Again, just apologising for the delay in posting new chapters due to replacing old ones with HTML conversions.
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This piece of fiction contains supernatural themes and eventually sexual interactions between consenting male adults.   Please do not read this if it is illegal where you are, or you are not of age to do so.
All characters are fictional and any similarities to known actual people are coincidental, unless otherwise specified.
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Lachlan - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Thursday evening, the night before they were to head to the Sanctuary, Alex, Quinn and Mikhail were lounging on the sofas in Alex’s apartment, Alex sitting, Quinn lying with his head in the Italian’s lap, Mikhail sprawled across the red sofa.   ‘Sì Mamma.’ Forty minutes later, the Q7 pulled off of the interstate and made its way slowly toward the township ahead of them.   Alex carefully parked the car outside a café.   The car had barely come to a stop as Mikhail flung the door open and fell out, his legs having gone to sleep on him.   Alex laughed as he reached over and gently shook Quinn awake.   An hour and a half later, the Q7 had turned off the main road, just after the large boulder Jaden had described.   All three occupants in the car commented on how peculiar the boulder was.   ‘It’s so beautiful here.’ Quinn said standing on the small deck out the back of their cabin, looking across the lush field to the nearby forest.   ‘Everyone, please make welcome our guests, Alex, Quinn and Mikhail.’ Lachlan said standing in front of everyone.   ‘They will be with us for a few weeks, so do your best to help them out should they need it.’ He said with a smile.   ‘But, for the time being, let’s eat.’ He said loudly, indicating the long table of food behind him.   People started moving toward the table when suddenly there was a break in the crowd.   People were turning to look at the three guests expectantly.   Lachlan, who was standing near the food tables, gestured for them to come forward.   They walked as quickly as they could, their faces blushing slightly.   After everyone had finished eating, their plates and cutlery taken into one of the buildings to be cleaned, Lachlan stood in front of everyone again.   Alex woke just before sunrise.   He had had the dream again.   He had seen himself standing in a field, clutching at his chest.   Then he collapsed and someone was holding his head, crying.   As the perspective of the dream changed, he looked down into his own face and was jolted awake when he saw the intense green eyes.   In the few moments it took him to understand why he was awake, the memory of the dream vanished, erasing all details with it.   ‘He’ll be back tomorrow morning, hopefully for a longer period of time.’ The Leader said to the red headed twin.   ‘You’re doing really well Alex.’ The blond twin said with an encouraging smile.   The Italian was lying on the ground trying to catch his breath after a particularly rigorous mock battle with the twin.   They had been practicing for most of the day, Lachlan occasionally contributing or assisting Caiden.
‘Feel better?’ Lachlan asked as Mikhail came out of the Leader’s private cabin with a smile on his face.
‘Have you packed enough clothes for our stay?’ The Italian asked to anyone who was listening.
‘I’ve got plenty.   I’m just glad we’re taking the Q7.’ Quinn said with a guilty grin.   ‘I have four bags.’ He laughed when Alex and Mikhail both looked at him with surprise.
‘I packed one bag!’ Mikhail laughed.
‘I packed two, but they’re huge.’ Alex added.
‘I have a lot of clothes and shoes.’ Quinn confessed with a blush.   The Italian and the Russian both laughed.
‘It’s alright.’ Alex laughed.   ‘We’ll be there for three weeks.’
‘That’s quite a while.’ Quinn said looking at Mikhail.   ‘Have you told Fabrizio?’ He asked.
‘Yeah.’ The Russian said with a small smile.   ‘I told him, if I can, I’ll call or message him whenever possible.’ He continued holding his smart phone up.   Alex and Quinn both smiled.
‘I guess I’m just lucky that my love is coming with us.’ Alex said resting his hand on Quinn’s chest, his thumb gently circling the patch of shirt covered skin where his scar was.   Mikhail looked over and smiled at his friends.   ‘And Michelle was fine with me taking a sabbatical.   Things are pretty slow at work anyway.’
‘We should probably get to bed.’ Quinn said looking at the time.
‘Mmm, good idea.’ Alex said stretching.   ‘You all good Mickey?’ He asked as he stood up, Quinn following suit.
‘Yeah.   I’ll head to bed shortly.’ The Russian said grabbing his phone and a cigarette.   ‘Just gonna have a chat with Fabz.’
‘No worries.’ Alex said smiling.   ‘Night big guy.’
‘Night Rasputin.’ Quinn said following his boyfriend.
‘Night you two.’ Mikhail said stepping out onto the deck.   He lit his cigarette and pressed a few buttons on his phone, putting it to his ear.
‘He’s quite smitten with your cousin.’ Quinn said following Alex into the bedroom.
‘Yeah.   It’s great to see Mickey with a proper smile on his face.’ Alex said closing the door and heading to the bed.   He pulled the duvet and sheet down, stripped his clothes and threw them at his hamper and climbed into bed.   Within seconds, Quinn was lying next to him.   ‘I can’t wait until Fabz and Georgie get here.’
‘Neither can I, they’re such great guys.’ Quinn said as he laid his head on the Italians shoulder, wrapped an arm over the muscular chest and tucked his hand in Alex’s armpit.
‘You looking forward to this?’ Alex asked after a few minutes, thinking about their trip tomorrow.
‘Yes.’ Quinn said nodding.   ‘I’m looking forward to learning more from Caiden.’
‘I’m looking forward to being able to use these powers, properly.’ Alex laughed.
‘Ah, my mighty warrior.’ Quinn said with humour.   Alex squeezed the blond gently and kissed the top of his head.
‘Sleep, my fair maiden!’ Alex declared loudly with a laugh.
‘Yes prince charming.’ The blond feigned with a princess voice.   Both men laughed at their joke.
‘You be safe piccolo.’
‘We’ll be fine.’
‘Okay, call me if you need anything.’
‘Alright… Love you Mamma.’ Alex pressed the disconnect button on his phone, which was sitting in the hands-free cradle.
