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Lunar Dark: Prologue

Lunar Dark: Prologue


Intended for a mature audience!

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Lunar Dark Prologue

Before midnight, September 29, 2016

Even the destitute and homeless preferred life over death. Leland knew that as he hunted for his next easy meal. He’d learned how to identify those who were sick or fading and close to crossing the River Styx.

It might be a crime to cheat Death, but the Reaper never refused a soul because it arrived early. Santa Muerte escorted them across the veil just the same.

Only those without coins failed to cross into the underworld. It might be best to avoid the truly lost souls. It was far too late for that advice for Leland Shade.

Even if he recognized the macabre specter of his existence, Leland preferred his miserable life over the nothingness Death would bring. He was no better than the homeless and the destitute in that regard.

At least, for the last couple of hundred years, that was true. He occasionally questioned if it was still the case. Did he still cling to life?

As he prowled the late-night streets, seeking enough blood to sustain his existence, he reflected upon exactly how true his desire to live still was. Leland thought he wanted to live. He kept hunting night after night, didn’t he?

He preferred feeding on fading immortals. The lingering magic in their blood boosted his own abilities and kept the thirst at bay longer. Barring that, humans and large livestock were excellent sources of blood, even if they lacked the high he received from immortals.

Was the hunt a desire to live or simply the habit of a lengthy existence?

If he found an immortal desiring to cross over or perhaps involved in nefarious criminal enterprises, he could play the role of the white knight and dispense a dark brand of mercy or justice. That might grant his immortal existence more meaning.

Leland Mystic Shade

Leland smirked at that thought. Was he Batman? No, he was a vampire hunting for a meal, not a dark knight, fighting criminals in the streets. If he wasn’t the good guy in his own story, how the hell could he be the white knight in someone else’s? There was serious irony there.

He frowned as he turned down an alley on the seedier side of the city, continuing his search. The alley curved beyond an overflowing dumpster, and Leland carefully picked his way around the trash so he could see what lay beyond. At five feet eleven inches tall, he could see over the heads of most people, but the mountain of garbage atop the trash bin blocked even a taller man’s view.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be amusing that he was the villain in his own biography. There might be aspects of his life that were immutable, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t be a better man. He actively strove for that goal each night.

The dragon necromancer, known in the immortal realm simply as Blade, spoke those words to him when they crossed paths once, decades ago. The man walked a dark path as black, if not worse, than what Leland trod. His words still rang true. Leland could always choose to be a better man.

Perfect was an impossibility. Leland didn’t strive for that. Rather, seeking an improved version of the man he was each night was the worthy, if sometimes unattainable, goal. He couldn’t always be a better version of himself, but he wouldn’t throw in the towel simply because he backslid occasionally. No, he redoubled his efforts instead.

When he stepped past the overflowing dumpster, he realized the alley was nothing more than a turnaround for the garbage truck, which was late in arriving. If it failed to arrive soon, the turnaround may be as full of refuse as the dumpster.

The homeless preferred alleys with two exit points, so they could run from the police or worse things in the dream. He scanned the space to be sure he wasn’t missing anything and turned to leave when he knew he wouldn’t feed from that avenue.

The two young vampires blocked his exit when he made his way past the dumpster, thought to interrupt his plans.

Leland sighed. It wasn’t a fair fight, even if it was two against one.

Dispatching them wouldn’t be easy, but in that instant, the irrefutable answer to the existential question concerning his will to live manifested itself in an ensorcelled sword.

The blade landed in his palm with an audible smack as he reached for it in the dream. He bared his fangs and allowed his full vampire guise to display for two young fools. They may as well face Dracula for all the chances they had to be victorious against the living legend of Leland Mystic Shade. He didn’t practice the sword merely for exercise.

Leland Mystic Shade

He almost laughed aloud at his internal, overly dramatic dialogue as they advanced toward him. Living legends didn’t have to scrounge for meals, give one up to defend their lives, and slink home to sleep for healing on the regular. Living legends shouldn’t be targets for arbitrary execution to gain glory in some enclave Leland never heard of.

He left off thinking and engaged in the fight. The dance of life and death once begun had only one resolution. The losers burned to ashes on the Chicago wind with the coming of the sun. Leland needed to decide if he would be a loser or remain victorious in his sad life.

His sword whirled through the evening air, meeting the blades of his adversaries. Fighting two at once took skill, and usually meant he accepted minor wounds in a bid for victory. He was immortal. He could heal.

Leland did not back away. He learned that lesson the hard way. Leaving his foes to make a report about his whereabouts or his recent hunts meant more hunters. No reports and no returning vampires struck fear in his would-be opponents, and he remained free from harassment for longer periods of time. Fighting random glory seekers while hunting for a decent meal each evening was the tradeoff for not moving away.

Chicago was home, and Leland, like many immortals, preferred to stake a claim over his territory.

A little over an hour later, he was limping into his shower to wash away the blood and grime from the fight. True to his determination to remain walking among the living, he’d won the battle of swords, but the victory was a hollow one.

His remorse was short-lived at having ended two lives. It faded away from him as the brown and red soap suds swirled around the shower drain. He hadn’t asked to be their target. The two young vampires got what they came for.

The thirst was rising fiercely, but the need for healing sleep and the coming of the dawn meant he would wait until the following evening. He only hoped he healed enough to hunt well. If not, the cattle ranch outside of town might still be safe. He hadn’t fed from the cows recently.

The thirst wouldn’t end him. It made it difficult to think straight. That was more dangerous in some respects than consuming too much or drinking from other vampires and gaining no sustenance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from blood lust, the thirst was ever more present and far more likely to get him killed. It never led to good choices. Never.

Leland sighed as he shut off the water in the shower. It didn’t matter whether it led to good or bad choices. It was simply the way things were. He would hunt following tomorrow’s interview for a new personal assistant. That would have to do.

The office functioned only if that went well. Leland had aspirations for success. His realism simply tempered them.

He skipped the towel and his toothbrush. Who would notice besides the man in his mirror if he had morning breath? It wasn’t as if his teeth would rot away. Being immortal had some advantages.

He fell into bed, allowing sleep to overtake him. He needed to heal and face another evening.

Thank you for Reading 

This episode of Lunar Dark!

This tale is coming soon to an e-reader near you! I turned this part into a video book. Check it out and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more video exclusives.-OK

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