Blood on Roses

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A Bond Thicker Than Blood - Devyn Dawson

How did Devyn not only befriend, but also fall in love with a Pureblood vampire? What stopped him from exterminating her when they first met?


“Good work. Now, go check on Area 3-84.”

I pressed on my earpiece. “Got it.”

I waited a few more seconds until the blood on my spear fully absorbed, then I stood up from the boulder I was sitting on. I spun the spear and stuffed the morphed key in my coat pocket.

“Pretty sure south is that way.” I stepped over a half-disappeared vampire body. I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment and fixed my gaze ahead. The surrounding forest caged my massacre.

My fingers moved to press on my earpiece again. “What happened in Area 3-84?”

“We cleared a village of its fifteen vampires yesterday afternoon. The extermination occurred outside of town to ensure the safety of the humans.”

Great. I had to see another murder scene. “And why do I need to check on it if the job’s already done?”

“Some villagers reported noises coming from the site ten minutes ago. We didn’t plan on taking them seriously, but well, you’re in the area. Just routinely walk around, and we’ll tell people that it’s safe.”

My gaze lowered. Ordinary humans had zero means of defense against vampires, so of course they’d be paranoid. No vampire was ever left alive unless they were Purebloods. Those ones would be captured in tiny cages and used to construct weapons, but the public wasn’t informed of that. As far as they knew, all vampires were supposed to be killed on the spot, and we just fought them with a foreign power.

I trod through the woods, wondering what I’d be doing right now if I were never discovered with the curse to tell vampires and humans apart by sense.

The feeling hit me as soon as I made another step. Flicking my key, I spun out my weapon, point down, and adjusted my grip. I was still considerably far from the vampire. I slowly advanced in the direction where I sensed its presence.

My brows knitted; I gradually identified said creature as a Pureblood. For a vampire of such stature, it should’ve noticed me by now, but it hadn’t moved at all.

I stepped past the last two trees that were obstructing my view. In front of the setting sun, an otherwise beautiful meadow was splattered with blood. It’d been a day since the extermination; reasonably, no corpses remained. In the vast field, a figure near the far left stuck out.

I stood still for a moment, analyzing the situation. What was a Pureblood doing here? I didn’t sense any other vampires within the area, so it wasn’t an ambush in waiting.

The most fearsome trait of a Pureblood was their powerful special ability that no other rank of vampire possessed. My lack of worry came from my immunity to these abilities. Without them, Purebloods were merely a tad faster and stronger than any regular vampire.

As I came within a five-meter distance of the vampire, I recognized it as a female. She sat on her knees, leaning slightly forward. Green lights seemed to emit from her hands.

“You can kill me in a few more minutes,” she said suddenly. “This child didn’t struggle to stay in existence for twenty-three and a half hours only to suffer another death.”

“Another death?” I questioned, quickening my pace until I stood only a foot behind her. I could now see that she hunched over a small vampire. His eyes opened and closed as if floating in and out of consciousness. Both of his legs had been blown off.

“You must be the one they call Savior of Humanity.”

“More or less,” I mumbled. “What are you doing?”

“I’m saving this little guy. When I got here, he was almost entirely ashes.”

“A Pureblood with a healing ability,” I concluded. “Unusual.”

“I don’t just heal. I bring the dead back to life.”

My eyes went wide. “You can resurrect the dead?”

“Those who have died within 24 hours.”

“Oh….”

She added, “In other words, even if you weren’t immune to vampire abilities, mine would pose zero threat to you.”

Sassy, I remarked in my head. I kept my weapon close and squatted down beside her.

At first sight, I could see that she was a beauty. Her curly dark hair elegantly curtained her shoulders and shone under the light. Her red eyes were warm and fearless. Warm was a strange word to use on a vampire, but somehow, it fit her.

“You’re pretty good-looking for a human,” she joked. We both had our guards up. I broke eye contact and looked at the child. There was no way I could let him live, kid or not. In ten years, this same kid would grow into an adult. A vicious, lethal vampire.

I’ll make it quick. One jab in the chest, like always. My grip shifted on the spear, preparing, but I was interrupted by yelling. “Shit! Shit!”

“What?” I asked as an instinctive reaction.

“He’s at 24 hours now!” As she shouted, the green glow from her hands diminished, and the boy’s eyes closed permanently. His corpse blew away into ashes immediately after, tired of clinging on to false hope for so long.

I was startled by the blood-curdling scream that came from the vampire beside me. Her fists trembled in the dirt, grabbing at the grass. I looked at the side of her face and suddenly got a sense of deja vu. I was the same when I made my first kill. She must’ve lived much longer and seen much more, yet she was still like this?

The voice from the earpiece pricked my muddled brain. “Chief Dawson, what’s the situation? Any vampires present?”

Due to our proximity, she heard the transmission. She quickly quieted her weeps.

