The bartender smiled at me, showing worn teeth, stained from years of smoking. Thick indentations covered her cheeks and a streak of gray highlighted her uneven bangs. I didn’t want to look at her, but I couldn’t help myself. My keen sense of smell picked up an odor of oldness seeping from her leathery looking skin.
She placed the bottle of beer on the counter and I felt her eyes examining me. I didn’t know what to think at first. Perhaps she was into me and found my appearance suitable for her taste. After all, I was always told by those around me that I’m interesting to look at, especially my eyes. They are quite large, demanding attention, and they overshadowed my odious intentions. Well, that’s what Kyra always told me.
Whatever it was, I grew extremely uncomfortable and cautious. I wanted to get away—not for my own sake, but there was a high probability that I would do more harm than good. I was a Deamhan after all.
I didn’t know why I agreed to meet Nicias here at this nightclub, full of humans, in the middle of downtown Chicago. It was an odd meeting place, even for someone of his stature. Plus I hadn’t been back to the city since Kyra demanded that I take Nathan back to Minneapolis. I did what I was told and vowed never to return. I never considered that city my home anyway.
I cupped the bottle of beer, feeling the glass against my cold palm. I decided to block out the music’s roaring blare from the speakers. I tuned in on the bartender’s thoughts.
I grabbed a ten dollar bill from my pocket and placed it on the counter. “Keep the change.” I hoped that would satisfy whatever curiosity she had of me.
She grabbed and stuffed it into her cleavage. “Thanks sweetie.”
I wanted nothing more than to be far away from the humans gyrating on the dance floor, but I struggled, my body remaining glued to the bar. The smell of sweat permeated the air around me. Clubs and loud music were never my thing and neither was drinking beer, but pretending to like the nasty foamy substance was what I needed to do to fit right in.
As a Deamhan, the last place I wanted to be in was a crowded area with humans just begging to be picked off one by one. Many of us couldn’t handle it and would go into a frenzy within seconds. I learned how to control my hunger, waiting for the right opportunity to strike, and now wasn’t the time.
What bothered me was why Nicias wanted to meet here instead of Minneapolis. I questioned what he wanted with me after all these years that Kyra couldn’t tell me herself? Maybe it was because of what I heard just recently floating around the Deamhan community that sent my nerves on edge. Kyra was on the run and a Pure One wanted her dead.
Being chased by a Pure One would make any of us run for the hills, Ancient Deamhan included, so I couldn’t blame her if that was the case. I just wished she would’ve told me instead of disappearing and leaving me in the dark.
Personally, I never ran from any Deamhan, but Amenirdis wasn’t just a run of the mill Deamhan. She was one of the very first of our kind to ever exist on this Earth. She was old, strong, and insanely powerful. She spent majority of her existence, like the other Pure Ones, in Limbo—a place that none of our kind wanted to go or be trapped in. From what I gathered it was a magical space, void of time, where Deamhan, no matter how old or strong, couldn’t escape.
The Kashshapu condemned the first eight Deamhan to that hellhole, and for a good reason. When loose they were near impossible to kill and control. Personally I didn’t fear what Amenirdis could do to me, or what she had planned for our kind. I grew tired of it all.
I stepped cautiously toward the dance floor to get a better look for a private place to sit. It took only seconds to pick up the multitude of human thoughts. I walked by a young teenage male, his face scarred with acne, who’s eyes told me that he found me slightly attractive in a bisexual sort of way. Two females to my right discussed how far they could go when it came to their virginity, and a male to my left, glaring at the dance floor, thought about what he could say to get those two females to lose theirs.
I walked along the dance floor, still scouring for my ideal spot. I saw the two emergency exits, the DJ booth, and another bar at the opposite end of the club. I squeezed my body through a group of females, bonding over pitchers of beer.
One of them elbowed her human friend and whispered in her ear. “How about that one? He’s hot.”
I pretended to ignore her until her friend replied. “Yeah, I could rock that all night long.”
It’d been awhile since anyone, human and Deamhan, spoke about me like a package of meat waiting to be devoured. This was also the first time that I took any comment about my sexuality seriously, but these females caught my interest. I turned around and faced them and to their surprise, I approached the one with short brown hair. The strong smell of her cheap perfume floated from her skin and neck. Her breath smelled like peppermint gum.
I turned on my human emotion like a light switch. “Hey there.” I smiled and placed my beer on the table. “What’s your name?” I could’ve picked up her name by scouring her thoughts, but I wanted to hear it from her mouth.
“Ana.” She pointed to her friend. “And this is Sally.”
The name “Ana” made me stop in my tracks. I never wanted to hear that name again and throughout my existence, I did my best to avoid it. But now here it was, right in front of me, beckoning me to relive my dark past. Just the thought of someone else with that horrendous name made me want to rage.
“Never mind.” I quickly turned away from them and returned to my search for a place to wait away from the large crowds. I had to keep my temper under control. Turning into a rampaging Metusba Deamhan wouldn’t be great for anyone.
Every part of me wanted to devour the two humans, draining them of their essence. Even my beer fell victim to my desire as I found myself squeezing it until the glass shattered in my grip. I caused a scene and I hurried along, swimming my way through the crowd, until I saw an empty booth to my right. I immediately sat and lowered my body, hoping that I wouldn’t be seen or become the focus of anyone’s attention. My right palm throbbed as some of the beer glass implanted itself into my skin. I yanked out the pieces of glass and watched as my wound healed itself almost immediately. Spots of blood were still visible along my wrist and I wiped it on the booth’s seat. The sight of the substance warmed my cold inside and it made me want to hunt.
As a Metusba, other Deamhan didn’t consider us to be the best hunters. However, my sire, Oliver, taught me much about tracking humans during my midnight menu raids. He was so good at it that no one came close, not even up to this day.
But things were different now, humans were smarter and we Deamhan were few. In fact there wasn’t that many of us to begin with and together we didn’t equal the amount of vampires and other nasty things out there that also wanted us dead. No matter how many times Deamhan came to the brink of annihilation, we never changed our devious ways or made any ultimate sacrifices to prevent it. We continued to fight amongst each other, betray each other, and kill each other. It was in our nature.
