Battle for Blood Ch. 05byEliya©
Hey everyone. Here is the next chapter. Enjoy and tell me what you think. I love hearing from you.
A couple people have mentioned the idea of Cole and Shane being "mates." I guess I should clarify that I'm attempting my own mythology here, as you will see in the chapter with the were-wolves. There aren't necessarily 'mates' who are irrevocably connected to each other and can tell the moment they see each other in this world I'm writing. But that, by no means, doesn't mean they can't be meant to be together—it's just not as cut and dry as mates or not.
I'd appreciate any feedback on the new material I introduce here also. I know it's similar but not totally the same as what you may be used to in vampire/were-wolf stories and I'd like to hear what you think.
Disclaimer: I am not a poet. If you make it to the end of the chapter you will see what I mean. It was necessary but that doesn't mean it's good. Sorry.
Cole paced his rooms. Daylight was coming but he had no intention of sleeping. He wanted more information. He wanted to know what they knew about Shane. It seemed he might have to speak with Adriana again. He shuddered at the thought. That woman brought out his rage. There was a light tapping at the door.
"Come," he boomed from where he stood by the large window. He heard a soft heartbeat behind him. A fast heartbeat.
"My lord," a small female voice said behind him. "I was told to bring you something to eat."
"Leave it and go." He heard her heart speed up.
"Um, I'm sorry my lord, I am what to eat."
Cole turned and surveyed the young woman at his door. She was dressed simply, as most of the humans here were, in a black shift dress which contrasted sharply with the whiteness of her skin. Her straight black hair and almond shaped eyes spoke to her Eastern heritage. She was small and pale with deep circles under her eyes. She had been kept for some time here. He knew some of these humans were willing participants but it never failed to turn on them. No one could handle constant draining. "Close the door." he said and she complied. Her heart was racing in his ears.
Cole considered his options. He was meant to keep up the façade that he did not care for mortals and he did not want to drink from this girl who looked like she was feeding too many vampires as it was. He didn't want her to report that to whomever she was inevitably working for in the house. There was no free dinner in this place. It crawled with spies. He knew all the humans here had charms against vampires altering their memories. But he wanted to know what she knew. He sat on the couch, gesturing to the seat across from him and she rushed to obey.
"How long have you been here?"
"Three years, my lord."
"Stop calling me that. How old are you?"
"Twenty, my lor—twenty."
"How did you come to be in this place?" He looked into her eyes, her pupils were dilated with fear. The questions made her nervous. She was hiding something. He felt for the charm on her person. A small itching feeling in his mind told him her necklace was spelled against him. He focused on her mind but he couldn't grab a hold.
"Um, I was, I guess, taken? They came to my parents and told them I had been chosen for a scholarship and they let me go to this boarding school but it wasn't and they brought me here and I've been here for a long time." False. A sob story to open him up. She wasn't spelled against bad lying.
"How unusual," Cole said as he tried again, focusing on her mind. He was stronger than these charms made by younger vampires. His power was mostly untapped in his many lifetimes. He had never grown into his full potential as a vampire because he had never wanted to. The last few weeks had seen many changes for him. With his newly found purpose and Shane, he felt a huge surge of power. He pushed through the slippery barrier between him and her mind. She cried out and fell back into the couch.
"Slippery, little human. Very slippery." He moved over to sit next to her, using his physical proximity to reach further into her mind. He stared down into her eyes, through them really. Her face was white with effort and fear. She was one of Adriana's. Elise was her given name, a runaway who had signed up to get off the street. She was weak and miserable here. There was an old vampire who had taken a liking to her and was fucking and drinking her dry.
She had been working when Shane was here, bringing her meals and talking with her sometimes. She knew about her origins, she also knew that Adriana was putting something in her food to make her stronger. But Elise had found out that after a while it was stunting Shane's progression as Shane seemed to get more dependant on it. Cole felt his anger flare at this. Elise had wanted to tell Shane but she hadn't, fearing Adriana. She had a vast knowledge of the goings on in the house, gossip and politic alike.
