Chapter 1 - Samael
I knew we weren’t alone as soon as I reached the broken-down door, and yet I let Aurora walk out into an ambush anyway. I could have taken her upstairs when I sensed their presence, and we would be flying away right now… although, Cassandra could have vampires on her side. I wouldn’t exactly be able to protect Aurora with a sky full of enemies.
I watch with panic as she drops to her knees to comfort Eli. I don’t trust him, and this is all my fault for forgetting that even though Aurora is a hybrid, she has no training. Her emotions get in the way easily, and right now, she is making herself vulnerable.
I’m about to tear her away from Eli when Cassian lets out an arrogant laugh, and a growl escapes me. He looks at her like she belongs to him; not in a sexual way, but like she is his property, nothing but a collectible to add to his shelf, and it sickens me.
I move in front of him, blocking his view of Aurora, but he just stands there, with his hands behind his back and a wide grin on his face. I realize too late that I let myself get distracted by Cassian when I hear Aurora’s surprised intake of breath.
I spin around to see her claws slash at Eli. Blood spurts out and he falls to the ground holding his face and screaming in pain. I’m about to finish him off, when I hear my name; it’s as quiet as the light breeze, but I hear it; she calls for me and her voice tears my heart into pieces. I can hear how afraid she is, and I rush to her side.
“Aurora,” I shake her lightly. “Aurora!” Harder this time, but she’s not there. I can’t even feel Danika. I press my forehead to hers, praying to Nyx that she will wake up, but she remains motionless.
Rising to my feet, I advance slowly on Cassian, who looks around nervously “What did you do to her?” I growl angrily.
Cassian’s eyes keep darting to the far side of the manor as if he is waiting for someone else to show up. I take another step towards him, forcing his eyes back on me, “I will kill you Cassian, if you don’t tell me what the fuck he injected her with!”
He gulps nervously, his eyes roaming around frantically, and I assume he is waiting for Cassandra, but she doesn’t seem to want to help at the moment. The dark blades wielded by Cassian’s men catch my attention, and I realize they are the void weapons Cyreus and Adelaide talked about.
I make a snap decision to get those weapons back to Adelaide; I check on Aurora who is still laying on the ground behind me, then glare down at Eli who is sobbing from both pain and grief; I’ll leave him for last.
Using a measured amount of force, I punch Cassian across the face, knocking him to the ground, where he holds his cheek and moans. “Stay down or die.” I order him, knowing his cowardly little self would never even attempt to step in to save his men.
He just sneers up at me through watery eyes but stays where he is. His men look around at each other with fear plastered all over their faces as I step closer.
“Did he tell you those weapons in your hands could beat me?” I ask them, studying the long, dark blades. None of them answer; a few tighten their grips on their swords and hold their position, but most take a shaky step back, eyes looking pleadingly at their emperor who remains on the ground holding his face.
I tilt my head, staring at the guard closest to me; too young. He looks like a kid, but I can’t care about that right now. I need to take those weapons and get Aurora out of here.
“Let’s test them out shall we?” Without any further warning, I charge at the kid, breaking his neck quickly, and letting his body fall to the ground with a thud.
The rest of the two dozen men watch him fall with terror and despair in their eyes; he was probably a good kid, but now he’s dead at my feet and the others are charging at me with raised weapons. I snap four necks in quick succession before one of the men is finally able to connect his blade with my skin; he slices a long, deep gash across my upper arm. Blood immediately pours from the wound, and I expect it to heal as usual, but it doesn’t. It continues bleeding and… it fucking burns.
The men have all frozen in place, watching my reaction eagerly. I was going easy on them but fuck this. I let the blood lust that lurks beneath the surface break free; my eyes turn red, my wings burst from my shoulder blades, stretching out and shaking the feathers, splattering the men with my blood. I extend my claws, and flash my fangs menacingly, “Let’s see what those weapons can do?” I taunt, my voice deep and rough with the bloodlust.
I let them make the first move, but in less than thirty seconds they are all dead on the ground. I dodge their blades easily, using my speed to get around them and snap necks, rip out hearts, and tear into flesh with my fangs, draining them of their blood; surely, given the circumstances, Aurora wouldn’t mind.
