Sam unexpectedly burst out with deep belly laughs. That shocked the trolls and girls equally. I, on the other hand, was aware that Sam had an awfully warped sense of humor, so instead of saying anything I waited. It didn't take a minute for Rena to snip out, "What the hell do you find so funny?"
Had to give Rena points for verbal stupidity, given Sam had made their 'lord' shift out of his human form and settle back inside Jeff the cat. Not to mention caging the animal so Eddie couldn't slink outside and find others to feed his ego and his magical power. Sam also zapped out the stored magic in their store, revealing them without their glamour. Yeah, the twit thought that she could challenge that successfully. Rena was an idiot for her plotting and she was about to find out what Sam thought was so funny.
Still laughing, "All of you. You are so caught up in your own little dramas that you didn't bother to notice that I am in charge despite your attempts to plot."
A look of complete puzzlement went across their features and I was careful to not smirk. Sam glanced over to me and grinned widely. "How do you put up with such fools?"
He was feeding me lines, because he knew what I usually did with such creatures. I felt a tingle of energy go across my body and simply nodded over towards Adrienne. Sam spit out, "Done." And in English, not Latin, so they all knew precisely what he'd said. Adrienne dropped to the torn-up flooring like she was a marionette who just had its strings cut. She crumpled down without a sound. It took Rena a moment to absorb the woman's sudden new location. There wasn't a sound in the café except for the labored breathing of both the trolls, who were suddenly nearly hyperventilating over Adrienne's current position.
"With you around, Sam, I don't have to put up with them, now do I?" Unsaid was the little fact that I didn't need his help necessarily to do the same thing to any of them. He'd trained me well, and without Eddie's magic to fight off, I have been known in the past to take out a few creatures if properly motivated. And I certainly was motivated to leave them all preferably dead on the ground. They were pushing my patience and I wasn't clear why they needed to be here. For me, I'd be happy to see Sam zap them back to their homes elsewhere and let them work out the politics of lineage and loyalties to Eddie.
Catching some of the thoughts flowing through my mind, Sam flashed me a grin and I thought I heard Jeff make an odd noise that wasn't something I'd ever heard cats normally make. I think Eddie was half-listening to us while trying to gain power back from inside the cat form. Whatever he had stored up earlier was definitely spent for now, and with nobody who was nearby feeding him their energies with their worship and his sneaky way of pulling from them, he was hurting. I had witnessed firsthand his power of persuasion in the bar, and how those humans and even the ones that were possibly inhuman wanted his attention, his approval, and in turn he was happy to suck from them their adulation along with an ounce or two of something more. It was scary how little he cared who he drained or tricked.
It would be a tough job, being a deity in a world that worshiped money more than people or gods. Billions of humans with sadly very little spirituality left in their souls -- those who hadn't given all of theirs away -- and yes, we have certainly have souls and can give them away, not to mention those who rip them from unsuspecting humans or humans who think they are smarter than the predator. I pushed that thought out of my mind, not wanting to get the attention of any creature nearby that was hungry. It wasn't just Eddie who could pull energy from people, but numerous creatures known and relatively unknown. It isn't like there is a master list out there for us Hunters to check off as the ones that prey on souls. Either way those nasty things sucking down souls and stealing energy creeped me out in a big way.
"No, Delilah, you don't." He was amused by the whole scene and I saw that he was looking a bit better. I liked his smile, and his backing me up so I didn't have to fight them all by myself. I flashed him a quick smile of my own at Sam's agreement that I was capable of taking care of business. He would be the one who'd know, since he taught me.
I still wanted to find out what caused him to disappear for so long and where it was that he'd been as nobody in the committee seemed to know if he was dead or alive. Hunters tend to stay in touch with the home office, as it were, since we were dangerous and also often in danger. I had more than one brush with darker ones that would've happily turned me to their side if given the chance. And they hadn't to date been able to harm me because of Sam and others on our side. That he'd been able to fall off the radar for so long was an amazing feat with his position in the Hunters. He wasn't like me, semi-disposable, but more like part of the power structure that ran our group. I wondered how and where he'd been. The injuries I could feel from him were still not visible to me, but I could feel the ache deep inside Sam. But those questions were for another time.
Adrienne was still collapsed on the broken ground, and to my relief, Rena had stopped actively plotting with the princes. Matt and Bob hadn't been forgotten by me or Sam, but I was pretty sure that now Rena didn't even know that they were still in the room. Her link to Adrienne had developed over the decades, and it was more like they were part of each other. She was bonded to her.
