The House of the Seventh Minuet IC

I glared up at the vampire. “Get. Off.” My voice was hoarse, and I found myself barely able to talk.

He laughed at me. “Oh, I could never– not even if I wanted to. My master put Xanthus in command of me, and he’s not someone who takes disobedience lightly.”

“Neither am I,” I growled out, still struggling against him.

He applied pressure to both my wrists. “I am allowed to bite you if you keep fighting,” he told me in the same tone he might have used when explaining manners to someone he considered uncivilized. “Maybe I should do so now, seeing as how you’ve hurt several of my friend.”

“They smelled bad anyway.”

He slapped me across the face, then pinned my wrist back down before I could even process what he’d done. “You’re no better!” he hissed. “You smell like horses and who–”

“He we go, boys!” Xanthus appeared at the top of the stairs with loads of clothing and blankets in his arms. “Come get a whiff is this beautiful scent!”

Jean-Marc tried to protest, but with a glare from Xanthus, the men gripping him– whom I new assumed were also vampires– yank him further back. Several werewolves hurried up the stairs and started sniffing the clothes. In their excitement, their teeth and claws ripped much of the fabric.

“Stop it!” I screamed. “Leave her stuff alone!”

“Here,” Xanthus told one of the werewolves as he handed it a wad of fabric, “take this, share it with the others.” The first werewolf ran off with the clothing, and Xanthus handed another piece to the next one.

“What the hell?!”

Xanthus dropped the pile of fabric unceremoniously and gestured for the other vampires and werewolves to take what they wanted. Then he walked down the stairs, staring down at me with disinterest. “You’re so brash and aggressive,” he said, sounding disappointed and condescending. “If it weren’t for that pretty face of yours, I wouldn’t know what Leila sees in you.”

“Fuck off!”

He crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned against the railing nearby, then shook his head. “You are in no position to be giving orders.” The arrogant bastard sounded almost bored. “And don’t worry about the clothes; my lord has already ensured that she will have plenty of lovely things to wear once she gets to his castle.”

One of the werewolves dashed down the stairs and paused beside me to stiff the air. It turned towards me and started sniffing my clothes, too.

“Get away from me!” I snarled, but no matter how I squirmed. the vampire still had me pinned.

“He’s a strong one, Xanthus,” the vampire told him.

Xanthus tilted his head a little, as though in thought. “I suppose he would have to be impressive in order to get her attention. It won’t matter, though. Wolf, follow his scent and get moving!”

The werewolf snarled but obeyed nonetheless. He ran along the hallway, apparently communicate with others of his kind, some of whom came back to also smell be before taking off in different directions.

“Why would you mess this up?” I growled up at him. “If you hurt Leila, your world is in that much more danger.”

He smirked and shared a look with the vampire holding me down. “None of us are going to hurt her,” Xanthus told me, speaking as though I were a complete fool. “Not even my lord wants to hurt her. He–”

“She’s not going to play music to someone who kidnaps her– or has her kidnapped.”

He laughed and shook his head. “Music? Oh, you’re still stuck on that?” He stared down at my face for long moments, then squatted down close to me. “There’s so much you still don’t know, Terran. It’s too bad Jean-Marc didn’t do a proper job of explaining the way our worlds interact.”

“Then you explain it!”

“Me?” he chuckled. “Oh, certainly not. Especially after how you’ve treated me and the wolves.”

There was a loud whine from one of the werewolves further away. I turned my head to see smoke billowing out from one of the halls– it looked like the one where I’d left Tobias and Larsa behind. Another wolf snarled, and then an arc of glittering light curled through the smoke. Some sort of small object hit the floor, and there was an explosion that reminded me of tiny fireworks.

“Damned faerie magic,” Xanthus grumbled. He stood up and started shouting orders to the forces he’d brought with him.

The house delved further and further into chaos. Vampires were chasing after guards, werewolves were being tracked through the hallways, and each side appeared to be causing a lot of damage. I think I caught sight of Brom at some point, and then Nikolai dragging a tied-up vampire into one of the rooms. Another tiny object flew threw the air and burst into light that sparked and sizzled like lightning, knocking the werewolves it touch unconscious.

