Winter Wars

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“I’m sorry we tried to kill you,” I say again. We sit around the island drinking coffee, tea, milk, and soda. After stopping Marcus from killing royalty, we beat feet to the kitchen—the most welcoming room in the house.

Dana Harper (vampire queen) and Trevor Price (vampire king) had been very nice about not trying to retaliate. Ethan, on the other hand, had been pissed to high hell because I let them into Westmoor Replica. He was more than a little suspicious of them. They had come without any protection and easily waltzed into our home. I knew they were out there in the forest—I could smell them—and I hadn’t said anything.

Ethan paces behind me, Ryner insisted on staying beside me while also insisting Trina stay out of the kitchen—I had to agree. I have no way of knowing just how dangerous they are and I don’t want to risk her safety. Jayson, much to his disgruntlement, was put on guard duty.

“Nah, it’s okay,” Dana says dumping honey into her tea/coffee/milk mix and stirring. “I can’t tell you how many times a year people try to kill me.”

“At least I’m not the only one,” I smile. “Sorry again. I saw you guys coming but I didn’t warn them.”

“You saw us?” Trevor asks. “How?”

“In a dream,” I wave it away. “So much was happening and it slipped my mind. What can I do for you guys? I don’t think you were lost and just looking for a place to crash.”

“Sadly not,” Trevor says eyeing his wife. “My queen thought it wise to make alliances with any on our side of this war.”

“I’m not just pretty,” she winks draining her tea. “I have ideas too.”

“Yes, my dear. Your ideas are one in a million,” The vampire king says breezily while smiling warmly at her. It make him look twenty instead of thirty two (how old he was when he died).

Dana narrows her grey eyes at him and blows her curly reddish brown hair out of her face. She suffers from the same affliction I do: tight curls with no way of working a comb through it. “Is that sarcasm I hear?”

“Of course not. I could never use such biting language against my sovereign.” Before Dana can react, Trevor turns back to me. “Marcelletta—” I repress a shudder. “—we would take great care to have a powerful pack, such as yours, on our side.”

“Flattery gets you nowhere,” Ethan mutters.

“He lies,” I say. “Flattery gets you everywhere with the right people.” Dana winks again and moves to refill her cup of tea/coffee/milk mix. “Here’s the thing, I’d really like to trust you since you both seem nice, but I have no idea if you’re lying not.”

“I’d say break out the lie detectors, but my heart doesn’t beat much nowadays.” Dana sips her tea-coffee-milk concoction while glancing around.

An idea comes to mind and I motion to Ryner. “You know what? Do us a favor and bring Trina in here. Hey, don’t look at me like that, I know what I’m doing.” Kinda. “Go get her.” He mutters something I don’t catch and goes to the dining room.

“You are being vague and yet so obvious,” Trevor smiles. “I do have to wonder what you’re up to.”

“If you’re worried about Trina being a sword wielding badass, there’s only room for one in the family and you’re looking at her.”

Dana snorts as she laughs. “I’m sorry, but you’re so cute I can’t imagine you holding any type of weapon. But her,” she says looking as Trina marches in. “I can imagine her kicking ass.” Jayson comes in behind her and takes a seat on my right.

“I can’t believe you wanted to keep me out of this,” she hisses holding out her hand for Dana to shake. “I’m in this just as much as you are. Nice to meet you.” Ah, yes, women. Perfecting the art of entirely reversing their attitudes in the presence of guests. “Katrina Winters. Call me Trina.”

“Nice to meet you,” Dana says.

“Likewise,” Trevor says taking her hand.

“Hmm,” Trina says sitting down on my left. “Well, I can’t imagine either of them being able to think up a plan to take us down while they have their own problems to deal with.”

“It seems that whatever happened has put you all at ease, but I have to say, you haven’t seemed particularly worried at all.” Trevor aims the last of his sentence at me.

“Like I said, I saw you coming,” Dana smothers her giggle and I try not to think too hard on what I said. “And after my own encounters I can say with confidence I know why you’re here aside from Dana’s idea to make alliances—which I was going to get to, so don’t start with your condescending crap, Ethan.”

“Yes,” Ethan says sarcastically. “I can imagine once you were done basking in you ignorance, your arrogance would shine through you’d get to it many months down the road.”

I swallow my irritation and flip him off behind my back. “As I was saying, I can guess that it was Matrianna that hinted you should come this way.”

“Yeah,” Dana stretched out the word. “She gives me the creeps. She laughs and smiles about the weirdest things and gave us cryptic hints.”

“My dear, you only had to listen to understand what she was saying.” The Vampire King says gently. “Keep in mind, you were thinking more about the European faction than anything else.”

