Home > Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(11)

Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(11)
Author: H.M. Ward

Kahli felt her body slacken though her mind resisted. She felt his voice wind its way into her, deep inside her body, into her mind. She wanted to do as he asked, but part of her resisted, trying to force his presence out of her thoughts. It was like she melted into him. Kahli no longer knew her desires from his. His blood felt warm on her hands. Her revulsion to him, to his blood slowly faded. Every muscle in her body had been tense, pushing against Will, trying to escape from him. But when he spoke her name, things changed. She stopped fighting. Kahli slackened in the snow, allowing the frozen flakes to press into her back, through the sheer dress.

Will released her and stood, brushing himself off. Others were watching, so he was careful. “Get up.”

Kahli rose. Will shoved her toward more guards who were waiting by the door. They grabbed her, tightening their fat fists around her slender arms. As soon as Will released the girl, the compulsion stopped and things were as they had been before. Rage shot through her body as she glared at him. She didn’t remember why she stood up, what he said that made her compliant enough to walk back inside. The last thing she was aware of, Kahli had been looking at the runes on his side. She glared at him, at the hole she left in his side. She didn’t care what she saw marked on his chest. There was no way they were alike, runes or not.

Will accepted that he was trapped, and she never would. Kahli would rather die than have a vampire bite her neck.


Later that night, Miriam was asked to clean Kahli up a second time. She was less gentle this time, tossing the girl into a steaming bath and waiting for her to finish. “I can’t believe you stabbed Will. He meant you no harm.”

Kahli didn’t respond, though she disagreed. Stabbing him didn’t sit right with her, but she didn’t know why. Miriam continued to scold the girl for everything she could think of, including ruining her gown, running barefoot in the snow, and taunting the Queen. Overall, Kahli had a horrible day. Exhaustion was pulling at her, and she wanted nothing more than to be left alone to fall asleep, but that wasn’t the way things worked here. Humans were food, up at all hours of the day to allow the vamps to chew on them. Kahli cringed. She wondered if she would be forced to a feeding now.

Miriam snapped her fingers at Kahli, telling her to follow the large woman through the maidens’ rooms. She laid out some extra blankets for Kahli and warned her, “No one has patience like Will. If you alienate him, you don’t stand a chance. Choose your enemies wisely, Kahli.”

There were four beds in the room. The one directly across from her was occupied. The other two were empty at the moment. Miriam walked away, leaving Kahli alone with the girl in the dark. Looking at the soft bed, Kahli sat down hard on the side and buried her face in her hands.

She’d assumed the other girl was sleeping, but Cassie spoke, “Long day?”

Kahli lifted her eyes. Cassie propped herself up on an elbow, staring. “Yeah. You could say that.”

“Is it true? Were you a wild human? Everyone was talking about it, but Missy and Gene didn’t believe it. They said there was no way a human could survive in the wild, never mind a woman.” Cassie’s questions were earnest. Her long dark hair fell over her shoulder as she waited, practically holding her breath for Kahli’s answer.

Kahli laid back on her bed, and pulled the blankets up. She was slow to reply, uncertain of the girl. There’d never been anyone to talk to. Kahli was used to keeping her thoughts in her head, but she knew she needed friends here, alliances.

Her voice was soft, “I did survive on my own, in the wild. I killed a pack of wolves before I ran out of luck and a Tracker found me. He sold me to Reggie, who gave me to the Queen.”

Cassie gasped. “You killed a wolf? With your bare hands?”

Kahli smiled. Cassie was cute. She had no idea what she was asking. At least it seemed that way. Kahli propped herself up on her side. “Not really. I used a knife.” Cassie’s jaw hung open. “I was careless and they cornered me.”

“Still,” Cassie commented, “that’s unbelievable.” Her voice filled with awe.

Kahli had a thought that was burning in her mind. She’d seen that Will was caught between the Queen and Reggie. He also appeared to be a Tracker, which Reggie seemed to know and the Queen didn’t. Pressing her lips into a thin line, she asked, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” Cassie sat up in bed. The room was chilly. Frost lined the window panes. Ornate iron grillwork cast a shadow over the window. It was a cage, not a bedroom.

“What’s Will to the Queen? Do they…” she wasn’t sure what she was asking. And she didn’t know why she was asking it. It troubled her. Will could have hurt her, he could have inflicted as much damaged as she did—or more—but he held his punches. She didn’t understand why. After fighting the wolves off with him, he knew she could take a hit. But he tried to be careful with her. He let her take out her rage on his body without a second thought. She didn’t understand him. He was cruel. And kind. And trapped.

Cassie snorted, covering her mouth with her hand quickly to stifle the sound, “No! Of course not. That’s forbidden.”

“Pretend I’m completely ignorant, here, Cassie. What’s forbidden?” It had been alluded to, but no one gave her details.

“Everything. No physical relationships between humans and vamps. Period. It weakens the bloodlines and makes us more anemic than we already are.”

