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The Wicked In Me: Chapter 25

A warning from Esther had the nearby troops edging away from her coven to avoid any magickal blows, providing her a clear path to Wynter. It was very wise of the troops to move. Because this would get ugly—Wynter would make sure of it. She had a score to settle.

Taking a quick scan of the witches fanned out behind Esther, Wynter noticed there was no sign of Rafe. Either he’d found some way to sit out the battle or the coven had left him behind, not trusting that he would fully back them.

“Who the fuck is this bitch glaring at you?” asked Xavier, frowning as said bitch effortlessly destroyed the puppets he sent her way.

“That would be Esther,” replied Wynter, not needing to elaborate. She’d already told her crew all about the Moonstar witches.

His eyes narrowing, Xavier twirled his sword. “I don’t suppose you’ll let me kill her, will you?”

“Nope, this one’s mine.” Once the Priestess came to a halt several feet away, Wynter smiled at her and said, “I can’t tell you how delighted I am that you’re here.”

Esther jutted out her chin. “I cannot say I share that delight. I would have much preferred to never set eyes on you again.” Her gaze slid to Kali’s mark and she tittered, all haughtiness. “Did you really think that anyone would be fooled by that mark on your face? Foolish girl. Kali will not be pleased that you are falsely posing as one of Her Favored.”

Wynter skimmed her gaze along each of the Moonstar coven members, sensing that none believed the mark was real. Uninterested in proving anything to these people, she didn’t respond to Esther’s comment.

“You have made a series of bad decisions of late,” said the Priestess. “I would advise you to break that habit, put down your sword, and come quietly.”

Come quietly? “Oh, you’re here to detain me?” Wynter couldn’t help but smile. “You think you have it in you? Well, aren’t you just adorable.”

Xavier snickered.

Esther dismissed him with a glance. She hadn’t paid any real attention to the cat, crow, or Anabel/Mary either. Well, underestimating people was kind of Esther’s thing.

The Priestess squinted. “If you know what is good for you, Wynter, you will come without a fight.”

“So you can hand me over to the Aeons? You’d really do that?” Wynter took in each face that stared back at her. “I mean, I can see why you’d stand aside while someone else captured me. You’d never go up against the Aeons even if you wanted to. But for you all to actually take it upon yourselves to do the deed, knowing the Aeons will put me through a serious amount of pain once they’ve gotten what they want from me … That’s kind of cold of you, isn’t it? I was one of you once.”

Some did look uncomfortable with the situation. They might not have particularly cared about her, but they’d cared for Agnes—handing over the woman’s granddaughter to beings who were fond of sadistic torture didn’t sit right with them. Having Wynter exiled had been one thing. This was another.

“You stopped being one of us a long time ago,” said Esther. “You were a stain on the coven for years. You defiled our town with your filthy magick. You afflicted a plague upon our people. You incited a war between the Aeons and the Ancients. The others from Aeon have looked upon our coven with utter contempt since you left. We have been scorned. Judged. Snubbed. And all for something that wasn’t our fault.”

“Then you’ve had a taste of how I felt for years after my magick turned dark, huh?”

Esther snapped her mouth shut.

As a little breeze swirled around Wynter’s legs that carried a hint of derision, she said, “Kali’s not a fan of you, you know. Neither is what She put inside me.” The monster kept throwing her mean-ass snarls. “It would really like to end you. And I mean really like it. To be truthful, I’m kind of tempted to let it, since I know for sure it would rip you apart. But I want to be the one who sees you fall.”

Esther scoffed. “You will not convince me you are a revenant. Nor will I believe you are a match for me. Your magick is not pure enough to take down a Priestess, Wynter.”

“You’re not the only Priestess here,” Xavier said to her. “Wynter is ours, and I’d say she’s a fuck of a lot better at the position than you are.”

Anabel/Mary nodded while the cat and crow moved a little closer to Wynter.

Esther took in the sight of them and laughed. “A rag-tag group doesn’t make a coven.”

