Twenty minutes later, Merrie felt like a new woman. Most of her injuries were bound with shadows and the rent in her flesh plastered over with spells. The shadow kin's energy hummed inside her, the darkness of the shadows filling her almost as much as the sexual excitement of obeying her mistress.

She bounded across the grass in her hound form, followed by the four shadow kin. The unnatural creatures' fluid bodies had changed when she did, taking on a hound-like appearance though there was no hiding the tentacles along their backs and tails or the long, jagged claws that dug into the earth. Each one was twice her size but moved with unnatural silence that didn't shake the ground or whistle the earth.

She moved like they did, using the darkness to flow as much as move along the ground. The triple beat of her heart was the only noise she could hear. Her bare paws whispered along the grasses. She could feel the plants dying underneath her, wilting away with her presence.

They slowed as they came up to the top of the final hill next to the mill. It was still a kilometer away but she knew it would give her a view of the house and the surrounding battle. Before she reached the crest, she could see the flashes of light and felt the shaking of spells as they struck each other.

When she reached the top and looked over, she froze in shock.

There were still hundreds of attackers alive but there were far more dead and dying on the ground. Bodies were scattered in all directions and rivers of blood soaked into the dying ground. Mist clung to the curves of the earth and seeped through the splayed limbs and severed heads.

The mill house was standing but the entire great hall along the side had collapsed. Flames burned brightly in the debris of the hall and along the third floor. She could see sparks of energy rising from the flames where magical devices and burst of infernal energy faded away.

A flash exploded from the front of the house. Merrie winced at it and then forced herself to look, dreading seeing one of her loved ones dead on the ground.

When she saw the massive form of an armored white thriban swinging a great sword, she let out a sob of relief. Bass was unmistakable even from a distance. His powerful blows hammered at the two men in front of them. All three wore the same holy symbols on their chest, all three glowed with holy energy, but Bass wielded it with a skill of a centuries of practice. His weapon sparked and flashed with every impact. He didn't miss, unlike his opponents who were obviously suffering from exhaustion.

Behind him, a large hound guarded his back, Sable. She wore a dog's version of Bass' armor including the same holy symbol on her chest, but it was shaped for a powerful beast instead of a two meter tall man. Four swords hovered over Sable. As Merrie watched, they launched in the gap between the shields of the three men trying to break past her. The weapons streaked across the front yard and punched into the chests of archers who were trying to get a clear shot. Scattered throughout the yard were more bodies with gaping chest wounds and severed limbs.

Tears of joys gathered in Merrie's eyes. (Sable.)

The armored hound's tail snapped up. (Merrie!) The voice filled with smoke and whiskey slammed into her with a wave of intense affection. Even as Sable was ripping the throat out of a man, her thoughts were as bouncy as her demeanor. (Dixie said you were alive! I missed you!)

Merrie basked in the affection. She sent a condensed version of her memories through the mental communication with the other alpha.

The other alpha didn't even pause as she yanked back her head to avoid sword blows from her opponents. Their glowing weapons glinted off her blood-streaked armor. She lunged forward, her body a blur. She chomped down on the nearest paladin's wrist. The connection between her and Bass flared up and then she yanked back, throwing the man high into the air with his wrist flying in the opposite direction.

She glance around and then bore down to growl at the remaining opponent. (Dixie said you were vulnerable to light?)

Merrie's ears lowered. (Yes, it burns. I can't handle your magic's or any other bright light. It….) Unable to find the words, she sent an image of her skin burning in the light and the black obsidian mist evaporating.

To Sable's credit, there was only a flash of recoil before her thoughts bounce back with an intense wave of affection and love, the mental version of a tight hug. (Poor baby. After this, want me to lick it make it better. I'm good at feeling in the dark.) Following the playful response was a surge of lust.

Merrie shivered at the intensity of the projection, Sable was one of the strongest alphas she had ever experienced in her life. She was passionate and loving, but also a brutal killer when her master's life was threatened. Like Merrie, she was cropped but it was at the elbows and knees. Even so, she gave a sense of bouncing even when slaughtering her opponent.

(Stop fucking teasing her,) snapped Dixie as he came racing around the corner of the house as a pack of wolves. Only one of them was his real body but it was almost impossible to identify him in the racing duplicates without using magic. The black-furred creatures sprinted in a blur as they raced through the front yard, taking out the knees and limbs of the attackers. Explosions of blood and metal shot into the air as they disappeared along the far side.

