Into the Vampire's Lair Ch. 12byArtForm©
NB: Firsly, thanks goes to my editor wildheartedangel; efficient and meticulous as always. I really appreciate it. Next, to my readers who've given me encouragement and support, you guys rock!
So, enjoy this chapter and let me know what you think!
Meanwhile, Josephine released her hold on Erika --just enough to let the woman breathe. Erika had already fainted but she could still hear a soft heartbeat. That'll be enough for now. She moved quickly, settling Erika on the floor beside Fiona before walking towards Alaron.
"Stay here and watch over her. It'll be okay, I promise," she said. "He's going to want her when he pulls through." Fiona nodded mutely.
Josephine approached Alaron as cautiously as she could, knowing that he was going to aim straight for her head the moment he came to. However, it was the only way to awaken healers --and she'd know for she had some in her family. They needed to be wounded to the point that their body would exhaust or even kill itself trying to repair the damage.
Josephine felt her heart ache at the sight of his suffering but she knew this was just momentary. She could see that his body was turning blue; his curled up position turning slack until he was lying limp against the cold hard floor. He wasn't breathing... but his eyes were wide open and staring at her --intense orbs of brown with a thin golden line of fire right in the middle where his pupil should be. Some would describe it like that of the tiger-eye stone and Josephine agreed.
Just like the stone, those eyes symbolized the ability of the Vampire to bridge between the body that focuses on earth and the mind that deals with spirituality. They'd become more sensitive to listening and understanding not just words but the vibrations at the cellular level and manipulate them accordingly.
However, the Vampire staring at her wasn't a healer... yet. He had unleashed his maximum power but his real ability still needs awakening. Moving closer, she crouched down and gently pushed back the hair covering his face, feeling the coldness beneath her fingers; confirming that algor mortis had already taken place. This meant that his body had shut down right after healing and was 'dead'.
At least she knew he wasn't going to aim to strike her head... yet. When she pulled down the flap on his shirt that had gotten torn, she noticed that there was a thin scar over the gash she had inflicted earlier. Good.
Tilting his head back, she held his chin down to force open his mouth before slicing the vein on her own wrist and letting her blood flow down his throat. She wasn't surprised when he flicked an angry look at her even as his teeth automatically sank into her skin. Josephine didn't wince as she felt her own blood being taken in by the youngling but kept a close watch on his pallor.
"Don't be so angry at me darling. I'd imagine your father might be more merciless. Besides, it is not impossible for a youngling Vampire to acquire their abilities at a young age," she soothed him. "Only the blood from a Pureblood Ancient can awaken your powers this prematurely."
Which was true, she thought. She'd awaken at twenty-four, simply because Aramis enjoyed biting her and letting her bite him back each time they made love. When a Pureblood invested emotions into a certain youngling, that's when they 'stroke' the latter's latent abilities to the fore. From there, it just took a bit of push to awaken their potential. Josephine began thinking about Fiona and had a feeling that either Aramis or Draven must have been feeding her their blood because she would not have otherwise expressed her abilities as such an early age.
A sudden movement jerked her out from her thoughts but that split second dazing made her too slow to react to the swift hold of Alaron's hands on her throat.
He kept his grip on her neck even as he drained out her blood but Josephine did not do or say anything. Instead she simply smiled at him. He was still glaring at her when a soft feminine voice called out to him.
He blinked and turned his gaze towards the direction of the voice. Erika had regained her consciousness and was looking at him with tearful eyes. Alaron was still weak but he could understand the emotions behind those eyes --it was that of a woman who thought the man she loved had died.
The realization that she loved him snapped Alaron out of his rage for he immediately released his hold on Josephine's neck and pushed her wrist away from his mouth. Although his body was still weak, he managed to half crawl and half drag himself over towards Erika; cradling her close to him and whispering, "I'm here, it's alright..." over and over again.
Meanwhile, Josephine was staggering backwards to lean against a wall. Alaron had taken a bit too much blood from her but she hadn't stopped him even after he had gained back heat and colour in his cheeks. By now, his body would use her blood to complete his healing. Josephine suspected that when he was deeply injured, Alaron used to drain blood from those who got into fights with him.
