I walked downstairs and found Drake and Jazz playing foosball. “Who’s winning?”
“I am,” Drake said just as Jasmine scored a goal.
“Correction, I am,” she smiled.
I laughed as I watched these fierce competitors fight for foosball supremacy.
“One more point and it’s game over!” she taunted blocking his attempts.
“Watch it, watch it, watch it, SCORE!” she yelled raising her hands in victory. “It was a valiant attempt, sir,” she laughed.
Drake pouted. I walked over and kissed him. “Don’t be sad, handsome, she said you were valiant.”
He smiled, his hands draped around my waist and his fingers trailed the small of my back. He kissed me again. “I love you Mrs. Steele.”
“And I love you Mr. Steele.”
“Ahem,” Jazz cleared her throat. I turned to look at her. “Think we can go to the aquarium you mentioned before?”
“Certainly, Jazzy. I’ll go get ready.” Drake slapped my ass as I headed for the stairs. I turned and smiled at him.
I met him and Jazz on the porch.
Drake ran out and pulled the car up for us and we ran out and hopped in.
He drove us to Wetlands Wildlife Aquarium. We made our way to the booth and bought tickets to the main attraction.
Inside we walked around checking out the dolphins, orcas, stingrays and other aquatic displays.
Jasmine ran from one aquarium to the next reading the accompanying plaques with wide eyed amazement.
“This is cool. I love animals! Do you think they hate it here?”
“Well, that all depends. If they were born in captivity, that’s all they know. For those, I think they are fine; they are happy because they don’t know another life. For the ones taken out of the wild and placed in these small water cages, I think they are miserable; trapped inside with tons of people piling in staring at them on a daily basis; taking joy in their pain,” I replied. “It’s a cruel existence.”
Drake wrapped his arms around me and kissed my neck. “I think they can find solace in the company of the others like them; kindred spirits and all.”
“The show is starting soon, let’s get some good seats!”
“Do you want anything to snack on?” Drake asked, her eyes got wider and she ran to the concession stand. “I’ll take that as a yes,” he smiled.
We walked up behind her as she was placing her order for popcorn, nachos, coke and candy.
I think we treat her to too much junk. I looked at him.
These are staple foods for teenagers. Besides, she lives at a circus, I’m sure she eats like this at home. Plus, she is going home tonight, might as well let her enjoy her visit. He rubbed my arm as we waited on Jazz to finish placing her order. I turned to him and wrapped my arms around his neck. “I love you.”
We helped her carry her treats to our seats and watched as the performers prepared the animals for the show.
“This is going to be great,” she said popping kernels into her mouth.
The divers prepared the orcas and we watched as they dove in and out of the tank, grabbing fish from the trainers and hopping through hoops.
The show was amazing! Some of the tricks these large aquatic animals performed were just magnificent. At the end of the show, the audience dispersed to the tank to get autographs and thank the trainers for a well planned performance.
“Did you enjoy it?” I asked Jazz as we made our way to the car.
“Oh absolutely! It was wonderful, Zoe! Thank you both! I’ve had such a great time out here with you. I almost don’t want to go home,” she smiled.
“Well you can come visit anytime you want,” Drake offered. “We love having you here.”
I agreed and climbed into the passenger seat. Drake drove us home and as we were pulling up to the house, we noticed a fire engine blocking the street.
“Wow, I wonder what happened here,” I said watching the men bravely fight the fire blazing at the neighbors.
The house was reduced to ashes once the fire was completely extinguished. “No survivors,” one of the firemen said as he walked out towards his Engine.
“Oh how sad,” Jasmine said watching the scene.
Drake and I never really met them but I’m sure they were great people. We waited until the Firefighters had cleared the area before walking inside. As I neared the door, I heard the hysterical cries of a kitten.
“Here kitty, kitty,” Jasmine said looking around for the source of the meows. Just under the porch she found a small black cat stretching in attack mode as she reached her hand to grab her.
“You poor thing,” she said picking it up. “Where is your Mommy?”
She walked the kitten into the house and grabbed her a saucer of milk. The kitten happily lapped up the offering and stroked her head on Jasmine’s leg as a sign of gratitude.
“Can I keep her?” she asked with pleading eyes.
“Jazz, that’s not for us to say. Maybe you should call your Dad and check with him,” I suggested watching the cat beg as well as if she knew what question was being asked.
Jasmine pulled out her phone and quickly dialed her Dad’s number. He didn’t answer, but she left him a message. “I’m sure he’ll say yes!” she smiled picking the cat up and petting her. “I think I’ll name her Buttons.”
