venin assassin 03 - black shadow, p.6Gena D. Lutz
He stepped away from my finger in his face and inclined his neck. “Forgive me.”
My gut twisted. I mean, I couldn’t blame him for being a bit irritable: I had threatened to cut off his balls. “It’s okay. Just please, let me handle this.”
Edge loomed over me, all six feet and four inches of him. He wore a hesitant expression as his brown gaze moved to the mirror on the wall. “Are you sure?”
“She won’t be coming back,” I said. “Not anytime soon, anyways.” Whatever venin-voodoo I launched at her squarely hit its mark. I could tell she was wounded. A feat that was impressive, considering how untouchable Tatiana was rumored to be.
He stared down at me. “I want to help save my pack, so I’ll keep my opinions to myself, for now.”
I nodded, knowing that was about as good as it gets with Edge.
“How long do you think we have to save them?”
His answer was quick. “Less than an hour.”
“Well, let’s not waste any more time then.”
Edge nodded once, and his gaze went past me, widened. Carefulness smoothed his features.
Kismet cleared her throat, loud and melodious.
I twisted my neck in time to watch her tiny silver wings furiously beat as she flew down from her high perch, landing on my shoulder.
My eyes widened and my body froze. I was scared to even breathe for fear of chasing her away again.
“I overheard you say something about needing my help?” she whispered into my ear.
From the kitchen came a howl of outrage. Seconds later, two fully-shifted werewolves barreled into the room. Both of them were covered in glittery clear goo. I stifled a laugh. They looked as though a unicorn had run up and sneezed all over them.
They both shifted into human form in the middle of the room. Half the blob fell to the hardwood floor; the rest of the goo remained as a glistening coat over their bodies.
Lucky for me, after agreeing to help open a new fairy path, Kismet had flown off to find the perfect spot within the fairy forest I’d created, or the werewolves’ abrupt entrance would have scared her right back into the bookshelves.
“What happened to you?” I asked, still holding the laugh.
Arbor glanced at me, and I was surprised to see him trying to push back a grin. “I do believe, Cassis, that we had the misfortune of running into a fairy.” He shook his head and, using his hands, began to scrape the slime from his eight-pack abs and muscled legs. “You could have warned us about her.”
“Yeah, it would have saved us a lot of embarrassment,” Jesse added.
I looked down to cover my amusement, and when I looked back up, I had my face under control. “Believe me, I would have, but Kismet is a new addition to the court. She’s our first full-blood fairy, in fact.”
Arbor smiled and gestured over his body. “She’s skittish, that one. She blasted us with some kind of slime, just for running up on her unannounced.”
My eyes went wide. “You didn’t hurt her, did you?”
“Are you kidding me? It took us over ten minutes of gnawing, clawing, and rolling into trees to free ourselves from her fairy-blob. We couldn’t chase after her even if we’d wanted to, which we didn’t, mind you. Our wolves were just curious about a new creature wandering through the forest and wanted to investigate,” Jesse explained.
I walked toward them with my dagger shifting at my waist and my hair falling into my face. The feeling of the lone weapon at my hip reminded me that I needed to make a pit stop at my room so I could arm myself with the rune-gun and a few other items that would protect me from any stray Fae who tried to breach the fairy path I was about to create.
I placed my hand on Jesse’s shoulder and said, “I have some very important business to attend to, so I’ll be back shortly. Meanwhile, feel free to raid the laundry room for some clean clothes and the pantry for some food.” I leaned in and whispered the next part into her ear. “Stay far, far away from the double doors down the hall from the laundry. That’s Toni’s domain, and if you mess with her stuff, a fairy-snot-bomb will be the least of your worries.”
She pulled back and gestured over the length of her body with her dripping hands. “What could possibly be worse than this?”
I stared into her appalled expression. “Trust me, you’re better off just staying far away from her. Oh, and this is very important.” Jesse listened carefully, her head inclining in my direction. “If she deigns to clean up after you, or if she feeds you, make damn sure to leave her a gift for her troubles.”
