Part 7 of 7
Part 7 of 7
Faith herself had been so preoccupied just staying alive that she’d missed the approach of the pack. Now, though, with some moments to get a grip on the situation, it was clear that they had somehow sensed her distress and been drawn to her aid. For a moment her conscience nagged her. Wasn’t her using her connection to the pack pretty much the same thing as Padma using his powers over them?
Fuck, no! It wasn’t the same thing. They had come here of their own free will to aid one of their own. Padma had been raping their wills. There was a world of difference.
“Don’t force me to do this, vampire!” she heard Richard say.
Poor guy, she mused. So very powerful, yet so uncomfortable in his own skin. In some ways he reminded her both of B and of herself. He held both B’s lingering resentment of what fate had made them and Faith’s own self-hatred for the things they’d done with the power given to them. Worst of both worlds, really. And now here he was, riding to the rescue and right into more bloodshed. She wished she could have spared him this.
She wasn’t about to turn down his help, though. She wasn’t that self-destructive.
“Destroy them,” Padma screamed and she could feel his power ripple through the air. His control over the wolves might have been broken, but he was still pouring out enough raw power to make some of the weaker pack members inch back from him. And it was certainly more than enough to spur his enslaved beasts into battle.
Faith found that the mere presence of the other wolves was sufficient to restore some of her strength. Her wounds were starting to heal. Slowly, but visibly. Her legs weren’t as shaky as they’d been a minute ago. Wolfish power rippled through the air right alongside Padma’s oppressive influence and it felt like a cold shower, smothering the heat that engulfed them.
Without even looking around Faith could sense that more than fifty members of the Thronnos Rokke pack were present, far outnumbering Padma’s forces. Those were just numbers, though. Padma was a bastard, but he was right in his assessment that Rich’s pack was sorely lacking in power. Most of his wolves were submissives. Strong alphas were few and far between. Just about all of them were present here right now, but Faith couldn’t help but wonder if it would be enough.
All around her the battle began. Beasts tore into beasts, wolves fought cats and rats, animal howls and screeches filled the air. The whole scene was wrong in Faith’s mind. All of this was Padma’s doing. He was using his power to reduce these intelligent beings to beasts, pets, forced them to fight his battles for him. As the moon rose over the rooftops over St. Louis Faith felt both her strength and her outrage increase.
She was far from a hundred percent, but she’d be damned if she’d spent the fight on the sidelines. The wolves were here because of her, being hurt because of her. All of this was happening because of her arrival in this world, because she hadn’t been fast enough. No one else would die because of her. At least, she amended, no one who wasn’t a sadistic son of a bitch whose spot in hell was already reserved.
Faith leaped into the fray, making sure to keep actual contact to a minimum. She wasn’t out to hurt any of the lycanthropes Padma had enslaved. She wanted a shot at the man himself. The fastest way to end this was to cut him off. She doubted many of the opposing weres would be in this fight if not for his influence.
The god wolf roared back to life inside her. The pack was here! The moon was in the sky! The buildings blurred into trees, the concrete under feet felt like packed earth. The forest had taken root in the world again, the god wolf had said, and she could feel it in her blood, pounding through her heart, roaring in her ears. She howled a fierce battle cry and fifty answering cries made the enemy tremble as the power of the wolf grew.
Padma was suddenly there, no more beasts between her and him. She could feel his power, the terrible weight of his age. Under different circumstances she might have enjoyed facing an opponent of this calibre, but there was nothing enjoyable about this. Padma was a monster. An enemy not only of the pack, but of all packs, all beasts. He had to die. In a blur of speed she was aiming directly for his throat.
Another shape suddenly loomed in front of her and cut her off. Everything happened too fast for conscious thought. Faith felt the pain of enemy claws sinking into her flesh. Instinct made her lash out, her own claws biting deep into her foe. Her jaws opened wide, a vulnerable throat right in front of her. There was blood and flesh and with a mighty wrench she tore right through the soft tissue and heard the bones snap.
