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Druid Vampire and the Red-haired Deer Woman



By KuroKoneko Kamen





Copyright 2017 by KuroKoneko Kamen


Cover Design by Mathia Arkoniel


Smashwords Edition, License notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or give away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. All characters are invented. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.





Chapter 1: Stag


The year was 1610. Druid Vampire, Derek Dearg was currently on a ship carrying English and Scottish settlers from the Virginia Company that was headed to the New World from London.

Derek wasn’t exactly in ‘first class’. With the help of his London allies Derek had been snuck onboard the ship inside of a long, rectangular wooden box, and stored in the ship’s cargo hold.

Stuffed inside of a cramped wooden box that resembled a coffin was the only way a vampire could travel overseas safely. Still, it was an incredibly dangerous undertaking. But Derek didn’t really give a shit. He needed to get to the New World where there’d been reported sightings of his elusive Archenemy - Slaine.

Slaine was an evil vampire who’d killed his beloved wife Cinnia, and had turned him into a vampire against his will.

For centuries, he’d been hunting Slaine around the world, and when he finally found him he’d kill him and avenge Cinnia. After that, it didn’t really matter what happened to him. He’d probably step out into the sunshine and let it burn him to ashes for all he cared. Then he’d be reunited with his beloved Cinnia.

Luckily, for the English and Scottish colonists onboard Derek abhorred his vampire nature, and refused to give in to his beastly instincts. Instead of feeding on humans, Derek would feed off of animals. In this case…rats.

Each night at sea, Derek would awaken when all the other colonists were asleep, and carefully sneak out of his wooden box in order to feed off of the large population of rats that was living inside of the cargo hold.

Yummy. Derek thought sarcastically.

Derek could still enjoy a nice bloody steak, and lamented that he couldn’t travel on the ship as a ‘normal’ passenger. As soon as Derek was exposed to sunlight - his true nature would be revealed. And no, he wouldn’t sparkle. He’d burst into flames and become a pile of ashes in just a few minutes.

It would take 32 days to reach the New World, or depending on wind speed a little more than a month. Derek just had to lie low until then. Or so he’d thought.

On the night of the full moon something horrible happened.

Derek was awakened from his slumber by the sound of wolves howling. How had a bunch of wolves gotten onboard the ship? He wondered in disbelief.

Derek wanted to just ignore the howling as a figment of his paranoid imaginings. But then the scent of blood - human blood - reached his acute senses.

His fangs elongated in response and his pupils dilated until the blue of his eyes was almost completely covered. Then the bloodcurdling screams began. Shit! Derek inwardly swore. What the hell’s going on? The vampire exited his wooden box, and ran up the stairs to the main deck.

The sight that met him was - phantasmagoric. Half of the crew had turned into…wolves.

Wolves that were attacking the other crewmembers ruthlessly and ripping their throats out with their maws full of sharp, gleaming, white teeth.

The ‘normal’ crew, which was composed mostly of the English settlers, wasn’t going down without a fight though. They swiftly loaded their muskets, aimed, and fired at the wolves in quick succession.

“Get ready, men! Load your muskets! Aim! Fire!” The English Captain directed his crew with a tinge of desperation in his voice as he tried to remain calm.

Multiple shots cut through the night, and the wolves yelped in pain as bullets imbedded themselves into their fur-covered flesh. As the wolves toppled over to the deck and remained unmoving, the colonists began to breathe easier.

But not Derek.

With his keen vampire senses, Derek could see steam rising up from the wolves’ bodies, and he could hear a low hissing sound. The bullets began to push themselves up and out of the wolves’ flesh.

It was in that moment Derek realized that the wolves possessed incredible regeneration abilities. Which could only mean one thing. Those were no ordinary wolves.

Shifters! Derek realized with no small amount of trepidation. Wolf shifters. In other words ‘werewolves’ - a vampire’s greatest enemy. This was because the vampires thought of themselves as being superior to werewolves, and tended to enslave them.

Shit, shit, shit. Derek had landed himself into a mess of trouble. He was surrounded by enemies on all sides - vicious werewolves and trigger-happy humans. And he was weak from only surviving on rat blood for the past three weeks.

Caught in the middle of a conflict that really had nothing to do with him, Derek began to sneak away slowly while trying to get back below deck.

Unfortunately, two wolves spotted him trying to get away, and attacked.

Damnation! Derek swore inwardly as he watched the two wolves charging towards him with their maws wide open, showing off their gleaming, white teeth. Slobber was dribbling down their furry chins lending to their berserk appearance.

He had no choice but to fight, and use his magic. Derek flipped his left arm over to reveal an intricate blue tattoo of a katana, or samurai sword that was embellished with swirling, Celtic runes and enchanted glyphs.

Derek summoned his magical power, and reached his hand towards the katana’s hilt. He grasped the hilt and began to pull the sword off his tanned skin. The sword began to increase in size as it materialized. And in seconds, Derek was now holding a blue, shimmery, translucent katana before him in a two-handed grip.

The wolves leapt at Derek - maws snapping - and the Druid swung his katana first right and then left. He severed the wolves’ heads from their bodies in a gruesome display of incredible, superhuman power and strength that only immortal vampires were known to possess.

He couldn’t afford to show these werewolves mercy, however. The only way to kill an immortal shifter was by cutting their head off. The bodies and heads of the two dead wolves hit the deck with wet thuds.

The other wolves stared at Derek, whimpered in fear, tails between their legs, and began to back away.

One wolf, however, didn’t appear to be afraid of Derek.

This wolf was enormous, much bigger than the others, and at least two hundred pounds. It was covered with coarse black fur. Horrible jagged scars marred its face. The wolf’s left eye was blind and a milky blue color. Adding to its hideous appearance was its missing left ear.

The wolf growled threateningly at Derek, its lip curling back to reveal its sharp teeth. The wolf approached the vampire with menacing steps, and then began to transform.

In a flash, the wolf had turned from wolf into man - a naked man. The man was just as ugly in human form as in wolf form. His scars were more prevalent on his ravaged face. He had a rather fierce appearance with his long, shaggy black hair with scattered braids, and a muscular body gained through countless battles. But what captured Derek’s attention most were the blue Celtic battle tattoos on his arms.

