REDEMPTION - Blood Bond
by ‘Teresa Devereux’
Two weeks have elapsed since I saw the Prince last, the night Kyle was killed.
I have been spending my nights trying to regain some sense of normality into my life, and get the mansion into a fit state again. There have been no unexpected visits from the Annubi, as if they have decided I am no longer worthy of them. Perhaps it is because they believe Felicity, and think that I did kill Jan? I am simply grateful for the return of my peaceful existence.
Just in case the Annubi do decide to drop in again, I have been packing away every breakable item in the house, and storing it out of harm’s way in the attic. I knew silverware had gone missing, but it wasn’t until I looked harder that I realised just how much had been taken. I suppose it hardly mattered now. I would never have any children to pass it on to anyway. I have never really thought about marriage and children before, but it plays on my mind now, knowing it is forever out of my reach.
I have been reading what old texts I have in the mansion, about myths of vampires. While a lot of it seems to be old wives tales, filled with religious fear, intermingled are a few things I know to be factual. How much it would help me, I wasn’t sure.
I awoke to the phone ringing. A voice I didn’t recognise said “Van Myers is in trouble. He has been judged and was found wanting.” I wasn’t sure what the person meant? “Who by?” I asked. “By the Prince. He has requested an audience with you. Be ready in one hour. A car will collect you outside.” With that, the phone line went dead.
It was always ‘cloak and dagger’ with the Prince. As excited as I was to see him again after so long, I wish it could be different.
I had managed to go shopping at a 24 hour mall a week ago, and bought several new suits to replenish my wardrobe. I dressed in a black suit and cream blouse, and wore stocking and suspender belt underneath. It made me feel a little more confident, knowing I wore my lingerie underneath my clothing out of sight. It would be seemingly minor to someone like Marie, I’m sure, but for me.....
A black limousine drove me to an industrial area, and pulled up outside a warehouse. There were several other limo’s parked outside already, with the drivers leaning up against their respective vehicles.
I noticed a large bouncer standing by a doorway. As I approached, he opened the door without a word. It was dark, all except for a row of evenly spaced lights hanging from the ceiling. My heels tapped noisily on the bare floor, echoing through the empty room. At the end of the walkway was a door.
Tentatively I opened the door into a half amphitheatre. It seemed to be sunken, as although I had entered the building at ground level, I was now standing on the second level. I looked around me to see vampires seated around the amphitheatre on benches. Unsure what to do, I found a seat nearby and sat down. I had the oddest sensation that the Prince was nearby.
I looked down into the clearing below. There were seven robed figures standing around the edge of the clearing. Beside them a gate opened, and Van Myers stepped out. From out of the crowd around me, another robed figure stood up. I heard the Prince’s voice from beneath the hood say “we are here to judge this man. You have been charged with treason, for conspiring against the throne of your Prince. You will, however, have a choice of your punishment." He read out three 'challenges', none of which I had heard of before. There was a pause, then Van Myers raised his head and said defiantly “I choose the Gauntlet.”
There was a murmur from the crowd, and the people began to disperse back through the door. I was waiting for them to leave, in the hope of speaking to the Prince. I heard a voice right beside me say “it’s time to go.” Turning to face the person, I saw it was the Sheriff, standing uncomfortably close to me. He went to lead me away by the elbow, but I pulled my arm away quickly and said “I know the way.” There was something about the Sheriff that made my skin crawl. He had an uncanny knack of creeping up on you.
Walking out into the open air, the driver opened the door of the limo for me. I was expecting to be taken straight home, but sitting inside was the Prince! He smiled at me and said “I hope tonight’s events didn’t disturb you, my dear?”
He was so caring towards me. I felt dumbstruck, and could only smile coyly and shake my head. I felt so weak around him, and only wished he could take me in his arms and carry me away.
