Haunted Prey Ch. 12bypurefire©
Lindsay whirled around at the whispered call a second before motioning Jameson forward. "What the hell took you all so long?" He'd been waiting for his brothers for hours. While the time did afford him the opportunity to survey the Prygorian lair and formulate a plan of action, he didn't like that the same time was wasted. He could have long ago had Alauria in his arms and tucked safely away at the manor. God only knew what she'd had to suffer under Raife's sadistic hand; the demon leader was a fan of drawing blood no matter what she did. He still had some of the scars to prove it. If she decided to have the kind of fun that scared him, Alauria would be one step from death. No, he couldn't, he wouldn't think of that. She had to be alive. She had to be all right. There was no way he could go on if she no longer lived.
One thing was sure; the second he got her away from this mess, he would do everything in his power to show her just how much she meant to him.
Jameson pulled his long hair into a queue as he said, "Euan had to make sure Maels and Brock got back to their compound."
Though he understood the need for the action, his impatience pushed him toward illogical thinking. "He could have doubled back on his own."
"Into Prygorian Central? I don't think so." Jameson crouched low beside his brother before asking, "You have any idea how we're going to get in?"
"Easy," Lindsay replied, "We're going balls-out."
"Of course we are," Jameson sighed. He pulled a cellular phone out of his pocket quickly pushed the speed dial. There was no ring before he heard the telltale command for information that screamed Alexis. "He says we're blazing in with gusto." He heard Liam grunt in approval in the background and shook his head in reaction.
"When?" Jameson asked Lindsay.
"You and Liam should switch. It's better if there is one with an active power on either side." Lindsay stopped and looked around the dense forest that led to the outskirts of the cave system created by the demons, trying to decide if he wanted Jameson walking through the woods by himself. "Where the hell are they, anyway?"
Alexis, who'd heard the entire exchange, gave his and Liam's location. Jameson nodded quickly before replying, "We'll be there to switch in ten." As he hung up his phone and placed it back in his pocket, he said, "They're on the southern route, near the bend."
"He's flying high, getting the numbers of their outer patrol. He'll touch down when we meet up with Lex and Liam."
"Let's go then." Lindsay was quick to follow an unknown path deer used to navigate the forest. He didn't have to worry about having to fight just yet; Prygorian demons had an odd fondness for animals and made certain to keep from entering their territories for fear of disrupting their ecosystems. The last time he'd walked these woods, Lindsay was quick to notice the utter lack of modern conveniences that most demons hoarded in their bases of operation. He was sure it had something to do with the woodland creatures and for the first time, he was grateful that the demons had some sort of soft spot. "Remember that it'll take a full blast of fire to take one down."
"I'm pretty sure I won't have to worry about that if you stick me with Liam." Jameson shook his head at the memory of his brother. Liam, always ready for a fight, had a tendency to rush into battle instead of letting his brothers use their active abilities to thin down their enemies. To Liam, the more he had to fight, the better the battle.
"You two fight better together."
"You just don't want to have to worry about killing him before you get to Raife." Jameson smiled at Lindsay's grunt of agreement and was quick to sober when a difficult thought came to him. "You sure you'll be able to do it?"
"If he pisses me off enough, hell yes, I'll kill Liam."
"That's not what I'm talking about."
"I know." Lindsay sighed as he momentarily slowed his step. "I keep getting that question."
"I was there the last time you were given the opportunity."
"I was still in love with her back then."
"But you're not now?"
Lindsay wasn't altogether sure how to answer that question. Yes, he still cared for the woman he used to love, but that was only because she'd been such a central part of his life for a century. He'd eaten, breathed, and slept Rachel to the point of betraying his brothers. Out of respect for the woman he cared about, it would be one of the hardest kills he'd ever claim.
But then there was Alauria, the very reason he was out to kill Raife in the first place. While their relationship was rocky at best, there was nothing he wouldn't give for her, to be with her. In the short time she'd been in his life, he'd felt more for her than he could have ever felt for Rachel. In the back of his mind, he knew what that meant, and knew that his life had been fundamentally changed, but as he walked through the woods, he couldn't allow himself to feel what he'd forced aside. He couldn't fight emotionally; it was those very emotions that kept him from doing what he should have done centuries ago.
