Immortals Saga #1: Immortal (Copyright 2008)
Author: Allison Cassatta

Chapter 1
Threat (Edited 10-20-10)

Chapter 1

 

“I want the Dhamphir child!” Niklas hissed, baring daggers for teeth, into the crowd of kindred surrounding him. His knees pressed against the honey-colored grains of an old but regal table as he straddled the nude cadaver of a girl who could’ve been someone’s beloved sister or nothing more than a forgotten harlot.

Oh, how delicious she had been, he thought as his blood-soaked fingers plunged into his mouth one by one, each sliding out clean and white as though nothing ever soiled them.

Evidence of death’s sweet kiss had made ruin of her slender neck. Auburn-colored curls fell in waves to cradle her peaceful face. He had been kind enough to blind her eyes from the horror of her own death and smart enough to gag her mouth to evade any possible screams. She deserved at least those little luxuries for her sacrifice.

She could’ve made a wonderful bride.

Her body built perfectly for the fiery sex that he would’ve given her, but her predilection for bad boys had landed her a gig as the main course of a sick buffet. He had taken her by enchantment, and she would’ve given him anything he had wanted, but tonight his mood had been much more vicious.

I might have loved you. I liked your spunk!

Niklas sneered before plunging towards her body for another round.

His tongue flicked across her breast, innuendo of the promises he had made before he’d taken her life. He caressed her cheek and flashed the very grin that had persuaded her to follow him long before her death. She had given him what he wanted, the thirst-quenching life that once flowed through her veins, and in return, he had given her peace that she may have never found without the touch of his brutal hands.

“It’s a shame, dear,” he whispered. His lips hovered above hers, close enough to kiss if only the stench of death hadn’t begun to blossom between them. “Such a beautiful girl, too bad you were so easily seduced.”

His seduction would’ve been the promise of love and romantic nights, the most pleasurable sex that any person could endure and an end to all of her suffering. Promises he would never have to deliver save the promise of serenity.

Niklas licked the remnants of her life from his mouth as he lifted himself from the corpse, brown leather duster flowing behind like a winged cloak. A few crimson spots of blood dripped to his chest, gleaming against the cool white of his body. His fingers brushed across each spot with exact intent. He drew those cruel weapons of pleasure and pain to his mouth and sucked the blood away.

His victim’s body stretched across the table for all to enjoy. He stood at the head, as any ruthless ruler should while his subjects surrounded him, waiting for their turn to taste of the girl. Her blood’s sweet, metallic scent floated through the air, mingled with the smell of Tennessee pine and danced amongst the flickering flames of every candle in the room. The aroma pushed the crowd of vampires that surrounded him to the edge of frenzy. They paid him no mind, only anticipated a taste of his victim’s body.

With a powerful, startling boom, he slammed his barbaric fists against solid wood. The table beneath began to rumble. “We must get the child, brothers! She will have more power than any our race has ever seen. A day walker, the girl will be able to move about the human community without threat. She will have all of our strengths and none of our weaknesses! Brethren, with her we can make their world ours! Mortals will finally know the hell they have put us through!”

His followers erupted in a cacophony of cheer as he rallied for their continued loyalty. Candles flickered against the clamor of his fellow kindred. He promised that with their help, they would no longer have to hide and feed off the vile blood of mountain animals.

What I wouldn’t promise to have that child, but promises like glass always shatter.

“Brothers, let us take what is ours, what we deserve. Are we not the stronger race?” A deep, rolling roar sliced through the room once again, forcing that devilish grin to ease across Niklas’s beautiful, rugged face. “Then why should we continue to hide? Let us use the strengths that we have received from this curse. With the child we shall take back what is rightfully ours.” He turned from the group. With arms spread towards the heavens he said, “Feast brothers. Do not let her sacrifice be in vain.”

He walked away feeling triumphant until his eyes caught sight of a dark, slender figure emerging from a long forgotten corner, far from the immortals she disregarded as her own kind. She considered those creatures no better than repulsive animals. Aurelia eased towards him, her silhouette moved like waves in a furious ocean. Her ginger-colored hair blended with the reflection of light that shimmered against her black silk dress.

          Aurelia drifted across the room, the sea of vampires parting as she passed through. She glided on the wings of the wind alone: no mechanical footsteps, no pounding on the floor beneath her feet, no bounce to her step. No, Aurelia had the sway of a ghost and damn near as terrifying as looking into the eyes of the Devil.

          Mother of God, save what soul I have before she devours it, Niklas silently prayed.

Wisps of jasmine and chamomile drifted behind her, leaving an intoxicating bouquet to intertwine with a trail of power that only elders had. She ran her pale fingers across Niklas’s muscular chest, wrapped cold hands against his broad shoulders as she circled him. His body stiffened and his anxiety brought a dainty sliver of laughter from her throat.

Oh, how she could easily send me into the pits of Hell.

Aurelia casually leaned in close to her kindred, close enough to place a sensual kiss on his lips. Her golden-blue eyes twinkled amongst soft alabaster skin, lips as red as fire drifted towards his cheek and caressed its flesh. Only Monet could have painted something so beautiful, so abstract, from such a blank canvas. She had him under her control, as only an elder could do to a lesser immortal. She whispered soft, yet stern, warnings in his ear.