Rena asked, "So now are you going to kill the rest of us?" She confirmed my stray thought that the two women were bonded deeply somehow. I knew that what Sam had fired off had cut that link between them like he'd severed off an arm or something vital. She didn't know that Adrienne was still alive.
I had looked at Adrienne right after she fell and knew that Sam hadn't killed her with his spell. I could see that she was still softly breathing but unconscious.
"She's not dead, yet," was my low reply. I didn't think much of them trying to harm us, but part of me still wasn't sure what the hell to do with them.
Sam had an idea.
"No, she's not dead. And I have an idea who would be the perfect person to assist in your relocation." He winked at me and said, "Archibald Roberts. As acting head of the local chapter of our company, Archie will be the best man to handle your situation."
It was all I could do to keep from choking on my tongue. I hated that creature and found him to be arrogant, high-handed and more than a little pissed off at me usually. I didn't have the time to fill Sam in on what I'd been up to in the past few weeks and how Archie had done everything in his power to screw me up when and wherever he could. That unsaid, there was no way that I wanted to stay here and turn them over to him, because I was pretty sure that he'd handcuff me and drag me along with them. I'd been ditching him and avoiding his calls, so I was pretty sure he wanted me locked up at the very least.
Matt looked at Sam and asked in a stronger voice, "Who is this Archibald Roberts? Is he your boss? Is he a Lord, like him?" Matt pointed at Jeff's cage and I noticed that Eddie's eyes were in the cat's face and I knew he was finally starting to find traces of power.
Matt was genuinely interested it seemed about Archie, and Sam let a slight growl leave his throat at the notion that Archie was his boss, much less a deity. Matt tossed up a hand as if that would repel any attacks from Sam. Both Matt and Bob were getting a bit greener well within a troll shade of discomfort as they stayed unglamoured and Sam was definitely freaking them out. They were used to being top predators in the territory, and Sam had alpha written all over him. I cleared my throat softly and glanced over to Jeff's glowing eyes. Sam sighed and flicked his hand towards the cage hissing out, "Reveal."
The power voice he used caused Jeff to instantly transform back into Eddie -- naked and curled inside the cage; the boxy shape was filled nearly completely by his body's expanding out of the cat shape. Eddie snarled out, "You will pay for this insult."
Oh yeah, Eddie hated anyone standing over him I'd observed, and it took him a full minute to feel the air conditioning on his bare skin. Without a word he was instantly clothed in blue jeans, boots and now a colorful t-shirt with a large seventies styled yellow happy face dead center over his heart. That was if he had a heart ... something not yet confirmed by me. He reached his fingers through the mesh and opened up the door. He nearly slithered out of the small opening and was fully standing up looking really pissed off.
"I doubt it, Eddie, right?" Sam asked drolly while glancing to see that Rena had taken a step towards Eddie as if by a compulsion she couldn't control which was possibly true.
Instead of waiting for Sam to do something, I flicked my hand out and snipped her strings. She fell lifelessly to the ground right next to her friend. Adrienne didn't move over so Rena was sprawled partially onto Adrienne. They looked rather awkward and with the flooring torn up I knew that they would have more than their fair share of bumps, bruises and gashes. I thought it was the least I could do. It didn't look like the princes were going anywhere and the two women were the real problems with Eddie back on his feet.
Eddie looked at Sam with absolute hatred and frustration that was obviously gnawing at his very center. He wasn't used to being taken off guard, and Sam was more than up to the challenge, I knew. Ever so softly Eddie replied, "Rena may not be able to pay your insult back, but I have noted it."
"Goody for you," I couldn't resist quipping while watching Eddie glow. Without as many creatures to watch out for in the café I knew I could push my sunglasses back up my face. It wasn't like anyone thought I was human anymore. My eyes caught Bob's attention, and his Adam's apple -- at least the troll equivalent -- went up and down his throat, and I could smell the fear coming off of him. He smelled like swamp land with a bit of brimstone coating the back of my throat. He had powers of his own that he'd learned while with the others. But I did notice that they were pushed deeply inside, and I wasn't finding that he had any awareness of how strong he was. Seemed like Matt and the ladies had been keeping Bob in the dark about his hidden potential, and I wondered why.