Haunter and I turned to Creep simultaneously. The air was definitely cracking loudly with the powerful presence of vampires. I felt that when I met Natassa and the Dark Empress a little while ago. However, those weren’t their powers or presence right now. They were different and I certainly never faced them before.
“Where’s Ji-Yun?” Creep asked.
“Where’s Crina?” I inquired at the same time.
“Not here!” we said in unison. What an idiotic answer to our questions.
Haunter rolled his eyes and held my hand tightly. “Come on. Let’s go and find out!”
I let him hold me while we quickened our steps to go outside. We didn’t want the humans to be involved in whatsoever it was waiting for us outside. However, we were yet in the hallway when three powerful vampires stormed at us.
Haunter pushed me aside to not be hit while he ducked to avoid the incoming flying kick. The walls were ruined because of the fight. It was quite a balanced ratio, which was three on three, at least. And yet, I noticed that we were fighting against Medjays.
Creep read my mind. Nonetheless, I couldn’t tell if he minded it as I did. My head was already reeling with questions and confusion. Was this the Dark Empress’ idea of protecting me?
I ducked as my opponent was delivering a roundhouse kick. I twisted my body, leaning downward to use a back kick aiming at his mouth. It was a hundred percent hit, which sent him flying back toward the end of the hallway. He crashed in a heap. Haunter and Creep were still being kept busy by their respective opponents. I followed my opponent to deliver a finishing blow but he was quick to dodge it that my kick ended up damaging the concrete wall. I flipped backward and delivered a double axe kick, which hit on the second. He kneeled on the floor, disoriented. I finished him with a slash on the throat with my ring. His blood oozed that made him slump onto the floor, dead and turned to ashes.
I stared for a couple of seconds before I looked at what happened to my familiar and boyfriend. They were doing just fine. They, too, killed their opponents. We went downstairs and there we fought another set of Medjays that we also beat down, meaning that we killed them as well. And another wave after that.
We had to do that or we’d be the ones who’d be finished by them. Medjays were like programmed soldiers once ordered by their masters. The same applied for ninjas, because of the spell cast on them, I realized. I wondered though if their number ever went down after all these centuries.
Finally, we were out of the hotel, and surprisingly, there was no one waiting for us there. I looked at Creep.
“Let me check around,” he said and was gone in an instant. But after a few seconds, he was back. “A nasty group of them is just a couple of kilometers away from here. Are we going to confront the group?”
“No, Creep. Let them come to us,” I said aloud.
“Alright. I will go check on Crina. I left her at the morgue near here,” he told me and was instantly gone again with his sigbin speed. He was only a blur when my eyes followed him.
I sighed looking at Haunter. He took my hand, looking intently at my face like he checked if I had a bruise or something. When satisfied, he kissed the back of my hand.
“You want to go back to your room?” he inquired.
I shook my head. “I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.”
He smiled crookedly. “It will be the last place they’re going to look for you, trust me.”
“I do but now I feel like doing something,” I said honestly. His sky blue eyes were darker in the dim light outside the hotel.
“Alright. I’ll be with you then,” he decided and didn’t ask what it was that I wanted to do.
However, I went back to see and check the people that saw what happened a little while ago to hypnotize them and forget what they witnessed. I even went to the recording room where the CCTV monitoring was located and destroyed the evidence. After that, Haunter and I hailed a cab to go back to the mansion where we went earlier that evening.
It was already dawn when we got there. The sun would be shining in an hour or so. We stood looking at the quiet mansion when the cab left us at the courtyard. Haunter sniffed the air before he turned to me.
“Their scent is fading. They’re not here anymore,” he informed me.
Judging by the galvanizing effect, I also didn’t feel it like I did last night. There must be no one there anymore. Therefore, there was only one place left that we had to check. We hailed another taxi to get to the tattoo shop belonging to Orfeo.
It was still closed when we got out of the cab. We went there all the same, breaking the door effortlessly, courtesy of Haunter. The shop was neat unlike when we left it yesterday. Or was it just only yesterday? It seemed already a long time ago. So much had happened in just a day when I reflected on it.
We went to check the back but there was no one there. Well, I didn’t hear any heartbeat and didn’t feel a galvanizing effect in the air and didn’t smell anything unusual, too. I sat down on a stool for a moment when Haunter spoke.
“I will ask some members of my pack to track down Orfeo. Besides, I have found this one for them to follow his scent. I know that this is his,” he said, taking a framed tattooed skin with a complicated design of a compass. He broke the glass and took out the tattooed skin.
