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Copyright © March, 2016 by Travis Simmons
House Vantasyl Vampire Hunter Series Intro:
The Dead of Sanguine Night
Published by: Wyrding Ways Press
Cover Design by: Najla Qamber Designs
Formatting by: Wyrding Ways Press
Editing by: Wyrding Ways Press
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or in any means—by electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without prior written permission.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either are the product of the authors imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual places, events, and people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
It was foolish to be out at night, Amaranth knew this; there were dangers both rumored and unknown. She quailed at the memory of the reports of vampires and ghouls. The ghosts didn’t bother her much. She’d been told there wasn’t a lot that ghosts could do to a person. Still, the thought of seeing a disembodied spirit was enough to send shivers up her spine. The vampires and the ghouls, along with werewolves and other terrors that lurked in the darkness was enough to keep everyone in Danthea locked behind their blessed doors, their windows locked with silver inlaid shutters.
No one went out at night, unless they were foolish, or a hunter…if those even existed. If she’d been smarter, she would have spent the night with her boyfriend, Jeremy.
Amaranth turned, looking the way she’d come, wondering if maybe it was best to head back to her boyfriend’s home and sleep the night there. The problem was, she didn’t recognize any of the buildings or the roads in the darkness. It had to be the fact that she’d never been out at night that she didn’t recognize her surroundings.
Amaranth had to press on, keep going and she would find her way out of this haze of doubt and terror and she would make it home in one piece.
Far in the distance, she heard the bay of a wolf and stopped in her tracks. This was no ordinary wolf. Not in Danthea. In Danthea, that was the call of a werewolf that had gotten separated from its pack. To her right, startlingly close by, she heard the answering call of the pack locating one another for a hunt.
Her heart hammered hard enough that it deafened her to nearly all other noises. She fled down the cobbled walk until she was sure she’d made her way far enough from the hunting wolves that they wouldn’t find her.
But they can find my scent, she told herself.
Amaranth pressed herself into the shadowy depths of a stone doorway, hoping that if the wolves came her way, they would not see her, or by some miracle of the Goddess, they wouldn’t smell her either.
She peered out around her. The full moon shone silvery red on the empty streets. On the corner across the way, a lamppost stood, casting its flickering flame into the night as if the paltry fire might offer some hope of protection. She knew there was no hope though, not on sanguine night, not when the blood moon rose high and those damnable beasts that haunted the streets by night gained power from the crimson rays of the moon.
Amaranth closed her eyes and tried not to think about what might be coming for her. Again, she wondered if it was too late to turn back, to go to Jeremy’s and whether the night.
She knew it was useless. At this point she was likely closer to home than to Jeremy’s, even if none of the surroundings looked familiar to her. She considered knocking on the door where she hid, hoping that someone inside might not confuse her for a ghoul or a hag, and let her in to stay the night. She shook her head to clear the thought. No one would ever be foolish enough to open their home to a stranger at night. Even her family might not open the door for her…who knew what could be taking her appearance to gain entry to their house?
Amaranth peered around her, wondering where the werewolves were. It was dead silent once more, the only noise she could hear was the distant whisper of the ocean, far off in West Shore.
In the ghetto of City Center, she thought. That was another danger. In the ghetto there had been a string of deaths. They hadn’t been confirmed as murders yet, and Amaranth wasn’t sure they could ever be confirmed either. People had gone missing from their homes, reportedly gone out into the night only to be found devoured by ghouls in some abandoned house.
At the memory of the reports, Amaranth crept away from the doorway she hid in. What if this was an abandoned home? What if she accidentally pressed too hard against the doorway and fell inside, only to be devoured by ghouls?
A side street, that’s what she needed…a side street.
A couple paces down the road, Amaranth found what she was looking for.
Boulva Street was just the shadowed side street she needed. There were few lights, and plenty of places to hide. She tried not to think that some of the beasts in the night could see better in the dark than in the light. Instead, she made her way down the street, avoiding puddles of light from the few lampposts that were actually lit. She hoped there was a corner of an overgrown yard she could hide in until the sun ruled Danthea.
The cobbles of Boulva Street were cracked with the occasional missing stone , making walking dangerous if she wasn’t paying attention to where she placed her feet. The houses slanted toward one another on rotting foundations, like drunken neighbors seeking support. The yards were small and overgrown. For that, she was thankful.
In the ghetto, she thought, where people go missing and wind up—
“Are you lost?” a voice asked behind her.
Amaranth jumped, barely keeping the scream behind her teeth from bursting out and shattering the stillness of the night.
Amaranth spun around to see the woman behind her. She was a short woman, clad in a long white dressing gown as if she’d been readying herself for bed. Her hair was blond and shined in the light of the blood moon. She was a pretty woman with a small nose and full lips the color of blood. Her eyes were ghostly blue.
“Are you lost?” the woman asked again, and smiled.
Amaranth nodded her head fervently. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Come with me,” the woman said, holding out her hand. “You can stay the night with me.”
“How do I know you’re not a ghoul or some other night terror?” Amaranth asked.
“How do I know you’re not the same?” the woman asked.
Amaranth didn’t have a good answer.
“My name is Lauren,” the woman told her. “What’s yours’?”
“Amaranth,” she said, slipping her hand into Lauren’s delicate grasp. Her hand was warm and welcoming. Amaranth was at once at ease.
“Well, Amaranth, come and sup with my family and me. We were just getting ready to eat,” Lauren said, turning back to the main street.
“It’s awful late to eat,” Amaranth said, at peace and emboldened to talk now that she was with Lauren. If this woman ventured out at night to save her, she must not fear the evil of Danthea. If she didn’t fear the evil, she must have some kind of control over it, or at least some way to ward it off.
“What can I say? We eat late,” Lauren said. She led Amaranth back down Boulva Street and around the corner to the house where Amaranth had hidden only moments before.
Lauren opened the door onto an inviting living room. Candles illuminated the inside. She rushed Amaranth inside. She took her cloak and hung it on a peg beside the door. A fireplace snapped and popped cheerily from the other side of the living space, and the security and safety it offered filled her with happiness.
A couch sat against the same wall as the door, and chairs filled the side walls. To the right of the fireplace was a doorway that led deeper into the well-lit house. To the left of the fireplace stairs ascended to the second floor.
“I would have knocked,” Amaranth said, turning to Lauren. “But I didn’t think anyone would have let a stranger in at night.”
“Most wouldn’t have, but my mother has the sense to know when a person is evil and when they aren’t. She saw terror in you, and sent me after you.”
