Disclaimer: Don't stake me out in the sun! I hate being red! So really, don't sue me for toying with the characters of Kindred: The Embraced... I haven't claimed them... yet...
Strong storm winds blew through the town of San Francisco. Archon ran a hand through his white hair and sighed heavily. The bickering had begun as all the clans vied for the right to choose a Prince from their clan. There was no doubt in the Ventrue's mind that war was on the horizon.
Archon glanced around, scanning the streets for prey. It the rain started, the city would be quickly transformed into a mud hole. He didn't want to become the filth that inhabited the new born city, but the Beast was gnawing at his sanity.
As the night wore on, he still had no success. The tiny water droplets began to fall and the pattering sound they made seemed to spite him. no matter how strong he was, he didn't control the weather.
Then he saw movement that wasn't from a horse. He smiled, thankful for his change of luck. He picked up his pace and his mood lightened. As he got closer, he began to see this person in the dim lights from the surrounding houses. The stranger's wet hair was black but lacked the distinctive sheen of true black. his face looked tired even though he seemed to be around twenty-six. But what was truly surprising was that he was in the rain and Archon's sharp senses detected no trace of alcohol.
A flash. The Ventrue saw the glint of light off metal. It was almost too faint even for his eyes, but it made no difference to the fact that there was a knife in the young man's hand. Archon would have to think quickly if he was to claim his prize.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
The young man's eyes glanced up angrily at him.
"What business is it of yours?" he snapped.
"It is my business if someone dies at my feet..."
"What do I care? I've lost everything I have to live for. So if you don't like it, I think you need to be walkin' somewhere else." he grated out before jamming the knife into his stomach.
Archon bent over and bared his fangs. The mortal must have seen him for he began to struggle. He pinned down his prey even as he marveled this mortal's will to die without being corrupted. It occurred to him that he might as well have this strength added to his brood instead of leaving him to die after his meal.
"No!" he heard the strangled moan as he bit deep into the man's throat.
Drawing what was left of his victim's blood, Archon had to pry his future childe's jaws open and force the almost dead man to swallow the blood poured into his mouth. Ironically, the very life he had tried to end had forced the young man to live. He pinched his nose tight and forced him to swallow. Now, however, he would be immortal.
Archon watched as his new childe passed out. With a grunt, he picked up the fledgling and carried him back towards his house. Though the peace was not to last. Lightning flashed in the distance and the rain started to pour.
His burden started to struggle after a while. Archon was caught off guard and lost his balance, dropping the newly made Ventrue. With a growl, the infant sprinted off into the back alleys and disappeared.
Archon got to his feet and ran after him, but it was too late. The rain had made seeing worse and the sent was washed away.
"Damn!" he swore.
He would have to find this new childe of his before the sun came up, or he would probably die from it. Archon stole a horse and rode home as fast as he could.
"Marlaina!" he yelled as he burst through the doors.
His childe's beautiful, yet angry, face appeared around the corner.
"What?!?" she snapped irritably before her sire dragged the taller woman to him by her long, wavy brown hair.
"I haven't the time or the patience to argue with you! Now listen and do as I say for once. I have just lost your new brood brother. He is acting out of fear and you know what will happen if he gets caught in the sun..."
One of her hands reached up and yanked his hand out of her hair. She stood up straight and glared at him with brown eyes that burned like the fire raging in her soul. Her finely toned muscles twitched in anticipation... Ever ready for a challenge, she nodded.
"Another one of your mistakes, Archon? How many more will you steal humanity from?"
"Hush girl! You will do as I say!" "Or what, Archon? I didn't ask for this! I didn't ask to be dragged into your hell! Don't blame me for your problems. I will look for him only because I know the feeling of not knowing what you are or how to ease the pain."
With that, she stalked off through the house giving orders left and right. Archon smiled when she wasn't looking. No matter what happened between them, he would always love her in a special way. But he cursed the Ventrue blood in him that he knew made it impossible for her to be herself. He cursed the blood that overruled his feelings and even his sanity... The blood that made him dominate her in so many ways. Archon dreaded the day that he knew would come. The day he would driver her away.
Archon glanced up at the ceiling. He still remembered that day. he had saved her from the mob. She was to be burnt at the stake. He had seen her potential. Never would he have lived with himself if he had seen such a tragic waste caused by such a terrible death. But then she would never understand.