“What do you mean?” Kahli asked, sitting up straighter in her bed. Moonlight painted pale patches on the floor.

“Blood isn’t what it used to be. Humans were stronger once. Our blood was different. We didn’t hemorrhage if a vamp bit us. We could even be changed at one point, and become one of them. But now, it’s not possible. Our blood is so weak, if they bite us we’ll bleed to death. Your running and stabbing probably scared the hell out of them earlier. If one of us falls and skins a knee, we’re in the infirmary for a week, trying to get patched up. Meanwhile you were running around with glass in your hand, stabbing Will out of all people.” She glared at Kahli for a moment. “If he wasn’t okay, I wouldn’t be talking to you. I figured that you must be frightened and didn’t know which way was up. Stabbing Will was stupid. He’s the only one who helps us around here.”

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry,” she said. And she was sorry; she was sorry that it bothered Cassie, but Kahli wasn’t sorry that she stabbed him. Not exactly. “Go on… Please.”

Cassie watched her in the silvery light as if deciding something. Kahli must have passed a test or something, because Cassie kept talking, “There were too many years of arranged marriages, too many people marrying cousins, and it happened. We grew anemic. The vamps blood supply had gotten so precarious that they’d do anything to fix it.”

“That’s where the Bane came from?”

Cassie snorted again, “The Bane. Who told you about them?” Kahli shrugged. Maybe they didn’t know what Will was. A memory lit up in her mind, he told her that stuff about the Bane thinking he wasn’t going to see her again. Kahli decided not to say anything. And Cassie got one thing right, Kahli didn’t know which way was up. “Yes, they were supposed to be the end-all and fix everything, but it didn’t work. Instead they ended up turning vamp. Vampires need human blood to survive. Not much good it did them. The Bane died off for the most part. Now there is just us, the farms, and you—the last wild human.”

Kahli shook her head, “It can’t be true. I can’t be the last one.” But Kahli hadn’t seen anyone, not another soul in nearly a decade. The only people she’d interacted with were Trackers. And interacted wasn’t the right word. She killed them, searching for information they never had.

“Well, you are. They are all hoping that your blood is stronger. No doubt that’s the reason they didn’t kill you. Will on the other hand—”

Kahli cut her off, “Why would they punish Will?”

Cassie laid back in her bed, staring at the ceiling, “They’re vampires. Why do they do anything?”


The night passed painfully slow. Kahli wondered if Will was punished because of her actions. She waited for him to come to her room the following day, but he didn’t. Kahli was quiet and kept to herself, overhearing snip-its of conversations that were usually about her. The only person who would sit with her was Cassie.

Cassie was long and lean. She had the type of figure that always seemed thin. Kahli wished her h*ps were that narrow. Ever since they filled out, she kept bumping into things, not expecting them to curve quite so much. Walking through a palace made her more aware of how different she was. No one else looked like her. The Queens pointed words about her looks were accurate. Kahli was an oddity. As another day came and went, Kahli grew nervous. She didn’t know what to expect, but she thought the vampires would want her blood quickly. When they didn’t call for her, it made her nervous. When Will didn’t show up the next day, she felt sick. What if they killed him because of her? Everyone except Cassie gave her nasty looks. Missy, when she finally came to bed at night, spoke to Gene in hardly-hushed voices about Kahli, and how everything she touched turned to ash. There was no one who wanted to know her. She was a pariah, and Missy worked hard to keep it that way with her constantly gossiping lips. Cassie had no patience for Missy. She completely blew off the other girl’s glares and warnings.

Cassie sat down on a sofa next to Kahli in the sitting room. Three girls had their heads together, glancing at Kahli and laughing quietly. She’d been ignoring them, but now she just wanted to walk over and punch them. According to Cassie, a punch could kill them, so she behaved herself.

“So, I figured you’re probably worried about getting called,” Cassie tucked her feet under her on the sofa. She wore a pair of silk pants and a lacy top. She was very striking, pale skin and dark hair.

Confusion pinched her face, although she thought she understood, “Called?”

“Yeah, from a vamp—probably the Queen—for a feeding.” Cassie sounded like she was talking about the weather. Feedings were part of life for her for so long that she didn’t really think about it anymore. There were so many other places Cassie could have ended up. The palace was a blessing for someone like her. She didn’t really understand why Kahli wanted to leave. The weather alone was enough to make people afraid of venturing outside.

“Oh,” Kahli’s heart sank. She didn’t want to think about it. Every time the thought surfaced, she shoved it back down. “Yeah, I wasn’t dwelling on it.”

Cassie studied the side of Kahli’s face, the high lines of her cheekbones, the smooth skin with a light dusting of sunshine that had tanned her skin. She wondered what it must have been like to be strong and live on her own. That was a feeling she’d never know. The last time she’d been to a feeding was over a week ago and she nearly bled-out. They waited longer to call her back this time.

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