GENRE: Urban Fantasy
When I shift out of the night onto a tidy front yard in Dallas, it takes a second to figure out what I’m seeing.
It’s like the gates of hell broke open and all the inmates have come out to play.
“Oh goodie, I’m not too late,” I mutter to myself and draw my sword, shaking dark light down its length and deciding which enemy to attack from the many, many choices.
A vampire charges me and I dance sideways, just evading his crushing grasp as he blows past.
“Good guy here!” I yell at him, then duck as he throws a snarling bodach at my head. “Dammit, I said I’m a good guy!”
He growls a reply but, with his fangs out and hunting instincts fully engaged, it’s hard to understand the words – his lethal intent is clear, however, as he spins and comes at me again. I don’t want to hurt him but, if he gets hold of me, I’m a goner.
The only space clear of combatants is up and I shift just in time, sensing the charging vampire’s swing fill the place I just vacated – if he’d made contact, the blow would have snapped my spine.
Of course, shifting with bodach around is asking for trouble and, sure enough, one of the nasty creatures surfs in behind me as my feet touch the cottage’s roof. I dodge the rows of vicious snapping teeth and block the forelimb as it strikes at my stomach, my ehrlindriel blade’s keen edge slicing through the shaggy black fur with ease.
Being three-legged barely slows the bear-like thing as it stands erect and swipes with its remaining forelimb – the two-inch, toxin-laced claws whistle past the tip of my nose, forcing me back a step on the canted roof. I’ve never figured out how bodach see, since they don’t have eyes and their faces are mostly muzzle with lots of wicked-sharp teeth. But the face unerringly tracks me, foam dripping from its lips as they skin back to reveal a mouth that shouldn’t exist.
“You’re beginning to piss me off,” I tell it and the answering snarl expresses its own feelings on the matter.
When it charges, I leap over it, and bury my sword to the hilt at the spot where neck meets spine. There’s a sickening, wet thunk as the point buries itself in the composite shingles, then the creature’s weight slides down the sword’s length. Death from such a blow is instantaneous but, still, the venom in those claws can melt flesh like hot candle wax and I’m not taking any chances. With care, I yank my sword free and wipe the viscous yellow blood on the bodach’s fur, then put the length of the roof between it and me.
Looking down on the melee in the front yard, I see that the battle has spilled out into the street. A shriek draws my attention to a knot of humans, vulnerable and pale in a wild assortment of boxers, bathrobes, and even a pair of bunny slippers, their terrified expressions lit by the bonfires of burning vehicles. There’s an explosion as an SUV goes up in flames and the mortals duck and scatter. My breath catches when several veer into the path of a group of bodach, then a red-haired vampire and the guy who took a swing at me get between the mortals and the attacking nasties.
Almost directly below me, a Light Fae woman stands back-to-back with a handsome, dark-haired vampire. They’re surrounded by a swarm of bodach and I’m interested to see that both carry ehrlindriel swords – made by Fae mastersmiths, there aren’t very many in existence and no swordsman would just give one away. The couple’s movements complement one another with such grace, it’s like they’re following complex, deadly dance steps. The woman seems impervious to the peril she’s in, but I sense the male’s tension from where I am on my perch – even if she’s okay with the danger surrounding her, he’s not and his concern for her well-being touches a cobwebbed corner of my heart.
Shaking off the unaccustomed feeling, I look away and see a male and a female vampire go down under a pile of black bodies, but I don’t spare any concern for their well-being. Bodach can’t hurt vampires – only ehrlindriel and vamp teeth can penetrate their skin. But I do worry about the panicked humans running around and, even as some make it in their front doors, more leave their houses to see what’s going on. And, great, a couple of them are talking on cell phones – I can hear their shrill and frantic voices from here.
Sure enough, off in the distance comes the wail of a siren and it’s only a question of who will get here first – the fire department or the police. Either way, it’s about to get very public, which is a bad thing for me and all the other supernaturals down below since we have to keep our existence secret.
“Time to end this,” I tell myself, knowing I’ve delayed doing what I felt sure all along would have to be done. “Crap.”
I time my leap from the roof to land in a clear spot and, mindful of the claws and teeth, sheathe my sword – having to free my hands with bodach all around is just one of the reasons I’ve put this off.
Extending my senses, how I perceive the surging battle around me changes and I see the energy signature, the life force, of each individual. As always, the dark spectral seething mass of the bodach are the most pronounced, and I shove away the familiar pang that I see darkness so much more easily than light. At least in this particular moment, it’s a useful thing since it reveals the three vampires concealing themselves in the shadow of a house across the street.