Watching through the veil and praying one of them would go ahead and break the one simple rule of this deadly game, I contented myself by coming up with ways to kill them, slowly and painfully. “This is fascinating,” Amaya said from beside me.
I snorted. “You haven’t seen shit.”
She sighed. “Can I just please have my little moments?” she asked, exasperated.
“No,” I said flatly. “You cannot.”
“Typical,” she growled and stomped away with an annoyed look about her. “Why do you even bother with them?” she asked. “They’re all so… so…”
“Lost for words?” I drawled. Amaya scowled, stopping at one of the black pillars and kicked it. “What did the poor pillar ever do to you?” She glared at me and began to punch and kick the ever living shit out of it. Shrugging, I looked back through the veil and smiled, wishing that I was actually in the room with them. One of the necromancers writhed on the floor, as tendrils after tendrils of shadow lashed out at him. Shadows crawled up the walls, floor and ceiling, and I couldn’t tell who was manipulating them. The nearest watching vampires cringed and stepped closer to their friends, away from the mass of darkness. I blinked at the sudden flare of blue light that flickered for the briefest of seconds and shot around the room before it faded, leaving a faint trace as that, too, disappeared to nothing. If I were there, I would’ve felt the lingering magic that created an invisible barrier between the onlookers and the combatants. The spell would remain active until the caster took it down, or someone broke it. The necromancer on the floor rose painfully to his feet, fighting shadow with shadow as he slowly made his way toward Jesric.
“They are stupid,” Amaya said, once again standing beside me as she, too, peered through the veil. “Do they not know who they’re up against?”
I snorted, wincing as one of the souls attached itself to one of the advancing necromancers, slowly draining the life from him. “They don’t care who they’re up against,” I said. “As long as they get a chance to show off their idiocies, even if it is against a four thousand year old necromancer trained by one of the oldest and most powerful.”
“She can wipe the floor with them in ten seconds flat,” Amaya said, nodding to Jailyn. “Drunk or not.”
I grunted. “It has been millennia since she picked up a drink. Though, it wasn’t bad like last time.”
“She was drunk to the point where she couldn’t focus on anything. Hell, she couldn’t even hold her souls together.”
Amaya smirked. “Oh, my.”
“Humph,” I said and winced inwardly as Jesric ripped open a purple-haired necromancer’s stomach. He screamed as a soul fell on him. As it unattached itself from him, his own souls tore into Jesric’s lone soul as it pulled out the necromancer’s intestines. Jesric snarled, launching himself into the air and falling upon the souls. His eyes practically rolled to the back of his head as he began to eat them.
“He can give himself an orgasm just by eating souls,” Amaya muttered. “So unfair.” I snorted as she all but pressed herself against the veil.
“Are you trying to pass through?” I asked conversationally.
“No,” she said dryly. “I just like the feel of the air pressure pressing into me.”
“You might want to be careful. The pressure might explode you from the inside out.”
Amaya frowned. “Are you being serious?”
“Actually, I have no idea.” I shrugged. “Never had a reason to try and passed through it to get to the other side.” The succubus nodded, and she whistled as Jesric reached into the necromancer’s chest, ripping out his heart while being bombarded by souls from the other three. He shuddered, grimacing in pain as he quickly devoured the bloody, still beating organ in his hand. Growling, he fought the souls back with shadows as a single tendril fell on the dead necromancer. It seemed to pulse and thicken as it touched the blood and began to absorb it. The more it absorbed, the bigger the tendril became, until it was the size of a humanoid. It broke away from the mass of darkness as the last drop of blood from the necromancer disappeared. Formed from blood and shadow, the human-shaped construct turned to Jesric and floated to his side.
“Hmm,” Amaya said thoughtfully. “Wonder if the other three necromancers can create a shadow wraith.” No sooner had she said that, the shadow-like creature reached out and touched the nearest necromancer to Jesric, killing him instantly. The remaining two survivors paused and stared at their dead comrade in disbelief. Jesric reached out, putting a pale hand on the creature as it was about to touch another necromancer. The shadow thing halted, an inch from making contact with skin.
