Castle Roland

The Prince of House Vladd III

by Arthur

In Progress

Chapter 1

Posted: 8 Sep 16


Copyright © 2011, 2015 by Arthur

AUTHORS NOTE: All warnings, restrictions and copywrite are as stated in chapter 1 of book 1 of this trilogy, any breaches are solely on the reader and the author accepts no responsibility for your own foolishness or ignorance.

Peter sat at his desk and looked over the remains of the minutes of last nights council meeting, Swiftwing sat on a chair quietly watching him work, the two boys they had rescued worked diligently on cleaning the apartment as was their duty, the rest of the house was quiet and the new peace that had come after the destruction by the two god boys was now a matter of history.

It had been ten years since the downfall of the Destiny Church and the corruption of the banks and politicians, the country was still in the throws of trying to rebound from the disaster, of the one hundred and fifty million people left after the destruction, some seventy five million had packed up what little they had left and gone over seas looking for a new life, of those who stayed or could not afford to move, most were now settling onto the land with the aide of the peoples of the First Nation.

New boundaries had been drawn up and the old form of states was now a thing of the past, most of the old lands of the First People had been returned to old lines as first pointed out in the treaties of the mid 1800's, with the aide of the god boys, the First Nations people were now quickly increasing in numbers as their birth rate increased rapidly.

Foreign countries had at first tried to move into the crippled country but found their many devious ways stymied by plots much older than theirs, every twist and turn was used to take the country, international banks went to the courts to lay claims to the land in payment for extravagant loans made to the old administration, all failed before ever coming to the court, some banks even found themselves in a fight to just retain what they had, somewhere there was a secret society that blocked every attempt they made.

The major international religions also attempted to move in but were quickly blocked, the once proud United States of America now became known as The Confederated States of The First Nation, any reference to the old U.S.A. and all it intimated was laid to rest, the memories of corruption, greed and religious fervour were pushed aside after the demonstration of the true power of the one called 'Creator' by the First Nations people.

Peter looked up from his reading and smiled at his lover, their relationship had only grown stronger over the last ten years and, as with all Vampires, they still looked like young teen boys, they both felt their greatest accomplishment was the forming of the Vaga Houses, after ten years they were mostly self contained and funded, what had once been cities and then become rubble piles, were now starting to slowly be rebuilt by those who could not survive out in the country.

The Vaga watched over the rebuilding, small businesses began to rise and become the outlets for the produce of the countryside, while a great deal of the trading was done by barter, the need for a recognised currency was also needed, this was now called 'Credits' and was backed by gold as it once had been long ago, there would be no more currencies based on fictitious products and sold sight unseen on stock market computers.

The country had been broken up into a number of states based on old First Nation territorial grounds; this led to fewer states and less beaurocracy, they now numbered only seven and, for the purposes of easy understanding, the new map was set out as simply as possible.

The new states would now be known as, The South East, The South West, The North East, The North West, The Plains, The Plateau and Basin and lastly, California, which was now half the land mass it previously had, within these stated regions were the old tribal areas, for the purposes of Council Meetings it was decided to have a central meeting place and they selected Pine Ridge as the most central.

Each of the seven states were now represented by an Elder, these in turn answered to smaller councils of individual tribal Elders, these positions were unpaid and voluntary, the members being selected by the individual tribes who in turn selected the seven Elders to represent them at the national level.

Peter and his people kept to the dark and only came forward after being asked by the seven Elders for help, it was to this end that Peter saw an email arrive on the vampnet for Swiftwing, there were very few who could use this and the only outsiders were the Elders, Peter called his one love to come over and read the email.

Swiftwing, after giving a light peck to Peter's cheek, began to read the email, it was short and too the point as were all of the Elders missives.


Swiftwing, son of Fleet Walker, grandson of Rising Sun, warrior of the shape shifters,

We the council of Elders request your presence in five days time at the place of mourning of the Lakota Sioux at Pine Ridge for a meeting of great importance.

Council of Elders of the First Nation.

Along with Peter, Swiftwing re-read the short email, why would the Elders call for him to meet and even more strange; for it to be at a place of the Sioux who were once enemies of his people the Chiricahua Apache, the mystery only deepened by the lack of detail, it was obvious it could not be ignored, Peter at first was a little leery of the idea but, as Swiftwing pointed out, there was little they could do to him if he had to fight.

