While my day hadn't been going well before, someone having dinged my car while it sat in the lot, being fired from my fantastically shitty job at McDonald's, and coming home to find the lock to my apartment bashed open, the door slightly ajar, it only crossed the line into 'totally irredeemable' territory when the vampire tried to tear my windpipe clear of its place in my throat with a nearly pants-wetting roar.
As most vampires tended to be, (except for those Black Court freaks… who probably would have killed me silently, if only for efficiency's sake) this member of the Red Court was beautiful. Maybe they figure that if you're going to spend a potential eternity at Court talking to, around, and through someone, as well as potentially maneuvering with, around, and through someone, they might as well be easy on the eyes. Flowing red hair, that seemed to fan out in an alluring blaze of fire with her motion, bounced behind her lithe, incredibly fast form. Her body looked as if it should be sat atop a throne, delegating matters of governance to her lessers, and-
Fangs. Sharp, deadly fangs, the sight of which broke me from my ill-timed reverie just in time. A snarl sprang to my face as I raised a hand, (my right, the side that traditionally expels energy,) and spat, nearly cursed the word I used for my favorite (read: only) evocation.
"Fuego!" At the sound of my psuedo Latin, and with a push of gathered will, as well as my surprise and desire, at the image of that woman springing towards me, anger, at being marked as prey to something, and fear, because holy shit that was a vampire screaming through the air at me, those very things felt as if they flooded through my body and out my outstretched hand in an instant, angry conflagration of flame, sparks and minor gouts of fire spurting off from the cone I launched at the monster proof of how hasty and half-formed the evocation was. Really, the very fact that it was a cone, and not a thin stream, showed that I was off my game.
Even so, the cone was small enough that it very pleasantly caught the surprised woman in the face, doing little else save for a few sparks singeing the rug beneath me. My hands immediately shot to my ears in a vain attempt to drown out the inhuman screech that exploded from the vaguely head-shaped mess of burning hair and melting flesh atop her shoulders. Thankfully, my surprised stumble at her impromptu destruction of my freaking ear drums allowed me to get out of the way of the meaty black claws that shot from her flesh with no effort on her part, and sailed through where my head had been moments before.
That meant bad news. I wasn't much of a Practitioner, but I'd learned enough about the Red Court-by necessity, seeing as Bianca, a fairly powerful part of the Court, happened to live in Chicago-to recognize that any of their number that could shed the human disguise they wore without resorting to having it melted away, torn off, or burned into nonexistence, by themselves, or an enemy, was beyond bad news for someone of my relatively meager talents.
And so, I bravely turned my tail and fled.
I didn't yet ask myself how the monster had penetrated my threshold without sacrificing almost all of its preternatural power. No, I was busy doing other things, like making sure I didn't trip and die, Horror Flick style, and leave behind a very bloody corpse. Later though, I'd come to the terrifying conclusion that it had done just that... It just hadn't mattered. It must've been so strong, that the temporary loss of its power just made hunting pleasantly more challenging. It didn't help that it was just me living there, ever since my roommate went off to New York, chasing a job opportunity, and left me with just my cat.
Thresholds are more powerful when the house actually belongs to those living in it, and, more importantly, that the house is truly lived in. A home, rather than just where someone lived, and preferably to a family. My theory is that the shared experiences, and the emotions and memories shared sort of reinforce each other, even as they reinforce the threshold.
My apartment, while mine, was mostly just where I slept. With no internet provider capable of standing me in a bad mood, and thus no computer, I could only play single-player video games for so long before I had to go out and socialize elsewhere in Chicago. On top of that, like I said before, I lived alone with just my cat, and hadn't been doing so for more than a few years. And so, not much living got done in my apartment, leaving it more or less a heavy curtain that supernatural baddies had to pass through, rather than the brick wall a real family, in a real home would generate.
Running had been my only real shot, seeing as it was strong enough that losing so much power was a mere inconvenience to the thing.
That didn't make it smart.
