New Kingdom: American Court Ch. 13byMicKay©
Gabriel gently lifted Alena's body in his arms and walked to the door. Without a delay in his exit, he looked over his shoulder and addressed the following people with his commands.
"Efisio," he addressed the Council member, "have the guards take the Panthralges' body carried out to the training field and displayed for all to see. We will show our people what we are fighting and that the enemy can be defeated."
"Heron, instruct every person in this house, vampire or human, to meet at the training field in one hour. That is an order. No exceptions."
"Edward," he said directing his eyes to the American king "go to the cellar and bring Iona and the children to my apartment."
After his final words, Gabriel left the room. With almost no hesitation, the group dispersed to accomplish their various chores. No one questioned the shift in authority from Edward to Gabriel. No one questioned how displaying Nafar's body would instill confidence rather than fear in the people. And no one questioned why Gabriel seemed taller and broader when he rose from the floor. No one questioned aloud but they all pondered it in their minds.
Arriving at the doors to his apartment, Gabriel nodded to the guard who opened the doors and shut them after he passed over the threshold. Continuing through the rooms until reaching his bedroom, he paused and looked at his precious cargo.
"Let's get rid of these reminders of your last human moments," he said to her peaceful sleeping face.
He carried her to the bathroom laying her on the bench so he could start the bath water. Never taking his eyes from her, he checked the temperature and then laughed at himself when he remembered that her frailties were gone forever. Returning to her, he paused before undressing her and watched her face. Beneath the dried blood her new skin was rapidly transforming her face into perfect beauty.
"I thought you beautiful as human," he whispered, gently pressing his lips to hers. "Even when I saw you a few weeks ago after so many years apart, you were tired and too thin, but still, your face captured my heart."
He continued gazing at her while stroking his thumb across her brow. "You looked so beautiful at the cabin even though you didn't change. But now, I can't imagine how beautiful you will be when your transformation is complete," he said lifting her and cradling her in his arms.
"Gabriel," Edward said from the doorway. "Everything is as you have requested."
"You know she can't hear you. The change takes three days."
"Not hers. Maybe something partially changed when I bit her at the cabin but she will wake soon," he stated and then stood lifting her in his arms. "First, I need to clean this filth from her. I'll be out soon. Leave Iona her with the children and have Philip select four of his best guards to watch over them."
"Of course," Edward said but continued standing at the door. "Gabe," he finally said, "her blood, I mean, the blood given to her. I know it came from you, but technically you consumed the blood from the child. How can you know that she won't react to it like her sister did?"
"It is not the same blood that was given to Iona," Gabriel answered. "She fed the children saving them from their pathetic existence and gave them life. Her blood contained mine from when I tried to change her earlier. And now," he said laying her on the side of the tub so he could turn off the tap, "she and I have the blood of all brothers."
"How can you know that she will not lose her sanity? The strength of our blood alone would drive a newborn mad."
"I know that she will be perfect," Gabriel said walking to Edward and escorting from the doorway.
"How can you know?" Edward repeated.
"I'm listening to her thoughts," he answered with a smile and shut the door.
Returning to his mate, Gabriel gently tore away the clothes stained with her human blood. When she was undressed he slid her body into the warm water and began washing away the grime. The blood was joined by a gray residue flaking away from her skin. Beneath, the new creamy pale flesh was glowing in flawless perfection.
"I honestly did not believe you could be more beautiful," he said to the sleeping woman in his arms gently stroking his fingers across the smooth skin of her forehead now free of any creases from worries. The dark shadows that had circled beneath her eyes were replaced with the bright new skin of a newborn.
Finishing his task, Gabriel lifted her from the water wrapping a towel around her body. He carried her to their bedroom and laid her on their bed. Drying her body and hair with the towel, he dressed her sleeping form in a sleeveless, black gown and smiled at the dramatic effect the garment had on her new form. Finally, he tucked her under the spread.
"Rest, my love," he whispered and kissed her lips. "I know your change is moving fast but please wait until I return."
