James’s Note: I don’t want to spoil this scene, so all I’m going to say here is this is one of my favorite scenes of the book. It also contains one my favorite creations of mine, which you’ll have to read to see. Suffice it to say, we see what happens when a Witcher Man goes toe to toe with a Master vampire.
Rather than exchange banter with Anna, I choose the more expedient route of opening fire. I made sure I had a good sight picture, and squeezed the trigger as fast as I could, the gun cycling at quite a decent rate of fire.
It wasn’t even almost fast enough.
She practically danced through the cloud of buckshot I unleashed. Just as she was about to crash into me, Israel hit her like an intercepting bullet. The ensuing fight was vicious. It happened too fast for the human eye to follow. All I got were impressions.
Israel slashed and stabbed with his knife; I’m pretty sure even managing to tag her a few times. She threw punches that landed like cannon fire. I tried another shot, hoping I wouldn’t hit Israel, but that shot was just as effective as the first ones have been. Which means it did a grand total of dick.
I was fast enough to see Israel launch for a decapitation strike, but he was just too slow. She seized his arm and spun around him like a ballerina. His arm twisted behind his back, she grabbed him by the hair and hammered him into the ground like he had fallen from an airplane. She lept gracefully to her feet and brought the heel of her bare foot down on his back in an ax kick that shook the ground like one of the Willow’s blows. I heard the sickening crack and crunch as she obliterated his spine, almost breaking him in half.
Israel lay on the ground, blood pouring from his mouth and nose, unmoving. I tried vainly to empty the rest of my magazine at her, but before I could even get another shot off, she had me by the throat and was lifting me higher into the air.
“Any last words, Witcher man?” she asked, obviously thinking this was over.
“You know,” I choked out, “that’s always a stupid question.”
With all my might, I kicked the steel box behind me.
The sudden thrumming buzz that filled the air was something you could feel in your chest. Out of the hive, huge white bees began to pour in a thick and visible cloud. Each one was the size of a hummingbird and shown with a faint white glow. The bees boiled out of all of the hives, quickly swarming Anna and I. She seemed more confused than concerned, and tried to strike them with her free hand.
This was not a good idea.
She struck one that had landed on her face, and it exploded in white hot fire, burning a hole in her cheek. That made her scream. Soon the bees were slamming into her and erupting like the white hot slag from a smelting furnace. A few of them landed on me, tasted the concoction I had spread all over myself, and decided that I was a bee too. Anna, however, was not covered in a delicious nectar concoction spiked with bee pheromones.
Several more of the bees that landed on her erupted in fire, causing her to hurl me away in pain. I landed on the path, digging a crater in the gravel. Let me tell you, that is not a fun experience. Luckily, my leather jacket kept me from having to pick too many of the rocks out of my skin.
Anna was screaming and flailing when the guard bees arrived. Worker bees try not to fight, since they have long productive lives gathering honey left ahead of them. But as they get older, they start to stay around the hive more. They also get a lot more grumpy. They graduate into being guard bees, who are too old for this shit and don’t have a lot left to live for. These are the ones that encompassed Anna’s writhing form.
She was quickly invisible under the furious mass of little soldiers. When they began to vibrate, the heat roiled off them in waves. She fell to the ground, kicking and rolling. The bees became the white-hot glow of a supernova and the flash of their immolation blinded me.
I lay on the ground in darkness, nursing my injured ribs and thinking how nice it would be to stay here always and have no more of life’s troubles or tribulations. Unfortunately, my vision quickly returned and I had shit to deal with.
Where Anna had lain, there was now nothing but a blackened skeleton. When I prodded it with the toe of my boot, it collapsed into a fine gray ash.
Well, I thought to myself, that’s one way to deal with a master vampire.