Oliver taught me only what he thought I needed to know when I was first sired. He told me about the rules and who my enemies were. He explained what made the four Deamhan clans different from one another and that as a Metusba, we lived off the psychic auras of humans. Ramanga had the sharpest teeth, because they lived off the psychic energy contained in the blood. Lamia Deamhan fed by sucking the energy from their victim’s—primarily from the mouth, and Lugat Deamhan, the dirt of our kind, sucked on the leftover psychic residue like leeches. Anything else that I deemed important I had to learn on my own. He skipped over the other four extinct Deamhan clans—the most dangerous of our kind—because not only could they feed from humans, but they also fed from other Deamhan and vampires.
He also mentioned The Brotherhood—humans who knew about us. For centuries they observed and watched us. Eventually we became so disorderly that they had no choice but to team up with Dorvo vampires. Together they hunted us down until our numbers dwindled.
Back then I did everything to please my sire. I hated who he hated, loved who he loved, worshipped who he worshipped. But on the last night of our dark relationship, we were unfortunate to run into a Ramanga by the name of Anastasia and her offspring, Finley. She ripped my sire’s head from his shoulders. From then on I moved alone in the world until I met Kyra.
Fast forward to today.
Nicias had yet to show and I grew impatient. Things were changing in the Deamhan world—things that no one could control which made our existence dangerous. Even though I never expected to see him again, he mentioned to me on the phone that he had some news from Kyra. I trusted his message, only because he was the oldest Metusba I knew and he was the sire of my own sire. Plus, he and Kyra became extremely close over the last centuries.
“Why did you walk away?”
I was too busy dwelling in my thoughts to realize that the two females I encountered earlier, Ana and Sally, now stood at my booth. I looked up at them but immediately turned away. My eyes were no longer green but black—the tell-tale signs of a Deamhan. I shielded them and focused to make them revert back to normal.
“Did you come here by yourself?” Ana asked.
Just the thought of detaching her head from her body, like Anastasia did to my sire, made everything seem better now. Well, maybe not everything, but it felt really good.
“You want to dance?”
I couldn’t remember having been startled so easily with such a simple question. I shook my head, no.
“You sure?” she asked.
I had no choice but to look up at her. “I don’t like the music.”
“I can tell the DJ to play a different song,” she said. “You want me to?”
Instead my thoughts had a better idea. I’d like to snap your neck and drain the essence from your entire body.
“I don’t dance.” I had to get rid of them quickly. “You’re not my type. Go away.” My reply proved enough for them to walk off and for Ana to call me a dick under her breath. I leaned back. In a booth just a few feet away I saw a human couple cuddling and being playful toward one another. The woman slid her hand across the table and gripped the male by his wrist. Their eyes didn’t leave each other’s gaze. The image became too much for me.
I thought about what I would do if I had both of the human girl’s in my grasp. I imagined grabbing one of them by the throat and feeding off her aura while I made the other one watch. I expected to hear them scream for help—once they’d realize what I was doing—and as humans came to their aid, they would be met with my quick movements leading to their deaths. Eventually I’d let Sally go, allowing her a head start for the exit. I also expected her to scream and alert more potential victims. Pandemonium and chaos would ensue.
I smiled at my concocted though but as quick as I did, I shunned it away. Now wasn’t the time to fantasize. I had other and more important things to worry about.
The music coming from the speakers changed. Although the rhythm sounded the same in my ears, the singing reminded me of a song I’d heard before. It was an old song I used to play every day while watching Kyra in hibernation. She feared the changing world around her and she placed herself in deep sleeps—sometimes for decades—just to avoid it. During that time I’d watch her and took care of her body, wiping away the dust that collected in the crevasses of her skin. I changed her clothes and sometimes I put on music to calm my nerves. She loved music, and during the times that she didn’t hibernate, she and I would dance into the early morning hours, right after a hunt. With her victim’s blood still caked on her Ramanga fangs she twirled in the grass, making herself dizzy. Sometimes she would sit and listen as I talked about my sire and my wish to seek revenge for his death. She was the only one who could calm my anger and tell me that if I remained patient, my moment would come. She also promised to help me achieve that goal. Only moments before sunrise, we walked back to our home and before going to sleep, she kissed my forehead and wished me a good day’s rest.
Now I wasn’t sure of her intentions. She didn’t tell me everything about the Dark Curse and how Maris was connected to it. I didn’t know why she lied to me, of all people, and I aimed to question Nicias about it.
My nose picked up on a strong peculiar Deamhan scent.
It stung my nostrils, sending a mixture of contentment and satisfaction to my brain. I looked over my shoulder and at the image of a male glaring back at me. I mouthed his name. Nicias.
He looked different from the last time I saw him. His light brown hair rested on his shoulders and his round shaped face, free of blemishes, made him stand out in the crowd. I’ve always loved his petite stature, because it fooled many Deamhan. I thought that my senses had also fooled me, but Deamhan never forget a scent. It signaled that he was still the oldest Metusba alive. It was him all right, I could never forget that baby face and mesmerizing brown eyes.
He reached my booth and looked at me before he sat. He placed his forearms on the table and slowly blinked his eyes. I smiled briefly and mentally had to remind myself that now I sat in his presence, and as one of the co-creators of The Dictum, rules set forth by Ancients for Deamhan to follow. He demanded my respect. He was old and strong enough to snap me in half without effort.
He straightened his crisp black shirt and spoke. “Hello Ayden. It’s good to see you again.”
“It’s been a long time.” I sniffed the air around me, trying to pick up any other Deamhan scents, but I found none. “Kyra didn’t come with you?”
“Most, if not all, Deamhan are in shambles about Amenirdis being released from Limbo. You aren’t?”
“As far as I know, that Pure whore isn’t after me.” He smiled briefly, showing his pearly whites. “Just Kyra.”
“Where is she?”
“Far from here.”
“Tell me. I have to know.”
“You don’t have to know anything,” he replied nonchalantly. “But she’s alive. However, as she is, well…was the oldest Deamhan on the planet, she knows that once she shows her face, Amenirdis would kill her.”
“But she’s safe, right?”
He smiled. “Yes. She’s always safe.”
