Jezebel watched the old crone with a mixture of disgust
and fear. She had to suppress a growl of anger as the beast that
lurked within her reacted to her fear. Two bitches of her pack
stood at her sides; both of the tawny haired women were also
watching the crone, but they didn’t do nearly as well as she did
in suppressing their fear. Their tense bodies vibrated with the
desire to flee. Jezebel licked her lips and smiled predatorily as
she momentarily pushed the crone from her mind and allowed
her beast to feed on her companions’ fear. The beasts within the
other two women reacted to her hunger, and their own desire
for blood, meat, and violence pushed the fear of their hosts
aside. The three women began rubbing up against each other
and growls of playful threat filled the Philadelphia night as they
psyched themselves up for the coming hunt.
After a few minutes, Jezebel forced her mind back to the
work at hand. She’d successfully distracted her subordinates
who continued to rub their heads against her and grope her
curvaceous body with their hands. More than sexual play, the
contact allowed the suppressed beast within them to feel and
comfort each other. The beasts were always wanting to fraternize
with each other, and hyenas in particular needed it or they’d get
quite grumpy. When you became a were-hyena, you left your
inhibitions behind. This suited Jezebel just fine; she’d been a
stripper in Vegas when she’d been offered the chance to become
a were-hyena. She didn’t regret her choice for one moment. She
had power now: the beast within her was cunning and strong.
The move to Philadelphia had presented many opportunities to
grow in power, and one of those opportunities was a new ally.
That’s what had taken her and her pack mates away from her
strip club this night; the crone was her new ally’s avatar of choice
for the moment. Judging from the power that the witch could
wield, her ally was even more powerful than she’d imagined. At
this point, others would be wondering if they’d gotten in over
their heads, but not Jezebel. For her, there was no such thing as
too much power. For her, the more power her ally had, the more
there was for her to gain.
It took Jezebel a moment to spot the crone again, but she
did so with little difficulty. Her night vision enhanced beast
sight enabled her to penetrate the night shrouded city’s darkest
shadows. The old witch was tucked deep into an alleyway across
the street from where Jezebel and her companions waited. She
was surrounded by three menacing figures who towered over her
and gave off a dangerous crimson aura that identified them as
vampires. The crone stood against them unafraid, having lured
them to the very spot that she’d desired. The vampires weren’t
the hunters this night, they were the prey. The witch that stood
with them was short, maybe five foot two, and was draped in an
unflattering robe of mud brown. Her hair was long, unkempt,
and white, and her eyes were black and shadowed by bushy
white eyebrows. The nose on her face was pointy and looked
too long. The crone had called herself Bridget Bishop when
she’d presented herself to Jezebel a few days ago. Jezebel had the
uneasy feeling that the woman believed herself to be the very
Bridget Bishop that had hanged in 1692: the first of the Salem
witchcraft trial victims. After working with the woman for a few
days, Jezebel wasn’t at all sure that the idea was impossible. The
crone was incredibly powerful, she talked funny, and she knew
almost nothing about the modern world.
The witch made a sharp gesture and two of the vampires
went suddenly rigid and unmoving. The third vampire glanced
at her two male companions nervously, but her attention was
redirected towards the crone who’d tilted her head so that her
throat was bared. Jezebel’s enhanced sense of smell caught the
scent of fresh blood on the air. She shuddered as her beast suddenly
roared to life, and it took all her strength of will to hold
the hyena within her back. The vampire who was only a few
feet away from that delicious smell was unable to hold herself
back though. She lunged at the witch with blinding speed and
plunged her fangs into the crone’s neck.
