Number thirteen woke up screaming. When a woman rushed in that she didn't know she growled and lunged at her, tackling her to the ground, strong hands grabbed her up and lifted her off the woman

"Calm down, little one," said Landon. "Alessia, can you get Maddox in here. She'd recognize him."

She nodded and left, a few minutes later maddox came in Hello, my little cub, he said to her, holding out his hand. It is good to see you again, healthy this time. Would you feel safer with me?

She stopped fight and tears swelled in her eyes and she suddenly started screaming in anguish, but not because she was in pain, she ran into maddox arms and hit in so hard they both fell to the ground. She buried her face into his chest and cryed

Maddox patted the child's hair soothingly as he sat up. Beyond that, he did not move her. He held her like a father trying to console his daughter. Serenity looked in from the hallway, seeing him in a new light. He looked up at her and motioned for her to walk in. He was what a father should be, kind and loving. Little one, this is my mate, Serenity. Would you like to meet her?

The girl growled in response and serenity didn't come near. The little girl suddenly stuffiness and inhaled deeply on maddox's skin. She looked up at him "number one...number one! " She said in a frantic tone

Use your mind and show me what Number I looks like, he said. And perhaps we can find out who they are. She looked at him for a moment. He smiled. I will see if she is well enough for you to visit, but she was badly hurt, little one. But she is safe now. Both of you are free.

She wiggled to break free in his arms, she shifted into her wolf and howled

Maddox let go until she finished shifting, then he held her again. Apollo, the child wishes to see your mate.

she is still injured, but she is trying to get to her, I will bring her too you, have the woman leave the room for safety

The pup howled again

She is on her way, said Apollo.

You friend is coming, little one, Maddox said. But she is injured. Stay calm for her?

When the woman was close the child broke free of Maddox and ran to her

Paige woke up and felt like her body was being crushed, she tried to open her mouth to scream but it was filled with dirt

Valcan opened the earth above her and said, "It's okay. I'm here."

She coughed hard and she wrapped her arms around him "I know ...I know I don't need to breath but..." She said and he smelled she was still in the middle of the conversation yet he sense she was in no pain

"It's alright," he said. "You mind still thinks in human terms. Buried in the dirt is bad, but we can work through that. For now, just breathe."

She slowly calmed down "I hurt the prince...I didn't mean to I swear I don't know what happened" she said in a scared tone

"He understands you were not in control," he said. "The blame lies with me for not doing what was required of me. I put you in pain and danger because I did not use my brain and put your safety first. I swear, I will not fail like that again."

She shook her head still calming herself down "no it was my fault...I should have studied more, maybe then I could have controlled it and.."

"The conversion is not a place where you can control what you do," he said. "It is painful, and that level of pain does not often leave room for control."

She shook her head "still I'm a mage I should have been able too..." Her heart slowed and she suddenly fell into a carpathian sleep in his arms

He placed her back in the ground, unsure of how to handle this. Nothing would have prepared her for the pain, so she wouldn't have had any control. She wouldn't have been able to even think the words to the spells if she had tried. He would need some advice. Xavier, she awoke but quickly went back to sleep. She said she should have had more control.

more control of what? Xavier asked

Her powers, he replied.

she had none until last night, and even so, that much pain would make it hard for anyone to stay in control

She does not understand that at this time. It will take a while before she understands.

Stay with her, make sure she doesn’t leave the room

Of course, Valcan said.

A couple hours later he felt her start to wake up once more

He opened the earth just as her eyes opened and asked, "Do you know the meaning of rest, my little chihuahua?"

“I’m sorry I don’t know what’s wrong with me....why can’t I stay asleep? Does this mean I’m rejecting the conversion?” She asked in a scared tone

"Not at all," he said with a chuckle. "It could mean you want me next to you, or you are worried about something that interferes with your rest. But no, you are not rejecting the conversion, or you would not be in the ground while sleeping."

She looked at him “so I really you now?” She asked

"Yes and healing," he said. "You are to sleep in the ground for two to three days. This is only day one. I don't want to have to make you go to sleep."

“I...don’t want to sleep, I’m scared to” she said in a scared tone

"Why?" he asked.

She sighed “because I hurt the prince and I’m afraid your going to get hurt for it” she said

"No, I would not get hurt because of an accident," he said. "I will have to pay for not telling the prince I had found you. A lot of things could have been prevented if not for my oversight. You are not to blame."

“No it’s my fault! I used your new emotions to my advantage and I’m sorry” she said getting upset

"I saw you first and could have reached out as soon as I knew," said Valcan. "But I did not. That is how I am at fault. You did nothing wrong."

“That’s not true!” She said and the room shook

"It's okay," he said. "Just breath with me. Follow the pattern I set. Just know I will not be hurt for what happened. Okay?"

“You promise?” She asked in a scared tone

"I promise that the prince will not harm me," said Valcan. "He is not that kind of man."

“You said he won’t hurt you that’s a play on words...promise me no one or anything will hurt you” she said in a stubborn tone

Valcan said, "The only thing they would do is put a tattoo on me. They would have to do... let's not get into it. Just know it is more intense than a human tattoo. That would be the only harm that would come to me, if any. At least, that I am aware of."

