Archive | September, 2013

Writing tip number two: Character development (the side kick/ supporting characters)

29 Sep

Firstly sorry for the delay in this tip. I’ve had like two days off in the last two weeks so I’ve been pretty lazy with the writing. Sadly I only have one day off next week as well so there might be a delay in my next post as well but I’ll see what I can do J

Ok to the final post for tip number two, I think I’ve talked all I can about character development after this. That statement is not really all that true ,  I’ m  sure  I could talk a lot more if need be but I covered everything I could think of at the time.

I like this particular part of the character development because as important as the antagonist and protagonist are they are nothing without the supporting characters. I find a lot in young adult fiction that the protagonist always has a very close friend that usually gets caught up in the drama of the lead. In a lot of cases this character is of the opposite sex and provides the love triangles that I enjoy so much.

The main characters best friend plays a big part, whether or not they are the alternative love interest. Their main goal is to help the Protagonist. Generally they are the kind of friend that we all wish that we had. Why are they important? They are important because they can provide balance to the protagonist, or even great conflict. They usually show a more human side to the protagonist and they really help the character be more relatable.

So what makes a good best friend?

This depends on whether they are for comfort or conflict. Generally the same rules apply to both situations.  They should challenge the protagonist. Be the voice of reason when the hero just doesn’t want to hear it. They should complete the Protagonist; make up for his or her flaws, (by doing this it also covers challenging them).  For example, say the protagonist is hot headed; his best friend would be calm in the face of his anger.  If the protagonist was reckless; they would be the voice of reason.  This is a very important trait for the best friend character to have because even if they are essentially there to provide comfort to the protagonist they will always challenge them, making the protagonist a better person.  The best friend character is always fiercely loyal. This is something I noticed in a lot of books. They are always there for the protagonist no matter what. Even if the character is mad with the protagonist they will always come through for them.

Bad break up? ‘I’m there for you bro’.

Life or death Drama? “We can get through this’.

 End of the World? ‘I’ve got your back till the end’.

Even if it seems irrational the best friend character is always there.  Because of this trait, their lives tend to suck.  They always seem to get pulled into the drama without even causing it. They tend to end up in more danger than they deserve. They always come out on the bad end of an argument, or on the losing point of a love triangle. Really in any situation they get the short straw because there sole purpose is to help the protagonist. The interaction with this character and the protagonist though underappreciated is really important. A good best friend can make for a great protagonist.

Now to supporting characters. Though the best friend character is essentially a supporting character because of their great importance I like to think of them as being separate. Supporting characters do much the same as the best friend character, but to a much lesser extent. Every character the protagonist or the antagonist interacts with is a supporting character. Their job is to interact and provide relations with the leads. Good supporting characters, like good best friend characters make for great lead characters.  Now while not everyone in the world is going to have the protagonists back the supporting characters can provide depth to the main characters. The way the lead characters interact with these characters helps provide realistic and believable lead characters. Now while not all supporting characters are important giving these characters more life and personality makes a much more realistic world.  Though generally in fiction the  world does revolve around the leads it is always a good idea to give the supporting characters lives and back stories that are separate from them. That way even if it’s hardly shown the world doesn’t appear so one dimensional.

shan

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Ryder’s Story: Chapter Twenty One

24 Sep

Chapter Twenty One

 

A long while later I awoke. Something cool and wet was brushing against my cheek over and over. I put my hand out to push it away and encountered something soft and furry; the ball of fur then proceeded to attack my hand with tiny sharp teeth. I opened my eyes slowly and turned my head toward it. A small pup growled playfully as it pounced on my hand. I allowed the tiny beast its fun while my body knitted itself back together. My emotions were wavering between a deep seated rage and a dark depression. The puppy ceased its attack and sat with its head tilted to the side, studying me. It was built like a cattle dog; though with its brown, white and black fur it resembled no breed I could identify.  One ear was white and more than half of the dark brown left ear was missing.

 

“What are you looking at Mutt,” I growled; my voice rough and still broken, thanks to my snake of a sire. It yipped in response and tipped its head to the other side. I gave a dry laugh and nodded, reaching out to pet its small head. I was surprised that it let me, but strangely enough it did not seem afraid of me. Though it was hiding in a vampiric compound, I cannot have been the first vampire it had seen. As I sat up and looked around, I became aware of the scent of smoke, thick in the air. My weapons sat by the door to the cell, which was open. Well, that was curious. I quickly stood and gathered my things. The pup bounced around my feet and I was careful not to step on the foolish critter. I turned to leave, knowing I had to find a way out of there and no doubt there would be a fight. No sooner than I had taken a step the little dog grabbed my trouser leg and tugged, growling like a rabid wolf.  “Will you stop that you stupid mutt?” I said, shaking my leg free. It barked and ran past me down the hall then stopped looking back at me. I watched as it waited. After a few seconds it tore back toward me, pulling on my leg once again. “What do you want?” I asked, as it ran off again. I wasn’t sure exactly why; I knew it was probably stupid but I followed. Barking happily when I walked toward it, it ran off again. I followed. After I don’t know how many minutes of winding through the cell block my furry guide disappeared through the bars of another cell. I stopped and glanced in. The small dog barked happily, its entire body wagging as it circled Kelly’s crumpled body. I grabbed the iron bars and pulled them apart as though they were nothing. Stepping into the cell I bent to pat the dog, before picking up the unconscious girl. “Good job Mutt,” I praised and it yipped happily and its entire body quivered once again. I hoisted the poor girl over my shoulder and looked toward the puppy that was still watching me. “You wouldn’t happen to know the way out of here would you?” The puppy gave a small growl and walked down the hall in the direction we’d just come. “Well I’ll be damned,” I did the only thing I could and followed it. If this pup truly led me to the exit, it would officially be the smartest little dog I’d ever seen.

 

Low and behold, in less than a minute I stood at the exit and stared out at the bodies of juvenile vampires littering the streets. Their headless corpses too newly transitioned to turn to dust. The entire town was ablaze and the only remaining trace of the older vamps was being scattered by the wind.  I could not comprehend what I was seeing; it was madness and the most confusing of all, I had not even had to lift a finger. Had Dashiell intended to leave me there, to let me burn? I looked to the pup that now sat at my feet. It looked toward the outskirts of town, cocked its head and barked. I couldn’t say I disagreed with the idea of leaving. With that it turned and walked back into the building we’d just exited. What a curious animal. Ryan’s voice bellowed over the crackling of flames and suddenly the destruction surrounding me made sense.

 

“Christine! Jeremiah where is Christine?!” I ran toward the sound of his voice. The two men emerged from a burning building, their clothes in tatters, sliver blades glinting in the firelight. As I approached they caught sight of me.

 

“Ryder? Kelly!” cried Jeremiah’s, as he tore toward me. He lifted Kelly from my arms tears trailing down sooty cheeks, as he clutched her prone body to his chest. Out of nowhere Ryan pulled me into him and hugged me. Of everything that had happened that day I think that shocked me the most.  He pulled away appearing both happy and stricken all at once, it was odd to see such emotion from Ryan.

