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Dante Seraphim

My name is Dante Seraphim and I’m going to tell you about werewolves. There are two types of werewolves. Lycanthropes (lowborn) which are bitten and Garou (highborn) that inherit it. Vampires and werewolves used to be on friendly terms. Werewolves would protect us during the day and we would protect them from everything else. Although fiercely loyal, werewolves do not tolerate abuse. When loyalty became slavery the werewolves revolted and started a blood feud that lasts to this day. I was unfortunate enough to be born after the feud began. All my fledgling years I was taught to kill a werewolf on sight or else he’d do the same to me.

 

Werewolves and vampires have a common weakness: silver. A silver bullet through either of our hearts is the end of us. To maintain contact with silver burns them as it does us. Werewolves are living creatures; they die of old age and disease, but less likely from disease. They heal quickly but do not have our regenerative properties. A vampire loses a hand, it will grow back, not so for the werewolf. A silver bullet is not the only way to kill a werewolf, cut its head off, and it will die. Do excessive damage to its body, it will die. Kill its mate and sometimes they die of a broken heart, but usually after extracting revenge for the mate. They are as strong as a vampire and nearly as fast. They have a finer sense of smell and greater hearing. Yet they manage to make it through each day without the sensory deprivation that vampires require.

 

Lycanthropes are held by the moon’s sway. They only transform at the full moon. They also possess less intelligence while in wolf form, only driven by hunger. When a person is bitten, regardless of age they start the change at the next full moon. Garou don’t change until puberty sets in. They are forced to transform at the full moon but can change between human and wolf any other time by will. In wolf form they hold their intelligence. Garou can assume a complete wolf form or the hybrid wolf-man. Lycanthropes can only transform as far as the hybrid. To a vampire all werewolves smell like earth and wet dog.

 

It was a shock to see one standing at my door. I jerked the gun out of its holster. I all but slept with at least one Les Baer. My guns always held silver bullets. The man suddenly jerked his hands up. On top of the earthy wet dog scent I smelled blood and spotted it on his hand and more on his side, dribbling down his pants onto the carpet of the corridor. His eyes rolled back into his head and he fell towards me. I caught him, and thought if I was a smart vampire, I’d kill him. Only I’m not a smart vampire.

 

The three of us were arguing. Faust was all for killing the werewolf that lay unconscious and bandaged in my bed. Jacqueline was on my side, she was curious what the werewolf wanted and he seemed familiar to her. I wondered who had shot the werewolf with a silver bullet; completely miss the heart, and why he had shown up on my doorstep of all the havens he could have gone to.

 

“Dante you don’t know what you’re getting into! He’s a werewolf for Heaven’s sake! He’s probably a spy. Werewolves have been trying to eradicate vampires for millennia,” Faust shouted. Most vampires go so far in fashion and stop. Faust’s clothing was often pre-1800’s frock coats, vests, linen shirts and silk cravats. His long white locks were held at his neck in a black velvet ribbon.

 

“A spy? Really Marcus? Why spy on Dante?” Jacqueline asked, “He’s not even important. No offense.” She glanced at me and gave me a weak smile. Jacqueline was pacing the foot of the bed, a cigarette in a long black holder. She was dressed in fashion reminiscent of the 1940’s, if the ’40’s had a Gothic flair.

 

“None taken,” I snapped back. My sense of fashion was more modern than both and less Gothic. I preferred denims, cotton shirts and boots. Like Faust I often wore my own long locks tied back, but today they were loose.

 

Jacqueline didn’t use a phone and I needed her opinion on what to do about the problem giving little doggy snores in my bed. In order to get in touch with her I had to call Faust who had very nicely driven Jacqueline to my apartment. When he smelled the werewolf he’d barged in, and had tried to kill John Doe. Or should I call him John Wolfe?

 

“Dante is the private dick to the underworld; I suppose it was only time before one of them showed up.” Okay, they were arguing. I was a spectator.

 

“Marcus be reasonable for once,” Jacqueline still called Faust by his first name. “They need Dante. The young ones have found someone who listens to them and helps with their problems.”

 

“He’s not their guidance counselor, Jacqueline,” Faust snapped at her.

 

“Only recently did vampires form communities, it’s the young ones that will decide who leads them,” Jacqueline explained.

