There was an almost visible tension in the room. Four men clenching on to glasses of whiskey in their hands like handles on a train, two of them sat in deep chairs while another preferred to stand, the fourth was pacing the room.
“Would you please!?” Ezio Auditore complained annoyed from his seated position.
The pacing man, Blaine Cameron, halted and stared directly at him, angrily.
“You got a problem, old man?!”
“Fellas!” Caleb Vatore called both of them to order from one of the chairs.
Silas Blackbourne was the fourth man, and quiet as usual, leaning up against the side of a stone fireplace, occasionally sipping his drink.
“He’s late.” Ezio stated after a quick glance at his wristwatch.
“He’ll come. He likes dramatic entrances. We are lucky that he agreed to meet us here at all.” Caleb responded calmly as always.
“Should we go over the plan once more?” Ezio asked.
“No. And no more mention of it. He could possibly sense it. Remember, he is at the level that he can read other vampire’s thoughts. I am convinced that he may, so use caution.” Caleb advised.
“Well, while we wait, Ezio, how was your vacation? Italy, was it?”
“Oh, it was simply wonderful. I had been hesitant to be gone for so long, but in the end I wished we could have stayed longer. The wine and food was simply exquisit. It was so amazing being able to show Melissa …”
“…how much of a poser you are, because you wipe your ass with Simoleon bills?” Blaine snarled.
“Either way, yes, thank you Caleb, it was simply delightful and relaxing. Melissa and I plan to return when the two younger ones are old enough to comprehend what amazing things they are looking at.” Ezio kept eyeing Blaine, daring him to taunt him again.
Suddenly a brief hissing sound announced a dark cloud from which within second a human form materialized. The Count had arrived.
“Good evening, gentlemen.” he slightly bowed and lifted the old fashioned top hat he was wearing.
“Good evening Count, so good of you to join us.” Caleb had stood up, slightly bowing in return and smiled, as the other men greeted the new arrival.
Blaine and Silas exchanged quick, nervous glances.
Pleasantries were exchanged, Ezio began to tell about his recent trip to the old world.
Blaine leaned over to Silas, who was now standing next to him.
“The ultimate couple. They should honeymoon together.”
Silas smirked, but said nothing. This was when his eyes met the Count’s.
“Ah, Silas, my boy. I have been meaning to talk to you anyway. Have you taken any action in regards to my request?”
“Oh? And why not, if I might ask?” the Count sounded testing.
“I have told you before that I am not a marrying man.”
“That may be as is, but you still must. You need an heir.”
“Heir to what?”
“Everything. Your home, your skills, your name. The legacy of the Blackbournes. I happen to have been acquainted with your great-grandfather, what a strapping man, and so very popular with the ladies. You look like a spitting image, it is beyond me that the ladies are not taken by you on sight.”
“I never said that.”
“So you do not like the ladies? Well, you still should marry and procreate, and fulfill your – ahem – uncustomary desires in secrecy.”
“I want to engage with neither women nor men, Count. I just want to be left alone.”
“That is a very foolish and childish outlook. You need to marry. I will find you some potential…”
“Mr. Blackbourne. I do not appreciate your backtalk. I am still the Elder here. You will do as I request!”
“I will not.”
“I am your Elder!”
“Question is for how much longer.”
“That is treacherous and … URGH…”
Silas was now holding the Count by the throat, slowly lifting him straight up in the air, his eyes never leaving the Count’s.
Caleb sighed and closed his eyes. This was not the plan. Goddamn it Silas, he thought. He looked at Ezio, who was staring solely at the scene before him, then at Blaine, who met his look. Caleb shook his head, while Blaine shrugged.
“Sat .. urgh… argh .. down … or … repercus… erghs” the Count stuttered. Humans could not hurt vampires, but vampires could. They just had to be stronger. Which Silas was not as he now found out. The Count nearly illuminated from within in a preternatural way, then a quasi explosion sent Silas across the room and into a wall hard, while knocking over Ezio. The other two had sought shelter behind the stone walls of a preceding fireplace. Blaine and Caleb looked at each other. This was bad for the plan, Caleb was surprised that it was Silas, of all people, who would lose his temper. He had been carefully watching Ezio and Blaine, but they had been laser-focused as they should have been. He now looked around as Ezio stirred and crawled behind a couch. Silas still would not move.
