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June 17, 2024

Further into the Darkness 21

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twenty-One

"Okay, Harry, but we need to isolate the two players we like to keep alive in the front yard at precisely the same time. That way I can be assured I can keep them bug free -- so to speak. Either Morgan or one of the witches need to snag them before they can run. And once my spell is cast, trust me, they all will run even if nothing lands on them." I knew damn well how massive amounts of insects would freak both humans and supernaturals. Basic for us all in our limbic systems is that nasty fear of being overrun by insects. The limbic system was the part of our brains that triggers the fight or flight response. Bugs aren't large and when they swarm or attack it's not like you can "kill" them easily. Especially those pesky flying insects -- swords and guns are beyond useless.

Okay, so yeah, there is a breed of humans who instinctively run towards disasters even if there isn't any reward. You know the type -- like firemen, first responders and the assorted good folks. Death, slaughter, abject horror and yet I find people do it despite the visuals -- they respond differently. They have no way of changing or influencing the outcome when they arrive on the scene yet there they are. Is this something that is 'hard wired' for them to 'help' or simply a desire to gawk and be sickly entertained. That was why I asked Harry to have the two we'd picked to be grabbed and brought inside before everything went bad -- well, what can I say -- strike that -- make it very, very bad.

"You are right, Bethany. Okay, Morgan and Valerie, I want you two to bring those two selected and Jasmine and Zach, I need you two to set up the magic needed to keep them downstairs in the cages while we get this show on the road." Harry directed his crew while watching me begin my spell. Unlike most witches and assorted supernaturals, I had endless reserves when it came to my craft. Being a vampire had actually helped my abilities as well as centuries of blood lines in both directions. So that wasn't something the Vampire Council and their Enforcers liked to hear alive and kicking hence the instant death sentences.

Naturally Valerie had to voice her objections, "But Harry, why don't I help you inside here and let those two deal with the outsiders? I don't much care for bugs." Like anyone did? I glanced over to see Harry just barely roll his eyes at Valerie's question -- unseen by his witch.

It was then I noticed that Caleb again quietly had snuck out of the room undetected by anyone else and returned with a blanket. Without a word he carefully draped the dark green cloth over Eddie's body. We'd all put the dead werewolf on the back burner without comment -- being so old tended to make us jaded about violent death and random bodies littering the ground. As the only human in the house, he didn't have the same emotions or lack of emotions. I wondered how he'd survive this mess. But that was for another day.

Harry didn't bother to answer his East Coast witch but instead directed his attention to Morgan and Valerie.

"I'm fairly sure one of those creatures is strong enough to take us vampires so Morgan you will need to focus on the creature at the edge of the front lawn first. Valerie, use a knockout spell for the black clad one who keeps pushing the smaller two attackers towards us. He's using them as body shields and has power unleashed waiting to be launched. Both are dangerous so don't engage, just knock them down and quickly drag them into the basement cells." Harry led us all back into the library and slid open the pocket door on the back wall that led to the basement.

He indicated towards the opening and both Zach and Jasmine looked down, curious. The stairs were lit automatically by motion and I had built three cages downstairs currently available to be used. They were warded and iron bars kept supernaturals from being able to easily exit. They both jogged downstairs unasked to check out the environment. I heard muffled conversation between them, and watched Morgan and Valerie shift uneasily on their feet, obviously undecided what it was they were supposed to do without Jasmine as a buffer. Neither Harry nor I volunteered anything. Soon Zach and Jasmine were back in the library and they both were extremely quiet. They both looked at me like I was a serial killer. I didn't bother to explain myself.

Jasmine asked me, "Do I have your permissions to adjust your spells and warding?"

I wasn't born yesterday so I carefully worded my reply. In magic, as in life, the way things were spoken had to be always weighed carefully if you wanted to avoid doing harm. And with spell craft I had no desire to get smacked with my own words. Centuries of learning thankfully came to my aid.

"Jasmine, right now, you may adjust my warding and spells in the basement directly below us for the sole purpose of controlling the two contract killers on the front lawn. In no way is this to be seen as permissions to work spells against me or by your skills as death speaker now or any time in the future. By my word. Do you agree to these terms?" I think I nailed down all the variables.

"So mote it be. As it is spoken." She didn't give anything else up but went to Morgan's side and seemed to draw strength from him. Zach was more dazed and confused than he'd been all day, but I doubt he got out much among so many supernaturals and Harry wasn't easy to run with -- what being a vampire and a government agent. Both 'careers' could be dangerous and Harry attracted all sorts over the decades. Caleb was itching to take notes but thankfully refrained for now -- all of us had to be fascinating the perpetual scholar.

