The bleeding had stopped and the net had been removed. Cyrus stood in his bloody clothing covered in burns across his face and arms. If he were to remain Vampire King the burns would heal, but if not it wouldn’t matter, because he would be dead. He would die before he let Seth be king. Seth would destroy the vampire world and he would take other worlds with it. He would spread his cruelty across the world and expose the preternatural world to the humans. And, he would take Bronte by force. Cyrus had no doubt of that. Bronte would not be killed if he were dead and no longer a threat to Seth, but Seth would try to take her. He hoped that the men who had captured him would be able to keep her safe from Seth and his followers and ghouls.
Seth stood in the circle that was surrounded by tall podiums. There was a light that shown down in the circle and made it difficult for him to see those sitting in the chairs around him. He knew them though. He knew them all. His gaze went to each of the chairs and he could feel their power.
Lucas was the King of Lycanthropes; a werewolf himself. He had once been a valued friend and allay, now he was an enemy. The man thought he had done harm to his goddaughter and there would be no forgiveness for such a thing from Lucas. The same could be said for the man sitting in the next chair; Rylan, King of Seers and uncle to Bronte. Rohan was next to Rylan and he could feel that one’s stare from the darkness in which he sat. The next seat was empty, it had once been filled by the Queen of Darkness, but she was gone now. He had helped to kill her minions when she thought to create her own circle of power. It was her power that leant to Bronte’s. Her mother had taken the power of the Queen when she was pregnant with Bronte, and the power had been shared. The next seat belonged to Pierce, King of Covens. It was always hard to say where Pierce stood on any matter. He was self-serving, but occasionally he would show bouts of ethics and good judgment. Next to Pierce was Nolan Bracket, King of Humans and senator. He was a powerful man in the human world, but did not make quick judgments on the preternatural world. It was only recently that humans were acknowledged by the Circle of Seven. Once humans could kill vampires and lycanthropes they were considered a powerful race. Their sheer number alone leant to their power. Of all the kings Cyrus knew Nolan the least. He wished he had been more political like Pierce and got to know each of the kings better.
A light came on over the podium in which Nolan sat. He would lead this event. Each king took turns leading and this had fallen to Nolan. Cyrus was mildly surprised that the man didn’t try to pawn off the unwanted task to Pierce, but it seemed that he would have the honors tonight.
The man appeared to belong in front of an audience. He had a presence about him that demanded attention. He was not quite six foot tall, but easily as tall as Aden. He was in his late thirties, but looked good for his age thanks to the powers he received from the Circle. His blond hair was short and professional as was his attire. He appeared to take great care of his body and his appearance. His blue eyes and strong jaw made him handsome regardless of what world he was from. He looked very serious tonight and Cyrus was glad. He doubted he could kill Seth as he was now, so weak, and he didn’t want any of the kings to take his death lightly when Seth killed him. They were making a huge mistake and he wished he would live long enough to see them regret it.
The power of the Circle would not allow either of the men to leave the light. The stood on opposite ends of the circle of light looking toward Nolan.
“Tonight the Circle will hear the words of the vampire world,” Nolan said with authority. “It has been said that the vampire’s have begun to sell their blood as a drug. It has also been claimed that vampire’s are making humans vampires for a price.” That was said with a hint of vehemence that he quickly covered with his calm demeanor and continued on. “Seth McCrery has proven to the Circle that these claims are true. He has made claims that Cyrus Quinn, Vampire King, no longer controls the vampires and allows their deviant behavior to continue while he pursues power through the daughter of Rohan of Semper, King of Immortals.”
Cyrus heard the words and they whipped at him with their harshness. He knew that Seth had clubs set up to sell vampire blood for money, he even knew that Seth was taking money to make humans into vampires. He just hadn’t been able to get absolute proof that it was Seth behind it all. Without proof he wouldn’t be able to send Seth to Dark World, when Seth most certainly deserved to be. He wondered if his obsession with sending Seth to Dark World and then his obsession with Bronte would cost him his life. He deserved the condemnation of the kings, but not this. He did not deserve this. The injustice of it hit him and he became angry.
