“Can we rest for a moment?” I asked, my feet aching.

“Why not?” Seth smiled with that crazy grin of his. “Sit, relax and enjoy the view for a moment or two. I am in no rush.”

Dropping to the ground, I watched as Seth sauntered away, his long arms swinging loosely by his sides. Isidor sat beside me, but Murphy and Potter remained standing, never taking their eyes off the three other werewolves that stayed close to Seth. I looked down at the sea of giant red rocks that spread away into the distance as far as the eyes could see.

But they were more than just rocks. I could see that they were homes - houses - where the Lycanthrope lived and slept. This is where they shared their secret lives with one another. The rocks had roughly-shaped holes gouged into them to form doors and windows. And in between the rows of these odd-looking houses were pathways. Lanterns hung from wooden poles that had been fixed into the hard red rock, and from where I sat, they twinkled back at me like the lights of any great city at night. I could see rock pools and streams, and far away in the distance I could see what looked like two rugged snow-capped mountains. Mountains within a mountain - that would be impossible right?

“What are those mountains called?” I asked, pointing to them.

“They’re glaciers!” Seth said.

“Glaciers!” I sighed catching my breath. “They’re incredible.”

“We call them the Twins, and unlike yours above, ours aren’t melting,” Seth added almost spitefully. Then hunkering down beside me, he looked into my eyes. At first he felt too close and it made me feel uncomfortable, like some stranger pressing themselves too close to you in a overcrowded Tube train. I cringed and wanted to jump away from him, but he looked into my eyes with his, and I no longer felt repulsed by him. If he had reached out for me, I wouldn’t have stopped him, I would have let him wrap his long bony arms about me and hold me tight. As I stared back into his eyes, I felt a sudden and painful longing for him – a lustfulness like I had never felt before. I wanted him to touch me - to take me. And even though somewhere in my mind a voice was screaming, ‘Run Kiera! Run!’, I put my hand out as if to grab for him and pull him close. Then my mind was throwing up images of what he truly wanted to do to me. Despite these visions, and in them I could see him hurting me - torturing me, I still wanted him. Reaching out to pull him closer, I was suddenly yanked to my feet and snatched away. At once the spell-like trance that Jack Seth had placed me under was broken, I was no longer looking into his mad stare but into Potter’s eyes.

“I think we’re done with the sightseeing tour, don’t you?” he said, shaking me gently as if to wake me from a deep sleep. Then realising what Seth had almost done to me - I understood his true evilness. But more importantly, I now understood what Potter had meant, when he had explained how Jack Seth the serial killer had tricked his victims into going with him. Once he had them under his spell - stare - they were his playthings and he could do to them whatever it was his depraved heart desired. Looking back at him, he grinned at me and ran the tip of his tongue over his cracked lips. I then knew that I should be scared of him - very scared.

Keeping me close by his side, Potter led me away from the edge of the plateau as we set off again behind Seth and the wolves. But this time, we worked our way downwards - towards that beautiful but strange city made out of red rock and dust.

Chapter Twenty-Seven


As we followed Jack Seth down into the depths of the huge cavern, I would look ahead, and for as far as my eyes could see it was awash with vast swathes of red rock. These were interspersed with huge craters and vast canyons that stretched way off into the distance.

The path that we walked had been carved into the side of the rock. It wound itself around the inside of the mountain. We followed it down, following the lights that glowed dimly ahead of us. The smell of the air inside the mountain reminded me of the summer barbeques I had shared with my parents as a child - for as we grew closer to the city below, I could smell the scent of meat being cooked over hot coals. The smells were mouth-watering, and I suddenly realised that the last thing I’d eaten had been the rabbit served-up by Potter beneath the overhang.

We continued to spiral downwards and as my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I was sure that I could see packs of the Lycanthrope roaming about below as they went about their business in their city. It was only as we drew nearer to those lights, that I realised how many of the Lycanthrope there were - I could see hundreds - no thousands - of the creatures. Some bounded around the narrow streets as wolves and others in their human form. But however they chose to live - as wolf or man, each of them was unnaturally big.

As we neared the bottom of the winding path, Seth and his companions quickened their pace. Something didn’t seem quite right, but I couldn’t understand what it was that had raised my suspicions. I glanced at Isidor and he had sensed something too as I caught him sniffing at the air.

Glancing up into the highest reaches of the mountain, I screwed-up my eyes and stared into the darkness. It almost seemed to hang above us like a black cloud. Unlike shadows and dimly lit corners and crevices, the darkness almost seemed to be alive as if it were breathing.

