ABOUT    CAST    ARCHIVE    FORUM    BONUS          
   Previous    Next 
Kingfisher fan fiction
by DJ Morden

Harlan, Dragomir Estate, 60 years ago...

     To say Francesca was annoyed would be an understatement. It wasn't unusual for Tomasz to ruin her day by ordering her about, nor was it strange that he told her little of why she was needed. The most frustrating thing of the night was the implied order of 'dolling' up, which further implied that she was to be paraded around. Huffing, Fran fidgeted in the dress Demy had bought her earlier; it was black, covered with what seemed to be beads, and apparently the rage in current fashion.
     It seems equality for the sexes means women can be more open about being sluts Francesca thought, unhappy that so much of her skin was on display. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but this isn't really my style.
     There was a light knock at the door. “Come in” she called but kept her eyes fixed on the mirror, pulling and prodding the fabric in a futile attempt to magically lengthen it.
     Demetri stepped in, dressed in a rather fetching grey suit with silver trimmings. She suppressed a smile when he walked up to her twirling a cane.
     “My my dear sister, you would certainly cause a scandal going out like this” he teased, raising an eyebrow as half her back was on display.
     “You said all the women were wearing them?”
     Demetri shrugged. “Among a few select groups yes”.
     She rolled her eyes. “Why I take what you say at face value sometimes I'll never know. Anyway you're one to talk. About to meet the King of the Dandies?”
     “Oh so cruel!” he mockingly shielded his face and pretended to weep.
     Fran chuckled slightly, reaching for a couple hair pins. “So... any news as to the big reasons for all this running around?”
     Demetri stepped over to the bed and sat down, laying the cane across his leg. “All I was able to get from dear old dad was that an old friend had made an unexpected appearance”.
     “Tomasz has friends?” Francesca shuddered at the thought there was someone who shared enough likes with the old bastard that he would openly call them that.
     “Yes, a worrying thought” Demetri paused for a moment. “The way he talked about it as well... makes me wonder how long ago he made this acquaintance”.
     Fran paused halfway through twirling one of the pins in hair. “You don't think it could be as far back as when he turned?”
     Demetri's eyes widened slightly. “Now... that would be interesting.”
     Not very pleasant though, Fran said to herself. She raised her other hand and began to weave both through her dark hair at a slightly inhuman speed. Normally she would take her time but if Demy was already here then a little help was called for.
     Demetri practically glided back over to the door, spinning the cane with flourish once more. He held up his left arm “Shall we my lady?”
     “Let's get it over with” she muttered.

     Her initial thoughts of the event was that it was going to be solely a Dragomir affair. But last night had seen Tomasz sending word to all of the Circle 'requesting' their presence to welcome the mystery guest. At one point Fran had considered seeing if Sarah knew anything as the favourite child, but decided against it for two reasons; 1. The little cow would be abrasive and annoying once Fran expressed she needed something, whether or not there was anything to know, and 2. Owing Sarah a favour did not sound appealing.
     The couple sauntered down a few corridors and stairs before arriving at the central lobby. Fran found the size of the building was unnecessary, who really need this much space? She was sure there were parts of the mansion she had never even set foot in. However it made avoiding the unpleasant side of the family more easy and her room was far enough away so she couldn't hear some of Tomasz's... excesses.
     The lobby was fairly circular and separated into two sections by a large stair case. Most of the guests though were mingling in the lower half, Francesca suspected that it was because the lower section had a full stocked bar. Greyburn had been the earliest, led in by Helen while Ellen made a straight line towards the alcohol. The old lord was currently molesting one of the wooden figures carved into a pillar, for lack of a better word, while Helen stood awkwardly nearby.
     Lepponen sat in one of the large plush chairs near the entrance, her feet barely touching the floor. Florence was in the chair opposite and the two seemed to be chatting pleasantly. Thierry was behind the bar, doing silly magic tricks (floating bottles, summoning a tap dancing imp) while Ellen smiled and laughed. It was impossible to tell whether Ellen was actually enjoying herself with the brat or she was politely humouring him.
     Then there was Sombreta, taking up one of the couches with her skinny legs curled up on the other seat. Gaston-Louis stood like an eerie shadow behind the furniture, and the new baby of the Circle sat on a cushion in front of Angela as she fondly rubbed his hair. Francesca felt Demetri tense up slightly as their gaze landed on the blonde boy. Outwardly her brother showed recoginition of the lad but Fran knew better; Vitus had done no wrong but seeing him brought back the failure with Henry.
     “Are you ok?” Fran asked, laying a hand on his shoulder.
     He smiled grimly. “Yes dear Frannie. Time is a healer as the saying goes”. She didn't press him on that specific matter as they descended the staircase, but a bolt of inspiration came to her. “I'm surprised Angela brought the boy out of his gilded cage. She can be so stifling don't you agree? The poor dear must have so many questions still unanswered... too bad we don't see enough of him.”
     Demetri raised an eyebrow but remained silent. Francesca smiled to herself, he probably guessed what she was doing but also understood why. After all Demetri had spent a fair share of his life as a pretty accessory and knew how quickly that could wear down a person. They reached the bottom, waved and called hello to the rest of their friends.
     “No sign of the tyranny,” Demetri whispered as they made their way to the bar.

     “Probably trollied out to meet our honored guest” Fran whispered back. Ellen laughed as Thierry had summoned another little imp which was now somersaulting in parallel to the other imp on the lids of wine bottles. The centuries old teenager glanced as the two Dragomirs approached and made no effort to hide the annoyance on his face.
     “My, such a display of power” Demetri said, as he snatched a bottle just before one of the imps could land. “It's a wonder you deign to grace us with your presence this evening.”
     Thierry sniffed and folded his arms. “If I could have avoided this charade believe me I would have... I've got better things to do then pony up to the man's game”.
     “Mmhmm yet here you are like a good little game piece,” Demetri smiled.
     “Hey, I'll gladly take all the free booze I can get. Besides if you're paying for it all the better!”
     Fran rolled her eyes as she (begrudgingly) took the seat next to Ellen. The pale woman shifted uncomfortably, not knowing how to address Francesca after their little... incident. Demetri, whilst sending a few jibes at the Chartrain lad, was undoubtedly watching the two women in case something awkward occurred. Not that he would enjoy such an event at his sister's expence, at least not without a good deal of wine. The Dragomir bar always had blood from rarefied drunkards on tap, for the exclusive guests.
     “That's a... lovely dress Francesca,” Ellen ventured, though she kept her body perfectly still, almost readying to run if things got too out of hand.
     “Hmm yes well, it's the height of Harlan fashion, so I'm told.” I must remember to get Demy back for this... perhaps hide one of his paintings for a week.
     “Oh yes! I.. I think saw other versions at the gala Aubrey had a few weeks ago.”
     “Another gala? At that dreadful place he calls a house?” Fran shook her head. “How he even gets guests to those things is a mystery and proof that humans can be really, really stupid.”
     Ellen stiffened slightly but carried on. “Yes. He was unveiling another collage exhibition.”
     Fran groaned. “Not more rabbit feet stuck to skulls.”
     “I think it was frogs this time,” Ellen said. The two women remained silent while Demetri and Thierry wrestled for control of the bar. Well not actually wrestling more like trading insults whilst edging each other out of the way.
     Thankfully the experience was short lived. The large double doors to the lobby swung open, barely making a sound. The Circle vampires all stood up and moved forward to see the mystery guest being led in by Tomasz.

