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Dust By Dawn

By J. Howlett E. R. All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Fantasy


The time was ten past eight in the evening. Stars decorated the night's dark tresses to give the appearance of a bejeweled veil, with the thin, low moon an eye squinting over the city. Five young men walked the streets in a line spread across the road from pavement to pavement. Any onlooker would be stunned by their cane-straight backs and the way in which they appeared to glide over the ground. 

"That was a good haul last night," commented one in a voice smoother than water. "Seven new recruits - a record made."

"It should have been twelve," snapped another, swiveling his head around so eyes blacker than coal could glare at the shortest member of the group, who walked to his right. Chin-length hair framed his face, which under the passing light of a streetlamp was shown to be classically handsome. 

The man on his left protested as they turned a corner in synchronisation. "It's not our fault we were thirsty." His words pierced the December air like thorns.

"Three of us can control our bloodlust," the man with eyes of coal said sharply. "You-"

He was silenced by a quiet hiss. Together, they halted instantly. "I smell blood. Fresh blood." The murmur rose from the barely moving lips of the one who had spoken first, and was quickly snatched by the strengthening wind.

A man with thick black hair sighed heavily from the edge of the line. "Here we go again," he muttered. "Ace, can't you-" 

"Shh. It's coming from the alley down there. Ace, let's split up. By the smell of them there are two mortals hiding there. One each, let's go." Both of those with the bloodlust sped off towards the afore-mentioned alley with such speed that they were gone in the blink of an eye, leaving two large gaps in the original line.

The three left behind exchanged glances that could have cut through glass. "If they can't control themselves, we'll run out of mortals to recruit," one muttered.

Two screams pierced the air, but shortly stopped.

The only one who had not yet spoken now broke his silence, light eyes sparking dangerously. "Why does it matter to someone who never gets his own fangs bloody?"

The accused shrugged. "Drake and Zephyra won't be pleased with them."

Before another word could be spoken, the man who stood in the middle growled as his head snapped upwards. Glaring sightlessly at the stars above, neither of the men either side of him dared move while he received his commands from Zephyra. Once released, he led the other two straight to the alley where Ace and Zaen were crouched like animals over the bodies of their prey. Upon Oskar's arrival, their heads shot up. Fresh blood dripped from their fangs, splattering the ground below. 

"Ace. Zaen. Zephyra wants us back at base. Now."

Zaen's eyes were a raw, bright red. "What does she want this time?" His growl was guttural and there was not a question in them. His meal had been interrupted - he was angry.

Oskar's eyes didn't stray from Zaen, though every instinct was driving him to join the other predator. "Too many recruits are being dusted by the slayers who recently moved into town," he answered emotionlessly. "Zephyra wants us to do something about it."

Zaen and Ace were on their feet in the blink of an eye, leaving their victims to bleed on the cobbled ground. "We get to bite slayers?"  Ace checked. His voice was thick and his eyes as red as Zaen's, but excitement lit his tone.

Oskar narrowed his eyes to slits. "No. They arrived at the beginning of September and have been staking nearly more recruits than we can bite - however recently they stopped slaying. Zephyra thinks they have a plan and she wants us to find out what. Then we can bite them."

"Bring it on," Zaen snarled eagerly. "It's been too long since I tasted slayer blood."

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1. Prologue
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