Chapter 16

 H.M. Ward

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The King's guard left right after they questioned Cassie. They took off into the night, trying to track down the girl - Kahli. Anger flooded through the King's body. He hadn't gotten enough of her blood to completely restore his former abilities. Most of the precious liquid had spilled on the floor, and failed to go down his throat. Thinking about it, he could still feel the burn of her blood. The potency was familiar, reminding him of the last time he had this opportunity. It had slipped away before he could do anything. Resolve flooded his veins. Not again. This might be his last chance. There was no room for mistakes, not this time. There were no more wild humans. Kahli was the last and he intended to possess her.
The storm set in swiftly, making it difficult to see, but the King urged the Trackers on. He sat in his vehicle, as it was gently rocked by the howling wind. The royal caravan was a massive tank-like truck with enough supplies to cross the unforgiving terrain. Traveling was no longer a treat. Due to the climate, constant wind, and frozen tundra, traveling was dismal at best.
Every time he wandered from the palace, the King knew that he risked his life. There was no blood out here. Killing livestock wasn't enough to sustain him, not that there was much to be found. The world and all its glory had disappeared, leaving him trapped in this frozen hell, and forcing a life on him that he detested. Before the flood, the King didn't mind that he wasn't the ruling sovereign, the one royal with all the power. That belonged to Sophia, and he was okay with it. It gave her all the power, but it also gave her all the problems. Accepting his role as royal arm-candy made his life easier. There was always enough blood, and he was beyond reproach, elevated slightly above the law due to his wife's status. It allowed him freedom that he didn't have, otherwise. Plus the wealth just agreed with him. Add to that the fact that no one tried to assassinate him on a daily basis, and the King soon learned that he achieved the best of both worlds by accepting the Queen's reign.
Back then, the King moved on his own, rarely seeing his Queen. But that wasn't the way of things anymore. Times changed. Now she was constantly there, reminding him that she was stronger, that she had the most power, and that she chose him. Sophia made it clear that if he made a single misstep, his long and glorious life would be cut short. The former freedom he knew, the advantages of being wedded to the law, were no longer palatable. The constant reminders made him restless.
If there was a time to turn on Sophia, it was now. For years, he watched Sophia wither away, her power dwindling like a dying ember. For many years, their strength was matched, but when he found a wild woman about two decades ago, things changed. The blood cured him. The blood from that woman was like nothing that they'd been able to breed. All of the years of weakness would have vanished if he hadn't lost her. Greed doomed him before. The King would not make that mistake again.
Shifting in his seat, the King watched his men through the windshield. They were trying to determine which direction the girl went, which path to follow. There were two snow mobiles and a bike. The motorcycle had spikes on the wheels that cut into the top layer of ice. As long as they kept ahead of the storm, they had at least one traceable path.
The King watched and waited, patiently planning the moment when he had Kahli in his hands again. There were so many things he wanted to do to her, but the thought of sucking every last drop of blood from her body dominated them all. There was no reason to wait this time, no need for prudency. Clenching and unclenching his fingers, the King thought about wrapping his hands around her neck and squeezing tight. The look of panic that would fill those green eyes, as he choked the life out of her was a bonus. Since he met the girl, she was defiant. No, it was beyond that - she didn't recognize him as her lord. She didn't think he was more powerful, better. Kahli would soon find out. It was a lesson that he couldn't wait to teach her. And then, with the untainted blood in his body, he could finally defeat the Queen and take over the monarchy. This was the beginning of a new life, a turning point which he intended to utilize.
A hand rapped on the glass window next to the King. The driver lowered it and the pane of glass slipped down. "We found a trail. They couldn't have gotten far, but - " the Tracker trailed off, his eyes darting to the side, not wanting to be the bearer of bad news.
The King looked at his nails, casually saying, "I could kill you now and ask someone else what's wrong." It sounded like a proper solution to a normal problem. The King sounded completely reasonable even though his statement was dripping with malice.
The Tracker swallowed hard. His skin had that sickly pallor like so many vampires had. It was too sickening to look at. The wind gusted hard, revealing more of the Tracker's face as his hood blew back and fell to his shoulders. They'd followed the vehicles to this point and then stopped. The storm was nearing rapidly. The King didn't want to wait.
"Both vehicles fell," the Tracker explained. "The snow mobile crashed. We found the remains along with one of the vamps from the garage. He was killed before the fall. Impaled."
"How do you know he was dead before? He could have been impaled from the fall. He could have helped her escape." The King glanced up at the man.
The Tracker shook his head. "No, the wound is old. Looks like the wound was executed the same way as the vamp in the garage. She took him to try and throw us off. His scent covered hers in the beginning, but she lost too much blood, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to track her."
"And?" the King snapped, sensing there was more bad news.
"Her vehicle flipped. It was decimated," hesitantly, he added, "and the bike that was following her went down as well."
The King didn't react. He stared into the Tracker's face, his voice perfectly calm, "You're saying they're both dead?"
"No, sir. There are no bodies. And if the wolves got them, there'd be blood everywhere, even if they were dragged off." The Tracker turned and looked at the place where the accident occurred before looking back at the King. "We think they're alive, or were, when they left here. They can't be far, traveling on foot and injured."
The wind gusted and blew the dry snow into the King's face. Wiping it with the back of his hand, he said, "Just find them," and put the window back up.
If he'd had more of Kahli's blood, there would be no reason for Trackers. He simply would have known where she was. The blood bond made her an extension of his body. It would have been like finding a finger or a toe. No one really pays attention to them, they're just there, and their location is felt. But, the King hadn't had enough of her blood to feel that fully. The only thing the King could sense was a faint flickering, like a ghost limb, telling him that she still breathed.
The driver gave him a towel, but the King swatted it away. After everything he did, if the girl died and he wasn't there - the thought made the King's insides boil. That stupid, petulant girl, he thought. And William helped her, no doubt. The Queen's pet, young William, probably took her to find shelter from the storm. It complicated things. The King had to make certain that if he didn't find Kahli - if he wasn't able to drink more of her blood - that someone else took the blame for his indulgence. Three dead girls from the Queen's private store would not go unpunished.
He tapped his long, tapered fingers together, staring at nothing, and thought that Will was the perfect person.