We were in the deserted corridors that led to the cells and beyond them, the catacombes. I had a rapidly narrowing window to make my move and get out of this place. I tensed, praying this would work.
Using my powers, I projected a mental scream as powerfully as I could directly into the guards' minds.
There was a pause the length of a heartbeat. Then both of the guards dropped to the floor, howling in agony, clawing at their heads. Keeping the scream going, I sprinted away, stopping only when I reached Zelthar's floor. Fortunately, I encountered no one as I slipped into his room. My swords and pack were leaned against his desk. There was a fire in the hearth as I moved silently across the floor and took my things. I was about to leave through the window when the door opened and Lee appeared.
"I thought you might escape." he said in a low voice. "So I made sure you'd find those," he nodded at my things. "Go, quickly. Zelthar has already discovered the guards."
"Why are you doing this Lee?" I was frozen, half-in, half-out of the window.
"You are mine." he stated the point simply, "And nobody takes what is mine away from me."
My skin crawled a little. The way he said that chilled me to the bone. "Thank you Lee."
He nodded as I flitted out of the window. I made it to the edge of the forest before there were sounds of other vampires in persuit. I ran, barely more than a whisper of air in the trees.
Zelthar had anticipated me. I broke out into a tiny clearing, barely ten feet across. I was halfway there when everything seemed to slow to a halt. Huge walls of flame sprang up, encircling the clearing. Waves of baking heat crashed down on me in an instant and I was almost winded as I skidded to a stop in the middle of the ring. The flames were eerily silent, obliterating my view of the forest and turning the clear sky into a smudge of darkest blue. There was no smoke, just a searing heat that brought tears to my eyes and instantly gave me a kind of sunburn to all of the exposed skin. I knew that in minutes, it would blister and begin to char.
Zelthar's voice drifted from beyond the flames.
"Very impressive my dear Shadow. And so nearly sucessful. Tell me though, why are you running? Surely you would know that I am not your enemy?"
"I-I didn't know!" My voice croaked in my parched throat. I needed to feed and the baking heat was making the craving worse. "I didn't know if it would be safe to be in your office, waiting. If they had found me, it would have put blame on you!" I was lying desperately, the heat becoming increasingly intense. I could hear the sounds of other vampires approaching. Suddenly, the flames vanished as though they had never been there.
"Return my dear Shadow, or it shall be the worst for you."
I nodded and sprinted away, dodging the clumsy Council Hunters that were making their way towards Zelthar. I made my way to an area of deep forest, passing through towns along the way to feed. I did not stop to rest, though die to my injuries my body was crying out for it. I pushed on to a camp I had made decades ago on a long mission. I'd stayed deep in the forest, tracking the movements of vampires along the secret paths here for nearly two years, getting information for Zelthar about numbers of vampires and Hunters. It was a bad area for Hunters but far away from the Council that it would be a safe haven to recover and work out what I was meant to be doing.