*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 3
Biker Fairy jerked hard on Aliese the Whore’s chain. She tripped, falling to her hands and knees at the base of the Elders’ thrones.
“Speak, ifrit,” Elder Two said. “Tell us of your relationship with Lord Khalid.”
Aliese the Whore got to her feet with difficulty. “I have served my lord faithfully, and in all ways, since before humankind harnessed the power of fire.” Her voice slurred, because it’s hard to speak with a broken jaw. “I have been loyal to him as no other woman has. Yet, here I am.”
Khalid didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed.
“Did you bear witness to the crime of which your lord stands accused?” Elder Three said.
Aliese the Whore shook her head at the unfairness of it all. “I did.”
Elder One, at least, seemed sympathetic. “Tell us, then, of what transpired, and spare no detail.”
Aliese the Whore’s breath wheezed through her crooked nose as she fought tears. “My lord commanded that I should come along to collect his necromancer from that bloodsucker. He worried the Princess of the Mists would collect herself and rightly seek revenge. He wanted his property secured before that happened.”
“This seems a simple enough task,” Elder Two said with a frown. “Did you not question why your master would require your presence on such a menial errand?”
“I don’t make a habit of questioning my lord’s orders. Besides…” Aliese the Whore bowed her head. “I know now why he wanted me there.”
“And why is that?” Xi said with smug satisfaction. I could tell that he already knew the answer, but wanted it stated for the record.
Aliese the Whore closed her eyes. “Because the only other witness was the bloodsucker.”
I laughed once in the back of my throat. People wonder why vampires hate demons.
Xi began to circle Aliese the Whore. Even hobbled, she turned to keep him in her line of sight. “Therefore, do you believe it was his intent to reveal my sister’s True Name in your presence all along, regardless of what that meant for you?”
Tears glistened in her eyes. “I do.”
“And did your master reveal my sister’s True Name in your presence?”
“Were there any other witnesses to the crime, beside the vampire?” Elder Three said.
Aliese the Whore lifted her shoulders with a tired sigh. “There was the necromancer and a revenant.”
The Elders considered one another. “Should we bring them here?” Elder One said.
Elder Two shook its head. “Revenants are dangerous and unpredictable. It would be folly to bring such an abomination to this place.”
Elder Three stroked its chin. “I know of this revenant. She was a respected witch, in her time. That which reanimates her now is her burning need for revenge. It will not occur to her to use her knowledge of the Princess of the Mists’ True Name to exploit her powers.”
Elder One nodded in agreement. “Once her bloodlust has been sated, she will pass from this world.”
“Then it is agreed,” Elder Two said. “The problem will resolve itself.”
“But the necromancer may speak the princess’s True Name,” Elder Three said. “She should be here.”
I felt a stab of panic. “No!” I wasn’t supposed to speak, but it burst out of me. “No, Karen didn’t hear anything. She was unconscious.” Nik held out his arm when I took a step toward Khalid. “Tell them you had Karen knocked out, and that she couldn’t have heard you say Gwen’s True Name. Tell them!”
Khalid’s lips curled, but he said, “It’s true. I’d placed Karen in a deep slumber to ease her extraction from this bloodsucker’s custody. She heard nothing. I swear it on the sand.”
This pacified the fairies for some reason. They’re so fucking weird.
The Elders turned their attention back to Aliese the Whore. “Continue,” Elder Three said.
Aliese the Whore seemed reluctant, but said, “The vampire was unwilling to let my lord leave with his rightful property. Of course, he was powerless against my lord’s might. In true vampire fashion, he threatened to take his revenge against one that my lord held dear.”
Xi interrupted again. “So, it is your testimony that your lord not only revealed my sister’s True Name. He did so to a vampire that had explicitly threatened her life?”
Aliese the Whore bit her bottom lip. “Yes.”
This sparked another titter of outrage from the fairies.
“And now, the proof,” Elder One said. “Alga, the All-knowing, step forward.”
An ancient, hunched creature shuffled out of the crowd. She had stringy grey hair that looked as though it had never been washed. Her face was a mass of wrinkles and folds, but she had no mouth, nose, or eyes. What she had were giant ears that took up both sides of her head. Her earlobes dragged along the ground as she leaned on her walking stick.
Elder Two spoke. “Ifrit, in the softest whisper you can manage, speak the Princess of the Mist’s True Name.”
Aliese the Whore cast a worried look at Khalid, but he gave her a nod. She closed her eyes, pained, then leaned forward to whisper into Alga’s ear. Alga covered her face with her knotted hands, then her shoulders began to shake. Two more weirdos stepped out of the crowd. They allowed her to lean on them for support as they practically carried her away.
Elder Three shook its head. “And so it has been proven. Lord Khalid of the Shaytan Djinn, do you have anything to say in your own defense?”
“No. However, I would like to know when Gwen and I are to be married. I’d prefer the wedding take place as soon as possible.”
This was met with dead silence. The sheer massiveness of Khalid’s balls shocked everyone.
“I will never marry you!” Gwen screeched. “Ever! I hate you. I hate everything about you. I hate the sight of you. I hate the sound of your voice. The thought of you touching me makes me want to vomit. If I knew your True Name, I would broadcast it to the whole of China, in the hopes they would command your festering spirit into a rabid dog to be eaten alive by maggots until the end of time.”