“Well, well, well,” Jesric said slowly. “Do not tell me that you are surprised by the display,” he drawled as he gathered his souls close to him. “You open a gate to hell, but yet, you two looked like you’ve never seen my friend here before. Now what does that tell me about you two?”
“I’ve seen enough,” Jailyn said after a long moment of silence. Well, apart from the drip, drip, drip of blood hitting the floor, it was silent.
“Oh, come on,” Amaya complained. “It was just getting interesting, too.”
“And here I was,” I said and grumbled under my breath. “Hoping that one of them would…” I paused as the abyss rippled slightly around us. “Never mind,” I said with an evil smile. “We’ll be having company in a second. Get the popcorn ready. You can watch the show.”
Amaya let out a heavy sigh and straightened to her full height of six foot one. “Why am I always left out of the fun?”
“Because,” I said, exasperated as my hand casually reached out to the necromancer that suddenly appeared in front of me. “You kill people with pleasure.”
The succubus scowled. “Not always,” she growled in annoyance.
“Tisk tisk,” Jailyn said in disapproval. “No one ever followed the god damn fucking rules, no matter how fucking simple they are.”
“You just made my day,” I said conversationally to the redheaded necromancer. Covered in blood and looking like he had been shredded a few times too many, he bared his fangs and hissed at me. “You’re not too smart either,” I said and dropped my hand back to my side. “Have you been to hell before?” I asked. “Wait, don’t answer that.”
“You’re supposed to kill him instantly,” Amaya whispered, loud enough for the idiot in front of us to hear. “Not strike up a conversation with this stupid, fucking shit for nothing piece of ass.”
I scowled at her. “Did she say I have to kill him right away?”
“Hmm, you have a point.”
I glared at the necromancer. “Are you done bleeding yet? I want to take you on a field trip before I kill you.” I tapped my foot impatiently. “I don’t have all day either so get a move on with that awesome healing ability all you vampires seem to have.”
Amaya snorted. “He’s too busy trying to remain upright,” she said as I closed the veil, but not before I saw the last necromancer writhing in pleasure as Jailyn force-fed souls after souls to him. The necromancer half groaned, half screamed in both pain and pleasure, until he came with an explosion of blood and brain matter. I whistled as the veil dissipated with nothing more than a ripple of the air. “Oh,” Amaya breathed and shuddered. “That was just plain, outright mean.”
I chuckled. “A good way to go in my personal opinion,” I said, shrugging as I returned my attention to the cringing necromancer who took an unsteady step away from me. “Allow me to help you out in the healing department, my friend.” Before he could so much as take in his next breath, I pulled out a blade coated in demon blood and quickly closed in on him. Plunging the dagger into his stomach, I laughed as he fell back on his ass and let out a bloodcurdling scream that echoed throughout the vast space of the abyss.
“Sathia,” Amaya spluttered. “Look what you have done.” She gestured all around us with a glare. Advancing rapidly upon us from the darkness were spirits of the dead, and these weren’t your friendly neighborhood spirits. Oh, no, they were the ones that went insane with madness over the centuries of being stuck in limbo with no direction in sight.
“If you have not figured it out yet, that was my point of stabbing him, genius,” I said and bent to retrieve my weapon. Straightening, Amaya and I moved away from the still screaming necromancer as the spirits drew closer and closer to their intended target. In the mix of the insane, there were also the recently dead; those who lost their lives during the battle that took place in hell not too long ago. One of the spirits—one of the hunters—nodded to me and pointed to the writhing necromancer.
“One of the responsible for opening the gate?” he asked. Amaya and I nodded as he floated over to us, stopping before he could go through me. “What is the gate if I may ask?”
“It’s not what,” I said in amusement as the spirits fell on the necromancer. “It’s who.”
“It’s who,” I repeated and open another veil to the right of Amaya. “Look to your left and see for yourself.” The dead hunter turned, blinking at the view that was in front of him. On the other side of the veil was a bedroom painted in the color of pink. It showed a fledgling—Zaida—sitting on the edge of a bed with Natalia who sat leaning against the headboard, her legs out in front of her in a relaxed pose. I nodded to Zaida who no longer looked starve out of her mind. “She’s the gate, the one sitting on the edge of the bed.”
