*The Watcher in the Darkness Series and all characters contained therein are the sole copyright of K.M. Spires. All rights reserved.*
The Watcher in the Darkness series contains adult situations, graphic violence, and lots and lots of bad language. Rated M for Mature, seriously.
Chapter 42, Part 4
The words flew out before I realized I was going to speak. “Gwen, go into that huge boulder over there.”
Xi froze. I didn’t know it was possible for a snake to look surprised.
I pressed the advantage. “Don’t ever come out. Not until I release you, or time stops.”
The gathered fairykin, including Xi, looked at the Elders.
Gwen’s eyes glistened, and her jaw trembled. I felt like a giant prick, but said, “You will stay in that rock forever. When it is sand, you will live in the sand.” I turned toward Khalid. For the first time since I’d known him, he appeared to be at a loss. “Did you see that coming, you fuck?”
Gwen slouched in despair as she took a step toward the pillar of stone. “No,” Hot Sister said as she threw her arms around Gwen. “Please, vampire, have mercy.”
My eyes still locked with Khalid’s, I held up my hand. “Actually, hold up, Gwen. You only have to go into the boulder if one of your brothers…hell, if any of these freak fairies come anywhere near me. In fact, go in if anything happens to me at all, ever. Even if it’s an accident. If I stub my toe in the dark, you go into that fucking boulder. Do you understand?”
Gwen bowed deep, then glared at Khalid. “Yes, my master,” she said in a barbed tone.
A spike of fury jumped off Khalid. “Well played, bloodsucker.”
The scales that formed Xi’s brow drew into a knot. He gave Hot Sister a sharp look, then jerked his head toward me.
Rhiannon’s beauty became almost unbearable when she smiled. She took a step in my direction and I backed away on reflex. “You just…keep your distance” I said.
“So, you say.” Her voice was a rich purr. “But your body says come ever so much closer. I can, if you like.”
Yes, please. “No.” I shook my head hard to clear it.
“Don’t you want me to?” Her disappointed tone cut me in half.
I did. God help me, I wanted nothing else. “I don’t trust you.”
Rhiannon’s pretty smile made an even prettier pout. My hands ached to know if her skin was as soft as the silk that clung to her body. “As well you shouldn’t. But I propose that we put an end to these games. I desire nothing except my precious sister’s freedom. In exchange, I offer one night of my favor.”
The passenger in my pants was immediately on board with this idea. I caught myself before I could agree outright. “Are you saying…”
“Sex. I would let you fuck me. One night of my warmth and considerable skill. In exchange, I would have your oath that my sister will be released at daybreak.”
She was making a lot of sense. However, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. She had an angle, I just couldn’t see what it was with her standing so close. “I can’t,” I said.
Rhiannon tilted her head. “You can’t? Seems to me you’re more than capable.”
“Well, maybe—wait, no. No.” I shut my eyes tight. “I can’t. I need Gwen’s help to free Karen.”
“Karen is free, remember?” I could hear the smile return to Rhiannon’s voice. “That wholly unworthy djinn has been stripped of all his assets. There is nothing standing between us.”
Oh, yeah. My relief turned my limbs to jelly. Before I could make a move toward Rhiannon, Khalid said, “She is wrong.”
I glared at him. Cock blocker.
“Yes, my wealth and property have been taken, but Karen falls under neither category. Ours is a contract between teacher and student. I help her develop her powers and as payment, I use her powers as I see fit. This tribunal doesn’t have the authority to break that sort of contract.”
I frowned at Rhiannon. “Is that true?” I could tell by the look of resentment on her face that it was.
Rhiannon waved her hand in dismissal. “Come to me, Toby. Forget all others and fall into me. I promise you that this will be an experience unlike any you’ve ever known, or ever will again. Your death will be exquisite.”
It was like someone dropped an iceberg onto my libido. I was so stupid. I reminded myself that I could fuck Rhiannon every night for a hundred years; I’d still remember Gwen’s True Name. There was only one way to make sure I’d never use it again.
I tore my eyes away from Rhiannon then said, “Gwen, shut this bitch up.”
Gwen waved her hand. The look of shock on Rhiannon’s face was priceless as a thick black veil dropped over her head. Once she was out of sight, her power over me was broken.
The fairies murmured as Gwen’s squatty brother took a few steps toward me. His arms were longer than his legs, and he walked on his knuckles like a gorilla. He had a lumpy face and small, wide-spaced teeth. However, he had a lovely speaking voice. “Greetings,” the little goblin said.
