December 23 at 12:00 AM
Photo by Vera Kratochvil
Into the desert she fled, her army shattered, her wound deep. The surviving remnants scattered across the plains, persisting until they reached the shore.
The vampire queen lost more than an arm that day. Her inexperience proved disastrous, and her imprudence, legendary.
Carmella could not stomach watching legion after legion cut down before her. Heads and limbs rained down, a stern rebuke.
But how could this be? An army of mortals stood before her, yet they fought like demons. The more she sent in, the more pieces pelted her shield. She knew if she encircled the kingdom and starved them out, they would slowly come to their knees.
However, such inaction did not become a legend, and she intended to make a name for herself that day, whatever the cost.
In the company of her most notorious legion, she thundered towards the castle. The Abyssents were betrothed to no one, and delighted in the incoming blood tide. They scaled the walls with ease, seizing the courtyard, and surrounding the keep. Surely the mortals had little to offer; they had done well to hold out this long.
But the Carmella of Sidon would not claim victory that day.
The stone walls bled over, and disintegrated into a red cloud. All underneath met their end, flesh licked from bone by the crimson winds. The whirlwind did not spare the righteous or depraved. Carmella was quick to hack it from her as it bit into her hand, and fled Red Wind before it claimed more.
Ensuring no one would claim victory that day, the mortals built a weapon from their flesh. Although the queen of Sidon endured the torrent, she was soundly defeated, and would not command an army again.
Lawson walked into a wall as the last words resonated through him. He adjusted his glasses, and then continued reading.
"I hope it pleases you," said Laurent.
"Very much." Lawson turned the page.
"Your accommodations, sir."
"Right." Lawson looked up.
The four posts of the extended king bed shot past the chandelier; its warm hues and matching hardwood echoed across the room's mirrors. The dresser curved like a woman, cherrywood and brass polish. Gold thread adorned the sheets and cloth furniture, sparkling in the candlelight.
Although breathtaking, it proved an odd match for the vampire hunter.
"I am sorry, but I cannot stay here," said Lawson. "I cannot afford to be mired in such opulence. I am a hunter; my ear belongs to the ground."
"Then where will you stay?" Laurent asked.
"The old chapel. It is easier to defend, which will extend my rest accordingly. I must go." Lawson turned.
"Then so will I." Laurent followed.