We drove to the outskirts of town to a lake. There were dozens of cars parked around, with the occupants standing around talking to each other. I could see Van Myers standing beside the water, with several vampires guarding him. The Prince got out, and said to him “your task is to walk around the lake to the other side, and retrieve the handkerchief on the pole. You must walk, not run, the entire way. Do this and you will successfully complete the Gauntlet.” Van Myers nodded to him, turned, and began his trial.
It didn’t seem to be so bad. There was a forest to his left, and the lake on his right, but there was what seemed to be a clear trail between the two. I wasn’t sure how this was supposed to be so bad?
The Annubi’s hummer pulled up beside us. I looked at each of them, and noticed (with relief) that Felicity wasn’t with them. What looked like the new leader approached the Prince, and dropped to one knee in front of him. The Prince said “it must be done”, to which the Annubi nodded, and stood up. It was then that I heard the howl of a wolf from the forest.
Could they really have sent Van Myers off on his own, knowing there were werewolves in the forest beside him?
Over the next 10 minutes or so, the Prince’s company was highly sort after. Many of the people present wanted to compliment him on his running of the city. While he was always gracious, it was obvious to me that this aspect of socialising bored him.
The Prince looked up at a vehicle approaching from across the bridge. It must have been a bad omen, as his mood changed to one of seething anger. He waked forward, and the crowd, sensing his displeasure, moved away. He approached the car, got in, and the car drove off. I turned to the driver of my limo, who opened the door for me. It seemed he had already been given instructions on where to take me.
The limo pulled up outside a night club. It was nothing like the ones I had been to with Marie. This was much classier and upmarket, and the majority, if not all, of the people present were vampires.
The club itself was an old theatre converted into a night club. The “stage” was in reality a dance floor that was lit underneath by bright fluorescent lights. The “orchestra pit” had been converted into a bar that over a dozen bar tenders worked furiously behind. The main seating area had been converted into tables and chairs, set in the style of the Manhattan speakeasys, with linen table cloths and small lamps. Waitresses moved with practised ease through the club habitués, and carried drinks on black trays with blue neon outlines. The balcony loomed up behind with more tables and booths. The boxes seemed to be divided up into private bars and the ominous presence of those that sat there was palatable. The main feature of the club was a giant wall of televisions screens that made up the far wall, behind the stage. In front of this, slightly to the left was a suspended box, where the DJ mixed the pneumatic beats that gave the whole place a feeling, almost like a pulse.
On the far side of the club was a wall of television screens, and showing on them was Van Myers! He was in an antiquated stock, his head and wrists held down by a wooden beam. He looked far from his usual self. He was unkempt and bedraggled, with pieces of rotten food stuck in his hair. I was shocked at what I was seeing. How could they treat anyone like this, let alone one of their own?
The camera zoomed in to Gabrielle and three other women in front of him. The music faded, and the women’s voices echoed through the club. They were berating him, calling him all sorts of horrid things. They told him he would have to stand there for a week, and how they would find great pleasure in doing this to him every night.
Finally tiring of their little ‘game’, the women walked off, looked pleased with themselves. I felt nothing but loathing for them. Gabrielle might have been exceptionally beautiful physically, but no amount of make-up could hide her ugly inner self from shining through.
I felt such pity for Van Myers. I had to let him know he wasn’t alone. I, at least, could sympathise with him, and give him a little support. I didn’t know the full reasons behind why the Prince had put him through any of tonight’s ordeals, but surely he didn’t deserve this kind of public shame?
I stepped up onto the stage, trying to be as inconspicuously as possible. I leant down to Van Myers and asked him how he was coping. He glared up at me, with loathing in his eyes, and said nothing. I added “is there anything I can do to help you?”
My voice boomed across the club, and the crowd hushed. The DJ had recorded what I said to Van Myers, and was now replaying it over and over again, in a loop. Everyone began to laugh and point at me, as I realised my face was all over the video screen wall. I felt my face flush, as they humiliated me along with Van Myers. I looked up to the DJ who was standing with his arms in the air, showing off in mock triumph to his adoring ‘fans’ below. I heard Van Myers utter dryly “thanks. That really helped.”
