Sitting there like that there was no way to tell which figure was of stone and which the undead. He was waiting, watching for his next victim. Pressed against the statues he became like them, alabaster skin, cold and hard as stone. He would remain there as still as the grave until she arrived. Even though he had recently fed, his heartbeat was nonexistent and he dared not move for he knew his prey’s senses were almost as attuned as his. The darkness and thick fog blocked him from sight. The slightest mistake on his part would allow her to hear or otherwise sense his presence before he was ready. But he had the advantage over her. He knew she was coming but she had no idea he was there. Also she was scared. He had attacked this one before but was not in the position to take her down but the constant tension began to wear on her nerves and degrade her reflexes. Heightened alert can only be maintained for so long before it weakens you, sometimes to the point of collapse. But not this one, she was to strong for that. He spread out his attacks over a long period of time but she didn’t let it tear her up. She might have been on edge and jumpy but she was far way from being easy prey. That’s why he wanted her so bad. Sure there were other reasons she must be destroyed but he would take great pleasure in laying waste to her life. So he stood there shrouded by fog and inhuman stillness and listened as she approached. Every careful calculated step brought her further into the darkness, closer and closer to him. The acrid sent of fear mingled with the sweet, meaty smell of her and it excited him. His whole body began to tingle with anticipation. Still he did not move, she must be closer, closer. She was scanning the area, some part of her knew there was danger but she was unable to pinpoint it. He was thrilled by how near she was to finding him before he was ready. She was inches from him. So he sprang.
Once again I, Malaya, huntress for the raven coven, was forced to venture out into danger to meet with the members of the council. The council of immortals had to meet three other times to discuss the current crisis and this time, I hope, they will finally come to a decision on what to do. Unfortunately for me I had to leave the protection on the coven to attend these meetings. For the hundredth time I wish the superstitious lot of them could do it over the damn phone. That’s the problem with immortals they are always stuck in the ways of the past. But as one of the people partially responsible for letting The Danger out it was my duty to see that the problem is resolved and as fast as possible. That does not mean I have to risk my life with a smile on my face. Once again I traveled out into the cold, into the darkness to talk with the council because it would require all of their resources to take care of The Danger. Every step took me deeper into the dark recesses of the graveyard. Around me hidden in the thick fog roamed the restless sprits of the dead. The closer I came to the oldest part of the ancient cemetery the more tangible the sprits became. Their presence felt reassuring; the undead have always been invigorated by the energy of sprits. That’s why the council always meets in the oldest part of ancient cemeteries. But even the heavy presence of powerful sprits couldn’t completely calm my nerves. The Danger was strong and more relentless than anything I have ever encountered before. My job is to battle vampires and other various immortals and each of them have weaknesses I expertly exploit, yet this guy seemed to be the perfect predator. Fight after fight with him has failed to expose his weaknesses. While I made it through the other fights with my life, sometimes just barely, I have the feeling he was just playing with me. When he got tried of playing cat and mouse there was no hope for me. That thought scared my. So every step I took quickened my heart and sent shivers up my spine. I tried to search every shadow for any hint of him but the starless night and dense fog prevented even my vampire enhanced eyes from seeing very far. So I listened and sniffed the air. The smell of old death and degrading stone with a hint of wet grass were the only scents wafting through the air. And of course only the small animals of the night and the distant noise of the city could be heard. There was no indication he was out there, except the building dread sitting low in the in my stomach. Instincts told me danger was out there while my brain kept trying to dismiss it as paranoia. But instincts have saved me more times to than I can count, and I’m pretty smart. I let my fears guide every footfall, every ear twitch. I turned, a particularly energy rich shadow caught my attention, when it leaped out at me. I tried to block the attack but he was on me and gone before I knew what happened. Three deep cuts appeared across my chest and the blood began to run.
He disappeared back into the night leaving me bleeding and unnerved. I drew my short sword from its sheath which was attached to the inside of my coat. I headed for the line of statues hoping for a more defensible position, but kept alert always ready for the attack. Before I could reach he came at me again, this time from the side. I rolled away and slashed down and out but only hit air. But he got me; claws ripped flesh from face and arms. I didn’t have time for pain so I continued running.
