• Chapter one

    I was sitting in a small window of my home, trying not to think. The light spring breeze blew some Sakura petals off the trees, into my window which made me look around the small, small room I was in. I guess you could call it mine…but what’s the point? The room consisted of a sorry excuse for a bed, drawings me and my friends had made, and a pile of clothes. Most of my clean ones were stacked in my closet…sort of. I sighed and slid off my window sill, I walked out of my room to the “living” room. Pictures littered the walls and the small room had only a chair and mats for the rest of us. A loud slam against the wall made me aware I wasn’t the only one in the room. My father was now home, and I could tell tonight he was very drunk. Holding an alcohol bottle in one hand and leaning against the wall with the other. I ran to my room as fast as I could, but even though the space was small he caught the back of my long brown hair before I could totally escape. “It’s your entire fault this family has fallen apart.” He said as his hand fell across my face with an awful slap. I felt tears fill my eyes but I would not cry. He let me go so I slammed my door in his face and ran to the other side and fiddled with my window lock and gulped, I then heard someone fiddling with my doorknob but instead of anyone coming in I heard my dad scream and run off. I laughed, but only a small giggle. Then I got really scared, my heart thudded so loud I swore the world could hear it. It thudded in my head and my ears making my vision pulse all in all I became very scared that was something unusual for me if something scared my dad when he was drunk then there was something I should be scared of too. I advanced slowly towards the barricaded door. As I reached out to open it up someone grabbed my shoulder. I jumped and screamed and kicked and hit and when I opened up my tightly closed eyes I saw I was fighting air. I laughed, sighed and reached for the doorknob one more time but now instead of someone grabbing me I heard a voice.
    “You should stay away from doors.” I turned and saw the most gorgeous boy with skater long hair that was a deep set gold color. He was wearing a black shirt and pants. But the feature that caught my attention was he deep and beautiful green eyes. I forgot how breathe for a few seconds but then I gasped and made it look like he only scared me.
    “And what if I get curious?” I asked shyly.
    “Curiosity killed the cat you know.” He said taking a step towards me,
    “Um I would like to see behind that door, if you don’t mind.” I said grabbing the handle and slightly turning it. Before I could blink he was at my side and flinging me away into the wall. I couldn’t breathe and trying to made it fell like I was gasping fire I sat up and clutched my aching stomach. The pain had all gone into my head. And the boy was laughing at my pain.
    “You humans are so confusing.” He said with a bit of a laugh in his voice still.
    “Oh ******** you.” I said gasping, still clutching my stomach as I struggled to stand up.
    “I know I would enjoy that but I don’t think you would.” He said advancing towards my still hunched over figure.
    “Yeah you only wish. So stay the hell away from me” I said backing into a corner, he only laughed and came closer to me. I looked at the small bottle by my bed, a very superstitious friend of mine told me that I should have a bottle of holy water somewhere. so she gave me some. I slowly bent to grab it but he saw right through me and flung me over his shoulder. I screamed and pounded my fists against his back, I kicked and screamed and punched. I even tried to bite but he told me it tickled. I tried everything I knew to get away, nothing was working. he jumped out the window and began running with me away far, far away. I took a long look at my house not knowing that it was the last time I would see it in a long time. But I wasn’t sad. I would not miss my “home” no. not even a little.
    By the time I stopped trying to get away, I was so tired I yawned every couple of minutes. The boy seemed to notice.
    “Don’t you dare fall asleep on me.” He warned
    “Whatever.” I said following with a yawn. Then I saw a huge hulk of a figure following us. “Not to alarm you or anything but there’s someone following us…Or something. and………I kind of have to go to the bathroom.” The huge bulk was getting closer and closer but the strange part was the yellow eyes that were burned into my memory forever and an eternity to come. The eyes seemed to catch me and hold me there they hypnotized me and kept me in the keep. A sudden jolt brought me back to reality,
    “Hey keep your eyes to the ground and hold on I’m going to try to shake him. As for the bathroom break your going to have to hold it.” The boy said giving me an evil grin
    “Hang on your going to do whAHHHHH-“my sentence turned into a wild scream as he jumped into tall buildings and fell from tremendous heights all at the same time. I suppressed my screams and dug my nails into his shoulders as I watched everything bounce up and down. “I’M GOING TO BE SICK AND YOU BOUNCING UP AND DOWN DOES NOT HELP THE FACT THAT I HAVE TO PEE!” then it all became a wild scream-scene again.