‘She’s sounding good.’ Mikhail said from the back seat, having heard the conversation.
‘Yeah, Sarah and Aradia will be there shortly.   They’ll look after her.’ Alex said smiling to his friend in the rear view mirror.
‘Is it much longer?’ Mikhail said, shifting his weight slightly in the seat.
‘I think Deep River is maybe half an hour away.’ Alex said squinting into the distance, as if he could see their turn off.   The sun was high in the sky, bathing the open road in light and heat, while they were seated in the comfortably air conditioned Audi.
‘How can that one sleep?’ Mikhail asked looking at Quinn, who was curled against the passenger window, head on pillow, snoring quietly.
‘Don’t know big guy.’ Alex said looking over and smiling at his beloved.   ‘Oh there we go.’ Alex said looking to the road and seeing a sign.   ‘It’s forty kilometres to Deep River.’ Mikhail smiled from the back seat.
‘Can we stop there for a few minutes?’ The Russian asked, shifting his weight again.
‘You all good back there big guy?’ Alex asked watching Mikhail trying to get comfortable.
‘My butt has gone to sleep and my legs are going numb.’ He said, trying to rub feeling back into his legs.
‘Alright, we’ll stop once we get there.   I could do with a coffee.’ Alex said focusing on the road.
‘Babe, wake up.’ Alex said gently.   ‘Would you like a coffee?’ He asked when
Quinn’s eyes flickered open.
‘Are we there already?’ Quinn asked slightly confused.
‘Not yet.   We’re in Deep River, stopping for a coffee break.’ Alex clarified.
‘Oh yay.’ Quinn said shaking his head and waking up properly.   He climbed out of the car and found Mikhail still lying on the ground, where his legs had failed him.
‘His legs are asleep.’ Alex laughed coming around the car and standing beside Quinn.
‘Need a hand big guy?’ He asked.
‘Nah, just leave me here for a bit.’ Mikhail said rolling over and trying to stretch his legs.   Alex and Quinn laughed for a bit as they headed for the café.   ‘I’ll have a long black thank you.’ He called after them.
‘And a coffee after that?’ Quinn called back over his shoulder.   Mikhail guffawed loudly.
Alex and Quinn came out of the café with three coffees and found Mikhail sitting up on the grass verge.
‘Feeling better?’ Quinn asked handing a coffee to Mikhail.   The Russian stood up and took the drink from the blond.
‘Much better!’ Mikhail said taking a mouthful of hot coffee.
‘The lady in the shop said we should go down there if we have a minute.   She says we should see the reason this town is called Deep River.’ Alex said pointing to a pathway a few hundred yards away from where they were.
After a five minute walk along the path, through some beautiful greenery, they came to a look out.   Fifty meters down, they saw precisely why this town was called Deep River.   A beautiful blue river, roughly one hundred meters across, flowed through the landscape behind them, heading in a westerly direction.   Alex turned to read a sign that was posted next to the lookout.
‘It says here that in some parts, the river is over four hundred meters deep.’ He read aloud.
‘That’s kind of terrifying.’ Quinn said shivering slightly out of fear.
‘It certainly looks deep.   You can only see black in some parts.’ Mikhail said squinting at the river.
‘I think I’ll just enjoy the view from safety while we’re here.’ Quinn said backing up slightly.
‘Well, shall we get going?’ Alex said finishing his coffee and tossing his paper cup into a nearby rubbish bin.   Quinn’s cup followed quickly behind Alex’s, as did Mikhail’s.
‘I need a piss first.’ The Russian said grabbing his crotch.
‘I think there’s a public toilet back near the café.’ Alex said, already heading back to the car.
‘It’s almost like its growing out of the ground.’ Quinn said when he saw it.
‘It’s pretty weird, I have to admit.’ Alex had replied.
Further down the gravel road, where the trees had grown over the road in a dense canopy, the Q7 plowed along at a slow speed until they came to a rather odd scene just ahead.
‘The road stops.’ Quinn said looking at the bizarre wall of leaves.   Ahead of them, where the gravel road actually stopped, becoming grass, was a screen of leaves, cascading from two ancient willow trees about twenty feet from where the gravel road stopped.   Alex climbed out of the Q7, quickly followed by Quinn and Mikhail.   He walked toward the screen and as he got closer, he could see faint spots of sunlight through the leaves.
‘Wait, you can see through it.’ He said standing in front of it, pushing his hand through the foliage.   Scooping a handful of the long leaves in his hand, he pulled them aside.   Using his other hand, he pulled back the next arm load of leaves, releasing his previous load to Quinn who was standing behind him.   As Alex reached through the remaining leaves, he pulled them back.   They could see that the road continued on the other side, about twenty feet ahead.   Alex looked at Quinn and smiled brightly.
‘Come on.’ Alex said making his way back to the car and climbing in.   Mikhail and Quinn were right behind him.   He started the engine and moved forward slowly, driving over the grass, headed right for the natural screen.   Quinn and Mikhail held their breath as Alex smiled like a child in a candy shop.
The car passed with ease through the thick screen, the tendrils of leaves moving over and aside of the car as it moved forward.   A moment of darkness and suddenly they were through, and on the continued gravel road.   What they didn’t notice was the car coughing slightly, as if it were stalling, and all electronic devices in the car, including their phones, spluttered slightly, as if encountering an electro-magnetic field.   Having not noticed this anomaly, they continued onward.
‘Oh look.’ Quinn said spotting buildings ahead.   ‘It’s like a village of some sort.’ Alex and Mikhail both looked ahead and noticed several small buildings clustered around the road ahead.   Alex noticed a few cars parked to the side and headed for what he assumed was the car park.   As the car came to a stop, and the three men began to climb out, several people came toward them, smiling and waving.   The three of them spotted Jaden in the midst of them.
