Guardians of The Demon Slayer(4)

By: Ruby Raine

But mostly, after the shitty nightmare that had gone down the last time Emily was a prisoner at the Power Source, Michael didn't want her to ever have to return here if she didn't choose to. She was only back on the island by a turn of events that wasn't her choice, and that was bad enough. And she was safer away from here while her aunt and ghost of a mother taught her how to use her gift as a Spirit Vessel.

Sadly, though, and Michael hated to admit it, this place had stolen a lot from Emily, and he wasn't sure how she'd ever want to live here again. He hadn't wanted to admit it before and admitting it even now was hard. But he had to accept the truth—Emily might not want to stay. And he wasn't able to leave.

Although, why was he staying?

He'd promised to stay to find his father and they'd done that. Jack Howard had been freed from the Soul Hunter only to die, for real. And if their duty ended when whatever the hell was about to happen went down, would he actually need to stay on the Isle?

For a moment, those old desires to flee the island wound their way through his veins. Would he ever get the chance to travel and see the world? To go to college? To do something, anything, that wasn't about being a Howard Witch? Or have a future with Emily if that meant no longer being on the Isle?

Part of Michael wished he could just be happy with where he was. But it seemed that it just wasn't in his blood to be satisfied by being a witch, or an empath and death reader. But, like always, now was not the time to think about it. Now was not the time to act on it. Or talk about it. Someday was fast becoming his least favorite word.

Never today. Because there was yet another crisis brewing that only the Howards could handle. And tonight, he was filling Charlie's shoes. And though he'd been open to the idea, and wanting Charlie not to feel like he always had to be in charge, Michael found that he preferred not to be.

He was better when he had time to think. And plan. And prepare. Not dive right in and react to the chaos unfolding. This making decisions on the fly thing could fuck right off. He hated it. Because his choices didn't only affect him, but all those around him.

No pressure....

He shook his head in silent sadistic challenge, because no matter what he might want out of this life, leaving all those decisions up to his brother all the time wasn't fair either. It was a duty they needed to share the burden of.

The silence surrounding the Source branched outward, each of them either at full attention to their surroundings, or having a deep moment of inner reflection. Not knowing when the Power Source might give birth had left them spending the last three days on high alert.

They'd been doing non-stop rounds, keeping watch. Decking themselves out in clothes ready for battle, or stealth, should it be needed. They had magic belts at the ready, stocked with potion bottles ready to use at a moment's notice.

But even with all the prep and inevitability of a battle, they didn't feel fully prepared. Because it was impossible to prepare for the unknown. It left them worked up, overtired, and balancing on a sharp edge that was going to cut away to chaos at any moment.

Along with concerns that the longer things took inside the Source, the inevitable crash was soon to find them too. Exhaustion was already setting in, with only short hours available for sneaking in sleep. Or a normal meal. They could only survive on caffeine and adrenaline for so long. The humans at least. Without the vampires, who didn't require such trivial things like rest and sleep, the situation would be even more frightening. But even they were showing signs of strain the longer the wait continued.

Living on the edge of a war just waiting to break out wasn't good for anyone, it turned out. Human, witch, vampire, it didn't matter. Nerves were flayed and frayed.

Lizzy plunked back against a tree looking not so unlike Charlie—unusually defeated and off kilter. She wasn't questioning her choice to become a werewolf, but she knew how much it was killing Charlie to leave this, to protect her, and how equally it was killing her to do the same.

It was feeling impossible and wrong to leave a group of people she cared about tremendously, knowing trouble of the killing kind was brewing, and they'd be unable to help—never mind she didn't want to add to that trouble pile if things went awry during her shift. Like they needed that to happen. This left it up to her and Charlie to make sure they did their part and kept her wolfy issues out of the Power Source issues.