by Jane Doe
Razor thin branches slapped at our faces, stinging our ankles and any visible piece of skin. The darkness was all consuming, the shadows thick as they surrounded us like the heavy fabric of a cloak.
If only they protected us the way a cloak would, if only they offered their assistance as they had numerous times in the past.
Something changed since I got my magic, and that something was big enough to alter the way the shadows acted around me.
In the past, they’d jump at the opportunity to be of service, to exact a price they saw most fitting. Their whispers would plague my mind, their slippery voices a haunting song of desperation, excitement, and longing.
I could hear their whispers, only this time they didn’t seem to be speaking to me, but to each other. Flinging them around the forest so quickly I couldn’t make out what the h**l they were saying.
“Wait a d**n second.” I panted, gritting my teeth together as Cassidy stepped on something sharp and snarled angrily. The scent of fresh blood was instant and made what I was about to say even more important. “Those were Vampires.”
Cassidy sucked in a sharp breath, swatting away the stray branches as they wacked her in the face. “As far as I’m concerned, just as scary as witches.” The whites of her eyes were visible as she glanced at Tristan, who ran in between us. “…no offense.”
“None taken.” He huffed. “You said the guy you stabbed was already d**d?”
I’d given him a rundown of what Cassidy had told me, even though I didn’t exactly understand what happened myself. Lars was d**d, yet undead? I knew without asking that magic was responsible, but it was a kind of magic I hadn’t learned about yet-and one I wasn’t sure I wanted to.
“Sure was.” She replied, her voice thick and tinged with both nausea and fear. “He decomposed after I k****d him, but I swear I could smell him the second I walked through the door. I…I thought he left some meat out or something and it spoiled.”
Tristan nodded grimly, which looked odd considering we were still running like lunatics through the forest in the d**d of night. “That’s definitely the work of magic, which means the Vampire’s are working with witches. Or at least, some of them are.”
“Lola, maybe you should mind-link the warriors.” Cassidy huffed, increasing her pace even though she was barefoot and sporting a mini dress.
“Cordelia put a spell on the territory. It’s supposed to alert Asher and I if there’s a breach, but I don’t think it worked.” I replied, a bit reluctant to admit this second part. “I don’t want these Vampire’s k****d…which is exactly what the patrol teams will do.”
“You-you haven’t called them?” Cassidy gaped, stumbling over a root that protruded from the ground. If it weren’t for Tristan’s quick reflexes, she would’ve face planted.
I didn’t answer her question, but instead wracked my brain for a solution, for some strategy that would allow two werewolves and one vampire to apprehend not only six vampires, but a d**d/undead biker named Lars. This was one of those impossible situations only magic would solve, yet I had no clue how to call on the mysterious force that sometimes filled my body and made my skin tingle like a livewire.
No one was coming to help. It was only us, surrounded by forest so dense that almost through. The canopies overhead only allowed the smallest sliver, which is what lit our way as we ran.
but not completely.
The shadows around us were frantic, throwing whispers at rapid fire that I couldn’t even begin to make out.
Asher would be furious, and so would everyone else but I was given this ability for a reason, and I’d be damned if I weren’t going to use it in times of dire need. I couldn’t rely on my magic, not without proper training, but I could rely on the otherworldly power of the shadows.
“Help us.” I hissed, raising my voice so that it carved through the trees and into every dark corner of the forest.
Both Tristan and Cassidy gave me identical looks of confusion, though Tristan’s quickly morphed to understanding. It was that understanding that darkened his eyes and hardened his jaw. I swore beneath the rustling of foliage and the crunch of earth beneath our feet, I could hear his teeth grinding together.
“What are you-” Cassidy began, her words faltering when I dug my heels into the ground and stumbled to a stop.
“I know you can hear me!” I snarled at them, turning in a circle to stare at the writhing mounds of darkness that hid behind the thick trees and large stones. “Why are you so afraid of me! Why now?!”
