Castle Roland

The Prince of House Vladd

by Arthur


Chapter 9

Posted: 3 Mar 16


Copyright © 2010, 2016 by Arthur

Two text messages arrived at the same time, one to Gilliard Thomes, the other to Gregor Antovich, the message read.

'Urgent meeting, tonight, same place at 7.00pm'

The message was read by both men and they knew it was not a good sign, something had gone wrong, were they now both in danger, the vampires warning came back to their minds as they read the urgent message, both knew they would be at the meeting on time.

Peter and the others sat waiting for the Steven Chase to return. After an hour and a half, Peter looked at the banker just as the door opened and the secretary walked over to the older man.

"Mr. Chase, your son just called. He's going on to the club after lunch, then home to get ready for a meeting tomorrow in the Capital."

"Thank you, I'll call him at home later. Well gentlemen, it looks as though we will have to meet with him tomorrow. In the meantime, I plan to hold all further transactions of his until this is resolved. Of course all your losses will be covered by the bank and a full investigation will be undertaken. All I can do is tender my sincerest apologies to you and your Father. I'll have this sorted out by this time tomorrow, I promise."

The banker rose and offered his hand to Peter. It looked as though the meeting was over for now, nothing more could be done until the next day but Peter was in no real hurry. The leak had been plugged and the person found, it was only a matter of time before justice would prevail.

Peter lead the others from the office and down to the limo, once inside he looked at Swiftwing and gave a small grimace.

"It's not exactly what I thought would happen but we've got that other meeting tonight and tomorrow he will be dealt with. Let's go home for now and see what develops."

All three of the others agreed and the limo turned towards home, the boys in a sombre silence at the inconclusive nature of their day. On returning home Trantor let them inside, the house was a bustle of activity as the newly hired staff rushed around cleaning and setting things straight. The huge house was beginning to feel like a home to Peter. Swiftwing held onto Peters hand as they made their way towards the lift and eventually up to the office, followed closely by Levi and Caleb.

"Caleb can you go and get Trantor and bring him up here, please?"

"Sure Peter won't be a minute."

Caleb left and the others sat around and waited. Minutes later the lift opened and Caleb, along with Trantor walked into the room.

"Trantor, how is everything going for tonight’s meeting?"

"Everything is on target My Lord. Cook has all the food she needs and has got two helpers in there with her. The boardroom is set up and all you need is for the security guards to be told who is coming so they can let them through the gates."

"Thank you Trantor, that's all good, Caleb will tell the guards and be there with them to verify the visitors as they come in. Now how are my two boys doing?"

"They're excellent My Lord. I think they're a little in love with each other or they just like experimenting a lot when they think I'm not around." Trantor smiled.

"Thank you Trantor. Well it's 5:30 so I'm going to get a little rest before our guests arrive. Caleb, could you take Trantor down again and then set the guards straight."

Caleb smiled and nodded as he left with Trantor.

"I'm going out into the garden for a short while." said Swiftwing as Peter headed to the bedroom. "I'll come wake you at 7:30, love."

"Ok, but I'm going to miss you not being next to me." smiled Peter.

"Well just think of the long night to come, lover."

"Hmm, ok, that works for me." laughed Peter as he went into their bedroom and closed the door. Swiftwing walked to the balcony and, in a shimmer of soft light, transformed into a grey pigeon, he then flew down into the garden to sit on a branch, the leaves around him shivered as though cold and sent out misty green tendrils towards the Shaman.

7:00pm saw three men walk into a dingy bar down on the docks. Ignoring the barman, they went to a table tucked away in a dark corner. Apart from two other drinkers at the bar there were no others in the bar. The three men sat down at the table, the vampire was the first to speak.

"That idiot Chase has been found out. He's not in jail yet but I'm sure in about two days he will be. Also if he's under threat he will give us all away. Here's what I want you to do. Gregor, I want you to start recruiting men from your homeland, Thomes will sort out the visas for them, right?" the vampire looked at Gilliard Thomes for conformation.

