With her back turned, Rose couldn’t see anything of what was happening, but her othersense gave her all the information she needed. Nazeem’s pain—the first unmistakable feeling she’d gotten from the vampire. Ian’s pounding waves of excitement. The hunger and rage of the cu sith. The murderous joy of the fairy men.
The padre would have been invisible, if not for his physical presence at her back. Rose wanted to ask him what he was doing, why he wasn’t blasting these guys, how she could help, but the words were an immovable weight in her mouth. All she seemed able to do was stand there and feebly swing the rosary at the writhing shadows around them, watch its light fade a little more each time one of the tentacles struck at her.
Rose realized she was terrified.
Even more, she knew she was helpless, that the only thing protecting her was Mike’s own weapon in her hand. Mike should have been over helping Nazeem or Ian with their own fights, but instead he was forced to stand here and protect her because she was just a sensitive, not some magically empowered warrior like the rest of them. The one thing she could do—the one thing that made her presence here worthwhile—she’d failed at. The fairies had snuck up on them. Twice, if you counted the knight coming out of nowhere just now and almost chopping her head off.
Sudden heat surrounded her again as Mike sent another wave of fire at the fairy man who threatened them. Rose could have told him the fire was only an annoyance—the creature felt no real fear of it—but she had noticed the shadows faded while the fire blazed. Mike yanked her forward, dragging her along like so much dead weight—like the useless baggage she seemed to be. He pulled her through the doorway and out into the light of the room. He threw himself back against a wall and pulled her close in front of him. He grabbed her hand—the one that held his rosary—and the fading light flared bright again.
“Concentrate on that,” he said.
“This!” He wrenched her hand higher, squeezed it hard enough the beads dug painfully into her skin, then let go. “On keeping that thing away from us.”
Rose didn’t want the fairy to come close. She very much didn’t want the fairy to come close. She thought about that, long and hard. Tried to push that thought out through her fingers, into the warm, glowing crucifix that dangled from her fist.
Mike lifted his hands and the tiny glass fragments from the window Nazeem had shattered swept across the floor. They rose into the air, began to circle, a terrible, glittering whirlwind. It surrounded the fairy, tearing at his clothes and his skin, until the spinning air misted red.
“Ian!” Mike yelled. “Close ranks!” Mike pointed a hand towards the iron spike Nazeem had dropped and with a gesture sent it flying towards Ian’s opponent. The knight deflected it with languid ease, knocking it aside with his sword, but the distraction was enough for Ian to disengage and run towards Mike and Rose.
Ian ran into the glowing circle of Mike’s crucifix just as the closer fairy ran his hand down his bloody face, then clenched the hilt of his sword, still driven into the floor. Unlike when Mike did magic, Rose could feel the pressure building against her skull as the knight called power. The glass shards exploded out from him, peppering Nazeem and the dogs, shattering to dust on the walls and ceiling. Nothing touched Rose or Ian or Mike.
The knight came towards them, and Rose thought furiously, over and over, Get away get away get away. The rosary stayed bright and the fairy had to back down from the light.
Behind her, Mike said, “Get rid of them, Irish.”
“Working on it!” Ian snapped. He sounded annoyed. Felt confused. None of it sat right on Ian.
“What’s wrong?” Rose broke her mental litany to ask. “Ian, what’s not right here?”
“Nothing is right here.” The second fairy man approached and Mike’s hand joined Rose’s again over the rosary. “These are powerful folk—too powerful to be on this side of the curtain. The woman we saw before, she was broken somehow and that made more sense, but these…I can’t banish them. I don’t know how, since they shouldn’t be here at all.”
Cruel amusement radiated from the fairies, disorienting in its intensity. “Lord Pyotr has made a home for us here. You,” the knight who had been fighting Ian pointed at him, “blood traitor—” The fairy stopped abruptly and sniffed the air. He trailed a finger down his sword, then tasted the blood he found there.
This time, the confusion and—yes, she was sure of it—fear came from the fairy. He leaned over, whispered to his companion, then raised his sword to point at Mike’s ball of light. The light flared, became blinding. Rose covered her eyes, squeezed them shut. Mike swore and the light went away. When Rose opened her eyes and looked around, the fairies—all of them—were gone.