Derek’s eyes widened at the sight of those familiar tattoos. It can’t be…a fellow Druid? “You…you’re a Druid?”

A vicious grin spread across the werewolf’s face. “I used to be a Druid Vampire Hunter…same as you, I’d wager, until I was bitten by a Scottish werewolf.” Just like Derek the man had an unusual Celtic accent. “Then I became a shifter. I was more powerful than the current shifter clan’s leader, and so took his place as clan chief. Permit me a moment to change?”

Derek nodded. “Go right ahead.”

The werewolf stalked over and grabbed a kilt that had been lying haphazardly across a wooden barrel. He quickly belted the green and black plaid around his waist with a thick, black leather belt. The werewolf turned to regard Derek once more. “Thank you. What’s your name, Stranger?”

“It’s Derek Dearg.”

“Captain Fenrir Sharpe.” Fenrir narrowed his dark eyes at Derek suddenly. “You’re not human anymore either, are you?”

Shit, shit, shit. An uncomfortable look formed on Derek’s face. “What makes you say that?”

Fenrir sniffed the air. “You don’t smell human. In fact, you smell an awful lot like a vampire. I wonder why that is.” There was a dangerous tone to the werewolf’s voice now.

Derek gulped nervously. “And if I were a vampire?”

Fenrir shrugged his massive shoulders. “Then…I’d have to kill you. It’s nothing personal, but I hate vampires with a passion. It was the English vampires that did this to my face during an attack on our clan.” The werewolf waved his hand over his grotesque visage. “It’s why we’re heading to the New World actually. We’re fleeing the persecution of the English vampires.”

“I can understand your hatred,” Derek began in what he hoped was an accepting tone, “but I swear I’m not like other vampires. I don’t feed from humans, for one thing.”

“Then what do you feed on?” Fenrir narrowed his eyes at Derek until they were thin slits.

“Rats,” replied Derek.

A dark chuckle slipped past Fenrir’s twisted lips. “Rats? That must be ghastly.”

“It is actually.” Derek nodded readily in agreement.

“But I really have no reason to believe you. If a Druid Vampire Hunter is turned against his will…he’s supposed to take his own life according to the Hunter Code. So why do you still live?” Fenrir gave Derek a pointed look.

“I’m hunting a vampire,” Derek revealed in a grim tone. “One that killed my wife centuries ago.”

“Vengeance?” Fenrir’s bushy black eyebrows rose. “A noble cause.”

“Until I have Slaine’s head on a platter I cannot allow myself to die,” Derek said adamantly. “Only once Slaine is dead can I step into the sun.”

“It’s a good story,” Fenrir allowed, before summoning his power. He reached his hand out towards his arm and began to pull off a double-edged, medieval broadsword. “But I don’t believe a word of it! Vampires are liars and tricksters. All vampires need to die.” The sword materialized in the werewolf’s grasp - blue, translucent, shimmery. He pointed his sword at Derek. “So, sorry, but I must kill you.”

Derek raised his ink katana before him. “And I cannot allow myself to be killed just yet.”

The two Druids charged towards each other across the blood-splattered deck, and engaged in battle, their ink swords clashing and throwing up blue sparks into the air.

For the most part they were pretty evenly matched in sword skill, but Derek was tiring quickly. It had taken a toll on his body living off of nothing but rat blood. Shit. Derek inwardly swore and glanced down at the fallen bodies of the English colonists that were bleeding onto the deck. His fangs lengthened and he hissed softly. Blood…he needed blood. Blood would save him now. But…

Fenrir noticed, and his lip curled back in a disgusted sneer. “You really are nothing but a monster, vampire.”

No. Derek thought firmly. He couldn’t allow himself to give in to the thirst. To become like Slaine. Become a monster.

Distracted by his inner torment, Fenrir was able to slip his sword past Derek’s defenses and stab him right through the heart.

Derek dropped his ink sword, and it splattered to the deck in a puddle of glowing blue ink. He sank to his knees. The magical ink slid across the deck and leapt back up onto Derek’s forearm where the tattoo of a samurai sword appeared once more.

Fenrir pulled his sword back out of the vampire’s chest, and swung it at Derek’s head - but he stopped his sword an inch away from Derek’s throat. “On second thought, too easy. I have something special in mind for you, vampire. You’re lucky a wound like that won’t kill you. You’ll just be in excruciating pain for a week or so as your heart mends itself. Men, take this one down to the brig.”

“Aye, aye, Chief!” the werewolves called back.

Two shifter males now in human form and with plaids wrapped around their waists hoisted Derek up off the deck floor. They took him below deck, tossed him into a cell, and locked the cell door.

Bleeding profusely from the wound on his chest, Derek lay on the slimy wooden floor, and pessimistically wondered what his fate would be. Several days passed by uneventfully like this, and the vampire was dying of thirst.

Until one day, Derek heard someone coming down the stairs and entering the brig. The figure was holding a single, flickering candle in a pewter holder aloft, and as he stepped closer Derek was able to see who it was.

It was a young man, probably almost out of his adolescence with short, blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was wearing a green and black plaid around his waist, and a simple cotton shirt. In his left hand, the youth held a canteen.

Derek began to salivate at the sight of that canteen of water, and gulped.

The young man approached the cell and surprised Derek by sticking the canteen through the bars of the cell, offering the canteen to Derek. “Here. Drink.”

Derek reached out and took the canteen suspiciously. “Why are you helping me, boy?”

The young man shrugged in a nonchalant manner. “I can’t just stand back and watch a person’s suffering…not when I could do something about it. It just doesn’t sit right with me, that’s all.” The young man’s accent wasn’t Scottish but it wasn’t exactly Celtic either. Derek would have said it was British.

Derek unscrewed the canteen and took a long, appreciative drink. “Ah!” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “That so? You seem different from the others. Are you a werewolf too?”

The youth nodded. “Not everyone onboard this ship is a cruel as Fenrir. They-”

“Bertolf! Where the hell are you, lad?” came Fenrir’s gruff voice, followed by the sound of heavy, thumping footfalls as the clan chief descended the wooden steps into the brig. Fenrir stomped his way towards Bertolf and Derek.

“What are you doing down here, lad?” Fenrir demanded, looking back and forth between Derek and Bertolf with a suspicious gleam in his dark eyes.

