The Children's Song


Disclaimer: I own none of the original characters from K:tE

We are Children.
We come forward to claim our right.
We are many.
We are invisible.
Eons ago we lived in war.
Until humans rose against us.
Long ago, we hid ourselves.
Long ago, others hid with us.
We honor this tradition.
We honor the giving.
Now, the time has come to choose again.
Who shall stand.
Who shall die.
It is an honor.
Come.
Come.
Come and die.
For the honor of us all.

*                         *                             *                      *                                   *

The sound of ripping paper shattered the silence of his Haven.

Daedalus opened the envelope with care.

The handwriting was foreign to his eyes.

But the mark on the seal was familiar.

He had been dreading this moment.

He knew what it was.

He had seen his sire open a similar one before.

He knew the words, even before he read them.

And dreaded the consequences of it.

Daedalus opened the folded paper.

We honor you.

Was all it said.

All it needed to say.

He knew the Children were in town. He had been hoping that they would move on before this came. 

He did not want to do this.

Daedalus crushed the paper in his hands, as if by the very act he could erase its words, and their implied meaning.

The conclave met tonight, then his part would be over.

He did not envy Julian's decision.

                     *                                   *



It moved, flitting from place to place.

It did not mind the coolness of the tunnels, or the damp that seemed ever-present.

It enjoyed the feeling of flying.

“Come down from there,” a harsh voice demanded.

Flaugh heaved a sigh. There would be no more flying. It was time to prepare.

Flaugh had chosen to volunteer for the honor of the Breed.

Flaugh descended, shifting into a more solid form.

Flaugh was a Mistwraithe, a  rare form of Breed that never grew more than four feet high. It had no sexual organs, and either looked like a boyish girl, or a girlish boy.

Its limbs were very long and spindly, almost like a praying mantis.

Flaugh could fold its hands and feet, and curve them to make them look like part of the limb, giving it even more of an insect like look. It had very short black hair, that never grew past the nape of its neck. 

Flaugh did not like to wear clothes, and often was in trouble with its parent because of this, but 

Flaugh could never see the point in covering what was not there.

But the best thing it liked about its body was the misting.

Flaugh had learned, that with concentration, it could turn to mist and rise on the slightest puff of wind.

Tunnels were especially good for this, as puffs of wind were often trapped, and Flaugh could catch one of these and float around for hours on it.

But now it was time to prepare for the coming ceremony.

 Flaugh’s mother had cried the night that Flaugh volunteered.

“Not you, not my baby.” She had wailed long into the night.

Flaugh had been surprised at its mother’s reaction.

Flaugh saw no reason to be sad. It was an honor to serve the whole, and since Flaugh would never be able to have children, and most Mistwraithes did not live past their twentieth year, it saw no harm in giving that which was the only thing it could give; its life.

Flaugh’s father had tried to explain the pain that its mother was feeling.

“She gave you life, and with that,” his father had sighed, “she gave you her heart. I know you feel that you cannot contribute to the greater good, but you have given your mother a great gift in just being born.” His father looked at his misshapen offspring and smiled. His massive lion-like head tilted to one side, he reached out with his huge hands and stroked Faugh’s cheek. “We are dying. Not many are born these days, and not many survive, even in the best of places. So any child born now is a gift from the ancients. We are not long for this world. Ours is a time long past, our traditions will be lost, our language no longer spoken. But our spirits will live, in those we have touched.”

“That is why I must do this” Flaugh stated flatly, “I can only pass what I am in the honor.”

“Is it so important?” its father questioned.

“We must be remembered, even if it is not by our own kind.”

“But they are Kindred,” its father warned, “they will not see the beauty of us, but only what is on the surface. Our songs will be denied; only our strengths will be remembered.” 

“But a Mistwraithe’s blood is strong, and can-not be drained by just one,” Flaugh smiled, “ it would give too much advantage to just one clan. Our strengths will be remembered by some, but is there not also a clan devoted to beauty?”

“A Mistwraithe is very clever too,” its father smiled, a smile that looked more like a grimace from a wild beast. ”Come, my clever one, we need to placate your mother.”

“She will see the worth of the honor.” Flaugh assured. “I am already seventeen seasons old, 
I do not have long to live. This is the only way a piece of me will live beyond the boundaries of this world.”

                    *                            *                               *                                *

The conclave fell silent as Daedalus began to speak.

“The Children of Breed are in the city,” He paused, “They wish to honor us.”

“What the hell are Children of the Breed?” Cash let slip out of his mouth.

