Tag Archives: #vampire

Silently Watching Under The Strawberry Moon

Trembling, he dropped to his knees on the bloodied rug and gently placed a hand on Trine’s shoulder. She whimpered faintly. Taking care not to hurt her even further, the runner scooped her up into his arms and carried her through to his bed. Blood had soaked through the leg of her tight trousers and a second patch was soaking through her cloak at her shoulder. How to stop the bleeding? As a feeling of panic began to creep over him, instinct took control, fading memories of teenage first aid training filtering through. Grabbing a nearby t-shirt, he tore it into pieces then pulled the leg of her trouser up to expose the wound. It looked like a deep ragged knife wound running down her calf, stopping just shy of her Achilles tendon. He applied compression to the wound then bound it tightly with strips of the torn fabric. The Ice Maiden’s wings were folded awkwardly and, fearful that they would break, he eased her into a sitting position, rearranged the feathers to protect them before easing her cloak from her slender shoulders. It slid off easily. Blood oozed from a second deep wound to her shoulder, but he could see that it was already congealing. Taking care not to hurt her, he eased Trine’s top away from the wound, reached for another t-shirt and pressed it onto the wound, unsure how to immediately secure it in place.

In his arms, she let out a sharp cry of pain. Her eyelids flickered then he felt her go limp. Was there something in that shoulder wound? What had caused it? A knife? A shot? An arrow? Regardless, both wounds needed to be cleaned properly and dressed. The beach hut was void of medical supplies. Knowing he couldn’t just take her to A&E, the runner reasoned that the quickest way to get what was needed was to transport himself to the nearest pharmacy. It had been years since he had last set foot in one. The best he could visualise was the local branch of Boots. Holding onto as clear an image as he could recall, he closed his wings round him, silently praying that he’d end up where he needed to be.

Unfurling his majestic, green-tipped brown wings, he opened his eyes and looked round. Hairdryers, curling irons and electric toothbrushes were on the shelves in front of him. Bingo! He’d at least made it to the correct shop. First aid supplies and antiseptic were at the back of the shop. Finding a large plastic bag behind the counter, he filled it with everything he thought he could possibly need, closed his wings around himself once more and transported himself back to the beach hut.

He gauged he’d been gone less than ten minutes.

Pausing to put the kettle on to boil, to give him some hot water to clean Trine’s wounds, he hurried back into the bedroom. The Ice Maiden was lying where he’d left her.

“Trine?” he spoke quietly, trying to keep the panic from his voice. “Can you hear me? Who did this to you?”

Her eyelids flickered but that was her only response.

“Fuck,” he muttered, tossing the bag of medical supplies onto the bed. “Let’s get those clothes off and get those wounds cleaned up.”

Cursing himself, he realised too late that he should have tried to find some antibiotics in the pharmacy. Would they even have been effective on a vampiress?”

It took him a few minutes, but he finally had her stripped down to her silver silk camisole and panties. He’d checked her over for other signs of injury but, apart from a few ugly purple bruises and the nasty gouges on her cheek, he found none.

In the living room, the kettle began to whistle on the stove.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised softly.

Using warm water laced with disinfectant, he bathed her wounds tenderly then carefully dressed them. The stab wound to her leg was still bleeding but the flow of blood had slowed considerably. Her breathing was slow and steady. There were no signs of fever, but she still had not regained consciousness. Positioning her as comfortably as possible, propped up on pillows, he let her rest. With a heavy heart, the runner dragged in a chair from beside the dining table and settled himself to keep a vigil over her.

As the first light of dawn began to streak across the skies, Trine began to stir. At the first sign of movement, the runner was on his feet and by her side.

“Hey, it’s ok. You’re safe,” he said gently, laying his hand on her forehead to check for fever. Her skin was still cool to the touch.

“Pain,” she murmured. “Thirsty.”

“Give me a minute. I’ll fetch you something.”

He returned with a glass of blood infused wine and some painkillers he’d thought to toss into the bag almost as an afterthought.  He held the glass up to her lips.

“Sip it slowly,” he cautioned. “I’ll hunt for us later. This will need to do for now.”

“Tastes good,” whispered Trine, struggling to open her eyes. “Wasn’t sure I’d make it back here.”

“I’m glad you did,” he said warmly. “Now, rest. There’s time to talk later.”

“Stay with me.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere.”

Three days and nights passed before Trine was strong enough to stay awake for more than a few short minutes and felt well enough to get out of bed for a while. She had barely protested when the runner offered to carry her through to the living area to sit by the stove.

He’d hunted the moment it had grown dark, settling for sheep’s blood for them both as he hadn’t wanted to stray too far from the hut. Already he could imagine the farmer’s protests over the loss of two ewes to “dogs”.

Passing a glass of the still warm blood to her, he asked, “Do you feel up to telling me what happened?”

“It was her,” began Trine, pausing to drink deeply from the glass. “She was here. She followed me. Hunted me.”

“Who?”

“The dark angel,” she revealed quietly. “She’s beautiful.”

“She is,” he acknowledged. “But she’s dangerous with it.”

“We flew north. Flew for hours. I lured her away from here. There was a storm. We fought. She stabbed me. I managed to grab her knife. Managed to stab her in the back with her own knife. She fell. I did too,” she paused then continued, “I hid in a church for hours, but some men came. I transported back here before they would see me.”

Telling the abbreviated tale had left the injured Ice Maiden exhausted. The runner refilled her glass, and she drank in silence.

“She said you were hers. Said you were unique. She described you as pure,” Trine paused, her pale face a mask of pain. “She knows you intend to kill her. Knows about the deal with my father. She said he won’t honour it.”

“How could she possibly know about that?”

“I have no idea, but she knew.”

“Do you think she survived?”

Trine nodded, “But I’ve no idea where she may be. Wherever she is, she’s badly injured.”

“Should I look for her?”

“Do you even know where to start to look for her?”

The runner sat in silence, staring into the flames dancing in the wood burning stove. Trine’s question hung in the air unanswered.

By the eve of the full Strawberry Moon, Trine was almost restored to full health. The long light summer nights meant their time outdoors was limited to a few short hours. Neither of them had strayed far from the beach hut while she’d recuperated. Initially, the runner had hunted for her but gradually, over the cycle of the Strawberry Moon, Trine had felt strong enough to hunt locally for herself.

With their thirst quenched with doe’s blood, they sat on the beach in front of the hut, listening to the gentle movement of the river before them.

“I wish we could stay here forever,” whispered Trine, playing with a smooth round white pebble.

“Don’t you miss your life in the castle?” he asked curiously.

Trine shook her head, “No. I’d miss the freedom being here gives me. I’d much rather be here than there.”

“Why do you bring this up now?”

“Because I know my father and he’s going to expect results from you,” she replied. “And soon.”

“But if he’s searched for her for years, why would he expect results from me in only a few months?”

Gazing into his dark brown eyes, Trine said simply, “Because a child always knows the way back to its mother.”

With a long sigh, he confessed, “Well, I used to.”

As the Strawberry Moon shone full and bright over the calm river the next night, the runner sat alone on the beach in front of the hut, deep in thought. He’d barely slept after his conversation with Trine the night before and the little sleep he got was troubled by bad dreams. Putting his hand in his pocket, he pulled out the small white pebble that he’d picked up months before. He sat lost in his thoughts, turning it over and over in his hand.

Although she hadn’t said as much, he guessed Trine knew he was struggling with the thought of actually killing the dark angel. He held onto a false hope that her fight with the Ice Maiden had seen her fall to her death. In his heart, he knew he had to look for her, to at least confirm if she was dead or alive.

“You look troubled, Son of Perran,” commented Trine as she approached him, picking her way carefully over the uneven rocks.

Without looking up, he said, “If she survived the fall after your battle, she’ll have found her way back to her mausoleum.”

“And you know where it is?” Trine’s words were more of a statement than a question.

The runner nodded.

“Go,” she said warmly. “If we can at least report back to my father that you’ve seen her that may stall him for a few more months.”

“Don’t you want me to kill her?” he asked, feeling suddenly confused.

“I want you to keep your word to my father so that you stay in his good graces,” replied Trine honestly. “But I’m not ready for our time here together to end. I’m not ready for you to die, my dear.”

Reaching up to take her hand in his, he said, “I’m not ready for this to end either but I need to check to see if she made it back or not. I need to check her mausoleum.”

“Is it far?”

He shook his head.

“Then go before you change your mind.”

The ground under his feet felt soft as he landed silently in a clearing near the concealed stone tomb. It was the same small clearing that the dark angel had led him to many years before. Moonlight lit his way through the trees as he walked soundlessly towards the mausoleum. There was no sign of fresh footprints near the small stone building; there were no signs of life near it either. Carefully, he walked round to the front. He stopped dead in his tracks. The door, usually tightly closed, was slightly ajar.

With his heart pounding and his hands suddenly sweaty and trembling, he walked towards the door. Reaching it, he pulled on the edge to open it wider. A sense of dread hung over him as he stepped nervously inside. He could smell the distinctive ferrous aroma of blood in the air; he could smell the stomach-turning aroma of decay and excrement. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, the runner thought that the tomb was empty then he spotted something lying crumpled on the floor. Now able to see a little clearer in the dim light, he noted the numerous dead mice and voles littering the stone floor. Cautiously, he approached the dark bundle.

It was her. It was the dark angel.

At first, he thought she was dead then he heard a shallow rasping breath.

She was alive.

Using his cigarette lighter, he lit two of the wall sconces. The flames hissed and spat as the light grew brighter around them.

Slowly, he knelt on the floor beside the prone angel. One of her majestic wings lay at an awkward angle. From the stench surrounding her, the angel had lain there for some considerable time.

“You came,” she whispered hoarsely. “I knew you would.”

“Sh,” he said softly. “Don’t try to talk. Let me help you.”

“Don’t touch me!” she spat venomously.

“I need to if I’m to help you,” he said firmly. Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, the runner produced a slim pewter hip flask.

“Drink this,” he instructed, holding the flask to her parched lips. “It’s still warm.”

Holding her head in his left hand, the runner put the flask to her cracked lips. The dark angel took a few hungry sips then slowly opened her eyes.

“Help me,” she whispered, her eyes silently pleading with him.

“That’s why I’m here,” he assured her, offering her more of the warm deer’s blood.

“My back. The knife,” she said weakly.

“The knife’s still in there?”

“Yes.”

Gently moving her wing, the runner saw the hilt of the knife lodged in the angel’s back between her shoulder blades and close to the root of one of her magnificent purple tipped black wings. Blood was crusted round it and there was a putrid smell from the wound.

“I can’t treat you here,” he said simply. “I’ve nothing to clean that wound even if I can get that blade out. You could bleed out. I need medical supplies. You need a doctor!”

“Do what you must, Son of Perran,” she said faintly. “I trust you.”

Knowing he had but one choice, he lifted her into his arms, taking great care not to touch the knife, wrapped his wings around them both and visualised his destination.

Silently Watching During The Aftermath Of The Hunger Moon

Two long days and nights had passed and there was no sign of Trine returning. He had scoured the local area searching everywhere he thought she could possibly be but had found no trace of her. Exhausted, he’d returned to the hut each day at dawn then slept fitfully until the sun went down. Where was she?

In desperation, he’d risked a daylight excursion on foot into the woodland where the dark angel’s mausoleum stood hidden among the dense trees. A quarter of a century had passed since he had last been there, but he found it easily. The tomb was deserted but the footprints around the doorway suggested that she had been there recently.

