For a moment, everything seemed frozen as I watched Trent's blood slowly seep onto his pale fingers and darken the shiny black silk of his tuxedo jacket. Our eyes met. Bright green filled with pain locked with deeper green filled with surprise. Screaming from behind my back broke our connection at the same time that Captain Edden pulled his weapon from under his well tailored tuxedo that had hidden his concealed carry. From beside me, Glenn also pulled a weapon as his eyes scanned the mass of humanity that was reacting to an as yet unseen danger.
In a moment of panic, I tried to tap a line. When nothing happened, I remembered that the blasted club had temporarily castrated my magic. My body began to shake as it realized it was in danger and unarmed.
I glanced over my shoulder and saw nothing besides bodies scrambling away from a few pockets of focused action. Since I could not see any immediate danger and because I had two armed FIB officers at my side, I turned back to Trent to check what I suspected was a bullet wound. Although he had not lost much blood yet, the handsome elf seemed barely able to keep his eyes open and he had slumped in his chair. It was strange; he was acting almost like he was under the influence of a slow potion or spell. As I reached for the sinking elf, his eyes closed completely and he collapsed. My left hand caught at his injury as my right attempted to keep him in his seat.
"What the?" I started to question as my hand encountered something thin and smooth protruding from the wound despite the fact that I could not see anything under my fingers.
"Damn it!" Glenn cussed as he fired his weapon. "What that hell is going on Rachel?"
The rest of our table mates where cowering near the wall and edging their way away from our corner. Additional gun fire sounded from other parts of the room and the screaming continued. With a grunt, Edden flipped the table up as an impromptu protective barrier after a stray bullet bit into the wall behind us. I slid the unconscious elf in my arms to the ground and stood to survey the rest of the room. Near the entrance, a man in a tuxedo lay on the ground. Even from this distance, I knew he was dead. His head was crushed like a melon that had encountered a chance meeting with one of the golf clubs that normally visited the links at Kennywilde. Blood, flesh, skull and gray matter were splattered around his prone body.
"Morgon...what the hell is going on?" demanded Captain Edden as his stared at the body.
"How should I know?" I shouted back as the flame of rage shoved away my previous desire to flee.
"You're the weird thing expert," the FIB director replied in a strangely calm voice despite the chaos surrounding us. It was the same voice he had used before when faced with a catastrophe. Although I knew he was frustrated, he seemed to radiate a calm that inspired his subordinates to follow him.
"And that is definitely weird," he stressed at he pointed with his weapon towards the body again.
My eyes slanted back towards the formally clad dead man. Unlike the last time I had looked, the man's coat was now hanging open and his shirt had been ripped apart. There was a slowly growing wound on his stomach as if a surgeon was opening him for surgery. From our position, we could not see anyone actually making the incision.
My eyes grew large as I looked away from the victim on the floor to the elf at my feet.
"Oh man, we are so dead," I muttered as I scrambled to grab the invisible projectile imbedded in Trent's upper right shoulder.
After yanking the thin, seemingly spelled object from his body, I snapped the still unseen item in half. In the instant it broke, Trent's eyes opened and he struggled sluggishly to cover his bleeding wound. In my hands, sat two broken pieces of a wooden arrow tipped with a sharp stone arrow head on one end and feathered fletching on the other.
"What is that?" Glenn demanded as he glanced from the rest of the room to stare at the broken arrow for just a second before flicking his eyes back to the rapidly emptying ballroom.
At my feet, Trent gurgled and his eyes flew wide just before Detective Glenn was tossed from his protective position. The officer hit the wall and slid to the ground slightly stunned. His father instantly turned his weapon towards the attack on his son but there was nothing to see. There was no assailant visible.
Even though his muscles were slow to respond due to the residual spell power of the arrow that had invaded his bloodstream, Trent made a panicky gurgle and attempted to move.
Without a second thought, my hand flashed out and impaled the broken arrow into the invisible body that had just thrown Detective Glenn and moved in to complete its mission against the incapacitated elf. Before all my eyes, the previously invisible creature became visible. It's red glowing eyes were trained on the prone elf and it did not change focus even when Captain Edden fired at point blank range into its withered chest cavity. Unaffected except for slight force points by the assault of the arrowhead and the bullets, the skeletal and hanging flesh creature hefted its huge club with the intention of rendering Trent to the same condition as the other victim across the room.
