The wreckage of the last human village, that I knew of, stood at my feet. Well, it didn’t stand anymore, it was in pieces. The silver was busted up and most of it was stolen. The pieces that stayed whole were probably hidden underground somewhere that humans can’t use it against the beasts anymore.
The people that took me in scavenged as much of the silver as they could, said it was for Blacksmith, or whatever. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I would stay with them. Seeing my father still alive was giving me hate-filled dreams and I didn’t want them to prolong.
The red cloak around me billowed in the sudden wind that blew past us. I didn’t need an oxygen mask anymore when I was out in the open too long. Howl took care of that now, I was thankful now, for what Artemis did for me. It’s taken a few weeks but I can see the appeal of being a shifter.
That’s what Hera the great calls us. We’re the only two, and technically we aren’t human. I was still digesting that notion. As far as I knew, when I was in the shifted state, I am Howl. But when I shift back, as Hera puts it, I am a human again with some of the benefits of being a shifter. Strength like I’ve never been able to have before. Sharper sight, for seeing in the dark and far off without a hitch. A heightened hearing, that took a good while for me to get under control. Last but not least, the ability to feel my way around with only the touch of my hands and the sense in my head.
It would only get better, Hera told me, I’ll become used to the sensation of feeling for things before they happen, knowing almost three moves ahead of anyone I’m fighting. That part will take some training but I was actually looking forward to it.
I turned and faced the direction of the tree line that separated the remains of my former village and “The Master’s” kingdom. I had a plan, one that used every crazy notion I could think of, and very little other people to help me pull it off. I only needed two others.
Donovan knew the halls of the castle, he had been taking notes for the week he was turning. Though very painful, he still pushed himself to keep to his old ways. I was almost proud of him but there is a piece of me that didn’t want to trust his new nature. The nature of him being a vampire and being something that goes against everything I’ve ever been taught. But he wanted to help, he wanted to help so bad that he made me this new cloak. Unfortunately, he knew how to get on my good side.
Then there’s Hera, a woman I still knew very little about and barely knew where she got her name. She’s mentioned that she’s much older than her appearances show and Hera isn’t her original name. She earned it, as I’ve earned my nickname, The Slayer, but it was a story for another time and I understood her. She wanted to help me get to the master’s room so I could finish this war the right way. Killing him, and the followers that took my village.
It wasn’t the best plan but it would work in a pinch and we were setting off in the brightest time of day. I knew they had something that allowed them to touch silver and possibly walk in the light, but I also knew that they didn’t have much of whatever it is that gave them this power. If they had enough of it, the vampires would be crawling all over without the cover of night.
“Are you ready?” Hera’s voice woke me from my daydream. I looked over my shoulder to see her dressed to the nines in stuff I’ve never seen on her before. Granted, I’ve known her for maybe a month. I completely turned to her and saw her holding something out to me.
“You left quickly this morning and didn’t get the chance to visit with Charlie.”
“Who’s Charlie again?” I asked her, knowing she’s mentioned him, her crush on him, and other things that I couldn’t really remember at the moment.
“The workman in the basement, I’ll introduce you later. Here, it’s the same suit as I have. Wear it under your normal clothes and keep your cloak on. When you shift you’ll be covered after you shift back. The material absorbs into your skin. It’s very advanced.” She cooed over the material in her hands and I looked at it funny. Would it really work? I didn’t have an issue with being nude after my shift, plus the new cloak Donovan made for me was big enough to keep on while I was in either form. But if it was an advancement, I may as well use it.
Before reaching out for the new garment, I began to strip my everyday shirt and pants off while keeping the crimson cloak in place. The scavengers around us had disappeared without me realizing it. I guess they got enough things before heading back. I quickly slipped into the suit and it amazing pressed against my skin before almost melting with it. I looked at my arms where the material laid and saw a slight shine to the material. It was black, one of my favorite colors, and it sat on my skin as if it was apart of me.
“This is trippy, what is it made of?” I asked her while putting on my normal clothes over the new material. It didn’t even feel like there was something else on my body.