I grew curious. “So, what news does Kyra have for me?”
“She isn’t happy with you.” He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out an envelope. “Because of how things turned out in Minneapolis.”
“No one expected that Lucius would have Amenirdis’ blood running through his veins. He was near impossible to stop. But I did what I was told. I helped them and we tried to stop it. I held back my anger and need for revenge against Anastasia, and I worked alongside her, just like Kyra commanded me to do.”
“She isn’t upset about that.” He placed the envelope on the table. “She’s upset that you dragged Maris into the city to be subjected to the spell without notifying her.”
Maris. Hearing her name made me think of how much I failed her. Her blood became the mortar, the prime ingredient in releasing Amenirdis. When I first met her in Chicago nearly a hundred years ago, I doubted that she was that important. Yet I followed Kyra’s orders. I protected and cared for her like a human would care for his sister. I even helped her kill her beloved Finley.
Looking back at it now, I could see how I screwed up. I brought her to the city, using her need for revenge against her sire as leverage. We both had that same desire to put an end to Anastasia. But I didn’t know how else to protect her. Plus, I wanted what was due to me. I had to make Anastasia pay for what she did to my sire.
“You shouldn’t have brought her to Minneapolis on the intention that she could get revenge.” Nicias read my thoughts and leaned back in the booth. “You’ve placed all Deamhan at risk because of your foolishness.”
I nodded. “It was a grave mistake and I should account for it, but it’s done.” I couldn’t help but to notice the human couple again, still lost in their closeness. My eyes wandered to them and he caught it.
He said with a wide smile on his face, “Have you chosen your meal for the evening?”
“The humans.” He looked over his shoulder and began to watch what I had been watching. “Are they going to be your meal for the night?”
“I don’t want to eat them, but their presence is distracting me. We should have met in another place—somewhere far away from humans. Preferably a place with no music.”
“With what we’re dealing with now, a public place is ideal.” He repositioned himself and his eyes fixated on me. “Besides, I like watching humans having fun. Their choice in clothes, music, and company is quite interesting.”
It was just like Nicias to meander over things that I didn’t have any desire to understand, nor be part of. Unlike me, he loved being in a human environment. I wanted him to get back on track. “Is Kyra still angry with me?”
“Yes,” he quickly replied. “However, she’s giving you an opportunity to correct your mistake.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice.
“How?” I asked. “Tell me. I’m all ears.”
“Kyra was the only one who could decipher the spell to release the Pure Ones from Limbo, until Lucius stole that information from her mind. Now that he is dead, we need both pieces of the Dark Curse tablet. The Brotherhood has one and her human researcher friend, Nathan, has the other.”
“That damn thing should’ve been destroyed eons ago.” I thought I’d heard the last about that tablet during the fight at the warehouse in Minneapolis. Everything I knew about it I learned from Kyra. That tablet contained the spells which created Deamhan and Limbo. She said that many Deamhan in the past died to keep the two pieces of the broken tablet out the hands of The Brotherhood and other Deamhan. Maris was the key to all of this, but Kyra snatched the information from her mind, freeing her from the burden. What startled us all was that Maris’ blood, straight from her own veins, was still needed for the spell to work.
“The Dark Curse is the only way to put Amenirdis back in Limbo, where she belongs.”
“So Kyra wants me to get the piece from the human?” I asked.
“She wants you to steal it.”
I shot him a bewildered look. “But she’s friends with Nathan? Why not just ask him to give it to her?”
“Right now, as we speak, he and his Deamhan friends are doubting Kyra’s intentions. That human believes that the piece he has should remain out of the hands of any Deamhan, including her.”
The news troubled me, but also confirmed my suspicions. Not only did I question Kyra’s motives, but the only human friend she had questioned them as well.
Nicias continued. “Also, The Brotherhood are gathering their forces. They see us as their number one threat. Soon they will regroup with the Dorvo vamps to take us all out.”
“You talk as if we should be afraid of The Brotherhood.”
“You’ve lived long enough to remember the time when we feared them.”
I remembered the time clearly. Before, I didn’t care about Dorvo vampires and their threat to Deamhan. Kyra knew the famous Dorvo, the vampire who existed and survived during those ancient days. During the time of the Pure Ones, he wasn’t a vampire, he was but a man; an assistant to the Kashshapu who created our kind. To me, these stories meant little. They were nothing more but superstitions created by vampires to make Deamhan cower in our boots. Instead of realize that we were, in fact, created to destroy all vampires, regardless of their origins. We could feed from them. For me, that was all the leverage we needed. However, they matched us in strength and speed. If they decided to place their differences aside with The Brotherhood and team up with them again, they would turn out to be a force we couldn’t take lightly.
“You don’t have to remind me Nicias.” I smacked my lips. “Maybe it’s exactly what Deamhan need to finally work together.”
“So would you place your need to kill Anastasia on the back burner?”
“I’d rather not. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.”
“You will have to, again. She wants you to go back to the city, but not for her.”
I cocked my head to the side. “Kyra promised that I would get my revenge if I did what she asked. I followed through on my promise.”
“And you did. You killed Finley.”
“Finley didn’t kill Oliver!” I chortled in despair. “I’ve patiently waited for over a hundred years for this moment. I obeyed Kyra’s will. I’ve held back my anger. Now you’re telling me that she wants me to wait a little more?” I studied him closely.
“Yes, that is exactly what I’m telling you.”
Only if I was older could I rampage his thoughts and wade through all the bullshit to find the truth. Ancient Deamhan, like himself, were supposed to look out for our kind, but now I wasn’t so sure. Was Kyra doing this for her own interest and what did Nicias get out of it? Was I just some pawn that could be disposed of at will? Nicias never cared that Anastasia killed his offspring, who was also my sire—Don’t think of his name, Ayden.
“So I’m to go back and do what?”
“You are to go back and kill Maris.”
“Maris?” My eyes expanded to the size of fists. “Why?”
“Do you really have to ask that question Ayden?”
I leaned back, shaking my head frantically. “I can’t kill her.”
“I’ll give you an incentive. Either you kill her, or I’ll kill you.”
