Master

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Chapter 28

Lincoln’s P.O.V

“Go,”

Not a millisecond after Wequie says the word, I send a wave of energy to my lower body and break off into the woods to my left.

Somewhere in my mind, I register Malcolm going the opposite way, but keep my focus on nature’s littered obstacles and avoiding them.

Running was never a strain for me and it certainly wasn’t now, I was barely going at fifty per cent, however, running with a clan of vampires tracking my every move in unfamiliar terrain was admittedly... a strenuous task in itself.

Placing my hands out before me, I jump over a fallen log and push myself forth from my hands, retaking my former sprint the second my feet touch the ground.

The night had fallen quickly and quietly, leaving every inch of this wilderness covered in a thick coat of darkness.

Moonlight was my only guide, scattering in wherever it could through the thick trees and numerous leaves.

But relying on the moonlight wouldn’t keep me for long so I unlock my mental strains on my dormant power.

I let a sliver of it escape to attach itself to every vampire in the area. A light buzz fills my veins as I connect to them all, scraping against their minds softly and the power their bodies held as well. The sensation, of being so close to my kind, had always been overwhelming, but I’d forgotten that it could be pleasuring too, calming.

It was like sharing this invisible link to them all centred me somehow.

Pushing away those thoughts for later examination, I focus my mind and fix my attention on the ones who were following after me and not Malcolm.
With my spreading power, I snag on them each like a tether that allowed my mind to mentally place where each of them was in relation to me.

More than half of the clan was on my ass, the newborns and the older ones, following me like a swarm of bees that saw me as their favourite nectar. I couldn’t see in the night, but my faint attachment to them allowed me to feel them as they moved all around me.

The newborns were directly behind me, mirroring my every move as they pushed and shoved at each other, trying to take the lead to attempt to close in on me.

The older ones seemed to be thinking more, moving slightly further behind as they slowly eased out with the intention to surround me.

A buzz of electricity shoots up my spine, adrenaline kicking in and making a tempting offer to go even faster, but I didn’t want to outrun them all.

After all, this game was meant for us to have some fun, and that’s exactly what I intended to do.

Glancing quickly from side to side, I take a sharp right turn, sending myself directly into the path of those who were still running straight ahead as I had been. Before their outstretched hands can touch me, I shift my footing suddenly and twist my entire body towards the opposite direction. Inhaling deeply, I focus my energy and push myself off the ground, casting myself running again as I shoot off to my right.

The ground shakes momentarily beneath my feet as several of the newborns go crashing into one another, the sound truly rewarding.

The ones that had followed my feign effectively colliding head first with the ones who’d thought they could catch me. Angered curses and groans fill the air along with some screams of pain, but I couldn’t find it in myself to feel particularly guilty.

I’d just cleared at least a quarter of them with a fake alone, and besides, if anything was broken it would heal... with time.

Running with no particular plan, I feel a smile tugging on my lips as I carried on. I’d thought I wouldn’t find any aspect of this game enjoyable, but it wasn’t nearly as horrid as I imagined it to me.

If my heart still functioned as it was supposed to, I’m sure it would hammering with both adrenaline and excitement.

Listening to the rushed steps on either of my sides advancing on me, I find my smile growing wider. Apparently the older vamps were not as easily tricked as their younger clan members were and now they were closing in on me. With equal numbers on my left, on my right and behind me, each of them was slowly increasing their speed as they prepared to attack.

I should probably go a litt-

The thought to increase my speed hadn’t even completely registered when a pale hand lowered itself directly in front of my path, dropping itself from absolutely nowhere I could pinpoint. My eyes go wide with surprise as the hand grabs for me, but thankfully my body moves on its own, following instincts instead of instructions.

Leaning my upper body back as I bend my knees, I all but bend my body in half as I slid across nature’s footplate, barely missing the outstretched fingers by a hair’s length as they swipe just above my face before tightening into a firm fist.

I roll once and no more before I get to my feet and jump back, missing the others through a string of quick, instinctual movements before I’m able to start back into my run, this time a little faster than before.

