Two days proceeded. A beautiful morning presented itself despite the cloudy skies with a chance of possible rain.
On the mainland arriving in Penrith were six large husky Englishmen; David, Sam, Quintin, Charles, Noah and Richard climbed out of an old rusted orange pickup truck outside the pub where its name was boldly presented in red Neon script:
Nik’s Lair: Pub and Bar
Entering through the doors, Steven and Roberto working behind the bar, glanced up hearing their feet shuffle across the floor. They briefly sniffed the air catching their human scent. They studied their appearance, each dressed similarly with leather jackets and pants, tucked in thick soled buckled boots. Large Hunter knives were tucked away in their sheaths, hidden beneath their leather jackets. The men looked to be a part of a grunge motorcycle gang; ages varying between 30′s-to-40′s. Steven studied Quintin’s persona; darker skin with buzz-cut hair that displayed the word MOTHERF*CKER shaved across the back. He appeared to be the leader of this group.
Sitting at a table far in the corner hidden in the shadows, they examined the menu, as well as their surroundings.
Steven grabbed a pen and paper, walking over to take their orders; whiskey and bowls of stew which was the only meal, among others, that sounded appealing to them.
Once they enjoyed the stew, they pushed their bowls to the ledge of the table.
“What makes you think anyone came this way at all, Quintin?” Sam cautiously commented.
“Because I know they did.” Quintin replied, “We weren’t sent in this direction for nothing, Sam. We have our orders from him to find all those who escaped and it’s our duty to find them. There are many places through here so we just have to find the right one. Besides, the Engineer revealed their last location before we killed him, was White-haven. They stand out with that black Wolf we’ve heard about. Nasty little shit, I hear. Orders are to kill them on sight if necessary. They’re bloody f***ing witches! All of ’em.”
“Hope you’re right.” Richard stuttered, “We got lucky finding that older couple in White-haven. I’m sure the Inn keeper found their bodies by now. Filthy religious fanatics, they were!”
“Not all can be taken by force.” Charles stated, “Those are the orders given.”
“I doubt those we’re searching for, came out this far.” Quintin muttered.
“Why not?” Noah questioned, “They couldn’t have gotten far within two days. Not without being questioned about that Wolf. My, what a trophy it’ll make. I hear, he can tear a mans spine from his back in one massive bite. Definitely a witch’s familiar, I’d say.”
“All wolves can do that. Nothing special about this one.”
Quintin; the leader, sat there thinking about their next move, not realizing their whole conversation was overheard from across the room.
Steven watched and listened attentively; wiping the bars’ counter. Seeing their heads huddled together, he grew cautious not liking their mannerisms. He whistled toward Roberto, signaling him of the situation then excused himself, heading up the narrow staircase to speak with the pub’s owner, Nikolaas; the tall, dark, handsome Hungarian man.
Hearing the knock on the door, Nikolaas opened it asking quickly in an elegant Hungarian accent,
“Yes? What is it, Steven?”
“We have six suspicious travelers downstairs right now.” Steven replied in an elegant voice, “They’ve been here for quite a while now.”
“Yes, what about them? We get them coming and going all the time.”
“They’re Hunters, Nik. I overheard their conversation and they’re looking for the two birds that came through here two days ago.”
Hearing they were Hunters, Nikolaas invited Steven into his office. Sitting across from Nikolaas, Steven recounted the conversation he overheard. Nikolaas listened; eyes changing from their natural dark brown, to red in color. He felt a sense of rage building within as his canine teeth extracted into sharp fangs. Steven stared at Nikolaas; not in fear but knew his friend was about to do something he hadn’t done in a century. Nikolaas and Steven exited the office descending the stairs, mumbling to themselves. Steven nodded, returning to work while Nikolaas leaned against the bar, observing his so-called patrons; listening to every word spoken.
Gathering enough of their conversation, Nikolaas switched off his vampire True Self then walked toward them in slow steps and asked courteously,
“Hello, gentlemen. My name is Nikolaas and I like to greet my customers on a personal basis. So, is there anything else I can get for you? A refill, perhaps?”
The six men leered at Nikolaas, eyeing him up and down curiously. Smugly, David replied as he leaned forward looking up at Nikolaas,
“Yes, perhaps you can get us something.”
“And that would be?” Nikolaas’ dark eyes stared in a piercing gaze; eyebrow raised.
“Information.” David leaned back.
“Oh and what kind of information could I possibly supply you with?”
“We know travelers came through here, and we want to know where they went.” Sam added, “A Wolf was with them.”
