WARNING: This chapter contains strong language and some violence.
"That mother fucking son of a bitch!" Allanna shrieked at the top of her lungs. "Does that bastard really think he can get away with this? He left his stench here, we can easily track him, and he knows we'll come after our daughter."
Xavier was equally enraged. The nerve of Mortius, breaking into their home, and kidnapping their daughter! And Allanna had brought up some good points. In fact, it all seemed way too easy.
"That's just what he wants," he said lividly.
"This is a trap. He knows we'll come for Linley. He wants us to do just that. That's why he left a trail. He wants us to come for Linley so he can do God knows what. Finish what they started three years ago, I presume."
"Three years ago? You mean..."
"The night you were shot with a silver bullet, and the night Linley was born. Mortius didn't finish us off then, and now he's using our own daughter as leverage so he can do just that."
Allanna clenched her fists. "That fucking prick! I swear I'll kill him! We're not doing anything wrong, we're leaving him alone! Why doesn't he extend the same courtesy?!"
"Because no one defies Mortius. And I did. And I got you involved. I'm so sorry, Allanna. This is my fault."
"No, it isn't. I didn't have to fall for you, but I did. And I did that by myself. But we don't have time to argue about whose fault it is. Our daughter is out there at some psycho vampire's mercy. We have to get her back."
"We will. I promise."
"I mean it, Xavier. Don't be like my dad and spend four months trying to think of the perfect plan to get her out. We have to move. Mortius won't keep Linley alive like he did me. You know that."
"Yes, I do. Which is why I've already concocted a plan."
"Then tell me what it is."
"It's simple, really. We're going to kill Mortius."
Allanna just gaped at her husband. That was his brilliant plan? To somehow kill one of the oldest vampires in history, the one who harbored a huge grudge against them both? What was he going to do, throw holy water on him?
"Actually," Xavier replied with a tiny grin, "holy water is drinkable for us. And don’t even mention garlic, it’s harmless to us. Though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to eat the unappetizing vegetable in the first place. There are a few ways to kill vampires, but the most effective method is, naturally, to drive a wooden stake through its heart."
"Oh, wonderful. And you think you're just going to stroll right into wherever Mortius is, say hi, and kill him? The bastard can read minds, among other things. You don't know what you're getting yourself into."
"Well, there is one small thing..."
"Allanna, you forget, werewolves were originally humans who received the gift of being able to transform into wolves to protect themselves from vampires. Of course, vampires enslaved the werewolves because they were perceived as a threat, but it turns out that werewolves are strong enough to kill vampires. Their teeth can penetrate a vampire's skin easily."
"And you want me to come with you to help kill Mortius."
"I gathered you would be accompanying me in any case, since this is our daughter."
"Of course I'm coming, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to take on Mortius. He's one of the more powerful vampires out there, Xavier."
"I know you can do it," Xavier said as he took Allanna's hands in his. "I believe in you."
Allanna looked into Xavier's icy blue eyes with a renewed feeling of confidence. Everything he'd said about the history of their species was correct. If one thing could kill a vampire, other than a wooden stake, it was a werewolf. And Allanna was tired of being a victim to Mortius's wrath, and she was furious with him for kidnapping Linley. It was time to teach the filthy leech a lesson once and for all.
The plan was slightly shaky, but it was worth the risk. The life of their daughter was at stake. They weren't about to let Mortius get away with kidnapping her, no matter what diabolical scheme he might have planned.
"Remember," Xavier reminded Allanna for probably the tenth time, "we go in there cautiously, not angrily. Mortius wants us to burst in there without a plan to hastily take Linley back. I guarantee that's a trap. So whatever you do, don't pick a fight."
"I know. And then when Linley is safe, you're going to drive a stake through Mortius's heart, and I'll bite his fucking head off with my teeth."
"You got it."
Allanna rubbed her hands together in eager anticipation. She was ready for this. She was tired of Mortius controlling her life, and that of her husband and daughter. She’d get great pleasure out of puncturing his jugular vein in a sweet taste of ironic karma. She could hardly wait.
Allanna and Xavier had also contacted Cynthia in hopes that she would help them out. The more werewolves they had on their side, the better. Unfortunately, Cynthia was literally scared to death of disobeying Darius. She didn’t want to become the new omega; she had no other family, since her father was hardly ever around due to her rebellious younger sister, so getting exiled from the pack would do her no good. Allanna had even called her mother and begged for her assistance, since it was her granddaughter that was in danger, but her efforts were in vain. No one would defy the alpha male of the pack.