“My first attempt,” Alexander calls after me before a chuckle follows, “but not my last.”

Clenching my jaws shut tightly, I glance upwards, throughout the trees’ leaves and catch a handful of vampires moving swiftly up there, their movements silent and almost invisible in the darkness. If it weren’t for the sudden dip in the branches as they moved, I wouldn’t have even seen them.

The trees. I hadn’t even considered that they’d move there, how foolish of me. I’d underestimated these vampires and it almost cost me the game.

For some reason, I found myself laughing as an unknown competitive side takes form within my chest. Not letting myself think about it for too long, I scale a tree with no more than three steps up its trunk.

“Hello,” I say politely as I move beside the ones up here.

Surprised by my sudden ascent, the vampires in the trees hesitate for only half a second before they all rush for me, while the ones below scale their way up the thick trunks to do the same.

But before their grasping hands can find my skin, I lock my eyes on an open plain of land where the woods broke away and jump.

My body soars through the air as I leave the cursing vampire behind. With my new vantage point, I look down at the playing field to map out my next move.

My eyes snag on the vampires which were tracking a laughing Malcolm.

He’d run to the river as I’d guessed and was currently running circles around them. He was moving on both the water and the land making the chase extra difficult since only a few of the oldest clan members seemed able to do the same, while the rest of the vampires followed after him from the water’s edge, waiting for a moment to catch him.

“Show off,” I mumble to myself despite the proud grin on my face that I told myself wasn’t there.

I look back down at my own path when I feel myself descending quickly and prepare my body for landing.

One of the reasons why vampires didn’t like to use their strength to jump, beyond the fact that it left little room for coordination, was that if one didn’t know how to meet the ground correctly on their descent, they would shatter a large number of bones. By large number, I meant about all, leaving them essentially cripple until they healed or died.

The higher you went, the more difficult the landing.

There was no way to learn how to land a jump properly besides doing it until you got it. For me, there was a year where I was particularly bored, so I was really good at it now.

As gravity pulls me down, I lock my knees and position my feet to let my heels meet the dirt first, tensing my body all over and brace myself.

“Ow,” I groan as I climb out of the hole I’d made in the earth. All my bones were in tack but that didn’t stop the numbness that began throughout my body in protest, apparently, it didn’t like doing that anymore.

Dusting myself off, I take a breath and look back towards the woodlands. If I was going by the sound of many rushed footsteps and my temporary tie to the clan, I’d say that I had about three minutes before I’d have to run again.

I bend down and touch my toes, stretching my ancient muscles that were protesting in a building ache at the sudden use of them after such a long time. Training with Kalem and myself was hardly trying to avoid an entire clan.

I make a mental note to amp up my personal exercise.

“Stretching?” Wequie asks with amusement as I bend my arms behind my head and look up to see him swinging upside from the branch of a nearby tree. “You are stretching, now?”

“I didn’t think to earlier,” I admit, choosing in advance to ignore whatever comment about my age Wequie would spew from his fluids mouth, but to my surprise, he doesn’t.”

“For someone who was very opposed to Malcolm’s idea, I think you’re enjoying it more than he is,” Wequie comments with a devilish smile on his teasing lips.

“Impossible,” I deny as I bend one leg behind my back, “I glimpsed him moments ago, he’s having a field day.”

“And so are you,” Wequie sing-songs, “You’re actually enjoying this, like a lot, like a surprising amount.”

With an ignorant shrug I mumble, “It’s not bad.”

“Sure, because you haven’t been smiling this entire time,” Wequie comments which instantly makes me scowl. I open my mouth to rebuttal his accusation but he beats me to it, “do you want to stand here lying to yourself, or do you want to run? They’re almost here.”

I refocus my attention on the clan members and curse to myself when I feel them pouring in from all sides, they were surrounding me in a circle.

“I am excited to see how you’re going to get out of this one,” Wequie says, his tail curling and lashing out behind him.

Tuning him out, I let my mind scan the positions they were taking as they approached from all angles. I counted seven makeshift rings of vampires around me, made up of both newborns and elders, who were apparently working together. In each ring, the vampires were in different positions, strategically placed to cut me off at every angle if I tried to slip through them.

