Gratuitous? Maybe…

Good Tuesday morning!  Just so’s ya know, this is a long post!

And it is good.  The storm has passed  – after dumping a few feet of snow on us and shutting half the province down – and the sun is shining.  GK is at school, which means I have the day to myself to work or mastur… erm… whatever comes to mind.  I have shows to catch up on.  CS6 to begin to learn.  I am part of a creative challenge group (for MCSers) on FB and I have finally decided what my craft this week will be (the challenge this week is to pick a pinterest DIY thing and do it) so I will be working more on that.  I may watch one of the classical mythology lectures I have.

But first!  I am working in HW2.   The book is called Demon Plague for a reason.  In it, one of Anna’s oldest enemies resurfaces and sends demon after demon to try and kill our beloved Hybrid.  The demons are from all beliefs (that I could fit in anyway *laughs*).  For instance,  I have a Christian demon, an ancient Sumerian one and one battle where the creature ends up being two demons.  

This last one is the one that I am concerned may be gratuitous.  It’s the second demon attack.  Several members of the pack have gone to the Isle of Skye and Dunvegan Castle to find Astrid, the Wolf who went missing at the end of Witch Hitlist, the first book.  Liam, Anna, Marcus and Chelle are among them, leading the charge.  

After dealing with Astrid and the consequences of her betrayal and disappearance, those four have dinner with the Laird of the castle.  They go for a walk afterwards and, of course, while out, they are attacked by a Balam.  A Bahlam is known in Christian mythology as a King of demons, leader of forty legions.  However, in Yucatec Mayan mythology, a Balam is a jaguar god who protected communities and people.  He has been sent to kill Anna.  

She dispatches him, of course, but is confused when the God she calls upon only takes the spirit but not the body.  He tells her he can only take that which is his.  (You’ll read all this, I’m pasting the battle in here)  The body left behind changes into a Chimaera – a Greek monster.  Not a demon per se but it suited the moment.  

Now, I’m concerned this may be a superfluous battle but it leads to some spectacular, fiery sex between Liam and Anna, the death of a character I didn’t like and who was trying to make himself important, and a major turning point in Anna and Liam’s relationship.  

I’m sure Liam’s marriage proposal would have come eventually, I know it would have, but would the event he was waiting for have happened without these events and the life affirming coming together?   I’m not sure.  All of Anna’s walls were broken down, all of the chains that prevented her from loving him as completely as she should were stripped away.  I don’t know if that would have happened if the battle here hadn’t put her in a coma and the destruction that comes at her hands (after she wakes) hadn’t broken her a little.

Perhaps that’s the answer right there, eh?   All of these things were required to put Anna and Liam where they need to be. 

There’s still something wrong with this battle though…

Let me know what you think.  I love feedback.  I kind of, sort of crave it, greedy, greedy author that I am.

Have a great day, everyone.

Muah.  

PS.  That’s right!  I got the CS6 Master Collection yesterday.  So much to learn!  *grins*  I am terrified and excited at the same time.  I feel like I need to know enough, be able to do enough, to be worthy of the program.  Silly, right?  Still.  I will learn it!  Layering, here I come! 😉

 

Suddenly, the Wolves all stiffened.  A scant moment later, Rafe did too.  They instinctively turned so their backs faced each other and each pair of sharp eyes sought the night for the source of the disturbance.  They all became aware of a heavy breathing that sounded more like a soft mocking laugh.  Glowing yellow eyes came out of the darkness, locked on Anna.

“I see it,” she whispered.

They all turned in her direction.  The yellow eyes grew larger as it moved closer.  The eyes were close to five feet up.  The sound of claws scraping on rock grated on their nerves.  A cloud shifted away from the half full moon and bathed the creature in light.

“What the fuck is that?”

 

Chapter Eight

 

Rafe’s exclamation was a soft whoosh of breath but it galvanized Anna.  She took a step towards it and found one arm clenched in Liam’s large hand and her other in Caspian’s smaller but no less powerful one.  “Let me go,” she said.  “This is something I have to do.”

The thing laughed, showing large sharp teeth.  The shaggy, slick black fur quivered as it shook with its own amusement.  “Yes, let the Seed of Cain go.”  It moved before her on four large paws, pacing back and forth, long slim tail flicking at the ends.  It looked like an ungroomed jaguar.  Its eyes were drawn to Rafe as he jerked at the mention of Cain.  “What is it, Vampire?  Did you not know?”

“No, I did not.”  Rafe turned to Anna.  “You are the Princess Sadira?”

“Aye, but this is not the place to discuss it.  Be quiet while I tend to this creature.”  Anna turned back to the black cat.  “What is a Bahlam doing here in Scotland?”

“Why I’m here to eat you, of course.”  It growled the words out just before it launched itself at her.

Anna threw up a shield and automatically began pulling from those around her and from the water as she wracked her brain for the one who could help.  The jaguar bounced off the shield and as it tried to shake off the impact, she threw a large fire ball at it. 

It laughed.  “Fire?  This is the stuff I am made of!”

“Well then, try this!”  With a wave of her hand, a sweeping of her palm over the small puddle near her then, with a turning lift until her palm was skyward, she swept water in from the ocean.  A hundred gallons lifted from its resting place and drowned the cat.  Anna looked relieved when it lay dead on the rock.  The relief lasted only a minute before she frowned.  “That was too easy.”

“Yes it was,” Liam murmured beside her. 

The beast stirred and Anna pulled a sword from the other Realms, shocking Rafe as she reached into nothing and came back out with an obviously Elven silver blade.  She ran forward, feet barely touching the slick rocks and drove the blade into its heart while she screamed, “Itzamna!  Creator of all, I call you!  God of fire, I call you!  Take your beast back to whence it came!  Return this creature to its proper time and seal it there!  Itzamna!  Take this cat, this demon and send him back to his time in hell!”

