Chapter 5

Part 18

Raven soon found a small establishment to stay at. It had already been a long day of travel and the small band was tired and hungry. “Just where are these infamous mountains you expect me to find?” Raven asked. “Three days journey from here. But of course if you don’t make it out alive, time won’t mean a thing to us.” Peck answered. “What are you talking about?” questioned Raven once more. “The route you must take is through a forest a day and a half from here. Legend has it that the forest was once a place of execution. Even though it hasn’t been used to kill prisoners or criminals for years, it’s said that the dead still inhabits that horrible place. The condemned souls of murderers, rapists, and every other kind of scum look for innocent souls to drag to hell as revenge for their deaths.” Peck answered. “Out of all that have gone there, exactly how many have come out alive?” Raven asked. “None.” Peck answered. “None?” Raven asked. “Not a soul.” Peck replied. “Thanks for the encouragement.” Raven grumbled.

Raven rode up to the small village and found an Inn where he could stay the night. He soon settled his horse, which he named Demon Hunter and Darshon in a small stable for the night. Then he settled himself in a room. He grabbed a glass and poured what he thought was water, then noticed it had a red tint to it. It couldn’t be blood, he thought. It was too clear to be blood. He sniffed it and decided the liquid would do him no harm. After a few gulps he found himself wanting more and more of the stuff and before long, he had drunk an entire pitcher of it. Raven was good for a while, but he soon discovered that he couldn’t hold his head up very well. He felt dizzy and somewhat nauseous, and found himself relieved of the meal he had consumed not too long before. Hoping that perhaps some night air would help him over this sudden ailment, he tried to walk out of the tavern. But he found that even walking; a normally easy task was almost impossible without him stumbling around. So he tried to maintain his balance and staggered out of the tavern. He managed to stay a foot for a few moments, but, alas, fell directly on his face. Peck looked down from his perch to see Raven struggling to get up on his feet. “Now what has that big lug done?” Peck complained. “Raven, what in all of the world is a matter with you?” Peck demanded. “Bird, a bird is talking to me? Why are you talking to me bird? Why does the sky feel so heavy?” Raven stammered and slurred. “Oh for the love of almighty God. You’re drunk you idiot. How in the world did you get yourself into this predicament?”

Raven, not hearing one word Peck said, started swatting the air. “I . . . I’ve almost got it. There’s a big white ball.” He rambled. “That is not a ball. That’s the moon. You can’t get it out of the sky you dummy. Now get back in the tavern before you make a total fool out of yourself.” But Raven was totally oblivious to Peck’s demands. He was too busy trying to grab stars out of the sky. Then something else caught his attention. A young woman, rather scantily dressed, walked up to him. She could tell from his behavior that he was obviously intoxicated. “Oh you poor dear.” She purred. “I feel so dizzy. Oh my head feels like it’s going to fall off.” Raven groaned. “Now we can’t have that now can we? You come with me you poor, gorgeous thing. I’ll take you to a nice warm bed.”

“Raven, Raven! You get away from her! Don’t you know what she is? Now you get back, cawhhh!” Peck cawed. “You’ll look nice on my mantle after I stuff you,” said a big-bellied taxidermist. “Raven, get back here! Now see here, put me down! Raven, Raven!” As Peck cawed for dear life, Raven followed the young woman into a building. He stumbled in to find beautiful women soon surrounded him. They all looked at him with hungry eyes. “My,” one said. “Look at how big he is.” Another cooed. “We haven’t had a real man in here since ages.”

“Now, now, my lovelies.” An older, but no less lovely woman herself, said with a sympathetic sigh. “We mustn’t scare the poor boy. He looks like he is in need of a little attention. Take him up stairs and make him, comfortable.” She said with a laugh. “Yes mistress.” They all sighed in unison. Eager to help, they all got Raven to an upstairs bedroom. “Come you poor thing. You must be in terrible shape.” One girl said. “I feel like my head is going to explode.” Raven moaned in pain. “We’ll make you feel better.”

“Are you sure we can, help him? He might not have any money?” asked a girl. “Mistress says we’ve had such good business we can afford to give things away once and a while,” another said. Raven stumbled and fell flat on the bed. He tried to right himself and found the women surrounding him on the bed. They all looked at him as he fell into a drowsy, drunken sleep. One woman eyed him and ran her hand across his chest. “He looks so strong. He must be exhausted.” Another purred. “If he isn’t now, he will be when we get through with him.”

