by Julien regg
When I opened my eyes again, Sedrick was just finishing laying out clothes for me and Bashire to wear. Bashire was still sleeping beside me, and I took the time to look at him in the dying rays of the setting sun coming through the French doors. He was so beautiful to look at. His blond hair fanned out over the pillow beneath his head, and his creamy skin was unblemished. His lips looked pale, because he needed to feed, but the mustache and goatee that framed them was perfectly trimmed. His naked body was stretched out in the bed, and I took in his beauty as my eyes traveled the length of him. His erection had wilted with the loss of blood that happens when a vampire sleeps, but his muscular thighs and calves looked as perfect as ever. I ran my hand over his hairy chest, feeling the silky texture of his body hair. His eyes slowly opened as I touched him, and a smile spread across his face as he gazed up at me.
"Hello, lover," he said, raising up to kiss me.
"Hello to you," I replied after the kiss. "We need to feed before we bathe."
"Is Sedrick near by?" he asked.
"I'm sure he's next door in Fredrick's room," I said as he surprised me by walking in the bedroom door with two young men in front of him.
There was no time for the game that evening, so Bashire and I wasted no time in taking both of them. I barely registered what they looked like before I set them ablaze and let Bashire into the bathroom for our bath. Sedrick informed us that Andelynne and Derrick were both in the great room as we got dressed after the bath.
"They've been awake since around noon," he said.
"Any word from Brock?" asked Bashire, knowing that there wouldn't have been this early. He was traveling with vampires that were still hindered by the sun.
"No word as of yet," he said as he walked with us down the hall to the staircase.
They were talking quietly when we walked into the great room and took our seats on the settee. Derrick looked up at us and smiled as we sat down. Andelynne stopped talking in mid sentence, and I knew that they had been talking about us. I wasn't reading their thoughts, but it was easy to figure out that someone was talking about you when they stopped talking abruptly as you entered the room they were in.
"How was your sleep?" she asked as she turned to face us.
"Dreamless, for once," I said.
"I thought vampires couldn't dream," said Derrick, looking at me evenly.
"They can if they are seers with the gift of foretelling," I replied.
"What are the dreams of The One like?" asked Andelynne in a voice barely above a whisper.
"I can't describe them to you," I told her. "I can tell you what I see in them, but there is no way for me to show you."
"What about me?" asked Derrick.
"Not without turning you into a real vampire," I replied.
"I'm a super drone," he scoffed. "I can't be turned."
"They said that regular drones couldn't be turned as well," I reminded him. "And now I have Bashire."
He looked back and forth from me to Bashire silently, and I wondered what was running through his mind. I could have easily read his thoughts for myself, but I didn't want to do that to him. It seemed like a violation against him now that I knew that he would soon be one of my drones. Besides, he could tell when I was reading his mind. I still wasn't any closer to figuring out how he knew, but I didn't think I would ever figure that out. Very little was known about super drones and mind reading. Seers were so rare, and super drones usually stayed away from vampires.
"What if I wanted you to make me on of your drones?" he asked, gaining a wide eyed shocked look from Andelynne. "A regular drone like Sedrick is to Doran."
"Well, I don't know if that's even possible," I lied. I'd seen that he would be one of my drones in a vision, so I knew that it was possible, but Brock was supposed to be my first drone. I couldn't tell Derrick that I could bond him, but tell him he had to wait until after the council left before I could do it.
"That's what we were talking about when you came in," said Andelynne. "Derrick wants to be your drone, Eric."
"But wouldn't that mean that you would lose another watcher?" Bashire asked her, and I had to wonder if he'd forgotten that I'd told him about the slayers working for me.
"Well, I'd stop being a slayer if Derrick became a regular drone," she said slowly. "I'd stay with Eric, too."
"I see that Bashire is an early riser, too," said Tallan as he and Doran came into the room, stopping our conversation completely.
"He is of my bloodline," I replied. "Where are the others?"
"Staying as far away from the battlefield as possible," remarked Doran. "They don't want to be in the way when Brock and Sloan show up."
"It isn't going to be a war, Sire," I said.
"I know that, Eric," he replied softly. "It's just that after last night's vision, the others are a bit nervous about what will happen."
The doorbell rang, and I know that every living heart in the house skipped a beat as the humans realized who had arrived. Thankfully, the vampire hearts weren't beating. Sedrick walked past the great room door to the front door, and Bashire and I shared a meaningful look while Tallan and Doran stood up.
"Master Doran," said Sedrick as he stood in the doorway. "Brock Roberts, Sloan Farr and Matthias Kull of the Forsaken/Vampire High Council have arrived."
"Thank you, Sedrick," said Doran as Bashire and I stood as well. There'd been no time for Andelynne and Derrick to leave the room, so they stood as well.
"Doran, Tallan," said Sloan as he walked into the room. He had been only fifteen years old when he'd been turned, and he had that ageless look to him that came from his near century of being a vampire. His voice was soft and smooth, but I didn't even have to read his thoughts to know that it was edged with a hatred that was limitless. He turned those hateful green eyes on me and smiled in a way that made my knees nearly buckle. "This must be the fledgling Brock won't shut up about."
"Sloan Farr," said Master Tallan. "I present Eric Maxwell-Doran of House Doran."
"His eyes," said Sloan as he took a step closer to me. He'd completely ignored Bashire so far, but as he gasped, I noticed that he was no longer looking at me. He was staring at Bashire. "He's been turned!"
"Who did this?" demanded Sloan, cutting Bashire off. He turned around so quickly that it nearly made me dizzy.
"I think you'd all better sit down," said Tallan. "There are a few things we need to discuss."
"Tell me who did this," commanded Sloan. "This is an out right violation of vampire law!"
"Sloan, calm down," said Brock.
"Do not tell me to calm down!" he cried, whirling on Brock. "You knew about this! When Bashire called you, he told you of his change. Yet you neglected to inform the rest of the council."
"Bashire is Forsaken High Seat," said Brock. "I followed an order."
