Copyright © 2014 Michelle Woods
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
Six months ago
Swinging her sword she sliced the head from one demon, even as she blocked the blow of another with her second sword. The wind rushed through the trees, shaking branches, and dead leaves fell in a shower around the battle that raged. Lighting lit the sky casting shadows across the forest floor. The rain pounded down making her movements sloppier than usual. She stumbled slightly as the third demon tried to grab her from behind. Managing to whirl, she sliced off the arm that had been reaching for her. The demon screamed and fell to the ground. His other hand, equipped with lethal claws, tried desperately to grab the missing appendage. She quickly took his head before he was able to reattach the arm. Watching in disinterest as it fell to the ground. The Aurora, panted, her body near exhaustion from the fight.
Thunder rumbled, masking the approaching demon’s roar. It charged at her from behind. Sensing it at the last second, she moved out of the demons path. Using his momentum when he moved past to slice his head off. Her chest rose and fell with excretion, her hair a wet nest of thick curls, she pushed the heavy fall from her face, smearing it with demon blood.
Looking around for the last demon, she spotted Kara lying on the ground nearby instead and wanted to cry. Where was that damned demon? She knew that she’d knocked it out when she’d blinked in. Hearing Kara’s mental call for aid, she’d come to help her friend. She’d traveled across the distance to help Kara, only to discover that she’d been too late, again. Too late to save her friend, her third adviser, the youngest one. Kara should have had a thousand years, or more left to live. Only now she was dead. Just as Lani and Tessa were dead.
The murderous rage that boiled inside her when she’d seen Kara lying there, in the mud, lifeless, had frightened her with its violence. She’d felt the black auras that surrounded the demons, and smelled the metallic smell of evil blowing towards her on the wind. She knew that even if the demons hadn’t been coated with evil, she would have killed them anyway, for Kara. Her heart was bursting in pain from the loss she felt. Her searching eyes landed on the last demon, lying on the ground unconscious and bleeding. She’d dealt the blow from behind when she’d first arrived. Glaring at the dimly lit prone form, she wanted to kill these demons, again. Her rage was a living breathing thing inside her, as she looked at them littering the forest floor.
Thunder roared again, and lightning filled the darkness with light, casting her shadow over the demons. The branches moved like giant sinister arms reaching out to grab her. She watched them play for a moment, then moving to the demon, she raised her sword. She cleanly sliced this demons head off too. She felt no remorse, taking its head. After all it was the only way to kill a stone demon. As long as their spinal cord was intact they could regenerate from almost anything. Not for nothing, were they considered one of the hardest demons to kill.
That was why seven were too many for one slayer to handle. Unless that slayer was her. She wasn’t bound by the same rules. She wasn’t immortal, but she was as close as a human could get. It was her blood. The blood of a true slayer, the queen. She snorted, she wasn’t a queen. Although, they called her that. Nope, she was a failure.
She stumbled to her lifeless warrior’s body. This proved she was a failure, she thought. Falling to her knees beside Kara. Not caring that mud soaked into her white pants, nor did she care that the blood covering Kara’s body from the many wounds inflicted upon her, would never wash from the pale blue cashmere sweater she wore. All she knew was that Kara was gone from this life. Sweet, funny Kara. One of her best friends, and now she was gone. With an aching heart, she pulled her onto her lap. Brushing the hair from her beloved face, her mind was crying out in anguish. It wasn’t fair that Kara was dead. It was her fault, again. The pouring rain continued, but she didn’t feel its cold caress. Didn’t heed the numbness that filled her very bones. All she knew was that the heavy pain of her loss was crushing her. Her chest ached at the passing of another friend.
“Why. Why?” She cried into the quiet forest, a cry that was quickly swallowed by the storm. The thunder drowning out her screams as she asked the question over and over. Tears running down her face. The wind whipped her hair around, slapping her in the face. She held Kara in a tight embrace, unable to release her friend’s body. She rocked back and forth, wishing that she held the power to rewrite the life they had both chosen to live. The only thought repeating over and over inside her head was
‘It would be the last death. It would never happen again.’
Watching the rain wash the blood from Kara’s platinum blond hair in the silvery moonlight, unable to look away. It covered the ground with the life that had once filled her friend. It mixed with leaves and mud, creating a gruesome river of death, which flowed across the forest floor. It was unfair that Kara’s life had been stolen away. She was so young, only twenty one. The slayer blood that she had given Kara should have added many more years to her life, hundreds even. Instead, she held Kara’s lifeless body in her arms, and felt a deadly vow forming in her heart and mind.
