“So,” Ketra hissed excitedly into my ear. “What’s it going to be? Learn how to control those stinking dogs? Or kill first then turn them into puppets? Oh, wait, I think I like turning them into puppets better when they’re alive. Just look at them. They’re so cute. Whose side do you think they’re on? What do you think? Do you think they’ll be good—?”
“Ketra,” I said through gritted teeth. “Shut. Up.”
“Oh, hey look, here come the vampires. Do you think I can kill one of them? Oh, that one looks about ready to cabob a demon—”
“You stupid imp!” I hissed and slapped her. “I will cabob you myself if you don’t shut up this instant! Honestly, were you imps created just to annoy me and me only?”
“Well—” She let out a squeal of pain as I grabbed hold of her tail and squeezed it hard. Her claws dug into my upper arm and shoulder as she continued her squealing. “My tail, let go of my tail!” I winced as she dug her claws in deeper and broke the skin. “Hellhounds,” she squealed.
I released her tail and looked around. “Where?”
“On their way. I can feel them.”
“If you’re shitting with me, I will stick you, roast you over an open fire and feed you to my python.”
“No need. Oooo, you have a snake?” I sighed and wonder if Jesric would forgive me if I accidentally killed one of his imps. Incoming, Lorena hissed into my mind. I nodded and pried Ketra’s claws from my arm, setting her on the ground.
“Don’t leave without telling me,” I growled to the imp. “Clear?”
“Crystal clear, Ketra squeaked and scuttled away before I could get out another word. “Fucking imps,” I muttered.
“They are like spoiled five-year-olds,” a female voice hissed from behind me. Stiffening, I turned and almost let out a gasp at the demon in front of me. She flipped something into the air just as my instinct to kill took over. Forcing myself not to lunge for her, I instead caught what looked like a half dollar sized silver coin from the air. Blinking, I looked down at it in confusion. On the surface was a hand holding a bloody heart, and around the edge of the coin were runes. Relaxing slightly, I frowned at them, trying to remember what they were used for. I flipped it over and stared at the numbers 1010-1-1001-1100-11001-1110. “Do you recognize it?” the demon growled. I nodded and held out the coin to her. She took it and gave me a questioning look.
She nodded. “And those runes are summoning runes.”
“Ah,” I said, light bulb going off in my mind. “I remember now.”
“Sathia and you are?”
“Violet,” I said and stared at her claws. Sathia nodded, her wings shifting behind her. Her scales were black, and her green eyes glowed like a dimmed nightlight. The tips of the horns glistened, as if coated with venom. They probably were.
“You are new to necromancy, are you not?”
I grimaced. “Well, not really, but I’m starting to get into the more fun stuff.”
She chuckled. “Jailyn knows what she is doing. Listen to her.”
I nodded. “Always do.”
She grunted and nodded off to my left. “Your family awaits you.”
“Where will you be?”
“I’ll be around. Just don’t attack if you see me.” She inclined her head and vanished into the shadows.
“Well then,” I muttered and turned to face the icy creek. Sighing, I walked alongside it, until I spotted Brynna up ahead. I flashed over to her, in time to get an up close look at a hellhound being impaled through the head. While Sathia and I were chatting, things were going on around us, like the fact she, Cole, and Lorena were being surrounded by demons.
“About time you joined us,” Cole drawled, kicking a snarling black-furred, glowing red-eyed hellhound away from him.
I snorted, unsheathing my blade and flipping it into the air. It flipped end-over-end and into another hellhound’s rear flank. “As you can see, I was busy talking to a demon.”
“Speaking of our friendly demon, where is she?”
I shrugged, and then ducked as another hellhound came at me. “Around. Her word, not mine.” Spinning, I lunged for the spitting hound. Unsheathing another blade, I stabbed it into its side. I cursed as claws slashed open my arm from shoulder to elbow. Hissing in pain, I leaned away from its snapping jaws of death. In the process of doing so, I fell sideways and landed hard on my other arm.
“Hey!” Cole snarled. “Come and have a go at me why don’t you, you disgusting mutt.” Still clutching at my weapon, I flashed to my feet and stabbed it into its belly, slashing it upward. It howled in pain, and I groaned as it raked its claws down my forearm.
“Bitch,” I growled and slammed it to the ground. “Fucking. Die!” I snarled and pummeled it, ignoring the burning of my wounds, the fact I wasn’t healing fast enough, and demon blood splashing on me. Oh, and I was stilled being clawed at, even as it slowly died. A moment later, I stopped my pummeling and slowly got up, growling.