 

“Are you saying Dante is going to be the next Regent of Czar or whatever of the City?” Faust scoffed.

 

“I’m standing right here.” I interjected. Faust was more than millennia older than I was, no telling how old Jacqueline was and they bickered like an old married couple. I often felt like their kid, and in a way I was. I was Faust’s only vampire child.

 

“I remember where I’ve seen him before!” Jacqueline exclaimed. “He belongs to Serena.” She inhaled on her cigarette.

 

“He deserves even more to die,” Faust lunged towards the bed. For a second time Jacqueline and I fought him off. Faust was not only strong with age, but he had a gladiator’s body. He was taller than I and nearly twice as broad in the shoulder. Faust had a brute strength where I’d been described as a lither, cat like. One would expect me to have been larger due to my Viking heritage.

 

“Serena’s not active yet, so I don’t think she has any hold on him,” I stated.

 

“Only he doesn’t belong to her anymore,” Jacqueline wondered out loud. Her memory wasn’t what it used to be after Serena had stolen her essence. “Something about him escaping with a lesser vampire…” She trailed off.

 

“Vampires and werewolves are enemies, why would a werewolf serve a vampire?”

 

“He’s not my servant, he’s my friend,” spoke a voice behind us and I turned to see what vampire went with the smell of death and heated metal. The vampire was a little stick of a man and a fledgling. He looked a year or so into his vampirism. He still had the tan of the living. His hair was brunette and shaggy with tiny curls at the ends. An adolescent partial wispy beard was on his chin. His blue eyes seemed older but I pegged him no more than 17 or 18. I hated it when vampires embraced kids.

 

“How old are you?” I asked.

 

“Twenty-two.” He seemed afraid of us, and yet his gaze traveled to the werewolf in my bed. He hadn’t entered the room but hovered in the doorway.

 

“How long have you been a vampire?” Jacqueline asked.

 

“Five years.” I looked at the man in my bed. He was mid-thirties in the face, long blonde hair, and a neatly trimmed goatee and deeply tanned. He had workers hands, covered in calluses.

 

“Tell me about the werewolf,” I said. Faust blessedly remained quiet. I took the fledgling vampire by the arm and led him to my kitchen. It had been rebuilt and redecorated since I obliterated with my mind. I offered a chair for him to sit and pulled a bag of blood from my fridge, ripped off the cap with my teeth and poured it into a cup for him. My kitchen doubled as my office. My laptop was on the paper-covered table, and Vladimir snoozed on the open laptop’s keyboard. Vladimir had almost no human mind anymore and was like owning a vampire cat.

 

“His name is Sam. He and I are mistakes,” the vampire said and sipped the blood delicately with almost a sign of revulsion on his face. I spotted the scars on his hands from countless vampire bites. Usually when someone became a vampire they lose all scars and injuries wrought in life. He smelled like a vampire but sitting across from me I’d have sworn he was human.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Victor, sir,” he replied and set the cup down. He didn’t look at me. He looked at the table top, out my repaired window, at the ceiling, his hands, my chest, everywhere but my face.

 

“Why are you two mistakes?” Lycanthropes were always accidental but a vampire always had a reason for embracing someone.

 

“I was Serena’s Delicacy,” he said quietly. He didn’t have to say much more, that explained the bite scars. Every once in a while a vampire finds a human with an exceptional tasting blood; usually it’s because of a disease in the blood. The human is often treated like a prize lap dog; they are spoiled and given everything they ever want, but have to submit to being ‘sampled.’ Vampires are allowed to take the tiniest taste like the last glass of a fine wine being passed around. Delicacies often live short, anemic lives.

 

“How long did she have you?”

 

“Since I was five,” he said looking into his cup. I seethed from across the table but didn’t let it show. Vampires are excellent maskers of emotions. I had strong prejudices against vampires that preyed on children. “Serena got into a fight with another vampire over me. Blood was shed and some landed on my face and in my mouth.

 

“Why didn’t she kill you?”

 

“Even though I was a vampire, I still retained my Delicacy and became Sam’s keeper.” I felt terribly sorry for this vampire across the table from me. He was accidentally a vampire, and such a weak one I doubted he had any powers save his immortality and maybe a little strength and slightly keener senses. He was so weak a vampire he still tasted human. Normally a weakling such as him would be ‘put down.’ I doubted he had the strength to create another vampire.

