by Julien regg
We split up and went in search of the assassins. I went straight upstairs, because I was sure that was where the vampires would think I was. I wasn't disappointed, either. I could hear Jessup cursing down the hall. He came out of his room and I was shocked to see the visible effect of his fire gift. I knew that I must look just like he did, for I had embraced my own as soon as I'd laid eyes on Sedrick's headless corpse. He seemed to be surrounded by a faint orange aura, and I could see the fire burning in his eyes.
"What is going on?" I demanded when he finally focused on me.
"Rogues," he said. "They're everywhere. Tallan, Doran and Matthias are both dead. Eric, I don't know about Franklin and Daren. They've killed Sedrick and Jase, and they came for me. I've burned four so far."
His words slammed into me like a truck, and I spun around to head back down the hall to my brother's room. Just as I was about to walk through his door, it opened, and a vampire with dark glasses and a crossbow came out of the room. He smiled at me, showing me his fangs, and he fired the crossbow.
I waved my hand in front of him and marveled as the arrow diverted in the direction that I'd waved. Another gift had manifested. I'd felt my mind move that arrow. The rogue thought that this was his chance. He hissed as he opened his mouth wider and came at me again. I heard his hiss turn into a scream as I shot my mind forward and he was engulfed in flames.
As his ashes blew past me, I bolted into my brother's room and let a sigh of relief to find him sleeping soundly on his bed. Apparently, the rogue had heard me and Jessup and come to kill us. In the back of my mind, I was screaming about the death of my sire, but there were more of them in the house. I was worried about my family in the little house on the other side of the estate, but there was no time to go and check on them.
I started to hear shrieks and then everything started to happen very fast. I looked over the rail and saw Derrick and a rogue on the ground floor. Andelynne was fighting with another rogue just three feet from where Derrick and the other were fighting. It was the vampire that was shrieking. Before I knew what was happening, I was on the ground floor standing beside my drone, and the rogue was nothing but ashes.
I spun around and shot my mind out toward the other rogue fighting with Andelynne, and she jumped back as he burst into flames. I could still sense Brock, so I wasn't worried about him or Bashire. Jessup came to stand beside me just as three more rogues came out of the dining room. They were ashes before anyone could even move. I wasn't sure if I had burned all three or if Jessup had helped.
"There are at least six more upstairs," said Andelynne. "I don't know how many more are actually on the estate."
"The six upstairs are ashes," replied Jessup.
"I don't sense Sloan," I said as I scanned the minds of every living being on the estate. "He's not here."
"But he's coming," said Jessup. "He's just waiting for most of the vampires to be dead."
"Eric!" cried the voice of my younger brother as he ran toward me from the front of the house. He looked like he was hysterical, and I knew from reading his mind that my parents were dead.
"Daniel, you have to hide," I said quickly, and another vampire came into the hall behind my brother. He was ashes before he could reach Daniel.
"What is going on?" demanded my little brother. "Where is Franklin?"
"He's sleeping," I said. "You need to find a place to hide."
"They're everywhere, Eric," he said, and I knew from his mind that most of the humans on the estate were dead. He was trying very hard to keep himself from falling apart over Mom and Dad. "I want to stay with you."
"He's safer with us, Eric," said Andelynne. "Tashi and Piper are out there somewhere, but I don't know where. They'll find him if he hides. He should stay with us."
"What if I can't protect him?" I demanded, spinning to face her.
"You aren't the only one standing here," she said.
"How many of them are there?" I demanded.
"I'm not sure exactly how many of them are here, but they are dying," she said.
"Tallan and Doran are dead," I told her. "You saw Sedrick. They aren't dying fast enough."
Brock and Bashire came back then, and Derrick was with them. There was blood on his hands, so I knew that he'd killed one of them. He was looking around him at every possible entry point to the hall. We were facing the front door, so nothing would get past us that way. I couldn't believe this was happening.
"No more on the grounds," said Tashi as she and Piper came through the front door. I nearly burned them both.
"There aren't any in the house, either," I said after scanning for them with my mind. The rogues were all dead. "This isn't over, though. My vision hasn't happened. This is far from over."
We all went into the great room as Roland and Dansick stood guard outside the door. Daniel was an emotional wreck. His thoughts were erratic and heartbreaking to read. It was four-thirty just an hour and half until sundown. I wished that the others could wake up now. I needed everyone to be awake and alert. I had no idea when the second round of attacks would take place.
Brock had put in a call to the Forsaken, and they all showed up shortly before the sun went down. In a matter of minutes, the rest of the vampires would be awake, and darkness would allow all of the rogues to attack House Doran. I had no idea how to stop them all. There was no way that I could stop my vision from becoming a reality.
"I want Rafael to take Daniel back to the hotel and I don't want him anywhere near House Doran until this is over."
"I want to stay with you," said Daniel. "Where's Franklin?"
"He's still sleeping," I sighed. "He'll be awake in a little while, but he'd agree with me. Go with Rafael."
I hated to do it, but I used my mind control gift to make him do as I asked. He wasn't happy about it, and I think he knew that something strange had happened to him, but he went with Rafael. I breathed a sigh of relief when I couldn't sense him on the estate anymore. Bashire gripped my hand, and I didn't notice that it was shaking until then. It was then that I realized that I hadn't let go of the power within me.
All of the drones were sitting in the great room with us, and I hated knowing that some of them wouldn't live to see the sun rise again. This was outrageous. I wanted to go and find Sloan and end this right then and there, but I knew that it wouldn't stop with Sloan dead. The rogues knew about me now. There was no stopping it now.
