“Marconi’s dead?” Erkan blinked.
“That’s right,” Nico nodded, “Seems like the Nervettis were done with him.”
“What does that mean, then?” Savina asked.
Nico shrugged, “It’s not like the entire human criminal underground is just going to disappear. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nervettis tried to take control of it either directly or through a figurehead of some sort- or another Marconi. However, with the losses they’ve suffered recently they’ll probably lay low for a while. Even if some were just hired goons, nobody will want to work for them for a while. Not if they end up dead.”
“There are so many people who have died for this…” Erkan shook his head.
“There have been what, seven or so deaths related to this whole thing? Eight with Marconi. Over two months that’s not that much for how things have become since the mafia moved in. The only significant thing is a dead vampire, two werewolves, and a blood mage. That’s an actual significant portion of those populations. Though, the blood mage population did increase by one recently as well.”
“You’re awfully cavalier about death,” Erkan responded.
“Nobody I liked died,” Nico shook his head, “Why worry about anything else? Hell, only criminals died. While a couple of those deaths may have been a bit… excessive… I think overall things went well. Anyway, I’ll be busy with this stuff for a while still, but I think things will be safer. Which reminds me… you need to get your own place.”
“Yeah, I’ve been looking… but I couldn’t exactly do much during all of this. I’m definitely not moving back to my last place… just in case.”
“I know a good place,” Peter mentioned. “I live in a little supernatural-friendly apartment complex. You can even come for a tour at night, the assistant manager is a vampire.”
“That would be very convenient…” Erkan nodded.
“Good.” Nico nodded, “It doesn’t have to be right away, of course. Now then… want to show us the blood magic pattern you used to kill that werewolf? It must have been tricky.”
Savina looked surprised, “You killed a werewolf with blood magic?”
“Yeah. I started with small spikes of blood…” Erkan began sketching on the large sheet of paper Nico had placed on the table, “That wouldn’t have done much, so I used Peter’s blood for power and to target the incoming werewolf- I could sense him beyond the gate. Once he was injured, the idea was to draw any blood from them back into the circle to power it.” Erkan continued sketching with a pencil, occasionally erasing. “Something like this.”
Nico nodded, “I see. Controlling blood inside someone is tricky and power intensive, but if there’s a big enough injury the power can be used to create more…” Nico shrugged, “Or if they avoided the initial attack the circle would have done almost nothing. Using Peter’s blood gave it the extra boost of power it needed for that and the resonance necessary… what about the human?”
Erkan shrugged, “I don’t know. I assume his magical resistance was just bad… or maybe the circle wasn’t as in control as I thought.”
“Seems dangerous,” Savina nodded, “But that’s true of any weapon.”
“Yeah,” Erkan shrugged, “We just shot the blood mage. I mean, I used some blood magic to protect us from them, but I could still feel them trying to reverse our blood flow. That would… knock us out, I guess. I don’t think they had a circle prepared for that though.”
Nico nodded seriously, “Preparation is the most important thing for a mage. They did not expect you to be there at all, but you knew they were there. That gave you the edge you needed.” Nico paused for a moment, “We haven’t yet identified the blood mage. She probably wasn’t working directly for the Nervettis, unless she was a more recent hire. There are a few less reputable blood magic cabals around… but normally they know better than to kill someone in public.”
Erkan sighed, “I don’t think I want to meet any of these other blood mages. I’m having enough trouble with my own studies as it is.”
“Well,” Nico responded, “You are probably right in avoiding them. In addition, hopefully you can learn a lesson they didn’t consider.”
“What is that?” Erkan asked.
“You can still get shot.”
Erkan looked down at his chest, feeling a slight twinge, “Oh, I definitely realize that.”
For the first time in weeks, Erkan found himself back at work. He’d received a message from his boss about showing up to work properly, and needing the whole team, and all of that… but Erkan’s boss didn’t work the night shift, and he didn’t care. He’d properly taken vacation days for most of the time he was gone anyway, and he preferred being alive.
“Erkan!” A voice called out from behind him, “Where have you been? I’ve sent you like a hundred messages.” Erkan turned to see the familiar face of Akio walking down the hallway.
Erkan looked at his phone, “I don’t see any messages.” He fiddled with his phone for a second, “Oh, you sent them to my work email? I don’t get notifications for that.”
“Because I don’t work outside of work.” Erkan looked down at the bag of blood Akio was holding, “That blood’s gone bad.”
Akio held it up and squinted, “It says it expires next week. You forget the date?”
Erkan shook his head, “Anyway, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Oh, my cousin’s having a wedding. My sister needs a date- I know you have a girlfriend, but this wouldn’t be a real thing. I just know she can’t find someone on her own, and she’d be too embarrassed to show up alone. And no, she can’t go with me.”
“Hmm…” Erkan thought for a few moments. “During the day?”
“Of course it is. Most people are daywalkers, you know.”
“Eh…” Erkan supposed he should probably see the sun occasionally, and nobody would try to kill him at a wedding. “I’ll think about it.”
Author’s note: This is the end of ‘book 1’ of Blood. This spot in the schedule will be followed by a few weeks (maybe a month) of some pilot chapters for a fantasy series, after which there will be voting for which of Blood or that new series people want to see continued.