 

“How is Sam a mistake? Lycanthropes are all mistakes.”

 

“He was bitten by a Garou,” Victor stated and I raised my brows. Garou didn’t bite humans, they were too proud. “He was the friend of a Delicacy that escaped from Serena. Driving his friend home Sam hit a Garou, pinned it to a tree with his car. Sam tried to help it, thought it was a dog. It snapped at him before it died. Sam is a Lycanthrope that has the control over his form like a Garou.”

 

“I’m surprised the Garou didn’t try to kill him.” I pulled a cigarette out of my pack, offered one to Victor who declined and lit up.

 

“They tried. They killed his wife and two kids. Serena took him in. He’s tried to commit suicide a couple of times, but she put vengeance into his heart, and then made him her guard dog. We escaped Serena together.” It honestly was a heart-breaking story.

 

“Why come to me?”

 

“There is a hunter after us and we have no one else to turn to, sir. You’re the ancient who helps fledglings.” I rubbed my face with my hand. I was going to crucify or stake whoever had told the nightlife of the City I could help with their problems. I felt like a vampiric psychiatrist sometimes.

 

“What do you want me to do? I don’t take on hunters.”

 

“You wiped out an entire team of the Brotherhood to save a human. What is one hunter?”

 

“He’s a werewolf, you’re a vampire, the two of you could handle one hunter.”

 

“It’s Simon Peter, sir.” Hearing that name made my own blood turn to ice.

 

“So you want me to protect you from Simon?” He nodded.

 

“I can speak for Sam, he’ll protect you during your day sleep,” Victor said quickly.

 

“I don’t sleep that much during the day,” I stated. He deflated, like someone had let all the air out of him. A breath whooshed from him lungs, but he didn’t inhale. We breathed because we needed air over our vocal cords to speak.

 

“I don’t have anything else to offer you,” Victor said sadly after inhaling. Then his face lit up and he held his hand out to me. “I’m a Delicacy. Please taste and see.” I shook my head and his hand dropped to the table. I wasn’t sure what game I was playing but I intended to protect them. If I was a smart vampire I’d have thrown him and the werewolf out, but as I said before: I’m not a smart vampire.

 

“Wait here.” I said and as I walked from my kitchen past my living room to my bedroom. I threw the door open; Jacqueline and Faust looked like they were casually lounging around the room. I knew both had been eavesdropping. Becoming involved with my private investigating was the most entertainment they’d had in decades.

 

“I’ll kill the werewolf, Dante you take the fledgling,” Faust stated as I entered the room. Jacqueline had placed herself into a chair. One leg crossed over the other. Sam the werewolf was still asleep. I closed the door behind me and leaned on it. Faust glared at me a moment. “You’re mad, Dante. You can’t protect them from Simon Peter. I don’t even know why you would try.”

 

“What do you know about him,” I asked putting out my cigarette.

 

“He’s a Fallen, Dante.”

 

“More like a Leaper,” Faust snorted. “Legend says he got tired of watching our corruption spread across the land. He left Heaven to save Man from Us.”

 

“Those Brotherhood you killed to rescue Elliot?” Jacqueline began, “They were children compared to Simon. They were at least human, with human weaknesses.”

 

“How do I kill a Fallen?” I asked.

 

“You have to separate the head from the heart, just like the rest of us,” Jacqueline said indicating the vampires and the werewolf in the room with a wave of her hand.

 

“What about silver?”

 

“He has no weaknesses, Dante,” Jacqueline’s voice was soft as she stood up and crossed the room to me. “Send them away. I’d hate to see anything happen to you.” She kissed my cheek before turning to look at Faust. “Take me home, Marcus. Dawn is coming.” My blinds were on a timer and all the shades in all the rooms began to lower. Jacqueline & Faust walked from my bedroom, ignored the vampire in my kitchen and left my apartment. I looked at the vampire in my kitchen. He’d gotten up and began to pace and fidget. It was the sign of a vampire who knew dawn was coming and didn’t have a safe place to sleep.