“You’re brave to face the night alone,” Amaranth said.
Lauren smiled. “Follow me,” she said, motioning to the doorway to the right of the fireplace. “We’re just about to eat, and you are welcome to join us.”
Amaranth followed Lauren deeper into the house. The doorway opened up onto a small kitchen with tile counters on the left and right walls. Over the table hung a silver chandelier lit with multiple white candles. The rectangular table took up half the kitchen and sat close to the wall with just enough room for two people to sit behind it.
Around the table were various adults in the late stages of life. A grandfather, Amaranth suspected by his balding white hair and withered face, sat at the head of the table. A portly woman and a thin man sat close to the wall. They looked of the age to be Lauren’s parents.
“The rest of the family will be down shortly,” Lauren said.
As if in response to her words, thumping sounded from upstairs.
“Would you like some tea?” she asked Amaranth.
“Yes, please,” Amaranth said, sitting down across from Lauren’s mother. “Thank you for sending your daughter after me.”
The woman’s eyes were milky and didn’t seem to register that Amaranth was there. Maybe she was in the grips of another vision or something. Amaranth couldn’t be sure. She’d never been around seers before.
“It’s very kind of you to accept me into your home,” Amaranth said to the grandfather at the head of the table. His eyes were dull, not quite as milky as the mother’s, but she bet his eyesight was failing. He stared straight ahead as well, taking no notice of what was happening around the table.
In fact, the entire family seemed to be vacant from their own bodies, poised around the table as if Lauren was a little girl who’d set out her favorite dolls for tea.
A moment of panic seized Amaranth. “Is there something wrong with your family?”
Lauren smiled and sat a cup of steaming water before her. The smell of jasmine filled Amaranth’s nostrils, and she took a tiny sip of the hot liquid. It soothed her throat and washed away the growing panic. She imagined there wasn’t anything so strange about the family after all. The grandfather might have lost his sight in old age, and the mother was likely still in a trance, trying to sort out if Amaranth was evil or not. Who knew what seers looked like when they were in a trance?
“Did your mother study her art at the Apothecarium?” Amaranth asked Lauren, who was busy at work behind her. Amaranth wasn’t sure that seers trained there, but with all the kinds of mancy they taught at the Apothecarium, she figured psychic forces would be among them.
“No,” Lauren said. “We don’t…agree with the Apothecarium.”
“Just personal issues with the headmaster,” Lauren said in a tone that said she didn’t want to talk more on the subject.
“This is a very nice home you have here,” Amaranth said to the father, hoping that she might engage him in some kind of conversation. But, like the mother and the grandfather, stared straight ahead. Amaranth had the chilling thought that there might not be anything there behind his eyes, no soul, no thoughts…nothing.
Amaranth shivered and looked away. “How long until sunrise?” she asked, suddenly wondering if she would rather be out on the street than inside this house with these vacant people.
“Long enough for a good meal and a nice, long sleep,” Lauren said. Again, there was something behind her voice that said more than her words did. Whatever it was she was trying to say eluded Amaranth.
A shadow passed over the mother’s eyes, but then was gone. Amaranth leaned forward, intent on her aged face, but the shadow didn’t return. Had she really seen anything?”
“Here you go,” Lauren said, setting a plate piled high with beef and potatoes before Amaranth.
Amaranth dug into the meat. Pink juices sluiced out of the beef, adding to the pool of gravy that dominated the plate. The smell was intoxicating: onions and garlic mingling with the aroma of butter potatoes and rich gravy. Her stomach growled. She bit into the meat and wondered if she’d ever tasted anything so amazing in all of her life.
The light flickered. Amaranth looked up, and for a moment there wasn’t a silver chandelier above her illuminated with numerous candles but a tarnished chandelier that hung lopsided from the ceiling. One of the two chains that had once secured it to the ceiling dangled down to the table and cobwebs linked the old, dirty candles.
Amaranth blinked, but the image changed. It was just her imagination. The chandelier was clean and bright enough to light the room with ease. She turned back to her meal, putting the thought from her mind. It was likely that she was distraught from being caught out in the night and rescued by a kind woman with a strange family.
“Is it good?” Lauren asked.
“Delicious,” Amaranth said, looking to Lauren. The woman was at the other end of the table from the grandfather. Her hands were folded before her, but she didn’t eat, she only stared at her mother and father.
Amaranth glanced at the mother. There was something at the edge of her nostril, wriggling around, trying to creep out of the depths of her skull. Before Amaranth could think of what it could be, or why it didn’t seem to bother the woman, a maggot plopped out of her nose and onto the table.
Amaranth gasped, but when she looked at the table where the maggot had fallen, there was nothing there. She glanced back at the mother, but she just sat there as if nothing had happened.
Maybe it hadn’t, Amaranth thought. She was growing more and more certain that she’d rather be outside, facing the terror of the night than in here with this strange family.
She trained her eyes on the plate, but the light flickered again and in the moment of darkness that blinked through the kitchen, Amaranth no longer saw juicy beef and buttery potatoes on her plate. Instead, before her sat a pile of moldy bread.
The light flared back to life and the beef and potatoes were back.
“Is everything to your liking?” Lauren asked, still not looking at Amaranth. “Do the potatoes need more butter?”
“No, it’s all very delightful,” Amaranth said.
The light failed again, and her cup of tea vanished in the darkness, replaced with a cloudy, unwashed glass filled with brackish water.
She jumped to her feet, the chair tipping backwards. In the gloom of the room, Amaranth saw the family truthfully for the first time.
Dead. They were all dead. Graying, molding, yellow blotches of skin stood out along their arms like bruises of rot. The mother’s blond hair was white and shriveled against her skull, her skin stretched to near cracking over her bones, like paper over a skeleton.
“I…I need to go,” Amaranth said. She sped from the kitchen before Lauren could react. As she did, the light flared once more, and the house was as it always had been: posh, polished, well lit, and welcoming. A comforting air suddenly surrounded her and she felt rather drowsy.
“Do you really need to go?” Lauren asked from the kitchen doorway.
The light faltered again, and Amaranth looked around her. The chairs and the couch sat half on the floor, their legs broken, their cushions dusty and moth eaten. The fireplace was cracked and cold. No fire burned from within. The room was gray, the paper peeling from the walls. The house was so ransacked that Amaranth wasn’t sure how she’d ever seen it as a welcoming home instead of a disaster with debris scattered along the floor and rat skeletons gathered in the corners.
