I’m so happy to have Dylan J. Morgan here for Vampire Month. Morgan is one of my favorite authors, I’m sure he’s yours too.
Darkness—deep, foreboding, concealing. He’d hated it as a child, always wondering what horrors lay buried within its blackness, and even now—forty years after leaving adolescence behind—he continued to detest it. Despite having been turned into a vampire and recruited into a centuries-old coven, the secrets night kept unnerved him still.
The fact that there were werewolves out there, gathered just beyond the reach of his nocturnal eyesight, didn’t help his demeanor.
Dmitri swallowed but failed to dislodge the ball of mucus at the back of his throat. Shifting from one foot to the next, he ran the fingers of his right hand across the elegantly decorated pommel of his forty inch sword.
Beside him, his commanding officer stood deathly still. “Take it easy, soldier. They can smell your fear and that will give them an advantage.”
They had one anyway, as far as Dmitri was concerned. Monstrous creatures, most standing over eight feet when fully transformed, lycanthropes possessed a level of strength like no other beast he knew. They were cunning and powerful, callously indifferent, with a single desire to slaughter their enemies. He nodded; not so much in accord with his commander’s admonition but more an agreement of his own assessment: they had enough of an advantage already.
Thirty-six years ago Dmitri had been a farmer struggling to survive in barren lands forty miles south of Moscow. His children were starving, his wife threatening to leave him, and when six black-clad horsemen turned up on his doorstep one autumn evening he thought his problems had just become a hundred times worse. At that moment he’d had no idea that thirty minutes later his mortal troubles would disperse quicker than his arid soil when touched by tumultuous summer winds. As he stood in line with his new comrades, staring into thick darkness surrounding Palace Square, he thought briefly about his two loyal sons and long suffering wife. He hoped they rested peacefully and their pain prior to death hadn’t been too great. Their screams had told him different but Dmitri had always been one to expect the best.
It’s what he hoped for now.
Being in the front line of an undermanned brigade protecting the palace, the best one could wish for when faced with an onslaught of ravenous werewolves would be a quick, painless death.
Dmitri glanced to his left then right, along the column of vampires stretched across the square immediately in front of The Alexander Column. They looked as nervous as he: eyes wide in unconcealed fear, tongues licking the thin pink lines of vampiric lips. All lights around the courtyard had been extinguished, and Dmitri’s brethren appeared whiter than normal against the dark backdrop of the General Staff Building. Thirty vampires strong, possibly; he had no idea how many more guarded the interior of the palace but for the moment he wished he’d been assigned to that group. They, at least, were in the warmth of the building with any number of places to hide. According to the stories he’d heard these last few weeks there were no fewer than six escape tunnels out of the palace, although only the vampire hierarchy knew their locations. Searching the building for a concealed exit would be better than standing exposed in the courtyard waiting for hell to open up and spew forth its demons.
His rank within the coven assured he’d been placed in this precarious position. Not yet a vampire for four decades, his life compared little to those more superior, warriors guarding the palace walls. He looked young, felt energetic, but hadn’t yet lived as long as a mortal lifetime—a time span he hoped to exceed by many years.
The smell came first, rank and horrid—the odor of unwashed bodies and undigested meat. Dmitri’s guts tightened with fear. The sound of shoes scraping across cobblestones alerted him to the fact he wasn’t the only vampire backing away from the darkness.
“Hold your ground,” his commander whispered. “Anybody breaks ranks and I’ll kill them before the werewolves get a chance to.”
Dmitri’s knees locked. He told himself he was bracing for combat but knew terror had been what really froze his joints.
Not long after the stench of approaching lycanthropes drifted through the courtyard, came the first rumbling of a deep throated growl. It seemed to echo off the surrounding buildings, amplifying in volume and making it appear as though they were encircled. Hairs rose on Dmitri’s ashen skin, and a deeper chill settled in his blood.
“Shit,” someone whispered.
“Draw swords,” his commander uttered.
The sigh of hardened steel being removed from leather scabbards whispered throughout the courtyard, shortly followed by the harsh panting and heavy footfalls of approaching monsters.
Dmitri swallowed hard but the mucus remained. His eyes widened, and in the depth of his nocturnal vision the shadowy outlines of brutish lycanthropes disturbed the darkness. How many were there he had no idea—they advanced so quick he had no time to count—but their numbers were so great determining their quantity would be worthless. Freeing the left hand from his sword for just a moment, he instinctively drew the sign of the cross upon his body.
Clinging to the last vestiges of human memory, Dmitri prayed to the mortal’s God that his life would be spared.
Steel clattered to the cobblestones. Dmitri turned his head as one of the vampires sprinted towards the palace, his defensive position abandoned. For a brief second Dmitri felt like following him, but realized almost immediately that even if he survived the impending lycanthropic onslaught the coven would behead him for his spinelessness.
“Coward,” his commander whispered.
The superior vampire didn’t chase the deserter. Dmitri understood why, and the reason gripped him with a sickening twist of fear: the werewolves were too close.
“Good luck, men,” the commander said. “Defend the coven with your lives.”
Raising his sword Dmitri stared in eternal horror at the shapes charging out of darkness wallowing around the staff building. He’d seen a few werewolves during his short time in the coven, but nothing like this. Monstrous bipedal wolves hurtled from the shadows, thick thigh muscles propelling them forward, arms outstretched towards the vampires with sharp talons extended. Dmitri had yet to see the damage they could do, but he’d been told many stories of werewolves disemboweling vampires in a single swipe of their razor-sharp claws. For the moment though he focused on the eyes piercing the blackness—fiery red as if the very depths of hell itself burned in the creatures’ minds.
Dmitri grunted loudly, a feeble attempt to join in the determined battle cry of defending vampires.
He ignored the line of brave vampires that broke ranks to engage the approaching monsters, and instead locked his vision on one brutish lycanthrope charging for him. One sweep of your blade—right to left, below and upwards—should be enough to rent this hellish creature in two.
The moment of truth had come and he wondered how much good his limited training would do.
His commander launched his counterattack on a werewolf. In less than ten seconds the three hundred year old vampire was being ripped to pieces on the cobblestones.
Dmitri stepped forward, raised his sword in readiness, and only then did he notice the second wave of lycanthropes leaping off the old slate roofs of the surrounding buildings to join the battle.
Fear solidified the ball of mucus in his gullet. His bladder released its contents.
Large claws sliced through his flesh, assaulting his nerve endings with burning agony. As cold blood poured from his rent body, Dmitri wondered if his wife and children would forgive him if they ever met again.
Bloodlines is a novella by Dylan J. Morgan and book one of the Blood War Trilogy, which details the early battles of a centuries-old supernatural war between vampires and werewolves. Beginning in the late thirteenth century, when vampires betrayed lycanthropes, the war has raged for mortal generations in the hidden darkness of man’s cities, obscured by the conflicts mankind has fought.
Introducing a cast of intriguing characters, this opening novella travels to many picturesque locations such as England, Austria, France, and New Zealand, culminating in modern day battles in Germany and Italy. Spanning centuries and continents, Bloodlines has been described as “The raw material for your nightmares.”
To celebrate Mari Wells’ Vampire Month in July, free eBook copies of this novella are now available. Simply like this blog post or leave a comment, and Dylan J. Morgan will be in touch to arrange delivery of your free copy of the first installment of a gripping supernatural series.
You can find Dylan J. Morgan at
I want to say Thanks to Mr. Morgan.
Readers, if you haven’t read this series yet. . . leave a comment, I’ll be connecting you with a free copy of this amazing series. 😀