Fairy slayer, p.24

Fairy Slayer, page 24


Fairy Slayer

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  There was a screech behind me, and I spun around as the first creature charged at Ariette. I could still feel her blood, and I threw her body back into the forest.

  “Think fast, somebody!” Maaren called out as she swung her axe at the troll thing when it charged.

  From over our heads, the lion woman flew down on her powerful wings, and both Maaren and Ariette were forced to swing at the creatures to ward them off. Neither of them were able to make contact.

  I bit harshly at my lip as my mind spun a hundred miles an hour. I needed a solution. Something to counteract the monsters’ regenerative abilities.

  The barest hint of an idea started to take form, but I blurted it out before it could even finish.

  “Maaren, use your Hand!” I shouted to her as I ducked a lion paw.

  “That didn’t work--”

  “Just do it,” I commanded harshly.

  A gust of wind suddenly surrounded us as Maaren lifted her Hand with a grimace. It slowed down both creatures, and I seized the opportunity as I called on the troll’s blood with my Hand. As soon as the connection tingled, I willed every ounce to explode out of him.

  “Blow it away,” I yelled at Maaren as the troll’s silver blood started to recede into him. She understood my thought process and immediately swept her hand to her left. As she did, the wind blew the creature’s blood through the trees so that he wasn’t able to regenerate, and his bloodless body crashed to the ground.

  “That was brilliant, HC!” Ariette called as she swiped at the lion woman.

  The creature watched as the troll fell to the ground, and then it turned to flee, but as she did so, Maaren turned the wind on her, and I pulled the red blood from her body. As it blew into the trees, her body fell from the sky and crashed into the clearing.

  The wind died down, and the three of us took a collective breath. We watched for more creatures in the trees, but there were none.

  “Now that just isn’t fair!” Fernell called from the forest. I cupped my Hand, ready to kill him the moment I saw his milky eye.

  “Fernell, get out here!” I yelled into the trees. “Your beasts are dead. Come out now, and we’ll take you in. Don’t make us hunt you down.”

  The world went silent again. Then, slowly, we heard the sound of footsteps in the shadows of the trees. Still, I couldn’t see Fernell to connect with his blood.

  “They’re all dead,” his voice whispered from the forest. “You killed all of my creations.”

  “Those weren’t creations,” Ariette growled. “They were atrocities, and you’re a monster.”

  “Maybe so,” he replied, and I could imagine the sly shrug that came with it, “but at least I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.”

  With that, we heard the sound of his footsteps speed up as he took off running further into the forest. Immediately, the three of us sprinted after him into the dark trees.

  “Stay together!” I called to the warriors as we raced into the bruised impending dawn. My Fae hearing could pick up the sounds of the two women next to me and another set of footsteps about thirty feet ahead. I searched the dense foliage for any sign of him, but there was none.

  We dashed through the forest for what felt like hours but was probably only a few minutes. My face stung as I collided with the low-hanging branches of trees, but I ignored it.

  Fernell was surprisingly fast. Even with the extra weight on him, he outran us.

  I gritted my teeth and pushed myself faster, but then Maaren moved over next to me and spoke in a very low tone as we ran.

  “I’m going to get above the trees and try to see where he is,” she muttered.

  I nodded in response to her, and then she was suddenly gone. A moment later, I heard the rustle of leaves above me as she pulled herself up into the canopy.

  Ariette was a few feet to my left, and I watched as her head moved rapidly from side to side while she searched for the evil elf.

  “Fernell, I could do this all day,” she yelled into the foliage, but there was no response.

  Suddenly, we heard a yelp about twenty feet in front of us, and then the crack of multiple branches.

  “Let me go!” Fernell cried.

  Ariette and I rushed toward the noise and found Fernell flat against the trunk of a tree where huge gusts of wind kept him pinned.

  “What did you think you could gain from this?” Maaren asked with her Hand upraised and her face twisted into a scowl.

  Fernell simply shook his head and attempted to step toward her. The whistle of the wind grew louder as it pushed him back harder against the tree.