At the base of the stairs stood three figures, all more rotten than the family in the kitchen. Whatever clothing they might have worn in death had long since faded away to dust. They were so far gone to decay that their skin was nothing more than blackened leather stretched over their bodies.
Amaranth was frozen in fear. She couldn’t move an inch. Somehow—she wasn’t sure how—breath still filled her body. She tried to will her legs to move, but they wouldn’t obey her.
“I don’t think you really need to leave,” Lauren said, leaning in the doorway of the darkened kitchen. “We haven’t eaten yet.”
Amaranth waited for the lights to come back, for the candles and the fireplace to flare to life and chase away the nightmare that she’d stumbled into, but it never came.
And then, jerkily, woodenly, the family from the kitchen joined Lauren in the doorway. Now their eyes did see Amaranth, and she wished they didn’t. Now their dead eyes stared directly at her and saw nothing else. The blackened figures at the base of the stairs seemed to come to life then. Slouching to the ground they crawled over the rotten floorboards toward Amaranth on all fours, like animals more than humans. The popping of their bones as they ground together and the crackling of their dry skin filled the room, and Amaranth screamed in terror, unable to do anything else.
She tried to move once more, but another power held her in place and wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t until the first of the dead fingers were tearing into her flesh, carrying away parts of her body to feed rotten mouths that Amaranth finally moved. She fell to the floor beneath the press of dead bodies.
Margaret stared out the window across from where she sat at the dining room table. Behind her, her mother, Nancy, toiled away in the kitchen. While Margaret was content with gazing out the window, Nancy would rather work away the moments until her husband, Samuel, came home with news from the council of clans.
Margaret nursed her coffee, studying her reflection in the glare of the window. Long brown hair that she wished had a bit more body, pale skin that she wished was a tad tanner, and a nose that she wished was just a hair smaller. Her brown eyes, light enough they were nearly golden was the only feature she was completely happy with.
She wasn’t as focused on her appearance as most girls. Instead, she noticed these things in passing. There was no point in worrying about things you couldn’t change, especially things that didn’t matter as much as what her family faced on a nightly basis.
“What do you think he will find?” Lincoln, her older brother, asked from the head of the table.
“Oh, who knows,” Nancy said, tossing a scrap of roast to their brindle Akita, Mitzy. The dog lunged into the air, the beef bouncing off her nose to land on the counter beside Nancy. She sat down, lifted one paw and wined until Nancy brushed the wedge of roast off the counter and into Mitzy’s waiting mouth. “All of those deaths in City Center are likely the cause for such a rushed meeting.”
“Yea,” Lincoln said. He was taller, where Margaret was shorter. His dark brown hair never looked combed, no matter how much time he put into styling it. His eyes were hazel with a kind of piercing quality that belied the humor of his nature. His mouth, while looking small, was one of his biggest features both literally and figuratively.
“What do you think could be causing it?” Nancy asked.
Lincoln looked to Margaret, the family specialist when it came to monsters and those demons that lurked in the night.
“I would say ghouls,” Margaret said. “The way the people are consumed; I don’t know many other things that lurk in the night and devour their pray the way ghouls do. The reports always make mention that it looks like the bodies have been eaten by a human. Unless we have a gang of cannibals that only strike at night…”
“And if we have cannibals,” Nancy said, “we will likely have wendigoes to deal with in the future.”
They didn’t have to debate long. The door thudded shut and moments after Mitzy started barking Samuel’s presence filled the kitchen doorway. The dog stood at his side, sniffing his legs as if wondering what great adventure he’d just returned from.
Samuel was taller than Lincoln, broad in the shoulders, narrow at the waist. Samuel had peppered black hair and deep brown eyes. His face always seemed to carry the same amount of scruff from day to day.
“A necromancer,” he said.
“A necromancer?” Lincoln asked, scooting out of his father’s chair and into his own diagonal from Margaret.
“That’s what’s been causing the deaths,” Samuel answered.
Excitement swirled in Margaret’s gut. This was something new. A new beast she would get to study. A new monster in the night that she might even get to slay.
“What do we know of necromancers?” Samuel asked Margaret. He sat down in his chair at the head of the table and Nancy brought plates of roast sandwiches and fruit from the kitchen that she sat before each of them.
Margaret took a huge bite of one of her two sandwiches before answering. “I don’t know much, just their death mancy allows them to raise the dead and control undead. If they can do more than that…”
“All right,” Samuel said, dividing his orange. “You’re going to need to research this. We don’t want to go in surprised.”
“But all of the attacks have happened in the City Center,” Lincoln said. “That’s not our territory.” Margaret saw her hopes dashed. In her excitement, she’d forgotten that the attacks weren’t happening in their district.
“The attacks are happening around Boulva Street, and the council has determined that’s our territory tonight,” Samuel said. “We are joining the other clan families in City Center to put a stop to the necromancer.”
Lincoln beamed with excitement before tucking into his apple.
“And the council of clans has given me these,” Samuel said, fishing around in his pocket. He pulled out three nubs of what looked like foam, and laid them on the table. “They’re called broadcasters. These three are linked together, allowing us to talk to one another over great distances.”
Margaret plucked one off the table and examined it.
“I was told you squish it in your fingers and push it into your ear. It will expand to fit comfortably and then it should work,” Samuel said. He didn’t sound completely convinced.
“You didn’t listen, did you?” Nancy scolded him, her hands folded on the table before her.
Samuel grinned. “It was a long meeting,” he said. “I may have drifted a few times.”
Nancy rolled her eyes.
Samuel sighed deeply, examining the wedges of orange on his plate.
Great, here comes the bad news, Margaret thought, her interest no longer on the broadcaster she was squeezing between her fingers.
“Maggie, you’re going to be the bait,” Samuel said.
“What? No!” Nancy said, pushing to her feet. Every inch of her small frame seemed to quiver with anger. “Not my daughter,” she said. Her face turned nearly as red as her strawberry hair. If eyes could cut like knives, hers would have sliced Samuel to the bone.
“I don’t like it either, but all of the victims have been women, and goat fits the bill,” Samuel said. “She knows the most about monsters and she’s skilled with a blade. None of the other hunter families have girls as likely to survive.”
Nancy took several deep breaths that seemed to vibrate through her stout body before sitting down. There was silence as she plucked a broadcaster off the table and studied it in the sunlight slanting through the window.
“You need to have one made for me,” Nancy said resolutely. “This is like nothing you’ve ever done before, and if you’re taking my daughter out as bait, I need to hear what’s happening.”