 

“You did all this?” I asked; he nodded grinning.

 

“We could hardly let you have all the fun,” he replied looking around, his cheerfulness faltered as he turned to face me. “We got separated from Christine during the fight. We need to find her the entire town is alight!” I nodded in agreement then jerked my head toward the road leading back to Nathaniel’s compound.

 

“Go, I will find her. Get to safety, Kelly needs medical attention, we’ll catch up with you,” Ryan seemed as though he was going to argue, when I caught his gaze the look I gave him convinced him to leave it. “Please, just go,” he nodded and the two men ran, hopefully towards safety. I drew my sword from its sheath and looked around. It was time to finish this. Contrary to my earlier belief that most of the fledgling vampires had been taken care of and the rest had fled, I still encountered more than a few. Though they were hardly a challenge to dispatch; I figured if they were not smart enough to run and save themselves they did not deserve my mercy. It wasn’t exactly pleasant but I had not survived this long by being nice; sad but true.

 

Fire had consumed most of the buildings and the increasing heat made me nervous. Fire was one of the few things that could kill vampires. In fact there are few creatures that can live through being burnt alive. In a way the fire was a god send, it would hopefully dispose of the bodies. Vampire bodies’ burn exceptionally well, it takes very little to light us up, so running into burning building wasn’t really something I wanted to do. Well, actually it’s never a good idea to go charging into a burning building no matter what you are. In all honesty, though I could search the town much faster than either Ryan or Jeremiah, they probably would have been safer. Thankfully I didn’t have to search long, Christine burst from one of the buildings coughing, and I was by her side within the second. I placed a hand on her back and she spun levelling a sliver knife at my jugular so fast it actually took me by surprise. Glad she had not removed my head I frowned at her.

 

“You should not hesitate when under attack it’s a good way to get yourself killed,” I admonished and she laughed then coughed again.

 

“If I hadn’t you would be headless right now and I doubt your corpse would look very nice without a head,”

 

“Christine I’m far too old not to disintegrate upon my death, you know that,” I replied, without hesitation. I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to constantly remind her I was not human. It was foolish I had enough trouble getting her to allow me touch her some days as it was. She did not reply and I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing. But the knife was gone and she allowed me to place a hand on her shoulder again. The flames lit the early morning sky; the buildings were in such close proximity that there was no chance the fire would stay contained. The few buildings still standing had smoke pouring from them. A panicked whinny snapped my head in the opposite direction. Charlie stood still tethered where I’d left him. He did not appear happy and a nearby building burned far too close but he was safe. Giving Christine a reassuring smile I ran to rescue my horse. The fire had already spread to the tress that surrounded the road I had arrived on. Our only way out was through the town and we wasted no time heading that way. The two of us made easy work of anyone that tried to stop us. We passed the building that housed the cells and I paused. It too was now alight and the door was blocked where the roof had partially collapsed. A strange sense of sadness ran through me when I thought of the small dog that had been so helpful. The stupid mutt had gone back into the building when I left.

 

“Ryder come on,” Christine called from ahead of me; she was holding a spooked Charlie’s reins, the horse wanted out of here. I sighed and uttered a small prayer. It burnt my mouth but I had been able to finish it. I’d been practicing, it wasn’t easy but the more I tried it the easier it got. I turned to catch up with my companions but a scared bark sounded over the crackling flames. I froze; the mutt was still in there. I cursed under my breath, was I really considering running into a burning building for a dog?  That’s a stupid question, of course I was. I turned back to Christine,

 

“Go. I have to save a friend,” she looked puzzled but before I could change my mind I ran throwing myself through one of the unshuttered windows.  Heat scorched my skin as I rolled to my feet. I tried to get my bearings in the thick smoke but it was pointless. Even vampire vision was useless in this. Not for the first time I considered my own sanity or lack thereof; as I dived out of the way as the roof above me collapsed in a burning heap. I cursed again thankful I did not have to breathe. “Here dog!” I called not having a clue what else to call it. “Where are you? You stupid mutt,” a small whine sounded from ahead of me, I moved toward it. I saw the small dog lying on the floor in another room. The door frame was on fire and the walls around the poor animal were alight. “Here boy, come on,” I coaxed hoping it wasn’t hurt and that it could walk. I really did not want to have to go into that room. He didn’t move, did not whine; I had no other choice. Pushing back the sane part of myself, the part that was screaming that entering that room meant almost certain death; I charged in. Flames licked at my skin and my hand caught alight, the air was so dry that the slight contact was all it took, I smothered the fire quickly. Burning myself in a very uncomfortable place in the process, I do not want to admit where I stuck my hand to put it out. I crouched, grabbing the puppy; its body was limp and looked injured. I doubted the smoke was doing much for it either. There was a window at the far side of the room. I looked back to the ‘door of death’, then to the window and sighed. Without thinking about it too long I ran for the window and once again threw myself through it. I landed with a thud on my back, clutching the pup to my chest. I tossed it away from me, as pain tore through my legs quickly traveling to the rest of my body.  My clothes had caught alight and now I was on fire. Making a master piece of one particular curse word, I rolled wildly patting at myself as pain burnt through me, but it was burning too fast, I couldn’t extinguish it. The pain was unbearable; I couldn’t think, I couldn’t even scream, I was screwed. Out of nowhere ice poured over me. No, not ice, water, nice cold water, drenched every inch of me. I stilled and looked up. Christine stood over me holding one of the buckets that had once been used to water horses. I laid there. The injured pup dragged itself towards me. It’s warm tongue licked a drop from my cheek. Well at least it was alive. I knew what I must have looked like, but I could already feel my skin healing. Christine held out her hand and I took it, accepting the help. I was a little shaky on my legs; nearly burning to death will tend to do that to a man. I bent to pick up the small dog that had nearly cost me my life. Christine looked first at it, then to me and grabbed my arm dragging me toward the towns exit. I could not explain the smile on her face.

 

“Ryder did you just run into a burning building to save a puppy?” she asked. I knew it sounded stupid and was not one of my better decisions but this dog had helped me. The least I could do was return the favour. He was in pretty bad shape and part of me doubted he was going to make it, but I’d be damned if he would die on my watch not after what I went through to rescue him. I nodded, opening my mouth to explain why I’d done something so irrational but my words were cut off by her lips. She threw herself at me, burnt skin and all and kissed me. I was so taken aback that I froze. She pulled away smiling and I stared at her. The words coming from my mouth were utter nonsense, as I tried to articulate my confusion. She just smiled at me and left me standing on the outskirts of town. She hoisted herself onto Charlie’s back and trotted off. I watched her go, absently stroking the puppy, until she was almost a speck in the distance, then I started walking. I was never going to figure that woman out.

 

Not surprisingly I was the last to arrive back at the ranch and I started yelling for Ryan at the top of my lungs as I reached the property line. Both Ryan and Nathaniel emerged from the house as I jogged, at a very human pace, toward them. I brushed off their questions as to why my clothes were little more than burnt rags and thrust the pup toward them.