The music in the club changed from the slow paced song to another full of bass beats, clicking noises, and screams. The dance floor began to fill again and the humans moved their bodies widely to the music. The couple in the booth stood to their feet and ran for the dance floor as if their lives depended on it.
“Kill her?” Still in shock, I couldn’t believe what he’d just said. “Is this what Kyra wants?”
“Think of it this way Ayden. You’ll be doing all Deamhan a favor.”
“Maris hasn’t done anything to deserve this,” I replied. “Throughout her whole existence she’s been used and abused by her own kind. First by her sire, Anastasia, then by Kyra, and now by you.”
“The longer she lives, the more in danger we all are.”
“What about putting Amenirdis back in Limbo where she belongs?” Again, I wanted to read his mind, but he knew how to block my advance. Only if I could penetrate his thoughts, the conversation would end quickly and I could fully understand the nature of his request.
“Don’t make Kyra rethink your loyalty.”
I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. “I’m loyal. I always have been.”
“Then act like it.” He tapped the envelope on the table.
“But she can’t ask this of me. Not after all this time.”
He raised his hand to silence me. “She can ask anything of you. After all, you belong to her, do you not?”
“Of course I do but-”
“Did she not take you in and treat you like her own offspring?”
“Yes she did but-”
“So you will do as you’re told.” He tapped the envelope again. “Here is money to pay for your trip. When you get there you will go to Birchwood Hotel, located in the downtown area. I will be there waiting for you.”
I glared at the envelope, feeling my tongue tied and my thoughts traversing at a million miles a second. I couldn’t and I wouldn’t kill Maris. That much I already knew, but I had to warn her. I had to tell her that once again, her life was in danger. However, there weren’t any Ancient Deamhan coming for her. This time it was me.
“I don’t need your help.”
“I’m not going there to help you, silly boy. I’m going there to make sure you do as you’re told.”
No matter how much I wanted to say no, I couldn’t. Cut between my loyalty for Kyra, and my friendship with Maris, I had to make him believe that I’d obey like a slave submitting to its master.
“Any questions?” he asked.
I looked at his emotionless face. “None.” I grabbed the envelope and stuffed it into my pocket.
He then stood up from the booth. “After you’ve completed this task, you will then get the piece from the human and give it to me.”
“You expect me to march right into Blind Bluff Manor and just take it? What about the other Deamhan at the sanctuary?” I looked up at him.
“Expendable, just like you.” He held out his hand for me shake, as if we had just made some under the counter deal. I ignored his attempt at ending our conversation.
There was one more thing I wanted to tell him. Something simple that I should’ve said right after he revealed to me what Kyra wanted. “This won’t be easy. I’ve heard that Amenirdis will kill anyone who harms Maris. If I do manage to kill her, she’ll come after us.”
He looked at me and his eyes slowly turned stark black. “No Ayden. She’ll come after you.”
Minneapolis is a small metropolitan city nestled near the Mississippi River with its twin, Saint Paul. The first time I came to the city I dragged Maris along with the intention of getting revenge without realizing the complications of my actions. Now I had to swallow that objective and like Nicias said, place it on the back burner.
Our conversation remained fresh in my mind. I tried to find the reason why Kyra would want Maris dead, even though I knew the answer. This time I just wouldn’t allow myself to get on board with her goal. I wasn’t going to obey blindly.
The city itself didn’t interest me. Why Deamhan made it their hub that I’d never know. The state of Minnesota suffered from more drastic changes in weather than I’ve seen. The onset of spring brought flowers, cold rain, and the smell of wet grass through the air. Summer brought humidity, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and bugs as big as the tips of my fingers. Fall sought to dry the leaves from the tree branches to let them fall, covering the ground in a yellow and orange covered blanket. And then there was winter. Nature’s way of providing the final blow and removing any trace of the beauty and chaos that the other seasons brought.
The city had its fair share of death when it came to my kind. Deamhan went against each other, fighting one another when Lucius was placed in Limbo by his offspring, who later assumed the role of leader of the supernaturals in the city. During that time sanctuaries were set on fire. Deamhan murdered humans in broad daylight, and the vampires hid in the comfort of their own crypts to wait it out until the end. The crime rate blew through the roof. The humans responded by providing more cops to patrol these afflicted areas (little did they know, that did no good.) Still, I didn’t care about the bickering and fighting. Whether they fought each other out of house and home, made little different to me. They dug their own hole. However, none of us had any idea that the entire fiasco would end up with Amenirdis being released from Limbo.
I made my way to Birchwood Hotel like Nicias ordered me to. It was a large building, encased in white marble with its name in yellow flashing lights. I hadn’t turned the corner yet before I caught the scent of humans. I straightened my clothing to look presentable. After all, I was entering an upper class human establishment, and in no way could I signal their attention that I wasn’t human.
A male chauffer greeted me by opening the door and giving me a quick nod. I walked in and stopped immediately in my tracks. Nothing could have prepared myself for the strapping scents which made my body shiver in desire to feed at that very moment. They were all around me; above and below. Groups of them on my right and left and a line of them waiting by the Check-In counter.
Mirrors decorated the floor underneath my feet and the raised ceiling, along with golden chandeliers. I heard male and female voices in mid conversation along with a ringing sound of the three elevators opening and closing its doors. This wasn’t a place that I would stay in at. I preferred Deamhan sanctuaries, but not Nicias. According to what Kyra to me, he preferred wealthy surroundings. As a human, he was raised in a Greek family, who had immense power and land in the city of Thessalonica, during the Roman Era. He was made Deamhan in 390 during a massacre by Gothic troops, led by the Roman Emperor at that time. Kyra described his life before that moment as pure luxury. He lived in lavish homes and acquired as many slaves as money could buy just for the hell of it. 1700 plus years and he still craved more wealth and power. He had stashes of money in banks around the world, making him the richest Deamhan to have ever lived—surpassing Kyra’s own wealth. However, I still didn’t understand how he could immerse himself around so many humans and control his desire to eat them.
“If you’ve lived as long as I have Ayden, you’ll find that it is quite easy to do so.”
I heard his voice to my left and snapped my head in his direction. He sat on a red plushy couch with his legs folded and his head immersed in a news magazine. Upon seeing me, he tossed it aside, stood to his feet, and approached.
