Days of Atlantis: The Vampire Saga
by Julien Gregg

This is the story of Darias and Ren, two gods born of a human queen. They were born the princes of Atlantis and their lives were nearly destroyed by the Olympian God Zeus. After a lifetime of rape, torture and violence, Darias attacks Zeus and is cursed by Apollo. He can never see the sun again and must hunt humanity for their blood. The vampire is created. Learning of his brother's plight, Ren attacks Zeus, thinking that he is the God who cursed his brother. Ren will be cursed by Artemis. He will be ruled by the moon and be forced to change into a beast who hunts humanity for their flesh. The Forsaken is created. This is their story. Many of the Greek and Egyptian Gods will be featured in this story. I did research, but I felt it was necessary for this story to change certain things about the Gods. This is only a story so please don't try to correct me. This is the beginning of the Vampire Saga. This is how it all began. So just enjoy the ride. This story contains scenes depicting violence, death, murder, torture, rape, homosexuality, heterosexuality, homosexual sex, heterosexual sex and has a strong violent and sexual theme. If it is not legal in your place of residence for you to read this type of material, or if you are offended by this type of material please leave the site now. For all others the chapter links are below.

This story is a work of fiction its characters do not exist outside the story. Any resemblance to living people or places is strictly coincidence. This story is Copyright © 2015 Julien Gregg. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

Chapter 7

News of Andra's pregnancy spread throughout the palace the next morning. Word reached Ren as he left Darias's temple after his morning meal. He was told that Andra was pronounced barren by the palace physician a year ago, but now she was at least three months pregnant. Ren believed that like Elle, Andra would now have a child to raise with a blood drinker for a father and husband. He was saddened by that thought. He was relieved that at least he wouldn't be leaving behind a wife and child when he was cursed.

Elle would have her baby in just four months. It seemed that just six months later Andra would have a baby as well. If they stayed in Greece, which Pias was insisting on, then the children would grow up together. Darias told him later that he didn't know that Andra was pregnant before he had turned Duku. Ren was sure that if she was pregnant for three months then there was nothing to worry about. Andra was happy and so was Duku. It nearly turned Ren's stomach to look at Duku. He was more pale than Darias and his eyes had more of an unnerving glow about them than Darias's eyes.

There were many differences between Duku and Darias. For one though Duku could levitate off the ground he could not fly like Darias could. He couldn't set fires with his mind the way that Darias could, and though he could read anyone's mind he couldn't make them do anything that they didn't want to do. Darias could bend the mind of any living man or woman and make them do anything he wanted them to do. Ren was sure that this was because Darias was a god before he was cursed and remained a god after the curse while Duku was human before he was turned by Darias. Sure he had been Athena's chosen warrior and she'd used her god power to keep him young and alive, but he'd had no immortality or any other god powers.

Darias and Duku took off in the night to hunt the men and women of Greece. Apollo had not been seen nor heard from again. Ren tried everything he could to keep his mind off Zeus and the fact that he wanted him dead. He was still an Atlantian, Olympian and Egyptian God but he knew that if he went to Olympus the attack would take place and Artemis would curse him. He wasn't ready for that yet. Instead he spent time with Elle, talked to Ra and Poseidon and basically sat on his hands.

It was three days before anyone noticed that there were certain problems with Andra's pregnancy. Duku had kept her closely guarded. She'd been moved from their apartments in the palace to a place no one knew about. However on the third night since they'd found out that she was pregnant he'd brought her to the palace physicians in a panic. Andra looked nothing like the dark haired, blue eyed beautiful woman she'd been just three nights prior. Now she was pale and looked very ill. Her pregnant belly was swelled far more than it should have been for an expectant woman of three months. She had a fever and was rarely conscious unless Duku was with her.

Ren stood with Pias and his advisors to hear what Master Kiran had to say about Andra's condition after his examination was complete. What he had to say was both shocking and horrifying. Ren was upset when everyone looked at him after Kiran's report. He had no idea what he could do to help her.

"What you're saying is that she's a lot further along than you'd originally thought?" Ren asked, trying to make sure that he'd understood Kiran completely.

"No," Kiran said, bowing his head. He did that whenever he looked at Ren. "What I'm saying is that she was three months into her pregnancy when I examined her three days ago. Now she's closer to five months into the pregnancy. Her health is declining in such a way that would only be possible if she had suffered a prolonged illness. We all know that she didn't. She was completely healthy and vibrant just three days ago."

"I don't understand," said Pias. "How can she be further along in her pregnancy in just three days?"

"I do not know, Sire," said Kiran. "All I know is that she is. I think it may also be what's responsible for her condition as well."

