Vampire Breed, page 13part #4 of Kiera Hudson Series One Series
Then he was moving away, sniffing the air like an animal - a wolf. I watched him as if I had been there the whole time, as he climbed the stairs that led from the great hall and made his way up towards the forbidden wing. But someone was waiting for him up at top of the stairs, shrouded in darkness. They stood on the landing, their head cast down, long black wings trailing from their back. Darkness cloaked them, and I tried to see through it. But the darkness masking their identity wasn’t cast by the shadows at the top of the stairs, it was as if the blackness radiated from them - a darkness so dark that it blinded me from seeing who they were.
At the top of the stairs, Sparky dropped to his knees and clasped his hands together as if in prayer. He rocked back and forth on his knees as in worship. Who could demand such reverence, I wondered? But in my heart I knew who it was, it was that invisible man that Murphy, Luke, and Potter had talked about. But what was he doing at the manor? Had he been there all along, secreted into the shadows and watching all of us? Murphy had wondered how this man had always been one step ahead of us, been able to move his followers, like Mrs. Payne, into position – perhaps he had been there all the time?
Sparky glanced up at the figure that stood before him, his hands clasped together. But I knew, like me, Sparky couldn’t see through the darkness that radiated from the figure. It was impenetrable - like a cloak surrounding him. Then the figure struck Sparky with his foot, sending him sprawling onto his arse. Turning away, the figure climbed the stairs to the secret hospital where the half-breed children lay dying, only kept alive by Doctor Ravenwood’s and Lord Hunt’s medicines.
As I lay captivated by Sparky’s bright yellow stare, I could see the figure and Sparky enter the ward hidden in the attic of the Hallowed Manor. The children in their beds recoiled even before the figure or Sparky had come close. It was as if they could sense their hatred for them. I watched as Doctor Ravenwood came from his office at the end of the ward, and he begged Sparky and the other not to hurt his patients and it was then I knew how blind I had been - I hadn’t seen it!
How had Sparky, on returning to the manor with Mrs. Lovelace, while my friends and I had fought the vampires in the clearing by the summerhouse, managed to single-handedly kill her and all the half-breeds? He also managed to overpower Doc Ravenwood and take two of the remaining children hostage. He had an accomplice – this invisible man had been waiting for him at the manor – they had acted together.
And the vision was over. No longer could I see Sparky and the winged stranger go from bed to bed, killing each of the half-breeds in turn. The pictures disappeared as quickly as they had come, like a T. V. being switched on then off.
With Sparky still astride me and grinning into my face, I reached out for the broom, which I had dropped. Curling my fingers around it, I bought the broom handle up into the air intending to bring it crashing down on top of Sparky’s skull. But it was violently snatched from my hand.
I looked up to see who had taken it from me. Phillips was standing over me grunting and panting. He pounded the broom against his chest then threw it to one side. Sparky looked up at Phillips and drooled, “Let me eat the girl now – I can feel her heart beating in her chest – it will be ripe and bloody!”
Then Sparky yelped as Phillips knocked him flying off me with the back of one of his giant claws.
“Get away from her! She’s not to be harmed – not yet anyway!” Phillips roared.
Sparky got to his feet and shook his head from side to side. He looked at Phillips and whimpered pathetically. He caught me looking at him and then giggled.
Phillips pulled me to my feet.
“Let me go!” I yelled, kicking and punching at him. “You can’t treat me like this!”
But Phillips was too strong and his hold was like a vice. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nik. He stood in the shadow of a ticket booth, tucked away from view.
“You told on me! You saw the hole and told on me!” I roared at him. “You ain’t ever going to be redeemed now. You’ll rot in hell!”
Phillips, Sparky, and the wolf turned to see who it was I was screaming at, when two winged creatures flashed past me in a wave of shadows and clattered into Phillips and Sparky.
Taken by complete surprise, Phillips crumbled to the floor, his giant black wings sending up a shower of dust and dirt from the ground. Sparky howled and the second werewolf darted away, all of them taken by surprise.
“Take these!” someone barked from beside me. Looking to my right, I could see that Nik had now appeared from the shadows of the ticket booth and was nudging what looked like a pile of rags across the ground towards me with his snout. I peered at the rags and could see that in fact it was my long black coat that I’d been wearing the day of my capture beneath the mountains. Snatching it up, I pulled it on and immediately checked the pockets. I was relieved when my fingertips brushed over my iPod, the CD I’d taken from the monastery and Murphy’s crucifix given to me by Potter. To have some of my possessions back was incredibly liberating as if I’d already escaped from my prison – but of course I hadn’t.
