The undead corpse of a vampire snapped at one of the spectators, before turning its attention back to the rose bush.
“That’s odd,” Lawson said, staring at the courtyard.
“What is it, Lawson?” Laurent asked.
Without answering, the hunter unbolted the front door, and stepped outside.
“Are you mad? Surely they will attack you.” Laurent tried pulling him back inside.
“Will they?” Lawson walked to the center of the courtyard and stood. Zombies devoured the flowers and bushes, not paying any heed.
“They do not appear interested in us, at least not yet,” said Lawson. “Without inhibitions, a vampire’s first inclination should be to attack a mortal, but even that appears secondary to their newfound hunger.”
The two gazed at dozens of cadavers huddled in the garden.
“Come, I must check my steed.”
As they approached the stables, a body flew through the doors, landing on its head. The corpse snapped its head back into place, and wandered off.
Lawson peeked through the door, and exhaled. Twitching its tail, Taurus paced in a circle before spotting its master. “Beast and cadaver fight over the same feed. It will not be long before one of their appetites changes.” He rubbed Taurus’ snout.
He climbed over the rail, and tied a saddle atop the horse. “Laurent, I need my hunting knife for an experiment. Could you get it for me?”
“Father will not go for it.” Laurent shook his head.
“Fine, then I will need you to dissect the corpse for me; it is imperative that we uncover the underlying motive.” Lawson buckled a halter around Taurus’ head. “Lord Vangley has not barred you from being my aid, and thus, using my tools. As long as you wield them and not I, we are still in the letter of our agreement.”
“Very well, Lawson. I will get it for you. But the knife only,” said Laurent.
“And the bow,” Lawson added.
Laurent smirked. “And the bow. I will get them while you subdue one of the zombies.”
“Agreed,” said Lawson.
Laurent walked a few paces, and turned. “But how do you plan to-”
Lawson grabbed a horseshoe hanging from a post, and flung it at a zombie. It pinged off its head, detaching the cranium from its shoulders.
Hunter and vampire stared at one another.
“Sorry, it must have slipped from my hand.” Lawson shrugged. “I was planning to entertain myself with a round of horseshoe until you got back.”
“Indeed,” Laurent smiled, and exited the stable.
Carefully, Laurent slit open the zombie’s chest.
“You have the hands of an artisan, Laurent. You do not need to be so delicate destroying a corpse.” Lawson hammered down with the horseshoe, shattering the sternum. With his bare hands, he ripped open the chest, uncovering a bevy of waning organs laced maggots. “I don’t think this one has a heart,” he chuckled.
Laurent turned aside and heaved.
“Oh, can I try?” Deverrell poked the corpse with his fork.
“You will not get far with that weakling,” Dionte giggled at Laurent.
The hunter grinned, taking the knife from Laurent’s hand, and sawing the rib cage open. The two boys gasped as he dug his hands deep, plowing his way from the lungs to the intestines before stumbling across something. “What is that?” He dug deeper.
No larger than a grape, Lawson unearthed a glowing white orb. He reached in again, and scooped out another.
“Beautiful, like pearls.” Laurent wiped his mouth.
“Witches’ seeds,” Lawson uttered.