"Bashire is a sacrilegious half breed!" cried Sloan.
"Now, wait just a minute," I said, stepping between Sloan and Brock.
"You!" spat Sloan. "You're the vampire responsible for this...thing!"
"I am not a thing, Sloan," said Bashire. "I am Bashire Par-Maxwell of House Doran and soon to be of House Maxwell - Doran. I will fight for my survival if necessary, and I assure you that I am far more powerful than you could ever imagine."
"Enough," cried Tallan. "Everyone sit down."
"I am Vampire High Seat, Tallan," snapped Sloan never taking his eyes off of Bashire. "You will not order me around."
"Sloan," said Brock. "Let's sit and listen to what they have to say."
"This abomination must be destroyed by the law of the council," insisted Sloan, and my vision became a reality. "You dare to defy the laws of the council by letting this half breed and his maker live when you know the law says that they are both to be put to death! I will not sit. Fledgling Eric must kill Bashire, and then I will kill him."
"I will not kill Bashire!" I screamed in a voice so loud that even the vampires flinched. "You will listen, Sloan. My name is Eric Maxwell - Doran. Know it well, because I will be on this Earth long after you are nothing more than ashes in the wind. This I foretell!"
"Eric," warned Tallan, but Sloan cut him off.
"You dare to pretend to possess the gift of foretelling!" he hissed at me. "You should be put to death for that alone."
"I do not pretend," I said. "I am a direct blood descendent of Tyron Par, and I assure you that every gift he possessed after his turning are mine as well. The difference between us is that my blood can turn drones. You call yourself Vampire High Seat, but I submit to you that you will be cast out of the council before the sun rises five days from tomorrow!"
"I should kill you now and be done with it," snarled Sloan, twisting his face into an ugly grimace.
"You will do no such thing," said Andelynne, stepping between me and Sloan. "My name is Andelynne Walker, Vampire Slayer. I swear fealty to Eric Maxwell - Doran, fledgling of Doran and Father of Bloodline Maxwell. If you try to harm him, you will die at my hand!"
Everyone was silent as Sloan and Andelynne attempted to stare each other down. The fire in Andelynne's voice and the sincerity in her words were enough to convince me that I would be making the right decision when the time came to discuss her with the government, asking to employ her for my house.
"Watch yourself, slayer," hissed Sloan as he stared at her. "If you utter one more false claim, your bosses won't even bat an eye when they learn that I've dispatched you. I'd think before putting myself in league with this imposter. Father Of The Blood, he is not!"
"Sloan, if you would just sit down and listen to what we have to say, you'll understand why we plan to ask the council to add Eric's name to The Book Of Vampire Records as a Father Of The Blood and Sire Vampire of his own house," said Tallan, taking him by the arm.
"You mean to tell me that you believe this lunacy?" snapped Sloan, jerking his arm out of Tallan's grasp. "This is preposterous!"
"We will call a meeting of the council tonight, Sloan," said Tallan. "All I need is Brock and Matthias's approval."
"You have mine," said Brock, gaining a hateful glance from Sloan.
"And mine as well," Matthias breathed, uttering his first words since he'd arrived. "He's The One, Sloan. Can't you see that?"
"Fine," he said, straightening and trying to make himself look taller than he was. "Since you are all prepared to go forward with this nonsense, I will let it happen."
We all sat down, but it wasn't over. Sloan glared at me as I looked back at him passively. His thoughts were easy to read. He couldn't wait for the rest of the council to get here. He was planning to get them to agree to mine and Bashire's destruction. If it weren't for Matthias and Brock agreeing to let Tallan call the meeting, he'd have tried to kill us himself.
"Sloan, you're forgetting something," said Brock as he stared at Bashire. "Bashire was a drone. Eric's blood must be different than any other vampires, because never before has a drone been turned."
"His blood is different," said Tallan. "Look at their eyes, Sloan. No vampire has eyes like theirs. You can smell the difference about them, too. I know you can."
"The council will not vote to kill the beginning of a new bloodline," said Brock. "He's also a prophet. He can foretell. You know the rules about prophets."
"Bashire must die," insisted Sloan. "His turning requires it."
"Bashire will not be killed, Sloan," said Brock. "He is safe, because his sire is a Father Of The Blood. The council will be writing new laws now that Eric is in the picture. So many things will change because of him."
Then I felt something strange. It was something I'd never felt before, and yet I had felt it before. I'd seen all of this in my vision, and I knew exactly what the feeling was. Sloan. I could feel him in my head, and it was the most awful feeling I'd ever felt before. Sloan was trying to read my mind for any deception. I felt the power flood through me before I'd even thought to embrace it. I could feel the heat in my eyes from it.
"You know I possess the gift of combustion," I hissed at him, leaping to my feet to tower over him. "If you invade my mind even one more time, I'll burn you to a cinder!"
"You dare to threaten me?" he cried, getting to his feet as well. "I am Vampire High Seat, and you face death for even making a threat against me."
"I can't believe it," mumbled Doran in awe as he witnessed exactly what I'd told him would happen the night before when we'd discussed my vision.
"You have no power over me, Sloan Farr," I said, my voice dripping with hatred. "You just exposed yourself for the treasonous traitor you are."
"How dare you!" hissed Sloan.
"Wait," demanded Matthias, shocking everyone. "He said that you invaded his mind. You're a seer!"
"A fact which you withheld from every seat on the council," said Tallan.
Sloan stared at me with hate filled eyes, and his thoughts ran wild. He wanted to kill me for exposing him, but he thought he could save himself by claiming that I had lied about feeling him inside my mind. He was about to open his mouth to voice that very thing when I slammed into his mind with every bit of my mind control power that I could shove at him. He staggered from the effect, but it was too late. I could actually see the power weaving itself into a tight rope as I bound his mind, leaving him completely without his faculties. He stood there, slack jawed and began to drool from the corner of his mouth.
"What have you done to him?" gasped Matthias as he beheld the state that Sloan was in.
