Rogue Vampire

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Lane is playing a game of cat-and-mouse with Rome's group, when he encounters the mysterious red-haired woman from the night before.

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Cat And Mouse

Submitted: September 05, 2019

Reads: 35

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Submitted: September 05, 2019

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I slipped down an alleyway in the northern part of the city, close to the building locals called Villa Medici. This part of the city was far away from both my resting place and the street I had encountered the woman last night. I rise with the setting sun and don’t usually return to my shelter until dawn was close at hand, especially if I was being actively hunted.

Oddly enough, the streets immediately surrounding Villa Medici was about the only area Rome’s group would not venture close to. It had provided me with an unusual safe sector that I used to monitor their movements elsewhere in the city and to hunt in. Of course, the fact that Rome’s vampires wouldn’t come near made me extra careful about covering up my kills when I feed from the area. There’s a reason they don’t go here and I don’t want that reason to find me.

There were two vampires just a little south and west of me, seemingly stationary. They weren’t too close to where I stayed during the day, so I ignored them for the moment. Another group of three was in that area as well. Other larger groups of four or five moved in a grid pattern to the south and east, closer to the center of the city.

I sighed. It was only two or three hours past sunset and it seemed my pursuers were already out searching for me in force. I thought about going after the two small groups I sensed to the west, but decided against it. I didn’t want to risk drawing in more of the searchers to that area. Instead, I headed for the center of the city. If I timed it right, I would be able to pick off a unit or two of searchers. Someone would call for help, luring the smaller groups back into the city proper and I would disappear back the way I came.

As I drew closer to the numerous shops and homes that the searchers were in, I left the streets, instead using the rooftops to move about. I have excellent balance and am light on my feet, so I made no more noise than a small animal scurrying across the rooftops. My sight allowed me to see damaged or poorly constructed rooftops well ahead of time, ensuring my ability to avoid them.

Within a short time, I closed in on my quarry. It was a group of four men. I drew my blade to drop in on them when I noticed strange activity from others of Rome’s group a dozen streets ahead. Two search parties were converging, one party of four and another of three like they had located their target. Except it wasn’t me.

With a frown, I stretched out my telepathic senses, trying to figure out who would cause such a reaction. At first the energy I sensed was slightly fuzzy, but as I focused on it, I could clearly sense the woman I had encountered last night. Well, she was either a spy going to meet them, or she was about to have that encounter she said she hadn’t wanted.

I hesitated, not sure what to do. I knew I could go back the way I came, no one being the wiser. I could also get closer and find out if that woman was really a part of Rome’s group or not. But if she wasn’t, then what? I had no idea.

As I slid my short sword back in its sheath, I knew I was too curious to turn back now. I accelerated across the rooftops, leaping from one to another, leaving my original quarry behind. I closed the distance quickly and by the time I was within hearing distance, one of Valentino’s Council members was talking.

“…He hunts other vampires. He doesn’t care who they are. Your ka-tet is in just as much danger from him as we are,” the female Council member finished.

I stared down into the street below and saw the seven surrounding the red-haired woman from last night. I didn’t move to intervene. Rome’s vampires had just told her who I was. I knew what would happen next. She would give the direction where she had seen me. Satisfied, they would move northward, leaving her alone, and I would have to scramble to find a new resting place before dawn. I couldn’t blame the woman. She hadn’t known who I was and now that she knew, she would do what she felt she had to in order to protect herself.

I eased away from the edge of the roof I was on and turned to leave. Before I moved more than a couple steps, the woman’s reply stopped me. “Sorry, I haven’t.”

She had lied to Valentino’s people. But why? After a moment of confusion, I figured it out. She meant to hunt me herself, meant to claim whatever reward Valentino was offering for my head. The Council woman echoed my thoughts and stated, “You’re lying. Why are you protecting him? Are you so confident that your group can take him down and collect the bounty? I’m telling you, he’s a common enemy to us, Julia. Where did you see him?”

