A note from BenjaminKerei

Welcome to my new work in progress! This book is going to the narrator on the 15th of march so I would appreciate any feedback you are willing to give. If you spot a plot hole or something that doesn't make sense to you feel free to point it out. 


To a starving vampire, the sound of a human heartbeat is a symphony. The thump, thump, thump echoes through the world like a joyful trumpet, announcing the opening of the hunt. The aroma of blood quickly follows, sweet ambrosia overflowing with life. Either one is tantalizing, but together they are enough to drive you to madness.

Thirty-three days ago, I was a happy father of two. My friends called me Vinny, instead of Vincent, and I worked a job that paid too little, to provide for a wife and children who showed me nothing but love and affection. It was honest work. The kind that made the world a little better with each passing day and gave me a sense of satisfaction that I was doing good.

Then they shattered that life.

If you had told me watching anime with my son, Luke, would one day let me understand the most bizarre experience of my life, I might have laughed. Those silly shows were too ridiculous to offer more than the simple pleasure of spending time with my boy, or so I thought.

Thirty-three days ago, I was isekaied, summoned from our world to another like some tragic anime cliché, but instead of some noble king needing a hero to save his kingdom, I ended up in the middle of a dark cult, hellbent on becoming vampires.

They made a literal deal with the devil, while they held me in chains. It was a creature so foul that its presence nauseated me in a way I cannot adequately describe, making me want to curl into a ball and tremble as I tried to scrub away the filth crawling under my skin from being in its presence.

The ones who summoned me called me ‘hero’, another cliché. Then, as newly turned vampires, they feasted on me, which was the only part of the experience that was remotely original.

I died in the same room where I was summoned, where the demon was summoned, where they blunted their new fangs on my flesh and drank the life from me. Then thirty-three days ago, I returned to the world of the living. And I did not come back as the same man who left.

I once viewed life through an emotionless haze, due to a concussion. Being a vampire was a little like that. My emotional range and interests were smothered when compared to what they once were. My objective morality was skewed, and my compassion was so limited as to be non-existent.

The loneliness of the small, damp cell I’d woken in would have driven me mad in the past. The screams of my neighbours in the other cells by me would have driven me to tears. Now, the only thing I cared about was the fact that no one had fed me. So, I sat in the cell I couldn’t escape and allowed time to flow by as my hunger grew.

My insane thirst for blood had me aware of the party of adventurers the moment they arrived.

They came through sewers, wading through the filth and muck, heartbeats erratic and fearful. They entered via the pipe where they disposed of the subterranean structure’s waste, likely thinking it would disguise their entry.

There were four of them. The men wore leather and steel, while the women were dressed in soft fabrics.

Through the barred window in my cell door, I watched them skulk down the brick-lined hallway with great caution. They were not half as quiet as they thought they were, and they were not ready to face what awaited them in the darkness down here.

So, I did them a favour, possibly the last favour of my life, and told them so. “You’re all going to die down here.”

My voice had changed during the transformation. It was deeper, smoother, filled with confidence and predatory intent, giving me the sort of English accent you only see in movies. It was rich and compelling.

My wife Sandra would have loved it, the way I loved her American accent.

The blonde young woman, in her early twenties and dressed in a pristine white robe spun, raising the head of her staff in my direction and muttered a single phrase: “Holy Shot.”

A blast of radiant light burst from the end, engulfing my head with the intensity of a lighthouse at night.

I blinked away the stars I was seeing, otherwise unaffected, but a little surprised by her actions. “Did you just say holy shit to blast me with magic, miss? I’m not going to lie, but never in a million years would I have thought that those would be the words that someone used to kill me. Do you get some sort of perverse pleasure from making the last words people hear profanity? If so, you should talk to someone about it. That can’t be healthy.” My words came out in a disjointed rush as I tried to distract myself from the thirst clawing at my throat.

The four-member party of adventurers stood in the middle of the hallway, staring at me with their weapons raised. They had been on edge as they made their way here; now they were ready to swing at anything that got too close.

The burly-looking young man in the steel breastplate seemed to be in charge, because he took control of the situation. “Lela, it didn’t work. Hit it again.”

