Chapter 7

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing boring admin stuff that I had been neglecting for far too long. The paper piles on my desk were multiplying faster than two love sick rabbits, and people were chasing me for a million different things.
When the clock struck five I fled the office.
It would take me about an hour to get to Thomas’ place, and I wanted to have enough time to look around before I had to meet him.
I went to the underground garage and got into my perfect little car.
Being careful not to hit any Fahims who might be lurking in the dark space, I drove out and hit the M65 to West City.
The dense urban landscape slowly gave way to grey fields, and by the time I reach Winchester Lane, I was surrounded by old, gnarled oak trees. Houses were spares, but the ones I could see looked to be huge mansions tucked away down long, wooded driveways. The same turned out to be true for 150 Winchester Lane.
Not wanting to be discovered, I parked the car half a mile down the main road in a little spot that hid my car from nosey spectators. The weather had turned even grimmer. The sky was dark, and the wind had picked up. Luckily, the dense trees shielded me from the worst of it.
It took me about 10 minutes to sneak up to the main house. Thomas Pelletier had to be loaded or heavily in debt because the place was massive.
I snuck around the back, looking for clues and possibly a way in. It didn’t look like anyone was home. All the lights were off, and the place was eerily silent. If it turned out that someone was home, after all, I could always say I got the time of the meeting wrong.
A door next to what looked like an old garage caught my eye.
As silently as possible, I made my way across a narrow stone path. My half-blood was a blessing in situations like this. My senses were sharper than most humans, and I could move in a stealth mode only surpassed by pureblood fae.
To my utter disbelief, the door wasn’t locked. What were the chances of that? The door didn’t even make a creepy squeaking sound when I opened it. A bit apprehensive, I looked around the dark room. It turned out to be some sort of utility room.
Careful not to touch anything, I moved to the next door and slowly opened it – just enough to let me review the situation in front of me. A dark hallway lay before me with a massive staircase at the end.
Nothing seemed to disturb the quiet. The only sound was my shallow breathing.
A familiar smell hit me while I was investigating my surroundings. The same sickly sweet smell from outside Thomas’ nightclub was hidden amongst other, more ordinary, household smells. Filing that little bit of information in my mental case folder, I moved into the hallway and headed towards the stairs.
When I got there, I had the option of going up to the next level or down into the basement. It wasn’t a difficult choice. If I was a bad guy, I would hide all the bad stuff in the basement, so down I went.
The flight of stairs ended in another even darker hallway. A couple of doors lined the sides, but all of them proved to be locked. I walked all the way to the end where a couple of scuff marks on the floor seemed to lead towards a blank wall.
Curiosity awakened, I studied the wall in front of me. A careful knock indicated that the wall was solid, but I wasn’t buying it.
Feeling around, nothing stood out on the wall itself, so I took a closer look at the skirting. An almost invisible indentation proved to be some sort of luck. A secret door… How cliché was that!
I pushed at the indentation which made a softly glowing symbol appear. I might not be particularly knowledgeable about magic symbols, but everyone knew what a blood lock looked like. The single drop within a circle glowed mockingly at me. This was high-level magic. To open the lock I would have to sacrifice some of my blood. That wasn’t really the problem, though. The problem was that it might have been set to only acknowledge one person’s blood or a specific type of blood. I might end up setting a series of booby traps off if I didn’t have the right blood, which I probably didn’t.
I stared at the stupid symbol, considering my options. Getting caught trying to enter a magic locked room would not be ideal, but then the type of people who had a blood lock on their doors usually hid something big… And I really wanted to know what it was!
A sound on the stairs made my heart skip a beat. Someone was coming.
With a burst of adrenaline flooding my system, I pulled off my bag and found my lock picking tools. A soft humming flowed down the stairs.
With a heart that was trying its best to beat its way out of my chest, I ran to the nearest door and managed to open the lock despite my hands shaking like I was having some kind of seizure.
Without looking, I burst through the doorway. Luckily, I had ended up in a storage room filled with chairs.
Quickly scanning the small dark room to make sure I was completely alone, I turned around and peeked through a small crack in the door opening. A second later a small bony figure came down the hallway. At first, I thought it was a child, but once it came closer, it turned out to be a brownie.
The creature stopped in front of the wall with the blood lock and a moment later a section of the wall opened.
The brownie walked through the door opening and disappeared.
I watched as the wall oh so slowly closed. I could have made it through, but with the brownie on the other side, it was too risky to try.