Gabriel rose to leave and hesitated returning back to her side. Watching her face, he stared thoughtfully and then finally nodded.
"My apologies," he said with a smile. "The children are fine and your sister has saved us again. I have never been proven wrong in my opinion of someone but you were right about her. She's priceless. And yes, we will win," he said with a chuckle, "because I just know? Not this time. It's because, for the first time in my life, I'm not fighting alone."
With a final kiss, he left her sleeping body and walked into the living room where Iona sat with the children. Edward strolled into the room just returning to the apartment. When the American king looked at his mate, she glared at him and turned away.
"What's this?" Gabriel asked looking between the two.
"She's mad because I believed her deception instead of seeing the drama that it was," Edward answered.
"How could you think that I would harm the children?" she asked with hurt in her voice.
"In his defense," Gabriel answered, "you are a very good actress." He walked over to Iona and leaned closer to her ear. "And my friend's insecurity had convinced him that you were just too good to be true." With a kiss, to her cheek, he touched both children tenderly and turned toward the door.
"Iona," he said over his shoulder, "guards will stand outside these doors, at the entrance into the room and at the door leading into my bedroom. If anything occurs, call them immediately."
With a look at Edward, Gabriel walked from the room. Staring at his mate willing for her to look at him, Edward stood silently watching her tend to the children. As he turned to leave, Iona spoke quietly.
"Gabriel's answers sounded good. But they didn't sound honest," she said finally looking at him. "I don't know how I'm supposed to convince you that I'm not the person who betrayed you before. You fought for me but you don't believe in me," she said quietly and paused when the emotion threaten to spill from her voice. "You and I won't survive if it continues this way."
Walking to her, Edward leaned close as Gabriel had, "Iona, look at me."
When she did, he continued, "Gabriel was right. You are everything to me. Perfect for me. I felt foolish... before... when you were infected. And now, when I should be thankful, I've let my doubts create this problem. Forgive me, please."
After a moment's hesitation, Iona tilted her face up to receive the kiss Edward pressed against her lips. "Unfortunately, I've given you cause to doubt me. Go help Gabriel so he can return to my sister. And then I can go home with you."
Joining his friend at the door, Edward slapped Gabriel on the back. "Thanks for your help back there. I made a mistake in judging Iona. You saved my ass."
"You'll have plenty of time to pay me back. Let' get outside before anyone else arrives."
The two men walked through the mansion tall and proud collecting guards and other men as they continued their journey to the field. To a stranger, the group appeared fearsome. To a friend, they represented encouragement and hope for a victory over the rebellion. To the enemy, their presence promised destruction.
Gabriel led the group to the center of the field beneath Nafar's dead body, hanging from a roughly constructed platform. Looking at the lifeless Panthralges, he studied the massive body, clawed hands and mouth full of fangs. He had beaten one. He could beat them all, especially when Alena was threatened. Feeling no remorse for the death of his enemy, Gabriel remained silent while the others discussed the fight that was behind them and the war that now stood looming in their future.
Fighting a war when the enemy was unknown was a guaranteed disaster. Gabriel continued looking at the Panthralges, questioning the rage and meticulous planning that was evident in the opponent. The part he struggled to understand was their motive. He tried to imagine how it would be were their species not the beloved with the Third Creation being the favorite sons. Vowing to never know the weight of rejection, Gabriel promised to lead his people to victory and in doing so, strengthen the mission of the New Kingdom as he and his brothers had sworn to do so many centuries ago.
Turning to the mansion, he watched the first of the spectators exiting the house and slowly approaching the field. Because no other message had been delivered other than the time and place for the mandated meeting, he knew that everyone was both eager but wary of tonight's announcement. Never a public speaker, he had no formal discourse to impart on the rapidly growing multitude. Always a leader, he knew he had one message to communicate.