“I thought they were just a myth, made up by the Toreadors.” Cameron leaned forward in his seat.

“They are an ancient race,” Daedalus began to explain.

“Archon said that they were to be avoided.” Julian looked at Lillie who nodded. “That was all he told me.”

“The Toreadors, have legends about them, but mainly just stories, not facts. I thought they had died out.” Lillie seemed surprised. 

“No,” Daedalus sighed “They exist still, but they are not great in numbers any more. Humans and time have taken their toll.” Daedalus seemed uncomfortable and shifted in his chair. “They would honor us with a sacrifice.”

“Sacrifice?” Julian exclaimed, puzzlement and outrage clear in his voice.

“Sacrifice.” Daedalus stated, “It was a tradition started long ago, during the Inquisition. Kindred, mostly Nosferatu, needed a safe haven. The Children offered sanctuary, we took it. Many Nosferatu refused to feed, and they became weak. A Child offered his life for the well-being of the Nosferatu and all other Kindred in the care of the Children. It was then that the discovery of transference was made. Children of the Breed have unique and varied powers. Some may change shape, others can fly, others still have certain elements that when combined with Kindred blood give us extra powers. These powers do not fade, and they become part of that clan’s powers, passed from one generation to the next.” 

“Who gets the power?” Cameron sat forward in his seat, almost salivating at the thought of extra power for his clan.

“All the Primogens of the clans take part.”

 Daedalus saw the disgust on Julian’s face.        

“Is the sacrifice necessary?” Julian tried to find a way out of the situation, “If it was just a one-off thing that has become a tradition, perhaps there is a way of avoiding the killing of one of these Children.”

“No” Daedalus said sadly. “After the first sacrifice, the inquisition found a cache of Children. They tortured and killed many of them. The Nosferatu clan called for the rescue of the cache. Many Kindred died in the attempt. It was after that the Children gave the only gift that they could, transference. Since the Children did not wish to offend any of the clans, they deemed it necessary to give the power to all the clans. They asked that all the Primogens be allowed to partake in the sacrifice.”

“And there is no way of avoiding this?” Julian asked.

“No” Daedalus stated.

“How will it be done?” Julian’ eyes seemed to plead with Daedalus, hoping he could suggest a way out.

“It is done in front of all Kindred,” Daedalus said in a voice devoid of all emotion. “A great ceremony is held, usually in the Elysium of the prince.”

“That would be the Haven!” Lillie put in.

“If you are not willing...” Cameron let the statement hang in the air.

“You would love that” Cash growled at him.

“Enough!” Julian stopped the argument before it began. “We have no choice?” 

“You may reject the sacrifice,” Daedalus watched as hope appeared on Julian’s face, “But by doing so you condemn the whole of that cache, to death.”

“All of them?” 

“Down to the last Child, no matter how old.”

 Daedalus watched as Julian’s face clouded over at the thought of women and children dying because of his rejection. “The Children took Kindred lives when they first arrived. Hunting us, as they had been hunted in the east. Believing they were protecting themselves and their off-spring. After the meeting of Kindred and Children, they saw their error. Children hold all life sacred, even ours. They believe that to kill unnecessarily is monstrous, and unredeemable. They killed unnecessarily, a mistake, yes, but still an unforgivable sin. Therefore to redeem their honor, they give to us the only gift that brings us life. Transference. To reject the sacrifice, is to say they are monsters.”

“I understand.” Julian accepted .

“When will it happen?” Cameron asked, salivating at the prospect of the transference.

Julian looked at Daedalus.

“At the next full moon,” 

“Three days” Julian sighed.

                      *                           *                           *                        *

Julian descended the stairs that led to  Daedalus’ haven.

“There is little point in fighting it, Julian” Daedalus spoke before Julian had entered.

“I know.” Julian sighed, “but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. Tell me more of these Children, where do they come from, and how did they come to be?”

“The only stories come from long ago.” Daedalus moved to a small table and poured two glasses of wine. Offering one to Julian, he waved him to two wing-backed chairs. “It is said that they came from the east, China and India. They came from a war with the Kindred to the east. It is said that this is the reason that Kindred in the far east are so different to us, they took  the blood of the Children of the Breed by force. They also fought with us, but since we did not hunt them, as the eastern ones did, they did not purposely seek our extinction, nor did we seek theirs. We simply avoided each other. On the rare occasion that the two races did meet, Children and Kindred killed, without question. Then when the Inquisition started, one of their Caches took pity upon those dying in the sunlight. It was then that they realized that not all Kindred were like those they had left behind.”

