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   Chapter 19

The Woodlands By EJBowman Characters: 21721

Updated: 2017-12-22 12:02

The hybrid had a very poor concept of time when he finally awoke. The darkness of the cave room made him feel as if it was still the middle of the night, but his feeling of rejuvenation told him he had slept for a good many hours.

Now no more dillydallying, he thought as he threw the covers off himself.

Snapping his fingers, the candles on the bedside flickered alive—a trick he had learned from Daefortis. The illumination allowed for him to find his clothes which were spread across the ground. Apparently, he had been tired enough that he just carelessly threw his clothes everywhere rather than tidily folding them.

His na?ve first thought about the day was making Rekou and him some breakfast. This idea worked on no levels. He soon remembered Rekou only drank blood… and was also dead.

Another one on the pile, he thought morbidly. How he wished Neem would not join that heap of bodies stacking up on his conscience.

After getting his things together, he made his way to the kitchen. Luckily, most of the food was still fresh; only a few of the fruits were showing signs of aging. After eating a small amount cheese and fruit, he wrapped a loaf of bread in some cloth for the journey. He had to shove it into his satchel with some effort now that the bag was stuffed.

Again, he examined his reflection in the silver platter. Most of the dust had rubbed off while he was sleeping. The area around his eyes and upper lip were still blue, but a fair portion of his horns could be seen again. He would apply more dust when he neared Primye Dinastoro territory. The golem blood wolf moved at such high speeds that it would probably come off he tried to put it on beforehand.

Looking at the crumpled map, the kingdom did not seem like it would be hard to find. He had already been heading in that direction when he came across Rekou. No, the problem was getting into the castle and finding Neem. He would look like a vampire of sorts, but he could not exactly just wander the hallways without raising suspicion.

Perhaps invisibility dust would have been more useful, he thought. But I’m not even sure if that’s a thing.

When he finally set out, it turned out to be dawn. On horseback he would have assumed the adventure would take two days minimum, but the golem blood wolf could probably make it in less. The beast was already halfway down the Ivy Mountain despite the fact they had only departed a few minutes before.

There was the issue of the power draining, however. His training with Daefortis had allowed him to perform more magic without getting so easily tired, but keeping a golem composed would drain him after such a long ride. He would be a mess by the time he reached his little nymph friend. If he was lucky, his darker half would take over and not murder everyone he came into contact with. If he was unlucky, he would pass out right in the middle of the vampire kingdom.

* * *

It was deep into the night by the time Dacen began to see faint lights in the distance. He was fortunate that his ride had been uneventful, given the fact he was now in vampire territory.

He dissipated the golem blood wolf before dropping to his hands and knees, the tiny wooden bust in-hand. The sudden tension release of no longer keeping the blood wolf formed caused a surge in his innards. At first, he felt as if he was going to throw up, then the sensation travelled further upwards and made his head feel as if it was made of stone. His body was trying to force him unconscious.

Neem does not have time for me to take another nap! he growled internally. Yet he was now resting on his arms and allowing his head to touch the ground.

After a minute or so, he managed to stagger to his feet. His head was still a burden as it lulled back and forth, but he was not going to let it stop him.

Some liars dust got lost in the field as he carelessly poured it into his hand before throwing it over his head. The hybrid usually became agitated and reckless when he had a mild headache, so what he was feeling now made him want to murder anyone who got in his way

The pain did ease as he trudged onwards. It was hard to tell if he had just adjusted to it or if his body had given up on trying to knock him out. Either way, the desire to save his friend would have even overpowered the pain of a sabre through the chest. The little beacon of light in his life did not deserve such a horrid fate.

Fear seeped into his mind when he came to the edge of the village. Up beyond all the little houses stood the large castle—how would he find Neem in there?

Dacen was lucky he had arrived so late at night, but even then, there were still vampires wandering about. He managed to maintain a stoic expression, even as a few glanced up at him. The few that gave him an intent look made him fear that there was a flaw in his disguise.

My hair, he realised.

All the vampires had long, black hair. His hair, although the right colour, was short. They would probably guess he was an outsider, but hopefully, they would think he was just a nomad vampire rather than something else in disguise. He casually pulled his hood up over his head, making it more difficult for onlookers to see his hair. Nobody had heckled him yet, so perhaps it was not a major issue, but he did not like having to take chances.

