Blood Feud Page 33

Just open uncorked bottles everywhere, dangling from string and wire from the branches. The sound I’d heard was the clinking of glass touching glass when the breeze rattled the macabre wind chimes. There were dozens of them.

“What the hel is this?” Jen muttered.

Every single one, from green wine bottles to jam jars, were fil ed to the rim with blood. Fresh, warm blood. Al of our fangs were out now, Isabeau’s double ones, even Finn’s ancient opal-sharp ones. I took a step closer to a juice bottle, swal owing thickly. I could al but taste it. Jen’s hand slapped my arm, forcing me back.

“Could be poisoned,” she said.

She was right. We al froze. Isabeau turned a slow circle on her heel.

“It smel s familiar, but it’s not poisoned,” she said final y, a kind of horrified awe in her French voice.

“It’s not?” I echoed.

She shook her head. “It’s a trap,” she said. “Like a bowl of sugar water to draw the bees away from the kitchen.” I frowned. “A trap for who? Us?”

“Oui.” She reached for her sword just as Charlemagne growled in the back of his throat.


They were everywhere. We would have smel ed them if it hadn’t been for the blood-saturated air around us. They had a very distinctive stench: rot and mildew and mushrooms. Their blue-tinted skin made them look bruised. Every single tooth in their mouth was a fang, sharpened to a needle’s edge. And their bite was contagious.

And they were coming at us through the trees like spring rivers rushing into the same lake, like deadly blue beetles on fal en fruit.

Hel if I was going to be some ripe piece of apple waiting to be eaten.

“Shit.” I reached for one of my daggers. I hadn’t stopped to grab a sword, which was stupid. I’d thought a dagger and a handful of stakes would be enough.

Real y stupid.

There was no sense in running since there wasn’t a clear path out of the meadow. We could hear them growling and hissing, spitting like rabid animals. It made my jaw clench tight.

The blood wasn’t just tempting them the way it tempted us, it was driving them mad.

“Someone wanted them to attack us,” I snapped at the others. “Someone knew we’d be coming this way.”

“Host,” Isabeau agreed in a voice like winter in the steppes.

“Whoever attacked Kala must have set this up.” I leaped toward her, landing behind her to guard her back before the Hel-Blar reached us. She shot me a half-surprised, half-grateful glance. The moon glinted on her sword and the chain mail sewn into the leather of her tunic, over her heart.

“Stay close,” I told her.

She snorted. “I have a sword and you have a butter knife.

Staying close is about your only option.”

And then there real y wasn’t any more time for witty banter.

The unnerving sound the air made as it sliced around them made me understand the old superstitions about vampires turning into bats. I bared my fangs. I had every intention of plucking them right out of the sky if I had to. The first wave hit hard, but at least half of their numbers were distracted by the bottles swinging over our heads. They drained them, gulping frantical y as if they were frat boys at a kegger. Blood ran down their chins, dripped into the flowers. It was only a very brief moment though and then they al wanted the kil and wouldn’t be deterred by bottles of cow blood.

The fight was fast and feral. We had skil on our side but we were outnumbered. And the Hel-Blar had battle frenzy down to an art. I kil ed one before he could get too close, but lost my stake in the long grass. He was too far for me to reclaim my weapon without leaving Isabeau unguarded. I had two more stakes.

“Shit, don’t be a martyr,” Jen yel ed at me through her teeth.

She tossed me one of her swords. She stil had one in her hand and one at her hip.

“Thanks!” I caught it, grinning. I felt better already. I leaped over the thrust of a rusty rapier.

“Royal plums for the picking,” one of them sneered. An empty bottle crunched under his boot. “Is this the way you decorate for your fancy parties?”

So they hadn’t been sent after al , only lured and manipulated without their knowledge.

That was something to think about.

A stake grazed my left shoulder, leaving a raw burn in its wake.


“Damn it, Logan,” Isabeau shouted. “Pay attention.

Franchement,” she added in French. I could tel by the tone that it wasn’t a lover’s endearment.

She swung hard and blocked the attack of a screeching Hel-Blar. His arm, now unattached, sailed through the air and landed with a thud. It was stil clutching a long stake soaked in poison. I could smel it, like salt and iron and rust. I kicked it aside.

Jen had dispatched two of them and Magda was shrieking back at one like a psychotic banshee. She might look like a flower fairy but she had wicked good aim. Dust puffed in front of her and she turned to the next one. Jen was nearby, hacking away with deadly arrogance in every swing.

A Hel-Blar thrust her dagger at me. I kicked out, snapping her wrist. The knife tumbled and she howled, then leaped at my head. We sprawled on the ground. A bottle snapped from its tether and landed by my head. Blood seeped into the ground.

The Hel-Blar bared her fangs. They gleamed like needles. I cracked my elbow under her jaw and she nearly bit her tongue off. Saliva hit my neck. I fought harder until I managed to get my leg up enough to dislodge her. She hit the tree beside us and my stake dug into her papery heart before she could recover.

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