Her brows scrunched together. “Why would I do that?”
I shook my head. “Just heed my warning, she-wolf, and everything should be fine.”
A flickering light caused Jesse’s emerald eyes to sparkle like a jewel. I turned and looked outside the window, surprised to spot Kismet hovering in front of the panes, her body incandescent silver. She was waving for me to follow her.
I smiled at her. She looked happy, a far cry from the state she was in just twenty minutes earlier. I felt a stirring of hopefulness from her as well. As if she’d decided that my court wasn’t so bad after all. I nodded at the wolves and Edge, who had been standing off to the side waiting for my next move without his normal interference. I gestured for him to follow me out the door, and he did so without hesitation. For a moment, I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed to whoever was listening that I would be able to build the fairy path in time to save my hounds.
“Are you ready?” Edge asked shutting the door behind us.
I nodded, moving toward the hall that led to the kitchen. “I won’t rest until my hounds are safe.”
He gave me a side-glance, his eyes filled with pride and conviction. “I believe in you, my queen.”
I reached over and squeezed his hand, hoping beyond hope that I could live up to such trust.
I stood at the opening of a meadow under a canopy of autumn-painted leaves. Green grass rolled over the hills; white and yellow flowers dotted the landscape. Kismet flew several feet in the air just ahead of Edge and me, her radiant wings beating, arms stretched out, guiding us to a spot that she assured could sustain the verdant power of a fairy path.
Edge glanced at me. “The Seelie Court in Fairy won’t take too kind to what we’re about to do. It goes against the Sidhe rules.”
It had been a while since I’d heard the Fae referred to as Sidhe. It was such an ancient moniker and used only in the direst of circumstances.
I stared into Edge’s dark eyes. At times they seemed infinite, not a drop of humanity within them. This time, they were full of desperation. “It’s the only way,” I explained.
We made our way across the meadow, with its floral fragrances and a cool breeze lifting my hair. It was the first real stroll I’d taken inside the fairy forest, and it felt magical.
Edge began shoving through a line of bushes full of lavender flowers. I followed him into the thicket, walking at his back until I stood in the center of a ring of bleach-white mushrooms that spanned six feet in diameter.
I felt more than I heard Kismet as her wings beat rapidly next to my ear. “Here is where your path will flourish.”
I blinked at the fairy. “I don’t get it. Where’s the opening?”
Edge walked over to a tall, thickly trunked tree with a large crack down the length of it. He stepped inside the opening until it swallowed him up, and a second later, he reappeared. “Will this do?” he asked.
Kismet fluttered her wings until her bare feet landed on the palm of my outstretched hand. Her flesh, a sheen of white that glistened like a polished diamond, smooth as silk and as warm as heated honey, rested upon my index finger, sending a pulse of power into my flesh and throughout my veins. The blood and magic mixed in such a way that it made my own skin glow almost as magnificently as the fairy’s. The vision hit me like an ocean tide pushing sand upon the shore. Kismet and her power had opened my mind to the
“I can see many strings, which one should I pull?”
“That is your question to answer, queen. My purpose here has already been achieved,” Kismet answered.
I stood there, a fairy in one hand, my other in a fist at my side. “But I don’t understand how…”
Edge walked up beside me, stopping just at the border of the fairy circle. “No more thought, Cassis. Feel your way to the right path.”
I hesitated, then wrapped my energy around the hundreds of threads hovering in front of me. I began to manipulate and sort each strand as though my brain were a loom. The entire process only I could see; anyone watching would just assume I was meditating or partaking in some other mundane act. Suddenly, one single thread flared a brilliant whiteness that left me with the understanding that I had found what I was looking for. My pulse thrummed wild in my throat. I didn’t know how my mother formed her creations, but I only knew one way to build mine, and that was by taking a thread and spinning a progressive web of light. My style made sense to me. After all, I was a spider venin first and foremost.
