Thrall: Part 1
The man my master had commanded us to kill stood on the other side of the river, his wagon creaking as the wooden wheels began to roll over the bridge. The man was merely a shadow, even to my enhanced eyesight, silhouetted against the orange harvest moon.
To my left, another of us chattered her teeth, her fangs emerging from her lips. My own stomach growled at the thought of food, the warm blood that would gush from the man’s veins and feed us. Until now, Master had forbidden me human blood. Only the best servants could hunt for humans, and I was too new.
The wagon moved slowly, the horses straining to pull it over the arched bridge. There were two, both with dark colored coats. One wore a frayed blanket, and the other limped as though its shoes fitted improperly. The man was clearly no wealthy merchant.
One of us hissed, a sibilant, high pitched sound that only ones like us could hear. An answering hiss came from the bushes near the river.
The lead horse flicked an ear, and the man in the wagonseat shifted his weight.
As soon as the first horse set foot on the grassy bank, the one to my left attacked. Four others joined her, dark shapes against the light of the moon swarming toward the animals and their pumping, flowing blood.
I cursed in my mind. I had been turned too recently, and compared to them I was slow. I swallowed saliva, my fangs pricking my lower lip, and leaped forward, dashing through the forest.
Then light flooded the trees.
The four who had run ahead first screamed, their hissing drowned out by the sizzling of bodies exposed to solar light. I ducked behind a tree, screwing my eyes shut, the heat of the light prickling on my skin.
This was no weak man the master had sent me to take revenge on for some social slight. This was a vampire hunter.
And I was just a servant.
The light died, fading to a dull orange glow of the first light over the horizon. A solar flare would work once and couldn’t be used again for at least a day. I knew that, from…somewhere. My life before, I supposed.
My muscles tensed when the man spoke, a word to his horses or perhaps just to himself. The man was mine. The other servants were dead. I would kill the hunter, take all his blood for myself, and the master would reward me. Me, his newest servant. The command tightened my muscles further and pounded in my head, my master’s words—Kill.
I peered out from the edge of the trees, my vision sharpening with bloodlust. The man’s heart beat in a slow, steady rhythm. The light on the wagon made my eyes water, even used up as it was, but it couldn’t hurt me.
The hunter sat, a gun across his lap. He wore tight leather trousers, and my gaze lingered over his muscular thighs. For a moment I imagined more than just blood.
The thought died quickly. Since my master had turned me, any lust but lust for blood never lasted.
The man had light brown hair, though it looked red in the fading light of the solar flare. Dark eyes scanned the forest, and then settled on me.
I froze, my own thoughts tangled, my body screaming for me to take his blood. His scent, human and sweat mixed with woodsmoke and the bouquet from the village over the river, filled my nostrils.
He raised the gun. In that moment, I knew I would die.
My master’s orders still screamed in my brain, in my very being—Kill. I was a servant. I obeyed. I was a weak vampire servant, nothing more. But I knew I would die if I attacked.
I didn’t want to die.
His horse snorted. The hunter held his gun trained on my heart. The sharp wooden stake that his gun would fire jutted from the barrel. A servant like me would never survive it.
I could attack. I wanted to leap, to try and sink my teeth into his veins, to obey the orders of the one who had made me what I was. My teeth ground against each other, and my fangs drew blood from my lower lip.
Instead I turned and fled, without truly knowing why. No shot came from the forest.