Peter finally agreed, he knew he could not go with his lover but that would not make it any easier, all he could do was make sure Swiftwing had some backup, this also took a little bit of convincing as Swiftwing felt there was no danger in such an open invitation, deep in Peter's belly he felt something was not right but could not explain how he knew, and so, the plans were made for Swiftwing to go to his meeting but under guard.

Deep in the Colorado mountains, in a long disused missile bunker, the young looking teen surveyed the mess on the concrete floor, the three middle aged humans that had watched over him during his long ten years sleep, were now just dry husks surrounded by drying pools of their own blood.

The teen, once known as Michael Strong, looked down at his servants, they had fulfilled their use and now it was time for him to set things right, his escape had been a close thing when the strange young boys had caused their havoc and brought down his carefully laid plans, it was now time for his come back and revenge on the Vampire Council.

Michael Strong, while looking to be about eighteen was in fact much older, he had been born in 1835 and had been turned when visiting the small village of Brewster, he had been on his way home to the small farm in the early darkness of night when a stranger had pulled him aside and whispered something in his ear, before he knew what was happening, he was being drained, it took him many years to fully understand what had happened to him, most of his justice came during the Civil War between the states, his blood lust knew no bounds as his victims were looked on as being lost due to the war, for Michael it was a time of plenty, the one time country hick, farm boy was in his element.

As he aged his power grew, he had little trouble building a substantial bank and his abilities allowed him to roam freely where ever he wanted to go, his latest project was to take over what was left of the United States, to this end he powered up his long silent computer and opened up the Vampire Net, what he saw almost brought a rage to him that he had never felt before.

Everything he once owned had been destroyed, every property and every business was now no more than a pile of rubble, the only saving grace was his cash fortune, being from the period of the 1800's, his cash was always converted into gold, he had a major distrust of banks and paper money, to his advantage all his gold reserves were now with him deep in the hidden bunker which had once been an underground missile silo.

After reading everything on the net that he could get to, Michael began to make his plans, it was obvious that the young Prince of House Vladd had been given carte blanche over the American lands, both north and south by the Vampire Council, the boy was also the reason his plans had come to naught, there was much to pay back to the young vamp.

Michael was sure that he was unknown by any of the Princes people, he had made sure to keep himself unknown by any of the people he had used and was, in the main, off the radar of any of the Council, from his reading on the Vampnet Michael could see that the Vaga could not be used by him, their loyalty was to the Prince, he had to find new cohorts before he could rise once again and finish what he had started ten years ago.

For the remainder of the night, Michael read everything he could find in the old files of the vampnet about the Prince and the events that happened while he was asleep for the last ten years, he well knew he had to have information and a lot of it and history was always the best way of finding ways and means.

To the normal human, ten years was a long time, to an old vampire like Michael it was no more than a blink in his long life, time meant nothing and he could make plans for years ahead in the knowledge that he would still be young and able to carry them out, now however, there was only one thing standing in his way, a young Prince named Poitr Vladd.

Peter turned to Swiftwing,

"So when do you have to leave?"

"Tonight, I have a lot of preparations to make before the meeting."

"Why so soon, if you use the jet you can be there in a couple of hours?"

"There are things I have to do to get ready, the fasting is no trouble but I then have to spend four days in a sweat lodge to clean my system and also be ready for any visions, it is how Creator tells us his thoughts and plans for us."

"But five days without you, we have never been apart that long before, I'll miss you too much."

"Then you will have to lay down and make dreams of me, you can never tell, maybe I will come and visit you in the dream if Creator wishes it to be so."

"You can do that?"

"All Medicine Elders can dream walk although some are better at it than others."

"How does it work?"

"It has a lot to do with the individual Elder, mainly the best dreamers are those who can walk in the places between the real and the spiritual, it takes a long time to learn how to do it properly, time and distance mean nothing to the Dreamers, each society always has one or two who are very strong with it, they may be from far off lands or right here at home but all of them can talk to each other in the spirit realms."

"So what happens when one of them dies?"

"They go too inhabit the spirit realm until they are called back to this realm in another and younger form, over time they once again gain their abilities if given the chance."

