“Strikes you, doesn’t it?” A rich, slightly accented voice spoke up from my right.
“Who are they?” I looked over at the man who stood directly beside me. He was slightly taller than me and stocky with neatly combed red hair, trimmed red beard, and freckled skin.
“All of them are children who have gone missing in the city within the last week.” He examined the photos papering the wall with arms folded across his chest.
I followed his gaze back to the cherub faces that stared out of snapshots and family photos that covered the wall twice as high as me and along the entire interior cubicle wall. There were over a hundred children pictured, with names, dates, and places last seen typed neatly under every picture. As we stood there, a young woman tacked another picture with a neatly typed card at the far right end of the wall. They were running out of space.
“This isn’t normal.” I stated. Something in the back of my mind was screaming at me, but the sound was muffled and I couldn’t make out the thought. Deep in my heart a sense of horrified familiarity had planted a seed. I had seen this before, somewhere, but a logical trace through my memories couldn’t dredge up where.
“Children go missing all the time.” Now the man turned to me and fixed me with eyes so dark they were nearly black. His ears, which I had not noticed earlier, were slightly pointed. The air around him shimmered and I knew he was using a massive amount of glamour. He wanted me to know it too. Moreover, I could feel him looking past my human shell, the part of me that needed no glamour, and into the very essence of my blood, my fairy line. In the busy central office of the Baltimore City police station two people now stared at each other and knew without any doubt in their mind that the other was just as supernatural as they were.
“Not like this.” I shook my head at the cherubs smiling out at us. “They’re too young to be runaways.”
“Someone is taking them.” He nodded. I could see through the shimmer in the air around him, he was drawing his glamour back around himself to hide from the humans.
“Please, come into my office.” He gestured behind us and I followed him through a glass door into a separated fishbowl of an office located at the edge of the cubicled central office. However, once he closed the door, all sounds from the outside were completely blocked. I sat in the chair across the desk from him and read his nameplate: James O’Donnell.
“My name is Eirnin. My people came here from what is now the Breton region of France seven hundred years ago.” He settled back into the creaking high-backed desk chair and folded his hands together under his chin.
“Seven hundred years?”
“We were escaping the covens that controlled Europe. America had not yet been discovered by the majority of the Western world. It seemed a safe place to come to at the time.” His accent was more pronounced now. He fixed me with dark eyes, “So, tell me, how does a descendant of Mercy Elizabeth Tate come to be escorted into my police station by a werewolf who states you single handedly defeated a sanguisage?”
“Would you like me to repeat it?”
“No, I heard you. It’s just that I learned a lot in that question than I think I have to tell you in an answer.”
“I doubt it. You answer my question, then I will answer yours.”
“Detective blackwolf came to the branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library where I work, in Mt. Vernon, looking for historical information for a case. I helped him out, and saw he had a picture of a door with runes on it. Protective runes that were extremely powerful. The doors they kept shut were at either end of a slave smuggling tunnel that Detective Blackwolf seemed to think a drug suspect was using to evade police.”
“You didn’t think so. So you found the entrance he hadnt found yet.”
“Only he met us there.”
“Myself and my cousin Amy.”
“The young lady Detective Blackwolf is talking to now?”
“The door was broken outward and smeared with rotting blood when we got there. Detective blackwolf was in the process of telling us to leave when we were attacked by that thing.”
“Yes, that. What was it?”
“It’s a weapon created by mashing together human body parts and marinating them in a soup of vampire blood, among other things, until they develop a life of their own.”
“I think Detective Blackwolfs suspect was part of it.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I just know. I could feel it. When I killed it.”
“Destroyed it, you mean.” I gave him a quizzical look and he smiled, “You can’t kill what is already dead.”
“You said it was created by marinating it in vampire blood. Does that mean that there was a vampire killed too?”
“Did you feel one?”
“Yes, but it didn’t feel the same as the people who the body parts came from.”
“That’s because the vampire is what created it.” He sat back in his chair again, the joints complaining loudly, “Vampires have many weapons in their arsonal. Some of them more terrible than others.”
“That one must have been the worst.”
“not necessarily.” He looked out of the office window at the board of photographs.
“Children? What can a vampire do with children? They’re just infants, they can barely walk.” I could feel my brow curling and a flat denial rising in my heart, but that niggling seed of familiar horror seemed to be growing as I looked once again at the wall of cherubs.
“You said you work at the Mt. Vernon branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The one that was originally a church?” I nodded. “When you go to work next, I want you to look up two things, terminology that I want you to become extremely knowledgable about. The first, are Natali Nosferatu, and how to destroy them. The second, and this might be more difficult to find, is to look up any and all references you can find on Nightmare Children. Both are related to the weaponry used by Vampires during the Dark Ages, to give you a good starting point.”