Authors: Kim Culpepper
The Blood Talisman
“Please Hyperion. Let’s forge a truce
and stop all this killing.” The man dressed as a king was kneeling
before a humble yet powerful-looking person. “We will let you
practice witchcraft but you must stop your followers from tearing
through town after town.”
Hyperion, in his mid-fifties, had seen
better years. His three young children played in a room nearby.
They chased each other with tiny brooms made out of hay. Whenever
one of them was caught, to the other two knighted him or her by
placing the broom handle of each side of their tiny shoulders. It
disturbed the king to see being knighted as a bad thing. He
couldn’t imagine why a father would teach his children to be so
“Emperor Julian, I find it ironic that
a man of your stature be driven to such desperate measures as to
ask a known necromancer for help. Aren’t we usually persecuted and
beheaded in front of an audience?” Hyperion asked.
“I will offer you anything on behalf of
my country. Greece must be saved from these over-emotional
creatures. Swords are no match for man-sized wolves, nor for
blood-drinking vampires that can walk in the light after they are
dead. We can bury them in chains but the wolves just dig them up.
We are desperate.”
“The years of persecution on behalf of
my fellow witches will finish and the war over rulership of
humankind will end. I will make this truce with you but I must have
a blood offering.”
“Anything. I would give my life for
this great country,” Julian proudly proclaimed. He stood with his
chest puffed out, ready for death on behalf of the future of
Hyperion walked over to his children
and watched them in the next room for a moment before closing a
curtain, shielding them from his words.
How many children do you
have?” he asked, his back still turned away from Julian.
The emperor fell to his knees and said,
“Please no. You can’t ask for the life of one of them. I won’t give
them to you. They are so young!”
Hyperion turned and stared down at him
with derision. “Get up, you fool. I’m not asking for death. You
can’t forge peace in death. I ask for only a drop of his precious
blood to create a bond that will last as long as an object I have
in mind is placed in it.”
Julian raised himself up to his feet
and questioned Hyperion. “An object and a drop of one of my
children’s blood will end this war of epidemic proportions? I can’t
believe such magic exists.”
“That is the problem with you heretics.
Non-believers cannot fathom something so simple yet so complex. You
will never understand the true meaning of life and death. You all
hide behind beliefs of saving grace and people who live as humans.
A monster will never be beautiful in your eyes.”
“Those that rip throats out and pick
human flesh from bone are not beautiful. I see only death in their
“That’s just it. There is a person
behind those beastly eyes who has no choice but to feast on from
the people that betray their own kind. They have a hunger within
them that is insatiable. It’s a hunger for life.”
“I can’t listen to you describing my
friends and family as meals for those… animals,” Julian
Hyperion chuckled and responded, “And
this is why we would never be accepted as members of your
Julian crossed the room to stand closer
to Hyperion. He could not find the answers he sought in Hyperion’s
stern face and cold eyes. He had an outstanding reputation amongst
the other practitioners of witchcraft. Being known as the only
necromancer, Julian knew that Hyperion retained powers that no
other witch could battle against.
“The truth is,” sneered Julian, “that
you are just another bad witch. They say that eyes are windows into
one’s soul. Your eyes are bleak and without emotion. Did you give
it all to the vampires and wolves?”
“Actually, I was much more powerful
than I am today. Some of my powers are passed onto each child I
father. My son, my firstborn, got my telekinetic powers, my first
daughter got my healing powers, and my second got the most powerful
of them all. However, I have retained my immortality and I don’t
intend giving that away. I can, however, harness it into a
talisman. I will need the blood of youth to bind it.”
“You will use my son’s blood to create
this talisman?” asked Julian.
“The wolves and the vampires will no
longer be immortal. They may be defeated.”
“Why do I feel like there is a catch?”
“Because there is. Do you think I would
simply end this war and not gain anything from it?”
Julian rolled his eyes and continued to
pace the floor, imagining every horrible scenario
Well what is it?” he said
after a spell of silence.
“I and my children will become
immortal. Your child’s blood will bind him and his ancestors to my
three. To create this truce and make my creatures immortal once
again, your son or his predecessors must become one of my
creatures. My children and I will protect your family for all of
eternity and in return we get to live in peace forever. I’m
protected, you’re protected. We all win.”
“I’m not protected at all,” protested
Julian. “What if one of those things try to turn my son just to
retain its immortality?”
“They will have to take the talisman
from my dead body. There are only three people on this earth who
can kill me and they’re playing in the next room.” Hyperion opened
the curtain to look at his children, who were now asleep on
blankets on the floor. “Sol, Rose, and Selene have great destinies
awaiting them. They have no idea they possess the power to rule
this world. They have the same chance to do so as your offspring. A
father could never want more than privilege for their children.
Could you not agree Julian?”
