No demons, no rogues, no humans walking about. Fuck my god damn life. The sun was just rising, and I squinted up at the brightening sky. I let out a squeak as my stomach did a summersault and then dropped as someone did a jump from this world to the abyss or the other way around. I still couldn’t tell the difference. Reaching deep inside of myself and finding the icy cold power of necromancy, I directed it to my hands, forming a ball of pure darkness. Like any form of magic, it took willpower to control and direct. The ball of shadows grew, until my hands could no longer be seen. “Planning to kill someone?” a low voice drawled from behind me. I scowled and turned to my sire. Casiar smirked and thrust his hand into my shadows, dispersing them like I hadn’t conjured them in the first place. I dropped my hands to my sides and pouted… if only a little.
“Why did you do that for?”
“Any bigger you’ll lose control.”
I scowled. “And here I thought I had unlimited power at my disposal,” I said dryly.
His eyes narrowed dangerously, running his hand through his white-blond hair. “One day,” he said with a sigh. “I’m not going to stop you. Maybe the feel of being drained and a headache on top of all that will teach you something.”
I sighed. “Jailyn said she’ll personally kill me if I ever drain myself to the point of not being able to defend myself.”
He chuckled. “I suggest you take her seriously. It’s good for your well-being and mine.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Yours?”
“Sweetheart, have you seen her in action?”
“Sure I have. She is something.”
“Should I be honored that you are talking about me?” a hypnotic voice asked sweetly. I stiffened and mentally blinked several times, shaking my head.
“Damn,” Casiar muttered. Jailyn appeared out of nowhere and put her arms around him.
“What was that?” she asked.
I smirked. “He said he was going to let me drain myself—” I let out a grunt, rubbing my stomach as an invisible force punched me. “Never mind,” I muttered.
“Oh, I heard that part of the conversation.” Casiar sighed and stepped from her arms. A second later, I stiffened as a blade suddenly appeared in his hand. It shot past me, and a moment later, I heard a gasp and then a gurgle. Jailyn sighed. “Why is it when I appear, there’s always trouble?” We walked over to the downed rogue, and she held out her hand to me. I stared at it, wondering if I wanted to suck out a soul for the first time. Casiar cleared his throat and gave me an amused look.
“You will have unlimited power, if you host souls,” he said helpfully. For that, Jailyn pulled out a blade and pointed it at him. He raised his hands and took a step back. “What?” he asked innocently. “I was just trying to be helpful.” She threw the knife at him, and he caught it effortlessly.
“Not another word from you,” she warned. He opened his mouth but snapped it shut when she pulled another blade on him. He muttered something about being a hard ass and flashed off into the distance. “Now then,” she said cheerfully as I felt my sire’s eyes on me. I hated being watched, but like all things, something could go wrong on the first try. Jailyn held out her hand to me again, and I sighed. Taking in a deep breath, I went to her side by the cursing rogue. She crouched and pulled me down with her. “Come on,” she said coaxingly. “It’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad?” I spluttered. The rogue groaned as Jailyn thumped the hilt of the blade deeper into his spine.
“Well, it’s not that bad after you get use to them.” The rogue let out a scream as she flipped him over and slammed him back to the blood-soaked ground. “So, you are going to have only one soul, until you get use to it. When you’re ready, you can add more to you’re…” She frowned. “Collection?” I snorted.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” the rogue gasped. Jailyn ignored him and nodded to me.
“What do I do?” I asked with a sigh.
“Put your mouth on his.” I scowled. “Like you’re going to give him CPR or kiss him, but please don’t kiss him… or give him CPR.” I glared at her before leaning over the rogue. She pressed something cold into my hand, and I realized that it was a blade. “Drive that through his heart.”
“So he can be very still for you,” she drawled. I shrugged and drove the blade into his chest, straight for his heart. The rogue screamed, but no sound escaped him. “Now, I want you to look deeply into his eyes like you’re going to compel him or read his deepest, darkest secrets he keeps hidden behind closed doors.”
“I have to go deeper,” I said.
“Yes, you will know when you find what you’re looking for. When you find it, draw it towards you by focusing and inhaling.”
“You make it sound so easy,” I muttered.
She laughed softly. “Once you get the hang of soul-sucking, it will be effortless as breathing. To help you out, you’ll be drawn to it like we’re drawn to the smell of blood.”
I nodded and glared at the rogue. “Why did it have to be you?” I asked him. “You probably taste like shit.”
