Wren sauntered down the street, cursing as she nursed the cut on her arm. It had been a week since Nathaniel had shown up at the inn and they had made the deal, and there was still no sign of the vampire. The bounty huntress was not a woman who liked to wait on other people. So while she awaited news of the Vampire Prince, she continued her pursuit of the many vampires in the town. She had just finished a particularly nasty job at a rickety abandoned church on the other side of the town. The vampire had managed to slice her arm up badly before she finished him off by impaling him with a stake.
Ignoring the catcalls from the drunken men on the street, she entered the inn she was staying at. As soon as she entered, a round of laughter met her ears and the pungent smell of alcohol made her nostrils burn. The inn was both a place to stay and a pub, so there was always men in the bar, drinking up to all hours of the night. Most of these men were bounty hunters, who were narrow-minded about the idea of women being bounty huntresses.
As soon as she stepped into the pub, all eyes turned to her and the laughter stopped. Wren frowned. They had been talking about her, most likely discussing how she should be at home, looking for a husband, doing things like cooking and laundry, instead of chasing after vampires and driving stakes into them like pincushions.
She walked past the tables of men, ignoring their piercing stares and whispered remarks. Once she trudged up the back stairs towards her room, the laughter started up again. They were probably mocking how she had been cut, probably saying something like 'women shouldn't become bounty hunters because they'll get themselves hurt; they're so useless.'
Slamming the door to her room shut behind her, she mumbled, "I don't see why they laugh. Women are just as skilled as men. Almost everybody can kill a vampire nowadays."
Once her arm was bandaged, she peeked into Anthony's room. Wren had forced him to stay at the inn that night, considering how his fainting spells were rapidly getting worse. Her brother that had been so frustrated when she tied him to the chair in his room, reprimanding him about how he would just be dead weight to her if he fainted. Part of the reason why she had been injured was because she had been drowned in her worry that he'd find a way to escape from his constrains.
And he had managed to escape his binds, with the help of a certain innkeeper's daughter. But instead of running out to go after vampires, Anthony had chosen to stay at the inn to engage in a completely different activity. Smiling at the sleeping two in the bed, Wren silently closed the door and headed into her bathroom.
It had been pretty windy in the last couple of nights. The window had been blown open in the strong air current. Wren stuck her head out the window and smiled. The clove of garlic she had hung by the window was still there. Shutting the window, making sure the latch closed firmly, she stripped off the leather gloves she wore.
Unexpectedly, a crashing sound made Wren whip around in terror. A rock landed near her feet. Someone had thrown it through the window.
There was a parchment tied to the rock. With trembling hands, Wren picked up the rock and tore the paper away from it, reading it thoroughly before growling and chucking it back out the window.
A loud, pained grunt told her she had hit her target.
'Take the damn garlic down, you stupid Bounty Huntress.' was all that Nathaniel had written on the parchment. Obviously his little jibe had not gone well with the huntress.
But really, why did she have to complain so much about it?
"You could've called out to me. No sense in breaking my window." Wren pouted behind the door to the bathroom. Nathaniel leaned on the door separating him from the bounty huntress. As soon as she had taken down the garlic and hid it in her bag of anti-vampire necessities, he had climbed in through the window, and had been immediately hit on the head, then thrown into her bedroom. "And the next time you call me stupid will be the last. I won't take mercy on you."
"It got your attention, didn't it?" Nathaniel sighed, picking up a knapsack on a table. When he saw its contents, he quickly dropped it. "And I was angry. You weren't in the inn when I showed up, and your brother was busy with his little mistress, so I got bored. And I get angry when I've been doing nothing but sitting, waiting for you to get back from wherever you were. I could've been doing something much more important."
"Like getting a couple of bites before sunrise?" Wren stepped out of the bathroom, wearing a clean, non-blood-stained pair of pants and a green tunic. She picked a brown shawl out of the bureau and shrugged it on. "I think there are enough bloodsuckers in this town to do that."
