Chapter 87 - Sarah
They were four days from the coast when they spotted five of the creatures - the plague was spreading. The girls looked at Marcus, and they knew he thought this might be a trap. They were hungry, and he could feel their hunger. They were still so young, only babies, and these creatures could test their skills, but also fill their bellies.
“Go,” Marcus commanded, and they moved away from each other, keeping low. Alena revealed herself, and the creatures attacked her, but they only saw Rowan when it was far too late.
The creatures stood no chance, their strength, speed, talons, and viciousness made no impression. They girls outmatched them and revealed their lack of skill.
Only one put up any resistance. Alena and Rowan herded him toward Marcus. It didn’t realize they were herding it until Marcus appeared in its line of sight.
Marcus caught it, but he didn’t kill it. He just prevented it from moving as he choked it.
“Where is your master?” Marcus demanded, and the creature spat at him.
“Come,” he bade the women, and they did. He watched them feed, watched them kill, and admitted that they were as ready as he could make them in the short time they had.
The moon was out bright and low. He decided to take a rest before they continued, and they barely settled when he heard a small noise that was out of place. The girls were coiled, ready to attack, and waiting for his order.
The humans came quietly and swiftly onto the field of battle among the boulders. Marcus admitted to himself that their victory and feeding had dulled their senses. It was a small stab at their complacency.
It took him only a moment to recognize Byron’s daughter. She took in the carnage they had wrought, and even though the three vampires were covered in the blood of the creatures from which they had just fed, her gaze lingered on the dead beasts with distaste and venom. Sarah tried to veil the hatred she felt from the vampires, but not quickly enough.
Only one of the three humans stared at Marcus, Alena, and Rowan with fear and disgust. They did not recognize him, but Sarah and Jack watched him intently as if they were trying to gauge his reaction.
“Sarah?” Marcus asked calmly, and she turned her back on the boy.
“Master?” You could see Byron in her, but she had a striking beauty that she must have inherited from her mother.
“We were bringing your supplies, and we lost a horse to those,” Sarah motioned with her hand.
“They revealed themselves to you?” Marcus asked, and she shook her head.
“No, but I’ve seen them before,” Sarah admitted. He knew what the undertone in her voice revealed as she looked away from the headless bodies.
“We brought water and clean clothes,” Sarah offered with just that same Byron tone they all knew and had missed.
“Jack, Louis, drag those bodies into that shallow crevice and cover them with rocks,” Sarah ordered with the same take-charge attitude as her father. Jack obeyed her, but Louis backed away and then started to run.
“Shite,” Sarah mouthed, and Jack made to go after him.
“No,” she denied, and he stopped. She was quite impressive, and Marcus knew he did the right thing by allowing Byron to choose his crew. It gave Sarah a place and a purpose in this male world. “I’ll get him,” she decided and looked askance at Marcus. He nodded.
They helped Jack clear away the bodies before they washed and dressed. Jack brought a small parcel of things he retrieved from the bodies and still, Sarah did not return.
Rowan glanced at Marcus with worry, but he shook his head. Sarah could be in danger, but he didn’t think she would appreciate a babysitter either.
She returned just as they finished saddling the horses they liberated from the creatures. She looked grim, and she led the horse she took with her.
“He fell into the ravine,” Sarah explained, but there was no blame in her voice or on her face, just anger.
“Why do you blame yourself and not us?” Rowan asked with curiosity in her tone, and Sarah shrugged.
“I didn’t trust him, but I stopped my father from leaving him at the port last week. I didn’t know how much he knew or guessed and who he might tell. He didn’t know what these were, but he knew what you are,” Sarah shrugged again, but this time almost impatiently.
“There’s a cave two miles from here, Master Marcus,” Sarah changed the topic as she let her horse pick its way onto the path.
“How did you know about them?” Alena asked as she rose into the saddle, and Sarah grew pale. She was quiet so long that they were all mounted and threaded out behind her before she spoke quietly.
“They killed my mother, brother, fiancé, and everybody I knew. They left me for dead, but my father found me,” Sarah admitted.
“He nursed me back to life and took me on his ship even though the owner threatened to relieve him of his duty,” she informed them.
“I sailed with him for two years before we ran into the pirates. The crew blamed me, and the three female slaves in the gully for their misfortune. They considered women aboard a ship as bad luck. I’m guessing the pirates found that out the hard way,” Sarah’s face became set in stone then. It explained a lot about Byron and Sarah, but not the others.
“Why were you riding at night?” Marcus asked.
“My father sent us in all haste. He gathered some disturbing news, and it would be better if he delivered it in person,” Sarah said as she avoided a large hole and used the distraction as an excuse to move away from their probing questions.
Sarah and Jack continued past the caves, and Marcus let them take the horses with them. The vampires would travel faster on foot.
The humans were already packed and prepared to leave when the vampires appeared in the small camp that night. Sarah and Jack had traveled far, leaving themselves little time to rest.
Jack grabbed a sword, and Sarah drew a gleaming rapier from her belt before they recognized the intruders.
Sarah dressed like the vampire women in pants and a blouse with her hair plaited into a tight braid. She was smaller of built than either Alena or Rowan, but her eyes had that same ruthless cast that Byron sometimes displayed.
They already saddled the horses and after greeting each other, the five rode off together. The vampires could have moved faster over the uneven terrain on their own, but they wanted to protect the humans.