“Okay,” I said to my Ahzeeki an eternity later. “That was not the way I had expected it to go down. Fuck me.”
“Well,” Sathia said, still grinning like an idiot as she walked beside me in the cold purple lighting of the abyss. “It did.” She held up her hand as I opened my mouth to speak. “Don’t worry,” she said reassuringly. “Tristan and Freya have everything under control.” I frowned. “When was the last time you really let loose? Six? Seven? Eight thousand years ago?” I just stared at her. “I’m being serious.”
“Two thousand years ago.”
She blinked. “That’s a fucking lie and you know it.”
I growled. “Are you accusing me of being a liar?”
“No,” the demon said slowly. “You a—ow!” she exclaimed as I flicked a red stream of hellfire at her. “I was just going to say—ow! Stop that!”
“I will if you stop trying to spout all my secrets. There are eyes and ears everywhere you know.”
“I,” Sathia said, as if talking to a two-year-old child. “Was just going to say that you have a drop—god damn it Jailyn! That hurts! How would you like it if I dump you in a vat of acid and leave you there?" She stopped walking and turned to me, eyebrow raised in question. I, too, came to a stop and turned to her. “Well?”
“I would like it very much,” I said sarcastically and dodged, as she spat a stream of green acid at me. It hung in the air for a second before slowly splashing to the ground and dissolving. She snorted, and then groaned as Ketra—one of Jesric’s imps scuttled up to me. She wrapped herself around my leg and all but climbed me like a fucking cat. Reaching my shoulder, she curled herself around my neck as she hissed in my ear. “Ketra,” I said gently and stroked a finger over one of her wings. “What can I do for you?” I asked as she shivered.
“Tristan wants you back on earth, mistress,” Ketra hissed, her tail flicking back and forth.
“Have I been gone long?”
“Two hours. It is almost dawn.” Well, damn, I thought and inwardly grimaced. “Freya is worried about you, mistress.” I winced. “What should I tell them?”
“Inform them both that I will see them shortly,” I said and un-entangled her from me and setting her on her feet. “Go now.” Ketra nodded rapidly, blowing Sathia a raspberry before disappearing in a flash of fire.
“I am going to kill that little annoying, pain in my ass fucking imp,” Sathia growled. “I swear it.”
“What is it with you and imps?” Casiar stepped from the surrounding shadows and flashed over to us.
“Are you fucking blind?” the Ahzeeki demon spluttered in outrage as Casiar slipped an arm around me and pulled me to his side.
“Last I checked,” he drawled. “My vision is better than 20/20.”
“Grrrrrr!” Sathia said, and we sprang apart as she sprayed acid everywhere. She glared at us and peered into the shadows.
“Don’t even think about it,” Casiar warned.
“What?” she asked innocently. Cazaron appeared out of nowhere, and my ears rang as sword met sword with a loud clang.
“Damn it,” Cazaron muttered and stepped back, his demon sentient sword pulling back from Casiar’s katana that appeared from thin air and into his hand. “I will get you one day.”
Casiar grunted. “That day is not today it looks like,” he said as the sword vanished.
Grumbling, Cazaron sheathed his sword at his back and looked around. “So,” he said with a heavy sigh. “Are we done here?”
“Is that a complaint I’m hearing from you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes on him.
He held up his hands, shaking his head. “No,” he said quickly. “No complaints here.”
“Good,” I said sweetly and smirked. “But yes, we are done here… for now.”
“About time,” he muttered.
“What was that?”
“Nothing.” I snorted as he disappeared a split second later.
“Nothing my ass,” I mumbled as Casiar pulled me into his arms and jumped back to earth.
“Hmm,” Freya said thoughtfully as we appeared in her magical holding cell that she use to chain herself up. The chain scraped against the floor as she moved into a sitting position.
“Where is Tristan?” Casiar asked as I leaned back against him.
“He is with Ari of course.”
“Of course,” he said as I winced.
“He will be here shortly.”
“You’re chained up because…?”
“I did not feed from Liana when I compelled her to forget.”
“Oh?” I asked and scowled.
“I had enough sense not to attack her with Sven standing there.”
“You’re in control of yourself now,” I pointed out.
“I am a good actress when I want to be,” she said dryly. “Or have you not notice.” Casiar’s arms tightened around me as the air in the room came to life. Luckily we were standing close to the door and far out of her reach.
“Well, you should teach Tristan.”
“Oh,” she said with a weary sigh. “There is no need. He is fine. I just keep a tighter leash on my own beast.”