“You may not want to know that, just yet, let’s get us in that castle. I’ll shift and lead the way, but first, we have a gift for you. Since your dagger was damaged in the fight, we made a new weapon for you. It will take some getting used to, but it’s deadly.” I cocked my head to the side and watched her pull something long and shiny out of the bag she was carrying with her. I didn’t notice it before, but it was a very long duffle bag.
When the glint of a silver sword came into view I nearly lost my breath. I didn’t know there was enough silver in the world to make something like this. My dagger came from my grandmother who saved up enough silver to make it, along with the ruby. Now, the sword laying in my left hand held the ruby near the end of the hilt.
“This is amazing, how did you get enough silver for it?” I asked her with wonder in my voice for the first time.
“We had a small supply, but the amount we were able to find in the dirt along the way to the village was enough. This wasn’t our first trip out here since the dome was destroyed.” She explained.
I didn’t need another explanation, this sword was worth every word.
I held the sword out with my good hand and sliced it through the air. I loved the feeling of a long sword, not too long, I didn’t need to use both hands. I wouldn’t have been able to anyway, with it being missing. It would take some time to get used to but I could use enough brute force for the time being. Learning to dance with it would take more time than I have right now.
“I have something to tell you, the master’s queen will be waking soon. Her healing has taken a long time, I’m not sure of the details but Donovan heard from other vampires that she would be making her debut shortly.” I was busy staring at my sword to really pay attention but I knew what she was saying.
“Let’s get this over with, I want his head on my wall.” I grabbed the sheath for the sword from her and allowed her to help belt it to my waist. I covered the sword on my hip and covered myself with the cloak again.
“I’ll run ahead and clear your path, you shouldn’t have any trouble but they have guards at the front at all times. The shades keep them out of the sun’s rays. Pull up the back and head to the hall Donovan noted on the plans.” She took the lead for the time being and I let her. The slight pop of her bones told me she shifted and soon a glorious tiger took her place.
She told me earlier that her tiger’s name is Babur, she’s only told me a few stories about her but I couldn’t wait to hear more. I was very intrigued by the notion of her being a tiger as well. I’m still not completely over Howl being apart of me, I guess seeing her as a tiger helps a bit.
I nodded to Babur and she set off. She was fast, but I was right behind her on two legs.
There wasn’t much in our way, the tree line opened to the field I died in nearly a month ago. The grass had dried and turned yellow since then. The seasons are changing and I would have the world’s freedom before it became too cold.
Soon the sound of my feet and her claws landed on the first stone landing before the outer stairs. Babur skidded to a stop and looked around for the guards that should be standing in the shade. When she spotted two of them making their way toward us, she didn’t waste another second of time. The growl that tore through her body could make the toughest make bend to a knee. The sound of her teeth ripping into the bodies of the vampires made me smile. There was just something I really liked about that tiger, and killing vampires is just the start.
Once my cover was secured, I took the stone steps three at a time and made my way to the front entrance. I knew taking this door would be the worst idea, so I asked Donovan to secure a different entrance for me, and if he came through the spot should be opening in about...Now.
The sound of a small door opening just to the right of the main doors made me come out of the sights I had set elsewhere. I watched Donovan slowly open the door, making sure he didn’t get a single ray of sunlight on his precious skin. He met my sight and I quickly made it through the door. It was substantially smaller than the main entrance, I believed it was used for servants, but I could be wrong.
“Took you long enough, the main servants will be waking in an hour.” He yelled at me in hushed tones that only made me roll my eyes. I didn’t come on his command and I never would.
“Where does the master sleep?” I asked him as we slowly walked hall to hall making sure we didn’t get lost and didn’t step into a hall that had people in it already.
“Most residences of this main castle stay asleep until the sun begins to set, the servants have to rise an hour before that. They prepare the food for the day and the rooms for meetings, feedings, and other things.” When he mentioned feedings my skin puckered a little bit. I wasn’t sure why a word like that would make it crawl so much but I didn’t like it. Picturing Donovan among other vampires feeding off the humans they keep for only that purpose made me want to barf.
He stopped and I followed after suddenly wobbling on my feet. I thought someone may have been in the hall in front of us but when he turned back to me, I knew we had arrived at the right room.
