BloodBorne Ch. 01bypurefire©
Nights like this really did annoy the shit out of him. Jameson's ramblings did help things a bit, but nothing changed the fact that he wasn't quite himself. And that annoyed him. He'd left the manor in the modest Mercedes Benz SLR -- modest for him, anyway. It was a lot less flamboyant than his 2010 Aston Martin DB9 and with the top down, he was given an almost majestic view of the cloudless sky. The stars shimmered like diamonds, and nearly distracted from the fact that the moon was nowhere to be seen. He leaned back in his seat to watch them as his brother went on and on about his latest retail finds. While he couldn't care any less about sofas and drapes, the sound of Jameson's voice distracted him from the inner turmoil threatening to snap his already thin membrane of control.
"Did you head what I said?"
Of course he heard. He just didn't think his brother's words merited a comment.
"I'm right fucking here." He let out a frustrated breath at Jameson's knowing laugh. "You're talking loud enough for the goddamned island to hear."
"Considering it's rainy season here in Martinique, that's doubtful."
Liam grunted in agreement when he heard the rumble of thunder through the phone receiver. He shifted and cursed when his Bluetooth earpiece nearly fell from his ear. "Charisma likes the house?" The house their half-demon brother, Andraemalek bought his love, Nadia. She'd been gone nearly two years now. And every day felt as if he'd just seen her lifeless body for the first time. Death was never a light thing; Liam had known plenty of people who'd died in the past, but never had he loved any of them. Nadia was his sister, his friend. She cared about him despite his abrasive personality. She was one of the kindest people he'd ever known. And now she was dead. Logic told him to move on and concentrate on his ever-evolving family. But that was almost impossible to do when everything reminded him of her; the sparkling stars twinkled similarly to the way her eyes did when they watched game shows together. Quite frequently he'd walked into the kitchen to find his brother Alexis consuming refrigerated peanut butter cups -- Nadia's favorite treat. It was bad enough that he didn't do well with pain; he didn't need any constant reminders of his turmoil.
"I'm right fucking here! Shit!"
"How should I know that? You're unusually quiet."
"I'm tired," Liam sighed, "I took down three Tovacht demons."
"Solo?" Jameson didn't like that bit of news at all. Tovacht demons were known for spitting a fatal acid that burned through titanium in seconds. While Liam's abilities of healing others also have him regenerative traits, Jameson knew that he'd be hard pressed to survive Tovacht spit. "Liam, how many times-"
"Calm the fuck down. I'm fine."
"This is why I can't leave you by yourself."
"I'm still a-fucking-live, aren't I?" Liam resisted the urge to smile at his brother's overdrawn breath. "Where is Charisma?" He asked to change the topic.
"She's decided that meditation is the best method of controlling her abilities."
Liam laughed sardonically as he said, "I'm amazed you let that woman carry on with her crazy human beliefs." Conquering one's abilities came with practice, not meditation. Charisma was a fool to believe otherwise.
"If she thinks it'll work..."
"Oh for fuck's sake, grow some balls and tell her how shit really is in our line of work."
"I'd rather be nice and let her figure it out on her own."
"And waste precious time while you're at it."
Liam sighed at the critique, hating that his brother was partially right. "She's your woman." He almost smiled at Jameson's laugh, knowing that the particular pitch of the reaction meant that his brother wholeheartedly agreed with his comment. Charisma was Jameson's woman; how he chose to deal with her silly human beliefs was his business. "You should get back to island life," Liam remarked after hearing the thunder in the background once more. He didn't mention that the sound only served to remind him of Nadia. Had things been different, she'd be on the island, facing the heart of the storm. He thought over Jameson's command to be nice and realized that he'd made a grave mistake never telling Nadia how much he valued her. He shouldn't have yelled at her as much as he had; Liam knew that he scared her at first; he scared most women, but Nadia should have been an exception. She was his sister. His friend. He should have been nicer.
"You ok, man? You keep fading out."
