I slid my plate across the metal bars of my cell over and over, their ringing melody annoying my guard for the past hour. I suppose that I should be fortunate that my cell was so far removed from any of the other prisoners. I don’t need any more enemies or eyes witnessing my escape.
Finally, my latest guard decided that shouting profanities in guttural German from his post was not enough and the angry clomp of his spit shined boots wove a threatening beat into my melody. I increased the sound of my song until the young man rounded a corner and his mouth, mid-“Ach mien Gott!” fell into a slack “O” of surprise when he saw me. I stood before him barely clothed, shivering in my bright red underwear that stood out in stark contrast to my pale skin. My black bra was covered effectively by my mass of strawberry blonde curls tumbling to my waist. I must have looked nearly nude to the young soldier, and although I disdained his native tongue, my escape required it.
“Please,” I whispered in German, widening my blue eyes, and shifting my feet slightly so that my hips moved as I chattered, “they took all of my clothes. Do you have a blanket?”
His eyes seemed entranced by my hips, and as he licked his pink lips I could almost see the lustful images that were passing now behind his hazel eyes, “The-the-they took your clothes?”
With a weak nod, I bit my lower lip and hunched my shoulders against the cold I knew permeated the room, but was thankful I couldn’t feel.
Puffing his cheeks out as he blew a great breath, he reluctantly tore his eyes away from my figure before turning to sprint down the hallway. I imagined him poking his head out the other end in a frantic, but thorough, check to see if anyone else was coming. Within seconds his boot steps hit staccato notes upon the stone floor as he sprinted back to my cell. With a large thick blanket, most likely borrowed from his own cot, flung over his shoulder he fumbled with the keys in the lock as he tried to concentrate his shaking hands on getting the door opened. His tasks was made longer by the occasional hungry glances he cast in my direction.
Aside from my shivering I stood completely still and hung my head with arms wrapped tightly around my chest. Once the lock slid free, and the door scrapped open across the dirty grey floor, I waited until I could see my reflection in the boots that came in my view. Not wanting to see the lust in his eyes that was rolling off of him in waves, I concentrated on the task at hand. The minute I felt the warmth of his breath on the crown of my head, I grabbed the blanket draped over his left shoulder and quickly wrapped it around his neck. With a sharp tug, I twisted the ends around my wrists until I had a good grip as I yanked him forward and sent my knee into his groin. His “oomph” was soon silenced as I stuffed a clump of the blanket in his mouth. Grabbing his surprised face and placing a hand on each cheek, I tilted his head until the satisfying snick of breaking bone, rang happily in my ears. I instantly dropped the man’s face and hopped over him as I made my way to my cot. I pushed up the wafer thin mattress and dug my dress and hair pins out of the hole I had stuffed them in. By the time I had finished fastening the last button, I was already at the end of the hall, the guard’s pistol banging against my hip as it rode in my pocket. By the time I had reached the other hall, I had my hair repined and looking almost presentable. I was wishing that they had not taken my shoes the moment I encountered the stone wall looming before me under the only window, 10 feet up. I really missed the practicality of a good pair of heels.
With a shrug, I dug my fingers and toes into the cracks in between the stones of the old building and scaled the wall. My only hope was that when I finally reached the window, it would not be barred from the outside.
“Honestly,” I muttered as I hoisted myself up, “I thought the Nazi’s were stupid putting only one guard on me, but if they don’t have bars on this window in this abandoned hall----well----“
Looking out through the window, I smiled, “----yeeeeep, pretty stupid. Ha!” I breathed, before sliding the old sticky window up, and curling my body over the sill, “---so much for being the superior race!”
After losing my balance, tumbling over the edge of the sill, and knocking the air out of my lungs as I landed on the grass on my back, I stared at the white fluffy clouds in the blue sky above me. I raised celebratory tight fist in the air, “Never doubt Russian cunning!”
I rolled over and pulled the gun out of my pocket, cocking the piston as I plastered my body to the wall. For the next few moments I sidled along; eyes and ears open for the guards that I knew were patrolling the grounds of Hitler’s “supernatural research center.” My eyes rolled involuntarily as I thought those words. If that man thought he could honestly win the war with the backing of the supernatural community by kidnapping them and turning them into lab rats--Yeahhhhhhh, probably not!
I ducked behind a mixed cluster of tall and squat flowering bushes, thankful that his prison for us was located in an old castle with over grown grounds. The crunch of booted feet sprinting past me soon faded as shouts of alarm sounded.
