Hunting Shadows

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Chapter 13

For the first few minutes, there was nothing but the deep rumbling growl of the engine, and the blur of lights outside the car.

“How old are you?”

“About 5,000 years old, give or take a couple of hundred years.”

He shrugged; time had become so meaningless to him that he didn’t really keep track of how old he was.

“Holy shit! Really? Cool.”

He nodded, smiling slightly at her amazement.

“Why were you heading to the museum tonight?”

“I was hoping my contact there could tell me something about the amulet.”

“Who’s your contact?”

“Jack Sterling; he’s a genius with mechanical off-world and ancient technology.

Funny guy, good moral character. He’s helped me figure out things I’ve brought back from my missions. It makes teaching much easier.”

“He was a weapons expert when I knew him. He could make an explosive out of anything. It came in handy in quite a few fights against the Blades.”

She went quiet, watching the darkened city fly by in a blur.

“You’re awfully quiet for someone who’s full of questions.”

She chuckled; an oddly pleasant sound in the silence of the car. He glanced at her, every few seconds her face would come into the light from outside. When she was quiet like this, he could sense the quiet strength she possessed.

“Besides I think I need to have a talk with him, he still owes me either money, or some weapons.”

“What happened between you two?”

She turned slightly towards him, and he could hear the curiosity in her voice.

“He disappeared one night, no trace whatsoever, I always thought he got dragged away and killed,

but I suppose he might have been in trouble and had to go ghost for a few hundred years.”

She watched his profile as they sped through the quiet city. Her apartment was coming up on the next couple of turns. Vaguely she wondered if he would continue talking to her if she invited him in for coffee.

“I see; where did you come from?”

“That’s a long story, you sure you want to hear it?”

“Yea; and besides, my driveways the next one over.”

He pulled into the parking garage under the building; the rumble of the engine distortingly loud in the silence. Every sound echoed, and he followed Eryn through the maze of parked cars and up into the elevator shaft.

The numbers crawled up towards her floor slowly, and glancing over at her, he noted the stiff tension in her body.

“Don’t like elevators too much lass?”

“Nope; not at all. I usually take the stairs.”

She gritted her teeth against the upward pull of the small claustrophobic box. He could hear her heartbeat speed up as it neared her floor; he swallowed the need to bend his head down to her throat.

Once off, she led him to her apartment door, unlocked it and asked if he wanted coffee or something.

“You got anything to drink lass?”

“Ugh… Yea; I got Labatt Blue… is that ok?”

“That’s fine lass.”

He sat on the couch watching her as she brought him a beer, fixed an English breakfast tea, and came to sit down opposite him.

“So, tell me your very long story.”

He laughed at her enthusiasm. Nearly 3 in the morning and she was still up and interested. Most humans would have been in bed sleeping at this point; safe from the monsters that lurked in the shadows of the night.

“I came from Scotland, born from a vampire, and a human mage. My mother was human, and a mage, my father is a vampire. The scars that you see on my face are from an enchanted dagger when the Blades invaded our house to kill my mother… My half-brother, Jack Moss gave me these scars when I fought him while trying to protect my mother. They didn’t kill me; instead they knocked me out and left me alive.”

She shuddered slightly at the cold rage she could hear in his voice.

“That night my mother died in my arms from mortal wounds. While our house was burning down, after that I just had to find my own way. From there that was when I established The Armies of the Night.”

He paused, looking down at his beer for a few seconds before taking a swig. She reached over and patted his arm.

“I’m sorry about what happened to your mom, I know what it’s like to lose a loved one”

The haunted expression in her eyes mirrored his own. He chuckled slightly.

“I’m not done yet… For years after we fought brutal, bloody wars against the Blades… Many good men and women died over those years… After both factions went into remission, I met a nice human girl, fell in love, got married, and had a daughter.”

A smile crossed his face and his lips curled up when he spoke of his daughter. Eryn smiled back, covering her mouth to hide her yawn.

Jayson didn’t seem to notice her eyelids taking longer and longer to open and stay open.

He was still staring into his beer before taking a drink and continuing.

“1959 my daughter was a year old, I was out on a business trip for my company. The Blades found out who my wife was, and found out where we lived. They set fire to our house, my first lieutenant Scotty happened to live down the street from us.”

He paused, took a drink of his beer; his eyes clouded and distant with memories best left forgotten.

“He saved my daughter that night. Unfortunately, they had brutally murdered my wife prior too. She took her last breath in my arms, when I had returned…”

His voice had gone hoarse and throatier. His accent making understanding difficult; he glanced at her. Her head was resting against the cushion, her face slack in peaceful slumber.

“Sleep well, fiery little wildcat.”

And with that he tucked the blanket sitting behind her on the armrest around her shoulders, kissed her lightly on the cheek and left closing the door quietly behind him.

She didn’t remember much from the night before, or why she had woken up on the couch. She stretched, showered and made coffee.

