Hunting Shadows

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Chapter 30

They had just pulled up to the castle when a guard materialized out of the darkness holding up his hand motioning for them to stop.

“Don’t say anything; pull your hood up; keep your head down, avoid eye contact.”

Kat whispered, keeping her focus on the vampire who was approaching the window.

“State your name and business.”

“Hi there; we’re from Julie’s specialty pastries; weapons and explosives. Explosively great taste for a fraction of the price.”

Kat’s voice was sweetly almost sickeningly saccharine and she smiled indulgently at the guard who in turn raised an eyebrow and continued to glower at her.

He made to glance in the cab at her passenger, but Eryn took that precise moment to be highly interested in something on her shoe.

“I believe a Mister Phillip Michaels placed an order for delivery for today; I’ve got a blueberry pie, a variety of pastries; a weapons order and a chocolate cake.”

“Hang on; I’ll give the boss a call, make sure it’s alright with him.”

Just as he was about to turn away, his eyes darkened and he slumped to the ground. A human with glowing electric blue eyes stepped out from behind the fallen vampire. JB lit the body on fire, disinterest and disgust written on his face; he looked human except for his glowing electric blue eyes. Kat snarled and leveled the pistol she had been hiding at JB’s chest before Eryn quickly reached over and put her hand on Kat’s arm.

“Don’t shoot, you can’t kill him or harm him anyway; and that would only really piss him off. Kat, this is JB; my ex-husband. JB, this is Kat – Jayson’s daughter.”

“Oh yea, you were the pilot… nice to see you again.” He growled showing menacingly sharp teeth.

Kat snarled back, her fangs growing and her eyes blazing hatred.

“So, you’re the ass-douche who dad hates so much; now that I’ve met you, I’m beginning to see why.”

“Yea well; the feelings mutual; your dad’s an ass hat who drinks too much and has a short temper.”

“What; say that again punk and I’ll rip you a new one.”

“Sweetheart, I’d love to see you try; but like Eryn said, you can’t kill me.”

“I might not be able to kill you, but it would still give me immense pleasure to empty a clip into you.”

“I dare you.”

They glared and snarled at each other, eyes blazing and Kat clicked the safety off on the pistol; both were oblivious to the fact that Eryn was no longer in the vehicle. Eryn whistled from the doorway she was crouching in. JB and Kat looked over surprised and she motioned them over.

“If you two children are done bickering, I would like to get back on track. In case you’ve forgotten we’re here to save Jayson.”

They nodded but still glared hatred at each other. JB hated the bastard, but he couldn’t stand to see Eryn hurt and though he hadn’t cared for Kat either, she was at least more tolerable because he had thought she was human, also she had been Eryn’s best friend for years. JB left them to break into the castle.

He loved Eryn; there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for her. He had fallen in love with her because she was strong, and fiercely independent. Beautiful and charismatic and whether she realized it, through their tie he had made her immortal and even though she could siphon his powers and channel them when he went too far, she did so at great personal risk to herself.

He helped her now, because Jayson meant something to her, and even though he hated the bastard vampire mage, he respected him enough. He could make it easy for them by obliterating all the vampires, but as he had learned the hard way; people needed to fight their own battles. He disappeared into the middle realm; never leaving Eryn and Kat completely; but more like Eryn’s shadow.

“First question: what the hell is JB?”

Kat’s whisper echoed harshly down the hallway. They were creeping through the underground hallways and passageways of Ace’s castle. The walls gave off a definite chill of disuse and abandonment.

“What do you mean? JB just is…”

Eryn whispered over her shoulder, and stopped at an intersection checking both ways before continuing.

They had found the stair case leading up toward the main part of the castle and were just about to head up when Kat laid a hand on Eryn’s shoulder.

“You want to explain to me what he is? His power level is as high as my fathers. I think you owe me at least an explanation after I told you about the vampire’s tattoos. Also, you said ‘ex’ what was he before he was scary as shit?”

Kat’s eyes glowed ethereally in the darkness and Eryn’s shone with a reflective luminescence and looked yellow green in the glow of their flashlights. Eryn looked vastly uncomfortable, and kept avoiding questions when it came to JB.

“He used to be human and then he died, and made a deal with the god of the underworld and now he’s a Reaper. A being from the middle realm, working for the god of the underworld as a guardian of death; he takes the souls of those who die and sends them on to the next stage where they essentially wait for God to come back and collect them. The reason he’s stronger than your father is that he can absorb other Reapers powers. He’s killed the queen of the middle realm Lenora; and my half – Brother Tucker whose mother asked for him to be a reaper after I killed her because she murdered my daughter.”

