Danger lurks behind every corner.
At a quarter to seven the mausoleum's thirty torches are lit by a grounds keeper hired by Fulgor. After he leaves Paige goes to the back of the mausoleum. On the bottom of the building there is a grate covered by flimsy wire mesh. Paige pulls the mesh wiring and rips it out before squeezing her body into the bowels of the mausoleum. Immediately she smells a strange mixture of lavender, dirt and death. It is eerily quiet so Paige holds her stake at the ready. She can see the walls are wet with something but she doesn't know what. Something tells her it is not water.
She walks further into the dark underground, knowing enough not to touch anything. After four miles she reaches a junction. The right side is illuminated while the left is dark. She makes a left. So far everything appears safe.
The first lesson every hunter learns is that nothing is as it seems. Usually there are a few surprises in store. Paige knows firsthand what evil is capable of. Evil never follows the news so neither will Paige. Except for the rules Vala, a senior hunter, set before her.
Ten miles underground she reaches a room. It is the only warm place because of the machine in the middle of the room. Dr. Rogers built a machine capable of purifying up to a thousand liters of blood. It reaches fifteen inches from the ceiling. There are several tubes that filter out the nutrients from the blood, leaving behind corruptible blood. Doing this ensures that the person can be manipulated and controlled through their blood. There is a strong smell of blood and Paige has a feeling of dread.
Paige releases a breath. “This sucks.”
Parallel to this room is the main gathering. Paige can hear noises associated with demons, and smell the mix of blood and death related to vamps. There is a small tunnel leading to the room. Paige pulls out a dagger and places it in a sheath at her back. Her stake is gripped in her hand. Silently she moves into the tunnel and stops several feet from the light. From this distance she can look in without anything looking out.
We're in trouble, she thinks.
There are over a hundred creatures. Demons of every size and height fill up most of the room. The vampires are all powerfully built. There is hardly any room left over. Paige has never seen so many vile creatures. They all stand around aimlessly.
As Paige is about to retreat she hears a noise behind her. She whirls around with her stake poised to strike. A split second before she can attack Ambrose grabs her wrist and spins her around. The stake falls to the ground as Paige sails into the wall across the way. She hits her wrist as she lands, causing it to snap. She manages to stand but sways on her feet.
“I haven't seen you before,” he says veraciously.
She cradles her wrist at her side. “I don't give a shit!” Paige spits back.
Ambrose smiles in mild amusement. “She only sent one of you? I'm insulted.” He picks up the stake and snaps it in two useless pieces. He throws them at her feet.
Danica comes into the tunnel to see the commotion from behind Paige. Paige is halfway in and out of the purification room and Ambrose is blocking the only exit. Danica notices the knife behind her back. Thankfully she can't see what else Paige has brought with her.
Ambrose notices Danica watching. “Stay there until I need you,” he commands.
“There is a knife in her pocket. She may have other weapons. Do you want me to check her for you?” Danica asks. Without waiting for an answer she goes for Paige's arms. Paige manages to sidestep and kick her into Ambrose's arms. Unfortunately not there is nowhere for Paige to go. She has no desire to kill herself, but realizes it might be the only way out.
So far none of the vampires or demons have come to attack. From what Vala told her, she can deduce that Ambrose has to give the order. Paige does the only thing she can. She removes the cross from inside her hip pocket. Suddenly a bright light flows from the cross. Both Danica and Ambrose shield their eyes. Paige remains unaffected. While they are incapacitated she maneuvers around them. She keeps the cross focused on them. Once she is safely past she starts to run toward the exit.
With the light retreating Ambrose and Danica blink their eyes to rid themselves of the effects of the glare. Ambrose is the first to get his sight back. “Nothing leaves here! I'm gonna handle that hunter bitch!” he hurries after Paige.
Danica heads back inside as her vision returns.
Ambrose tracks Paige through her scent. He smiles when he thinks about what he'll do her when he catches up to her. He maneuvers through the underground tunnels with the ferocity of a bloodhound.
Paige runs into the wrong junction and ends up in a fresh torture chamber. The chamber walls are covered in human blood. It smells of death. Chains hang on the walls and spikes hang down from the ceiling. Paige looks up to see a young woman stuck to the spikes. The girl used to be pretty, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Now all that's left is a hollow shell. Her body has been drained of blood. From the position of the body, it appears that she was thrust to the stakes alive, while her blood was draining. Her eyes have gone translucent, and her hair is falling out. Unfortunately the body is still fresh, which means she was killed recently, maybe a week ago. A rune can be seen on her shoulder.
Paige gives a piercing scream and backs up.
# # # # #
She backs into Ambrose and he immediately disarms her by breaking her already bruised arm, making her release the cross. It clatters to the floor and settles at his feet. This time he is able to avoid the glare and steps on it, causing it to break. He holds her up by that hand and searches her pockets. Paige almost passes out from the pain. He finds everything and throws it on the floor. Paige cringes as he pounds her into the wall and chains her up by her wrists. Her arms are extended at her sides. The chains allow her to put weight on her feet. The broken wrist hangs limp, while the left one is clenched into a fist.
Ambrose picks up the stake and twists it between his fingers. “Isn't it amazing? This small piece of wood is capable of killing something as ancient as I am,” he muses. “Imagine what it could do to you.”
Paige looks toward the ceiling. “I'm sorry Vala.”
“Yes Vala, I'm sorry too,” he says sarcastically.
Paige yells out as Ambrose stabs her in the shoulder with the stake. Her eyes roll back in her head. He yanks it out causing her to awaken. Blood trickles down her arm. He runs his index finger over the blood. Paige groans. He licks the finger and shrugs. “Not as sweet. I'm disappointed.”
Tears spring to Paige's eyes.
Ambrose forces Paige to look in his eyes. “You still have several places I could hurt you that won't even bleed. I will be more than satisfied to go ahead and do this. Nothing would make me happier. Especially when you enter into my home and spy on me!” Paige flinches. His eyes are crimson with anger. Then he smiles. “I think I'll send my pet a message. If she's so desperate to know what I have up my sleeve... how about I show her? I'll give her a front row seat,” his face moves within inches of hers, “to your funeral.”