He circles around, trying to find an opening. He feigns, I dodge. He lunges, I slip out of range. His brows furl thoughtfully.
He grimaces, thoughtfully. “Not bad. Not bad at all. Too bad you are the enemy. You would make a wonderful lover, not to mention a great warrior in my army.” His eyes flash with inspiration. “Perhaps I can…persuade you.”
I smile coldly. “I think not. On both counts.”
His grimace turns to an angry frown. I put his insinuation out of my head. This is war. It is a war I didn’t want, but am now fully a part of. And I have been for eighty years.
Has it really been that long? God! Feels like it was yesterday when I was bitten. Makes me miss mama and papa.
Enough reminiscing. Time to boost this battle into high gear. Although I do not worry about his troops returning to join the fray, I do want to leave here tonight. I have two other stops to make before heading home.
Home. Odd to call the bayou my home. Still, It was home for a while. During the time that I was being trained, anyway.
My distraction almost costs me. I snap out of my thoughts in time to dodge his blade. Outside, a horn sounds an advance. He smiles. “Sounds like your friends are getting their asses handed to them.”
I snort, amused. “I didn’t bring any friends. I came from the north. Your city is being attacked by some unknown force from the south. Besides. I only took out the troops from three sides of your city. North, east, and west. There was a horn signal from the south before I entered the city. It distracted the rest of your force enough to allow me to enter and dispatch those running your security and communications.”
His smile quickly fades, replaced by a deep frown. “Damn!”
I smile. “Were you expecting to be hit? Is that why all your force was outside the city?”
He nods. “Yes. But I didn’t know from which direction. Or from whom.”
I am surprised by his answer. “Whom?”
He nods. “Yes. Despite appearances, the lords within the Vampire Nation are not really united in their drive to exterminate humanity.”
I am still not sure what to make of his reaction. “What do you mean?”
He smirks. “Think Medieval Japan’s samurai system and even the Shogun. Each lord within Japan was loosely allied with the emperor, but fought among themselves. The Vampire Nation is no different. We may be loosely allied to Kalkolides, but we are not so with each other. If one senses a weakness in another, they will attack and try to usurp the position. It does not matter that Jason gives the position to whomever is deserving or whomever he feels would do best there. Vampires are not so loyal as friends that they will not take another’s command from them.”
I smile. “So one lord will kill another just to have their territory.”
He nods. “Yes. Sadly.”
I look away. “what if you’re wrong and humans have gotten hold of a vampire war-horn?”
He shakes his head. “I don’t want to take that chance. I want you to kill me. Take the joy away from whoever is coming for me.”
I hide a smirk. “Why?” I am just goading him now.
A look of desperation flashes upon his face. “Because. If you don’t, I will be forced to die a long and tortured death. There is even a possibility that I will go through humiliations by the millions at the hands of a rival. Please!”
I smile sadly. I hate to see an enemy beg. “Then fight like you have never fought before. Give me a reason to put your head on a pike in honor. Be a warrior without equal.”
A tear comes to his eye. “So be it.”
He lunges. He strikes. He parries. He thrusts. I fight with defensive moves only.
I am amazed at how good he is at swordplay. Better than most, I’ll give him that. But I can see that he is deliberately throwing himself at my sword. Poor bastard. He is horrified at the thought of being taken by one of his own. I guess I would be too.
As the advance is sounded again, I take to the offensive. He strives to make himself look valiant and adept but he slips, making an opening. I know he has done so on purpose and take the advantage. And his head.
I affix his head to a pike as soon as I am out in the street. To this pike, I affix a placard stating that he was a worthy opponent. I throw his body onto the pile outside the Governor’s mansion. Lighting the pile, I take my sword in one hand and the pike with Tarkus’ head on it and head for the south end of the city. Whatever lies beyond the limits, I am ready. No one will take my prize from me. No one.
At the edge of the city, I am met by another vampire lord. I am unsure of who this new threat is, but he is not happy to see me. He is going to be even less happy when I am finished with his army.
I stand my ground. “This city is vampire-free.” I stick the pike holding Tarkus’ head into the ground and draw my machete. “Shall we dance?”
He remains unmoved. He waves his hand in command. His forces attack. I make easy work of them.
He watches as heads pile up to one side, and bodies on the other. He seems to lack any surprise as I slice through his forces without any problem. Strange. He should be going through the many stages of shock. But he isn’t. He just stands at a distance with a face of stone. Emotionless. Molgo Petra! Damn.
He steps forward after the last vampire soldier falls. “I am not impressed. I have seen better warriors than you. I have fought better. You’re not even worth my time. I do not fight children or women. I only kill them.”
I let his words slip away into the darkness. “Then you will have to dance with me in order to kill me.”
His contempt is recognizable. “Fine.”
He swings his sword wildly, attempting to throw me off. I easily block and remain in rhythm with my defense. When an opening presents itself, I take it, slicing him in two…at an angle.
I look down at his dying form. “I am no average woman child. I may look young, but I am not. Never underestimate a woman or a child. McCall taught me that. Both can deal you just as much death as a man. If not more.”
The light goes out of his eyes. I take his head and pike it. Just as I do to his soldiers. The bodies, I pile up and burn as a pyre. Let all see what happens to vampires who cross my path. I clean the blades of my sword and machete off and replace them in their scabbards. Picking up the piked heads, I begin on my trek south. Next stop, Savanna. Then on to Mobile.