I glare at her. “To the point of tremendous pain to yourself,” I said and scowled. “Not to mention giving yourself an aneurism.”
She shrugged. “What can I say? Consider me a martyr.” Pushing away from Casiar, I walked over and crouched beside her. With me this close, Freya’s entire body went taut, and I could all but feel the beast getting ready to pounce.
“You fed just enough to get a handle on her,” I said, and she growled low in her throat as I place a hand on her arm. “Were you alone?”
She blinked slowly at me. “Of course not.”
I smirked. “Was just making sure.”
“You say of course a lot.”
Her lips twitched. “Of course.” I moved into a proper sitting position and laughed. “Glad I amuse you so,” she said as she grunted in pain.
“You and Tristan are so much alike,” I muttered and removed my hand from her. Freya snarled, and I held back a smile.
“Compare me to that asshole again and I will personally gut you myself,” she warned.
“Such violence is beyond you,” I said and chuckled as I quickly moved out of harm’s way. For one, she had a sharp, gleaming lithium blade in her hand, and two, it looked like she wouldn’t hesitate to stab me with it.
“Would you like to reevaluate your assumption about me?” she asked with a glint of something other than pure hunger in her narrowed, pitched black eyes.
“Not at all,” I said and got to my feet. She growled, and I ducked as the blade went sailing over my head to bury itself into the far wall. We all winced as a loud boom sounded.
“Look what you made me do,” Freya said with a curse.
“Don’t look at me,” I said and held up both hands. “It wasn’t I who threw that magical blade in the first place.”
“So,” Casiar said slowly. “What exactly did happen?” he asked and stared at the hilt of the blade sticking from the wall.
“That,” I said and walked over to it. Yanking it out, I walked back to Freya and handed it to her. “Not only kill magic for a while in a magic user, it also disrupts anything magical.” I shrugged. “A magical object, a magical door, a magical barrier, symbols, runes. You know. That kind of stuff.”
Casiar grunted, nodding. “I knew there was more to that blade,” he muttered.
I walked to him and wrapped my arms around him, nuzzling his neck. “You can always ask, you know,” I said dryly. He shrugged as his own arms came around me, holding me close.
“Luckily,” Freya said grumpily. “It only affects that one wall and not the entire room.”
“Get a room, you two,” Elijah said from behind me, sounding oh so very bored. Straightening and turning, I scowled at him.
“I was not aware that I was in charge of hosting some kind of special event,” Freya said conversationally as the chains flew off of her.
“Shit,” Casiar said, dropping his arms from me and moving in a blur. Grabbing Freya, he spun her around, and she snarled as he snapped a pair of dark, dark red handcuffs on her wrists. “I apologize,” he said and shoved her toward Elijah who caught her. “We have to cut off at least one part of you.”
“How come I didn’t get a pair?” I asked, annoyed. In answer, a zip tie appeared in Elijah’s hand. He tossed it to me, and I reflexively caught it.
“Same thing,” said Elijah. “Except for the zapping part.” I nodded as I dropped it into my pocket.
Freya growled and bared her fangs, glaring at us. “I should have never spelled the things you give me.”
I smirked. “Thank you for that by the way. They do come in handy.”
“Why must it be me?” she asked agitatedly.
I frowned. “Because,” I said gently. “You’re the only witch practiced in all forms of magic.” She sighed and hung her head. I winced. “Sorry,” I said, still wincing.
“It is not you,” she said, sighing. This time, we all winced but said nothing more, as Tristan appeared in the room, holding fucking Karacus in his arms. I suddenly saw red, and it took all I had in me not to slap the necromancer’s head right off his shoulders. Tristan shoved him away and took Freya from Elijah. The moment Evelyn appeared, everything went dark.
In the Council chamber, it was silent and once again filled with vampires. Freya let out a whimper, turning in Tristan’s arms and burying her face in his neck. It was better to be drowned in one scent rather than multiple scents. Tristan held her tighter and dropped into a chair at the table as we did the same. Sighing, I rested my arms on top of the table and resisted the urge to lower my head onto them and just forget about everything for a little while. “Wake him up,” I said with a weary sigh. “Let’s get this done and over with. I am tired of this whole thing.” A few seconds later, Karacus woke up with a gasp, sitting up like he had been jolted with a livewire. His eyes met mine, and I smiled as terror poured from him. In Tristan’s arms, Freya stiffened up even more, growling under her breath. “Scream,” I said softly to Karacus. “And I will gladly let Freya rip out your voice box,” I warned. “Am I understood?” He nodded rapidly, his throat working as he repeatedly swallowed back his screams that wanted to badly escape. “As you have been told a time or two, we won’t kill you,” I continued. “Instead, you will go to ground.” Karacus froze as the audience let out a collective gasp. “Tell me, Karacus. Can you feel your magic within you?”