Jezebel had to grab her two companions before they could
rush into the alley and join the feast. She let her beast roll over
them so that she could fully dominate the two lesser bitches
and force their beasts back down. The two lesser beasts cowered
in fear from her own dominant beast. She growled at them
until they crouched low and pawed at her leather clad thighs in
Meanwhile, the witch had begun to chant and the alley was
beginning to fill with a nasty looking green fog. The blood lust
quickly evaporated from all of their beasts as their hackles raised
and dread suddenly filled them. Shapes were moving in the fog
that now almost totally obscured the alley. A tentacle lashed the
air at the border of the fog, and a scream of pure terror rent the
night. Jezebel shivered as the air was filled with the sound of
cracking and breaking bones and wet meat hitting the ground.
The horrific symphony went on for what seemed like hours. The
crone chanted the entire time. Jezebel’s beast watched with her
in fascinated horror, but she sensed that the other two’s beasts
had fled to hide in the deepest holes they could find, leaving
their hosts huddled together in terror.
Finally, the mists began to clear and the movement of huge
unseen monstrosities faded. The witch ended her ritual, and a
sudden blast of wind cleared the alley of all evidence of green
fog. The alley pavement and all the building walls around it
were coated in glistening wet gore, yet the crone and the three
vampires stood there apparently unscathed and untouched by
the gore that covered everything else. The witch cackled in
delight and began walking towards Jezebel. The three vampires
followed in her wake. They moved like vampires, all graceful and
predatory, but their auras were wrong now: their normal scarlet
was now flecked with a corrupting yellow-green. The coppery
blood scent that often accompanied vampires was also missing
from these transformed creatures. Jezebel’s work with the crone
over the past few days had alerted her to the fact that the witch
had some way of turning vampires to her master’s service, but
tonight’s demonstration was the first time that she’d seen how
it was done. For the first time in years, Jezebel wondered if
she wasn’t in over her head. Could this be done to her and her
people, she wondered.
As Bridget Bishop drew closer, Jezebel’s bitches began to
whimper fearfully, and she turned on them in fury. She grabbed
them both by the hair, and her beast launched its claws into them
and pulled their beasts from their hiding places. The beast spirit
residing within Jezebel wasn’t able to leave her body completely,
but as long as some part of it remained in contact with its host it
could act against other spiritual creatures as it did now.
“Stop your sniveling,” she commanded with a growl that carried
her beast’s scent and power. “You are bone-crusher hyenas.
Stand up and stop acting like prey!”
The two women rose slowly, drawing heavily upon their pack
leader’s strength and courage. By the time the witch reached
them, the trio was ready to stand together as a team. Jezebel had
no illusions though. She would order a retreat before fighting
against such odds as the witch and her three vampires. Hyena’s
fight best in large packs, and if the crone or her vampires
threatened them, she would retreat and gather the others of
“I see you assessing your situation Jezebel,” the hag chortled
as she came to a stop a few paces away. The vampires fanned out
around her and regarded Jezebel with cold hunger in their eyes.
“Nothing has changed. Our alliance was hammered out by the
Black Pharaoh himself. The turning is reserved for our enemies.
Fulfill your end of the bargain and you have nothing to fear and
much to gain.”
Jezebel nodded curtly, angry that the witch had read her so
“What now?” she asked.
“We leave for Providence immediately,” the witch answered
and turned towards the Ford Expedition parked at the curb
nearby. “Our little strike team has business with the wizards of
Although Jezebel was aware of the mission, the idea of going
up against the wizards caused a shiver to pass through her. The
beast within her reacted by raising its hackles, and a soft growl
escaped her lips. All creatures of the night knew better than to
tangle with the wizards. Avoiding them was usually the best
policy if continued survival was important to you.
“Don’t fret girl,” the old crone croaked at her. “The Order has
grown weak, and the Old Ones fear them not. My master will
trod upon the protectors of humanity.”
“I ain’t no damn child!” Jezebel growled; her fear of wizards
was forgotten as anger flared up in her. She hated the old witch’s
patronizing attitude. “My sisters and I will feast upon the meat
of wizards and snap their bones between our jaws this night.”
The witch’s answering cackle didn’t do anything to improve
Jezebel’s mood. Her beast wanted to snap and crunch the crone’s
bones more than it wanted anything else in recent memory.