(That isn't going to work again,) Sable projected. Her attention was on a pair of paladins hanging beyond the direct fighting. Both had their weapons ready to strike, but it was impossible to see where they were looking at.

Dixie snorted. (I bet I can get one more charge before they get ready.)

Sable grinned, sending an image of Dixie with his face slammed into the ground. He was a tiny humanoid, barely a meter in height and slender like all silfae. Tabitha was in her wolf form, fucking his ass with powerful, brutal strokes.

Dixie's response with simple. (Fuck you.)

(Later, sweetie.) Sable seemed completely unfazed by his violent thoughts or the attackers she was fighting against. The connection between her and Bass glowed brightly. Sable's thoughts began to blur, a rumbling man's voice blending with her own.

Merrie felt her heart surge at Bass' voice. It was mixed with Sable's thoughts, a blending of master and alpha, but Merrie remembered the joy of the powerful thriban when they had a chance to be together. Tears burned in her eyes, this time joys of pleasure.

(Haviston's compulsion is gone?) Sable seemed even more excited, if that was possible.

Merrie nodded and then sent a wave of affection.

(Then after this, we want to fuck you so hard you won't be able to walk for a week.)

(She can't walk,) snapped Dixie, (she was cropped.) His thoughts faded. Merrie glanced to the side of the house where Dixie's duplicates were down to three. All of the wolves were attacking fighters on their side but there was a lot of blood.

Tabitha snarled as she fought off six men on top of her. She was in her larger wolf form, almost as large as the house. Her tawny fur was matted with blood and her back right leg looked like it was injured.

A few hundred meters away, a line of archers and mages were shooting at both Dixie, Tabitha, and a crystalline shield that was barely visible on the far side of the building. The streaks of power rippled through the air, leaving trails of sparkling energy behind as they slammed into all three.

Like the other alpha and master, there was a spectral lead that connected Dixie to Tabitha. It wasn't as powerful and didn't glow as brightly. But Merrie could sense energy bouncing back and forth, magnifying Tabitha's magic with every passing second. It enhanced both of their healing powers to keep up with the constant onslaught.

Merrie took a deep breath. (I'm on the ridge to the south of the house, what can I do?)

Sable's thoughts became more structured and ordered as she took on more of her master's thoughts. (Our magic is too flashy if you are vulnerable.) Her thoughts were equally male and female. (Going around the back side would shield you and Haviston could use some help. We've been fighting for a while and he's the least trained in combat.)

Strategies and layouts pushed up from Sable's thoughts as she imagined the lands around the house in terms of slopes, shelter, and protection. It was the thoughts of a great warrior who had fought on almost every terrain.

(Getting rid of those fucking archers would be great!) snapped Dixie. He limped back with four arrows sticking out of his chest. With a snarl, he transformed into a tiny naked silfae and then back again. His body blurred as he transformed repeatedly, each one sealing up the injuries. Seconds later, he was unharmed but his thoughts were exhausted from the effort.

Merrie glanced at her kin. The four hounds were already pawing at the ground, their silent growls shaking the air as they looked back at her. She reached out for them, not able to speak to them directly but she could feel their awe and desire for her. They wanted to please her and protect her. She caressed their thoughts and felt sadness. (Will you kill for me?)

All four of the kin snarled silently. A fierce wave of bloodlust filled her thoughts.

She stared at them, a strange sense of protectiveness coming over her. She never had nor would she ever have children. The shadows corrupted her and her body would would not bear children. The creatures before her were the closest thing she had to offspring, they were formed by the dark powers of her collar and the Lord of Shadows. Their strange affection felt like love for a creature who never felt the touch of a mother.

One of them had already died for her, throwing itself in the light without a single word or thought. She felt the loss still in her heart, an empty hole. It wasn't nearly the gaping void that Kine had left with his death, but she still felt the one death like a knife wound. Would she mourn the others too?

They had emotions too, but they were alien and inhuman. They wanted to kill for her, to slaughter beings of light that invaded their new home. They were territorial and protective, like her old pack.

Turning her back on the battle, she padded over to them. Reaching out with one paw, she rested it on the nearest one. The cold from the shadowed body seeped into her skin, resonating with the darkness in her own veins.

Drawing calligraphy in her mind, she cast spells of protection, speed, and strength into each one. She channeled it through her collar, magnifying the power until their bodies swelled and grew pitch with her powers. She cast the same spells into herself, shivering with pleasure as the energies sank into her form.

Looking up into the black eyes of her kin, she smiled sadly. (Be safe.)

