Assassin’s Chronicles: Chapter 12
© 2009 by Lootah Akecheta
Warning! This story contains physical violence, strong language, and bloodshed. It is not intended for the faint of heart. Read at your own risk.
Note: While this story will have interment moments in it, it is not intended to be an erotic tail. There will be no more of the graphically explicit sex sense as is found in chapter 4 of this story. I’ve chosen to do this because I wish to try and publish this story with a mainstream publishing company for a general audience when I get it complete.
Disclaimer: This is a story of adult content. If you are offended by this type of material then please do not read further. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), then do not read this. It is strictly intended for mature audiences who enjoy reading material of this content. This is a purely fictional story and any resemblance to any persons is strictly coincidental. It is not my intention in the writing of this material to shed an unsavory light on any person by the use of any names in this material. This material is copyrighted by me and may not be used in part or in whole for group entertainment or education, including class rooms, without first obtaining written permission from me. I would appreciate any constructive criticism, complements, or suggestions my readers may have to share with me, however I will flatly ignore flaming out at my material. You may write to me via: email@example.com.
An Ancient Greeting
My head split like a ripe watermelon when I woke. I’ve not had a headache since Rakish turned me and I’d forgotten what a pain in the ass they are. To make matters worse my dreamscapes flowed with blood and gore all night drifting from one nightmare into another. I walked alone down a lonesome midnight stretch of road in one and heard a noise behind me but was afraid to look. Equally afraid not too I glanced over my shoulder seeing a horde of vampires drifting out of darker shadows. They noticed me looking and in the time it took to realized what I saw they charged at me bearing fangs and claw like fingernails. I fled changing to tiger form for greater speed to escape, but no matter how fast I tried to run, muddle along at a snail’s pace is all I could do. They never caught me but I felt the brush of clammy hands gripping at my ankles and flanks. Why do dreams do that tough? It makes you feel like quicksand has you from the waist down. That’s one aspect of dreams I hate because it makes me feel helpless.
In another I lay on a table trusted up with silver wire unable to move. Someone stuffed an apple in my mouth and I smelt wood burning nearby. As soon as I noticed the wood smoke I realized it wasn’t a table I lay on at all but a cast iron grate over a smoldering fire. My flesh bubbled and cracked as I slowly cooked like a roast pig. The hall filled with people ready for a banquet with me as the main course. One of them gripped a ladle in a large pot over a fire to stir it. I could see the steaming brown broth as swirled in the cast iron vessel. An arm swam into view and I saw the elbow just below the broken humerus. A moment later Greg’s face surfaced, mouth agape and those oh so beautiful eyes dulled in death and from the cooking stew. The woman stirring the pot stopped to pluck one of those eyes out and popped it into her mouth closer her own silver eyes in complete ecstasy. When she opened her eyes her face no longer looked human but like a grotesque approximation of some animal I almost recognized. The other people in the hall looked at her as she transformed and they all shifted into loathsome animals I couldn’t guess what. Two vampires lifted me off the grill and set me before hundreds of hungry snarling mouths. Somehow the pot got overturned and I saw Rakish, Pumar, Shea, and Trent’s heads sprawl across the floor. Hungry jaws snapped at the body parts washing past. See what I mean: one nightmare after another and all with a similar theme – me helpless to do anything about it. I can’t remember a more restless night in my life. Even the comfort of my bedmates did little to abate my fears and the tensions from these dreams and I’d give anything for my head to stop pounding.
In yet another dream I found myself tied up in a dark smelly dungeon with silver cuffs and chains holding me tight. The stone walls ran slick with some sort of black liquid that smelled of sewage and rot. Slime squished under my feet making me slip as I tried to stand and wiggle free of my bonds. The more I struggled the tighter bound I became. A door opened on the far side of the room and a procession of hooded figures strode in with a lycanthrope in bonds beside each. The more I looked at the shapeshifters I realized they were my friends: Shea, bound with silver, stumbled beside the first hooded person. Rakish followed. Healing burses decorated his face and one of his eyes swelled shut. Beside him stumbled Greg in worse condition. Both were wrapped in so many silver chains it surprised me they could walk under the weight. Tobin and Torquil followed. One held a handless stump still bleeding. The other’s eye socket gaped empty. Their blond hear and height is the only way I could tell who they were. Swelling disfigured their faces to the point I could not make out separate features. The others followed with Pumar bringing up the rear. Relief filled me when I noticed he’d suffered no harm. Not a single wound showed until his capturer moved aside and I saw the bloody mass between his legs. I thought he walked funny and now I understood why. I cried out in anguish at the fate of my friends and family struggling harder to escape and rip into those who’d hurt them.
Once everyone was present somewhere around twenty more vampires came in surrounding those I’d come to love as family. The last one, a very tall figure, walked in from the darkness of the intricately carved wooden double door. He stood at least a good head and shoulders over everyone else in the room. His was the only face I could see and malice burned in his black eyes. Long black hair hung listlessly over his shoulders. Everyone looked at him waiting – for what, I couldn’t tell but I figured I’d soon find out. He nodded his head looking straight at me. In a flash the vampires ripped through my friends like so much tissue paper pulling them to shreds bathing in their blood, drinking their fill. They held Pumar out of the way, safe, until last, holding him to one side as I watched Shea, the twins, and the others screaming as they died. Smiling amiably the leader walked over to me and brushed his long fingers along my jaw line. “Do you know why you had to watch this?” He asked in a sharp Italian accent. I shook my head no. “Because you killed her – you killed my sister.” He leaned into me smelling my neck right over the juggler. “I should kill you now, but no… I do not think you have suffered enough.” He stepped aside and turned so he could see the whole room. I watched helplessly as they slowly pulled Pumar forward. They came to the center of the carnage and began pulling him apart ripping his arms off first while rubbing their faces in the wounds licking at the gushing blood. They ripped his legs off next letting him drop to the putrid floor wallowing in all the fresh blood. Lycanthropes are not easy to kill and I watched as my friend, lover, and lunar-son twisted in agony as he bled out. Regardless of how much I struggled I could do nothing about it. I woke screaming from that one and nearly frightened my three bedmates to death.
“What’s wrong with you Galin?” Greg asked. “You tossed and turned, growled, yelled, and whimpered all night.”
“I don’t know Greg.” I said. As soon as I spoke I knew I’d made a big mistake in making the effort. A series of gongs rang off inside my mind causing me to grab the sides of my head as the pain smashed into my brain sending sharp shock waves bouncing back and forth off the sides of my skull. “Awe FUCK! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Is Isaac still here? I gasped.”
The door flung opened and the elf rushed in answering my question. “What’s happening in here? It sounds like the predator’s side of a zoo.”
“I don’t know what that vampire did to him, but Galin’s been having horrible nightmares all night. I saw some of them through the link and if he saw worse than that, I’m not sure I want to know everything else that happened in them. To make it worse he also has a horrible headache, something that should not happen at all.” Rakish answered.
“Lycanthropes don’t suffer from headaches I take it?” Isaac asked.
“No, our bodies heal all ailments including headaches. I can’t understand why he’d have one.” Rakish answered caressing my sweating forehead. I trembled in his embrace.