 

“He’s hurt, can you help him?” I asked both and men nodded. Ryan looked to Nathaniel, who took the pup from my hands.

 

“Follow me, I have medical supplies inside,” they took off and I started to follow but Ryan shot me a warning look.

 

“Best you stay out of it Ryder, you’ll only be in the way,” I stopped, watching them go. Animosity coursed through me, I wasn’t sure why I was so worried about a damned dog, but I was.  I looked toward the barn to see Christine stroking my horse. The evil horse that Jeremiah had used was tied next to Charlie.  I still planned on killing that thing and with all my injuries it was looking pretty tasty. I thought better of it though, I couldn’t let Charlie see me kill his kind, the things it could do to him. I walked toward them. Charlie gave a happy whinny as I approached. Christine turned to me, a small smile on her lips. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to her exactly but I walked to her anyway. Inspiration struck and I ran to her, pulling her into my arms before she could blink and pressed my lips to hers; returning the favour. The action surprised her almost as much as she’d surprised me earlier, she recovered much quicker though and her mouth opened to mine. She moulded our bodies together, one hand moving to my neck, her fingers twisting in the slightly too long hair at my nape. Her mouth was hot and her kiss was electric. We backed up until the door of the barn forced us to stop, not breaking apart from each other for a second. My hands moved under her shirt and caressed her body. Moving to explore territory that was both familiar and thrill inducing at the same time. My fangs slid into place as they usually did when things got heated and she let out a small gasp. It always startled her and I started to apologise but her mouth met mine again, fierce and hungry. A growl of pure lust sounded in my throat and she moaned against my lips. Her free hand roamed the plains of my chest and abdomen; the contact sent chills through me. I could have easily gotten lost in her touch, the feel of her lips against mine or just as easily taken her right there against the door of the barn. I pulled away but her hand tugged my mouth back to hers. I allowed that for a few more seconds then stepped back.

 

“We can’t do this,” I said, my voice lacked conviction. I was talking about the relationship we had, I was already too attached to her. I could not keep this up without falling for her and I knew it. If that happened there was no way I could sit back and watch her being with another man whenever she pleased. It was apparent from her response she was not thinking along the same lines.

 

“It’s ok they’re all in side, we’ll be quick” she kissed me again and I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not by her latest statement.  I pulled away again.

 

“And what does that mean?” she sighed, tilting her head to look up at the sky.

 

“You sure know how to kill a mood, you know that?” our bodies were no longer touching and she slumped against the door.

 

“My apologies,” I was a little annoyed but it was mostly with myself. She looked everywhere but at me, as she fanned herself with a hand. It was warm out but I suspected that was not the reason behind the action. I braced my hands on the door beside her and hung my head. I could not for the life of me work out why we always ended up like this. We were fine if it involved sex, fighting or some combination of the two but that was it. Aside from that we had nothing, sure we had our moments but I couldn’t deal with this, I liked her too much for that. I sighed then looked up to meet her beautiful blue eyed gaze. There was a small saucy smile on her lips.

 

“Hay loft?” she enquired with a raised eyebrow. I returned her smile, Oh what the hell.

 

Just over half an hour later; yes, I know she’d been right; I was pacing the floor of the kitchen. Jeremiah watched me with a bemused look on his face. Kelly was asleep in his lap; her head nestled into the crook of his neck. She looked nothing like the made up working girl I’d first met and it was clear that Jeremiah cared deeply for her. Though she was pale and sickly, it wasn’t hard to see that she was beautiful even without all of the makeup. Part of me actually hoped she would take Jeremiah up on his offer to care for her, especially after everything she had no doubt been through with the vampires. By this time Christine had once again disappeared but I tried not to take it too personally.

 

“Ryder, will you sit down? You look like an expectant father pacing the floor like that.” I laughed at the comparison. I had done just that both times Emmaline was in labour with the girls. It was considered improper for the father to witness the birth, so I had indeed paced outside, waiting for my wife’s nurse maid to tell me both were doing well. It was not nearly as joyous as one would expect. The memory of them saddened me for a moment and I stopped my pacing. The pain was dull, old and I think the worst thing was I knew there would come a time, soon, when it no longer existed. Far too much time had passed since I’d last seem them and though I knew I would never truly forget, my memories of them had grown hazy. I couldn’t remember the colour of Emmaline’s eyes and that annoyed me; I did not want to forget but I was not given a choice. I started up my pacing again. Deciding I didn’t want to dwell on my past, nor would I consider my future. I had more than enough to worry about right now.  Like how the two men were still in the room with the pup I’d risked my life for. It frustrated and saddened me to think that it might yet still die. I still wasn’t sure why I’d risked my life for some stupid mutt of a dog but since I had I wasn’t willing to accept its death so easily. I was helpless to do anything about it and that was not something I handled well. So I paced, and then paced some more. Minutes, that felt more like hours passed and finally Nathaniel emerged holding a wrapped bundle.

 

“It’s a boy!” he exclaimed excitedly and I rolled my eyes as I walked toward him. He handed me the little dog and I could hear the strong beat of its heart. He was a fighter this one. “Not sure why you took pity on a pup bounty hunter but he’s all yours. He’ll recover in no time,” I nodded and thanked him. The mutt had grown on me rather quickly and I was relieved he was ok. I had a feeling he would end up being more than just some dog.

Ryder’s Story: Chapter Twenty

18 Sep

Chapter Twenty

 

When we finally cantered into the camp; we were greeted by shotguns and unfriendly faces. The horse thrashed wildly as Jeremiah tried to slow it and once again I was thrown off; landing hard on the ground, the air forced from my lungs. The horse happy to be rid of me calmed instantly and I vowed that the beast was going to meet an untimely end, via my fangs, later that evening. My head was throbbing, I didn’t bother to stand. I knew if I moved there would be blood on the ground. Neither Ryan nor Christine ran to my aid. Jeremiah jumped from the horse tossing the reins toward Ryan and knelt beside me. He looked concerned and I wanted to be touched by that, but I was too annoyed to muster such feelings.

 

“Are you alright partner? That’s the second nasty fall you’ve had in the last hour,” he held out a hand to help me into an upright position and I took it, though I did not need the assistance. I did not offer an answer but merely thanked him. As I got to my feet I was acutely aware that my arm was broke, so I kept it hidden from view as the bone mended itself.

 

“Jeremiah?” Ryan enquired, it sounded as though he hadn’t wanted to say the name. Jeremiah looked toward the younger man his eyes narrowed.

 

“Ya’ll going to lower your weapons?” he asked, his tone deadly. Ryan paused and scratched his head with the barrel of the gun. Christina’s aim did not waver.

 

“My sister tells me you’re here to help us?” Ryan’s voice was a little deeper than usual.

 

“Yes sir,” replied Jeremiah. Ryan seemed amused that the other man called him sir.

