Endless pits of darkness.
The screams of his victims still haunted his memories as he continued to relive their painful deaths in his claws. The hopeless pleadings to spare their lives rang in his ear. Women and men. Their tear-stained faces looked up at him, pleading mercy–yet he felt nothing. They’ve wronged him. The place reeked of their fear and he drowned in it.
His body jerked within the confines of the dark chamber as he heard her beautiful voice again. She called his name.
The sweet angelic voice sang. Her giggles were like the chimes of a bell, always thawing his cold heart. Those eyes, swirling pits of forest green, lured him and locked him.
His breathing increased to heavy pants as her memories became vivid.
Her shock-filled gasp when he first touched her would forever be ingrained in his brain. Her pleasure filled moans and the way her body writhed underneath him was something he’d never get to see or experience again.
Pain and agony took hold of his heart at the sudden memory. Blood flowed through his dehydrated veins–direct from a live source, transferring her memories to him.
He roared and thrashed, trying to break free of the invisible force restraining his movements. The fire ignited his veins and heat seeping through the crevices of the dark chamber he was in. The blood supply stopped all of a sudden, sending him into a frenzy.
The tubes attached to his hands melted in the heat. He wanted to taste the blood, fill his mouth with the elixir of life. When his eyes shot open, he saw nothing but darkness, just like the one that lived in his heart.
Small wisps of energy surrounded him and he cursed when he realized what it was. He was bound by magic–ancient and dark. No sounds could be heard nor he had a chance of finding where he was.
Neculai closed his eyes, concentrating on the blood that now flowed in his system. If the donor was alive, he could take control. It wasn’t long before he took control of the source, witnessing the chaos through her eyes, hearing the screams through her ears.
A witch drenched in blood came towards his blood donor, dragging the screaming woman towards an altar. When her chants intensified, he felt the fluttering of a heartbeat within the source. Fury licked his veins when he realized why he was being held captive.
His control snapped at the exact moment his donor lost her consciousness. The darkness that didn’t belong to this world surrounded him. Neculai grunted, thinking of a way to stop this madness. There was no way he could allow them to complete the ritual.
Whoever it was, they wanted his strength and power. That meant his imminent death. A growl rumbled in his chest. He’d incinerate them all.
Just as the darkness began to suffocate him, he felt it. The ground above him vibrated. The crevices widened as more cracks followed. A wisp of light seeped through the crack and he gulped the fresh air now made its way into the dark chamber.
The magic that bound him became undone at the second wave of tremors and he felt the presence of a strong vampire near. When he broke free of his restraints and soared high, he noticed a female vampire punching the witch in her gut.
Smoke and debris hindered the visibility. He didn’t recognize his surroundings. Just as he prepared to engage the witch, he heard it.
A distant cry for help. It was so low. He thought he imagined it. Then, he heard it again. The voice tugging at the invisible strings of his heart. Curiosity rose within him and he soon followed the sound. The cave shook again, the surrounding walls groaned, making him wonder if it would come down all at once.
His nose twitched as the alluring scent of a human female pierced his nostrils. Fear, pain, hopelessness–he could tell exactly what the human felt. It wasn’t long before he found her.
A male vampire crouched over a golden-haired female, naked as the day of her birth. “You thought you could escape me, didn’t you?” The male taunted her. “There is no saving for you today. That bitchy friend of yours will die and so will you.”
“Fuck you!” The female spat. Her bloody shoulders shook, and the hair curtained her face.
She cried out when the male gripped her hair, forcefully pulling her as he positioned himself behind her. Neculai felt his blood boil at the sight of the heinous act. The monster within roared, making its presence known. Her silent cries squeezed his heart.
The male’s head snapped up, his dark irises connecting with the pair of red that glowed with rage. Neculai’s gaze zeroed in on the male’s penis that was half buried into the female. With a deafening roar, he blurred towards them. Neculai growled in satisfaction when he heard the crunch of bones under his palm. The stench of burning flesh infiltrated his senses.
This male didn’t deserve to live. He’d grant him a painful death. Neculai’s emotions were haywire, and he didn’t understand the sudden need to protect the female. He threw the male across the wall.
The male wheezed and coughed blood. Before Neculai moved further, the male looked up and his body vanished into thin air. A roar ripped through his chest, his claws swiped across the walls as he searched for the male.
A small whimper then caught his attention and his focus shifted to the naked female lying on the floor. His feet moved of its own accord and before he knew, he’d lifted the girl in his arms. Her body so soft and warm.
His heart stopped when he noted her innocent face for the first time. Somehow he knew, those eyes would be green when she opened it. As if on cue, she opened them.
Forest green pools lured him in and locked him in place as she gasped for breath. He forgot to breathe.
Neculai blinked, his heart raced as he looked down at the female who should be long dead. He sniffed, unable to believe his eyes. Her scent was different, but alluring, nonetheless.
Blood seeped from the gashes in her throat. The flesh of her neck and shoulders ripped open by force. Fury once again pumped through his veins, but it was not the time to show his anger. She was dying.
I won’t let you die again.
The female’s silent scream echoed through his mind as he bit down on the other side of the neck which wasn’t injured. Blood–sweeter than any other blood or ale he tasted before filled his mouth and clouded his senses.
It flowed through his veins, rejuvenating him. Neculai groaned, unable to stop. His monster sprang free of its confines, taking control. His control snapped, and he pushed her body flush against him. He could no longer think rational. A fog surrounded his brain. Only she remained. His angel.
Her body convulsed as his venom spread through her veins. Her mouth opened, the silent scream never escaping her throat. Neculai brought his claws to his neck, slicing the skin open before pressing her mouth to the open wound.