“His room is at the end of the hall, but I need to warn you. His queen is rumored to be the one with the special blood. She’s the one that gave her blood so that they could touch silver and walking the light. It’s experimental at best, but once she’s completely healed then there won’t be any stopping them. You need to take care of his queen just as you do him.” He had a good point, if she was the source of their new abilities, then I would need to kill her as well.
“There’s one more thing,” He stopped me before I tried to move past him.
“I’ve heard horrible things about the queen when she was more alive and completely healed. She’s been around longer than you have, and there’s a rumor that she’s still completely human. Her debut is supposed to be her turn date. If she becomes a vampire then her blood will strengthen ten fold. I haven’t seen her personally, but if she’s good enough for Ba’al to keep her around, then she’s probably worse than him.” I took his words to heart, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I wanted to pretend that it was like any other attempt on his life, but it wouldn’t be.
This would be his end and my beginning.
I moved past Donovan who stayed in the hall for me, I would need his cover to help get back out of the castle. I straightened out and squared my shoulders before moving to the door that held me back from the master and his queen. I steadied my hand as it reached for the golden doorknob. One slow twist and I had the door opening slowly.
The room before me was as gaudy as I could have pictured. Crimson material draped across nearly every surface. There were two vanities in the right-hand side of the room. I slowly walked across the plush black carpet and made my way to the center of the room where the massive bed laid. The cascading red netting over the mattress made it hard to see who was laying on the bed until I got up to the side. I could see Ba’al laying on the left side, closet to the door. I slowly unsheathed my new sword and pulled back the netting with the tip.
I didn’t let him open his eyes before I pointed the tip of the blade towards his chest. He would be someone that laid without a shirt like the dramatic monster he truly is. Had he been a human when I knew him, he would be the worst kind. The ones I’ve read about in the books of my former home made me want to throw the pages across the room in disgust. Looking at him now, I knew he was something vile in another life.
I wasted no more time with thinking about how horrible he is and instead began to pierce his chest with the tip of my new blade.
It didn’t take long before he woke up with a start. He truly didn’t know I wasn’t in his room? What a stupid vampire.
“You vile little-”
“Ah ah ah, let’s not talk too loud. We wouldn’t want to wake the rest of your castle up for them to see their master dying at the hands of a lowly human.” I reminded him of his place, right under the tip of my sword. I pushed it further in, drawing blood and stabbing what used to be his heart. I could hear the faint sound of his blood sizzling on the silver of the blade. His eyes bore into my own, I could see the blood vessels beginning to expand and pop under the pressure of the silver coursing through his blood.
The sword ran him through the chest near the hilt. The woman next to him hadn’t woken up yet, and the white dressing she was adorned in made it seem as if she was a ghost.
“You won’t win this, young slayer,” His last words spurted out of his mouth along with a bit of blood.
“I don’t want to win this anymore, I just want your head.” I pushed the last bit of the sword into his chest and watched the last of his life drain from his eyes. His body became stiff and unmoving, as most vampires were, but this time he didn’t show any signs of extra life.
Ba’al is dead. The master is no more, now for his queen.
I pulled my blade from his chest and wiped it down on the sheet under him. Pushing myself to the other side of the bed, I watched the white dressed body begin to stir. I wasn’t sure how much she has seen, but she didn’t try and stop me, so I can assume her healing wasn’t quite finished.
I pushed the netting back on this side of the bed and looked the queen to the master over from her covered head and face down to the toes that just slightly poked out of the edge of her white dressing gown. I reached down to uncover her face, I wanted her to see me take her life along with the man that promised her the world.
I used the tip of the sword to slowly pull down the white sheet covering her face, but the second that face came into view, my sword fell from my left hand.
The woman slowly sat up in the bed, using one of her healed elbows for support. Her eyes set on mine and I could see why they needed her to heal. There were burn scars stretching from her face down her chest and to places I couldn’t see. But that wasn’t the shocking part.
“Hello Darlin’,” Her voice was just as I remembered it.
“Mother,” It was the only word that slipped past my lips as I slowly walked back from the bed where she was laying in wait. Nothing made sense anymore, and my world was beginning to spin out of control.
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