 

“Come with me, we will discuss what you know,” said Ryan, holstering his pistol before turning and walking off, without waiting to see if Jeremiah would follow. That was something Ryan always did.  I nodded toward Jeremiah; he tipped his hat at the still scowling Christine and followed after Ryan. Christine waited until he was out of sight before she holstered her gun and walked over to me.

 

“Are you ok?” she asked finally, I nodded.

 

“I will be,” I muttered, glaring at the horse which I swore looked almost smug. I turned back to Christine “Jeremiah does not know what I am. He only knows what I do,”

 

“I figured as much and warned Ryan to not bring it up. I know I asked you this before, but do you really know who that man is?” I considered her question; thinking of the two men he’d shot for no other reason than to steal their horses and shook my head.

 

“No, as I said we are acquaintances. I have no doubt I could kill him if need be, do not worry,” I said with absolute certainty.

 

“Do you know what they call him?” she asked,

 

“No”

 

“They call him the hunter,” she said with a small shudder. Jeremiah’s obvious amusement when I introduced myself as a hunter now made sense. Christine continued without being prompted. “They call him that because once you cross him; he will hunt you and everybody you love. I heard that he’ll kill each and every person you’ve ever loved, take everything you have and hunt you until you beg him to put an end to it all. He’s not a good man Ryder. Even a bullet is too good for him,” I stared at her, trying to picture the man that had attempted to return my money after I’d been caught with his woman, doing something so heartless. I had heard rumours of course and I’d seen the aftermath of some of his gang’s hold ups. Even after I’d watched him kill in cold blood, I still could not see him as the cruel man she spoke of. Was I becoming heartless? Was I becoming blind to such evil? I wasn’t sure.

 

“No. I did not know that,” I said softly, Christine lowered her gaze and she looked ashamed as she spoke. I knew it was killing her to say what she did and I knew if I allowed what she was to suggest she would never forgive herself.

 

“Men like him deserve heartache Ryder, let him suffer this loss. We will find the coven another way,” I stared at her, shocked to hear such a statement coming from her. Sure Christine could be cold, hell she’d screwed me over numerous times but I did not believe for a second that she meant what she’d said. I stepped forward, pulling her into my arms. She didn’t resist, she rarely did when I approached her; she just never initiated contact. She rested her head against my chest and I could almost feel the shame rolling off her. I shook my head, leant to kiss her cheek and spoke quietly into her ear as I did.

 

“Then we would be no better than him, love,” she nodded and sighed, her arms wrapping around my waist. We stood like that until Ryan and Jeremiah returned having devised a plan of action. Lately I had been rather lazy, in fact I often left most of the planning to Ryan, he was a smart lad; he knew what he was doing so I just followed direction and did what was asked of me. I was very aware that I had become their vampiric guard dog, though strangely I was not bothered by that.  It had been decided that we would go in search of a man Jeremiah spoke of, who may have useful information. We quickly packed up our camp and mounted up. Charlie did not even bat an eye as I walked over to him. I’d gotten him as a foal and raised him myself on the road. It was tedious at the time, leading a foal around wherever I went but he was barely three now and one of the best horses I’d ever had, despite his youth. I was glad to have him back in my care and now that he was, I wasn’t going to let Jeremiah have him again.

 

We did not have far to ride, as we were already on the vampires’ trail and the ranch Jeremiah led us to was just out of town. I was a little surprised, since from what I had been able to gather from Jeremiah the man we were going to meet had practically raised him and I knew he’d been raised by a band of outlaws. The tall man, who walked out to meet us, had the hard edge of criminal to him. Jeremiah did as well but it was disguised by good looks and charm, this man though was not so lucky. He looked about as charming as a pissed off rattler and was probably just as cold blooded. He was unshaven, dirty and more than a little rough around the edges. His skin was sun worn, as was common for men of this time and it was a tanned brown. Making my English counter parts and I appear almost ghostly in comparison. The tenderness with which he embraced Jeremiah, did not match his appearance and I was instantly wary of the man. Despite the fact his blood carried the fiery scent of magic; there was something about this man that had me on edge. Part of me knew he was the reason Jeremiah was tainted with magic, or at the very least he knew more than the average civilian. I wondered idly if the rest of their disbanded gang were tainted as well, figuring I was bound to find out eventually.

 

“Jerry son, glad you could come, I’m sorry to hear about Kelly. My niece was one of the women who went missing a couple towns over,” he said, gaze flicking to us only briefly. It was easy to see he couldn’t care less who we were.  Jeremiah nodded sadly. He smiled broadly before clamping a hand onto the other man’s shoulder spinning him toward us and making a grand gesture in our direction.

 

“These here fellas are going to get them back. They weren’t animal attacks partner they were…” before Jeremiah even had a chance to say it the other man nodded and finished for him.

 

“Vampires, I know Jerry.” Jeremiah looked taken aback and stammered a few incomprehensible questions; similar thoughts were running through my head. Even as jumbled as his words were the other man knew what Jeremiah was rambling about and he looked me dead in the eye when he spoke. “I was wondering when you would show up bounty hunter” I tried not to let the shock show on my face. Apparently my existence was not as secret as I believed it to be. Sure I’d suspected as much, since I worked solely from word of mouth and the fact that the Peterson’s, then Jeremiah had so easily tracked me down worried me, I was getting rather sloppy. I would have to step up my game in the future, if I was to venture off alone. Crossing my arms over my chest, I stared back defiantly.

 

“When there is a need my friend,” I replied and he nodded. I wanted to bombard him with the questions that Jeremiah still could not seem to form but I didn’t want to give too much away. I had no idea how much this man knew but I was not about to give away anything that didn’t need to be. Showing weakness was the best way to slip up and I was not intending to do that either.

 

“I must say I expected you to be taller,” I frowned and Ryan actually burst out laughing. Christine’s smile almost split her face but she stopped herself from showing anything other than amusement. I did not dignify that with a response, growing up I’d been no shorter than the other men my age, only one or two of my fellow knights had been taller than I was and it annoyed me that people equated height to ability. My five foot nine was probably considered above average height in my time, and men of larger stature often became knights, if they weren’t nobles. Though most of the males in my general vicinity stood somewhere in the six foot region, that did not mean that they were more skilled or dangerous than I. I tried rather unsuccessfully to hide just how much that irritated me. It was a pet peeve that I did not admit to willingly. A number of nasty responses formed on my tongue. None of them were fair though, so even after an expectant silence I didn’t respond. “The way folks talk about you bounty hunter I thought you’d be a mountain of a man, as tall as you were wide. But here you are a man just like any other,”

 

My smile was cruel, sardonic and my companions stiffened their amusement fading. I was not sure if they truly believed I would expose myself in lieu of hurt pride but I was not that foolish. All the muscles in my upper torso tightened a response I usually had when my hackles went up.

 

“Looks can be deceiving friend,” my voice was void of emotion; I would almost go as far as calling it inhuman as impossible as that sounded. It was one of many things I had noticed lately, my grip on all that was still human in me was slipping away. I tried not to dwell on that because despite the fact that it unnerved me, it had the desired effect. The man’s eyes widened in surprise. Along with almost everyone else’s, with the exception of Ryan. His expression was filled with scientific intrigue and I just knew this was going to spark a whole new line of testing.

