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February 26, 2024

Further into the Darkness 15

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Fifteen

Valerie on the other hand, wasn't so discreet. "Jasmine, what the hell are you talking about? Boundaries?? You said that Cynthia was controlling Harry and a Master Vampire? Fuck, what do you mean?" Her voice was very clipped and a tad shrill -- it made my back teeth ache. Caleb and Zach watched this verbal exchange like they were tennis spectators at an extremely tight match. Eddie was also interested in the answer; I could hear his heartbeat speed up while Morgan looked tightly controlled. He was furious at Miguel's speaking through his lady and he obviously wasn't able to do anything about it.

Sighing deeply the witch said, "The night was layered in time with gaps between the worlds. There were fissures of boundaries being pushed apart magically."

We all waited.

"It was my fault. My magics unleashed so many dark things that night in Balboa Park. The vampire who Miguel had created, Cynthia, had been dying when the cats came." Here she paused and tried to sip her tea -- it was empty -- nobody made a move to refill her cup as we all were waiting for her explanations. I didn't care about her taking the blame, I just needed to understand why we couldn't meet up with my fellow vamp Jason at the Lily Pond. Vampires loved drama and pageantry -- that much was true. I kept my lips sealed and watched Jasmine squirm slightly at the laser focus of everyone. Miguel had dropped back to let her take the heat. Yeah, he was a peach.

As if sensing my thoughts, Miguel pushed back through her to laugh a dry humorless chuckle. I could feel his glee at the memory of the same night she was recalling, "My spawn, Cynthia, was literally torn limb from limb by the escapees. Large cats free, some for the first time in their lives, did an excellent job of destroying the vampire. That evening had delicious layers of terror available for anyone and everyone. In truth, it was a physical and metaphysical feast for all. Panthers ran free as did other nocturnal creatures -- from inside cages and from out. It was madness."

He paused then added, "Natasha, Simon's fledgling, had with her a powerful sword. It grew in blood strength as she cleaved her way through furred beasts both natural and supernatural. The sheer force that flowed around her was delicious and erotic. So tempting to try to fight Simon for her but alas it wasn't meant to be. Jasmine used her Arts to deflect creatures, but Natasha used raw steel of the blade, Harry and Simon had fangs and fists to slap back the flow of beasts. It was intoxicating. Magic filled the very air we all breathed."

I watched Jasmine pushing through to take over the telling of the story. Miguel's obvious enjoyment was causing her distress, we all could see. She spoke softly, "The Lily Pond is not the only spot that Miguel made a bid to utterly control me but with wild magics scenting the very air, it was definitely one of his strongest attempts." She looked to her partner Morgan; he was still distancing himself from her, but with her eyes she was obviously imploring him for his help. His jaw tightened but he kept to himself closed off both physically and emotionally from her. He wanted her to avoid Balboa Park, but Harry seemed to feel it was the only place to meet up with Jason.

If I hadn't known now that Morgan was a cloaked vampire before, his arrogant and superior attitude was pretty clearly like many vampires I'd known over the years. Harry caught my slight shake of my head, picking up on my thoughts. His smile promised more later -- well, if we ever saw a later.

Jasmine continued to tell her view of evening shared by Harry, Miguel, and her. She, thankfully, had stopped fiddling with her empty tea mug. Morgan wasn't going to fetch her more -- clearly, he'd withdrawn from her. His anger was scenting the air until Zach cleared his throat and there was another weird, audible popping sound as the null did something I guess all the nulls did.

With a sigh, Jasmine added, "The wild magics danced that night. Animals were fueled by various supernatural creatures -- tearing at the dead and the dying vampires like Cynthia and other injured weres who'd come out to play."

She added another of her brags, "My powers not only freed Harry and Simon from an evil nasty spell but unleashed a demon -- an enchantment between the cracks of the worlds -- that fed off Natasha for a slice of time. There was so much blood and gore that drenched the very soil surrounding us all." She'd set her empty cup down carefully on the coffee table and looked at it forlornly while Morgan yet again studiously ignored her obvious plea. She curled in on herself; I noticed that Morgan had yet to embrace his lover. Apparently, Miguel wasn't finished with her and the vampire could still feel him on her skin. So many levels of weirdness, I was even impressed. I thought I could fuck up but Jasmine seemed to have done some high level moves on her own.

Valerie's mouth gaped, "Wait a second, back up, you let a demon loose? A fucking demon? Are you completely nuts? How the hell are you even alive? Goddess -- you deserve to be purged. There's no way any of this went on record!"

I actively avoided rolling my eyes and saying, 'Duh!' -- barely.

Jasmine met Valerie's accusing gaze with a snarl, "It wasn't like I let the demon loose on purpose. There was magic time and cracks in the parallel worlds. The demon followed Miguel and Cynthia's battles feeding off their work."

I waited to see if Harry was going to argue about Jasmine's rather bold statement. He met my glance with a slight shake of his head -- he wasn't arguing about her assertions in front of everyone -- neither validating the remarks nor denying them. I found it interesting. He was again playing some long game, I thought.