"What are you saying?" Pias asked. Ren merely waited.

"I'm saying that the babe in her womb is thriving at her expense," said Kiran. "It's as if the babe is robbing her body of all of its nutrients. She's starving to death."

The horrible truth washed over Ren with those words. Duku and Andra hadn't conceived before Darias had turned Duku, it had been afterward. Andra was pregnant with the blood drinker Duku's child, not the human Duku. The ramifications of this were terrifying to Ren. He was a God but could he help? Should he interfere? They were all looking at him, but what could he do?

"You will have nothing to do with this," said Isis as she appeared before him in the hall in front of everyone. "Your brother is a God, Ren. He may be a Dark God, but he is still a God. What is happening with Andra is his purview. Gods do not interfere with another God's work, my son."

"But Andra will surely die," he replied, looking at her with such an earnest expression that she was nearly moved to allow him to interfere.

"Speak to Darias about this, Ren," she said. "Talk with your brother and make him understand what is happening to her."

"It will be as you say, Mother," he said, bowing his head before her. He turned to the King and his advisors. "I will speak to my brother about Andra's condition. Care for her until I have word."

Finding Darias wasn't so simple though. He no longer stayed in the chamber above his temple during the day. His daytime resting place was a mystery to Ren. He called out to him in the God way but Darias did not answer. He went to Elle and beseeched her to ask Darias to come to him. Then he waited in Darias's temple for the sun to set. He waited for two hours after the sun had left the sky and was about to leave the temple when the statue of Darias rippled and turned to flesh.

"You have searched high and low for me, Brother," Darias said as he stepped down from the pedestal. "Do you think I do not know about Andra?"

"Darias, she'll die," Ren said.

"She will not die," Darias replied. "Duku will work the dark magic on her before he lets her perish."

"So he will curse her to roam the night, living on the blood of humans?" Ren asked, horrified.

"Well I see you're bungling around, creating monsters everywhere," said the voice of Apollo as he appeared in the temple. "I suppose I should have expected no less from the likes of you, Darias."

"You dare to say my name," hissed Darias. "Tell us what you have been doing on these cursed nights, dark God of the Sun. Tell us how many monsters you have sired in your superior life."

"I've sired no monsters," Apollo said, picking imaginary things from his tunic. "I haven't even killed anyone. I've found a family to sustain me that I have allowed to live."

"How generous of you," Darias said sarcastically. "I suppose I should have expected no less from the likes of a coward such as you, Apollo."

"You forget your place, Blood God," snapped Apollo. "You were beneath me the day you were born. My curse has left you even lower than me even now."

"Care to put it to the test?" Darias asked, his voice dripping with God Power. "You know for a fact that my brother and I were far more powerful than Zeus before this curse. You know full well why he hated us. We're more powerful than even our mother, and she is a Goddess of Creation. So I ask again would you care to test me?"

"You have no power over me, Darias," Apollo said hatefully. "You're no better than I am now."

"You will walk this Earth for eternity, Apollo," Darias said in his God Voice. "You will never know love, for even those that you sire will hate you. I say this to you now and so it shall be."

"You dare to curse me?" Apollo spat, stepping toward Darias, but Ren stepped between them.

"Make no mistake, Dark God, I am not yet cursed," he said, glaring into Apollo's electric blue eyes. He held out his right hand, palm facing Apollo and a golden light shot from his hand.

Apollo fell backward, screaming in agony when the golden light touched him. Darias saw the burned flesh where the light had touched him, leaving a dark, smoking spot in the center of his chest. It was as if Ren had touched him with a beam of the sun! Darias stepped back from his brother.

"Do not fear me, Darias," Ren said, putting his hand down. "I would never use my power against you."

"You touched him with sunlight," Darias replied. "You know what the sun will do to both of us!"

"I did not know what I was doing, brother," Ren said. "I only wanted him to step back. You know our powers are still evolving. How was I to know that I could do this thing?"

Apollo flashed himself away like a God. Darias turned to stare at the spot where his rival had lain. He finally looked back at his brother and sighed. Ren was right about their powers. Even now that he was cursed, Darias was finding new powers that he had no way of knowing how to use properly. There were no cursed dark Gods to talk to about what was coming in his future, but Ren was not yet cursed. There were Gods that he could talk to.

"Talk to our father and mother about your powers," Darias said. "They will know more of what you can expect than any others. Count yourself lucky that they can advise you. There are no Gods like me in existence. I have no counsel."

He flashed himself away like a God, leaving Ren to stand there and stare at the spot where he'd stood only moments before. Ren sighed as he digested what Darias had said. There were no Gods like him. Apollo had seen to that. It all tied back to Zeus. This was yet another thing to be laid at that God's feet.