She remembered meeting Kara in a dark alley one night. Kara was only eighteen, it had been another stormy night like this one. Two vampires, whose auras had burned black with their evilness, had penned Kara in an ally thinking they had found a helpless victim to kill. Kara was no victim though and killed them both. She’d used only a slightly dull sword she had bought after watching her sister be killed by demons two years before. Determined to find that demon, Kara began training, finding her first demon, she tried to take it down with a gun only to find the guns did nothing to stop a demon. Typically guns only made them mad. Kara was lucky that a Trogon demon had found her before the enraged demon could do any damage. When she’d told the Aurora the story, she’d been shocked at the bravery of the young woman.
Kara who was able to see the darkness of both human and demon auras, a trait she shared with the Aurora, had not killed the Trogon demon. It had glowed with a pure white aura, most of their kind did. Few, if any of them, ever became evil. She’d explained to Kara that night that most demons were just a different species with extraordinary gifts. Many of them even looked human, and others could appear human with glamour’s and other charms or spells. They were not minions of the devil as legend believed them to be. Though many chose to serve him.
Feeling a kinship with Kara, she’d offered her the blood bond that made her a slayer. Kara had become an adviser to her within a year. She was also one of the Aurora’s most trusted companions. Pressing a farewell kiss onto Kara’s forehead, she heard the slight popping sounds that alerting her to the two new arrivals. She didn’t turn. She already knew who it was standing silently behind her.
She felt them. Her last two advisers, Mina and Jayne had come because they’d felt her pain through the bond they shared. She heard the gasps then the sobs from behind her. Bowing her head over Kara’s in defeat, feeling their loss wash over her as keenly as her own. Making her pain so much harder to bear, they were sure to be disappointed in her inability to protect their sister in arms. In her total lack of strength.
Two of her advisers had already fallen, now Kara, was the third to die. That bastard had taken three friends from her, and now he would die. It was no longer a battle she would allow to destroy her people. If he’d come after her and not her slayers, she might have found a more peaceful solution, but he’d killed her friends, now he would die.
Morvan, a vampire, was evil. He had begun to send demons after her a year ago. She’d killed his lover, Kista, an evil witch, a few months before that. She’d killed Kista for killing six children in one night, the spell she was casting had needed six innocent human hearts. It was sickening. Morvan was pissed because the spell had been for him. He’d been livid and wanted the Aurora dead, only he didn’t know who she was, which was why her people were dying.
He sent demons hunting for her, but they were finding her slayers instead. Her mind was filled with one thought, ‘He will die’ it kept repeating over and over in her mind. It was echoed by her heart. She would hunt him now, Kara’s death would be the last. She was going to slice the head from Morvan’s shoulders, even if she had to die to do it.
It would not be an easy task. He was quite paranoid. He kept his fortress locked down so tightly no one could get in. Spells were woven into the walls to prevent anyone from blinking into the fortress and traps were laid at every entrance. He was most likely so paranoid because he was so cruel even to his own lackeys. He would not be easy to isolate.
Hearing the wrenching sobs from the two women behind her. She knew that they were clinging to each other for comfort. They waited for her, their Aurora, their queen, to call the other slayers to this scene of destruction. Of lifelessness.
The silence filling the forest was deafening, even with the sound of the pounding rain, and the sobs that filled her ears. She could hear the absence of life in the woman she held tightly to her chest. It was this feeling of desperate silence that forced her to wait. Calling the others to this terribly quiet forest seemed an unnatural thing to do. Looking up at the sky her voice cracked as she spoke a solemn vow.
Water caused the blood and tears to mix and run down the queen’s face, bouncing off the face of the silent figure in her arms. Her words echoed with the thunder, filling the silence left behind by the cold hands of Kara’s death.
“Never again” She cried to the grey filled darkness of the forest. “Never” it was a quiet whisper.
Then she opened her mouth and her cry of rage was so loud that slayers all over the world were called to their queen’s side. A hundred slayers, some in battle, some hunting. Finished their kills, stopped hunting, and came to a deadly silent forest with only a rage filled battle cry to lead them to their queen.