  “None of that matters now,” the elf said maniacally. “The discoveries I have made and the things that I have done are too much for your inconsequential little selves to understand. The greater good requires sacrifices, and I have made the greatest sacrifices of all. The guilds, the way this world works, the amount of entitlement that the Seelie have is disgusting.”

  “We are not entitled,” Ariette growled as she tightened her grip on her sword.

  Fernell looked at her calmly with his creepy dead eyes.

  “You’re not?” he smirked. “Your people have come in and taken from those that they deemed less than under the guise of being great and benevolent. I was simply trying to restore the balance.”

  Fernell looked between us before he let out a yell and began to pull himself off the tree once more. He was strong, but the hunter was stronger.

  Maaren stood in front of him with her face twisted in concentration. She didn’t see Fernell’s nasty grin as he raised his right hand slowly. A huge copper spike began to grow out of it, but I didn’t give him a chance to finish his task.

  Quickly, I connected with the rush of his blood. My Hand tingled as I felt the liquid pump through his veins, but I could tell there was a darkness in it. The rush of the liquid felt mechanical like there was no soul to it. The dark portals had sucked every ounce of spirit from him. I forced myself to ignore the odd feeling of Fernell’s blood and instead made it rush away from his heart and into his brain. Instantly, the evil elf’s eyes went wide, and his jaw fell open as he panicked, but it was too late. He struggled for a moment, but then his entire body went limp as he stroked out.

  The wind died down as soon as Fernell went still, and Maaren collapsed with the effort. Ariette and I rushed up to her side and helped her stand as she breathed heavily.

  “Thanks for that,” she said as she patted my chest in a daze.

  “Anytime,” I responded with a dry laugh as my heartbeat started to slow down.

  “Uh, guys,” Ariette said. Her voice shook, and her blue eyes were wide.

  My heart jumped back into my throat as Maaren and I turned to follow her gaze.

  Fernell slowly rose from the ground with a sickeningly malicious grin stretched across his face.

  “Did you really think I’d figure out how to imbue my creations with regeneration and not do it to myself?” he chuckled, and the sound was like gravel and broken glass.

  I tried to summon up my Hand again, but suddenly his right palm flew upwards, and a copper spike shot out of it and rocketed straight for my head. Thanks to my Fae reflexes, I was able to leap in opposite directions as the spike whistled over my head, but I came out of my barrel roll and caught sight of Fernell as he was about to run into the forest.

  “Asshole,” I snarled, and I extended my Hand and used his blood to snatch his body backward.

  Fernell slid across the grass and bared his teeth at me as he fired another copper spike at my face. I rolled out of the way again, and for a moment, all I heard was my heavy breathing.

  My arms were shaky as I tried to push myself off the ground, and I could feel the exhaustion from overusing my Hand start to hit me as I stumbled to my feet.

  Fernell rose at the same time I did, and copper spikes flew in rapid succession at my head. I crouched, rolled, and dodged as the projectiles whistled past me, but I wasn’t able to connect with his blood because I kept having
to jump out of the way.

  “I have to say, Milton, I didn’t expect you to do this well. You’re proving to be a great test subject.” Fernell launched another volley of spikes that forced me to throw myself behind a tree for cover. “How about we kick it up a notch?”

  As he spoke, the bastard hurled another spike that tore through the tree and gouged the skin off my cheek.

  “Bastard,” I growled as I lifted a hand to touch the injury, and my fingertips came away red. I had half a second to stare at my bloody fingertips before I saw a flash of lightning to my left.

  “Now, now, Ariette. You’ll have a chance soon enough.” I heard spikes launch into the distance. “There, run away like a good girl.” He laughed. “Now, Milton, where were we? Oh, yes. You were about to die horrifically.”

  I threw myself to the side as his spikes tore through the tree. A horrific crack rang out through the air an instant before the thing crashed onto the ground beside me.

  “Seems this is all you have, Milton,” Fernell said as he came toward me, and as he did, I raised my hand and connected with his blood.