 

“So it seems. Why don’t y’all come inside? I guess we got some talking to do,” I had yet to learn the name of Jeremiah’s friend. Once we were seated inside; Ryan to my left, Christine my right; he started talking and boy, did he have a lot to say. It was a lot to take in at once. He told us how he knew of vampires, that he’d seen a number in his time but had chosen to steer clear of them. He spoke of many creatures he had seen once he realised what was really out there. I couldn’t say I blamed him for his choice to steer clear of the supernatural. If given the choice I myself might have done the same, knowing what I do now but I wasn’t sure I believed all of what he was saying. There was no real reason to doubt his words, just a feeling and that was good enough for me. It was not until he started to speak of a foreign vampire with white hair and icy eyes that I really began to listen. This man had come face to face with my sire’s maker and lived to tell the tale. It was not a feat many could claim. The Peterson’s seemed to recognise who he was speaking of as well, because their bodies grew stiff and tension coiled around them. Until I received the conformation, I hadn’t been sure that he was here with Dashiell. There had been a chance the sadistic twat might have finally released Dashiell and left him to his own devices but to find he still controlled my former brother’s every action was somewhat of a relief. I knew better, I truly did, but no matter how I tried I still couldn’t bring myself to feel ill for him. However, I had no issue with ill feelings toward Skyler, not in the slightest. The man, who was eventually introduced as Nathanial McKay, told us he knew where they had taken the girls and that was all I needed to hear.

 

After his announcement and my persuading him to tell me the location, there was a lot of pointless talk. Most of it I flat out ignored; it consisted of how it was a bad idea to just storm the place without a proper plan or how foolish it was to believe that there was still hope for the girls. I might have agreed with the last one, I knew the nature of my kind; I had little hope of finding any of the girls alive, or at all really. That was not why I was going; I’d made a vow, to myself and to a higher power which I intended to keep.  I was walking toward my horse before, I suspected, any of them noticed that I was gone. It was better that way. If I were to go alone I did not have to be responsible for any life other than my own. I checked what weapons I had on me. I had grabbed a few before we’d left but it was hardly what I would have liked to have considering the circumstances. Ideally I would have loved to have my broad sword or any substantial silver weapon, all I had on me was the dagger the fairy prince had given me and a small sliver edged short sword. I had a pair of six shooters on my hip, as most did these days but I knew they weren’t worth counting unless I found myself in a shootout, which I figured was unlikely to occur when dealing with vampires.

I spurred Charlie on and rode as fast as he could manage, without a single goodbye. I was saddened briefly at the thought of leaving behind the Peterson’s and despite the fact I’d only known them a short time I had come to care for the both of them, in different ways. I knew if I survived they would not forgive me for this and I would miss them dearly, but at least this way they were safe.

 

My destination was a ghost town, fifty miles from where I’d left my companions, it was dusk when I arrived and I knew that was not going to work well in my favour. Though it weakened even me, I could have used the sunlight to my advantage.  The town had not seen life in many years or so it seemed. The buildings were crude and all but falling down. I figured this was one of the first towns to be erected and also one of the first to be forgotten in the march of progress. It was the perfect hiding place. Why bother to visit a ghost town?  I could feel the presence of my kind here and it was strong, far stronger than I had anticipated and it had me worried. There were far more here than I’d expected. I walked slowly through the town, leaving Charlie hitched just inside and I swore if anything touched him I would end them. I had sworn it loudly and none to friendly either. The sound of my boots crunching on the dry dirt was deafening in the eerie silence. The sky was a fitting blood red, casting a bloody glow over the buildings. The shadows were deep though I knew they were not empty. There was no sound, save for my boots, as I looked around, which was unsettling. This area was known for wolves, so the deathly silence was curious. I could feel eyes on me, they followed my every step. I stopped dead centre on the dirt road and waited. I did not have to wait long; a figure stepped down from one of the balconies and moved to stand in the road. The figure was shadowed but it was clearly a male. He was maybe my height and of a slighter build than my own but that was really all I could tell, the glare of the sun made it impossible to see more. He appeared to be alone, but I knew that there were others, unseen and waiting……always with the waiting. I knew the other man was a vampire the same way he must have known I was as well. It was one thing I could always tell when another was my own kind. The two of us stood motionless in the road like we were in the midst of a standoff. The slight breeze ruffled the hair at the nape of my neck, under my hat, soundlessly. The figure spoke and the voice instantly took me home.

 

“You shouldn’t have come here brother,” Dashiell stepped forward until the sun no longer blocked his profile. His once long hair had been cut short and his is pale face was gaunt. He looked thin, even for Dashiell and sickly. His clothes were fine, tailored, though I expected no less from him and they hung loosely on him. A spark of sorrow blossomed in my chest at the sight of him. I knew just from the feel of the place around me that there could not be a food supply big enough for this kind of vampiric population. Well, there was but even when hungry my brother wasn’t stupid. Their escapades had drawn enough attention as it was. As much as everything thing in me hated Dashiell for all he’d done to me, I still could not feel anything but empathy toward him. “Though I am glad you have, I was in need of your assistance.”

 

He said that last part directly into my mind and I was floored by the strangeness of it, I wasn’t aware that he could even do that. Though I knew there was much I did not know about him. I’d known he was powerful; his blood was close enough to Issas’ that he had inherited some of his sire’s magic. He looked around the area and his voice came again in my mind. “I have the woman you came for; she will remain unharmed for now.  I need you to do some population control before things get out of hand” I wondered what made him think I would help him.  I had every intention of killing the cowards in the shadows but I’d been planning on doing that before he had asked. I narrowed my eyes, watching him carefully as he stepped closer. He spoke aloud once again and I was left wondering what game he was playing.

 

“It was foolish of you to think that you alone could stop us old friend,” his voice echoed in the vast quiet.

 

“I would not say foolish. Stopping you is all I have left brother. One’s purpose in life can never be foolish,” I replied. His voice rang out in my mind before he responded out loud. “There are powers greater than the both of us brother, things bigger and a whole lot badder. Do you really believe I’ve enjoyed starving myself and playing leader to these fools? This is all a game to them Ryder and after what you did to Issas, you are the only player that can fold the dealer. They are scared of you brother, stop this before it gets out of hand.”  I could not believe what I was hearing. Who were ‘the powers’ he was speaking of? Before that moment I had never considered the fact that there may have been someone behind all this, pulling the strings. What I didn’t understand was why Dashiell would betray them, when he clearly knew what was going on? Was there still a shred of honour under that monstrous shell? If you had asked me even five minutes earlier I would have never thought it was possible but now? I was not so sure. He took another few steps forward and hope blossomed in my chest. I was still mostly the man I’d always been. No matter what horrible things I was forced to do, I still knew right from wrong. Maybe the Dashiell I’d known was still in there, maybe he was just trapped by his sire’s bond like I had once been; maybe, just maybe I could get him back.

