“I’m freezing my tits off here,” Vicky mumbled as she pulled her parka closer around her, and glanced up at the mid-day sun.
Everything had started off so well. It was a simple mission to go find an old god and convince him to come back to Charlotte to join his grandson in a conspiracy to overthrow God. Brock had handed over a drop of blood for Gerry to use, and the Dux had performed a successful tracking spell. With a general location, Vicky hopped on a plane and headed to the old country. That was nearly twenty-four hours ago.
Now, it was the middle of the day, she was as weak and feeble as a human, and she was pretty sure she’d found where the titan they once called Prometheus was staying.
“You’ve got to be shitting me.” Vicky looked back at the Sherpa that had led her here. She couldn’t do anything right now, but in five hours she’d rip the guy’s throat out if he was bullshitting her.
The promise of sweet revenge didn’t do much to quell her nerves at the moment. There was an uncomfortable tingle in her spine that she had trouble identifying as dread, or frostbite, working its way between her layers. For whatever ungodly reason, Prometheus decided he wanted to live out his Divine-enforced exile in the Himalayas, and several hours walk from the nearest village. The grandson of the primordial being that had created the Earth was currently slumming it in a damp cave at the base of a mountain. Vicky had trouble believing the Sherpa wasn’t yanking her chain.
“Are you positive?” She held out a few more hundred dollar bills and they were nearly pulled from between her fingers by the wind. “If he isn’t here,” she drew her finger across her throat in a universally known gesture.
The Sherpa was bigger than her, and chuckled at the motion, but he still nodded emphatically. Vicky was pretty sure he spoke perfectly good English, but was playing the ignorant native to get more cash out of her. Vicky didn’t care about money, she cared about not returning empty handed.
“You sure?” She held out the cash and the man snatched away the bills and tucked them securely in his native garb.
He nodded again, and said whatever passed for yes in his language. Then he did something that looked like jazz hands and started walking away.
“Wait! Where the fuck are you…” Vicky yelled after him, but he was already gone. “Stupid ass muncher,” she cursed as she turned back to the caves opening and a fresh wave of dread washed down her spine. This time she was certain of the sensation.
There was a reason that Vicky liked to stay in the good, old US of A. The supernatural community in the States had a semblance of order to it. The covens had dominance over their territory, and people rarely fucked with each other. Sure, mangy hounds still roamed the area and occasionally had to be put down, but infighting between Vampire, and magic users was on the DL. That wasn’t to say nothing ever happened. After all, the local sorcerers had hired Gerry, as a martial magician, to kill Soulless, but that had ended up backfiring.
Despite the temporary, low-key warfare, the new world was nothing like the old one. Covens had been battling for millennia over small swaths of territories. Packs of werewolves hundreds strong still roamed through the wilderness, and creatures older than both of their species still skulked in the darkness. By coming to this place, and being out in the daylight, Vicky was putting herself in danger, and she hoped Gerry realized that.
<I don’t know what the fuck he realizes and doesn’t now-a-days.> Vicky took a deep breath and started moving toward the cave’s mouth.
She wasn’t sure where she stood with the Dux, and his fancy new throne, but she knew if she came back with Prometheus, and offered up Caroline for a good hump or two, she’d be back in his good graces for sure.
The mouth of the cave was concealed by an old tarp that had camflogued with the rock around it over time. One whiff of it, and Vicky knew it had been skinned off the hide of some large animal. The way the scales on the back glistened in virtually no light gave her an idea. She let the flap of the animal tarp close behind her and plunge her into near-darkness. Step by step she started forward. After a dozen, the gleam from the animal hide disappeared when she rounded a bend, and she was devoured by total blackness.
<Don’t piss your panties.> She reassured herself as she continued forward while using the walls as a guide. <I’m so going to butcher that Sherpa and his whole family.> She tried to cheer herself up after a few minutes of walking.