"She's in love with me."
"I'm not asking about Alauria."
Shock slapped Lindsay across the face as he absorbed his brother's words. "Alauria's in love with me? How the hell would you know?"
Jameson rolled his eyes as he stepped over a large branch that had fallen across the path. "All you have to do is look at the woman when she's around you and you'd be able to tell." He glanced at his brother and felt his brow raise at the pleased and surprised looks that took over his face. "You should probably tell her how you feel when this is over with."
"Don't tell me what to do," Lindsay snapped. He knew how he felt about her, but he wasn't sure he could call it love. Even if what he felt was the most intense experience he'd ever lived through, he couldn't call it something as serious as love. "We weren't talking about her anyway."
"I'll be able to kill Raife, all right?" Lindsay shook his head as he approached Alexis and Liam, suddenly annoyed by the turn of the conversation. "Which one of you is switching off?"
Just then, Euan touched down and shifted from owl form to human. His oval face was serious as he pushed his blonde hair out of his face and said, "There are about fifty to the north, fifteen to the east, ten to the south -- with about twenty interspersed in the middle and four to the west." He accepted a bundle of clothing Liam held out to him and quickly dressed.
"That means Raife is to the north." Lindsay glanced in the direction he'd just mentioned before looking at Euan's expectant amber eyes. "Those to the west will most likely shimmer in when they hear the fight."
"Which leaves the north, the east, and the south." Alexis glanced around at his brothers, slightly disappointed that there were only five of them. "Jameson and I will handle those to the east and south. You three take the north. We'll meet you."
"Remember that snapping their necks is the fastest way to immobilize them for a few minutes." Lindsay directed the information to Alexis and Liam as they had fewer advantages when it came to their abilities. "There is also a pressure point just under the ribs." He pressed his fingers to the location on his own body as an example. "And handle your shit, for fuck's sake."
Liam only smiled in anticipation as he slapped each of his brothers on the back. "Let's go fuck some shit up."
"We do this in fifteen," Alexis instructed, "That gives you three enough time to get to your positions before we go at once."
Lindsay only nodded before he turned and walked a dense and packed path that led straight to the north of the cave system. He didn't speak, as he was mentally preparing himself for the battle that was to come. Concentration was the key; fifty Prygorian demons was quite a challenge, even if he had two of his brothers with him. But for the sake of Alauria, failure was not an option.
"What did it look like they were doing?" Liam asked Euan.
"Getting ready for a party."
That simple statement had Lindsay turning to narrow his eyes at his brother. "What do you mean, getting ready for a party?"
"They were flying banners and putting drums made with animal skin together."
Lindsay felt his heart drop into his chest. "Were they yellow or red ones?"
"They were black," Euan said. His felt his brows raise and his temper flare when his brother cursed. "Lindsay, if you're going to get pissed, at least do it when I can kill something."
Lindsay felt his nerve grate as he remembered Euan's penchant for empathy. His brother not only identified with emotions, but he felt everything that was felt around him. "Black banners?"
"What does that mean?" Liam asked. He didn't have to be an empath to know that something wasn't right.
"Yellow banners mean it's some traditional Prygorian celebration. Red denotes the initiation of a Prygorian that came into power." He shook his head slowly as he increased the pace of the walk toward the north end of the cave system. Lindsay trudged through the dense foliage, grabbing onto the trucks of nearby trees to help propel himself forward.
"What the fuck is it?" Liam asked again.
"Black means they're making a sacrifice."
The statement had both Euan and Liam silent for a long moment. Liam's thoughts shifted to Charisma and another innocent soul, and he remembered a time where they had no choice but to witness the effects of a different sacrifice, one that drastically shifted the dynamic of their complicated family. "Fucking great," he murmured. This was exactly what he wanted to hear.
