I’m doing an Old Races short story project throughout 2011. This project will deliver 6 Old Races short stories to its patrons. This, “Awakening”, is the fourth story, and is the first of the project stories set after the Negotiator Trilogy. There are, consequently, spoilers ahead, so beware!
The pain of awakening was exquisite. The weight of wet earth lifting away; the ash and oak driven through an unbeating heart now pulled free. The burning iron unwound from wrist and ankle no more than bone, and the hunger, oh: the raging hunger, awakening as did the desiccated flesh.
Strong slim arms to carry a weightless body: female. The saviour was female. Wind rushed across filthy skin, though the air itself sounded still and so the wind spoke of speed. Great speed. Inhuman speed. The saviour was vampire. One of their own. One who had escaped the betrayal.
Rage boiled up, fast and sweet as blood. So long. It had been so long since the betrayal, and only now did rescue come? But no: fury failed as fast as it had risen. Revenge could come later. Later, when strength had returned to dried-up muscle and blackened skin was once more flush with color. Flush with blood.
There were so many humans. The scent of their blood carried even on the speeding wind. Blood pounding hard in fat bodies, lush for draining. The need to taste that wealth sent a spasm through a useless body, cracking fragile bones with its strength. A spasm, no more, from a frame that had once sped across continents in hours, had once ripped body from bone not through great strength but through terrible speed. A spasm: pathetic response from dead flesh.
This was not life, oh no, but it was more than had been granted for years uncounted, and that would be enough.
The bodies were disgusting. More than a dozen of them, all twisted and broken and blackened from their time beneath the earth. They’d weighed almost nothing, but their stench made up for their lightness. Rotten soil, rotten flesh, rotten wood, rusted iron, scummy water. They stank, and Ursula thought that if she’d considered that possibility beforehand, she might not have retrieved the vampires at all.
But then, she didn’t often think of consequences beforehand, which, as it turned out, was probably the most vampiric of her inherited traits. Well, that and the speed, but being quick never got her in trouble, whereas acting without thinking often did.
Poor impulse control. She could all but hear her sister mocking her with the words, light and teasing and fond. Kate was her own father’s daughter, ridden with the dragonly lust for treasures. Ursula was Kate’s treasure; Ursula and their human, if not exactly mortal, mother Sarah. There were few things in the world as safe as being a dragon’s hoard.
She had left Kate behind, though. Left her behind with the red dragon who was Kate’s father, and had come to Europe alone with a mind to rescue the vampires her own father had betrayed. “Daisani,” she said under her breath, half-mocking. “Master of the vampires.” Only half mocking, though, because in the end he had mastered them, had set them away from the world, and if anyone could claim mastery over killing machines harder to herd than cats, then it was probably the one who had hidden them.
The one who had betrayed them.