From Geoffrey’s POV
“...Welcome to the world through the looking glass...”
My Maker whispered a venomous tune in my head, turning the world around me red as I was forced to listen to his rhetoric. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t hear Jonathan’s dastardly voice; and each time his hissing interrupted my thoughts, it only reminded me of my mission.
The mission...that brought me to France.
Over the past two years, Doctor Reid had plunged into a severe madness, causing him to tear the throat out of every soul unfortunate enough to cross paths with him. His victims included men and women of all ages, and by now, the body count had been multiplied dozens of times. So many, that it made his work in London look like child’s play.
As always, the police were powerless to stop an Ekon of his ascendancy, and with every life he took, Jonathan only grew stronger. No matter how many new men they recruited, or how many civilians dared to confront the madman themselves...Reid always seemed to emerge the victor. And there was also the fact that he had other vampires working with him.
That was why the Guard of Priwen were forced to intervene.
Originally, I had planned to track the leech down on my own -- after all, Reid and I had unfinished business to conclude -- but surprisingly, a number of the Priwen were more than willing to offer assistance.
Regardless of how brave my men were, or how much skill they carried, I expected them to stay as far away from Reid as possible, but many of them turned out to be victims of the doctor themselves. When news spread that I was traveling to Paris in order to kill the man, I ended up having to choose a select few out of an entire crowd.
I just hoped that the people I brought wouldn’t get killed during this mission. Paris’ people deserved peace, and Jonathan had caused far more than enough tragedy. It was high time we put an end to it.
Breaking out of my thoughts, I stepped back from the drained corpse I was investigating and began to search the rest of the apartment, hoping to find any clues that could lead us to Reid...but, I couldn’t lie. I had no idea where to start.
Aside from the body, nothing else appeared to be out of the ordinary. The furniture was unscathed, there were no signs of a struggle or a fight, and a pair of empty wine glasses sat peacefully on a nearby table. Either Jonathan attacked the victim by surprise, or they trusted him enough to not let his hunger take control. Lord, were they wrong...
“Sir!” One of my men called out, grabbing my attention.
“What is it, Woodbead?” I asked. “Have you found something?”
Woodbead was considered to be one of the most ruthless members of the Priwen, despite being younger and newer than a majority of our numbers. He already had his fair share of battle wounds, and made no effort to hide the set of scars engrained in the left side of his face.
Half a hole had been bored into his ear by a bullet, along with a gash in his cheek following the trajectory, one of his eyes was blind, and a third scar cut a jagged path through the shaved hair on his temple. Even with his multiple injuries however, Woodbead still looked after his appearance and adorned a neat, clean-shaven image fit for a gentleman. Well, save for the constant presence of a weapon in his hand. He was quite a figure, indeed.
Woodbead presented me with a blood-stained journal, giving me a grim expression.
“It’s the victim’s diary,” he explained. “Her name was Elise, according to the entries in here. It looks like Reid was alluring her for some time -- using her infatuation with him to his advantage.”
I flipped through the flimsy pages and shook my head, letting out a morose breath as I read her confessions of love for the doctor. If only she had known what was coming...
“Reid’s deception has no boundaries these days, it seems. That leech will slaughter anyone.”
Woodbead fell silent for a moment at that comment, causing me to glance at the young man out of curiosity.
“Something wrong, Woodbead?” I checked. He shrugged in response, albeit not in a very convincing manner.
“No,” he dismissed. “...Just thinking about about my old man, is all. He was killed back in 1918, see. They masked the murder as suicide, and I believed it at first. After all, my father was tough as nails. No one could take him down except for himself. And on top of that, he had just lost his son. It made sense.”
“...But it was really Reid all along.” I predicted. Woodbead glowered.
“Precisely. That...fucking leech murdered my father. I won’t let him get away with it, Geoffrey. Reid is going to pay for all of this.”
I returned the journal to Woodbead, firmly holding his hand in place as he reached out to grab it.
“We will kill him, Andrew,” I reassured. “The Guard of Priwen will prevail.”
“Oh, I know we will,” he replied. “My only hope is that I live long enough to see that day. Until then...I’m with you, McCullum. To the end.”
I quirked a brow at him. “It doesn’t bother you that I’m...one of them?”
Again, Andrew said no, but he seemed much more sincere this time.
“I’ve seen your work, sir. I’ve seen the loyalty your men hold, and the passion you inspire in them. I know for a fact you’d never put the Guard’s mission in jeopardy, vampire or human. I’ll kill any other leech that gets in our way, but I trust you, McCullum. With my life.”
“Thank you, Andrew,” I said. “But...keep this between us, would you? You’re still the only one who knows, and I’d prefer it to stay that way for now.”
Woodbead nodded. “Of course.”
“Then let’s get going. The longer we stand here, the more Paris’ citizens are at risk of being this beast’s next meal.”
Andrew put the journal away and prepared a crossbow with a flaming arrow, pulling up his red scarf so that his covered his face.
“I’m right behind you.”
From Jonathan’s POV
Slithering in the shadows, my accomplice and I quietly observed the Guards of Priwen from a nearby alleyway as they scrambled around like cockroaches in the light, desperately searching for our tracks.
Handling the Priwen was no problem for me whatsoever -- I had dealt with their men more times than I could count -- but McCullum, on the other hand...was not to be taken lightly. Even though I’d only fought him once before, I knew it’d be foolish to underestimate the vampire hunter. Not only did he almost defeat me in combat, he had also proven to be quite clever. Not many people these days could’ve said the same.
“They’re closing in on us,” my companion warned with a whisper. “It’s only a matter of time before they interfere with our plans again. We should kill McCullum now, whilst he’s still within reach.”
I turned to him with an addled expression.
“You wish to attack the Head of the Priwen in the middle of Paris’ streets?” I questioned. “I always knew you to be somewhat of an impetuous man, Blackbourne, but that’s reckless even for you.”
He grew impatient. “Why not kill him now? We’re in the middle of an alleyway, Reid! No one would even notice the assault until daylight.”
The slight rise in Blackbourne’s voice briefly attracted the attention of McCullum’s comrade, causing the both of us to go completely silent until he finally turned away.
“And how do you think people would react to that?” I continued. “A man who claims to be the leader of a vampire hunting organization gets his blood drained in the middle of the night? Right after investigating another victim who shared the same fate, no less. Citizens are already suspicious of the undead walking amongst them. You’d be exposing our existence to all of France, and God forbid, Europe! You may as well invite these mortals for a cup of tea at the Ascalon Club.”
At last, Blackbourne gave in.
“Very well,” he reluctantly agreed. “...I concede your point. Though, my warning still stands. You cannot let the Guard of Priwen find us, or we’ll be exposed anyways! You must kill McCullum before it’s too late.”
I glared at Geoffrey with a wicked smirk, examining his pale complexion and lifeless eyes as my smile stretched wider, nearly revealing the fangs that hid underneath. There weren’t many things in this precarious world that made me laugh nowadays, but the irony of McCullum’s position brought joy to my dead heart.
A soft chuckle escaped me.
“...I already have.”