"The vampires were all so powerful and interlinked in time, the demon wiggled in the gray between." She left this to everyone's imaginations. I sure as hell wasn't going to weigh in on her story time, much less the validity. Caleb was glued to her speech but I could see he had serious questions. Thankfully, he kept his thoughts, comments and questions to himself Valerie wasn't as smart.

"Fucking bullshit. Jasmine -- you are trying to spin your Dark Arts into a fucking Disney cartoon with pretty jewels and puffs of colors -- not possible. Demons don't just hop rides onto bad vampires or evil witches -- what have you -- after shoddy spell work."

They both flew up to their feet simultaneously. Valerie overstepped Jasmine's boundaries and I watched as spells flew from both witches' fingertips while arcane words were softly spit out smartly into the room. I wasn't stupid -- I reached over and yanked Caleb off his chair to fall onto his backpack to be able to access his gun, if needed.

Zach was either exhausted by the prior drains on him or slow -- the air filled with the smell right before a storm, you know that sizzling of electricity and lightning exploded?! The ozone -- metallic -- dangerous -- it tore at us all. Eddie had taken half a second longer to hit the rug next to Caleb and me. A sizzle and a bright flash as their maniacally ill-thought out dark spells hit each other's work. I wish I could say they cancelled the other's spell out but nope -- arcs of silver red hate filled energy bolts danced between the two witches with rawness that I could feel on my skin. Everyone's hair sparked with the electricity being generated. Zach stood up from his chair and simply stepped between the two, and I watched a flicker of something nasty and hungry open up from inside him and absorb their power -- and another flicker and Zach was raising his hands both upwards -- palm flat and his fingers somewhat curled inwards -- he was now apparently pulling from them -- all their spell work and to my disbelieving eyes -- it looked like he was absorbing their extraordinarily rich and nasty powers. Pain etched his face but horror and stunned agony folded over theirs as a boom of energy sang out and both women fell unconscious, almost bonelessly to their places on the rug while Zach bowed his head and lowered his hands.

Harry sighed and said, "Well, that certainly could have gone better. So, Bethany, as Jasmine told you the Lily Pond has a slight bit of dark history for her." I noticed he skipped the possibility of his own personal involvement in his softly offered comment.

Rising back to my chair while keeping my hand close to the gun in Caleb's open bag I said, "Yeah, but Harry, it sounds like it maybe it's a rather nasty spot for you, too." I called him out on the omission.

His nodding agreement was very slight but still a yes.

"So, then yes or no? Are we meeting Jason at the Lily Pond or not?" I directly asked Harry while ignoring Morgan who was now trying to wake up Jasmine, as she still remained inelegantly sprawled on the rug; Eddie shrugged at Caleb while they both cautiously returned to their chairs. Nobody bothered with Valerie, and Zach had returned to his chair looking dazed and more than a little confused. Being a friend or even a mere acquaintance of Harry's could definitely bring that set of feelings to the party. There was a reason I hadn't rushed out to join up with good old Harry. It was never boring and always a full on challenge.

Harry looked at our little merry band of misfits and replied, "I think it has its merits. There are layers of reasons both good and bad but from, my view I think it's the best choice open to us. Jason doesn't know the Park as well as us despite his assumptions. There are many paths to and from the Lily Pond that I think will work for us."

"Us? I gather it's not just the seven of us. Anyone else I'll know? Is Caleb going to have protection? Details." I looked at Harry, his lips were slightly skewed -- damn he was loving the whole thing, not just the possible Vampire Apocalypse, but he also found my questions amusing. God save me from manipulative vamps.

Harry looked nonplussed by my rapid fire questions as I added a few more nuggets -- "And what the hell is wrong with Zach?" Adding, "Looks like Valerie and Jasmine aren't in any shape to help us either, should I zap them?"

At this Harry gasped out, "No! Please, Bethany, the last thing I need is you to fry their brains just because they have pissed you off." Yeah, he had me there. I wouldn't exactly be delicate if he let me 'wake' them. Disney princesses they most definitely were not in my book.

"Okay, Harry, cough up some info or I'll walk. I don't need any more drama for this week. I am pretty sure I need to be fucking elsewhere -- like Montana, Brazil or New Zealand. Somewhere I can see an enforcer coming a mile or three away. Preferably somewhere way off the grid." I wasn't kidding -- much.

Harry looked at me, "Montana isn't out of the states, you know."

"Yeah, but for all practical purposes it's most definitely off the grid." I replied seriously.

At Harry's arched eyebrow I snapped out, "Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah -- all those states might as well be in another country. You know damn well, Harry, I am damn happy to survive out in the badlands -- crossing the pond centuries ago, don't you think should've shown you that I knew how to adapt?"

I had him there. Our journey from the Old World to the New World with my Master, Harry and a few of our select fledglings, minions and support staff, servants as they were called back then. We had all fled a major vampire purge as well as changing landscapes in the world.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-09-20
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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