“Well, shit,” the hunter breathed. “That has to suck,” he finished and blinked at the black smoke that puffed from the fledgling’s mouth.
“Oh, it does,” I said, ignoring the screams of the necromancer and the angry cries of the spirits. “Blowing smoke every thirty seconds is probably annoying as fuck, and judging by the fact that she is wincing and grimacing, it probably hurt, too.”
“How does that work? I mean, she’s a walking, talking, breathing being.”
“She’s the lucky conduit.”
He turned to me and scowled. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oh, you know,” I said with a shrug. “Demons past through her in spirit form. Once they are through, they take on their physical form.”
“Wow,” the hunter said with a heavy sigh. “Just… wow.”
I narrowed my eyes on him. “You don’t need to breathe, you’re dead.”
He snorted. “Dead or not, it’s habit.”
I grunted. “Point taken.”
“Thanks for showing me,” he said as the veil vanished into nothingness.
I again grunted. “Not a problem.” I nodded to the angry spirits. “Are you going to join your friends?” I smirked as he growled.
“Now that you mention it, I should take my share in the torturing,” the hunter said and turned, walking away from us with a muttered curse.
“Damn,” Amaya hissed, wincing. “They must really hate him.”
“No shit,” I said dryly as the spirits tore into the necromancer with voracious fervor. Blood and chunks of flesh flew into the air, followed by torn limbs and organs. The sound of bones being snapped and crushed was loud in my ears. The more these spirits were at it, the more frenzied they became. They were like a pack of wild animals tearing into their prey without a care in the world. It was like a fuck-you to whoever was listening or watching from above or down below. To be honest, I almost felt bad for the necromancer… almost. I was enjoying the show a little too much to even give a shit. The necromancer suddenly went silent as one of the spirits ripped out his voice box. That was one of the sad parts of being a vampire, you couldn’t die unless the heart was removed, the head decapitated from the shoulders, the brain was destroyed beyond repair, or all of the above. The abyss continued to subtly ripple around me as he tried to escape over and over again with no luck whatsoever. To add to the torture, his skin and what remained of him was also slowly melting under the acid of demon blood. Given that he was repeatedly being clawed, stabbed, crushed, slashed, sliced, diced, drained and ripped apart with no room for regenerating, he was shit out of luck in the chance-of-survival department. After all, he was surrounded by no less than a hundred or more angry spirits that hungered for life the way vampire hungered for blood. Sheathing the blade I was still holding, I looked around and walked to a downed pillar that must’ve snapped in the midst of all the fun. I sat down on it, wincing as the poor necromancer lost an eye. I snarled as a whistle suddenly sounded a second later. The long, high-pitched, earsplitting, piercing sound was like scraping a sharp, serrated blade against the inside of my skull. It also had an effect of stopping every single spirit that was here mid motion. If I didn’t know better, it was like time had stopped altogether. The only movement was the necromancer, what was left of him twitching involuntarily as he slowly, slowly died. His spirit was yanked from his corporeal body, and he screamed as he disappeared in a flash of fire. “Damn it,” I said grumpily as Jailyn—no longer drunk—made her way toward me. The spirits either clung to her or quickly got out of her way as she came to a stop before me. “It was Amaya’s idea,” I said and hissed as the succubus stabbed me in the side with a claw. Jailyn patted one of the spirits on the head before pulling him away from her and setting him on his feet. She did the same to the other three before letting out a long, heavy sigh.
“I don’t care whose idea it was,” she said softly. “Nor do I want to know.” I grunted as I got to my feet. “And I know none of you will apologize for what went down here so the point is moot.”
I grunted. “How did you sober up so quickly? Freya’s doing?”
“Yes, sadly. She has demanded that I return to reality, according to her, STAT. Her word, not mine.”
“What is so urgent? Did she say?”
Jailyn sighed. “No, but she didn’t have to say a word. Why is it always me?”
I shrugged. “Because you’re the best?”
I scowled. “I’m a demon, and if I say you’re the best, you’re the best. You should trust my words.”
Her eyes narrowed dangerously on me. “This coming from a ten thousand-year-old or older demon?”
I blinked innocently at her. “Of course,” I said, almost cheerful sounding to my own ears. “I was your first real friend… on the demonic end of the spectrum anyways.”
