Blood Oath

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“You’re late,” Grand Bishop Tasler is sitting on a cushioned chair in the center of the cathedral when Token and Grange finally make it to their intended destination. She is a stout woman wearing blue robes and a hat that allows her blonde hair to stick out the back of it.

“I told you,” Grange grumbles at his partner. “We didn’t have time to go chasing after damsels in distress or putrid bloodsuckers in the street. We didn’t even catch it either.”

“She was in trouble,” Token mutters in annoyance. It is obvious he has no plans of apologizing for his actions.

“She was a prostitute,” Grange spits back.

“Ahem,” Grand Bishop Tasler clears her throat. “Is there a reason you two have kept me waiting all this time? I'm beginning to wonder how seriously the great demigod Turok chooses his vassals.”

Token is not happy to be lumped together with Grange at all. “I'm not a vassal of Turok’s. I'm…”

“I don’t care what you are,” the bishop stops him. “All I care about is discovering the reason for this sudden visit. I can tell you now, Lord Glasstien will not be yielding any of his territory to Turok’s rule. Oh yes, I know all about his campaign to unit the late Lord Ironglave’s divided territories.”

“I can assure you our visit is nothing but an extension of good will between out neighboring territories,” Token responds sincerely.

“Neighboring?” Tasler scratches her forehead for a moment. “Ah yes, the unclaimed territory between our two areas has been claimed by Turok now as well. Not many folk traveling that way anymore, eh?” Token and Grange share a concerned glance. Neither one knows how to respond. Tasler can sense their apprehension and decides to move on. “So, what have you come here to discus if not territories?” she asks in a polite monotone.

Token bows politely before responding. “Forgive us, Grand Bishop but our lord has sensed a great loss amongst the nine. I'm sure you know that this area has been under the protection of the demigod Wan for several years now.”

“Unofficially,” Tasler spouts. “None of the nine are welcome here in Glass Gate; you should know that.”

“We are well aware of Lord Glasstien’s policy. Our lord would have come here himself if he could have,” Grange assures her. “We are here to offer our services in cleansing this city of any bloodsuckers who may have felt it wise to seek refuge here following Wan’s absence.”

“When will Turok learn to stop sticking his fingers where they don’t belong,” Tasler snaps at them. “You are no more welcome here than he is.”

“Grand Bishop, I don’t understand. We mean no disrespect,” Token tries to assure her.

“Demigods are the protectors of humans,” Grange adds.

Tasler can't help but snort in response. “You vassals are so pitiful. You call yourselves servants but what you really are is slaves. Demigods do not give a damn about humans. Humans are beneath them; tools to be used as they see fit.”

“You seem to have personal experience,” Token interjects.

“I have had little personal dealings with demigods myself,” she informs them. “No, it was my ancestors that had the misfortune of meeting them before.”

“If you could elaborate,” Token sees his chance to get her talking. Perhaps after hearing her woes he can convince her that Turok is not the same as other demigods.

“I am the descendent of one Master Ledon Pence. Does that name mean anything to either of you?” she asks sternly.

“Master Pence?” Grange’s eyes pop. “The master crafter of more than a thousand weapons? Your ancestor was a great master?”

“He designed the very axe your demigod wields,” she continues. “Arma Tua was his creation; an axe which could penetrate any armor, crafted through forbidden techniques. It was Master Pence’s greatest pride. Something he was never allowed to duplicate in his life time and something he would never hold again.”

“Doesn’t that mean he supported Turok?” Grange is hopeful.

“His decision to make Arma Tua for Turok had nothing to do with loyalty or support. He knew he would never get another chance to make as magnificent of a weapon in his lifetime. Each great master was given one chance to practice the forbidden techniques. Only a fool would pass up that opportunity, even if it meant placing a monstrous weapon in the hands of an immortal madman.”

“You really don’t like Turok, do you?” Token gulps.

“I think it is time for you to leave,” Tasler responds coldly. “I shall give you permission to stay in Glass Gate for the time being but under no circumstances are you to partake in any form of bloodsucker purging. If you so much as draw your weapons, my guard will have no choice but to expel you from the city by force. Be warned.”

“Yes, Grand Bishop.” Token and Grange bow in unison. Despite both being valiant swordsmen capable of standing their ground, they know their place. They do not have the right to dispute the ruling of a grand bishop.

An hour after Seamus leaves Row alone at their house, two men from the gate arrive with their belongings from their carriage. She spends the next two hours moving things into the house with difficulty. It is nearly impossible to move her trunk of clothing up the iron ladder but she still manages. Even though it is much smaller than her castle in Massmede or the blacksmith shop in Bos Stad she is still proud to finally have a place to call home again.

