The Witch and the Dirty Blood
By: Loretta Stradley

Grant Night walked back to the first room, but stopped at the door, a silver dagger pointed at his face causing his eyes to go cross–eyed. The red tinge from the magic imbued into the long blade told him it was witch magic, which was a relief, sort of, because it could have been something much worse.

"Stop demon," the redheaded witch demanded, stretching out her arm to stab him in the eye.

Grant swung his hand up and hit her extended arm causing the dagger to fly out of her grasp and slide across the floor. Dropping down he caught himself with his hands and swept one long leg out knocking her legs out from beneath her, causing her to fall.

The witch went crashing down, long skirts swirling amidst a lot of very bad words. Calling him every name in the book, she stood and twirled her hands in the beginnings of a curse.

Grant got up and tried to pick up the dagger from the floor, but the magic in the silver knife shot out at him, like red lightning, causing him to jump back and curse. Sucking on his burned fingers, he knew better. The magic was set to demon and the demon part of him attracted the magic. He was lucky; he knocked it out of her hand before she stabbed him. It wouldn't send him to Oblivion, the place that begat demon, because he was only half demon but it would cause him to bleed his human blood.

Grant had kicked the dagger out of the way, but now he had to deal with her energy blasts, and he knew that a red meant it was set to kill and not heal. Healing would have been blue, or green, but red was going to hurt. Assuming he wasn't dead.

"Hold it, hold it a minute," he said, with his hands in the I–give–up stance.

Agatha Hallowcircle, still muttering and twirling her hands, glanced to where the silver dagger lay in the corner and tried to move toward it.

"I'm not the one you're looking for," Grant said, staying between her and the knife. He knew that if she got the dagger then he would definitely be dead. He didn't like definitely dead, barely dead was bad but you could recover from barely dead. Definitely dead was a one way ticket.

The witch threw the energy at him causing him to jump aside and fall to the floor, the red sparkly light hit the crypt wall shooting sparks. Dashing to the knife, the witch cackled with glee and picked it up. Turning to attack him the witch stopped when she faced the gun barrel pointed at her head.

"Let's try this again, shall we," Grant said, his eyes beginning to shine amber from his anger? "I am not the one you are looking for."

He saw confusion her eyes as she glanced at him and frowned, sniffing for his scent. He smelled demon, and he felt demon, so he must be demon. But demons didn't carry guns. The witch lowered the blade and looked closer, and saw the humanity. He was only half demon and therefore no threat to her or anyone. Dirty–bloods did not have demon magic. Dirty–bloods were only stronger than full humans and lived longer. And dirty–bloods did not kill her coven.

"Who are you," the witch asked, putting her blade back in its leather sheath on her belt?

"My name is Grant Night," he replied, holstering his 45. "Who are you?"

"Agatha Hallowcircle, and if you don't mind I have work to do."

Agatha pushed by him to leave the crypt and walk back into the ante chamber where the small altar still lay under its dust.

Grant followed the witch out into the night, the full moon lighting the cemetery path that led to the crypt. He stopped when he saw her standing in the moon light and noticed more details than he had been able to see with the knife in his face.

Her long red hair fell to her waist and she wore a long gypsy skirt of many layers and folds, typical attire for witches.

Grant watched her sniffing the air trying to find a trace of the demon she had been following, but Grant's dirty–blood was convincingly demon enough to throw her off the scent. He heard her muttering under her breath about trespassing idiots and dirty–bloods and watched her marched off to her car, sniffing the air as if to pick up the scent of whatever she had been hunting

Grant followed her, dusting the crypt dust off his dark clothes. He hoped he could avoid being blasted while he tried to talk to her about joining him in the hunt for demons. He didn't know that many witches and they avoided him anyway. They didn't like his dirty–blood smell.

He rushed up to her to block her progress and she halted in surprise, suspicion coloring her blue eyes.

"What do you want dirty–blood?"

He narrowed his eyes at the insult but figured he didn't have much time to worry about pride before she lost patience and decided to red blast him just for shits and giggles.

"It seems we are both looking for the same demon," he said, talking fast, "and I thought maybe we could join forces and find it faster. With both our abilities we could find it quick and kill it together."

The witch frowned at him. "Why do I need the help of a dirty–blood? You don't have any magic."

"True, but I am half demon, which you keep reminding me, and that means that I am able to feel demons a lot faster than you can smell them. And with your power I won't have to worry about being bothered by the Weres."

"Sounds like you would get the better deal than me," she said with a smirking laugh.

"Ah, but I can keep the demons and crossbreeders off you. The crossbreeders will stay away from me once they see my aura."

Crossbreeders were a cross between ogre and demon like some Frankensteinish nightmare. And they were overly fond of witch flesh and impervious to magic. Grant often wondered what Divine presence would create something that horrible that not only would eat whatever creature it came across, but also its own species.