Isaac came close to the bed causing my body to react instantly to his nearness and I don’t mean in a good way. Convulsions wracked through me twisting my face into a mask of agony. He stepped back and I calmed. He stepped close again with the same results. “Interesting.” He stared at my naked chest. “Where’s your amulet?” He asked. I shook my head no. I had no idea where it was but I couldn’t articulate it. He looked around until he found it lying on the floor next to the bed. I’d been wearing it when I slipped between the sheets last night. Picking it up, he tossed it bringing a yell from me when it landed on my stomach. I couldn’t get it off away from me fast enough because it burned wherever I touched it. “Very interesting indeed.” He said to himself like a doctor evaluating a sick patient when he has no idea what to make of it. The elf closed his eyes in meditation for a long while and when he opened them they were no longer their normal light green but a very intense emerald – the color of the Emerald Coast along Florida’s Panhandle. His long hair hung in loose curls over his shoulders and halfway down his bare chest.
He began a low chant, the same one he’d used to save me last night producing an instant reaction. The fog in my brain twisted into a storm and I realized my mind wasn’t my own. A harsh shrill scream escaped my lips, one that was much too high pitched for me to produce as I writhed on the bed. My lunar-family grabbed my arms trying to hold me down but I thrashed under their weight. Claws erupting from my fingers, fangs distending in my mouth as my body tried to transform into my tiger but something held me back – frozen in a half changed state. Blood splattered the walls where a claw gouged into Pumar’s shoulder digging out a clump of meat bringing a gasp of pain from him. To his credit he held on tight. Isaac continued chanting. “Bechol ethlos el enothian shamill. Elothny becloneth! Elothny becloneth! Elothny becloneth! Shalack ethrim ith becloneth!” The more he chanted the more I thrashed under my family’s grip. Galidohal benoth min chockmoth!” After what seemed like an eternity to me the sickness gripping my mind eased allowing calm to wash over me as my body shook. The strain of my muscles bunching and relaxing, tightening and relaxing, over and over again, now rest still except for shaking with fatigue. I lay panting, covered in a heavy sweat and my lunar-son’s blood. My body slid back to full human and Pumar’s shoulder already began to mend by the time Isaac finished chanting. The elf lowered the amulet around my neck and as soon as the pendant touched my bare chest a deep calm swept over me like a gentle rain in a mountain glade full of spring flowers swaying in a soft breeze. “Damn that bitch is strong.” He exclaimed as he drew back.
The headache left as though it never existed bringing such a sigh of relief from me I couldn’t help but laugh weakly. “Think you, all of you.” I whispered.
“You’re welcome but you and I need to take a trip downtown this morning Galin and before your visit with the werejaguars. I have an idea that may help you with this.” Isaac said studying me closely as though he expected it all to start again.
“OK, what do you have in mind?”
He shook his head refusing to tell me as though he feared I’d decline. “No, I’ll not say another word about it until we are far away from here. I don’t know what enchantments, if any, she has on this place, but she seems to have easy access to you here.” I nodded as I stumbled out of bed falling to the floor. Before I could make the effort to get up, Pumar stooped beside me lifting me in his arms making his way to the bathroom. Shit my body ached from my neck to my toes. The thought of a nice hot shower sounded great and at the moment I didn’t even care about coffee – not like me at all. “Keep your talisman on while you shower or bathe. Take it off for nothing.” Isaac said as we passed by. He turned to my lunar-father and Greg. “Go with him. I don’t want him left alone for even a moment until I figure out how to keep him safe.”
My family’s presence made me feel relaxed and almost normal again. I would have protested but I felt the need for as much company as I could get. Rakish and Pumar understood this from the link and I guess Greg just didn’t want to be left out. He’s almost as bad as Rakish about sticking to me like glue, which I would have hated a couple of weeks ago. I may not share a lunar link with him, but I really enjoy his company. Greg has a singular sense of humor that is dry and unpredictable. It surprised me a bit when I found out he’s better endowed than any of us tigers. I don’t even mind the mutt smell he produces sometimes. An interesting thing about shapeshifters, and one that can also be embarrassing, is that our beast leaks through to our human sides. That is our piss and shit smells like our animal. Even our breath will do this if we don’t keep up a vigorous dental hygiene routine. Most of the time it is a comforting scent, like the smell of home and family, but at other times it can be annoying especially if the scent’s from a different species. Greg watched as Pumar and I slipped into the shower. “I think he’s faking it.” He said. We all looked at him like he lost his mind and Pumar just about snapped something nasty at him when we noticed the sly grin tugging at the edges of his mouth. “Yep, I think he’s doing this just to get us all in the shower with him. How are you feeling Galin?” He asked. His eyes gleamed with humor, but there was enough worry there to let us know how he really felt – he just teased around trying to provide a bit of comic relief. I found myself very grateful for him at that moment.
“I feel tones better Greg, but I ache all over.” I realized he didn’t share our link and explained a bit more. “Before Isaac came in the agony was almost unbearable. Now it’s like it never happened but I’m drained, exhausted like I’ve been running full out for five days straight. All I want to do is take a shower and go back to bed.”
“Somehow I don’t think Isaac will let you do that.” Rakish said as he followed the rest of us into the large spacious shower room. I’d never seen a hotel bathroom boast a shower with space enough for four people with their very own showerhead. It’s nice.
I harrumphed. “Why not?” I asked.
“He said you and he needed to go downtown this morning as soon as possible. I don’t think he’ll let it wait regardless of how sleepy you are.” He answered.
“Rakish, there is no way in hell I’m going downtown until later today. He’ll just have to learn to wait.” I was wrong. Not only did he insist on it, he downright threatened me with physical violence if I didn’t obey. I decided it was in my best interest to give in and get it over with.
We walked the street towards the older parts of Cancun and I got a good look around. It’s a pretty city, but not the cleanest I’ve ever seen. The market square swarmed with people all looking and bargaining for the best value while the vendors tried their best to keep the prices as high as possible. It was a friendly banter and everyone seemed to be in a blissfully ignorant and happy mood. My mouth felt like someone stuffed it with cotton making it difficult to swallow. I’ve been told the water here is not good for foreigners to drink and I guess for humans that’d be right. I normally don’t drink it though, not because of worrying about getting sick but because it taste like shit. Come to think of it, I guess there’s a good reason for that. We passed a vendor selling fresh squeezed orange juice and I couldn’t resist. I bought a glass and watched as the man broke off pieces of ice from a large block and poured the fresh juice along with the ice into a decent sized cup. It tasted fantastic. Once again I thanked whatever gods there are that I cannot get sick or I’d have the shits for days over this one.
We left the market and the shops we passed in our hurried pace were mostly closed. When we came to an especially old looking one with blown trash huddled against the doorjamb I looked at the faded marquee painted on dirty glass professing a tattoo parlor. The locked door and dark interior looked forlorn and stood silent and still as the grave just like the others around it. I guessed we were about an hour too early at the very least and my stomach growled protesting the fast I’d not broken yet. “They aren’t open Isaac, but you’ve got to be kidding. Why are we at a Tattoo Parlor?”
He looked at me. “You need to get a tattoo because I need the ink to work with.”
“Well, they’re not open. What do you say about finding a place to eat, talk about this, and come back later?” He nodded reluctantly looking at the closed shop. “I’m not getting a tattoo.” I added.
