Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rising the Beast (#3) Excerpt of Chapter 14: Safehouse

Photo Source/Credit: Unknown

.......
Gabrio turned around following Radgna. His heart wrenched. “Don’t go.” Despite it all, he truly did love him like a father would a son. “It’s not safe.”

Radgna heard the desperation in his father’s voice, but he needed space. He needed to run and think and be alone. He felt his father grab his shoulder and he snapped. “No, Dad. Just leave me be.” Radgna stammered, “I...I’ll meet you at the next safe house in New York where the part of the Leavitt clan will be. Until then, I’ll do my duties and look for Thaddeus.” Seeing his father was as broken as the moment Thaddeus was taken, his guilt disintegrated the fury in him. For a split second Radgna almost stayed. Yet, Gabrio made the choice for him.

“Go, Radgna. I understand that you need this. I’ll see you in a couple days. Be careful, my son.” Wordlessly, Radgna gave his father a small curt nod and left.

Another thread of lightning crossed the sky as a clap of thunder echoed the distance between them. Numb from all thought, Gabrio lingered in the darkness of the night feeling the world around him. He snapped his gaze to the right and seen Conlaoch was standing by his side. Gabrio growled low as the burning feeling of contempt returned.

“You and I both know he needed to know. To understand the past is to know the future.”

Gabrio snorted, feeling a small bit of amusement from the well-worn statement. “That’s what Marrok used to say.” Contempt turned to resentment. He sighed, “I let him go. He needed to be alone. I saw his thoughts when I touched his shoulder. He planned on leaving when we were sleeping. He was going either way.”

“You’ll make him a stronger ally for telling him the truth,” Conlaoch stated.

“Or make him an unstable enemy.” Gabrio retorted with a heavier heart at the realization.

“Only he has that power to decide. Whatever one he chooses, we’ll be there for him.” Conlaoch stated as he looked behind him and saw the distant fires grow higher and larger. Especially if he turns, I will be waiting for him. Through the chaos of the storm, he listened a little harder and heard the low voices of the Beast Bloods walking to the funeral fires. “The fires are ready. I can hear your people making their way there now.”

Gabrio scanned the darkness one more time in hopes Radgna had changed his mind. But the open field and thick forest line were still void of any sign of him. Knowing his son was long gone, he turned around and began walking back to the house. “I can’t wait till this day is done, I couldn’t stand any more of what comes of it.”

Suddenly, an object fell from the sky and smacked Gabrio on the tip of his nose. Started, he stepped back and looked up. Lightning flash and he could see thousands of small black object falling from the clouds. In a sporadic pattern like the summer rain, hundreds of soft fleshy thuds hit the ground around them. “What are they? Hail?”

Conlaoch held out his hands and waited for one to come near him. Suddenly, he caught one of the falling objects. He brought his cupped hands to his chest and slowly opened them. Blood streaked through his fingers and a wad of black feathers filled his hands. Morbidly curious he opened his hand further. He saw black beady eyes lifelessly staring at him. Realizing what it was in his hand, he dropped it to the ground. “Jesus! They’re dead birds!”

Unbelieving of the sight he was witnessing, Gabrio waited for another spark of lighting to confirm what he saw in the darkness. Sure enough, another white blue blast illuminated the wide field. Gabrio’s stomach churned as his heart pumped hard in his chest. The stench of blood was growing as soon as the rain was washing it away. Incredulously, Gabrio spoke his dismay. “Oh, God.” For miles beyond what their eyes could see, large bodies of dead crows littered the ground and thousands more continued to fall.

Conlaoch said as his symbols began to turn from blue to black. “I have to alert the Order. They need to help find Thaddeus and the other Truer Sin. It’s time they become involved in what’s going on. Now, the world is at stake. Revelations have begun.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prologue: Rising the Beast

Perspective is a powerful influence over the mind. Gather enough facts, evidence and a silver-tongued can twist minds to think what they want them to think, feel and know. Until opposition is met. Then all that evidence, facts, and agendas have become challenged. Within that challenge, tempers flare and battles occur in all degrees. War. Quarrels. Death. Betrayal. Never is peace truly met within the strange illusion of humanity. Only a mutual underlying tension covered with false smiles and shaky hands.
Yet, is each side truth or two sides of a larger false? What do you know when there's truth? How can you trust when there’s betrayal? How can you believe when lies are told every day? Experience, faith and time are the key factors to individual wisdom. And within their wisdom, there is truth, peace and strong will. However, what of those lost, who achieved wisdom without faith? It’s bitter. It's vile and it spits acid upon the youth and the youth become tainted with this wisdom and they are too bitter and faith is lost. They eventually become lost. Then all that is good and wholesome, turns to ash. Peace is mocked and the based knowledge of a higher power becomes a primitive idiocy for the need to feel safe in a lonely world. Two different sides of wisdom that crashed through the centuries, progressing the world into what it had once been. Then, when humanity progressed, so did the story. But as we know every story has an end. Yet, one thing's for sure, life will continue when perspective is regained. Being what I am, who I am, I know this truth clearly. I have a wisdom that is both full of faith and fear that what was once done will be repeated within time. Humanity has been drawing further from that fateful time. It is viewed as challenge and mockery. Reaching the end of the pulling tether, the whiplash will be catastrophic.
Time, the true measurement of existence, again draws us further from the truth. Like an overplayed children’s game of Telephone, we each hear what we want to justify our deeds, sins,  only pass it along and they too only grab onto the shattering fragments of the truth. This was understood the story and created free will. A freedom to choose your own path and deal with the consequences when the time comes. Yet, when destiny is set the day you were born, your free will is nonexistent. My prophecy, my life, my fate was never my own, but my bloodline was chosen.  I was chosen. As all the others before me, cursed by destiny, my story is to become written and added to the scrolls.   
Thaddeus Santos
The Hybrid
Guardian of the First Star
First Brother in the Monastery of the Elite 



(Photo Credit/Source: Unknown)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

(Full) Chapter Seven: Division Rising the Beast

As my fingers danced along the keyboard, I was captivated by this chapter. Of course, as the writer I couldn't truly become surprised since I knew what was going to happen. But, nevertheless, while 'bonding' to the characters I still felt every pang of emotion, every strike to the body, and lingered on edge wondering where the words were going to take me and the story. I hope you feel the same. Enjoy. :)



Division


Hours had passed and untamed eagerness still boiled underneath Thaddeus’s studious observation. His sapphire eyes, caught the light of the moon as he watched Krug battle is obviously weaker opponent. Krug was a silver-blue flash as he fell low on bended knee, building up a fierce swiping motion to slice across Carmella’s legs with his daggered claws. His mark was found and blood spattered, slashing across the stone as the crimson liquid dripped from his claws.
Immediately, she released a sharp outcry in pain and buckled under her weakened leg.
She fought the urge to cower in submission, lap the blood away from the wound with her tongue and began to ease the pain, but she gnashed her teeth together. She could already feel herself begin to heal, so she pressed on. She rose back on her feet, ready for more. The clans roared. They bellowed sounds of motivation, celebrating their challengers and warriors victories. Their outcries became thunderous if someone fell before the warriors, especially if it was their own clansmen. However, through the blended clamor it became hard to tell when someone had won or had been defeated.
Thaddeus saw Carmella began to stagger after Krug had grabbed her by her tail, ripping her off his back. “Hurry Carmella!” He heard someone shout next to him, but he couldn’t tell who it was as the crowd grew thick around him. He could feel their worry, and they were right to be so concerned. Thirty rounds have been fought, Carmella was the thirty first beast blood to enter, and no victories had been declared. All became accustomed to watching the warriors fighting pattern and could easily sense when they were ready to release their final blow. Sure enough, Krug was more than ready to end the fight. He saw how weak Carmella became after he injured her leg and with a final back handed blow to the side of her face, she fell to her knees. Her head swayed in disorientation while saliva, tinted with blood, fell from her fangs. Her breathing was harsh, deep and slow. Her blood matted in streaks from the different wounds she obtained, but her thick brown fur hid them well. She focused her indigo colored eyes onto Krug’s cold gray stare and sadness welled within their exchange. Her spirit had been crushed as the final blow forced her to already kneel before the warrior in defeat. Her spirit struggled with her ego, desire and unwilling body. She wanted to continue despite the pain that burst through her aching muscles, but she knew she had to face defeat. In a slow nod, she had closed her eyes and bowed to him.
Thaddeus shook his head as he watched Talos help her up just like he did with some of the others. He wanted her to win. She spoke before all the clans desiring to rise to the status of her departed grandfather from a lesser werewolf to a warrior. Fear had touched her heart after the stench of her own blood wafted from her wound and accelerated the awareness of pain and injury. Yet, she wasn’t the only one. Some had became defeated after fear clutched their soul, others were after they felt their bones crack and splinter under the weight of  well placed fist. Then, there were some that had entered the circles already too bold before those that judged within the temple. They were easily defeated as their sense of entitlement caused their downfall before they could even rise. The rest hurriedly lost heart when they moved to the second circle.
Humbleness and a submissive blankness, Thaddeus assessed, were the keys to winning against fate. It’s a prayer with the body. You have to make them notice your heart and will like a servant would before their master. He was ready. He stretched his back, causing his fur to stand on end.

“Be easy, my son. Don’t let your eagerness cloud your mind.” Gabrio advised.

