Council of Elders Ch. 00

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I don’t have an editor, so if you find any errors you must first take into account that I am British and spell things in UK English ie. “centre” rather than “center”. Anything else is just laziness on my part and must not be tolerated.

***

The Council of Elders had convened for the first time in five hundred years. Representatives of all the nations of the supernatural world were present: from the werewolves of the Americas, to the vampires of the European slums and even the abominations of the frozen Northern wastes. Every creature that dwelt under the beds of children or in the shadows of a darkened alley was advocated at the Council. Think of it as the UN of the Underworld.

Each member state belonged to a main faction, though – as in all politics – there were many blocs within them. The system had forged an uneasy accord between the previously warring groups, and the tenuousness of this peace was palpable in the main hall of the underground meeting place. The tension between the members of the council was so great that a raised voice or a rude remark could have been enough to collapse the entente and the world would have descended once more into chaos it hadn’t seen since the Dark Ages.

The giant semi-circular room was centred on a dais on which the three heads of the Council were sat behind a great wooden table, carved with a design of the first war between their three races. The seats for the delegates were carved into the black marble of the room’s walls in levels so that, like an amphitheatre, everyone had a perfect view of the centre. The great room was lit only by a giant gothic chandelier that clung to the domed ceiling like a spider; the glass changed colour depending on the angle of sight so no two people could ever agree on the true nature of its fantastic beauty. The floor between the seats and the dais was covered in an exotic blood-red marble, supposedly stained thus by many generations of horrific battles.

The Triumvirate of Blood sat in silence on the raised platform while the crowd shuffled and fidgeted in anticipation. The eagerness to attack each other was matched only by curiosity, curiosity that could only be satisfied by the men on the dais. They sat in thrones carved from the bones of slain giants and each wore a wreath woven from the branches of the oldest tree in the world. No one but the three powerful men knew the reason for the gathering, so the crowd were excited to find out what news meant that they were all summoned at such short notice. The eldest Elder, a wrinkled and blind vampire, stood. The room was silent in an instant as every being stopped moving and froze in place.

“You have been called forth, from your homes and families, because we face a threat the likes of which we have never before encountered.” His voice was raspy and without accent but had a quality that meant that everyone in the room felt the words to their very cores. “The Triumvirate has received a vision, a vision that shows the destruction of all that we hold dear.”

“A great Darkness shall sweep through the lands of this world, it shall devour every atom of the world and when it is sated it shall burn the Earth in its wake.” The white-furred werewolf stood shakily and scanned the room with his future-clouded eyes. “It will rise from the Pit and we shall all be consumed.”

“The creatures of the world will cry tears of blood as the Beast ravages this planet, but the Creator will not act.” The third, a homunculus hewn from clay as old as the Earth itself, rose from his ivory throne and raised his arms in unison with the others. “All will perish, none will survive.”

They sat down and exchanged almost invisible grins at the effect of their showmanship on their captive audience. Shock had made the delegates forget their voices. Then shouts and screams exploded from the rows of seating in the room. Accusations of betrayal began to fly and if it weren’t for the lone homunculus, a war would have broken out.

“SILENCE.” He boomed in a voice as cold and unforgiving as time. The creatures stopped mid-attack and sat in their seats again, a few making threatening gestures at their sparring partners.

“No being of this world is in any way responsible for this. The envoy of our destruction comes from the Pit. We can only hope to save ourselves by working together.” Said the Vampire Elder.

“By fighting we only serve to aid the bringer of our demise. We must cooperate to hunt down he who would bring the Daemon into our reality.” The werewolf was both a seer and a politician and he knew a common enemy would do more good for inter-species relations than any peace treaty.

“Daemon?” Cried the representative of the Russian Vampire Coalition. “But they are just stories to scare hatchlings!”

A bolt of black lightning flew from the Vampire Elder’s outstretched hand and seared a hole through the arguer’s unbeating heart, turning him to ash that settled on the cold marble of the floor. The Elder had long since come to terms with the loss of the use of casino oyna his eyes and could sense the presence of anyone in the room by sound and scent alone. The blindness had taken him after his first vision hundreds of years ago, it was the price paid for seeing into the future – one lost sight of the present, literally.