As soon as that thing left my apartment, it would pick up all the power it had abandoned to force its way inside. And, seeing as I'd pissed it off by hurling a cone of fucking fire at its head, I'd probably gotten it suitably pissed off enough to ignore all the other tasty humans it might pass, and to run me down in the streets.
With its super strength, speed, reflexes, and hunting instincts.
As a creature of the fucking night.
Late at night. On a rainy day, that would drown out all but the freshest scent trails. Which meant no chance that I could use the city's countless residents to my advantage.
Oh, and goody, the rain would water down any magic I threw at her, like strapping a pillow onto your hand before going to punch someone's lights out.
And the only magic I knew how to throw around, being a pyromancer, was fire. Which, again, with rain coming down at a fairly quick rate, didn't help matters.
Luckily for me, I didn't stop to consider all the downsides to the only path for my possible survival. That would've really discouraged me. would've been very defeatist. My thoughts ran more along the lines of 'ShitshitshitshitSHITRedCourtRedCourtShitSHITshitI'msodeadholy-effing-shitI'mDEAD.' More or less at peace with the world, really.
After having run a block, breathless with adrenaline and fear, I managed to rub a few neurons together, and gasped "I need help." But the direction my feet had chosen to sprint were sadly in the opposite direction of McAnnally's Pub. It wasn't safe from the monster, exactly, but there were a number of other practitioners there. Between a few of us, I'd say we had enough firepower to throw off even a fairly strong Red Court Vampire, maybe even kill it.
You know. Probably.
An inhuman howl split the night behind me. It didn't sound too close- Well. Whenever you hear something like that, it's far too close. But it didn't sound right behind me.
"Oh, he's gonna be pissed," I groaned, before continuing my flight.
You see, there's only really one place to run to, one person, really, if you've already gone and made the dumb-ass move to put the monster between you and safety.
I just prayed I had fifty dollars left in my wallet to pay for an hour of the man's time.
And so, a scream that sounded far closer than it had any right to be, with only ten or so seconds between it and the last one, I sprinted for all that I was worth for the office building where one Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional Wizard, worked.
The annoyed wizard, edging towards his thirties, rubbed the tiredness from his eyes as he looked down at me in annoyance from his height of nearly seven feet. The door had just swung open, and I was about to beg him for his help, when a greasy black monstrosity bowled me over, landing atop me and straddling my hips, my right arm, the one I'm any good with throwing fire from, trapped under its gaunt, bony form, the distended, flabby stomach, incongruous with its emaciated form, sagging onto my chest. My left arm tried to keep the thing's fangs from my throat, but a swipe from one of its arms successfully knocked the appendage away. A freakishly long, dark purple tongue bulged from between the lips on its bat-like, bulbous face.
I screamed something incoherent as the Wizard swore a quick "Hell's Bells," before thundering "Ventas Servitas!"
With that shout, a hardened column of air swatted the hungry vampire away from me, with all the grace of a drugged elephant. It worked though, the power of a bull making up for the half-baked nature of the evocations, throwing the once-beautiful beast away from me, and into the wall.
I took my newfound freedom rather well, scrabbling away, and pointing my outstretched hand at the beast. Sitting against the wall opposite the dazed creature, I snarled "Fuego!"
If Mr. Dresden's blast of wind was sloppy, and my earlier cone of fire half-baked, this particular blob of fire was absolutely pathetic. Still though, it struck true, landing more or less on the chest of the Vampire, and it went up like so much tinder, the oily skin burning freely.
It didn't spread all that fast, though. So, howling its pain and rage once more, the beast charged me, its single-minded purpose to rend me limb from limb, and to bathe in my blood. I had just enough time to mentally pat myself on the back, and peacefully think, You did your best. Which I instead used to panicked-ly think FuckshitRedCourtdeadFuckingHelldamnit.
As the combusting monster closed with me, the Wizard shouted another evocation.