Raven opened his eyes to find a young woman sitting on top of him with her lips locked on his. Not knowing what was going on, Raven started pounding his fist on the bed. Then he pushed the girl off. He tried to gain some sense of composer even though he was drunk out of his mind. The girl looked at him for a moment. “Oh my, is this your first time love?” She asked. “First time, first time for what? Why are you,” Raven’s eyes widened in shock as the girl proceeded to take off her dress and stood before him almost naked. “Look, you’re very attractive, but I think you need to put your clothes back on.” Raven said still shocked at what he saw. “Now, now love, you don’t have to be scared. We’ll be gentle.” She said. “What are you talking about, whoa!” Raven gasped as she proceeded to start stripping him. “What the hell are you doing?” But before Raven could protest any further, she was on top of him madly kissing his neck. Before long, he decided to quit protesting and began to enjoy this rather intimate attention. “Oh mother, I pray you never see this.”

“Can’t we talk this over? You don’t want to stuff me. Look, I’m really not all that attractive. I’ve heard it’s bad luck to stuff a crow. Wouldn’t you rather like a stuffed goose or a duck? I hear red birds look very nice on mantles. RAVEN!” Of course, the man could not hear English coming from Peck. Only Raven could understand the bird. Anyone else only heard squawks and caws. The man grabbed Peck by his talons and dangled him under a table. Seeing that his life was in dire jeopardy, Peck did the only thing he knew to do. He opened his beak, and proceeded to snap it shut right between the man’s legs. Screaming in pain, he dropped Peck and grabbed himself. Peck flapped his wings madly and flew out of the man’s house. He flew as fast as he could to the place where Raven had gone.

Peck flew in a window and found Raven passed out on the bed. He was completely naked, except for the blanket that covered his lower body. Peck looked at him with absolute disgust. He flew down to Raven and walked right next to his ear. “CAW!” Raven woke up very quickly and put his hand on his ear. He looked to find Peck looking sternly at him. “Well, did you enjoy yourself? Did you enjoy having your body violated like a cheap slut? Was it any good for you? Well, while you were having your loins set on fire, I narrowly escaped being turned into a mantle piece. What would your mother think? I can’t believe you would be so brazen and irresponsible as to, arhg.” Peck gasped. “If you don’t stop yelling at me I will be forced to rip out that beak of yours and stuff it up your tail feathers!” Raven barked and rubbed his forehead. “Where the hell am I? Why in the world am I, naked?”

“Let me enlighten you. You got drunk and then followed a girl into this, this, house of ill repute.” Peck said sternly. “A what?” Raven asked wearily. “A whore house, you dummy. You’ve probably had every woman in here. You were so drunk you probably don’t even remember half of what they did to you.” Peck answered. “All I know is I feel like my head is going to fall off.” Raven moaned. “Well it serves you right. Maybe now you’ll be more careful of what you drink and who you follow around here.” Peck replied. “Well if you had told me the stuff I had would make me act like this I wouldn’t have drunk it.” Raven complained. “I’m a guide, not a nurse maid. You know better now.”

“Hello love. How are you feeling?” said a female voice. “What happened?” Raven asked. “You don’t remember? You made my girls very happy last night. Hell of a time for a virgin eh love!” The woman laughed. “First time for a, Oh my God.” Raven said as his face turned red. “Congratulations. You just found out what men and women do with each other.” Peck said in a sarcastic tone. “I didn’t. Please tell me I didn’t.” Raven said with a moan. “Oh did you ever! My girls have never had so much fun in their lives.” The mistress laughed. “I feel so violated, so . . . cheap.”

Part 19

“Mother!” a voice, yelled. “Oh for love’s sake, my over restricted daughter.” The mistress grumbled. “Oh mother now what have you,” A young girl walked in to find Raven lying in the bed and her mother looking at him. “Mother! You promised to stop this. You promised me you would stop doing this.” The girl said sternly. “Oh come on now Cinda. I didn’t charge him nothing.” The mother said hanging her head down. “Oh now you’re letting men in here for free. I can’t believe you can be so cheap and irresponsible.” Cinda scolded. “Excuse me.” Raven interjected. “And you!” Cinda barked. “How dare you come in here to my mother’s house and use her and her girls for, for, one night of cheap passion! You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You and every other piece of scum who waltzes into my mother’s house and thinks they can have anything they want. You’re a disgrace to manhood. You lush, you womanizer, you masher, you”