I ran from the stage and out onto the street. At that moment I thought “if I never see another one of those vampires again, it will be too soon.” My stomach was so tense, that I felt like I would vomit. Realistically, that could never happen now. I hadn’t actually consumed any food in almost a month.
I was only trying to help Van Myers, yet I only managed to make matters worse for both of us. I felt the same shame my mother elicited in me as a child. As I was growing up, she would constantly remind me of how worthless I was as a daughter, then laughed at how her words cut into me.
I retreated to the mansion, and wept as I had as a child. This time, however, they were tears of blood.
It has been relatively uneventful the past week. Since I’m not working now, I have found myself at bit of a loose end. I decided to go to the library, and maybe catch up with my friend Jane Grimble.
I was walking along, when I heard fighting coming from a nearby alley. I stopped, and hid behind a dumpster at the end of the alleyway. I have been involved in disputes, not of my making, and really didn’t want to get involved. I saw a business man with a briefcase and umbrella, fighting a young man that was dressed like a university jock. The business man stabbed the young man with a blade attached to the end of his umbrella, then fled the scene. The young man fell to the ground and didn’t move.
When the coast was clear, I stood up. Looking around, I realised I had been the only witness. I couldn’t just leave the lad there. I went over to him, wondering how on earth I could get him to some some medical assistance. The only way was to drag him down the alley, and flag down a taxi. Thankfully since my ‘rebirth’, I now had strength which surpassed what one would expect from my small frame.
I hailed a cab, and got the driver to help me bundle the man into the back seat. I told the driver to take us to the hospital. The young man regained consciousness at that moment, and said “no. Take me to the university, block ‘B’”. I tried to argue with him, but he insisted I take him there, and that there would be people there that would help him. I gave the driver the new directions, and noticed in the rear view mirror him raise his eyebrows.
The young man had been fading in and out of consciousness for the whole drive, but he awoke when the car stopped inside the university grounds. He said “help me get out”. I assisted him to a park bench, and paid the taxi driver. I had no idea who he was, so I introduced myself and said “what’s your name?” He replied “it’s Grady. Thank you for helping me. Now, please just leave me here.” He had been badly injured, and I couldn’t leave him there unattended. I said “are you sure you’ll be OK? Is there someone I can get for you?” He said “no, I’ll be fine here. Just go.”
I wasn’t sure whether to leave him there or not, but he was quite adamant. I walked off towards the main gate, but hid in the bushes nearby. I wanted to make sure he got back to his dormitory safely. After 15 minutes, he stood up and started to walk away, so I followed him from a distance. He was walking across the quadrangle when he disappeared! He simply vanished. It was the most bizarre thing. I walked over to where I had seen him last, but nothing seemed out of place.
As I surveyed the ground, I heard a voice giggling nearby. I turned to see a young girl, possibly eight years old, a little way from where I stood. I called out to her, but she just giggled again and ran off. I was worried for her, as it was late, and she shouldn’t have been on the university grounds alone. I followed her, but she always seemed to stay just out of my reach. We reached the edge of a wooded forest on the border of the grounds. She turned, then vaporised into mist and disappeared. It was reminiscent of Kyle, and the way I had seen him fade into mist.
I wandered slowly over to where she had been, and looked around. Again, there was nothing. As I turned around on the spot, it now seemed as though I was in the middle of the forest, yet I hadn’t wandered over that far, surely? There were dry leaves underfoot, but I noticed that when I took a few steps, I didn’t hear them crunch. I called out, yet there was no sound, like I had suddenly gone deaf. I began to panic, and ran around trying to find my way out. But the more I ran, the more disorientated and panicky I became. I stopped and began to spin around faster and faster. The last thing I remember was everything going black, and a falling sensation.
Story 2 - “Blood Bond”
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