"Grandmother," said Fiona, getting up and moving towards the weakened Vampire. "Should... should I do something? I've... never really seen anything like this before but I trusted you... why didn't you just tell us?"
Josephine smiled. "If I told him, he'd get overexcited and his body wouldn't react naturally on its own fight or flight mechanism. It's the instinct to survive that pushes our race into acquiring these abilities you know."
"Will he be okay?" she asked worriedly. "And Erika?"
"Bring her to me."
"What? No! I'm too afraid you'll kill her."
Josephine managed a small laugh before flicking her gaze away. "Alaron my dear, bring the girl here."
When Alaron turned, his eyes were no longer the fiery hue but his natural brown. "No!"
Alaron was gritting his teeth for he couldn't control himself now that her blood was inside his system. He had to respond to her words. Damn that woman.
"Erika dear, I'm sorry you had to watch that... and I am so sorry for being so rough on you..."
"Rough? You fucking wanted to kill her!" snapped Alaron angrily.
"Language," she reprimanded without glancing at him. Still looking at Erika she continued, "Do you love him?"
Erika nodded. Josephine laughed. "Well, are you strong enough to handle his temper, his foul mouth and his occasional need to challenge authority?"
Erika managed an amused smile. "You bet."
"Would you like me to turn you?"
Alaron and Fiona shrieked at the same time then turned to each other in alarm.
"Oh, that's very nice of you," said Josephine, looking up at Alaron with a gentle smile. "So sweetie, would you like to join us and live the rest of your life with my son here?"
Erika bit her lips and looked from Alaron to Fiona to Josephine and nodded her head. "Punching a Vampire with human force isn't fun," she joked.
"Oh Erika..." said Fiona, hugging her friend close. "I guess this is like welcome to the family huh."
"Yeah," she replied with a laugh. "Will it hurt?" she asked Fiona.
"Yes. Like hell."
"Which is why I should do it and not you Fiona," said Josephine slowly, watching Fiona turn to look at her in surprise.
"How did you..."
"Of course I know. As soon as I found out that Alaron was in love with a human, I knew that he only had two choices --one is to turn to his father and the other is to turn to you. Draven has his own issues to settle so that leaves him out. Besides, I'd say you have more emotional connection to this woman so you'd offer to turn her yourself... eventually."
"Just wait one damn minute here," said Alaron, clearly having regained more strength now. "Why must it be you? Why are you sacrificing your only chance at turning a human on... her?"
Josephine tilted her head to lean it against the wall. The loss of blood was starting to make her dizzy but she knew she needed to allay their fears first.
"Because I love your father too darn much that even if he died, I don't think I'd have wanted another mate. Besides, Fiona's already a Caesar. If she does the Siring, then Erika would be an Unnatural Caesar which is not much different than a Common level Vampire. She will need blood on a daily basis and you know how much our race frowns on that."
"And the Pureblood transformation is much more... smooth," added Fiona quietly.
"Yes," Josephine nodded. "It will be painful but the change will be much easier and faster if the Sire is a Pureblood."
Alaron wanted to protest some more but Erika came closer to Josephine and said, "I'm ready."
Meanwhile, Council was in session...
"Young Lord, how can we be certain that this... alliance to the Wolves is beneficial to our Council?"
Draven turned his attention across the table to one of the permanent Elders on the Board --Aiden. He was an old Vampire; not as old as Leon or Aramis but old enough to be considered a permanent position. His acceptance of Draven on the Board would be crucial to future cooperation.
"As you know, my niece is already married to the Alpha of the MacFarlane pack. Outside of his pack, he is of royal birth and his descendants stretch nine generations. My position as a member of that pack assures mutual loyalty as well as mutual access to the resources from those nine generations. Surely the Council cannot ignore such a politically beneficial alliance?"
The table was quiet but Draven could see that Aiden was not satisfied.
"But Young Lord, you mentioned mutual loyalty and access... we certainly do not come to the Wolves' aid should they need us. We are not their servants! We are superior to them!"
Draven tried not to grit his teeth or cross over to choke the Elder. How dare he speak of his Alpha like that?
"First and foremost, it is only I, in my position as a pack member who is assured of mutual loyalty and access --not the Council."
