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The Talon House

DarkShadow

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Posts posted by DarkShadow

  1. Chapter 1 Beginnings

    School had begun like so many times before. This year though, I was forced to attend public school. My first day had been horrible. I had alienated three teachers and, most likely, the entire student body.

    It was August. The sun beat down, waning in strength. The days were growing shorter and the nights colder. It was the season of death, and the land was preparing for its long winter slumber.

    It would have been easier if they had been honest with me. Kent and Mark were trying to acclimate me to my surroundings. I could see the plan in Kent's mind.

    "Hey! Back off, Ty," Kent warned.

    "Sorry, Uncle Kent," I said. I hadn't been subtle enough as I dug through his thoughts and he had felt it.

    I listened as the gravel crunched beneath the tires of our old Chevy. I found my answer though. They wanted me to become accustomed to the real world.

    "Look, I know it's hard, Ty." Kent said.

    I doubted he knew how difficult my first day had been though. I was tempted to push the feelings of my day through him so he would really know. It was a side of him I hadn't felt before. He seemed shut off and absolute.

    "You have to learn to cope with those around you. This is the real world, Ty," he said, as we turned another corner.

    I watched as the corn blurred past my window. I wanted to think of anything but this day and he was pushing me. I lay my head against the glass of the window. I wanted a safe oblivious place to rest my mind. We hit a pothole and my head bounced against the glass. It hadn't been hard enough to cause a bruise or bump, but it was enough to pull me from my thoughts.

    I felt the anger rising in me and I fought it. Anger is a useless emotion. It never served any purpose and their teachings read through my mind like a manual. I heard the words from previous lessons almost as clearly as if they had spoken them

    "We have to leave you for a while, Ty." Kent said, in an even tone.

    "Leave me? What do you mean you have to leave me?" I asked. My emotions ran rampant, surging through him. I could have probably stopped it, but I didn't want to.

    "You're leaving?" I asked again. "How can you leave me?" I was nearly hysterical. My day at school had been bad enough, and now this?

    Uncle Kent drove up the long dirt and gravel driveway that led to our house. He stopped at the top of the curve that wound around to our home. He shifted into park, but didn't stop the engine. He was serious!

    I hadn't paid much attention to the bags in the bed of the truck. I plunged into his mind like a dagger.

    "Stop!" he shouted at me. He sounded angrier than I had ever heard him. He had never spoken to me this way, and it hurt.

    "All of the bills are paid and everything is taken care of. It isn't like we are going to be gone forever. We'll be back when you need us, Ty," he said, looking into his lap.

    "I need you now!" I yelled. "Please don't go!" I begged, my eyes brimming with tears.

    "Get out of the truck." Kent said, with no emotion.

    What in the hell was going on? I looked into his eyes for some clue, but found nothing.

    I grabbed my backpack from the floor and opened the door. I climbed out and let my backpack fall to the ground with a thud. Kent honked the horn and moments later Mark came through the side door of our home. I left my bag sitting beside the truck and ran to him. He pulled me into a hug.

    "Please don't leave me here alone. Uncle Mark!" I begged.

    He gave me a tight squeeze and released me.

    "If you can stop us, then we might stay," he whispered. I could sense his mixed emotions.

    Mark moved past me and to the truck. He pulled open the door and climbed in.

    “Arawn, grant me your favor!" I yelled, raising my arms to the sky.

    The wind picked up and pressed against my skin. Dark clouds filled the sky above us. Giant gray billowing clouds pushed away the red and gold of sunset. More and more clouds filled the sky as I concentrated. They coalesced and lightning built between them, echoing rumbles of thunder. I'd never attempted to invoke such power before, but I had never wanted anything so badly either.

    Four bolts of lightning blazed down to the earth behind our truck creating a deep furrow in the ground. The smell of ozone and the deafening claps of thunder filled the air. The crashing noise broke my concentration and another bolt of lightning tore downward and struck the gravel road in front of our house. The impact sent rocks and dirt flying in all directions. The winds blew harder, making it difficult to stand.

    "Control your storm, Ty!" Mark yelled.

    I raised my head and took back control of the storm. Thunder and lightning were flashing between the clouds and I was afraid the next bolt might land where I was standing or even worse, on our truck!

    "Thank you, Arawn, be at peace," I yelled, slowly bringing my arms back to my side. The storm calmed and dissipated as fast as it had come.

    I looked at Kent. "Will you please stay?" I said.

    "Ty, we love you, but you have to learn this on your own. You must learn control. If the 'Circle' were to find out that you possess this power, they would take you from us. We didn't push you like we should have in the past, and now you must make up for our mistake," Kent said, and then turned off the ignition and stepped out of the truck.

    I ran to him and we hugged. It felt like I was saying goodbye forever.

    "Do you have to go?" I asked.

    "Yes, but we'll be here when you need us. Now, please listen to me carefully. You can't let the students in your school flood you with emotion. You are going to have to learn to close yourself off for your own sake. You can't talk to people as though you have known them their entire lives. They aren't Druid, you know this!" Kent said, giving me another tight squeeze before releasing me.

    "Go hug your uncle goodbye and be careful," Kent said as a tear rolled down his cheek.

    I ran around the front of the truck and into Mark's arms for one final hug.

    "You lied to me," I said.

    "No, Ty, I didn't lie. I told you we might stay, and we would have if you hadn't been able to call higher power. Practice every chance you get and don't let your fear control you. I love you," Mark said with a sniff and released me.

    "I love you too, Uncle Mark," I said as I wiped away my tears.

    My uncles got back in the truck and started it up again. They pulled forward and did a U turn through the yard and stopped. It didn't occur to me to place the lightning strikes in front of the truck.

    "And fix the driveway!" Kent yelled, giving me a final wave. The truck started moving again and I watched as their tail lights traced the way down our driveway and onto the road. The sound of the rumbling engine of the old truck faded into the distance as they drove away.

    I walked to the old rusted metal shed beside the house and got the shovel. I filled in the holes in the driveway and patted them down as best I could. I listened to the cicada as they called the night with their shrill song. The sun had finally set, and the cold damp air sent a small shiver through my body. My mind was numb and my body tired. It had been a long day. I put the shovel back into the shed and shut the rickety door with a creak.

    The harvest moon had passed, and the local farmers had all but finished gathering their crops. The sweet smell of corn and damp earth seemed to permeate the air as the wind pressed against me. We had some hills in this rural area of Illinois, but it was mostly flatland. You could see for miles. There seemed to be a constant blast of wind on our hilltop, and I was glad. The hottest days of summer seemed to push away the breeze that now chilled me.

    I entered the house through the side door, letting the weathered wood-framed screen door slam behind me. I had barely kicked off my sandals on the landing before I heard Shadow's nails clicking against the tiled kitchen floor. She ran up to me and bounced against my legs. I bent over and gathered her in my arms and carried her through the kitchen and into the living room while she covered me with doggy kisses. I sat on our old couch and gave her a tight squeeze before laying back. I rested my head against the arm of the couch and ran my fingers through her soft grey curly hair.

    We had gotten her from the pound when I was twelve. I had begged and begged for a dog, and had driven Kent and Mark nearly insane before they finally relented. We went to the local humane society in Galesburg on a Saturday morning. I remember looking at each and every dog as they hoped for their freedom. I overheard two of the veterinary technicians talking about the poor cockapoo puppy that had contracted Parvo, and would probably not make it through the night.

    I walked behind the techs and into a small dark room that had a single metal cage. The tiny curly grey haired puppy had been isolated from the others, to stop the spread of the killer virus. She was just lying there asleep in her cage. I had tapped on its edge to wake her, but she barely moved. Her little grey blue puppy eyes opened.

    "Heya Shadow," I whispered.

    This was definitely my dog. I felt her sickness and wrapped her in as much love as I could muster. Her tiny tail gave a weak wag as I opened the cage door. I ran my finger across the top of her head before picking her up and cradled her against my chest. She was so weak.

    The techs had heard the creaking of the metal hinges, and had come into the room. They explained to me that she was very ill, and wasn't going to make it. They tried to take her from me but I had started yelling for my uncles. She was mine, and that's all there was to it. The veterinarian on duty came in with my uncles and reached to take her from me. Shadow gave the tiniest little growl in protest, before settling her head back against me. The veterinarian couldn't believe the sudden infusion of life this little puppy now possessed.

    An hour later we were home and I lay on my bed with her on my chest. It was the best sleep I had ever had, as I felt her warm little body against my heart. We slept together and by morning she was up and about, licking my face.

    She has grown a lot since then. I've snuck her too much people food over the last few years, and she has fattened up to almost twenty five pounds. She was a little overweight, but not by much. Shadow was spoiled in every way, and I loved her with all my heart.

    I felt her nuzzle her cold wet nose against my chin as I ran my fingers through the soft fur of her back.

    "I know, I know," I said as I yawned. "Let's get ready for bed."

    Shadow hopped to the floor with a thump, before shaking her body from head to toe.

    "At least I still have you," I said, rising from the couch.

    Our back porch had been sealed in to make it part of the house, and it was now my personal garden. I had spent a lot of time in that room over the years, tending to my many herbs. I walked through the house, listening to the old wooden floor creaking beneath my feet, with Shadow close behind me. I entered my garden through the heavy wooden door. I flipped on the light in my make shift greenhouse and checked the soil of my nearby aloe plant for moisture. Watering them could wait until tomorrow.

    I flipped off the light and shut the door behind me. I had almost forgotten to lock the door. It had become are cent and difficult to remember habit of ours. I made my way across the living room and into the kitchen and locked the side door and then, finally, the back door that we almost never used. It was still locked from the days before. The damp air, blowing through the windows, promised a chilly morning. I went through the house, in my nightly ritual, and shut and locked them all.

    Finally, Shadow and I went upstairs. I passed the now empty bedroom that usually held my uncles. I entered the bathroom, stripped down, and took a long hot shower. After drying off, I gathered up my clothes and traipsed down the hall and into my bedroom. The drying moisture on my body gave me a slight chill as the wind tossed the thin white curtains around my window. The light from the hallway stretched across my bedroom floor, and made the curtains look like fingers clawing in and out of darkness.

    Rain had started while I was in the shower, and I closed my windows all but the last inch. I loved the rain. It seemed to bring the scent of nature to the wind. I turned on the alarm of the small clock radio that sat beside my futon bed on the floor. Shadow had already climbed onto the futon and was waiting for me to join her. If lipped off the light in the hallway and slowly knelt down onto the futon. I crawled across it and pulled the covers down. I slipped under them and bunched them against the pillow beside my head. That was Shadow's spot. She tugged at them with her paws for a few moments, before finally fluffing them to her liking and settling down to sleep.

    The alarm blasted me from sleep. I was dreaming and all I could remember was the earth cracking beneath my feet. I couldn't remember the image so much as the sound. It was like someone had taken a giant tree and broken it in half, right beside me. I sat up in bed and reached through the darkness to find the switch to turn off the alarm. It had already begun to annoy me. I normally woke up at this time anyway and I resented having to be placed on some kind of timer to make sure I could go to 'public' school. I wanted to bash the plastic thing into pieces, but resisted the urge.

    It was chilly and I pulled the covers around my shoulders as I sat half awake on my bed. I stretched my jaws in a yawn, waiting for sleep to leave me. That ever present silvery feeling made me stand and pull the covers with me toward the door to my room. I chuckled, seeing Shadow sliding across the floor after me, unwilling to leave her spot. I couldn't blame her; I didn't want to get up either.

    I reached behind the door and grabbed the robe from the hook. I let the covers fall from my naked body and quickly wrapped the cold damn terrycloth around me. Now, I really had to pee.

    "Shadow, come on!" I called to her as I slipped on my house shoes.

    I was half way down the stairs before I heard the familiar thud-thud of her following me. I trudged through the kitchen and to the side door of the house. After I unlocked and opened the heavy wooden door, Shadow nuzzled open the screen door and went trotting out before me. I followed her out and pissed in the back yard. I went back inside, started the coffee, and clicked on the furnace, while she finished her morning ritual. I could feel the cold creeping up from the tile floor, through the cotton of my now damp house shoes as I sat at the kitchen table.

    I got up when I heard the familiar scrapes against the screen door that told me Shadow was ready to come in. I let her in, and then shut the side door to keep out the cold. The kitchen was strangely silent this morning. Usually the uncles were already awake and the smell of almost-sausage and coffee filled the air. This morning, only the quiet damp cold greeted me. Almost-Sausage was what I called the vegetarian soy substitute we ate as part of our breakfast. I was reminded time and time again how fortunate we were, that the modern world could now provide. We didn't eat meat, eggs, or fish. It just wasn't our way.

    I threw a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and pulled the margarine from the refrigerator. The house had finally begun to warm up, and I thought that maybe I would leave the heat on tonight. It was only going to get colder, and it would certainly help me wake up in the morning. I liked it cold when I slept, but I didn't like the fact that my nose had been colder than Shadow's this morning. I would leave the thermostat at 60 from now on. It was my first executive decision. I liked the feel of it.

