Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh the Things We Survive

Beoir Àite was eerily empty of its usual patrons but there was a reason for it this time other than the customers avoiding the wrath of the bar's owner. Now all of the windows were covered and the door was locked to keep anyone unexpected from coming in.

Only three figures were currently in the bar, two sitting at the counter with the other behind it since it was still her bar.

Elizabeth frowned as she refilled the glasses of the two men sitting before her and softly said, "Whatever he did, it's not Edward's fault."

The younger of the pair - Cyclaryn, sire of her own Line - looked up and frowned before commenting, "I thought you hated the fledgling for causing you to driving off customers some time ago."

"Edward's too sweet to hate," she corrected. "And it was my own fault, continuing to rage at him like I did." Her eyes flicked to the other man and she continued, "Sir, please -"

"Lizbeth," said the dark-skinned man softly as he curled his fingers around his glass, the nickname making her go quiet. He lifted his dark eyes to meet hers and smiled gently as he explained, "I am not going to kill the boy the moment he's brought through the door, I assure you. But this must happen because of what he has done."

"It wasn't his fault!" exploded Elizabeth suddenly. She ignored her great-grandsire's hissing of her name and barrelled on. "If anyone is to blame, it would be that sire of his!"

"Elizabeth!" snapped Cyclaryn. "I thought Kaeli taught you better than to snap at the First!"

The Welsh vampiress whirled on him then, wagging a finger in his face, and snarled, "Don't you give me that psuedo serious bullshit. Every single one of our Line know exactly how you are and it isn't some bootlicker, so don't pretend you are!" Turning back to the other vampire, she leaned on the counter and hissed, "This isn't fair, Omcha."

Omcha, the First, nodded his head slowly before saying, "The boy has broken none of the Laws. All he is responsible for are the deaths of these women." Looking at Cyclaryn, he asked, "What was the final count?"

"Thirty-four," answered his child. Cyclaryn then said to Elizabeth, "And we would have done something about his sire if we knew who it was."

"Cael Ward," said a voice from behind them and the trio turned as Darien let himself in with the key Elizabeth had given him once upon a time. That earned surprised looks from both older vampires and he shrugged. "Yeah, big joke from the universe with that one."

Omcha nodded in agreement then asked, "And what are you here for, Darien?" He then smiled and answered himself, "Ah. Support."

"Eligius is a friend," Darien confirmed with a nod. "Besides...if anyone of us should be here for Edward besides him, it's me. I know exactly what it's like to lose control like that." He didn't add that he had a tendency to kill more people indescriminately as they all knew that fact well enough.

Cyclaryn gave Omcha a questioning look but the First just shrugged and picked up his glass as he nodded towards the door Darien still held open. As the younger vampire turned to look, he observed, "Here they come," and everything went quiet.

Eligius came through the door first, nodding at Darien before he turned his gaze to Cyclaryn and Omcha. The Roman blinked then said softly, "Kivana didn't come."

At that Cyclaryn coughed and said, "My sister...she says she can't claim the actions of any of hers that are like this. I apologize on her behalf."

"Unacceptable. She -" Eligius sighed and bowed his head before saying, "No, I won't lose my temper. Not today." He turned, clapped Darien on the shoulder, then reached an arm up the outside stairwell. "Come, Mico. This must be done."

It took a few minutes for a shaking hand to reach down to take his and then Edward came into view, his entire body trembling so much that he missed a stair and tumbled into his lover's arms. Eligius lowered him to the floor as Darien pushed the door shut and turned the lock again with a finial click that made the youngest vampire flinch. It took a few minutes but Edward slowly lifted his gaze to the pair seated at the bar and a whimper left his lips.

"I didn't -" he began but Omcha lifted a hand to still his words. Edward flinched back, pushing himself further against Eligius, and the First blinked before lowering his hand with a sad expression on his face.

"Tell me what happened," Omcha said gently.

Edward looked nervously up at Eligius then over at Darien who had moved to stand next to the couple. While his lover merely hugged him tightly, Darien laid a hand gently on the younger vampire's shoulder and said softly, "Tell them. It will be all right." The blond gave him a look that said he didn't believe that but nodded before drawing in an unneed breath with a shudder.

"I-I was going to work," he began slowly. "Just walking along, thinking about what needed to be done today...and then I heard him."