     As Francesca had guessed Sarah was right by his side looking as smug as ever. To their left was the long awaited visitor. A tall, dark skinned woman, curvaceous wearing a red dress, and with a certain strut in the way she walked. Her hair fell past her shoulders in dark waves and she was all smiles. To the woman's right was a Kastanian man, just a little shorter then her. He wore a simple black suit and a rose placed in the front pocket. He looked no older then twenty but Fran could see the years in his eyes. He seemed quite muscular and his face was all manly angles, the kind of person you would expect to see lifting impossibly large beams of wood.
     In between Tomasz and the woman was a wisp of a girl with mousy brown hair. There was a fragileness to the way she moved and her eyes kepting darting over the assembled group. It didn't help that she was dressed in a white gown adding to the overall doll like image. Fran guessed the girl was still fairly new.
     Tomasz came to a halt just a few steps in front of everyone. “My friends, may I present a dear old comrade of mine. Lady Imala of Kallas,” he made a waving motion with his hand which Imala took as a cue to bow down.
     “Oh it has been so long since I visited Glenland. And lo and behold, who doI find just few days into the journey?” She smiled again, showing more of her teeth this time. “I must say when Tomasz told me of his little initiative I was surprised. Most vampires I know can't stand to be around others for too long, yet here you all are claiming an entire city!”
     Sombreta stepped forward and held out her hand. “Yes, its been quite the venture. I myself preferred a life on the breeze yet I found I can hardly say no to him”.
     Imala took Angela's hand. “Well once he sets his mind to something he usually gets it done.”
     Tomasz waved his hand. “Oh stop, its not as if I can force everyone to do as I please.”
     There was a collective effort not to roll eyes at the statement. Francesca couldn't help but feel she had already seen this woman before. Perhaps in one of those old portraits of noble families hanging in the Harlan museum. What she could decide on straight away though was that Imala was dangerous. Everything about her radiated the wolf in sheep's clothing.
     Imala brought her hands around her two companions and pulled them forward. “My children. The oldest is Carlos here,” there was a brief tug at the edges of his mouth, which seemed to signify a smile. “And my new daughter, Annette.”
     The doll girl curtseyed, causing a small snicker to break out among the progenitors. Imala pouted slightly, “Do forgive the poor dear, its been a couple years but she's still getting the hang of things... Now you must be Lepponen.”
     The small woman bowed her head slightly. “A pleasure to meet you my dear, and your children seem just darling.”
     “Oh yes!” Imala draped herself over Carlos, running her hand against his chest. “My boy is so caring and my dear girl is quite the talker when she gets going.” The man once again gave a small attempt at a smile.
     The lady pulled herself off Carlos and tilted her head to Greyburn. “And that leaves the... unique Lord Greyburn, from what I understand you are quite the fashion guru.” She held out her hand.
     Greyburn all but licked Imala's hand when presented with it. “Ohhh... a fellow noble, with the soft fur of a lioness. I hope your fall was not too harsh? Never fret my elegant queen, for we are all at the mercy of your beauty.”
     “My... such a... wonderful greeting,” she quickly pulled her hand away.
     Fran leaned over to whisper to Demetri. “From Kallas... any recollection?”
     Demetri looked thoughtful. “Maybe... perhaps a city princess? The name is familiar...”
     Tomasz's head snapped towards Demetri and Francesca. “Imala my dear, my other children await. For your pleasure.” He gestured towards the two.
     Imala glided over and stopped barely a few inches from Demetri. “Ahhh a fellow Kallan. We must spend an evening of remembering the old country dear boy. When was your last visit home?”
     “I'm not sure dear lady,” Demy bowed as he took her hand. “Within the last century at least though it was a brief stay.”
     Imala quickly turned from him though and placed both her hands on Francesca's shoulders. “And another lovely daughter for the Dragomir family. And an adventurous one as well,” her eyes darted down to the dress. “Sarah was such a delight. I am looking forward to a night out with the girls!”
     And just like that she flitted back to the progenitors. “Angela dear, I hear you met the poet Bartello? Is it true that he ate nothing but oranges for a week?”
     Carlos and Annette took that as a cue to mingle with the younger vampires. It was a little awkward at first but Imala was right about Annette being the talker. Carlos seemed nice enough but was perfectly happy to let his sister do all the talking. Fran did note that Thierry and Ellen took the shift in groups to leave for a more, secluded area if Francesca was inclined to guess.
     “We've been travelling from the north coast of Glenland... I believe the harbor was called Albon?” Annette glanced to Carlos who nodded. “Right, we stayed there for a couple of months. Before we came to Harlan we were staying at a country estate just outside of Tonbry.”
     “Where were you before Glenland?,” Vitus spoke up though he was still fairly quiet.
     Annette paused for a moment before continuing. “Well... we were mainly sticking in between borders. Since I've been with them the longest place we stayed was Penoli. The architecture there is quite stunning; the Cathedral of Devota Lucia was visually stunning.”
     “Penoli?” Helen frowned. “That's quite a trip by boat, did you come straight to Glenland from there?”
     Carlos sighed. “Yes... Imala was quite insistent that we visit this country all of a sudden. She can be quite consumed by fancy on occasion.”
     Annette snorted. “That's a mild statement. Remember how she spent several days awake just to redecorate the entire villa in the Dryn valley?”
     “Yes... yes I do” Carlos grumbled.
     The conversation soon moved on to more local concerns. What was the night life like? Where were the places to be? Trivial, inane things that helped to ease everyone. Francesca was surprised to find herself enjoying the group conversation, and of course that meant it had to end when she realised it. Appearing seemingly from nowhere the progenitors crowded round the young vampires all of sudden. It was not that shocking, as a strong smell of blood had preceded the few seconds before their arrival.
     Vitus and Annette were the only ones who showed any visible shock. Each one of their elders had a splattering of blood over their clothes and mouths. Imala reeked the most but with her dress it was hard to tell if there was more covering her. The only give way was that her hands were still dripping.
     “M-mother are you...?” Annette started, half rising out of her seat.
     “Don't” Carlos whispered, pulling her back to the seat while he stepped forward.
     “Oh... Tomasz. I'd forgotten how well you throw parties” she raised one of her soaking hands and licked each finger in a disturbingly sensual manner. She only half recognized that Carlos was standing in front of her. “Dear son.... I'm sorry for leaving you out tonight, but we have plenty of nights ahead.”
     “Perhaps it is time to rest?”, Carlos suggested, but he was already taking her by the arm.
     Imala lolled her head on to his shoulder. “Yes, we have much to see of this city still. Tomorrow night promises much.”
     Without a word the two moved away from the others into one of the side doors. Tomasz hummed to himself some odd tune whilst dropping into the vacant seat and stared at Annette, who shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.
     “Maybe we should all retire for the evening” Demetri said rising from the chair. “Fran, would you like to show our guest to her room?”
     Fran, “It would be my pleasure”. She rose and motioned for the girl to follow.
     The two remained fairly silent as they wove upstairs, through corridors and doors until Fran came to a stop. The room wasn't that far from her own, just on the floor above. Fran smiled “I hope nothing tonight has put you off the rest us.”
     “Oh no,” Annette took a step closer. “I've only ever talked to Carlos and Imala... the few other vampires we met were quite reclusive. Or mother wanted me to remain quiet. But I like the company here.”
     “That is good.”
     Annette closed the small gap between them. Fran couldn't help but raise her eyebrows. Well... definitely gets over that initial shyness quickly. How interesting.
     “I hope to learn a lot during my stay with you, Lady Francesca,” Annette said with a smile. “That's if you're willing to teach?”
     “With such an eager student... how could I refuse?” Fran couldn't help herself as she moved past, she let her lips graze the girl's ear before moving further away. “Pleasant dreams sweet girl.”
     Fran sighed contentedly as she made her way to her room, removing the pins from her hair. Being paraded around wasn't as bad an experience as I thought. And the guests seem more promising than ever.