Recently, Adriana had begun using Elise for her own pleasures. Images of Elise bound and beaten with leather crops and pressed between Adriana's legs played through Cole's head as he leafed through her mind like a book. The older vampire had taken her to his bed with Adriana's permission, drinking her till she had no energy to fight back and taking his time with her. The girl panted beneath him; her nose began to bleed slightly. He felt a pang of pity for this girl, so close to Shane's age and so different. She had been introduced to the cruelties of men from an appallingly early age. Not even running away had saved her.
He felt her hatred for Adriana and her desperation as she felt her life flowing away from her. He released her mind. The girl collapsed into the cushions, blood blooming on the silk pillows.
"Interesting, Elise. You have an interesting mind to peek into." The girl did not respond, but she sat up slowly, clutching her head. Cole got up and resumed his pacing. Elise glared at him from her seat, trying to stem the flow of blood from her nose. He paused long enough to hand her a handkerchief.
"I cannot free you from her yet. But I can try in the future if you will help me." Elise considered him for a moment. Now, unguarded, he felt her true feelings. She did not trust him or any other vampire. But, she needed to get out of here. "I will get you out of here in return for your help." Elise sat quietly, waiting for him to continue. He could not give her any more than that though, a spy is still a spy and a damaged girl looking for a way out would turn on him if it suited her.
"What do you want me to do?" Her voice was unmasked and she was hard, cold and bitter.
"I want you to talk to her, give her some information and let me in to see how she reacts. I will be here for several days. After each day you will come to me and I will look to see what she has done. You must stay close to her at all times. By the time I leave she will have let you go."
"Not if the other one has anything to say about it." It took Cole a minute to realize she was talking about the other vampire that had been using her.
"I will deal with him." Cole looked at her, deep inside he saw the young girl, the happy child who had known innocence. This woman, barely old enough to be called that, was not beyond hope.
She stood up. "You have a deal. But I want a guarantee. If I have to hang around her for a few days I'm going to be seeing a lot more of her than I would normally, if you know what I mean. I want a promise that she will let me go. You are supposed to be ancient and powerful, you make her give me up."
Cole considered her. He nodded.
"Now do you still want to eat?" she said as she flipped her thick black hair over her shoulder, baring her neck. He shook his head. Elise headed for the door. She reached for the door knob and stopped. She turned back to look at Cole. "You killed her didn't you? Shane?"
"Are you referring to the girl who came to my rescue?" He kept his face calm though he wished he could tell this girl that Shane was safe.
"That girl was the only decent person in this place. She's dead isn't she?" Cole gave her a short nod. "I shouldn't be angry at you. Adriana put her up to it. But that doesn't change the fact that you killed her. I hope it was worth it." Before he could say another word, the girl disappeared through the door.
Cole went back to the window, daylight was creeping up over the horizon. Elise would be useful as long as he managed to keep his promise. How on earth was he going to do that?
Ashlyn burst into the room, throwing the heavy vault door against the wall with a resounding bang. The occupants looked up at her, unsurprised by her antics. Ashlyn gave the group seated at the large metal table a look of disgust. She hated them and this place and everything they ever touched in their despicable lives. She grabbed the closest thing to her, an empty glass bottle as it turns out, and launched it across the room at the large man standing over the rest of the gathered group. He tilted his head to the side, letting the bottle sail by him and shatter on the far wall.
"What the fuck is wrong with you people?" She screamed at them. The other occupants of the room kept looking at her while the big man continued to go through the papers in front of him. The old crone sitting at the table pursed her wrinkled lips and didn't say anything. A younger woman sitting next to her made the same gesture, unmistakably an inherited trait. The older gentlemen with a shock of pure white hair against his younger looking face stood to greet her.
"Ashyln, what a pleasant surprise," he said, his voice smooth as butter. "We were just discussing our current condition. Would you like to join us?" Ashlyn glared at his perfectly chiseled face and deep blue eyes. He was too good looking for his age.
Ashlyn bared her teeth at him. "Save it, Duke. I don't want any of your honey. I just dragged myself down to the middle of fucking nowhere to find out why you sons of bitches are withholding information from me." Her eyes drifted around the underground room; dust clung to every corner and there was nothing but bare concrete and junk as far as the eye could see. Lights set in the wall, uniform with the rest of what she had seen, lit the room in a deep yellow color. "What is the revolting place anyway?"