‘You made it!’ He said smiling to the trio.   ‘Welcome to the Sanctuary.’ He said waving his hand majestically to their surroundings.   All three men looked around and were mildly surprised at what they saw.   There were about two dozen buildings, some as small as a garden shed, and some that looked like large three bedroom houses.   They were all relatively modern looking buildings, some with glass walls, some that were two levels, and one that looked like an out-house, which made Quinn giggle.   There were rows upon rows of vegetables in a section tucked in behind several of the buildings and in the distance the visitors could see live stock in the fields.
‘Everyone will introduce themselves to you as they see you, but for now, let me show you to where you will be staying while you’re here.’ Jaden said.   Alex turned back to the car to get his luggage when Jaden said, ‘Leave it for now.   Come back later and you can move your car closer.’
The three men followed Jaden who walked at an easy pace through the settlement.   People were everywhere, some playing, some carrying out some activity, others just sitting together and talking, all looked at the group as they walked past.   Some smiled, some waved, and others inclined their heads.   Eventually Jaden walked up to a medium sized building.
‘This is where you guys will be staying.   There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and a living room.’ He said opening the door and leading the three men inside.   Alex, Quinn and Mikhail were staggered when they saw inside the cabin.   It was beautifully decorated, wooden furniture covered with plush cushions, polished wooden floors and the occasional thick rug on the floor.   Mikhail disappeared into one of the bedrooms and came back out blushing.
‘That’s your bedroom.’ He said jerking his thumb over his shoulder.   He vanished into another bedroom further inside the building.   Alex and Quinn walked into the bedroom that Mikhail had indicated and both of them blushed.   Someone had decorated the room with hundreds and hundreds of beautiful flowers on every surface.   There were red rose petals splashed everywhere.   It was rather over the top.   Jaden stepped in behind them and snorted with amusement.
‘I’m sorry.’ He said laughing.   ‘We told some of the children that a couple would be staying in here.   I guess they got a bit crazy with the decorations.’ He waved a hand and Alex and Quinn watched in marvel as three quarters of the flowers and rose petals all rose and flew out the window, presumably off into the nearby forest.   With the majority of the flowers removed, it looked much more tolerable and both men smiled their thanks.
‘Feel free to move your car closer to here if you want, and make yourselves comfortable.   I’m just going to go find Caiden and let him know you’re here.’ The red head said with a smile.   Alex gave Quinn a hug and told him he’d be right back.   He dashed out of the building and walked back to the car at a quick pace.   Mikhail came into the room and giggled.
‘I like the redecorations you’ve done.’ He said smiling at Quinn.
‘Yeah, Jaden moved them to your room.’ The blond said with a cunning smile.   Mikhail blanched and vanished out of the room, leaving Quinn in the midst of a laughing fit.
‘It is.’ Alex said stepping behind the blond and wrapping his arms around him tenderly.   They stood a few moments looking into the distant forest where many a noise was coming from.   They heard the bellow of an elk, the growl of a bear and a cacophony of bird calls.   It was truly magnificent.
‘It’s so lovely out here.’ Mikhail said stepping out of the cabin.
‘Yeah.’ The Italian and Canadian said together, still gazing into the distance.   After a few minutes, a knock sounded at the front door of their private cabin.   Alex dashed inside and walked to the front door quickly.   He pulled the door open and saw the blond twin smiling at him.
‘I’m glad you all made it safely.’ He said, his eyes actually focusing on Alex.   Alex returned the smile.
‘Would you like to come in?’ Alex asked standing back slightly.
‘Actually, I was wondering if all three of you would like to come for a walk with me.’ Caiden asked not moving.
‘Sure.’ Alex said smiling.   ‘Hey guys, let’s go for a walk.’ He called over his shoulder.   He heard the sliding door close and the footsteps of Mikhail and Quinn heading to the front of the cabin.
‘Hi Caiden.’ Quinn said skipping past his boyfriend and hugging the twin.   Caiden smiled in surprise at the friendly act.
‘It’s good to see you.’ Caiden said releasing Quinn and smiling at the Russian giant.
‘Hey squirt.’ Mikhail said stepping through the door.   The blond twin blushed profusely and smiled to the Russian.
‘Welcome.’ Caiden said with a wink that made Mikhail flush with heat.   ‘Come, there’s a couple people I want to introduce you to.’ The twin said turning and walking toward a group of buildings.   He led the three men between a few of the buildings and then they followed a path toward a forest on the other side of the establishment.   They stepped through the thick brush, following the path as it narrowed slightly, Mikhail actually snapping a few branches as he brushed past them.
‘Sorry.’ Caiden said from the front, upon hearing the demolition Mikhail was causing.   Barely fifty feet into the forest, they spilled out into a clearing about seventy feet in diameter.   On the opposite side of the clearing were several tree stumps that had been carved into seats, in a rough semi-circle.   Sitting upon these seats were three men, one of which they recognized.   They all stood as soon as the new arrivals approached.
‘Alex, Quinn, Mikhail,’ Caiden began, indicating each person as he said their name, ‘this is our father, Grayson.’ A man with clear green eyes, short gray hair and a handsome, if not wrinkled face, stepped forward and shook hands with all three young gentlemen.
‘A pleasure to meet you all, and welcome.’ He said with a deep, clear voice.   Alex smiled warmly to the older man.
‘Thank you for having us.’ He said with genuine thanks.
‘You all know Jaden, obviously.’ The blond twin said with a smirk and indicated the third person of the group.   Alex, Quinn and Mikhail all looked to this person who had just stepped forward.   They were immediately fascinated with him.   He was roughly Quinn’s height and was thin, and flatly muscled.   His hair was as black as night and sat across his forehead swept to the side.   It was like Alex’s, except longer.   His skin was exactly halfway between Alex and Quinn’s skin tones, slightly tanned, but still quite fair.   When he looked at the three newcomers, they were hypnotized by the piercing quality of his eyes, the glacier blue penetrating them, as if he could see their souls.
‘Not quite your soul, at least.’ He said with a smile, as he heard what they were thinking.
‘This is Lachlan, the Child of Light.’ Caiden said with a slight bow.