A couple of minutes later the door opened again, and the brownie hurried down the hallway on its small thin legs.
Grabbing the opportunity, I quickly ran from my hiding place and managed to catch the door before it closed.
Catching my breath, I made sure that the brownie had actually left before I snuck inside the room behind the secret door.
On the other side I found a massive room. Whilst my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, I was fighting back the urge to retch. The sickly sweet smell was overwhelmingly strong here.
Focusing on my surroundings, I noticed stairs leading down onto a marbled floor where magical symbols had been etched into the surface. The same symbols were reflected in the black stone ceiling above me. Huge unlit candelabra lined the sunken room, apparently providing the only source of light in the room.
Wanting to record this so someone back at the office might be able to help me interpret everything, I put on my recording necklace which had a transfer stone in the centre that would upload everything to the office server in real-time.
I was walking down the stairs to study the floor when the door opened behind me. In a moment of pure panic, I realised that there was nowhere to hide.
The brownie spotted me straight away, and the surprise was clear on her wrinkled face. “Oh no! You shouldn’t have come! I told you not to come.” She hurried down the stairs and grabbed hold of my coat. With quick insistent tugs, she led me to the corner of the room. “Quickly, quickly. They are coming!”
“Who’s coming?”
“The bad men. They have caught another prey.” She let go of me and started rummaging through the many pockets in her apron. “Quick, quick. Where is it? Where is it?” Her features lit up when she clearly found what she was looking for. “Here it is! Here it is! Take this.” She handed me a green crystal, and in pure reflex I took it.
As soon as my fingers touched the stone, my body froze to the spot.
The brownie started rummaging through her pockets again, completely ignoring the fact that I had become a living statue.
I tried to let go of the stone, but my unresponsive fingers kept gripping it. Panic rolled through me, but there was nothing I could do.
“Quick, quick. Where is the cape? Where is the cape?” A triumphant sound escaped the little creature, and she pulled out a pearly white piece of fabric that looked light as air. “Here it is! Here it is!” In one surprisingly smooth movement, she threw the cape over me and then adjusted it to make sure it covered all of me.
The room became blurry when she pulled the fabric down over my face, but I could still see her watching me anxiously. “Just stay there. Just stay there. It will be fine. It will be fine.”
I wasn’t sure how she expected me to move when I was frozen to the spot.
With a last look at me, she hurried up the stairs. Walking on a narrow ledge along the wall, she started lighting the candelabra. She had just finished lighting the second one when the secret door opened.
A group of men came through it, and they were dragging a terrified young woman with them.
She screamed and tried to break free of their grip, but a familiar voice told her to shut up. When she didn’t, Thomas Pelletier slapped her so hard that her head snapped back. “Stupid bitch. Get her into the circle.”
Though my vision was blurred, I recognised the two men from the security video that Thomas had given me.
They dragged the woman into a big circle in the middle of the floor and dropped her there before joining Thomas and three other men outside the circle.
Thomas looked around the room and seemed to realise that the brownie was still in the process of lighting the candelabra. “Cillian, why haven’t you lit all the candelabra yet?”
The brownie threw herself on the floor. “Sorry, Master. I was-“
“Never mind, you useless creature!” With two softly spoken words, the candles blazed to life.
With a surprised gasp, the brownie scrambled away from the light. “Sorry, sorry. Sorry, sorry.”
“Shut up, you pathetic broom.” He turned back and stared at the lifeless woman. “Right, let’s get on with it.”
As Thomas started to chant, the symbols in the room began to glow. Slowly the symbols seemed to spread and soon they covered the woman, making her clothes and skin glow.
With a gasp, she seemed to come to, but though she struggled to break free, she was held fast by some invisible force. Once she realised that she was trapped, she started screaming again.
I watched in horror, unable to move, as Thomas nodded. The three unfamiliar men entered the circle. She was going to die. She was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried to force my fingers away from the stone in my hand, but nothing happened. I was completely stuck, and she was going to die!
One man ripped her dress off and forced a large glass of white liquid down her throat which was followed by a large glass of red liquid.
The screaming stopped as the poor girl choked on whatever it was they had given her.
Her body started to convulse, and the glow that surrounded her increased. The light began to seep away from her, and it looked like Thomas was drawing it into himself. As her light began to fade, Thomas was glowing from within.
He nodded again, and the third man forced a tall glass of yellow liquid past the woman’s pale lips.