The nearest one pawed the ground.

(Kill with me) She projected the location of the archers and the other groups that fired at Tabitha, Dixie, and Haviston. Without waiting for a response, she spun on her heels and sprinted across the land. Footsteps later, she melted into the darkness and became a living shadow tracing along the ground, flowing along the grass and rocks without leaving even a whisper of movement.

The four shadow kin follows after her, melting like her until it was only five shadows racing across the ground without a shape to form them.

When they reached the archers, Merrie only needed a second to assess their position. The archers were focused on firing steadily at the defenders of the mill. Each one fired in perfect rhythm. Merrie's time keeping spelling identified that each archer fired only a tenth of a second after the one to their left. Their movements were precise as they plucked the next arrow out of their assistants hands, drew back their bow, fitted it, and fired. The entire action took only four seconds to complete but the large number of them ensured there wasn't even a hint of a pause from the rain of arrows that speared toward Tabitha and Dixie.

Without pausing, Merrie burst out of the shadows and took out the assistant. It was a young man, slender and delicate. He didn't even slow her down as she slammed into him. Before he hit the ground, she tore out the soft skin of his throat and was already leaping over the next assistant for the one after that.

Her cloak burst out from the shadow kin's shadow and took out the one she jumped over. There was a wet gurgling sound as it forced itself into the young woman's asshole and burst out of her throat in a shower of blood. Fluttering, it sailed over the one Merrie slaughtered and plunged down into the eye socket of the fourth.

They tore their way through the assistants, scattering quivers and arrows in all directions.

In the corner of her eye, she saw the archers turning around. They still held out their bows, but as they pulled back, shimmering arrows formed. She felt the scrape of their energy, it was druidic like Tabitha's but far more structured.

The other three shadow kin struck the archer's back. There was a boiling mass of tentacles and claws. The powerful creatures ripped through flesh and bone as easily as paper. There were no screams that rose out of their dark bodies.

They made it almost two-thirds through the line before the archers managed to rouse a defense. Glowing arrows shot through the air toward the shadow kin. None of them were aimed toward her.

Merrie snarled silently and melted into darkness. Using the grass and bodies for protection, she and her cloak slid around to the far side of the line. Building up speed, they charged it from the far side. Just as she reached their feet, she burst out of the darkness again and began to slaughter assistants and supplies.

Less than two minutes later, there were only corpses of archers on the ground.

(Fuck,) Dixie projected with just a hint of awe. (How do you managed to do that after only being an alpha for a thief. Are you sure he wasn't an assassin?)

Merrie flipped her hair back and looked around. Blood steamed from her jaw, it was hot and coppery. She licked her lips and panted. (Kine only killed a few people and always with magic.)


There was confusion from both Sable and Dixie.

(My master.) An intense wave of sadness filled Merrie. (My first master.)

They would have projected more but suddenly Sable's connection trembled. (They hurt my master!) Anger and raged poured out of her.

Merrie gasped and looked up but she couldn't see anything other than brilliant white light coming from the front of the house. It hurt her eyes and her vision blurred trying to focus on anything near the holy spell.

Fragmented images came through: Bass clutching his side with blood pouring through a tear in his plate armor, men charging into the the fight and interposing themselves between Sable and Bass, and the paladins who were holding back suddenly casting combat spells.

Sable's thoughts were incoherent but brimming with fury. Prayers echoed along the connection as she began to cast magic.

A cheer rose up. Merrie jerked and looked over thinking they were celebrating Bass. But then she saw Haviston's crystalline shield cracking. Hunks of sharp energy fell off the force field and exploded in a shower of sparks. She gasped. (Haviston!)

Her thoughts connected to the psion. The older man, Borias' cousin, didn't seem surprised when they caught each other. (Merrie… you do not have a last name anymore? How?)

Merrie sent a pulse of fear.

Haviston's thoughts stopped for a second and the shield brightened but it only slowed the falling of the chunks. (I cannot keep this up for long. My attention and focus is fading with them hammering me with both physical and magical attacks. The onslaught is giving me very little chance to catch my breath.)

Ears flat against her skull, Merrie whimpered. She glanced at the mages attacking the house. Their spells were slamming erratically into the shield as waves of fire and lighting. She could see what Haviston meant, they attacked so fast than he couldn't even catch a breath, much less regain his thoughts. The mages were also scattered among the hills, none of them were close enough to slaughter them in a line as she did with the first group.