“This isn’t justice,” he spat at them. “This is an execution and you all know it!” Cyrus knew his power was greatly depleted. He had been wounded and lost a lot of blood. The burns had also drained his power although the pain of the burns was nothing compared to the heat of his rage. Rohan had told him that they had brought someone to kill him, and he had meant it. They helped to drain his power enough that they would be as much to blame for his death as Seth would be.
“Speak out of turn again Cyrus,” Nolan told him in even tones, “And you forfeit your life.”
Cyrus knew the rules. He had no doubt that he would be killed if he spoke again without permission of the Circle. He chastised himself, not for speaking out of turn when he knew it was against the rules, but for choosing what he would say, so poorly.
Nolan waited to see what Cyrus would do, but when nothing more was said he continued.
“We have heard from Seth McCrery and will now hear from Cyrus,” he said and then nodded to indicate that Cyrus could now speak. Cyrus hadn’t heard what Seth had told them, he only knew what Nolan had just said. The tradition was to have both heard so there could be a debate, but he guessed that traditions were not rules and they could be broken if it suited the purpose of the kings.
“What you say is true that these things have taken place in the vampire world,” Cyrus spoke out. “I am aware of them and have been monitoring the clubs in which this occurs. I was waiting only for the proof of who was behind the crimes so that I could make an example of them and stop this from happening again.”
“Cyrus?” Lucas’ voice rang out in the quiet room and his Spanish accent made him known immediately to Cyrus. “Did you find out who was doing this?” He asked.
“Yes, it was Seth,” he answered. He did not hold triumph in his voice to have named his adversary as the culprit because he knew how the Circle worked. It might not matter who the culprit was, only that he was a king who had lost the power to control his people.
“If you knew it was Seth why did you not stop him?” Lucas asked.
“I was gathering the proof so that I could come to the Circle and ask that Seth be sent to Dark World,” Cyrus told the Lycanthrope King.
“Cyrus?” It was Rohan. Cyrus looked in the direction of the voice, but could only see the outline of Rohan’s figure there. “How many people do you think died while you were looking to gather information?” The voice sounded just as it did when the King of Immortals told him they found someone to kill him.
Cyrus had not considered it. Getting the proof to send Seth away was the best solution he thought. In the long run he would save many more lives that what were lost while he found his evidence.
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. He could feel the eyes upon him as they judged him and it was heated and violent.
“What will happen to the vampire world if it becomes well known that you can use their blood as a drug?” Rohan asked and the words hit Cyrus like sharp shards of glass into his skin.
There was no doubt that he should have stopped the clubs and taken care of Seth’s disobedience first before anyone was harmed, or before the fact that a vampire’s blood could heighten the senses if injected with a syringe. He had been so focused on stopping Seth that he had been unable to see anything else.
“I think the point here is this,” Lucas spoke up again, “you should have taken care of your business first, and then sought to fulfill your vendetta against Seth.”
“Vendetta?” Cyrus asked. He hated Seth, that was true, but he hadn’t thought about it in those terms.
“Seth is the vampire that made you, is he not?” Lucas asked.