She lifted the sword and severed the head as a male creature, dressed as a Mayan king appeared.  He nodded to Anna and she bowed back as he lifted the cat into his arms.  Anna watched, puzzled, as only the spirit was taken, but not the body.  “Itzamna?”

“I take only that which is mine.”  His words rumbled across her skin and he vanished.

Stunned, Anna stared at the headless beast as it began to change colour.  The front legs thickened and the black fur bled away as tawny fur rolled in from the top down.  Three heads sprang from its neck as Anna watched.  The shock of seeing lion, goat and dragon heads appear sent her stumbling backwards; she slipped from the rock and disappeared into the ocean.

“Anna!”  Liam’s panicked shout was echoed seconds later by Marcus, Chelle and Caspian.  They all ran forward, Caspian warning Liam of the undertow.

The beast finished its transformation in a blink; large leathery wings sprouted from its sides, the tail grew, thickened and became a snake that hissed at Liam as he tried to slip past to get Anna out of the water.  It swept its wings down and lifted into the air.  The dragon spit fire at the small, now terrified group and the lion’s roar drowned out Rafe’s exclamation of awe.  “A Chimaera,” he breathed softly. 

Marcus looked at the American sharply as Liam and Caspian tried to get past it.  They were thwarted at every attempt and Liam was getting frantic.  “A what?”

“A Chimaera.  It’s a mythological beast; I don’t believe anyone has ever seen one.”  Rafe was still staring at it in awe.  “It’s magnificent.”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass how pretty it is!  How do we kill it?”

Rafe shrugged and moved Astrid behind him.  “I don’t know.  There was something about a lead tipped lance and suffocation in the mythos but I have no idea if that would actually work.”

Liam growled as his hands changed, the fingers thickening as fur sprouted.  His nails lengthened until they were claws.  The rest of Liam wasn’t far behind in the shift to half-Wolf.  “Let’s try some claws, then.”  He leapt at the beast, uncaring if he survived or not, his Anna was dead.  The snake smacked Liam out of the air and Liam caught himself by snagging the beast by sinking the claws of one hand into a front paw.  The goat hind legs kicked at his body as the other front paw, a large lion foot, swiped for his face.

Just then the water exploded upwards and Anna reappeared.  She hovered there as the water crashed back into the ocean beneath her.  Her hair floated around her head like living flames and she was dressed from head to toe in a worn, well used set of leather armour.  She had gauntlets on her arms; the sword in one hand and a shield strapped to her other arm.  Both gleamed in the faint light.  Her eyes were black and glittering with fire.  She roared, “Come to me beast!”

The Chimaera abandoned toying with Liam, shook the Wolf-beast off and dashed for Anna even as the dragon head spit fire at the small group watching anxiously.  They scattered but Anna spared them no more than a glance as she screamed heavenward.  “Zeus, Ares!  Lend me your strength!  Artemis lend me your aim!  Hades, prepare to receive your creature!”  She threw her sword at the heart of the Chimaera like it was a throwing knife.  It had no sooner left her hand then she was dodging to the left and pulling a bow off her back.  The shield clattered to the rocks below as she reached for an arrow.

The Chimaera caught the sword and flung it at Chelle, laughing.  “You cannot kill me with so puny a weapon!”

“No,” Anna spoke calmly as she pulled on the bow string and shot the arrow at the goat’s head.  The beast roared as the arrow sunk deep into the skull.  “But these arrows were created in the forge of Hephaestus himself.”  She had a second arrow launched and in the snake’s head before her sentence was over.

The lion’s head roared again as the snake died.  The dragon opened its mouth and bellowed fire at Anna.  She dodged again, leaving those watching to wonder how the hell she was flying.  The flight was draining a lot of power from her and she was in a hurry to finish the Chimaera off.  Anna fired another arrow, hitting the lion in the throat.  It gurgled and fought to get the arrow out.  She used that moment to do her trick with the water again, waiting until the dragon was spitting fire at her. 

Fire versus water.  The two pushed and shoved in a macabre kind of tug-of-war.  Anna braced against the wind and slowly pushed the fire back.  Soon the dragon was drowning, its fire put out.  Anna swooped down to land as the Chimaera sank to the rocks, trailing three dead heads and bleeding profusely from the neck of the fourth.  Liam raced for it and grabbed it by the mane, twisting the head until it tore off, his fury and fear lending him the strength.

Five harpies, blacker than a moonless night sky, appeared and picked the corpse up, as one, they opened their mouths and the voice of Hades boomed out.  “Thank you for returning my beast to me, little one.  Rest well this night and the next for the Fates tell me another trial is coming your way on the third night.”

Anna nodded as a strange light surrounded her then she staggered and passed out, crumpling on the rocks.  The Wolves who had gathered along the cliff wall and on the stairs gasped in fear.

Marcus scooped her up as Liam shifted back to human form.  Liam went to take his Mate but Marcus shook his head, knowing Liam would be feeling the strain of his last actions as soon as the adrenaline wore off.  “She is no burden to me, Alpha, I assure you.  Please allow me to carry the one who fought so hard to save us.”

Liam nodded, and merely walked by her head, stroking her hair and staring at the colour change.  “Her hair is black.”

Startled, they all turned to look at her and one by one, the Wolves came to touch her.  They stroked her arms and legs and her face, willing her to wake up.  She was barely breathing, about two breaths a minute.  Caspian’s pack and Liam’s came forward to lend their touch, moving with Liam, Marcus and Chelle as Caspian led them to a well-appointed guest suite.  Marcus laid her in the middle of the bed then he and Liam lay down on either side of her.

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