“It’s important Galin or I wouldn’t have dragged you down here. Besides you’re always going on about how well your body heals, if you do not like it and when we are far away from here you can always excise it and let your skin heal over.”
“That sounds painful.” I grumbled as we walked down the sidewalk looking for a restaurant opened for breakfast.
“Wuss! I thought weretigers were supposed to be like super macho or something.” Isaac teased. I swear I’ve never seen this side of him before. From hanging around him these last few weeks, I’d have sworn the man had no sense of humor at all.
“I think you know damned well and good that I’m no wimp, but the thought of cutting a tattoo off my body just doesn’t seem like a sunny afternoon I wish to experience. Besides it’s a moot point anyway, as soon as I turn my body will extricate the ink. What kind of tattoo anyway, my pendent?”
“Look Galin, you wore it to bed and somehow it wound up on the floor. This morning you wake up possessed again and worse I might say than last night. Believe me, it didn’t just jump off you and onto the floor. My guess is you took it and tossed it off the bed and as far away from you as you could while you slept right on through it.” He walked silently for a bit. “Whoever this vampire is, she’s very powerful and she’s gotten her claws into you somehow. Did she bite you when you went out on the balcony to confront her?”
“Are you sure?”
“Then that makes her even more powerful than I thought. I’m guessing she is the one who made you get rid of the pendant so she could repossess you. If the sigil is tattooed into your skin, it will be a lot more difficult for her to influence you to get rid of it.”
“Isaac, did you not hear what I said. All I have to do is transform and the tattoo will be gone. If she can influence me to throw the real one away, she can influence me to change form.”
“After I do what I plan, it won’t go away until I’m ready for it too no matter how many times you transform.”
“What?” I asked.
“Look, if I could assume my normal being the tattooing would not be necessary. I’d simply cast a spell and the image would appear in your skin, but in this form I’m limited as to what I can do. I need the ink to be injected first and then I can manipulate it. I’ll see to it so no one can get rid of it until the danger is gone. It could just as easily be an image of Bugs Bunny for that matter. All I need is the ink, after that I can transform it into any image or images I need. Magic is the reason it will stay on you even when you transform. Your lycanthropy will not reject it once the spell is complete and closed.”
I thought he’d lost his mind. “Wow, Bugs Bunny protection, yea, that makes me feel safe, shish!”
“Make fun if you like, but it will work. This I promise you.” He complained.
We found an all night pub just down the street. It’s a strip joint that never closes and they offer food – lucky us. Looking at the place I suspected I’d be seeing a doctor if I were human. “You sure you won’t get sick eating here?” I asked.
Isaac laughed at my naivety. “Galin, I do not get sick any more than you do.”
“This place may test that theory.” I said sardonically. The bar’s darkened interior gave me pause at first. After being in the bright morning sun, yes the storm passed during the night, my eyes needed time to adjust. A woman dancing on stage, if you want to call it that, caught my attention first. She swayed back and forth out of time with the music blaring through the speakers and I suspected she’d fall over if not for the stripper’s poll supporting her. She wore no clothes at all and about the only positive thing I could see about her were the natural breast she sported. I’m not a breast man for the most part even when I’m attracted to a woman, but she’d not been enhanced at all – she didn’t need it.
Looking around I saw a fine layer of grease and dust covering every surface. I’m not afraid of germs, but this place looked like the entire establishment could serve as a Petri dish for a mad scientist. Only god knew all the pathogens growing in here. To make matters worse the smell almost made me lose my cookies. Mix smoke, shit, sperm, and puke, cover it up with bleach and you get the picture. A bar like this wouldn’t last two seconds in the United States before the Health Department shut her down. “Isaac, there has to be a better place to eat than here.”
“Trust me Galin; they’ve got good food.” He said with a slightly exasperated sigh.
“What’s their specialty, Salmonella with Botulism on the side?” I protested.
“How did you know? You’ve eaten here before haven’t you? Come on, admit it.” He teased. “Yes, that is their specialty and when you add a shot of Cyanide to wash everything down makes it perfect.” He laughed at his own joke. “What’s with you today Galin, I’ve never seen you this contrary before.”
“You’ve never asked me to eat at Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory before either.”
“Maybe they have a dish of ‘Abby Normal’ on the menu.” He winked as he said it taking his seat.
Looking at the grime covered wooden chair with a butt imprint clearly marking the surface, I swallowed hard and sat down. I figured I’d have to get my clothes dry cleaned just to get the stench and stains out of them when we left. “Abby Normal?” I asked.
“Oh for Heaven’s sake Galin, where have you been all these years? It comes from Gene Wilder’s ‘Young Frankenstein’. I swear you really do need to take time to watch some of Hollywood’s finer moments. It is classic comedy at its best.” I still didn’t get it causing Isaac to smile a moment before continuing to explain. “Igor brought Dr. Frankenstein a brain for the experiment thinking it belonged to a girl named Abby Normal. Only after the good doctor implanted the brain and brought the monster to life did Frankenstein find out the brain was listed as abnormal, not Abby Normal.”
I got it, late I know, but hay! I couldn’t stop laughing once the joke struck home. At that moment everything in the world seemed funny to me, even the predicament we found ourselves in, the restaurant, the tattoo, the vampire who made it all necessary, everything. I decided to trust Isaac then and let him order breakfast for me. I still thought we’d do better to find a cleaner place, but he insisted this place had good food. When finished we paid for our meal and made for the door. I don’t know what I ate but it was wrapped like a burrito in a flower tortilla shell stuffed with eggs, bacon, sausage, red chili sauce, and yes it was delicious. The woman on stage still swayed back and forth to some music in her mind because the real music shut off some time back. My nose thanked me when we regained the streets and I looked around taking in my surroundings a little better than before. The food woke me up. “How in hell did you find this place Isaac?” I thought I’ve seen just about every part of this city there was to find, but I was wrong – the second time today – I’m on a roll.
“I’ve had need of a tattooist before.”
I chewed on that for a moment. He was right about the food; maybe I ought to trust him on this too. “OK, I’ll get the tattoo but I still don’t see how it will help.” Isaac clapped me on the back grinning as he walked up to the parlor’s door. The lights shining inside broadcast them as opened for business. The joint didn’t inspire my confidence one bit, but nothing here can hurt me so why not, but I had one more question for my elf friend. “Why here?” I asked as we stood waiting for the artist to wait on us.
“I’ve used him before and he does a good job and doesn’t ask questions. Besides, since you don’t have to worry about infections we won’t have to see a doctor afterword like the last person I brought here.”
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Relax Galin; you look like a young boy waiting for his first sexual experience at a whorehouse.” That mental image brought a smile to my face. It’s exactly what my father did to my brother and me when we reached the ripe old age of sixteen. If a person could be more nervous than I was back then, I’d like to see it.
The tattooing went rather well. Isaac decided a normal tattoo would work better than one of my talisman, so he chose Bugs Bunny after all. When we left I was the proud owner of a cartoon on my chest: lucky me. I would have chosen a small, discrete tattoo, but Isaac insisted on one that damned near covered my whole chest. If any of the others see this, I’ll NEVER live it down. “You tell anyone of this Isaac and what I did to you 29 years ago will seem like child’s play.” I threatened.