She was so busy imagining the various ways that she could do it that she walked face-first into another animal hide at the end of the tunnel. She unceremoniously squeaked and nearly tripped over her own feet in her scramble backwards before catching herself. <Put on your big girl pants.> She chastised herself as light danced on the other side of the settling tarp.
Knowing it was better to look in control, then like a frightened teenager, she marched forward and pulled aside the curtain. Fire flickered everywhere around a large cavern. Her eyes scanned the place for a person and didn’t see anything. In one corner there was a dark pool. Fifty foot stalactites descended from the ceiling until ending just a few feet from the surface. Every few seconds, water would drip from the tip of the geological formation and plop into the pool. The sound of the drop impacting the surface of the pond echoed through the cavern. Something so small should not be able to make a noise so loud. It grated on the nerves.
“I know, right,” a deep voice stated from right next to her.
This time Vicky did scream. A moment before that space had been empty, and now a large man stood there. She scrambled to the side, ended up slipping, and falling on her ass. She was pretty sure her tailbone was bruised thanks to the rocks covering the floor.
<Not rocks…bones.> Vicky might have peed herself a little when she scrambled back to her feet.
She’d been so focused on the pond and stalactites that she’d missed the graveyard all around her. Dry bones crunched beneath her feet as she quickly backpeddled away from the man blocking her exit back to the tunnel. Shadows covered his face, but he didn’t move to intercept her.
Vicky tried to compose herself, and convince herself she wasn’t going to end up like whatever remains were in here. “Yeah, um…nice place you’ve got here,” she replied as she found a rather large bone and took a seat. It hid the fact that her legs were shaking.
“As far as prisons go it could be worse.” The man moved and his face came into view.
It was a face that was handsome at some point, but lines and tired eyes had overwritten the rugged good looks. Tangled black hair sprinkled with silver came all the way down to his shoulder, while a bushy beard and mustache covered the entirety of the bottom of his face. It was a worn face, but the piercing hazel eyes that gazed out of it were as sharp as ever…and interested.
“What does a daughter of Satan want with little old me?” Prometheus continued walking around her.
Despite being worn down by imprisonment, the old god still had a powerful body. Large shoulders on top of a big chest, that led down to a thin waist, showed a powerful man who would have been irresistible in his prime. He was easily a head taller than Vicky, and that was while he was walking stooped over. The stoop drew her attention. It wasn’t natural, <Maybe an injury?>
“Daughter of Satan?” Vicky had never been called that before.
“I can smell his curse on you, girl,” Prometheus spat. He clearly didn’t like the King of Hell.
“I am a Soulless, Lieutenant of Dux Gerry, who’s come to…”
“Pass,” he interrupted with a wave of his hand.
“What?” Vicky was caught off guard.
“I’m going to pass on whatever you’re about to make a grand speech about.” Prometheus plopped down on the center of a big pile of bones.
“You don’t even know what I’m going to ask.”
“Don’t need to,” the old god shrugged. “I don’t want any part of it.”
“Why not?” Vicky looked on the man with pity, and reconsidered his ability to help Gerry.
Prometheus patted a large bone next to him. “This is why.” The old god closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “This was Maximus, a Grand Drake. He was my steed. We were fought together and were friends for the better part of a millennium. When we finally lost, he became my cellmate. In the end it was him or me. We fought, I won, and he was lunch.”
Vicky looked around the room and saw a pattern emerge in the bones. There were a few foreign piled here and there, but the vast majority was clearly from one large creature. It had to be one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet from end to end.
“That sucks.” Vicky didn’t know what else to say.
“Yeah, it sucks.” The word sounded funny on the old god’s lips, but that didn’t matter. When she refocused her attention on him, he was standing less than a foot away.
She tried to flinch back, but his hand shot out like a viper, and clamped down on her like a steel vice. She didn’t scream though, because she knew it wouldn’t do shit.
“I’ve got the local villagers scared enough that they bring me a meal once a year; sacrificial virgin and all that. We have fun, I treat her well for a few days before finishing her. The hunger is…insatiable.”
