Calvin had refused to stay back at Olia Meadows when Asa announced they would be going into battle. He was sure she was worried about him being killed like Michael, but it was one of the reasons he was also determined to fight away from her. They did not need to provide distractions to each other. Calvin entered the city with several other vampires, a couple demons and two wolves. He directed all of the others to part into pairs and take the fight to the humans, before heading in a different direction himself.
It didn’t take long before he came up upon a small group of human soldiers. It didn’t take long for him to dispatch all of them. He continued on, blood dripping down his chin without a care for his appearance. He heard commotion ahead, and he ran towards it, reaching it in little under a minute, though it was near a mile away. He spotted a somewhat familiar shape among a large group of human soldiers. He couldn’t get a good scent on him with so many others around, but as he saw a man draw a blade and plunge a blade into the figure’s back, he caught a good whiff on the blood.
He remembered the hybrid clearly, though they had only met once. He remembered the intense attraction between them, and he gritted his teeth as he took in the scent of the blood. He ran forward, and yanked the human away from Zayden, breaking his neck in the process.
Zayden had been ambushed by many guards at once, with at least ten men bearing down on him he thought he would be in serious danger. He had managed to take a few out but was still struggling under the pressure of so many men. He was giving everything he had not to shift but the urge was so compelling his muscles clenched with the pain of it. He could feel his muscles tighten to stone like strength and he used his anger to fight each human guard as he came upon them. One man ripped right off him and the sound of a horrible cracking was heard, causing Zayden to glance over his shoulder. It was the vampire from the woods! Zayden felt his body relax ever so slightly but the lack of attention on his battle cost him greatly. He felt a knife slice it’s way into his side, just under his Ribs.
Zayden couldn’t hold himself together anymore, his anger surged and like a wet ripping his muscles gave away to a new form. He was a wolf in a matter of seconds. He growled loudly as his body took on the last of the change and he snapped at the man who had stabbed him. He felt his throat under his teeth and gave a quick jerk of his head, ripping the man’s skull from his body with one quick movement. He felt his blood get all over his muzzle and quickly dropped his head. Zayden moved on to the next guy, quickly ripping into his chest and arm, hearing his ribs crack under his massive paws as if he were stepping on Autumn leaves. There were two more men to go and Calvin seemed to be dealing with one of them quite easily.
The man who charged Zayden managed to get a quick stab in Zayden’s shoulder with his sword, infuriating Zayden and earning a loud howl of protest. Zayden turned on him and ripped into him with all of his fury. He took off his arm with quick skill and spat it on the ground. Zayden’s mouth was filled with blood and it dripped from his muzzle. He gave a smile and finished off the last guard, quickly phasing back to human, but now he stood naked and covered in blood, looking at the bodies around him. If Calvin hadn’t been there, he’d have been stabbed more than twice.
Zayden donned a huge smirk and turned to Calvin, nodding his head at the man. He flinched hard with the movement and yanked the knife out of his side, giving a loud noise of protest. “You have impeccable timing, vampire. Thank you for saving my ass. It’s nice when you aren’t trying to kill me because I smell like food. I don’t think I ever told you my name, by the way. I’m Zayden.” Zayden stuck out his bloddied hand and smiled, it was good to see a friendly face.
She felt relief as Zayden answered her question before it left her lips. Although she knew that of Zayden had been looking for her, she certainly wouldn’t have made it for six weeks without being found. He could track her down within hours, days at the most if she got a good head start.