Marlaina pushed the entire Ventrue clan into action, but she knew they would probably not be enough. She ran to the one person she knew could help.
"Daedalus?" she called into the Nosferatu's haven after traversing the all too familiar tunnels.
Daedalus looked up expecting the wild Ventrue woman to start one of her philosophical arguments again.
"What is it, Marlaina?" he asked.
"I have to find someone before the sun comes up. Archon has embraced again and he lost this one. I have a strange feeling that we need to find him first. If we don't we'll never get the story out of him."
Daedalus nodded grimly. "you are right. No matter how much I respect Archon, your sire has a way of ensuring that his childer keep what he wishes others not to know a secret."
"Being their past and the circumstances of their embrace..." she seethed.
"Don't worry, I will find the boy." he promised.
Marlaina caught his arm as he started for the tunnels. Her eyes filled with determination.
"Don't let Archon have him! Don't let him be the same as all the rest!"
The Nosferatu looked at her with sorrow before clasping her hand and pulling slightly out of her reach.
"I must give your sire his childe..." he paused, "But I can try to leave who he is now intact."
"Thank you," she whispered after him as he faded from her sight.
She stayed for only a moment before going back the way she came. Two chances were better than one.
Daedalus continued his search. He hadn’t found a trace of the boy yet and the birds were starting to sing. The sun was coming, leaving little time to find the new Ventrue. The clan’s think blood would change him faster. It would only be a matter of time before the sun took its toll.
He remembered something. A faint smell back by the old Catholic Church. His backtracking rewarded him with a small spot of blood that had been sheltered from the rain. It was Kindred and Ventrue no less. Daedalus smiled slightly at the irony before he entered the dark building. As his gaze swept through the church, he saw the fledgeling. There, among the pews, the boy huddled. Moving towards him, the old Nosferatu lit a candle and brought it with him more for the other’s benefit than his.
“You’ve come for me.” the new Ventrue said, looking up as Daedalus approached.
He froze. “Yes.” came his simple reply. He wouldn’t insult the intelligence of the man by asking him how he knew.
A pair of calm eyes, one black, one brown, leveled on him. Slowly, the young man nodded.
“I have seen others, like the creature who made me like you, huntin’ for me. You’re like them too. You wouldn’t be searchin’ for me if you wasn’t.” he said with a think accent.
“Where are you from?” Daedalus asked, trying to remember having ever heard the way of speaking before.
“New Orleans.” he replied blandly.
Yes, it fit. New Orleans. Except that the southerner’s reply was pronounced more like New Orlns, completely dropping the ‘ea’ out of the last word.
“What am I? I saw them turn to dogs and birds. I saw some o’ them in the day. But you don’t look like them. You a different kind?”
Daedalus sat down beside him and sighed. “You are Kindred...”
And so the explanation went on. He was surprised that the newly made had few questions. As Daedalus told him of all the clans and their weaknesses, he seemed to be thinking fast. His questions were direct. All of them asked ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I?” The Nosferatu could tell then Archon would have to fight him all the way as he had done with Marlaina . He was the kind of person who would take suggestions, but never would he accept orders.
“What is your name?” the elder asked finally.
The boy ran a hand through his dark hair and sat back. “Julian Luna. You?”
“I am Daedalus. come we must go back to my haven before the sun rises.”
He rose and helped Julian to his feet. *The boy has a strong grip.* he thought absently to himself. They moved quickly, just beating the sun. But as Daedalus started down, Julian stopped and stared as the sun peaked over the hills. He smiled one last time in its warmth. Never again would he be able to do so without feeling pain.
The elder felt sorry for him as he watched the Ventrue turn reluctantly and follow him down the stairs. He would always remember his mortality... always cherish it.
Julian was unlike any other Kindred he knew. He was surprisingly open-minded. He accepted and ignored the horrid appearance of the Nosferatu. The touch of the wild was in him as it was in his new sister, yet he was calm and always had a reason for whatever he did. Though his temper burned hot right beneath the surface. Daedalus could sense that the young Kindred knew a lot more than he cared to say. Until he was sure about something, no word would pass through his lips concerning it.
But no matter how much Daedalus liked Julian, he would have to hand him over to Archon. He could see no way around it, yet he still longed to see the childe again.
“What would you do if something you liked had to be given over to someone else?”
Julian looked up at him. “That something is me? Well, he can’t just walk in here and drag me out. Bargain with him. It is under your terms. You aren’t my kind... With this war you say is startin, he can’t very well be sparin’ too many people to come get me.”
