IRE Scoville Scale: Tastefully Wicked

Fifteen years earlier
Suisun, CA.

Feeling bone weary, Gabriel dragged his rain soaked body to the doorstep of a modest brick building overlooking the Sonoma River. He had never been there before but a profound sense of peace swept over him as he stood on the doorstep. Mustering what little strength he possessed, Gabriel lifted his hastily bandaged bloody hand and turned the doorknob. Inside the dimly lit foyer, silence and the smell of worn leather greeted him—he rested his back against the door.

An older man who looked like a Charles Dickens character came down the stairs cautiously; his eyes fixed on Gabriel slumped over. “May I help you?” he asked. Gabriel’s eyes flew to his.

“I’m a Kelley,” Gabriel said.

“Dear God.” The old man smiled proudly. “I know who you are.” He took Gabriel by the shoulder and helped him stand. “You’re injured?” He opened Gabriel’s shirt, taking an inventory of his wounds. “These are mostly superficial. You’ll live.” He looked around. “Where is Vanessa? Why isn’t she with you?”

“She flashed me here. She went back for Dorian.”

“He’s here then.” For the first time the old man seemed taken aback. “But where’s his Cisan? You never travel alone.” The grim look on Gabriel’s face answered his question. “Then it’s true. They’re here.”

“Yes.” Gabriel exhaled, pushing himself toward the stairs. “We’re staying here tonight. We need to rest awhile.”

“Of course. Your room is upstairs on the right.” He went to Gabriel’s side. “I’ll put the kettle on and bring you something to eat.”

“Thank you.” He was starving. “One second.” He caught the old man’s arm before he could walk away and said coldly. “Show me.”

The old man took his arm back and lifted his shirtsleeve to his elbow, revealing a distinctive marking: a serpent coiled around a sword. “I’m Sebastian, a Heilende.”

Gabriel laughed and placed his hand on the old man’s shoulder. “A Heilende? You’re modest. You’re the Heilende, the venerable one.” He began up the stairs. “See to Dorian as soon as he arrives.”

Gabriel’s room was moderately furnished: a simple bed, dresser and seating. He stood at the window removing his clothing and watching the moonlight drift across the rippled river. “Damn it.” The fabric stung as it came away from his battered flesh. He went to the sink and washed himself. Sebastian had been right; his wounds were mostly superficial save the deep gashes on his hand and torso. They hurt like the devil!

Sebastian knocked and came through the door carrying a tray of bread, cheese and sliced meat. He sat it beside the bed where Gabriel lay before taking a seat and examining his patient. “So, am I to understand that the council has chosen me to act as your Heilende?”

Gabriel grinned. “Do you think they’d entrust me to anyone else? You’re the best we have”

“Well, I can’t deny that I’ve gotten more than one of you out of trouble,” he said with a feigned theatrical bravado that amused Gabriel. “It’s an honor to serve you, sir.” He looked at the gash on Gabriel’s hand. “I’d ask how this happened but I’m guessing you’d have to kill me afterward.”

“You’re quite right.” Gabriel reached for his food. “Let’s just say we won.”

“Good enough for me although whatever happened must have been massive since you weren’t able to transport yourself to my door. Take a deep breath.” He placed his hand atop Gabriel’s torso, lessening Gabriel’s pain immediately. “You’ll heal by morning. No scarring. You’ll be right as rain.” He stared absently at Gabriel as he ate. It was as though he was looking at the face of a God. His body was bloodied and bruised yet it was a work of absolute perfection—and now he lay in his bed. The wheels on the machine were turning. Sebastian had served generation upon generation of Kelleys, but Gabriel was the one by which everything hinged. Some read the prophecy as his march to death; however, Sebastian wasn’t sold. He saw in Gabriel something stronger than death. “You look so much like your mother.”

“You knew her?”

“I was with her in the end.” His eyes went to Gabriel’s hand again. “I know your father. He’s a legend.”