Back against cold stone, sword raised, I stood ready. He was toying with me teasing me but he wasn’t going to kill me running scared. I would stand and face my death. He looked as if he sensed the determination in me. He came stalking out of the shadows with a crude look of pleasure plastered on his face. Standing at a very lean 6’6” he looked very imposing. There was such a look of evil in those yellow orbs of his, and his enlarged fangs glistened, it made my bones shiver. He was done playing games. This was the time to end it. He was a blur of speed and destruction. Torso and arms were sliced lightning fast, but I ignored it and went straight for his neck. A quick uppercut, but he dodged it which I was expecting so I cut low hacking into leg tissue. His knee snapped up, I flipped back but my kick missed and he continued to advance. The first attack had spun me around so much I was no longer back against the statues they were to the right of me. I dove toward them, squeezing my slender frame between two of them. He tried to follow me in but the space was to narrow. While he was trapped I heaved the smaller sculptures at his face. Three of them broke across his face without doing much damage; the fourth had a hard edge that caught the side of his face slicing nose and cheek to the bone. In his rage he tossed the heavy statues away like paper and came down on me hard. He boot slammed into my chest like a house, cracking ribs. I slashed up at his groin but once more he was too quick. Jumping back he grabbed my ankles and flipped me over, face first into the dirt. He pounced on top of me, pinning me down. He seized a handful of hair and yanked my head to the side then sank his teeth into my neck. The force of it ripped dime sized holes in my skin and dislocated my shoulder. Searing pain washed through my whole body. A terrified scream escaped me and I struggled to get free but his was too heavy. The more I fought the tighter he held on and the faster I lost blood. He was gaining strength with every drop of life he stole from me. I was swimming around in a world full of panic and pain. I couldn’t focus enough to see the ground beneath me; still I managed to get my hands and knees under me. I pushed up as hard as possible, catapulting us both into the air. His head crashed into an overhanging branch, grinding his teeth against bone and forcing him to loosen his grip. I flipped us over and he hit the ground first. Freed I rolled forward, pulling my sword with me, pushed myself back onto my feet. I swirled around as he lunged at me. The one handed swing grazed his ribs but swung wide on the return pass. He caught my weapon and tried to rip it free but I would not surrender it to him. He held on cutting up his hand, he yanked and pulled but could not pull it free. Then on a really sharp tug I leaned in, angling it toward his abdomen, putting all my body weight into it. When the blade pierced his stomach I twisted it, tangling the sword in his guts. He stood there dazed for a moment; taking advantage I jerked upward severing thick stomach muscle tissue. He roared like a wounded lion, took hold of me, his claws tearing through my back, and flung me across the cemetery. I crashed into a protruding headstone, slid down and landed on my butt. I sat there for a moment which seemed to stretch out forever, watching him try to wrest the sword from his insides. His rising anger made the delicate job difficult. In his preoccupation I managed to grasp a large tree branch and whack him across the face. We both went tumbling toward the ground. I landed on top of him. The blade slid through him and pierced the earth beneath. I stared down at him, still and lifeless though I knew that was only an illusion. At any minute he would get up and end what was left of m y life. So I pulled myself up off that ground and took off running.
Through the fog I ran just barely missing tombstones and statues. My higher brain functions shut down and all I could think was keep running, save yourself, keep running. Dizzy from blood loss and clouded by pain there was no reason to my path. I ran wildly, panic drove me forward. The world rushed past me in a haze of color and sound, every step forward drained me of what little energy I had left. Out from the shadows a figure appeared. It was him coming to end it. An ear piercing scream of anguish and utter frustration escaped my lips. He kept coming for me again and again. His determination to kill me and unending power to do so was too much for me to overcome. How can you fight something that has no fatal weakness? Still I charged at him. I was pounding, quite ineffectually, against his chest when I heard it.
“Malaya, Malaya it’s me Hellion.” I stopped. Was it a figment of my imagination, had I finally lost my mind or maybe I was dead. I looked up to find myself staring into those big green eyes I would know any where. It was Hellion, my savior. I collapsed against him, my body no longer able to support itself. My muscles were like jelly and my mind was mush. Cradled in his arms all panic fled but with it went the only thing sustaining me, adrenaline.
“Hellion I love you.”
“I know.” he scooped me up in his arms and took flight, with an ease only he could manage. Over the cemetery and out of danger we flew. The wind blew past us ripping at the already painful wounds all over my body. But I couldn’t complain, the fight was over and I had escaped with my life. That’s all one can ask for when forced to confront The Danger. I calmed myself by remembering that very fact. After traveling in a gentle arch over the cemetery we landed in front of the Sinclair mausoleum. The Sinclair’s were one of the oldest and most influential families of the area which means two things: they were, and still are deeply connected to the council and their crypt is well kept yet secluded place deep within the power base of the graveyard. Hellion carried me past the grotesque carvings on the archway and down the stone steps into the underground vault. The narrow strip was lit with flameless torches evenly spaced along each wall. The blue light gave the area a cold eerie feeling. There were plaques plastered to the marble telling where the bodies were entombed. Most of them were inscribed with silver lettering with name dates and a small description or inspirational phrase. But there were a few lucky enough to have gold grace there plaque. Even in death they managed to divine and display their superiority. Most of the dead were gone; their energy no longer remained on this plane. Then there were others who remain as a wisp of energy hiding among the shadows. Then as expected from such a family six remaining sprits were of tangible quality. Meaning they had the ability to do serious damage to the physical without draining their essence. These sprits were protection for the council why the Sinclair vault was the preferred meeting location.
