“It wasn’t me, why can’t they understand, why won’t anyone listen? I didn’t kill Yoshua, I loved Yoshua. It was the man with the sharp teeth… The teeth and the blood, it sings… I wasn’t behind the murders... They think themselves safe now, or maybe they think I am safe… The blood, oh it sings to me…”
Devin Larisel placed his pen down, looking away from his journal, and touched his neck, rubbing it slightly, before looking out the barred windows of the asylum. The teenager shuddered as he heard a distant scream, then turned back to his writing.
“If only I had not gone to the basketball game that day… If only I had not decided to walk the long way home… But I had to watch Yoshua…”
Devin cheered with the rush of the crowd around him; his green eyes were gleaming with the shared enthusiasm that was common at a basketball game. However, he was there to watch one player over all the others.
It was a tall basketball player with blond hair, his pale skin glistening with sweat, drenching the school uniform of the Frediksburg Muskrats.
As the game progressed, the black-haired teenager watched his favorite player on the team dodging and weaving through the other players like a dolphin in the sea. The blond boy could have been a swimmer, which was one of the things Devin liked about Yoshua.
The blond boy smiled up at the stands and just like that the game was over. The Muskrats won by a mere five points over the Galewood Tigers.
The dark-haired teen smiled one last time before standing from his seat and making his way through the stands along with the crowd towards the exit of the stadium. For a brief moment Devin thought that someone was watching him. The boy looked around and found nothing but the cheering crowd. He shrugged it off.
The kid walked out towards the parking lot, a smile plastered on his face, and his cheeks red from the chill. It was February, and there was a layer of snow upon the ground that squished like slush under the boy’s feet. Frost particles filtered through the air, but the temperature was hardly cold. In fact, Devin actually enjoyed it and his coat was partially open as he walked.
The teenager had plenty of time to be home, so he decided to look around the Boardwalk Club first, knowing full well that Yoshua would be there partying with his teammates.
The sixteen-year-old began walking leisurely down the streets towards his goal, humming a happy tune as he trudged along, watching cars pass him by with little care.
Devin strode past an alleyway, and unexpectedly, an icy chill passed through him to his bones. The boy stopped and turned looking around, and there in the alleyway was a hooded man leaning against the wall of the building.
The man looked up at Devin, and the boy could see that the man’s eyes almost seemed to shimmer in the moonlight. The man grinned at the teen, his white teeth almost shining in the lamp light.
Devin shuddered again, fear tickling up his spine as he slowly backed away from the alley and began moving a bit faster down the street. After half a block, he looked back nervously only to see the guy following him.
The boy fled around the corner and came upon Main Street. Sprinting fearfully, Devin made his way towards The Boardwalk and he began to feel a little safer with his goal in sight.
But just then the man walked almost casually out of an alleyway in front of Devin, giving the teen an evil sneer.
Devin came to an abrupt stop, turned and crossed to the opposite side of the street.
“How’d he do that…?” said Devin, as he looked back over his shoulder to see if the guy was following him, only to find that the man was again nowhere to be seen.
Devin let out a breath of relief, although he could not quite shake his fear and confusion. He continued on his way back towards the club, all the while wondering how the man was able to appear and disappear so suddenly. The pale teenager let out a confused sigh, and mumbled to himself. “Can this night get any weirder?”
Devin turned and made his way down the street once more, and was about to cross the street again in order to get to the club when he saw the guy in the hoodie leaning against the club wall looking at him.
The man touched his nose and shook his head grinning at the teenager, as if to say, “Nice try kid.” The hooded man stood away from the wall and began to cross the street.
At that point Devin decided to call the police, even though he wasn’t sure whether they would believe him. The boy placed his phone to his ear.
His hand began to tremble uncontrollably causing him to drop the phone, just as the operator was introducing herself.
Devin gasped, cursing under his breath, as he watched the phone hit the ground and shattered into plastic shards. The teenager looked up and down the street confused and seeking a way out of his predicament, his green eyes filled with uncertainty. The boy’s pale skin was beaded with sweat that even matted down his hair, even though he felt cold as fear trickled through him, settling in his stomach like a bar of lead.
The boy turned and ran down a darkened street looking for a weapon. After a few moments, the boy gasped, realizing his right hand felt kind of wet and was going numb. Devin pulled his hand up to his face in the dim light to see a long almost spider web shaped gash in the palm, dripping blood blackly into the frosty snow.