Gabriel lived with everyone’s high opinion of his father. He was undeniably a great man, but Gabriel longed to hear them speak of his mother. With time, she was all but forgotten. “What was she like, my mother? I can’t remember her.”

“She was a brave woman and extremely beautiful. Some say she was the most beautiful creature they’d ever seen. And I’m inclined to agree. She …” He stopped when they heard screaming coming from downstairs.

“Fuuuckin’ hell!!!” The agonizing scream became louder. “God!!” There was a heavy thud.

“And that would be Dorian.” Gabriel chuckled. “Go. He needs you more than I do.”

“Apparently so. I don’t know how you all manage to get yourselves into these jams.” Sebastian went to the door. “I’ll check on you before I retire.”

“There’s no need. I’m fine now. Goodnight.”


“Sebastian!” Gabriel called and Sebastian turned. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry about what happened to Kayla.”

Sebastian gave a pinched grin. “She knew what was expected of her. We all do.” He left.

Gabriel sat in bed and ate his dinner while listening to Dorian shout to the high heavens before he, presumably, fell asleep in the room next door. “Goodnight Dorian.” He tapped the wall and waited for a reply.

“Bite me.” 


It was late and Sebastian sat amongst his books deep in thought. The time had finally come upon him. It seemed such a pity after all these years. Exhausted, he welcomed what would come. He watched his underlings sacrificed, one by one, in services of their Order. With the arrival of the Deckens, Gabriel and Dorian, the final piece of the puzzle fell in place.

A millennium ago, the sprite world was ravaged by an endless civil war amongst the two noble families, the Devereauxs and Ariens. It was blood against blood; kinsmen against kinsmen—each vying for power—neither holding it for long. Each fighting for what they believed was theirs by right, yet neither saw the obvious. Both families were a fusion of Greek Gods, vampire, werewolf, and everything else that went thump in the night. But only the Ariens women carried the much-revered human gene. Then came a mighty Devereaux prince, Xenes, who would unite the families for eternity and bring order where there was chaos. For as long as a Devereaux prince and Ariens princess, then known as Avalons, sat upon the throne there would be peace. To protect their alliance, the princesses’ bloodline would live amongst the mortals as humans for a thousand years until sought and bitten by a Devereaux prince—effectively returning them to the sprite world to begin their thousand year reign.

Many praised Xenes’ vision, however some vilified him. As such, Xenes appointed Deckens, an ancient order of beings descended from the Ariens and ruled by the Kelley family, whose sole purpose for living was to protect the Avalons from Übels, a minor branch of the Devereaux family hell bent on purifying their bloodline and taking back what they believed was theirs. Both feared and revered for their loyalty and fighting ability, the Deckens led by Harold Kelley, were indeed the gatekeepers to the royal family. A deserter, Quinn, the younger brother of Harold who believed that real supremacy rested with them, led a civil war within the Deckens. Harold’s attempt to reason with his brother proved fruitless—it was truly brother against brother.

Weapons raised, Harold’s army descended on Quinn’s army like a swarm of hungry locusts. It was a merciless slaughter. Historical chroniclers wrote of the warriors’ tortured screams, the sounds of tearing flesh, the chewing, and the cries of the wounded. But their words failed to truly capture the violence. The battle was swift and violent. Within the hour, Quinn’s army lay at his feet. He turned and looked out at the vista, knowing it was only a matter of time before Harold came for him.

When the time came, Harold offered his brother the choice of beheading or disembowelment, as these were the only methods by which a Decken could be killed. Rather than submit, Quinn charged Harold, leaving him no alternative. Harold ripped his brother’s guts free of him. Though he was a traitor, Harold ensured Quinn was given a proper burial befitting a Kelley. Dressed in their family robe, he was laid atop a high altar and mourned. Xenes and his queen, Syngin, united the world of supernatural beings under one powerful kingdom and peace came at last. Harold had achieved the same for the Deckens.

Generation after generation of Avalons passed with Deckens standing guard over the prince from his birth through him entering the human realm and finding his princess. Harold, living in the human realm, sensing unrest, tasked his eldest son Gabriel with guarding the princess, unbeknownst to her, while his youngest son Dorian managed the prince. Meanwhile, Harold turned his attention to the sprite world and putting to rest his own demons.

