Copyright © 2013 Camille Leone
This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are invented by the author or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
The Monastery of Taras de Bulba, Spain
The abbey bells rang out, sounding the alarm that they were being attacked. For nights on end their order had fought a losing battle against a nocturnal warrior, a gargoyle who barreled through their steel and brick defenses, a stone hulk of a being hell-bent on destruction. Unlike dragons, whose flapping wings and sprays of fire could be heard miles from their intended target, gargoyles were stealth soldiers, experienced enough to tuck their wings close to their bodies in order to dive bomb their way through any barrier. This one was using his body like a battering ram, and with enough strikes the assailant had breached the first and second protective wall. Now he was threatening to topple the monastery off its mortar foundation. “We must summon for help!” Shaking his master‟s tunic, the hysterical cleric couldn‟t contain his fear. “I beg of you, for the sake of preserving our order, bring forth the sleeping guardian.” Sighing under heavy jowls that drooped to his chin, Abbot Don Carlo Murciél, the Minotaur who‟d lived for over five centuries stubbornly shook his head. This vendetta was not for old Minotaurs to fight. And the few young bulls remaining in their order would soon lose their horns if they dared tangle with the gargoyle. There were few weapons at their disposal to contain the creature, but they did have one, a being even more terrifying than the behemoth stalking them. As the quartet trudged further into the underground bunker of their abbey, Don Carlo felt the chill of the earthen cavern all the way to his bones. Unaccustomed to the darkness, his attendants stopped so he could catch his breath and his bearings. Don Carlo‟s order was too isolated, too out of touch with the modern world. They‟d avenged the murder of a bull who‟d later been revealed as an apostate, but in hindsight it was an unwise move. Once, ages ago, promises and vows were upheld with honor and truth. There had been a strict code of conduct among many species, but not any longer. Even the harpy who‟d deposited the young she-wolf spoke an untruth, claiming to be an envoy of Daedalus, when she‟d been nothing but a paid mercenary, a bounty hunter who‟d agreed to snatch the female Don Carlo knew only by the moniker of „Razher.‟
The sounds above confirmed his fear that the gargoyle was gaining on them. The deeper their descent, the greater the chance their assailant could make the earth shift, thus burying the clerics alive. With each blockade the creature bested, their torches flickered, until finally the flames were snuffed out just as the doors to the treasury exploded open. In the darkness Don Carlo fumbled for his lighter, flinching at the sounds of his loyal guards being flung across the room. When the final bellows of his attendants were quickly silenced, in the eerie quiet that followed Don Carlo finally conceded. This had gone on long enough. “Cease your murderous bloodletting!” he shouted, hefting his bulk toward the creature, using only a wobbly cane to move ever so slowly. With his free hand he held up the lighter, trembling as he peered into the blackened cavern. Out of the darkness the gargoyle stepped, his body a mass of stone muscle, a near perfect specimen of sinister beauty and power. The muscles protruding from its arms, thighs and legs were as if bowling balls resided under his skin. The creature‟s blood splattered chest heaved, while silver eyes regarded Don Carlo curiously. “What do you really want?” Don Carlo‟s voice was thick with weariness and regret. “I beg of you, do not bore me with claims of honoring a vow to avenge the vampire king. I‟ve lived long enough to know whatever compels you is nothing of the sort, mi amigo.” The gargoyle smiled, his white fangs flashing against slate gray skin. “You give me what I want and I‟ll make your death quick, old one.” Don Carlo bowed his head, removing his skull cap in order to let his horns rise. One last charge, a final attempt at a goring would be all he‟d have left. He stamped one foot, then another, as his nostrils widened in a snort. “My young friend, at my age, death . . . would be a welcome rest.”
Bare, tanned female legs were elevated on the arm of Havoc‟s sofa, while another pair of
shapely dark brown ones draped over the side of the other end, lazily swinging in the air. It was all Havoc could do not to salivate. Instead he listened to the excited chatter of Razher‟s friends from the safety of his kitchen. In his living room sat Eden the Valkyrie, Damalia the witch ─though she now called herself an Enchantress─ and Razher, who somberly smiled at her school mates attempts to take her mind off Machiavelli Faust, a vampire whose species was her mortal enemy, yet he‟d given his life on her behalf.