“He can’t hear anything unless I press this,” I explained, pointing to the earpiece.

Staying silent, she shifted and sat down crossed-legged. Her head was down and turned away. She didn’t want me to see her tears.

“Chief Dawson? Stupid question, but do you need backup?”

The vampire beside me still didn’t make a sound. I didn’t have any more time to contemplate. My fingers rose. “That is a stupid question. The reported noises were caused by wild animals.”

“Haha, I thought so. Alright, a chopper will be there in ten.”

“Thanks.”

I realized then that a pair of eyes glaringly fixed on me. I nonchalantly met her gaze.

“Are you pitying me or looking down on me?”

“Neither,” I said. “I get the feeling that even I’d have trouble fighting you, so I’m definitely not looking down on you.”

That seemed to calm her down a little. Knowing that it’d burn her if she tried to touch it, I set my spear down in front of me. I calmed myself for the kill that I was planning. I glanced over; it seemed that it was the first time she noticed my large weapon. For the next minute, her gaze zeroed in on it unblinkingly.

“First time seeing one up close?” I questioned.

“No, it’s not.” She hesitated. “Can I touch it?”

“You will peel three layers of flesh,” I stated.

Ignoring my warning, she reached out. She first touched the spearhead with her fingertip, and oddly, nothing happened. She proceeded to put her palm flat on it, even going as far as clutching it.

Both of us shot up at the same time. She held onto the spearhead while I secured a grip on the handle. I’d never heard of a case where an anti-vampire material was harmless to a vampire.

“Why isn’t it scorching you?” I inquired, toughening my tone of voice.

She returned a blank smile at me as if the last remaining part of her soul had been sucked out. She held the spearhead like it was the hand of her baby. “The bloodline of family doesn’t burn.”

It took approximately three seconds for her puzzling statement to sink in. I was sure all color drained from my face as I learned a foreign concept. “This weapon’s made from your family?”

“My father,” she confirmed. “Your direct bloodline would never hurt you.”

At first, I thought I could exterminate her here and avoid having her blood used for weapon creation, but now I really couldn’t bring myself to kill her, especially with her kin.

“I never knew that.” My voice was a passing whisper in the vast plain.

She smiled wryly. “No human does. No hunter ever hesitated to attack a vampire for long enough to find out. Besides, no such coincidence has happened before.”

We still held either ends of the spear. The usual cool silver against my hand felt a tad warmer today. “What’s your name?”

She made a face. Her eyes narrowed, but she answered, “Mihaela.”

“Mihaela,” I repeated. “I’m sorry. I nearly killed you with your own blood. Uh, I’ll pretend I never saw you here, so––”

“You’re putting yourself on such a high pedestal,” she cut in, scoffing. I met her eyes once more and was nearly captivated by the fire in them. “What makes you think you’d be able to kill me?”

What a strange thing to focus on. I scoffed in return, “The name that has never lost in battle promises you.” I yanked my weapon to retrieve it. To my surprise, it didn’t budge.

Mihaela’s crimson orbs never left mine. “Then I swear on the Ceallakánn name that I’d never lose a fight against you again.”

I saw that her wrath wasn’t directed at me personally, but rather on a much broader scale of vampire hunters. The extermination of the Ceallakánn vampire family occurred nearly a century ago. It took years of planning and several squads of top-notch hunters. I obviously didn’t take part in it, but I was just as guilty. In one swift motion, she jerked the spear in her direction. The metal slipped through my gloved hand. I quickly unclasped my fingers before the point at the end of the spear could cut my palm.

I was at a substantial disadvantage now. I opened all of my senses and scrutinized her every move. I had in my pocket a spare key that spun into a standard sword, but it was a much weaker weapon compared to my personalized spear. Her gaze suddenly darted to the sky a second before I even heard it. The helicopter was nearing.

“You don’t think you can fight off a Chief and two Specialists on your own, do you?” I said. “Return my weapon, and I swear I won’t say a word about today.”

As if to taunt me, Mihaela deadass ignored my threat and spun the spear into a key, wrapping her fingers around it. “Maybe tomorrow, if I feel like it.”

It didn’t take her longer than one second to turn around and dash into the woods, out of my sight. At the same time, the helicopter arrived in a position that had a perfect view of the meadow. If I chased after her now, it’d be suspicious. I had to admit that her confidence didn’t originate from an empty cookie jar; she was fast.

Damn, what kind of rare species of vampire did I run into?

A rope ladder dropped down, and I briskly climbed it.

“Yo, Devyn,” Arthur greeted, popping his head out and pulling me up.

“Arthur, you just got picked up, too?”

“Yeah, I was in 3-101.”

I dug around for a bottle of water in the back. “Did you receive notice for the ceremony?”

A bright beam appeared on his face. “Sure did. It’s in two weeks. You think I can make it this year?”

