Saturday, July 2, 2016

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 32

Charles paced the living room in agitation. He paused on occasion to look out the front window, across the yard, toward the road. Night had fallen in The Realms over an hour ago and Saul was still not home.

Brela sat at the dining room table, her hand wrapped around a mug of tea that had long since grown cold.

“I should go after him,” Charles mumbled.

“He’s clever. He’s probably decided to stay with someone for the night.”

Charles let the curtain he had pulled aside fall and turned back toward Brelar. “Probably.” He really didn’t want to leave the house. He wasn’t afraid of the vamps. They would be fools to try an assault on his home, but left unprotected, his family could be overrun by some thugs Raven hired to do his dirty work for him.

The satyr put Simone to bed hours ago and Charles closed Azur up safely for the night. It was just the two of them left to worry if Saul was holdup somewhere or lying dead in a ditch.

“Let me make you a cup of tea,” Brela offered. “I’m going to make me another. Mine’s gone cold.”

She jumped up from the table as Charles came to sit down. The water was already simmering at the back of the stove. She spooned out some lose tea into a teapot, added the water and brought it to the table. As an afterthought she turned back toward the cupboard and placed cookies on a plate. She sighed silently before she turned. These were Saul’s favorites. He had a sweet tooth and always loved her chocolate chip cookies. She hoped nothing had happened to him. He was clever, but he wasn’t as agile or strong as he was prior to the mauling.

She put the plate on the table and before she sat, she leaned over to pour the tea for Charles. Her ears pricked when she heard the latch on the door lifted.

“Saul!”

Charles jumped to his feet.

Saul was overwhelmed by his greeting upon arriving home. Brela spilled tea and knocked over a chair to run to him and throw her arms around his waist. Charles’ look of relief made Saul feel guilt. He hadn’t meant to worry his friends so. He wanted to make sure Jarid and Justin got home safely. He secretly trailed them back to their house which had made him horribly late getting home.

“I’m sorry I worried you both,” he apologized. “I have a lot to tell you.”

“Sit,” Charles said, as he sunk back onto his own chair, the tension draining from him.

Brela hurried to get another mug and sat down across from Saul with Charles at the head of the table.

Saul grabbed up a couple of cookies and shoved them in his mouth in rapid succession. “You made my favorite.”

“You want me to warm up some dinner?” she asked, eyeing the quickly diminishing stack of cookies.

“That would be nice,” he answered, as he stuffed another cookie in his mouth.

Saul hadn’t realized how hungry he was. He really hadn’t had time. He was too scared after what happened at the gate.

Charles sipped at his tea. It warmed him and the sight of his friend, safely back under his roof did even more for him. “I saw the flyers on the way home. I thought you were ahead of me and you would be waiting when I got here. The meeting with Raven did not go well. The potion isn’t working for the vamps as it does for the humans. He lost some more of his coven members.”

“And the vamps are getting desperate for untainted blood,” Saul said around a mouth full of cookie. “I got to thinking that we should warn folks coming in from the mundane world, so I bypassed the house earlier this evening and went to see if I could get Remy to hand out the flyers as humans came back in.” Saul washed down the cookie with a swig of hot tea. “I was there when two teenagers came through.” He paused and took another gulp out of his mug. Just the thought of what Remy did, and how fast he did it, made his hackles rise.

Charles and Brela watched as Saul’s green eyes narrowed and his fur lifted turning him into a fluff ball.

“What happened,” Brela tentatively asked. If the mere thought of it instilled this reaction in Saul, it must have been bad.

“Four vamps were waiting. They were hungry.”

Brela threw a hand over her mouth. “Oh, no!”

“They didn’t get to them,” Saul quickly assured them. “Remy got to the vamps first.”

“He scared them off?” Charles said in disbelief. The vampire was older and bigger than most, but four vampires, no matter their age was a lot to contend with.

Saul chuckled, releasing the pent up anxiety he was holding. His coat flattened back in place. “Scared them? Nah…he ashed them.”

“Remy?” Charles had a hard time believing the slow, gentle creature he knew as the Willow Gatekeeper had turned killer, and…of his own kind.

“Yep,” Saul confirmed. “I don’t ever what to be on that guy’s bad side.” Saul lowered his voice an octave. “He said, ‘no innocent dies at my gate.’ He shooed the boys home. I followed to make sure they made it alright. That’s what made me late.”

Brela brought the warmed meal to the table. They all sat quietly for a time in thought as Saul ate.

It was Brela who broke the silence. “What are we going to do? Do we just hide until all the vamps die off?”

“I wish it were that simple.” Charles rolled his mug between his hands. “Raven will find another way to rid his land of the infected humans. He has other minions at his disposal. In the meantime, he is liable to send his coven members to other areas of The Realms to hunt. They all know the gates. This could spread and totally upset the balance of power in The Realms. We have to find a way to cure the vamps and permanently, so there will be no need for the wholesale slaughter of the humans in the area.”

Saul pushed is empty plate to one side and propped his elbows on the table. “And have you thought of how to go about that?”

Charles slid his chair back and stood up. “I need to talk to Azur.”

*****

“I have to see them,” Azur repeated once again.

She and Charles had been arguing about her insisting she had to see the sick vampires. In order to determine what she needed to adjust in the potion she had to see their symptoms.

Charles was continuing his pacing downstairs. He didn’t even break stride. “I have told you, going in among the vamps is not an option.”

“Then bring one of them here,” Azur suggested.

“Not in my house.” Charles stopped and turned on his wife. “Isn’t my description enough?”

Azur stood with her arms crossed, fire licking higher on her horns. “Did you touch them? Did they have a fever? In addition to the open sours, did they have lumps or swollen glands?”

Charles shook his head. “No… and I don’t know.”

Azur walked up to him and placed a hand on his chest. His aura flared to protect him from her fire. “I need to see them or we will never put a stop to all this.”

Charles let out a deep sigh of defeat. “We’ll go during the day so there will be less of them to deal with.”

Next week, the conclusion of "Threat of the Fire Demon"


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