"Get them into the country and hidden in some safe houses, we don't need them yet but the time will come soon, ok?" Gregor Antovich nodded his head in assent.

"Thomes, I need for you to get a couple of men immediately for a clean up mission, it's got to be done by tomorrow morning, those other three will be running by sunup, ok?"

"Yeah sure, no problem, how do I find them?"

The vampire handed over a sheet of paper with names and addresses on it.

"Here, make it as messy as you like but also make it look like a robbery, anyone interferes then don't leave any witnesses."

"Good as done, is that all?"

"For now, yes. I'll call you tomorrow to see that you've both got things under control."

The three men rose from the table and left the bar without looking around; the barman kept his eyes on the bar and didn't look up as they went out.

For Steven Chase it had been a long and now, frightening day, he had called both Simon and Michael to let them know but what worried him the most was his inability to contact the other three. Finally he had called it quits and decided along with the other two, that they would take the first flight out of the country in the morning. The money was not as much as they were hoping for but along with other investments he would do ok. As far as he was concerned, his skin was the most important.

Steven pulled his Beemer into the garage and closed the door, his wife should be upstairs and his teenage daughter was probably out with a new boyfriend. Sighing heavily, Steven opened the door from the garage to the house and walked in, his wife was standing at the breakfast counter a bemused look on her face.

"What's wrong hon.?"

"Just got off the phone with your father, he sounded a bit upset. What's going on Steve?"

"I don't know hon, must be something at the office. I'll call dad in the morning."

Steven walked away from his wife and into the lounge room, there, he helped himself to a large whiskey and tried to make his plans for tomorrow. Plans that didn't include his money hungry wife and spoilt daughter. Plans that would set him free again to play the field in a country with no extradition treaties. What puzzled him was how did that stupid little vampire kid work out what was going on so soon. They should have had at least a month, that would have given them a good 20 million to play with, damn the little vamp.

Steven Chase sighed again and began to run through what he would need to take with him and most of all, how he could do it without raising suspicion from his nosey wife.

The six men looked at the address list and gave a small nod to their boss. Theirs was not to question why, just do the job and get out safe. They paired up and took off in three shiny black SUV's, each going out in a different direction, the orders were simple: eliminate and leave no witnesses. Make it look like a robbery gone a little wrong. These rules were very familiar to the six men, it was what they did.

The SUV pulled into a vacant parking lot a block from the group of expensive condominiums. The two men got out and walked the block to the front doors. Taking a small tool from his waist, the first man leant against the door and it opened easily. As the glass doors hissed closed, the two men went to the stairs. It was going to be a long climb to the tenth floor but it was safer than being seen in the lift by some nosey neighbour.

On the tenth floor, the two men looked for apartment number 7. Once at the door they rang the buzzer. They could hear frantic movements behind the door and then a man of about 35 was standing in front of them.

Simon Chapman opened the door and saw two young men in neat grey suits standing there, he hoped by all that he believed in that they were not the police.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"Yes Sir, we have some questions, may we come in?"

"Who are you, what do you want?"

"I think it would be better to talk inside Sir . I'm sure you wouldn't want the neighbours to hear our discussion."

Simon sighed deeply, almost with resignation.

"Yeah, ok, come in." Simon stepped back from the door as the two men moved forward.

Once inside the young man asked him, "Are you alone, Sir?"

"Uhm, why, yes. I'm single, why?"

"Oh good." Turning to his partner he nodded his head. The second man moved before Simon could react, the silenced .22 pistol was against his head. He didn't hear the bang.

"Ok, he's done. Lets look around and rough the place up a bit, he looks like a rich type, might be some cash laying around."

The two men set to work, it was easier than they thought. Sitting on the bed was a briefcase with neatly packed dollar bills stacked inside. The first man raised his eyebrows at the second one.

"Nice bonus, ok let's finish off the rooms and get out of here."

The two of them set to work in roughing up the apartment. Once they were satisfied they left quietly and took to the stairs again, disappearing into the dark night.

