This fic is a little different from any au we have done before.  In other words, this story is creepy (very creepy), scary (pretty dang scary), gory (HELLA gory), a little disturbing (”little” is putting it a bit lightly), and character death (LOTS of character death).  This story is rated very very explicit, very much a rated R film category and above.  So, you have been warned, READ AT OWN RISK.

This story will be in 6 parts, from now until midnight~

Until Dawn, part four~

Ectober Week, Day 31, BAD END


BAM!  

Maddie emptied the second barrel into the creature’s leg.  The enormous monster roared and limped away as quickly as it could – its gaseous true form dissolving into the air at an alarming rate.  She grabbed at the spare ammo in her jacket, trying to get it into the gun.  “That’s right, run away!!” she yelled.  “Youuuuuu…!”

Vlad lay a hand on her arm.  “Maddie!”

“What?!”

“It’s gone…”

The woman blinked and looked up.  Sure enough, they were alone in the dusky hall once more.  “Oh… w-well, we should go after it!” she told him, gripping his arm in return and leaning in urgently.  “It will just come after us or someone else!”

Vlad chuckled quietly.  “I highly doubt that, my dear.  You blew several holes in it.  Wherever it went to skulk, it’s safe to say it will be skulking there for a while.”

She looked unconvinced, eyes lowered as she kneaded his sleeve between her fingers.  The silver-haired man frowned – worried – then, he turned to Jack and Damon, who were still rubbing at their heads after the monster’s roar.  “Jack, Mister Gray?” he asked.  “My office is just down the hall.  If you two could head to the security room, down that way, and check to see if the cameras are still functioning, that might aid in our search for the others.  Once Maddie and I have retrieved Emma, we’ll meet you there.  Alright?”

“W-Wait, why do you get to go with Maddie?” Jack snapped, brows furrowed.

Vlad looked at him exasperatedly, and Maddie’s hackles went straight up.  “Jack Fenton, you REALLY think this is the time to be asking who I go with?!” she shot back.  The tall man shrunk in on himself at her scolding tone; she wasn’t even trying to hide her animosity towards him now.  “Just go check the cameras!  Find Jazz!”

Maddie huffed, grabbed Vlad’s hand, and pulled him down the hall, leaving her husband behind.  

Once they were out of earshot… she huffed, squeezed his hand just once, and let go reluctantly.  “…I’m sorry you had to see that…”

Vlad raised his brows at her as she went on.  “It’s just… we’ve had SO many fights…” Maddie confessed, running her fingers through her hair.  “The last fifteen years have been rough, actually…”

“Fifteen?”

The billionaire’s expression contorted with worry.  “Madeline, were you really NEVER happy?” he asked quietly.

“I… I don’t know, I suppose there was a bright moment or two here or there.  Jazz is such a smart girl, and Jack– well, you know how the saying goes, a blind mouse can find some cheese every once in a while.  So… ‘never’ is a strong word, I guess.  But I just…”

She hesitated, stealing a glance at his expression.  “I’ve missed you…”

Vlad’s face was impossible to read as he looked ahead.  

Maddie felt her spine straighten, almost indignant.  “Did… Did you really FORGET?” she hissed.  The woman rounded on him, forcing him to stop.  Vlad stared at her in surprise.  “Did you FORGET my wedding day?  What you DID to me, on that couch in the back room?!  Huh?!”

“Maddie, I–”

“Because I’ve never forgotten!” she whispered hotly, angry tears welling in her eyes.  “I never forgotten… not for TWENTY YEARS.  I’ve always loved you, and I know I made so many mistakes with Jack, leading him on, trying to make you jealous.  It was all for you!  It was a mistake!  And I’ve spent twenty years living that life!  I don’t know what you meant by those looks at my wedding, but I thought it meant that one day you might make your move, that you would try to make it work!  And… oh, Vlad…!”

She pressed herself into his space, starving for his approval and affection.  “I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry about all of this–!”

Suddenly, Maddie felt two big hands cup her cheeks, turning her face up to his.

Vlad kissed her.  Hard.