"I'm fine," Liam snapped. A second later, he ended the call and let his head fall back against the head rest. Jameson wouldn't call back; he knew that Liam rarely ended a call with a proper farewell. Liam was happy about that; with the thoughts rolling through his mind, he was in a fouler mood than usual. "Fucking Nadia," he murmured. It killed him that he hadn't moved passed the mourning stage. He wondered if he ever would; as it was, her death kept him from bonding with his other female family members. The situation wasn't fair, but it was the only way to keep from having to mourn anyone else. When he thought about it, Liam realized that it probably was a good thing that he wasn't nicer to Nadia; had he been, they would have been even closer. The pain would have then been unbearable.
A glimmer in the distance prompted Liam to lift his head. He focused on the tree line leading to the nearby park, waiting for what was to come. At the cold sizzle that shot down his spine, he sat up straight. A demon was near. The tree branches shifted and parted and soon, a gang of demons disappeared. From the distance, they looked like large apes. Tovacht demons. Shit, they'd come to finish him off. Liam searched the area, not looking for any humans, but for any weapons that would aid him in the upcoming fight. The ability to heal meant he didn't have a defensive power to hold the demons off. He had to depend on hand-to-hand combat, which wouldn't be a problem if the growing swarm of demons was manageable. "Fuck," he muttered. He couldn't stay and wait to be ambushed, but it wasn't in him to run. He was a fighter; he'd have to die fighting.
Liam clenched his gloved hands into fists as he prepared himself to get out of his car to fight, but stopped when he realized that not one of the demons approaching were Tovacht. Different breeds, even ones currently at war all walked together. Mordecai, Prygorians, and even Shakna demons all walked together before turning left in unison. Liam allowed his gaze to follow their path, and it was then that he realized that they were headed toward the abandoned part of town. In a second, he realized what was going on. There were very few instances in which demons willingly gathered together. Memories of another gathering that took place long ago flooded his mind; potent colors nearly blinded his vision. The scent of old blood filled his nostrils, forcing his stomach to turn. The image of a fight came to him, and he felt his stomach churn hotly at the memory of a vicious blow that should have killed. Liam groaned as the memories intensified; he heard the shouts much too close to his ear as the bloodthirsty crowd watched on, screaming for more.
Liam forced himself out of his thoughts as he took a calming breath. Underground demon fights. They never did sit well with him. He sat back and rested his head against the headrest. A part of him wanted to go back to the manor, to shut himself away from reality. That was the great thing about living in the technological age; he didn't have to be surrounded by a room filled with people to have any social interaction. Video games hooked to the internet, which made it possible for him to seek the solitude of his room while at the same time winning countless rounds of whatever game he played. Liam liked to win. It was the very reason he never walked away from a challenge.
He knew that he shouldn't have, but Liam quickly got out of the car to follow the group of demons toward the old glass factory. He felt his step falter for a moment; the last time he'd been here, an ambush was to take place. He and his brothers planned and calculated every move they would make to defeat the notorious Order of Zebulon when they threatened Nadia's life. Liam groaned as he pushed his memories of Nadia aside.
Demons littered the grounds around the building, clumped in small groups. They most likely placed bets on the night's fights, he surmised as he walked through them to the entrance. The factory looked a lot different from the last time he was here. Where there were once old line machines, there was now a large red ring with various splatters of blood. Broken glass windows had been blackened and the walls seemed stripped of any furnishings. The stench of spilt demon blood mixed with the molding smell of an old, rotting building. The mixture was very reminiscent of the scent rotting mice corpses gave off. There were more demons grouped inside; various shades and types of skin that would terrorize the most hardened of human criminals dotted through the room like a Monet painting. Lighting had been added to illuminate the makeshift ring while at the same time darkened the corners of the room for those demons sensitive to light. There was a video crew slowly walking around, most likely sending a live feed of the evening's event to international demons. Liam shook his head slowly at the realization that the members of the film crew were human. They didn't know that the ultimate goal of demon-kind was to integrate themselves into the human society before wiping them out.
The lights flickered a moment before an ominous bell sounded. They used bells now, Liam noticed, and not the longhorn. The demons from outside crammed themselves inside the factory, fighting for a good view of the ring. Liam chose to remain in the outskirts, on an old steel plated box for height. He was given a fantastic view of the ring and patiently waited for what was to come. The stench of a nearby demon made his stomach cramp uncomfortably. Automon demons. Their smell was comparable to rotting fish and stale vomit. Their boil-covered lime green skin wasn't any better. Liam shuddered in disgust as the Automon demon stepped closer to get a view of the ring. At the same time, Liam's cell phone sounded, signaling a text message. He flipped the phone open and grunted at seeing his brother Draco's name.
