We went running out, Viveka getting out before me. She recognized the person even though I didn't. That was something I would forever regret.
"Brone!" she yelled. "Which way did you send him?"
"I don't remember," I said, looking around desperately.
Suddenly, a figure came crawling out of a house and she swayed on the spot. I caught her.
"That's it!" she screamed. "That's what I saw in my nightmares!"
We froze. I drew my sword slowly, my arm around her waist. The creature sniffed the air then its head snapped toward us. It crawled slowly, snarling. Saliva dripped down it's chin.
"Stop there," I snapped.
It didn't listen. Still moving slowly, it raised itself onto its back legs. Viveka whimpered and pressed closer to me. It was tall; taller than me. I took a few steps back, holding the sword up straight at where I hoped its heart would be. It didn't have any eyes or nose. It had just a mouth with terrible looking teeth in it.
It leaned toward us and Viveka gripped my shit, whimpering again. I pressed the tip of my blade to its throat.
"What are you?" I demanded. "Why are you in this village?"
It didn't answer. It made a motion as if it were sniffing. It reached out a clammy, three fingered hand and tried to grab Viveka.
"Oh no you don't," I snarled and swung, cutting its arm off.
It screeched in pain, stumbling back as black blood squirted out of its arms. It lowered back onto its other arm and scurried away. The arm on the ground started to quiver and Viveka gasped.
"Cian," she breathed, hitting me on the chest.
It had turned into a human arm.
We stared at each other in horror until, somewhere, Brone screamed again. This time it was cut short. We tore up the street, praying another creature wouldn't come out.
"Brone!" I heard Clemente yell. "Brone, answer me!"
We turned a corner and I almost swung my sword but it was just Abel. He was panting.
"Did you hear him?" he panted.
"Yes," I nodded. "Where are Clemente and the twins?"
"We're here," the twins said from behind us.
"Then where is-"
"Lord Cian!" Brone screamed in pain. "Lord Cian, please help me!"
"Keep yelling!" I shouted, running in the direction of his voice.
"Help me!" he screamed.
"I'm coming, Brone! Where are you!?"
"It won't let me go!" he sobbed.
His voice was starting to disappear in the distance.
"No!" I yelled frantically. "Brone! Say something!"
He yelled again but I didn't hear what he said. I took a random turn but it was a dead end. Brone gave one last scream then there was silence. I turned around slowly. Viveka was sobbing and the other men looked stricken. I was shaking as I walked over to them.
"Let's get out of here," I said in a shaking voice. "It's-It's going to be okay, Viveka," I added, putting an arm around her shoulders. She cried into my chest. "Let's go back to camp and come up with a different plan."
"We can't, Lord Cian," Abel whispered.
"What do you mean?" I demanded.
"We already tried. I don't know how it's doing it, but the village has shut us in. There's no escaping it."
I held onto Viveka's shaking hand as I looked around in the different homes until I found one that looked halfway decent. It was cold and no way for us to start a fire.
"We'll sleep around you," Clemente told her but she didn't respond.
Her eyes had glazed over and she turned for the door.
"No," I said, grabbing her around the waist. "No, you're not going anywhere. Remember it."
She fought in my arms. "The lake," she said in a hoarse voice. "The lake. The lake."
"Block the door," I panted. She was fighting hard. "I don't know how much longer I can hold onto her. Something's-Something's dragging her."
I dug my heels into the wooden floor.
"Come on, Viveka," I said in her ear. "Tell me what you're seeing." She didn't respond, she just kept fighting. "Tell me what you see, my minx."
"Lake," she muttered, her voice a little normal. "Lake. Creature. Brone. Dead. Drowning. Bodies. Cemetery."
I looked up at the remaining men and they looked terrified. Viveka stopped fighting in my arms and went limp.
"I think it's over," I said, lowering her to the floor. "Just in case, though, this is how we'll sleep tonight: I'll lie in front of her. Able, you lie behind her. Daray and Dany, you sleep by the door. Clemente, you lie at our feet." I stared out where the door should be. "I'm not taking any chances. When we get back, we will have a proper tribute for Brone."
"You really think he's dead?" Clemente asked as we all took our places.
"Yes," I said sadly. "I do."
I wrapped my arms tightly around Viveka. She didn't move at all during the night. It was hard for me to sleep but I eventually drifted off with the hope that we would get answers tomorrow.
"Cian? Cian, where are we?"
Viveka was whispering in fear and I opened my eyes. She was gripping my shirt.
"Calm down," I said. "We're in a house."
"Cian, Brone is dead," she said with a small sob.
"We know," Abel whispered from her other side.
"What are we going to do?" Clemente asked, sitting up.
"I have no idea," I sighed.
"We have to find the cemetery," Viveka said suddenly. We stared at her. "I know it sounds crazy but please trust me."
"What about those creatures?" Daray asked. "Dany and I were able to hide from one."
Viveka's lower lip trembled. "They're not just creatures, Daray."
"What do you mean?"
"They were humans," I said quietly and their jaws dropped. "I cut one's arm off. It fell and faded into a human arm."
"What happened here?" Dany whispered.
I rubbed my eyes. "I don't know but I'm not...."
"We need blood soon," Clemente nodded.
"Take it from me," Viveka said immediately.
I stared at her. "You don't know what that means, Viveka."
"You don't have to turn me into a vampire, do you?" she asked and I shook my head no. "You just have to drink. Please. I can't defend myself. If you guys are too weak then we'll all die."
We looked at each other. This wasn't a good idea.
"Does it have to be my neck?" she asked.
"No," Clemente said. "But you're putting yourself at risk, Viveka. It's one thing for one vampire to drink from you; it's a completely different one to have five drink from you."
"Just don't take too much," she said, holding her arm out to Clemente first. He didn't move and she stomped her foot, tears splashing down her cheeks. "Brone is dead! I don't want any of you to die, either!"
"All right," Clemente said.
He sighed and reluctantly bit into her right forearm. She gasped and her knees started to give out. I caught her and Clemente pulled back quickly. Abel went next followed by the twins.
"I can't do it," I whispered when she turned to me.
Her blood smelled amazing. Too amazing.
"Please, Cian," she begged. "You don't have to take a lot. Just a little."
I looked at the others and they nodded. I gulped and took her forearm. I lowered my mouth to it and drank deeply.
Holy shit. Her blood was delicious and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. I almost got lost in it until I heard her gasp. I pulled away quickly. I made sure I got every single drop off my chin, though. I wasn't going to waste one bit of it. I tore off some of my sleeve and wrapped it tightly around the bite marks Clemente had made and we had all fed from. I had to stop the bleeding. And block out that wonderful smell.
"Come on," I said, shaking a little. "Let's find this cemetery."