I’m going to keep trying NOT to have to go through and edit after posting.  I’ve failed everytime so far. 😀  – Tiff

October 19 – Today’s Chapter!

October 19th

“I am so sorry, Dear.” Cade’s mother laid a comforting hand on his arm. They were sitting across from each other in the living room, his mother’s domain. He had explained what happened the prior evening in great detail.

“I don’t want to kill that monster even if he deserves it.” Cade looked to his mother earnestly. “Mom. I do not want to kill anyone.”

“In my day, that was unavoidable, Cade.” She patted his arm and then sat back, reflecting on the situation. “I have taken out ten hunters, Cade. It gets a little too easy when you remove any thoughts of them being human.”

“I don’t want to become like them.” Cade replied in disgust. “That’s what they do to us!”

“We don’t go looking for them, Cade. They come looking for us.” Zelda frowned. “It’s different. You have to remember hundreds of years separate you and me in how the world has changed. It’s better than it was in many ways and worse in others.”

“I can’t kill him for more reasons than knowing I can not morally justify it.” Cade gestured wildly with his hands. “If his body is found, then hunters will descend on wherever he was last seen. He might have friends.” Cade paused and stared at the ground, unable to consider what his mother had suggested. “He probably has a family that cares about him somewhere. Even monsters have mothers and fathers who love them.”

“We used to just eat them.” His mother shrugged like it was nothing to make that suggestion. “No body. No problem.”

Cade stared at his mother. For such a sweet little lady, she had a dark side. It cropped up every now and then at the most random times. She was a good person, but she had seen more awful things in her long life than could be imagined. “Mother. No.”

“Just a suggestion.” She smiled as though she had been telling him to go buy a bouquet of flowers. Perfectly normal everyday conversation.

“Do you have any suggestions that do not involve dead bodies?” Cade sighed.

“Yes, but it’s going to be tricky because we will need to capture your hunter.”

“He walks THROUGH walls!” Cade jumped to his feet and stomped around the room. “THROUGH THEM!” His frustration was overwhelming. He wanted to punch something.

“No need to yell. That kind of ability requires the whole body to channel energy. It’s like our shifting ability and how we use alchemy in general.” Zelda was smiling at him. Cade sighed and turned his attention on her. “Which means that all you have to do is get a silver rope around him to disrupt that ability.”

“Maria will completely freak out if my hands start smoking and burning from handling silver, Mom.” He sighed again and sank back into the chair across from his mother. “And that stuff hurts!”

“Maria is going to have to be the one handling it. You will have to be very careful when you give it to her.” Cade’s mother gave him a stern look. “Go into town and buy the longest silver necklace you can find. Oh, why don’t you invite Maria to go with you? You should take her on a real date.”

Cade stared at his mother. He needed to deal with a life or death problem, and she was suggesting that he take time to go on a date?

“Take her shopping. Buy her something nice. Treat her like you don’t ever want her to leave.” His mother began talking fast, a broad smile fixed on her wrinkled face. “Tell her you love her.”

“I can’t.” Cade fidgeted with his hands and stared at the floor. “I don’t know what she would say. She likes me. I am happy with that as it is. I don’t want to ruin it by saying that right now. She has to say it first.”

“Since she moved in.” His mother chuckled. “She has had you since she moved in. You can’t hide that from me.”

“Mother, please.” Cade turned red. Then he looked up at her and smiled. “Why don’t ye move on and pick up a new identity so ye can go run around all young again and see what’s out there for ye. Then ye can leave me alone about it. Have some more kids since ye want them so bad.”

“Because I love you!” His mother got up fast for someone who looked like an elderly woman. She threw her arms around her son and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back.

“I love you too, Mom.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Following their conversation, Cade’s mother hurried to her room with her phone. She immediately called Maria. Zelda had been planning something, and now she was going to put it in motion. She knew her son well. It was easy to plant a suggestion. He would often turn it down, then think about it and act on it later.

“Good morning, Maria.” Cade’s mother got the groggy girl on the phone after a few rings.

“Hullo, who is this?” Maria wasn’t a morning person.

“It’s Zelda, Cade’s mother. I wanted to talk to you about a surprise birthday party we’re having for Cadeyrn on the 23rd. Please write this down, Child, you don’t sound very awake.” She waited for a few minutes. Maria could be heard on the other side of the phone fumbling around for a paper and a pen.