Group? Both times I’d seen this woman, she had always been alone. What group? Were there really other vampires around I had not sensed? I frowned, remembering how she had seemed to have crept up on me. Maybe there were other vampires around who shielded their presences very well. That would be the last thing I needed.

The woman they called Julia answered again. “No, sorry. I haven’t seen him. Except for my group, you’re the first vampires around here I’ve seen.”

Her words washed over me like ice water. She had confirmed she was a part of a group, but she had once again denied ever seeing me. Why? Was it simply what the Council woman said, that Julia and her group wanted to hunt me down themselves? Or was she . . . I couldn’t accept the other thought that tried to form. It was too illogical, too impossible to be entertained.

“You’re still lying. I can tell. There’s no need to, Julia. You can admit how badly the encounter went for you. We simply want to get a mutual danger out of the way. You don’t have to hunt him yourselves. Our groups can work together.”

There was a silence following the Council’s proposition. They obviously thought she had survived an attack by me and wanted to hunt me down. They wanted her to join forces to do so. If she really meant to do so, she would agree. Or say her group preferred to do it alone. Instead she said, “I would help if I could, but I cannot. I honestly do not think I have seen him. Even if I had, I wouldn’t be able to help you because I do not know the city well enough to give a direction.”

Stunned by her answer, I tried to form coherent thought around a sudden inundation of foreign feelings. I couldn’t deny what she was doing anymore. This woman, this stranger, was protecting me. Julia, they said her name was Julia, I reminded myself. I wondered why the hell it was so important for me to remember her name when I hadn’t bothered to remember anyone’s name in decades. And then I realized it was because nobody had tried to do anything for me in the same span of time. And I knew I had to find out why she was doing it.

I snapped out of my reverie as I realized fighting had broken out in the street beneath me.  They had attacked her. I raced back to the edge of the roof to see one of Rome’s group dead on the ground with his neck twisted around. Julia was lying on the ground next to him with the Council woman on top of her, but a second later her attacker staggered away, blood dripping from her mouth. Julia scrambled to her feet as another of Rome’s group kicked at her. She caught his foot and yanked him toward her, slamming a wooden stake into his chest at the same time.

Julia had obviously been taught how to fight and had strength that most our age didn’t have, but she was still outmatched by her attackers. Within another second or two, she was pinned on the ground, despite her struggles. For a second, I sensed some sort of power stir, but then it was gone and she was still beneath those on top of her.

With a curse, I launched myself off the roof at the attacker who held a piece of wood above her chest. I couldn’t let them kill her for protecting me. I slammed into the man, grasping his weapon as I did so and pushed it upward into his own heart.

Startled exclamations filled the air as the male Council member and a female attacker came after me. I threw her into him and drew my blade, readying myself for another charge. I partially turned to see Julia as I did so and saw the other two living attackers stagger away from her, eyes wide. We stood there for a second staring at each other before they all fled in different directions.

I lowered the sword and put it away, as I watched the last of the attackers disappear. Julia spoke from behind me. “What the hell is with you? Everything I’ve heard about you makes you sound like an insane killer, yet . . .”

I turned to face her completely. She was on her knees in a torn black dress with another stake clutched tightly in her right hand. A small amount of blood trickled from the edge of her mouth and already dark blue marks had appeared across her forehead and right temple.

“Why did you save me?” she questioned, seemingly oblivious to her injuries.

I replied, “I thought I could get dinner.”  It wasn’t exactly a lie; I had hoped to feed off one of her attackers. However, my statement must not have come across right. For the first time fear darkened her pale eyes and she inched away from me.

Julia kept her eyes fixed on me as she staggered to her feet. She didn’t raise the weapon she held, but took a step back. “Well then, I’ll leave you to it.”

I remained still as she took another unsteady step back. She was trembling, from fear or weakness, maybe both. I wanted to ask her why she didn’t tell Rome’s group what they wanted to know, but my last statement seemed to frighten her so I kept silent. If she wanted to run, I wouldn’t stop her.