Pulling my coat tight about me, I looked at Nik, and with some distrust in my voice I said, “What’s going on?”
But before he’d the chance to say anything he was springing through the air towards Sparky, who was lunging at one of the winged creatures that flashed all around him in a blaze of black shadows. Sparky was quick, and he snagged one of the creatures with his claws. The creature almost seemed to stutter in mid-air and slow, and as it did so, its identity became clear.
“Kayla!” I gasped, seeing her try and pull herself free from Sparky’s grasp. Her wings beat furiously and her auburn hair rippled out behind her in the morning breeze. But I could see that her once brilliant flame coloured hair now looked dull and lifeless. Then she was gone, released back into the sky as Nik lunged at Sparky and took a bite of him with his huge gaping jaws.
There was a wailing behind me, then the familiar sound of stakes whizzing past me. Spinning round, I was overwhelmed to see Isidor, raining down a wave of stakes at Phillips. Phillips wrapped one of his wings around him as a shield, then raced towards Isidor who hovered in the air. But just as Kayla’s hair had lost its brilliance, Isidor looked pale, gaunt, and weak. He was naked to the waist, apart from the rucksack thrown over his back, and his wings that trailed from beneath his arms.
“Isidor!” I shrieked in delight at seeing him. Whether he heard me or not, I didn’t know, as he remained focused on Phillips who raced towards him. Within feet of Isidor, Phillips launched himself into the air, stakes zipping past him as Isidor released them from his crossbow. But Isidor’s aim appeared to be off, either that or Phillips had lightning reflexes as the stakes flew harmlessly past him. Knowing that Isidor was in trouble in his weakened state, I rushed forwards towards the point from which Phillips was taking off from the ground. Even though he was more than a hundred feet away, I was upon him in an instant. It was like I had disappeared and reappeared on the other side of the walkway in a blink of an eye.
Before I’d the chance to fully understand what had just happened, I was yanking at Phillips’ ankles and pulling him back out of the sky. He hit the ground with a sickening thud, and it sounded like I could hear every bone in his body rattle. Releasing him, he rolled quickly over, and seeing it was me who had thrown him to the ground, his face revealed a fleeting glimpse of surprise and shock.
Without taking his eyes from me, Phillips scrambled to his feet and I was sure I could still see that look of shock in his eyes. But he recovered quickly, spinning through the air like a rocket. Then, as if from nowhere, Kayla was plummeting from above, driving her feet into him and knocking him off course. Snapping my head to the left, I watched as Phillips flew out of control into the derelict, old ticket booth, his impact causing it to erupt into a shower of splinters.
Seizing his chance, Isidor swooped f
“We can’t leave without Luke!” I yelled over the deafening sound of the wind that rushed over his wings. “We have to go back for him!”
“Not now!” Isidor shouted back. “We’ve only just managed to escape!”
Looking back, I could see Kayla tearing through the sky behind us, her wings rippling like two glittering sails. Then from above, l watched as Nik bravely continued to fight off Sparky as we made our escape.
Clinging to Isidor, we floated silently in a mass of low-flying cloud. Kayla was beside us, her wings almost folded close, but open enough to keep her airborne. She seemed to have come a long way since I spied on her in the grounds of Hallowed Manor when she had practiced using her wings. The bony black claws at the end of each wing opened and closed as if snatching at the air. She looked like some kind of prehistoric butterfly, if any such creature had ever existed. On the other side of the cloud, I could see the shadows of the Vampyrus, as they soared back and forth in search of us. But we floated away with the clouds, unseen by our pursuers. Just like Kayla, Isidor was motionless, his wings slightly apart, just enough to keep him in the sky. It was then I remembered Luke telling Isidor about how the hunters amongst the Vampyrus used echolocation to track their prey - homing in on the vibrations that their giant wings made.
Holding my breath, we floated like that until we were cold and wet through from the cloud moisture. How long we hid like that, I couldn’t tell; it was like time had stopped inside those giant clouds. We waited for the sounds of the Vampyrus to fade away. When the only sound was the wind tugging at the strands of my filthy, unkempt hair, Isidor and Kayla cautiously descended through the clouds and back towards the ground below.
The road we landed on was narrow and it twisted its way into the distance, finally disappearing between two hills. The world seemed eerily silent, only broken by the odd bark or growl that came from amongst the trees that grew tall and wild on either side of the road. This wasn’t how I’d remembered the world to be – something had changed – but I didn‘t know what.