I guess the guard had been found. With a grumble to myself over compromised timelines, my search around the perimeter of the building for a suitable opening in the fence, was once again halted when I spied a fluffy white tail and strong legs furiously scratching dirt out of a hole. As I crept closer my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the bottom half of a grey and black patched furry back.
“Dimitri!” I hissed.
The large fluffy beast burrowing a hole under the building let out a quick yelp of surprise before a narrow face, with a dirt splashed quivering nose, and large pointed ears turned in my direction.
“Dimitri, wha---oomph----ewww, don’t lick me you know I hate that!”
One minute I had a large pink tongue stroking my face the next I had the strong, but lanky, arms of a red headed young man wrapped around my shoulders as he towered over me.
“Anastasia! How did you escape? Why didn’t you wait for me? I promised I would come!”
Pushing the wolf pooka to arm’s length; I looked into his worried blue eyes, “You trying to play the Prince Charming again, Dimitri?”
He laughed good naturedly as he let go, his fingers lingering on my shoulders a moment too long. I swallowed thickly, and turned to head toward the fence, hoping against hope that the faery had not seen the blush that had crept across my cheeks. We had known each other for several years now. After I helped raise the Seelie Queen’s son from the dead, Dimitri, the strongest warrior of the wolf pookas was my payment. Being a necromancer of the supernatural has its advantages when you need extra muscle because the Nazi’s are trying to track you down.
Once we reached the fence, we made sure our bodies were concealed by the thick trees as I rattled the chain and looked up at the spiked wire running across the top.
Alright, wolfy, you wanted to dig,” I snapped my fingers with a playful smirk, pointing to dirt edging the bottom of the fence, “now dig!”
“Someday, Anna, you will let me be Prince Charming, yes?”
But before I could answer, he had tossed me a charming little wink and was once more a very large wolf, digging his way under the fence.
Angry shouts, and gunfire behind us told me, as bullets embedded themselves in nearby trees, that the guards had found my open window and Dimitri’s hole. Busted! As a bullet narrowly missed my arm, I shoved Dimitri’s furry rump under the fence, and fired a few rounds of my stolen gun toward our pursuers. Five rounds later the gun was empty, but the guards were still in pursuit. I dropped to the ground and wiggled under after Dimitri. A hand clasped around my ankle amid more angry shouting, but Dimitri’s snapping jaws quickly deterred my new parasite and he let go.
I scrambled to my feet, and followed Dimitri as we wove through the thick trees. Thankful for the immortal capability of quick healing I ignored the jabs of pain my feet and shins experienced as I stumbled over thick branches and sharp rocks. Within ten minutes we reached a shallow ditch beside a dirt road where Dimitri had cleverly hid his motorcycle under some large branches and patches of forest grass.
“Well done, Dimitri!” I flashed him a thankful grin, as he tossed me a bag with an extra pair of shoes, and jacket. Dimitri matched my grin with one of his own before clamoring on the now exposed bike. I slid on behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist and burrowing my face in the hollow of his upper back created by his shoulder blades as he gripped the handle bars.
I was anxious for him to fill me in on everything that had happened over the last three days, since Hitler’s men took me, but for once I was glad that the motorcycle’s loud rumbling made it impossible to talk. I splayed my hands, and staggered them across the chiseled lines of his chest and stomach. I needed time to think. We had become close over the past few years, too close. Surprisingly, despite the fact that my last words to him were hurtful; he was here, saving me when I needed it most. I had regretted my words of bitterness that I had spewed like so much poison upon him when I last saw him, for their desired effect of him hating me and leaving forever obviously did not work. I sighed, rubbing my nose in his back, smelling his wild herbal faery scent, a smell no human man would ever have. I just hoped that the cowardice that had convinced me to push him away the first time would not prevent me from apologizing this time.
I was extremely reluctant to leave the warmth of the first hot shower I had had in days, but my curiosity and rumbling tummy forced me to make it a quick one. Dimitri refused to tell me anything until I had taken a hot shower, and promised a steaming mug of tea and a pirozhki when I got out.
As a small lump rose in my throat I shook my head, and gathered my dirty clothes off the linoleum floor of the hotel bathroom. I realized that boy knew me too well.
I stepped out of the steaming bathroom and promptly sat down to the hot meal. A sense of security warmed my heart as I noticed that the pooka had already finished the glamour on the door. Anyone who came near it would suddenly remember something else more important that they needed to do, and leave us in peace in our stolen hotel room. I wiped my fingers, as the warm pirozhki settled with heavy satisfaction in my stomach, and propped my now healed feet up in Dimitri’s lap. With a sigh, I settled back in the hard chair, sipping on my chamomile, waiting for his intel.
