"So Natasha, what do you think we should do with this Arizona trespasser?" Renee was now really getting into her role as my straight man. She fed me a slight grin. Simon and Harry were slow in shaking off the spell a witch named, Trevor, had cast on them with the help of some others dead and gone. I wasn't counting on them being able to fang in and drain Cynthia. I could smell the dirt and ozone that let me know Carlos and Marcus had almost finished shifting back to their human bi-pedal shapes. As werewolves they had done some great work in taking down the vampires Cynthia had brought with her to this parkside meet.
I was still wondering were Jasmine was. She seemed to have a clue on how to disenchant Simon and Harry. They were nearly conscious of what was happening, but I still thought Cynthia could freeze them again. Whatever whammy was used caused them to be tricked into thinking Cynthia was part of our clans and untouchable. They fell into a semi-unconscious state when she spoke and was near them. Not good for the rest of us. I had yet to see her actually control them in any manner to cause us any harm, but it was still dancing in my brain.
Harry had vouched for Jasmine and she said that she knew Trevor. This mixture of witches and vampires was a concern of mine. Even with Jasmine's position as a vampire's mistress I didn't automatically trust her. For a long-lived vampire, trust was a quality that was tough to earn. Within my own family of vampires I had been attacked. Hell, who was I kidding, my dead fledgling had been actively trying to get me killed for decades.
"Hmmm," I continued, staring at the little vampire down the end of my sword. She'd yet to even flinch. I was clueless who she could have left at her call to defend her vague honor. We'd pretty much decimated her personal minion inside two days.
Standing next to the Lily Pond in front of the turn of the century Botanical Building in Balboa Park, I felt frozen in time. Holding the Civil War sword at the throat of a young vampire with severe delusions of grandeur I doubted she appreciated any of the irony of the location being older than her, the weapon held at her throat even a few decades older than the buildings, not to mention that most of us vampires had her by a century at least.
Her youthful arrogance was obvious to us all. Not that it caused her to hold her tongue. Eyes flashing, she grinned with her baby fangs exposed. They were white and pristine. They nearly looked like fake implants but with the minions she'd turned I knew that she'd learned to use them.
"You are a fool," she spit out, thankfully without a lisp. Renee's fingers were still firmly entangled in the vampire's dark waist length hair. I could see that Renee was enjoying yanking the vampire around by her roots.
"Seems like you are the fool here," I calmly answered having steel at her throat. Simon and Harry were still shaking off the effects of being bewitched but I could sense a glimmer of life was now back behind their gazes and that comforted me. I couldn't count on them to help if Cynthia broke free from Renee and me, but at least they seemed more like vampires and less like wax figurines.
She pointedly ignored the sword tip at her neck and tossed back her head while laughing somewhat maniacally. Her head tossing allowed her the momentum to physically yank her hair free from Renee's grasp at the cost of a fistful of hair. Renee looked uncomprehendingly at the entwined locks for a heartbeat.
I slid and side stepped with Cynthia denying her the ability to immediately escape. Further making my own point I thrust my blade into the vampire skewering her effortlessly. The flicker in her eyes let me know that she hadn't expected me to have any skills with the weapon. Her mistake, and it wasn't her first, and it looked like quite possibly it could be her last. Renee shook herself free of her bemusement and let the shed hair fall from her fingers to the ground. They puddled into the shadows instantly invisible in the darkness.
Fury flashed over her face and she growled, "You have no idea who you're dealing with!"
"Actually I do."
Simple replies always made the best impression adding in the sword in my hand holding her like a badly made shish kabob I waited. Her shoulders had tensed and I could feel that she was still trying to find a stray vampire to mentally drain of their strength in order to fight us. From the angle I had her it wasn't like she could just jump off the blade.
Her eyes flickered towards Simon and Harry. She mentally pushed at them. I could smell her hesitation. She wasn't sure how to get them to help her.
Renee solved the problem rather elegantly. Taking both of her hands clasped together and swung directly at Cynthia's temple. If Renee had been holding a bat in her fists the rogue vampire would've flown a hundred feet at least. As it was the unexpected blow sent Cynthia off the sword sideways where she landed a good twenty feet on the ground. I leaped after and pinned the unconscious vampire into the grass with a hard downward thrust. I deliberately avoided her heart somewhat mocking how her little minion had pinned my fledgling into Harry's guesthouse flooring. I pierced the spot just a finger's width away from immediate death so that a twist of the swords and she'd be dead. I watched her revive and in her eyes she finally recognized her precarious position.
Hate colored her words, "Who the hell do you think you are?"
