I hope this story makes sense. I had to rush through it late last night after a late work night, and I actually just took my lunch hour finishing it up. So no real big introduction this time, other than to say I think I’m going to stay within the New Vanhelm/Darklight universe for awhile. I know I’ll probably switch it up a bit occassionally – I still want to explore Violet’s universe a little bit too, but for the most part, the guild hunters keep calling to me lately.
I hope everyone enjoys!
Writing Prompt: A Wolf’s Dilemma
With a wet splat, Maddie dropped a bloody slipper on the worn counter of evidence intake.
“Jesus, Maddie! What the hell?” Incensed, Matt, the guildy manning the desk this evening, leapt back from his chair and glared at her.
“Bag it and tag it, Matt.” Grinning wearily, Maddie turned to go, looking forward to a very hot, very long, shower.
“Hey! You can’t just leave that here! And you’re supposed to bag it and tag it at the scene.”
Turning back, Maddie glowered at the sodden footwear. “Yeah, well… there wasn’t much of a scene left, and that’s all that was left of the dumbass wizard who was experimenting with a volatile expansion spell.”
Matt poked at the slipper with the end of a pencil. “Expansion spell? What was he trying to expand?”
It took a minute for him to register the meaning behind her raised eyebrows.
Laughing so hard he had to wipe tears from his eyes, Matt reached under the desk for a pair of gloves and a couple of clear plastic bags. He began bagging the slipper with a disgusted look. “Why didn’t you just call dispatch for an assist?”
“I forgot to charge my cellphone. It died about an hour before the call. Now… I hear home calling my name.”
Having just carefully bagged the gloves, Matt quickly slapped a form on a clipboard and waved it at her. “You can’t leave without filling these out.”
Maddie groaned and, ignoring the forms, showed him her bloody hands. “Give me ten minutes to wash up. I’ll be right back. And you suck.”
Chuckling, Matt let her go, heading towards the evidence room with his grisly treasures.
Making her way towards the locker rooms, Maddie had just rounded a corner when she heard her name being called. “Maddie! Maddie! Wait up!”
An out-of-breath Jimmy ran up to her, his dark skin glistening slightly as if he’d been running around for awhile. That can’t be good. Jimmy was the main dispatcher for the guild. If he had been looking for her it was for a reason.
“Hey, Jim. What’s up?” Heading into the women’s locker room she had to give him props. He followed her after only the slightest hesitation. Lucky for him it was late at night – or early in the morning depending on how you looked at it – and the room was deserted.
“Maddie, what the hell?”
Rolling her eyes, she wondered why everyone was asking her that tonight. Striding to the closest sink, she started scrubbing her hands so hard it hurt.
“I’ve been calling you for the past hour. Did you let your phone die again?” Jimmy waved a hand under the paper towel dispenser and gathered a handful for her.
Ignoring his question – he knew the answer – Maddie took the towels from him and raised an eyebrow. “What’s going on?”
“I need you to go down to Howlers at 4th. You know, the place owned by wolves? Where they make the girls wear skimpy outfits with the howling wolf on their…” He made an unmistakable gesture of holding his hands spread wide in front of his own chest and bouncing them slightly.
Rolling her eyes, Maddie nodded.
“Well, someone trashed the place and the owner is requesting a witch.”
“Ugh. I’m tired Jimmy. What about Kara?”
“Kara is already on assignment and has her hands full.” He grinned at her, his teeth gleaming under the locker room lights. “She has a new partner.”
Maddie found herself smiling too. Kara had recently acquired a new roommate – or pet – depending on how you looked at it. She had finally caved to the dubious friendship of Mun, a fera imp who had taken a curious liking to her. Fera imps were cute beyond belief, but so mischievous the cuteness didn’t save them much. Kara’s had a tendency to follow her out on hunts, much to the delight of her fellow guild mates. “Can’t wait to hear the latest on Mun’s shenanigans.” And she would. Kara was one of her closest friends and tended to call her first to complain. At length.