I noticed that Brock and Derrick were both looking very worn, and I searched their minds for the cause. The fight hadn't lasted that long, so it couldn't have been that. I was shocked to find out that I was the cause for their plight. The fact that I was still embracing the fire was affecting them through the bond they shared with me. It was then that I released my hold on the fire.
It seemed like only moments after Rafael and Daniel had left the estate that the other vampires came downstairs. Franklin and Daren were both oblivious to what had happened, but Raffiki and Darian knew full well what had happened. It was their custom to check in with Tallan before coming down to join the rest of us.
"When did it happen?" asked Raffiki when he and Darian came into the great room a few minutes after Franklin and Daren.
"When did what happen?" asked Daren as he sat beside Franklin.
"Tallan and Doran are both dead," said Darian, and my older brother's mind began to quake with fear filled thoughts.
"When did it happen?"
"It happened in daylight," said Bashire. "A bunch of rogue vampires came onto the estate and killed Sedrick, Tallan and Doran."
"Many of the humans on the estate are gone, too," I quickly added.
"Sloan is behind this," said Andelynne.
"It isn't over," I said as I heard the doorbell.
"Oh God," moaned Franklin.
"Calm down, they wouldn't ring the doorbell," I said. I heard the watchers talking to someone, but I didn't sense any malice, so I didn't think much of it. Then I sensed who had come, and my heart actually sunk. Waylon was in the house. My vision was about to be fulfilled. With him came the rest of the vampire council members. I hadn't seen any of them in my vision, so I was hoping that maybe they'd hold off on their second attack until the following night.
The vampires filed into the great room reverently. Each of them looked at me with pitiful eyes. They were afraid, and it was right that they should be. This was going to be very bad, and there was nothing that I could do to stop what was coming. Stephan wanted to say something. I could see it in his eyes, and I could hear the clipped off thoughts in his mind.
He kept his mouth closed, though. Kennedy just stared at me in awe. His thoughts were much easier to read. He expected me to save them all. It was ridiculous. He believed in me so much that he thought I was all powerful. I didn't even know how to make him understand that even I couldn't move mountains. I wasn't a god.
"Two council members are dead, and one is missing," said Stephan finally. "We must fill those positions quickly. The council cannot function when it is not whole."
"Now is not the time to worry about filling seats on the council," I said. "This isn't over, Stephan. Sloan is behind this, and the rogues will come back. Picking new council members now is a bad idea."
"So we wait here to be slaughtered?" asked Kennedy. "What do you plan to do about this?"
"What do you expect me to do, Kennedy?" I demanded. "What exactly do you think I am?"
"You're The One," he spat. "You're supposed to protect all of us. I've read the prophecies of Tyron Par. Why do you fight your destiny?"
"Those damned prophecies again," I sighed.
"Stephan, Tyron was insane long before he started to write in that damned book," said Jessup. "Most of what he wrote is meaningless scribble. Eric is 'The One', but that doesn't make him all powerful. He can't save everyone. If he could, he wouldn't have let his own parents die today."
"Mom and Dad are dead?" demanded Franklin.
"Look," I sighed. "This is going to get us nowhere. Sloan and his rogues are going to come back tonight. I've seen it. I know what the end of this night is going to be like. It isn't pretty. More are going to die, and there isn't anything I can do to stop it. If we all watch each other very carefully, maybe we can do something about it. If we sit around worrying about prophecies, councils and our parents, we're all likely to die tonight. Now I need you all to be focused."
"What do you suggest we do?" asked Brock.
I noticed that I now had everyone's attention. Even Waylon was looking at me intently, and I hadn't even noticed that he'd come into the room.
"Well, for one thing, two watchers at the door to this room aren't enough," I said. "We need more men watching this place. We can't guard every entrance to the estate. That's impossible. They will get in, and this is going to end in bloodshed. There isn't anything I can do to stop that."
"Eric, you and Jessup are the strongest of the vampires in this room," said Derrick. "You are the two that will do the most damage to their ranks. Forsaken can do so much, but Sloan is immune to our saliva, and if any of the rogues that come with him have drank from Ari, they will be, too."
"We can morph now that the sun is down," said Damon. "Sloan won't be expecting that. He hasn't fought a morphed Forsaken in nearly a century."
"You are talking madness," cried Loran, getting to his feet. "What you are suggesting will reignite the vampire/Forsaken war!"
"No, it won't," said Brock. "It isn't a law that we can't morph, Loran. Morphing may be the only thing that saves us tonight. It may be the only thing that saves the vampires in this room. Eric and Jessup can burn their targets, but they can't burn them all. The rogues that were here today were armed with rose pollen. That's a clear violation of the council law. If anyone has ignited a war, it was them."
"No one is going to reignite any war," I said. "The council laws have already been broken. This whole day is a violation of council law. There are two dead council members upstairs, and another is missing. Morphing surely isn't going to start another war. What we're going to do is fight with everything we have. Right now, we have to assume that not all of the rogues have drank from Ari. Ari couldn't have enough blood for every rogue in this city.
"Only ten rogues attacked this estate today, so that would be about right. I believe that Ari is dead. Now we just have to deal with regular rogues who will be coming here to drink from me. There's a stupid prophecy that tells them that my blood will bring them into the light, so that's got to be what this is mostly about. I know that Sloan's part in this is strictly revenge."
"Do you smell that?" asked Loran as he turned slowly in a circle, looking up at the ceiling.
In all of the talk, my senses had been focused on the vampires in front of me. I hadn't been paying any attention to anything else around me. Now I could smell smoke. I could smell burned flesh, and I could hear the screams of dying men and women. The house was on fire. The rogues were back already. What I didn't understand was how they'd come into the house without alerting any of us.