  I half expected him not to care, but instead, his eyes went wide, and he threw himself behind a bunch of bushes while launching another volley of spikes at me that caused me to break my connection with his blood.

  “Fuck!” I cried as I scrambled to my feet and raced after him.

  As I reached the bushes where Fernell had been waiting, he shot a spike at my head, and I leapt backward.

  “I’ve got him!” Maaren called, and one more spike flew toward my head. As I rolled sideways to avoid it, I realized there weren’t any more to dodge.

  I snapped my head up and saw that Maaren had Fernell’s hand stuck in what looked like a mini tornado, and her face was twisted in concentration as she extended her arms out toward him.

  Fernell struggled against her power, and I watched as the veins in his neck bulged with the effort.

  “Gotcha,” I spat. I connected with his blood more easily now that I could focus, and I forced myself to get past the slimy feeling of it.

  “I can’t hold him much longer, so if you have a plan, do it now!” Maaren cried as her arms began to shake.

  “Ariette, same thing as with Durn,” I called quickly as I readied myself.

  The elf just nodded as she came over to my side.

  I willed my body to overcome the exhaustion that had begun to take over, and then I summoned my last ounce of strength to call on Fernell’s blood and rip it from his body.

  The elf’s chest exploded into an array of blackened blood and discolored guts as the liquid left his body. His eyes went wide, and he let out a squeak of shock as he tried to wrap his arms around himself like that would keep his guts in.

  Ariette’s face twisted into a silent snarl, and then a bolt of lightning shot from her hand, and the liquid that had exited Fernell evaporated instantly. It left behind a nasty smoky odor that smelled like dirty socks and rotten eggs.

  Then, as Fernell’s body collapsed lifelessly to the ground and Maaren released her hold on him, Ariette held out her hand and unleashed enough lightning to turn the scientist into a smudge.

  “For good measure,” the elf replied with a nod of finality as we gazed at the smokey tendrils.

  Silence descended on the clearing, and then a sort of hysterical laugh bubbled up from my lips. Holy shit. We had actually done it.

  “Geez, that dude was crazy,” I said as I looked down at the charred spot where Fernell had been. “I might have gotten a little carried away though. We could have maybe made him talk. But…”

  “But what?” Maaren asked as she tilted her head and gazed up at me.

  “But he was threatening my friends,” I replied as I rubbed the back of my neck. “I couldn’t stand that.”

  The Unseelie huntress grinned up at me and giggled. “My hero.”

  My cheeks flushed with warmth, but then I was distracted when Ariette went over to the scorched earth where the scientist had once stood and ground it away with her heel.

  “Take that, you freak,” she said decisively.

  “Hey, uh, I think he’s already dead,” I joked to lighten her mood. She sighed and looked over at me.

  “Sorry, temper,” the elf shrugged, “besides, he deserved it.”

  “Yeah, I suppose he did,” I replied as I turned around and surveyed our surroundings. The sun lit up the tops of the trees now, and shafts of golden light broke through the dense canopy of leaves about us. We were smack in the middle of a forest with no map.

  “So, anybody know where we are?” I asked the two women.

  They shook their heads as they looked around too.

  “The lab is east,” Maaren said after a moment, “but I don’t know how far east. The comms units have a range of a mile, so we’re at least beyond that.”

  “How do you know it’s east?” Ariette questioned. There was no judgment in her voice, just genuine curiosity.

  “Hunter,” Maaren pointed at herself. “I have a really good sense of direction.”

  “Well, then, let’s start heading east,” I announced.

  We trekked back through the trees in silence for a few minutes before we got back to the clearing. The bodies of the beasts still lay there. They weren’t exactly Fae so their bodies would remain until the wild animals got to them, too.

  “Hold on,” Maaren said when we approached the two beasts. She pulled out a tiny bag from a pocket on her pants and went over to the lion woman first. The half-Fae grabbed onto a strand of red hair and yanked it from her head before she put it into the bag. The hunter then repeated the same process for the other monster but took the hair from inside its nose since it was completely bald.