After some time, he was at the grand entrance to the castle. There were, of course, guards everywhere, and walking straight through the gate was not an option. Already, some of the guards were shooting him daggers for just standing near the castle walls. He strolled away as if he were just on a midnight walk.

Again: the power to turn invisible would be great right now.

Dacen moved deeper into the village, out of the view of the guards, before continuing to walk parallel to the kingdom’s walls. He had not planned this rescue mission very well.

Spent almost a day working on this half-decent disguise but zero effort into the actual plan to save Neem.

From what he could see in the dark, the castle backed into a mountain, but the village was primarily in front of the castle. He wished he had discussed Rekou’s own escape plan with her more. She had made an off-hand remark about escaping through a crack in the wall, but where was that crack?

Presumably the crack was in one of the side walls. She certainly could not have gone through the front wall—let alone through the village.

He chose which side of the wall to investigate based on the hy

first, Dacen only wanted his darker half to kill the King in the same way he had killed the guard: painful, no doubt, but quick enough. Then he noticed the silver fluid that stained the vampire’s mouth and chin. He knew what it was.

Dacen had no objections as the vampire’s face suddenly went blank—mindless. Next thing Dacen knew, the vampire was biting deeply into his own wrist, tearing away chunks of flesh. He continued to mutilate himself as Dacen meandered around the bed to the other side. His hand trembled as he pulled back the sheets covering the other body. Rather than draw out the painful process, he thrust the sheets down.

Dacen’s dear friend lay there, curled up. Not a patch of flesh spared bruising. At first, he appeared dead. The glossy, vacant stare indicated no signs of life. Touching two fingers to the neck, however, reassured the hybrid that his rescue attempt had not been in vain.

“Neem?” he asked, although the voice was foreign to his own body and far more menacing than he intended.

The nymph continued to stare off into oblivion. Neem was alive, but he was gone.

Dacen lost himself completely at this point, allowing his darker half to take full control. His mouth formed into a sadistic smile as he looked back to the King. The vampire had mutilated most of his own forearm. He would have already passed out had he not been under magical influence.

What other ways can I make him suffer? the dark half thought. Even if Dacen had been conscious, it was likely he would not have objected to any of the sick acts his dark side had in store for the vampire.

His thoughts were quickly redirected when a scream echoed through the hallway. Out beyond the King’s chambers stood a vampiress looking utterly horrified. Her garments were modest, meaning she was not a slave but she certainly was not a noble of any kind—just a simple servant.

Fun’s over. He looked back at the blue man. Jump.

The servant was quite lucky that she had already started to run off before witnessing the second part of Dacen’s plan. Blood droplets cascaded off of the vampire’s arm as he slogged over to the window. He paused for a few moments. The window was un-openable.

“Allow me,” Dacen offered. Snapping his fingers, the glass shattered. “Have a good trip.”

Out he went. Because Dacen’s darker half was feeling extra malicious: King Klav regained control of his own mind about halfway down.

His screaming ended abruptly with a loud thud and a few cracking sounds. Dacen had hoped for more of a splat sound, but they were not high enough up for that to be the case. It did not take long for people below to start yelling. They sounded alarmed, but none of them hysterical: simply getting the information out and giving orders. They did not know what had happened, yet they had already prepared in advance for something like this to happen. Peace treaty signings with other kingdoms were always uneasy times. Their belief at that moment was that he had been assassinated by a Borovnian. Only after all the dust had settled would they learn the strange truth.

“Time to leave,” Dacen informed the catatonic nymph as he scooped him into his arms. Having picked him up in the past, even his darker half was aware of how much lighter Neem was now.

How to escape was no longer an issue now that Dacen was unconscious, and his darker half had gained new energy from inhaling the life essence of another being. As the guard was not magical, he was not ready to take on a whole vampire army. Luckily, that was not his plan.

Within a matter of seconds, he was standing in sand, the distinct sound water crashing against rocks. It was at this point that his darker half exhausted the last of Dacen’s energy. Teleporting was not something Dacen had successfully done by himself—let alone teleporting himself and another being. He had only just started looking at the teleportation spell when everything had gone to hell. Despite all this, he was now on unknown soil, far away from the vampire kingdom.

The faun fell to his knees, instantly dampening them in the light layer of water. Dropping the nymph to the ground, and then collapsed himself. He had done his job. He had no idea where they were, but they were away from the vampires. Neem was comatose, but he was alive.

Everything would be fine.

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