Calponia's day continued its spiral from bad to worse after her boss bit the big one.
Self-preservation overruled her shock the moment Mack hit the ground. She bolted back the way they'd come, refusing to look back at what chased her down. She didn't need to look back. This was Sanguinheim, Eugene's realm, home of the blood suckers. There might have been a slim chance of escape if she could find the damn door. Calponia would take the creepy endless fog over a bleeding forest full of vampires any day. Unfortunately, the hole they'd entered this realm through had vanished. The ground sucked at her feet with each step, slowing her down.
There was nowhere to go. Wanting to save her energy for other useful pursuits, she stopped running and let her muscles go slack. Not a moment too soon as one of her pursuers slammed into her. If he caught her mid-run he might have broken her in half. As it was, Calponia cried out, flung face first into the muck with a vampire on top. Not the ideal position to be in. He brusquely flipped her over, examining her with perplexed black eyes. Least they weren't flashing red, then she'd know shit had really hit the fan. From her prostrate angle, he seemed fairly tall, in a crisp black uniform with crimson trim. How appropriate. His nose wrinkled as he leaned in, inhaling her scent.
"Human?" To her surprise, the vampire's touch eased up as he slid two gloved fingers under her chin. "A little morsel all the way out here," he murmured, lifting a brow as he took in her oversized and frayed garb. "Where did you come from?"
Calponia said nothing. What was there to say? Hello, my boss and I decided to have a poke in your dimension? You know the guy you just put a javelin through. His examination of her remained clinical, right up until he pulled her to her feet and threw her over his shoulder.
"Wait, whaaaaa—" Calponia's scream was swallowed up by the dripping trees as the vampire hauled her back to the group like a wet sack of sand. So fast the forest blurred around them. She clenched her jaw and squeezed her eyelids tight to keep whatever meager bits of food were left in her stomach down. Calponia had a feeling the vampire would not appreciate her being sick down his back. She wobbled when he dropped her to her feet. Back to Mack. Her eyes widened as she took in the sight of her skewered boss once again, the image of death seared into her brain.
This wasn't her first dead body. Hell she'd had to identify the remains of her parents, a far grislier affair in comparison, but Mack was the first man she'd seen die. Her mouth filled with saliva. She killed him. He'd taken her in, given her a job, even leeched her misfortunate off her. He'd siphoned her curse away and gotten killed because of it.
Calponia's lips trembled. She might have dissolved into a full on cry if she wasn't surrounded by vampires in smart black and red uniforms. The circle parted to admit a massive brute who towered a good foot over her. He had a face hewn from rock, all crags and sheer planes. He appraised her as the one who caught her leaned over Mack's prone body.
"What's a blood bag doing all the way out here?" He literally rumbled. He must subsist on a diet of gravel and rock salt. Calponia looked up, startled by his mismatched eyes. One was a normal brown, a dark contrast to his other eye, solid red, as if flooded with blood.
"Don't think she's from around her Captain, look at her garb. Must be a drop in from the Other Realms," her captor spoke up, pinching her sleeve for emphasis as he spoke. Calponia grit her teeth to keep from cringing at his touch. The scary bastard of a Captain shrugged, dismissing her.
"What do you make of this one?" He nodded to Mack's body, hooking his thumbs into his belt loops. His stance was all casual but the man bristled with concealed weapons. Calponia swallowed and hope they forgot about her.
"Well, he's not connected to the mess over there," said the vampire kneeling at Mack's side. "Smells a bit like a brewery though. That scent is all over him. And something else." The vampire frowned, inhaling deep. "He smells...Touched."
The captain stroked his outcrop of a chin. "Touched? Not many of them wandering around these parts. Write the report, maybe the upper brass know what his sort are doing in these parts."
Trying to help you stupid sods. Calponia kept her mouth shut through the exchange, memorizing their faces as she tried to looked anywhere but Mack. Difficult to do when the the spear stood upright like the mast of a sinking ship.
"What shall we do with this one?"
Dammit! Calponia shrieked inside her head as her captor thrust her forward like a prize steak.
"Least we have a snack for the road."
It felt like a bucket of ice water had overturned on her head, leaving her cold and shivering. She was so boned. Would mentioning Eugene help or hinder her here? What did she have to lose? "Please take me to see the vampire, Eugene."
The Captain grabbed her chin in a bruising grip, forcing her to look into his baleful mismatched eyes. "What did you say, pet?"
She shuddered in his grip, reacting viscerally to the cool touch of his fingers. Eugene once told her his vampirism was an injection, dark science over mystical buggery. She could believe the Captain was a product of the latter. "Take me to the vampire Eugene," she said, her voice wavering.
The surrounding vampires burst out laughing. The captain roared right along with them, gripping her chin in his painful grip. Oh, good, because laughter was always a good sign. Calponia dug her nails into her palm. Her fate as a bloodless husk was becoming more and more likely. She hoped the bète noir gave them food poisoning.
"Little bit, no soldier worth his boots would use that name," said the Captain, releasing her chin. The bone deep ache in her jaw was nothing compared to the panic of realizing the Eugene she knew didn't exist. Was it a fake name? Did it matter? She was about to vamp chow. She started trembling so bad she would have collapsed without the vampire holding her up. Time to play her last card.
"I'm cursed," she said, swallowing hard at the Captain's stare.
"Is that so?" Calponia gasped as he seized her hand, bringing it up to his lips. She didn't even see his teeth, it happened so fast, but she felt the pain. She squeaked as he licked the drop of blood from her fingertip. The reaction was immediate. The Captain gagged and spat the blood to the ground. Smoke curled off of it. "Kerchief, quickly!" He snapped. The soldiers couldn't offer him one fast enough. The Captain grabbed the first available and hastily bound her wound. His blade like features were unreadable as he tied her off.
"I'm taking this one to Central. The intelligence office might have a use for her." The Captain swept her off her feet, hauling her over his shoulder in the same sack of potatoes style as the first one before Calponia could utter a word of protest. 'Intelligence office' had a certain ominous ring to it. She had serious doubts it was an improvement for her current situation. The Captain fired off a few final orders before he took off on foot. Calponia braced herself for another wretched journey, keeping her eyes on the group soldiers surrounding her fallen boss until they blended into the surrounding forest. It was unpleasant death, but at least her former boss was beyond the reach of whatever the intelligence office had in store for her.
Bully for him.
YOU ARE READING
***Winner of the Wattys 2016 for Hidden Gems*** The Edgewise exists everywhere and nowhere. A sanctuary to all realms, should you find the door. Managed by one Macklemore Edgewise, proprietor, guardian of the between places, and barman of mystery...