“N-Nothing,” Bertolf stammered, a bead of sweat forming on his brow out of nervousness.

Fenrir caught sight of the canteen in Derek’s hands and his eyes flashed with anger. He backhanded Bertolf hard across the face and sent the youth flying. “Don’t lie to me, boy!” Bertolf crashed to the floor with a cry. “How dare you disobey my orders! I already informed the crew that the prisoner isn’t allowed food or drink!” Fenrir mercilessly sent his boot flying into Bertolf’s stomach next.

Bertolf coughed as the wind was knocked out of him, and his eyes bulged.

Fenrir kicked Bertolf again and again until the youth curled up on the floor and whimpered in pain. “Please, stop…” Bertolf begged.

Fenrir spit down on the kid. “Pathetic.” He shook his head at the young man’s fallen form before turning around and heading towards the stairs. He ascended the steps quickly and returned to the main deck.

“You shouldn’t have helped me, kid,” Derek lamented darkly. “No good ever comes from helping me.”

“I…don’t regret it,” Bertolf said as he pushed himself up off the deck floor, and dusted himself off. “When you fought against Fenrir…I thought you were amazing. Well, I’d better get going before he comes back down here. At least he forgot about the canteen.” Bertolf turned to go with a small, triumphant smile on his face.

Derek found himself calling out to the strange youth. “Hey, thanks for the water, kid.”

Bertolf glanced over his shoulder and flashed Derek a bright grin. “You’re very welcome.” Then the youth continued his way up the stairs and to the main deck.

Eleven days later, the ship arrived at the New World, and this was when Fenrir made his intentions known to Derek about what the vampire’s fate would be.

That day, Derek could sense it was only an hour or so until sunrise, and this was when Fenrir and his clansmen came for him. They dragged Derek out of his cell, brought him above deck, carried him down the gangplank, and then onto dry land.

After that the werewolves began to take Derek deep into the forest. They traveled for an hour until they entered a clearing where a wooden stake had been erected. A chill crawled up Derek’s spine at the sight of that stake. Stakes…were never a good thing.

As the werewolves roughly tied Derek to the stake, Fenrir stalked around Derek in predatory circles. “Do you know what time it is, vampire?”

The last thing Derek wanted to do was beg for his life, but he still had unfinished business. He couldn’t die just yet. “Please don’t do this, Fenrir. You’re making a grave mistake. I must kill Slaine.”

“It’s almost sunrise,” Fenrir said conversationally, ignoring Derek’s pleas. “And you’re about to light up like a candle!” The werewolf chief laughed cruelly. “But don’t worry…if I run into your friend Slaine or whatever his name is I’ll be sure to slay him!”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Funny.”

The sun started to peek through the surrounding pine trees…

“Get ready for it, lads. The show is about to begin!” Fenrir’s voice was giddy with excitement and bloodlust.

The sun started to rise and Derek’s skin began to smoke and sizzle. I’ll be with my beloved Cinnia soon. Derek’s final thought was bittersweet. A small flame broke out on his exposed arm and his flesh began to sizzle.

The werewolves began to cackle meanly at the vampire’s plight. However-

A whooshing sound reached Derek’s ears, followed by five consecutive arrows flying through the air, tips glowing green. The arrows imbedded themselves into the torsos of the werewolves around Derek. The wolves swayed on their feet before swooning and falling to the ground.

A dark scowl formed on Fenrir’s ugly face. “What is the meaning of this?” He yanked an arrow out of his fallen comrade and sniffed the tip. His eyes widened. “Poison. They’re here.” He shot a suspicious, hateful look towards the surrounding trees.

An arrow sped through the air and imbedded itself in Fenrir’s shoulder, causing him to stumble backwards. Another arrow soon followed and imbedded itself in Fenrir’s chest.

Then a figure soared out of the trees, leaping gracefully over the hedge bushes.

Derek’s eyes widened at the beautiful, otherworldly creature. He’d never seen anything quite like it before. The creature had the upper body of a beautiful young woman with short red hair, startling green eyes, and small pert breasts with rosy nipples. The woman’s lower body was that of a deer with reddish-brown fur, white spots, and an adorable, fluffy tail. She reminded Derek of a centaur who was half-man half-horse, but in this case the creature was half-woman half-deer.

The deer woman was holding a bow, which she raised and impressively nocked an arrow to as she flew through the air. She released the arrow and it hit Fenrir’s arm.

“Deer bitch!” Fenrir snarled angrily as he yanked the arrows out of his flesh, and quickly summoned his ink sword.

The deer woman loosed another arrow at Fenrir, but this time he used his sword to cut it down.

A battle between them ensued. The deer woman unleashing arrows as she galloped around Fenrir in circles, and the werewolf using his sword to block or cut down the arrows he could.

Despite Fenrir’s best efforts, several arrows did hit their marks. And the paralyzing poison began to finally kick in. Fenrir swayed on his feet, let go of his ink sword, and it fell to the grassy ground with a splat as it dissipated.

Meanwhile, by this time, tiny fires had broken out all over Derek’s exposed flesh - his arms and face.

The deer woman trotted over to Derek and quickly used a small tomahawk to cut his bonds. The tomahawk’s blade was made of stone and its handle was decorated with white and black feathers. “Hurry, get on!” The deer woman motioned to her back.

Derek frowned at her. “You should finish him off.”

A surprised look crossed the deer woman’s face. “There’s no time! In case you haven’t noticed…you’re on fire!”

Derek looked down at his arms in a detached sort of way. “So I am.” The vampire’s tone was dry. He climbed on the deer woman’s back, and as soon as he’d wrapped his arms around her human waist she’d shot into the forest at a fast gallop.

As soon as the deer woman had made it into the shade of the dense forest, the fires on Derek’s flesh went out. His skin was left smoking.

With nothing left to distract Derek from the pain he was in, he fell unconscious on the deer woman’s back.

***

A couple hours later, Derek awoke to discover he was inside of a spacious, conical-shaped teepee that had been made out of buffalo hide. He was lying on a straw, sleeping mat, and the pungent odor of medicine hung heavily in the air.

Derek looked down at his arms and noted his burn wounds had been treated. An unguent had been applied to his wounds first and had then been covered by some kind of plant leaves that most likely had medicinal properties. Weakly, he glanced around the teepee and that’s when he caught a glimpse of red hair. His heart squeezed inside of his chest and he sat up in bed, instantly regretting this rash actions. He groaned in pain.

