After taking a few shots and videos of the gruesome scene before us, Ms Pink puts her arm back around me and leads me away from the clearing. Not a few steps away later, Ms Pink halts. I look at her, hairs on my neck and arms prickling in unease. This thick jungle is getting creepier by the second.
By some unbeknownst instinct that lies inside of me, I stay quiet. The hand on my shoulder squeezes and I inch closer to Ms Pink as she scans the darkness around us. Resisting the urge to ask Ms Pink what she’s looking for, my eyes rove around the old, gnarly trees standing crooked around us and check the shadows are having fun dancing around, creating illusions of movement behind trunks and branches. I don’t think the training I’ve been put through has heightened my senses to a supernatural standard but strangely, I’m able to pick up something in the darkness to our left. Like the captes, it disturbs my mind and the air around me. It makes me uneasy, as though I’m not supposed to even breathe.
A sudden cloud of tension drops, making me gasp as a misty figure appears in front of us. Who is it? What is it? The shroud that covers it is dirty and murky like it has been dipped in mud over and over again. Shadows hide the face of this strange being so I can’t tell if it’s human or not. But judging from circumstances, I’d wager a generous sum on it being a super.
“Who are you?” Ms Pink asks the figure.
“Who are we?” says the figure with a voice that deep freezes my spine. Low and hoarse, it reminds me of horror movies that I’ve watched and that’s not a pleasant thought. Then it strikes me. Did it just say ‘we’?
“That’s what I asked,” Ms Pink replies without displaying any sign of surprise at the use of a plural pronoun.
“You will find out,” the voice cackles. “In your afterlife.”
“Only if you can send me there.”
A hand pushes me behind Ms Pink as she pulls out her shocking pink gun and shoots. The figure, as crouched down as it is, moves faster than expected and dodges to its left. Another try ends up futile as well. Perhaps thinking the bullets won’t get it, Ms Pink puts her gun away and crouches as it speeds towards us. Ms Pink launches herself at it with a growl, pushing me further back as she leaps.
I stumble back and fall, ending up on my back in the grass. Pushing myself up, I watch as Ms Pink clashes with the figure that seems to pull darkness closer to itself. Their hands go for the throats and in the little dash of the setting sun’s rays, Ms Pink’s fangs glint as they dip down towards the being’s neck. It dodges fast, however, so Ms Pink’s fangs end up sinking into the flesh of what looks like a rough, uneven, hideous face.
A soul-piercing scream rips through the still air and I cringe, covering my ears and pulling my knees to my chest. From behind, a pair of hands grab me and before I can make any sound, something rudely pungent is stuffed into my mouth. A frisson of terror runs through my body before my mind is able to recover. But by then, I’m already trussed up and rendered helpless to save myself, let alone help Ms Pink. Unless . . .
Focusing on Ms Pink, I engage the fear that is rearing up inside. It intensifies when another shrouded figure jumps onto Ms Pink, pulling her arms away from the one lying beneath her. I cry out, muffled by the object stuffed in my mouth and the terror is about to turn into anger when my attention is diverted to the touch of a sharp point digging into my neck. I stiffen from head to toe but that does nothing to stop the point from breaking skin and entering the deeper layers of my neck. The searing pain sends me into shock and I retaliate with my mind, screaming into the darkness that is claiming my vision.
At once, the piercing point leaves my neck and the pair of beings fighting with Ms Pink are thrown off. Ms Pink is sent flying too, but she is back up on her feet a second earlier than the rest. That slight advantage is all she needs for her gun is back out and she shoots twice, each bullet finding its target with ease.
The strangled screeching that the beings emit upon being shot send shudders through my entire body. Still trussed up like a turkey bound for the oven, all I can do is watch as the haunting eyes of the two beings snap wide open. Much to my horror, instead of weakening and dying, they manage to get back on their feet, and join hands. Their mouths begin to move almost unperceptively but foreign, alien sounding words fill the air like some kind of sick chant a cult would do.
Ms Pink’s gasp of shock is as audible mine when the bullets she shot emerge from their bodies and float in the air, glistening in the last of the sun’s rays. The chanting grows louder and the next thing I know, the bullets are speeding towards Ms Pink and me.
This is it. I’m gonna die. Right here like this.
My mouth opens in a silent scream as my body braces itself for the entry of a lethal bullet. But it doesn’t happen. Nothing enters my body. Or at least, I don’t feel anything entering my body. Opening my eyes, I’m greeted by the sight of a swarm of captes floating around me, acting like a shield. And a new figure, standing by Ms Pink’s side. Her hands are balled into fists and great waves of sensuality fill the air. Looking at the waves of black hair tumbling down the figure’s back and the relatively skimpy outfit donned, I know without anymore doubt that is it Yuri.
