Would You Like Brains With That?

Currently re-writing.

Portal Keepers Book 1.
A job at a café for the Undead, a ghost best friend, and an annoying handsome vampire protector. Danira has it all.

Danira isn't your average girl. For generations her family has looked after the portal that links the Realm of the Undead to the Realm of the Living, by running a cafe for the Undead that are travelling through the portal. Then news reaches Danira and her parents that the Vampire Lords want to take over control of the portal and wreak havock amoung the Realm of the Living.
An adventure of hot vampires, zombies, ghosts, mummies, and life-threatening danger is thrust upon Danira, and she must try her best to protect the Realm of the Living, by preventing the Vampire Lords from obtaining the Infinity Blade, which has the power to change the portal. As well as saving her world can Danira resist the dashing vampires that cross her path? Some are more dangerous than others.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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14. A House without a Roof and an Escape

 

“Was the town named after him then?”

“Yes, it is his final resting place. His ashes are in a crypt there.” Ridge’s reply was hard to hear with the air rushing in my ears.

“What about the second part of the clue then?” I asked.

“I do not know of any cavernous mouths in Bloodlust, but I’m sure that if we ask around, we will find what we are looking for.”

I was shivering from the cold but Ridge must have thought my shiver was one of fear. “Don’t worry I’m sure that everything will be fine. You should try and sleep. We have a long journey ahead of us.”

I nodded and closed my eyes doubting that I would be able to sleep with all the thoughts of Mum and Dad, Rex, the Vampire Lords, the Infinity Blade, Xavier and Lady Prenalla that were all bunched up in my head.

 

It seemed that I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew I was opening my eyes to find that my face was squashed on Ridge's back.

“Sorry.” I muttered, sitting up so that we weren’t touching apart from my arms around his waist.

I could hear the smile in his voice. “It doesn’t matter.”

Blinking my eyes I waited as they slowly focused on the ground that was rushing away below us. “How long was I asleep?”

“Three hours.”

“Have we stopped at all?” I wondered thinking that the horse must be getting tired.

“No, and we won’t need to.” Ridge told me.

“What? How is that possible?”

He moved his gaze from the ground to my face. “Like Rex this horse has been changed by charms and the will of others.”

“Do you mean with powers?”

Ridge nodded in reply.

“I didn’t know that Rex had been... changed.” I muttered, absently playing with the enchanted bracelet around my wrist.

Ridge didn’t comment so I was left to my thoughts. I fixed my eyes on the horizon.

“How much further is Bloodlust?” I asked ten minutes later.

“Just under six hours.”

My eyes grew wide. Oh man and my bum was hurting already.

“You said before that the vampire Bloodlust was one of the greatest vampires in history.” I recalled. “Why is that?”

Ridge coughed and said uncomfortably. “Well he probably won’t seem great to you at all, but Bloodlust was well known for hypnotising masses of humans and forcing them to do his bidding. He was one of the first vampires created.”

I nodded. “So what does the clue have to do with him?”

“’Blood was my beginning, blood was my end.’” Ridge repeated. “Bloodlust was said to have bitten his mother when he had just been born, and drank her blood. As to the ‘blood was my end’ part, Bloodlust was killed while gorging on a feast of humans. His thoughts were so focused on his prey that he didn’t sense the vampire slayers that had followed him. They staked him.”

This reminded me of the vampire slayer that had been after Ridge. “I had forgotten, but did that vampire slayer ever come after you again?”

“No, I went after him.” I saw that Ridge was smirking, and took this to mean that Ridge had killed the vampire slayer.

“I didn’t kill him, Danira.” Ridge said. “I just wiped his memory of all things supernatural.”

“That was very... kind of you.” I muttered.

“Despite what you may think, not all of us want to be killers.”

 

An hour later we had to stop because my derrière was so numb that I couldn't feel it at all. So Ridge and I walked with the horse for a while. It felt good to have my feet on the ground and to stretch my legs. Now that I was closer to, and at the same height as the horse, I could see that it seemed to have very small scales instead of hair, which made my eyes hurt when I looked at them for too long.

“See over there?” Ridge asked pointing into the horizon.

It was dark, as usual, so I had to squint. “What am I looking for?” I asked when I was unable to see anything.

“I forget that you're human sometimes.” he sighed. “There are mountains just north of where we are headed, I can see their outlines.”

We were silent for a few minutes until I said. “What did you think of Lady Prenalla?”

Ridge frowned. “I... I don’t really know what to think.”