It is still several hours more before Seamus finally returns. Row is staring out the third story window at the passing people in the street when she notices him leading a woman toward their building by the hand. She quickly leaps out and lands in a crouching position on the cobblestone in front of them. “Oh god, here’s another one,” the woman groans. “Do these things ever stop reproducing?”

“Um, hello.” Row does a quick curtsy. “My name is…”

“I don’t care what your name is, vile creature. Just stay away from me,” the woman moans. Row gives Seamus a nervous glance.

“Hi, Row.” He nods at her. “This is Minto. I found her wandering around in the street by herself.”

“So you brought her back here?” Row crosses her arms angrily.

“I couldn’t think of what else to do.” He shrugs. “She seemed terribly distraught. She wouldn’t stop muttering about the number of bloodsuckers taking over the city.” Row glares at him angrily. “What? It’s not like she knows…”

“Bloodsucker.” Minto points at Row’s nose. “Even this sweet innocent little girl is one of them.”

“Wow, that’s quite the accusation,” Seamus laughs nervously.

“What do you see when you look at her?” Minto demands.

“I see a pretty girl with soft pink lips and…”

“Lies!” Minto doesn’t let him finish. “Look at that pale skin and that fake smile. See how she wants you to think she’s beautiful? It’s unnatural I tell you.” Row looks extremely hurt by this statement.

“Hey now, that’s not nice,” Seamus tries to defend her.

Row grabs his hand to silence him though. “It’s okay,” she whispers. She is not as concerned about what other people think. His opinion is the one that matters most. Seamus feels extremely guilty as the memories of how he used to speak about her return. Soon thoughts about his mother fill his head though, causing him to jerk his hand away from Row. She looks even more upset than before now.

“What is this?” Minto leans down so her head is at the same level as the two children. “What’s going on here?” She grabs each of their hands. “Blasphemy I say. You are consorting with a demon, boy.”

“What’s wrong with your face?” Row asks in an eerily calm voice, ignoring the deliberate insult. She is referring to the remnants of white powder still filling the corners of her eyes and mouth.

“I thought I got rid of all that,” Minto grumbles while wiping her face on one of her large sleeves.

“Are you a prostitute?” Row asks bluntly.

“Great, not only is she a bloodsucker, she’s downright rude,” Minto responds in a huff.

Seamus looks extremely surprised. “I swear I didn’t know that when I decided to bring her here,” he tries to assure Row.

“You’re gone a day and you’re already bringing home other women,” Row reacts jealously. She is not stupid enough to believe that Seamus intended bring home a prostitute. She simply wants to make him feel bad as payback for leaving her alone all day.

“How old are you two?” Minto is starting to worry. Surely two twelve year olds should not be talking like a married couple.

“Twenty-two,” Row answers first.

“Seventeen,” Seamus answers second.

“Monsters, the both of you.” Minto spins around on her heels, preparing to leave. She stops in her tracks though as she spots a figure cast in shadow standing at the corner of the street.

“What’s wrong?” Seamus can tell she is disturbed.

“It’s another bloodsucker,” Minto whimpers as the pasty skinned man starts to walk towards them.

“How can you tell?” Seamus is skeptical. Row starts to sniff the air, trying to see if she is right.

“It doesn’t matter how I can tell; I'm always right,” Minto moans. “I’ve been running into them all day. I think they know I know. Maybe they want to silence me.”

Seamus does not seem to believe her at all. “Don’t be ridiculous…” he is unable to finish his sentence due to Row covering his mouth. She takes a shaky step toward the figure, trying to smell him better. In turn he starts to stride toward her with an excited look on his face. His red eyes are wide, showing off the surrounding white area, making for a fearful sight.

“No,” Row whispers while taking a step back.

“What’s wrong?” Seamus instinctively reaches over his shoulder for his sword, only to find it missing. He never retrieved it from the side of the house where Nuve left it, leaving Row to take it inside while he was gone.

“This is Genlock,” Row starts to whimper while moving to hide behind her servant as the man continues to approach.

“Who? Genlock? The first demigod? The Red Warrior? Him?” Seamus is in utter disbelief.

“No he’s not, he’s a bloodsucker,” Minto hisses at them.

Just then the man lets something slide out of his hand. It is a short scythe with a sharp curved blade. He dangles it by a chain leading up into the sleeve of his tattered coat. It sways back and forth menacingly as he walks toward them. There is an unmistakable smile on his face. “Meet Arma Lita,” he mutters while flashing his shiny white teeth.