    The toaster startled me as it popped up my newly browned bread. I threw in two more slices and buttered the ones I had placed on the counter. I slathered the first two slices with a thin layer of peanut butter, while the second two slices toasted. I had barely finished when the next two popped up. I buttered them and then let them sit so that it would melt. I carried our plates to the table and cut Shadow's toast into small pieces after sitting down. She did love toast, and I hated to eat in front of her. It just didn't seem right. One peanut butter and one butter for each of us. I got up, realizing I had forgotten my coffee, and poured me a cup and adding sugar. I didn't care for it black like the uncles.

    I sat Shadow's plate on the floor and we both scarf fed down our breakfast. The rain had stopped early in the night, and the rising sun was doing its best to burn off the remaining raindrops. It peeked through the windows, almost blinding me. I took our plate to the sink and rinsed them off. The round white clock on the wall behind the kitchen table told me it was 6:30 and that I had an hour to get ready for 'public' school.

    I filled the green plastic watering can with water from the kitchen faucet and lugged it to my herb garden. I watered my plants and then returned to the kitchen and placed it at the side of the kitchen sink.

    It was time to assess the chaos of my hair and get ready for the day. I bounded up the stairs to the bathroom beside my room and looked at the brown mess of my shoulder length hair. It looked as though I had been struck by lightning. It was always like this when I woke. Clumps of brown stuck out, defying gravity, while in other spots it smashed to my head.

    I brushed my teeth and got dressed, finally shedding my robe and returning it to the hook on the back of my bedroom door. I ran downstairs and washed my slightly curly brown hair in the kitchen sink hoping it would dry before I got to school. I reminded Shadow to be good, and left her trapped in the house for the time I was away at school. I waited at the end of our driveway before finally seeing the bus come to collect me. It was 7:30. I would have to remember that for the future, so I could better plan my mornings.

    I climbed the steps to the bus. It was packed with kids and I didn't see anywhere to sit. I was only a mile from town, and it seemed I was their last stop.

    "Sit down, please," John, the bus driver, told me.

    I glanced at him and then back to the faces that seemed to dared me to even look at them. I felt their hate, but I wouldn't acknowledge it. Still, I was confused as to what to do.

    "You can sit with me," a quiet voice said.

    I followed the sound to find Brian six seats back, sitting alone in the ugly green bench seat. I moved through the aisle and plopped down beside him.

    "Thanks," I almost whispered.

    "No problem," he answered, and stared back out the window his shoulder rested against.

    The bus lurched forward and soon we were in front of the high school, preparing to get off.

    "We're in all the same classes," Brian said, staring at the floor.

    "Oh?" I answered.

    "I'll show you around if you want. Help you to class and all that," Brian offered.

    "That would be great," I answered. "Thanks!"

    We got off the bus and prepared for a brand new day. The group of jocks that leaned against the flagpole didn'tinspire me, and I knew there was going to be trouble.

  2. Prologue

    I don't know why I'm on my way to public school. I was perfectly content being home schooled. Why they would send me to public school baffled me. I couldn't let anyone know who or what I was. It felt like a predestined failure. I didn't like this place, and I didn't like these people. How does someone make friends when you have to hide who you are?

    The flowers told me rain was coming, and the trees' whispers confirmed it. The leaves were turning because it was going to be a strong storm. These signs came to me so naturally I seldom gave it a second thought.

    We raced down the road as I watched the stripes of the highway blaze past in a blur. We were almost there. How the hell did they expect me to fit in here? I knew I was special, more like 'Special Ed,' they might think. I had read enough to know I wouldn't fit it. I was not good in sports and didn't have a single athletic bone in my body. Botany and Biology had been my key forms of education. Yeah, this is going to suck.

    I leaned against the door, hoping it might open unexpectedly and throw me against the pavement, to my death. I wasn't that lucky. We pulled into the parking spaces in front of the massive school.

    Mixed emotions flooded my mind as I crawled reluctantly from the car. What was I to do? Just stop? I didn't want to be here. I made my way through the masses of people to the principal's office. I could feel their thoughts. They were all so very confused. Half truths and skewed reality were going to have to be my way if I wanted to blend in with these, people. It felt so strange to have to suddenly hide parts of me that had been encouraged over the last few years.

    "You are special, Ty," Mark told me.

    "Don't use your special abilities. You must blend in here! We've taught you all we know," Kent reminded me.

    "Great, no pressure there," I thought as I stood amongst the throng of people pushing past me. I hated it. So many thoughts and feelings brushed against me that I felt smothered.

    These people hurt too much for words. How in the hell would I ever blend in here? I tucked myself into the hooded sweatshirt that covered me, and sat on the plastic chair in the administrative office, waiting for my class schedule. I half-heartedly hoped they would forget me.

    "Charles on, Ty, come into my office please." Mr. Kard announced.

    I slumped into one of the two chairs that sat before his desk. "Yes, Sir," I whispered.

    "I hear you have been home schooled, Ty," he said, almost indignantly. I could feel his disdain against my skin.

    The school principal was a pudgy man with a crooked nose, grey hair, and a pedophile for a son. I could read his thoughts as if they were my own. He had also been skimming the school's books and I instantly despised him. He was a self important a**, as were most people, and I could feel his insecurity quickly replaced by a sick self-imposed authority. He was a bad man.

    "Yes, sir," I answered.

    "You turn seventeen this year, according to your file," Mr. Kard said.

    I nodded my reply.

    "Well, then, I'll assume you are ready for your Junior year," he said as he squinted his eyes in my direction.

    It didn't help my worry, knowing this man hated me on sight. He thought that my family and our ways were strange. And I knew why. I could see it in his mind. He had had a tryst with my uncle Trent during his child hood. It flashed across his mind and I could feel his tension, among other things.

    "You're already late for class," he said with a knowing grin. He didn't really care. He only hoped for my discomfort.

    I nodded and made my way through the concrete halls to gym class. I stood in the doorway outside of the gym . Mr. Durgo finally noticed me, though I had hoped he wouldn't.

    They had been playing dodge ball. I knew the game. I had read about it. I think there had even been a movie about it some time back, but I couldn't remember the name. I could feel the vehemence they shared. I couldn't explain it more than that. They hated and wanted to hurt each other. I knew that at least some of these people had to consider each other friends, so that puzzled me even more.

    The red bloated balls all came flying toward me. I didn't want to hurt anyone. I caught each and dropped them. The ones I couldn't manage to catch, I dodged. This wasn't my way. I could feel Mr. Durgo's agitation at me for not being in uniform. I wanted to rush to the closeted space that I saw in his mind where they changed clothes. I could also see the sick pleasure he got from it.

    What kind of man took this kind of pleasure from our embarrassment? I wasn't going to fit in here. I could feel his sadness from having divorced earlier this year. He had lost a daughter, too, and was sad and angry.

    Welcome to Gym class. I was so angry with Kent and Mark for leaving me here. It didn't matter. I was here and I didn't have any choice.

    "It's okay, you know," I whispered to him.

    Durgo just stood, staring at me. His anger was building and I hadn't done a thing. I had only offered him the slightest bit of comfort. He was in so much pain.

    The class ended at the tone of the bell. The speakers announced the end of our class and we had to rush to be ready for the next. There would be no time for showering today.

    "I'm sorry." I told him, and I meant it. I guess I shouldn't have said it. I didn't know we weren't supposed to feel here. This was such a strange world for me.

    I spent several classes buzzing about in my mind. English class had been the best. We had begun reading "Hamlet." A tortured soul to say the least, but no less tortured than these fools. I had read it ages ago and thought it was fabulous.

    One body drew my attention more than most. His name was Brian. He was blond haired, average build, short, and cute. His world was a nightmare of pain, and he kept to himself. He didn't talk much with the rest of the guys, which made me like him even more. His green eyes flashed in my direction and I quickly hid myself behind my book. I had to keep quiet.

    I looked into his memory. He had a full heart waiting to love. Unfortunately it had been toughened up by too much misery. These people had too much baggage. I knew from their thoughts that High School was not a place of fun and free love. Worlds hinged on perception. This place sucked! Even worse, homosexuality burned across their minds like a bull's eye. They perceived it as some detestable thing and, at the very least, prized information to torment you with. Here, they all thought it was wrong! How was I supposed to work with that!? I wanted desperately to go back to my world at home. Surely there was more they could teach me there.

    By the end of the day I had reduced three of my teachers to tears. I hadn't meant to, but I couldn't control my sympathy. I am an empathic Druid. I feel. The 'Circle' had called it my failing. I had felt their disappointment. I knew it with their words, as much as their hearts. It wasn't my fault.

    The day had finally ended and I stood outside the school, waiting. Kent pulled up in front of the school in our old black Chevy truck. I climbed in and slammed the door. I had hoped the sound would push away these people's pain. I could still feel it pressing against my skin.

    "Get me out of here, Uncle Kent," I begged. The tears were welling in my eyes. I didn't want to feel for these people. There was so much despair and I hated this place. They had to have known what it would do to me.

    "Why?" I asked as the tears rolled down my cheeks.

    My heart ached and I didn't know what hurt me more, the fact that they knew, or that they didn't seem to care.

    "This is the year of fire, Ty," Kent answered. He glanced at me like I should know what it meant. I did know, but I didn't want to accept it.

  3. Chapter 2

    Hotel Hell

    “Let me take care of this Taylor.” Jason’s green eyes met mine as he slid from his stool.

    I’d be damned if I let this scrawny bird prince be my savior. I was as much a man as he was, and I was more than ready to vent my frustrations. Gay or not, I am far from helpless. I suppose the recent events left me a bit emotionally raw, and I was itching for a fight. Then again, I was tempted to see exactly how able he was. I stood beside the stool and gave the fallen drunk a swift kick.

    “Friend of yours?” My muscles tensed and readied to spring into action. Jason met my grin with a frown. His eyebrows pushed together as though I had done something wrong.

    The four friends led by a brown haired man came toward us. All were clad in jeans and t-shirts. None of them were exceptional in appearance. Too much alcohol had reshaped their bodies into softer things.

    The only one of any merit or mention was well into ruin by alcohol. He stood behind the Neanderthal brunette oaf of a man that wore dingy cotton and jeans. By their stench they had been worn many more times than washed.

    The young blond still had a small hint of muscle beneath the flab that was sure to consume his body in the near future. I suspected he was only a few years out of high school, and a complete failure in life. He was the ‘jock’ now ‘failure’. He just didn’t accept it yet. The poor fool still had some misplaced pride.

    The slut who had laid our menus on the table was back at the bar wide eyed and watching. She didn’t seem so much surprised as she was intent on the upcoming show. I could smell the damp culminate between her thighs and nearly gagged.

    The oldest and leader of the group swung a pool cue. Jason caught it in his hand as though it was nothing and twisted his wrist. The wood splintered with a wooden crack. The sound was followed by a squeal as Jason’s foot planted firmly in the groin of the young blond beside him. He spun and lashed the pool stick end against the leader’s face sending him to the floor. Two down, two to go.

    Jason threw the pool stick end to the ground as he stepped over the bodies moving toward the two that remained.

    “Enough!” My voice bounced back from the cheap wood paneled walls. My words were loud and angry as the tiger threatened to emerge.

    I heard the intake of breath from the slut. She ran along the bar and out of the door into the daylight as though it might protect her. Well… so much for a kind and quiet meal. I was still hungry and the hollow ate at my chest.

    I walked passed Jason and backhanded the young redhead that was poised for attack. His body spun and fell to the floor. I didn’t do any permanent damage. I only wanted my f****** dinner!

    My legs launched me into the air and I landed in front of the small window where the fat grill cook stood staring. It wasn’t a normal hop by any means. My body flew nearly eight foot up and crossed the twenty feet it took to pass the bar.

    “Two cheeseburgers and fries.” I knew my tiger eyes were showing. I felt powerful and alive and let my energy spill out through my voice. “Now!”

    The last of the four ran for the door. There was nothing left of his concern for his friends. He ran with self preservation guiding him, and never looked back. I heard an engine roar to life outside. Wheels kick gravel against the side of the building as he made his escape.

    A slow growling chuckle climbed up my throat as the smell of urine wafted past my nose. The poor man had pissed himself and I wondered how long it would be before he realized it.

    The sound of a drum stick clattering to the floor drew my attention to the stage and the wide eyed band members.

    “Don’t even move.” The smell of more piss flooded the air as I looked back to the cook scrambling to put together our meal. “You about done?!”

    “I’ll be outside.” Jason’s voice sounded angry as he let out a short huff. I turned and saw his angry eyes as he shook his head. He stepped over our ‘friends’ and continued out the door.

    A crunch of paper landed on the window sill and I heard the frantic stumble of feet. The cook ran to the store room and presumably the back door. I snatched at the sound and grabbed the bag of lunch without breaking eye contact with the frozen, and somewhat soiled, band members. I walked toward them and paused. I could hear their hearts beat faster and their lungs struggling to keep pace.

    “By the way, you SUCK!” I turned, walked a few steps, and kicked the door off its hinges splitting it in two.

    I climbed on my bike barely noticing Jason jump on quickly after. Key in the ignition, I kicked it to start and spun the tires as I hopped out onto the highway. Jason clung tightly behind me, but it seemed only enough to keep him from falling to the pavement. There wasn’t any stolen intimacy and it bothered me.

    It reminded me of my father and of a conversation not too long ago.