“Buttons?” I inquired; Jazz simply shook her head.
She walked her to the living room and watched as the cat anxiously paced and hissed trying to communicate her agitation.
“What’s gotten into her?” Jasmine asked.
I walked over to check her for injuries, and the cat stood into the shape of a naked woman. I jumped back alarmed. We all watched as she completely shifted forms.
Drake ran and grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her. She looked at us nervously before taking a seat on the couch.
“Who…?” I started.
“My name is Tabitha. I’m a witch’s familiar,” she said before the question was complete.
“What are you doing here?”
“My witch was attacked by someone. They took her and I was able to track her to the city before the trail went cold. I know of you from previous interactions by my Matron at the Eve. I know it’s really intrusive of me to come here, but I didn’t know where else to turn. Can you help?”
I looked at Drake gauging his reaction to her story. My thoughts immediately went to Vincent’s story about Zavier and how he collects witches. “Do you know who attacked her?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
She shook her head no. “He was tall, though I guess everyone is from my point of view. He had a metal finger and glowing eyes, kind of like yours only blue.”
I nodded as I listened to her confirm my suspicions, “Zavier,” I said aloud.
“Zavier? That’s what she called him! Who is this person? And why did he take her?”
“Zavier Kayne is a vampire, or rather THE vampire, the first ever created. For as long as anyone can remember he has been on a quest for ultimate power. He steals witches, talisman, anything or anyone he can get his hands on to collect their magic.”
I stood to find her something to wear.
“What is he going to do to her?”
I rubbed my neck thinking about the torture chamber. I advised against mentioning it to Tabitha though, I didn’t want to upset her more. “What types of magic does your Matron do?”
“Mostly elemental incantations; she can summon the four corners and shift the Earth’s weather at will. She can also create portals to other realms, though she hasn’t done such in quite some time.”
I walked up the stairs as Drake continued to question Tabitha to grab her a change of clothes. As I neared my bedroom door, I felt a huge pain in my temple. “DRAKE!?!” I yelled. “He’s coming!”
Drake was immediately at my side as I began to dizzy from Zavier’s summons.
He grabbed me as I was about to fall and carried me to the bed. I sat on the edge trying to get passed the pain in my head. “Why hasn’t he pulled you yet? What is he doing?”
“I don’t know,” I shrieked as the agonizing throbbing continued. Finally it subsided. I got to my feet as Zavier pulled me to him.
“There she is!” he said as the room came into focus. We were once again in the torture chamber. Behind him lay the prone body of who I could only assume to be Tabitha’s Matron.
“Why the pain, Zavier? You could have just pulled me!” I questioned. My distress made him smile.
“I could have, but where’s the fun in that?” he mocked. “I need you to drain her magic for me.”
I looked over at her. He had beaten and tortured her to the point of death. My heart ached as I felt the pangs of sympathy for the brutality he’d inflicted on her human body. She’d not heal as quickly, if that was his wish. And judging from the viciousness of many of her wounds, I assumed he would have her die once he got what he wanted.
“I need supplies; my grimoire and another witch to perform that task, Zavier. I’ve never done so on my own before.”
“Get what you need, Zoe and get back here pronto. My time is precious and I am steadily losing patience with you!”
The way he sent me back to the surface indeed showed his annoyance. I landed hard against the wall in the living room, banging my head with a loud thud against the baseboard.
“Zoe?” Drake ran to me, “Are you ok?”
“I’ll live,” I said. “I’m not so sure the same can be said about…” I stopped myself before completing the thought. Tabitha looked at me through sad eyes knowing what my last words would be and I immediately regretted the mentioning and kicked myself for the thoughtlessness.
“He’s killing her?” she asked.
“He’s tortured her to the point of death. He wants me to drain her magic before he kills her. He sent me back to get supplies. I bought us a little time, though I don’t know how much.”
“What are we going to do?” Tabitha moaned. Her face fell to her hands as she shuddered in tears.
“First we have to get to my magic room to gather up supplies,” I said heading towards the door. Drake, Jasmine and Tabitha followed. We arrived shortly and gathered in the room.
“Zoe, what if he tries looking for you again? The head thing?”
“I’ll be fine. Since the Walk, I’ve been able to combat most of what he throws at me. It hurts like hell, but it doesn’t have his desired affect; besides, we really need to come up with a plan and this is the only place we can speak freely.”
“Are you going to use your source, Zoe?”
