THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 2.4 - BLOODLESS

With a heavy sigh, Cain sat forward again and once more rifled through the portfolio. Amid the photos and notes were some newspaper and magazine snippets. He flipped through some of them, a look of agitation on his knitted brow. About a dozen different languages loomed up at him, some with blurry and questionable pictures included. “Seriously?” he asked finally, a mixture of exasperation and disappointment in his voice. “Are you telling me your suspicions are based on these?” He threw them down on the table.

Craig shunted forward and selected a few. “I can translate...” he began.

Cain stared at him, a hint of reprimand in his eyes. “It’s not the languages - I am versed in over a thousand. It’s the reliability of these...rags! They cater to an audience hungry for fantasy, playing up to their ideas of the supernatural!”

Nick could not conceal the deep offence in his voice. “We are not imbeciles, Cain. If you think we have come to you with news of your kind based on the strength of these ‘rags’ as you call them, then you have grossly underestimated our abilities and our friendship!”

Nick was not one to express annoyance often. Cain weighed up the angel’s words. He had not meant to cause insult and acquiesced with an apologetic nod.

The angel put down his glass and continued. “Not all of these are debatable sources. We followed most of them up.” He picked up one article and handed it to Cain.

The vampire’s eyes scanned it quickly as Nick related the gist of the story. “Robberies and murders are common enough worldwide, as you know. This one in Paris, from several years ago, is fairly typical, except, the victim was left practically drained. He died before medical attention could be administered.”

He placed another article in Cain’s hands. “This one in Italy, again a bloodless victim. And this one in LA...” He handed more to Cain, each and every one of the victims, sometimes entire families, left empty, drained, bloodless. Bite marks, torn throats, wrists, thighs, all, ostensibly, the work of Nosferatu, vampyr, the undead.

Nick carried on. “As you can see, these stories are awarded attention-grabbing headlines in the likes of the Enquirer, Fate and The Fortean Times because of the preternatural element or celebrity. Your more popular mainstream titles, however, make more of the fact they were robberies and murders and then dismiss the alleged cause with ‘under investigation’.”

Cain sat, silent, ingesting the stories and Nick’s explanation. He was handed one more clipping.

“As recent as 3 weeks ago...” Nick continued, “... 5 sporadic attacks were reported in the United Arab Emirates; unusual in itself considering crime rate is very low there. But, all were left the same as these others; bloodless.”

Craig then spoke. “There have always been whispers in our own ‘communities’ as well; one or two of those said whisperers are the very journalists who compiled these reports.”

Cain looked up, his expression now indifferent, without challenge.

“What Samael told you was true. We have seen the odd vampire in our time, though none seemed capable of such well-executed crimes, shall we say. Most did indeed go mad and their own kind turned on them, or else they simply lay in some dank underground cavity and withered to dust.”

Silence prevailed. In the space of two hours, since the existence of other vampires had been confirmed by his friends, Cain had undergone anticipation, hope, euphoria, disappointment, agitation, anger and now...revulsion. As if he didn’t have enough to contend with. Still, so many unanswered questions lay before him, namely, about the head of these blood-sucking despots.

He sat back once more, his mind reeling. “This leader, then. Is he just supposition?”

“No,” Craig replied, after a beat. “He is real and by all accounts, strong, not like the others.”

Cain looked at the two Fallen, waiting for them to continue. He was met by hesitation. His eyebrows cocked, an impatient display for more information.

Nick eventually obliged. “One of his brood, named Tony, spoke with a journalist friend of ours. We have since met with him too.”

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