Heavy rain was cascading down from a dark grey sky and thunder crashed through the silence that suffocated Downtown Manhattan.
The streets were completely deserted. No people. No animals. Not even the trees set at regular intervals dared to rustle.
The portal had dropped Kiara and Riley in the centre of the intersection at 10th Street and University Place. The two Guardians had immediately drawn their weapons and were waiting.
Riley scowled, his black gear accentuating every curve of his athletic body. “I haven’t been to New York many times, but isn’t this place supposed to be crawling with pedestrians and traffic. It’s a little quiet for a Thursday in a city.”
Kiara’s eyes were travelling over the scene, her senses alert and her heartbeat wild. “Tiberius is probably working a spell… But that’s not the part that worries me. We asked to go to 12th Street. Why were we sent here?”
As if in answer to her question, a low, multi-originated growl rumbled through the street, echoing off the abandoned buildings and sending the earth quivering under their feet. There was sudden movement on a nearby rooftop. A young girl with a blonde pixie cut leapt down and landed gracefully a few metres away.
Her skin was the colour of porcelain, her eyes emeralds. She had low-set ears, curved nails and came closer with a slow, swinging stride.
“That’s because it’s a trap.” Her voice was high and sweet, tinged with the supernatural.
Riley cocked an eyebrow, seemingly unaffected. “Two against one doesn’t seem like a very well thought-through trap.”
The girl giggled with the sound of wind chimes. “I like the companion, Kiara. He’s very amusing. Perhaps we shall keep him as a plaything when this is over.”
A lightning bolt flashed down only a block or so away, echoing the wrath in Kiara’s veins. “We?”
The girl grinned cruelly. “Well, my pack and I, of course.”
On cue, eleven black wolves oozed from the neighbouring streets. Their feral glares were trained solely on Kiara.
She tightened her grip on her twin blades and snarled, “Working for Tiberius or just trying to capture me like all your friends?”
“Tiberius doesn’t even know we’re here.”
The girl winked at them and then shifted in a matter of seconds.
Twelve wolves. Two Guardians.
Riley went down into a crouch and addressed Kiara, “So, this is what your life is like?”
The peace broke.
A massive lycanthrope charged forward, fangs headed straight for her heart. He was on top of her before she could lift her swords, slamming her back into the gravel. Its dripping maw was right above her face and she was trapped. So, she let her right weapon clatter to the ground and lashed out at the creature’s head with her fist.
The werewolf yelped and stumbled backward, giving her enough time to stand. She didn’t allow her opponent the opportunity to recover from the blow before slamming a blade into its side and killing it.
She retrieved her other weapon and looked up long enough to see Riley’s blonde head bobbing up and down as he sliced through a sea of supernaturals with vigilance.
Spying two wolves approach from behind her, Kiara spun at just the right moment to administer fatal wounds.
Unfortunately, the victory was short-lived.
She was flying forward in an abrupt whir. One of the werewolves had sunk its claws into her shoulders and was pinning her to the ground. Her swords had been knocked from her hands during the crash.
He wasn’t trying to kill her. He was just holding her down. Two more arrived, in human form, and grabbed her arms. One was a brown-haired man, the other the pixie cut blonde. “Time to take you to our leader, Kiara,” The latter sneered.
The wolf on top of her turned as well and gripped her ankles. Panic rose up in Kiara. She tried to move, tried to escape. But it was no use. They hauled her half-upright and the girl beamed. “Finally, the great Kiara is captured.”
Suddenly, her smug expression turned to horror as a silver sword ripped through her gut. It was Riley with his blade.
The lycanthrope at her feet turned to face the new attacker and Kiara was now left with only one opponent – the brown-haired man.
She brought up her left hand and punched him on the nose. There was a satisfying crunch and he staggered back. She jumped up into a standing position. Then she kicked put with her right leg, straight into his groin and he emitted a roar of agony.
Kiara drew a dagger from her belt with the speed of a storm, thunder crackled in the distance and she flung her weapon with force. It found its mark in the man’s abdomen and he died on the spot.
The supernaturals were all gone and only Riley and Kiara remained.
He sheathed his sword and came over. “Are you alright?”
She nodded and retrieved her own blades. “Yeah, I’m fine. You?”
“Honestly, I’m a bit shaken. But okay.”
She looked up into his soft honey eyes and fell into him with a hug. His arms came up around her and she smiled despite the situation. “Thank you for saving me, Riley.”
Alexandria was a massacre.
Humans all over the city were being butchered by attackers they could not even see. Absolute chaos reigned.