When I turn around, Cassian is cautiously getting to his feet, looking at me like he’s never really seen me before, because he hasn’t. Not like this anyway. I think the years of having a business-like relationship with him have given him a false sense of what I really am.
I ignore him, however and run straight to Eli, yanking him up by the sleeve of his bloody shirt, I punch him in the face, “She saved your fucking baby, and you sold her out!” My fist collides with the side of his head for the second time and his eyes go unfocused. I raise my arm again, but a loud crack from up above distracts me; the manor is burning down around us, flames spreading from room to room.
I laugh like a maniac, looking back down at Eli, “where’s Elizabeth?” I ask him through gritted teeth; I know Aurora would want to make sure she is alright.
He barely seems lucid, but I can make out his slurred speech “a-at he-e-er sis-sisters”
I nod to let him know I understood. “At this point Eli,” I put my hands on either side of his head, “this is a mercy kill.”
He squeezes his eyes shut, nodding in defeat, tears streaming down his face. I sigh heavily, “go be with Sarah.” As soon as I say her name, his face relaxes completely, and I snap his neck.
I check on Aurora again, I can hear her heartbeat, but I can’t feel her or Danika at all. Standing up, I face Cassian, “I’m guessing she was injected with a mixture of wolfsbane and aconite, but how the fuck did you get your hands on enough aconite to take out a witch like Aurora?”
Cassian opens his mouth, but a light, feminine voice answers, “I gave it to him.”
I instinctually take a step closer to Aurora and turn to face the two women walking towards us. One makes her way to Cassian, smiling happily at him, while the other comes closer to me, staring down at Aurora.
“Where the hell have you been?” Cassian screeches at the witch by his side.
Her bright blue eyes narrow, “I had to see what my weapons could do against the vampire king,” she snaps at him. Sending me an annoyed glare, she sighs, “it looks like they need some improvements.”
I stare down at my arm, at the only injury Cassian’s men were able to inflict on me; it still burns slightly, but it’s finally starting to heal.
“You said the weapons would make them stronger!” Cassian hisses at her.
The witch, who I am assuming is Cassandra, trails the tips of her fingers along his jawline, “do you know how much strength it takes for a human to break through a vampire’s skin? The blades do make them stronger, it’s not my fault your men are cowards.”
She sighs again, staring at me like I’m some minor nuisance, “but, the blades should also keep him from healing… which is my fault. Whatever, it doesn’t matter now, I have my hybrid.”
“What about our deal!”
“Like the fuck you do!”
Cassian and I both react at the same time; he pulls away from Cassandra, outraged, while I move closer to Aurora, hovering over her protectively.
Cassandra giggles, coaxing Cassian back to her side with a twirl of her finger, “Cassie, darling, my weapons won’t be able to kill him. You’ll die trying, and I just couldn’t live with myself if that happened.” She pouts at him, and he falls for her obvious lie.
I can see right through her; she doesn’t give a shit about him, but he seems completely infatuated by her, and I realize Aurora was right; they probably are fucking. But she is lying to him, and I don’t understand how he can’t see it.
She pulls him in for a kiss, and I glance at the other witch, who is still staring down at Aurora with mild curiosity. I do a double take as I notice the stark similarities between them; they have the same black curly hair, though this woman does not have the white streak like Aurora does, they have the same face shape, and the same nose, they even hold themselves in the same way; like they’re confident, and even a little cocky, but reluctant to show it.
“Gwendolyn?” I whisper, and she finally looks up from Aurora. I can’t help the gasp that escapes me; her eyes, which Aurora described as the ‘most beautiful blue she’d ever seen’, are intensely black, and not just like Adelaide’s where her irises are black; Gwendolyn’s eyes are completely taken over by the void, as if it’s seeped from her iris’s into the whites of her eyes, making her look more like a demon from the underworld.
“Don’t pay any attention to him, Gwennie, take the girl and let’s go!” Cassandra orders her.
