Chapter 3: Search

“I swear! I won’t tell anyone about you and your cat… dog! Whatever it is!

I raised the Asian-looking kid up with just one hand. Her feet dangled in the air.

“You do realize what I’m capable of, don’t you?” I told her in a low, menacing tone. My eyes were sharp.

“Of course, I’m not stupid!” The kid shouted right back at me without fear.

I gave her my most chilling smile. “I can drain your blood with no one to know about it and how it was done.

“You’re real. You’re a vamp!” The kid gasped with excitement.

I dropped her down. “Go away if you don’t want to get hurt, kid,” I said and turned away with Creep at my heels.

I heard the kid dust herself off before she followed us once again. I gave her my most shuddering look but she seemed to miss it. Or, she was just being deliberately oblivious or just ignoring it. It was kind of frustrating, really.

“I’ve read stories about vamps, you know?” she said and I stopped walking to stare at her for a long moment. She looked up at me with those cute dark eyes. “I don’t think you’re a bad vamp.” She almost whispered it.

I snorted. “Really? You don’t know me, kid.” And I walked again. “Just go home to wherever it is.

She followed hastily to match my faster steps. “My name’s Ji-Yun. I don’t exactly have a family name because I never knew my parents. I just lived with different foster families since I was born… for as long as I can remember. I-I ran away. So, you understand now that I don’t have a home!” She was more like blabbering when she spoke about herself.

I stopped and looked at her. “If you don’t have a home, I can send you to another foster home that you’ll like. At least.” My mind was already scanning the names that were in my head. I had a few acquaintances who would love to have a daughter—an Asian daughter.

Her little eyes bulged. “No! I don’t wanna go to any foster home! I wanna be on my own!

I smirked. “What? How old are you, kid? You’re… fourteen or fifteen maybe?

“I’m fifteen and a half! I’m already almost sixteen. I can do anything on my own!” She said it with conviction.

I tried hard not to laugh. She was far too young. She didn’t know about the world we lived in. She was just any typical American teenagers who thought they knew everything in this world. But they were wrong! Totally. The world is tough to live in. If they had low EQ, they couldn’t take it all in. It is a fact. Some would even commit suicide because of frustration or just because a certain group won’t accept them as they are. Another fact: people are social animals.

I shook my head and walked again. I had to talk sense into this kid. She might go astray.

“You’re barely sixteen, kid. That makes you underage and should have a family even if it is a foster one. You have to listen to what I say.

“Or what? You’re going to hypnotize me again?

I stopped and looked at her. I heard Creep’s “uh-oh” in my head.

“You knew I hypnotized you?” My brows were knitted together, both in confusion and surprise.

“Of course. Was I supposed to not know it afterward?” Ji-Yun looked confused. Then she bared her wrist to show me the bruises where I bit her. “You bit me here, right?

‘Yes, I did,’ I thought with frustration. But normal people wouldn’t have known it.

I looked at her face intently. “So, if I don’t allow you to come with us, you’re going to tell people about my pet here?” I tested her.

“What would I gain if I’ll tell people about what I saw? No one will ever believe me, anyway,” she said with a frowning face.

“My point exactly! So, we can just go to our separate ways if you don’t need my help of finding you a foster family.” I walked faster and faster.

“They’d think I’m crazy!” She ran to keep up with me and Creep. “Hey! I don’t have anywhere else to go. I wanna go with you wherever you want to,” she pressed on and was able to keep up with me.

What was with this kid? Was she some kind of a mutant or what? No ordinary human could keep up with my speedy and hurried steps. I glanced at her, with renewed interest. Yeah, she was an interesting piece.

“Really! I don’t wanna go back to my foster family. They’re so mean and I just wanna be with someone I wanna be with. And right now, I wanna be with you.” She almost sounded like begging me.

“Is she telling the truth, Creep?” I asked him in my thought. Creep had a gift of reading a person whether they were telling a lie or not. Just that, that gift was not applicable to vampires and other supernatural beings.

“She is,” Creep’s answer was a sigh. “And yet, she is no ordinary human,” he added.

“What do you mean by that?” I looked at him for a moment.

“I don’t know. I’ve never met someone like her in my entire life.” He shook his head when I turned to look at him.

That I’d bet because I didn’t know her kind, either. I am sure now that she has supernatural powers that I can’t put a name on. How could she cope this fast with me if she were only an ordinary kid? Now, it occurred to me. Is she a user?

I stopped suddenly and caught the kid by the collar and pushed her to the wall. Again. I couldn’t trust anyone right now. What if she was some kind of a bait or a spy of Dena’s? Even with her innocence and the truth she told us about herself, there was a possibility however small that she was sent after me.

