Home > Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(8)

Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(8)
Author: K.M. Shea

I took a step sideways. Flapper-Dress peeled her lips back, revealing slightly elongated, sharpened fang teeth. “You were told to leave, rat-blood.”

What do I do? Death by fang, or traitor?

“The Drake Family will accept your pledge of servitude.” The deep, rich voice made me freeze in my tracks, and fear quivered in my stomach.

The Drake Family?

Chapter Five

Hazel

I, along with all the other vampires in the room, stared at the very back of the room. Lounging on a leather office chair placed behind an imposing desk on top of a raised platform was Killian Drake.

His dark hair looked black in the dim assembly hall lighting, though it was stylishly mussed on the top and cut short on the sides. His strong jawline, full lips, and high cheekbones made him a top predator—not because vampires valued appearances, although they did—but because he could swindle humans to do whatever he wanted with a wicked grin. His skin was pale like all vampires, but he didn’t have the gaunt pallor some of his fellows did. Instead he reminded me of pure, unblemished snow.

But what terrified me most was how modern he looked. His hair, obviously, but unlike the other vampires, he was dressed in a designer suit that was not only outrageously expensive, but also showed just how informed he was on current trends.

An informed vampire was the most dangerous sort—even more so than a hungry and mad one.

Killian pushed up a dark eyebrow as he stared imperiously down at me. “A pet wizard sounds amusing—even one so weak as you, Adept Medeis.”

A cold sweat dripped down the side of my forehead. I had made a grave miscalculation.

I hadn’t dreamed Killian Drake—the vampire Eminent of the Midwest—would be present. He usually only emerged to frighten the Midwest Regional Committee of Magic, or to beat his opponents into submission.

Why was he here? What had the janitor said the meeting was for again?

No one—not even the other vampires—moved a muscle, which was a really, really bad sign because it meant they were also scared.

But what else could I do?

Survive. Live to fight another day, because being a servant to the Drake Family means I could still survive—hopefully long enough to kick Mason out—even if it means serving a figurative demon.

I inhaled, but started to lower myself to one knee.

“Come closer, Adept Medeis,” Killian ordered in his smokey voice that had the faintest trace of a British accent. “You should see the eyes of your new master as you swear fealty.”

Barefoot, I shuffled down the velvet carpet runner, stopping at the base of the platform.

This close to Killian I could see his eyes were such a dark red they were almost black—the same black as oblivion. He yawned, revealing his vampire fangs, and I managed not to openly shudder.

I knelt on the cold marble and stared up at Killian’s black tie—unable to look him in the face.

A woman stood at the base of the stairs that led onto the platform. She had tawny brown skin, dark brown hair that was pulled back into a no-nonsense braid, and wore a pantsuit that was most likely the same expensive designer as Killian. She was tall and leggy, so it only took her about three steps to reach me.

“Do you know the pledge?” she asked in a lowered voice.

It took me three tries before I was able to swallow my spit. “No.”

She pulled a leather book on a stand placed off to the side. Each page she turned wheezed out a puff of dust, but it only took her a few moments before she found what she was looking for. “Here.” She tapped a paragraph of text and handed the book off to me.

The weight of the book made my arms buckle, and it was hand written in ink so faded it was almost illegible, but I stubbornly clung to it as I stared down at the words that would make me a Drake Family servant.

Faintly, I heard another knock on the door as Mason called out again, “I beg your pardon…please allow us to retrieve the renegade.”

This was it. I was signing my life away to a monster to escape a smaller, less powerful one.

But my parents had left me House Medeis, and my family had sacrificed themselves to see that I lived.

I would survive Killian Drake, no matter what.

I licked my lips. “I, Hazel Medeis, swear my loyalty, service, and fealty to Eminent Killian Drake, and the entirety of the Drake Family. I will not betray them under penalty of death, no matter what pain and threats I face.”

“Drake Family accepts your pledge, and in return we will see to your physical wellbeing and safety.” He said it so casually, but I swear I could feel the words echo in my bones. “And—” he said, adlibbing from the script outlined in the dusty book, “if you forsake your vows, I will personally see to it that you are dealt the most painful of deaths, and will destroy your beloved House brick by brick.”

I winced at the unnecessary threat. “I will not betray you, sir.”