Swiveling round and round on one of his kitchen stools was Adora the harpy, loudly bemoaning the fact that he didn‟t have any Cheese Whiz in the cupboard. “Ritz crackers and Cheese Whiz. That‟s all they needed to snack on,” Adora said, making not just herself dizzy by constantly spinning on her seat, but also Havoc. “You‟re in here co oking them a five star, three course meal, and what are they doing? They‟re cluttering up your living room and calling you to bring them soda, like you‟re a servant.” Adora hopped off the stool. “I‟m gonna put a stop to it, cuz slave days are over.” Havoc nodded, not really listening. Harpies were known not just by their unholy shriek, but the amount and frequency of words they spoke. For the last half hour Adora had peppered him with questions on his marital status and how many of his brothers had arranged marriages. “None,” he‟d answered, artfully adding cloves to a nice rack of barbequed ribs. Both the Valkyrie and Razher stated that they had a taste for ribs, and with the enchantress able to conjure up a spell that spirited the beef away from his local butcher into his kitchen, Havoc had no choice but to accommodate them. The only one of the four who appeared miffed at all this was Adora, but Havoc was beginning to suspect it was because she wanted his undivided attention. The commotion in the living room stopped him from continuing to admire that gleaming rack of ribs. Ye gods! He rushed into the room, wanting to shield his eyes from the sight of Adora slapping at the Valkyrie‟s outstretched hands, while Razher and the enchantress tried to separate the two. “We‟re here to cheer up Razher! Not so‟s you can feed your face!” Adora‟s statement was followed by another whack aimed at the Valkyrie. “Oh shut the hell up. You‟re just mad because he‟s not falling all over you,” Eden shouted, fighting against Damalia‟s iron grip on her wrists. “You‟ve been telling us since we were got here, „Gargoyles always thirsty for a harpy‟. Razher‟s eyes sparked gold, and she let out a low warning growl. “Both of you better quit it right now, or Adora, I‟m gonna dunk you in the tub. And Eden, we‟ll see if a Valkyrie can fly without her sword, because I‟m gonna throw you off the balcony!” While Eden plopped back on the couch with a pout, Adora sulked in a large chair directly opposite. They were like those women on The Jerry Springer Show, eying each other warily, ready and willing to jump up swinging once the bell rang.
“Is it safe for me to enter?” Havoc stood there, looking handsome and sweetly confused at the admiring stares coming his way. “Sure you can,” Damalia said. “Never mind about fixing us any more food.” With a wave of her finger all the cuisine they hadn‟t touched magically vanished, only to re-appear in the kitchen of a homeless shelter on the other side of the city. “Come on and have a seat next to me,” Eden said, scooting over in order to make space. Everything in his living room was oversized in order to accommodate his widened girth whenever he‟d transform into a gargoyle. “You can tell us all about Mac, since he was your best friend.” Havoc glanced at Razher, wondering if that would be wise. Mac‟s ashing was still too fresh and too painful for them both. “I-uh . . .” “Didn‟t you say you had somewhere to go?” Razher said, slyly giving him an out. “I don‟t want you to be late, and you‟ve already been so nice to my friends-” “I did have to leave for a few hours. I‟d asked one of the twins to come over, just to keep you company while I‟m out,” Havoc answered. “But that was before your friends stopped by.” “We‟re here,” Damalia shrugged. “We can stay until he gets here. And even if he doesn‟t come by we can stay until you get back.” “I‟ll be fine Hardball,” Razher said, calling him by the nickname Mac had given him as they exchanged sad smiles. “And I promise not to let Adora and Eden destroy your place while you‟re gone.”
Had some wounded animal gotten trapped in the confines of the security fence? That was the only explanation for the wail grating Nico‟s ears. The closer he got to Mac‟s bedroom, the more he realized that unholy sound wasn‟t coming from outside their large, heavy fortified estate, but from behind his traitor of a big brother‟s door. Nico didn‟t bother to announce himself as the guard unlocked a door now reinforced with steel. Even the shutters in Mac‟s room had some sort of steel mesh over them, ensuring that neither Mac nor any other vampire would have the ability to de-materialize in or out. As Nico walked throughout the place he was met with a blast of music, and also steam. The cloudy air was enough to fog up the security cameras embedded in all four corners, cameras that were used to monitor Mac‟s activity. Each day that Machiavelli Faust was held prisoner in his own home, he‟d come up with some juvenile way to screw with the guards, but his primary target was Nico, since securing Mac was now his job. Wadding through a room so thick with foggy air that he had trouble seeing in front of him, Nico hollered out his brother‟s name. Exasperated, he stood with his hands on his hips, realizing this was part of Mac‟s plan to piss him off. As the steam began to fade Nico could make out his brother heading towards him, completely naked and still wet from a shower. The markings on Mac‟s chest were plain to see, even more prominent than the wolf bite on his cheekbone. Nico recognized the bite, but he hadn‟t figured out what the pattern on his chest meant. No one in his family recognized it, not even their family historian. The thing was like some sort of ancient hieroglyph. Ever the jokester, when Mac caught his little brother‟s fascination with his new body markings he pranced in a circle for Nico‟s inspection. “You like?” “What is it?” Mac grinned, his violet eyes turning bright raspberry. “I made a deal with the devil.” “You can‟t be serious.” “Not that devil. One of the djinn persuasion. He‟s sort of my plan B.” Mac gave Nico a knowing wink. “Pepe, have I told you how much I love it when you let your hair grow out?”
