Now available at Amazon.com and as a #kindleunlimited selection.
Now available at Amazon.com and as a #kindleunlimited selection.
The call to battle finally stole the last of his humanity. Her wings torn asunder around her bloody and lifeless body as he held her in his arms, unable to let her go. He stared at the sky as her body grew colder and colder, becoming stiff with the claim of the underlord. Her soul seemed to have already departed.
“You don’t need to lose her forever.”
He whipped around in the direction of the voice even as he cradled her body tighter to his chest.
“You can follow her and share eternity. If you agree to serve in my court and follow my will. Or let her go and live on as a shell, half a man, in a world that does not treasure your kind. As I would in my world.”
“Traitor to my kind. There would be nothing left for either of us. No place safe.”
“Not if you follow my orders. Not if you give me your loyalty. We are not so terrible as your overlord tells you. Different perhaps, but not the vile people he wants you to believe. We care well for our own. How much is her life worth to you?”
The king held out a hand. “Come, give your soul into my keeping, and you will see.”
He stared down at her. She was his life. He would not live without her. He did not want to.
“Her soul is safe?”
“For as long as you remain loyal to me. She will be safe in my realm. As will you. You have but a short time to make your choice.”
“On my terms. There is no negotiation. You will serve me and she will live. Would you really expect terms to be offered for a life so precious to you?”
He nodded. He could already feel his strength ebbing. No one knew of a pair – where one survived if the other died.He could already feel his life fading like a shriveled flower that has lost the sun.
The king reached down to cup his jaw, tilting his head back, to look into his startlingly obsidian eyes.
“Look at me,” the king said. “Focus only on me and you shall have your wish, for her to live once again.” And then he felt the roaring pain inside his chest as the king took possession of his soul.
He screamed in agony.Then felt himself being yanked from the life he’d always known. Spinning in darkness, reeling and reeling until he lost consciousness, falling into the darkness.
* * *
“Hey. Wake up.”
His eyes shot open and he started into her beloved gaze. She was alive and his joy couldn’t be contained. The king had kept his promise. The second thing he realized was that neither of them possessed wings and a moment of panic churned his stomach.
“I think you need a drink,” she said, then turned away. Tattooed into her bare back was a set of wings. And then he recalled the bargain he’d made. Now he knew exactly where he was and the price he had paid for her life.
But when she spun back to him, he realized exactly how high that price had been. The lack of recognition, a polite curiosity in her eyes. She had no idea who he was.
“You asked for her life, not her memory,” a voice from behind him said. “I’ve granted you exactly what you sought.”
He should have known. His soul was gone, and the heart he had left was shattered. He looked at her again, but she was staring beyond him, a look of total adoration in her eyes. An adoration that had once belong to him. His bargain with darkness had cost him dearly.
A full moon. Bats in the sky. A Carriage and two horses – 1 gray, 1 black. A driver with a whip.
I’m thinking stage coach. Traveling hell for leather. Who is chasing them? Man? Animal? Supernatural being?
In the carriage is evil – a villain – he has someone with him. The journalist? So, is the villain a railroad agent? Are they heading to or away from the train? Does the story have to do with migrant workers – the Chinese? The Irish? Is a man or a family or a town in jeopardy?
What we don’t see is the Dark-Moon Rider shadowing the coach. He scents the evil and his lover. Vengeance burns in his eyes. He has no choice, he is driven to pursue the conveyance. His target is in that coach and his lover is unaware of the danger. Sweet boy must be saved from himself and Rider can do no other than see to his protection. And destroy the evil within. This is his purpose.
The night is clear. The time of year is November. It’s a cold night.
The carriage comes to a halt, the Dark-Moon Rider sits in judgment upon the railroad agent. We learn why – what his guilt is. The journalist tries to stop the vengeance, but Dark-Moon Rider will see it done. It’s his job and he sees to it swiftly.
The journalist’s life is in jeopardy as the agent puts a gun to his head trying to save his own worthless life. It doesn’t stop Dark-Moon Rider and justice is meted out, the journalist saved.
The man is buried in loose earth. Snakes slither toward the grave and descend beneath the earth. The driver’s mind is wiped clean and he’s sent on his way. Justice will come for him in its own time. The money in the coach will be delivered to the orphans and widows.
Back at the journalist’s rooms above the newspaper, it is almost dawn, but he and the Dark-Moon Rider speak of what has occurred.
In the old west good and bad are not so sharply discernible. In war it’s even harder. The journalist is conscience-stricken. Murder does not rest easily upon his mind.
But dawn is closing in and soon his Dark-Moon Rider must leave. They make love. And then he’s gone. Leaving the journalist sated, but with questions.
The next day the journalist hears word of the disappearance of the railroad agent. And that the driver with no memory has been taken into custody. He has a black reputation. But still, the journalist feels some guilt. [He feels the guilt because the Black-Moon Rider can’t.]
[Note: the journalist is Black-Moon Rider’s conscience – his own remorse spills into the journalist, for he himself cannot feel. His desire for the journalist in a physical way is an anomaly. The sex with him is a form of purging his guilt, a cleansing ritual that must be maintained. The journalist keeps him rooted and anchored. But the journalist doesn’t realize this.]
He writes his story, the lamp burns brightly. He senses a familiar dark presence. He says simply. “Come in.”
The Dark-Moon Rider comes in.
“What vengeance tonight, Rider? What blood will you let in the name of justice?”