Where you at, bro?
While he was temped to ignore the question, Liam replied:
Dymos. Be back at the manor in a while.
Liam knew how his brother would react to the news and because of that, he turned his cell phone off. He wasn't in the mod to be lectured on his actions twice in one night. He was quite sure Jameson was on the phone with their bother Alexis, the silent leader of the family. He wouldn't be silent once Liam walked into the manor, that was certain.
"Human versus Wantalon!"
The resounding cheer that went through the crowd pulled Liam out of his thoughts. He blinked when the lighting focused on the ring became brighter. It took him a minute to adjust, but once he did, Liam almost shouted in anger. A young boy, no older than a teenager, stood in the center of the ring, adjusting the fingerless leather gloves on his small and skinny hands. The boy was tall and gangly, a fact emphasized by his long neck. There was a red tattoo on the back of his scrawny neck; from his vantage point, Liam was able to make out the letter X. Interesting. He was too far to see the young boy's face, but he knew a strong angular face when he saw one, especially when it was highlighted by closely cropped, but shaggy black hair that curved in angles over his forehead. The boy flexed his thin but muscular arms as a warm up for the fight. Liam shook his head at the simple black sleeveless shirt and cargo pants the young idiot wore. Dymos' required thick sturdy clothing that protected the skin as much as possible. The thought brought Liam back to the memories he'd had in the car. He remembered the other human boy preparing himself for a fight, the anxiety on his young face as he tried to tap into his limited bravery. If only that young boy knew what he was in for...
The skinny little shit in the ring grinned cynically when the large Wantalon demon walked into the ring. At nearly eight feet tall and four feet in shoulder breadth, the demon was a menacing opponent. Crimson skin covered in black hairs similar to peach fuzz had a slightly acidic sebum that burned flesh. At least the boy wore gloves -- even if they were fingerless. The two opponents sized each other up as they waited for the signal to fight. Around them, the surrounding demons continued to place bets. They probably figured that the fight was one-sided and could easily make a few thousand dollars. Liam focused his attention on the boy, silently hoping that the child knew what he was doing. Demon fights were a serious thing, much too serious for a boy that young.
The lights focused on the ring brightened as the other lights in the factory faded, signaling the ready for the fight. Soon, another bell would sound and the blood would splatter. A part of Liam wanted to leave; he knew what would happen once the fight started. Either an opponent forfeited or died. The possibility of that young boy losing his life... It wasn't as if he could stop the fight; too many demons had money, lots of money riding on the outcome of the fight. Liam would have been an even bigger fool than usual if he tried to play the hero. The fight had to go on, and that second part of him, the bloodthirsty portion of his soul had to see how the battle would end. Could this little slip of a human defend himself?
A gong sounded, indicating the imminent answer to Liam's internal question. He watched as the opponents circled each other, measuring, calculating the perfect first strike. The Wantalon demon let out a battle cry a split second before plunging into its attack. Long black claws swiped at the light-footed boy and missed their mark. The demon roared in rage and doubled its efforts, swiping at the boy with both hands in a steady rhythm. The boy seemed to know exactly what the Wantalon would do next; he dipped and dodged all moves, managing to strike several blows to the demon's face. Liam smiled inwardly as the crowd erupted in both shouts of support and anger. His smile faded, however, when the demon managed to grab the boy in a fierce double-armed grip meant to squeeze the life out of him. For some odd reason, Liam was hopeful that the boy would win. There was something about him he identified with; Liam wasn't particularly sure what it was, but he knew that there was a similarity, an arrogance that brought on an unspoken and anonymous camaraderie. "Slip out," he quietly urged, "Slip out of the fucking hold. Yes." The boy shifted just enough to elbow the demon in the face. The move gave him the room he needed to break free of the grip and roundhouse the demon back. A deafening cheer resounded throughout the factory as the battle intensified. Light jab. Right hook. Side swipe. Each side landed vicious blows to the opponent. It wasn't long before the boy's tender human flesh was broken. Small rivers of blood coated olive skin. His lip was split, but he never stopped attacking. Harsh, guttural cries spewed forth as his uppercut connected, throwing the Wantalon backward. Liam nodded in approval as the boy waited for the demon to shake the blow off. Never kick an opponent when he's down. Always win fairly.