    My uncle David and my father were having a heated discussion regarding my ascension as heir to the Pack. Even though they were talking in hushed voices I still heard their words. My hearing has always been better than most. I pushed my ear firmly against the cold wall and listened to them as they stood outside in the backyard.

    “He has far too much of his mother in him. How could he ever have the strength to lead us?” My father’s voice was angry. He was talking about me.

    “He’s his father’s son. You couldn’t possibly have a feline son.” The words were spoken and I heard bone meet flesh and a body fall to the ground.

    “Don’t you EVER say that again. I will have no son that is feline, even if I have to kill him myself.” My father’s voice seethed with rage.

    I was a happy child until I turned the age of 12. At first I dismissed the urges I felt as something silly and forgettable. Then, as the months pushed on, and my growing desire for the same sex intensified, I became afraid.

    His words bored into my heart like a knife and turned my fear into terror. It also became my greatest sadness. My father would no longer love me. We had grown distant during my teen years, but I told myself it might somehow pass. I hoped that maybe in the upcoming months, something would change. I would be the son my father wanted.

    The full moon of my seventeenth birthday barreled down upon me like a speeding bullet bringing about my doom. The moon rose and the entire pack gathered round and stood naked in the moon light as I circled with the raging fire. It was the first full moon after my seventeenth birthday and my day of changing.

    I felt the fire warm my skin and my blood boil as the light of the flames danced in the corners of my eyes. Tears flooded down my face when I saw the color and stripes erupt along my arms as they stretched and pulled into paws. It was the second saddest moment of my life. My biggest sorrow lay in my father’s eyes as I roared mournfully into the darkness.

    “You are not my son. You will never be pack.” His steal blue eyes glowed back at me through the night. His heart slammed shut and he turned. “You are exiled.”

    The pack roared to life as I watched them changing form. The shadows stretched along their bodies as they fell forward and snouts stretched and snapped at me dripping saliva. Fur erupted and bones stretched as the writhing brown mass of wolves grew thicker and angrier.

    “Let the freak pass.” My father’s words were angry and garbled as his wolf entity rolled through him.

    The words struck me like a punch to the stomach.

    “NO! He is not pack. He has come into our territory without permission. He is not your son, he is not pack, and therefore must die according to law!” I could tell by the nasal voice it was Dean Robinson.

    His grey eyes and sneer landed on my father’s new mate Loren. A small grin stretched across her face as she turned to my father. “He’s right you know.”

    My father’s claw like hand swung, blasted into Loren’s face, and sent her soaring backward. “Silence whore! Do you challenge me Dean?”

    Dean was more half man and half wolf as he roared back at my father. “I do, Gregory.” Not only was it a challenge, it was an insult to address him as anything but Agrik during ceremony.

    They leapt into the air and clashed. Those aligned with my father began fighting against those with Dean, and I ran between the chaos.

    “You missed your turn.” Jason’s yells finally penetrated my thoughts as he tapped my shoulder.

    Somehow in the last few of travel we found ourselves in grassier plains. We were on a desolate highway that had just intersected behind us. I pulled over and parked at a sign reading “Amber 12 miles”. My stomach gurgled and reminded me of the lunch I had shoved into the saddlebag before tearing away from the Bar & Grill. I turned the key and the low rumble gave way to the hissing sound of wind through the tall fields of grass.

    I steadied the bike between my legs and felt the weight shift as Jason climbed off. The drumming sound of water hitting earth filled my ears. I was reminded of my own plight as a twinge of pain rolled through my bladder. I kicked down the metal brace and pulled the bike backwards to set it on the kickstand. Safely in place I lifted my leg slowly over the bike. The ache from the atrophied muscles of my thigh made me groan.

    Unsteady on my feet, I wobbled slightly as I made my way to the other side of the street to relieve myself. A snap, a quick zip, and paradise was mine. It still makes me grin to think of the absolute pleasure of a really good pee.

    Flicking away the last bits of my torment I finally tucked away and fastened my pants. I turned to see Jason glaring back at me.

    I threw my arms in the air in frustration. “What!” I didn’t owe him a damn thing, and the last thing I wanted was his judgment.

    “Can we eat now?” His voice was low and he enunciated every syllable as though he detested each word that passed his lips.

    Yep… something had definitely climbed up his a** in the last couple of hours.

    “Help yourself.” I matched his tone and added a little of my own disgust at our predicament.

    His anger seemed to slip away as he took a deep breath and his shoulders fell in defeat. He opened the sack of our now questionably fresh lunch and rifled through its contents.

    “You know you can’t eat that. I can smell that it’s spoiled from here. God you’re stupid!” I shook my head and rolled my eyes.

    The bag of burgers and fries fell from Jason’s hand and he hung his head. I watched as he dropped to his knees. His chest heaved and shook his entire body. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with him until I heard his sobs. They burst from him as if his will to contain them had been shattered.

    ‘Damnit!’ I may not be the most compassionate person in the world, but tears are one thing I cannot bear. I walked around the bike to where he knelt.

    “We can get something to eat in the next town. It’s only a few miles away.” Leaning down I put my hand on his shoulder.

    “Don’t f****** touch me!”

    He swung his fist outward in an arc with perfect aim. A flash of white filled my vision as the back of his clenched hand met my cheek and knocked me to the ground. The breath was pushed from my lungs and I struggled for air.

    The world wavered as I lay in the tall grass. I’m not sure what surprised me more, his words, or the fact that he hit me. My breath finally returned and I cradled my eye with my hand as my fingers felt along the ridge of my bruised cheek. “

    “Yep… that’s going to leave a mark.” The sun light peaking over his shoulder nearly blinded me.

    “I’m sorry Taylor! I didn’t mean to.” Jason cowered over me and flinched back as I sat up.

    “You are a royal pain.” I couldn’t fight the smile on my face as I looked into his blood shot green eyes.

    Even though the turn of my lips and the pressure against my bruised cheek caused me pain, I couldn’t hide my grin. Like so many times in my life recently, the tides of emotion surged through my chest and waned as a new feeling took hold. He looked so lost and defeated I felt almost ashamed.

    Normally my mind would have screamed ‘Suck it up you big pussy!’, but we had a lot in common. If the situation was different and I didn’t have him with me, I might be the one sitting alone sobbing on some deserted highway. For every person in the world that needs to be taken care of, there is someone that has the desire to protect them. It keeps the protector busy enough to forget their own pain.

    I’ve heard there are people that are just happy, but I knew of only one. Well, to be honest, I didn’t even know her. She was my mother, Kaitlyn. I’ve memorized her photo but I still carry it with me. It is the one and only tangible memory of my past life I brought with me. It’s a simple picture.

    They must have been camping or hiking. Her long red hair was aloft as if having been lifted by a gust of wind and her head was tilted back. She had turned from the camera and held up her hand up as if trying to hide from the impending flash. She looked wild, free, and happy. The sparse woods behind her were lit by either the rising or setting sun as flashes of light peaked through the foliage along the horizon. I don’t know why, but I have always imagined it was early morning, and that she had just begun a perfect day.

    The odd gurgling sound that rumbled from my stomach reminded me of my hunger. I had all but ignored my celebration dinner two days ago. I was too nervous to eat. We were celebrating my impending ascension to the position of Agrik. I would take the form of a wolf and eventually take control of the pack. I’m my father’s first and only son with my mother, Kaitlyn.

    I glanced back to the rusted worn sign ‘Amber 12 miles’. I got up and walked over to my bike. Loosening the strap I flipped open the cover and pulled out the atlas. I searched for the city of ‘Amber’ in the index, but it wasn’t listed. I wasn’t too concerned. There aren’t many places in the United States where you could drive for more than a couple of hours without finally find a larger city.

    Even with my small meal of the coyote from the night before, I was near starving. Changing form takes a lot of energy and I’m a teenager. We’re always hungry.

    “Well Prince, what do you think about getting something to eat in the next town?” I climbed on my bike and gave it a push forward and off the kickstand.

    “The name is Jason, and I’d really like that. I’m famished.” His words held more strength as though he had regained some control of himself. “Try to use a little control in the next place ‘eh? Please, no more bars.”

    The last of his words were spoken against my back as he climbed onto the bike and nestled in against me. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t relish the weight of him against me. A Lycan without a pack is a sorrowful and desperate creature. We thrive on contact and the company of our own. I couldn’t help but chuckle at my own thoughts. ‘What a strange pack we had become.’ With that I started the bike and we crept back out onto the highway.

    For the first time since my escape, I drove at a leisurely pace and without the rage of speed that usually carried me down the highway. Fifteen minutes later we were entering the lovely town of ‘Amber Population 28’.

    It was dingy and looked abandoned. Rows of dilapidated homes lined both sides of the road. Many were boarded up or caving in on themselves. Yards were not mowed and the chain link fences that bordered them had long since fell into disrepair. The sidewalks had lost the battle against nature. The grass and weeds that pushed through the many cracks threatened to consume the concrete forever.

    I worried we had entered some strange suburban ghost town. I had enough gas to get us several miles further down the road, but right now I was hungry. My heart sunk as I glanced along the skeletal remains of this withering relic of society until I spotted a pig of a man in a rocking chair on his porch. I say ‘pig’ because he was well past overweight. His belly protruded obscenely beneath his overalls and his round snubbed face reminded of just that. A pig. I slowed my bike to a stop and cut off the engine.

    He waved, “Hello there strangers. Lost your way?”

    I pulled off my helmet and ran my fingers along the itchy sweat soaked hair of my neck. It had grown a lot in the last few days and I wished I had more money and time to visit a barber.

    “A little sir, but right now we’d really like to find a place to sit and eat. I don’t suppose your fine city has such a place?” Even if he was a disgusting looking thing, I hoped he might help.

    The man rocked backward and laughed as he held his hands against his ample gut. “Young man, you must need your eyes checked, but I do think I can help you.” His fat face curled into a cherub like smile as he leaned forward.

    He stretched out his arm pointing further into the town. “At the stop sign, take a left and look for Leon’s on the corner. At least I think that stop sign is still there. Damn kids! You tell Leon that Boris sent ya.” With that said he leaned back and gave us another wave.

    “Thank’s Boris. Much appreciated.” I started the engine and his final words were garbled by the rumble of the motor.

    I pulled on my helmet for lack of a better place to put it and proceeded further into town. The houses as we entered the center of town were only slightly better maintained than the ones we had already passed. As Boris had said, there was a stop sign, and the sign on the corner declared this intersection ‘Main Street’. True to his word on the adjacent corner was a two story red brick building with a large white sign jutting out dangling atop a glass door with faded blue lettering. “Leon’s”

    The first floor walls were made up of a mass of unkempt ground to ceiling glass that let you peak in, but hid the details of whatever was inside. The distortion in the glass and the waver within them told me they were the original panes. The glass was imperfect and of a style long since forgotten.

    Again I pulled my helmet off as I killed the engine and wait for Jason to climb off the bike behind me. He hung his helmet on the handle bars as he passed and waited on the sidewalk in front of our parking space. I hung my helmet on the other handle and dismounted.

    “It’s food. We won’t stay long.” I tried to reassure Jason as he stared back at me with disapproving eyes.

    I stepped up onto the curb and passed him moving toward the glass door that led to our next meal. ‘Our next meal’ the thought worried me. I had only enough money for me. If I continued to feed both of us, and considering the extra weight, between gas, food, and lodging, I’d be broke before we got to our destination. It was decided… I would take a job in the next city to earn a little more money so we could make the trip. I didn’t know where I was going, but for some reason… I knew that it was still far away and that I wouldn’t have the means to get there with the current state of my wallet. I wasn’t totally broke, but I wasn’t overflowing with cash either.

    We went through the door and found the grease stained interior much like the rest of the town. Old. The once white tile was stained a muted amber, and the ancient yellow flowered wallpaper had taken on a sickly brown. I slid into the first available booth that sat against the window. We were right near the door and if it became a necessity I could burst through the glass. The room was confining and stuffy. The weight of eyes from several patrons rested upon us.

    There was a line of worn blue padded stools along the counter and a grill window that gave glimpses of a sweating young woman working diligently on someone’s order.

    “I don’t like this place Taylor, we should go.” Jason’s eyes were filled with dread and his forehead furrowed with worry.

    “It’s just one meal. We’re both hungry…” My words were interrupted as the waiter approached.

    “Hello. My name’s Will. The special is Meatloaf, but unless you have the desire to s**t yourself to death, I’d recommend the cheeseburger platter.” His eyes crawled along my skin and then moved to Jason.

    It was almost as though he were taking stock of us. His smile was forced and he resembled a puppy that had been kicked too many times. He was too thin and his shoulders were rounded as though he had carried too large a burden for too long a time. His fingers raced along his order pad nervously and his silver blue eyes seemed to search for escape. The boy had a lot of nervous energy.

    “Nice hair. He placed the menus in front of us. “I’ll be back in a moment for your order.” His voice seemed strained as he stared at me. It was almost as though the withering death of this town had somehow crept its way into his veins.

    “Where’s the restroom?” I needed to know. This was the second time someone had made a comment about my hair, and the last I remembered… it was just a muddy brown color. Had my helmet made it all stick up? It wouldn’t have been the first time.

    Wil pointed out the dusty door in the corner marked ‘Men’ and turned. I slid from the confines of the booth and walked to the bathroom. I didn’t have a comb handy, but I could at least try to mash it down if it was too scary looking. Surely they had a sink in there with running water.

