New Kingdom: European Court Ch. 12byMicKay©
Revised. Thanks to TaFace for her offer to review and correct! Thanks to Willie for catching a one huge problem w/ the story line.
"Gabriel, let me go!" Antony screamed while struggling against his brother's hold. "I have to find her."
"No," he said with a sob, "You promised to protect her."
"Damn it Antony," Edward said helping Gabriel restrain their brother. "Calm down man. Can't you feel her?"
"No," he barely groaned.
"Gabe? Is she ok? Why can't he feel her?"
"Because she's human and I have her blocked," Gabriel answered twisting Antony into a sitting position. "I had to cover her or she would be too irresistible for our new guests."
"She's alive?" Antony whispered. "I need to see her."
"Not yet," Gabriel answered. "It's possible that we're being followed. If we move to them, then we give away their location."
"Gabe," Tec said quietly. "I can't wait. I have to see Gloria. She's ...upset," he added looking quickly away from Antony.
"What's wrong?" Antony asked Gabriel. "Is Emma hurt?"
"She's just scared."
"I'm sorry Gabe," Tec said. "I'm going to them."
Gabriel sat back on his heels and watched Tec race towards the burning estate. Antony found his escape and moved into Tec's shadow. They moved quickly and quietly behind the trees lining the estate and out of Gabriel's vision.
"If they give away the location," Edward said, "then we need to be there. Better to be united with the weak than separated from our mates."
Without saying a word, Gabriel nodded, stood up and ran with Edward toward the trees and hedges that were concealing their mates and those vampires who had surrendered to the New Kingdom. Arriving within a second behind his brothers, he immediately searched for those under his protection then waited for Edward to join him.
They walked into the maze and Gabriel immediately found his brothers' mates, the children, soldiers, those who had surrendered to them and Alena. Not in that order. He sought her location first and then, when he was assured of the others' safety, his gaze returned to her. She stood between the children, dwarfed by their son and daughter, smiling at him. When he could not reciprocate, her grin faltered.
"What's wrong, Gabe?"
"I don't know. This feels wrong."
"What should we do?" Alena asked pulling the children close to her. "Run?"
"Too late," he said to her alone as he lifted his eyes to the gray sky. "Baby, please be careful."
Before she could ask another question, she saw the beast descend from the sky. He was much larger than the only other Panthralges she had seen. While her human memories were quickly fading, Alena had yet to forget the Panthralges that had ended her human life. With her children encircled in her arms, she jumped when one of those vampires, who had surrendered, started chuckling in a raspy voice.
"Master," the vampire greeted the Panthralges. "Did I do well?"
"Exceptionally well," the Panthralges answered as he landing on the ground. "Come, pet."
As the vampire crawled to his master, Emma pulled away from Gloria. Before she could reach the safety of Antony's arms, another Panthralges swept from above imprisoning her in his arms.
"No!" Antony screamed. "Gabriel ...." He added with a plea but was silenced at Gabriel's look.
"Ah, yes," the Panthralges finally said. "The Third Creation speaks to one another. Do your mates know how you can do that?"
"What is your name?" Edward asked.
"My name is of no importance."
"It is important to have the names of those who challenged our kingdoms," Edward explained. "And were defeated on this day."
"If you require a name for a headstone, then I should have yours," the Panthralges countered. "Would you care for Edward? Or should I throw you and your brothers into one grave and stamp 'Abedthaeus' on the stone?"
"Do not speak that name!" Edward commanded.
"How do you know it?" Tec asked.
"Do you really believe our goal was to take the kingdom with these," the Panthralges asked patting his vampire servant on the head. "These pathetic, miserable creatures are a means to an end. A disposable means," he added snapping the vampire's neck.
"What do you want?"" Edward demanded.
"Peace on earth? No, more like my piece of the earth," the beast answered.
"So you want a kingdom?" Antony asked never taking his eyes from the silent Panthralges holding Emma. "Take mine."
The beast growled baring rows of sharp fangs. He jerked Emma up holding her by her arm as her feet dangled in the air.
"I'll have your kingdom," his graveled voice announced moving Emma's face close to his. Inhaling deeply, he added, "And your woman. Since you have failed to claim her."
"No!" Gloria screamed as she tried to struggle out of Tec's embrace. "Let me go. Help me Tec. We killed one together. Please help me."
