I had closed my eyes because we were moving too fast and it was making me dizzy. I wondered briefly why I had even agreed to let the smaller Alvina carry me. Then I remembered it hadn’t been my decision. We stopped just as quickly as we began.
“Lily,” Mackenzie’s voice called out to me.
My eyes flashed open. Our group stood in front of a campfire protected by a rocky outcropping. Snow covered the ground making the night a little brighter than it normally would have been. It was still dark though with the trees and clouds covering the stars and moon.
“Darren,” Mrs. Smith cried out. She tried to move forward, but Dr. Patel held her back. I looked to my side to where the vampire that had initially bit Darren now held him. Darren’s eyes were open, but he remained frozen, unmoving in the arms of the vampire.
Tanner and Mackenzie held each other in front of our group next to Grace and Victory, but none of them approached us. I tried to get down, but Alvina held me tight just for a moment to remind me she was much stronger than me and had all the control. I stopped squirming. She calmly set me down. I rushed to my siblings and wrapped them both in a hug. I saw Maria behind them in a hug with Monica and Richard. I reached out for her and she rushed to join us in our hug.
The vampire who held Darren set him down on his feet and Darren immediately ran to his mother. She wrapped him up in a tight hug. Richard quickly joined them and Mrs. Anderson wrapped her arms around all of them.
Jin slowly moved from the other vampires to set the still unconscious Hunter next to the fire. Grace and Victory immediately went to them.
The rest of our group carefully watched the vampires. Most had their hands on their weapons even if their weapons weren’t fully drawn. Even little Marcos held his knife. Gunnor stood in front of all of us with Alex behind him and slightly to the side. He was the only thing standing between us and the other vampires and I knew he didn’t stand a chance against them. There were dozens of vampires out there. Alvina had brought all of her brood.
“What happened to him?” Grace asked Jin.
I pulled away from my siblings and best friend to face Alvina. Now that we were here, I didn’t trust her and she could easily overwhelm all of us if she wanted to.
“He had too much blood taken from him,” Jin said. “He will be okay.”
“They drank his blood?” Tanner asked. “Did they drink yours, Lily?” he asked. There was a hint of rage behind his voice, but I couldn’t let him get angry. We were helpless before these vampires. I reached out and took his hand in mine, but didn’t turn away from Alvina.
“Yes, but I’m alright.”
“You too, Darren?” Mrs. Smith asked.
He didn’t answer right away. I looked at him to see him nodding and staring at the vampire that had bit him. Mrs. Smith pulled Darren behind her as she glared at the vampire. The vampire smirked, showed his elongated canines and licked his lips taunting that he wanted to drink more of Darren’s blood. Darren shuddered and so did I as a chill ran down my arms at the memory of Alvina biting my neck. Tanner saw and pulled me behind me to shield me from these vampires that there was no protection from.
Alvina’s eyes shifted to Alex. Neither Gunnor nor Alex showed any sign of fear except the slight tightening of their fists.
In a flash, Alvina had moved. She grabbed Alex before even Gunnor could stop her and pulled him in close to her. She forced him to bend slightly so he was eye level to her. “Vampire/werewolf hybrid,” she stated.
The vampires behind her shifted in their stilted terrifying movements, but I didn’t know what it meant. “You haven’t feasted on the blood yet,” she stated.
Alex swallowed. His eyes changed colors but instead of their usual pale blue that came when he was a werewolf, they were bright red. Gray fur began to spring from his cheeks and chin. His canine’s elongated. His fingernails elongated but they were more vampire-like than claw-like.
“You know you can’t charm, right?” she asked. “The closest thing werewolves come close to charming is the alphas and betas powers. And alphas and betas that are that powerful cannot be turned into vampire hybrids. This process would not have worked on your former alpha and beta. Even your former alpha’s wife is strong enough this wouldn’t have worked on her. When you feast, you will hurt your prey and you won’t have the same control and knowledge of when to stop like a normal vampire. Did Gunnor tell you this before the process was started?”
Gunnor’s fists were clenched tight as he watched the exchange. Blood dripped from his closed hands. I assumed his fingernails were digging into his flesh.
Alex simply nodded in response to Alvina.
Jin stood from where he had been crouched next to Hunter. He stepped forward to stand next to Gunnor. “We can charm the humans for him,” Jin said. “It doesn’t have to hurt.”
Alvina’s eyes narrowed slightly as she turned her gaze from Alex to Jin. A slow smile came to red lips that sent shivers of terror down my spine. I remembered the pain of her canines as they pierced my flesh. The complete helplessness. My hand automatically went to cover my neck even though the wounds were gone.
“And what if I kill the both of you and just take your hybrid and human pets for myself?” Alvina questioned in her languid voice.
Neither Jin nor Gunnor answered. They were powerless against her just as we were. She pushed Alex back towards Gunnor. Gunnor steadied Alex so he wouldn’t trip with the force of her push.