“You brazen hags. Whose orders do you follow,” Yuri demands to know.
“Ignorant novice,” the voice cackles. “We answer to no one.”
“We are royals and we govern the land to keep the peace. You shall answer to us.”
A blood-chilling cackle of laughter thunders through the air, surrounding us. “Don’t you know what’s coming? Ignorance will be your undoing.” The shrouds fall and black mist permeates the air. “Go to hell! Go to—”
Yuri flips her hair and the horrible being chokes in the middle of its sentence. But it only lasts for a second or two before dark laughter fills the air again.
“Your inferior succubus power shall not control our minds. You will be reduced to ruins!”
A roar of anger from Ms Pink precedes a gigantic burst of flames that has me shielding my face from the intense heat, even with the captes providing a buffer between the flames and me. The flames roll into fireballs and go for the brazen hags, as Yuri called them. Upon collision, the fireballs splinter into streaks of light and even though the brazen hags seem to take no damage, I can sense a shift in their energy. They have been weakened, perhaps from the bullets that penetrated them and the blast of my energy a little earlier. And that seems to be reason for them to step back.
“This is only the beginning,” they cackle and disappear into the massive cloud of black mist.
Ms Pink and Yuri share a look for a moment before Ms Pink turns to me. Seeing me trussed up and lying on the ground, she takes vampire strides to me and frees me in no time at all.
“You did well,” she tells me, her eyes smouldering pink.
Behind her, Yuri scoffs. “Quite the natural submissive.”
Ms Pink’s eyes flash an intense pink. “You did not witness her defence of me.”
Yuri frowns. “She blasted her energy?” A few supernatural strides later, Yuri is holding Ms Pink’s face in her hands, examining her closely. Then, she turns to me with anger written plainly in her furrowed brows and black-pink swirling eyes. “You imbecile. You have weakened Pan Ni.” Turning back to Ms Pink, she says, “We must leave this place right now.”
Yuri’s words pound on my ears over and over again as we move out at supernatural speed. In the arms of Ms Pink, I close my eyes and try to sense the energy within her as I could with the brazen hags. But before I can make any connection with her, she is already putting me in her car.
“Ms Pink, I’m sorry,” I whisper.
“Shh. Don’t listen to Yuri.”
A full kiss on my lips silences me.
“Be quiet, stupid human.”
Back at Ms Pink’s castle, Yuri storms into the dining hall and plants herself on a chair at the dining table. “Bring out your best wine Pan Ni.”
I bristle at the way she orders Ms Pink around but Ms Pink laughs and obliges the seething succubus’s request.
“Drink up,” Ms Pink says to me as a wine glass, a quarter filled with blood red wine (I hope it’s wine), is placed on the dining table.
I take a tentative sip. It is red wine. My body sags with relief and I take a larger sip, allowing the liquid to flow down my throat, warming everything in its path.
Ms Pink, however, pours herself a thicker blood-red concoction from a different decanter and I am sure that is blood and not wine. After placing the decanter at the side, Ms Pink finally takes a seat at the table with us.
“What made you go to Elv’s forest?” Ms Pink asks Yuri.
“I got to know you had gone there when Edith mentioned it.”
“I left Edith a note informing her of it, yes, but why did you go there?”
“You can thank my amazing supernatural seventh sense.”
“I’m not in the mood for jokes, Yuri.”
“My junior succubi who is loyal to me came to me about something she had overheard.”
“What did she overhear?”
“She was at the club—Full Moon. She heard a group of vampires talking about a setup in Elv.”
“She didn’t get a clear view. She wasn’t even sure if she had heard it correctly but it sounded shady so she came to tell me.”
Ms Pink frowns. “He has more allies than we thought.”
Yuri shrugs. “Naturally. The more powerful you are, the easier it is to get allies.”
“We will be more powerful than him.”
Yuri shakes her head and downs the glass of wine in one gulp. “I’m afraid your faith might be misplaced.”
“There’s more than one plan.”
“But you are depending too much on one particular plan. And you know I don’t like it. I have never liked it.”
“I don’t care what that ancient book says. We all know that it could very well be a stupid book of legends and myths.”
“Humans are convinced we are legends and myths too, Yuri.”
“Whatever. You’re the boss.” Yuri stands and drags her fingers through her luxurious black hair. “I need my dose of sex now. Meeting adjourned.”
I don’t say a word as Yuri sweeps past me and out of the dining hall. All I do is stare. At my empty glass. When did I finish my wine?
“Let’s go to bed,” says Ms Pink, breaking the silence. “I need to have sex too.”