September 22, 2012 § 5 Comments
The plan was to get to Gunnar and convince him in coming with us until we (she) figured out who’s behind all of this, and if there really is someone attacking the ones that are closest to her. I tought of me, but I wasn’t a vampire, I figured I should be safe. You never know.
However, like all plans, this one had a glitch too. There needed to be a Gunnar to convince in the first place, which was not the case here. Gunnar was missing.
We searched everywhere. There were no footprints in the snow, which was already almost 10 inches high. It was still snowing, so that couldn’t have helped much anyway. The front door was unlocked, everything in the house was in order, nothing broken, no sign of fight.
The fireplace was cold, if there was a fire there, it was long gone. We checked everything and at one point Regina even started screaming from the top of her lungs for him. Nothing. The scream itself, couldn’t have gone that far into the woods. The blanket of white, fresh snow was covering everything and proved to be a very good insulator against sound. The snow dampened everything.
We stayed around for maybe another half an hour or so, checked the basement and the small shed with the horses there. They were locked each in his own little space, and the stash of hay was in front of them, no even 10 feet away. A stash that was supposed to last through the winter. They were starving. I couldn’t help it and let them free – I hoped they wouldn’t eat more than they needed – there was plenty of water around us. Hoped they survived.
There was no point in waiting, he was clearly missing for the past three or four days, and he wouldn’t let the horses just starve like that if he intentionally went away by himself. Or the door unlocked, and a few other things that people usually do before leaving the house, like closing the damn upstairs window.
Something happened to Gunnar, alas, he wasn’t dead – yet – just missing. But then and there, it was clear that someone, something, was on to Regina, on to her offspring. This was no coincidence anymore, Blanche, Viktoria and Gunnar – they were all attacked in the same night – thousands of miles from one another. This was coordinated, well tought, and it involved humans and vampires alike.
From there, we went straight to the meeting. This one wasn’t called for by Regina, but by the elders themselves.
There was a minimum cvorum to be met, for a meeting to have a valid reason – at least 6 elders, or 5 regions. It was met on both ends, and she had to attend.
The issue was not necessarily directly related to the attack problem, but to the fact that Viktoria was attacked by humans, a group, and in a no-go zone. She had to explain herself . There isn’t much control in their world, but when it comes to one of the highest members breaking two or three rules in the same night, there needs to be some sort of clarification.
We were heading for that meeting, which took place in Scotland. Yes, Scotland. I have never, ever seen such a beautiful place in my entire life until then – and from then onwards up until now. Not Scotland, not all of it – but the actual place where we went. I can’t recall the name (I don’t know if I was ever told the name anyway) – but it was this beautiful mansion – hell, castle – somewhere around or near Inverness. Huge, eight or nine huge 18th century style rooms, all having their own fireplace, their own bathroom and more importantly, four-poster beds. I felt like at home in a way, but much better.
I can’t even describe it – you have to see it – I would have posted a photo but I can’t recall the name.
It seemed to be like the one in France, perfectly equipped with everything you need, beds made hotel style, I figured it was either a hotel, or a rental, but not a private residence. It was too standardized to be a private residence, I didn’t ask.
In any case, we landed in Glasgow at around 22:00 and headed straight for a pub.
Nobody waiting at the airport – Where’s your god now, ha?!
And now the fun part began:[audio http://k006.kiwi6.com/hotlink/6ae2glh3mt/02_-_days_to_come_feat._bajka_.mp3]
It was dark, cold and snowing. We took a cab to “any open pub”. Seriously?
We got of the cab in front of a bar named either ‘the old sheep’ or ‘the old ship’.
“Wait here.” Regina said.
“I’m freezing cold. What the hell are we doing?” I was more than confused.
“Just go sit in a corner for five minutes, time out a bit.” She said and with that went inside the pub.
Regina never, ever told me stay out, or you’re not allowed to come in, and because of that, I didn’t insist. If she had a reason for me to stay out, I would stay out. This was no time to piss anyone one, neither her, nor myself. We were both hungry, tired and cold. Really cold.
Five minutes later, Regina comes out in a hurry, with new clothes, classy ones.
“What the hell did you just do?”
She didn’t say anything and started going in one direction, then changed it and we went in the other way around.