Slowly we all went back to the living room. The blackout curtains kept us from being detected by the various creatures still pounding on the windows and doors. Harry had taken the time to grab one of the two laptops from the library and set it up on a coffee table so we could all see the live video stream from his carefully placed cameras inside and outside. He focused on both sides of the exterior of the house. We'd hear any creature breaking in -- we all were well focused. Harry's minions had really been busy and all of the house was fully outfitted and on camera both inside and out. I was still disturbed given how I had just used the basement to slaughter a real serial killer's crew just a few nights ago. So much had happened so quickly I wasn't ready to deal with Harry's over-the-top invasion of my privacy. Hopefully we'd get some down time soon for an overdue discussion of personal boundaries. I caught a quick smirk roll over his lips. I suppressed a growl of frustration.

Harry tapped the screen into larger shots of the two creatures he wanted alive and both Morgan and Valerie softly muttered their plans. Valerie was a strong witch despite her child-like attitude and she quickly found the spells she wanted to use. For Morgan, by magically appearing to be a werewolf he had the power of both the were creature and his true nature as a strong vampire. He'd be the muscle in this operation and they drew up a game plan to get both inside before my insect invasion was totally launched.

"Now are we all ready?" Harry sounded slightly amused. I didn't blame him because he'd seen my bug spells before and knew how chaotic they could be as well as deadly. I wasn't one to pull punches when asked.

Taking a deep breath, I called up yellow jackets from the dirt and paper wasps from the abandoned roof lines and rafters of nearby abandoned properties down to attack. If we'd been in Florida, I'd summoned fire ants and a large volume of mosquitoes. The small flying insects I commanded by the spell cast wasted no time responding to the earth magic dancing in the air and rolling up from beneath the ground. They attacked the weres -- deliciously warm and meat-scented creatures along with the various humans as well as the witches whose fears laced them like a sweet, exotic perfume. It was actually an easy spell with no backlash to me because the insects I'd called could repeatedly sting without dying unlike bees who only had one fatal sting. Screams burst from the various victims as I watched. Morgan and Valerie had a slight pathway as I was trying to keep the different insect swarms directed towards the creatures who were to be harmed while sparing those that Harry and I selected for a little conversation.

Insects had mostly hive mentalities and were happy to do what they could to injure larger creatures invading their space. The spell used tapped into that innate territorial concept to push the bugs to do their worst. And they were happy to sting and sting. The screams of their victims went silent as Valerie cast a spell unasked. It wasn't like I had very many neighbors and those who were still in this area kept to themselves. Morgan clubbed the one creature and hauled him roughly into living room then on to the library. I was pretty sure he just tossed the black clad invader down the stairs from the sounds. I heard Jasmine and Zach follow Morgan after he tossed the first selected bad guy downstairs, then from the noises they both went down afterwards to secure the creature. Morgan then rushed past us and to the edge of the lawn where Valerie was physically fighting the standing strong creature we'd picked as our second possible informant on who was behind this attack and if the Council was fully aware of us.

The timely arrival of Morgan shifted the odds immediately. Without a single word Morgan simply slammed his fist directly into the face of the creature trying to rip Valerie's face off. Its head snapped back with such force I wondered momentarily if he'd actually killed it. The body fell roughly to the lawn and Morgan grabbed an arm and dragged the unconscious, I hoped, creature to the house. Valerie ran after the quickly moving pair. Morgan was pissed off -- I could tell. I wondered why.

Soon Morgan and Valerie were back in the living room with their prize. I slammed the door shut bolting the locks while casting a reinforcement spell to safeguard the portal. My other spell continued to weave its pull and more insects poured out of everywhere and covered the bodies now on the ground swinging ineffectively at the insects. They went down the throats and burrowed beneath the skin of anything and everything. Soon every creature outside in the front yard was dead and being eaten by all of nature's scavengers.

Caleb was glued to the laptop in the living room, he'd begun to toggle between the front and back of the house watching out for us without being asked. That instinct probably saved us from an unnecessary battle inside the house. He gasped loudly while Morgan manhandled the limp body towards the library to join them in the basement. Valerie trailed after him probably to check out my basement.

"Harry, Bethany! Come look at this screen. That nasty creature in the backyard has shifted into a big ass cat! I think it's trying to get inside here. It's using its huge ass paws trying to claw through the backdoor. I guess it's not hidden anymore." Caleb sounded impressed and more than a bit excited by his first view of a were creature that shifted to something other than a werewolf. The cat on the screen was absolutely huge.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-11-01
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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