“Do you think that’s wise mom? What if the ghouls eat her?” Lincoln asked. “You will hear her screams all the way from City Center.”
“Stop it, you ass!” Nancy swatted at Lincoln, but it was no use, he was too far away for her to actually hit him.
“It’s more likely Goat will eat them,” Samuel laughed.
“I hate you all!” Nancy said, throwing a roll at Samuel. It bounced off his forehead and skittered across the floor. Mitzy grabbed it up and jogged to the entrance with it where she devoured her feast.
The council library was a ten-minute wagon ride from the Vantasyl home in Gate District to West Shore. She checked her bags for the millionth time to make sure she had everything she needed: her monster journal, her ink, her quill pen, and her drying sand.
The wagon deposited her on Claymore Lane as she’d asked. The council library was housed in a rickety store called Annabeth’s Pottery. While it was a fully functional store, it also served as a front for the huge, hidden mystical library in the back.
The woman behind the counter wasn’t called Annabeth, but that’s how all the hunters who came here for the library referred to her to keep appearances. She worked for Mongrief, the leader of the clan council. Margaret had referred to her so long by her fake name that she couldn’t remember her real name, or if she’d ever been told what it was.
Margaret nodded to Annabeth, who was helping a customer. The short, chubby woman nodded back, her wide smile scrunching up her rouged cheeks. Her dark hair was pinned behind her head today.
Margaret wound her way through rows of terracotta to a graying wooden door in the back of the shop. For a moment, digging through the bag slung over her chest, Margaret worried that she’d forgotten the key. When she found it, she breathed a sigh of relief.
The door opened onto a sprawling room with shelves upon shelves of books. The wooden floor gleamed bright from the sun shining through the circle of stained glass in the ceiling.
“Hi Adelaide,” Margaret greeted the council librarian behind the L-shaped counter to the right of the door.
Adelaide was a handsome woman of average height with wild blond hair that she normally kept pinned up behind her head. While she made every attempt to appear feminine, wearing dresses of the latest fashion with not enough fabric on the top and way too much fabric at the ass, she was solid and always gave the appearance of being more a tomboy than a lady.
“Margaret,” Adelaide said, a smile ghosting across her face. “I figured you’d be here soon. Mongrief told me time is of the essence, so I made it my duty to pull all the books we have on necromancers and necromancy.” She slid a small pile of books toward Margaret.
“Thank the Goddess,” Margaret said. “This saves loads of time.” She gathered the books in her arms and carried them to a nearby table.
“I also marked the pages I thought you’d find the most useful,” Adelaide said, bringing Margaret a cup of coffee. “I know you don’t have a lot of time, so it was the least I could do.”
“You’re an angel,” Margaret said, trying to show Adelaide how thankful she was for what the librarian had done for her.
Adelaide swatted her compliment away, as if she could batter it to the side before it reached her. She smiled again. “You’re too kind. Now, I will leave you to study.”
“Thank you so much,” Margaret said to her retreating back. She sorted her supplies and arranged them around herself, flipping to a new page in the journal and titling it Necromancers.
She sat the small earbud broadcaster to the side, not wanting to slip it in her ear yet. It had taken hours for them to get the broadcasters to link up, and as of yet, Lincoln hadn’t figured out how to turn them back off. If she put it in now, there would likely be endless chatter in her ear to distract her.
For hours, it seemed, she searched through the books and made notes. Necromancers were skilled death mancers who [could _]do more than just raise and control the dead as Margaret first thought. They also had a host of other powers. While they only ever had one extra power, two at the most, a lot of necromancers didn’t have _any extra powers. However, if they had another kind of mancy to offset the ghoulish power to master death, it was a powerful dark mancy like illusions, mind control, weaving perverse dreams in a victim’s mind, or even taking control of the dream to plague their victim. Most necromancers had an affinity for serpents, often being able to commune with them or even control them to some extent. Almost all necromancers could spread disease and illness with their mancy.
The most interesting thing Margaret found was the ability to master death completely so it would never touch a necromancer. By doing a very dark ritual—which the book wouldn’t detail—they were able to tear their soul from their own bodies and store it in another vessel. In order to kill a necromancer that had transferred its soul, one had to destroy both the body and the receptacle.
When her hand was cramping and Margaret decided she’d exhausted all of her research, she squeezed the earbud and slipped it into her ear.
Immediately she could hear her mother and father talking as well as Lincoln talking to his friend Ryan. Ryan was great with different kinds of mancy, and often Lincoln consulted his friend when making some new kind of contraption that could augment or even capture mancy to use at a different time. Now Lincoln visited Ryan to see if his friend could replicate the design of the broadcaster.
“I have something,” Margaret said.
“What is it?” Samuel asked. It was strange to hear her father so close at hand, though he was miles away. On their earbud Lincoln and Ryan chattered away about the broadcaster and how Lincoln could replicate the actual device, but Ryan would have to work a bit of mancy into the device to get it to link with theirs’ and to work properly.
“Lincoln!” Samuel yelled.
Margaret winced as her father’s voice rattled around in her head, causing her vision to swim. Adelaide furrowed her brow in concern, but Margaret shook her head to let the librarian know there wasn’t any real issue.
“Hey, here, sorry. What’s up?” Lincoln asked.
“Goat has something,” Samuel said.
“Why does he call her Goat?” Ryan asked.
“Because she eats everything that’s put in front of her,” Lincoln said.
“Goats don’t actually[_ ]eat[ everything,_]” Ryan said.
“We know,” Samuel barked. “Now, thank you for helping with the other device, but please shut up now.”
“Oh, right, sorry sir. Please go on,” Ryan said.
“Now that we have Ryan’s permission,” Samuel said, “Margaret, you may proceed.”
She told them what she found. While she was talking, Adelaide came back to the table and sat across from her, nursing a steaming mug of tea.
“So what do you think?” Margaret asked.
Adelaide pointed a long finger at the words Mind Control.
“Sounds like mind control to me,” Samuel said.
“That’s what Adelaide thinks too,” Margaret said.
Margaret took the broadcaster out of her ear, wondering if Adelaide would be able to hear as well. The voices on the other ends were slightly quieter, but they could both hear what was being said well enough. Adelaide reached down and tapped the end of the broadcaster that faced out from the ear when it was implanted. The volume of the voices increased.
“It makes the most sense,” Adelaide said. “The women were all found outside of their own homes and in abandoned buildings.”
“That’s what I was thinking too,” Samuel agreed. “How are you both talking?”
