But Pierce was too much of a warrior to run. While I was busy putting distance between myself and those gnarly beasts, he scanned the grounds and then started speed-running.
Reaching the cabin, I turned and spotted him at one of the out-most trenches. He was digging for something, throwing dirt and dust into the air, seemingly not alarmed by the fact that those canine bastards were no more than a stone-throw away from his position.
The tension rose by the moment, as the battle seemed imminent. And then, close enough to be touched by teeth, Pierce disappeared. And the dogs, the first ones, were sliced into thirds. I could not see that far away clearly, but from the fact that the rest of the werewolves started jumping high over the spot where their comrades had fallen, I had to believe that Pierce had activated some kind of a wired fence defense.
Saul appeared behind me, apprehensive. "How did they find us?" He demanded, spinning like a carousel. His hands were in fists and his fangs visible.
I touched my teeth. Sadly, my mouth was still fangless.
Saul grabbed me from both of my shoulders.
"Take Margaret into the bunker. We'll hold them off."
And he disappeared as well.
I had no idea where the bunker might have been, but still, I rushed inside the cabin.
Margaret was in the middle of the cafeteria, on the floor, chained in so much metal that, hadn't she been worming it on the floor, I could have missed her for a giant anvil. Hearing my footsteps, she stopped her try for an escape and rolled to face me.
She didn't look much like Saul. She had blond hair and a much more pointy chin. And she had a larger nose, but I figured that might have had something to do with her being a werewolf.
"Who are you!?" She demanded, behaving rather humanly. She certainly wasn't growling like those things outside (I could hear the roar even from where I stood).
"Friend of Saul's. We are under attack."
"You have to let me go! I can help! Just..."
I shook my head, looking at the chains, wondering if it was safe to lift her. "No can do. I got orders to take you into the bunker."
I grabbed her and pulled her onto her feet without any problem. She was staring at me, not an ounce of madness on her face.
"Who are you really? You're not a vampire."
"What makes you think that?" I was looking around, wondering in which direction I should start nudging her to go.
"The fact that I don't want to kill you. Are you human?"
"If only... You know where the bunker is?"
"What are you then?"
"Half vampire half witch, apparently. The bunker?"
She started hopping on her own.
The roar of the werewolves hadn't come any closer, so I assumed that Saul and Pierce were doing a pretty fine job keeping them at bay. And as we were making our way through the hallways, for a moment there I even wondered what it was that was so frightening about the beasts. We were after all immortal, weren't we?
"So, you want to kill vampires?" I asked, somewhat making small-talk, but also filling in the blanks.
"I don't have
"Alright. But can you kill vampires? I mean, Saul told me when we fed, nothing can really kill us."
"Werewolves can. Why do you think the witches created them? Making your food?"
I grunted. The list of things that could kill an immortal being had started to become a rather long one.
She continued. "But I don't feel that way around you. I don't want to kill you."
"Well, is that strange? Have you met others like me."
She pointed to a cupboard against the wall, which I opened. Inside there were descending stairs.
"No. I haven't."
Descending the stairs in darkness, we reached a smaller, muggier room.
"On the wall," Margaret called.
I did get the lights going after a try or two.
The room was some kind of a headquarter for the rebellion. The roof was poorly supported by medium-sized beams, and the walls, the ones covered in cork-boards, we made of dirt.
I glanced hastily over the floor-plans and pictures that hung all around, and then back toward the stairs we had climbed.
"Do you think they have a chance?" I asked, hearing the growling and wondering if I should have shut the bunker's door.
"Perhaps. Werewolves are human, really. Poisonous, unnatural, yes. But they will break as humans do. It's only their numbers that can really make a difference."
I did not miss the coldness in her voice. She was far from a loving, worried sister.
A loud bang sounded upstairs, and a moment later Saul and Pierce were on top of the stairs. Pierce was pulling the door shut, but Saul was falling (or rolling) down the stairs, almost lifeless with a huge bite-mark on his shoulder.
I rushed to him, trying to lift him up, but Pierce was shouting. "Open the passage, we have to go now!"
Not clear on what he was talking about, I looked around the room again – and then to Margaret.
She gestured with her eyes toward one of the cork boards. I pulled it off like it was nothing, and could see a tunnel with a light at the end of it.
But then my head started hurting, and an intense hunger filled my guts. Dizzy, I turned on my feet.
