Corbin shook his head, his jaw tightening. “They can’t, normally. Something truly f**ked-up was going on with this Kiss, though I can’t say for sure just what. I’m determined to find out, though. If not tonight, then tomorrow.”

He looked at me as he spoke, and I nodded at him. I believed him, and I wanted him to find those answers. Those vampires being something other than the mindless killing machines I was used to had been disconcerting, to say the least.

We made our way downstairs, taking out another five vamps in a closet of a room. They cowered all the while, one of them sobbing almost like a human as it begged for it’s end, and Corbin grimaced even as he turned them to dust. “Something is very wrong here,” he said. I agreed wholeheartedly.

Christian was still fighting in the first room when we joined him. Ten lay headless on the ground, and he was actively fighting one, with two more cowering in the corner. He took it’s head as we entered the room, as though he’d just been toying with it. Perverse bastard probably had been.

Christian pointed to the two vamps cowering in the corner, looking almost angry. “Those things begged me not to hurt them, and didn’t attack. Make fun of me all you want, but I don’t have it in me to kill something that pathetic.”

I raised my hands, giving him a look. I hadn’t been about to make fun of him. Not for that, anyways.

Corbin just nodded, approaching the two vamps. “That’s fine. I have it from here.” He knelt down near them, holding out a hand. He whispered to them, sounding reassuring. “I’ll end your suffering,” he told them.

I watched, fascinated, as one of them actually reached out and clutched his hand. Corbin chanted softly, and the creature went slack. It didn’t even twitch when he staked it. The other vamp didn’t hesitate to take his hand when he reached out again.

The house was completely clean of vampires when we headed out.

Our misfit crew was waiting outside, looking anxious and tense, as though expecting ravenous vampires to break out of the house at any second. We got a lot of relieved looks when they saw that it was us.

“The house is cleared,” Corbin told them, and that was all.

We didn’t tell them about the strange, depressing vampires we’d encountered. I don’t think any of us were anywhere near approaching proud of the slaughter.

I advanced silently to the next house, wanting to move on from that strange ordeal, Christian a silent presence at my back. Our ragtag crew followed.

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

Best Friend/Arch Nemesis

 We were fortunate to have a necromancer with us. Their magic had almost no use against the living, but they had a special affinity for the dead. Gretchen was able to sense a necro presence from small distances. Which was particularly useful here since she could give us a sense of what we were walking into with each building we came to.

She froze as we approached one of the larger buildings. “This one is swarming with them.” Her voice was hushed with fear. “We’re going to need a lot more backup. This building must have many underground levels. I can feel thousands of them.”

“All in this one building?” I asked her.

She nodded. “I sense heavy movement in there. I think it is some sort of escape route they’re using.”

Christian cursed. “We’re almost out of TNT. And nothing I brought is big enough to take out that many of them.”

“Back up a little. There’s something I can try,” I told our small group. Christian raised a brow at me, but they all backed away.

I approached the structure cautiously. I placed my hand on the wall, concentrating. I paced back to my group, speaking to the necromancer. “Can you bind the door against them? Keep them from getting out?” My knowledge of necromancy was negligible, but I could remember that they had some spells for binding the dead to a location.

She bit her lip, looking unsure. “For how long?”

“I only need a few minutes. But during those few minutes they will be wanting very badly to get out.”

“I can bind them, but I’ve never tried with so many before. My spell will hold, but I can’t guarantee more than a few minutes.”

I nodded. “It should be enough.” I turned to Christian. “I need the rest of you to go for backup. Tell them we’ve encountered a hive.” Christian was shaking his head at me. He didn’t like this idea. We usually stuck together in battle. It was an old habit.

“You’ll be back in five minutes. Trust me, please.” The thirteen soldiers who had taken to following us, obeyed. Christian followed them reluctantly, shooting glares back at me as he did. I would be getting hell for this later, I knew.

Gretchen began her ritual at the door of the deceptively small, windowless building. It was cinder block. There was no fuel to burn inside. Unless, of course, you counted the bodies.

I worked about five feet away, hand on the gray stone wall. I was no fire sorcerer. I didn’t need to call the fire down from above or below. The fire was inside of me. I merely had to unleash it. It was even somewhat of a relief to unleash some of the furious inferno that resided inside of me. I pushed it out with less effort than I expected. It pushed through the walls and to the creatures within almost too easily. And once there, it blew out like a silent explosion to engulf the creatures inside, too quickly to track. It felt good to release the fire I kept so tightly reigned most of the time. I didn’t hold back a bit of it, because for once I didn’t have to. I felt the fire leave me, but it was my fire, so I also felt what it did, touching one flesh-eater after another as it engulfed the hive.

The sounds that escaped from the building were tortured and wretched. Anguished screams filled the air. I pushed the fire inside the building, burning. Burning them all where they stood. I stood braced against the building by one arm, my being centered on the destruction inside. For long minutes I stood that way, mercilessly trapping them in that all consuming inferno.

The building’s flat roof suddenly burst into the air. It seemed to fly up and disappear. In fact, it disintegrated. A light rain of ash that peppered the battleground was all that remained of it. It was only seconds before necro hands began to emerge through the top of the building. They were making short work of climbing out.

In a flash I was hovering above them. Against my will, I had become flame personified. I looked down at my now glowing body. My power was shifting me against my will. Already I felt wings of flame unfurl from my shoulders. I halted the shift, but seemed unable to reverse the damage already done. I hung suspended in that in-between form, arms spread, back arched.


Tags: R.K. Lilley Heretic Daughters Vampires
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