The note on the coffee maker was addressed simply to ’the fiery little wildcat’. She smiled; memory from the night before came rushing back and she felt mildly embarrassed for falling asleep during his story.

Fiery little Wildcat; I hope you don’t mind I put a blanket over you and left… we’ll meet again;

J.S”

The note was written in simple elegant curling script and she chuckled. She texted Jack Sterling about going to see him that night with the amulet she had found in the forest outside the city boundaries. She had a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Sexy Scottish Vampire would be there as well. She still wasn’t sure what to make of him. He was annoying in some ways; with his constant asking to have the amulet. Granted it wasn’t something she wanted to hang onto long.

There was something about it that called to other worldly inhuman beings. It spoke of wars and bloodshed. The amulet was still safely tucked away, buried in her backpack, hidden in the safe in the hide-a-away drawer in the back of her closet.

“It’s good to see you again my dear. So, what have you brought me?”

Jack Stirling stood well over 6 feet, his turquoise eyes gleamed with an inhuman brightness; amplified by the inventor’s goggles he wore which made his eyes seem bigger than what they were. She laughed at his enthusiasm.

“Essentially A magic vampire amulet.”

Jack’s demeanor quickly went from buoyant to weary at the mention of the amulet.

“You shouldn’t be messing around with things you don’t understand.”

“I know; that’s why I have you. I need your help Jack; please?”

She gave him a beseeching stare, and pouted. Jack resisted a moment longer before grunting something about stupidity and turned back to his work table.

“Let me see what you have.”

Grinning she handed over the amulet, which immediately began glowing brighter, a faint hum coming from it. Jack put it on the table, careful not to touch the center. He turned it over studying it and saw all its markings.

“Where did you find this?”

“In an Elvin oak tree, on the outskirts of the city.”

She shrugged as if she found magic off world items every day.

“This is a very powerful object, I don’t recommend wearing it.”

Out of the shadows behind Jack, Jayson walked over to the desk, and stood behind him looking over Jack’s shoulder down at the amulet.

“Hey Jack; good to see you again, here hold this.”

Jayson handed a small handful of bullets to Jack. Who took them and merely transferred them to a container filled with formaldehyde sitting on the end of the work table. Jayson sat down at the desk next to him and greeted Eryn. He would study them later.

“What happened to you?”

She had a look of mild concern and alarm on her face, and was giving his dark clothing intense inspection, no doubt looking for blood stains.

“Oh, I just got shot at, not a big deal. It happens; people think bullets can kill us, but that only slows us down momentarily, and pisses us off.”

Jack looked over at Jayson with his eyebrow cocked; a question and a quick glance at Eryn passed between them. Jayson nodded just slightly, almost imperceptibly.

“It’s good to see you too General. Is the toilet still intact?”

Jayson laughed a deep rumble through the quiet room. “For the most part; I cleaned it this time.” He added at Jack’s glare.

“Well, if you two are quite done I’d like to know about the amulet.”

Both men turned and looked at her a moment before bursting out laughing. She glared her annoyance at them in return.

“The girls got gumption; I can see why you like her.”

Jack laughed and handed the amulet to Jayson. He bent down, but not before she caught the flash of a grin and she flushed. But curiosity got the better of her and within moments she was watching Jayson and the amulet closely. Once he had finished strapping the amulet around his calf, he straightened. Holding a hand out, he beckoned to her, grinning.

“You want to see what the amulet really does?”

Skeptical, and a little worried, she placed her hand in his, gasping when he reached down and tucked his arm under her legs. Effectively sweeping her off her feet in one smooth graceful movement; he grinned at her, and she could see the excitement shining in his good eye. His heart beat steadily under her palm, while she tucked her other arm around his head and shoulders. This close to his face, she could see the orange ring mixing with the liquid turquoise surrounding his pupil; along with the three scars marring his face in clearer detail.

The scent of cigarettes mingled with the faint sickeningly sweet odour of alcohol and Axe body wash along with something else… something distinctly masculine and feral overwhelmed her, and for a moment she thought about leaning further into him and kissing him. She shook her head lightly.

“Should I be worried?”

“Maybe, it’s been a long time since I’ve worn this one.”

He chuckled, a deep rumble in his chest that vibrated through hers.

“Hold on tight, I’m going to show you what real speed is.”

His eyes glinted in the light of workshop, almost glowing with their intensity. And with that he took off, cradling her against his chest as he ran blindingly fast through the city.

The city flew by in a blur of twinkling flashes and momentary darkness. The wind shrieked around them, tugging at their clothes and still Jayson continued to run through the city. She laughed at the exhilaration of it, at the adrenaline singing through her veins and the incredible speed.

He zig-zagged through alleys, and live traffic; dodging cars and trucks and bikes like they were mere stepping stones; at one point, he actually ran up the front of a large delivery truck, across the top and down the back all while still holding onto her tightly. He swiftly and smoothly navigated the city with ease.

He stopped in the park on the other end of the city, glanced around briefly before bolting back towards the museum again.

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