The last few nights had been quite the whirlwind of events. Imala proved to be a handful to control outside of Tomasz’s company. She insisted on going through several bars when visiting the city proper. She danced, she laughed, and she drank, much to Fran’s dismay. It meant they had to wait a couple of minutes before heading off again while Imala voided said contents in a back-street. The upside of the situation was two-fold; she saw more of Annette, and Sarah had been forced into going.
     The downside of being shown off as the favourite seemed to have automatically made the ginger tyranny Imala’s personal guide. Despite vain attempts to palm the duty on to Francesca, it always ended the same.
     “But dear sweet Sarah” Imala would pout. “As a fellow elegant lady your expertise cannot be matched! Unless Tomasz is wrong about you…”
     Fran had to hand it to the lady. She knew how to play the guilt card as well as slip in a small threat. Sarah tensed up but relaxed in a resigned fashion.
     “Very well my lady,” she replied through gritted teeth. “Perhaps somewhere along the river bank tomorrow night?”
     The woman’s eyes flashed. “Oh lovely… maybe it will freeze and we could dance on the ice”. She twirled away from the three of them making odd movements with her arms to signify dancing.
     Annette leaned over. “Isn’t it summer?”
     Sarah practically slapped her hand to her face “I can’t take much more of this! She just won’t stop! We’ve been through nearly half the establishments in Harlan and she doesn’t even seem the least bit tired!”
     Francesca couldn’t help but chuckle. “I guess we will end up at Fitzpatrick’s at this rate,” she said with an evil smile.
     Sarah looked horrified. “That dingy place Helen has bought? I would rather die than set foot there! Maybe… maybe Imala will take a rest after tomorrow”
     Annette shook her head “That’s not like mother. One time she chased a local shepherd for close to three days”
     “Why?” Fran frowned.
     “He made a crude comment about her dress.”
     The current place they were patronising was a former hall converted into a large bar. It was called Pheron’s Charm, after the elf king from an old Glennish tale. (Although Florence said he was not at all charming and quite rude when she met him.) The central ground floor was for dancing and several long bars lined the opposing walls. The second floor was a restaurant that usually closed around ten. The ground floor stayed open much later though, which the girls were thankful for as Imala seemed to be done with the night’s sojourn. Now it appeared she wanted to devote the remainder of the night to dancing/batting people out of the away.
     “I won’t do a fifth night in a row,” Sarah clenched her fists. “If that woman insists on it, then I’ll… I’ll suggest Demetri! She wanted a night with him anyway!”
     Ah there it is, Fran wondered how long it would take for Sarah to think of that. It was because Demy had suggested before they left, of course it was more for Fran’s benefit then anyone else’s. And he implied he may have figured out who Imala was in life but needed a few questions answered to be sure. Do we want to know though? She’s a progenitor… it’s hardly going to be a tale of puppies and sugar rainbows.
     “Sarah dear,” Imala had whipped her way back to the table. “Don’t sit there like some bony wall-flower!”
     Sarah at least managed to form her mouth into a half-snarl, half-protest shape before being taken (or dragged) away from the table and on to the dance floor. Must remember as much as I can of these last few nights, and tell everyone! Fran thought deviously as Sarah was man-handled through the crowd.
     Annette took the opportunity to move close to Francesca, snaking her thin arm around hers. “Now… where were we last time?”
     “At something inappropriate for a public place” Fran chided, but ran her fingers over the delicate skin.
     “You didn’t make much of a fuss at the Glass Stem.”
     “Because that bar would have to be burnt down in order to be improved.”
     Annette giggled. Fran had no illusions about this being a lasting relationship but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy it while it lasted. The girl was a delight, any trace of hesitancy vanished after the first night out. Carlos on the other hand had remained stoic, leaving the mansion with Imala or by himself. Annette said it was harder for him to make friends as they move about so much, he had been with Imala for close to three centuries and saw little point in trying to socialize anymore.
     While Fran would have loved to continue the flirting for what time they had left, she had more of a mission tonight. “So… have you heard anything more on the relationship between your mother and my dear old dad?”
     Annette pouted and moved away slightly. “Well, if I had to guess. I would say it must be something to do with her collection.”
     The girl smiled. “Hmm. How badly do you want to hear about it?”
     It’s always the quiet ones that turn out to be the most shocking Fran mused. “You can surprise me later in the week when Imala moves on to the boys.”
     Annette smiled then leaned in and began to whisper. “She likes to collect certain things. Swords, books, occasionally people,” she grimaced at that part. “She keeps it all in a villa, within the northern mountains of Kallas. But her real passion is collecting occult items”.
     Fran raised an eyebrow. “So something supernatural in Glenland has caught her eye?”
     “Exactly.” The way Annette talked implied that Imala would not be happy about this being shared, although if it was such a big secret Fran suspected the girl would not even risk her mistress’ wrath.
     She continued. “I think it is why she wanted to leave Penoli so quickly. She didn’t really say it but Carlos knows the look she gets when she finds the trail of something.”
     Fran felt her eyes widen “And Tomasz might know if this collector’s piece is in the city.”
     Annette nodded. “How they actually met each other though… well I haven’t a clue. Carlos didn’t even know the man existed until we got here.”
     There was a sudden crack. Fran and Annette stood up and saw a scuffle at the bar, although it wouldn’t take a genius to figure the cause the two headed over. A rather shocked man, bleeding from the nose, was being helped up by his friend while an enraged Imala was being poorly restrained by Sarah.
     “You vile dog,” she shrieked. “How dare you touch me like that! You think I’m one of your commoner whores!”
     “Oh God,” Annette mumbled. Fran twitched slightly at the word but was able to focus at the task at hand.
     “She barely touched him and he went flying,” someone in the crowd mumbled. “Look she even broke his nose!”
     “We’re so sorry for our friend” Fran said, hastily grabbing Imala’s free arm to assist Sarah.
     {What happened?} She spoke quietly, too quiet for any human to hear.
     Sarah rolled her eyes. {The man started dancing behind her, made a few bad attempts at flattery then when I turned my back he must have tried to cop a feel.}
     “Sorry? Sorry?! I’m only sorry his head isn’t skittering across the floor!” Imala flexed her shoulders, shaking the two Dragomirs violently in an attempt to fling them off.
     “Mother!” Annette ran forward, placing her hands on the snarling face. “We wouldn’t want to upset our hosts now would we?”
     That seemed to calm her down a bit. Imala took a deep breath and calmly wrenched her arms free. Fran found her own arms aching from the effort she put into holding the woman back, and wondered how Sarah managed by herself for those few precious seconds. Without a word she turned her back on the whole scene and stalked out, leaving the trio of women to tail behind and make apologetic looks.
     As they waited for the coach Imala paced up and down, huffing and puffing at the indignity. “There nerve… the sheer nerve!” she muttered.
     “Come now mother” Annette took a few cautious steps forward. “The man was obviously drunk, didn’t have full control of his senses.”
     Seemed perfectly sober to me… and besides the way she dresses, she can’t be that outraged at such a reaction, Fran thought. Imala stopped suddenly in her tracks and locked her eyes on Fran, who flinched slightly at the fierce glare she was receiving. What did I do? It’s almost as if she…?
     The coach pulled up in front of them and Sarah all but threw herself at the car door. “Well, shall we return to the estate then?”
     “No,” Imala said in a flat tone. “You and Francesca may return, Annette and I need a bite to eat”.
     If it was possible Annette went even paler. “Oh… but the sun is nearly-”
     “Two hours from rising”, Imala said it with such certainty. She pulled the girl to her side. “More than enough time to fully indulge ourselves and be back safe and sound.”
     Annette mumbled her agreement and grimly waved farewell to Francesca. As she got into the care she could feel the gaze of Imala at her back. She felt a little heart-broken that Annette was about to be forced into a messy night’s feeding.
     Sarah sighed happily as the coach weaved its way down the street. “Ah… rid of that china doll as well. Perfect.”