    “You get sick on me and you’ll regret it. and I told you…hold it.” He said, tapping my butt lightly, taking a sudden turn that really upset my stomach. Now I knew I was going to be sick, and I couldn’t say anything. I’d stopped screaming. It was useless. When we slowed enough that I could breathe, I did NOT want to. It hurt and made me start coughing something up that tasted metallic.
    “You Idiot it’s all that screaming. You probably damaged your throat or something. And I’m sorry, for what its worth.” He put me down in front of what looked like a church. But was so much more. I’d never seen anything more beautiful in my life. He grabbed me around my waist and forced me to walk forwards into the building and through the shadows. It was dark and it smelled of earth. My kidnapper opened a door ever so gently and literally threw me inside. “how rude” I said under my breath. I tripped over something and fell into a bed. It looked pretty big. I gasped and stood up to face the boy.
    “What’s going on?” I demanded “Why did you bring me here.”
    “Because that ‘shadow’ you saw was no ordinary shadow I should know I live with him. Oh… I’ve been curious what is your name?” The boy said throwing me once more onto the bed.
    “m-Max. you?” I said
    “My name is Conner, nice to finally meet you m-Max.” He said pulling a chair around and sitting in it backwards. Smiling that deliciously evil smile that made me want to drool everywhere, (luckily for me I didn’t) “ you had to use the restroom?”
    He asked in a voice like velvet. I blushed. “no not any more” his eyes got big. And he got a disgusted look on his face.” EW! WHAT!! GRROSE!!! YOU DIDDENT!!!!” he threw off his jacket reveling a torso that looked like it was carved from marble. Perfect, fit for the gods. Then I realized what he meant. “oh no not that. The urge just went away. I didn’t mean to confuse you I’m sorry.” He sighed a relived sigh and got up off the chair, “Where are you going? What’s going on?” I demanded.
    “Relax; Jeez I’m just going out for a minute, nothing to get worked up about.” He said opening the door with an annoyed look on his face.
    “What about me? What the hell am I supposed to do?” I asked sternly.
    “Entertain yourself till I get back…Oh but don’t leave the room. Bathroom’s that one.” Conner said pointing to a door on the right. I nodded and he left locking the door behind him, Great now what? I sighed and looked inside the bathroom the urge had returned. And it went away again as I looked inside, everything was clean and glowing. Everything (‘cept the toilet) was super sized. I closed the door and flopped on the bed, this time yawning staring up at the ceiling I finally dozed off and fell asleep on the overly comfortable bed. When I woke up the sun was pouring into the window over the bed right on to my eyes. I covered my eyes and rolled over groaning, and covered my head and rolled over again. Then remembering last night I shot up and looked around and blinked the sun was blinding and I rolled off the bed with a screech I fell and that’s about when I became accustomed to the light. Then I looked around and there was only Conner with a flashlight and he was giggling.
    “Not funny.” I said getting up and snatching the flashlight from him. He looked a little surprised. “teh hellz wrong witchu?” I demanded crossing my arms.
    “What the hells wrong with you?” He said mocking me.
    “Its not what the hells wrong with you its Teh hellz wrong witchu.” I corrected
    “Are you black or something?” Conner said trying to insult me.
    “Nope I’m white and you iz neon white.” I said imitating the African American gangsters. “And you iz ignorant so stay white.” I said also sticking my tongue out at him he moved forward and pretended to bite it and I backed up and stuck my tongue back in my mouth. I sat down on the bed and sighed then yawned and laid down. I rolled over and prepared to go back to sleep. Conner sighed and then pushed me out of bed I landed with a thud on the floor and sat up a gave him a lazy look.
    “What do you want now?” I said right before I yawned a second time.
    “C’mon lets go watch a horror film.” Conner said while dragging me through the hallways that had strange scratch marks and worn paintings that seemed to stare at you as you past. Doors that had engravings and slash marks on them finally after going though the pre-fright night Conner opened a door and inside was a huge T.V. and a couch and many other things, Conner threw me onto the couch and picked out a million horror flicks and popped one after the other in. By the time the sun was peeking in the room I was clinging to Conner digging my nails in to his shoulder every time I got scared or he moved. I was shaking and unblinking, he giggled and my nails dug deeper into his shoulder and my legs wrapped tighter to his knees if anyone had walked in at that time they would have thought we were lovers. When he had run out of movies Conner tried to get up but I wouldn’t let him.