She grasped his enormous hand in both of hers and tugged at him, speaking in a rush, trying to tell him everything at once. “Come sit and talk with me. I’ve missed you so. Papa has been insufferable and of course you know how Jarrid is. I swear, I don’t think he’s had an original thought in his life and he’s impossible to talk to, especially about Mother. Papa encourages his closed-mindedness and honestly, that’s no way to run a kingdom. It may be treasonous to say, but I don’t know if Papa has any business governing the supernaturals. We can’t possibly understand them or their ways of life and it’s vanity to think that we could. They should rule themselves, and we should form some sort of treaty that regulates what they do, and what we do in return. Senseless killing has never solved anything. But anytime I try to talk to Papa about it, he pats me on the head and tells me that politics aren’t a fit occupation for a lady. I’ve tried to trick Jarrid into talking to him about it but he’s far too clever to fall for that.” She linked her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder. “They both think I’m useless, Zayden. Sometimes I wonder if it would be like that if Mother hadn’t left. Maybe she would have sided with me. They want me to be sweet and innocent and never question them. Can you believe Jarrid had the gall to suggest-“
She realized that she had been talking steadily for several minutes and clamped a hand over her mouth. “I’m so sorry, listen to me rambling like a scullery maid. I don’t have many friends at the castle, you know. Or anywhere, I suppose,” she said sullenly. “Papa keeps me locked away like a felon.”
Zayden gave a small smile down at Bethory. It had never occurred to him until right then how much he wanted a child. Bethory was one of the two girls he considered his children. He always felt such a strong urge to protect her, so what he was about to do was just to make her smile. “You are not useless, my darling. You are so resourceful and you are very much built to rule. Your brother is only in love with the idea of power and he wouldn’t know what to do with it if it bit him in the ass. I love your brother very much, watching him grow up but he has his eye on the throne only to spite you.”
Zayden gave a big smile at her and reached around his side and into the small pouch he kept looped on his belt. He opened it quickly and summoned a key that was quite small and brass. :Listen, you know my house outside of Brailston, the big stone one? This is the key to it. If you need a place to hide no one will look for you there. It’s yours now. You can do with it as you please. I want you to have a safe place to hide where I can occasionally find you. Please stay safe, Bethory. I have a feeling staying in this town much longer will be dangerous so if things get bad here, I want you to run there and I will be along as soon as possible.”
Zayden’s heart hurt as he looked down at Bethory, he moved his hands to cradle her face as he kissed her forehead. “Kitten, you were like the daughter I never had and you hold such a big place in my heart.” Zayden looked into her eyes and noticed how much hurt she held there. He could see the flashes of pain in the beautiful colors of her irises. She was so broken apart on the inside and he didn’t know how to fight those demons for her.
Wisteria Scoher was nine years of age and had more in common with a caged bird than a child. While other children spent more time exploring meadows and wandering around, the only time she ever got close to adventure was when she imagined one in her head. Her closest companions, besides her cousin, were her dolls which, while very well made, didn’t bring her the satisfaction of true friendship. Dolls couldn’t braid her hair, nor talk to her nor suggest fun games to play. They were pretty but useless and sometimes she felt like throwing them against her bedroom wall. She didn’t do that of course, imagining how much they had cost and knowing that her father wouldn’t buy her any new ones if she did.
Winny held one close to her chest, listening to the voices that came from behind the wall. Good little girls didn’t spy on their parents, and already she felt awfully guilty, but still she waited until she heard the sound of sheets moving. Though she was well behaved, the need to go outside had been building over the past few weeks, until she couldn’t take it anymore. She’d heard about some kind of gardens, said to possess ethereal beauty. She needed to see them, just once. And thus, she waited until it grew quiet. Her father had blown out the candle, she knew, and it wouldn’t take long for them to fall asleep. They were sound sleepers, not at all like their daughter who often lied awake for hours, completely out of own choice as she enjoyed the quiet.
Her room was located directly beneath the roof. On rainy days she often lied on her bed and listened to the ticking sounds of raindrops falling down. Her chamber was small, but it hers and that was what counted. Filled with dolls and other toys, anything to entertain her enough during the day. Anything that would make her forget that she wasn’t allowed to play outside. The wooden floor creaked when she set one bare foot on it, so she stopped and listened for a noise. She heard none. As quickly as she dared, she got dressed. Winny held the doll close to her while she tiptoed to the window. It was waxing moon, and when she looked down the streets were empty. With shaking fingers she opened it and climbed on the ledge.
Just before she hit the ground she stopped her fall, her small feet dangling a few inches above the cobblestones. As nice as it was to float, she sadly couldn’t do that the entire night. She had places to explore, and needed to be back before dawn.