I looked him over. If I made it out of that mountain alive, I’d have to draw him, just to show other vampires. “Hi,” I said.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to meet you. You may call me Durin.”
My vampire instincts became a stern voice in my head. Don’t engage it. Don’t answer too many questions. Above all, don’t let it trick you into granting it a favor. “Okay.”
“I must say, you are far more resourceful and clever than any of us would have given you credit for.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot.” If they were going to kill me, they would’ve done it already. Right?
Durin laughed. “Of that, I have no doubt, my friend. And, you clearly possess an impressive will. I have never witnessed my sister’s charms fail before. One can’t help but wonder how you managed it.”
I frowned at him. “Are you coming on to me?”
Durin blinked in surprise. “What? No. Perish the thought.”
I wondered how far I could kick him. “Then get to the point.”
“If you like,” Durin said. “You realize, don’t you, that there is no way we can allow you to leave here alive.”
I relaxed. If there’s one thing I’m used to, it’s death threats. “Is that so?”
“It is no secret that our two species have never borne any love for each other.”
“Yeah, no shit.”
“Your quick wit has saved you for now, but consider for a moment what this means.” He nodded toward Gwen. “For her. For you. Our sister being enslaved to a human was bad enough. We will never allow her to remain in thrall to a vampire.”
Durin shook his ugly little head. “Still too much. The very idea of her granting your every desire is the most galling notion I’ve ever heard. I can assure you that this sentiment will be shared by all my kind, everywhere. In the land. In the sea. In the air. Across every known dimension and on every world, this will not abide.”
“So, suck it up. You know what happens to her if anything happens to me. Gwen?”
She looked at me.
“Got that? Anything.”
Gwen nodded once then glared at the ground.
To Durin, I said, “You can’t keep me here.”
The goblin sighed. “Look, Tobias…May I call you Tobias?”
“I honestly don’t give a shit.”
“All right. You can place whatever condition you like upon her service, but I assure you that we will find a way around it. Your every wish, once granted, will be corrupted, more curse than blessing. Just as it was for her first human master, and his long line of descendants.”
I didn’t doubt the truth of that, but it changed nothing. “I’ll take my chances. Gwen, come on.”
Durin’s voice hardened as Gwen walked toward me. “Tobias, you will have the whole of fairy kind putting their heads together on this one. We will find a way to thwart and punish you, as well as save her. Do you understand?”
I took Gwen by her boney wrist. “Do what you have to do. So will I.”
The corners of Durin’s mouth pulled down. “I see. Since you care so little about your own health and wellbeing, can I assume then that there is no one in the world you care about?”
I felt the granddaddy of all scowls settle over my face.
“The priest? That sanctuary for your kind? What about the daughter you crippled, or even that revenant?”
“Dude, she’s not my—you know what, you’re boring the shit out of me. You’re threatening me with bad luck? My father is a vampire and my mother was bat-shit crazy. I’ve been fucking homeless since I was five years old. The woman I loved cursed me with Waking Death. What you call bad luck, I call fucking Thursday. Gwen, open the portal. We’re going back.”
I turned my back on Durin as he said, “And what about that necromancer you are so eager to save? Is her safety of such little concern to you?”
I fucking hate fairies. “Enough. Gwen, the boulder thing extends to all my friends, family, the Sanctuary, hell, even people that say hello to me on the street. Say goodbye to your freak show.”
Gwen looked at Xi for help, but didn’t resist when I pulled her behind me. I took a step toward the portal, hesitated, then muttered curses under my breath.
I turned on my heels then walked toward Xi. The giant serpent’s eyes were hooded and distant, already plotting my demise. “Alright, Xi. You freaks like to make deals. Here’s my deal. Karen for Gwen. How about it?”
Xi gave me a long look. “Explain.”
“The only reason I need Gwen is to free Karen from that demon bastard’s control, right? Once that’s done, I’ll have no reason to say her True Name ever again. So, if you can bring me Karen, Gwen is free to go.”
Xi tilted his head, intrigued. “Gwen can give you wealth. Fame. Power. She could ensure that you never go hungry again.”
“Please. I can get those things on my own. Karen for Gwen. Do we have a deal?”
“Karen is not theirs to give,” Khalid said, making it hard for me to pretend he wasn’t there. “I suggest you make this deal with me.”
“Because I’m dumb enough to trust you not to fuck me over? Eat a cock.” I turned my attention back to Xi. “What do you say?”
Xi’s scales whispered against the stone as he slithered around me. “And why should we trust you to keep your word?”
I pulled Gwen closer, should he get any bright ideas. “Because I swear it on my life.”