Imala had found the gang in a rundown warehouse a few blocks from Pheron’s Charm. How she could always find these kinds of people was still a mystery to Annette, whom only got a hang on one of their more complex powers. But it was a small grace that these were bad people, and from the smell of the place the gang had killed others. Dried blood caked the corners and dotted the floor, so tiny that it would escape most humans.
     Yet her usual routine of reassuring herself crumbled at the sight of her mother’s rage. Even now as the woman held the last gasping man in her arms, gnawing and sucking at the gurgling throat, Annette was huddled against the wall. Her now sticky arms pressed tight against her chest, as if she was trying to force her way through the wall. She could of course but fear of the punishment for running stopped her from summoning that power.
     Carlos! Carlos! Carlos! She kept sounding in her head, over and over. She had only witnessed this kind of rage two times before. She was sure there had been other incidents but her brother was always there to shield her from it.
     There was a louder gurgle, muffled by a snarl and then an audible chomp. The tattered figure in Imala’s arms stopped moving. She let it fall from her hands like a child would do with a toy, her talons dripping and patches of black fur soaked. She turned to face her daughter who could not meet her gaze. The large green eyes seemed to pierce through her, and the large fangs which protruded over the bottom lip still glistened in the moonlight.
     “Full already my dear?” Imala walked over, still partly bestial.
     “Y-yes” Annette muttered. “Can we… can we go back to the estate now?”
     “Well I guess…” she pouted and walked around the huddled figure. “Are you enjoying yourself in the city sweetie?”
     “Yes. Of course,” Annette answered quickly.
     “Hmm. That mannish woman not boring you too much?” Imala asked with a raised eyebrow, she didn’t wait for a reply. “Perhaps I am tad harsh there but, its not good for you dear to hang around with only her.”
     Imala suddenly swooped down on Annette and cradled her. The stench of fresh blood made Annette dizzy.
     “I know! Go and see Angela tomorrow, her young one was cute no? I’m sure he would be thrilled if you showed a little interest,” Imala cooed, stroking Annette’s hair.
     Not this again… she cringed on the inside. The more disturbing fixations of Imala was her picture of a perfect, undead family. Which meant she had a specific idea of who her daughter should be interested in.
     “I-I’m sure he is lovely m-mother,” Annette stuttered. “B-but I don’t mind spending another night out-”
     “No!” Imala stood up and began to wipe herself down. “People only glance at wall-flowers my dear, and no child of mine is meant to be on the side-lines. Besides… I think I’ve had my fill of the city for now. I should really begin talking to Tomasz anyway.”
     Annette noticed her mother tense slightly before she walked away with her arms folded.
     Imala groaned. “He is a dear old friend… but there is always a game with him. I’m in no mood for his theatrics.” She seemed to have forgotten Annette was still there, her eyes fixed on something distance. “I will not be played again. If he thinks he can bend me around like the other fops he has gathered… well that’s not for children to hear.”
     The warehouse doors flew open and there Carlos was. His eyes widened at scattered blood and spilt blood, and then he saw Annette and his expression softened. Imala turned and seemed slightly surprised at his appearance.
     “Oh my boy, what are you doing here?”
     Carlos stepped forward, “It is almost sunrise mother; we need to get back to the mansion.”
     Imala rolled her eyes. “Always so cautious and protective. Take your sister and I’ll handle this.”
     Annette almost threw herself at Carlos and clung to him like a raft in a storm. He didn’t say anything, he just picked her up and calmly walked out the warehouse as their mother started pulling the bodies into a pile...