 

“Victor.” He looked up at me. His blue eyes were the color of a cloudless sky but so filled with worry. “I’ll do my best to keep you safe from Simon.” I suddenly saw a great weight lifted from him. “This way, before you pass out.” I led him to a little room, specifically built for my Isolation Tank. He looked querulously at it. It was slightly longer than I was tall, and designed for complete submersion. A human would breath through a respirator, but vampires don’t breathe if we don’t want to and we don’t breathe while day sleeping.

 

“You don’t sleep in a coffin?”

 

“Seems Serena was old fashioned. No I don’t sleep in a coffin. Take your clothes off, and when you submerge, stop breathing. As Victor stripped I noticed the scar tissue around his wrists and ankles. Bite marks were everywhere, feet, legs, arms, chest, back, and groin. I felt sorry for him even more than before. He clumsily climbed into the tank. “Don’t be afraid.” He closed his eyes and slid under the water, I closed the lid over him.

 

I watched the sunrise, before the pain sent me inside from the roof. It was a small pleasure I had missed and managed to live long enough to see again. Something smelled wrong in my apartment, other than the earth and wet dog. I removed the Les Baer from its holster and swung around a doorway to point my gun at a man in my apartment, who was in turn pointing his gun at me. He didn’t smell human, he didn’t smell like anything. He wore a broad rimmed hat, and a long gray coat. The gun in his hand was old, an old Colt, I hadn’t seen since the Civil War. We stood there a moment, eyes fixed, pistols raised.

 

“Who are you?” I asked of the man in my hall.

 

“Simon Peter.” He answered no louder than a whisper. A scarf was wound around his neck but I could make out the tips of scars poking above it. “I’ve come for the werewolf and the wee vampire. I’m not here for you, Asvald Leifsson.” This was the 3rd uninvited guest in my apartment and it was only 5 AM. I was curious that he knew my Norse name; I had not used it since I became a vampire.

 

“I can’t let you have them, they asked me for protection.”

 

“I don’t want to kill you, Leifsson. You’ve got more humanity than most humans.” That surprised me. “Just let me kill the kid and the werewolf and I’ll leave.”

 

“No,” I stated firmly.

 

“You’re gonna wish I had taken them off your hands,” Simon said lowering his gun and I had every opportunity to shoot him but I lowered mine as well. “Others will come.” He walked past me and out my front door. I sighed and holstered my gun. I pulled a cigarette out, crushed the empty pack and tossed it aside. Vladimir sauntered in from another room. I poured Victor’s undrank blood into a bowl on the floor. The black cat lapped greedily. I stroked his back.

 

“Poor Vlad. Wish I knew the cure,” I crooned and stood up. “I should install a revolving door.” I said as I pointed at the woman in white in my kitchen. Even though I was angry I was happy to see her. Looking at her filled with me warm nostalgia. I felt that I could become human again from just being in her presence.

 

“You’re in danger,” she said in an accentless voice.

 

“No. He left,” I stated sitting in a chair and trying to make some sort of filing system of the papers that covered my kitchen table.

 

“Dante,” she said my name so lovingly I had to stop and look up at her troubled face. It was like looking at the sun, its brilliance warming you. She wore a plain white dress of cotton, silver jewelry, and was barefoot. Her blond waves hung around her shoulders.

 

“Chalarty, I know Simon will be back,” I said in low tones.

 

“You may not be able to do this one alone,” she placed her hand over mine and was instantly gone. I closed the laptop and went to my gun cabinet. I removed the twin to the Les Baer I carried on me. I cleaned each gun, loaded them and walked into my spare bedroom. I did not have a spare Isolation Tank.

 

 

 

Day sleep for a vampire, even a fledgling who has no choice, without the Isolation Tank or the coffin in the earth, is like trying to sleep with noisy neighbors. I can hear their voices, the TV, the water running. I heard the sounds on the street, the cars and occasional siren. I sat up from my bed, irritable, and a gun in each hand. Both guns were pointed at the man standing in the doorway. It was the werewolf; he was dressed, and held a cup of coffee from the Starbucks that rented from my building.

 

“Evenin,” he said quietly. His voice having a slight southern twang. “I apologize for intruding on you earlier. Vic and I have no place to go.”

 

“There were plenty of other places for you to go,” I holstered my guns in the small of my back.