Too fast for me to stop it, the deadly club swung towards the elf. Since I couldn't stop it, my body reacted with the only option to save the incapacitated billionaire. I plowed into the creature's torso and knocked the supernatural killer the couple feet until it hit the wall. The large wooden club stained black with the blood of its past victims smashed into the ground about a foot from the councilman's body.
Even though I attacked it, the creature did not move its glowing eyes from Trent's body. It had its prey and until it was dead, the ruthless hunter was not interested in anyone else. Using the unyielding focus on its target to my advantage, I reached forward, struck the creatures wrist, and swept the large club from its hands. Even as I was catching the handle of the club in my other hand, I cocked my right leg and snapped it into the assassin's torso. It staggered back a half step which gave me time to capture a better grip on the blunt weapon in my left hand. Swinging it like a little leaguer focused on a home run, I struck with my make-shift baseball bat. I scored at least a double as the club bit into the creatures upper body and crushed the side of its skull.
The adrenaline rush consumed me and I kept swinging wildly. Bone crushed under the assault and I screamed in anger and frustration with every blow. Like a mad man consumed by an unseen force, I continued to beat the flesh and bone hunter. The skull finally fell from the body but it still moved and so I kept beating on it. Almost sobbing with the emotional upheaval coursing through my body, I levered one last crushing blow against the skull and it shattered. The red glow faded from its eyes and the remaining small pieces of bone, flesh and dried organs finally stilled.
Shaking like a leaf in a storm, I screamed a final battle cry and sunk to the floor as Glenn stepped towards me. He was rubbing the injury on the back of his shoulder but he still crouched beside me to try to calm me.
"Morgan," he called softly and hesitantly reached towards me. He appeared apprehensive of touching me in fear of setting off whatever had triggered my frenzied attack. "Morgan, are you okay?"
I laughed harshly as I raised my wild eyes to meet his concerned ones. Panic and rage still warred inside me but I reined it close enough to stand. My body still shook but some deep breathing helped me regain even more control.
While I had been playing crush the bones, Edden had pulled Trent towards the wall and had wadded some cloth napkins into a temporary bandage for his shoulder injury. The spell on the arrow was seeping from his body and Trent regained enough control to shift his leg to get a nasty piece of bone and flesh off his body.
"What in the hell was that," Trent demanded imperiously. His previous fear had been stuffed beneath his normal haughty demeanor.
My eyes swung towards the reclining elf.
"That was a baykok," I huffed.
"Which means?" Trent replied.
"It means that your damn lucky that I know important stuff like how to save your butt instead of useless stuff about the limbic system."
We stared at each other for a frozen moment as our mutual feelings of superiority over our adversary warred with each other. Another bullet bit into the wall above our squatting position and I sighed. That was it for my break from the action. I held up my arm and jingled the band on my wrist.
"Any way we can get this off?" I asked with little hope of receiving the answer I wanted.
"Sorry, Morgan," Captain Edden replied as he shook his head. I glanced at his son who mirrored his expression. Neither one had a handy set of metal snips or bolt cutters tucked in their tuxedos.
"So now what?" Edden asked as he peeked around the edge of the table and saw that there were a number of bodies on the floor now but he could still not see any other assailants. Even as he glanced across the expanse of the ballroom, he saw yet another man flung violently into the air. From opposite our position, the federal FIB director had circled his own wagons and was hiding behind a table barrier just like we were. He had more than one table at his disposal and there was a rather large collection of armed officers protecting the politicians. Unfortunately, they were quickly losing ground to their unknown assailants.
I sighed yet again and this time my entire body seemed to droop.
"Baykok can only be destroyed by crushing the spiritual life from them. I guess that you could say that they are kind of like a mythical zombie. They are hunters and will keep stalking their target until completely crushed or the prey is dead and they have eaten its organs. Or maybe it's just their spleen. Or liver. I can't remember exactly. It's been a long time since I read about them."
"How do we fight what we can't see?" Glenn posed.
