Chapter 20

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When I awoke I was lying on an outdoor cushion in the corner of the deck against the wall closest to entry way. I looked around. I was able to make out the orange lights, but realized with a startled awareness I did not see anyone else. The scene before me was horrific even in the dim lighting. The deck had been damaged. Slowly I managed to right myself. 

 I stood carefully. I felt suddenly cold. My body trembled all over. My eyes landed on the creature's body lying there with a massive wound in the chest. If everything I'd seen had been real, where was Nate?

A rush of memory recalled that Nate had faced a monster. Something had come flying from the shadows. I shuddered and jerked my eyes from the dead creature. Blood had spattered over the ripped cushions and broken wood, the hole in the beast's chest seemed to grow larger as I looked at it.

Fear and panic finally made it to the forefront of my thoughts. I turned away, toward the house. Upon reaching it, I pushed my way to the main entrance.

Finally I reached the bouncer, The Centurion. I crazily tried to explain what I had witnessed. Looking around frantically, I could not find any of my group. They needed to know what happened. Perhaps my excitement or my expression was what eventually convinced him to follow me. We rushed around to the back deck but the body was gone. The deck was damaged, cushions were ripped and the dark stains of blood seemed darker but the body was gone.

The bouncer looked at me and inquired gruffly, "Are you trying to see if I would fall for a prank." I shook my head the blood was still there, but there wasn't a body. I walked the length of the deck and looked over the edge. "It was just here ...I swear! I just saw it...?"

The bouncer shook his head, "A deer must have come over the fence and injured itself. Don't worry it's happened before. No one will get blamed for it."

The Centurion left and I wandered over to the area behind one of the couches, bent over and picked up a torn piece of clothing. I held it close to my face to inhale the achingly familiar intoxicating smell that filled my senses. I rolled it up, tucked it under my arm and quickly left the scene.

Emotions flooded my head, of all of them fear was the dominant one.

"Did you get the body?" Nate asked sternly.

Eliza grinned showing a most feline like expression, "Sure did. And you're lucky, too, because your sweetheart nearly got the police involved."

Nate hissed, "Ashe could you be a little more gentle with your treatment?"

"Well, if someone hadn't let his cloaking down, that damn Vermilion would have stayed away. They knew we were there and attacked." With that Ashe pushed the needle in again. "You're lucky he hadn't gone thru the maturation process yet, or this wound would take much longer to heal than just a day".

Eliza turned the chair backwards and straddled it as she plopped down. "So, what's the plan? Obviously, the Vermilion are fully aware of us, and know why we are here. Do you want to fight head-on, or just keep the reconnaissance?"

Nate waited until Ashe closed his wound with the silken thread before answering. Once Ashe broke the final knot by pulling the silk with his teeth, Nate stood, and groaned from the pain. He seemed not to notice the smoke rising from the wound. He winced while speaking through his teeth. "Father sent us here to get rid of the infestation, so that is what we are going to do, despite this minor hiccup."

Ashe rolled his eyes, scoffing. "Minor? They now know your glamour. It's not a matter of a hiccup. They will attack boldly knowing who we are, and why we are here. We should inform the court, and ask for assistance. The only other choice is a different task of maturity."

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