“Would you please stop reading my mind,” I whispered in response. “It’s annoying and you know I can’t block you from doing so.”
With a flick of his wrist he motioned me to follow him as he approached stairs on our right. “The room is on the top floor.”
“Why not take the elevator?”
“I prefer the steps.”
Deamhan didn’t tire so easily so a few thousand steps didn’t matter.
“There’s a horror convention going on this weekend,” he said as we continued to ascend. “Have you ever been to one of those?”
I shook my head.
First he took one step at a time and later progressed, jumping from landing to landing. I struggled to catch up to his ever growing speed.
“They’re very interesting. I highly suggest going, at least one time.” He stopped at the 20th landing. “The humans are so obsessed with what exists in the dark. Their imaginations about creatures are detached from the reality. They dress up as vampires, aliens, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. They pretend to get bitten and turned. They imagine how they would live if they were immortal.”
“That sounds like something vampires would go to.”
“Oh yes, there are many real vampires who do go, searching for either a snack, or a lifetime mate. Believe me.”
The normal pain of hunger stirred in my stomach, signaling that I needed to eat. Ignoring it, we continued until we reached the top floor.
“There are too many vampires in this city because of what happened,” I said.
“Yes, but not too many to stop the Deamhan here from reestablishing their dominance among them. You and I both know that our kind aren’t reliable when it comes to working together. We always fail in that job. This city is now lost.”
“You say that as if it’s a bad thing,” he said.
“It can be for our kind. We are outnumbered.”
We walked down a red carpeted hall to a door located at the end. When he unlocked and opened it, I caught the whiff of a female human, which caused my taste buds to fire off. I walked in, taking little time to admire the extravagant and large interior of the room. Nicias closed the door behind me, made his way over to a large panned window, and pulled back thick red curtains.
“You can see everything from here,” he said. “The view is remarkable.”
“There’s a human in here.” I snapped my head to the left and right to seek her out.
“Yes, and you will not eat her.”
I marched to my left, to an opened door, leading to a bathroom. I viewed the tub inside which reminded me of Kyra and her fascination with long hot baths. Things were simple back then. Leaving the bathroom, I jogged to another door located on the opposite side when Nicias snapped his fingers and gave me a direct order to sit down.
After taking a seat, I saw the door open slowly. A woman, with medium length brown hair and Betty Page bangs, stood in the doorway. Underneath her long dark trench coat she was dressed in a business casual suit and skirt, complete with black high heels. When she looked at me, her eyes widened as if I was a new discovery, but I didn’t feel the same about her. I knew exactly who she was. I held my composure, noticing that Nicias placed greater emphasis on her life than I ever would. He held out his hand to her and she took it. They smiled at each other and he offered her some water, to which she declined in a soft voice.
“Ayden, I would like you to meet Bridget.”
She smiled at me.
“She’s my minion.” He kissed her gently on the cheek, making her blush.
I had no tolerance for minions and I didn’t like them. They were nothing more than humans who wanted to be Deamhan. They subjected themselves to our wills, doing what we wanted, to whoever we wanted, without so much as a thought. Kyra had plenty of them and at one point, she made me work alongside one, decades ago in Chicago, until the human’s death. In the end she found that they couldn’t be trusted. I refused to have humans do my work. I could handle my own affairs.
“I’ve heard so much about you from Nicias,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
I stood to my feet. “Is there a reason why your minion is here?”
“Biddy is not only a minion, but she was born and raised right here, in this city. She knows everything that happens after sunset.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in close. “Plus, I admire her cute qualities.”
“Biddy?” Stewing in my dissatisfaction, I turned with my back toward them. “You gave your minion a nickname?”
“I give all my pets nicknames.” He patted the top of her head. “There’s one thing you have yet to learn about humans. They are frail, little things. They’re much smarter than the ones we dealt with over a hundred years ago. They’re much more useful.” He glared at me. “I’m handing you over to her for the time being. She now belongs to you, so be careful with her. She breaks easily.”
I glared at the human from over my shoulder, finding her skin exhilarating and tempting. My hunger returned and he noticed this change in me as well.
“Not to eat, Ayden.”
I turned away. “I don’t need a minion.”
“Biddy, go and grab the two humans you found and bring them here.” He looked to her. “We’re hungry.”
She obeyed, like a slave would its master, and left the room. Now free from her prying ears to complain, I wasted no time going off at Nicias. I couldn’t see how the human would benefit me and I didn’t care what connections she had in the city. His minion wasn’t good for anything, but he didn’t see it that way.
“You’re going to go to Dark Sepulcher to find Maris.”
“Dark Sepulcher? The vampire club?” I questioned. “She wouldn’t go there.”
“She’s been seen there. Take Biddy with you. That way you won’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
“I will not take her.”
A rigid look replaced the smile on his face. “You will take her.”
I soughed, crossed my arms, and dug my chin into my chest. “She’ll only get in the way.”
In a sudden rushed movement, he stood up from his seat and pinned me into my own, with his hand around my neck. His eyes, now murky and full of rage, tore into my own as if he tried to peel back my conscience. My neck palpitated, and the only way I could react was to also look back at him with my black eyes, knowing that it wouldn’t do me any good. Overpowered, he moved in closely and as he spoke, his lips brushed over my own.
“You’ve always been a pawn, Ayden; a Deamhan minion if you will. You were taught to do as you’re told.”
Struggling, I managed to say a few words in a feeble attempt to stand my ground. “Minions are humans. I am not human.”
“Minions are those who obey.” His grip increased and I thought I heard the bones in my neck beginning to crack under pressure. “And you obey.”
He removed his grip and now with his hand on my chest, he pushed me further back into the couch. The color in his eyes returned. “I never looked at you this close before.” Rudely, he pushed my head to the left and then to the right. “Kyra said you had beautiful eyes.” He gazed into them. “But know I’ll rip them from their sockets if you ever question my authority again.”
The noise of the hotel room door opening interrupted his strict lesson of the evening. Biddy returned, accompanied by two teenage human males. Upon seeing them, Nicias took no time in getting first choice. He had thrown himself on top of one of them with such force that he snapped the human’s neck before the humans realized what was going on.