The second team drove past the small housing estate, the house they were looking for was at the end of the street. It was a typical brick ranch style with a green lawn reaching the edge of the pavement. It wasn't a fancy house but it was well maintained and the grounds were neat and tidy. The only disconcerting thing about it was the police car parked in the driveway. This was looking a bit tougher than they had thought.

The two men talked it over in the car first and decided to change their plan of attack. It didn't bother them that the guy was a cop, it was just a matter of their own safety. A cop would always be suspicious. They had to act fast and hard. A light was shining through the blinds in a front room, the two men walked quietly on the grass to the front door.

The second man took a sawn off shotgun from under his coat, placing a round into each barrel as he stood to the side of the doorway. The first man reached forward and lightly knocked on the door then took a silenced automatic from his waist band and stepped back and to the side. They heard someone behind the door opening the lock. The door opened and a women of about 45 stood there, before she could ask their business a soft 'phutt' sounded and she began to fall to the floor. The second man was inside quickly, the shotgun at his waist aimed forward, a voice from the lounge room told him where his target was.

"Who is it Sheila?"

Michael Riley looked up as his instincts told him someone was entering the room. It was the last thing he saw as a blast of buckshot hit him in the chest, he never heard the second one that was aimed at his head. Without another word the two men upset a few tables and chairs and left the house to quickly get back to their SUV. It had taken only 30 seconds to complete their task, they drove away in silence as the neighbourhood began to come to life.

Steven lay back in his laziboy chair and switched on his large TV. There was a game on soon and he didn't want to miss it. He heard the sound of the front door slamming as his spoilt daughter arrived home. The click clack of her shoes echoed through the house. His two house staff had the day off so his wife was attempting to cook dinner, luckily he had eaten at the club to avoid the probable stomach upset that would be the result of her cooking. Steven heard his daughters wining voice as she entered the kitchen to talk to her mother. She rarely spoke to her father, he was only there to buy her what ever she thought she needed.

"Mummy, I have to have a new car, a sports car. Stephanie has one and mine is just sooo old."

"Now dear, your father only bought you that car last year."

"Ooh mummy it's old and Stephanie says the sports car is sooo much better, besides Lenny loves to drive and after all he is my boyfriend. Can't you tell daddy I need one?"

"Oh, ok, dear, I'll tell your father tonight."

"Tell him it's got to be an English one, not one of those cheap Japanese things."

"Yes dear, now you go and wash while I get dinner cooked."

After giving her mother a big kiss and the certainty of having a new sports car by next week, Steven heard his daughter heading up the stairway just as the opening credits for the game came on the screen. He settled back into the chair and tried to rid his mind of the days disappointments. At the peripheral of his hearing he heard the front door bell ring as he became involved in the line up for the game, his wife could answer the door, she did very little else.

Betty Chase heard the door bell ring, her husband was closest, he could answer it, after all she was busy cooking. She could never work out why her cooking skills never looked the same as the ones in the book. Maybe she need to have the kitchen redone, that might solve the problem. Again the bell rang. Ddamn the lazy bastard, he left everything for her to do, why he wouldn't allow her to have some more staff to help was beyond her understanding.

At the third ring of the bell she decided that he was not going to move. Throwing down the spoon she had been holding, she stomped through to the front door, with an exasperated look on her face, she threw open the door, ready to give the person a piece of her mind for disturbing her night. As she opened her mouth to tell them, something cold and hard was thrust into her mouth, she never heard the sound that killed her instantly.

The first man quickly caught the lifeless body as it slumped towards the floor and dragged it inside the door. The second man gestured to the stairs where the sound of loud rock music was coming from as he closed the door quietly. With a nod the first man headed for the stairs while the second walked towards the study where the sound of a game on TV could be heard.

Silently running up the stairs, the man went to the door of the room where the loud sound was coming from. Throwing open the door he saw a teen girl partially dressed with a towel around her hair. She was gyrating to some new rock band, the music was so loud she didn't hear the intrusion. Two quiet 'phutt' and she lay on the floor with two round holes edged in blood showing on the towel. The man began to search the room for anything valuable, any bonus was better than none.