Jezebel suppressed a sigh of frustration as she led her pack mates
to the Expedition. She wished she could kill something before
embarking on this trip; a little violence prior to getting into
the vehicle with the exasperating witch would make the next
few hours so much more bearable. Even better would have been
some sex mixed in with the violence. There was nothing like
fucking and getting ones claws good and bloody while doing
it. Her head full of lustful, nightmarish fantasies, Jezebel got
behind the wheel of the Expedition and revved the engine.
Mors Morta stared at herself in the wall length mirror of her
personal bathing chamber. She stood totally naked except for the
jewelry that glittered in the chamber’s candlelight. A fire opal
gleamed at her throat, dangling from a gold chain. Sapphires
dangled from silver earrings, and diamond encrusted bracelets
flashed at her wrists and ankles. Her nipples were pierced with
blood iron, but her favorite piece was the ruby piercing her
clit. She licked her ruby lips, and the diamond that pierced her
tongue glinted brightly until her tongue disappeared back into
her mouth. She was of average height, but nothing else about
her was average. Her hair was raven black; it was long, hanging
halfway down her back, and straight. Like her hair, her eyes were
also black. Her face was perfectly shaped with perfectly proportional
nose, lips, eyes, and chin, and her skin gleamed with
perfect health: there were absolutely no blemishes. Her breasts
were firm and well sized, not overly large. Her legs, hips, and buttocks
were what young women dreamed of when they imagined
themselves to be movie stars or models. Mors Morta loved to
gaze at herself in the mirror. There was no creature more perfect
than herself except perhaps her mother, the Morrigan. Thinking
of her mother displeased Mors Morta. Being the second most
powerful fae and the second most beautiful woman in the world
was just intolerable.
Mors Morta banished the thought of her mother from her
mind with a shake of her head. There was an unannounced
guest waiting for her, and he’d already been made to wait while
she bathed. She pondered for a moment what she should wear
and finally settled on just shadows. She enjoyed teasing men; it
was great sport. Aside from that, she never knew before hand
whether she’d take a man to her bed. It always depended on how
well they played the game. A shiver of anticipation ran through
her as she wondered how well her guest would play. Thraknir
had warned her that the stranger exuded a mysterious power far
beyond what he’d ever encountered. That was saying a whole lot
since Thraknir had served in both her court and her mother’s,
and she’d have him flayed if he’d exaggerated the guest’s power.
She’d gone to great lengths to prepare herself for the man; he’d
better be worth the effort.
As Mors Morta departed her bathing chamber, shadows
gathered around her and formed into a diaphanous gown that
both hid and revealed her most private parts with each movement.
Her head was held high, and a small smile played across
her features as she passed through her dominion and finally
entered the sitting room that she’d decided to use for this audience.
The room was dominated by a huge fireplace which blazed
with a crackling fire. The red carpet was plush and sensuous on
her naked feet. The chairs that dotted the room were elaborately
gilded affairs made of rare woods and satin cushions. The walls
were adorned with expensive original oil paintings and there
were two oak bookshelves stuffed with leather bound tomes. The
electric lights of the modern age were off. Mors Morta preferred
the light of real fire.
As she entered the room, she felt the roiling power that came
off of the stranger in waves. She knew immediately that he must
be containing that power in order for her not to have sensed it
miles away. It said a lot about his control that he could hide it
until she was in his direct presence. He was standing near the
fireplace and gazing into the fire as she walked in. He was tall, a
little over six feet, and his hair was brown and shoulder length.
His skin gleamed with health, with no visible blemishes, and
was perfectly bronzed as if he’d lived his life in the equatorial
regions of the world. His eyes were deep brown and were pools
of bottomless knowledge when he fixed them on her. He had
an eagle’s nose and his body looked perfect and muscular. Mors
Morta was filled with lust for the man as soon as her eyes met
his; she would bed him whether he played the game well or not;
it would be interesting to see if he could survive the ordeal. Only
one man had ever done that.