"Oh come on my love, if that were true then all the people on earth would be from past spirits, we would be over run."

"No, we would never be over run as most of the life spirits are reborn when their time comes just as they pass into the spirit realm when their time is done, it is especially true for Medicine Elders, each time their spirit is reborn they become stronger, much of their work is done while in meditation with spirits that have passed and are waiting to be reborn."

"Do you have past spirits my love?"

"Yes, of course, it is where my strength comes from, each of my ancestors gave a little of their spirits to me, that's why I am not worried about this meeting, there is little they would do to harm me, the repercussions would be dire for them and their clans."

"Do you have any idea why they would call on you; it seems strange that they would do it after all this time?"

"No, I have no idea at all, I would be considered way too young to join them even though we have our two sons in the stone city, and they would be more likely to call on them if they needed help."

The two boys hugged and Peter watched as Swiftwing left the room to get ready to travel, he would miss him a lot but he also decided to try the dreaming like Swiftwing had said, it was an unknown way for him but at least he could try to believe in his lover, even if the dream did not work, at least he would have the thoughts to go to sleep with while alone.

As Swiftwing left the lift with his small medicine bag of personal items, he was quickly joined by six security guards, all fully armed and alert, Swiftwing looked at the men with a smile, his lover had once again gone over the top with his concern for Swiftwing, still he would let the men come along with him just too keep the peace, as it was he would not see much of them while in the sweat lodge, they could sit around for four days and get some sun, which, in the old state of Arizona, now called The South East State, would be more than hot enough for them.

Once on the jet and flying south, Swiftwing tried to work out why the Elders would call on him, they were the elected members of the tribes, there was little he could do as he had little or no power among the tribes, he was the last of his line and, of his people there were very few left and those were scattered all over, the Apache had had a fearsome reputation and both the United States and Mexico had done their best to try to wipe them out, after the last surrender of Geronimo they had been split apart and divided into small groups until they had barely been able to survive as one people, it was just one more degradation of the First Nations Peoples.

Once the jet had landed on an open stretch of desert where Swiftwing had told them to set down, he, along with the ever present guards, began to walk towards a far off cliff, at the base of the cliff were the remains of an old long forgotten Hopi village, it was here that Swiftwing would make his sweat lodge.

It took the better part of the day to find all the things needed even with the help of the guards, Swiftwing was hard pressed to get it done, finally it was ready, he had set the stones in the fire and was now readying himself for the long ordeal of the sweat lodge, he wore only his small breechclout and even removed his familiar moccasins.

As the last rays of the sun set in the west, Swiftwing entered the lodge with final instructions to the guards to keep the other stones hot, he would not leave the lodge for the full four days and one of them would have to enter to replace any cold stones, he was not to be touched or spoken to during this process, the guards nodded their understanding and watched as the young boy disappeared into the oval shaped hut.

Once inside the oval hut-like sweat lodge, Swiftwing, using two deer antlers as tongs, set the first of the hot stones at the position of the four winds, from his medicine bag he took a bound parcel of sage and another of dried lavender, these he would use to brush the stones after adding water from a clay pot, they were both powerful herbs and used to instil power to his visions as well as being favourites of the spirits.

Swiftwing, being alone had one difficulty, as he would be walking with the spirits, he would not be able to take care of the stones in the lodge, also he had no helper nor a drummer as would another Shaman for this special ritual, to this end he commandeered some of the guards, one to replace the hot stones as the time passed, the other too make sure there was ample water in the clay pot, neither would be allowed to speak to him when doing these small chores, he would have to work without the aide of a drummer.

During his four days in the sweat lodge, Swiftwing saw many visions, some were not too his liking but had to be viewed and understood before he could see where they were leading, it all came back to the upcoming meeting and all he could garner from the visions was that the meeting would be about change but what change was not shown to him.

The one over-riding factor in his visions was that of a misty figure that had little or no relationship to the First People yet was a part of them; this only caused more confusion in Swiftwing's vision time, the figure he had seen more than once was just a misty figure but it had something to do with the spirit world but in another form that he had never seen before.

On the fourth day, Swiftwing left the lodge more confused than before, his visions, while many were detailed, still did not give him a clear picture of what lay ahead only small snippets of facts, one thing that did stand out was that this was to be a very important meeting for all of the people.

