"It must be done!" the Dramen Queen shrieked, gouging out furrows in the arms of her throne with her onyx claws. Splinters flew from the wooden chair, scattered by her ferocity.
"But your Majesty, they will surely kill any messenger we send," a wicked smile crossed the ancient advisor's face as the solution struck her. She began to chuckle and stretched her wings in self satisfaction, gloating at her own cleverness.
"And what, pray tell, has you so amused Lyth?" the Queen snapped in irritation.
"May I suggest sending the half-breed scum your Majesty? Whilst she may have our dragon and human characteristics the blood of every other species in the Hell Dimensions makes her too volatile, not to mention worthless."
The Queen sighed to herself, pleased at last to be rid of the embarrassing half-breed. She fixed crimson eyes on her advisor as she scratched at a black flaking scale, the iridescence nearly gone from her once gleaming nude body. "So let it be done, I want that thing out of my sight by nightfall."
The darkness of her target called to her, drew her closer to her destination, as if it knew tonight was the night. The street lamps in this area of Haed City were smashed and unlit; none of its human inhabitants dared walk the streets at this hour of night, afraid of what prowled the area. They thought it was a gang, but it was something far worse. Something that to their minds only existed in stories and nightmares - vampires.
Although humans had long ago left Earth, they had not left their oldest predators behind. Vampires, Demons, Weres, and Elves had come with them, disguised as respectable people only to vanish as soon as they reached the new planet in order to create their own supernatural communities that had been abundant on Earth.
She sauntered through the streets, fearing nothing, fearing no one. She had a mission tonight and she intended to succeed. So what if half the intention of sending her out tonight was to get her killed, she had come prepared.
Though viewed as the scum of the earth, she had learnt from experience that she was near impossible to kill. This knowledge, kept to herself in self preservation, led to an air of confidence she would never have otherwise projected.
Having hidden behind a pillar in the Great Hall of the Dramen Mansion she knew exactly why she had been chosen. The Dramens were desperate, but they needed someone expendable in case their messenger of good will ended up dead.
The stench of blood and fear hit her as she rounded the corner. Graffiti was everywhere in this part of the city, but it was conspicuously absent here. The rats and other vermin that infested the dark are were missing as well. Here, in what the supernatural community had named Death Alley, she would lay out the offer of the Dramens and hope to live another night.
She knew the dangers of entering their turf; Dramens were seen as beneath the 'pure blooded' vampires due to their mixed nature, and this had sometimes led to clashes between some of the older and more stubborn members of both species.
Looking neither right nor left she stalked down the alley, ignoring the looks of interest from the men leaning against the wall. They were little more than boys to her, lacking in any real experience of life. They had yet to experience the dangers and pleasure that she had, the thrill of battle and orgasm-inducing scent of freshly spilt blood.
She knew that this demeaning courier mission was a way to get rid of her, the Dramens fought few wars so there was little chance for her to be killed in one of those. Perfectly able to care for herself, yet having not yet reached her nineteenth year - the Dramen age of majority - she was forced to follow orders from those who despised her. She consoled herself with the fact that in two months she would be free to join Lucifer's forces and begin her career as a warrior.
As she progressed through the gathered vampires, a female grasped at a male's chest possessively and hissed, warning her rival away from what was hers.
She smirked, oh how the night would change if the proposal was accepted. As she reached the end of the alley she felt a presence at her back. She whirled, blade in hand, only to be confronted with the very man she wanted. She inclined her head in greeting, allowing her weapon hand to drop to her side, still holding the small dagger.
The man before her was little more than a boy. Looking to be just entering his twenties, he had an assurance and cockiness about him that only the young and naive can possess, yet there was also an air of authority and danger. He stood a good head taller than she did, a rarity for her as she was well over the average height for a human female, and his wide frame seemed to fill the entire width of the alley.
