Chapter 3

Part 10

The next day Raven and Darshon finally left the woods and continued on their quest. Raven could sense something leading him off the road he had found. It was not Blade he sensed, but something else. A feeling long forgotten lead him to an old abandoned house. The structure was decrepit for what seemed to be decades. Raven walked close to the house not knowing the horrible sight he would soon behold once he was inside. He entered the building. The stench of death almost knocked him backwards. Raven walked into the bedroom and gasped at what he saw. There lay the remains of what had once been a human being. Tattered pieces of fabric formed a somewhat recognizable dress. And upon the skeletons head there were strands of dirty but still visible hair. The remains were that of a woman. Raven could see blood upon the tattered sheets of what had once been a bed. What could have happened to her? Raven walked over to the body and touched one of its bony fingers. Suddenly a rush of memories surged into Raven’s head. In an instant he could see the image of a young woman giving birth and the sight of a raven dropping a feather upon the first born son. Then he saw the woman die and in shock watched the second child ripping its way out of its mother. Then it dawned upon him what he was seeing.

Raven drew back from the corpse in horror. The remains were of his mother, Sara. He had seen the horrible death she had suffered. He stumbled back from the corpse. The fleshless skull seemed to look at him. Its face was locked forever in agony. Raven ran out of the house and fell to his knees. The house was now Sara’s tomb. The bed was her coffin, and her body, food for the worms. Raven looked down at the ground as tears fell from his eyes. “DRAKE! I swear I will find you! And when I do, I will send you to hell!” He screamed with rage. He looked back at the house, that contemptible house of death. He mustered what strength he had and walked back into it. He gathered up the remains of his mother and carried them outside. Then, with what rotten logs he could find, he built a funeral pyre and set Sara’s body upon it. Then, with the coming of night, Raven set the body and the pyre in flames. He watched as smoke bellowed towards the sky. His eyes stung as tears of grief fell from them. He looked up to the sky. “Dear God, my mother was innocent. She was not to blame for the horrible death she suffered. I pray you have long since received her soul. Dear, dear mother, how could that monster do this to you, and leave your body for the rats and worms? I swear to you Mother, I will make him pay for his crimes. He will not succeed in bringing down humanity. I won’t let him.” Raven said and watched the fires slowly begin to wane. When morning came, Raven gathered up the ashes and placed them in a rabbit skin. “Darshon, stay here. There is something I must do. I will come back for you.” Raven said in a hushed whisper. His voice still trembled with both grief and anger. Raven carried his mother’s ashes to a small stream. The surface was flawless and the water clear as freshly washed glass. Raven knelt beside the calmest stream in the pond. There he scattered the ashes. “Mother,” he said as he wept, “The agony you must have endured. He took your innocence and then he took your life. That life you gave, so that I may have mine. Your son cannot give you the burial that was rightfully yours. At least now you can rest. That beast can never hurt you again. God will protect you now. Be at peace now, Mother.” Raven was silent for a moment. Then he got up and went back to the cursed house that had once been Sara’s tomb. He looked at it for a moment, then threw some old wood into the front entrance. With a look of utter contempt, he the logs on fire and watched the house burn. As the flames consumed the structure, he found Darshon hiding in a dark bush. He found an old blanket and covered Darshon with it.

Part 11

The rest of the day he and Darshon traveled. That night, they found an inn. Raven took the cover off of Darshon, and they both entered the small tavern. Raven found an empty table and sat down. Darshon settled down beside him. A girl walked up to him and he told her to bring him something to eat. “My dog is hungry. Can you find something for him?” Raven asked. “Some hunters came in with fresh deer. I can get him some.” She replied. Raven nodded. The girl left and soon returned with what Raven requested. As he looked at the food, he could see a small amount of blood that flowed around the meat. The girl saw how he was staring at his plate. “I hope you don’t mind, but the food around here isn’t exactly cook very long.”

“That is about the only way I can eat it. I’m afraid my stomach doesn’t tolerate food that’s been cooked too long. That is all I need.” Raven replied. The girl turned and left. Raven tried to eat despite the fact that he did not feel like eating. The past events had killed his appetite, but the blood lust within craved the small amount of blood that still flowed from the rare meat. So he ate what he could. Darshon sucked the blood from a portion of deer carcass and then tore at the meat. Raven tried to eat what he could, but found he wanted the blood more than he did the flesh. He soon found his quiet meal interrupted by a very boisterous patron.

“Come here love. You can give me a little time.” He laughed. The girl looked away with an irritated look upon her face and tried to ignore him. But ignore him would be the one thing she would not be able to do. He got up and stumbled over to her. She pushed him away. “Leave me alone. I’ve served you already.” She said harshly. “No you haven’t. You’ve not been in my bedroom yet.” The man laughed. “Get your hands off me.” The girl protested. “Ah but you’re a spirited wench. I love a woman with bite in her.”