Imagine this: a crazy girl in the middle of the night, snowing, running from one side to the other of a road, searching for something, while a dude is chasing her, trying to keep up.
Finally, a car made the familiar beep beep sound and she got in.
You’ve got to be shitting me.
I was just happy we were not out in the cold anymore. But wait, there’s more.
The moment I got in the car, just a fraction before the light going out as she started the car, I’ve noticed a tiny bit of red on her new jacket. Blood.
I realized what had just happened.
“So….” I didn’t even say anything.
“Do you need a detailed plan with points and sub-points with what just happened? I’ll tell you what happened: When you get in a new city during the night, with no means of transportation, hungry as hell, and cold, then, you need a human.”
“Do you think this is the first time I’ve done this? How do you think I lived over the centuries? I didn’t always had someone at my disposal.”
“We’ve been on the road for three days and I’m really, really hungry.” She said and started accelerating.
“Check if your mirrors are properly set for your line of sight dear.” I smiled.
“Very funny.” She replied in a sarcastic tone, and we were off.
And I felt for her. I truly did. She was basically a homeless child. Seriously. She perfected the art of going in, taking what she needed, and getting out, in under five minutes. And I bet she did this thousands of times, in thousands of cities, all around the world.
I was happy she wasn’t so self entitled anymore to take from me. She did, quite often, but only when I had the chance to also eat and rest properly, otherwise she insisted on feeding on others. I couldn’t blame her.
By the time we got to the castle, everybody was there, including Blanche, but not Viktoria nor Lars.
I hugged Blanche like she just came back from the dead. See what I did there?
I did. And she told me she had to get out by herself, because there wasn’t anyone to get her out. I felt bad for her. Imagine, digging your way out from a grave. Well it wasn’t that bad. She wasn’t buried, of course not. Just put in a coffin, in a crypt, with a stone lid. Nothing she couldn’t handle. Blanche was officialy dead to the world.
I apologized for not being there, and explained why. When she heard about Viktoria, because apparently nobody had told her, she freaked out.
Regina entered the castle in a hurry, pacing the hallway with really hard steps, imposing steps, demanding steps. Head held high, fast-paced, she didn’t say anything to anyone, but instead headed straight for the dinning hall.
The elders present there were Karl, Jackson, Nikita, Giorgio and Edmund. Lars was missing. I expected more of them, for example the elder of the UK, Arthur, wasn’t there. And we were on his territory. I know his name sounds a bit stereotypical and made up, but that was his name. I won’t invent another name just because I want to make this story more credible. Arthur was the name of the elder of the UK, and he wasn’t there. Period.
By the way, the UK doesn’t include London. London has three different elders.
I sat in a corner away from everybody, making myself as small as possible, while Regina gathered everyone, without saying anything, around the table.
“Whoever is behind this is going to have a very bad couple of months….”
“Surely you don’t think it was someone among us?”
“Who else could have the knowledge or power to plan such a thing?”
“Any human or vampire can hatch such a plan! It’s preposterous to accuse us!”
“I’m not accusing anyone. But we have to deal with this quickly. We cannot reveal ourselves just like that, not now, not there!”
“It seems to me that you’re the one revealing too much….” Said Edmund while looking at me.
Regina said nothing in return, just stared at him. I stared at him too, from ten feet away. Everyone else was staring at me.
“I think you lived long enough to realize why he’s here… of all the people, you should know better.”
Later I found out the reasoning behind this. Most of them, especially Edmund, but other elders too, had something in common. All of them were turned by their makers straight into strigoi, over night, but only after having spent months or even years with them, from a young age. They were raised into it, and left to make their own choice. Apparently this yielded ambition, loyalty and no depression nor regrets over the years…. I kind of understood that. Regina turning me by force would have probably meant years of hatred, and a feeling of robbing me of my life which would have never ever went away. Gunnar was a good example of forced turning.
Meanwhile, Lars and Viktoria pulled in front of the castle. He literally got her inside like a sack of potatoes, on a shoulder, and dropped her on the table. She was a mess.
History was repeating itself.
Regina quickly jumped over her and started stroking her, pep talking her and trying to ease any pain she had. It was clear for everyone around, me included, that Regina cared for Viktoria more than she let out. I don’t think she cared for anyone else as much as she cared for Viktoria, even if sometimes she got more than violent with her.