(Master!) screamed Sable, her thoughts burning with fear and pain. Images of Bass falling to the ground filled her thoughts, the details terrifyingly accurate as Sable watched her master fall with a sword buried in his back just to the right of his spine.

Dixie snarled and his thoughts began to separate from Tabitha's, taking on the high-pitched voice of the small silfae. A different set of thoughts, alien but terrifying, rose up in his mind. Flashes of him wearing armor as he lead armies into battle swam across as he dredged them from a past life. (I have to do this.)

Images of him planning his attack drifted through his thoughts. He already know how he would kill the first nine men, the rest were gathering together as he began to think as a warlord and not as a bitch.

His submission was also the only thing holding back the disease that ravaged his body. Even his recollection of his past life as a silfae warrior woke the cancer. It burned along his body without waves or points, it was spread completely through his tiny body.

Dread darkened his thoughts. He knew he was going to die.

Merrie gasped. (No!)

(We don't have a choice, they are killing us out here. I'm—)

(I won't let you die, Dixie!)

(We have no—)

Merrie gathered up all her mental will and slammed it through her collar and through the connection between them. The absolute dominance of the collar was magnified by her powers(Sit!)

She was racing toward the house as both Tabitha and Dixie sat down heavily, a bewildered look on both of their faces. Her feet whispered across the ground as her massive Bel Dark hound form ate through the distance rapidly. She didn't know what she was going to do. All she knew was that she couldn't lose Dixie if she still had a breath in her chest.

(Did you just fucking—) snarled Dixie.

(Master! They are killing my—)

(—tell me to sit!? Again!?)

(—master! They are going to cut his—)

An idea blossomed in Merrie's thoughts among the panic and anger from the other alphas. She glanced at Haviston's shield. If he could keep it up, they could isolate Bass and his attackers. With only a few opponents in isolation, they would be easy prey for Tabitha and her alpha.

All Haviston needed was help. That was what alphas did for their masters.

Merrie smiled grimly. She dug her paws into the ground. Casting a rapid speed spell, she launched herself down the hill. She took on the aspect of her mistress and began to throw commands through the collar, magnifying them into powerful compulsions that would dominate an alpha completely. (Sable, kill the guys on your master! Dixie, clear the attackers away from near the house!)

Sable's agonized thoughts hit her, filling her mind with sorrow. (There are too many, I can't clear them fast enough.)

(Just the ones near your master, Haviston will get the rest.)

(I will?) asked the psion, his monotone voice steady in his mind.

Merrie ignored Haviston and sent out her most dominating thought. (Kill them!)

The other alphas's thoughts grew bright with lust as they were slammed by the irresistible command. Energy crackled between them and suddenly there was a visible line of power between Merrie's heart and them. It wasn't as thick or bright as the ones between the alphas and their masters but it was just like the connection she had forged during the battle before her breath.

Black energy crawled through the connection to the alphas and then rippled back. In her mind, she saw black mist rising out of Dixie as Sable's armor turned smoky. It only took a second for them to take on her aspects and their thoughts to grow closer to Merrie's.

Sable's power surged back toward her, liquid light streaked with darkness. It plunged into Merrie who accepted it as an alpha and reflected it back, magnifying it even more. It surged back rapidly, plunging along the leash that connected them.

The entire front of the house light up in painful brilliance.

“Bitch Cutter!” screamed Sable in a broken voice. It sounded of smoke and whiskey even from around the building. Merrie could also hear the terror for her real master and the lust of obeying the sudden mistress who was in her thoughts.

White swords shot out from the front, peppering the entire front yard with streaks of glowing blades. They slammed into the chests and bodies of the attackers, splattering more blood among the flashes of light. Everything in front of Sable, from the bodies to the wooden fence that framed in the yard, exploded in a shower of magic, gore, and splinters.

Dixie sprinted around the house, splitting in two and then four. His bodies continued to pull apart as he drew power from Merrie, the circuit of increasing energies growing brighter as he became a sea of snarling wolves that raced around the house. Black mist boiled of his bodies and left a trail that marked his passage.

Tabitha shook her body and snarled at Merrie as the Bel Dark hound raced past her. She then charged in the opposite direction, aiming for anyone near the house.

No thoughts were passed as Merrie came skidding to a halt next to Haviston. The older man was weak, leaning against a stump. Blood poured out of his nose, mouth, and ears. He tried to wave to Merrie but his body was shaking too violently. He finally shook his head and held out his hand toward the rapidly disintegrating crystalline shield. (I do not have sufficient resources to maintain the shield longer, Merrie.)

