Thursday, December 6, 2012

There's a Fine Line: Chapter 13 Snippet

After a brief hiatus for NaNoWriMo, I'm back with the teaser for Chapter 13. As the last chapter left off with Blake fearing for the fate of Alicia, this one starts with his mad search for her in the Simons Enterprises skyscraper. This chapter isn't pretty. The next few chapters aren't pretty. Hell, this story for the most part hasn't been pretty so do expect some violence, blood, gore, and good old fashioned ass-kicking. 

Oh, and pixies. This chapter will definitely have pixies.

There's a Fine Line...
Chapter 13

“Alicia!” Blake’s roar echoed up the deserted stairwell. He took the stairs at preternatural speed with Augustin close at his heels. If he had met anyone on the way other than his mate, that unsuspecting soul would have met a cruel and instant death. His fangs ached to tear into his enemy. His claws screeched with every contact with the metal handrail. One hundred floors sped by but he knew in the deepest, darkest chasm of a heart few believed existed that he’d be too late. The mephits had been nothing more than a distraction, used to keep him occupied and sever loose ends while others were sent to take his mate to their master.

The vampire burst through the door with enough force to rip it from its hinges. A quick glance of the short hall revealed nothing out of the ordinary so he sped into his apartment. Blake pulled up short in the doorway, shocked by what he saw. Or rather, by what he did not see. Though he gave the living room a frantic but thorough search, nothing appeared amiss beyond a single overturned chair. The scent of blood and brimstone wafted from the master bed chamber and he stalked forward, every move that of a skilled and deadly predator.

The bedroom was reminiscent of a war zone. Plaster, glass, and shattered furniture littered the once luxurious carpet. The hand-carved bed where he’d last seen his beloved mate was missing from the room and blood, both thick pools and dark smears, coated the walls, ceiling, and floor. Inhaling deeply, he cycled through the known scents and could not detect his mate’s unique and heady aroma. Her blood had not been spilled in this room. Carefully stepping around the wreckage, he advanced on the gaping hole in the exterior wall which revealed the intruders’ point of entry. The lack of debris from such an opening sent a frisson of fear straight to his un-beating heart. He knew of only two beings that could perform such a feat: his mate and her ancestor – the demon general, Daevas Malphas.

With a gesture, August caught his attention and pointed to a smaller hole in the floor nearly hidden beneath the debris. Kneeling, Blake scanned what he could see of the empty office when the faint scent of his mate wafted to his sensitive nose. With a fierce growl, he dropped through to the floor below before his Child could advise greater caution. The elderly vampire quickly followed his Sire and their senses were assaulted by the overpowering stench in the confined space. Blood and gore coated the floor in a slick, viscous mess.

The vampires separated and searched the barren room for any hints as to what had happened. It was clear there had been a life-or-death struggle. Deep gouges marred a floor and the wall also scorched by hellfire. Bits of flesh, both human and demonic in appearance, provided bloody testimony that the fight wasn’t altogether one-sided. Near the door that led to the hall lay gruesome evidence of the fate of at least one of his mate’s guardians. A bloodied hand had been discarded as if it was mere trash. From the amount of flesh and blood beneath the clawed fingers, the vampire had fought valiantly against the creatures.

“Damnedable cockroaches!” Augustin hissed as he picked the lifeless hand off the floor. The shattered radius protruded from the gnawed flesh of the wrist and the marrow had been sucked from the bone. “If there was ever a creature that should be extinct, they are it. I’m not too familiar with his scent, but I believe this belongs to the newling, Francisco.”

“Elizabeth will be most displeased.”

Blake’s deep crimson eyes locked onto the door as the fire alarm suddenly went silent. From somewhere in the hall, he could hear the muffled sound of a struggle interspersed with a pair of raised voices. Pulling his weapon and flipping the safety, the vampire silently moved to the door and eased it open. The hall was dark other than the harsh glare of the orange emergency lighting. The sprinklers sprayed a constant mist creating a hazy, otherworldly atmosphere in the deserted building. Nodding to his Child, Blake slipped into the hall and moved efficiently towards the sound, zig-zagging across the hall from doorway to doorway in an effort to gain some protection from potential ambush. It was in the third such doorway that he found a second gruesome remainder of his mate’s dearest friend.

