“Do I want to know where she is going?” I asked Tristan, as he stared at the opened doorway Freya had just exited with a cold, deadly calmness about her that I could feel from across the room.
“Did you know she has a witch in her basement?” he growled, glancing at me.
I mentally blinked. “Sorry?”
He nodded. “That is where she is now.”
“Huh,” I said, frowning. “I would’ve scented another witch here.”
“Not if she has the room spelled.”
I nodded. “True. Would you like me to spy on her?” I asked and smirked as he glared at me. “I think I will. I’m curious to know who this necromancer is myself.”
He grunted. “You do that.”
“You will be doing…?”
“Updating the others,” he hissed and was gone.
“Well then,” I said to empty air and walked out of Freya’s magical cell, closing the door behind me.
I stopped, looking around the living room. There was no carpet, but there were a couple of midnight blue rugs that covered half of the cream-colored wood floor. There were a couple of black couches, a twenty-inch TV, a black recliner, and a long rectangular table with a white cloth over it. On it were several bowls of different sizes, bags and bags of different color powders, packages of seeds, roots, and herbs ranging from clovers, bloodroots, mint leaves, basil leaves, parsley leaves, rosemary and more. There were vials of multicolored liquid, and some of them contained blood—human blood, vampire blood, and even demon blood. There were also spoons of all sizes. The table was overflowing with the stuff, and I smiled. Of course, what I was seeing was just a tiny fraction of what Freya could do. Though she did not practice necromancy, she was just as deadly, just as dangerous. On a smaller table beside the couch were stacks of newspapers, a three-inch red binder, a couple of portfolios, a couple of notebooks and notepads, and a cup filled with pens, pencils, highlighters and markers. Her home was filled with the scent of herbs, and just underneath that was the scent of blood. She had also turned this entire place into a huge trap, and if I had been an intruder—whether that be a vampire, shifter, human, witch, or demon—I would’ve set off all kinds of nasty surprises, because all around me were runes—most of them only visible to her. To say the least, as a magic user myself, I was very proud of her, of what she had accomplished throughout her long, long life, and she did not take no for an answer, as she had proven to me three thousand some odd years ago. I walked into the kitchen, and I smirked as I came upon the same things that were out in her living room, apart from the couches and TV of course. In here, there were bundles of roots and herbs everywhere. On the stove was a kettle, and beside it on the counter was a small bowl of paprika and poppy seeds. Going to her refrigerator, I opened it to find shelves after shelves of bagged blood. There were also a couple packs containing twelve bottles of water. Closing it, I turned and stared at her white cabinets. Shaking my head, I walked to the back door and peered out into the night. Outside, as far as the eye could see, was nothing but trees. Turning, I ignored the stairs leading up to the second floor and walked down the hall, passing the guestrooms, bathrooms, and closets. At the end of the hall, I stopped before a closed door. I opened it slowly, and when no flying daggers came at me, I opened it wider and stepped through it. Willing the door to close behind me, I went down the stairs. At the bottom of the steps, I looked around the wide opened space. Following Freya’s presence off to the right, I came to a stop before a wall. Praying I wasn’t going to be blown into bits, I knocked on it. There was a hollow sound, and I frowned. A few seconds later Freya appeared, seeming to step from the wall itself just a little to my right. Her hands covered in blood—the sweet scent of it filling my senses—she looked at me, her eyes glazed over. “It is an illusion.” I nodded as she moved aside. I moved to where she was standing and walked into the wall—my skin tingling as I passed through it. The opened doorway was about ten feet away from me, and I walked toward it, Freya following a couple of steps behind. As we walked down another flight of stair, the door swung shut with a click. At the bottom was a long hallway, and on either side were several closed doors. “Sixth door on the left,” she said as she past me. I followed her to it, and she opened it, stepping inside. Another tingle of magic washed over me as I followed her into the room. Closing the door, I shoved my hands into my pockets and leaned against it as she walked toward the moaning witch. She was so covered in blood that I couldn’t tell what color her hair was, but her hazel eyes were staring daggers at Freya.
“How long have you had her down here?” I asked.
“A couple of days,” Freya hissed, and a blade suddenly appeared in her hand. “She has decided not to talk.”
I nodded. “Please continue. Pretend that I am not here.”
“Feel free to step in at any time,” she said, putting the tip of the blade under the witch’s chin and lifting her head, until they were looking each other in the eye. “Zaria,” she said with a sigh. “Are you ready to talk yet?”
“Go and fuck yourself,” Zaria spat as she trembled on the floor.
