Erin ignored the buzzing in her pocket as she traversed Meihui’s mansion. It was even more richly adorned than the library and featured large luxurious rooms that spoke of her affluence. The scent of the succubus’ perfume hung heavy in the air and Erin felt something like a trained hound as she followed the invisible path it left behind. Had Meihui not been so heavenly scented, magic would have done the job just as easily.
She went up a flight of stairs and stopped on the half-pace, listening. She could hear excited chatter and one of the voices was unmistakably Meihui’s. Erin continued up another flight, reaching a landing with multiple rooms in both directions. Following the sound of the voices, she entered one painted deep red and vacant, except for hooks with leather harnesses hanging from the ceiling. Erin wrinkled her nose, in her mind there was no doubt what this room was used for.
She went further in, approaching a sheer black curtain that separated the red room from another. Just as she was about to pull the curtain aside, Meihui appeared from behind it. There was blood on her hands and Erin stepped back, looking at her coolly.
“You’re not supposed to be here Erin, this is not your concern,” Meihui said, her stance suggesting that she was not going to budge. She smiled pleasantly, gesturing to the door Erin had entered from, “Why don’t you go back downstairs and I will join you shortly. There are things I need to … take care of.”
“Move.” Meihui shook her head at Erin’s command and the warden, her impatience mounting, tried once more, “Meihui, get out of my way.” Still the succubus refused. So this is how we’re going to play it? Fine.
Erin raised her hand from her side, watching as Meihui’s body unwillingly copied the motion. The succubus looked at her frantically as though in shock, but she’d had her chance. Erin flung her hand out and without touching Meihui, threw her beyond the curtains as she did and followed her in. Meihui now lay on the floor, catching her breath from Erin’s attack. There were three others in the room, one of them the incubus guard who’d first come to summon Meihui, another in the same traditional garb as he was and the third, a human lying bleeding on the bare stone floor.
“No!” Meihui exclaimed weakly, standing on shaky legs. She’d stopped her guards from going after Erin and obeying her wishes, they knelt again at the dying man’s side.
“Who is he Meihui?”
“You have learnt some new tricks I see,” she said, slow to answer.
If Erin had told Meihui the truth, it would have been that she didn’t know she’d been able to do what she just had. Before her dark magic had come like short bursts of energy through her, strong, but not nearly as powerful as what she felt now. She’d been testing it in the last weeks and becoming more aware that what Damian had told her was true. In time she wouldn’t need to do anything but think it, for her will to be done. To some extent it had been that way with Meihui, but there were still barriers there that she could feel keeping her full potential at bay.
Erin’s tone was cold, “Don’t make me ask you again.” To her surprise, Meihui began to laugh.
“Would you believe that I do not know?” She stepped over to where the man lay gasping for breath. “My man found him here. He was already in this state. I came to try and revive him.”
Erin looked at her with disbelief. “Doesn’t look like you’ve been doing a very good job,” then in Mandarin, “Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on here.”
Meihui shook her head, then knelt next to the man with her guards. “This is the truth Erin, when have you ever known my kind to kill in this way?” It was true, succubi and incubi used more ‘pleasurable’ acts to kill. They took from the unwitting victim’s life force, taking their energy in copious amounts, until the unfortunate soul breathed no more, the action too troublesome. The man on the floor had been stabbed multiple times and though it could be a crime of passion, Erin was no longer sure what to believe.
“Will you be able to save him?”
Meihui nodded in reply. Her guards moved away from her as she placed her lips to the dying man’s mouth. She touched his chest with both her hands then straddled him, snaking her body over his seductively as she did. Suddenly she was completely still and took his face in her hands, breathing life into him.
Erin watched as she repeated the action a few times, seeing that some of his wounds were starting to mend, organic tissue fighting to pull itself together so he could heal. Meihui flopped over and one of her guards lifted her with ease into his arms. He moved to take her from the room, but she stopped him when they were about to pass Erin. She lay in her guard’s arms like a frail version of the vibrant woman who had first welcomed Erin into her home and the warden knew she would need time before she’d found her full strength again.
She whispered, “Those of my house did not do this, but I find it convenient that just as you are called to scrutinize me, such a tragedy occurs.”
Erin wanted to believe, but it just wasn’t enough, not yet. “We’ll see. I’ll have one of the containment officers pick this guy up, a Cyclops will give us the truth.” Meihui nodded and the way she slumped back afterwards, made it clear that even that simple gesture was taxing in her present state.
“Very well, please, make my home yours until this is resolved. I do not wish for …” she stopped and Erin tensed. Somewhere in the house someone released an ear-piercing scream.