I stood and hefted the purloined club. I straightened my shoulders and took a fortifying breath.
"You don't. I do," I replied as I shifted the weapon onto my shoulder and stalked from the relative safety of our table. Glenn scrambled after me telling me to stop. Of course, I ignored him with my traditional lack of respect for his imagined authority over my existence. I really did like Glenn but I really was bad with taking orders.
With the destroyed baykok's weapon in my hand, I could catch glimmers of the three remaining hunters. Two were attempting to break through the lines of officers near the head table and another one was currently feeding on a fallen officer laying in the middle of the polished ballroom floor.
Since I had to pass the feeding creature to get to the other ones, I swung my club at its head. It seemed a good idea to not pass by the feeding baykok and allow it to have access to my back. Since it was not expecting the assault during its meal, I was able to sever it's head from its body on my second wind up and swing. Ripping its own club from its leather catch on its tattered remains of buck skinned trousers, I tossed the now visible weapon to Glenn.
"You bat clean-up," I instructed him as he caught the weapon. Shoving his useless firearm back in its place, Glenn took aim at the still moving body of the downed baykok that he could now see compliments of the stolen club in his hands.
"Make sure you keep going until the red dies in its eyes," I called over my shoulder as I took off towards the remaining two monsters. A new flush of heat rushed into my system as I once more embraced the battle rage that was skimming through my bloodstream tonight.
"I gotta find out what is in that punch," I muttered as a stray bullet whizzed past me and I didn't even flinch at the bloody trail it left on my skin as it bit along the edge of my bicep. The minor injury did not register as I let loose a battle cry to make even an ancient Berserker proud. The viciousness of the ensuing bludgeoning freaked the already shaken FIB officers behind their make-shift barricade. Once I struck damage against the first baykok pounding on their barrier, it became visible to them all. For a moment, the supposedly experienced officers stared in shock at the crazy red head crushing still moving bones like something possessed. If I had been in better control of my thoughts, I might have been offended to see that just as many weapons were now trained on me as there were on the rapidly diminishing baykok body.
It wasn't until Detective Glenn joined me on the second attacker that anyone even made a move to help. Surprisingly, it was one of the cronies of Director Hatch who stepped from the protective circle, grabbed the discarded weapon by the pile of already crushed bone and flesh, and waded into the final battle with the fourth baykok. With our joint efforts, the final assailant fell swiftly beneath our blunt weapons. As the red glow left the crushed skull of the final creature, I shook my hair loose and yelled a victory scream. A half dozen weapons shifted to point at me.
Even when Captain Edden arrived at our little gathering, the guns were not lowered. The local FIB officer glared at the officers even as he shifted the support he was offering to Trent. The injured elf stood independently as Edden moved to interpose his body between the armed FIB men and his severely tarnished trophy.
"Henry, are you okay?" Director Hatch inquired as he stepped from the protection of his underlings and approached his older friend who was wiping sweat from face with the handkerchief he had previously sported in his tuxedo pocket.
Henry lifted his battle worn club in salute to me a bit like he was wielding a saber or fencing foil. Turning to his friend he assured him that he was fine. Once he was assured that his friend was uninjured, the FIB director turned to me.
"So I take it you know what those creatures were and why they attacked us?" he demanded.
Because I was still riding the chemical high, it took me a few moments to understand what he was saying. When the director repeated his almost accusatory question, I couldn't help but laugh. It started small but quickly regressed into full body laughter complete with tears trailing down my cheeks.
"You know what, Brent," I started and Edden and Glenn both stiffened. From his position on the edge of the impending showdown, Trenton Kalamack covered a grin with his elegant hand. For once, he was tickled to find that he was not the target of my some-what formidable temper.
"Those were baykok, Mr. Director," I offered in a scalding tone. "And I have no clue why they would attack your stupid shin-dig. I am a witch. I am not a mythical, solitary hunter from the woods surrounding the great lakes."
Glenn reached for me and placed a hand on my elbow in hopes of calming my building tirade. My eyes flashed as a final wave of heat coursed through my body. Although it was significantly less then any of the previous waves of influence, I was already wound so tight with frustration that I really didn't need the lingering chemical to help push me over the edge. I shook off the detective's restraining grasp and continued.