  “Good idea,” Ariette said when Maaren finished, “we’ll want to analyze their DNA.”

  “I have a pretty good idea of what that one is,” I said as I motioned toward the dead lion woman.

  “Yeah, I thought she looked a lot like the girl from the cage,” Ariette responded sadly.

  I nodded grimly and turned on my heel to continue out of the forest.

  After we walked for another three minutes, the comms unit in my ear crackled to life. All three of us jumped.

  “Kal?” Ariette questioned with a tilt of her head.

  “Oh my God, you guys,” came the dwarf’s panicked response. “What the hell happened? Where are you? Who was at the trap door? What happened to your comms? You guys went offline, and I was like ‘oh shit, that’s not good,’ but then the movement at the trap door just stopped, and it didn’t come back, so I thought you guys were--”

  “Kalista!” I shouted to stop her as she rambled on.

  “Yeah,” she responded, and then I heard her take a deep breath in and let it out slowly.

  “Uh, are you guys out?” I questioned with a laugh.

  “Oh, oh yeah,” the dwarf replied quickly. “I called Danira and Hasen to let them know what’s going on. Hasen sent a black ops team here, and they’re extracting all the prisoners. I’m waiting for you at the van.”

  “We don’t exactly know where we are, Kal,” Ariette said as she looked around at the bright forest. Now that the sun had fully risen, the leaves on the trees shone a brilliant mix of greens and golds.

  “Let me track you, hold on,” Kalista said, and the sounds of the keyboard came through the comms unit. “Okay, just go straight. I’ll get them to bring the van to you guys.”

  We did as she requested and walked for another two minutes before we hit the edge of the forest. I could see the blurred gray of the lab building about half of a mile away, and then I spotted a clean white van that was decidedly not the Van of Death as it barreled through the field toward us. As soon as it pulled to a stop, Kalista ran out of the vehicle and waved her arms in the air as if she was afraid we wouldn’t be able to see her.

  “Holy shit, you guys,” the dwarf said breathlessly as she reached us. “This is like, top two for crazy missions. Fucking experiments. Experiments!”
  “I think this beats them all for length, honestly,” Ariette said with a sigh.

  “Well, yeah, that’s because it started yesterday,” Kalista responded with a cocked hip. “So what happened?”

  “Kal, you need to call Danira and let her know we killed Fernell Tamber,” Ariette said seriously.

  Kalista’s eyes went wide before she swung around to one of the younger elves that had come with her in the van.

  “Call the commander,” the dwarf barked in the elf’s direction. “Tell her the responsible party was apprehended and eliminated.”

  The young elf nodded and swung up into the front part of the van to pick up her communication device, and Kalista turned back to us with excitement in her eyes.

  “Details!” she exclaimed.

  “Let’s get in the van first,” I laughed. “I need to sit the hell down.”

  “Oh, right, right,” the dwarf nodded, and then she flung open the side door.

  Chapter 19

  Once we got inside the van, Ariette collapsed into the nearest chair.

  “Thank God you’re not driving, Kal, maybe I can actually get some sleep,” she said as she flung one arm over her eyes.

  “Uh-uh,” Kalista said loudly, “you are going to tell me everything!”

  The dwarf strode over to Ariette and pulled her arm off her face as she ignored the elf’s protests and moans.

  “Maybe not here,” I said quietly, so only Kalista, Ariette, and Maaren could hear. I knew these were Hasen’s men, but I didn’t want to give mission details to anyone but Danira and the guild master.

  Maaren backed me up with a solid nod.

  “We should probably be in private,” she whispered. One of the three soldiers looked up at us curiously, and Maaren cleared her throat. “You know, because of all the lady stuff I have to tell you.”

  Maaren even added a wink and a little giggle in Kalista’s direction, and the soldier instantly snapped his head back down. I saw him give me a glance from under his lowered eyelids, and I caught a glimpse of awe in his expression. I hid a chuckle behind my hand and tilted my head toward the ceiling.

  The van pulled to a stop as I was lost in thought, and Kalista kicked me with her foot to get me up.

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