Nika needed an escape, and that was precisely what the Rogue Minister provided.
Music sent vibrations through the earth, traveling along every nerve and stirring her eardrums with glee. As she entered the pulsing, neon nightclub, with Viktor leading her onward, the scents of blood and liquor filled her nose.
When they reached the main floor, Nika stepped around Viktor and soaked everything up. In front of her, two young men clung to each other, their bodies moving in unity with the music. Then one conjured fangs and bit the other's neck, sucking his blood.
Nika blinked, stunned at the sight. He must have been malnourished.
All Daemonstri drank blood, but Serafi and Inferni were the only two races that consumed it for sustenance. And if they didn't get enough each day, it would lead to starvation and potentially death.
When she was little, Nika had curiously observed blood consumption among the Lazarov family. Lu's mother sometimes purchased it from a grocer, and everyone drank a daily glass, apart from Nika.
These days, however, Lu preferred taking large blood pills every few hours. Nika prayed that her captors were maintaining her health.
She forced herself to look away as the couple grew more heated, only for her eyes to land on a woman sitting in a lounge, surrounded by men who fed from her wrists, neck, and legs.
Similar displays could be seen all around the room.
"Oh my Oldbloods," Nika murmured.
This behavior was so unlike what she typically observed in Serafi. In fact, it was more like that of Inferni.
The Inferni race truly indulged in their inner monster. It was their nature to consume more than the rest of Daemonstri-kind, and as such, their lust for it was violent and ungovernable.
They spent their time in the outside world, hunting any living creature they found. Nika imagined their entire lives revolved around that possessive hunger to drain a victim and devour its organs.
Nefili and Volkari were different, though. They consumed blood merely to enhance the immune system and accelerate healing. Keepers sometimes made use of blood-filled capsules, as the career often led to broken bones and bruises.
But never before had Nika witnessed the bloodcraft in the way people practiced it here. What kind of nightclub had Viktor taken her to?
"Is this a feeding den?" she hissed as he ordered drinks from a bartender.
Viktor laughed. "No! Feeding dens take blood slaves without consent. Do these people look like they're here against their will?"
After a quick assessment, she had to admit the opposite. They were having fun.
Viktor shoved a shot glass into her hand, and Nika threw it back without hesitation. Anything to soothe her bewilderment.
It did little to stop her nose, however. Blood, blood, blood—it was all she smelled. Everyone was either biting or being bitten.
Her shock didn't go unnoticed by Viktor, who said, "Try not to look so horrified. You might offend someone."
"That's one way to put it," she muttered, wondering how has this place hadn't been shut down.
When it came to blood, things were always complex. In the cloistered supernatural community, speaking about the bloodcraft in public was the worst of taboos. Everyone did it, and everyone knew that it was a central part of Daemonstri life, but it possessed as much glamour as a trip to the toilet.
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Blood War (Halfblood Chronicles, #1)Paranormal
Alienated by her supernatural community for having "tainted" blood, defiant 17-year-old Nika has one thing to lose---her best friend Lu. So when vengeful shapeshifters kidnap Lu, even the government can't stop Nika from hunting them down. But the ob...