The little girl started running, confident that she’d find the gardens on pure instinct.
Zayden had been on his usual guard duty and was patrolling the streets that night when he saw her. She was little and delicate looking as she climbed out of her window, her hands gripping the windowsil tightly as she steadied herself. Zayden watched her determined face and waited to see what she would do. He could run to catch her in the second it would take her to hit the ground if she fell. Zayden watched her jump from the window. He smiled at her gleeful face as she fell, she was free. Zayden could always tell what that look meant because he wore it when he finally got to shift away into the woods.When she didn’t hit the ground but instead floated above it for a few moments, Zayden knew she was very special. She had a gift. Zayden took slow steps towards her to watch her lightly place herself on the ground. She began to run so he silently followed her, letting his quick footfalls hit the ground silently.
Zayden had followed her all the way to the edge of town, making sure that she would be unharmed. When he finally decided he couldn’t keep her safe from his distance, he picked up his light pace and in no time had run ahead of her and cut her off. “Stop in the name of the Athorian Guard.” He spoke evenly, his posture welcoming. Before she could take another step, he let himself drop to one knee and gesture for her to come to him. “Come here, little angel, I will not hurt you.” Zayden thought maybe she wouldn’t come to him. He was rather large and knew that he could be intimidating. He sensed no fear from her, however. It was like she knew he would be there, almost expecting it.
Bethory was having a wonderful evening. She was a little tipsy off wine for the first time in her life, and she was having an animated conversation about knights with a girl she had been sharing the bottle with.
She was in the middle of saying something when she realized her companion was looking behind her with a stunned look on her face.
Then she felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around, expecting the entire Knights Order to be standing behind her. Instead, it was a massively tall and muscular man with distinct golden brown eyes.
He smiled, not unkindly. “Hello, Kitten.”
“Zayden!” her voice rang out like a bell. She was so shocked and relieved to see a familiar face that she entirely forgot herself and threw her arms around his waist, burying her face in his shirt. “Zayden, it’s been so awful, where did you go, Papa has been so strange lately, my brother-“
She cut herself off sharply, suddenly realizing that she was saying far too much.
She stepped back quickly and cleared her throat delicately. “Zayden. How lovely to see you after all this time.” She glanced around but no one seemed to have noticed anything amiss. She moved closer and touched his arm lightly, looking up at him abashedly. “Are you taking care of yourself?”
Zayden wrapped his arms around Bethory as soon as she had hugged him. He had missed her quite terribly in the last six months since he had been to the castle. Zayden loved Bethory as if she were his own flesh and blood and smiled softly down at her. She was trying to save face and be the princess she was trained to be. She looked so much more healthy than he had ever seen her, she seemed to glow so brightly even in the dark night. In the castle he had never seen her smile like this, just a faint memory of what this one was.
Zayden reached out and ran a thumb over her cheek and cradled her face in his hand. “Oh, Kitten, you look so happy and well.” Zayden dropped his hand and smiled brightly down at her, giving a half shrug. “I have been fine, I take care of myself always, darling.” Zayden wanted to hug her again, he could weep right here, even in front of all of these people. He knew what her being here without escort had meant. She had run away from the castle, which meant even with all of his effort to talk her into staying, she had still been fighting with her father. It used to be Zayden’s job to always locate her and bring her back to the castle and she would usually accompany him without a fight.
Zayden shook his head as if to reassure her. “Oh and before you ask like you always do. Your father didn’t send me so I don’t have a message from him.” When Zayden had been sent the last few times it was with parchment or verbal message to pass along to Bethory begging her to come home where she would be safe. Zayden looked a little pained as he imagined how worried the king must be, but how he did not care one bit how the king felt. It was unusual for Zayden to despise a man he used to love, but the king had started this war. He was going to fight in it.
Tesha bit her tongue as he talked, watching with narrowed eyes gesturing at her obvious distaste for his hostile reply. Her folded arms held fists now as the man spoke ill towards her. She didn’t appreciate his venomous attitude, a temper that was deserved still was not useful to her. The more he talked, the more this look of riled up shock aged along her features. Fucking men. They were all the same! Any ounce of challenge and their dicks hardened at the chance to fight back — even when it was unnecessary. Why, she was only joking. Not completely, but her sarcasm surely was there!