‘Cade, honestly, stop bowing to me.’ The third person said exasperatedly, rolling his eyes dramatically.   ‘Honestly.’ He said with a laugh, reaching out and shaking hands with the Italian, Canadian and Russian.   ‘I hope you had a safe trip here.’ He said with a smile.
‘It was okay.’ Mikhail said still feeling weak in the legs.   Lachlan smiled at the Russian in amusement.
‘Well, I’m glad you’re all here and I look forward to getting to know you all better.’ He said with a genuinely warm smile.   He looked up into the sky for a moment, the six men with him doing the same thing, trying to see what he was seeing.   ‘Dinner will be served in an hour.’ He said looking back at the people in front of him.   ‘Cade, why don’t you show them around? I have a few things I need to take care of.’ Lachlan said with a nod to the three newcomers.   ‘I’ll see you all at dinner.’ He said smiling and then nodded farewell to the twins.   Grayson, the twin’s father, followed Lachlan.   ‘So, ah, who is he again?’ Alex asked watching the fascinating man walk into the trees.
‘Easiest way to put it is he is the leader of us all.’ Jaden said turning back to face Alex as he too had watched Lachlan and his father leave the Circle.
‘I thought we were the leaders?’ Alex asked indicating himself and the twins.
‘We are the triumvirate, yes, but, Lachlan is our leader.’ The red head said with a sardonic smile.
‘So we don’t necessarily rule?’ Alex asked trying to understand how this worked.
‘Not quite.   We are rulers of our people.   But Lachlan is our leader.   It’s rather difficult to explain, but let me say this to you now.’ Jaden said as his eyes darkened slightly.   ‘He is what he is, because there is no-one stronger or more powerful than him.’ Alex, Quinn and Mikhail all looked slightly scared.
‘Even the three of us combined,’ Caiden began, ‘would be no match for him.   His powers are innumerous, absolute and quite frankly, devastating.’
‘Shit.’ Quinn said looking off to the path where this powerful person had just vanished.
‘Just to scare you a bit more, he is a few millennia old.’ Jaden said with a wicked smile.
‘The fuck?’ Alex exclaimed.   ‘A few millennia old?’ He asked for clarification.   Jaden nodded sagely.
‘Bullshit.’ Alex said at the same time Mikhail said ‘Fuck off!’ The twins chuckled at them.
‘Ask him when you next see him.’ Jaden said with a smile.   ‘For the time being, let’s go get ready for dinner.’ He added, turning on the spot and leading them out of the forest.
‘As our guests, you are expected to eat first.’ He said quietly to the three of them handing them each a plate and waving a hand at the table of food.   ‘Take a little of everything that you want.’
Alex, Quinn and Mikhail all walked up one side of the table, taking a little bit of food from several plates before reaching the end and taking a knife and fork.   Lachlan and the twins had followed behind them collecting their own plate of food and soon there was a tidy line of people taking their own selections.   The newcomers stood and waited for the twins and Lachlan, unsure where to sit and eat.
‘Come sit with us.’ Caiden said smiling, gesturing with his chin to follow Lachlan, who was walking toward a large blanket thrown on the grass twenty feet from a large bonfire.   The Child of Light sat down cross legged on the edge of the blanket and waited as the five people following him had all taken a seat.
‘Dig in guys.’ He said with a smile as he too began to eat his food.
‘So, can I ask a possibly rude question?’ Mikhail asked after a few minutes of silence, looking to Lachlan.
‘I dare say you’ll find you can.’ He responded with a wink.
‘These two said you were a few millennia old.   Are you really that old?’ The Russian asked quietly.   Lachlan gasped dramatically and Mikhail thought he had offended him.
‘Do I really look that old?’ Lachlan asked with a sad face.
‘No, no! Not at all!’ Mikhail said flustered by the insult he had unknowingly cast.   ‘He’s fucking with you Rasputin.’ The red head said with a devilish smile.   Mikhail, Alex and Quinn all burst out laughing when they saw the smile on Lachlan’s face.
‘Sorry.   I couldn’t resist.’ He said laughing.   Mikhail was bright red from embarrassment.   ‘The simple answer to your question is no, not in the sense you are thinking.   My powers, or abilities, are millennia old.   They are passed down from person to person, much like Alex’s powers were.   The difference with mine is they get stronger with every passing.   Each person adds to the pool of powers and knowledge.’ Lachlan answered politely.
‘Are yours passed down the same way mine were given to me, through that blood ritual?’ Alex enquired.
‘No.   I never quite understood the Order’s reasons for spilling blood.   The passing of my powers is much less, barbaric.’ Lachlan said with a smile.   Alex blushed with embarrassment.
‘And why is this place,’ Quinn began, gesturing to their surroundings, ‘so um, well…’
‘Primitive?’ Lachlan finished for the stammering blond, with a warm smile.   ‘I recall many centuries ago, thanks to the passage of my powers, our people living within a community, much like this.’ He said gesturing to the people spread out all around him.   ‘I like the Sanctuary this way.’
‘It’s very welcoming.’ Quinn smiled warmly.
‘I’m glad you like it here.’ Lachlan said with a smile that rivalled the Canadian’s in brightness.   Even Quinn thought so.
‘Thank you to those who prepared our beautiful dinner tonight.’ He said clapping his hands, everyone joined him in applause.   ‘Now, I suggest we all get a good night’s sleep and I will see you all in the morning.   Good night!’ He called out to everyone.   Everyone responded in their own way.   The twins led Alex, Quinn and Mikhail back to their private cabin.
‘See you guys in the morning.’ They said in unison as Alex followed his boyfriend and the Russian inside.   He turned back quickly.
‘Hey guys, do we have to be up and about by any specific time?’ He asked of the twins.
‘Whatever time your body decides to wake up is when you should be awake.’ Caiden said with a smile.
‘Oh, okay.   So, we’re not expected to be up by a specific time? Lachlan won’t get shitty with us?’ The twins laughed at this.
