Tag Archives: quirky

Character Interview: Cendall from Candice Burnett’s novel, Death has a Daughter

27 Apr

Well, today guys I have a little treat to share with you all. For a while I’ve been wanting to do reviews and interviews and now I have my first one. Today I’m here with Cendall, the heroine from Candice Burnett’s Death Has A Daughter series. Cendall has very gracefully taken the time out of her busy scheduled to be here and chat with us today!

 

ME: So Cendall thanks for giving us a few minutes today, How are you?

 

CENDALL: I’ve been better.  It’s been an insane year.  One that I never thought in my wildest dreams would happen.  Everything that was my norm is now, well. It’s different.

 

ME: Well I’m glad you could find time to talk to me. So Cendall you’re the only female Grim reaper to ever be born, that’s pretty cool, what’s that like?

 

CENDALL: Being the only female grim reaper has its highs and lows. Because I’m female, the expectations are higher.  If I fail well, I prove the stereotypes are real. That women are too emotional and weak to handle the responsibilities of a Grim Reaper.  When I succeed though, I’ll finally get the respect I deserve.  I’ll show them all that what sits between your legs has nothing to do with your abilities.  I’ll show them that women can be just as tough.  Show them that even though men might be physically stronger, my mind more that makes up for their biceps.  That day when I prove my critics wrong will be the highlight of my career, and I know that day is coming soon.

 

ME: being the only female is tough? What about reaping in general. Was it what you were expecting?

 

CENDALL To watch the light of a soul slip from it’s host into my scythe, was something I’d been craving for sixteen years.  After that first reaping I was finally able to silence the aching, but found that it still wasn’t enough.  Finding out that it wasn’t enough was what surprised me the most.   All my life I thought, that all I ever wanted was to be the best Grim Reaper hell had ever seen, but then I was given a complication named Lacie. After that, well we will just say my aspirations in life have been shifted a bit.

 

ME: Lacie, she comes with a few complications huh? Like say a tall, hunky guardian, care to comment on him?

 

CENDALL: Those aren’t the first choice words I would use for him, but I’d be lying to myself if I said they weren’t on the list.  That’s part of the problem with Trevor.  He’s arrogant, cocky, and knows he’s irresistible to the opposite sex.   Ever since I made the mistake of calling him out on a dare last year, well things have been more awkward than usual between us.  I try not to let what happened between us, distract me from our mission though.  I wouldn’t even say it was anything to begin with, but if you asked Lacie, I’m sure she’d have a different answer, but Trevor is nothing but a Co-worker to me.

 

ME: So what about Lacie? You said she was a complication, do you regret meeting her? Have you wondered how thing might have turned out had you not?

 

CENDALL: I don’t regret meeting her, but it is something I think about every day.  I think about what I would have been doing had she never been on my list in the first place.  When the thought comes though I try not to ponder on it too long because that’s just not my reality any more. I was such a different person when I first met her. I was organized, controlled, and thought I had my life planned out, to where now I’m on the complete opposite of that spectrum.  One day I’ll find a happy balance.  Meeting her has made me change, for the better I think.  And if it weren’t for her I might have never discovered my other gifts, that I’m still trying to figure out.

 

ME: anything else you want to share with us?

 

CENDALL:  Since we both know the Guardians can’t handle Lacie alone, I should probably get back to my guard duty

 

ME: well thank you for chatting with me today Cendall it’s bee fun, good luck with all your newest adventures 🙂

 

CENDALL: Hopefully the next time we talk I’ll have life a little more figured out.

 

If you want more of Cendall, check her out in her first adventure Death has a Daughter by Candice Burnett. For my review and links to amazon and Candice’s sites click the link below.

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/04/27/book-review-death-has-a-daughter-by-candice-burnett/

 

want me to post a review, interview or character interview? shoot me an email at justatasmanian(at)hotmail(.)com(.)au (No SPAM!) 😛

 

a bit about DHAD

Cendall, history’s first female Grim Reaper, has until her eighteenth birthday to prove she’s worthy of the role.  The only obstacle in her way are those pesky

coverGuardian Angels who protect human souls, but Cendall is certain she can handle any Guardian who gets in her way. However, nothing could have prepared Cendall for Lacie—a soul that is protected by multiple Guardians, wanted by Demons, and, most startling of all, can see Cendall.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The affect of crappy voices on fictional boyfriends :P

1 Jan

wow sorry it’s been so long since our last post!

it’s a hectic time of year and I haven’t had time to sit down and write anything, not even a small post 😦

thankfully the lovely Lauren  has come to my rescue with this small post she has been thinking about.

i hope you all  have a awesome Christmas and a amazing new year, (i know i did!)

shan

Ok guys so you know how when you start to read a new book and your brain builds this image of the characters, what they look like and how their voices sound. Well I was recently listening to an audio book and the whole time I kept thinking that the main characters voice was just wrong, it wasn’t even close to what he sounded like in my head and it kind of made me dislike the poor guy. Now I’m not sure if this has ever happened to anyone else, but it was like my brain didn’t want to listen to the audio book readers voice and after a while I just couldn’t stick with the story because I was so distracted by his voice. I mean come on the main character was supposed to be a twenty something fit guy, not someone who sounded out of breath and pushing half a century! Ok that’s probably a bit mean, with a different book and an older character it might have worked, but with this book it almost destroyed my image of my newest fictional crush! :\

So anyway enough complaining not all audio books are like this one. I have listened to a lot, that have both an interesting story and readers (narrators?) whose voices are well matched to the characters. I honestly think that when the reader enjoys the story, it then becomes more enjoyable for the listener too. Reading the book in a monotonous voice with no emotion, isn’t what I would consider a job well done. Not that I would ever be able record books for a living, I would probably be fired for yelling at characters who do or say stupid things.