    “No more please.” I begged shaking and fighting so I could talk. My heart was beating hard and fast, Conner seemed to laugh at this and got up and put away the movies and brought out many more. I gasped and tried to run away but Conner laughed and pinned me to the couch smiling evilly. If I wasn’t so determined to get away I would have been panicking because he had jumped on top of me to pin me down I kicked and punched and pushed him away and tried to get away. I flipped over and tried to escape but Conner was staying put on top of me. Then someone cleared they’re throat I looked up and those yellow eyes that had been following us were staring at us. Conner sat up and smiled with a oh-hello-I-didn’t-see-you-there look.
    “Hello Sebastian Sorry I was watching some horror films with the girl you were stalking.” Conner said still giving that evil smile
    “Umm I have a stalker?” I said amazed. Conner flipped me over again so I was facing him and got seriously close to my face I blushed and my heart was pulsing in my head he wasn’t looking at me he was staring at the look on the other boys face. I had no idea what to do or say well until someone ran their hand over my behind yea then I knew I threw a punch as hard as I could at him no I didn’t miss but he looked a bit taken back I sat up and tried to get away at least away from that particular room. As I got up and tried to exit the boy grabbed my arm he had a muddy red hair color and soft yellowish eyes that were gazing at me. He then grabbed my arm with his other hand and put his now free hand around my waist and wrapped me in a hug. I was at a loss for words Conner didn’t seem to like this for I heard growling from behind. The boy stopped hugging me and stepped in front of me and also began to growl.
    “Would you two freaks knock it off?” a woman’s voice said from behind in an annoyed tone. “We all have had more than enough of your quarrelling.” I turned around to see the girl with black dog ears and a black wolf’s tail leaning on the doorway. “What’s this all about this time? Huh? Oh a human girl brilliant its not like there’s tons of them everywhere you turn.” The girl was being sarcastic and her brown eyes then looked me up and down she gave a flip of her brown hair and scoffed. The boys (both of them) looked at her and hung their heads.
    “Sorry Kiyo.” They said shamefully
    “Good now Conner stop picking on Sebastian and Sebastian what did I tell you about stalking human women?” The girl said sternly
    “Sorry” they each said again as soon as she left the room Conner pushed past me and the other boy to leave the other boy glared at him and when he was gone he hung his head at me.
    “That was Kiyoko she’s Conner and my sister Heh she’s like our babysitter.” He said “I’m Sebastian by the way.” He held out his hand I looked at it and gave him a skeptical look.
    “What the hell is she?” I asked “And what are you and Conner?”
    “Kiyo, Well luck didn’t smile on her she is a mix of Wolf and dog Demons.” He started “I am a wolf demon and Conner is a dog…Stupid mutt.” He added and I had to laugh even a little. It made Sebastian smile I had no idea what next he sighed and looked to the window, I hadn’t noticed the sun was being blocked out by rain and lots of it.
    “Um, Wow we are getting a lot of rain!” I said cheerily he nodded “Where’s your parents?” that was a sore spot he hung his head and then shook his head and grabbed my hand.
    “C’mon we better get you home.” He picked me up bridal style and jumped out the window into the storm I was getting majorly wet and soon I was cold too. My teeth chattered and I gripped onto Sebastian tightly but when we stopped suddenly I looked about…it wasn’t my house no even close. Sebastian turned around to face some shadows they had cat ears and tails. Sebastian put me down and began growling, the shadows seemed to look at me and say ‘fresh meat’ I could have sworn that they wanted to eat me Heh, Heh but that’s not possible is it? Yes, yes it was, so I backed up until I reached the edge of the building. God forbid a building where if you jumped off of it, it wouldn’t freakin kill you. Of course that must make the suicidal idiots insanely happy. Sebastian was talking or barking at the weird cat creatures and they were hissing back, I couldn’t make out what they were saying. So when they backed off and ran away I thought it was over. Sebastian came over to me in a hurry and threw me over his shoulder and told me to watch his back. I looked about in the rain but saw nothing no one not a thing I sighed and when we reached back to the weird-a** church looking thing he flung me inside and ran to Kiyo. They talked and I sat right where I had been flung Kiyo looked at me with a great this is entirely your fault look. I shrugged and pretended not to notice I looked at the interestingly boring scratch marks and noticed they matched Kiyo and Sebastian’s nails. I shuddered and tried not to think too much about anything to serious. I heard some cats hissing and yowling outside. I got up and looked out one of the windows, there were tons of shadows with their red eyes staring at me. Someone grabbed me and dragged me away from the wide window. Conner was holding me and pinning me away from the window
    “When there is a war going on over humans the human is much safer away from the windows.” Conner said “and in the watchful eyes of dog demons like myself.”