When August joined the seething vampire, Blake wordlessly handed the former monk a bloodied foot still encased in a shredded leather boot. This disembodied extremity also showed signs of the mephits’ barbarous appetites with sections of the tibula gnawed in half in order to reach the juicy marrow inside. The flesh around the exposed bone was as shredded as the leather that surrounded the discarded foot. Though even a newling could recover from either of the wounds in time, regenerating the missing extremity with copious amounts of fresh blood, both might prove to be more than his body could handle.

They were two doors away from the public elevator when the sounds of struggle grew louder. Alicia’s alluring scent was stronger here and Blake’s fingers tightened on the grip of the pistol. Nodding to August, who also drew his weapon, the dark-haired vampire turned the knob and eased open the door a crack. Wind whistled through the room and blew the scent of brimstone though the open doorway. Blake entered first, stepping to the right of the door, and was followed by August to its left. As they crept around tall stacks of cardboard boxes and metal storage cabinets, the voice became louder. Neither belonged to the powerful vampire’s mate.

Alicia’s scent clung to a stack of boxed equipment and discarded office chairs along with the sickening stench of sulfur. The pale light of the coming dawn shone through the yawning tear through the exterior wall and reflected off the unending mist from the sprinklers. Blake suspected that his young mate had hoped to hide from the mephits who had destroyed her friend but had been found by the demon lord himself. Judging by the sounds in the room, he was going to get an opportunity to extract a confirmation of those suppositions.

In the faint light, a pair of mephits fought over a gruesome trophy: the disembodied head of Elizabeth’s newling and Alicia’s friend, Francisco. With a roar of fury, Blake leaped upon the closest mephit and sank both claws and fangs deep into the creature’s back. The hellspawn shrieked in furious agony and beat its leathery wings in an effort to dislodge the vampire from its back. The second mephit chortled with glee as it snatched the bloody prize from the floor. It hopped on its short bowed legs towards the door with every intention of abandoning its fellow mephit to its dire fate. Augustin, on the other hand, had other – more creative – ideas.

Leaping around his savage Sire and the screeching creature, August tackled the remaining mephit and brought it to the floor with a hiss of glee. Francisco’s head rolled to the far corner, his lifeless eyes staring sightlessly at their battle, his handsome face forever frozen in horrified agony. The sight of the newling’s remains spurred the former monk’s righteous fury, reminding him of another young vampire similarly destroyed so many centuries before. Claws slashed through the mephit’s wings until they were little more than bloody ribbons attached to the body by thin strings of sinew and flesh.

“Where is she?” Blake’s hiss reverberated eerily in the empty room as he methodically tore his prey apart. “Where is my mate, cockroach?”

Bloody claws dug into the skin and muscle that surrounded one wings joint and slowly contracted. The longer the mephit shrieked his pain but failed to answer the vampire’s question, the tighter Blake’s grip became until one wing popped free. Tossing the bloody thing into a corner, Blake dug into the second joint. The mephit’s clawed hands and toes scrabbled at the floor, seeking purchase in the tile in an effort to escape the pain the apoplectic vampire was inflicting.

“Where is she, roach?” Changing tactics, the vampire pulled his bloody fingers from the creature’s back and began systematically breaking every necessary bone in the remaining wing. When the mephit still refused to answer, he slashed at the thin, leathery membrane before digging his claws into its back muscles once more. “Where is she?!”

“He’ll have her by now, vampire,” the mephit sneered through its anguish. “The General isn’t happy that you’ve diluted her blood. He’ll make her pay for that. Pay with her blood. Pay with her body. Pay with her mind.”

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