“Fuuuuck,” Brynna groaned. “Fuck,” she exclaimed. “Did you have to beat it to death? A blade into the brain does nicely, you know.” Twenty feet off to my right, Sathia let out a whistle.
“Angry much?” the demon drawled.
“Yeah,” I said, groaning as the burning grew worse. Another hellhound let out a pained howl as Sathia stabbed her poisonous claws into its back. I let out a yelp as something landed on my own back, causing me to fall forward. I barely brought my hands up in time to prevent my face from impacting with the ground. It didn’t much matter a second later as my arms gave out, and I let out a pained scream as it—most likely an imp—dug its claws into my shoulders. Snarling, I reached deep inside me and for the icy cold of my magic. Breathing through the agonizing pain, I formed a tendril of shadow and whipped it behind me. From the loud shriek and the loosening of claws, I knew that I’d hit my mark. I let out another scream as more demon blood rained on me. Brynna’s enraged scream penetrated my pain-fogged mind as the imp’s weight lifted from me. Damn, I silently groaned. That was a total failure.
“Hey,” Sathia growled from above me. “Get your vampire ass up. There are five more hellhounds left.” In response, I just groaned. Then I felt something poking my ass. “Get up.”
“The fuck are you poking me with?” I mumbled.
“The tip of her tail,” Cole drawled. “And she is right, get up.”
“Yes,” Sathia hissed. “Get up or I’m going to poison you some more.”
“What?” I shrieked and popped off the ground. Of course, the moment I was upright, I would’ve fallen on my face again if she hadn’t grabbed me.
“Relax,” Sathia said as I began to hyperventilate. Can vampires even hyperventilate?
“Sathia,” Jailyn growled, and there was no hypnotic pull to her voice this time. It was low and guttural—something I never heard coming from her. I felt an icy blast of death magic, and the remaining two hellhounds literally disintegrated before my eyes. Sathia and I both let out a shudder as she released me. Before I could fall, Jailyn was suddenly there. Her arms came around me, and she let out a hiss as her skin came in contact with the blood.
“You did not leave any of them alive for me,” Casiar snarled from behind me.
“I did my best to leave one alive for you,” I said sarcastically.
“The rest of you have any open wounds?” Jailyn snapped.
“Just her,” said Sathia. I let out a curse as more demons dropped from the sky. These weren’t flying hellhounds; they looked like flying porcupines, only they were black, had tentacles, and covered with deadly stingers.
“Oh, boy,” Lorena said with a heavy sigh. “We’re so dead.”
“They look adorable,” Jordana said happily as she came into sight, almost bouncing.
“Dana!” Brynna yelled. “What are you doing here?”
“Walking,” she said and pouted. “I can’t go for a walk?” Behind me, my sire let out a vicious curse. “Oh, brilliant,” Jordana continued, stopping and looking at me. “She doesn’t look good.” She turned and peered into the shadows. “Sire,” she called. “Porcupines.” She practically skipped over to us, her eyes on one of the demons. A moment later, it let out a screeching sound that briefly deafened me. I blinked as its head literally exploded, sending greenish stuff flying into the air. Brynna, who was the closest, let out a shriek and flashed several yards away from it. “Beautiful,” Jordana said cheerfully. “Just beautiful.”
“Not another step, young one,” Jailyn growled to her as she took a step toward it. A second later, Sven, Liana, Cailin, and Allia stepped from the shadows.
“Go on,” said Allia. “We will take care of things here.” Jailyn nodded. “Take Jordana with you.” My entire body was on fire, throbbing and pulsing in time with each beat of my heart. Casiar put a cold hand on my shoulder, and I almost let out a groan at the brief relief that came with the contact. Jailyn’s arms tightened around me as everything went dark.JESRIC
“The Haa’rezins are out,” Kaleentha hissed, her long poisonous spiked tail flickering from side to side in agitation. The Haa’rezins were descendant of the Talugas—more dangerous, and they were fast.
“We shall join the others,” I said and held out my hand to her. Kaleentha shrugged and put her clawed hand in mine. Everything went briefly dark, and when it lifted, we were surrounded by dog-sized demons with stingers covering their entire bodies. I was a little surprised when they didn’t automatically attack us. I nodded to Sathia who stood off to the side, watching as Brynna, Cole, and Lorena spoke softly to each other. “Stay here,” I said to my demon. When she nodded, I pulled the shadows to me, vanishing into its depths and shadow walked to Allia. She straightened and turned as she felt the icy brush of magic. I released my hold on the shadows and nodded to the Haa’rezins. “Why are they just standing there?”