‘Of course not.’ The red head said, still chuckling.   ‘Just come find us when you’re ready.’ He said turning away.
‘Night.’ Caiden said following his brother into the shadows.
‘Night guys.’ Alex said stepping inside and closing the door.
Quinn’s head was resting on his shoulder, his arm wrapped around his chest, as he always slept.   The Italian wondered how they managed to go to sleep in that position, and wake up eight hours later, in the exact same position.   Shaking his head at the thought, he climbed out from under his lover carefully, and put on a pair of shorts, t-shirt and runners, and headed out of the cabin.   He started jogging toward the driveway that lead back to the main road and noticed that he was the only person moving around in the pre-dawn darkness.   He followed the path and jogged through the veil of willow branches.   Once he got through the veil, he stopped and did a few stretches and then began a proper run, heading for the main road.   After a half hour he reached the main road and turned back toward the township of Deep River.   After running in that direction for a half hour, he turned around and ran back to The Sanctuary.
As he came through the veil of willow branches at a jog, he saw two figures ahead of him.   One turned away from the other and headed toward the Italian and as the gap closed, Alex saw a man of equal height to himself, what looked like an amazingly taut and flatly muscled body, dark hair, intense, green eyes, an olive complexion and a beautiful smile.   Alex returned the smile and continued jogging as the person walked toward the veil.   As Alex drew closer to the second person, he recognized Lachlan from behind.
‘Good morning Alex.’ The Child of Light said as Alex got to within a few feet of him.
‘How did you know…?’ Alex started, but stopped as soon as he realized who he was talking to.   Lachlan turned to him and smiled warmly.
‘Good run?’ He asked looking back toward the Sanctuary, walking slowly.
‘Yeah, it’s so peaceful out here.’ The Italian said looking Lachlan over in his peripheral vision.   He was perhaps an inch shorter than Quinn, and his hair looked exactly like the Italian’s would in several weeks.   His profile was angular and sharp, his nose was quite long and straight, his chin amazingly strong, and his eyes in the early morning light were nearly white.   He was a very striking person to look at.
‘Thank you.’ Lachlan said with a wink.   Alex blushed with embarrassment.
‘No need to be bashful around me Alex.’ He added with that amazingly warm smile.   It put the Italian at ease instantly.
‘Who was that?’ Alex asked looking back toward the entrance and saw the person vanish behind the veil of branches.   The Italian was sure he recognized him.
‘His name is Rama.’ Lachlan said, his eyes glazing over slightly.
‘Oh.’ Alex said, wondering if he was going to say more.   Lachlan sighed quietly.
‘He is my husband, though at the moment he seems to have become my self-appointed guardian.’ Lachlan said with misted eyes.   ‘He came by last night to tell me something and now he is off to take care of something.’
‘Are you okay Lachlan?’ Alex asked stopping and turning to his leader.   He couldn’t help but notice the vagueness and misdirection of the words.   Lachlan stopped as well and turned to Alex, his eyes focusing slowly on the Italian’s face.   He swallowed twice before speaking.
‘I’m okay for now.’ He admitted.   Alex noticed a flash of emotion flicker across his eyes.   ‘Some bad news, but nothing that can’t be dealt with.’ He said with a small smile.   Alex didn’t know why, but he wanted to give Lachlan a hug.   He reached out and gently took the man’s shoulder in his hand and squeezed it gently.
‘Thank you.’ Lachlan said warmly.   ‘That means a lot.’
‘I don’t like seeing people sad.’ The Italian said with his signature smile, eliciting a radiant smile from Lachlan.   ‘Did you want to talk about the bad news?’ He added as an afterthought.
‘Another time perhaps.’ Lachlan said as his smile faltered slightly.   ‘For now, we have more important things to discuss.’ Alex nodded politely and they both turned back to the buildings, walking slowly together.
‘Breakfast will be served in thirty minutes, if you want to wake your companions.’ Lachlan said gesturing to one of the buildings near the clearing they were dining in last night.
‘Actually, I believe Quinn is already awake and looking for you.’ He said looking ahead of them.   ‘There.’ Lachlan said gesturing with his chin to a figure walking along the path towards the clearing.
‘Quinn!’ Alex called loudly to the figure.   It stopped and turned in his direction and walked a little faster, meeting them in seconds.
‘Morning.’ He said to Alex, who leaned down and kissed his boyfriend tenderly.
‘Morning babe.’ The Italian said stroking his lover’s cheek with his thumb.
‘Good morning Lachlan.’ The blond said with a smile.
‘And to you.’ The Leader said with a bow of the head.   ‘Did you sleep well?’
‘Like never before.’ The Canadian said with a laugh.   ‘It’s so peaceful and calm out here.’
‘It really is.’ Alex agreed.
‘I come here most weekends to escape the noises of the bigger cities.’ Lachlan said with a smirk.
‘Where did you get off to?’ Quinn asked falling into step with the two men.
‘Just went for a run.’ Alex said putting an arm around his lover.   Quinn turned to look at Lachlan, who was on the other side of his boyfriend, and ask a question, but he caught a whiff of Alex’s sweaty armpit.
‘Jesus it smells like you’ve been running for three days.’ The blond said coughing.   Alex turned a brilliant shade of red and pulled his arm away and back to his side, as Lachlan snorted in amusement.
‘Were you out running as well?’ Quinn asked looking to Lachlan who was still grinning.
‘No.   I was just seeing someone off when this one came across my path.’ The leader said with a chuckle, pointing to the still very red Italian.
‘I think I’m going to have a shower.’ Alex said with embarrassment.
‘And there is something I need to take care of.’ Lachlan said with a smile to the Canadian and Italian.   ‘Come see me after breakfast.’ He said turning and walking off to the buildings.
‘Can I join you in the shower?’ Quinn asked with a smile.
‘Anytime babe.   Anytime.’ Alex said taking his boyfriends hand and jogging to their cabin.