“I’m not telling a soul and neither are you. I don’t want anyone knowing what we did on this trip. The fewer people who know about it the better it will work.” Upon arriving at the main drag in the old town area, Isaac hailed a cab and gave the driver directions in perfect Spanish. I envied him this because I’ve never taken the time to learn the language. I know enough to get by but not enough to hold a conversation. I only caught snatches of the instructions he gave the driver and off we went like a bat out of hell. I saw why Shea told Rakish and us to take the dingy to the hotel strip. I may be hard to kill, but I pretty much prepared myself for Last Rites by the time we got to our destination, which proved to be nothing more than a stretch of abandoned dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
“OK, why are we here?” I asked.
“We’re nowhere yet Galin, but after about a thirty minute hike we’ll be in a nice quiet place where no one will witness what we’re going to do next.” He said as he strode off into the trees and underbrush along the side of the road.
“Why do I feel no better having asked?” I questioned bringing a snicker from my tall friend. “Are we going to fuck? I could use a good ass about right now.” This just brought another chuckle from my friend.
We stopped in the middle of a nearly perfectly cleared circle of forest floor skirted by a stream on the east side. For once I saw water in this part of the country that didn’t smell like shit. They’re really are wonders left in the world – how refreshing. Isaac turned around studying me for a while. “Strip.” He ordered. Oh goody we are going to fuck. I thought. I didn’t ask why, but did as he said.
I stood there naked as the day I came into this world feeling a bit disconcerted being the only one nude here. “Why am I acting like this?” I wondered aloud. “It’s not like me at all.”
“I believe this morning you suffered your first headache in over a hundred years, it’s bound to have a toll on you.” He squared his shoulders and like this morning he stood quietly meditating for some time and his eyes were that beautiful Emerald Green again when he opened them. He approached me slowly not saying a word until he stood almost close enough that our bodies nearly touched. “Lorieanatha ethril shallorian minoth. Elothnian ethril shamilliar linodrin eloth.” He said in his own language. Warmth spread across the tattoo. I looked down and Bugs was gone replaced by a swirl of dark, black, ink. I gasped as the ink sepperated into what seemed like hundreds of smaller swirls spreading across my body with the largest one coming to rest just over my heart – slightly left of my sternum. This one formed into my amulet with every detail perfect. The rest formed a strange script running the lengths of my arms and legs and wound around my torso in an artful way. “Minoth rendolin ethril shallorian el alongquin en frindola chronothril.” The script glowed a soft silver/gold before settling into an almost solid Navy Blue before fading to the slightest hint of color making ghost images of the words they formed. The talisman covering my heart glowed a bright red and I cried out as it burned deep into my flesh before cooling into an annoying tingle. At some point I’d fallen to my knees but for the life of me I could not remember when it happened. I opened my eyes to see Isaac holding his hands over the pendant with his fingers contorted into an odd gesture. “Ethril lonenshrod morgoneth!” He hissed. Everything disappeared, the script and the talisman alike were no longer there but I could still feel them burning lightly just under my skin. “How do you feel?” He asked.
“What the fuck did you do to me?” I gasped quietly in awe.
“What I said I’d do. How do you feel?” He repeated.
“It burns a little, but I feel OK.”
He smiled. “Good. There is one more thing we need to do. I need you to stand for this though.” He held out his hand to help me up. I didn’t need the assistance but I took the proffered hand. When I stood straight and nude before him he looked at the water in the little stream flowing a few yards away. “Haggiso ethros nol loriethnith shamil!” Droplets of water seemed to dance on the surface of the small creek until the entire stream seemed to come alive lifting out of its bed. Flowing through the air as natural as breathing it twisted like a ribbon through the space around me. I stepped back. “Stay where you are Galin, it will not harm you. Haggiso norienolorel en fomell rendoquil!” He called to the water. At once the flying stream swirled over my head not much unlike a waterspout causing me to catch my breath just in time to keep from sucking it in as torrents washed over my entire body from head to foot washing me clean. Before long it’s swirling off to fill the streambed again. The warm tingling under my skin faded replaced by an almost icy cool as though Old Man Winter exhaled his chilling breath across my skin. Gooseflesh rolled up my spine and down my arms and legs making me shiver in the hot tropical sun. “Put your clothes back on and let’s go. You can take a hot shower when we return to the rooms.” For once I didn’t argue. I think the recent events frightened me just enough to keep my trap shut.
As we walked down the hot dusty road towards town where we can find a taxi I found my courage to ask what happened back there. “I told you I only needed the ink. Once it was injected into your skin it was a simple thing to manipulate it into the forms I needed. The first set of chants formed Bugs Bunny into your talisman and a series of ancient runes of protection. The second chant charged them for the purpose we need them to serve. The third and fourth set of chants washed you with holy water.”
“Holy water like what’s in a Catholic Church?” I asked. It was the only thing I could wrap my mind around.
“Kind of, but this water is a thousand times more potent: partly because it’s pure spring water and partly because I blessed it in the ancient language of my people.” He walked quietly for so long I thought he’d said all he was going to on the subject. “Galin, in a few days the tattoos will become visible again but only slightly. As time goes by they will return to their natural opaque state but not for a long time. We can remove them any time you like, but I will not do so until this danger is past.” I didn’t feel the need to say anything so I stayed quiet. “All harm except for that which is physical will deflect off you. If you pay close attention you will feel them burn slightly as the magic comes to life. Hopefully you’re a good actor because if she tries to influence you again you can act like it worked to put her off until the time is right to attack.”
“Attack?” I asked.
“Yes, it may become necessary for you to protect yourself more than what this magic can do. It will protect you from spiritual harm and from psychic manipulation, but it will not protect you from physical harm. If she realizes she has no control over you she may try taking you out rather than risk a vengeful tiger.”
“I’m not so easy to kill Isaac.”
“I know this Galin, probably better than anyone, but do not underestimate this vampire. If you do, you may well not survive it. After all, we do not know how she has such a hold on you. She had a similar effect on Rakish and Pumar too, but not Greg.”
“They both share a direct link to me where Greg doesn’t. There’s nothing mysterious about that.” I said.
“True, but what if your link is not the whole reason why she had such an effect on the three of you and not Greg. It’s been known that some vampires have control over certain types of animals. Dracula controlled wolves. Maybe this vampire controls cats.”
“Dracula?” I laughed. “You’re kidding right?”
“No I’m not. He existed and he may well still persist someplace, in some form or other. The point is it’s been well documented that he possessed control over wolves and werewolves alike.”
I thought it over but found nothing plausible enough to pursue an argument. The elf had a point. “OK, if she has an unnatural control over felines, will this spell you cast on me protect me from her?”
“It will protect you from any sort of magic, psychic attack, and it will even protect you from a more subtle psychic manipulation, but it will not protect you from a direct physical attack. Tell me about your dreams.” I told him what I’d dreamed leaving nothing out. He stopped deep in thought just before we got to a cobblestone street lined with shops. “Your dreams have proved prophetic before. It would be wise to expect at least one more vampire.” He referred to my dream where all my friends and family were ripped apart in front of me.
“Shit, surely you don’t mean that I get us all killed because I kill this bitch that’s doing this to me?” I hated the very thought of it.
“If you don’t kill them both, then it is a possibility.” He said as he flagged down a taxi. We decided to end our conversation until later. Right before we got into the car Isaac finished his thought. “Galin, you may have to pretend to be under her control to avoid being discovered. Can you act well enough to deceive a vampire?”
