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Adriana vs Werewolf

The beast easily cleared the distance to Adriana in one leap. She felt the heat of the beast’s breath as it came near her, its powerful jaws poised to crush her throat. In that last instant before contact, Adriana dropped down and rolled under the beast. Its hind claws raked across the scabbards on her back.

Using the momentum of her roll, Adriana slid past her Fukushuu blades, grabbing their handles and pulling them out of the cottage floor. Her recovery and roll ended in a crouch near the fallen chair several feet away from the Denson beast.

The garou twisted in midair. It changed its trajectory enough to slam against the side of the fireplace instead of inside it. The impact dislodged stone. Adriana spared a quick glance across the room. The open door leading to the long hallway and escape seemed very far away.

The beast charged at the vampire.

It had recovered much faster than Adriana had anticipated, barely giving her time to mount a defense. She contorted into a leap and spin maneuver that would have won a mortal gymnast an Olympic medal.

Adriana avoided the brunt of the beast’s attack, but its front claws tore through enough of her thigh to leave a good warning against letting the beast make a solid connection.

It also made enough contact to upset Adriana’s trajectory. She failed to land on her feet and crashed to the floor, sliding into several of the nearby coffee tables and accompanying chairs.

By the time she regained her footing, the beast was nearly on her. The vampire leapt straight up, thrusting her legs to either side in a mid-air split. The Denson beast passed underneath her, its claws shredding the wooden floor in its attempt to stop its momentum. It failed; the beast demolished tables and chairs like a set of bowling pins.

Adriana landed hard, stumbling to one knee and wincing at the pain shooting up her injured leg. She looked back to the exit; several tables and chairs stood in disarray between her and it. The vampire sprinted toward the entrance.

The Denson beast erupted from a pile of wood and leather debris. Still moving toward the exit, Adriana glanced behind her. The top of a table flew at her, coming in low.

She leapt forward. The tabletop passed under her. She came down with her foot on the seat of a chair.

Adriana put her other foot on the back of the chair. As it tilted down, she stepped across to the back of another chair. She leapt from it to another chair arm, then another back, bouncing from chair to chair, never touching the floor.
She dug her nails into the palm of her hand as a distraction against the pain shooting through her injured leg.

Sounds of cracking wood gave voice to the garou’s pursuit. Adriana held little hope of the furniture slowing the beast. Close to the entrance, she fell into a head first slide aimed for the hallway beyond the door. She made it through the doorway, the wall bringing her to an abrupt stop.

Adriana stumbled to her feet.

A second later, the beast slammed through the doorway she had just passed through. Its shoulders dislodged the doorframe from the wall, but couldn’t pass through. Stuck in this space, the beast’s eyes met the vampire’s. It howled, showing its gruesome fangs.

Adriana had to make it out the main door, or this sanctuary for the Navarre would be her tomb.

Summoning all of her vampire speed, she dashed toward the lodge entrance. Along the way, she slid her blades back into their scabbards, freeing her hands for the door ahead.

Adriana heard the beast dislodging itself from the broken doorframe, presumably by shredding it. She dared not waste time with a look behind her.
###

Read more in “By Virtue Fall”

Adriana vs Werewolf

The beast easily cleared the distance to Adriana in one leap. She felt the heat of the beast’s breath as it came near her, its powerful jaws poised to crush her throat. In that last instant before contact, Adriana dropped down and rolled under the beast. Its hind claws raked across the scabbards on her back.

Using the momentum of her roll, Adriana slid past her Fukushuu blades, grabbing their handles and pulling them out of the cottage floor. Her recovery and roll ended in a crouch near the fallen chair several feet away from the Denson beast.

The garou twisted in midair. It changed its trajectory enough to slam against the side of the fireplace instead of inside it. The impact dislodged stone. Adriana spared a quick glance across the room. The open door leading to the long hallway and escape seemed very far away.

The beast charged at the vampire.