“Not again.” Seamus shakes his head. “How many of these people will I have to fight?”

“You can't fight him, Seamus.” Row clutches at his sleeve. “We need to run.”

Seamus sidesteps just as the man brings his weapon slicing down next to him, taking a few hairs off the side of Seamus’s head. Row falls backwards on the cobblestone to avoid getting hit as well. “What is the Red Warrior’s power?” Seamus once again turns to Row for information.

“Um, strength of some kind, I think,” she mumbles unconvincingly.

“Could you be more specific?” Seamus pries. He barely manages to drop to the ground in time to afford the scythe as the man swings it in a circle by the chain.

“Oh, that was a close one!” he laughs as he reels it in again. “Don’t worry, I'll get you next time.” He charges forward with his arm raised. His movements are sloppy; not what Seamus has come to expect from a demigod. He kicks him in the stomach with his long and flexible legs to keep him away. The scythe still manages to slice into his knee before he can draw it back.

Seamus tries to leap back but his injured leg buckles, causing him to collapse on the ground. “Careful,” Row shouts at him, “you can't shape shift right now, remember?”

“You’re crazy; these people are crazy,” Minto is muttering repeatedly while cowering against the building.

“Don’t worry, he won't hurt you,” Row assures her.

“Like hell he won't,” Minto shouts at her. “He’s going to gut me with that giant blade and pull my entrails out.”

“Demigods protect humans,” Row argues.

“For the last time, he’s not a demigod,” she screams. “He’s a putrid bloodsucker like you. Just look at his red eyes.”

“Genlock has red eyes too,” Row informs her. “He is known as the Red Warrior.”

“I don’t know who Genlock is or what a Red Warrior is supposed to be, but that thing is not a demigod; it’s not even human!” Minto is adamant.

“Is that possible?” Seamus is starting to wonder himself.

Row looks partially convinced as well. “If he were Genlock then we’d all be dead by now,” she admits.

“That’s not very reassuring.” Seamus frowns at her.

“I am Genlock,” the man laughs while tossing his scythe at Row again, which she easily knocks away from her face with her arm.

“You’re right, he’s not Genlock,” Row finally agrees.

“Foolish little bloodsucker.” The man clicks his tongue disappointedly. “I shall rid the world of all its evil children. It has been so long since Arma Lita has tasted flesh. How would you like to be its first meal?”

“You are one of those evil children!” Minto shouts at him. “Kill yourself before you kill anyone else.”

“Why are you so loud?” The man turns a menacingly wide eye toward her. “I think I’ve changed my mind. You shall be the first to feed my blade’s hunger.”

“Definitely not Genlock,” Row repeats.

“Shut up!” He grabs the side of his head as if hearing the truth is painful. “I am the one and only Red Warrior.” He starts to stumble around in a circle. He seems torn between attacking Row or Minto first.

Seamus is still too hurt to stand but he is still trying to defend his mistress. He reaches a shaky hand out toward the crazed man, trying to summon anything at all to attack with. In his current state he can not use any of the demigod powers he has amassed but he may have a different option. The point of Husk’s ability is to suppress a demigod’s aura, allowing them to consume mana for a different purpose, casting spells. Of course he does not know any spells. Still, he has to at least try.

Just as the man has decided to attack Row first, something hits him in the side of the face, knocking him off balance for a moment. Minto, Row and Seamus all turn to look in the direction the stone came from. Standing at the corner of the street is the one armed silhouette of Nuve. He is swaying from side to side, barely managing to stay on his feet but there is a look of anger and determination in his sapphire eyes.

“You… but, but how?” Minto is shocked. “You should be dead.”

“I'll deal with you later.” He glares at Minto before charging towards the scythe wielding man, who holds up his chain for defense just as he is tackled to the ground. He manages to wrap it around Nuve’s throat and tighten it but he is undaunted. He punches the bloodsucker in the face repeatedly until he lets go of the chain.

There is an immediate noticeable change in the creature’s behavior. The whites of his eyes are less visible and the crazed smile has disappeared from his face. “Wha-who are you?” He scampers out from underneath Nuve. Despite his miraculous assault, the ghoul hunter seems unable to move anymore. He must have used the last of his strength to attack the bloodsucker.

“What’s wrong with him?” Seamus manages to pull himself along the cobblestone until he is next to Nuve.

“I poisoned him,” Minto answers honestly.

“Why would you do that?” Row grabs her by the collar.

“He was in my way.” She jerks her head to the side to show she feels no guilt. “He had something I needed.”

“Wench,” Nuve manages to spit at her.