The glow subsided and the Count looked angry while he stepped towards Silas, still hunched over in the corner. When he reached him he stared at him, crouched down next to him and hissed
“Try this once more and you will not live to tell about it!”
The Count rose up and turned to Blaine and Caleb.
“Let this be a lesson to you. In the off chance any of you ever even dreamt about attempts on my person. I will not be so lenient ever again. Any next failure to oblige my orders will end fatal! Good evening, I am going to excuse myself now.”
The Count turned to walk out when Ezio jumped up “Count, a word, if you would, please.”
Caleb whispered to Blaine “What is he doing?!”
Blaine responded “Being an Ezio!”
Caleb hissed “Goddamn it!”
“Mr Auditore.” The Count turned.
“I would like to discuss something with you. Your recent edicts, they are quite … irrational and would hurt a lot of vampires and cut deep into their rights. Plus it could potentially start a war with the mortals, whom we are incidentally already on edge with …”
“ENOUGH!” The Count suddenly stood immediately before Ezio without anyone seeing him move towards him. “I will not have one of my lowest ranking subjects, a NOBODY, discuss my decicions with me. How dare you, you fool!?”
“I beg your pardon??? How dare I? How dare YOU!” Ezio puffed up. He was too much businessman and born into importance to being able to swallow this, all good judgement was out the window.
They argued for a few more seconds until Ezio stiffened in mid-sentence and with eyes wide open just stood, awkwardly slightly bending backwards while moaning in pain.
“We need to do something before that idiot gets himself eliminated.” Blaine whispered at Caleb.
“Too dangerous, he is warned now. This is exactly what I did not want. If we do something now, somebody is going to wind up dead. I do not want death.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake …” Blaine had enough and just walked up to the Count, pulled him backwards by the collar threw him into a wall and landed the first punch, surprising the old vampire while Ezio sank to his knees. The Count had taken a hold of Ezio’s mind basically crushing him from the inside. Blaine’s ruffian action broke the hold.
The Count reached for Blaine’s throat but he swiftly jumped aside. Spending the first two decades around and engaging in so much violence came in handy.
“Good man, Blaine, keep him busy just a while longer…” Caleb whispered to himself barely audible as he closed his eyes. If any onlooker had been there, it may have looked as if Caleb was entering some state of meditation. He now slowly spread his arms to the side and began glowing ever so faintly.
This got the attention of The Count, right as Blaine landed another hard punch sending the Count against the side of the stone fireplace where Blaine and Caleb had been hiding behind earlier. Blaine now noticed the glow as he had grabbed a hold of the collar of Count’s walking coat. Both men halted and stared at Caleb, who was now hovering slightly above the ground. Had the precursor been different and maybe the location, this could have been somewhat comical. But with everything going on it was downright oozing with danger and threat.
“Blaine, step aside.” It was Caleb’s voice, but very distorted, it almost had an echo and seemed to come from all over, not just from the speaker. Blaine did as told, but then decided to walk away further, pulling up Ezio and dragging him over to where Silas was still motionless sunken against the wall as he had fallen.
“Caleb no!” The Count’s words sounded somewhere between a plea and a threat.
Caleb now opened his eyes and they streamed with the same illumination that surrounded the rest of him. He said no more, just hovered and entered a staring duel with the Count. Presumably, he had the Elder hypnotized or somehow else was keeping him from running. Or counter attacking. Maybe the Count couldn’t, since he already applied his powers not long before. If the vampire society had plenty of one thing, it would be secrets.
The scene remained unchanged for what seemed an eternity. Blaine knelt down next to Ezio, patting his cheeks to bring him back to conscience. Somewhat successful, but he was very weakened, barely getting his eyes open enough to look at the scene at hand. He tried to speak, but Blaine shushed him.
“For once in your life, just shut the fuck up, old man. Preserve your strength ok. Don’t you dare die on me now! I swear I will come find you wherever you go after and kick your ass through eternity!”
Ezio, still barely able to keep his eyes open, kept trying to say something and with a sigh Blaine brought his ear close to his lips when he heard a faint “Punk!”. It made him grin, even though Ezio now became very heavy, he had passed out again, as Blaine carefully laid him down, he was smiling.
“Yeah, you’re gonna be all right, you old meatball.”