It had recovered much faster than Adriana had anticipated, barely giving her time to mount a defense. She contorted into a leap and spin maneuver that would have won a mortal gymnast an Olympic medal.

Adriana avoided the brunt of the beast’s attack, but its front claws tore through enough of her thigh to leave a good warning against letting the beast make a solid connection.

It also made enough contact to upset Adriana’s trajectory. She failed to land on her feet and crashed to the floor, sliding into several of the nearby coffee tables and accompanying chairs.

By the time she regained her footing, the beast was nearly on her. The vampire leapt straight up, thrusting her legs to either side in a mid-air split. The Denson beast passed underneath her, its claws shredding the wooden floor in its attempt to stop its momentum. It failed; the beast demolished tables and chairs like a set of bowling pins.

Adriana landed hard, stumbling to one knee and wincing at the pain shooting up her injured leg. She looked back to the exit; several tables and chairs stood in disarray between her and it. The vampire sprinted toward the entrance.

The Denson beast erupted from a pile of wood and leather debris. Still moving toward the exit, Adriana glanced behind her. The top of a table flew at her, coming in low.

She leapt forward. The tabletop passed under her. She came down with her foot on the seat of a chair.

Adriana put her other foot on the back of the chair. As it tilted down, she stepped across to the back of another chair. She leapt from it to another chair arm, then another back, bouncing from chair to chair, never touching the floor.
She dug her nails into the palm of her hand as a distraction against the pain shooting through her injured leg.

Sounds of cracking wood gave voice to the garou’s pursuit. Adriana held little hope of the furniture slowing the beast. Close to the entrance, she fell into a head first slide aimed for the hallway beyond the door. She made it through the doorway, the wall bringing her to an abrupt stop.

Adriana stumbled to her feet.

A second later, the beast slammed through the doorway she had just passed through. Its shoulders dislodged the doorframe from the wall, but couldn’t pass through. Stuck in this space, the beast’s eyes met the vampire’s. It howled, showing its gruesome fangs.

Adriana had to make it out the main door, or this sanctuary for the Navarre would be her tomb.

Summoning all of her vampire speed, she dashed toward the lodge entrance. Along the way, she slid her blades back into their scabbards, freeing her hands for the door ahead.

Adriana heard the beast dislodging itself from the broken doorframe, presumably by shredding it. She dared not waste time with a look behind her.
###

Read more in “By Virtue Fall”

Adriana vs Wraith

During the time of the Abattage Terriblé, Adriana had acquired an enchanted earring that would vibrate upon proximity with garou, whether they be in human or wolf form.

That earring now issued its warning.

From her numerous encounters with the garou, Adriana had learned to identify their various howls. When they first encountered an enemy, they issued a challenge that curdled the blood and drove away the faint of heart.

In contrast, the howl Adriana heard now was a sorrowful release born of great pain. It was more like the howl born of a dead garou’s family than an attacking predator.

Through the smoke and debris, Adriana saw a creature floating above the stairs. It had the appearance of a wolf but was larger, more menacing. Adriana recognized it as a garou, but this creature possessed an ethereal presence like the flames that surrounded Gabriella.

However, this creature’s ethereal flames were a darker hue.

A garou was a lethal creature. This creature was not a true garou, but its spirit in the form of a wraith. That made the creature much more deadly.

The garou-wraith’s eyes focused with laser precision on Adriana. Its lips curled into a snarl, revealing a set of teeth that could rend flesh from bone with the efficiency of a butcher’s cleaver.

It unleashed another howl.

It then sprang forward.

Though the creature gave the illusion of traversing the ground, it made no contact with the concrete as it stalked toward Adriana. Its rate of movement varied; the creature would bound across an area, then suddenly disappear, only to reappear almost instantly in a new location and closer to Adriana.

The wraith’s erratic movement complicated Adriana’s attempt to time its approach. This would make her defensive options more difficult to execute. She had to time each move to the millisecond or risk being torn limb from limb by the creature’s talon-like claws.