“I am Mors Morta,” she introduced herself to the stranger.
Her voice was like an angel’s and powerful compulsions rode
upon it. Her shadowy gown moved with each word, revealing
her secret places. “Who are you to demand an audience with the
heir of the Shadow Court?”
“I am The Man with Many Names,” the stranger answered
quietly. He seemed to be unfazed by her beauty or the magic she
was using on him. “I come to you as the avatar of Azathoth, the
Lord of Chaos.”
Mors Morta pursed her lips in displeasure. The shadows about
her grew thicker and hid her body completely. She’d heard of the
Old Cults; they worshiped old gods that supposedly predated
the Nephilim. Azathoth was their chief deity. Anyone who worshipped
the Old Ones was an enemy of the fae in her opinion.
She wanted to banish this Man with Many Names immediately,
but his power prevented her from ignoring him outright. He was
a real threat. What was he doing in Philadelphia, she wondered.
“What do you want?” she asked coldly.
“One of your minions interfered with my subjects a few days
ago,” he answered without emotion. “I want to negotiate an alliance
with you. I can make it worth your while. I can give you
your fondest wish. Ally with me and I’ll rid you of your mother
and you can ascend to her place.”
Mors Morta stared at The Man with Many Names in stunned
silence. How could he possibly know what her deepest fantasy
was? Visions of herself as the most powerful and beautiful fae
in the world flashed before her in a vision that she often daydreamed
“No!” she croaked, shaking her head violently. Now he was
using magic on her. He might be able to dispatch her mother
and elevate her to the highest ranks of the fae, but then she’d
be the thrall of two new masters, and the little that she knew of
the Old Ones told her that they would be far less pleasant than
The Man with Many Names sighed dramatically.
“Very well then. A truce. You and yours stay out of my affairs
and I’ll do the same.”
“Why should I agree to this?”
“Because if you don’t,” he said taking a step towards her. “I’ll
kill you and your whole household right now.”
His power rolled over her and drove her to her knees. The
power was on the same level as her mother’s, maybe even more.
She trembled as she forced herself back to her feet. The negotiation
was over. The terms were clear, and she saw no way around
the truce that didn’t involve her death. She would do what she
had to do to save herself, but she was smart enough to realize
that whatever this man was up to in Philadelphia, if he succeeded,
she’d probably wish he’d killed her anyways. The best
thing for now was to play along.
“Alright,” she panted. “I’ll sign a truce and call my people off.
Who interfered with your affairs?”
“A troll,” The Man with Many Names answered simply.
Mors Morta stifled a smile as she regarded her guest. The
only troll that she knew that could garner the attentions of a
power like this man was Alrik Solheim. Alrik was the king
of trolls, and he’d signed a treaty with the Shadow Court in
order to provide additional security for his nearly extinct race.
If there was anyone in Philadelphia who could throw a wrench
into the plans of a chaos cult, it was Alrik. Best of all, he could
act independently without her getting the blame since he was
technically an ally and not a minion.
“I’ll have the papers drawn up in the usual manner,” she said
turning away from the stranger and exiting the room. The usual
way was through a blood bond ritual. Thraknir would take care
of the details. She was pensive as she returned to her chambers.
A few hours in front of the mirror should calm her, she thought.
“Send for Alrik as soon as our guest has departed,” she ordered
her invisible servants. It had been some time since she’d had the
troll in her bed. The memories of those three encounters flooded
her, and she smiled wickedly as she studied her figure in the
mirror. Not only was Alrik the only man to have survive her bed,
he’d done it three times. She briefly considered not trying to
kill him as he reached climax this night, she needed him to deal
with The Man with Many Names after all, but she discarded
the idea almost immediately. She needed a good fuck more than
she’d needed it in a long time, and there was nothing like the
thrill of your partner knowing that you would strike to kill at
any time while you fornicated with him. Men were meant to
enjoy her perfection only once, and of course they should never
have another woman after partaking of her. Of the thousands of
men she’d fucked in her three centuries of life, only Alrik had
survived. To bed him again and not try to kill him would only be
an insult to him. Besides, if he couldn’t survive sex with her, how
the hell was he going to survive thwarting the avatar of a god?