Our entrance attracted the attention of all present . Hellion kneeled down and placed me on the ground but still engulfed in his embrace. Instantly eighteen sets of inhuman eyes glared down at the two of us, the weight of them threatened to push me through the ground.
“She was attacked by him. She’s badly wounded.” They looked me over and saw how much of my insides were now exposed. The white of bone could be seen on arm, chest, and cheek. Crushed ribs protruded at awkward angles and the one arm hung limp at my side. My first wounds had begun to heal but the massive amount of life blood gone that process slowed to a crawl.
“She will be safe here,” said Toshio, master vampire and council member. His deep, crisp voice filled my world with warmth and clarity. “But her energy must be replenished.” Hellion nodded and handed me over to Toshio who bent down to be at eye level. I didn’t want to leave the security of Hellion’s arms but didn’t have the strength to resist. Then Hellion slit his wrist and offered it to me. The smell of his blood sent my mind reeling and my mouth water. My whole body ached with pleasure at the thought of taking in his life blood. Still I hesitated, my desire for that magnificent red ambrosia was so great I knew once I got a taste I would lose all control.
“Don’t worry, you wont hurt me.” He said reading my thoughts. With those words all hesitation was destroyed; I grabbed his wrist and sank my teeth into a gently as possible but as soon as the first drop passed over my lips I became less of the rational, moral, thinking person and more the beast. The beast craves blood and death and can never be fully satisfied; it is something all vampires must deal with and something none can ever control for to long. The sweet taste of him poured down my throat and I gained a new awareness of him. The masculine aroma of rich cologne mixed with the smell of old death crowded my nostrils only adding to the joy of the experience. I could hear the slow beat of his blood filled heart slow as I drained it. The feel of his hard cold skin against my soft lips felt like sandpaper in my heightened sensual state. Consumed by the burning desire to drink him down I sucked at the open wound like a leech and I wouldn’t be pulled off. I gulped down mouthful after mouthful, greedily depriving him of much needed energy. He tried to pull away but it only made me grip tighter.
“Malaya!” There it was again, my name, like a beam of light through the void. “Malaya let go,” it was Toshio, his voice carrying the weight of a master pulled me out of the grip of the beast and back to reality. I let Hellion go and cleaned my mouth not wasting a single drop. Hellion dropped back taking a minute to recover. He was going to be fine his wound healed rapidly and there was still some color in his face from his recent feeding. The blood he gave me kicked started healing. With Hellion’s help I popped my shoulder back into place and there was relatively little pain as it healed. Minor cuts and bruises all over my body disappeared in a flash.
“Anytime, unfortunately you still have a hard night ahead of you. I couldn’t give you enough to repair all the damage.” Hellion’s voice was filled with a mixture of sadness and concern. It was a rare combination to hear from the strong man. But he is my sire and that entails a strong bond.
“I think I can take care of that,” Toshio chimed in. Both Hellion and I looked up at him in disbelief. It was rare for a master to offer his blood to anyone. For him to make an offer like that to a lower level vamp that wasn’t even under his direct control and with other available donors near by it was unthinkable. I didn’t dare question such a gift. I sank my fangs into his prostrate wrist and drank. Waves of overwhelming power washed through me. The warmth of him filled the farthest corners of my being and so did a part of his energy. I got a glimpse of the universe through his eyes. It was mind blowing and to much for my limited form to handle in its weakened state. My body spasm out of control, my head popped back and the darkness took me.
Unconscious my existence was a swirling vortex brilliant colors and euphoria. Delusional I flew into pockets of power and contentment. Little twitches of pain shot across my awareness as bones and organs repaired, skin regenerated. My mind slowly sifted the new information Toshio supplied me. New instincts overrode old and a new talent was explored. The ability to read auras was reserved for those more powerful than me until now. Even unconscious I could see the warm red and greens of Hellion and the dark blue of Toshio, Mamoru, and Tegean; the three master vampires present. The animalistic auras of Tariq and Cala, master shifters; glowed a rich golden color. It was concept shifting to see their essence laid out so naked before me. There is a fine line between hunters and masters and with Toshio’s gift allowed me to cross it. The question is why? Then memories came flooding back. I returned to the point where this all started.