Safely back at the beach hut, he picked up a small white pebble. If he left it on the bench in the graveyard, would she still come? Deep in thought, the runner slipped the small stone into his jeans’ pocket.

Breathing heavily, Trine crouched down low in a shadowy corner of the small ancient church. She was unsure of exactly where she was, but she guessed she was some two hundred miles north of the beach hut. It felt like a long way from home. It had been a fraught couple of days to say the least. She was in agony.

As soon as she’d left the safety of the beach hut, she had realised that she was being followed. Hunted.  Her years of study at the Court of the Elders had stood her in good stead. Using her skills, she had flown high, using the low-lying clouds for cover, looping back to circle her stalker. It had taken several hours, and the sun was starting to rise but finally Trine had caught her first glimpse of the dark angel. She was everything she had imagined and more. The dark angel was the most breathtaking vampire that Trine had ever seen. She was beautiful.

With the sun creeping over the horizon, Trine had initially turned for home but eventually she had been forced to seek shelter in a ruined stone cottage high on a remote hillside. When she’d emerged at dusk, there was no sign of the dark angel. With a sigh of relief, she had soared into the night sky to fly home to the runner. Within minutes, the sense of being followed had returned.

The dark angel was tracking her once more.

Part of her wanted to continue to head for the sanctuary of the beach hut. The runner was meant to be seeking out the angel to kill her as agreed and she could easily lead her straight to him. Or was he? Was he too stalling for time here? If she led the dark angel back to him, he’d be forced to uphold his deal with her father then she’d be summoned back to the castle. She wasn’t ready to go back there.

The only alternative was to keep heading away and try to lure the dark angel into danger.

As she flew further north, Trine flew over several small remote islands. Some looked inhabited; others looked to only be home to flocks of seabirds. There was a storm brewing and the Ice Maiden prayed that she could find shelter before the storm struck or the dark angel did.

Suddenly, she became aware that dark angel was close – very close. As thunder peeled overhead, she felt a sharp pain in her calf. Glancing round Trine saw the dark angel within arms’ reach, a dagger in her hand. Swooping round, the Ice Maiden made a grab for the dark angel’s wrist. She wasn’t swift enough. The dark vampiress caught her by the arm, burying the knife deep into her shoulder. Screaming in agony, Trine kicked out hard and fast, managing to knock the blade from her assailant’s grasp. Kicking out for a second time, she connected with the angel’s shoulder and heard a crack.

With a howl, the dark angel flew at her reaching for her injured shoulder. Trine was too quick for her and soared up and away out of reach. Within seconds the dark angel was on her tail.

Their eyes locked as they stared at each other.

“He’s mine,” hissed the dark angel as she pulled a second dagger from her waistband. “Mine! Not yours! Mine!”

Before she could use the knife, Trine had whipped it from her hand and plunged it into her back between her majestic wings, twisting it as she drove it in. Fighting to remain conscious, the dark angel lashed out, her long nails raking down the Ice Maiden’s pale cheek.

“Looks like he’s mine now,” stated Trine, trying to sound calm and in control.

“You don’t know how to care for him, little girl. You don’t know what he truly is.

“And what is he?” demanded Trine, the roaring wind making it difficult for her to be heard.

“He’s unique! One of a kind. He’s pure!”

“Pure?”

“Yes. Pure,” spat the dark angel. “Even he doesn’t know what he’s capable of yet.”

Lightning cracked across the sky to the northwest of them.

“You’re nothing to him,” declared Trine icily. “Let him be.”

“Why? So he can do your father’s bidding and kill me?” laughed the dark angel through her pain. “Yes, I can guess the deal he struck with the court. Even if he does choose to kill me, Stefan won’t be able to uphold his end of the deal. Fate will see to that.”

Around them the storm was closing in.

“What do you mean?” screamed Trine, trying to make herself heard over the howling wind.

“You’ll find out, Ice Maiden.”

Another crack of lightning lit up the sky above them. Trine felt the air crackle and when she looked again the dark angel was gone.

Realising the danger she was in, she swooped down in search of somewhere to shelter for the night. As the storm hit, she crawled into the sanctuary of an old church. Finding a dark alcove deep in shadow, Trine had finally collapsed in a heap on the cold stone floor.

Crouched in the shadows, pain shot through her shoulder and her calf. Biting down on the edge of her cloak to prevent herself from crying out, Trine listened. She could hear male voices approaching. She had to escape.

Injured as she was, she knew she couldn’t fly back to the beach hut. She would have to try to transport herself there, but she was weak. Regardless she had to try, and she needed to act fast.

Just as the two men opened the church door, Trine stood up unsteadily, balancing on her good leg, wrapped her wings around herself and vanished.

Dusk had settled on the beach hut marking the third night since Trine’s disappearance. Flames were dancing in the wood burning stove. With a heavy heart, the runner sat staring in through the glass panel on the stove’s door. He had his hand in his pocket, playing with the smooth white pebble. If Trine wasn’t home by dawn, he’d visit the graveyard and summon the dark angel. He was ready to confront her. Part of him was worried that he’d waited too long already.

A loud clatter from Trine’s room made him jump to his feet. He was across the room with inhuman speed, his feet barely touching the floor. Drawing back the curtain, the runner let out a cry, “Shit!”

Trine lay in a bloodied crumpled heap on the pale cream rug.

Silently Watching at the Hunger Moon

A thick blanket of snow covered the area. It had fallen thick and fast for more than two days, creating the deepest snowfall in the area for almost a century. Nothing stirred outside the beach hut. The coastal path had all but disappeared; the dog walkers had stayed away. All was silent and still.

Inside the beach hut was a different scene. Now extended to three full rooms, it was warm and brightly lit. When he had built on the bedroom for Trine, the runner had partitioned off his own sleeping space. They used heavy curtains instead of doors, but it was more than enough to afford them their privacy. When the bedroom had been complete, he’d allowed Trine free rein on how it was to be furnished. He had built a platform to serve as her bed with storage boxes underneath. Within a couple of days, Trine had sourced bedding, cushions and curtains for the small west-facing window. She had laid a cream deep-pile rug on the bare floor. Under the cover of darkness, the runner had made a couple of trips to his former home bringing a small chest of drawers and a large vanity mirror from his daughter’s old room.

Over the weeks, Trine had added some touches to the living room too, making it more homely. He hadn’t objected.

Pouring the last of the deer blood that she kept in her leather flask into the open bottle of wine, Trine said simply, “Snow or no snow, we need to hunt tonight.”

“That could be risky,” commented the runner, accepting the wine glass from her. “We can’t risk leaving footprints or blood stains on the snow.”

The Ice Maiden nodded, “And we can’t bring our kill back here.” She paused to take a sip from her own glass then said, “We may need to take a human life, Son of Perran.”

“No,” he said firmly, shaking his head to emphasise his disagreement. “I won’t.”

“It’s been over a week since we both drank warm blood. We need to hunt soon.”

“I know,” he said with a sigh. “Tomorrow.”

“It needs to be on a cloudy night,” stated Trine. “Tonight is perfect.”

“Fine. We’ll hunt tonight,” he relented.

“We could go together,” suggested Trine softly, reaching across to touch his hand.

“We could,” he agreed smiling across the table at her. “We could.”

Hidden by the shadows, the dark angel crouched behind the rocks to the east of the beach hut, watching closely as the runner- her runner- and his vampiress left presumably to hunt. Her patience had finally paid off! The hut was empty at last. Now was her opportunity to discover who this mysterious woman was.

The dark angel watched as the runner and the Ice Maiden disappeared into the dark to the north then, satisfied that they would be gone for a while, she approached the hut. Drawing her majestic wings around her, she transported herself inside.

Scanning the room, she took note of the two wine glasses on the table before exploring the bedrooms. There was little of interest in the runner’s sleeping space. His bed was neatly made, not a thing out of place. She ran her fingers lightly over the framed photo of his family that sat beside the bed. Slowly, she inhaled the room’s aroma, relishing in the smell of him. She could almost taste that toxic exotic blood of his.

The Ice Maiden’s room was a different affair. Her bed was a crumpled mess of quilts, blankets and pillows. There were no personal effects on display to give any clues as to who she was. Several shells lay in a dish on the chest of drawers. Collected from the shore in front of the beach hut, guessed the dark angel. The only other item on top of the pine unit was a hairbrush with long strands of platinum blonde hair entwined in its bristles. Carefully, she knelt down beside the bed and slid open one of the two deep under-bed storage drawers. Inside were some books, some journals and few loose pens rolling around the bottom. The journals were filled with drawings of wild-flowers and seabirds with the occasional portrait of the runner. One caught her eye and without thinking, the dark angel tore out the page and slipped the picture into her cloak.

The second drawer was filled with the Ice Maiden’s clothes. Something, however, drew the dark angel to explore the contents further. She rummaged under the neatly folded garments. Her slender fingers found a small suede leather pouch, containing something round and hard. Taking care not to disturb the clothes, she withdrew the pouch and opened it. Inside was a small crystal ball. Carefully, she tipped the heavy ball out into her hand and gazed into it.

At first the dark angel saw nothing in it and was about to return it to its pouch when she noticed the glass appear to shimmer. Gradually it cleared to reveal a scene inside. Her blood ran cold as she recognised Stefan, the head of the Court of the Elders. Swiftly, before her side of the scene emerged in the crystal ball’s twin, the dark angel dropped it back into its suede bag.

So, the Ice Maiden was connected to the Court of the Elders but who was she? If the ball was what she thought it was, it would show the person who had gifted it to her. The only person in the scene that had begun to emerge had been Stefan. Was the Ice Maiden his precious daughter? Still mulling this over, she returned the crystal to its hiding place and closed the drawer.

With a quick glance round to check that she hadn’t left anything out of place, the dark angel drew her wings round herself and disappeared.

A small black, purple tipped feather fluttered to the floor.

A large log was ablaze in the fireplace in Stefan’s study. The Court of the Elders had been deep in discussion all day about some troublesome vampires in Rome, who were embroiled in a territorial dispute. Against his better judgement, he had agreed that Alessandro should go alone and intervene to ensure peace was restored. With a yawn, he reached for his wine goblet. He really should have gone out to hunt but he was weary. Sipping the warm blood infused wine, Stefan vowed to hunt just before dawn. Beside him on a small table next to his chair sat a crystal ball, the twin of the one he’d entrusted to Trine when she’d left the sanctuary of the castle. A flicker of purple light in the globe caught his attention. Curious, he lifted the ball from its stand and studied it. There were wisps of purple smoke in it but no clear images. It should be blue not purple, he mused as he looked deep into the sphere. Who had found his daughter’s crystal ball? Shaking his head, Stefan decided it must have been a trick of the light. His daughter was well versed in their ways and knew to keep the crystal on her person at all times. She would not have left it unattended. He placed it back on its stand as the last speck of purple disappeared.

Light was beginning to streak the sky to the east as the runner and Trine arrived back at the beach hut. His sixth sense was twitching as they stood in the courtyard outside the hut. Before unlocking the door, he stood studying the footprints in the snow.

“What’s wrong?” asked Trine, drawing her cloak around her tightly to ward off the icy cold easterly wind.

“I’m not sure,” he said as he fished the key from his pocket. “Feels like someone has been here.”

“The snow from the path is untouched and its only our footprints on the beach,” observed Trine looking round the area.

“I know,” he agreed, opening the door. “It just feels… feels off.”