It occurred to Ren that he could flash himself to wherever Darias had gone. He closed his eyes and focused on his brother's face and then flashed himself to another place. Where he went was to an old, ramshackle house where he found his brother feasting on the blood of a putrid man. The scent of his filth mixed with his blood assaulted Ren's nose. Suddenly he was disgusted.

"Darias!" he cried. "Have you no reverence for human life?"

"Reverence for human life?" laughed Darias as he let the dead man fall from his arms. "I assure you, brother I revere human life as the blood gushes past my lips and into my gullet. I feel it dancing on my tongue, filling my dead heart with that tiny spark of life once more and animating my dead flesh. When I feed I truly know what it means to be human for a tiny moment, for I was never human. Then I attacked Zeus and became this thing. So don't talk to me about reverence for human life. You are not human either."

"But surely you don't have to act on this," Ren begged. "You're a God, Darias. Stop this feeding. You don't need it any more than we ever truly needed food."

"You don't understand, brother," Darias replied. "I can hear it from every living human, animal and rodent in the world. The blood sings to me. It calls out to me and the pain is only bearable for so long before I have to sink my new fang teeth into that vein and let it all run over my tongue. I crave it, Ren. I can't stand the craving. It is like a drug, the blood. I counter it by drinking the blood of the evil. I submit to you that every member of my line will only drink evil blood. That is all I can promise you. Am I not a God? Does what I say not become reality still even now that I am cursed? Surely there will be those who hunt the innocent. Those I will mark rogue in my eyes and they will be hunted down and slaughtered. Shall I pluck warriors from the humans to hunt them? What shall they be, Ren? Men fear us."

"Come away from here, Darias," Ren urged. "The place reeks of filth and death."

"Yes," Darias said, looking around the small room. "He was a thief who robbed women and killed most of the ones he robbed. He deserved his death, did he not?"

"Yes, Darias," Ren allowed. "He deserved his death, but must we stay here in the midst of his decay?"

Darias walked around the fallen man and took Ren's hand. They walked out of the shack and stopped. Darias looked back at it and suddenly it was in flames. He turned to his brother and nodded before flashing them back to the palace. There they found turmoil. Servants were running to and fro. King Pias was wringing his hands, pacing back and forth in front of the doors to Andra's rooms. Then they heard her howling in agony.

"What is happening, Pias?" Ren asked as they stepped up to him.

"The child," he breathed. "It is tearing its way out of her. You are Gods. Can you not stop this? Can you not save Andra's life?"

Darias burst through the door to see what he could do, but as he stood there he heard her bones snapping as the child fought its way out of her womb. Duku stood to the side, staring at his dying wife with bloody tears running down his face. He looked at Darias with such a beseeching look that it pained him.

"She's dying," he said. "I did this to her, Darias."

"No," said Darias. "Zeus did this to her."

"Then I hate Zeus," Duku said before he began to wail.

Andra sat straight up in the bed. She cursed the Gods of Olympus with her dying breath. Blood saturated her dressing gown and the sheets beneath her. The child crawled out of her ruined body and began to cry. As Darias and Duku watched it gnawed on the umbilical cord until it was free. Darias lifted the child from the bloody ruin that was his mother and held him out so that he could look at him.

The child looked so much different from babies he'd seen born before. This child looked older than those infants. He had a full mouth of teeth and hair was growing on his head as Darias watched. He felt the child's skin, slick with mucus and blood from his mother and found it thicker than human skin, it was tighter and more dense. He handed the child to the physician who he hadn't even noticed was in the room and then looked at Duku.

"Come away from here, Duku," he said. "This is no place for either of us."

The smell of the blood, human blood was overpowering. Andra was an innocent and to drink that blood was against all that he stood for not to mention that it was dead blood. He had no idea what effect that would have on him or his fledgling. He held out his hand to Duku and gripped the other man's hand once he took it. They left the room together, stopping so that Darias could tell Pias that servants would need to see to the body and clean up the room.

"And the child?" Pias asked, looking from Duku to Darias and back.

"He is healthy, Majesty," Darias replied. "Your physician has him in hand."

He took Duku to the private room that he used in the palace and let the man collapse onto the bed. He cried silent tears of blood for his lost love while Darias lit the candles in the room and took his seat at the small writing table with a sigh. He couldn't believe the sight he'd seen in that room. The child had actually ripped her apart and crawled out of the ruin that had been his mother, his host.