Betas could challenge the alpha male to take over the position as leader of the pack, but no one did because they all felt Darius was a good leader. Had he been the type of alpha who cared more about himself than his pack and got them in danger, several betas would have stepped up to challenge him. As it was, Darius’s word was law.
Finally, Allanna and Xavier vacated their apartment and headed toward their destination. They were both able to follow Mortius’s pungent odor with their keen senses of smell, and it soon led them to the outskirts of Bridgeport. An eerily familiar vibe settled across them as they gaped at the cemetery's mausoleum beckoning to them. They trudged inside, careful to keep their minds blank so that Mortius couldn’t hear them coming by reading their thoughts.
The smell of Mortius, and that of Linley, led them to a winding staircase that descended into a damp and dark crypt. They carefully walked down it, wary of potential creaking noises that might ensue and blow their cover.
Darkness covered them like a thick blanket, and the only signs of light they could see appeared to be behind an iron door at the very end of a long hallway. They crept toward it, keeping their eyes and ears peeled, until at last they halted to a stop when they saw their daughter.
Linley appeared to be asleep, but both parents feared that she was actually unconscious. The toddler was lying on top of a coffin with her eyes closed, and the coffin was surrounded by a grotesque looking fountain filled with red liquid. And that liquid had the coppery scent of blood.
“This is disgusting,” Allanna hissed under her breath. Xavier quickly shushed her, though he thought the same thing.
Unfortunately, they needn’t have worried about being quiet. Because out of the shadows, stalking behind them, stepped Mortius. He let out a malicious chuckle as Linley’s parents turned to face him.
“Welcome,” Mortius said in his authoritative drawl. He smiled like a fiend as his fangs glistened in the dim candlelight. Scuffling sounds came from the hallway Allanna and Xavier had just come from, and they saw Gloria and Cedric fill the void that was their only means of escape.
“Let Linley go,” Xavier demanded hotly.
“Now, surely you don’t think I’m going to do that,” Mortius replied smugly. “I didn’t lure you here to let you off that easily.”
“What do you want?”
“I only want what’s right. You defied me, married and bred with the arch nemesis of our kind, and the result is that thing over there on the coffin. None of you can be allowed to live.”
“We haven’t done anything wrong. Our laws aren’t written in stone, and we both voluntarily left our respective families. All we ask is to live in peace.”
“No one gets away with defying me.”
“Technically, I didn’t defy you. You told me to guard Allanna, but you didn’t say where or how. I did guard her, and I’ve protected her all this time. I’ve kept her alive, and her father had no intention of signing the treaty. Your war isn’t with us, Mortius. It’s with the Duskwood pack.”
Allanna couldn’t believe her ears. Xavier was telling Mortius to go after her family? But that meant Cynthia, Devan, and her parents and siblings…
“Right you are,” Mortius cut in as he read her thoughts. “I suppose Xavier has a valid point. But I do believe that even the leader of that pack of mutts would agree that the existence of your offspring is dangerous to both of our kinds.”
“What do you mean, dangerous?” Allanna interjected angrily. “Linley wouldn’t hurt anyone!”
“Oh? Then explain why she was practically rabid when she first got here, craving blood like an alcoholic craves beer. And I can tell that you know nothing about her. She could transform into a wolf when she gets older, therefore she’ll have the strengths of both species. I must confess that I originally intended to use her as leverage against the werewolves, who have never known such a creature to exist before. But after seeing how uncontrollable she is, it's obvious that she can’t be allowed to live. However, we might be able to come up with some sort of agreement.”
“What the hell would we agree to with you?”
Mortius turned toward his daughter and right-hand man. With a simple nod of his head, the two parted and allowed Dorian to enter.
“First thing’s first,” Mortius said as Dorian came closer. “I think Dorian has earned the privilege of meeting his granddaughter.”
“Don’t you touch her!” Xavier yelled.
Cedric grabbed Xavier’s arms and held him back. Allanna tried to reach Dorian, but Gloria’s arms stopped her.
“Not you again,” Allanna moaned.
“Oh yes, me again,” Gloria purred. “I’m going to really enjoy killing you. I still can’t understand why Xavier would pick you instead of me as a mate.”
“Because he has better taste in women than skanky sluts who do everything their daddy says.”
Gloria yanked on Allanna’s arm so hard that it broke. She let out a yelp but felt the bone fastening back into place. She squirmed in Gloria’s arms, but she wasn’t strong enough to break free.