"Who?" asked Cyclaryn.

"Cael," answered Edward in a tone that said it should have been obvious. " 'Oh, how you've fallen,' he said. 'Here I saved you, made you this marvelous killer...and you go falling from grace. Do you know how that hurts me?' " A strangled, hysterical laugh tore out of the young vampire's throat and he gave the two eldest vampires in the bar a half-mad look. "Hurts him, he said. Him. The one that did this to me, that-th-that ra -"

"Shh," breathed Eligius, fingers slipping over Edward's lips. "We talk of him now, not then, Candeo. Tell them what he did next."

The young vampire nodded at that and began again.

"He said then, 'It looks like I'm going to have to reteach our lessons.' And I told him no, that I was happy, that I was with someone that loved me, that I didn't need him. He laughed. Laughed. Said 'You don't know what you want, child. This life they all lead - it's just an illusion they think they can live. Now Voschlaq...Voschlaq and most of his know the truth I know.' Then he moved towards me and I wanted to run but I couldn't. He...he touched my cheek and said, 'The truth you know deep in that wicked little heart of yours.' "

Edward shivered as he continued, "I told him I wasn't wicked and he laughed at me again. Told me that if I wasn't, then why did I do what I did after he Turned me? Said, 'You know you love what you did then. Love the blood. Love the hunt, the kill. I doubt that soldier so smitten with you even let's you that far off the leash. He doesn't want you to be what you really are.' "

A growl rumbled out of Eligius and Edward paused to touch the taller vampire's face, looking up at him as he breathed, "I called him a liar. Laughed in his face. Told him you were far more my sire than he ever was." He then looked at Omcha and said, "Cael grabbed me then in a rage, dragging me back into the alley he came from. He...he did the things he d-did to me before. And I...I got lost."

"It's all blood after that. And those women's faces," finished Edward softly, closing his eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to -"

"Shh," hushed Darien, touching his shoulder again. He then looked at Cyclaryn and Omcha, eyes narrowed as he snarled, "Isn't that enough to go after Cael without Kivana's permission? We all know she won't give it."

"She's terrified of him with good reason," explained Omcha. "He stalked her across Europe for a century in the 1400s. Didn't stop until Jifar managed to knock him unconscious and locked him in some cathedral tomb in Italy."

Cyclaryn coughed at that. "Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence," he supplied. At the First's look, he explained, "She didn't want to go back there again and he was taking care of her so he asked me to go check if Cael was still there. If he had been there when I arrived, I would have killed him him just for daring to stalk an Elder, let alone my sister."

"So," said Darien, "after that he escaped and just roamed around killing freely?"

Omcha just nodded and Darien continued in exasperation, "And we just let him? He's nothing more! He is the embodiment of everything that I was and more! Gods, we're damn lucky I never met him back then."

"The world would have gone up in blood and fire," intoned Cyclaryn. He then looked at Omcha and said, "I am of the mind we hunt him down, whatever Kivana may say about leaving him be. He crept into this city like a ghost to merely torment his own child and caused the mindless slaughter of thirty-four humans. Should that not be as much a crime as child attacking sire?"

"It is as of now," answered Omcha. He moved from the bar stool then, slowly crossing the room to where Edward still huddled in Eligius' arms. As his eyes met the Roman's briefly, the First touched the young vampire's shoulder and said gently, "I know that this will haunt you for the rest of your life, child, but this was not your doing. There will be no repercushions from this, not for you. You are safe."

Edward had first flinched away from the touch then had stared at Omcha, his eyes filling with tears as the oldest vampire spoke. He slowly nodded then turned in Eligius' arms, burying his face in the older vampire's chest as he let out a sob.

Eligius inclined his head respectfully to the First and Omcha returned it before saying, "Come, Cyclaryn, if we are to find him, we should begin now."

"I'll meet you outside the city," answered Cyclaryn as they unlocked the door and left the bar together. "Tehran isn't going to let us leave without her after I tell her what happened."

"You know I always welcome your sister's council and aid," those left below in the bar heard Omcha say before the two older vampires drifted out of range. There was silence amongst them except for Edward's sobs until they finally stopped and the blond turned in Eligius' arms.

He smiled at Darien and said, "Thanks. You didn't have to be here."