To the Guardians and the supernaturals present, it was a bloody battle to the death.
Aaron, Tania and Dominic were in a close circle in the centre of everything, on the defence. The ring of zombies closing in around them was endless.
Aaron ducked a monster’s blow and slammed his hammer’s blade through its skull with as much force as he could muster. Before he had the chance to yank his weapon back, a decaying fist connected with his jaw. Despite the lack of pain, the sheer force sent him flying. He crashed down hard, his weapon clattering to the ground with him.
A wave of zombies bore down on him, mindlessly ripping into his flesh to no effect. He kicked and punched with as much ferocity as he could manage, but it was futile against the supernaturals.
And then fingers lodged into his chest. Through his flesh and between his ribs.
The creature responsible sneered at him and closed its grip around his heart. Excruciating, gut-wrenching agony ripped through every inch of Aaron’s body and a horrible scream tore from his throat. Blood pounded in his ears.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
His vision swam with tears and he dangled at the edge of consciousness. This was it. He was out of the fight.
Instead, the pressure eased. The pain disappeared.
His eyes fluttered open to see Tania hovering over him. Her blonde hair was billowing out behind her, her hunting knives were gripped tight and she was spattered crimson with enemy blood. She was magnificent.
Tania reached down to help him up, but was snatched back with sudden violence. A zombie’s rotting claws were tangled in her hair and it was ramming her back and forth viciously.
A sword flashed forward and dismissed the girl’s assailant. Dominic was behind the blow.
The vampire assisted Aaron into a standing position and looked out over the sea of enemies, his expression dire. “We’re losing.”
The enemy was on them again, multiplying by the second. Zombies were pouring in through the warlock’s portal. Some of them preyed on the city’s citizens. The others headed straight for the Guardians and their supernatural companion.
Then, a miracle happened.
Reinforcements appeared right in the middle of the battle. It was Xavier and, with him, Savanna, Trish, Asha, Stella and three other girls Aaron didn’t recognise.
The fresh Guardians nodded at their bloody comrades in greeting and then started fighting immediately. Aaron breathed a sigh of relief…
Only to see Savanna racing towards Dominic’s back with her spear’s hawthorn shaft raised and ready to strike. Before even thinking, he jumped in between them and threw his hammer up to block the redhead’s blow. “Savanna, stop! He’s on our side. He’s one of us.”
Her expression was that of bewildered confusion as her eyes flashed from Aaron to the vampire. But after a few seconds, she nodded and moved on.
Dominic spun and realised what had just occurred. His gaze went straight to his saviour’s and his feline features lit up with the faintest of smiles.
He didn’t have to say a word. Aaron returned the grin and then turned back to face the zombies with newfound hope.
Kiara and Riley were suddenly flung against the Valley National Bank’s outer wall by an invisible force.
Tiberius was the one responsible. He paced up and down in front of the two Guardians, the portal at the other side of the street bathing him in glorious blue light.
The warlock’s violet eyes lit up as he grinned with cruelty. “I’ve been waiting for you, Kiara… The last time we met, you tricked me. I am afraid that this time, the joke is on you. You don’t know how to use your powers. You’re helpless, Kiara.”
Kiara tried to move, but it was to no avail. Tiberius had them trapped. She clenched her jaw. “So, what; are you just going to rip our hearts out?”
He chuckled coldly. “Don’t be ridiculous. If I killed you, I would have both sides of the supernatural world hunting me. I’m smarter than that. Slow torture is a much better option-’’
Riley struggled furiously, a murderous expression on his features. “Let us go, you filthy-’’ The rest of his words disappeared. His mouth moved but no sound came out.
Kiara’s eyes widened and her blood boiled with rage. “What did you do to him?”
Tiberius shrugged his broad shoulders. “I shut him up. He’s very annoying. Anyway, about my plans for you… See, I think you’d be able to withstand whatever I throw at you. But if I were to torture this boy here, I wager that it would be much worse for you.”
“Torture? We’re Guardians, asshole.”
The dark-skinned supernatural headed over to Riley and sneered, “There are spells that can hurt even a Guardian. Trust me; it’ll hurt like the flames of Hell itself.”
The fire in her veins turned to ice. “No. No. Tiberius, please. Please! Do anything you want with me. But please don’t harm Riley.”
“Your selflessness is very endearing, but, unfortunately, it has no effect on me. Don’t worry, I’ll return his voice in order for you to hear his screams.” Tiberius turned his gaze to Riley. “Shall we begin, then?”
Stella’s voice rang out over the din of battle, her expression that of absolute horror.
