“I think I may have an idea but hear me out. As for the attack, Émilien was making his rounds in the Shadow Lands, something he has done for thousands of years without issue. He would still be trapped there if he hadn’t received help from several creatures who seem to have adopted him. As far as we can tell, no one can enter or leave. It can’t be coincidence.

“I believe the same person emptied the death realms and affected the Shadow Lands, or is working with someone equally as powerful. Émilien said whoever held him claimed that Émilien's path is connected to one who is life to him and the search for Émilien's brother and sister-in-law couldn’t continue. The one holding them is too powerful. But the who and why are still a complete mystery. The only thing I’ve learned is that Émilien is in trouble and Fer-Diorich is a jackass.”

Macha laughed. “Well said, Hel. Well said.” She nudged her sister. “She would make a fine addition to our team.”

Morrigan rolled her eyes, but Hel caught the barest hint of humor flashedacross her beautiful face. “Trinity means three, not four.”

“We could make an exception?”

Hel wasn’t sure what to make of the sisters’ light bantering. While she and Fenrir were loving to one another, they did not usually share amusement. Their conversations tended to be of a more serious nature. Everything in her life was life or death...literally. “While I’m flattered, I’m needed back home. I’m afraid Baldr can only do so much in my absence. Even though he’s a god, he technicallyisdead, so his powers are limited until the next Ragnarök.”

Macha’s blank expression was almost comical. “What exactly do you do in your pantheon?”

Hel smiled. “I am the ruler of Niflheimr and the queen of Helheimr, the land of the dead.”

The Celtic goddess’s elegant black brows rose. “Impressive title. And the Shadow Lands are included in that realm, I suppose?”

Hel nodded. “It is.”

“Do you, by chance, know Arawn?”

“I do. As a matter of fact, I just met with him, Hades, and Osiris. Like Morrigan just mentioned, their realms have also been affected. Why?”

Macha’s gaze dropped to the table, where one long black, white, and red Harlequin-painted fingernail flipped a crumb back and forth. “No reason. I just wondered if you knew other death rulers. It seems the universe is much smaller than I thought.”

Hel met Morrigan’s amused gaze but swallowed the multitude of questions she had for the war goddess. From Morrigan’s reaction, Hel knew her first thought was the right one. Macha’s interest in Arawn was more than just casual. Maybe she’d mention it to him when they reconvened the conclave.

“Fer-Diorich also mentioned someone whose name begins with J being important to all of this.” Her gaze met Morrigan’s. “It’s a long shot, but Émilien's sister-in-law is named Jessica.”

“Nothing in our world is ever coincidence,” Morrigan answered.

“Morrigan! Macha! Where are you two?” A distant feminine voice called out with a mixture of anxiety and annoyance in her tone.

“Nemain,” Macha answered Hel’s unspoken question. “We’re in the clearing,” she hollered to her sister.

Hel twisted in her chair in time to see an equally beautiful woman hurrying toward them, dodging the thick pine trunks with the grace of a dancer, the sky-blue material of her gown whirling around her like a fan.

Like Morrigan, the woman’s hair was long and black. Tiny braids draped from her temple, secured in a topknot, which she held in place with a pair of silver sticks that matched the rope around her hips, accentuating her slenderness. Standing between Morrigan and Macha, her resemblance to them was uncanny. The only real difference between the three was their eye color. Morrigan’s were blue, Macha’s green, and Nemain’s were a beautiful teal.

Tilting her head to one side, she studied the trio. “At first, I thought you looked like each other, but now that you’re side by side, I realize you don’t. I mean, you resemble one another and often have the same expressions, but overall, you each are very different.”

Nemain smiled with a single nod. “Very true. While we are triplets, we are definitely individuals. Now, I have news you need to hear. Fer-Diorich has sent the wolf to Wewelsburg, Germany. I discovered there is a Renaissance castle there that a man, Himmler, I believe he was called, uses as a training school for soldiers.”

Hel straightened. “It’s more than just a school. Himmler is a devout occultist and practices dark magic. I remember Freyja and Idunn discussing the Nazi. He is an odious bigot who helped mastermind the Nazi death camps, putting millions of poor people to death for absolutely no other reason than their religion or biological things they can’t even control. Freyja said the war is over, though, so why would he send Émilien there?”

Morrigan met first Macha’s worried gaze then looked up at Nemain before turning her gaze back to Hel. “While the war is over on Midgard, the history is ever present to all pantheons, so if Fer-Diorich wanted to send someone back in time to effect a change, he could. Providing, of course, he had access to a God’s Glass.”

Hel raised one eyebrow. “Well, he traveled back in time to meet us in the cave where Émilien was cursed, and if Émilien is back in Germany during the war, then Fer-Diorich has access to something, now doesn’t he?”


“Here, you may need this to get inside.” Fer-Diorich held out a forest green cape, which Émilien reluctantly took. “Oh, and these. Have to hide those massive paws of yours. One glance and you will be discovered, destroying all my plans.”

“Poor you,” Émilien grumbled, grabbing the leather gloves. He put on the cape and raised the oversized hood, concealing his head. The excessive amount of material slid far enough down, it hid his long snout, which surprised even him. He then tugged on the gloves, the kid leather stretching over his thick fingers.

Glancing at the tips, there were layers of leather over each end, thick enough his claws didn’t slice through...yet. He hadn’t found anything to date that withstood the sharpness of his claws. Both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in battle, allowing him to slice through his opponents’ protective garments as if they were made of silk. They were a curse because no matter how delicate he was, something was always getting punctured or torn.

He met the Fae’s dark gaze. “You know, if these last, I’m keeping them.”

Tags: Heidi Vanlandingham Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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