“Birthday party.” She could hear Maria writing. “23rd. Time?”

“What time would you prefer it to be at, Maria? I’m going to need you to occupy Cade while we get ready.” There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Occupy Cade?” Then Maria began giggling like that was the funniest thing she had ever heard. “Occupy Cade?”

“You take him out somewhere nice and keep him away from the house. We have a big surprise planned for him, and I need to get the specifics to everyone. The later, the better. I need him out of the house in the morning and most of the afternoon.”

“What should I do with him?” Maria yawned. “I need to think about this. Am I planning a date here? Oh, wait. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m planning a date.” Maria groaned and fell back onto her bed. It was too early in the morning to be doing any real thinking. “If you have any ideas, please let me hear them.”

Zelda smiled and managed to keep from telling Maria what she thought she and her son should be doing. Getting together and making her some grandkids. She could talk that way with her son. But it might scare her hopefully future daughter-in-law. And the mother of all those grandchildren she had already named. “I have a few ideas.”

-=-=-=-=-=-

Cade buttoned up the black dress shirt he had chosen for today. While he wore ordinary t-shirts around his house, Cade preferred something more formal for what he had in mind. His mother’s words had sunk in, and it had triggered several considerations. Maria needed to relax. He was leaving his home to go into town. He didn’t want to leave her alone, even though she was safest during the daytime. Cade wanted to keep an eye on her.

He also wanted to show her the things he wanted to do for her and what he could provide. He hadn’t been joking when he said he made good money. The Kings were well off due to centuries of responsible money management and living below their means. Having long lives made things easier for them. Lyceans tended to gain many professional skills over their lifetimes. His mother had worked as an interpreter for decades. She knew 30 or 40 languages and had taught Cade some of them. She could always get a well-paying job with her skills if it were necessary.

Cade studied himself in the mirror. His face was covered in cuts. There was a huge ugly bruise next to the bandage covering the stitched wound on the left side of his face. He couldn’t shave until the cuts healed. He could have healed them all without a trace. But Cade had to carry on the impression that he was a regular human, like Maria. He could do it. He could live a lifetime with her. He would happily grow old with Maria. Cade sighed at that thought. She would pass on before he would, and then he would do what he had suggested to his mother. He would take on a new lonely identity. He stared at himself. Just his luck to find his love in a human. They only had 80 to 100 years compared to his 800 to 1,000. She would never know what he was. Any children they had would take after him. He would have a family to love. He wouldn’t be alone after all.

Then Cade smiled. That was not here or now. Right now, he had the attention of a gorgeous young lady who excited and scared him all at once. That was enough for someone who thought there would never be anyone at all. He needed to get rid of the ex, and that plan was in motion. He had already called a store in town to pick up a 36” sterling silver chain necklace.

For a brief moment, Cade considered telling Maria that he was a Lycean. She knew about Lyceans. Then he remembered the photos. No. Lyceans tended to have a reputation. THAT reputation. He didn’t want her to think of him like the things that Bryce hunted. This was a secret he could hold. Cade was as human as her. He just had a longer life and the ability to change into a monster and wreck anything in his path. He could keep this secret.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Cade had wasted enough time. He was sure Maria would be up and ready to go if he went over to her house now. Hopefully, she would be able to go with him. Otherwise, he would wait.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Maria had been warned that Cade was likely going to come over and offer to take her out. That little bit of information had been exciting enough to get her moving. She needed to be prepared to go out, but she couldn’t look like she was expecting it. She opted for jeans and a simple t-shirt with purple butterflies decorating the left side. She made sure she had comfortable shoes on for walking.

When the doorbell rang, Maria ran past a startled Charise and Jaden to answer it. She threw the door open and bounced out onto the porch grabbing Cade’s arm, “I am so glad you’re here! I need to get out of the house before Charise and Jaden see you! They’ll have questions! So many embarrassing questions!”

Cade was startled as she pulled him across the porch and down the stairs. “You would not believe what I had to tell them about last night. We forgot to clean up the den!”

“Uh, oh.” Cade grimaced, glancing at her house and walking down the stairs with her.

“Yeah, so they think we had a big fight last night.”

“What? Why would you tell them that?” Cade stopped and stared at her. “I don’t want them thinking I would hurt ye. We need to go back and tell them something else.”

“Oh, they think I made it up.” Maria rolled her eyes. “They think we were doing something else.”