“A family makes a coven,” said Wynter. “That was why Agnes despaired of what yours had become. It is no longer a family. It is a gathering of power-hungry people. There’s no real loyalty among you. No true bonds. Hell, half of you don’t even like each other. But my coven? We’re everything you’re not.”

Xavier grinned. “You called us a coven,” he whispered. “About fucking time.”

“And you still haven’t worked out what you should have long ago learned,” Wynter went on, holding Esther’s gaze. “No magick is pure. It’s just power. Your magick might be able to do warm, fuzzy things like heal or create, but it can also kill. Where’s the purity in that?”

Esther pressed her lips into a thin line. “It may interest you to know that Rafe is dead. Lailah snapped his neck.”

Rage and grief blasted through Wynter, tightening every muscle. Esther smirked and, God, Wynter wanted to fuck this bitch’s shit up in the worst way. But rushing at her in anger … no, Wynter wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t dishonor him by forgetting all he’d taught her. No, she’d avenge him by applying all he’d taught her—starting with boxing her rage away and focusing on getting the job done.

“It was his punishment for returning to Aeon without you,” Esther added. “In that sense, his blood is on your hands. All you had to do was return and restore the town’s health. But no. And now your precious mentor is no longer with us. Don’t despair, though; the two of you will soon be reunited. Well, perhaps not ‘soon.’ Going by just how much you enraged the Aeons, they may well torture you for a very long time before finally killing you.”

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Your little attempt to detain me will fail, as will any attempt the rest of your army makes. But don’t take my word for it. Give it your best shot. I’m thinking it’ll be fun to watch you try.”

While Esther made a sad attempt at smack talk, Wynter nodded along and quietly warned her coven, “Be ready. They’ll attack hard, knowing they can heal me. They’ll want to kill all of you purely to spite me.”

Xavier cast her a sideways glance. “Are they going to attack from afar?” he asked, his voice too low to carry to the coven.

“Yes,” Wynter replied. “And so are we.”

“Oh,” whined Anabel/Mary. “Using magick is boring. I want to slice off heads.”

“We’re way too outnumbered to go charging at them,” Wynter pointed out.

“Some might charge at us,” said Xavier. “A few are armed.”

“No, they’re there solely to protect Esther. They’ll defend her from the other townspeople so that she and the rest of their coven can concentrate on blasting us with magick.” It wasn’t a coven made up of warrior witches. Most of them relied on magick alone, and they were powerful enough to be able to defeat opponents without getting up close and personal.

Wynter had an edge here, though. She knew each of them well. Knew their strengths and weaknesses. Knew how best to take each of them down.

Esther and her coven undoubtedly thought that they could boast having the same knowledge about Wynter. In truth, they knew very little about her magick. Something they’d soon discover.

Anabel/Mary sighed and stabbed her sword into a corpse. “I’m tired of just standing here. And I’m thirsty—”

No drinking blood,” Wynter ordered before, so done with Esther’s smack talk, calling out, “Well, shall we get this over with?”

Cutting off her words, Esther gave her a courteous smile that held a hint of maliciousness. “That would suit me fine.” She hissed something at the people flanking here, and they all then began to chant.

“Here we go,” said Wynter.

A glittering mist of silver magick clogged the air and rushed at her. She could feel the compulsion that throbbed within it. The bitches thought to force her to drop her sword and follow them blindly.

Wynter waved a bored hand. Her own magick slashed through the air, dark and thick, slicing through the mist and severing the spell, causing the mist to dissipate.

Esther ceased chanting, shock written all over her face. The other Moonstar witches exchanged uneasy looks.

Wynter cast them a challenging smile. “You’re gonna have to do better than that.” She blasted them with a red-hot, toxic gust of magick that whipped their faces, leaving ugly, hissing welts. “Yeah, I was right. This is going to be fun.”