“Oh, I cannot really do that,” she said and moved away from the witch as she began to choke and gasp for air. A second later, blood spurted from her mouth. Zaria clawed at her throat as she struggled to breathe. “Tell me!” Freya suddenly screamed, and I winced as pain stabbed at my eardrums. “Who is in charge of using your coven as puppets?” she hissed as Zaria took in a deep breath and coughed up blood. “Tell me!” The witch was suddenly yanked upright by an invisible force and held several feet off the ground. Blood dripped from her torn clothes to pool at her feet. There was an insane look in Freya’s eyes, and I almost, almost stepped in to try and calm her. She stared at the blood pooling on the floor, and a starved look flickered in her pitched black eyes. The moaning, gasping witch was slowly lowered to the floor, and Freya walked toward her. “Very well,” she whispered. Zaria tried to step back, but Freya’s pale hands cupped her face and stared her deeply in the eyes. “I am done playing with you.” Zaria’s fear coated the back of my throat, and I smirked. “You know,” Freya said, once again calm. “I was being very generous and leaving your deeper thoughts alone. I did not bother trying to break your defenses.” She paused, stroking the witch’s cheek with her thumb. Zaria struggled, but it was no use. “But you have left me with no choice.” Freya smiled, and then Zaria’s bloodcurdling screams filled the room. Freya slammed into the witch’s mind, and this time, she didn’t use magic to do it. Zaria continued to scream, as Freya flipped through her memories like flipping through a photo album. Blood poured from the witch’s eyes, nose, ears and mouth. But Freya kept at it—Zaria’s blood splattering all over her face and hair as she ripped the witch’s mind apart, stripping her of her memories, of her essence, of who she was, until Zaria was no longer Zaria, but nothing more than an empty shell. Freya’s fangs were bared, her body taut, growling as she struggled for control. I walked over to her and put my hand on her shoulder. The sound of bones being crushed filled the room as Freya’s grip tightened, but the witch didn’t make a sound… she couldn’t.
“Finish it, Freya,” I whispered in her ear as she continued to growl low in her throat. “Finish it.” With an uppercut to the witch’s chin that snapped her head back, Freya went for her throat with a hiss. She pulled the witch closer, snarling as she drank deeply. I stepped back, watching her as she drained the witch of the rest of her blood. When she was done, she dropped the lifeless body to the blood-coated floor and turned to me. “Are you finally full?” I asked with a smirk.
“Hardly,” she said, licking the remaining blood from her lips. “But that was quite delicious.”
“I bet it was,” I drawled as she walked to the door and opened it. “Can I teleport out of here?”
“Yes,” she said as I followed her out. “I have lifted the spell so Sven could port in, but I have not reset it yet.” I nodded and teleported to her living room.
Dropping onto the recliner, I leaned back and sighed, closing my eyes. Shit was going to hell—literally, and at the moment, I just wanted to die. It would sure as hell solve all my problems. I didn’t know how long I was zoned out, but the next thing I knew, a cold hand touched my arm, and I opened my eyes—Freya’s unique scent of eucalyptus and mint surrounding me. She pressed a hot bag of blood into my hand, and I gratefully took it from her. “Thank you,” I said and sank my fangs into the plastic bag.
“You are welcome,” she said and sat on the arm of the couch. She brought her own blood bag to her fangs, and we sipped in silence—the crinkling of plastic the only sound in the room. When I was done, I glanced at the table, noticing several new bottles that were sitting on the floor next to it. She saw me looking, and she smiled. “Witch blood,” she said, pulling the empty bag from her mouth. “I collected it from the floor. It is such a shame to let it go to waste.” She took my empty bag from me and crumpled them up into a ball before tossing it into the trashcan that was under the table. “As for the body, I took it out back and burned it.”
I nodded. “Speaking of witch, did you get a name?”
She nodded. “The necromancer’s name is Teeros, and he apparently has an imp by the name of Helagias.”
“The question now is. Where the fuck do we find this Teeros?”
She shrugged. “I have not the slightest idea.” She frowned. “Do you know what they want?”
“I have an idea,” I said slowly. “But I am not for certain.”
“Do tell,” she said, looking very intrigued.
“I believe the necromancer, whoever is leading this whole thing, wants to get his or her hands on a shroud. You know what shroud I speak of.”
Freya let out a whistle and winced. “We cannot have that now, can we?”
“No, we can’t,” I said and grumbled under my breath.
“Anyone else knows about this… particular shroud?”
“Just a handful of vampires, witches, shifters…” I shrugged.
“And… who currently has the shroud now?”
“Excellent,” Freya said sarcastically. “Oh, that is just excellent. Why am I not surprised?” she finished dryly. “Should I even ask where it is being held?” I shook my head, getting to my feet and heading for the second floor. “Where are you headed?” Freya asked as she got up to follow.
“To your library, Rozalia is here.”