 

“You will pay for this mistake” his voice was cold but his eyes were pleading. “I am sorry brother,” said a small voice in my mind, as his hand shot out and closed around my throat. I felt bone crunch as he lifted me from the ground. Starved, yes, but my brother was still strong. Much stronger than I would have expected, given his state. My wind pipe collapsed causing the air trapped in my lungs to burn and fight for escape, but he wasn’t allowing it. My hands instinctively came up to pry off his grip. I met his eyes and was momentarily stilled by the deep sorrow in them. Pain, hot and familiar blossomed in my chest and my mouth dropped open in a silent scream of betrayal. Darkness teased the edges of my vision and rage tore through me. I was so stupid, how many times was I going to fall for that act. Betrayal ran cold through my veins as I fell into nothingness. I was a fool.

Writing tips number two: Character development. (The Antagonist)

14 Sep

I don’t really have a lot to say about ‘the bad guy’ but I thought I would give them a mention. I’m not sure if I said this before but these tips are mostly just my opinions and only there to help. I’m going to try and share some of the advice I’ve been given and some of the things I’ve learned.

As far as antagonists go I don’t really think there is a set formula. They are just so varied and I’ve seen so many types that when I was trying to narrow down the list of what makes a good villain I was having a hard time. So instead I decided to talk about a few types that I like.

The ‘Good Guy’ Antagonist

The ‘Good guy’ Antagonist is the one you hate but at the same time empathize with. He’s the one that you know has a really good reason for being bad. He’s the one that you almost feel bad for when the Protagonist inevitably wins in the end. I haven’t seen too many of this types and I think it’s more common in movies than it is in books but they still work really well.

The Over the Top Bad Guy

This is the kind that is just so evil, just so dastardly that you wonder how they haven’t messed up yet. The kind that catches the hero, relays his evil plan because he is just so confident that he’s got it all in the bag. I find this kind of bad guy fun, if not a little over used. He’s the villain from every comic book ever, but having an over the top, totally evil bad guy makes for fun reading, most of the time.

The Betrayal

This is the least expected one, usually. It’s where someone close to the protagonist turns out to be the antagonist. Again this one is used in a lot of YA fiction. I like this kind of villain because it sparks an emotional response from the reader. They get to feel the protagonist’s betrayal. Beware with this kind though because it’s a bit of a letdown when it’s too predictable. There is nothing worse than starting a book and thinking ok he’s going to betray them. Ruins everything, (Ok, maybe not but it’s still annoying).

An antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a single person. That being said I’m not sure if it still counts as the Antagonist if it’s not but for the sake of this post we are going to pretend it does, but call it just the bad guy. So the bad guy might be a group of people, an event, or even an object. I have read some really good books whose bad guy isn’t really a guy (as in a character) at all. It could just be an event, and the badies that help cause it make up the Antagonist. I’m sorry that this post doesn’t have a whole lot of tips per se but oh well I’m sure you will get over it  😛

Next time I’ll talk about the importance of the Protagonist’s best friend/side kick.

(and to lighten up your day a bit, i’m going to give you a picture of Titan wearing sunglasses 😀 )

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Ryder’s Story: Chapter Nineteen

12 Sep

Chapter Nineteen

I dragged myself to my feet and moved much faster than I should have toward the door. Never in my life had I ever or would I ever run from anything; but I ran then. I stopped well into the centre of the thankfully deserted town and paced back and forward in a daze, with no idea how I was meant to fix this. It was not meant to be here; demons couldn’t make it into this plane, it just was not possible. Yet here it was and if opened that portal would unleash hell upon the earth and I had no idea how to stop it happening. I knew the lore surrounding demons, exorcisms, protection and such; but I had never actually seen one. I didn’t know anyone who had; demons were rare and could only be called here for a short time. All of that would change with an active portal. Something like that does not just appear without cause, I knew that someone must have triggered it and that could be for only one reason, they wanted to open it. I could not let that happen, which brought me right back to the same damn question, what the hell was I going to do?  The muffled sound of footsteps came from further down the road. Two sets, seeming far too light to belong to adults but I knew without turning to look that they indeed did. Christine and Ryan skidded to a stop near me.  As silently as they could move at times, not even they could manage it while running.

“What the fuck?” Ryan’s voice was breathy; he was bent, hands on his knees, puffing as he tried to catch his breath. I turned to face them, both had flushed cheeks and heaving chests but Christine was evidently in much better shape than her brother. Her voice sounded normal when she spoke and held only the slightest hint of worry.

“What was it Ryder?” she asked stepping forward; I shot them both an alarmed look. Surely they must have seen Enochian before, even if it was from some crack pot prophet; the alphabet that we knew of was greater than the one others knew of today but surly their great grandfather must have at least shown them. I had grown up looking at it, so he must have as well. Though they would have never figured out what the inscription said; I had only because of old memories and the magic that still lingered within my veins from Eldrin’s enchantment all those years ago. If given the time I might have been able to read every last engraving on those walls, but I hadn’t and I was glad, because I honestly did not want to know.

“Do you know what that was?” I asked just to be sure.  Perhaps they already knew and expected me to know how to stop it from being opened.

“No, we don’t, it’s why we needed you. You were trained by the monastery we though you would have a greater understanding.” Ryan said, finally catching his breath. I stared at them both.

“Well you are correct, I do know what that was, but trust me when I say there is nothing we can do about it.” I was not sure if I could trust the pair enough to tell them. Did I think they were going to unleash hell on earth? No. Could I trust them with the information that it was possible? I wasn’t sure. I knew I had to tell them there was no getting out of it.

“What is it?” demanded Ryan in an agitated tone and Christine shot him a warning look. She seemed to understand that my fear was not something to take lightly.

“Please Ryder,” she said quietly and I nodded.

“That thing is the gateway to hell, and as long as it’s in this realm it can be opened,”

Panic, as I’d expected, ensued; but surprisingly enough they had an idea and though I hated to admit it, it was brilliant. After a hushed but frantic conversation, they revealed they knew a powerful warlock, the kind I was used to; who could hide it. It was not a permanent solution but it was a start. We all figured that it should at least buy us time. Assuming they needed to be able to access the gate to crack it open. It took a few days to get in contact with their warlock but thankfully he could do the spell without being at the site, so as soon as the moon rose the following night the gate was gone.  All traces of its evil masked and I knew there was no way anyone was getting that gate open anytime soon.  That being said it wasn’t impossible but it was the best we could do, until we somehow figured out how to seal it off for good.

You would think the gate to hell being on earth and within riding distance would be pretty hard to forget but really the more time that passed the further back into my mind it was pushed. Having helped the siblings, they decided that I would become their personal test subject and seemed to follow me despite my best efforts to try and lose them. After a few weeks I stopped trying. Ryan, sadly enough did not get more pleasant, though he did become tolerable and Christine? Well, she was very tolerable indeed. With their help I got closer than I ever had to the vampires that were plaguing the old west so I guess they were not completely useless. In fact if I was being honest in the two weeks I had known them I had kind of come to rely on them, as odd as that might sound.