Adrenaline spiking through his bloodstream, Cain dodged yet another flaming spear, watching Lailah bare her teeth in frustration. Bites and stings dotted her bare flesh, and he’d bet they itched and throbbed like a mother.

Retaliating fast, he released a ball of power that exploded in the air as it neared the Aeons, the force of it making several stagger and causing minor fissures to appear in the cliff face.

The Aeons were doing exactly as he’d expected—they were repeatedly calling on the natural elements and sending out blasts of air, fire, water, and earth.

Good choice of ‘weaponry,’ really.

Such power was potent, and they were experts at wielding it. But Cain was an expert at twisting it. Which was something he did repeatedly. And so water became locusts. Winds became hornets. Sand became bees. Fire became tiger mosquitoes.

And he sent those little creatures right at the Aeons each time.

Witnessing the bastards squirm and wriggle and slap at themselves was nothing short of entertaining, particularly because the Aeons knew and hated that they looked ridiculous. Cain wasn’t simply doing it to amuse himself and his creature, though. He wanted their fury, wanted to lure them into making mistakes.

It was working.

They no longer fought like a true squadron. They were each more focused on wiping away the taunting smirk that he purposely kept on his face. And so the number of Aeons was steadily dropping. Not fast enough for Cain’s liking, though.

He would have preferred to focus on killing those shielding the siblings, but he couldn’t afford to take his attention off Lailah and Saul for long—they were attacking too hard and fast, aiming to keep the Ancients preoccupied so that their backup could spring surprises on them. It was a technique they’d used during their last war. It had worked well then.

Cain was resolute that it wouldn’t work so well now.

But he’d have to first help the other Ancients tire out Lailah and Saul, which wasn’t proving easy.

“Watch out for those pulsing surges of energy that Saul’s throwing,” said Seth, a note of pain in his voice. “They hit like a fucking sledgehammer.”

“I learned that the hard way,” said Cain, once more warping a cloud of sand into a swarm of bees and siccing them on the Aeons. “My thigh is still partially numb from the hit.” His leg had almost buckled under the force of it. “You okay?”

“I’ve got a broken rib for sure,” replied Seth.

A female shriek of anger preceded a crack of power that dispersed the swarm of bees. Lailah sharply waved her arm, projecting a shower of rocks, pebbles, and crystals at the Ancients.

A massive gust of power rushed out of one of the Ancients and met the ‘shower,’ absorbing every fragment before they could make contact with anyone. Dantalion, Cain suspected.

Yelling something at the troops that Cain couldn’t quite hear, Saul raised his arms, palms out … and then crackling projectiles of fire whooshed toward the Ancients so damn fast all they could do was try to dodge them.

Cain hissed loudly as one brushed his arm, burning through cloth and grating off layers of skin. “Bastard.” Before he had a moment to retaliate, a large wave of ash formed into a cloud of bats—a signature move of Lilith’s—and promptly flew at the Aeons. She chuckled when the immortals flapped their arms at the creatures and cried out in alarm. But that laugh turned into a harsh expletive when Saul sent yet more projectiles their way wickedly fast.

Clenching his fists, Cain readied himself to dodge the projectiles, but they didn’t aim at him or the other Ancients. No, they blasted the manor. It was a pointless move, since the building was warded against any and all attacks. But, unaware of that, Saul continued to blast the manor.

Cain spared Azazel a quick glance. “Cover me while I focus on Saul.”

As Saul relentlessly attacked the manor, Cain took advantage of his distraction—striking with orbs, beams, and waves of pure power.

Instead of retaliating, Saul used the element of air to ‘jump’ from spot to spot in an attempt to evade any ‘blows’ … perhaps thinking that Cain was attacking him so hard to distract him from destroying the manor.

Again, Cain took advantage, striking repeatedly; drawing blood, slamming flesh hard enough to bruise, bombarding the Aeon with blinding pain.

With a roar, Saul locked his gaze on him. Maybe feeling forced to defend himself or maybe finally realizing that attempting to damage the manor would get him nowhere, the Aeon sent out a wave of water that swiftly turned to ice as it whooshed through the air.