Blaine looked up at Caleb and the Count, they still just stood there, well the Count anyway, as Caleb still hovered, still aglow, so he turned to Silas. Efforts to wake him remained fruitless, and it was not like you could check a vampire’s pulse or heartbeat, or even breath and they were always cold as corpses. So it was a definite two men down situation. Oh Caleb, I hope you know what you are doing! Blaine thought.
Now as if on cue, suddenly the illumination turned brighter and brighter until Blaine had to cover his eyes, still through the cover he could sense a bright glow that reminded of a nuclear blast. There as absolutely no sound whatsoever, making the scene even more creepy and threatening. The light was bright and turned even brighter, and while instinct would have you think it would turn warm or hot, the opposite was true. It became icy cold in the room. Vampires were not susceptive to temperatures but still able to feel them, and Blaine felt like he was on an Arctic iceberg right now. He felt chills down his spine, possible his mind playing tricks on him, he could not say for sure. Then it felt like the ground shook, a little bit, then suddenly with such violence that Blaine fell over onto Ezio, the world around him still in motion preventing him from scrambling up. He heard things fall from surfaces, the glass in the windows chattering and heavy wooden furniture scraping on the also wooden floors, creating strange screeching sounds and creaks, like a creepy background song to the creepy scene at hand.
Suddenly the light faded, Blaine opened his eyes and it was pitch-black. All the lights that had been on before were now out. He scrambled to his feet. The room was empty. No Caleb, no Count.
“Oh shit!” Blaine said. Now what?
Was it safe to leave the two incapacitated men to go search for Caleb? But what if Caleb needed him?
Blaine decided to see about Caleb when the door was opened. Blaine quickly crouched down, the area where Silas and Ezio where piled up was not immediately visible from the door. A dark form slowly entered, by the way they walked they were either injured or dying. Caleb! Blaine jumped up, caught his friend and helped him into the chair he had been sitting in earlier, while crouching down before him.
“Hey buddy, you ok?” Blaine sounded genuinely worried.
“Yeah, fine, just … a little .. weak.”
“Where is the old fuck?”
“In a safe place … won’t harm noone …”
“No shit!? You did it! Man, that is awesome! You rock… you sure you will be ok?”
“WE did it, Blaine. Yeah, just drained.”
“You need to feed?”
“No. Just rest. How are the others?”
“Mafioso is just knocked out, jury’s out on Silas.”
“Already arguing with authority, huh Blaine?”
“Oh fuck man, you’re gonna be our new Elder now. Holy shit, do I need to call you majesty or King Caleb now or some shit like that?”
“No, but quit that cursing all the time! Now help me up!”
“Actually, come to think of it, I could totally take you out now that you are weak and be the king myself.” Blaine grinned, obviously joking.
“I see why the Count was so grumpy all the time. I am not even in office for 5 minutes and already have to deal with mutiny.” he grinned back, already visibly stronger again. He was regaining his strength fast.
Blaine helped him up and over to the two men, where Caleb, now already almost fit again, inspected the two other vampires.
“What’s the verdict, doc?”
“Auditore will be fine, eventually. He’s a bit dinged up, needs bedrest for a week, two tops. Alternatively I could put him in a coffin hibernation but he would be as dead, not move or function for about 5 days.”
“His wife – and likely mine – would kill both of us. Bed it is.”
“Silas took a bad hit. He is in a sort of coma. I am a bit worried about him. He needs supervision, but since he lives alone, one of us has to take him in. Auditore is out, they will have their hands full. Leaves you and me. I am a bit at capacity at my house, plus Grace and I will have to hold a bunch of meetings soon, with the transition of title and power. Think you can handle this?”
“Umm … yeah, I guess. Vik’s not going to be happy. She may kill me just a little.”
“Ha ha ha … you just stood up to one of the oldest vampires on the planet, but afraid of your own wife? Viktoria is understanding and reasonable.”
“You have not seen her mad!”
“Oh, I came close, trust me. Want me to go with you to talk to her.”
“Nah, I’ll handle. But we have to take both of them to my house first. I need Vik to go with us to the Auditores to deliver the Mafioso. His wife will either have a heart attack on the spot or beat the shit out of all of us. Or both, simulataneously!”
“Blaine Cameron, for being such a ladies man, you sure have a healthy respect of them when upset.” Caleb laughed.