Cassaga thought it was peculiar. Rugged was a beast of the shadows. He generally hid.
He would sometimes prey on the girls at the establishment Gorgeous Nightmare in a
playful fashion, but he would always disappear before anyone in the counsel could
interrogate him or bring him into Evan.
“It wasn’t a crime for living,” he once told her.
She hated fights with him. He always made sure to play up the sexual tension and the
innuendo and while there was no doubt that he was attractive, he was a vampire! A
lecherous old creep.
He liked to toy with her in front of her husband when they had their excursions and she
could never seem to work up enough nerve to capture him. But today would be different
if she found him.
It shouldn’t be hard.
He was leaving quite a blood trail today. He must have been ravenous. He had already
drained four victims. She couldn’t imagine how any beast could get so hungry. She knew
every creature had to eat, but this seemed excessive.
Rugged wasn’t known for having much of a conscience. He watched the girl from the
shadows. She could sense him, but she couldn’t see him. He could hear the speed of her
heart thumping loudly in her chest. Such a beautiful drum.
Poor pretty little bird thought she had a chance of getting away. He had to hand it to
them, no matter how pathetic they may seem, humans had a tenacious spirit. They always
had the desire to live and sometimes they could even surprise him with a strength they
didn’t seem to possess. Their fear, their anger seemed to make them stronger than their
usual weakness in every day life. He had to admit that it made the thrill of the hunt a little
more exciting than it otherwise would be.
“Damned beast, where did it go?” she demanded to thin air. “Dear God—.”
Rugged snorted. “I’ve never believed in Him, but if He does exist then He’s left this
alleyway quite some time ago,” he whispered in the girl’s ear, suddenly appearing from
nowhere. “Ever since I laid eyes on you, you didn’t have a prayer.”
“RUGGED!” snarled a voice. He turned to see a gold haired woman with gold eyes
standing before him with guns drawn. The daughter of the great gun maker. Cassaga. He
had tangoed with her before, but he was not in any mood to do any dancing that night. He
was hungry, and like any creature when he was hungry he would need nourishment.
“Sorry, Cassaga, as much as I love taking bets on who gets more dances with you—me or
your husband, I really don’t have time to tango tonight, love.”
“I am not your anything let alone love, and don’t flatter yourself. You’re not that great a
dancer,” she scoffed, eyes flashing.
“No need to be rude,” he sneered, smirking. He used magic to form a wall that Cassaga
could not pass. “But I don’t have time for you tonight so you may as well go back to your
husband. Don’t worry, I’m sure the head of the counsel will love to hear how you let me
get away again. Weren’t you axed for a promotion last time this happened? Can’t wait to
see what he does to you this time.”
“What gave it away, the fangs?” Rugged snickered. He then turned his back to Cassaga.
The girl was getting away, but he knew just what direction she had just went. Her fear
was rancid and her heart was beating so quickly it was a wonder she hadn’t collapsed yet.
He walked into a building and walked to the top, and he saw the woman’s hair bobbing in
the near black pitch, the red dancing in the pale gold of lamp light. He loved how his
vision made all the vibrant hues more visible to him, all those things that the humans
couldn’t see. Pitiful insects. So easily smashed and crushed like insects beneath his boots.
He watched as the girl turned to see where he was.
Smirking, he gave her a few seconds to think she had outfoxed him before dropping
behind her as she continued looking behind. “Boo,” he breathed in her ear. “Isn’t that how
Orpheus lost Eurydice, by looking behind? Silly humans, you never really learn your
lessons, do you?”
The girl slashed at him with her nails before running away.
“Fiery, eh?” he laughed. “I do like them when they fight back.” He felt the blood rush
down his cheeks. Few had actually scratched him that hard. He loved the feeling. He
knew the wounds would soon heal themselves so he didn’t bother trying to exert energy
on that now.
“Leave me alone.”