“What? What did you…?” Karacus spluttered as more fear rolled off of him.
“I’ve not only taken your souls away from you,” I said calmly when all I wanted to do was rip out his heart and eat it. “I’ve also stripped you of your necromantic powers when I fed from you.” Karacus sat in stunned silence on the floor as I smirked. “As I am the only one who can strip you of all your magic, sweetness, Tristan is the only one who can strip you of all your… vampiric abilities.”
“No!” he shouted as Tristan spoke softly to Freya. “No!”
“Oh, yes, love. Do not make it worse than it already is for yourself. Trust me, we can be even more of a bunch of assholes if we so please. If I were you, I wouldn’t test us. You will not like the outcome.” Freya reluctantly pulled away from Tristan and straightened to her full height. Looking miserable, she slowly walked to the back of the chamber and disappeared through a door, her sire’s eyes on her the whole time, even long after it closed with a soft snap. I closed my eyes as my stomach clenched painfully with sadness, my throat closing in on itself. Taking in a deep shuddering breath, I opened my eyes, in time to see Tristan getting out of his chair and walking to Karacus.
“Get up,” Tristan said quietly.
“Please,” Karacus begged. “Please, don’t do this. I beg of you, sire. Don’t do this.”
“I said get up.”
Gulping, Karacus slowly got to his feet, looking anywhere but at Tristan. “I’m sorry,” Karacus whispered.
“I know,” Tristan said, also in a whisper. “But it is, too little, too late.” Karacus nodded, swallowing hard. “You will go to ground for sixty years.” He held up a hand when Karacus opened his mouth to speak. “Not another word,” he warned. “Or I will make it six hundred years. If you continued to defy these terms, I will make it six thousand years.” Karacus stiffened, practically gasping for air. “Which will it be?” Tristan asked as his hand shot out and grabbed Karacus by the arm and pulled him close.
“The first one,” Karacus whispered. “I’m sorry,” he said again as Tristan wrapped him in an unbreakable embrace. “I’m so sorry.”
“So am I,” Tristan whispered into his child’s ear. “More than you will ever know,” he finished and sank his fangs into Karacus’s throat. There was a minute of silence, and then Karacus began to struggle and scream. It wasn’t long before his screams died off and he went limp in his sire’s arms. Tristan withdrew his fangs a second later, licking at the wound until the two punctured holes were gone. Sven appeared beside his sire and put a hand on Tristan’s arm. “Take him,” he said quietly, licking away the remaining blood from his mouth and releasing Karacus. Sven caught Karacus before he could hit the floor. Giving Tristan a concerned look, he vanished into thin air, taking Karacus with him. No one moved or said anything as Tristan stood there, staring off into space. The audience didn’t even breathe as they watched us nervously.
“Out,” I finally said. “All of you.” There was a rush of sound as the doors were slammed open and everyone quickly exited, as if the devil himself was after them. The doors slammed shut with a resounding boom a couple of minutes later, and I let out a relieved sigh. Evelyn rose from her chair and went to Tristan’s side. Putting a hand on his shoulder, she steered him back to his chair and gently pushed him into it. Tristan blinked and looked around, scowling. “Don’t even think about it,” I said. Evelyn nodded to Elijah and Casiar, and then they were gone, leaving me alone with Tristan. Well, as alone as possible since Freya was still in the other room. “Never mind,” I said dryly. “You got part of your wish.”
“I won’t be rid of you so easily, will I?” he asked and stared down at the table.
“No,” I said gently.
“I thought as much,” he muttered, letting out a long, long sigh and leaning back.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Are you my therapist now?” he asked with a scowl.
“No,” I said slowly. “I am your sister, Tristan. I may hate your ass for the most part, but I will not let you suffer alone in the dark.” He stared at me, but said nothing as I waited. Sighing, I got to my feet, shaking my head. Resting my hand on his shoulder, I squeezed lightly before dropping it back to my side. “I meant what I said,” I said softly. “No one deserves to suffer alone. Not even you. I understand you more than you will ever know.” He grunted, and I snorted. “When you want to talk or beat the bloody shit out of someone, I’m here.” When he nodded and though I really didn’t want to, I reluctantly teleported away, leaving him alone in the Council chamber.