Darien shook his head at that and smiled at the younger vampire. "Yes, I did," he assured. "Eligius has been my friend for some time before you came into his life, Edward. And I felt you needed someone here who'd been through something similar."

Edward blinked in confusion and the Irish vampire said, "I've given Eligius permission to tell you later. Right now I think you both need to go back home and relax."

"Which is exactly where we are about to go," rumbled Eligius. "Darien, Lizbeth, we shall see you later." He then gently guided Edward out of the bar, the young vampire waving over his shoulder before they disappeared.

Darien closed the door behind them and sagged against it before breathing, "Gods."

"You didn't honestly think that Omcha was going to kill him, did you?" asked Elizabeth as she poured out something into a shot glass and held it out towards him. As he staggered over and threw back the liquor, she said, "You did."

"I've seen two like him be killed before with kill counts at ten," hissed Darien as he sat down on the bar stool Cyclaryn had abandoned. "Plus I didn't know why Edward had gone over the edge - Eligius didn't tell me anything except when the meeting was." He ran a hand over his face and shrugged as he continued, "I didn't know what to expect."

"Darie, if Omcha spared you, I think he will spare anyone."

"That doesn't make me feel any better given what I was, Liz," he grumbled, grabbing the bottle to pour another shot. After he downed it, Darien said, "And I'm the exception, remember? The only reason I got spared was Everett begging for my life on her hands and knees."

Elizabeth's eyebrows went up and he said, "Kaeli told me that after. Said it proved how much she cares about the three of us." Then he coughed and continued, "Anyway, I think the real reason was Eligius."


Darien gave her a level look before he answered, "You don't have to know anything about them to know that Eligius would do anything for him. If Omcha had brought down the death sentence, there would have been a fight."

"Could he have won?" asked Elizabeth.

"Against Cyclaryn at least." At her surprised look, he chuckled. "Trust me, I've seen them both fight. Cyclaryn may have some practice at hand-to-hand but you need to remember that Eligius was a Roman legionaire. And he keeps in practice."

She smiled at that and said, "I seem to recall you becoming fairly good with a blade yourself."

He snorted and shook his head. "Fencing. I showed Eligius the only sword I kept from a duel - you remember the Frenchman that nearly gutted me? He looked at it and laughed before asking me if I really called that a blade."

Elizabeth laughed.

"What did you say in response?" she asked.

Darien gave her a sideways grin as he answered, "Told him that, no, I called it Isabeau and she didn't take kindly to not being considered a blade."

They both had a long laugh at that and fell into silence after, Darien fiddling with the shot glass in front of him and Elizabeth frowning at the counter top. After a moment she lifted her head then reached across to rest her hand on top of his wrist, stopping his movement. When he lifted his eyes to meet hers, she asked, "Will he be all right?"

He stared back at her for a moment, thinking of a time when she had asked him that same question, then smiled.

"Given what he's already survived," he replied in a quiet voice, "and who he has on his side, I think Edward is going to be just fine, Liz."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Breakdown, Part II: Truth Behind the Delusions

Eligius gathered Edward up in his arms slowly, trying not to think of how long it had taken him this time to hunt down his wayward lover. They still weren't certain what had caused the fledgling's break this time but he had been loose for two days in the burroughs, killing at any whim, until he'd finally been spotted. Contacts in the police departments throughout the city were reporting that he had killed at least twenty-seven women in those two days; those were the reports so far that they had confirmed were him. There were over two dozen more possibles still needing investigating.

"Jove, Mico," rumbled the Roman, pausing to brush back the glitter encrusted blond hair. "What happened?"

"Will he be okay?" asked a voice from behind him and Eligius turned his head to look at the brunette he'd asked to assist him.

Sighing, he slowly stood up and pulled his unconscious lover in close to his chest, as much an attempt to protect him as keep him from getting away if he woke. Then Eligius looked at the young she-wolf and answered, "I don't know, Mary. This time...I may not be able to get him out of trouble. The First has heard of what happened - he's come to investigate."

Mary Halvar's eyes widened at that and she breathed, "But...he's not a Rogue. I thought they only killed Rogues."

"Any uncontrollable vampire," he corrected with a heavy heart. Two thousand years he had lived but he couldn't think of how to protect Edward from that.