Clearly the author sometimes has an image in mind when they create a character that is totally different to what the reader sees. An example is Shannon’s book Into the Night, for some reason I always see Damien with dark brown hair, no matter how many times Shan tells me it’s dirty blonde. It even says that multiple times in the book! I guess what I’m trying to say is everyone is going to have their own impression of a character, so we will never fully agree on one voice or one ‘look’, do not get me started on book to movie transformations!

Anyway like I said we are all different so that is why I bought the paperback version of  offending audio book. I read it, enjoyed it but sadly my fictional bf has now been replaced by the hero of my newest read. What can I say I love a good book 😀

Lauren

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,”

Ryder’s Story: Chapter Eighteen

3 Sep

Chapter eighteen

 

I did not see Jeremiah for almost two months after that, at the time I’d thought it was a good thing. I continued to track the nest of vampires, but much to my dismay they were always one step ahead of me. At first I thought it was just good luck on their part; it wasn’t until I found out who was among their leaders that I realised the real reason they continued to evade me; Dashiell. For every tracking skill I possessed, he had a way to counter it, we’d had the same training, he knew how I worked and I him. It was guaranteed that his pesky sire wouldn’t be far from his side, he’d not been released from his sire as I had and could not feel the contempt I felt for the monster known as Skyler. No doubt by now they’d both heard that I’d ended Issas and must know, if given the opportunity I would deal them the same fate. As petty as it was I still longed for revenge against the two men; they shattered my human life, took it and destroyed everything in it. True, if not for them I would be little more than a pile of bone rotting in the ground, but that’s the way it was meant to be. I no longer hated being a vampire, I had tired of longing for my humanity or wishing for death; still I mourned my losses, I would avenge the wrong that was befallen, no matter what it took.

 

My latest lead on the coven had proven a strange one and initially I believed I had wandered into something else entirely. Had I known back then what I do now I would have never agreed to help the wandering stranger, I would have turned tail and fled. Had I done so, then maybe things may have ended differently.

 

Dusk was just settling as I walked into town; I was tired, thirsty and the sun had done a number on me. Though it was not lethal, it still wasn’t pleasant and long exposure drained even the strongest of vampires. I was starting to regret the decision to give my horse away; I was yet to find another mount that could tolerate my presence, though they were still useful, it was proving an expensive way to get meal. I shook the dust from my hat and ran my fingers through my hair, as I scanned the street for the saloon knowing that I would not be able to truly heal without sustenance after that fierceness of the sun today. As usual no one noticed my entrance, the place was bustling and something as simple as a lone stranger entering a bar does not cause the stir that you see in modern movies. There were a number of games running at various tables and girls dancing between rowdy men. There were the locals, the saloon girls, the outlaws and the cowboys, it was just as I’d come to expect. I took a seat at the bar and ordered water, much to the amusement of a few nearby patrons. I ignored their drunken comments; in my current state it wasn’t wise to let such things get on my already frayed nerves; and glanced around. I was low on money, I would need every bit I had left if I wanted to remain under the radar, but the black jack table called my name and I knew if I played my cards right there was a good chance I’d be invited into the back room, where the real money was made.  I sat forward in my seat and watched the players, learning what I could before deciding if it was worth the risk to join the game.  My need to play won out over my better judgment; I took a seat at the table and was dealt in. As I expected I did rather well, only losing a few hands but more than doubling the money I had started with. It was the quickest and most enjoyable way to earn an income I’d found, though the cards had not always been so kind to me. Sadly as well as I was doing at first; tonight was to be one of those nights.

 

“Damn it! I fold. Stupid cheating son of a bitch,” muttered the last of my opponents. I smiled, careful to ensure my fangs stayed hidden, as I collected my pot.

 

“Now don’t be like that Jimmy, you were just out matched,” I replied with smug satisfaction as I piled my chips, “another hand gentlemen? I will give you the chance to win it all back”

 

“I’ll take that hand, if no one else will,” said a high pitched voice, charmingly laced with an accent similar to my own. It was young and girly; I looked up into the bluest eyes I had ever seen. The men seated around the table laughed at the new comer but I just stared in appraising silence. Given my track record I should have learnt that it was never smart for me to challenge a woman, but I wasn’t one to learn easily from that mistake. She was tall, slender but still curvy and beautiful. Her hair was an ashen blonde, long and braided messily falling over pale skinned, bare shoulders. Her dress was fancy, though not expensive and much to my amusement the skirt fell to cover work boots, the toes just visible under the hem. Though her young face was pretty and her appearance gave the impression of innocence. Her eyes, such an intense blue that it would put a sapphire to shame, held a hardness and a fierceness I had not seen a long time. Even from here I could smell the fire in her blood, a scent I had only ever smelt on one other person. Her eyes were still focused on me and I nodded.