It was around three months ago when I took four potential hunters on a little field trip. I wanted to show them up close and personal where the hunter tradition began;
A thousand years ago one particular bad ass vampire decided being a vampire didn’t give him enough power. His solution was to drink as much blood from other immortals to enhance his abilities.
This guy, whose name has been stricken for the history of the immortals, was responsible for more of the immortal community than any one all the other scourges combined. Due to his massive consumption of were blood during the height of their change he began to mutate. His nails and fangs became grossly enlarged. His body became hard as stone and his need to feed lessened. His senses were extraordinarily attuned to the world around him, his strength increased seven fold and his gained amazing regenerative abilities. The council could not continue to let his killing spree continue so the masters went after him. At that time there were eight vampire masters, ten were’s and five mages. The combined might of the council was unable to take him down and three vampires and six weres lost their lives in the week long struggle. It was not until a mage named Kenyon, a master on the council, found some obscure dark magic spell and defeated The Danger at the cost of his own life. Unfortunately he wasn’t completely destroyed but his body was too damaged to sustain his immense powers. So the other mages managed to lock what was left of him in a vault buried under the remains of Lazarus, the oldest most influential mage ever known. The power in his ashes keeps the restless sprit of The Danger contained. After that the interspecies group of hunters was created to hunt down those who threaten the immortal community. The legend is that whoever manages to absorb the spirit of The Danger will become a true immortal and live till the end of days.
Being an eternal skeptic I didn’t put much stock in the entire story but it was still important for the potential hunters to see for themselves the problems power lust can create. So I escorted the four newbies to the tomb. It was a massive building but surprisingly simplistic, and unadorned. The building was simple white marble with a few Aramaic symbols carved on the walls as bordering. The building was separated into two rooms with high ceilings. The first room was lightly carpeted with a rich purple, soft carpet . There were several cushions spread out on the floor centered around a raised dais which had candles, flickering in the slight breeze, and small trinkets scattered all over it. This room was an offering room. It was set up so pilgrims could come, pray, and give their offerings to the great mage. Some of them hoped his spirit would bless them, or heal what ever ailed them. Whether what remained of him was able to do that was a topic of debate.
The inner room was blocked, off limits to the common traveler except on certain days. But being a prominent member of the underground society my group had free reign of the place. The room of course was centered on Lazarus’s tomb. It was a simple red oak box that held his ashes. When powerful mages die it only takes about a week for the heat from the escaping energy to reduce their bodies to ashes. But the process only affects the body so they are placed in coffins and even after they became ashes are left there because sometimes part of their spirit can be trapped in the box and if you remove them it will tear them apart giving no hope of passing on. So his ashes remained there resting peacefully in the box. While his essence has moved on, a great deal of his extraordinary power remained in the place of his burial. That was what was keeping the danger contained. He was trapped in a small enchanted box in a vault buried beneath Lazarus’s tomb. There his disembodied spirit could not escape.
The room was white marble with a black and grey marbled floor. Acting as tour guide I gestured for them to spread themselves along the front edge of the coffin as I positioned myself in front of them.
“This of course is the resting place for Lazarus. As you can feel a considerable amount of his energy remains in this place. And for those of you who are psychically inclined can you tell where his consciousness is gathered?” there was silence as two of the group intently search for any sign of intelligence in the static energy surrounding us.
“I can’t find him.’
“Me either. Is he able to hide from us?”
“No that’s not why you can’t sense him. His consciousness has passed on but there was so much energy inside him that there was still a great amount left grounded to his remains even after he left. I just wanted to see who was paying attention. Remember that just because there is a large amount of energy doesn’t mean there is a guiding force behind it.”
“Could some one drain some of his energy?”
“It takes very specialized skills to just take in a little energy from a condense cloud like this with nothing fighting you. And if you try to take all of it in you will overload and be completely over run by the power and in a very short time burn out. That is one of the reasons no one has tried to do that here.
Of course you all know the stories of Lazarus and his infamous grave buddy. It is important to respect both men but for different reasons. Lazarus reminds us to use our powers for good and respect the boundary between humans and immortals. For a vampire that’s less of a problem because most of us view humans as no more than food or interesting things to study. But for those of you who have the ability to blend in with mainstream society more easily do forget that you are not one of them. As for the danger’s story it should be remembered to scare you into not being an egomaniacal, power crazed twit.” The students nodded as they quietly reflect on the importance of each story. Now if you are prepared I will open up the vault so you can see the danger’s tomb. Be warned that there is intense anger and hatred. Also at first he might try to get a grip on you, it will feel like pressure inside your head but don’t be alarmed his attempts are harmless. Just keep relaxed.”
“Why would we need to see the vault?” Cavern asked clearly perturbed by the idea.
