James’s Note: In this episode, we get to see the vampires start tackling the Witcher Man’s defenses. I mean we get a vampire hit squad versus a magic killer hedge. What more do you want from life? And yes, the hedge is partially based on my own property. And yes, the orange trees are almost as fierce in real life.
I leaned against the wall to catch my breath. Israel, who had no such problem, eyed the plaque suspiciously. “So what the hell is in there?”
“I call it my Deadly Garden. All the things that are too dangerous to have loose in the world, I keep in there.”
“Considering your risk tolerance, I’m betting that has to be some really bad shit. We’re not going in there, are we?” Israel sounded only slightly concerned.
“I hope not. Give me a second.”
I sat down on the bare earth next to the path, and dug my fingers into the soil. After a moment’s meditation, I was able to join my mind with the interconnected web of ecosystems and spirits that was my property. I opened my eyes, and looked out through my hedge.
The two vans had convened just outside my driveway. I experienced an involuntary shiver when I saw Anna climb out. The length of my hedge shivered sympathetically. There were a half dozen humans in tactical gear rocking the ever-stylish german-made MP7. Another half-dozen were wearing what looked like tactical gear that had been designed by a collaboration of Versace and a fetish gear manufacturer. Those would be the vampires, probably the hundred year olds.
Standing next to Anna were a man and a woman dressed in practical but ridiculously expensive casual outfits. I knew that there were no other vampires as old as Anna in the city, but I had a bad feeling that these two had at least a couple of centuries under their belt. I watched a couple of the humans approach the gate to unlock it and promptly get thrown back a good ten yards. The basic warding around my place prevented those with ill intentions from crossing the property line. It was more than enough to deal with people like them.
There was a brief powwow followed by Anna strolling nonchalantly towards my gate. As she crossed the property line you could see the force buffett her like a strong wind. She extended one hand, and forced her way through. I felt the magical bands strain, and then snap. She lunged forward as the ward gave way, seized the wrought iron gate, and ripped it off its hinges with one hand.
Have I mentioned I hate vampires?
I didn’t even have to urge my hedge to react. The two mature orange trees that anchored the Hedge on either side of the gate posts swung thorne covered branches to bar the way. The bramble roses lashed out their vines, knotting together and forming a living net.
Two of the humans stepped forward with machetes, obviously intending to hack down the offending vegetation. This was a mistake. The roses grabbed their ankles, fish hook thorns sinking into their flesh and they were dragged deep into the hedge. The orange trees began to pummel the intruders with branches that were halfway between a whip and a cudgel. The huge thorns on them were sinking deep into the men’s flesh and the screaming was truly horrific.
The vampires were joining the fray as I dug my hands out of the soil and let my consciousness leave the hedge. Israel was staring at me quizzically. “Do I even want to know what you’re doing?” he asked.
“Just checking up on our friend’s progress, and it’s not good. Anna’s with them and that means our level of fucked-attude just skyrocketed. I can’t say for sure how long it’ll take, but they will break through the hedge. It’ll take a while after that for them to get through the forest to where we are, but I don’t have anything out there that can stop a methuselah. So, I have a plan, but it’s not a good one.”