 

“Anyone who is not in remove yourself from the table,” I said and it was clear to all around that it was not a request. Jimmy, the man who had complained all night of my cheating ways stood and walked off muttering about playing cards with a woman and how I was out of my damned mind, I couldn’t care less what he thought. I knew better than anyone one sitting there that we were being hustled and I was not about to under estimate her. As I expected the game came down to the two of us, the cards sitting on the table read jack of hearts, jack of spades, eight of hearts, king of spades and ten of spades, I glanced at my hand, two jacks, giving me four of a kind, then I glanced to her. She was studying me intently. Most of my money now sat in the centre of the table, I had a good hand, but I couldn’t be sure if hers was better, she checked and everything told me that, if she had the straight I expected she would have raised, so why hadn’t she. I could check also and then I’d know for sure, or I could raise and see if she followed suite, then there was always the final option. I could go all in, if she matched me I was destined to lose anyway but if she was bluffing, she’d surely fold; no one brings that amount of money to the table unless they expected a tough game. For once I played it safe. With a sigh, I threw my cards toward the dealer.

 

“I fold,” the woman smiled broadly and collected her winnings while the considerable group of spectators we’d gained, complained about me losing to a woman or allowing her to win. I mostly ignored them and stood. Though I was better off now than when I’d walked into the establishment, the fact that I had lost most of it again was disheartening. On the plus side, I still had enough to pay a saloon girl for the night and that was always a good thing. The last thing this town needed was a rabid vampiric vampire hunter going on a massacre in the town he’d intended to protect from vampires.

 

“Can I buy you a drink?” a voice asked beside me surprising me, I hadn’t heard or noticed her approach. Like Jeremiah it seemed that this girl had a knack for stealth. I stared at her dumbly as the smell of her blood overwhelmed me for a moment. I was far too weak to consider close contact with anyone, without a rather good distraction. “I know you have the ability to talk, so I assume you’re mad that I beat you,”   I snapped myself out of it.

 

“Sorry I’m not upset, it’s just normally I wouldn’t even consider such an offer, but seeing as you just won most of my money, I think I might make an exception,” I replied. She giggled; I would have liked to call it a laugh, but it was too girlish and really much too cute to be considered anything else.

 

“Well, this way handsome. Tonight your drinks are on me,” she said with a far to pretty smile, I knew even then that this girl would bring me nothing but trouble.

 

“What is your name?” I asked, as I trailed after her.

 

“Christine,”

 

“Well Christine, just out of curiosity may I ask what you had in your hand?” she turned to look at me, a devilish smirk crossing her lips. I had expected something like a straight or a royal flush but her answer floored me.

 

“A pair of eights,” she smirked, I stared at her dumbfounded.

 

“I had four of a kind!” I replied in disbelief, feeling foolish for telling her. Her smile widened and she winked at me.

 

“I didn’t think you were the type to play on the side of caution, Ryder,” I opened my mouth to reply but stopped realising I had not told her, or anyone else here my name.

 

“Have we met?’ I asked already knowing the answer to that. If I had met this girl I would have remembered.

 

“No but we’re in the same business, you and I. Sit I’ll get us a drink” she did and we talked. She explained she was also a hunter; her grandfather had been one of the boys I’d pulled from the monastery, he had gone on as I had to continue what we’d been trained for. In truth his was the original hunting family but that little fact was excluded when the tale was re told and eventually forgotten. He had trained his son who in turn trained his daughter. Rumours of my ‘family line’ were still spread among those who remained part of my former organisation; when she’d arrived in the new world and heard the same things in the wind here she’d come looking for me. She’d stumbled upon me by chance when she came across the case I was working and wanted to offer her assistance, or so she told me. Her story checked out as far as I could tell, though I already knew how impeccably good she was at lying; she was giving me no real reason to distrust her. To tell you the truth I’m not even sure how we ended where we did, she’d planned it apparently. So who was I to argue?

 

My back hit the wall of the wooden wagon, where she apparently lived, the wheel driving into my leg. I smiled and grabbed for her dress gently pulling her into me. She was strong, for a woman of her size and I could tell by the way she carefully executed each step that she was highly trained, just as I had been. She ripped my hat from my head, tossing to the ground before kissing me. Her fingers twisted and pulled roughly at my hair but I didn’t mind in the slightest. I turned us both and pinned her against the wall, careful to position her away from the wheel so it did not cause her pain. Her teeth grazed the curve of my neck as her lips caressed the skin, where it met my shoulder. My duster had slipped from my shoulders and I shook it to the ground.  My fangs slid into place expectantly and I started to pull away so she wouldn’t see. Her hand knotted in my shirt and her breathy “Nuh uh,” was enough to thwart that idea. I turned back, my lips locking with hers and she pushed off the side of the wagon, dragging me to the door at the back.

 

“Nice place you have here,” I said as I worked the buttons on her dress loose, letting it drop to the ground. I’d managed, with much effort, to get my fangs to retract but my jaw ached like mad and I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would find their rightful place again.

