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June 17, 2024

Further into the Darkness 29

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Twenty-Nine

"Caleb." Harry shook his head and waited for me to comment. Caleb's involuntary outburst that Marie Rose was crazy wasn't exactly breaking news.

That he'd shouted to Harry was pretty much par for the course. Caleb wasn't mine to control anymore, and I wasn't going to even try. Instead, I said, "Harry." He looked at me with slight amusement and I tried to keep from grinning back. The ball was in his court. As it had been ever since I'd first seen him with my Master centuries ago. Time hadn't changed him at all.

A slight growl from Morgan alerted me to trouble, like I didn't have enough crap happening and I had to go look for it? Spinning around, I saw Morgan trying to pull his lover, Jasmine, back onto the couch. She'd bolted up and I could see her ghost vampire Miguel was still at the steering wheel of her lithe body. The witch's face had a horrible expression. It wasn't just the one from Miguel forcing himself to control all of her permanently as he'd been doing as long as I'd known about him. No, it was something else. Jasmine was also upset beneath Miguel's invasion. Jasmine's control over her resident body ghost pretty much sucked from what I'd observed, but hells, it wasn't my problem.

His lips, her lips?, were moving and a chill ran down my spine as I heard the incantation he was muttering very quietly. He was using Jasmine's death speaker skills with his massive vampiric hunger to fuel a nasty spell. It wasn't a common incantation but an ancient one. I was really getting tired of all this magic flowing around me. I liked my bite and swallow fun. I did not play with magics anymore -- that was me as I had been well over a lifetime or three ago. The past few days I'd been seeing and working more active spells and deep incantations far too often for my comfort.

I guess Zach agreed with my internal assessment. Without anyone giving verbal orders Zach, Harry's pet null, leaped from the other side of Morgan and put his right hand palm flush with Jasmine's forehead. His palm was covering just her forehead, but that was enough for Jasmine. Her eyes went wide, instantly she was fully back in control of her body, and Miguel's facial expression was gone from the witch's body and then so was Jasmine. She slumped unconscious onto the couch. The magic was gone and drained into Zach who stumbled his own way back to the couch. Harry sighed deeply and asked me, "Bethany, can you do something with Marie Rose while I take care of this?"

Wow, he'd actually asked for my help. That said, I felt the little twist of knowledge that all of this was another of his buttering me up maneuvers. A common step in his game play but usually not aimed at me. I didn't bother to sigh but turned to the crone and said, "Marie Rose. Please come to the very edge of this cage."

I put my own vampiric power into the request and she moved stiffly as she tried to resist my command. I wasn't that far out of her thoughts, so I knew she was hoping I had some mercy for her. Not likely, but that wasn't something I was sharing with her any time soon. Caleb was torn with watching Harry, the cameras feed on the laptop and me. Not a big shock, Harry's side won.

Thus, nobody was near when I went closer to the cage and to Marie Rose then whispered, "You desire to be a vampire, yes?"

Her eyes went wide and she nodded slightly.

Still keeping my voice whisper soft I asked, "Who has already promised you this change?"

Her eyes went wide and filled with pathetic hope. She whispered back, "It was Kenyon Huston, the Master of Dark Whispers. His power grows as does his territory." Her voice was quiet but around all of us with enhanced senses she might as well been shouting. I noticed that Morgan had brought Jasmine around -- they sat side by side on the couch in the basement appearing shocked at hearing Kenyon's name given by the witch. I couldn't say I was greatly surprised but I was far more jaded than most.

A vampire couldn't reside anywhere in Southern California and be unaware of the club Dark Whispers or the vampire who ran it, Kenyon Huston. Hell, Caleb even had a brush with the club before he'd found out about all of us. Kenyon was a big part of the problem on the West Coast. As a rogue, he'd done his best to make the world aware of us all the while trying to become a viable Master through violent acts of horror and brutal intimidation. He wasn't remotely interested in being subtle, or bowing to anyone's rules and control. The Vampire Council should've dealt with him years ago as he'd grown in power, but they hadn't. I had my suspicions that they had left him to fester, and now were using him as their reason for slaughtering us on sight and seizing the land here in the United States.

Harry nodded to me, acknowledging my unspoken thoughts and just like that another puzzle piece audibly snapped into place in my mind. Harry'd known the reason behind the Vampire Council and their Enforcers leaving Kenyon run amok unchecked for all these years. It was another fucking vampire long game by the European vampires to invade America with justifiable cause. Oh, hell, I hated vampire politics.

As everyone absorbed the name of the vampire responsible for our current issues -- to put it lightly as we'd lost two of ours so far -- I suddenly understood how Commander William Greggory, the only surviving human, was used without his awareness. Looking to Marie Rose I commanded, "Go back to the cot. Be silent. Do nothing and do not listen to us."