Eryn drew in another deep breath, collecting herself and her thoughts after she had bared it all to Kat. Kat in the meantime; just stared at her in shock. Eryn began moving up the stairs, blowing the lock off the door with her pistol. Kat followed still trying to process everything. Finally, she asked if her dad knew.

“Yea he does… and as far as I know, we’ve agreed to keep it between us.”

Kat nodded in agreement; she would deal with the situation later; right now, they needed to focus on saving Jayson.

“Word of advice; kill any Blade you see.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I intend to.”

Eryn’s voice took on a dark undercurrent and her eyes spoke of murder and vengeance. Her fingers transformed into silver claws which glinted in the light of the fire sconces all along the walls.

“We’ll want to look for a laboratory or torture chamber, which will most likely be in the basement.”

“Right, we’ll just look for the neon signs that say torture chambers that way.”

Eryn chuckled, and Kat responded with her own chuckle. Something moved along the shadows of the wall, and the girls got in position. Katrina’s whip sizzled as it lashed out, wrapping around the vampire’s ankle and sweeping him off his feet.

He untangled himself with ease and leaped out of range of the backlash. Standing fully in the light now, they could see he had hauntingly striking features, a piercing gaze, and a goatee that gave him a more devil may care image. He gave Eryn a once over, noted that she was human and slid his feline amber eyes over to Kat who stood with her whip coiled.

“Hello; I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you; I’m Sebastian Michaels. Are you new here or lost? The training room is further down the hallway if you would like an escort.”

“No thanks; we’re here to see someone.”

Eryn snarled, sliding into a crouch. The vampire looked at her dismissively, a hint of fang showing when he smiled.

“The maid’s quarters are upstairs. Talk to Diana, she’ll show you around.” He slid his gaze back to Kat; more interested now. Eryn growled low, preparing to pounce on the obnoxious vampire when Kat stepped in front of her, blocking her from Sebastian’s view.

“Don’t worry about her; she’s with me. She’s no one important. My name’s Katrina Lovelace. We’re from Julie’s Specialty Pastries; explosives and weapons. Uh we were looking for the kitchens and the armoury, when we got lost.”

She extended her hand, using the name she used whenever she didn’t want people to know who she was related to; lest things become difficult in case she mentioned that Jayson was her father.

They had made a lot of enemies over the past 900 some years and Kat had learned that some enemies of her father would play nice on the surface only to become venomous vipers behind closed doors. Her voice had gone sweetly saccharine again, and she batted her lashes coyly. Eryn thought she was going to retch; but remained as impassive and non-threatening as possible. Picking up on Kat’s improve she stood behind Katrina with her head down, still wary of every little thing.

“Ah, I see; well then allow me to be a gentleman and give you the tour of the castle. I shall help you find the kitchens. Even your ‘Pet’ can come along.”

Eryn growled low and threatening, moving to attack him again, but Kat innocently stepped on her foot, continuing to smile at the Blade. Eryn returned to glowering, but made no further moves.

Sabastian offered his arm to Katrina, who took it gingerly allowing the handsome vampire to lead them further into the haunting castle.

“There are vampire’s watching us… be careful.”

Eryn breathed, hoping Kat was paying attention as well. Kat inclined her head, noting that she had heard and Eryn breathed out a little easier.

Shadows moved, and every mirror they passed had dark swirling colors in them; they made Eryn sick when she passed by.

I’ve found Jayson; he’s in the basement in a room off the right hallway. Did you want me get him?”

JB’s gravelly voice echoed eerily through her head, and she nudged Kat with her foot. Kat stumbled and Sebastian caught her, glaring at Eryn over Kat’s shoulder; a cold, calculating look that made Eryn think of bugs pinned to corkboard for study.

“I think it’s time, your ‘pet’ met up with the rest of the house keeping staff.” And with that Sebastian rang a small bell he kept tucked into the sleeve of his suit. A woman in a French maid outfit no older than 25 appeared a moment later from a hidden stairwell behind a rug decorating the castle wall; she curtsied politely keeping her eyes downcast.

“You rang, Master Sebastian.”

“Diana; please show this one, to the maid’s quarters and see to it that she’s made comfortable and returned to her owner by the end of the night. Thank you.”

The maid bowed again, and held her hand out to Eryn. Kat had recovered from Eryn tripping her and moved to object.

“She’s mine; I would prefer it if she stayed with me.”