 

“Shut up,” she said shoving me backwards up the steps. Unprepared I fell, my legs catching against the doorway and my head hitting the floor. I winced and made a pained sound, though I hardly felt it. The walls of the wagon were covered with various articles; wanted posters and weapons mostly.  The weapons ranged from steel, to sliver, to iron and they were impressive. It was the kind of thing I would have killed for once and it was surprisingly arousing. Before I could contemplate what a bad idea this could turn out to be, her body was flush against mine and my hands moved on their own volition, her lips met mine again and this time I didn’t even attempt to stop.

 

When I woke my first thought was that someone was straddling my waist.  “Good morning handsome,” I started to sit up and pain lanced through my chest. The voice that had spoken was male and he was holding a stake, that was now imbedded almost an inch into my chest. I snarled at the new comer but he didn’t flinch. “He’s certainly a vampire,” said the man glancing over his shoulder. His voice was rough but not deep and held an accent similar to my own. His build was slight and he was tall. His eyes were like piercing sapphires and his hair  ash blonde, if that hadn’t been clue enough the striking resemblance to Christine would have told me the two were related. I looked down at the stake still firmly lodged in my bare chest. No blood leaked from the perforated skin. I had yet to work out why it was that wood could puncture our skin, when so many other things could not. I guess it was similar to silver having such an effect when other metals were essentially harmless.

“This one doesn’t bleed and he seems to be showing no pain responses, confirming he didn’t bite you after all,” his said distaste clear in his voice, as he pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with his free hand.

 

“Ryan, he’s highly trained and very old, don’t anger him,” said Christine in a bored voice from the entranceway. He looked me up and down, his gaze lingering on my fangs for a moment.

 

“Too late for that little sister, he seems rather agitated”

 

“He is rather agitated. If you do not remove the stake Ryan, I will remove your head,” he smirked,

 

“Could you do that before I staked you fully?” he nudged the stake and I gasped as a wave of light headedness washed over me. Any further and it would puncture my heart, then it would be lights out for me. “Now vampire, I will remove the stake on one condition,” I merely growled in response. “Now, now, you have to behave, no trying to kill us. We just want to talk,” I felt violated, the stark realisation that the only reason Christine had seduced me was to get close enough to work out if I was indeed human and to capture me. I had played, rather willingly, into their trap.

 

“Fine,” I snapped seeing as I had a few things I wished to say to Christine. Ryan nodded and pulled the stake from my chest, I saw a hand pass him what looked like a glass milk bottle. I also noticed that the small window was covered and none of the light from the door way reached me, meaning they didn’t know I could walk in the day. Amateurs.

 

“Here drink this, it’s deer blood but…” I snatched the bottle and pushed him out of the way, probably more forcibly than necessary, but there was no need to pretend anymore. Christine had a gun aimed at me as I exited the wagon and stretched in the morning sun, before bringing the bottle to my lips. My skin reacted as it usually did to direct sunlight and though uncomfortable, at this time of day it was not painful, it merely darkened, like a tan. Christine gazed at me clearly confused, part of me suspected she’d thought I would burst into flames. I drained the bottle and tossed it, again with more force than necessary before crossing my arms over my chest and fixing her with an unimpressed glare. Though the wound in my chest was now healing, vampires were weakened by animal blood and usually needed a lot more of it to sustain us. Seeing as I was already hungry, pissed off and now injured, I knew what they had given me wouldn’t last long and things tended to go badly when I was hungry.

 

“Have you anything else? I am not threatening you but unless I get something more human, I’m not going to stay very friendly for long,” without dropping her aim she picked up another bottle, from near her feet and tossed it to me. I could tell by the scent it was deer blood as well, I hated animal blood. I drank this one more slowly and I watched her as she studied me. Ryan climbed out of the wagon rolling his shoulders and frowning. He motioned for Christine to lower the gun and I raised an amused eyebrow when she did.

 

“Now Ryder we didn’t come all this way to fight you,” he said.

 

“Well then why did you come all this way? To kill vampires? If so you are not very good at it,” I knew I should hardly be provoking them but quite frankly I could not care less what I should be doing.

 

“We’ve had plenty of chances to kill you if we wanted to but we didn’t, honestly we just want to talk.” he said and I glared at him.

 

“Well, despite what you think I’m an approachable…..person, if you ask me nicely I usually talk,” I replied, my gaze flicking toward Christine. Today she was wearing clothes more suited to a cowboy than a woman. Chaps made from some sort of hide and a brown leather duster that was much too big for her and appeared astonishingly like my own; in fact I was almost sure it was mine. Her hair was still in a braid but this time she wore a hat covering all but what hung over her shoulders. She looked so different from the pretty little blonde I’d met last night and had I not known better, I might have thought I was looking at someone else. Her face held no expression and her gaze lingered off in the distance it was clear she was done with me for now.

 

“Forgive us, we had no idea the kind of m… man you were, rumours say you are dangerous we had to be cautious,” he said and I gave a dry laugh.

 

“You’re right Ryan; you have no idea the kind of man I am. After all I’m a monster, had I been in the mood I could have torn your pretty little sister to shreds without feeling too bad about it. Now I’m not complaining but sleeping with a man you suspect to be a monster is not the safest way to confirm your suspicions.”

 

“But it is the most fun,” piped in Christine much to my amusement.

