“The Damned, In the Heart of Ice” is the previous installment of Chloe Bradshaw’s saga.
“How did you think it would end up?” I ask my enemy, my brother.
“I asked my people to warn you. I didn’t want your blood smeared on my sword.”
“I never give up, and it will be your blood on my sword. I will not think twice about killing you, after you banished me.”
“What did you expect me to do? We were brought up as Hunters and a Hunter I shall stay. The only reason why I didn’t kill you was because you are still my sister, even though there is evil blood in your veins now.”
“And for a moment there, I thought you were being humane!”
“Oh, and you think killing people is humane?”
“I have a reason for killing.”
“Right, the hunger controls you, you don’t control it.” He mocks me.
“You’re still arrogant,” I sneer.
“And you are still the most annoying person I have ever met.”
All eyes are upon Seth and me.
“What I don’t understand is why you didn’t kill yourself when you found out you were turned into a Demon.” He tells me.
“Kill myself! Ha! Are you crazy?”
“And what about the humiliation of being a Demon in a family of Hunters?”
“Humiliation? It was just bad luck!”
“At least I was loyal to our past.” He points out. The irony is overwhelming.
“Loyal! How the hell are you loyal? You banished your own sister in her time of need.”
“I couldn’t have you around. You were a Demon. You even changed your name.”
“So call me by the name I chose.”
“It isn’t your real name. Lilly is.”
I am not going to have a pointless argument about my name. Not here, not now.
“Why are you here, brother?”
“To destroy your race.”
“Have you not noticed?”
“That you are out-numbered.”
I can tell by his face that he has. He and his Hunters have come prepared, but not prepared enough.
A fellow Demon taps me on the shoulder.
“You have a Hunter as a brother?” He asks.
“Seth and I were brought up as Hunters, trained at such a young age that we were killing Demons as soon as we were able to wield a dagger. We saw things no child should see. On a ‘hunt,’ a Demon captured me and turned me. I killed him, but I regret it everyday. When I went back, Seth instantly knew what had happened. He banished me never to return.” I can see sympathy in the fellow Demon’s eyes, but I don’t want it. I have learned to deal with the past.
“Enough!” Seth’s voice rings through the crowd. “We are here to fight and fight we shall. And, my dear Lilly, no, I didn’t ever speak of you again, just as I am sure you never spoke of me.”
When I look at my brother, I feel torn. I know that I belong on my side as he belongs on the Hunters’ side, but he is my brother. Until today, I didn’t even know if he was dead or alive. I do not hate him. However, I know that I must slay my brother if it helps win this war. It is true that I was once a Hunter, but since I was turned into a Demon, I was targeted in the hunt too many times to count. It was cunning of the Hunters to track us to Antarctica. No one here will hear our cries of death.
I draw my sword and hold it high. The other Demons behind me follow suit.
“So be it.” I mutter.
“I never wanted it to end up this way,” Seth tells me again.
“As you have said.” I have no words of compassion for my brother. The snow has stopped falling and the air seems as though it has become still, as though it knows that the future rests on the outcome of this battle.
With my free hand, I draw a small dagger at my belt and throw it at the nearest Hunter. The others take it as a sign. All at once, I am enveloped by the sound of screaming and death.
“You never said you had a brother and you never said he was a goddamn Hunter!” Marius’s voice suddenly reaches me. I see Travis is with him.
“Can we talk about this later?” I shout over the noise, but I do not disguise my relief at finding my friends.
The battle is a blur of blood and bodies. Time feels slow, but a part of me knows it is speeding by. Hunters and Demons fall to the ground. There are so many bodies that it’s hard not to lose my balance.
Soon, more Hunters are falling than Demons. I look for Seth in the reddened snow, as blood still pours out of victims. Marius and Travis are at my side, and I am gratified to note that Travis’s skills have come along way since the first time we met.
There is no sign of Seth. Despair fills my heart. No matter what happens now, he is still my flesh and blood.
More and more bodies fall. Marius, Travis and I are in traingle formation, fighting back to back. This is what we have trained for.
The dead lie as as far as the eye can see. Some of them are sprawled over the snow, daggers and swords embedded in their ribcages. Others are impaled on spears, heads chopped off and innards drawn out of their stomachs. The smell of death fills the cloggy air. Blood is smeared across my hands and blade. I have superficial wounds that are beginning to sting. I am afraid that the two Demons who traveled with us to Antarctica are not among the living.
I never did learn their names.
I can hear choking noises as blood fills the lungs of the wounded. No Hunter is left standing. I should be rejoicing, but I am not. Some of my allies are rotting along with the enemy, including my brother. I feel dead inside, or deader than ever.
I see my friend the shopkeeper standing over a dead Hunter. I bring two fingers into my mouth – letting the taste of blood dance on my tongue– and whistle loudly. She turns around quickly and throws a dagger at me. Luckily, I was half expecting this response, and am able to duck.
“Thought you were a Hunter!” She apologizes quickly. “My name, by the way, is Viviette.”
“As you probably know, I am Lilith.” I take a moment to point out my friends. “These are my allies, Marius and Travis. If you remember.”
“I see that you have managed to hold on to that sword I gave you,” Viviette compliments Travis.
“It looks awful. ” I say to no one in particular, and look up into the sky. There is a pinkish line on the horizon.
“We better get going.” I tell my friends. We leave Antarctica bloodied and exhausted, thankful for the Demon powers that grant us strength in these times.
A few years have passed since the battle. Viviette has stayed with us; she hasn’t taken up the hobby of selling swords again. I haven’t come across another Hunter since the battle. The Demons have had a free range.
I had my suspicions for the first few months that not all the Hunters were exterminated, that some were told to stay away, just in case they lost. However it does seem as though we definitely have won the war. I would feel sorry for the humans, if I had that useless emotion they call empathy. I haven’t turned any more of them to the life of the Damned.
Presently, we are staying in an old house infested by bats. The electricity is out and we use candles. There isn’t much furniture, only a few wooden chairs that squeak under pressure. We use our jackets for pillows, our clothes turning grey from dust. Unlike most animals, the bats are not bothered by us. It’s a simple life, but I prefer it.
We are going out to feed tonight.
I walk out into the brisk night air and the others follow. All four of us are dressed in black. I step inside a house and feed on a helpless human being, savouring the taste of the victim’s sweet blood. I make my way out of the house and close the door gently behind me, making sure that I don’t make a noise.
I see dark figure creeping as though it doesn’t want to be seen. I look closely to see if I can recognise the person, however the face is covered in a black hood. I go behind some houses, walking in complete silence, making sure that the unrecognizable figure doesn’t spot me. I circle behind it and note the position of a streetlight nearby. I walk out of the shadows swiftly and yank the hood off its head.
I stagger back slightly before getting a grip on my emotions. In the split second that follows, I know he has noticed my shock.
“Seth,” I hiss the name out. “I thought you were dead.”
To be continued…