Chapter 4 .

Lily

The three men in front of Alvina just looked like men.  They had been called tricksters, something other than human.  It was obvious with the vampires that they were something different.  Werewolves were less obvious when they were in their human form, but there were times when it was obvious with them.  Their wolf forms were obviously not human, but there were other subtleties like when just their eyes changed color.  It was because I watched these three so carefully amid the chaos around as vampires took down human men and incapacitated them that I noticed the strange shadows that moved across the tricksters’ cheeks.  It was night.  It was dark.  There were fires around the camp, but these shadows on the tricksters’ faces moved against the movements of the light.  They moved when there was no light.  The next change was not so subtle.  Their eyes changed from brown to a glowing yellow that flashed in the darkness.

Jin led Alex away from us.  They went into the chaos towards the women and children across the camp that were still tied up.

“If those are our only options,” the leader of the tricksters said in a tone that completely belied the command quality he had when ordering the men.  Instead of the commanding tone there was amusement, “then we’ll choose to live and fight the venefici with you.  If you don’t mind me asking, what have the venefici done to incur your wrath?”

“I’ve been told,” Alvina said as her eyes flashed to me.  I went rigid under not only her eyes but the three tricksters as they looked to me.  Darren and Maria both took my gloved hands in theirs to give me strength, “that the venefici are the cause of the zombies.”  Her eyes turned back to the tricksters.  The tricksters’ eyes lingered on me before focusing on Alvina.  “Not only are they stealing human souls, they’ve grown powerful enough to steal the souls of those that are only partly human like the weres.”

The leader trickster raised an eyebrow at this and the shadows shifted over his face again.  My eyes began to wander over the chaos as men tried to run and vampires quickly overpowered them and bit into necks.  It didn’t seem like the vampires were killing anyone, just drinking from them.  Jin and Alex were untying the women and children.  I could tell they were trying to calm them, but I wasn’t sure they were succeeding.

Grant had gone limp as the vampire that had bitten Darren not that long ago now bit into Grant’s neck.  Grant’s dad turned to run away, but the vampire that had originally bitten Hunter easily caught up to him.  She held him close to her and bit into his neck.  The vampire that bit Grant let him go.  Grant slid to the ground.  His eyes were closed and he didn’t move, but he was breathing and the wounds on his neck already healed.

“That is troubling,” the trickster said, bringing my focus back to them.  “Venefici aren’t known for working together though.  At least not for long.  This will be the same.”

“Do you really think all the venefici across the world agreed to work together, turn humans into zombies, get enough power to increase that reach to partially human beings to only let that all go?” Alvina asked.  “No.  They want to rule all of us and they are on their way to succeeding.”

“I see,” the trickster said.  “And do you think we can take them all on by ourselves?”  The amusement was still in his voice.  The corner of his mouth turned up into a smirk.

“Of course not,” Alvina said.  “The werewolves are going to join us.  And I’m sure we are not the only ones in the world to figure it out.  There have to be uprisings already throughout the world.  We’ll start with the nearest venefici.”  She turned to me.  “Where is that?”

It took my terrified mind a moment to process what she said.  Darren’s and Maria’s hands were still in mine.  That gave me the strength I needed.  “We already took care of the one closest to us,” I said.  “But we did see one setup at the high school in our hometown as we were leaving.” 

Alvina turned her attention back to the tricksters.  “See, we shall go there after the werewolves join us.”

“The Lunar Eclipse Wolf Pack won’t let you get close to their territory,” the trickster.

“True,” Alvina said.  “But we have these humans and they have already been to the wolf pack.  And this one,” she said as her eyes turned back to me.  I suppressed a shudder, “can be rather convincing.”

“Alright,” the trickster said.  “We are with you.”

“Good, then what shall we call you?”

“George,” the leader trickster said.

“Bob.”

“Joe.”  The other two tricksters said.

Alvina frowned.

The leader trickster sighed.  “Fine.”  He waved at the other two.

“Raven,” the one who had introduced himself as Bob said.

“Hare,” the one who had introduced himself as Joe said.

“And I am Coyote,” the trickster said.

Alvina raised an eyebrow at this.  

