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February 19, 2024

Further into the Darkness 19

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Nineteen

I noticed Valerie wasn't looking very happy hearing that she was to be paired with Jasmine, Morgan, and Eddie. She wanted to come play with Harry, I knew that, didn't everyone? From the slight smirk on Harry's face, he knew it too. I was still mentally wrapping my brain around the idea that Jasmine had spelled her lover so thoroughly. Cloaking her lover's true vampiric abilities deeply enough to pass as a full blooded werewolf instead of a vampire to anyone who met Morgan, and making him strong enough to withstand direct sunlight wasn't a lightly cast spell. I kept my opinions to myself, but Valerie was looking as if she was ready to run and tattle to the nearest grand coven available. As well she should -- covens frowned on such use of Dark Arts magic by anyone and everyone. The backlash for Valerie keeping quiet was death, to both practitioner and the witch tasked with keeping and or revealing such secrets. Valerie would have to walk a thin line to stay alive and be trusted in the future. But to fail to immediately report Jasmine's transgression was even worse.

Again, not my problem, so I clammed up, and instead I asked Harry, "How do you want to deal with the four in the backyard?"

We'd decided that Caleb, my human, and Zach, Harry's null, would stay inside the comforts of the library and well out of the current danger zone from the approaching horde. Zach was pretty much toast from getting between Valerie and Jasmine's flying spells. He'd done what nulls do and drained the magic from them and into his own body. In the process he pretty much fried his nerves and probably his brain for a bit. I wasn't going to ask, but from Harry's agreement about keeping him inside, I knew it was pretty much what I thought -- safer for Zach to be out of the way along with Caleb.

The doorway was fairly well cloaked in the backyard from unwanted discovery. We both could see the four remaining attackers who'd been outside their SUV when Harry launched the missiles. It looked like they weren't in any way missing whoever had been fried in their vehicles. Nope, they very busy were trying to find a way inside the house. One was pounding hard on one of the reinforced windows in a misguided attempt to break it. Earlier, I had noticed when the cameras focused on the backyard that Harry had changed out all the decades-old glass panes with extremely resistant material. His attention to such detail served him well because prior to today, I'd never noticed the switch.

What I gathered to be a were creature bashing a fist against a window was decisively stronger than a human, but it wasn't even able to put a small crack in a pane. The other three creatures were trying unsuccessfully to find the hidden doorway, so far without success. I figured eventually the strong were smashing at the windows lining the back would shift into whatever its dual nature was in order to find my scent. Then they'd know exactly where the backdoor was -- it was only a matter of time. I had to admit that Harry's rather spectacular vaporizing of their vehicles both front and back of the house had robbed them of their tools as well as whomever else had been hidden inside. Also put them all off their game and temporarily stolen their natural instincts. Harry did tend to have that effect on people -- supernatural or not.

Caleb and Zach were glued to the laptop's monitor watching the attempts to gain entry both in front and back of the house. Standing by the doorway of the library Jasmine, Morgan, and Valerie were now involved in a fierce argument about tactics to take on the invading creatures out in the front. Harry had pointed to the specific two we wished to keep alive in the yard, but Jasmine and Valerie weren't in any agreement as to the best spell for the witches to use to slaughter off the rest of them. Morgan and Eddie were being used as werewolf muscle and not tasked with keeping anything alive except the ones Harry and I needed to 'interview' about their master or boss what have you.

"Knock that shit off you two," I snarled, "Or I take Morgan and Eddie out front myself and leave you two both unconscious on the rug again. Time is running out to surprise them before more reinforcements arrive." I wasn't sure how many vehicles had been sent to slay us but the distant battle to keep these few attackers on us could easily shift. All it took was Harry's unseen army being overrun, which was always a possibility, and we would have more bodies to battle.

The witches looked stunned by my remark and met each other's eyes before reluctantly nodding. They knew damn well I could cut their legs out from under them with an easy reversal spell. After all, I'd roused them from their near catatonic state with a touch spell -- no potions, tokens or other enchanted items. I wasn't screwing around with them. They grumbled a bit beneath their breath but stopped actively bitching at each other. As it was, it pretty much had been Valerie and Jasmine doing all the talking with Morgan occasionally backing his mate. Eddie was just waiting to be given instructions from what I could tell.

Finally, Jasmine and Valerie agreed on a game plan and began down the hallway to the front of the house. Morgan and Eddie led the way and Harry and I watched on our laptops the live feed from the cameras positioned inside and outside of the house. Caleb and Zach were seated next to me watching the show unfold. I had a sick feeling in my stomach I couldn't explain. I looked up to see Harry had a frown between his eyes. There was something off and we had no idea what it was.