 

“No, that wasn’t planned, speaking of which, if you never planned to feed on her what was the point?” he asked, I smirked and looked to him.

 

“Son, how old are you?”

 

“I’m twenty one,” he said clearly confused, I nodded.

 

“I find it hard to believe a man at your age you does not understand what the point of sex is,” he stared at me blankly but Christine snickered, he blushed bright red and fixed me with a glare.

 

“I know vampire, but I want to know your reasoning, what did you get out of it?” he was getting more flustered with every word. I gave a small smile.

 

“My reason? Well I would have thought that was obvious, your sister is attractive and I felt like it,” he sneered before pulling a packet of tobacco from his pocket and began to roll himself a cigarette. Judging from the way his hands shook, I would say he was annoyed and used this practice to calm himself.

 

“Enough, look we couldn’t care less what you are. You’ve more than proven yourself to be on our side and truth is we need your help. There aren’t many of us and none of us have been doing this as long or have as much experience, as you. You help us and we’ll help you take down the coven and your maker.”  Shocked; the bottle fell from my hand and before I could even question how they had known that I was in pursuit of the vampire that made me, Christine spoke.

 

“We have been following you for a few weeks now, that’s how we worked out you weren’t human. Also we have unconventional means of gathering information from the supernatural population. You have been a very popular subject apparently,” I looked between the two; for some reason I felt I could trust them, well as much as I trusted anyone, especially since they had already tricked me once. Maybe it was because I knew they weren’t lying, or maybe I believed they held no immediate threat to me but either way, I could use their help.

 

We rode all of the morning and well into the afternoon to make it to the town that they called home, at least for now. It was small compared to some of the others I had passed through and only recently settled if my guess was correct. There were only a dozen or so buildings and as we rode through the centre I picked out the saloon, the general store and the sheriff’s office. We hitched our horses in front of the sheriff’s office and Ryan motioned toward to door after Christine entered. I followed. She nodded to a stout man with a sheriff’s badge fixed to his chest as she entered and he stood to shake her offered hand, relief clear on his face.   The man was not at all very tall and was rather large for a man of his height. He would have been no taller than five feet, with a red face and white hair.

 

“Thank goodness you have returned, I was beginning to worry,” he said, in a voice damaged from years of hard drinking and most likely heavy smoking. “The people are getting curious, more and more have just up and left, we can’t build on a ghost town,” Christine nodded.

 

“Sorry, it took longer than expected to find our associate. Sheriff this is Professor Kingston from Oxford,” she motioned to me and I almost laughed at the statement. I looked the furthest thing from a professor in my bloody, dirty old clothes and worn hat but the Sheriff smiled like I was the saving grace.

 

“Thank you so much partner, it means so much that you would travel all this way to help us.” He said emphatically and I gave a small smile.

 

“Please think nothing of it, you are not inconveniencing me at all,” I replied, shooting a dirty look toward Ryan, who was currently rolling more tobacco.

 

“This way, please tell me what you make of it,” he said walking toward a door at the back of the building. I followed and as soon as I stepped through it I knew we were very much out of our depth. I was sure the humans could not feel it but magic, dark and twisted, leaked from every crack in the ground. The air smelt foul, like rotten eggs, but again it was faint enough that the humans may have missed it, I certainly did not. I looked around cautiously as we walked. Someone had constructed a make shift wall and the sheriff pulled a piece of it away, stepping through the hole it created and motioned for us to follow. I did as asked and froze looking at the huge stone circle in the ground. Hollows in the shape of a five pointed star were dug into the stone and symbols I had only ever seen before in the books father Kingston had. The pentacle carved into the stone worried me. A pentagram depicted the five words of god, a point for each of the senses he gave humans. There was only one thing I knew that could be trapped by that. Demons. The air was thick with magic and I felt a pull like when I was transported to the fairy realm. This place did not originate on earth, yet somehow it was here and that was bad, very, very bad. I backed up slowly, trying to decipher the symbols to no avail. My gaze froze on the one symbol I recognised. It was the language of the angel’s and although I couldn’t speak or read it myself, I had learnt to recognise a few symbols. There had been a depiction of Heaven in the monastery I grew up in, when I had asked my father what the strange symbols stood for he’d told me they described Heaven’s gate and explained it was written in the language of angel’s. I stared at the symbol that was carved into the stone before me, trying to recall if it had been amongst those I’d seen growing up. It wasn’t but it was very similar possibly inverted. I stumbled backwards as everything fell into place in my mind. I hit the ground and the world around me flashed into darkness. The dirt that had once been beneath my feet was briefly made from the same stone the pentagram was carved from. Behind it was a wall, more symbols and runes carved there, words I could not possibly understand. I was in a cave I realised, as I stared around in horror.  As quickly as it had appeared it was gone and I found myself on the ground, bolting backwards. Away from, if you will excuse the pun, the damned gateway to hell.