I actually laugh, the sound getting lost in the roaring fire behind us. I crouch over Aurora, my wings shielding her from view, and bare my fangs at her mother. “You think you can just take my queen from me? You’re out of your damn mind if you think I won’t kill you if you try.”
“You’ll be too busy fighting for your life to stop us,” Cassandra cackles madly, and claps her hands three times, looking up at the sky. I follow her gaze, staring up at the dozens of vampires plummeting to the ground.
“I promised them you’d be weakened and easy to kill, but just between us,” she lowers her voice, “they’re just a means to distract you… collateral damage, if you will.”
I shake my head at her in disbelief, “you won’t take her.”
She laughs shrilly, “you can’t stop us. You may be powerful, but even a king can be outnumbered.”
At that moment, the vampires begin to land around us, advancing on me with smirks on their faces. I refuse to move away from Aurora, and through the wall of vampires coming toward me, I see Cassandra open a portal of swirling waves, and shove Cassian through it.
In my peripheral, I notice Gwendolyn inching closer to me, still looking at Aurora intently. My first instinct is to take her out; she might be Aurora’s mother, but right now she’s also her greatest threat.
I turn to face Gwendolyn, who smirks at me as the first vampire reaches me. He grabs my shoulder in an attempt to pull me back from her, and I stare down at the clawed hand.
Turning my head back, I glare at him, his blood-crazed eyes wide with eagerness. “Your king is disappointed,” I growl, looking around at the vampires; the ones who left Dema Mortem and became nomads, or blood obsessed monsters, and are now just serving a different master.
“Vampires taking orders from a witch, and not even a coven mother,” I tut, shaking my head in disapproval. A few of them raise their eyebrows at my words. Of course, Cassandra probably told them she is a coven mother, though her lie is not enough to get them to back down. Whatever she promised them must’ve been worth it. Too bad they won’t live to see it.
The hand gripping my shoulder tightens, the claws digging into my skin. I grab it, taking the vampire by surprise, and lean forward, using the momentum to flip him over me and slam him onto the ground at my feet. His eagerness turns to fear in an instant, and I laugh, turning around to face the others, while keeping as close to Aurora as possible.
The manor starts to crumble behind us, the heat from the blazing fire makes the early evening air stuffy and hot; Gwendolyn is watching me through the vampires, waiting for me to be distracted enough so she can take Aurora… I can’t let that happen, but I also don’t see a way to handle all of them without letting it happen.
“Whatever that witch told you is a lie. You won’t be able to kill me, and you will die painfully if you try. However, surrender to me now, and I will allow you to live. Walk away and I will forget this ever happened. But if you stay,” I chuckle darkly, “if you are the reason my queen gets taken from me, I promise you will beg for death.”
My words hang in the air like the smoke billowing towards us, loud and dangerous, but none of them move. I look down at Aurora one last time; no matter what happens, I have to get her out of here.
I extend my arms out in a friendly gesture, “well, by all means, take your best shot.”
Three vampires rush me, two of them grab a hold of my arms pulling them behind my back, while the other punches me across the face. I spit out a mouthful of blood and laugh, “that was pathetic.”
I aim a quick side kick to the shin of the vampire on my left, breaking the bone clean in half, he cries out in pain, and falls to the ground. I pull the one holding my right arm in close, sinking my fangs into his neck and tearing through his flesh. The vampire in front of me pulls his fist back for another punch, which I dodge easily, then wrap my arm around his torso and pull up until I hear the snap of his back breaking.
It took all of three seconds to take them out, but it was enough to allow Gwendolyn to get closer, flanked by three more vampires, baring their fangs at me. The rest of them form a tight circle around us, with Aurora’s unconscious body in the middle.
Cassandra hovers over next to her portal, watching the scene unfold with excitement in her bright blue eyes. I’m in a standoff of sorts; desperate to protect my girl, but forced to leave her vulnerable, while I fight off at least three dozen vampires.
I know it will be too easy to kill them, but I also know that once they’re all dead, Aurora will be gone. Bending down, I place a kiss on her forehead and move my lips to her ear, “I’m so sorry I let this happen, my love. I promise I won’t rest until you’re safe.”