The air around me chilled. I licked my cool lips and whispered, “It is done.”
A luminous shape rose from my outstretched hands, cold and unsteady. After settling both of my hands around it, I began to spin, shape, and mold the light like it was putty, rotating it until a large ball formed. Once I felt the magic was ready, I reared an arm back and tossed the glowing orb into the tree. If all went as planned, a mystical restructuring would take place, changing the void within the tree trunk into a porthole to another world.
I took a deep, anxious breath, holding it, and hoped like hell I’d put the path together correctly.
Without warning, I swayed slightly, and my arms flayed through open air in search of support. Instantly, Edge was at my side, lifting me, stopping me from falling. He smelled of a warm sunny day, oak trees, and home. I placed a shaky hand on his upper body for support, focused on the rise and fall of his chest, and whispered, “I’m fine. Just a little lightheaded from such an abundant release of magic.”
There was an exasperated breath from above my head. “You’ve done enough. Let me get you back to the house.”
I shook my head and tried to stand straight. “Time is running out. My hounds need me. I can feel their life-energy waning.”
Another voice said, “I can help her.”
“What can you possibly do for her?” I heard Edge ask.
The next thing I knew, I had a four-and-a-half-foot fairy in humanoid form standing before me. Her white hair was longer in this state, endless waves rolling down her back until the ends of it curled at the back of her knees.
Kismet took a deep breath, raised her chin, and looked over my head into Edge’s eyes. “You ask too many questions, hound.” Her honey-colored eyebrows pulled together. “But since you have been kind enough to not eat me, I will answer you. I am from Oberon’s blood line. Therefore, I am quite capable of helping her.” She settled both of her tiny hands over my temples. “Be still, Cassis.”
What happened next could only be described as pure hell. Every nerve ending in my brain sparked as if set on fire. Hand, neck, leg, and stomach spasms took over my entire body until I thought I would crumple to the ground and piss myself. My heart wasn’t even beating anymore. It thrummed like a hummingbird’s wings on crack. Everything around me lost meaning. Time, smell, taste, feeling… all of it was useless. The only thing that existed was the power coursing throughout my body like a speeding locomotive—and that was only the beginning.
My consciousness rode a gentle, cooling tide to escape the darkness.
I was sitting against the tree that now served as the fairy path into the fringe, and subsequently, Fairyland. I cracked open my lids. The scene playing out before me was murky… two figures hopping around like bunnies. One of the bunnies was quite large, and the other small, but quick as lightening. I blinked several times until the blur turned into stark relief.
“What the hell are you two doing?” I screamed.
I was getting pretty tired of surprises. Astonishingly enough, waking up with chunks of bark digging into my spine was the least shocking of them all.
Edge as hellhound, his form massive, muscles bulging under jet-black fur, paced and lunged at Kismet who was flying in the air, her grin vicious, both growling and yelling at one another. The fairy, taking it a step further, launched glittery blob grenades at Edge.
Well, I had news for them both: they could kill each other for all I cared, I had friends to save.
I jumped nimbly to my feet and paused. I could tell that all my power had returned… and then some. As a matter of fact, I felt like a fucking million bucks. I checked my body in all the right spots, making sure I was armed to the teeth with weapons. My hand slid over the rune-gun at my hip, making the pads at the tip of my fingers tingle warm and secure. Then, without another word, I turned and strode inside the tree trunk.
Edge must’ve come to his senses and shifted back to human form because he yelled, “Cassis! Wait!”
I ignored him and walked into the dark void before me. My lungs constricted, my eyes burned, and my vision clouded over with moisture from the cloying pressure inside the fringe.
I took a deep breath, my lungs quickly filling with smoke that tasted of saffron and mint. Somehow, I still managed to yell, “Ryder! Syn! Blaze! Where are you?”