“Sorry, love, I’m hungry. I can’t do that. You could make this easier on yourself, just
succumb. I am stronger than you could ever hope to be, you know that, right?” he
“Even still I will never give in,” she snarled, promptly tripping and falling on her rear.
Still, the woman glared at him with such intensity if looks could kill then Rugged would
have instantly keeled over.
Rugged raised his eyebrows. “You, love, are as stubborn as they come. I do love the fire
in your eyes. It’s a pity that they’ll no longer be that lovely shade of blue October once
I’ve killed you. They’ll probably fade to something pale and cloudy.”
She pulled out a gun with shaking hands.
“Do you even know how to use that?”
She shot him hard in the shoulder, causing Rugged to take a few steps backward.
“That hurt,” he pouted. “Why should you hurt me?”
“Are you serious?” she asked. “You’re threatening to kill me and I shouldn’t hurt you?
What special kind of psychopath are you?”
“The type that supersedes even your mother’s imagination,” he winked.
Rugged gave her a twisted smile. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” He then appeared
beside her. “Such a pity. You really are a pretty little bird.” He grabbed her by her
shoulders, pulling her into a standing position before biting deep into her throat.
She screamed and clawed at him, but he barely felt or heard anything she did. Her blood
was the only lullaby he could hear. It tasted so sweet his eyes flickered open and closed
in ecstasy. Once she was dead he threw her dead body to the ground. “Just as I
suspected,” he remarked, savoring the last drop of blood that fell from his fangs. “They’re
cloudy and pale.” He frowned, “And I’m still hungry.”
He eyed a man stepping out of his shop. He didn’t seem to have heard the chaos of the
girl’s death as he looked perfectly serene.
“Hello,” Rugged smirked. “Today seems as good a day as any to die, doesn’t it?”
“Who are you?” the man stammered.
Rugged smirked viciously. “Your worst nightmare.” He snorted as the man slashed at
him with a blade. “I forgot that men can put up such horrid fights. They claw more
tenaciously for life than women but with far less passion.” He sighed, grabbing the man
roughly by his shoulders. “But I don’t have time to chase you. I’m hungry.”
He turned to see Veronique standing there, her mismatched eyes flashing with fury. She
was the only woman with whom he had left alive that knew his true name. Yet she didn’t
use it. “I knew my secret was safe with you, beautiful,” he cooed. “But I’m a little busy
right now, perhaps, we could catch up later.”
“Put him down.”
“Not a chance, I’m hungry.”
He saw as she pulled out a stake in one hand and a blade in another.
“Veronique, I thought we were friends, love.”
“I am not friends with monsters.”
“Oh, really?” Rugged challenged.
“Of course not,” Veronique retorted.
“That’s not what you said when we shared that bed together,” he winked. The rage on her
face amused him. “Oh, that look of fury. I wish I could indulge it more, but I have no
time. Do tell your brother if he doesn’t stop sniffing around he will meet the same fate as
his mother. I do hope for his sake that he values his life more than she did. Looks like I’ll
have to take out some fast food.” He bit deeply and savagely into the man’s shoulder,
disappearing in a cloud of magic, but not before spilling the man’s blood upon the
Veronique hissed as Rugged disappeared. She hated vampires. They were really the worst
of the monsters. They always seemed to combine food and pleasure together and they
seemed to find themselves astonishingly witty.
She cursed out loud.
“What now, Lady Veronique?”
“We tell Evan that Rugged is trying to send him a bloody message.”
“Any need for the vulgarity, lady?”
“I was being punny,” Veronique scoffed, without turning. She glanced at the blood
spilled on the ground. “Let the games begin. Evan may be the one to kill the beast, but he
didn’t say I couldn’t maim him. Should he cross my path again, he’ll be lucky if he can
even kill again.”
Cassaga blinked. “You almost seem more monstrous than he does.”
“Trust me,” the elf smirked darkly. “Not all monsters have fangs. Sometimes the
monsters are just you and I.”