 

“Not for a vampire and a werewolf,” I walked past him. It was the first sign he was different. Werewolves don’t refer to themselves as such. They are strictly Lycanthropes or Garou. I walked into my Isolation room and opened the lid to the tank as Victor jerked out of the water, splashing it over the side and gasping for breath.

 

“Hey bud,” Sam greeted and handed Victor a towel as I left the room. I wanted blood and a cigarette. Sam entered my kitchen as I was slurping hungrily from one of the Red Cross expired bags. I tossed the bag in the trash and opened a fresh pack of smokes. After feeding I felt slightly better as the blood coursed through me, making my pale cheeks rosy, and my lips pinker. Victor entered, and stood slightly behind Sam who was much taller. I offered the smokes to Sam, who accepted, and Victor who declined again. “Vampires smoke?”

 

“Not like it’s gonna kill me,” I replied sitting in a chair. I looked at Victor. “Blood’s in the fridge.” Sam sat across from me, smoking and drinking his coffee.

 

“You gonna help us?” Sam said as Victor daintily sipped from the bag.

 

“Yes but I’m not sure why,” I replied. The blood and cigarette helped my mood. Vladimir jumped onto the table and lay down amongst the papers. He smelled of death and cat. Sam looked at him then looked up at me, cocking a blonde brow. “He’s a vampire. Long story.” Vladimir even though he no longer had his human mind, was still my best friend. “I’ve already had a visit from Simon Peter this morning.”

 

“You obviously lived,” Sam stated as Victor sat in another chair at my kitchen table.

 

My doorbell rang. Creatures of the night usually didn’t use doorbells. It wasn’t until I got close to the door I smelled death and mildew and urine. I didn’t expect them to blow up my door, and practically me with it. The blast knocked me across the room, broke several bones, and singed most of the hair off my body. I struggled for consciousness. My body felt like it had been through a meat grinder. Two vampires I didn’t know entered my apartment. One held a crossbow, the other a rifle. As I spent the blood I just drank to pull myself from the wreckage of my living room and battered body. They shot a tranq dart at Sam, who took a couple of steps and collapsed, and then the two men turned on Victor and shot him in the chest with the crossbow. I reached behind me for my pistol only to also take a crossbow bolt to the chest.

 

 

 

Vampires hate getting staked. It’s like an OFF switch. I’m not conscious of anything that happens when I’ve been staked. I don’t even experience oblivion. When the stake is removed we have a tendency to show our worst sides. I would have leaped upon whoever had removed the stake and drained them dry if I hadn’t been suspended by the shackles on my wrists. I slowly blinked in the bright light as I jerked in my bonds. I was in the interior room of a lavish house. In front of me stood the two vampires who had entered my house, Mildew & Piss. They were just average thugs turned vampire thugs. Each one had one of my Les Baers tucked into his belt. I also smelled death and vodka behind me.

 

“When a vampire takes control of a city the servants of the former monarch are hunted and killed lest they attempt to overthrow or assassinate the new ruler,” the voice had a Russian accent, but pleasant to listen to.

 

“Victor wasn’t a threat to anyone, he’s barely a vampire,” I snapped at the voice behind me.

 

“Victor is hardly a threat to the humans much less one of us,” the voice chuckled and he walked into me view. Nicolai Ginovaeff was a not much to look at. His most striking quality was the short red hair in a military cut. He held a cigar in his hand and was dressed in a fancy double breasted suit. “I’m talking about you.”

 

“I am not one of Serena’s servants. I was the one who left the City rulerless.”

 

“You may not be her servant but you are a threat to me.” He sat down in a wingback chair across from me between his two goons. Nicolai snipped the cigar, and lit it with a match. I really wanted a cigarette.

 

“I don’t meddle with vampire politics.” The fact he hadn’t killed me while I was incapacitated was a good thing, it meant he wanted something from me first.

 

“How do you explain Serena?”

 

“She took something important to me,”

 

“Jacqueline Amoré,” Nicolai commented. “Its amazes me about you. You will do anything to help your friends. A vampire with your age, knowledge, powers, and yet the loyalty of a dog.”

 

“What have you done with Victor and Sam?” I asked.

 

“Exactly what I mean.” He puffed on the cigar. “Serena kept Sam as a pet, mostly ravenous and in wolf form. She didn’t realize the treasure she had.” He paused dramatically. “A Lycanthrope with the control of a Garou. He can create a new race of werewolves to serve Us.”

