'd recognized a few others – Emilian, Ciprian, and Stellion. He ignored the wolves he didn't recognize. He could feel his dominance over them. They were no threat.
"Where are we?"
Sorin answered, "We've been in the Transylvanian Alps for nearly a week. We had a mutli-pack gathering."
Decebel's forehead wrinkled as he drew his eyebrows together. Images filled his mind, images with black holes in them.
"Why do I remember this?"
"What do you remember?" Skender spoke to his Beta for the first time since Decebel had regained consciousness.
"I remember being here. I remember fighting with some wolves from the Serbian pack, but I don't know why. I remember being locked up, but I can’t remember why. There are these blank dark spaces in my memory." Decebel's voice was steady, though his words became terse as his frustration grew. "Why don't I remember some of these wolves with us? I can smell that you are pack, but I have no memory of you."
"I wish I had answers for you, Beta. I'm as lost as you are," Sorin admitted.
Decebel stiffened. "I am not your Beta, Sorin."
"Yes, you are. You became our Beta shortly after your sister's passing," Skender offered.
"I have no memory of that. Surely I would remember something as important as that," Decebel growled out.
The vehicle drew quiet after his words, the only sound the hum of the engine as they traveled down the mountain to the village. Decebel stared out the window into the darkness – he felt one with that darkness. The empty places inside him, and this unexplainable pain that was ripping him in half, drew him away from the light. He closed his eyes, searching for things that he didn't even know were lost. But he could feel that something was gone. Something very important and sacred to him was gone.
When they arrived in the village, Sorin saw Jacque and Sally standing in front of a large building. The lack of light on the street allowed the sky to twinkle with stars as far as the eye could see in every direction. The building, a tavern, was two stories and had a sharply pitched roof that glistened with snow. Five chimneys stood proudly from the roof and smoke billowed from them, disappearing into the cold night sky. The four windows on the second story flickered with light, most likely due to oil burning lamps or lit candles– making it evident that this town had no electricity. The first story boasted a large covered porch with two wicker chairs facing each other. Next to the chairs, two worn wooden benches sat on either side of the large door that granted access to the interior. A sign hung from the roof that declared the tavern name “Cîrciumă” (Tavern).
Very original, Sorin thought. His eyes swept back to the two girls huddled close together to keep the cold at bay. They waved the vehicles over.
After exiting the car, Fane walked over to Sally and Jacque. He needed to briefly fill them in before they could provoke Decebel with their usual abrasive remarks.Sally and Jacque's mouth's both dropped open as their eyes fell on their Beta. They noticed his overly grim face and shadowed eyes. Fane quickly explained what had happened, but the subject was dropped as Decebel came near.
"There is a large gathering room at the back," Jacque told Fane, "but we're already at standing room only. Isn't there another group coming?"
Fane nodded as Decebel passed them. Once he was out of earshot, Fane went on. "We would have waited to be the last ones down, but Decebel is dangerous right now. We needed to get him here." His eyes fell on Sally, who took a step back at the look that he was giving her—a look that said he was about to drop a bomb in her lap. "We need you to work your magic on him. We don't know what happened. Sorin thinks it's a curse."