A surprised gasp escaped her lips – and then everything else was gone.  Maddie moaned his name, kissing him back, wrapping her leg around his waist as she felt him touch her hips and pull them fast to his own.  “Ah…!  Mmmmm… Vlad… ah…”

“I don’t know what’s happening here…” Vlad breathed between kisses.  His hands came down, sliding into her pants.  “There’s so much death…”

Pleasure bloomed between her legs.  Maddie’s head fell back.  “Ahh…”

“But if we die tonight… I want to go with the taste of you on my lips…”

Maddie dragged his mouth back to her own, bucking eagerly against his fingers as he reached behind her; they had arrived at his office while she had been talking, but now the only sounds were their panting breaths and the soft, warm squelch that met Vlad’s ears.  “Ohhh…!” she gasped, feeling those big fingers press hard.  “Oh~!”

He pulled his hands away.  She buried her face in his neck and wrapped her legs around his waist, allowing him to carry her with one hand while he typed in the key code.  Vlad opened the door, brought them both inside, and closed it behind him.

There was a soft impact.

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!”

Then… deadly silence.

~*~*~

On the other side of the house, Jack and Damon peered into the security room.  It was a small place, with about ten feet of walking space before a wall of monitors; and every single one of them was black.

“Ugh… the video cables were cut,” Damon muttered.

Jack cocked his head.  “How do you know that?”

“I was a security guard before I joined the police force.  You gotta know the ins and outs of the equipment,” the other man told him, leaning down under the control panel.  “Let me see what I can–”

SLAM!

Damon smacked his head on the underside of the panel as the door slammed open behind them. “OW!”

Jack whirled, fists up–!

And froze at the sight of Vlad in the threshold.  His eyes wide and wild, sweat and blood dripping off his hands; his hair was loose, disheveled… like he’d just escaped a fight.  Maddie’s shotgun dangled on his fingertips.  “Th– There’s…!” he rasped.

His knees gave out under him.  Jack darted forward, their quarrel instantly at the back of his mind, and caught his friend.  “Vladdy!  Hot damn… what happened to you?!” he hissed.

“Maddie… she’s…”

“Maddie?!  What’s wrong with Maddie?!”

Jack looked around, his stomach cold and heavy with the realization.  “W-Where is she–?!”

“Taken…” Vlad swallowed, breathing heavily.  “I-I saw it… it headed… towards the library…”

The silver-haired man shakily stood, pulling at Jack’s arm.  “But… we have to go now…!  It has her…!!” he gasped.  

Jack’s eyes narrowed in fury and determination.

He took the shotgun from Vlad, pumped it, and ran out the door.  “Nobody takes my wife!  Let’s go kick some honey buns!!” he roared.  Vlad stumbled after him, shutting the door behind them; Damon finally disentangled himself from the wires, turned–!

But now, he was alone.

Damon swallowed.  “Oh god…” he whispered.

After a moment, he ducked back under the control panel, fiddling with wires and breakers.  He didn’t know where the library was, but if he could get these cameras working they wouldn’t be blind anymore!  He could find who was alive and meet them!  He just had to work quickly… and hope nothing else opened that door!

~*~

Sam and Val looked up from behind the piano with a start at the faint scream.  It echoed all around them, distant, like a cry from the very house itself.  Sam blinked slowly, seemingly unaffected, but Valerie was clearly unnerved.

“What… what was that?”

“Another victim, most likely.”  

“God, Sam, don’t TALK like that!”

“Mmm…”

Both girls looked down at Tucker as the boy groaned, eyes slowly blinking open.  He looked confused and disoriented, but anyone would after the spill he took.  He moaned, reaching up to rub his head and slowly sit up.  Val helped him up off the floor, handing him his glasses without a word.

“What… what happened?”

Val shared a look with Sam.  She frowned when she found no sympathy or support from the girl, and turning away to smile shakily at Tucker.  “I’m glad you’re up again.  We’re um, hiding.  Your… your dad went to get help.”

“My dad?  Then what about… my…”

Green eyes suddenly went unfocused and Tucker turned sickly pale once again.  “My mom… m-mom… oh god, mom!”