“We three have meditated and each has received the same vision separately. This is no mere ploy to gain power or wealth. Oberoth, Malus and I have all seen what is to pass.” The Werewolf Elder said as a mutter raced through the audience. “The End is coming, and we have been given an opportunity to send it straight back to Hell.”

Despite his impossible age, Caesar was always charismatic to a fault and he knew his use of colloquialisms would stir up passion. Sure enough, several American wolves beat their chests in appreciation at the thought of killing something. Killing was something they excelled at, so they were always happy to go hunting.

“Calm yourselves children.” Said Oberoth with a wave of his stone hand, for all were but children to him. “A task like this will require skills from more than one person.”

A groan swept the hall. The homunculus expected them to hunt the Summoner together. Were it not for their sense of respect and the fear of being turned into a pile of dust, many would have spoken out. But as it was, they were forced to suffer in silence. The Triumvirate spoke again.

“A vampire and a werewolf will be chosen by their respective Elders this very night; they would travel at once and hunt the Summoner together.” Said Malus. “There is to be no mercy, no restraint. If the Daemon were to survive its infancy after being summoned, it will conquer the world.”

“We will separate for two hours and when we reconvene, we will make our decision.” Said Caesar. “We cannot tarry, for the fate of the world rests on our shoulders.”

A gong sounded and as the chandelier shock from the vibrations, the hall emptied of all but the three Elders. The noise of the delegates echoed down the long tunnel that linked them with the outside world and the Triumvirate waited until the last sound died away before they huddled together and spoke in hushed tones.

“This is wrong, they should hear the truth,” whispered Caesar. He hated to deceive his pack brothers in such a way; he was tasked with upholding laws, not breaking them.

“We cannot allow the child to be born; he will destroy all that we have created here. We will lose all of our power.” Hissed Malus, greediest of the three. “The murder of an innocent child is not something I consider lightly brothers, but all we have achieved in the last thousand years will be for naught if we do not act.”

“The child is no innocent, he will change the balance of the universe, we are tasked with maintaining that balance,” said Oberoth stoically, though he disliked the concept even more than the other two.

“But the change may be for the better, we don’t know what will happen!” said Caesar plaintively. “You cannot judge the child guilty before it commits a crime. You must-“

“NO!” boomed Oberoth. “We cannot allow it to live. You know your place!”

“Places be damned, I won’t stand for this!” Cried Caesar. “You lost all of your people in the last great war Oberoth; you cannot change that by destroying the child.”

“How dare you! You were not complaining when we first made this plan, neither was Malus. Cold feet are not acceptable at this stage.”

“I am not complaining, I just think we should wait to see how the child develops before we destroy it.” Muttered Malus under his breath.

“The child dies. End of discussion.”

“Fine! But on your heads be it if the child lives and decides to take revenge on us all.” Jeered Caesar.

“Who shall we select to do the deed?” asked Malus, a hint of bloodlust creeping into his voice. He would prefer someone who would take their time with the kill, someone who would make the child suffer for the actions he would otherwise go on to do.

“I know you Malus, and I can assure you that the executioners shall do their job cleanly and without… making a mess.” Oberoth said.

“A woman then? More likely to care for the child that way. More likely to make it as painless as possible.” Asked Caesar.

“Mmmmm… but she may be unable to take the final step. We should send a male along to ensure the success of the mission.” Said Oberoth with a glance at Malus’ disappointed face.

“A female wolf and a male vampire then?” He asked. “A female vampire would not show such compassion, even for an infant.”

“Very well.” Sighed Oberoth.

“I accept these terms.” Grunted Caesar.

Summoners were highly skilled in arcane arts so a head on assault would be impossible for any but the most skilled to attempt, this made the decision much more difficult as it was very rare to find an warrior both capable athletically and arcanely. The two assassins were chosen from the thousands of possibilities as the diplomats returned to their canlı casino seats the Triumvirate stood to speak.

“We have chosen those who shall carry out the destruction of the evil-doer.” Oberoth said loudly. “The vampire shall be Armando Natale. The werewolf shall be Rachel Victoria.”