His father’s words flowed over him like the rain upon the stones. He silently embraced them and stood strong, waiting for his turn. Krug’s circle was empty once more, so he looked to his uncle. Marrok was clutching the throat of a new blood from clan McGiddian. He was shorter and more slender than Marrok, but he fought with a vicious speed that matched Marrok’s skill. However, Keegan Humerback, a male of ash blonde fur and stormy gray eyes, had gained advantage as he used Marrok’s burly arms to stabilize his weight, lifting his powerful legs to kick Marrok repeatedly in the chest. Marrok held strong until the young male had landed a final blow to the side of his face. Light on his feet, Marrok stepped backward evading a threatening lunge toward his body as the new blood rushed at him with snapping teeth.
In ferocious snarls of attack, dust from the stones were kicked into the air floating in a fine mist around them while they clawed at each other, gathering furred flesh within their mouths and biting hard until the other found a way to break free. In a flash, Marrok jabbed Keegan in the ribs while he forcefully backhanded him in the jowl. From the stinging pain upon impact, Keegan could taste bittersweet blood filling his mouth from the new wound that slashed across his inner cheek as he stumbled free from Marrok’s grasp. Disoriented, he pressed the tip of his tongue to the wound, assessing the size and depth of it. He felt the thin, but wide strip of lost flesh of his inner cheek mold against his back teeth. Keegan charged forward, roaring through his gnashed fangs. He quickly jumped on Marrok, pushing him onto his back. Seeking his opportunity, he hurriedly pinned Marrok’s arms above his head and dug his claws deeper into Marrok’s back. He savagely grasped Marrok’s throat into his mouth and pressed, slow and hard.
Instinct clouded Marrok’s mind once he felt the stabbing burn of Keegan’s gripping fangs pressing the hollow tunnel of his esophagus together. In a wild blur, Marrok thrashed about, writhing a hand free. Quickly, he wrapped his large fingers over Keegan’s face and clawed into it. Keegan bellowed harshly from the striking pain as he pushed Marrok’s hand away as his own covered the bleeding wounds. Marrok saw his mark to finally end the battle. Suddenly, Marrok grabbed ahold of Keegan’s biceps and jerked them as swift as possible. Easily, Keegan’s thick arms had been popped out of socket and his arms laid limply by his sides.

“It ends now!” Marrok yelled.
Helpless, Keegan roared as Marrok gathered his bended knees to his chest and landed a solid kick to his stomach. Marrok scrambled to his feet, watching the young blood crash hard against the stone on his back. All the clans roared, except for the McGiddians, which watched in stunned silence as Keegan had been beaten and mangled in front of their eyes. Marrok stood within his circle, breathing heavily as he stared at their Clan Elder, Bane McGiddian. His hazel eyes glowered at Marrok in anger. They shone hotly, burning brightly against the copper hue of his fur. However, the look quickly changed into respect, then disappointment. Bane looked at the lesser Beast Blood next to him and flicked his head toward Keegan. Immediately, they knew to flock to Keegan’s side to tend to him and briskly they began setting his arms back into their sockets before moving him within his crowd of kinsman. Marrok turned around and looked around waiting for another fighter. However, none came forward, which caused him to look at Thaddeus. He caught his nephew’s gaze and he sent him a nod, calling him into the circles. The time had come.

Thaddeus looked from his uncle’s circle to Gerald’s, realizing Victoria’s father had long since defeated his opponent. Immediately, Thaddeus felt a gripping hand on his shoulder and he looked into his brother’s black eyes. His inner voice was deep and coarse as it sounded through the boisterous noise. “It’s your turn, brother.”

“I know.” Thaddeus replied as he straightened his spine and released a ready puff of air through his nose.

Radgna dropped his hand to his side. With concern, dull, but noticeable within his eyes, he continued. “I wanted to tell you, before it was too late, I have never agreed with this plan of yours, but know I’m on your side...no matter the inevitable outcome.”

He knew the words were meant to be in genuine comfort. Yet, they sank heavy in his heart as their warm intent chilled his soul. He began to sense the wind changing outside as dawn became more prominent in night sky. He looked at his brother and somehow a feeling of loss struck his heart. He hadn’t the time or the luxury to ponder over the sudden feeling since time was of the essence. The crowd was still cheering, as the warriors waited for him and his small group of kinsmen gathered around him, giving them their own brand of encouragement. He forgot how much he hated this part of an opponent's parting. It was as if they were already morning, before his death. Isabel wholeheartedly embraced him as Raul touched his shoulder, giving him a short nod with a look of grim strength. Thaddeus knew that was his look of quiet support during the rare occurrences, his grandfather was without words. His grandmother and grandfather walked away to reveal his mother standing behind them, waiting for her turn. They faced each other waiting for the other to move. When seeing her striking blue eyes glaze over in rapid thought and distress, he lashed out, embracing her tightly, knowing her agitation was for his life and not his success within the circles. Thaddeus heard her lightly whimper and he pressed her harder to his chest before letting her go. Then, as custom dictated, the Elder spoke last, so his words were last said and easily remembered. Sure enough his father touched his shoulder to gain his attention. He turned to face his father as an equal and by the look in his father’s eyes, he expected nothing less.
Gabrio grabbed his son’s face and pressed their foreheads together. He growled at him, not like an angered parent, but as his Elder. “Don’t think about anything, but your counter reaction. That’s the key to fighting in the circles. That’s the key to staying alive.” Then, Gabrio pushed him at arm's length and looked at him, spoke to him like a father would his son. “You are more than my son, a brother or even a Santos. Divinity run’s stronger in our blood and shines within you alone. You will do this, you can win and claim whatever it is you need to and truly become your own man.” He embraced his son with such force, it pushed Thaddeus onto his heel. Suddenly, he spoke the oath he embraced from the family crest. Not because it reminded him of his roots, but it rang with a truth he couldn’t deny. “Fight strong.”

Thaddeus replied in sequence, stating the next line from the Santos motto. “Live forever.”

Gabrio nodded and spoke in finality. “Live forever.” He let go, moving to proudly stand by Thaddeus's side without another word.

Thaddeus saw the circles had become illuminated by the cool charcoal gray light of early dawn. Knowing the night was fading fast, he knew he was going to be the final fight of the night. With that revelation, a new pressure began to weigh in on him. He had to defeat all three warriors before the golden sunlight forced them to become cloaked in new skin, ridding them of fur and the temple would lose it’s power until night fell again. He hastened his approach to the circles, then he saw Victoria filter to the front of the crowd. Her ashy white fur stood out from the shadows. They locked eyes and he gave her a brief nod, trying not to give too much away regarding their relationship before he could win the recognition of their marriage. Her eyes swelled with admiration for him and yet, he could feel how tensed she was from across the room. She looked to her father and then back to him, concerned for their battle. He realized she was frightened of the outcome. Without a word spoken, she was telling him to defeat him without tragedy. He understood and looked away from her taking the first step upon the stone altar where the circles where elevated. As soon as his foot touched the stone, the clans bellowing roars faded into silence and they stood still watching him. He could almost hear their thoughts filled with questions they dare not to say, but craving answers as to why the Clan Master’s son was taking the circles.
Thaddeus held his head high as he ignored their silence, but even Gerald and Krug had changed their demeanor. Instead of ready to fight like they were moments ago, they were ready to yield to him. They were submissive and it angered him. He growled low in his throat as he glared at their downcast eyes. He was tired of being treated as if he was breakable, untouchable because of his status. He ground his teeth and walked into Marrok’s circle first, ready to release the rage that threatened to explode.
Marrok looked at his nephew in silent pride and exchanged a nod of greeting. “I’m surprised they are going to fight you. Are you ready, nephew? This isn’t like at home. I can’t go easy on you.”

Thaddeus nodded back as he watched Krug and Gerald exchange looks of uncertainty, but they understood he was going to fight them. He noticed they looked at Gabrio and he gave them a nod, approving his son being in the circles. They moved without hindrance, preparing their positions within the circles. Thaddeus snorted at the way they had to seek his father’s permission before they could fight him. He replied to his uncle as he readied his stance into a low crouch, coiling to attack. “More than you can possibly understand.”

“Not yet!” Talos interjected as he stepped in between Marrok and Thaddeus. Before Thaddeus could reply with more than an eye roll, Talos placed a hand on his shoulder and spoke quickly to him. “Are you sure you know what you are doing? Is she worth the chaos you could bring to your people?”

Thaddeus’s eyes grew wide in wonderment as to how he would know about Victoria, but since he was going to announce his reason after he had secured the right to do so, he let it go. He looked at Victoria, whom still stared at him, not in submission like the rest, but in loyalty, respect and support. He nodded, looking back at Talos. “It’s a chance I’m more than willing to take to have a life, a family and a status that isn’t shadowed or overruled by anyone. She is my reason that the time had come I define who I am, who I’m going to be. I’m not one to be weakened by worry or doubt, Talos.”
Talos shook his head as he removed his hand from Thaddeus’s shoulder seeing enough of his soul to know he spoke the truth. “No. No you’re not, but in reality you don’t know who you are yet.” He leaned forward, his eyes rolling white as he spoke softly to him. “But, you’ll soon find out.” Talos snapped back and his eyes returned to their normal color. He saw Thaddeus’s eyes narrow onto his face, but without another word toward Thaddeus, Talos raised his arms in the air, speaking to the silent crowd as he walked off the stone altar, orbiting around them.
“My Brothers, Sisters of the blood. We have one last fight of the night before dawn whisks our fur from our bodies and we are once again forced to don the flesh of the mortals. Now, release the sounds of the beast you are. Bellow loud for the heavens to hear us and to let the last challenger find his fate. Let’s begin!” He roared first, sounding a round from all the others. All, except Gabrio and Esmeralda. They stood close, unable to take their eyes away from the vicious fighting, understanding his broken bones and surface wounds would be healed when they had to reform into their mortal cover. However, they watched grimly as their son made the first attack on Marrok, hoping, praying he would leave the circles alive after each warrior had been defeated.

Marrok snapped, biting Thaddeus in the face as he latched his claws into his nephew’s jaws, trying to pry them open and push him away. However, Thaddeus locked his powerful chops deeply into Marrok’s collarbone, hoping to injure him enough to keep him from fighting further. He felt the splintering bone pierced through Marrok’s muscles, then his skin and scrape against his teeth. Suddenly, the bone was severed and Marrok howled with blinding pain. Thaddeus let go, falling on his knees as he swiftly rammed a clawed hand behind Marrok’s left leg. Instantly, Marrok bent against the pain and crumbled to the stone. He looked up and saw Thaddeus standing over him, with sorrow in his gaze as his foot was ready to slam on his ankle. Marrok knew he was going to go for his only weak spot, and cause him to surrender by fracturing his Achille's Heel. Even after the reformation, he wouldn’t walk right after an injury to such a vital part. At least for a couple of weeks and he had Scarlet to think about, she needed him for constant support as her movement was weakened due to a strenuous pregnancy.
Marrok shook his head as he put a hand on Thaddeus’s forearm. “No, Thaddeus! Don’t break it for Scarlet’s sake. I surrender to you.”

Thaddeus stepped back and gave him a nod. He outstretched an arm and placed an awaiting hand in front of Marrok and he grabbed it readily. “I hated to threaten you with that, since Jark did it the night you fought him.”