Laughing I said, "I'm the one with the big ass sword currently pinning your pathetic body into the ground. And if you don't lose that snotty attitude I'll be the one twisting your soul back to hell with my blade."
I was rather proud of the statement -- and the fact that I hadn't killed her outright. It truly was tempting, but I needed to make sure she wasn't needed in uncursing my vampires before I sent her to hell, or worse -- back to Arizona in the summertime.
Besides, the whole magic bit with spells and incantations gave me the creeps. As I'd thought about Cynthia and how nice it would be to quickly remove her from the universe, there was a rather distinct possibility that she'd have to give Jasmine something first. I didn't let any of my thoughts leak out but flashed my own fangs and waited for Renee to join me. She took a cautious step to me and shot me a sheepish look. She mouthed, 'Sorry' and I resisted giggling at her. She really thought I cared that I had to chase after the bratty vampire and pin her to the ground? It actually had been a bit of fun. And I got to use my sword again. I was really starting to like the sword.
"Oh, look she actually bleeds!" Renee taunted.
"Yeah, I would've thought her blood would nearly be gone with all her minions."
Renee nodded, understanding my partially cryptic statement.
When vampires were first made, there were times when the Master had to feed the fledgling almost hourly in order to sustain their lives. Not that she'd have to worry much about that anymore. There weren't any minion left for her here near as I could tell. She moaned and let her eyelid fall feigning that she'd drifted off in pain. I knew better but let her stew in her own juices and ponder her situation. There was no way she'd given up despite her posing.
Simon and Harry still kept their distance. Carlos and Marcus sauntered back to us with grins. The werewolves had transformed back into their human forms like I'd thought. Standing near Simon and Harry they let Renee and me deal with the wayward vamp. From what I'd learned, Cynthia had popped into town with her entourage to make some kind of treaty with Kenyon regarding territory. The upcoming wedding between Renee, Kenyon's vampire, and Carlos, alpha for a large pack and his territory encompassed a significant chunk of the West, had created an opportunity for Kenyon. Kenyon's alliance with Cynthia and her vampires wasn't sanctioned by any official, much less the Council, but was rather yet another questionable back-door deal that Kenyon was growing infamous for amongst his peers and enemies.
I wasn't Kenyon's peer but my Master, Simon, sanctioned me, as did other vampires like Harry, thus allowing me to handle certain sorts of problems. And Cynthia definitely fell into that category of such a problem with her entering Southern California and bringing with her rogue vampires in the bargain. Her wheeling and dealing with Kenyon had resulted in her digging her own grave, so to speak. Not that I'd be planting her anywhere but it wasn't for me to explain how young vampires ended up little more than dust in the wind once slain.
My palm itched to twirl the sword, killing Cynthia rather than waiting any longer for Harry's friend Jasmine to show up. It would be so easy to cut out her heart then completely sever her head from her shoulders -- it would be pretty fatal so I resisted. Barely.
The evening's air was still heavily tainted with the soot and ash from the blazes still ripping through the various dry bushes and brush in the surrounding countryside. The fires were hopping freeways and communities bringing with them their own brand of fear and death. It wasn't unheard of to have fires last for a week or more before being fully contained. The county had so much dry grass and scrub that the firefighters weren't able to cut off the fuel from the flames -- looking towards the East I could see a faint glow in the dark sky that wasn't from the streetlights.
Even with the smoky air I could smell an unusual aroma. I didn't figure it out for nearly a full minute -- it wasn't vampire, werewolf or human but otherly. I concluded that it had to be the creature called Jasmine and she didn't smell like flowers but empty.
The dead speaker, witch, medium -- what have you -- wasn't human anymore. There was a tinge of anxiety rolling off her, and I saw that Cynthia tightened and perked up. She wasn't even trying to hide that she was deeply inhaling the scent on the wind. Her nostrils flared and she sighed.
Her eyes snapped open and she glared up the length of my sword still impaling her. Instead of looking worried or even concerned she smiled her cute little girl grin and said, "Now you're in for it. My pet is coming."
A flicker of worry ran through me when I decided that Cynthia was mistaken in her thinking that the approaching magically filled creature was her witch. Trevor, I think was his name, wasn't going to be anywhere anytime soon. Knowing Harry, his clean up crew already had the witches left back at the guesthouse in shallow graves inches from where the fires were burning. It was a common practice to burn witches either dead or alive and Harry struck me as a traditionalist when it suited him.
At least that was what I was counting on. Renee and her werewolves would have to handle the visitor, whatever flavor showed up. I found that Cynthia was attempting even harder to push into my mind to bend me to do her bidding. Slightly twisting my hand I pushed against the corner of her black heart with my sword. She hissed at the touch of the cold steel and stopped her mental mastery game.