Cain slammed the block of ice with enough power to knock it off-course, sending it crashing into the river below. He smirked at Saul, goading—

A female cry of outrage sounded. Ishtar. Familiar pulses of power then shot toward the first line of Aeons and yanked at their shadows, causing said Aeons to fall on their asses and slide toward the edge of the cliff … exposing the two ruling Aeons they’d been shielding. A gust of Azazel’s power rammed into the two siblings, knocking them down like skittles, scraping at their flesh like claws.

Saul called on air to relocate him fast while Lailah slammed her hand on the ground. Most of the fallen Aeons skidded to a halt, but a few tumbled off the cliff with cries of terror. As Lailah joined those shielding her in leaping to her feet with a snarl, Cain drank in the fear that briefly flickered across her face.

“She’s finally realized that she’s in deep shit,” said Azazel.

Cain nodded. “Took her long enough.”

Power again began whipping back and forth as the two sides went back to exchanging pitiless blows.


A line of white flames thundered to life, seeming to spurt out of the ground in front of the chanting Moonstar witches. Hissing and spitting, those flames raced toward Wynter and her coven, their heat searing.

“Not today, Satan.” Anabel/Mary tossed a glass vial on the ground, and a large billow of crimson smoke rose up in the air and put out the flames in an instant. “Lovely.”

“Hattie, Delilah—go at them from the rear,” ordered Wynter, her words coming fast. “Xavier, send some of your corpses to attack the coven from all angles. Let’s keep their attention divided.”

“You got it,” he told her, crouching down to touch the nearest dead bodies.

It was as bird and feline slinked off that balls of fiery magick sailed at Wynter. She repelled them with her blade, sending them whooshing back toward the people who’d tossed them.

The two covens then went head to head.

Each blow of magick on both sides was merciless. Cloth ripped or burned. Skin tore or blistered. Blood pooled or splattered. Bones snapped or cracked. Glass shattered as Anabel/Mary tossed potion after potion that negated and blocked magickal hits.

Being attacked from all sides, the Moonstar witches had their hands too full for them all to be able to focus entirely on Wynter, Xavier, and Anabel/Mary. But neither Esther nor the witches flanking her once allowed themselves to be distracted.

Yeah, well, neither did Wynter or the coven members at her sides. They all countered the attacks with both sword and magick, pouncing on any opening to retaliate. Shelving any pain, she lashed out again and again, loving how her enemies floundered at the intensity of her magick. Meanwhile, one crimson gust after another poured out of Anabel/Mary’s palms, and Xavier sent out surges of magick that reeked of death.

Above them all, power thundered through the air as the Ancients and Aeons continued trading blows. But Wynter didn’t have time to follow the battle going on above her. She didn’t even allow herself to think much on it. She had her own battle to focus—

Wynter swore as a wave of magick hit her so hard that the force sent her stumbling backwards. “Fucker.” She struck again, sending sparks of dark magick whipping along the ground.

The Moonstar witches backpedaled, trying to avoid the snapping, crackling whips. They failed. The magick lashed their flesh, leaving open sores that gaped.

“Feel the burn,” said Anabel/Mary.

Well, it was only fair. Wynter sported a fair number of wounds, courtesy of the scalding hot white orbs the other coven kept tossing at her—more of which then came flying her way. She slammed up her sword to deflect them just as Anabel/Mary threw yet another vial. It smashed a foot away from the other coven, its contents splashing their flesh. No, corroding their flesh.

“Acid.” Wynter smiled. “Nice.”

Chanting, a glaring Esther emitted another glittering mist. Wynter once more used her magick to hack through it and dissolve the spell.

Esther snarled. “Yield, Wynter. Your little group will die here if you don’t.”

“Looks like the ones dying are your people.” Wynter sent out another surge of magick. The surge swirled and morphed as it sailed toward her old coven, becoming red and black ashes that stuck to the skin of whatever witch they hit. More importantly, the ashes melted into any open wounds, wrenching cries and hisses and winces out of the witches.