Devin frowned, “What the hell?” He rubbed the blood off on his shirt quickly and let out a cry of pain. The boy immediately brought his hand back up for closer examination, and saw a piece of plastic jutting out like an iceberg in the sea. Devin put the fingers of his other hand onto the piece of plastic and with an anguished whimper, yanked the plastic out of his hand-his knees nearly gave from the feeling.
Devin saw a metal bar sitting partially broken off of an old building, and took hold of it, wrenching the bar off with the loud screech of tearing metal. The boy turned a corner going into a long narrow street. Devin was now within the eldest part of the town, the street had turned to cobblestone, and the buildings had entirely closed him in vertically on both sides. The boy tried to calm down, as he looked down the street which intersected another in a T form, in the dim light he could barely make it out.
Frost and snow was glittering around him as Devin began making his way towards the other side.
Then the boy saw him at the other end, the man in the hoodie, his eyes were glowing a blood red color. The man started walking down the street towards the frightened teen.
Devin spun around, only to see another ragged teenager walking towards him from the other way. There was something not right about the raggedy teenager. He was giving Devin the same look that the hooded man gave not so long ago, a look that radiated an evil hunger. Devin raised his makeshift weapon as the frost fell like tears to the ground.
Out of nowhere there was a clattering from the roof tiles, followed by three more thuds around him. The boy turned his head slightly, three others standing near him. One was a woman dressed in a pale gown, more fitting on an actress of the 1940s than on a modern woman. A second was a tall muscle-bound Latino wearing no shirt despite the chilly air.
Then Devin saw the obvious leader and swung his makeshift weapon in desperation, trying to hit the bald man across his tattooed head.
The middle-aged man grinned, his hand snapping out lightning fast to take hold of the weapon even as Devin swung it at him. He held the weapon against the boy’s movements while he made eye contact with the frightened teenager. The man’s blue eyes turned into a fierce red, boring straight into the kid’s mind and heart.
Devin’s mind filled with fear and dread, paralyzing his body. The teen dropped the weapon onto the street with a loud clatter. The man grinned and Devin was barely able to hear the man’s words from his shattered mind. “Well done, Neto. You manipulated him very well.”
The hooded man almost squirmed with pleasure, “Thank you Master….”
The cruel being smirked then pulled Devin close to him. Leaning over the boy the man caught a glimpse of a strange black necklace with a flame imprinted in the metal. The man tore the necklace from the boy’s neck, and with a flick of his wrist tossed it down the street. He paused for a moment, sniffing at the air, soaking in Devin’s fear. Then the man swiftly leaned in and sank his fangs into the teenager’s neck.
There was nothing gentle or kind about the bite. This man was a monster.
The pain from the bite brought Devin back into reality, breaking the hold fear held on the boy. He tried to fight the monster and to push at the thing latched onto his shoulder, only to feel his arms being grappled with and bitten.
One of the attackers latched onto his upper arm, it was the Latino man from before. Devin could see the man’s tattoos, most prominent of which were gang symbols scrawled up the man’s neck.
Then, like a ghost the woman had joined the others and bit into the boy’s shoulder opposite of her leader, holding Devin’s arm roughly in place.
Devin’s ability to fight back had been cut off, as his feet were barely able to hold him up, much less able to kick at the monsters around him. It made him little more than a witness to the attack on his body and in those moments the teenager was forced to notice even the smallest things about his last two attackers.
Devin watched as Neto bit into his injured hand, almost as to claim Devin’s previous injury as his property. The hood fell backwards revealing that he wasn’t a man, but a teenager who couldn’t have been much older than Devin. Three earrings pierced his left ear, and two necklaces dangled limply around his neck. The boy looked up to Devin’s eyes, almost out of curiosity of what he was consuming more than anything else.
But Devin was more than a little surprised to see something else in the boy’s eyes: pity.
Then another slender hand almost tenderly gripped Devin’s left. Devin turned his head to see the ragged teen that had been behind him only moments ago. He had wavy reddish-golden hair, making Devin think of marigolds when he looked at the kid. The boy was at least two years younger than Devin’s sixteen summers, and he looked underfed, anorexic even. The ragged vampire gave Devin a sorrow-filled smile as he bit into Devin’s hand.
Devin’s heart went out to his last attacker even if the latter was helping to kill him. His hand caressed that face weakly as his eyes rolled back in his head and he lost consciousness.