"That's a cause for mutiny!" this was voiced by a gruff sounding female Vampire. She was the only female on the Board and her name was Benedicta. Draven noted her concern.
"The benefit of my association would have remained so even if I am not part of this Board. And for what cause do I need mutiny for? Our positions here are equal; none more than the other."
Benedicta snorted. Draven understood why. Purebloods were always given overriding powers on the Board, he couldn't deny that.
"Let me put it this way. For as long as I am on this Board, I will have access and loyalty of the largest wolf packs in Europe and should I be in danger or in need of serious help, the Weres will come to my aid, as will I come to theirs should they need it. This aid is extended to the Council only through my association --otherwise you are on your own."
"Young Lord... you make it sound like there is an impending war," she said. "And while we are at that, how do we ensure your loyalty is to us first?"
"Conflict of interest," said Aiden.
"His Grace is not a man who digs secrets. My position here is first as a Pureblood representative and also a pack member. Whatever decisions are made to implicate either of these two interests, I will act accordingly. If we ever plan to go to war with the wolves for whatever reason, I state clearly now that I will give them prior warning. Similarly, if the Nobles wish for a civil war with the Purebloods, the same prior warning is given."
"Surely you are aware that even if you're not on this Board, your influence over a certain... unit in our Council means that you will implicate our kind in this... mutual aid for the Wolves?"
Draven kept silent for a while. Since when had the Council been this supremacist? Have they lost the concept of helping others?
"Young Lord, if I may speak freely," said Leon. Draven nodded. "It is undeniable that you have great influence in the Damage Reversal Unit... for you pioneered much of the techniques that were used in the recent years and you've trained almost every one of the new Enforcers there. However, I would like to point out that mental combat abilities are rather useless on the battlefield; working alongside wolves that we cannot communicate with... would you risk these Enforcers' lives should you need to enlist their help?"
"Loyalty is not about following a leader blindly. All Enforcers enter a combat situation knowing that they might not survive, especially when pitted against sheer number of Werewolves. And yes, while they cannot communicate mentally with the Weres, I can. And my Enforcers can communicate with me and with each other. In the Were's terms, we are our own pack."
His revelation stunned everyone; including Aramis who was seated at the back of the room. The idea that the DRU existed like a 'pack' whose communication line was impenetrable by non-mind reading Vampires was shocking.
"So you will sacrifice a whole unit should those wolves need your help?" asked Aiden.
"I do not expect blind obedience or stupidity. Only those who wish to help will be enlisted and they are with me not as Council Enforcers but as my friends. That, apparently is a concept this Board has problems understanding."
Another Elder spoke up; this time, one of the male elected board members. "Young Lord, please forgive us for our ignorance but I accept your case. In fact I see this alliance with the Werewolves beneficial for us all. For centuries after the Count Chervenkov massacre, our communities have lived apart, hoarded knowledge and shared nothing with each other."
"Of course! This is self-preservation!" exclaimed Benedicta.
"You mean for them right?" said Draven. "They were the ones who had an entire compound wiped out. We are the villains here not them. Don't you dare make it sound like those wolves deserved to die."
"No, my Lord..." she muttered.
"As I was saying," continued the male Vampire. "Intelligence has it that there is a high percentage of medical graduates from the MacFarlane packs. Apparently, they are top notched graduates from some of the best universities in Europe. This might be a good way for us to learn from them." He paused and smiled shyly at Draven. "Since you left our labs, we have been lacking good scientists... I fear that at times, we rely too much on natural abilities rather than nurtured ones."
Draven smiled. Yes, Henry was the Elder who used to head the Engineering arm of the Council.
"So perhaps we should vote," said Draven, looking around. "Those in favour of me staying on board, raise your hand."
Three out of five hands were raised. Draven noticed that there was a split between the two permanent Elders; Leon was in favour but Aiden was displeased. As for the elected members, Draven had not won Benedicta's vote but the other two, Henry and Anthony were on his side.
"Well then, my position here is settled. I shall assume office as of now," announced Draven.
"Wait," said Aiden. "You are traitorous to our kind young Lord. With your association with a wolf, we have lost a very good specimen of Pureblood."