“I think so.” I said as I opened the car door letting him enter first.
“Good, make sure you can because your life and that of your friends may well depend on it.” From then on we talked about more amiable things like politics, religion, and a bunch of other bullshit to pass the time and keep our driver from wanting to listen to closely. We didn’t have long to BS before arriving at the hotel. The distance from where the driver picked us up to the hotel was quite far, but the way he drive got us there in record time. We paid our fare as we exited the car making our way to our floor.
Quiet, way too quiet would describe the room when we returned. Rakish, Pumar and Greg were nowhere in sight. I reached out with the link to my lunar-family and found both of them on the roof. We shared a weak link at this distance, but I finally made my presence known to them. Both let me know they’d be right down and that Greg was with them. It didn’t take long before three very excited lycanthropes bounded into the room making me wonder what on earth could be so exciting on the roof of a hotel in Cancun, Mexico. “OK, I gotta ask, what’s up with you three?”
Pumar and Rakish looked at each other snickering but Greg answered. “You can see the whole city from up there and I think we found where the werejaguar’s lair is. On the farthest inland spot of the city is a very large mansion surrounded by a fenced in compound.”
“Yes, that would be exciting, I guess, but not enough to bring this response from all three of you. What else did you see up there?” The three shapeshifters burst out laughing at a private joke I’ve yet to be made privy to.
“It’s Trent. He is such a sexy stud, I never knew.” Greg said.
I must have looked puzzled because Pumar took up where Greg left off after seeing his friend’s difficulty explaining it. “We went up to the roof to see the city but when we rounded a corner we came upon Trent with three hotel maids on a lower tier of the roof. One was a guy too. They were having a LOT of fun and the…”
Pumar paused letting Rakish take up the story. “Galin, they couldn’t get enough of him and he… had plenty to go around.”
I looked at them. “He’s that well endowed?” I asked.
“Not just that, and yes he is well endowed, but they couldn’t understand where he got his stamina from.” Pumar finished.
“Stamina, how long were you up there on your voyeur mission?”
“Well, we went up there right after you and Isaac left.”
My jaw hit the floor. “You mean they’ve been going at it for the last six hours?”
“And then some.” Rakish added. “They were going at it before we found them. Almost made me horny enough to…” He didn’t finish his sentence and I assumed out of embarrassment because he turned beet red studying the carpet intensely.
“He means he almost asked us to help him out.” Greg answered.
“I most certainly did not.” Rakish said a little too quickly for believability.
“You almost did.” The werewolf insisted bringing a growl from the older tiger.
“Easy guys, there’s no need to fight among ourselves.” I couldn’t help the grin sprouting across my face. Greg looked almost mutinous while Rakish looked like he’d like little better than rip something, or more likely someone, apart.
“I take it Trent and his new friends’ heated things up a bit?” I asked trying to divert a disaster because the flash of anger, embarrassment, and panic I felt emanating from Rakish told me Greg’s assessment of my lunar-father’s meaning was right on queue.
All three of them burst out laughing again. “That is most certainly an understatement Galin.” Rakish answered for them all. “What they did would make a porn star blush.” He smiled. “I’ve been around for centuries and I could learn a few things from our panther buddy Trent.” The mental image I caught at that point made even me blush – something I thought to be a thing of the past. I’ve studied Karma Sutra and thought I’d practiced just about every sexual act known to humankind and I began to understand what Rakish meant by being able to learn something here. Four people, two men and two women, in positions I thought impossible. “See what I mean?” Rakish asked. I just nodded my head. I could think of nothing to say. “I guess nearly two weeks pent up onboard the Twilight Obsession had him pretty damned well desperate.”
“Well, I’d like to take a good hot shower before this evening. I’ll be in the bathroom if anyone needs me.” As I walked toward the bathroom I noticed I felt more like my old self than I had in a very long time. Energy flowed through my whole being. I felt as though it would shoot from my fingertips if only I concentrated on it even a little bit. I didn’t try, not in front of my friends at any rate.
We spent the rest of the day resting up and making sure to bathe, some of us more than once. Meeting an unfamiliar lycanthrope group is daunting at the very least and washing eased the tension some. The only thing that made meeting Shea’s people a bit easier is the simple fact that the American Panther is an indigenous species of North America. I’ve met them before and so have most of the members of my clan. I’ve never met jaguars– not even natural ones. I knew nothing of their customs or what acts could prove offensive enough to get us all killed. As the appropriate hour approached, I realized I wasn’t the only one getting nervous. The only one not anxious was Pumar because he’d never met a lycanthrope group other than ours and Shea’s and therefore didn’t understand the myriad ways you could screw it up. The summons to meet the jaguar clan mentioned it would not be safe for us to approach their home unescorted, a sentiment supported by Eva Dias as we road back to the marina in her car. It is not just unsafe it is downright dangerous. I was lucky on my hunt when I first met Shea in the Escambian swamps. If she’d wanted to, or if I’d offended her, she could have, and most likely would have, called her tribal members and I would not be telling this story at all. I would have been panther fodder fertilizing some obscure plant somewhere. Granted I’d obtained Matron Dias’ protection while here, but that could change. The older ones in our group I wasn’t so worried about, but Greg and Pumar – especially Pumar, worried me. They are young and inexperienced.
Five o’clock came around far too quickly for my taste. I’d lectured Pumar and Greg about the proper etiquette for meeting a strange lycanthrope group and Greg eased my fears somewhat, but Pumar insisted there was nothing to it: “We go there, say hi, eat, and leave, what’s to worry about?” He protested when I insisted on telling him again how to behave. His tone was about to piss me off and to my surprise my lunar-father’s short fuse proved my point. Out of nowhere a clawed fist smashed into my lunar-son’s chest slamming him into the hotel suite’s wall with a loud crash. Blood blossomed over his white tee-shirt from five lacerations gouged deeply into his chest. He looked dazed and I looked bewildered until I realized what happened.
“Damn it punk, listen without arguing for once!” Rakish shouted. His eyes glazed over with a hint of hunter’s lust. For a moment I feared my insulate brat finely pushed the old tiger too far, but I realized it for the lesson it was.
Pumar looked at us dazed and a bit sulky. He wasn’t really hurt, not in a way that wouldn’t heal quickly. “What was that for?” He complained.
“If you don’t do what your master says you can get us all killed.” Greg answered. The anger in his voice told me he was about as fed up with his friend as we all were. “This is not a game Alex. It’s real and it’s dangerous. Everyone there will be your dominant – even the weakest of them until the pecking order is established, which may never happen.” Greg’s knowledge of our situation surprised me. He saw me looking and explained. “Shredder may have been a sadistic bastard, but he made sure all of his slaves knew our place and what could happen if we misbehaved while in a stranger’s territory. Three of us died at Shredder’s hands until the message sank into the rest of us.” I nodded in understanding. It is uncommon, but a shapeshifter’s maker can, and sometimes will, kill their progeny if the whelp refuses to learn the basic lessons that keep us alive.
“OK, OK, I get it – this is important.” Pumar said quietly and pensively. I think Greg’s use of his friend’s former name jolted him into listening.