I stood at the edge of the bar, next to a bored looking Ryan, both siblings seemed to have gotten used to the fact I was a vampire and even seemed to accept I wasn’t in the habit of hurting people unless I had to, though as far as I could tell I was the only vampire this applied to.  I’d soon found that Ryan did not drink, it was hardly surprising. He was far too smart to poison his mind with alcohol; whereas I was not. I sipped the drink in my hand, trying not to grimace at the taste. Gin tasted horrid at the best of times but seeing as I was tired, hungry and once again recovering from one of Ryan’s tests; which usually involved me being injured in some way; it tasted much like dirt. He sighed loudly looking around, Christine was hustling a couple of eager looking chaps out of their hard earned money off in the corner and I smiled at her fondly. Ryan cleared his throat, obviously having caught me staring, as I often did without even meaning to.

“Dream on Ryder, you have no chance,” he said turning his bored gaze to me and I couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

“I know”

“Then why pine? It’s pointless,” I turned to Ryan, I wasn’t usually one to speak of such things but  sadly enough, due to my science experiment status, Ryan probably knew me better than anyone ever had.  He had seen just about every side of me and could read me well enough to almost be able to guess what I was thinking. It was disturbing but Christine assured me he could read just about anyone after he’d spent a little time with them.

“Haven’t you ever just wanted a girl solely because you cannot have her?” I asked, calling to mind all the loves in my life. I should never have been allowed any of them yet it hadn’t stopped me.

“No, I do not conquest, pine or court, romantic relationships are a pointless waste of time and totally irrational.” He replied, his voice betraying his usual cold clinical nature. I sighed giving up; he’d given me the same speech about friendship and trust. It seemed there was only one other person this man had ever connected with and that was Christine, even then it was not what I would call a usual sibling relationship; though I had no right to judge. My brother had my family killed before he turned me into a vampire, so you know, pot calling and all. “Besides we are only here because you keep whining about how weak you are living on animal blood,” I looked at him in contempt.

“I do not whine,” I… well, I do not know what it was precisely, but it was certainly not a whine. He raised an eye brow and shook his head.

“Will you just pick a victim and get it over with.”

“I wish you wouldn’t say it like that,” I growled but he did not seem to want to indulge me with conversation anymore. Ryan was like that, he was only social when he deemed it necessary. I glanced around, first catching the eye a working girl, then Christine. I knew which I preferred. My gaze lingered on hers a moment longer than it should have before I walked dutifully toward the working girl.

“Why do you pick working girls?” asked Ryan, trying to steady his horse, the animal was panicking because I walked beside it. The bar was not all that far from our camp, so Christine hadn’t bothered with hers but Ryan wasn’t one to let such foolishness stop him. His horse was being irrational and would come to its senses eventually, or so he said. Sometimes I truly wondered how his mind worked.

“Because it is simpler that way” I replied and he nodded.

“I wonder. Do vampires feel guilt? No of course you don’t,” I looked to him while Christine laughed. This is what often happened, Ryan would go off on a tangent with a theory about vampires which I would eventually correct, while being annoyed at his bluntness. Christine spent most of her time laughing at the two of us.  “You mustn’t, because if you did, you would not do what you do,” he said and I rolled my eyes.

“I can’t speak for others but I do indeed feel guilt. I do not enjoy having to live off others anymore than anyone would. I do what I have to, it has nothing to do with my emotions what so ever,” he nodded slowly.

“Enhanced survival instincts, is that feeling stronger now or when you are living off of animals,” I considered that.

“Animals,” I replied and he smiled,

“Curious, very curious indeed. Can I have a blood sample?”

“When we get back to camp. If I have any left,” I sighed, like it was an everyday thing, because with Ryan it was.

“Marvellous, I’ll ride ahead and set up, do hurry vampire,” he said, nudging the horse gently with his heels; it took off much faster than he expected, grateful to get away from me. I stepped closer to Christine since it was only the two of us now. The light was fading fast and we still had a long walk ahead of us. I had told both Christine and Ryan that there was no need for them to treat me as though I was a human, but as soon as it came clear that if I was to walk everywhere, Christine would do the same. I was glad for the company; I’d been getting accustomed to it, even after spending so long alone. She was wary around me tonight and I knew it was the fact I’d practically begged them for human blood. Though I had not gotten down on my knees, I had asked very nicely, repeatedly and that was unusual for me.

“Beautiful night” I observed stupidly.

“It is” she agreed and silence fell again. I did not want it to be like this, though honestly it usually was. The reality was harsh, she just did not like me; despite that fact we had been… intimate, more than once now. It seemed the only thing we could do that did not feel strange, which was infuriating. Times had changed but I was too old fashioned for that kind of relationship. Once, maybe twice I could have handled, but the way we were was not something I wanted.

“Christine?” I said, the word leaving my mouth before I could stop it. One of these days I would learn to control myself. She looked to me, her profile beautiful in the fading light and I was lost for words. Damn it! She waited patiently for me to continue but when I didn’t she pried just a little.

“What is it?” I fought for a convincing lie; as usual I avoided the issue.

“Ryan is very strange,” I spoke softly, saying the first thing that came to mind. She looked baffled but smiled.

“You noticed that huh?”  She chuckled and I shrugged.

“Might have crossed my mind when I saw his utter joy at shooting me in the face, or when he decided to amputate my arm to see if whole limbs could regenerate, or…” she cut me off with a laugh. I rolled the offending shoulder; it still didn’t feel quite right. Turns out that no, they do not regrow, but if put back in place, with enough blood, they would heal.

“Ryan likes experiments, he’s always been more of a researcher but isn’t that a part of what the order used to do.” I nodded indeed it was. Though I had never seen myself doing anything of the sort, I assumed that I would eventually start training others to fight as I grew older; whereas Dashiell had always figured he’d be teaching lore and dissecting monsters. I think part of my fondness toward Ryan was because he reminded me of the Dashiell I had grown up with. Though the two were completely different, still there was something there. I nodded not really wanting to talk about Ryan, but I’d picked the subject.

“He’s fascinated by monsters, it is a good but dangerous trait for people like us to have,”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               it was her turn to nod.

“Aren’t we all just a little,” the look she shot me was coy, her eyes hooded by thick black lashes. I swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry; I hated when she did that, I wasn’t sure she was even aware of what she was doing. I didn’t respond and we walked quietly a little while longer. Tension from things left unsaid hung heavy between us. I’d never had this problem before, Christine was different. Nothing that I usually used worked on her. Not the vampire scent, not English charm, nothing, it seemed she was immune to it all. Without realising she had closed the space between us while I was lost in my own head. I felt her soft warm hand brush my cold one and out of instinct I twined my fingers with hers. It didn’t feel wrong but I think it shocked both of us that I had actually done it. She didn’t pull her hand away; in fact I felt her arm brush against mine as she stepped closer. I wasn’t sure why I was so awkward around this girl, maybe I was losing my touch or maybe I had spent too long alone. It was clear that she was as unsure how to act around me, as I was her and it really sucked.

