As Isaac Castro walked down a concrete road from the cemetery, his whole body thrummed with the blood of the teenagers.
For nearly a century, he had waited for the moment when he could drink in the fresh air of the outside world. That tomb was hell, an endless resting place of his cycles of deaths and rebirths.
When those teenagers opened the coffin, it seemed like God decided to give him a chance to live again. The diabolical plan and his hatred was forgotten then as he rushed to freedom.
Better yet, maybe the devil wanted him to play games with the life of Independence.
The graveyard, which Isaac knew as Independence’s family cemetery, was a few miles out of city limits. Isaac could see the town’s lights on the horizon as he continued to walk the concrete road. The moon perched high in the sky above the city and the forest surrounding Isaac.
The forest rustled with nightlife. Isaac could hear the pattering heartbeats of small animals and the movement of several predators as they hunted their prey. Something distinctly different stood out from all the sounds of the woods. Footsteps, Isaac noticed, were audible, though soft.
Isaac halted in the middle of the road. A scent soon followed the sounds of footsteps as the sound grew. He looked in the direction of the sound and stalked forward.
As Isaac reached the first line of trees, the footsteps stopped.
There was a lethargic, thick heartbeat that accompanied the footsteps, which was a dead-giveaway that it was one of Isaac’s kind.
Maybe it was one of the vampires sanctioned to watch Isaac’s prison cell.
Isaac smiled and headed toward the scent which still hung in the air. Though the footsteps were gone, the smell was not and once his stalker found he was noticed by Isaac, he turned on his heels and ran. in the opposite direction.
Isaac sprinted after the stalker, swerving around trees and jumping over bushes and rocks.
The stalker took a left turn around a large oak, hoping to stump Isaac.
Isaac easily made the turn, gaining speed as he jumped off a rock, landing a few feet behind the vampire.
The vampire, a male, looked only a few years older than the teenagers Isaac killed. He was small in physique, but taller than Isaac. He peaked over his shoulder and seeing Isaac, tried speeding up. He wheezed, as if running was effort for a vampire, and stumbled just as Isaac caught hold of his jacket’s flying bottom.
Isaac rolled with him.
The vampire screeched and flailed his hands. One of them caught across Isaac’s side, snagging in his old clothes, and slashed across Isaac’s ribcage.
Isaac roared and punched the vampire in the head, dazing him long enough for Isaac to lock the vampire’s arms behind him. Isaac yanked one of the arms, pulling it out of its socket.
“Please—don’t—” the vampire said through his screams.
Isaac laughed, almost flabbergasted. “A vicious vampire, begging to live?”
What a joke, he thought, as he continued to pull the arm farther out of its place. Within a few seconds, the tendons in the arm snapped, and it came off of the vampire torso. Blood rushed out of the wound, almost like a waterfall.
The vampire’s mouth hung open as he choked on his own scream. His other arm went around to hold the wound.
Isaac was forgotten through the vampire’s pain. He grabbed the vampire by the head and turned him to look Isaac in the eyes.
“You one of their cronies?” Isaac asked. He watched as the vampire’s face continued to twist in pain as the vampire focused on his lost arm. Isaac slapped the vampire across the face. “Snap out of it.”
The vampire stopped moving and stared at Isaac with wide eyes. “I—I—”
“You are, aren’t you?”
The vampire nodded, gritting his teeth to hold down another sob of pain.
“Good.” Isaac planted his foot on the chest of the vampire and shoved him to the ground.
The vampire tried to move out of the hold, but Isaac reached forward, caught the vampire by the jaw, and pulled until the top of his head separated from the bottom.
Isaac stepped back and admired his work, wiping his bloodied hands on his pants. The smell of rotting flesh and bones already emanated from the body as the deterioration process of a vampire’s dead body was quick. Isaac then turned from the dead vampire and continued toward town, grinning.
Soon, the vampire’s companions would find his body.
● ● ●
Dante Welshan considered his meeting with Valeria Castro pleasant. It could have been worse, he thought. She could’ve thrown things at him, said how much she hated him, and God knew what else.
However, the vampires with Dante thought the opposite.
“How dare she?!” A female by the name of Morgana said. She, a self-proclaimed groupie of the Duke, hovered by Dante night and day, smothering him with bitter sweetness. Morgana waited for the day that Dante took her as a consort.
A day which would never happen.
The vampires’ small government was an iconic one. There was the Prince, which held court over a large area of land and vampires, then the Dukes, and then their lackeys. One’s logic would be that if they were close to the Duke, then they would be closer the Prince. Many of Dante’s subjects had that mindset, to his misfortune.
Dante sighed, watching as everyone around him complained.
“That little bitch.” Morgana continued as she leaned over Dante’s armrest. “Master, we must do something about this witch.”
“Valeria Castro will not be touched,” Dante said over the conversations and with a wave of his hand, he silenced the crowd, who all bowed their heads to his command. “Our worries aren’t her right now. She can’t do anything in our fortress.”
“Of course.” Conner, Dante’s right-hand, nodded. “Our worry right now is Isaac.”
