I knocked on the door and waited for a response.
I didn’t get one. And I didn’t sense anyone inside but my ability wasn’t like knowing. I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t smell a strong scent of dragon. And every magical creature ever leaves behind a little bit of a magic trail and if a dragon lived here that was why I felt dragon. It was different from werewolf and vampire. When we were kids we used to joke we could feel the power of the mystical unicorn. The kids didn’t really know that they were sensing the magic of the other races and honestly none of them really care now. The Venatori were really shitty hunters if you asked me. They hunted like it was the dark ages – maybe it still was for them.
I knocked again hoping someone was in the shower and just didn’t hear me. But after another minute of waiting no one answered the door. I sighed as I looked one over my left shoulder and saw no one nearby. Then over my right and standing in the doorway was a familiar silhouette.
“Oink, oink?” I asked playfully.
The vampire standing in the shadow smiled showing me his toothy grin. “I felt you coming a mile away.”
“I think you are exaggerating” I said to Armande as he walked towards me with his hand against the wall. For a blind person he was more mobile than a human. The extra senses helped I’m sure.
Armande chuckled, “I felt you as soon as you crossed the street from Central Park. But that was the warning boundaries.”
I laughed. “You cheated then.”
“You are the only supernatural being who dares cross the imaginary lines without calling first.”
“The joys of modern technology eh?”
“Back in the old days we had border patrols and much smaller territories. For my power base I have more than I expected. But I think that has more to do with who my associates are rather than my power and capabilities.”
I grinned. “Cari trusts your judgement and protects your lands?”
“That and Del Figlio and of course you. My favorite meal.”
“I really am just bacon to you aren’t i?”
Armande laughed, “You even oink like a pig. Did you come for slaughter, little piggie?” His humor turned dark as I saw the blood in his eyes blinding, hiding the grey orbs that were usually there.
“Funny.” I said. “Trying to scare me?”
Armande shrugged, “Maybe, I’m just that hungry and you came into my home uninvited.”
“Are you threatening me Armande?”
He took a step back. “I would never.” He took another step back in fear.
“I’m not taking it that way Armande, there is no need to be afraid.”
There was a sigh of relief and the look on his face was less scared. But he kept his distance. “You won’t tell Il Cane of my foul tempered joke?”
I shook my head. “Do I need to?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Then we are good. Armande.” He looked at me though I knew he couldn’t see me, his eyes still red from lack of food, “Feed.” I offered him my wrist.
“What favor do you want?” He asked leery he was staring at the vein in my wrist as if he could see it pulsing, he could hear the blood rushing through my veins.
“I don’t want a favor yet. This is a peace offering.” I said.
“We have peace, Nox Sétanta. What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything for this. You are hungry and I’m here.”
He considered for a long time and I dropped my arm and he frowned. “Is the offer gone?”
“No, but I looked like an idiot holding out my arm for so long.” I joked.
He chuckled. “I will feed, but I will owe you a favor.”
I grinned. “I figured as much.” I held out my arm and Armande took it greedily. His fangs sank into my arm and I grimaced at the sharp pain followed by the complete euphoria of an addict and then there was just a pleasant feeling. It was akin to a buzz from a drink, but nothing I could be addicted to. Though I was slightly saddened by the fact that Alex would probably have a fit right now. I could hear him getting frustrated with me. What I wouldn’t give to hear him right now.
Armande let lose my arm and frowned. “You have to stop that.”
“Sorry.” I said.
“Are our favors coming to an end Nox Sétanta?”
I shrugged. I really didn’t know. “We might have to find alternatives.”
The look on Armande’s face told me there were no other alternatives. “Il Cane may seek to replace me if that is the case.”
I shrugged again. “Vampire politics. Not my business.”
“As if your word means nothing to Il Cane. You are on a first name basis with the Hound. Her son comes at your beck and call.”
“Ant is my friend.”
Armande laughed, “No one is friends with Mors Praetor just because he’s a nice guy.” He gave me a look that said he was waiting for me to challenge him. But the statement only made me sad. He followed it up by asking a question, “Why did you come here, Mors Praetor?”
“Please don’t call me that. I’m looking for the owner of a phone with a specific number that’s tied with my dragon case.”
Armande nodded towards the plain brown door. “Is this where you think it is?”
I shrugged. “It’s a dragon’s lair behind it. It’s not a coincidence, but I have no evidence of such.”
Armande nodded. “Do you wish to enter? I can’t let you do that. He is here under sanctuary.”
“I’m aware of that. But you do owe me a favor now.”
He growled. “This was your gain wasn’t it?”
I shook my head. “Actually, no I was just going to break in and see for myself what lay beyond. No one would even know I was here.”
Armande sighed, “I would.”
“Now.” I said. “I’m going to go for a walk, and you are going to go back to whatever you were doing. And when I come back you won’t know what I’m doing.”
“You’re favor is to ask me to forget I saw you today.”
I shook my head. “No. Just walk away. Plausible deniability when you come down on me for breaking the agreement you have with the rest of the community.”
“And who the fuck will hear my plea?” Armande asked with venom in his voice.
I grinned, “I would. But I’m sure Il Cane will listen as well. Or the Venatori. I’m sure they’d love to get me on some little bullshit charge and put me to death for it.”
Armande grinned and looked thoughtful for a moment then laughed, “You play a dirty game, Nox
Sétanta. I will deny that I saw you at all this day. Open the door. I want to know why the boy is seeking sanctuary from vampires.”
I nodded. “You never saw me.” I said with a grin as I wove a thin slice of air and picked the locking mechanism as if I had the key. “Stay outside the room. I’ll tell you what I see.”
Armande laughed, “Are you afraid I’m going to knock something over?”
“Actually, yes.” I confirmed.