“I get people coming through here all the time and if they came with a…Wolf, I would not have allowed them here. I have a strict no-pets policy. But let’s say they did pass through here. What have they done, if six Hunters such as yourselves are following them this far out?” Nikolaas remarked cunningly.
“That’s none of your business…Sir.” Noah barked, studying Nikolaas’ fancy jewelry.
“Actually, it is. Anyone who comes into my establishment, is my business.” Nikolaas dragged the words in a sinister Sweeney Todd manner, leaning his hands on the table, “Tell you what. I think I can supply you with information, but not inside my place of business and my office is rather small, so why don’t you fine gentlemen meet me out back in an hour and maybe…I could give you the information you need. I may have seen them and many others.”
The six men exchanged glances then returned their gaze onto Nikolaas, nodding. Quintin stood, staring into Nikolaas’ dark brown eyes and feeling an eerie chill, he agreed.
“An hour.” he rushed the words then took his seat.
Nikolaas smiled as he backed away, toward the bar. In a low tone, Nikolaas ordered,
“You two, meet me out back in an hour and keep your eyes on them until then.”
“My pleasure.” Steven replied.
“Si.” Roberto added, releasing a low hiss.
The six men watched as Nikolaas disappeared up the narrow stairs.
Sitting down, Quintin whispered as he glanced around making sure he wasn’t heard,
“There’s something very strange about that bloke and this place. Did you see the antique jewelry he wore? They could be worth a fortune.”
“Definitely, mate.” Noah replied, “Foreigners like that wear the good stuff. Maybe he’s a warlock or even a Gypsy. My money’s on him being a Gypsy.”
“Maybe, maybe not but the money alone could be split six ways if given a good deal.” Richard added, growing a smug smile.
They clanked their mugs, sharing a moment of brief laughter before quieting down. It was then they noticed, the patrons scattered about, intimidatingly stared in their direction.
In his office, Nikolaas rapidly wrote a letter to Marxus:
I thought you should know there are (or were by the time you read this) six Hunters here in my establishment, searching for the mother and daughter that came to you. I overheard their conversation and they mentioned they worked for HIM; a man named DL that rules over the Great City. I don’t know if that means anything to you, but fear not, my comrades and I will handle them…accordingly.
He rolled up the letter then turned to a caged Raven. Reaching inside, the Raven pecked at his hand but Nikolaas ignored the sting as he gently grabbed hold of the Raven’s body. Holding it close to his chest, he attached the letter to its foot. Stepping toward his offices’ window, he spoke to the Raven telling it to deliver the letter to Marxus. Resting the Raven on the windowsill, it squawked before taking flight. Nikolaas closed the window and after gathering his thoughts, preparing himself for what’s about to come, he ventured downstairs and outback. Waiting for the Hunters to arrive, Steven and Roberto stood anxiously alongside.
They waited until hearing the Hunters loud voices coming from around the building. Seeing the three men standing before them, David smugly ordered,
“Alright, where’s this information we’re looking for!?”
“Why do you seek the women that came through here!?” Nikolaas replied bluntly.
“How did you know we were looking for two women!?” Sam questioned.
“Two ways. One, you just admitted it and second, I overheard your conversation while you butted your heads together. You really should be careful, but that won’t matter soon. And yes, they were the last ones to come through here, now why do you want them!? They seemed innocent enough; just a mother and daughter seeking safety far from pieces of shit like you!” Steven raged softly.
“What did you say!?” Quintin asked, placing his left hand on his belt revealing the hilt of a long Hunter’s knife safely tucked in its sheath.
“You heard him.” Nikolaas replied, rolling up his short sleeves to the elbow as did Steven and Roberto, revealing strong forearms.
The Hunters seeing that as an intimidating gesture, took off their jackets. They too, rolled up their sleeves, revealing larger muscular arms covered with tattoos. Examining them Steven scoffed,
“Nice ink. Shame you won’t have arms to show it off anymore.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean, you little twat!” David replied.
“Exactly how it sounded, pendejo!” Roberto snarled with his Spanish accent.
The Hunters made it clear from their intentional body movements, they were about to attack, withdrawing their serrated knives from their sheaths. Suddenly, they watched as Steven, Roberto and Nikolaas revealed red eyes and upper fangs. Before the Hunters could take one step forward or swipe their blades, Nikolaas, Steven and Roberto pounced with violent force.
The Hunters didn’t stand a chance, trying everything to fight off the three men who turned out to be vampires, but to no avail. As big and strong as they were, the vampires strength was one hundred times that. The vampires grabbed the men, gnawing at their necks and throats with their fangs; blood splattering everywhere. They removed limbs with bare hands, ripping them from their shoulders and bodies, causing a blood bath. No one was around to hear the screams of the men, as they were torn apart by the vampires. And if there was anyone around, they knew not to interfere. The events happened all so quickly but Nikolaas made sure the men felt everything being inflicted upon them. When they tried closing their eyes, he and the others compelled them to stay awake, feeding on them in the interim.