Horrendous blisters soon began to pebble on the flesh of the aforementioned witches, including Esther. Those blisters burst and bled and sizzled, making the little skanks freak the fuck out.

“What in the name of …” Esther trailed off, striking out harder, absolutely panicked. That panic only increased when she realized that an inky blackness was spreading through her veins. The other witches who were similarly affected kept glancing at their Priestess even as they fought, looking for reassurance, maybe?

Well, they’d find none.

Soon enough, as the magick began to eat at their bodies, their skin began to blacken. Sag. Peel. Decay.

Teeth fell out. Hair thinned. Lips shriveled. Muscle wasted away. Extremities withered and became stumps.

“Damn, Wyn,” said Xavier, grinning. “This is … sickening. I love it.”

Wynter lifted her hand and paused the magick that was rotting Esther’s body before it could reach her brain. At this point, the Priestess looked both hideous and pitiful. Which was just absolutely wonderful.

Esther tried backing up, almost falling over the dead witches behind her. The coven’s number had steadily dropped until only a few were left standing, and Wynter doubted the woman had even noticed.

Wynter eyed her from head to toe. “Now your appearance matches the monster you are within. And I’d say you’ll fit in just fine with the other monsters you’ll meet where you’re going.” Wynter psychically tapped into her connection with the netherworld. The ground beneath Esther darkened and rippled like fluid. “I told you I wanted to be the one to see you fall, right?” Then the Priestess dropped with a scream.


Cain sucked in a pained breath as a heavy, white-hot bolt of light crashed into him, burning like a firebrand. The Aeons were now fighting harder, redoubling their efforts to take down the Ancients, no longer resorting to only using elemental power. But he and the other Ancients were hitting them just as hard and fast, giving no quarter. Hence why Cain then whipped the invaders with power, slashing their flesh and sending some sprawling to the ground … giving Seth time to rise after being knocked off his own feet by a strike from Lailah.

Cain had sensed several of the Ancients fall at one point or another, but none were down for long from what he could tell. It was hard to be certain. Aside from Seth and Azazel—who Cain could see in his peripheral vision—he had no way to check on the others. Not without turning his attention from the Aeons, which he couldn’t afford to do. But although he’d heard the occasional cry or grunt of pain, he had no sense that any of the other Ancients were badly injured.

Now that the Aeons were scared and weakened by both injuries and exhaustion, Cain and the Ancients were no longer concentrating too much on Lailah and Saul. They instead made a point of taking out the siblings’ backup one by one. But each time someone shielding them fell, another Aeon was quick to replace—

Cain spat out a string of curses as razor-sharp power pierced and snipped at his flesh like scissors. “Fucker.” He launched a ball of plasma that smashed into the legs of an Aeon, exploding on impact, destroying said limbs. Cain’s creature hummed its pleasure. Plasma was its favorite weapon, but Cain didn’t often toss it, despite how deadly it was—the orbs didn’t move as swiftly as others so were easily blocked.

Seth swore as spheres of blinding light zoomed through the air like bullets. “Christ, they’re fast.” He moved swiftly, emitting a wave of repellent power, but not fast enough to deflect every sphere.

Two wacked into Cain and, Jesus, they packed a punch. A punch made of iron that singed flesh like molten lava.

Another sphere must have crashed into Inanna, because she spat, “Bastards.” Then she was launching power grenades at the Aeons, who scrambled to deflect them.

Cain took advantage of their distraction, forming a vortex of power that zipped toward them. Its magnetic force sucked several off the cliff but Lailah acted fast, lifting her hands, causing massive wings of white air to appear. Said wings flapped hard, destroying the spiral and hitting the Ancients with a surge of wind that almost knocked Cain clean off his feet even though he’d braced himself for impact.

No one had time to retaliate, because the Aeons struck again swiftly, splattering the Ancients with blobs of mud. Cain hissed as the weird fucking dirt ate at his skin.