“Those asshole,” his queen mutters. “Trying to kill me left and right. If I jam a cross down their throats, we’ll see who’s laughing.” She stops for a moment. “You look constipated, honey, are you okay?”

“Huh? Oh. Yes. No.” I rub my ear. “There’s something wrong.”

“If you’re worried about Lacey, she’s still asleep in the infirmary.” Trina offers.

I shake my head. My foot starts tapping the floor impatiently as I waiting for the rest of me to catch on.

“Everyone is inside,” Ryner says. “Except for Marcus, Ora, Myra, Armando, and Eric.”

“That,” I say rubbing my ear again. “Ryner, Ethan, Jayson—check on everyone patrolling.”

“Excuse me?”

“Ethan, I don’t give a damn about how you think of me as a person, but you will listen to me as your Alpha.”

He mutters something, but leaves with Ryner and Jayson. As the backdoor swings shut, my foot stops tapping the floor. “Do you hear that? No, rather, what don’t you hear?” The other three people cock their heads slightly, listening. There’s laughing and talking and fighting within Westmoor Replica, but outside…

“There is nothing,” Trevor says. “There are no animal sounds within the forest.

“You’re right,” Dana says. “There was so much noise in that forest I wanted to grab a rifle and cut down the population. Not that I would or anything.”

That’s right. There’s no noise outside. So that could really only mean one thing: enemies. I rub my ears again. Royalty is talking, but if they would just speak up a bit, I could hear them. If I could just open my eyes I could see them…

The world fades away and darkness surrounds me.

I can see them. Four of them. No, maybe five ahead of what sounds like twenty five or thirty footsteps. All of them are spread out coming from different directions. There’s one person I can see. Cruel, burning red eyes, mousy brown hair pulled into a tight bun, sickly pale skin. Slowly her name came to me: Expiry Widow.

“—to worry about.”

My head jerks back up and Dana squeaks in surprise. “We have to go. Right now.” Trevor looks intensely curious.

“What’s going on?”

“Thirty or so wolves surrounding us,” I rub my head to fend off the impending headache. “Damn it, I should have seen this. Your Majesties, this is not your battle so please, stay in here. But, if you don’t want to, come outside at your own risk. Only thing, you have to stay with me the entire time.”

“Marcy,” Trina tosses me some clothes. I nod to the vampires and leave them room. We change in record time, strap on our knife sheathes, and gather as many people that can fight. After a brief explanation, we—all thirty or forty of us—fan out within the forest. Fifteen people stay behind to take care of the kids.

Seconds later, His and Her Majesty are at my side. I take a deep breath and hopes Trina will do okay by herself. Soon enough, Ryner will find her and I won’t anything more to worry about. About a mile from the mansion, I come to a stop. I can hear them now as well as smell them.

“Marcy,” Dana says hopping from foot to foot. “Do you have a plan for fighting?”

I glance at the sky. “There won’t be a full moon for another few days, three at most, but since it’s so close we’re stronger and faster than usual. When I fight, I usually don’t have a plan, just knowledge on my enemy. Oh, and I try not to kill them.”

Trevor sighs. “Both you and my wife have soft hearts. She does wish to kill those who oppose her, yet, in the end, it is a necessary evil.”

“If I can avoid it, I will,” The wind picks up and their scents are easy to distinguish, but the smell of the forest reminds me of someone. My hand wanders to my necklace as I say, “Onyx Blacktail, I need your help.”

The ground in front of me shifts and lifts from the ground forming the shape of a woman. It falls revealing Onyx. “Hello, my wolf.”

“Expiry Widow,”

That’s all I need to say for her normally angelic face transforms into a snarl. “She’s here?”

“Not yet, but she will be soon.”

Onyx eyes Trever and Dana. “What are you?”

“Vampires,” Trevor says. “Is that a problem?”

“No, it just makes what I’m going to do useful to everyone. See, I’ve got a certain leeway with the earth. I can help you with speed, jumps, quick escapes—but it takes all of my concentration and a little trust. If you don’t trust me, I have to work harder and that would break my concentration. I’ll also be slowing down Expiry and her pack of mutts.”

“I have one more favor to ask of you,” I say apologetically. “Can get me a sword and maybe a weapon for anyone who wants one?”

Onyx winks and dissolves into dirt.

“It looks like you already have a powerful ally,” Dana says looking at the pile of dirt that used to be Onyx Blacktail. “I’ve never met a fairy before. Can she fly?”

“Yes. She has black wings. And she thinks I saved her life, but I was only repaying her.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“Onyx gave me a potion that sped up Jayson’s healing when he refused to lie down and rest. She was considered neutral before and helped anyone who was injured, but that potion shoved her to our side. Because of that, she was hunted from Massachusetts to here. She was nearly dead. Trina fought off her pursuers and she healed up here. The only thing I did was carry her back.”

