Riley, Gordon and Kirk were quite literally flung into the room with Star right behind them. She was doing that weird flickering back-and-forth thing again with her psychotic interpretation of glamor. Creepy ass shit kept merging between the cute innocent look of a human and that not so nice side of her Fey nature. Funny, but I seemed to be the only one who noticed. The three werewolves weren't furred out, but I could feel the energy and heat rolling off all of them. They were ready to flip to the werewolf side with little effort. She'd done a major whammy on them in the past hour since I'd last been with them. I wanted to thump their heads together so they'd figure out that creature wasn't their friend.
Star was screaming and orange spittle flew from her lips. "Well, fools, where the fuck is that bitch Esmeralda?"
I hadn't realized she spit orange. Not something pretty in the least -- nope, very gruesome.
She stomped her foot, and a slush of gold coins flowed off the closest shoulder-high pile of treasure in the cave and nearly knocked her over. Screaming louder, "Well, Riley? You said she painted a path for you to follow. We followed that path to this damn room. You know -- the one that was bolted from the OUTSIDE!"
I hadn't slipped out and bolted the door after I arrived. I distractedly wondered how the hell it had been latched once I'd come into the salt cavern and met up with the dragon. Then there was a cold breeze that ran across my face and the faint creature I'd freed earlier in the salt mine appeared next to me. I was lurking behind a huge stack of full wooden chests on the other side of the room, as far from the door as I could get. Joining me in the shadows of the crates furthest from the newcomers, the wisp was the withered and almost invisible named Parrot. I'd met the creature when I'd let it out of a silver-lined cage a few forks back in the tunnels before I ultimately arrived at Sapphire's lair. So either it hadn't been able to escape, or had stayed around to see what kind of trouble I would get into. I knew that it had to be the one that had latched the bolt back in place once I'd come into the dragon cave -- not that I'd ever heard or even noticed the exit being blocked. An itch of worry wandered through my thoughts that maybe Parrot wasn't as sweet as I'd thought, or lost -- and had wanted to see if I was going to be gobbled by the dragon, hence the door being locked.
Just further proving to me that it was really tough to trust any creature, above ground or below. This is why I didn't have many friends. I really missed Uncle Harry.
The wisp edged closer, and said very softly into my ear furthest from the crowd at the doorway, "Was not to trap you with dragon. Knew dragon long time ago had one like you. Sapphire's in the hidey-hole up top right?" It pointed directly at the spot the dragon had fled to before the werewolves and Fey had arrived. I nodded, not wanting to risk Riley hearing my voice. If Parrot hadn't been right next to me, I would never have heard a single sound and from the posture of the werewolves, they hadn't heard Parrot either.
I nodded my thanks and as quickly as Parrot had appeared the creature was gone. Another stack of teetering treasures further away from both Sapphire and me went crashing down and I guessed it was Parrot's parting action. Star squeaked slightly and commanded Kirk, "Go see what caused that."
Gordon dryly offered, "Rats?"
Star spun and smacked the werewolf with an open hand, yet his face snapped with the slap as if she'd taken a full out-of-the-ballpark swing with a two-by-four to his head. She hadn't pulled the punch at all, and it sure appeared that she wasn't playing nice any more. Fey strength seemed to be up for tagging werewolves harder than any other creatures I'd ever seen. But what really stunned me was that Gordon just took it, then tilted his head back and let loose a howl that bounced and echoed around the cave as if a pack was singing with him. It was a song of pain and yet joy.
Star really was creeping me out in a very nasty way. She was glowing with the sound and flickering back and forth between a human-looking woman and something not -- she was feeding off Gordon's pain. Gordon's face flexed and the bruise from the blow brightened and then dimmed as his werewolf nature absorbed the slap. Werewolves really healed fast, even faster if they changed to their werewolf nature, and since he was on the cusp of changing, there wasn't a mark to see where she'd struck. Still it had to have hurt.
There was nobody to defend him, with Kirk going to check out the falling gold coins on Star's command, while Riley was glancing around the room as if something was bugging him. Then I heard a trace of his thoughts, Where the hell are you, Emma? Harry's going to fucking kill me if you're lost or worse. That's if Star doesn't devour me first. What was Gordon thinking taunting her like that?
Not directed at me, but nevertheless I felt as if Riley was actively waiting to see if I would answer him. The likelihood of that happening was pretty much not ever in this lifetime or the next. I only accepted Uncle Harry in my head and the idea of conversing with Riley in my thoughts was definitely disturbing.