    “Conner” Sebastian growled and Kiyo rolled her eyes “Kiyo Conner’s being mean again.” He then whined.
    “You know what?” Kiyo said in a matter of factly tone “I have an idea I take…I’m sorry what was your name?”
    “Max.” I said as she grabbed me and pulled me away from the two boys.
    “Yes thank you I’ll take Max and you two can fight to the death for her.” She said with a grin “How does that sound?”
    “Horrible!” I gasped she chuckled at my reaction I looked at the boys who were silently growling at each other. I walked up inbeetween them and pushed them apart . “Knock it off you two I mean it or I will leave.”
    “Leaving now would be suicide.” Conner said grabbing me around my waist and pulling me to his other side laughing at Sebastian who was gaping and trying to pull me to his side. I walked away from them both shaking my head Kiyo grabbed my hand and pulling me behind her.
    “So the pussykats from the other side of the city want to expand huh? Well we’ll fight and win you though Max” She said “You will be locked in a room probably mine because both boys cant behave around you so mine maybe.” She was staring intensly at the boys who were looking gultily to the ground. “Mine it is” she confirmed and grabbed my arm to lead me down the hall; I had to jog to keep up with her quick steps. She stopped at a door that was engraved with cupids, hearts, clouds and arrows I gasped she looked at me weird.
    “Your door its really pretty!” I exclaimed feeling like a child Kiyo smiled and opened the door to reveal a room that was fueled by imagination. It was red and black on the walls the walls were red but they had black paint and drawings all over them and the drawings were beautiful they were almost like Kanji but more loose and all over the place and the bed was a simple small twin bed that had the red blankets and black sheets the pillow was red with the black drawings engraved on it. There was a elegant bookcase that was huge and took up a single wall and it was filled with books. There was a door to a closet and one to the bath room. I stood in the doorway gaping at the sight.
    “Come in” Kiyo said from inside the room “I wont bite.” I walked in looking at all the sights and as I looked up I noticed small things hanging from the ceiling little Kanji symbols for love, peace, courage, and wisdom I smiled and she smiled proud of herself and her artwork.
    “So whose room was I in before?” I asked
    “You weren’t it was a spare room.” Kiyo said matter-of-factly and patted me on the shoulder “Your so far my favorite that Sebastian and Conner brought home.” She said and walked out of the room closing and locking the door behind her. I sat in the room looking about I sat down on the bed feeling how different it felt from the other, it moulded to your shape and made it comfortable to sit or lay on. I hoped Kiyo wouldn’t be mad that I had fallen asleep on her bed. When I woke up the sun (the real sun) was peeking through the window that was right above the bed, I had no idea how long I was asleep so I walked to the door and tried to open it but it was still locked I shrugged and went to use the bathroom after taking care of my duities I walked to the door and sat by it wondering how long a fight could go on and how long I would be stuck in the room I thought about wars that lasted for years and hoped it wouldn’t be that long but then again I thought they wouldn’t just throw me into a room unless they thought they could take care of something like that quickly I began to worry and fear for they’re lives I thought they were kinda cool and hoped they weren’t dead I had grown attached to them but then as I got up someone opened the door to my face.
    “Max!” Sebastian yelled to the room
    “Recovering” I said coming out from behind the door holding my nose he sighed and closed the door behind him he fell to his knees holding his side. I looked at him and realized he was bleeding badly. “Whats going on” I demanded looking at his wounds
    “Kiyo’s got them backed up to there territory and Conner making sure everything is secure and there are no more.” He grunted biting his lip to keep from crying out. Looking over his wounds I noticed any normal human would be dead by now.