“Niklas, do not let your thirst for revenge outweigh the needs of your clan.”

“Sire, I need this,” flew from his mouth in a rush of breath.

We need this. Niklas, do not forget the intent of this little plan. Your revenge is of no regard to me,” Aurelia said, her accent an indistinguishable potpourri of dialects from around the world.

“Leo chose to love a mortal instead of remaining loyal to his true family. In my eyes, that is a crime punishable by death. A penalty I would gladly deliver, my lady.” He concluded keeping his voice low and calm. His familiar wicked grin had once again found its home painted across his face.

“Do not forget, I am not your sire. He is. You know what could happen if he dies. You have been one of us long enough to know these things, or should I remind you of the consequences?” She paused only briefly, allowing her words to sink in. “Be sure that your plan will not fail.” Her Romanian tongue lashed like a whip against his flesh.

Aurelia’s hand wrapped around his throat, fingers bit into skin in a motion so quick that it appeared as nothing more than a blur of white light. Her twisted smile mirrored in his shocked eyes so she could see the threat portrayed in an otherwise innocent expression.  Her hand gripped tighter, slowly applying more pressure, tighter and tighter until she had his complete attention.

“You will not fail me, Niklas. This is your warning,” she said as she released his throat from her icy grip.

“I understand fully.”

He bowed as he backed away from her. His hand eased over the marks her fingers left in his flesh. He wondered for a moment why he allowed himself to be involved with her again. One successful escape almost guaranteed the next would be a failure.

“And into the pits of Hell I go,” he whispered to himself.

Her touch alone had made chills flutter across his skin. Niklas would never show his fear to anyone and could barely admit it to himself. He stole a quick peek over his shoulder in hopes that Aurelia wouldn’t be watching as he walked away. When she failed to appear, his triumphant glory returned and he found himself ready to seek revenge.

His eyes scoured the room of bloodthirsty immortals searching for a special accomplice, one that would obey as ordered, never questioning his leader’s desires. Someone smart who didn’t mind falling in at a lower rank. Someone strong and fast but easily beaten if they got out of line. Someone just as underhanded as himself, yet could still be trusted.

Many men passed before his eyes: all vicious and hungry for a taste of power, none worthy of holding his life in their hands, all too dumb or too weak, too arrogant or too stubborn. Until his eyes caught the faint shimmer of silver shining through the crowd. Niklas only noticed the man by the jewelry pressed to his face and ears. No one would’ve ever noticed that smaller vampire, maybe never considered him a warrior, but something about him made Niklas see past his soft façade.

Niklas sauntered towards his green-haired kindred, his stride confident and commanding as he approached the man. The stranger stood alone tucked against a wall far from the crowd of frenzied immortals. Niklas’s eyes narrowed, focused on the man standing before him.

“You have no ties to Aurelia, yes?” Niklas said as his hand grasped the man’s shoulder.

“No, I don’t even know who you’re talking about.” His eyes turned to glimpse the other vampire’s pale hand invading his space. “I suggest you take your hand off of me before I rip your throat out.” His tattooed arm grabbed Niklas’s wrist, quickly pushing it away from the worn, black t-shirt that covered his milky, white body.

A tight, sinister chuckle pressed through Niklas’s lips. “I believe you’re just the man I’m looking for,” he said.

“What are you talking about?”

“I have a secret. Can you be trusted?”

“If I said yes, then you would never trust me. Loaded question isn’t it?”

“Touché!”

“So what’s the big secret?”

Niklas’s eyes narrowed. He searched the man for some telltale sign, something that reeked of traitor. His mouth opened then closed again. Finally, he said, “Aurelia feels we can take Leo’s daughter without killing him first. She has this sick fascination with turning him on to our ways, bringing him back. I cannot make her see that he is lost to us.”

“And what does this matter to me?” The green-haired vampire’s eyes narrowed.

“Our kind will finally be liberated, free to feed as we are meant to.”

“Obviously, you misunderstood my question. My services don’t come cheap and I don’t do charity for the greater good,” he looked the man over again, “or evil.”

“How about power and the taste of fresh, human blood whenever you desire? I’ll make sure you stay well fed and well paid as long as you promise your allegiance.”

“Okay, I’m listening.”

“Does that mean I have your loyalty, friend?”

“I said I’m listening. I’ve made no promises to you and you are no friend of mine.”

“I think I can sway your judgment.”

“You’re pretty sure of yourself.”

“I am sure of my cause.”

“Okay, I might play ball.”

“Betray me and I’ll have you begging for mercy. I assure you there is no place on this earth you can hide. I’m twice as brutal as they think I am.” Niklas’s hand sliced towards the crowd feeding on the nearly bloodless cadaver he left behind.

“I won’t betray you as long as the pay is good and the blood is fresh, but I don’t take too kindly to threats. You would do well remembering that.” The green-haired vampire moved in, now within inches of Niklas’s face. “I too am a lot more brutal than I appear.”

 

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