Duke sighed. "Some sort of observation point for testing weapons. It's the most secure location we have right now. It's a bit of a fixer-upper."
Ashlyn looked around, snorting. "That's an understatement. From what I've seen of this place it's not fit for humans." She thought back to the wide expanse of empty desert outside and shivered. It was secure though. Miles of sun with no cover was better security than anything she could come up with.
The large man cleared his throat, bringing Ashlyn's eyes back to him. He smelled of earth and sweat. Wiry hair covered his browned skin which clung to his bulging muscles. His face was scarred and weathered with abuse that even his short beard could not cover. But his face was still attractive, possibly even more so. The sight of him never failed to illicit a dangerous excitement inside of her. He placed his enormous hand on the table, clenching them into club-like fists.
"If the children are done throwing tantrums we still have business to attend to." His voice sent shivers down her spine. It rolled out of his chest in deep waves. She wanted to eat him when he spoke. But not this time. She would not be deterred from her anger.
"Tantrums, Raoul? This is nothing you piece of shit. And what business could you smug, simpering puppies have in mind? The fact that you lost the entire Huron pack or that you let the ancient one slip through our fingers after we had him in a pit for three years?" She stalked over to the table, placing her small white fists directly across from his huge ones. "Or that you failed to tell me any of this for weeks while I waited for news back east?"
Raoul glared back at her, his dark brown eyes against her snapping green ones. His fingers fairly itched to wrap themselves around her delicate little neck and squeeze. He wanted to feel her skin pressed beneath his fingers. He kept his eyes on her face and suppressed a growl. The woman was lucky he didn't bend her over the table right here and make her scream. She would get her's. He would see to that. He looked past her, through the thick brown curls that tumbled around her face, refusing to make eye contact.
"We are dealing with it," he said casually, betraying none of the fierce anger he was feeling.
"Oh are you?" Her mocking red mouth curved at the corners. He wanted to slap the look off her face. "And how, pray tell, are you planning on ending this thing in a few weeks without a sacrifice? Have you somehow figured out how to pull this off without it? Are you going to take on the vamps alone, mano a mano till every one of you whimpering dogs are dead in a pool of your own blood? Your wild ones are barely smart enough to form a line and all the made dogs are just learning their new skins. It's no wonder you are the downtrodden of the earth. You're pathetic." Silence filled the space between them as neither of them moved. The Duke stood back by the door with no plans of interrupting. The old crone watched the exchange with a glint in her eye. Her weathered skin was creased a thousand times over with her many years. These younglings were so hot headed all the time.
The young woman beside her shook out her dark straight hair and cleared her throat. "Nan has told us..."
"Oh, hang your Nan," Ashlyn growled at her, not taking her eyes off Raoul. "This parade of idiots is beginning to tire me. If dogs are incapable of helping me reach my goal then I will find some other way. I should have known better to consort with you wretched smelly creatures. It turns my stomach."
Raoul tensed visibly in front of her; his knuckles went white against the table as he listened to her taunts. He bared his teeth at her, the hair across his body rippled and changed to soft fur, running in ridges up his arms and along his back. His beard softened and grew longer, lining his jaw line and growing up his cheeks. His eyes glowed yellow at her. Ashlyn bared her teeth and hissed. Her incisors grew out of her gums as she flashed them at him dangerously. She was no real match for him but she wasn't going to back down now.
The old woman made a soft noise that sounded like wind on dry bark. It was such a strange, inhuman sound that the two of them stopped and looked at her. Raoul pushed his wolf back and Ashlyn let her fangs recede, though only slightly. The old bat was laughing.
"They've tried that before," the old woman said, wheezing out her tight, dry laugh again. "Hanging me," she added when Ashlyn didn't catch on. The ancient woman looked up at her from below her wild white hair which seemed to float above her head in a mess of braids and frizz. "It doesn't work."
"Well, oh wise one, tell us how you expect to get out of this mess." Even Ashlyn wasn't convinced by the sarcasm in her own voice. This woman creeped her out. She had a lot of power, the kind Ashlyn would have happily avoided in any other situation.
