Ashes of the Dawn

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Chapter 2

Cyrus found himself in the part of the city that lay between the highway and the Old Port. Decrepit homes and poor apartments littered this area. If memory served him right, Patrick had invested a great sum of his fortune into this area.

“Well, at least she doesn’t live in suburbia hell.” Cyrus commented.

He pulled up to the front of an old brownstone apartment building. The evidence of modern work tried to fix what years of mistreatment had done to it was clear.

From the depths of one of his pant pockets he pulled a thin and worn piece of fake leather that was supposed to pass as a decent wallet. Poor resin, sweat and pheromones that were Aria’s swirled in his nostrils. The werewolf lifted his head up a bit and took a few sniffs of the air. An onslaught of smells filled him; one of the stronger scents had hints of something metallic, like iron.

“Blood!” Cyrus said under his breath and ran into the building.

The scent became stronger as he moved up the floors; the smell lost hopes and alcohol tried to mask it. It reached its peak on the third floor. The sheer amount he could smell called to his sense of danger. He knew the likely outcome of what he ran to, but reserved a small shred of his heart for hope.

The blood was barely noticeable, anyone walking by would have not even noticed, no someone would have to know it was there. Cyrus eyes the small pool of blood that gathered under the door to 32c.

A deep breath rushed down his throat as he listened; he couldn’t hear anything move but he could smell a fresh kill. The cold metal of the doorknob turned in Cyrus’ hand with ease. He counted to three before he swung the door opened. A loud bang ringed in his ears and a pressure in his left shoulder that made him stagger back.

The werewolf shook his disorientation off and looked down at where he was hit. His royal blue cotton V-neck sweater was now stained red. He looked up to see a rather shocked man stood in the entry way. The man looked like he bathed in blood; it was even clumped in his hair.

“Clever, trick the bloodhound, eh? But why did you have to go and shoot me? My clothes aren’t cheap you know,” Cyrus said rolling up his sleeves, “You will forgive me for making your deaths painful? I hate being shot.”

“The hell are you?” the bloodied man asked in a broken voice.

“That’s a lot of stopping power to use on mortals. Which leads me to believe you were expecting someone.”

Before the gunman could react Cyrus was in front of him with a wolfish grin with a hand gripped on the arm that held the gun.

He inhaled deeply now that he was closer, “Ahh, there it is, the smell of the grave. No wonder you shot with one hand.”

Cyrus’ grin widened and his canines became more prominent, while fur started to grow and bristle. It was a delight to see the vampire put the small puzzle together.

“Oh shit, we got a –”

The vampire didn’t get to finish; Cyrus ripped his gun arm off. While the vampire wailed in pain Cyrus kicked him which sent him through the air before he crashed onto the floor. With a quick look around it was clear he wouldn’t be able to shift.

As the shrieks of pain died from the vampire they were replaced with bellows of rage. Black ribbons burst forth from him. The ribbons lunged forward at the werewolf; Cyrus managed to dodge a few while others sliced through his arms. It didn’t help he had to be mindful of the body parts strung about and the destroyed furniture.

Without hesitation Cyrus jumped over a worn bloodied sofa at the vampire which allowed the black tendrils to sheer through him like a knife through softened butter. However it looked like the only to get close to the vampire now. The vampire didn’t expect reckless action so once Cyrus was in range he slammed one of his hands onto the vampire’s face, while he jabbed two of his fingers into his eye sockets. The popped sound of the vampire’s eyes brought a smile to Cyrus.

“And here I thought you would be more of a challenge.” Cyrus said right before he dug in and ripped the top half of the vampire’s skull off with one good pull.

Cyrus looked around, “Great I can see Pat explaining this to his new guest, ‘Bad news I’m afraid, your mother is dead. Chin up she was going to die at some point.’” He said as he mimicked Patrick’s voice.

“Right need to clean my hand off and finish what I came here to do before the police decide they want to show.” He said as he moved towards kitchen area.

Patrick sat in the main drawing room and read as he waited for Cyrus to return. He shifted in his chair and casted glances up to his room. It wasn’t that humans made him ill at ease; after all, he dealt with them with his work. No, it was because this one wasn’t a power hungry shark and she saw him do something no mortal could do. He wasn’t afraid that he’d hurt her, he was afraid she’d hurt herself. Humans had always proven to be unpredictable. She might try to jump out his bedroom window even though it was two stories up. She might try to attack him, at which point he would have to get a little violent. If he was lucky she would just stay in there and not try anything brash.