 

Ryder’s Story: Chapter Seventeen

14 Aug

Chapter seventeen

 

Thanks to the magic ingrained in my skin I had little trouble blending in with the natives. Though my fair complexion and hair set me apart; my ability to speak their language and my knowledge of lore and monsters made me useful to them. There were many monsters inhabiting the New world, which provided me with a means of earning a living but I still had to adapt to my new home. War and death were common place and proved the perfect cover for my kind. It seemed that vampires could flourish here. War prompted a spike in the supernatural population and I spent most of my time educating who ever would listen on how to fight the dangers they did not even realise existed. Now I cannot completely claim credit but somewhere around that time, hunters as today’s world knows them started springing up. Some worked to protect their families, others to protect their town; I met more than my fair share the longer I travelled. Anyone in the trade of hunting monsters knows this was the era when for many hunting became a way of life rather than just a ‘hobby’ and I was there. I stood beside the so called father of modern day hunting, hell, once I even took a bullet for him. For a time he was my closest friend and it was truly fate that caused our paths to cross more than once. Jeremiah was the first West I ever met and after a while I came to hope he’d be the last but fate has a funny way of throwing people together.

 

“Ha, yah, ride!”  As I stood just inside the town I could hear hooves thundering toward me. I had entered Wyoming territory a few weeks back after getting word that this region had a serious vampire problem, the word had been right and business was thriving. Gun fire echoed as hooves pounded the ground, kicking up clouds of red dust.

 

“Stop them!” a man shouted as a group of men on horseback rushed past, the sounds of whooping and laughing following them. The smell of blood filled the air and my jaw ached. I felt my fangs slide into place as the law men rushed after the outlaws. The scent got suddenly stronger and I looked around for the source. A boy stepped out of a side street watching the law men ride away. He laughed quietly to himself.

 

“Works every time,” he said in a deep rough voice as he unhitched a horse that was tied just down from where he was hiding. His hair was light, not quite blonde but not brown either and his hazel eyes shone with cocky arrogance. His blood smelled of fire, I’d never smelt anything like it and I watched him ride out of town unopposed. At the time I hadn’t realised who he was but it wasn’t the only time our paths had crossed. I had seen him and the group of outlaws he roamed with in many towns over the years. The more time passed the more his reputation grew and with it my curiosity.

 

As the years passed vampires became such a problem, that to be accused of being one of the undead, whether it was proven or not, meant death. So finding people to feed from was risky, even with my reputation as a vampire hunter. So I did as most smart vampires would, I used saloon girls and people who would not notice new marks on their skin. Strangely enough it was because of that very choice that the soon to be father of modern day hunting and I came face to face for the first time.

 

“You sure are pretty, ma’am.” I said faking an American accent.  The colonies had taken off and I had learned quickly that they did not appreciate the English, despite the fact that many of them were from, or were descended from the Queen’s country. Well the King’s, at the time.

 

“You are quite the looker yourself, I haven’t seen you ‘round these here parts before, are you a cowboy, or an outlaw?” she sounded quite excited.

 

“No ma’am, I’m a wanderer. I’m always passing through,” I replied, leaning in to kiss her as her eyes lit up. I didn’t feel the need for small talk seeing as I was paying for her services. I would seduce her, feed, then leave. It was what I usually did. I was careful not to hit the same saloon two nights in a row and I rarely stayed in the one town for too long. At the time I was just following up on a lead.

 

I kissed her and she moaned, rather falsely into my mouth. I could tell she did not want to be doing this but her choices were none of my concern. Little did I know, as I thought that, I would soon learn more about this girl than I had ever intended. Despite the fact she was not at all interested in me, I continued anyway. Turning on my vampiric pheromone and preparing myself for what I need to do. If everything went smoothly, I would not cause her any lasting harm and she would live to fake it another day.

 

As I prepared to bite she moaned again, lolled by the pheromone that now filled the room. But as my fangs grazed her skin the door flew open with a bang and I found myself staring down the barrel of a gun.

 

“Get ya hands off me woman stranger!” growled the boy I had seen many a time, to say I was surprised was an understatement. I had been meaning to get the boy alone, find out what he was, but I’d never expected our first meeting to be like this.

 

“Jeremiah! Will you get out of here? I’m working!” snapped the woman, as I stepped back the boy lowered his gun, losing all interest in me.

 

“I’ve told you a million times woman. I will provide for us. You do not need to do this,” he growled and she rolled her eyes.

.

“I was doing this before we met, hell, I was doing this when we met Jerry. Now you burst in here guns blazing, talkin’ about providing for me with yer dirty money. I will be doing the providing for me thank you, just as I always have,” she snapped back

 

“God damn it woman! I have been shot at, chased and nearly arrested today. To make that worse I got on the wrong side of a pack of savages and nearly lost my scalp, only to come back here to find you about to bed another man in a job I told you, you no longer have to do! You talk about my dirty money not being good enough for you, but sweetheart you had no problem accepting it that first night we met,” the woman’s jaw dropped and she slapped him hard. The crack echoed through the room before she stormed out, slamming the door behind her. I could see the red welt forming on his cheek and he turned quickly to follow her. “Oh come on darlin’ don’t be like that.”  I watched them both leave before picking my hat up from the dresser and settling it on my head. As interesting as that had been I was still hungry, it looked like I was going to stay that way tonight.

 

I walked from the saloon toward my horse; I had hitched him behind the saloon away from prying eyes, just in case I had to do the unimaginable. I was rather annoyed that my dinner plans had been cancelled and I knew I had to get out of town before my hunger became ravenous. I had been looking forward to a few hands of cards in the back room this evening. It was invitation only and I’d won a nice pot two nights earlier. A tap on the shoulder surprised me; I hadn’t even heard anyone approach.