“He was drunk.” The mother said plainly. “And another thing, you, he was what?” Cinda asked. “He was drunk. One of the girls found him stumbling around. It was my fault. I let the girls have him. The poor boy was a virgin. He didn’t know what hit him. Apparently, he didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. I don’t even think he knew what made him drunk.” Cinda’s mother replied. Cinda looked at Raven and cautiously walked over to him. “I, uh, I,” Cinda stammered. “No need for apologies.” Raven said. “Just a minute. I just acted like an idiot, and I would like the chance to recant it if you don’t mind.” Cinda said. “She always acts like that. I think she gets it from her father.”

“You leave my father out of this. I would say leave his good name out of this, but I don’t even know what his name is.” Cinda replied. “You would thank me for that. He was the strangest person I had ever met. He never went out much in the daytime, but oh he was a devil at night. He always had a flair for the dramatic, and always left his mark. It took a week for those darn bite marks to go away.”

Raven’s eyes widened. “Did you know his name?” He asked. “I knew it, but I can’t remember it. I think his name was Lars. Yes. His name was Lars. He knew how to make a woman happy. But was never able to commit to one. He always roamed the countryside. Never an evil word, but what an appetite he had for passion. He spent so much time with me. He made me feel loved, and then, he was gone. He didn’t even know I was pregnant. Maybe he felt he wasn’t good enough for me. I don’t know. He never said a word before he left. Oh well, I don’t think ill of him. He left me with enough money to take care of this place. That was before the girls came in. They didn’t have a place to stay. So I give them a home, and they more than make up for the keep.”

“Look, this is all very well, but I have to get my clothes and get out of here.” Raven said. “Are you sure you wouldn’t want to stay, just a little longer?” The mistress asked. “Madame, I think your girls have done more than enough for me. Now if you would excuse me, I need to get dressed.”

“Come mother. Let the man get his clothes on.” Cinda said and hurried herself and her mother out of the bedroom. “Raven,” Peck said. “Did you hear what the girl’s mother said. A man who only came out by night, leaving bite marks that take a long time to heal. Do you know what this means?” Peck asked. “The girl’s father is or was a vampire. Cinda is just like me. But she isn’t any of Drake’s kin. The mother said his name was Lars. But the important thing is she is like me, . . . and Blade. If Drake were to get a hold of her, and join her to my brother,”

“The consequences would be catastrophic. The entire world would be plunged into darkness.” Peck replied. “I can’t let Cinda stay here. She and the whole world will be doomed if Drake or my brother discover she exists. But how do I tell her?” Raven asked. “You tell her the truth. She and you hold the key to the fate of the world. He needs only to find her and join her to Blade at the coming of the new moon. If the child survives, then others will be bred. She must come with us.” Peck explained. “How do I tell her that her father is a vampire?” Raven asked. “You’ll just have to tell her as best you can.”

“Are you dressed yet?” asked Cinda. “Yes.” Raven answered. “I would like to speak to your mother a moment.” He said. “All right. Mother, he wants to talk to you.” Cinda replied. “Now, now love. You can have any girl you want, except my daughter.” Cinda’s mother said with a wink. “Madame, it is about your daughter I wish to speak. But I have no intention of defiling her. I must tell you about the man who is her father. You said he only saw you at night, and left bite marks on you.” Raven inquired. “Yes. He always bit me on the neck. And I always felt a little weak after we made love. It was as if he was taking the life out of me.”

“He was hungry and had to feed.” Raven replied. “I beg your pardon.” The mistress said somewhat offended. “Your blood, he needed your blood. The man you slept with was a vampire. He was probably hungry for blood, so he took some of yours. It is rare though to find one that takes only what it needs.” The mistress looked at Raven as if he were a lunatic. “I don’t know what you drank last night,”

“I’m not making this up. I know, because my father is a vampire, and so is Cinda’s.” Raven explained. “That is ridiculous. My daughter is perfectly normal. Asides from being a little prudish, I’d say she is a perfectly normal young girl.” The mistress said sternly. “Do I look any different. The only thing that saved your girls last night was the fact that I was drunk out of my mind. The alcohol calmed the blood urge. But had I been perfectly sober, my blood lust could have gotten the better of me. I am human, but vampire blood runs in me. That which also runs in your daughter though she is not aware of it. I am surprised that she has not had any attacks yet.”