“Fear? Lola, the shadows can’t feel fear.” Tristan said, his eyes darting in all directions. I couldn’t tell if he were searching for the shadows, or for a sign of the Vampire’s that chased us.
“They didn’t want to save Breyona, but I made them. I made them, Tristan, and they didn’t ask for anything in return.” I told him, well aware that I was coming off as manic, but it wasn’t just our best option, it was our only option.
Tristan narrowed his eyes, scanning the forest line. “That’s not possible. They always have a price. Maybe they haven’t told you it yet.”
With a snarl, I spun around. We didn’t have time for this, for Tristan and me to argue over something I was so sure about. The way their behavior had changed since removing the bind on my magic, it was impossible to ignore.
They were no longer eager to make deals with me but were now terrified of my presence.
“I said help us, d**n it!” I bellowed, balling my hands into fists.
There was a rustle from afar, followed by the crunch of gravel and branches beneath heavy feet. Tristan grabbed my arm, his grip almost painful. I shoved him off, using some obscure technique Chris had shown me to slip under his arm, the very arm he tried to hook around my waist.
“Lola, you can’t-” He began, genuine concern filling his eyes, turning them into a set of small oases that glimmered in the dark.
The sound of shuffling grew closer, but it was Cassidy’s whimper that told me our chance to evade had just passed.
Channeling the same horrible emotions I felt when I found Breyona d***g in that clearing was all too easy. Like it was hours ago, I could recall the fear, the utter hopelessness that had filled every corner of my soul, had filled my body with cement until I thought I’d sink into the earth, never to return. If Breyona had died that night, I knew a part of me would’ve died too.
I owed the shadows everything; the life of my mate, and my best-friend. It wasn’t hatred that kept me from working with them in the past, but fear. Fear because I knew how steep a price they could ask for. Fear because I had felt the kind of desperation that would bring a person to give anything, absolutely anything to protect the ones they loved.
As those damning emotions filled my body, it wasn’t just the electrical current of magic they brought on, but a dreadful sort of cold that was injected directly into my bloodstream.
The forest around me with its vague shapes and distorted bushes sharpened, revealing not only the writhing shadows but the six figures that had chased us all this way.
“I said, help us.” I commanded them, forcing every bit of emotion into my words until I was sure my voice would crack.
Three things happened simultaneously, each one more confusing than the next.
“Oh my goddess…” Cassidy whispered; the whites of her eyes huge as she stared at me with an open mouth.
The six figures burst free from the brush, each one a Vampire with glittering eyes and an expression of pure malice on their faces.
They didn’t have time to register the inky smoke that slithered along the ground, that’s how quickly the shadows moved–finally answering my call.
Each cluster of pulsating darkness shot out, wrapping around the necks of the two Vampire’s standing at the lead. Like glittering spider webs coated in obsidian, they shimmered under the scarce amount of moonlight.
Where the first two Vampire’s had panic-stricken faces, clawing, and snapping at the shadows that squeezed the life from their bodies, the other four were faster in their evasions. Three of them raised their arms in time to block their throats, though the sticky webs wrapped around their forearms and climbed higher as they thrashed. The sixth managed to leap out of the way, but it wasn’t the nimble Vampire I scanned the forest floor, but the thing that Lars had been turned into.
If only they knew speed couldn’t save them.
The shadows that avoided me for the last two weeks now seemed attuned to my emotions, my wants and needs no matter how sadistic or depraved they were. The feeling of cold, icy power was addictive, numbing my nerve endings until nothing else mattered but the threat they posed and the lives they endangered.
No longer did they feel like a chaotic, otherworldly force I had no choice but to work with. Instead they were an ancient power brought into this world through pain and suffering, a weapon, an extension of my own power and will.
I threw my arms out, raising them far above my head and felt that icy power explode in my chest. At the same time, a hundred–perhaps a thousand of those razor thin webs burst into existence, appearing from the clusters of shadows that had watched and whispered unhelpfully.
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English