    “Order whatever you like, but I want a chocolate shake.” I looked over my shoulder and found Jason’s worried eyes.

    I twisted the old metal doorknob. It was one of those oval doorknobs you find in the oldest of houses with too many layers of pain hiding the once delicate design on the oval metal surface. The door gave way and I flipped the switch along the wall as I entered. Closing the door behind me I turned and stared into the mirror.

    “What the f**k!” I was shocked and the words escaped my lips in a lingering hiss.

    I looked at my reflection in the dirty cracked mirror. My hair was white with black stripes. It was the same pattern of my true form, but had somehow pushed through to my more human nature. I had changed too many times after gaining my form, and a piece of my humanity was now forever lost. I knew why it happened, but I can’t say I liked it. I looked like a freak!

    The longer I stared the more my heart and mind settled. It was kind of cool. There wasn’t much I could do about it, and I knew from my teachings that hair dye wouldn’t cover it. I had no choice but to accept it. Heaving a sigh I went to the urinal and relieved myself. I washed my hands at the sink and again took stock of my new hair style. It hadn’t just grown, it had flourished! The white and black stripes were swept back from my forehead and cascaded beyond my shoulders. I suppose I would have noticed sooner if I had spied it in my rear view mirror as I sped down the highway, but the helmet I wore had hidden it from me.

    I ran my fingers through my long black and white striped hair and then breathed a heavy sigh. It is what it is. There’s no changing it now and I might as well accept it. This would however make it harder to get a job, and right now I knew we needed more money. There wasn’t much I could do about it at the moment, and hopefully, the lax standards of employees of a larger city would give me an opportunity.

    I washed my hands in the spluttering spray of water beneath the rusted faucet and searched for something to dry myself. The paper towel holder was empty and I wiped my hands against my jeans. Why are there never any paper towels in these dives?

    I opened the door and made my way back to our booth against the window. I slid in across from Jason.

    “Why didn’t you tell me?” I couldn’t help my anger. He could have warned me!

    “Tell you what?” Jason eyed me suspiciously as though I had lost my mind.

    “MY HAIR!” I spoke in an angry whisper. “You could have told me.”

    “It’s always been that way.” Jason looked at me as though I were crazy.

    The realization hit me. As I thought back, I remembered he hadn’t really seen much of me in my human form. I didn’t know how long my hair had been this way. I had always worn my helmet. Even our coupling had been after I had spent too much energy changing from one form to another. I suppose this was the price I paid. It could have been worse though. At least my eyes hadn’t changed to the feline slits emerged in amber.

    Wil placed our food before us with a careless clank of glass against countertop. I hadn’t taken notice of my chocolate shake until now. A large tulip glass was filled with the frozen brown sweetness and beside it stood the metal container it had been prepared in. I took a quick sip from my chocolate shake to avoid any attempts at conversation.

    “If you need anything let me know.” Will paused and stared at me. He looked to Jason turned, and walked back to the patrons at the bar.

    The food was good and I drank the shake so quickly I had momentary migraines as the cold froze my brain. It was worth it though. It was soooo good. Finally sated, I leaned back and wished I had a place to sleep. Good food and a full belly often made me seek a place to rest but suddenly I was exhausted. My arms felt like dead weights pulling me to the floor.

    Wil approached and placed the small green ticket on our table. No sooner had he let loose of the paper than a deep rich voice interrupted.

    “Welcome, I’m Leon. We have rooms upstairs if you need to rest. You look tired.” His voice was a baritone wash of sound against my ears.

    He snatched up the bill and gave it a quick glance. His eyes turned to Wil and then back to us. “The meal is on the house. If you’d like to rest I have rooms on the second floor.”

    “We’d like that very much.” My words were slurred and I looked to Jason. Fear filled his droopy eyes, but sleep stole me away.

    I remember the feel of strong arms laying me to bed as my head rested against a soft pillow. The rest was a blur.

  4. Chapter 2 Shattered Silk

    Surely David understood why this is the way it must be. I couldn't leave Seth at my back after having tasted my blood. The eternal craving for such complete ecstasy would have driven him insane, and create a problem for me. I knew it, and Seth knew it as he ordered everyone to leave the room. He had met his end with his own tongue. Why rage against a situation that you cannot change? Seth had indeed become comfortable with the passage of time. He accepted, and knew, this was going to be his end.

    "What the f**k!" David whispered the words as he shrank back from his words.

    How adorable. He reminds me so much of Kalob. David's death must be as new to him, as his immortality. He was taken too young. He didn't seem to be the least bit jaded when Jeremy made him. It makes me smile just to think about it, though I suppose, this builds the horror in his mind right now. What a spectacle I must be, smiling after having killed someone.

    "You're surprised?" I asked staring into his deep green eyes. They were beautiful. Jeremy must have known what death would do to them. They're like two deep emeralds staring back at me.

    "Yes I'm surprised!" his words were strong, but his body had moved an almost imperceptible distance away from me. There's that cute naive fear of his again. "Why'd you kill him?" He is brave.

    "He tasted my blood." I could still see the confusion in David's face.

    "Seth would crave it forever. He and I both knew he could never hold infinitely against the constant yearning for my blood. Seth also knew that I would not allow him to taste my blood again. So, that was a problem. I do not like problems, so I solved it." My explanation was cold and matter-of-fact.

    "Couldn't you have waited?" David's voice wavered.

    "Why do you fear me David?" I asked ignoring his question.

    He paused before answering; "Because I don't know if you're going to kill me."

    "Do I have a reason to kill you?" I saw a slight shudder of fear roll across his face and down his lean body.

    David took several minutes to ponder the question as he tapped his index finger against the table. Yes, he was very new to death. His human traits were still so strong in him. "No, I don't think so."

    "Well then, you live another day. Though honestly, I would like to have you near me for some time. I have never had a pet. I see how your terror affects you." I paused, gliding my eyes down his muscled chest to somewhere below the table and then back again. "I would hope you wouldn't mind spending some time with me as well."

    David stopped tapping his finger and met my gaze. "I think I would like that." He answered almost whispering the words.

    "Good." I pushed back the large wood chair and stood at the table. He flinched. My laughter sailed through the air and came back again. He was so easily frightened over nothing.

    "To answer your question," I walked away from the table and made my way up the stairs to the bed.

    "I did not wait, because it would have given a small problem the opportunity to grow into a large one. I fear my little brother may have forgotten that." I stripped the charred silk sheets from the bed and carefully wadded them into a ball. I didn't want to get too much of Seth on the floor. I laid the soiled sheets down, and pulled open the drawer of the dresser I knew held fresh ones. I selected the red set that was on top and began to remake the bed.

    "Where do you think your hunger comes from? You're need for blood? It is the remnants of yearning that burns through you. It is from the Slegna blood that made you. You have a miniscule fraction of it in your blood and the need consumes you. Can you imagine the hunger if it was intensified a thousand times, or a hundred thousand?" I continued.

    "You will need to sleep soon. Your bed is made, and you will need your rest for tomorrow." I started my way back down the stairs.

    David stood and came from around the kitchen table walking toward me. When he was only a few feet in front of me I stopped and looked at him. I watched his body stiffen as he fought to continue moving forward.

    David stopped and nearly jumped when I spoke. It was a small quiver of stress and tension that shook him seductively. "We will have a visitor tomorrow. Whoever made Seth will be arriving. I want you to be on your guard. I am not sure these vampires will be forgiving. It is possible they may try to kill you. If it becomes a problem, I will protect you, and destroy them."

    "Don't you sleep?" David looked at me perplexed.

    "I have slept for the last 1500 years. I intend to stay awake for a while. Rest well, David."

    I heard David's light footsteps as his feet climbed the black and white marble stairs as I reached the kitchenette. Yes, I think I will keep him as a pet for now. If my heart moves, well, we will see if that is still possible.

    "Good night, Asher." David words made me smile from their simple kindness.

    You humans and vampires give each other a hundred joys and sorrows every day without consideration. I had missed that while I slept, though I didn't realize it until now. We'll see what the future brings you, my pet. For now, you'll sleep. I feel the sun's pull searching to sting my flesh.

    The sun is one of my father's many eyes that cast down his disdain for our transgressions. Poor Vampires, you share our shame and punishment without being guilty of anything. Being the objects of our forbidden love has made our curse, yours. As they say, 'Life is not fair'. What's that phrase Seth had heard the other day? Oh, yes, 'Sucks to be you'. It makes me smile to think it.

    Language has certainly taken a strange turn over the centuries. I suppose I could incorporate these new and colorful phrases into my speech, but in truth, that would not be me. Besides, would you ever believe someone who has been around for so very long would speak like some common hoodlum? I'm torn. The new slang does make me smile. I'll have to come back to that line of thought at a later time. There is work to be done.

    I suppose the main hall where I met the dear departed Seth will be as good a place as any. I'll move these vampires there and greet them when they awaken. A few announcements need to be made. The sudden change in hierarchy might not be well received, but the vampires don't have the luxury of a choice in the matter. Seth is gone, and I think I will stay here a while.

    I walked through the giant stone that blocked the entrance. It would deter most creatures of your world, but not me. I can pass through nearly any material as easily as air, except black iron. I'm not sure why that particular metal is cumbersome to my kind, but I suspect it is by design. Most likely it is something of my parents' forethought. I cannot deny that it proved to be a good idea considering my brother's and my unfortunate fall from grace.

    Can a pure black iron kill Slegna? I do not know. It would seem that if it were possible, the iron torch holder, which was plunged through my heart earlier, would have done the job well. Yet, I am still here. Maybe if it had been pushed through my skull instead. The thought intrigued me, but was not something I was willing to put to the test. No Slegna had ever been destroyed, and even with this dismal existence I wasn't anxious to be the first. Besides, I have a pet to tend to.

    I walked up the stairs listening to my footfalls echo against the stone walls. I had forgotten this, too. The sounds of life around me were absent when I slept. I suppose I was buried in too much muck to think of them. I had slept so long and had been so consumed with pain; the trivial joys were lost to me. There was the slightest hint of moisture and mildew in the air. This place was probably traversed at least twice a day, but dead things do little to disturb decay. That's what Vampires truly are. Dead things made to suffer by our curse.

    I passed through the altar that blocked the entrance to the stairs and stepped out onto the stone floor of the still empty main chamber. This is the place of orgies and at the same time the court, where rulings for disputes are made. It's a comical mixture, though Seth's memories explained it. It's a room of many purposes. It keeps a strange balance among the vampires that live between these walls.

    This was neutral ground. Between these walls the greatest transgression and the smallest delight could occur. These artificially, gas lit walls had been witness to both, and on many, many occasions. It seemed that Seth had been a connoisseur of sex. His memories pushed the experienced passion between these walls, to the forefront of my mind. Yes, this would be the perfect place for their awakening.

    With a thought, I released the locks and opened the doors to this plush tomb. With another, I brought the vampires from their piles of forgotten ecstasy and laid them about the room.

    None of these creatures were strangers to each other. By way of Seth's stolen memory, I knew these vampires had been intimate on several occasions. Their embarrassment would not be an issue, nor did I really care. I painted a portrait of sex and death, using vampires and silk as my medium. Flashes of silk, nude flesh, and the curve of muscle, made a seductive landscape in front of me. I lost myself in the view with the same appreciation I know Seth had often felt. It was a simple admiration of beauty.

    I sensed the humans that guard this sanctuary, moving about in the structure above. I suppose it was best they weren't allowed below. It isn't the wisest thing to be near when vampires first waken, especially if you might be considered food. Vampires are dead to the world during the day, and tend to wake a bit cranky if they find their resting place has been intruded upon.

    The structure above is a club called 'Big Bang'. It's located in a revitalized block of the city known as Church Street Station. It's nestled between some of the most repugnant refuse of vampire and human alike. A few blocks in any direction, and you can find the cast off's of society. Drug dealers, male and female prostitutes, the homeless and other assorted delinquents of the night, dot the shadows and alleyways like decoration.

    Big Bang's clientele is a younger group of people known as 'Goth' and 'Emo' and other 'throw away' individuals that embrace their own insignificance. It's a rather bohemian subset of culture that has existed throughout civilization and time. These people were the free thinkers, artists, and scholars of this era.

    That is another reason why I have chosen this place and time to rise. Few locations in the world would give a better spectrum of humanity in so small a venue. From here I could witness, first hand, the best and worst, your modern society has to offer. There is a constant influx of people from all over the world that come to this city, but only a special few search out an establishment like 'Big Bang'. I should have thanked Seth for providing such a perfect place before I destroyed him. It's an oversight I will endeavor not to repeat in the future.

    Seth's guards would wake first. They were the oldest now among the throng of vampires, and with that, held the strongest resistance to my father's eye. Yes, that ever burning eye is what you call the sun. I placed Laton and Tabor directly in front of the throne, along with some clothing to wear, so long as they don't force me to kill them. It would be a waste of beauty to have to burn them. They were faithful guards, and devout in their love for each other. I would prefer not to destroy that.

    I lost myself in thought for too long. How quick the hours go when a body becomes used to the passing of centuries. Everything felt so urgent that it made me feel almost giddy. I suspect this is what drew my father's eyes to you. You do so much during your blink of existence.