He had been unusually quiet as he sat across from me while I ate, and the serious expression he now wore, as he casually rubbed my sore ankles and shins, made me nervous. He must have sensed my worry, in a way only the fey can, for he winked a blue-green eye as a small smile tugged at the corner of his lips. He was waiting for me to say something. I steeled myself against the unpleasant conversation bubbling in anticipation between us and plunged in.
“You came back.”
“I did,” his untamable auburn curls bobbed as he nodded. His movement added a sense of levity to the serious set of his jaw.
“I told you to go home and never return. I released you from your bond to me.”
“You did, but surely you knew I was not going to go,” his head cocked to the side as his jeweled toned eyes blinked slowly at me. Even in human form his movements mirrored his canine other half.
“I was mean to you.”
He shrugged as though that meant nothing, and I suppose to a faery it doesn’t.
“You love me.”
“You would feel better if you would just admit it.”
“Well—“ I sputtered, the heat of embarrassment and shame at being called out flushed from my chest clear to my hairline, “You have not said you love me!”
His chuckle rumbled through his narrow chest with a slight growl, “I bound myself to you, what more proof do you need?”
“Only by order of your Queen!” I scoffed, attempting to pull my feet from his lap.
He held me firmly in place as he leaned forward, exposing the raw honesty—so rare in a faery—twinkling through his eyes.
“I requested to be bound to you, the Queen could have chosen anyone, but I asked and she honored it.”
He continued rubbing soothing circles on my ankles, “Because, after working with you on helping the Queen, I fell in love with you Anna. As the only one of your kind, it seems as though you are to be hunted just as much in death as you were in life. I could not bear it, should any harm come to you.”
I instantly felt a warmth spread through my chest as his words sunk in. It was as though a wall of ice that I had not realized surrounded me was slowly being thawed—by him. He was right, though, the day my parents died by the hands of Rasputin’s men, I died as well. Fortunately, as our bodies sunk below the dirt they shoveled over us, Rasputin forgot one thing in his betrayal. The amulet he gave to me when our family was once close had magic. It was an ancient magic that, upon my death, transformed me into another creature. I became a necromancer of the supernatural. I’ll remain immortal until I pass along my gift to someone else willing to die and carry on my tasks.
“I’m only 17, you know, at least,” I looked at the dregs of my tea in confusion, before meeting his bright eyes again, “I was only 17 when I died. I have not aged, and I have never known love?”
I could not even say the word without turning it into a question. Dimitri offered a helpful smile as he picked up my shoes from the floor, sliding my feet into them and buckling the straps.
“Now, you know what it is, yes?”
I twisted my lips together in thoughtfulness, before finally giving in, “Yes, Dimitri, I love you.”
He flashed me a wide grin before hopping up, “Good! Now we can go stop Hitler!”
“Hold on one second!” I shot up from my seat, grabbing the lapel of his jacket, and tugging him to a stop. We were nose to nose as he tilted his head forward with an innocent hang dog expression, “What?”
“Say it,” I ground out.
“I love you too, Anastasia Nikolaevna,” his whispered words sent a thrill down my spine quickly followed by a sharp tingle that reached my toes the moment he crushed my lips with his own soft full ones. As my arms coiled around his neck to pull him closer he grabbed them gently, curling his strong fingers around my wrists, before breaking from our kiss with a satisfying smack.
“Trust me,” his voice was ragged as though he had just run a marathon, “I would love to continue this conversation, but you would kill me if we don’t leave right now.”
But he was already stripping the door of its glamour, and throwing one over us both, he flung the door open and tugged me by the hand down the hall.
“What exactly is going on, Dimitri?”
“Hitler wants you to raise Rasputin.”
“I know, that’s what he said when they captured me, but I refused and they locked me up. Tonight, being the anniversary of his death, is the only night they can raise him, so without me it’s impossible.”
“Right, well,” by now we had stepped out into the murky darkness of night, and since we were out after curfew, I was extremely thankful for his glamour, “It seems as though Hitler has found himself another necromancer.”
“He what?” I squeaked, coming to a stunned halt. Dimitri was busy pulling his bike out from behind a large dumpster, it too was effectively glamoured.
Just then a small troop marched by on their curfew rounds, their stiff arms and legs swinging in perfect sync. Dimitri froze at their approach, his wolf form rippling in the air around him, as the red and black patches on the soldier’s uniforms flashed by us, mocking us in their vile superiority. Preferring not to pay attention to the symbols of hate, I turned my attention to a very tense wolf pooka whose curled lips issued forth a low growl.
“Down boy,” I breathed, putting a steading hand on his arm, “later.”
