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Something started scratching at the door. All twenty-five heads swiveled to their leader. The shadows strewn over the left half of his face hid the disfiguring scar but not the sneer. They couldn’t have been holed up in the cramped tavern basement for more than a few measly hours. He wagered the owner would have sold them out five minutes in.

He pulled the brim of his hat lower. Hours passed. He lost his own bet but from the sound of shuffling, arguing, and thudding overhead, he figured somebody had a loose tongue. “Gear up. Skin whoever comes through that hatch.” He whispered bruskly.

Wall mounted candelabras lined the four walls sparingly. Their glow stretched as far as a man’s arm. It made viewing maps a hassle but for hiding, there was nothing better. The eyes played tricks. Add in shadows, the feeling that somebody had to be watching, and the mind would run wild. That was what Gorvin hoped for as he ordered his men to fan out and make use of the poor lighting.

The scratching stopped and a collective sigh weighed down the damp, moldy air. Gorvin sighed along with them. Men weren’t what they used to be. They cheered at a good rallying speech but they held no backbone. They lacked true conviction and purpose. That was what made real men, that was what made killers. He looked around the room. His eyes were the first to adjust so he could see the weariness of relief on their faces. They weren’t men but he had to make do where he could.

That was the last thing on his mind when their hell rained down in the form of bullets. There was no sure safety. Everywhere they went, another round broke through the floor hitting either a man, the floor, or a barrel.

Gorvin cursed under his breath as another one hit and buried itself in his shoulder. His leg burned from where the first bullet was lodged. He dragged himself the few extra inches to the corner and watched the massacre through gritted teeth.

The hunters after them had upped their game since he last encountered them. They were still waving kiddy swords at him then. Their guns made him laugh when he allowed a bullet to graze him to satisfy their lustful egos. His red eyes narrowed as his own lust grew. Blood seeped out everywhere but the smell was wrong.

“Poison,” he groaned, shifting so he could dig out the bullet in his leg. It tainted the human blood, making it useless to him. But it wasn’t the only special trick; the bullets’ poison had a hex on top of it. Witches helped whomever had more money, the upper-hand, or they could double cross. That made humans at the top of their list majority of the time and people like him, the enemy.

Something scratched the door again and he groaned. He still had his shoulder and the poison to contend with. His leg was a dead weight even without the bullet. The hatch opened. The great roar of drunkards he had grown used to over the hours was null. Instead, only light poured down through the opening, light and the laughter of his captors.

His red eyes followed the dark leather riding boots as they descended. Twin dragons held a serpent tightly in their claws on the golden crest that adorned the scabbard of his sword. It was a crest that made his heart race in a mix of hatred and fear.

“Gorvin , you’ve made quite a mess.” A growl rumbled in his throat despite the sword tip pressed into his shoulder wound. His vision blurred from the pressure but he could still see the smirk their twisted leader of virtue wore. “The master wants you back. I advised him it was better to kill a stray than tame it but he insists.”

Gorvin screamed through his teeth as the bastard slowly pushed his blade through so that he was pinned like an insect to the wall. His blurriness spread till only blackness remained.

When he came to, he was back in the same box room he escaped from all those years ago. White tiles met white walls. There were no adornments save for the chains he so often hung from, and when they didn’t hold him, they held various subordinate test subjects for him to satisfy himself with. He was left to torture them with his frustration, bleed them dry, feed on them for days on end or rip them apart but the one thing he knew their so called Master wanted he wouldn’t do. He wouldn’t risk fathering a child for a mad man.

He tugged at each of his lead limbs. Sure enough, there were shackles at both wrists and ankles as well as his throat. His captors were so kind to gag him too. It was fine by him. In time the mad scientist would let him down and the game would begin anew.

“Gorvin! My sweet boy.”

He lifted his head and glared at the man in question. Dr. Langston, he looked the same. Hair parted at the side yet disheveled as ever, glasses hanging at the nape of the shirt rather than on his face, and sickly pale. All the science in the world and the man still refused to be healthy.

“Now now,” the doctor tsked, “none of that. You ran away from home. What else was I supposed to do?”

Gorvin thought of a few things but they all ended in him killing the twisted pervert.

“Hmm, I was going to tell you that trial one was a success but it seems you need a few days to cool off.” Langston’s grin grew and Gorvin cursed himself for reacting. He didn’t know what trial one was but he had a feeling it involved the many women he tried to get him to bed.

“Don’t worry. You’re fun is just starting. Soon we’ll have a whole army of cambions. I’m sorry, family. We’ll soon have a little family army. Won’t it be wonderful?”

Langston’s screech of happiness resonated in the white wash room long after he departed from it. It made Gorvin’s stomach churn in renewed hatred. Trial one meant there was a child. It was impossible to be his but he couldn’t shake the burden.

He had to escape and he had to do it with a kid on his back this time around. He wanted retribution first though. He’d blow the place higher than mount Olympus while the doctor watched. Then he’d take his time in killing Langston. He’d enjoy the crack of his bones and the inevitable snaps of his spine. He’d relish in the softness of his heart when he ripped it out to feed the flames of the building.

He’d be free of them all, in time.