“I have given this tour many times and I think it helps students to get a feel for just how corrupted this once very prominent vamp became if the feel his essence directly. It helps to keep the lesson fresh in your mind no matter what.”
“You make it seem like anyone of us can go rogue and become just like him. If we were that on the edge we wouldn’t have made it this far in Hunter training.”
“Dear Cavern with every advance in power come an even higher risk of the darkness taking hold. Once you become a hunter you will have gained in power and have been exposed to amazing new aspects of life. You will come to realize how easy it is to cross that very thin line. This is why I let you know, in the beginning, what can happen if you do, so you will remember every step of the way and avoid some dangerous situations. “
“This is not a good idea.”
“Whatever." I pushed the manual release on Lazarus’s tomb. It slid away revealing a small box shape hole cut into the floor beneath. There was a small, hard wood black box that had the same type of Aramaic writing scrawled on it. That box contained the remains of the danger safely confined with a little ancient magic and the powers of an ancient mage. The group knelt to get a closer look. With the close proximity I could feel the press of evil inside my head. It was pouring dark thoughts into my head. The desire to open the box popped into my head as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
“He is real active today so keep your guard up.” It was a time of quite reflection as we kept an eye on the malice surrounding us. Without warning Alandia started chanting an ancient spell and dove for the box.
“No!!!!” I managed to catch her before she opened it but it was to late the spell had already loosened the hold this place had on him. The container sprung open with a moan and a blue mist escaped. The shear amount of it was astonishing. There was nothing to do but stare at it in wonderment. The mist darkened and pulled in on it self forming a tight dark blue ball. As it began shape itself I felt like something was being drained from me. Judging by the reactions of my fellows, I wasn’t the only one. I tried to block it but something was snatched from me anyway. The force of it rocked me and I fell to my knees. By the time my eyes refocused I realized the mist was forming the shape of a man.
“Cavern, go warn the pilgrims. Get them out of here.” It took a moment for him to respond because he too was trying to recover from the psychic blow. He grabbed Jayden by the arm and half dragged him out to help. I regained my feet and mentally ran down my options as I watched this massive male form grow in front of me. There was no way I could defeat him with only a group of newbies but it was our responsibility to protect people. Then an idea popped into my head.
“Alandia reverse the spell. NOW!” She had to remember what it was but when she did the Aramaic words filled the room. The disjointed form wavered and widened. There was a pop of dark energy but this time I was ready and managed to absorb the impact without damage. The Danger once again started to reform this time he pulled with him some of the energy attributed to Lazarus. A massive outline of lean muscle formed right in front of me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The only mage in the group wasn’t powerful enough to counteract the magic and there was no hope for the rest of us summoning enough to help her out. The hopelessness of the situation over took me. It was impossible to make it right.
The darkness slowly slid away and I returned to the real world. I heard voices in the background as I nestled in Hellion’s arms.
She and the others that set him free are the best chance we have of defeating him.” They need to be at their most powerful. They are our best chance to send him back where he belongs.
“Why is that?” I asked interjecting myself into their heated conversation.
Toshio took a minute to gather his thoughts and regain his calm. “When you five opened his prison and he was able to regain corporeal form there was an exchange of energies. He had to drain part of you and the others to replenish what he lost over the centuries and consequently a small piece of him was released and absorbed by all of you. Due to this interaction the five of you are the most dangerous to him because you have the ability to control and imitate his powers.”
“But I haven’t gained new abilities from him. He is way more powerful than me and the others.”
“Using the power takes practice and concentration. They won’t just suddenly come to you. It will be difficult for you to activate and control but that still makes you our best chance.” Cala said.
“That would be why most of his attacks have been centered on the five of you.”
“And why we asked only one of you to venture away from your coven’s this evening.”
“Now wait, you’re saying I had the ability to destroy this loon the whole time.”
“Yes,” Toshio stated plainly
“That is ridiculous; he has almost killed me three times. I was saved mostly because he was just playing with me. If we are that dangerous to him why didn’t he just finish us off?”
“You’re a hunter if you were trapped for several centuries wouldn’t you want to have a little fun and make your first kill worth the wait?” I looked at Hellion intensely, he was right but this was the first time such sadistic tactics were used on me. I couldn’t decide whether the similarities between us made me feel better or worse.
“Even with his powers how are they supposed to take this guy out? Everything
we’ve thrown at him so far has barely made a dent. He’s near indestructible.”
“We must do what was done before. Returning him to a spiritual plane and trapping him back in his tomb is the only way to eliminate him as a threat and the only way to accomplish that is to strip him of his regeneration ability.”
“He can’t just be vanquished like so many before him?”
