Linden stepped out of the house Helmut had transported them to and asked in astonishment, "Where in the world are we?"
"The place where I grew up," Helmut replied, coming up behind him, wrapping his arms around him.
"It's—breathtaking," Piers said softly.
"It is, isn't it? It's been a long time since I've been here. I forgot how beautiful it was, even at night."
"Is your family…?" Linden looked down the narrow dirt road that ran between the few buildings that comprised what he supposed had once been a tiny town.
"They're long gone, and before you start feeling sorry for me, I mean they no longer live here, or even want to. When it was safe, they returned home."
"Safe?" Piers asked.
"Remember what I told you about my connection with the revenant? My grandfather fled here after that war to escape the revenant's followers, bringing his wife and children with him. His son, my father, met and mated with a shifter who lived a few hundred miles from here. He remained there and, in time, my brother and I were born."
"So you have family still?" Linden looked up at him, seeing a flash of pain that came and went in an instant.
"Somewhere, yes," Helmut admitted. "I've been estranged from them for a long time. They don't quite approve of me, of what I am, because I won't be siring any children. Males are supposed to add to what I suppose you'd call the pack for lack of a better word."
"That's horrible," Piers exclaimed, echoing Linden's thoughts.
"It's life," Helmut told him with a slight shrug of a shoulder. "Come, let me show you the rest of your new home," he said, changing the subject.
"Our new home?"
"For the foreseeable future, yes. I hope you don't mind terribly that it doesn’t come up to the standards you're used to."
"No mod cons?" Linden asked, afraid the answer would be that there weren't. He was happily surprised when Helmut told him that indeed there were, up to a point.
"The last time I was here, I installed a couple of industrial grade generators, one for the house I always use, another for the one across the street. I will have to make a trip to town to get gasoline for them before the few appliances I have will work. I do have kerosene for the lamps that should still be good. And of course there are the fireplaces so we won't freeze. However," Helmut chuckled, "there's no television, not gaming systems, so you're going to have to rough it as far as that's concerned."
"Well, damn," Linden muttered, but he wasn't all that certain he minded, at least not for the moment. He had the feeling there would be more than enough to do to fill their time for now.