Nico grimaced. The white stripe just above his forehead was always more pronounced as his hair grew. And Mac continued to kid him about looking like Pepe Le Pew. “Do you still truly think you‟re in love with that . . . that she-wolf?” Nico countered, charging the subject and getting in his own dig at Mac. “I don’t think I love her. I know it.” “Look, I‟m not here to talk about your puppy love. I‟m only here because-” Mac held up his finger. “Silence bro. This is my part.” With a balled fist and looking as if he were curling a weight in the same hand, Mac dipped down, letting out another yell that was so far removed from the singer he was trying to imitate, it probably wasn‟t on any known musical scale. After Mac finished he waited for his brother to at least give him a couple of claps. “Well?” “Well, what?” Nico said. This game was way past tiresome. “What‟s the verdict?” “About your singing? Or are you asking for info on your punishment?” With a smirk, Mac headed over to his mini-fridge. “I‟m a big boy. If the Duma is planning to ash me at dawn, then just say it. I think I‟d be more hurt if you say I didn‟t hit that note.” “Not only didn‟t you „hit that note‟ but I don‟t think I‟ve ever heard anything so horrible in my entire life.” Mac gave him a look of mock indignation, pursing his lips Zoolander style. “You say that like it‟s a bad thing.” “You need to take this more serious.” “Whoa ho ho. Listen to you, trying to school me. The position of prissy older brother is already taken by Maelstrom. Or are you gunning for his spot too?” Ignoring another attempt to goad him, Nico picked up a pair of sweat pants that lay on top of an ever growing pile of dirty clothes. “I only came in here to ask you to cut out the silliness,” he said, throwing the pants Mac‟s way. “All that steam keeps fogging up the camera lenses.” “Tough. Shit.” “And you‟re using up the hot water. Mëmë doesn‟t want the girls going below to use the underground springs.” Mac nodded. The last thing he wanted was to inconvenience his mother, or his dead sister‟s daughters. “Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. Is there anything else?” “Cadmilla called again. What do you want me to tell her?”
“Tell her the truth. Tell her how it won‟t look good for her social standing to be cavorting with a known traitor.” “She cares about you-” “The only thing Cadmilla cares about is herself.” Angrily wrenching off the cap on an ice cold bottle of Yoo-hoo, Mac took a deep gulp before continuing. “-And the crown. But since I won‟t be wearing it, most likely she‟s trying to buddy up to you „cause you‟re nex t in line. So all her phone calls are really for your benefit, not mine.” “Mac-” “This conversation is over. Now get the hell outta my room.”
***** “How many times do I have to tell you? I‟m an enchantress,” Damalia said. “Not some filthy, grave robbing necromancer.” Adora coughed into her fist, trying to disguise her crack, “AKA a witch.” “I‟m an ENCHANTRESS!” “Jeez Damalia, all she wants to do is talk to her dead boyfriend,” Eden groused, looking like she wanted to pop her one. “It‟s not like you have to raise a frickin‟ corpse.” “No, I don‟t want to talk to some ghostly vision of Mac,” Razher said, hoping to clear up any confusion. “I wanna see him like he was, at home and acting stupid-” Damalia‟s brow rose in question. “So he was pretty, but he had rocks for brains, huh?” “No,” Razher snapped. “He was smart. And funny. That‟s what I love─ that‟s what I loved about him, that he had brains and beauty, but he still didn‟t take himself seriously. Plus he could really dance, I mean, for a vampire.” Eden quickly honed in on her admission. “Love? Tearsah . . . oh shoot, I keep forgetting your new name‟s Razher. But uh, you were in love with this vampire?” “Not just in love. I was madly in love. And in lust.” “Oh wow.” “Only we didn‟t get the chance to make love, unfortunately.” AWKWARD . . . No one said anything until Damalia cleared her throat. “I know a spell, but I‟ll need something of his, like a hair brush or a shirt.”