"No," was the quiet answer from her mate.
A moment of silence stretched into a painful awareness that these beasts were a formidable opponent for these great vampires once believed to be indestructible. Alena tightened the hold on her children as she continued staring at Gabriel. Although he remained silent, his gaze never left the first Panthralges. She was blocked from his thoughts but she could feel his emotions. For the first time in his existence, Gabriel Philandros was afraid.
"Gabriel," Antony said quietly. "What's happening?"
When his brother ignored his question, Antony looked to Edward and Tec for assistance. Both brothers held their mates close but gave a quick shake of their heads.
"Give him some time," the first Panthralges advised. "This is the moment that only a few have ever experienced."
"Experienced what?" Antony asked.
"Understanding. Knowledge. Your brother is sharing that gift that destroyed the first angel and the first man," the Panthralges answered. "He now knows...everything."
"Gabe," Edward finally said. "Man, what the hell?"
Ignoring the question, Gabriel asked the Panthralges, "When did you come?"
"Same time as you."
Gabriel simply nodded at the odd response to his question and bowed his head. As the others remained silent, he slumped his shoulders forward and exhaled. In a sign of defeat, he remained still while the others gasped in horror.
"Ah," the first Panthralges said with a chuckle. "Is this your white flag of surrender? Now that you know that you cannot win, will you beg for your life? Will you beg for Alena's?"
Suddenly the sky darkened as though a storm were moving in quickly. As everyone's gaze moved from Gabriel to the sky, they gasped at the sight before them. Two more Panthralges hovered above the maze.
"Ah hell," Edward said, "Gabe was right. How many more?" he demanded looking from one Panthralges to another.
The first only laughed as the second dropped Emma to the ground.
"There is no number," Gabriel finally answered. "Evil cannot be measured."
Everyone's gaze turned to look at the warrior as he straightened to his full height. His eyes were black and his expression was fierce.
"The general is ready for battle," the first Panthralges said. "Do you really believe that you can win? Defeat me, but we remain. In all of your life, you have never won."
"What the hell is he talking about?" Edward said walking towards Gabriel pulling Iona close beside him.
"Our failures," Gabriel explained. "From the beginning. We never defeated the evil but we were stronger so we kept fighting until it seemed to finally be gone. During those years, we let down our guard while it grew in strength. And in numbers," he added looking at each of the beasts.
"We can do this," Edward said. "If it were just us, we could win but with this army..."
"You don't understand," Gabriel interrupted. "We failed from the beginning."
"That's right," the first Panthralges explained. "From our father, Abedthaeus."
"Stop saying that name!" Tec screamed. "You have no right to say..."
"He can," Gabriel said. "It's his father too. We failed."
"Gabriel, brother," the Panthralges said with a smile. "Please don't be so dramatic. We only want our rightful property."
"The vampires that surrendered?" Tec asked.
"No, those were merely a diversion. Proof that your wonderful world can fail. We want our property."
"The children," Gabriel explained.
"Not exactly," the Panthralges said. "Just her. He was an unexpected coincidence that served some purpose but we now have no need for the boy."
"But the prophecy..." Gabriel started. "There's another."
"Very good General," the Panthralges said. "You are using the knowledge well. When they were birthed, we had failed so many times and they were quite pathetic creatures good only for producing blood. But the prophecy remained so we needed to continue. Interesting, did you really think that we gave up the plan? No, we merely moved. Became more discreet. We had DNA from every brother, except you Gabriel, so we avoided the kingdoms and moved on."
"Then why do you need her?" Edward asked. "Make more."
"You do not see," the Panthralges answered.
"See what?" Antony asked. "Gabriel what the fuck is going on?"
"Abedthaeus," he simply said.
His three brothers recoiled at the name and looked to each other for some understanding. Finally they turned back to Gabriel and waited for more explanation.
"Our father was the third creation but he knew that he could not prevail and would not remain as long as the first or second creation. He felt the war of good and evil rage within him so he begged for release. One man would fail but seven ...seven could prevail. As long as we lived in some form of harmony, the third creation would remain."
"Gabriel, why are telling us what we already know and agreed to never repeat?" Edward demanded.
"When Abedthaeus' wish was granted, we were born of good," Gabriel continued. "Then, with our first act of mercy, we killed our father with the blade he had forged with his own hands," he added quickly glancing at his son. "We embodied his spirit of good and destroyed his flesh, but allowed the evil to remain."
