“You idiot!” I yelled and cursed, and then cursed some more. “Don’t you know how to do anything right?” I spat and backhanded the fucking imp. “You told me that there was a vampire with healing magic, and I said to make sure she was dealt with so why didn’t you shoot her when you got the chance? She was already shot once. One more good shot would have killed her.”
“I was going to, but another hunter showed up,” the imp lisped.
“And you didn’t hide yourself?”
“I did, but she could somehow see through it. She looked right at me and smiled. She did something to knock me out.”
“And when you woke up?”
“She had the gun and was reaching for me.”
“And you escaped this hunter how?”
“I jumped into the abyss. She was not a necromancer so she could not follow me.”
“Back to you being knocked out, how did she do it? Did she hit you over the head?” I asked sarcastically.
The imp shook his head. “She threw something at me. It exploded in my face.”
I sighed. Stupid, useless imp. “Where was this hunter?”
“Do you know where their new headquarter is located?”
I nodded, pulling a photograph from my pocket and showing it to him. “Do you know this vampire?”
The imp nodded. “I have seen her around. That is Skyler Henlie.”
I smirked. “Find her mother and kill her. If you are successful for once, maybe I’ll change my mind about reporting you to the boss.”
The imp bowed. “It is done,” he said and disappeared in a flash of fire and the stink of sulfur.ZARIA
“Going somewhere?” a gentle female voice asked from behind me.
“Excuse me?” I asked and stopped on the corner of Turad Lane and Sunlin Boulevard.
“I asked if you were going somewhere.”
I squinted against the bright glare of the sun and turned to look at her. “Do I look lost to you?” I asked, and then silently cursed myself for missing the fact that she was a vampire. Stupid witch, I thought to myself and scowled at her. She was wearing one of those ultra-dark sunglasses, so I couldn’t even get a clue to how hungry she was. I sniffed the air. She didn’t smell like weeks old trash, so she wasn’t a rogue either. She smelled like eucalyptus and mint, however, and that was totally weird coming from a vampire.
“No,” she said and smiled tightly. “But you had this intense look while you were walking the streets, and it made me curious.”
“I can’t think while I walk?”
“You can. But you see, these are trouble times, witch. And a witch thinking very, very hard about something during these… trouble times I find is a bad combination.”
“What are you trying to say?” I snapped.
She shrugged. What I am saying is that whatever you were thinking so hard about has just ended.”
“And why is that?” I didn’t see the move coming until it was too late. She drove her fist into my gut, doubling me over. She yanked my head back by my hair, and as I gasped for air, she shoved something into my mouth. I tried to spit whatever it was out, but she had other ideas for me. Clamping her hand over my mouth, she dragged me from view of the street. Dragging me behind a tree, she pressed me up against it. I punched, I kicked, I clawed at her, but it was no use as she trapped me with her body.
“Bite it,” she said, removing her hand from my mouth. Whatever this was, it was like sticking a tiny plastic bag filled with air into your mouth and rolling it around. It was cool and didn’t have a taste to it. I tried to spit, but again, her hand clamped over my mouth. “Bite it or I will make you.” I reached for my magic, only to abruptly release it as a warning of oncoming pain shot through my skull. “It is a nullifying spell,” she said at my wince and removed her hand. “If you try to use magic, you will only be met with pain. If you resist, the pain will increase, and eventually, you will either faint, or burst a vital vessel and die within minutes.” She tapped my cheek. “Now, pop it, Zaria, or I will compel you to obey.” She reached to the back of my neck and removed my compulsion necklace, pocketing it. Bitch, I silently hissed, and she smiled. Glaring at her, I popped the cellophane ball, and then choked as it exploded, filling my mouth with powder that was cold and tasted like fresh mint. Only, it had a slight bitter and burnt taste to it. The vampire once again clamped her hand over my mouth. With her free hand, she closed my nose, forcing me to swallow the powder or choke on the stuff. The world started spinning and a blanket of fog seem to settle around me. “You will be yourself in a few minutes. Just… relax and everything will be fine,” she said gently into my ear as she launched us into the sky and possibly to my death as darkness closed around me.