Swiftwing led the guards back to the waiting jet, he said almost nothing and they were too well trained to ask without reason, Swiftwing settled himself on the plane and felt it take to the air, it was only a short hop of three hours to Pine Ridge, there he would find out more, all the while his many visions were running through his mind as he tried to make sense out of them.

After the jet landed at the Pine Ridge airport, Swiftwing saw two very large Lakota police men waiting for him, they were dressed in their normal uniforms and waited patiently, he got no feelings of animosity from them but at the same time there was an undercurrent of suspicion, Swiftwing kept his features in a semblance of calm assurance as he approached the two waiting men.

Swiftwing, along with his six guards, were quickly placed in a large SUV and driven off to the main grounds where the large modern built Hogan of the Elders was placed, it was situated on a hill overlooking the town of Pine Ridge but out far enough to be kept separate from everyday business, it was also noted that this was the land of the once feared Lakota tribe of the Sioux and the last known battle ground of the Peoples resistance to the old US government.

When Swift wing stepped from the SUV, he saw waiting for him a very large mass of people, all were of the First Nation, at the front of the large mass were seven Elders, it took a few moments before Swiftwing realised there were only six of the Elders there, one of their number was obviously not of the People, behind the small waiting group stood two representatives of most of the tribes in the form of young warriors dressed in traditional dress, there were none of the store bought items that had once been popular as old ways died, these young warriors were all dressed in nothing but the true traditional way.

The Elders were in their best ceremonial garb, all authentic and much of it very old and, although some were a little worn with age, they were still in good shape, leggings and moccasins as well as medicine shirts were all decorated with the old handmade horse beads, medicine bonnets flowed to the ground with countless eagle feathers, each Elder held a calumet in his left hand and a smudge fan in his right, over their shoulder hung their medicine bags, Swiftwing could not believe the sight before him, this sort of gathering was very rare.

Only one person really caught Swiftwing's eye, the stranger standing with the Elders, he was not of this land, that much was evident, his skin was paler but not quite as much as a white man although he showed obvious traits as being of mixed blood, unlike the others, he was dressed in jeans and a pale blue shirt that was left to hang outside his jeans, around his waist sat the shell belt of an Elder and from his neck hung a double strand of horse beads showing him to be a member of the Raven clan.

Swiftwing found this strange man to be an enigma, he was not of the People yet he wore items that said he was one of them in some way, in his left hand and laying along his arm was a Medicine pipe, it was carved in such a way and in such fine detail that Swiftwing found it hard to pull his eyes away from it, like the others he held a smudge fan made from the tail feathers of a turkey but the handle again was carved in such fine detail, it was like nothing swift wing had ever seen.

Swiftwing also noticed the stranger had a medicine bag over his shoulder but this one, unlike the others, was made from some plant material that had been plaited, he also had a large thick walking stick, also carved in detail, something Swiftwing had never seen before, the last striking thing he noticed was the bowl of the calumet, it was of a deep green stone and shaped like the head of an eagle with the beak being pierced and a tuft of feathers suspended from it, he knew of no stone that looked quite like this did, it was just another difficult fact to take in about the stranger, why he was here was any bodies guess.

The large group of warriors came from all over the Nations, from the Southeast were young men from the Cherokee, the Catawba and Tutelo, the Natchez and the Choctaw as well as the Chickasaw and many others, from the Southwest were the Navaho, the Zuni, and the Mescalero, Hopi and Chiricahua and more.

From the plains were the young men of the Sioux, the Blackfeet, Comanche and Kiowa, also present were others from the Crow and Cheyenne as well as the Arapaho, Pawnee and Plains Cree. From the Basin came the Ute, Shoshoni and Nez Perce and others, from California came the Pomo, Yokut and the Miwok also the Karok and the Yurok.

Down from the Northwest came the Haida, Tlingit, Salish and Chinookans along with their sub tribes, finally from the Northeast came the last representatives, Algonquians, Chippewa, Shawnee, Huron, Ottawa, Mohawk and Kickapoo, all of these well known tribes sent young men for this special gathering, it was like an old style Pow Wow with all tribes present and waiting for something special to come.

