Chapter Seventeen: Assault in the Dark
I sat in the main common area, peeling back the twigs into bolts. I'd go to the weapons room later to see if we had any silver to melt down for them. I tried to recover the ones previously used but couldn't go there. Revisiting the area that I'd first met Cain was too hard. Even if he'd just been another vampire then. I looked up at the people milling around, mostly civilians. The few soldiers here had just come off-duty to grab a drink. Some of them flirting badly with those around me. Everything was calm and normal, I should enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere. Not be clouded by thoughts of Cain. It's been two and a half weeks since the attack. We must've hit Sergio's numbers harder than we thought. I finished making my last colt and dropped them off with the weapon room. The guy would leave me a note when they were done. When evening approached I refused to sit on my dark thoughts again. I found the nearest war room, wondering what plans Matt had and if I could contribute.
“Sergio hasn't attacked yet, which means either his numbers are down, or he's planning something big,” Matt said, sending me a nod when I walked in. The room was crowded with soldiers, mostly seasoned but a few of the younger, newly-trained ones.
“Or he's waiting for us to make the next move,” I suggested, moving towards the table so I was facing Matt.
“True, but Sergio isn't usually this patient, if he was waiting for us he would've given up by now and simply attacked,” Matt said. I nodded, he had a good point. I starred at the table, on it was a map of the surrounding area we'd explore. The desert plains were we were stretched for miles. Above us was the rubble city and to it's right the forests. Far to our left was the castle and it's surrounding town. The river ran past the castle and into the town, ending in a huge lake. The vampires had grabbed the huge oasis in the middle of the desert. The river ran from the castle above it and into the mountains. There was a river through the rubble city where we got our water, we'd suspected it's source was also the mountains.
“We've been keeping a constant eye out for scouts but haven't found any. What if Sergio is simply backing off because we did cripple his numbers? And if so, are we going to risk that possibility and attempt a second strike? Enough time has passed for him to rebuild an army, but they'll be newly turned, unused to their powers and overpowering senses. It'd be easy to take advantage of them,” I rambled. Aware of Matt's appraising look as I did so.
“All true, but our own numbers took a hit, we lost six men,” he replied. I raised my eyebrows in shock, I'd never heard the actual figure.
“We've lost more than that in previous raids, why were they so surprised this time round? Surely my presence should've put Sergio and his men on edge,” I said, half talking to myself. I remember the way Sergio had kept looking at me. Had he had intention beyond killing me? I shuddered at the thought of being turned and returned to the round of maybes.
“I don't know, I don't care. But we need to act now if we're going to get him,” Matt said. I agreed with him. I'd accepted the fact that returning was unavoidable. Just like possibly seeing Cain was. But despite my feelings, I knew my own kind came first. I'd do what I had to.
“I agree. I think the best course of action should be to-” my voice was cut off by the loud clang of the warning bell. Everyone paused for a breath before rushing out. The sound of yells surrounded me as I entered the main hall. Soldiers were getting the civilians to safety. Most would be in their homes at this time. Easy targets for any attack. I left the main hall through a side door and paused in the small side-street. The sky was dark enough that I could sneak to the east quarters and grab my weapons. I always carried a dagger with me, I was considering carrying the crossbow too now. All the lights were out when I left, the sounds of fighting were nearby though.
I climbed steps to the rooftops and saw the majority of the fighting was in the main square. I could see dead bodies and they weren't dressed like soldiers. I swore and lifted my crossbow, aiming and taking them out from a distance. I crouched down, using the wall to hide my presence. But someone would figure out the source of the arrows eventually. I loaded another bolt and sat up, squinting my eyes down the sight. I knew I was searching for Cain before dusting a vampire about to kill a child.
“Asshole,” I muttered as I saw the wind drift his ashes away. So much for Sergio not be ready. Though the way they fought, they were definitely newly-made. All rushing and no tactics. The biggest blow would be the civilian deaths.
“You haven't changed much.” The voice startled me, the exact thing I'd been telling my mind not to do. I stood, spinning with my crossbow.