Holy Shot.”

Another burst of light hit me in the face, but this time I had enough experience to close my eyes. I also heard her properly this time. “Oh, you said Holy Shot. My mistake, miss. Sorry for the accusation.”

“What the fuck?” Burly said.

“Language,” I growled, bestially. “There are ladies present.”

Burly took offense to my suggestion. “Look, I’m not going to be fucking lectured by a bloody blood-sucker. Kindly shut up and die.”

“Holy Shot.”

Light enveloped my head a third time.

“It’s not working,” Burly said.

“I noticed,” I said, trying to be helpful as I ignored the hunger demanding I tear their throats out and drink their blood. It was difficult.

I was ready to die, ready to step beyond the veil.

Living as a monster for a chance at a few more lonely years didn’t interest me. I wasn’t safe to be around. And I still remembered what it was to be a good man, and I’d rather die with dignity than live like this.

These new instincts were pushing me to hurt people, and it was taking everything I had not to throw myself against the door and try to break through with my fists, even though I knew it was pointless. The door was too strong. Every attempt I had made to escape had utterly failed.

Burly ignored me as he focused on his allies. “Lela, why isn’t it fucking working?”

The young woman blushed and took a tentative step forward, peering through the bars at my face, holding her lamp higher. “Um, excuse me, ah, sir. Have you killed and eaten any people since becoming a vampire?”

It was an odd question. “Would you believe me if I said no?”

Of course, we won’t believe you if you say no,” Burly hissed. “We need to stake this vampire and move on. Peppy, shoot an arrow into his chest.”

“The door’s kind of in the way,” I pointed out as I turned to the archer, who had nocked an arrow. He was a big man with dark hair and a mischievous face. “Also, is your name really Peppy?”

“It’s a nickname,” he replied.

“Is it because you pepper your enemies with arrows?”

He nodded.

“Good nickname.”

He released the draw on his bow and scratched the side of his head. “Thanks, I think.”

I turned back to Lela, ready to die. “Did you want to give your Holy Shot another go? Perhaps it’s just performance anxiety. You probably just needed to warm up your staff.”

Peppy chuckled.

Lela looked confused, squinting through the darkness at me.

The other woman snickered.

Burly did not look happy.

Peppy quickly stopped chuckling. “Don’t look at me like that. It was funny.”

What was funny?” Lela asked.

Peppy tried not to grin and failed. “He made a sex joke.”


A small chuckle escaped me over her apparent confusion. “You’re a priest priest I take it. Do you wear a chastity belt?”

“Could everyone stop talking to the vampire?” Burly snapped in a hissed whisper. “We need to kill him so we can finish investigating the complex for whatever is creating all that unholy energy.”

They had no clue what they had walked into. “It was probably created by the demon-summoning ritual and the hundreds of vampires down here.”

“Did you just say hundreds of vampires?” Peppy whispered.

“There are forty-seven in the cell next to me, if you want to check.”

Peppy shuffled down the corridor, disappearing from view. He was back in a few seconds, much paler than before. “There are ghouls down here,” he whispered.

“How many?” Burly asked.

“I didn’t stop to count, but I would guess as many as he said.”

“My apologies; I assumed they were vampires by their smell. But I also may have been misled by all the screaming for blood. If I could blush, I’d be embarrassed.”

“Ghouls are created when a newly turned vampire is starved for blood,” Lela explained, after hearing my confusion. “They were vampires; now they’re ghouls.”

That was sort of interesting. “What’s the difference?”

“Ghouls eat everything, not just blood.”

“Would everyone please stop talking to the vampire and kill him?”

“We can’t kill him,” Lela said.

I realised I’d been too friendly. “Look, it’s nice that you’ve grown so attached to me, but if it’s all the same to you, I would prefer to die.”

Burly raised his hands, finally finding the support he was looking for. “See, he wants to die.”

“Technically, he’s already dead,” Peppy said. “Vampires are soulless demons that animate dead flesh.”

“Wait. I’m soulless?”

“Technically, he’s not soulless until he takes his first innocent life,” Lela corrected. “Currently, he is a disembodied soul, tethered to his animated corpse, which is possessed by a demon.”