On the second floor, I turned right and headed down the long hallway, stopping at the double doors that were at the end. I pushed them open and stepped inside. Freya’s library was large, and it was probably the largest room in the entire house. It was probably also the only carpeted room as well. Midnight blue carpet covered the entire floor, and lining up the four walls were shelves after shelves filled to their capacity with books. There were large squared, rounded and rectangular tables with a dark blue cloth placed strategically throughout the room. On top of these were more books. Some of them had display cases, and locked inside of these were books she valued the most. At the far wall, in the corner of the library was a writing desk. On it were a couple of notebooks, a pen, a police scanner, and a violin case. There was a comfortable-looking chair behind the desk, and here was where the imp sat—her tail curled around her, and her wings folded up behind her back as a glowing green eye peered at us over the book she was reading. Leaning against the closest bookshelf was a guitar case, and a cold wind breezed into the room from the partially opened window as we walked over to the imp. I leaned against one of the bookshelves as Freya stopped beside the imp and gave her the look that clearly said, ‘Get out of my chair or I’m going to skewer you through with a sword’. Rozalia muttered something under her breath and leapt from the chair, taking the book with her. Freya glared at the imp before slowly sitting. I gestured to the instrument cases. “Are you planning to bring your grand piano in here as well?” I asked dryly.
“No,” she said with a soft chuckle. “Even if I wanted to, there is no room for it here.”
I smirked and turned my attention to Rozalia. “Any news for me?” Please say yes, I thought silently.
“Not a word,” my imp said, shaking her head. I growled and glared up at the ceiling, as if an answer would magically appear there. But of course, I thought with a miserable sigh. It didn’t. “If I hear anything, I will come to you.”
I nodded, grumbling silently as I straightened. “You do that,” I said, and the imp disappeared in a flash of fire and the stink of sulfur, taking the book with her. Freya let out a low growl, her eyes flashing with annoyance. I chuckled. “Does she always do that?”
“Yes,” she hissed. “And without my permission I might add.”
“Does she return what she takes?”
“Yes,” Freya said with a sigh.
“Very irritating, isn’t it?”
She smiled. “Indeed, it is,” she said and got up from her chair.
I smirked. “And what about your magic paraphernalia? I’m pretty sure you’re not going to just leave them out in the open.”
“I am not,” she said and frowned. “But my lab is still under construction. It should be ready in a couple of days. I have already moved some of my stuff down there.”
I nodded. “Well,” I said. “I am off to find Sathia. I need her and Xorik to do some spying for me.”
“What of Rozalia? Can she not be of help?”
“Will you allow me to take her for the time being?”
“Yes,” she said, leading me to the door and out of the library. “There are several vampires who can chain me if I do not make it back to my cell.” We headed downstairs and for the front door. She opened it, and I followed her out into the night. “After all, Rozalia is yours. I cannot command her as you can.”
“You are correct,” I said, nodding. “But Rozalia has been yours for over two thousand years, ever since I bonded her to you. Remember, I would not have done such, if she had not been willing.” I chuckled. “Besides, that annoying little imp likes you.”
“It is a one-sided bond, because I want to pull out her inners and strangle her with them. I even had to lock up my halogen blade to prevent myself from reaching for it and driving it through her heart.”
“Oh, come now,” I said. “She can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, I assure you that she is,” she muttered. “Imps talk too much, and they are like five-year-olds high on sugar. They are so hyper they cannot sit still for ten seconds, let alone five.”
“I can cut out her tongue for you if you like,” I offered and laughed softly as she grimaced.
“I appreciate the offer,” she said and shuddered. “But she will only find other means to further annoy me,” she finished with a sigh as she closed the door. As she did so, I heard a barely audible whoosh, and it felt like I had just walked into several livewires and got the shock of my life. I grunted and shuddered as pain washed over me. The pain wasn’t really painful per say, but it sure was very uncomfortable as hell. “Forgive me,” Freya said, turning to me. “I should have warned you.”
I shook my head, straightening and rubbing my arms, still shuddering from the effects of her wards. “Don’t be,” I said and pulled her into a hug. “I should have expected it.” She stiffened, but after a moment, she reluctantly wrapped her arms around me, and I smirked. “I am glad that you’re staying,” I said softly in her ear, holding back a gasp as her hunger slammed into me. She nodded and stepped back. I dropped my arms from around her and stared up at the clear night sky. “I’ll see you soon, Freya,” I said as she slowly levitated herself into the air. She looked down at me and gave a sad smile before she flew off into the distance, the wind whipping her ice-blond hair back from her face as she disappeared from my sight. Fucking hell, I thought and glared up at the sky. What a fucked up existence we live in. To simply put it, it was just plain outright fucking sad.