The deer woman trotted over to his side, knelt beside him on all fours, and held out a carved burl canoe cup. “Drink.” She held the cup up to his lips in an insistent manner.

Derek had no choice but to drink the herbal tea.

“You shouldn’t try to get up yet. Your wounds are severe,” the deer woman chided before she began to push Derek back down onto the mat. “Lie back. Rest.”

From his reclined position, Derek turned to look up at the strange creature. “What…are you?” He was trying hard not to stare at her lovely bare breasts.

A pink tinge rose to her tanned cheeks. “I must look…freakish to your kind. I am a type of shifter - a deer woman. My people are known as the Deer People of the Catahecassa Tribe. My name is Awentia.”

Derek’s expression softened. “You misunderstand me, Awentia. I think you’re…rather lovely. It’s just I’ve never seen one of your kind before. It was just surprising, that’s all.”

“Lovely?” The deer woman twirled a lock of her red hair unconsciously and shook her head in denial. “I am not,” she denied in a low voice that Derek failed to catch.

“My name is Derek Dearg.” With curiosity shinning in his blue eyes, Derek looked around her teepee. In the very center of the teepee was a small fire surrounded by stones. He spotted Awentia’s quiver of arrows and bow leaning against the teepee wall. Hanging on the walls were some interesting decorations made out of wood, thread and decorated with feathers. He’d never been inside of a dwelling quite like this before. This was a brand-new culture to him. “Where…is this place?”

“You are inside of my home…in Catahecassa Village,” Awentia explained simply.

A thoughtful frown formed on Derek’s face at her words. “You brought me back to your village? Do you not realize what I am?”

The deer woman stared at Derek with guileless green eyes and nodded. “You’re a vampire.”

Derek’s frown deepened. “Aren’t you afraid of me?”

A dark cloud fell over Awentia’s face. “There are worse things to be afraid of than a single vampire. Like Fenrir and the werewolf clan…”

“The werewolves?” Derek’s interest was piqued.

“It’s why I decided to bring you here. There’s a saying my father taught me - the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And we share a common enemy. Fenrir tried to kill you.” Awentia waved her hands over his wounds with a sympathetic look on her face. “I thought that perhaps we could forge an alliance. Vampires are incredibly powerful.”

“You thought?” Derek asked, noticing her use of the past tense.

“Chief Masichuvio…my father…is not at all pleased that I brought you here.” Awentia nibbled on her bottom lip as she recalled her father’s angry reaction to discovering exactly what Awentia had brought with her from the forest. “As soon as your wounds have healed he wants you to leave our village.” She offered Derek an apologetic look.

Derek nodded in understanding. He wasn’t offended by Chief Masichuvio’s lack of hospitality. As a vampire he was used to this sort of treatment. He sighed and looked up at the teepee ceiling and at the dangling dream catchers overhead. “That’s probably for the best. I bring death wherever I go.” Derek’s eyelids felt heavy, and it didn’t take long before he drifted off to sleep.

“Death has already come to my village, vampire.” Awentia watched Derek’s sleeping form, the rise and fall of his chest. She’d removed the black leather vest he’d been wearing to better treat his wounds, so his tanned, muscular chest and shapely biceps were on display, a veritable feast for her eyes.

This vampire male was extremely handsome, and different from the males in her village. Derek had long, brown, shoulder-length hair with scattered braids, and blue eyes that reminded her of the sky. Blue eyes were so unusual for a vampire. All the vampires she’d ever encountered had had scary, red eyes the color of blood, and they’d tried to suck her blood as soon as they’d laid eyes on her.

This one…was different somehow. She reached out to thread her hand through his silky hair. He hadn’t tried to bite her…or harm her. He’d been kind. How strange. Awentia thought to herself, a smile curling her lips. What a strange vampire you are, Derek Dearg.

Awentia continued her appraisal of this vampire male, and her eyes raked down his body, over his six-pack abs and down to his long legs that were clad in tight black leather. The lace-up crotch of his pants drew her attention to the telltale bulge where his cock was. She swallowed, wondering if he were well-endowed.

Brimming with curiosity, Awentia leaned over and sniffed Derek. He even smelled different from the deer males of her Tribe, like grass and sandalwood. His alluring, musky scent made her tremble.

She was so intrigued about this vampire male. Awentia waited until she was certain he was asleep before rummaging around in his small leather knapsack. The knapsack contained a rose made of metal, the carving of a wooden horse, a necklace with a crescent moon, an Oriental Jade hair comb, and a paper fan with the design of cherry blossoms on it.

As Awentia picked up and inspected these items a strange feeling of déjà vu washed over her. Had she seen and touched these items somewhere before? But…how could that be possible? She’d never seen items like these before.

Awentia ended up falling asleep next to Derek, the items scattered around her. And she had very strange dreams…

Awentia dreamed of a clan of Druid Vampire Hunters that lived in a village deep in the forest. Close to the village was a gigantic white oak tree with bloody handprints on it - each handprint had been made by a hunter during their initiation ceremony into the Elite. For some reason the name ‘Blood Oak Clan’ drifted through her mind.

Awentia dreamed about a female Druid Vampire Huntress who was also a skilled archer. This Huntress was in love with a handsome, brave yet stubborn Druid that seemed to irritate the Huntress to no end. The name ‘Dearg’ drifted through Awentia’s mind.

Awentia couldn’t help but note that this female Druid Vampire Huntress and herself shared certain unnerving similarities. They both had red hair, green eyes, and they were both highly skilled with a bow. They were both female warriors in a world where that was frowned upon.

But the Druid woman was human…and Awentia was a deer woman. This bothered Awentia for some reason.

Days passed with Awentia taking care of Derek and meticulously treating his burn wounds until they were fully healed.

One day, Derek awoke to Awentia removing the leaves from his burn wounds to reveal that the wounds had completely healed, leaving behind new pink flesh. “You’re all healed.” There was a sad note to Awentia’s voice. “That means you’ll be leaving me…I mean, the village.”

