Well, there was one good thing about this bizzare vampire ritual. They’d killed one of their own as part of it. Eight to take down, including the boss vampire. Erik looked over to Veronica. His sorceress watched the ritual with terrified eyes, which was not a good thing in Erik’s book. Whatever was happening, it held the vampires’ rapt attention. Veronica shot a warning glare at Erik. It must have hit the point Nao had told them about. Time to see if this tossed together plan was going to work.

The basement shook and Erik was deafened as Veronica released the sound spell she’d been building in her mind. Erik felt hot brass hit him as Nigel and John turned their suppressed MP5’s on the two vampires next to them. Erik was already moving. The plastic zip-ties around Erik’s and Kurt’s wrists fell apart with the softest touch of his power. Erik concentrated on the hilt of Far’ling at Nao’s waist. In one smooth pull, the sword sailed across the basement into his waiting hand.

Stumpy materialized next to Erik. The metal claws the vampire had instead of hands lanced out at Erik, but bounced harmlessly off of the invisible shield. Erik dropped the shield for an instant to thrust the elven sword into Stumpy’s chest. The vampire didn’t even scream as he flashed in flame. Erik was turning to fight the next vampire as Stumpy’s ashes swirled around him.

The vampire punched at Erik’s shield. A shotgun blast reduced the vampire to ash before Erik could attack. Kurt must have freed Jason and the others already. Erik didn’t bother looking over. He had to trust his team to do their jobs. With vampires, hesitation was death.


The explosion of sound was an annoyance. Anne was busy examining the bindings David was doing. By teasing the faint streams of wild magic in the basement, Anne could see through the stainless steel of the bowl David was using to purify her blood. She could pick out her blood in the mix of vampire blood and amplification substances. It glowed with its own unique – frequency? That was the only word that came to Anne’s mind as she watched David pour the streams of bound magic into the bowl. Some of her blood stopped glowing. It looked like the vampire blood, but warmer? Damn, magic was hard to put into words. So, this was what her cousin felt when trying to explain particle physics to her last Christmas. Then, Anne realized what she was seeing. The ritual changed the frequency of her blood into something that vampires could not only consume, but would boost the magic they pulled out of it. Okay, so now how was she going to stop it?

David was directing the flows of wild magic for the ritual. What if he wasn’t the one directing? Anne felt the magic binding her to the ritual. It was strong, probably the strongest that David could throw with all of the amplification from the candles and whatever he’d thrown into the mix. Except, he was only calling on a few of the streams of wild magic running through the basement. Of, they were the strongest of the streams, but without that annoying block in her mind removed, Anne could see so many more. Each was a faint whisp compared to the streams used by David, but combined? Anne teased the faint streams into a new binding and lashed it to the stream running from her to the ritual. Instantly, the flows reversed.

“What?” David screamed, barely audible over the gunfire now filling the basement. He pushed against Anne as she claimed the streams of magic around the ritual. It was kind of pathetic actually. Anne easily batted down his few attempts to reassert control of the ritual. It was hers – and she could see how the bindings were working together. She tugged at the knots, unraveling some, while subtly changing others.

The grazda screamed in pain and horror as the ritual’s streams of bound magic attached to the nearest vampire. He wanted to suck all of the magic out of her blood, so Anne made him feel what it was like. Anne watched the red glow of the vampire’s magic ripped itself out of the grazda‘s body to join with the magic of the ritual. Anne barely saw the withered corpse fall to the ground. She was too busy to see what other vampire she could destroy with this bound magic.

Anne, stop, Veronica said over the telepathic link. How are you holding that much magic?

I don’t know, Anne answered, The block is gone, and all of the sudden– As soon as she thought the words, Anne’s block slammed back down. The magic that seemed so easy to control was now flooding through her uncontrollably. Anne screamed in agony as the magic of the ritual burned her mind.

Dump the power! Veronica screamed into Anne’s mind.

Where? Anne asked.

Anywhere! Veronica answered. Anne felt around the streams, looking where she could dump the excess. She felt the prodding of David attempting to take control of the ritual. More from instinct than any conscious thought, Anne grabbed hold of David’s small stream and forced through all of the magic she was holding. Anne thought she heard someone screaming. Then, the world went black.

A small prick woke Anne. A man dressed in SWAT gear kneeling next to her finished inserting the IV. Anne swiveled her head as the SWAT guy handed the bag off to Kurt.

“It would do me good if you would try to stop nearly killing yourself during these little fights,” Kurt said. The worried look in his eyes belied his light tone. Anne have him a weak smile.

“Who?” Anne asked as she realized the basement was crawling with SWAT-looking guys.

“Jason’s people,” Veronica answered, kneeling next to Anne. Veronica took a look at the IV and shook her head dismissively. Veronica’s fingers danced around Anne’s body while she spoke some elven words in a low tone.

“I can’t feel the wild magic,” Anne said, in shocked sudden realization. “What did I do to myself?”

“Nothing,” Veronica said, a bit coldly. “You burned out the streams around us with the amount of magic you drew and dumped.” Veronica gave Anne a hard look. “Your own magic is depleted, but not burned out, which is to say the very least, surprising. At any rate, you should start feeling something in a few hours. Now, I have to go help Erik and Samantha see if they kind find Nao.”

“She escaped?” Anne said, trying to sit up. Kurt laid a gentle, but firm hand on her shoulder.

“Yeah, and Erik’s pissed,” Veronica answered.

“Alone at last,” Kurt said, softly as Anne laid back down. She chuckled because laughing hurt for some reason. Anne reached up and stroked his face.

“Hey, Kurt, when we get out of here, do you want to go to the Mia Gold concert?” Anne asked.