Potter sensed it too, for as we stepped from the path and stood before the vast stone city that stretched before us, he grabbed my arm and pulled me close.

“Something’s wrong…” he began, but before he’d finished, a deep booming sound came from above.

I glanced up anxiously to see hundreds of Vampyrus swooping out of the darkness. Their black leather-looking wings pounded the air, and it was those that made the booming sound. They hovered above us in their true Vampyrus form, black-haired, turned-up snouts, pointed ears and mouths blood-red and full of razor-sharp fangs. We were surrounded and I glanced at Murphy as some of the Vampyrus soared above us.

“Well, well, well!” came a voice from the shadows. “Who do we have here?” Phillips grinned, as he swooped out of the shadows and landed before us.

Isidor tore his crossbow from his back in a flash of shadows and pointed it at Phillips. Seeing this, Phillips looked at Isidor with a pretend look of pain on his face. Then looking at us all, he smiled and said, “My dear friends, why is it that every time we meet, one of you wants to try and kill me? It’s not very nice, you know!” he grinned.

Remaining silent and unflinching, we stared at Phillips as Isidor continued to aim his crossbow at him.

“You can’t win,” Phillips gloated, and unlike Luke’s scars, his hadn’t started to heal. The burns that ravaged his face still looked raw and painful. “Look around you. You’re surrounded!” Then almost skipping like a delirious child, he began to count the Vampyrus that hovered above our heads.

“One! Two! Three…Oh what’s the point…there’s hundreds of them!” he roared. And I couldn’t help but notice that he seemed even more insane than I’d remembered him to be.

Before I knew what was happening, Isidor had sped across the clearing and had his crossbow pressed firmly against Phillips’ right temple. Without showing the slightest flicker of fear, Phillips began to chuckle insanely and his scarred lips twisted upwards. Looking around, I could see why he wasn’t the slightest bit concerned by Isidor’s heroics. Not only were we surrounded by the Vampyrus from above, the Lycanthrope had appeared in the hundreds and stood growling at us from deep within the back of their throats. Their yellow eyes lit up the cavern, and their howling made the very ground vibrate beneath us. On seeing them, I took a step closer to Potter.

Realising the situation was desperate, Isidor looked over at Murphy, hoping, I guess, for some sign of leadership - a sign as what to do next. But Murphy looked beat. Seeing this, Isidor lowered his weapon. One of the Lycanthrope strode forward on his long spindle like legs, bent down, and snatched the crossbow from Isidor’s hands.

Stepping towards Murphy, Phillips looked at him with fake concern in his eyes and said, “What has happened to you? You look terrible, old man.”

Ignoring him, Murphy looked cautiously at us. Our eyes met, and I knew by the look in them that he had given up. I couldn’t bear to see him like that, so I turned away.

“Restrain him,” Phillips said to one of the Lycanthrope that stood close by. They came forward in three long strides, and just like Seth, their hands and feet looked more like giant paws. He had long hair that hung down his back like dreadlocks. Taking some chains from a loop on his torn jeans, he bound Murphy’s wrists together. The chains were heavy and made of thick metal.

Jack Seth, who had stood quietly to one side, stepped towards Murphy and said, “I’m sorry, old friend, they arrived just before you did and offered me a better deal.”

“Oh yeah, and what was that?” Potter seethed.

“In return for handing you all over to them, they leave me and my race in peace when they storm the Earth.”

“Why you double-crossing…” Isidor started to shout.

“I had no choice,” Seth suddenly shouted. “He promised that if I gave you up, the Vampyrus would leave us alone!”

“And you believed him?” Potter cried.

Pretending to be hurt, Phillips said, “What do you mean? What are you trying to say? That I’m not to be trusted?”

Ignoring him, Potter continued to shout at Seth. “Do you really believe that once we’re all dead, he’s going to stick to his word? How many of the Lycanthrope are left? A thousand - two at the most? Well there are millions of us – there are millions of Vampyrus living in The Hollows and nearly as many now living above ground. They’ve managed to worm themselves into positions within human society – positions that will help them launch their attack against humans, and once they’ve finished with them, they’ll come looking for you. And with half of the human race turned into vampires, what chance do you think you will stand, Jack Seth?”

For a moment, Seth’s eyes narrowed as he studied Potter, as if giving what he had been told some serious thought. Then, shrugging, he said, “I have my own people to think of. My own city to protect.”

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