(Do you trust me?) Merrie asked.

(Yes, with reservation.)

Panting, Merrie thumped against him. She looked up at him and realized she knew what to do. With a grin, she pressed her icy body against his leg. (Here, then accept what I can give you.)

She turned her thoughts inwardly. With a deep breath, she sent out a command to herself through her collar. (Connect to him.)

It was a terrifying command, one that ordered her to open up herself completely to another person, to reduce the barriers to the core part of her that made her an alpha, a bitch who needed to be dominated and would give everything to her master.

The order punched into her with a finality that tore her apart. Her entire body grew liquid with desire, a heat exploding inside her pussy. Juices dribbled down her swollen lips and her clitoris ached with desire. Energy rose inside her, a new lust surging through her. She had felt it before, back when she almost bonded with a brutal man who killed her best friend at the mill and then later when she bonded with Kine.

Trembling, she looked up at Haviston. Then she opened her heart to him.

Alphas were powerful because they bonded with a single individual. That connection, more intimate than any telepathy and far more powerful any spell, forged a connection between the spirits of two people. The alpha lost part of their self in the connection but, in exchange, they found the perfect master. Someone who would order and command them, someone they could take their power and magnify it, pushing their masters into unparalleled heights.

Merrie had two masters in her life but only one remained, herself. She simply let the natural between an alpha and a master to open up again, to reach out through Haviston's shields and sank into his thoughts. As she did, the connection with the two alphas faded away.

(Merrie, I cannot be your—)

Memories slammed into her.

Haviston struggled to keep his thoughts calm as he stared at the red door. He was bound with set of crystal cuffs, the psionic shackles were scraping against his senses as much as the geas the judges placed on him. He could taste the bindings in the back of his throat, a sharp taste refused to go away no matter much water he drank.

The red door was the curse of the Kivas family. Generations ago, his grandfather had built the prison to contain his own brother. From that point on, every Kivas, everyone who shared the same blood, had entered the prison through one of two doors.

His emotions threatened to crack his control. Years of mediation came up but they were just empty thoughts as a tear burned in his eyes. The gravity of the moment bore down on him, he was finally going to face the consequences of his action. He was going to enter the red door and be marked as a criminal for the rest of his life. For years, he would suffer. He deserved it, he took it on himself, but that didn't make walking up to the door any easier.

(What are you doing, Merrie?) Haviston's thoughts were disturbed.

Merrie felt his thoughts deep in her intimate mind. He was close, closer than anyone except for two other beings in her life. His psychic energy was low, barely enough to keep the layers of defensive spells in place. She could feel every struggle that he took to maintain control over his emotions and his thoughts. Everything had to have a place, everything had to have an order otherwise he couldn't use his powers.

With a smile, she sent a calming wave and took the defenses spells from his mind. The power caressed her thoughts as she fed them energy, repairing them and strengthening them. Haviston was her first teacher of magic and the endless lessons came back as she brought structure. It was a way of giving something back to him even though he was responsible for her trying to kill Bass and Sable.

(Merrie, you cannot bond with me. You already have a master.)

(Haviston Kivas,) she hesitated, afraid that she wouldn't be able to refer to him by name. None of the alphas could ever refer to their masters by anything other than a title, it was almost impossible to separate their sense of self from their masters. The same blurring of two thoughts hadn't happened. She smiled and continued. (This isn't a true bond, just enough to let me help you.)

(Your thoughts are chaotic and dark. There is too much sex. It is disturbing.)

(Then cast a spell with me, master.)

The response was immediate, a quickening of his breath and a surge of excitement. His penis grew harder though he tried to keep that part of his body tamped down with his concentration.

Merrie sent a pulse of lust toward him and then reached out, gathering his power and taking it into her self to magnify it. It came pouring back, faster than Sable could ever reflect power.

Haviston channeled it into his spell, working with renewed strength and focus as he repaired the cracks in his shield. The glowing wall increased in intensity as it sealed into place. Then, with the urging of Merrie and her power, it spread out in both directions in a circle that would surround the entire mill.

Crystalline patterns rocked through her thoughts, solidifying the shadows of her mind into smoky crystals like the one around her collar. She fueled his power, magnifying and enhancing it. The act of submitting herself brought more heat to her pussy, a pulsing of desperate lust that spread out to every part of her body.

Haviston held up his one good hand and slid it to the side.

His shield shot out to the end of the house and curved around it, cutting off the entire west side before racing for the front.

“Bitch Cutter!” screamed Sable as she launched another attack of swords against her opponents.