“She is a friend of King Alandros’s but... she was creepy. I think that she is up to something.”

He nodded. “It seemed to me that she thinks of humans as mere playthings.”

“I know what you mean.” I whispered recalling what Lady Prenalla had said to me.

“I only hope that she has no other plans for us.”

Prenalla’s words resounded in my ears. Hmm you will face many a trial indeed. I had known at the time by the way she had said it that something was going to happen, and now it seemed that she may be the cause of whatever it was.

I groaned. “Why is nothing ever simple?”

 

After I had another nap, though I don’t know how I managed to fall asleep while bouncing on the saddle, we arrived at the edge of Bloodlust. In the distance I could now see the mountains that Ridge had tried to show me earlier, as well as a river that flowed maybe an hour away.

Ridge dismounted the horse and then helped me down. “Are you ready?” he asked his dark eyes on my face.

“Yes, let’s find out where this cavernous mouth is.”

I walked beside Ridge as he led the horse into the town of Bloodlust, noticing immediately that it was quieter than Gore had been, which helped me to relax slightly.

“I have a friend that lives here. We will go and see if he knows anything that may help us.” Ridge told me, eyes roaming the numerous decaying buildings that lined the street we were walking down.

“Danira!” A frantic voice cried.

I jumped in surprise and stared at Bertie who had materialised next to me. His appearance was dishevelled. “Bertie, what’s wrong?”

His eyes were wide and his voice shook as he spoke. “Thank goodness I found you! The Vampire Lords have taken your mum!”

“No,” I whispered, feeling numb. My knees crumpled and if Ridge hadn’t caught me then I would have fallen to the ground. “Why?” I demanded, a chill of fear running through me. “What happened?”

Ridge silently led us over to an alleyway where we could talk without being overheard by the other Undead that were wandering around the streets, keeping a hand on my arm in case I fell again.

Bertie was chewing his lip anxiously. “They heard that you had come to the Realm of the Undead and so kidnapped your mum. I was there when it happened. I had gone to visit you. Your dad put up a fight and even managed to kill some vampires, but then they restrained him and knocked him out before taking your mum.”

I tensed in Ridge’s grip, panic filling my body. “Do you know where she is?”

Bertie shook his head. “Somewhere in the Realm of the Undead but I’m not sure where exactly.”

I pressed a hand over my mouth and stifled a sob. Tears streamed from my closed eyes and I felt Ridge stroke my arm soothingly.

“We will find your mother, Danira.”

I looked up into Ridge’s dark determined eyes. “Yes,” I nodded, wiping my tears away. I couldn't help Mum by bawling my eyes out. “What about Dad? Have they done anything to him?” I had to force the words out and nearly choked on them. I couldn’t bear the thought of the Vampire Lords hurting my parents.

Bertie was scowling as he said. “The Vampire Lords have taken over the café and are treating your dad like a slave.”

I gritted my teeth and started shaking in anger. Bertie actually looked scared of me. Taking a deep breath I tried to calm myself down, knowing that the only thing I could do to save both my parents was to find the Infinity Blade first. “Thanks for coming to find me, and for telling me.”

He gave me a weak smile. “I’ll try and find out where the Vampire Lords are. Good luck.”

Bertie disappeared in the blink of an eye and I clenched my fists in fury and determination. I would stop them. I would stop the Vampire Lords and save Mum and Dad even if it was the last thing I did.

Ridge navigated through the streets, his hand still on my arm, until we reached a small house that didn’t have a roof. I guessed that as there wasn’t really any weather in the Realm of the Undead so it didn’t matter if any of the houses didn’t have roofs.

Ridge handed me the horse’s reins and said. “Wait here.”

I gripped the reins and watched as Ridge strode up the broken, rotten steps to the front door of the roofless house, my thoughts on my parents. He knocked on the door which was opened after what seemed like a very tense two minutes.

“Tiberius.” Ridge grinned at the yellowing mummy that answered the door.

Tiberius the mummy stared at him blankly but then a small smile appeared on his face. “Ridge.” the mummy’s voice came out husky, making me think that Tiberius had been dead a while.

Well, that and the fact that some of his yellow bandages had fallen away revealing his skeleton beneath. Tiberius turned his eyes to me and I hastily looked away. Ridge spoke in hushed tones to him, and I stroked the horse keeping my eyes on the street and the few Undead that were stumbling, in the case of the zombies and mummies, around.

Eventually Ridge called for me. “Danira, come here.”

