Read Bloodfire (Empire of Fangs) Online

Authors: Andrew Domonkos

Bloodfire (Empire of Fangs) (3 page)

 

“Shush, shush,” the older man said.
 
“Now, girl.
 
I’ll ask one more time before my patience runs dry and I put you both on pikes.
 
I asked your name.”

 

The girl looked at
Szellem
and he nodded with a look of defeat on his ashen face.
 

 

“Vivien
Zokos
,” she said finally.

 

The German cackled, and slapped his armor.
 
“Ha!
 
We’ve captured yet another saint.
 
How terrible they are at escaping.”

 

The older man gave the German a reprimanding look, before turning his gaze on the pale hooded man, standing there and mumbling about mercy.

 

“Quiet.
 
What is your name gypsy? Why have you stolen this flower?”

 

Szellem
looked around nervously, unable to form words.
  
“My name is…
Szellem
,” he muttered.

 

This made the older soldier laugh boisterously.
 
He looked at the perplexed German. He translated the meaning:
 
Ghost
.
 
The German chuckled, but now watched Szellum with heightened suspicion, narrowing his eyes and looking him up and down.
 

 

The older soldier spoke again, loudly and impatiently.
 
“My name is Damon
Caspari
of the Order of Dragons.
 
We serve under
Vlad
Tepes
to rid Hungary of the Turkish trespassers in the name of King Matthias
Corvinus
.” It seemed to
Szellem
like a rehearsed speech the man had grown bored with or perhaps had become doubtful of its merit.
 
“You are now my prisoner, sweet flower.
 
Come along now.” He put out a gloved hand.

 

Vivien cried and clutched onto
Szellem
, who fought back the tears.
 
“Go love, perhaps this is the only way to know peace,” he muttered helplessly.

 

Damon seemed amused by the poetic goodbye, and began to clap slowly.
 
His eyes swirled with black as he gazed at the shivering young man in a monk’s robe.
 
He then looked over at the German and nodded.
 

 

The German crouched down like an animal, snarling and showing two sharp fangs at
Szellem
.
 
His face had changed into something crude and demonic.
 
Veins rose and fell in his cheeks and his flesh took on a shade of light blue usually reserved for the dead. The German lunged, knocking
Szellem
down to the ground.

 

Szellem
tried to roll away but it was no use.
 
The man was powerful and he easily pinned him to the ground.
 
The German snarled and opened his mouth wide, before snapping his head down and sinking his teeth into
Szellem’s
neck.
 
Szellem
screamed in terror as his life was drawn from him.
 
He writhed and fought pointlessly against the powerful soldier who only seemed to grow more ferocious with
Szellem’s
pathetic struggles.
 
The German drank and
Szellem
grew limp and feeble.
 
Finally
Szellem
went still, letting what was to be done, be done.

 

“Finish him when you’re done,” Damon barked.
 
Vivien had fainted in his arms, and he carried her away and disappeared over a hill.
 

 

As the German drank,
Szellem
watched the light of the overhead sky through the leaves of the high trees.
 
He felt the numb warmth of death begin to fill his bones and muscles.
 
He began to feel a peace that he had never known.
 
The pines above him began to bend and sway and he could feel the sky calling to him with whispers.

 

But before his eyes closed he heard a strange war cry.
 
It took a moment for
Szellem
to realize the words were Turkish.
 
The German looked up just as an arrow knifed into his shoulder, hurling the German back.
 
The German snarled and looked around.
 
He pulled the arrow out of a gap in his armor where it had lodged and threw it angrily.
 
Two more arrows flew at the German but he ducked them with the agility of a cat. “Cowards!” He shouted.
 

 

Before more arrows were fired, the German darted away, back towards the farm shouting “ambush!” over and over.
 
Szellem
saw the running legs and glimmer of swords rush by him in pursuit.
 
He felt their boots on him but felt no pain.
 
In a moment the men were gone and the clash of war rang out in the woods—
Szellem’s
hunters were suddenly finding themselves the hunted.

 

Very soon the raiding Turks would be upon
Vlad’s
camp, and blood would soak the land until every dead seed in the fields was bathed in red.
 
The collision of evil
Rano
had so dreaded would play out under his morbid perch.
 

 

Szellem
closed his eyes and the sound of war became distant and faint.
 
The peace he had briefly felt slowly started to drift away like smoke. And down the long, dark corridor of his mind’s eye, he saw a great many things flutter and dance in the shadows.

