Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Ravon Silvius
Word Count :82554
Publication Date :2021-03-19
Series : Fallen Empire trilogy#2
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3182-2
The flames of desire don’t always have to burn.
Kaiden’s world has been utterly upended. The former alcoholic turned thrall is now a vampire… with undreamed of powers. How is this possible and what does it mean? Can he be mankind’s hope to free them from their degrading servitude to their bloodsucking masters? Just what kind of vampire is he, and what are the limits of his abilities?
Kaiden’s feelings for his hunter companion, Johann, have grown stronger. He knows Johann has feelings for him as well, and would gladly push their relationship to the next level. But Kaiden doesn’t dare, afraid that once he tastes Johann’s sweet, beckoning blood, he won’t be able to stop himself until it’s too late.
As Kaiden and Johann scour the countryside for vampires and for answers to Kaiden’s questions, Kaiden is forced to come to some self-realizations which can either make him or break him. Is he any better than the vampiric overlords, or is he doomed to become just like them? Will the blood he needs to defeat them cause him to lose what little humanity he still possesses?
Wagon wheels creaked in the distance, the steady clopping of hooves growing closer.
My prey heard it too. The vampire stood in darkness. But to my eyes he was obvious—silhouetted in both the pale light of the waning moon and the reflected moonlight from the snow.
I licked my lips. This would be a good hunt. I was so tired of the foul-tasting blood of thralls. A few of the mindless bloodsuckers growled far in the distance, loud to my ears but probably inaudible to the human next to me.
Johann tilted his head, his brown eyes meeting mine. My hunger pulsed in time with his heart. His delicious scent—maleness and pine and soap—made my mouth water.
I gave him a nod and re-focused on the vampire. I could never have Johann’s blood, no matter how good he smelled.
I had waited too long to eat. I should have drunk from the thralls we killed earlier, but I hated their taste. A vampire, though…I hadn’t bitten one of those since Dimresh. A vampire’s blood would be sweet, filling, delicious.
Almost like human.
I shifted, a movement so slight it didn’t disturb the snow beneath us. The weather was so cold that ice would crunch beneath my feet if I wasn’t careful. We would attack soon. I didn’t have long to wait.
The usual sounds of a winter night were broken by the thralls growling again, louder this time, and then by the frenzied whinny of two horses. Johann tensed next to me, but his heart beat steadily. He knew the plan. We both did.
The constant clop of hooves became a drumbeat on the dirt road, and wood creaked in accompaniment. “Whoa!” someone shouted, and reins snapped. The sounds grew louder, the wagon appearing around the bend, the dark forms of thralls leaping after it. Herding their prey to their master.
I licked my lips. My fangs grew long. I was so hungry.
My nostrils flared at the acrid scent of horse-sweat and animal fear that broke through the cold scent of ice and dormant trees. One of the horses bucked and reared in its traces. The driver screamed as the wagon rocked and began to tilt. Small objects fell. They rolled onto the snow.
The vampire made his move, moonlight flashing on silver hair. And I made mine.
“By my blood, bind him to the earth,” I said under my breath. I leaped forward, faster than the thralls who were leaping for the blood of the horses. Faster than their vampire master who was moving to bite the wagon driver. Johann moved like molasses next to me as he raised his stakeshooter and aimed it at the thralls.
The vampire was old, with wrinkled skin and silver hair, but he had the same look as every other weak vampire without a true territory any greater than a mere patch of road to call their own. Hunger showed in his open mouth and bared fangs, but also nothingness. A calculating gaze fixated on the human wagon driver that let me know he thought of the defenseless man as nothing more than food.
I wondered who had turned this vampire, and why. But I only wondered for a moment as I slammed into him just as he turned to face me.
Snow and chips of ice sprayed beneath my feet as I skidded to a stop, my sharp fingernails digging into the vampire’s arms. Behind us the first twang of Johann’s stakeshooter rang out, and a thrall growled as it died.
The vampire’s eyes went wide, just like the eyes of the first vampire I had ever attacked, the whites showing even whiter with the reflection of the moonlight off the snow. “What are you doing here?” he asked, even as sharp claws raked against the skin of my wrists, the vampire struggling to free himself.
I held on tighter, ignoring the lines of pain he was drawing along my arms. Behind me, the thralls growled as one. Two more shots rang out.
“Where is the other vampire den?” I growled, ignoring his question. Johann had said to talk to him, to question him. There were two vampires hunting here in the area. But hunger roared in my ears and my nostrils flared. This vampire didn’t smell like rot, like thrall. He would taste so good.
He curled his upper lip. “Adrian’s den is farther. But this is my patch of road. You can’t—“
I sank my fangs into him before he could finish his threat. Blood filled my mouth. His two remaining thralls screamed. They were silenced by Johann’s shots while I drank.
I probably could have questioned him more. No, I definitely should have. But his blood tasted so good, and I was so hungry. I drank greedily. The scratches on my arms healed within seconds as the vampire in my grip weakened. The taste wasn’t as good as I had hoped—this vampire was no Dimresh. And he wasn’t human. His blood didn’t hold a candle to the taste of Johann’s blood in my dreams and fantasies. But his fluid went down smooth, the taste filling and rich. So much better than thrall.
There was no sign of his death, no heart to stop beating. He simply ceased struggling.
We weren’t alive, after all.
I enjoyed the luscious taste, the vampire blood like fine wine, until a dry voice shot through my enjoyment. “That seems like a treat for you, Kaiden,” Johann said from behind me.
I lifted my head from the vampire’s neck and licked the last of the blood off my lips. I had drained him nearly dry, and I had not wasted a single drop. “Vampire blood tastes good,” I said. “Better than thrall.” Thrall’s blood was disgusting, flavored with rot and filth, but I wouldn’t tell Johann that. Thrall’s blood was all I had. This was the first vampire we’d seen since Dimresh.