 

“He won’t do it,” I said quickly. I didn’t know Sam but more than one day, but I knew his kind. He’d die before passing on his affliction.

 

“It’s why we had to keep his pipsqueak friend alive. Mr. Collins will need persuasion.”

 

“What about me?”

 

“Ah yes, what about you?” He did his dramatic pause again. “I’m going to let you in on a little secret.” He leaned forward in the chair, the leather creaking. The vodka I had smelled wasn’t just his scent but on his breath. Vampires could drink alcohol but it thins the blood making us weaker. A drunken vampire is as close as we can get to human, or our fledgling years. “I can’t kill you, not that I would like to, but if I did I would have every vampire under two hundred in revolt. Keeping you alive so you can do your little private detective work for the fledglings keeps them pacified. However, you need to walk away from the werewolf and his friend on this one. I’d rather not have a revolt, but I will put one down if it means keeping you out of my affairs.” In short he just threatened to kill me. “I’m going to let you go, but I need your word as a vampire, you won’t kill me.” I was now between a rock and a hard place.

 

“You have my word as a vampire,” I spoke and there was almost the sound of a click and a twinge of magic. Piss & Mildew stepped forward and unlocked my shackles. With the speed of age I grabbed my Les Baers from their belts and fired. They instantly burned up and turned to swirling ash. Nicolai looked calmly at me. “I can’t kill you, but they had it coming.” I holstered my Les Baers into the small of my back where they belonged.

 

“The exit is that way,” Nicolai pointed and I left his mansion.

 

 

 

“Have you lost your mind?” Faust asked. I assumed Jacqueline lived with him; she was always at his place. Faust lived in a grand mansion outside the City. Faust was yelling at me from behind an old oak desk that Jacqueline was sitting on. I had taken a taxi from Nicolai’s mansion to Faust’s. I was still dirty and grumpy from the explosion and being staked.

 

“Just tell me how to find him,” I pleaded.

 

“What makes you think we know where he is?” Faust asked.

 

“You know everything, especially the movements of one bad ass vampire hunter in case he would ever target you,” I explained. Faust opened his mouth but Jacqueline raised her hand and he closed it.

 

“Fair enough,” she said. I swear I had to stroke their egos in order to get anything from them. “He lives out of an old green and white SUV. We installed a GPS on it a while ago.” I looked at her. Jacqueline had surprised me. Both Faust and she were extremely old fashioned. Faust carried a cell phone, but neither owned a computer. He removed a small palm pilot looking device from his jacket pocket and handed it to me. A blue dot was moving across a map of the City.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“I’m surprised he didn’t kill you,” Faust said I stood to leave. “After all you are my childe.”

 

“He said I had more humanity than most humans.”

 

“He was right about that. Remember Dante, I’m the reason he whispers,” Faust stated. Up until now I’d never known that Faust and Simon had apparently tangoed.

 

 

 

Simon’s green and white SUV was a Ford Bronco from the late 70’s and showed every bit of its 33 years of age. It was so dusty and rusted I had a hard time telling that it was green and white. He had parked at a fast food restaurant and was sitting in the cab eating a hamburger. I had driven my new Dodge Challenger up next to him. His window was higher than mine but he had lowered the gun to accommodate the altitude. I did not bother to draw my own weapons. I had showered, changed, fed and was mildly less irritable than I had been a couple of hours ago.

 

“So the prodigal father sends his humanitarian son to kill me?”

 

“That’s a good description of Faust,” I replied getting out of my car and leaning against the door. Simon had not shot me, but he hadn’t lowered his weapon either. I noticed his scarf had been pulled away. His entire throat was bulbous scar tissue; Faust had apparently ripped it out. “I need your help.” Simon looked at me with shock on his face for a fleeting moment.

 

“I intend to eradicate vampires from the face of this world, I will save you for last,” Simon said lowering his gun and returning to his hamburger.

 

“I appreciate it, Simon. You were at my apartment to kill Sam and Victor; you knew Nicolai was going use Sam to breed a new kennel of werewolf watchdogs.”