 

“Excuse me, sir, I do believe this belongs to you,” I turned only to be face to face with Jeremiah West. The man was taller than me and truth be told he was the dead spit of a man I know now, his great, great, great, great grandson Damien. Or more precisely Damien is the spitting image of him. The first time I met Damien, I’d been taken aback by how much he was like the other West hunter I had known all those years ago. Unfairly it was the reason I came to greatly dislike Damien from the first time we met. Jeremiah was tall, muscle bound and handsome. He was also a reckless, cocky son of a bitch and someone that you did not want to get on the wrong side of. There was a time in my life when Jeremiah was one of the greatest friends I ever had, but sadly it didn’t last and he’d also ended up being one of my greatest enemies. By the end of my relationship with the man, I hated him more than I hated my maker, or myself and even just seeing his likeness nearly three hundred years later still pissed me off.

 

Jeremiah was holding out the money I had given to the saloon girl in his leather clad hand. Duel pistols hung from his belt, his long duster was dirty and had seen better days. Though I owned one, as everyone at the time did, I was never one for guns. Call me old fashioned but I was still partial to swords and bows. Error of my upbringing I guess, but no one walked around with a sword on their back in this day and age. It was a disadvantage not having a  substantial silver weapon handy at all times but I still carried a silver dagger with me, just in case.

 

“Keep it friend, it is only right,” I said, shaking my head at the other man.

 

“No, come on partner, I know Kelly’s by far the prettiest but this could still buy you the good time you were looking for. I am sorry for ruining your evening stranger, but that there was my woman, she does as she pleases while I’m out of town but I’ll be damned if I’ll let her bed another while I’m here.”

 

“It is fine really, call it my way of apologising,” I replied, taken aback by his candour. The other man smiled and gave a small shrug. Seeming to have given up he tucked the money away and held out his hand.

 

“Jeremiah,” I returned his smile and took his hand but I did not get a chance to introduce myself.

 

“Ryder! Ryder Kingston,” both of us looked toward the three vampires standing at the opening to the alley way. Jeremiah drew his guns. Though having a skilled gunman aiming a pistol between your eyes would be enough to give any human pause, the three vampires were unconcerned and simply began to move toward us. Jeremiah reached for my shoulder in an attempt to push me behind him, almost as though he thought me as defenceless as a woman, if it weren’t for the looming threat I may have been insulted. As it was one of the vampires chose that moment to lunge, Jeremiah fired at his chest, the bullets tore through his clothing but simply bounced off his skin doing nothing to slow progress, he cursed, taking aim again.  Knowing his foolishness better than he apparently did, I knocked him out of the way. I could not allow the silly human to be injured whilst trying to protect me. I drew the sliver edged short sword from under my coat. Thanks to a very talented blacksmith it wasn’t nearly as heavy as my pure silver long sword, making it much easier to wield quickly and effectively.  I fell into a fighting stance giving my attacker the chance to reconsider his actions. I knew these men were part of the coven I was hunting but I preferred to fight on my own terms if it could be helped.

 

“We have been waiting for you to show your face” snarled the lead vampire, after his minions had stopped their advance. “It’ll be such an honour to be the one to end the infamous Ryder Kingston. You really have quite the reputation, turning on your……” my blade met his throat, cutting of his speech along with his head, in one clean swing. Nothing annoyed me more than evil monologue, why must the miscreants always prattle on before a battle?

 

“If you have heard so much about me, then you should know better than to confront me” I growled bracing myself as the remaining two vampires attacked. Truthfully neither was much of a challenge, though fighting multiple opponents always held a degree of difficulty; I was used to such situations. Unskilled, fledgling vampires were no match for a skilled knight almost two hundred years their senior. I wiped my blade on the leg of my pants before returning it to its sheath; after all one must care for his weapons.  I turned to Jeremiah, who was watching me with opened mouthed amazement, he was a gun slinger, I had come to realise many of them could not comprehend what real fighting entailed.  “As I was about to say, before we were so rudely interrupted, my name is Ryder Kingston and I am a hunter”

 

I would like to say he handled the situation with grace; that he was as calm and level headed as I’d come to expect from him but that was not the case. He reacted as any sane human should. Jeremiah grew pale; the gun shook in his hands as he stared at the three vampires that were now little more than piles of dust. He mumbled something along the lines of ‘what the hell’ before promptly passing out. Sighing I rubbed my eyes as he toppled to the ground. I looked around to make sure we were alone before bending to pick him up and sling him over the back of my horse. I tucked his gun back into its holster and untied Charlie, who was none too happy about having a second passenger, then rode all night to my safe house.