Derek sat up and looked at Awentia. “It’s all thanks to you, Awentia. I, too, have enjoyed our time together, but I cannot stay here. It’s too dangerous. I have powerful enemies…I would hate to put you or your tribe at risk.”

Awentia nodded. “I understand.” There was a slight pout on her face though.

Then Derek noticed that Awentia had Cinnia’s jade hair comb in her hair and grew angry. “That hair comb…give it to me. It does not belong to you.”

Awentia pouted, removed the comb from her hair, and handed it to Derek. “Sorry. I just thought maybe it would make my hideous red hair…less hideous.”

“Hideous?” Derek blinked. “Why would you think that?”

A sad sigh slipped past Awentia’s lips. “I am the only deer woman to have red hair. It’s the color of blood. Everyone thinks I’m cursed…an ill omen. That I brought the werewolves upon us.”

Derek reached out and fingered a lock of Awentia’s hair. “Your hair is beautiful. The color of apples, roses, and sunset. My wife had red hair just like yours.”

“Your wife?” Awentia tried to keep her tone nonchalant, but she was dying to know more about the woman that obviously still meant so much to him.

Derek nodded solemnly. “Yes. Centuries ago, I was married to an incredible woman. She was brave and courageous, and like you she was also good with a bow. You remind me of her.”

“What happened to her?” The deer woman pressed.

A dark shadow fell over Derek’s face. “She was murdered by a vampire named Slaine. That’s why I live only for revenge. Once I’ve killed Slaine and avenged Cinnia…I’ll have nothing left to live for.”

“Nothing?” Awentia gave him a searching look. “Maybe if you looked a little harder you could find a new reason to keep on living.” A myriad of emotions swam in Awentia’s green eyes.

“Awentia…perhaps you’re right.” Derek looked down at the comb thoughtfully before he turned to the deer woman and reached out to put it in her hair.

“But I thought…? Isn’t this important to you?” Awentia stammered.

“It suits you,” Derek complimented and reached out to caress her cheek in an almost loving fashion. Realizing what he was doing, however, he quickly pulled his hand back and cleared his throat to hide his unease. “I want you to keep it…as thanks for saving my life. I’m sure Cinnia would have wanted you to have it. You’re so much like her.”

Awentia reached up and touched the hair comb. “Thank you, Derek.”

Derek abruptly stood up. “I’ve spent too much time here. I must continue my search for Slaine.”

“I understand,” Awentia said sadly. “Allow me to at least see you safely out of the village.”

The Druid and the deer woman exited the teepee, and instantly Derek could feel the eyes of everyone inside of the village focused on them. Night had fallen, but blazing torches that had been set up on tall poles illuminated the village as well as scattered bonfires. Derek looked up and could see that the moon was a little more than half full. He was surprised by how much time had passed with him being taken care of by Awentia.

Derek looked around the village intently and admired the teepees that were spacious enough to accommodate the Deer People inside. On the teepees’ exteriors images had been painted of running deer and buffalo.

When Derek returned his attention back to the Deer People he noted that their gazes were filled with anger, fear and hostility, which would have been normal considering what he was. But what surprised Derek was that their hateful stares seemed to be directed towards Awentia also.

“Look, there they are.” “It’s Awentia and that vampire.” “She’ll bring doom upon our village, mark my words.” “She’s cursed.” “Red hair…the color of blood.” “An ill omen.” The deer people began to talk amongst themselves and Derek thought they were really lousy at whispering.

“Vampires are evil creatures - they can’t be trusted. What was Awentia thinking?” An elderly deer woman clucked her tongue in a disapproving manner.

“She obviously wasn’t,” quipped a deer woman standing next to the elderly one.

A sort of angry mob had started to gather around them, blocking their path to the front gate of the village.

Awentia stepped in front of Derek, raised her chin, and gave everyone a quelling look. “Stop this. All of you. It’s entirely unnecessary. Derek is leaving our village without a fuss. He means us no harm.” Her tone was adamant.

The deer people wore skeptical looks on their faces and did not appear at all convinced by Awentia’s words.

“Vampires are not to be trusted, Awentia.” A handsome male deer stepped forward with a haughty expression on his face. The crowd had automatically parted to let him through. “If we let him go, he may bring reinforcements to our village.” This deer male was obviously a warrior. His tanned bare chest was muscular and a few scars were visible from past battles against the werewolves. He had long black hair with scattered braids that were decorated with colorful beads and feathers. An impressive set of antlers sat on the top of his head. Below his waist he had the body of a male deer with sandy brown fur and white spots.

“Derek wouldn’t do that, Kohana,” Awentia snapped heatedly. “He’s a vampire hunter.”

“You expect us to believe he hunts his own kind?” Kohana sneered and glanced at the other deer warriors. “How stupid does she think we are?”

The deer warrior males began to laugh as if on cue.

A smug smile curled Kohana’s lips. He knew that the other deer warriors would always follow his lead since he’d earned their respect as the fastest and most powerful warrior of the Catahecassa Tribe. “We shouldn’t let this vampire leave our village alive. We should kill him. Right, men!”

“Yes, Kohana!” the deer warrior males agreed with a rowdy shout.

“If you want him,” Awentia began raising her bow and nocking an arrow to the string. “You’ll have to get through me first!”

Several of the deer males took a step back, cowed by the fierce look on Awentia’s face. Kohana may have been the strongest warrior in the Tribe, but it was an undisputable fact that Awentia was the best archer.

Kohana, however, did not back down, and his lip curled back in a contemptuous sneer. “Look how she defends him. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Awentia cares for the vampire! She’s a traitor to her own kind! She should be captured too, and her bow confiscated. After all, female deer aren’t allowed to wield weapons anyways. It’s against our tradition! Come on, men!”

“Y-Yes…” came the hesitant agreements from the deer warrior males as they shared uneasy looks.

Awentia pulled back on her arrow, Kohana in her sights. If it was a fight they wanted - it was a fight they were going to get.

“Enough!” a stern, elderly voice called out with an authoritative ring to it that caused everyone to momentarily freeze. The crowd began to part for someone and then the village chief was revealed.

The first thing Derek noted about Chief Masichuvio was the impressive set of antlers he had that were at least double the size of Kohana’s. The antlers had been adorned with feathers, beads, precious stones, and colored thread. Like the other deer warrior males, his torso was bare and tanned. Although the chief wore an intricate beaded necklace with precious stones. Despite his obvious age Chief Masichuvio still had the muscles gained from his own past battles.