Two positive things occurred the next day; Imala had finally been sated with Harlan’s night life, and Demetri apparently had news about their guest. The negative side was that Annette was being sent over to Sombreta’s for a while. The family line was that the girl had heard that Vitus was quite the philosopher and she had an interest. Fran did her best not scoff when being told the situation, by the lady herself no less. I shouldn’t be that surprised about Imala knowing, she reminds me of Tomasz; appears completely oblivious but somehow knows everything before we do Fran thought.
     Demetri had some errands to run but he would be back shortly and Fran was dying to know Imala’s sordid past. She was passing the time by getting to know the mansion better, well at least the area her room was in. It seemed to be a common fact that old and large mansions are a practical labyrinth on the inside; the Dragomir estate was no different. Fran had decided to learn each floor on the way down first. If she was relegated back to the side-lines after their guest departs then she could work on the floors above her.
     The only other people who lived in the mansion were the dozen or so servants. Francesca never bothered to learn their names as the help was normally changed over every couple of decades or so, the human mind after all could only take so much supernatural alteration. That was only if they were lucky enough to escape Tomasz’s pastimes, in that case some servants were changed quite regularly. She could hear a couple of them now in one of the rooms at the end of the corridor.
     Come to think of it this has been quite bare Francesca thought, stopping to critique the walls. No pictures or flowers anywhere… how dull. Maybe I can get Demetri to put some up, he’s always griping about how terrible some of his works are and here’s a chance to get rid of them. Although I like the one with the flaming squirrel.
     “… Friedrich, and he couldn’t give me much on the matter,” Lepponen’s voice drifted softly from further on. Fran turned her head slightly to see if she could figure out exactly where the little progenitor was.
     “… agree that she’s strong but…” the voice was just about audible and was merely a few doors away, behind a heavy set of double doors.
     Fran moved as quietly as she could over to the doors, straining her ears. Placing her hand lightly on the door’s surface it became clear why the conversation so muffled. The doors were made of metal and were quite thick. It was open a tiny fraction, and letting curiosity get the better of her judgement she nudged it a bit more.
     “Honestly,” Lepponen’s voice was clearer if still faint. “If you’re so suspicious of the woman why let her stay in your own home?”
     “We have a history and she is a friend” Tomasz answered. “Besides at least this way I can keep an eye on her.”
     “Despite the fact she might try and kill you?”
     “Oh don’t be so stupid Inka, if I had thought she wanted me dead Imala would never had made through the lobby with her head,” Tomasz grumbled. “She just has a habit of… collecting favours. And it was an unpleasant experience paying her back.”
     “If you don’t owe her anything now why all this fuss,” it sounded as if Inka had clicked her heels in disapproval. “The children are already suspicious about your treatment of the new lineage.”
     “Course they are, none of them are capable of much so they spend their time gossiping,” Tomasz snapped. “This is not their business, it's mine. If Imala hasn’t brought anything down on us she will certainly leave us with a mess to solve.”
     “I told what little I could scry,” there was a tinier sound of furniture creaking and the soft touch of heels touching the tiled floor. “Whatever she found in Penoli has lead her here.”
     “And she won’t leave without it,” another sound of movement.
     Fran darted back down the corridor. Of course! Why didn’t I realise this sooner? Annette pretty much laid it out for me! The visit to the cathedral… oh hurry up Demy, I need to know a bit more! Her mind raced. She will admit one thing about what Tomasz said; living for centuries means you can get bored easily, so when something like this comes along it is exciting to try and figure it all out.


Annette found the Sombreta residence far livelier than the Dragomir estate in terms of decoration. Bright colours, a statue or two in every part of the house, and some rather lewd paintings hung in open areas. I mean that one with the people on that altar… that can NOT be physically possible, or at all pleasurable, she thought as Vitus continued the tour.
     The poor lad was quite timid, in her opinion, perhaps from being locked away under Angela’s thumb for so many years. He was doing his best though and sounded as if he was enjoying her company a little bit. Annette had to admit she was finding this a bit fun as well, Vitus was a good talker and pleasant to look at.
     “And this is the uh… study,” Vitus said as he opened the door for her. “I spend most of my days in here.”
     Annette smiled as she walked in. “An intellectual is a rare thing for these times, human life or vampire,” And ever the gentlemen, a girl could get use to this treatment.
     The study was a roughly medium sized room separated into two levels with book-cases lining the walls all the way round. There was a single and rough looking desk in the middle of it all with several books just left randomly on top. Annette walked over and picked one up, then frowned slightly and turned back round to Vitus.
     “The Man’s Guide to Woman’s Desires,” she read aloud, doing her best not to smirk. “Ten easy ways to have her begging all night.” Vitus with horrified eyes ran over and snatched the book, Annette seemingly unfazed grabbed another. “Carnal Ecstasies and You, set free the inner succubus.”
     “I-I don’t what th-”
     “The Forbidden Sex Manual, follow this and rival Dorein in his perverted Cave of Lust,” Annette couldn’t help but embellish the last word then grin at Vitus.
     “Annette I… um, these aren’t…” he started grabbing all the books and throwing them far away.
     “Oh Vitus it’s fine, really.” She smiled and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder “You don’t strike me as that much of a forward person, and even if you were… I think you taste in um, erotica would be slightly more realistic and sound in grammar.”
     He seemed to relax, and then he glared suddenly at the books before reverting to a more impassive face. “I think I know who put them there… my brother Gaston-Louis.”
     “He does these sorts of things often?”
     “Frequent enough to be annoying, long enough for him to lose plenty of interest,” Vitus motioned for Annette to walk up the metal staircase to the second level. “What of… what of your family?”
     It still caused Annette slight discomfort at the familial terms vampires used for one another. She wasn’t all that close to her own family, but it was disturbing to use such names considering some vampires were made to be companions like those in the books.
     “Carlos is the brother I never had” Annette said plainly as she ascended the steps, Vitus following her. There a couple of plain chairs cast about on the small inside balcony, Annette turned one of them to face the other.
     Vitus had already taken his seat and was looking intently at Annette. Fast and a bit eager, poor thing probably desperate for company outside of this place she thought as she sat down.
     “It was mostly him who taught about… about my, our condition,” she said. “The limitations, weaknesses, and all the basics I suppose. Mother was… she ah, was difficult to focus during that time,” she frowned, trying to out the best words to use.
     “How so?” Vitus leaned forward slightly.
     “She was very taken with the idea of a daughter,” Annette cringed on this inside. “She wanted me out with her every night, to show me off. Carlos spent half of my first year practically dragging me back into the house to finish training.”
     Vitus tilted his head slightly. “Training?”
     “Oh, he felt that as we moved around so often it would be best if I learned how to defend myself when needed. He would use to say that a gang of human men could overpower and possibly kill me, all for lack of not knowing a few tricks,” Annette smiled as she remembered those nights.
     Vitus nodded, and then looked away for a moment. Annette had guessed this stone façade was his way of coping but he needed more practice as she could tell he looked torn. She leaned closer and took his hand. Vitus’ head whipped back around to face her.
     “Go ahead and ask,” she said, still smiling. There was a flicker in his eyes before he spoke, perhaps of understanding or appreciation of being understood. “How did you die?”
     Annette felt her face drop but expected the question none the less. She took a deep breath, “As you can tell I am from Glenland myself, my family further inland. I remained with mother until I was sixteen, then I was to live with father in Hodden for some years. It was mainly to show me off around the right circles. My family are wealthy merchants and as the daughter I had to be educated about the business, well enough to hold my own but not enough to cope by myself.”
     It felt good to talk about this, more so than what she anticipated. Maybe she needed to talk about the seriousness of what happened to her. “My eighteenth birthday was a big occasion; to my father it signified my readiness to married off for profitable ventures so all the right people were invited. Among them a travelling trader just out of Kallas… a Lady Jocasta Imala from the northern province, with her attendant Carlos.”
     Annette sighed. “I was an idiot, I idolized her because she seemed so free and confident about every step she made. Here was a woman having men bow down to her, men who barely talked to me for more than a minute or inquired after my father. I spent my life being taught I was merely an asset to be used, and Imala showed up proving my dreams could be a reality… I practically told her all that when we were alone.”
     The memory flashed clearly in her mind. The deep emotional look of Imala as Annette went over her plight of being sold off for the good of the family, the reassurance of the lady that nothing stops a person’s true destiny to shine and that something always came along to help.
     “The next couple of weeks my father became the favourite of the Lady Imala, and he hoped I could be married to Carlos. The belief at the time was that he was her adopted son, I didn’t mind so much then if that was to be my fate,” Annette folded her arms and stared at her feet. “One night father was called away to the warehouses, something about a fire. Imala came for me in my room and told me that… that-”
     Another flash of memory of a tall dark skinned woman, dressed in a red robe with her eyes glowing, standing with her arms out like a mother beckoning a child. “Your true destiny is here child, through this you can rise to your full potential,” Imala had spoken.
     “It was… painful but quick,” Annette sniffed and flicked her hair back. “Our fangs are abnormally large from what I understand, so when she hit the jugular I was dead in a matter of seconds. Imala had bound one of the servants outside for me to… anyway, I left that night. Carlos took care of me for the first few days; the story was we had eloped against the wishes of our superiors. It provided the perfect excuse for Imala to abruptly leave later in the month what with the shame of her only heir running off with some backwater merchant’s trollop of a daughter.”
     Vitus frowned, “Surely she did not say that to people.”
     “No… that’s what people started saying,” Annette felt a bit of shame creep up on her. “I had apparently touched Imala very deeply, so much so she convinced herself I needed rescuing and my family needed to be punished. They weren’t the best of people but, they didn’t deserve to have their reputation tarnished. Imala made sure rumours of all kinds were abounding before we departed.”
     “In a twisted way… your wish was granted,” Vitus mumbled. The tone of his voice was solemn; Annette knew he wasn’t insulting her but rather identifying with her.
     She stood up suddenly and faced the books. “So… where is that book saying how God is dead and life is a pointless cosmic joke? It would fit the mood no?”
     Vitus smiled slightly and stood up, running his finger over the spines of several slightly tattered books. “Well if you are for keeping the tone, there is one about how people only hate each other deep down and we’re all one bad day from being psychotic killers.”
     “Quite accurate and disturbing. Perfect,” Annette smiled.


