Chapter Three

The Innocent

"Unhand him, elf, in the name of The Man!" I cried, brandishing my katana. (Not my weapon of choice, but it came with the outfit.)

"Holy shit! A ninja!" exclaimed the hostage, but he was quickly muffled with a strip of elfish silk, an unbreakable material woven through with magic. "Mmph! Mmph!" The head female elf laughed melodiously. (Every noise that came out of these creatures' mouths sounded musical, and it made me sick.) Then a golden glow spread from the top of her head all the way down to her feet; a complete, impenetrable shield. The blade was now useless, so I let it fall. One of the other elves picked it up. The hostage stared at me with wide, incredulous eyes. I gave him a wink.

"Don't worry, bub, I know exactly what I'm doing." The elf laughed again.

"Don't waste your strength, human! I have powers of which you know not, and if I decide to kill this young man, there is no way you can stop me!" Oh, but there was a way. This is where I prayed to the Fates for support, because the success of my next move depended on the hostage, a man I had never met before. If he was pure of conscience, i.e., had never killed or maimed a living being, then the elf would not be able to harm him. She would be forced to end her own life for spilling the blood of an Innocent. (There weren't many Innocents left in the world, and I doubted this vampire-werewolf actually was one, so I lied in order to save both our skins.)

"Ah, but I've known this lad since his childhood! He has never gone hunting, been in a fight, or even stepped on an ant, and if you lay so much as a finger on him, it will be your own undoing!" His captor ran a long nail along the hostage's cheek, and I could see the fear exploding in his eyes. And to think, the poor fellow was only in the wrong place at the wrong time…

"You bluff," said the elf, though I detected a hint of uncertainty in her voice.

"Maybe I do, but there's only one way to find out." She looked me up and down suspiciously, and then examined the hostage.

"Greta, come here!" She motioned to one of her assistants. "I order you to cut this boy." The weaker elf, Greta, sank to her knees and begged,

"But, Miriam, I – "

"You will do as I say, or I shall kill you myself." Trembling all over, she rose and unsheathed a small dagger. She steadied her hand and aimed for the hostage's neck. At this point, the young hybrid had passed out from fright.

"Good," I thought. "At least he won't feel the blade break the skin; he will die peacefully, and I will make a run for it."

I closed my eyes for the briefest second as the fatal slash was made. When I opened them, nothing had changed. The parking lot was dead quiet, and the hostage was bleeding, but not dead. It was only a surface wound. Greta had dropped the dagger and turned very pale. She stared at her own body in horror. Her Gold Veil was dimming fast, and her veins were running black. I smiled with cruel satisfaction.

"It won't be long now." As soon as I had thought it, the dying elf took her last breath and crumbled into a pile of glitter. The head elf gave me such a look that no words were needed to convey her fury, and then she and her surviving cronies disappeared in a golden whoosh.

I ran to the hostage, who was a hostage no longer, so allow me to call him Chet. (That's what his nametag read, anyway.) He wore a red apron with the prescription symbol on it, so I assumed he worked at a pharmacy. Chet was still out cold. I slid my hands beneath his back and hoisted him over my shoulder; he didn't weigh much.

"Mmm…" he groaned. "Where…where am I? Who are you? What's going on?"

"Shhh, don't worry! You're in good hands now." Good, manipulative hands. I knew the value of having an Innocent for a companion. The elves couldn't touch him, so I could use him as bait to wipe out whole scores of them. I planned to let him stay the night at my (current) apartment, and then, when the time came for me to venture on, I'd somehow persuade him to come with me. The Fates had obviously destined us to meet, so who's to argue with Fate? Not me.

"You're really pretty…" he mumbled, before passing out again. I frowned in annoyance. (Usually, nobody hit on The Man and lived to tell about it.) But then a glorious idea dawned on me: I could pretend to be his girlfriend!