 

“Humans have enough to be afraid of amongst their own kind. Vampires and werewolves run rampant even though they’re at each other’s throats, for the two to join forces again would eventually have the humans under vampire rule.”

 

“I doubt that, humans are stubborn, and quick to rise up in arms. They’d never let themselves be ruled by something not human.”

 

“It’s happened before, Leifsson, it was then I left His Grace, to protect the humans from the unnatural races that would do Man harm.”

 

“My name is Dante Seraphim,” I stated. He snorted and surprisingly smiled.

 

“I knew you as Asvald,” he said.

 

“I think I’d remember you,” I replied.

 

“You knew me before you were born,” he whispered. I didn’t ask him further. It made no sense.

 

“I can’t kill Nicolai, I don’t even want to kill him, but I need to rescue Sam and Victor. I promised I’d protect them from you.”

 

“Why ask me to save them if you know I’ll kill them?”

 

“Because you won’t kill them, they’re harmless if left alone.”

 

“I’ll help you, Leifsson, but you’ll always have to protect them, but not from me, not for a long time. Other vampires will be like Nicolai and use the werewolf and his vampire friend for the same means. You should rid yourself of this burden and let me end their lives.”

 

“No. Neither one asked for what they had been dealt in life. I will protect them,” I said firmly. Simon gave a raspy whispery laugh and went back to eating his hamburger.

 

“More humanity than most humans,” he said between bites. I had made an uneasy truce with the most feared vampire hunter in the world.

 

 

 

Simon followed me and we parked on the street outside the gated entrance of Nicolai’s mansion. I could see the vampires patrolling the grounds. The gates were locked, of course not a problem for me. I could easily leap them. Simon and I checked our weapons. Both of my Les Baers and my shotgun were loaded with silver.

 

“You’re about to shift the seat of power again, Asvald. Twice in one year is a record. Normally city rulers will rule for decades until they get bored or try to take over a larger city. Maybe you should install an ally into power. The rulers are usually pawns anyway.”

 

“I cannot kill Nicolai.”

 

“I can,” spoke a woman’s voice from the darkness. She had been downwind of me but as she neared I smelled the earth and wet dog. She emerged into the light of the street lamp. Both Simon and I had our guns trained on her. She wore red leather, was auburn haired and deeply tanned. “My name is Elfie Ginovaeff.” Unlike the Ginovaeff we were about to kill, she did not have a Russian accent. Hers was a broad Australian. “My mate is Yuri Ginovaeff, Nicolai’s brother.” That was rare. Brothers, one werewolf, one vampire. I could see no weapons on her but most Garou preferred teeth and claws.

 

“Return to your pack. I’d be obliged if you ended Nicolai but I cannot let you kill Sam,” I told the woman.

 

“We made a grave mistake in not bringing Sam into our pack. My mate is dying and we’ve no males capable of reproducing. I offer a truce between my pack and you, Seraphim.” I wonder why Simon had not killed her where she stood.

 

“He may not want to join the murderers of his family.” She looked down for a moment.

 

“It would be his choice.”

 

“If he chooses no, you’ll kill him?” I asked of her. She didn’t answer. “Why is he suddenly so important to your pack?”

 

“He’s the only male capable of breeding in the region,” saying it looked like she’d just been slapped in the face. “Yuri’s sons are both dead.” Her gaze gave a stare of daggers at Simon. I didn’t bother to look at him.

 

“Offer your pack’s protection to the vampire Victor; I would put money on it that Sam would join you.”

 

“I’ll remember that, Seraphim, shall we?” Elfie indicated the gates before us. She crouched and easily leaped over them.

 

“I’ll take the easy way in,” Simon whispered and climbed into his Bronco. He drove through the gates. They clanged off the cattle guard on his bumper with sparks. He was not subtle. I left my car and with a Les Baer in each hand began firing on Nicolai’s vampire thugs that attacked us. Simon’s aim was precise and his speed almost as good as mine. Elfie hadn’t bothered with guns and was ripping the vampires to shreds.

 

We battled our way into the mansion. The vampires on the grounds were young, fledglings. The vampires inside the mansion were older, faster and could have posed a problem if they’re guns had been loaded with silver. I dropped the clips from my Les Baers amongst the swirling ash of the two vampires I’d just killed. One had managed to get a shot into me, but my body was already healing. I had come well fed and had plenty of blood to spend.