Then I beheld an awesome sight. My drone, Brock, changed before my eyes. It started in his beautiful black rimmed blue eyes. They brightened and blinked at the same time. Then his entire face began to change. His nose began to slide down the length of his face, and I could hear bone and cartilage snapping and reshaping. It was a sickening sound at first, and the smell was not completely unlike the burning flesh from the third floor.
He fell to the floor as he ripped his shirt off of his torso, and then I saw the bones of his spine changing their shape as well. Hair was growing on his back, and his entire skeleton was reshaping itself. His skin rippled as I watched, and then my attention was diverted as the same spectacle was overtaking Loran and Damon as well. Three Forsaken were morphing in the great room of House Doran as it burned from the third floor.
The slayers, including Andelynne, had armed themselves in the time that I'd been witnessing the change in the Forsaken. They stood near the door of the room with crossbows and blades at the ready. Derrick was armed as well, and Waylon stood among them. The vampires stood around the gathered slayers and watchers beholding the sight unseen to the world in nearly a century. Among them all a mixture of fear and wonder were the predominant emotions.
The roars of the Forsaken all but drowned out the crackling of the flames as they consumed House Doran. The vampires and what was left of the humans fled the main house in pandemonium. This was not going to save lives. Unity was what we needed, but division was what was happening. I heard screams, and I knew that Jessup was burning rogues. I ran in search of my brother and found Ari's lifeless body lying at the gate of the estate.
Darts were flying all around me as I turned and beheld a sight that pained my dead heart. House Doran was in flames, and there would be no saving it. My vision was finally coming true. I had to find Waylon. If I could save him, then perhaps what I knew would come next wouldn't have to happen. Maybe the prophecies of The One wouldn't have to be fulfilled.
"Eric!" cried Franklin from behind me.
I turned to him just in time to avoid one of those cursed darts. Did these rogues not know that I had turned Bashire? I was immune to Forsaken saliva. What were they trying to do? Franklin wasn't so convinced. He came rushing toward me as another dart came soaring through the air right for his heart. I used my newly found gift to deflect it just before it hit its mark.
"Get down, Franklin!" I screamed as more darts flew toward us.
He hit the ground, and for an instant, I worried that a dart had actually hit him. I knew that the death of a vampire by Forsaken saliva was not instantaneous, but that didn't stop the fear. I had to resist the urge to rush to him and check for myself. Instead, I saw the source of the darts, and I embraced the fire inside of me again.
Before I could extend my power, the rogue burst into flames in front of me. I whirled around to find Jessup coming up behind me. He was enveloped by that eerie orange aura, so I knew that he'd embraced his own power. He smiled at me, showing me his fangs as three more rogues came out of the burning mansion. This time, I extended myself just in time. Just as they raised their crossbows, they burst into flames.
"They're everywhere, Eric," he said, coming closer to me. "The house will not be saved, Loran is dead, and Stephan will be soon."
"A dart?" I asked as he nodded. "What about the drones?"
"All accounted for except for Jase," he said. "He was with the livestock. Eric, the fire started on the third floor."
"This is a slaughter, Jessup," I spat. "They're killing us like cattle."
"The slayers are killing them faster than they are killing us," he said. "Not to mention Brock and Damon. Those two are faster than vampires."
"They're morphed," I said. "How did they kill Loran?"
"He was beheaded," he said. "They aren't trying very hard to abduct you."
"I'm not the intended target," I replied, walking over to Franklin.
"What are you talking about?" he demanded. "You're The One. This has to be about you."
"This is about Waylon," I said. "Don't ask me how I know, but I do. Sloan isn't even on the estate. Sloan wants me. This is about the keeper."
"What are you talking about?" he demanded.
"They're trying to fulfill a prophecy," I said. "A prophecy that I don't want fulfilled."
"The new council," he said slowly.
"Exactly," I replied. "With Waylon dead, I become the new keeper and the head of the new council. I don't want to be in charge of the new council."
"But that would mean that they are also trying to fulfill the prophecy of the day walker, too," he said.
"That one is lunacy," I said. "My blood will only work on my bloodline. I can't change the entire world of vampires. It isn't possible."
But that's what they were trying to do. They believed the prophecies. What disturbed me even more was that Sloan believed them. In order for these prophecies to be fulfilled, Sloan knew that he had to die. The prophecies wouldn't come true if he was alive. His death was one of the center prophecies.
Throughout the course of that cursed night, Franklin and Jessup helped me search every inch of that estate for Waylon and the others. We caught glimpses of the Forsaken, but never one of our own vampires. Slayers could be seen fighting rogues, but I was beginning to fear that all of the other vampires on the estate were dead. Surely they knew that Jessup and I walked among them. Rogues went up in flames everywhere we walked, but no one approached us.
Waylon was nowhere to be found. I didn't understand. There weren't many places to hide him on the estate. We'd covered everywhere. The sun was about to come up, and I knew that it would be then that my vision would be realized. Franklin was already starting to show signs of fatigue. Jessup and I talked about where to go for the day, and the only place I could think of that would house all of us was my parents' house. The thought of it brought sorrow to the front of my emotions, but there was no other place on the estate for me and Franklin to go.
"The main house is gone," said Franklin. "Daren and Raffiki were inside the last time I saw them. I don't know where they are. You have to find them."
"I'll find them," I told him. "You have to get to the house and get to sleep, Franklin. Jessup and I will search for the others."
"He's scared, Eric," said Jessup as we watched Franklin walk away from us toward my parents' house.
"I understand his fear," I said. "We're not going to find Waylon alive."