She cringes as Row drags her away from the house to stand next to her victim. “I can't believe he’s still alive though.” She leans down to examine his face.

“He’s my vassal,” Seamus informs her. “He could tell I was in trouble and he came to my aid.”

“Are you a demigod?” Minto’s jaw drops. “But you’re just a child.”

“Quiet,” Row hisses while pressing her ear to Nuve’s chest. “His heart is barely beating. I need life force.”

“Well you’re not stealing mine.” Minto steps back, only to scream when she realizes she is now standing directly in front of the other bloodsucker, who is no longer trying to attack them.

“Seamus.” Row does not even need to force her servant. Obediently he exposes his neck to her. Unlike usual though, he does not need to crouch down at all, since they are the same height at the moment. That does not last long though. Row’s eyes begin to shimmer like bronze the moment she starts to draw on Seamus’s life force. Slowly he begins to grow back to his normal size as Husk’s power is drained from him.

Minto covers her mouth in awe as Row too begins to grow. When it stops she is a mere inch shorter than Seamus. “What just happened?” Minto squeals. “You two weren’t joking about your ages, were you?”

“What happened?” Seamus’s eyes pop when he notices Row’s transformation. Her bodice has broken open and her dress become almost too tight for her.

“I guess Husk’s power is suppressing my aura as well.” Row glances at her hand while flexing her fingers.

“Does that mean you’re not immortal anymore?” Seamus asks. He is not sure whether having her lifespan significantly shortened is a good thing or not.

“I really can't say,” Row admits. She is still examining the different parts of her body though.

“What about Nuve,” Seamus reminds her.

“Right.” She nods before crouching down and biting his neck.

Minto covers her eyes but peeks through the spaces in her fingers. Slowly the color starts to return to her victims face. “I can't believe it. I had no idea bloodsuckers could heal people.”

“We aren’t all monsters.” Row glares at her.

“A-A-Arma Lita.” The other bloodsucker makes a sudden dive for the discarded scythe.

Seamus is faster though. Arma Scov slithers out from his arm and wraps around the bloodsucker’s wrist. “Give me a reason.” He glares at him menacingly. His eyes are glowing silver and the wound on his knee has already begun to close. He seems relieved to have his demigod powers back.

“You’re all monsters.” Minto grabs the sides of her head. “I’ve got to get out of here.”

“You’re not going anywhere.” Nuve rises to his feet unceremoniously. “I'm going to need that coin purse back.”

“Y-yes.” She nods vigorously while letting her robe fall open.

He snatches the coin purse from her belt and proceeds to count its contents. “I'm missing five gold coins,” he bellows as soon as he is done.

“Think of it as payment for my services earlier,” she tries to laugh.

“No girl is worth gold, no matter how pretty,” he spouts without thinking.

“Me? Pretty?” she scoffs. “Are you joking?”

“Well…” Nuve pauses for a moment to examine her appearance. “You definitely look better without all that powder on your face.”

“Well then, can I go now?” She attempts to side step toward the street.

“Where will you go?” Nuve is smirking. “You pretty much walked out of your call house, didn’t you?” he reminds her.

“I can survive on my own.” On instinct her hand travels to the knotted handkerchief in her robe which holds her winnings from the shell game.

“If you beg, I could be convinced to keep you around,” Nuve taunts her. “At least until you’ve paid me back for the rest of that gold.”

“You’re dreaming,” Minto spits. “I refuse to service you in the slightest.”

“For a prostitute, you’re not that good, are you?” Nuve sighs. “For that matter, weren’t you supposed to be blind?” He waves his hand in front of her face.

“I am blind.” She swipes at it.

He avoids her easily though. “I don’t think so. Was that all an act?”

“No.” She tries to hit his hand again. This time he simply grabs hold of hers and laces their fingers. “Let go of me.” She starts to struggle.

“Not until you calm down.” He twists her arm behind her back.

“What is he doing?” Row whispers to Seamus.

“I think he’s teasing her,” he answers with a shrug.

“She did try to kill him, right?” Row confirms.

“He’s always too easy going,” Seamus sighs. Slowly the silver wire in his hand starts to slither back up his arm, releasing the bloodsucker’s wrist as it goes. The creature does not let the opportunity go to waste. As soon as he is free, he leaps toward the house and scales the side of the building with his claws. “Go!” Seamus shouts at Row who immediately kicks off the ground to follow him.

Minto stops her struggling to watch as Seamus dashes around the side of the building. “What’s happening?” she asks.

“Let’s find out.” Nuve chases after his master, dragging Minto behind him by the arm.