She frowned “your keeping things from me and they are going to hurt you! There is no reason to hurt you it was my fault!” She said in a upset tone “you said you wouldn’t fail me again, if they hurt you then you fail me do you understand “

"Paige," he said, getting a bit stern, "did you see me first and know I was yours for all time? Did you let the prince know we were lifemates the instant you knew? As I recall, you were in the stables, tending the horses and dancing and singing loudly. You did not even notice me standing next to the horse. It was eight minutes later that you even saw me. I had time. I could have prevented the pain you suffered. But I did not."

"You did nothing wrong it was me ok, I tricked you , I made you do all those things last night , it was a experiment, a test to see if my hypothesis was true, I took advantage of your new emotions but I didn't know how potent it was and I'm sorry I really am please tell him it was my fault" she said trying to get up "I can prove it the vial is in my...."

Cassandra woke up slowly, her body was heavy and she was sore to the point it hurt to move. She was underground which she hated and fear slammed into her, was she late again, if she didn't hurry and leave the ground he would beat her again. She tried to life the dirt but couldn't, she started to crawl her way out

Suddenly, the earth opened above her and a man had a blanket around her, saying, "It's okay. Everything is fine. There is no need to panic. You are safe."

She backed away from him with a growl. Though her fangs were out she was shaking in fear

"My name is Apollo," he said. "Can I have your name?"

She didn't say anything but she stopped growling, his voice was nice to her. She looked around and realized she wasn't in her cage. That made her panic more, he would hurt people to get her back

"You have permission to talk to me," he said, his tone sounded like he was trying to remind her of that. "You are fine. Whatever you say stays between us."

She didn't move and her was scared , like a trapped animal. She looked down in a submissive way "are new master? " She said in a shaking tone

"I would not call me that, but if you must think of me as such, do so," he said. "Whatever you feel comfortable with."

His words confused, suddenly a howl was heard echoing the hallways that got her attention. With inhuman speed she started bolted for the door

Apollo took hold of her and said, "You can't run in your state. You are still very injured. I just received word that a little girl wishes to see you. We will walk to her chambers to see her so that we don't risk reopening your wounds."

She bit into his arm while trying to get away from him , she instantly let go with a startled cry, in her head he could see she was waiting for the pain from his blood. When there was none she licked her lips and moaned slightly. He knew she was about to bite him to drink from him out of instinct only but another howl stopped her. She shifted which caused her wounds to open. He could feel she was willing to die to get to that pup

He held her back and said, "You will walk. It is not far. But first, I must close these wounds. You will scare the child."

She growled at him and bared her teeth

He growled back, showing his own teeth, and said, "Do not make this a fight, [I]pequena[/i], because you do not have the strength to win. I have to heal your wounds before you go see the child."

She looked at him and he thought she was about to try and attack him again but then her face turned into a sad one “please....” she said in a begging tone

He went to her slowly and placed a hand on her stomach gently so as not to hurt her. She felt a warmth go through her as her wounds healed. But it was his scent that drew her attention. He then helped her to stand and put some light clothing on her that she could barely feel. He kept hold of her hand. He guided her down many tunnels until they got to the mouth of the chamber that smelled of XIII.

"You cannot pick up the child," he informed her. "You will reopen your wounds if you do. Beyond that, hug her, look her over, see if she is alright, learn what you can. You don't have to be afraid."

The moment the got close she ripped her hand from his and ran to towards the room, a wolf ran out of the room and was running towards her, the wolf jumped and shifted in mid air and threw herself into number ones arms, making her caught her. The feel to the floor, number one landing on her back, the girl burning her head into her chest and sobbing. Though she was in pain and some of the cuts had opened up and were bleeding, she didn’t even notice or cared. She hugged the little girl tightly and stayed laying on the ground. The little girls nails dug into her skin and made her bleed but again she didn’t move

"I said not to run or carry her," Apollo said with a laugh, shaking his head. "I'll just have to heal you all over again."

Little one, you see? Maddox told the child. I told you that you could see her. Both of you are free now. If you wish, I know a hidden grove where you can run and play. Perhaps your friend can come with us.

She moved her hair out of her face and looked at the girl, wiping her of the tears. She put her head to the little girls forehead. She sat up holding the girl in her lap, she grunted but didn’t say anything “number twenty? “ she asked and the little girl shook her head with a sob “number eight ?” She asked and the girl once more shook her head. Apollo felt devastation from her, this was not a normal devastation, he had felt this kind before when a mother lost a child

"I am sorry for your loss," he said, kneeling next to her and putting his hand in the center of Cassandra's back. "It appeared you two are quite close."

She flinched at his touch and tightened her grip on the girl, in response the girl tucked her head to be shielded, relying on Cassandra to protect her “they...are my children “ she said shocking everyone

Maddox shot across the room and, with Landon's help, moved Apollo away from the two women. Alessia stood as a shield for the women. Apollo, I know you want to rip his head off but you already killed him. Do not do this here. She does not need you going crazy because of your anger or need for vengeance. She will see you as the same as him.

That made Apollo stop. He would not be lumped into the same group as a monster.