Once the troop had rounded the corner and were out of sight, he jerked his head in a nod before swinging his leg over the bike. I quickly slipped on behind him, “What do you mean Hitler has another necromancer? I’m the only one who can raise Rasputin!”
Dimitri snorted, balancing the large piece of machinery under us, “True, you are the only necromancer who can raise the supernatural, but Hitler has found one who can raise humans.”
“You mean he doesn’t know there is a difference?”
Dimitri’s auburn curls brushed his collar as he shook his head, “Apparently, not.”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” I whispered and crossed myself before wrapping my arms tightly around the fae’s torso again as he kicked the bike to life.
“He’s about to raise a demon!” My worst fear was lost in the wind that tore by us as we hurtled toward the city’s peasant’s cemetery.
Under the guise of faery glamour we arrived at the peasant’s cemetery in mere minutes, but we soon saw with heavy hearts that we were fashionably late.
Several official vehicles lined the road. I could only see five soldiers, rifles at the ready in front of a simply marked grave, but I was certain there were more. As we hid behind the bramble covered iron fence, I saw Hitler’s stiff back, as he waited with patient hands clasped behind his back. His feet were planted firmly beneath him, hip width apart, and he looked every inch the military dictator he was, complete with the fear and bitterness needed to drive his desperation. Next to him knelt a small balding man, as he drained the blood of a chicken in a cup, preparing his ritual.
“Dimitri,” I whispered, “How many are there?”
Nose twitching, Dimitri raised his face to the twinkling night sky, as he sniffed the air.
“Thirty soldiers….sniff, sniff…..one dictator…sniff….and ewww….” He whined low as he winced behind his hand now covering his nose, “….one very dead sorcerer.”
With a vehement swear under my breath, I muttered, “He’s up then.”
“Yeah, well, half-way up at least.”
“Right,” I whispered, pulling the pins that held up my braids down, as the low sounds of chanting filled the once peaceful cemetery. It didn’t take long to realize that the ground below us was too soft for my heels, so I pulled them off before placing them in the bike’s side bag. I simultaneously pulled out two doubled edged daggers. Kissing both blades, I murmured their required blessings before rejoining Dimitri, who had now shifted into a wolf whose large paws were padding soundlessly along the fence line.
“Can you take out the ones hidden, while I start on the ones out?”
He nodded his large head before slinking off through the trees toward the fence’s back entrance. I was confident that he knew where the hidden soldiers were and could find them faster than I could, plus I was counting on his ambush to provide the distraction I needed.
Clamoring over the top of the iron fence, I managed to use a tree that was growing against it as leverage for a silent landing. Without Dimitri nearby, my glamour was now gone and I hoped that the chanting that was getting progressively louder and frantic would drown out my footsteps. I was about two feet away from the figure of the necromancer, whose back was to me, with arms raised in the air inside his drawn pentagram. Hitler’s focus was fortunately on the now moving mound of dirt that looked as though a very large worm was writhing about beneath it. Before I could take one more step, I felt the barrel of a pistol at the back of my head. As the soldier behind me drew breath to sound an alarm, a loud tearing sound interrupted the necromancer’s chants, quickly followed by screams of pain, gunshots, and the general chaos of men being attacked in the middle of the night by an invisible wolf. I spun around and shoved my elbow into my assailant’s chest. As shots were fired in our direction, I heard Hitler call to his necromancer, “Fortsetzen, fortsetzen, don’t stop!”
The man’s voice, now less sure of himself, continued with a quavering consistency. After twisting behind the soldier who had grabbed me, I allowed him to take a few bullets to the chest. Once he fell, I remained crouched behind his body and a wide bush, peering below its high skirted branches to see Hitler issuing orders to regroup his men. He must have thought I was dead, and I was hoping he hadn’t recognized me amid the fray because the human necromancer and two sets of rotting arms clawing their way out of the ground were all that remained. Rushing over to the old man, in his rumpled banker’s suit, with the ritualistic blood painted on his face in stripes, I gripped his shoulders and shook him firmly.
“Please, wake up! You must stop this now!”
His eyes flew open, and their hazy whiteness showed me he was far too gone into the spirit world to stop now. Not wanting to hurt him there was nothing I could do but I still gave him one last good shake. It was pointless, but I could not help but be angry at him. He did not know that he was about to bring forth a demon from hell in the corpse of a sorcerer, not the man himself.
I spun around on my bare heel and was instantly confronted with the decayed presence of Rasputin. His empty eyes stared back at me from his head that was tilted in an un-natural angle due to his hanging. With a hiss he lunged for me with his maggot riddled hands, but I dropped quickly, rolling out of the way. Normally, re-animated human corpses were too slow to be of any threat, and only fully animated supernatural corpses could be as they once were, but a demon bodied supernatural?