He couldn't believe it had happened. Why had it happened? That Zeus was behind it was assured. Darias wanted the God dead, but he could not go to Olympus. To go there now meant death for him and any like him. He knew that as sure as he knew that Andra's death was Zeus's doing. Now there was only Ren. Ren could go after Zeus, but Darias knew that once he did that Artemis would curse his brother. No, he could not urge his brother toward that course. He supposed he'd have to find another way. His thoughts were interrupted when Ren flashed into the room.

"They're taking her body to be burned," Ren informed them. Duku gasped at the news. "They fear an infection."

"There is no infection," Darias replied. "There was only the infant."

"He's not such an infant anymore," said Ren. "He's growing at an alarming rate."

"He was born only a half hour ago, Ren," Darias said, looking up at his brother.

"Yes, and now he is at the toddle stage," Ren replied. "I swear it, brother. That child will have grown more by the time you go see him."

"I will stay with Duku," Darias said. "Can you not see he is grieving?"

"I know not what to say to him," Ren sighed. "What of the child's name?"

"Name?" Darias asked. "He's in no frame of mind to name the child, Ren."

"Never," Duku said as he sat up. They looked at him and saw the cold look in his preternatural eyes. "His name is Never because he should have never been born."

"Surely you don't mean that," Ren said in shock.

"Ren, leave us," Darias interrupted. "The child's name will be Never because his father has named him. Now go and tell them that I am caring for Duku. Tell them to tend the child and keep me informed about his growth."

"How will I find you?" Ren asked. "Will you be here?"

"No, but we will not be far," replied Darias. "I need answers, Ren. I have only one place to get them."

"You're taking him to The Fates," Ren sighed. "Darias, you know they never talk plain. They'll give you riddles when you need words in answer."

"I'll make them talk," Darias vowed. He extended his hand to Duku. "Come with me."

As soon as the man stood and took his hand Darias flashed them to the mouth of the cave of The Fates. The waves crashed against the shore at their arrival and all of the birds and sounds of life ceased. Darias paid it no mind. He led Duku into the cave toward the light of their chamber.

"They come as we have seen," said one of the triplet daughters of Aphrodite. "I feel the darkness on their souls."

"You'll feel the heat of my anger if you do not answer me now," Darias said as they reached the chamber. The three of them were seated, as usual around the basin of silver liquid. One stirred it with a bony finger.

"We know why you have come, Darias of Atlantis," said another of the sisters. "You know the answer you seek already. Must we speak it to you?"

"So Zeus is behind the death of Andra?" he demanded. "Say it clear, woman or I'll have your tongue."

"The curse is behind the death of Andra," said the third sister. "The curse had simple words. Did you not hear them all?"

"Say them to us now," he yelled. "Do not toy with me, demigoddess. I am at the end of my patience already."

"The curse said that you would hunt the world of humanity for their blood, taking along with you countless numbers that would all be male. For what you are cannot mate with a woman and any mating would produce a child that could not be killed but would kill its mother."

"So this will happen every time we try to mate with women?" he demanded.

"So the curse states," she said. "You and your brethren will walk the world without the love of a woman to warm your dead hearts."

"And what of my wife?" he demanded. "I've made promises to my wife that I cannot unmake."

"If you try to make her like your brother in blood she will die," said the first sister. "For your blood will kill any woman who ingests it."

"And what of our needs?" he screamed so loud it shook the cave.

"You can satisfy each other's needs," laughed the third sister. "Know the flesh of men the way you would know the flesh of females. Go from here, Dark God of Blood and take your brother in blood with you. Your presence upsets us."

"I do not care how upset my presence makes any of you," he spat. "You are telling me that to have sexual relations with a woman will result in another child such as the child sired by Duku?"

"That is what the curse plainly said," said the second sister. "It also says that you will make no woman like you are. You, Darias, and all like you will walk the world with men for companions. So it was said, so shall it be!"

"I am a God," he spat. "If I say something it will be."

"Not this," said the first sister. "The curse was laid upon you by a God. It was woven by a God with clear intent. Nothing you say or do will change the outcome of the curse."

"Take heart that the child your wife carries was sired before the curse," said the third sister. "A demigod he will be, but through him another God could be born. The future is not set on this matter. Go from here, child of darkness. We have said all we will say on this matter."

He flashed them away from the sisters and back to the palace. He was annoyed to find Duku laughing. He searched the man's mind to see if the experience had addled him he had to know. He found him perfectly sane however. The laughter continued.

"What are you laughing about, man?" he demanded.

"When I was a boy there was a man who liked to bugger other men," he laughed. "They threw stones at him until he was dead. I remember thinking that what he had done wasn't so awful that it required his death by such a manner. Now I'm to be just like him because of a God. It seems I've been pushed and pulled one way or another all my life because of one God or another. First it was Aphrodite who wanted daughters when I was just fifteen Sundays from my birth. Those three we saw were the result. Then Athena wanted a warrior and did her magic upon me so that I would live and fight for her name. Then you came along with your blood and now I am once again put into a position that I never wanted by a God."