It was becoming clear how much the Anouk Clan despised losing... if only I wasn’t the same they may have stood a chance.

I don’t jump again or run before they can completely secure their rings, I wait and let them advance until I could see them all.

“Ooooo shit, we’ve got him now.”

“If he gets out of this, he’s God, I don’t care,”

“This man is too calm, we’re fucked.”

“Keep still, we stick to the plan and we’ve got this.”

“I’ve still got both my legs, so I’m taking tonight as a win.”

The whispers disappear the moment I straighten to my full height and look around, turning slowly to swipe my gaze over them all.

They were smart, completely shuffling their positioning so that there was no one cluster of newborns without an elder who could direct them quickly. My mental picture showed the strongest of them to fill the outer ring, their clustered power like a pulsing light in my brain.

“How long has it been Wequie?” I ask, loud enough for each of them to hear me.

“Just over ten minutes,” He replies readily.

“Ten minutes,” I repeat as I stop my circling and smile, “and not a single one of you have come close to catching me.”

That was a lie, Alexander had come very close, too close if I was being honest, but that was hardly important. Not all of them knew that and it would work to my favour here.

My statement was meant to cause frustration which would give room for mistakes and a few mistakes here and there certainly wouldn’t be rejected on my end of things.

Apparently successful, the air fills with a stream of annoyance and the need to rise to the challenge. Those who were part of Alexander’s first attempt were assumedly angered by the false claim and those who weren’t were annoyed that it was true, for them.

Either way, it worked out in my favour.

“I’m going to get through this little barricade,” I say with a feeble gesture of my hands, “and then, I’m head up there,” I say pointing to the top of a nearby mountain. “If you can’t stop me there, you should have better luck stopping me up there.”

I wasn’t the mocking type, at least I thought I wasn’t, but seeing how making so many of the clan enraged by my words amused me, I thought to myself that maybe I was.

“Ready, set,” I say with a smirk, “I’m going now.”

I take off in the direction of the point in their makeshift walls that looked to be the weakest. The second the others pinpoint where I was heading, the rush in from their own sides, in an attempt to cave me in and leave me with no option but the follow the path I’d chosen.

With only two steps to take before I met the first ring, I fill my lungs with air and focus my senses.

For the first ring, I slip between a pair of newborns that were too slow to notice that I’d already passed them, their grabbing fingers falling after my shadow while I headed from the second ring. In one swift move, I slide on one knee while I keep the other outstretched to direct my path, skidding across the dirt, between a small cluster of unknowing vamps.

I jump over the next, keeping my legs tucked to my chest to avoid any outstretched hands that jumped after me, trying to follow my path. When my feet find the ground again, I push forward, ready for the spaces that were growing narrower as they all moved in on me, the attempts to get me getting closer and harder to avoid. I boost my speed for the last ring and cut through the rest, managing to squeeze between the slimmest gaps they couldn’t close against my fast movements.

The second I’ve cleared them all, I don’t waste a moment and take off in the direction of my awaiting mountain. With a peak too high for jumping, the only way down was back the way I was ascending which would seem impossible with the hundreds of vampires on my ass.

The word to note is ‘seemed’.

The whole point of this game of tag was to impress the newborns, to make them feel more comfortable around Malcolm and me, and to show them our strength. I had no doubt that on Malcolm’s end, he’s already done all of that, which left me to pick up my own slack.

I didn’t exactly exude a welcoming atmosphere and I didn’t particularly want to, so that left showing them my strength and impressing them enough to make up for my attempt at a personality.

If what I was about to do didn’t win them over, then I honestly didn’t know what would.

The mountain was the type that you ascended in a spiral of paved paths that dissolved into the earth, breaking apart into rough edges and sudden dips the higher I climbed. As the air grew thinner and my view of the bottom smaller, I was tempted to just turn now, but the vampires sliding and crashing after me weren’t stopping, so neither was I.

Approaching the peak, I breathe in and out deeply, preparing my body to withstand the use of all of my strength, something I hadn’t done in decades.