Demetri sat comfortably in one of the large chairs in the lobby’s second tier. Francesca on the other hand was pacing up and down, hands firmly on her hips, looking irritated. A moment ago she was quite energetic after figuring out that Imala had stolen something in Penoli, however Demy’s clarification of the matter sent her into the current state. On the one hand Demetri was not that surprised to learn that the situation was greater than he thought, but on the other hand even this seemed a bit much.
     He glanced back down at the paper in his lap, some young lad was shouting about the big news from over-seas. It wasn’t until Demy saw the actual print on the paper that he realised how close to home this news was, the title of the piece; Penoli in Shock as Priceless Artefact found Missing.
     The article itself offered greater insight:
     Up and down the continent there is major unrest as the Cathedral of Devota Lucia is found to have been robbed. Penoli authorities covered up the break in to try and prevent public unrest; a recent leak though has led to the discovery of a great crime.
     While no longer a central figure among the Goddites, Devota Lucia was hailed for bring the religion to her home valley and founding the city of Atia. The cathedral built in her honour contained many relics important to both Penoli cultural and the Godchurch and many records of the Holy Times. However, several months ago someone had the audacity to break in and steal from this collection.
     Three guards are believed to have been killed during the event. The stolen item in question is Lucia’s Eye, an incredibly valuable sapphire believed to have topped the staff the worshipper had owned. The greatest offense was yet to come as authorities discovered several ancient tomes had been destroyed by the culprit, some of which have no known copies.
     Not much is known about the culprit save for a basic appearance; middle aged woman of Kallan decent, close to 6ft. The Church is demanding action across the board for such a disgusting violation.

     The writer went off into a deluge of political ramifications, hatred towards those responsible and throwing veiled threats towards those who covered up the whole thing. From that it was clear that Imala had been the thief, whatever was in those now destroyed records was her knowledge alone, and that in turn lead her to Glenland.
     Despite the vagueness in the physical description Demetri was sure there weren’t many Kallan women who matched Imala in their own country let alone in Harlan. This news would spread fast through the city and people would start to suspect a recent arrival to their shores. What really worried Demetri though was the fact it had all been covered up. There was going to be public outrage regardless of any containment measures, so how did the government benefit?
     It was because the men weren’t killed in an ordinary fashion Demy had thought with a sinking feeling. It was the only reason he could come up with for the cover up to make sense; Imala used her supernatural powers to dispose of the guards and the investigation showed it, or rather showed the unnatural way of the deaths.
     “She has to leave,” Fran said suddenly, stopping in her tracks.
     “Brilliant, I’ll pack her bags,” Demetri said.
     “Don’t act like that! It doesn’t matter how long it will take but there will be someone looking into her arrival, and they’re already looking for something unusual. A regular investigation would be bad enough!” Francesca snapped.
     She does have a point… time is not on our side here, a rare occurrence Demy thought. “Well I suppose we have two options then. The most obvious but completely crazy one is to kill Imala, although I doubt Tomasz would be inclined to help us and she is at least as old as he is…”
     “The second?”
     Demetri sighed “We help her find mystery item number 2.”
     Fran’s eyes widened. Demy shrugged “I didn’t say either option was good”.
     “She has not told us the reason for this visit and you propose to what, go up and say hey we heard about your international incident and think we could lend a hand?” Francesca said.
      “I was thinking a more subtle approach, I know it’s not your realm of expertise but indulge me,” Demetri said as he stood up. “Like you say we can’t outright tell Imala we know what she is up to and expect her to cooperate. And if by some cosmic joke Tomasz does want to get rid of her it will be a nasty fight which will no doubt draw more attention.”
     “Wow I’m so impressed by your cunning mind,” Fran rolled her eyes.
     Ignoring the comment Demy took a step closer to his sister. “So we will work through Annette”.
     Fran blinked a few times before coming back with a reply. “What?”
     “We conduct our own search and you feed the results to the girl” Demetri said. “Do you think Imala doesn’t grill her for every tid-bit learned from the conversations you have? All you have to do is drop a few hints, and Imala should order the girl to ask follow up questions.”
     “So we just use her to get her family out of the city faster?” Francesca sounded somewhat hurt by the plan.
     “Oh Fran I know it’s not ideal and you have rapport going with the girl… but we both know it was not going to last long, and it is obvious she has not fully accepted what has happened to her,” Demetri placed his hand sympathetically on his sister’s shoulder. “At least this way you have some warning of when she leaves… instead of note on a pillow after some random night out.”
     He did feel slightly guilty about using Francesca’s new relationship to spur Imala’s departure but it was a better choice than waiting for the storm of investigators that would follow her to the estate and to the Circle. At best they had several months before a clue leading to Glenland should be discovered, but if Imala was really sloppy during her heist than at worst they had a matter of weeks.
     If she leaves before anyone starts snooping around then we could cover everything else up Demy had reasoned to himself. Yet seeing the dullness that now gripped his sister made him question the plan slightly. Only slightly though.
     “Alright… but we still have no idea what that woman is looking for though” Fran said in a flat tone.
     Demetri shifted uncomfortably, “It may not be a pleasant subject for us but we do know where to look for clues…” he tapped the paper. “Devota Lucia”.