"Luckily for you, I've already had my fill for the night." Nat said nonchalantly. He clapped his hands together, and said, "I've come with news."
"Obviously." Wren scoffed, rolling her eyes. Nat ignored her comment and continued.
"I know something." He stopped, looking at Wren expectantly. He clapped his hands together, waiting for her predictable outburst of frustration at his eager attempt to build suspense.
Instead, she just stared at him with one raised eyebrow and muttered, "I think you just proved which one here is the stupider one."
He almost fell over in shock. Where the outburst? Where was the frustration? She was supposed to be mad at him for building suspense when she wanted to just know the answers. She was supposed to use that fiery temper to try and throttle the answers out of him.
Scratching the side of her head, Wren frowned and looked towards the door leading to her brother's room. "Maybe I should wake up Anthony. I'm sure he'd want to know also."
Nat let out a small hiss. He did not like Anthony. Anthony was bad. He was vicious, malicious, and not to mention scary to any vampire that crossed his path. Well, those were the rumors. Nat really didn't want to get to know him to find out if they were true.
Hey, there was no rule saying that a Vampire Prince had to be suave all the time.
But still, Nat didn't want to speak to Anthony. Anthony wasn't the person he'd be biting into if this little 'quest' failed.
Several minutes later, Anthony was dressed and pacing in the middle of Wren's room. Suddenly, he shot around and snapped at Nat, "Well? What have you come to tell us?"
Nathaniel sighed, slumping down in a chair. Wren eyed the chair wearily, as though it would break from the pressure of Nat's evilness. "Well, for the last week, I've been visiting places, searching for a passage towards the Vaman's abode."
"I thought you knew the way there." Anthony's tone of voice wasn't too friendly. In fact, it was downright venomous. Then again, Anthony was a dying man. He wasn't about to give up his life because some Vampire Prince lied to him.
"You see, I never actually told you I knew how to get there." Nat sighed, placing his hand on his head. "I just know where it is. Getting there is a whole other story. But," Nathaniel held up his finger, pausing a second to let what he said sink in. "I've asked around, did some snooping, and I've already determined the pathway we shall take. Of course, I only know how to get half way to the Vaman's abode. After we pass the half way mark, then I'll do more snooping, and we'll continue from there."
Anthony and his sister let the information sink in again. Quietly, Wren asked, "How long will it take to get to the half way mark?"
"If we leave right now, I'd say about a week. If we leave tomorrow, maybe a week and a half. If we take longer than that, who knows?"
Both the hunter and huntress nodded. Anthony verbally announced their silent agreement. "We'll leave now. Start packing," he told his sister. Wren sighed and walked over to her bureau. Nathaniel watched her before turning back to Anthony, who had not moved from where he stood. They stared at each other, each one sizing the other up. The bounty hunter grimaced before saying, "Don't move, Vampire. If you put one hand on my sister, I'll kill you."
Nathaniel gave a small, evil smirk while Wren rolled her eyes. Winking at Wren, Nat told the other man, "I wouldn't dream of it."
I don't trust him at all. Anthony thought as he headed back to his room. Still with a scowl plastered to his face, he packed up what little clothes he had and all his anti-vampire gear. Once he was all packed up, he sat down on the bed as he pulled his leather boots onto his feet. Moments later as he was fastening the buckles, a small white hand gripped his forearm. He turned to face the innkeeper's daughter, who was rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Smiling serenely, Anthony whispered, "I'm sorry for waking you."
Ambrosia ignored his apology and instead stared with a melancholy expression at his bags. She turned to face him with gray eyes that pierced into his heart. "You're leaving, right?"
His smile faltered as he turned away so he wouldn't have to look at her. "Wren and I have to find the Vaman. He's the only chance I have at not becoming a vampire."
"And the only chance you have at not marrying her." Ambrosia spat out. For someone who always seemed so shy, the innkeeper's daughter was actually really resentful when it came to Natasha.