“Sorry to disappoint, but no souls taste like shit. Just don’t think that you’re on top of the universe afterwards. Keep in mind of what I’ve drilled into you time and time again these past centuries.” I shuddered, nodding. “Whenever you are ready, you may begin.” Taking in another deep breath, I leaned down and pried the rogue’s mouth open. I put my own mouth over his and stared deeply into his widened, terror-filled eyes. I centered myself and reached for the ice numbing cold that was my magic and let it lead me as Jailyn’s centuries of teaching went on a loop in my mind. I let out a gasp as something cold filled my mouth, and I could suddenly see a shimmering, silvery cord-like something in him. I felt a cold hand at the back of my neck, preventing me from pulling back. Focus, Jailyn whispered into my mind. Pull it towards you and inhale. I did as she said, and I watched the silvery cord turn shadowy and smoke-like. I groaned as I continued to inhale deeply, tasting the icy sweetness of it. I felt a light snap, and I squeezed my eyes shut against the sudden bright daylight. I would’ve savored the cold sweetness still lingering in my mouth, if it wasn’t for the loud, angry wailing in my head. I pulled away from the now very dead rogue and plop my ass on the ground. Jailyn cupped my chin and turned my head. I opened my eyes and stared at her. “Block it out,” she said, and I shuddered against the hypnotic pull in her voice. I willed myself to block out the sound, but of course it was easier said than done, because the fucking bastard decided to wail even louder. My head began to pound, and I tried to pull away from Jailyn. Casiar’s hands came down on my shoulders, and I silently cursed them both. “Block it out,” she repeated. “Fight it. You control the soul, not the other way around.” With an angry growl, I mentally told the soul to shut the fuck up and pictured slamming it into a box and closing it. The sudden silence in my head took me by surprise, though it shouldn’t have.
“Fuck,” I hissed as blood poured from my eyes and nose.
“Now comes the best part,” Jailyn said, releasing me. “For every soul you take.” She removed the blade and punched her hand into the rogue’s chest, ripping out his heart. Casiar pulled me up, but he kept a hand on my arm as my world spun around me.
“Do I have to?” I asked a moment later, almost pleading for her to say no.
“Yes.” I pouted, wiping the blood from my face. Jailyn held out the bloody organ to me, and I just stared at it. “Take it.” Grumbling, I took the heart from her and popped it into my mouth. I quickly chewed and swallowed it. This was going to take some getting used to. I grunted as a surge of power ran through me like being dunk in ice water and emerging a second later from the shock of it. Casiar’s hand on me briefly tightened before he released me. “Every heart you consume, your souls will grow stronger, along with your magic. For every soul you take, you must feed it, so to speak.” She put up a hand before I could interrupt her. “For one, the hearts will keep your souls contented and not drive you insane. Two, they’ll be easier to control.” She started muttering something under her breath, and I took a step back as what looked like a spinning vortex appeared between us. She growled, before sticking her hand in and yanking at something. A screeching sound came out of the vortex, and a few seconds later, Jailyn was holding a struggling, flailing imp in a death grip. “Ketra,” she said, and I struggled against the pull of her voice. The imp froze, blinking up at her. “That’s a good girl,” she said, and the vortex snapped shut with nothing more than a soft pop and the strong smell of sulfur. Jailyn eased her grip and set the imp down with a warning look. “Ketra, where is Jesric?”
“Jesric is hunting,” Ketra lisped, her tongue flicking in and out. Glowing green eyes found mine, and she tilted her head in acknowledgement.
“You’re going to do me a favor,” Jailyn said and nodded to me. Ketra’s eyes flickered back and forth between us, pouting, or as much as a demon could pout anyways. Jailyn crouched and leaned in, whispering something in the imp’s ear that I couldn’t make out. I scowled, and before I could ask what was going on, everything went dark.TRYNNADON
Sometimes, I wondered why I was still living. I groaned as a talon stabbed into my side. Being surrounded fucking sucked, especially when you’re surrounded by a dozen demons. My eyes burned from the sun as I glared up at it. I was on the ground with a demon crouching over me and laughing his ass off while blood poured out of my multiple wounds like a fucking fountain. “Not so tough now, are you?” he asked, cackling. If I weren’t in so much pain, I’d laugh right along with him.
“Well,” I said, wheezing through the blinding pain. “At least I took out nine of your friends. I did an awesome job kicking ass if I have to say so myself.” For that, I got another stab to the gut. I gritted my teeth against another wave of pain, my fangs punching through my bottom lip and adding more pain to the mix.
“Am I intruding?” a low voice hissed. I couldn’t see the speaker, but I could feel the overwhelming power of death magic. It wasn’t Casiar, but whoever he was had an effect on the remaining demons. They couldn’t get away from me fast enough. A vampire came into my line of vision, and he walked over to me, the demons scuttling out of his way.
“You must be Jesric,” I said, groaning.
“News spread fast, doesn’t it?” he asked softly, so soft I had to strain to hear him. Dark sunglasses blocked me from meeting his unblinking eyes, but I could feel the weight of his gaze on me none the less. “And you must be Trynnadon. Your friends call you Tryn.”
“You’ve done your research, I see.” The demons didn’t make a move as Jesric crouched before me. A second later, Tristan appeared at his side. The demons stopped whispering and just stared.
“Any of you so much make a move,” Jesric said slowly to them. “I’ll make sure you all regretted dearly.” I let out a groan as Tristan’s power overrode Jesric, who let out an evil laugh. Tristan just stood there, silent. He, too, crouched before me. He put a hand on my shoulder, and I let out a loud curse as a jolt went through me. He nodded to Jesric before everything went dark.
Curses other than my own filled my ears as Ari, Skyler, Davina, a werepup, and the rest surrounded us. “Fuck!” Ari yelled.