 

I had a few such properties across this great state, as it turned out being a vampire comes in handy when one was racing for land rights. I won more than my fair share of land that way. Also I do not intend to brag but I was a phenomenal poker player and you would be surprised what people will wager.  It was disconcerting when Jeremiah did not regain consciousness right away. He was out all night and awoke with a start in the early hours of the new day. My safe house was little more than a one room cabin that I used to get away from the hustle of the humans. So I wasn’t surprised when he sprang to his feet searching for his gun. Though shooting at me would produce the same results he saw earlier, it still hurt and was rather inconvenient. Besides, this was a new duster, my profession ensured that I went through many more than average and I would hate to ruin it already by riddling it with bullets holes. I nodded toward the holster now lying on the table across from me without a word. Jeremiah looked around as I kicked a piece of coal that had fallen onto the hearth back into the fire. He watched as I settled into the wooden chair by the fire and strangely enough he relaxed, sitting back down on the small bed, however he was still watching me. I had not expected that reaction, though I’d come to learn Jeremiah never did what I expected of him.

 

“What are you?” he asked, his voice quite. I opened my mouth to lie but he cut me off before I got the chance. “Bullshit son, those things weren’t human, so before you try and tell me you’re a rancher or a cowboy, realise that I remember everything,” I stared at him. I’d never before been called on a lie I was yet to tell.  I steepled my hands in front of my chin, wondering how much it was safe to tell him. Monsters were not as prevalent as they once were, well more like they were much more secretive than they once had been, because the humans had been busy.

 

“Well, now you see….” When I spoke my American accent was firmly in place but he cut me short again.

 

“You can drop the act partner; I know you’re from the motherland. You dropped your accent when you were talking to those things, people reveal their true selves in the heat of battle. So I want the truth, and trust me I’ll know if you’re lying,” I dropped my hands and sat forward.

 

“You are correct, on all accounts. I am neither a rancher, nor a cowboy and I was not born on this soil. You were also right to say that those men were not human, because they were in fact vampires. As for me I am a bounty hunter of sorts,”

 

“A hunter?”

 

“Of sorts” I agreed.

 

“And you hunt vampires?”

 

“And other supernatural creatures,” I added and he nodded slowly.

 

“And how’s the pay?”

“It’s been better, but someone has to do it,”  he nodded again he remained quiet for a while, looking down at his hands.

 

“Well I don’t envy you friend, knowing things like that exists makes the world a whole lot scarier. Any advice, I don’t expect to run in to many more of those vampires, but just in case I do?” he asked, I thought about that for a second, there was no good advice, if a vampire wanted you dead you were as good as in the grave. I knew that when I was human but something told me that no matter what Jeremiah wasn’t going to accept that answer.

 

“Silver, something sharp preferably, because it won’t do any real harm to them unless it gets inside. Silver is your best bet for most things. Iron can also be good, easier to get a hold of but it’s more specialised, only works on some creatures. Oh and pray to god that he forgives your sins because chances are the two of you will be meeting real soon,”  I replied it was the best I could do to sugar coat the truth, because really there was no way to pass hunting off as just another everyday job.

 

“So it’s all a bit complicated then, has like each monster got a special way to kill it?”

 

“Yes, there are general rules of course, decapitation seems to work pretty well on most things, destroying things like the heart or brain is also good if you really do not know what it is you are facing. There is a lot to remember and it is more often than not nowhere near as simple as it is to kill vampires, though they are among the most dangerous monsters you can face they are one of the simplest to kill.” He nodded slowly.

 

“Have you ever considered writing this down, seems like that would be an easier way to share information with people.” He asked and I shrugged. It wasn’t a bad idea; even I had referred to the books my father had given me from time to time before I’d met Evangeline. I usually only taught people what they needed to know to deal with the specific problem they were facing but having more people out there doing what I did could be helpful.

 

“There are books out there; old but useful if you know where to look,”

 

“No, I was thinking like a journal. Folks like you could write what they come across and how they handled it, what worked and what didn’t. That ways if you ever crossed paths with another one of your own, you could swap notes and stories. Seems like it’d keep more people alive,” I nodded in agreement, it wasn’t that I hadn’t thought of that before, but on the one hand even though I did know how to write I wasn’t great at it and figured it would hinder more than help. Dashiell had always been the smarter one growing up. He could read better and his hand writing was like a scribe’s, he was good at the book work, I was just good at killing things and even almost two hundred years later it was still pretty much the only thing I excelled at. Though I had no desire to follow his suggestion, I could tell that Jeremiah was a very intelligent man and if fate had been kinder to him I have no doubt his would be a name the world remembered.

 

We talked for a while longer mainly because he truly seemed interested in what I did for a living, either that or he was humouring me because he thought he owed me a debt. Before long I was showing him the door and pointing him in the direction of town. I motioned to my horse with a sad smile, if there was one thing I had learnt in my already long life, it was that I was not destined to keep a horse, I always managed to lose them somehow and even though I truly didn’t need one, the companionship was appreciated and not even a vampire wanted to walk across America on foot. I untied him and gave his neck a small pat before I handed over the reins. It was no easy task to find a beast that did not bolt in terror at the sight of me, most animals were not partial to vampires and I had become quite fond of this one. He was often my only friend and did not judge me by my actions, provided he received his ration of grain every night.

 

“His name is Charlie,” my voice betraying more emotion than I’d intended. “He is fast, loyal and a good animal. You need him more than I do so I want you to take him,” I said knowing there was no way Jeremiah could make the trek back into town on foot. At the time I had no idea if I would ever see Jeremiah again but it had to be done.  “You know where to find me if the need should arise. Whatever you do take care of my damned horse, because know that if you don’t, I have killed men for less,”