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Authors: Steve Feasey

Changeling: Zombie Dawn

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
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For Big Al.
Thank you for your unwavering belief and support

Contents

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE

Caliban allowed the dead body of the woman to slip from his grasp and crumple to the floor at his feet, his victim’s head hitting the hard stone with a dull thud. Unseeing eyes, already bereft of the life they once reflected, stared back at him accusingly, but he paid no attention to the reproachful look as he rose from his chair and moved towards the window. Already lost in his thoughts, he slowly drew his hand over blood-smeared lips, painting a ghastly, coppery, circus-clown’s grin across his face.

The vampire stared out on to the impenetrable curtain of grey mist that swirled and danced before him. Beyond that curtain lay the human realm, although technically he himself was in a part of the Netherworld which had been translocated here to Iceland by his former sorceress, Gwendolin. The Tower of Leroth had remained in this place ever since he’d abandoned it after the werewolf boy had killed Gwendolin and the tower’s powers had been lost along with her. But not, as the vampire had at first thought, forever. He stared out into the slow swirling mist again, his mind forming patterns and pictures in the murk.

He was in a strange mood. Mental exhaustion from planning what lay ahead had made him edgy and introspective, and a small part of him wanted nothing more than to walk out through those grey shutters, enter the human realm and disappear: to hunt and feed undetected among his prey, as he had done for centuries, and leave behind the gruelling struggle for power that he was currently involved in. It was tempting to simply vanish but he knew that it was not his destiny. He was fated for greater things. He was to be the first lord of
two
realms: the human and the demon. And he would rule them both ruthlessly. But the struggle to achieve this aim was onerous, even for a creature like himself. He had a stranglehold on the Netherworld now. Those weak and gutless demon lords – the so-called rulers of the dark realm – had all fallen to him. Now it was the turn of the humans.

Caliban’s new sorceress, Helde, had brought them here, opening a portal in the Netherworld for them to slip through. She had done so artfully, creating several decoy portals along with the one they were to use – too many for his altruistic do-gooder of a brother to check them all.

And now they were at the Tower of Leroth. Alone. Caliban had considered contacting some of his vampire brethren to join him to ensure that the tower would not be without a guard presence of some kind, but Helde had insisted that concealment was their greatest weapon, and that it should not be compromised in any way.

Helde claimed that the tower was key to their plans, that it was more than just a means of translocation and that other secrets were hidden within its walls – secrets that would help them achieve their aim of subjugating the human realm and everyone in it forever.

A sound at the door made him stiffen, and the next thing he knew the sorceress had pushed it open and stepped inside. It was unlike him to be caught unawares like this, and he inwardly cursed himself for allowing it to happen. He kept his back to her, but when he spoke the anger in his voice was obvious. ‘In future, you will knock and wait at the door until I tell you to enter. Is that clear?’ Caliban turned from the window to glare at the sorceress who stood looking back at him.

‘Is that clear?’ he repeated.

‘Yes. I am sorry. I forgot.’

She was a sight to behold. Every part of her was made up of hundreds of thousands of insects, each living creature clutching on to its neighbours to form a whole – a swarming, crawling, teeming resemblance of the human female she’d once been. She had been beautiful before they had burned her human body at the stake and Caliban thought – even in this grotesque reconstituted form – her beauty was still evident. He watched as small sections of the sorceress continuously dropped off, the insects hitting the floor with a hard little
snick!
before scurrying back to rejoin the writhing, fluid mass. Her various component parts were incapable of perfect adhesion, and this flaking-off of insects was a source of great distress to Helde: the more agitated she became, the greater the cascade of invertebrates falling from her. Judging by the flow of tiny creatures tumbling to the floor at her feet now, Caliban reasoned that her latest attempt to find the thing she was looking for had been unsuccessful.

‘You have failed again?’ he asked, knowing that the phrasing of the question was sure to ignite her ire.

‘This place!’ She threw an arm up in frustration, and Caliban could not help but smile as two fingers of the hand flew off, the insects raining down on to the floor behind her before scuttling back to their comrades. ‘It is a warren! These upper floors are not a problem. One staircase leads up, another down, and all the rooms have been searched thoroughly. But below, down in the lowest levels where all of those tunnels are cut through the rock . . .’ She shook her head. ‘There are more tunnels beneath
them
! The Shield exists. Skaleb could never have won the Demon Wars without it. The tower was too susceptible to attack otherwise. I
will
find it. It is down there somewhere.’

Skaleb had been the original owner of the tower, many centuries ago. But such history was of little concern to Caliban. The vampire sighed theatrically. ‘I tire of this fruitless searching of yours. The thing you seek is little more than a distraction from our main business.’

The sorceress shook her head. ‘I thought you would welcome the chance to protect yourself fully in this place. Especially after you were attacked within its confines so recently.’