Trish McCartney was on the ground, a pool of her own blood gathering around her. Her chest was open, a gaping hole. And her heart had been ripped out.
She was the third Guardian to fall that day. The rest weren’t far behind.
Tania let out a sob as she hacked into yet another zombie. She was tired. She was done. They were dying and all she wanted to do was curl up into a ball and cry.
She faced Aaron and dropped her knives. “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.”
His dark eyes were pleading as he said, “Please don’t give up. You have to keep fighting. That’s the only chance of survival. I can’t lose you, Tania. Please.”
She retrieved her weapons and snarled in frustration. “What the hell are Kiara and Riley doing?”
Riley was screaming.
Blood-curling, mind-throbbing, agonising screams.
Tiberius’s invisible magic was digging around in the Guardian’s chest, twisting and toying with his heart. Riley’s face was red with the pressure, his veins bulging unnaturally. He was on the ground and writhing in agony.
Kiara tried to turn her face away, but the force holding her to the wall would not allow it.
She clenched her hands into fists and scrunched her eyes shut. Tears streamed down her face like waterfalls. She couldn’t take it. She couldn’t handle Riley’s pain. She couldn’t. She couldn’t.
“Please!” Her voice came out in a harsh shout, almost ripping her throat apart. “Please, stop.” A sob tore through her. “I’ll do anything… I’ll do anything you want. Just stop. Please.” The last part was a desperate whisper.
The warlock looked up with an expression of triumph. “Alright, I’ll stop. But before I do, you should know that I plan on killing him.”
Tiberius moved his hand and Riley’s body convulsed. “Such a fragile heart. So easy to rip out.”
Kiara struggled. Protested. Kicked. Screamed. She couldn’t get loose. Wept. Trembled. Riley was dying. He was dying and she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Please. Please! I have to be able to do something. I can’t do any of this without him. Please.
And then it happened.
A strange feeling surged through her. The same sensation she’d had at Rodas Gianakos’s and with the Triabus witches.
A part of her knew what she had to do and knew that she had the ability to do it. Power coursed through her veins and then left her body.
Tiberius staggered back as if he had been shot, gaping. He sank to his knees and clutched his stomach. His eyes flashed as he looked at Kiara. “What did you do?”
Her invisible captor disappeared and she fell to the ground. Kneeling, she looked down at her quivering hands and shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Suddenly, a blinding white light poured out of him, tearing him apart. She closed her eyes as the light grew in intensity and size. It enveloped the warlock completely.
And disappeared, taking Tiberius with it.
Kiara panted and looked down at herself again. She frowned. A rinsing spell.
“…Today, I would like to discuss how Sagae can use their abilities to kill other supernaturals. Their first choice would be a rinsing spell. This obliterates all the evil inside a being. Now, since these creatures are of demonic origin, when you demolish the evil part of them, there is nothing left that can sustain life.”
A blonde in the front row raised her hand and Xavier nodded. “Asha?”
“Aren’t only Greater Witches able to extract evil from a soul?”
“That is correct…”
Only Greater Witches.
Then she remembered Riley. She crawled over to him and flung herself down to embrace him. And she cried. She sobbed and sobbed until every emotion inside her was out.
“I’m so sorry, Riley. I’m so sorry about what he did to you. Are you okay?”
They straightened into a sitting position and he draped a weak arm around her. “I’ll be alright.” His expression changed to something between awe and fear. “Kiara, did you just cast a-’’
“Please don’t tell anyone,” she pleaded before he could finish.
His honey-coloured eyes bore into hers for a moment of silence and then he nodded. Riley leaned his head back against the wall, still breathing harshly. “We did it.” The relief in his voice was soothing, a glass of water in the desert. “You did it, Kiara. You saved the world.”
The words set in and she couldn’t help but grin broadly. “Yeah.”
The Supernatural Files
Origin: Corpses bitten by Estries or other vampires.
Diet: Vampires live on human or animal blood.
Abilities: They are supernaturally fast and strong, they heal instantly and they are immortal.
Residential preference: None With cats (Lots of cats) Identification: Vampires have small fangs and beautiful eyes *Virgins are able to sense the presence of these creatures.
Methods of killing: Vampires turn to ash if their chests are exposed to sunlight. They can also be killed with a hawthorn stake through the heart.
Other: Vampires must be invited onto holy ground and they are allergic to wild rose. The sun does not harm those who live on animal blood alone. Vampires are obsessed with counting.
NOT ALL VAMPIRES AE BAD. REFERENCE:DOMINIC QUENTIN.