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Chapter 01 Battle of the Half Kind

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Dedicated to all my friends and readers who still love fairy tales and know you will never be too old to love them.

And to my husband who challenged me to write something like Twilight. I know this isn't like Twilight except for the fact that it has vampires and werewolves. But this is the best I could do. Maybe in another book.

Lightning cracked the sky in a blinding blaze of purple and azure glory. Rain poured from the blackened clouds, and the air smelled of death. Harpies and sirens snarled and hissed, flying through the air in a desperate attempt to turn back the vampire forces that closed in on the center of the Sixth Lunar Realm.

Ishtar looked into the sky, his long black hair streaking across his face. Sweat and blood mixed with the rain. The heaviness of defeat made the pain from his wounds all the stronger. Hours of fighting had left him drained and weary.

All around him his warriors fought the vampires. Fauns and satyrs attacked with arrows, slings, and darts. The mermaids, mermen, krathos, and oyanagi sprang up from beneath the cresting waves and currents within the tumultuous river to hurl javelins of shell and jagged river glass. Harpies, sirens, gryphons, and more defended what they could of the skies, dropping boulders and tearing at their enemies faces. And the centaurs and minotaurs...in Ishtar's opinion, they fought bravest of all. They fought with swords and daggers, and when those failed, they fought hand to hand. Had it been any other night they might have stood a chance. But no moon shown, and the vampires were at their strongest. Monrule, the famed and infamous king of the vampires, had not even made his appearance with his elite guard. Years of warfare and a strong instinct told Ishtar that he himself would not survive the night. He felt it in his bones.

All around his people fought. Ishtar lifted his broad double edged sword and brought it down on a young vampire's neck. In battle form, the vampire looked more like a monstrous predator than a human, its jaws spread out, and its teeth extended and jagged like the viper fish. Ishtar beat another vampire back, running it through with his sword. He moved now only on instinct. The battle was lost. And if he did not act swiftly, he would lose far more.

Yet fate was not in quite so cruel a mood. As he lifted his eyes, Ishtar caught sight of his son, Ekuru. The young centaur prince fought with ferocity befitting one of his station.

In that moment, pride flared within Ishtar's chest. A lump formed in his throat. "Guard my back," he commanded his nearest guardians. Running forward, he drove his blade through the vampire swordsman and seized Ekuru by the shoulder.

"Father!" Ekuru looked at him with shock and anger. "Why did you deny me my kill?"

The three guardian centaurs fought off the vampires as they attacked again, this time on foot. Ishtar turned from the fight and grasped his son's face. "The battle will not end in our favor this night. I know this. Take your comrades and go. Return and avenge me."

Ekuru's brown eyes darkened. He jerked back, glaring at his father. "I will not abandon you! They will —"

"If we succeed, then return, and I will grant you many opportunities to regain your honor. But if we fail...then you must not be present or else Monrule will split your heart as well. You must go. Now before the elite arrive. You take our line with you. Our hope. Our honor. Go to the fae and warn them of the vampires' conquest. Monrule will surely turn upon them on the next moonless night, and if he gains the Peace Bringer, then all is truly lost." He removed a corroded silver medallion from the woven pouch at his side and pressed it into Ekuru's hand. "There's enough for five to escape the line."

For a moment, Ekuru hesitated, but he grasped Ishtar's hand instead. The anger mellowed into determination though his mouth trembled when he spoke. "You are stronger than a thousand vampires, Father," he said. "I will see you again."

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