“No Drake, I can’t. If I do, he’ll know. I don’t want him to know that I’ve tried tapping into it; there’s no telling what he’d ask of me at that point. What I want is for you to contact Teresa and see what we can do short of using the source. I’m going to check the grimoire for anything useful.”
I sat at the table and began reading; Jasmine joined me with her family’s book in hand. “My book may help also,” she smiled. We went through each spell, curse, hex and enchant and didn’t find anything helpful other than a protection spell which I’d considered useless considering she was already at his mercy.
“Great, thanks Teresa!” I heard Drake say as he ended his call.
I walked over to him.
“Remember the thing I told you about the Spell for Ultimate Power?”
“Yes, you said clans can combine powers to rid themselves of threats. But Drake, you also as I recall said it takes a lot of magic! That may mean…”
“Tapping into the source, yes, but according to Teresa, that’s the only thing we can do at this point.”
“No…it won’t work,” I said remembering something Zavier had told me. “The room, the torture chamber, is protected. You can’t cast spells for anyone or anything in it. I tried when he took me there; I was unable to do anything.”
“Then we have to get her out of the room before we can try the spell.”
I nodded. “Easier said than done.”
“Still moping?” Sarah asked walking into Vincent’s bedroom and pulling open the blinds. “I know sunlight is bad for us, but you could use a little right about now.”
“What the hell do you want, Sarah?” he asked standing and shutting the blinds again.
He walked over and took Vanessa from her arms and played with her. Right now, she was the only thing that made him smile; his precious little girl. She was starting to grow rapidly and he was amazed at how even more beautiful she was becoming.
“I’m going out. I just wanted to make sure Vanessa would be fine here with you. You haven’t exactly been ‘Mr. Fun to be Around’ lately. I wanted to ensure that what you’re going through…”
“What I’m going through would never affect my daughter. Just go, Sarah. I can handle her,” he ordered as she left his room.
Vanessa giggled and handed him her teddy. It was her favorite toy and she wanted to share the happiness it gave her with her Dad. “Thank you Angel,” he smiled sitting with her. He played with her a little before she snatched her teddy back. He laughed as he watched her play.
His thoughts were on Zo and her recent marriage. It had been 4 days since his dream girl said “I do” to Drake. He kicked himself for not trying harder. The ring on her finger should have been from me, he thought.
“And it could have been, still can,” Zavier said standing behind him.
“What are you doing here?” Vincent asked standing. “Whatever you had planned obviously failed, just back off now. I can’t help you; neither of us will get what we want.”
“Vincent!” Zavier growled as he threw him against the wall. “I’m never a man to lose. I always get what I want! Now you are going to stick to the plan and do as I told you and make me happy!”
“Otherwise,” he walked over, picked Vanessa up and stroked a blade of her hair, “Your sorrow will increase tenfold!”
“Stay the fuck away from her!” Vincent yelled charging at him. Zavier sidestepped his advances and laughed menacingly as he landed hard across the room.
“I’ll give you until the end of the day to follow through with the first part.” He stood over him. “I hate having to threaten you, Vincent. You are really the closest thing I’ve ever had to actual family, but again, I don’t lose and I won’t let you mess things up! I’ve come too fucking far to stop now!”
He placed Vanessa on the ground next to him. “Uncle Zavier will see you later,” he said kissing her forehead. “Get to work Vincent; the sooner you start the quicker Zoe will be in your bed caressing your hard spots.”
“I have to get back before Zavier starts to miss me,” I said walking towards the door. “I’ll try and stall as best I can, contact Teresa again and let her know what I said about the room. There may be a way around it and hopefully she can help find it!”
I walked outside and zoned back into Zavier’s torture room. He wasn’t around, but the witch was huddled in a corner crying in pain. I approached her.
“What’s your name?” She flinched as I neared her. “Why do you care? You’re just going to kill me once you take my powers!”
“I’m not…” I leaned closer to her. “I’m a Vale. I’m not here to hurt you; I’m trying to figure a way out for the both of us. Tabitha came to us and told us what happened. Zavier is a very dangerous man; I’m just trying to tread lightly so he doesn’t revert back to torture. Trust me; I’ve been in your shoes.”
She glanced up at me and for the first time I could clearly see her face. The horrible cuts Zavier had placed within her flesh would surely leave a mark. I felt bad for her. “Here,” I said offering my hand. “Let me help you.”
“That’s not what you were sent for, Zoe! You’re here to help me!” Zavier said behind me. He stepped closer and grabbed my wrist and jerked me away.
“Did you get what you needed to start the spell?”
