Saturday, November 28, 2015

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 2

Saul couldn’t keep up with the long running strides of Charles as he sprinted toward Raven’s mansion. A two legged cat was not enough, so he fell to all fours and raced to catch up as he watched the elf-man’s aurora shift from its usual cool white to gold then on into amber. By the time he caught up with Charles the man was radiating strong amber with spikes of red shooting out from his extremities. Saul surged ahead and threw himself in front of his friend, blocking his way. If he had been a smaller cat Charles would have run him over.

“Stop!” he hollered and rose up to place a paw on Charles’ chest. “If you meet Raven like this you’ll kill each other and it will mean the end of The Realms.”

Raven was everything dark and evil in The Realms. Charles was the light and good. As it stood now, they kept The Realms in balance. Even though the elf-man had no hand in ruling, he was the only one Raven feared. Charles’ presence kept the innocent safe.

“You have to calm down.” The big cat said in a gentling voice. “I don’t know why he took her, but you know he won’t hurt, Simone. Adele was the only woman he has ever loved. He would not hurt her child.”

Saul felt Charles chest rise and fall in deep calming breaths under his paw. He watched as the man regained his control and his aurora shifted slowly back from the angry red to almost the cool white. There was still a tinge of yellow to the edges, but it was a relief to see the white dominate.

Charles was the last living male with a direct lineage to Antelldanor, the son of the King of the Elves of Light. He was the last male Light Bearer. His people moved to The Realms centuries ago to be free of the pollutants in the mundane world. Antelldanor and his people were so pure they could not live in that poisonous atmosphere.

“I thought the ward I placed on the house would keep him out,” Charles said and shook his head. “But, Adele’s acceptance and love for him must have allowed him entry.”

“It’s not your fault. She had faith he would change even after she rejected him.” Saul lowered his paw. “Adele was a good woman and she saw the good in everyone else, no matter how deep it was buried.”

A tear crested Charles’ ice blue eyes and trickled down his cheek. His next breath came with a shutter of emotion. He missed his wife so very much.

“If Raven has done…”

Saul cut across his words. “He won’t harm her. I don’t know what his game is, but I know that much for sure and you do too if you look beyond your anger.”

Charles adjusted his bow to a more comfortable position over his shoulder from where it had fallen during his mad dash toward the manor. Saul was right. Raven wouldn’t hurt Simone, but what game was he playing at?


By the time they reached the mansion it was full on night with the half moon high in the evening sky.

Charles did not let the vampire guard at the door impede his entrance. He burst right past him. The vampire started to fly at Charles, but the man held up his hand sending a force of light which slammed the vampire into the wall, knocking him unconscious.

“Raven!” Charles bellowed, as he stood in the domed entryway.

Several more guards appeared. Saul stood back-to-back with his friend, his tall tufted ears laid back in anger. His tail switched in agitation between Charles' feet behind him.

“Shhhh,” Raven hushed, as he appeared at the doorway to his study. “You’ll wake the baby.” He grinned at his statement, showing fangs. “Come…” he motioned to the intruders. “Stand down,” he ordered his guards. “And get that one out of my sight,” he said pointing at the guard on the floor by the door. “I’ll deal with him later.”

Charles and Saul followed Raven as he turned to go back into the study.

“Where is Simone?” Charles demanded the minute he had the vampire in sight again.

“She’s upstairs sleeping... Sherry?” he asked, as he moved to the sideboard in the corner of the room and picked up the decanter.

“Bring her down immediately,” Charles ordered. His aurora was beginning to glow golden again.

Raven ignored him and continued to pour his drink. “As I said, she is asleep. She had a very busy day playing with Tabitha and she needs her rest.”

Charles’ fists flexed and unflexed at his sides in anger. “I am not leaving here without her.”

“Of course, you aren’t,” Raven said, as he sat down in a wing-backed chair by the fire. “But I am not going to let you leave until I have spoken with you.”

“Is that why you took her, to blackmail me into running some sort of devil’s errand for you?”

“I took her because I knew you would not see me if I came to you, and you would not come to me if I summonsed you.” Raven calmly took a sip of his sherry. “I knew if I took her, you would come and you would listen. I would never harm her and you may take her when you leave.”

Charles eyed the vampire suspiciously. “Bring her down.”

“No,” Raven stated flatly. “I don’t need a whining, tired, two year old crying while I am trying to talk to you.” He turned to Saul. “Be a good kitty and put Charles’ mind to rest. Go upstairs, first door on the right, and check on her. You can come back and tell us of her sweet dreams.”