This was an impressive level of hate, but Khalid took it in stride. “You have the right to your anger, and your grief, my love,” he said without a trace of irony. “I know that you believe I have committed a heinous crime against you. That the damage is irreparable and unforgivable.”
Xi looked at Khalid as though questioning his sanity. “And how do you deem the crime you have committed against her?”
“As a brutal necessity to free my beloved from bondage. I was successful in doing what needed to be done when her cowardly, sanctimonious siblings fought to do the exact opposite. She has been a slave for so long that she has forgotten what it is to be free. In time, she will forgive me.”
Gwen spat at him. “Never.”
Khalid’s tone grew more solemn, more determined. “You will love me again. I swear it.”
Gwen shook her head in disgust as she looked away.
“You speak as though we would allow you to occupy the same hemisphere as our sister ever again,” Xi said.
Khalid’s eyes began to burn. “Allow? Her hand was promised to me by your father, a contract he has never revoked. The Elders’ decreed that Gwen be punished, but that punishment has reached its natural end.”
Quick Brother laughed in disbelief. “Murder is natural, Infernal one?”
Khalid didn’t blink. “Prince Elrich, there is nothing in the universe more natural than murder.”
Biker Fairy snorted. “You’re daft if you think our father would uphold any contract with you after what you’ve done.”
“Perhaps you don’t know your father as well as you would like to believe.”
The goblin brother—the smart one?—reeled. “And now you have the brazen audacity to imply that you know our father better than we do?”
“History has demonstrated that I have far more in common with your father than any of you ever have. Do you think he will side with you after you took his wife away from him a piece at a time? If you are so sure that he wouldn’t uphold his contract with me, then perhaps we should wake him and have him weigh in on these proceedings.”
No one seemed to like that idea, not even Xi and his siblings.
“Lord Khalid,” Elder One said in a soothing tone, “the legitimacy of your claims are not without merit, but that is a matter for another day. Regardless of your motives, there is no justification for what you have done. Our course is clear.”
“The Seven demand his head,” Xi said without hesitation.
Khalid didn’t flinch. “And I would gladly give it, as husband to your precious sister, and brother-in-law to the rest of you.”
“We’d prefer it on a spike,” Quick Brother said.
Nik nodded. “To roast in the sun.”
Khalid raised his hands. “Brothers-to-be, no one understands the need for immediate, visceral revenge more than I do, but I fear you are being shortsighted. My contract is with your father, and not any of you. Prince Xivinaxus, you speak for your siblings, but not for Vesuvius. To make such a decision without his counsel, you risk incurring his wrath.”
“Agreed,” all three Elders said in unison.
Xi’s jaw bulged as he glared at Khalid, then he spun to face the Elders. “So be it. If I can’t have his life, then I will have his livelihood. Everything that he has of value must be stripped from him. His property, his wealth, his servants, his slaves, his title, and his rank in the Shaytan Djinn army. I will take the very skin from his back, forfeited to my sister in the first of many tributes he will make to her in amends.”
Khalid tilted his head. “That seems a bit extreme.”
“Djinn, I have only just begun to make your life unbearable,” Xi said.
“But…how will I give your sister countless hours of physical pleasure without a body?”
“Goddamn!” I said. Again, I couldn’t help myself. That was the most magnificent burn I’d ever heard.
“Well?” Xi said, his hands fisted at his sides. “How do the Elders decree?”
The Elders looked at one another for a few seconds, then Elder Two spoke. “The law is clear. For the crime of revealing the Princess’s True Name to a mortal—a vampire, no less—Lord Khalid’s life as he has known it is forfeit. Circumstances being what they are, execution is not an option, therefore Prince Xivinaxus’ alternative is acceptable. All of Lord Khalid’s wealth and property is hereby transferred to the youngest of the Seven.”
Xi smirked. “And so you have nothing, djinn. My sister’s engagement was to a general. You are now lower than the slaves that muck your stables. Do you think my father will still give her to you?”
Khalid made an indifferent gesture. He must be awesome at poker. “There is nothing I have lost that cannot be regained. Armies can be raised, fortresses built, fortunes accrued. Any price I have to pay is small, if my beloved’s freedom is the reward.”
Xi had nothing to say to that. The Elders nodded once, then Biker Fairy began to undo Aliese the Whore’s shackles.
Aliese the Whore stared at Khalid with obvious betrayal. “Did you ever truly love me?”
Khalid looked her straight in the eye. “There were times when I almost believed that I might. I always came to my senses quickly.”
Aliese the Whore’s chains fell. I had just enough time to think that she had a lot of healing to do before she could be pimped out again, then Xi burst out of his suit. The crowd surged back to make room for the colossal snake he had become. In the blink of an eye, he swallowed Aliese whole. The bulge slid down Xi’s throat, stretching his body as it twitched in pathetic struggle. There was a sickening crackle, then the lump disappeared.
I knew nothing about fairies or their anatomy, yet I understood what had happened. What little power Aliese the Whore had would be digested and absorbed, the rest shat out and forgotten. She had never mattered to anyone. She may as well have never existed. The worst she could do to Xi was give him syphilis.
I didn’t have time to catch my breath before Xi swung his enormous head toward me.