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1 - Entropic Spiral - 1A
Feb 9, 2018
7 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!ROG4D6l7O4241xNaCpilposted on PENANA

Jude Holland didn’t know exactly when he’d started calling Glenn Sherwood his best friend, but he sorely regretted that moment. Friends were weaknesses. Friends could be dependent and needy. Friends expected you to remember trivial things like birthdays and anniversaries and inside jokes.copyright protection34PENANAdeEAaUM5X3

And, for some damnable reason, friends cared about you.copyright protection34PENANA4ORKSvReDG

“Hey assholes!” A timbrous, guttural voice filled the mausoleum, making most of the thirteen blood magi jump and turn their attention away from the altar Jude was sprawled upon like a broken doll. A vagrant werewolf in hybrid form stood at the landing of the stairs. His mouth was extended slightly, full of oversized teeth. His gnarled fingers ended in bony looking claws, their edges glittering with reflected candlelight. His back was bowed, his shoulders broader than seemed right. His brown eyes were burnished gold, flashing with the refractions of every sputtering flame that whipped and snapped as he’d entered. He wasn’t wearing much in the way of clothing, having torn it off in his transformation, but a coat of black, brown, and gray fur covered him from head to foot. It wasn’t enough to conceal the bunched, corded muscles that wrapped his frame, nor was it enough to cover the wounds he’d already sustained in getting to the mage’s inner sepulcher, but it kept most of his modesty intact.copyright protection34PENANAjFKkdyvQXO

Jude turned his head toward his partner’s voice, groaning. “Don’t…” he said laboriously. Then he took a breath to shout with his vampiric suggestion, “Glenn, don’t!copyright protection34PENANAca2RLcLxiI

Woody shook himself, shook off the command, scratched at his face. Fury warping his features beyond human, he growled, “Not on your life, Boss.” Then he moved.copyright protection34PENANAAmxs7pYZEB

Stop! Jude railed mentally, trying to breach the werewolf’s inner defenses.copyright protection34PENANAFXhpivXOlU

You first, Woody’s projection countered, pushing the vampire to the edges of his mind.copyright protection34PENANACy5EpRQap9

Some of the blood magi were still in the throes of their ritual, their eyes rolled up into their heads, their reddened palms outstretched as they let handfuls of blood slowly drip between their fingers. Most of them didn’t even react as they were born down to the ground, their hands unconsciously crossing in front of them as the werewolf tore indiscriminately into their faces and torsos. The few that had been pulled from the ritual’s ecstasy went for knives and chalices scattered throughout the chamber, trying to find blood to work with that wasn’t already tied to subduing Jude on the altar.copyright protection34PENANATZvqsCQqBu

Glenn, listen to me! Listen! Jude pleaded.copyright protection34PENANA1hsiGLNEz9

Jaeborn’s Circle is on the way, Woody replied. His human side was calm, controlled. The other part of him, the part that was closed off to Jude, was clawing at the cracks, ripping at the seams. Did it want to consume Jude like it wanted to consume everything, or was the wolf trying to tell him something? You’re going to be safe, Woody reassured him. Hold tight.copyright protection34PENANAzbHFQ7wHhW

You fuck! I wanted this! Jude said, the force of his mental anguish pushing Woody back.copyright protection34PENANAQbVlBoYrOA

The werewolf hesitated for a moment like something had physically hit him and a cultist’s knife punched through his shoulder just above his left clavicle. Coming back to his senses with a startled growl, Woody grabbed the blood mage’s hand and crunched it into the man’s head, forcing his weight down and crushing the black hood and its contents like a warm watermelon in sackcloth. He licked his chops as he rose up.copyright protection34PENANAWQRp9yaXdK

They were going to kill you, Woody said, steel behind his mental words.copyright protection34PENANA6NWOsMVZtd

Maybe I deserve that! Jude threw back at him.copyright protection34PENANAVjoRFZgEr4

Woody cut off their line of communication.copyright protection34PENANAfnV7M4FX1T

The chaos only escalated from there as seven Woden Circle witches were teleported into the room, surrounding the spooked blood magi. Jude could tell Woody knew them--knew how they moved. As he picked off the stunned blood workers, the witches targeted the rest, weaving their magic together to create an electrified net around the area. The sparking arches crossed over each other like an angry mesh, casting the room in white, artificial-feeling light.copyright protection34PENANAH8GDX9pS9T

Jude moaned, the light too much for his sensitive vision. Closing his eyes didn’t help much, so he kept them open, narrowed. All around him, he heard the panicked thoughts of his blood mage companions, their worries being quashed in startled half-thoughts, half-wishes.copyright protection34PENANA65duXSudxW

Holland! Do something!copyright protection34PENANAiMkdT6hz3j

Why the hell isn’t he moving? The summons is fucked!copyright protection34PENANAtLsaopjOis

Get up, you idiot! Get up!copyright protection34PENANAHoyUTvNnIk

Savior, my ass. Fuck this shit, I’m--copyright protection34PENANAk07Ee1KwBO

Be a blood mage, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.copyright protection34PENANAP4AheYGxNZ

