Castle Roland

Who Is He

by Eric Aune


Chapter 30

Posted: N/A

Zebulon swung the sword a few times and shook his head. "Thank you for the courtesy. I don't suppose I could have one of those tasty looking blood sacks to snack upon before we begin?" Robert shook his head with a stern expression. Zebulon shrugged before he saluted and Robert returned with his own salute.

The two Patriarchs slowly circled each other as they sized each other up. Jason noticed movement at the doors of the manor and saw that Chris and his friends along with Richard and Michael had now stepped outside. Since the fighting was over and they had come out to watch what was happening. Jason walked over to them to stand next to Chris.

As they circled each other, Zebulon grinned at Robert while lazily swinging his sword a few times in a moulinet maneuver (This is when a person swings a sword in big vertical circles, first on one side and then on the other. It is usually used more as a way to loosen and exercise a swordsman's wrist rather than as an attack move. - author). He seemed to be trying to give the impression he had nothing to worry about from Robert and was putting on a show with flashy moves for his audience.

Robert merely watched Zebulon, not the swinging sword. His sword never wavered as he kept it pointing toward his opponent as they gracefully circled around each other. Zebulon kept that mocking smile on his face the entire time.

The sudden move was so fast, that to the humans that were watching, it was almost a blur as Zebulon leaped at Robert. For the next few minutes the air was filled with the ringing sounds of the swords as they were struck against each other. The two combatants moved back and forth; within the open area.

Multiple times Zebulon sprang back before re-engaging. Zebulon's moves were very flashy with big fancy movements that would have made a Hollywood director happy.

Robert, meanwhile, was precise and in complete control of his movements. Robert never moved his sword more than was necessary, whether parrying or attacking. He was a picture of grace and power in complete control.

The duel seemed like it would last for hours as neither looked to be slowing down or tiring and then it happened, Robert found an opening and a cut appeared on Zebulon's cheek. He jumped back and hissed in surprise and anger as he glared at Robert. Robert returned his look with a calm expression of his own, doing nothing more than lifting an eyebrow slightly. Zebulon charged back into the fight.

The onlookers now saw that Robert was the more skilled and that he had merely been gauging Zebulon's skill with the sword. Now Robert started pressing the attack and more and more cuts started to appear on Zebulon. On the arm, the back, the leg, the chest, the belly; none of them were very deep or long, but enough to draw some blood, and anger or annoy his opponent.

Zebulon's shirt was darkened with the blood he was losing and was tattered in several places. His face was transformed in his anger and he started to feel the blood loss weakening him. He put all his speed and strength in an attempt to bowl Robert over and end this fight.

Robert made a quick feint, moved to the side and swung his sword low as Zebulon passed. His attack cut Zebulon behind both knees, cutting the tendons there and causing him to fall hard to the ground as he legs collapsed beneath him. Robert paused a moment looking at his fallen enemy.

Zebulon struggled to get up, but could not stand as Robert's attack had hamstrung him. He could only get as far as his knees. He shuffled around as he turned to face Robert. He pointed his sword towards Robert.

"C'mon! I'm not done yet!" he yelled.

Robert gazed at him calmly, "You are beaten Zebulon, lay your sword down and accept your defeat."

Zebulon motioned Robert forward "I can hold you off, while I heal, you know I'll be fine in a moment and then we can continue this," he sneered.

Robert leaped forward and there was the sound of the swords striking once, twice and then a meaty thunk and Zebulon's sword flew to the side, his hand still clutching the hilt. Robert landed behind Zebulon and looked down on him. He tried to turn around and face Robert.

"Zebulon Marks, for your many evil acts in the two hundred years of your life in darkness, your sentence is the final death," he said in a loud voice so that all could hear, then his sword flashed out and down and Zebulon Marks' head separated from his body. A moment later, when it landed on the ground, the head, body and separated hand, turned to dust and the Marks/Beloch vampire clan was no more.

Robert straightened back up and walked over to where Zebulon had tossed his coat. He cleaned his sword blade off and sheathed it. He then walked over to where Zebulon's blade was and gave it a quick wipe before ripping the hidden sheath from inside the long coat. He sheathed the sword before turning towards the last of the Marks Nosferatu and Marius' Vargr.