“Of course. No one’s more qualified than you to be Chief.”

“Thanks, but tell that to Wilson.”

“No, thanks. I like my face.”

“We all know she’d never hurt you,” Arthur said, snickering.

I cringed. “I wish I didn’t.”


“I can sense you from the train station. There’s no need to hide,” I said, striding into the meadow. Last night’s rain washed away any evidence of bloodshed. The grass was still damp.

“Your range is wide,” Mihaela remarked, hopping down from a tree branch.

“It’s easier to locate you, now that I can identify your… aura.”

“What does it feel like?”

I paused, surprised. That was like describing a rainbow to a colorblind person. “Uh, I don’t… I’ve never… I can’t really explain it.”

“No one’s ever asked you that?”

“No.”

Silence dawned on us for a couple of seconds. I’d been in several awkward conversations in my life, but this one took the cake.

“My mother spoke, once, about humans like you,” Mihaela suddenly started. “You who can tell vampires and humans apart by sense.”

“Really?” I asked, taking the opportunity to walk toward her. Since an anti-vampire weapon was created with vampire blood, I could sense it, so I knew where she hid my key.

Mihaela didn’t move from the tree shade. “The gifted humans are less rare than hybrids.”

“Hybrids?” I repeated. “As in human-vampire hybrids?”

“Yeah! No one’s ever seen one, but I bet they exist. Anyway, like I said, gifted humans aren’t such a rarity. We have plenty of documentation. Do you know your ancestries beyond your grandparents?”

I halted in my steps just as I was a meter or two away from her. “No. I don’t know who my parents are, either.” I scrutinized her expression. She completely jumped over what would normally be a sensitive revelation and nodded, saying, “Ah. Well, gifted humans have a tad of vampire blood mixed somewhere in their lineage. Somewhere older than your great-grandparents’ generation.”

My world shattered for a brief second before I questioned, “Doesn’t that mean there was a hybrid somewhere up there? And you said hybrids were incredibly scarce?”

Mihaela stared at me with mildly furrowed eyebrows for the longest time before her head popped up. “I understand the miscommunication. To us, ‘hybrid’ applies solely to the offspring of a human and Pureblood vampire. Ordinary vampires have kids with humans a lot more than humanity likes to admit. The Pureblood lineage has a way of protecting itself. It’s difficult for a Pureblood to have a child with anything else, and basically impossible with a human.”

I listened quietly as she explained. “Why are you telling me this? You know I’m a Chief vampire hunter.”

“I have no idea who you are,” she stated. Both of our eyes widened a fraction before returning to our usual placid faces. She added, “I’m very interested in genetics. You’re the only gifted human I’ve met who hasn’t tried to kill me for two minutes.”

“But to your disappointment, I have no clue regarding my lineage,” I finished. “I can’t help you with this one. Can you return my weapon now?”

Mihaela tugged at her black curls, seemingly unwilling to give up so easily. While she contemplated, I noticed her attire. She wore a black sheath dress and thin, black gloves that went up to her elbows. Lace-up stilettos completed her outfit, which was anything but suitable for battle. Either she didn’t plan on fighting me, or she was confident enough to battle in a fitted dress and heels.

“So,” I spoke up. “You’re saying I have vampire ancestry?”

“Not necessarily ancestry. It could just be one or two vampires, which makes sense. No human could simply get to your level with hard work alone.”

A corner of my lips tugged up, and I stepped closer to her. “My pupil will make you eat those words.”

Her head gradually raised up the closer I got. “Your student?”

“Yes, she’s only sixteen, but she shows great promise. As an ordinary human,” I said, emphasizing those last two words, “she might even surpass me one day.”

Mihaela tilted her head to the side by the smallest angle. I could’ve sworn I saw her lips purse in a sulk before she flashed me a confident smile. “You speak awfully highly of this girl. I’ll look forward to meeting her.”

“What? You’re not…”

“I guess I’ll be keeping this for another day.” Mihaela tossed my key in the air right in front of my face and caught it with her palm. As the last sound of her sentence dropped, she turned and zipped out of sight. Just like that, I had to return the next day. And the next.

By the end of the week, I wondered why I couldn’t simply call a few hunters along with me to take care of her. Every time I went, she was alone.

As I stepped into HQ, Arthur, carrying a stack of papers, crossed my path. “Devyn! I haven’t seen you in days. Where’ve you been?”

“Uh, I had some free time, so I toured around the city for a bit.”

“Since when were you big on sightseeing?” Arthur questioned, but soon let it go. “Oh, and Henrietta has been asking for you. She said she mastered the last thing you taught her.”

“Already?”

“Right? You’d better up your game, or she’s gonna replace you.” He cackled, then went about his way down the hall.

I yelled, “That’s a good thing! The pupil is supposed to outgrow the master!”