Annette had to admit she had a very enjoyable time at the Sombreta estate during her long away weekend from the family. Vitus was a delight to engage in debates with; while Annette lacked his knowledge on philosophy and advance academics she out-matched him in business talk. Gaston-Louis kept to himself mostly which Annette was grateful for because the few times they spoke she had not a clue what he was actually saying. Angela reminded Annette far too much of her own mother in some aspects but lacked Imala’s focus (at least when she had something to focus on).
     She sat in the car as the driver weaved through the roads of inner Harlan. Instead of returning to the Dragomir estate Annette had been told to go back to Pheron’s Charm for the start of the evening. Apparently the altercation had been cleared rather quickly by the Circle. That in itself had been the oddest thing to adapt to in the city; a group of progenitors and their offspring working with each other.
     Annette had only been with Imala and Carlos a few years but their travels were extensive so they did meet other vampires. Some travelled in pairs, or the progenitor sometimes had a half dozen children for attendants, but they were all at least of the same lineage. She would admit though that her knowledge of world-wide vampire society (if you could call it that) was severely limited. Carlos had been with Imala for centuries and had told Annette it was not unheard for progenitors to band together, although there had not been a lasting alliance as far as he knew.
     Several birds flew past the window cawing loudly, Annette sighed as she leaned against the window. It will be a shame when we leave… at least the Circle has made a home here and looks out for each other… and there’s Francesca…. She thought wistfully. I wonder how much she would actually miss me. We’ve only known each other for little over a week but I feel a strong connection… dear me I’m starting to sound like those romance novels mother was so fond of. Another pang in her chest that she quickly put aside, remembering her actual mother.
     Perhaps it was possible to convince Imala to make Glenland a more annual visit, she knew the lady made regular trips back to Kallas and stayed there for months, even years. It would be difficult but doable, all Annette had to be was patient. Of course the whole thing would be pointless if Francesca didn’t actually feel something in return.
     Something suddenly caught her attention. It was a combination of sensing something supernatural and smelling it on the air. It was close and moving fast, faster than two legs could carry someone.
     One of the birds that had flown past was at the side of the window again, she could see now it was a crow. Then in a split second, the crow grew abnormally large and slammed itself against the car.
     The vehicle jerked wildly and Annette clung with all her strength to the leathery seats. Several more crows appeared on either side, and in a matter of seconds all were slamming into the car.
     The windows shattered as the car finally spun off the road and through the railing, smashing head first into a tree. Annette felt the driver’s compartment slam against her chest, dazing her. She could hear voices outside the wreckage.
     “… not Circle! Told you.” A female voice said.
     “Still seems like a waste of time… progenitor or no she’s just a kid,” a gruff and bored voice replied.
     “So? It just means more competition if we let her go now! And what if she does join them Circle bastards?” another man’s voice snapped.
     Annette wasn’t sure how many there were, too many to fight directly and certainly old enough for a one on one fight to be in their advantage. If her heart could still beat it would have been deafening given how much fear she felt right now.
     “We all know the rules… no newbies left alive,” the woman said, there was a murmur of agreement.
     They’re going to kill me that thought gave Annette strength in some morbid fashion. She felt the pressing weight of the metal fade and the aches in her body disappear opening her eyes she saw was floating out of the car, a trail of sandy coloured air marking her passage.
     “Oi! Sneaky bitch,” one of the men shouted and lunged for Annette.
     Annette jerked to the left and avoided the clawing hands but felt herself become weighted down. Shock and injury was disrupting her focus and hampering her escape, all too soon she started to fall back down to the ground.
     The distance she had gained was not much and two of her attackers were on her. Black feathers sprouted from their necks and around their hands, their jaws pulled back to reveal horrible rat like teeth.
     “Not so fast girlie” the first one snarled and tore at her arm.
     “Arrgh!” Annette screamed, then instinct took over as the second came lunging at her.
     It was odd how she felt no control in those seconds, the training just taking over. The bald man came rushing at her with pitch black eyes, and before she knew herself was half monstrous. She caught the attacker by the throat with her talons then ripped them away, feeling the skin pull back like tearing tissue paper.
     The first one snarled and kept up the chase lunging in again. Annette lashed out with her injured arm, catching him the eyes. He fell back screaming and clutching his face. Annette had no idea how strong she actually was, there was no chance she had permanently killed those two, but survival was her drive right now and so she kept on running. She could make out the city lights through the mass of trees. If she could get there then she should be safe.
     “Cooey! Coming to get ya!” the woman called from behind.
     CARLOS! IMALA! CARLOS! IMALA! She screamed in her head as she started running through the trees, raucous laughter following behind along with the cries of crows.