The old woman's voice crackled with age. "I have already told you, several times that the ancient vampire was not a suitable sacrifice. He may be old but he is not what we need." The crone's eyes flicked over to Raoul. "If someone hadn't been so eager to teach the vampire warrior a lesson then we wouldn't have wasted our time in the first place. And we wouldn't have lost the Huron pack." The woman took a breath. Her age made her slow but the coming end made her restless and full of energy she thought had long left her. She rose to her feet carefully, her granddaughter hovering by her side. "However, if the Huron pack had not been lost, we would not have new information that could mean we could succeed where we would not have before. Now, I'm going. This vampire's presence makes me nauseated." With that the old woman made for the door, faster than anyone would have guessed she could move, with her granddaughter in tow.
The three of them watched her leave. Ashlyn waited till her footsteps disappeared down the hallway and turned back to Raoul. "What is the old bat talking about?" Raoul, for his part, just sat down and stared up at the little vampire. She smelled of cold nighttime air, it wasn't entirely unpleasant. He waved his hand at Duke who came forward for the first time since he moved to greet Ashlyn.
"Duke, fill in the dead one here," Raoul said as he turned back to the papers in front of him. Ashlyn glanced at them, noting they seemed to be field reports from far flung packs. So the dogs were typing now.
Duke settled himself in one of the old Naugahyde chairs. Ashlyn hesitated and then did the same, not before surveying the chair the crone had just vacated with a look of disgust and choosing a different one.
"Well, my dear, as you obviously heard, the ancient one has escaped." Duke examined his perfectly clean nails as he spoke to her, flicking away imaginary pieces of dust. "The Huron pack was almost completely destroyed. What you probably haven't heard, as we have chosen to keep it quiet, is that they fell to a single opponent at midday." Duke paused for dramatic effect. Ashlyn kept her face straight.
"So? Another ancient vampire managed to get in?" There were only a handful of them powerful enough to manage that feat in full daylight alone.
"It appears not. The survivors describe a human female with super human strength and vampire weapons."
Ashlyn couldn't keep the look off her face. "Impossible," was all she could manage.
"We thought so too, but it appears that we are all wrong. No one is quiet sure who or what she is. The wolves at the scene said she smelled both human and vampire though that could have been from her equipment. Follow up has shown us that she is, in fact, at least mostly human, and much younger than we thought."
"What follow up?" Ashlyn snapped. The gravity of this information made her anger break through the surprise. How dare they keep this from her.
"There were only a few of ours left after the attack and escape. Two of them set out after the pair of them. They missed them though they found where they had stayed. It appears the Huron pack's own doctor had been treating them though she could not recall anything but the slightest details about the pair. We suspect the vampire manipulated her memories. The couple they took shelter with told us only their names and some cover story they had given them, though they did mention the two of them were headed towards Boston. The pair of Huron wolves are on their way now."
"And what does the crone think this girl is?" Ashlyn asked.
"She believes that this girl is what the ceremony calls for. She has not said more than that. We are working on extracting the girl. We are hoping to find her soon as she was injured in the rescue and will not be at full strength."
"Are these wolves made or wild?"
"Made," Duke said with a sigh, "Most of the Huron pack was. We are sending wild reinforcements to Boston for the actual extraction once she is found."
"And why did you not tell me this?" Ashlyn snapped at Duke though her eyes were on Raoul. Duke shrugged.
"Because I didn't feel the need to fill you in on every little detail, dead one." Raoul gave Ashlyn a strange smile. She curled her lip at him. Disgusting creature. "Also, because as delightful as your company is, I'm losing patience with your demands."
Ashlyn leaned over the table towards Raoul with a strange glint in her eye. "If it were not for me you would still be the alpha of a pack of savages with nothing to show for your centuries except a face like a scratching post and a few mangy little puppies to call your own." As the last word fell from her lips she saw his hand snake out towards her and his fingers wrap themselves around her neck. A fraction of a second later he had swung her over the table and smashed her body against the wall, cracking the concrete with the impact.