"A mind trap," I replied. "But there's more that he's hiding, more than even I had foretold. He possesses the gift of mind control."
"That's not possible!" cried Tallan. "No vampire has possessed that gift since the death of Tyron Par until you, Eric."
"I'm telling you he possesses it," I said. "I can see it in his splayed mind, glaring back at me."
"How is this possible?" demanded Doran.
"It isn't a gift that is really his," I said as I probed deeper into his mind to examine what I could see of his abilities.
"He got it from Tyron Par," sighed Matthias as he sat back down in the seat he'd vacated.
"What are you talking about?" asked Tallan.
"That's where it all comes from," replied Matthias. "His seer ability and the mind control. He drank the blood of Tyron Par before he took his head."
And then I saw it for myself. The vision nearly rocked me off my feet. I could see the cold winter night, and Tyron was lying in the snow, babbling about The One. I was shocked to see that he looked so much like Bashire. His body and his face were almost an exact match to the fledgling that now owned my heart. There were subtle differences, but I could plainly see that they were related.
Sloan was laughing at him as he rambled on and on about The One leading all vampires into the light. I saw the vampire, Jessup, lying off to one side of Tyron, and I knew that Sloan was somehow responsible for that. There was another vampire there that I didn't know, but Sloan's mind easily gave me the name. I was looking at Count Duku. A Father Of The Blood had been witness to the assassination of Tyron Par.
"He thinks he is the only one with gifts," laughed Sloan. "Now that his sire is down, Tyron is defenseless."
"Don't be a fool, Sloan," warned the Count. "He could burn you to ashes before you even knew what was happening."
"The elixir is working on him," replied Sloan in that cocky voice I'd heard just minutes ago in my own time.
"Why did it not make him sleep like Jessup?" demanded Count Duku. "I'm telling you, his blood is too strong."
"We'll see how strong his blood is," breathed Sloan as he knelt beside my fallen ancestor.
His fangs sank into Tyron's flesh, and I saw the fire in Tyron's eyes. It was a wonder that Sloan survived, but it was Count Duku that went up in flames. Whatever elixir they'd spoke of hadn't been powerful enough to render Tyron unconscious, but it had been powerful enough to confuse his mind and make his power erratic. Count Duku had died instead of Sloan, another death to be credited to Sloan's greed for power.
"The One will walk the Earth with more than just my cursed blood in his veins," screamed Tyron as Sloan stood up, his feeding over. "You will face him, and he will know the evil that you are, Sloan Farr!"
"The One?" laughed Sloan. "The One will be nothing more than a rambling freak, just like you."
"You mock me," said Tyron. "That's fine. You go right on mocking me, but hear my words, Sloan Farr. The One will walk the Earth, and it is he that you should fear. For it is The One that will be your executioner. He will make your blood boil."
Sloan forever silenced the mad prophet with one mighty swing of the axe in his hands. I saw it all. From the defiant look in Tyron's eyes to the self satisfied smirk on Sloan's face. It wasn't until he stepped over to Jessup's unconscious form that I saw what really happened to put Jessup into his catatonic state. I could actually see the power flowing from Sloan into Jessup's mind, slamming almost the exact same mind trap on Jessup as I'd sown in his own head almost a century later.
I rocked back to the present after that. The vision just melted from my mind, and my heart was filled with rage and hatred for what Sloan Farr had done. It took every ounce of self control in my body to keep from setting him ablaze in that moment, but he was still Vampire High Seat, and I'd already broken enough laws.
"Get him out of my sight," I said as I sank back into my chair exhausted from the vision. "And bring me food."
"You really are The One," said Brock as he openly stared at me.
"I wanted to kill him," I informed all who listened. "I wanted to burn him with every shred of the power inside of me."
"He'll be removed from High Seat and banished from the council," said Brock.
"I will sever his power," I vowed. "Before the council acts against him, he will be utterly powerless."
I noticed Matthias staring at me in wonder. His thoughts were erratic, but I saw Jessup in them more than once. He was debating if he should talk to me or not. Fear and hope battled in his head. He feared that if he spoke to me, I might just burn him for it. He hoped for something that even I didn't know how to put into a clear thought.
"I've seen that look before," he mumbled so low it was almost as if he were speaking to himself. "You did to Sloan what he did to Jessup."
Then I saw a clear picture in his mind. He had been in love with Jessup since the night Alexander Kull had turned him. It was that love that drove him to hold a struggling human so that Jessup could mindlessly drink each night. It was that love that made him bring the catatonic vampire with him on this journey. Jessup was lying in one of the bedrooms on the ground floor of the house.
"I've called a meeting of the council," said Tallan as he came back into the room. I'd been studying Matthias so intensely that I hadn't even known he had left the room. "They'll be here in two days."
Sedrick came in as soon as Tallan finished speaking with a young man of about twenty years old. He had blond hair and blue eyes, and I could see the hatred in his eyes. His mind told me all about his crimes. He had murdered his bride and best friend on his wedding night when he'd caught them having sex. He would have continued to kill if Sedrick hadn't paid his bail when they'd arrested him and brought him to House Doran.
I was on him so fast that I startled everyone in the room. I drained him dry in four gulps of his blood, and the body was ashes before anyone could comment. I slumped back in my seat as everyone stared at me. Andelynne and Derrick had never witnessed any of my powers in action, and Brock and Matthias regarded me with a mixture of fear and awe. Bashire was irritated, because I had burned the body, and Doran and Tallan were both wondering if my rage would subside.
"I'm fine," I said, waiving the two of them off before they could voice their concerns. "It isn't every day that you witness the murder of an ancestor."
"You actually saw?" gasped Matthias.
"I saw everything," I replied. "I saw the death of Count Duku, burned alive by Tyron Par under the influence of some elixir. I saw him beheaded by Sloan just moments after he'd prophecies my existence, and after Sloan had drank from him, stealing powers that were never meant for him. I saw everything."
"Are you saying that Sloan is responsible for the death of Count Duku?" asked Tallan as he finally sat back down next to Doran.