Dorian, meanwhile, had made his way toward Linley. Linley had woken up upon hearing her mother’s shriek, and was looking around with fear in her little eyes.
“Hello there,” Dorian said. He reached toward Linley to pick her up, but the smart toddler knew better than to warm up to strangers. When Dorian’s hand got close enough, she grabbed onto one of his fingers. She then pulled hard enough to sprain it. She wasn’t strong enough to dislocate or break it, but it was something.
“Damn!” Dorian bellowed as he stepped back. “Well, I think we have all the facts we need, Mortius.”
“I agree. That creature is too dangerous to be allowed to exist. And as I mentioned before, I’m sure the beasts of Duskwood would agree with that claim. However, I think we have a proposition for you, Xavier.”
“I’m not interested in making any propositions with you.”
“Oh, I digress. I’ll give you a choice. You can let us destroy that vermin over there that’s a threat to our very existence, and that of your wife’s kind, and in return, you can keep your wife for eternity and never hear from this clan again.”
“Are you mad? Killing Linley wouldn’t help anything. Even if I did agree, which I won’t, Allanna and I could have another child, and it would be the exact same thing as Linley.”
“Ah, but see, I’ve already predicted that outcome. Tell me, how many times has your wife been bitten?”
Xavier’s eyes narrowed into nothing more than twin slits. “Don’t you dare.”
Allanna had no idea what they were talking about, but Mortius just broke into a maniacal grin before saying, “I presume your answer to my proposition, then, is no.”
“Of course it’s no! Mortius, listen to me. Look at Linley. She’s proof that this stupid war between vampires and werewolves can end. She’s proof that the two kinds can actually get along. Just leave her be.”
“I can’t do that, Xavier. You must pay the price for defying me. Funny, I would have thought you’d known better than to make a mate out of the enemy after witnessing your mother’s cruel fate after she did the same.”
Xavier writhed to break free from Cedric’s steel grip, while Mortius shook his head in mock disappointment. “Very well, Xavier. Just remember, I did try. I offered and you refused. Now you must witness the suffering of both your wife and daughter.”
With that, Mortius bent down and a blue aura seemed to surround him as he grinned, his face glowing eerily in the faint candlelight. Cedric released his hold on Xavier, who grabbed his head and cried out in agony.
“Xavier, what’s wrong?!” Allanna cried.
Xavier’s response was to cry louder and he begin screaming, “No!” at the top of his lungs. Still grasping his head, he staggered toward Allanna, who was still being held captive by Gloria.
“Allanna!” he cried with disdain as his fangs emerged from his open jaw. Allanna’s eyes widened. Then she remembered – Mortius, being an elder vampire, had the ability to control the thoughts and actions of others. And the comment he’d made about how many times she’d been bitten…
“No!” she screamed as she struggled to get free. But it was too late. Gloria released her grip on Allanna just as Xavier wrapped his arm around her. He had tears in his eyes as he uncontrollably bent to the will of Mortius. His fangs sunk into Allanna’s flesh, and the pain felt like a hundred needles puncturing her neck.
Allanna tried to grab Xavier’s hands and move them away, but she wasn’t strong enough. She could feel herself beginning to get weaker. She had no idea why Mortius was making Xavier do this, but at last he stopped. He sunk to the ground in an exhausted stupor as tears continued to fall from his eyes.
“What the fuck?” Allanna demanded of Mortius. “You made him bite me? What the hell is that shit?”
“Silly dog,” Mortius chortled. “I could read Xavier’s mind when I asked him how many times you’ve been bitten. He bit you once to save your life after you got silver in your blood, and again in the throes of passion. This will be the third time.”
“I know, a human turns into a vampire if they’re bitten three times and drink blood. But I’m a werewolf. You can’t turn me into one of you.”
“On the contrary. Any normal vampire wouldn’t be able to. But if you were to drink the blood of an elder vampire, one of the strongest vampires in existence, that blood would overpower yours, rendering your werewolf genes obsolete.”
Allanna took a step backward. Was he serious?
“Of course I’m serious,” Mortius affirmed. “Now, any ideas you might have had of biting me in your wolf state should be quashed. You wouldn’t want to drink my blood by mistake and turn into one of us, would you?”