His eyes glinted wickedly as a half smile twitched at the corner of his mouth, "And to what might we owe the pleasure of your company?" he enquired smoothly, hidden menace flashing in his near-black eyes.
She allowed silence to reign as she stretched, shedding her clothes and allowing her scales to be seen as two dragon-like wings unfurled from her back. Someone gasped as she cocked a hip before bowing low. Although lacking the tail that many of the salamander-like fire demons possessed, she had learnt to compensate for the lack and moved fluidly.
"The Dramens offer their aid to the vampires when all are in trouble. All races of Hell know that the Dramens are dying out, due to our lack of males. Yet you, the vampires, are also dwindling in numbers. You women are few and we, the Dramens offer ourselves to you so that we both might live on," she stood motionless, waiting for a reaction, waiting for an attack. It came from behind, as these things so often do.
"My children will not be half blood scum, bitch!" a fiery-haired vampire roared at her before charging.
Before he connected with her she lowered her shoulder and rammed him in the stomach. As he doubled over, wheezing, she placed her hand on his shoulder and walked him backwards until his back was flat against the red brick wall.
She leaned in close and whispered in his ear, "Being a half-blood gives you so much more power sweetheart." Without giving him time to respond, she sunk her fangs into his neck and tore through his throat, spitting the flesh onto the floor. She rounded on the stunned vampires, eyes dancing mercilessly as she wiped the blood from her chin, daring them to attack her.
At the silence that greeted her she whirled, clothing herself once more to blend in with the human population. Turning away she began her journey back to the Mansion, only to run into the solid wall of a chest. Stepping back she glowered up, only to find herself looking up into the black eyes of the charismatic vampire from earlier.
"Don't look at me like that Your Highness," she spat angrily. "He started it."
"Of that there is no doubt," he replied calmly. "You and I have much to discuss about this proposal of the Dramens." He paused and gazed at her pointedly, cocking an eyebrow. "And perhaps a taste of what to expect during our mating".
She was frozen to the spot by the last comment; she wasn't supposed to get involved in the whole mating process. There was no way to know what kind of monster she might produce. This boy, the ruler of the vampires, The Lord of the Night, had just suggested that they sleep together and she hadn't denied him.
She was so shocked that she failed to notice the change in scenery until his voice snapped her out of her daze. "I trust you find my home acceptable?"
Blinking rapidly she did a double take as she peered around the room. Various staircases, both leading up and down, coiled around each other like snakes in one corner of the room. A tiny kitchen hugged the other with only a microwave and small fridge visible, which she assumed contained emergency blood rations. However, the most imposing item by far was the huge black leather corner sofa, dominating one side of the room. She saw the vampire king lounging there, looking like the cat that got the cream, and the canary too.
Running options through her mind she realised he must have taken her through a Hell portal and brought her to his private chambers in the lowest levels of Hell. As leader of Haed's vampire coven he was entitled to these rooms and, if the look on his face didn't confirm her suspicions, the distinct tang of sulphur in the air was enough to convince her that she was in trouble.
She knew panicking would only make the situation worse, but she had to damp down her fear in order to breathe properly. This was not good. She had no way of leaving unless he let her go as the odds were that there was a portal block within his rooms. She slowly spun round to look at the room, noting that there were no windows and only one door that she could escape through. This was really not good.
His arms encircled her waist and drew her against his hard, muscular chest, startling her so that her whole body tensed. Past events flashed before her eyes. All the things that still caused her to scream in her sleep when the nightmares decided to haunt her loomed large before her eyes.
Her breath caught in her throat and her heart pounded, bloody sweat beaded on her forehead and she started to shake. She bit her lip to stop the sob that caught in her throat, but not before she was turned towards his chest. His strong hands stroked her hair and back, soothing her as no one ever had before.
It could have been minutes, it could have been hours, she had no way of discerning time as she was comforted by the stranger. Slowly her breathing returned to normal and her heart began to slow to its familiar rhythm. Pushing against his chest, she looked up into her abductor's eyes, afraid of what she might find there.