‘I’ll tell him he needs to stay this time.’ Jaden said with a wink.   ‘He needs a break.’
‘I keep telling him that, but do you think he’d listen to me?’ Lachlan asked with a sigh.
‘Lach, you can make him stop for a break.’ Jaden said conspiratorially.
‘You know I would never force anyone to do something they don’t want to do.’ The Leader said semi-seriously.
‘I know, but still…’ The red head said trailing off.
‘Hi guys.’ Alex said as he came within a few feet of the Leader and Jaden.
‘Good morning.’ Jaden said with a warm smile.   ‘Did you all sleep well?’
‘Absolutely.’ Alex said returning the smile.
‘Like a log.’ The cute little blond said blinding the Leader and the red head with his smile.   The Russian, who was hanging back slightly, just smiled.
‘Excellent.’ Jaden said rubbing his hands together.
‘Have you all had something to eat?’ Lachlan asked of the three men.   They all nodded positively.   ‘Fantastic.   Caiden will join us shortly in the Circle and we can begin our training.   If you’ll follow me.’ The Leader said turning around and walking at an easy pace to the clearing they were in yesterday when they met.
‘You never said what he was doing.’ Jaden continued from their previous conversation.
‘He’s trying to find the source of the rumour.’ The Leader said with a purposeful glance to the red head.   A few moments passed and recognition flew across Jaden’s face, quickly followed by anger.   The three men following knew that the Leader had communicated something telepathically.
‘He’s going to get himself killed!’ The twin said turning to face the Leader.   ‘Why didn’t you stop him?’ He asked loudly.   The three men following had stopped and watched the interchange quietly.
‘You know I wouldn’t ever stop anyone, let alone him, like that.’ Lachlan said sadly, looking at the ground.
‘Fuck sake Lach! Caiden and I will go and help him.’ The red head said turning away from the Leader and took a step toward the buildings.
‘JADEN!’ The Leader said, and the four men around him all winced at the volume.   Jaden stopped mid-step, like something had frozen him in the act of walking away.
‘Please stay for half an hour, and help me establish Alex’s training.   Then you and Daxa can go after him, okay?’ Jaden sighed, his shoulders dropping noticeably and he turned around.   Alex, Quinn and Mikhail were all still very quiet and watching with interest.
‘But…’ Jaden began, but his face suddenly became blank and his eyes unfocussed.
‘Oh, I see.’ The red head said as his eyes began to focus on the Leader.   ‘Of course.’ He nodded.   Lachlan turned back toward the forest and carried on walking, a large distance between himself and the four men.
‘Is everything okay?’ Alex asked quietly of the twin as they continued walking toward the clearing.
‘Yes.’ Jaden replied equally as quiet.   ‘His husband is doing something very dangerous at the moment.   Lachlan tried to stop him, but, you heard what he said.   He’s concerned for his safety, but believes your training is more important.’
‘Oh god, no.   Please, forget my training.   Please go and save his husband.   Now!’ Alex said stopping abruptly.   Jaden smiled and reached out to Alex’s hand and pulled him along to follow.
‘I’ll help you start, and Lachlan will take over.’ The red head said dragging Alex against his will, into the clearing.   Lachlan was standing in the middle of the circle, his arms extended out to his sides, his face pointed to the sky.   After a few seconds, he looked back down to the people who came within speaking distance.
‘I was just paying my respects.’ The Leader said with a warm smile.
‘Alright, let’s get this shit started.’ Jaden said walking to the opposite side of the clearing, beckoning Alex to follow him.
‘Quinn, Mikhail.   If you’ll come with me.’ The Leader said walking to the tree stump seats.   Alex and Quinn kissed each other tenderly and separated.
‘Now, I understand you’ve recently discovered you are a descendant of the Holy Strega.’ Lachlan said as the blond took a seat next to the Leader.
‘Yeah, my Nana is the head of the coven.’ Quinn said not entirely sure that was the proper term.
‘I understand what you mean.’ The Leader said with a smile.
‘I don’t really know anything about it.’ The blond confessed with a sad smile.
‘It’s a good thing we have someone here who does.’ Lachlan said with a smile, nodding in the direction of the path.   Quinn looked over and saw the twins’ father, Grayson, walking toward them, Caiden walking beside him.   The Canadian smiled warmly as they got closer.
‘Grayson is an expert on witch craft, wiccan, wizardry and the occult.’ The Leader said with a nod of respect to the older man.   Grayson smiled his thanks to the Leader.
‘He over exaggerates.’ The older man said with a wink to the Leader.
‘He will be helping you come to terms with your abilities and heritage.’ Lachlan said placing his hand on the blonds shoulder.
‘Let’s go find us a quiet corner and talk a bit.’ Grayson said gesturing for the Canadian to follow him.   They walked across the circle and sat near the farthest part of the clearing.
‘And as for you, Tank, I’m afraid our combat specialist is currently preoccupied.’ The Leader said.   Mikhail smiled at Lachlan.
‘That’s okay.   I didn’t realize you were going to train me.’ The Russian said with a slight blush.
‘You have a very important role to play in Alex’s life.   We can’t expect you to fulfill this role without sufficient training.’ The Leader said with a playful wink.   Mikhail blushed an amazing shade of red at the attention the Leader was paying him.
‘In the mean-time, Cade is more than happy for you to join himself and Alex in their training.’ He said deferring to the blond twin.
‘Yeah.   We need someone to throw some punches at.’ The twin said with a laugh that Mikhail found musical, considering Caiden barely seemed coherent most of the time.
‘I’ll join you all shortly.’ Lachlan said indicating for them to get to work.   He watched as the Russian giant and the small blond twin moved over to Jaden and Alex.
‘When you’re ready Daxa.’ The Leader communicated telepathically.
‘On my way Leader.’ Lachlan heard in reply.