“I feel ya there.” Vicky tried to sound indifferent, but her voice still shook. “I am a vampire.”
“Touché,” Prometheus replied as he inhaled deeply, savoring her scent. “I’ll make it quick. You won’t feel a thing. Sorry you got tricked into being my yearly snack.”
“I guess you’ll never hear what Brock has to say.” Vicky played the ace up her sleeve and prayed to Seere it worked.
“Brock?” Prometheus quirked an eyebrow.
“Bacchus, he goes by Brock where I’m from.” Her explanation caused him to hesitate, but she couldn’t break his grip and escape even if she wanted.
“I haven’t seen my grandson in millennia.” Instead of softening, the old god’s face grew cold and angry. “You tease me with his name when you know there is no way I can confirm whether you know him or not. For that, you’ll die slowly and painfully as I tear the flesh from your bones.”
“Fuck, man…sorry. Here’s his blood to prove it.” She handed over the small sample in a glass vial.”
For the first time during their conversation, Prometheus looked genuinely surprised. He looked at the vile of blood like it was a mountain of hamburgers. Drool literally leaked out the side of his mouth. One moment he was drooling, and the next he’d snatched the vile out and popped the lid. He breathed in deep and smiled.
His face cracked like old wood as he engaged muscles he hadn’t used in hundreds of years. His yellow teeth glinted in the firelight as he marched up to the tarp and ripped it aside. Something golden sparked into existence when he tried to pass through the opening, but Prometheus upturned the bottle and poured half the blood onto the barrier Vicky hadn’t encountered.
The barrier, sparked and red veins spread across it. Prometheus pushed against it harder and harder. Vicky sensed the effort as the air around her grew heavier, and the whole cavern groaned under the strain. After a few seconds, the golden light flashed brightly and died. Prometheus pushed forward into the tunnel and laughed like a mad man before sprinting away.
Vicky followed as fast as she could, but wasn’t able to catch up until coming to a second barrier where the original tarp across the cave’s mouth was. The old god had already poured the blood onto it and was pushing his way through. The whole mountain seemed to protest the action, and chunks of rock were starting to come loose from the ceiling.
<No fucking way I’m getting buried in some avalanche.> Vicky hurried to where the old god was pushing through the golden barrier and passed through unobstructed.
A moment later, Prometheus broke through. The entire mountain seemed to lurch as he broke free, and a puff of debris erupted from the cave entrance as the tunnel collapsed in on itself. It was quickly swept away in the cold wind, but the old god didn’t care. He stood outside his prison and laughed while raising two middle fingers up toward Heaven.
“So, Brock’s blood is what set you free, and he knew that would happen.” Vicky had wondered why Gerry had told her to take the blood with her.
“The only thing that could free me from my prison was someone of my bloodline, and my jailer told me they were all dead. I had no hope until you arrived.” Prometheus turned toward her, and his face was serious. “I owe you a debt…”
“Victoria, but you can call me Vicky.” Vicky introduced herself.
“I owe you a debt Victoria.” Prometheus bowed, took her hand, and lightly caressed it with his lips.
Victoria felt like she was struck by lightning. <Holy shit.> Hot and bothered didn’t even start to cover it.
“Yeah, well…umm…how about we go see Brock and we can talk about that debt later.”
“Very well,” nothing looked like it could ruin Prometheus’ good mood. Suddenly, a ball of blue flame erupted in the old god’s hand. He tossed it back and forth, and then rolled it up his arm, across his shoulders and down the opposite arm. “I’ve still got it.” The fire winked out of existence, and with it went the temporary warmth it had created. In fact, all the snow within a few feet of them had melted, but was quickly reforming into ice.
“Follow me.” Vicky set out toward the Sherpa’s village.
The Sherpa hadn’t said anything about being offered as a sacrifice, so she thought a little bit of revenge was on the table. Plus, she was pretty sure Prometheus was hungry, and she wanted the guy strong enough to do something when they got back to Gerry. It was a win-win for her.