tagSci-Fi & FantasyAmid The Shadows Ch. 16

Amid The Shadows Ch. 16

byAnnaDreamer©

George stared at the opulence of the building, taking in the design and never ending windows on every floor.

While this place emitted the sense of luxurious, it left George cold and uneasy. He could feel eyes watching him. A sixth sense awakening in him.

How far he'd journeyed away from Alistair in the last few decades, thoughts of Alistair still plagued him through the years and now he stood here, ready to revisit where the division between them began. A man closer to him than any other who knew him better than anyone...a long time ago anyway.

As George looked closer, he could see the magic buzzing around the outer perimeter. Humming and floating around as minute particles in the air. If anyone came upon this fortress he was sure they would not even notice the sickly evil stench that clung to the grey craved walls.

The blue skies of earlier had long since disappeared leaving a dull dark gathering of cloud, darkness was falling quickly, George hadn't realized so much time had passed, but the sun was now a orange flame spread across the far horizon, threatening to be ousted by the clouds like a blanket.

Karl touched him arm, his eyes had shifted to a glowing yellow of the animal within.

'Is he doing this?' Karl asked in a deep rumble.

George scanned the windows and locked onto the lone figure on the second floor. He smiled menacingly.

'It would appear that our visit was a little too early for Alistair. He's speeding things on a little.' George murmured.

'He can change time?'

'No one is that powerful, but the effects of being on his playing ground means he can fast forward or rewind. Remember when we came through, there was a distinct change of time. It takes a great deal of power to maintain, for even a few moments.'

Diana stepped forward, carefully not to meet the wolf's eyes. She spoke in a clear and careful way. 'Massster isss at hisss peak in power asss darknesss fallsss. The body may awaken through the daylight on occasssion but when one becomesss the other he can draw power from that around him.'

'This is a trap. We shouldn't be here' Paul voiced his concern from the back of the group, his eyes fixed on the large arched wooden door, signaling the traditional entrance.

George spun to face him, 'Come now, all those secret meetings with him, all though times telling tales and spilling secrets. Surely you have some idea of his nature. His character I thought I knew, many years ago. While us finding him maybe a slight surprise, he is a master of strategic planning and execution. He has already thought of a hand full of ways to divide us, kill us or worse. I for one will no longer live in fear of him!' George pointed to the window with a strong arm. 'A man who has killed my daughter and turned you into something I don't even recognize.'

'We don't know she is dead fath-' Paul began in a soft tone.

'You felt your heart trying to fight its way from your chest? You felt the curl and pull of magic, a hollow place now where your magic lives like something was no longer attached?'

Paul opened his mouth to speak and closed it just as quick.

'I don't want to believe she is dead Paul, the regret of feel, things not said and done. I no longer feel Alexis in my heart. Your sister is no longer a presence, her magic is no longer connected to my own, in the way any father or parent is with their child until the marriage ceremony of our people or death breaks it. Alistair Wentworth must pay for his crimes, I will be his judge, his jury and his death.'

George closed his eyes and threw his arms out wide. He felt the wind rise around him as he called upon a power inside himself that had too long been a sleeping lion. He felt the lion awaken and the claws of power inside him stretch and flex. His muscles felt anew, his limbs limber and light.

'I am coming for you.' He whispered to the vacated window.

Karl watched the transformation take over his friend. While his appearance was the same, his height the same, George Martinez seemed to grow. The wind whipped around the trees and glass in the castle before the shook in its frames. George was drawing upon the earth and all its elements to gather power. Karl felt his wolf snarl in response, he too wanted a piece of the creature inside the walls. He dropped the parcel to the floor and pulled the gag from her mouth and the sliver from her wrists, ignoring her cries of agony.

'I may not need you after all blood sucker.'

As Claudia tried to recover from the shock at her wounds, Karl grabbed the trunk of an aged oak by the edge of a gravel path. His hands skimmed the bark and settled on branch, so thick in width, his hand would not close around it. He snapped it with an animalistic roar and threw it down to the ground. His gripped Claudia's arm and thrust her on to the protruding article, now more of a hanging stump.

