By the time the others returned David was getting used to the feel of the Mists and had learned to stop himself crossing over which was a relief, but he still hadn’t learned to fully glamour his eyes though Tyler thought he’d pass unless someone took a close look.
Leisa and Michael arrived back first but didn’t have time to tell them what they’d found before Tanya and Meredith returned. Meredith didn’t look any better than when she and Tanya had left and Tanya looked pale and drawn. As soon as they came in Meredith rushed straight over to David and grabbed his hands.
â€œI’m sorry to ask this. You’ve been through a lot and it will be horrible, but please help me find out who killed Paul.â€ She gave a little sob. â€œSomeone tore him all up. I’ve seen some horrible things but this is the worst.â€
â€œA werewolf then?â€ Daniel asked.
Meredith shook her head. â€œI don’t think so. It didn’t feel like a werewolf.â€ She looked over at Tanya who nodded.
â€œIt wasn’t a werewolf, Dan,â€ she said. â€œWhoever did it knows enough about werewolves to fake it but there was no scent of our kind around in.â€ She scowled. â€œIt smelled like a vampire and yet not. Vaguely fairy as well.â€
â€œI think it was the same person who is behind the paralysis,â€ Meredith said. â€œBut that’s just a hunch.â€
â€œWhich is why you want me to help,â€ David said. â€œOf course I’ll help, but we’d better do it before dinner. I have a feeling I might regret it if we did it after.â€
â€œSure,â€ Tanya said. â€œBut we do need to wait for Liam to get here first. We managed to convince them we needed his help to sort this out without telling them about you, Dave. One piece of good news Rhianne totally lost it in front of the council in a way they couldn’t ignore.â€ She rubbed at her arm. â€œThey voted to remove her and put her on hunting moratorium until she’s more stable.â€
Daniel hissed and grabbed her arm, rolling up her sleeve. There was a bandage on her arm. He unwrapped it to reveal an angry red slash.
â€œShe attacked you?â€ he asked.
â€œYeah, Liam and Floyd thought they’d got all her weapons but apparently they missed some. Thank goodness I always take my tea before going in.â€
â€œI’ll wash this out to remove any traces of silver and then heal it for you,â€ Daniel said.
â€œBest not heal it,â€ Tanya said. â€œThe others know she managed to cut me before Merry knocked her out. They might notice if it’s suddenly gone.â€
â€œFair enough,â€ he said before looking slyly at Meredith. â€œYou seem to make habit of knocking Rhianne out when she’s attacking people.â€
Meredith had been sitting on the couch staring into space and hugging herself but her head shot up at that.
â€œH-how…â€ She stared at him then turned to look at Sarah. â€œYou know as well?â€
â€œWhat actually happened to Martin? Yeah, I know. I never quite knew how to tell you.â€
â€œWhat did happen?â€ David asked.
â€œHe saved me from some renegades,â€ Sarah said. â€œAnd Merry and Rhianne as well but he got bitten and Rhianne apparently decided to save him from what she believed was the danger of becoming a werewolf. Merry tried to save him but it was too late.â€
â€œI’m so sorry,â€ Meredith said. â€œIt was my fault.â€
â€œNo, it really wasn’t,â€ Tanya said. â€œYou behaved completely rationally throughout. But how did you know about the adrenalin?â€
â€œIt was a guess,â€ Meredith said. â€œI won’t call it a lucky one. Jasmine always carries adrenalin in case she meets some iron so I figured werewolves would do similar.â€ She hesitated. â€œRhianne doesn’t remember what happened in those last few minutes before I knocked her out, you know.â€
â€œBeing knocked out will do that,â€ Daniel said. â€œBut I’ve always wondered how you explained him being dead? None of his injuries should have been fatal.â€
â€œI didn’t te–â€ Meredith looked up at a knock on the door. â€œThat must be Liam.â€
Liam nodded to them as he came in but his attention remained focused on the phone he had pinned to his ear. Whatever the caller was saying had creased his forehead into a puzzled frown.
â€œI don’t understand why he…â€ he paused and listened. â€œThat’s true, I guess. He does, doesn’t he?â€ Another pause. â€œYes, I’ll tell them, but I already know they won’t like it. I don’t like it.â€ He listened again for a moment before laughing. â€œKate! You shouldn’t say that about Gwen even if it is true.â€ Another laugh. â€œYes the shoe does fit, doesn’t it? I’ll see what they say then call you?â€ He hung up and then looked calmly at Sarah, Daniel and Tanya who were all staring at him. â€œWerewolves have good hearing, don’t they? How much of what Kate said did you hear?â€
â€œThat was the Day Queen?â€ Tanya’s eyes were narrowed. â€œDoes she often call you to talk about court policy?â€
Liam gave her an amused smile. â€œIt was. She does. You and Merry aren’t the only ones with secrets, Tan.â€
Tanya scowled at him and folded her arms. â€œAnd we trusted you so you’d better reciprocate. Spill!â€
Several things clicked in David’s head simultaneously. Liam not sleeping. The way Tyler and Penny both deferred to Liam. Tyler telling Penny they’d ask Liam about her idea.
