Bloodlust - Helen Harper

Chapter One

The suffocating pain in my head just wouldn’t go away. It didn’t help, of course, that the bickering at the table was getting progressively louder with each disagreement.

“We’re wasting our time with this.” Scorn dripped palpably from Staines’ voice.

I wondered idly whether, in my position as head of the task force designed to take down Endor, I could force the werebear to attend charm school. Maybe in Switzerland with a bunch of well-to-do teenage girls. Or perhaps Timbuktu.

“It’s hardly our fault that he’s not come back to this plane in the last week. Divination only stretches so far. We’re not God, for goodness’ sake.”

I decided I’d send the entire delegation of mages along with him. They would be good at studying after all the years they had to spend at mage academies learning their art; in fact, they’d probably fit right in.

“Clearly,” Staines sniffed.

“Her Most Eloquent and Gracious Majesty, the Summer Queen, believes that we should begin examining which planes this low-life human scum may be cowering in.”

“And you’re volunteering for that, are you? Starting with the first few hundred thousand?”

Beltran sent Lucy a withering look. “We’re quite happy to narrow it down to a small list of possible demesnes and let you, as the brawn and clearly not the brains of this operation, investigate. It’s about time the Brethren stepped up to the plate.”

Just to keep things fair, I’d order the faeries to attend military bootcamp. Preferably in Siberia. Not that they didn’t know how to fight, but they needed to be encouraged sometimes to follow orders and step up to the proverbial plate.

A pulsating vein began to appear at the side of Staines’ forehead. I watched it, momentarily fascinated.

“Are you suggesting that we are stupid or something? Where exactly do the lot of you think that you would be without us right about now? Our strategies and tactics provided the single glimpse of an opportunity to take down this Endor.”

“Strategy and tactics that came as a result of the Draco Wyr, not you. Besides,” stated the Fae with a deliberate air of nonchalance, “you failed that time. Or had you forgotten?”

A deep rumble emanated from Lucy’s throat. “At least we were there. You lot were hiding out in the woods.”

“We were hardly hiding. If it hadn’t been for our intervention in bringing the humans along, then imagine how much worse things would have gotten. I rather think we saved the day, in as much as it could have been saved. We don’t have to be here, you know. We can quite happily stay in Tir-na-Nog and leave tracking down Endor to you. But we’re not so heartless as to leave you without any hope of beating him.”

“Not so heartless? Hold on a minute,” interrupted Larkin. “When have you lot ever given a shit about any other species? You’re only here because you want a piece of her,” he jerked his head in my direction. “You’re the most fickle, untrustworthy and soulless creatures out there!”

“You mean more soulless than the necromancer whom we’re all here for in the first place? Really?”

“Don’t speak to him like that!”

“I’ll speak to him and you and anyone else who comes along in any manner that I please. What use are the lot of you magic men providing anyway?”

Max pushed his chair back. “Say that again.”

“What use are the lot of you magic men…” the Fae began.

Blue light began to buzz and flicker around Max’s bare skin. “I will destroy you.”

“Destroy me? I don’t think you even know how to create the simplest tracking spell, let alone something that can harm me.” He smirked. “Well? Do you?”

“Is the Pope a freaking Catholic? Do bears shit in the woods?”

Larkin laid a calming hand on Max’s arm. “Er…”

“What?” Max glanced down at his friend, who gave a pointed glance towards Staines. Realising what he’d just said, Max at least had the grace to blush ever so slightly.

Staines grimaced in disgust. “The faery speaks a modicum of sense. As far as the Brethren are concerned, we’re just helping out.” He looked at both the mages. “Let’s face it, as a necromancer, Endor really falls under your sole jurisdiction. You should be counting your lucky stars that we’re bothering to help out.”

A vision of Staines walking gingerly across a room with a book balanced on his head while Max and Larkin were in the corner flower-arranging suddenly popped into my mind. I let out an undignified snort. Everyone turned and stared at me so I pushed away the