"I know," he said.
"The prophecy is fulfilling itself," I said as we walked toward the house.
Brock and Damon came toward us, and I was shocked to see that they had morphed back to their human forms. They were both naked, and their wounds were healing. Brock's bond told me that he wasn't mortally wounded. I knew that whatever wounds he'd sustained would heal faster than Damon's. The bond would make sure of that. He'd need blood, but I could take care of that before I went to sleep.
"Daren, Raffiki and Darian are with Franklin," said Brock when he reached us. "Kennedy is also with them. Loran and Ari are dead, and so is Stephan."
"I know," I replied simply.
"Here come the slayers," said Damon, motioning off to his left.
I turned to look in that direction and I found Waylon. He was lying on the ground about fifty feet from us. The bloodless gash in his neck was clearly visible to me from that distance, and I silently cursed Sloan. Andelynne reached me first, and I felt tears on my own cheeks as my vision finally fulfilled itself.
"Matthias is dead," she said. "He fought hard, but they bled him dry."
I was in a daze after that. I vaguely remember dressing Brock and Damon in my father's clothes after feeding Brock to help mend his wounds. I crawled into my parents' bed with Bashire just before noon that day, and my last thoughts were of how uncomfortable the slayers and watchers had to be in the living room.
That evening, everyone was very subdued. Franklin was an emotional wreck. Anyone who believes that vampires don't have emotions is a mindless idiot. I was in just as much pain as he was, but I knew that with Waylon and over half of the council dead, I had responsibilities to think of. The entire vampire/Forsaken world was about to change, and I was to become its king.
I talked with Bashire and Brock about getting the estate bought for House Maxwell as fast as possible. I'd already decided that it would now house all of the surviving members of House Doran, and the name of the estate would now be House Maxwell - Doran. I planned to ask both Daren and Franklin if they wished to be changed by me and become part of my bloodline. Darian and Raffiki's thoughts already told me that the two of them planned to ask me if they could live on my estate and become part of my bloodline.
It was several nights later that I met the Roark family for the very first time. David Roark was a widowed father of triplet sons who was to be the contractor who would be working on House Maxwell - Doran. He was in his early forties with chestnut hair and hazel eyes. It was clear that his work kept him physically fit, and his body was pleasant to look at.
Bashire told me that he wanted to bond him the day he introduced me to him. I didn't mention to him that just the day before I'd dreamt that his sons were to be my fledglings. I had yet to meet Marcus, Blake and Peran Roark, but I'd seen them in my dream. They were all three carbon copies of their father, younger versions of course.
As the work began on House Maxwell - Doran, I began to plot the death of Sloan Farr. I knew that killing him would essentially seal my own fate, but if I didn't kill him, he would just keep sending his assassins to kill the people I cared the most about.
I couldn't live that way. A war was being waged, and that was bad enough. There would be casualties as there were in any war, but I didn't need to sit back and allow my friends and family to be slaughtered.
"What you plan is suicide, Eric," said Andelynne when Jessup and I sat with her and Bashire to discuss my plan to kill Sloan.
"No it isn't," I told her. "This is all going to happen one way or another. I'm just speeding it up a little. Sloan has to die. If he lives, this will continue to happen. I won't have this kind of attack on my grounds."
"Eric, if you know that Sloan will die at your hand, then why don't you let the vision happen the way it's supposed to happen?" she asked. "Didn't the attack prove that you can't change a vision?"
"Sloan's death wasn't a vision," I corrected her. "His death was a prophecy made by Tyron Par on the night of his assassination."
"Tyron Par was insane, Eric," she sighed.
"Yes, but not all of his prophecies were ramblings," I argued. "I'm living proof of that."
"I still think that it is lunacy to hunt Sloan," she said.
"Andelynne," I said, taking her small hand in mine. "Your council will be invaluable to me in the future, but this is something I must do. You have to understand that."
She relented, but I knew from reading her thoughts that she wasn't happy about it. She didn't have to worry about it for a little while, any way. I had to think of what I wanted to do before I went out and did it. This wasn't going to be as easy as just finding where he was hiding and using my gift to incinerate him.
In the mean time, the work on House Maxwell - Doran went on. During the day, Brock and the watchers worked with the few human males left on the Doran estate to teach them better combat techniques, and at night I went over building plans and progress reports on the main house of my estate. House Maxwell - Doran was coming along nicely.
Of course, Daniel couldn't be kept away from home forever. His homecoming wasn't exactly pleasant. He was mourning the loss of our parents, and he knew that something strange was going on with everyone in the house. He didn't like the way that everyone was keeping secrets from him, and he had many questions that I wasn't sure how to answer. In the end, I decided that honesty was the best policy.
"Vampires?" he laughed. "Next you'll be telling me that werewolves exist."
Brock, Damon and Rafael looked at him with smiles on their faces. Things weren't going well. He'd grown up around vampires his entire life and known nothing about it. It wasn't that I didn't understand it. I had grown up with him, and until the night I was turned, I hadn't know about the reality of the world either.
"Daniel, I am a vampire," I said slowly. "Franklin and Daren are vampires, too."
"I don't believe you," he said. "Vampires don't exist."
"Look at my eyes, Daniel," I said. "Look at Bashire's and Jessup's eyes. Who do you know who has eyes like ours?"
"Franklin and Daren don't have eyes like yours," he said.
I could hear his thoughts. He was getting angry with me for trying to trick him like this. He thought that I was just trying to take his mind off of our parents, and he hated that I was playing on his fantasies. Until then I hadn't known that Daniel had always been interested in vampire legends. He'd been playing a game called Vampire: The Masquerade on the computer without our parents' knowledge.
