Three hours later, Dinlas called to say that his she-wolves had tracked Markos to the exact same spot in the forest as before. After sending me the location, I told him to find a place to hide and wait.
I strapped my sword across my back, fastening the straps of the sheath across my chest. A double gun holster fit comfortably over my hips. Artemis had selected one of the swords off the wall, just in case she needed it for close combat. I also had one for Dinlas, as well as a bag of smaller weapons. Hey, modern times call for modern weapons. If we had had the room, I’d have taken some rocket launchers. Maybe for the next battle.
We went to the roof, and I looked up at the night sky. The stars were twinkling, and the moon was full and bright. Not ideal for trying to sneak up on someone, but good for seeing the face of the enemy as he dies at the end of your sword.
I hadn’t noticed the dog that was following Artemis. “We can’t take your dog with us, Arty. Battle is no place for her.”
Artemis laughed, then whispered a spell. The dog turned into Sayeh, her dragon. “Her dog form is the only way I can keep her with me all the time. Causing a panic by having the mortals see a dragon flying around probably wouldn’t be very wise.”
I couldn’t argue with her about that. “I’m going to pop over to Dinlas’ location and inform him of our plan. You and Nike fly to his location and scan the area from above to see if you can spot their camp.”
“It shouldn’t be hard,” Nike replied. “Markos wants you to find him, so he will probably have a fire going. That will be easy to spot from the air.”
“Sayeh will be able to smell the smoke before we see it,” Artemis said. “You and Dinlas should be able to as well, but we will be able to pinpoint the location, so the two of you aren’t blindly walking through the forest.”
“Just be careful and alert,” I warned them. “I would imagine he has something in mind for land and air.”
“He can try,” Nike said, a hard look on her normally innocent face. She may act like a teenager, but in battle, she was a fierce warrior like the rest of us. God help whoever tangled with her.
Artemis climbed on Sayeh’s back and took off. Nike gave me a quick hug, unfurled her wings, and soared into the night sky. “May the Gods be with you both,” I said quietly.
I teleported to Dinlas’ location. He and the she-wolves had found a grove of trees that provided ample cover. “About time you got here,” he snapped.
“Battle plans aren’t something that just happen at the snap of my fingers, son. You know that just as well as I do.” I put the bag down and handed him the sword I had brought for him.
“Rather old-fashioned, don’t you think?”
“The old ways work just as well as the new ways. You make use of all the resources you have on hand.” I pointed to the bag. “But the new ways have their uses, too.”
Grabbing the bag, Dinlas opened it and whistled softly. “Very nice,” he said, taking out a grenade.
“There are extra guns and ammo in there as well. I even threw in a couple of brass knuckles for you. I know how you like to work close up at times.”
He grinned and looked around in the bag for the knuckles. “So, what is the plan?” he asked as he slipped them into his front pockets.
I went over the plan that Artemis, Nike and I had devised. “What about your girls?” I asked, glancing at Hate and Jealousy, who were sleeping on either side of him.
“They’ll take care of whoever gets in their way. I won’t have to tell them what to do in this situation,” Dinlas said as he put extra ammunition clips in the pockets of his jacket. He checked his guns to make sure his clips were full. I’m sure he had done that several times while he had waited for me to arrive. “Are you ready for this?”
“I’m always ready for a good fight.” I wanted to tell him about his dead office worker, Cyndi, but I couldn’t. He’d ask me how I knew, and I wasn’t ready to spill the beans about that yet.
Neither one of us knew what to say after that, so we sat down and leaned against the tree trunks. I smelled whiffs of smoke, but as Artemis said, it would be hard to know for sure what direction it was coming from.
I think I dozed off, because the next thing I knew, Nike was gently shaking me and saying my name. “We found their camp,” she told me. “It’s about three miles from here.”
I stood up and stretched to work the kinks out. I looked at my son and my little sister. “You don’t have to go with me,” I told them, giving them the opportunity to back out. “You’ve already been a tremendous…”
“Not a snowball’s chance in Tartarus,” Dinlas said. “We fight together.” His wolves growled in agreement.
I glanced at Nike. “All the way,” she said.
Nothing more needed to be said. With Nike leading the way, I followed her deeper into the forest, with Dinlas and his wolves bringing up the rear.
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