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April 15, 2024

Further into the Darkness 30

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Thirty

Silence washed over me. Jasmine wasn't muttering anything and thankfully nobody had started filling the quiet with words or questions. I welcomed the lack of sound. Harry had stopped his noises and I had stopped thinking about killing Morgan and Jasmine. Whatever had made the room cold and smothered me was gone. I looked up at Harry's tight jawline and saw he was nearly grinding his teeth. Something or someone was really pissing him off now. From the hand softly cupping the back of my head and the other arm encircling me to his side, I knew that it wasn't me for a change.

"Kenyon's magical charms?" I stabbed at the obvious reason for my suddenly erratic and bizarre behavior.

"Yes, actually all three in the cages added something to the spell that he'd put on them. I doubt sincerely Kenyon actually did the casting because he never does his own dirty work," I nodded against Harry in agreement. That was just one of his traits that was well known. Harry continued, "It was time delayed just in the event they were captured. You can't see but all three aren't moving inside their cells. And from what I can detect none of them are breathing either."

Oh, hell. That wasn't good.

My thoughts whipped to what had just happened to me. Jasmine tried to help me when Kenyon's magic had been freed by his three minions. That was what they were, despite not a one was a vampire. I had been ready and very willing to slaughter Jasmine and Morgan without any hesitation. Harry had grounded me. His voice had filled me and somehow released me from the magics. I quieted inside and waited for the next attack.

Harry's arms were still wrapped around me but at his remark about how our three captives weren't moving, I carefully turned towards the cells to see if it was really as bad as he'd said.

My head was nestled against his shoulder but my eyes were now drilling into the basement cages to see for myself.

"See, Bethany, they all aren't moving and I can't detect any heartbeats or other signs of possible life," Harry's voice rumbled in his chest behind my head but damned if he wasn't right. None of the prisoners seemed to be alive any longer. Whatever magic had been expelled from them in the attempt to take over me had burned up their bodies. They all were all dead. As I watched the were-cat Whitney transformed to her human form -- like traditional weres. Marie Rose -- on the other hand -- was slowly rotting into dust as her spell had done to our witch Valerie whose body was still upstairs turned to ash not an hour ago.

Commander William Gregory looked more peaceful than I'd seen him -- granted it had only been a few hours ago when we first met. But his rigid military bearing, the naked defiant captive and lastly the pain-riddled human as a man on the edge of his natural demise had been the only faces that we'd seen. To me it looked like he was finally at peace. I was blown away by Kenyon's diabolical plotting. So far, he'd anticipated more than I'd expected from the arrogant, rogue vamp I'd heard about for years. I noticed a glow beneath the dead man's collar bone.

"What's that, Harry?" Caleb had surfaced from behind the couch where he'd been hiding when the magic began flowing. I noticed he clutched his backpack to his chest as he was ready to pull his gun out if needed. Then his pack slipped down his arm as he abruptly pointed to the glowing skin on the dead man was pulsing. From his face I knew that he was now seriously contemplating pulling out the gun and shooting at anything that moved inside the cell.

I wasn't going to say a word. I totally clued in on how off balanced he felt. I still wasn't sure what had flowed over me. I knew dark and light magic -- I had to be the first to admit that it wasn't either, it was otherly.

Harry said, "Zach, can you stay over by the front of the cell? Do not touch the bars or reach in to help me no matter what. Promise?"

Zach moved slowly to where Harry indicated and nodded. Harry arched his eyebrow and Zach verbalized, "Yes."

His voice cracked on the word. This wasn't Kansas or wherever it was that he grew up cornfed and left alone by creatures such as us. The null would've run for the nearest plane, train or bus if he thought he could've escaped the madness surrounding all of us. He wanted to, and thought that he'd get a chance to escape Harry's world, but even he knew in his soul that it wasn't to be in the cards he'd been dealt. Once you were tied into the underworld of supernaturals, life tended to become far more complicated and not as easily negotiated. Harry's blend of chaos didn't allow for escape, I'd long concluded. That I'd been able to play on my own for so many decades had been an illusion -- I now knew that Harry'd kept tabs on me far closer than I'd ever imagined. Lucky me. Zach had fallen into the same sinkhole of Harry's world and was looking slightly ill standing near Commander William Gregory's cage. The pulsing bit beneath his collar bone was more than slightly unnerving.

Harry asked, "Bethany, you want to play doctor with me?"

I leaned back and looked up to his sparkling eyes ... he was half trying to vampiric push me, but knew I'd not be happy. I stepped away from his embrace and said, "Gee, Harry, I thought you'd never ask. You have a set of scalpels or we using kitchen knives and skewers?"

He laughed and said, "I have fully stocked medical bags. Caleb, the closest is in the library in the duffle bag with a big M on it made with duct tape."