“What will the ceremony be like?” Julian asked.

Each cache has their own tradition. They will arrange it, we only need to
turn up."

"I still don't like it."

"It was meant as a gift. Even an unwelcome gift should be received with
diplomacy."

"I take your warning old friend, I will be a paragon of diplomacy." Julian
sipped his wine, "I'm curious," he began, "How did they enter the city with
no one knowing?"

Daedalus sighed, "They move like the Nosferatu, we knew they were here." 

Julian looked at him accusingly.

"It is a tradition among us to keep each other's secrets. If the Children
wish their presence  to be known, then we inform the prince. If they do not wish to disturb
the Kindred, and are just passing through, then we ignore them. It goes
back to when Kindred and Children fought. It was a way of avoiding conflict
between the two."

Daedalus and Julian sat in silence.

Daedalus knew the pain Julian felt at the thought of the sacrifice, but

could do nothing to relieve it.

                    *                      *                        *                       *

The ceremony had been arranged.

All the clans were assembled in the Haven, breathlessly waiting for the appearance of the Children of the Breed. Most  of them had never seen The Children of the Breed. A few older ones had, but they said little. Saying only, “Wait and see.”

Julian stood at the head of the Primogens.

Daedalus at his left, Cash at his right. Lillie and Cameron just behind him.

They stood at the far end of the bar, away from the curving staircase that led to the second floor.

Music began.

It was soft, floaty, almost ethereal.

Julian saw no band.

Daedalus touched Julian’s arm, and nodded towards four figures descending from the top of the stairs.

Julian looked and saw  they were draped in thick filmy material. He could see no instruments, and realized that they were singing.

A procession of impossible figures began to appear.

No two were alike. All were different variations of nightmarish proportions.

The Children had arranged themselves from tallest to shortest on the stairs, the tallest being at the bottom.

The assembled Kindred almost seemed to gasp at once, as their eyes beheld what no mortal would ever be able to comprehend without going insane.

Horns sharp and short protruded above a face that looked like it would be more at home in a pasture than on an elegant staircase.

Skin that wrinkled and writhed as if alive.

Teeth, large and sharp.

Hooves instead of feet.

Claws instead of hands.

Armor instead of skin.

Bones that protruded through skin, razor sharp and ready to cut.

Spines that could be fired at one’s enemy.

Faces of impossible countenance, that eyes could only glance at. For to look to long would be to fall into the abyss of insanity.

“The time has come.” A voice boomed from the top of the stairs.

All eyes turned to see this new figure. He was tall, with pale, almost translucent skin. The backs of his arms were covered in thick spikes. His face was pulled and distorted, making his appearance even more absurd, as he spoke a language that was never meant to come out of his malformed mouth.

“Long ago we came, our lands taken from us. Our Caches decimated. We left our ancient lands, to find peace. We came to your land, and attacked you as if you were the enemy we left behind. We warred with you in error. Until all our kind, Kindred, Garou, Children, and others, were attacked by those who live in the light. We opened our home to you in a time of great need, and in turn, you sacrificed for us. Now we sacrifice for you. To right the wrong, that stains our honor. We ask for forgiveness, and give you this life, to strengthen your clans.” 

The speaker lifted his arm and pointed to Flaugh.

Flaugh stepped forward and began to descend the stairs.

It wore only a cape of soft chiffon, which floated about its thin body.

It did not feel frightened or nervous. Such feelings were not available to it now. The 
preparations had left it devoid of all feeling.

As it reached the bottom of the stairs, Flaugh looked at the Primogens and spoke.

“There is no life without sacrifice.”

“There is no honor, without the sacrifice.”

“There are no Children of the Breed, without the Kindred.”

“I give myself to you, in honor of your sacrifice.”

“I give my blood to strengthen your clans.”

Flaugh moved towards the Primogens. 

He stood before Cameron.

“To you I give my strength.” Flaugh took a deep breath and thought of his strength.

Cameron pierced the offered wrist and drank.

He felt the power of the Mistwraithe as he drank. There was a heady feeling of strength that almost burned his blood as he accepted the sacrifice. He saw battles of great and titanic proportions. Felt the thrill of battles won, and the defeat of battles lost. He heard the war cries of the ancient ones. Felt the power of command, heard the cries of victory howled in the night.  He drew back his head, and howled his delight, as the heady feeling of victory pulsed in his blood. 

Flaugh pulled his wrist back.