Dixie came racing by himself, followed by Tabitha in her wolf form. (All the assholes are away from—by the fucking trees, did you just fucking bond again!?)

Merrie shuddered with her orgasms. Her pussy was soaked with Haviston's thoughts wrapped among hers. His energies rippled along her body, changing it. She grew more solid but she felt the bones in her body turning to glass. Her thoughts grew more structures and analytic, seeing the world not as trees and grasses but exact names and locations, distances that were measured in thousands of a meter. The details were overwhelming but her rapidly adjusting thought took it in easily.

The shield swooped around the house and stretched up to form a massive dome that surrounded the entire building. The air grew suffocating from the fires.

Sable's thoughts were incoherent as she rushed over to her master. Through the connection, it was obvious that she had dropped her armored spell to be closer to his body. The sobbing shook the connection as did flashes of her large breasts grinding against the blood-streaked metal of Bass' chest plate.

The connection between Haviston and Merrie snapped.

Merrie jerked violently, her orgasm stopping in an instant. She let out a whine and stumbled back. There was an empty hole in her heart, a gaping wound where the intimate connection Haviston had just been. She pawed the ground and fought the despair that threatened to consume her.

(That was risky,) sent Haviston. (Tactically sound but it could have gone terribly wrong.)

With his thoughts, he pushed back the despair. Kneeling down, he patted her on the head. “I am so glad to see you safe, girl.”

Merrie whimpered and rubbed her face against his hand. (Sorry, I needed to save them. I can't let Dixie die.)

(I'll die when I'm fucking good and ready!) Dixie trotted up to Merrie. He looked at her for a moment, his eyes boring into her. Then, he lifted his leg and peed on her.

Merrie stared at the hot urine splashing on him. It was a wolf's dominance, not an elf warlord's. A shiver of lust and desire rolled through her. With a smile, she threw a wave of pure lust at him.

Dixie's tiny cock snapped to full length, cutting off the pee. He made a quiet whimper.

Merrie grinned and shook the pee off her severed leg. (You're welcome.)

Dixie gave her face a lick before heading back to Tabitha who snarled at Merrie. (My mistress is furious that you ordered her.)

She couldn't help but let her amusement leak through her thoughts. (And that she obeyed it?)

Anger and amusement blended together. There was a bit of lust, he was turned on by the unexpected submission. (More than furious. She is going to kill you when we get out of this. Or maybe crop you further.)

Merrie's cunt grew even wetter. She had lost her wrists and ankles to one of Tabitha's hunts, a brutal race that made it past the gates of the mill before Tabitha caught and cropped her.

Haviston shuddered. His mind was unreadable with his shields but Merrie could tell that he was struggling with emotions and the closeness they briefly shared.

(Come on,) Merrie said, (we need to get Bass into the house and figure out what to do next.)

(My mistress wants to know how long the shields will last.) Dixie's mind was still sharp from the adrenaline pumping through his veins.

Haviston slipped into the conversation. (Two hours and nine minutes. It is anchored properly even if I am unconscious.)

He headed toward the front of the house, projecting his thoughts into the house. (Borias Kivas, Bassimar Sarmo is gravely injured. We're bringing him in.)

“You be hurrying then!” yelled Borias from deep inside the house.

Joy and anticipation hummed through Dixie's connection. It was a counterpoint of Sable's sorrow. The tiny silfae didn't seem phased by Sable's misery. (Then let's heal up and get ready to kill every fucking one of them.)

Merrie shivered at the intensity of his thoughts. She turned and headed back around the house. She didn't need telepathy to know that Sable needed her.

(Oh, Merrie?) Dixie's thoughts sharpened as he reached out for her again.

(Yes?) The part of her that could anticipate the orders of her masters grew tight as a dread rose over her.

(Where are those infernal traps that you told us about?)

A red light speared out of the basement windows. It was too bright and sharp to be natural. A wave of heat and the stench of sulfur blasted after it, shattering the glass and scorching the wood. The grass against the house burned away almost immediately.

Merrie gasped sharply, spinning on her knees as she stared at the house with growing fear.

The skittering sounds of a thousand tiny legs filled the air, punctuated by the hissing of more eggs bursting open.

(Fuck,) projected Dixie with surprise and annoyance coloring his thoughts.

She glanced at the shimmering shield surrounding the house. In an instant, it had turned from protection against their opponents to a trap sealing them in with the meticulously planned spells designed to kill each one of them.

(Fuck,) she sent back.