Cyrus turned to the other man standing quietly in the circle of light with him and he thought about him. Seth had made him a vampire. Seth had made a lot of people a vampire, but he had been special. He had embarrassed Seth in a group full of women one night in a local tavern near his home. It was all in good fun, and he had been well into his cups by that time. He was just looking to impress the local harlots to entice one into a free roll in the bed upstairs before the end of the night. Seth had been an outsider and an easy target with is obvious flare for expensive things in the despicably poor community. Seth had taken weeks in stalking him for his revenge. He made Cyrus think he was going crazy before it was finally done. When Seth made him a vampire he left him to die and only the intervention of the Vampire King of that time kept him alive. That king had given him someone to teach him their ways and before his first hundred years on this earth he had grown powerful and feared. When the old king took notice of him there was much jealousy among the horde. To protect him the king gave him his blood routinely and it kept him stronger than the others. It gave him powers the others did not have. When the king was killed by an unknown assassin while Cyrus was away there was much speculation as to who would be the next king. Seth was among those thought to take the seat, but it was not to be. The Circle had recognized the old king’s blood in him and he had been chosen without a fight. On that day he was glad he had met Seth. He gloried in being a vampire. Seth had proven to be a thorn in his side ever since, but Seth had always been that way, he was no different to anyone else. Seth was cocky, but what vampire wasn’t to some degree? He didn’t think he had a vendetta against Seth for making him a vampire. He did now that Seth had beaten Bronte, and because of what Seth was doing to the vampire world; his world. He had a vendetta, but not for what Lucas was speaking of.
“Seth is my maker,” he admitted freely. “But I hold no vendetta for it. My vendetta, if you choose to call it that, has to do with what Seth has done to my people and to my woman.”
“No one here believes you Cyrus,” Rohan interjected and for the first time his voice held some of the violence Cyrus knew was brewing there in the shadows.
“Why don’t you have Rylan use his power to read Seth?” Cyrus became hopeful for a moment. If Rylan read Seth they would know what he had done to Bronte.
“I cannot read you Cyrus,” Rylan spoke. “So, I will not read Seth.”
It was true that Rylan was not able to read him because of his power. It was not like that between all the kings, but between some. Cyrus felt some panic at Rylan’s refusal to do what it would take to have a just and fair trial. They really meant to have him killed just as Rohan had said.
“The three of you,” Cyrus swept his hand out to encompass Rohan, Rylan and Lucas, “have no sense of justice in this, only revenge. You seek revenge from the wrong man and when you discover your error it will be too late,” he became impassioned. “If Seth takes my place you will be sentencing Bronte to death, or worse. Why do you not wait to speak to her or to the vampire Aden, whom you all seem to agree is more honest than I.”
No one spoke for a few seconds as the sound of Cyrus’ voice echoed and faded. It was Nolan who spoke and Cyrus turned his head to look at him.
“Where is the vampire Aden?” he asked.
“The last I saw him he was in my home,” Cyrus told them. If Aden were to arrive he would surely speak sense to the barbarians.
“We went through your home and found only you and Bronte,” Rohan told him.
“That’s impossible,” Cyrus spat in anger. “Both Aden and my servant Felix were in the house. You did not look long enough. You found me and your vengeance was sated. Will you deny the truth to sate your selfish need to harm me? If you do, then you are no better than I; wanting to wait and capture Seth to ensure my will be done to him at any cost.”
“It won’t matter to me what Aden has to say about you Cyrus,” Rohan told him, unmoved by Cyrus’ impassioned speech. “You had no right to touch Bronte, and you will pay for that, here or in hell.”
“Wait,” it was Nolan again and they turned to him. “This can’t be about your daughter Rohan,” he said. “This is about whether or not Cyrus can control the vampire world.”
“I tend to agree with Nolan,” Pierce spoke for the first time. “It must be about control, not personal revenge.”
Cyrus was grateful that the other two kings were attempting justice and sanity. If it weren’t for the laws of the Circle of Seven Cyrus had no doubt he would have been killed by the three men who stormed his home today. They still planned on killing him, they would just have to be more politically clever to have it done.
“Then it comes to this,” Rohan said. “He was not strong enough to keep the clubs from being created and growing rampant about the country. Seth had agreed to have this all stopped. I say we let them fight and have it done.”
There was silence. Only Nolan thought to speak out on Cyrus’ behalf. “He is wounded Rohan, it would not be fair.”
“Don’t be so weak Nolan,” Rohan’s voice held anger and it was meant to intimidate the other man, but it did not work.