"I can't tell you why we were attacked since I am not a psychic nor a baykok but I can make one hell of a guess. I would figure you cheesed someone powerful with your "naked truth" hypocrisy. You aren't interested in truth, Brent. You are happy living an oblivious lie."
"I am a witch," I proudly stated as I pounded my chest for emphasis before lifting my arm and jingling the silver band on my wrist. "I am a witch and your wish to live in the constructed lie that magic is not part of your world cost a number of lives tonight."
I swept my arm dramatically over the room where a couple dead bodies lay in various states of destroyed life. Ti was a tragic testament to the entire stupid attitude.
"If my magic had not been stripped from me at the door of this turn-cursed club, I might have been able to recognize what was happening sooner because I would have seen the baykok's with my second sight and been able to capture them in a circle or even sleep spell them."
I took a step towards the silent FIB director.
"I am a witch," I yelled in his face and the director took a step back to escape the force and volume of my statement. "And you are a fool living in a fantasy world. There is magic all around you and to hide from it makes you as pathetic as a child hiding under the covers in fear of the monsters in the closet. A blanket will not protect you or the rest of the world from the very real monsters lurking in the shadows. If you are too big a fool to realize the benefits of working with Inderlanders to combat the real dangers in the world, then you won't last long. Hiding under a blanket or in your own equally useless fantasy world will only get you and those beneath you eaten by the monsters that really are hiding in your closet. Detective Glenn and Captain Edden are smarter than that. They will not hide from the bumps in the night. They are doing their job the best way available."
With one final glare at the entire collection of idiots, I turned to Detective Glenn.
"I am done being a trophy, Glenn. Take me home."
Without waiting for the detective to respond, I swung my new favorite blunt weapon onto my shoulder and stalked from the totally silent ballroom. It was a fine exit. The only thing that could have made it better was if I had been stomping out in my butt kicking boots. That would have completed the image. As it was, I had to settle for the tinkling chuckle that sent a shiver up my spine.
Trent was laughing as he turned to the visiting FIB officials.
"You don't need to fear the magic, gentleman. You don't need to fear the witch either. I do suggest you fear the woman though. She is a true force to be reckoned with," the elf stated with the air of one who definitely knew what he said was true.
Yeah, it made for one hell of an exit.
The day after the disastrous FIB banquet, the door sounded at the church in the early evening. When I opened it, a courier handed me a small white envelope. Curious at its contents but suspicious of the sender's information, I walked into the kitchen where Ivy was working on her computer. She glanced up from her program as I tapped the thick stationary against the table.
"What's that?" the sultry vamp inquired.
"Something from Trent," I replied as I stared at the seemingly innocent missive and wondered if I really wanted to open it.
Since I was obviously taking too long to decide about opening the envelope, Ivy snatched it from my hand. Before I could do more than protest lightly, she had opened it. She flipped open the small card and read the contents as well as the information on the small folded paper inside the card. Her face remained blank before she handed the card and extra paper to me.
I quickly scanned the very fancily written note from Councilman Trenton Kalamack thanking me for saving his live during the attack the previous evening. I scoffed at the beautiful calligraphy writing and wondered which of his assistants actually penned the very proper note. I tossed the thank you onto the table and opened the smaller folded paper. This note was written by Trent himself. In his tight, precise handwriting, he wrote only a simple message.
R. M. M
You should have taken the time to listen to me last night and this would have been a check instead of a thank you note.
T. A. K.
P.S. - Your freckles were cute.
I crumbled the note and tossed it towards the trash can as I stormed from the room. Luckily, I missed Ivy as she snagged the note and tucked it in her folder for future entertainment purposes. For a fleeting moment as I stormed from the room, I was even glad Jenks was not around. Ivy's laughter was bad enough.
"God, I hate that elf," I muttered as I stalked down the hallway and slammed my bedroom door in hopes of shutting out my roommate's unappreciated sounds of mirth. "I really do."
A/N: I hope that you enjoyed this little tale. It was fun to write something in a new fandom. Thank you for reading and thank you again to Grace10Hove for her cool art - me