Caleb ran up the stairs, half to get the bag and half to escape the basement. I didn't blame him. That Harry'd been prepared to play doctor wasn't a big shock. We always tried to plan for any and all eventualities when in battle. Harry had known he was preparing for battle while I was just along for the ride.

It didn't take long for Caleb to find the duffle bag and join us in the basement. He was looking far too interested for my tastes, but his college mind tended to be keyed into studying crap and writing papers on such nonsense. Despite all my desires Caleb was getting an education far beyond the basic curriculum.

Harry began to order us around in preparation for the surgery on the dead man. I could still feel waves of magic drifting around, playing with the very air, but nothing as strong as what had happened when all three captives had released their spell. I was still focusing on keeping my emotions in check.

"Morgan and Jasmine, I need you both to stay behind the coffee table and monitor the laptop for anyone trying to sneak up on us or outright attack the house. Think you can help me with this?" Harry made it seem like a request instead of the command it actually was. Both Morgan and Jasmine made their way to the couch on shaky legs. They had felt my madness and my intention to kill them, and weren't under any illusion that they would've been able to stop me if I had carried out the plan that Kenyon had set in motion.

"Zach, I need you to stay on the edges here and if anything reaches out for us hit it with all of your skills. Do not hold back anything or try to absorb Bethany's aura. Her magics will kill you." He said this calmly but with sincerity to the null. Zach said, "Understood, Harry. I will do my best."

I noticed he hadn't promised to succeed. Ugh, that left my human buddy, Caleb. Though if I was honest, he was pretty much Harry's toy now. That's what I got for not flipping any humans to being my minions or blood slaves. Oh, well. I wasn't in the mood to have that mental conversation with myself now or any time soon. Neither Harry nor Caleb even bothered to consult me as Harry gave him the instructions.

"Caleb, you have two tasks I possibly will need to be fulfilled. First, any of these bodies move shoot them in the head without hesitation, ok?" Caleb nodded and pulled out the handgun from his backpack. "Second, if you are forced to shoot any of these creatures run outside immediately and wave your hands over your head. In ten minutes, three SUVs will converge on the house. Tell them everything that has happened. Can you do this?" Caleb audibly gulped then nodded.

"Bethany, let's go play operation on the Commander." Harry's voice was amused and he didn't seem to be in the least concerned how so fucking sideways this could easily go. I nodded and readied myself for whatever was going to happen. Harry and I often worked together centuries ago and already I knew we had the ability to anticipate each other's needs without using our vampiric mind-speak but that was available if things went wonky. Given what I'd seen from Kenyon so far, the possibilities of things going butter side down for us were pretty high.

Harry opened up the canvas bag of medical supplies Caleb had retrieved from the library and pulled out a full set of scalpels and various clamps and tools of a surgeon's trade. He didn't bother with any gloves or disinfection liquids because as vampires it wasn't easy to get us 'sick' and the Commander was dead so we weren't really overly concerned about him getting infected.

He handed me my own set of tools and we nodded to Zach as I unlocked the cell and temporarily dropped my spells protecting the cage. Jasmine's spells were easily thwarted by me and I heard her gasp as she'd seen how quickly I moved aside her craft. I refrained from smirking at her underestimation of me yet again, just barely.

Once there was a small path for us, we went inside to where the Commander was slumped on the cot. The pulsing crystal beneath his collar bone was now beating in time with an unseen magic. I looked at it with my witch eyes and saw the fingerlings of power surging and retreating in a random beat. It wasn't a heart pulsing but otherly magics that were infused beneath the human's pale scarred skin.

"Damn it, Harry, this isn't just a crystal beacon like I'd first thought," I admitted aloud, "this is something tied back to Kenyon's clan and there is a hell of a zap possible if we try to take it out." I nearly growled my frustration. I kept getting pulled further and further into my past witch life and I wasn't in the least happy. This was a complicated spell used by Kenyon and I wasn't willing to fry us all trying to dig out the crystal without proper preparation.

"What do you think we should do, Bethany?" Harry waited with scalpel poised over the collar bone.

I sighed deeply and began weaving a complicated set of sigils in the air while chanting an ancient language into the space between us. I was pulling from age old Earth magics and finding the small fractures in the very crystal that had been used by Kenyon's witch. Ironically some of the original spell work had been from my area of the world in Europe, but not my own family. That was a relief as I didn't think any of my bloodline still walked the world, and anyone who had used such spell work wasn't a good witch at all. The spell was not easy to see, but once I found the 'end' of the work I began tugging on the magics that had infused the power and the beacon. Instead of disabling the spell I repurposed what was used and started to push everything back to the witch who'd made the crystal spell.

What I did wasn't nice or pretty but wickedly effective. The purple color and pulsing beat changed to a strong green with a new throb and pulse that wasn't anything like the previous work. I kept pushing and pulling until I was satisfied that I'd changed the spell work.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-01-03
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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