Walking to Phillip, Gabriel quickly gave instructions in low tones finally looking at Edward until he received a nod of approval from the American king. With a final order, he dismissed Phillip and watched as his loyal friend moved through the crowd as requested. Finally, when everyone, human and vampire, was standing in the field, Gabriel nodded to Edward to begin their assembly.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Edward began, "vampires and humans, friends, you have been called to this place to see that which has been hidden from us but has tormented us for so long. Look at this beast that hangs before you and see our enemy. Look upon the creature that has killed those you love and almost destroyed your queen thereby, almost destroying me."
As the crowd marveled at the site of the creature hanging before them, murmurs began as a low roar through the congregation. Gabriel stood to the side of Edward with his eyes continuously scanning the crowd.
"We have a name of this beast," Edward continued. "He was Nafar of the Panthralges. He walked into my home, your home, to take that which had been created to destroy us."
"How did it die?" a voice asked from the mass.
"At Gabriel's hands," Edward answered. "Let's hear him now."
"My friends," Gabriel said to the hundreds of faces, "see this beast which is no more. See that he took from us as a prince takes from his own land but this was not his land. He was a thief and he was punished and died as a thief and murderer. This beast was our enemy and, as you see, can be killed."
"Can be killed by you," a woman's voice said from the audience. "How can we fight that thing?"
Gabriel narrowed his gaze until he was staring into the speaker's eyes and hearing the panic in her thoughts. Fear would destroy them before the Panthralges could.
"Susan," he said gently to her, "I'm not asking you or your children to fight. My brothers and I will destroy these beasts. I'm asking for you to be loyal."
"You know me, Gabriel. My family has worked for the New Kingdom for three generations. But we are human servants and no match for the strength of that thing ... or even against your people," she finished quietly.
"Which is why we are gathered here," Gabriel answered looking back to the large group. "The Panthralges walked into our home because someone or some people standing here have allowed access to them. We have removed the infected blood but your loyalty has been seduced with promises of power and wealth. As the first and second creations were seduced with false promises, you too will be destroyed."
Gabriel paused as he watched the realization pass over the many faces that people that they knew and loved were standing there as friends but had assisted the enemy in killing others that they had known and loved. As the murmurs increased in volume, Gabriel spoke again before chaos could erupt.
"Those of you who have betrayed us, you have this moment in time, this one, last opportunity to confess your association with the Panthralges, share all information that you have and you can return to us. We know who you are."
At Gabriel's last statement, several vampires moved quickly trying to escape but Phillip or one of his guards quickly restrained them and brought them to the center of the field. Watching the crowd continue to grow restless, Gabriel held up his arms with his palms facing forward in universal gesture requesting silence.
"My friends," he said with a louder voice, "these men and woman have displayed the cowardice that our enemies have beneath their skin. They will be punished. But I give one last invitation for you, who have betrayed your people, to come forward now and return to us."
With his last statement, he narrowed his gaze again to the human woman he had spoken to earlier. When she saw the evidence of his knowledge shining in his eyes, she fell to knees and screamed.
"Gabriel! I don't deserve your mercy! They killed my husband and I hated you, you Gabriel, for not being here to save him."
Looking around at the faces staring at her, she wiped the tears falling from her eyes and then buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
"Will you let her live?" one of the apprehended vampires asked with a hiss.
"I will," Gabriel answered and, moving quickly to Susan, assisted her to stand on her feet.
"Why?" a human man standing close questioned.
"Because, unlike you," Gabriel said turning his deadly glare on the man's face, "she was seduced through promises of basic necessities for her children. Whereas you, Geoffrey, provided maps of our property and blueprints of the house so the enemy could walk through the door."
Leading Susan to a female guard, he nodded in silent response to the guards question and allowed Susan to be escorted to the house.
"How did you know?" Geoffrey asked in a whisper.
"Helen killed your son at the entrance to the lower levels. The scent of his blood was on her last breath," Gabriel answered walking to the man. "You have supervised the care of this property for more than twenty years. Your father was here before you and your son would certainly have succeeded you. Your son! You let that bitch kill your son and you never mourned."