“WHAT?!” His face turned bright red. “I would rather they know what really happened!” He turned and started back up the steps.

“Noooo.” Maria pulled as hard as she could and was still dragged halfway up the steps. “You can’t tell them! He’s not after them, just me! Let them believe what they want to believe!”

Cade stopped and stared at Maria. “I don’t like that. It’s not true. I’m not like that, and neither are ye.”

“Please?” Maria tugged on his arm. Cade glanced at the door, then back to Maria. He wanted them to know the truth. It made him queasy about turning the damage from his fight with Bryce into a sordid event with Maria. That was not him. Then he sighed and gave in.

“When this is over, we tell them the truth.”

“We will.” Maria nodded in agreement. “Uh, so why are you dressed up and over here?” She asked in an innocent tone.

“Oh.” He smiled, remembering why he was there in the first place. “I wanted to see if ye were busy this afternoon. I’m going into town and wanted to see if you’d come with me. As ye are.”

“Uh, you’re dressed up, and I’m not.” Maria gave him a critical look. If he was dressed up, then she needed to change into something comparable. She had not been expecting to have to dress up since it was on the spur of the moment.

“Don’t worry about it.” Cade smiled. “I want to do something nice for ye today. Let me treat ye to lunch and something nice to wear. Yer choice. Something to take yer mind off things. We are working on a solution.”

“What are we, Cade?” Maria scrunched up her face as she questioned him. “To each other?”
“If ye get to stay. What do ye want?” He offered her his hand.

“I don’t know.” Maria stared at his hand, then took it. “Are you seriously buying me clothes? That jerk bought me clothes, but I hated them.”

“Should I not?” Cade looked confused. “I want ye to pick something nice out to wear on our date. Whatever ye want. I have a friend in town who has the perfect boutique. I think ye’ll like it. I would like to do this for ye. Let me?”

“You bought me a sword, Cade,” Maria smirked. “Wasn’t that enough?”

“Let’s say I’m old fashioned and I want to buy the woman I like something nice as a gift. No strings attached. I swear.” He waited. Maria looked at him awkwardly and fidgeted with indecision. She didn’t actually have anything nice to wear. She had destroyed all the clothing Bryce had bought her.

Maria had only packed her most basic comfortable clothing when she had left home. She didn’t even have a nice pair of shoes. Paying off Bryce was still draining her bank account. “If ye would like to go in and change, I can wait.” Cade tried not to look disappointed and was failing at it.

“So, you’re courting me?” Maria continued pulling Cade away from the house. “You actually want a real relationship with me? Not a ‘friends with benefits’ thing?”

Cade’s face didn’t seem able to go to any other color that wasn’t a shade of pink and red. “I am annoyingly traditional, Maria.” He was losing his smile, and his eyes were full of sadness. “Do ye want that, or do ye want the other?”

“I don’t know what I want,” Maria admitted. “I honestly don’t.”

“How about I be me and ye be ye, and we figure that out as we go along? I am not interested in ‘friends with benefits.’ At all. I can be yer friend. I’m fine with that.” Cade stood firm and waited. “Are ye going to change or go like that?”

Maria made a face then sighed. “I guess you can buy me something. But it can’t be expensive.”

“Ye owe me nothing, Maria.” Cade smiled again, this time broad enough that she glimpsed his teeth. It was actually cuter than he probably thought it was. They were slightly crooked, and that was it. They made his smile unique. “No benefits.” He smirked and took her hand to lead her to his car. Cade made a mental note to be careful and precise that he did not want anything from Maria. He was not that type of man.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Maria stared at the price tag. It had taken her half an hour of wandering around the small boutique to find something that jumped out at her. Cade chatted with the store owner the entire time. Maria sighed as she ran her fingers over the dusky pink sheer lace that flowed over the sleeves. It was a simple dress in a beautiful shade of dark rosy pink that faded into a deep purple at the bottom. It was light and flowy. Loose see-through fabric floated out from the waist. The fabric’s pattern resembled butterfly wings. She was in love with this particular dress. It was the type of thing she liked to wear if she had to dress up. It looked comfortable and wouldn’t restrict her movement. It was something that Bryce would have steered her away from buying. He always wanted her in tighter, more revealing clothing. She sighed wistfully and began to hang the dress back up. She needed to choose something that wasn’t that expensive.