The mistress began to cry. “I’m not. I’m afraid you have only told me what I already knew. That’s why I had a warlock put a spell on her that would block the affects. She would be a normal child, and grow up to be a normal woman, unless,” she stopped. “Unless what?” Raven asked. “Unless she met up with another of her kind. But these things are so rare. I thought she would be safe. I know I should have told her the truth about her father, but I just didn’t have the nerve. She’s my only child. I just wanted to protect her.”

“I know. My foster mother never told me the truth about my father and mother until it was too late. My father kidnapped my mother and raped her. He planned to produce a male child. When the child reached the right age, he would find another maiden and take her as he did my mother. This time he will try to produce a female offspring and then at the right time, join her to the male child. When I found out the truth of my mother and father, I also found out that I had a brother, Blade. If my father finds Cinda, he will not even have to take another woman. He will join Blade to her if he gets his hands on her. Cinda will be safe with me, if I may have your permission to take her from here. And that is, if she is willing to go.” Raven explained.

“Mother, is it true?” Cinda asked in shock. She had been listening to Raven and her mother the whole time. “Yes Cinda. I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to be hurt. I didn’t want you to think poorly of me. “I’m sorry Cinda. I’m so sorry.” Her mother sobbed. “Mother.” Cinda said and hugged her mother. “I just wanted someone to love me. That’s all I ever wanted.”

“It’s all right Mother. I understand.” Cinda said. “Cinda said. “Cinda, do you understand why I must take you from here? You and I have the same problem. If my father and brother find you,” Cinda stopped Raven. “I understand. Mother, don’t worry about me.” She said. “I’m your mother. I always worry about you when you’re gone.” Her mother choked. “I promise you. Cinda will be safe with me. I will not let anything happen to her. You have my word, upon the blood of my own mother, I will meet hell itself before I let this girl meet harm.”

“Then you two go now. You take good care of my little Cinda.” Her mother said. “I shall.” Raven replied. Cinda packed her things and accompanied Raven back to the tavern. “That mark on your chest, how did it get there?” Cinda asked. “I’m told that the moment I was born, a raven appeared and dropped a feather upon my chest. Since then this mark has always been there.” Raven replied. “You said something about having a brother.”

“Blade. I pray he doesn’t sense you’re with me. You see, my father, Drake, had only planned on one child being born. That he knows about me, I don’t know. But I do know this much. By the coming of the new moon he will try to mate with another human female and try to produce female offspring. Once the child has matured, he will join her to Blade and begin a new race of vampires. But if he finds out about the truth of your bloodline, he won’t have to find a woman. He can simply join you to Blade and begin his army of evil. I have to stop that from happening. That is why I insisted on taking you with me.” Raven explained. “Raven, you say I am like you. What is it like to live as a mortal with vampire blood in your veins?” Cinda asked. “It won’t be easy. But you are lucky. I have already tasted human blood. It happened when I was a boy. A bully shot my foster brother with an arrow. I became enraged and tore the shooter apart. I live off the blood of animals. I feel guilty about even doing that. I eat normal food when I can, but animal blood is the only way for me to keep my blood urge from overtaking me. Even then, the want for human blood is not easy to ignore. You have never tasted human blood, or any blood for that matter. Perhaps the craving will never strike you.” As Raven spoke, he and Cinda went to the stable to claim Demon Hunter and Darshon. As Raven saddled his horse, he heard an awful groan. He turned around and found Cinda on her knees. “Raven, what’s happening to me? My insides are on fire. I feel like I’m going to starve to death.” Cinda gasped. Raven ran over to her. “I was afraid this would happen. The spell your mother had put on you has broken. It would last as long as you did not meet up with another like yourself.” He said as he looked around for a blood source. He found, of all things, a rat. He grabbed it and proceeded to tear its throat open. “Here. This will make the hunger go away. This way you will only crave animal blood. Easy now.” Raven said. Cinda grabbed the dead rat from him and greedily sucked it dry. Not a drop was left. Cinda coughed and choked, but at last, the craving subsided. “It’s all right. You’ll be all right Cinda. We have a moment. Just let the blood settle into your system, and you’ll regain your strength.”