Crow’s feet surrounded the chief’s wise brown eyes, and his long gray hair had been decorated with colorful beads and feathers. His lower body was of a male deer with silvery gray fur and white spots, and shiny, black hooves. The chief of the Deer People was an impressive sight, and Derek felt awed by his presence. Derek could sense the great wisdom and ancient power that the chief possessed.

As Chief Masichuvio passed by them the deer lowered their heads and antlers respectfully. “What is the meaning of this, Kohana?”

Kohana’s confidence seemed to flee in the face of the Chief of the Deer People, and his expression grew nervous. “Chief Masichuvio, your hotheaded daughter Awentia has made a mistake that has put the village in grave danger. She brought this bloodthirsty vampire into the village, treated his wounds, and put everyone here at risk!”

“That’s not true! Father, listen!” Awentia immediately began to object.

But Chief Masichuvio raised a hand to silence her. “Hush, child.” He raised an eyebrow at Kohana. “Bloodthirsty, you say? Has he attacked anyone while he’s been our guest these past few weeks?”

Kohana frowned and a petulant expression formed on his face. “Well, no, but-”

“Then it appears he’s already proven himself to be our friend and not our enemy,” Chief Masichuvio interrupted. “And it appears as though he were just leaving, per my request, and in a peaceful manner.”

“B-But vampires can’t be trusted!” Kohana burst out hotly. “He’ll bring more of them here!”

Chief Masichuvio turned to regard Derek with his wise eyes. “Well, what are your intentions after leaving here?”

“Sir, I’m on a quest for revenge,” Derek began to explain. “I’m hunting a very powerful, dangerous vampire named Slaine.” Haunting shadows flickered across Derek’s blue gaze as he recalled the past bloody battles he’d fought against Slaine. “He killed my wife.”

Kohana shot Derek a disbelieving look. “You don’t actually expect us to believe that load of deer dung, do you?”

“He speaks the truth!” Chief Masichuvio raised his authoritative voice so that the surrounding Deer People would hear him. “I can see through a man’s lies. You all know this. As for you, Kohana.” He shook his head disappointedly causing the feathers that decorated his antlers to sway back and forth. “You are simply jealous of this handsome vampire who has captured my daughter’s attention as you have failed to do.”

Awentia blushed scarlet at her father’s presumptuous words. “Father!”

Kohana was pissed and humiliated. “That’s…not true! Lies! Argh!” He let out a frustrated noise before he turned and fled, his friends following behind concernedly and calling out Kohana’s name.

Chief Masichuvio gave Derek an apologetic look. “Do forgive their rudeness. They are young and a little stupid.” The corner of the chief’s mouth quirked up in slight amusement.

“They mean well.” Derek smiled back at the chief. “They have the village’s best interests at heart. I probably would have done the same had the situation been reversed. After all, I agree with Kohana - vampires are not to be trusted.” The Druid’s crooked smile turned bemused.

A twinkle formed in Chief Masichuvio’s eyes. “Indeed. I wish you well, traveler. Farewell.” He performed the Indian hand motion for goodbye.

Derek mimicked his movements. “Farewell.” However-

At that very moment, a wolf’s howl ominously ripped through the night.

“What’s going on?” Derek asked concernedly as he watched the blood drain out of the Deer People’s faces. They all looked like they’d just seen a ghost.

A deer male came galloping towards them and stopped in front of Chief Masichuvio, his hooves clopping on the ground. “It’s the werewolves! They’re here!”

A grim, determined expression formed on Chief Masichuvio’s face. “Men, prepare for battle!”

The deer males raised their bows high, and let out Indian war cries and hoots. “Ayayayayay!”

“What should I do?” Derek asked Chief Masichuvio.

The battle drums began to sound throughout the village as the male deer prepared to battle.

Chief Masichuvio turned to Derek and placed a hand on his shoulder. “We must prepare for battle, but you must leave. This isn’t your fight. You have your quest for vengeance, right?”

Derek nodded. “Yes…I do.”

“Then, go!” Chief Masichuvio insisted with a harsh wave of his hand.

Derek turned to Awentia, and seemed to hesitate. “Awentia…?”

“Go, Derek,” Awentia said with a shuttered look in her eyes. “Like my father said you have your quest for vengeance. Find Slaine, kill him, and avenge your wife.”

“What about you?” Derek swallowed.

There was a fierce gleam in Awentia’s green eyes as she turned towards the direction of the drums. “I will stay and fight, and protect the village I love. Even if the villagers do not love me. Perhaps, one day they will come to accept me…even if I am different. I will not run away. Even if I am afraid.” She clenched her hands into fists at her sides.

“Awentia…” Derek said again.

“Go, Derek!” Awentia turned to face him once more. “And don’t look back!” She turned, let out a war cry, and charged towards the front gate of the village.

As Derek watched her go he was filled with conflicting emotions. In the end, he turned and ran in the opposite direction that Awentia had gone. He planned to leave the village and never look back. That was until the sound of gunshots filled the night.

That sound stopped Derek in his tracks and he frowned. That’s right…the colonist werewolves have muskets and pistols. And the deer people are armed with bows and arrows and tomahawks. What will become of the Deer People? Derek wondered uneasily. And more importantly what would become of Awentia?

Rather than following the logical course, Derek decided to listen to his heart for once. He turned around and headed in the direction that Awentia had gone.

Derek ran at top speed - please don’t let me be too late - rounded a corner coming around a teepee, and saw that the front gate had been destroyed. The colonist werewolves had already poured into the village center, muskets raised before them.

The werewolves were only half-transformed. They had wolf heads and their bodies were covered in fur, but they had the arms and legs of a man. In this form, they could still wield their muskets and use their deadly maws for an attack if one of the Deer People got in too close. They were wearing steel armor with matching helmets.

Loud, earsplitting shots rang out as the werewolves fired upon the Deer People and bullets were dangerously whizzing through the air in all directions - several of those bullets hit their marks. Cries of pain filled the air followed by the sobs of the deer women as their loved ones fell one by one. The smell of blood hit Derek’s senses hard, and made him stagger for a moment.