“Where did he go?” Seamus shouts up to Row as she runs along the roofs of several buildings in a row.

“Follow me if you can,” she calls back before leaping across the street onto a different set of roofs. Not all of the life force she siphoned from Seamus went toward healing Nuve. She has retained enough to maintain her older appearance as well as her inhuman agility.

“Why are we following them?” Minto whines as Nuve continues to drag her through the back alleys with some difficulty.

“I hunt bloodsuckers for a living,” Nuve answers calmly. “I assume they don’t want him informing any friends he may have about them.”

“But why am I here?” she clarifies her complaint.

“Because I'm not letting you out of my sight.” He clasps her hand tighter. “Who knows who you may try to rob or kill?”

For a moment she is actually impressed with his ability to maintain his hold on her despite only having one arm. “Okay, I'm really sorry for what I did to you. Please just leave me alone. You people are crazy and you’re going to get me killed.”

“I'm not worried about your next target, I'm worried about you,” he admits. “If you tried to kill the leader of a bandit gang, do you suppose they’d leave you alive. I'm worried you’ll get into more trouble than you can handle.”

“I'm in more danger with you!” she squeals while trying to pry his hand off again.

“Hey, what’s going on?” a familiar male voice meets her ears. She turns her head in time to see Token staring at her in utter confusion, before she disappears around the next alley corner. Unfortunately he decides to follow her.

“Not you again,” Minto groans.

“Where are you going?” Grange’s voice is the next thing she hears.

“I swear I saw something leaping over the rooftops,” Token answers. “I think it’s a bloodsucker.”

“Didn’t the Grand Bishop, just forbid us from hunting within the city?” Grange reminds him.

“Since when did you start listening to anyone other than Turok,” Token scoffs.

“Good point. I'll take a closer look.” Grange dashes ahead of Token. He seems more agile than the guard captain. Keeping up with a demigod must require more stamina than being a knight.

“We’ve got company.” Minto taps Nuve’s side repeatedly.

“Who are they?” He gawks at Grange and Token.

“I don’t know but I think they’re dangerous. They aren’t from around here and they carry weapons in the streets,” Minto informs him.

“That’s a good enough reason to keep away from them.” Nuve picks up his speed. With less armor it is easier for him to run than it is for them.

“Where is he going?” Seamus calls up to Row again.

“He’s heading for a bell tower in the next district,” she answers. “Can you see it?”

“I’ve got it. I’ll meet you there.” Seamus veers off, taking a shortcut down a side alley. Nuve turns in the opposite direction though, hoping to lead their new pursuers away. It seems to work for Grange but not for Token. The guard captain continues toward the stone bell tower without even turning his head as he passes Nuve and Minto.

“Wait, who are you people?” Grange asks as he catches up to them. “Why are you running?”

“Because you’re chasing us,” Nuve gives the simplest answer.

“I am vassal to a demigod,” Grange informs him.

“How interesting; so am I.” Nuve swings Minto toward Grange, forcing her to grab hold of him to keep from tripping. “Go on, shake the nice man’s hand,” Nuve urges her.

“Um, how do you do?” she mutters nervously.

“Well met, I'm sure.” Grange shakes her hand politely without slowing down in the slightest. “Where exactly are you going, may I ask?”

“For now, we’re here.” Nuve lets the heels of his boots scrape on the cobblestone street as he skids to a stop directly in front of the bell tower. A moment later, Seamus rounds a separate corner, followed quickly by Token. Finally, the fleeing bloodsucker arrives, crashing through an upper window and breaking the glass. Row is a mere second behind him.

“There, I just saw two bloodsuckers!” Token shouts while banging on the gigantic oak doors barring entrance to the bell tower.

“Go away!” a high pitched male voice answers.

“Let us in. You may be in danger,” Token warns the occupant.

“There is no danger here. Leave at once.” He refuses to listen.

“Two monstrous creatures have entered already. If you don’t allow me to slay them you…” Token’s rant is cut short by the oak doors swinging open.

“What do you want?” A slender man with long flowing black hair and a dark trench coat, except for the seams, which are sewn with white thread, is standing in the doorway. Seamus and Nuve push past him without warning. “What is the meaning of this?” He spins around in confusion.

“Please excuse the intrusion, sir.” Token bows before stepping inside.

“Who are you?” the man demands. “Get out of here, all of you.”

“This will only take a moment.” Token and Grange draw their swords.

“No, no moments. You are trespassing in my private sanctum,” he informs them. “I will not stand for this.”