“Wow, that’s pretty brave of your sister.”

My grip on my necklace tightens. “She could have very well died because I was too weak to fight for her. If I had just handled my problems better, I could have taken the hits instead…” If I had handled a lot of things better I wouldn’t be in so many precarious situations with the people I love. I take off my necklace and twisted the knives that appear in my hands.

“You don’t have anything against silver, do you?” I ask.

“My queen does not have a problem with them,” Trevor says. “But the rest of vampire kind is severely injured from it.”

“Then when you fight, avoid their weapons at all costs. Stay close.”

The dirt swirls in front of me again and Onyx hands me a sword. “And something else, I’ve found. The weapons are coated in wolf’s bane. And the only men are with the people ahead with Expiry. They rest are all women. Not human, but not wolf, vampire or fairy.”

“Amazons,” Trevor supplies. “Amazons have usually lived outside the supernatural and natural spheres. I have no doubt that there’s an ulterior motive.”

“Wonder-freaking-ful,” Dana mutters.

I secure the sword to my hip, give Onyx a two finger salute and say, “Stay close and don’t lose sight of me.” Before taking off.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of the fight. The king and queen of vampires are blurs of fists, fangs, and claws (literally, when Dana died, she had taken care of her nails and grew them to almost an inch long).

For me, I’m too angry to think as I whirl and slash my way through enemies. (You’d think they’d be better at fighting. Or maybe my pissed off aura is effecting their ability to think straight). How many times is this going to happen? How many times will people try to take my life for something I might do and hurt my friends in the process? Not something I’ve already done, but something that could happen. It’s like Julius Cesar with fangs and full moons.

I don’t use my sword as my knives are my go-to weapon. But Trina had told me that Expiry uses a sword and, while I’m pretty good at using knives against all weapons, I’d rather not be at a disadvantage. The Alphas that had kidnapped Jayson were weaponless which is why their defeat had been kinda easy. Without a shield, she must be an expert and being an Alpha longer, she stronger and faster than me. When I fight her, the only thing I can really do is hope I don’t die.

When I face her, my knives are covered in blood. Despite the situation, I can’t help but keep my eyes averted from the blades. I didn’t kill anyone, but it made me sick to see so much bloodshed.

“My, my,” she chortles. “You must be Ms. Winters the Younger.”

“Wonder how you figured that out,” I says putting my knives away. Her sword is clean, but I can only imagine the damage it has inflicted before this.

“Your sister proved me wrong, not a feat easily managed. She fought until she couldn’t, I admire that in warriors. So tell me, Ms. Winters, just what will you prove to me?”

Another reason I can’t really remember the fight, is because everything was happening so fast. Every thrust, kick, slash, parry, and punch was purely instinctual. I know that at one point I tackled Dana to keep her from being speared with an arrow (damn the archers) and that Trevor saved me from a wayward dagger.

Another time, during my fight with Expiry, she had her foot to my chest and sword above my head. My voice being the only weapon I had left, I yell for her to stop. She hesitates and I take the opportunity to kick up. My foot hits her lower back. Losing her balance, Expiry curses as I flip to my feet. And then the weird part happens. Honest to God, I’m mostly aware of what’s going on. Also honest to God, I have almost no control of my body. It’s just like when I was fighting those Alphas, when I almost killed that man and Jayson stopped me. But Jayson is nowhere to be seen.

While Expiry’s life means next to nothing to me, I can’t play God with it. It’s not mine to take. But my actions say otherwise. Not only am I fighting like my life doesn’t matter—which it doesn’t but I’m not gonna die any time soon because it would benefit the people we’re against—I fight like her life doesn’t matter.

Our dance is dangerous. Parry, thrust, block, attack. All the while, Expiry taunts me, laughs, and grins her manic grin. I know without a doubt her life means nothing to her. If she wants to die, she’ll die, but she’ll go down fighting.

She’s lost the moment her back is turned to me. Even though everything in my protests, I lurch forward and run her through. Tears prick my eyes as I jerk the sword out. Her blood runs down the blade and drips on to the ground. I twist around and kick her abdomen. Expiry flies back and slams into a tree. Leaves sprinkle down as she falls to the ground in a bloody and broken heap.

“Not bad pup,” she gasps. “You fought until the end. I admire that in a warrior.”

My body, clearly not under my control anymore steps on her wound. The cry that escapes her—guttural, like an animal screaming in pain. It rips though the deafening silence that now envelopes us making the tears come faster. I can’t stop. What meager control I might have had before vanishes. A cruel sneer twists its way onto my face.

“What will you do?” she groans. “Leave me to bleed out or put me out of my misery?”

Despite my tears, my internal panic, my heartache, I step forward. I raise my sword. I cleave her head off.

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