The gun clattered from Shay’s hand to the floor. Shay kicked Anna’s body away with her feet and scrambled to stand. She looked at Juniper, who sat on her haunches by the wall. “Good girl.”
Juniper’s back suddenly arched, and she let out a hiss at something behind Shay, but all too late because Shay was flung forward through the air.
Shay’s arms flew out to break her fall as she landed on a Prussian rug, which bunched and slid beneath her. Pain zigzagged up to her elbows and legs. She clambered back to her feet.
Kendall, who’d been unconscious on the floor, was now rising to her own feet, her one hand outstretched towards Shay. “I am going to end you,” she said through her teeth.
She threw another knock-back spell, and Shay drew her arms and crossed them over a spell, throwing up an invisible wall. The Prussian rug slid backwards several feet along the floor, taking her with it, as the knock-back spell hit the wall, but Shay remained standing.
Shay threw her own arms down to her sides, hitting Kendall with a knock-back spell of her own which sent her tumbling and spiraling through the air. She landed on top of a wooden end table, which shattered to pieces beneath her.
The tips of Shay’s fingers prickled as she gathered a ball of bright green electricity in one hand.
Kendall’s eyes widened, and she rolled out of the way as the spot where she’d been moments before exploded with dust and debris.
“Kill her,” voices seemed to hiss from the walls around Shay.
Kendall’s fingers formed claws, digging into the floor where she lay on her stomach. A darkness seemed to swell around her as she pushed herself to her feet. Her blonde curls fluttered wildly around her, and her blue eyes blazed like the inner core of a flame.
The shadows came flying towards the air towards Shay like a black, rippling fog. It grabbed at her body, sticking like a second skin, as the temperature around her seemed to drop. She felt as if a hand were closing around her throat, tilting her head back, pressing deep into her windpipe.
A smile stretched across Kendall’s face.
Shay’s mouth gaped open as her air was suddenly cut off once more. It seemed as if the shadows were relishing in her pain, and though she knew it sounded insane, it felt like they were lapping at her cuts and sucking up the blood there.
Shay’s fingers clawed at the darkness on her neck, but her fingers passed through cold, empty air.
Shay gathered a ball of electricity in front of her and sent it at the shadows around Kendall, which darted for the walls, letting out shrieks that were too high-pitched to be human.
It hit Kendall in the chest, knocking her over, and her body convulsed where it lay on the ground. For a moment, she was still, and then the shadows swarmed around her. Her eyes flickered open, and the shadows drew her back to her feet.
The invisible fingers tightened around Shay’s throat, and Shay gasped. She was lifted into the air, the toes of her boots just skimming the hardwood floor before they cleared it completely.
Kendall walked over to stand directly in front of her, triumph written across her face. “I want to see the light leave your eyes.”
She held out her hand in front of her, palm facing the ceiling, curling her fingers in slowly. With each new clench of her fingers, the pressure on Shay’s neck increased.
Shay struggled, her feet kicking beneath her as her hands sought for something to grab and pry away from around her neck. She sent a wave of electricity through her body, but the shadows seemed unaffected by it.
Shay let out another choking gasp, and everything went black for a moment.
Then Juniper let out a yowl, and Shay saw a large gray shape flying through the air towards the back of Kendall’s head.
Kendall screamed, spinning towards the source, and Shay fell to the floor as the shadows dropped her. The rock that had hit Kendall clattered to the floor in front of her.
Aubree stood at the end of the hallway, her eyes wide and frightened but her legs planted in determination. Her one hand was clenched into a small fist at her side.
“Leave her alone,” Aubree said, her voice shaking.
Kendall lifted a hand to the back of her head where the rock had struck her, and her fingers came away blood stained. Her lips curled as she raised her eyes to Aubree. “I think I’ll kill you second.” Then she turned back to face Shay.
“I said,” Aubree said to Kendall’s back, “leave her alone.”
Kendall’s body turned a fraction of an inch to look back at Aubree. “Are you going to make me?”
“No,” Aubree said. “Not me.” And then tossed several small round brown shapes that Shay recognized as liana seeds at Kendall.
Kendall looked down at the small seeds that clattered at her feet and smirked.
“Now!” Aubree screamed.
Thick brown vines sprung from the seeds, shooting out and wrapping themselves tightly around Kendall’s ankles. Kendall screamed as they wound up her legs, and then her abdomen, encasing her whole body within a matter of seconds.
The shadows shrieked.
They dove for Aubree, and an idea suddenly sprang into Shay’s mind.
A pillar of flames sprung up around Aubree, and the shadows fell back with another shriek. “Kill, kill, kill,” the shadows hissed, the voices mixing together. “We have a right. We have a right to kill."
Flames sprung up around the shadows, which shrunk down to the floor, drawing back from the bright glow of the fire.
“Kill, kill, kill.”
From inside the cocoon of vines, Kendall screamed. Farther away on the other side of the mansion, the scream was taken up by another voice.
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