“I’m not sure you do.” Greg said so seriously his voice trembled indicating his anger hadn’t abated in the least. If anything it was worse. Needless to say Pumar didn’t grumble anymore when we instructed him on the proper etiquette for tonight’s event.
Anyway, when the clock read 5:30 p.m. we all went downstairs. Pumar had to change his clothes after Rakish nearly scooped a hole out of his chest. Just as Eva told us, Carlos and Jose waited for us to come down. The older jaguar looked like the embodiment of patience while Jose looked like he’d die if he had to wait another minute. His attitude hadn’t improved from earlier. “Hello, it is good to see you this afternoon. If all of you are here we’ll head on out. It’s a rather long way to our meeting place.” Carlos said as he proffered a warm handshake to me. I took the offered hand and smiled warmly as I said we were indeed all here. I introduced Shea and the other’s as each gathered around the two werejaguars. Carlos looked at us all. “The meeting place has changed. We originally decided to have the feast here in Cancun, but our matron changed her mind this morning.” I nodded and thought to my family. Hmmm, I wonder why?
Only when he saw Shea did Jose even try to be civil. He seemed to be somewhat smitten with her – I cannot say I blame the bloke. She is beautiful and charming. Taking her hand in his he bent low as though to kiss it but barley brushed his lips on the back of her hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you Shea. Others have told me what a beauty you are, but they did you no justice.” It was the most civil act Jose made since we arrived.
“Thank you Jose, I’m charmed to be sure.” I couldn’t help but wonder exactly how old Jose is after this display of chivalry. He actually smiled, which improved his looks many times over.
Emerging from the hotel I got a pleasant surprise to see three SUV’s waiting for us under the canopy. After what Carlos said, I thought we’d walk from the hotel. Later I realized exactly why the cars were needed. We drove west for two hours and finally exited the tollway into the town of Pisté, Mexico and then continued southeast on old highway 180 until we passed an airport on our left. After another 200 yards or so we stopped on the side of the road where Carlos, Jose, and the rest of us got out. Our drivers drove on leaving us in the evening’s dusk. People may not think of the Yucatan jungle as being real, and in the classic sense such as one finds in the Amazon, it isn’t, but it is a jungles to be sure.
Mostly flat terrain greeted us as we walked deeper and deeper into the forest but the jungle’s growth crowded in from all directions disorienting us. We walked on no trail and it took nearly an hour before we broke through the dense vegetation on the edge of a rather large Cenote, or pit in the ground where the ground water, which in this case is a river, is accessed. The sun sank behind Mexico casting a beautiful pallet of pastel pinks and oranges across the feathery clouds streaking the sky. I like all the time periods of a day but my favorites are sunrise and sunset. The colors are typically breathtaking. This was no different except the only sky we could see was right above.
The twins were the only ones who seemed to enjoy the hike – not that it was terribly difficult, just disconcerting. However, if I thought Jose had attitude issues before I’d been wrong. He positively hated the otters and everything they did seemed to pull his worst behavior from deep inside. The fact that one of them used his back as a springboard to land squarely on his brother’s shoulders did nothing to improve his mood. He grabbed at the little guy, and I thought the twin was caught for sure, but regardless of Jose’s speed the otters were faster scampering off into the underbrush. After a while they cautiously emerge back onto the trail behind us, easing along as quiet as they could before boredom or curiosity got the best of them again. Do you think they have a house hidden back in these woods? Pumar asked.
I doubt it. Pisté, the town we just drove through is right next to Chichen Itza an ancient Mayan ruin. I answered.
A Mayan Ruin, now that sounds fascinating. Pumar mused.
Let’s just hope they don’t plan on making us play ball. Rakish said rather sourly I thought.
Why, a ball game sounds fun. Pumar said.
I would agree except the losers of a ball game at Chichen Itza were sacrificed to the gods. I said.
Oh! Pumar said. I guess that wouldn’t be fun?
I laughed. And a bit overkill. Apparently Greg recognized the looks on our faces. “I really wish I could hear this.” He whispered. He didn’t explain his statement but we knew what he meant. Hopefully our guides would think he spoke of something else entirely. I had no doubt they heard his archaic whisper. I squeezed his arm letting him know I understood and I’d explain later. He rewarded me with a slight smile.
I looked down into the depths of the Cenote to see the dark water’s surface far below reflecting the firelight from torches on the side of the pit to our left. We stood close enough that a solid push would send us on a nosedive into the cold water below. “Is that fresh water down there?” Torquil asked.
“Indeed it is niño. It is from this Cenote and others like it where the ancients drew their drinking water.” Carlos answered. The twins looked at each other and I recognized the gleam in their eyes. However before any of us could say a word both were airborne sailing over and down into the depths below. “No!” Carlos yelled. “¡Cague! ¿Por qué demonios hicieron ellos esto?” I looked dumbfounded at the dark water below where rings from their splash echoed out towards the shores that we could see. It surprised me when I saw those same rings disappear under most of the cliff edges without hitting them.
“They will be alright, but I fear it may take some doing to get them out of there even if we had easy access to it.” Toby said. I saw a tawny head emerge just at the edge of the cliff on the far side and disappear from sight.
“If they survive at all it will be a miracle, but what they did is terrible. This is the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza. It is one of the most sacred sites to our people. Only sacrifices were allowed in there and I fear this will not go well with Philippe our king.” Carlos said crossing himself. I found it odd, a Christian gesture coming from someone who obviously believes in the old pre-Christian superstitions.
“How will Eva Diaz view it?” I asked.
“She won’t like it, but she does not believe in the old ways. Our king though is the last surviving priest of old of The Temple of Jaguars. Our queen will be the only one standing between all of you and certain death.”
“She promised us safety while we are here.” Rakish said.
“That was before those demonios jumped into our Sacred Cenote.” Jose spat. Looking like he’d like nothing better than to behead us all dropping our bloody corpses into the brink.
“Jose, calma usted mismo.” Carlos warned glaring at the younger cat. Jose backed off but the murderous look never left his eyes.
“Come, we must get to the temple and tell our Lady what has happened. Maybe we can find them if we look soon enough.” Carlos said. I wasn’t sure finding them was such a good idea. After all, they may be the only ones who survive this.
We edged around the Cenote to the torches lining both sides of a dirt road leading off into the night. It seemed a long way to the other end but it was in sight. As we emerged at the far end Carlos stopped and turned toward us. “Now, we are here. No one speaks unless called upon to do so. Keep your eyes on the ground in front of you unless told otherwise.” We all nodded as we stepped out of the surrounding jungle into a vast court with the largest non-Egyptian pyramid I’ve ever seen looming over us from the other side. WOW! Pumar exclaimed. This is beautiful. Think they offer blood sacrifices here?
They certainly used to. I said.
I hope not grandson of mine. We may be intended to be their next victim if they do. Rakish said. After what those brats did, we may be the exception if they no longer do it.
I laughed at the very thought of it. In fact this particular consideration never even occurred to me. No one’s going to be sacrificed. I said.
What makes you so sure? Rakish asked.