“Take the broadcaster out,” Adelaide said. “Tap a few times on the end that doesn’t go into your ear and it will increase the volume.”
There was a bit of a ruffling, scratching noise on Samuel’s end, but it shortly stopped.
“Hi Addie!” Nancy’s voice came from the broadcaster.
“Hi Nance,” the librarian said with a smile. “Nice of you to join us.”
“All right,” Samuel said. “So we agree this is mind control?”
“Makes sense to me,” Lincoln said.
“Why else would someone go out into the night if they weren’t made to?” Ryan added.
“Thanks for that, Mister Obvious,” Samuel said. There was a thump from his end and Margaret recognized it as her mother cuffing Samuel on the shoulder.
“Be nice to that boy,” she scolded.
“Thank you Mrs. Vantasyl,” Ryan said.
“Adelaide,” Samuel ignored the others. “Do you know of anything, besides mental training, that can overcome mind control?”
“Hmm,” Adelaide said, tapping a slender finger to her lips. “Not off the top of my head. I assume if there was such an herb or tincture, it would be available on the market.”
It wouldn’t be on any old market. Adelaide referred to the market hidden behind the Stumble Inn Tavern on East Shore. They often referred to the potion market as Stumble Inn, or just the market. The potions shop was set up behind the kitchen in the tavern and it was run by Waldorf Mink. He sold more than potions. In fact, it was where they got all kinds of herbs, poisons, salves and the like.
“I agree.” Samuel sighed. “All right. We will have to be prepared for mind control, though besides our rudimentary training to ward off vampiric influence, I fear we are inadequately prepared.”
“At least that will provide some protection,” Adelaide said. “The thing with mind control is realizing you’re being controlled. At that point it’s easier to shrug off. Your training may be enough.”
“Maybe,” Samuel said, though it didn’t sound like he was convinced. “Will you be joining us tonight Addie?”
“And miss out on all of this fun? I wouldn’t dream of it,” Adelaide said.
“All right, Margaret, Lincoln, you two should get home so we can gear up,” Samuel said.
“Be there soon,” Lincoln said, “we almost have mom’s broadcaster done.”
Margaret had always wanted to hunt in the City Center. It was rare that she made it to the center of Danthea on most days, but there was an allure about the district by night that delighted every bit of hunter blood in her body. More beasts of the night were said to congregate in the City Center when the sun went down and the night ruled the city. For that reason alone, the City Center had almost as many clans patrolling its streets as all the other districts combined.
If City Center was a shining beacon of evil for Margaret to hunt its streets, Boulva Street was just the opposite. Rickety houses that slopped toward one another filled her vision. Behind broken fences, overgrown yards populated the streets. Walking was dangerous with the threat of tripping over trash that had been strewn across the road in a wind storm earlier that day. The debris sometimes masked the holes in the streets and deep rivets in the sidewalks.
[It _]must[ have taken mind control to send someone to this shit hole,_] Margaret thought.
:Any sight of her, Goat?: Samuel buzzed in her ear through the broadcaster. She wasn’t precisely sure where all of the hunters were holed up, but she was assured they were close by. Definitely in range to swoop in and save her if she fell into more trouble than she could handle.
“No,” Margaret told him.
All was silent on the broadcaster. Though she could hear the occasional cough of sniffle in her ear, even the fidgeting of her brother, Lincoln, while he waited for some kind of action, they were all waiting for a sign from Margaret. A sign that the necromancer was upon her and she was headed back to an abandoned home to meet her end. The only constant noise she could hear was the muffled sounds of her mother chopping, stirring, and sizzling meat, readying dinner for their return.
“Are you lost?” Margaret heard a musical voice behind her.
:That’s the necromancer,: Lincoln broadcasted.
:Everyone, let’s go, stay in the shadows around Boulva Street so we can see where she’s taking her,: Samuel ordered.
Margaret tried for her best lost, scared woman look. It was difficult for her, but when she turned toward the slight, blond woman, she hoped she mastered the façade.
“Yes,” Margaret said, proud of the slight quiver in her voice.
The necromancer wasn’t what she would have expected. The woman was small with wavy blond hair, ghostly blue eyes, and full red lips. She was rather lovely and put-together for one who dealt with the dead.
“Come, I can lead you home,” the woman said, holding out her hand. “My name is Lauren. There’s no need to be frightened.”
Margaret smiled timidly and reached out for the necromancer’s hand.
:Be careful,: Lincoln warned. :Remember the mind control.:
But Margaret hadn’t felt any kind of outer influence compelling her to grab the necromancer’s hand. Addie said that they would be able to tell if they were being controlled in the way they knew when a vampire was controlling them. They would feel an urge to do something against their will. Either the necromancer wasn’t controlling her yet, or she was such a master of mind control that Margaret wouldn’t have felt any outer suggestion even if the death mancer commanded her to end her own life.
Lauren tightened her grip and gave her a wistful smile. “What brings you out at night?” she asked.
“I…I’m not sure,” Margaret answered, partially because she didn’t have a story in mind, and partially because she wasn’t sure if someone who was under the necromancer’s control would really know the reason they had strayed from the safety of their home and into the dangerous streets.
Lauren frowned. “It’s foolish to be out on the streets at night with all of the deaths that have been happening in this area.”
Margaret didn’t answer, but allowed herself a quiver that echoed down her arm and to the necromancer’s hand. She hoped that Lauren felt that she was scared, rather than that she was waiting for the moment to spring and slay her.
:Ghouls,: Samuel broadcasted. :Everyone, be on the lookout. Ghouls are surrounding the area. If we start killing them, she will know. Addie, can you find a way around?:
:Got one,: Adelaide answered. :Follow me.:
“Ah, here we are,” the necromancer said.
:I see them,: said a thick male voice Margaret didn’t recognize. Likely someone from the Pralin clan that normally patrolled the City Center. They must have linked up with their broadcasters with Margaret knowing. :Right on the corner of Boulva Street and Main. Addie, can you make it here?:
Margaret fought the urge to check the rooftops for the person who spoke.
:Yes, be there in a moment,: Adelaide said.
:Goat, hold on,: Samuel said. :We’re coming.:
“This…is nice,” Margaret said. It was a nice home, though she hadn’t remembered seeing the house before, and she would have certainly remembered this specific house being on the corner of Boulva and Main, because it was her home.
Everything about the house was precisely as she remembered it. The gray brick of the walls and the dark green thatching of the roof. The cedar hedges that were trimmed to shoulder height, and the lamppost that flickered on the corner of Danthea Way and Chase Avenue.