"Walk faster," Lindsay commanded. But the command fell on deaf ears as ten demons jumped down from the trees. He was quick to shock the two in front of him into oblivion before shifting to snap the neck of a third. A hard kick to the back launched him forward and he took a small tree down during his awkward land. Lindsay only had a second to shift to the side before a large ceramic-like foot came stomping down where his head once was. Lindsay was quick to jump to his feet and used the momentum to return the kick. His aim proved true as the heel of his foot made contact with the demon's pressure point. The high-pitched squeal made him wince, but it didn't distract him from blasting that demon into ashes as well.
"Move the fuck out the way!" Liam shouted as he flew past Lindsay to drop-kick the demon going for his brother's back. His foot made contact with the Pprygorian's chest and the force of it had the demon slamming into a tree. As he backed up a space, Liam felt hard arms encircling his shoulders and threw his weight forward to roll the demon off. As he crouched before the two demons, he caught sight of the large tree branch and quickly rolled to grab it. As he shifted into another crouch, he tossed the branch like a spear, hitting his mark and pinning one of the demons to another tree. Liam gained his feet and slowly circled the other demon as it tried to find a weak point. "Let's dance, bitch." He launched himself backward and threw his legs up when the demon charged him. Just as the Prygorian braced to jump forward, Liam took the heavy weight and sprung it backward into one of the demons set to attack Euan. He tripped another demon going after Lindsay's back and scrambled up in time to snap its neck. "Watch out!" he shouted at Euan.
Quick reflexes had Euan turning in time to shove an elbow into the demon's neck. As the Prygorian's head snapped back, he delivered a roundhouse kick that shoved the demon in Liam's direction. A split second later, he found himself dodging a stream of electricity aimed at a demon bent on taking advantage of his turned back. Euan quickly rolled out of the way and let his animal instincts take over. He saw the two coward demons that tried to run for help and quick to give chase; strong legs helped him leap up into the trees and from branch to branch until he was able to cut them off. As he dropped down from a tall branch, he crushed the torso of one demon, while wrapping his arm around the neck of the other. Snapping the neck was quite easy when the demon tried to throw him off. Euan landed hard on his side, but ignored the pain that came with the awkward landing; he rushed back to his brothers in time to leap high and grab onto the head of a large demon Liam tried to finish off. His momentum, paired with Laim's hold on the Prygorian allowed them to decapitate the demon. As he threw the head to the side, Euan watched as Lindsay electrocuted the final demons that were capable of attacking.
"Good warm-up," Liam murmured as he flexed his arms.
"Why the hell didn't you see them?" Lindsay railed at Euan.
Because adrenaline still ran through his system, Euan was able to block his brother's anger. "Probably because they took position while I was reporting what I saw." He wasn't in the mood to deal with his brother's attitude; with a grunt, he turned and continued toward their destination. "At least that's ten less than we have to deal with when we get to the north end."
"Amen," Liam agreed as he followed.
Lindsay grumbled a low curse as he took up the rear. He was annoyed that he'd just spent the better part of fifteen minutes fighting demons that should have been with the rest of the Prygorians. While the battle did indeed allow him the benefit of a warm up and less demons to have to fight at the north end, his time was wasted out in the middle of the woods. It was taking him too long to get to Alauria; the last thing he needed was to have a repeat of what happened to his mother. No, he would not think of that; he had to keep his thoughts clear and positive; it was the only way he would be able to successfully complete this mission.
By the time they'd made it to the north end of the cave system; Lindsay was poised to fight. Black banners hung high and glittered in the firelight, a sure sign that sacrificial blood would be spilt. Over his dead body; there was no way in hell he would allow Alauria to die.
The fight started before he had a chance to get his thoughts together. One second Lindsay was crouching to get an idea of how they would attack, and the next, he was dodging the sword blade that was swung at him. He easily rolled out of the way and stepped forward to jab the attacking demon below the chin. As the Prygorian reared back, he threw an intense stream of electricity at it. The voltage pierced the demon, and two others behind it, quickly slimming their numbers down. As they demons turned to ash, Lindsay turned and watched as a hoard of demons charged his brothers. While his ability would have easily allowed him time to roast at least five of them, his brothers would still be at a disadvantage. He had to think quickly. Lindsay surveyed the area and kicked back the demon that rushed at him toward the right. It was then that he spied the spear-like pole that held up the black banner. He made a grab for it and was quick to rip it out of the ground and a scat second he launched it toward the demons headed for his brothers. Luck was on his side; the makeshift spear sliced through two demons before pinning two more to each other.