She frowned at that and looked sadly at the unconscious Edward. Mary knew them both pretty well as she'd been one of the few to actually get up and sing karaoke the night Edward had talked Elizabeth into letting him set it up at her bar. They had become friends after that and Eligius had treated her with the kindest respect.

After a moment she wrapped her arms around herself and asked, "Are they going to kill him? 'Cause I'll speak up if they say they are." Shaking her head vigorously Mary added, "I know Edward and that...that thing that assaulted me wasn't him."

"No," agreed Eligius, "it wasn't. But this isn't the first time that side of him has gotten out...nor will it be the last."

"Eli," she breathed, tears already streaming down her cheeks at his words. She knew them to be true though - Eligius had warned her of Edward's 'problem.' "There's gotta be something."

The Roman sighed and fixed the she-wolf with a sad gaze. "Right now," he stated slowly, "we don't know what will happen. It will take some time for the investigation to happen as there are still reports of him killing women coming in."

Mary bit her lip then said, "If you need me -"

"I will call," promised Eligius, forcing a smile for her benefit. "Now go home, cagnolina. You know I will do all in my power to keep him safe."

"I know," she whispered. Stepping forward, she gently touched Edward's arm then turned and fled, Eligius able to smell the salt of her tears and hear the sobs she tried to swallow. He wanted to follow her, to comfort the little she-wolf who was a friend both himself and his lover but he couldn't.

First he needed to get Edward home and cleaned up for the inevitable meeting with the First.

Then Eligius had to begin the task of picking up the pieces of his lover again.

Breakdown, Part I: Glittering Delusions of the Mind

Sunlight reflected off tanned skin, bouncing from pinpricks of glitter that clung almost desperately to bare flesh. The young man was covered in it from head to toe, glitter even disappearing past the waistline of the tight jeans he wore as well as glimmering in his blond hair. From a distance he was nothing more than a lean twenty-something male wandering the streets.

The key words being 'from a distance.'

Up close it became apparant that there was something very wrong with the young man.

The fact that he did not merely walk was the first thing; instead he moved with the smooth, stalking strides of a predator who is at the top of the food chain and knows this fact. Then there was his smile, which was stretched wide to show off white teeth in a feral grin that could send shivers racing up the spine of even the most hardened. His eyes were cool pools of blue-green, like a peices of frozen sea water, and shone with only one emotion: hunger.

Most noticeably up close, of course, were the flecks of blood that clung to the side of his mouth and were spattered across his chest and shoulders.

He was barefoot, walking down the busy sidewalk in broad daylight, but he didn't care. A stacatto drumbeat filled his head and he occassionally whistled along with it, drawing strange looks as his tune drifted from nonsense to a song of his birth decade and then on to something more recent. Most, once having looked, quickly turned their heads and hurried on, either disturbed by his smile or having noticed the blood drying on his skin.

Let them call the police on him. He could tear through them in the time it took one of the poor little bloodbags to breath and not leave enough of them behind to fill a thimble. So let them come - let them just try to take him down.

He was of Kivana, the weakest of the Elders who had passed that on to her children, but he was not weak. No, his sire had showed him how to not be weak like the rest of their kin, Line and extended blood included.

And the police were only human.

Was it not their duty as vampires to cull the herd? To keep their weeping, crawling, miserable population from completely overrunning the world? That was what they had evolved to be, wasn't it? What the world had willed their creation for?

He stopped whistling, throwing back his head to laugh, drawing furtive looks from those on the sidewalk around him, and then he saw her. Pretty. Tall. Slim. Brunette. Oh, most importantly, brunette.

She had to be his. He wanted, no, needed to taste her, touch her. Taste her skin with his lips. Feel her blood flowing across his tongue. Touch her trembling muscles as she was frozen in terror. He needed that - now. Even with his belly already full of blood, he needed her.

A smile stretched his lips as he moved towards her but he was frequently forced back from her as she darted here and there amongst the crowds. Slowly his smile began to fade and a growl rumbled in his chest as he shoved past a man to try and catch up with her. He could push through them all and catch her with no difficulties but that would make the chase all too easy. And he didn't want that.