In the study, Steven was getting into the game, the background noise of his daughters music fading as he became more involved. Suddenly he felt a presence in the room with him, thinking it was his wife, he turned in his chair only to see a stranger standing near him. He held a silenced automatic in one hand, it pointed right at his head.

"Wha...Wha...what do you want?"

"You got a safe in the house?" the voice was deep and grating, the mans eyes were like blank marbles.

Slowly Steven nodded his head, thank god, if it's only a robbery then he would walk away from it. At first sight of the invader he had thought he was here to kill him.

"Where is it?" the voice grated

Steven pointed towards the far wall where a large picture of his father hung.

"Open it." the voice was now very threatening.

Steven rose to his feet and careful not to antagonise the man, he walked to the wall and opened the safe. The man looked at him with a sneer as he saw the bundles of cash in the safe. Steven stepped back to allow the man to take what he wanted, it was really peanuts to what he had in his case upstairs. The man turned to look at him once again then, lifted the automatic level with Stevens forehead. He didn't hear the double shots.

The man stepped over the body and riffled the safe, finishing just as his partner came into the room carrying a briefcase and a hand full of expensive jewellery.

"Nice bonus, the case is full of cash and the jewellery is not cheap either."

The first man nodded and stuffed the loose cash from the safe into his pocket, both took a quick look around and at a silent signal, left the house and drove into the night. The front door of the house was closed and the heavy sound of rock music still echoed into the still night.

Peter woke to the feeling of a soft hand gently caressing his cheek, opening his eyes, he saw his lover smiling down at him.

"It's 7:30 love, time to get up and ready for your meeting."

Peter reached up and stroked Swiftwing’s lips as he yawned the last of his sleep away.

"Ok, I'm going to shower. I'll meet you in the office, unless you want to wash my back?" he said with a seductive smile on his lips.

"Yeah, right, then we'd never get to the meeting."

Peter smiled and, as he rose from the bed. Swiftwing turned and blew him a kiss as he left the room. Peter hurried his shower and then slipped on some clothes that made him look a little better dressed. Quickly he went into the office and after checking his console, he wrapped his arms around Swiftwing’s slim waist and kissed his neck. With a quick hug, the two lovers went to the lift and down to the reception hall.

By now all the staff were on duty. The house staff had been dressed in new uniforms, obviously selected by Trantor. His guardians all dressed the same in black skin tight battle suits. Only Peter and Swiftwing looked a little less formal. On the top steps leading to the front door stood half of his security guards, all armed and alert.

Peter, Swiftwing and the six guardians lined up on the patio, the six guards paired off on each level of steps. The headlights of the first three cars could be seen on the access lane to the house. The first was a large limo followed by two SUV's. As the limo pulled up to the steps, Trantor appeared and opened the door. The first person to appear was new to Peter but he could tell by her bearing that she was the leader. Everything about her oozed power and command.

The regal looking woman looked up at the reception committee waiting on the patio. Fixing her eyes on Peter, she advanced up the steps and with a small flurry, held out her hand while introducing herself.

"Prince Vladd I presume. I'm Queen Sheeva of the Felines." Waving her hand behind her to the other four women, she continued, " These are my princesses, they run the other four states under my control."

Peter gave each princess and small bow which they all returned.

Motioning to the inside hallway, Peter said, "Welcome to my home, Queen Sheeva, and ladies, please go inside. A table has been set up for you so you may relax until the other representatives arrive. Your attendants may take your cars around back. There's a room set aside for them all as well as a meal set out for them."

"Thank you Prince Vladd." said the queen as she intimated to her entrouge to enter with her.

Just as the entrouge went inside the next arrivals drove up the driveway. Six pickup trucks. Some new and shining, a couple were a little beaten up, obviously work trucks. From the first truck came a large man, over 6'6" tall and very well built. His aura was Canine. Next to him came Jake, a big smile and a wink set Peter at ease immediately.

"Welcome to my home Pack Master. Please, make yourself at home. Your men may park around back, we've set up some food for them in another room."