"Indirectly," I affirmed. "It was the elixir that threw Tyron's aim."
"He was aiming for Sloan?" asked Doran as if there I'd left any doubt.
"Irony of ironies," I chuckled, looking at Matthias. "The very mind trap that Jessup slumbers under is now Sloan's mind prison."
"What are you saying?" he demanded, but in his mind, I saw that he already knew. He was formulating a plan as he asked the question.
"You know exactly what I'm saying," I replied. "What he did to Jessup, I did to him."
"If you could build it, you can tear it down," he said excitedly. "You can bring Jessup back!"
"Matthias," I said carefully, "there is no way of knowing what state Jessup's mind will be in after the trap is removed. He's been under it for nearly a century."
"But you can heal him!" he cried. "You can make Jessup what he once was! Your blood turned Bashire. Surely it can help Jessup."
His words gave me pause. It would be the perfect way to show the council that my blood was new to the vampire world. If I could restore Jessup, then they would have to accept me as a Father Of The Blood. The question was, did I want to use Jessup like that? Of course, there was another way to look at it. I'd be undoing a wrong committed against the very vampire that was responsible for my own bloodline. I would be saving the vampire that started this whole thing and brought me into existence.
"Eric, you must do this for Jessup," he went on when I was silent too long.
"For Jessup, or for you?" I asked, making him flinch. "Don't lie to me, Matthias. I can hear your thoughts as good as if they were my own."
"It's true that I love Jessup," he said, turning his head from me. "I've loved him since he was human. It was for me that Alexander turned Jessup. I begged him for months to turn him."
"So, answer my question," I prodded him. "Would I be doing this for you or for Jessup?"
Now it was his turn to be silent and mull over his thoughts. I left them alone and allowed him to keep them private. I had my own thoughts to peruse. The other members of the council would be here in two days, and I had much planning to do before they arrived. There could be no mistakes. I would be named a Father Of The Blood, and Sloan would be banished.
"Will you do it?" asked Bashire when we were back upstairs in our room, twisted around each other in the bed. "Will you restore Jessup?"
"I will," I replied honestly. "I'll do it once the council arrives."
"You want them to see it, don't you?" he asked, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice.
"Bashire, they have to see it happen," I said. "They have to see my blood in action."
"But to use Jessup that way," he said. "You forget that I know Jessup quite well. I knew him before this curse was visited upon him."
"Bashire, beloved," I said, kissing his face. "I'm not only doing this for the council. I want to restore Jessup. I want to restore him to show my gratitude for his turning Tyron and starting all of this in motion."
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"Think of it," I said quickly. "If Jessup hadn't turned Tyron, then we wouldn't be lying in this bed together tonight. Jessup started the chain of events that led to my existence and the existence of my bloodline. Jessup is the reason that my blood could turn you."
"I love you, Eric," he said, holding me tighter.
"I love you, too, Bashire," I replied, and those were the last words we spoke to each other before we surrendered to sleep.
I spent the largest part of the next night talking to Matthias about Tyron. I wanted to know what he was like before the madness took him, what he was like before he was turned, and I wanted to know why it was Tryon that Jessup had decided to turn instead of one of his uncles. He turned out to be a very good source of information about my ancestor. He even told me that he'd tracked my family line, because he'd known that Jessup would have done so after the death of his fledgling. He said that as he watched the names of my family be written in The Book Of Vampire Records over the years, he'd hoped and prayed that one of us would show an irregularity in the blood, but he'd never dared hope for someone like me to come along. All of the years that Tallan had been making sure that my family had been bonded and turned, Matthias had watched silently. Now his watching and waiting had paid off.
"You remind me so much of Tyron," he said. "Your anger especially reminds me of Tyron. He too had to work hard to control his impulses when he was angry. Many times, he lost that battle and innocent vampires lost their lives."
"What about his crusade to rid the world of Forsaken?" I asked. For it was that move that had started the Vampire/Forsaken war, and I wanted to know what the motivation behind it was.
"The madness had claimed him by then," replied Matthias. "It's hard to say why he did any of the things he did after it got a good hold on him."
"So it was the madness that started the war?" I prodded.
"Exactly," sighed Matthias. "Tyron was the most powerful vampire the world had ever known. Even the Fathers Of The Blood couldn't match him in power. He was a prophet, and many vampires around the globe had heard of him by the time the madness set in, and they followed him in his crazed crusade.
"Jessup begged him to come to his senses," he continued. "For a while, Tyron would listen. He always did anything Jessup asked him to do. Tyron loved Jessup almost as much as I do. Of course, he hated Jessup for turning him at first. It took five years for him to even look at Jessup after that. I still can't believe he didn't burn Jessup for it, but he let him live. He only came around us when he wanted to speak to his father or one of his uncles."
"I thought he killed them all the night they became drones," I said. That was what I had been told, and my foretelling dream hadn't lasted long enough for me to disprove it, so I'd believed it.
"Oh, no," said Matthias, shaking his head. "He didn't kill them until days before he went off to hunt other Forsaken. It was the madness, like I said. Tyron loved his family very much. He mourned for months after he killed them. He was in and out of it those days. When the maddening fog would lift from him, he would be insane with grief."
"It must have been awful," I said, thinking about what I would have felt like in Tyron's position.
"It was," he replied.
We were both silent for a while after that. I didn't look into his mind. I was too busy thinking about how mad Tyron had to have been to kill his family. I wondered what I would be like if the virus inside me hadn't fused with the virus inside of Bashire, and I shivered. How close had I come to siring an insane fledgling? How different life would have been for me if things hadn't turned out the way they had.
"There are many prophecies in the book about you," said Matthias, startling me out of my morbid thoughts.
"Tyron's few true prophecies were about me," I said.
"They aren't all written by Tyron Par," he said. "Father Doran could foretell as could Father Rafael. They both wrote about The One."
"I should like to read from that book," I said.
"You will," he replied. "Doran has a copy, and so does Tallan. I'm sure that Stephan will bring his copy when the council arrives."