“Cala it is not that easy his sprit is imbued with to much dark energy. There is no rest for him he can only be stripped of a body and his essence ensnared in one place.” I looked at Hellion hoping he could make sense of all this. The only thing I was hearing was that in order to end The Danger I would have to put myself in harms way again. While I’ve always wanted a soldier’s end this wasn’t exactly what I had planed.
“What makes you so sure using his power against him will be enough to kill him, enough to get rid of him ?”
“I’m not sure of anything anymore. It remains the best plan we have at the moment. If you have something better please tell me I would love to be enlightened. This tactic has worked before it will work again.”
Wrapped in Hellion’s arms and surrounded by Tariq and Cala we flew safely back to the coven house. It was at least two hours before down which gave me plenty of time to talk things over.
“Hellion please tell me you’re staying here tonight.”
“Who else could be trusted to watch over you and protect you from the big bad?”
“I don’t think Michael would be too happy to hear you say that. Don’t you think it wise to not tick off the coven leader?”
“Just because you feel pray to following the way s of the group dose not mean I have to get in line”
“For once in your long life could you act like a normal human being, scratch that, a normal person and go with the flow.”
“Says the sadomasochistic vampire huntress.”
“Such cruel words spoken to someone who will save your life by risking her own. Maybe I’ll just wait until The Danger kills you then I’ll get him.”
“Oh but he is after you not me dearest Malaya so your just out of luck on him killing me before you.”
“Your sarcasm does not amuse me. Any way all jokes aside, before dawn I have to fix things with Cavern. In order to solve this problem we all need to work together.”
“While you do that I’ll fill in the others. I tell Michael how important it is so he won’t feel cheated that you didn’t talk to him yourself.”
“Please for my sake take it easy on him .” Hellion just gave me a nod and took off. There was no way for me to know if he was going to be nice or not. Given his propensity for chaos I bet against it. I had other things to worry about. Cavern Adams the only member of the five fated freaks that set The Danger free, who belongs to a different coven, isn’t exactly on speaking terms with me or the others. Well in movies and there something creep about to happen to a group because they did something and there’s always that one person who tries to warn the others. But of course they do it anyway and that one person gets hurt along with the rest of him. Cavern was that one person and because the rest of us are stupid he’s been hunted by The Danger. Now he spends all of his time in his coven house and has cut off all contact with the rest of us. Even Master Toshio couldn’t get him to break his isolation. Once again as Huntress, leader of the group, to promote unity I would be the one to negotiate a peaceful resolution or beat the uncooperative into submission. My only hope at a peaceful reunion is that the possibility of reprieve from danger will get him to take my call. I got to my room, pulled of my knee high boots and the strips of cloth that used to be a blood red tank and my empty scabbard. I made myself comfortable on my plush black covers and tried desperately to relax. Every inch of my body felt knotted up. It was a miracle that I have the ability to sit . My body was on sensory overload. I stretched like a cat and grabbed the phone. It seemed like and eternity before anyone picked up.
“Cavern, please don’t hang up.” There was a pause. The silence dragged on forever.
“What do you want?”
“I know the masters explained things to you. For us to have any hope of a chance we have to work together and that means you have to get over your anger and join the team.”
“Its five against one I think you can handle it.”
“Cavern don’t fuck with me, this is a life and death thing. To many of us have lived to long to have it all snatched away by this maniac. This guy is relentless beyond anything I have ever encountered before. There is no satisfying his need for destruction. Toshio and the others didn’t press you because they wanted to give us a chance to reach a peaceful resolution before we go into battle. But with this task will be near impossible without you it doesn’t stand a chance. This guy has slaughtered more vampires and other immortals than all the other scourges our type has ever faced combined. I apologize once more for your involvement in this, sense you are connected; it is your responsibility to help take this guy out. This is a problem for the whole community surprisingly enough it’s one of the few times he is more of a danger to he many preternatural creatures of this world and less to the human population. According to the council the danger won’t drink human blood unless he is in dire need of easy prey, because he believes it will weaken him. “Trust me I understand your fear but the only way to get rid of it is to get rid of him. If we go into battle without you and get defeated who is going to protect you then?”
“Don’t you dare lecture me on duty. It was your duty to keep us all safe but you failed and now you’re pleading for me to step up and help correct your mistake.”
“It’s no longer about just you and me Cavern don’t you see that?”
“Why should I use the rest of my time here fighting a battle I can not win?”
“Why do you continue to argue with me on some thing you already know you must do. There is no middle grown here Cavern either you help in the fight against him or you aid in the destruct of all immortals.”
“All I want is peace.”
“Cavern if you wanted peace you should have tried to become a Hunter and most of all you should not be a vampire.”
