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September 26, 2022

Strange Bedfellows 70

By Lydia Manx

I felt a punch in my stomach and found myself back in the gray again, the nothingness somewhere between Balboa Park and the South Carolina town where I'd been watching yet another drama unfold, "Natasha, you can't keep disappearing like that. I might think that you didn't like me. You do like me don't you?" He snickered and it was an ugly sound.

Resisting the urge to growl I instead said, "Everything." It was a taunt but my stomach hurt from the mental jab, even though I knew it was all in my mind. His psychic attacks of me were stronger than I ever remembered experiencing before, and that was upsetting to say the least. I wanted to torment the unseen demon who'd whisked me from my world into the past during the American Civil War. I knew that the entity wasn't a vampire and having met witches and psychics recently, I figured that this had to be a demon by the simple process of elimination. I was captivated by the unfolding story of Charles, and seeing Renee in another world -- hell, another time -- was beyond informative.

He screamed and tried to swing at me again. I felt a whoosh of air and as I faded. Yet again I ducked out from his anger and went back into that other time. His screams were loud and made me laugh. I'd pay for it, I knew, but it was worth it.

1863: Fall in South Carolina, at Willow's house ...

Feeling the anger directed at him, Charles instinctively shouted, "Down."

He promptly jumped on Renee while he'd shouted, and then shoved her into the freshly fallen snow. Charles looked for the unseen furious creature. An arrow twanged into the wood behind them on the frame of the door so he knew that he hadn't overacted to the threat. Feeling the sheer malevolence aimed at him he knew he had to act fast. He couldn't find the attacker with his eyes. Vampiric vision was good, but he still didn't see anyone in the distance.

"What the hell?" Two more arrows thunked into the door above their heads.

He yanked Renee physically inside the dwelling while slamming shut the thick door. When he slammed the door shut, he heard more thuds as the arrowheads hit the dense wood. The sword was glowing blue-purple in his hand, not the blue-green as when he'd killed the mad vampire with Renee's help. The two women came running. Hearing more arrows thumping into the house he commanded, "Get back to the living room now!" Rose and Willow stopped dead in their tracks and shrieked at the sound of the arrows aiming for the home.

Wren came to see what was causing all the commotion, and a nearby window shattered, and the arrows following thwacked into the boards just above her head.

She in turn shrieked and dropped her embroidery. The women all ran for the living room. Charles cursed and followed.

"Do you think they are Indians firing at us?" Willow asked from behind the couch where she quickly covered Wren's body with her own. Wren was silent which seemed to Charles unusual in children, but he wasn't even sure of her age; since the blood of Renee ran through her veins, she could easily be much older than she appeared. There was so much for him to absorb and his brother, Beau, had much to explain. That was if he even still alive.

"No, I think they are something else." That was all he volunteered. He didn't see the need to guess, since he didn't know yet what they were, either. Somehow he knew it was related to Rose's surprise pregnancy. The 'Italian Couple' new to the area that had flitted through Willow's thoughts seemed to be the likeliest candidates.

"Why are they shooting arrows at us?" Rose wasn't crouching behind furniture, but had grabbed a knife from the kitchen and holding it defensively in front of her belly. Even though she hadn't planned on being pregnant, her natural instincts to protect the unborn child in her womb showed fiercely on her face.

"Because they can?" Charles said while trying to figure out how many of them were hiding in the trees -- or were there just the suspected two? Catching Renee's eyes, he tilted his head indicating that he was going to go out the bedroom window -- at least he assumed that was a bedroom behind the doorway off the kitchen. Unseen by the women, she nodded her approval.

Renee then caught Rose's gaze and said, "Let's get behind the couch with Willow and Wren while Charles takes care of this matter."

Charles nodded, still holding the blade and opened the door, and he was pleased to see there was a window in the rather small bedroom. He shut the door behind him because he planned on moving a tad faster than the average person and didn't need to explain it to the humans. Renee would blur their minds if need be, but with all the brain tampering that had been going on lately, Charles would feel better if they didn't need to have another episode of fuzziness to worry about, with all the existing problems.

The blade wasn't glowing as brightly, so he figured that meant the creatures weren't just outside the window. He opened the window as carefully as he could and was happy that the pane eased up with very little noise. Once it was opened enough that he could squeeze out, he did, and he decided to close the window so as to not make it easy for anyone else to pop in and harm the women. He knew that Renee would know if it wasn't him entering the house, but didn't want them to have to contend with Rose attacking someone with her knife.

Rose definitely wasn't a peaceful woman. He liked her fire. Shaking that notion out of his mind, he tried to walk quietly in the fresh snow. The ice on top crunched underneath his feet and he wasn't pleased with sound. He decided to forgo the stealth and instead use his vampiric speed. He heard another volley of arrows hitting the front of the door and headed for the tree line. Once he got to the trees he ran in a loop heading back towards the house out of the visual line of sight. His efforts paid off. He watched the sword begin to glow so he slowed down.