Swiftwing could not get over the numbers, many of the tribes represented had once been bitter enemies, much blood had been spilt between many of them and yet here they were all looking and waiting for something, even a stranger from only Creator knew where, it was beginning to unnerve him but he had to put on a brave face and continue with the meeting.

Swiftwing approached the small group of Elders, amongst the older men he looked very young and the surrounding silence all but unnerved him, every young warrior was armed with traditional weapons of their tribe, only the Elders wore their Medicine Bonnets all the others were painted as was their custom long ago.

While there was no actual leader of the Elders, most deferred to the oldest among them on most occasions, it was he, the one called Dream Walker, that spoke first, after a short greeting, Swiftwing was introduced to the others, Looks Twice from the Sioux, Running Beaver from the Nez Perce, Striding Elk from the Tlingit, Crooked Arrow from the Cherokee and Lone Horse from the Cree, only the stranger was not introduced to him, this man stood in silence and seemed to be looking inside the thoughts of Swiftwing.

After the introductions, it suddenly dawned on Swiftwing that there had only been six of the Elders mentioned, the seventh was missing, he was the representative of the Southern tribes, he was nowhere to be seen, as Swiftwing thought this over, they were all asked to enter the large Hogan that had been built for the Elders meetings, it was the first time Swiftwing had seen one and there had never been one built like this before.

While the building looked in the same fashion as the traditional Hogan, it was of course much larger, on the outside it looked to be constructed of traditional materials but they were all of modern materials, once inside, Swiftwing saw the full scope of the building, in the centre it had a lowered pit structure in an oval shape, around the walls were two tiers of wooden seating, enough to seat about thirty people.

The centre area was flat and covered in what appeared to be bear skins, at the centre was a fire pit and around it were placed small cane back rests, each one positioned at the four wind points, Swiftwing watched as the unspoken leader, Dream Walker and the stranger took a place at the North point, the place where all members of the Raven Clan began their prayers to the Creator, the other five Elders took their seats according to their clan teachings on the other three points of the four winds.

Around the walls on the wooden seating, a number of others sat and silently watched what was going on in the pit, even now, Swiftwing had little to no idea why he was summoned here, Dream Walker began the prayers and made the offerings to Creator, once finished the real reason for the meeting became known.

The absence of the Seventh member of the council of Elders had not gone unnoticed by Swiftwing but what was about to be said surprised him in more ways than one as he listened to the firm voice of Dream Walker, while he looked ancient to Swiftwing's young eyes, the Elder seemed to grow as his words filled the meeting house.

"Swiftwing, as you can see we are one member short in our council, it has come to our attention that you are the last of the Medicine Men of the Southwest and the last of the Chiricahua Apache to hold that position, we here are all in agreement that we wish you to accept the seventh position on this council, your work for the Nation has not gone unnoticed and the high regard you hold for the old ways has made this offer unanimous, what is your answer?"

A thousand thoughts rushed through Swiftwing's mind, he had thought for a long time that he would be able to remain unnoticed by those of the First Nation, it appeared that he had been wrong, he also should have known that the power of these Elders exceeded the normal bounds of life on earth, their abilities to travel to places not of the normal world was a well known secret of the tribes, something the white man had never known they could do or even believed in, these six men were very powerful in their own way, Swiftwing could not think how he could be of any use to such strong men.

The people crowded into the meeting house stayed silent as they let him go through things in his mind, this was a very important decision and the offer could not be taken lightly, silence reigned as he thought through all his options, there was of course little he could do, if he accepted the offer he would have to spend time away from Peter although it would only be at times when large decisions had to be made by the full council he still had to give it thought.

Swiftwing sat for long silent minutes as he ran through everything, what it would mean to his loved one, what it would mean to the rest of the household, how he could reconcile the needs of his people to the needs of the First Nation as a whole, the meeting house remained quiet, only the occasional cough or shuffle broke the silence.

Swiftwing bowed his head and began the silent chant to take him into his own spirit world where all his ancestors lived still, as he felt the shift in his surroundings, he saw once again the striking figures of his ancestors as they came towards him, even though he was not related to the old chiefs and Medicine Elders, he saw both the ghostly forms of Geronimo and Cochise standing in the background, it appeared to Swiftwing that they were also interested in the offer.

