“Sabina, now!” Zen shouted.
The air more solid now. A male human form.
I slammed my wrist to the dirt and ground it in. As I did, I yelled, “Spirits of the Loa, Hekate, Great Mother Lilith, I summon and evoke thee to guide these spirits to strike down my enemies!”
A male. Translucent. A shock of red hair— the same hair I’d seen in my dream with the werewolf and the shotgun. Master Mahan. Cain.
The combination of Zen’s spell and my blood forced the earth to shift and buckle. Horrible groaning and pounding began inside the nearby tombs. The vamp cringed and looked around. The loss of concentration made the transparent form of the Master waver and go static.
Lavinia had gone still, her eyes alert but worried. “What is that noise?” she yelled.
I didn’t have to answer, because in the next instant the first revenant broke through. It— the level of decay prevented me from guessing a gender— exploded from a vault near the spot where the vamp and mage had almost succeeded in summoning Cain.
Pushing its way through the humans, the zombie went straight for the vampire. Judging from the screams of the vamp, he’d never seen a zombie before. The mage dropped the tome and tried to run. Two revenants broke off to catch the mage, who screamed as their rotted bones dug into his neck. Couldn’t blame him for his fear— no one ever expects zombies.
When the mage released his death rattle, Cain’s shimmering form popped and disappeared as the aborted summoning spell wore off.
Skeletal hands clawed at the vamp’s head, tearing clumps of red hair, the pale skin left in ribbons. A loud, wet crunch as the skull gave way. I averted my eyes as the zombie fell to the ground to feast on the vampire’s twitching body.
“No!” Lavinia watched the display in horror. “By the gods, what blasphemy is this?”
I rose on shaky legs. “I figured since you and Cain are so interested in my Chthonic magic, I’d arrange a little demonstration.”
More revenants burst free from their tombs. Four broke off from the pack and headed for Lavinia. Instead of running or screaming, she flashed her fangs and fell into a fighting stance. If I hadn’t hated her with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns, I might have admired the way she faced them down.
“Wait,” I called.
Hollow eye sockets set in gray skulls turned toward me.
The revenants backed away, some even bowing on creaking bones. Lavinia regarded me with wary eyes as I approached. In the distance, the sounds of fighting were dying down. A muted cheer rose. But as long as Lavinia breathed, this battle would never be over.
I picked up the sword. The hilt felt warm in my hand. The heat from Lavinia’s hand hadn’t dissipated. My grandmother’s chin rose. “You’re a fool.”
I paused, swinging the sword in front of me. “I know.”
Behind Lavinia, the third member of our f**ked-up family stumbled in our direction— a pale, blood-streaked specter. Seeing the murder darkening Maisie’s eyes, I realized she had every right to crave Lavinia’s death, too. In fact, she had more. Lavinia had used me and manipulated me my whole life. But the tragedies Maisie had endured in just a few days overshadowed anything I’d endured at our grandmother’s hands.
Lavinia cocked her head, obviously confused by my easy agreement. Slower, she said, “You didn’t stop him tonight. He’ll find you.”
I was done with vague threats and archaic prophecies. Instead of responding to her dire prediction, I said, “I have one question for you.”
“No, I never loved you,” she barked.
I laughed. “Seriously? You think I haven’t figured that out by now?” I spread my hands wide and nodded to my blood-spattered body and the carnage surrounding us.
Her eyes narrowed into slits. “Then why do you hesitate? Do the deed, or admit your fear.”
She was right, I was stalling. Not because I was afraid. But because doing so would allow the scales to balance once and for all. “My question is this: Weren’t you the one who always told me to never turn my back on an enemy?”
She frowned. “Yes. Why?”
Maisie struck then. Her fangs cut deep into Lavinia’s neck. Caught off guard, the Domina froze in shock. Maisie’s arms clamped around our grandmother as she bit deeper and drank greedily from the jugular. Lavinia reanimated with a vengeance, struggling and screaming for help. But no one was left to help her. Soon, her pale complexion took on the powdery blue cast of impending death.
Passing through the bowing revenants, I limped toward the slab where the Caste guys had held Maisie. I reached it just as Lavinia screamed my name. Picked up the book and shoved it into my waistband, when the screams cut off abruptly. I released the Chthonic goddess powers back into the ground where they belonged. As the dark, shadowy energy swirled out of me, a wet ripping sound reached my ears. Closed my eyes when a flash of heat scorched my back.
Ding dong, the bitch was dead.
The knowledge should have filled me with joy. Instead, I felt hollow. Totally empty.
I looked up to see Zen, PW, and Giguhl watching the display with somber expressions. “Go help her,” I said quietly. Despite the fact I knew I’d done the right thing letting Maisie kill Lavinia, I couldn’t face her right then.
“Um, Sabina?” Giguhl said. I looked up. “What about them?” He nodded to the revenants.
I sighed and turned toward the rotting crowd. I didn’t worry I’d have to kill them all like I did Kevin. This time, by instinct, I knew the revenants merely waited for my command. “Your work here is done. I release you. May you rest in peace.”
The zombies obeyed immediately. As they shambled slowly toward their crypts and tombs, Giguhl and Zen went to Maisie’s kneeling form. Soft keening sounds rose from her huddled body as she rocked next to the scorch mark that had once been our grandmother. My conscience told me I should go to her.
But I couldn’t. The image of Maisie feeding from Adam was too fresh. Besides, I wasn’t sure I could be anyone’s cheerleader right then. Adam was dead, Maisie was broken, and I felt ….. nothing. No hope for the future. No confidence everything would work out. Hell, I wasn’t even sure I’d actually won, given Lavinia’s prediction that Cain wouldn’t stop coming after me.
But as I turned away, I knew one thing: Letting Maisie kill Lavinia had been the right choice. Instead of feeling robbed of the opportunity for revenge, I felt like justice had been done. Maisie had just served our grandmother a heaping spoonful of her own bitter medicine.