Alpha Asher Novel [by Jane Doe] Chapter 181
Even though I was more than interested in hearing Deacon’s reply, it wasn’t what made me stop. There was this sudden rush of familiarity that swelled in my stomach, making it plummet to the warehouse floor. I felt a harsh tug on my sleeve and whipped my head to the side to lock eyes with a stone-faced Dina. She jutted her chin towards the exit, which was a few rows of shelves behind where we stood and tugged a second time.
“Not yet.” I mouthed, shaking my head.
Typically, Tristan would be the one trying to keep me out of trouble, but it was hard to do when he too was crouched, peering through the slim gaps in the shelving in an effort to spy on the witches. I held back a snicker and joined him, stretching my hearing as far as it would go, until the voices at the center of the warehouse sharpened, i
I guess after spending this much time with me, he already anticipated what I’d do. It was risky but getting information about the enemies plans rarely ever came with a safety net.
“Mm, I thought about it, but I’m curious…” Deacon mused, “This little spell you got going on, what’s the endgame? What will killing three of each kind accomplish?”
I had to hunch over and bend my head at an odd angle, but 1 managed a somewhat clear view of them. The feeling churning in my gut came to a head when I spotted the witches. Now I understood why the voice I heard sounded so familiar.
It was the two witches Brandon, Clara, and I had been running from weeks ago. The ones that had come much too close to catching us. What made things worse is that they were both elementals, a rare and powerful breed of witch that could manipulate an entire element in nearly a dozen different ways. They were amongst the other types of witches coveted for their powers, ripped from their families at a young age and thrust into intensive training, molded and shaped until they were deadly weapons.
That was the first thing I’d put an end to once the Blood Witch was six feet under.
Both of the women stood proud and tall, with heavy cloaks wrapped around their shoulders. They were younger than I thought they’d be and looked to be around my own age. Neither one of the witches replied to Deacon, though one’s eyes began to smolder like hot coals. The other stood impassive, her hair the color of wheat and eyes like leaves during the peak of summer.
At first glance I thought she had some kind of bangles around her wrists, but as I strained my eyes through the shelves for another look, I realized they were actually vines. They were no thicker than a piece of yarn and crawled halfway up her arms before stopping completely. I could make out the tiny leaves that sprouted in small clusters, curling lightly at the ends.
Deacon huffed, the sound deep with amusement. I was slowly coming to realize that was his laugh, even if it sounded like anything but.
“You can’t expect me to just blindly follow this Mistress of yours without a hint of what’s going on behind the curtain. That’s not how I survived all these years, and it sure as shit ain’t how the rest of these Vampire’s survived either. Am I just supposed to trust that once everyone on your little list is sacrificed the battle is won? How so I know there isn’t more to all of this? Seeing as your Mistress won’t grace me with her presence, I got no choice but to take my answers from you two.”
The one with the glowing eyes lowered the hood of her cloak, freeing a tangled mess of ember-colored curls. Her smile was brittle and taunting, twisting her slender lips into a jagged line.
“Trust us, you don’t want her to grace you with her presence.” She snickered, “As for the spell, once the sacrifices are complete there is one more step, but we’ve got that covered. That’s all you need to know.”
Through the shelves I saw one of Deacon’s shoulders lift in what I assumed was a shrug.
“Mm, I’m inclined to disagree with you. You’re asking me to go all in on a game I’ve never played before and won’t tell me the rules we’re playing by. If my brother were alive, and it were him you two were paying a visit to, he’d be asking the same questions.”
The one with the fiery hair didn’t seem to like being disobeyed, because not only did she bristle at Deacon’s words, but her glowing eyes grew brighter, and her scowl deepened. Her companion leaned forward and placed a vine covered hand on her shoulder. When she spoke, her voice was soothing and her expression oddly serene despite the tension in the warehouse.
“Ember, relax. Surely we can give him the information he’s asking to gain his trust.”
‘Of course her name is Ember.’ Maya grumbled.
I had to bite back a snort at the irony, but it seemed I made some sort of sound because Tristan jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow. Neither of the witches gave notice. They were much too far away to see or hear the three of us, a fact that didn’t give me much in the way of comfort. Ember, whose eyes actually looked like glowing embers, let out a sharp breath through her slender nose and nodded stiffly.