    “You, your bleeding.” I said then feeling stupid for stating the obvious he nodded looking touched that I care even a little. “Is everyone else hurt this bad?” I asked worried
    “Nah Conner holds back and Kiyo thinks…everyone tells me I charge in without thinking.” He said breathing harder I quickly ran into the bathroom looking for a first aide kit or even a washcloth something to mop up the blood with I found a towel and hoped it was good enough and began to clean him up. He looked at me and pushed the towel away but I was persistent and kept trying to press the towel on to the wound he pushed it away and I got frustrated so I shoved the towel into the wound making him gasp and groan.
    “Sorry but let me help you,” I said moving his hand out of the way to get to the wound. “How long were you fighting?” I asked wondering
    “All day and night, ooh ow!” He gasped yanking away from me and the towel I grabbed on to him to keep him still. “That hurts!” he yelled at me
    “Stay still and it wont hurt so much!” I yelled back he yanked away and I fell on top of him as I threw the bloody towel away from me and wiped at my now bloody face I heard someone clearing they’re throat from the door. Conner was standing in the doorway holding the towel which I guess I had thrown at him. He scowled at Sebastian who was dealing with excruciating pain and flinching from it. Sebastian pushed me into a sitting position so he could get up and hold his wound I snapped to reality and ran to Conner to grab the towel and mop up the blood and cover his wound.
    “Conner, Sebastian” I started watching what I was doing and not making eye-contact with them. “What were those things?” I asked then ripping the towel into strips to wrap around the wound to keep it from bleeding anymore.
    “They’re the cat demons that live on the other side of town.” Conner said bending next to me and helping me rip the towel.
    “They are very territorial and want to expand into our land right now Kiyo’s in charge but just wait.” Sebastian said confidently but then Conner shoved the towel into the wound making him flinch and howl in pain.
    “Hey!” I said sternly “I wont let you two fight each other to the death so no fighting or hurting each other please!” I said taking the towel from Conner to wrap Sebastian in it. “I feel like a toy you two brothers are fighting over!” I finished and knocked them both over the head.
    “Oh good Sebastian’s ok.” Kiyo said walking into the room looking at the towel I had used to mop up the blood. “ He fought hard and long I’m surprised and like always Conner finished up now where did you get the towel?” I smiled nervously her face fell to a sigh “Should’ve figured” she shook her head to bend into the group to look at my handiwork which was pretty good if I do say so myself. Kiyo seemed to think so too. “Well boys this one I think you guys can keep this one I like her.” She said walking off and winking at Sebastian who winced or winked I cant tell which because at that instant Conner elbowed him in the side and scowled at him I think he was jealous that I was bandaging Sebastian up and not him. I had to restrain laughing at there jealousy, I got up and shook my head.
    “So um, what now,” I asked looking about Kiyo looked at me then at the boys.
    “I guess you could stay here…” she said shrugging and walking out Sebastian got an excited look.
    “You should totally bunk with me!” Sebastian cried out happily then winced and held his side.
    “With how much your bleeding probably.” I said bending down to finish wrapping him up with the towel.
    “NO!!!” Conner basically screamed and grabbed my arm yanking it away from him making me fall onto him but then Sebastian grabbed my other arm and pulling me and I have to say for someone whose injured he sure is energetic and strong. As they fought over me I sat there thinking about how my life took this sudden turn. From normal high school sophomore to being fought over by a dog demon and a wolf demon how perfect. I just sat there until Kiyo came in and told them that I would be getting my own room. Luckily for me because they might have ripped me apart from how hard they were pulling. I got up and ran behind Kiyo who watched me then sighed.
    “Ok you two Sebastian I want you in your room in bed healing Conner I want you bandaging up his wounds with actual bandages.” Kiyo said then grabbed my arm and I went jogging with her intensely quick steps. I huffed and puffed to keep up, and then she stopped in front of a door Sebastian hobbled, also very quickly…maybe it’s a demon thing, over to the door to the right.
    “Sweet! Your rooms next to mine!” He exclaimed happily. I nodded and Kiyo smiled at him and I opened the door it was a blank room just a bed and a dresser and so on and so forth I nodded at my surroundings it was much bigger than the other room that I had at my dad’s I smiled and turned around as Kiyo walked in.