“Not THE Coyote,” Coyote said.  “Just Coyote.”

“I see,” Alvina said.  “I am Alvina, which I assume you already know.”  Coyote nodded his head at this.  “My brood will use your humans as sustenance.  I assume you don’t have a problem with this.”

“Of course not,” Coyote said.  “You can have them.  We were bored and just using them for entertainment anyway.”

The chaos around us had mostly died down.  All of the humans had been subdued or fed upon.  Alvina’s brood relaxed content all around us.  I noticed the rest of our group had joined Jin and Alex with the women and children they had just freed.  Hunter was now awake and standing on his own though he still seemed weak.  I wondered how long he had been awake.

“Then we have an alliance,” Alvina said.  “We’ll stay here tonight and move out in the morning.”  She moved past them and headed towards where Jin and the others were.  Her back was turned so she didn’t see the way the tricksters’ expressions changed.  Their expressions were dark.  Their yellow glowing eyes focused with menace on the back of her head.  The shadows suddenly moved quickly over their faces before they slowed.  

Coyote turned his eyes to me.  A slow smile crept to his lips and a shiver ran down my spine.  I never thought it would be easier out there amongst the zombies, but now being surrounded by these vampires and these mysterious tricksters I wished my little group was out there just surviving the zombies again.

“You are going to be chaos,” Coyote said to me.  “This is going to be fun.”  Then he turned and walked away from us.  The other two tricksters followed him.

I looked at Darren and then Maria, but neither of them had answers for me.  “We should go join the others,” Maria said.  Darren and I nodded and together the three of us made our way across the camp to where Alvina spoke to Jin and Gunnor.

“Now is the time,” Alvina said to Jin as we came up.  “Let him have his first taste of blood as a vampire/werewolf hybrid.”  It didn’t sound like a suggestion.  It was a command.

Jin frowned, but turned away from all of us as he faced the group of women they had untied.  

“Are you guys alright?” Hunter whispered as he came to stand next to us.

I nodded.  “Are you?”

“Yeah,” he said.  “I should probably eat something though.” 

I knew he hadn’t said that for me to feed him, but I pulled out a bag of trail mix from my bag and handed it to him anyway.  He gave me a weak smile and took the trail mix. 

Jin didn’t say anything as he focused on one of the women.  Her eyes that held terror moments before went calm.  The tightness in her body eased away.  Jin waved Alex over.  There was only the slightest bit of hesitation before Alex went to stand beside him. 

“When will I know to stop?” Alex asked.  

I didn’t see Gunnor move, but he was now standing next to them.  “We will tell you,” he said.

“What are you doing?” one of the women asked.  “Leave her alone.”

“It’s alright,” Jin said and held up a hand to the rest of the women and children.  They immediately relaxed as his charm swept through them.  No one protested as Alex lifted the woman’s hand and brushed back the sleeve of her coat.  His eyes turned red and his canines elongated.  He bit into her wrist.  Gunnor watched him closely – and so did Alvina – while Jin kept the women and children under his influence.

“Now,” Gunnor said and tapped Alex on the shoulder.  Alex immediately released the woman’s wrist.  Two punctures on her wrist oozed blood.  The woman didn’t react in any way other than to stare at Jin in a strange, pleasant daze.  Gunnor lifted her wrist and licked her wounds.  The puncture wounds immediately began to close.

“Good,” Jin said.  Those he charmed blinked as they came out of their daze, but still none of them protested what had just been done.  Then he turned to face Alvina.

Alvina merely smiled before she left us and walked back to join her brood.  As soon as she was gone, Mackenzie and Tanner immediately wrapped me in a hug. 

“Are you alright?” Mackenzie asked.

“Yes,” I said and ran my hand along the top of her head before I pulled the hood of her coat up over her.  “Are you guys alright?”

“Yes,” Tanner said.

We startled as a wolf howl rang in the distance.  It was joined by a second one.  Alex immediately shifted to his wolf form.  His eyes were now the light blue of his wolf.  He lifted his head towards the night sky and howled in return.  I didn’t know what it meant, but there were no more wolf howls that night and Alex seemed strangely content.

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