Authors: Rhiannon Frater
A heavy plopping noise drew Bianca’s attention back to the writhing couple. A cloud slid from the face of the moon, the pale light illuminating the dark liquid pouring out of Amaliya’s throat.
Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!
Dragging the silver dagger out of the sheath, Bianca dropped her bag onto the misty ground.
Amaliya slid from the professor’s grip, her throat a bloody ruin.
“Yes, so very pretty as you die,” the monster said.
Bianca raised the weapon and rushed him. He didn’t even turn toward her. A mere sweep of his hand sent her tumbling to the ground. The dagger fell from her fingertips, disappearing into the murk. Rolling onto her stomach, Bianca’s hands raked the grass, searching frantically. The voice of the vampire was a low murmur as he bent over his victim. The vampire’s power surged. The night pressed down on her body. Bianca fought to raise the walls she had lowered to find him, but she sensed his aura seeping into her mind like ice cold water. Sluggishly, she crawled across the rain drenched ground, searching for the weapon.
Agony ripped through her scalp when he grabbed her by her hair and dragged her deeper into the shadows dwelling at the base of the dorm building. Only the tall pines with the wind writhing through their branches were witness to the violent scene. Bianca kicked her feet while her fingers scrabbled at his hand. When he tossed her onto the ground beside Amaliya, Bianca could smell the overwhelming coppery smell of warm blood.
The ancient vampire regarded her with glowing white eyes. Handsome in a cold, cruel manner, his fake face was gone. Pinning her with one hand, he squatted near her. “Now, now, my little Bianca, did you really need to interrupt my moment with our delicious Amaliya?”
Bianca’s gaze slid to the other medium. Amaliya’s eyes were wide, staring, her breath rattling in her throat. She wasn’t gone yet, but close. Tendrils of the vampire’s power punctured Amaliya’s body, feeding her false life. The other medium’s lips and tongue were stained with blood.
Tears blurring her vision, Bianca reached out to Amaliya, her fingers straining for the other woman’s hand. So many regrets filled her. If only she had been wiser, stronger, and bolder, maybe she could have saved Amaliya.
“Why are you doing this?” she whispered.
The vampire didn’t answer. Striking as swiftly as a viper, his fangs tore into her throat, her blood spilling into his mouth and onto the ground. Bianca tried to call out, but his power rendered her speechless. Even as the agonizing pain threatened to swallow her into unconsciousness, Bianca strove to reach Amaliya’s limp hand. The vampire savagely tore at her flesh, the excruciating pain her punishment for interrupting him. She could feel his anger pouring into her, but she fought against the giant wave of his power. Death loomed ever closer, but she fought against it.
With one last great effort, Bianca managed to at last touch Amaliya’s fingertips with her own. Or maybe Amaliya had reached for her? Just a spark of life remained in the other woman.
Bianca whispered into the dying woman’s mind.
Find me. We will defeat him together.
The vampire tore Bianca from Amaliya, dragged her into his arms, and forced her mouth against the wound he’d inflicted on himself. Cold blood poured into her mouth, gagging her as his dark magic infested her dying body, binding her to him forever.
The Return of the Summoner
The aggravation Santos felt toward his sister, Etzli, was beyond the normal low-grade variety he usually experienced. She had simply vanished from the house earlier in the night and none of the cabal knew where she had gone. Even Gregorio, who was obsessed with her, had no idea where Etzli may have slipped off to.
Pacing in his office, Santos clutched his cellphone in one hand. Every call he’d made had resulted in the knot in his gut clenching ever tighter. With all that was going on in the supernatural realm, he couldn’t believe his sister would be so flagrantly inconsiderate. He didn’t even want to entertain the idea that Cian and his necromancer-vampire hybrid may have taken her.
Dark hair falling over his brow, he rested his hands on the edge of his desk. Everything felt wrong. The takeover of Austin and the capture of Amaliya should have been easy. Instead, he had lost a valuable witch and was quickly losing face in the eyes of the other vampire leaders. Santos had fought hard to claim San Antonio, Texas as his territory and meticulously created a strong cabal that was feared by the other vampire masters of Texas. He refused to lose their fear and respect.
For years he had left Cian alone in Austin. The most powerful of vampires, The Summoner, had created Cian. For that reason, Santos had not dared to move against him. Cian had lived a solitary life in his small college town for nearly forty years. The last decade had altered the state capital into a growing metropolitan area that was able to now support a greater vampire presence. The arrival of Amaliya had changed things further when she killed The Summoner.
Amaliya was pure power.
Santos loved power.
With The Summoner gone it was time to kill Cian and claim Amaliya, but nothing had gone as planned. To make matters worse, Etzli, the one person who was supposed to be his unwavering supporter, had been elusive and contrary of late. Santos had already lost Irma, his black witch, and Manny, one of his guards, this week when he’d sent them to test Amaliya’s power. He didn’t want to lose anyone else, especially his sister.