“Now, are you going to open your maw again and continue to be rude? If you would like I can give you well enough reason the think me a deviant.”
Her black eyes rolled at him as he reached down to pick up the still unconscious drunk. The Demoness was not so much threatened as she was bothered by his sudden outburst. Shifting, did he say? That made him a Wolf too, right? Yuck. “Oh, I was only poking fun!” Her legs moved swiftly to catch up with him as the prospects of gold began to just wander away. “We are in a war, and so I have to keep on guard! I’m a lady, you know. It’s not safe around here for me, so mind me if I’m wary of you, you big baby!” Playing the innocent female always seemed to get what she wanted; although the role itself always came off completely fake. “Don’t you just leave me here! Where are you going?”
As Tesha continued to catch up, whining as she did, she could not help but giggle at her own ridiculously childish behavior. “Who wanted him, anyway?” Her lengthy finger pointed towards the shouldered male whose head continued to bob. Up and down, up and down — going with the rhythm. “What would they want with a new Wolf? Aren’t they rather useless? Isn’t that how that works?”
Zayden laughed out loud at her innocent act, she was quite funny. He turned still holding the male over his shoulder after her question and looked her in the eyes, knowing just how dangerous that was. He stepped close to her, his eyes alight with amusement and challenge. “Listen, darling, you see this? I know what this does. I know all you have to do to take someone’s life is look them in the eyes and take a deep breath. Quit acting like you are defenseless against anyone, I don’t play these games with anyone.”
Zayden took a step back but didn’t pull his eyes from hers. He wasn’t scared of her in the least bit. “New werewolves aren’t useless but the person I am bringing him to wants to take his life because he ran up a debt to his family. I came out and got him because I need to take work where I can in a time of war.” Zayden turned once more away from her and smiled broadly, he had not played into her game of damsel in distress, no matter how convincing she almost was.
As he walked on for another fifty feet, Zayden turned down a small path between high hedges and dropped the male once more off his shoulder but this time in a chair on the porch of a small house. He knocked on the door quickly and waited for someone to answer. Zayden knew that a vampire would answer the door, he just hoped it would be the ever silent Yuri and not his sister Lauri who was smitten with Zayden and refused to let him leave before an hour long conversation where she tried to impress him. Zayden looked over his shoulder at the red haired woman and gave her a very impish smirk. He hoped she wasn’t scared of vampires.
Her body stretched to its full length, torso reaching towards the heavens as the meaty Demoness watched him lift the unconscious lunatic over his shoulder. She followed the odd man as his words began to spin around her. Something about gold, was it? It peaked her interest, although mortal values were never ones that matched her own. But, during a war surely gold could be of use. It beat having to murder endless beings each time she needed supplies, or food. It could make her lone existence that much more easy, wouldn’t it? She lingered behind him, walking in step only two paces back. The head of the man atop of him dangled as the tall being’s footsteps clacked against the stone ground. Her dark eyes, black as the night itself, stared at the cranium of the passed out male as it bobbed with the rhythm. A pleased look surfaced to her features. They contorted in the strange light of the moon. Collecting half of the gold for simply knocking this idiot out? Why the hell not?
Though she didn’t want to argue over the offer, she questioned why he would place the gift of gold to her at all — a complete stranger. The question itched below the surface of her thoughts, agonizingly forcing her to pay attention to it. She watched with intent as his shoulders moved peculiarly, a swagger in his stepping that was not produced by other mortals she had ever seen. He walked differently than them, primal forces seeming to drive his very feet along the ground. Interesting. A spark of intrigue was all Tesha usually needed to find a way to manipulate those around her, and if this one could give her coins so fondly then why should she let that talent go to waste? A smirk grew along her red lips, sinister with ideas of how she could exploit him for her benefit. A tall, strong human that knew how to sweat gold out from others. Indeed, he could come in handy. Oh, but there she was, chomping at the bit to find her leg up as always. Typical brat.
