He tossed the head aside and glanced at me, checking if I was okay. The whole thing took about five seconds and felt like an eternity. We were both in one piece. I exhaled.
The restaurant fell silent, except for the male necromancer sobbing on the floor and the hoarse hissing from the vampire, convulsing as my saber liquefied its innards, absorbing the nutrients into the blade.
In the far corner a man swiped his toddler from the high chair, grabbed his wife's hand, and ran out. As one, the patrons jumped. Chairs fell, feet pounded, someone gasped. They rushed out of both doors. In a blink the place was empty.
I grasped Slayer and pulled. It slid from the body with ease. The edges of the wound sagged and dark brown blood spilled from the cut. I swung and beheaded the vamp with a single sharp stroke. You should always finish what you started.
Curran's arms shrank, streamlining, grey fur melting into his skin. A normal shapeshifter would've needed a nap after changing shape twice in short time, but Curran didn't exactly play by the regular shapeshfiter rules. He walked over to the male necromancer, pulled him upright, and shook him once, an expression of deep contempt on his face. I could almost hear the guy's teeth rattle in his skull.
"Look at me. Focus."
The necromancer stared at him, shocked eyes wide, his mouth slack.
I knelt by the female navigator and touched her wrist, keeping away from the neck and the gold band on it. No pulse. The necklace clamped her throat like a golden noose, its color a dark vivid yellow, almost orange. The skin around it was bright red and quickly turning purple.
I picked up her purse, pulled out a wallet and snapped it open. A People ID. Amanda Sunny, journeyman, Second Tier. Twenty years old and now dead.
Curran peered into the journeyman's face. "What happened? What did you do?"
The man sucked in a deep breath and dissolved into tears.
Curran dropped him in disgust. His eyes were pure gold - he was pissed off.
I went to the hostess desk and found the phone. Please work... Dial tone. Yes!
I punched in the office number. Chances were, Andrea was still there.
"Cutting Edge," Andrea's voice said.
"I'm in Arirang. Two navigators were having dinner. The man gave the woman a gold necklace and it strangled her to death. I'm looking at two dead vampires and one human corpse."
"Sit tight. I'll be there in thirty minutes."
I hung up and dialed the Casino.
"Kate Daniels, for Ghastek. Urgent."
"Please wait," female voice said. The phone went silent. I hummed to myself and looked at the ID. I didn't know which of the Masters of the Dead Amanda answered to, but I knew Ghastek was the best of the seven currently in the city. He was also power-hungry and he was making his bid for taking over Atlanta's People office. He was very much in the limelight at the moment and I could count on a rapid response.
A moment passed. Another.
"What is it, Kate?" Ghastek's voice said into the phone. He must've been doing something, because he failed to keep exasperation from his voice. "Please keep this quick, I'm in the middle of something."
"I have one dead journeywoman, one hysterical journeyman, two dead vampires, one pissed off Beast Lord with bloody hands, and a half a dozen terrified restaurant staff." Quick enough for you?
Ghastek's voice snapped into brisk tone. "Where are you?"
"Arirang on Greenpine. Bring a decontamination unit and body bags."
I hung up. Our waiter edged out of the doors and approached our table, looking green. The rest of the staff were probably huddled together in the back room, terrified, not knowing if the danger had passed.
"Is it over?"
Curran turned to him. "Yes, it's over. The People are on their way to clean up the mess. You can bring everyone out, if it will make them feel better. We guarantee your safety."
The waiter took off. Someone shouted. A moment later the doors opened and people poured out: an older Korean man, the older woman who had greeted us, a woman who looked like she could be their daughter and several men and women in waiter and chef garb. The younger woman carried a boy. He couldn't have been more than five.
The owners piled up into the booths around us. The boy stared at the two vampires with dark eyes, big like two cherries.
I sat into the chair next to Curran. He reached over and pulled me close. "I'm sorry about the dinner."
"That's okay." I stared at the dead woman. Twenty years old. She barely had a chance to live. I'd seen a lot of death, but for some reason the sight of Amanda laying there on the floor, her boyfriend weeping uncontrollably by her body, chilled me to the bone. I leaned against Curran, feeling the heat of his body seep through my T-shirt. I was so cold and I really needed his warmth.
A caravan of black SUV's descended onto the parking lot, their enchanted water engines belching noise. Magic-powered cars didn't move very fast and sounded like a rock avalanche hitting a speeding train, but it was better than nothing.
We watched the SUVs through the broken window, as they parked at the far end, killed the noise, and vomited people, vampires, and body bags. Ghastek emerged from the lead vehicle, ridiculously out of place in a black turtleneck and tailored dark pants. He came through the door, surveyed the scene for a second, and headed to us.
Curran's eyes darkened. "I bet you a dollar he's running over to assure me that we're in no danger."
"That's a sucker's bet."