"We've let you fucking leeches feed from us for forty centuries," Geoffrey yelled taking a step away from Gabriel. "Now, one of Phillip's guards is fucking my daughter and she wants me to ask you to allow her to become one of you. One of you!"
"Dad!" a young feminine voice said from the crowd.
With a quick glance at Phillip, Gabriel watched a young guard quickly approach the young woman and lead her from the crowd. When she realized that he was taking her away from her father's trial, she tried to run back but the guard stopped her speaking quietly to her and then wrapped his arms around her shoulders as she wept for her father, and led her to the house.
"See," the man continued to rant, "She can't even stand with me when I need her."
"Her life will be as wealthy as you had hoped yours would be," Gabriel said grabbing the man by his arms and dragging him to the center of the field. "Last chance," he said looking to the crowd. "Phillip, bring the remaining here to join the others."
In the following minutes, guards dragged more vampires and humans to the center of the field. Some had attempted a miserable escaped only to run into their captors or stood silently waiting to be escorted to the others. When the last was brought to the center, a total of forty-three men and women, vampires and humans, stood in the center of the field.
"These who stand here are guilty of treason against the New Kingdom," Gabriel announced to the several hundred remain spectators.
"Our master will save us," one woman said from the condemned group.
"No," Gabriel answered with a shake of his head. "First, Geoffrey, you provided access to our home and in your lust, you never warned your son of their arrival. For the crimes of treason and murder, you are to be punished by death. Sentence will be carried out immediately."
Staring Gabriel in the face, Geoffrey nodded in understanding and then closed his eyes as he felt the strong hands wrap around his neck. Hoping to die before losing any control of his bodily functions, Geoffrey was relieved to feel the restriction on his windpipe and then hear the snapping of the bones in his neck.
"What was I thinking?" he asked himself before losing consciousness to death.
"Friends," Gabriel said to the mass. "The remaining criminals will die at your hands. They are given to you because you will need to fight. And when you fight, you will not always stand opposite those who look different from you but you may have to fight those you have known and call brother. I warn you, do not taste the blood of any of these. They are to be treated as contamination."
With a nod to Phillip, Gabriel walked away from the condemned and through the crowd toward the mansion. Behind him, vampires were leaping high in the air to reach the traitors first. Cries of fear and pain flowed through the field as the betrayers were punished by the betrayed. If two vampires reached a condemned person at the same time, they would each grab an arm and rip it from their opponent's body leaving him defenseless and easy to kill.
Because their crimes had been inflicted on those who loved them, the condemned were shown no mercy but there was no sport in the kill. If the punished did not quickly die, Phillip would deliver the final attack with a broken neck to the humans or a severed head for the vampires. Hissing and snarls overcame the crimes as the humans were quickly killed and the vampires attempted a meager defense. The only blood spilled was that of the guilty and was avoided as though it delivered the plague.
With a glance over his shoulder, Gabriel was content to see that all but four of the guilty had been destroyed and those would be killed before he reached the elevator. Rushing through the corridor, he reached out to his mate with words of comfort and instruction begging her to stay in bed until he could reach her.
As he raced through the corridor, he decided to avoid the elevator and leaped up the staircase in a manner that would have shocked anyone witnessing his actions. Fortunately, no one was in the house except minimal guards, Susan and his family waiting in his apartment. When he reached his floor, he ran down the corridor, quickly entering the apartment with a wave to Iona as he headed toward his bedroom.
When he opened the door, the site that greeted him was more than he could have ever wished. She still remained in bed, but her body had quickly transformed into the body of perfection that he had promised her so many years ago. She was taller, thinner, younger, and beautiful. Everything about her was healthy as if she had never had any childhood accidents or illnesses and had never aged or worried. And yet, underneath this excellence, she was still there. The girl who gave him reason to care how many hours were in a day, days in a year, and years in eternity. No matter how many times he had promised her eternity, he was never sure until this moment in time that they would share it together.