Alvina smiled again. “You can keep your pets for now,” she said. “This one,” she pointed to me, “said there were other humans nearby we can keep for our own pets.”
“You are going to help us then against the venefici?” Victory asked. Grace shushed her, but it was too late. They both sat on either side of Hunter. Grace cradled Hunter’s head in her lap.
“As long as the stipulations this one,” she pointed to me again, “agreed on are kept.”
“What stipulations?” Dr. Patel asked. He and Dr. Higgins were with the three boys. Molly had placed herself in front of Arthur. Her hackles were up and she was visibly shaking, but she didn’t leave Arthur.
“That the werewolf alpha will join us,” Alvina said easily.
Everyone’s eyes turned to me except for Darren, Jin and Gunnor. It hadn’t exactly happened like that or as easily but I wasn’t about to argue with her.
“So let’s go get the humans that are going to be our pets,” she said again.
“I said some of them were going to join our group to be Alex’s,” I said. Now all eyes did turn to me even though Jin and Darren had been there when I said it.
“I’ll choose who he gets,” Alvina said.
“No,” I said even though I was shaking with fear. “We will.”
She tilted her head as she studied me. I was still behind Tanner, but I had a clear few of Alvina over his shoulder. He reached a hand out behind him and I took it. Mackenzie stepped back beside me and took my other hand.
“Fine,” Alvina said, “but no complaining about how we treat our human pets.”
“Fine,” I said, having no problem with knowing what type of men were in that group.
“Three tricksters lead that group of humans,” Gunnor said.
Alvina lazily turned her gaze to him. “Then they can help us against the venefici too,” she said. She shrugged her shoulders. “Or die. I’ll give them the choice. So let’s go.”
“Right now?” Grace asked. “My brother isn’t in any condition to travel.”
Alvina rolled her eyes impatiently. “Yes now. I’m hungry.” Her red eyes found mine and the sharp pain hit my neck again. I let go of Tanner’s hand to quickly grab my neck at the phantom pain. Alvina smirked. Her eyes went back to Grace. “Gunnor can carry him.” She waved a hand indicating for Gunnor to go pick up Hunter. Gunnor didn’t hesitate as he left Jin and Alex’s side. Grace and Victory stood aside to let him pick up their brother.
“You,” she said to Alex, “can lead us.”
“Not alone he isn’t,” Gunnor said.
Alvina scowled at him, but she said, “Fine. Jin and Alex can lead us. You can stay at the back with your human pets.” Her eyes found mine. “She will be up front with me.” I swallowed the fear down. It took everything in me not to shake my head.
“Not alone she won’t,” Darren said. He took a step forward even though his mom tried to hold him back.
“I’ll be with you too,” Tanner said to me.
“No,” I said. “Stay in the back with Mackenzie. Protect her please,” I whispered the last bit.
Mackenzie’s eyes were filled with fearful tears as they pleaded with Tanner.
“I’ll stay in the front with Darren and Lily,” Maria offered. Her hand slid into mine.
Tanner hesitated, but he finally nodded at her. He moved to stand by Mackenzie. “It’ll be alright,” I whispered to my little sister. She nodded. Tanner pulled her back to the camp where everyone were gathering their things. My pack was still on my back. Darren moved to my side. Maria quickly gathered her things and stood on my other side.
We moved out with Alex and Jin leading the way. I stumbled in the dark a few times. It was dark, but I could see those nearest to me to follow. I glanced back to see if I could find my family, but all I saw were multitudes of glowing red eyes that sent shivers down my spine. I turned my eyes back to the front.
We heard the other group of humans before we saw them. There was a low murmur of general talk from those who were still awake. Those walking the perimeter saw us and called out a warning to the others.
Alvina walked right into their camp without a care and so the rest of us followed.
Grant saw us, grabbed onto his dad and pointed. “I told you,” his voice was loud and had a hysterical edge to it. “I told you there were such things as monsters and they’ve come to eat us.”
His dad raised his gun at us and a bunch of other men did as well.
“Stop,” one of the men shouted at us.
But then the man that I took to be their leader held up his hand and said, “Don’t shoot.” Two other men quickly went to his side. These three men did not raise their weapons as Alvina approached them.
Grant didn’t listen to them as he raised his gun and pointed it directly at Alex. Before he could fire, the vampire that had bitten Darren flashed across the distance and held Grant from behind. He tilted Grant’s head to the side so his neck was exposed. Grant dropped his gun as the terror took him. “This one is mine,” the vampire side. Gunshots rang out, but then there were blurs all around us as the vampires overpowered those with guns. The tricksters never took their eyes off Alvina as she stared calmly at them.
Men screamed as vampires bit into them. “Not those tied up,” I shouted. “Those are for Alex.”
I hoped the vampires listened and kept their part of the bargain and I hoped the women and children we had seen before were still tied up.
“Make a choice, tricksters,” Alvina said to the three men in front of her. “Join us to kill the venefici or die.”