"No, we have not," interjected Aramis. "Don't you dare accuse my son of anything of that kind."
Everyone turned to look at Aramis.
"I will have more children," he said simply. "One every century. That should be a good replacement rate."
"Lord Culzean! Congratulations!" Leon exclaimed. "This is good news for us."
"What about you, young Lord? Would you be able to produce kin?" asked Aiden to Draven. He let a moment of silence to pass before continuing, "We do not know the nature of this mixed breeds and should they be a threat, we have to terminate them."
"I agree," said the female Vampire. "For the continuation of our species, we cannot have a class below the common level. What if these abominations need to feed every hour? That is intolerable!"
Murmurs spread like wildfire across the room. Draven stiffened as he picked up their fearful thoughts. Good god... they want to kill his precious baby? Not that he had one yet... but if he had, he wouldn't let anyone touch the baby. And Fiona! Oh god...
"But what if they exhibit the best of both worlds?" asked Anthony, who had been quiet so far. Draven knew that Anthony was more of a thinker and headed the Administrative arm of the Council. He was the richest amongst them all, having a hand in all their financial banks and infrastructure. Draven was pleased to have a useful ally.
"Then they might start the creation of an entirely new race! This would cause Werewolves and Vampires to mate without restraint! How is that even possible?"
Draven didn't want to answer Benedicta. This was a secret for him and his pack only.
"We should keep an open mind," said Anthony stiffly but did not elaborate. Draven was thankful for that. He knew this had to be reported to Eian straight away. This was of concern to his child!
"Let's cross the bridge when we get there," said Leon forcefully. "Speculation is useless."
Everyone agreed. Leon nodded and turned to Draven with a smile.
"Very well then, as the most Ancient Elder on this Board, I extend a welcome to you, young Lord Draven Culzean. I hope your remaining 90 years of service will be fruitful."
"That was intense," said Aramis awhile later to Draven. "But you held your ground well. I'm proud of you."
Draven looked at his father quickly then lowered his gaze. "Thank you Father..."
"I'm not angry at you."
Draven kept quiet. Either Aramis was pretending not to be angry or his mother must have really worked some magic on him. Didn't he just say he was going to have more children?
"Father... what's this about you having children?"
Aramis turned away from his son but Draven caught the slight blush on his father's cheek.
"Well, I don't know if she wants me but I'll ask her."
"May I ask who it is?"
"Well, your mother of course."
Draven didn't know what to say. Didn't they hate each other's guts?
"She's a really nice woman Father... Somehow I think you've misunderstood her all these years," said Draven, trying to defend a woman he barely knew.
"Perhaps I have..."
"So you're going to ask her to marry you? Aren't you afraid she'll claw your eyes out or something?"
Aramis let out a loud rumble of laughter. "She probably will at first. Then I'd just have to bleed until she says yes."
"She's not going to yield... give me a minute," Draven responded, pausing to pick up his ringing phone.
"Draven! Please come quick! Oh god... we need blood... like a lot!" Fiona's voice sounded frantic.
"Slow down... why and where?"
"Bookshop... Josephine... Erika turned..." She was incoherent.
"What? Okay... bookshop right? How many bags Fiona?"
"A lot! Just come quick!"
Then the phone disconnected.
"What's wrong?" asked Aramis.
"Fiona said something about needing blood. I don't know why but she mentioned Erika and Josephine."
Aramis stiffened immediately. "Josephine as in your mother?"
"I reckon so."
"And this Erika?"
"Oh..." said Draven wondering how he'd try and explain his and Alaron's involvement with Erika. He'd obviously have to edit the part about them wrecking her previous bookstore.
"Fiona's working at this bookstore with a human by the name of Erika..." he said, hoping that would suffice.
"My granddaughter is working? This is ridiculous but never mind, tell me along the way. Now head down to the blood department and ask for some emergency O type. I'll get the car."
Draven was sure that his father had ordered their driver to break all speeding limits to get to the bookstore. If he didn't know any better, he'd say that his father was actually concerned for his mother but Draven doubted so. He probably did not want to lose his potential wife. After all, it would be easier to be with someone you already knew instead of going through the whole courting ritual again.