“You should try it on.” The boutique owner took the dress from Maria’s hand before she could hang it up. She motioned to the dressing room in the back of the store. “I have some sandals that would look good with it.”

Maria hesitated and looked at Cade. “I think I need to find something a little less dressy.” It was too expensive.

“Try it on, Maria.” Cade smiled and gestured to the dressing room. “I get a discount, remember.”

“He does.” The owner took Maria’s hand and led her back to the dressing room.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Cade couldn’t stop smiling when Maria came out in the dress. She had on a pair of flat-soled sandals with matching pink and purple beads on the straps to go with it. He had never seen her in anything but jeans, shorts, and shirts. He had assumed she was the kind of girl that didn’t like dresses or anything like that, and that was fine.

Maria stepped out and turned one way. Then she shifted at the hip, letting the dress wrap around her legs and then unfurl. The solid cloth stopped above her knees, and the sheer panels fluttered down to her ankles. The neckline was a wide scoop neck. Maria had adjusted it to show off her left shoulder and every beautiful line along the way. It reminded him of when she had stolen his shirt and wore it in exactly the same way. “What do you think?” Maria couldn’t help but feel shy knowing that Cade was looking her over. A light pink blush spread over her shoulders and face.

“Perfect?” Cade whispered. “We’ll take it and the shoes.” Cade turned away, trying to hide the silly grin he knew was on his face. If she liked things like that, he was more than happy to buy them. He would have her dress and shoe size without asking her for them.

“Shouldn’t I get higher heels?” Maria glanced at her sandals and whispered to the boutique owner. “He’s so tall.”

“Maria, if you can make a man bow to you, do it.” The owner had giggled. “Especially THAT man.” Maria wasn’t sure what to make of the statement.

-=-=-=-=-=-

They finished at the boutique, and Maria wore her new dress and shoes out. They walked down the street to their next destination, Goldberg’s Jewelers. Cade made trips to the store several times a year for his mother. Jewelry was flashy and unnecessary in his eyes. Maria didn’t seem to agree. He had never seen her with anything more than a simple necklace. But Cade noticed she was drawn to the necklaces and pendants the moment they entered the store. Cade had the sudden desire to adorn her neck and body with all the ropes of pearls, gold, diamonds, rubies, and precious stones he could get his hands on. It was the weirdest sensation.

Cade shook his head to get rid of the ridiculous thoughts. “I have to pick up something. Look around and see if something catches your eye.” He headed to the main counter.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Maria glanced after Cade and scrunched up her face at him. Did he tell her to pick out something? She frowned and stepped away from the jewelry. She had sold everything valuable she had been given by Bryce plus her own things. Jewelry was nice in small amounts, but it wasn’t necessary. There was no real value in it, and she scoffed at all the ‘love is a diamond’ commercialization. What was more important? A shiny little rock or a house? A car that ran without breaking down every week? Food in her kitchen and supplies in her studio? Jewelry wasn’t important. She didn’t want any of that.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Cade noticed Maria had stopped looking and was standing near the door, waiting on him. He turned to his jeweler friend and smiled. “What do you think I should get her? Something that matches her dress. Something natural.” The jeweler smiled and walked to the back of his shop.

-=-=-=-=-=-

“Where to now?” Maria took Cade’s arm as he offered it. He was holding a small bag from the jewelers, and she was curious to know what was in it.

“Lunch, then home.” Cade smiled, walking her to his car. He opened the door for her, waited for her to get in, then closed it. When he got in on the driver’s side, he took a large black box out of the bag and put it on Maria’s lap. She looked from it to Cade.
“Cadeyrn. I didn’t want you to buy me anything. I don’t need jewelry. It’s all so stupid.” She was trying to be polite in declining it.

“Open it.” He twisted to toss the bag into the back seat. “If ye don’t want to keep it, ye don’t have to, but I would like ye to at least look at it.”

Maria sighed and tapped the box with her fingers. She wasn’t sure what to expect. Please. Don’t be diamonds. Anything but diamonds. The box popped open. Inside was a simple double roped necklace of beautiful misshapen lavender river pearls. There were peach and white pearls interspersed among them. It wasn’t fancy or flashy. They were simple and pretty.

“Do you know what is nice about freshwater pearls? Even the most imperfect pearl is still beautiful.” Cade smiled at Maria, hoping that she liked his gift. She was staring at them with her mouth open, thinking about what he was saying. She blinked, fighting off a sudden warm tingling sensation in her eyes. Maria was not going to cry in front of him over this. She had done that enough. A single tear escaped, and Cade frowned. “Maria? I’m sorry? Did I do something wrong?”