Without the princess, their delicate balance would certainly be rocked with war. She only needed to listen to the fairytales passed down from generation to generation and wonder if it was all a lie or if she would be the princess in the stories. They lived their lives as humans—but somewhere in the back of their minds they all waited to be found and bitten.

Gabriel, Dorian nor their Cisans were to intervene or force the meeting under any circumstances. Their duty was to keep the couple alive, offer the prince guidance and ensure their safe passage back to the sprite world before the thousand year reign of their predecessors was complete.

Time was running out. And to complicate matters, they’d fallen in love with humans. 


Present day
London, England

The train pulled into the station shortly after three a.m. The gentleman’s preferred method of transit allowed him the pleasure of two new kills. In his defense, one happened to be a drunk and obnoxiously loud Italian whom he’d politely asked more than once to shut up. Stepping onto the station’s platform, he spotted a pretty young French girl—tall, blonde and succulent, no older than nineteen. He returned her flirtatous smile through the sea of exiting passengers with a nod and went on his way. Playtime was over; it was time to get down to business.

Outside there was a slight chill to the early morning air. “I hate London,” he mumbled to himself as he hailed a cab. He quickly tossed his bag inside and produced the address for his hotel for the cabbie.

“Nice place,” the cabbie remarked, his tone far too friendly for the early hours. “You’re visiting?”

It took a moment for the gentleman to realize he was being spoken to. Irritated that he’d been interrupted while in thought, he turned his attention to the cabbie and asked, “What?”

“Are you visiting London on business or pleasure?” the cabbie asked, making eye contact with the gentleman in the rearview mirror.


“You should enjoy the sights while you’re here. I have …”

“Please.” The gentleman shot the cabbie a cold look through the mirror. “Spare me your meaningless banter and drive.”

“Take it easy, pal. I was just being friendly.”

The gentleman pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. “That wasn’t a suggestion. That was a warning.”

Terrified, the cabbie placed both hands at ten and two and shut his mouth. As they sped along, he stole clipped glances at the gentleman. He was well dressed in a tailored black suit. Stiff? Yes, but it didn’t scream “I’m going to be sacrificing goats and throwing virgins into volcanoes later” so he took his aloofness as a character flaw rather than anything menacing….this opinion would change before they reached their destination When they pulled up to the hotel curb, he wasted no time asking for his fee. “This one is on me.” He wanted out of this guy’s presence as soon as possible. As the gentleman stepped from the car, the cabbie had the overwhelming compulsion to visit every church, synagogue and shrine along the way to offer up thanks for deliverance. 


Gabriel awoke to a darkened room and crisp rays of moonlight colliding with the ever increasing voices in his head. Samantha was a week into her assignment and he was glad of it. In her absence, he could be one with his darker thoughts without fear of detection. For the time being, the less she knew about him, the better; though given his escalating uneasiness and inability to contact his father he began regretting not having her under his watchful eye. And unfortunately Samantha wasn’t doing a very good job of convincing him that he was being paranoid. Most of their conversations were her chatting about the excavation, which was going fantastically well. Her only complaint was about the new anthropologist, Dr. Drew Cordell, they were bringing in. She never worked with him, knew nothing of his work, and had little interest in someone new coming onboard screwing up her plans. Arrogant, narcissistic, self-absorbed academics—they’re all alike, and Samantha was no different.

Though she hated to admit it, Samantha wanted Gabriel by her side. She was accustomed to trips abroad and she never longed to have a significant other with her. But at the end of the day when she was alone, she missed Gabriel—none more so than when she was told that the trip would be extended due to adverse weather. It was England; the weather was neither friend nor foe; it simply was. It didn’t take much coaxing to get Gabriel to agree to fly in for the weekend. In truth, he planned on making the trip before their conversation. For shits and giggles, he allowed Samantha to beg him to come; she wasn’t the only one with an ego.