“If justice is my weakness I am guilty Rohan,” he said calmly. “I am not here to use the Circle as a murder weapon,” he threw back at the immortal.
Rohan was silent for a moment and his rage filled the room until everyone had felt it. But, when he spoke his voice was calm again.
“He fights now, as he is, as penance for what he did to my daughter,” Rohan said. “Cyrus is a king and holds the power of the Circle; Seth is a powerful vampire to be sure, but he is not a king. Making Cyrus fight now will serve as justice and will certainly be seen as fair.”
Nolan had no response for that. He did not look happy about it, but he was only one man. “What say the rest?” he asked of the other kings.
“I say Rohan is right, it is fair that Cyrus fight wounded since he is a king,” Rylan added.
“I have seen Cyrus fight, and it is only fair to Seth,” Lucas agreed.
Nolan stood his ground. “I am opposed,” was all he offered. He looked to Pierce then and waited for his answer.
“I do not wish to oppose the immortals on a matter that does not concern me in the long run,” Pierce said. As always Piece looked for a political angle. He would agree with the others and in return some day he would ask for their support on another matter. “I vote to let them fight.”
Cyrus knew this would be the only outcome. He could understand the two immortals and Lucas, they thought he had done some great and unforgivable thing to Bronte against her will. He would not beg for mercy, his life, or his kingdom. He begged to no one. He would fight Seth and the Devil have them both.
“The vote is four to one,” Nolan announced and spoke the decision of the Circle. “Cyrus will fight Seth for the seat of the Vampire King.”
There was nothing left to say. Cyrus turned toward Seth and watched his eyes turn blood red. He felt his own face lose all expression as he concentrated on the man approaching him.
Seth hit him and he hit the ground. Seth hit him hard in his right arm and the wound that was mending there opened up and bled freely. Cyrus ignored the pain and threw Seth from him so that he could stand. Seth went only a few feet away and as Cyrus stood Seth took him down again and hit the wound on his left arm and now he bled from both.
Blood flowed to the floor and became a slick hazard to them. Cyrus threw Seth again, and again the vampire came back. He continued to hit the bleeding wounds until the flesh tore away in places.
Both vampires bared fangs that were deadly sharp. Cyrus grabbed Seth by the throat and was able to bite into his flesh, but Seth inserted his hand in a wound and torn the muscle there forcing Cyrus to cry out and release him.
Cyrus knew the fight would not last long. He had little power and no strength. Seth had bled him and he the room spin as he moved about deflecting Seth’s ever increasing blows to his arms. Seth was bleeding from the bite mark on his throat, but other than that he looked as though he could fight all night.
He couldn’t lift his arms. The muscles had been torn to the point that they would not have to mend, but would have to grow back entirely. As Seth reached him and grabbed hold of his throat to lift him off the ground Cyrus knew it was over. He felt Seth’s fingers dig into his flesh at his throat and the blood began to pour from the wounds there. He heard something, and then he was released. It was Nolan’s voice telling Seth that the fight was over.
“If I am to be king I want him dead,” Seth was demanding of Nolan.
“You have won Seth,” Nolan told him. “The Circle acknowledges you as Vampire King.”
Nolan’s words hung in the air and warmth filled the room. Cyrus felt it the moment it happened. The markings on his back grew hot, then cold and then they were gone. He couldn’t stand, but he moved his head in the direction of Seth’s voice. He saw Seth in ecstasy as he absorbed the power of the Circle of Seven. He wondered what powers Seth would be given. He watched as Seth grabbed his stomach in some alarm and then ripped off his shirt to expose a marking of his own there on his abdomen. It was tribal like the other kings, but it was not on his shoulders as Cyrus thought it would be.
“What happens to Cyrus?” Rohan asked. He was the newest addition to the Circle and he wanted to see this through no matter what it was.