I ducked, kicked, and slashed out with my blessed daggers as Rasputin’s putrid body, parried and blocked my moves. It was disconcerting enough to watch his skin knit together as the human necromancer’s chant gave him life, but it was even worse as every blow I struck to try and slow him down, barely seemed to affect his balance. Even so, as I jumped over a crumbling tombstone, I knew he needed human blood before his ritual would be complete and then he would be stronger than any mortal or immortal upon the earth. I sprinted toward the gate with him quick upon my heels, knowing that if I could possibly get him to attempt to cross it, I might also get him impaled upon it so I could finish it off.
The cemetery had gradually quieted down again, which meant Dimitri had finished his job. I mimicked the short pack call of a wolf to call in his support. Without fail, he came bounding out of the tree line, flying across the tops of the crumbling tombstones with sure steps that never faltered. Taking a deep breath, I eyed the sharp spikes of the iron fence before me before using the branches of a nearby skinny tree, and the baroque scrolls of the fence’s gate to part scramble, part hop my way over the fence. The ripping fabric of my dress echoed in the still air. The demon following me still smelled like sewer, but was looking less undead by the minute. Rasputin attempted to bust through the gates to pursue me on the other side, but Dimitri had now caught up, and grabbing his rotted coat tossed him against the fence. Rasputin extended his chipped and rotting fingernails until they were claws and swung at Dimitri, but the wolf skirted out of the way before quickly diving back in for another nip. One well place swipe to Dimitri’s muzzle turned the white snout red with blood. Rasputin was now being back up against the fence by the fight, but I couldn’t chance him getting another more fatal shot in. I gripped the narrow hilts of both daggers in one hand and grabbed a fist full of stones at my feet, feeling the pressure of the dirt squeezing beneath my nails.
“Hey!” I yelled, throwing the stones at the back of his head, “you rotting carp! You made me get dirt in my nails, you better make it worth it!” I threw a few well-placed stones that ricochet off his bare but dirty skull as he turned to face me with a hungry gleam in his eye. “Come on! What are you afraid of? Huh? Come get me!” I taunted, grabbing and throwing fistfuls of dirt and rocks in his eyes as Dimitri continued nipping his heels before moving away from the swiping hand. Finally the demon had enough of our taunts, and as he attempted to fly over the fence with new arms stretched towards my neck, Dimitri jumped once more, latching on to his still regenerating ankle, and pulled him down upon the spikes of the fence. Shrieking and hissing his unholy profanities, the demon struggled to remove himself.
Standing right below his face, I wanted his attention, “Rasputin!”
He turned his snarling face toward my own smiling one, “Hi!”
I waved and before the fear could enter his reptilian yellow eyes, I had sliced his head off with my daggers as though they were scissors.
His head promptly thumped to the ground, rolling to my feet where it once more shriveled upon itself like a raisin. The hair of his beard was once more matted and stringy, his eyes were sunken and empty, and the empty spot of his nose had a bright green slug poking its curious head out with its stubby little antenna waving about merrily.
A loud squelching noise above me told me that Dimitri had already removed the body, so I picked up Rasputin’s shriveled head by the beard, my heart filled with relief at the crises averted.
“So,” Dimitri smiled broadly, “I hope you’re not too tired.”
“Why do you say that?” I chuckled, following him back into the cemetery to lay the old sorcerer’s bones to rest under a spelled fire.
“Well,” Dimitri tossed the body into the open grave once we reached it, I tossed the head in after it and began the soft low chant to spread the fire, “Hitler is still on the loose, and we,” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “have a conversation to finish.”
I wrinkled my nose as I stared at him over the sharp blue and black of my fire that would ensure Rasputin never rose again.
“What?” He laughed, eyebrows tented over his merry sea colored eyes.
“You chomped on a dead man’s rotting leg. You’re going to need a whole bottle of mouth wash before you touch these lips!” I puckered my lips at him suggestively, making loud kissy noises.
“Oh really?” His grin turned wolfish and his nostrils flared, as he slowly crossed one foot over the other, edging his way around the fire.
I quickly blew him an air kiss before spinning away shrieking in delighted giggles as he chased me through the cemetery weaving around the toppled tombstones. Making his own loud kissing noises, Dimitri’s words were barely discernible through his wild laughter, “Come on Anna, I thought you loved me! Just one kiss!”
We never worried that our raucous laughter and shouts could wake the dead, for they all slumber eternally by my hand.