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May 20, 2024

Further into the Darkness 20

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twenty

"Valerie," Harry's tone was slightly appalled, "that wouldn't be a good solution. If we've been identified as 'rogues' and you start launching nuclear level spells at the Vampire Council's sanctioned Enforcers they would simply launch an epic war against us. I have no interest in waging such a huge battle this early in the game." His voice was direct and calm, but I could feel his building fury. Valerie was a loose wingnut for sure, but his -- not mine -- to tighten or toss into the junk drawer.

Deflecting if done properly can be a lovely art form in my opinion and Harry took it to a level only few could attain. I admit to finding it sexy but exasperating on so many levels. By switching up the focus onto Valerie and her notion of launching full on frontal attack to the Vampire Council's enforcers he'd nearly pulled our attention away from Eddie's rapidly cooling body.

Morgan growled, "Whatever, Valerie. Jasmine's not going postal on your fucking say so. We need to figure out this problem before creating any more." Lots of words for Morgan but he was, after all protecting his mate -- Jasmine wasn't exactly jumping up and down and volunteering to personally take on the Vampire Council. She was smarter than I figured.

To my horror I just noticed that Caleb had disappeared from the living room. I searched for him and sensed him in the kitchen. Before I could figure out why he'd bolted, Caleb ran past me back into the living room. He fell to his knees next to Eddie -- dead and curled on his side in his werewolf form with the arrow piercing his bloody, furry chest. His body was strung taut with defined muscles and wickedly sharp sinew -- all useless in death. The silver arrowhead had been embedded in the front door, the bolt fired unseen pinning Eddie, before Morgan had pulled him into the room. The arrow had magically stayed in place as he'd been dragged into the house and then it had transformed him from his human nature into his supernatural werewolf form -- the forbidden shape in the Vampire Council's massive list of rules. The magic slowly drained off the bolt and into Eddie's body as he'd died. None of us were ready to touch him with the now visible glow from the spell all over his body. It turned out, except for Caleb -- the only true human in the pack.

Glancing up at me he said, "Bethany, if this fails, kill me quickly please. Despite the idea, I truly have no desire to be a werewolf much less a vampire. Promise me, okay?"

I gulped past the sudden lump that formed in my throat and I vowed, "I promise, Caleb." I was saddened by the notion but committed to my word.

With that, he used the silicone BBQ mitt he'd brought from the kitchen along with a thick dish towel to yank the arrow through Eddie's chest. A bolt of power flew from the arrow he tossed towards the front door. Zach fell to his knees and actually yelped. The wave of energy was thick and nasty. We all took a mental hit of anger, loss, magic and then it was gone. Eddie's corpse shuddered and he transformed back into a naked body. Human body with a layer of goo that showed his werewolf shift. Morgan breathed out a sigh of relief and both Jasmine and Valerie looked to Harry. Being labeled rogue was bad enough, but having a dead werewolf on the floor was worlds worse for all of us. Some situations we couldn't easily explain as it was; supernatural corpses were in that category for sure.

Caleb had flown back onto his ass but was still alive and looking a bit shocked. I think he'd expected to die. I know I was relieved to see he was still alive -- and with no visible damage.

We all were startled to hear the various creatures pounding on the house resume. Somehow the distraction of Eddie's demise had temporarily created a vacuum of sound. I doubt it was the spell but more than likely our focus on the shift in information rapidly flying around us. There was possibly an Enforcer right outside along with the creatures who'd been set upon us. Epically bad for us -- we all had our own problems before the Vampire Council's Enforcers and the decree they had posted had showed up in our lives.

"Harry, what would you like to do now?" I simply enquired. I had some ideas but wanted to hear Harry's plan first. He certainly had more resources than I did, no argument there at all. He was glancing at his cell phone and clicking away on the buttons.

"Bethany, how about a 'return to sender' spell on the arrow? You up to it?" He looked at the bolt on the floor by the front door and then to me.

"Pretty much parallels my idea. How fast can you open and shut the door? The porch will keep the sun off us and if Jasmine or Valerie would be so kind as to launch a few distraction spells for those still on the front lawn I would appreciate it." I began weaving the spell around the fatal arrow and added my own little kick. A girl just had to have fun after all, right?

"Valerie, can you handle that?" Harry asked her directly with a bit of a push giving her little true choice. As long as he didn't direct that crap at me, I was happy.

"Don't we need the Enforcer alive?" Jasmine asked Harry. I detected a bit of Miguel, her death speaker, behind the question. Not my problem, but I was wondering why. There seemed to be more going on than I was ready to dive into, but Harry simply said, "No. There is another one further down the road that my crew has captured outside the boundary we constructed a few blocks away from all of us. That one will hopefully be able to supply answers once she's awake."

