Mirceo got busy, tracing into the fray. Soon they were tied at six each. Corpses began to pile up, body parts littering the fight zone.

“Watch where you’re stepping! Don’t trip over a head.”

“Speaking of head”—Mirceo decapitated a hulking Wendigo—“I’ll drink from you that way every night for eternity.”

As Caspion swung a killing blow, he muttered, “Shouldn’t have happened.”

“Surely you don’t regret that pleasure.” Mirceo slashed at another Wendigo, dropping it.

The demon felled his as well. “Not many males would regret a blowjob. Doesn’t mean I want to repeat it with you.”


Soon the creatures surrounded them. Mirceo and Caspion drew in, back to back, as they often had when outnumbered in brawls. Mirceo could always predict the demon’s sallies and evasive movements, falling into a rhythm with him.

Even as he fought on, Caspion said, “What happened doesn’t change anything. I can’t let it.”

“It changes everything! You’ve come with me four times. Safe to say that you lust for me as much as I do you. Anything else can be managed.” I can learn to be what you need. Mirceo slew a large male.

Caspion hacked at a particularly belligerent one. “You mean I can be managed.” Dead Wendigos lay scattered; the living clambered over the massacred to reach them.


“We both can. Aren’t relationships made of compromise?” Slash.

Slice. “What would a spoiled prince like you know about compromise? When have you ever had to give an inch on anything?”

Swing. “I know I’m ready to for you.”

“Above all things”—jab—“I want a faithful mate.” Caspion dodged razor claws, then struck. “You might think you can be true, but you’re too young to know for certain.”

Mirceo pivoted, searching for another target. Caspion shifted with him, doing the same. Headless Wendigos twitched all around them—easily more than a hundred—and no more charged them.

Caspion flicked gore from his blade, then sheathed his weapon. From his jacket, he produced a folded tarp. When he spread it over the sand, Mirceo stepped on a corner to keep it from flying off.

With a grunt of thanks, Caspion hauled a Wendigo carcass over it.

“Ah, I see.” Mirceo cleaned and sheathed his sword. “You plan to use them as gulg food.” Thankful of his gloves, he grabbed the closest body and tossed it beside the other.

As they labored, Caspion said, “You did good back there.”

Mirceo couldn’t stop his grin. His plan to impress the demon was working!

After collecting a pile of headless corpses, he and Caspion each took a corner of the tarp and started dragging the mass over the sands. The stench was nauseating.

“Listen for a knocking sound,” Caspion said as they headed deeper into the valley, ever closer to the fortress. “It’s a gulg’s jawbone opening.”


“And remember that you can’t trace. It’s so second-nature you’ll try it reflexively.”

“I understand. Just for reference, if I need to kill a gulg, where do I strike?”

“You don’t. Its brain is supposed to be far below the surface.”

Tremors began to vibrate Mirceo’s boots. To his right? He snatched a corpse by a wrist and ankle, awaiting a target.


A giant fang-filled mouth stretched wide, emitting rancid air. A long, serpentine tongue curled in the gulg’s slimy maw. Mirceo tossed the Wendigo, and the jaws snapped shut. The gulg descended once more.

“Good job,” Caspion called. They increased their pace. The next gulg was on Caspion’s side. He hurled another Wendigo.

SNAP! The mouth slammed closed.

One gulg after another surfaced, each appeased by its meal.

“This is working!” Mirceo tossed another offering. “Where does their territory end?”

“See those red boulders?”

Mirceo squinted against the wind and made out a line of boulders some distance away. He glanced back at the few Wendigos left on the tarp. “We’ll run out.”

Nod. “Get ready to haul ass. You stay on me like my godsdamned shadow, vampire.”

Mirceo grinned behind his scarf. “Eternally, demon.”

As soon as Caspion used the last of their bait, he and Mirceo took off. They veered right, then left, dodging yawning mouths and snapping jaws.

Pumping his arms, Mirceo was right behind the demon, following him into chaos.

A wind storm had kicked up, gusting sand everywhere. Towering dust devils twisted. All around them: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. The winds distorted the sounds. Dunes crested and toppled over, waves on a sea of tan.

Can’t see him!

Caspion yelled, “They’re fucking everywhere! Stay with me!”

Mirceo followed the demon’s voice. “I’m behind you!” The gulg mouths outnumbered patches of ground. He and Caspion leapt and careened, trying to predict the creatures’ movements.

Caspion kept glancing back. “Faster, vampire!”

“Eyes forward, demon!”

“We’re almost clear—” KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. Caspion’s foot landed atop a gulg just as it opened. He teetered on the lip, arms pinwheeling. Before Mirceo could reach Caspion, a tongue seized the demon’s leg and yanked.

Caspion disappeared inside the thing!

Mirceo vaulted to the fang-lined edge. In the large gullet, the demon supported himself with one leg; his other was wedged against the opposite side, holding the creature’s jaw open. Caspion had already used his claws to sever the gulg’s tongue.