A body dropped to the ground in front of her. The body of a young man, half-changed into a rat. The body’s head was no longer attached, it rolled away to the side. Blood drenched Faith’s snout and fur. For a moment the world around her seemed to come to a halt as Padma stared at her slain enemy.
“My son,” he whispered. “You killed my son.”
Faith wasn’t exactly clear on how a vampire could have a living son. She didn’t much care, truth be told. But the emotions in Padma’s voice were genuine. He was a father whose son had just died. The fact that both he and his son were psychotic monsters didn’t change that. She had less than a heartbeat to feel his rage as it exploded outward into the night.
Faster than Faith could follow Padma was suddenly upon her, his fists hitting like jackhammers. The blows came so fast that there was almost no time to feel pain. She could hear her bones break, could feel herself picked up and thrown into the nearest wall. She heard stone shatter and plaster crack. Then the pain finally penetrated and Faith drowned in white-hot agony.
“You killed my son,” Padma roared and was upon her once again. Faith couldn’t even think about defending herself, he was too fast and too strong. She would die, she realised. Right here, right now. She would die.
A terrible howl filled the air and suddenly Padma was gone, no longer hitting her. Another body was suddenly beside her, several bodies, brushing softly against her, filling her with the power of the pack. She was broken, hurt, but the pack was there and the pain receded.
Opening her eyes, Faith saw what was going on. Padma was being attacked and not just by the wolves. She didn’t know whether it was something she had done or just the shock of losing his son, but his power over the enslaved beasts had quite obviously broken. The cats, the bears, even the rats, they were all attacking him now, dozens of lycanthropes tearing into him with every bit of supernatural strength they possessed.
Padma was stronger than any single lycanthrope, probably stronger than any ten of them put together, but right now at least thirty of them were taking out their anger on him. He had enslaved them, treated them like pets, like beasts of burden, and now his power was broken. There wasn’t a single one among them who wanted to ever feel his hold on their minds again.
Faith briefly saw the human, Carswell she thought his name had been, and the big weretiger trying to come to Padma’s aid, but the odds were now firmly against them and both seemed to be in some kind of shared pain. Padma was starting to disappear underneath a mountain of fur and flesh and she could feel his power fading.
Some part of her wanted to put a stop to this. The human was Padma’s human servant if she’d heard correctly. He’d probably die as well if Padma was killed. The weretiger also seemed to have some sort of bond with him. And there was no telling what the rest of the Council would do if the Master of Beats was killed here in St. Louis.
It was only a small part of her, though. The power of the god wolf roared through her mind, she felt the emotions of the pack surge and ripple. She could even feel Richard, his power strong on the wind, his mind clear of self-hatred for the moment.
It all came down to one thing. Padma was a threat to the pack, to all packs. Untold generations of lycanthropes had suffered at his hands. Faith had been told about the munin, the spirit of dead wolves, and right now she could hear thousands of them singing in the forest of the god wolf. They, along with their living brothers and sisters, chanted the same thing over and over again.
“Die, monster! Die!”
And not even the Master of Beasts, ancient vampire that he was, could survive as over thirty lycanthropes tore him apart and devoured his flesh.
Jean-Claude, sitting in the back of a black limousine in front of the Circus of the Damned, was about to get out of the car when he felt the ripples on the night air. Something fundamental had just happened. It was as if a great pressure had just fallen away.
Another member of the Vampire Council had just died in St. Louis.
Jean-Claude sat back down, deep in thought. He certainly didn’t cry any tears for Padma, the Master of Beasts. He’d been a monstrous sadist who deserved death a hundred times over. His death made the world a better place, there was no denying that.
But looking at his stronghold, where the rest of the Council representatives waited, he could not help but wonder how they could possibly avoid death at their hands now.
Author's Note: That's a wrap for episode 3, people. Hope you liked it. Given the ending, episode 4 is, of course, going to arrive sooner or later. Not sure which, but it will come. Because of my sad tendency to leave stories unfinished I've adopted the principle of not publishing a story unless it is done and all chapters are on paper (electronically speaking). So episode 4 won't arrive until I've finished it.
Encouragement in the form of feedback can only speed up the process, of course.
See you soon!