:Something’s wrong,: the same, thick voice intruded again.
Nancy moaned from where she stood in her kitchen, listening in. The broadcaster suddenly fell silent.
“That didn’t take long,” Margaret said. “To think, home was just around the corner. Thank you!” she tried her hardest to sound grateful and not worried or suspicious as to how the necromancer was able to make her house appear. There was something she should remember, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Of course,” Lauren said once Margaret almost had the answer to the question plaguing her thoughts. How was she able to do that? But something seemed to be holding the answer at bay, some kind of force had intruded on her mind and blocked out the answer as surely as it was jamming the broadcaster from receiving any further instructions from her father and the other hunters. “Let me walk you in.”
The hedges parted naturally for a gate walkway that led to the front door. The gate opened with ease at Lauren’s touch and the necromancer led Margaret up the paved walk and to the front door.
The door opened onto a small entryway where pegs hung for jackets and a bench on either wall allowed for people to sit while putting their shoes on. Rows of shoes lined the underneath of the benches. The doorway from the entryway led to a small common room that was more of a hallway. Stairs on the right wall ascended to the bedrooms upstairs and a door on the wall adjacent to the stairs led into the kitchen where she could hear her mother toiling away with dinner preparations.
Where’s Mitzy? Margaret wondered, but no sooner had she thought about the dog than the Akita bounded out of the living room to the left and jumped on Margaret, nearly knocking her over. Mitzy nuzzled her neck and kissed her ear before jumping down and investigating Lauren.
“Well hello there,” Lauren said, bending low and petting Mitzy. “It’s a little late for dinner,” Lauren said, glancing up at Margaret. The smile she wore was tight and almost seemed forced.
Margaret didn’t answer.
“Home already?” Nancy called from the kitchen.
Margaret waited to hear some kind of commotion on the broadcaster, but nothing was forthcoming.
Upstairs there were several loud thumps, like someone was dragging a bed or something heavy across the floor. Margaret looked up, and then to Lauren. The necromancer only smiled.
“That was a short hunt,” Nancy called, coming around the corner that divided the kitchen from the dining room. Her mother leaned in the doorway. “Who’s your friend?”
“Hunt?” Lauren asked. For once the necromancer looked flabbergasted instead of Margaret.
Margaret didn’t have a second to waste waiting for instructions. It was clear that the broadcaster was jammed, likely from the mancy surrounding her home. She had to strike while the necromancer was confused.
Margaret reached under her jacket and felt the short sword that hung there. It was thin enough to conceal, but big enough she could do some serious damage with it. As quick as a striking snake, Margaret drew the blade and turned. It was one fluid movement from sheath to embedded in the necromancer’s neck.
Lauren’s eyes flashed with crystalline, ghostly blue power, and then faded. The necromancer slumped to the ground, slipping off the thin blade. As she fell, Margaret felt a chill rush through her, like a gossamer curtain of ice. It drifted through her mind, and she shivered. When it passed, the entryway of her home faded and the broadcaster buzzed back to life.
She found herself standing in the midst of a dark, shabby living room. Couches and chairs stood along the wall, slumping to the floor on broken legs. A cracked fireplace sat in the far wall from the doorway. To its left stairs ascended up to a second level. Directly across from the entrance stood another doorway, darkened with gloom.
In the doorway stood two blackened figures. As they slumped to the ground on all fours, Margaret heard a rush of hurried footsteps from upstairs.
The broadcaster buzzed with shouting voices and a flurry of activity.
:Maggie,: Adelaide cried out. :If you can hear me, get out of there!:
She reached for the door, but it was locked.
“It’s locked,” Margaret said, rattling the door as if that would persuade it to open. It was just her luck that the rest of the house was a shithole, but the door stood firm.
:Well, unlock it,: Lincoln buzzed through the broadcaster.
“Great idea, if only there were a key!” Margaret fired back. She turned toward the dead necromancer, slumped on the floor. It was odd that her body wasn’t bleeding, or even stranger that the ghouls were nestled on the floor near the necromancer, not coming closer to Margaret.
Other blackened figures stood at the base of the stairs. Skin tight, like paper, blackened in fire, stretched over their skeletal frames. The sight would typically frighten any normal person, but the hunters fought ghouls regularly.
Lauren coughed, and Margaret’s head snapped her way. The necromancer’s eyes blazed with cold fire. The ghouls backed away from the necromancer as Lauren pushed to her feet. She dusted off her full skirts and smiled at Margaret.
“Well, that was bracing,” she said. Her voice wasn’t as lusty as it was when they first met. Now it held a note of breathlessness, as if her windpipe might have been damaged in the blow, and she was having a hard time pushing the words out of her mouth.
Margaret shook her head. This wasn’t right, she’d sliced halfway through her neck. She should have been dead. But here she stood. Unless she’s not alive! The thought tore through her mind. It triggered something of her morning research, but just as before, the thought was fleeting, as if somehow Lauren was able to keep the thoughts from reaching the surface of Margaret’s mind.
“I killed you,” Margaret said.
“And yet, here I am!” the necromancer spread her arms wide, a smile splitting her face.
“She’s not dead,” Margaret said. There was no answer from the broadcaster.
“So, you’re a hunter?” Lauren said. “I should have known that you would come looking for me sooner or later. No matter, I’ve gathered some of your friends.”
“Margaret?” Nancy called from somewhere deeper in the house.
“Mom?” Margaret asked, looking around Lauren to the darkened room behind her where the ghouls lurked in the doorway. There was no answer from the broadcaster.
“Tricky little bit of mancy you have in your ear,” Lauren said. She clasped her hands before her waist. “Doesn’t work when you’re in the same house as those that share it, does it?”
“This is another trick,” Margaret said. The thought finally came to her, the thought that the strange power was keeping at bay. The answer she’d been looking for since she arrived. “You’re an illusionist. I’ve read about that kind of mancy. This isn’t real. My mother isn’t in this house.”
Lauren shrugged. “Am I?”
“This house was a lie when you showed it to me,” Margaret said. “And you’re doing it again with my mother.”
“Margaret, help me!” Lincoln screamed from deeper in the house, the same direction as Nancy. Margaret’s eyes darted toward the darkened kitchen. The screams and cries were coming from in there, somewhere.
Lauren looked back toward the ghouls, and all of them, including those at the base of the stairs, made their way into the kitchen, cracking and popping as they walked until they vanished from sight. Several moments later, Nancy and Lincoln screamed again.
