Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 12

Grumbling, Dirk agreed. He got out without question when she stopped again.
"There's a small cabin half a mile up that track," she pointed to the right. "Wait for me there."
"What if it's occupied."
"It won't be. It's mine. Here's the key."
"You'll be okay with this guy, El? He sounds whack."
"I'll be fine. He's my nephew."
"The Hunter?" His voice rose more than he'd intended.
"The very same."
Dirk couldn't conceal a shiver. Rafaela had a reputation for being persistent and ruthless. Her nephew, Seth, added sadistic and psychotic to the family tree.
"Damn good thing he'll never reproduce," Dirk muttered as he shouldered a backpack and struck out in the woods.
Knowing he was close to a Hunter's lair, he made his way slowly, looking for traps. If Seth was even half as paranoid as Rafaela, he'd have his perimeter well protected. That was what made the attack on Rafaela's cabin seem so unlikely. Usually, she surrounded herself with traps and gadgets to warn her of a vampire presence.
I distracted her. It's my fault. She could have been killed.
He avoided several traps and pitfalls as he walked toward her cabin. It was set in a clearing and surrounded by oak, ash and hawthorn trees. His skin crawling, Dirk proceeded. He could feel the protective wards in place. Had he not been a guest of Rafaela's, he'd have been trapped by them. Even with her permission, the wards and talismans around her house made him highly uncomfortable. He could only imagine the pain he'd feel if he tried to attack her here.
The cabin was much smaller than the one they'd left in flames. The outer walls were stone and covered in ivy. The windows and lintels were Rowan, the door frame as well. Holly bushes surrounded the house.
Again, he wondered why the other cabin was so vulnerable. He'd have to ask her about that – later. He wanted to get inside and quit feeling like he had a giant target on his back. The keys jangled as he put one in the lock. He felt a tingle course through his fingers and knew she had some sort of ward to prevent the locks from being picked.
Inside, the cabin was dark and chilly. Dirk flipped the light switch and the lights came on. He locked and bolted the door behind him and walked to the fireplace. Wood was neatly stacked on the hearth. Again, he found oak, ash and hawthorn. Considered the druid's holy trinity, the woods had protective properties against evil. Wreaths of rowan, another protective wood, were over every door and window, as well as the fireplace. Holly berries were woven into the wreath's design.
Although everything was designed to repel evil, Dirk felt strangely at home. It was as if Rafaela's cabin had accepted him and knew he would do her no harm. He wasn't sure how that could possibly be, but he decidedly felt some sort of presence in the room with him.
"I'm a friend of Rafaela's," he said, feeling somewhat foolish. "She sent me here to wait for her while she talks to Seth." He cleared his throat and scratched his ear.
Strangely, he felt less on edge afterward. He lit a fire and set about fixing Rafaela something to eat.

Rafaela drove up to her nephew's cabin, stopping 50 yards from the door. She sat in the car, knowing he was examining her with all manner of high tech equipment. He was truly a child of the computer age. He'd adapted well over time and embraced technology that still confused her. The younger Hunters were even more skilled than he.
Satisfied she had given him time to determine her identity, she checked her weapons and got out of the car. Hunter or not, she might have a problem with Seth. He was brilliant, angry and radically paranoid. He knew of her relationship with Dirk and found it hard to forgive her for what he considered a betrayal.
Seth opened the door, sawed off shotgun leveled at her belly. He glanced around, checking their surroundings before letting her in. He slammed and locked the door behind her, throwing to seven different dead bolts. His clothing was 90s grunge—olive drab pants, a wife beater shirt and a red and green plaid flannel shirt around his waist. His hair was dark brown like hers, but close cropped. His dark eyes held a kind of wild illumination that only the most rabid of vampires had. Their furtive movement was disconcerting.
"He's here somewhere—at your cabin?"
"I felt a disturbance in the ether. I suspected."
"We have a problem."
"We as in you and me, or We meaning you and him?"
"Both." She explained to him about killing the vampire lord's children.
"You're in a pickle," he agreed.
Rafaela smirked, chuckling. "That's one way to put it."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

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