Frowning, Amy twisted her head in the vampires’ direction. Turning back to Mateo, she said, “I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them. The earliest Bloodmaidens, the ones I know the best, fought the Elder and it was near thing. It might be easier right now because the sun’s dawning, but not much. The Elder mated with humans. They were both undead and alive at once and they knew how to use magic.”
Looking at Mateo, she said, “What do you think?”
Not hesitating, Mateo said, “Kill them.”
Giving me a look, he continued, “I can see their true nature through the mask. They may look human, but undeath permeates every part of them.”
Amy’s mouth twisted, “What do you see when you look at me? From what they said, we’re practically the same.”
Flashing a grin, Mateo said, “The mask approves of you. It sees darkness and light mixed, but mixed in a way it finds useful.”
Saying nothing for the moment, Amy muttered, “Hmmn. That’s not what I expected. Look, if we’re going to fight these guys, expect soul-sucking magic. And that dagger? You know how my spear ignores armor. The dagger does too and when it hits, well, there’s soul-sucking magic again.”
“So, basically it’s exactly like your spear,” I said.
“Not quite, but close,” Amy took a breath. “Alright, the huddle’s over, but know that if something more comes up about the Elder, I might have to investigate because if my guardian gets wind of it who knows what’ll happen.”
Vincent pulled some nuts out of a pouch on his belt and started chewing them. “Sure, no idea who that guy is, but that sounds bad.”
Amy gave him a look but turned around to face the vampires. We all walked next to her. It might seem that we had no plan, but after years of Stapledon, we knew how our power sets worked together. Vincent hadn’t attended while we were all there, but he seemed flexible.
Mateo spoke first, “I know that you want to talk to Bloodmaiden, but I’ve got some questions that I’d like answered. I’m part of a team that protects Detroit and you just tried to take over organized crime in this city and brought in vampires from all over to help. You can say it’s because you protect vampires, but I protect people and people have been dying here. What’s the point? What are you getting out of this?”
Barrington smirked, “Isn’t it obvious? We need food and this city offers us places where we can hunt without interference. I know you must feel threatened by this, but don’t be. We’re higher on the food chain. It’s natural for us to take over. Think about yourselves and how you get your food. You herd cattle and then bring them to slaughter. If you think about it, we’re kinder than you. You control your meat for their entire lives. We let you indulge your dreams before we feed off of you, and we don’t always kill you. Some of our kind even invite you to join us. Can you say the same?”
So, that didn’t take long. I’d had Barrington pegged as deluded, but maybe not so bad. After one question from Mateo, he’d started talking about humans as food.
Except for a twitch of the lip, Mateo didn’t move, giving Barrington a long look. Finally, he said, “You really believe that?”
One of the other vampires stepped forward. The man had a square jaw and short curly hair. He was a little short, maybe as short as five and a half feet. He was muscular, though, wearing plate armor that made me think of Roman Centurions. It had metal abs and a skirt.
The man shouted, “That’s my king, show him respect!”
Vincent stood a little shorter than the guy, cocking his head and looking up as he asked, “And who are you?”
“I’m Lhust, his most trusted warrior, rodent.” The man glowered down at him.
Vincent let out a sigh, “Are you saying your actual name is the word lust, but with a completely unnecessary ‘h’ added in? Because I’m hearing an h.”
Lhust made a growling noise.
Barrington put a hand on his shoulder, “Relax, we’re all friends here.”
“No,” Mateo said, “we’re not friends. You’re here to feed on people and I’m telling you that you can’t do that here. If you tell me you’ll leave and that you won’t try this again, we’ll let you go, but you have to mean it. I’ll know if you don’t mean it.”
Even with dawn’s red and orange light coming in the windows, the rapier in his hand glowed bright enough for the glow to be visible.
Another vampire, this one tall and thin with a thin face, said, “He will know. I’ve fought the Masks before.”
This one’s plate mail was white and gold. He held a golden metal staff.
Amy looked him over, “And your name?”
“He’s called the Loremaster,” Mateo said. “I’ve never seen him before, but he’s fought other Masks.”
Vincent chuckled, “That’s without an h, right? I wouldn’t want to call him the Lhoremaster because that would be disrespectful.”