Smoke? Does that mean we're late? Niklaus thought. He saw Akela picking up her pace, and considered picking up his pace, but decided against it. He could Shadow-merge to make up any distance needed, and wanted to observe as much as he could before reaching the battlefield. Despite the current or recent fighting, however, he was sure Neferata was alive. If she were only marginally more powerful than Annabella and some of her other daughters Niklaus had met, and she was probably far, far more powerful than that, an invasion of ex-von Carstein assassins would not be sufficient to truly endanger her life. Complicating the mission, however, was well within the shadows' capabilities.