Checking his phone again, Santos growled low in his throat. None of the people searching for Etzli were reporting in. This was not a good sign. What if she was dead? The thought terrified him. They’d survived for so long together he couldn’t bear the thought of not having her near him.
There was a sharp knock on his office door, then it opened without his permission. Gregorio poked his narrow, craggy face through the gap.
“Since when do you just barge in, Gregorio?”
“My master, there’s a situation developing. You must come quickly!”
“What is it?” Santos asked, his voice sharp with disapproval. Now his servants were disrespecting him in his own home. He’d deal with whatever was upsetting Gregorio then punish him.
“Etzli has returned, but not alone. It’s...” The man hesitated. Beads of sweat dotted his brow and upper lip. Fear was in his eyes.
“Is she hurt?” Santos moved swiftly toward the human.
“They’re with the blood minions. It’s very bad,” Gregorio muttered, lowering his eyes in submission. “Very bad.”
Santos wrenched the door from the man and brushed past him into the long hallway. The heels of his highly polished black leather boots clicked sharply against the tiled floor as he swiftly strode toward the wing where he kept the humans that provided blood to his cabal. The blood minions were well taken care of and offered their throats and necks, and sometimes other choice spots, willingly and without complaint. They were addicted to the vampire bite. Santos kept them in luxury until either they died or were turned into new members of his vampire family. A few of them were his personal favorites, and only fed him. There were very strict rules in place when it came to the minions. One was not to kill them without Santos’s explicit permission.
The reek of blood, terror, and offal reached him when he entered the wing the minions inhabited. Screams, sobs, and moans assailed his ears, emanating from the large room used as a recreational room. Bursting into a sprint, Santos leapt the length of the hall. The footfalls of his cabal sounded in his wake. Word spread fast among his vampires when something was amiss.
The vampire hurtled through the arched doorway into the room.
Blood splashed the walls, stained the furniture, and puddled on the floor. The bodies of the minions were strewn about like debris after a Texas tornado. One his favorites, seventeen year old Ricky, lay in two pieces near his feet.
“Etzli!” Santos shouted, rage blinding him so that he didn’t immediately see if she was among the broken, torn bodies.
“She was hungry,” Etzli said calmly from the shadows.
Santos whirled about, glaring at his half-sister. Long black hair glimmered in the light and her dark eyes burned like coals. Clad in a black dress that was slashed to the thigh, she held one of her bone knives in one hand. Blood was slathered across her full lips. Raising one arm, she revealed a twisted, stumpy hand.
“And I needed to regrow this.”
Confused and frightened, Santos grabbed her mutilated limb. “Who did this to you?”
“Cian,” Etzli answered.
“Cian?” Santos stared at her, not understanding. “You fought Cian?”
“A graveyard in the Texas Hill Country.” Etzli smirked, obviously enjoying feeding him only tidbits of information.
“Why did you go there alone?” Santos demanded.
“I wasn’t alone.” His sister turned adoring eyes toward the center of the room.
“Master, she’s still killing,” Gregorio said, his voice urgent.
Disoriented by all that was occurring, Santos whipped about to see a girl he didn’t recognize crawling on her toes and fingertips toward a cowering female human. At first he thought it was a child, but then realized it was a young woman, perhaps in her late teens. Blood soaked her pale blond hair, stained her white lace dress red, and dripped from her lips.
“Stop!” Santos ordered.
The girl hissed at him, baring long fangs, then grabbed the sobbing human by the collar of her dress and dragged her across the slippery floor toward her mouth.
“Stop! Don’t touch her!” Santos hurtled toward the vampire.
Thrashing about, the chosen victim screamed for Santos. He was about to grab her hand and wrench her from the grip of the vampire when her throat was shredded by the fangs of the other vampire. Blood, hot and precious, sprayed over Santos, instantly soaking his blue silk shirt. The blond vampire plunged her face into the fount of blood to drink.
With a howl of rage, Santos lurched forward to seize the intruding vampire.
“Don’t touch her!” Etzli’s voice hissed, then Santos was jerked off his feet and slammed to the ground.
Striking out in anger, Santos knocked his sister away. She immediately kicked out, sending him sliding across the bloody floor. Landing against a pile of broken bodies, Santos snarled, rising swiftly to his feet. Etzli glowered at him, standing between him and the strange vampire who was feasting on the last of his minions.
“What’s happening?” he shouted.
Santos was dimly aware of his cabal gathering in the doorway. At least twenty of his people were watching. None moved to interfere, clearly awaiting his order.
“She needed blood,” Etzli answered coldly. “Lots of it, to fully restore her powers. Rachoń was keeping her only half-alive with her own blood.”
“Who is she?” Santos voice was cold, clipped, and full of his fury. Not only were his blood minions destroyed, but he was being usurped by his own flesh and blood.