After the frenzy ended, the vampires gazed at the massacre; hissing loudly in pure contentment. Roberto stood there, watching his two friends grasping the moment of their kill. Even though Steven held rank in age between the three of them and was Nikolaas’ maker, they admired each other in high respect. They weren’t alphas or kings by status, but the other vampires in Penrith respected them. Not of fear but felt protected and safe.
Calming down, the three vampires walked over to a water pump on the wall, washing the blood off their hands, mouths, necks, hands and arms. Nikolaas combed his dark hair from his forehead and face with his hands then glanced down at himself. Grabbing a nearby rag trying to wipe the blood from his vest, he joked as the blood smeared deeper into the fabric,
“Damn it! This was my favorite vest!”
Steven and Roberto held back their remarks until Nikolaas looked up at them; expression of disgust on his face which was replaced by a faint smile. They teased each other about their appearances then after gathering their composure, they cleaned up the mess. But before moving the bodies, Nikolaas roughly removed the sheaths from the mens’ belt, taking the knives as trophies. He admired their beauty and craftsmanship. Putting them aside, they disposed of the bodies in a place where they’ll never be found.
Once their bodies and truck were properly discarded in Penrith’s garbage landfill, the vampires returned to their rooms upstairs above the pub, showering and changing into clean clothes, as if nothing occurred.
Returning to his office, Nikolaas took his blood stained clothing, throwing them into the fireplace. He watched them burn and sitting alone, he reflected back to when he was first turned; loving the feel of a thrilling kill. Years later after encountering Steven and Roberto, he realized killing people was wrong and gradually changed his lifestyle. He was still a Ripper at heart but stopped the thrilling kills, until today. The Hunters weren’t innocents and he did what he had to do, to protect all involved. They were men out to kill and destroy, and he’d seen enough of them over his century.
For you see, Hunters killed his wife 105 years ago, when they first arrived in Penrith. He discovered she ventured out alone shopping, when four Hunters decided to chase her down into an out-of-the-way alley, where no one would see or hear them violate and murder her. She was found murdered with the words ALL WITCHES MUST DIE written in her blood alongside her body. Her personal belongings were scattered, revealing a pack of Tarot cards. They misinterpreted her for a witch due to a simple item hidden away in her purse. She was a Gypsy and nothing more, but to Hunters, anyone who they suspected was a witch, were fair game.
Nikolaas was never the same after that day, especially when it was revealed she was two months pregnant. The letter and blood test results from her Doctor were also found among her things, verifying the pregnancy. She was planning a surprise meal, to reveal it to Nikolaas.
He never found those who murdered her, but would’ve loved the pleasure of tearing them to pieces. He never left Penrith; gradually saving his money, buying the pub and investing the rest, until attaining great wealth. Now, he used his money to help others, especially those of his kind. And in honor of his wife, he swore to protect women who searched for help. His wife’s parents left months after their daughter’s death, and he never saw them again.
So in his mind, justice was served. Any Hunters who crossed his way looking to harm innocent people, helped satisfy his quest for those who murdered his wife. He sat with tears as he stared at her picture, growing content that another group of trash were annihilated.
“I’m sorry, my love but…it felt good sinking my teeth into the flesh of men.” he mumbled; head leaned back against his chair.
In Penrith, vampires fed and released, but didn’t kill those they fed on. His rules. You can never take that desire from a vampire completely, for they’ll always crave the taste of fresh blood and the thrill of a kill. Vampires are predators and you can’t take that away from them.
Suddenly, Steven and Roberto knocked on his office door, breaking his thoughts. Allowing them inside, they talked among themselves over what occurred, hoping it wouldn’t happen again. Although, they couldn’t help but agree that the kill was intoxicating.
The Raven flew hastily to Marxus who stood on the balcony of his study, taking in the magical energies around him. Hearing the loud squawking, he raised his gaze observing a Raven flying toward him. Holding out his right arm, it landed roughly, breathing heavily. It pecked at its foot, alerting Marxus it carried a message. When he removed the parchment, the Raven flew off landing on the manor’s outer wall, replenishing itself with food and water left out for Ravenstone’s Ravens.
After reading what was written, Marxus grew worried even though he knew the situation was handled. He returned to his desk as he folded the letter, placing it in his drawer. Leaning his elbows on the ledge of his desk he whispered softly,
“Now…it all begins.”