“Hmm,” she said thoughtfully.
I growled. “Are you saying different?” I asked in mock outrage.
I pointed a clawed finger at her. “Don’t ever talk to me again.”
She chuckled and nodded to Amaya who was trying her damnedest not to laugh at our banter. “Would you like to accompany us?” she asked the succubus. Amaya blinked and just stared. “If you must know,” Jailyn said dryly. “I don’t swing that way.”
“Jailyn!” I spluttered.
“What?” she asked and arched an eyebrow. “I don’t.” Growling, I stalked to another pillar that was still standing and slammed into it. “Causing yourself bodily harm now I see.”
“Fuck you,” I said and stabbed my claws into the wood.
“I would like that,” said Amaya. “But I have never been summoned to earth as of yet.”
“Ah,” Jailyn said as I paused in my destruction of the pillar and turned to them. Jailyn’s eyes briefly went distant before snapping back to focus. “My son will summon you now.”
Amaya’s eyes widened and I could have sworn that she drooled a little. “Can I screw him senseless?” I laughed, shaking my head.
“Are you actually asking for my permission?” Jailyn asked and shuddered. Amaya shrugged. “If he’ll allow it.”
“Sweet,” the succubus said excitedly. “I’m 99.9 percent sure that he will.”
Jailyn shook her head, muttering something I couldn’t quite make out. “Hurt him in any way, shape, or form, I will not hesitate to kill you,” she warned as shadows wrapped around her. “Sathia, I will see you on the other side.” I nodded as she vanished with a blast of ice cold wind that blew my hair and Amaya’s in every direction.
“She is serious, isn’t she?” Amaya said and shuddered.
“Oh, trust me, she is very serious. When she says she’s going to kill you, she is going to kill you.”
“Great,” she said and grunted in clear agitation. “I have to be on my best behavior.”
“Is he summoning you?”
She nodded. “He is.”
“You’ll be able to travel between realms once summoned. Just don’t give Jailyn any reason to banish you.”
“Thanks,” she muttered. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
I nodded and waved. “See you in a few,” I said and jumped into the void.
Since I was following Jailyn’s trail, I ended up finding myself appearing in the middle of Freya’s library. Rozalia, holding a heavy bound book in her hands, flapped her wings and levitated into the air, until she was eye-to-eye with a spluttering Alyssa. “This is the one you’re looking for,” the imp squealed in utter annoyance. “Take it,” she hissed and thrust the book toward the fledgling vampire. “It won’t kill you.”
“Oh,” Freya said dryly from her position leaning against the closed door. “I am not so sure about that,” she said as I toppled over a bookshelf onto Alyssa’s head. Rozalia flew out of the way as the fledgling let out a shriek. Books after books fell on her, and she slowly hit the floor as the entire thing came down with a crash. “Hmm, the god of knowledge must hate you so.” Freya let out a sigh and glared at me before turning that glare on Alyssa. “Extract yourself from there and put everything back where they belong.”
“But!” Alyssa exclaimed.
“Do it,” Jailyn said quietly.
“Fuck,” the fledgling groaned, grunting as she picked herself up from the floor.
“I stopped by to check on your progress, but what do I find instead?”
“I was going to read,” Alyssa said in exasperation. “I swear.”
“Were you?” Jailyn asked, eyes narrowing dangerously. “After spending eight hours arguing back and forth with Rozalia perhaps?”
“We’ve only been at it for two minutes!”
“Two minutes too long, girl.” She held up a hand when Alyssa opened her mouth to say something. “Once you are done, you will continue to read.” Alyssa glared at her and bent to lift the bookshelf. “Do not give me that look, child,” Jailyn warned. “Rozalia, you will make sure that she does not go against my orders, won’t you?”
“Yes yes,” the imp hissed. “Of course.”
“On that lovely note, Sathia, Freya and I must leave.”
“Where are we going?” I asked and walked over to them.
“Tristan is expecting us,” she said and put a hand on my shoulder. “If we do not want to miss the showdown between him and Karacus, we must leave now.”
“She will be there. Sarisa is bringing her.” Freya and I nodded, as everything went dark.