The Leader sat and watched the two groups of people begin their training.   He noticed that Quinn and Grayson were still talking, which was probably the best way for the Canadian to understand.   He watched as the twins demonstrated their abilities in telekinetic combat, which Lachlan knew were mostly over-exaggerated for display purposes.   He watched as the blond twin pulled Alex to his side and demonstrated a particular maneuvere and clapped with enthusiasm as the Italian managed to perform it.
Barely twenty minutes passed and a person of equal stature to the twins, in fact, he looked almost identical to them, came walking briskly into the clearing, heading for the Leader.   Jaden excused himself and left his brother, the Italian and the Russian to their own devices.
‘Thank you Daxa.’ The Leader said bowing with respect.
‘Honestly, you should have told us about this earlier.’ The new comer said reaching out and pulling the Leader into a hug.   Lachlan smiled as he released him.
‘Right, where is he?’ Jaden said coming to stand beside the new comer.   Lachlan closed his eyes and inclined his head to the side, as if trying to hear something.
‘He’s in Jerusalem.   A southern district in the Old City.’ The Leader said opening his eyes and looking at Jaden.
‘Got him.’ The red head said with a confident smile.   He looked to the new comer and he too smiled.   ‘Wanna lead Dax?’
‘Nah, you got this little man.’ The new comer said with a laugh.   Jaden softly punched Daxa on the shoulder.
‘We’ll be back in…’ Jaden said as his eyes lost focus, ‘… seven hours.’ He finished.   Lachlan smiled warmly at the two of them.
‘Be safe, keep me informed.’ The Leader said hugging both men in turn.   They both headed for the path, comfortably close, as if siblings, and headed for the veil.   They were unable to use their teleportation abilities within the Sanctuary.
‘You’re much stronger than you think you are, and have incredible control for someone new to this.’
‘Do you… really think so?’ Alex said still huffing with exertion.
‘Absolutely.’ Lachlan said suddenly appearing beside the twin, a smile playing across his lips.   Alex got to his feet quickly.
‘So, how much have you learnt?’ The Leader asked of Alex.
‘Well, they’ve shown me how to use my telekinesis in harmony with my body, emphasizing a punch with it, that sort of stuff.’ The Italian said, still short of breath.
‘And can you do it confidently?’ Lachlan asked with a piecing glance.   Alex shrunk slightly under the gaze of the Leader.
‘I believe so.’ Alex said standing up straighter.   The Leader smiled warmly at the confidence of the Italian.
‘That tree.’ The Leader said pointing to a tree that stood a few feet in from the line of trees around the clearing.   ‘Can you break it?’
Alex looked at the tree, which was of the fir species.   It was about six feet in diameter and over fifty feet tall.   Alex swallowed in fear, thinking this might be beyond his abilities.   He walked toward the tree anxiously, Lachlan, Caiden and Mikhail following him quietly.
He stood about four feet from the tree and concentrated for a moment.   He stepped back with his right foot, his arm extended behind him, and as he stepped forward, he whipped his arm around and threw a punch at the tree.   His fist connected with the tree, with a great deal of force.   A crack sounded in the core of the trunk where his fist connected.   Lachlan heard the noise echo up the trunk to the top branches, which shook slightly.
‘Well done.’ The Leader said with a warm smile.
‘That hurt.’ Alex said holding his right fist in his left hand.   Lachlan looked at the knuckles of the right hand and saw an angry looking graze, bleeding slightly.   He stepped forward and gestured for Alex to give him his hand.   The Italian held his hand out hesitantly and Lachlan took it gently in his left hand.   He held his right hand over the top of the bloodied hand and concentrated.   Alex felt a burning sensation in his hand and then nothing.   Lachlan smiled at him and took his hands away.   The Italians hand had completely healed and appeared undamaged.
‘Jaden will help you with using your powers to cushion your body when doing things like that.’ The Leader said with encouragement.
‘Is that possible?’ Alex asked with fascination.
‘Absolutely.’ The Leader said flashing a brilliant smile.   ‘Watch.’
The Leader stepped in front of the tree where Alex had stood and mimicked the Italians posturing.   He swung quickly and the tree snapped viciously at the place where Lachlan’s fist was placed, knuckles hovering about an inch from the bark.   But where his knuckles would have met the tree, there was a large piece of the trunk missing, with splinters exploding from the impact.   The tree groaned in protest and began falling toward the small group.   Alex panicked and tried to push the Leader out of the way.   Caiden caught him by the arm and held him back as the tree came falling down.   As it came within inches of flattening the Leader, it stopped abruptly, creaking under the stress of being held horizontal, then raised several meters into the air and casually moved through the thicket of trees, coming to a rest between several large trees on the ground softly.
‘Anything is possible.’ The Leader said smiling to the Italian.   Alex looked at the Leader critically and thought, for someone of his slight build, he was deceptively powerful and was certainly worthy of Alex’s respect and admiration.   Alex flushed with embarrassment when he thought that he was attempting to save this powerful person.
‘The fact that you thought of my safety and did not hesitate to save me speaks more to me than any other thought or act Alex.’ Lachlan said with a warm smile that instantly made the Italian relax.
‘Thanks.’ Alex said with a small smile.
‘Think nothing of it.’ The Leader said with a nod of the head.   ‘I think that might be enough for today.’ Alex and Caiden both nodded in agreement.
‘And we’ve talked ourselves stupid.’ Grayson said joining the others suddenly.   Alex reached out and pulled Quinn into a hug.
‘Did you learn lots?’ The Italian asked of his lover.
‘Heaps!’ The blond said excitedly.   Alex smiled and kissed his lover tenderly.   Lachlan, Caiden and Grayson all smiled at the display of affection between the Italian and Canadian.   Mikhail looked mildly uncomfortable.   Lachlan observed him subtly and instantly understood why.
‘You guys go on ahead.’ The Leader said indicating Grayson, Caiden, Alex and Quinn.   He moved to the Russian’s side and hooked his arm into the giants arm.
‘Come walk with me a moment.’ He said patting the giant’s hand.   Mikhail nodded and began walking slowly with the Leader, heading for the tree stump seats.