Now, maybe it was repetitive, using fire once more. And maybe it was silly, that we'd used matching evocations. And maybe, just maybe, I was a little hurt that he would try to outdo me at a fire-based working, a Pyromancer.
But hot damn. There was a reason he was the one to teach me about channeling fire.
With a few spare seconds to properly prepare his evocation, he launched a thin stream of blue-green flames at the beast, and it cut through flesh as easily as it would butter. Suddenly, that arm raised in anger was twitching on the floor, as flame spread quickly to encompass it. Not waiting for the beast to react, a shout of "Forzare!" and a burst of red-tinted, translucent energy slammed into the Vampire from the silver ring on the Wizard of the White Council's hand, sending it through the air to dent the elevator that firmly read 'Out of Order.' Stepping forward as the creature wailed in pain and surprise, Dresden raised the amulet around his neck, a silver pentacle he always wore, which began glowing a firm, powerful blue.
Shrinking away from the belief channelled through that symbol, the vampire moaned in a voice to high and too loud to be human, its head looking for a way out.
"You know," Dresden said almost conversationally, "I really hate vampires."
The vampire whimpered.
"Some I need to tolerate. Like Bianca. I may hate that she's here, in my town, hurting people every damn day, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it." Leaning towards the vampire, as if to whisper a secret in a friend's ear, but from a distance far enough away that it wasn't totally fucking insane to do so, he said, "But you… well, nobody's going to tell me someone that attacked a friend of mine, on my own territory, isn't in need of killing."
And with that, Dresden pulled a revolver free of his duster, and put a bullet in the vampire's stomach.
Now, that may not sound all that debilitating. One might prefer, say, the head, to better kill it, or a shot to the kneecap, to keep it from running. But that bullet punctured deep into the monster's stomach, and red blood, blood not its own began flowing out, and the beast fell to its knees, still burning, one arm trying to keep the blood that kept it so powerful in its stomach.
And it was there, weak, on its knees, and burning, that Dresden put the barrel of his gun to its forehead, and pulled the trigger once more.
"Holy shit…" I managed from the floor, before falling back in a dead faint.
AN: Yes, yes, I should be working on my Harry Potter thing, updating Chapter two to be less angst-ridden, so I can get a proper story in. But I've been reading the Dresden files over the last year or so, whenever I found enough time to read one in a week or two, and I've been loving it. I just finished catching up, actually, on everything but those 'Welcome to the Jungle' things, whatever they are, the graphic novels, and the last two in the short story collection. Oh, and the ones where he works for River Shoulders the Genoskwa. (Maybe I'm butchering that...)
And, okay, basically that means I've only read all of the main series. Whatever.
I've wanted to write this particular Fanfiction ever since I read mention of a Pyromancer early in Grave Peril. Because, well, fire is cool. Magic fire is cooler. And hotter, har-de-har. As a result, though, this takes place before Grave Peril, and I had to remind myself that *SPOILER FOR BOOK THREE OF THE DRESDEN FILES AHEAD YOU'VE BEEN WARNED HOPEFULLY BEFORE YOU GLANCE AT IT BY ACCIDENT* the war with the Red Court hadn't started yet, and you-know-who hadn't been you-know-what-ed. What? I know how it is. You might not know what happens to who, and that's a pretty huge thing, for the story line of several books in the series.
I promise I'll get back to my long neglected HP FanFiction. And if you go to read that after seeing this AN, thank you, but everything after the first chapter is liable to SEVERE change, seeing as it was sloppily thrown together and I wrote myself into a corner. An angsty, angsty corner.
But this site needs more Dresden! But from what I've seen, Building Faith seems like it'll be decent, (It's an SI,) and the just starting First Impressions is entertaining and interesting. How the author has described a Soul Gaze into Mr. Dresden himself was admittedly fantastic.
Anyways, this will remain a one-shot until I either get bored enough to give it more attention, or finish Another Potter. (Not bloody likely, not any time soon, at least.)
So, be you reader, writer, something in between, or figments of my imagination, Good Luck, and Happy FanFic-ing!