“If you don’t shut your mouth, I’ll show you a man with bite in him.” Raven growled. The man didn’t hear him and continued to harass the poor girl. “Come on baby, you don’t know what you’re missing.” He laughed. “And I’d rather not find out either. Now leave me alone.” After repeated refusals, the man still would not leave her be. And Raven was becoming rather perturbed at his attempts to change her mind. “Will you kindly shut your mouth? Your breath is making the food here rot.” Raven growled. “Go eat with your mut and mind your own business? Come on love.” The man said and proceeded to pick the girl up. “Hey! Put me down you brute!” She cried. “Put her down!” Raven shouted. The man looked at him, and dropped the girl to the floor. “I can see I’m going to have to teach you a lesson. And when I’m done with you, me and my little lady here can finally be alone.”

“Like hell!” The girl shouted and proceeded to kick him between his legs. “Why you little bitch!” He yelled. But before he could strike, he felt a large cold hand around his throat. “I would suggest you mind your manners, and leave the young lady alone.” Raven growled. “Make me, you overgrown bastard.” With that, the man felt his body fly through the air. When he landed, Raven walked calmly over to him and proceeded to hoist him up in the air. “Now, I want you to act like a good little boy and apologize to the young lady.”

“You both can kiss my drunken ass!” The man stuttered. Then he found himself being slammed through a small table. “Do you want to try this again?” Raven asked. The sot stumbled over to the young girl. “You have my sincerest apologies my lady.” He said and then promptly fell on his face. Raven left him where he lay and walked over to the young girl. “Are you all right?” He asked helping her up. “I’m all right. If it weren’t for the fact that this hell hole is my bread and butter, I wouldn’t work here.” She replied. “You look too young to be working in a place like this. Your parents must worry about you.”

“They would worry, if they were alive. My mother went crazy shortly after I was born. My father died in a hunting accident. My brother took me to live with my grandmother. She has practically raised me all of my life. She died a year ago. I live in her house and have worked here to keep a roof over my head and food in my mouth. It’s a hell of a living, but I’ve had worse. I’m Brinna, and yes, I am a little too young to be working in a place like this. But as you saw, I can take care of myself, most of the time.” Brinna answered.

“I’m Raven. I’ve been traveling for some time now. Tell me, have you seen anything strange in this village?” Raven asked. “That depends.” Brinna said. “Are you talking about the sick men looking for children to molest, women who enjoy whipping the men, men who are so desperate for action they’d take a cow or a horse or . . .” Raven stopped Brinna from going any further. “That isn’t what I meant. I’m talking about anything that seemed unnatural, or unearthly.” Raven said. Brinna looked around for a moment. “Come to think of it, there was something very strange that went on a few days ago. It happened when a group of people came into the village. They were the weirdest bunch I ever saw. They came to us during the night, and never showed themselves by the light of day. And there was one young man in particular, he looked human, but he didn’t act human. I think his name was, Blade.”

“Blade. Was there another man with him? A man named Drake, was he with this Blade.” Raven said with anxiety in his voice. “I don’t think so. Like I said, there were only a few with him. And as soon as they came, strange things started to happen. People went missing, and even worse, many started turning up dead. The most bizarre detail that I’ve heard is the bodies were completely drained of blood.” Brinna explained. Raven turned away. “I was afraid you were going to say that. The people you spoke of are called vampires. The whole story is too complicated to explain. I think I had best go and catch up to their trail.”

“That’s not a good idea. These things thrive on the night. I’ve heard of vampires and what they are capable of doing. But that still doesn’t explain the one named Blade. He did walk about in the daylight looking for women. He even tried to seduce me. I don’t know if he was just looking for a mistress or something worse.” Brinna said. Raven looked away from her. “I can’t explain that. It’s too long a story to get into.” Raven replied. “Why? Are these people after you? Look, you can trust me. Whatever it is you feel you have to hide from the rest of the world, you can tell me. You don’t want to travel out there right now. The road is infested with night crawlers and cut throats at such a late hour. Besides, I’m just looking for an excuse to leave this place. You can stay with me.”

“You don’t even know me that well. I don’t think,”

“I’m eighteen years old for heaven’s sake. You look like someone I could trust my life with. Now I don’t want any more arguments. You and your dog need a place to stay, and believe me, this filth pit is the last place you want to spend the night. My home isn’t far from here. You can stay there tonight and get a head start in the morning.” Brinna replied. Raven looked at her. She was headstrong, but perhaps she was right. More trouble was what Raven didn’t need right now. And he did need someone to trust him, and someone he could trust. He nodded his head in agreement. Together they left the tavern and walked back to Brinna’s home. “I didn’t see a horse with you. Have you traveled all this way on foot?” She asked. “I would have to. I don’t think there is a horse around here who could hold my weight.” Raven replied. “My brother could get you a horse big enough to carry two of you. He breeds some of the largest horses in Europe. The horses he owns can carry a great deal and run like lightening. I can take you to him tomorrow. There’s my home. It isn’t much, but at least you’ll have a roof over your head. The skies look stormy anyhow, another good reason for you to stay here for the night.”