"There is something that I could do to prove to you that I am a vampire, but I don't want to scare you, Daniel," I said.
"Eric," warned Andelynne.
"I know," I assured her. "Look, you know that something strange has been going on for a long time. You know that you never see Franklin unless it's dark outside, and you haven't seen me since my birthday party."
"That doesn't prove anything," he said.
"I don't know what to do to prove it to him," I said. "What I can do will rock his mind, and right now it's fragile enough."
"What about school?" he asked. "I haven't been to school in a week."
"From now on, you'll be home schooled with the Roark triplets," I said.
"So you're planning to keep the Roarks on at House Maxwell - Doran?" asked Andelynne.
"Bashire has decided to bond David, if he's willing," I replied.
"Does David know about us?" asked Jessup as he leaned forward on the couch.
"He does," replied Bashire. "He came to it on his own somehow. He's very open."
"He's been asking a lot of questions about security for the estate and things like that," said Derrick. "If he isn't bonded, then he has to be either detained or killed."
"He'll be bonded before we move into the main house," said Bashire.
After Daniel went to bed for the night, the planning phase of Sloan's assassination began. Andelynne continued to try and talk me out of it, but I assured her that there was no other way. Sloan had to be killed. I'd accepted that the prophecies had to be fulfilled. I would just have to become what they said I would.
The prophecy stated that once "The One" gained house status, chaos would erupt. It didn't mention Sloan by name, but it did say that one vampire would rise against "The One", and he would be responsible for the fall of the council.
Once that vampire was killed by "The One", the council would be rebuilt. The difference would be that the new council wouldn't be made up of five Forsaken and five vampires. It would be remade into four immortals with me at the helm.
According to prophecy, a war was coming. That war was the fight over my blood. Rogues would come from all over the world to try and steal my blood because of a prophecy told by an insane vampire. This war would not pit vampires against Forsaken. This time, the two different species of immortals would band together to fight in a war against rogue vampires. There would be no new Keeper Of The Watchers.
Vampire slayers would now work for me, and I would deploy them upon the streets to help rid the world of all of the illegitimate vampires in existence. Many more legitimate vampire houses would turn rogue in the coming nights, and the numbers of legitimate vampire houses would thin. Sadly, the original four bloodlines would grow thinner and thinner over the coming years. One day, my bloodline would swallow the other four.
It would begin with Daren and Franklin. Next would be Darian and Raffiki. Already they had asked to join my bloodline. It wouldn't be long before Kennedy asked the same thing. More Forsaken would be turned as well. This was something that wasn't even written in the book of prophecies. I'd seen visions of this in my death sleep and chose to remain silent for fear of being branded insane.
These were the very things that I had so desperately wanted to stop from happening. If only I had killed Sloan as soon as he was branded rogue, none of this would have to happen. Waylon's death was what had set all of this in motion. I had failed to keep this from happening, and it was time now for me to step up to my destiny.
"...and a lone vampire will rise against The One, yet he will fail and his death will herald the beginning of The New World. Let all who oppose The One stand together, for the great slaughter of the opposition will line the streets with blood..."
From "The Book of Vampire Prophecy"
The work was finished on House Maxwell - Doran faster than I'd anticipated, and the night before we moved into the main house, my fledgling took on his first human drone. We'd all talked with David Roark about becoming Bashire's drone, and the man was astounded when he learned the full truth about vampires. He agreed to become a drone, but his thoughts told me that he wasn't so sure about his sons becoming my fledglings. He was worried about their safety with what was happening now. I couldn't blame him for worrying, but the fact remained that they would be my fledglings. I'd foretold this, so I knew that there was no changing it. The main house had been almost completely redone on the inside. Thumb print scanners could be found at the main gate as well as every entrance to each of the buildings on the estate. Sprinklers were in every room of every building, and weapon caches were installed in the walls at various strategic places in each building as well. Thumb print scanners insured that each weapons cache could only be opened by specific people on the estate.
I noticed that there was now an outside entrance to the basement of the main house where the "pen" was located. It also had a thumb print scanner to keep it closed to anyone who was not allowed in it. Just like I'd asked, the place looked like a prison with even more cells than the third floor of House Doran There were toilets, open showers and sinks in every cell. Two bunks for each cell meant that two humans would be incarcerated while they waited for the trip to the main floor.
Pete Flemming, Daren's new drone was already seated behind the desk at what I'd call the font of the room. The door to the stairway that would lead to the main floor of the house was behind his desk, and just like in House Doran it was a heavy iron door with a small window to view the stairway. I was pleased with the set up, and I told Pete so. He'd been mostly in charge of getting the place ready, and I wondered when they would start filling it with human prisoners. I'd already made it clear that only the worst in society would be caged here, and every member of the estate knew of the rules of my bloodline when it came to feeding and hunting.
"We'll begin hunting for livestock as soon as everyone is settled in the main house," Pete told me when I asked about the hunting party. "It will be me, Dash and David who hunts them down. We'll start with the police stations and work our way from there."
"You know that there are scores of drones in the city now that rogues have began to take them on," I warned. "You'll have to be careful. This is war, Pete."
"Oh, we all know that, Father Eric," he replied. "We've all been working with the Forsaken. They're training us well."
Pete was a tall man well over six feet with shoulder length dark hair and eyes like a raven's. His body was muscular, and there was a sense of power about him that I was sure would work to his advantage. I was happy to hear that the drones were being trained by Forsaken as well. House Maxwell - Doran wouldn't know peace for quite some time.