"Thank you Prince Vladd. I believe you know my number two, Jake and these other four are my controllers from the other states."

Peter nodded at the other four strangers and smiled up at Jake.

"Good evening Prince Vladd." said Jake. Peter could see the underlying smile on his lips as he winked again.

"Hello Jake, it's good to see you here. Thank you all for coming. If you would like to go inside, I'll be with you as soon as I've greeted my other guests."

The Pack Master gave Peter a friendly nod and motioned for his group to go with him inside. Peter watched as they left then turned again to the driveway as another line of cars approached. These were a group of four Mercedes. Once they pulled to a halt, he saw the five beautiful blonde boys exit from them, these were the Avian. Peter waited for the first one to walk up the steps and introduce themselves.

"Good evening Flock Master. Welcome to my home and thank you for coming."

"Good evening Prince Vladd. Thank you for your kind invitation, these are my associates from the other four states."

"Good evening gentlemen. We've set up some tables inside for you and your associates, if you would care to eat while we wait for the others to arrive. Your drivers may park around back, there are some tables set for them with a meal."

With a small bow, the Flock Master signalled for his men to accompany him inside while his drivers took the cars around back. Next came a single black limo, from the rear stepped four vampires, one looked about 12 years old, two were in their late teens and the fourth was in his thirties. The youngest was, to Peters determination of his aura, the oldest by quite some years.

All four vampires bowed low to Peter.

"Thank you for coming gentlemen, I'm sure you will find the meeting interesting as well as possibly profitable for your states."

"Thank you My Lord." they all said together, the youngest one looked up at Peter.

"My Lord, I smell other folk here?"

"That's right, please go inside and relax until I get there."

"Certainly My Lord, thank you."

The four vampires went inside the house while Peter took another look around the grounds. Everything seemed calm. At a signal from Sin Yu, the six security guards went out into the night to patrol the grounds while the meeting took place. Peter looked at his lover and the six guardians.

"Well guys, looks as though they're all here. Shall we go and get them started?"

The others smiled, all turned together and re-entered the house . As they came into the reception hall, Peter could feel and underlying tension in the air. The smell of testosterone from the Wolves, the calm tension of the Felines, and the alertness of the avians. Only the four vampires seemed unaffected as each of the folk took in the other groups of the folk.

As Peter entered the hall there seemed to be a slight relaxing of the tension. It was as though he had brought a calming effect to the hall. None of the folk had decided to eat, they all sat in expectation as Peter entered.

"Your Majesty, gentlemen, if you are ready, could you follow me into the conference room and we can get started."

All the gathered rose to their feet and followed Peter into the meeting room. Each found a seat around the large table with Peter at the top. He was slightly amused to see that each section tried to have a little space between them and the next species. He was hoping that after the end of the meeting they would be more inclined to sit closer to each other. Peter began the meeting.

"Your Majesty, gentlemen, firstly my sincere thanks for your attendance. I hope that this will be only the first of many such meetings between the folk. I have made a small list of the items I wished to raise at this meeting and I hope that they will meet with your approval. I realise there are things that separate us in many ways but I'm also sure that we can overcome most of them here tonight and hopefully be able to work together."

Peter looked around the table, everyone seemed to be listening intently to what he was saying.

"The first item I want to raise is the formation of our own council to set rules and laws for our five states. In the bigger picture of this country, we are only a small part, but we still have a large population of folk here, many of whom are not being given a chance to follow a decent life style. I'm talking mainly about the Vaga. As I see it, and this is only from my own point of view, they could all be an important part of our community given the chance. If we have a leading council that can set some guidelines for all of us, then there's a good chance these Vaga can be an asset to us all."

Peter again looked at the assembled folk. They were all showing a little interest in his first idea although, there were some sceptical looks as well.

"I have met with some Vaga and have found them to mostly just be lost kids. They seem to feel that they have just been discarded by the rest of us. To this end I have set in motion a program of renovation of one of my buildings for the Vaga. I propose that it will be known as House Vaga. They will set up their own head of house and finance themselves with only a small amount of assistance from myself. If we did this in each state, I'm sure we will have some very able followers if we ever need extra help, and Ladies and Gentlemen, there's a time coming when we will need all the help we can get."