“Nonsense; she’ll be given appropriate treatment while she’s here. Diana will make sure she’s comfortable. And it will give us a chance to get to know each other better.”

His smile was devilishly charming, his amber eyes eerily reflecting the firelight from the sconces on the wall. Kat looked to Eryn for confirmation; Eryn nodded just once, imperceptibly; keeping up the ruse and avoiding eye contact with Kat.

“Can I talk to her about it?”

“How delightfully charming; asking your pet’s opinion about what’s good for them. By all means; I’ll wait here patiently.”

Sebastian laughed a charming sound full of mirth. The maid still stood with her eyes cast down, her hands folded neatly one over the other in front of her.

Kat smiled indulgently before taking Eryn by the arm and stepping further down the hallway.

“What do you think we should do?

“I think we should keep up the ruse; if we can get in and around without having to fight the entire army than it’ll be a lot safer. I’ll go with the maid, you stay with Sebastian; that guy gives me the chills.”

“Alright, but how are we going to find and rescue Jayson?”

“JB found him; I’ll go find him while you keep an eye on the vampire. I’ll come find you after Jayson is safe.”

“Alright; be safe, I don’t trust the maid either.”

“Here; take these.”

Eryn handed Kat a handful of small but powerful explosive balls, they were stable until activated and they would only activate when Eryn pressed the trigger. They turned back to face Sebastian who watching them curiously and stood leaning against the wall; the maid still had not moved.

They rejoined the vampire and the maid, Sebastian offering his arm once again to Kat, while the maid waited patiently for Eryn to follow her.

Sebastian led Kat down the hallway and disappeared around the corner. Eryn glared after them, before the maid cleared her throat and gestured for Eryn to follow.

“So, are you human or vampire?”

“Human; just like you.”

Eryn was surprised the maid responded. The hallway was brightly lit, and barren of windows; just walls and carpet. It was a hidden servant’s exit way that led to other places in the castle.

“If I asked or ‘needed’ help, would you rat me out?”

“What an odd question.” Diana looked back at her, giving her a funny look. “What do you mean by that?”

Eryn glanced around; her eyes going to the corners making sure the hallway wasn’t being watched or bugged before she gritted her teeth.

“I’m not Katrina’s pet; I’m her best friend; we’re also not here to deliver pastries and weapons. We’re here to rescue my friend who’s being held captive by Ace.”

Diana blinked slowly at her taking it all in.

“Do you know where they would keep prisoners?”

“Of course; prisoners are kept in the basement, in cell block A and B depending on how many there are. Those who are classified as ‘special’ are moved to Chamber 4.”

“Great; now what I need to know is if you’re going to help me, or hinder me.”

This was where she met with resistance in the form of Diana looking guiltily away.

“I have to do what my Master says…”

“Your Master said to make me comfortable; didn’t he?”

“Yes… but he said to take you to the maid’s quarters.”

“I know, but I would really appreciate it if you could take a detour to chamber 4 and the prison blocks before you do that… please?”

Diana worried her lip, indecision and fear playing in her eyes. The Blades thought of humans as cattle and nothing more; a food source to be owned, drained, and discarded when they were no longer desirable. Diana was young; pretty with her large round brown eyes, shiny, silken brown hair tied back in an elegant bun and a shapely figure; not fat but curvy and the outfit she had on was designed to amplify and show off those curves and enhance her cleavage.

“Please; in return, I’ll help you anyway I can.”

Diana looked up at her at that; surprise coloring her cheeks.

“Alright; I’ll take you to the basement; on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“You take me with you when you leave.”

“Done, and thank you for this.”

Diana nodded, and then started walking down another hallway; leading Eryn through a maze of hallways and doors and down stairs and more hallways and doors and stairs everything looking the same bland color as the first hallway and Eryn was beginning to worry that the maid had gotten her lost.

“Why do you want to leave so badly?”

Eryn asked after a while.

“They do terrible things to the people who work here. It’s dangerous to be human around here.”

Diana wouldn’t say anything more on the subject but her eyes had taken on a haunted quality and she seemed withdrawn.

“How is it that you are not Lady Katrina’s pet or servant?”

“Kat’s my best friend; she would never do anything to change that. Vampires don’t own humans in the outside world. To be honest; vampires don’t really exist at all except in movies or books or on television.”

“That must be nice.”

“It’s not all fun and games with the humans either, humans are just as bad if not worse than vampires.”

“I understand; but I have been here for so long; that I forget the outside world.”

“Just out of curiosity… how long have you been here?”

“A few years now.” Was all she responded before going clamming up and continuing down the hallway.

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