Allia shrugged. “No idea.” She glared at the demons and let out a sigh. “Violet could use your help.”
I stiffened. “Don’t tell me,” I growled. “She has been poisoned.”
She grimaced. “More so than Trynnadon.”
I scowled. “The protector?”
I glared at the distant trees and frowned. “I’m leaving my Ahzeeki with you.”
She nodded. “Another Ahzeeki will help greatly.”
“Where is that damn imp of mine?”
“I do not know.” Shaking my head, I teleported back to Kaleentha’s side.
“You want me to stay?” she hissed.
“Very well, this shall be fun.”
“I believe it will be. If another vampire is poisoned, you will tell me immediately, got it?”
She nodded. “I give you my word, but where are you going?”
“I am going to help with Violet.” She nodded, and I was gone.
Violet’s scream of pain blasted my eardrums as I appeared in the middle of her living room. Following the sound to the bathroom, I stepped inside to find her struggling with Casiar. Apparently, she didn’t want him to drain her. Jailyn was saying something I couldn’t make out, but it looks as if none of her words were getting through. Casiar grunted as Violet smacked him in the head. It would’ve been funny if the situation wasn’t dire to begin with. “Can I help?” I asked, stopping just inside the door. “Shit,” I said as Violet’s eyes went white a second later, and they did not revert back to black. With an icy blast of magic, I barely teleported out of the way in time as Violet sent both Casiar and Jailyn flying out of the bathroom to smash through the opposite wall. Screaming on top of her lungs and covered in demon blood, she flashed into the hall and for the nearest exit. Thank the bloody devil that she couldn’t teleport. I flashed between her and the window, and she let out a snarl as we impacted in midair. She grunted as I slammed her up against a wall. I jerked back as her fangs came at my throat lightning fast. Casiar appeared beside her, and she let out a shriek. I released her and she hit the floor, clutching her head and writhing. Casiar bent and pulled her to her feet. Holding her tightly against him, he put a finger under her chin, lifting it until her white eyes met his. Jailyn stepped beside me, holding out a dripping white washcloth. With a nod of thanks, I took it from her and wiped the burning blood from my hands, arms, and neck. I’d still need a full shower, but for now, this would have to do. Jailyn unsheathed a blade and sliced through Violet’s shirt, pulling it off of her and tossing it onto the coffee table.
“Stop resisting and relax,” Casiar said, staring deep into her eyes. Violet quieted down some, her eyes flickering back to black and her shrieks turning into moans of pain.
“Just breathe,” Jailyn said soothingly, and I shuddered at the pull of her voice alone. “Do not fight us.”
“No,” Violet groaned as Jailyn nodded to me. I stepped up behind Violet as both she and Casiar held her still.
“Trust me,” I said, reaching out and stroking her cheek. Tossing the bloody cloth onto the coffee table, I unsheathed a blade and pressed it to her throat. “There are no witches available at this moment. This is the fastest way to rid you of poison. Reach for your magic and wrap yourself in the comfort of the cold, sister.” Violet took in a gasping breath, and on her exhale, I struck, laying open her throat. She gurgled on her own blood as the air became charged with death magic. Casiar let out a pained cough, rubbing his own neck. I smirked, taking a step back and sheathing my blade. “She is going to kill you both, you know,” I said and stared at the pale blue carpet the blood was quickly soaking up like a sponge.
Jailyn shrugged. “I rather save her life over something that can easily be replaced.”
I nodded. “You have a point, but don’t say I didn’t warn you beforehand.”
“Got the warning loud and clear,” she drawled, staring at the dark, dark blood. My nose burned, and I wanted to drop some demons on their asses. Perhaps my Ahzeeki would do the honor of being first.
“If you’re thinking of having a taste, sire, I might have to knock you senseless.”
Jailyn scowled. “Are you claiming I have no sense of self-control?”
“I did not say that.”
She sighed. “Even if I did, I know better not to.” The charge in the air dropped a notch, and Casiar held a torpored Violet against him.
“Shit,” he said tightly. “This will be fun,” he finished with a heavy sigh and disappeared with her. “Do you need me for something else?” I asked.
Jailyn shook her head. “Go find Ketra before she does something stupid.” I nodded before vanishing into thin air.