    I left my decadent landscape behind me and traveled back down to the sub chamber that held my pet. Sweet, strangely naive David lay motionless under my gaze as he slept through the last of the sun's passing. The red silk sheets wrapped around him in a tangle. He had moved in his sleep. This was not normal for a vampire. His body should have no life after the rise of my father's eye. I had seen Kalob do this in the past, but the movement surprised me now. I loved Kalob. This one... I don't know. I guess even my slightest of affections feed a dead mind. Maybe David would be more than a pet.

    I pulled David from his resting place and rested him against my chest. His lifeless body fell against me, and my flesh welcomed the company. It has been so long; so very, very, long. I ran my chin along his like a dog might. The delicate contact was so exquisite. David's skin possessed the cold of death, but the softness of a cherub. It made the touch of my flesh to his, a velvet delicacy.

    I moved the large chamber stone, with a thought, and proceeded up the stairs, pushing it back into place behind us. I moved the throne in the same fashion and walked to the side of the throne. When they wake, the throne would be empty. The absence of Seth would allude to his passing.

    I sat cross legged on the stone floor, off to the side of the throne. I could protect my pet from this angle. Whether they came from above or below, I could sit mid ground. I placed David's head in my lap while I traced the ringlets of his hair from base to tip.

    The sun drifted below the horizon and I watched as Laton and Tabor shifted their weight. I watched them nuzzle against each other's naked flesh before opening their eyes to spy their surroundings.

    "Please do not make me kill you." I continued to run my fingers through David's soft blond hair.

    Laton and Tabor were near mirror images of each other. Standing six and a half feet tall they were monoliths of muscled beauty. Both had striking naturally black straight waist length hair. It seemed to catch the fire's light as they rushed to kill me.

    I sent them flying backward against the wall. They rushed forward, and again I tossed them backward. I worried I might break their beautiful bodies or blemish the square of their jaw, but they stayed finally, where they fell. Their stares blazed against me from nearly black eyes.

    "It would be a waste to kill you." I paused to look up from the attentions I gave to my sleeping pet, David.

    "Get dressed, we have company coming." I turned my attention back to my rousing pet. Sleep was leaving David slowly. He would be of the last few to wake. He was so new.

    I watched Laton and Tabor tread through the waking vampires as they made their way to the pile of clothing I had provided them. The sounds of them waking were not pleasant. The vampires had been moved during their slumber and were not happy about it.

    The floor seemed to come alive as they woke in each other's arms and spied their new surroundings. The sun was finally beyond the horizon. I stood and pulled David to his feet as he swayed drunkenly by my side. Sleep had not completely left him yet. He rubbed his emerald eyes with his hands like a child might when they first rise at dawn. There was nothing there that needed wiped away. It was just another one of his human habits that hadn't left him in his brief engagement with death. It is a precious trait I hope he keeps for a long time to come.

    I looked out as the vampires roused completely from their days slumber. I felt a gentle touch against my bare chest. I hadn't put on another shirt since the day before when my fight with Laton and Tabor took place. I looked down to see David's fingers tracing the faint pink lines across the muscled white flesh of my chest where the torch holder had torn through. It was an innocent gesture and one that made me smile as I looked down at him. David glanced up to see me watching him and pulled his hand away as thought he had been stung.

    I wrapped my arm around his waist as we stood side by side and pulled him closer. "It is okay David. Do not be shy about your curiosity or exploration of me, though more in depth scrutiny will have to wait until later." I smiled at the blush that rose in his cheeks as he let his weight press against me. He gazed at the floor fighting embarrassment.

    "You will not harm my David." I felt him nuzzle against me upon hearing my words. "What is left of your Seth is in the bed sheets that lie at the base of his throne, and the blood that pushes through your veins. His memories are now my own. If you cannot find it in you to exist with this reality, step forward now. I will relieve you of your torment as mercifully as I did Seth."

    "Kaitlyn, I see the black of your eyes shining at me." I saw her body stiffen and then relax as she rose to her feet. "Is this too much to ask of you?"

    "Yes," she hissed in reply. She had loved Seth knowing his taste for the male gender, but had not given up hope. Now I had taken away her object of desire and hatred consumed her.

    I don't begrudge her the anger. In many respects it reminds me of the pain I feel for the loss of Kalob. It is however, a problem I will not endure. I understand her rage, but I won't tolerate it.

    "So be it." No sooner had the words brushed past my lips than I sent the fire. It engulfed her completely and in seconds she was nothing more than a pile of ash falling through the air and collecting on the cold stone floor. She never had the chance to take another breath or scream her farewell. Kaitlyn was finished. I listened to the audible gasps as the vampires shrank away from the once living pyre, now made ash.

    "This will not be the fate of those that defy me. Go against my wishes or harbor ill intentions toward my David, and your suffering will be infinite. I have only one expectation of you. Do not become a problem for me to solve. If you have a conflict not of your own making, then take it to Tabor and Laton." I nodded toward Seth's former guards.

    "If you find it is beyond you to resolve a conflict, then you two are to come to me." I held Tabor and Laton's gaze until they nodded their understanding.

    I moved to the empty throne and sat there. It was rather comfortable for pillow covered stone. David had a perplexed look on his face as he stood beside me. As much as his shoulder length brown hair tried to hide his eyes, they still showed his confusion.

    I patted the arm of the throne. "Sit with me if you like, but please make yourself comfortable."

    I wanted David near me. I enjoyed the earthy scent of him. He slid down onto the more than ample arm of the giant stone structure, and leaned against the back.

    Seth's maker now stood in the center of the room. Tabor and Laton hadn't seen him enter. They couldn't have. He was much older and faster than their perceptions could manage.

    I raised my hand to Tabor and Laton instructing them to remain where they stood.

    "Good evening Anthoni. I've been expecting you."

  5. Chapter 1 The Fallen

    As I fell to Earth, my brother Lucif took Kalob's blood and gave his own. The result made him, what you call 'Vampire'. We lived happily together for more than seven hundred years, before the villagers set our house ablaze. They came at dawn, leaving us no escape. If Kalob went into the daylight he would die.

    The fire would not kill me, but would my precious lover. I remember watching as the intense heat began to scald his flesh. Yelled curses behind the roar of flame were the backdrop to my heart's devastation. I remember the horrific screams that escaped Kalob. I held him, and gazed into his eyes until he was only ash. You hairless monkeys turned my love and joy into grey powdery death.

    Night fell; I healed, and rose from beneath the rubble with a hatred never before felt. I killed everyone in Sodom that night. I swept through with such exquisite destruction they still tell the tale, albeit incorrectly. It was not God's wrath, it was mine. Man’s intolerance brought forth such an anguish-fueled rage in me, they had no hope. It was not punishment for forbidden love. It was because of the love they took from me. Kalob and I had been this city's first inhabitants, and I would be its last. Their blood paved my path into oblivion.

    We are not Angels, we are the Slegna. You silly humans always did get things twisted around. We were old when the universe was young, and my mother, was the first. We call her the first, because we know of nothing that came before her. Only she can remember the beginnings of time.

    My father was the second. It has never been mentioned or questioned, as to how much time passed before his arrival. My mother's 'superiority' and 'status' seemed to be a dent to his ego. Together, they had many sons, and I was but one of them. I was not the oldest or the youngest. I was the middle child of thousands.

    I wandered the night for decades, catching glimpses of my brother's work. Christianity had been his biggest joke. Man was so gullible. It still brings a smile to my face, that man could believe that my father gave one of his progeny, as a 'gift'. Our presence in this world is our punishment. The man Jesus was only that, a man. Nice guy, valuable message, but not Slegna. He was the Mozart of peace, but nothing more. Humans do love to spin a tale. Your 'Jesus' was only one of many that, sadly, got nailed. So, before you scream ‘Blasphemer!’ and ready your pitchforks, settle yourselves, and let me tell my tale.

    Man was but a fleeting obsession of my father's. The rock called Earth formed naturally. Given the infinity of time, all is possible, and so you came to be as you are now. The impossible made possible. That most can't comprehend the chaotic pattern was never our concern. What kindness that my father held for you, now lay trapped in a crystal prison. You were on your own.

    You were, however, off limits. The worlds were my father's toys, and not to be touched. He would give a little nudge here or a push there as he watched you like bugs in a jar. What is this 'Hell' place you keep rambling on about? I've never seen it, and I have been to many places. Man created that imaginary place, not Slegna. I've got news for you. If you are supposed burn in Hell for all eternity for not following someone's conception of 'rules', save for a handful, you've all got a fiery future ahead of you.

    Lucif was thrown down for his interference and love of Moses. Unfortunately, my father's rage extended past Lucif and punished Moses as well. My poor brother never had the time I was fortunate enough to spend with Kalob. My bother's stint with Moses was painfully brief. I don't blame him for his bitterness.

    Lucif had done me the favor of giving my lover immortality. It was a blessing and a curse. The centuries went by so quickly that I barely gave them measure. That is, until Kalob was gone. There's not enough blood in the world to paint that portrait of sorrow.

    Joy seems to be measured so much more quickly than pain. Then again, living among you, I've learned pain is what you cling to. I can't say I've handled it any better.

    I left the cool nights and hot days of Sodom for what is now known as North America. The absence of my wings only stopped me from re-entering Haven. Yes I mean Haven, not Heaven, not that any of you would ever see it. I was still able to move in your world as I normally would. Eventually, I found the most desolate, insect-infested, sultry piece of swampland I thought man would never want.

    I went into the ground, slept, and watched fleeting images of civilizations as they rose and fell. I lay in the earth for many centuries hoping my heartache would abate. Then I slept longer waiting for my father's forgiveness. The ache in my heart remained and my father's forgiveness never came.

    You made my resting place into Disney World; an amusement park. I would have burrowed deeper but the music drew me up. Late one night, I pulled myself from the mud, and cried out in the darkness. There was much to learn and experience in this new and fragile time.

    So much had changed. You had discovered the art of science and built a new world with it. I felt the mud dry against my skin as I floated above you. No, my wings were not necessary for flight. Wings gave us the ability to travel between the planes, and now only my father's forgiveness would take me home. He still stood frozen in his crystalline prison, brooding. Remember, he is a very stubborn man.

    I moved through the night and into the surrounding city of Orlando. I bathed in a park fountain and removed the centuries of decay from my skin and hair. My clothing had rotted away, ages ago, during my slumber. I lay submerged in the water, writhing about, until the last remnants of filth left my body. I stood and watched the water travel down my naked white flesh. It felt good to be clean again.

    Even my white unclothed skin didn't seem to draw attention. I walked the streets seeing discarded people and refuse. The people of this time didn't seem to notice one was different from the other. I watched you walk past indifferently, your only concern being the wallet in your pocket. You completely ignored the most unfortunate of your own kind. It was a sad comfort that this much was still familiar to me. Your apathy is infinite.

    The music called me. A rhythmic heartbeat and screaming melody pulled at my chest. The vibrations seemed to tap my soul. I turned down an alley and moved toward the chaotic sound.

    I saw one of my brother's creations taking blood from someone he had lured there. He looked to be about my size and build; I needed clothes. The vampire interrupted his meal long enough to turn my way and stood frozen in terror. He threw away his meal and ran with incredible speed. I chased him as the blur of buildings and concrete edged my vision. I passed by and stopped in front of him.

    The impact against my body broke several of his bones with a sickening crunch as he bounced backward and fell to the pavement. His eyes raged at me.

    "What are you?" he hissed the words as he struggled to put more distance between us.

    "I am nude, and will have your clothing. Whether you give them to me, or I take them from your corpse makes no difference to me. I would prefer them however, without stains of blood."

    In the time it takes to create thought, I closed the distance between us and knelt beside him.

    "Choose."

    I could smell the metallic sweet blood on his breath as I glared into the darkness of his eyes. He began fumbling with his shirt buttons. I stood and backed a few feet away.

    "Faster bloodsucker, it is only pain." My cold words earned another brief glare as he hastened his movement. He pulled the shirt off and tossed it to me.

    The vampire struggled, finally making it to his feet. His body was repairing itself, and I watched for any indication that he may try to run or attack. He was beautiful, but unlike the life that surged beneath my skin, his held only death. My flesh was a vibrant white and contrasted against his sickly pallor. It wasn't a dingy color. It was more of an ashen reminder of what it used to be, now hidden too long from the light. His coloring reminded me of Kalob, and my heart ached.

    I watched the muscle roll across his abdomen as he kicked off his shoes and began removing his pants. His frame was not packed with muscle, though it was certainly there. He was almost wraith-like in shape, looking as though he had missed too many meals before being changed.

    This vampire hadn't been made by my brother. The scent of Slegna blood was very faint. It had been diluted many times before it found its way into his veins, though I could see why he was picked. He was striking; his green eyes engaged me with every glance as his sinewy form rushed to its work.

    He stood in front of me, wearing only his boxers, and tossed me his pants. I pulled them on and moved forward. I knelt and pulled on the shoes, keeping my eyes locked with his.

    I moved beside him faster than his vision could perceive. I pressed my shoulder against his and ran my fingers through the dark-brown hair that fell past his shoulders. I circled him tightly, seductively, and paused on his other side. His only movement was the turn of his head to keep me in sight.