The next day Gabriel called Dorian and they laid out a plan for his departure. Just what Dorian needed: Gabriel gone … again and Claire showing the signs of early pregnancy. There was only so much of him to go around. In light of current unexplained events, Dorian kept Claire under close watch and insisted on her calling before she left the shop in the evenings. But it wasn’t enough—something wasn’t sitting right.

Claire turned the shop lights off as she prepared to leave for the day. She printed out one last receipt from the register and tucked it inside her purse. She didn’t have the energy to stash it properly in her organizer. Her hands were shaking and her breathing was labored. “Hey, it’s closing time.” She addressed the old man sitting at his corner table sipping coffee. “What are you still doing here?” She took the seat in front of him.

“It’s my favorite time of day. You can just about set your watch to the exact second the sun will set behind that building.” He drew Claire’s eye outside the window to the tall gray office building across the street. “This is the perfect spot to watch it fade. Besides, I thought you could use the company.”

“Thanks.” She smiled awkwardly. “I don’t mean to snap at you. This cold is getting the better of me.”

“You haven’t been yourself for a couple of weeks. You’ve gone to your physician and they can’t diagnose what’s happening to you, correct?”

Claire looked puzzled. “Yeah, you’re right. How did you know?”

The old man took a drink from his cup. “A few days ago, you didn’t come in until after noon. You don’t strike me as a person who’d leave her shop unless it was important—something like a doctor’s appointment. And seeing that you’re still unwell, whatever they did didn’t work.” He winked. “It’s simple observation.”

“Good observation! Better than the folks I’m paying.” She loosened the top button of her shirt.

“You’re having difficulty breathing,” he stated rather than asked. He took her trembling hands in his until he felt them give way and then said. “You’re not pregnant that’s for certain.”

“Well, thanks for that bit of information. Dorian will be so pleased.” She returned the old man’s smile.

“Don’t be so sure of that. Dorian might surprise you.”

“He surprises me daily.” She stood and gathered her purse. “Let’s go. You can walk me out.” The old man joined her.

“I’ll walk you home. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”

He tucked Claire’s arm into his and they made the short walk to her place. Along the way he talked of his past and she talked about hers. She assumed wrongly that he was American; in fact, he was German, an expat since the 60’s. He never married and had no children of his own but he was frequented by his nieces from time to time … which was fine with him. He enjoyed his solitary life. He offered to walk Claire upstairs but she declined and said goodnight on the steps.

The old man waited on the curb until he saw Claire’s living room light come on. She was safe inside.


Three more days until Gabriel arrived … not that Sam was counting. She had her hands full overseeing her students and briefing the production team. She couldn’t imagine doing anything else in life. Knee deep in trenches, uncovering ancient artifacts that hadn’t been touched by another human in centuries, delegating duties and having them carried out without question—yeah, she was in her element. It was enough to give her girlie wood. But all the excitement came to a crashing end when she was introduced to Dr. Cordell. He was overtly handsome with amber colored shoulder length hair and piercing gray eyes not unlike Gabriel’s. He oozed charm when he spoke, which wasn’t often. However, when the mood struck him, he had a good in his eye that drew you. Within hours, he was the favorite amongst the ladies.

However, Sam had no stomach for him. Their initial exchange was icy and brief. He sensed the tension between them and sought her out to apologize for any slight he may have inadvertently caused.

“Please don’t apologize,” Sam said cataloging their last finds of the day. “It’s nothing, really. I’m just very busy.” She moved around him. “Shouldn’t you be doing something?” she laid one last jabbed as she walked away.

“At least allow me to take you to dinner, as colleagues nothing else.” He caught up to her. “You could show me around London.”

“Dr. Cordell...”

“Please, call me Drew.”

Sam stopped and turned to him. “Dr. Cordell, we’ve been given an unprecedented opportunity to probe the geophysics and history of three royal residences. So you can imagine we’re a little busy. Please, find someone else to fuck.” She left him standing in place.

“Women.” He snorted.