The stairwell door opened into a small room just off the kitchen. Once it had been a pantry, but now it was just another holding area for the pen below. Another thumb print scanner served as the only way to open the door to leave the room and gain entrance to the main floor of the house. Derrick and Brock had made sure that everyone who would be living on the estate had been scanned, and Brock entered all of the data into the house computer.
The main hall was still white, but it wasn't as gleaming white as it had been. The walls were paneled with pine wood that was ivory in color. The marble floor was no longer white at all. I was pleased with the beige marble that my feet were standing on. The floor had been buffed to shine, and I could see the reflection of the crystal chandelier.
Every room on the ground floor looked different. Gone were the crazed blues and reds that whoever had owned the estate before me had loved so much. Now the entire house showcased the fact that its owner was wealthy, but it was simply decorated and warm colors were used in every room. The library was filled with books now, and I noticed three glass cases with thumb print scanners at one end of the room opposite the desk. They housed the three most important books to the estate. The Book of Vampire Prophecy, The Book of Vampire Records and The Book of Forsaken Records were in those cases. On the desk were the books of vampire and Forsaken laws. Laws would be rewritten in the coming days, and several copies of the book would be printed and doled out to what was left of the legitimate vampire houses.
"I trust this room is to your liking," Brock said from the doorway as I scanned the books on the desk.
"Very much so," I replied, putting the book down and facing my drone.
"You'll be writing new laws for both of our species soon," he said, coming further into the room. "I'm eager to know what those laws will be."
"I haven't given a great deal of thought to the new laws," I admitted. "It won't be necessary for a little while yet. I still have to find and kill Sloan Farr."
"You're still planning to hunt the city in daylight?" He asked, knowing full well what my answer would be.
"We'll begin within the next few days," I replied. "You know that it must be done. We'll kill any and all rogues and their drones that we encounter on our search. I want this ended, Brock."
"You're sure we'll find Sloan?"
"I'm certain," I replied. "One of the few true prophecies of Tyron Par tell of Sloan's death at my hand. The other prophecies will fulfill themselves shortly after."
"And are you ready to take on the role of King of The Immortals?" He asked, sitting in a chair in front of the desk. His eyes bored into me as he watched for any facial reaction to his words.
"It doesn't really matter if I'm ready, does it?" I asked, sitting down behind the desk. "You and I both know that the immortal world will erupt in chaos if I don't."
"Watchers are already calling in from all over the world," he said, dropping his gaze to his hands in his lap. "When will you set them all to the hunt?"
"I've decided to name Derrick my general among the watchers," I replied. "He was one, so he'll know exactly what needs to be done to ensure their loyalties."
"And what of the Forsaken?"
"I imagine that you and Rafael will be in charge of making sure that Forsaken know what must be done," I said slowly. "Forsaken have a natural hatred for rogue vampires. I'm sure it won't be hard to rein them in and set them to hunting them."
"These are going to be dark days Eric," he sighed. "Many will die on both sides of the war."
"Our secrecy will soon be over Brock," I warned. "Humans will know about us before this war reaches its bloody end."
"Yes, but I wonder what the government's reaction to us will be," I stated. "Not many in the government know about us. There have always been a select group in one organization or another that knew the full truth. They've been allowed to believe that they can govern us for far too long. Rules will change soon, and no one in power will like the new ones."
"There's no going back, is there?" He asked, and I could see that his azure eyes were troubled.
"I'm afraid not," I replied. "I don't like this any more than you do, but I don't know any other way to do this and keep our secrets."
"You still plan to hunt Sloan in the morning?" He asked, and I could see his body tense as he asked.
"Yes," I replied. "Sloan doesn't have a Forsaken to draw from now. Hunting him in daylight will give us an advantage."
"And if we don't find him?"
"Then we'll keep hunting him," I sighed. "The rogues already know about me, Brock. The only thing that saves us is that they don't know exactly where we are yet. Once they learn the location of House Maxwell - Doran the war will be on."
"You plan to kill any and all rogues you encounter in the city?" He asked.
"My plans have not changed," I replied. "As I said, under the sun the rogues will be sleeping. You know as well as I do that a vampire's daytime sleep is unbreakable. Nothing that we do will wake them. It will only be their drones that we have to contend with."
"There's nothing I can do to talk you out of this, is there?"
"Brock," I sighed again, "you know that this has to happen. I can't sit here and wait for them to find me, and Sloan can't be given the opportunity to build an army against me. If I don't hunt them, they'll find me. As a Father of The Blood, I have the right to hunt rogues and kill them. You knew that this was how it was going to be."
"I didn't feel the way I feel about you now before all of this started, Eric," he said quickly. "I didn't expect to fall in love with you."
"I didn't expect you to, either," I said. "But the fact still remains that this is what must be done."
He didn't argue after that. When the sun began to rise, he followed us to the ruins of House Doran I could smell the undead on that estate, but when we got there, there was no other vampires on the grounds. I scanned the minds of every living thing for miles around the estate and still found no trace of Sloan. Rogues were everywhere, and we would eradicate them before the sun rose again.
The sun was high in the sky as Jessup and I gathered with all three of the vampire slayers, their watchers and the Forsaken at the gates of House Doran. The blackened and charred ruins of the main house stood in devastation behind our backs. That alone was reason to hunt the rogue known as Sloan Farr. What would come next could not be avoided, and I knew that my own life would change once I found my prey. The time had come to begin the new way of life.
We set out casually walking down the streets of the city. Our vampire noses sensed the faint scent of death all over the city. It wasn't the smell of human death. This was older and more faint, for the undead have a scent of their very own. Following our noses, we came to one lair of vampires after another, but the one I sought was never among them. I marveled at how easy it was to slaughter them with the sun beaming down over my shoulders. Their death sleep was impenetrable while the sun rode the sky.