When she had to stop at a crosswalk, he caught her. Slid close up behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist, tugging her tall frame harshly against his before resting his chin on her shoulder. "Hello there," he purred, flashing his teeth in a predator's smile. When her eyes widened, he laid his other hand on her hip and applied just a little pressure with his fingers, rewarded a moment later with a gasp of pain. "Now don't scream," he warned, "you and I...we're just going to have a little chat. Alone."

She nodded and he smiled as he led her back down the street towards an alley that he knew had a little alcove that would be just perfect. He could feel her trembling already and wondered what she was thinking. Did she believe he was going to merely mug her? Rape her? Could she even imagine what was really about to happen?

Well, he mused with a little smirk, he could rape her. It had been far too long since he had felt the soft skin of a woman against his. Far too long. Oh. Oh yes, the idea was growing more tempting by the moment.

He smiled as they moved down the alley, ready to shove her against the wall when they reached the alcove, to tear down all her defenses and leave her broken when he was though. That was what his sire had taught him to do, wasn't it?

However, he didn't get the chance.

Before the alcove she suddenly twisted - changed - in his arms and slipped from his grasp. He didn't quite catch it when it happened and turned around in shock, eyes widening as he saw a dark brown she-wolf before him now with her fangs bared. She lunged at him and he took an instinctive step back, light reflecting off the glitter on his back and shoulders as he went through a patch of light -

Then someone stepped out of the dark alcove and swung a tire iron at his head.

His last thought was to curse his weak half and his filthy lover.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lesson Five is on Repeat

Sequel to Lesson Four Comes Before Lesson One (Sometimes)


“So let's run through this again,” said Lyri, gesturing across the table with her spoon at Cavan. He groaned at that and next to her Marik smothered a laugh in his sleeve before focusing intently on his plate. The pilot gave the teenage apprentice a brief glower then looked at the blue-haired mechanic with a pleading gaze.

Cavan wheedled, “Can I not eat breakfast in peace just this once, Illyri?”

Lyri frowned and tapped the edge of her spoon against the surface of the table in a slow, rhythmic pattern. After a moment she drawled, “Not when you're about to take my baby into battle again after two months on the off-duty roster.”

Your baby?!”

Yeah, mine. I'm the one that's pieced her back together every time you've tore her apart these past six years. You want to argue with me on that, Cavan?”

He met her gray eyes, flicked his gaze up to her slightly arched eyebrows, then lowered his gaze back to his food. Grumpily he pushed potatoes around on his plate with his fork before he grumbled, “No.”

Good,” said Lyri with a brief scowl. She ceased tapping her spoon against the table then and reached across the table to flick him across the nose with it. As he yelped and batted it away, she repeated, “So let's run through this again. Lesson Five is repetition, repetition, repetition, remember?”

With a frown and a roll of his eyes, Cavan sat down his fork then pushed his plate away so he could fold his arms along the edge of the table. He knew well enough by now that when she started demanding rote and roll from him that he wasn't about to get anything else to eat. “So what first, Battlemaster?”

That earned him another flick across the nose and a snarl of, “Don't call me that.”

As Lyri settled back into her seat, she flicked Marik on the ear and scolded, “And don't snicker at him. You'll make him think he's actually funny.”

Oy!” exclaimed Cavan. “I'll have you know I am quite funny!”

Well it's not your towering sense of humor that I'm after,” she shot back. “I want to hear how you're going to take care of my baby.”

Fine, fine...gods, don't hit me again! I'm about to start talking, woman!”

Lyri smiled serenely as she leaned back in her seat, lowering the spoon she'd been about to flick him with again to the table, and waited. Cavan scowled at her then closed his eyes and let out a breath as he settled his mind. When he opened his eyes again, his thoughts were completely focused and his expression had gone starkly serious.

System start-up with my code followed by checking that all systems are working. After that I can bring up the loadouts to make sure the armor is set right, limbs aren't sticking, and everything's in the green.” Cavan paused for a moment and asked, “How far do you want me to go?”

To getting your ass and hers back in the ship hangar in one piece,” answered Lyri, flicking Marik on the ear again as he snickered.

The pilot frowned but didn't roll his eyes as might have been expected. Then he continued, “If all shows up green, I'm clear to move out with the rest of the squad on the mission. Group of thirty raiders is the target and I am – by order of the Commander – to run as Colonel Treize's wing-man when he goes after the fuel supplies we know they have on surface. If all goes well, the supplies will be in our hands; worst case scenario, they blow them in an attempt to flambe and/or blind us and we proceed to light up their sorry asses like the cowards they are.”