I pick up a rock from the ground and throw it straight at Gwendolyn; it’s a blur as it speeds through the air, aiming right for her heart. One of the vampires by her side puts himself in front of her just in time, and the rock goes straight through him. It hits Gwendolyn, bouncing off her chest painlessly, and the vampire who took the hit for her falls to the ground with a hole in his chest, which slowly starts to heal.
Gwendolyn narrows her black eyes at me and charges at Aurora, while at the same time four more vampires break free from the circle and rush me; three of them hold my arms back and the other puts his hands on either side of my head and twists with all his strength. But it’s not enough; I stare him down as he attempts to break my neck. Ripping my arms free from the vampires behind me, I easily snap his neck instead; his hands slip from my head, and he falls to the ground with a thud.
I turn around, facing the other three; In one fluid motion, I kick the one in the middle, sending him flying into the burning manor, and tear the hearts from the chests of the other two. Then I barrel through the rest of the advancing vampires toward Gwendolyn, who is at Aurora’s side, and punch her across the face.
It barely causes her to stumble. I might not have used my full strength or speed to hit her, but that still should have taken her down. I pull my fist back to punch her again, but my arm is stopped by multiple clawed hands pulling me away from her.
I’m stronger than all of them combined, but it still takes a moment to get myself free; I slash the claws on my free hand around wildly, causing blood to spurt from the ones I manage to hit.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Gwendolyn waving her hands over Aurora’s body, which begins to float along at her side, following her towards Cassandra’s portal.
I let out a roar, extending my wings, which are powerful enough to force the vampires around me to scatter, and chase after Gwendolyn. There are two vampires standing with Cassandra, guarding her portal; one of them charges at me, but I catch him by his throat and squeeze; my claws tear into his flesh and his head fully detaches from his body.
The other vampire’s eyes widen in fear, and he sprints through the portal, Cassandra yells after him in anger, but he’s already gone. The rest of the vampires catch up to us, and I find myself fighting desperately, not even caring if I kill them or not, just causing enough damage to slow them down. Gwendolyn has reached Cassandra; she didn’t run, she didn’t even once seem worried as she casually made her way to the portal. She acts as if I’m no threat to her at all.
Aurora still floats by her side, and she and Cassandra pause to look back, watching me fight through the dwindling number of vampires attacking me.
“I WILL KILL YOU BOTH!” I roar at them, impaling a vampire on my clawed hand, and kicking him to the ground. “Do you hear me, Cassandra? You will beg me for mercy!” My fist punches another vampire across the face with so much speed, his head does a full spin, his neck cracking loudly. Another launches himself in the air; before he can land in front of me, I grab a hold of one of his wings and, using his own momentum, I swing him directly into the roaring fire. I sink my fangs into the throat of the nearest vampire, ripping into him and tearing off a chunk of his flesh. Blood pours from my mouth, and I spit some onto the ground. Glancing up, I watch in horror as Cassandra shoves Gwendolyn and Aurora through her portal.
My rage reaches a crescendo, my wings extend, and I fly out of reach of the remaining vampires, and barrel toward Cassandra; she raises her hands shooting water from her palms; it turns to ice when it hits me, freezing me in midair.
She smirks up at me, “I hope you enjoyed your time with her, because at dawn, I will drain her of all her blood. She will be nothing but a power source for me, and once I have Lothar’s kingdom, Cassian and I will come for yours.” She laughs, “you really should have just agreed to ally with me, we could have come to some agreement over Aurora, but now you’ll never see her again.”
Fury consumes my mind, and I use my wings to break free; they are extremely powerful, and the ice begins to crack easily.
Cassandra’s eyes widen, “How-?” She shakes her head, shoots me a glare, and disappears through her portal of roaring waves.
I break through the ice and fall to the ground, not even bothering to catch myself. The remaining vampires circle me, cracking their necks, stretching their fingers, and some even pick up the blades that were wielded by Cassian’s men.