It’s not my family, Margaret was resolute. She gripped her sword tighter. Margaret darted in, her sword swinging down toward Lauren. The necromancer didn’t move. She laughed as the sword hacked deeper into her, following a different trajectory through her collarbone and down toward her heart.
“Feisty,” Lauren said. She laughed pulling herself off the blade. “You don’t learn, do you?”
Lauren lashed out, her fist catching Margaret in the chest. She fumbled backwards, her arms wind milling under the force of the attack. She barely kept hold of her sword as she slumped down onto the couch, the breath choked from her body. When she caught her breath once more, Margaret spoke.
“I’m not going to fall for your tricks.” She pushed to her feet. Her legs were a little wobbly, but she locked her knees. “My clan will be here any moment with reinforcements.”
There was a thud on the front door. The necromancer didn’t seem to be surprised. “Maybe these are tricks,” Lauren said with a shrug. Only one shoulder went up, the other one seemed to be useless. Her arm dangled at her side where Margaret had chopped through muscle and bone. “But can you really trust what your mind says?”
Adelaide screamed. It echoed from somewhere beyond the kitchen. Margaret doubted if the house was actually that big, but all of the sobs and cries were coming from that direction.
The door opened with a great crash and Margaret turned, relieved that help had arrived. Relieved that her family and friends were really safe and they were moments away from ending this nightmare. But it wasn’t help that bustled through the door. It was an army of ghouls that tumbled inside. Teeth gnashing, white, bulbous eyes trained on her, yet seemingly not seeing anything. Their hands, withered, without nails and more than one showing bone through the leathery tissue, reached for her even as their death moans rattled out of their chest.
“You better save your family before it’s too late!” Lauren tossed her hands into the air and spun around, as if dancing to the sound of the screams.
“Goat, help me!” her father yelled.
Margaret glanced toward the kitchen. If this wasn’t an illusion, then she was dooming them. But if it was, why couldn’t she hear them through the broadcaster? Was it really necromancy interfering with their communications…or was it that Lauren truly had them within the depths of the house?
There was no time to consider options. Ghouls were lumbering down the stairs and into the living room.
Margaret shoved past Lauren and toward the dark room where she could hear the screams closer. It was a kitchen. A chandelier barely clung to the ceiling, looking like it might collapse at any moment. The table was covered with filmy glasses and plates piled high with molding bread. To her right, the counter was covered with mouse shit, filth, and broken dishes, and something that looked a lot like dried blood.
There was only one other way out of the kitchen and that was on the far wall. A darkened hallway with green, floral wallpaper and a mauve colored, threadbare rug led deeper into the house. At the other end of the hallway, an oil lamp burned behind a butterfly shade. The plaintive fire did little to illuminate the end of the hall, but Margaret could make out doorways along the hall that led into partially lit rooms, casting halos of light into the hallway.
Ghoulish hands reached for her, and Margaret fled down the hallway, her sword clasped in hand, though it might as well have been forgotten in her panic.
The first room she stumbled into was small and pink, or it might have been pink at one time. Layers of wallpaper shown through from beneath scratches and deep grooves in the walls. To the left sat a bare bed, more holes in the mattress than not. A cracked window, filmed with age and dirt, stood against the opposite wall…and on that wall was her brother.
Lincoln’s lax body had been hung from the wall with chains. A chain around his neck was all that was holding him in place. His face was a pale blue, his hands nearly gray. His glassy eyes stared down at the floor. Three ghouls stood before him, their blackened, leathery hands tearing into his flesh, pulling guts from his cavity and to their waiting mouths where they chomped on his intestines. A foul stench filled the air, the mingling of intestinal gas and a stronger, ranker smell of urine and feces.
“Oh no,” Lauren said behind her. In her voice, she sounded truly sorry. “You’re too late to save your brother. What will your father think? He’s put so much hope in him, and you let him down.” Lauren clucked a few times. “All of the trust and love he gave you, and you’ve squandered it.”
Margaret turned, lashed out at the necromancer with the sword, but it passed through her. Deeper in the house, she heard the necromancer laugh.
Margaret turned back to her brother, her mind muffled. She didn’t want to believe that this was real, that this was her brother, but the proof was before her. Lincoln was dead. She didn’t realize that she had cut down the ghouls until she was standing amidst their blackened bodies, reaching up for the chains that held Lincoln to the wall. Moments before she could loosen her brother, a terrible scream echoed out of the room across the hall.
There was no hope for her brother now, but there may be some hope for whoever was in the next room. Margaret dashed across the hall and into a room only slightly larger than the one her brother’s body occupied.
There was Adelaide, writhing on a bare mattress with ghouls bent over her. Their bodies blackened as if they were victims of a terrible fire. Their eyes read with bloodshot, pink muscles exposed through the cracks of their flesh.
Margaret charged into the room, severing the head from the ghoul nearest the door, and pushed the others away from her friend with a warning swipe.
“It’s too late!” the necromancer shrieked with glee as the ghouls merged with the shadows of the farthest corner of the room.
Lauren stood in the doorway, bent at the waist, cackling as if this was the greatest comedy she’d ever seen. “Hunters! Who thought they could be such fun? Looks like I’ve been targeting the wrong people all this time.”
Margaret charged at her and slammed her sword through Lauren’s center. Even if it didn’t do a thing, it made Margaret feel better. Time and again she jammed the sword home, but Lauren only laughed in her face. Once more the necromancer pulled herself off the blade and fled down the hallway.
“Dead,” she said, pointing into the next room. “Oh, and Nancy’s made a huge mess!” Lauren said, pointing into the next. Margaret didn’t want to turn back to the room. She could hear the ghouls feasting on Adelaide now that Margaret wasn’t near to protect her friend. The librarian’s screams fell silent.
Lauren stood at the end of the hall before the lamp. Her eyes flared with ghostly blue power.
“Go ahead, you can check if you want.”
But there were no more screams, and Margaret didn’t want to check the other rooms and see why the screams had stopped.
What she did want was at the end of the hall. Lauren. To kill the necromancer once and for all. There was a thought in her mind, something that she should be remembering from her studies earlier in the day. The thought tried to flit away, but Margaret reached for it, chasing it through her mind. Right when she was about to uncover what it was, she was struck with a great force. Margaret stumbled back against the doorframe, the memory, the key to defeating the necromancer retreated to the fare recesses of her mind an enigma once more. She shook her head and through the broadcaster the sound of banging pots shook her brain.