‘I’m sorry, I should have mentioned yesterday.   While you are here, your electronic devices do not work properly.   It’s part of the security that protects The Sanctuary.’ Mikhail nodded but didn’t say anything.
‘Your phone will work on the other side of the veil, if you want to call him?’ Lachlan continued.   Mikhail shrugged.   ‘Or…’ The Leader persisted, ‘…come back to my cabin.   I have a functioning land line in my cabin.   You can call him from that?’ Mikhail looked to the Leader with a questioning face.
‘There are two phones here.   One in my private cabin and one in the main meeting house.’ The Leader said with a wink.   ‘Being the Leader has its advantages.’ He laughed.   ‘It’s about 10am in Italy now.   Come to my cabin and give him a call.’
Mikhail’s smile was so huge the Leader could hardly contain his own smile.
‘Thank you.’ The Russian said happily.
‘It’s no worry at all Tank.’ Lachlan said with a laugh.
‘Yes, thank you.’ The Russian said blushing slightly.
‘Good.’ The Leader said patting the giant on the arm.   They both turned and began walking to the gathering field.   ‘Dinner is being served.   Why don’t you go and get yourself something to eat?’
‘Thanks Lachlan.’ The Russian said.   Lachlan stopped abruptly, swaying slightly.   Mikhail stopped and turned back to the Leader who had a blank look on his face.   ‘Are you okay?’ The giant asked stepping back to the Leader.   Lachlan raised a hand gesturing for silence.   Suddenly Lachlan gasped loudly, pain spreading across his face as he clutched at his stomach, screaming loudly.   Mikhail panicked and grabbed for the Leader, pulled him into his arms and ran for the group of people, Lachlan tucked against his chest, still screaming.
‘Sì Mamma.’ Forty minutes later, the Q7 pulled off of the interstate and made its way slowly toward the township ahead of them.   Alex carefully parked the car outside a café.   The car had barely come to a stop as Mikhail flung the door open and fell out, his legs having gone to sleep on him.   Alex laughed as he reached over and gently shook Quinn awake.   An hour and a half later, the Q7 had turned off the main road, just after the large boulder Jaden had described.   All three occupants in the car commented on how peculiar the boulder was.   ‘It’s so beautiful here.’ Quinn said standing on the small deck out the back of their cabin, looking across the lush field to the nearby forest.   ‘Everyone, please make welcome our guests, Alex, Quinn and Mikhail.’ Lachlan said standing in front of everyone.   ‘They will be with us for a few weeks, so do your best to help them out should they need it.’ He said with a smile.   ‘But, for the time being, let’s eat.’ He said loudly, indicating the long table of food behind him.   People started moving toward the table when suddenly there was a break in the crowd.   People were turning to look at the three guests expectantly.   Lachlan, who was standing near the food tables, gestured for them to come forward.   They walked as quickly as they could, their faces blushing slightly.   After everyone had finished eating, their plates and cutlery taken into one of the buildings to be cleaned, Lachlan stood in front of everyone again.   Alex woke just before sunrise.   He had had the dream again.   He had seen himself standing in a field, clutching at his chest.   Then he collapsed and someone was holding his head, crying.   As the perspective of the dream changed, he looked down into his own face and was jolted awake when he saw the intense green eyes.   In the few moments it took him to understand why he was awake, the memory of the dream vanished, erasing all details with it.   ‘He’ll be back tomorrow morning, hopefully for a longer period of time.’ The Leader said to the red headed twin.   ‘You’re doing really well Alex.’ The blond twin said with an encouraging smile.   The Italian was lying on the ground trying to catch his breath after a particularly rigorous mock battle with the twin.   They had been practicing for most of the day, Lachlan occasionally contributing or assisting Caiden.
‘Feel better?’ Lachlan asked as Mikhail came out of the Leader’s private cabin with a smile on his face.
Forty minutes later, the Q7 pulled off of the interstate and made its way slowly toward the township ahead of them.   Alex carefully parked the car outside a café.   The car had barely come to a stop as Mikhail flung the door open and fell out, his legs having gone to sleep on him.   Alex laughed as he reached over and gently shook Quinn awake.   An hour and a half later, the Q7 had turned off the main road, just after the large boulder Jaden had described.   All three occupants in the car commented on how peculiar the boulder was.   ‘It’s so beautiful here.’ Quinn said standing on the small deck out the back of their cabin, looking across the lush field to the nearby forest.   ‘Everyone, please make welcome our guests, Alex, Quinn and Mikhail.’ Lachlan said standing in front of everyone.   ‘They will be with us for a few weeks, so do your best to help them out should they need it.’ He said with a smile.   ‘But, for the time being, let’s eat.’ He said loudly, indicating the long table of food behind him.   People started moving toward the table when suddenly there was a break in the crowd.   People were turning to look at the three guests expectantly.   Lachlan, who was standing near the food tables, gestured for them to come forward.   They walked as quickly as they could, their faces blushing slightly.   After everyone had finished eating, their plates and cutlery taken into one of the buildings to be cleaned, Lachlan stood in front of everyone again.   Alex woke just before sunrise.   He had had the dream again.   He had seen himself standing in a field, clutching at his chest.   Then he collapsed and someone was holding his head, crying.   As the perspective of the dream changed, he looked down into his own face and was jolted awake when he saw the intense green eyes.   In the few moments it took him to understand why he was awake, the memory of the dream vanished, erasing all details with it.   ‘He’ll be back tomorrow morning, hopefully for a longer period of time.’ The Leader said to the red headed twin.   ‘You’re doing really well Alex.’ The blond twin said with an encouraging smile.   The Italian was lying on the ground trying to catch his breath after a particularly rigorous mock battle with the twin.   They had been practicing for most of the day, Lachlan occasionally contributing or assisting Caiden.
‘Feel better?’ Lachlan asked as Mikhail came out of the Leader’s private cabin with a smile on his face.