Authors: Ryan Attard
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Dark Fantasy, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal & Urban
Book 2 of
The Legacy Series
Copyright © 2014 by Ryan Attard. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events or locales is purely coincidental. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited.
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“You may not like it, Abi, but we do have a protocol.”
My voice was dulled by the hiss of rainfall. Not that it mattered. My apprentice stormed in front of me, intent on proving she was right by stomping her feet and staunchly ignoring me.
My name is Erik Ashendale, and today’s pain in the ass is my apprentice slash secretary, Abigale.
Arguing in the rain is not fun. Arguing with a person who is plainly ignoring you is annoying. Arguing with a witch-succubus hybrid while carrying a gym bag full of equipment and getting soaked to the bone makes you want to blast said hybrid with a fire bolt.
“Really, Erik? Protocol?” she yelled against the rain. She reached my office and took shelter under the small archway, waiting for me to unlock the door and let her in.
“Just because it’s not written down doesn’t mean it’s not real,” I countered.
“Is this the same protocol that tells you it’s okay to kick down doors, blast walls open and sink entire cruise ships?”
I saw her smirk as I fumbled for my keys. I didn’t like that smirk. That smirk meant she thought she had won. I opened the door and walked in. “So, I’m a late convert to the whole ‘think before you leap’ thing. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” I looked at her as she stripped off her jacket and tried to squeeze water out of her naturally red hair. “We could have both been in serious trouble.”
“Oh, come on! They were vampires. Easy prey,” she said, waving her hand dismissively.
I closed my eyes and tried not to explode in a tirade. She knew what to say to make me angry and she was hitting all the right buttons.
“Abi,” I said, a dangerous note in my voice. My apprentice had quickly learned how to decipher my vocal tones. She stopped playing with her hair and faced me, all cockiness gone. “What was the situation?”
“We entered the nest, vamps were scattered all around us. There was a large group concentrated around the leader. The rest were either in pairs or alone.”
“And what did I instruct you to do?” I asked.
“I was supposed to pick off the lone ones and watch your back while you took on the leader and his flunkies.”
“And what did you do?” I hated being like this, as though I were some headmaster humiliating a student. I hated being the douche-bag. I remember clearly how it felt being on the other side of this conversation. But sometimes, taking on the role of the bad guy is the only way to drive a lesson home.
She stared at a wet spot on the floor. “I went straight for the leader of the pack.”
“Which left me with the responsibility of watching your back
front. You’re not strong enough to take on fifteen vamps at one go.” I turned and walked away.
“I’m sorry.” Her tone was sincere, her voice barely a whisper.
isn’t gonna bring you back from the dead,” I said a little too harshly. “We’re up against demons and Sins. The worst of the worst. I died last time, and it was only because of some dumb twist of fate that I happen to be here now. I can’t let that happen to anyone else.”
Silence reined for a while. Abi stood next to me, and we both stared out of the window, watching tiny raindrops explode against the tarmac.
“We’re stronger now,” she said.
I glanced at her.
“We’re stronger,” she insisted. “We have your sister as an ally now. The angels promised they’d help, too. And you got me. I’m powerful.”
She had a point. I’d only started teaching Abi less than a year ago, and she had picked up magic almost overnight. Given her succubus nature, she had all the physical endowments of a half-demon and was a natural at stuff like telepathy and psychometry. Amaymon had told me in private that in a few years’ time she could become proficient in telekinesis and all the other psychic branches of magic.
I hadn’t told her that. Abi was strong, no doubt, but she was still inexperienced. Today’s mission was proof enough. And unless she could convince me that she was mature enough to handle more power, I was seriously considering putting a stop to our teachings.
“I never said you’re not strong. I said you weren’t strong enough. You gotta use your head. Think. Observe.”
“I do think. And I observe stuff.”
“Really? Okay then, here’s a little test for you. How old were the vamps we took out today?”
Her eyebrows shot up. “How should I know? They looked to be around nineteen or twenty.”
I rolled my eyes. “I mean, how long did they have their powers for? Vampire years.”
“I… How the hell do you expect me to know that?” she snapped.
“Observation,” I replied simply.
“Fine. Three or four years. They were young, including their boss.”
I applauded mockingly. “Yes, they were young. But they couldn’t have had their powers for more than six months. A year tops.”
“There’s no way you could have gotten that from thirty seconds of fighting.”
I smirked. I could still impress her. It was also fun to know I had won the argument. “Their healing factor was too slow, too weak. Their reflexes and strength were below average in supernatural terms — their hunting tactics were so pitiful even Bambi could have kicked their asses, and they were very, very messy during their feeding. As they fed they went into a frenzy of lust and hunger, which suggests that they're new to that level of ecstasy. You lost yet?”
“You don’t have to get all high and mighty about it,” she said with a huff. My satisfaction increased.
“No, I don’t, but I enjoy it. Which brings me back to my original point. We use tactics. Look at my sister. She’s got no healing factor and no super powers to speak of. Despite that, she rarely emerges with more than a scratch. I, on the other hand, with my near-immortality and vast powers, am constantly getting stabbed, shot at and impaled. So, how about we start using our heads and avoid body bags, huh?”