"They won't be staying in House Doran," I told him. "The only ones who will actually reside here are already here. The others will go to hotels."
"Of course," he said, nodding his head. "With drones and assistants, there simply isn't room here at House Doran. Besides, Stephan won't sleep in a house with Forsaken."
"Yet, he sits on the council with five of them," I pointed out.
"Four, now," he countered.
"Right," I sighed. It always came back to Bashire.
"I'm sure Brock has already decided on another to take the empty seat on the Forsaken side of the council," said Matthias. "He'll be named High Seat, and I imagine that Rafael will move to Second In Command."
"You would be right," I replied.
"Ah, so you have foreseen the new council member, then?" he asked.
"No," I admitted. "I just know that Brock will be High Seat and Rafael will be Second."
"How much of this meeting have you actually foreseen?" he asked, looking at me pointedly.
"Absolutely none of it," I replied. "We're in unfamiliar territory here for me."
"How strange it must be to possess the gift of Foretelling," he said. "Is it hard to control?"
"I'd never thought about it like that," I admitted. "The visions usually just come over me."
"Like last night?" he asked, reminding me of the long vision I'd had of the assassination of Tyron.
"Very much like that," I affirmed. "The dreams are easier, because they're even more vivid. I have control over what I'm seeing somewhat."
"So you can shape the future?" he asked.
"Not really," I replied. "I can just look around more in a dream than in a waking vision. That way I can get more information about what I'm seeing."
"Interesting," he mumbled.
"So," I said ready for a different topic. "Tell me more about Jessup."
I'd been in to see Jessup when I first woke up that evening. I wasn't prepared for what I saw, though. It is impossible for a vampire to age. We gain a sort of ageless look over time, and I had already gained it from my strange blood. Jessup looked as if he'd aged at least to his late sixties. His skin sagged on his bones, and his long dark hair that had been so lustrous in my visions was lifeless and dull. His eyes were almost completely lifeless. It was like looking into the abyss when I looked into his eyes.
"What would you like to know about him?" he asked. "For the last seven hundred and fifty years, he's been in a catatonic shell. I hold defenseless humans so that he can feed, and he lies in a bed, staring at the wall all night long. I bathe him and dress him, but he hasn't spoken a word in all of this time."
"Tell me about the way he was before the mind trap," I said quickly before he could go on any further about the way he was now.
"Oh, Jessup was a wonderful vampire," he said. "He feared nothing, and he was always going off on one adventure or another. Of course, Tyron and I followed him everywhere."
He told me that he and Jessup had been like two troublesome teenagers while they lived in House Kull-Duku. Alexander was usually hard pressed to deal with them as they got into any sort of trouble they could find. I could almost see them running amok in the night, terrorizing towns as they went. It was nice to see the tired look in Matthias's eyes be replaced with happiness as he remembered the way they'd been. His eyes were always so tired, and I knew that it was because of Jessup.
"I'm going to lift the mind trap from Jessup," I said when he finished telling me a tale about Jessup trying to convince Alexander to drink from Tyron.
"You are?" he asked, and that happy look in his eyes was almost enough to make me go into the other room and do it then and there.
"Yes," I assured him, "but not until the council gets here. I want them to have one last look at what Sloan did to Jessup."
"Oh, thank you, Eric," he enthused.
"Matthias," I said quickly. "You have to understand that Jessup may never be the vampire that he was. He's been under the mind trap for so long."
"Oh, but he will be!" he ignored my warning. "You'll see. Jessup will be restored. It may not happen instantaneously, but over time, he'll come back to the vampire that he once was. Oh, Eric, I don't know how to thank you!"
"Matthias, please understand that removing the mind trap won't necessarily mean that," I tried to reason with him.
"Eric, you're worried about nothing," he said, smiling so hard that his fangs showed. "You'll see. Jessup will be his old self before the council leaves House Doran."
He got up and went to Jessup, and I was left to worry about what Matthias would do if his prediction wasn't realized. I had foreseen nothing about Jessup as far as what he would be like after the removal of the mind trap. I hadn't even known about the mind trap until I'd had the vision about Sloan killing Tyron. For the first time, I wished that I knew a way to induce my visions.
The drones were busily preparing the house for the arrival of the council. Sedrick and Tory, one of Tallan's drones, were going over the menu for the night, and I wondered about that. Forsaken only ate the raw meat of a living animal, and vampires only drank blood. The night that I'd been turned, I had seen Doran, Daren and Franklin eat human food, but not much of it. The way that Sedrick and Tory were carrying on, it sounded like they were planning a feast.
The drones would all eat human food, because they were still essentially human. I had no idea how many drones would be in the house, so I didn't really know that a feast wasn't adequate. Of course, Derrick and Andelynne would be in attendance as well, and I knew that they would have to eat. I didn't know what the "cattle" in the pen were fed, but I doubted that they would be permitted to partake in the meal. It was then that I decided to have a look at the pen for the first time.
When I got to the third floor, I was confronted with a locked iron door. A small circular window in the door allowed Jase to look out and see who was on the other side. He was surprised to see me standing there, but he opened the door. Once I finally got a good look at Jase, I understood that he was the perfect man for the job of guarding the "cattle."
He was at least six feet tall with shoulder length medium brown hair. His eyes were the softest shade of brown that I'd ever seen, and they sparkled in the overhead lights. His body was more muscular than mine, and mine was enhanced by the strange new blood in my veins. He looked like a body builder, and when he shook my hand, his grip was firm enough for me to appreciate it.
"Eric," he said as he smiled at me. "It's a surprise to see you up here. If you're hungry, I can bring someone down to you."
"No, no, Jase," I said. "I just wanted to see the pen. I'll be starting my own house soon, and I'll likely have to build one of my own."
"Well, why don't I show you around?" he asked, leading me through a long hallway.
The third floor was as long as the entire house. The hall extended from the iron door I'd come through all the way to the outer wall. There was a heavily barred window on the outer wall. There looked to be fifty rooms on both sides of the hall, and Jase explained to me that two people were housed in each room. The rooms had two cots, one closet and a shared bathroom with the next room. There was a small kitchen in which Jase prepared meals for the men and women locked in the rooms.