"So then I'll get to marry you instead." Anthony's smile was back, this time much wider, causing the woman to blush. He cupped her chin in his hand and kissed her softly, slowly. When he parted, he whispered in a teasing manner, "Just don't fall in love with some other bounty hunter while I'm gone, all right?"
The woman nodded, cupping his face in her own hand before kissing him. She tapped his nose when they were done, telling him, "Just don't get into too much trouble. I know how you bounty hunters are. You had better get back in one piece."
Anthony nodded before getting up and grabbing his bags. His hand was on the doorknob to his sister's room as he said to Ambrosia, "I'll be back in a couple of weeks. You can be sure of that."
"Do you really think you'll need all that artillery? We won't be gone that long." Nathaniel stated as he watched Wren check her knapsack for garlic cloves.
Nastily, the bounty huntress jabbed a stake in his direction, her only little way of telling him to back off. She didn't like how he kept sneaking up behind her like he did. One second he'd be on the other side of the room and the next, he'd be right at her side, complaining about how women always took too long to pack.
There was something about Nathaniel that Wren just didn't like. For some reason, it was like she always forgot to have her guard up around him. And Wren never forgot to put up her guard around vampires. It puzzled her.
She threw the stake back into her knapsack before closing it up. "If I'm going to be traveling with you for a week, then I haven't got enough artillery."
Nat came up behind her again, making Wren flinch. How did he do that without her noticing?
Silently, he let his hand snake down her arm until he let it rest over her petite, callused hand. He let his other hand wind it's way to her neck, letting it stroke the smooth flesh. Wren froze at his cold touch, but she did nothing to stop him as he pressed his freezing lips against her neck, muttering, "When you insult me like that, it only makes me want you more."
The doorknob to Anthony's room was turning. Suddenly, Nat's hands left Wren and he was on the other side of the room again. The skin he had touched started to burn from the coldness of his hands. When her brother stalked into the room, the bounty huntress left out a hoarse breath. She hadn't realized she was holding her breath.
"Are you ready?" Anthony asked, startling her.
Nathaniel nodded. "I'll meet you two outside." And with that said, he disappeared out the window.
Wren busied herself with picking up her knapsack. When she looked up, Anthony was staring at her with a concerned expression on his face. He reached out to look at her face clearly, then asked, "Are you okay? You look flushed. I hope you're not sick."
She shrugged away, snapping a little too quickly, "I'm just fine!"
Anthony stared after his sister as she left the room. Clearly, she wasn't fine.
Natasha Streing tapped her fingers impatiently on the armrest of her chair. She leaned forward as the vampire in front of her told her his news. Then, leaning back once he was finished, she clicked her fingers together. The vampire burst into flames.
To the Vampire Princess's right, her faithful slave Arcane winced at the sudden brightness from the fire. To her left, Count Bartemi smiled evilly so that the flames reflected off his white fangs.
"Why should I care if I have a traitor in my army? Can't my Generals ever report something a little more interesting?" Natasha yawned. "There are several traitors a day, and they're always killed once they're found among the troops. There's got to be something worth telling nowadays."
Arcane looked forward without a glance to his princess as he announced, "Next is General Stayk from the town in the west where the bounty hunters reside. Do you wish to hear what he has to say, Natasha?"
"All he'll tell me is about how many bounty hunters were killed in the past week. Send him away." Yawning once again, Natasha rose from her chair. She tapped Arcane's shoulder. "I'm bored. Tell the rest of the Generals that I am unreachable until tomorrow. Then bring me something to eat. Preferably a human."
Arcane grimaced, but before he could accept her command, Count Bartemi spoke up. "Your Highness, with all do respect, I heard earlier that General Stayk's report had vital information for you. We shouldn't let it go to waste."
"Don't waste time, Bartemi. What kind of information?" the Vampire Princess sighed, holding her nails in front of her for inspection.
"Information…about your brother." Natasha's eyes widened and she sat back down in her seat. With a wave of her pale hand, she ordered to Arcane to let the General in.