Then I beheld what, in my mind, was an affront to every legitimate vampire house in the world. It was a three story house in a middle class neighborhood. I could smell the vampires and drones inside, but what struck me was the coat of arms on the front door of the house. A vampire crest is much different than a normal coat of arms. For one thing, the only color in a vampire crest is blood red, because it is blood that is used to make the crest. This coat of arms was colored with blood. The name on the crest was Kahn.
"These are impostor vampires," I mumbled as I stared at the crest.
"No they aren't," said Bashire as he and Brock stepped up beside me. "They were in the process of becoming a legitimate house when all of this started, Eric. The council had yet to vote on them. Pass them by."
As I stood there, looking at the crest, I saw the Sire Vampire of the house. His name was Charles Kahn and he'd been sired by rogue vampire named Farren over fifty years ago. He'd been sixteen when he'd been turned, and all three of his fledglings had been that age when he'd turned them. He had three drones, and on of his fledglings had two of his own. If Bashire said that the council had yet to vote on their standing who was I to decide it alone?
We left them untouched, but I planned to meet the Kahn coven as soon as all of this was over. I thought we'd need as many allies as we could get once Sloan was dead. The world would know about me soon, and rogues from everywhere would come. It would be known to the immortal world as "The War of The Blood", and it wouldn't end for a very long time.
We didn't find Sloan before the sun started to set, and we'd decided before we left that day to return to the estate as soon as the sun began to set. Once the sun was down, the vampires would all be awake, and that would make things more difficult. We didn't want the world to know about us until much later. I'd already told all of them that our secrecy would be over before long, and the world would know about vampires and Forsaken. My very existence would change the entire world.
"Did you find Sloan?" Demanded Franklin when we came back into the house that evening.
"No," I replied. "We found scores of rogues, though."
"Did you kill them all?" asked Daren.
"All of the ones that we found," I replied. "We'll search for Sloan again tomorrow."
"And what of House Kahn asked Kennedy. "Brock told me that you were there today."
"We were there," I affirmed. "What had the council decided about House Kahn?"
"We were going to award them house status," said Kennedy. "We just had to wait until after we got here to deal with you."
"Deal with me?"
"Well, you have to understand that we didn't really believe you were 'The One' until we saw what you could do," said Kennedy quickly. "Before we got here, we were going to just grant you house status and leave you alone."
"And now you want to be part of my bloodline," I remarked.
"More than anything," he said not taking his green eyes off of me.
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life," he replied evenly.
He made no move to escape me as I advanced slowly toward him. I held out my arms to him and marveled at the perfect trust he had in me as he stepped into my embrace. His mind told me that he was both terrified and excited as my fangs sank into the creamy skin of his neck. In a flash, my mind was filled with the images of how Kennedy was turned by Stephan. Rules were broken in his turning, because Kennedy was not given a choice in the matter at all. His fear of Stephan was the only thing that kept him from resisting him.
I was aware that Bashire and Jessup were watching us closely. Franklin's mind screamed of jealousy that he wasn't the one in my embrace. I had no time to think about that. Kennedy's heartbeat slowed, and I carefully removed my fangs. I made the incision in my neck as I stepped back from him. He wasted no time in stepping forward to drink from me and solidify his change from Stephan's fledgling to one of my own.
This time I was ready for the aftermath of the change in Kennedy. As his body began to fall to the floor, I caught him in my arms. I held him tight as his body convulsed from the blood raging through his veins. Like Jessup his muscles expanded and tore the clothing from his body, and when he opened his green eyes, I saw the blood red rings around his irises.
Dash, one of Raffiki's drones, was in the room with clothing for Kennedy before I could even think to ask. All of the other vampires were also in the room along with Derrick and Andelynne I wasn't paying any attention to any of them, however. I was completely absorbed in Kennedy's transformation.
"How do you feel?" I asked him as he finally stood on his own two feet.
"Strange," he replied, looking around the room with his newly enhanced eyes. "I can hear the thoughts of everyone in this room."
"It's a side effect of my blood," I assured him. "You'll get used to it, but you have to learn to concentrate on those thoughts and isolate one from within the many."
"You hate me," he said, turning to Franklin. "You think that you should have been the one to be converted first, and you're angry that Eric chose me before you."
"I don't hate you," replied Franklin. "But I do wish that I was in your place right now."
"Soon, brother," I said as I all but collapsed into the chair behind the desk. "I need to feed."
"I'll bring someone," said Derrick, leaving the room.
It was then that I sensed humans in the cells under the floor. I hadn't known that they'd even started to hunt for livestock. I'd been so wrapped up in hunting rogues and Sloan that I wasn't aware of a lot of things that had gone on around the estate. The cells were all full, and everyone had moved into the buildings on the estate.
Derrick returned with a man no older than twenty with fiery red hair and dark green eyes. I could pluck out his crimes from the thoughts in his mind with ease. He was a murderer who had killed so many that authorities couldn't begin to link him to each of his victims. Unlike the livestock of House Doran this man knew that he'd been brought to House Maxwell - Doran to die. He knew that vampires and Forsaken walked the grounds, for he'd seen them with his own eyes the night he'd arrived.
I wasted no time with this man. In a flash I was on him, and he fought with everything he had. It made his taking more violent than any I'd ever experienced before, but the fire in him stoked the blaze inside me. In a matter of minutes he was nothing more than a pile of ash at my feet, and his blood was filling the emptiness that changing Kennedy had left inside me.