Exhaustion suddenly swamped her, and she sighed wearily. “Jimmy, there are a dozen other witches in the guild. Call one of them. I have to fill out some paperwork for Matt and then I’m going home to the hottest shower I can stand and B. E. D.”
Following her out of the locker room, Jimmy shook his head. “I can’t. The owner needs someone that can do a praetrumbra revala.”
Maddie halted mid-stride and turned troubled eyes to the dispatcher. “For property damage?”
“Apparently someone left a threatening message. He’s taking it seriously.” They both began walking swiftly down the hallway. “And he’s willing to pay the price.” The spell was usually used at the scene of a murder if it was found in time, and the guild charged a lot of money for it to be done. A lot.
She quickened her pace. “How long has it been?” A praetrumbra revala had to be done within a few hours of the time of the incident for it to be effective.
“I tried calling you immediately, so just over an hour.” Crap.
Pushing through the large, ornate doorway of the guildhall, Maddie headed towards her car. Jimmy kept pace to give her a bit more information about the scene and what to expect when she arrived. “Oh,” he grabbed her car door as she was about to shut it. “Owner’s name is Wyatt Ardolf.”
“Got it.” Pulling the door shut, she started the car, then rolled down the window when she heard Jimmy shout her name from halfway across the parking lot. “What? I have to go!”
“Charge your damn phone!”
Waving in acknowledgement, Maddie floored the gas, grateful for the ungodly hour and vacant streets. It wasn’t until she was halfway to Howlers that she remembered Matt. The spell obviously took precedence over some boring paperwork, but she knew he’d hunt her down eventually.
That’s what they did. They hunted.
Wyatt snapped his head up when he heard a feminine voice ask for him at the door of his restaurant, Howlers. From her leather armor – and various weapons not so subtly arrayed – she was clearly from the guild. “It’s about time,” he mumbled.
Then said it again louder as he stormed over to the curvy redhead surveying the damage near the door. “It’s about time!”
Zoe, his bartender, had been about to point him out, but now left them alone as she carefully made her way back to the bar area, feet crunching on broken glass. She looked torn between crying and killing someone as she carefully inspected what was left of her domain, trying to see if anything had survived. His guess would be nothing.
The guild hunter had the good grace to blush and look apologetic. “Sorry about the wait. Technical difficulties.” Viridian eyes narrowed, she scanned the restaurant, seeming to take in everything at once. “Do you know anything about what happened.”
“My name is Maddie Miller. Don’t call me miss.”
Momentarily thrown, Wyatt could only stare at her. “I don’t care what your name is. Can you do the spell? The… the prat.. prattum-”
“Praetrumbra revala. And yes I can. How long ago do you think this happened?” Hands on her hips – hips he hadn’t failed to notice – he looked away to take in the overturned tables, broken chairs, and glittering shards of glass that seemed to cover everything. Whoever had done this had broken nearly every glass, cup, and plate he owned. Not to mention the staggering amount of smashed liquor bottles and the large glass mirror that had lined the wall behind the bar. Now shattered, the black backing grinned mockingly at him with large glass splinters for teeth.
Anger shook him and he fought The Change, wanting to lash out at something. He couldn’t stop the low growl that escaped though. Nor the gravelly tone he had when he spoke between clenched teeth. “It had to have been no more than four or five hours ago. We close at eleven, cleanup and shutdown takes an hour. I was already home, grabbing a quick shower before bed, when I remembered I forgot the deposit and had to come back… so the place was empty for maybe two hours. When I arrived I found the place like this. I called Zoe as I checked the damage, she’s a partial owner. I then called the guild.” Pinning her with a look, he tried to rein in his anger. It wasn’t her fault someone had done this, but he couldn’t resist adding, “And waited.”
Having already apologized once, she didn’t seem inclined to do so again, and walked further into the restaurant. “Damn. This is going to be close. We may only have one shot at this. The spell only works on a small area surrounding me. About eight feet square, if that. Show me where you want me to perform the spell.”