They attacked the Order’s warehouse at 4:11 in the morning.
They were a day late due to unforeseen circumstances, but they’d
all fed well and rested during their delay. The city was deep in
slumber with only a few trucks on the road heading for their
early morning pick-ups or drop-offs so few would be around
to notice what was going on. The warehouse was a rectangular
structure with a flat roof and large double loading garage doors
in the front. Jezebel had never been to Providence before, but
the GPS gave her unerring directions through the small city’s
haphazard streets. She’d parked the Expedition a block away
from their target and they’d gone the rest of the way on foot.
The old crone had ordered them to stop when the wizards’ storage
building had come into view. Crouching, she’d slashed her
wrist with an obsidian knife and used the blood to draw arcane
symbols on the sidewalk. Jezebel and her pack mates had shied
away as the witch began to chant in a soft voice. The hair at
Jezebel’s nape had risen as a light had suddenly flared around the
warehouse. She thought she saw a huge tentacle beast beating at
the magical wall surrounding the warehouse. The vision lasted
only a moment and then the blue shimmering light exploded in
a shower of sparks.
“Go!” Bishop had hissed at them. “We have scant time before
the wizards send reinforcements.”
The vampires had vanished entirely; their speed was incredible
compared to Jezebel and her lackey’s. Jezebel called on the
beast within her to give her speed and launched herself towards
the warehouse after the vampires. She followed their nightmarish
scent where they’d crossed the street and gone down an
alley between the wizard’s warehouse and a furniture store. The
door half way down the alley had been smashed open and lay
on the floor twenty feet into the room. Jezebel smelled fresh
blood and heard moans coming from the darkness nearby. She
badly wanted to join the hunt, but that wasn’t the purpose for
which she’d been brought to this place. The vampires were here
to do the killing: she was here to seek. It was a good thing their
little delay had left her quite satisfied in the killing department
otherwise her beast would have been very hard to control. As it
was, it growled in frustration at being denied the opportunity to
join in the killing.
“Spread out and find the jars,” Jezebel growled to her two
companions. “I want them found in less than two minutes. Go!”
Jezebel followed her own command by sprinting towards the
back of the warehouse. She ignored a man who was stumbling
down the stairs to see what was going on. The vampires would
deal with him. She focused her attention on the smells of the
room. The scents of blood, dust, wood, cement, rusting iron, and
decay were a heady concoction that should have made it nearly
impossible to track down one specific scent, but she picked
up what she was looking for almost immediately. It was the
scent of salt mixed with sulfur and copper. She found the jars
packed in crates that were stored behind a chain linked fence.
Snapping the chain that held the fence gate shut and locked
was no challenge to Jezebel. Her pack mates had picked up the
same scent she’d followed and they joined her as she yanked
the gate open. She grabbed one of the large wooden crates and,
with ease, hoisted the more than two hundred pound box and
carried it towards the center of the warehouse. The witch had
entered the facility and was standing in the center of the room.
She was chanting again. Jezebel stopped and waited for nearly
a minute as Bishop uttered her incantation. The air in front
of the crone began to shimmer, and then a hole opened up
and hung suspended in the air giving Jezebel a view of a lit
room beyond. Jezebel almost dropped the crate she carried as
she stared at the sight in wonder. The hole opened wider until
it was more than large enough for two grown people to walk
“Bring that here,” Bishop snapped at her, and Jezebel obediently
brought the crate to her. When the witch motioned for
her to put the crate down, Jezebel did so and removed the lid by
prying her razor claws between the seams and pulling the lid off
with a screech of protesting nails. Jezebel and the witch peered
into the exposed crate; there were large jars filled with a blue
powder, and each was marked by a label with an alpha-numeric
code on them.