They say when you die, the entirety of your life flashes before your eyes. However, Devin’s mind did not see his life, but something else. A light seemed to be growing behind his eyes as the rest of his world was fading, and from it a woman with raven-colored hair walked gracefully towards the boy.
She wore a long purple dress, almost looking like a ball-gown from the movies about the 1800s. The woman smiled at him gently. She had pale skin, and green eyes. Her features were so similar to Devin’s that it almost seemed like he was seeing an older, female version of himself.
Devin gasped and dully mumbled, “Who are…you?”
The pale-skinned woman just smiled as she continued walking slowly forward. Her green eyes glimmered as she smiled gently at him. The lady bent forward and he could swear he felt her lips touch his forehead. Then she whispered into his ear, her voice gentle as a song.
“You are worthy of Manessah, my son…”
Devin’s eyes fluttered open and were glowing a fierce blue as he was thrust back into the world of the living. He took in the scene once more. His dripping blood turned black and onyx feathers, lifting up from the ground around him.
Neto’s master was the first to notice something was wrong. He opened his eyes to see Devin’s eyes shining blue in the night.
He lifted up his fangs in disbelief from Devin’s neck, only to be propelled down the street the moment he did so. He flew into the gate of a courtyard, bending it with fierce crash.
Devin, not really knowing what he was doing, looked at the big Latino.
In seconds the thuggish vampire let go of him. The man gasped, holding onto his own throat. Then fell onto the ground writhing in pain.
The smell of cooking and burnt flesh filled the air as the gangster’s skin turned an angry red, then began bubbling. He reached his hand up looking at Devin as if to ask for mercy, but all that came from his mouth was a gurgling sound. Then fire shot from the man’s eyes as they burst, and his body twitched, smoke rising from it, before the man stilled, leaving a blackened corpse at Devin’s feet.
Another of his attackers let go of Devin immediately and took hold of Devin’s neck, it was a blond woman. She looked to be only 30 at most, her long, curled hair did little to shadow the look of hatred she now had on her face.
Devin smiled up at the woman dreamily, his mind and body feeling as if it was filling with power, leaving the boy’s mind far away from the actual condition of his body, or the threat posed by the woman in front of him.
Neto felt something strange in the blood that touched his lips. It was powerful, filled with both a young energy and something ancient and much stronger than his master. The boy continued drinking greedily from their intended victim, his desire for this new substance overwhelming any caution he might have had.
He continued to quench his thirst and need, ignoring Rencor as the big thug let go of Devin, and even the smell of burnt flesh. It was only his master’s eldest, Carole, yanking him away from their prey that forced Neto to stop. The young flew backwards landing on his rear with a gasp. Then the teenage vampire spun around and scrambled away from the scene.
As he moved down the street on all fours, Neto’s hand touched something small and metallic. He took hold of it, and realized that it was the necklace tossed away during the struggle. As he examined the object his eyes strayed to his master, Franz Merkel.
The master vampire strode past Neto, slowly approaching their victim.
The boy had only seen the current look on Merkel’s face once before; it was a look that meant death. Neto scrambled to stand up and ran out of the alleyway as his master passed him. Neto was barely more than a fledgling vampire, he was just a clamae; his master couldn’t expect him to fight something that could kill one of his lieutenants.
He turned and looked back only for a moment, before committing himself to his fear. His eyes filled with the sight of the youngest of their pack, Alexander, still drinking from the prey even while Carole attempted to tear out the human’s throat, and Rencor’s still smoking body lying near the human’s feet.
The boy ran down the street, fleeing to where the group hid themselves. He could hear someone other than his master singing within his blood, and it confused him even more than the battle behind him.
Back on the old cobblestone street, Devin smiled dreamily up the female vampire not even realizing that she was trying to kill him. The teenager’s hand was still stroking the fledgling named Alexander, even as the boy feasted on Devin’s blood.
Devin did not know how he knew young vampire’s name, or why the vampire was called a fledgling. He looked down at the boy and Alexander looked back.
However Alexander’s eyes betraying his intent: the fledgling’s own death.
Devin could see suicidal thoughts floating behind those eyes, and it angered him. The teenager growled, yanking his hand away, tossing the marigold-headed vampire off, onto the ground in a heap.
The fledgling immediately started to scream, his face turning white as he clutched his stomach and began coughing up blood harshly. His mouth moved back and forth not even able to pronounce a word after the second scream. Finally, the boy laid still his eyes vacant, drool flowing out of his mouth onto the snow.