I had enlarged my laptop screen to just a single camera angle and increased the volume. I watched as the front door was flung open by Eddie who spun to the right, as Valerie and Jasmine had obviously decided for their game plan, while Morgan spun to the left a heartbeat behind the werewolf. Eddie's decision not to remain in his human form proved to be a fatal one. To my horrified sight the screen seemed to flip in a second to a splattering of rich red blood and tufts of flying dark fur. As it cleared, it showed that Eddie had shifted to his werewolf form and he was now suspended against the door by a long shaft with actual feathers on the end. I hadn't heard the sound of the bow but the result of an arrow piercing Eddie's sternum wasn't debatable. The weapon that sent the arrow was more than likely a compound bow, because I couldn't see anyone holding a long bow anywhere in sight on the screen. I flipped between camera angles outside and wasn't seeing anybody using either long bows or crossbows immediately in range. I knew a compound bow could shoot accurately from three hundred feet. As Eddie started howling his final call, I knew the arrow was at the very least silver tipped, if not solid silver, and the wood shaft likely ash, aspen or hawthorn wood. Absolutely fatal to were creatures and if properly used, pretty damn bad for us vampires, too. Morgan had automatically dropped to the porch and rolled back inside the door. He pulled it shut but first he quickly yanked Eddie's pinned body free from the wooden door, tossing the skewered werewolf towards the living room. The door slammed loudly -- shutting out any of the invaders.

We all launched ourselves up from our spots in the library and to the front room where Morgan had dragged Eddie's unmoving body further inside the house. There wasn't any spell that I had any intention of using to change the fact that Eddie was dead -- I knew death and final death at that when I saw it. Eddie's body stayed in his werewolf form even in death. The silver arrowhead guaranteed the form wouldn't shift, as were-creatures normally switched to their human nature once killed. The deadly silver arrow -- and there was something else -- prevented Eddie's transformation back to human. Shaking my head mentally, I reached out with my senses; I felt a tingle of raw magic flowing freely from the wicked bolt. I automatically looked to Harry.

"There's a spell on this that I haven't used or ever seen before," I glanced at Jasmine and Valerie to see if they had any idea. Valerie's face was drained of all color -- more than her usual fair skinned complexion. As a red head she had a natural pale look, but her current shade was one of a sickly gray hue unnatural on any creature. I arched an eyebrow towards Harry and waited for him to quiz his East Coast witch. Both Valerie and Jasmine didn't bother to respond to me, unless Harry made them and as far as I could tell this wasn't going to change anytime soon. They both had Harry in their worshipful gaze -- as I called it -- I didn't blame them, but I hadn't done anything, as far as they knew, to merit their combined crappy attitude.

Harry said, "Valerie -- what is it? Do you know how to counter this spell? Is there a backlash we should know about if you break the enchantment on the bolt?" He actually asked far more questions than I had expected but they definitely were a good set of questions.

Valerie threw Harry a horrified look and slowly picked her words. Jasmine's face was completely frozen -- revealing to me that she too had pieced together something about the spell but wasn't exactly ready to volunteer a word. She already had violated more than a few 'rules' for good witches.

"Harry, this is really bad. They are Vampire Council spells that are used to take down weres in any form. Utterly deadly -- irreversible it's told -- and nearly impossible to stop. Enforcers are allowed to use only when sanctioned to kill off rogue players. Whoever is out there knows about us. And they consider us rogues!" Valerie sounded shaky and was tremendously upset. I didn't blame her, I wasn't feeling that great about our odds, either.

Jasmine glared spitefully at Valerie. I guess all of this was some huge witchy secret not to be shared with the likes of me. I bit back a bitchy comment and focused on the arrow still embedded inside of Eddie's corpse. His body had finally stopped quivering and his eyes had gone flat -- he was gone -- nothing to pull back unless I crossed some dark boundaries that were horrifying. I wasn't in the least tempted. I chanced a glance at Caleb, and saw he was both aghast, fascinated, and not nearly as repulsed as I'd thought he'd be. His mind was overflowing with questions I was thankful he kept to himself.

Zach asked, "How did an enforcer get close enough to do this to Eddie?"

Harry simply said, "Magic." Then he added the rest of his thoughts from one who'd waged battle successfully for centuries, "Probably one of the cars dropped the Enforcer off a block or so away. I'm very glad I blew up the vehicles; I'm still not sure how many more of them were inside." We all gave that a little bit of thought and nobody looked remotely happy.

Mentally I found myself dreaming of grinding the various approaching minions into ... hamburger helper, for all practical purposes. I found those dark thoughts even more satisfying than explosions of metal and flying plastic of the vehicles like those that Harry'd blown up rather impressively earlier. Some of what I was thinking must have been visible on my face because Harry chuckled and said to me, "Later, my dear. Later. Bethany, don't worry, you will get to play." He really knew me far too well.

Valerie, hating the attention Harry gave me, insisted, "There are some counter spells that I know the can possibly reverse the harm and reveal the Enforcer and given Jasmine's walking examples of her darkly cast spell work -- I wager that she's got a few nasty spells she can use too." Valerie was looking for Harry's approval, but Jasmine was glancing around for a sharp blade -- leastways that's what I saw dancing in her anger filled eyes. Yep, no love lost between the two witches.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-10-18
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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