Hel appears beside Khali. “Simple, child. We need you to clear the way for us. Only you can retake Savanna, Mobile and the dozen odd cities that have already fallen to the Vampire Nation. You know their weaknesses. Their oversights.”
“Moreover, they won’t be expecting you.” Hades is there in a flash, his deep resonate voice thundering through the nothingness. “You have been absent. They think you dead. Or, at the least, unable to fight.”
“Kalkolides believes you are no longer a threat.” The raven cloaked Morrigan emerges from the shadows. “He has been led to believe that you were lost to the ice of the north.”
“Apparently, the Vampire Nation doesn’t venture too far north.” I smile sarcastically. “Or they would know that where I was, there wasn’t any ice.”
“We know that, child.” Anubis has joined the conversation, his jackal form slinking out of the shadows where Morrigan had also emerged. “He has not been allowed such a luxury. Remember. Most vampires cannot handle cooler climes. If they do venture north, it is just above the border. They believe that the ice begins less than a hundred miles above the border. That is the only thing that has kept what was once Canada from being overrun by their kind.”
“That is why the Grigori was able to remain hidden from them for so long.” Enlil appears as a blinding light. “And why you remained safely out of their reach while running Tuva’s errand.”
“Now that you are back, we can return to the business at hand.” Unkulunkulu announces from his seat in the shadows behind me. Khali will lead the council’s armies to your aid when you call upon her or upon Ares. The rest of us will not be far behind.”
“We need you to turn back south.” Morrigan looks over at me. “We need you to let Naeraeus finish leading the refugees. Leave those who are in your company. Begin our battle for us. Retake the cities lost to the vampires.”
I nod. “I guess I really can’t argue. You have already decided my fate.”
Anubis’ ears perk up. “Then you accept?”
I look at him. “I have no choice, do I?”
Khali nods. “Yes, but you would not be following your destiny. The path already predestined for you.”
I snort defiantly. “My path is my own. What I do is done for my friends and my allies. Not for any other reason.”
Enlil chuckles. “Believe what you will, child.”
I am shaken awake by Naeraeus. “What the Sam Hill are you doing?”
I look at him, bewildered. “I was talking to–”
“Khali.” He finishes my sentence. “If she has contacted you, then you must go do what she desires.” He nods to me. “Godspeed. do you need any–?”
I shake my head. “No. I am not expected by my new targets. Their master believes me dead.”
He smiles. “All the better to scare them with.”
I smile back and nod. “I am their form of the boogie man. I stalk ’em in their vampire-nightmares.”
“What about the refugees?” His attention is drawn to those who had been in my care.
I look him in the eye. “They are now in your care. All you have to do is get them to the missions. From there, you will be home free.”
He looks away. “Understood.” He looks back up at me. “Good luck. May God be with you.”
I giggle. “Luck has nothing to do with it. Neither does ‘God’. I make my own luck and do not need his help. Whoever, whatever he may be.”
“So be it.” He is disappointed.
He turns away and I watch him walk away. He is the one who’ll need God and luck. He still has the gauntlet to run. And I know that there are pitfalls every step of the way between where we are now and where he is wanting to get to. Ghouls. Zombies. Vampires. Shadow Kin.
“Be careful.” my words bring him to a temporary stop. “There are many obstacles between you and the missions. Don’t be lulled into believing that the calm is real. It is all an illusion.
“They will try everything they can to stop you and your charges. Ghouls. Zombies. whatever they can. Just to stop you from reaching safety.”
Thank you.” He doesn’t even turn back to me. “I will keep that in mind.”
I can’t help thinking that I have offended him with my view of his God. But if God had existed, why did he let me go through the change? Why did he allow mamma and papa to die? Why did he allow the vampires to destroy everything beautiful?
I can’t help but find it near impossible to believe in him. If he does exist. I have a hard time having faith in anything but my own skill. My own abilities.
I watch as Naeraeus slowly disappears. When the small group finally vanishes, I turn south and head for Dixie. I am headed home. What I will find, I don’t know.
I would shape shift, but do not want to lose my weapons. I will need them. Besides. I feel almost as if I will need them every step of the way. I pull my collar up and head into the wind.
Although I have no idea where I will start, I know where I am headed. South. Home. Into hell.
I correct myself. I have no home. That was taken from me over sixty years ago. My refuge was taken from me twenty years ago. Now, I have nothing. Just my sword, My crossbow, my machete, and the revolver I shot mamma and papa with. In my small munitions sack, I carry a small number of silver bullets.
Not that they do much good. But they do inflict major pain, even if they don’t really have enough effect to kill. Unless shot into the heart of a vampire. Or undead.
“Where ya headed, Kid?” Angel’s familiar voice emerges from nowhere. “Better yet, can ya use some company?”
“Sure, Angel.” I smile. “It’ll be nice to have someone to talk to. Don’t know whether you’ll wanna go all the way south with me, though.”
“Nope.” He appears beside me. “But you can accompany me to my lab. I may have a few new playthings you’ll like to try out.”
“You’ve got my attention, old friend. Lead on.” I giggle to myself as he does as I suggest.