Inside the cabin, everything was exactly as they had left it several hours beforehand. The only difference was that the fire was down its last glowing embers.

“I’m ready for sleep,” declared Trine with a yawn.

“Me too,” agreed the runner. “Let me add some wood to the stove to keep the place warm.”

“I could keep you warm,” teased the Ice Maiden playfully.

“You could.”

“Your bed or mine?” she quizzed with a mischievous wink.

“Mine,” he replied without hesitation. “It’s bigger. More room.”

Alone in her mausoleum, the dark angel paced backwards and forwards trying to reason out why Stefan’s daughter should be here with the runner. They may not have parted on the best of terms, but he was still her fledging and she was bound to him. She’d allowed her temper to get the better of her and been too lax in her observation of him for too long. Drawing her cloak around her, the dark angel contemplated her next move. The last thing she needed was the Court of the Elders poking their noses into things. If they found out about all the rules she had broken, she would be taken to their hidden castle, put on trial and either sacrificed or sentenced to eternal life in the castle dungeons.

If the Court of the Elders and Stefan had discovered the runner’s existence, it could also mean certain death for her regardless. Her last sentence from them, more than two centuries ago, had forbidden her from creating another creature of the night. At the very least, she had to learn more about the mysterious vampiress who was sharing his cabin with him. Who was she and why was she there?

It was the blue hour, the hour just after sunset when the last light of the day added an extra clarity to the world. Stepping outside the beach hut, Trine breathed deeply, drinking in the crisp, cold, salty air. A cold wind blew across the river from the north east, its chill biting at her pale skin. She could see the full moon, the Hunger Moon, rising above the hills. With a smile she thought that she’d satiated  her hunger on their hunt the night before. But, after spending the night with the runner, Trine was keen to hunt again.

A crow sitting on a nearby rock caught her attention. It might have been her imagination, but she felt sure it was watching her. She could feel its eyes boring into her soul. In the dying light of the day its feathers looked almost purple in places. Something about the bird made her uneasy. Turning her back on it she returned to the warmth of the beach hut.

As the door closed, the crow spread its wings and flew up to perch on the roof to watch and wait.

Once back inside, Trine checked on the runner. He was still sound asleep, sprawled across the bed, his wings relaxed over him. Even in sleep, a satisfied smile played on his lips. Resisting the urge to caress him, the Ice Maiden returned to her own room. Having drawn the curtains and lit the oil lamp, she knelt down beside the bed and opened the drawer. She rummaged among her clothes and pulled out the pouch containing the crystal ball. As she gazed into its depths, her father’s study came into focus. Probing with her mind, she tried to reach him. Her efforts were met with silence. His study lay empty.

“Well, at least I’ve tried,” she thought as she returned the suede bag to its hiding place.

A small feather lying on the rug caught her attention. It was black with a purple tip. Gently, she picked it up, noting how pretty it was. On a whim, she tucked it into the edge of the frame of the mirror that sat on top of the chest of drawers, silently wondering where it had come from.

Time to hunt, she thought as she headed back to the warmth of the main room. There was nothing lying about that she could use to leave a message for her sleeping host. Guessing he would sleep for another hour or two, she decided to hunt swiftly in the hope she could return before he stirred. Taking care to be quiet, Trine slipped out the door.

Feeling the snow on the courtyard cold under her feet, she checked to see that there was no one around then spread her wings and soared into the night.

With barely a second’s hesitation, the dark angel transformed back from her crow disguise and soared off into the darkness, keeping the Ice Maiden in her sights.

The beach hut was silent, dark and cold when the runner finally stirred. Without lighting the bedside lamp, he dressed and wandered through to add more wood to the stove. There was no sign of Trine. His sixth sense was twitching. Something was amiss. Quickly, he checked outside to see if she was sitting on the rocks beside the hut she wasn’t there. He could see her footprints in the fresh snow outside the door of the hut and little scrapes in the snow to either side from the tips of her wings. Something still felt wrong to him. On a whim, he decided to check her room to see if she’d left a note or any clue as to where she’d gone.

Her room looked exactly the same as it always did, apart from one of the drawers under the bed was pulled out slightly. Everything else looked to be in its rightful place. Then his eyes fell on it. The purple tipped black feather tucked into the mirror. It could only be one of the dark angel’s feathers.

Suddenly he was consumed with dread. She’d been here. He’d been right when he felt that something was a bit off. His creator had been in the hut the night before while they’d been hunting. However, that didn’t solve the current puzzle. Where was Trine?

Silently Watching under the Corn Moon

dark-angel

Feeling sand under his feet, the runner sensed he was finally home. He felt the chill wind blowing across the river as the Ice Maiden retracted her wings. Blinking to adjust his eyes to the dim light, he gazed round.

“Home sweet home,” said Trine with a smile.

“Sure is,” he replied as he gazed up the beach towards his humble home. “Nice to know where I finally am again.”

Ignoring the hint of sarcasm in his voice, Trine began to walk across the uneven rocks towards the stone steps that led up to the hut. Without another word, the runner followed her, taking care not to turn his ankle on the loose rocks.

There were leaves and piles of debris blown into the corners of his small enclosed courtyard. It didn’t escape his notice that there were several vodka bottles and discarded fast food packaging among the debris. It seemed that the local youths had discovered his home was empty. Fortunately, they hadn’t broken in and the stout door remained securely locked.

Pulling the key from his jeans pocket, the runner unlocked the door then stepped aside chivalrously to allow Trine to enter ahead of him. The air in the cabin smelled stale and slightly damp.

“Give me a minute or two to get the stove lit,” he said, laying his key on the table. “Soon be warmer in here.”

“Can I do anything to help?”

“You could light the lamps,” he suggested, reaching into the basket beside the woodburning stove for some kindling, “Matches are on the table.”

Once there was a fire burning in the stove and the lamps had been lit, the beach hut felt more homely. Having closed over the curtains on the two small windows, the runner rummaged through the small cupboard under his bookcase and found a bottle of red wine and two glasses.

“Not quite up to your father’s standards,” he apologised as he handed Trine a glass.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “I should ask him to send some to us. Keep out the chill.”

“Sorry I can’t match the luxury of his castle.”

“Nonsense. This is perfect. Cosy.”

“Very,” he commented, glancing round. “I’m not sure how we’re going to make this work. I’ll see what I can sort out tomorrow. You can take the bed tonight though. I’ll sleep in the chair.”

“I can’t take your bed from you,” said Trine simply. “You rest and I’ll explore. I need to stretch my wings and I also need to hunt.”

“Be careful,” he cautioned warmly. “Head inland over the hills if you’re ok with a dinner of sheep or cow.”

Trine nodded, “I just want to get a feel for the area.”

“If you’re planning on looking for her, you won’t find her,” cautioned the runner calmly. “She’s an expert at staying out of sight.”

“Do you have any idea how you intend to kill her?”

“No,” he lied, gazing down into his glass. “I’ll work something out. I need to regain her trust. We didn’t exactly part as friends last time.”

“Do you even know how to summon her?”

“No” he lied for a second time.

 

After Trine headed out to hunt, he washed the two wine glasses then got himself ready for bed. It felt good to be home. Good to be back in his own space. Lying on his side in the comfort of his own bed, he gazed at the photo on the bedside table and smiled. He’d missed seeing his family before he fell asleep at night.

Tired though he was, sleep refused to come, His lies from earlier were gnawing at him. In his heart, he hadn’t decided when to kill the dark angel, but he was in no rush to take action. Killing her in cold blood felt wrong. Summoning her would be easy. All he needed was a white pebble to leave on the bench in the graveyard. However, if he requested any audience, how would he explain his renewed interest in her? They hadn’t spoken since she’d told him he was on his own. He would need to work out a believable excuse for asking to meet with her.

His eyes finally grew heavy and he drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep.

 

The sun was rising as Trine returned to the beach hut after a successful night’s hunting. She had flown into the hills to the north across the river and stumbled across a herd of deer. Before the herd and noticed her presence, she had drained two does dry and harvested the blood from a third into the leather flask she carried in her pale blue cloak.

Instead of heading straight indoors, the Ice Maiden took a walk along the water’s edge, watching the sky to the east turn from red to gold as the sun broached the horizon. She slipped her hands into the deep pockets of her cloak. Her right hand found a small crystal ball hidden in the depths of the soft fabric. It had been a parting gift from her father; it was a way of communicating with him should she need to.  She had an almost overwhelming urge to hurl it into the dark depths of the river beside her but, on second thoughts, decided to keep it for now.

The gentle lapping of the waves soothed her as she walked along the shoreline. Gazing out across the river, she could understand why the runner had chosen to settle here. It was so peaceful. It felt safe. For the first time she was completely free of the confines of the castle. Freedom was something she craved. This was the first time in her life that had father had removed the enchantment on her that bound her to the castle. He had removed it as a precaution in case she fell foul of the dark angel and she used it to trace her way back to the Court of Elders. Trine realised if she chose to, she could disappear for ever; if she left the crystal ball in the hut, Stefan wouldn’t know anything was amiss until she was long gone. With a small smile, it dawned on her that she could become as elusive as the dark angel if she chose to. However, if she messed up this assignment, she would never be invited to joint the Court of Elders. Trine felt torn. Glancing up at the beach hut she sighed… then there was the runner himself. Just thinking about him sleeping inside made her smile and lit a little flame of affection inside her. As she climbed the rough stone steps up to the courtyard, Trine prayed that he wasn’t in a rush to kill the dark angel.

 

Feeling the cold blast of air as Trine opened the door, the runner looked up from fastening his jeans. The Ice Maiden felt her cheeks flush as he turned his back to her. Spotting the Celtic tattoo across his back for the first time she said, “That must have hurt.”

“What must have?” he said as he lifted his shirt from the bed.

“The design on your back.”

“Nipped a bit,” he confessed. He paused to put his shirt on, shaking his shoulders to ensure the split fabric settled neatly between his wings. “She designed it for me.”

“Why?” quizzed Trine, her curiosity getting the better of her.

“She gave me a box of phials of some concoction to pour into the wing buds to stop them forming. There was some weird moss in the box too. The two centres of the design marked the spots I needed to pierce every month to pour the stuff in. Worked too until those little bottles ran out.”

“What was in them?”

“No idea. Some kinds of flowers and herbs. Lavender and Thyme and shit like that. The bottles, the moss and the design all formed part of some trinity spell or something. They were all connected.”

“And no one questioned why you’d suddenly got a huge back tattoo?”

He shook his head, “No. I already had a couple anyway. My wife actually really liked it.”

“How did you pierce your own back?” quizzed Trine as she watched him fill the kettle.

“You don’t want to know,” he replied as he set the kettle on the stove. “How did you get on last night? Successful hunt?”

“Very. Found a herd of deer about thirty miles north of here. Satisfied my thirst,” she answered with a yawn.

“Coffee?”

She shook her head, “Sleep.”

“Bed’s all yours,” he said with a grin. “I’ll give some thought as to how we can rearrange things in here. There has to be a way to give you some space of your own.”

“Waken me at sunset,” said Trine as she slipped off her cloak. “I want to teach you something.”

“What?”

“Patience, Son of Perran. You’ll find out at sunset.”

 

While the Ice Maiden slept, the runner sat at the small pine table attempting to redesign the layout of the beach hut. It didn’t take him long to work out that he would need to extend his hut to add on an extra sleeping space. Quietly, he slipped outside to measure up the courtyard.