The blow that cane from the left had Lindsay flying three feet before he hit the ground. He managed to land on one of the wooden drums made specifically for the sacrifice and groaned as he felt the splintered wood pierce through his skin. Pain, anger and desperation created a dangerous combination as he pulled himself up. As he clutched his side, he threw out a hand to shock an oncoming demon into oblivion. It was then that he noticed the throng behind the demon approaching. "Fuck," he muttered. He couldn't call his brothers for aid; they were occupied with their own demons. Lindsay considered running back into the woods to force them to spread out, but the tactic drew him away from Alauria. So he pushed forward, hoping that he would be able to stay on his feet long enough to make it to the woman he was desperate to save.
Lindsay only had a second to follow the command before a blaze of fire incinerated each of the demons charging him. The scent of burning demon flesh added to the agony of his wound made his stomach turn. "Liam!" he called as he sprang to his feet. Through the haze of smoke and fire, Lindsay was able to make out the figures of Alexis and Jameson, each engaged in their own battles. Jameson chose to use his powers to set the demons on fire after his brothers pushed them back far enough from the entrance of the cave system. "Liam!"
"I'm right fucking here." Liam quickly pulled a glove off and took Lindsay's hand in his. His powers worked quickly, as evidence by the hissed curse his brother emitted. "Get inside, man. We've got this."
Lindsay glanced up and through the glow associated with Liam's abilities, he was able to see the bloodlust in his eyes, the need to kill as many demons as possible. For Liam, that usually meant killing the most. "You're having too much fun."
"Just go get the fucking girl." Liam shoved his brother in the direction of the cave system a second before he side-kicked a charging demon. "Go!"
Because his head was still swimming from the effects of Liam's abilities, Lindsay was quick to do as he was told. He was easily able to sneak past the entrance as all of the demons were eager to fight his brothers. Inside the tunnels, there were only a few demons, and they were all dispersed. Quick snaps of the neck immobilized them long enough for him to get to the heart of the cave system, the Mecca of the Prygorian lair. He had to battle memories of another mission as he focus began to shift. Nothing had changed from the last time he'd been here. It was even as if he'd fought and killed the same exact demons. Lindsay took a moment to brace his back against the wall. Five demons rushed passed and in their haste to join the battle outside, they'd neglected to mind their surroundings. He grabbed the last demon in line and snapped its neck. As he let the demon drop to the ground, Lindsay channeled his powers to create a white-hot bolt of electricity. The power of it unfurled from his core, spreading to every cell of his body and out through every pore of his skin. Because the halls of the cave system were thick and only a few feet in width, the voltage of his power siphoned through, electrocuting any and all demons within thirty feet. The bright light of the blast blinded and weakened him for a brief moment and as he panted for breath, Lindsay told himself that he was almost there, that he was steps closer to Alauria. Soon, she'd be away from this place. The small motivational speech gave him the determination he needed to charge forward. Lindsay rushed the large double doors and did not stop until he stood in the center of the sacrificial chamber. The walls were lined with demons visibly itching to tear him apart. To the front, Raife stood above Alauria, who'd been strapped down to a table obviously used for torture. Candlelight illuminated the scene before him.
"Looks like you were able to make it this time."
Lindsay shifted his gaze from Alauria's bruised and relieved face to Raife's amused one. Anger burst through him as he watched the demon run a claw-tipped finger over Alauria's soft skin. "I won't let you kill her, Raife."
"And why not? You made a promise to me. I'm going to make sure you keep it."
"We were different people back then." He mad sure to emphasize the part where they were people. "I made that promise to Rachel, and she's dead. Just like you will be." Lindsay narrowed his eyes as he watched Raife shift forms to look like Rachel. Even in human form, he only saw the evil, the mistakes he'd made when he'd believed that they were meant to be. "Changing forms doesn't change how I see you."