Wyatt knew exactly where. He took her to the other side of the restaurant. The place was separated by a partition wall. On one side was the bar, but on the other side was more family style seating with booths and tables where families could enjoy the expanse of windows along the opposite wall. It was also where they could move seating to accommodate larger parties. Here, the asshole that had done this had thankfully left the windows intact. He hadn’t left them alone though.
Painted in large red letters across three sections of glass, were the words, “YOUR NEXT DOG!” Only paint hadn’t been used.
“They spelled you’re wrong.”
Wyatt stared at her a second as she moved closer to the macabre graffiti. He then gave a short bark of laughter. “That was actually my first thought too… until I realized that it’s written in blood. My cousin’s.”
Her green eyes darkened and she leaned forward to inspect the X better. “How do you know?”
He waited until she turned to look at him and tapped his nose. “We’ve gotten into enough scrapes that I know the scent.”
A look of momentary surprise lit up her features as if she had forgotten he was a wolf. “Oh… that’s right. Can you smell anything else?”
“I can smell a lot of everything else. That’s the problem. Too many people come and go for me to get a good scent. Even near…” he waved a hand at the windows, “this.” Wyatt moved to stand next to her. “Then there’s the added scents of food, cleaning solutions, and now over a hundred different types of alcohols… I’d be lucky to pick up my own scent in this mess. Blood is different though, especially when it’s relatively fresh. Cuts through the other scents.”
Nodding, Maddie grabbed his arm and pulled him back from the windows a few feet. He was suddenly hyper aware of her touch on him and couldn’t stop looking at her. Especially when she raised her hands, palms out towards the windows, and her verdant green eyes snapped white and opaque with a blink of her lashes. He found himself holding his breath, but wasn’t sure if it was from the tingly electric feeling her spell was causing in the air; or the tingly electric feeling he felt in his gut as he realized just how pretty he found her. No, not pretty… beautiful.
“Stay right where you are don’t move. We can’t leave this area until the spell finishes or we’ll disrupt it, and we may not have another chance to try again.” She mumbled foreign words under her breath, her strange eyes taking on a luminescence. Crimson strands of her hair escaped her pony tail and moved on their own, as if caught in a breeze though there was none.
Several minutes passed as she concentrated, sometimes frowning slightly. He found himself absorbed in her facial expressions, and was nearly startled when she addressed him.
“Stop staring at me and look towards the windows.”
He tore his gaze away from her and then felt the hair along his neck rise as he took in the silent, shadowed form moving about the room. He couldn’t help the involuntary growl that escaped him. This is not natural.
Though darkly translucent, and slightly blurry, Wyatt recognized the person responsible immediately. “Lia?” He couldn’t believe it.
They watched as the figure slammed ghostly tables and chairs out of the way. She then left the area and he started to follow her before remembering that they couldn’t move. He began to worry the spell had stopped working when the shadow came back, this time carrying something. It turned out to be a large jar. He knew what was in it even before she began smearing the letters onto the windows. “Lia… what have you done? What have you done!”
In his anger he moved forward intending to strangle the ghostly figure, but he accidentally bumped Maddie’s arm, breaking her concentration. The apparition immediately winked out. “No!”
Running forward, Wyatt found himself braced for battle, his claws had come out of their own volition, and he glanced about wildly, breathing hard and hackles raised.
A throat cleared behind him, and he spun to see Maddie, back to normal, one scarlet eyebrow arched in mild admonishment. She chose not to take him to task for losing control and ruining her spell though. “Who’s Lia?”
Forcing his body back under control, he walked her back towards the bar area where Zoe had swept some of the glass into the beginning of a pile. “Her name is Accalia. She’s part of the Scarlet Tooth Pack… and she’s my ex.”
“Wait.” Maddie eyed him in disbelief. “Accalia Vargas? She’s your ex?”