“Shhh!  Shh, I know, I know, I’m so sorry,”  Val stuttered out, reaching out to place a hand on his arm.  “But we need to stay quiet!  We just have to wait here till your dad comes back!”

“If he comes back.”

“Sam!”

The goth girl stood up suddenly, not looking back once as she walked towards the doors out of the music room.  “He’s been gone too long.  I’m going to look for him.”

“Sam, wait– SAM!”

Val quickly climbed to her feet, running after the girl.  She paused at the door, looking back at Tucker with wild eyes.  “Y-you stay here!  Okay?  Just stay hidden!  I’ll be right back!”

Before the boy could reply, the girls were gone, door clicking shut behind them.  He whimpered, drawing his knees up to his chest and burying his face in them as he suddenly broke down.  Sobs filled the room as he cried for his mom, who he never even got to say goodbye to, who was ripped apart right before his eyes.  He cried for his dad, who he realized he might never see again, heart sinking in his chest.  And he cried for himself, fear fogging his mind and blurring the world around him.

As he cried, he never once noticed the small fire slowly sprouting up from the ashes of the fireplace.  It was small at first, barely a spark, but it grew.

And grew…

Soon, a crackling fire lit up the room, washing it in a warm, cozy light.  Tucker sniffed, barely even noticing…

Then… the flames began to twist and dance on their own, folding back in on each other and spreading out again, summoning volume to itself from the ashes.  Slowly, the color began to change from reds and yellows, to a sickly green, growing brighter and brighter until the flames blazed blue…

Icy blue, like hellfire…

The blaze twisted and shuddered and spasmed, the smell of sulfur filling the air as it suddenly leapt free of the fireplace, ash and smoke and flames curling and morphing in the air, forming into something else.

In a matter of moments, the flame from the fireplace had vanished.

The only flame in the room now stood in the form of an alluring, curvaceous woman.  Her nude body was made of white ash and soot, glowing with heat, her long hair fluttering around her in bright, sapphire flames.  With a shudder, the ash on her back broke away to reveal bat-like wings of smoke and blue flame.  Her fingers were long and clawed and her lower legs bent back oddly, like a bipedal beast.

Her glowing eyes snapped to the piano as the boy’s soft sobs reached her ears.  A smile spread across her face, just as one of the windows blew open, bringing in the outside wind.  The lights went out…

“Come little children… I’ll take thee away…”

Tucker raised his head, sniffling softly as he frowned.  Did he hear something?

“Into a land of enchantment…”

Singing… Who was singing?  Who would sing at a time like this…?

“Come little children… The time’s come to play…”

But… it was really pretty…  Who… who was singing?

Tucker slowly rose to his feet, eyes glazed over as he slowly stumbled out from behind the piano.  His eyes immediately zeroed in on the only light source in the room.  What… what was that?  F-fire?

“Here in my garden of shadows…”

No… no, it was light.  Warm, welcoming light in this manor of darkness.  It beckoned to him, almost crooning in a way, flickering and fluttering… was it dancing?

Tucker stumbled forward.

“Follow, sweet children… I’ll show thee the way…  through all the pain and the sorrows…”

Yes… yes, if Tucker just reached the light, everything would be better!  He would be safe with the light, loved, cared for.  Everything would be alright!

“Weep not, poor children… for life is this way…”

A beautiful face appeared in the flames, smiling sweetly at him as arms opened wide for an embrace.  Tucker reached out…

“Murdering beauty and passion…”

And found himself ensnared in arms made of iron and heat, burning the clothes off his back and setting him ablaze.  Tucker screamed, the spell broken as he was met with the sharp smile of the devil that had him, a tongue of flame slipping past her lips and sliding into his own open mouth.  He screams turned into wails as his flesh gave under the scorching heat, burning and melting, and flaking away, turning to ash…

The flames grew brighter, fueled by his screams and pain and blood, his body the kindling…

His screams finally stopped.