â€œWait a minute!â€ he exclaimed. â€œYou’re the Night King, aren’t you? I should have realised last night.â€
â€œI don’t advertise it,â€ he said. â€œOnly the highest members of the Court know who I am. The rest never see my human form. So I’d appreciate your discretion.â€ He looked back at Tanya who was staring at him open-mouthed. â€œHow much did you hear?â€
â€œEnough to suspect who is requesting an audience with you but not enough to be sure,â€ Daniel said because Tanya was still speechless.
â€œI’m pretty sure it is who you think,â€ Liam said. â€œI’m inclined to say no given what I know of him.â€
â€œBut your counterpart wants to say yes,â€ Daniel said.
â€œKate’s being pragmatic,â€ Liam said. â€œHe hates Gwen with a passion and the Court of Seasons is a fierce foe. Also she fears a two fronted war if we offend him.â€
â€œExcuse me, but who are we taking about?â€ David asked.
â€œMaelin!â€ Sarah exploded. She gasped in a few breaths before managing to speak somewhat coherently. â€œHis servants killed Anna’s mother and were responsible for Martin’s death for all Rhianne’s hand held the knife. No good can come from his help.â€
â€œThat’s true.â€ Michael was eyeing Liam thoughtfully. â€œBut in this case I think the Day Queen is also right that refusing to speak to him may endanger them even more. They need to navigate this cautiously so they can avoid being forced into an alliance without ending up under attack.â€
â€œMichael’s right I’m afraid.â€ Daniel looked at Liam seriously. â€œYou will have to meet him I guess. We’d better tell your father, Tan.â€
â€œUncle Phil?â€ David asked. He’d always been closer to Uncle Philip than his father.
â€œDad is our pack leader,â€ Tanya said. â€œWe’ve been keeping him up to speed on the situation but he’s been focussed on Aunt Sue so he couldn’t come to help.â€
â€œMum! Damn I haven’t been to see her since the day after dad died!â€ David said. â€œHow is she?â€
â€œShe’s… well not okay obviously,â€ Sarah said. â€œBut she’s getting there. I took Emma to see her which helped, I think.â€ She glared at Tanya. â€œYou should have told us.â€
â€œIt was Dad’s idea not to,â€ Tanya said. â€œI think he felt guilty that neither of us realised why Emma was so sick until too late. I certainly did. But yeah I’ll call Dad because he does need to know about this. I’ll ask him to bring Aunt Sue over as well. We can’t risk leaving her unguarded.â€ She pulled out her phone and stepped out of the room. Through the open door David could see her talking to someone on the phone. It was only a short call before she hung up and came back in.
â€œOkay, he’s on his way,â€ she said. â€œLet’s do the scrying before he gets here.â€ She handed David a clear pastic bag containing what he thought might once have been a green T-shirt but was now a shredded pile of rags splattered with dried blood and, his stomach heaved with realisation, excrement.
â€œI warned you it would be unpleasant,â€ Meredith said. â€œIf you want to back out I’ll understand.â€
David swallowed and forced himself to look at the bag. Using his horror as fuel to steel himself. â€œThis just makes me more determined to help.â€ He looked up and met her eyes. â€œBut you’ll have to guide me again, I’m afraid.â€
Meredith nodded. â€œI know. I’ll be okay.â€
â€œI’ll help as well,â€ Liam said. â€œSince my secret is out here I’ve no reason not to. My clairvoyance lies more towards farsight than psychometry but I might be able to get sight of this enemy once David’s psychometry reveals them.â€
â€œIt’s certainly worth a try,â€ Meredith said. â€œBut it’s a long shot.â€
â€œA long shot is better than no shot, Merry,â€ Liam said. â€œBut I hope people won’t freak because I’ll have to drop my glamour.â€ He obviously saw the puzzled looks people were giving him. â€œI’m a shadow person. My true form seems to freak people out.”
“Wait? You have a glamour?” David said. “But I can see it? I thought I couldn’t see glamour.”
“Mostly that’s true,” Liam said. “My kind’s glamours are a bit more solid than most since they protect me from light as well.”Â He closed his eyes. â€œSpeaking of which could someone get the curtains? It’s still a bit light out.â€
â€œSure!â€ Anna leapt to her feet and closed the thick drapes plunging the unlit room into gloom.
â€œThat’s better.â€ Liam’s skin seemed to melt away as the room darkened even further as if the little light getting past the curtains was being eaten. After only a few moments David could nothing except inky darkness but then a pair of glowing red lights appeared and David realised they were Liam’s eyes. He’d transformed into a being of living shadow. â€œOkay, everyone?â€ he asked.