Diana screamed as Claudia's slight frame was thrust on the broken branch. Her mid rift was now a mass of red and ripped cloth as the tree's jagged edges, now blood soaked, were visible through her body, where once her stomach had been located. Claudia's cries and screams of agony filled the air carrying on the wind. Karl felt his face partially shift and let out a gleeful howl into the coming night.

George watched the scene, detached and cold. He threw his magic towards the door. The spells and charms protecting its entrance groaned in disagreement.

George uttered 'I un llamamiento a los ancianos de mi línea para abrir este camino'

The door groaned again and beveled with the weight. George spoke clearly, 'I call upon the ancients of my line to open the way.'

The door blew from its hinges, wood and metal splintering across the gravel, a mist of tiny wooden chips filling the air. George turned to the vampire suspended against the tree.

'You are very astute; you made your way into my home and bypassed a security of wolves.'

At this comment Karl growled.

'So tell me baby vampire, what should expect from inside these walls?'

George waited impatiently for a response, the vampire shuddered, crimson stained white teeth and fang and a single stream dripped down her chin. 'I will tell you nothing!' Claudia cried, spraying the air in front of her face with pink spit.

George flew forward enraged and gripped her chin, his body hovered above the floor. The wind around them howled, stray leaves and grass gathering momentum around them.

'You think you'll be of any use to him when I'm finished? He will feel your pain but nothing will compare to when you feel his death.'

Claudia whaled in pain, 'He is not the reason I'm...' I'm...' her voice abruptly cut off as the tree swayed caused her body to jolt against the bark.

George dropped to the floor Joined by Karl, Paul and Diana.

Karl rolled up his sleeves, 'How do you want to do this?'

George viewed the door and darkened hallway ahead, 'Well the element of surprise is screwed, He now knows we are here. Let us work with what we have. Diana is the most familiar with the layout, she will accompany me. I need you and Paul to hunt inside. I need to know if Alexis was or is inside there.'

Karl, nodded, 'What if we find anyone else? Do we take prisoners or hostages?'

George pursed his lips in thought, 'Ask about Alexis or Alistair's plans, use whatever means necessary. Alistair is mine.'

Diana spoke first, 'The main protection on the property are the wardsss on the outer line. There will be other sssurprises in the house, they will be a sssmell to alert you to anything activated. '

Paul interjected and touched her face, 'If you come across him, you run Diana, I will not lose you as well.'

Diana smiled and grabbed him quickly. They kissed fiercely for a moment before Diana pulled away. She pointed to a window on the ground floor. 'That isss an armory, The Massster likesss to keep a full range of everything. I think thisss isss our first ssstop.'

Karl frowned in thought, 'Into the lion's den.' He murmured to no one in particular.

**

Jensen looked down to see if Alex wanted food to find she had drifted back into a slumber, he carefully laid her against his pack and covered her with his jacket.

Four large strides and he was with Claude watching the older man fuss over small tin bowls and packets of dried soup,

'What the hell is going on?' Jensen questioned in a whisper.

'Apart from the fact we are in a cave, in the side of a mountain, looking for a stone from the depths of hell?' Claude looked at him incredulously, 'Why dear boy, absolutely nothing!' Claude let out an ill placed laugh.

'You know damn well that is not what I mean, you saw something, I saw it on your face when Alex woke up,'

'It is not for me to tell you someone else's experiences.'

'Bullshit, Claude, if this could hurt Alex-'

'It is not just Alexis who could get hurt through this!' Claude dropped the spoon he was holding and it clattered loudly against the tin bowl, echoing around the walls.

Jensen gripped his shoulder and squeezed reassuringly. 'I know you feel some guilt about how things happened between me and Alistair but Claude, anything here, any snippet of information may be able to help us in some way. I want to be free of him, if this crusade is what it takes, I'll do it, for me and for Alex.'

Claude sighed and turned quickly embracing Jensen in a hug that surprised them both in its intensity.

Claude pulled back, uncertainly running through his veins as he spoke clearly,

'Alex dreamed of a relative, her grandfather actually, Martinez Senior. A strong character, I knew him briefly through council meetings for the ESNC and charity functions a life time ago. He was powerful, well respected man, and always firm but fair.' Claude waved a hand at Jensen expression,

'I digress, he discussed some personally matters with Alexis, I caught snippets of this and that, she was projecting herself very loudly. My ears are still ringing from the aftermath. Did you know she had a brother, a twin?'