By the time the girls returned to the room – drawn there by his sudden shouts and the bright lights of fire – they were too late.  The creature of fire and brimstone stood before them, gently swaying to a tune they could not hear, as it cradled a burning skeleton to itself like a lover.

The broken glasses on the floor were their only clue.

Sam swallowed thickly.

She turned to leave.  Valerie, on the other hand, was far faster.  The brown-skinned girl gasped – tears bursting forth – but she knew better than to scream by now.  She grabbed Sam’s hand and dragged her down the hall, stifling her sobs.  She had promised Mr. Foley they’d protect him!  They left him alone for one minute!!  HOW MANY OF THESE MONSTERS WERE THERE?!

…Maybe Sam was right…

Dashing away her tears, Valerie grabbed the handle to another door, almost unable to turn it, she was shaking so badly–!

And all at once, the door burst open in a rush of water.  

Valerie shrieked as cold, slimy liquid rushed out into the hallway, soaking their shoes and socks through.  Even Sam took a step back in surprise.  As they did, two messy bodies rolled out with the sludge; bones clicked, teeth gleamed, intestines squished…

Then, they rolled face-up.  Sam’s knees gave out, dumping her into the wastewater.

Jeremy Manson and Maurice Foley were far too recognizable.  Their jaws had been stretched, broken, and torn off… what was left of their tongues flopping freely against their necks… and their eyes rolled slightly up in their skulls, pupils swollen and black in death.

“…D-Dad…?”

“Omigod, Sam, we have to get OUT OF HERE!”

Sam opened her throat, screaming.  “DAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!”

Before Valerie could grab her, the goth was up and running down the hall, screaming bloody murder.  “SAM!” she yelled.  She ran after her.  “SAM!!”

The blue, burning fae left the music room and – spotting the two girls – flew after them, arms outstretched.

~*~

“DAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!”

Jazz froze, turning wide eyes towards the second floor of the manor.  “… Sam?”

“We must keep going.”

The girl turned to look at Danny, once more returning after he had gone ahead, making sure the way was safe for her.  She clutched the vials close to herself, the bloody water sloshing in the one she filled at the fountain.  The sleeves of her shirt were stained pink…

“But… but what if she’s–?”

“She’s alive.  If you wish for her to remain that way, you need to do as I say,” Danny explained, leading her to an open window back inside.  He glanced at her, eyes wide and unblinking.  “You want to save them, don’t you?  You’re the only one who can…”

“R-right… of course…”

Danny nodded once and floated inside, urging her to follow.  She carefully placed the pouch inside under the windowsill, and then as quietly as she could, she climbed in.  The windows were high, and she grunted as her knees hit the marble floor.  She whimpered in pain, but was quick to grab the pouch once more and follow after the prince.  He waited for her at the doorway, leading out into the hall.

“I don’t sense them… there is no one near.  Quickly, follow me.”

Jazz hesitated a moment, hesitant to trek through the dark maze that was this mansion from hell.  But, if she wanted to save everyone, she had no choice…

Danny lead her down hall after hall, the girl quickly losing her way as they went.  How did he know where to go?

“Brimstone,” the prince suddenly said, his nose to the air.  “Can you smell it?  We are nearing the third birthplace.”

Jazz remained silent, eyes straying down one hall as they passed.  The floor there was wet, the air foul…

“Keep close.”

“Y-yes…”

At the end of a long hall was an open door, flickering light reflecting off the walls from within.  Danny beckoned her to enter.  She saw no need to question, only hoping that this was their destination so that they could move on.

The smell of burned meat hit her like a wall the moment she stepped into the room.

“O-oh my GOD!

On the floor lay Tucker’s burned husk of a body, blackened and crumbling in places, like nothing more than a used piece of firewood.  Jazz wouldn’t have even known it was him, if it weren’t for the pair of broken glasses beside his body, and the scrap of red fabric from his beret that lay beside the black husk.

Jazz gagged, whirling around and promptly heaving her guts out on the burnt carpet.  She clutched the wall, trying so hard not to fall to her knees as she threw up all that was in her stomach.  Acid burned in her throat as she ran out of fluid to heave…

“Jasmine…”

The girl looked up, tears in her eyes.  Danny stood before, mildly sympathetic, but urgent.  “There is nothing you can do for him now, Jasmine.  But the others, you can still save.  We must hurry.”