The few short years that she had been a vampire, Annette became grateful of several things chief of which was never feeling tired. She had several unpleasant memories of being whacked with a ruler when staying up all day for lessons. If she survived this night she would add not needing to breathe, because if she was human right now she may never have gotten ahead of her pursuers.
     The sounds of crows and vicious laughter echoed all around her as she stumbled through the small forest. Annette had no idea how long this chase had been so far, but it was clear they were toying with her. When she thought she had given some of them the slip they would just appear from thin air. There was no smell or warning sense preceding these Crows, or perhaps Annette was far more injured then she previously thought.
     CARLOS! IMALA! CARLOS! IMALA! She had continued screaming out in her mind. Normally she would only call Carlos, but that was for a pick-up or to help reign in their mother. Now it was just her. Alone, bleeding, running for her life.
     A fist shot out from behind a tree smacking her in the face. She hit the ground, and before she could get up she felt several claws pierce her shoulder, lifting her from the ground.
     It was young, bald women save for a ponytail at the back wearing a rather tattered dress. “You gave Morris and Jorge quite the surprise girlie… they’ll be along soon enough though, after pulling themselves together.”
     “Why… why are you doing this?” Annette choked out, futilely pulling at the hand embedded in her shoulder.
     The woman shrugged. “One of the few orders we get from the Boss, and besides… it’s fun.”
     Annette was pulled closer to the woman’s face. There was a scar going down the right side of her face, but it was all mushed up as a big smile came over the Crow’s face.
     “So between just us girls… you a newbie? Or old pal of the Circle’s?” the woman asked in a mocking tone of innocence.
     “Don’t… know…” Annette mumbled.
     The claws in her shoulder suddenly grew and pierced right through to the other side. “Arrrrrgh!” Annette screamed.
     “The boys won’t stay back for long girlie, and they ain’t the respectably type like me….” The Crow woman sneered. “I can tell them to be quick if give me something. Anything.”
     “I don’t know what you want!” Annette shouted.
     The Crow woman huffed. “What family are you for starters? Hmm? Not too difficult is it?”
     “I-Imala….” Annette wheezed.
     A couple of Crow men appeared behind the woman. One was very tall and thin, the other short and squat, both were completely bald.
     “Someone’s kid… could get messy Jen,” the tall one said.
     “Could be a new member of the Circle, we need to send a message to those pricks anyway!” the short one said.
     “Then what will we do when the Circle moves out in force?” the tall one replied in annoyed manner. “We got numbers, but not the strength.”
     “IF this little trollop and her family are joining up… then all we’ve got to worry about is the parent and siblings, if there’s any more of those.”
     “Shut up!” Jen snapped. “We might as well finish the job Ryan, and Lenny has a point”. The woman’s eyes went black. “We gotta start showing the Circle they don’t own everything… and they’re not untouchable.”
     Ryan sighed. “Fine…”
     Lenny turned his head sideways, partly facing the darkness. “Come on lads! Entertainment is free!”
     Focus! Focus! Annette tried to conjure up enough concentration to change again, into the sandy air, or into that bird, just something to get away! Jen pulled her arm back, then thrusted forward, throwing Annette into a tree.
     At least a dozen other Crows had appeared from the shadows. All of them had pitch black eyes, and their nails started to grow long and twisted like the woman’s. Annette struggled to pull herself up, blood was now streaming down her left arm and she was pretty sure several ribs were broken.
     Annette felt a hand at her throat, forcing her head to turn. The short was leaning over her now, baring all his teeth. “Hey doll… how about a kiss?”
     There was a sickening crack from behind the small crowd of vampires. The Crows practically leapt back away from the noise. Lenny let go and stood bolt upright, letting Annette’s head loll to the side.
     Then she saw the cause of the noise. Standing behind the Crows was Imala; face contorted in anger and holding in both hands the heads of two Crows, the bodies lying at her feet. Carlos was by her side and also quite visibly angry, his fists clenched.
     Jen’s eyes widened at the sight. “You sick bitch!”
     There was a rush of air and the Crow woman went flying, thrown into the air by some unseen force and smacked onto a branch, impaling her. The other Crows cried out, either in fear or rage.
     “VILE SCUM!” Imala roared and charged into the group.
     Half of the Crows rounded on her, but she was smacking them all away, her fists beating down in a flurry of movement. The cries of birds could be heard again as some of the Crows made to escape, but the wind picked up again catching the birds in a small whirlwind.
     Annette was wrenched up from her position by Lenny, who threw her over his shoulder and started to run. The sounds of the fight quickly turned to a familiar tune of pleading, gasping and parts being broken. The stale smell of dead blood was thrown around as the air was bent to the will of the enraged progenitor.
     “God! Gotta get far enough…” Lenny gasped as he kept running.
     Annette’s vision started to get blurry, but before things became completely beyond her sight she saw Carlos appear in front of her and her captor. The Crow quickly placed Annette back on the ground, in between himself and Carlos.
     “Look… no permanent harm done? Alright? Just… just give me a head start!” Lenny pleaded. Carlos eyes darted to Annette, then back to the Crow. “Mother is almost finished with your friends. She hasn’t been this angry in a while; I doubt a head start will be very useful.”
     “For fuck’s sake kid-” Lenny started to shout but was cut off as Carlos, with unnatural speed ran up and punched his hand straight into the Crow’s chest.
     Eyes bulging, the short man toppled over as Carlos casually pulled the heart out of the gaping chest. “A quick death is more than you deserve… but I don’t have the stomach for torture,” he said calmly, and crushed the organ in his hand.
     The short Crow made odd gurgling noises before his body stopped jerking. His now blank eyes staring up into the dark. Annette managed to lift herself up onto her arms and turn her head towards Carlos.
     “They…. They were going to…” she mumbled as tears started to stream down her face.
     Carlos was by her side instantly, placing his jacket over her shivering frame. “I know. But you’re safe now.” She was soon picked up in his arms and they were moving back to the clearing.
     Annette was surprised by quick the fight had ended, but then remembered the powers Imala had command of as well as centuries of experience using them. The stale blood smell covered all the trees, as well as body parts.
     “Disgusting…. Vermin… wipe them all out…” Imala could be heard muttering angrily, standing alone and covered in the Crows’ remains.
     As she turned and saw Annette though, all the anger disappeared and was replaced by tears and sadness. “Oh… my little girl…” she rushed over, putting her arms under Carlos’ and staring down at Annette.
     Imala’s face was covered in bits of gore, and now tears stains were steadily building up. “We will get you home dear… we will make sure everything will be safe.”
     In a sick, disturbing way Annette was actually comforted by that. The next day, after healing she attributed the feeling as being caused by intense damage, blood loss and nearly being raped and killed. But for that moment, Annette felt safe and at ease amongst all of her family as the trio silently left the massacre behind them.

   Previous    Next   
     November 5th, 2012
     By:  Christopher
Well now, I'm not familiar with the world of fanfic, but reader DJ has submitted an epic. In appreciation for being the first person to go bonkers on our material like that, we illustrated his original characters. We also threw a little Fran and Demy in there, and a background that should evoke memories for tru KF headz.
     Everybody wins!
     The Kingfisher is soon to have an area of the website devoted to backstories and the like, that will include both canon works by Kelly and myself, and any weird apocrypha the readers care to submit! With DJ's story, I inaugurate "Kingfisher Tales!"

Comic Rank