“Sir, are you aware that two bloodsuckers currently reside within this building?” Token asks in a cautious whisper. He seems worried that their prey may already be listening in as they speak.

“Bloodsuckers? Here? You must be joking,” the man laughs. “Whatever gave you that sort of idea?” His answer comes in the form of crashing sounds emanating from the floor above. Seamus and Nuve sprint up a spiral staircase to the next area while Grange and Token push past their annoyed host.

On the second floor, Row is already tussling with the other bloodsucker. She has her arms wrapped around his neck as he attempts to shake her off by smashing her between his shoulder and the wall repeatedly. Seamus is about to attempt separating them when the man in black grabs his wrist and pulls him back. “Do not interfere, human,” he hisses at him. “This is a fight between bloodsuckers.”

“Well then, I'll interfere,” Grange interrupts while shoving the man and Seamus apart. Both of them stumble but strangely the man regains his balance with barely any effort. He almost seems to rise back to his feet like a ghost. Grange is not paying attention though. He swings his sword at the pair of struggling bloodsuckers but like Seamus he is quickly blocked by the man in black, who is somehow able to move faster.

Token’s eyes narrow as he looks the man up and down. He is crouched beneath Grange with his hands pinching the blade of the sword, trying not to cut himself. “Hey, what’s the idea?” Grange growls while trying to yank his weapon away. The man’s grip is inhumanly powerful though.

“You’re a bloodsucker too,” Token realizes it. Just as he steps forward with the intention of helping Grange, the man vanishes, letting the sword hit the ground where he was crouching. He reappears in front of Token, punching him in the jaw and knocking him off his feet.

Immediately Nuve takes a stance, preparing to fight the new bloodsucker if necessary while releasing Minto. Token groans as he rolls over on the floor. His eyes are spinning dizzily as he regains his footing. “I'll ask you again politely, please leave my domain,” the man growls in a menacing voice.

“This city is overrun by these things,” Token grumbles while shaking his head to clear his vision.

Behind the man in black, Row and the other bloodsucker are still fighting. She has lost her grip on him and is now the one being pinned and choked. Instinctively she reveals her fangs and pierces his arm with them, causing him to shriek while letting go. He stumbles backwards toward the window but manages to catch his balance before falling out. Row scurries across the floor to hide behind her servant.

“Master?” the disoriented bloodsucker turns to the man in black for instructions.

“I didn’t want to have to do this but I suppose I have no choice.” He shrugs. “Besking, kill all but the lady bloodsucker. I'm sure she will make a fine recruitment.”

“As you wish, master.” The bloodsucker, whose names is apparently Besking, bows before leaping at Seamus. The seventeen year old leans back to avoid getting clawed while turning his eyes yellow. The small horns of Arma Venture protrude from his forehead as he tries to take control of the creature before him. It is not surprising that he can not. Besking seems to already answer to the man in black.

“Move!” Grange shouts while shoving Seamus aside just in time to block the bloodsucker’s claws with his sword. “I don’t know who you are but you’re quite the idiot. I kill these things for a living; let me handle this.”

Besking has an eerie smile on his face as he somersaults backwards to avoid getting cut. He almost looks like he is having fun. “Now then, what to do with the rest of you.” His master turns his attention to the other intruders. He is caught off guard by a sudden slash from Token who has finally regained his balance. “Well, that wasn’t very nice now was it?” He eyes narrow in annoyance.

“I have faced your kind before,” Token warns him.

“Congratulations on surviving an encounter with a measly underling such as Besking, but I assure you, you’ve never faced anyone like me.” His voice is somehow elegant and soft despite being authoritative. It suits his thin feminine body quite well; especially the long flowing black hair.

“I don’t care who you are, you will fall like the rest.” Token brandishes his sword confidently.

Row’s eyes widen for a moment as a memory flickers in her mind. She steps out from behind Seamus and towards the man in black. “Row, wait,” Seamus hisses while trying to grab her hand, which she twists out of his grip easily.

“Row?” The man in black turns an equally intrigued eye to her. Token takes the chance to attack, only to have the man vanish before his eyes again. He reappears directly in front of him and lifts him off the floor by his throat. “I grow tired of your interruptions.” His eyes are glowing bright red and his white fangs are fully visible as he whispers to Token.

“It is you, isn’t it?” Row touches his cheek. “Corvic?”

“And you must be Rowleen.” He smiles at her while tossing Token at the wall unceremoniously.

“Corvic?” Seamus’s eyes bulge. “You’re her brother?”

“I am the son of the late Lord Ironglave and the late Lady Owleen.” Corvic bows. “I am heir to the Iron Grove territories and older brother to your master.”