Adriana backed into the shadows of Sahlu’s cell, using her preternatural powers to expand those shadows, extending her hiding space. The keen eyes of a natural garou could not pierce the supernaturally aided shadows. Adriana knew this much from her days in the Abattage. But she had never encountered this creature before. She had no real idea of its abilities.

The garou-wraith stopped abruptly at the jagged bars at the front of the cell. It scanned the interior with the eyes of a natural predator — but made no attempt to enter.

The shadows served their purpose. However, the creature blocked Adriana’s escape.

Having lost sight of the vampire, the garou-wraith unleashed its sorrowful howl again. It then sniffed at the stale air of the decaying laboratory.

Adriana knew its sense of smell could penetrate the shadows’ obfuscation, assuming the wraith possessed that sense. In answer to her thought, the garou-wraith floated into the cell, its nose still sniffing at the air. It walked toward Sahlu, brushing its snout against him, taking in the scent of death. The creature was far enough away from the cell exit that Adriana could slip past the beast.

She cautiously edged around toward the opposite side of the cell —

The garou-wraith’s head snapped away from Sahlu. It sniffed the air again. Adriana froze in place. The creature looked directly at Adriana’s position. It could not see her, but it had to know she was there. It leaped at Adriana, its jaws yearning for flesh.
###

Read more in “For Her Sins”

Adriana and Dominique

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
1799

Adriana Dupré stood before the main house of a Louisiana plantation. The structure had several Greco-Roman columns along its front, enhanced by dual staircases that led up to the main entrance. Adriana imagined the interior: austere furniture, commissioned paintings, a room made especially for entertaining, complete with the best grand piano one could find in the colonies.

In its day, the house offered the opportunity for luxury — but the house had seen better days.

Moss and vines crawled from the ground, wrapping the columns and threatening to overtake them. As she walked up the stairs, Adriana avoided sections of rotting planks barely protecting her from a drop to the muddy ground below. The front doors, once strong and a warm brown, were now falling from their hinges, swinging open in the moist summer breeze.

The interior shared the entrance’s decay.

A carpet once plush and probably angelic to the bare foot was as rotten as the wooden stairs outside. Adriana was careful to avoid spots of mold as she moved from the foyer and deeper into the house.

She eventually found the entertainment room. A sofa and several couches were set with their focus a grand piano near the window. The sofa cushions were discolored and worn from use. The window’s curtains were torn, stained by sunlight and dirt.

Adriana moved to the piano, hoping it had survived the lack of attention. A layer of dust had turned its white keys to gray — what keys remained, anyway. Someone had smashed them, probably with a hammer. Touching one of the few undamaged keys, Adriana heard a chord so far out of tune, one would doubt it would ever sound proper again.

Looking to her finger, Adriana saw a layer of filth from the key obscuring the tip. She wiped it on the hem of her dress.

Turning back to the sofa, Adriana saw a young girl lying there. One leg hung over the sofa’s back; the other dangled off the bottom. The girl wore a soiled, blood red chemise that barely covered her inner thighs.

If the lewdness of her display bothered the girl, she didn’t show it. She was so relaxed, it was as if she had always been there, but Adriana knew this was not the case.

Her head rested on the sofa’s arm. She absently held a few strands of her unkempt hair before her eyes, studying it as if it held some arcane secret.

That’s when Adriana noticed the girl’s eyes; or rather, the total lack of any life behind them. She approached the girl slowly, as not to frighten her. The effort was for naught; the girl remained oblivious to Adriana’s presence.

“Dominique!” came a female voice from the hallway. The voice sounded like that of a child.

Adriana looked at the girl.

The name rattled something in Adriana’s memory. She knew the name, associated it with the girl on the sofa. But from when? And why here? Why now?

A shadow crept over the girl. It looked like the shape of another girl. Adriana looked to the window, then back at the shadow. The way the sunlight played the room, the shadow should not come from the direction it did.

It passed over Dominique like a shroud.
###

Read more in “Fall to Grace”

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