"I'm sorry," he said after a moment. "It came as a shock to me. That is all."

I will not allow anyone to harm you or your mother, little one, Maddox said, smiling at the child.

She moved more into Cassandra arms, away from Maddox. Cassandra started to sweat from the pain but she didn’t care. The girl suddenly looked up at her and made a whimpering sound just as Cassandra fell backwards, her body forcing her to sleep because she was still badly injured. The girl started to cry and shake her to try and wake her

It's okay, little one, Maddox said. She is just tired. Let's let the healer take her back to her room to rest. I can show you the grove I told you about. When she is healed more, you can visit her.

Apollo knelt next to the little girl and said, "I am sorry if I scared you. You see, I very much care for your mother, and want her to get better." He pulled out a necklace from his pocket. "You see this? It will tell you who is good and who is bad. It won't hurt and if you don't like it around your neck, we can make it a bracelet, or a ring, or anything you like."

She growled at him and leaned over her mother protectively, her fangs grew , though they could tell she was scared but she was willing to fight. Her eyes kept going from him to her, when he didn’t make any movements he felt her start to calm down. She stopped growling and sat next to Cassandra and began liking her bleeding wounds to close them

“I think it would be best for both of them if we keep them together “ said serenity

"The child nor the mother trusts me," said Apollo. "I would like to be the woman's lifemate and the child's father, as fate says it should be." He looked back as Serenity. "I know Meghan is training you. Tell me, how do I earn their trust?"

“You won’t like it” serenity warned “but their trauma seems to be primal, they have been treated like animals, kept weak enough to the point I don’t think they even know there own abilities, to heal their kind of trauma you have to go into it first, you must become their alpha” she said in a serious tone.

“Um...something I think has been overlooked, landon said the little boy was marked with the number where are the rest of her children?” Said alessia “also...I thought it was impossible for our kind to have so many”

"Through magic, one can manipulate birth rates," said Erik, appearing from the door. "We forbid it because it is unnatural and can lead to problems. I have a brother who was made with the after-effects of magic, and my daughters were the same. We were lucky they embraced the light, but they could have been overwhelmed by the darkness that created them. There was a woman I knew who had lost so many children that she became desperate. She used forbidden magic to give her a son. Her lifemate was forced to kill him when he turned. Antony was forced to proclaim children willingly conceived by magic forbidden. It seems that the one holding them used those very spells to torture this woman further. What mother would let her children suffer in her place? This child, the last to survive him, was not only treated like an animal but as means to torture her mother. It also appears he may have used aging magic as well so that he could do other things to them as needed to make his main target hurt in unforgivable ways."

The little girl started to sway and her body passed out on top of Cassandra’s. Now that they were close to each other, everyone could see the resemblance. The girl had her mother’s eyes and face shape, the other big difference was hair color, the girl had brown like the sange rau. When Maddox and Apollo went to move them Cassandra’s hand shot up and grabbed the sleeping girls arm. Her eyes popped open, Apollo could feel she was hurting her self just to stay awake. Serenity went to her side “are more of your children alive?” She asked her “we will help them if you tell us, we will bring them to you” she said in a sincere tone. Cassandra nodded and then focus back on Maddox and growled at him

I was only going to carry her to your room so that Apollo could carry you, he told her. I would not dare separate you now that you are together again.

"We will begin the search for the children," said Apollo. "Was the boy, XX, the last of your children?"

“Ben!” She yelled startling them “his name was Ben” she said in a heartbreaking tone “and no...he was not the last” she said looking down at her scared and still healing stomach. Serenity went to Maddox and put her hand on her stomach, visible upset “you mean she was....” she started to ask him

It appears there was at least one growing within her at the time she was wounded, said Maddox.

"What is your name and that of your daughter?" asked Apollo. "I think we should do away with the numbers. They are of a dark past and are not part of your present or future."

“Lily....she was born in water” she said in a weak tone and started to sway “please.....please let me keep I promise I’ll be....good” she said loosing her grip on her arm, her arm dropping hard as her body grew heavy “please...”

"You will let us heal you," Apollo said in a stern voice. "You are safe here, with me. When you are healed, we will talk more. Is that understood?"

That got her attention. Serenity made Maddox step back and alessia did the same with landon. Cassandras eyes turned gold and she frown. With a grunt and exhale she forced her self into a sitting position, her blood laid on the floor and she faced him “no” she said in a low tone

"In this, you do not have a choice," he said, a growl building. "I don't know what to call you, you refuse my aid when given with no strings, and you are harming yourself." He picked her and the child up. "If you do not take your injuries seriously, I will have no choice but to force your compliance and put you to sleep."

He began walking back to their room. He ignored everyone and everything around them. When they got to the room, he laid her down on the dirt and put the child next to her.

He began an herb mixture as he said, "I will heal your wounds and then you and Lily will both go into a deep sleep. You both will sleep here, in my family's healing chamber." He felt her try to reach her daughter to try and leave and he put up a ward. "I do not like trapping you here, but it is for the benefit of your health."

He saw the fear in her eyes and the defeat, she was trapped once more. He saw her break again right in front of him and he knew he made a mistake. She curled up around her daughter without another word.

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