The small bunker-room was much more crowded than it had been just a moment ago. Around me, there were six dark-masked, hooded figures. One of them was holding the passed-out Saul, another a struggling Pierce and the third Margaret's chained body. But, at that moment, I didn't really care about any of them – I needed to feast.
Targeting the nearest witch (or perhaps a shorter warlock) I flew toward her without a word or any consideration.
But then something happened.
Suddenly I wasn't hungry or dizzy, and I was also not moving (I was stuck in the air). And the hooded figure I was about to attack had changed appearances: standing before me was the blue-skinned, white-haired, golden-ringed and medallion-ed witch from my magic trick at the camp-site.
And everything had turned quiet. Margaret and Pierce weren't grunting, trying to break free, or cursing their captors. And the witches weren't having a hard time keeping them captive. They were all frozen.
"Thomas," the blue witch started. She was the only one able to move, as she proved by looking around the room and then to me. "A pleasure. It's an interesting company you keep. Vampires, werewolves, and witches. You must know they can not aid you in your quest?"
To my surprise, I could answer.
"Who are you?"
She waved me off. "Doesn't matter. Call me a guardian angel... Or, perhaps, a messenger."
"Are you here to help us?" I did remember Oliver's warning about her, but he wasn't around to aid us during our time of need.
"I'm here to help YOU. It's not your time to die."
"Well, we're kind of a package deal, so...?"
She didn't seem to listen. "It's curious, that you would risk yourself for these... things. You must know they wouldn't do the same?"
"They've helped me more than you have."
He eyebrows move dramatically up. "Help you? That's what you think they've done?"
She walked to one of the cork-boards and pulled from it a photo. A moment later, she was holing it in front of my eyes.
"Help, you said? Do you recognize them?"
It was a black and white picture of two friends, probably taken right at those campgrounds above me. The men were laughing, hands over each other's shoulders. One of them was Saul. And the other - the man who had killed me. The over-sized, watermelon-headed piece of trash that had waited in my apartment and put a bullet through my skull.
I had no desire to eat witches, but the picture made the dizziness return.
"What? What are you saying?"
"It was your friends who made you like this. For what purpose? I can't say. But they are not here to aid you."
I chuckled coldly.
"It's a trick. You're a witch, aren't you? You're probably messing with my head."
Her face turned pitiful. "Loyalty? What a shame. But I guess I can't say I'm surprised."
"Well, maybe if you'll unfreeze Saul, we could clear this up."
She smiled, evilly.
"I'm afraid I can't do that." She glanced at him. "And by the looks of it, he might not be up to answering questions anyway. A werewolf bite? It must hurt..."
"What do you want from me?" I demanded, too tired for games. "You have me at you will. What do you want?"
"What I want?" She gave me her full attention once more. "I want you to escape. To run away, and to leave the rest behind."
"If you'd unfreeze me, I could eat all these witches and then we'll all get away..."
She turned serious and business-like. "You can't take on that many at once. They aren't defenseless together. You will be dead in a blink of an eye."
"Well, then help us!"
"I'm afraid my help cannot extend past words for now. But, my words you should listen to. When I leave, you need to eat, only one, and then use that strength to run. Go south, and do not stop before your feet give in. You CAN get out of here when fully fed."
"I'm not leaving Saul. And he'd probably wouldn't want to leave his sister... But I guess I could do without the Viking. So, compromise?"
"ENOUGH!" She called, and a fire burned in her sapphire-blue eyes. She managed to actually shock (and frighten) me. "I can not stay forever!" She took a deep breath, trying to re-find her peace. "Saul is dead if he comes with you. He's been bitten by a werewolf. The only thing that can save him now is the witches. The witches who will keep him alive as long as you are at large. They must assume you would try to get him back. So, run and he'll live."
"And then? Let's say I'll run. What then?"
"Do as I'll say, and we'll talk again. Prove that you're not a child. The stakes are too high to be played around with." She turned on her feet. "Now, eat!"
And she was gone. I was again in the middle of my hunt, slamming myself into the neck of a hooded witch. I only had that moment, the second it took me to drain the body between my teeth to make a choice. Who will I trust?
The last drop of blood on my tongue, I pulled my fangs from witch-skin, and a moment later I could see the woods blow past me as mere lines of green. Was I going North, as suggested by Oliver, or South, as was demanded by the blue-white witch...? I had no idea. I might have been a vampire, but I wasn't a compass.