The Thirteenth Lord
Chapter 3 - Precautions
“Is all this really necessary?” Carlos had been a vampire for less than a week and as far as he knew, his kind was immortal. The precautions being taken seemed ridiculous.
“We’re doing what we have to do, given the circumstances.” Oswald was one of the oldest vampires in the coven. His demeanor was even more sour than usual.
“What do you mean? I thought we were untouchable or whatever.”
Oswald let out an exasperated sigh. “No, fool. Our mistress is the vampire lord, Agnes, the Untouchable—so called because of her power.”
“Don’t get all pissy. And why is she called ‘lord’ and not ‘lady’?”
“You try my patience, fool,” Oswald replied.
“Okay, okay.” He scanned the vast, rocky area in the front of the house. Twelve powerful vampires lurked somewhere out there, undetected even by Carlos’s supernatural eyes.
“Just stay alert,” Oswald said. “You have the gun. Be ready to use it.”
“Yeah. About that…” He lifted shotgun from its resting place against the front door.
“I thought guns were useless against vampires?”
Oswald’s eyes darted toward a sound. A dry leaf tumbled across the ground, propelled by a dusty wind. Oswald turned back to Carlos. “There is only one vampire we are guarding against, and the gun is not for her. It is for her monster.”
Carlos hissed, still getting used to the elongated fangs. “Just for fun, pretend like I became a vampire last week and tell me what the hell is going on already, asshole.”
The older vampire locked his hand around Carlos’s neck and slammed him against the wall. “Do not think that your presence here is wanted or required, whelp. We turned you so you might be of use to us. The sole reason you still exist is to serve Agnes.”
“If I understand what’s coming,” he gasped, “I can do a better job of that.”
Oswald turned his head to check another sound, releasing Carlos as he did so. “Lucifera Romana,” he said.
“One of the oldest and most powerful vampires. Master Felipe de Amor of Mexico City alerted us to her actions. She killed four master vampires and declared war on the elders and lords.”
Carlos coughed and rubbed his bruised neck. “She’s not a vampire lord, though, right?”
“They say the elders offered her the title of lord many times, but she declined. She has a problem with authority.”
Oswald glared at him with glowing yellow eyes. The younger vampire stifled his laugh. “Sorry, man. I thought you were joking.”
“It is said she keeps a werewolf as a pet.” Oswald hissed and spit into the dirt in front of the deck.
“So? Werewolves are bad?”
“Care to elaborate?”
“No. That shotgun has six silver fragment filled cartridges. If there is a werewolf, wait until it gets as close as possible, then shoot it in between the eyes. When it falls, shoot it again. Keep shooting it until one of us cuts its head off.”
“How are you going to do that?”
Oswald answered by unsheathing a three-foot long, silver bladed machete.
“Aw man. That’s badass. When do I get one of those?”
Oswald replaced the weapon in its case. “You don’t.”
Before Carlos could reply, an earthy, canine scent assailed him. “What the hell is that smell?”
“Guard this door. If you move from this spot, I will kill you myself.” Oswald rushed into the darkness.
Carlos tried to follow his movements, but he disappeared behind the rocks and trees. Carlos comforted himself by gripping the shotgun and resting his finger on the trigger. Nothing could survive a shotgun blast to the face. Silver shards or regular old lead pellets wouldn’t matter.
There was a half-mile of rocky terrain down the side of the mountain between the house and the electrified wall, and a full mile in the back. Oswald was just paranoid. There were thirty vampires patrolling the grounds. If anybody tried to pay them a visit, they’d never make it ten feet past the wall.
A scream pierced the darkness. Carlos backed up against the door. He recognized the voice. It was George. He was even older than Oswald.
Another scream rang out, this one coming from down the mountain behind the house.
Carlos strained his eyes to see what was going on in the front. He saw the blur of movement that could be three or more of his coven mates converging on the first scream. They disappeared behind the massive boulder that sat about a hundred yards from the house.
Three successive shrieks sounded from behind the rock. This time, a low, guttural growl accompanied the screams. Silence followed.
Carlos realized he had been holding his breath for the past three minutes. He let the air out of his dead lungs and wished he hadn’t. The feral animal scent had grown even stronger.
A figure emerged from behind the boulder. Carlos expected to see Oswald brandishing the head of the intruder. Instead, a shirtless, shoeless, shaggy-haired man in a pair of torn old trousers clumsily trotted up the path. “Hello up there,” the man said.
There was something very wrong. Carlos’s vampire comrades gave off a bluish glow to his eyes because of their low body temperature, but the man down the hill seemed to glow red. He had to be running a temperature far higher than a normal person.
Carlos let the man take three steps, then he raised the shotgun and fired two quick shots.
The silver shards struck the ground harmlessly, well short of the man.
“Say, friend,” the man shouted, “if I might make a suggestion, you should save those until I get closer. My burning nose holes tell me you’re packing silver pellets. You’d be lucky to hit the side of a barn from this far away.”