Quiet popping sounds of slayers arriving one by one were the only sounds heard in the forest for a breathless while. Though the water never stopped pouring from the sky, there were only distant rumbles of thunder now. Occasionally lightning would light up the forest. They were silently waiting, seeing Kara’s battered form held gently by the Aurora. She knelt in the mud and leaves, holding desperately to a cold body that would never again hold the life it once had.
The Aurora stood with Kara held in her arms, as the gathered mourners waited for the ceremony to honor their dead warrior, their dead friend. Holding their collective breath, pain and loss filling them as silent tears poured down their faces. The queen lifted Kara up in her arms raising her above her head, using her power to call the lightning down, burning the body of her slayer to ash. They watched as Kara’s platinum hair fell over the queen’s arm. The blood and dirt in her hair an atrocity none of them wanted to witness. Yet, they were unable to look away from the gruesome sight before them.
They were all witnesses to the lightening rolling down the arms of their Queen. Even having felt it before with numerous previous deaths, they were held in awe of the suffering their Queen was willing to endure for them. When the lightning struck the body of her fallen warrior’s body, the queen was bombarded with the pain of that strike. The slayers could feel a muted version of pain through the bond. It coursed through them as an echo, when she accepted the electrical shock from the lightning. They watched as a tenth burn in the shape of a crescent moon joined the other nine on her right arm, these marks were for each of her dead slayers, her dead friends. The gathered guardians knew that she would bare this scar for any of them who died in battle.
This new mark worried the slayers gathered at their queens back. The Aurora had started this year with five guards to protect her, and now there were only two. Fear filled them at the thought of losing their queen. She was strong, but they knew that she could fall to great numbers. She was the last of the pure slayer line.
If she fell they would not have anyone who could create new slayers. If that happened then the darkness would win. Other slayers could activate someone with slayer blood already, but their queen was the only one who could make someone with no slayer blood into one. In the last twenty years they were finding fewer and fewer who already had the blood. This was why they trembled with fear that the queen could fall.
Directly behind her were her silent guardians, friends and advisers, who protected the Queen. The sentinels that now stood waiting, were the queen’s only line of defense against the monsters who preyed on the weak. Tonight the death of Kara had proven that any one of them could die, even the queen. She was vital to their survival and they loved her. Each slayer knew the Aurora thought that she was not important. That she was nothing more than a fighter for their cause, and that her loss would not destroy them. But she was wrong. If the Aurora fell, as Kara had, it would destroy them all.
Kara and the two remaining guardians Jayne and Mina were the strongest warriors besides their queen. The slayers gathered in the forest tonight knew that only Kara and her two remaining guards were able to truly match their queen in a battle. Every year the slayers would gather to learn new techniques, they had tournaments were the winner always fought the queen. None had ever won a battle with her, though the last two years Kara and the Aurora had called it a draw after four hours of solid battle.
The queen turned, repeating her earlier vow, pain fresh in her eyes. “Never again.” She cried. “Never will another slayer die for me.”
Her face hardened and this time the vow was a battle cry. The gathered slayers shuddered in fear, if their queen kept her vow it meant that she would not allow them to protect her. No one challenged her, even though they wanted to, having never seen the cold look in her eyes. They all worried they would lose their queen to her new quest. Rage lived in her eyes, it frightened her advisers and her people. They knew their queen would stop Morvan, the vampire battle warlord, at any cost. The time was here for the rein of blood, and for the death of the vampire lord.
The Queen stood strong for another moment then she fell to her knees. She would have fallen over face first into the muddy forest bed then if her advisers had not caught her. Her hold on consciousness lost, as she gave herself up to the darkness of exhaustion.
Liza Thorpe trembled, looking around at the five other women waiting in the room. They were all here because the Vampire King was to choose one of them to be his newest blood slave tonight. The room they were waiting in was a study, a very masculine study, she thought. She surveyed the heavy wooden desk. It was the same desk, the same one she remembered from childhood, but the rest of the room had changed in the past few years. The dark mahogany book shelves filling one wall were the same, but the books that filled them were new.
The only light in the room came from three dim lamps positioned near the desk. The dark scarlet curtains were pulled back from the wide widows revealing a snowy night with a heavy half-moon. The heavy wooden chairs with brown leather coverings, a box of cigars on the end of the desk, and the statue of a female love slave with her sire holding her leash also gave away the owner of the room’s gender. She acknowledged that she was nervous, as she fretfully pulled at the hem of her shirt.