“You’re fighting dirty because you’re running out of time, but remember that card can be played by the next warrior, especially Krug.” He steadied himself onto his feet, limping as he walked to the edge of the altar and stepping down softly. “Yet, don’t pride yourself, Pup. If Scarlet didn’t need me as support when she walked, I would’ve bore through it fought you more.”

“I wouldn’t doubt that, Uncle. However, like you said. I’m running out of time.” Thaddeus let go of his hand and walked into Krug’s circle, turning his back.


Esmeralda rushed to her brother, grabbing his uninjured side to help him walk back to their group. “You let him go.” She scolded.

He nodded. “Damn right I did! He earned it fair and square. In the circle, tonight, he’s fighting differently. He’s using techniques I never taught him. That son of yours was more than determined to break everything I had to get me to stop.”
Esmeralda scoffed. “My boy…”

Marrok interjected hotly. “That man doesn’t need your constant involvement, anymore. He is who he is and you’re going to lose him if you don’t let him figure out who he’s meant to be! What if something does happen; a demon finds him in the middle of the night or a half breed sets the whole damn forest on fire and he’s not prepared to react on his own because of your lack of encouragement?” He saw her face release in thought as her eyes began to calculate his words. He continued. “This is what’s needed, Essie. He’s a warrior.”

“I hate you.” She snapped angrily as she carried him to Gabrio, who was awaiting to bare the load of Marrok’s weight until he healed fully.

He snorted as he moved from Esmeralda's grasp to Gabrio’s, conforming to his larger, sturdier frame. He leaned against it, testing the security of his frame and knowing he wasn’t going to fall. “You love me, you know I’m right and you not dropping me on our short walk here proves just that. Now, turn around and watch Thaddey go against the brawn of Krug. I would love to see how he handles the big brute.”

“He’s the hardest one to defeat. His size alone overwhelms the circle and if they try running he grabs them like it’s not an issue and makes them bloodier for trying to evade him.” Raul stated as he moved toward Esmeralda, wanting to console her, knowing watching Thaddeus put himself into grave danger became more taxing for her than it was for the rest of them. He looked for Radgna and saw he was with Gabrio, holding Marrok up as they roared, cheering for Thaddeus. He decided he could speak freely.
“You can’t hide it from him any longer. The way that everyone treats him, looking at him like they’re waiting for heralding trumpets to call him away. He’s frustrated because he knows something isn’t right and he doesn’t know he’s the one that isn’t truly normal. He’s, in a way, sacred to the people. How is he going to marry, have children, make the right choices if he doesn’t know what’s predetermined for him? Even George had the insight to tell Gabrio of his parents when he was old enough to understand.” He saw her blue eyes water with panic and fear. He hated she had became so burdened, a far cry from the free-spirited woman she used to be. However, her and Gabrio’s plight had turned them hard, wise and a bit cold while the hidden agendas of heaven and hell had involved them. He didn’t say another word, knowing his words of advice were taken to heart.

She looked from her father, knowing he was right. Nevertheless, she hated that his words were the truth she denied herself and ultimately, her son. She always wanted to protect him, keep him safe from the dangers that awaited him and that became harder to do so as he grew into his own person. She sighed in distress. She wouldn’t think about now and pushed it far from her mind as she turned around to watch her son enter Krug’s circle.


Thaddeus heard the thunderous roars of each member of the clans as he entered Krug’s circle. The sound was different as he stood above them. Even the smell of drying and fresh blood, his blood, clashed with the aroma of earth and water and the putrid smell of the monstrous warrior before him. He saw Krug’s blank, grim stare size him up. Thaddeus wasn’t intimidated by the overly large beast, who weighed at least a hundred more pounds than he did and stood a towering foot taller than his advanced height of six-one. He seen Krug fight, he had strength, but he was slower than what he liked himself to believe.
Krug spoke and his voice was a deeper rumble than the stomping heartbeats of those that surrounded them. “May fate be decided in good favor. ”

“Amen.” Thaddeus replied right before Talos barked to commence the fighting. As predicted, Krug released an adrenaline fueled battle cry and rushed toward him with full speed and strength. On the defense, Thaddeus quickly jumped to the side, turning within the rushing movement of wind Krug had created, missing his mark. Reacting quickly, Thaddeus positioned himself behind Krug and clawed across his back, cutting deep enough into the tough hide to strike a paralyzing nerve in his spine. Krug began to crumble and with one swift kick to the bend of his knees, he fell off out of the stone circle and slammed hard onto the ground. As the sound of his hard body hit the earth, the clans hushed into a cold, eerie silence.

“The second warrior has been defeated!” Talos yelled as he watched Krug shakily lift himself off the ground, releasing howls of agony. Immediately, Jark rushed to gather his only son, dragging him to join the rest of the Trivosa clan with trails of blood marking his path.

Their eerie silence became as deafening as the ringing outcries that burst forth from their lungs only moments ago. Thaddeus looked around and saw everyone looking at him in wonderment and fear. One by one, the clans began to bow to him and remain still. Seeing them bend in submission raised his anger, he never wanted to be praised, just normal. He wanted to be an equal, not placed higher from them. Yet, he was. He was grateful when he looked to Victoria and his family, they were the only ones that didn’t bow. He looked to Gerald who looked at his daughter in disgust and scolded her for her rebellious nature.

“Bow to him, Victoria. Don’t bring dishonor to our clan.” Gerald barked.

Thaddeus couldn’t take it anymore. He had lost control. He entered Gerald’s circle with unbridled rage, he snapped and snarled as he growled at the old warrior. “Don’t ever speak to her that way! She won’t ever need to bow before me, nor anyone else.”

Gerald whipped around, cowering only his gaze to the floor. “I’m sorry, Thaddeus. Yet, she is my daughter and she’s disrespecting you….”

Thaddeus’s lips curled over his fangs as his voice grew deeper. “She maybe your daughter, but she is my wife by the customs of old! She does not bow to her equal, but you can bow to her.” As soon as the words were spoken, he felt the tension in the room thicken. He noticed the clans began to rise, uncertain of what is going to happen with the sudden division.

Esmeralda stepped forward as she release a small whispering plea. “Thaddeus, what have you done?”

“I had fought for her and since Gerald submitted to me, I had won.” Thaddeus replied as he looked at his father, whom stood with Marrok slung over half his body, watching him with self-blame in his gaze. Thaddeus felt sorrow for putting that type of blame into his father's heart, but he wouldn’t yield to it. He looked at Gerald as he continued speaking aloud, but he wanted Gerald to know the last words were meant for him. “And I had won her freedom.”

Gerald flicked his whiskey colored eyes from the ground as his graying blonde fur rose on it’s ends as he released a fearsome cry. His gaze locked onto the wild blue eyes of his superior. He wanted to kill him, to make him thrash in pain for what he had done, but he turned around and confronted Gabrio and Esmeralda. They were more his equal than Thaddeus had been.
“I told you from the beginning and you promised me, that your son wouldn’t go near her! I’ve protected her as best as I could from him. Now, you both are to blame for what had transpired here. I didn’t want my daughter bound forever to him, The Hybrid!”

Suddenly, earth and sunlight imploded from the ceiling, falling into the temple in large clumps with puffs of trailing dust, swirling within the cascading sunlight. The sound of large wings filled the void as a monstrous creature broke through the barrier releasing loud and gruesome bellows.
Thaddeus looked up, bending low and shielding his eyes from the falling dirt. He saw large white wings expanding farther than the large opening it created. It’s golden body was that of a lion, as three large heads of lions donned one body. They roared loudly in unison, ready to fight. He looked back at Gerald and saw he was in the path of becoming crushed under the creature’s weight. Quickly, he rushed at him, pushing him hard from the stone altar and into the crowd, where he would be safe from harm. In doing so, he put himself in danger as a large rock fell from above and knocked him hard on the back of the head. Immediately, he was left unmoving as he lost consciousness. The creature saw Thaddeus and knew instantly, he was the one they were seeking. They landed softly as they secured him within their bird-like talons.

Through the blindness of sunlight and sooty black earth that floated in a fine powder around them, Esmeralda was full of dread as she looked for Thaddeus. She heard a quick flick of the massive wings, and the dust billowed around them, making the room clear for sight for the briefest of moments. With her sharp vision, she saw Thaddeus laying limp in the monster’s grasp. Her thoughts ran a thin line as it had repeated the result of her fear. He’s dead. He’s dead. I knew it. Consternation took her over as she howled an ear-piercing shatter in the hollow space. She made her way through the crowd as she heard Gabrio and the others calling her name, but it was too late. The creature rose above the thick layer of earth and into the blinding sunlight, flying into the water colored sky, with her son, within its clutches.

Photo Source/Credit: Unknown

Monday, January 4, 2016

Chapter 11, Blood Ritual, Beast Blood (#1)

Caution:
Contains Sexual Content & Language


The sporadic pattern of icy water droplets fell from the leaky ceiling to hit the skin on Esmeralda’s dirty, blood covered face causing her to stir awake. In a mid-state of awareness, she felt stiff and uncomfortable. She lolled her head to one side and started to move her body, which she immediately regretted as she greeted with a sharp pounding pain against her skull that shot through her entire body. Her hand, rushed to the source of the throbbing discomfort on her head, but the chain tether around her wrist prevented her from doing so. Confused, she pulled her arms down towards her and heard the clank of the heavy chain rattle as she felt the pulling resistance of not being able to go any farther. She felt a heavy shackle hang loose around her neck as well.
Oh my God, I’m chained. Where am I? She thought as panic commenced to rise like bile in her stomach. She could only reach far enough to press her fingertips onto the sore spot, which the paralyzing pain came again and revealed a partially scabbed over wound. Now fully alert from the pain she felt, she tried to open her eyes to see if the wound was still bleeding from looking at her fingertips. The task proved to be difficult within her current position, she couldn't open her eyes and figured she was still too groggy to open her eyes. In quick, tired defeat, she gave up opening her eyes for now. Her body couldn't catch up with her mind fast enough. Nevertheless, she knew the wound had to be bleeding a little because the smell of fresh blood surrounded her. She could feel a trail of the sticky substance trickle slowly down the left side of her face.
Freezing, she shivered as her skin prickled against the constant cold draft that engulfed her. As she gained more awareness of her physical status, she realized she's naked, chained and wounded. With that revelation, her heart started to pound hard against her chest as her adrenaline bolted through her veins. Unable to open her eyes fully still she quickly started to scan her memories to find what she could recall about last night. Ancient Ritual. I was running through the woods. Yelling. Someone was yelling. The prey... the new Beast Bloods must have had him. Gabrio was behind me. No, he wasn't behind me, but someone was. Who was behind me? The apparition faded around me, I became attacked and then it went black. Increasingly frustrated from lack of sight while remaining prevented from fully remembering, she started to pull her chains harder trying to break free despite the pain that plagued her body and her lack of sight.