“But Drogen?” Row’s mouth trembles.

“I don’t know where our older brother is,” Corvic admits. “I fear the worst.”

“Lady Owleen?” Grange’s voice echoes from across the room, drawing everyone’s attention. They all turn in time to see him stab Besking through the chest.

Corvic’s eyes flare angrily as he vanishes from his place next to Row and reappears in the act of shoving Grange into a rack of steel weapons in the corner of the room. “Besking?” He kneels down next to his servant. “Besking, what happened? How did you lose?”

“I'm sorry, master,” the bloodsucker wheezes. “He is one of Turok’s vassals. I wasn’t good enough.”

“What do you mean? You hold the power of the demigod Genlock, remember? Where is it? Where is the scythe? Where is Arma Lita?” Corvic scans the immediate vicinity desperately.

“Do you mean this?” Minto’s meek voice emanates from the other side of the room. All eyes turn to her as she opens her robe and retrieves the scythe and chain from her sash.

Nuve stares at her in astonishment. “When did you…?”

“It called to me,” she answers before he can even ask. “I saw it lying on the ground and I thought…”

“Put that down, child,” Corvic coos softly while crawling across the floor toward her cautiously.

“No.” She backs into the wall behind her.

“I'm warning you, it’s not safe for someone like you to hold,” Corvic pleads with her. “It’ll eat your mind and drive you insane. I don’t know what curse Genlock put on it but it breaks anyone who tries to hold it.”

“What does he mean?” Seamus whispers to Row. Once again she is his only source of information when dealing with demigods and their weapons.

“Genlock has the power to control any part of his body at will,” Row reaffirms. “He can make his bones harder or his skin tougher. Arma Lita was designed specifically for him. It is like an extension of his body. He can even control which way it swings midair, not unlike your Arma Scov.”

“But that’s not Genlock.” Seamus points at Besking.

“No, I think I understand now. I think Genlock is dead,” Row surmises.

“But that’s not possible.” Seamus shakes his head. From Wan’s memories he knows that Genlock was the most powerful of the nine remaining demigods.

“Apparently my brother has saved us a lot of trouble.” Row sighs with relief. “It seems he wasn’t thorough enough though.”

“What do you mean?” Seamus is eyeing Minto suspiciously as she continues to press herself against the wall. All the while Corvic is slowly creeping closer, making sure to keep himself low to the ground so as not to appear threatening.

“With full control over his entire body, wouldn’t it make sense if Genlock could control his own mind?” Row suggests.

“I don’t follow.” Seamus shakes his head in confusion.

“Genlock must have transferred some of his memories into Arma Lita before he died,” she elaborates.

“That’s impossible, right?” Seamus is starting to doubt his knowledge of everything.

“If Arma Lita is a part of him then it makes perfect sense.” Row shrugs. “It’s the only solution I can come up with.”

“So now Genlock lives inside of Arma Lita,” Seamus whispers while glancing at Minto again.

“Stay back.” She swings the scythe at Corvic’s face, slicing his cheek open and drawing a small amount of thick blood.

“His mind is too much for her,” Row whispers. “She’s going to break.”

With all of the commotion, both Grange and Token have been forgotten where they lie, tossed aside by Corvic like waste. Slowly and silently they both rise to their feet. They are disoriented but it is nothing new to them. Token is directly behind Minto while Grange is a few feet away from Row. “Don’t!” Corvic shouts when he sees Token but it is too late. He grabs the scythe from Minto’s hand and tumbles forward, stabbing it into Corvic’s stomach.

At the same moment Grange grabs Row by the hair and pulls her away from Seamus. “Hello, little bloodsucker,” he laughs menacingly. “Do you remember me? I was there when your mother died. Oh yes, I know you’ve grown since then but I never forget a face. You’re the little brat whose knight killed my brother. Where is she?”

“Damn it, Grange, forget about Champaign and just kill her,” Token shouts at his partner.

“No. Your death will not be so quick,” Grange continues to taunt Row. “Tell me where the knight is. I want you to watch me string her guts around the room. I want to know if you’ll be sickened or hungered by it, you little monster.”

“This is our chance to rid Glass Gate of three bloodsuckers!” Token shouts at Grange while dashing across the room. Corvic manages to slither across the floor and grab his leg in order to trip him though. He flips over and lands on his back directly in front of Seamus.

“Quit messing around!” Grange growls at him.

“You’re the one wasting time,” Token groans while trying to sit up. Seamus steps on his chest though. “You, you’re human,” he wheezes. “Why would you help these creatures?”