"Eric, Philip, put a guard on these vermin. Lieutenant, if I can use some of your men as well," McCoy nodded his agreement. "The rest of you, check the bodies. Any of our people that are injured but alive, care for them. Any enemy wounded, destroy them," Robert ordered. He then walked over to stand next to the Lieutenant as they watched the process.

"How did you know to come?" Robert asked McCoy.

"We got a call from Cadet Grayson," McCoy pointed to where Chris and the others stood. "We already knew about the attack on them, so I alerted the team and we waited to hear anything more. When the cadet called, he told us where to go." McCoy replied. Robert nodded slightly.

When it was done, Robert turned to his friends, "Philip, take as many as you like and take these vermin to the Marks estate. Allow them to take any personal belongings and leave. The remaining members of Marius' pack will stay here, under guard, until tomorrow. At which time, Eric, will you arrange for them to return to their pack location, oversee their packing up and leaving of the area?" He asked.

Eric nodded and turned to Cliff, "Cliff, take whomever you wish and handle it," he ordered.

Cliff nodded and soon there were two groups of guards. Philip and most of the surviving Furginson members herded the Marks vampires into a couple of nearby vans. They were soon on their way. Clifford had several of Eric's pack members herding the remaining Vargr to another part of the estate.

The Lieutenant's radio crackled.

"David 21 to Swat 7."

"Swat 7."

"Sir, we need you across the street. It's bad, we have some children here."

"On my way, Swat 7 out."

McCoy looked at Robert, "I gotta go," he stated.

Robert nodded and looked at Jason, "Jason, Patrick go with them," he ordered.

The two nodded.

"I'm going too," Chris declared as he looked at his dad.

Michael paused for a moment before nodding, "The boys and I will go as well," he said in agreement and handed his gun to Richard. McCoy nodded and they headed toward the gate at a trot.

As they exited the grounds they saw several police officers up and down the street. One officer spied them and waved from the front door of the house across the street. They headed toward him and he ushered them inside. Inside they saw the children who were now untied and covered by blankets. They were crying and a couple of policemen were trying to comfort them, with little success.

Michael and the three boys paused for just a moment before moving over to the kids and took over for the officers. The fact that they weren't in uniform, and were dressed like regular people, seemed to help and soon they were meeting some success in calming them down. While they comforted the children, Patrick and Jason moved among them and gently placed their hand on each child, willing them to sleep. They fell asleep in the arms of Michael and the boys.

The only one who was still awake was the oldest. McCoy was talking to him quietly. When he finished, he placed his hand on the teen's shoulder and led him over to the others to sit on a chair. Patrick got up as if to leave the room, but silently turned and the boy had only a moment's warning when Patrick touched his neck, and then he, too, was asleep.

"These are the children of the owners of this house and the two on either side of it. Their parents were killed earlier when this Marks guy and his people attacked them. Can you ask Robert to see what he can do for them? After what they've seen, I would like to keep them out of the system if possible." McCoy asked.

Patrick nodded, "We'll tell Robert. I know he and Eric will do everything that they can to help them," he replied.

Patrick turned to the others. "Why don't we bring them over to Robert's for tonight? We'll start working on making sure they are safe and cared for tomorrow."

The rest of them nodded and moments later they were carrying the children out of the house and back across to Robert's estate. Upon entering the front door, others took their burdens and took them upstairs to rest. Jason and Patrick led the others into Robert's study. As they entered, they heard a ding from the bullet the Robert had just dropped into a metal bowl that George was holding for him after removing it from Nicky.

"Thanks George," he said with a smile. He looked at Nicky, "There you go pup. That was the last one. You just rest now."

Nicky nodded through half open eyes, "Thank you sir."

He then let his eyes drift close. The other couch had Jamie lying on it. His eyes were closed as well. That caused them to be a little worried, until they saw the even rise and fall of his chest as he slept.

They went over to join their families. They watched as Robert opened a large safe. He took the two swords, put them into the safe, and closed it. At his desk he pressed a button and the wall behind him closed, covering up the monitors and safe. He then took a seat at his desk and gave them a smile.

