The storm raged shooting daggers of snow in every other direction.
A mere truck stood no chance against nature at an ungodly hour of the night. It was one hell of a winter where the nights were long and the days were short. The long road that snaked between the two mountains was now hidden from the view.
Two figures exited the truck when it couldn’t move ahead. The tires and the hood were almost covered by the snow.
“We need to find a shelter for the night,” one of the men yelled over his shoulder as he proceeded towards the back of the truck, maneuvering through the snow that swallowed their legs up to their knees.
“We are in the middle of nowhere. I can hardly see anything,” the other man replied.
“We should’ve come when the weather is not this harsh. Now, we are stranded. What do we do?” The first one asked.
“I don’t think hiking the mountain is a very good idea at this moment, Charlie.” The second man, reasoned.
“We can’t stay in the truck either. We have to keep moving. You know what our commander said. We need to reach our destination any cost,” Charlie argued.
Archie, the second man grunted, but kept quiet as they retrieved the huge cylinders from the back of the truck. “This shit is so heavy,” he grumbled as he helped Charlie load them onto his back and tightened the straps around his waist and the shoulders.
“Well, what did you expect?” Charlie shot back and helped Archie secure the cylinders against his back.
After grabbing a few more things from the truck, they walked around and stood at the front of the truck, trying to get a good look at their surroundings. Charlie pulled out his compass and adjusted his snow goggles before pulling the mask up to cover his nose.
“We’re almost there,” he announced. “We need to walk five miles North and then, three miles West to reach this place we’re looking for.”
“Eight miles?! You’re kidding, right?” Archie exclaimed. “Come on, Charlie. We could die out here!”
“Shut it, Archie!” Charlie rolled his eyes behind the goggles. “You happen to forget that you’re not human anymore. You’re a freaking vampire for God sake, just behave like one.”
Archie scoffed and followed Charlie, who trekked North without another word.
An hour or two has passed and they were still trekking. The snow-clad path seemed endless as Charlie weaved in and out of the trees. Archie stumbled behind Charlie, barely avoiding the low tree branches that assaulted them without an ounce of mercy.
The more they climbed the mountain the storm became harsher. Archie huffed and bent down, his breathing became labored as his limbs ached. He was a newly turned vampire and was getting used to his new abilities. This was the first task he was entrusted with and he wanted to finish it at any cost.
Vampires were usually strong creatures. Charlie once told him they were no match for the pureblood vampires. This was the most extreme situation Archie had faced so far and he wondered why his strength faltered, unlike their commander who was the strongest of all.
No matter how good their endurance skills were, they got exhausted every now and then, if they were pushed beyond their limits. This was one such occasion, to Archie and Charlie.
“I wonder how they even manage to live in a place like this,” Archie mused when he noticed Charlie take a break.
“They live in a cave several feet inside this mountain,” his voice strained as he tried to catch his breath.
It was the first time for Charlie and Archie. The team that normally ran the chores for the ten-member coven that resided in this secluded area was out of town on business and they were not scheduled to visit until the winter has passed
However, their commander had received information and he’d been on them the moment he read it. He handed them a traditional message scroll and told them he trusted them with a matter that requires immediate attention. They were not to stop or rest until they reached the coven.
Charlie touched his woolen trench coat, his fingers touching the bulge in his pocket. He cannot stop, that was his order. “Come on, Archie, just a few miles more. We are not stopping,” he said, dragging himself ahead and Archie followed him with a string of curses.
Archie collapsed, unable to move his limbs after a few more miles. His lungs burned with exhaustion and his breathing became labored as his body refused to cooperate. He turned to see Charlie knelt down beside him, blood trickling down from his nose as his breath wheezed.
“I feel like a human again,” Archie heaved.
“Yeah, me too,” Charlie agreed. “We’re not that different from the humans. We heal faster than them and we live as long as we drink blood. We don’t have any special powers apart from that,” Charlie grunted and sat down on the snow.
“Drinking human blood would make us stronger, but the bloodlust is harder to control and they will have no option to end our lives. That’s why we are not allowed to consume human blood. Only the pure blood can feed on humans, the rest of us should only survive on animal blood,” he explained. “The animal blood keeps our bloodlust at the bay and though we are stronger than the humans, we have our limits.”
“Tell me more about the pureblood vampires,” Archie asked.
“Well, they are the most powerful being to walk on this earth. They are born that way, unlike us who are bitten and turned. Only the pure blood vampires can reproduce and they also hold certain powers within them,” Charlie explained.
“What kind of powers?” Archie asked curiously.
“Hmm… I don’t know much about it. You see they tend to keep us in the dark as much as possible because it is extremely dangerous if we were to get caught. As far as I know, the pureblood is said to hold a certain power. No one knows the full extent of their power.”
“Why would we get caught? And, who is trying to capture us?” Archie asked.