    I leaned in, pressed my lips to his ear, and whispered, "Who made you, vampire?"

    "Jeremy." The amber tones of his voice were strained and betrayed him. I could hear his fear.

    "And who made Jeremy?" I breathed the words into his ear.

    "Seth." His answer was a stutter of absolute contained terror.

    "Is he old, this Seth?" I began my circle of motion around him again, stopping to face him directly. Barely an inch separated us.

    "He is the oldest in the city." He moved his eyes to his feet, trying desperately to avoid my gaze.

    I laughed out loud. The sound bounced between the buildings around us, giving it an almost hollow tone. I couldn't help finding humor in his statement. I remember watching this silly rock when it was only a spiral of dust. These creatures gave so much reverence to time.

    I saw the vampire's body tense as he posed his question to me. "Who made you?"

    He was a brave one! It impressed me. Most would have tried to run before now. I ignored his question and asked another of my own.

    "Where can I find Seth?" I let my lips brush against the flesh of his ear as they formed the words.

    He hesitated, his breath catching in his throat. Only constrained terror could bring about such a human reaction from a vampire, and I reveled in it.

    I don't need your consideration or forgiveness for my sadistic tendencies. You created them. Your hatred created the monster that I am. Your intolerance, your anger, and your unforgiving ways are what birthed the creature I am now. You've offered me nothing but anguish. How could I possibly become anything other than what you made of me?

    "I could just take the information from you, but you wouldn't like it. We've been civil with each other; I see no reason to stop now."

    "He is at Big Bang. 'Filth' is playing tonight. It's about 30 blocks back the way we came. Just follow the music. It's where I was going tonight, before I stopped to feed." I could hear the regret in his words with his decision to give me this information.

    I stood back and placed my hand on his shoulder. I took the remaining damage from his still mending body. The impact had done more harm than I realized.

    "What is your name young vampire?" I smiled.

    "I am David," his voice was much calmer.

    "To answer your question David, I am not a Vampire. I was not made in the fashion you imply. I would ask you one more favor. Go to the club after you have found clothes, and inform Seth I would speak with him. I will be there in an hour."

    David nodded.

    "I'm sorry I harmed you, and brought you to your current indignity, but I had few options. I am in your debt.” I let my eyes travel the length of his nearly nude body. “Whisper my name should you ever need me. I will be there for you. My name is Asher."

    "You're not going to kill me?" David looked at me suspiciously.

    "The dead don't deliver messages." I grinned.

    "Can I go?" he asked, darting his eyes about my frame and the night. He was looking for a rebuke that wasn't coming.

    I nodded my reply, "Certainly."

    I am not sure how fast he ran from me the first time, but he seemed to move much quicker now. I watched the blur of him race away into the darker parts of the city.

    I walked the city streets and looked through the windows of a variety of shops. The people of this time had made everything a convenience. The variety of stores and markets made anything a person might ever want available at a moment's notice.

    I noticed my reflection in the glass under one of the stronger street lights. The tight black denim pants and matching black silk shirt stood out against my skin obscenely. My honey-brown, shoulder length hair had the slightest wave, now that it had finally dried. My black eyes peered back at me from my distorted reflection. I didn't have the striking features that many humans had. The deep blue eyes and auburn hair, but I was still handsome. My parents did not make ugly things. Looking at the many photos of men, my appearance seemed common place.

    I may have slept for the last 1500 years, but I did know the goings on of the world during my slumber. I know beauty is used to sell even the most horrible of things. You called it advertising. Use this product and be beautiful. The obvious deception makes me grin.

    I rose through the air and settled onto the roof of one of the taller buildings that lines your sky and lay against the dew-coated tile roof and watched the stars. The ambient light of the city hid many of them from human eyes, but I still saw them all. The millions of pin pricks of light against a black tapestry brought back memories of Kalob.

    During the last few hundred years of our time together, this had become one of our regular rituals. At least three nights a week we lay on our rooftop, gazing at the universe. The soothing touch of time betrayed me. I felt the loss of him as if it were brand new. I sat up and blinked away my tears. I would not forget him, but I had already given him an ocean of tears. They served no purpose.

    I heard David whisper my name, undoubtedly to Seth, and I moved. Even though I can no longer travel the planes, I can move between the things of this world. Whether it is air, rock, or steel, I can pass through them the same, and without disturbance. I now stood beside David.

    "Good evening."

    The walls surged toward me as nearly twenty very old and somewhat skilled vampires rushed to strike. With a thought, I sent them flying through the air and crashing against the stone walls. Eight of them rushed from their landing toward me, and again I threw them back.

    "I only want to talk to you Seth," I told him while I circled the room healing my attackers. I removed the damage from them with the slightest brush of my fingertips as I passed.

    Skeletal iron hands held torches along the ancient stone walls of the room. The metal fists may have once held real wooden torches, but now lifted man-made replicas fed by natural gas. The effect, however, was the same. The flickering light bathed the room in a yellow and orange glow, with dancing shadows on every surface. The only true furnishing was the giant throne of cushion-covered stone that Seth sat upon. The floor was littered with satin sheets and pillows of every size and shape. These nude derelicts of life, these vampires, cowered into the corners as I continued my walk through the giant chamber.

    "You have many beautiful things Sumerian," I gave a subtle wave indicating the nude vampires that lined the walls, as I stopped and stood in front of him.

    Seth's wide-set, slanted dark eyes showed no emotion. His broad nose drew my eyes to his small upturned mouth that was surrounded by ample round cheeks. He was without doubt, Sumerian, or the last vestiges of what remained of that culture. Those distinct features, framed by his jet-black wavy hair, left no question of his lineage. The faint shudder the moved through his body as I spoke the word ‘Sumerian’ confirmed it.

    The ancient color design of the torc around his neck hinted at tastes of a long forgotten art form. Its design seemed out of place against his small but powerful black leather clad frame. His clothes were modern and seemed almost ridiculously out of era. It would have been no less strange to me, than if you had put a ballet tutu on a Viking warrior. Even though Seth's skin had long since lost its sun-kissed bronze, the olive hue still remained. I would call him more cherub-like than beautiful.

    "You insult me by coming unannounced, and invading my territory without permission, Asher. David will be punished severely for bringing you here." I could hear the undertones of anger in his voice as it sliced through the silence. "It is within my right if I choose, to destroy you where you stand, according to vampire law."

    My raucous laughter buffeted the walls and fueled his anger. As the sound of my laughter filled the room, I closed the gap between us instantaneously. I held his wrists to the arms of his thrown, and pushed my lips to his ear and whispered, "I'm not bound by your law. I am not a vampire."

    An iron torch holder suddenly burst through my chest and I screamed. I let loose of Seth's wrists and struck the body guards that had attacked me from behind, backhanding them and sending them smashing into the stone walls. Seth stared back at me glancing only for a second to the skeletal iron fist that had been plunged into my back, and now pointed its boney finger at him. The burning sensation was almost unbearable as the tissue around the iron seared and smoldered. One of the body guards had ripped a torch holder from the wall and plunged it between my shoulder blades.

    "Order them to stop, or I will destroy you all," I hissed.

    "STOP!" Seth shouted.

    The impure iron continued to sizzle against my flesh, and the finger protruding from my chest was beginning to bend.

    "Now, push it back through." I indicated the iron hand with a curt nod of my head.

    He placed the flat of his hand against the pointed iron finger and gave it a quick, but firm, shove, until his palm was flat against my chest. It fell to the floor behind me with a metallic clank. My blood continued to sizzle and hiss against its surface leaving it a mound of disfigured iron. Seth pulled back his hand to see the wound was already almost completely healed. His palm was coated with my blood. Slegna blood is not the pretty red color of a human's. It is black and honey thick. Seth ran his tongue the length of his hand in a slow, lascivious gesture.

    I took a few steps backward and watched his unfolding ecstasy. I had seen the same reaction from Kalob, on many occasions, during our time together. He was now tasting the blood from the oldest of things. Seth's mouth tore at his own hand to get every last drop of my blood. The whites of his eyes were now gone. Two oval black orbs stared blindly outward as his body thrashed uncontrollably. His inhuman moans ricocheted from the walls of the room.

    "He will be fine," I said to ease his bodyguards' worry. "It will pass in a few moments."

    His two faithful servants had already rushed to his side and were trying desperately to hold him in place. My blood had given him more strength than they could handle. It looked like two men riding a raging bull as they clung to the horns.

    I tore off the tattered remains of my shirt, tossed it to the floor, and waited. Even in the subdued light my white skin seemed to glow. I felt their eyes pressing against me from the shadows of the room. The vampires were studying me. A faint and gentle touch turned my gaze to David as he drew his fingers down one of the long contorted scars of flesh on my back. He traced the gnarled skin with his fingertips where my wing had been so violently removed from my shoulder blade. He seemed consumed in his inspection of the scar; he glanced upward, seeing my movement, and found me smiling at him. He pulled his hand back sharply and dropped his eyes to the floor. The reaction seemed strangely innocent. I say strangely because, what vampire is innocent? They live by taking blood.

    I turned back to where Seth now sat, quietly recovering from his taste of me.

    "Everyone out!" Seth commanded.

    I reached back to David and took his hand in mine. "You may stay."

    Seth's bodyguards looked at him questioningly. He shook his head. I could see the disappointment and hurt in their eyes as they reluctantly left the room. As with any love struck watchdog, they were concerned about their master's safety. They closed the doors and I heard the unseen locks click into place. Seth stood and turned, grabbing the base of his throne, and pushed back the massive stone structure, revealing a set of stairs that led down into the torch-lit shadows. It was an impressive feat. No human or younger vampires could have done it. He was showing his strength.

    Seth led the way as the three of us descended the stairs.

    "Close the entrance behind you please." He glanced back to me.

    I moved the throne back into place with a thought, never breaking eye contact with our leader. He was testing me, perhaps, to find my limits. The absurd notion forced me to smile. I could see the quick calculations in his eyes as he turned and led us further down the stairs. The only sound was the soles of our shoes scuffing against the stone while we made our way down through the shadows.

    Our descent ended as we continued to move forward through a stone hallway, with artificial torches barely lighting our way. I couldn't help but think he had given too much effort to make this resemble his Mesopotamian home. He paused only a moment to press his hands against the surface of the giant stone that blocked our path. The stone was massive. It had to have weighed tens of tons and the ease of movement seemed to surprise him as I listened to his sharp intake of breath. It slid smoothly to the right, opening a doorway into a room of modern luxury. We walked into the cavernous space.

    The stone ceiling was at least eighteen foot high, supported by giant pillars that interrupted the view at thirty-foot intervals. There were four pillars supporting the ceiling. The thirty-foot square area between the square of them was a rising system of stairs that led to his resting place. It most resembled a pyramid between pillars that had been cut in half and made into a loft style resting place.

    Seth glanced back to me. I closed the passage behind us as I had closed the entrance to the stairway, with a simple thought. He would not see my limits tonight.

    He led us to a grey marbled granite table that sat in front of a wall of video screens. Ten across and ten down they displayed the destruction of man. Each screen's focus was a different view of turmoil scattered throughout parts of the world. They were moving pictures without sound, giving glimpses of current death and destruction.

    "Please make yourselves comfortable." Seth moved a short distance to a large stainless steel refrigerator surrounded by fine oaken cabinetry.

    "Care for some refreshment", he asked. His speech still possessed the remnants of the Sumerian pronunciation of words. It was stilted, with the strong enunciation of certain syllables that I'm sure few noticed.

    I sat myself in one of the many extravagant high backed cushioned oak chairs that bordered the marble table.

    "I do not feed, but I know I interrupted your meal." I said to David, nodding to the chair beside me and opposite our host.

    David settled into the chair beside me and offered a barely audible "Yes, please."

    I watched as Seth moved through the open kitchen area. No movement was without purpose. Time does that to a body. Every gesture is deliberate and fluid, and his actions proved he had been dead for a very long time. I estimated his age to be close to 1200 years. This world left him few surprises, and I was one of them.

    Seth placed the fluted glass in front of David as he held his own close to his chest. It was filled with blood and I knew David wanted to drink. The simple pleasures always kept their kind enthralled. I suppose it made the passage of time more bearable.

    I could smell the stronger taint of Slegna blood in the glass. It was far from pure, but still potent compared to the blood that pushed through David's veins. It made me smile that Seth had given the best he had to offer to David.

    "Would you meet your end now or as you sleep," I asked.

    "I prefer the oblivion of sleep, I'm not fond of pain" he answered me with a smile as he sat in the chair across from us.

    David shifted in his seat uncomfortably. I know he didn't understand the inevitable. Seth could not live. He had tasted my blood, and that want would haunt him. I couldn't continue knowing he raged in torment for more, or worry about his subterfuge.

    I tore the pages of recollection from Seth's mind violently, and waded through his thoughts like men do anthills. I continued as David sat quietly beside me until Seth slumped against the table. I had shredded his mind leaving him only with the weakest of memories.

    "Go to your bed and sleep" I commanded.

    Seth obeyed, rose from his chair, and then climbed the stairs to the ornate bed that decorated the center of the cavernous room. As soon as his body rested quietly against the silk fabric, I sent the fire. An angry blaze engulfed him completely, erupting in a spray of ash. His immolation was quick and merciful.