Patrick heard his front door open and close, and the smell of blood carried to his nose. It wasn’t Cyrus’ but had a similar scent to Aria’s.

Must be her mother's.

He set his book down and waited for Cyrus to enter the room.

Cyrus tossed a large bag onto the sofa nearest to him as he entered. He held onto a plastic bag. Patrick could see a nice pair of dress shoes in it, clearly belonging to a woman. He looked down and noticed Cyrus’ shoes were off.

“You didn’t kill her mother, did you?” Patrick asked casually, with a raised eyebrow.

His friend looked at him wide eyed, as if he couldn’t believe he was just asked that. “No! She was dead when I got there. Blood was everywhere – so was she. I had to leave my shoes outside. That girl saw something big, I tell you. To be so brutal as to follow her scent to her home and to kill her mother?”

“Well I thank you for not tracking blood into my home, it’s a pain to get out of the carpet.” Patrick said.

“Also I think the vampire who was sent there was expecting someone he caked himself in Aria’s mother’s blood to mask his own scent.”

Patrick looked worried and shook his head into his hands. This was already spiraled into something he didn’t like, “Sweet mother of God, what was she a part of? The only thing that comes to my mind is some cult, but we cleared out the largest one in the region years ago.”

“That doesn’t mean one hasn’t risen to take its place. Pat, be on guard. They’ll more than likely follow her scent here,” Cyrus noted, as he took a seat on the sofa.

“How did things go over with the girl? You didn’t do anything stupid, did you?” Cyrus asked.

“Not as well as I hoped. I seemed to have handled it wrong,” Patrick admitted.

“Well, of course you did! I could’ve told you that; in fact I am sure I was trying to tell you such,” Cyrus said unsurprised, “Is she asleep?”

Patrick nodded.

“I am going to talk to her when she wakes. You stay out of it,” Cyrus said, as he stood. “I just decided to raid your wine cellar as a reward.”

As the hours passed, Patrick felt his power wan as a type of weariness of his own called. His mind attempted to taunt him with dreams, but all they were, were foggy memories he could no longer remember. The older a vampire got, the more reality started to slip from them and they just went mad, like their brain started to rot. He would never allow himself to fall to the rot that would render him a mindless beast; he promised himself he would go with his dignity.

It wasn’t that Patrick tried to use those memories to be better than what he was. He accepted his fate, despite haven not chosen it. He never tried to be ‘good’ as society, as mortals, would call it. He was a hunter and a killer but it didn’t mean he couldn’t be respectful about it. No, this was a more personal and selfish reason.

Patrick counted himself among the lucky; most vampires never made it to his age without some tell-tale signs of this “rot”. He was close to being a thousand years old. Normally, they only had until they were in their seven hundreds maybe eight. Now he couldn’t just up and die. It would be so cruel to leave this woman alone to the devices of the supernatural world.

“Pat,” Cyrus started to say.

Patrick had forgotten about the conversation.

Cyrus stopped what he started to say when he heard the sounds of Aria waking. He stood and headed toward Patrick’s room. “Don’t come in, got it?”

“Yes, yes, just go fix it, will you?” Patrick said annoyed. It was an embarrassment how inept he was with mortals outside of work.

Patrick tried to think of something wittier to say to his friend before he was at the stairs, but the sudden arrival of a presence had him leap to his feet instead. It was a cold and numbing, that the darkness was moving when it shouldn't. Cyrus was right, whatever Aria escaped from, came looking for her.

Cyrus stopped dead in his tracks, he could smell it rather than feel; the smell of death.

"Cyrus, we have uninvited guests," Patrick said evenly.

He looked out a window as if he could see them. "I will greet them. Continue to my room and stay there. They should not get past me.”

"Are you sure that's a good idea? I mean, you’re already getting tired, so you will be sluggish," Cyrus pointed out.

Patrick turned and glared at his friend. “These whelps dare trespass on my home and you think I will just stand idly by while someone else handles it?!”

Cyrus didn’t respond, just nodded his head and headed back to the stairs as Patrick went to pull a long sword off a mounting that was hung over the fireplace.