"Let me start by saying that I am heartily sorry for everything that has befallen you and your families tonight, but that is over. You will have nothing to worry about concerning those people ever again. Their power is broken. By this time tomorrow, not a one of them will be found anywhere nearby. The nearest that I expect to see any of them is at least one state away from here. They have been warned to not show themselves, any of them, or else. So I can assure you that you are safe from them," he paused and noticed that they youngest were asleep or almost asleep. "I think anything else can wait until tomorrow. It has been a long and eventful day and I'm sure that all of you would do well with a night of sleep," he waved for George who had reentered the room. "George will see to your needs. Sleep well."

Robert stood up and walked them to the door of his study. Michael carried Tyler who was completely out, while Robin and Jessie stumbled along, herded along by their mothers. George led them upstairs and into the suite of rooms that they had used a few days before. Tyler woke up enough to ask if he could sleep with Chris and the other guys. Michael nodded and Chris helped him get undressed and under the covers of the large bed that they were using. The rest that were able to, keep their eyes opened long enough to get cleaned up before getting into bed.

As soon as Chris got in bed, Tyler seemed to sense him there and cuddled up with him. Chris put his arms around his little brother and Tyler settled down to sleep.

Sometime during the night Tyler started giving out little moans and whimpers. Chris woke up when he felt Tyler moving around. When he opened his eyes he saw that Tyler's face was scrunched up and there was some sweat on his face. He looked a little scared. Chris gently put his arms around Tyler and whispered to him "Shh, Ty. Everything is alright, you're safe." Chris hugged him and stroked his back, giving him little kisses on his head.

Eventually Tyler started to calm down, once he was calm, he slowly opened his eyes and was looking at Chris, "I had a bad dream," he said softly.

"Jamie and Nicky were chasing me and growling. They had big teeth and claws and I couldn't run fast enough. Then they changed back into boys and I felt better. Are they monsters?"

Chris was silent as he thought how best to answer Tyler. Because of everything that happened, he couldn't say it wasn't real. Tyler saw them and the others like Jason. "Ty….because of everything that happened; you know that some monsters are real, right?"

Tyler nodded.

"Well, not all of them are monsters. Like, you know some kids in your class are not very nice and there some others who are bullies and like to pick on kids that are littler than they are?"

Tyler nodded again.

"Well, that's what those bad monsters are like. They are big bullies, and there a people like Jamie and Nicky, and their dad Eric, who are like the guys that don't like bullies and always stop them from hurting other kids. So the bad dream was because you saw some bad things and it scared you," Chris explained.

Tyler was quiet for a little bit before he said anything, "So even though Jamie and Nicky can turn into wolves, they won't eat me?" he asked hopefully.

Chris nodded, "Yep, in fact, they would fight off anyone who wanted to hurt you. They like you a lot Tyler, and they love playing with you when they change into wolves."

He could see a little smile on Tyler's face, "Good, I like playing with them, too. It's like I have two dogs to play with. The other ones, you know the…uh…vampires, like Jason? Are they like Jamie and Nicky?"

Chris chuckled a little and hugged his brother, "Yeah, they are. They don't like the bad monsters either, because they are like bullies too and they don't like bullies. So they make sure we're safe also."

Tyler snuggled up to Chris again and he heard a muffled, "Good, I like Jason, night Chris."

Chris gave him a peck on the head, "Me, too, night Ty." In no time at all, they were both asleep.

A movement from the shadows revealed Jason as he stood up from the shadow covered chair that he had been sitting in. He walked silently over to the sleeping boys and smiled at them. He reached out and gently touched both of them, and helped ease them into a restful sleep. He then leaned down and gave each boy a gentle kiss on the cheek before leaving the room.

The next morning, Chris slowly opened his eyes when he felt a slight pressure on his lips. He found himself looking up into….BRYCE. As he sat up in shock, Bryce jumped back and he could hear Travis and Tyler laughing from nearby. He scowled at his boyfriend, grabbed one of the pillows on the bed and threw it, catching Travis in the face and knocking him flat on the bed.

Bryce was laughing, "You shoulda….hahaha….seen your face."

Chris grabbed another pillow and jumped out of bed and started chasing Bryce around the room. Bryce dove on the bed and grabbed a pillow to defend himself. Within moments the four boys were in a full blown pillow fight and laughing.

"HEY! HEY! What's going on in here!" they stopped and turned to face the doors to the room. Michael was standing there with a smile on his face, holding their bags.