For many generations, the Apache had only been seen as the worst of the First Nations people, their very name came from the Zuni word for Enemy, Apachuu, and while they were well known as the most fearsome of all the tribes, they had also suffered the most, for Swiftwing to be made such an offer meant they had at last been seen as worthy to stand beside the others of the First Nation, Swiftwing's mind was made up, he would accept, not for himself, but, as the spirits had said, for all the people of the First nation.

Swiftwing came out of his self imposed trance and looked at those waiting for him, even now, after more than an hour in which he had been communing with the spirits, there was still silence, he looked up into the dark eyes of the six Medicine Elders and the strange blue eyes of the Stranger.

With a nod of his head, Swiftwing spoke to the Elders.

"My ancestors have told me to agree to your request; I will join the Council of Elders in the place of the Southwest region."

The six Elders only nodded their heads in agreement, it was as though they already knew the answer, which would not have surprised Swiftwing in the least, these men were not like others in any normal way, Swiftwing watched as the Stranger leant over and whispered something into Dream Walkers ear, the old man smiled and nodded, with a gesture of Dream Walkers hand, a young teen of about fifteen appeared from the shadows in the back of the Hogan, Swiftwing assumed he was a new student and so had the job of doing all the less difficult work that came with being a Medicine Elder.

Dream Walker looked up at Swiftwing; there was a faint smile on the Elders lips.

"Welcome Swiftwing to our council, as your clan is of the coyote you will hold the place of the south wind, now let me introduce you too my Spiritual Brother, he comes from a far land way too the south, his name is Morehu Tapuae, to us all he is known as Wind Walker and is now a member of the Raven Clan, he has a gift for you so that you may join us with full confidence."

The stranger looked at Swiftwing and smiled, he looked to be close to the same age as Dream Walker but had a different air about him, there was something deeper in his eyes than Swiftwing had ever seen before, it was as though he lived in another world but at the same time was fully aware of this one, his voice when he spoke sounded like that of a much younger person.

"Congratulations young warrior, I wish to offer you three Koha, gifts of our own people, these are all powerful Taonga or spiritual items, each has its own power and they will guide you when asked, the first is this Medicine Pipe."

Morehu handed the beautifully carved Calumet to the young teen who carried it around the central circle and placed it in Swiftwing's hands, he looked closely at the long wooden Calumet, the carving was so fine and done in a way he had never seen before, it had strange faces and even stranger animals as well as a lot of swirls and curved bars to bring all the carving together, at the end was the main bowl, it was as he had seen earlier, made of fine green stone that looked translucent and yet very beautiful, it reminded Swiftwing of the jade he had once seen in a museum.

When Swiftwing touched the stone bowl, it felt as cold as ice, even the heat of his hands could not warm it, he had never felt anything like it before.

"The bowl is made from Pounamu, it is said that the stone was formed from the tears of Mother Earth at the loss of her lover Father Sky, it is a powerful stone, when you are in danger it will turn warm in your touch, the stem carries the story of Papatuanuku and Ranganui, Mother Earth and Father Sky for they are the ones above all who aide us in our lives."

Swiftwing laid the long Calumet in his left hand resting the stem on his forearm as Morehu placed another item in the hands of the student who carried it to Swiftwing and placed it in his hands.

The fan had a wooden carved handle and had five large and four small turkey feathers inserted in the top, it also was finely carved with swirls and short cross hatching, Swiftwing looked it over as Morehu told him what it represented.

"This fan is the symbol of Tane Mahuta, guardian of the forests, the carvings depict his children, the birds and animals of the forest, and I hope it will assist you in your spiritual journeys, this last piece."

Here Morehu gave the young teen student a white, carved, bone necklace to bring to Swiftwing.

"This is the symbol of Tangaroa, guardian of the sea; it will give you the power to provide and a key to the spirits of the water."

Swiftwing saw the carving looked much like a stylised fish hook, it also had another carving within it that was inlaid with the swirling patterns of the abalone, its blue and green colours reminding him of the sea, he carefully placed it around his neck, the cool touch suddenly gave him a sense of calm and peace.

"All of these pieces have their own power and will help to not only protect you but will give you access to all the old ones of the spirit world, they carry a strong Mana, Spiritual Power so that you can now call on our spirits as well as your own."