“Mm.” Killian stood, making him even taller than I had imagined, and addressed the other vampires. “This will end today’s discussion. You have all wasted enough of my time proving you are unknowledgeable idiots. Find out more information on the murderer, or it will be your body I will send back to your Family Elders.”

He was off the steps and striding down the carpet runner in the blink of an eye, unnaturally fast with his vampire speed.

The woman in the pantsuit took the book from me and set it back on the stand, then indicated that I should follow Killian.

I hesitated.

“Come along, servant,” Killian called.

I darted after him, feeling every bruise forming on the bottom of my feet.

“In my day pledges were made in Latin, but those were more civilized times,” a heavily accented voice sniffed as I rushed after Killian.

Killian paused at the main entrance, cocking his head at the doors—which Mason was now timidly knocking on.

The vampire slightly narrowed his eyes, then lashed out, delivering a kick that hit both of the doors and made them crash open.

Mason must have been standing in the doors’ way, because he was sprawled on the ground, pressed against the far wall with a stunned look of shock and pain pasted on his face.

He saw me and scrambled to his feet, then froze. Paused halfway in the process of standing, he flicked his eyes in Killian Drake’s direction and gulped loudly.

Killian didn’t even look at him. He merely adjusted his cufflinks, then started down the hallway.

Remembering how I had struggled with the heavy doors, I glanced at them as I passed through, but was careful to stay close to Killian’s shadow, aware Mason was once again staring at me.

The dark-haired female vampire followed behind me, pausing to close the doors. She stared at Mason and his goons for several long moments, then put her right hand in a deep pocket of her suitcoat.

Mason and the House Tellier wizards bowed, but they didn’t even dare mumble as they fled down the hallway.

The message had been clear enough—I was off limits. For now.

I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, relief, or trauma of the night, but when I followed Killian out to the motorcade, I didn’t question the female vampire ushering me into a black SUV that she drove.

I fell asleep, and didn’t wake up until we were in the underground parking lot of the Drake Family’s estate.

The female vampire led me to what looked like a windowless coat closet and told me to wait there, then left.

My eyes felt like heavy weights, and the events of the night threatened to set in as I sat down on a wooden bench positioned by the darkened doorway. I shut my eyes for what felt like just a moment, but when I opened them again, I was lying flat on a cushy couch.

I rocketed upright, gripping the back of the couch as I blinked and tried to get my bearings.

I was in what looked like a fancy sort of…parlor? There was a marble fireplace, giant windows covered with half drawn shades that seemed to block a lot of light, and there were lots of comfortable, expensive couches artfully arranged around the room, along with what looked like an original Claude Monet painting from his Water Lilies series.

The night’s events hit me like a car, and I remembered with stark clarity exactly whom I had sworn myself to, and what I was running from.

I held in a groan as I propped my elbows up on my legs and bent slightly so I could rub my eyes. I’d been betrayed…but why?

Mason had been perfectly happy with my parents as the House Medeis Adepts. Was he really that enraged with my lack of magic?

But that was improbable. House Medeis was by far the most peaceful wizarding House in the region—and not just when my parents ran it. Medeis had always been considered peaceful—or pacifists by the more violent minded, like House Tellier.

No one joined House Medeis unless they shared the same ideals—under no circumstances were you to take a life, you had to be slow to fight, and on and on. No one who joined House Medeis would want to overthrow me. And not just because it would do a lot of damage to the actual House, but because fighting was the exact opposite of what House Medeis stood for!

My eyes were threatening to sting with tears, but I held them back by releasing the groan I’d been holding in for an equally long time.

In less than a month I’d lost my parents and my House. And the only way I could survive was to pledge myself to the vampires.

My life officially sucked.

“Oh, so you’re awake?”

I removed my thumbs from my eyelids and peered up at a thin woman with bright red hair and smile lines so deep they gave her a perpetual grin. She was maybe in her mid-40s, and wore a white shirt with a black skirt and apron that made her look a bit like a waiter, but her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows and she had yellow banana earrings hanging from the lobes of her ears.

“I’m Debra.” She cheerfully extended her hand.

When I took it she pumped my arm a few times. “Hazel,” I said.

“Well, Hazel, seeing how you arrived in the middle of the night and seemed a mite exhausted, we let you sleep a bit.” Debra looked me up and down as she put her hands on her hips.

“Thank you,” I said. “What time is it?”

   
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