â€œUh,â€ Tanya said. â€œThat’s creepy. I hate to say it, Liam, but that form makes my skin crawl.â€
â€œIt does?â€ Liam sounded puzzled. â€œLet me try something.â€ A moment later something dark and oppressive was lifted from the air. â€œBetter?â€
â€œBetter,â€ Tanya agreed. â€œWhat the hell was that?â€
â€œHnn, inconvenient is what it was.â€ He said after moment. â€œI must be hungry. I’ll deal with that tomorrow. At least I think there’s an investigation team in one of my houses then.â€
â€œThere is,â€ Penny said drily. â€œI scheduled them and was going to kick your butt into there if you didn’t realise because unlike you I actually pay attention to when you last ate. Repeat visitors too so they’ll be disappointed if nothing happens.â€
â€œOh, well I’d definitely better go then,â€ Liam said. â€œDon’t want to disappoint the customers.â€
â€œDo I even want to know?â€ Tanya asked. â€œI mean I’m sure you wouldn’t harm anyone but it does sound ominous.â€
â€œI’ll explain later,â€ Liam said. â€œI don’t think you’ll be too offended by my eating habits. For now let’s get on with this.â€
â€œYes, let’s.â€ David took a deep breath, opened the bag and tipped the bloody rags into his hands. The stench hit him like a gut punch and it was a few moments before he could focus enough to let his mind sink down into them. Once he did he barely had time to register the intensity of the energy before it grabbed hold of him and pulled him into Paul’s last moments.
Paul ducked into an empty booth in the darkened nightclub and sank into a seat massaging his temples to try and ease the burning pain in his head. Something was wrong, he could feel it. He’d been convinced his target was a werewolf but now all the evidence was yelling at him that he was making a mistake. Normally he would have followed the evidence and pulled back until he could work out why his feelings and the evidence were in such conflict but when he’d tried that he’d walked into a psychic wall and his head had started throbbing and the urge to attack his target had grown even stronger. Someone was trying to use him as a murder weapon and he didn’t know how long he could fight it.
â€œNot for long, I think.â€ The sympathetic female voice made him look up sharply to find his target standing in the entrance of the booth looking at him sadly. â€œYou don’t have any special reserves to resist her. Though how she expects a werewolf hunter armed with nothing more than a few pins to kill me I don’t know.â€
Paul just starred at her. How had she known? He had no time to puzzle over the conundrum because he found a knife that wasn’t his and which he had no idea where it came from in his hand and he launched himself at the short, dark haired woman. She blocked him easily and took the knife from his hand.
â€œAh, she intended to arm you herself and this might well have inconvenienced me. Such a pity you seem like a better child than most of your compatriots but there’s nothing to be done. Come with me.â€ She took his hand and led him from the nightclub and into a darkened alley. Paul tried to break free and run but somehow all he could do was follow her obediently.
The alley ended in a dead end and she turned back to him. â€œI wish I could free you, child, really I do, but you have no defences so even if I evicted her she’d be back as soon as my back was turned. I can’t be constantly dodging you and while your superior might be able to help she’d never let you talk to her.â€ She reached out and stroked his face. â€œI’m sorry about this, child. Truly I am.â€ It was the last thing he saw before everything went black.
David snapped back to the present and his own mind with a gasp and sat there shaking as he tried to process what he’d just experienced.
â€œShit!â€ Liam said â€œThat poor boy.â€
â€œAt least he was unconscious when she was eviscerating him. That’s a mercy at least.â€ Meredith gave a sob. â€œBut damn it I’m sure she could have thrown the other out of his head long enough for him to come to me for help. She didn’t have to kill him and even if she did she didn’t have to gut him that way.â€
â€œOther?â€ Tanya asked.
â€œSomeone was controlling the kid, Tan,â€ Liam said. â€œThrew him at the…â€ he hesitated. â€œShe was a vampire right?â€
â€œI think so,â€ David said even as Meredith nodded empatically.
â€œOkay,â€ he said. â€œSomeone threw the kid at the Vampire. Even armed him suitably.â€
â€œIt was the same person Dave and I sensed trying to push us,â€ Meredith said. â€œAnd normally I’d say even a silver knife would only irritate a vampire but that knife was strange. I wish I could get a look at it.â€
â€œWell that’s interesting,â€ Tanya said. â€œBut more importantly did you get a good look at the killer?â€
â€œYe– No.â€ David frowned in puzzlement. â€œPaul saw her clearly but somehow I can’t remember anything but that she was short and dark haired.â€
â€œSame here,â€ Liam said. He looked over Meredith who scowled and nodded. â€œWell that’s an interesting gift she has. She must have realised someone might try to scry for her and somehow she can block them from recognising her.â€ He shifted back to his human form. â€œThat’s a not usually a vampire gift but it’s not uncommon among fairies and daemonsâ€
â€œIs it now!â€ Tanya narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. â€œI did say that whoever did it smelled like a vampire but also like a fairy. Could she have been a Mistwalker before she was turned?â€
â€œAlmost certainly,â€ Liam said. â€œNot as uncommon as people think and it would explain the paralysis as well if she’s found a way to make elf-shot effect other supernaturals rather than just humans.â€
â€œYes, that’s a workable theory,â€ Michael said. â€œIt does seem a lot like elf-shot. And the description that you give of the killer matches the vague impressions I got from Ian. So I think Meredith is right the same person is behind that.â€ He pulled out a phone and looked over at Leisa. â€œLet’s check up on everyone. I don’t think anyone else would be a target but she’s dangerous enough to be sure.â€
Leisa nodded and also pulled out a phone.
â€œGood idea,â€ Tanya said. â€œWhile you do that I’ll make Dinner before dad arrives.â€