“Don't bother with the chains, my little she-wolf. You are not strong enough yet to break the chains that now bind your wrists and neck.”
Esmeralda stood silent at the mysterious, booming voice that echoed through the room giving the space more expansion than she thought it had. She tried lifting herself off the stone floor beneath her to rise if she had to defend herself. However the chains that bound her wrists and her neck prevented her to stand on her feet, but they had enough give to allow her to rest on her knees. Once again, she stilled as she sat with her head lowered waiting for the man to speak again. She could feel his eyes raking over her naked superficially submissive bow as she was raging like a caged animal internally. She heard his shoes heavily thud against the ground as he circled her like a predator stalking his prey. As he began to speak, Esmeralda could hear the man’s smooth, deep voice glazed in a heavy Irish slur, but he spoke slow and clear, making his voice husky and exotic.

“Good girl. Now that I see you have awakened and calmed yourself. Why don’t we start getting to know each other even better.” He heard her draw a sharp breath inwardly at his statement of 'getting to know each other’ as she braced herself expecting to fight him. He boisterously laughed, loud disturbing laughs. “I love how your mind turned to a more relating desire. Do not worry my little she-wolf. I will not take advantage of your human form just yet. Even though the idea of taking you every which way has occupied my thoughts since you have arrived three days ago.” He said silkily. His words dripped with desire.

Frantically, Esmeralda’s thoughts began scattering, searching for lost time she couldn't remember. Three days. I have been here, like this, for three fucking days.

The man walked in front of her, stopped his slow pace and continued to talk. “Since we’re on the subject do you know how hard it is-.” He paused to chuckle at the perverted inner joke at the statement he just voiced. “I’m sure you know to some extent how hard IT is, but I mean to look at a glorious naked woman and can’t do anything about it at first sign of savage impulse. Then again, being a slight masochist, I enjoy the torture of not touching you for now. Not that I lack women, it's just I like to fuck. So when we do, it will be with you, covered in your blood and dirt. I think it’ll make it that much more thrilling, raw and savage. What do you think? Think you would enjoy me?”
Esmeralda could no longer take the sickening chatter of this man and spoke for the first time in three days in a raspy, soft voice, cutting the man off from his ranting. “What do you want with me, you sick fuck?” She heard the man’s pulse increase with excitement as he exclaimed in a mocking tone.

“She speaks. You have a voice of an angel with the tongue of a demon. I love hearing your throaty voice using such naughty language gives me even more immense pleasure to think of how much of a spitfire you must be in bed.” He walked closer to her until he was only a few feet away. “But I’ll just have to keep those entertaining thoughts as the recurring fantasies they are, for now, because you asked me a question that I have rudely not answered.” As he continued to speak, the tone of his voice switched to one of playful consideration. “What do I want with you? Well, my bonny lass, there are two reasons to be exactly what I want to do with you, regardless of the obvious one, which sadly has to come second.” The man paused to gather his thoughts. “The main reason you’re here is because of the blood that runs through your succulent skin. As you can see my dear -.” The man stopped in mid-sentence as his brain shifted his train of thought. “Oh, I almost forgot where my manners are.”
He closed the space that lay between them to crouch on his knees in front of her. He lightly put his hand under her chin to lift her head so they were face-to-face, inches apart. He placed his hand over her eyes to press and swiped his hand upward from her face, mumbling words that were inaudible under his breath. He was close enough that she could smell his breath, which smelled of a mixture of sweet wine and honey. Esmeralda thought that to be an odd mixture coming from the sick, erotic bastard that now held her captive.
As soon as he lifted his hand from her eyes, Esmeralda could freely open them to see once again. They fluttered open and squinted against the intruding light from the thousands of candles that surrounded her in a primitive glow. As her vision cleared, she saw the man that knelt in front of her and she became shocked to see his appearance. She expected the man to look twisted, balding and frail. However, he was the exact opposite. He was beautiful in an exotic way. In the light of the candles, she could see he had fashionably slicked dark brown hair and his eyes were so blue; they could pass off as white. His striking features, including his olive skin, contradicted the Irish accent he spoke. Nevertheless, despite his siren features, he was sinister, perverted and he was still crouching next to her staring at her as if he was searching for something within her eyes.

“What a lovely creature you are when you're surprised. I can see by your reaction you were expecting me to look different.” He smiled as if it amused him, revealing straight pearly white teeth. Then he continued. “I get that reaction a lot when I give people back their sight.”
Esmeralda’s eyes gave away her confusion. Even with her trying her best to conceal any emotion from him, he still caught on.
“Don’t worry, I’ll explain.” He rose from his spot in front of her, turned his back to her and started to walk towards the table that held a brass chest that glittered with encrusted jewels of all kinds.

She watched him closely and suspiciously as he stepped away from her. She noticed he wore all black from the tight fitting, black T-shirt with belted black jeans. Even the tribal tattoos that covered his arms and neck were black. Esmeralda saw that he was not frail as she once thought, but lean and well-built. Assessing him further, he sensed he was a fighter and he won most of them. He carried himself with arrogance and strength, which made her observation about him factual. Tearing her eyes away from him, she looked around the room that was to be her prison for the duration. Surprised to see the room looked to be a luxurious dungeon, which only held one prisoner at a time. Since the only chains and restraints that were in the room were already used on her. On that sad fact, she looked down to see what other torturous devices could be around her.
Apart from the large stone platform she knelt on, the floors were a beautiful dark, oak. They shined in dull reflection of the lit candles that rested all around the room in various styles of candle holders. Scanning the room, she noticed the lengthy red and gold silk curtains hung from the top of the stalls, ending in cascading pools of red and gold on the floor. They hung alongside the various old tapestries, which depicted scenes of bloody knights fighting in battles or of young, madly in love men wooing half-naked women. In her search, she noticed a tapestry that held her inquisitiveness longer than the others did. Surprised, she didn’t notice the tapestry sooner because it’s abnormally large size, which expanded across the entire wall right above the mysterious man and the table he was heading towards. Esmeralda became astounded by the beautiful artwork and its immaculate detail. Like the rest, it too had a red and gold curtain on each side of the tapestry. Although unlike the others, this tapestry was of a glorious angel fighting a demon. The picture beautifully caught the scene, frozen in time during an epic battle of good versus evil. The theme of this tapestry was so different from the others. She did not know why, but a distant, forgotten memory came forth as she fixedly stared at the picture.
Esmeralda looked at the tapestry even closer and recognized the warrior angel was the Archangel Michael. He was fighting the devil with the aid of a wolf. His sword of fire rose in the air as if to strike the demon as the angel’s magnificent ivory wings fanned behind him. His ebony and silver armor, held a sheen of a yellow aura that surrounded them. It protected them from the advances of the demon's weapons. She noticed the demon also had a wolf next to him aiding him against the angel. She focused on the wolves and immediately saw the wolves were not just average creatures, but they were werewolves. On continuous close examination, there was seldom difference between the werewolves except for the color of their eyes and a slight difference in the size of the already overly large creatures. The demon’s werewolf had blood red eyes as the one belonging to the angel had golden yellow eyes. "Gabrio's eyes." She whispered is breathless awe.
Esmeralda heard the man’s footsteps halt, breaking her from the trance just as quick as it occurred. She quickly scanned the room, knowing the man was going to focus his undivided attention to her once again. She followed the chains around her wrists, which kept her arms above her head to see they protruded from the top of a stone wall and securely bolted. She noticed the cold chain, which hung around her neck to rest down her back and between her naked breasts, had been just as powerfully bolted to the stone floor on each side of her. Each chain only gave her so much room to move. He was right; she could not break free just yet, but why. Hurriedly, she looked back at the man to see if he was watching her looking around, but he was unlocking something from the brass chest. Esmeralda watched him pick up the item up, take off its red silk covering and turned to face her. Instead of walking back to her, he folded his arms and leaned against the table.
“See my beautiful wolf, there are signs forthcoming of a bigger purpose. An unfilled prophecy, which my kind can sense rather quickly when it starts to become fulfilled. My instincts led me to your little town. Knowing exactly what I was looking for, I watched your ritual. I watched all members of your pack turn rather quickly, but yet you stalled for a second and that pricked my curiosity. I led you away from the group using an ability I have and here you are today, with me.”
Esmeralda became increasingly irate as she asked. “My clan will look for me. I will break free from you and when I escape, I am going fucking kill you.”
He snorted at her threats. “I love your feisty little personality. First, my love, your clan won’t find you here. I've heard that line many times and the person saying it, is never found. Second, you can’t kill me. You’re in my lavish castle, located in the most remote part of this lovely country. Most importantly of all, I am what some used to call a Blood Taster. It's my duty to seek out the wicked in mortals and since the prophecy has begun, your kind as well.”

Esmeralda coldly stared into his blue eyes in silence at the man as he continued talking. Confusion took over her when he mentioned her kind in connection to the prophecy. She sensed he was going to have the answers she needed to understand what was going on to her and Gabrio. Perhaps there were more like them having these visions.
“See, before the Order of Draco, in different regions of the world, many diverse names have used to name my kind. Lilitus, Vetalas, Baobhan sith, the list really goes on. Yet, it has became narrowed to one word since the early nineteen hundreds. My people became known as vampires, because of the constant courtesy of the obtuse and imaginative work of Bram Stoker. However, he did get a few of our traits right. We are immortal, which means you can’t kill me, ever. Horribly sad for you, because by the look in your eyes you undeniably want to kill me. Second, we do drink blood and we crave it, but we do not shun the world. Also, we do not have venom to change people, as one would believe. They have to drink our blood willingly. We blend so very well into the world just as we always have. We can go out in the middle of the day and we can eat mortal food and drink. Unlike, what the mortals have depicted us to be, we have no weakness to stakes, sun, fire or crosses. We're a mixture of both good and evil. Created to even out the score, just like your kind.”
Esmeralda was stunned, but skeptical. She only heard the stories of her people. Never did she hear of another group being made with the creation of her kind. Outraged and yet, too curious, not to ask him a few questions she had racing in her mind. In addition, she figured if she kept him talking that she could at least find out where she was. Settling for one question, in a sarcastic tone she asked him, “Are you telling me you're Dracula?”