Saul growled at the vampire, but he nodded his head toward Charles and trotted out of the study to check on Simone.

Vampire and elf waited in a silent standoff until Saul returned.

“She is asleep, as he said and Tabitha is with her. For what it is worth, she assured me she would not let anything happened to her,” Saul reported.

“Now, please sit,” Raven invited with a wave of his hand toward the other chair by the fire.

Charles removed his bow and quiver. Saul took them and remained standing, leaning against the door jamb within hearing of all that took place in the house. One tall, tufted ear swiveled toward the staircase. If anyone should open the child’s door upstairs he would recognize the soft creak it made when he entered. He could bound up the stairs in an instant. However, he believed Raven. The vampire did not take the child for any other reason than to get his elven friend to appear.

Charles took the chair opposite the master of the house. He leaned back and studied the vampire’s aurora. He could see what Adele saw in him. Yes, he was evil, but there was something there that was more. A spark, that had it kindled, it may have once grown to be a flame lighting the way for good, but it had been dowsed by the turning of his soul when he became Raven, the vampire.

Raven swirled the sherry in his glass. He was not privy to Charles’ thoughts. If he had been, he would have denied it. He was convinced he was evil through and through, and quite proud of it.

“I have a situation. I need your assistance with solving it,” he began to explain. “One of my vampire’s has gone rouge.”

Charles knew Raven kept his people on a short leash. They were allowed to hunt, but rouge was a term implying this particular vampire was out of Raven’s control.

“He was the gatekeeper at one of the south gates,” Raven continued.

That statement spoke volumes to Charles and Saul. Gate duty was assigned to vampires who displeased Raven in some way. Usually, it was assigned to those who did not give into their blood-lust and refused to drink human blood. They subsisted on hunting and animal blood. Assigning them to a gate, which they were not allowed to leave without incurring dire wrath from their leader, basically starved them because they were not allowed to hunt. Raven’s intention was to starve them enough that they would eventually give into their blood-lust and take some innocent passing through their gate. It looked like Raven accomplished his desires with the ‘south gate’ vampire watcher.

“He hoped to keep me unaware of his behavior by leaving this area of The Realms. He took a series of gates through the Land of Sand and Stone to the Land of the Fire Demons. There he came upon a human male and a young boy child. He supped and left.”

Raven stopped to take a sip of his sherry. Charles and Saul made no comment. They waited for the vampire to continue.

“Little did he know that the man and child he killed were the husband and son of Azur, the Fire Demon.”

Oh, yeah, Saul thought, this was enough to scare any vampire. Fire Demons ate vampires for supper. They were the only creatures vampires were collectively afraid of.

“As you can imagine, Azur is upset,” Raven said as an understatement. “The vampire in question has gone into hiding, or I would offer him up as penance. I have been told she is on her way here. When she arrives, there will be loss of life not only in the vampire community, but also among the innocent humans and other beings in this area of The Realms. They will no doubt be caught up in the battle between my people and the demon. I know you care about the good in The Realms.”

Raven leaned back. His sherry finished. “My guards cannot stop her. Vampires are not a threat to a fire demon, only the other way around. Considering the fact that an angered fire demon is basically a killing machine, and will take out all in its path, I want your help in stopping her.” He looked directly into Charles’ pale blue eyes. “I want you to do whatever you have to in order to stop her before she reaches us. If need be, I want you to kill her.”

Charles rose and turned toward the fire, warming his hands. Saul knew he was giving himself time to think before answering the vampire ruler. It was a weighty task. Charles had never killed anyone to the cat's knowledge, but Saul knew he would not let a demon kill the folks he considered his people in this part of The Realms.

“I will seek out and speak with her,” Charles said. He turned looking down from his six-foot-four height on the still seated Raven. “I will do it for the innocent.” Charles looked to Saul. “Please fetch Simone, Saul.”

Saul threw his friend’s bow and quiver over his shoulder, and sprinted up the stairs. When he returned with the sleeping child Raven and Charles were standing across from each other by the door. Charles took Simone from his friend. The child opened her eyes during the transfer.

“Daddy…” she said sleepily and curled up against his chest.

He hugged her close and put her up on his shoulder to free one hand. Charles stepped back and held up his hand warding the vampire off.

“You, and all your kind, are banned from my home from this day forward,” Charles said.

For a moment a white aurora appeared around the vampire. Raven staggered, but caught himself against the doorjamb before he fell.

“That was uncalled for,” the vampire hissed in anger.

Charles did not acknowledge the chastisement. He turned, and with Saul guarding his back, he left Raven’s mansion for home.

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