“I’m not sure how I feel. I am elated because I am relieved to know what’s truly going on AND far enough in advance to not be made a fool of. For that I am truly grateful. However, I had one happy thought. One quiet wish. One thing that dragged me from the dreariness that has all but overcome me and now it is gone. It is not better to live in a daydream than to face what truly lies ahead. I asked for peace in what lot I have and to accept the world around me as it is though it is nothing like what I had imagined in my sweet dreams.”
I will never forget what Elle told me after she had been flatlined. Those are words I carry around with me like it’s a mantra. She had just about everything she was hoping for yanked away from her and she just accepted it because she loved Ryan, only he mysteriously disappeared and that doesn’t just happen to one of us unless our boss has something to do with it.
I always wanted to ask, but prying about what happened to her husband and the sadness I knew she carried despite trying to etch out a life without him, always made be stop with a lump in my throat. I knew that pain. To ask her to relive it by telling me her story was to ask me to relive my own loss. I just couldn’t do it.
I had dreams and hopes before I was bitten, by my mother no less. I had a life planned out and a future and a girl. And just like that… poof. A lot changes when your hearts stops beating. But, that girl wasn’t what I thought she was.
You see, the Nephilim were well aware of the vampire presence in Korea. Very few people know this including most vampires, because unless you were born in Korea it’s not something we share with the outside world. The North defected because unlike Westerners such as Primus we had a different idea about how humans should be managed… like cattle.
We were told that the Reign of Blood would start when Primus had reached some sort of anniversary for being stranded on earth and that only then could we reveal our existence. Well, caught on a technicality, no one knew what was really going on. The camps, the people held hostage as a population, the strict control… farming humans. The North defected because rather than have half of Hell unleashed on the entire country, I mean literally half of Hell, South Korea opted out and decided to play nice. We did it Primus’ way and have had very few problems with him intervening.
The North Side of the country has been looked down upon and is constantly under siege by blood demons who eventually came to an arrangement of sorts with the North Side’s main defector, Jung Yu. Now, after almost 400 years of prosperity he has chosen to disappear in search of the pendant that I have hidden in California because the Siren decided that I wasn’t moving fast enough for her.
Jung Yu got distracted by a Nephilim who was impersonating a concubine in an effort to assassinate him. After she was caught, he decided to try and transfer her angelic powers to his army. Of course that didn’t work well because he was the first test subject. He didn’t want anyone to be stronger than him and overthrow him in a moment of weakness brought about by giving someone else angelic powers first.
So, Nephilim being blessed by an archangel, and vampires being cursed by venom… not such a good mix. He drank her and it nearly killed him. Only this girl was a healer of some sort and before the blessing could disintegrate the bastard the healing powers in her blood saved him.
Now he is deformed. His face… it looks like one of those night cats from Mortal Kombat. In fact, I think someone saw him and that’s where the night cats came from. Oh, what he would give to walk around looking human in South Korea. Half the population would be dead by sundown and the Siren would have food for months.
* * *
“I so do not want to travel by water Jared. Look at what happened last time.” I told him.
I knew about Jung Yu, I knew the Siren called him in. All Jared knew was that he saw a monster from a movie disappear into the shadows and began asking me if there really was an island somewhere with a fight to the death going on.
“If we fly we risk running into the Silver Banshees.” Jared pointed out.
“Touché. By land then.” I said.
“We won’t make good time.” he protested.
“It won’t matter if our brains are splattered all over the mountainside because the banshees got us or if we’re half-digested by the Siren.” I countered.
“How do we get there from here without the Cat dude catching us before anything else does?” Jared asked.
We were driving towards the North Korean border. I wondered the same thing. As long as Jung Yu was near Seoul we should be safer up here. He’d never think to look for us in his own camp. The problem was, Jared is so obviously not from here and he won’t blend in. Besides which they don’t like foreigners feasting at their table.
“We will have to take the catacombs.” I explained. I just hoped they weren’t as heavily guarded as they used to be. Only vampires use them and even then it was to smuggle people from across the globe into the farming camps. But, then again, I have no idea if he made more “night cats.”
“Jared. The cat things from the movie are real, but the tournament was based on a Gladiator system where humans would fight to the death to avoid being drinken. They’d train for combat, and the winner would get to live until the next duel. The loser would be dinner. No island, no fate of the world. But, blood demons would join in. I don’t recall anyone with a chain like Scorpion or anyone who had control over ice like Sub-Zero being there. But, no one escaped unless they were drugged, brainwashed, and told to make it sound like a military camp instead of a vampire farm.” I explained.
“Let’s turn around. There has got to be a better way. Those caves could be crawling with…” Jared began.
“I know.” I cut in.
“And the tournaments are probably still going down there and…” he continued.
“I’m sure. But, this is the year of the Dragon because my brother got out of Hell. So, that can only mean one thing.” I told him restlessly and considering turning around myself.
“What? It sounds worse than what we are already facing.” he said kind of pissed off that I had been holding out on information that wasn’t necessary to tell him until right now.
“During the year of the Dragon, it’s vampires who fight to the death. The Siren and other Regionals (who are blood demons that own human farms out here) will be dining on us this year.” I told him.
“Turn the car around.” Jared said flatly.
But, I couldn’t. Night cats were two cars behind us and if I attempted to change course they’d just chase us, tie us up, and force us to enter the tournament anyway.
“We’re going to have to crash first.” I told him.
Just then, Jared caught a glance at our assailants as I weaved in and out of traffic to give him a good look at why I hadn’t stopped yet.
“Fatality.” he mumbled.
Damn. If he wasn’t the guy who stole away the girl I was in love with… I might have really liked being friends with him. I see why Lilli likes him now.