He was taken aback. It was so simple and he hadn’t thought of it before. Cursing himself for his blindness, he nodded.
“Stay here, please. I will come back.”
As Daedalus left, Julian attempted to sleep. He pulled off his shirt and laid down on the ground. But he couldn’t knowing what was going to happen. He got up and followed... Not bothering with the discarded piece of cloth.
Daedalus was admitted into the mansion unaware that Julian had followed him. Archon stood in the middle of the foyer. He glanced at the Nosferatu as he entered, fully aware his guest was older than he.
“Why are you here, Daedalus?”
He stared evenly at the first Prince of this new domain. If war broke out, the title would mean nothing.
“I have found your new childe.” he replied.
Archon froze in shock. He knew enough not to question how the Nosferatu knew. They usually did know almost everything. He was careful not to show too much though.
“Where is he? Did you bring him with you?”
“He was safe when I left him. If he did not stay, then I don’t know...” he paused as he felt Julian’s presence. Archon had obviously not noticed yet.
“I thank you for finding him for me. If he is still there, will you bring him to me?”
Daedalus shrugged. “I will try if I have your word you you will keep my request.”
The Prince looked at him with cold eyes. “Name it Daedalus.”
“No... I want Stevie Ray to witness it.”
Archon frowned. “Very well...” he was about to call for him when the person in question appeared.
The Gangrel was always around. He trotted in right on time as usual, his confused gaze settle on Daedalus.
“Did I miss something here?” he slurred.
Archon chose to ignore him and continue. “Stevie Ray, I have a new childe...”
“I know... Saw Marlaina rootin’ round out there last night. She wouldn’t me out there for nothin’ .“ Stevie butted in.
The Ventrue was irritated at the interruption “Before Daedalus will return him, he wishes that I give him my word in your presence. Make your request, Daedalus.”
“I wish that you allow Julian to visit me if he wishes.”
Daedalus almost winced as Archon’s expression showed confusion for a fleeting moment before covering it. Now he knew. Archon had not known this man before he was embraced. Julian had said it was painful. His sire hadn’t bothered to even ask his name.
Realization dawned on Archon. “I give you my word.”
The Gangrel’s eyes twinkled. “Since when did you become the strategist?”
The elder remained calm. “I am many things. But I do not take credit for other’s ideas.”
“Oh really. Then I would like to meet the person who thought of it.” Archon said sourly.
“Right here.” said the fledgeling moving into the light.
Stevie was taken aback. He had expected the normal Ventrue type. Scrawny, timid, minding their own business... Instead, it was muscle with an attitude. This man had the look of someone who had worked all his life. He had the unmistakable accent of a Louisiana man. The sudden image of eating alligators and snakes popped into his head. But the eyes were the worst. The black one caught and held his attention.
“I understand the clans we have a little. If I’m right, I’m Ventrue and my friend here is Nosferatu. What clan are you? Gangrel, Toreador, or Brujah?” “Gangrel.” Stevie said, finally making up his mind to give the newcomer his test of character.
He walked up and swung his fist at the man. Archon’s eyes widened in fury.
Julian saw it coming just in time. He felt his head whip back with mind numbing force as he was thrown to the ground. Instead of worrying about it, he got up and responded with a right hook to his attacker’s jaw. The impact would have shattered the Gangrel’s teeth if they hadn’t been clenched already. But he was still knocked to the ground same as his opponent had been moments before. Stevie looked up and grinned. Julian promptly returned the smile and pulled him to his feet.
Daedalus was relieved to see the glimpse of joy come from his young companion.
“Should’ve been Gangrel.” he whispered into Julian’s ear.
“Stevie...” growled Archon before returning his attention to his childe. “Julian, you look tired.” he paused, considering his words, “No matter how you look, I have a place for you to stay for a while.”
It was diplomatic. Julian nodded, glad that he might get some sleep. After all, it wasn’t as if they could do much more to him. But he didn’t let Archon take hold of his arm. Instead, he followed five paces behind, taking in all his surroundings. The room he was led to was a good size compared to his old one. Candles burned dimly around its perimeter. A huge rug, a nice bed, a couch, and some side tables adorned the room.
“You can have a bookcase if you wish.” Archon offered, “And if you want to bring anything, you can get it tonight.”