Woden Circle?! Damn it!copyright protection34PENANA0vnypg3dEM

Jaeborn Dae and his fucking valkyries. copyright protection34PENANAyYMFC1Hnxi

How the hell did they find us?!copyright protection34PENANAcmmNEAMl8z

“Protect The Red Magus!” someone shouted.copyright protection34PENANAk94HIuYMHC

Fuck the fucking Red Magus!copyright protection34PENANAygBlWemDCT

Focus. Focus--AUGH!copyright protection34PENANAVPgiCVTog2

Take it in the face, you pinheaded bitch!copyright protection34PENANAXBb2jTwhGe

I can’t die here! I won’t die here! NO!copyright protection34PENANAUeuvzrKW4m

Dammit!copyright protection34PENANAQ0c6iO1cci

It was depressing, thrilling, disappointing, intoxicating.copyright protection34PENANAeaTqdcjKtZ

So much blood in the air; the smell of cooked flesh.copyright protection34PENANAZoeuUOVEKZ

Bolts of electricity and fire knocked robed figures to the ground, set pedestals and wooden statuary aflame. The skeletal remains of a blood mage ancestor was splashed by the blood of its progeny and, in the next moment, scattered by a jolt of ozone-burning lightning.copyright protection34PENANA1A0dHj2Ive

Woody simply navigated the slaughter by smell and feel. Jude could sense his snare-like heartbeat, buzzing and burning like a lump of ensconced coal in the hornet’s nest of his chest. Jude felt it then, that same overwhelming sensation he’d felt that first time they’d injected him with the Red Cleric’s blood. He had been trying to coerce Woody with instinct alone, but the mindless ecstasy of the transfusion was leaving him; leaving his mind sharp like a scalpel. With exact care, he waited until he had the werewolf’s attention, locked eyes with him.copyright protection34PENANA1JpU9D6tnA

Jude Holland knew he had the power to kill him with a word.copyright protection34PENANAtmZHQTwLyh

Right then and there, with just one little mental pluck, he could make the werewolf turn on the Woden Circle magi. He could make the werewolf stop breathing. He felt the warm tingle in the tips of his fingers. He tasted the ash in his mouth. He heard the mental shouts of his fellow blood magi, begging him to come to their aid. But Jude clenched his jaw and squeezed his eyes shut. A memory chewed at the inside of him, begged him to revisit the moment. He relented, already knowing how it would play out.copyright protection34PENANALzRLNz4PiA

His sister Gene had shaken her head in disappointment. He had arrived home with a black eye and a bloodied lip, carrying his wounded pride in tow. “Judy…” She had smiled then, handing him a bag of ice over the counter. “You could convince a bird to stop singing, so how come you couldn’t talk your way out of the fight?”copyright protection34PENANA4jjtdt6kXu

Ten-year-old Jude had given her a dark look. “He’d’ve killed me, Gene.”copyright protection34PENANAVqQU8HOEsm

Conna Gene had only laughed at him. “How do you know?”copyright protection34PENANAWeWOZJn4yF

“He had to get it out of his system,” her little brother had said. “Next time, I’ll fight back.”copyright protection34PENANAECZY6dsdyp

“No you won’t,” Gene had replied with a knowing smirk. “That’s why you should talk his ears off the next time.” Her smiling expression had fallen then and she’d said, “Judy, unless someone else is in trouble, you won’t ever fight back. You don’t have it in you… So unless you wanna keep getting beaten up, you’re gonna have to put that silver tongue of yours to good use.”copyright protection34PENANAHtPyoYfcDI

“You don’t know what I can do,” Jude had said, pressing the crushed ice to his face.copyright protection34PENANAzzWvnWeK1N

“Yeah, I do.” His sister had moved around the counter then, moving to hug him. “You understand people, so you don’t fight them. You empathize, right? It means you see things from their perspective… And because you see things from their perspective, you can’t fight them. You’re too good for that.”copyright protection34PENANAqFqqExD6Kb

“I am not,” Jude had whispered into her shoulder. “I’ll hit him next time, for sure.”copyright protection34PENANAvsFl14jghX

“You won’t… because you’re you, loser.”copyright protection34PENANAZQwVlUSAFT

Masking a cry of frustration behind a shout of defiance, Jude rose up off the altar. Black ichor slid off him where it had pooled in the hollows of his lean shape. It dripped and spilled over the edges of the black slab. A crackle of electricity passed overhead. He felt the whisper and buzz as a vibro-coin shot passed his ear, just barely missing him. The half dozen blood magi still standing all turned to him, their faces a mix of awe, concern, and smug satisfaction. He met each of their eyes in turn, tethered them together with a simple thread like a web of veins. Then he raised a blood-splattered hand and clenched it, cutting crescents into his palm, forcing the black blood to collect in his fist.copyright protection34PENANAn6yOwdl9j6

One notion focused the intent of his spell: Stop being.copyright protection34PENANAlPy0aA4uRl

He opened his hand and let it drop unceremoniously.copyright protection34PENANAsQcZMxTE8z

The blood magi all collapsed like puppets cut from their strings.copyright protection34PENANAxwF6kbjFlD

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