“It seems to me that not even a year ago we were having the same kind of gathering, with Viktoria almost being in the same position.” Karl said, trying to show a fake smile and putting his blond hair on one side, leaning on the fireplace like he had no cares, with a glass of wine in his hand.
“Your point being?” Regina said, clenching her jaw and tensing up.
“I hope there won’t be a third time soon.”
“I took out as many as I could, but there’s still plenty left.” Lars said, while making more room on the table.
He was talking about Viktoria which was literally punctured from top to bottom by holes. Larger, smaller, straight or skewed, on all sides. Some were bloody, almost closed, some were closed already, but she was squirming in pain. I figured that ought to hurt.
“You crazy bitch, you’ve done it again!” Regina yelled at her while ripping Viktoria’s clothes off, or what was left of them.
Blanche was sitting on the table, behind her, above her head, holding Viktoria’s head on her lap.
“They tried grabbing me! I was minding my own business and they just came out of nowhere and tried grabbing me!”
“Wait, they tried to kidnap you?” I stood up and said while approaching the table. Regina was looking at me and we were both thinking about the same thing, Gunnar.
“Yes.” Viktoria said.
“Gunnar was taken.” Regina said, and with that they all gasped.
“WHAT?” They exclaimed in unison. It seemed to me that Lars was the one most pissed by this. Figures.
“But he wasn’t just anyone! He was of you! He was stronger than all of us combined!” Some didn’t agree with this, but none contested it.
“Well then, that just proves there’s someone really powerful behind this.” Regina said.
“Or really smart…” I said while I approached Viktoria.
“How many were there?” Regina said, and by now she was opening up each closed wound where she could feel any foreign object, and as soon as she opened it, the bullets started coming out, some by themselves, some by force. Viktoria was screaming from the top of her lungs.
“An… army…” Viktoria said and clenched her jaw in pain.
“HOW MANY?” Regina said again and inserted her fingers deeper in a wound.
“40-50!” Viktoria blurted out.
“How many escaped?”
“One… two maybe… I’m sorry… I was taken by surprise.”
Holy shit I thought. Talk about the Terminator, he’s nothing compared to her. I wouldn’t have wanted to see what she did when she wasn’t taken by surprise. World domination probably.
By now, Viktoria was near unconscious. The amount of blood she had lost was already visible there, in the room, not even considering what she lost on the way here.
“Food.” Regina exclaimed.
“There isn’t any.” Edmund said.
“I’m sorry. What?”
“Arthur was supposed to bring it, but he’s either late or we have another mystery on our hands.” He explained.
Upon hearing that, I felt shivers down my spine…. Holy crap, I was the only slice of pizza in a room full of potheads with the munchies.
I went near Viktoria and I smiled at her… then I put my left hand on top of her head, and slowly underneath it… I tilted it just a notch and with my right hand I pulled on my sweater down. I kept stroking her head the whole time she fed, and, for the first time, she mustered a Thank you. Trust me, that meant more than all the thank yous I ever got in my whole life, put together.
There were mixed feelings about this. Some were pissed that I did that, some showed appreciation, some didn’t care.
Viktoria was clearly getting better in front of my eyes after this, and I needed to sit down. She took way more than Regina usually did. I felt every beat of my heart, and I felt like floating, unable to focus my eyes on a certain thing. Way too much.
Lars got me water and I thanked him. Regina and Blanche picked up Viktoria and took her to one of the bedrooms upstairs. She came back down in no time. Blanche stayed behind.
Downstairs, Arthur was finally making an entrance with four other people behind him. Three girls and a boy. Humans. Food.
I wasn’t nearly as revolted as I should have been, and I witnessed a full night of chatter while they were feeding on them in the same time. For them it was just normal sipping, and by the end of it, all of them were almost as drained as me. Pale, weak and sleepy. One of the girls sat next to me.
“So for how long have you been at it?” The girl said in a very thick Scottish accent. She was a local, clearly. I could barely understand what she was saying.
“At what?” And with that she realized, but didn’t say anything, that I wasn’t also a local.
“You know… a donor. Who are you with?” She asked, in connection with me not being a local. She figured I came with someone.
“I’m not… are you a donor?” I asked.
“Duh…” She replied.
“And how does that work?” I continued.
She was shocked. How could I not know how it worked.
“You don’t know? Who are you then?” She asked.