When I awoke, it was to complete darkness. I gingerly sat up, relieved that nothing was hurting. It was so dark that I couldn’t see where I was. “Hey, bitch!” I shouted. “Where have you taken me?” I stood up, and with my hands out in front of me, I slowly walked forward. I stopped when my fingers found the wall. “Anyone here?”
“I take it scary movies are not your thing,” the vampire said from directly behind me. I yelped and spun around. “In those movies, there is always a scene where the victim finds him or herself in a dark place, and the first thing they do is call out. Only, they say, [Hello, anyone there?] Not, [Hey, bitch, where have you taken me.]”
I glared at her, even though I couldn’t see her. “What do you want? And I can’t see you.” A few seconds later the light came on, and I looked up to find a single light bulb in the center of the bare room. The vampire stood across the room from me, her hands in her pockets. Her hunger filled pitched black eyes bored into mine, and I gulped.
“I want answers,” she said softly. “Like everyone else, I want answers, and you are going to give them to me.”
“What answers? I don’t have any answers.”
“That is because I have not asked you any questions yet.”
“Look, whatever your name is, I hardly know anything. I’m just a witch.”
“Oh, I think to differ. You will have answers for what I am about to ask you, and my name is Freya.”
“Are you going to torture me?”
“That depends on you, girl.”
“Will you kill me?”
“I have not made up my mind on whether I should kill you or not. Again, it all depends on you.” She slowly walked toward me, stopping an arm’s length away. “And know this. I will know if you are telling the truth or lying, so do not even try to deceive me.” I tried to judge how old she was, but it was no use. Either she was cloaking her aura, or I was a sucky ass witch. “You understand, do you not?” I grunted and shrugged. “Would you like something to eat or drink?”
I blinked at her. “No, thanks,” I said. “You’ll just poison whatever you give me.”
She chuckled. “Zaria,” she chided gently. “If I wanted to kill you, I would have not bothered with kidnapping you.”
“Fine, I’ll take my chances and have tea, if you have any.”
She nodded and flashed to a closed door to my right that I hadn’t noticed. “Coming right up,” she said, opening it and disappearing. I walked to the opened doorway and stopped. She wasn’t stupid, leaving it open like this, and I put out my hand, coming up against an invisible barrier. I lightly pushed against it and yep, it was as solid as an impenetrable wall. I stepped closer and peered out into a hallway. There were several closed doors on either side, and down the right at the end was a stair leading up into darkness. Damn, I thought and went back to my spot against the wall. Where the hell was I? “You are in my home,” Freya said a minute later as she reentered, the door closing with a snap behind her. In her hand was a steaming mug, and as she walked under the light, I could see that her white-blond hair wasn’t just blond, I could see a slight blue tint in the coloring. If that was her natural hair color… I shuddered. She was a cold, cold bitch. If she turned out to be anything but, I would die of shock alone. She stopped in front of me and handed the mug along with the coaster that was underneath it.
“Thank you,” I grumbled, taking it from her and gently sniffing it. I hesitantly took a sip, grimacing as the hot liquid burned my tongue. Swallowing, I grudgingly had to admit that it was good. It was mint tea with a hint of spice to it.
“Is it to your liking?” Freya asked, flashing away from me. I nodded. “Good. Now then, shall we get started? Or would you like to finish your drink in silence?” I shrugged and took a larger sip of my drink. A vampire suddenly appeared in the room, and I almost dropped the mug in surprise. Freya gestured to him. “This is my brother, Sven. He is here to stop me from going too far, before I am through with you.” I gripped the handle of the mug tightly as my stomach began to churn with dread. Without a word, Sven moved to the closed door and leaned casually against it, as if settling in for a show. “So,” Freya said, almost cheerful sounding. First question, where were you headed before I so rudely waylaid you from your destination?”
“I was on my way to a meeting,” I said, alternating between blowing and gulping my tea.
“A coven meeting,” I said, shrugging.
“What was the meeting going to be about?” I again shrugged but said nothing. “How many witches were at the meeting?”
“Why so many of you?”
“No idea,” I said with a sigh.
“What was the topic of discussion?”