Morehu leaned back into the cane back rest and watched as Swiftwing got used to the new items of power, it was the first time Morehu had carried such powerful Taonga outside his home country but his Brother Dream Walker had vouched for the young Apache Shaman and that was enough for him.

For the first time in many years, Swiftwing felt a tear softly run down his cheek, as a Shaman he could feel a new but different power under his hands as he felt the items settle into him.

There next followed a few more congratulatory speeches as he was welcomed into the tight circle of Elders, from there it was only a short time before the first of the drums started outside and the long night of dancing and feasting began, in all the orderly chaos that followed, there was not one angry thought or word spoken, the many varied tribes now well knew the value of co-operation.

Michael Strong had spent his time wisely, one after another, possible allies had been eliminated as either, to weak, to involved with the Prince, or just not suitable, to win over the Prince would take a special breed and normal humans had neither the strength or knowledge to defeat the Prince, Michael was left with only one possibility, to this end he began the plan to leave the country on his recruitment drive, his last remaining servant, a young man who was now about twenty five years old but had only been a young teen when Michael had gone to his sleep, set about packing for his Master.

The large stretched Humvee was loaded with clothes and as much gold as Michael thought would be needed, the windows of the Humvee were well blacked out and only the front drivers area could be seen into, Michael would make his way to Canada, there he would find a flight to Asia, the only place he could think of that might provide him warriors for the fight too come.

Knowing most of the limits of the international Council, especially in Asia, Michael had little doubt he would find what he was searching for, getting them back into the States would be the challenge, his gold reserves would take quite a hit but he still believed he had enough for his plans to work, after the destruction of the Prince, he would have ample means to replace his fortune.

Much too Michaels surprise, the trip to Canada went off with little or no problems, the new borders were not guarded like in the old days and everything was more relaxed, his crossing was done in the middle of the night when the border guards were tired and thinking only of their beds, once in Canada, Michael began a search for a private jet, it would be the easiest way for him to move around.

Once the jet had been hired, Michael had set the flight plan as a trip to Alaska, from there he would make a new flight plan that would take them to Vladivostok and then on into China where he hoped his old acquaintances were still alive and available, it was these friends he pinned most of his hopes on, they were not part of nor known by the Vampire Council, they kept strictly to themselves.

From China he would go back East to Japan, he still had long time contacts within the Yakuza, for gold they would do anything he asked as long as the price was right, slowly Michael would build his force with the best he could get, his plans were being put into action and soon, he would have back his country but, this time it would be under his rule and his people would take their rightful place at the top of the food chain.

Peter sat alone down in the lounge, Swiftwing had been away for five days and no word had arrived about how long he would be away, for the first time since becoming the Prince of House Vladd, Peter felt truly alone, the silence of the house during the daylight hours was becoming depressing and the absence of Swiftwing only went to make it more noticeable.

Peter let a long sad sigh escape his lips as his mind tried to draw pictures of why Swiftwing was still absent, all sorts of dire scenarios ran through his head, it was most unlike his lover to not at least send some form of message once a day to tell him how he was missed but, this time there was not a word, as yet he still did not fully understand the things his Shaman lover did, his longing only grew as more time passed without word.

Deep within his heart, Peter felt something was wrong but he could not put his finger on it, there was nothing on the vampnet that was out of the ordinary and there were no murmurings of discontent among the Vaga, the World Council had not contacted him for some time so all was well there, what this disquiet was he had no idea but there was something out there that was a threat to him and his friends.

On the international scene there were only the usual murmurs of political disharmony, someone crossed another's border while flying, someone else refused an entry visa for some dictators Ambassador, the European Union was still having financial troubles as Germany tried to take over all the banking responsibilities and therefore increase its overall hold on the smaller countries who were now deep in debt to Germany.

After the big crash America was now pushed back into a role it was not used too, that of being a one time power that was now in decline, it was the same story of many ancient, one time Empires, all eventually came to their knees as they tried to be more than they could, but still Peter was unsure of things around him, the nagging feeling was still there, he wished his Swiftwing would return soon he hated the loneliness, even with a house full of people Peter felt alone and, until Swiftwing was back by his side, he would be discontented and feeling low.


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