The man heartily laughed once again and chuckled as he spoke. “If I were the infamous Dracula you wouldn’t be talking right now. His usual methods of dealing with interrogations would to be just ripping your throat out, drink you dry and leave you to rot. Unlike me, my dear, I love to play with my food.” He gave her a wink accompanied by a sly sickening smile that now revealed his pointed teeth.

Esmeralda stared at him with disgust.“Tell me your damn name and what a Blood Taster is.”

He pouted for a second, then thought better of it to let the predator and prey game drag on any further. “You really shouldn’t be so demanding, given the position you’re in, but I’ll comply with humoring you. My name is Conlaoch. My kind, created by the guardian angels of heaven, occurred during the great battle resulting in Lucifer going his fiery confinement. During the battle, demons found away to camouflage themselves as humans to live among them. The angels knew demons were disguised as humans. However, they couldn’t fully detect them within the crowd because of the little sliver of evil within all mortals. Nevertheless, to avoid the horrible slaughter of innocent mortals, they came up with a plan. They searched for mortals with the strongest wills, physical abilities, hearts, minds and souls to ensure they survived the archangel’s experiment without dying or eventually becoming monsters the angels would have to kill. The chosen mortals willingly accepted for their own various reasons and therefore the angels enacted the Blood Ritual. They mixed their own blood with the blood of the demons they killed and fed the mixture to the mortals turning them into what I am today. I was the first they created." He took a slight pause and continued. "The angels needed to know who was clean of demon blood and the only way to know was by drinking the mortals blood. Clean blood is bitter, but sweet and it would not affect the angels, but tainted blood is rancid, sludge. Thick and incredibly hot. It is worse than rotting flesh in the hot sun.”

“Why couldn’t the angels drink the tainted blood? They're protected by the Creator.” Esmeralda asked incredulously.

Conlaoch continued, shaking his head and still taping the blade he held in his hand against his folded arms. “If the angels drank the blood of the fallen they would have tainted souls and could turn into demons themselves. Lower-rank angels took the risk for the greater cause and drank the mixture, but they eventually reached a point where God couldn't save them. Eventually, they became infected as well. Twisting into a demon and eventually murdering other angels. Best case scenario, they would become too dark to turn back and fall from heaven. So when it comes to me and my kind, we are a concoction of true good, true evil and mortal, God can save us if we ever died. Our mortal side is already corrupted by the evil of original sin. However, if the more sinister side of the blood-lust were to overrule someone like me, they wouldn't be saved. Being a group of forty, we are only a measly thirteen because corruption overcame them and they had to become destroyed. Before then, we were successful in our aid and Heaven reigned victorious with your breeds' helping abilities as well. Over time, my kind became dormant, but we existed in an endless life still craving the blood of corrupted mortals. It is a driving force, if we don’t answer to this overwhelming desire the pain is unbearable and the consequences are dire for us. We lose our minds and slaughter thousands. Ironically, saving the mortals from demons to only become as a source of food for us through the years. However, it's not all gruesome. We did find a few other perquisites than distinguishing a demon from a mortal. Within our dormancy some of my kind, including myself, developed different abilities that prove useful. Some can alter their victim’s thoughts and actions and others can shapeshift into whatever creature walks this world. Some found they could take someone’s senses away, making them blind, deaf, mute and paralyzed for as long as they want. Like I did with you."

Esmeralda grew even more confused and angry and she snarled her reply. “I've heard enough! I'm not a Half-Born. I'm a Beast Blood. A leading elder to my people. What does all of what you've said have to do with me?”

He mysteriously smirked at her. “Well, my darling, I’ll have to taste your blood to figure that out.”


Photo Source/Credit: Unknown

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Flames to the Beast Book #1 (Full chapter One: A Moment Too Late)

A MOMENT TOO LATE

Fortaleza, Brazil
January 23rd, 1881


Rushing down the narrow alleyway, Leonardo made his way through the darkness in panic. While stealing brief glances behind him, he continued to run at his fastest pace. He was oblivious to the sleeping homeless man sprawled out on his back in the middle of the stone path. Leonardo didn't look ahead until it was too late. He stumbled forward when his bare foot slipped under the man's back and kicked his rib cage.
The old man startled awake from the forceful impact and swift insult. His bloodshot eyes bulged from his sunken, bearded face as he rolled on his side coughing hard. He took ragged intakes of breath as his doubling, and swirling vision tried to focus. Finally, he found the blurred silhouette of the man who awoke him. Knowing where to aim his words, the old man began to swear at Leonardo in slurred speech.
Leonardo broke his fall by pressing his hands against the jagged stone walls of the buildings. He steadied his tall, lean body from falling to the ground, and felt the pain of the ridged stone rub hard against his calloused hands and knew it had left gouges into his palms. He dropped his arms, and the stark color of his blood was staining the sandstone walls on each side of him.
"Jesus!" Leonardo said with an exasperated sigh. He knew if someone from his clan was tracking him, it had become easier now. They would smell his blood on the walls, recognize it as his and follow his course by his undeniable scent. Leonardo continued a hurried walk to prevent any more accidents from occurring. He clenched his bleeding hands and shoved them into the pockets of his trousers. His anger, already beyond its capacity, became unleashed toward the man.

Leonardo cocked his head to the side and growled over his shoulder. "Drunken fuck. Get the hell out of the alley!"
The old timer replied with a loud snore signifying he’d receded into an alcohol induced sleep. “Fucking forget it,” Leonardo whispered under his breath and kept walking. If he had time he would've made an example out of the man by putting fear into the last fragments of life the old drunk had left. Although Leonardo wouldn't waste his final moments of freedom on such a person when an agenda needed to become upheld. His mood turned darker, matching his grim features when he thought about his plan. There were three men, and Leonardo was going to kill them. He knew his actions would become justified since they were Halfbreeds. In other words, humans possessed without redemption. Leonardo could tell these particular men were mortals with demonic souls. They had soulless black eyes, sunken into their narrow faces and reeked of rotting flesh. He knew they were responsible for the massacres of the half devoured mortals they had found scattered on the outskirts of town. He was going to rid of them by waiting for the exact moment when he would become their ultimate killer. In doing so, it would prove to Eli that he could take care of himself without giving away their existence. Leonardo felt fidgety and anxious about enacting his plan. He had been planning this for a while and knew exactly where to go and what to do when he got there. The men resided in a familiar tavern located in the slums of the city. Leonardo remembered the place of ill repute well since he used to spend days at a time partaking in all the pleasures they provided.
Leonardo ran the back of his hand across his forehead. He was sweating profusely, and had suddenly bent forward, twisting from the waving onslaught of trembling pain. Working through his suffering, Leonardo willed his feet to keep moving. He needed to be quicker within his plan since he wasn’t untraceable and time was against him in more ways than one. With the moon entering its high point of the night, Leonardo was getting called on and so shot a glance toward the sky. Assessing the teasing moon, he saw the brightness of the full watchful orb. It was hanging low to the earth taunting him to reach out and touch it. He longed to succumb to it when it began wielding its ancient power over his stirring blood. It demanded him to transform. Breaking free from the trance, Leonardo gnashed his teeth and held back the inner beast that pained him for release. “Not yet,he growled as he looked away from the sky and the moon's haunting gaze, scowling. Even the moon was forbidding him to take another step forward. But he wasn't going to turn back. More than determined, he kept walking to the outskirts and slums of the blooming city before it was too late.
Blasting through the silence, the crashing crates and splintering wood sounded behind him. Paranoid someone was following close on his trail; Leonardo suspiciously scanned the dreary surroundings. Suddenly a blurred shadow caught the corner of his eyes as it bolted down the narrow alley, and with such warning came the sound of boots clacking in the stone. Leonardo turn and ran like a fugitive on the run. Rushing, he turned right into another alleyway, then down another and proceeded onward. Thrilled, to see the oil lamp illuminating the back entrance of the tavern, he grew fidgety in his excitement. He was almost there, and it didn’t seem as if anyone was coming for him anymore. The salty breeze blew from the Atlantic and swirled around him. It wafted the putrid smells of mortals and animals that had sat stagnant a moment ago. Leonardo’s heightened sense of smell amplified their horrific compounds and his stomach churned. He bent over again in pain waiting for the bile that threatened to rise from the back of his throat. His eyes glistened with a sheen coating, glowing when they reflected the flames of the oil lamps. Every sound and detail around him collaborated through his elevated awareness with precise accuracy. He didn’t know how much longer he could fight against the instinct to change. Grunting in pain, Leonardo tightly closed his eyes against the radiating torment. Effectively, he willed his concentration to his rampant thoughts. After a few moments, the agony numbed and he could walk again, but in slower shuffles than before.

