The name Lucien Silvano flickered across the card in bold, flashy colors. My nephew, Eros, gave it to me after the ritual when I was heartbroken and vulnerable. His ability to feel the heart ties to his family relayed the depth of my agony, and he knew exactly what I needed. According to him, Lucien would organize a “hunt of all hunts” anytime I wanted. I snickered at his description, but passed up on the offer at the time. Instead, I spent the next couple of days licking my wounds with flasks of Dionysus’ special brew and flying around on Sayeh, my dragon, my everything.
A few weeks passed since that night, and I hadn’t given much thought to Lucien Silvano. That was until Eros sent me a message that caught my attention.
“Interested in hunting a few rogue vampires and werewolves? And maybe a few other supernaturals? If the answer, which I am sure is a yes, then call Lucien now, Missy!”
Eros’ message not only caught my attention, but it piqued my interest. It had been a while since I had the opportunity for a worthy fight. The prospect of fighting vampires and werewolves tickled my fantasy. I looked at the calendar to see if I could take some time away from the OA. I rolled my eyes when I realized it was the Roman holiday dedicated to candies, flowers, and hearts. Valentine’s Day, the mortals called it.
After pondering for a while, I decided that I deserved some downtime. I picked up my cell phone and texted Eros, “Let Lucien know I am on my way to Romania.”
I felt the salty water breeze through my face as Sayeh dipped lightly to touch the ocean with her wings. We reached the coastal areas of Romania and continued to fly inland. The sun was slowly rising over the horizon, its radiance bathing me in warmth. I enjoyed the familiar scent of minty grass and damp earth as we approached the Cozia Forests. The sun rays lightened the path for Sayeh through the forest that was decorated with dry fallen leaves, outgrown roots, and wildflowers.
Sayeh dipped slightly to the right as she flew in through the thickly wooded area straight for Lucien’s castle. The castle walls were the most reliable thing we saw for miles around. It was built of stones of varying sizes and shapes. From a distance, it seemed uniform grey, but from up close, it was a mosaic of humble rocks. The castle was the crown of the landscape. Sayeh made her landing in the courtyard.
Lucien was waiting for me with a big grin on his pale white face. The sunlight mirrored his brilliant violet eyes. His silky red hair, neatly combed to a side, bounced as he walked. He had the kind of face that stopped one in their tracks and made them take notice. He reached me in a microsecond and held out his hand as I descended from Sayeh.
Ah! The vampire has superspeed and demeanors to complement his face!
“Welcome, Lady Artemis, to my humble abode,” he said. “I am so glad to be hosting you, the family of my dear friend, Eros.”
“Thank you for having me at short notice. And it’s Artemis,” I replied, shaking his hand. He had a robust cold grip, like that of stones. He smiled, a charismatic one, it was almost impossible to resist his charms.
I see why mortals have difficulty resisting vampires. They are built to attract their prey towards them.
As though reading my thoughts, Lucien said, “I do not hunt mortals. A millennium was enough for me to gain the strength needed to resist mortal blood and survive off the creatures of the woods.” I nodded my response, and he continued talking. “However, some of the vampires from the newer generations seem to think they are invincible, especially with the gifts they have gained over the years. They threaten the peace and tranquility of this town. They’ve already claimed hundreds of mortals in the last few months, going so far as to convert a few mortals into vampires and some into werewolves.”
I stopped walking and turned to look at Lucien. “Werewolves? I thought they were your enemies. Why would these vampires create werewolves?”
He smiled, shrugged, and opened the main door to his castle’s foyer. “Well…the rogue vampires have a pact with some of the werewolves to spare each other; they instead hunt the mortals together. The mortal blood satiates the vampires, and mortal flesh is gold for the werewolves to tear into.” He led the way into a smaller room that was a storage unit for weapons. I noticed the variety of stakes and weaponry arranged in the room.
I pulled out several of my arrows from my quiver and laid it on the table. Next, I took my silver blade from its sheath and a wooden hawthorn stake. Finally, I took the vials of wolfsbane, put them on the table and looked at Lucien. He stood there, smiling. “The Lady comes prepared! But I beseech you not to underestimate these rogue creatures. They’re fast, vicious, and they’re gifted with various abilities. Add to that a few wendigos and chupacabras on the loose, it isn’t going to be one of the easy fights you’re used to, huntress.” I looked at Lucien and slowly walked up to him. “I NEVER underestimate my opponent!” I said.