“I’m…. Regina is my sister.” I said.
“Who is Regina? That one?” Clearly, the only girl at the table. But that showed me that she had no idea who each of them was. They truly were mere food. No friends, no close nothing, just humans – food. I wondered what will happen with them, because they clearly didn’t know that any human that knows about them must either be turned or die.
And she believed me, also, that Regina was my sister.
“And why doesn’t she turn you?” She continued. And without allowing me to answer, she continued:
“I can’t wait for the day when I get my chance to be turned. But I’m too young still.” – I wondered if this was something she decided, or someone lied to her about that. In any case, I wasn’t too keen on making any friends that night.
Point was, that nothing of importance was discussed as long as they were there, the other people. After the elders and Regina got their spirits up and relaxed a bit, Arthur made a subtle sign to one of the humans and they all left.
As soon as they did that, they started speaking more seriously.
“So. I understand now, if we are to believe her, that it wasn’t her fault for exposing herself to the humans. However, that doesn’t change the fact. There still are some of them alive, knowing who she is and what she is, and they aren’t in our reach.” Karl said and Jackson nodded his head in agreement.
“And what was she doing there to begin with?” He added.
“She was following a lead, I had sent her to fix something for me, but I never tought that the trail would lead her there. I think this might be a gray area gentlemen. Surely, it’s forbidden to go there, but this is really important for me, and if it turns out that I’m right, for all of us.”
“I’m on to tracing down Sigismund. And I have reasons to believe he might still be alive.”
They all froze in place.
“Well that changes things… considerably. We don’t want that, do we?” Lars said.
“I’m not sure…” Regina said. I didn’t understand, she still had the love for him, but for some reasons they all feared him and didn’t really wanted him back. And they never met him. Was it what Regina told them about him? Was it some history that I didn’t know? Was it that they were too comfortable with the way things were, and didn’t want everything to turn to chaos with the ruling hand gone – because if Regina would have stopped to be the oldest – well – that changed everything.
“As soon as she regains her strength we’re going back there and we’re solving this. I promise you that. But in the meanwhile, all of you have to work together to find out who is behind this. I’m being threatened and I don’t need to remind you of your duty.” Regina said.
“You’re not crossing the border! And that’s that!” – They all agreed and formed a kind of a small resistance in front of her. This was no democracy, but Regina knew better not to oppose them just out of ego. She nodded.
“And you’re not exactly being threatened directly.” Edmund said.
“It sure feels like it. Or do you want to wait until someone actually tries to murder me too?! Or him?!” And she pointed towards me.
That was a loaded question, because they had mixed feelings about me. And I can’t blame them. There’s a reason I didn’t say anything or didn’t stay with them, and just kept to myself. All of them, Regina included, worked for centuries to be where they are, to decide such things and to have the power they had. And yet, there was this human kid, not even an adult, threatening to jump over all the steps and all the years, and just be a part of them – of the very top – just like that, because the queen says so? That didn’t sit well with them, and I understood. Some of them were nobodies for decades, even centuries, before gaining enough age, knowledge and influence to be able to be the elder of a zone.
All in all, this was a rather peaceful – and entertaining – for them at least, gathering. I figured they should do it more often, without a reason like this. They did, once every few decades apparently. Go figure.
We went to bed around 4 or 5 in the morning, and as we were going up the stairs, I could see the sorrow and anger in Regina’s eyes, and right there, out of everyone’s eyes, for the first time – I got close to her in a way that sometimes says more and offers more than even a kiss. I took her hand… it was as simple as that. I never really held her hand until that point. Not like that.
I slowly took her hand and got close to her and said nothing…. I just squeezed her hand in a reassuring way and she relaxed in an instant… she just became…. much softer. She let go and we went to bed without her releasing my hand the whole night.
You would think that a being so old and who has seen so much violence and so much sorrow, would be immune to emotions and affection, stone heart they call it. But Regina wasn’t like that. She enjoyed life when life was enjoyable, and she felt and gave love whenever there was any. She was just like you and me, if not more.
You would also think that they would prefer to be alone, with their thoughts, in the shadows, but that’s false. Nobody wants to live a life by himself, not mentioning roaming alone through the centuries. We fell asleep holding each other face to face and smiling, and her last words before falling asleep were:
“Tomorrow we’re going home…”