General Stayk was kneeling in front of her not a minute after. After giving a low bow, he stood erect and announced, "Your Highness, just a week ago I saw His Highness Nathaniel in the town of bounty hunters."
"Now why would he go there? It's complete suicide for any vampire to go into a town of bounty hunters." Natasha scoffed.
Arcane quietly answered, "As a matter of fact, Natasha, the town of bounty hunters is well-known to vampires for its secret vampiric pubs."
"Exactly." General Stayk nodded. He turned to the Vampire Princess. "Nathaniel was spotted inside a pub, where he got into a fight with a couple of bounty hunters. Then from there, Nathaniel preceded to follow the hunters to one of the local inns. What went on inside is a complete mystery." Natasha tapped her fingers again, this time not out complete boredom and impatience but of complete interest. What had her brother been doing with bounty hunters? General Stayk continued. "Then, Nathaniel was seen by another vampire, one of your followers, Your Highness, going into the exact same inn. Only this time, he left with both bounty hunters in tow."
Before Natasha could send him away, General Stayk added, "It has become clear to me that the bounty hunter and huntress your brother left with are indeed Anthony and Wren Blood."
Natasha sat up quickly, starling Arcane and Count Bartemi. "Anthony, you say?"
The General nodded and left. Natasha screamed out in frustration, grabbing hold of Arcane's left arm and squeezing it harshly so that her nails dug deep into his skin. Arcane did not seem bothered by her cruel behavior, used to Natasha's harsh treatment of him. She scratched his arm, screaming, "This can't be happening! If Nathaniel found Anthony, then he's clearly been bribed into showing Anthony the way to the Vaman. This can't be happening!"
Well, obviously this is happening, Arcane wanted to say but kept his mouth shut. If he said anything sarcastic when she was in this state, he'd obviously be burned alive, too.
"If Anthony is being shown the way to the Vaman, then you must stop him." Count Bartemi interrupted Natasha's screaming abruptly. She whipped around to face him, an evil smirk growing on her face. Arcane shot a nasty look at the Count. He didn't like how the older man always made Natasha get those scary, evil looks on her face. The slave preferred it when Natasha wasn't looking evil, which wasn't quite often. But when you were always by her side like Arcane was, then it was pretty easy to see her when she actually looked happy.
"As always, you're right, Bartemi." She reached up to squeeze his cheek, then clapped her hands together as she ordered, "Bartemi, arrange for several troops to attack my brother before they can get to the Vaman's abode. Take any measures necessary. Just don't hurt Anthony."
The slave practically rolled his eyes as Natasha's face changed from pure evil to a daydreaming in about a second. She always got like this whenever someone mentioned Anthony. She was probably daydreaming about the day she married him after the curse was complete.
Arcane had never understood the way Natasha fancied the bounty hunter. When he and his sister first arrived to kill Natasha, Anthony had seemed to hate her guts. Of course, she practically fell head over heels in love with him at first site. Which was why she cursed him, even though he had tried to kill her, and was only five years older than her.
The slave thought it was stupid, how she had come to think it was her time to get married. She was only fourteen, for crying out loud, but Natasha had once claimed to Arcane that if she wanted to successfully rule every vampire, she needed to have a strong king at her side. Arcane had scoffed at that. Just because she wanted to rule the vampires, didn't mean that she had to get married to a nineteen-year-old when she was only fourteen. If anyone should be getting married, it should be that darn older brother of hers, Nathaniel, who was seventeen, just the right age for marriage.
Natasha should be falling in love with someone else, preferably someone near her own age. Arcane was turning fifteen in another three months. He was just the right age. Not that he would like to marry the girl who made him wake up at four in the morning just to get her someone to eat.
