This publication is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
Copyright © 2013 by Tasha D-Drake
Cover art by Natasha Duncan-Drake
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This story was originally published as part of the Vampire Bite Blog hop and has been re-edited for distribution in eBook format. If you would like to follow my blog for free fiction as it is published you can subscribe via email, Blogger or G+ here:
Karon moved his horse carefully along the road, stepping around the piles of overgrown debris here and there. There was the faint smell of decay in the air and there was definitely stagnant water somewhere among the skeletons of long dead buildings. It was hard to believe that the looming, crumbling structures had once housed thousands of people. They were nothing but carcasses of a deceased civilisation now, looking down with empty windows on a forgotten city.
The stories had fascinated Karon once. As a child he had sat on his grandfather's knee and listened to tales of the time before the demons, his eyes open in wonder. He tried to imagine what it must have been like with straight roads filled with vehicles, the signs of humans everywhere. It was hard. Karon had been to the city of the king, but it was nothing like this ancient one and the two images would not come together in his mind.
The horde had come and almost wiped humanity off the face of the earth. The remains around him belonged to another time, another existence and he put aside his useless wonderings as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye.
It looked like a child, a small girl of no more than about seven, but it wasn't. Karon could sense the otherness about it and he knew it for what it was. The demons had been fought back as powers awoke in humans that had been suppressed so long they had been remembered only as legends, but some of the invaders still remained. The world was one of demon and human now, because once the gates had been opened they could never be closed.
Karon brought his horse to a stop and he and the creature simply looked at each other. His face was hidden deep in the hood of his cloak, but he knew the demon could see him; such scavengers had keen eyesight. It, demons were rarely male or female, sniffed the air, scenting him.
"You pass well as a human," the demon eventually said.
"So do you," Karon lied; the creature would fall prey to the first human witch who saw it, but then witches didn't tend to visit the old cities.
"What are you?" the demon asked.
"Vampire," he replied, "at least that is the part I choose to acknowledge here."
"Ah," the demon bobbed its head, "you have human in you, that explains it. You are lucky not to have been attacked; your disguise it too good. Why do you hide behind the human facade?"
"You never know where their hunters might be," he said, "and I can easily re-educate any of our kin that might mistake me."
He let the demon traits that lived under his skin surface just for a moment, showing fangs and the purple eyes that marked him as a halfbreed. Vampires were some of the strongest demons of the horde and the lesser creature drew back a little at his warning.
"I meant no insult," it said quickly. "Are you just passing through?"
"No, I seek your prince."
That caught it off guard and its neck elongated a little, making its human disguise nothing but a grotesque caricature.
"Why?" it asked, clearly afraid of challenging what was, to it, a powerful stranger.
Karon was not about to explain himself to an underling. Demon hierarchy was measured by strength and those that were stronger did not bow to those who were weak. The creature recognised the dismissal of its question and shrank down.
"Wait here," it said, "I will find another."
What it meant was someone bigger and more likely to be able to stand against him. Karon just sat on his horse and waited. He followed the creature with his ears and heard it whispering, although he could not make out the words. When it came back it was accompanied by a being seven feet tall covered in white fur with a crocodile's snout.
"Who are you?" it demanded.
"No concern of yours," he replied and threw a small talisman at the creature. "Give your Prince this, Lilaro will see me."
The fact Karon knew the prince's name seemed to startle the bigger demon, which eyed him carefully and sent the small demon to pick up the talisman.
"Tiny magic," the child like demon said and handed the object to its superior.
"What is this?" the shaggy creature asked.
"A calling card," he replied; "you can tell it has no dark enchantment. Lilaro will know what it is."
The creature looked at the talisman in its hand.
"You don't want to keep your prince waiting for this," Karon warned and smiled within his hood.
The demon looked clearly torn, but eventually growled.
"Do not move," it said and turned, "there are twenty eyes on you."
"And I could pluck them all before they could run," he replied; he was not about to let this minion attempt to intimidate him.
All it would take was one time-slowing spell and his vampire speed and every single one of the demons now watching him from the shadows would be dead. Demons all played power games, but he wanted none of these in any doubt about how dangerous he was. His interrogator paused at his words.
"Your friend will tell you I am a vampire, I am also a sorcerer," he said, just to make his point.
Demons could control low level magic or magic specific to their species, but only humans could be sorcerers and control it all. The white haired demon took him seriously and disappeared in a hurry. At least a couple of the demons now watching him vanished back the way they had come as well.
It was a while before the large demon returned, but then the creature bowed.
"If you will come this way, master," it said and indicated behind it.
"What about my horse?" he asked.
"It will be cared for until you leave," was the immediate response.
Karon was well aware there was an unspoken 'if' in that sentence when it came to leaving, the demon in front of him was showing deference, but that meant nothing about the prince.
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(aka Natasha Duncan-Drake)
These titles may be of interest as they also contain paranormal fiction by the author.
An anthology collaboration with Sophie Duncan containing 28 stories in multiple genres including horror, fantasy and science fiction, paranormal adventure, young adult and erotica.
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About Wittegen Press:
Wittegen Press is a small independent publisher of eBooks based in the UK. We publish on many eBook sites. To see our whole catalogue please visit our website.
Tasha was born and raised in rural Kent, England where she still lives with her husband Rob, just down the road from her twin sister and sometimes writing partner Sophie. Tasha has been writing since she was a pre-teen and chose to take it up as a full time career when her company downsized and made the whole software engineering department redundant. After setting up Wittegen Press with her sister as a brand for their books she has not looked back, publishing novels, novellas and short stories in a wide range of genres.
Before taking up writing professionally she was very active in the world of fanfiction and still believes it is a wonderful creative outlet, even though she doesn't have very much time to play anymore. She likes to maintain a lively presence online and welcomes new friends, readers and writers alike.
For more information about Tasha's books and where to find her at places like Twitter, please check out her profile at Wittegen Press, linked below.