Wyatt glared at her. “We all make mistakes.”
Overlooking his bad mood, Maddie laughed, eyes twinkling as she teased, “Yeah, but most of those mistakes don’t involve someone who has been jailed three times by Darklight. Two of which were for attacking the guild leader! She’s lucky she’s not dead!”
“To my understanding, she was drunk both times and he was interrogating her father… with his fists.” He let out a hard sigh. “Besides… I said ex.”
Pulling a small notebook and pencil from one of the many small pockets of the dark leather bandolier crossing her front, she began to write swiftly while still questioning him. “You said the blood belonged to your cousin. Who is that?”
“Beryn. He’s in my pack. Silver Walkers. But you don’t have to worry about it now. We’ll handle it.”
She stopped writing long enough to shoot a glare at him. “Like hell. A potential murder in New Vanhelm committed by a known guild threat? You better believe we’re involved.”
This time he didn’t bother trying to hold back his low growl and let his voice purposely darken with the wolf. “This is pack business.” From the corner of his eye, he saw Zoe watching them warily, her own claws extended, prepared to help him if things got out of hand. He had no intention of letting things get out of hand. He wouldn’t hurt her. But he also didn’t want the guild sticking it’s nose in pack business.
Maddie noticed Zoe too though, and faster than he thought possible she whipped away her notepad and started a complicated hand gesture. Recognizing the beginning of a holding spell, he immediately went to stop her, but she kept out of his reach just long enough to finish the last finger flex. A circle of power emanated from her just as he went to grab her hands to halt the spell. He found himself frozen, an inch from her raised fingers.
Surprisingly, he found he still had control of his head and proceeded to make use of it immediately. “Let. Me. Go. Now!” Scowling at her, Wyatt let his vision blur slightly, letting the wolf out a bit more, knowing his eyes would sheen threateningly, before coming into sharp focus on her face. Her very angry face.
Again, he was struck by how attractive she was. Even frozen as he was, he was fascinated by the way her eyebrows drew to together. The way her nose flared. The way her mouth frowned… and then started berating him.
“Look, wolf. Whether you like it or not the guild is involved. You should have thought of that possibility when you called us. Speaking of which…” Ducking under his outstretched arms she began running her hands all over him. He was disconcerted to discover that though he was frozen, immobile, he could still feel. He bit back a groan as her hands patted closer towards his hips.
“Ah ha! There it is!” Pulling back, she flipped open her phone and grinned at him saucily as she dialed a number and waited for someone to pick up. She knew exactly where his mind had gone during her pat down.
She spoke quickly to the same guy he had spoken with earlier when he had called the guild for help – Jimmy, the dispatcher. She gave a quick update, then hung up without saying goodbye and slipped his phone back into his pants pocket.
One eyebrow raised – something he noticed she did a lot – she stared at him intently for a moment, and he wondered if she was as into him as he was into her. Not that it made any difference. Shaking her head, she suddenly snorted and headed for the door. “The spell will wear off in ten minutes. I’ll send a crew back to help with the cleanup, but I’ll be back later tonight to speak with you more. I need to go start the paperwork for the investigation. Oh, crap!” Strangely, she paused to tilt her head back and moan in frustration at the ceiling.
Wyatt glanced up, but didn’t see anything up there that could upset her so. “Fine! I accept the guild’s-,” interference, “-assistance. I apologize for overreacting. Unfreeze us now.” He stared astonished as she resumed walking. ” Where are you going!”
Without glancing back, she snarled, “To fill out some paperwork!” And slammed out of the restaurant. Clearly her mood had soured.
He heard Zoe snicker and found her also frozen, but grinning at him knowingly. “So… she seems nice.”
Sighing heavily, he ignored her, already feeling the spell release the tips of his fingers. He had a feeling he was going to have his hands full the next several days. He had to find Lia, find out what she had done to Beryn and if he was alright – and he better be alright – and now… now it seemed he was going to be seeing more of the witch.
He just couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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