Aubré ran screaming out of a smoky hallway, bow aimed at another werewolf. No sooner had he shot an arrow than arm wrapped around his neck from behind and pulled him out of sight. Tobias emerged from another hall, Larsa still in tow, and ran in the direction Aubré had gone. Maybe my eyes were deceiving me, but I swear that I saw Larsa reach into his leather pouch and pull out something that he tossed ahead of them, after which light an wind flowed down the hall ahead of them.

“I think I’m getting the hang of them,” I heard Larsa say before he was out of my line of sight again.

Then I heard wood breaking. And roaring. And also more shouting.

“I hope they’ve finally caught her scent,” Xanthus muttered to himself. “The sooner we’re out of here, the better.”

More wood snapped and crashed, and the vampire mover ever so slightly in the direction of it, as though curious about the progress the werewolves were making. I took that opportunity to slide my wrist free, grab one of the throwing axes, and lodge it in his side. He screamed in agony, and I shoved him away.

“Erik!” Xanthus cried when he saw what I’d done.

I got to my feet, taking the axe with me, even as he went to the vampire’s side.

“You…” Xanthus growled, glaring up at me in utter hatred, his hands already soaked in the vampire’s blood. “How. Dare. You!”

I gave him an uncaring glance and hefted my battle axe. “Don’t send your little pawns after me,” I muttered, “and I won’t have to cut them down.”

Xanthus was already giving some sort of first aid to the vampire. “You have no idea who his master is!” He sounded panicked. “Stupid Terrans, attacking those they know nothing about.”

“I could say the same thing about you, satyr.” I didn’t stay to hear his reply; I had to get to my friends and figure out where my help was needed the most.

The hallway leading back to my room was completely destroyed. Walls were clawed, paintings and tables knocked over, rugs torn in some places and bunched up in others. It looked as though the werewolves had continued to tear up Leila’s clothing and blankets, leaving scraps of it here and there. I picked up a torn piece that I knew came from one of her T-shirts.

“Stefan!” I heard someone call as I stared at the scrap and wondered how we were going to get Leila to safety with all of these werewolves tearing through the house

I looked up to see Larsa at the other end of the hall. He ran towards me, hopping over chucks of wood and knocked-over furniture. Tobias followed more slowly behind him; Aubré had his arm around his shoulders, limping as they went.

“Hey, are you okay?” he asked me. “Is that your blood? Do you need a healing potion?”

I chuckled and shook my head. “It’s from the werewolves,” told him, realizing then that I probably stank from the blood and slobber.

“So you’re ok? And hey, don’t laugh! Tobias gave me a bunch of magic items, and the healing potion really helped Aubré.”

I looked over at the elf. He looked wounded– bitten and clawed, more specifically– but the blood was mostly dried and the wounds were in various states of healing, some scabbed, others mostly scar tissue, but none that I could see still leaked blood.

“We meant it when we said this was a world of magic,” Aubré groaned.

“Want another potion?” Larsa asked him.

“Give him a little more time,” Tobias told him. “You’ll waste potions if you don’t give them enough time to work.”

Larsa nodded; he was really into this.

“Do you have red ones for health and blue for mana?” I joked.

Tobias raised a brow.

“It’s not like in video games,” Larsa told me. He pulled a vial from the bandolier– which was made of lavender-stained deer hide and etched with flowery designs– and showed it to me. “Healing potions are pink! Well, except for the purple ones, but those are super strong and I’m only supposed to use them for emergencies. Tobias doesn’t have MP like in the games.”

“You learned all the in the short time I was away?”

“He is an eager and lively young man,” Tobias chimed in. “Quite intelligent, really.”

Larsa beamed at him. A little praise went a long way with Larsa; and Tobias was right about him being smart. Some people didn’t realize it at first, because he could come off as naïve and playful sometimes, but I couldn’t deny it.