Good to know. For now. I could see Jasmine wanted to object, but wasn't ready to take on Harry. He was still the leader, but she was starting to push back in her way.

I finished formulating my spell -- nothing but my words and intentions would be used -- and nodded to Harry my readiness.

"Tell me when," was all I said -- my hands were raised at shoulder level in preparation for casting the arrow back to the Enforcer who'd shot Eddie.

I had to be careful to not put any of my anger into the spell -- that would be bad. Strike that, it would be nuclear -- the Enforcer would definitely be blown into bite sized pieces -- not pretty and not needed -- yet. Airborne Enforcer wasn't ideal for what we wanted to do. Overkill -- quite literally -- would send the wrong message to any and all outside the house. We weren't trying to get annihilated by the Council, just give ourselves a little advantage along with information. I didn't think the Enforcers were driving this attack but riding along for some fun. There was something more at work than the Vampire Council -- another player on the field and without asking Harry I knew he was in agreement.

Harry positioned himself near the doorway; both Valerie and Jasmine had actually gone closer to each other in silent support or abject fear. It really wasn't clear. Morgan was next to Jasmine on her other side, as far away from Valerie as possible without being obvious. While both Caleb and Zach had retreated unspoken to the back of the hallway. Eddie, of course, wasn't going anywhere without assistance.

Harry put his hand on the doorknob and said, "Valerie and Jasmine, launch your distraction spells now." His voice brooked no discussion or allowed for any resistance.

They both began chanting and moving their hands in the air in the fluid movements required by their spell. The spell physically poured out the door the second Harry opened a slight crack. The screams began instantly, and he nodded towards me and I began my hand signs and spoke my desire -- the arrow flew outside and directly back to the unseen Enforcer. Harry immediately closed the door rapidly, throwing the deadbolt in place, and we all ran back to the library to watch -- the arrow went upwards into the screen of trees that had been planted decades ago, giving homes a sense of privacy and the space for an Enforcer to play sniper -- successfully in Eddie's case.

He or she (from the distance Harry's cameras had been switched to another source -- satellites most likely) was little more than a vague silhouette with bright orange-red color up in one of the trees about two or three hundred feet from the front of the house. My spell pulled the arrow up off the floor from where Caleb has tossed it after yanking it from Eddie, and once outside the door, the arrow was travelling slightly slower than when it had originally been launched from the assassin's crossbow. I had actually spelled it to return precisely to the weapon on the same pathway it had been fired, but I had added my own special little twist and it would hit the person by whom it had been fired, not just the weapon. It was a nasty touch of Karma blow back added for Eddie's rather nasty death. As it's always been said, "Karma's a bitch so I don't have to be." I was mostly okay with the last bit that was my own take on the phrase.

Harry's program was quickly tweaked by what had to be using an unseen drone or two and our coverage on the laptops was expanded and sharpened. We were again watching video of a live feed the Enforcer was wearing a non-reflective flat black outfit covering him -- now I could determine it was a male body -- from head to toe from where he was wedged in the crook of an old oak tree high up the grand tree. My spell hit him before the actual arrow penetrated his chest -- freezing him before the point of the arrow pierced him directly in his heart. To my delight the silver tip went completely through his breast and fixed him to the very tree he'd hidden in while his sniper shot had killed Eddie. With the drone coverage we watched the orange-red color fade as my spell drained and killed the Enforcer. The drone video disappeared and the satellite feed of the previous shapes and bodies reappeared on our laptops.

One less problem -- for now. We went back to the front living room to deal with those attackers. The decision had been made to remain together without any discussion -- Eddie's untimely death by the Enforcer had awakened us to the clarity of how serious everything had turned. The Vampire Council wasn't screwing around, and neither were we. That luxury had been denied us now and our responses needed to be carefully plotted and measured to avoid any confusion. I hated the idea of control and preferred my usual chaotic reply, but this wasn't just about me anymore. Harry caught my eye and nodded his agreement. I knew he wasn't in my head but he knew me too well despite the centuries of time that had passed.

Caleb voiced the concerns of everyone, "Now what, Harry?"

Good question with many possible answers.

"Bethany, you still like to play with bugs?" A wicked smile graced his face as he asked a question, he already knew the answer. He was trying to further demonstrate my varied talent to the witches as well as Morgan, I knew without asking. I had absolutely no clue what Zach thought of me, but I'd noticed he gave me space -- he had no interest in sucking in any of my magic -- I was pleased by his understanding.

Looking around, I decided it didn't matter any longer, they all knew we weren't playing by anyone's rules and my personal set of "talents" weren't the only ones with automatic death sentences. Coven or Council -- all had the same final outcomes -- I'd be slain without the benefit of trials much less any sort of discussion -- my spells were forbidden from use by a vampire and as a 'witch' there wasn't much difference.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-10-25
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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