Maria was worryingly silent for another minute. Then she picked the necklace up and turned to Cade, smiling and squinting her eyes to keep her emotions in check. “Please put them on me?” Cade was still concerned but took the necklace and fiddled with it a moment to make sure he had a good hold on the clasp. She turned her back to him, taking a moment to discretely run the back of her hand over her eyes. Cade slipped the necklace over Maria’s head and fastened it around her neck. He smiled when she turned around, running her fingers over it. She was smiling, and that’s all that mattered.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The ride to the restaurant was short and silent. Maria was still smiling, and Cade was a little confused, but everything seemed ok. Maria ran her fingers over the irregularly shaped pearls in deep thought. She glanced at Cade. He was concentrating on finding a spot to park and not paying attention. He might not have been what everyone would want, but everyone didn’t want the same thing. Maria didn’t even know he was what she would want until she had met him. She couldn’t deny that immediate spark that went deeper than appearance.

Maria averted her eyes. He was at least a decade older than her. If he is 40, then he would only be hers for 40-60 years. Humans only lived 80 to 100 years compared to her 800 to 1,000. Just her luck. Still, what did it matter? He would pass away before her and never know what she was. Any children they might have would take after her. She would have a family of her own to love. She wouldn’t be alone.

Then Maria smiled. That was not here or now. Right now, she had the attention of an amazingly kind man who was thoughtful and considerate. That was enough for someone who thought there would never be anyone at all. Now she needed to get rid of Bryce, and Cade had assured her that the plan was in motion.

For a brief moment, Maria considered telling Cade that she was an Arcadian. He knew about Arcadians. Then she remembered his reaction to the photos. No. Arcadians tended to have a reputation. THAT reputation. She didn’t want him to think of her like he did Bryce. This was a secret she could hold. Maria was as human as him. She just had a much longer life and the ability to blow up anything that annoyed her. She could keep this secret.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Lunch was at a nice seafood restaurant. Maria couldn’t help but notice how everyone treated Cade. He was taken to the best table in the house and had the attention of most of the staff the entire time. They offered her wine but brought him root beer and water. It was kind of odd to see a bottle of root beer on the table next to her glass of Albariño.
Their meal was lavish. Cade had told Maria to order whatever she wanted, and he did the same for himself. The owner came out, and Cade held a lengthy conversation with him in French. Flawless French. Maria had tried not to stare. She had taken a few courses in it but was nowhere near as fluent. Then Maria remembered that she had heard him speak other languages before. She was impressed.

After Maria ordered, Cade ordered a few extra items for them to share that were on the extreme high end of the menu. Everything was delicious. Maria couldn’t help but be happy when Cade didn’t seem to care that she enjoyed eating. Every time Maria had been out with Bryce, he had ordered for her. He was always nitpicking her choices and ordering salads for her. Maria had grown to detest salads.

When they were done, and it was time for the bill to be delivered, Maria noticed that there wasn’t one. Cade left a large pile of 20s on the table, but Maria was still perplexed by the entire exchange. Now that she was thinking about it, she hadn’t seen a receipt, cash or card pass between him and anyone. The money on the table was a tip.

They left and took a stroll down Main Street to a small park. Everyone who passed them said hello to Cade, most referring to him as Mr. King. There were grown adults walking away, whispering. They were making noises that sounded like giggling. He introduced Maria to everyone they met, and she began to feel self-conscious about it. Many of them gave her a skeptical look bordering on suspicion.

Others seemed to be reading something far more significant in her presence. These people all did exactly the same thing. When she was introduced, they looked at her, looked at Cade, looked back at her then smiled. Then they excused themselves with a head motion that looked suspiciously like a bow. These were the ones who would excitedly start talking and giggling as well. Cade looked uncomfortable every time they did it.

Maria was dying to know exactly what was going on with these people. She had met some of them before, and they were ordinary everyday people. Something about her being with Cade made them treat her with a weird reverence.

Spending time with Cade in an everyday setting was nice. It was a crisp autumn day with a slight breeze. The trees still held almost full crowns of golden orange and red leaves. It was all nice, quiet, and normal. Unfortunately, there were other people around, and they were watching them. It was disconcerting.