The female thrashed in his arms and his hold on her head tightened. He could feel her throat working to swallow the blood flowing through her mouth. She had no choice. When his fangs retracted from her neck, her open wounds already closed. Her body went slack as her eyes rolled back to her skull.
Neculai removed the long black coat he wore, covering her skin from the view of approaching men. His eyes gazed at the mark now adorned her pale skin. He hoisted her in his arms and stood.
“Do not move!”
A smirk found its way to his lips as he turned around to face them with his unconscious mate in his hand. Royal guards and trained assassins surrounded them. He’d recognize the tattoos anywhere. Neculai’s eyes studied the tattoos that resembled the ones who belonged to Commander Moldark’s team.
The tall and bulky male, growled as his eyes found Tina’s unconscious form. His nose flared before it locked with Neculai’s burning ones.
“Find Dante!” The male barked to the others, his eyes not once leaving Neculai’s. “I’ll handle this.”
Neculai’s smirk widened. He couldn’t wait to be handled. The male posed a great challenge which he welcomed with open arms. Just as the male opened his mouth to speak again, a familiar scent strolled towards him.
“King Neculai! What are you doing here?”
“Hello, Marmon. It’s good to see you.”
“Tina!” Marmon tensed at the sight of the girl in Neculai’s arms. “What happened to her?” Marmon was beside him the next second, accessing her injuries.
Neculai growled low in warning, pulling her away from Marmon’s hands. Marmon’s brows creased before his eyes widened with realization. His nostrils flared. “You marked her.”
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
“What I do, is none of your concern, Marmon.” Irritation flared within him. Who does he think he is?
“You changed and marked a human. Without her consent, if I may add. I am sure of this because she’d never met you.”
Neculai shrugged. “Again, that’s none of your business.” He didn’t have to explain himself. He was a Royal, a King in his own rights.
Marmon’s lips twitched. “No, it’s not my business. But, let me warn you, my friend. When the Queen finds out, you’ll be sorry for even touching her friend in the first place.”
“Are you threatening me, Marmon? I fear no one.” Neculai growled. If Marmon wasn’t mated, he’d have gouged his eyes out for looking at his mate.
“I know. But, soon, you’ll be. Mark my words.” With that Marmon turned. “Bring her to the castle infirmary, will you?”
Neculai grunted and followed Marmon, his mind contemplating Marmon’s warning. There was no one I fear. And who is Marmon talking about? The Queen? As if a female can threaten me.
The monster within bristled when he neared the infirmary. His eyes swept the surroundings with a cautious look. The presence of the other strong vampires didn’t go unnoticed. What are they doing here?
Their powers and strength were like a magnet, pulling and luring him. One was familiar. Vlad. Neculai wondered who was the other. When he entered the room after Marmon, the others turned to face him and one dark-haired male, in particular, caught his attention. Who is he?
He’d never seen him before. Appearances could be deceiving. The male accessed Neculai with the same look, cautious. The male’s posture grew stiff, ready to attack as his eyes fell on Tina. Neculai shifted on his feet. If he was a low-born he’d have been fooled by his appearance.
A vampire capable of masking his powers. There were only a few, and they were the most dangerous ones, including him. It would take one to know the other. Vlad squeezed the other male’s shoulders, and he relaxed.
“Neculai, it’s good to see you again,” Vlad spoke, his eyes trailed from Neculai’s eyes to the unconscious girl in his arms. “You marked her.”
Neculai rolled his eyes. “Isn’t that obvious?”
“You shouldn’t have touched her,” the male beside Vlad spoke, his jaws clenched as his eyes darkened.
Neculai smirked. “And who you might be? What I do is my business, not yours?”
The male was in front of Neculai in a blink. “It is my business because the female you carry in your arms was under my protection,” he hissed.
“Well, you failed to protect her,” Neculai didn’t back down.
Thorin ground his teeth. “That doesn’t give you the right to mark her. You violated her rights, King Neculai.”
Neculai bit back the retort as he accessed the male before him. “She was dying,” he spoke, not understanding why he felt obliged to explain that, realizing a moment later what happened. “Stop using your glamour on me!”
A ghostly smile spread across Thorin’s lips. “That wasn’t hard, was it?”
“Who the hell are you?”
“That’s the King of Aragon, Thorin Karayan Droskyn,” Vlad replied. “We are now in his castle.”
Neculai met Thorin’s gaze again. “I’ll leave as soon as she is fit to travel.”
Thorin’s hard gaze softened when he noticed Tina. “I don’t think she’d leave with you,” Neculai growled in warning, which Thorin brushed off with a shrug. “It’s the truth, King Neculai. If she is anything like my mate, she’d make you sweat for it.”
“Your mate is her friend,” Neculai stated.
Thorin nodded with a small smile. “I thought you despised humans. Why would you mark her?” He asked, noticing the smitten look on Neculai’s face.
Neculai, who was looking at Tina like she was a treasure, blinked before meeting Thorin’s gaze. “I don’t know. It… It just happened.”
Thorin tilted his head, his eyes conveyed his thoughts. He didn’t believe his words. “Bring her in. She needs the doctor.”
“She’ll heal.” Neculai clutched her tighter to his chest.
“Yes, but I am not talking about the physical injuries. You see, King Neculai, human females differ from the vampires. They see and handle things from a different perspective. Trust me, she needs a doctor.” Thorin turned to go in. “You need to feed.”
Neculai’s shoulders slumped for the first time as he looked at the female in his arms. She looked pale as a ghost and he knew Thorin was right. He nodded to himself before following Thorin’s lead.