Unlike him, I preferred to eat my victim while they still breathed. As Metusba Deamhan, we didn’t have to kill our victims like Ramanga, Lamia, and Lugat, had to. We could feed silently without signaling our dark intentions. But no Deamhan was immune to the thrill of the kill, not even me. Still, I had to think about the repercussions of just killing whomever and whenever I wanted, especially in the city. The Deamhan who lived here never did and that caused the humans to question exactly what was happening around them. We had to remain unknown and in the shadows.
Picking up on my thoughts, he looked to me. “Don’t worry. These two humans won’t be missed.”
“I don’t feel like killing him.”
I grinded my teeth. He had no problems issuing orders so easily. The other troubled teen looked at me from the corner of his eye as I approached him slowly. His thoughts ran rampant from his young sister who had just celebrated her birthday yesterday and why he had agreed to go with Biddy so he could have sex with another male when he wasn’t homosexual in the first place.
Human males and their libidos. I never understood it, even when I was human. Sex drove all humans to do crazy and unspeakable things to themselves and to those they loved. Not once did they think of the penalties they faced, regardless of their preference. The teen liked the way I looked when he first saw me. I also sensed that his dead friend was the one who had convinced him into this line of work in the first place. He planned on getting enough money to buy a one way ticket out of Minneapolis to the West Coast. He wanted to be a movie star. He wanted to be famous and known. He wanted to win the Oscar, and he perfected his speech by practicing in his bathroom for hours at time. While Deamhan had no desire to be known, humans strived for that possibility. After hearing all this information, I somewhat pitied him. He would never have the chance to see his dreams and desires play out because I had no choice but to follow Nicias’ strict order.
Biddy watched with a gleam in her eye. She didn’t hide her thoughts from us nor did she show any compassion toward the victims and her involvement in their deaths. Instead she was curious, watching how we fed closely, admiring Nicias’ precise and quick action, and how I took my time.
I didn’t take my eye off of my meal as I had him pinned against the wall. As I began to drain the life force—the essence in his aura into my own body—his legs quivered underneath him. He wanted to scream, but I covered his mouth. I took in more and more, listening to his gradual heartbeat until I heard nothing at all. His eyes now revealed nothing; just an empty shell. His soul had withered and left.
I laid him gently on the floor and looked back, seeing Nicias who had finished before me, now wobble as the energy within him rejuvenated his body. Like a lion after eating its prey, he fell onto the couch and relaxed, as if he could fall sound asleep like a baby.
I had no desire to extol after a meal. I didn’t see the point. With my hunger quenched, I headed to my room and slammed the door behind me. I lost myself in the thick bed sheets. I pulled them over my head and I dosed off to rest. My victim’s essence still traveled throughout my body, tingling my fingertips. With my eyes closed and seeing nothing but darkness, I found myself asleep and dreaming again, right on cue.
I couldn’t remember a time where I didn’t dream of Oliver, my sire. I welcomed these glimpses into my past, when things were simple. As a new Deamhan, I explored the world with him, testing my limits and loyalty. He was a fine sire and that’s saying much for a Deamhan. It’s rare for a sire to treat their offspring with any respect and often times they either used their offspring for their own evil methods, abandoned them, or killed them all together. He was different and he treated me like I was his son, deserving of respect and protection. It didn’t surprise me on the night of his death, on a dirt road leading away from a small town a few miles from London, that he ordered me to run away while he handled Anastasia and her offspring, Finley.
At first I refused to leave his side, thinking that I could help him. He told me, telepathically, that even if he did hold her off he couldn’t stop her from killing me. I watched them fight, moving in tremendous speeds hitting each other. Oliver used any wooden objects in the environment that he could find to slow her down. He almost had her when he impaled her against a nearby tree but somehow she freed herself. Using a nearby branch, she managed to pin him to the ground where she repeatedly stabbed him for the thrill of it.
Finley stood by and also watched the spectacle. At that time I didn’t know that he was a new Deamhan just like me however, that didn’t matter. What disturbed me the most was how he egged on Anastasia to torture my sire. He wanted to learn and he took notes from her. Oliver didn’t curse Anastasia with his last words. Instead he took that moment to tell me again to run and to not look back. I wasn’t there to witness his death nor was I strong enough to prevent it. Those two sentiments always haunted me.
LIKE A RAGDOLL
As with every night since I was made Deamhan, I shot straight up after my deep sleep, trembling in fear with my eyes wide opened. Realizing that night had set in, I crawled out of bed and pulled back the curtains. As a Deamhan our bodies could tell when the sun had settled and the moon rose to its apex.
I heard traffic just outside my window followed by the sound of Biddy and Nicias speaking in the other room. When I opened the door the smell of lilac perfume mixed in with her annoying human scent entered my nostrils. Upon seeing me she smiled briefly while he motioned for me to come and sit with them.
“How did you sleep?” he asked.
I took my time replying. “Well.”
“Good because you will need your strength. Don’t forget. Tonight you’re going to Dark Sepulcher.” He reached behind the couch for a dark bag. “And after you finish with Maris, you will head to Blind Bluff Manor and get the tablet piece.” He tossed the bag onto my lap.
The news startled me along with the unknown bag. “Both places…tonight?” I unzipped it, noticing that it was full of weapons. A machete and two smooth stakes grabbed my attention and I pulled them out. “I can’t bring these into the vampire club.” I placed them back in the bag and dropped it to the floor. “And I don’t use weapons. My bare hands will do.”
Again I went against his commandment and I expected him to lash out like he did the previous night. Instead he tossed the bag over his shoulder and it landed on the ground in a hard thud.
“Oh, that’s right. You’re a fisticuffs kind of Deamhan.”
Biddy rubbed his chest. “I’ll get ready.” She walked toward the other room. I was sure he felt my growing irritation toward her and what he wanted me to do. He questioned if I could bring myself to kill Maris.
Biddy returned a few minutes later, dress in a taut red miniskirt, a black shirt, and holding a black purse. “I’m bringing my stun gun, if that’s okay with you?” She pulled her hair into a ponytail and applied so much makeup that in any other circumstances, I would have mistaken her for a whore.