The vampire shot her a look. He had no wish to be reminded of how the tower had been penetrated by the lycanthrope boy Trey Laporte, and how he had lost Gwendolin at the hands of the teenager. He had almost killed the boy that day . . . almost, but not quite. The lycanthrope was a thorn in the vampire’s side. Convinced by Caliban’s brother that he was the creature spoken of in an ancient legend – the key figure in thwarting the vampire in his plans to rule the human realm – the boy had an annoying habit of turning up when least expected. And so far he
had
been responsible for frustrating the vampire. He shook his head. As soon as his current plans were underway, he would make it his personal mission to remove the boy forever and put paid to the ridiculous legend.

‘Nevertheless, I feel it is taking up too much time,’ the vampire replied. ‘Gwendolin knew nothing of this “Shield”.’

‘That woman? Pah! She was an amateur. Little more than a dabbler in dark magic.’

‘She managed to learn many things about Leroth. It was she who rediscovered most of its secrets. Maybe you think too little of her.’ He paused, eyeing the sorceress. ‘Or maybe too much of yourself

‘Do not goad me, vampire. You would do well to remember who I am and what I am capable of.’

Caliban’s eyes took on a terrifying aspect, and his nostrils flared as if he could scent the blood he so adored. The vampire disappeared suddenly, reappearing directly before the sorceress. The attack was unexpected and cruel. She gasped as he plunged his hand – the real one, not his blade-fingered prosthetic appendage – into her chest, grasping her ancient heart – the heart that he had discovered and used to reanimate her. He gripped the ancient organ, squeezing it cruelly and eliciting a wail of agony from the sorceress. As his fingers squeezed, it was as if the outer glue that bound Helde together became unstuck – the trickle of insects turned into a torrent, and the sorceress seemed to melt before his eyes. Caliban leaned in, his face jammed up close to what was left of her face, and when he spoke it was in a cruel, fierce whisper.

‘I am your
master.
I brought you back from the dead and I can just as easily return you there, for good.
You,’
he squeezed the heart a little harder and another terrifying screech filled the room, ‘would do well to remember who I am and what I am capable of.’

He let go and stood back, watching as Helde’s body slowly reformed before his eyes.

The sorceress dropped to her knees, her chest heaving as she sucked in huge breaths. Eventually she looked up at the vampire.

‘You are right . . . master.’ She spat out the last word. ‘Forgive me. I forgot myself. It will not happen again.’

The vampire nodded. ‘Good,’ he said, turning away from her and walking back in the direction of his throne. He sat and imperiously raised a metal-bladed finger in the air. ‘I will give you one more day to find this Shield. After that we will turn to the matter of creating our zombie army and proceed without the Shield if need be. In case you had forgotten, I plan to take over a world. Our unleashing of the undead is the first step in achieving this, and I do not want you to be distracted. Do you understand me?’

‘Perfectly.’

‘Then let us hope that you can live up to
both
our expectations.’

Helde opened her mouth as if to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, she slowly pulled herself up off the floor, turned on her heel, and left the room.

1

Trey Laporte left the luxurious penthouse apartment where he lived with Tom and Alexa and Lucien, took the elevator to the ground floor and stepped out past the security guards at the front door into the bright daylight. He stopped and took a deep breath, glad to be outside and away from the stuffy, air-conditioned environment inside the converted warehouse building behind him. He considered sending Alexa a text to let her know he’d gone out (he’d left without telling anyone – something his guardian, Lucien, always frowned upon) but he needed some space and time to be alone with his thoughts. The apartment, in fact the entire building that housed Charron Enterprises Inc., was nothing short of chaotic at the moment. He turned to his right and began to walk, head down, lost in thought, moving in the direction of the City.

It was already hot outside. He’d spent the early morning in the gym, sparring with a Shadow Demon friend of his, hoping that the fight training would take his mind off things. It hadn’t. He’d emerged bruised and battered, showered and decided to come out for this walk.

After about twenty minutes, with Docklands well behind him, he paused and turned his face towards the sun, closing his eyes and enjoying its warmth. He ignored the pushing and jostling of the tourists who swarmed around him now that he was close to the Tower of London. It was half-term, and the usual throng of foreign visitors who flocked to this historic site were joined by parents and youngsters making the most of the sunshine in the capital city.

There was a tap on Trey’s shoulder and he spun round, tense and alert. His heart hammered against his ribcage, and he eyed the oriental man in front of him, quickly scanning the area about him to see if he were a lone attacker or part of a larger group.


Sumimasen
,’ the elderly man said, smiling and nodding in Trey’s direction.

Trey was tightly wound, and the man seemed to sense this, his friendly expression momentarily turning to one of concern as he eyed the youngster. Then the old man nodded at the camera he was holding, arched an eyebrow, and gestured with it in the teenager’s direction.

BOOK: Changeling: Zombie Dawn
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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