I did agree with him. I also remembered Orfeo’s distinguishing scent, which was a combination of ink and burnt coal. The skin was his. He made it like a canvas for art. What an old sick freak!
Haunter called someone on the phone and gave out an instruction.
“Will drop the specimen on our way, Farkas,” he said in the end and looked at me. “You ready to go?”
I nodded and stood up. He took the tattooed skin with him as we went out.
“We’ll be able to find him once Farkas tracked him down,” he said while we walked toward the highway.
A red car screeched to a halt right in front of us. I instantly felt that very familiar spurring effect. The Russian blonde gave us a bright smile. I rolled my eyes and was about to ignore her when she spoke, taking a hint on the thing in Haunter’s hand.
“You’re looking for the owner of that?” she observed, but I knew that it was only for conversation purposes.
“I don’t need your help, Andrea,” I said with a flat tone.
I stepped away from the red, shiny sports car but Haunter didn’t move. I looked back at him with questioning eyes and a hint of irritated expression on my face.
“Send us fast to this address,” he said instead, handing her a piece of paper from his jeans back pocket.
Andrea took it and read it at once, giving him a quirky smile. She tipped her head sideways, suggesting us to get into the car. I blew my face and got into the car, on Haunter’s lap because it was only a two-seater car. I gave Andrea an angry look but it seemed that she didn’t mind my current position.
“I suggest that I deliver you directly to Orfeo than to drop you off to your friend’s place,” she said while driving fast. “By that, we can save time and effort.”
I gave her a disgusted look. It seemed that I was played again and again. And I hated that!
“I want to ask him who it is that wants me dead so bad,” I told her instead.
I couldn’t contain my disappointment and feeling stupid right this moment. If I think about it now, perhaps Creep was right to come after those perps earlier this dawn. However, we were going to be outnumbered and I couldn’t risk it. On second thought, perhaps I did make the right decision even though it came to this.
“Orfeo’s got nothing to do with it, I’m sure,” Andrea quipped.
I snorted. “How do you know that? He almost killed me and Haunter the last time we met! And now he must have convinced someone else to do just the same.”
“I’m sure he didn’t have that intention,” she defended him. “You must have misread it, Saber. You have to believe me.”
I looked at her outrageously. I shook my head. There was no convincing her. But, hey, why would I do that? I didn’t need her help and certainly I didn’t have to convince her on what I honestly thought about that particular sick elder.
“And why would I do that?” I bounced back at her.
“Because I just know who attacked you, alright?” she revealed and halted the car to look at me in the eyes.
The Poison of All Russia looked quite honest enough to me. Or perhaps she just knew how to use that kind of power to convince her preys before and she used that same power to me now. I shook my head.
“I still don’t trust you,” I said stubbornly.
She looked ahead of us. “I’ve already pledged to you, Saber. Therefore, I’m sure Orfeo’s got nothing to do with the attack.”
“And why are you so sure about it?” I didn’t take my eyes off her, hoping to read more about what was hidden behind her action or her expression.
“It’s because Orfeo’s my maker.” She stared at me straight in the eyes.
I swallowed. I didn’t expect to hear it. And it was known that whoever pledges to another vampire, her entire clan also does the same. However, it was kind of overwhelming on my part. All this time I had an elder who backed me up, even though not officially?
“Is this some kind of a joke to you, Andrea?” I gritted my teeth, trying to make sense into everything that’s happening until this moment.
“It’s not, Saber,” she said seriously and drove again.
I was speechless. Haunter cleared his throat after being silent all this time. His hand clasped mine and pressed it.
“Let’s see Orfeo then,” he said firmly.
Andrea drove without a word while Haunter called Farkas again to tell him about the change of plan. Instead of an attack, they were advised to just watch him when tracked down. After about fifteen minutes, we stopped right in front of a huge mansion, but it was smaller than the one where I met the Dark Empress. The lawn here was also well-manicured, too, and the landscape was quite breathtaking. There were trees around, a water fountain with a mermaid seated on a rock in the middle, a row of autumn flowers by the side of the concrete fence like crocus, nerine, and begonia. Their colors were of a riot violet, white, yellow, pink and red.
We got out of the sleek car and went inside the mansion. Yes, I felt the prodding effect that was Orfeo’s. He was here all right, no doubt about that. We followed Andrea into a big drawing room where the elder was clearly waiting for us. He was seated in a huge chair next to a round table.
“Welcome, my bold Saber,” he smiled widely, clearly anticipating our reunion. He slightly raised a thick eyebrow upon seeing Haunter’s hand that held a tattooed skin.