By late afternoon, as the sun began to sink lower in the sky, he had worked out a plan. He still had some spare building materials stored in the garage of the family home that should be sufficient to extend the hut out into the courtyard. If his memory served him right, there was a small window frame in the garage too. The next puzzle was how to transport it all down here.

“Hello,” said a sleepy voice behind him.

“Hey! I never heard you come out,” he said, turning to face Trine. “I think I’ve figured out how to create more space for us. Going to take me a week or so but I think I can make this work.”

“What did you have in mind?” she asked, drawing her cloak about her to ward off the chill wind.

“I can extend the hut out into the courtyard at the west side,” he explained pointing round to the far side of the cabin. “I’d left space back there to build a woodshed and maybe a small workshop, but I can pile the logs up round here. I’ve some building stuff in the garage at my old house. I just need to work out how to get it down here.”

“Sounds like a lot of work just to give me somewhere to sleep.”

“Sounds like a fun project to me,” he said with a grin. “Keeps me busy.”

“Well, what I was going to teach you might actually help,” revealed Trine softly. “There were limits to what I could show you back at the castle, but things are different here.”

“What are you talking about, girl?”

“I’m going to teach you how to transport from one place to another,” she declared, smiling at him. “My father forbade that lesson at the castle but he’s not here now. Once you get the hang of it, we can both move whatever you need down here.”

“Cool,” he said, feeling slightly apprehensive at the thought. Being transported wrapped in another vampire’s wings always made him feel a little queasy and left him with a dull headache.

“Don’t look so nervous,” she laughed, “It’s easy once you know how.”

 

Patiently, Trine explained the theory behind transporting from place to place. She explained that the key to its success lay in the ability to focus on the vision of where you wanted to go. If concentration levels wavered, things could go off course, so a clear mental image was crucial.  Suggesting that they start off small and with short distances, Trine proposed that he attempt to transport then across the path behind the beach hut and into the field beyond.

“Ok, put your hands round my waist then draw your wings round me. You need to make sure your wings overlap slightly. No gaps. You don’t want to drop me,” coached Trine calmly. “Once you are happy with where your wings are, focus on where we are going and keep that image in your mind. Do not let that image move. Then say, “rape ad locum oculo meo”.”

“What does that mean?”

“Take me to the place in my mind’s eye,” she translated. “Ready to try?”

Reluctantly he nodded.

“Ok. Concentrate on the field,” said Trine.

He placed his trembling hands on her slender waist then drew his brown wings round her, trying to focus on the image of the field. Quietly he repeated the Latin phrase then felt the world go still and dark.

Seconds later he felt soft grass under his feet. For a brief moment, his concentration wavered, and they tumbled to the ground in the field across from the hut. A rather startled looking sheep was staring at him.

“Not bad,” laughed Trine as she got to her feet. “Concentration is the key.”

“Yeah I get it,” he said as he brushed some damp grass from his jeans.

“OK. Take us back,” instructed Trine. “Perhaps aim for the beach behind the house rather than the space outside, Gives you a little more wiggle room for the landing.”

Nodding, he focused on an image of the stony shoreline behind the beach hut, wrapped his wings around them, recited the phrase and waited for the darkness to descend, At the last second his mind wandered to the water’s edge.

“Agh!” squealed Trine shrilly as they landed knee deep in the river. “It’s cold!”

“Sorry. Kind of overshot that one,” laughed the runner.

“At least you didn’t drown us,” laughed Trine as she walked ashore, her wing tips dripping. “Try again. Back to the field.”

Darkness had fallen by the time the runner could successfully transport then back and forth from the field to the beach.

“Well done,” praised the Ice Maiden as they headed back indoors. “You learn fast.”

“Thanks. Sorry about the wet feet,” he apologised following her into the hut. “How does it work for moving objects?”

“You hold onto them tightly and follow the same process,” replied Trine, reaching into her cloak for the leather flask. Pouring some of the doe’s blood into the open bottle of wine, she said, “Tomorrow night we can fetch whatever you need from your home.”

“Sounds like a plan,” he agreed, accepting the glass of blood-infused wine from her. “Does that trick work for getting food and things?”

“It works for anything and everything,” she replied. “Why? What were you wanting?”

“Some fresh bread and maybe some cheese to go with this,” he said, raising his glass.

“As you wish,” said Trine, setting her glass down on the table. “You’ve earned it.”

 

The clouds parted to reveal the bright full Corn Moon. Its light swathed the fisherman’s hut in a soft welcoming glow as the dark angel landed softly in the small courtyard. There was smoke drifting out of the chimney and light in the windows. Silently, she stepped forward to look into the cabin. Her blood ran cold at the sight she saw. The runner, her runner, was sitting at the table enjoying wine and cheese with a stranger to her. That stranger had wings. That stranger was another vampire but who?

This was not a welcome sight. A sour taste in her mouth, the dark angel turned away from the window, spread her wings and soared up into the darkness.

 

“What was that?” asked Trine, turning towards the window. “I thought I heard something outside.”

“Let me check,” said the runner calmly. “Probably kids looking for somewhere to get hammered or laid.”

Crossing the room, he opened the door and stepped out into the darkness. The courtyard was empty. All around was silent apart from the gentle noise of waves hitting the beach. Then he spotted something. Bending down, he picked it up. It was a small black feather with a purple tip. He slipped it into his pocket.

“No one there,” said the runner as he closed and locked the door.

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Silently Watching on a Mother’s Moon

dark-angel

 

Shaded from the May sunshine, the dark angel sat on the church roof under the shelter of a towering horse chestnut tree. It was mid-afternoon and the local schoolchildren were slowly and noisily making their way up the steep hill. The tantalising smell of their youthful blood was teasing her senses. She hadn’t fed for a week and forbidden young blood was a tempting thought. Watching the kids closely, she spotted that two had peeled off from the group and were disappearing up the single-track road passed the graveyard. Should she? The thought lingered……

 

Restlessly, he paced the large room that he had been escorted to following the meeting with the Court of Elders. There had been no sign of Trine in the hallway as he had been led down the long corridor and up a tight, twisting, stone staircase to the room he was now in.

The room was round with several long narrow windows affording him a spectacular view over an unknown mountain range. Most of the peaks were snow covered. There were no obvious signs of any towns or villages. Not knowing where he was in the world unnerved him. He felt trapped. Imprisoned.

A tray of food lay untouched on the table beside the large fireplace. He didn’t feel hungry. He paused his pacing to stare into the flames of the log fire that was burning in the hearth, listening to the hiss and spit of the sap as it oozed from the largest log. Several small flames danced along the length of the burning piece of wood.

Behind him, the door opened with a squeal of rusty hinges and a creak of old oak.

He smiled in spite of his sour mood when he saw Trine step into the room.

“You haven’t eaten,” she noted as she stepped towards him.

“Not hungry.”

“You need to eat.”

“I’m not hungry,” he repeated.

“Then at least have a glass of wine with me,” encouraged Trine, pouring them both a generous glass of dark red wine. “It’ll quench your blood thirst.”

Without waiting for his reply, she passed him the glass, their fingertips grazing each other as he accepted the glass.

Trine smiled.

“How long does your father intend to keep me here? I feel like a prisoner,” quizzed the runner, unable to mask his exasperation.

“I don’t know. The Court of Elders is still in session. I’ve not been able to speak with him yet,” apologised Trine quietly. “I’ll wait with you though. You’re his guest not his prisoner.”

“A guest who isn’t allowed to leave his room.”

“Patience, Son of Perran,” chided Trine with a smile. “I might not be privy to them but I’m sure my father has good reasons for asking you to stay.”

“I wasn’t asked,” he muttered.

In an effort to change the subject, Trine said, “I grew up here. Spent my childhood roaming every inch of this place.”

“Where are we?” asked the runner, hoping she would reveal their location.

“A long way from your beach hut,” she replied evasively. “I can’t tell you our location. It’s forbidden.”

“Why am I not surprised!”

“What happened when you went before the Court?”

Walking back across the chamber to the window, he replied, “Your father asked me if I would kill her.”

“And will you?”

“For a price.”

“You bargained with the Elders?” exclaimed Trine, eyes wide with shock. “That’s unheard of! Well, unheard of and for you to still be alive to tell the tale.”

“Your father agreed to the deal in the end.”

“Wow! You must have really impressed him.”

“He did,” came a familiar voice from the doorway. “Trine, a little privacy if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, Papa.”

 

Without moving from his stance by the window, the runner watched Trine glide gracefully from the room, closing the door behind her.

“Our deal should remain a secret between yourself and the Elders for now,” cautioned Stefan, as he poured himself a glass of wine.

The runner nodded before taking a sip from his own glass. He could feel the blood infused wine coursing through his veins.

“Can I leave?” he asked simply. “I’d like to go home.”

“Soon,” replied Stefan calmly. “We still have much to talk about. Plus, I’d like to personally educate you a little on our history and our code of conduct. It might prove helpful to you for the task that lies ahead of you.”

Deciding to remain silent about the fact that he already knew how to kill the dark angel, he nodded reluctantly, “And I suppose my mother wants to meet with me too.”

“She does but I’ve sent her on an errand for me,” Stefan revealed. “You’ll see her before you eventually leave here, I’m sure.”

“And where is here?”

“You know I’m not about to reveal that, son,” said the mature vampire with a smile. “This castle has remained hidden for almost a thousand years. We’d like to keep it that way.” He paused, noting the setting sun outside, “Tomorrow I’ll ask Trine to give you a tour. She knows this castle like the back of her hand. She grew up here without playmates. I regret that. Her mother would never have approved this life for her.”

“Is her mother not here?”

“She’s dead,” replied Stefan simply. “Giving birth to Trine killed her. Too much blood loss. Vampire births are dangerous.”

Stefan shook his head, “She has a brother. He’s in the North on a mission. My son prefers the company of wolves to vampires.”

Together, they stood watching the sunset, drinking the wine in silence. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Stefan drained his glass and said, “I’ll have Trine show you round after breakfast. I’ll meet you in the afternoon to begin your formal education. For now, though, Son of Perran, I’ll bid you goodnight.”

 

Next morning Trine returned to the chamber carrying a tray of breakfast for him.

“You must be starving,” she observed lightly. “Did you sleep well?”

“Actually, I did,” replied the runner as he got out of bed. “What am I meant to do for clean clothes?”

“Look in the wardrobe, silly,” giggled the ice maiden. “There’s plenty to choose from.”

Crossing the room to open the large mahogany wardrobe, he wasn’t surprised to find it filled with clothes in his exact size. Lifting down a shirt and dark jeans, he said, “Give me a few minutes. I need to shower.”

 

Despite his initial reservations, the runner enjoyed his tour of the castle. As they walked through the various hallways, Trine told him stories from vampire history, pointing out features that were of historical importance. She also interspersed their history lesson with anecdotal tales of her childhood escapades. Their tour ended on the castle ramparts.

An icy wind was blowing as they walked along the narrow path that led them round the walls of the castle.

“You room is in that tower over there,” said Trine, pointing out one of eight towers of varying heights. “My father’s rooms are in the tallest tower and the Court is below them.”

“Where is your room?” he asked, admiring the splendour of the architecture.

“Above yours,” replied Trine. “Non- Elders are lodged in that tower as it is the one furthest away from the head Elder’s chambers.”

“So, when you were a child you had to sleep away over here while your dad was in his big fancy tower?”

