Genre: Urban Fantasy
Type of Short Story: Novella
Summary: Centuries ago, they tried to invade us and failed. Now the elves are back.
Paranormal Bureau Agent Ella Jones knows her job: fight the Shades living between worlds and keep everyone safe. But then her partner goes missing, a mysterious guy saves her life, and increasingly dangerous creatures slip into her city. After centuries of peace, the gates beyond the Veil are opening and an old enemy is returning: the elves.
Ella needs to find her partner, uncover the identity of her savior, and find a way to stop the elves from invading again. With the world going to hell, what’s a girl to do but grab her guns and knives and figure it all out, one way or another.
Ella didn’t move. Faint humming filled her ears, and clicking noises sounded. The clouds above shifted, though no wind blew. The Veil was thinning. Shades would be lurking, waiting to pounce. In the past, faint, frail faeries came through; these had recently turned into more malevolent creatures — kobolds and goblins with a taste for blood.
Nothing moved. Her cheeks ached with the cold. Swearing under her breath, she shifted her hand on the grip of her gun. She wore her blouse inside out for protection and the patterned letters on the front scraped against her skin and itched. The charms hanging around her neck chimed softly as she turned to check behind her and she clapped a hand over them, the iron ice-cold against her palm. A strand of dark hair fell in her eyes; she blew it off her face.
Night was falling, limiting her vision, and she just wished she knew where the hell Simon, her partner, was. He was supposed to meet her, but there was no sign of him.
No sign of the caller who’d reported being pursued by a Shade, either, and she couldn’t just shout ‘Secret Paranormal Investigation Team of one here to save you’, could she? Not with the Shade lying in waiting. Poor fellow had either escaped or found death. Sooner or later she’d know which it was.
The air thickened, growing opaque with dark fog, and she clasped her cold iron charm against her chest. She drew a deep breath and caught a whiff of blood.
A shift behind her, a current stirring the trash, and three Shades came out of the mist, running at her, claws extended.
Ella spun and slashed with her twin knives, the symbols on them blazing. She caught one Shade under the chin and cut upward, drew the other into the creature’s belly. The Kobold shrieked, clawing at its throat with sharp-nailed fingers, then fizzled and faded, returning to the grey space between the worlds — the river of Grey, where twisted ghosts and shadow creatures nobody knew much about wandered.
Quiet settled around her. She turned in a circle, knives pointing down. They dripped black ichor that burned holes where it dripped into the ground.
Where were the other two Shades? And where had all these come from? The Veil rarely thinned so much as to admit more than one at a time.
A swish in the air behind her and she dropped to the asphalt, rolling away, coming to a crouch. The other two Kobolds leered at her, spindly legs and ugly feet bare to the icy wind that now tore through the city. She rose slowly.
Dave would love this new development. One more thing to worry about, on top of the increased Shade aggressiveness they’d observed over the past days.
Ella barely had time to duck when the Shades attacked, each from either side. She slashed at one and backed away. Simon, damn you, hurry up! Her partner was so going to hear about this. He never stood her up, so what was going on?
No time for speculation. Her boots skidding on loose gravel, she raced toward a construction site. It stood silent in the night, pillars and scaffolds rising like ruins of some ancient temple, silvered by moonlight. She dug her fingers into the chain link fence and climbed up, swung a leg over and dropped on the other side. She ran lightly between pits and pieces of machinery, looking for a good spot to make her stand.
Too late she caught the glint of yellow eyes peering at her from behind a half-built wall. Backing away on broken pieces of concrete and planks, she tried to wrap her mind around this. More Shades? Maybe she should call Dave right now, ask for extraction ASAP.
But she never got the chance. The goblin, because that’s what it was, stepped from behind the wall, massive and horned, drooling silver saliva. The Kobolds snickered and chittered, a series of clicks and sighs that chilled her spine. Jesus, how many were there?
She drew her phone, keeping the knife in her other hand, and pressed one, the speed-dial for a distress call.
Then the goblin flew at her, knocked the phone out of her hand and slammed her down to the floor. Her head hit the concrete and the world blacked out for a moment. As her senses returned, the dark fading, she saw the goblin tower over her. She barely registered the burn of something sharp pinching her side, too shocked to feel much of anything. She patted the concrete at her side, seeking her knife in the rubble, then froze when the goblin drew back a massive fist and gave a grin full of sharp teeth.
Somewhere behind her, the kobolds clicked and clapped.
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