Tesha pouted, folding her arms in front of her in annoyance, as what seemed to be a common emotion in her nowadays. “Why would you give me half your earnings? You don’t know me, and I hardly did anything more than stop that filth from escaping. Not much, if you ask me.” A chuckle fell from her mouth, uncontrollably. “Are you one of those rare nice little boys who drool at the chance to prove themselves worthy of a woman’s time by offering gifts? Chivalry, is it?” Silence fell as she stopped walking and laughed a bit louder. “You’re barking up the wrong tree if that’s what this is!” Almost teasingly, Tesha held up her hand to her mouth and continued this haughty giddiness. Although she was not entirely seriously, it was rare for anyone to just be kind for kind’s sake, especially with the recent goings on’s. It was unsettling.
Zayden gave a slight snarl at her accusations, turning to look her in the eye when they were a ways down the road. “Listen, you want to know why I am so willing to give you a reward?” Zayden punctuated his question by tossing the male at her feet, letting his body drop limp to the ground with a loud thud. “This? this is a new werewolf. He has yet to make his first change but he’s close, which means he’s fast on his feet even in his human form. He was going to run from me and it would have taken real effort for me to catch him without shifting and risking being seen doing so.”
Zayden gestured around them at the few torn down buildings and the destruction to the ones that were still standing.”We are in a fucking war and you probably saved my life inadvertently, so you deserve the money for disabling him. Now, are you going to open your maw again and continue to be rude? If you would like I can give you well enough reason the think me a deviant.” Zayden scooped up the male from the ground, feeling as if he had made his point. He didn’t wait for her to respond. He didn’t care what she had to say at all. The way Zayden saw it she did him a huge favor and he didn’t appreciate her implying he used money to get women. Zayden had too much class for that. He won women and men over with his suave nature. He did not require gold to impress anyone.
Zayden had been staying close to the festivities of Beltane the last few days. It was unlike him to seek the company of people in this time but he seemed to be calmed by the festivities and active joy surrounding him. It was a time of war but as always in Athoria, there was no stopping celebrations. Beltane was always Zayden’s favorite time of year because he could go into the woods and shift and hunt all night long. He would chase foxes and deer until his paws hurt from the effort. The thought of running in his wolf skin brought a frown to his face, his eyes focused on the bonfire but not really seeing it. He longed so bad for the change and it was as if he couldn’t be himself anymore.
Zayden was snapped out of his reverie however when he thought he saw a familiar face. He glanced over to the woman that had caught his eye, her hair long and beautiful down her back. What was she doing here? She had changed so much in the last year since he had been away from the castle, she looked almost as a new person. Zayden walked over to her quietly, she had been chatting away with another woman when he tapped her on the shoulder expectantly. Standing behind her he could see the look on the smaller woman’s face in front of her. Zayden was a big tall guy so he knew he could be intimidating but this woman looked like she would scream at the sight of Zayden. She seemed scared of everything he was so he flashed her a smile, which only seemed to make it worse.
When Bethory had turned around, Zayden gave a small wave and widened his smile even more. “Hello, kitten.” Zayden had always called her kitten since she was about two years old. He had been a close ally to the king, in and out of the castle her whole life. He knew that Bethory knew what he was to the king and he idly wondered if for a second she detested his job.
I have been contemplating my goals recently and it seems I am no longer the man I once was. I used to be a man who cared about nothing more than my country but I see that love faded in this time of war. The King has lost his mind in fear and hate and I fear I am no better a man. I walked away from the woman I love no more than two weeks ago because I had not liked what she had become in my absence. She is no longer herself just a puppet for Markus the lord of Seryth. She is his toy on a string and she doesn’t see that she can do better. I hope she one day realizes that she is better than some demon cult, better than being second rate to a man who reeks of hidden weakness.
My life has become something I no longer have a firm grip on, I am grasping at rope. I have not been able to shift into my wolf form since I have come back to Athoria, there are always human guards who seem to be around looking for people like me. I suspect it is only a matter of time before I lose myself and hurt someone when the change comes on suddenly. I can feel myself growing stronger by the day, filled with hate and anger. I feel tense as if my muscles are constantly ready to leap at any moment. I am starting to embrace the war, killing any who step in my way and enjoying their blood on my hands.