Trine nodded, “Occasionally I would sneak into his room. If he found me asleep in his bed, he usually let me stay. When I got older though he would always make me return to my own room.”

“Where does my mother live around here?” quizzed the runner, his curiosity getting the better of him.

“In that small tower to the right of where my father sleeps. There are three female members of the Court. They all have rooms in that tower.”

“The view is stunning,” he conceded, gazing across the mountains. “Why does no one just up and fly away?”

“There’s an enchantment over the castle. It prevents anyone from leaving without my father’s permission.”

“Even you?”

“Everyone,” repeated Trine. “Let’s go in. He’ll be waiting for you by now.”

 

Instead of leading him back to his own room, Trine led them round the ramparts towards the tallest tower. Eventually, she paused beside what to the runner just looked like a stone wall. With a wink, Trine pressed on a combination of smaller bricks and a hidden stone doorway opened.

“Did I mention secret passages?” she said with a girlish giggle. “Come on. Follow me. Watch your head. The ceiling is low inside.”

Taking him by the hand, Trine led him down a narrow staircase, along several twisting corridors before finally emerging in a sumptuous sitting room via another doorway hidden behind thick velvet drapes.

“When will you learn to use the door, daughter?” chided her father, who was sitting in an armchair beside the fireplace.

“Never, father,” she laughed.

“Ignore my childish daughter,” said Stefan getting to his feet. “Welcome, Son of Perran, I trust Trine is taking good care of you.”

“Yes,” replied the runner. “She’s been giving me a tour of the castle. Don’t think I’ll ever find my way round here.”

“It is a bit of a maze,” conceded Stefan warmly. “Please, sit. Trine, make yourself useful and pour us a drink then make yourself scarce for an hour or two. I wish to speak to our friend here in private.”

 

Once alone, Stefan raised his glass towards the runner and said, “Skal.”

“Yeghes da.”

“You must be wondering about why we choose to live here,” began the Head of the Court of Elders.

The runner nodded, “However, I would like to go home if that’s ok with you.”

“And as I said before, I’d like you stay for a short while,” stated Stefan in tone that left little room for negotiation.

“Why?”

“I would like to begin to fill in some of the gaps in your education. From what I’ve heard you’ve been taught very little about our traditions, our rules and our way of living. Once that education has been completed, I plan to bring you before the court again to discuss your creator. If at that hearing you still wish to make the same bargain, then I will keep my word and we will arrange for you to be extinguished.”

“I’m not going to change my mind.”

“Time will tell, son,” he said. “Plus, I promised your mother.”

“She has no right to interfere!”

“She has every right, Son of Perran,” countered Stefan sharply. “You will remain here until the second full moon. Ironically, it’s the Mother’s Moon.”

“Guess, I have no choice.”

 

The weeks passed swiftly as he settled into the way of life in the castle. Mornings were spent studying in the castle library with Michael; afternoons were spent with Alessandro. Every day he had dinner with Trine, their meals prepared in the kitchens to ensure that the lust for blood was quenched. Once a week they were allowed out to hunt. An enchanted chain spell kept him tethered to Trine, the furthest he could stray from her was twenty metres away. Together, they hunted on wildlife, choosing mountain goats and the occasional sheep.

In the evenings, Stefan would invite him to join him in his chambers. On the odd occasion, Trine was allowed to stay. Despite himself, he began to look forward to the evenings by Stefan’s fireplace. They chatted amiably over a few glasses of wine discussing the world in general or more often than not the runner had questions about the things he was learning.

As May’s full moon approached, he began to look forward to the thought of returning home. He was craving the comfort of his own things. He was eagerly anticipating sitting on the beach in front of his hut watching the sunset and listening to the waves lapping in against the shingle beach.

His heart however was troubled. Over the weeks, he had grown closer to Trine, grown fond of her. His lessons had shown him just how twisted and dangerous the dark angel was, but he still had reservations about killing her in cold blood. He was, as Stefan had anticipated, having second thoughts about ending his own eternal life.

A date for his second appearance at the Court of Elders had been set. He was due to appear one week after the full moon.

 

Standing alone on the castle ramparts, the runner watched the sun sink below the horizon. The moon was slowly emerging – the full Mother’s Moon. He stood gazing out across the mountain range watching the sky darken and the moon brighten.

“There you are!” exclaimed Trine from behind him. “You’re late!”

“Late for what?” he asked without moving.

“Supper with my father. He’s waiting for you,” explained Trine. “And you now how he hates to be kept waiting.”

“And if I don’t want to have supper with him?” challenged the runner defiantly. “I’m quite happy out here.”

“Son of Perran,” she snapped, her blue eyes staring icily into his soul. “Don’t play games with me! You can come back and howl at the moon later, but you are coming with me now!”

Before he could protest, she wrapped her wings around him and the world went black.

 

When he opened them, he knew instantly by the smell and the pattern of the rug that Trine had transported them to Stefan’s study.

“Thank you, Trine,” he heard a familiar voice say. “Son?”

Lifting his gaze from the floor, he found himself face to face with his mother.

“Mother,” he greeted with quiet sarcasm. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“Sarcasm never did suit you,” she rebuked sharply. “Come. Sit. Supper is getting cold.”

When he glanced round, Trine had vanished. Stefan was also conveniently absent. He was alone in the chamber with his mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silently Watching at the Bone Moon- Beyond the Door…..

dark-angel
As the large oak door swung open, his heart was pounding in his chest. Beyond it, he could see a dimly lit room dominated by a large alter-like table.
“Go on,” whispered Trine anxiously. “Don’t keep them waiting.”
Pulling himself up to his full height, he took a deep breath and stepped inside.

The room was circular, suggesting it formed part of a castle tower and was much larger than he’d anticipated. Behind the large table sat three male vampires. There was an empty seat to their right.
“Welcome, Son of Perran,” greeted the gentleman seated in the centre. “Come closer. We don’t bite.”
The vampire’s dark humour caused his companions to laugh.
“My name is Stefan. I am the head of the Court of Elders. To my left is Michael and to my right, Alessandro. We’re delighted you could join us at such short notice.”
All the runner could do was nod silently. His palms were clammy, and he could feel a trickle of sweat running down his back between his wings. Facing the three large male vampires was intimidating but, more worryingly, where was his mother? Trine had assured him that she was one of them.
“She’s not here,” said Alessandro, his accent revealing Italian roots. “We agreed it would be easier to talk if she weren’t here.”
Again, the runner nodded.
“My daughter has told us a little of your history,” continued Stefan. “The Court owes you an apology. Our errant sister should never have brought you into our ways. I am sincerely sorry she has damned you to this life without your full consent.”
“Apology accepted.”
“Most gracious of you. Thank you,” said Stefan with a slight bow of his blonde head. “Please tell us your story, Son of Perran. Start at the beginning. Start with your very first meeting with our wayward sister.”
Fighting to keep his voice steady, he told the Court of Elders about his first sight of the dark angel all those years ago on All Hallows Eve, about the bite and the broken fang on mid-summer’s night then the offer of a partial transformation. He could feel himself becoming emotional as he relayed the tale of how the partial transformation failed, about his Rabbia Sanguigna then the dark angel’s trip to Spain to acquire some of his mother’s blood. As he told how that too had failed, he grew angry and, by the time he was telling the Elders of his final meeting with the dark angel, he could feel his Rabbia Sanguigna rising.
Stefan raised a hand to pause him, poured something from a pewter jug on the table into a goblet and passed it across to him.
“Please, drink,” he instructed softly. “It’ll still that anger, son.
Without protest, the runner accepted the glass and drank deeply, tasting a strong, gamey blood mixed with alcohol.
“And then my daughter found you,” prompted Stefan calmly.
The runner nodded.
“And how do you feel about your vampire existence now, Son of Perran?” enquired Michael. It was the first time he had spoken, and the runner was mildly surprised to hear he was an American.
“I hate it,” he replied honestly. “Don’t get me wrong, the flying’s kind of cool but I don’t enjoy this life. It’s cost me everything I love.”
“That we can understand,” sympathised Stefan with a wistful smile. “You were tricked into it by that woman’s selfish obsession with you and her total disregard for our code of conduct and our rules.”
“She’s been a thorn in our sides for nigh on two centuries,” revealed Alessandro. “We tried to work with her, but she too was ill-conceived. Her creator was a fool. A drunken womanising fool. She’s always been head strong, self-centred and obsessive in her desires.”
“We welcomed her here,” interrupted Michael. “Tried to integrate her into the wider family but she wasn’t interested. She’s been a loose cannon for too long.”
“Trine said you want me to kill her for you,” he said, fixing his gaze on Stefan, brown eyes locked on blue. “Is this true?”
“Sometimes my daughter says too much,” sighed Stefan, a hint of exasperation to his tone. “She is, however, quite correct. We hope to enlist your help in ridding the world of this evil creature once and for all.”
“Why should I help you?” he challenged, suddenly finding a level of confidence he rarely felt.
“You can name your price, Son of Perran. Put simply, if we could kill her ourselves, we would but we can’t. You, however, have a distinct advantage over our centuries of experience. She’s bound to you. That gives you the upper hand here.”
“And I can name anything as my price?”
“Within reason, yes.”
Silence hung in the air between them as the runner considered his options. Pushing any last doubts to one side, he said simply, “I’ll do it on one condition.”
“And that is?”
“Once she’s dead, you kill me.”
The head of the Court of Elders looked to his two companions, who both gave a small nod of consent.
“Agreed,” said Stefan simply.

From the shadows behind the table there was a small barely audible gasp of “No!”

Silently Watching at the Long Night’s Moon

 

dark-angel

It was one of those rare crystal-clear sunny December days and the air around him was crisp, the cold biting on his cheeks. There wasn’t a living soul to be seen for miles. Eyes fixed on the road ahead, he ran. Mile after mile, he ran hard and fast, grateful for once to be free to run at his true pace, instead of running at a pace fitting of his physical age. He was angry. He was frustrated. He was scared… no, not scared… uncertain about what the future held for him.

Over the quarter of a century that he’d followed the monthly ritual to the letter, there had been many changes in his life. He’d watched his children grow up, leave school, graduate from university then venture out into the world on their own. Each of them had left home before they graduated in their chosen field; each of them had emigrated and were now scattered to the corners of the globe. Without them, the family home grew quiet. Fate dealt him a cruel blow when a short illness claimed his beloved wife. In the five years since her sudden death, the family home had grown empty, void of life. Now that he had finally retired from his job, his never-ending future stretched as endlessly in front of him as the road he was running along.

Life was lonely.

In all that time, he hadn’t aged a day. By the time he reached his late forties, he’d had to “fake” ageing to prevent questions being asked. Adding grey to his hair had been easy. Explaining the lack of wrinkles had been harder but he’d dismissed it as “good genes” to curious friends and colleagues. Hiding his physical abilities had been frustrating, to say the least.

Hiding his vampire urges had become a way of life. Initially, he’d used the excuse of “checking out a new trail” as a convenient cover story to travel further afield to hunt. He’d even resorted to creating fictitious non-local running buddies to allow him more freedom to seek out fresh blood. Now that he lived alone, he could come and go as he pleased. In his heart though, he missed the days of “lying” to his family about his excursions. Over time he had grown adept at covering his tracks, choosing his victims with great care.