"What do you mean, Prince Vladd?" asked the Flock Master.

"As you can see by his Aura, my partner is a Shaman, he has carried this message to me. There's a time coming when we will have to fight to keep our way of life and there's going to be some heavy losses in the battles to come. While my main concern is to help the Vaga, when the time comes for us to fight, we are going to need them."

"Can you tell us more about this battle, Prince Vladd?" asked the Queen of the Felines.

"Not as yet your Majesty. That's all we know at the moment, but to move on, the next item I have for discussion, is the formation of guilds within the folk. For example, Jake here has the means and the experienced men for construction and security. Many of his men already provide security for some of my businesses. All we have to do is find out what each area of the folk is expert in and form guilds from them. They will be responsible for those areas. For example, if the Felines were expert in electronics, it would be in our interest to employ them in that capacity for all of the folk. I realise that this would be putting some of our systems in their hands but this is a matter where we have to trust each other. Another example is the Avian, their ability to fly for long periods makes them the perfect long range look outs in all our defences. After all, how many people look up when they are doing something at ground level? They are usually too worried about being jumped from behind to worry about looking up."

Peter looked around the table again and saw that they were all definitely interested in what he was saying.

"Our Canine friends are renowned for their strength and speed. Apart from heavy construction they are the perfect folk to work as both attack and defence personnel. The Felines have the advantage of speed and stealth, they are the perfect attacking personnel."

"And what are the Vamps doing while the rest of us are getting killed?" it was the gruff voice of the Canine Pack Leader.

Peter smiled at the Pack Leader.

"We'll be dying beside you. We have a combination of all your advantages in one form or another. I'm sure you are all aware of what we can and can not do, but it gives the vampires the added advantage of being able to cover any of the folk in an area where they are lacking. I think that is enough just for now. I would like to hear your opinions before we go any further."

Each group of the folk leant into there respective leaders and carried out whispered conversations. With Peters far advanced hearing skills he could hear everything if he wished to concentrate on them, but he felt he should respect their privacy for the moment. Finally they seemed to have each reached some kind of agreement among themselves, the Queen was the first to speak.

"Prince Vladd, who are you thinking of for this council?"

"I feel it is only right that four members should be the ruling heads of the houses. That is, myself, your Majesty, the Pack Master and the Flock Master. There should also be four other members, one from each of the folk and nominated by their respective leaders that are experts in construction, electronics, battle strategies and security, also one person to be agreed upon by all members to be the deciding vote in the event of a tied vote and to act as adjudicator or chairman."

"That does sound reasonable Prince Vladd, but where would these meetings be held and how often?" asked the Flock Master.

"I feel that those items should be dealt with once the council has been formed. Although it would be better for security if they were either held in different places each time or there was purpose built facility constructed that would be central to all. As to how often, at the moment I would suggest once every two weeks. If we had a crisis, then of course it would have to be when needed."

The nineteen representatives nodded their heads in agreement. To all of them it did seem that this young Prince had given his proposals a lot of deep thought.

"What of the existing governing councils? How will they react to us forming another inner council?" asked Queen Sheeva.

"I have sent word to them about my idea's. As yet there has been no answer, but my Father said I was in charge of this area of the vampires. What I require is the support of your selves to make this work. Remember when the time comes we are all going to be involved once the truth comes out to the humans, and it is going to come out. I have already had an indication of them interfering in my affairs and I am sure that it won't be long before they start to take an interest in you as well. I know we can rely on our simbo's but it seems as though somehow outsiders have found out about us. This is going to be the danger to us all."

The group around the table became silent as they started to think of the consequences to themselves once they were truly discovered. It was not a pretty picture that came to their minds. Memories of ancient hunts by humans that some of them were survivors of, sprang to mind. Peter watched their faces as the true realisation came to them. Either they all worked together or all fell together, not much of a choice either way.