“I want him sent to Dark World,” Seth’s voice rang out. No one challenged him. He walked toward Cyrus then as the other kings dismounted from their lofty podiums. He bent down close to Cyrus’ ear to impart a secret. “The girl will be mine tonight and I shall dedicate her screams to your memory.”
Cyrus’ wasn’t sure if it was because he was no longer king, or if the knowledge that Seth would carry out his threat had affected him, but for the first time in hundreds of years Cyrus knew cold hard fear.
He tried to move his arms and sit up, but it was not to be. He couldn’t move. Rylan approached him and the net was thrown back over him. The crosses burned his newly exposed flesh and his power was gone. He didn’t try to move anymore.
“I will take him to Dark World,” Rohan offered into the room. There had never been a question as to who would take him, Rohan had energy for it. He wanted it.
“No,” Cyrus heard the voice of Nolan, but he couldn’t move to look at the man. “It’s enough Rohan. I don’t know that he would make it to Dark World if you were to take him. It is a long journey,” Nolan said as he walked into view of Cyrus. “Allow Rylan to take him. He is strong and can easily handle the broken vampire.” Nolan said the last with anger in his voice and it brought Cyrus’ attention to him. He appeared angry about what they had done and how they had done it.
“I agree with Nolan,” Lucas spoke and he too came into view. Something akin to regret lived in his eyes and when they met Cyrus’ own icy stare they held there for a moment and then dropped away. Cyrus had never seen Lucas look away from any man before. Lucas had been his friend, but he was close to Rylan and to Bronte. Cyrus felt some satisfaction that at least one of the three men would not sleep well tonight.
Rohan stood next to Lucas and seemed thoughtful. He nodded without saying a word and walked out of Cyrus’ view.
There was a noise behind him, but he didn’t dare move. The pain was becoming unbearable now. The loss of blood made the pain even more acute and he did not want to move and lose more blood.
There was the sound of metal door opening and Cyrus hissed as someone picked him up from behind and threw him into a cage to wheel him out and prepare him for the journey to Dark World.
* * *
The new Vampire King now sat in an antechamber of the main room of the Circle of Seven. The remaining kings sat leisurely as they discussed many of the rules, laws, traditions and benefits of being a part of the Circle as servants filled wine glasses in celebration. They had all settled in the comfortable room and just begun to discuss the laws with Seth when the door to the main room could be heard banging against the wall as someone threw it open in haste.
“Rohan!” Raven’s voice conveyed the concern she now shared with Bronte.
Rohan left the kings to find his wife, daughter and Dylan standing in front of the circle of podiums looking at the blood that still stained the floor.
Bronte saw her father as he came to them. Her eyes were drawn again and again to the blood on the floor, but she dragged them away to give her attention to her father as he stood before them.
“What have you done to him?” Bronte’s voice was small and desperate and she watched her father’s look change from pointed defiance to concern. “You have no idea what you’ve done.” Her eyes found the blood and she knew it was his. She hoped some of it was Seth’s, but Cyrus had been wounded before they took him and she knew his blood stained the floor at her feet.
“Where is Aden?” her father looked from her to her mother.
“I don’t know,” Raven told him. “What I do know is that if Cyrus is dead or no longer king his power to compel Bronte is gone,” she said as her eyes were also pulled to the burgundy stains. “Rohan, I think we’ve made a terrible mistake.” Her eyes sought his then and they shown with tears of fear and shame.
Rohan’s jaw clenched and unclenched as he looked at his daughter and then to his wife. He refused to believe they had made a mistake. He had smelled his daughter on the Vampire King and knew he had taken advantage of his daughter. To him, using compulsion to attain sex was tantamount to rape and Cyrus had gotten exactly what he deserved. But, Raven was right, Cyrus had lost his power and was too weak to try compulsion.
“Could it be the aftereffects of the vampire’s compulsion?” Rohan asked of Raven.