He told me that their three meals a day consisted of a bowl of what looked like thick oatmeal. He called it slave meal, and he told me that it was packed with all of the nutrients the body needed. There wasn't much of a taste, he told me, but it was quite filling. They were given a powdered energy drink with each meal, and there were rubber cups in each bathroom for them to drink water throughout the day and night.
"It's like a prison," I remarked when we had made it back to the iron door.
"Well, most of these people belong in prison, Eric," he said. "Those that don't belong in prison deserve to be executed. If I were you, I wouldn't worry too much about how they live. A man is not usually here for more than three weeks before he goes downstairs."
"Their care is of no importance to me, Jase," I assured him. "They deserve what they get, so I won't shed any tears over them."
"I've been hearing a lot about you," he said. "Sedrick talks of nothing else when he comes up here. He says that you are quite a vampire."
"I'm sure he doesn't exaggerate," I replied evenly. "I am a different kind of vampire."
"So he tells me," he said. "I'll be joining the party when the council gets here, so I'm sure I'll see for myself that you are quite different."
"Who will be up here?" I asked.
"Oh, we'll take turns checking in on them," he said, looking back down the hall. "They can't get out of their rooms, though. The doors on each room are just as solid as the door you came through, and there are bars on the windows both horizontal and vertical."
"Sounds like it's all covered then," I said not knowing what to say to that.
When I left, he'd gotten me to promise to visit again, and I wondered why he rarely ever came downstairs if the "cattle" was so secure. I didn't have much time to think about it, though, because I literally ran into Bashire as I came back down the stairs. He smiled when he saw me, and his arms were instantly around me.
"I was sent to find you," he said seconds before kissing me.
"Who is looking for me?" I asked.
"Tallan wanted to discuss some things with you," he said. "And Franklin was asking about you, too."
What Tallan wanted to discuss with me was what I'd said to put Matthias in such a good mood. He said that Matthias was telling anyone who would listen that I was going to save Jessup. I explained that I had agreed to lift the mind trap from Jessup's mind, but I had warned Matthias that it was unlikely that Jessup would be like his old self ever again. He seemed to understand when I explained that Matthias refused to believe that part of the future.
"Have you foreseen anything?" asked Tallan.
"I didn't even know about the mind trap until I saw the vision of Sloan killing Tyron," I said. "I don't even know when he instilled the trap in Jessup."
"Is there a way for you to restore Jessup?" he asked.
"Not that I can see," I replied. "There's nothing that I could do to undo over a century's damage."
"What about your blood?" he asked.
"Tallan, I don't know what effect my blood would have on Jessup," I replied. "I still don't know what effect it's had on Daren."
"Daren is no different than he was before he drank your blood, Eric," he said. "We all know when your blood changed. It was when you drank from Bashire."
I had to admit that he was right. I hadn't been this way when I awoke from my death sleep. Sure, I'd had foretelling dreams and all of the other gifts already, but my blood hadn't changed until I'd drank from Bashire. The only reason he'd been turned is because the change in my blood happened so quickly that it was done before he drank from me.
"Still," I said after thinking it over. "I don't know what my blood will do to Jessup. It may change nothing."
"It may change everything," he replied.
I discussed it with Bashire when we went to bed that morning. He said that he could see the possibilities, as could Tallan, but he understood my reluctance to try it. We talked about the unknown things that could go wrong if I allowed Jessup to drink from me, and I was nowhere closer to a decision about it when we finally went to sleep.
Luckily, Matthias and Tallan were busy with Doran the following night. Bashire spent the majority of the night talking with Brock about the candidate for the lesser seat on the Forsaken council. It was already decided that Brock would replace Bashire as High Seat, and Brock had already said that he was appointing Rafael to Second. I left them to their discussion and accompanied Franklin to our parents' house.
My mother and father were very happy to see both me and Franklin, but they noticed my eyes as soon as I walked into the house. Of course they'd already heard about everything that had been going on in the main house. Sedrick and my father talked daily. My mother was still worried that the council would take action against me for turning Bashire, but my father tried very hard to convince her that nothing would happen to me.
Daniel was asleep when we got there, so Franklin and I were allowed to speak freely about what we thought of the events that had gone on since my turning. Franklin surprised me by telling my parents how proud he was of me. I'd had very little chance to talk with Franklin with everything going on, so I'd had no idea that he was so happy for me. He gushed to our parents about my receiving emancipation so early, and he told them all about the new bloodline. This was all old news to my parents, but I just couldn't get over how proud Franklin was.
"I admit that I was terrified when he first used his gift of combustion," he told them, "but once I understood that he is The One, I was just in awe of him for a few nights."
"It's taking some getting used to around here, too," replied my father. "Your mother just can't believe that the council won't order you dead, Eric."
"Mother," I said, taking her hand in both of mine. "I'm a Father Of The Blood and a prophet. Nothing will happen to me at the hands of the council."
"But even so," she said, worry etched on her face, "there are rogues to think about. I've heard about the slayer and her watcher staying in the main house. You can't tell me that they aren't there to protect you."
"Actually, they aren't," I told her. "They are there, because there are four members of the council in the house. The rogues are so thick in the city, because they'd like nothing more than to kill a council member."
"As if that's of any comfort," she said, glaring at me.
"He's going to lift a mind trap from Jessup that Sloan induced over seven hundred years ago," enthused Franklin, trying to change the subject. He couldn't have picked a worse one where I was concerned.
"Sloan?" asked my mother. "The Vampire High Seat?"
"He's a prisoner on the third floor of the main house," spilled Franklin. "Eric put him under the same kind of mind trap that he used on Jessup."
"Eric, you'll be beheaded for sure!" cried my mother loudly.
"Calm down," said my father, placing a hand on her thigh. "You'll wake Daniel."
"I won't be beheaded, Mother," I said quickly. "Sloan has been uncovered as a treacherous coward."