Seeing that Riley wasn't focusing his immediate attention on her seemed to piss off Star to another level of nasty. She stomped her foot and picked up a sword from the nearest pile. To my horror, I saw it was solid silver. No lie. Silver killed werewolves. Not all the legends told about supernaturals were misdirection -- that one was true, that silver and weres don't mix at all. She swung it for his head. Without a thought, I popped in front of her and met the blade with the one Sapphire had gifted me. She looked stunned. I did something very impulsive -- even for me -- I used the hilt and clobbered Star in the face. She dropped the sword and grabbed her now-bleeding nose. Her glamor didn't hold and the blood flowing was a mixture of green and orange, two colors in my mind that really didn't mix well. She kept flickering and Gordon and Riley were frozen.
Then I did my next impulsive move for the night: looking upwards, I shouted, "Sapphire, I have a gift for you!"
Sapphire flew down from the ceiling and took Star as I pushed her directly into the dragon's claws. Star didn't even have a chance to say a single word much less utter a sound as Sapphire snapped the Fey's head off. Star's body shifted between human and not. She then began to slump, minus her head, naturally, and Sapphire snagged her folding form and chomped and flipped the body up and caught her in her jaws then crunched and swallowed. That was that for Star. The orange spittle was forgotten as now I had my brain wrapping around the visual decapitation of the Fey and Sapphire's devouring her like a piece of fried chicken. She crunched happily on the bits of bones left in her mouth and a slight green mist escaped as she burped. Her eyes glowed golden and bright. She was very happy, I could tell.
I did wonder if that meant we were all now stuck down here, and if my bounty would be increased once the word got out I intentionally had a Fey creature snuffed by a dragon. That two point five million dollar dead or alive bounty was more than likely going to increase even in these downwardly mobile times. Like there weren't enough folks looking for me.
Speaking of looking -- all three of the werewolves had totally shocked looks on their faces. Their mouths gaped open, and I resisted making a comment about it since I kinda had given the okay for her to get gobbled down by Sapphire. Calling her a gift did make it my fault, I guess. Who was I kidding? I had been totally fantasizing about harming Star since the second I'd seen her. I never had figured a dragon in my little what-if drama scenes I'd played with in my mind, but it fit. Besides, I mean really, Star was ready to skewer Riley. Nobody hurt my friends. I swallowed an odd thick feeling in my throat at the thought I considered Riley a friend, and I looked over to see that the three werewolves were still frozen, staring at me.
Snapping my fingers in front of Riley's face, I hissed, "What was I supposed to do? Just let Star make you a were-shish kabob? I don't think so."
Riley audibly gulped then cleared his throat saying, "I don't know if I should shake you, hug you or kill you."
"Damn, are those my only offers? What about thanking me? She nearly took your head off with a silver sword!" Ungrateful werewolf.
All three of them stared at me and finally Gordon said, "Well, my lady, you have done Riley a service. Even if he's too ill-mannered to realize it."
"Ah, guys, you realize that Star was sucking your life from you?" I questioned carefully.
Again I got the stares but this time there was a bit of horror and concern lacing their features. One for me -- it seemed they did hear what I was saying.
Kirk cleared his throat then said, "Okay, how do you know this?"
"Ah, hello, you all were puffed up ready to flip furry when you were tossed into this cave?"
Perplexed, Gordon asked, "So? We are werewolves after all. Why does that mean something?"
"Because she made you flock to her like starving puppies, and then stand around her frozen while she sucked your life force out -- I could see it," I admitted, then I added, "and she kept flickering on and off with her glamor while doing that."
They all looked like I'd picked up another sword then wielding both blades stabbed them all in the guts. But then I guessed that they didn't know Star had been doing that to them.
Sapphire not-so-delicately burped again with more green mist and then firmly said, "She was evil, dumb asses."
Given her size and her talent for shredding creatures, they kept silent and didn't voice their opinions.
Sapphire offered that odd freight-train chuckle, startling the werewolves even further. I'd already grown somewhat used to the sound and didn't even raise an eyebrow. The weres were frozen, and not saying a word, but I knew they were communicating with each other. I didn't try to horn in on their thoughts because I didn't want to open the door for Riley to peek into my mind. I had plenty going on, and didn't want to hear his thoughts on mine.
Finally some decision was made and Riley commented, "Okay, so now that Star's dead, I guess we won't be going out through her portal, huh?"
Dry humor isn't just for breakfast anymore it seemed. I wanted to smack him with the sword for his comment but resisted. Sapphire huffed some green mist into the werewolves' faces and said, "Are you all that stupid? Star wasn't the only Fey involved with trapping all of us down here, you know."
I watched something dawn in Kirk's eyes.
"The Gatekeeper is still here?"
"Of course, where else was there to go?" Sapphire seemed smug with her knowledge.
I was rather impressed.