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“Well?” She crossed her arms. “Tell me. ”

“Very well. His real name is unknown, but he is called The Summoner. Legend says he is very ancient. A Chaldean necromancer of Sumeria. The story I was told was that he could manipulate the dead and have them do his bidding. He grew more and more powerful and terrified the king, who ordered his death. The king sent an armed regiment to kill The Summoner, but an army of the dead defeated them. And as each of the king's soldiers fell, they rose to defend The Summoner as a dead warrior. The Summoner seemed to have the kingdom in the palm of his hand when a witch cursed him to die. He could not revoke the curse and he began to suffer a great illness. But he had heard of the living dead, those who drink blood to survive and wander the night. ”

“This sounds like a bad horror movie,” Amaliya interjected.

“Maybe,” he conceded, and thought Bruce Campbell would be great in it. “But it may be the truth. Anyway, as I was saying, he had heard of vampires. He summoned one with a potent spell. Of course, the legend says it was one of the first vampires in creation, but it doesn't matter who it was. The terribleness of it was that The Summoner managed to capture a vampire and torture it. At last, the vampire revealed how The Summoner could become a vampire. ”

“He should have kept his damn mouth shut. ”

“Her mouth shut. It was a woman. A beautiful, ancient blood drinking goddess, so the story goes. He made her drink his blood, then sliced her throat and drank hers. And then he died. And when he died, all his dead companions died once more. The vampire screamed for three days and nights and all who dared to approach his haven could hear her. But no one would go in and rescue her. The Summoner rose on the third night, but he had forgotten the restrictions of his new existence. ”

“He can't go out in sunlight. ?

??

“Exactly. It took awhile for the King and his advisors to figure it out. But they began to notice that everyday the dead army vanished from their posts. They finally were brave enough to invade during the day. The Summoner was nearly burned to death by the invaders and his mortal servants barely managed to escape with him. No one knows what happened to his prisoner. I suppose she was killed. ”

“Poor thing. Being stuck with that sadistic sonnobitch her last nights on earth,” Amaliya decided.

“I agree. But the legend says that The Summoner was angered by his limitations. Daylight effectively destroyed all his spells cast by night. So he learned how to manipulate mankind through other means. ”

“The games he plays with our heads,” Amaliya snorted.

“Exactly. A lot of the old vampires blame him for wars and pestilence and all sorts of troubles through the ages, but I think its just The Summoner giving himself credit to make him more terrifying to his own kind. He made me over three hundred years ago and spent a good time torturing me over that time. I am one of the few of his children that is still alive. He slaughters most of us. We're his pawns. His toys. ” Cian could feel his bitterness rising once more. “I have spent a large portion of the last fifty years insuring he would leave me be. ”

“Does he?”

Cian nodded. Of course, the price he had paid had been high. But now he was closer to his mortal existence than he had ever been throughout the centuries. At times, he felt almost human.

“Will he leave me alone?”

“No,” Cian said softly. “No he won't. It's only a few days into his game. He's seeing if you survive on your own. How strong you are. Do not doubt, he is watching you. ” Cian's gaze swept over the city slowly. “He is probably in Austin watching us at this very moment. ”

The thought angered him and, for the thousandth time, he thought he should just kill Amaliya and spare her the torment that was to come. A large portion of that inclination was him feeling immensely selfish. He had fought long and hard to remove himself from The Summoner's influence. Having Amaliya with him was just an invitation to have the ancient vampire back in his life.

Amaliya rested her forehead on the glass and stared down into the street below. People were on their way to the clubs, laughing and talking animatedly. Cian could almost read her thoughts and he saw the weariness settle into her shoulders. She understood and he was strangely comforted with that knowledge.

“It's like having the world's worst stalker on your case,” she said at last.

“That it is,” Cian admitted.

“Why does he do it? Make us then torture us? Stalk us? Not help us?”

“It amuses him. He's old and bored. He doesn't wield the power he did alive so he plays these games to make himself more powerful. Or at least that is my official diagnosis of his psychosis. ”

“Why don't the other vampires kill him?”

Her gaze was so soft and afraid. She almost looked human, but her skin was too pale and translucent and her eyes glittered.

“Most of the ancients are in Europe. There are a few in South and Central America, but they never travel this far north. America, and I'm including the U. S. , Canada and Mexico, have much younger vampires. I am most likely one of the oldest here. He is thousands of years old and possibly one of the very first of our kind to walk the earth. Despite his limitations in his magic, he is quite dangerous. We all live with the knowledge that should he decide to wreck havoc on the earth, he could. By night, of course, but how much damage could an army of the dead do in one night against mortals?”

“Why hasn't he done it yet?”

Cian shrugged. “No one knows. Rumors are that he tried once and the Ancients crushed his army and crippled him. In other words, wounded him so terribly it took decades to heal. But it's all legend and rumors. What I have seen him do with my own eyes is enough to terrify me. ”

The girl's shoulders drooped even more. “I'm pretty much dead, aren't I? Even if you don't kill me, he will. ”

Cian turned to look at her. In the light of his apartment, she looked younger than in the club. Her black hair fell long and untethered almost to her waist. Her body was shapely without being heavy. The tattoo on her arm was marred and he could see where it probably held a cross or rosary tucked into the design before her transformation. He had caught a glimpse of the wings on her back earlier. She was very different from Samantha, yet both of them looked very Austin.

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