“Ow!” She complained when her back was banged against the wall. “What’s with you all of a sudden?

“Who sent you, honestly?” I asked her with my eyes darkened with controlled anger.

“What are you talking about?” she asked with honest confusion and irritation. Her brows furrowed.

“I want to know who sent you! If you’ll tell me, I promise I won’t hurt you, okay?” But it wasn’t that convincing since my fangs were bared, I just realized.

She closed her eyes. “I swear to God no one sent me! Okay? I just ran away from my foster home!” Then she opened her eyes.

I looked at her and I dropped her to the ground. She gasped and groaned in pain, complaining about her butt. I turned my back to her like I did a little while ago.

“I think you’re no ordinary kid, Ji-Yun. Perhaps you’re some kind of a user.

She chuckled despite her predicament. “A user? What’s that even mean? I don’t do drugs!” She shook her head to stress it out.

I rolled my eyes. I looked at her and sighed. “What’s the use of telling you? I can’t explain it to you, alright? Just don’t follow us or you’ll regret it. Let’s go, Creep.

I leaped so high, almost flying. I landed smoothly on one of the fire exit ladders on the third floor of the building. Creep followed suit. I looked down at Ji-Yun and she just stood there, awed, looking up at me.

I moved to jump again on the rooftop of the building. I just hoped no one saw me or Creep. I looked around and quickly hopped from one rooftop to another. I had to find someone who could tell me where the Dark Empress is right now. I must go to her and protect her. That is my life’s purpose now… it seemed. There is no other goal that I want to achieve aside from protecting the Dark Empress, especially now that I learned Dena is against her. And Dena is a formidable opponent.

It was already around midnight when I stopped roaming around the city. I checked out any familiar vampires around that I could trust even just a bit to ask where I could find the Dark Empress. I knew that no one could easily get near her but I had to try my luck in this city.

I decided to go and check one of the favorite vampire spots. A popular club. I gazed at its red and pink neon lights before I moved toward the entrance. The bulky and bald black bouncer looked at me and Creep, who was in disguise of a beautiful, sexy blond woman in a red cocktail dress. He nodded and let us in by stepping aside. Just before my foot stepped into the interior of the establishment, I already felt the air galvanize. It was so strong that I almost lost count how many vampires were there. Not only them that I could feel or detect but also Haunter’s kind. I tried my best to shove off my thoughts and attraction to him. It was no use.

The place was stinky with different kinds of filth you can put a name on—sweat, disgusting perfume, dirt, unwashed bodies, spilled drinks, cigarette smoke, horny people, and many others. It was so loud with different sounds like the hip hop background music that could break my eardrums, different chatters, and loud, flirty laughter around the place. The blue, red, white, pink, and yellow disco lights were moving in random. The place was thick with cigarette smoke and heavy with sexual atmosphere. Typical of a club all right.

“I don’t think this is good for you, Saber.” I heard Creep said in my mind.

“Oh, just relax, Creep. You’re beautiful tonight,” I teased him.

He chuckled and didn’t say a word.

We sat by the bar. The busy vampire barman gave us a penetrating gaze. He eyed Creep like he wanted to make it out with him right now. I could only suppress a smile.

“Hey, I need to see your boss,” I said to the white bar tender with dark beard.

He looked at me as though he didn’t trust me. Well, if I were in his shoes, I’d feel the same way. He didn’t know me at all. But if he were to know my name, perhaps he’d recognize me. But I don’t always announce my name wherever I go.

“And who are you to see the boss?” His thick brows went up.

“Hmm… I don’t want to make a ruckus here. Just tell me where your boss is.” I shouted at him because of the loud music in the background. I knew that it wasn’t necessary but it was just for show, at least for the humans who were present in our midst.

Before he could even answer, I suddenly felt a very strong electrifying presence coming toward us. Good for the bar tender as I was about to teach him a lesson, like bashing his head on the counter.

I looked over my left shoulder and I saw him. He was wearing a pair of dark slacks and dark suit. It was like he was gliding in the air when he walked toward me. He was a good-looking man in his late thirties in human age. There were two guys—one was with a bigger frame and the other smaller—and a woman behind him. And they too all looked like his age. The woman was like the rose among the thorns in this setting, I thought with amusement.

Now I knew he was the boss I was looking for. I stood up and Creep followed suit. The seductive smile was on his lips. For a moment, the boss was distracted by it before he seemed to shake himself out of it and looked at me instead.