I warily walked up to the house and stopped at the bottom of the steps, still holding the reins of the horse.

“Tiberius this is Danira. Danira, Tiberius.” Ridge said, introducing us with a flourish.

I smiled weakly at Tiberius whose beady black eyes were scrutinising me.

“We should go inside.” Tiberius said.

Ridge took the reins off me and tied them around the wooden railings that ran up to the house. “We can trust him.” he murmured to me as we went inside the house. “Tiberius is an old friend of mine.”

“Is he a member of your society?” I whispered back.

“No, but I would trust him with my life.”

We followed Tiberius into what I think was meant to be a kitchen. It was hard to tell as there were barely any furnishings at all. I stared up at the sky where the ceiling and roof was supposed to be.

“It’s airy this way.” Tiberius rasped following my gaze.

I smiled and nodded distractedly as I tried to focus on what was happening and not think about what Mum and Dad were going through.

“Please sit down.” the mummy said, taking a few awkward steps.

I sat in a wicker chair that was in surprisingly good condition and Ridge perched himself on a stool beside me.

Tiberius stayed standing. “I would offer you both something to eat or drink, but I’m afraid that I have nothing to give you.”

Ridge nodded and said. “Tiberius, have you ever heard of a cavernous mouth in Bloodlust?”

The mummy seemed to be staring at something over my shoulder as he spoke. I guessed that Ridge had explained our situation to him outside. “Hmm, perhaps, there is a cave or sorts though it leads to Bloodlust’s crypt.”

I felt my eyes grow wide.

“Bloodlust’s crypt is in a cave?” Ridge asked eagerly.

Tiberius nodded slowly. “It is the only cave I can think of in this town.”

I grinned. I couldn’t believe it! We had found it so quickly! Excellent, I was one step closer to saving Mum and Dad already!

Ridge didn’t seem so happy though. “Hmm that is a surprise.”

“It makes sense though.” I told him thinking of the clue that Lady Prenalla had given us.

He was still frowning. “It could be a trap. It seems too easy.”

Tiberius watched us silently.

“It has to be it though.” I protested.

Ridge shook his head, muttering to himself. Then he stood up. “I will go there alone and check that it is safe.”

I gaped at him. “What? We don’t have time to waste! What if someone else is on their way there now? I have to save my parents, Ridge!”

He turned to me, his features set in determination. “I know that but I won’t risk your safety. I told your father that I would look after you, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Huffing I glared at him.

“Tiberius,” Ridge said moving his attention to his friend. “Please can you make sure that Danira stays here? I shouldn’t be too long, but if I don’t return within the hour can you take Danira back through the portal?”

The mummy nodded, his eyes fixed on my furious face. Ridge left the room and Tiberius followed him. I heard a click as the door closed behind him and I gritted my teeth in anger. He had locked me in! I ran to the door and tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge.

“Uhh!” I cried in frustration and whirled around to see if there was another way that I could escape.

There was another door, but that was locked too and I hurt my shoulder when I tried to use my weight to break it open. Then my eyes fell on a pair of disgusting, discoloured curtains and my breath caught in my throat. Maybe there was a window behind them. I flinched as I pulled the curtains away but then grinned when I saw that there was indeed a window. I didn’t think I had ever been so glad to see a window, even one that streaky and grimy. The window frame was rotten which made sliding the stiff window up easy, but slightly noisy. I hoped that Tiberius’s hearing wasn’t too good, but since it seemed that he had been dead for a while I didn’t think he would have heard it. I stuck my head out of the window, and peered down to see that there was only a small drop down to a small alley which led to the street Ridge and I had walked along to get to Tiberius’s house.

Aware that if I didn’t hurry up I wouldn’t be able to see Ridge and the way that he had gone, I quickly climbed up and sat on the windowsill, which groaned under my weight, and put my legs outside before dropping down to the alley below. I stood up and brushed myself down before smiling to myself as I looked up at the window.

Got to follow Ridge! I reminded myself.

I quickly pulled my hood up and power walked to the street. I looked left and right and caught a glimpse of Ridge’s dark hair as he turned around a corner. I rushed after him, but not too fast as to alert him of my presence or to catch the attention of any of the Undead who were wandering around.

I managed to keep up with Ridge until I reached a square that was far to busy for my liking. There seemed to be a market going on and making myself as small as possible, I edged towards the nearest alleyway, trying not to catch anyone’s attention.

So it was only when I felt a cool hand on my shoulder that I knew someone had noticed me.

 

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