“I'm Champaign’s successor,” he answers honestly. A look of fear spreads across the guard captain’s face. He doesn’t know why he couldn’t see it before. His determination and selfless loyalty reeks of Champaign. This is the second time in his life he has found himself completely perplexed by a human’s choice to defend a bloodsucker.

Grange has loosened his grip on Row’s throat by now. He seems to be waiting to see what Seamus plans to do with his partner. “Don’t you dare let her go,” Token warns him. “Let him kill me; it’ll be worth it to silence one more abomination.”

“I will tell Lord Turok of your sacrifice.” Grange nods solemnly.

“I'm not doing it for your pathetic demigod,” Token laughs. “I only serve one lord.”

“You mean my father,” Row finally manages to speak.

“You are not his heir.” Token shakes his head.

“He was my father too,” Corvic mumbles.

“Are you still alive?” Token mocks him. “You dishonor his memory. Your mother was a harlot and her offspring usurpers. What are you waiting for, traitor?” He glares up at Seamus. “The moment you kill me, your mistress dies; how about that?”

Seamus’s face reflects sheer panic. It is not merely Row’s life that hangs in the balance now. Corvic is bleeding out and can only be saved by a transfer of life from another bloodsucker. With the sacrifice of one man, this unlikely duo will have managed to destroy three bloodsuckers at once. It is a miracle Seamus would have paid to see at one point in his life. Unfortunately he holds no memory of that desire. All he has are memories of Row’s. He does not want to lose her, no matter what.

Reluctantly Seamus moves his foot from Token’s chest. Grange sighs with relief as he tightens his grip on Row’s throat again. “You fool.” Token shakes his head disappointedly as he stands up.

“Why are you so desperate to die?” Seamus asks as tears form in the corners of his eyes.

“I died the day my beloved guard captain betrayed humanity,” he answers solemnly. “I have worked tirelessly for nearly six years to make up for her mistakes. It’s not enough though; it’ll never be enough.”

“I'm sorry,” Seamus whispers.

“Don’t you dare.” Token’s eyes flare angrily. “Don’t you patronize me. You are no different than her. You are a disgrace to everything humanity stands for. You don’t even have the right to call yourself human.”

“Then perhaps I can call myself a god.” Tears spill from Seamus’s eyes as they start to glow bright yellow. Token’s arms fall limply at his sides. He turns around stiffly and marches to stand next to Grange.

“What’s goin’ on, mate?” the vassal is slightly confused.

“Let me do it,” Token whispers while raising the scythe.

“Um, of course.” Grange twists Row so she is facing Token.

“Goodbye, old friend.” Token brings the scythe down on Grange’s head, poking it through the top of his skull until it protrudes from the bottom of his jaw.

“Wha-why…?” Grange’s eyes are wide in disbelief. It is not long before the light leaves them though. His hands release their grip on Row’s throat and fall at his sides uselessly. “I thought we were… partners.” He topples to the floor, as does Row.

She scampers across the room to hide behind Seamus’s legs as he continues to stare at his mindless puppet. “How, how did you…?” she sputters in awe.

“He wasn’t a vassal of Turok’s,” Seamus answers in a faraway voice. “He was only here out of loyalty to your father.”

“He wasn’t immune to Arma Venture,” she realizes. “Seamus, what’s wrong?” She finally notices the fact that he is crying.

“I’ve killed demigods before,” he mumbles without taking his eyes off Grange. “I’ve killed ghouls and I’ve killed a bloodsucker but…”

“But this is the first human you have ever killed,” Row realizes. She rises to her feet and pulls Seamus into a hug. “I'm sorry.” He doesn’t answer. Instead he sinks to the floor while continuing to cry. Row has no time to comfort him though. She bites his neck and quickly draws out the necessary life force she needs to save her brother. It is enough to knock him out cold. She lays him flat on his back before rushing to Corvic’s side.

Minto crouches down on next to Seamus and strokes his hair, while wiping the tears from his cheeks as Nuve retrieves a sword from the weapon rack Corvic tossed Grange into before. Token is kneeling over the body of his fallen comrade, having regained control of himself the moment Seamus passed out. He is trembling in horror at the sight of what he has done. He is in no condition to fight Nuve. “What should we do?” the ghoul hunter asks out loud.

“We can't leave him,” Corvic groans. “He knows too much.”

“Then we kill him?” Nuve asks solemnly.

“I have chains in the basement,” Corvic informs him. “We’ll keep him here for now.” Nuve sighs with relief. He was not looking forward to shouldering the same burden that Seamus just did. He is not sure he could live with himself if he ever killed a human.
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