“Perfect.” He responded slyly to her taste in clothing.
“I hope it isn’t too much Nicias.” She twirled around, showing her slim and mystique body to us.
“No, it’s just right.” He clasped his hands together.
I stood up from the couch and without speaking a word, I headed for the door.
I found Biddy to be just as unpleasant and obnoxious as the Dorvo vamps in the city. However, since their population steadily increased, I came to a shaky understanding that Maris could’ve went to their club, just like the other Deamhan in the city used to do.
Biddy talked the entire way, informing me how the vampires knew the ins and outs of every Deamhan in their vicinity, especially Lambert, the vampire owner of Dark Sepulcher. He was the head honcho, the supernatural in charge. Vampires came in droves on weekend nights to feed on unsuspecting humans and others. Recently, Lambert refused to allow any murders to happen on his property. The vampires had to feed and erase the altercation from the minds of their victims.
When humans began to fantasies about vampires, they pussyfooted out of their crypts and coffins and basked themselves in the attention. Deamhan couldn’t read their minds and they couldn’t read ours. However, they used their powers to mystify humans and seduce them. It was one thing that we Deamhan didn’t excel at. We only knew lust and wanting. I lusted after my sire, thinking that it was love yet it was only a bond. Maris wanted nothing more but to bond with me before I walked away from her. She raised the question about love and if Deamhan were capable of it. She wanted to believe it to be true, but I had never seen any Deamhan love anyone else besides themselves.
However I wasn’t so sure how these vampires were getting along with the Dorvo vampires. For Deamhan, they were one in the same. Vampires. But don’t ever tell a Dorvo vamp that.
We arrived at Dark Sepulcher an hour before it was scheduled to close for the night. Before entering we encountered two human bouncers at the front door who let us in without hesitation. After Biddy paid the cashier, a young girl who covered her face in white paint and showed her fake vampire teeth to me, we walked through two red curtains, pulling them back to reveal the interior.
I first noticed the white smoke spewing from the fog machines. It slithered along the base, swallowing up the legs of those on the dance floor. The fake fog was so thick, I covered my nose as the smell inundated my sense of smell. Everywhere I looked, I saw only vampires and humans. They settled in booths around small red and black Florentine pattern lamp shades. Some stood by the dance floor watching as their fellow vampires and humans twirled around each other with the music. There wasn’t any space in the club that wasn’t taken by some vampire. I had never seen so many in one space in my long lifetime.
Biddy wrapped her arm around my own and pulled herself close to me. Her behavior made me want to snarl.
“I’m yours now,” she whispered.
Almost immediately all vampire eyes were on us, especially me. They watched my every movement; studying and sizing me up. Some pointed and laughed, as others hissed and whispered that a Deamhan had entered their environment. They didn’t give me any time to admire the rest of the club before I found myself standing face to face with a tall vampire male.
He stood with his mouth agape, showing off his pointed fangs to me. His brown eyes (they didn’t change to a dominant color like Deamhan) dug deep into my own as if he was looking for something; perhaps a reason why I had treaded into their “territory.” Instead of engaging him I stepped aside and he also moved with me. It was clear that he didn’t want me to advance any further.
“You and your minion don’t belong here, Deamhan.”
I controlled my agitation. He didn’t look any older or stronger than I was, but that wasn’t as easy to tell as it would be with a Deamhan. If I killed him, the other vampires would react to my treachery, putting me down quickly like a rabid dog. Plus I didn’t know how many Dorvo vamps were also watching the confrontation. I took what I learned from my sire long ago. I swallowed my urge, held my composure, and I replied slowly. “I’m not here to fight with you.”
He grabbed my throat and snarled. I felt his cold breath against my face and without a thought I twisted his wrist against his own weight, bringing him to his knees. At that moment I felt air rushing in my direction as many vampires came directly after me. I kicked my attacker square in the chest, sending him sliding back and onto the dance floor. Leaving Biddy where she stood, I jumped on the counter of a nearby bar in Deamhan speed and made my way to the end where I jumped, latching onto the ledge above. I climbed over it and stood face to face with another vampire, startling her.
Instead of attacking she held out her hand to the crowd below. The confrontation ended quickly. My eyes moved to them below and quickly back to her. I saw Biddy, now too afraid to move, surrounded by vampires. To have that much control over an unruly crowd meant only one thing to me. She was an important figure in their community.
Her brown eyes moved up and down, scanning me. When done, she placed her hands on her petite hips and leaned her body slightly to my right. “I’ve never seen you before,” she said with a smile on her face.
Remaining calm and still, I watched her circle around me. She rubbed her hands over my back and to my arms, before returning back to her stance. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
“You’re not the owner,” I said to her. “He’s a male vampire, is he not?”
She nodded. “I’m the co-owner of this lovely establishment.”
I titled my head to the side. She was attractive…for a vampire. “What is your name?”
“I’ll be asking the questions.”
“Well Ayden. Why would you come here? Are you looking to die?”
“Like I told the other vampire, I’m not here to fight. I’m here to talk to Lambert, but I guess you’ll do.”
She glared at Biddy below us. “Is that your whore?”
I followed her gaze, knowing that whatever I replied would signal her fate. The fact that she still remained Nicias’ minion had no sway over my answer. “Unfortunately.”
“Is she free for the taking?” The vampire signaled with her hand and instantly the crowd surrounding Biddy departed. “How about an exchange. The information you need for her?”
“You took no time in replying.” Immediately she changed her poise. “I thought you would at least fight for her.” Now with a stern look on her face, she jabbed her finger into my chest. “I would if she was mine.” She gripped my chin and pulled my face close to her own. “You Deamhan always ruin all the fun.”
“She’s yours, now to do with whatever you like.” I jerked my head back from her. “If you answer my questions.”
She rolled her eyes. “Why do Deamhan think that they come here and demand things?” She looked over her shoulder at another human, sprawled out on a couch with her legs expanded. Her eyelids remained half opened and bite marks covered her neck and her upper legs. She approached her and after placing her hand underneath her chin, this vampire gazed into her victim’s eyes.