“That is enough!” Cade stopped walking and turned around to everyone who was within earshot. The park was full of people enjoying the beautiful weather. All eyes fixed on Cade, and Maria wished she could crawl away somewhere and hide. He didn’t say anything more, just glared intensely. People began getting up and leaving as though they had been reprimanded by a parent. They scattered.

Cade sighed. He had thought his people would have the decency to ignore him and Maria. But no, they had to stare because this was something they had never seen with him before. He was actually out with a woman. The Lyceans all knew what was going on. They were a bunch of idiotic, love crazy, well-meaning people who were happy for him. But they were going to scare Maria if they kept it up. He was going to have to have a talk with them about ignoring him when he was out with Maria.

“Don’t mind them. They’re stunned by how beautiful ye are.” He paused, wrapping an arm around Maria’s shoulders. “And how ugly I am.” Maria was not set at ease by Cade’s explanation. There was something weird about how everyone treated Cade. For a guy that seemed to rarely leave his home and not be social at all, there was a strange level of respect from everyone they met. It did not match her perception of Cade.

“Don’t say that, Cade.” Maria leaned against him. “Don’t say you’re ugly.”

“It’s the truth.” He shrugged, his shoulders slumping forward and head down. “Big nose. Skinny face. Too much cheekbone. Bony. Too tall. Too thin. Covered in cuts and bruised up. It’s the truth.”

Maria slid her arms around Cade, positioning herself in front of him so that his face was above hers. “It is not.”

“Just because you say words to deny something doesn’t change the truth.” Cade smiled, nuzzling the top of her head and hugging her. “It doesn’t matter. It’s something I’ve had plenty of time to get used to.”

“You know, you keep saying I’m beautiful, and that’s not what anyone outside my family would say about me.” Maria took a deep breath. “I don’t understand why you are even here. I don’t understand why you took me out today. I don’t understand anything you have done for me.”

“I like ye.” Cade muttered.

“Nobody likes me,” grumbled Maria. “I’m paranoid, get mad fast, and people annoy me. I don’t get along with other women because they’re all about expensive vacations, clothes, jewelry, and so much stupid! Fake, stupid people! And men, seriously! They all want me to answer to them and do everything they tell me to do! I don’t see the point.” Her voice dropped to a whisper.

“Yer different.” Cade chuckled softly into her hair.

“So I’ve been told,” groaned Maria.

“That’s what I like!” Cade laughed a little more excitedly than he meant to. “I mean, that’s fine. I don’t care either. I really like ye, Maria. I like ye as ye are.”

“I like you too.” Maria tilted her head up, intending to kiss Cade. She met the palm of his hand instead.

“No.” Cade took a step back with a grin on his face. “I said I would take ye out no strings attached and that I didn’t want anything. And after yer little rant, this is best.”

“Hey!” Maria tried to get around his hand. Cade danced back. He was fast for such a tall man! “I want to kiss you!”

“No!” Cade laughed and turned away from her. “We are friends, and that’s how we went out today.”

“This isn’t fair!” Maria lunged, grabbing him around the waist as he tried to get away. “I can’t even reach you!” Cade chuckled, half dragging Maria with him in the direction of his car. A few people passing by stopped to watch with smiles on their faces, then walked away. Their King had his hands full with his Queen.

-=-=-=-=-=-

A massive grin crossed Bryce’s face as he read the lab report in his email. The results from the blood samples he had dropped off that morning were in. He chuckled. The report changed everything about how he would proceed with his attack on October 31st. He had done his research into Maria’s neighbor. He knew his name and that he had resided in the same home for over 30 years with his mother. That meant there were two he would have to deal with. Two Rex Regis Lyceans.

Bryce was going to need help with this, but only his closest friends. He didn’t need anyone upstaging his hunt. Rex Regis were considered the most dangerous type of Lycean. If these two had hidden out peacefully for decades, then they could be taken off-guard. Bryce had learned early in his career that if you hunted Lyceans who were NOT an active threat, they were easy prey. They panicked. They always ran. They were targets. Even though these were Rex Regis, the Kings of all Lyceans, they would be no different. He would get paid to take them out and turn over their bodies. Or, he could try to capture one or both of them and turn them into registered hunting Lyceans. That would be difficult, but it wouldn’t be impossible and would be a powerful status symbol. Controlling a Lycean for use in hunting was common, but there had never been a Rex Regis registered. Ever.