Son of a bitch. What choice was there for me? She wanted him, and I needed the money. He cut his words short when he reflected the passing memory, allowing several more to flood his concentration. He used the anger he felt as an aid to block the pain and to make the last several yards possible to walk.
After their parent’s death, and before Eli and Roslyn had married in short order last July, Roslyn's name was under horrible scandal. Rumors about her swirled off the sharp tongues of high society and began to spread like a plague. She became shunned because of Leonardo’s shameless lifestyle. Even more so, after it became known they hadn’t a penny to their name; the creditors and gossips spread the truth of how he had used their entire family fortune for his selfish pleasures in the slums of society. No reliable person would accept his name as credit or his word as truth. So, he decided he would borrow money from those that held practices of a shady nature. In trade for money, Leonardo gave them the ownership papers of the family businesses. Next, he had sold their many homesteads and family heirlooms. Then, the time came to sell the furniture. Their house had become turned out in the middle of the street where everyone stared at their misfortune. After the last cabinet had sold, there was nothing left, but the small townhouse they resided in. During all times of the night and day more creditors had pounded on their doors demanding their payment.
They fell even deeper into poverty and closer to danger. Leonardo couldn’t even leave the house without becoming muscled into a nearby alley and beaten senseless by hired thugs. He even had been shot in the kneecaps as a final warning. Desperate for freedom and money, Leonardo had considered selling Roslyn into prostitution. He knew he could’ve gotten a high offer for her. At the time, she had been a virgin in prime youth with flawless features. Men and even some women would've paid significantly for her. However, he couldn't take the idea of her pure heart dying to the constant hardships that lifestyle would've brought her. Especially after experiencing the demented pleasures the winner would force upon her.
Sickened that such a thought would even cross his mind, he grew angry and threw his watered down whiskey into the fire while crying for her. Since their parent’s death, she had depended on him. She looked up to him like she used to do to Father. He wasn’t close to the man their father was, but Leonardo wasn't so into himself to subject Roslyn to that type of unhappy existence. She deserved a better life than what he provided for them. A respectable man with a solid name and excellent prospects was the ideal suitor for her. Still, such a man of wealth wouldn't have her for an acceptable wife. The other members of a potential husband's family would never accept what they thought was a charity case. Nor would they ever accept him as her brother. It was too late. Marked with bad blood, Roslyn became scorned to the status of a lowly whore in quality clothing. Months went by and marrying Roslyn off seemed impossible. Until one day when a man named Keller Luis Costa had wanted her hand in marriage.
A tightening feeling of repulsion entered in his stomach as he recalled meeting Keller. Leonardo still regretted opening the door and allowing his introduction. He remembered Keller had smiled at him, revealing his dull, shifted teeth that were unnaturally pointed. The young man's eager smile didn't calm Leonardo's uneasy feeling about Keller. It only made Leonardo more determined in his answer and course of action. Taking off his black wide-brim hat, Keller unveiled his head of thinning white hair. Even his eyebrows were so pale against his skin that they appeared nonexistent. Keller’s thin lips turned even paler as they spread over his sharp features while he introduced himself.
Blankly responding on cue, Leonardo flowed through the conversation as he looked the man over. Keller was homely with sunken eyes, a sharp pointed nose and sloping light blue eyes. Keller appeared to be close to Roslyn's age, but he looked diseased and near death. The white skin on his hands contained no marks, and his face appeared smooth. Keller’s skin had a translucent sheen confirming a sickness plagued him enough to keep him from the elements for years. The weird combination of his appearance and pitch black apparel shrouded him in an underlying viciousness.
Also, what gave away the sinister thoughts of the smiling man was his eyes. The bluish-white orbs held promises of twisted desires and unnatural acts of pleasure. He remembered stopping Keller during his structured speech. He sternly told Keller he wouldn't condone the request for his marriage to Roslyn. Keller, of course, pressed his advancements harder intending to sway Leonardo’s mind. Yet, Leonardo was firm when stating that his reasons were his own. Unsatisfied with that response, Keller became enraged and slammed his stout hand against the closing door. His pale skin flushed with color, and his eyes turned whiter while he bared his stained teeth, revealing his blood-red gums. He even sounded different than moments before. His smooth voice turned to a deep snarl, demanding to know the reasons for his rejection.
Leonardo became defensive and prepared to defend the doorway. He pressed his weight against it and hoped Roslyn wouldn’t walk down the stairs during their confrontation. He slowly reached for the pistol that he carried with him, which became a habit after the hired thugs had shot him. Leonardo remembered he had a firm grasp on the smooth wooden handle of the pistol. Not alarming Keller of the weapon he had housed in the back of his trousers, Leonardo had managed to tell him to leave.
Keller lunged at him, and Leonardo had pulled the pistol from its hiding place. With a hard thrust, he pressed the barrel against Keller's chest and lingered it over his heart. A hard silence fell between them. Keller looked at his chest and snapped his cold gaze to him. Murderous thoughts occupied his emotions while logic and impulse created an inner turmoil. Noticeably, Keller slowly relaxed his stance. Yet, his trembling hands made his fury purely evident.
He glared at Leonardo and venom filled his words as he threatened him in Leonardo's native tongue. "Cuidado con la oscuridad, voy a matarte dentro de sus sombras!"
Leonardo clenched his jaw as his anxiety turned into anger and replied coldly. "I like to see you try bastard.” Upon those words Keller gave him a tight smirk, left the front porch and walked into the pouring summer rain. Leonardo slammed the door and locked it behind him as he ran the words of Keller’s threat through his mind. "Beware the dark; I'll kill you within its shadows." That was the last he had seen of Keller.
Several weeks passed when Roslyn had another caller come, but this time, it was by her invitation. Leonardo remembered walking into the house, and Roslyn was in a lover’s embrace with a strange tall man. Habitually carrying his weapon, Leonardo pointed the gun at him and demanded to know who he was. Unafraid of the gun and being caught with Roslyn, Eli walked with ease to Leonardo and introduced himself. Being that Roslyn loved her childhood friend, Eli had quickly become part of the family. In short order they had married, Eli gained the account books and the notes of debt that accumulated under Roslyn’s name that Leonardo had credited. Evidently furious to the point he appeared deadly calm, Eli paid all debt owed to the creditors and loan sharks with Leonardo shamefully in tow. Then began the growing resentment between them.
Lost in thought, he relived the night when the truth became revealed the existence of creatures that had been real to him only in myth. Since the beginning of civilization, Beast Bloods blended amongst humanity. During the day, they were watchers keeping their awareness alerted for possible threats. At night, Beast Bloods transformed and became the mortals’ protectors from the hidden evils the world possessed. Through the centuries, there were times when the truth became known to the humans. But, uncomprehending of the purpose Beast Bloods had, fear ruled them. Breakouts of mass panic spread amongst villages and kingdoms. They set fires to the forests and the homes of the accused, destroying acres of land in hopes to draw out the werewolves. They slaughtered thousands of innocent people and drew the attention of countless demonic entities. During the years of destruction, over thousands of mortals and Beast Bloods died in the hysteria and chaos. Halfborns and Halfbreeds prolonged the hunts after bodiless demons began possessing the youths. Then their numbers grew triple fold. Unable to fight the mortals and to stop their courses of action, they became fearful. Pushing their purpose aside, Beast Bloods went into hiding to protect their families from the fires that would kill them. After that, the world went quiet.
Centuries passed, and humanity’s beliefs changed with the advancement of technology. Society forced analytical logic and the study of progressive sciences to explain their fears. The supernatural became tainted by reason and became nothing more than entertainment. Fortunately, this allowed the Beast Bloods existence to become quickly forgotten. Even so, the few superstitious people who still believed feared and enabled folklore around the world. Then, over time that’s exactly what it became, legend and folklore.
Being a worldly man, Leonardo once thought the stories came from the deluded imaginations of the mentally altered. Until his viewpoint changed when he had an encounter of his own. Without much choice, Leonardo had become a lupinotuum. Nearly a year has passed and by his clan’s standards he was still a newborn werewolf. He hadn’t become bitten as the folklore made one believe that’s how a mortal could become a Beast Blood. A mortal has to willingly drink the blood of a werewolf to become one. That’s how it had happened for him. Given to him in a silver chalice, Leonardo drank the blood of his brother-in-law, Eli. He grimaced in his hatred when he thought of Eli and how it all began with his usual night out.
As usual, the day started out with rounds of gambling and drinking tequila at a deteriorating tavern named The Wicked Snake. Being a creature of habit, it had ended with a dark haired, brown eyed, fair looking prostitute. Together they had nakedly indulged in the pleasures, and he’d tirelessly received his monies worth out of what she’d offered. Hours passed, and he couldn’t withstand the intoxicating mixture of drunkenness and endless release. Refusing to stop he eventually blacked out on the floor of the whore’s room.
Some time later, he’d awoken by a cold bucket of water splashing over him. The shock of the freezing water hitting his overly hot skin caused him to bolt upright in the chair. He’d felt a rush of adrenaline shooting through his body when he became aware he was a captive in the middle of a moonlit cellar. He looked around the room fearfully. Neither hearing or seeing anyone, he’d fought against the constraints that cut mercilessly into his flesh. He knew he wasn’t an honest man and had made countless enemies that wanted him dead. Realizing he couldn't break free, Leonardo tried reasoning and pleading for his freedom. He even went as far as promising the gathering of money he owed to them. After a silence had ringed in his ears, he knew he was alone and waited for his captor to emerge from the darkness that shrouded the solitary beam of moonlight.
Immediately, the harsh squeak of an iron door sounded throughout the room. After a few moments of waiting for a gruff man to emerge from the darkness with a weapon in hand, he was shocked when he saw the angelic face of a smiling woman, whose flesh was hauntingly pale in the silver moonlight. Startled, he swallowed a large intake of breath and began coughing uncontrollably. The woman rushed into the beam of light, reaching out to him and he could finally recognize her as his sister, Roslyn. He put his head down as he relaxed his tense muscles while confusion crossed his rugged features. She looked apologetic but didn’t move further to help him. He remembered she was going to say something to him, but before she could, Eli's booming voice echoed around him in the spacious room.
Without the mincing of words, Eli revealed his secrets of his family name and their longevity as Beast Bloods. Then, he had emerged into the moonlight before he walked around him. Thus, he proceeded to tell Leonardo what he had turned Roslyn into, and claimed it was his turn to become fully part of the clan. That’s why they tied him to a chair. They needed his full cooperation if he was to reign as a full member of the Santos family.
Broken from the memory by another crippling round of pain, Leonardo screamed through his teeth. He recognized this stage of the process. His muscles were tearing from the bones and tendons as they shaped into a distorted form. Accompanied by violent spasms and broken ribs, his body convulsed. Time was running out. He needed to transform, but it had to wait. He was more than halfway there to the tavern, and he couldn’t enter it already a monster. Gnashing his teeth together, he still progressed through the pain and went back to his numbing thoughts. Scoffing upon his past beliefs, Leonardo remembered his skepticism even then. He thought it all was a cruel joke well played. He demanded to be set free from the accursed chair. However, they didn’t move and only proceeded with what they had intended. Suddenly, Eli had gruesomely transformed in front of Leonardo by the will of the commanding moonlight. Eli’s black eyes never left Leonardo's fearful gaze.
Leonardo couldn't deny the truth of their story. He’d seen Eli transform and heard his sister’s conjoining screams of her metamorphosis come from the shadows behind him. The massive creatures they had become caused fear to clog his throat. The sight of blood, the undeniable sound of cracking, shifting bones as they took shape in their monstrous forms; it was still a fresh image in his mind. Then silently, Eli moved from the light into the shadowed darkness of the cellar. Leonardo couldn't see or hear what they were doing and cranked his neck as far as he could to observe where they would emerge.
After that, Eli's overly large hand, which looked to be a strange mixture of man and beast, had emerged from the darkness into the beam of moonlight. He still could picture Eli's clawed grasp was around a silver chalice full of thickened blood. Eli had slowly thrust the glittering item in front of Leonardo's frightened face. He remembered looking upward to see Eli’s silhouette was lightly touched by the silver light of the moon as his eyes glowed within the shadows. Leonardo had refused, but Eli shoved the cup up to his mouth. At that moment, Leonardo knew there wasn't a way to escape if he didn't drink the blood. Eli didn't allow there to be a different way, but his course of action. Leonardo had slowly nodded and willingly accepted the blood from the chalice, and Eli had helped him drink every bitter drop. Then, with a flick of a claw to his constraints, Leonardo was free to go. When he left the cellar, he realized he was in a hidden room in Eli’s family home. With his head spinning from the drink and his heart racing from fear, it all became too much, and the world went black.
It wasn't until the next morning at breakfast when he learned that it was Roslyn's wish to have him, her only sibling, become part of the clan. He remembered embracing her tightly as he stared grimly at Eli. He knew something more came with such a revelation of a well kept secret and lifestyle. It was later that afternoon when Eli had pulled him aside, telling him the responsibilities that came with the blood of a werewolf and being part of the Santos clan. Leonardo vaguely listened while only catching the information that would pertain to his selfish desires. The chance to live a thousands lives over in the constant pleasures he dabbled in was what most mortals in his position would kill to have. It was a second chance at a life that would last forever.
Within the hour, the horrible sickness had come with endless chills from fever, tormenting pain and gut wrenching vomit. His mortal blood was thinning from his veins as the blood of the beast took over. When the night descended again, he awoke from his day of fitful rest and saw the moon gazing at him from the window like a childhood friend calling him out to play. In a trance he rose from the overly warm bed, naked. As if a hidden instinct controlled his body, he understood what he had to do to rid the ailment from his body. He walked through the field that laid behind the mansion Eli and Roslyn owned. Obediently, he waited for the moon to accept him into the blood. Then, it did. Quickly and painfully, his bones snapped. They twisted, bending into shape as blood poured through the ribbons of his falling skin. He shed his human bindings completing his first transformation. There he stood bewildered and Eli, along with Roslyn, stood beside him and guided him through his first night being a newly born werewolf.