"You think I did this to you because I wanted to?" demanded Darias.

"No," he said, looking at him as his laughter died. "You didn't do this, Darias. Apollo did this. You were only the vessel. So I suppose it began with Zeus. For this and all that has come before this I hate the Gods. You are my God now, Darias. You are the God I will serve until the day my life ends."

"Duku, I swear this to you," Darias said, placing his hand on his shoulder. "I will be the God you seek to love. I will do that which you want. If we are to be with men as we were with women then I say do it if that is what your heart seeks now that your beloved wife is gone. If it were in my power to return her to you I would do so, but alas it is out of my purview. That power is reserved for an Olympian God who will have nothing to do with our kind. I am touched that you see me in such a light, Duku. I charge you to multiply in the only way we can. Bring about the creation of my children."

"And you, My Lord," he said. "Will you be bringing about the creation of more children like me?"

"I hear the cries of one such child now," he said, touching his temple with the fingers of his right hand. "He cries out to me in a temple built for me in Rome. I suppose I should visit my temple in Egypt to tend to my followers there."

"And I will visit one who I have had my eye upon," said Duku. "Tonight I will visit the house of Kull."

"You find him worthy?' Darias asked.

"Oh yes, My Lord," said Duku with a smile. "He is pure of heart and everything that a child of yours should be."

"Master Kull has seven sons, Duku," Darias said. He knew that one of them would one day soon die once he'd drained the blood from his veins, for he'd killed his own wife not five nights ago. "Of which son are we speaking?"

"The second youngest," Duku replied. "Alexander."

Darias had only once seen the young Alexander Kull. Duku was right to choose him. The blond haired boy, who looked so like an Atlantian was still young enough that he'd not had a chance to leave behind a human child. Yes, he decided, it was a good choice. He would welcome this young Alexander to the night with open arms.

"Then be about your charge, Duku," he said with a smile. "For the night isn't young."

He flashed himself to the temple in Rome where he found a sight that angered him. There was blood on the walls of his temple. A man lay dying on the floor, the apparent victim of an assassination attempt. This was the man who had been crying out to him. It hadn't been in worship only. No, this man, this child had been crying out for intervention. Darias read it from his weak mind. His father was the priest of this temple and had made enemies in his call for worshipers. They had come for him and found his son instead.

Darias knelt next to the broken boy and bit his own wrist to give him blood that would save his life. He wasn't turning him now, but he knew that if he was to survive the turning he would need strength he didn't have. The blood would give it to him. He gave him only a mouthful, but it was enough to knit bone and close most of the wounds on his body. The boy's eyes flew open as his body healed. He looked into Darias's eyes and wept.

"My God," he whispered before Darias opened the vein in his neck and began to pull blood from him. "Oh, my God!" he cried out as he wrapped his arms around Darias. Darias didn't have long to wait. The boy's heart was already slowing. He pulled back and bit his own wrist again. He placed it over the boy's mouth.

"Drink, child," he said. "Giovanni, you must drink to live. Join me in my everlasting night. Come with me on a journey through eternity."

He drank until his heart began to beat again and then he slept. It was so different from Duku's turning. That had been violent and bloody. This was just as bloody, more bloody actually but it was not violent. Giovanni fell into the sleep peacefully with Darias's blood on his lips.

Darias flashed them up to the chamber at the top of his temple and laid him on the stone table. The sun was beginning to rise and Darias was growing weaker with each moment. He slumped against the wall and let the sleep claim him. He fell asleep with the knowledge that two would wake from their own slumber in seven or eight nights to walk along the path of the night with him and Duku.

* * *

Ren paced in Elle's living room while she sewed one of Darias's shirts. She had a pile on the bench beside her. Now and then she glanced up at him with concerned eyes, but she stayed quiet and let him pace. She also checked on the sleeping child on the floor in front of her. He'd nearly gone into a rage when he found Never on the floor of her living room. He had gone into a silent rage when she informed him that she was caring for the boy now that his mother was dad and his father was off with her husband.

The boy had grown so much over night. He was now the size of a large three year old and really wasn't quite a day old. For the moment his growing seemed to have stopped. She hadn't found cause to change his clothing due to his size all morning. That wasn't what worried Ren, though. He'd said the same things that Pias and all of the physicians had said. She didn't know what he was. Well they didn't know what he was either. What he would become was uncertain but what he was currently was another matter entirely. He was a small boy without a mother and father who badly needed human contact. She would give him that, and when her own child was born she would raise them together. Of course his growth rate bothered her. If he grew to be an old man by the time her child was born then she would mourn his short life. Something made her believe that he would stop growing once he reached adulthood. She didn't know what it was, but there was something in her mind.