“You know as much as I do Rohan, but I don’t think so, and I don’t think you do either,” she said. It wasn’t an accusation. She had wanted Cyrus punished as well if he had harmed their daughter and she didn’t care what the punishment was. She had agreed with Rohan and the other kings when it was decided that the other vampire would take Cyrus’ seat of power. The net had been her idea.
Rohan felt heaviness creeping into his heart as his eyes scanned the distraught face of his daughter. He had spent the last twenty-one years trying to protect her from pain, from fear, from fate. His heart felt as though it would collapse from the pain he saw in her face, a fierce fist had taken a hold of that organ and demanded that he heal her pain somehow. Bronte was his child and no other immortal in the history of their race had ever been blessed with a child. She and Raven were his entire life, without them he would be nothing, he could do nothing. His world stood before him crumbling, and he had done this. He had been so enraged at the vampire he did not care that fairness or justice prevail. He wanted his pound of flesh for what he saw as a crime against the immortal people, against him.
She would never forgive him. If she were truly no longer under Cyrus’ compulsion then she was telling the truth and Cyrus had not harmed her. Looking at her pain he saw what he should have been able to see from the beginning, she cared for the vampire. He had just taken away something very important to her, someone very important to her, he had taken away her heart when he helped send Cyrus to Dark World. He felt the weight of what he had done and his heart beat hard in his chest. He watched her stare in mute horror at the blood on the floor. What if she never forgave him? What if she turned her back on him? Forever to an immortal was long time to be without love, and he could not live without his daughter’s love.
He thought about the first time he held her. She was a miracle to him. She was so tiny and fragile and he feared holding her lest he crush her. She weighed less than a feather to him and the chains that bound his heart to hers were stronger than any steel, than any magic. Her birth had made him feel love that he never knew existed in the world. His heart belonged to Bronte and Raven and they both looked at him now for answers.
“I didn’t know. How could I?” He said quietly. His eyes searched Bronte’s as she looked to him when he spoke. “I only wanted to protect you.”
She heard the pleading voice that was her father’s and she had never heard such sadness. She wanted to be angry with him; she wanted him to regret not listening to her. She wanted him to stop trying to plan her life so that he could feel more comfortable with letting her live in the world. He had not listened and Cyrus had paid for that. With all of her pain and anger she wanted to scream at him and make her feel the pain too, but looking into his sad eyes she couldn’t do it.
He moved around the blood toward her and she watched him approach. He moved slowly as though he were not sure of his welcome near her. He stopped and the sadness in his eyes was joined by something Bronte had never seen before; fear and uncertainty. She considered what he must feel now knowing that he had been mistaken. He was always so careful with her and with her life and he thought he was being careful when he removed Cyrus. His only thought was to take care of her, and she could not fault him for that. She watched his hand reach out to her then and he moved slowly and tentatively. Before his hand could touch her face she threw her arms about his neck and held on to him. Right or wrong he was still the one she would go to when she was afraid, his arms were still the same safe sanctuary they had always been all her life. She felt his body shaking as she held him and she attempted to draw back and look at him, but he would not allow her to move. He held her as though she might flee if he were to let her go.
“I would never hurt you, never,” he whispered to her. “You are my life Bronte.”
“What do we do now?” She asked him.
“I don’t know, but I think we need to discuss what really has happened here,” Rohan offered and he released her so that she could look at him, but he was reluctant to release her from his arms. “Cyrus is not dead,” he said to reassure her, thinking of the blood she had been staring at with such horror.
“I know,” she said and it caused him to look at her curiously. She wanted her father to understand. “If Cyrus had died I would have felt it,” she told him, “Something inside of me would have died too.”
Rohan nodded knowing exactly what she was saying. If she or Raven died he would feel their loss in his soul, he was sure of it.
“Tell me all,” he said to her and he let her go. He scanned the area, but the kings had left him to his own affairs and they were alone with only Dylan to witness his love for his family.
“After we get Cyrus back,” she pleaded. “Where is he?”