“That last bit I had no control over.”
“Only you control what you do now and if you continue to live you take of the responsibility of that life.
“Send me an escort I’ll be ready by the end of the day.”
“I will goodbye.” I didn’t say thank you because that would have made it seem like he was doing it for me and he wasn’t. The one thing Cavern had to do was fulfill his responsibilities. He couldn’t be moved by any mainstream sense of duty or honor or petty things like greed and jealousy but he would own up to any responsibility the universe laid on him. Now it was time to gather the rest of the team. Luckily the rest of them don’t hate me nearly as much as he does. I started making calls.
“Hey May time to wake up.” I groaned and rolled over hitting my head on an irregular shaped object which I was really hoping wasn’t some odd part of Hellion’s body. Hellion, when did he get here the last thing I remember is talking to some of my hunters trying to get well armed escorts for the members of my team not currently living inside the coven.
“Hellion what the hell!”
“You fell asleep with the phone still attached to your face. And I think you just rolled over on my scabbard. I’m not sure how that got over there. Have I ever told you, you sleep weird?”
“Yes several times in fact. That does negate the fact that you’re an ass and this is my bed if you have a problem with the way I sleep leave.”
“I was just trying …”
“Leave, there is the door.”
“I’m not impressed with your feigned indignation.”
“Whatever, why …”
“Right. Move you’re in my way.” I managed to climb over Hellion and plant my feet firmly on the ground with some grace. Then I stood there very proud of myself and I found myself drowning in my lust for him. But there was no time for that, there was a meeting to prepare for. I took one last hard look at him then headed for the shower.
This time they came to me. Even though it was a serious situation it was hard not to let the attention go to my head. I didn’t realize I was so vain and attention starved. It was shocking how many hidden traits had come out during this crisis. I also never fully understood how very protective I felt of Hellion. He had always been the one helping me out or covering my back. It was hard for me to see that I’ve saved him as many times as he has protected to me. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good you’ve done when you do it automatically. I looked out over the people gathered and realized most of them were counting on me to come up with a plan and save the day. That position was a large departure from my usual duties. I’ve been in charge before. But that was in the position of teacher. On a serious hunting I go solo or have a partner. An attack on this large a scale was pushing my capabilities to the edge. Then there is the feel of this hunt. It most cases when I go after someone I have the upper hand. This time I’m the one that has the mentality of the hunted. It’s an unnerving feeling. Something I’m not used to. My confidence was really taking a beating. In other circumstances my might have been excited by that but this time I was just disturbed by it. And if I felt this way I could only imagine what the trainees where feeling. This was hopeless and we where all going to die. Walking down the hallway I pause before descending the steps leading into the grand meeting hall. The massive blue blackout curtains paper the dark walls. For the first time the drab colors papering the walls felt overly appropriate. The color theme in this room was, as where many other rooms in the coven house, the bruise palette. In this case it was just dark blues and black. That’s exactly how my heart felt, bruised from the inside out. I know vampires are creatures of the night but would it kill them to paint a wall crème or light green. Shoot even light blue would be better than all the depressing dark colors. Though I had no room to complain my wardrobe contained mostly the colors of the grave, black and grey. Depressed personality is as depressed personality does. At least thirty people are gathered, separated into smaller groups, either sitting at one of the four tables or standing under the curtains. Their auras glowed like little suns. It was a little overwhelming and would continue to be until I got control over the new powers bestowed upon me by Toshio. I closed my eyes and shut that power off completely. I needed to focus and trying to work a new ability would aid in that endeavor. So I cut myself off from the psychic realm and focused on what was being discussed. I stood near the middle and did a total three sixty, taking in every face and mood. I took a deep breath knowing that this was it. This meeting would officially start the war between him and us. There was no telling what an increase in violence toward him would do. It was no longer avoiding him at all cost. Now it was, gather together and hunt him down. Putting him on the defensive was sure to make him more dangerous to the general population. Right now he only searched out a select few and attacked others only when he needed food. Giving the okay to hunt meant every immortal in the area was a potential danger to him and therefore a plausible target. So I was going in there to tell them that they had to risk everything to so they wouldn’t be in even more danger latter. There was little room for joy in this setting. My nerves calmed as much as possible I walked down the steps and I took my place next to Toshio and two other council members and immediately became the center of attention. The hushed murmuring stopped cold. The weight of all those intense eyes on me gave me an odd sense of confidence. I centered myself by staring deeply into Hellion’s eyes. The confidence I saw there for me gave me courage.
Cala began to address the group.