This act snapped Devin’s mind back into reality and he could actually feel the woman trying to tear out his throat. Throwing his hands in front of himself, he pushed her body away from him.
Carole was only able to hold on for a second before she was literally thrown backwards towards her master.
Merkel’s body was a blur as he easily dodged his minion. His eyes glowed red in anger, “What is your name boy, so that I may remember your death and grin.”
Devin looked at him, and for some reason was compelled by some unknown pride to say his name, “Devin Larisel….” He paused for a moment before pronouncing words not his own, “The Raven of House Manessah.”
There was a flicker of surprise in Merkel’s eyes at the pronouncement of those words. The vampire master growled angrily before half-flying across the alley at Devin, the boy’s hands coming up to shield himself from the man’s attack.
The old pipe the boy had earlier discarded flew up into his hand. The onyx feathers that had been floating haphazardly around Devin shot up and gathered around the rusty pipe at the boy’s feet. Black and shinning blue energy seemed to flow around them for a brief second as the pipe and feathers transformed into an onyx black-bladed sword catching the elder vampire’s outstretched hand.
Devin pushed on the blade glaring at the elder vampire, a grim look of determination spread upon his face. “If I die, I will take you down with me…”
Merkel hissed pulling back from the boy before him, his eyes showing actual fear. The bloodied vampire backed away slowly, “We’ll meet again, Devin Larisel.” With that the man turned and walked down the alleyway pulling his lady back to her feet and disappeared into the night.
Devin slowly pulled the black-bladed weapon down as he watched them go. He was breathing heavily, his face shallow and exhausted. Soon after the two disappeared the boy placed, a step forward. Then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the ground, his last thoughts were of Yoshua and home.
Neto watched his master pacing angrily around the old warehouse. He climbed onto some machinery, sitting down he watched his master continued ranting to his first born.
“I want him dead Carole! Dead, ashes…” Merkel ranted half-screaming towards Carole.
The female vampire frowned, her face a calm mask. Something she was used to do from years of acting. “But my love, I do not believe it is wise… he is obviously more than a mere human.”
Merkel glared upon her. He raised his hand into the air, wanting so badly to strike her for having the arrogance to even talk back to her master.
The woman stood coolly at him not even flinching, her emotions seemingly at a deadpan.
Neto wished he was as brave as her. He would be though, if he asked it of him. An image flashed in Neto’s mind of the boy in the alleyway standing tall and brave. He shook his head to clear it, his blond hair moving a little on his head. He didn’t really understand what was going on in his mind and it confused the young vampire.
Merkel stopped his hand in midair, suddenly caressing her cheek rather than striking it, “No my love, you know I can never harm you, my greatest creation and my greatest flaw.” He placed his hand on her neck gently, “You are right, he is not just an ordinary human. Being only 64, you are not old enough to know what he is. You were not there when we burned Antrim, and slaughtered the House Manessah. None of them should be alive, much less someone calling themself the Raven.”
Merkel looked up as if not seeing the room before him, “I remember as it was yesterday, when the Raven Queen of the North, the Mistress of Manessah stood before lord Drac. She laughed at the lord of House Ephraim, calling the Red Lion a puppy, and a dabbler. Lord Drac stabbed her right in the heart for her arrogance.”
Neto arched an eyebrow as he listened to the story. He knew, as most vampires did, that stabbing a vampire in the heart would only paralyze them and not kill them, contrary to the modern opinion.
Merkel laughed bitterly, “The woman should have been paralyzed and unable to do anything, but she exploded into a pile of those accursed feathers her house is so known for. Soon afterwards the building caught fire…. None of the House Manessah survived we saw to that…” He turned looking at Neto with a glare, “You boy, bring us a new recruit. We will need to rebuild our forces, and soon this… Pup will die by my hands.”
Neto scampered off the top of the machine to find Merkel a likely candidate for recruitment. The teenager didn’t notice the fact that he didn’t think of Merkel as his Master anymore. As he was heading towards the exit of the building, he could faintly hear the elder vampire speaking to his chosen wife. “Hmm… I think Lord Drac would find this…. Very interesting, a second chance perhaps to take Manessah’s blood… Leave me Carole. I need to contact him.”
Neto left the old building, slinking into the shadows of the early morning hours. It was getting late and would soon be daylight; however there was something that bothered the young vampire. It was in his mind, a blond headed basketball player named Yoshua. That boy would be the first candidate, and something within him demanded it. Something told him, that he needed him, that…. His new master needed him.