Julia looked behind her. I was sure she was about to flee, but instead her shaking stopped. Glancing back at me, she asked, “Why didn’t you attack me last night? From what I heard, you aren’t too particular about which vampire you feed off. So why didn’t you?”

I stared at her, surprised by her question. “Why didn’t you attack me?” I blurted out.

Her mouth fell open, then closed. Her brow furrowed as she tried to answer.

 “I, well . . . you . . .” Finally she said, “What? Um, I asked you first.”

It seemed we had startled each other with our questions. She had asked first. It was only fair to answer. “There was no need to.”

“No need to?” she repeated in confusion.

I took a moment to think through my answer. I wasn’t used to conversing like this with someone. I wanted to ensure I used the right words so she understood how confusing this was to me. “I had been distracted. Most vampires assail me on sight. You took me by surprise, yet you did not attack. Why?”

Julia laughed softly and whispered, “This is unbelievable.”  The last of the fear faded from her eyes as she continued, “Honestly, Lane, the reason I did not was because I had no idea who you were. At the time I thought you were an ordinary vampire – as ordinary as one can be at least – that I mistook for a mortal. It wasn’t until later that night that I learned who you are.”

I nodded as I realized my assumption about her lack of knowledge of me had been correct. She had shown little fear when we met because she hadn’t known to fear me. But she also said she had learned who I was last night as well. That meant she had known exactly who I was when Valentino’s people asked . . . and she had lied to them right from the start. Why would she have risked her life to protect what little she had known of my whereabouts? Before I could ask her, Julia spoke again. “Why did you rescue me now?”

“Because you were fighting vampires that want to hunt me down. Why did you protect me when they wanted to know where I was?” I asked in bewilderment.

“I did not want to risk becoming your enemy after you let me go last night. There was only one way I could think of to repay you for that. By not telling them what I knew.” She smiled slightly. “Besides, it will annoy Valentino. He hasn’t heard from us for a while.”

I stared at her, unsure what to say. She thought she had owed me a favor for letting her go last night? Nobody has ever thought that. I could understand not wanting me for an enemy, but to risk immediate death to do so? If I hadn’t been so close, they would have killed her. Before I had sorted out my jumbled thoughts, I sensed two vampires approaching from behind her. Even if they were a part of Julia’s group, it was time to go. They might get the wrong idea about how she got hurt if I were still here.

“I know Valentino. I don’t like him,” I replied. “I must go. Two vampires approach.” Turning, I ran for the trees I knew were on the outskirts of the city. From here, I could reach the forest edge within seconds.

“Lane wait!” I heard her call from behind me but I ignored her until I was safely concealed among the shadows of the trees. There I watched and listened to ensure the newcomers were no threat to her.

“Julia, are you all right?” one of the men asked.

“Yes, no thanks to you,” she replied.

“How badly are you hurt?” he asked. Julia’s reply was too quiet to make out, but he continued, “Sorry. We ran into a problem reaching you.”

I headed further into the woods to make my way home. The two men were clearly members of her group so she was safe now. There was no reason to linger.

As I neared the area where I had sensed the five vampires earlier, I scouted the area carefully. I didn’t sense any vampires nearby, but investigated the stench of blood that emanated from one of the side streets. It was three of Rome’s group dead. I recognized them from an encounter a few weeks ago. It didn’t take me long to put together the pieces. I had sensed a group of three and another group of two. It had been two men who had joined Julia. One of them said they had a problem reaching her. These three had been the problem.

I didn’t understand why her group had been so far apart, but that wasn’t my concern. Julia’s reactions to me remained a curiosity, but if she had felt indebted to me for not feeding off her last night, that debt has now been satisfied. More than likely she’ll keep her distance for the remainder of the time her group is in the city. She was only repaying a favor, making sure there was no reason to come after her. What other reason would there be for protecting an insane vampire’s location?

 


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