    “Its not much of a room but with some paint and a shopping spree we can fix it up right.” Kiyo said looking about then looking at me. “Some nice Kanji marks maybe or like Sebastian’s room swords or like Conner’s you can not do anything.” I nodded in thought She nodded with me imaging the possibilities. “Well anyway shopping spree first that bed will stay but since it’s pretty bare we can pick out some nice sheets and blankets for it.” I liked what she talked to me about my own room endless possibilities for what it looks like I was starting to like this place more and more. The shopping spree was basic enough we ran through numerous stores looking for something good for my room. I guess you could say I got a little bit of everything and anything really. The end result was perfect, My room was now complete. The bed was green and black my two favorite colors the wallpaper was black with silver bubbles all over I had whirligigs all over the place. Black ones, red ones and even green ones, My room was a wind haven. I looked around at my handiwork and smiled Kiyo looked about nodded too.
    “Not the type possibility that I was thinking of but hey it works.” She said the Décor and picking it out took all day so now the sun was ready to set sadly my room had no windows so all the lights were on and…not to hard to imagine but I got bored so I walked out of my room and began walking around the hallways and all when I got lost…I had never been around this place before and so it came as no surprise I wandered about till I was tired and discouraged.
    “hey Max” someone called to me I turned and saw Conner coming towards me. “You lost?” he asked me walking up to me.
    “No…well…kinda…um…yea I am.” I said hanging my head in shame he sighed and shook his head while rolling his eyes.
    “Humans cant even remember which directions they go.” He said and grabbed my arm yanking me up.
    “Hey, hey, hey Be gentile! Easy with the goods” I said “You have been rough and tough and yanking me about and pushing me about be easy remember I am human!” He looked at me while I glared at him his hand fell down my arm to my hand. He stared silently for almost a moment then turned away to lead me down many different hallways back to my room he threw me into the door and began to walk away.
    “Thank you.” I said “For taking me back to my room at a slow pace.” I smiled at him and he looked slowly at me then quickly looked away and shook his head. I couldn’t imagine what was in his head at that instant but not that it mattered I was back at my room so I walked in and fell asleep. The bed covering that was so comfortable a very good choice on my part I woke up the next mourning feeling hungry and confused it took me a minute to figure out where I was and what had happened but then the smell of food allured me down four hallways and through three rooms till I found a kitchen and Sebastian was in the kitchen making food just the smell was making my mouth water. He turned to see me and he smiled and continued what he was doing.
    “Good mourning Max,” Sebastian said “What’s your problem? Never seen a man cook before?” I nodded not only in amazement but I was also really hungry I couldn’t stop staring he handed me a steaming plate of eggs, bacon and sausage I looked at it then grabbed it slowly and put it down quickly “A problem?” Sebastian said watching me with interest.
    “It was too hot.” I said he mumbled something. “What was that?” I asked almost accusingly.
    “Nothing, nothing at all.” He said laughing I had no idea what he was laughing at I didn’t think I looked that funny.
    “So where’s Kiyo?” I asked waiting for the food to cool down.
    “Oh she doesn’t normally get up till after 10:00.” Sebastian said giving me an attractive smile and sitting down on the counter I stared for a minute then took a retake.
    “10:00? What time is it?” I asked giving him a stare
    “bout round 8:30 something.” He said thinking a little.
    “What?” I said in disbelief I couldn’t believe what I was hearing it was too early for me to be up I hung my head but my stomach protested. I blushed now incredibly embarrassed
    “Here.” Sebastian said handing me the plate. “ I think its cooled enough to eat by now.” He smiled a gorgeous smile and gave me the directions to the dining room. I followed his directions and ate the food fast and finished and sighed then I heard someone behind me.
    “Were you hungry or what?” Sebastian said sneaking up on me, “If you want there’s more” he leaned on the table looking at me happily “Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies but no one around here really eats so its food for waste but lucky you came around now I don’t have to throw it all away.” I stood up amazed
    “WHAT!!!!!” I yelled I was never allowed to waste food and around here they did it all the time?? No fair!! “You waste food? That s**t costs money!” I yelled at him he seemed surprised then his wide-eyed expression became a warm beautiful smile.
    “You know there still is more would you like to help me eat it?” He asked happily I smiled and then got a really good idea.
    “Bet I can eat more than you.” I said “And the first plate does count.”
    “Alright your on!” He said and brought in all the food he had made we piled our plates with as much as they could carry and dug in.