“He has been taken to the prison that is Dark World,” Rohan told her. “He is with Rylan and they left only an hour ago. They will take a plane to California where the entrance to Dark World is.”
“Can we call them on the plane?” Bronte asked.
“We can try,” Rohan told her.
“We should find Aden,” Raven said to them and they turned to her in agreement. Raven thought that Aden might be able to prove that Seth challenged Cyrus under false pretenses and that perhaps it was not too late to undo what they had done.
“Where is Aden?” Rohan asked.
“Aden is dead.” The voice that broke into their conversation came from the door to the antechamber. They turned and saw Seth standing in the doorway. “Hello Bronte,” he said to her as his eyes raked over her body and he considered what he would do to her when he finally had her.
Bronte’s reaction at seeing the vampire was utter fear. It didn’t matter that she was surrounded by people who would protect her, she saw the promise in his eyes, and those people would not always be near. She stepped back until she felt the solid wall that was her father. In her fear she cried out and when she turned to see his confusion she recalled that he knew nothing of what Seth had done, but her mother did and the room rang out with the sound of gunfire.
* * *
Chaos filled the air when Raven’s silver, cross-etched bullets hit Seth and the vampire cried out in rage and ran toward her with the intent to stop her permanently. Lucas was in the room before Seth could reach Raven and saw Rohan move in front of her and take the hit meant to kill his wife.
The vampire barely moved the larger man, but they were both sent to the ground at Raven’s feet where they began to fight. Raven backed away from them holding her gun away to ensure she did not accidentally shoot her husband, but waiting for the opportunity to shoot the vampire again.
Rohan took Seth by the throat as he stood and the vampire hissed and bared fangs as he fought the warrior. The vampire did not require air, so crushing his windpipe was not an effective means of stopping him and Rohan threw the man away from him to set up for another attack.
Seth flew into the far wall and was standing again before Bronte could see him moving. Seth’s eyes had turned red in his rage and he was not looking to Rohan when he moved again, but was looking at her. She backed up again, but slipped in the blood that was on the floor and fell hard to the ground. As her eyes opened she felt the weight of him descend up on her when she was able to see again she was looking into his face.
“Cyrus goes to Dark World, I’ve sent my men to kill Aden, and your protector’s can’t kill me now,” he whispered to her. “I will take you with or without power and you will belong to me.” Seth looked up to see Lucas holding Rohan back saying something to him that Seth did not care to hear.
As Seth looked back at Bronte he smiled, exposing his sharp teeth. His hand went behind her neck to bring her forward when he felt himself being lifted away from her and thrown again to the far wall. Again the vampire was up in a heartbeat and staring now at Dylan who had picked up the girl and placed her behind him. He had drawn a sword from behind him at his back and left no doubt as to what would happen if Seth were to try that again.
“You can’t stop me,” Seth said to the warrior who stood there in defiance of him; a king. And he took a cautious step forward just to be brought up and lifted from the ground by another king.
“I can stop you,” Nolan said to the insane vampire in calm even tones. “You have no idea what the Circle has given me. I suggest you calm yourself before the power of the Circle pains us all for your attack.” Seth’s blood from his chest wound ran out and over Nolan’s black silk shirt. He looked into Seth’s eyes and knew they had made a great error, the man was insane. How could they have not seen it? He lowered Seth gently to the ground. “Go and clean yourself and then come back to the Circle,” he commanded.
“I do not answer to you,” Seth spat, but he began to calm enough that his eyes turned from red to brown as he looked at the King of Humans.
“No,” Nolan agreed, “But, like the rest of us, you answer to the Circle and your behavior will not be tolerated.”
“Rohan’s woman bled me!” the incensed vampire said.
“And you wish to harm her daughter. Consider yourself lucky and let it go,” Nolan told him.