"How?" Tec asked. "How did it remain?"
"It was embodied into those who had been cast away," Gabriel explained. "We were created to hold the good. The Panthralges are evil personified."
"We've killed them," Tec said. "Hell let my mate fight with me and we'll take them down."
"But you don't destroy them," Gabriel explained. "The surviving merely assumes the evil of the fallen."
"So evil wins?" Antony asked Gabriel while looking at Emma who remained on the ground.
"No," Gabriel answered. "But it can only be defeated by good... and that would require all seven of us."
"Enough!" the Panthralges exclaimed. "Give me the girl," he said walking toward Alena.
In a rush, he snatched Abigail from her mother and kicked Joshua to the ground. One Panthralges swooped from the sky to hold Alena while the two remaining grabbed each of Gabriel's arms.
"Good and evil," the Panthralges holding the girl said. "Who would choose to be one of you when your defeat is as simple as killing your mate."
Gabriel remained imprisoned as he watched the Panthralges holding his mate smile. The beast gently pushed Alena's dark hair away from her shoulder and caressed the soft skin hidden beneath. With a chuckle, he swept his tongue down the column of her neck and looked directly into Gabriel's eyes as he rested his teeth against her shoulder.
"Tasty," the Panthralges holding her said. "Even if she reeks of your blood. How were you ever able to resist her? Don't worry, General, I won't touch her. There's too much fresh meat here to take your leftovers."
With a menacing laugh, the Panthralges jerked Alena's arms out and twisted. She screamed as the bones and muscles separated. Before her limbs were completed detached, the beast dropped her to the ground laughing. Watching Gabriel struggle between his two captors, he reached down and wrapped his claws around Alena's head.
"Isn't this how you killed our brother?" he asked. "It's poetic justice that the same move will kill your mate leaving you dying quickly behind her."
Staring at the claws that cupped his mate's face, Gabriel quietly said, "Brothers."
Before the Panthralges could move, Gabriel's three brothers along with Gloria attacked the two beasts who had restrained him. In less than a second he was free of their grasp and pouncing on the beast holding Alena. She crumpled to the ground sobbing in pain and fear but her cries were the proof of life Gabriel needed. He worked quickly as he ripped the Panthralges apart. Except for a yelp of surprise, the Panthralges never had time to cry or call for help.
The others took a little longer defeating their opponents. In less than ten seconds, the brothers of the Third Creation stood together staring at the last Panthralges who continued holding Abigail. His nonchalant expression appeared comical in the midst of the destruction.
"Look at him!" Tec said. "He looks bored."
"Arrogant," Edward added.
"Confident," Gabriel clarified. "He's beyond us."
"Are you insane?" Antony asked pulling Emma close. "He's the last one. We've killed all of the others. Haven't we?"
"Oh yes," Gabriel answered. "Just as he wanted."
The Panthralges started a chuckle that began quietly and grew until his chest shook with amusement. His laugh echoed through the maze as he continued holding the girl while everyone stared in astonishment.
"Gabriel," he finally said between breaths. "Please tell them."
"He now holds their evil," Gabriel explained. "If one of us dies, we all die. When one of them die, the remaining increase in power and strength."
"Does that mean we can't kill it?" Edward asked.
"All seven of us," Gabriel answered. "Why do you want my daughter?"
"It's an added bonus that you consider her to be your daughter," the Panthralges answered. "But her future never changed. She was one who was not supposed to be," he quoted from their prophecy. "And was saved by your mate and will now rule the kingdom with our son. Our son waits for her."
"Let go of my sister," Joshua ordered.
"Don't be a fool, boy," the Panthralges said. "You could not defend yourself against the newborn vampires. You can't fight me."
"I'm going to kick your ass," Joshua said circling the last Panthralges. "And then I'm going to kick your boy's ass."
"Amazing," the beast replied. "I'm encouraged at how quickly you've grown. My son is still quite small. Tell me. Do you still nurse from your mother? As you drink her blood aren't you just a little curious how other parts of her body might taste? Or maybe you've sampled this sweet blossom?" he added inhaling Abigail's scent. "No? Pity that human boys develop so slowly. Would you like to see her face as she screams in pleasure?" the Panthralges asked as he roughly grabbed at the girl's breasts.
