Page 165 of Court of Nightmares

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“You can call us judges,” Althea offers, staring at him.

“Of course, judges. I am Mirton, assistant to Ethic, who runs this establishment. He warned us you may be visiting in the future and to escort you to a table that we have set aside for you. Your drinks are free too.” He peers up at us. “We simply ask that any . . . business you have isn’t conducted on these grounds.”

“We will hunt here.” Althea sniffs. “But we will not kill here. You can tell your boss that.”

“Thank you.” He slumps in relief before guiding us to the VIP section and gesturing to a huge booth with the best views of the club. “His personal booth,” he rushes out. “Ethic wants it known that he wants no trouble. He follows all laws here, and any who do not are yours.” He backs away, watching us carefully.

“I think Ethic is scared.” I grin as I lean back, running my eyes over the club. Everyone is watching us in one way or another, all but one. There is a woman at the bar pounding down shots. Her bright pink hair clashes against everyone around her, and for a moment, I eye her. Something about her causes me to hesitate, and Althea tilts her head.

“I’ve seen her before.” Suddenly, her eyes turn white, and then she nods. “Sorry, I was talking to a ghost. He says she isn’t trouble, but something tells me she is about to be in a lot of it.” She grins at us. “I guess I can talk to your ghosts, Azul.”

Azul beams proudly at her, and as we sit back, focusing on the club, they focus on speaking to any ghosts that hang around.

“Another?” Zale asks, scanning the area while ignoring the drinks that were dropped off. They could be poisoned for all we know. I observe as Althea watches the pink-haired girl storm from the bar with a weird smile on her lips before she winks at me and focuses back on our hunt.

A man appears at our table. He’s a big bastard, and old judging by the power flowing off him. He might as well have his cock out for a measuring contest with the way he’s throwing his power around. I cover my smile with my hand and lean back as Althea runs her eyes over him, finding him lacking as she peers at him. “Can we help you?” she asks.

His muscles bulge as he presses his fists onto the table and tries to get in her face, but he simply can’t because her power pushes him back. “I heard what you did.”

“And?” she replies. “Congratulations?”

“You have no right. I don’t know who you think you are, bitch.”

A growl goes up at our table, but she holds up her hand with a sardonic smile and stops us.

“We won’t stand for it. We will kill every last one of you.”

“I would really like to see you try.” She stands, causing him to stumble back, and holds her arms wide as the music cuts off. “Come on then, kill me, or are you all talk?”

He snarls and lunges for her. I tense, even though I know she can handle it. She laughs and then disappears, using Conall’s magic to appear behind him. She taps him on the shoulder, and he whirls.

“Boo!” She laughs in his face as he falls to the floor, and then she presses her heel against his throat and pins him there as he snarls and struggles.

“Pro tip, don’t pick a fight with the baddest bitch around.” Leaning down, she applies pressure. “And that isn’t you, not anymore. Try to hurt one of mine, and I will rip you to pieces and wear your ribcage as a corset. Do you understand me?”

He nods, eyeing her in fear as he realises just what she is capable of.

“Good boy, now run along before I decide tonight is the night to spill your blood and see if you are a sinner.”

She lets him up, and he scrambles away, rushing to the door.

“Anyone else want to try their best? We are right here, so go ahead,” she calls to the rest of the club, and when no one moves, she drops her smile. “I didn’t think so, but let me make this very clear.”

Her words are soft but deadly.

“Anyone who tries to hurt my family will face me, and I’m not the nice one. They are. We might be envoys of the gods, but make no mistake, I will kill every last person who lays a hand on them. Gods or no gods, nothing would save you.” She glows with her powers as she speaks. “You want to challenge a judge? Go ahead, but once they beat you, I will rip you apart while you beg for death. I’m friends with ghosts, I’ve been to the other side, and I’ve met the god of death, so let me tell you, they’ll let me keep you here as long as I want. Tell that to your friends.” She turns back to our table. “Pick the judgement. I’m craving death and blood, and I’m going to claim my kings again in the aftermath.”

“I have one,” Osis murmurs, and Azul nods. “Con and I will grab him and meet you back at the court.”

“I think we’ve tempted fate enough tonight.” I wink as I stand.

“I’ll take them all on if I have to,” she snarls.

I grip her throat and pull her closer. “And win, my queen, but the idea is to save the race, not kill them, even if they are idiots.”

Snarling, she struggles in my grip. I’d feel the same if someone just threatened her, so I tighten my hold, watching her eyes blow wide. “Later, my love, you can take it out on us, but for now, we have a job to do, so be a good girl and take us home.” I trust in that, trust in her powers, and with a nod, she fades us from the club and back to the thrones in our court.

Our masks appear, the candles around the room flare to life, and the blood circle lights up. Conall and Osis appear, thrusting a man wearing shackles into the circle before appearing in front of their thrones.

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