Every time a musket was fired a deer male would fall and would not rise again. It didn’t appear as though the Deer People had regeneration abilities.

But the Deer People were fighting back - loosing arrow after arrow expertly at the werewolves. Arrows hit their marks, but barely seemed to slow the werewolves that kept walking forward with menacing intent.

The Deer People were getting slaughtered.

If this continued in a matter of minutes the entire Catahecassa Tribe would be completely wiped out.

Chief Masichuvio was right…this isn’t my fight. I already lost my fight centuries ago. But these people…have yet to lose theirs! Derek thought before spotting Awentia facing off against a werewolf. She dodged his first musket shot miraculously with her uncanny agility, and retaliated with an arrow.

The arrow hit the werewolf square in the chest, but he kept on coming. Without hesitation, Awentia shot another arrow at the werewolf. This one imbedded itself into the wolf’s shoulder. The werewolf only leered at Awentia and reloaded his musket as he walked towards her.

Shit! Awentia! Derek raised both of his arms before him and summoned his magical power. The Druid could feel his magic pulsing through is veins. He willed his hawk tattoo to come to life. It lifted up off his skin and materialized - blue, shimmery, and translucent.

The hawk took flight and flew towards Awentia and the werewolf she was fighting. “Attack!” Derek ordered the ink creature.

The ink hawk dive-bombed the wolf and clawed at its eyes, blinding the wolf. “Ah, my eyes! Bloody bird!” The werewolf growled angrily.

Awentia whipped out her tomahawk and went in for the kill. She chopped the werewolf’s head off with one stroke.

Derek smirked at her bravery and courage. And a strange feeling of déjà vu washed over him in that moment.

But Derek didn’t stop there and willed his other battle tattoos to materialize. A snake, wolf, panther, bear and stag peeled off Derek’s arms and materialized until they were full-sized creatures.

The werewolves gaped at the ink creatures heading towards them with murderous intent!

Suddenly the tables were turned. Derek’s ink creatures attacked the werewolves ruthlessly. The ink wolf and ink panther leapt through the air and latched onto the throats of two werewolves with their maws before ripping their heads off.

Derek’s snake tattoo slithered up a werewolf’s body, coiled around his throat, and constricted until the werewolf’s head was severed from his body.

At this point all eyes seemed to be on Derek and his captivating display of overwhelming magical power. The deer warrior males were quick to back Derek up and help to finish off the werewolves by chopping off their heads with their tomahawks.

Thanks to the buffalo blood and buffalo steaks Awentia had given Derek while she’d cared for his wounds, he was back to full strength.

“Retreat!” one of the wolves cried out.

“Fall back!” another werewolf cried out as the entire clan began their retreat.

Derek let out a sigh of relief as he watched them running for the broken gate of the village. “Phew.” By this time, he was running low on magical energy and wouldn’t have been able to keep his ink creatures materialized for much longer.

Thank God Fenrir hadn’t tagged along with his men on this particular raid. Fenrir was probably still recovering from the poison arrows Awentia had shot him with, Derek deduced. Fenrir’s absence was probably the only reason they’d won this battle.

They had yet to win the war though.

To be continued in…Tattoo 2: Wolf





Chapter 2: Wolf


As soon as the last of the werewolves ran out the village entrance the deer warriors all raised their bows and tomahawks, and let out triumphant war cries. “Ayayayayay!”

Awentia raised her bow and let out a similar hooting cry, turned to catch Derek’s eye, and shot a smile his way. A gorgeous smile that made Derek’s heart flutter. His own lips quirked into a smile of their own accord.

Chief Masichuvio approached them, covered in the enemies’ blood, but smiling. “The wind brought you back to us, Derek Dearg. We are grateful for your help. You have saved us. The Catahecassa Tribe is forever in your debt. Thank you.” The chief bowed so low that his magnificent antlers touched the ground.

Following their chief’s lead, one by one the Deer People bowed in Derek’s direction, their antlers touching the ground. Even Awentia bowed before Derek.

“Please, raise your heads,” Derek urged, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. “All of you. I am not worthy of such respect.” The deer people rose, and merely offered Derek large thankful grins.

“What are your intentions now, Derek Dearg?” Chief Masichuvio asked curiously.

Derek grew thoughtful for a moment. He’d saved the Deer People’s lives. In a sense he was responsible for them now. And there was no point in doing things half-assed. He would make sure the Deer People won the war against the werewolf clan, and only then would he leave this village and go off in search of Slaine.

A determined glint shone in the Druid’s blue eyes. “I will stay, and teach your warriors how to fight like the werewolves - with muskets. We will even the playing field.”

A flash of surprise crossed Chief Masichuvio’s face. “Muskets? You mean those contraptions that shoot fire and death?”

“Yes.” Derek’s tone was grim. “If you don’t move forward with the times - your people will be left behind and end up at the mercy of others more powerful than they are. This is for the good of your people.”

“The good?” Chief Masichuvio’s voice held a skeptical note to it. “I wonder about that.” Sad, haunting shadows flickered across the chief’s gaze as he thought about how future battles would be for his people.

“At least they’ll be alive, Father,” Awentia spoke up, trotting over to her father and placing a comforting hand on his arm. “And where there is life - there is hope. But with Death…comes only sorrow.” Green eyes filled with sadness, Awentia looked upon the bodies of her fallen comrades.

Chief Masichuvio followed her line of sight. He put his arm around Awentia’s shoulders and hugged her to his side. “You are right,” Chief Masichuvio said at last. “You are wise beyond your years, my daughter.” He patted her head proudly.

That very same night, funeral pyres were built for the dead and then they were cremated. As the smoke from their burning corpses rose up into the night sky the Deer People let out sad cries. “Ayayayayay!”

Derek understood what those cries meant - their dead would be avenged.

As he watched the flickering orange and red flames he couldn’t help but think of Cinnia. He’d been forced to burn a zombified Cinnia to ashes. Fire…always seemed to take his loved ones away from him.

Suddenly, Derek felt sick and couldn’t bear to watch the funeral proceedings any longer. He left in order to be alone with his dark thoughts and haunting memories. His breathing had become irregular and sweat beaded on his brow.

Derek could tell he was close to having a panic attack. He stumbled and had to lean heavily on a teepee that was next to him to stop himself from falling over.