Whatever she was going to say was lost when a loud explosion went off in the kitchen, followed by a series of crashing and clanging noises. In the midst of all that, I heard my cat yelling,
Amaymon isn’t like most cats. I mean, sure, he spends his waking hours eating and sleeping, but he can also talk, turn into a powerful demon and wreck my damn kitchen.
Which was exactly what my black shorthair cat was doing.
He saw us walk in, turned his golden eyes toward us and nonchalantly said, “Howdy” before resuming his assault on a mini-fridge. Abi had brought that in with her when she moved in, claiming that she had things she wanted to keep separate from my leftover-filled fridge and the glutton demonic cat that knew perfectly well how to open it. The mini-fridge was putting up a good fight. It bounced from one spot to another, avoiding Amaymon’s attempts to pounce on it. Any utensils near the fridge shot toward the cat, and let me tell you, watching your annoying cat getting whacked in the face by a frying pan like some bizarre cartoon sequence is hilarious.
It stopped being hilarious when the Balinese demon became a victim.
It was a statue of decent workmanship, a carving of a very ugly demon wielding a lightning bolt. I don’t remember exactly where I got it, maybe a garage sale or something. The only reason I got it was that I had yet to fight against a Balinese monster, and in my own sad way I figured it would be nice to encounter a demon, even a cheap wooden carving of one, which had yet to try and rip my head off. Point is, I liked that statue and the cat scratched it. And that’s when I got mad.
I lunged for the insane appliance and grasped it with both hands. On top of it was a sigil, a magical circle full of squiggly symbols painted on with nail polish. I forced my magic through it, and after a faint pop, the fridge stopped having an epileptic fit.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked as I took in the war-zone that my kitchen had become.
“I spent all evening trying to get that damn thing open. And then it went off,” said Amaymon as if that clarified everything. Abi snatched the fridge from my hands and checked her nail-polish-drawn sigil.
“Now I have to draw this again. Last time it took me a couple of hours to figure out the proper proportions for the spell,” she whined.
“Can someone explain to me what on Earth happened to my freakin’ kitchen?” My tone got louder.
But they still ignored me.
“I told you to stay out of my things,” she told the cat.
“All I wanted was a cupcake,” he replied.
“You ate the entire batch last week.”
“And that gives you the right to booby trap your fridge?”
“Hey, guys! I’m still here!” Again, they ignored me.
“How else am I supposed to keep you from eating everything in the house?” she retorted.
“You can’t. I do what I want, when I want. And I want a cupcake,” hissed Amaymon. Abi raised her eyebrows. Amaymon’s tough guy act was long lost on the apprentice. So, he tried the next best thing. He launched himself at the fridge in Abi’s arms and hung spread-eagle from the small appliance.
Without a word, I grabbed the cat by his collar, prying him off the fridge and drop-kicking him in mid air. The cat flew to the other side of the kitchen.
“Isn’t that animal abuse?” asked Abi.
“Not if the animal is a demon,” I replied as I opened the fridge in Abi’s arms. Its contents were sparse, save for a dozen small, round, red-velvet cupcakes. I took one out and was about to take a bite when I noticed a black ball of fur bolting toward the open fridge. I closed the door, and as Amaymon jumped I swatted him away with the fridge itself. For the second time that evening, the cat flew across the room.
“Watch the fridge,” gasped Abi. I ignored her and took a bite out of that cupcake. I had to hand it to her, the girl could bake.
“So, this is what my life has become now.” I paced around the kitchen with a pastry in one hand and a mini-fridge in the other. “You two arguing over baked goods and destroying my kitchen in the process. And worst of all, ignoring me. Never ignore me.”
I handed the appliance over to its owner. “Clever spell. I’m impressed that you managed to tone down a protection and defense spell for something as big as a house and make it work for a fridge. But next time you’re gonna put a utensil bomb in my kitchen, warn me first.”
“And you,” I looked at the cat with the same expression the Balinese demon wore. “Any more crap from you and I’ll skin you alive and turn you into a pair of fuzzy slippers. Now, both of you, clean this up.” I turned and left, heading straight for the shower. After arguing in a rainstorm and witnessing the epic battle of cat versus mini-fridge, I could use some relaxing time under a stream of hot water.
I stood under the shower for a few minutes, letting water wash away the grime collected by another day of hunting nightmares and horrors. But try as I might, no amount of relaxation could soothe my mind.
It was getting harder and harder out there, with all the new powers in play. Only a few months ago, if a client asked me to rid him of a haunting ghost and it turned a little nasty, I would consider that a tough day. I would come home and unwind, maybe watch a little TV, drink a beer, have some company over. Whatever got me through the night. Now I had to instruct a beautiful young woman who, genetically speaking, was as frightening as the monsters we hunted, and she seemed adamant on repeating all the mistakes I made as a kid. It wasn’t as if I didn’t enjoy teaching her. Some would say it was high time I took in a partner and passed on the esoteric knowledge I harvested. But this had gone beyond the usual stuff I did. I was used to a method. Step one – find the monster. Step two – whack that son of a bitch and go for a pint. Now… well, now, I had no idea what the fuck I was supposed to hunt. I mean, vampires, ghouls, maybe a demon or two – I could handle that.