“Done,” Razher said, already knowing where to look. “What else?” “We need a mirror. And we‟ve got to hold hands.” “But I just did my nails,” Adora pouted, wigging her fingers as proof. Eden did an eye-roll. “You‟re always doing your nails, every minute of the frickin‟ day.” “Oh no you didn‟t-” “I just did.” Eden stuck her neck out, leaping up to get into Adora‟s face, while the harpy‟s hands curled into fists as she hissed a retort in Latin. “Fac ut vivas,” Adora said, coolly looking Eden up and down. “Ha! Did you hear her?” Eden screeched. “What kind of crap is this, telling me to get a life? And in Latin? Ooh, look everybody, Adora is just so special-” “Eden, please!” Damilia gave the Valkyrie an imploring look. “This is about Tearsah, not you and Adora fighting over the gargoyle. And since he‟s gone, who are you trying to impress?” “Thank you,” Adora said. Razher got up off the couch, promising to come back once she got the items Damalia asked for. “I‟ll don‟t think Havoc will mind if we use his room. He‟s got a huge mirror in there.”
***** A Marvin Gaye song was booming, making Havoc‟s mirror shake. Every so often an off key note joined Marvin‟s lilting, soulful tenor. A giggle burst from Razher‟s mouth, and she glanced around at each of her friends, wondering what they thought of Mac. “Oh my,” Eden said, sitting up straighter on the bed. “He was adorable!” She nudged Damalia hard in the ribs. “Hey witchy poo, can you zoom in any closer?” “Look at his tight little butt, and those abs!” Adora hollered. “Turn around . . . come on, give us the Full Monty,” Damalia said, practically forming at the mouth. “Show us some frontal nudity, ae?” Mac didn‟t turn around. His back stiffened and he lowered the volume of his sound system with a wave of his hand. Twisting his head, his eyes scanned the room, trying to pinpoint where the voices were coming from. “Hello? Razher, is that you?” Razher looked over at Damalia. “I thought this was a memory?”
“RAZHER?” Mac grabbed his towel off a chair and hesitantly walked toward the mirror on his wall. “Razher? It is you!!” “This can‟t be,” she whispered, her heart racing. “He‟s dead. I held his ashes. I sniffed them out-” “I‟m not dead,” Mac said. He was definitely getting audio from the mirror, but no picture. “Where are you?” “In my ─ I mean, in Havoc‟s bedroom.” “WTF?!” She threw out her hands even though he couldn‟t see her helpless shrug. “No, it‟s not what you think. We needed his mirror so Damalia could perform the seeing spell. My friends are here, all of them except Tyranny, but that‟s a long story. So you really should put some clothes on.” Mac glanced down, his face hot with embarrassment, tying the towel around his waist. “Oh, sorry. Hello . . . ladies.” “Don‟t be sorry. From what I can tell, you‟ve got nothing to be sorry about,” Adora grinned, gaining a “Hell Yeah,” and a high five from Eden. All they needed was some popcorn. “I wish I could see you,” Mac said. “Oh God, Razher. I need to let you know something. I love you, babe. I love you so much.” Razher reached out, needing to caress the reflection of the relieved male face staring back at her. The glass was cold to the touch. “Help me out here Damalia.” “W-we need to form another circle,” Damalia said, struck speechless at Mac‟s body builder physique. Unwilling to tear her eyes away from the vision of Mac, Razher snarled, “Get over here then.” The mirror got wavy on his side, with lines of flickering light. He could make out four figures all holding hands and chanting some type of incantation. And just when he thought the reception was too weak to really see clearly, ever so slowly the room and all its occupants came into view. He saw the long, ash blonde hair of Eden and Damalia‟s dark upwardly swirling locks as magic engulfed her. Adora looked much different than Razher‟s description. Thick red bangs almost covered her eyes. Her curls were gone, and her hair was buzz cut on each side. Razher broke from the group, momentarily coming into focus and walking close enough for him to stare
longingly at her. Lust hit him full on. His fangs elongated and his eyes simmered fire engine red. His towel rose, his body responding in a way that gave him the sweet sting of arousal. After weeks of dreaming about her and wishing his pillows were her soft, warm body, he was so ready to grab his shaft and stroke himself, not caring if this was a trick or some sort of hallucination. “Mac, I love you too,” she cried. “You‟re alive! Praise be to Īhowa!” She turned, giving her friends an incredulous, joyful smile. “Mac‟s not ashed! He‟s . . . he‟s alive! He‟s really alive!”
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