“Raven, is this how I have to live?” Cinda asked fearfully. “Only when the blood hunger strikes. Take it easy. You’ll be all right. You’re first blood was not human, so you won’t need for human blood. I only wish I could be half as lucky.” Raven said.

Part 20

As soon as Cinda returned to normal, she and Raven mounted Demon Hunter. Darshon rode on the horses massive flank covered by a blanket. They traveled most of the day until they came to a small wooded area. There were only trees and wild animals. Once darkness came, the small band stopped and made camp. Raven built a fire while Darshon hunted small animals. Cinda, tired from her experience that day, decided to lay down upon a soft mound of grass and fell into an uneasy sleep. As Raven finished the campfire, he stopped for a moment. He sensed something not far away. There was a feeling that sent uneasiness through Raven’s soul. He could feel the vampire blood within him beginning to stir. Without looking, he withdrew a small dagger and drove it into the source of his tension. Behind him stood a vampire. A male, it hissed and lunged at Raven. Having thought Raven and Cinda would be a blood feast; the creature tried to take Raven by surprise. But being half vampire himself, Raven could sense the unholy beast’s presence. Cinda sprang up quickly to find Raven and the intruder rolling on the ground. “Darshon!” She cried. Instinctively sensing his master was in trouble, the vampire hound ran to help Raven. Snarling and barking, Darshon bit into the intruder’s leg and refused to let go. His fangs glittering with blood, the intruder kicked at Darshon in an attempt to free himself. Raven grabbed a sword he had bought and raised the blade. With cold precision, he brought it down, severing the head from the body. Instantly, the chaos ceased. “Raven what happened?” Cinda asked startled. “A vampire. I don’t know if he was one of Drake’s followers. Being half vampire, I guess I have the power to sense them. I don’t think this could be one of Drake’s. His followers travel in packs. Why would one be so foolish enough to travel on its own.”

“Are there anymore nearby?” Cinda asked. “I don’t think so. I can’t sense any others that would be near. This one must have been a loner. I’ll have to burn the body. I’ve heard these things have recuperative powers beyond imagination. Burning is the best way to insure they don’t come back. You stay here. I won’t be long. Darshon, you stay with Cinda. Make sure nothing happens to her.” Raven ordered. Darshon barked compliantly. Raven picked up the severed head and dragged the body to a small clearing. He returned to get a small skin of alcohol and a torch. Then he went to dispose of the body. Soon afterwards, Raven returned to the camp. “We should get some sleep. We’ll have a long journey ahead of us and will need our strength.”

“Raven, how come you could sense him, and I couldn’t?” Cinda asked. “You’re powers haven developed. They’ve been subdued since the day you were born. And it could be that in some females, that kind of power never fully develops. You shouldn’t worry about it. If any more try to ambush us, then they will deal with me.” Raven replied. Cinda found a small quail bobbing about in front of her. She looked at it thinking how sweet it was, but then the innocent thought turned into thinking how sweet its blood would taste. She looked at it and grabbed it. Then she sank her teeth into it. His back turned; Raven did not see her feeding. As he turned around, he found her with her head in her hands. The tiny bird lay dead on the ground. Cinda began to cry feeling a terrible guilt. Raven went over to her. “I’m sorry.” She sobbed. “I didn’t mean to kill it. I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t help it. I wanted the blood so bad.”

“It’s all right.” Raven said putting his arms around Cinda. “It’s all right. You can’t help it. I know how it feels. You can’t help it.” He said trying to calm her down. “I know it hurts. I feel terrible because it is they that I kill to feed my blood lust. But it is something I must do. You will understand as time goes on. You never get used to it without the guilt. I know. I’ve done it half my adult life, and I have yet to make a kill without feeling like a monster. But you are luckier than I am. You have never tasted human blood. I have. You do not have to worry about craving the life of mortals. I must fight it all my life now. I pray that never happens to you.”

Cinda dried her eyes and tried to go to sleep. Darshon trotted over to her and snuggled up beside her. “Keep her company boy. She needs as much company as I do. If I ever get my hands on the bloodsucker that slept with her mother, I’ll see to it that he never sleeps with any other woman ever again. I understand why I am the way I am. I was chosen for a purpose, but she is completely innocent. No one deserves to live like this.” Raven said to himself as he watched Cinda drift off to sleep.

**to be cont**

Chapter 6