“What’s so important about these?” Jezebel asked with disgust.
The whole trip suddenly seemed like a waste of time to her.
“The greatest alchemist of all time is within one of these
crates,” the witch said with a mad gleam in her eyes. “When
I resurrect him, the secret lore of Yog Sothoth will once more
be known to man, and the portals of the outer dark will open
for our great god Azathoth. Now quit stalling and get all those
crates to the other side.”
Jezebel shivered, picked up the crate and, stepped through the
portal. She didn’t feel anything as she crossed the threshold. The
room beyond was colder and damper giving her the impression
that she was below ground, but nothing else happened. Her two
companions deposited their crates in the room, and the three of
them returned to the warehouse to pick up more. By this time,
two of the three vampires had joined them, the third having
been sent out to watch for possible trouble. Bishop watched
them impatiently as they made quick work of moving the crates.
She sent Jezebel back once more to make a quick sweep of the
warehouse upstairs and downstairs to make sure that no jars
were left undiscovered. Jezebel did in fact find a single jar locked
away in an upstairs safe. She couldn’t open the thing, so she
ripped the entire thing out of the wall and carried it down to the
waiting witch, who stared at her quizzically.
“Couldn’t pass up the chance for some loot, eh?” the crone
asked nonchalantly. “You’re sure there are no other jars?”
“There’s one in here,” Jezebel said hoisting the safe for emphasis.
“I can smell it, though it’s very faint. It’s lucky you sent
me up there and it attracted my attention. See what avarice can
There was a sudden crashing sound as one of the garage doors
was blown apart. The third vampire regained its feet before
Jezebel even had a chance to register that it had been hurled
through the door. Standing on the sidewalk just outside the garage
stood two angry looking men with blazing blue auras. One
was tall, wearing blue jeans, a white tee-shirt, and a black leather
jacket. He was pretty young looking and had a cocky look about
him. The other man was short with graying hair and piercing
blue eyes. He wore a black trench coat and sported a wooden
staff. The younger man raised his hand to strike at the vampire
again but failed to see the black streak of energy that shot from
Bishop’s outstretched hand. Meanwhile, the vampire turned its
attention to the other wizard and leaped at the older man who
shot a bolt of fire from his staff. The wizard’s flame bolt struck
the vampire, and it shrieked as its skin dissolved into a puddle.
Almost simultaneously, Bishop’s black bolt struck the younger
wizard, and he joined the vampire, screaming in agony as he fell
to the ground and flopped about like a fish out of water.
“Noah!” cried the older wizard as he crouched down to check
on his companion. He didn’t turn his eyes from the vampire
though, so he witnessed the big sack of blood filled jelly that
wriggled free from the vampire’s burned up body. The thing
seemed to float upwards, and it had dozens of tentacles protruding
from it. A look of terror crossed the older wizard’s face as
he once more raised his staff to send fire at his assailant. Before
the fire could spring from the staff ’s tip however, a tentacle shot
out from the floating blood sack and wrapped around his throat.
“Through the gate, you fool,” the witch croaked at Jezebel
and pushed her towards the portal. Jezebel did as she was told
though she badly wanted to stay to see the rest of the fight.
Bishop stayed on the other side for another two minutes then
the blood sack appeared and passed through the gate followed
by the witch and the two remaining vampires. The portal closed.
“What the fuck is that thing?” Jezebel asked nodding towards
the floating jelly bag.
“It’s a servant of our master,” Bishop answered shortly. “There’s
a lot of work to be done. Get back to your club and start getting
me some were-beasts to sacrifice.”
Jezebel stared at the witch in consternation. She hadn’t even
gotten her breath back yet and Bishop was already moving on
to the next task. At least the next part of the plan involved her
working with her own people with no witch or vampire involvement.
She looked around to get her bearings.
“Where the hell are we?”
“Byberry, the vampires can show you out.”
My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.