  6. Midnight's Rainbow

    Prologue

    My anguished screams buffeted the walls of the great hall as I strained against the heavy black iron that bound me to the altar. The biting burning smell of seared flesh in the iron rings was barely a distraction compared to the absolute devastation that traveled along my back. I writhed from the horrific pain as my right wing was brutally hacked and chopped away. The chains clanked from my struggles. I watched in horror as my bloodied feathered wing fell to the golden floor like so much dead meat.

    "Mother, please!" I begged through stinging hot tears and blurred eyes. My vision cleared enough to see her bury her sobs in my father's chest.

    My father, the king, had announced my solemn punishment promptly. My brother Lucif had made it his business to see he wasn't alone in his misery. It had been many millennia since this punishment had been given, and now, I was the victim of my father's wrath.

    The Slegna were quick with their duties as they rounded the altar and pushed me against the cold granite. They made short work of my remaining wing as they continued their vicious work. My screams shattered the silence.

    "Witness your wrath father!" I howled as I watched him divert his eyes to the floor.

    I felt the loss of weight as my left wing fell. It was done to me as it had been to my younger brother Lucif. He had interfered with Moses as much as I had with Kalob. I would be exiled to the human world to live out eternity until my father thought better of it.

    I watched as my mother pulled from his embrace and stepped away. She moved down the golden steps toward me.

    "It is forbidden!" my father's voice echoed with a thunderous roar.

    For the first time, I watched her defy him. She healed my wounds with a wave of her hand and I felt the weight of the irons leave me. She turned to face the man I called my father.

    "You forget your place!" The violence and strength of her words shook the hall like a tremor in reality. Age old dust fell from the ceiling of the structure to the floor.

    "As you have cursed them, I now curse you. You will remain as frozen as your heart," Her words were absolute.

    "You will receive my forgiveness, when you have given them yours! The worlds are now truly forgotten."

    I watched as a crystal formed around my father’s feet. It surged around and up his legs as if swallowing him. The crystal moved with purpose and soon encased him completely. His expression of rage and surprise was distorted behind the bends of the octagonal facets.

    "Would you go to him Asher?" My mother turned and lay her hand on my shoulder.

    "Yes." My voice was weak and she bent to hear my words.

    "So be it." I felt the butterfly touch of her lips against my forehead.

  7. -Lucif-

    By DarkShadow

    Prologue

    My screams have buffeted these walls so loudly and for so long, I don’t know if the echoes are old or new anymore.

    We Slegna do not die. We were here when the Earth was only a spiral of dust. My mother is the first. We call her that because none came before her. It is my fault you call us Angels. I must admit, that I fall short of the misconceptions and lies I created regarding the religions. We are Slegna, not Angels, and my father is the one I had you name God. Save your prayers and wishes, however, my mother has encased him in crystal until he has given Asher and myself his precious forgiveness. It’s been over two thousand years and I have yet to receive it.

    I am Lucif, the first to fall from Haven, and am quite literally insane. The agony of time has driven me to it. I never realized that existing could be such exquisite horror as these past few decades have been.

    I was betrayed by my own creations. These ‘Vampires’ you hear so much of turned on me. The iron spikes were driven into my eyes too long ago to remember, and since that time I have known nothing but pain.

    My vampires have milked me for blood like a blinded cow for decades. They have become drunk on my essence and are now quite powerful. Don’t mistake me; I destroyed thousands before they took me down. It was an epic battle, but I was eventually overrun by sheer numbers. Even I did not know of this particular weakness. As one writer so aptly put, ‘The eyes are the windows to the soul’. So long as these spikes jut from my eyes, my essence will remain shattered and weak.

    Before the worlds began, there were two sides of time. Those like the Slegna, that watched harmlessly, and another darker breed that had a more hands on approach. They are the Darmin, which I later tricked man into calling Demon. They are not nearly as weak or as kind as you have made them out to be, but you will find out soon enough.

    A battle raged between us with my father finally taking the forefront. It was within his power to wipe them from existence, but instead he placed them behind the Veil. He like my mother maintains the balance, so the absence of the Darmin would not be tolerated. The gate to that pocket of the multiverse resides on his now forgotten fancy, Earth.

    The Veil is weakening. My father was its creator and he has been detained. I suppose I mention this now because I know my brother Asher has finally awakened. He will come and free me. When that day comes, I will heal, gather my creations, breach the Veil, and finally meet my end. I will suffer no more.

    A familiar sound drew my attention. I knew it well, but this time it wasn’t my skin that felt the puncturing weight of an iron rod. Even stranger, I didn’t hear or smell the sizzle of seared flesh.

    “Asher?”

  8. Hey DS

    I've bugged you by way of E-mail and now I figured out out to do this forum thingy!

    I can't wait for the next Lycan or the Druid for that matter.

    So when will I see Midnight's Rainbow I love your writting style.

    Tim :-)

    Very soon I think. Infact... I may start posting it here today. I've been slacking far too long not to produce something. Today is going to be a writing day, so I best get to it.

    Take care and my apologies for taking so long to get a reply to you.

  9. Looks like your off to a good start DS. I like these characters already. It's going to be interesting to see how things tie in together with the rest of stories you're working on.

    Jan

    Thank you ;) I have posted the edited version of the Prologue and Chapter 1 (Finally) I'm currently working on Midnight's Rainbow and The Druid. It feels like an endless cycle, but I'm having a lot of fun with it.

    Take care!

  10. The Lycan Chapter 1 Prey

    "You will never be pack!" My father's words echoed in my memory.

    I up-shifted again and raced down the interstate feeling the wind press against my body and my hair whipped the back of my neck. I felt free, if only for a moment. My 2007 Victory took me away from my troubles, and my family. I had saved for this bike for almost two years, and now it was my means of escape.

    It was the year of changing for me and I took the shape of a white tiger. It was the ultimate embarrassment for my father. Only females and those of the same sex persuasion took the form of a feline. I had completely disgraced him. I didn't mean to, but I couldn't stop my heart.

    They would have liked to tear me to shreds, but I was too strong. In a fight between Wolf and Tiger, the Tiger always wins. It was a small consolation.

    I've always known I was Agrik, the head of the pack, or in my case, pride. It's a status of strength among my kind, the alpha male. I, however, had no pack, no pride, and now I had no family.

    I had been riding my motorcycle for hours, letting the vibration between my legs keep my mind busy when I spied a stranded motorist in the night amongst the painted sands of Arizona. Normally, I would have passed him and allowed him to become a distant specks in my side mirror, but he was handsome and I liked his scent. He was also in a very desolate part of the desert. This was not a safe place to be.

    I skidded my bike to a stop and pulled onto the shoulder in a cloud of dust and sand.

    "Need a lift?"

    I could feel the cold of the desert against my neck as I balanced the bike between my legs. It may be hot during the day, but at night the desert was a cold, quiet, and lonely place.

    "I would greatly appreciate it." He climbed on the back of my bike and sat intimately close.

    "If you ride with me, I'd like to know your name. I'm Taylor." My words echoed against my ears inside the plastic helmet.

    "My name is,” he stammered a moment and then continued, “Jason."

    He smelled of frustration and cold sweat. It contrasted the earthy aroma that pushed across the desert winds. His scent was intoxicating.

    "Well then, Jason, hold tight." I blushed beneath my helmet and was thankful that it hid my face. I gunned the engine and took off again down the highway.

    I felt his arms fold around me and then dig deeper. He clung to my chest like a newborn. It was comforting and a little more exciting than I should have allowed. I wasn't used to intimate contact and I could feel the Lycan blood stir in my veins. We had been traveling down the road for about an hour when the change began.

    Jason clung to me tightly and I felt my heart flutter. It was the new moon, the recent stresses of my life, and the erotic feel of another male pressing against my back that started it. I was changing again. I slammed on the brakes of my motorcycle and nearly sent us to the pavement.

    "GO! RUN!" My voice was no longer my own. It was too late.

    I hopped from my bike and frantically pulled my clothes off. I knew what was happening and I didn’t want to ruin another set of clothing.

    I fell to my knees as the skin split at my shoulders. I watched Jason stumble up a nearby dune. He wouldn’t get far enough to make it a challenge. I could smell the blood beneath his skin and hear the frantic beat of his heart. He was weak prey. Slow, fragile, not at all a challenge, and I was thankful for it.

    Long claws sprouted where fingernails had been as my hands reshaped into paws. The transformation rippled from my hands and feet toward the center of my body while white and black fur pushed through my flesh. I felt my ears grow pointed as my nose, jaw and cheek bones writhed and stretched to create my catlike visage. The bones in my upper and lower arms grew to match the length of my legs as my palms and arch of my feet elongated. Finally, my tail erupted outward.

    ‘The transition is always painful.’ The words echoed through my mind as I completed the transformation into that which is feline. I kept my human memories but now it was the hunt that guided me. There was always the hunt. Whether we’re in our animal or human form, it lingers in our minds.

    A look of terror painted Jason’s face. It caused a small revelry in my soul as I ran past him. I paused atop the dune and turned to see him staring at me, frozen. I let out a guttural roar and continued into the desert.

    I ran, relishing the silk-like touch of the wind brushing my face. Yellow moonlit eyes dipped into the sand as I scaled the dunes. The fear felt by the nocturnal creatures I passed was real and instinctive. I stopped only to stalk the occasional rabbit, or make a meal of a local coyote. My desire for blood was sated and I padded back to where I had transformed into what I am now.

    It was a pathetic sight. Jason was huddled into a ball at the base of my bike. He would have been smarter to bury himself in the sand for warmth than to lay exposed to the elements. It was obvious he was unfamiliar with the ways of the desert.

    I was nearing the end of my transformation period. The sun wouldn’t rise for several hours, but I had satisfied the blood lust. I tread up next to him, not making a sound, and ran my tongue against his cheek. It tasted of dried tears.

    Jason hollered and jumped back, scrambling away from me. I was still changed and a monster to his eyes. I stood looking at him as he lay cowering in the sand, staring back at me.

    I swallowed, again tasting the salt of his tears, and curbed my animal desires. This one is not prey. I moved slowly forward closing the distance between us. Jason sat frozen, eyes wide, watching what he thought was his death advance upon him.

    I approached him cautiously. He was human after all. I circled him and watched his flesh shudder from fright and cold. I met his eyes and hoped he could see into the soul behind the beast I had become. I nuzzled my chin against his and offered my neck to him. It was the ultimate act of trust in pack or pride though I doubted he knew the significance. His body was cold and I lay down, partially wrapping around him and against him.

    I could feel the tension in his muscles and smell the fear crawling down his back in little droplets. At least 20 minutes passed before his body relaxed and I felt him lean cautiously into the crook of my body. My head rested on his thighs and his head lay just above my hip. My fur, as long as it lasted, would help him stay warm through the night. His body would warm me come morning, as I’d be laying there nude. That was a problem I wouldn’t be able to contemplate long. Sleep overtook my thoughts and left that worry for morning.

    The sun had barely risen over the horizon, stretching its brown and gold claws across the sand when my eyes opened. As expected, I was nude and hard and entangled within Jason’s arms and legs. The morning sun was warming the earth and I wanted so badly to stay in his embrace. It was a comfort I had not felt since my memory began, and now I found myself plotting my escape.

    My mother died giving birth to me. I never knew Kaitlyn, but I have heard she was a remarkable woman of great beauty and poise. Her form was that of a swan and my father defended her with a ferocity few had ever seen. He had remarked on how I resembled her many times over the years and I knew he resented it. I caught him on more than one occasions gazing at me, lost in thought, only to turn his head and feign attention to anything else.

    My father’s new mate, Loren, was one of the more ruthless and conniving creatures that ever walked the earth. I hated her, and she hated me. On more than one occasion I heard their pillow talk.

    “He’s weak, and a danger to the pack Gregory, and you know it” I heard her protests grow in frequency as my day of changing raged closer.

    She could sense what he denied until my first changing. She was elated until I took the form of a white tiger. She had hoped for a lesser feline instead, I’m sure. A fight against me would have been foolish while I was in Tiger form. Instead, I was cast out. ‘You will never be pack!’ I think the words will be forever burned into my memory.

    Now I lay here in the arms of a stranger, naked and not wanting to move but knowing I must. His scent was of air and light, and his body was so warm. I closed my eyes and reveled in the touch of his soft warm flesh. It was a sweet tangled embrace only sleep and unconscious movement brings.

    In pack or pride, physical contact is a primal need. It is an exquisite comfort, and not a sexual thing. To lie and sleep protected, buried amongst your own kind, is a bliss that is difficult to describe. You are surrounded by a small army of those that would fight to the death to protect you. There are no stresses of life as you lay there in the heap of mixed flesh. It is only peace.

    I reluctantly tried to pull away from Jason as he spooned me from behind. I felt his arm pull me back against him with an inhuman strength. His fingers trailed with feather light contact down my chest to my abdomen and then back again. His lips grazed the back of my neck and I leaned back into the touch. His hot breath fluttered against my long auburn hair as I felt him enter me.

    Jason was mating me and my body reacted instinctively. My back arch and I fought against the animal side of myself. His movements were like the slow leisurely flap of wing you see as a bird drifts on currents of air through the sky.