She needed to be the one chosen, she couldn’t bear it if she wasn’t. Besides it was her best option at this point. The only way she saw to get everything she’d ever wanted. She’d met Lucian, the vampire king, when she was ten.
She’d lost her mother four years before her father had moved them in next door to the kings sprawling manor. She’d seen the wall and being adventurous, she’d thought that scaling the wall in her small yard to the garden on the other side was a grand adventure. She used a tree to climb over ending up in the king’s garden. She had explored the gardens, smelling the different kinds of flowers enjoying the afternoon of freedom and sunshine. She realized that it was getting late, and must almost be time for her father to call her for dinner.
Fearful of being caught doing something she knew was dangerous. She’d rushed to get home before he called. She didn’t want to be banned from playing outside. Grabbing a thin vine, she’d attempted to climb back over to her side of the wall. She’d slipped when the vine she’d been using to climb, ripped free from the wall. She’d expected to fall and crack her head open on the stone walkway. Instead, she was caught in steady arms. She looked up into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen, in the face of an angel.
He’d smiled. “Ah, I wondered where you had come from. You should not be here, little one. You might have been hurt.” He frowned, tying to look stern. His slight smile ruined the effect. “You should not climb walls, it is not safe. You are a young girl.” His face truly darkened. “Your father should watch you better. Why are you out alone in my garden?”
She’d not been afraid of him because even when he tried to look fierce his eyes had smiled. Upset at the prospect of losing her playtime, she’d rushed to plead with him.
“I’m allowed to play outside only once a day. If you tell my father I’ve snuck over the wall I won’t be able to play outside at all. Please don’t say anything. Please!” She had poked her lip out a little for effect. He’d laughed and called her a scamp.
Instead of listening to her pleas, he’d taken her home. After having a long talk with her father, Liza had been allowed to visit the Kings manor often. Though she’d rarely saw Lucian, and had spent most of her time at the manor with the vampire children, or the women who were blood slaves. It had been like having thirty older sisters who took care of her. To her it had been a young girls dream come true, hair and makeup tips and being able to try on beautiful dresses, all of which had filled her heart with innocent joy. Not having a mother, it had been a blessing.
As the years had gone by, she had spent more and more time at the manor. After two years, she’d been sleeping on the floor in one blood slave’s room or another. She’d wanted to escape her father’s harsh rules at the time. He’d been tough on her as a child. Staying at the manor had been a vacation.
Lucian had decided to give her a room near the dorm like rooms where the women all slept after a year. Although, at first she had seen him only when he was not dealing with his duties and his businesses. By the time she was seventeen, she was already half in love with him. When she saw him, which was rare, he seemed to be interested in how she was doing, fueling her young fantasy’s.
She’d turned eighteen, and he’d thrown a huge birthday party for her. He’d danced with her twirling her around the dance floor for hours. Her body had warmed and her mind had undressed him. She knew that vampires were actually demons, not like the horror stories Hollywood told of soulless dead killers. They were demons who took the blood of the living to stay alive. They didn’t have to kill to get the blood they needed, most only fed every three to four days. Hollywood made vampires into gruesome monsters, only they weren’t.
Vampires were born just like a normal human or demon, and they aged until they were about twenty years. Then they just stopped ageing, and lived for eternity with a different set of dietary needs. They all had gifts that were specific to them, although they could all use mind control and shift into mist to move more quickly. Other gifts were depending on the amount of power each vampire was born with. Lucian’s gifts were the strongest of all the vampires, she’d known. Vampires weren’t burned by the sun, they didn’t comically burst into flame as you saw in movies, but it did dampen their abilities so many preferred to be awake at night.
She remembered hoping he’d notice her as a woman at her eighteenth birthday party, but to him she was still a child. He’d never seen her as a woman. That was until that faithful night after the vampire ball. She had just turned twenty-two, and had given up on him ever seeing her as a woman. She’d brought her human boyfriend, a blood slave, to the ball. They were walking in the garden, talking about the boorish man who’d frowned at them for laughing in the ballroom. Neither of them noticed that the king was following them out into the gardens. Joe leaned over and began kissing her. It was the first time she had allowed a man close enough to feel comfortable with him touching her. She’d dreamed for so long that Lucian would touch her, but she had given up on that dream. She allowed herself to enjoy the kiss. At least he wanted her, she’d thought. She’d allowed her tongue to tangle with his, he kissed down the side of her neck, making her moan.
