Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem (WIP)

Chapter One

I sliced an uneven line across Darla’s neck with the silver blade from my wrist-mount to let her father know I was serious about cutting her. A thin line of warm blood trickled down her throat to her naked body. Grimes snarled, but hesitated, his long abnormal fingernails and fangs retracted. His red menacing eyes reverted to lifeless gray. As the dark brown fur slowly faded back into his skin, he shrank several feet returning to his natural six-four height.

Grimes, naked and fully human, did not bother to hide his manhood, staring at me as if I was the one wrongly dressed for our confrontation. “You are bluffing, Moon. You would not kill my daughter in cold blood,” he said not sounding entirely convinced of his words.

 Darla snarled under my grasp, like a wild animal and said, “He’s weak, father! Kill him now!”

“Make one move, Grimes and I’ll take off her head. Trust me, I don’t bluff,” I said as confident as I could.

“That’s not exactly true, sir. Since my association with you, you have indeed deceived your way out of five precarious situations,” Mosley said deadpan while in his holographic Idris Elba form.

Grimes, Darla and I slowly turned our gaze to the hologram. “You’re not supposed to let the bad guys know you might be bluffing, Mosley. Sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?” I scolded.

He winced apologetically and then his image disappeared.

Grimes was smiling, his teeth elongating.

I gritted my teeth. “Despite what my blabbermouth friend said, I will cut her throat!”

Something in my expression or body language told him I was speaking the truth, because his teeth were humanlike again. “You dare call my daughter and me bad guys, when it was you and your conjurer friend that broke into my home in a pitiful attempt to rob me!”

Can you believe this guy? “You’re just going to skate over the fact that, in the midst our pitiful attempt at robbery, Gully and I saved the lives of a family you and your darling princess here, were about to make a meal of. Here’s a tidbit of information for you. Eating innocent folks definitely makes you and Darla the bad guys.”

Darla squirmed in my grip. I pressed the silver blade tighter against her neck. “Play nice,” I whispered into her ear.

“We have to eat,” she said as if that justified everything.

“That’s why the world has meat sections in supermarkets, princess. You and I both know it’s not a prerequisite to feed on human flesh. Raw meat is all you need to survive.”

“We are predators. We hunt for our food,” Grimes huffed. “You have no right to be here--no right to take our prey!”

“You’re only half right, buddy,” I retorted. “I don’t have any legal right to invade your home. But I do have a moral one. I need something from you. Not to keep, only to borrow,” I said trying to get some control over the situation.

Grimes stood ramrod straight and folded his arms together. “You are joking, correct? My daughter is your prisoner and you expect me to let you borrow something from my home?”

“Kill him, father,” Darla yelled.

I lifted the flat of the blade scratching off a thin layer of skin from her neck and gave her a solid tapped underneath her chin. “Will you shut the hell up? Grown folks are talking here.” Too late, I realized, I went too far with her.

Darla went into full animal state in an instant, growing two feet in height, hair covering her entire body, two inch fangs and long fingernails as sharp and strong as the finest steel knives. She threw her head back, slamming it hard against mine, forcing me to release her. I reeled back several steps, my vision an explosion of colors. I swung my blade wide and wild to make sure they couldn’t get close while I tried to regain focus. I could have used Gully right then and there, but he was busy getting that family Grimes and Darla were planning to eat to safety.

By the time my vision cleared, I saw that they had moved away to a safe distance. Both father and daughter were full werewolves and drooling hungrily at me. Standing side-by-side, they looked at each other and then spoke in a series of grunts and growls, apparently debating who would get the first chunk of my flesh. Grimes took a step back, letting Darla take the lead--they made their choice. I glanced over my shoulder, weighing what my chances would be if I took off at a sprint down the corridor. There were no doors and no turns, at least not until I ran down the long stretch, about thirty yards.