“What’s the difference?” Peppy asked.

“Holy magic doesn’t work on a righteous soul. Even though his soul isn’t bound to his flesh, it’s still tethered, so I can’t harm him. Actually, he’s still at the stage where his vampirism can be reversed.”

Everything in the world disappeared, except her face. “Wait. You can reverse this? If that’s possible, I would rather not die.”

“How can you be sure?” Burly asked.

“Holy Shot.”

Light enveloped me for a fourth time, and I returned to seeing stars.

“Either he has not killed anyone, or he’s an ancient vampire,” Lela said. “And if he’s an ancient vampire, we’re already dead, and he’s just toying with us before he kills us.”

The others took a step back from me.

Their fear amused me. “Is there something on my face?”

“How would we tell if he’s an ancient vampire?” Burly whispered.

“I can hear you.”

“Holy symbols will burn in his presence.”

Burly glanced to the amulet around Lela’s neck. “How close does it need to be?”

She squinted at me and then at her amulet. “This would probably be close enough.”

“It’s not doing anything. Shouldn’t it be burning?”

“It won’t harm him or burn if he hasn’t killed any innocents. But he wouldn’t be an ancient vampire unless he had.”

“Just to be safe, maybe you should put it a little closer to him.”

I glared at Burly, upset by his suggestion. I was doing my best to remain a good person, and he wasn’t trying at all. “Are you seriously trying to delegate what could potentially be a suicide mission?”

He scowled, not liking someone questioning his orders. “Shut up. It’s the cleric’s job to deal with unholy abominations.”

I frowned, considering his statement. “That’s actually a pretty good justification.”

Peppy chuckled. “He’s full of pretty good justifications.”

Burly groaned. “Please don’t undermine me in front of the vampire, Peppy.”

“Yeah, he’s doing a fine job on his own.” I gave Burly a thumbs up through the window. “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.”

Peppy was wise enough to bite down on his next chuckle.

Lela finally gathered her courage. She grasped her amulet and stepped forward, holding it out, stopping just out of reach.

“Closer,” Burly instructed.

I was about done with his attitude. He seemed like a six-letter word that rhymed with banker, so I slid my arm between the thick metal bars and held out my palm only a few inches from her amulet, glaring at him. “You happy now?”

“So, he’s not an ancient vampire, just a vampire that hasn’t fed yet,” Peppy said. “What do we do now?”

“Well, we can’t free him,” Burly said. “He’ll just try to eat us.”

“You wouldn’t do that, would you?” Lela asked. Her tone suggested that she believed I wouldn’t.

“Would you like an honest answer?”

She nodded, far too doe-eyed and innocent for this place. “They are the only ones worth listening to.”

“I give it a fifty-fifty chance that I try to eat you. I’ve been locked in here for thirty-three days, and you all smell like cold beer on a hot afternoon. I think the only reason I haven’t gone mad from the hunger is because my wife made me do a weeklong water fast with her once, and that hellish experience taught me how to tolerate hunger.”

She grinned. “You’re pious.”

“No, I was fat.”

Peppy snorted.

It was good to have someone to make jokes with again, but this had to end. “Look, there are several hundred ghouls down here, along with the thirteen vampires that turned me. You all seem like nice people, so I suggest you climb back down that hole you came out of and get as far away from here as you can. Actually, that brings up a question I’ve been wanting to ask this entire time. How are you all so clean? I know what you climbed through.”

“It’s a spell,” the second woman said.

“Rena can’t stand being dirty,” Peppy added.

“Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say.”

“I like that,” Lela said. “Do you mind if I use it?”

“You’re welcome to it. Now if you would kindly head back the way you came, just look for the filthy tunnel that leads to a long, happy life.”

“He’s got a point,” Peppy said. “We aren’t equipped to deal with a vampire nest. If these ghouls wake up, we’re dead.”

“I’m personally surprised they haven’t woken up already. You lot aren’t exactly quiet.”

Lela frowned. “That is odd. By now they should have broken out of their cell and torn us apart.” Her head tilted to the side the way, Kathrine, my daughter always tilted hers when she was thinking. “You said you’ve been in here for thirty days.”

“Thirty-three, but who’s counting.”

“Did these vampires summon this demon to become vampires, by any chance?”

“Yes. They then ate me and the entire nearby village, from what my old neighbours complained about. Apparently, they thought they were being invited to their lord’s manor for a feast, only the invitation didn’t specify that they were the feast.”

“They’re slumbering,” Lela whispered.

“For your sake, I hope so.”

“No, you don’t understand. Vampires’ spawn need to eat and then sleep to transition into full-fledged vampires. Then vampires need to eat and then sleep so they can transition into elder vampires. Elder vampires need to eat and then sleep so they can transition into ancient vampires. When they go through this transition, the only thing that will wake them is the death of a nearby vampire. Right now, they’re vulnerable.”

“How vulnerable,” Burly asked.

“They won’t wake up even if we stake a vampire right next to them?”

I scratched the side of my chin. “I thought you said killing one would wake the others.”

“That’s right.”

“Why would you stake them, then?”

“To paralyze them.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Staking vampires doesn’t kill them?”

Lela looked at me perplexed. “Why would staking vampires kill them? You need to cut off a vampire’s head to kill them, and an elder vampire will come back to life if someone then reattaches it.”

“My apologies. I’m new to the whole vampire business. Anyway, it won’t do you any good. You won’t be able to find them. They’re in a hidden room.”

“You expect us to believe you?” Burly asked.

I could see he wasn’t going to listen to reason. “Since you’re committed to dying young, see for yourself.” I pointed in the direction from which I could sense my makers. “They’re that way. I’ll be here when you come back for help.”

The party made a quick plan that would lead to all of them dying, and then disappeared for an entire day. I listened to them stomping around the complex from my cell as they searched for the secret room. Lela was right. The vampires that had turned me wouldn’t wake up for anything.

Tired and despondent, the party returned to my cell.

“This is how it’s going to work,” Burly said the moment they appeared. “Peppy is going to unlock your cell door, then I’m going to get in the cell with you. If you can fight the impulse to feed on me for a reasonable amount of time, then we’re going to let you out so you can help us. If you try to kill me, I’m going to knock you senseless, and then we’re going to get the hell out of here.”

“No,” I said simply.

He frowned. “No?”

“No. I don’t like you. If you waltz in here, I’m going to try to eat you. I might not even try to fight the impulse. If you want to make this work, then you have to do it my way. And my way involves using the most likely to survive, and that is Lela. Second most likely is Peppy. Then the clean one, Rena. Then some random stranger you manage to find. Then a sewer rat. Then you.”

“I’ll go,” Lela offered.

“No, you won’t,” Peppy said. “Without your holy magic, you won’t be able to keep him off you long enough for us to save you. I’ll go.”

Lela shook her head. “I’m our best chance of ridding the world of this evil. It needs to be me. A higher chance of success is worth risking my life.”

“Her odds are much better, Peppy.”

He turned to me frowning. “Why?”

“She reminds me of my daughter.”

“And that’s enough to protect her?”

“It helps that she’s the one who wants to help me become human again, but it’s mostly the reminding me of my daughter.”

Every word I said was true. The natural impulse to value human life was entirely gone. I was a monster.

“I’ll be fine,” Lela said.

“I wouldn’t be that enthusiastic. Let’s go with you might be okay.”

“Very comforting,” Peppy muttered as he approached the lock on my cell door.

I stepped back and gave him room to work. In only a few seconds, he had the lock open, quickly followed by the door. Lela stepped into my cell, a room barely larger than a bedroom. The door closed behind her, then it locked.

Lela became my whole world as my instincts and hunger focused on her with hyperintensity.

Hunger is painful.

I’m not talking about the dull ache you experience when lunch is four hours late. I’m talking about the hunger you experience when your last meal was three days past, when your body has you looking for any source of sustenance. When you have a conscious awareness that your body is eating itself, and that you need to do something -- anything --to stop the process.

The key to controlling yourself in such a situation is to accept that hunger is painful. Accept that you are allowing this pain. That this pain is what you want. If you don’t, if you try to deny it, instead, you’re in for a world of misery.

I told myself I wanted to feel the hunger, because if the hunger remained, I wasn’t a monster. I was still the good man I had always been.

When I’d joined Sandra on her water fast, the hunger had gone away after three days. The hunger had never gone away as a vampire. Every minute was agony, more intense than anything I experienced in those seven days.

People think when you’re starving you dream about eating the entire McDonalds menu, but that’s the sort of thing you dream about when you’re hungry. When you’re starving, your body is eating itself, and all it wants to do is stop eating itself.

In this state, you dream about things that will stop this slow death, even if it is only for a little while. The thought of eating a single ripe raw tomato without anything else is enough to leave you salivating for hours. It’s intense and different to anything you experience with normal hunger.

Starving as a vampire was nothing like starving as human. There was no slow reduction in expectations. It grew with each passing day. I wanted the entire McDonald’s staff and the people coming through the drive-through. It was like the worst sugar crash met the worst cravings of my life, and gave birth to something that would see me driving my car through a supermarket window at three in the morning just so I could get a Snicker’s bar.

It was the kind of hunger that stopped you from being human, like your entire body was on fire and the water was only a few feet away. All you had to do for relief was feed.

I scratched the back of my head and gave a dry chuckle. “Well, this is awkward.”

Lela frowned, her back pressed against the door. “Why is this awkward?”

“I thought I was only able to control myself because you were out of reach, but it’s the same.”

“You’re not struggling?”

I shook my head. “No more than before.”

“Can I come closer?”


She got a lot closer than I expected, standing only a few inches away. “Are you okay with this?”

I nodded. “No change.”

“What about this.” She turned her back on me.

I felt my fangs descend and threw myself backwards, slamming into the wall. “Turn around.”

She spun.

If I still had a heartbeat, it would have been hammering. Certain predatory instincts that I didn’t know I possessed had kicked in when she had left herself exposed. It wasn’t hunger. It was something more primal. Something I hadn’t needed to deal with yet.

“Are you okay?”

I held up my hand, hoping she would stay back. “Give me a minute.” It took longer than a minute, but I eventually settled down. “Okay, I’m good. New rule. No one shows me their back.”

“Try standing close again to see if anything has changed,” Burly suggested.

Lela nodded and then walked way too close, getting in my personal space.

“It’s the same.”

“Let me circle around you to see if that makes a difference.”

She circled around me, making sure she remained facing me.

“It’s fine.”

Lela exited the cell, and then their party discussed how they would work with me. Having me at the front of the group was a must, but they also discussed how they would have to move if they got into a fight.

Eventually, they came up with a method they were happy with and released me. Then they let me march through the hallways at sword point. The subterranean structure we travelled through was just more of what I had already seen. Smooth brick walls and cells. It was a world without change and appealed to my new aesthetics. I found it comforting.

I knew I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help the way I felt.

The ghouls I saw in the cells no longer looked human. Their fingers had become claws, and their eyelids had fused together. They were emaciated creatures with sharp teeth, and they hung from the ceiling by clawed feet.

After a few false turns, I found the right hallway and stopped in front of the false wall the vampires were sleeping behind. “They’re behind this wall.”

“This wall,” Burly said.

“Is there an echo in here? Yes, this wall. Try to find a secret switch or something.”

“It’s an enchanted lock,” Rena said. “Without him pointing it out, I wouldn’t have notice it.”

“There’s actually something here,” Burly said.


“Told you.”

Burly ignored me. “How quickly can you open it?”

Rena waved her hand and muttered an incantation. The wall immediately swung in. “That quickly.”

The room beyond was a large, open space filled with expensive-looking trinkets, wall-to-ceiling tapestries, several large chests, and thirteen standing sarcophagi. All but one of the sarcophagi were made from stone. The largest appeared to be made from lead and sat in the middle of the far wall in a place of prominence.

I shook my head in Rena’s direction. “You know you should warn your party when you’re going to open the door to a room filled with vampires. Not only is it common courtesy, it’s also common sense.”

Burly continued to ignore me. “Vampire, take the lead.”

I looked into room. There were two ritual circles made from old blood in the centre, one of which was made from my blood and had been used to summon the demon. The other had been used to summon me. Red crystals sat in small alcoves, providing an ominous light that made everything look like it was bathed in blood.

This was where I had died. That meant it should have bothered me. It didn’t. It felt like home.

The room didn’t bother me, but it was still dangerous. “Peppy, can I get some support up here? I don’t want to discover a trap with my intestines.”

“We should leave,” Lela whispered.

“What is it now?” Burly whispered back.

Lela raised her hand. “That’s a lead coffin. Only ancient vampires require lead coffins. If it’s further along in the transformation than we think, we won’t be able to kill it.”

Burly scowled. “But if we do, we will save the kingdom from suffering unimaginable evil.”

Wanting to get out of the situation I had found myself in and return to the world of the living, I tapped Peppy’s arm. “They’re going to go back and forth until they eventually settle on going in, so we might as well get started on sorting the loot. Remember, tell me to stop before I step on a trap.”

I crossed the room. Peppy didn’t follow.

“But I don’t know how to recognise traps.”

I turned and glared over my shoulder from the opposite side of the room. “You waited to tell me that until after I crossed the room, didn’t you.”

Peppy began walking forward. “You’re the only one that won’t die if they discover what their intestines look like. Seemed wise to wait.”

“You just moved down the survival list, Peppy. Not smart.”

He shrugged.

While Burly and Lela argued, the rest of us investigated the room. For obvious reasons, we started with the chests. Peppy undid the locks, and then the three of us whistled appreciatively.

“That is a lot of silver and gold,” I said.

Rena didn’t agree. “It’s mostly silver. We’ll be lucky if there are a few thousand gold pieces between the chests. After guild taxes, crown taxes, and the lawyers take their cut, we’ll only see a thousand gold from this. The bounty on the vampires is bigger than that.”

Peppy closed the lid and looked back to the entrance. Burly and Lela had finished their argument and noticed they were the only ones still in the corridor. They quickly hurried into the room.

Burly glared at me and pointed to a spot beside the lead sarcophagus. The sarcophagi were aligned in a semi-circle, feet facing the door. There was a gap beside where the lead sarcophagus and the wall met that was just big enough for me to fit.

The party gathered around the lead sarcophagus, and then together we grabbed the lid and slid it open. Inside lay a pale, regal looking man with short-cut hair and a dense beard. His body was covered in thick muscle, giving the impression of a sleeping knight.

Since becoming a vampire, I’d been able to sense the life in living things. The life energy that radiated from his body was dozens of times stronger than the group I was with, like dozens of undigested meals. My fangs extended as my hunger grew.

The only reason I didn’t jump on him immediately was there no sweetness to his blood to entice me. He smelled like a corpse. Or perhaps a salad. There was certainly nourishing life within him, but it was not the sort of life that left me salivating.

Peppy nocked an arrow and fired it at an angle, going through the vampire’s diaphragm and under the rib cage, before piercing the heart.

“Lord Denton,” Burly growled. “At one point, he was the king’s guardsman. Now, he’s a mass-murdering fuck stain. We’ll stake the others. You stay where you are, vampire.”

Burly lead his party to the next sarcophagus, where they repeated the process. Then the next. Then the one after that. When the last vampire was staked with an arrow through the heart, it was safe to kill the vampires, and wake their paralyzed neighbours. Thus, Burly drew his shortsword without ceremony and brought it down on the neck of the first sleeping vampire.

From deep within the dungeon, the ghouls began to howl. They had sensed the death of their master and woken. The vampires in the room had not.

Lela calmly drew her dagger, stepped to the side, and thrust it through Rena’s kidney, giving the knife a vicious twist. The sorcerer collapsed, with a soft whimper.

Peppy nocked an arrow, muttering a word that caused the tip to glow green, and then fired it at Burly’s head.

Burly shouted a word and raised his bracer, knocking the arrow aside, before pivoting and thrusting with his shortsword, forcing Peppy to block with his bow. The wood barely held, stopping the blade long enough for Peppy to take a step back. Then it snapped along the cut.

While Peppy went for his shortsword, Burly changed his grip, holding his sword like a spear. He launched it at Lela, who had picked Rena up by her hair, so she could slit her throat. The tip of the sword went through one side of her neck and out the other, killing her instantly.

The smell of so much fresh blood pushed me over the edge, wearing away my failing resistance. With the last of my will, I dove into the lead sarcophagus and slid the lid closed behind me.

The madness of thirst took me while I was alone in the darkness, and I sank my teeth into Lord Denton’s throat. Sickly cold blood filled my mouth as my hunger made the world vanish.

When I came too sometime later, there was no Lord Denton, just a pile of ash at my feet and an absence of the pain that had been plaguing me for thirty-four days.

I could sense only one life outside the sarcophagus. It was weak and growing weaker.

I pushed the lid aside.

Burly sat with his back against the entrance, holding his bloody side. He gave me a red grin as he saw me. “Come to finish me off?”

The smell of blood assaulted my nostril, making me salivate, but its attraction was nothing compared to before I ate. It didn’t overwhelm me, only made me feel like I was missing out on the best meal of my life. Behind him, the ghouls pounded at the door, howling madly.

I glanced at the three dead bodies, curious about what had happened. “Do you know why they did it?”

He scowled. “I’m guessing, but I would say they were members of the cult. One of the vampires likely promised them they would become their second in command if they broke in here while they were sleeping and killed their competition for them.”

“Is there anything I can do for you?” It seemed like the right thing to say. The kind of thing I would have said the past.

He nodded. “Finish the vampires off for me.”

“Besides that.”

“There is no getting out of here alive without my party. There is a horde of ghouls between me and freedom. It would be suicide to try, and I’d rather die as I am than see myself become one of those creatures.”

“I think we can take them.”

He started to chuckle and then winced. “Your average ghoul can tear a vampire spawn limb from limb. You stand even less of a chance than I do.”

That surprised me. “Why would they attack me? Aren’t we related or something?”

“You wish. Ghouls only obey their creators. You’re nothing but food to them.”

“That’s unfortunate.”

“You’re a very odd vampire. How did you end up here?”

“I was summoned from another world. They beat me to a pulp when I arrived, tied me up, summoned a demon with my blood, became vampires, feasted on me, turned me into a vampire, and then threw me in the cell and forgot about me.”

Burly smiled. “You’re a Hero.”

“So, they keep telling me.”

“In that case, I pledge my life and my soul to the Hero. Let his path be my path and his fate be my fate.”

A very holy looking light enveloped Burly, and his smile grew. A feeling settled in my chest. It was a tether between us that told me he was mine. Somehow, I knew harming him would now be impossible.

“I dreamed about doing that as a kid,” he said, content. “Didn’t think I would ever get the chance. Didn’t think I’d be worthy.”

I scratched my chest, trying to remove the uncomfortable sensation. “You change your mind about breaking out of here?”

He shook his head. “That would be a death sentence. However, you might survive. I take it that you ate Lord Denton.”

“I believe so.”

“Good. Eat the others. Then climb into his sarcophagus and go to sleep. Vampires bear the Curse of Sloth. You won’t awaken until you grow hungry, or until someone disturbs your slumber. You should wake several months from now, which might give you a chance of making a run for it. Find the church and ask them to lift your curse.”

I stepped out of the sarcophagus, walked across the room, and offered Burly my hand. He took it, clasping my wrist. “What’s your name?”

“Denton, son of Denton.”

I glanced behind me. “That was your old man.”


“You’re a better man than he was.”

“I like to think so.”

Denton, son of Denton died with a smile on his face. I closed his eyes to this horrible world and then did as he instructed, putting the head back on the elder vampire who Burley had decapitated, so I could consume him. Without the hunger, drinking vampire blood was a horrible experience. But one by one, they turned to ash. Bloated from a sickening amount of cold blood, I gathered the ash in the lead sarcophagus and the ones next to it into three separate coin pouches and then placed Denton and Rena’s bodies inside them, leaving the other two on the ground to rot. Denton and Rena had saved my life. I owed them.

I climbed into the lead sarcophagus, closed the lid, and prayed I’d wake to a safer world.

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