Cavan paused, scratching the back of his head, then finished, “All going well with the other members of the squad, we should have the camp neutralized in minutes. If they actually manage to get some of their Mechs up and running, maybe an extra ten to twenty depending on how many they get going. After that it's back home.”

Now it'll just have to actually go like you plan,” mumbled Marik, earning another flick about the ear from Lyri. “Ow! I'm just sayin'!”

That's jinxing the whole damn mission,” she growled in response. “Superstitions, Marik, you've got to remember mercenary superstitions! You can't just say something like that when we're about to send a squad off on a job.”


No harm done, honestly,” said Cavan with a shake of his head. He grinned at the apprentice then rose from his seat, picking up his plate as he went. “You believe too much in the old superstitions, Illyri. Keep a gun underneath your pillow too?”

The blue-haired mechanic just grinned at him before replying, “And a knife.”

He laughed at that then said, “I'll be fine. Trust me.”

As Cavan walked away, Marik leaned over and asked softly, “I...I didn't actually jinx the squad, did I, Lyri?”

Lyri smiled fondly at him and pulled the teenager into a hug, ruffling his hair.

Don't you worry, Rik,” she said as her eyes followed Cavan as he left the mess hall, swallowing her own fears. “He'll be fine. And he'll keep my baby in one piece if he doesn't want to get shot when he comes back.”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ain't No Rest For the Wicked

Sequel to Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)


“Never seen a man look so all alone,” purred the brunette as she leaned in close. She batted her eyelashes as she added, “Could you use a little company?”

Devin eyed the gorgeously buxom woman up and down, taking in all of her delicious curves as he resisted the urge to drool. She was perfect. Absolutely everything he could ask for in a woman – even if she was a prostitute.

The aura he projected as a werewolf tended to make vanilla humans skirt around him for the most part though, so he couldn't give her the benefit of the doubt. It was likeliest that she was some kind of beastie. And probably one that was looking for a meal.

Smiling, the brunette leaned closer and trailed her hand down his chest, drawing a line of delicious fire in her wake that gave him hints as to what she was. When he hand settled over his crotch and the raw need came to life in his loins, he knew.

Sighing, Devin shook his head and dug his pack of fags out of the back pocket of his jeans, enjoying her look of surprise as he nonchalantly lit one up. As he blew out smoke above their head, he gave her his best smile and moved her hand from his crotch with his free hand.

“Sorry, love,” he purred, “but I'm afraid I can't ask you why you do this to yourself because I already know exactly how.”

Surprise flashing through her dark eyes for a moment then she tried to draw a reaction out of him again. Devin drew on his own supernatural side, cloaking himself in the wolf's mind, and let out a rumbling growl of a laugh at her sudden wide eyes. Oh, yes, she sensed him now.

“Hello, succubus.”

“Dog!” she snarled and scrambled back from him, looking at the hand that had touched him as though it had betrayed her. He took offense at that and affected a hurt look before even going so far as to lift an arm and sniff at himself. In response she sneered and spat, “Your kind would smell foul to mine no matter what, dog.”

Devin just laughed at that and took another drag on his fag before saying, “You weren't saying that a minute ago when you hand was on my crotch.”

“A mistake. I will leave you.”

She turned to go but froze at the sound of a shell being chambered, the sound itself echoing through the alley behind the pub like a cannon going off. The succubus slowly turned her head to look back at Devin and he smiled in false apology as he pointed the double barrels of his sawed-off shotgun at her.

“Sorry, love,” he remarked as he held the fag between his teeth and gripped the gun with both hands, “but I'm afraid I really can't just let you wander off. You might come across some other bloke and seriously bugger up his night.”

“I must ,” she hissed, eyes turning from a rich chocolate to red. “Surely you understand.”

“Oh please don't try to play on my sentimentalizes,” snarled Devin with a roll of his eyes. “I may be something that stalks the night like you but I don't hurt innocent people. And you can't really argue with me on that as I've been watching you for three days now so I've seen that you don't care.”

The succubus let loose with a rattling hiss at that, lips drawing back from suddenly needle sharp teeth, and then she was rushing at his throat in a blur of motion. If she had been hoping to catch him with his pants down, she had another thing coming.

