The witch is in a dark building, filled with screeching sounds and intermittent explosions of light. Dressed in skintight leather trews and a skimpy vest, she dances provocatively atop a table with a redheaded friend. Together they tease scores of males.
Drunken from spirits, Carrow leisurely begins unfastening her top. One button, then the next. The crowd cheers wildly, throwing colored necklaces at her, urging her on. She holds the edges of her loosed top together, shimmying forward, working the males into a furor.
When their calls grow deafening, she proudly displays her breasts, shoulders back and chin lifted.
Malkom jerked upright on his cot, waking into a fresh rage. How could she let those men leer at her body like that? Why taunt their desires?
Just as she had with him!
He rose, pacing his cell. Yet another new memory of the witch's. Though they'd begun coming each time he slept, full-blown scenes like this were rare - but always similar. Dimly lit buildings, blaring sounds, her drunken carousing.
Most of the time, there were only impressions, words whispered in his mind. The witch had oft repeated to herself, Think of ruby, while experiencing a keen longing. What did that mean? What was this thing that she yearned for so badly? A ruby? A stone?
He wanted to know so he could deprive her of it, as part of his vengeance.
"Another bad dream, vemon?" the strange male intoned. "It's a hazard of drinking blood."
Days ago, Malkom had matched the voice to a being in the cell diagonal from his - a vampire called Lothaire, one with light red eyes, which meant he was fallen - a crazed Horde vampire.
Like the Viceroy and the master.
Spurred to slaughter that vampire, Malkom had barreled his head against the glass, too late forgetting his horns had been cut. Blood had run from his head. Hadn't mattered. He'd launched himself against the glass over and over until the mortals had knocked him unconscious again.
Upon Malkom's awakening, Lothaire had ridiculed him: "Fool. You sleep excessively for someone who has so much to learn."
Then the cycle had repeated.
Yet soon, Malkom had decided that the vampire was right. He did have much to learn. He needed to discover a way to reach the witch and escape with her. And he needed to speak Anglish as well as he understood it, to unlock her language more "uickly than he'd ever anticipated.
So he'd stopped fighting and started listening to those around him, observing all he could. At times, he could just make out the witch's voice. She was definitely within this building.
So near ... She'd given him a taste of her body, he'd taken tastes of her blood, and he needed more - even as he hated her. While he'd been ready to lay down his life for her, had surrendered himself to his worst enemy, she'd coldly plotted his downfall.
Now Lothaire asked, "What did you dream of this time?"
Malkom paced in front of the glass, fully healed now and even more desperate to contend with that vampire, any vampire. Desperate for freedom.
Lothaire sighed. "And still you want to kill me? When I know what you are - and where you can find more of your kind?"
More of his kind? Exactly how many were made? "What do you want with me, leech?" Malkom's words came haltingly, but he'd nearly recovered his understanding of this language. As Carrow's memories had begun to accumulate with his own, they'd acted like a puzzle key in his mind.
"You call me leech, when you've just woken from a blood-borne dream? You're as much a vampire as I."
"I am no vampire," he grated, even as his mind flashed to that searing image of the witch's breast pierced by his fangs. The crimson drops ... "I've spent my life ending things like you."
"Your old life, perhaps. But this is a new existence for you. And you need information to survive."
"Information only you can give me?" Malkom sneered.
"Precisely. In exchange for your allegiance once we escape."
"Allegiance? The last vampire who sought my loyalty fared ill," Malkom said.
"What did you do to him?"
"He lived to see his blood and most of his flesh painting the walls." The Viceroy had pleaded to die, beseeching Malkom with bloody tears. "Watch that you do not end up like him."
"You're only impressing me. And whetting my appetite."
"I swear allegiance to no one."
"That's your first mistake in our world, ScArba."
Malkom clenched his fists at that word. "You act as if freedom is nigh."
"Perhaps yours. You see, I took something from someone very powerful. Once the waters recede, she's going to come for it. She will unleash hell - since I cannot."
Whatever that meant.
"Now that you're healed, the mortals will begin studying you," Lothaire said. "Whenever you leave your cell, there's a chance for escape. Of course, there's a certainty of pain."
Malkom worked to block him out, wondering why he'd ever answered the vampire in the first place.
Because he intrigued me with his knowledge of what I am.
"Perhaps if you broke free, you could be reunited with your pretty witch?"