She looked at me with anger -- I hadn't made her a vampire -- oops, I had my fangs crossed. Okay, I didn't plan on ever making her a vampire. A pile of ash -- sure. A vampire plus a witch, hell to the no. I didn't even like being such a creature and I had grown up as a witch. Giving a flawed human such powers was beyond stupid, and that Kenyon was promising such changes to an unstable witch further illustrated how out of control he was.

Once the three of our captives settled back down -- I'd noticed they'd all grown restless as Marie Rose revealed Kenyon's name to us. That made me think that he'd put a few magically enhanced charms or tokens on all three of them to monitor their location and who or what they saw. Harry groaned as it dawned on him, too. We'd screwed up not stripping them and checking them before locking them up.

Without notice, an icy cold wind whipped through the basement. Jasmine jumped up from the couch where Morgan had finally gotten her somewhat calmed down and looking less upset than a few moments ago. Well, that changed fast as she ran right at me. I automatically slammed her in the chest with the flat of my hand causing her to fall on her ass. I didn't mean to hurt her but just to physically stop her without resorting to magic. Too much damage had already been done with magic lately. Zach would blow a gasket if he tried to absorb mine, this I knew without having seen him try to gobble up my spells and energy.

"Bethany! Watch out, you are in danger." Her voice was thick with anger and she began chanting. She obviously didn't have the same worries about using magic.

Mentally I shook off her words and then it felt like something covered me. Nothing good. Everything seemed to slow down and I was aware of too many things overwhelming me at once.

Suddenly glittering sparks of magic sipped at what I thought as my very essence. I saw Jasmine's eyes startle wide then narrow in certainty -- why she was so certain of everything was more than a mystery to me! I didn't question my immediate knowledge of Jasmine's feelings, I just reacted with a wave of otherly energy riding my very thoughts. A hot flash of anger made me think I should simply kill her now. She was useless to me. I was a better witch than her. I felt so calm as the odd thoughts raced through me. Morgan joined his lover on the ground as she groaned and kept muttering. I began to raise my hand to slay the witch and her obnoxious lover. They were the abominations here, curled around each other on the floor not me.

Zach fell to his knees with utter horror etching his now uncertain face. He had no idea what to do with my emotions or Jasmine's feelings. I guess nulls didn't play with witches much. Then I couldn't keep the laughter inside as it broke free, maniacal to be sure. I felt like I was fighting somebody for my very soul. I feared inside my mind that I was finally losing it. The past few days had been challenging on so many levels and my worlds were colliding too quickly for my taste. Harry was my anchor in both good and bad ways to be sure. He pulled me into his chaos and down while occasionally helping me stabilize. It was confusing and lushly desirable. My laughter broke off as I tried pull myself free of the temptations -- for now -- there was something tearing at me. Caleb grew agitated at the undercurrents flowing around us all. He wasn't precisely sure what was happening, but his innate sense of self-preservation had been triggered by our toxic potentially deadly energy. He'd jumped behind the couch with his backpack held closely to his chest. I resisted telling him to use his gun and aim for brain shots on all of us -- it wouldn't kill us but it would definitely slow us down. I shook my head and forgot what I had been worrying about -- I was forgetting something really important. Harry stood before me. His face was calm. I didn't understand what was happening.

Harry thundered out with, "Enough!"

He was loud enough to be heard outside the house even from the basement. That raced through my mind as I giggled. There was just dust and bones outside -- nobody around to hear him for blocks. I giggled again despite my attempt to be quiet.

I felt something snap in the air and then the pressure lifted off me that I hadn't realized covered me fully. Suddenly I felt like I could breathe again. Had I started breathing? Vampires didn't need to breathe at all. As a witch centuries ago I had to eat, drink, sleep and breathe but since I'd been turned -- I'd never needed to suck in air or the rest. I liked sleep and could eat. My brain was spinning out of control with all sorts of random thoughts and tormented ideas. I was somewhat spinning out of control with my mind. I shoved my emotions deeply inside my thoughts and pushed away from everyone. My hands reached up and literally wrapped around my skull. I was teetering on the edge of something. Sanity? Violence?

Harry came to me and wrapped his body around mine tightly. I was shaking hard. I couldn't stop. My hands still clung to my head and Harry had his left hand embracing my head, pulling my face to his shoulder. He absorbed the tremors and made soothing noises softly in my hair. I was lost. My body kept quivering and the aftershocks in my head were pushing me further into darkness. I clung to Harry having finally dropped my hands from my head. I couldn't remember the last time I'd sought sanctuary from anyone. But in my defense, Harry smelled like home. I resisted nestling further into his body and let the past push back into my thoughts. I needed to be careful with this vampire. I was exhausted and aware of how much had just happened to us all.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-12-27
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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