Because Eva Dias said none of her people would bring harm to any of us. I said, but I couldn’t tell if my words were meant to convince them or me. Rakish was right. It would have been far better if Tobin and Torquil had not taken a dive. Our guide turned right heading toward a much smaller temple but one that loomed over the surrounding court. He said nothing until we reached a corner of the structure where two torches stood illuminating a very steep set of stairs going up one side. “This is The Temple of Jaguars.” Carlos said. “Do not say a word until we are inside. Let me do the talking, do you understand?” He asked. We all nodded our heads and he turned toward the temple looking up at its summit. “My Lord and Lady of El Diente de la Muerte Clan of Jaguars: I have brought before you visitors to our land who wish to commune with our clan as brothers and sisters in peace.” I’m sure he spoke in English for our benefit.
Two lone figures emerged from around the corner near the top of the steps. They both wore traditional regalia native to the Indians who lived here. The feather crown the man wore looked very exotic and elaborate beyond description. If he were a normal human, I’d wonder how he wore it at all. Most of his torso was bare with a feather and gold necklace adorning his chest. Gold bands wrapped around both upper arms. A loincloth covered his crotch, his legs and feet naked. Eva’s regalia were less elaborate than her husband’s and a lot more conservative. She wore a white buckskin dress which extended just below her knees and adorned with fringes, shells, claws and teeth, and Abalone shell buttons. Her head cover was made of white feathers that fit her more like a skull cap completely covering her hair than a real headdress. Soft white buckskin moccasins covered her feet. Like her husband she wore gold armbands on her upper arms and a very bright and elaborate diamond necklace adorned her neck. Her attire was not what you might have seen on a woman of this society several hundred years ago, but more a mix of North American Indian regalia with contemporary jewelry. “Why have these strangers invaded our space?” Matron Diaz called down to us.
“They have washed upon our shores and are destitute and in need of repairs to their vessel. They seek peace and community with our people until they may return on their journey.” Carlos responded.
“What do they offer to show their willingness to abide by our laws, prove their loyalty to our clan, and show respect for our customs?” The man called down.
“Their blood to our blood to be shed as an offering should any of our laws be breached. They agree to forfeit their lives if my Lord and my Lady should so desire it.” I swallowed hard. Considering how old this clan is, and their continued use of these ruins long after the government and scientist seized control of it, proved we may indeed be in trouble. I glanced at Rakish and saw his thoughts traveled along the same line as mine.
“Is this so stranger in our lands?” Matron Diaz asked.
Carlos looked at Shea and motioned for her to come forward. “You must answer her. I was not expecting this. I’d say word of your little friends’ bad choice precedes us. You answer for all whatever your response may be.”
Shea nodded and bowed low to one knee. “It is so Matron Diaz of the El Diente de la Muerte Clan of Jaguars.” I’m not sure this is a good idea. Rakish said to Pumar and me silently.
Me either. I said.
“Very well, come and fellowship, find friends among us, and enjoy the hospitality of the El Diente de la Muerte Clan of Jaguars.” Both the Matron Diaz and her consort said at once. With this Carlos continued to the foot of the pyramid and we waited for the pair to descend to us. I thought this strange until we turned and stopped at the darkened interior of the lower chamber. Matron Diaz and her consort took up a position to the right and waited there for each of us to greet them with the customary offering of our neck to her, which she in turn sniffed and then much to my surprise licked before introducing the tall man standing at her side. “This is my husband Philippe Gomez the King of our people.” We each presented ourselves to him as we had his wife and received the same response. I guess the lick is their part of this custom that is unfamiliar to us. It varies slightly between the different species. Eva took my hand while Philippe held his arm for Shea to hold and they led us to the back of the chamber where a narrow opening gaped blackly in the stone wall. I swear it was not there earlier. I’d scanned the chamber’s shallow depths as we stepped up to the structure but nevertheless we walked through it side by side, two abreast, into the darkness. Steps led down into depths below that seemed to go on forever in a winding pattern. They weren’t steep like the ones outside going to the summit but shallow and broad. As we descended a jaguar in front lit torches and another one snuffed them out as we passed. “We do it this way to keep the fumes down. If they all stayed lit, the air would not be breathable.” I smiled but I still thought about the Cenote outside and figured we should be close to that depth. If we keep going down we’d soon be walking in water. “You look as though something is bothering you.” Eva said looking up at me.
“Just wondering why we aren’t under water here. We’ve gone quite a long way down.” I said.
She laughed softly. “While the Yucatan Peninsula may be low lands, this part of it is quite a long way above sea level. You saw our Sacred Cenote on your way here, no?”
“Yes, Carlos showed it to us.” I swallowed again thinking about Tobin and Torquil and then continued. “Certainly we’ve descended that far by now.”
Almost, but the water is still a bit further down. There are parts of these catacombs that do extend below it though. That is where our people will go in search for your most foolish friends.” So she does know. Rakish said to me silently.
Apparently news travels fast here. I said to my lunar-father. “We do apologize for their behavior, but they have been itching to swim in clean, clear water ever since we left the United States.”
“Are our surface streams and lakes not clean enough for them?” Philippe asked. The anger in his voice made me glance back at him automatically.
“I’m sure they would have been but we’ve not had the time to search them out since we arrived.” I said but I wasn’t sure if the words weren’t lost on him. An intense anger seethed just under the surface of his face causing his dark brown eyes to burn hotter than I’ve ever seen that cool color look. The steps came to an end and a smooth flat path stretched out in front of us in a long gentle arch in the same right handed direction as the spiral stairs. The walls were tall and tapered to a point at the top lending a cathedral feel to the narrow passage. As soon as we headed down this way I noticed doors spaced out evenly at regular intervals about a hundred feet apart.
Eva noticed me looking and explained. “A lot of people live here Simon. Most of these doors lead to personal residences.”
“I see, but please, if we’re supposed to be friends and I take it we are, my real name is Galin. I’d prefer you know that.”
She looked at me a little while as we walked. “Galin, I like it. It fits you better than Simon I think.”
“We know the twins who defiled our spring are lycanthropes, but we don’t know what species. What are they?” Philippe’s deep voice echoed in the hall.
“They are otters, river otters.” Shea responded. “That is why none of us are really worried about their survival.” I really wished she hadn’t told them this because I would have preferred everyone think they are some species of cat instead of a possible snack.
“River otters, I see.” Philippe’s voice took on a softer but more excited tone. “This changes things.”
“Oh, how may I ask?” Shea sounded a bit apprehensive.
“River otters, or our equivalent of them, are people of the water. They are revered by our people.” He said.
“As in sacred?” Greg asked.
“Sort of, but not in the way you think. The river folk were used in our past as go betweens for the gods. There were times when we would sacrifice them if the need to speak with the gods was great, but mostly they served in the Pyramid of Kukulcan and had their own private temple in the Cenote Xtoloc south of the pyramid.” Philippe answered.
I looked back at Philippe again to see his expression which no longer carried the angry sour look it had earlier. Before I turned back I noticed we were missing a couple of people. “Where are Carlos and Jose?” I asked.
“They needed to prepare for tonight’s feast. We’ll show you each to your own rooms where you will find proper attire laid out for you. It is fortunate that you arrived just in time for one of our most sacred feast: Banquete de sangre or Blood Feast.”
“Are we to be sacrificed?” Pumar asked and I looked back at him with a withering expression but looked back to Eva when I heard her laugh softly.
“No, none of you will be sacrificed. You are too important to us to do such a thing.” She didn’t explain and I couldn’t decide if this made me feel better or made me more worried. Pumar, you should keep your questions to yourself if you’re going to ask such loaded ones. I said and the anger in my mental voice was not lost on my son.