 

“Where is Nicolai?” I asked out loud as Simon also reloaded. He expertly handled the old Colt. I heard Elfie sniff.

 

“He’s up there,” Elfie pointed to the balcony above us. Elfie and I both leaped but Simon was forced to jog up the stairs. “In here.” She was sniffing again. I kicked the doors, splintering them from their hinges. Shots were fired but I dropped the two vampires on either side of Nicolai. Elfie pounced on two on the right; Simon disposed of the two on the left. I barely heard him grunt as I aimed my weapons on Nicolai who held pistol pointed at me.

 

“You can’t kill me, Dante,” he said. “You’re sworn by magic.”

 

“Nicolai, this is Elfie, she’s a werewolf, and this is Simon Peter Diablo.” I could’ve sworn I saw Nicolai pale slightly, he was normally pale but I noticed him swallow. “Where are Sam and Victor?” I was already beginning to think Nicolai as a coward but I was surprised when he turned and burst through the windows behind him. The bastard could levitate. I jumped with all my blood spent energy and tackled his fleeing form around the waist. We plummeted to the ground.

 

I was stunned slightly but managed to roll over as Nicolai got to his feet. We were a good 50 yards from the mansion. Elfie jumped out the window and was running on all fours towards us. I didn’t look for Simon. I was expecting Nicolai to run away again. He gave a barking laughter.

 

“You can’t kill me!” He said in a high pitched voice.

 

“You keep reminding me.” I wanted to punch him and I did. He staggered surprised. I punched him again. With the strength of my blows I had felt his nose, jaw and teeth break. “I can’t kill you, but I can beat you with an inch of your life. Now where are they!”

 

“In the cellar,” he replied fearfully. Elfie had caught up and was crouched in case he was going to run again.

 

“Go Nicolai, keep your seat of power, but don’t ever fuck with me again!” Nicolai levitated away.

 

“You should have let me kill him,” Elfie said.

 

“He’s afraid of me. The next leader may not be,” I replied to her.

 

We returned to mansion and I found Simon holding his coat over his side. I could smell his blood, but it was acrid, like sniffing pure vinegar. Simon fought me weakly as I pulled his coat aside. One of the vampires had managed to get a bullet into his lower chest.

 

“You can’t heal yourself?” I asked confused.

 

“It’s all part of the ruse, Leifsson, I’m human. I’ll heal at human speed, or I’ll die and come back with a scar.”

 

“I don’t understand,” I said.

 

“I’m an immortal human. My body dies and will reawaken. Your master did this to me; he thought he had killed me. In a sense he did. I died and came back.” Simon pointed to his scar on his throat. “It just hurts like hell.” He grunted and sat down. “Go rescue the wee vampire and the werewolf. We’ll meet again, Leifsson, we always have.”

 

I didn’t like leaving him there but I had Sam and Victor to find. The fleeing of Nicolai had caused a vampire exodus of the mansion. I followed Elfie as she sniffed around searching. We came to the cellar… and dungeon would have been a better word. It was dark, damp and smelled of death and decay. Barred cells were mostly empty on either side. Victor was on the floor of a cell with a crossbow in his chest and pacing a cell opposite was a golden wolf. A heavy collar was around his neck and an equally heavy chain dragged down from it.

 

“I’ll get the werewolf, you get the vampire,” Elfie said and I nodded. I pulled the cell door off its hinges before I realized it had been unlocked. I yanked the stake from Victor’s chest and braced myself for the oncoming attack. Only Victor opened his eyes and sucked in air. He calmly sat up.

 

“Sam?” Victor asked. Elfie had gotten the collar off Sam and he transformed. He was nude and I gave him my long coat for decency.

 

“I’m okay, bud,” Sam said helping Victor to his feet. “Thank you.” He said to Elfie and me.

 

 

 

Sam and Victor did join Elfie’s pack and upon Yuri’s death Sam took up leadership of the pack, mating with Elfie. Nicolai has continued his reign as Czar of the City, but has left me alone as of late. Simon disappeared. He wasn’t where I’d left him, but he’d left his Bronco. Some vampires believe he’s truly dead. The young vampires still come to me with their problems, and Vladimir is still a cat.

 

 

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