“Ryder. Do vampires feel love?” she asked suddenly and I answered with absolute certainty.

“Yes,” I was sure that was true, though I only had lingering memories of it. It was different now though, as soon as I found myself growing fond of someone I usually cut all ties. I wasn’t sure I liked what it meant any more. Ryan was right about one thing, love was irrational, and for a vampire it was dangerous.

“I believe you,” she said it as though before I’d confirmed it she had been uncertain.  I stopped walking and drew her into me. Neither of them would tell me but I knew something had happened to these two that had involved vampires, something that had sparked their interest, and it was not something good.  I brought my lips to hers; a gentle reassurance that I would never do anything to harm her; her lips parted. We might not have known where we stood, but our bodies had an agreement and our minds accepted that.  It felt right to hold her and she barely flinched when my fangs emerged and brushed her lip. The Peterson’s were the first humans I didn’t have to hide from and the last for a very long time. We didn’t break apart until a horse skidded to a stop nearby, both of us drew weapons; I knew it would be quicker to go primal and rip into our interloper than to shoot them, but I was a civil monster after all. Then he spoke and I knew the voice even before I got a good look at him.

“Ryder thank god, you are a hard man to find,” I pulled away and lowering my weapon as I stepped toward Jeremiah and Charlie, Christine did not move.

“Hello boy,” I greeted stroking my horse’s neck fondly, he nickered happily. Jeremiah looked amused but didn’t dismount or comment on my lack of greeting toward him.

“Ryder do you know who this is?” exclaimed Christine, her voice full of disbelief and anger.  I nodded and looked to her.

“Yes, he is an acquaintance,” I said coolly as she narrowed her eyes.

“No. He’s an outlaw, and a very dangerous man,” she snapped pulling back the hammer on her gun. Jeremiah raised his hands in surrender but didn’t look afraid.

“Now lookie ‘ere darlin’ don’t go doin’ something we will all regret,” he drawled. I turned to Christine, reaching out and wrapping a hand around the barrel.

“He is no more dangerous than we are, maybe less so in fact,” I reassured her and she let me lower the gun without firing it.  Jeremiah did not look happy but he remained silent.

“I suppose,” she said and I looked to Jeremiah.

“What is it Jeremiah?” I asked and he looked stricken for a second.

“It’s the dang vamps, they took my Kelly!” I motioned for him to dismount, taking hold of the reins myself. I led Charlie toward Christine and passed her the reins.

“Take Charlie, ride ahead and warn Ryan so he doesn’t shoot Jeremiah on sight,” I raised an eyebrow hoping she would understand what I was trying to relay in my next sentence. “And tidy the place up a little there are some things Jeremiah isn’t accustomed to.”  Christine swung herself up onto the horse and rode off with a nod.

“So that’s your woman?” asked Jeremiah as we started walking I shook my head.

“She is another bounty hunter, like myself” I replied, he started to say something else but I redirected him before he got the chance. “When did they take Kelly, Jeremiah?”

“Two nights ago, took her sister too. I rode into town to find the place in shambles. Three girls killed, two missing. They said they were unrelated, animal attacks, but I know better. I ain’t never seen any animal make those kind of bite marks. A guy I used to run with sent word that the same thing happened in the town over from him. It can’t be more than fifty miles from here. I came looking for you as soon as I seen them girls’ bodies. I want to help; I have to save my Kelly,” I nodded in understanding but I had no intention of letting him help. Skilled gunman he might be; trained hunter, he was not.  Though I did not plan on telling him that, I knew it would be more trouble than it was worth. We walked at a pace that was easy for me, even though I should have had trouble keeping up with his long legged stride. I didn’t of course and chances were I could hold this speed longer than he ever could. His body hummed with tension, the scent of fire; I’d grown used to from the Peterson’s blood; caused me to stop in my tracks. Suddenly I realised what the fiery scent was. It was inactive which was probably why I had not recognised it immediately, it was magic. This was not like the all-consuming magic that was out there. It was not what you would feel from a warlock, a fey, or even the original vampires. It was weak and as I said inactive, like it was cast upon their very blood, a part of their very make up without being a part of them at all.  It was likely this magic was what kept them from being influenced by other magic, providing them with advantages they would need to be part of my world without being one of the supernatural. Magic that caused a strange fire to burn through their blood; a magic I could not explain. The Peterson’s had a reasonable connection to the supernatural world. The monasteries had kept many warlocks among their ranks, it was very possible they could be descended distantly from warlock blood, though unlikely.  Someone may have cast it upon them, for protection, such things were not unheard of and with the connections they had I found it much more likely. Though Jeremiah was puzzling, he was born and raised in this country, which lacked the deep seated supernatural history of my homeland. I had no doubt that there were those who knew of magic, that they had a history but it was not like ours. The natives harboured the only magic I knew of here and where as it was possible that he had been descended from a Sharman or had it cast upon him, it was unlikely, he did not know of our world and I believe until he had meet me he’d had no idea such things were possible. I knew I could inquire about it with the Peterson’s, in fact I would but the idea left me wheeling, wondering what else these humans would be capable of. In my bewilderment, I had not noticed that Jeremiah stop two passing horseman and hold them at gun point, it was not until the sound of a gun firing, a body hitting the ground and a horse whinnying all one after the other pulled me back to the present. Another shot rang out and Jeremiah thrust a set of reins toward me, as he ran after the now panicking horse. The smell of blood filled the air and I was shocked. Jeremiah hoisted himself onto the horse and calmed it with skilled ease. He fixed me with an impatient glare. The horse I held pulled away from me, rearing and fighting my un-breaking hold. I did not consider how that must have looked because I wasn’t sure what had just happened.

“Come on partner, we need to ride,” he said his horse full of un-restfulness. I stilled the horse long enough to swing onto its back. I spurred it on but was quickly thrown off, landing hard on my back the frightened horse shot past Jeremiah as he rode off, leaving me in the dust. The fall had hurt but only a little, I was almost sure I had broken my back. I could feel it healing and the blood of the men Jeremiah had shot was starting to smell irresistible. Jeremiah turned his horse, stopping beside me; he leant down and held out a hand. His horse was agitated by my presence, he settled it with a skill that I did not possess and I climbed on behind him. I had never ridden with another man and I was unsure where to hold on. The horse was unsettled and there were only so many falls I could handle before I did something that only fresh blood could heal. “You sure have a way with animals partner,” he glanced at me over his shoulder.

“Yes indeed I do,” I agreed. He gave me another look over his shoulder.

“You should probably hold on partner, I have no intention of letting this filly throw us off,” as if to punctuate that the horse reared up, then bucked and out of instinct I clung to the other man. Jeremiah didn’t seem the least bit worried about either the horse or my arms around his waist and he spurred the beast on. It took off and he called over his shoulder as I hung on for dear life wondering how the human was doing a better job than I was. “I trust you know where we are going?” I nodded and leant forward so he could hear me over the rushing wind.

“Yes, head north,”