Yes, Isaac. That psychotic, raving bloodsucker had to be taken care of.
“Alert the police. Make sure they get the humans out of the way.” Dante stood out of his chair. “It’s time to go hunting.”
As a major contributor to Independence’s democratic government, the vampire clan had ties with both the police and the chair members of the town board. Not many humans knew of the vampires, but those who did feared them—that included the police force and politicians; which meant that when Dante had a command, the human politicians and officers followed it.
Without another word, the clan members jumped into action.
Dante watched as Conner gave several orders to various people, sending them on their way.
Conner, Dante’s favorite sired, had been with Dante since the beginning of his career as the vampire Duke of Independence and the surrounding area. The vampiric Prince of Virginia granted him the title, land, and control of the vampires within the land’s perimeter.
Just as he was presented with the new leadership, Dante stumbled over Conner Forbes, damaged from World War II and sick from infection, and gave him the chance of immortality. Since then, Conner, known as Dante’s secondhand, was his second-in-charge, his beta. Dante couldn’t have asked for a better soldier.
“What do we do with the sorceress while we are out?” Conner asked Dante as the room cleared out.
Dante sighed. That was a good question. Though sweet and naïve, Valeria Castro could be a force to be reckoned with when angry. If he left her alone in that room with little to no security, there would be a chance that they would be looking around the entire estate and town for her after a few hours.
“Call for the girls.” These women were the strongest female front to contain Valeria that Dante knew of. The group consisted of his adopted daughter Korinna and two vampiresses, Lottie Mason and Trisha Vega. Twelve years ago, Dante found the little Korinna, abandoned by her parents; alone, sickly, starving, and harboring strange powers unknown to him at the time. He took the girl in and Korinna became his foster child. It was later that Dante found out what she was—and why she had been abandoned. A succubae-human half-breed, dumped on the side of the road by her human mother in terror.
Korinna grew to be best friends with the two vampiresses, and they became both sisters and mothers to her. Lottie and Trisha were experts at babysitting after raising Korinna, which was exactly what Dante needed at the moment.
Conner pulled out his smartphone and dialed a number. Lottie’s voice picked up the call and Conner gave the order, hanging up after a short moment.
Dante led him out of the throne room and headed the garage. There the clan kept all of their hunting equipment, vehicles, and weapons. He knew that if he was going to hunt Isaac, he couldn’t do it without a little extra help.
Just a few yards ahead of the garage’s entrance, Korinna lounged on an ottoman that decorated the hallway.
Dante’s pace faltered. He sensed Conner’s grin at his frustration as he sighed and approached her.
“I smelled a witch in the manor,” Korinna said. Though young, she was an enchanting specimen. Aging as a human, she had the body of a twenty-one-year-old and the attitude of a sixteen-year-old. With long hair the color of a raven’s feather, porcelain skin, and bright, liquid magnesium eyes, Korinna could haunt any man’s dream—until she opened her mouth.
“Why’s there a witch?” Korinna asked
“Something’s happened.” Dante didn’t want Korinna to know too much. Knowing her, if he gave her enough time, she could talk it out of him. “I don’t have time.”
“What?” Korinna blinked, stunned once Dante walked past her. She followed after him and Conner, too curious for her own good. Her hand caught the edge of Dante’s leather jacket, pulling on him.
“Kori—” Dante stopped himself before he yelled at her. “Look, I have business to attend to. Lottie is supposed to come get you and take you somewhere.” He pried her hand off of his clothing and reached the garage’s doors.
Dante shoved the door open and continued into the garage, but not before throwing a glance over his shoulder at Korinna, who moved on to entice Conner for information.
Conner gulped and averted his eyes when Korinna crossed her arms and emphasized the curves of her breasts that showed through her top with a few buttons undone. Her eyes flashed as she trailed a finger down his jaw.
“So, what’s going on, Conner?” Korinna asked.
Dante pinched the bridge of his nose and inhaled. “Kori.”
“Yes, daddy?” She only called Dante that when she wanted something. Why Korinna was so interested in this, Dante hadn’t the slightest clue. She would meet the sorceress soon enough.
“Korinna, just go to your room. Leave us.”
She pulled away from Conner with reluctance and with a jutted out bottom lip, left the area.
“Train wreck,” Conner muttered.
Dante didn’t comment. Instead, he headed towards his black SUV.
“Get the blessed blades,” Dante said. These swords, which were blessed by a Catholic priest, would sear the skin of any inhuman creature that it came in contact with.
Conner grabbed the weapons, which glowed only in the eyes of those who saw through the Veil, and climbed into the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Dante sat in the passenger’s side, waiting for his second-hand. Conner pulled out of the garage, entering the large courtyard of the manor, and headed towards the gates. A crowd of hunting parties waited there for orders and parted ways for their car.
“Tonight’s going to be long,” Dante muttered to Conner before exiting the car. Once out, he shouted orders to his hunting parties.
All bowed in obedience before running off through the gates. Groups sectioned off from that point and disappeared into the dark forest.
When Conner and Dante were the last ones in the yard, they both climbed back into the car.
Dante sighed. “Drive.”