She looked at him, almost uncomprehending, before finally nodding.  She straightened up and wiped her mouth on the back of her sleeve, forcing herself not to cry.  Oh, Tucker…

It just wasn’t fair…

Danny lead her over to the fireplace, now full of cold ashes.  “Ember the Envious, the songbird of the Underground,”  he explained.  “She rises from ashes, bringing brimstone and hellfire with her as she seeks her lost voice.  Her envy for touch and for, well, anyone’s voice really, causes her to burn alive all who walk into her embrace.”

“Her lost… voice?”

“She is mute,” the prince said, face blank.  “She once had the most beautiful voice in all of the fae realm.  It was taken from her.  She was driven mad.”

Jazz blinked, once more glancing back at Tuckers body.  “I… I see…”

“Collect the ashes, Jasmine.”

The girl did as she was told, no more hesitation.

~*~

“L-left, Jack!  LEFT!”

The man barely hear Vlad, running so far ahead that the other could hardly keep up, only able to chase after him and shout out directions, hoping that nothing else had hear them.  Jack was blind to anything else himself, focused solely on reaching their destination and finding his wife.

“There!  The double doors!”  Vlad called as they skidded around a corner, raking his hair back.  “B-but wait!  We should be quiet–!”

BANG!

Jack kicked the doors open, shotgun held tight to his shoulder as he walked in, peering into the large dark room.  The only light in the two story room came from the ceiling high windows, moonlight spilling in in a soft, white haze.  

It was utterly silent… still…

“Hmmmm…” Jack muttered, squinting around the library.  Vlad came up beside him, panting in exhaustion.  “Keep on your toes, V-man.  It could be ANYWHERE…”

Vlad straightened, finally catching his breath as the other man moved further into the room, and followed at a distance, eyes flicking around the dark walls.  The shelves were double-sided, and all in rows in the middle of the room.  In the eerie silence, one could picture anything hiding around the corner…

“…Jack.”

“Hmm?”  Jack hummed in acknowledgment, not once taking his eyes off of his surroundings.  “What?  Do you see something?”

“It’s… about Maddie.”

The big man froze a moment, frowning.  “What about her?”

Vlad took a deep breath, eyes lingering on his friend’s broad back.  “…Back in college… you know how I had a few girlfriends?” he asked.  “But we only ever dated for a few weeks, a few months at most…?”

Jack frowned deeper.  “What does this have to do with Maddie?”

“…I always told you that they moved away, or broke up with me… but that was never the case.”

The billionaire shuddered, hugging himself.  “They disappeared.  Their parents came asking ME where they went.  I didn’t know, until one night…”

Jack stopped, blinking back at Vlad.  

“Her screams woke me up…”

Vlad met his friend’s eyes, a haunted memory shining from deep inside.  “These things have been following me, for so long…” he told him.  “They’ve been taking anyone I became affectionate with, for y-years!  And then… back in the greenhouse when we went back to fetch Mr. Sanchez’s body, there was a moment when…”

“I can’t BELIEVE you!”

“M-Me?”

Not an hour before, under the dim lights of the greenhouse, Jack whirled on Vlad furiously.  “You know my marriage hasn’t been the best, and now you’re just… getting all cuddly with Maddie?!  I can’t believe you!”

Vlad stared warily between Jack and the shotgun.  “Look, old chum, I…”

“You know what, SAVE IT!  I don’t want to hear it!”

The silver-haired man glanced around them, almost hoping to see the shadow of something much larger.  But nothing came.  Taking a deep breath, Vlad looked back at Jack.  “Look… I know you’re upset with me… and I’m sorry you and Maddie are unhappy,” he had lied evenly, but sounded genuine as anything.  “You know I have always supported you.  It’s just… it’s been a horrifying night, Jack.”

He looked up at his old friend, fear in his eyes.  “I was scared.  I didn’t mean anything by it.  I promise, it won’t happen again.”