Eventually they all nodded their agreement to the inevitable. The Pack Master was the first to speak after looking at each and every other person in the room.

"Well Prince Vladd, it would seem that you have covered it pretty well. I think we should settle down now and decide who the other members of the council should be, all agreed?"

All present agreed and the discussion began on selecting the other five needed to form the council, Peter was the first to speak.

"I would like to nominate Jake as the security representative."

Peter looked over to his four vampire leaders, the youngest one spoke.

"I second that."

"Do you all wish to take a vote on that?" asked Peter as he looked at the blush on Jakes face.

All three leaders nodded their agreement of Jake, so Peter continued. "Next is the representative for technical and electronics, any nominations?"

"I have three cubs, they're triplets, young but very good at what they do. I would like to nominate the eldest to be the representative for that position." said Queen Sheeva.

"May I ask how good they are and will he be responsible enough for the position?" asked the Pack Master.

"I agree that he may be young, but when it comes to electronics and new technology these boys are the best. They come from Brazil originally and have been doing that sort of thing all their lives, as short as those lives are. If you give them the equipment they need then no one is safe from them. As far as responsibility goes, the elder one has kept his two siblings in line all their lives, they listen to him and obey without question."

"Fine your Majesty, then I second the nomination." replied the Pack Master.

"I have an elder Avian that would be very good at aerial surveillance." said the Flock Master. "He's older and a lot wiser than most of us, he was also ex military before he was turned. He has a fledgling in his early twenties that is presently employed by the nations military who is a very good tactician. I realise that by nominating two of my followers it may seem a numerical advantage at a vote, but I feel that both of them are what the Prince is looking for."

Peter looked around at the others, they were all in deep thought so he said.

"I see no reason why they should not both be members, numerical advantage or not. If they're the best for the job then they should be here. We have to trust each other if we're going to survive what’s coming, therefore I second the nomination."

The others thought for a moment longer then all agreed once they saw that the council would be made up of a mixture that left the vampires with only one vote. It was becoming obvious that this was not a power play by a new young Prince.

"Well that gives us a council of eight, all we need now is a member that has a deciding vote, any nominations?" asked Peter.

To Peter’s surprise, Jake spoke up.

"Prince Vladd, I, and I'm sure the others have also noticed that you have left yourself the only vampire vote, is there a reason for this?"

"No Jake, there's no reason, all of you had the expertise that is needed. I don't want the council to be about power, it has to be about protecting all of us so the best person for the job has to be selected. Let me make a suggestion for the deciding vote nomination. What is needed is a person of long experience, someone who has been around a long time and has the experience of age and knowledge. I'm the youngest here, I think it should be the oldest one amongst us that has that position. So lets see who is the oldest amongst us?"

The discussion went around the table, it appeared that the oldest was a feline of three hundred and fourty years. The only person who had not spoken was the 12 year old looking vampire. Peter looked at him and raised an eyebrow, the young looking vampire smiled and said to Peter, "My Lord, I'm sure you can see my aura. I was turned in the year 1067. I guess that makes me the oldest, but I would bow to our friend if the council feels I am not right for the position."

"Your Majesty, gentlemen, is there any objection to the nomination?"

There were no objections so the young looking vampire became the extra vote in case of a tie.

"Well we have our council, may I suggest that we take a break and if you could be so kind your Majesty, perhaps you could contact your cub to come and join us, if he is not to far away?"

"Let me make a call. He can be here in about half an hour or so, and I agree, lets take a break. I'm starving and I'm sure the others feel the same now that we have something concrete to work with, Prince Vladd."

They all rose from the chairs and, after a gesture from Peter, all went out into the hall where the tables had been set up, Trantor and the rest of the staff stood around the room waiting. Within minutes of the guests sitting at the table, the food began to arrive. Peter marvelled at the variety of food, it was obvious that Molly knew her business as each species had different tastes yet all were provided for, Peter and his four state leaders limited themselves to some of the houses vintage from the cellar.