Julian nodded. He heard the door click shut and looked around a moment before blowing out the candles and laying down on the couch. As he stared blankly at the dark ceiling, he could help but wonder what the night would bring. Right before he drifted into unconsciousness, he heard his ‘sire’ call out angrily.
A growl resonated throughout the house. Archon was up in an instant. He ran to his new childe’s room only to find it empty.
“Oh no…” he breathed before moving back through the house again.
“STEVIE!” he yelled. “Get you Gangrels out and make sure no one leaves this house!”
Everyone else was thrown out so Archon could search the house. He didn’t need the fledgling lashing out at another one of his childer… or worse, a member of another clan.
Julian awoke from a deep sleep. After a while, he lost interest in his room and wondered what the rest of the house was like. He wandered aimlessly down the halls and into the unlocked doors. He found the stairs and heard someone else coming. He quickened his pace and held his head straight forward, feigning a purpose to his venture.
After the footsteps had faded, he slowed down and turned into the first door. Julian heard what he could only classify as a roar before a big, black, round object hit him upside the head.
Muttering curses under his breath, he put his hand to his head as he regained painful consciousness.
“You! You dare come in here!” came an angry female voice.
Julian looked up into a beautiful face. He sat up and winced dizzily. And then he fell back once more.
“I swear, miss… I just happened across here. What did ya hit me with?” he asked, trying to move away from the woman.
Her head turned away. “A frying pan. Look here spy, I don’t know what Archon wants now, but I have a job to do!”
“Archon?” he paused, remembering. “You mean the older one? He was the one that brought me here… made me like this. Like you I guess. What is he to you?”
Her eyes narrowed. “You ask a lot of questions for a man laid flat by a woman.”
Julian shrugged. “I just do.”
“Alright. He created me. That makes us relations of sorts. So he really didn’t send you?”
She shifted uncomfortably. “Well, I’m sorry about that pan.” She reached down and pulled him up. “The name’s Marlaina.”
“Julian.” He replied, grateful she was far away from the cast iron object.
“You’re not from around here are you?” she asked.
Julian smiled. “Now you’re the one with them questions.” And then she moved towards the kitchen item, “No, New Orleans.”
He glanced around. “So how did you end up here?”
Marlaina grimaced. “Same way you did.”
Julian nodded sadly.
“Well, you’re going to have to defend yourself around here. Do you know how to throw a knife?” she asked, pulling the weapon from the waistband of her pants.
The younger of the two just now noticed that detail. No respectable woman at the time would wear anything but a skirt.
“Alright, you might as well learn.” She gave him the dagger. “Show me how you would hold the knife to throw it.”
He complied and gripped the handle. Julian noticed Marlaina shaking her head.
“Turn it around. Hold the blade looser so you don’t cut yourself.”
The knifed shifted.
“Ok, now throw it straight our at the crack in the door.”
The knife flew, completely missing it’s target. It ended up in the wall. Julian winced.
“I’m sorry bout that miss…”
“Don’t you worry about that. Now, get it and throw it again. But first, Never let your arm point down. You’re just askin’ for trouble if you do that. Your arm should always be level. If what you’re throwing at is lower, your whole body goes down until you’re arm is level with it. You got that?”
Julian nodded and held his arm out. Marlaina moved over to him and helped him straighten his arm. Under her guidance, he threw it again. It stuck into the door close to the crack with a satisfying thud.
“You learn fast.” She said proud of her advise. “Do it again without my help.”
*Thud!* The blade slammed deep into the wood even closer to the target.
Archon was horrified to hear sickeningly loud noises from Marlaina’s room. He heard a pause and another thump before he forced the door open. His elder childe was dressed like a man. Julian was standing close to her, blocking her path to a cast-iron skillet. Though a valiant effort, it wouldn’t withstand Marlaina’s efforts.
“Marlaina?!” he yelled. “What are you doing?”
She shrugged. “Having a little fun. Thought he was your spy for a while there…”
“That hurt… leave the pans in the kitchen from now on please….” Julian added.
“I’m sure it did. Marlaina, leave him alone!” Archon said furiously before taking a hold of Julian and dragging him out the door.
Marlaina watched in amusement as the wood shuttered after their exit. Her sire had failed to notice the dagger that would have hit him if he had come to Julian’s rescue just a few moments before. But that was nothing compared to the pride she felt as she taught her fast-learning baby brother.
to be continued....