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Carl drummed his fingers on the desk while he listened to his second, Steven, whine.
“Tell me again why I’m listening to you rather than talking to Natalia?”
“She said she had a personal issue to sort out and let three days ago. Her note said—”
“Her note? You didn’t mention a note before. You said she told you she had something to see to. When was she last seen? What was missing from her things?”
Steven started stuttering. “Well…um…I didn’t actually see the note myself. I heard what it said from Oscar who heard it from Ferrick, but no one can find him anywhere to ask him directly. His mother says he often disappears for a few days when the feeling takes him.”
“What!” Carl’s roar echoed around the small room making Tristan look up from what he was working on at a nearby desk. He took a long calming breath and interrupted Steven’s panicked “Start from the beginning. When was she last seen? Who was the last to see her? And why was I not informed immediately?”
“Yes, Elder. I saw her three days ago, he had some concerns over the behavior of some of the vamplings that are visiting from another clan. If anyone else saw her after that, they haven’t said so. The next night I went to speak to her again and Oscar met me on the path and told she was gone. He said he’d seen Ferrick angry and upset. He’d asked what was wrong and Ferrick told him Natalia had gone to sort out a personal problem. As I’ve already said, when we went looking for Ferrick he couldn’t be found.”
“Get search parties put together. No one is to go anywhere alone and everyone is to check in with a designated checking group at least twice a day. If anyone misses a check-in presume they have been taken and start a search for them.”
“Make sure those rules stay in effect until I tell you otherwise. The fate of the clan may rest on it.”
Carl hung up and dropped his head to the desk. He smiled when he felt hands in his hair massaging his aching head.
He held out the phone. “Your turn, my mate.”
Tristan took the phone and dialed while letting out a long sigh. “You know they won’t believe a word I say and will ignore any advice I give.”
Carl waved a hand to tell him to get on with it and listened in as the line started to ring.
“Father, this is Tristan. I have some information about a danger to the family.”
A snort came through the line. “How could you come by any information that I would want to hear? I am not interested in rumors you’ve heard in some back street inn or from one of the men you’ve hired for the night.”
Carl made a move for the phone but Tristan moved out the way. “Father, I need you to listen. You’ll be hearing from the high council as well, but I wanted to warn you myself too. Someone is kidnapping seers and mates of powerful beings. The seers’ power is being used to discover the outcomes of battles and the movements of enemies. The kidnapped mates are being used to blackmail powerful beings into doing the kidnapper’s bidding. You need to protect—”
“Do not try and tell me what I need to do,” Tristan’s father’s voice sneered. “I do not take orders from some talentless child.”
That was the last straw. Carl snatched the phone and snarled at the being on the other end. “Be glad I am not in the same room as you are at this moment, Kersin Nirthfell. If I was I would rip out your throat and bath in your blood for insulting my mate like that.”
“Who is this? Do you realize who you are speaking to?”
Carl rolled his eyes. “I called you by name and you ask if I know who I’m speaking to? The question is do you know who you are speaking to? I am Elder Carl of the Jade Coven. I am also proud to claim Tristan Nirthfell as my claimed fated mate. Now, we will talk about your lack on manners another time. At the moment I have more pressing matters. The information your son gave you is correct. You need to make sure everyone in your family is accounted for and that no one goes anywhere alone. Keep up regular checks. The high council will be in contact soon with more information but for some reason your son thought you would be better for having the basics immediately.
“Now, you’re going to apologize to your son and thank him. If you don’t not only will you be making an enemy of a very powerful coven, you will also be losing the most powerful mage your family has seen in generations.”
“That boy isn’t talented. He barely registered a level two. And I will no more obey some jumped up vampire—elder or no—than I will apologize to that excuse of a son. Since you claim him as a mate he can join your coven. As of this moment, Tristan Nirthfell is no longer a member of the Nirthfell family. Goodbye.”
The phone went dead and Carl grabbed Tristan as tears began to fall and he nearly fell out of his chair and into Carl’s arms.
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