“What’s happened that made the werewolves go so wild?” Aubré asked. He let go of Tobias and started standing on his own.

“Xanthus go into Leila’s room,” I explained. “He gave them a bunch of her clothes so they could get her scent.”

“He got in?!” Aubré repeated, suddenly in a panic. “Damn– that means–“

“Brom and Jean-Marc…” Tobias breathed, worry overtaking his expression.

“I saw Jean-Marc being held back by a couple of vampires,” I said. “He wasn’t looking good at all. Brom was… somewhere on the other side of the house. I didn’t get a good look at him, but he seemed mostly okay, I think.”

“They were supposed to keep Xanthus out of her room,” the elf groaned. He look around at the destroyed walls. “This is bad… they’re going to tear down the walls in the course of following her scent.”

I sighed and shook my head. “I couldn’t stop him either. “He sicced some vampire named Erik on me. That bastard is strong!”

Both men’s eyes went wide. They looked to on another, then back at me.

“Erik? Are you sure?” Aubré asked. “Red eyes? Short black hair? Pale as the moon?”

“You realize that describes a lot of vampires in the stories back on Earth.” That seemed to piss him off, so I added. “Yeah, that also describes the one who pinned me down. You know him?”

“We know of him,” Tobias replied. “He’s an older vampire, and a vicious one, too. Cold-hearted, relentless, and powerful.”

“If he’s here with Xanthus,” Aubré added, “then it was Erik’s master who sent them to get Leila.”

“You’re lucky you managed to get free of him,” said Tobias.

“I stuck an axe in his ribs while he was distracted.”

“And Xanthus didn’t immediately kill you for it?”

I stared at Aubré, he looked terrified at the implications of what I’d done.

“Do I look dead?” I asked.

But They didn’t look amused.

“Jean-Marc!” Aubré cried as he took off in the direction of where I’d left Xanthus and the vampire.

“Ummm…”

Tobias gave me a worried look. “Erik is one of Xanthus’s lovers. Or, it may be more the other way around. Whichever– he’s also a very prized childe of the vampire lord. I don’t know how badly you hurt him, but if he feeds, he can probably heal, and Xanthus will make very sure he feeds.”

“Uh-oh,” Larsa said.

“You think he’ll feed on Jean-Marc?!” I glanced in their direction, though I couldn’t see anything through the haze. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back that way after angering those two– especially when I was better off protecting Leila.

“No,” Tobias replied, hefting his spear, “I know he will. Larsa, you’ve been a great help thus far, but I think it best that you not meet this vampire. He won’t drain Jean-Marc dry, seeing as how he’s a musician, but…”

Larsa nodded emphatically; he knew when it was best to stand down. “I- I think I’ll just stay with Stefan. Here,” he added, handing Tobias one of the purple vials, “for Jean-Marc.”

Tobias thanked him and soon disappeared down the hall after Aubré. Larsa looked up at me worriedly.

“Did you get hurt at all?” I asked him. Larsa shook his head, and I went on. “Where’s Killian?”

“He’s with Sir Maël. There’s some other hidden room; not great if someone’s after you and can chase your scent, but it’s out of the way of the fighting.”

“Killian let y–“

I was interrupted by the howling of several wolves. More wood was breaking further away, and I could hear more shouting. I immediately took off in that direction. Larsa followed; he knew I would stop when Leila was in danger, and I was certain that these walls being broken down was a bad sign.


About Legends of Lorata

Eleanor Willow is the author of the high fantasy series Legends of Lorata, which takes place on a medieval-style world filled with elves, dragons, and faeries. There is also a fourth race, one that is rare and magical: the angelic Starr. Lorata is a planet where four gods are known: good, evil, elemental and celestial-- and there are plenty of legends about them all! One of the most important ones is the prophecy of Jenh's champion, Loracaz, who is promised to return to the land whenever evil threatens to take hold. There are currently three books completed, and the first one can be read online. Book four is currently being written, and a fifth will most likely be in the future. Any news I have on about publishing will be shared as it comes in!
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