And what kind of name was Never? She understood Duku's decision to call him that, but it wasn't a name. It was a curse hurled at the child by his grieving father. She couldn't change the child's name. The physician had recorded it. King Pias had written it in the rolls. There was no going back now.

"Will you see reason?" Ren gasped again for the third time.

"He is a boy, Ren," she said. "He has no one. Why, not even the orphanage would take him. Can you believe it? Well I wasn't about to let the boy be cast aside. He's stopped growing for now. Calm down. Everything will be fine."

"But we don't know what he will become," he urged her once again.

"Yes," she said. "His future is unknown, but so is our own. I may know what's coming after I give birth, but that doesn't change the fact that the future of any man or woman is unknown."

"But, Elle, this child will not be an ordinary man," he said.

"Nor will the child in my womb be an ordinary man, Ren," she said heatedly, putting her sewing aside to glare at him. "If I can be mother to a demigod then I can play mother to a halfling."

"A halfling?" he asked, stopping short.

"Yes, a halfling," she repeated. "He is half human and half whatever Duku became when Darias changed him. He's not a God, but he's not a human anymore either."

"He's an undead thing," Ren replied. "I don't know what to call him. Darias is a God still, but Duku is another matter entirely."

"Darias says Duku is immortal," she said. "So now you say he is undead. What does this mean, anyway?"

"Duku slept the sleep of death for many nights while everything human was expelled from his body," he said. "Then he came back to a half-life and every night thereafter he has drunk the blood of humans. I call this 'undead', for surely nothing living would drink live blood."

"Such talk," she breathed, putting a hand to her chest. "The things you speak of."

"The very thing that you would like to become," he pointed out.

"I want a life with my husband," she said. "I am his Queen, Ren."

"You and he are King and Queen of nothing," he spat. "A handful of Atlantians live to this day. All the others are either dead or Sea People. Tell me, are you their Queen?"

"You use such words with me?" she gasped. "What I am is your brother's wife! You will show me the respect that title affords me, Prince Ren."

He said nothing more. He simply left her apartments, slamming the door behind him. He was hurt by her words, but he was also angry with himself for starting the whole thing. He really wasn't all that worried about Never. Darias and Duku would have that well in hand. No, he was just upset over Andra's death and the fact that he seemed to be the only one who was.

"Ren," said Phalon said when he opened the door to his apartments. "Why come in, man."

"Phalon," he said as he stepped inside the small living room. "How is Rafael?"

"Not well, my son," said Phalon. He put his hand on Ren's shoulder. "Come. He'll be overjoyed to see you."

Ren was not prepared for what he saw when they entered Rafael's bedroom. The young man was emaciated, near to the point of death. His skin was pale and wet with sweat. His eyes had very dark rings under them and his face looked sunken and drawn. Ren hated himself for the fact that he'd not been to see Phalon or Rafael in weeks. While he'd been busy with other things, the man he thought of as a brother lay dying not six rooms from where Ren laid his head each night. He felt tears on his cheeks and thanked the stars that Rafael wasn't awake to see his tears.

"I can see it in the set of your shoulders, Lad," said Phalon. "Stop blaming yourself. He's been sick for most of his life. We both knew that the illness would take him one day."

"That day can't come soon, Phalon," Ren said as he wept for his friend.

"We all die, Lad," Phalon said, but Ren could hear the despair in his old teacher's voice.

They went into the living room and Phalon insisted on getting them tea. They talked about how the illness had progressed. They talked of visits from the physicians and even from the King himself. Phalon left unsaid that Ren and Darias had neglected his son. Ren felt the unspoken words even though he searched Phalon's mind and didn't find them. What he found made him feel worse. He found that Phalon was proud of him and saddened by Darias's curse. He thought he understood why Darias had changed Duku but was sad about Andra's passing.

They talked of idle things while Ren felt more guilt for having invaded Phalon's mind. He and his brother had always tried so hard to stay out of his head. Sometimes staying out was difficult. It was difficult with many of those who were close to them, but they'd always felt that it was most shameful to invade the mind of one they loved so much. Today he'd done it on purpose and he felt wretched.

The servants brought them food at the appropriate hour. They ate while they talked, but Ren was watching the sun go down. He knew that Darias would come to him when it did. He didn't know why he knew it, but he knew it as he knew his own heart. Darias would come, and Ren hated himself for what it was that he wanted Darias to do. He consoled himself with the knowledge that Rafael would die otherwise and to have him dead was not something he could live with. Having him be one of Darias's undead was better than really dead.