Seth looked out into the room then and thought better of continuing his rage. Rohan was barely kept in check by Lucas who physically held the man, but only because Rohan allowed himself to be kept back. Raven stood near him as did Bronte and Dylan. Raven still had the gun out, but she carefully returned it to its place at her back as she now tended to her frightened daughter.
Pierce had come out and also had his gun drawn as he tried to determine the threat and saw the attacks on Rohan and Bronte. He said nothing, but took in the scene to determine what it might mean to him.
Nolan stood close by offering only advice now, but Seth did not like being handled by a human and he had already begun to calculate a way for revenge. He knew Nolan had no wife or child, but everyone loves someone and Seth would find out whom and Nolan would regret his error when he thought to challenge the Vampire King.
Nolan continued to look at Seth and could see the calculating bastard stare at him with hate. He could not use compulsion on him, and he could not harm him physically, but he saw the look and knew he would need to protect those he cared for.
Seth walked from the large room and into the antechamber and finally out of the building. He had gotten what he came for and now it was time to see what his new powers could do.
The kings gathered around Rohan and looked from his frightened daughter to him. Rohan felt their gaze like an accusation, and he felt the weight of what he had done.
“We did this,” Lucas said to the small group, “We all did.” Nolan nodded once in agreement and Pierce said nothing at all. “We must stop Rylan from sending Cyrus to Dark World.”
“The decision was made by the Vampire King,” Pierce finally spoke. “I’m not sure we can change it once it has been agreed.” He wasn’t saying it could not be tried, only that it was not known if it could be changed.
“We have to get to Cyrus’ house first,” Bronte interjected and brought the king’s attention to her. She was not crying, she was no longer frightened, she was pissed. It was time to take back what had been taken, and it would start with Aden. Seth had said he sent someone to the house to kill Aden, but Aden might not be dead yet and she intended to go to him, just as he had come for her. “Aden may not be dead. We have to try and save him from Seth’s people.”
“Stay here with Dylan,” Rohan told her as he looked to Lucas to ask him to come.
“No, I will not,” Bronte’s voice conveyed her decision to go and she would not be told otherwise. “Aden came for me, and now I will go to him. It’s time that you stop protecting me and start teaching me to save myself.” Her eyes pierced his gray ones and saw his jaw clench and unclench before he answered.
“Raven?” he said and his eyes glanced to his concerned wife.
“Yes Rohan?” She asked.
“Give her a gun,” Raven did not hesitate as he thought she might. She had no problem with teaching her daughter what they should have taught her long ago. She had taught her to shoot, and now she would teach her to kill. Her heart ached at the knowledge of it, but it was only right that it be them to teach her, and it was right to give her such a skill in the life she had been born to.
“I will try to contact Rylan,” Pierce offered, “And I will join you after I speak with him.”
“Very well,” Rohan said to rest, “We go to Virginia.”
Bronte followed the small group from the building and got into the car with Dylan, Lucas and her parents. Nolan took another car and they all sped toward Virginia, and Cyrus’ house.
Her mouth had gone dry from her fear. She could not speak, but no one spoke and so she only looked out the window. She sat between Lucas and Dylan and Lucas looked at her as she stared into nothing. His hand rested on her leg reassuringly. She looked into his face after some time had passed and saw his eyes fade to yellow as they approached the Virginia home. She felt the weight of the cold steel at her back where she had tucked the 9mm her mother gave her. It was similar to her own that she had lost somewhere during her kidnapping. She had never killed before, but she would tonight and she wondered how it would change her.
“Some people kill,” Lucas said to her quietly as he saw the emotions play across her features. She was so much like his daughter, Jordan, he took her hand and squeezed it before he let it go. “Some people deliver justice,” he told her. “We deliver justice, Bronte,” it was all he said before they saw the things walking about from the long driveway that led to the house.
“I hate zombies,” Raven said from the front as she pulled her gun and took the safety off. “Go for the head Bronte,” she instructed calmly. The car stopped and as they got out the things began to walk slowly toward them.