The audience seemed to pull together as if to discuss the choices. Evidently, they were satisfied; the two candidates were well known for being contracted into doing hits on behalf of mortal employers as well as paranormal ones. This meant that they had experience in dealing with humans, which they would need to track down the Summoner. Each was present at the meeting and while the werewolf received howls of approval, the vampire merely accepted a few nods from his more conservative kin.

“These two shall fly to England this evening and attempt to locate the Summoner. They will deal with the threat and eliminate all chance of what we have seen happening in the future.” Malus gave an evil grin only visible to the other two.

“No mercy.” Choked Caesar with imperceptible tears in his eyes. “No restraint.”

“NO MERCY! NO RESTRAINT!” chanted the werewolves as the vampires stood to clap enthusiastically.

***

Six hours later the private plane from Italy touched down on a private airfield just outside Bristol, England. The two passengers jumped out and the plane took off again as they were walking into the distance. It was early, maybe 2am and the only light source for miles was the glittering motorway. The woman, Rachel, was slightly taller than the vampire was and as she turned to place a cautious eye on his feline face, he was forced to look up to meet her gaze.

“I don’t trust you, but for as long as this mission lasts I’m just going to have to. Just to let you know, I’m in charge. I lead. You follow. Got it?”

“Perfectly.” The Italian vampire hissed. “I’m quite happy for you to go first, puttana, just so long as it means you get killed first.”

They walked to the motorway through a field and as a passing car slowed to ask them if they needed to hitch a ride, Armando reached inside and snapped the driver’s neck like a twig, his white leather gloves preventing any fingerprints from being left on the still body. He held the driver-side door open for the werewolf and when he was sat in the other side, he gestured for her to drive.

They sped into the night but as the sun rose after hours of driving, the only noticeable effect on the vampire was putting on a pair of designer dark glasses that materialised from his jacket pocket. At 10am, they arrived in the small town of Little Murton and arranged to spend the night in an outrageously expensive B-and-B that night. They scoped out the area and they could both smell the metallic taint of magic in the air, it was centred on a small house on the opposite side of a fountain that the B-and-B faced.

“I can almost taste the power. It’s so close, humming beneath the surface of the Earth. How can these stupid humans not sense it?” asked Rachel when they were sat outside the only cafe in the town.

“I’m afraid that they don’t have your nose darling.” Said Armando as he sipped gently on his cappuccino. “It’s not their fault; they just don’t have our talents. Why do you think my kind treat them like they’re food.”

“But come on! They can’t be that dumb, can they?” She slurped noisily on her coffee.

“I suspect that they do feel something, but it’s like an echo of an echo to them. They’re not stupid, they just have… limitations.” He gave her a raised eyebrow.

“I suppose you’re right. Never mind, eh?”

They faked going to bed that night and wished the nice couple who owned the house pleasant dreams. Later they jumped out of the window of their room and moved silently to the other side of the street, beyond the fountain.

“You’ve finally got here then?” came a voice from behind them. “I was expecting a whole battalion or something, but I suppose those old farts thought that it would create a bit of suspicion among the locals.”

The old woman who stood in the fountain had appeared from nowhere and as they stared in shock at her, she began to melt into the water.

“I’m not going to run you know.” The words seemed to echo through the cobbled street beneath their feet. “I’m going to kill the both of you and get on with my mission.”

Suddenly a razor thin jet of water spouted from between the werewolf’s legs and she barely managed to dodge it before another came from beneath her new position. Her leg was caked in matted blood, but as she jumped away, the wound began to seal itself leaving just a white scar. Her red dress was cut to ribbon and she flung it off to reveal a lycra bodysuit that fit her every curve. She back flipped onto a car and landed so lightly that the alarm never went off.

A blade of ice sliced through the centre of the car and nicked her foot, which suddenly turned black as though frostbitten. The woman reformed as the werewolf landed and lost her footing. The vampire kaçak casino moved like lightening and pierced the woman’s neck with his extended canines but she simply moved on and he was left with a ball of ice stopping his jaw from closing. He bit through it in one swift crunch and he felt a few of his teeth break and fall out. They would be regrown by the morning but it still irked him and he drew a short sword from his jacket and lunged.