What a monster I have become.
The night was not shaping up into what she had imagined it to be. After making her way from the north of Leeds where Markus had held his makeshift meeting — as if his words still held any authority anymore — she had known with haste that she had to devise a plan. Coming up with what to do next, how to make herself a staple in the eyes of her people, weighed on her conscious. If the leader of Seryth thought he was going to successfully diminish the reputation of his kind, he had another thing coming. She just needed to find a way to cut him off, a way to prove that the might of the Demons was being belittled for the sake of some bratty, wannabe king. There was only one true Lord, and his kingdom laid not on the plains of Earth. It was high time the Demons knew that the will of Lucifer was all but being done anymore. Convincing needed to be done, but where to begin?
Bare legs, only covered to the calf in leather boots, walked in their classic rhythm. The heels of the large pirate-fashioned boots she adorned clicked against the cobblestone as she found herself wandering about yet another city, lost utterly in her head. Weeks prior, being out in the open might have meant risking death for Tesha, but with a replenishment in her life force she was more than inclined to show her newfound strength off. Cocky thing she was. As her eyes looked up and her head gained its usual position held high, she saw the dim flickering lights coming from a worn building. Among the wreckage — no doubt evidence of mortals making way with their rioting — it stood out like a gem against the ashes.
She strolled over curiously, hoping to find maybe a straggler or two within that she could use for more power. Maybe even find some supplies. As she got closer, a small sign against the door proclaimed it to be a tavern. Absurd it was to imagine a place still begin open during a fucking war, but she had seen plenty of strange things going on already. What was one more? Lunatics.
Tesha pushed the rickety doors of what might have been one of the only stable taverns still in business open, but as she did the sour sight of a drunkard barreling towards her caught her momentarily off guard. A shouting came her way; some drowning words of warning to get out of the way. Confused and annoyed, Tesha grabbed the pub dweller as he bumped into her, shoving him forward. He staggered backwards with ease, tumbling over himself before falling to the floor. The Demoness hissed, looming over him, boring holes into his eyes with her own. “Down,” she commanded in a hushed tone. Entranced, the man cowered back, still as a board.
“To whom does this fucking bug belong to?” She spoke louder now, addressing the small amounts of people crowding the tavern. “Well?”
Zayden had watched her flawless execution of disabling the man and he could smell the demon on her before he stepped close enough to speak to her. She looked up at him and he could see her dark eyes and then he was greeted by the smell of burning leaves. She was a powerful demoness and Zayden’s skin got a wave of goosebumps under her gaze He smirked wide at the demoness and quickly punched the man in the side of the head, knocking him unconscious. “That is mine, m’day.” He knew that he had not killed the man but he would be out cold for hours. Zayden looked at the woman and nodded once, a smile on his face. His teeth gleamed at her in their straight flawless white way. He liked her style, she had a bad ass aura around her that said “Don’t mess with me.”
In the last two weeks Zayden had come every night to Thirst waiting for Twigg to show his face and make it weasy for him to make the gold off the small man. Twigg’s last name fit him aptly he was a long and lanky man who had beady dark eyes and walked as if he were made of rusty iron. Zayden lifted the man over his shoulder and looked over to Tesha. “I like your style, woman. If you want to split the money I am going to get for bringing his bounty in, follow me. It’s 200 gold for you, or you can stay here in Thirst and surround yourself with lesser beings.”
He somehow knew that she would follow for that offer of serious gold in her favor. Zayden had noticed her flawless form and he could smell the power rolling off her in waves just waiting to be unlocked. She had a certain charisma about her that made Zayden want to keep her safe. Zayden chuckled to himself as he turned from her, walking out of the door. It seemed he had grown quite a soft spot for demons now, and the pang of hate for Adarna boiled under his skin. He knew this red haired female was different, though. She wouldn’t hide her true goals and feelings from him like the soulless wench that was Adarna.