In the present, Vlad gnawed the inside of his cheek – glancing worriedly at the carpet – then back up at Jack.  “I meant what I said,” he told him.  “You and Maddie were my best friends.  These creatures have taken everything from me, anyone I tried to get close to… I was scared for you two the very most.  And back then, I was so afraid you were going to…”

The man gestured loosely at Jack’s shotgun.

Jack looked down at the weapon…

Then, after a moment of hesitation, he gripped the muzzle and held it out to Vlad.  The other man stared down at it in disbelief, then back up at Jack’s trusting blue eyes.  “It’s okay, V-man,” Jack said, smiling apologetically.  “I know you were scared.  I was, too.  I trust you to watch my back.”

Vlad paused…

Then laughed, sniffed, and took the weapon.  “That means a lot, Jack.  I will… and not just because I’m a better shot than you are,” he joked weakly.

“HA!  Well, maybe a little!”

The two men rounded the corner of the next bookcase – and froze.

“What… in the world…”  Vlad breathed, hands shaking as he gripped the gun tighter.  Jack’s eyes narrowed, studying the huge, gleaming thing before them.

“What could have made something like this…?”

There, strung between the shelves, was a silver spiderweb… at least fifteen feet wide and ten feet tall, glittering in the moonlight.  The web grew thicker and thicker the deeper it went into the shelves, much like a wolf spider’s nest – more of a glittering white burrow than a web.  And at the very center of the silky, sticky strands… was a human sized cocoon.  

Vlad’s eyes widened and he pointed a shaking finger towards it, face draining of color.  “… Maddie…”

“Maddie?!  You mean she–?!” Jack’s face contorted in rage and horror, not wanting to believe what Vlad was saying.  But if Maddie was in a cocoon, wrapped up and stored in a web, then that must mean she was alive, right?  Kept away for later?

He forced himself to believe that.

“Hang on, Maddie!  I’m gonna get you out of there!”

Jack stumbled forward, hand raised to push away the spider’s silk in his way… only for the strands to pass through his hand like a hot knife through butter.  

Three fingers hit the hardwood floor.  

Whump!  Bump.  Thump.

“GA-AHHH!!”

Jack screamed in pain, stumbling back and clutching his bleeding hand to his chest.  “OH MY GOD, AHH–!”

His screams cut off as a clicking, rattling coo filled the ear.  A dark shadow moved near the back of the nest-like web…

“JACK, LOOK OUT!”

Jack whirled to look.  

The shotgun went off.  KABOOM!

~*~*~

“LEAVE ME ALONE!”

“SAM, NO!”

Valerie sprinted down the hall after Sam, feeling the heat of the blazing, fiery fae on her back as it pursued them.  Her heart felt like it had been ripped in two!  The staff, Sam’s parents, all the Foleys… at least nine people slaughtered ruthlessly in a matter of hours!  She’d never seen a person die before tonight… and now they were running for their lives from the same monster that killed Tucker…!

She wouldn’t let Sam be next!

Valerie grabbed at the hysterical girl, only managing to hit her fingertips as they went pounding through the halls.  “Where are you GOING?!  SAM!”

Suddenly, they turned a corner and moonlight struck them, flowing in through a line of windows – dim and turning scarlet, as if a blood moon were ascending into the sky.  They were back at the front of the house.  Valerie staggered at the sudden change, and that cost her.

But when Sam reached the end of the hall, next to the french doors that led to the balcony… she stumbled to a halt, and froze.

From the shadows, the tree monster staggered.  Red eyes focused on the girls. 

Sam gasped quietly, taking one step back, then another as Valerie caught up with her – the older girl’s cries to flee falling on deaf ears.  Slowly, with the creaking and snapping of bark… the scar on the monster’s belly opened, almost drunkenly clumsy… and great teeth unfolded from inside.  Its head hung back, its legs displaced, as if whatever spine or pelvis it possessed had parted with a gristling pop.  Its long, eviscerating vine unfurled from deep inside, slapping to the carpet… The red fibers snapped off on its thorns as it lifted up…

Rearing, like a cobra’s head…

And the monster charged down the hall.