That was when Lucian decided he’d seen enough of her in another man’s arms. He’d grabbed Joe, jerked him away from her slamming him against the garden wall.
“How dare you touch her in such a manner, she is not your whore.” His tone deadly, and his eyes had glowed red with rage. Joe had cowered back against the wall stammering.
“I didn’t know she was yours….umm…I didn’t know…” Lucian started at the man, disgusted with his lack of spine. He’d thrown the man at a waiting Dominick, and with an angry growl of.
“Get him the hell out of my sight. Make sure the guards know to keep him off the property.” Staring at him in disbelief, shocked by his utter gall. She watched as Joe was dragged away.
“What the hell was that, Lucian?” She demanded.
He’d turned without looking at her, demanding she follow him to his study to finish their conversation. She’d watched him walk away, pissed. Following him while muttering under her breath, she entered this very study and closed the door behind her. She’d turned, glaring at him.
“You’re not my keeper, and you had no right to interfere.” She remembered stamping her foot, unable to contain her own rage.
He’d moved across the room in a second. Taking her arm and growling, “I have every right.”
He’d pulled her into his arms, slanting his mouth over hers. Moaning, she’d allowed him to kiss her deeply, unable to resist. Their mouths melded and her brain had melted. Her tongue met his and they fought a silent battle for supremacy. Devouring her mouth, growling in pleasure as her arms went up to wrap around his neck. His arms already holding her to him in an unbreakable grip. Dominick had knocked loudly on the study door. Lucian pulled slowly away from her, and then seemed to realize what he had been doing.
“That should not have happened.” He’d said while staring at her lips the whole time he spoke. “I want you to forget that this happened. It was a mistake. I was just angry.”
She’d stared at him, he was rejecting what been the most perfect moment in her life as a mistake. Unable to bear it, she rushed back to her room in tears. Angry that he wouldn’t acknowledge his own feelings, and yet he wasn’t going to allow anyone else to make her happy. That night she’d left. She’d only returned three times since that night.
Tonight, she was ready. Ready to get what she wanted from him. She was finally going after what she wanted. Still, she worried. She was unsure what his reaction to her being here tonight would be. Would he reject her? Wanting a distraction from her thoughts, she looked around nervously. Watching the other women who were also here to possibly become the King’s blood slave. Two were twins and they were the most stunning women she’d ever seen. They were both blonde. One had short hair that hung to her shoulders, and the other had long hair hanging almost to her mid-back. Both had very sleek figures, with large breast. Their eyes were blue and set perfectly in their oval faces.
Another woman was tall with brown eyes and red hair. She seem to have a more rounded figure. Her face was angular, and her nose was a bit off center, unfortunately it only added to her appeal. There were two others in the room one was tall about six two, with blonde hair and thin lips. She smiled at Liza when their eyes met. The other one had chestnut brown hair, which was straightened, green eyes, and a super model figure.
Liza knew that she was lacking when compared to any of the women in this room. She was five two with mousey brown hair and hazel eyes. Her face was pretty, but not stunning. She was full of muscular curves, her own breasts were modest B cups. She knew that she wasn’t going to win any beauty contests. She watched as one twin, the one with the longer hair and possible breast implants, primped in a mirror she’d pulled from a purse she carried.
“I heard from Mary that the king is hung like a horse.” She was telling the redhead as she made kissing faces in the mirror. “She also said that he can go for hours without stopping. I’m sure he’ll pick me, or my sister because he likes blonde’s with big breasts according to the Mary who asked me to come here tonight. Mine are the largest in the room, you’ll notice. Did you see the one over there, the one with the brown hair and scars on her arm and neck? She’ll not be chosen, surely. I don’t understand why they brought that one here. Why bother? The King will take one look at her and run in the other direction. She seems a little mousey if you ask me.” The woman whispered the last part of her statement.
Liza still heard the hurtful things she said because the wispier was almost as loud as the first part of her statement had been. She was right of course, Liza knew that she bore scars. The worst were the ones on her neck, they were from a vampire attack when she was a little more than a child. They didn’t look like anything more than deep jagged scratches that hadn’t healed well. They were actually from a rouge vampire who’d tried to kill her. She fidgeted in her chair, staring out the window. Scared that the woman was right. She feared Lucian would take one look at her and start laughing, right before he had her thrown out.