There were two forms flat on a snow bank plinking arrows easily down the slope to Willow's home. They were laughing.

"How much longer are we going to do this, my darling?" The male voice was heavily accented. They weren't Italian but from Central Europe, Charles knew instinctively. It was easy to make the mistake if one had never traveled further than the Atlantic Coast for crab and lobster.

"Until she comes out." A female answered while shooting another arrow towards the broken window.

"I thought that you wanted a child?" His voice was amused but the woman beside him stiffened.

"I want to have our own child -- not for her to have yours." There was a definite snarl and she let loose a few more arrows through the broken window. Charles could hear that they hit wood not flesh. Renee was keeping them behind the couch for now. He wasn't sure how much longer she'd be able to do that before an arrow got a piece of one of the women inside. Or Wren -- if that happened there would be no stopping the women from coming outside.

"Darling, I was trying to please you." His voice was still amused but Charles could hear the trace of arrogance behind the words. He had gotten Rose pregnant because he wanted to and not because he needed to create a new life for his mate. Charles knew it intuitively. The male was of a type of man that Charles had seen more and more in humanity. The divine right to do what they wanted whenever they wanted was something the society was accepting more and more. It couldn't end well, but it was what people were allowing. More than once on the battlefield that sort of stupidity felled many boys and men when they shouldn't have died.

She growled and said, "You are a liar. I should fire these arrows at you not her."

Her accent grew heavier as she spoke with anger lacing her voice. She tossed her head and her dark hair was dusted with thick flakes of snow that flew off her like a dog shaking off water. The motion wasn't human but something otherly and Charles wasn't getting a good feeling about the couple. Her whole body stiffened and she wasn't firing arrows so Charles risked a few carefully placed cautious steps on the brittle snow getting closer to the unsuspecting pair.

"Darling," he, too, had stopped firing and was stroking her face with an extremely hairy hand. Something in how he was touching her gave Charles a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

It was then that Charles sniffed the air. He could smell the forest on the wind and then got a real whiff of the two creatures. He bit back his first instinct to pounce and tear into them with the sword. He didn't know why but he was reluctant to kill them. He figured the Civil War had been making him weak. These two weren't vampires at all but werewolves. Instincts, with centuries of animosity to back him, suddenly flared as he reacted to seeing the werewolves on his turf. Their scent was pushing at him beyond reason. Vampires and werewolves were territorial and he felt linked to the land because of Willow, Rose and Wren. The blood of his own brother ran through many of the humans in the surrounding town, further giving him ownership.

His fangs filled his mouth. He saw that the male wasn't aware of him and he took his chance and without a sound he leaped onto the back of the werewolf still in his human form. With a two-handed swing he freed the creature's head from its body. The male never had a chance to take a single breath to shift before he died. That wasn't the case with the female. Howling in mindless rage, she shifted brutally, nosily and effortlessly. Charles could smell the magic charged air as she shifted. It wasn't normal -- but werewolves weren't normal as far as Charles was concerned.

The sword was still glowing blue-purple and a different type of energy flowed from the sword through him. It was a seductive power. His senses sharpened and he jumped back as the female werewolf swung a fist full of deadly sharp claws at his chest. She'd been trying to literally rip his heart from his chest. Had she connected Charles knew she'd carve a deep hole into him. The claws of a werewolf weren't fatal to vampires, Charles knew, as they could be for humans, but they still could inflict massive amounts of damage on a slow vamp.

Giving no thought to his movements he began swinging and jumping in a dance of death as the sword continued to glow blue-purple. She was overwhelmed by his thrusts and kept trying to claw out his heart and thankfully missing. Instinctively Charles knew that the speed afforded him was borrowed from slaying of the male werewolf, so he pushed fast and hard to destroy the were as he was well aware and he knew that the enhancements were temporary at best. Werewolves had lightning speed and the female trying to kill him was no exception. She kept spinning and pouncing furiously attempting desperately to connect with his skin and rip into his body.

Huffing out a breath the werewolf spoke, "Who are you?"

The accent was somewhat diminished by her canine jaw line and fury but Charles clearly heard her.

"A friend of the woman you are trying to kill," he swung while she was distracted by his reply and connected the blade to her chest. The thwack reverberated up his arm and into his body filling him with more of everything. Using his vampiric speed he continued to press on. He swung and he sliced rapidly, wielding the deadly weapon, not giving any quarter. Soon the female werewolf joined her mate wherever it was that dead weres went. Charles didn't much care where they went once they passed on just that they were no longer shooting arrows at the humans. He didn't expect the feeling of satisfaction that flowed through his body.

He pondered the blade once more.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-01-03
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