Jensen snorted, 'I may have been locked in chamber for a while but I'm not complete cut off from the world. Alex and I do talk as well as...' he trailed off.

Claude smiled, 'Yes well, it would appear that Paul, the brother, played an absolute trump and helped have Alex delivered to your brother.'

Jensen frowned, 'When we first met she was speaking with another Wizard, Dominic. I assumed it was him. But the brother?' Jensen ran a hand through his hair.

'So it would seem.' Claude picked up a bowl and took a tentative sip of steaming liquid.

'He's working with Alistair then?' Jensen glanced at Alex's sleeping form,

'What drives a brother to do something like th-' Claude cut off a beginning of a rant and met Jensen's stare. Suddenly the words unsaid hung in the air. Claude's eyes fell on a scar on Jensen's arm.'What I'm trying to say is that she too now has some idea of the betrayal of a brother.'

Jensen cleared his throat uncomfortably, 'What else happened?'

'Nothing too clear, the odd word here and there about the stone, and feelings, strong emotions. So much I felt I was choking on it.' Claude rubbed his neck with a hand. 'A sense of loneliness, anger and then it erupted and then quickly over.'

'Did this relative give any clue as to where we go from here?'

'I think this cave leads somewhere, I've tried to read the Duke's diary again, but nothing springs to mind,

I'd like for all of us to read what we can, many hands and all that. I feel we are not using Alexis' power in the right way; so far her experiences have been of the negative.'

Claude set down his bowl and moved to his rucksack, riffling through he pulled out the blue binded book he'd given to Jensen on their departure. 'I think some practicing of the exercises in this book could aid us in speaking to the right people. Well, people is probably the wrong word.'

Jensen eyed the book with suspicion. 'If this is something to do with the shit that Isabella was sprouting about the fates and destiny bring us together, I don't want to hear it,'

'Lewis you have to believe there are things out of our control. Do you honestly think things just happen?'

'I believe we make our own fate.' Jensen held out his palm, a small cascade of light flew from its centre a mixture of glowing and evolving shades of greens and yellows, morphing in size and shape until it settled into an odd formed sphere. It lightly flew around the cave edge and return to his palm, as he closed his fingers slowly the ball grew smaller and dimmer and finally was gone.

'My power is busting at the seams Claude, it was bubbling away but now it feels like a building volcano. Alex has helped me, when I healed her I find an outlet to control the overflow. I'm not saying that being her personal band aid is a good idea, but every time I am I gain a little more control over myself. Being with her helps me. She heals me.'

'So as long as Alexis keeps blinding using her own gifts and getting hurt and you get to heal her, you're ok with that?'

'No! I'm being clear.' Jensen moved the cave wall and drew his fingers across the jagged rock, 'I have a connection to her, regardless of the feelings we have for each other, You may think I'm crazy and a little displaced. Being in someone's torture cell for a while could warp a man, but nothing will stand in the way of my future with Alex. No more will I bent to other's will Claude. For once I'm going to be selfish.'

'Jensen, this journey is not over yet, many turns and roads could lead in different directions, when this is over, that is the time to be selfish. That stone in your brother's hand will mean the end of things as they are now. If you thought he was corrupted before imagine him with an item that can draw and dispel power, he will be invincible.'

'We don't know for sure what the stone will do.' Jensen murmured,

'Read this and then we'll talk again.' Claude handed Jensen a second book, the duke's diary.

**

George strapped the knives to his ribs and stopped at the armory door, Paul was murmuring something to Diana and Karl was scoping the inside of the hallway for anything and everything.

'The place smells like a whore's handbag' Karl grunted and took a breath, 'Perfumes covering the scent of old fear, blood and....' Karl stopped dead and swung to a room on this right and kicked open a door. The poor thing burst open in apology for just being there.

Karl scented the room slowly. He moved like lighting, George following behind. Karl jumped with the grace of a cat onto a claret coloured velvet sofa. He pressed his nose against the velvet and whined. George watched in amazement. It wasn't often it got to see the wolf so close to the surface in his friend. As much as he believed his friend to be the same as himself, the magic and ferocious nature of the wolf always lurked under the expensive suits, covered like a veil by the shirts and cuff links of the business man persona he decorated himself with.