Reaching the cattle grid, his chosen turning point, he turned for home, the sun now behind him as it sank lower in the sky. Pounding out the miles, he tried to ignore the two pain points on his back. Gradually over the weeks, the sites of his wing buds had grown hard and tender. Over the past few days, he had become aware of the skin stretching and tightening to the point of being painful. Now, as he pounded his way up the final steep section of his route, he felt the taut skin split and tear. He howled in pain across the empty landscape.

His wings had begun to emerge……….

 

Perched on the church roof, the dark angel sat watching the sun set. Over the years she had tried to nurture her fledging and ensure his safety but he had proved to be more strong-willed than she’d anticipated. In the early years, he had been an attentive student, proving to be a quick learner, but, once he mastered feeding himself, their paths had rarely crossed. With a heavy heart, she had been forced to watch from afar. Occasionally, she still followed him at a discrete distance purely for the pleasure of watching him hunt. There was a gracefulness to his movements that she had come to envy.

In her heart, the dark angel knew that she had broken many of the rules laid down by the Court of Elders when she had created him but she had gone to great lengths to keep her tracks well-hidden. To the best of her knowledge, they remained blissfully unaware of the runner’s existence.

And, for both their sakes, it had to remain that way.

A steady pounding rhythm echoed through her and she turned to gaze up the hill towards the railway bridge. Smiling, she sensed his return as he ran up the street towards his home.

Blood stained the back of his running top when he twisted to look in the bathroom mirror. He hadn’t really needed that reflection to tell him his shoulders were oozing blood. Carefully, he peeled the sweat-soaked t-shirt over his head, wincing as the soft material grazed the broken skin. As he stepped under the jet of hot water in the shower, he cried out in agony. He could almost feel the wings growing and bursting through. Could they really be developing so fast?

He hated to admit it but he needed to see her. Needed to see the dark angel.

Next morning, after an uncomfortable and largely sleepless night, he walked down the hill towards the graveyard. He’d picked up a small white pebble from a plant pot beside his front door and was turning it over and over in his hand as he walked.

It had been almost three years since he’d last summoned her……

When he reached the cemetery, he bounded up the steps then walked purposefully towards the bench, placing the pebble in the centre of the slatted seat.

Without a backwards glance, he headed home to wait.

Late afternoon, as he enjoyed a cigarette in the garden, he watched the sky redden as the sun set. As the yellows turned to gold then red, he wondered how long it would take the dark angel to respond to his signal.

Sensing a subtle movement in the air behind him, he spun around.

“Son of Perran,” greeted the angel warmly. “It’s been a long time.”

Glancing round, he checked that there were no lights on in any of the neighbouring houses and that none of his neighbours were in their gardens.

“Relax,” she purred. “The shadow’s hiding my presence from prying eyes.”

“Come inside,” he invited, indicating the open back door.

“No, thank you,” she declined politely. “I prefer to remain outside. Now, you summoned me?”

He nodded.

“Are you going to tell me why or am I going to have to guess?”

“Come inside and I’ll show you.”

“If I must,” she muttered, reluctantly following the runner into the house.

With a small smile, he watched as the dark angel wandered around his kitchen, a curious look on her face. She ran her slender hand over his granite countertops almost marvelling at their smoothness.

“Not what I expected,” she murmured before turning to face her fledging. “Now, what did you need to show me? I’m sure it wasn’t your kitchen.”

“This,” he said as he pulled his loose hooded sweatshirt over his head.

Slowly, he turned around and stood with his back to her.

“Oh,” she said, taking a step towards him.

From the two designated spots in the Celtic tattoo that spanned his shoulders, two small wings were forming. Having burst through the skin twenty-four hours earlier, his wings were now growing rapidly. Already the first feathers were clearly visible.

“Well, are you going to magic me up a potion to reverse this fuckup?” he growled as he felt her run her cool hand over his blossoming wings.

“No.”

“No?” he echoed sharply. “What do you mean no?”

“Son of Perran, I told you twenty-five years ago that there was nothing else I could do,” she explained.

“So, what am I meant to do?”

“Let them grow. Let them flourish,” she said casually before adding, “Then learn to fly.”

“Fly?” he yelled. “Fly? You think I want to fucking learn to fly? How am I meant to live with wings? Please tell me that.”

“Enough, child!” she snapped, her patience finally worn thin. “The time has come to accept who and what you are! For over a quarter of a century, I’ve watched over you. I’ve taught you. Some lessons you learned better than others. Now though, you are on your own. I can’t protect you anymore.”

Pulling her own majestic wings around her, the dark angel moved towards the open door.

“Wait!” he called out.

She paused.

Taking a deep breath to calm his anger before his Rabbia Sanguigna surfaced, he said, “I appreciate that you’ve tried to help me after this transformation went wrong. I do. I know I broke some of the rules but they were rules you never told me about until it was too late. So, humour me a few moments more, please.”

With her green eyes blazing with ager, the dark angel nodded.

“How long will these things take to grow?”

“About a week.”

“How easy is it to use them?”

“You’re athletic. It’ll come easily to you.”

“Is there anything else you should have told me or taught me before now?”

His last question hung in the air. For a moment or two, he wondered if she was going to answer him then she bowed her head.

“Son of Perran, I have failed you,” she spoke slowly. “I broke many rules when I created you. A price will need to be paid in time. For now, my final piece of advice to you is to leave. Go into hiding. Avoid large gatherings. Avoid cities.”

Before he could reply, she slipped out of the door.

When he went to look for her, she was gone.

Closing the door, he realised that the time had come and that he needed to move on. The time had come to close up the family home indefinitely and move into his private “bolthole.”

Several years before he had seized a rare property opportunity and purchased one of the fisherman’s huts on the shoreline. Over time, he had renovated the semi-derelict building, ensuring that it was water-tight, warm and furnished then he had left it empty.

The time had finally come to take up residence.

Over the course of a week, he put his affairs in order, circulated a rumour that he was going travelling now that he had retired then began to sort through his belongings. He kept it simple – keep, leave or trash. There had been numerous trips to the local recycling centre as he disposed of his old life box by box. Under the cover of darkness, he carried the boxes of belongings to be kept down the narrow, overgrown path from the main road to the hut.

As the days passed, it felt to him that the more of his old life he eliminated, the more his wings flourished.

By the following Thursday, under the watchful eye of the Long Night’s full moon, he left the family home for the final time with a heavy heart but without a backwards glance.

It was almost midnight by the time he had walked from the village to the hut. He had sold his car earlier in the day, handing the keys over with a wrench of pain rattling through his soul. It had seemed the more sensible option to travel along the longer, darker coastal path, feeling secure in the knowledge that most of the journey could pass unnoticed in the shelter of the forest.

Under the cover of the trees, he didn’t need to hide his wings. Despite his initial disgust at their growth, he had to concede that, now fully formed, they were majestic, rivalling the dark angel’s. Much to his amazement, the feathers had grown in varying shades of russet, brown and gold, their tips a bright emerald green. In a twist of fate, their colouring reflected the colours of nature that he loved among the trails that he ran so relentlessly.

He breathed a sigh of relief when the low hut finally came into view. Luck had been on his side and he hadn’t seen another living soul since leaving his former home behind him. As he unlocked the door, he glanced out across the still river, marvelling at the full moon’s perfect reflection on its glassy surface. A familiar warmth welcomed him into his new home.

Using only the light of the moon, he busied himself unpacking the last box of personal effects that he had brought from the family home. The last item to be lifted from the box was a framed photo of his wife and children. It had been taken on their last family holiday. Precious memories of those two weeks in the sun made him smile as he set the frame on the shelf beside the bed.

An unfamiliar noise outside spooked him. Every sense was suddenly on alert. He glanced out of the small side window across the enclosed courtyard adjacent to the hut. Beyond the boundary wall, there was a bench that sat on the grassy verge facing the river.

A hooded figure sat there alone.

With his heart pounding in his chest, he stepped outside to investigate.

If the midnight visitor heard him approach, they gave no outward sign until he was two strides away from the bench then they looked up. Even in the pale moonlight, he could tell the cloaked figure was a beautiful blonde woman. She was staring at him with piercing glacier blue eyes.

“Son of Perran?” she asked, her voice soft but almost void of any discernible accent.

Slowly, he nodded.

“Sit. We need to talk.”

 

(imaged sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

Silently Watching One Week After The Buck Moon

dark-angel

One week later the air was heavy and muggy, a thunderstorm gathering overhead. As he jogged up the hill towards the graveyard, it matched his own mood. The first drops of rain fell as he climbed the steps into the cemetery. As he approached the tree, a bright flash of lightning lit up the dark sky, revealing the dark angel herself who was standing in the shadows.

“Well met, Son of Perran,” she greeted him formally as she stepped forward.

“Hey,” he replied forcing a smile. “Looks like we’re about to get wet.”

“Not at all,” she said stepping forward. “We’re leaving.”

Before he could protest, she swept her wings around him. The world went black and everything felt still.

When the world cam back into focus, he wasn’t surprised to find himself in the dark angel’s mausoleum home.

“Is this the way I’m going to have to exist?” he asked as he sat up and looked round. “This place feels different. Smells different.”

“It’s the oils,” replied the angel calmly.

“Oils?”

“Lavender and geranium,” replied the angel lifting a large box from a previously unnoticed niche by the door. “Take your shirt off.”

“Pardon?”

“Remove your shirt,” she said slowly and deliberately.

Without argument, he removed his running top, tossing it onto the stone bench. As he stood in the middle of the tomb, stripped to the waist, he was acutely aware of the angel’s gaze on his lean toned body.

“Enjoying the view?” he teased as she walked behind him.

Her green eyes dark and intense, she stared at him, the gaze boring into his soul. She moved round to stand directly behind him. She studied his back for a few moments then ran her cool hand over his shoulder blades. Tiny sparks of electricity pulsed through him as her cold fingers caressed his warm skin. He felt her pause and run her thumbs over the tips of his shoulder blades.

 

Taking a step back, the angel studied his smooth skin, tanned from the summer sun. At first, she couldn’t be sure and she thought for a moment that his luck had held then she noticed a slight circular discolouration. There were two patches of skin about two centimetres across that were a darker shade than the rest of the runner’s bronzed back.

“The buds are there,” she said quietly as moved round to face him.

“Buds?” He looked at her with a face filled with confusion.

“Your wing buds are forming.”

“Ah!”

“I have worked out a way to slow their development but you’re going to have to work out a way to administer the treatment on your own,” she explained, her tone serious. “How are you with pain?”

“I’m tough. I can take it,” he replied, sounding calmer than he felt.

“Each of the phials in that box contains an oil that you are going to have to use once a month. I can only stall the development for so long. This treatment had to be prepared in a single batch. I cannot make any more. There are three hundred phials in the box for you. Do not break any. Do not drop any. These are the only ones in existence.”

Glancing into the cardboard box, he saw that it was filled with slender phials containing a dark liquid.

“I’ll administer the first dose,” the dark angel explained pointing to a larger phial that lay on a black velvet cloth on the bench alongside her ornate knife. “I need to ensure that I treat the centre of the buds. I’ll make the first cuts. You will then use the same holes each month.”

“Holes?”

The angel nodded, the white streak of her hair almost shimmering in the candlelight.

“Wait a minute,” he stalled sounding anxious. “What’s the plan here?”

“The phials contain an infusion of horse chestnut bark, lavender oil, geranium oil and thyme plus a few other items. The oil needs to be poured into the centre of each bud once a month and the wounds covered with the moss that’s at the bottom of the box. The moss has been treated with the infusion. You’ll only use a couple of strands at a time.”