“Yes. The clouds do not look very friendly. I’ll stay here tonight. Then you can take me to your brother in the morning.” Raven said. “What is it these vampires want with you?” Brinna asked. “I would rather not talk about it. The story is too complicated to discuss.” Raven answered. “Now look, what was your name?” Brinna inquired. “Raven. My name is Raven.” He answered. “Now look Raven, if you’re going to stay here there has to be a measure of trust on your part. I hardly know you and I’m inviting you into my house. I think you could give back some of that trust by telling me why vampires are looking for you."

Part 12

Raven shrugged knowing he would have to trust somebody, and Brinna was as good as anybody. “They’re not looking for me. I am hunting them.” He began. “You’re a vampire hunter?” She asked. “In a sense. The leader, Drake, raped my mother, and when she gave birth to my brother Blade and I, she died. I was adopted and raised by a couple with a son of their own. Drake left my mother’s body to rot above the earth. I swore revenge upon him. That is why I am chasing him and my brother.” Raven explained. Brinna stood dumbfounded by what she heard. “Your mother was raped by a vampire? But that makes you,”

“A mortal with vampire’s blood in his veins. I have suffered with that knowledge ever since I was a child. My foster parents tried to protect me from it, but it came out anyway. I try my best to avoid feeding on anything but animals. As long as you keep your distance with me when my blood lust strikes, you will be safe.” Raven said. “Don’t worry. I’ll be sure I’m in the next village when you get hungry. It’s late so I’m going to bed. Uh, you have fed haven’t you?” Brinna asked tensely. “I promise you won’t find me standing over you with my teeth in your neck.” Raven replied.

Part 13

Thunder rumbled and lightening struck the ground. Brinna was fast asleep in her bedroom, while Raven laid in the front room with Darshon guarding her room. Not able to sleep, Raven lay awake hearing the loud rumblings of the storm raging outside. Brinna was the first to know Raven’s secret. Somehow he knew she would not betray him. There was something familiar about her, but he didn’t know what exactly. The storm raged on as Raven tried to sleep. At last his eyes grew heavy, and he drifted off into an uneasy sleep. Soon after, the storm passed over the village, and the clouds parted. Morning came and the sun shined down upon the buildings. Water from the rains the night before glistened in the sunlight. Raven got up and found a sunless corner for Darshon to hide in. Brinna walked into the front room to find Raven standing at the door. “I have to leave Darshon here. He doesn’t tolerate sunlight very well. How far away does your brother live?” “Not far. By walking it should take us only two hours. On horseback, the time is maybe half an hour. My brother’s horses travel fast, much faster than human feet can.” Brinna answered. “Then we should leave now. Darshon will guard the house. I don’t have a lot of time. Drake plans to mate with a human female at the coming of the new moon. If a female offspring is produced, he will breed half brother and sister together. If that happens, the results could be disastrous. He could then breed an entire race of human vampire beings. The offspring would have all the abilities of a vampire, but none of the vampire’s weaknesses. Sunlight would not weaken them, and they could live on food as humans do to survive. Whole armies could be sent by both night and day to wipe out the entire human race. The world would be plunged into eternal darkness.” “But there won’t be a new moon for at least four months.” Brinna said puzzled. “Child, four months is but an eye blink to a vampire. As I speak Drake is already searching the countryside for virgin girls. He doesn’t have to wait till the new moon to find a maiden. It is only at the time of the new moon when he can take her and hope for offspring, a female offspring. You said Blade tried to seduce you.” “Yes.” “Then perhaps you would be safer with your brother. I would guess you are a virgin, are you not?” “Normally I would tell you that is none of your business, but yes, I am a virgin.” Brinna answered. “Then that alone puts you in danger. You should stay with your brother. This village may not be safe for you anymore. If Drake’s servants and my brother came here once, then they can come again.” Raven said. “I guess you could be right. Several young girls have gone missing, and that only happened when Drake’s slaves showed up.” “Then you should stay with your brother when we reach him. Darshon,” Raven called. The dog whimpered at the thought of going out in the daylight. “I know you’re not used to it boy, but we won’t be coming back here, and I can’t leave you alone.” Raven said. “I have a small horse out back. She can carry your dog so he can stay covered. The journey to my brother’s stable isn’t very far.” Brinna said. “All right then. Get the mare, and we can be on our way.” Raven replied. After preparing for the journey, Raven, Darshon, and Brinna headed for her brother’s stables.

**to be cont.**

Chapter 4

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