"Phalon, you know what Darias has become," he said when the dishes were taken away.

"I've not seen Darias since the curse was visited upon him, Lad," Phalon replied. "I have heard many tales about what he's become, yes."

"He can save Rafael, Phalon," he said, looking at his hands on the table. He felt such shame for what he was trying to do.

"How can he save him?" Phalon asked. "Rafael is dying, Lad. You and your brother may be Gods, but can you save the living from death?"

"Darias can give him another life," Ren said softly. "A life much changed from the one he's lived all these years, but it is a life, Phalon."

"Tell me what it is that your brother has become, Lad," Phalon replied. "Tell me the truth. I've heard the rumors. Now I want the truth of it."

Ren looked at his hands and tried to frame his words. How could he tell Phalon what Darias really was and get the man to consent to having his son changed by Darias? It didn't seem that things would go the way he wanted if he told Phalon the truth of what Darias had become on what seemed such a long ago night that Apollo cursed him. Yet he had to answer. That was the crux of it all.

"Have you heard the words of the curse?" he asked. "The plain words?"

"I've heard versions of the words of the curse," Phalon said. "Each one worse than the last I heard."

"Well the curse said that he would be shunned by the sun and forced to roam an endless night to feed on the living for their blood," Ren said. He'd changed it slightly, but it all meant the same thing. The actual words he'd heard from The Fates' own mouths would surely have sent Phalon to his chamber pot to heave up his meal.

"And what of those who join him?" Phalon asked. "I've seen Duku since Darias changed him. He looks only slightly different than before. He's pale skinned now, more sturdy than before with eyes that seem to bring in all the light and reflect it back."

"Those who join him will be just like Darias," Ren said. "They won't become Gods, but they will be like the Dark God who changes them."

He was sure that Phalon would reject this idea out right after all of that. How could he have thought that the man would go for this? He wouldn't have gone for this himself, and Darias was his brother. He was asking Phalon to commit his only son to a life of blood and darkness at Darias's side. He nearly shivered just thinking about it.

"But he lives, Lad," Phalon said, shocking him. "He lives. I know that Athena took him from another land when he was a boy to make him her warrior and that was many lifetimes ago. What Darias has done is make him truly immortal from what I've been told. Is that the truth?"

"After a fashion," Ren allowed. "The sun will kill Duku. It will kill Darias, or so he believes. Yet short of taking the head from his shoulders, Duku will live eternally, yes."

"Then Darias must help my Rafael," Phalon replied.

"Are you sure?" Ren asked. "Really sure? Phalon, I've told you what Duku is now that Darias has changed him. Are you sure this is the life you want for Rafael?"

"You said it yourself, Lad," Phalon said, smiling. "It's a life. My son won't have a life in a matter of days. The physicians all say the same thing. Rafael will die in a matter of days. Darias can give him life eternal, and I'll never lose my son."

Ren sat back in his chair with a sigh. He'd gotten what he wanted, but why did it make him feel as if he'd just consigned his friend to Hades? It was a life more or less, but it was a horrible life as far as Ren was concerned. Yet his brother lived. Duku lived, and Rafael would live if Darias did what he wanted him to do. He supposed he should just get on with it. The sun was beginning to set. Darias would be there soon.

Darias appeared in the room in a flash of God Light, startling Phalon but Ren had been waiting for him. He looked at his brother and knew that Darias knew exactly why Ren had been waiting for him. He saw his brother sniff the air and then put his head down. He looked sad.

"Phalon, I am sorry that I have not come before," he said softly. "How is Rafael?"

"He is dying, Lad," Phalon said, his composure finally slipping. "My son is dying."

"Will you ask that I save your son, Phalon?" Darias asked, looking into Phalon's eyes. "Would you ask that I make him my own so that he walks the endless night with me, searching for evil men and women to drain their blood so that he could live?"

"Yes, I ask that you save him, Darias," he said, rising from his chair only to kneel before Darias. "I ask as a loyal subject of the King of Atlantis. I ask as a lowly human servant of my Dark God of Atlantis. I ask as a man who loves his son and cannot fathom a life without him living. I ask as a man who loves both you and your brother as sons, Darias. I ask that you save my son from death."

"Then let us go to him, Phalon," Darias said, taking Phalon's hand to pull him to his feet.

"Darias," Ren interrupted. "Do you think it wise for him to watch?"

"Stay out of this, Brother," Darias said without looking away from Phalon. "This man has come to me as a man to a God. You are a God, Brother, but Gods do not interfere with other Gods. Did we not say this was how it would be for the Gods of Atlantis?"