“And how a I going to explain two holes covered in moss on my back to my wife?” he demanded sharply.

“You like to decorate your body. You’ll get another tattoo across your upper back. The holes will be lost in the design,” explained the angel calmly.

“Oh, will I?” he retorted. “And I assume you’ve picked the design for me too?”

“I’ve designed it for you,” she replied calmly. “The design is part of the enchantment. It needs to be identical to the drawing inside the box.”

Before he could protest further, the angel reached into the box and pulled out a single sheet of paper with a Celtic design expertly drawn on it. Looking at the detail in it, he wasn’t averse to having it inked across his back. There were two points in the design where there was an obvious cross over and he deduced that those would mark the spots that matched the holes.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll get it done. I’ll get someone at work to recommend a place. That won’t be cheap to get that inked.”

“There’s money in the box to cover the cost.”

“Thought of everything, haven’t you?”

Lifting the knife, the angel said, “I hope so.”

With the knife poised over his smooth skin, the angel asked, “Are you ready?”

“Go for it.”

“This is going to hurt.”

“Just do it.”

As the sharp tip of the blade bit into his skin, he flinched but never utters a sound. When she pierced the second hole, he was ready for it.

“This will burn,” she said as she picked up the large phial. “Really burn.”

“How am I meant to get tattooed if the skin is burnt?” he asked.

“The skin won’t be burnt. This will burn inside you. It will feel like fire.”

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists as the angel poured the liquid into the two open wounds on his back. Pain ricocheted through him as the liquid worked its way around the nubs of his wings.

“Christ!” he yelled as the heat intensified.

“Almost finished,” promised the angel rubbing some strands of the pale green moss into the wounds. Instantly the pain stopped spreading and began to ease. “Done.”

“Whew!” he said rolling his shoulders stiffly.

“Well done. You handled that well,” she praised with a smile. “Guard that box with your life. One phial is enough for both buds. One phial once a month. When the phials run out then we have to last nature take its course.”

Pulling his running vest back on, he nodded.

“These should last you about twenty-five years if you don’t smash any.”

“I’ll be an old man by then,” he joked lifting the box.

“No, you won’t, Son of Perran,” she countered. “You’ll look exactly the same as you do just now. You’ve not aged one day since your transformation. Time will be kind to you.”

“Ok so how do I pour that stuff in on my own?”

“You’ll find a way. Pierce the holes open first then pour in the infusion.”

“Not quite the DIY I had planned but I’ll figure something out,” he muttered. “And I’ll get that ink done.”

“Get it done this weekend. It should then be healed before the next full moon if you can.”

“Fine,” he agreed bluntly. “Any more orders?”

The angel smiled and shook her head. “You can find your own way home from here.”

She pushed open the door of the mausoleum to reveal the dark stormy night outside. “Follow the path to the right.”

“Till next time,” he said as he headed for the door.

“Soon, Son of Perran. Soon.”

 

Over the years the box had sat on the second top shelf at the back of the garage. Its contents steadily dwindling as the months and years passed. In the box, wrapped in an old t-shirt, was apiece of wood with two nails driven straight through it, their tips sticking out proudly. Those tips had been filed until they were needle sharp and had been sterilised until they now shone silvery in the light of the garage.

Carefully he hung the piece of wood on the nail on the garage wall, making sure it was level. He unbuttoned his short and laid it on the bonnet of his car then lifted the last glass phial out of the box.

With well-practiced ease, he stepped back and leaned his full weight against the piece of wood, feeling the nails piercing their target for the final time.

 

(Image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

Silently Watching at the Storm Moon

dark-angel

Finally, the pungent aroma of decaying flesh became too much to bear. Grimacing at the pain it caused her, the dark angel dragged herself up into a sitting position. After the warmth of the animal furs and the velvet blanket that she had been shrouded in, the air of her mausoleum home felt icy cold. Reaching out a withered hand, she pulled herself onto her knees and then finally, her balance unsteady, she stood naked in the middle of the floor. Her weeks of enforced dormancy had left her severely weakened and somewhat vulnerable. Unnourished, even vampires wither and age.

Blood!

She needed blood and she needed it urgently. But, did she have any strength left to hunt? She was going to have to try then she needed to check on her fledgling. Had the blood from his mother tamed the Rabbia Sanguigna?

Dressing sapped more of her limited strength but, eventually, just as the sun rose over the horizon, she was ready to venture out into the world again. Drawing her cloak around her for warmth, she set out in search of much needed sustenance.

 

A lone commuter stood on the platform at the station, engrossed in a news article on his phone. Her fangs found his jugular vein before he even realised that he was no longer alone. As his warm blood flowed smoothly down her throat, the dark angel felt life seep back into her ravaged body. With the businessman’s body drained dry, she pushed him off the platform onto the tracks, kicking his bag and phone after him.

If she could feed again before the sun set, she might just recover before the full moon.

A glance at the newspaper the man had dropped informed her it was 20th March   confirming she had been dormant too long.

 

Eleven long weeks and two full moons had passed with no sign of her. Eleven long weeks since she had delivered the two flasks of blood with her gentle kiss. It had been a rare show of tenderness and that kiss was imprinted on his memory.

Every Friday night he had checked the tree for his expected blood ration only to find the hollow empty.

He had been left with no choice but to hunt for himself. The blood from the flasks had sustained him for almost a week before he felt the now familiar hunger start to grow. Before she had vanished, the dark angel had promised that he’d “know” if the blood from his mother had calmed the rage of his Rabbia Sanguigna. Within twenty-four hours he’d noticed a change in himself – a subtle change. He had still craved blood as badly as before but he felt more in control of his desires. Over the next few weeks he learned if he stayed calm and relaxed, the desire melted into the background; as soon as he became angry or frustrated, the urge returned instantly and the desire to taste the warm ferrous nectar from a live creature pulsed more overwhelmingly than ever.  Once, when he’d almost lost his temper while driving, he’d felt a sudden craving for human blood. That thought had chilled him to the bone.

Calm……how could he stay calm when the angel had abandoned him and vanished without a trace?

Hunting during the months of winter had proved challenging. He had taken to hunting on his way home from work, feeding from the livestock in the fields behind the village. There had been plenty of sheep to choose from but the blood of the expectant ewes soured his stomach, leaving him nauseous. After a third day of vomiting rings round himself, he decided that sheep were off the menu. At the back of his mind, he recalled the angel’s warning about drinking from expectant mothers and deduced that this must hold true for expectant ovine mothers too.

Cows’ and horses’ blood sustained him. Deer, despite tasting divine, proved too quick for him. A feast of deer blood was a rare treat obtained through sheer dumb luck rather than hunting prowess.

The day before March’s full moon fell on his scheduled day off from work. With the kids at school and nursery and his wife out running errands, he decided to treat himself to a long run along his beloved forestry trails.

It was a clear crisp Spring day, perfect for a long run. He’d hunted on the way home the evening before and, with his music playing through his iPod, was content just to allow the ground to pass under his feet without the need to watch for a possible victim. Deciding to deviate from his usual route, he set off in search of a small remote reservoir far up in the hills behind the village. His plan was to circle the small loch then head east along the trail to the larger reservoir that served the area before doubling back and returning home via the remote B class road that led into the back of the village.

When he reached the trail that led down to the small reservoir, he found that it had been washed out in a storm and was unpassable. Changing his plan, he stayed on the trail he’d been following. The reservoir was about fifty yards off to his right. A movement caught his attention and he paused to gaze over at the shaded expanse of water. For a split second he thought he’d seen someone bathing in the icy water. He could have sworn it was her.

Deciding that his mind was playing tricks on him, he returned his focus to his run and set off again, upping his pace.

 

Breaking through the surface of the cold water, the angel came up gasping for breath. That has been close! Thank God for that infernal noise he chose to listen to. If she hadn’t heard it, she would never have known he was close. That thought triggered a fresh concern for her. He might be oblivious to it but her fledgling had developed a new vampire talent – silent footfall.

As the water stilled around her, she glanced down at her reflection. Her skin had rehydrated after her breakfast of human blood. There were still dark shadows under her eyes with deep wrinkles around them. A wide white streak had appeared in her raven black hair.

Her trip to Spain had certainly left its mark on her.

There was no time to dwell on things beyond her control. She had neglected her fledgling for too long. It was time to resume his education.

 

Next morning dawned wild and wet, a strong gusting wind sending wheelie bins flying across the roads. When he left the house, running late for work, he almost missed the sign that had been left on his windscreen A white pebble had been balanced on the wiper blade and a small black feather with a purple tip was tucked under it.

She was alive!

He let out a long, relieved sigh, releasing weeks of tension that he hadn’t realised had built up.

But where and when was he to meet her?

First things first, he had to get to work.

 

It was growing dark when he finally logged off his pc and gathered up his belongings. His last conference call of the day at four o’clock had over run, ending with an action for him to revise a paper he had prepared before the end of the day. He’d managed to pull the figures together in record time and hoped they met with the approval of those further up the food chain. It had been a long day and it was now an hour and half past the end of his shift. Pausing to wish the security guard goodnight, he left the building and headed across the car park towards his car.

As he unlocked the car, he felt the air move beside him.

“Son of Perran,” whispered a familiar voice. “You ignored my sign.”

“I didn’t ignore it,” he replied as he spun round to find himself face to face with the angel. “I didn’t understand it.  I needed to get to work. I was planning to look for you in the cemetery on my way home.”

Staring deep into his soul, her green eyes locked with his brown ones. Unable to look away, he felt her probing into his mind uninvited.

“Praise be” she sighed. “It worked.”

“Eh?”

“Your Rabbia Sanguigna is under control.”

“If you’d asked, I could’ve told you it was” he snapped, his hand clenching tight around his car key. “Don’t enter my mind uninvited again!”

“My apologies. That was unforgiveable,” she said, bowing her head. “I needed to see for myself. Needed to know for sure.”

“Yeah and I’ve needed you. Where have you been for the past eleven weeks?”

“Indisposed,” replied the angel softly.

Looking at her properly for the first time, he saw that she had aged. Without thinking, he reached out to touch the white streak at the front of her hair. “What happened?”

“My trip to find your mother took its toll,” she replied evasively. “I drank tainted blood on the way home. That and the effort of keeping the blood warm for so long almost ended me.”

“You ok?”

“I’ll recover,” assured the angel forcing a smile. “And you, Son of Perran, are you well?”

“I think so,” he replied sounding a little unsure.

“Is the blood rage really under control?”

He nodded, “As long as nothing winds me up. If I get frustrated or pissed off at something, I can feel it rising. I’ve not reacted to it…. yet.”

“Well done,” she praised. “You’ve shown maturity.”

“You didn’t leave me much choice!”

“True,” she conceded.

“Look, I need to get home. I’m late,” he began awkwardly. “Can we talk later?”

“I need to hunt later.”

“Get in,” said the runner impulsively as he opened the passenger side door. “We can talk on the way.”

“I can’t sit in there,” answered the angel, rustling her wings gently.

“Shit! Forgot about those,” he muttered slamming door shut then not to be thwarted said, “Get in the back. You can lie along the back seat.”

“How undignified,” complained the angel as she slid into the backseat of the car.

“Sorry. It’s the best I can do,” he apologised as he climbed into the driver’s seat.

As he exited the car park, he could feel her eyes boring into him. She watched him in silence for a few minutes before saying softly, “I saw you yesterday.”

“So, it was you I saw at the reservoir?”