“You had a great time. You remember drinking and getting so drunk that the bouncers kicked you out of the club. You fell outside and cut your wrist on a broken bottle.” She thumbed toward the exit. “Get out of here.” The woman lazily lifted herself up and stumbled toward the door.
How easy it was for them to place these thoughts inside the heads of humans.
“You’re a sorry bunch. So full of demands, thinking that we vampires should just bend over backwards and cater to them.” She turned back to me.
“I gave you my minion.” I ignored her and proceeded with my questions. “And I’ve told you my name. Now, what is yours?”
“You don’t need to know my name. All you need to know is that your kind aren’t welcomed here. Not anymore.”
“I’ve came here because I need information on a Deamhan by the name of Maris.”
She folded her arms across her chest.
“I heard she comes here often.” The conversation wasn’t going anywhere, partially due to her stubbornness. As the music continued from the speakers in the club, the vampires below continued to watch our engagement and one of them grabbed Biddy by the arm, pulling her toward the stairs.
“If you answer me, I will leave and you can go back to having your fun,” I said to her.
“There wouldn’t be any tension if you didn’t come here in the first place.”
I heard the door unlock and open behind me. Quickly looking over my shoulder, thinking that some vampires had made it to the top floor, my eyes had transformed from green to black in preparation for their attack. Instead I was met with a male vampire wearing a black frock coat and dark blue jeans, holding onto Biddy. His dyed dark black hair collated against his pale ivory looking skin. By looking at him, I knew that he was Lambert.
“Alexis, this isn’t any way to treat an out of town guest and his minion.” He gently closed the door behind him and pushed Biddy to the forefront. “Especially a Deamhan and a Metusba at that.”
I never understood how some vampires could distinguish one type of Deamhan from another just by sight. He made it look so easily. Even I had a hard time, depending on the Deamhan.
“He isn’t my guest.” Alexis walked over to the couch and she sat. “Human, come here.” With one finger she made Biddy approach her. “Sit.” Biddy lowered herself slowly next to her. “What’s your name darling?”
“Bridget, but you can call me Biddy.”
“Well Biddy, I’m Alexis.” She rubbed her finger through Biddy’s hair. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t bite you…yet.” She sniffed the side of her neck and smiled. “At least she smells good.”
Biddy swallowed hard. “I belong to-”
I knew she was going to say Nicias’ name so I halted her. “You belong to her now.”
Lambert approached me and held out his hand. “I’m Lambert.”
I didn’t shake his hand.
“I overheard that you wanted information about Maris?”
“I’ve been told that she’s been seen here.”
“Well, you’ve been told wrong.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“Why ask me?” Lambert bit his lower lip in thought. “You were the Deamhan who brought her to the city.”
His revelation didn’t startle me. I already knew that he had the knowledge of everything which occurred, Deamhan and vampire related.
He placed his hands on the railing and glanced at the dance floor below us. “The vampires here may not have heard of you but I have. I know a lot about you.”
He wasn’t going to help me. I started to feel that, in fact, he loathed me just as much as the Deamhan at Blind Bluff Manor did.
“So then you should know why it is important that I find her,” I said.
“Yes, yes, yes. This is about the Dark Curse and the Pure One who was released from Limbo,” he said. “Deamhan fear that they will be released, and they also believe that we vampires will help to make sure that becomes reality. However, we don’t want them out, and about as much as you do don’t.” He walked up to me. “I’m not a Dorvo vamp.”
“I never said you were.”
“No, but I can see it in your eyes. You think we’re all the same.”
“You are. You’re all vampires.”
“Instead of questioning me, you should be asking yourself why Lucius, one of your own, wanted to release them in the first place, and why he and Selene sacrificed themselves in order to do so.” He stepped closer, now standing only inches from me.
All of his questions had crossed my mind before and I didn’t have an answer for them. Feeling belittled by his presence, I replied slowly. “I never knew Lucius, so I don’t know.”
“Perhaps you should find out before coming here and demanding information from me.”
I stood up to face him. “This was a waste of my time. You know nothing.” I moved aside and headed for the front door. Before I opened it, I looked back, deciding if I needed to take Biddy with me or not.
“I know more than you realize.”
“You think you do but you don’t!” I snapped at him.
“I do. Like I said before, I know a lot about you. Like how Anastasia killed your sire and your loyalty to Kyra, among other things. What I do know is that no Deamhan in this city trusts Kyra like you still do. There’s a lot more going on than you know, my boy.”
“I’m not your boy. And you’re lying. That’s what you vampires do.”
“And Deamhan don’t?” He chuckled slightly. “I would be careful. You don’t have any friends here.”
“I don’t need friends. I’d be stupid to think that any of you could become my friend.”
“Is that what you learned from Kyra and all the other ridiculous, outdated Ancient Deamhan? You’re so clearly mistaken. She has her reigns so tightly on you, that you can’t see the truth. You know, you’re more of a minion than Bridget is.”
Taking his statement as a threat, I rushed back to him in Deamhan speed, but his movements proved to be quicker than my own. I didn’t see his hand come at me, gripping my forehead, lifting me into the air, and slamming me onto the floor. With one foot he kept me pinned to the ground, and he did it all with a grimacing smile on his face.
“Kyra is a fabulist cunt, who relies on unintelligent Deamhan like yourself to do her dirty work. I don’t fear her. None of us fear her here.” He raised his voice.
I squirmed underneath his foot, trying to free myself.
“You think you can just come to my club, and demand that I tell you what you need to know because of her?” He grabbed my throat and lifted me up, over the railing. “Your kind have caused nothing but destruction in this city. Not only did their behavior place themselves in jeopardy, but my business as well. And I am a strict businessman. Do not come here, ever again. If I see you, or even smell you, I will end you.”
He threw me, violently, like a ragdoll down to the first level. I landed on my back, feeling my bones break in places that made me grunt in severe pain. I struggled to get to my feet as the light around me dimmed, blocked by the crowd of vampires who’d gathered around me.
“Go, or I will let them rip you apart!” He raised his voice so that everyone would hear. They moved aside and now healed, I walked slowly to the exit.
Ayden. Deamhan Minion. Deamhan Chronicles #2.5 is available on Amazon
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