Etzli’s response was a slow, cruel smile. “Your new master.”
?” one of his guards said in Spanish. “Boss?”
Santos raised a hand, quieting the murmurs among the vampires clustered together watching the bloody feast. Their eyes burned bright, their own hunger rising.
“Etzli, explain yourself right now.”
Etzli’s smile only broadened.
The girl behind Etzli dragged herself upright, drunk on the blood she had consumed. Swaying, she stared at Santos with bright blue eyes. She licked her lips with a bloody tongue.
“Who is she, Etzli?”
“Get on your knees, Santos,” Etzli ordered. Directing her dark eyes at the vampires staring in shock at the scene playing out before them, she said, “On your knees!”
The eyes of the cabal turned to Santos. Fury enveloping him, he clenched his hands at his sides. “Etzli, I’m warning you...”
!” Etzli snapped. “Your defiance will not be tolerated, Santos! Now on your knees! All of you!”
“What the fuck, Etzli?” one of the vampires said, his dark eyes menacing. “You can’t talk to Santos like that!”
“Jorge, this is between me and my sister,” Santos said, holding up one hand in warning. Though anger his anger was close to consuming him and sending him into a violent rampage, he stared at his sister with the last bit of hope he had inside of him. “Etzli, this is my house! My city! My cabal! What the fuck is this...thing,” he gestured at distaste at the blood-soaked vampire, “doing to you?”
“I said on your knees!” Etzli screeched.
In a blur of shadow, she struck out at the cabal. Gasps of pain and shock rang out, mingling with the crunch of bone. Etzli’s whirling figure slashed at the vampires with deadly efficiency. In seconds, they were on the floor, legs shattered, splinters of bone puncturing their flesh and clothing. Standing over the broken men and women, Etzli twirled her bone dagger in her one good hand.
Santos at last felt fear.
“On your knees, Santos,” Etzli said calmly, her threat clear.
One of the male vampires made a grab for Santos’s sister. She slashed off his head with one mighty blow. It rolled away with a meaty thump.
After all his years of hard work, all his plans, Santos was thunderstruck to realize he was losing his cabal to the one person he had loved and trusted above all others. “Etzli...”
The reek of death, blood, fear, and dark magic filled the room. Santos’s eyes slid toward the pale, blonde vampire standing placidly among the corpses. The air grew frigid as the creature stared at him.
“Who are you?” he whispered.
The blue eyes flashed white and the slaughtered minions started to squirm around him. Those who were able to stand rose to their feet, while the ones in chunks flailed like newborn babes.
“Where is that famous Latin temper, Santos?” the girl asked. She stepped over the writhing bits of human flesh, advancing on him.
“There is another one,” Santos said at last. “And you have enslaved her, Etzli?” His dark eyes darted toward his sister.
her,” Etzli replied, her voice filled with reverence.
Bloodied fingers gripped at Santos’s legs. Glancing downward, he saw Ricky’s upper half attempting to drag him to the floor while his legs flailed nearby. With disgust, Santos kicked the partial corpse away.
“I will not kneel,” he said at last. “This is still my cabal. You will have to kill me to take it.”
“I don’t want to kill you,” the blonde vampire said, laughing. “Not yet. I don’t need to kill you to take your cabal from you.”
Another vampire attempted to attack Etzli. She lashed out, and another head rolled across the floor.
Rippling waves of dark magic flowed out of the new vampire, a visible manifestation of her power. Resembling great wings, the darkness knitted the corpses into monstrous creations.
“No!” Santos gasped, at last understanding. “No! You’re dead!”
“Do you really think a little thing like the death of my body would stop me?” The girl laughed with delight. “You’re such a foolish little child.”
The massive creatures made of human flesh, bone, and sinew roared. Teeth made of broken bones filled their maws.
Santos sought out his sister’s gaze, desperate to understand her betrayal. “Etzli, why?”
“Because The Summoner is our future. We’ve become weak and complacent. The Summoner will restore us to greatness.” Lifting her chin, she visibly dared him to argue with her.
The hulking monsters of flesh moved menacingly toward Santos. They disgusted him and he took a step away from them.
“We’re blood, Etzli. You can’t betray me this way.”
“I’m not betraying you, Santos. I’m saving you. You’re weak. Pathetic. These little games you play are silly and childish. You want to be king of your own realm instead of realizing the greatness of what we are.” Etzli resembled the Aztec blood goddess she claimed to be as she stepped out from amidst the vampires she had crippled. “Our time is coming. Either you stand with us, or die.”
Santos shifted his gaze to the woman he now realized was The Summoner. How the ancient vampire had come to reside in the body of the slender blonde woman was of no importance. The glowing white eyes and cold smirk terrified him.
“The Summoner has returned to us. She will guide us to our true victory,” Etzli proclaimed to all the vampires. “She is the purity of our power.”