“The hunters and assassins–Look, Archie the less we know the better. Now, get up. We need to reach there before the dawn.” Charlie got up and helped Archie up. They brushed the snow from their clothes and ambled through the snow towards their destination.
“Katherine, we’re going to be late!”
Katherine rolled her eyes as she mocked her mother in front her mirror. She’d just graduated from the University and no less than a week later they showed up, behaving like they were the most caring parents of the century.
She didn’t respond as her mother knocked on her door. She took her time, applying her dark brown lipstick and adjusted her clothes, turning around to look at her image. Once satisfied, she packed her makeup and other accessories, placing it inside the suitcase she’ll be carrying.
By this time, the knock at her door was furious and she could already imagine her mother’s face turning red with anger as she shouted like the infamous Cruella De Vil. Well, the name matched her mother perfectly because she was a famous fashion designer in New York and most celebrities were her regular customer.
“Stop knocking for a second, will you?” She sneered at her mother and leaned casually on the door frame.
As expected, Elisa scowled noticing her appearance. “What the hell are you wearing?” She exclaimed and Katherine just rolled her eyes as she brushed past her mother.
She didn’t favor her mother’s branded designs, which fit only for the red carpet. Elisa expected her to dress like a runway model and even stuffed her closet with designer clothes.
“I don’t think I will be comfortable wearing that couture gowns for a fifteen hour trip to God know where,” she said, dramatically throwing her hands in the air. She hated this trip and hated them being here.
They were absent in majority part of her life. She saw her parents, the famous film producer and the most wanted designer in Hollywood, only on T.V. They didn’t even bother to be there for her graduation or call her.
If they thought that she’d be okay with them, showing up at her doorstep after a week of her graduation and tried to act like one happy family, they were wrong. It had been two entire days they stayed in, which was unlike them. She even wondered if they were possessed.
“Brennan! Look at what your daughter is wearing,” Elisa complained and Brennan just looked up from his newspaper.
“Katherine, listen to your mother,” he grumbled under his breath and went back to his reading.
“Come with me now,” Elisa pulled her back to her room. “Look at yourself. You look like a gangster,”
Katherine looked down at her attire which consisted of pale jean shorts, a gray tank top, and a matching black leather biker jacket, which she paired with her favorite white sneakers. She wore steel bangles on her right hand and a black braided bracelet with two skull faces. Her long brown hairs were neatly combed and left open in its natural waves.
“I look like any other normal girl about my age. If you don’t want me to wear this, then cancel this trip. I’d rather explore the world on my own than coming with you guys,” Katherine stated with all honesty and Elisa gritted her teeth in anger.
“Don’t talk to me like that. I’m your mother!”
“Did you happen to hit your head or something?” Katherine frowned.
“Jeez, mom! You just remembered that you have a daughter after twenty-one years. Congratulations!” Katherine mocked.
“Don’t! Don’t you dare raise your voice to me? According to your interview with that fashion magazine, you had no child. Yeah, I didn’t miss it. You were never there in my life, the least you could’ve done is acknowledge me as your daughter.”
Elisa stood dumbfounded as Katherine lashed out at her.
“Now, answer this question for me. Why are you wasting your time here?” Katherine asked.
“Charlie, I think I saw someone,” Archie wheezed out.
“I did too,” Charlie said and patted his trench coat with his numb hands. When he found his flashlight, he turned it on and off a few times far away. It looked as if he was following a pattern.
A few seconds later, a similar signal came from the opposite side and Charlie released a breath he was holding. “Alright, come on, kiddo. We have permission to move forward,” he announced.
“Are they –“
“The guardians, yes,” Charlie answered cutting him off.
“Wow… I thought I would never meet them. They are all pureblood, aren’t they?” Archie asked with a new found enthusiasm.
“Yes, they are. Now, keep quiet and don’t talk unless you’re spoken to,” Charlie whispered in a hushed tone.
“Why? I mean they are cool.”
“They are also several centuries old and follow old customs. They won’t take our unnecessary talking so kindly. Just shut your mouth and follow me,” Charlie chastised.
Two tall vampires wearing dark hooded robes appeared before them and Archie stumbled back in fright. Their faces were covered and their wide frames scared Archie to his bones.
“Where’s Cyprion?” One of the males asked in a thick voice which had both the henchmen shiver. The authority and power radiated from the vampires made their knees go weak.
Charlie swallowed and composed himself to answer their question. “Cyprion and the others are out of town at the moment. Commander Moldark asked us to deliver this,” he said, handing the scroll to one of the vampires.
Archie stood a few feet behind Charlie, all the while keeping his eyes downcast. That was one lesson they were taught. Never look at the pure blood in their eyes.
“Lennix, take them in and inform the others,” the first one, who asked the question ordered and handed the scroll to the other vampire.
The second vampire, whose name Archie learned as Lennix took off with an inhuman speed, which had Archie’s eyes pop out in admiration. His jaw went slack as he stared in the direction he disappeared to.
“You two follow me,” the first one spoke and the henchmen followed him without further questions.