“I gave you a chance.” My voice is hoarse, and anguished, “and now, because of you fucking traitors, my queen is gone.” The word goes through my head over and over again. Gone… she’s fucking gone.
I kill them all swiftly, not even caring to torture them first, then stand amongst the sea of human and vampire bodies, covered in blood and shaking with pure rage and adrenaline. I have no idea where Cassandra took her, I don’t understand how Gwendolyn was so strong, and now I know Aurora was right; Cassandra promised Cassian me.
I pick up one of the black swords, and as soon as I touch it, I can feel its corruption seeping through me. It fills me with power, similar to how Aurora’s blood makes me feel, but even more volatile. Wrapping my shirt around the hilts, I take two swords with me, leaving the rest scattered around the bloody scene.
I don’t waste another moment, extending my wings, I take off into the sky, flying through the smoke from the burning manor and into the clouds.
I don’t even bother concealing myself from the humans, I fly straight to the front door of my safe house, and speed into the kitchen where everyone is sitting around the table, laughing, and drinking.
The room goes silent when I appear, dripping blood, and shaking with unrestrained rage.
Kieran stands up quickly, “My king, what happened? Where is Queen Aurora?”
“We have to leave, now.”
Adrian and Dimitri stare at me stupidly, and Inez’s eyes are wide as she glances at the weapons in my hand. I throw them onto the table, where they glint ominously in the dim candlelight, “we were ambushed by Cassian and his men, wielding those weapons.”
Dimitri reaches his hand out, “Don’t touch them!” I hiss at him, “they are infused with void magic.”
“Samael what happened?” Adrian stares at the deadly weapons, concern etched between his eyes.
“Yeah, boss, where’s Aurora?” Dimitri asks, looking past me into the hallway.
I grit my teeth, and my wings twitch impatiently, “Cassandra and Gwendolyn took her. Which is why we have to leave, I need to get back to Adelaide, she should be able to find them.”
None of them move, they all stare at me in shock. “NOW!” I roar. Adrian and Dimitri leave immediately, speeding out the way I came in; Kieran scoops up Inez, who squeals in surprise, and follows behind them.
I pick up the weapons off the table, wrapping them in my shirt again, and speed out of the house, soaring into the sky and passing the others in a blur.
Even flying at my top speed, it takes too long to get back to Solana’s. I’ve been flying for hours, and I’m so far ahead of the others, I can’t see any sign of them when I look back. I don’t wait for them though; as soon as I reach The City of Eternal Flame, I go straight to the portal room, where a frazzled Tillie tries to get me to wait for her to summon Solana before opening me a portal to Dema Mortem.
I let her, because Solana could possibly know where Cassandra and Gwendolyn might hide Aurora; she’s known them both since childhood, she will be a useful ally in getting her back.
Tillie leads Solana through a portal on my left, and I immediately inform her of what happened. She doesn’t hesitate, she waves her hands, opening a portal and insists on accompanying me back to my castle. She also instructs Tillie to send along the guys and Inez when they arrive.
We step through the portal, exiting into my throne room where Adelaide, Seth, Emmeline, and around half a dozen of my guards are waiting for us. Good. That means Adelaide already knows and is prepared to go get Aurora back.
“Adelaide,” I breathe out a sigh of relief, “we don’t have any time to lose, tell me what you know, what did you see?”
Adelaide looks at me wearily, “all I know is that she will be back by tomorrow afternoon.”
I pause, confused, “so, you don’t know what happened?”
“No,” she gestures to the table behind my throne, “why don’t you tell me?”
I narrow my eyes at her, “we have to go! I’m not leaving Aurora in the hands of that bitch until tomorrow.”
“Samael, I saw it, she will return, and she will need you here when she does. Please don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.” Her words are calm, but they set me off.
“You want me to just sit around while my queen is out there about to have her blood drained!” I sneer at her, “no fucking chance Adelaide. Tell me what else you saw.”
She sighs, and I sense my guards move closer. “I saw exactly this; you, unable to accept that Aurora can take care of herself and come back to you.”