Here goes nothing

The second I reach the top of the mountain, I turn around swiftly and push myself forward using my full speed. The second my feet left the ground, everything in my mind’s eye bleed into one another until I could barely make out one person from the next.

Suddenly, things went from too fast to too slow, as if the world had become very still.

Even in this state, they were like mannequins. Not moving or blinking, and barely breathing as descend the mountain. I combed through them all with fine-tune movements and a focused gaze that kept me from letting an inch of my being making contact with any other.

It felt much like when Kalem popped me to the gardens, like everything around me was frozen but it wasn’t quite the same. Kalem could actually stop time, this wasn’t that, it’d just become so slow to me that it felt like it.

When I find myself some distance from the bottom of the mountain, I stop and turn around to watch my handwork.

I watch with undeniable pride and amusement as the hundreds of vampires looked around one another with abundant confusion as they searched for me. The ones at the top, where I’d been moments ago, kept spinning around. Their heads swivelling from side to side, trying to find me as if they’d simply missed me and I’d reappear any moment.

After some time of looking aimlessly for me without a single trace to follow, someone lower down seemed to spot me and I gave them all a wave when the message travelled through them all and they looked down at me with looks mixed with awe and utter disbelief.

I didn’t need to hear the thoughts to know I’d just secured them all.

With a final salute, I take off and stop only when I’m perched on a cliffside where I could watch the scene unravel below. Malcolm appears beside me after a few minutes, his breathing coming out in quick pants but he was smiling widely as he sat beside me and watched as they all scattered in search of us.

“How long do you think it’ll take them to find us?” I ask looking to Malcolm for a moment.

“They aren’t half bad, I’ll give them ten minutes if they don’t give up first,” He says with a smirk that I find myself returning. “We should’ve done this years ago, it’s so much fun.”

“Surprisingly,” I admit which makes Malcolm’s eyes go wide in surprise. “I had... a good time.”

“Also known as fun, you had fun,” Malcolm corrects with a look that was way too smug but I let him have this, “and don’t speak in the past tense. The night’s barely begun, we’re still having fun.”

I nod and Malcolm smiles again, his legs kicking out erratically beneath him like a little kid.

“I can’t wait to tell Aias about this,” Malcolm comments with a look of excitement, “I suppose we’ll be leaving tomorrow after all, this was a success.”

“Yes,” I agree mindlessly, my thoughts circling around being back home with Kalem before long.

I’d never imagined that I could miss another being as much as my Kalem but I did.

It’ll only been three days, three days and I felt incomplete without him. I missed going to sleep with his warm body in my arms. I missed waking up to his beaming smile that shone too bright before he’d attack my lips in a good morning kiss. I missed reading to him and cooking for him, loving him in all the ways I could.

I missed everything...I missed him so much.

I console my aching chest with the thought that it wouldn’t be long now before I could finally have him in my arms again, exactly where he belonged.

“Well, let’s not waste time sitting around,” Malcolm says as he jumps to his feet. “This is our first game and I intend to make it an extremely memorable one so I can tell stories about it for years.”

“Very well,” I agree and let him pull me to my feet. “Try not to get caught.”

“I’m not the one who needed to stretch,”

Before I could smack him, Malcolm takes off leaving me with no choice but to go the opposite way.

We rejoin the game and end up playing all night, with our new clan members.

----------------------------------------

I love tag even more now.

Thoughts????

I need more Lincoln in this book, he’s honestly a little adorable in his own way.

I hope you weren’t lost with my writing, it was hard to relay what I imagined in my head, but I hope I didn’t lose anyone.

Also, for those who only read Master, sorry for not updating the book for so long. I had exams and when they were over, I was in the mood to write my other book so I went with that.

But I’m in a Master mood now, so hurrah!!! Next chapter they go back home and talk about Kalem👀😶

One of my Patreon extras this month was about Aias meetings a charcter from my other book, and showed his relationship with Malcolm in the future. Just letting any interested parties know.

Alrighty, I think that’s all.

Until next time,
Byeeeee Humansssssssssss

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