Saturday, January 16, 2016

Threat of the Fire Demon - Chapter 9

It was difficult to follow the swift moving vampire. He had the advantage of being able to float over obstacles, whereas Saul was carrying Charles and struggling along with the load on two legs.

The vamp stopped at a small pool and told Saul to wash the beast’s blood off so they were less likely to follow the scent of their own. While the cat quickly obliged, the vampire pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket and slipped them on. He started to pick Charles up. Saul came to his feet at the edge of the pool and growled menacingly.

“We’ll never outrun them if you continue to carry him,” the vampire pointed out the obvious. “You can keep up with me if I take him.” He frowned at the cat-man. “If I had wanted you dead, I would have killed you the day you arrived.”


Saul nodded his ascent and the vampire gingerly picked up the elf-man. Even in his weakened state the vamp could feel the warmth of Charles’ aurora through his gloves, and his shirt, when he threw the man over his shoulder.

*****

The vampire swept the vines back revealing the opening to a cave. He proceeded in followed by Saul.

There was a small fire banked in a ring of stones. The vampire eased Charles down off his shoulder and onto a pile of leaves covered with one of the long, traditional black coats Raven made the vamps in his coven wear.

The vampire turned back to the fire and tossed a couple of logs on it. While Saul went to Charles’ side to check on him, the vampire stepped over to a wooden trough by the wall and using what looked like a hand carved bowl, dipped some water from the trough and brought it to the cat. Saul took a large gulp and then tried to get Charles to drink. The man tossed his head and moan uncooperatively.

“He’s getting worse by the hour,” the vamp said.

“We need a healer.” Saul looked hopefully at the vampire.

“As far as I know, until you two showed up, I was the only person in this area of The Realms,” he said. “You took a wrong turn in the crystal cave.”

“Yeah, we figured that out,” Saul snapped sarcastically. “You too?” he asked.

“It was the correct turn for me.” He sat down on the rough fashioned, log stool by the fire. He watched quietly as Saul inspected Charles’ leg. “I am called Thaldrake.”

“I’m Saul. This is Charles,” he waved a paw at his prone friend.

“The Light Bearer,” Thaldrake said with a tone of awe in his voice.

“Yes,” Saul acknowledged. “And you’re the gatekeeper from the South gate who went rouge.” Saul was pretty certain he was guessing correctly.

“Yes, I am sorry to say.” He poked at the fire with a stick, stirring it into a larger blaze, one that actually began to take the chill off the air in the cave.

“How long have you been hold up here?” Saul asked. He turned to squat by the fire and held his paws out to warm them.

“Since I lost the fire demon in the cave.” Thaldrake shook his head. “She was very persistent. I had to double back twice. I was lucky she didn’t know the gate to here or stumble upon it.”

“You made a poor choice for your victims,” Saul said.

“I didn’t make a choice!” The vampire’s temper flared. “I was starving to death. You have no idea how painful that is for a vampire. We really can’t starve to death. We only live our already miserable life in a constant state of ravenous hunger.”

Saul sat quietly. Patience was a virtual he possessed in abundance. He would let the vamp talk.

“I have been posted at that freaking gate for the last two years, ever since one of Raven’s minions decided she needed a playmate. I didn’t have a choice. She didn’t ask me. I took a girl home in the mundane world for a night of what I thought would be hot sex. I woke up in a bed covered with blood and a vampiress hovering over me saying I had to come with her to someplace called The Realms. I followed in an obedient blood soaked haze.

“My introduction to Raven was his displeasure in his coven member’s turning me as he plunged a stake into her heart and she vaporized into ash.” Thaldrake rose to his feet and started pacing the small width of the cave.

“I didn’t ask for this! I didn’t want this!” He turned on Saul. “I resisted as long as I could. You think posting us at the gates is all the punishment we get for not giving into our blood-lust? Well, it isn’t.” The vampire fisted his hands at his sides in anger. “If vampires didn’t heal we would all be dead long before Raven had an opportunity to post us at a gate. Raven has a dungeon below that mansion and he uses it with glee. He delights in tortures you could not imagine in your wildest dreams. Why do you think Remy is the way he is? Raven holds him up as an example of what he can do with a mind. How he can leave it like Swiss cheese as easily as he can flail the skin and muscle from our bones.”

Thaldrake sank back on the stool. “I was looking to run away, not break the pact with myself that I would never give into my blood-lust. I did my research. I knew there were multiple gates in the Crystal Cave. I just had no idea they were so close together. I was looking for the one here when I inadvertently stepped thought the one to the Land of the Fire Demons. It’s supposed to look like a number sign. I could see when I came back around the second time that it was broken.”

Thaldrake held his hands out toward the fire to warm them. Then he looked at them as if they didn’t belong to him and pulled them back into his lap.

“A habit from when I was human,” he said with a shake of his head. “I couldn’t get them warm now if I tried.” He sat quietly, his expression sullen, staring into the fire.

Saul shifted and yawned.

“You should get some sleep. I will keep watch. If the Light Bearer makes it through another day, I will take you both to the far gate of the fire demon’s land. Hopefully, you can find help there.”

“Can’t you take us now?” Saul asked. He should have thought of this. The vampire would know the way out.

“There is not time before the sun rises,” Thaldrake said with a shake of his head. “I do not relish a burning or the time it would take to recover from it. We’ll go tomorrow night.”

“Tell me where it is and I will take him and go,” Saul ordered. “He needs help now, not tomorrow.”

“I can’t tell you where it is,” the vampire said. “It’s so hidden I am sure you would not be able to find it, and that is if, you could get past the beasts that hunt you.”

Saul felt as trapped as a creature in a cage. He needed to get Charles to a healer, but had no way to do it without the vampire as guide. He went over to lay protectively by his friend. He would just have to pray Charles had the strength to hold on one day longer.


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