“It’s like goddamn acid,” Azazel ground out.

Worse, smoke rose from the mud, rushed up Cain’s nostrils, and entered his lungs, eating at the oxygen there like a sponge.

He stood very still as he purged the toxic smoke out of his system fast, growling as power sliced and stabbed him like a fucking immaterial blade. He assumed the other Ancients were forced to do the same … which was most likely why Saul chose that moment to act.

Silver shockwaves rocketed toward the Ancients. One smacked into Azazel, sending him zooming backwards. Another hit Cain, causing him to stagger into his brother—which, inadvertently, knocked Seth out of range of a third shockwave.

Free of the effects of the mud, Cain righted himself just as Azazel returned to his side.

“Fucking hate shockwaves,” Cain heard Dantalion growl, and then pulses of near-nuclear energy crashed into several Aeons, killing two. Only one rushed to replace the living shields … and it seemed to be right at that moment that Lailah and Saul finally realized how dramatically their numbers had dropped.

Lailah let out a cry of fury and emitted an omnidirectional wave of gas that shimmered in the air.

Cain didn’t even want to know what that gas would do. He let out a gust of darkness that formed a giant smoky hand with skeletal fingers. Said hand hit the wave and sent it ricocheting back to the Aeons, who bowled over coughing as they fought the effects of the gas.

Taking instant advantage, the Ancients attacked as one—launching missiles of glass shards, zapping bodies with electric tenacles, hurling orbs of power that cleaved and bisected whatever they touched. The latter took out the two Aeons who stood in front of Lailah … providing a clear path to the bitch.

She screeched as a shower of glass shards buried themselves in her skin, which was exactly when Cain launched a ball of plasma that crashed into her head. Her mouth dropped open in a silent scream as she arched violently … and her skull exploded like a bomb.

A roar of grief rumbled out of a severely injured Saul, who tried reaching for the remains of his sister but was quickly hauled off by two surviving Aeons. The three disappeared out of sight, as did the many others on the cliff.

“Death by plasma ball to the head,” said Azazel. “I bet she never thought she’d go out that way.”

“My, my, my, the rats are all fleeing the metaphorical sinking shit fast,” Lilith observed.

Tracking her gaze, Cain noticed that the troops who’d invaded the town were retreating quickly. He wasn’t sure if someone had called the troops back or if they were taking it upon themselves to scamper after watching their leader fall, but they were sure hightailing it out of there in a hurry.

They were also being pursued by many of the residents, who were battering their numbers fast. The Ancients helped, zapping troop after troop with power. Some managed to escape, but Cain didn’t care. He wanted some to return to Aeon and relay what had happened here; wanted the other Aeons to not only be pissed but scared.

His gaze quickly sought out Wynter, scanning the line of—there. She was facing off against Esther … who promptly disappeared into the ground like it was water. The fuck?

The rest of the Moonstar coven was quickly dispatched, at which point Wynter rolled her shoulders and blew out a breath. Either she felt the weight of his gaze or merely wanted to check on him, because she twisted to look up at the manor roof. Cain took an easy breath as he saw that she was fine. Oh, she was covered in blood spatter, minor wounds, and bruises, but she was otherwise okay.

His creature was too wound up to be settled by that. It wanted her close. Now.

Anabel started poking at Xavier’s forehead with what appeared to be a severed finger. Wynter whispered something into the ear of the blonde, who then tensed. And dropped the finger with a squeal.

“So,” began Inanna, “how long do we think it will be before more Aeons come?”

“Hopefully not long,” said Dantalion. “I’m not sure who will lead them. Maybe Saul. Maybe Abel. Maybe Adam. Maybe all of them. I believe we can be certain of one thing—whoever comes will bring a bigger army, and they’ll be better prepared for us.”

“They’ll still all die,” said Cain.

The other Ancients nodded. Because no other scenario was acceptable unless they wanted to remain caged forever.


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