Subjected to be forever his minion, Leonardo thought bitterly. He cursed his actions for being submissive to Eli’s command right from the start. His anger toward his brother-in-law caused his mind to race to the present and solidify his plan. Frustration overcame him as well as more horrific pain. He fell to his knees, dry heaving, convulsing. He waited, but the vomit that stung his throat wouldn’t rise further. He was suffering by denying the moon his powerful ability. He cursed to himself as he thought of Eli forcing this way of life on him. He didn’t want to remain a slave to Eli’s command any longer. Eli always told him how to run his new life and treated him like an unruly child. He would go to his usual places of dwelling, and Eli would find him. Leonardo would become dragged out of his seat and from the tavern before a single drink could race down his gullet. Eli even had other members of the clan spy on him as he walked about the town. The tight reign on him was becoming even more constricting. Before he could lay down the cards or the women, Leonardo would become tossed from the taverns. Always, Eli would be waiting for him to take him home. Everything he did became controlled, and his free will began to fade. The lines of tension between Eli and him were thin fraying pieces of rope that had finally snapped.
Several hours ago, Leonardo was asleep, sharing a bed with several paid women when Eli burst through the wooden door. Starting them awake, Eli stomped to the middle of the room. His grim face and solid black eyes held unspoken anger directed at Leonardo. In one swift move, he threw his clothes at him and turned around, waiting for him to assemble himself. Leonardo was immediately enraged. He couldn’t take the high-handed treatment anymore. He couldn’t withstand another night of unspoken judgment that swam behind his hard features. Leonardo lunged from the bed and had attacked Eli. Evidently stronger, Eli grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground. He heard the women behind him scream in shock, and remembering he had a mortal audience; he commanded them to leave. Leonardo laid on his back staring blankly at the ceiling before Eli’s powerful body clouded his vision. Eli had grabbed Leonardo by the collar of his shirt and finally released his anger. The cautionary words of Eli still rang through his head.You fucking fool, you’re wasting yourself, Leonardo. No longer are you a mortal to remain irresponsible in this manner. You're going to expose yourself and the clan. You’ll kill us all if you're not careful! That's why you are constantly under a watchful eye. Now, get dressed. You’re a disgrace to your name and your sister’s vision of you.
Hatred overcame him again as Leonardo spit on the ground at the thought. He would rather die before anyone told him how to run his life. Now, he was in charge of his destiny. Not the clan, not his sister and in particular, not the high and mighty clan master, Eli. He knew how they all viewed him, and he didn't care. So, tonight he had decided to prove he was a leader. As the others moved like mindless animals to answer the Calling, he slipped from the group. He was going to bring Eli the dead Halfbreeds as a trade for his freedom from the clan. He wanted his old life back, but with all the perks of his new one.
Hearing something metallic scrap against the stone wall behind him. Leonardo stopped walking and breaking from his bitter thoughts. The aura around him suddenly changed. He focused his highly sensitive hearing while trying to catch the slightest difference, but the sound was gone. After a few passing moments, his attention was on his plan again. He stood before the tavern, La Cabeza de la Cabra. He could hear the gruff voice of owner, a loud portly Spaniard named Rico, singing a crude melody about a woman’s sexual adventures. The crowd enjoyed every word he sang as the loud rowdy cheers of excited men and lusty women replied on cue. Leonardo curled his lips to feign a relaxed smile as he walked forward, ready to transform inside. As he proceeded forward to the lively tavern, a new sound quickly entered his attuned hearing. The strange jangled noise grew increasingly louder on the stone path. Immediately recognizing the sound was of heavy boots swiftly running behind him, he spun around ready to attack.
Fuck, they found me, he screamed in his head as he released a loud yell to his attacker. Leonardo's expression of fanatical anger faded as he gazed upon the empty alley. Expeditiously his mind began to place his hidden attacker strategically. He wasn't foolish enough to doubt his senses. Someone was there playing with him. They were waiting for another moment to catch him off guard as they remained cloaked in the darkness. Someone was watching him. He coiled his body as an eerie tingling sensation crawled across his flesh. While he stared into the shadowed alley, the subtle breeze of the warm ocean air blew harder. The wind swirled passed him, teasing his long brown hair and his loose fitting clothes. He could feel the wind had grown colder, and the nature of the night had changed into something more sinister. Leonardo leaned his head back inhaling, filling his lungs with the chill air while searching for the unseen figure. His nostrils flared as the smell of mortals, food, and freshly spilled ale engulfed him. Within the dense mixture, he had caught the faint and familiar smell of iron and leather.
Leonardo's lime green eyes burst open as the nocturnal sheen of the glowing orbs reflected in the moonlight. He whipped around as he cast his gaze skyward locating his follower. Keller stood silent and unwaveringly still within the circle of the pale moonlight. He stared down at Leonardo from the rooftop of the tavern readying himself for battle. Leonardo glared to see the rest of his face, but it remained hidden underneath his billowing hood. He noticed Keller had armed himself in tight ebony armor, which blended him in the darkness. Leonardo saw Keller’s gloved hands twitch in murderous anticipation near the black handles of the blades resting on his slender hips.

He snarled, understanding Keller’s intent. "I see you're trying to keep your promise. I take it you've been following me for quite some time. You know what I am now." Leonardo hissed through his white, clenched teeth as he shot a piercing look at the unresponsive silhouette. "Since you're well equipped for our fight, then allow me to become prepared as well." Leonardo ceased to resist the Calling painfully and let it come forth. He felt his breath getting shorter while his heart pounded harder within his chest. Spreading his arms outward, Leonardo took a mocking bow toward Keller, pressing his hand to his heart. As he looked up at him, a dark flash crossed his features, and he flicked his eyes toward the full moon. Finally, Leonardo said to himself as he prepared for what was to come.
His eyes enlarged as the possessive moon wielded its ancient power over his responsive body. Still bent forward, Leonardo's torso quickly twisted as his bones began to break. The silver light of the moon consumed his flesh as his blood boiled underneath his thinning skin. His echoing yells of agony filled the quiet alley while his skin began to tear across his expanding muscles. His bones began to puncture through his skin and blood ran down his mangled body in pouring streaks. He clawed at his clothing to free himself from the clinging material, which dripped with sweat and fresh blood. He fell to the ground holding himself up with his hands and knees. His screams became gurgled growls as his jaw broke and his human features began to distort from the reformation of his skull. Leonardo could feel grinding bones in his limbs and spine break only to elongate, mending to take shape into a massive creature. Twitching through the unbearable pain, chunks of his flesh fell from his body and into a nearly black crimson puddle. Fur darted over his tougher rejuvenating flesh, completing the transformation.
Leonardo suddenly realized the music and laughter from the once lively tavern had stopped. Residing on all fours with his eyes focusing on the stone path, Leonardo inhaled deep, shaky breaths of air into his enlarged lungs. Quickly, he shook his matted dark brown fur of remaining flesh and blood. Rising from the ground, Leonardo stood on his hind legs. Piercing screams echoed in his ears as he caught sight of stumbling men and women pouring from the tavern. They scattered from him, knowing they had seen a man becoming a monster of legend. Realizing he had transformed in the public eye, Leonardo immediately regretted leaving the others. But it was too late. The element of surprise was gone, and they all knew who he was. He looked back at the dispersing crowd and seen the three men he planned on killing escape. He couldn't kill them all, even if he wanted too. He couldn’t find them all to keep them from telling the rest of the town. Even if he could, Keller would surely prevent him from doing a complete job of it.
Suddenly, Leonardo realized Keller had followed him from the moment he left the clan. He knew it was the perfect opportunity stake his revenge, and Leonardo had played the greatest part of Keller’s plan. Regret filled his murderous anger as he snapped his glowing eyes on Keller's face. Leonardo started this and knew it needed to end tonight. He howled at his enemy in murderous fury.
Keller laughed from the roof of the tavern in pleasure at the sight of Leonardo's dismay. "You are the strangest combination of fool and genius.” He paused for a moment to assess Leonardo’s thoughts and came to a conclusion. “I can see by the way you're watching me you remember who I am. Ah, but how? How do you remember me? You might remember me as the lovesick man of wealth and moral fiber wanting to marry your darling sister. But, then again, that was almost a year ago.” Keller challenged him. He had waited for so long to kill Leonardo, and now he had a just cause to do it.
He laughed again seeing Leonardo hadn't a clue to who he truly was and what power he possessed. "We'll let me enlighten you then. I am untouchable, wolf. Anything I say is truth to my Masters and the thousands of knights I command. I could kill you tonight and claim you were the long awaited and feared werewolf. Then, I would still be the hero of my people and to your people, and no one would doubt me. Especially after your incredibly dramatic display here tonight. Although there maybe be one doubting man. Maybe perhaps, you're brother in law, Eli? He would doubt me wouldn't he?"