The sword cut straight through the old woman’s body, but she simply kept moving steadily towards the collapsed werewolf with murder in her eyes. He looked around for something to attack with and his eyes settled on table outside the closed cafe. The saltshaker was still on it and he dove for it. He grabbed it and in one swift movement, he unscrewed the lid and showered the Summoner in salt.

She cried out in agony as the salt began to pull her apart at the molecular level and turned to face the vampire. A spear of ice formed in her outstretched hand and she threw it with an agility that belied her apparent age. It struck him directly over the heart and as he blinked in surprise at the attack and turned to ash, the woman turned back to the werewolf.

Rachel saw what was left of her partner blow in the light breeze as the Summoner advanced on her.

“Please… let me go. I won’t come back. I’ll tell them that I killed you. You’ll never be bothered again.” She was begging for her life, but it was no use.

“They won’t believe you Dearie. They know what happens when a Summoner dies, they aren’t expecting you to come back.” The old woman had a kind smile but still walked closer and closer to her.

“What do you mean?”

“When our mind leaves our body, the magic stored in it… Never mind. You won’t ever have to see it Dearie.”

“Wanna bet?” Rachel had been focussing all of her energy on healing the wound and staying conscious, and in the brief moments Armando had given herself she had achieved both. With a roar that shook the houses, she began to change.

Every bone in her body broke, every sinew and fibre tore and every muscle contracted till it ripped. Her spine reformed and extra vertebrae grew from nowhere. He face began to morph into a lupine snarl and as she finished her transformation, she lunged at the old woman. She tore right through her and while the aquatic body did not shed blood, the old woman needed a few seconds to pull herself back together.

With hands that, despite the excruciating process, had retained thumbs, she grabbed another saltshaker from a cafe table. She tore of the lid and hurled the contents at the stationary pensioner. The small crystals struck the areas where there were still gaping holes and the moment they touched down the water turned back into flesh. The old lady screamed as blood began to gush from a wound that travelled straight through her right lung and out the other side. Rachel walked over and shook out the few crystals that had stuck to the inside of the saltshaker. The old lady moaned as she died, floating in a pool of her own blood.

“I guess you beat me Dearie. But don’t you worry – you haven’t changed a thing. You see, the final ingredient in my summoning was a sacrifice, not the namby-pamby goat kind, the Incan kind.” The old crone laughed. “The vampire stopped being human years ago, and your soul is tainted with the blood of the innocent. But me, I’m still very much a mortal. I go to Church and everything.” Rachel began to run from the cackling woman that lay on the blood-splattered cobbles but it was too late, far too late.

The light left the woman’s eyes while the laughter still echoed in the air and the conscious mind that had contained the magic faded. The Summoner’s body detonated with the force of a nuclear explosion. Everything in a half-mile radius was blasted by an explosive bubble of pure power. There was no mushroom cloud, no sign from above that something had happened. Just a landscape of smoking fields and dead trees.

***

When the emergency vehicles reached the crater, they were looking for survivors in the dead space. There was a sound that cut through the sirens and the phone calls to headquarters. A baby was crying somewhere in the wreckage of the town. The chief of police shoved his way through the crowd of rookie detectives and reporters until he reached the centre of the town.

There, sitting in a scorch mark the size of a little old woman next to the ruins of a fountain, was a little baby boy wailing like a newborn. “How the fuck did you get here little guy?” he asked with all the tact of a dead slug. “You know what, don’t answer that.”

The baby was still trying to let everyone in the vicinity know that his lungs worked, but as the Police Chief stooped to pick him up, he suddenly fell silent. The Chief held him in the crook of his arm and stared into eyes as black as the depths of space. The baby smiled up at him and began to giggle, grabbing at his unshaved chin and generally being an adorable nuisance. He and Elaine had been trying to get pregnant for five years but had given up when they had learned that Elaine had an inhospitable womb and could not bear children. Right that moment, staring into the baby’s eyes, the Chief made a decision.

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