During the meal the Flock Master looked over at Peter and spoke, "I've been thinking about what you said of a meeting place, Prince Vladd. It's common knowledge that both yourself and the Queen are the wealthiest of all the folk. The rest of us, while having reasonable incomes can't match what you both have so, I would like to make a suggestion."

"Certainly Flock Master, that's what we're here for, to find ways to work and help each other."

"Well as you can appreciate, the Avian need a lot of space. What I'm saying is that we're cash poor but land rich. We have a piece of land that might make a very good meeting place. It's an old abandoned military nuclear shelter. There's a dirt road leading to it and it goes deep into the mountain. It needs a lot of work but all the essentials are there, power plant, water reticulation system, fresh air systems, but they all need upgrading. We haven't had the money to do it so it sits idle, but it's secure and hidden and can be easily protected. I'm willing to donate it to the council if others can do the work needed."

"We're in the same position as the Avian." said the Pack Master, "One thing about Canines, we have big litters. I will give you all the labour you need free of charge."

"In that case," said Peter, "I'll donate 5 million dollars to the project and have 5% of my Net income to the council for up-keep."

"I'll do the same." said Queen Sheeva

The Pack Master looked at the Flock Master both gave each other a nod then, the Pack Master spoke, "We'll both put in our 5% as well for the upkeep, it won't be a lot but it is only fair that we all help in the up-keep once it's completed. When can we go see it, Flock Master?"

"Whenever you like, tomorrow if you wish. It's only an hour and a half drive from the city."

"Fine tomorrow then if all are agreed?" said Peter, they all nodded in agreement, just then there was a disturbance at the front door as one of the guards ran into the hall.

"My Lord, we have a breach near the gate."

"Is it an attack?"

"No My Lord, it's three young kids kicking up a storm."

Queen Sheeva burst into laughter.

"That'll be my cubs, they never move around alone, where you see one you'll find the other two not far behind."

Peter laughed along with her then turned to the guard.

"It's ok, we're expecting them, let them in and bring them to us here."

The guard talked into his radio and returned outside to escort the boys in, Peter turned to the Queen.

"Are they really a handful?"

"Oh yes, when they have nothing to do you would swear the two youngest ones would kill each other, just like typical brothers. The older one is very quiet, you'll pick him out immediately. They were turned five years ago when they were fourteen, they still think they are that age but give them a computer and they become entirely different boys. They make their pocket money by hacking into different banks. The oldest one is always in control, he takes what they need for their expenses while the other two fight off the anti spyware and blocks. They are really very good at what they do."

Just then the front door opened and three Latino looking boys tumbled into the room, they moved with a silkiness of a feline. The elder of the three was, as the Queen had said, very quiet and aloof from his two siblings who were pushing and shoving each other and taking half hearted swipes at the others head. An animalistic cough came from the elder, both boys stopped immediately as they saw their Queen.

"Boys, behave yourselves. This," she pointed to Peter. "is Prince Vladd. If I'm not here you will obey him as you would me, is that clear?"

All three boys bowed to the Queen then, after looking at Peter, they nodded their heads in unison.

"Dylon, as the eldest, you have been nominated to be a member of the new council as an advisor on technical and electronics. You will sit with the council and have a vote on any thing that comes up. You will behave with maturity. Your two brothers will be under the employ of the council from today. For the moment you will remain here in the Princes house until the council house is finished and then move there, is all this clear?"

"Yes My Queen."

"Good, you will come and sit with us Dylon, you two boys go over there and sit quietly, one peep out of you and you'll regret it, clear?"

"Yes My Queen." Both boys said and moved onto a sofa in a far corner, although they were still giving each other small digs and nudges.

Peter looked at the new boy. He, like his two brothers was really beautiful. Olive skinned with jet black hair like Swiftwing, dark brown eyes and a very svelte body with long and very dexterous hands and fingers. He exuded an air of confidence and control. Peter felt a nudge in his ribs, he turned to look at Swiftwing. Although he had a pout on his soft lips, Swiftwing had a twinkle in his eye. His expression said it all, Peter smiled at him, the new boy was beautiful but he wasn't Swiftwing.


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