“I think so but…”
“Good! Get started.”
“I can’t, Zavier.”
He slapped me to show me he meant business. “I really hate those words, Zoe. Grab your shit and get started!”
“Have you forgotten the barrier on the room, Zavier? I can’t cast in here!” I replied.
He gave me a look of surprise as my words finally dawned on him. “Oh yeah,” he smirked. “You are absolutely right. How silly of me,” his voice had that pleasant tone again that I dreaded so much.
“We’ll move to a more common area.” He walked over and snatched the girl by the hair hard and yanked her to her feet. We entered the room where I’d summoned the Volatiles once before and he threw her into a cage.
“Now then,” he said stretching. “Make me David fucking Blaine!”
I sat the grimoire on the podium and placed the candles as needed. I felt his eyes on my every move, watching me as I gathered the ingredients to conjure his magic. “There’s still the matter of the 2nd witch,” I said after drawing the pentagram on the floor.
“Zoe, you don’t need another witch, you have all the magic you’ll need at the tip of your fingers!”
“I’ve never done this before, Zavier. I don’t know that I can without another.”
“What’s the worst that can happen? The witch dies? I was planning to kill her anyway!” He stepped achingly close to me, “Stop stalling and get a move on before she’s not the only one whose life hangs in the balance!”
I sighed and lit the candles. My only hope now was Teresa gathering the coven for the spell.
I started casting Drain magic on the beaten witch. I watched as my magic circled around her, choking the powers from her body. The lights sparkled above her as I felt her energy start to drain. I heard Zavier shriek from behind me as he watched.
I turned my gaze and saw a ball of light run through him. He fell to the ground clutching at his throat. It must be Teresa. She’s casting the magic on him. I instantly began undoing my cast on the witch as I watched Zavier crumple in a fetal position.
The magics I’d drained returned to their home within the witches’ family and I hurried to the cage to release her. He looked up at me and was back on his feet within seconds. I watched as the magic rolled off of him.
“What the hell was that?” he yelled. “You tried to double cross me, Zoe?” He ran over to the cage and grabbed the girl by the throat. “I warned you about that!”
“No! I didn’t do that! Maybe you should check your own backyard!” I hissed; lying through my teeth. “Zavier just let her go; we can try again, please.”
“Oh no, Zoe, I have other plans for you now. And her? Her blood is on your hands!” he said snapping her neck and tossing her lifeless body at my feet.
“No!” I stared in disbelief. Tears began rolling down my face as I gazed at the look of horror and shock frozen on the girls’ face. She suffered horribly before her demise. How did the spell not work?
Before I could analyze further, Zavier had me in his room again and was strapping the chains on my ankles.
He stopped abruptly and smiled. “Don’t move I’ll be right back!”
He left the room and I quickly undid the binds he cinched in. Before I could stand, he was back on top of me. “Leaving so soon?”
“It’s fine, go. We can play later.”
His words resonated in my ears as I stood to leave. He watched me as I blinked out of his realm.
“Zoe’s back!” Jasmine yelled as she, Drake and Tabitha came running at me.
“Where’s Tabitha’s Matron? Teresa said the cast was complete,” Drake asked.
“It was, but it did nothing to Zavier besides tickle him! He blamed me for the distress and he…” I looked at Tabitha’s expecting eyes and hung my head.
“NO!” she cried. Drake comforted her as I took a seat on the couch.
“And what? He just let you go, Zoe?” Drake asked as he quieted Tabitha’s cries to a low hum.
“Well at first he’d taken me back to the room. He started tying me up but then left. When he came back he told me I was free to go but we’d ‘play later’,” I reported.
We sat in silence as the day’s events sunk in. I got someone else killed as a result of my dealings with Zavier. He needed to be stopped! And even if it meant taking on the entire contents of the Vale source, that was what I had to do.
“I have no place to go now,” Tabitha said in a trembling tone.
I looked up at her. “If you are a guide for new witches, I know one that could really use a hand,” I said nodding towards Jasmine.
She offered a weak smile before consenting. “I’d love to take her on. That is if her Dad lets me stay.”
The mood was still very somber but I was delighted to know Jazz would have a guiding hand when I was not able to watch over her.
“I can only imagine now what plans Zavier is cooking up,” Drake said. “Please protect her. Watch over her carefully. He doesn’t yet know about her and I’d like to keep it that way.”
We drove Jasmine and Tabitha to the airport and watched as they headed to Sunset Valley. Tabitha should be good for her and hopefully she can get her prepared in the off chance Zavier does learn of her existence.