I would never make it. If I turned away to run, Darla would be on top of me before I took three steps, biting and clawing into my back. My pistols were already emptied from our earlier fighting, though I had spare magazines, I’d never have time to reload. Planting my feet into a defensive posture, I was left with one choice, to fight. One thing was in my favor--they decided to come at me one at a time.

Darla let out what I guessed was a laugh as she started toward me. She leapt to her left. Her paws pounded heavily against the left wall, then launched herself to the wall on the opposite side. She bounded back and forth across the walls in a zigzag so fast that she was almost a blur, in an attempt to confuse me. I didn’t focus on her movements; it would have been impossible to track her that way. Instead I listened to the timing of her paws as they made contact on the hard surface.

In my head, I counted down, three-two-one. Dropping to one knee, I sliced my blade across the air above me. A dark shadow passed overhead at the same time. A gush of warm air and the smell of fouled breath brushed against my face. An incredible weight fell on top of me. Darla and I went barrel rolling down the corridor. Her body stopped its momentum before mine. I continued another few feet landing on my back. Dizzy and aching, I lifted my head and tried to get my bearings.

Darla was sprawled on the floor, holding her jaw together. Blood and spit spilled out. My strike wasn’t a killing blow, but I nearly separated her head. Darla’s supernatural restoration ability would eventually heal the wound. For the meantime, she would be out of the fight. Scrambling to my way to my feet, I noticed my tumble had shortened the distance to the end of the corridor. An anguished howl came from her father, now charging down the hallway. Leaping over Darla, Grimes made a beeline for me.

I turned and ran. Unlike Darla, her father wouldn’t be nearly as easy to subdue. He had a thousand years of fighting in armies throughout history, wasn’t as headstrong as her, and a habit of never underestimating his enemies. I made it to the end of the hall and turn a sharp left. There were antique tables, vases and artwork adorning the walls. Retracting my blade, I pushed over anything I could get my hands on to slow him down. It didn’t work out as I planned, rather than duck and weave through the mayhem; he barreled through them as if there were no obstructions.

I retrieved a magazine from my pocket and inserted it into my pistol. All the rounds were silver. Stopping my run, I whirled around raising my weapon to shoot. There was nothing behind me but smashed furniture and artwork. Grimes had disappeared. Cursing under my breath, I knew he could attack from any direction. Grimes’ castle probably had a network of secret passages running from every room and corridor. No matter which way I went, I was likely to run into an ambush.

The best maneuver would be to stay where I was and try to find a way out of his little mousetrap. “Mosley, I need you,” I whispered, though I might as well have spoke with a bullhorn, knowing Grimes’ enhanced hearing in his wolf state could detect a pin drop a mile away.

“Is that absolutely necessary, sir? I mean, can’t you do this alone?” Mosley answered.

“Do we really need to have this conversation you crazy computer. Of course it’s necessary, otherwise I wouldn’t be asking for you,” I said frantically watching for an attack.

He let out a synthesized exhaustive breath. “Very well, sir.” Mosley appeared beside me. “How may I be of service?”

“Give me an overlay of the castle’s interior and then point out any heat signatures other than my own.”

 Mosley’s form changed from Idris Elba to a three dimensional map. Red blips indicated Grimes and his daughter. Darla remained where I had left her, but her father was quickly circling around to get ahead of me, if I continued down the hallway. I was about to turn in the opposite direction, heading back toward Darla when more red blips appeared on the first level of the castle.

I pointed to the new blips. “Are there any cameras on that level you can tap into for a visual?” I asked.

“Wait one moment, sir.” The overlay faded for several seconds and then was replaced with a visual of the first floor.

My heart pounded in my chest. Things had just gone from bad to a hell of a lot worse. Entering the castle like they’d been invited to an-all-you-can-eat dinner were a dozen or so large werewolves. They were headed up the front and rear stairways, and using all the elevators. That howl earlier from Grimes wasn’t anguished over his injured daughter as I had thought. It was a call for help.

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