Allanna had never been so angry in her life. Xavier had been right – kidnapping Linley had been a trap. But it hadn’t been solely to harm her. It was also to be rid of their small little family once and for all. Mortius had said that Xavier would have to witness the suffering of both her and Linley. Obviously the suffering for her had consisted of Xavier biting her neck. But Linley…
“You’re mistaken,” Mortius cut into her thoughts. “When I told Xavier that I’d allow the two of you to be together for eternity in exchange for your daughter’s life, I meant it. I also meant it when I said that I predicted the two of you might have another child. That’s why I was willing to turn you into a vampire so that both things could happen without any problems.”
“You were going to turn me into a vampire so that Xavier and I could be together? Bullshit. You were going to turn me into a vampire because you know that would piss us both off! You son of a bitch!”
That was the last straw. Allanna allowed herself to transform. She shed her clothes and fur sprouted from her flesh right in Gloria’s arms. That got her attention well enough to holler out in fear and let go of her captive. Allanna could have easily taken Gloria down, but her target was Mortius.
“Look out, Father!” Gloria yelled as Allanna lunged. She missed his jugular, but her canines did sink into his arm. She could feel the flesh tearing beneath his jacket as she bit him, refusing to let go.
“You fucking mutt!” Gloria dashed to Allanna and ripped her off of her father’s arm, but the blood that began flowing from his open wound proved that she’d gotten him. She spat out the coppery tasting stuff so she didn’t end up drinking it. But she needn’t have bothered.
Mortius glared at her with fury in his crimson eyes. Cleary he never thought she’d actually do that. Gloria darted for Linley while Cedric and Dorian knelt at Mortius’s side. Xavier jumped up to stop Gloria, and Allanna tried to help, but Mortius had other plans for her.
“I’ll never accept you as one of us,” he declared with malice, “but at least you’ll spend the rest of your life suffering as an immortal!”
He jumped up, grabbed Allanna by the throat, and shoved his open wound into her mouth. The blood was pumping rapidly from it, and it came at such a tirade that Allanna couldn’t stop it from sliding down her throat. She gagged and gasped to get it out of her system, but it did no good. She could feel it slide all the way down her throat to her stomach.
“You bastard!” Xavier yelled from across the room. In all the commotion, he’d managed to withdraw a stake from his waistband that he’d hidden, and it had somehow gone unnoticed by the vampires. Xavier had driven the stake through Cedric’s heart, and even his own father had been put to death. Gloria, like the coward that she was, had fled as soon as she saw Xavier withdraw the stake. Xavier was on a rampage, and as far as he was concerned, anyone in that room that wasn’t his true family was going to die.
Mortius was still somewhat disoriented from Allanna’s bite, and Xavier took this opportunity.
Or rather, he tried to. Mortius looked up at him and the threatening stake he held.
“You don’t really intend to kill me, do you?” he asked snidely.
“I intend to, and I will. I’ve had it. You killed my mother, you tried to kill my wife and daughter, and now I’m going to extend the favor.”
“Your wife needs your attention more than I do. She’ll be in for a big surprise when my blood starts consuming hers. I can only imagine the agonizing pain she’ll have to endure. And to think, you’re more worried about vengeance than her.”
“Shut the fuck up and DIE!”
Xavier lunged forward and grabbed Mortius’s throat. Allanna’s strong bite had weakened him, and the blood he was losing also made him frail. Xavier looked at Mortius right in the eyes as he stabbed a wooden stake right though the elder vampire’s heart.
Mortius’s red eyes took on more of a sallow brown color and his skin became even paler. His breaths finally stilled and his eyes fluttered closed. The Duskwood vampire clan’s leader was now permanently dead. He wasn’t just the undead now – he was literally gone, an observation confirmed when his body turned to dust.
Allanna had reverted back to her human form and was now running toward Linley. Her clothes were shredded due to her quick transformation, but this was one time that Xavier didn’t feel aroused seeing her naked body. That’s because he was too worried about what might happen to her.
Allanna picked Linley up and hugged her tightly. Linley began to weep, but it was undetermined if she was crying for joy and relief or for fear.
“Are you all right?” Xavier asked rhetorically as he approached his family.
Allanna looked on the ground and saw the corpses of Cedric and Dorian. Then she saw the remnants of Mortius scattered across the ground.
“I don’t know,” she finally answered truthfully.
“Let’s get out of here,” Xavier suggested gently. Allanna nodded solemnly and they both left. But the whole way home, Xavier could feel Allanna’s fear as easily as he could read her thoughts. She was scared to death of what lay in store for her thanks to Mortius forcing blood down her throat.