Patrick moved through his darkened home to the front French double doors. He heard the trespassers move around to set up position. He could hear guns being loaded. He had to chuckle, there was no way these people were vampires of any real age; if they were, they wouldn’t use firearms. When he opened the doors, he could see three groups on his lawn.

“I will put this simply. Leave now and I won’t send you to your final death,” Patrick said to the groups as he walked out towards them. He let his presence unfurl from himself.

The older they got, the stronger it became. They either mastered it or hid themselves from all humanity. It instilled fear into those weaker than the vampire. The new bloods were to experience this firsthand. Patrick reminded them what fear really was.

Their presence didn’t get stronger as Patrick moved forward. These vampires were no more than a few months old. To see this many young bloods was almost impossible. The ruling councils wouldn’t allow this much breeding, as it were. Though the vampire community had been in a slow decline for centuries, it hadn’t been something they were overly worried about. Most thought it would level out at some point, while others fought it and in secret turned large groups of people into new vampires. When such a practice was discovered the council would send enforcers to take out the newly turned vampires and their sire or sires.

If his fear was the case, then he couldn’t let these new bloods walk away like he had just promised. Before he could act, there was a loud bang and a dull pressure in his chest. One of the newly turned vampires shot him. Patrick looked down at the wound and back at the vampires before him.

The shadows around him sprung to life, and lunged fourth, they ripped through the young vampires like a blade through paper. Patrick moved quickly, and severed some of their heads. This was too easy. He would complain, but with how close to dawn it was, he was thankful.

There was a sudden blast of something powerful. Patrick pinpointed where it was a split second too late. This was where his sluggish and tired body showed a bit. To a creature with some power, like this new adversary, he was like a drunk stumbling home.

Patrick felt something pierce his skin and a burning sensation tore through him that sent him crumple to the ground. He wailed in pain. Alchemical silver; his mind rushed to the conclusion. The only thing worse that Patrick could think of was hellfire and the sun.

Patrick looked down at the new wound, his shirt was ripped enough that he could see his skin bubbling and burning around the wound. He looked up to get a good look at his attacker.

The man was built like a stereotypical north man: huge with fair hair and pale eyes. Patrick got a look at the weapon that sent him to the ground. It was a massive, fanged mace that shimmered in the moonlight. Around this vampire's neck was a necklace with an interesting symbol. It was a simple sun. A cult among the vampire community was used that as their banner. However, Patrick and Cyrus wiped them out, or so he thought.

“Evening, old man. Bit tired are we?” The northern vampire mocked.

Patrick just hissed back, grabbed his sword and lunged forward. Sluggish or not, he still had a few hundred years on this guy. The north man moved to dodge to not get the full brunt of Patrick’s swing.

It was still enough to cause the northern vampire to stagger a bit.

Patrick didn’t give him the same courtesy of waiting for him to regain himself. He re-summoned his shadows and had them assault his aggressor.

There was a blast of heat and his shadows receded back. If Patrick’s heart was still had a beat, he was sure it would have just stopped at that moment. It was rare to see a vampire who could control flame.

Bloody Hell, I don’t have time for this, literally.

His body was heavy and his mind clouded with blurred memories. This would be a good time for his body to be able to produce adrenaline again. The north man had him on the defensive as he ran around to avoid being incinerated by fire. Patrick wished he could find the being responsible for creating vampires that could throw fire and sunder their soul, if they even had one.

“You should have kept your nose out of it.” The vampire taunted him as he flung fire at Patrick like one would throw baseballs. “She was going to be part of something greater. Something you wouldn’t appreciate.”

Patrick wheeled around on his heels to face the vampire, “Nothing you had planned for her could be great!” he spat.

Patrick closed his eyes and called his shadows to cover his body. With a deep breath he charged the northern vampire. He could feel the fire burning through his shadows and burn his skin. There was a blood curdled cry and the inferno stopped. Patrick’s sword had pierced the north man’s heart. He dismissed his shadows and pulled his sword out.

He swung his sword back. “I don’t know what you are doing in my city, but I will end it.” With one solid side swing, Patrick removed his head. The body fell to the ground; blood poured out like a faucet was left on. Patrick kicked the head as hard as he could.

“I will see you in Hell,” he said softly and turned to head back into his house.

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