Carlos cursed under his breath. The man was right. Judging from where they landed, he would have been better off throwing the cartridges down the hill.
The man sauntered up the rocky path. “Since we are talking, how many of them silver shells you got anyway? You probably don’t have very many. In fact, I bet you’re already out.”
“I got enough to solve all your problems, man.” Carlos knew he had replied a little too quickly. Where the hell were all the other vampires?
“Relax, friend. I’m just playing with you. I heard that silver bullets are hard to come by. My cousin, Lily, casts her own. Most of them that used to work with silver are dead.”
“Is that right?”
“How do you know that?”
“I suppose it’s because I killed them.” The stranger looked down and then lifted up a dark object. “I think this belonged to one of your mates.” He lobbed the thing toward Carlos. It soared high through the air and landed at Carlos’s feet.
The vampire knelt down to examine the object. It was Oswald’s bloody, severed head. “Shit!” He jumped back and slammed his back against the front door. He raised the shotgun and fired off three quick shots at the slowly advancing man.
The man sidestepped, easily avoiding the spray of silver pellets.
“Careful. If you manage to wing me with one of those pellets, all it will do is piss me off. I ain’t planning to kill you. You’re too weak. Don’t make me change my mind.”
Carlos lowered the gun but kept a tight grip on it. He wanted to shoot at the man, but from thirty yards he might be able to dodge it again. He’d have to wait for a point blank shot.
“I guess I killed about a dozen of your buddies.” He held up his bloody, clawed hands. “I figured they’d be tougher, what since they serve Abigail the Unmentionable or whatever.”
“It’s Agnes the Untouchable: vampire lord of the first seat.” Announcing his master’s name and station returned a little courage to Carlos.
The sadistic smile on the stranger’s face drove it right back out again.
“Sounds fancy. I’m sure you are a fine vampire lackey. My name’s Mickey by the way.” The so-called werewolf stopped ten paces away.
Carlos raised the shotgun and planted it firmly against his shoulder, sighting in on the stranger’s blood-stained, jagged canine teeth. “How the hell did you get past a dozen vampires and live?”
“I’m a werewolf. That means that any vampire who ain’t at least a thousand year old master is going to die if they run into me.”
“You’re a cocky cock, aren’t you?”
“Maybe, but that don’t make it untrue.”
Carlos’s instincts told him to run, but he kept his faith in the shotgun. He began to slowly tighten his finger against the trigger. “If you’re a werewolf, why aren’t you all furry and howling?”
“Your friends were so weak that it was a waste to go full furry for them.” He pointed up at the dark clouds covering the moon. “This is a light version of my wolfman shape. My full-on werewolf shape would probably make you shit yourself.” The man looked confused. “Do vampires shit? Never mind. Don’t answer that. As I was saying, these days the moon just about sends me over the edge. When she comes out, I wolf out and kill everything in sight.”
Carlos wanted to pull the trigger, but the werewolf had made it too easy. He had to have something up his sleeve.
“Oi, vampire guy. I can’t tell if you’re constipated or if you’re trying to decide whether or not to shoot me, so I’ll ask you a question. If your vampire master is a female, why is she called ‘lord’ and not ‘lady’?”
“I don’t know, man. I think they are all called lords. Even the females.”
The werewolf stroked a sideburn and gazed up at the sky. “Weird. I wonder if it’s because—”
Carlos blew the air out of his lungs and pulled the trigger. The werewolf’s smile grew a little bigger the instant before the shot rang out.
He had heard his breath.
The stranger rolled to the side and the last silver shards flew harmlessly past him into the night. He advanced toward Carlos, sniffing the air as he went. “So, that was your last one eh?”
“You think so?” Carlos kept the empty gun sighted on his head.
Mickey tapped the side of his nose. “The nose knows. Get it? It’s a pun. Puns are fun.” He laughed maniacally as the clouds that had covered the moon slowly began to dissipate. “I know the stench of silver and it’s all down the hill behind me. This is going to hurt you. A lot.”
Before Carlos could react, the stranger rushed toward him and punched him in the side of the head with a savage right. Carlos’s head twisted to the side to with a deep crunch. He slammed against the side of the house, then fell to the floor, paralyzed.
Mickey knelt down and turned Carlos’s head so he could look at his face. The vampire groaned in agony.
“Let’s see what we’ve got here. Yep. Looks like I broke your jaw and crushed your left sinus cavity. Pay attention to where those teeth landed. If you can gather them up later, you might be able to put them back in. Oh yeah, most importantly, I just broke your neck. Don’t worry, I left your head attached, so you aren’t completely dead yet. You might heal up enough to move in a few hours. I may need you alive, but I ain’t sure yet. I’ll get back to you later.”
Carlos tried to speak, but blood filled his open mouth and his dislocated jaw creaked. The werewolf’s smiling face faded into the darkness as he lost consciousness.
tried to speak, but blood filled his open mouth and his dislocated jaw creaked. The werewolf’s smiling face faded into the darkness as he lost conscious