“This isn’t about whether I think she can handle herself or not! I know that she can, but I also refuse to allow those witches any chance to hurt her!” I roar, flipping the table, and slamming it to the floor where it breaks into pieces.
I flinch at Adelaide’s intake of breath, “witches?” she questions with a hint of fear.
“Yes. Cassandra, and Gwendolyn, who is consumed by the void. Adelaide, her eyes are completely black, not just her irises.”
Adelaide’s eyes widen, “I-I didn’t see her… she wasn’t there at all in my visions.”
Another roar escapes me; she can’t see Gwendolyn, so I can’t trust she’s right that Aurora will be back tomorrow. Red hot rage burns through me, “it’s all my fucking fault! I should have taken her and flew away as soon as I saw Cassian.”
I pick up a chair and throw it across the room; it crashes through the window, shattering the glass and plummeting to the ground. At that moment, a portal opens and Adrian, Dimitri, Kieran, and Inez exit, all looking around at the mess of broken furniture.
“About time,” Adelaide huffs. “A little help please?”
I growl at her, “Help with what Adelaide? What the fuck do you think you’re going to do?”
“I won’t be doing anything,” she nods to the bag on the floor next to my throne, “Boys, take one each.”
Kieran passes Adrian and Dimitri syringes from the bag. I laugh darkly, “That much lightsbane won’t have any effect on me Adelaide, you know that.”
“They’re not the only ones with it,” she says, looking at the six guards she’s gathered here; they each hold a syringe in their hands as well.
I stare at her in disbelief, “are you out of your fucking mind?”
“Will you stay here and wait for Aurora to return?”
Just the thought of doing nothing while Aurora is goddess knows where, and I have no idea if she is hurt or scared, enrages me, and my wings twitch threateningly.
“That’s what I thought,” Adelaide says grimly.
For the third time today, I find myself surrounded, only this time, I don’t want to kill any of them. Seth makes his way to my side, clapping me on the back, I nod at him, thankful to at least have his support.
My guards look at me apologetically as they move closer to me, Kieran stays back slightly, while Adrian and Dimitri take a tentative step forward. I shake my head at them, and they both have the decency to look ashamed.
One of my guards, Silas, rushes forward, raising the syringe; I knock him back with the palm of my hand, sending him flying into the wall of bookcases. When I turn around, Seth is in front of me, plunging a syringe of lightsbane directly into my heart.
The effect is instantaneous; pain radiates from the place it was injected, flowing through my body in excruciating waves. I glare at my best friend and snap his neck quickly; he falls to the ground, unconscious, where he’ll stay until the bone heals itself.
“Who else?” I growl. “COME ON! Take your best fucking shot!” My own guards come at me with raised syringes, and I let out a roar of frustration. I don’t want to hurt them, but that doesn’t stop me from breaking the arm of my guard, Leo; he screams in pain. Kieran charges at me, sinking his syringe into my arm, causing more pain to shoot through me, but I keep fighting.
After getting injected twice more, the pain causes me to stumble; giving Adrian and Dimitri an easy opportunity to pierce me with their needles. They inject the lightsbane at the same time, and black dots begin to cloud my vision. I swing my clawed hand around, slashing Adrian across the chest, and grab Dimitri’s shirt, pulling him close with a grunt of pain, I punch him across the face, knocking him to the floor, where he spits out a mouthful of blood.
My preoccupation with the two vampires I thought I could trust, leaves me open for the rest of my guards to plunge their syringes into my flesh. I fall to my knees, the effects finally overtaking my rage and weakening me enough to keep me from fighting back.
Adelaide kneels beside me, placing a hand on my shoulder, “You’d have torn this place apart without the lightsbane, and then you would have gone looking for Aurora, and she would have fought her way back to you, only to find you not here waiting for her when she returned.”
Each of my guards pull out another syringe, and Adelaide lowers her voice to a whisper, “she is going to need you here when she comes back. Trust me Samael, when you wake, she will be here.”
I just glare at her, but I don’t fight when six needles pierce into me at once, and the lightsbane courses through my veins, consuming me in agony like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I feel myself falling, but everything goes dark before I hit the floor.