    I knew my body had partially changed back to tiger form. My heated breath and passionate groans were more of a tiger’s growl while Jason only made whispered sounds behind me. His hushed breath and silk-like touch cascaded along my body like a lazy breeze.

    Moments later I was wrapped in angel wings and exploded. My roar against the dawn was matched by a pure shrill cry behind me as I spilled out my joy. I lay panting and trying to catch my breath as the last waves of bliss left me. I opened my eyes to see my cat like claws buried into his plumed arms as I clutched them against my chest. Blood dotted the feathered wings like red fingerprints where I held him. I felt a low rhythmic purr vibrate my chest as I watched my claws pull from his flesh and recede into my hands. The long feathers seemed to merge back into Jason’s arms as I watched the wounds heal from my tight embrace. We had both changed partially to our animal state during the encounter, but not enough to make the act impossible.

    It was then that my mind came back to me completely and the realization of what had happened ignited a new fire. I flung him off of me and leapt into the air, becoming my full tiger form before landing again on the warming sand. I turned quickly, ready to strike when he went aloft into the sky and rose above me. He was a blazing white giant swan circling and swooping at me. He toyed with me for at least an hour, leading me further into the desert, before I finally turned in defeat. You cannot kill what you cannot reach.

    I ran across the sand toward where I had left my bike. I slowed and walked the last few hundred feet before changing back into my human form. I couldn’t see Jason but I could smell him. He was near. I pulled fresh clothing from the saddle bag on my bike and dressed myself. I shook out the sand and any visitors from my shirt and pants from the night before. A scorpion or snake in your jeans is not a pleasant thing.

    “I know you’re there, Jason.” I stuffed the last of yesterday’s clothing into the saddle bag of my bike. I closed the silver studded black leather lid of the bag and cinched the heavy leather strap.

    I heard the small push of sand and spun around to see a naked Jason staring back at me. Considering my sensitive hearing, he had gotten much closer than any normal creature should have been able. Even though he is Lycan, I should have caught his scent, but he was down wind.

    “Please accept my apologies.” He stood there with his shoulders hunched as his hands covered his manhood. His head was tilted downward, but I could see his green z peering through his white-blond bangs.

    “I need your help to get to the next city.” Jason’s voice was almost shrill and haunted with sorrow.

    The desert sun blazed against his delicate ivory skin and accented the curves of his lithe frame. I hadn’t seen his human form in the light of day until now, and he was beautiful. He had, however, mated me. If it wasn’t bad enough I was feline, I had been mated by a bird! I suppose my personal lows were never ending. Had my father been witness to such a thing, I am sure he would have taken every measure to see to my execution. An Agric can suffer only so much indignity. This, I knew, was well over the line. This Tiger’s perverse virginity had been taken by a Swan. What was worse was that I never felt anything so wonderful in my life.

    His speech had a strange regal tone. He spoke stilted sentences, and his words had an odd accent and elaborate enunciation on nearly every syllable. It was good English but, strangely, too perfect, and the origin of the odd lilt in his words eluded me.

    I turned to him and let my eyes ride the curves of his body. “Who are you, Jason?”

    He paused and took an unsteady step backward and answered. “I was my father’s son.”

    “And who was your father?” I shifted my weight in the sand. That he had said ‘was’ did not escape me.

    A moment passed before he answered. “The Eagle King, Jordan.”

    We Lycan have a Monarchy system in place. There are those of the air, like the Eagle, Hawk, and Vulture. There are those of the land, Lion, Tiger, and Wolf, and also those of the water, Whale, Dolphin, and Seal. Of course there are subsets to each group and lesser animals, but these were the dominating houses.

    Jason was the son of the highest ranking house of Air, son and Prince to King Jordan. I had been taken by the second in line to the House of Air, but it was little consolation as I watched an eagle descending behind him.

    “Why didn’t you take my neck when I offered it last night?” I continued to watch the eagle advance from behind Jason.

    “I was frightened.” Jason spoke the words, but his lips barely moved.

    “Trust me now.” I began walking toward him.

    I felt my body transform, again, shredding the cloth covering it. As the Eagle’s hook-like talons were about to tear into Jason, I leapt over him, now in tiger form, and took the Eagle to the ground. My jaws clamped against the great bird’s neck and took the life from him. My claws dug through its chest as I made the killing move. It was over. I didn’t make a meal of the bird. I turned and padded back to the bike and then morphed back to human form.

    “Friends of yours, ‘Prince’?” I reopened the saddlebag on my bike and fished out fresh jeans and a t-shirt.

    “That was my younger brother, Jopal. He was next in line after me.” Jason was now crouched to the ground as he peered through his bangs at me.

    The words made me pause. I turned to look at him and saw a brief flash of light wink at me from a tear as it dropped from his cheek to the sand.

    The pieces of the puzzle were now coming together. Jason’s father was Lycan, and the Eagle King of Air. He wasn’t just Jason, but Prince Jason. I suppose he was not comfortable without the title attached to his name. He looked to be about my age, and I wondered if the reaction to the ‘form’ he took had been more severe than my own. Our situations were similar but different. I had become, thankfully, a stronger creature, but at the same time a disgrace. Jason had become third class, dropping from Eagle to Swan. Our sexual inclinations did neither of us a favor, but I was thankful my father had only cast me out, and not ordered my execution.

    By this time the sun had fully risen and I was becoming uncomfortable with the temperature. Racing along the blacktop, the winds cooled you, but standing still was quickly becoming uncomfortable.

    I rounded the bike, opened the saddle bag, and pulled out the clothes I wore yesterday and threw them at his feet. “Put these on.”

    There wasn’t room for much more than five sets of clothing in the saddle bags. There was my wallet, and a couple bottles of water, a map, but that was it. I was glad I had the chance to pack even that much. I would have to do laundry soon as I had few clothes remaining to change into. Regretfully, one set of clothing lay scattered between us, split at the seams

    “I’m sorry about your brother. I didn’t know.” I glanced back at the carnage I had made of Jopal and slipped on my shades. The desert sun was hard on the eyes.

    I watched as he pulled the denim up his legs finally covering his more private parts. I could see by his reaction, that he was uncomfortable with the remaining grains of sand that grazed his skin. Quite honestly, I didn’t care. I had ruined a set of clothes saving his life and, in my mind, he owed me jeans and a shirt at the very least.

    I climbed onto my bike and steadied the weight between my legs as I shifted forward and off the kick stand. I took the helmet that rested between my legs and offered it to Jason.

    “You coming?”

    Jason slipped my shirt on and I noticed he had no shoes. We’d have to worry about that later. I noticed a large bird circling behind us and didn’t want to chance another encounter. He walked forward quickly and took the helmet from me and pulled it over his head. His sudden urgency didn’t set my mind at ease. It was now late morning and getting hotter by the second.

    “Another friend of yours?” I indicated the circling bird in the distance with my head.

    “Worse… Family.” Jason climbed on behind me. “It would be best to go now. I don’t know how much Luke saw.”

    I had heard a Lycan bird’s vision is beyond that of any other Lycan and now suspected the rumor to be true. That he could discern not only that it was Lycan, but also recognize who it was when I only saw a small brown floating dot confirmed it.

    I turned the key and felt the vibration of the engine between my thighs as I tore out onto the highway. We traveled southeast on route 72 and rode through Lake Havasu City. I stopped in the city of Hope to fill up with gas and we made a quick pit stop in the restroom. There was one gas station, one antique store, and one RV park. What bothered me most was that there was no restaurant and I was starting to get hungry. For a city with the name of ‘Hope,’ it didn’t offer much.

    From here we turned and traveled north east on route 60 until we finally arrived at Wickenburg an hour later. I pulled into the first mom and pop restaurant I found. Thankfully, Wickenburg was a larger town and had some semblance of modern civilization. A large dilapidated sign reading ‘Jake’s Bar & Grill’ was the only indicator that this was a business.

    Jason climbed off the bike and I pushed the kickstand down and backed my bike into place. My thighs ached as I stretched to get off the bike. At first I wasn’t sure my legs would hold me, and I staggered, placing my hand on Jason’s shoulder to keep from falling. I jerked my hand away and stretched my arms to the sky.

    Jason pulled off his helmet. His movements were always graceful. He didn’t seem to have suffered much at all from the four hour ride. I lead the way and we pushed past the first heavy wooden door. We went through a second door and were assaulted by what could only be described as an ‘attempt’ at music. Four members of a small, and obviously local, band banged away at their guitars, drums, and keyboard so loudly it vibrated my skull. Judging by their stops and starts, they were getting in some badly needed practice.

    ‘Country music… Yay… My favorite. NOT!’ There is, of course, some country 0I do enjoy, but what they were spouting was way off the bad end of the chart.

    We gravitated toward a raised table and perched ourselves on top of two of the four tall stools that surrounded it. I ordered a pitcher of beer as the young blond slut placed menu’s in front of us. Her nametag told me her name was ‘Michelle’. I knew she was a slut because of the many lingering scents of men that drifted across my nose. I chuckled as the odor wafted passed Jason and he pinched his eyes shut, snapped his head back, and turned away from her. Michelle didn’t seem to notice.

    “Looks like we got us a couple of city girls here!”

    An overweight freak of a man draped his heavy hairy arms around our shoulders as the scent of used beer oozed from his sweaty flesh. I almost gagged. The music had ended, thankfully, and I heard several chuckles erupt from behind the idiot who rested his weight against us. It was barely four in the afternoon, and this one had obviously started his Saturday celebration early this morning.

    “Nice hair, pretty boy.” He slurred and nearly spat the words at me. He spoke as though his tongue were too lazy to finish his words.

    I pulled away from him and pushed his arm off my shoulder. “If you want to live another day, you’ll find someone else to f**k with.” My voice had already deepened as I let just a small fraction of my feline entity emerge.

    “f****** fags.” His face twisted with anger as liquid courage coursed through his veins.

    Jason’s hand shot out, clutched his grimy dark brown hair at the nape of the neck and bashed our visitor’s face into the tabletop. Our impromptu guest slid to the floor, unconscious. Unfortunately, our guest’s companions didn’t seem to find the humor in the latest turn of events.

  11. The following is a complete work of fiction. Any resemblance between the characters and any real life person is completely coincidental. Please do not copy or distribute the story without the author's permission. Author reserves all copyrights of this story.

    Disclaimer: The following story contains erotic homosexual situations and content. If it is illegal for you to read this please leave now. If after reading this disclaimer you find yourself surprised by the homosexual content, you should be slapped.

    The Lycan Prologue

    His words held a regal kindness but I knew their meaning instantly.

    “Show no mercy. Tear them limb from limb. This is not the time for gentle hearts.” Jason leaned in and pressed his lips against my neck. I felt his fingers crawl up the curve of my neck.

    “You don’t know what you ask.” I wanted to rest in the curve of his body as his fingertips trailed the flesh along my neck.

    It was one thing to change into my animal form. It was yet another to completely give myself to my nature. I had ignored the primal call for too long.

    A surge of energy pulsed through me as my fur erupted along my skin. My roar blended into the mix.

    Dark creatures spilled out from the broken seal and I leapt into the fray. It was going to be a bloodbath, and my tongue was ready to savor each moment.

  12. I'm 34 and began writing July 22, 2006. Yeah... I'm pretty much a writer virgin, but I'm learning. I have to admit, it's not all been as fun as losing my virginity the first time. There's a lot of work to writing. I never realized it before. That was, of course, until I tried to actually do it!

    I'm originally from Illinois, but now reside in sunny Florida! It's supposed to be almost 80 today. Now... for those of you in frozen surroundings... Yeah, that's a dig ;) Keep in mind however, from March through October, it's a little piece of wet hell here. Thank gods for the beach!

    I spat out my first atrocity of 80,000 words in about a month, and titled it 'Earth Reborn'. Then, with a LOT of help from Sterling, spent the next two months trying to fix the bugger. It was grueling, and I never want to read it again. It sits now at GayAuthors.org in it's third revision in the e-fiction section.

    I'm working on three stories at present, something I never thought I'd be able to do. I couldn't imagine writing more than one story at a time a few months ago. Now... I just change the music and get to it. Basically what happened, was that I kept getting new ideas in my head, and had to write them down before senility set in and stole them from me. Well... a few sentences changed into pages, and then grew into chapters, and well... now I'm working on more than one at a time.

    Hmmm... what else... I'm pagan, I'm single, and I don't watch TV. I haven't for the last couple of years, so I'm a bit behind on what's popular, though I do hear the titles mentioned often.

    I absolutely DESPISE politics. If it were up to me, each decision would be made by the people via remote. We get a question, we hit a button, it's tallied up, and poof. We're done. Everyone could submit law requests and everyone would vote. What the hell purpose do politicans server other than to b****.

    If it were up to me (and I'm sure many are glad it is not) there would be no judges in our court system. Only lawyers that are appointed by the court computer. 3 strikes, you're out. Eveyone... no matter how important or unimportant would serve the same punishment for the same crime. Talleyed up depending on severity, and poof. Instant sentence. Shoot a bum, death. Shoot Hugh Grant, well... might have to let that one slide. I don't know what it is about the man, (even though I do think he is attractive) but I just can't stand him.

    Well... I suppose that's about enough random thought. Take care of you!

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