“I heard you were looking for me.” His dark gray, deep-set eyes were penetrating mine.

I simply glanced around and found that all the vampires appeared to be in their alert mode. I laughed quietly without humor. I nodded at him.

“I didn’t know there was a party in here.” I gestured in the air with a tight smile.

“You’re not from here, are you?” The woman in a silver dress guessed that right.

“You bet I’m not. So, I wanted to talk with someone.” I emphasized on the word “talk” just in case they missed it.

I saw the boss smile at me. He looked behind him and signaled that it was fine. The three went off their separate ways—toward their respective food. Yeah, if I had to elaborate, to people they were interested to feed on.

“Come on. Let’s talk in my office,” the place’s boss invited me. “But your friend has to stay here if you want to talk to me alone,” he added, glancing at Creep.

Creep looked at me. “Are you sure about this?” he asked silently.

I just smiled at him and nodded. I followed the boss of the club. We went through a dark narrow corridor round the back of the bar and went into a dim-lit room. It was a typical vampire lair. It was a combination of oriental and western decors. I looked around and was impressed.

It was only the two of us here. He locked the door and faced me. His eyes were as dark as mine.

“Now that we’re alone, what do you want to talk about?” he calmly queried.

I stretched my neck from side to side. We were circling the room like it was a boxing ring, and we were waiting for the bell to ring and start the fight. I touched my Eiffel Tower ring. It was always a concealed, undetected weapon I could ever have wherever I go.

“I didn’t come here looking for a fight or anything. I just wanted to ask some information about the whereabouts of the Dark Empress,” I told him honestly.

He stopped. I did the same. His eyes roved up and down my body. I could feel that he was kind of turned on but I simply ignored it. He wasn’t my type at all!

“Oh, the Dark Empress, you say?” He was obviously dragging this conversation. “Why should you come here and ask me where she is? Do you think I know of her whereabouts?” He reached for a decanter and poured some wine into an empty glass, with blood mixed in it.

I raised an eyebrow. This vampire was one of a kind. I never met someone who would mix blood into the wine and just let it lie in a decanter. However, I didn’t comment on that fetish of his right into his face.

“Fine. I’ll tell you what I know. But I don’t guarantee that she’s still there. The last time I heard is she was seen in Europe. That’s it. Europe. I don’t know where exactly though.” He shrugged and chuckled. Then, he leisurely drank the liquid in his glass.

“Europe.” I ran my tongue on my lips. Now, that brought me some memories but I shook them off right away when they tried to appear. “Okay. That’s a good start. So, who told you this information? Can I meet him or her?

“Do you know how old I am?” he asked suddenly, ignoring my questions.

I pulled my mouth down for half a second and shrugged. “I’m not so sure but you’re old enough, I guess.

I knew there was this hierarchy in the Dark World but I was the only one who respected no one else but the Dark Empress. Sure, I was diplomatic and I should be following rules but I wasn’t that perfect. I always acted independently and freely. Rules be damned!

“And might I tell you how old you are?” His eyes were darker as eve when he stared at me.

I shrugged smilingly. “Be my guest.

“Judging by your… not so olive skin, I say you have an Egyptian and Persian blood. You’re mixed. So that means you’re about two thousand years old.

I laughed. “Very… perceptive of you.” He guessed my age right. Impressive. It was seldom that even my own kind would know my age.

He nodded. “Well, what can I do when an old vampire as you comes in my lair and asks me about the Dark Empress?” He smiled coldly.

“Saber! I don’t know how she gets here but Ji-Yun is here!” I heard Creep’s voice in my mind. He sounded alarmed.

I furrowed my eyebrow. “Not now, Creep,” I answered him using my thoughts as usual. However, it was already confusing how Ji-Yun managed to track us down. At this speed, to boot. That girl! I have to deal with her later.

“Oh, it’s so rude of me not to offer you a drink,” the club owner said while pouring another empty glass from a decanter. “And I haven’t even introduced myself, have I?” He looked at me over his shoulder.

“Thank you. But I don’t need a drink. I just had my fill,” which was days ago, I silently added.

He laughed at that. “Come on. You’re going to love this… exotic drink,” he urged me.

“No. Really. Thank you. I’m good.” I stood my ground with a forced smile.

In a split second, he was right in front of me, sniffing my face and neck. I could also smell the drink he had and his own unique scent, which was like mixed spice and musk.

“I don’t think you have your fill for days, Saber,” he whispered, eyes hooded.

He knew my name! My jaw dropped. I looked at him with surprise and confusion. He backed off a few feet as he smiled at me icily, almost giving me goosebumps.

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