“Yes,” she replied. “If it hadn’t been for that awful noise you listen to, I wouldn’t have heard you approaching.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You run soundlessly, son of Perran.”

“Pardon?”

“You’ve developed some new vampire traits while I’ve been absent,” she observed. “Some full blood traits.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“I’ll make this easy for you to understand, fledgling,” began the angel sounding irritated. “Your partial transformation has failed.”

“Failed?”

“Yes, and I am truly sorry about that,” she apologised sincerely.

“So, what does that mean?” he demanded as he stopped the car at a red light.

“From what I saw in your mind, the blood from your mother calmed the Rabbia Sanguigna but it also disturbed the delicate balance of your transformation. Your full blood faculties are developing. You run and walk without making a sound. You could already read minds. You had perfect vision. Now, you also have perfect hearing over long distances, if you choose to listen.”

“I don’t get it,” he said as the traffic lights turned to green.

“Visualise your home, son of Perran,” she instructed. “And listen.”

He did as she asked then felt a chill run through him as he heard his wife talking to the kids as clearly as if he was standing beside her.

“How?” he spluttered, not fully comprehending what was going on. “Why?”

“It had to the blood from your mother. She must be more of a full blood then I detected.”

“Christ, I don’t believe this is happening!” he growled, slamming his hand onto the steering wheel. “So, now what? Am I going to grow a set of wings and go around killing people to survive?”

“In time, most likely.”

“You have to be kidding me? This is not what I agreed to……. You promised me!”

“I know,” she interrupted him. “And you have no idea how dreadful I feel about all that has happened. Maybe if you spoke to your mother. Found out about her history.”

“No way!” he declared loudly. “Besides, she’s disappeared.  I’ve not heard from her since Christmas. She’s not been home since her trip to Spain.”

“Disappeared?”

“Yeah,” he muttered sourly. “She’ll turn up. She always does.”

“Has she vanished before?” quizzed the angel sharply.

“Many times, but, sadly, she always turns up.”

“Where does she go?”

“No idea. She never says and I don’t care enough to ask.”

In the rear-view mirror, he could see the dark angel looking thoughtful and he wondered if his mother’s vanishing acts were somehow important.

They drove on in silence for several minutes and, as he indicated to turn off the dual carriageway to take the back-road home, the angel said, “Stop when we are out of sight of the farm.”

“Sure,” he said as large drops of rain began to hit the windscreen.

A loud peel of thunder rattled over head and the rain instantly grew heavier. As he pulled off to the side of the road, the sky lit up with a flash of fork lightning.

“Do you want to wait here till that storm blows through?” he asked as he killed the engine.

For a moment the angel hesitated then said, “No. I need to feed and the storm will afford me some cover. People die easily during thunder storms. Unexpected unexplained accidents.”

A chill rattled through him as he realised that she intended to dine on human blood when she left his car.

“What’s the plan here then?” he asked, still struggling to process the information she’d given him

“We need to resume your education,” she answered simply. “You need to learn our old ways, how to feed properly and how to live unseen and undetected in the human world.”

“How long will that take?”

“Years, I hope,” said the angel quietly. “The partial transformation enchantment should slow your maturity. We can work together to slow the changes. Double your mugwort. That should be strong enough to prevent your wings from budding.” She paused for a second then added, “You need to continue to hunt for yourself. Hone those skills. Not too often. Vary your targets. Choose different locations. You’ll learn in time what your body needs most.”

He ran his hand through his hair and yelled, “This is all a fucking nightmare! And it’s all your fault!”

“Yes, it is,” she agreed reaching through to touch his slender shoulder. “This storm will pass though. You’re young. You’re strong. You’ve matured since the start of the year. With a bit of luck, your life can continue as normal for many years yet.”

The touch of her cool hand was comforting. While it rested on his shoulder, he felt an energy from her easing into his blood. With each breath, he felt his anger abate.

“When will I see you again?”

“Soon,” she replied evasively. “If I leave a pebble for you, meet me that night at dusk by the tree.”

“And if I can’t make it?”

“I’ll come for you,” she said bluntly. “Regardless of where you are. Now, I need to depart.”

 

Next morning, the area was littered with storm debris. Wheelie bins and tree limbs were scattered around the village and surrounding areas. As he was preparing to leave for work, his wife asked if he would drop the kids off at school first.

“Right, you two, out to the car,” he called as he drained the last of his coffee. “We’re leaving now.”

With the kids safely buckled in, he started the engine and pulled away from the kerb.

“Dad,” said his daughter. “Where did this feather come from? It’s pretty. Can I have it?”

Glancing in the rear view mirror, he saw that his little girl had one of the dark angel’s long wing feathers in her hand.

 

 

image sourced via Google- credits to the owner

 

 

Silently Watching At The End Of The Year

dark angel

The year was rapidly coming to an end …. only five hours left. Part of him was going to be glad to see the back of it; part of him was looking forward to a fresh start, a new year. It was never an occasion that they celebrated much as a family but this year was going to be different. They’d been invited to see the new year in at a neighbour’s house.
While his family were getting ready upstairs, he had seized the opportunity to slip out to the garage for his daily dose of mugwort tea. Running his tongue over his teeth, he reasoned that his “fangs” hadn’t developed any further and were still fairly unnoticeable. After his son’s innocent observation, he had tried to curb his hunting instincts and had stuck to the regime laid down by the dark angel. It hadn’t been easy but, on the whole, his will power had held strong.
As he drank the daily measure of mugwort, he wondered where she was. Five weeks and one day had passed since she had left.
He’d spoken to his mother on Christmas Day. He’d almost been relieved to speak to her. She hadn’t mentioned anything out of the ordinary other than an infected bug bite on her wrist that refused to heal. As ever, their conversation had been brief as she had cut the call short to dash off to join her friends for Christmas lunch.
Part of him wondered if the “bug bite” was the angel’s doing…….

Travelling didn’t agree with the dark angel. It took her ten days to reach the Mediterranean coastline of Spain. As a rogue vampire, she chose to avoid flying too close to London and Paris en route for fear of attracting any undue attention from the vampire elders who resided there. Avoiding Barcelona had proved to be more of a challenge as she searched for the runner’s mother in the unfamiliar territory. One young Spanish vampire had crossed her path but, after an exchange, they had reached an accord, with him promising to keep her presence in the area quiet.
It took her until mid-December to locate the woman she was seeking. From a distance, she observed her for a few days to establish her routine and to try to determine her vampire strengths before working out a plan.
Deciding to keep it simple, she opted to obtain the blood while the woman took a nap on her balcony in the afternoon. It was unusual for vampires to sleep outdoors and even more so for them to sleep during the day, causing the angel to wonder if her transformation had also been a partial one. For three days she watched the runner’s mother take a swim after lunch then retire to her shaded balcony for a siesta. On the fourth day, she made her move. Rather than biting her, the angel decided to use a sharpened thumb pick. Almost as an afterthought, she smeared a sedative and some of her own blood onto the point to numb the “pricking” sensation. With next to no knowledge of the woman’s powers, she wanted to be as discrete as possible.
Reaching the balcony unseen posed a further problem and the dark angel had no choice other than to risk exposing herself to direct sunlight during her rooftop approach. Stealthily, she slipped onto the shady balcony from above, pricked the inside of the woman’s wrist, acquired the two flasks of blood then retreated to the shadows.
Drained and slightly burned by the Spanish sun, the dark angel sought refuge in a nearby church until dark.
Keeping the blood at human body temperature was her next challenge. With no other option open to her, the angel used an ancient incantation to raise the temperature of the flasks themselves. By heating the metal, it would keep the contents warm. She just had to be mindful of where she stowed the flasks in case she burned herself. Sustaining the heat spell however sapped her energy.
On the return journey, she had to stop to feed three times. Her first two victims were elderly residents in remote mountain villages. Fortunately, both of them had been in good health despite their advanced years and their blood of a surprisingly high standard. She selected her third victim at one of the French channel ports. In her hurry, she chose poorly. Her victim had been high on opiates and their blood contaminated by a cocktail of drugs. The effects hit the angel hard as she drained the last drop of blood from the now lifeless body. Instantly, her stomach began to cramp and her vision blurred. It took all of her energy to crawl into a safe hiding place in an empty container in the freight yard. With the last of her strength, she reinforced the heat spell then lapsed into unconsciousness. She remained that way until Boxing Day, awakening to find herself ravenous but severely weakened.
The first thing that she checked was the blood. It was still warm. With a sigh, she sank back onto the floor of the container and tried to figure out her next move. As dusk fell, she fed on several large rats that she caught running between the containers. Their blood helped to revive her but she needed to make a fourth human kill to get enough blood for the last leg of the journey home.
Soundlessly, she prowled the ferry port in search of a suitable meal. As she slipped through the rows of trucks and lorries that were waiting for the early morning ferry, she identified one truck driver who was going to Manchester with a load of furniture. If she could hide in his trailer, she reasoned, it would get her closer to home quicker than she could fly in her current weakened state.
The last lorry in line was being driven by a woman in her forties. Her trailer was full of clothes destined for the high-end fashion boutiques of London. Carelessly she had left her cab unlocked when she had retired to her bunk for the night. The angel bided her time then struck shortly before dawn.
Her hunger satiated, she had returned to the furniture lorry and slipped into its trailer to stowaway for the trip back to England.

By late afternoon on New Year’s Eve, she as within reach of home …. and, by some miracle, both flasks of blood were still warm.
She prayed that her fledgling had managed to stick to the plan and fretted that she had been gone so long. Leaving him to fend for himself at such a young vampire age had been a high-risk strategy but she had had no choice. His Rabbia Sanguigna needed to be calmed as a matter of urgency before he became a danger to his friends and family and himself.
The church roof came into sight and she sighed.
“Home sweet home,” she muttered to herself as her feet touched the soft ground outside her mausoleum.
Exhausted, the angel reinforced the incantation one more time then settled down to rest for a few hours.

As New Year’s Eve parties went, it had been a good one. There had been plenty of food and alcohol, the kids had had fun with their friends and he had got on well with most of the neighbours. There had been worse ways to end a year.
Shortly after one, he led his tired family across the street and home to bed. While his wife put the kids to bed, he stayed downstairs, hoping to grab a few moments for a first cigarette of the year. When he entered the kitchen, he filled the kettle to make a cup of tea then stepped outside for a smoke while it boiled.
He had just lit the cigarette when he felt the air stir beside him and heard the familiar rustle of feathers.
“Son of Perran,” she said softly, her voice barely above a whisper.
“What are you doing here?” he hissed, horrified that she would visit his home.
“Sh,” said the angel. “Two minutes. Less. That’s all I need. I’m exhausted. I need to hunt then rest.”
Before he could comment, she brought the two flasks out from the inner folds of her cloak.
“Drink,” she said calmly. “Both of them.”
“But,” he began anxiously.
“Just drink, son of Perran,” snapped the angel, “My patience is worn thin. Time is short.”
Hearing the kettle come to the boil, he drained the first flask then opened the second. As the kettle clicked off, he drained the second flask dry then handed them both back to her. The blood had tasted sweet and somehow familiar.
“Now what?” he asked.
“You go back indoors and make your cup of tea and I go and hunt before going home to rest.”
“How will I know if this has worked?”
“You’ll know,” she replied cryptically.
She turned to leave then paused. Gracefully, she stepped forward and brushed a kiss on his cheek, “Happy New Year, son of Perran.”
She spread her wings then soared off into the night.