The dagger felt heavy in my hand as I clenched the hilt, praying for an easy kill. The drow cocked his head to the side, studying me, and for a moment, my revulsion was overwhelmed by fear. His lips curled back into a death’s mask grin to reveal a mouthful of crooked teeth, and my disgust snapped back.
“I have to admit...” he taunted, “I expected more from the last Covais.”
You and everyone else. I lashed out with the dagger.
He dodged a right hand strike. Fast as he was, I was just that much faster. I swiped the switchblade off my thigh with my left and it sunk deep in his side. Ripping it out, I stepped back and waited for his next move. He stared down at the gushing wound, sliding his fingers through the dark blood. He seemed confused that it was on the outside.
The sight was actually quite amusing, but I knew this might be my only opening. I spun the dagger in my palm, seized it and stabbed him in the throat. His eyes snapped open as the blade embedded into the wall behind him, pinning him like a bug. His mouth made a gurgling noise between gasps for air. I leaned in close, but the smell of rotting meat held me back at arms' length. “How’s that for the last Covais?”
His eyes rolled back into their sockets as his body fell limp. His bones cracked and his throat muscles tore as his weight hung heavy on the blade.
Asshole. Served him right.
I tapped my foot in the pool of blood on the pavement at my feet. This is just great. I glared at the drooping troll with annoyance. Fifteen-thousand, fourteen-thousand, thirteen-thousand…the elders were going to throw a fit…ten-one-thousand, nine-one-thousand…and where were my guardians?!…seven-one-thousand, six-one-thousand…he ruined my favorite shirt!…three-one-thousand, two-one-thousand…
Oh, screw it!
I grabbed the dagger with both hands and ripped it out of the mortar with a growl. His body disintegrated in a flurry of glitter and ash as the blade sliced through what had been his neck. All that remained were the stains.
I let out the breath in my lungs and tried not to smell his stench on the next inhale. As I wished for rain to wash the blood away, the skies opened. I held my arms out to it, turning my wrists to rinse the blades. Dropping my head onto my shoulders, I let the water wash my face and soak through my clothes and hair. Calm now, I sheathed my blades and kicked off my strappy sandals, surrendering my feet to the cool puddles and flat concrete. Drow, check. Man who created heels...run and hide!
As I leaned to hook my finger through the straps, suddenly the air in the alley changed. I snapped my eyes to the each individual shadow and I knew in an instant, I wasn’t alone.
I inched backward on the broken blacktop and made a slow, deliberate turn, following the surge of energy coming from the end of the alley. It was cold, but familiar and I felt compelled. I took another step, then a third, and with each step forward, the feeling became stronger. It tiptoed across my skin like icy fingers, then hands sliding across my legs and up my back. I shivered and as the phantom pulled away, I saw it. A wisp of black, like wings, that spiraled up to join the dark sky.
“Nate?” I asked the sky above.
There was no answer.
The shadows came now and then. They touched; I chased. They fled; I called to them. They never answered. It was like they never were.
In the dark, almost masked by the patter of rain, there was a new rhythm. Splashes in puddles, pads on wet pavement. Claws scratching, getting louder. And then, there was only the rain. Hot breath puffed on my lower back. Shifter! I reached for my dagger, while cursing my missing guardians under my breath.