"Forgive me," Ren said, sitting back down. Darias had the right of it. They had agreed to never interfere with each other. No matter what he believed or what he wanted, Phalon had made a request of a God and that God had decided to grant that request. Ren had no right to interfere in the matter.

"Then come, Phalon," Darias said. "Let us see to Rafael, for I must pay my respects as his brother first. Then we will set about saving him from death."

"Thank you, Darias," Phalon said as his tears fell. "Thank you so much."

Ren didn't follow them into Rafael's room. He sat at the table and tried to think of anything other than what Darias was about to do. This is what he'd wanted after all. He didn't understand why he was so disgusted by it when it was what he wanted. Rafael would live, he would thrive and Darias would be the reason for it all. Yet it was the way that Rafael would live and thrive that turned Ren's stomach.

He left them to their task. He wandered the palace in search of something to take his mind off what was about to happen. He found the Lady Agarista with her attendants. The Lady was beautiful and had caught his eye on many occasions. She was unmarried and quite sweet of temper. He smiled at her. Yes, he thought. The Lady Agarista would make a fine distraction.

* * *

Darias took in the sight of his adopted brother and his heart broke for him. He took Rafael's hand in his own and felt the frailty of the bones and skin. He looked at Phalon's tear stained face and sighed. He couldn't let Rafael die for many reasons. The first of those reasons was his own guilt for neglecting him. That Phalon had made the request was shocking enough. That Ren had put the idea in Phalon's head was astounding. Darias knew exactly what Ren thought about what he was and what changing a human man would make him. He knew that Ren loved Rafael just as much as Darias loved him, but did he love him so much that he would change his mind about all of it?

"Phalon, I want you to understand what I am about to do," Darias said finally.

"You're going to save him," Phalon replied with a steady tone of belief.

"Yes, but you must understand what happens when the change is taking place," Darias cautioned. "The body has to die for the change to take place, Phalon. For as long as ten nights you will see his body dying. It may happen sooner with Rafael because of his condition, but please do not believe for one moment that your son is truly dead. He will only appear dead as all that is human in his body evacuates. There will be a great mess. I will send men to tend him if you wish, but I want you to understand that when he wakes only the sun, fire and removing his head will actually kill him. He will live forever after that first time he opens his eyes."

"I will tend my son, Lad," he said. "There is no need to send men to tend him. I am his father. You are his God. Save him, Darias. I will believe you. I will not mourn his sleep. I will look forward to the night he opens his eyes."

"You cannot be in the room with him when that happens," Darias said. "It is for this reason that I will send men to tend him, Phalon. If you are in the room with him when he opens his eyes, you will surely die. Please heed me on this. Stay away from these chambers while the change is taking place. After he wakes and has fed it will be safe to return. Do not come back until I tell you to come back to your son."

"It will be as you say, Darias," Phalon said softly. "I swear it to a God."

"You may not want to watch what I'm about to do," Darias said. "It will seem barbaric."

"Then I will go into the living room," he said and got up to walk away. He stopped at the door. "Thank you, Darias. Thank you for what you are about to do. I love you so much, Lad. I love the boy that you were, the man that you became and the God that you are now."

"As I love you, Phalon," Darias said, softening his expression as he looked into the eyes of the man he'd wished was his father on several occasions. "Now go so I can be about my task."

When Phalon was safely out of the room, Darias woke Rafael. The confusion in his blue eyes was expected. It warmed Darias's heart when he smiled at recognizing him. His feeble grip on Darias's hand tightened, and he tried to sit up. Darias put a hand lightly on his chest to stop him.

"Darias," he whispered in a timid voice.

"Rafael, I have come to save your life," he said. Tears fell from his eyes, and he was afraid that Rafael would be frightened by the blood in them.

"Save my life?" he asked, ignoring the bloody tears.

"You will never see the sun again, Raphael," he said. "But you will live forever from this night. Only a few nights of sleep will be required after I change you. Then you will walk the endless night beside me forever."

"With you?" he asked.

"With me," Darias replied. "Will you come?"

"Yes," Rafael replied with a smile. "I will come with you forever."

Darias leaned into him and used his God power to make him feel euphoria as he bit him. The blood that passed over his lips tasted like fire. He drained him slowly, fearing that to pull the blood too quickly would kill his friend and brother. When he had him teetering on the brink of death he stopped. Then he bit his wrist and put it to Rafael's mouth, willing him to drink. Rafael latched on and pulled the blood from Darias's wrist. He allowed him to take more than usual because he'd been so frail. When he let go, Darias watched as the sleep took him.

"Sleep, my brother," he said as he stroked his hair. "When you wake you will be one with a God."

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