One moment I was there, and the next I was gone.
The Shadows melted around my body with ease, filling the gaps of moonlight that shone through with impenetrable darkness. I couldn’t see a thing, couldn’t navigate my surroundings even though I’d been through this forest a hundred times before.
My body was no longer my own, stolen by an invisible force that tied its web-like threads around my wrists and ankles, stringing me along the way marionette manipulates its puppet.
The only thing that remained my own was my thoughts. As panicked as they were, the only thing I could think about was Asher and my friends. Were they alive? Were they fighting Cassidy? Had they killed her already and rushed off to my rescue?
Each one went unanswered.
When the tendrils of darkness slithered away, no longer clouding my vision, I stood somewhere new.
At the very back of the field was a rectangular brick building, dimly lit by the streetlamps that seemed so far away.
I recognized the building as the town’s high school.
While I never walked the halls myself, I often found myself in town when the parade of yellow busses emerged onto the street, carrying groups of rowdy kids ready for an afternoon away from dusty textbooks and drawn-out lectures.
The school quickly faded from view when my legs began to move, propelling me forward, towards a mass of darkness at the center of the field.
With each step the tendrils slithered further away, dragging their leech-like bodies across the ground with a quickness that made me wonder if they knew something was horribly wrong.
There, at the center of the field, was the one person I wanted dead the most.
If there was one thing I’d learned these last two years, it was that evil always appeared beautiful on the outside. Despite the rot that was my father’s soul, his outward appearance had been handsome- stunning, almost. It was the same with Freya, the most powerful Blood Witch the world has ever know, mother to not only Holly, but also Cassidy.
I hadn’t seen that coming one bit.
A sultry and downright joyous smile was pasted on Freya’s face. She could’ve batted her eyelashes and giggled like a schoolgirl. Nothing would’ve erased the underlying sense of danger that oozed from her every pore.
It didn’t matter how strong her magic was, nothing could smooth out the sharp angles that created her face. From her slender chin to the regal slope of her nose and the deep grooves of her cupids bow, every single feature of hers was crafted to hide the evil within.
Freya wasn’t alone. Standing around her in a large circle were other’s-more witches. The snarl of absolute frustration I let out vibrated my skull. Even my eyes refused to respond to my will. No matter how hard I pushed or pulled, they would not stray from Freya.
“And here she is, ladies. Our guest of honor.” Freya said loudly, her voice warm and full of joy that felt woefully misplaced.
She swept her arm out to the witches that surrounded her, the long sleeves of her gown billowing in the air like blood-red streamers. Her hair, which was the exact same shade as Cassidy’s hung down her slender back in waves of rust and crimson.
I also couldn’t help but notice she wasn’t wearing any shoes. Her bare feet rested in the grass. The sight was such a far cry from the therapist I’ d met months ago that all words escaped me. Not that it mattered since I couldn’t control my own mouth.
Freya made a come-hither motion with her fingers and my legs didn’t hesitate to obey. I snarled and spat an array of colorful words in my head, thrashing against a hold that didn’t so much as budge. Once I was inside the circle of witches, feet away from Freya, I stopped.
Her smile turned feline, as though she could feel every ounce of the fight I was putting up.
“Don’t be a sore loser, Lola. There wasn’t anything you could do to stop this. Even now, your friends and mate are fighting for their lives. A fight they will lose, but not to worry. You won’t be here to feel your mate’s death. By the time my daughters and the others I sent to their aid end your friends, your soul will be long gone from this world. Your body on the other hand…that will remain.”
The others? There hadn’t been any other witches there before I slipped away, but that could’ve easily changed within the last half hour. As hard as I tried to grab onto the bond between Asher and I, it slipped through my fingers like it was coated in oil-no, not oil.
Freya ended her speech with a light chuckle, one a mother might make after watching her child do something amusing. There were hundreds of questions I wanted to ask her. The answers wouldn’t just satiate my curiosity, but they’d also waste time, giving the others a chance to stop this mess from happening
The slight glimmer of hope fizzled out before it ever had a fighting chance when Freya plucked a dagger from behind her back. Even without her explanation, I could feel the shift in the air as she unsheathed it and knew that there was an unnatural sort of magic at play.
It was beautiful in a haunting, blood-chilling sort of way. The blade itself sparkled with hints of both silver and gold, the moonlight revealing the delicate carvings all along the metal. The grip was cushioned in crimson fabric, but the showstopper was the pummel and the blood ruby that sat atop it.
The ruby didn’t reflect the moonlight like the metal of the blade did. No, it seemed to create its own light, glowing from within.
“Say hello to your father, dear. His soul is trapped inside this little stone. Incredible, isn’t it? It took me a very long time to find this beauty. You wouldn’t believe the things I had to do to get my hands on it, but it was worth it in the end. You see, I had to make sure everything was in place for this moment.
Thankfully, I had quite a bit of time.” She purred, turning the dagger in her hands.
The way her otherwise sharp eyes softened as she looked at the stone mounted on the dagger’s pummel was nothing short of awed. She blinked, and when her eyes opened, they were once more on my face.
Fifteen years ago, a powerful seer witnessed the birth of a little girl. This little girl would be the first of her kind, a mixture of the three supernatural species. As if fate didn’t bless this child enough, it decided to give her more. This little girl would be born to the most powerful line of Vampires’ and Witches in existence. She’d grow in strength until the day came where she murdered her father, assumed his throne, and brought the three species together. Care to take a guess who that little girl is, Lola?” Freya hummed, tapping the sharpened point of the dagger with her finger.
When I didn’t answer, she smirked.