Sorry. He said.
I’m not sure when it happened, but the corridor we walked down straightened out. Cross roads, or tunnels to be more accurate, divided the central passage we traveled down making a grid. We turned left at one of these and walked another 300 yards before we came to a stop at one of the doors on the right hand side. “This is your room Galin. I’ve been told that Rakish, Pumar, and Greg would like to stay with you, so we have decided to accommodate you.” She opened the door and to my delight we walked into a rather large suite with tall ceilings that also tapered into a crude proximity of a cathedral’s. Candles resided in niches around the walls adding their light to a central glow illuminating the entire area. The space surprised me because I really didn’t think this large of a manmade space would exist here carved out of the living rock. The area right in front of the door is where couches and settees formed a nice living area complete with large lounge pillows, all sitting atop plush Persian rugs. A table large enough to seat about ten people stood to the right. Like the living area’s furniture it stood on a plush Persian rug. The table was made of the riches mahogany in the Victorian style and supported a large silver candelabrum holding at least thirteen long tapers. Along the back wall of the chamber stood two very large beds dressed with the finest linins. They too stood atop large Persian rugs. Someone went out of their way to make these ancient chambers as comfortable as possible even if a bit archaic in design. “The others’ rooms are down the hall. Each has their own chamber since none of them are lunar-related. She shook my hand warmly before proceeding to each of the others: Rakish, then Pumar. When she got to Greg she shook his hand too but noticeably cooler. “I hope you enjoy your stay.” She said before leaving the room. “Your human friends may join us tomorrow if you like. We’ve made arrangements for you to stay here until the repairs have been completed to the Twilight Obsession.” She closed the door quietly and was gone.
“How interesting.” Rakish said speaking aloud for Greg’s benefit.
“What’s interesting?” I asked.
“Well, first we arrive in Cancun without anyone except Captain Black and the Swampbane Tribe knowing where we’re going to find we’ve been invited to this gathering before we even let the authorities know we’re in town. We meet Carlos, our guide, expecting our destination to be a bit closer to town only to be transported here in the middle of a jungle. We pretty much knew our mischievous friends would do something to get us in trouble, which they do except we find out they are actually sacred to these people. We’re brought far underground beneath one of the most recognized landmarks in the world to a secret world no one knows about and find our host has provided most elaborate accommodations for us. We’re here for a Blood Feast, whatever that may in tell, to which Jacob and Isaac are not invited, which makes me wonder what’s on the menu. I assume the attire we’re supposed to wear will be similar to what Philippe is wearing. I just find it most interesting.” He explained.
“And peculiar:” Greg added. “Did anyone other than me notice how cold she turned when she greeted me?”
“Yes, but you are a wolf Greg. These people are cats; it’s not unusual for felines to be cold towards unfamiliar canines.” I said.
“Shea’s people have never treated me like that and neither did you.”
“I might have if we’d met, say on a hunt, and if you didn’t already know Pumar. As for Shea’s people they knew you were a member of the local werewolf pack and that may well have made the difference.” I said but I wasn’t sure that my words weren’t lost on the newest member of my family.
Greg found a small chamber in the back of our room that offered running water and I mean literally running, continuously. A large tapestry covered the opening to the room and a long stairway led down into a room larger than most hotel offer. In the center on the opposite wall a large crystal clear pool swirled with currents coming from an unseen source. The water exited the pool equally mysteriously. In a large stone on a raised platform to the left had a flow of cold water gurgled out of the wall and down a hole in the middle of the basin it flowed into. On the right side a hole in the floor opened over a trough full of swift flowing water: Indoor plumbing at its best for an ancient society. Candles burned in niches’ in the walls at regular intervals spaced about three feet apart casting a gentle glow about the gray limestone. “I bet that water’s cold as shit.” Greg said a bit amused by the ancient’s efforts at indoor plumbing.
“It’s an ingenious design Greg: far more advanced than anything Europe had at the same period of history. It is even advanced by what my people had in India.” Rakish said. “We should take advantage of this as quickly as possible. I have no doubt our new friends will be coming to collect us soon.” He said while swiping his hand under the running water in the ‘sink’ for lack of a better word. A shiver ran through my lunar-father betraying just how cold this water is. “Want to go first?” He asked Greg smiling.
“Na, you can have the honors Rak, I’ll wait until later.” Greg slipped out of the chamber shivering. “It’s too damned cold in here.” I laughed but said nothing.
It took us all about an hour to get cleaned up and dressed in the clothes provided for us. The dressing part took less time than anything else. Just as Eva said our clothes lay on the beds waiting for us. “There’s no way I’m going in public wearing this.” Rakish complained. He held up one of the loincloths of soft tan buckskin. Each loincloth lay with a necklace of gold with green and blue feathers fanning out like King Tut’s necklace that mesmerized so many people since its discovery in the 1920’s. Nothing else went with these two articles.
“Awe come on Rak, you’ll look positively delicious in that.” Greg teased.
“That’s what I’m afraid of pup.” Rakish took to calling Greg pup every time the wolf called him Rak. This produced a chuckle from Greg.
When we emerged into the corridor outside our rooms pulling a reluctant Rakish behind us a crowd of people met us. Not only were all of our group there, but about thirty or so of Eva’s people clapped loudly as we pulled Rakish into the hall. Everyone dressed the same as we, which made us feel a bit better about our attire. Personally I’d rather have been nude then to wear these clothes, but we fit in. The only one of our group who dressed differently was Shea. Her dress was similar to Eva’s except it was made of tan buckskin and the feather skull cap on her head glistened green and blue in the torchlight. She looked breathtaking and Toby couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“You all look wonderful.” Eva said as she walked through the throng in the narrow hall. “If we are all ready now…” She looked at Rakish with a slight smile gracing her lips “…the ceremonial chamber is prepared and waiting our arrival.” She turned without waiting for a reply and strode off with everyone following as best as possible stringing out in a long line down the stone passageway. We turned left and right, left again, left again, right? I’m not sure how many times we turned and I figured I’d never find my way back to our room without the ability to smell the path. Finally we emerged into a larger passageway which felt more like an antechamber than a hall. At the far side a large set of double doors stood closed and barred. The wood carved decoratively with images of werejaguars fighting another group of shapeshifters I didn’t recognize. I decided the style could be blamed for my lack of recognition. I’ve never understood the Mayan stylized artwork. The feathered serpent God Kukulcan undulated around the edge of the fight scenes overseeing the victory of his people. The door looked familiar but I couldn’t place it. “I’d like to introduce you all to two more members of our family here.” Eva said with a warm smile gracing her face. “Stephano and Loretta.” Two jaguars lifted the large wooden plank barring the double door which swung open and I froze mid breath. Oh, my god no! I shouted mentally to Rakish and Pumar. They both looked as stricken as me. The vampires from my dreams, the woman being the one who’d possessed me last night, emerged from the darkened chamber beyond.
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This concludes Chapter Twelve. Please feel free to write to me to share what you think about this story so far. I'm not sure how long I'll make it, but I will continue as people express interest in the story. Again constructive criticism, comments or complements are welcome, but if you just want to flame the story, then I respectfully ask you to keep your opinions to yourself. I may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.