 
 
 

“The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

 

Oscar Wilde

 

1.

 
 

Zara sat on a large rock looking down into the canyon.
 
It was a steep drop, about a hundred feet straight down to a rushing river.
 
A dull blue light had risen over the jagged mountains and thick pines that loomed all around her.

 

She was thinking of her father.
 
By now he would have worked himself into a complete panic.
 
He would call all her friends and probably have to call in sick to one of his jobs.
 
She would have to call him soon and tell him she was alright.
 
She would have to lie.
 
He wouldn’t understand or believe anything she would tell him.
 
He would think it was drugs—the most likely explanation for her recent erratic behavior.
 
Would they come for him?
 
She wondered.
 

 

She suddenly became aware of a presence to her right.
 
She turned her head slowly and saw a pair of sharp feline eyes staring at her curiously—a mountain lion.
 
How long it had been there Zara couldn’t guess.
 
She had been lost in thought for what felt like hours.
 
She looked back at the lion, returning the curious expression.
 
She should have been scared, but no fear arose in her.

 

Her grandmother had often recounted all the gruesome details of mountain lion attacks, which she read about in newspapers, clipping each article and carefully preserving them with macabre relish into a scrapbook.
 
These stories never ended well for anyone but the lion.
 

 

The beast growled at Zara and arched its muscular back, flexing as if considering a pounce. Without thinking Zara barred her teeth and snarled back at the animal, two of her teeth becoming sharp, deadly fangs.
 
The animal whimpered and fled back into the brush and bounded down a few rocks and out of sight.

 

She fell back into her dazed state, watching the rapids bellow.
  
She was in the shade but the rising light of the morning was starting to give her a throbbing headache.
 
She dug in her pockets and found her pair of pink-framed glasses.
 
She held them up in front of her.
 
They were bent but miraculously, unbroken.
 
Besides her clothes, they were the only thing left that she owned.
 

 

A few minutes passed, or hours, she couldn’t be sure, and the sound of an approaching vehicle made her jump to her feet defensively.
 
She looked past the old Scout parked behind her and down the long dirt road that cut into the thick woodland area.
 
An old blue truck was approaching loudly, kicking up dust and rocks and bouncing the driver around like a rag doll.
 

 

The truck reached the Scout and the driver parked beside it.
 
Zara was considering a pounce of her own until she saw Twig lower himself from the driver side.
 
He looked exhausted and two dark bags had formed under his eyes.
 

 

“Well, that was fun,” he said with a grumble.
 
He smiled and stretched his arms wide, facing the rusty truck.
 
“What do you think?” He asked.

 

Zara looked the truck over from end to end.
 
“I think it needs a tetanus shot,” she quipped.
 
“Or a burial.
 
Where did you get this thing?”

 

Twig scoffed dramatically.
 
“C’mon, this thing’s only got two-hundred thousand miles on it!
 
It’s not even broken in yet.”
 
He rocked it a bit with both his hands to prove his point.

 

“Right,” Zara said.
 

 

“I’m lucky to have found anything,” he said defensively.
 
“This guy Earl had this truck out in front of his cabin with a for sale sign.
 
I was like, how much? And he says, ‘Well sir, this the only truck round these here parts for sale, and I reckon you on foot and in need, so maybe we do a grand and spit on it.’ Seriously, said it just like that.
 
So I’m like, how about 600 and he just about went and got his gun.
 
So I forked over a grand.
 
Nice guy.
 
Threw in a pair of socks when he saw my situation down there.”
 
Twig raised one of his boots and showed off a bright white sock with green stripes on it.
 

 

“Stylish.
 
Well, it runs right?”

 

“Like Forrest Gump.
 
Thing’s solid,” he did a karate kick on the door.
 

 

Zara shrugged and they both got a few bags of supplies out of the back of the scout and threw it into the bed of the truck.

 

Twig closed the door of the Scout and sighed.

 

“You
gonna
be able to do this?” She asked with a grin.

 

“You’re getting some twisted pleasure out of this aren’t you?”

 

“Maybe a little.
 
C’mon though, it’s going to a better place.”
 
Zara smirked.

 

“Well, you
wanna
do the honors She-Hulk?”
 
He stepped closer to the Scout and gave it a loving pat.
 
“It’s okay girl,” he said sadly.

 

Zara walked around to the back of the Scout and put both hands on the back of it and dug her heels into the dirt.
 
She shoved forward and the Scout shot off the edge of the cliff and bounced a few times on the rocky cliff face before crashing into the river.
 