The Wantalon jump-kicked itself up and rushed forward, its intent to take the boy down. The boy waited to jump to the side and unfortunately waited too long; the demon managed to grab hold of his left leg and pulled him back. The boy shifted and kicked back with his right foot trying to shake the demon off. The demon only pulled him backward, shifting the brawl to the blood-splattered ground. Cheers intensified as the crowd moved forward to get a better view. Liam's view wasn't hindered and he was easily able to see the boy grab the Wantalon in a leg-lock. From there, the demon elbowed backward, striking the boy in his face and ribs. The boy fought to grab hold of the Wantalon's neck while at the same time trying to avoid blows. Liam had to stop himself from unconsciously moving as if in the fight. He was rooting for the piece of shit kid; he was a good fighter. But he needed training; the strength of his blows weren't quite there yet and his defense was weak. Unprotected.
It didn't surprise Liam when the boy finally got his arm around the Wantalon's neck. Classic sleeper hold. He held on for dear life as the demon thrashed and bucked to get out of the hold. Nothing worked and soon, amidst the raging uproar of the crowd, the Wantalon was taken down. The boy's chest rose and fell harshly as he sucked in large gulps of air. He remained still for a moment before his arms and legs fell away from the demon's body. The boy ignored the noise from the crowd as he gained his feet and wiped the small river of blood flowing from his lip. Without even a glance at the crown, he walked toward the bet table, grabbed what Liam assumed was the pot from the bet he'd placed on himself, and walked out.
Liam felt himself smiling at the boy's arrogance, especially when he only looked at the group of Dickindron demons that stood in his way. The green scaly skinned killers didn't seem particularly pleased that a tiny blip of a human male could win a fight against a Wantalon. Things like this happened at demon fights, Liam knew; there was always the better that believed that the fight had been fixed. Had he not been an experienced fighter, Liam probably would have believed it as well. Unless the kid was really good at cheating. But he'd seen the flaws in the fight, the blows the boy had to take. From what he'd seen, the boy won fairly. The arrogance wafting off the little shit was amazing as he walked out of the factory. Liam almost laughed at the shock on the Dickindron demons' faces but stopped when they followed behind. "Mind your fucking business, Liam," he muttered. What happened next was between the boy and the demons. Liam glanced around the open space, at the disappointed demons that had lost money, the triumphant ones happy to have won money or whatever they'd bet. At the ring, the next fight was set to start, but he couldn't see the opponents as he'd moved from his vantage point. He looked toward the exit, and a nagging feeling gnawed at his stomach. Instinct never led him astray, so he navigated through the crowd to get outside. Everything seemed fine; demons walked in and out of the building, carrying on conversations amongst each other. A fiery-headed Mordecai demon caught his eye and for a split second, a vision of Nadia's face flashed before him. Liam turned away from the painful image, only to spot the group of Dickindron demons surrounding the young boy. Because of the distance, he couldn't hear the words spoken, but he knew a tense situation when he saw one. Through a space between the demons, he saw the look of pure rage pouring off the young boy. Liam knew what would happen next and because of that, he slowly approached.
"How many fucking times do I have to tell you jerk-off demons that I didn't steal your goddamned money?"
Liam was almost surprised by the vehemence in the boy's tone. He sounded younger than he looked; there was a semi-masculine husk to his voice, but it didn't seem as tough as he acted. The boy had a strong rectangular face, but there was a softness about his features, as if he hadn't yet hit sixteen. Light brown eyes narrowed dangerously as they eyed the slowly advancing demons. He flexed his skinny arms, displaying the muscle he'd developed. How young was this kid?
"The Wantalon should have won," one of the demons said.
"Don't blame me if it was a shitty fighter," the boy defended.