Sam and Valerie screamed as the flaming siren rounded the other side, flying right for them.  They grabbed each other’s hands, threw open the french doors, and without a second thought – hurled themselves off the balcony and thirty feet straight down onto the front steps.  Valerie’s left leg broke into three pieces on impact.  Her head struck the railing, her leg gave under her, and she went sprawling.  Sam hit just the wrong way, and her neck snapped like a toothpick; her eyes rolled back in her head, mouth open in shock…

Both of the dark fae looked over the balcony railing at the motionless, bleeding bodies on the ground.

Ember’s flames crackled in displeasure.  

Spectra – however – sealed her body back up, and grinned with her thorny fangs.  She leapt over the balcony as well, landing hard enough to snap more of Sam’s bones; she knelt down to bury her fangs into the corpse, ripping into it, dipping her claws into it, and applying gore all over her face like it was the finest anti-wrinkle cream.  Ember growled in distaste beneath the spectrum of human hearing.

Behind the burning fae, heavy footsteps announced Skulker’s arrival.  The hulking, misty creature limped onto the balcony; he took notice of Ember, chattering his jaws and borrowed tongue at her.  His body was newly repaired, with sections of fresh, bloody skin.  He had removed them earlier from Lancer and Hopson, just in case – and it had turned out to be a good idea.  

Skulker continued to chatter at her, moving closer.  Ember turned up her nose.  When he persisted, she flicked a small gout of flame at him… then she hesitated.

The fiery monster peered down over the balcony at Spectra and her meal.  

She turned to Skulker, snapping her fingers at him and pointing.  

The big brute was happy to please, bustling back into the house, down the stairs, and out onto the porch; while Spectra was busy taking Sam apart, Skulker grabbed Valerie’s good leg and dragged her body back into the house.  There was no sense in letting the blood monster ruin all the good bodies.  They’d store it, save that corpse for later.

Ember looked up, her flames burning brighter in anticipation at the reddening moon.  She had arrived last, it seemed.  It was almost time…

~*~

Damon stared at the sole, fuzzy image on the monitor, of his daughter’s broken corpse being dragged down the hall.

He had gotten one camera working.  And that was the first thing he had seen…

“M-Mister Gray…?”

The man slowly turned around, feeling like his head was stuffed with cotton… only to see Jasmine Fenton in the open doorway.  Her image smeared in his vision, streaks of color bleeding through each other like a ruined watercolor painting.  First his wife… now his child…

“God… where does it end…?” Damon whispered.  Tears slipped down his cheeks.

“Mister Gray… where are my parents?”

Jazz’s voice shook slightly as she entered the room, looking over Damon’s shoulder at the fuzzy video feed.  She hadn’t seen what he had, but she could only assume, by his reaction, that it was bad…  really bad.  She looked around the empty room, praying that her parents would simply appear from a dark corner or… or SOMEWHERE, anywhere!  She had been promised they were alive, that they were okay.  But she thought that meant they were still with Damon, but why was he all alone?!

“S-sir?  Where are my–?” she started to repeat.

“We need to get out of here,”  Damon suddenly said, voice hoarse as he stood up from the chair and grabbed her wrist, yanking her out of the security room.  There was one child left.  He would save her, at all costs.  “We need to leave this place.  NOW.”

“Wh-what?!”  Jazz cried out, protesting.  “But my parents!  Th-the others!  I’m not leaving without them!”

“Jasmine, listen to me!!”

“N-no, let me go!”

Damon struggled to hold onto the frantic girl, thinking she was simply having a melt down over everything that had happened.  And honestly she was.  Jazz had used up all her emotional strength, trying hold back all her fear while helping the fae prince.  But now, she was alone and she still needed to help Danny send all these monsters back and Damon was taking her the wrong way!  “No, you h-have to let me go!  I have to help them!  I’m the only one who can!”