“What’s wrong?” Awentia’s lilting voice came from right beside him.

Derek started, and saw Awentia leaning towards him with her head tilted slightly to one side. He glanced down at her bare chest and gulped. It was incredibly distracting. He ran a shaky hand back through his hair. “Why don’t your people…wear clothes?”

Awentia blinked her wide green eyes at him slowly. “This is the way the Great Spirit made us. We are not ashamed of our bodies. So why should we cover ourselves?”

“Well, that’s…” Derek scratched his cheek with his index finger. “Because when a man looks at a woman’s breasts he becomes aroused.”

“Are you aroused by the sight of my breasts, Derek Dearg?” Awentia asked simply.

Derek was caught off guard by her directness. “Yes. I mean, no! I mean, I’m trying really hard not to be. Argh!” He dug his hands into his hair out of frustration.

Awentia blinked at his antics. “You are a strange male, Derek Dearg. So different from the males in my village. What they want - they simply take. I…like that you are different.” Her green eyes were sparkling with some indefinable emotion.

“Awentia…” Derek breathed and began to lean forward.

Awentia leaned forward as well.

Derek would have kissed her if he hadn’t looked at her red hair. He quickly pulled back. “No. I can’t. I’m sorry, Awentia, but when I look at you…I’m looking at someone else.”

“Your wife?” Awentia questioned with a slight frown on her face. “The Huntress?”

“Yes. I…wait, I never said she was a Huntress, did I?” Derek’s brow furrowed as he tried to recall his past conversations with Awentia.

“Did you?” A mysterious, knowing smile curled Awentia’s lips.

Derek scratched his head, perplexed by her response. Women…

***

Over the next couple of weeks, Derek taught the deer warriors how to forge muskets, make bullets, and black powder. Once their new weapons were ready he began to teach the deer warriors how to use them. He set up a target practice range deep in the forest where he set up several round, wooden bull’s eyes that had been painted with alternating red and white circles.

Derek instructed the deer warriors to stand several yards away from the bull’s eyes, taught them how to properly aim their muskets at the center of the bull’s eyes, and then how to fire.

Awentia was the only female deer warrior - it made Derek smile every time he thought about it and it filled him with an incredible feeling of déjà vu. His Cinnia had been the only female Druid Vampire Huntress - it’d been forbidden in the Blood Oak Clan for a woman to be a Huntress. That hadn’t stopped his Cinnia though.

Derek watched as Awentia raised her loaded musket, aimed at the bull’s eye, and fired. The kickback from the gun sent Awentia flying back and she collapsed to the ground. The deer warrior males cruelly laughed at Awentia’s expense.

Awentia shot them a heated glare as she pushed herself up off the ground and dusted herself off.

The bull’s eye Awentia had fired upon had been knocked back to the ground. “I’ll go reposition it,” Derek offered as he ran off, leaving Awentia alone with the warriors.

“And that is why females are not fit for the battlefield!” Kohana jeered as he trotted over to her. “You are no warrior, Awentia, as much as you try to be. You are a female. You should accept your place as the weaker sex and marry me. I shall protect you.” He thumped his hand against his muscular chest.

Awentia tucked a stray strand of her red hair behind her ear, and glared at Kohana. “I will never marry you! You disgust me.”

Kohana bristled in anger. “Why you little….” But then he seemed to compose himself, and a leer spread across his face. He looked down at her bare chest and licked his lips. “The full moon is almost upon us once more. This time you will not escape me. How long can you resist your primal instincts, I wonder? You will be begging me to take you then. You’ll be nothing but a bitch in heat.” The deer male laughed, and Kohana’s friends readily joined in.

Awentia covered her breasts suddenly feeling self-conscious and ashamed of her nakedness. Maybe Derek was right and the females of the tribe should cover their breasts? Perhaps, that way they’d earn more respect from the males and wouldn’t be treated like objects or trophies. Feeling humiliated, Awentia turned and galloped off into the forest, taking her musket with her.

With tears burning her eyes, Awentia galloped through the forest, leapt over low bushes and dodged trees until she came to a clearing. In the very center of the clearing stood a dead tree with a gnarled trunk. Its leafless branches seemed to be futilely reaching towards the sky.

Awentia angrily brushed the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand, raised her musket, took a deep breath to steel her nerves, aimed, and fired at a round tree knot on the trunk of the tree. A single bullet embedded itself into the tree’s trunk, in the very center of the tree knot.

“Whoo,” a whistle reached Awentia’s ears. “Not bad.”

“Ah!” Awentia started and turned to stare wide-eyed at Derek. “Derek, how did you get here so quickly?”

“I’m a vampire, remember?” Derek reminded her in a droll tone. “I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

“Why did you follow me?” Awentia asked.

“Because you left our training session early,” Derek explained.

“Do you agree with what the males were saying about me?” Awentia held her breath as she awaited Derek’s response.

There was an intense look in Derek’s blue eyes. He could guess what the deer males must have been saying to her while he went off to fix her bull’s eye. “I believe men and women are equals.”

Awentia blinked. “Really?”

“Yes.” Derek’s expression turned serious. “But as a woman you’ll need to work twice as hard to do the things a man can do easily. I’ll train you to use that weapon so that you will shoot better than any man. But I won’t go easy on you because you’re a woman. Are you alright with that?”

“I understand.” Awentia nodded and raised her chin. “Please, teach me.”

“Very well,” Derek said with a proud note to his voice.

After that, Derek gave Awentia private lessons on how to load and shoot a musket. They trained all through the night until the sun began to peek over the horizon, and Derek had to return to the safety of Awentia’s teepee before he caught on fire and turned to ashes.

Awentia chose to stay behind and keep on practicing. Derek was right - because she’d been born a woman everything was going to be twice as hard for her, but she accepted that. If she had to work twice as hard then she would. She didn’t want to marry a deer male that would be her crutch. She wanted to be able to stand on her own feet. She wanted to gain the Tribe’s respect by being a strong, independent deer female.

Over the next few days, Awentia trained with Derek and would continue to train long after he’d returned to the village to escape the sunlight. Painful blisters broke out on her hands from firing the musket and controlling its kickback, but she ignored the pain. After she finished her daily practice with her musket, she would move on to practicing with her bow so that her archery skills wouldn’t get rusty.


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