“Oh, this? I had a plan about your skin a little while ago, which is thwarted by your offspring here.” Haunter smirked at the elder.
The elder took a deep breath and chose to ignore it. He turned to face me again.
I looked at him sharply, though. “Tell me what you intend to do,” I said straight away, addressing him, before he’d say anything more.
In an instant, he was standing right before me before I could even blink. Ah, that elder vampire speed was really something! I didn’t flinch though.
“I do have an intention but I am keeping it to myself. Right now, what do you want to know? You’re here to ask me something, aren’t you?” he answered with a cold voice. His dark eyes were even colder. It was like the atmosphere around here went colder.
I raised my chin. “You know who it is that wants me dead earlier today?”
He grinned and turned around, his back to me. He was still like floating in the air then he sat back down, his elbow rested on the armchair while his chin rested on his fist. He looked at me for a few seconds before speaking.
“You just made yourself an enemy—a strong one, that is,” he orated. He clucked his tongue but smiled chillingly afterward.
I glanced at Haunter who threw away the tattooed skin, which earned a furious look from Orfeo. Okay. So, perhaps not going after that group a while ago was a right decision then.
“That’s bullshit!” Haunter said, clearly vexed by the elder. He faced Orfeo irritably. “If you know something, why don’t you say it directly in our face? Why keep us guessing all the time? And why do you play like you don’t care?”
I knew that he could lose his temper, too. But I didn’t guess it would be this time in front of this elder. I knew that he was provoking the elder. However, it seemed that the latter didn’t mind it at all. Instead, Orfeo transferred his dark gaze at me like Haunter did not say anything offending to him.
“I have my own intention,” he said flatly. His eyes looked me up and down.
I sighed and shook my head. “Let’s get out of here, Haunter. I thought we can get some information from him, but clearly, I’m so wrong!” I turned on my heels when Andrea spoke this time.
“It was one of The Six Elders, Saber,” she said, making me halt mid-stride.
“Andrea,” Orfeo stopped her before she could tell me more.
I looked at her and nodded. Then I glanced at Orfeo before Haunter and I left his place. Orfeo was adding to my already reeling thoughts. It seemed that he was playing safe and neutral at this moment, even though I learned that he would back me up anytime. But what was he waiting for before he’d help me all the way? That ugly old bastard was just cruel. I hate him! Grr!
Haunter got into the red car’s driver’s seat and I settled on the passenger seat. He drove it fast and away from the place. It seemed that Andrea deliberately left the keys for us to use it. While he was driving, I was deep in thought. I knew that we would go to Farkas’ place. I knew he’d ask for an emergency meeting after his short call to the pack’s third-in-command.
It was afternoon when we stopped in front of the huge cabin-like house in the middle of the woods. The front yard was grassy and wide. The air was so clean and fresh I could just rest here for a long time. If only I was not in the middle of all this. The neighbors were far away from here so the privacy was very welcoming. I got out of the car when Haunter opened the door for me. I smiled at him for being a gentle-wolf. He took my hand and led me toward the front door.
The door burst open even when we didn’t knock yet. Farkas’ smiling and handsome face welcomed us in his home and closed the door.
“Good to see you again, Saber,” he greeted me warmly.
My lips parted to smile at him as well and was quite taken aback at the number of wolves in the living room—about twenty-five of them. Yes, I smelled each one of them but wasn’t disgusted anymore. Maybe I was already used to them. I smiled up at Haunter when we stood in the middle of the room.
It was clear to see that the wolves shared some drinks before we arrived. I didn’t know most of them. Vesh wasn’t here and I was able to recognize Maccon and Ulfred, the ones who came here in Romania with Vesh and Haunter.
One approached us, giving me and Haunter each a drink, which we took and sipped slowly. I listened and drank while Haunter gave his speech to his pack.
“The dark time is upon us. I want all of you to be vigilant more than ever. And as you all well know by now, I am going to be by my mate’s side always. If there is anything that needs my attention, you know what to do.” Then he turned to Farkas who was standing on the other side of the room. “Farkas, you lead them when I’m out of the country, you know that. And if there’s any need for a battle, I order you to stay down as much as necessary. However, if you do think that a fight is called for, you know how to handle it.”
I wasn’t so sure how it was going to be handled but I saw Farkas nodding in understanding. Well, it was wolf talk. Therefore, I just kept my mouth shut. Everyone either looked by the window or the ceiling when the hard rain suddenly poured down. I turned to the door when it suddenly burst open.