The air began to thicken with magic. “What do you swear, and please be specific.”
I turned to look deep into Gwen’s eyes. “Gwen, once Karen is free from Khalid, you are free. I will never use your True Name again. If I break that promise, kill me. Put an aneurism in my head that’ll pop so hard, liquid brain comes out of my nose. And you won’t have to go into the boulder afterward. Okay?”
Gwen looked at me as though waiting for the other shoe to drop. Finally, she said, “I accept your terms.”
The press of magic vanished as Xi shrank back into his human form. “I also find your terms acceptable,” he said as he straightened his suit jacket.
This didn’t put me at ease. In fact, I was more suspicious than ever. “So now you and your kind have no reason to fuck with me or my friends because that donkey cock told me your sister’s True Name?”
Xi shrugged. “Sounds reasonable.”
I stuck out my hand. “So, do we have a deal?”
Before Xi could accept, Khalid stepped between us. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. There is only one thing you can offer me that would compel me to release Karen, especially since Karen has no desire to be free.”
Biker Fairy crossed his arms. “Would that one thing be me not breaking every bone in that body before we tear it off?”
“There is no need for violence, Prince Kailen. If this bloodsucker can prove capable of reason and mercy, I suppose I can do the same. I would at least like the opportunity to retain my relationship with the lovely Karen.”
“What do you propose?” Elder One said.
“This vampire cannot be trusted because his true desire is not to free Karen. His one and only desire is to become a Pure vampire. So, I offer that instead.” From the inner pocket of his suit jacket, Khalid pulled out a wide goblet. It was made of tarnished gold and studded with gems. “This is the Tepes chalice. I offer it, as well as the ritual to change him to a Pure vampire. I give it on the condition that once the ritual is finished, he will leave Karen in peace.”
Xi’s expression soured. “He has already struck a deal with me.”
“No deal has been struck at all. The choice is his. Karen or the chalice.” Khalid gave me a very cold look. “Of course, should he choose Karen, he will never exist in the same dimension as the chalice again. I propose that we make it a game.”
Khalid held out his other hand then opened his palm to reveal two small, silver coins. One had a female shape engraved on the surface, the other a chalice.
“I propose that the bloodsucker picks one token at random, and that will be the wish that is granted,” Khalid said.
I gave his offer some thought, as though I had a real choice. I didn’t doubt Khalid’s ability to take the chalice somewhere I’d never see it again. What would stop him from doing the same with Karen? At least, this way, I had a chance.
I stuck my hand toward Khalid. “Fine.”
Khalid snatched my fingers in his before the word was out of my mouth. He ground my knuckles together as thunder clapped overhead. “Outstanding,” Khalid said. “However, I don’t like these odds. Would anyone else like to get in on this?”
Motherfucker. “Wait, no way. That wasn’t part of the deal.”
“But it is,” Khalid said. “You will be granted one uncorrupted wish, to be chosen at random, and then you will only speak Gwen’s True Name under pain of death. There was never any specification as to how many choices you’d be given.”
Son of a bitch. I’d forgotten I was a vampire for a minute.
Biker Fairy tugged his beard in thought. “I offer the death of his worst enemy. I will deliver Nicholai Santos to him, to be dealt with as he sees fit.” He dropped an axe token into Khalid’s hand then took a step back.
Rhiannon was next. “I offer to create for his lost love, Justine, a new body. A living, breathing body that will last as long as he does.” She placed a gleaming silver heart in Khalid’s palm. I noticed him twitch his fingers to touch her hand.
“That is enough,” Xi said, apathetic.
The rest of the fairies murmured to each other as Gwen attached thin, transparent threads to each token. She looped each thread around one of my fingers then took my hand. She led me to a pool in front of the Elders. Without a word, she dropped the tokens into the black water.
“Pick a finger,” Khalid said when I continued to stand there. “Any finger.”
I gave him a murderous look then flipped him the bird. Unblinking, I pulled that thread from the pool, my throat growing dry. When the token broke the surface, my heart knocked against my ribcage. I’d had no idea how much I’d wanted this.
Khalid nodded once, then handed over the Tepes chalice.
Whew. Sorry for the long wait. As you can see, this chapter was super long, it had a lot going on, and everything on this end has been ker-ay-zee. Thanks for sticking with me for this long. If you like what you’ve read, please, click on the like and share buttons. In that one simple act, you’ll be helping me more than you can possibly know. I hope all of you have a safe, happy Thanksgiving! This year, on top of all the blessings I already have in my life, I’m grateful for all of you.