Devin had been hunting things like her since he'd first changed and Sarah had found her calling.

As the shotgun blasted the succubus back against the opposite wall of the alley, making a mess of her face and chest, he hopped down from the trash can he had been perched on. Calmly, he reloaded the shotgun as she slid down the wall in a whimpering heap of only half-alive flesh down and paused to shake the ash off of the end of his fag. She looked up at him, her beautiful face half torn away, and tried to beg through a mouth that was no longer there.

“Sorry,” he said as he pressed the end of the barrels into her chest where her heart would be and pulled the trigger.

Paul found him there in the alley an hour later sitting on the same trash can again and staring at a pile of slowly evaporating ooze as he smoking idly.

“Got one?” he asked.

“Succubus,” grunted Devin. “You?”

“Ghoul tried to bloody mug me. She tried to work her magic on you?”


Paul snorted and slugged him in the shoulder, saying, “Well you don't have to be so glum, mate! C'mon, let's head inside and have a pint. I'll even buy.”

Devin arched his eyebrows at that. “I thought my dear sister had disallowed you beer buying privileges.”

“Mate...I ain't that emasculated.”

“Could'a fooled me.”

At that Paul took a swipe at his head but Devin ducked the blow this time and landed one of his own in his friend's gut as he slid off the trash can. “Okay,” he said as he tossed away the end of the spent fag, “if you're buying, I'm willing.”



They looked at each other then burst out laughing, playfully punching and slapping at each other like kids as they made their way to the pub's back door. As soon as Paul pulled it open, Devin went still and earned a confused look. “What is it?”

“Blood,” growled the werewolf in response, his nostrils flaring with the coppery scent. His eyes took on a golden sheen as he added, “Lots of it.”

Paul cursed and reached into his pocket, pulling out the brass knuckles he favored in a fight despite Devin's soft, “I don't think you're going to need them.” Together they slowly made their way from the back of the bar and by the time they reached the front, Devin was holding off a full-on transformation by only the skin of his teeth.

“Jesus bleeding Christ,” breathed Paul as he took in the whirlwind carnage of the pub. There were no bodies, just shreds of flesh and guts amongst all of the blood, and yet the music as well as the television played on through it. “What sodding thing did this?”

“Bugger if I know,” growled Devin in response. “We're not getting that pint though.”

“Shit.” His friend ran a hand back through his hair before nodding. “Yeah,” he added. “Let's get out of here and call the bobbies. Christ. I'll try and perform a tracer spell before we leave.”

Devin nodded as they turned to head through the back again then snorted. As Paul gave him a curious look, he said, “Ain't no rest for the wicked, eh?”

“Not till we close our eyes for good,” answered the warlock with a shake of his head.

Together Into the Unknown

Sequel to I Will Not Bow


Alendan's fingers slipped from his handhold on the rocks above his head, causing him to let out an exclamation of surprise and pain as one of his fingernails tore away and he slid downward. When he caught himself again, he hugged to the rocks for a moment, just breathing then looked to his right at a scrabbling noise.

Sharin pulled herself up next to him, the claws on her paw-like hands far more versatile than his own at clinging to the rocks. Her blue eyes blinked at him before she asked, “Are you all right?”

“Slipped,” he grunted, aware that he was still shaking. Alendan closed his eyes as he added, “Just...just give me a minute.”

The Beastling made a noise in her throat that was a mix of growl and cough before saying, “You have already stated that we cannot waste time, charas. They will be aware of us having left the city by now, yes?”

Alendan nodded against the rocks then slowly pushed himself away from them, trying to control his shaking since he knew she was right. “Some of my people will be laying false trails for them to follow over our own,” he explained. “So while the King may be aware that we've left Karnath, his guards won't be sure which trail to follow.”

She frowned at that, ears flicked back, then purred and flicked her tail slightly. “I see,” she rumbled softly, “that is why you wished to make imprints of my paws, yes? So they could make trails.”

“Right. And you're right as well that we should keep moving.” He frowned as he reached up for a handhold and tested it twice before he began to pull himself up along the rock face again. “Eventually the King will bring in trackers and I want to be past the eastern border before then.”