The following day, I returned to the meadow once again. Mihaela sat in the middle of the field, poking at something on the ground. I took my seat beside her and followed her gaze. “Look, it’s a rose. A single rose.”

“How is that possible? Don’t roses grow in shrubs?”

“You can’t logically reason everything, Devyn,” she huffed. “I love roses. They symbolize everything I believe in.”

I laughed out loud, which was something I’d been doing a lot for the past few days. “What, hope and love?”

“And new beginnings,” she added. “Don’t laugh at me, Devyn!”

I instinctively put my hand on her head. “I’m not laughing at you. You just looked so content about one flower.”

When she didn’t retort, I realized what I’d done. I briskly removed my hand and settled it in the grass. Not a second later, I sensed it. I shot up to my feet, hand in pocket, but I didn’t have my key.

“Mihaela, give me my key,” I commanded quietly.

She scrambled up and messily brushed her hair out of her face. “What is it?”

I spared a glance at her face. She seemed genuinely innocent. “There’s a vampire over there. Pureblood, I think. I’m too far to tell exactly, but I know it’s there.”

“Which direction?”

“Ten.”

“Oh,” she mumbled. “I think that’s my brother.”

“You have a brother? I mean, is he going to be a problem?”

“No, he’s far too prudent. Besides, everybody knows who you are.”

I weighed my options. The vampire showed no signs of moving right now, but if he did, it’d be too late. I only had a standard sword on me. It’d be difficult to fight off a Pureblood with just that.

I didn’t realize that I excluded Mihaela from the “fight off a Pureblood” scenario. At that point, I could feel it in my senses that she had no intention of fighting me.

“Either way, you should return my weapon. I’m quite bare without it,” I said. “I also have a mission coming up.” I quickly stopped myself and shifted my gaze to Mihaela, who now wore a sombre expression.

“You’re gonna go kill more of us?”

I swallowed, then whispered, “It’s my job.”

“Tell me, why’d you become a vampire hunter?”

Because of my gift, I wanted to answer, but at my moment of hesitation, Mihaela interrupted, “I’m sorry, let me rephrase. Why did people force you to become a vampire hunter?”

Because of my gift.

“You know,” she started again. “I’ve been through hell and death’s door one too many times. I lost all the wonderful people in my life, and I was completely alone for more than half a century. Everywhere I went, I was shunned and hated, and truthfully, for a long time, I hated humans. But one family. One family changed my mind. They treated me with kindness, even when I threatened them with my fangs out. I saw that I could still have wonderful things in my life, and I hoped that others wouldn’t need to lose them like I once did. I was blessed with the power of healing and resurrection, and I maximized that power. I… so… I saved both humans and vampires… yet you, with the power… yet you choose to…! You don’t even... don’t you understand that your gift isn’t meant to be a weapon?”

Her sobs obstructed her language. At the sight of her tears, I was at a loss. She always presented herself as strong and confident. I never knew what to do when someone cried.

As I struggled to find the words to console her, it hit me. She wasn’t telling me her story to guilt trip me; she wanted me to realize I had a choice. Two or three humans changed her perspective on humanity, and she chose a different path from the one she would’ve if she harbored hatred forever. And now, she was trying, as a vampire, to change my perspective on vampirism. Since even she could see the good in humanity, why couldn’t I give vampires the same chance?

Through her incoherent sobs, I could tell she was frustrated. Her eyes, although clouded with tears, had the same burning fire in them as the first day I met her.

My lips parted. When my gift was discovered, I was told that becoming a vampire hunter was my decision. But the looks on people’s faces didn’t seem to give me a choice. The constant talk of how rare and special I was didn’t permit me to explore all of my options. I was only fifteen; there wasn’t much of a decision to make. And when I was offered a full scholarship, I couldn’t refuse.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured, apologizing for the second time in my life. Mihaela hiccupped, her tears ceasing all at once. “I’ll get out of the raid next week, but if I ever encounter a vampire attack, I wouldn’t show mercy.”

Mihaela’s usually immaculate hair fell out of place and stuck to her face. Her red eyes were wide, and tear stains littered her pale cheeks. Her trembling hands were wet from wiping her tears. She blinked several times before breaking into a beam. “I can work with that for now.”

I felt a sudden thump in my chest. My fist raised to my mouth, and I cleared my throat several times. Mihaela, to distract me from her puffy eyes, exclaimed, “Whoa, are you embarrassed? Is the great Devyn Dawson embarrassed?”

“Of course not. And you were the one bawling your eyes out. I should be teasing you.”

“Jeez.” She combed her fingers through her hair and wiped her eyes one last time. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

“No, I won’t.” I gently pressed her head against my shoulder. “Since you got so emotional for me, I’ll try to protect the wonderful things in your life, too.”

Mihaela released a soft huff. “Then you’d better protect yourself well.”

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