Grant caught Agatha watching him for a second before coming to some conclusion. Shaking her head as if it was a bad idea she turned and walked off, waving for him to follow her.

Grant smiled and followed her to her car. Agatha got behind the wheel and turned the ignition of the 1975, red and beat up, Volkswagen bug and drove them out of the cemetery onto the empty street. It was three o'clock in the morning and most humans did not come out during the witching hour.

During their short drive neither one said anything but he heard Agatha muttering under her breath. Not magic rising muttering but regular muttering. Saying words like "Stupid" and "Dirty–bloods" but Grant ignored her knowing he had her by her curiosity and she would at least hear him out.

Driving to the 24 hour small town coffee shop, the witch parked in front and got out. Grant followed her into the diner and sat opposite her in the booth.

Grant didn't even wonder how Fred, the owner, knew that they were coming when he placed a cinnamon macchiato in front of the woman. Being psychic could save time. Fred waited patiently for Grant to order something. Even a psychic can't tell you what you want if you don't know what you want.

After ordering an Americano, no whipped cream, Grant watched the woman across from him. "So why are you hunting demons, witch?"

He watched her stopped sipping her coffee and glared at him over the rim of her cup.

"I might ask you the same dirty–blood. Why are you hunting demons?"

Grant let the dirty–blood remark slide for the moment. "I'm not hunting demons. I'm hunting for one particular demon. I'm looking for the bastard that raped my mother and got her pregnant."

His amber eyes light up with emotion. There was enough demon blood in him to do that, but not much else.

"I'm hunting the demons that killed my coven sisters. They broke into our coven house, and killed everyone. I wasn't home when it happened so I was the only one who survived," she said.

"Then it looks as if we have the same goals. I'm thinking we should combine forces and work together to the same end."

"You'd just get in my way. Why would I want to hook up with someone like you?" Agatha said, leaning over the table and looking him straight in his eyes.

"Like I said before, I could keep the crossbreeders away from you. I could also keep the vamps away so they wouldn't bother you either. And with my demon blood I can find demons faster than you." He tried to look like he really didn't care if she accepted his suggestion or not. He didn't want to come across too eager.

Grant watched her lean back, picking up her cup and sipping the cinnamon sweet coffee, watching him as if reading something about him.

"Okay, I will agree to work with you but only if you agree to help me find every demon that was in on the coven attack and help banish them to the Nether."

The Nether was the not place between here and there. Anything sent to the Nether never returned. It was a void, no place, no time, and no space.

Fred brought over Grant's order and Grant picked up the mug and smelled the strong coffee. It smelled good and would take the chill out of his bones.

"Okay, but I have another proposition for you. What if we, while we're out hunting for our demons, hunt down some other things and make some extra cash? We could be partners and split everything we make 50/50, after expenditures of course."

He saw the disgust in her eyes. Hunt creatures for money?

Grant knew he was losing her if he didn't say something quick.

"You said your coven was dead so who's to know what you're doing? Do you have something better to do than make some honest money? And without your coven you're pretty much on your own now."

Grant knew that Agatha had nowhere to go. Without her coven all the witch had to her name was the car and the clothes on her back. Once a coven was disbanded, or in this case killed, everything the coven owned was taken over by the Witch Council. He knew that as a survivor, she had been banished, homeless and friendless.

"I don't have a place to live so how would I join you in a business? I have to find somewhere to live besides my car," she said, sadness creeping into her eyes making then go dark with grief.

"You can stay with me at my place, free, if you agree to the partnership. I have a two bedroom bungalow at the edge of town. We can set it up as headquarters and work from there. You can stay in the spare room. It even has its own bathroom."

"Once I find the demons I'm after I plan on going to the Nether. My life ended when my sisters' did and I have nothing but revenge to keep me alive right now."

Grant watched her. She really was down in the dumps, not that he could blame her much. He knew how witches lives were organized. And a witch's coven house was her whole world.

"Look, I'm not a witch nor am I part of the Witch Council. They ignore me already so what are they going to do if I take you in, ignore me more?" He said, sipping his coffee again.

"Come on, what you got to lose? Stay with me and become my partner. We kill our demons and then become exterminators for hire. I know a lot of people who would pay nicely to get rid of some pests."

He could tell she was considering his words, and they did make sense. She was dead to the council and the other witches so what did she care if they found out she was living with some half demon in a two bedroom house at the end of the city

"Okay, let's do it. Let's come up with a plan, a name for our new endeavor, and some rules." She said, signaling Fred over to order food.

He smiled, happy now that he had convinced her to team up with him. They could make a killing with their new business.

When Fred came over, they both ordered food and more coffee. They had a lot to talk about.



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