A hiss answered him along with a softly growled, “The War Lands. The Quisla and Draim will not be pleased to see me again let alone you, charas.”

Alendan would have shrugged if he had been able to. Instead he tilted his head slightly to the side before saying, “Well, they'll just have to deal with it, won't they? I'm not letting you go home alone after what you told me about how your traveling party was killed.”

“What makes you think you can do better than those I had with me?”

“Because I'm a sneaky southron.” He turned his head to grin down at her as best he could and found Sharin looking up at him with an unamused twist to her muzzle, her whiskers twitching up and down with irritation. “Plus,” added Alendan, “I'm not afraid to knife someone in the back if it means my survival. From what I know of your kind, Sharin, you're too honorable for that.”

His answer to that was an immediate growl.

“There is no honor in such fighting,” she hissed after a moment. “No glory. My kin cannot see the sense in such action.”

Alendan tried to think of a way to explain it and settled for saying, “Trust me when I say I don't go around stabbing anyone in the back. I only do it if I have to, Sharin.”

“Mmm, when your tail is under your foe's paw.”

He frowned at the Beastling proverb for a moment, pausing to test his handhold on the rocks, then nodded. “Exactly what I meant...if I've got the translation right.”

Sharin rumbled out an amused growl before she said, “Well enough as your weak ears hear it, charas.”

That brought a laugh out of Alendan then they both fell silent as the wind picked up, too busy hugging to the rocks to keep from being blown off as they kept moving. There was no noise but for the scrabbling of flesh and claw against stone until they reached the top. Alendan dragged himself up, crawling on his belly, and lay there as he heard her coming up behind him. She let out a snort as she crested the edge and then settled down next to him, her tail flicking across his back.

“So,” began Sharin, “why do you so want to come with me, Alendan?”

Frowning, he pushed himself onto his elbows and asked, “What do you mean?”

“You have risked the wrath of your king to escort me. Surely after this you will not be allowed back within this kingdom?”

Alendan shrugged at that – he had thought long and hard on what would happen since the day he had rescued her from her death. “Probably. I think it was time to pick up and move though, anyway. Some people were starting to get suspicious of my work and I was itching to get away myself. So...perhaps it's for the best.”

He tilted his head back to grin at her wryly before he added, “I've got traveling in my blood as my mum used to always say. Too much northern influence from my grandfather...he and my father could never stay for long at home on the coast.”

Sharin frowned for a moment then said, “So we are both to be without our blood kin.”

Alendan looked at her sharply and she explained, “I and my guardians were fleeing when we were captured upon your King's lands. There had been an usurpation amongst the Pride-Lords and it was seen best that I leave to preserve the bloodline.”

“Oh.” He frowned at that and slowly sat up, folding his long legs together before he leaned his elbows on his knees. Out of the corner of one eye he could see her watching him and finally asked, “Is there any reason for you to go home then?”

“Not without support. It is likeliest that my kin are all dead.” Sharin flicked her ears back and bowed her head as she continued, “I apologize for not speaking of it sooner.”

“It's fine,” waved off Alendan. He gnawed on his lower lip then said, “We should keep for east for now but head north before we reach the border. I've got a few contacts and kin up there that we can rely on for some shelter along the way. Once we cross over into North we'll be safe; they're plenty fine with Beastlings and other non-humans up there. Even heard a few tales from a Northman of his cousin marrying a canine Beastling.”

“I have heard of such unions,” rumbled Sharin, her whiskers twitching again. Her ears flicked back and forth several times before they settled again as she said, “It is...unseemly...for my kind to do such.”

“Looked down upon, you mean.” Alendan smiled slightly. “You don't think much of humans, do you?”

The Beastling shrugged at that, the tip of her tail tapping against the rock.

“Your kind are barbarians to us.” She paused to smile, showing only the slightest bit of her bright fangs, before finishing, “At least those of you we have not met are.”

He grinned at that and asked, “Am I to take that to mean that I'm not a barbarian?”

Sharin purred in response, her eyes lidded in amusement, answering, “Perhaps.”

Alendan chuckled then got to his feet, resettling his pack against his shoulders, before he reached out a hand down to her. “Well then,” he said, “shall we continue on, my Lady? Together?”

With a smile, Sharin slid a paw-hand into his and let him pull her to her feet as she purred, “We shall, charas.”