"Arcane!" Natasha clapped her hands in front of her slave's face. Arcane was snapped out of his thoughts as he peered down at the girl. She was smiling, most likely happy from her daydreams of her marriage to Anthony. But still, she was smiling, and that was a lot better than the evil face she had pulled not a while ago. She held her hand behind her back and said sweetly, "Let's go hunting. I bet you're hungry. I know I'm hungry. I'm sorry I refused to let you eat yesterday. There's a cattle farm not long from here. Let's go."
She held out a hand. Letting a small smile grace his pale features, Arcane took her hand. Then again, who wouldn't want to marry her when she was having one of her sweet moments?
The small trio had set out only two hours before dawn. Needless to say, they didn't get very far before Nathaniel declared they had to stop. Luckily, the vampire had carefully planned for them to stop near an abandoned church (there were a lot of unused churches once the bounty hunters forced the regular inhabitants of the land to find somewhere else to live so they could use the land as a place for bounty hunters to set up shop). Once they reached the gothic church, Nathaniel flew up to the bell tower. Turning into a small brown bat, he latched onto a dark corner where he was hidden in the shadows. He would've liked to stay inside, in case there was the irregular storm or fierce winds, but a church was still a church, even after it was abandoned.
Anthony let out a small breath and offered to take Wren's things inside the church for her. She handed over her knapsack after taking out a small blanket that she wrapped around her shoulders. As her brother left her to guard the abandoned church (even if there weren't any vampires during the day, there was always the random suspicious man during the day), Wren sat down on one of the steps and took in her surroundings.
The church was surrounded by trees, which wasn't good. Trees are never good. There could always be someone hiding in the branches, or someone lurking around the trunks. Some vampires even managed to blend in with the slight shadows the trees made.
The dirt path they had walked along was almost untouched. Not a lot of people traveled in that part of the country anymore since the bounty hunters took over. Vampires preferred flying to walking, so that way their trails were harder to trace. And any footprints caused by the random suspicious man were hidden underneath windblown dirt.
A cold wind blew past and Wren shivered. She never did like the cold. Not since she was ten when she was locked in the cold basement. The bounty huntress shivered again at the dark memory.
"Cold night, isn't it?" A soft voice asked aloud.
Wren sat up, turning around sharply. Startled, she took several steps back before demanding, "Who the hell are you?"
Standing off to the side of the gothic church was a young man. He did not make any move to step forward, but Wren could see he was tall with dark hair and wearing a common human outfit. He looked like the average everyday man. But he was pale. Almost a vampire-like pale.
The bounty huntress knew there was a stake in her boot. If she reached quickly enough, she could probably grab it and stab him with it. But first, she'd have to verify that he was indeed a vampire.
"Just a passerby. I'm completely harmless. There's no need for you to stab me, Bounty Huntress." The man answered in a calm, masculine voice.
"How'd you know I'm a bounty huntress? Have you been following us?" Wren grabbed the stake from her boot and held it out threateningly. "Now tell me. Who the hell are you?"
He only smiled and turned away. "Save your stake, Huntress. You'll be needing it soon." He held up a hand in asolemn goodbye. "Don't worry. You'll be seeing me again."
He disappeared into the shadows, a trait not unlike Nat's uncanny way of leaving. Wren frowned. That man reminded her a little too much of the Vampire Prince. A little too much.
If she saw him again, the stake in her hand was going right through his heart.
Whether he was vampire of not didn't matter.
Awesomeness! Another chapter finished! I feel so accomplished! So accomplished in fact that I am eating my Pocky in utter happiness. I LUV POCKY!!!! yum yum!
Yeah, so I've thought of some good ideas for this story now and I'm suddenly all for writing this. I'm totally serious about this story now. I luv it so much! Yay!!!!
Anyways, thanks for the reviews:
CrimsonEmerald: My first reviewer! Thanks so much. Your review made me really happy. I'm glad this story shows some promise. I hope you liked this chapter!
Nin Fortuna: Wow! That's such a compliment you gave me. Thanks! I hope you think this chapter was as good as the first two. By the way, I recently uploaded chapter 10 of Great Minds.
Lady Katreina: Thanks for the review!