Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries – Chapter 4
The bowels of the Mont Delia were almost unbearable. On the hull floor the decaying flesh of past victims sent up an ungodly odor. Unmanned cannons lined the sides, with several crates and treasure chests scattered at each end of the ship. The moonlight seeped through the cannon portholes as Terra raised the Vanquisher once again.
Her shadow flickered around the room as she slowly made her way past the rotting corpses. Their cold gray eyes stared up into nothingness, their faces frozen with their dying expressions.
Then from the shadows, like a hiss from a slithering serpent, Count Dragos’ voice cut through the darkness.
“You should not have come, Vixen.”
His voice was more than a hiss, she thought, more than just the crude tongue of a vampire. It was smooth, elegant, almost intoxicating.
For a moment, Terra felt her mind begin to drift as she lost focus on what she was doing. She felt calm, the tense feeling leaving her body. What was happening? What was he doing? Quickly Terra snapped out of it as if splashed in the face with cold water. She immediately swung the Vanquisher in the direction of the voice.
“Well, give me the skull and I’ll be on my way,” she replied, her eyes still scouring the room.
For a moment, there was silence, nothing but the sound of the storm and the crashing waves above. The fighting had stopped, and she had assumed her Sea Ghouls by now were sitting down to a nice dinner of the undead.
Then he spoke again. “I’m sorry, Nina, but I cannot do that.”
Terra felt her heart skip a beat and the blood drain from her face. That name… How did he know? There was only one person in Terra’s life who had ever called her by her middle name, and that was her father.
“What… what did you say?” she stammered.
Then again from the shadows the smooth voice echoed the name, this time more slowly and more precise. “Nina.”
Her mind was racing now. How did he know her father? Did he find him? Had he tracked him down looking for the skulls?
Dragos spoke again as if reading her thoughts.
“Yesss,” he said. “Now you see what this has cost you, don’t you?”
No, please, please not that, she thought. He was all she had left. He had raised Terra almost singlehandedly since the age of five following her mother’s death.
It was in that moment Terra remembered something her father once told her. In one of his many tales of his adventures, he had mentioned a rare breed of vampires that possessed remarkable abilities. They were unlike most of the bloodthirsty hunters Terra had encountered over the years. These vampires her father spoke of had psychic abilities with which they could probe their victims’ minds. Although rare–and perhaps more folklore than anything–the idea was not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.
Psychic vampires dig deep into the mind, soul, and emotions of their victims, as well as their mental processes, he said. Processes that take place within the individual are not visible or measurable in the physical world.
Is this what Dragos was doing? Was he looking into her mind, digging deep to find out what haunts her, what she values, what she holds sacred? Was he trying to kill her from within?
Then her answer came in a surge of relentless pain, sending Terra to her knees as waves of uncontrollable pressure came crashing into her mind.
It was at that moment Dragos emerged from the shadows. His movements were slow, methodical, and agonizingly graceful. The vampire’s shadow stretched across the wooden hull, creeping toward Terra.
**I will post one Chapter each week, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can the complete book at Amazon for FREE.
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