At that, Malkom lunged to the glass. "What do you know of her? Where is she?"
"Carrow Graie is close."
"Where? Damn you, tell me how to get to her!"
"The guards approach. They're going to take either you or me."
If Malkom could leave this cell, would he see her? Since he was able to speak so much more freely, he needed to communicate with her. To tell her that he thought she was more of a whore than his own mother. To inform her that he was going to enslave her, put her in chains, and fuck her tender body raw.
At the thought, he grew hard as stone.
Now he felt relief that he hadn't taken her before. If he'd claimed her that last day, his seed could have been "uickening inside her right now. Trapped in this cell, he would have no control over the offspring she carried.
The idea of her growing big with his babe...
He slammed his fist into the wall, hating her anew for how badly he still wanted that.
Suddenly he smelled the fog with which they sedated him, spreading through the air.
"Looks like it's to be you, Scarba."
Finally Malkom might determine why they'd gone to such pains to capture him. And he could begin his search for Carrow.
"Watch out for Chase, the one with the gloves," Lothaire advised. "He is much faster than he appears."
By the time the mortal guards entered to shackle his hands behind his back, Malkom could scarcely lift his head or shuffle his feet. But he wouldn't have fought them anyway. He wanted out of this place.
Down the corridor they led him. He hazily observed more immortals, species after species -
From the corner of his eye, he spied pale skin and jet-black hair.
He swung his head around. The witch. She is here. A prisoner like him, standing motionless in the center of a cell.
Though weakened, he thrashed against his bonds. Taking the mortals by surprise, he lurched for the glass that separated her from him.
For a split second, they stared at each other. Even after everything, he desired her, craved her to a blistering degree. "You lied to me! Betrayed me."
Her face lost even more color, and she stepped closer. "Malkom, please - "
"I will come for you!" he bellowed, fighting the mortals. "Make you pay!" He heard a shot and tensed too late. A dart filled him with poison.
He collapsed to his back, keeping her in his sights even as his vision grew dim....
When Malkom awakened, he was strapped to a metal table. The dried blood had been cleaned from his body, and he'd been clad in new clothes, a soldier's trews and shirt like the ones he'd worn before.
Strangers - enemies - had undressed him while he was unconscious. Another indignity the witch would pay for. He strained against his bonds, but they were unbreakable.
A door slid open and the tall man who'd observed Malkom's capture entered the room. Hair hung over his face, seemingly by design. He was dressed all in black - and he wore gloves. Chase.
"Why have you taken me?" Malkom demanded, renewing his efforts to get free. He was burning to return and seize the witch. She was here, for some reason imprisoned as he was.
Perhaps she'd failed to bring back the next male her masters had dispatched her to deceive.
"All in good time, Slaine." Sweat beaded Chase's upper lip, and his pupils were dilated. Malkom scented a sickly sweet smell, knew the man was taking some kind of drug.
When a dark-haired woman in a white coat entered, Chase told her, "His blood's been drawn. The second your lab's done, you'll destroy it."
"But his orders - "
"Destroy it!" Chase snapped.
Once the woman collected the glass tubes and left, Malkom said, "What do you want with me?"
"There's much interest in you. In your genesis." The man seemed both fascinated and disgusted by Malkom. "Today, you're going to tell me all about it. And tomorrow, my physicians will examine you, to see what makes you faster, stronger."
"So you can make more like me?"
"So we can make sure your kind is never miscreated again. By anyone." Chase had a demented gleam in his bloodshot eyes that even the Viceroy hadn't displayed.
Because the Viceroy had never despised the demons he'd tortured. He hadn't cared about them enough to.
"Do you think we're the only ones, mortal or otherwise, who have been seeking you?" Chase asked. "There are only four of your kind known. We have to ac"uire all of you, if for no other reason than to prevent someone else from doing it. You have proven the easiest to catch, since you can't trace."
The others could? Was it still possible for him? "Release me. Fight me yourself." Though the mortal appeared unwell, he was tall, his build rangy but strong.
Chase ignored him. "We'll start with the most basic "uestion. Who made you?"
Malkom gave no answer. Instead he studied the ceiling above him, imagining the expression on the witch's beautiful face as he tormented her, possessing her body while stealing her blood.
In a low tone, Chase commanded, "Answer me."
"You do not frighten me," Malkom said. "I know much about torture."
"Then I'm about to teach you more."