“Let’s see,” I said thoughtfully. “What spell we’re going to learn next; which of the witches still need help with a certain spell; what we’re going to have for lunch during casual Friday; the normal stuff.”
“I see,” she said, nodding. “Who is the elder member of your coven?”
“I can’t tell you that since you’re not a member.”
“I see,” she said again, and I stiffened, draining my mug as she walked toward me. I blinked as it disappeared from my hand, and I rubbed my jeans as I began to break out in a cold sweat. “Zaria,” she said and cupped my chin in her cold hand. She tilted my head until I was looking her in the eye. “I was really hoping you would be different,” she continued. “But no,” she said, and I finally saw a reaction from her other than calm. She bared her fangs and let out a low hiss that sounded like a coiled up snake about to strike its victim dead. “You are just like the others. You are all the same. Why is that?” she asked as chills came over me. “One of these days, one of you is going to spill everything in an interrogation, and the world would tremble with delight.”
“There’s a slight problem with that,” Sven said and frowned at her.
“I know,” she said, not taking her eyes off of me. “You would not get to have your daily dose of bloodshed.”
“Precisely.” Sweat trickled down the side of my face, and was it getting hot in here? I thought with a frown. “Sorry,” he said, smirking. “Please continue.”
She released my chin and caged me in with her arms. “Did I mention that I hate repeating myself?” she asked me as ice formed in the pit of my stomach. “You see, witch, I have this… habit where, if I do not get the answers I am looking for, my victims tend to… feel hot for no apparent reason.” I stared at her in confusion, and then frowned, because it was getting hot in here. The problem was that she and Sven weren’t sweating like I was.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, my mouth suddenly going dry.
“What was the meeting going to be about?” she asked, ignoring my question and stepping back.
“I already told you,” I said and sucked in a sharp breath as the temperature increased. It was so hot that sweat was now pouring from me.
“You did,” she said. “But you are leaving something out. Something you are not telling me.” Needle pinpricks of pain erupted all over my body and I let out a gasp. “So tell me,” she said softly. “What was the main topic of discussion for this meeting?” Something deadly flashed in her eyes, and I just knew she wanted to sink those fangs into me and drain every drop of my blood.
“Why?” I asked, shuddering as the needle-like pinpricks grew a little more painful.
A low growl filled the room, and if there wasn’t a wall behind me, I would have taken a step away from her. Her fangs, which were half extended before; they were now fully out, looking oh so very, very sharp. “Witch,” she growled. “Have you taken a look around you these past weeks?” she all but hissed at me. Her hands shot out, and I suddenly couldn’t breathe as she choked me. I clawed at her hands as she stepped in close. “Who is the necromancer in charge of opening the gate?” she whispered in my ear. She released me, and I gasped, sucking in much, much needed air.
“I have no idea,” I said, gasping and leaning away from her fangs that were an inch from my ear.
She growled and jerked me back to her. “But you do know the necromancer that is in charge of your coven,” she hissed. “Who is it?”
“I don’t know,” I spluttered. “He never told me his name.”
“That is very unfortunate,” she whispered and straightened, stepping away from me. I reached for my magic, but like before, warning stab of pain shot through my skull. I cursed, groaning as my skin felt like it was on fire. That fire slowly rose, a degree at a time, until I was whimpering from the pain of it. I finally looked down at myself, to see that I was red all over. Sweat continued to pour from me as I stared at Freya.
“What did you do to me?” I asked, almost in a whisper. I had a very, very bad feeling about what she had just done, and I was praying that I was wrong.
She took in a deep shuddering breath and held it before letting it out in a long sigh. “For a witch,” she said calmly. “You do not know much, do you?” She grunted, shaking her head as if to clear her mind. “For one such as yourself, practicing the art of blood magic, I am surprised you have not the slightest idea of what is happening here.” She smiled chillingly, and right then, I knew that I was going to die. “Whoever your mentor was, he or she did not teach you much, my young witch,” she said softly, and then I screamed as blinding white hot pain ripped through me. She wasn't hurting me physically or mentally, but magically. And if I had any doubt to whether she was also a witch or not; that doubt flew right out the window as darkness, for the second time that day, closed in on me.