It sunk a little, but the top of the truck was still visible, but due to the rust, it only looked like a square rock.

 

Twig gave Zara a nervous look.
 
Her strength was something to behold.
 
“I know…it’s freaky” she said looking at her hands.
 

 

She felt awkward and looked down at the Scout and changed the subject.
  
“Aren’t they supposed to, like, explode or something?”

 

“Well, the thing was on
E
.
 
Next time we push a car off a cliff I’ll make sure to fill her up.”

 

Zara sat on the rock again and lowered her head.

 

“What is it?”
 
Twig asked.
 

 

“I’m hungry,” she said quietly.

 

“I saw a diner in town, we could…”

 

“Not that kind of hunger,” Zara said softly.
 

 

“Um…right,” Twig looked up at the sky and squinted.
 
“Yeah I been thinking about that.
 
I saw a sign for a hospital on my little hike into town.
 
Probably a little rinky-dink mountain place but they might have some…uh blood.
 
I figured you walk in, put the old Vulcan Mind Meld on them and get as much of the stuff as you can carry.”

 

She smiled at him and nodded.
 
“You know, I never did thank you…for always looking out for me…I know I’ve been—”

 

Twig dismissed the apology with a wave of his hand.
 
“Please, you busted me out of the bughouse remember?
 
I’d still be in their watching Judge Judy reruns and eating Prozac pudding if it wasn’t for you.”
 
He put his arm over her shoulder and guided her to the passenger side of the truck.
 
When she got in she pulled him in close and kissed him.
 
He put his arms around her and kissed her back.
 

 

Maybe it was due to her new adrenaline-fueled life, or maybe from her new…condition, but she had really begun to fall for him.
 
And when he looked at her lately she could tell he was falling for her as well.
 
The embrace faltered when a group of crows shot noisily out of a tree nearby.
 

 

Twig lifted his eyes from hers and glanced at her bangs.
 

 

Zara gave him a puzzled look.
 
“What?”

 

“I almost forgot.” He walked to the back of the truck and retrieved a plastic bag.
 
“Stopped at a drugstore on the way back.
 
They didn’t have much but I got a few things.”

 

He handed her a box of hair dye with a girl with black hair on the cover.
 
“Our pictures are probably all over the place.
 
We
gotta
modify our look here a bit.
 
Maybe get those streaks out and give
ya
a little trim.”

 

Zara sighed and took the box.
 
She shot Twig an accusatory glance.
 
“What about you?”

 

“I’m on it,” he said.
 
He reached back into the bag and pulled out a blue t-shirt with a wolf howling at a glowing moon.
 
“Nice huh?
 
Really speaks to my
spirit child
.”

 

He pulled out another box of hair dye.
 
A man of about fifty smiled from the box with dark wavy hair.
 
“Handsome yet sophisticated,” Twig said, striking a pose.

 

“The
stache
…” Zara said, touching her own upper lip.
 

 

“Yeah, yeah. It’s going,” he took a blue
Bic
razor out of the bag and looked at it miserably.
 

 

Twig got in the truck and drove until they found a little river by the road. They got out got out and dyed their hair.
 
Once dyed and washed, they took turns with the scissors.
 
Zara was amazed at the job he did on hers.
 
She looked herself over in the window of the truck. “You’re really good at this...”, she said in awe.

 

“Yeah, well, I’m told there’s a lot of artists in my family tree,” Twig mumbled.
 
He handed Zara the scissors and said, “Okay, now do me.”

 

Zara raised an eyebrow at him.
 

 

“C’mon, you know what I mean.
 
I
kinda
want the Johnny
Depp
.
 
You know that one?”
 

 

“Sure no problem.
 
You want Edward
Scissorhands
or Hunter S. Thompson? Jack Sparrow perhaps?”
 
Zara snipped at the air with the scissors maniacally and giggled.
 

 

Twig ducked away. “Just don’t go Sweeney Todd on me.”
 

 

Zara sighed and rolled her eyes.
 
“Just stand still already.”
 

 

When she was done she apologized immediately.
 
“I really did my best,” she cooed.

 

He looked in the truck mirror.
 
“Hey, not bad actually.”

 

“Really? Thought it looked a bit…I
dunno
…uneven.”

 

“Nah it’s cool.
 
I dig it.”

 

Zara was relieved and got back in the truck.
 
The sun was coming up now, and golden light filtered through the overhead trees.
 

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