"Drop her," an Australian accent said behind the beasts. "You're gonna die today but drop her now and you'll get to take both arms into hell." To accentuate the threat, a thin blade appeared at the beast's armpit.
"A human! Desperate measures, General. Is this all you have left?"
"Yes," Gabriel answered moving to Alena. "Our secret weapon. Apparently fate did not need my opinion."
"What's secret about a human and a ch....," the Panthralges started and cried as the threatening blade quickly dipped and rose cleanly removing the arm holding Abigail.
In a moment of shock, the red skinned creature looked at his dismembered arm frantically clutching at the dirt on the ground. He then looked to the young woman who had, only one second ago, been imprisoned in that arm. She now was sobbing against the chest of that despicable Aussie bastard.
"Hold her as tight as you can, human," he growled. "She will be ripped away causing her pain and your death." He moved toward the couple but stopped when his path was suddenly blocked.
"There will be no ripping today," Joshua said holding the blade his father had given him earlier.
"It cannot be," the Panthralges said staring at the object in the boy's hand. "It was destroyed."
"Hidden," Gabriel said holding his bleeding wrist to his mate's mouth. "Apparently very well."
"Your secret weapon is a blade that killed our father?" the beast asked with a chuckled. "It failed the first time. Do you understand, boy?" he asked glaring at Joshua. "It killed the flesh, not the power."
With a mere flick of his wrist the Panthralges shoved Joshua to the ground and stepped closer to his prey. He stopped again when he felt the boy leap on his back.
"It's not exactly the same blade," the boy said loosely wrapping his arms around the beast's shoulders. "My father said it would take the seven brothers to kill you."
"And where are they, little bug? Heron is a worthless creature and the two remaining should be close to destruction by now."
"They are in me," Joshua answered. "Thanks to you."
Using the skill of an artist, he moved the blade across his wrist as though he were collecting paint on a fine brush. Without breaking the motion, he plunged the blood covered blade deep into the Panthralges' neck.
Joshua leaped to the ground before he was thrown. Quickly moving to his parents, he watched the large red body contort as it struggled against the venom moving through its veins. Never moving his gaze from the struggling beast, he reached for his mother's hand and held his empty arm open for his sister.
As the Panthralges gasped for air, the spectators moved closer to witness his death. Tec, Edward, and Antony held their women close. Members of the army and Antony's household remained closer to the exits. The last group, connected together with a simple touch, watched the beast take his final breath, convulse and then surrender to his death.
Looking down at the hand clasped in his, Joshua said, "I hated watching him hurt you."
"Wait until you're mated," Gabriel replied cradling Alena in his arms.
Turning to the girl tucked under his arm, Joshua added, "You owe me, Abby, big time."
"Wait a minute," Alex said still holding onto the girl, "I believe I was the one who broke the bastard's hold."
"A lot of good that did," Joshua responded.
"I was the diversion."
"I was the deliverer."
"You both are annoying," Abigail interrupted. "Let me up." When she stood to her feet, she looked at Alex and quietly added, "Thank you, Alex."
"What now Gabriel?" asked Edward. "Do we find this other kid now?"
"Later," Gabriel answered. "He's still young and we need to rest. We should continue with our plans."
"Go to Heron's?" Antony asked. "Isn't that going to be a little crowded?"
"I've made arrangements," Gabriel answered as he stood with Alena still in his arms.
"I can walk," she said quietly. "I'm ok now."
"Well I'm not," he answered. "Please don't argue with me."
As the crowd starting moving slowly, some searched for the exit and others talked quietly. The victory of the battle had either yet to become evident or was shadowed by the thought of another adversary waiting in the future.
"So, let me see if I understand," Gloria finally said. "There's a boy, somewhere, who was bred to defeat the New Kingdom?" After several nods, she continued, "And these two young people were bred the same way? From the DNA of the Third Creation? All except Gabriel's?" After receiving another round of nods, she turned to Tec, "How in the hell did they get yours?"
Emma woke with a start. She had fallen asleep on the sofa again as had become her habit over the last several days. Grabbing the remote, she shut off the television which was loudly blaring the benefits a particular cure for erectile dysfunction. She rested her head against the back of the sofa and wondered if there was a cure for erectile disappearance.