"What are you talking about?" she demanded.
"How do you think he was able to inflict a mind trap to begin with?" I asked. "No vampire had ever possessed the gift of mind control since Tyron Par until me. No vampire."
"Then how did Sloan..."
"Because he drank the blood of Tyron Par the night he assassinated him," I rushed, cutting my father off.
We talked to them about the entire ordeal for most of the night. My mother went to bed before midnight, but Franklin and I sat talking with our father for hours. He wanted to know everything that had happened since Sloan arrived. He made me tell him twice to make sure I didn't leave anything out. It was as if I were twelve years old all over again. Being turned hadn't changed some things.
He told me to be careful around the council, and be careful with Sloan. From what he'd known of Sloan, he hadn't liked him, and he'd trusted him even less. Now that his middle son was so closely involved in de-seating Sloan, he liked him even less. I promised that I would, in fact, be quite careful where Sloan was concerned, but I assured him that there was nothing to worry about with the council. He was still admonishing me to be careful when we left him just before dawn.
"I haven't seen you practically since the sun set," said Bashire as we stripped for bed that morning.
"I was with Franklin at my parents' house," I said. "My father decided it was long since time for one of his night long lectures about the council."
"So you've known about the council for a long time, then?" he asked as we slid under the satin sheet on the bed. He reached for me instantly, and I slid into his warm and protective embrace.
"Of course not," I told him as I wrapped my arms around him. "I didn't even know there were vampires in the world until the night I was turned."
He kissed me then, and all talk of vampires, Forsaken and the council was over. I felt my body melt into him as his hands roamed down my back. His kiss became more insistent as he ground his body against mine, his erection rubbing against my naked skin. I returned the fervor of his kiss and wrapped my hand around his throbbing shaft.
"I've wanted you all damned night," he breathed after pulling his lips from mine.
"You should really tell me when you're feeling that way," I said as I squeezed his dick.
"Ah," he moaned before gripping my own throbbing erection in his hand. "I'll keep that in mind next time."
He slid down my body and replaced his hand with his mouth, sending hot bolts of pleasure from my head to my toes as his tongue teased the underside of my head and shaft. I bucked my hips, trying to drive more of my dick into his mouth, and he quickly obliged me by taking me all the way into his throat and massaging my aching member with his throat muscles as he swallowed around me. His expert technique nearly brought me to the fasted orgasm of my life, but he backed off just in time.
I took the opportunity to pull him back up my body and literally dive my tongue into his mouth as soon as his head was level with my own. He began to grind his pelvis against me, and I pushed him over onto his back as I tumbled with him, tangling the sheet around us in the process. After righting that frustrating mess, I slid down his body, catching his hard dick on my descent. I flicked the head with my tongue a few times, gaining moans of pleasure for my efforts.
When I took the head into my mouth, Bashire let out a strangled groan and tried to push more into my mouth. I held my ground and teased the head of his dick with my tongue as I kept it trapped between my lips. His hands shot to the sides of my head as his dick lurched and filled my mouth with cum. I locked on and sucked the cum from his dick until the fount was dry.
"You were in need," I said when I let his spent dick fall from my lips.
"It didn't last as long as I'd have liked," he complained.
"Oh come on," I said, sliding back up his body. "The real fun is getting you ready for another round."
I slid back down his body and literally pried his legs apart and over my shoulders as I pushed my face down and over his balls, giving them a quick tongue lashing along the way. As soon as my tongue touched his hole, he drew in a breath between clenched teeth. I teased his hole, running my tongue around and around it before grazing its surface lightly and making him whimper.
His pucker blossomed for me as a flower for the morning sun, and I wasted no time. I slid my tongue inside his ass as far as I could get. He rocked his hips, fucking himself with my tongue as I inhaled his scent. Taking back the reins, I removed my tongue from his ass, sucked on my index finger to wet it with saliva and slowly inserted it into his loosened ass.
"Oh God, Eric," he groaned as I put my face back down to his ass and licked around his finger filled pucker.
I slid my finger in further, searching for that blessed button in his ass that would make his head spin when I found it. I knew as soon as I touched it, because his dick was instantly hard again, and he groaned as he arched his back, shoving more of my finger into his ass. I slowly began to fuck my finger in and out of his ass as he rocked and tried to ride my hand.
He was panting heavily by the time my middle finger joined my index finger in the assault on his ass. I rubbed those fingers over his prostate each time I sank them into his silky tunnel. He let out a guttural groan when I inserted a third finger, and he was literally trying to get more of the three fingers inside of him. When he opened his tightly shut eyes, they were absolutely radiating. They soaked up the light of the purple sky and reflected it perfectly.
"You like that, huh?" I whispered as I slid my fingers back inside his ass, bumping his prostate.
"Fuck me, Eric," he moaned. "I want you inside me. Now."
I pulled my fingers out of his ass and slid back up his body, hooking his legs over my shoulders on my ascent. He literally grabbed the sides of my head and pulled my face to his. The kiss was probably the most intense kiss we'd shared yet, and it rocked me a little before it was over. Then I felt his hand on my dick as he lined it up with his hole.
I applied pressure, but he somehow shoved his ass down, forcing all of my dick inside of him. We both moaned when my balls slapped his ass cheeks. I began to fuck him in slow long strokes, making sure the head of my dick dragged over his prostate each time. He grunted, and his eyes rolled. I was panting and sucking air through my mouth with ever stroke of my dick in his ass.
His ass was like a silky vice, gripping my dick and milking it with every thrust. He started to move his head from side to side and moan continually. It was pure Heaven for me being inside of him that way, and I couldn't get enough. I upped the tempo of my thrusts into his ass as he rocked his hips back and forth.
"God, yes," he moaned as his dick suddenly started to pulse and propel his cum over his chest and onto his chin and lips.
With his orgasm, his ass clamped down on my dick so hard that the effect was almost overwhelming. It milked the cum right out of my dick, and I planted my seed inside his silky ass, collapsing on him when I was spent. I had the presence of mind left to lap up the spicy cum from his lips and chin, but I missed what had dribbled down onto his hairy chest.