Leonardo loudly snarled at the mention of his brother in law. Like before, he feared for Roslyn's safety from the crazed man that brought back rushed dread and anxiety. His heart pounded faster, and he roared a threat while taking a step forward.

Keller released another hearty laugh as he paced the edge of the roof. "Leonardo, I feel joyous tonight. I feel like celebrating because of how much of a fucking idiot you are!” He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth and clicked. In a mocking scold, he shook his head in feigned disappointment before laughing at him again. "Slinking away from your clan just to transform in the middle of the city with hundreds of witnesses watching your frightening performance?” He flicked a brow as his voice took a sly undertone. “I guess I can use this to my advantage. After I kill you, I’ll tell the Order Masters you were attacking everyone here. Thus, I just simply did my job and protected the mortals with your death.” He heard Leonardo growl at him. “ Really? Who would say anything different? The innocent citizens that ran from the tavern? The Order?" He smiled maliciously. "No, tonight will be special for us. I'll do what I know how. You can struggle if you want, it'll just add to the immense pleasure I'll feel when I destroy you, demon."

Leonardo growled and snapped as he yelled in head. "Then you should slice your throat for you are truly more a demon than I! I see your soul, and it's blacker than any sin I have committed!"

Keller rolled his eyes as he removed the hood from his head and began walking the edge of the roof, back and forth. "You know I can't understand you. But, I'm sure you said that you repent and want to die. You’ll become free soon enough from the curse of that demon, Eli, had put upon you. After you die, Eli will too. Then, of course, there is the matter of Roslyn, which I'm sure is now a corrupted soul too. Maybe your whole clan is evil with the tainted blood of Lucifer.” Keller tauntingly said as his face darkened. “While I'm thinking about it, she'll be the last one I'll have destroyed. Being the commanding leader in my army, I'm sure I could keep her alive. But, only long enough until I've had my fill of her tight little body. Unless, I get bored with her. Maybe I'll kill her while I’m getting off -.”
Hearing enough of Keller’s demented desires, Leonardo's rage couldn’t remain contained any longer. He released an ear-piercing howl while darting toward Keller. Leaping from the alleyway, he landed on the second story balcony of the tavern. Digging the claws of his hands and feet into the thick wood siding, he quickly scurried toward the rooftop. He could hear Keller take his swords from their sheaths and his healed boots stomped along the edge of the roof. Swords ready, Keller lightly tilted his body to see the side of the building. Expecting to find Leonardo's strong form clawing upward, Keller became dumbfounded nothing was there. His eyes dilated wider to see clearer within the darkness of the alley below. He saw nor heard anything. "Where are you, you bastard dog." Keller harshly whispered in the dark.
In reply, a puff of hot breath breezed against the back of his neck. Spinning around, he saw Leonardo’s shining green eyes and snarling fangs. Before Keller could react, Leonardo’s razor sharp claws sliced gouging streaks into Keller’s unmarked face. Taken back, Keller flung himself from the deathly blows of Leonardo's claws. In fluid reaction, he swiped a blessed blade across Leonardo's exposed chest. Forgetting his place on the edge of the roof he began to lose his balance as he stepped back. In reflex, Leonardo grabbed Keller's slender throat preventing his fall. In a quick motion, he turned around and slammed Keller’s body onto the slate roof.
Shards of red slate and splintering wood exploded from the impact of Keller's body going through the ceiling. Falling to the second story floor, Keller Landed flat on his back on a wooden table. He heard the crunching of glass bottles underneath his body as a whoosh of air deflated from his lungs. Disoriented from the fall, he tried to focus his vision by looking through the vast hole in the ceiling. But the light from the burning oil lamps in the spacious room made it impossible to peer outward. Materializing from the air, Leonardo jumped through the gap. Leonardo saw Keller roll off the table the last second before his body landed on top of him. Keller bustled off the ground. Reaching behind him, he removed hidden daggers from the crossed sheaths on his back. Keller grabbed the handles of the weapons and launched them in a precise sequence as Leonardo marched toward him. Swiftly, Leonardo dodged the first dagger with ease. The heard the thud of the knife shatter an oil lamp into bursting flames as it stuck into the wall behind him. Leonardo roared with pain as several had pierced through his chest. He fell on his knees.
Keller swelled with victory at the sight of his opponent falling. He relished in the sound of the daggers slicing through Leonardo's thick skin. He saw the flames of the broken oil lamp licking the side of the walls. It began spreading to the tossed blankets on the large, wooden bed. The room became brighter as the fire greedily consumed all in its way. Keller hastily walked to Leonardo. Before he reached him, Leonardo stood back up, blocking most of the light of the inferno behind him. Gnashing his teeth together, Leonardo glared at Keller's smug face in defiance. Slowly, he pulled each dagger from his chest, and dropping the last blade to the ground; blood streamed from the wounds. As soon as the knives were gone Leonardo's skin quickly mended together. Straightening himself to stand on his feet, Leonardo looked more monstrous than before. More than eager to finish the quarrel as the victor, he howled an ear-piercing battle cry. Unexpectedly he heard a howl merge with his own and knew Eli was nearby. His ears perked and he turned to the sound of Eli's forthcoming. Pride overcame him. If he killed the betraying Commander of the Holy Order, Eli would respect him and would be forever in his debt.
Keller uncovered his ears from the thunderous bellow as a fury, hotter than the flames that surround them, burst forth. Screaming at the top of his lungs he dropped his hands and charged at Leonardo, catching him unaware. Together they entered the inferno of the flames.

Eli had smelled Leonardo's blood on the stone walls and followed the undeniable scent. Running past a sleeping mortal, he was unsure if Leonardo left his blood behind to throw him off his trail. However, it was Leonardo's howl of fighting rage that confirmed Eli was on the right path. He released a howl of passing outrage and rising trepidation. Leonardo's well-being was the fuel that drove him harder through the dark alleyway. Sending a quick prayer to the heavens, Eli ran through the engulfing black smoke. Swirling puffs filled the sky, blackening the light of the moon and creating a stark darkness. Eli blended in perfectly because of the jet black color of his fur. The suffocating smoke stung his eyes, burned his throat as it filled his lungs. Knowing he had to get out of the smoke, he ran even harder through it. Quickly, he leaped from the stone path several feet onto a wall and catapulted himself to the rooftop on the opposite side. Being clear from the smoke and able to see once more, Eli's enlarged black eyes mirrored the burning tavern. He rapidly searched his surroundings and couldn't see Leonardo anywhere.
Suddenly, Leonardo's screams of agony within the burning flames of the hellfire broke through and his heart stopped. His worst nightmare had become a reality. Eli ran across the roofs of the buildings trying to reach Leonardo in time. He saw the flames were progressing and bursting through the windows on the lowest level of the tavern.
With every passing second, the flames weakened the wooden structure, and the chances of saving Leonardo were thin. Leonardo's howls become faint compared to the drying timbers loudly cracking. He saw the roof of the building collapsing inward. In a sudden explosion of fire, flaming embers and debris flew through the night sky. Smoke billowed in the form of a mushroom cloud from the shifting building. Eli quickly halted and the momentum of his speed caused him to skid across the roof and fall on his side.
He couldn't hear the horrific cries of Leonardo and knew death had consumed him with the flames. Eli's heart sank into his stomach as it churned in revulsion. He arrived a moment too late to save his brother in law. Eli became overwhelmed at the mixture of emotions that had reigned over him. He had failed. Eli closed his eyes while gathering enough breath. In a sharp cry, he released a haunting howl that echoed through the roars of the flame. After a few seconds, he slowly opened his eyes. A dull shine reflected from across the abyss and caught his eye. Through the smoke and flame, he saw a tall, thin man clad in ebony armor standing on the other side of the fiery pit watching the building burn. He recognized the man immediately. Eli could see that ash and blood covered Keller's burnt face as his glittering, smokey white eyes held a victorious sheen. Eli carefully listened as he began to speak to the flame in increasing volume.

"Once I told you to beware the dark, that I would kill you within it. After a year passing, I've kept my word. I might not have of killed you within the dark, but I found you and killed you with fire. With your charred body, I'll make one more promise that I will keep. No matter how long it takes or wherever I have to go, I will kill Eli, and I will have Roslyn for myself. I promise you that. She'll become more lowly than your fucking whores. If you hadn’t denied me, she would've been my wife, and you might have lived longer if you would've just given me her like I wanted! She could've been my wife and me as your brother in law! We could've been family!" Keller shouted violently.
Then, in a flash, he quickly cocked his head and raised his hand as if to settle his violent emotions. After a few seconds of composing himself, he continued to speak again to Leonardo's dead body. "Then once I've had enacted every possible torment I could do to her, I will fuck her one more time. I will leave her still warm body to the those that would do their worse to a corpse. In the far distance, he heard the chime of a church bell. He sneered. “A call to my brethren. I will meet my men and tell them of my side of this sad story. Under my command, they’ll set your clansmen on fire. Happy rotting in hell and taking my place, Leonardo.”
Roslyn. Eli thought of his wife as the shock from the man's words radiated throughout his body. After the man had spat on the fire and left, Eli took that as his cue to leave as well. At breakneck speed, he ran back to Roslyn knowing she would be on the property of his ancestral home with the other werewolves. Eli cursed at himself knowing a larger group was an easy target for the Order to trap and kill. He was living his worst nightmare. The same people that he had trusted had put mark of death upon his family. He snapped his snout and bellowed loudly. If Eli would’ve known sooner, he could’ve cleared the situation before turning Leonardo into a Beast Blood. Then, all that had happened and all that’s going on now could've become prevented. Visions of Roslyn's death clouded his mind. He shook his head desperately trying to clear his mind of all cynical thought. However, horrific images of his people dying plagued his mind. He pushed himself to run faster and harder to rescue Roslyn and to save the others before it was too late for them as well.






Photo Source/Credit: Unknown