“As you all known the old danger has been inadvertently released. Now we have a plan to get rid of him. This plan involves all of you. Malaya and her team, you know who you are, will be our main attack force. The others of you were summoned here because of your special talents. The council asks that you train Malaya’s team access their new abilities and hone those skills into powerful weapons. Also you’re needed as back up. Michael here has graciously permitted his coven to become your temporary training headquarters. So get used to your current surroundings, you’ll be here for a while.” That was my cue.
“We have arranged quarters for all of you on the lower level and increased security through out. Even those of you currently living here will be rearranged. Don’t worry if have a problem with where you end up we can try and work something out. Nothing is set in stone. All that will be discussed later.”
“You all understand how important and dangerous this is,” Cala continued.”… so this has to stay in this room. Once training is completed by sure we will give you warning so you can spread the word to your people for a lock down. For now though remain at a heightened sense of precaution. The last thing we want to do is feed him.”
“People you know what to do so get on it.” There was around three minutes of controlled chaos as people regrouped themselves and awaited further instructions. Leaders departed with the knowledge they gained here tucked away safely until needed. Others lined up in front of Hellion and Michael for sleeping arrangements, and me to be acknowledged. My whole team was there present and accounted for. Alandia, Jayden, Nicco, and even good old Cavern. It always amazes me that people find it easier to come together in times of trouble than in celebration. Still knowing my team faced their responsibilities with integrity was comforting.
Nothing perturbs the undead like adjusting living quarters, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration but they sure put up a fuss. Cold blooded predators can be some of the whiniest beings on earth. You would think we asked them to stake themselves out into the sun. But with Michael looking over our shoulder, the weight of his power brushing across our backs. Things got done in record time, although not quietly. Each team member was placed in quarters in the innermost part of the barracks while trainers were spread along the outside. I was tempted to move myself along the outer barrier, sense they let me oversee the arrangements but Michael and Hellion objected so I placed myself squarely between Cavern and Alandia. I would have to keep my eye on those two the most. Luckily Hellion was given lieutenant status in our coven and he would be with me throughout this. How long Michael and Hellion would play nice was a constant concern but pretty low priority on the list. Michael was the reason Hellion went rogue, or disassociated, since he wasn’t listed as a danger to the community. Hellion has a problem with authority. He is one that likes to break rules just because he can. He doesn’t do any physical damage to others or cross the line but he can definitely irritate ones nerves or push a friendship to the limits. That’s probably one of his most endearing qualities to me. Michael on the other hand has no patience for subordinates that don’t show him respect. Michael is a powerful, intelligent, caring man that deservers respect. He only asks as much of you as he asks of himself. Sometimes that can be a little much because he expects such high level of excellence it can be taxing but he surrounds himself with capable people and requires them to give him their best. Hellion is up to the challenge but he didn’t like the pressure it entailed. He really didn’t like controlling his more destructive instincts. So the two of them fought and Hellion left. I was tempted to follow my love but it wasn’t the place for me. Being a hunter and teaching potentials is my dream job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Hellion wasn’t hurt by my decision; he understood why I did it. But there was a period of two weeks where we didn’t speak. He needed time to readjust to a life outside the structure of the coven. He spent thirty-five years in the coven, which isn’t much at all to a two hundred year old vampire. When he was first turned coven life was less important. Hellion spent his first fifty years under the slight supervision of his sire. Then he spent time training under the mages, developing some latent abilities he discovered after crossing over. It wasn’t until the knowledge of vampire kind became proven public fact that coven life became the preferred lifestyle of the modern vamp. It was encourage by the council to keep track and keep all inline and presentable to the public. It was after he struggled with the structure of that life that Hellion made me. In that way I was a failure because my existence failed to help him handle the life of the coven. Hellion still remained an upstanding part of the community and was welcome to the raven coven always, with the understanding that he behave himself. My close relationship with him was part of the reason I have failed to sire any children as of yet. Not to mention the fact that hunting tends to isolate me therefore I rarely get the opportunity to make a strong enough connection to someone to feel like they would be worthy of joining the community. And training potentials puts enough strain on my patience. Showing a fledgling the ropes would push me over the edge. Speaking of edge it was time for me meet up with the training headmaster. There was a mage on the edge. Aden Smith was a strong power from birth. His parents didn’t understand his gifts but his grandfather did. His parents let granddad take over raising the boy, which they thought was the best option. Unfortunately Aden took it as abandonment. So Aden has a bitter view on the world and is angered by cheerfulness. If he wasn’t so unstable and underhanded with his dislike we might have been kindred spirits. But I don’t like people who take out their frustration in an underhanded manner. If you have a problem with someone you should confront that person not snick around behind them spreading rumors or degrading their mental health. The good thing about him is he can leave all that outside the classroom. Teaching is his passion and nothing will corrupt his ethical standards.