"What happened to you little one?" he murmured softly to her, still stroking her hair.
She flinched visibly and took a steadying breath. "A lot of things a long time ago that I'd prefer to not talk about."
He looked at her steadily before releasing her with a shake of his head. Unsure of what to do she moved away from him as soon as she was free, wary of the contact he'd had with her.
"So my little one, I seem to have failed as a host once again. My name is Jared." He looked at her with a question in his eyes.
"I have no name, at least not one I can remember, so they call me whatever they like."
She saw Jared blink rapidly as if to assimilate the new information, clearly taken aback by her revelation. "No name at all?"
"Not that I can tell, though I have a suspicion that one of my tattoos may be my name," she replied, not daring to meet his eyes.
Jared raised an eyebrow. She knew it sounded ridiculous, but she had learnt to trust her gut instincts. "Then in that case, do you object being Little One?"
She shrugged. She'd been called far worse than that in her time.
"Then that's settled," he smiled. It would have been reassuring had it not been for the fangs that poked at his lower lip.
He moved away from her and sprawled across the sofa, once again giving the impression of a big cat, perfectly content after a kill. She felt one of the various Were bloodlines in her stir in admiration, and she had to fight the urge to become a cat just so she could curl up on his chest.
When he motioned for her to join him she had to fight the urge even more. She slid slowly onto the sofa, as far away from him as possible and looked at anything in the room but him.
Jared was having none of it. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her until she lay against his body, trapping her in his iron embrace. He nuzzled her hair and she caught the look of amazement on his face as he marvelled at its colour. So few Dramens were blonde and her hair had a unique sunlight like quality to it, with gold and brown and blonde all woven together to form an almost halo around her face.
He inhaled her scent and all but purred. "Such an interesting and delightful gift the Dramens sent me. You look almost good enough to eat."
She tensed, his words cutting through the haze that seemed to fog her mind whenever he touched her. Driving her elbow into his abdomen she flung herself out of his embrace and across the room.
Jared hissed in pain and annoyance. Shock registered on his features as he found himself faced with the most unlikely sight. Instead of finding his Little One covered in scales with her wings unfurled, he was faced with a hissing demon wreathed in fire.
Her eyes blazed red with black flecks throughout the iris; black flames swirled around in a protective ring and also licked across her skin. She hissed once again and he saw her fangs, three inches long and ready for battle.
Jared exhaled slowly and she eyed him warily, ready to explode into an attack if necessary. He sat down on the sofa once more and she saw him force his fangs to retract back into his gums. "Little One," he began softly, wary of spooking her. "What is the meaning of all this?"
"I wasn't meant for you, for any of you!" she shrilled. "I'm not pure Dramen and therefore I'm not deemed fit to be included in the offer!" She bit back a sob and told herself that now was not the time to break down. She whirled away so he wouldn't see the tears that threatened to fall. She fell silent as she fought to calm herself.
When she trusted her voice again, she went on. "Our Queen was the one meant to mate with you, not me. I was just the sodding messenger. My blood is so mixed no one would take me in except the Dramens, but even they saw me as scum. I'm not supposed to be here Your Majesty, I'm not good enough." A stunned silence claimed the room as she stared at her feet in shame, not daring to meet his eyes. The flames around her flickered and died, her anger no longer feeding them.
Jared stared for a minute. A look of confusion crossed his face, before dawning to realisation. "Wait."
She raised her head from where it hung dejectedly, staring at the floor, eyes glistening with unshed tears. "Why?"
"I can give you a reason to prove that you are far more than you ever thought," Jared murmured softly. At the inquisitive look she gave he shook his head, "follow me and I'll tell you."
She stood stock still as he strode towards the door. He glanced over his shoulder, eyes burning with hidden desire. Smirking, he made an offhand remark and delighted at the snarl that twisted her lips. "You may want to wear a bit more than your scales where we're going".