“Your father and I always worked well together.
With your magic at his disposal, we will be unstoppable. On that note, I think it’s time we begin.”
A low hum took place in my head, growing stronger and louder until my teeth rattled from its force. Just beneath the deafening sound was the changing of multiple voices. If I couldn’t see their l!ps moving, I would’ve never known the chanting was coming from the witches surrounding us.
My limbs began to tingle as magic filled the air around us. Fear unlike anything I’d ever known turned my blood ice cold. A daunting realization was setting in, slowly creeping beneath my skin, burrowing into my muscles and bones.
No one was coming to save me.
The ten witches surrounding us tilted their heads back in unison, their faces bathed in silvery moonlight. I almost missed the glint of steel in one of the witches’ hands. As I noticed it, I realized it wasn’t just one of the witches-it was all of them.
Every single one had something small and metallic clutched in their hands. I didn’t understand what it was until each one lifted it, the tiny blade inches away from their faces. Horror squeezed the oxygen from my lungs.
I couldn’t even save myself.
All at once, the witches swiped their individual blades against their throats, splitting skin and opening up a sea of crimson that washed over the earth tenfold.
The chanting stopped, replaced with the gurgle of ten people choking on their own blood. It lasted for several horrifying seconds before each one of the women fell to the ground, nothing more than corpse drained of life.
Grief began to build in my throat, stinging the backs of my eyelids. The tears would never fall, not while Freya had control over my body. Unable to look away, I had no choice but to take in the sheer loss of life, the waste that had just occurred in front of my very eyes.
Freya, the mastermind that orchestrated the deaths of so many, had her head held back. Her ch3st and the cl3avage that showed from the deep ‘v’ of her dress, moved up and down rapidly. When she opened her eyes, her pupils were dilated, dripping with power and what I knew was excitement.
She approached me slowly, carrying all of the confidence of someone who knows they won.
Twirling the dagger in her hand, she came to a stop mere inches away.
I couldn’t help the slew of thoughts that passed through my head. If only I could move. I’d sink my teeth into her throat, unleash Maya on her and relish as my wolf and I tore her limb from limb.
‘A transfer of souls can only occur between two people of blood relation, any other way and the results would be…et’s say, unstable. It takes a big sacrifice to generate the kind of magic required to keep your father’s soul in your body. Now that that’s done with, all I have to do is put this itty-bitty blade here in your chest cavity. As your lifeblood carries your soul out, the blood ruby will force your father’s soul in.” Freya explained, an eager tilt to her l!ps.
The way she dismissed those ten witches made my stomach clench with disgust. They truly meant nothing to her.
As she raised the dagger, my heart skipped a beat.
It should’ve been fear that flooded my mind, but it wasn’t. All I could see was Asher, the golden flecks in his eyes when we made love, proof that it wasn’t just him that had fallen for me, but his wolf too. All I could hear was his voice, the emotion that filled it’s gravely notes as he sank down onto one knee and professed his love for me. All I could smell was his scent, deep and masculine, intoxicating in a way that made my soul soar.
“With this final step, I bind my life force to that of the Vampire King. With the power of Conjuration, he will never age, and neither will I.”
Many things happened at once.
Freya’s hand moved, bringing the dagger down towards my ch3st. Time slowed and a presence I could only describe as pure and undeniably feminine washed over me, brighter and more potent than the moonlight pouring from the sky. The memory of my brother’s voice echoed in my ears.
…someone powerful is watching out for you..”
The pieces clicked together with a resounding snap that could’ve easily been my teeth chattering.
The Moon Goddess.
That was the powerful being that was looking out for me, helping me when I couldn’t even help myself.
Now that the thought took form in my head, nothing could convince me it wasn’t the truth.
Her presence did something to the dark magic rooting me in place. It weakened it, coated it’s clawed hand in liquid moonlight, making it that much harder to hold onto my physical form. It wouldn’t last, I could feel it in my soul.
It was a chance, a whisper of power that could only be used once before it faded entirely, and the darkness once again took hold.
I did it again, and again. My fingers twitched, then my toes. Relief came fast and hard, but not nearly as fast as Freya’s blade. It didn’t matter how quickly I regained control, or how much time slowed.
I just wasn’t fast enough.
A flash of inky darkness exploded in my peripheral.
For a moment, I thought I saw wolf made of pure shadow. Time sped back up with an abruptness that left me grappling for control. At the last second, before the cold tip of the blade could pierce my skin, something barreled into me with enough force to send me flying.
With my body throbbing, drowning in the agony of being hit by what felt like a freight train, I realized it wasn’t something that hit me, but someone.
Freya’s spell snapped back into place, holding my body captive once more. It lasted a total of three seconds before shattering. Deep down I knew why, but it wasn’t until Tristan stumbled backwards that I was forced to face the truth.
The scream that left my mouth was entirely my own, even if it was blended with two others: one of genuine heartbreak, and the other of murderous fury.
It was Freya that screeched, spitting venom at the Vampire that shoved me out of the way. Her daughter, my half-sister, was the one sobbing, wailing in a way that only someone deep in love could manage.
Holly fell to her knees at Tristan’s side.
Breyona’s massive wolf stood off to the side, her body swirling with wisps of shadow. She’d brought them here, Not Asher, Zeke, or any of the others, but Holly and Tristan. As she stood there, ears twitching and muzzle pulled back, I realized that even she didn’t know what to do.
None of us did because it was too late.
Even with a dagger embedded in his chest and blood pouring from his mouth, Tristan’s eyes remained on my face.
With his last breath, he forced two words through his l!ps.