The disappointment I heard screaming in my brother's thoughts was enough to make my quickened heart break. Everyone was confused when I asked for another from the pen downstairs, but when I stepped up to my brother, he knew what was happening. He tilted his head, exposing his neck to me. His blood was like liquid fire. I could feel every member of my family in that blood all the way back to Tyron Par. I'd had no idea what it would be like to drink the blood of a member of my own blood family, and I had to force myself to stop before I drank him dry.
He staggered from the effect of being so low on blood, but I caught him and cradled his head in my hand as I drew his lips to the gash in my throat. He moaned as he began to draw back blood from me, and his arms tightened around me. When he let go of me I was too shocked to catch him as he fell to the floor. As his body convulsed, I worried that maybe the change would kill him. His body expanded and muscles grew just like Jessup and Kennedy, but he wailed in pain as my blood raced through him.
My fear subsided as he got to his feet, and I was stunned when his body levitated off of the floor. It was clear that he possessed the flight gift like Bashire but when I saw the orange nimbus surround him as he embraced the fire within his heart, I gasped. Two gifts came with my blood for Franklin, but as he wailed again I worried that perhaps madness cursed him as well.
Darian and Raffiki beheld their cousin with fear filled gazes as he wailed once more. Finally his body floated back to the floor, and as soon as his feet touched the carpet, the nimbus was gone. He looked at me with his dark eyes, and I beheld the white rings around his irises. His thoughts told me that he was in awe of his new found abilities, but madness did not threaten him.
"This is what you contend with every day?" He said in a voice that was completely changed. "This knowledge that the fire inside of you could consume you if you let it yet you want to draw more and more of it, knowing what the consequence could be."
"Franklin, it won't consume you," I assured him. "It only feels that way. You'll control it."
"I want to use it," he stated flatly as Daren handed him clothing. "I want to burn so badly that I can taste the fire."
"You can only burn the lifeless bodies of your victims, Franklin," I said quickly.
"I want to hunt rogues with you and the others," he said.
I knew that my new position granted me the right to give him permission. The council was gone, and I was in charge. No one would question a order from me, but I didn't know if I wanted him hunting along side me. Logic told me that he was the older of the two of us, and he could take care of himself. I could think of no valid reason to keep him from joining the hunt, but I really didn't want him out there with us where rogues and drones would be trying to kill him. It was stupid of me to feel that way, and I knew it. Still I didn't want Franklin or Daren out there with us. It actually felt like they were both my little brothers, and both of them were older than me in human years as well as the blood. I had to get a handle on my feelings about those two, and I needed to do it soon.
"You need to use the fire gift at least once before you can hunt with us," I said slowly.
He got his chance to use the gift just after I was finished with my second victim of the night. He incinerated him before I could even grasp the power within me to do so. I had no choice but to tell him that when the hunting party gathered again, he could join us. Darian and Raffiki both asked to be changed that night as well, but I didn't think I could stand another blood exchange. I promised that every vampire in the house would be changed by the end of that week.
"You're weak from the blood exchanges," said Bashire when I finally followed him up to our room for at least a few hours of sleep. The slayers and watchers would stand guard on the estate to make sure that Bashire and I were not at risk.
"It had to be done," I sighed as we got undressed. "None of them will be satisfied until they are all converted, Bashire I wish there was another way to do it, but there isn't."
"So you're going to keep draining yourself to make sure that the vampires in House Maxwell - Doran are happy?"
"What other choice is there?" I asked. "The war is coming, Bashire. They need to be converted quickly."
Once we were both naked, all talk of conversions and rogues was done. He growled softly almost as if he were still Forsaken, and I wrapped my arms around his hard body as we sank into the bed tangled in each other's arms. We battled for position as we righted ourselves in the bed, and he had me pinned to the mattress in seconds. I could see the hunger in his eyes, and it excited me immediately. I surrendered myself to his desires and rode the waves of pleasure that he doled out in his passion.
I sighed as I felt him enter me, and I was shocked when his fangs pierced my neck. He drew blood slowly from my vein as his dick pumped in and out of my ass. My head swam in the pool of unbridled sensations that filled my body. I could feel my quickened heart quiver from the ecstasy of his bite. Mixed with the sexual elation was the euphoria of the vampire bite, and I didn't hesitate to sink my own fangs into his shoulder as I rode the waves of bliss.
As his blood splashed over my tongue, my body shivered as he pounded my prostate, sending me closer and closer to a thunderous orgasm. The euphoria of his bite mixed with my own was sending a river of pleasure through my body. As he growled against my neck, I knew that he was in the same state. I clenched my sphincter to heighten the sensation of his dick as it sank into me. With each thrust of his dick, I drew just a little more of his blood from the vein in his shoulder.
Over and over again, he thrusted into me, sending me further and further into the abyss of pleasure that was his essence. I shuddered as I felt his balls propel his seed into my bowls, and he nearly howled from the pleasure of his orgasm. My own passion still unspent, I flipped us over and hooked his legs with my own shoulders along the way. His eyes glowed in the dying light around us as I sank my dick to the hilt inside his velvet tunnel.
There was blood on his chin, and I could see it dripping onto his chest from my open mouth as I drove myself into him. We panted together as I strove to reach the orgasm of my life. Not be left out, he slammed his ass back against me with every thrust of my dick into him. His eyes dared me, and I met the competitive glare, driving into him harder and harder until we were both grunting with every thrust. When I felt my balls begin to churn my burning seed, I gasped. The waves of my orgasm rocked me as I slammed my hips against his ass in one last effort to drive more of my dick into him.
We fell asleep stuck to each other as the first rays of the morning sun glanced through the protected glass of the windows.