THE PALE, SCALY VAMPIRES had already drained Kyan at his wrists enough to subdue him. They dragged him through the winding tunnels. Vision hazy, veins throbbing, lips drying up, he tried to keep his mind thinking. He knew if he’d let go, he’d pass out. Possibly die. He thought of many things. He kept thinking. Thinking.
The vampires growled, and their hisses rasped against his spine like razors, scraping bone, scathing eyes. Burning. He never saw vampires like this. They seemed...serpentine. They smelled of copper. Dressed in pitch-black robes and hoods hiding their faces, he only caught glimpses of their slit, crimson eyes, slightly different from the standard feral eyes of a vampire. They were vampires nonetheless. And there were too many of them.
The world spun as they continued to drag him across the floor, sporadically placed light fixtures shining the way every few seconds. He heard water dripping. The strange, serpent-like vampires whispered to each other. Their grips closed off his circulation. Even if he wanted to fight them off, he couldn’t. They were like locusts. He never faced such tenacity before. Just four of these vampires made it difficult to fight. Even with all his lethality and skill, any sort of effort meant nothing. They had him immobilized.
Thoughts drifted fast to Alexandra...thankful that she was all right. Strange, though. It made no sense.
Why him? Why not Alexandra?
Like dreamlike flashes, he thought of her, a hunter for the Berith Lochem. His beloved team of hunters that were dedicated to the Lord and vanquishing evil had vanished in death, similar to his fate, he believed. He thought of Cardinal Felix, their liaison to the Vatican. Thought of Marcus Brennan, the college kid who found the Cain Letters, the ancient manuscript revealing the truth about vampirism. Cain, the world’s first vampire and brother of Abel. Stay alive, he thought. Stay alive. Stay alive.
Bringing him to a dark room, he struggled to take breaths. The air tasted thick and hot. Death permeated his surroundings. The vampires laid him down, still whispering to each other.
One pulled off its hood, leaning in to get a better look at him. Its face chilled him something fierce as it opened its gaping mouth wide enough to swallow his head. The hiss it sent his way was loud, voracious—deadly. A forked tongue dripped hot saliva. Its eyes burned with hunger. It grasped him by the throat with a scaly hand as the others crowded over him, pulling their hoods off as well.
Kyan’s heart raced. Struggling to breathe, he felt the world spin. A rush of calm whispers raced around his mind, like the feeling of being ushered into an ER. Flashing lights. Mutterings. As if he was being saved from death. It confused him.
Seeing their hideous faces bent reality into something hellish and terrifying. They definitely weren’t doctors. Time turned into a liquid acid burning all natural order around him. Everything. He no longer existed in the world. Instead, his private hell.
The one staring at him snatched his arm and viciously sank its jaws into his flesh—
The others writhed in ecstasy.
The shock of the impact almost drove his heart to madness. He shuddered, veins quickening, pounding and screaming inside. His skin felt like ice. Every muscle tensed hard. He felt moving any of them would snap his brittle body into pieces. The vampire’s attack felt different, though. Strange.
As a wave of numbness spread throughout his system, he realized—
The vampire wasn’t feeding. It was releasing.
The realization hit him there. That’s how they had subdued him so easily. A paralyzing venom.
Their apparent nature shocked him to horrifying curiosity; he never saw a breed like this before. Vampires with venom. That ability alone made them a terror among the darkest of creatures.
His ears started to plug up. Plug up like they did before. His tendons hardened into stone. His eyes felt like rocks in his sockets. He could only think and see. He could breathe only enough to support his lungs; but that still took a certain amount of effort.
He was paralyzed like living dead. The horror played out in his vacant eyes.
As the snakelike vampires parted ways, they revealed another towering figure. The figure wore massive steel-toe black boots, black leather pants and a blinding white v-neck ribbed sweater. With a face like an evil angel, he bent down to take a closer look at Kyan. And he writhed with passionate hunger. Kyan couldn’t do anything but watch the man’s long blonde hair stream down across Kyan’s lips. The man’s eyes were blacker than night His skin was pale. Veins popped across his face.
He smiled, tilting his head.
Although every muscle was still locked with poison, that paralyzing calm inside Kyan ebbed and was replaced with shocking horror. The man looked familiar. Surging hate spread through Kyan like smoke out into the world and destroyed the air with its poison—
He thought of Alexandra right away. Her parents. Their killer.
Inverted cross tattoos sat on each side of the vampire’s long neck. Clearer than crystal.