“Artemis, if I may ask, why are you doing this? I mean there’s got to be a reason you’re here hunting on Valentine’s Day instead of…”
“Instead of flowers and candies?” I asked, laughing. “Isn’t Valentines Day about doing what you love with the ones you love?” He nodded in response. “I am here with Sayeh doing what I love and what I do best!” He smiled. “What say? Ready to discuss strategy?” For the next couple of hours, we discussed our plan of attack.
As the last of the sun rays kissed the forests goodbye and the greens melted under the grey of moonlight, we heard the werewolves howl. They were ready and out to hunt. We reached the woods and waited. With the stake and my silver blade tucked into my belt, I held my silver bow in hand as I crouched beneath a large tree. I could barely make out the silhouette of Lucien on the opposite side, holding his long, wide, jagged silver blade with a grip wrapped in gilded brown wolf leather. The wolf leather added an almost poetic touch to his weapon of choice.
The night was eerily quiet except for the occasional sound of twigs cracking under our feet. I saw hoof and paw marks that I deduced were from the wendigo. I followed the marks deep into the woods. The deeper I went, the darker my surroundings became. I heard a slight hissing sound coming from my right, followed by a strong smell of rotten eggs mixed with rancid old cheese. I turned quietly towards the source of the hissing voice and knocked an arrow. Pulling the strings back, I was ready to strike when I heard a growl coming from my other side. I turned as soon as I could, but was not fast enough, as the monster jumped at me and had me pinned under its massive paws.
The wendigo was scrawny to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled firmly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion was an ash gray of death, and its eyes were pushed back deep into their sockets. With tattered and bloody lips, it lowered itself to my neck to take a sniff. The smell emanating from this monster was gut-wrenchingly revolting. It sniffed and howled like an addict who had just received his latest fix. The distraction was enough for me to pull my silver blade from the sheath on my legs and stab the wendigo into its heart. The wendigo’s howl alerted Lucien to our location. In one swift motion, his blade sliced the wendigo’s head off its body.
With the wendigo out of the way, we decided to track the vampires and werewolves next. I sat down on one knee and put my hand down on the ground. I signaled to Lucien to go east; I went west. They were dividing and conquering, and so were we. I heard the cracking of twigs and shot an arrow in the direction of the noise.
I felt someone whizz by me, too fast for me to react. Once. Twice. Thrice. I stomped my foot, upset with myself over my delayed reactions. They were testing my patience, trying to get me agitated.
The next time the vampire rushed by me, I reacted just in time to materialize my spear to block his path. Without warning, the vampire jumped up onto his feet and, in a split second, positioned himself behind me with one hand on my waist and the other on my neck. With skin as pale as freshly poured milk and fangs protruding over his thin red lips, he stood inhaling my scent.
“Do you have any idea how intoxicating your scent is, Goddess?” he asked through clenched teeth. He laughed, held me closer, tighter, and sniffed again, this time grazing his fangs over my neck.
I turned to face him and smiled seductively. I took his face in my hands and kissed him. He kissed me back fervently until he started choking. He held onto his throat with a shocked expression on his face and stumbled a few steps back.
“Wolfsbane. And Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said, before sinking the hawthorn stake into his heart. His body turned into a mass of stones before he fell over in a ball of dust. I wiped my mouth, picked up my bow, and ran towards the cliff.
I was surrounded by a pack of werewolves and vampires near the cliff. I knocked an arrow dipped in wolfsbane and made a quick shot at the werewolf that was nearest to me. My bolt landed on its forehead between its eyes, and it howled and keeled. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take on the remaining werewolves and vampires at the same time, so I ran towards the cliff, called out to Sayeh, and jumped over the cliff. Just as I jumped, I twisted and turned my body midair and shot three arrows at the same time. They each hit a werewolf and a vampire. Sayeh flew in and caught me before I hit the ground. She hopped up onto the cliff with me on her back. There were a couple of vampires and a new pack of werewolves remaining on the cliff.
“Sayeh, καίω!” I commanded. I heard her familiar growl before I felt the heat of her flames vaporize everything that stood on that cliff. I listened to their yelp before they turned into a heap of ash within minutes.
I found Lucien on my way back to the castle. He had successfully taken down the remaining wendigo and chupacabras that haunted the mortals.
“Thank you, my Lady! This town is much safer with these rogue creatures gone,” he said, taking my hand and kissing it.
“I should be the one thanking you. This was one hell of a Valentine’s Day for me!” I said, laughing.
“In that case, allow me to make your Valentine’s Day more special. Let me show you a good time in Romania, if you will please,” he asked, holding his hand out.
“I’d love that!” I said, taking his hand.