:Margaret Sara Vantasyl, you listen to me now!: Nancy yelled. :It’s all an illusion. She’s woven a spell over you.:
:Did you get through to her?: Lincoln asked.
:Yes, I believe so.: Nancy said.
:Goat, if you can hear us, please let us know,: Samuel said. :If you can hear us, say the word hear…somehow so she doesn’t know you can hear us.:
“I can’t hear the screams any longer,” Margaret said.
:We got her,: Adelaide said. :Hold tight Maggie, we are nearly there. Remember what we read—:
“Of course you can’t,” Lauren said. “They’re dead!”
:What we read!: Adelaide said. :She’s a lich. There’s something on her, about her, something that’s housing her soul. You have to destroy that. Anything that looks different about her, destroy it!:
Margaret sagged to the floor, tears slipping down her face. They were tears of joy, glad that her clan was safe, glad that they hadn’t died in that house. Lauren didn’t know that though, and she swayed closer to Margaret, laughing.
“Aww, poor thing. You let them all die!”
Margaret let the necromancer talk, let her prattle on thinking that she’d defeated her once and for all. She waited until the death mancer was closer, waited until she could see Lauren’s black slippers under her gaze before she acted. When she struck, it was swift and true. Behind her strike, Margaret put all of her fear of losing those that were closest to her, those who loved her unconditionally and those she loved the same. The strike was hard, straight through the only thing she’d noticed of difference about the necromancer, her ghostly blue eyes.
The sword sliced through the top of Lauren’s head. When her blade connected with the eyes, they shattered like glass. Fine dust slashed into the air, exploding outwards from her eyes. The top of her head thumped to the floor and tumbled away.
The dust didn’t settle on the floor, instead it hung on the air. A blue light shimmered from the dust of her eyes, and drifted toward Margaret. It drifted through her, and she felt a warmth. She knew without knowing precisely how she knew, that this wasn’t another attack. This was something else. The blue light seemed to kindle something in her. Deep within, she felt a blossoming of power, like a lotus flower opening up in the deep recesses of her mind.
Margaret sighed and slumped against the doorway. She only had a moment’s reprieve before she heard a racket in the living room. Through the buzz of the broadcaster, she heard the other hunters engaging the ghouls. Before long, the last of the undead were slain and Samuel thumped through the house, searching for Margaret.
He found her in the doorway. Samuel hugged her, and kissed her softly on the forehead.
“Let’s get you home,” Samuel said.
“Agreed, she’s done an amazing job,” Adelaide said, finding them in the hallway.
Through the broadcaster she could hear Lincoln speaking with the other hunter in the living room.
“Who was the Pralin that came with you?” Margaret asked Samuel.
“Vincent Pralin. He’s a scout,” Samuel said.
:You’ve all done a good job,: Nancy said on the other end of the broadcaster.
“How do you know?” Lincoln asked his mother. “You didn’t see us.”
:Shut up,: Nancy said, exasperated. :You’re still alive. That’s a great job in my book.:
“If I were your mother,” Vincent said to Lincoln, “you wouldn’t be alive for long.”
:I like him!: Nancy called.
Margaret followed her father and Adelaide out of the house and onto Main Street. It was there Margaret saw the scout clearly for the first time. The Pralin family was one of the families she’d heard of, but had never met. Still, she thought she’d seen him around before.
He was a tall man, wiry with strength that was hinted at by the way he carried himself, but couldn’t be evidenced through the brown leather long coat he wore. He was a black man with short hair and a goatee. His lips were full and pouty and his eyes wide and so dark they reminded Margaret of coffee.
“Hi,” Margaret said, pushing Lincoln out of the way and holding her hand out to Vincent. “I’m Margaret.”
“Hey!” Lincoln said. “You can’t eat him!
Adelaide snickered, but covered her mouth with her hand and pushed ahead. She grabbed Lincoln’s sleeve and led him away from the two of them so that Margaret was alone with the scout.
Samuel frowned at the young man, but the scout didn’t notice.
“I’m Vincent,” he said in a low voice that rushed through Margaret’s ears like velvet. He took her hand, his multitude of weapons shifted and clanged as he bent over the back of her hand. His eyes never left hers, and she thought she might just get lost in their depths. Her heart fluttered when his wet lips brushed across her knuckles.
“Nice to meet you,” Margaret blushed.
“Vince, aren’t you supposed to finish your patrol?” Samuel barked from a few feet away.
Adelaide slapped Samuel on the shoulder. “Leave them alone!”
“Yes, sir,” Vincent said. He glanced at Margaret one last time before fading into the shadows of an alley.
“That was good work with the necromancer,” Samuel told her.
“Very impressive,” Addie agreed.
“I agree,” Margaret said. She held up her short sword, slicked with necromancer and ghoul blood. “And I think this little beast has earned a spot on our trophy wall.”
Samuel nodded, and for a moment a swell of pride chased the butterflies away…but only for a moment.
Off the coast of North Shore, far out to see and away from Danthea, a cloud of bats fluttered through the night. Beady red eyes and a storm of leather wings tore through the air.
On the coast, standing on a rock above the cresting waves, a white haired man watched them come. His dark clothing kept him camouflaged against the deep of night in the deep of the night against the blackened Sea of Sorrows. He drew up his hood to shield himself from the glow of the blood moon.
The bats coalesced above the man, spiraled down to the ground, and formed into the figure of a tall man. Finally, the bats melted away revealing a stranger to Danthea. The vampire was tall, well-muscled, and with a face pitted and ruined from battle. His eyes glowed an angry, hungry red. His mouth was a thin circle of lips that the white-haired man knew could rosebud out into a pit of teeth, ready for feeding.
It was sheer will on the man’s part that the master vampire didn’t take him then. A tenuous touch of mancy kept the vampire in check.
You have people to cull? The vampire asked in more thought than anything else.
The white-haired man motioned to a log cabin on the coast. “You can start here.”
The vampire floated toward the house. When he reached the Welsh home, he found the door unlocked.
If you enjoyed The Dead of Sanguine Night you might also enjoy A Plague of Shadows Click here to start now!
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When women in the City Center are found dead in abandoned houses, consumed by ghouls, the council of vampire hunter clans reports the occurrences as the work of a necromancer. And Margaret is to be the bait used in an attempt to destroy her fiendish power. Will Margaret survive? Will the clans make it to her in time? Or is she to be the next victim of the necromancer? Suspenseful, dark, and full of danger, The Dead of Sanguine Night takes you into the life of a vampire hunter pitted against the horror that lurks in the night.