Karl raised his lip, 'She was here George, the scent is a good three days old, but she sat here and bled here.' He pointed a finger to the back cushion. 'Here, a small drop of her blood. Old blood.'

'You sure?'

'I know her smell anywhere.' Karl sighed. 'Her scent is all over here and...' Karl jumped over the furnishings and strode to the wall by the fireplace with the grace of a gymnast 'here, she stood here, scared and unsure.'

'How can you be so sure?' Paul asked from the door way.

'She felt that way once before, when her papa passed. Smells like burning candy floss, sweet but smoky. There are other smells George, only one other is familiar.' Karl paused to be sure, but it was there again and turned to Paul. 'You never came here did you?'

Paul shook his head, 'Just the place in town, a few bars and a restaurant.'

'Diana?' Karl spoke her directly, her eyes widening with the interaction, 'I may need to you identify some people.'

'What if I cannot?' She answered, sticking out her chin,

'You will.' Karl looked back to George, 'Dominic was here also, more recently. From the concentrated scent on this rug' Karl bent and touched his finger tips to the fabric, 'He's dead or Alistair made another child.'

'Dominic was supposed to be in the car that collected Alexis for the fund raiser, she was to collect him on the way.' George widened his eyes.

'He was supposed to hand her over, that was it.' Paul whispered.

'Massster had many a meeting with the wannabe wizard, He wanted money and posssition.' Diana gripped Paul's arm. 'We cannot wassste more time.'

'No, you cannot.' Boomed a voice as an impeccably dressed figure entered the room.

All eyes fell on Alistair Wentworth as he made his way into the study at a leisurely pace, dressed in a dark grey suit with navy shirt and matching tie, he paused briefly to eye George.

'My My the years have not been kind to you old friend.' Alistair chuckled to himself as he moved to a drinks cabinet. He purposely turned his back as he opened the doors and poured a large glass of brandy. He took a sip and let out a smug sigh. He turned back to audience, watching their body language, coiled like springs and ready to go.

'I don't remember inviting you to visit Georgie and bringing friends,' He looked to the wolf purposely, 'Is not good etiquette, what would Marianne say? tut tut.'

'Do not speak her name!' George fumed, clenching his fists.

'Marianne, Marianne, Marianne!' He answered in a sing song voice. 'Still just words Georgie.' He taunted.

George let rip with a cry, sending a bolt of blue towards the man who had once been as close as a brother. The bolt hit him square in the chest, the glass Alistair held fell and dark liquid smashing and spilling over a writing desk by the window.

Alistair hunched over momentarily, as he rose to a standing position once more, a large hole was visible through his navy shirt and a large piece of the tie hung by a single thread. As he straightened, he pulled at the fabric, scrunched it in his hand and let it fall to the floor. The wound on his chest was angry, skin was burned and smoldered revealing muscle and tendons torn from his rib cage and chest. As the others stared at him, the muscle knitted together almost instantly, skin stretched to leave an inflamed pink area of skin behind in a matter of minutes.

'I let you have the first hit George, be warned everything after that will be met.'

'I expect nothing less from you.' George replied, 'Where is my daughter?'

'Why would I know...' Alistair paused as his eyes fixed on Paul, 'Ah it all becomes clear.'

'Leave my son out of this Alistair.' George widened his stance preparing for attack.

'But he is why we are here, is int that right Paul?' Alistair smoothed his hands down his suit jacket, taking a handkerchief from his pocket he wiped his hands and discarded the article on the desk. In a mocking voice he continued, 'My father is stifling, he has no vision, my sister is the golden child and some other rubbish. 'A few choice words here and there to the right people and your power hungry son was ready to hand over his sibling for more of what I can offer.'

'What you can offer? George snorted, 'Don't make me laugh Alistair, you have never once worked for anything in you life, you have minions doing your dirty work, making them collateral damage while you walk away without a backward glance. I knew it, so did Marianne and Lewis. Marianne and I had the good sense to leave you but Lewis remained your lapdog.'

'The funny thing is George, you have no idea of her potential do you? Paul was right Alexis is special, she tastes exquisite.' He shuddered at the memory.'Your neglect of your own child means you really know nothing about her, her loneliness called to me, her power, beauty, she would make a wonderful vampire and a wonderful bed partner.'

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