“Jasmine, listen to yourself!”  Damon yelled, trying to grab onto her other wrist, but she kept that arm away, clutching a velvet pouch to her chest.  “We need to get out of here!  There is no one left!  WE ARE THE ONLY ONES LEFT!”

“You’re wrong–!”

Suddenly, Jazz went very still, eyes wide in horror as she looked over the man’s shoulder.  She slowly raised a finger, pointing back down the hall.  “S-sir…”

The smell of brimstone filled his nostrils.

Damon shoved Jazz away and behind him, whirling around to see the demoness fae of fire grinning at them from down the hall.  Blue hellfire slowly began to spread, the dry old wood of the manor lighting up like kindling…

Her wings flapped once, twice…

“RUN!!”

The two humans turned and took off down the hall, running as fast as their weary bodies could take them.  The halls blurred together and Jazz realized they were running back the way she had just come.  A dead end.

She screamed and turned back around, trying to turn down another hall.  Damon’s fingers grazed her arm as he tried to stop her, then turned and followed her instead, the flames catching up with them quickly.

Too quickly.

“Jasmine, keep running!”  Damon cried, slowing down to turn and face Ember with a resigned expression.  Her mouth opened in a silent scream of victory as she flew towards him.  “Don’t look back!  Just keep running!”

“DAMON!!”

The man went up in flames.

Then, another creature sprung from the shadows, grabbing onto him and sealing her mouth over his.  Damon was unable to scream as pain ripped through his body, black sludge filling his lungs, then a vine covered in hooked spikes punched through his gut.  Blood poured onto the fire, extinguishing an ugly splotch of it in a boiling gout of stinking smoke; the flaming fae hissed in outrage and attacked the two females that had attempted to steal her prey, the inferno growing higher and higher with each flap of her wings.  Ember’s jaws opened in fury, the blaze spreading faster and faster through the manor as she crouched low over Damon’s body, protecting her prey from the other two hungry females.  

Out of the corner of her eye, Jasmine spotted a pair of beady black eyes fixed on her.

The smell of rancid meat filled her nose.

The girl whimpered, for a single irrational moment thinking she could save the man, but knew deep down she couldn’t.  She quickly took a step back, then another, clutching the pouch of velvet to her chest as she tried to remain silent.  She hoped against all hope that the fourth monster had not truly seen her and was just as distracted as the others were…

Those black eyes remained fixed on her… and its jaw slowly widened…

Jazz knew better than to wait for the supersonic sound to incapacitate her, and without a second thought turned on her heel and ran.  

The other fae were quickly alerted to her presence.

Skulker roared – the scream vibrating through the air like a hoard of crackling stone hornets – and ran after her.  Spectra caught the scent of a young female then – her softened, slightly pink wooden neck twisting completely around to follow Jasmine; she screeched and took off.  Desiree snarled at Ember one last time, then left her to consume Damon and pursued as well, dragging herself along the burning carpet after Jazz.

Jazz’s heart sputtered in her chest.  “DANNY!”

She fled, clinging to her precious velvet bag.  A roar ripped through the back of her skull, black spots erupting in her vision as Skulker grabbed at her and missed by a hair, crashing into a burning wall.  The blue fire was spreading – blazing up to the roof.  The whole mansion was on fire!  

She screamed louder.  “DANNY!!”

Spectra bisected her body – teeth and vine lashing out – and whipped her spiked appendage towards the human girl.  Jazz felt a line of white-hot pain slice across the side of her face; blood poured down her neck, and her ear seared with blistering agony.  Ember hissed and descended from above.  Jazz wailed and scrambled away, barely avoiding the deadly embrace of those fiery wings–!

Horrified tears and snot streamed down her face.  She didn’t even have to look behind her to know all four of them were pursuing her now!

“DANNY!!”

Down the hall a door suddenly burst open, bright light blazing through it.  The fae behind her stumbled and hissed, screeches of pain and displeasure filling her ears as the light grew brighter and brighter.

“Jasmine!  This way, child!”

A hand reached for her through the light.  The monsters screeched and screamed, trying to push past the painful light and grab at her, but she was too quick.  She ran straight for that door, throwing herself into the light–!

SLAM!

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