The journalist turns and meets the dark hungry gaze – like a wolf – of the Rider. He can’t deny him. He feels the undeniable, desperate need. The journalist blows out the lamp. The moon shines in through the window, but Rider is a ghostly presence, a shadow without definition as he moves toward the journalist and they merge as one.
Any other consideration is soon lost as the journalist entwines himself into his Dark lover’s embrace.
Outside, the owl screams. Soars downward, snatches up a mouse, soon to become his dinner. Even as the Dark Rider picks up the journalist and carries him up the stairs.
A full moon. Black birds or bats in the air. A statue (Roman) with a missing arm. A young male vampire recently fed, blood dripping from his mouth down upon his chest. A human skull, blood-spattered.
The eyes of the vampire are white. He’s on the hunt for another kill.
Does he look to his master or mistress for approval or for orders as to what comes next?
Who does the skull belong to? A friend? A foe? Someone he once loved? Would he have vengeance upon his maker if that were possible? Whose blood has he taken? Friend, foe, stranger?
What is next? Is he one of the thirteen? By the look of his clothes too new to be the master.
He’s one of the younger ones. He has no choice but to follow. He has no choice but to do his bidding.
He is a wily master and allows the boy to glut himself on blood. This is how he shall bind him. To give the boy just enough, and then to exact payment – to make him his slave.
His will power is gone. He belongs to him now. There’s no going back once one is immortal. Once one is dead.
A Roman guard standing sentry. Bandaged shoulder, seeping blood. He hears something. I see a sense of wariness on his face. He grips the spear. Nostrils flare as he seeks a scent from the night. Human scent or animal?
It is dark, torchlight burns. No real sense of time of year. Soot on his arms and legs. The city has been burned. Who goes there? Man or woman? Or something else that the night has spawned?
Who has been angered by the attack on the city? What has been unleashed? Who has the soldier killed with his sharp, pointy spear?
Foot soldier, not of rank. He will die.
Wolf or vampire who waits in the darkness? Or some other creature of the night? Will it attack? A sense of female, of great power. Angry, teeth, snarling, snapping. The scent of burning flesh searing its nostrils.
Conquerors will die, one by one. She will be captured by a Roman general, chained and taunted. It has happened before, it will happen again.
As he is set upon destruction, so is she. She has bitten and thus he will be changed. A remote city in the mountains of Italy. She will take him as her mate. For a time. They never last.
He’s always been conflicted about his duty. She is a queen of her kind. Her mate has been killed and now she will take another. She will take him. The others of her kind need their queen strong and fruitful. She is distracted without a mate. He will take the place of her dead mate, the smell of his slaughter still permeating the night.
She is of the old ways. An original pack of Rome, who is she today? Her mates always die, leaving her alone. Thus, it is the fate of a queen of her kind. To mate is her duty, to kill is her legacy.
It was not an awakening from sleep in the truest sense. It was more an…awareness, where before there was voidness. It was not an emergence from dreams, it was pain that thrust him back into the world. He did not breathe, his heart did not beat. And yet he was aware. That was the word. He did not smell in the sense of humans, the scents being more visually represented inside his brain. His skin was indestructible because of his origins. His heart had once beat as human. His bones, those belonging to a beloved dead man. When he walked he felt them slide together. He was one of many. Skeletal remains pieced together inside bronze, a beating heart the final piece to an intricate puzzle.
“The first is aware,” the sculptor said. “His flesh is supple.”
“You’ve done good work,” the boy heard a voice say. The sound of the voice materialized inside his head. A gigantic man, bearded, hairy, muscular. The boy was aware of the man as not a stranger. Someone familiar. But the boy had no memories of names.
His eyes focused and stiffly he stepped forward as though he had not used his limbs in a very long time. The bones inside him rubbed together, almost like flint to stone to wood, something inside him sparked and a warm shower of sparks shot through him. He gasped as the heart inside his chest thundered powerfully, and seemed to expand. He went breathless, for a moment.
“It’s all right,” a soothing voice said. The sound formed inside the boy’s head. A shape of gentle, hands sensitive, smooth pale human flesh. Lightly bearded, long dark hair. The boy’s heart sped faster. Liquid seemed to gush inside him, the sparks of bone rub diminished. Something warm spread across the boy’s bronze flesh. The boy turned toward the sound of the warm voice, already knowing the measure of the man.
“Father,” he said. “Creator.”
A gleam entered the sculptor’s eyes. “He is aware of me.”
“I have known you, father, from the moment this heart connected me to life. I felt your work upon my husk. You polished me, your hands upon my shell. You oiled me, you fashioned the whole of me. Your hands are callused, I felt you. They are knowledgeable hands.” He cocked his head. “What do you call me, creator?”
“The first,” responded his father creator. “You shall be known as Tyro.”
And thus that was the word stamped onto the boy’s forearm, an indelible mark of his beginnings.
The first of his kind.
Let me speak to you of the man. Oh, yes, the man, and the feelings I did not understand.
I speak of love — a love that has locked me here within these insane walls. A love that kills, a love that suffocates every other thought and desire. A love that maddens the mind, seeping slowly to flood the heart, the soul. A love that will see no end. A love that will haunt me unto my very last breath surrenders. following me into the hellfires of eternity where I vow not to walk alone.
It was upon a night — a dark and stormy night, daunting, taunting, endless abyss into which he came to me, golden like an angel, regal and bright with his mane of brilliant, gilded hair and demanding eyes of clear, cold January skies.
I loved him at first sight. I loved him through the darkness, through the endless tortured night…