Laughter floated around me, dots of red light swarming until my vision cleared enough for me to move forward at a snail’s pace, which finally led to an area free of smoke and that cloying smell that always reminded me of the faeblood. I paused and looked around at what amounted to a bunch of nothing—two walls of red smoke and an endless path in between. How in the world was I supposed to find my friends if I couldn’t even make out what direction to go… forward or back? Everything looked the same. The one thing I was certain of was that if I went right, I would end up back in my fairy forest, if I veered left, Fairyland. In front of me, white lights strobed in the smoke, catching my eye and my instincts. The guys were in that direction, I just knew it. Everything I was urged me to follow those lights, so I did.
I jogged for about five minutes, my boots disappearing in ankle-high smoke, my heartbeat even, mind focused on the hounds. I could tell I was getting close; their individual signatures coated my tongue with the flavor of their essence.
As if in answer to my hunch, a loud howl cried out, and growls loud enough to make waves in the fog reached me.
“I’m here,” was all I could think to say as I approached a dark, dank, area of the fringe.
“Stay back!” Blaze roared.
I couldn’t see him, but I knew his voice and that he was terrified for me. I stopped dead in my tracks. My once even, calm disposition turned frantic, and I found my mind racing with horrible scenarios. Why would Blaze stop me when he obviously needed help? And what was inside that darkness that could scare one of the fiercest beasts I’d ever encountered?
I swallowed hard. “I can’t just stand here and do nothing.”
A moan slipped out of the blackness.
I ran forward… right into a wall. The impact wasn’t hard. In fact, the wall moved with my body, and after it was all over, I didn’t fall to the ground. I was trapped. I tried to kick my legs and stretch my arms but could only move them by inches. What was most terrifying was the fact that the more I tried to move, the less I could.
“You smell familiar. Have we met before?”
My skin itched against the sticky threads that made up the gigantic cobweb I was tangled in, and my flesh pimpled at the sickly-sweet sound coming from the voice it belonged to.
Low growls from my hounds rose from the darkness, not too far from where I was str
Something humanoid and petite skittered across the far end of the web. I only caught a small glimpse of her—long dark hair, dark eyes that somehow gleamed in the darkness, and snowy-white flesh.
“Come out so I can tell for sure,” I replied.
“You know not of what you ask, fly,” the disembodied voice taunted, then chuckled like every other villain would when under the belief of having the upper hand.
I wiggled, testing the true strength of the web.
“Escape is futile. You are well and truly caught, but by all means, knock yourself out.”
“You can cut out the theatrics, spider. I am not scared of you. And I am far from being a fly caught in your web.”
The hair at the back of my neck rose. At least I hoped I could free myself from her web.
I wiggled my wrist enough to turn and hold it upright. After minimal effort, I began to spin a web of my very own using threads of light that gathered by the second in my palm. The threads reached out and quickly blanketed the web, superimposing itself over the one I was trapped within. Next, I sent out a mental command to my snare, making the magic dissolve anything in its path that wasn’t living… and luckily, it worked like a charm.
Smiling, my boots hit the ground, and I moved off to the side. Brandishing my rune-gun, I waited within several calm moments for even a peep from the spider so when it came time, I could shoot her. I brought up the image of fire in my mind.
A clicking noise filled the space, echoing.
I slowly moved the muzzle, following the sound as it got closer. “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” I half mumbled, half sang with forced confidence.
The phantom voice repositioned. “You are very powerful. And brave.”
I adjusted my aim accordingly. “Jesus,” I said. “Save the fucking flattery, okay, and show yourself so I can get on with my day.”
I saw her hand first, just a second too late. From her fingertips, a flash of light discharged. I couldn’t move my trigger finger in time, and with a zapping pain and an impact that probably cracked my wrist, my hand and gun went flying back, slamming against the fog wall behind me. The gun dropped from my hand, clattering on the floor next to my boots.
venin assassin 03 - black shadow by Gena D. Lutz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes