Living in the Past: Book 2
Chapter 6 – Have a Little Faith in Me
“Sarah!” Khepri yelled into the crowd of Amazons that had made their way to the front gate.
She could even smell the girl, but she couldn’t find her in all the confusion. Finally after pushing her way to the front she saw her figure at the top of the gate on the scaffolding. She quickly made her way up the ladder and sidled up next to Sarah. From that vantage point she could see Asteri’s face at the head of their pack. When their eyes met he gave her a semi apologetic grin followed by a shrug of the shoulders.
The Amazons were talking loudly and demanding to know what was going on as the queen ascended the ladder to top of the gates. Standing next to Sarah, she eyed the girl nervously.
“You said they can’t come in without an invitation, right?” She asked.
“I said it’s possible.” Sarah answered. “But right now I’m thinking you better clue everyone in about what’s going on; otherwise it’s going to be a massacre.”
Varia looked down into the crowd and searched for Zoe. Once their eyes met she yelled down to her.
“Zoe!” She said over the noise. “Prepare everyone for attack. Get the stakes and spread the word.”
Zoe nodded and scrambled to get to Meg, Rah and Anthony. While the two Egyptians gathered the weapons she and Meg explained how to use them.
“Have they made any demands?” Varia asked the time traveler.
“Not so far.” Sarah said. “They’re just standing out there. What are they waiting for?”
“An invitation!” Said the man to the front.
“He can hear you?” Varia whispered in fear.
“I told you, they have super… everything.” She explained.
Looking down, Varia swallowed hard and demanded silence from her people. She then leveled a hard gaze at the leader of the pack.
“I am Varia, queen of the Amazons, and no invitation will be granted to your kind.” She said. “Now I suggest you leave us before I issue an order to my archers to fire into your ranks.”
He smiled and crossed his arms. “I am Asteri, Prince of the vampires, and I’m not going to simply wait for your tribe to destroy my own as they sleep.” He said this as much to Khepri as he did to Varia.
“They know about the plan.” Sarah said to Varia. “How could they possibly know about the plan?”
“They must have someone on the inside.” Varia said.
“That’s impossible.” Sarah whispered. “There aren’t any vampires here. I’ve seen everyone out and about in the sunlight.”
“Then they must have a human working for them.” Varia growled.
Khepri’s heart was racing. If she tried to speak to her brother she’d give herself away, but if she waited too long he’d likely do it for her; forcing her to issue the invitation. She needed time; a way to diffuse the situation. So she did the first thing that came to mind. She took a hostage.
Eve had joined Varia on the scaffolding to get a better look at the attackers. She barely had time to scream as a strong arm hoisted her over a cold shoulder and both women fell to the ground outside of the gate. Khepri let her down but kept her left arm tight around the messenger’s waist and her left hand wrapped around her throat as she backed away from the camp and towards her pack.
Both Sarah and Varia gripped the fence and screamed at the woman before they were silenced by her words.
This isn’t happening. Sarah thought. She can’t be…
“My name is Khepri, Princess of the vampires, and if you do not do exactly as I say I will kill Eve with a flick of my wrist.”
“No.” Varia said softly; fear stifling her throat. “Hold your fire, she yelled to the archers who had readied their bows.”
“There will be no bloodshed tonight!” Khepri yelled and was met with a round of groans from the vampires behind her.
“Silence!” She turned her head to address them and shot daggers at her brother’s confused face.
Sarah and Varia looked on with bated breath as they waited for Khepri to speak again.
The vampire princess took a deep breath and tried to figure out exactly what she was going to do next. She’d only needed to reach a standstill before, now she had to come up with a plan. As she searched for a solution in her head her eyes met Sarah’s and she saw the anger and betrayal simmering in the blue depths. It hurt her more than she wanted it to.
“What do you want?” Sarah spat. “Are you just gonna stand there all night?”
Khepri sighed. “I want you, Sarah. But I think we both know that threatening your life won’t do me any good.” She watched as Sarah’s jaw clenched in rage. “Your people have found a way to kill us in the daytime.” She said, more for the vampires’ benefit than the Amazons’. “And I only need issue an invitation for them to massacre your tribe tonight. We must reach an agreement that will benefit all of us. And to ensure our safety while this agreement is met I’ll be taking Eve as my hostage…” She paused then looked at the girl, whose eyes held utter hatred for her, then addressed the queen. “…And Sarah as my negotiator. They will not be harmed as long as no attacks are made against my people.”
“You’re not people!” Sarah yelled as she hopped over the gate and dropped to the ground.
“Damn it, Sarah.” Varia cursed as she watched the girl go without any thought to what she was doing.
“You’re soulless monsters who need to be extinguished.” She said as she moved closer to Khepri.
“Careful Sarah.” The princess said as she squeezed her hand harder around Eve’s throat causing the woman to gasp. “You wouldn’t want to make me mad right now.” She warned.
Sarah looked into Eve’s eyes. The messenger showed no fear, only anger; and she saw in Sarah’s nothing but remorse for her poor judgment. The time traveler looked back up to Khepri.
“Let’s get this over with.” She said.
“Tie them up.” Khepri ordered as she handed Eve over to one of the vampires.
Both Eve and Sarah were grabbed forcefully and bound tightly at the wrists; their hands behind their backs, as Khepri finished addressing the Amazons.
“As I said before, as long as you leave us alone, they’ll not be harmed.” She said. “Sarah will be sent back to you within a day to discuss our demands and accept your cooperation. Until then it would be wise for you to keep your people within the camp. As you can see some of us aren’t afraid to come out in the daytime.”
Sarah felt a shove to her shoulder coming from the vampire behind her. It sent her off balance and she dropped to her knees. Before she could try to regain her footing the vampire was grabbed by the neck and pinned against a tree by his princess.
“The prisoners are to be treated as guests, not cattle. If any harm comes to either one of them you will have to deal with me.” She gripped the vampire’s throat as tight as she could without crushing it completely. “Is that understood?” She asked him.
He somehow managed to choke out a raspy ‘yes’ before being dropped back on the ground. Khepri then moved to help Sarah back to her feet, but was shrugged away as the girl stood back up on her own.
“Don’t touch me.” She spat, her eyes focused on the ground.
Khepri wanted to tell her that she wasn’t going to hurt her, but she knew that she’d already caused the girl pain. And even if Sarah did believe her, now was not the time with the vampires watching their every move.
“Keep moving.” She said to everyone before she finally dragged her eyes away from the girl.
Once she reached Asteri she heard Eve’s voice quietly ask Sarah if she was alright. Her brother’s voice covered up the answer.
“I really hope you’ve got a good explanation for the little scene you just pulled back there.” He said with a snarl.
“Brother, you’d do well to check your tone before addressing me again.” She growled back at him. “I am keeping this pack alive right now, no thanks to you. The Amazons not only out number us, they know our secrets. Asking for a fight is tantamount to suicide. I tried to drill that into your thick skull earlier today.”
“That’s right, but being the petulant child that I am I decided to size up the situation myself.” He said. “You don’t get to decide everything for this family, Khepri; there are two rulers.”
“And one with no self control.” She said.
“Self control?” His eyes widened. “You want to talk about self control? Explain to me why you nearly killed Thomas back there just because he pushed that worthless human.”
“She’s not a worthless human.” Khepri replied.
Asteri studied her for a few seconds then spoke.
“Oh you must be joking.” He said with a laugh. “I can’t even begin to describe the stupidity of putting the entire pack in danger just because you’ve got the hots for some human. Fuck her, bite her, and keep her around until she no longer interests you, but do not put our people in danger just because you want her to like you back. Because, if you hadn’t noticed, she’s not exactly thrilled about this whole situation.”
Khepri growled in frustration.
“I’m not doing this to get laid you moron. She is special; the girl can’t die.” She explained.
“What?” He asked, the superiority gone from his tone. “Is she a god? One of us?”
“I don’t know that yet.” She explained, frustration still evident in her voice. “All I know is that I saw her pull a knife out of her gut yesterday and not even bat an eyelash. But don’t worry; I don’t think she’s as strong as us. She can be harmed, just not killed.”
“What do you plan to do with her?” He asked.
“Exactly what I said I was going to do with her. She is to be the negotiator for our peace terms.”
“You mean you were serious about that?” He asked in disgust. “Why should we make peace with these humans, who cares if they know the secrets of the vampires, we can make as many as we want until we’ve killed all of them.”
“And then what?” Khepri asked. “Continue on until we’ve eaten or turned the entire world!”
Her anger was growing even more.
“We decided long ago to keep things small.” She reminded him. “One pack that hunted on the outskirts of human existence. If we start growing we won’t be able to control them and there will be separation, war, and total human annihilation. You get irritable when you go one day without feeding, imagine having to go millennia without it. Oblivion may be an option for them, but it’s not for the two of us.”
“I still don’t think that means we have to cater to those insipid Amazons.” He protested.
“Well you’d better find a way to accept it because that’s the only way things won’t get out of hand.” She said as they reached the cave.
“Put the prisoners in a private holding cell.” She said to one of the vampires. “The rest of you are free to hunt for the night, but stay away from the Amazon camp. We don’t want any more losses. Asteri come with me, we have more to discuss.”
Their hands were freed upon entering the small cell. Sarah had no idea how long it had taken the vampires to build their underground fortress, but she gathered that it was huge. They had gone through three corridors alone just to reach the holding chambers, which were nothing more than a series of alcoves outfitted with iron bars.
Once they were alone Sarah tested the strength of the bars. When she realized they were far too sturdy to be taken down by hand she turned her attention to Eve. The messenger sat a quietly on one of two make shit beds in the room. Her face was hard and cold.
“I know I’m probably the last person you want to be alone in a cell with right now, but if it’ll make you feel any better you can say ‘I told you so’ as many times as you want.” She said as she sat down across from the Messenger.
“I told you so.” Eve said, mechanically.
“Did it work?” Sarah asked.
“No.” She said, finally meeting her eyes. “It didn’t work because I’m not mad at you.”
“Well I sure as hell am.” Sarah said, looking down at her clasped hands. “I can’t believe she was the enemy the entire time. Jesus Christ, I nearly…”
“Nearly what?” Eve asked.
“Never mind.” Sarah said. “It makes the whole thing even more embarrassing.”
“You almost slept with her didn’t you.” Eve said with a chuckle.
“Didn’t I just say ‘never mind’?” Sarah asked incredulously before sighing. “I’ve never really had the best taste in women but this is just crazy.”
“Do you think she meant what she said?” Eve asked. “You know, about reaching some kind of agreement that won’t end in bloodshed.”
“It’s hard to say.” Sarah answered. “On the one hand she didn’t issue an invitation that would have most definitely ended with the deaths of a lot of Amazons. On the other hand she is a lying snake who doesn’t mind using any kind of tactics to gain an advantage.”
The last statement was forced out with such venom Eve almost laughed at how it contorted Sarah’s face.
“You really liked her didn’t you?” Eve asked.
“No, I liked who she was pretending to be.” Sarah replied. “I was a fucking moron who didn’t even know she was sleeping right next to a monster, EVEN THOUGH her best friend warned her about it!”
“You think of me as your best friend?” Eve asked incredulously.
Sarah looked at her with confusion. “Do you really think that’s the most pressing issue at hand?”
“No,” she agreed as she moved over to the bed to sit next to Sarah. “But I still want it confirmed. Am I your best friend, Sarah?”
Sarah was still looking at her as if she were crazy, but conceded and rolled her eyes before answering.
“Yes, you’re my best friend. Does that make you happy?” She asked.
Eve answered her with a hug.
“You’re such a fuckin softie.” Sarah said as returned the hug and gave Eve the ‘frat boy’ pat on the back.
The tender moment was interrupted by the squeak of the iron bars as they were opened by one of the vampires. They broke free from each other and Sarah stood between Eve and the creature of the night.
“Princess Khepri would like to see you now.” He said.
Both women moved toward the exit, but he put up a hand to halt them.
“Just you.” He said to Sarah.
Sarah looked back to Eve.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” She said to the time traveler. “These things aren’t human, remember? And I’ve got plenty of frustration to draw from should they even look at me the wrong way.”
Sarah nodded, but still felt worry start to grow in the pit of her stomach as she followed the vampire to what she assumed were Khepri’s quarters. The room was bathed in rich, warm colors that gave it a soft glow in the firelight. The fact that she would have thought it was sexy had the circumstances been different made her want to puke at her own ignorance. As her eyes scanned the walls and floor she made sure to keep them off of Khepri’s face. She still couldn’t bring herself to meet the other woman’s gaze out of protection of what little pride she had left.
“Kneel before the princess.” The other vampire said.
Sarah let out a chuckle without thought of suppressing it and Khepri managed to stop the man from striking her down to her knees.
“That won’t be necessary.” She said, his wrist still in her grasp. “You may leave us now.” She commanded and he obeyed.
Khepri then moved behind Sarah’s back and as soon as the door to her quarters closed she had to quickly dodge the arm that swung at her.
“Sarah!” She tried to caution as she continued to dodge and deflect her opponent’s swings. “Sarah, stop!”
But the girl wouldn’t listen. She, instead, slammed Khepri against the door giving the vampire no other choice that to throw her back. A wooden chair broke the time traveler’s fall and with a grin and a snarl she grabbed one of the pointy wooden shards and dove in again for the kill. Her momentum landed her on top of the other woman as they both struggled for control.
“Sarah, listen to me, you can’t do this!” Khepri warned as she held off the hand that was trying to drive the stake through her heart.
“Why?” Sarah asked, her eyes focused intently just above Khepri’s left breast.
If she’d been looking in the vampire’s eyes she would have seen the sadness that had taken them over at the knowledge that Sarah truly hated her enough to kill her. She pushed it down for the moment, resolving to deal with her feelings later.
“Because it won’t work.” She said before releasing the girls hand and letting gravity plunge the weapon into her chest.
There was a small twinge of pain that sent a shudder through her body, but nothing more. It was, however, enough to bring Sarah’s eyes back up to her own. They laid that way for a few seconds, both women breathing hard and staring at each other. She couldn’t tell if it was disappointment or relief that was coming from the girl’s eyes but before Sarah could decide to try anything else, Khepri finally utilized her superior strength to turn the tables and gain the upper hand. With a swiftness that knocked the wind out of Sarah she managed to remove the stake from her heart and quickly roll them both over.
Though the girl was struggling as hard as she could her resistance was barely causing any kind of strain on Khepri.
“Sarah stop, you’ll only end up hurting yourself.” She said angrily as she tried to reason with her.
“What’d you care?” Was the reply, with no signs of any abatement in the struggle.
Khepri’s anger started to flare as she looked down at the girl.
“I’m starting to wonder that myself.” She said as her fangs grew erect and Sarah’s eyes finally grew wide with fear.
Would it really be such a bad thing to just take what I want? She thought to herself. Maybe Asteri’s right. We should be lording over these humans, not trying to make peace with them. And it’s not like it would kill her; she can’t die.
With a deep rumble from the back of her throat she swiftly lowered her mouth down to Sarah’s neck, her lips dragging along the soft skin until she felt the pulse point. She smiled before nuzzling into it and letting her body melt into the one beneath her. Sarah had stopped struggling at this point and started to wonder what was going on.
“You shouldn’t have made me angry, Sarah.” She said, seduction dripping from her voice.
“What does it matter?” Sarah said in return. “You were just gonna do what your brother told you to anyway, weren’t you?”
When Khepri didn’t answer or clamp down on her neck she continued.
“What, did you think I couldn’t hear what he had to say about me? I’m human not deaf.” She paused. “The only thing I can’t figure out is what you’re going to do when you lose interest in me, seeing as how I can’t die.” She tried to stop the tear that threatened to flow free of her left eye, but was unsuccessful. “I guess once you’re done I’ll just get handed down like a rag doll.”
She was so close, her fangs needed only the smallest increase in pressure and the girl’s blood would be flowing into her mouth. And if it weren’t for that one small drop of salty liquid that fell from Sarah’s eye she would have done just that. Instead she closed her mouth and clenched her teeth in frustration as she tried to will her hunger away. She then let go of Sarah’s hands and slammed her own fists into the ground on either side of the girls head, then raised herself up to look at her.
Sarah wasn’t sure what was going on, but she’d already seen that it was useless to fight back. There was struggle, anger and something that looked like sadness in Khepri’s eyes. After what seemed like ages of staring in each other’s gaze the taller woman finally rose to her feet and moved to a table on the other side of the room. She poured herself a goblet of blood to take the edge off of her thirst; not wanting a similar episode to occur again.
Sarah got to her feet as well and tried to understand the situation. A vampire just had her fangs poised at her throat and yet she didn’t bite, not only that she moved away and settled for lukewarm blood that had been sitting around for God only knew how long. She simply couldn’t figure Khepri out.
“Why didn’t you do it?” Sarah asked, touching her unharmed neck.
The vampire princess mulled over the question for a second then quickly finished off the glass before deciding not to answer it...
“What are you, Sarah?” She asked. “Are you some kind of God or a sorceress? What other powers do you hold besides your immortality?”
She used her vampire speed and was standing behind Sarah in the blink of an eye.
“Did you put some kind of spell on me?” She said next to Sarah’s ear.
Sarah chuckled then turned to look at her.
“A spell?” She said incredulously. “What kind of spell could I possibly have cast on you? The ‘I can’t wait till she screws me over and kidnaps me’ spell? I’m not that masochistic, sweetheart.”
“Don’t give me your jokes right now; you know damn well what I’m talking about.” She said, lightly tapping a finger into her shoulder. “You make me… feel. There’s something about you that makes me care and I don’t like it one bit.”
At this point Sarah was completely taken aback.
“I what?” She asked, her eye squinting as if it would help her better understand the situation.
Khepri stepped closer and looked first at Sarah’s throat, “Do have any idea how many times I’ve stopped myself from biting someone?” Then up to her eyes. “Not one. I have killed girls that were younger, sweeter and much more innocent than you and I didn’t so much as hesitate for a second in taking what I wanted.”
Khepri started to move closer and Sarah in turn moved back.
“You are arrogant, reckless, foul mouthed, and wildly foolish.” She’d backed Sarah against the wall, then took a moment to look her over. “What’s so special about you?”
Sarah swallowed hard and tried to remember how to breathe. She felt both insulted and commended in some way by the accusatory statements. But, in the end, when she thought about how to answer Khepri’s last question a sadness came over her.
“Nothing.” She said sadly as much to the other woman as to herself. “Nothing, I’m just an arrogant, reckless, foul mouthed fool who was too blind to know she was being played.”
There was not spite in the words, just truth and acceptance. It was then Khepri realized just how much trouble she was in. She liked the girl. Truly liked her; and not just despite all of these faults, but because of them too. And though Sarah probably didn’t know it yet, she now held the most powerful hand. The vampire backed away and turned to face the door.
“You should go.” She said. “It’s nearly sunrise and we have a great deal to talk about tomorrow.”
For the first time the entire evening Sarah actually didn’t argue. She walked quickly to the door so she could exit before anymore tears of defeat could fall, but Khepri spoke once more as she reached for the handle to the door.
“You were wrong. This whole thing would be much easier if there were nothing special about you.” She said to the girls back. “But you were wrong.”
Rada had been perched in a tree for at least an hour after all the vampires had returned to the cave. The first few rays of the sun were starting to cascade into the forest and she decided it was time to make a run for the camp. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but any information she could give the Amazons would surely help.
As soon as she reached the gate she put her hands up in the symbol of peace that Sarah had showed her back in Japa in case she decided to visit. Two Amazons peeked out from behind the wall and pointed arrows straight at her heart.
“Who are you and why are you trespassing on Amazon land?” One of them asked.
“My name is Rada.” She said, wondering how good her idea of coming to see the Amazons was. “Sarah and Eve are my friends. We met back in Japa.”
The two guards looked at each other, then one of them addressed her again.
“Take your weapons off of your body and return your hands above your head.”
“Oh crap.” Rada said, as she did their bidding.
Once all of her weapons were removed the gate was open and four Amazons moved toward her slowly. Three of them were carrying swords and stakes, one was carrying chains.
“Hey, wait a minute.” She said. “I’m coming here as a friend, I have information about where those people took Sarah and Eve!”
One of the Amazons put a sword to her throat as the other presumed to secure her hands.
“The Queen will decide whether you are a friend or not.” Said the one with the sword.
Rada rolled her eyes and spoke softly to herself. “You’re gonna owe me big time for this one, Sarah.”
She followed the Amazons to a well guarded hut and was ushered in to speak to a tall dark haired woman.
“Kneel before the queen.” One of the Amazons said.
Again, Rada did what she was told with an eye roll.
“Who are you and what is your purpose here?” Varia asked.
“Well I already explained that, but I guess I can go through it one more time.” She said standing back up. “My name is Rada and I am a friend of Sarah and Eve. I met them in Japa, right before they came to stay with you.”
“Why have you come here?” Varia asked.
“Sarah told me that I could visit, so that’s what I came to do. I arrived last night and saw them being taken away by those people and I followed them before coming here.” She explained.
“And how do we know you’re not one of them?” Varia asked. “How can we be sure that you’re not a vampire?”
“Look, beautiful, I don’t know what you’re talking about now, but I can assure you that I’m not with the group that took my friends. I’m here to find a way to get them out safely and you can either help me with that or let me go.”
“By the gods, you’re as bad as she is.” Varia said, referring to Sarah. “Where is the cave?”
“About an hour south of here, but it’s hidden pretty well.” Rada answered. “It has a lot of these symbols on the outside.”
She said looking around the room. As Varia’s eyes followed her she immediately understood. The vampires were holed up in an Amazon cave. The Queen thought for a moment about their options. They could go in now and try to perform a rescue under cover of daylight. Though they still didn’t have the mirrors, most of the vampires wouldn’t be able to follow them if they made it out of the cave. Or she could wait to see of Sarah came back as they said she would and risk the chance that the vampire was lying. Of course if she was lying, both Eve and Sarah were likely dead anyway. With a sigh she decided to hold out until they knew for sure Sarah wasn’t coming back.
“Take her to the holding cell with the other prisoner.” She ordered.
“Wait a minute, what have I done?” Rada protested. “I’m trying to help you, you crazy bitch.”
All of the guards around her put their weapons to her throat and Varia glared back. She then gestured for her to be taken away and Rada growled in frustration.
Once inside the jail she was released from her bonds and unceremoniously shoved inside.
“Hey kidnapper, we’ve got a real treat for you.” One of the Amazons said. “This one could be a vampire.”
Arsen looked his new cellmate over as the guards left them alone. “Does vampire mean foreigner?” He asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine, man.” She said taking a seat next to him. “You try to kidnap one of these bitches?”
“Yeah, but that obviously didn’t work out so well.” He answered.
Rada chuckled as she looked him over.
“Did they do that to your back?” She asked.
“Yeah.” He said, looking over his shoulder as if he could see what she was talking about. “I normally don’t mind scratches on my back from women, but these hookers don’t exactly do things like the other females I’ve met.” He reached out a hand. “My name’s Arsen.”
“Rada.” She said grasping his forearm.
“Well Rada, get comfy.” He said. “Cuz from what I can tell they aren’t going to be seeing to us any time soon.”
“Don’t worry, my friend Sarah will get us out of this…” She said, then as an afterthought. “Somehow.”
“Wait a minute, you’re friends with Sarah?” He asked and received a nod from the Slav. “Now that’s one crazy hooker. She’ll either get us out of this, or end up killing everyone.”
Sarah awoke abruptly to the sound of the squeaky door being opened by Khepri and Asteri. She stood up quickly, not sure exactly what was going on and Eve quickly followed suit. The vampire princess then addressed her.
“I’ve set up some fruit and water in my private quarters. I know you must be hungry and we have a lot to discuss if I’m to have you back in the Amazon camp tonight.” The last part was meant for Sarah alone.
Sarah simply looked to Eve who nodded. They followed Khepri to her quarters and saw that Asteri would be joining them as well. He lounged lazily in one of the chairs, looking utterly bored and bothered by the entire ordeal. Khepri took the seat next to him and motioned for the other women to sit on the other side of the table. Asteri started the dialogue after noting the stubbornness emanated from Sarah’s face as she sat down and crossed her arms.
“So, it would seem that you Amazons were planning on causing quite a stir within our ranks what with your plan to kill us and all.” He looked more at Sarah than Eve. “Your knowledge of our kind gives you a chance at negotiation rather than annihilation, so you should be quite pleased that you’re still alive right now.”
One side of Sarah’s mouth turned up at his arrogance and her eyebrows rose in mock surprise. He was bullshitting her all the way. Asteri knew that the vampires’ best chance for survival depended on them pulling off a surprise night time attack. They lost that chance because of Khepri and now had to be on the defensive. If anyone in the room had the upper hand on the situation it was Sarah. She allowed her body to relax into the chair after reaching for a grape and popping it in her mouth.
“Let’s get a couple of things straight before we go any further here.” She said. “First off, I am not an Amazon. Second my knowledge of your kind gives you a chance at negotiations, not us. And the only reason you have that is because Khepri was smart enough to see the consequences of an attack. If anything happens to Eve or myself the Amazons will come at you full force and they know exactly the best way to do that. You are beholden to us Asteri, and you don’t act well enough to make me believe it’s the other way around.”
Asteri was fuming. How dare this human defy and humiliate him! He dug his nails into the arms of his chair to keep from bounding over the table and throttling her. As Khepri noticed his anger she quickly tried to remedy the situation.
“Sarah a great many Amazons would have died had the vampires been allowed to attack last night. Let’s not forget that you’ve been shown a great kindness, and it might be in your best interest not to look a gift horse in the mouth.” She warned.
Sarah studied her. There was almost a pleading in her eyes and for a split second she was thankful for what Khepri had done last night.
“What do you want?” She asked, getting to the point.
Khepri took a deep breath and offered up the peace that she’d made Asteri agree to the night before.
“The vampires can be a great ally to the Amazons. We could defend their borders from enemies or hostile travelers if they promised not to attack. Obviously as a condition of the peace we would want to keep all those we capture for food, and would require complete silence from the Amazons as far as the weaknesses of our people are concerned.”
Sarah looked to Eve. Her eyes showed both anger and concern.
“That would be a start.” Sarah said as she looked back to Khepri.
“A start?” Asteri asked, leaning forward.
“Yes, a start.” Sarah answered. “You see if I’m keeping up with the math correctly three Amazons have gone missing from the tribe in the last few months. We know one of those is with the slavers, which means the other two likely fell victim to your ‘people’. This is going to have to be reconciled and a simple gesture to take on some border patrol ain’t gonna cut it.”
Asteri stood and pounded his fists into the table before Khepri could stand to grab him by the shoulder.
“Calm down or I will kick you out of this meeting myself.” She whispered in his ear. “You know she’s right about having the upper hand here. Let’s just see what else she wants.”
He gritted his teeth as he looked at Sarah with deadly ferocity while he lowered back into his chair. Khepri was tense when she sat down and looked back to the girl.
Please tone down your ego, Sarah. You’ve made your point. She thought to herself.
“What do you suggest we do as recompense for the two Amazons?” She asked calmly.
“Luckily for you, my suggestion for peace would be mutually beneficial.” She looked to Khepri hopefully; this proposal would be a bit more of a stretch. “As you know, the Amazons are having a little trouble with slavers right now. One of the sisters has been captured and more potentially could be if the assholes get their way. If the tribe tried to take them on with their limited forces it would really spread them thin, BUT if they were to receive help from the vampires, freeing the slaves would be a walk in the park. And honestly it works out well for everybody. Your people get to feed as much as they want on the slave traders and their hired thugs, and the Amazons get to take back their sister while sleeping better knowing that they won’t be hunted for that reason for at least a little while.”
“And I suppose our forces would make up the first wave in the attack?” Asteri asked skeptically.
“It makes more sense to do it that way.” Sarah said. “The slavers don’t know how to kill your people. As long as they are careful to dodge the wooden arrows, no harm should come to them.”
“And how do we know your little warrior women aren’t going to pull out the stakes after we’ve done all the dirty work?” He asked.
“You don’t.” Sarah answered. “Just like we don’t know that your brood won’t go for our jugulars once the slavers are taken care of. Unfortunately we’re just going to have to have a little faith in each other.”
Khepri looked between Sarah and Asteri. It almost seemed as if she had sold him on the idea. He sat back in his chair and stroked his chin before finally addressing his sister.
“A belly full of slaver blood does sound appetizing. What do you think?”
“I think we can agree to your terms.” She said to Sarah. “The question is will the Amazon Queen?”
“That would be the meeting where I enter as the underdog.” She said. “But I’m pretty good at arguing enough to get my way.”
Khepri smiled at her before she could stop herself and Sarah looked away in an effort to quash the butterflies that were starting to build in her stomach.
“It’s settled then.” Khepri said, somewhat saddened by Sarah’s disconnection. “You will be released as soon as you’re ready to go back to the camp, and Eve will stay here to make sure you come back.”
They all stood to adjourn the meeting and Khepri couldn’t stop the words before they left her mouth.
“I’d like to see you alone before you set off, Sarah. If that’s alright.” She said with trepidation.
When Sarah nodded Khepri looked to her brother.
“Would you mind escorting Eve back to her cell?”
“Of course.” He said with a sigh as he gently grabbed Eve’s bicep and led her. “It’s not as if I haven’t always dreamed about being a lowly prison guard.”
Once they both were on the other side of the door he spoke candidly to the messenger while they walked.
“You do know the only reason one of our groups isn’t dead yet is because those two have a thing for each other, right?” He asked nonchalantly.
“It’s not all that surprising.” Eve said. “I’d be willing to bet that nearly every war and peace was brought on by some kind of childish hormone.”
He looked at her quizzically and smiled.
The tension was thick in Khepri’s quarters as the two women looked at each other. The vampire knew it would be her duty to break the silence, but she’d forgotten altogether what she wanted to say as she studied the girl in hopes for some kind of hint as to what she was feeling.
Sarah finally broke the silence herself. “You wanted to talk to me?”
It wasn’t filled with sarcasm or annoyance, but tentativeness and trepidation. It was endearing to the older woman. This girl could face off with her brother and not bat an eyelash, but put her alone in a room with someone that she has feelings for and she became meek as a kitten. Knowing that she now had the upper hand gave Khepri the confidence not only to speak, but to move in closer to the girl.
“If the Amazons don’t agree to this peace we may find ourselves on opposite sides of the battle.”
As she moved in closer she could hear Sarah’s heart start to beat faster.
“Yeah, well as far as I know neither one of us can die so it looks to be a pretty long battle no matter who has the most casualties.” Sarah tried to joke as she pulled her eyes away yet again.
“I won’t fight you Sarah.” She said, raising a hand to the girl’s cheek causing her to look back up into her own. “I know you probably won’t believe this, but I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I already have.”
Sarah felt like she could swim for hours in the blue eyes that looked down into hers. And for a second she allowed herself that small pleasure. But when Khepri slowly started to lower her face for a kiss Sarah remembered the ones that occurred on the night she’d found out about all the lies, and it caused her to pull Khepri’s hand away.
“You’ve got to stop this whole ‘hot vampire seduction’ thing.” She said. “I’ll admit it may be one of my top five sexual fantasies, but it’s not gonna happen. I know you can tell that I have feelings for you, but I don’t want them, and if there is one part of me that’s stronger than my libido, it’s my pride. You lied to me Khepri. A peace treaty may patch things up with the Amazons, but I’m not going to allow myself to get caught up again in someone who betrayed me.”
Khepri looked at the ground and swallowed what little pride she had left.
“You talked earlier about the fact that we’d have to have faith in each other if we are to come together to face the slavers.” She looked back up at Sarah. “If we can accomplish that, maybe one day there will be a chance for you to have enough faith in me to at least start again with a friendship.”
“Let’s just start with getting the treaty accepted by the Amazons.” She said, a hint of hope in her voice. “That’s where you’re going to have to have faith in me.”
“I do.” The vampire said as she moved in close enough to whisper it in Sarah’s ear, then walked past her to open the door.
Sarah took a deep breath and mentally prepared herself for the fight she knew she was about to have with Varia.
To be continued…
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