“Holy shit!” Skyler exclaimed.
“Damn,” Davina muttered.
“Not you, too,” Liana growled. The werepup came over and started sniffing me.
“Amaris!” Davina snapped and picked her up. Amaris let out a woof, but her silver eyes were trained on me. Davina put the pup down and glared at her. “Shift, it’s going to take all of us to heal him.”
“Great,” I groaned. “Tell me I don’t have demon shit in me.”
Davina arched an eyebrow and snorted. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” I shrugged, and then grimaced as a new wave of pain ripped through me. “Well, let me tell you now. You don’t look good.”
“What do I do?” a child-like voice asked. Tristan, who still had his hand on my shoulder, straightened and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Bleed him,” Tristan growled. Amaris nodded and held out her hand to Davina, who took it and drew closer to me. A dark blue shirt appeared in Ari’s hand, and she threw it to the werepup. Amaris blinked before catching it and pulling it over her head. It covered her naked body completely as she knelt in my blood. My entire body began to tingle as magic filled the air. I tried to move away, but Tristan—the fucking bastard—appeared on my other side. His eyes met mine, and I knew nothing else, as darkness crashed over me.SKYLER
TU-KRA-TADA-LIN-CA-HREZA, the spell to drain a body of its vital fluid, repeated over and over in the little shifter’s mind as she drew power from her mentor, Davina. I walked over to them and put my hand on Amaris’s head. She looked up at me, but she didn’t stop her chanting as I pushed my own energy into the spell. Tristan, Liana, and Ari stood as still as statues, watching. Trynnadon was out like a light and unaware of everything that was happening to him. Blood erupted from him a few seconds later, but Amaris never stopped her silent chanting, even when black ichor touched her skin. The only sign that she felt the burning at all was an escaped whimper. She squeezed her eyes shut and her mouth firmly closed as more blood rained on and around us. Ari and Liana forced Tristan into the hallway and into one of the rooms. A moment later, Davina dropped the girl’s hand and went straight for the bathroom. I didn’t blame her in the least, because she had to get that demon blood off her before it could eat away at her skin or seep into her bloodstream. Amaris stopped chanting, and I grabbed her, flashing away as the remaining blood exploded from Trynnadon like a geyser. “Into the bathroom, now,” Ari said from the hall. “Skyler, grab Tryn.” I set Amaris on her feet and flashed back to Trynnadon. Cursing at the fact that I had to carry him, I bent and lifted him into my arms. I cursed some more as black blood burned me. I flashed into the bathroom, and we all jumped into the huge tub as the door slammed shut. Amaris still had her eyes shut as I gave Trynnadon over to Ari and I began to strip out of my clothes. “You all stay here,” she muttered before disappearing with Trynnadon. Amaris let out a yelp as Davina dumped an entire bottle of body wash on her.
“Was that necessary?” I asked, frowning as I scrubbed myself, until I was red all over.
“You tell me,” the witch muttered, washing Amaris until the poor complaining girl was covered in bubbles. I smirked and gathered up the clothes, tossing them into the sink to be burned later. Through the walls, I could hear Tristan cursing up a storm, probably because he couldn’t eat anyone at the moment. Poor guy, I silently snorted and held back a chuckle. I looked the witch up and down, making damn sure there was no blood on her. As for Amaris, I didn’t have to worry, because when Davina was done with her, she’d be as clean as a newborn babe. Oh, she could overpower the witch with little effort, but from what I’ve seen so far, they were as close as mother and daughter. I smiled and stepped out, steam billowing around me as I reached for a towel and wrapped myself in it.
“Are you feeling okay?” I asked her. Davina nodded. “Have Tristan sniff you both before you leave.”
“Are you kidding me?” she spluttered. “I don’t have vampire hearing like you do, but even I can hear him cursing up a blue moon. I am not going anywhere near him until he has his head on straight.”
I put up a hand, stopping her. “Okay,” I said. “Okay, you made your point.” I glanced at the closed bathroom door. “Will you let Allia? She is the next best vampire on the list, and she just happens to be here.” Davina scowled as the door open.
“Not to worry,” Allia drawled, stepping into the bathroom. “I fed before I came here. I won’t have the urge to bite you…” She paused. “Much.”
“How reassuring,” Davina said dryly. Shaking my head, I stepped from the bathroom, only to pull up short as Allia’s cold hand wrapped around my upper arm.
“And you my dear.” I groaned. “Tristan and Ari will have my head if there’s even a trace of poison in your blood. Just because you don’t have any opened wounds anywhere on your body. It doesn’t mean shit when it comes to demons.” I sighed and let her pull me closer. She turned me to face her, and I stood very still as she leaned in. I let out a yelp as her fangs sank into my neck. She pulled back a second later, looking thoughtful as she savored my blood. Tristan suddenly stopped cursing, and I stiffened, holding my breath. Allia finally swallowed and nodded. “You are clean,” she said, and I was gone before Tristan had the bright idea to come after me. I shuddered, as Allia’s laugh rang in my mind.