Like a switch had been flipped, the convolutions stopped, and her beautiful blue eyes glazed over. Her glow was gone, and a pale grey colour spread across her skin.
NO! My mental scream filled my body, but the room stayed silent. Only a soft crying could be heard somewhere behind me.
“Okay, she’s yours now. Just make sure to clean up afterwards. I’ve got another one coming in a few hours.” A faint glow could still be seen on Thomas’ body as he left the room.
The men started arguing about which body part was theirs as they pulled out knives and started dismembering the body. One man cut off the woman’s scalp with her long blond hair, saying he wanted it because he was bored of having dark hair. Another gouged out her blue eyes with the comment that he needed them because the police were looking for a guy with brown eyes.
Bile rose in my throat as I was forced to watch the gruesome display in front of me. A tear escaped my eye, and unable to wipe it away, it slipped down my cheek.
One of the men noticed a thin ring cut from a single diamond on the woman’s finger and wanted it. When he couldn’t get it off, he angrily chopped off the entire finger. His violent action flung the finger up in the air, and when it hit the floor, the ring rolled loudly across the faintly glowing symbols before coming to a stop at my feet.
Cursing, he started looking for it in the gloomy room and almost bumped into me when the brownie came running. “I have cooked food. Lovely, lovely food. Come, come and eat while it is still good. You can look for ring later. Yes, look for it later. It is not going anywhere.”
One of the other men called out to him. “She’s right. Just leave it. We’ll get her to clean up the mess too.” The men left the bloody scene behind and followed the brownie out the door.
Seconds turned into minutes and for a long time, nothing happened. The grizzly sight in front of me slowly changed from being a living nightmare to becoming more like an unreal dream. If I waited long enough, I might even be able to convince myself that it had all been figure of my imagination.
The secret door opened again, and the brownie came down the stairs. She picked up the ring at my feet and reached out, grabbing the air until her fingers touched the fabric. “There you are. Poor girl. Poor, poor girl. Come with me. I will help you escape. Come with me.” She took the stone from my fingers, and the sudden use of my muscles made me collapse on the floor.
“Poor, poor girl.” The brownie helped me up and, with surprising strength, she started dragging me towards the steps. “Come, come. Quick, quick.”
My feet started working and with the brownie’s help, I managed to climb the stairs.
Silently we moved down the dark hallway and up the next flight of stairs. Loud voices could be heard in a room down the hallway, but we made it to the utility room without being discovered.
The cold night air hit me in the face when I opened the door, and nothing had ever felt better. It took me a moment to notice that my little rescuer wasn’t escaping to freedom with me.
I went back and looked into the dark room.
The brownie was staring back at me.
“What are you doing? Come on!”
She shook her head. “I can’t. I’m trapped. I’m trapped.”
”What do you mean?”
”He has bound me to this place. I can’t leave. I can’t leave.”
“Well, how do I unbind you?”
Her eyes seemed to glisten in the darkness. “You would free me?”
“Yes, just tell me how and preferably quickly.” I couldn’t leave her here.
She walked up to me and took my hand between her small wrinkled ones. “You have to offer me a new home. A new home with you and then swear a blood oath.”
The blood oath gave me pause. Those were binding for life and just what kind of home could I offer her?
Shoving my concerns aside, I nodded. A home with me had to be better than this hellish place. “Okay.” She had saved my life, and this was the least I could do.
She nodded and started rummaging through her pockets again. From a tiny pocket, she produced a beautiful knife with runes engraved in the wooden handle. Foreign words spilled from her lips and with a quick flick of the blade, she sliced her palm. Dark, brownish blood seeped from the shallow wound.
She handed me the knife.
Taking it, I began the oath. “By my blood and the power it holds, I promise to give you a home for as long as you wish to stay. May our blood seal this promise and make it last until our blood is no more.” I sliced my palm and held up my hand, palm towards her.
She met my hand and we linked our fingers, pressing our palms together.
“By the blood.”
She echoed the sentence in her own language.
“Right, let’s get out of here.” I let go of her bloody hand and grabbed the other one.
We hightailed it out of the house and started running towards my parked car. Night had fallen which made it difficult to see where we were going.
The brownie steered me towards the tree line. “This way. This way. They cannot find us amongst the trees.”
I let her guide me because she seemed to be able to see better than me in the darkness.
We had made it about halfway there when I was suddenly grabbed from behind.
Panic hit me like a brick, and I instantly started struggling to break free.

Read chapter 8 here!