“To you I give my cunning.” He gave his wrist to Cash.
Cash drank, feeling the cunning of the Children flow through him, seeing the tricks they used to hide themselves. Saw how they avoided humans, and their traps. Felt the strategies of long dead leaders. Learned the art of tracking, even over stony ground. Learned to detect even the most minute sound, and see the smallest detail. He felt the exhilaration of the hunt, heard the joyful shouts of success, and felt his blood pump with the joy of being free.

Cash laughed as he pulled his head back. 

Flaugh pulled his wrist back.

“To you I give my forgiveness.” He pressed his wrist to Daedalus’ mouth.

Daedalus drank.

He felt the blood pour into his mouth, felt the forgiveness in its content. Saw the faces of many before him, saw them mouth the words, ‘forgiveness starts from within.’ Saw reflected into his own soul, that he was not a monster. He heard the words, “Your soul is faceless.”
Daedalus felt almost as if a physical burden had been taken from him, and now he was free.

“Thank you,” he said as he pulled his mouth away, a blood tear, drifting down his face.

“To you I give my beauty.” Flaugh said to Lillie.

Lillie drank, closing her eyes she saw the music and arts of the Breed flowing from Flaugh into her veins. She saw the different instruments they used, heard their music, so sweet, so beautiful. Saw the paintings and models made by them. Her eyes filled with the beauty that was The Children of the Breed, and knew the beauty they carried inside. A beauty that was never meant to be hidden.

Lillie smiled, as she drew away. Held it’s hand for minute, she reached out and stroked it’s 
cheek.

Flaugh pulled his wrist away.

“And to you, I give my knowledge, use it wisely,” he said to Julian.

Julian drank.

He began to see the past the present and the future of Children. He saw that in preparations for the ceremony, Flaugh had divided itself from pain, and emotion. Flaugh was already gone, its spirit divided into sections to be given to the Kindred. Julian realized that Flaugh was giving him the genetic memory it had been born with. The power to pass on knowledge, from generation to generation, from Father to son, mother to daughter. He saw and he knew, and he wanted more. Knowledge of every kind filled his mind. So quickly and easily, that he barely had time to acknowledge each bit of information that was passed to him.

He drank deeply, hungrily, greedily.

Julian drank until all was gone.

Flaugh was laid on the floor.

“He is dead,” Julian said to the thing on the stairs.

“The sacrifice is complete.”

“What shall we do with the body?” Julian looked as the Children began to leave.

“It is an empty shell, devoid of life. Do with it as you may.”

The Children departed, as quickly and quietly as they had come. 

                 *                          *                       *                       *

Daedalus heard Julian coming.

Knew that Julian was troubled about what had occurred at the Haven that night.

He poured two glasses of wine and waited in one of two chairs, before the fireplace.

“Daedalus?” Julian called as he stepped though the door of the library.

Daedalus looked up, “You’re troubled,” he said simply.

“Yes.” Julian took the seat and the proffered glass of wine. “I didn’t think it would be like that.”

“Each Cache has a different ceremony.” Daedalus said neutrally.

“Not that....” Julian gazed into the fireplace, watching its light as it flickered.

“What then?” Daedalus prodded, although he knew what Julian wanted to deny.

“I didn’t want to stop.” He confessed.

“I know,”

Julian snapped his head around to look at Daedalus’ calm face.

“It happens,” Daedalus shrugged, “A Mistwraithe is very powerful, in that it can control what it gives to a Kindred. And knowledge, is like a drink without end. The more you have, the more you want.”

“Is it always like this?”

“No,” Daedalus leaned forward and put his hand on Julian’s shoulder. “It knew you did not want to kill it. It also knew that you had to, for the sake of the Cache, and your position as prince. It made you thirst for more, until you had killed it.”

“Is that possible?” 

“Yes,” Daedalus paused, “I only saw it once before. The sacrifice was not a Mistwraithe though.”

“Then how do you know?” Julian eyed him with suspicion.

“The same way you do:” Daedalus looked him in the eye. “Flaugh,” Daedalus paused as he thought of the Mistwraithe. “Flaugh, gave me not only forgiveness for myself and my clan, but it imparted to me a small piece of what it was. I think you will find that it did that to all the Primogens. It was its way of having children.”

Julian thought, and as he thought, Flaugh began to float in his mind. Julian smiled, as he saw a young Mistwraithe, floating in the tunnels, felt its freedom, felt the love that it had for its family. Julian looked at Daedalus, and saw a smile on his face. Then he knew, Flaugh, as he knew its name to be, Flaugh had given each of them a part of itself, and a part of the Children. And that would always survive, as long as Kindred walked the earth.

end

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