Julian looked over Hyperion’s shoulder
at the sleeping children and agreed to the truce for the sake of
The necromancer made his talisman and
wore it proudly. The wolves were grateful to the immortal for
creating a truce that let them live in relative peace. The few
vampires that fled Greece stayed in shadows and mixed in with human
Alex Jacobs looked up at the sun with
irritation. He couldn’t believe that after working all day in the
scorching Afghanistan heat, he would have to cover yet another
shift. At least this time he would be working at night, when it got
nice and cold in the desert. Another notch on his scale of hatred
was the fact that he would have to work with the most annoying
soldier in his troop, watching over the others as they
Private Gene Bailey was a short skinny
prick with glasses and a stutter, when he got nervous. Alex wanted
to slap him when he stuttered to make him talk right.
S-s-see you this
e-e-evening P-p-private J-j-jacobs,” he stuttered to Alex as they
walked at ease back to their bunks to rest up for the
Just call me Alex like
everyone else does, okay?” Alex replied with a weary smile and a
tired voice. He still wanted to slap him. He wondered how Bailey
had even made it past basic training with that stutter.
Alex put his guns onto the floor
beside his bunk and plopped down onto his bed. He laid back and
closed his eyes to see her. He hadn’t touched his wife’s face in
eighteen months. He slowly rubbed the stubble on his face,
remembering the feel of her fingers on him. He smiled, showing his
pearly white teeth encased in a dusty and dirty face.
He patted his pants pocket to feel for
her picture. It was tattered and worn from too many glances. Her
long brown hair spread over the bed that she posed on. She wore his
favorite pair of shorts. The ones that if she bent over would show
her ass cheeks. He smirked thinking about them. He turned the
picture over to read the inscription that said, ‘Alex, for those
lonely nights in the desert. Xs and Os, Amalia’. Her quirky sense
of humor always made him smile.
Alex kissed the writing on the back of
the picture. Just seeing those few words that she’d written made
him feel closer to her. He smiled and slipped the picture back in
his pants pocket. He sighed and thought about how much he wanted to
be home with her. He closed his eyes to see her in his mind. He
imagined her soft tanned hands rubbing up the sides of his thighs
and up to the front of his chest. She snaked her way up to his face
and kissed his thin lips. She softly whispered “I love you” in his
ear, and he smiled. Her long brown hair tickled his scruffy face
and he pushed her hair behind her ears.
Before he realized it, he was drifting
slowly to sleep. He dreamt of what it would be like when he got
home. She would run to greet him off the plane, she would kiss his
face, and he would wipe away her tears. It’s all that he wanted and
needed. Just her.
P-p-private J-j-acobs,” he
heard faintly. “Alex?”
Alex didn’t want to leave his dreams.
He could hear a ruckus in the distance as his troop commander
stomped toward the tent. Alex jerked, sitting straight up on his
cot. With his eyes wide open he turned to see Commander John
Fortner pushing stuttering Gene to the side as if he were merely an
object blocking his path.
Move the fuck outta the
way, Bailey,” the commander shouted. “What in the hell is the
holdup?” he continued.
Alex rose from his cot and stood at
attention, saluting his commander. “At your command, Sir,” he
At ease, Jacobs. What the
hell is the hold up? You were supposed to report at your night post
an hour ago. If you don’t want to get out of the desert sooner than
expected, there are plenty of other willing soldiers waiting to
leave this warzone.”
No sir, sorry sir. I won’t
let it happen again.”
Bailey, take Jacobs out to
his post and begin your watch. Next time I tell you to grab your
co-constituent, you’d better do so with haste or I will have your
ass on a platter!”
He left the bunks and Alex looked at
Gene with malice in his eyes.
Why didn’t you get me
sooner?” Alex asked, evenly.
I d-d-didn’t think
a-a-about i-i-t,” Gene managed to sputter out.
The Commander had made him immensely
nervous and Alex felt bad for him. He knew not to speak to him
anymore because it would take him forever to get one sentence out
at this point.
Whatever, man. Let’s go
before he has another coronary,” Alex sighed as he gathered his
ammo, gun, and sterling silver hunting knife off of the
They headed outside where the sun had
already set and it immediately felt like fall. The heat of the day
was gone, but not forgotten. It would be back with a vengeance
Alex rubbed his haggard face, ignoring
his weary soul, ready to work another shift in the desert. Every
shift worked got him one step closer to Amalia.
He and Gene went their own separate
ways into the night. He began to think about all of the other
soldiers who’d got to go home early after working the night shifts.
Good fellows, wanting only their wives and families. The single
ones were always happy to stay. Alex had more to fight for, though.
He had Amalia to fight for and that was enough to take on every
night shift for months.
After patrolling the desert for hours,
crossing paths with Gene now and again, Alex clicked on his watch
light to catch the time. 01:00 hours. It was beginning to get
exceptionally cold in the desolate darkness of the desert. Alex
realized he hadn’t seen Gene since 11:00 hours and began to wonder
where he’d got to.
A wolf howled in the distance and Alex
clicked on his flashlight, concerned at what might have happened to
Gene. The wolves in the area had become more daring and vicious
lately. They had already attacked and killed several villagers near
Kandahar because of a bad winter and lack of food.
Gene!” Alex whispered into
Only a soft desert wind
Gene!” he called