“It’ll take a lot more than that to gain my trust, girl, but it’s a damn good start.” Deacon huffed.
Ember didn’t react to what Deacon had just said, nor did she acknowledge he even spoke. “We have someone on the inside, someone close to the tri-brid that will complete the last act. After that, our Mistress will have total control over her physical form.” Her eyes flared brightly as she finished speaking, glowing with a malicious sort of victory that set my teeth on edge, i
I held back wave after wave of panic-induced thoughts as they filled my head, each one more daunting than the next. Now wasn’t the time to lose my cool. It didn’t matter if there were spies in the pack, if the people closest to me were pawns set out to steal not only my life but my magic and my body, I had to keep my head on straight. Beside me Tristan stiffened, undoubtedly going through the same stomach curdling emotions as I was.
When we made it out of here I’d have to sit down and list all of the people closest to me, going through them one-by-one until I narrowed it down to those I didn’t fully trust, and those capable of such a betrayal. The thought of what names I’d see nearly made me sick.
“When that happens, and you got the biggest baddest wolf-pack in the world on your ass, what will you do then?” Deacon asked.
There was a tone of mild interest in his voice that I desperately hoped was an act because I was more than certain if he told Dina to turn back with Tristan and I, she’d do just that.
Ember replied while the second witch smiled softly, stroking the vines on her arms like they were timid pets.
“Her Alpha mate won’t dare risk her harm by attacking, but the same cannot be said for the Vampire’s. With our Mistress appointing you as their new King, you can placate them and keep them in control. Your brother wouldn’t have been able to turn down an offer like this. Only a fool would think to refuse. Do you have anymore asinine questions or are you ready to come to a conclusion?”
I had to narrow my eyes and focus hard on Ember, because the air around her seemed to be moving softly. It was thin curls of smoke rolling off her hair and shoulders that I’d spotted, along with the start of actual heat waves. I couldn’t lie, the sight was a bit freaky. I’d seen magic at work in many different ways, but never quite like this.
‘She’s going to spontaneously combust.’ Maya murmured, not at all joking.
Deacon barked out a dry laugh and said, “I assume you already got your three Vampire sacrifices, right? That why you took a group of my people into the wolves’ territory?”
“The quota for the Vampire’s has been reached, yes.” Ember nodded evenly.
“Then you won’t mind me asking why it is that all the Vampire’s in your little group were murdered.” Deacon replied, humming quietly to himself when Ember’s eyes flashed a threatening shade of red. Even the second witch reacted, her serene demeanor
slipping for but a second. “You don’t think it’s only the witches that have spies, do ya? Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been underestimated.”
The second witch spoke up first. She cut Ember off, who looked like she was gearing up to breathe a column of flame in Deacon’s face.
“Our Mistress doesn’t like loose ends, which is what they became when they failed to capture the tri-brid.”
I caught a glimpse of Deacon’s expression and instantly identified it as one of understanding. At my side, Dina made the smallest of sounds. It prompted me to glance her way and as I did I heard her whisper.
“There’s no way he’s okay with what they did. That ain’t the Deacon I know…”
Dina’s uncertainty was just as troubling as what Deacon said next.
“I been around awhile, seen a thing or two, and 1 can’t help but notice that this plan of hers, the one that ended with six of my people dead, was a bit rash. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a powerful witch that’s been planning this for as long as your Mistress has wouldn’t concoct a last-minute plan to storm the most powerful Alpha in the world’s pack if it weren’t important, right?”
“Right.” Ember replied after several seconds, forcing the word through gritted teeth.
“Now, why is that?” Deacon pondered, tapping his chin. “What was so important that your Mistress strayed from her master plan and did something this poorly thought out?
1 didn’t realize I was holding my breath, counting the seconds that ticked by as I waited for one of the witches to answer, until I began to see spots freckle my vision. I’d been so tuned into the three of them that I barely registered the slight tickle I felt against my ankle.
A quick wave of revulsion had me nudging the rat that grazed me away without looking down. I’d seen more than a few scurrying about and super-healing or no, I wasn’t looking to get bitten.