"That was incredible," I sighed as we rolled onto our sides and my dick slid out of his ass.
"I love you," he said, kissing the top of my head.
"I love you, too," I replied, and then the sleep overtook me.
The sun was just starting to set when we woke the following evening. We wasted no time getting up and bathing. The council would be arriving shortly after sundown, and we had to be ready for them. We bathed each other, and I took special care to cleanse the dried cum from his chest hair. We had a laugh over that, and though we both wanted to have another round at each other, it was both impossible and irresponsible, because we both knew that we'd never be able to ejaculate again without feeding first, and there simply wasn't time for a long love making session. Instead, we got out of the tub and dried off. We had just finished dressing for the night when Sedrick came in with two delicious young men. In my hunger, I wasted no time. I did, however, let Sedrick dispose of the bodies, opting not to feel the unnerved pull of Bashire's emotions if I burned them.
Derrick and Andelynne were having coffee with Brock when we got downstairs. They each smiled and greeted us warmly, and I knew in that moment exactly why Derrick and Brock would be my first two drones. They were both sexy, smart and dangerous men in their own rites. Derrick, as a Watcher, had combat training that no vampire was privy to. Brock was Forsaken. What's left to say about that?
"Good evening, early risers," he said as Bashire and I took our usual seats in the room. "I trust you slept well."
"Like two star crossed lovers who'd been spent of sexual tension after a long night of missing each other," said Bashire with a straight face.
"Enough of that," I said quickly. "Brock, have any of the other Forsaken council members arrived yet?"
"They're all sufficiently lodged at the Regent," he replied. "They'll be here after I call and alert them that the vampires have arrived."
"How soon are we expecting the vampires?" asked Andelynne. "None of this was really discussed last night."
"They should be here shortly after sunset," Brock replied. "The drones will go to their chosen hotel to redeem room reservations, and then we'll get things started."
"What's on the agenda first?" asked Bashire, and I knew he hated being kept out of the loop on council matters.
"First is the trial of Sloan," replied Brock. "All of the council members are outraged by what he's done, and Matthias is planning to call for his execution."
"That won't happen," sighed Bashire. "He's an Elder, and therefore he's protected."
"Those were my thoughts as well," agreed Brock.
"What of Bashire and I?" I asked. "What should we expect from the council?"
"Nothing that you should worry about," replied Brock. "They already know of Bashire's turning, and Matthias and I have explained your blood to them. Even Stephan is eager to see you."
"So they aren't going to question Eric about turning me?" asked Bashire.
"There may be an informal inquiry, but that would be more of a one on one with the various vampires," he said.
"It helps that you have the next Vampire High Seat already among you," said Tallan as he and Doran walked into the room. I hadn't realized that the sun was already down until that moment.
"Have you made a decision, Doran?" asked Brock when the two of them were seated on the settee.
"I'll accept the appointment if it is seconded," he replied.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Tallan and I have asked that after we are named High Seat of our branches of the council, Doran fill the vacant seat on the council," said Brock.
"It means that my life will now be far more complicated than before," said Doran. "I'll be required to meet with the council periodically in Washington."
"Washington?" I asked.
"The council is home based in D.C.," said Bashire. "None of the members actually live there, but important meetings are held there."
"Why is this one being held in House Doran?" I asked.
"Usually, only meetings where new laws are written are held in Washington these days," said Brock. "Any meeting that requires the Keeper Of The Watchers to be present."
And then they arrived. Sedrick came in to announce that, Vampires, Stephan and Kennedy had arrived. Stephan was just like I'd seen him in my vision of the council meetings. His hair was blond and plated down his back, and his blue eyes were radiant. He looked to have been not a day past his thirteenth birthday before he was turned, but I knew that he had been sixteen years old.
Kennedy was Stephan's first fledgling. His hair was the color of the sun, and his eyes were the color of grass. He had strong facial features and a muscular body. Of all the council members, Kennedy was the youngest. This was a fact that worked both for him and against him. Perhaps now, with Sloan off the council, they would listen to his insights a bit more.
"So, it's true," said Stephan in a child's voice when he saw Bashire. "You've been turned."
"A feat thought impossible," added Kennedy.
"I have," affirmed Bashire. "My sire is the new Father Of The Blood."
"Matthias mentioned that Eric believes that he is a Father," said Stephan.
"Are you ready to prove it?" asked Kennedy.
"I am," I replied.
"First things first," said Tallan, standing. "We have Sloan to discuss."
"We'll wait for the Forsaken for that," replied Kennedy.
"The wait is over," said Brock as he came back into the room. "May I present, Loran, Ari, Rafael and Damon of the Forsaken."
"Damon is the choice of all of you to fill the empty seat?" asked Stephan.
"He is," replied Brock. "I should announce that I have been named Forsaken High Seat, and Rafael is now Second In Command."
"We'll record that in the book after the dinner," said Kennedy. "Where is Matthias?"
"He is assisting Jessup at the moment," replied Tallan. "He'll be along shortly."
"I understand that Matthias has refused High Seat," said Stephan.
"He has," said Tallan. "He's nominated me for High Seat."
"That would leave me in line for Second In Command," said Stephan.
"Exactly," said Kennedy.
"Who would fill the vacant seat?" asked Stephan.
"My fledgling, Doran of House Doran," replied Tallan.
"These changes, too, will be added to the book after the dinner," remarked Kennedy. "Welcome to the council, Doran and Damon."
"My first act as High Seat is to pardon Eric and Bashire," said Tallan.
"Noted," replied Stephan. "Any objections? Where is Matthias?"
As if summoned by Stephan, Matthias chose that moment to walk into the great room. He looked flushed from his feeding, and he was clearly excited. He knew that now that the entire council was here, I would be lifting the mind trap from Jessup. I just hoped he was prepared to deal with the disappointment he would suffer if things didn't work out the way he planned.