“She’s coming into her power faster than our Mistress has anticipated, even with the hurdles we’ve thrown in her way. If she learns to master it before the spell is completed, all will be lost.” The second witch said, hovering behind Ember who looked seconds away from burning the place down.
Deacon cocked his head, but his expression was obscured. “You mean her power with the shadows? Or are you talking about her witchy side?”
The same rodent, or perhaps it was a different one, brushed up against me a second time. Once again, without looking down, I kicked it away. I added some extra oomph, silently telling the damn thing to scram. Breyona was the one petrified by all things creepy and crawly, but that didn’t mean I was fond of the beady- eyed cretins.
Something about Deacon’s question made Ember sneer. Her expression was entirely visible through the slats in the shelving, and full of so much mirth I wondered if she’d actually burst into flame.
“That witchy side of hers possesses power our kind hasn’t seen in centuries.” She snarled and took a step towards Deacon, stopping
only when her companion placed a hand on her shoulder. “It could unravel us all should she ever learn the true extent of it. We’ve done our part to keep the truth from her hands. We’ve snuffed out two wolves she sent searching for information. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be used as sacrifices, but their deaths still have purpose. From what our spies tell us, she’s unaware they’re no longer on mission. Now, you do your part. Gather the Vampire’s, name yourself their leader and when the spell is complete and the tri-brid is ours, our Mistress will reward you with the title of Vampire King. What do you say, Deacon?”
I couldn’t focus on the part about my power and it’s potential. It didn’t matter if it was the answer we’d all been waiting for, the solution to stopping the witches that were on the pathway to taking over the world. Those words were stored away, waiting to be analyzed while I dissected the rest of Ember’s statement.
The witches had killed two werewolves sent out to find information on my lineage—on my magic. Not only did I have to make it out of this place alive, but now I had to find a way to tell my best-friend that her parents were murdered, that she was now an orphan. I had to physically hold back the tears and push away the memories of afternoons on Breyona’s front porch, chatting with her mom while her dad backed into the driveway.
Now wasn’t the time to mourn or to blame. There would be plenty of opportunities for that later once we made it out of this place.
If I hadn’t tuned in upon hearing Deacon’s low, calculated laugh, I would’ve completely missed his response to Ember’s question.
The sound was both warm and rich, full of amusement, yet it carried a note of trouble I couldn’t help but notice. When he stopped laughing, the warehouse fell uncomfortably silent.
“I know how this ends.” He rumbled, “I won’t be King to a bunch of corpses.”
I swore I watched the mask of civility Ember wore shatter, cracking halfway up her face to reveal eyes flaming with malice and cruelty.
She didn’t sound the least bit sorry when she said, “What a pity, truly. Our mistress will be disappointed. I, on the other hand, will enjoy adding you to the corpses you refuse to rule over.”
Deacon took a step forward, his fists clenched. “I’d like to see you try, girl.”
Ember was moments away from charging when the second witch placed a hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear. Straining my ears, I began to hear what she was saying, but then another damn rodent brushed against my ankle, all but shattering my concentration. Biting back a snarl, I looked away from the witches, and craned my head downwards.
I was about to lash out and grab the thing when I realized it wasn’t rodents like I’d thought it had been.
It was vines.
There were dozens of them creeping and crawling throughout the stacks, inching their way throughout the warehouse. One had been trying to wrap itself around my ankle, but now began to slither towards Tristan instead.
“Tristan…” I whispered, digging my nails into his forearm until he turned to look.
He and Dina noticed at the same time. The Vampire we were hiding with cursed under her breath and crushed one under the heel of her
boot. As we inched closer to the end of the row to put some distance between us and them, I had another semi-clear view of the witches.
Ember was smiling now, widely and with complete joy. She glanced at Deacon and waved her hand dismissively.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get to that shortly, after you’ve introduced us to your guests.” She said, then raised her voice so that every word was crystal clear as it filled the ground floor of the warehouse. “ Hello there, Lola. Why don’t you and your friends come out of your little hiding spot and talk to us? Our Mistress is just dying to meet you.”