They stopped the pillow fight and gave him sheepish smiles. "Sorry dad. I guess we kind of got carried away."

Michael shook his head, "Get cleaned up. They brought our bags up. Hurry up, so we can go downstairs for breakfast."

Chris tossed the pillow onto the bed and walked over to his dad, "Kay dad, we'll hurry up."

They claimed their bags as Michael closed the door behind him. They quickly took showers and changed into some clean clothes. They met the rest of Chris' family in the common room of the suite. Michael led them out the door and into the hall where they met up with the other families. The entire group made their way downstairs to the dining room. The windows and back patio doors were covered. The table was set for everyone. Sitting at the head of the table was Patrick. Jason and Eric were there as well.

"Good morning," Patrick greeted them. "Help yourselves, there is plenty," he said as he gestured to several covered metal chafing dishes that were set up on a nearby counter.

They all picked up plates and served themselves before sitting down at the table. There was plenty of food, so that those who wished to could get as much food as they would like. Something occurred to Chris, when he came back to the table with his second helping.

He looked over toward Patrick as he sat down, "Patrick, where are the other kids?"

Patrick nodded his understanding of their concern, "They are upstairs in the rooms we set aside for them. They've had a traumatic time and some of Eric's people are up there helping them out. Robert did what he could for them until late last night, but it will still be a difficult time for them. We thought it would be better for them to be cared for without having to meet a bunch of extra people and all that."

The adults at the table nodded in agreement with his statement. They were just finishing up breakfast when there was a faint clicking of toenails on the hardwood floor, that was barely noticeable because of the sound of plates and cutlery.

Tyler was sitting there eating when he felt something wet against his elbow "Aiiieee!" he let out a little scream and dropped his fork on the plate. He whipped around in the seat and saw two wolves sitting there. Both of them had worried looks on their faces, including puppy dog eyes. "JAMIE! NICKY!" Tyler yelled, as he jumped out of his seat and pulled both in a hug.

There was an immediate change in their demeanor as they started whimpering and licking Tyler on his face. He tried to duck his head, but they were persistent and kept nosing their way in underneath his arms and kept up the steady lick attack.

Tyler was on the floor giggling, "Stop….hehehe…Stop, c'mon guys."

The two wolves pulled away and quickly left the room, returning a few moments later dressed in long robes. Tyler got up and went over to hug the two teens.

"We're glad you still like us Tyler, now that you know what we are."

Tyler looked up at the two of them, "Chris told me that you and your dad are the kind of people that don't like bullies and besides you're fun to play with."

Many of those in the room laughed as the twins gave Tyler another hug before grabbing some plates and getting some food for themselves.

Patrick silently watched them eat until he was sure they were pretty much finished. When he was satisfied he stood up, "If you will excuse me, it is time now for some plans. Robert asked me to suggest that you all wait until this evening before you leave, for a couple of reasons. The first is, he wants to make sure everything is safe and second, he has people repairing the damage to your home, Mr. and Mrs. Hale," he said as he looked at Michael and Heather.

Michael nodded, agreeing with what Patrick said, "We'll stay."

He looked over at their friends. The two other couples looked at each other before they shrugged and turned back to Michael and nodded, "We'll stay as well."

Patrick nodded, "Good. Please make yourselves at home. Robert will talk to you all this evening. For now, if you need anything, ask any of the staff. They are at your service. Good day," Patrick said before leaving the room.

Jamie and Nicky stood up and Jamie nudged Tyler and smiled at him, motioning with his head toward the back doors. Tyler smiled after a moment and the twins went over to door and opened it. They gave Tyler one more smile and then ran out the back, as they disappeared from sight, they made the change. By the time Tyler was at the back door, the two wolves came trotting back into sight. They sat and looked at Tyler. They both had doggy smiles on their faces. One of them cocked its head to the side and the other let out a short bark. Tyler just laughed and started running at them. Both of them jumped up and started running away, letting Tyler chase them.

Robin, Jessie and the moms, went riding around the estate, with one of the grooms along to make sure they didn't get hurt and to guide them around so that didn't get lost. The men and the other boys tossed a football around and played some touch football. Eventually Tyler and the twins came up to them. The twins were still wolves at the moment. The game had stopped so that they players could get some water to drink, since it was a pretty hot day.

Tyler walked over to Chris and pulled him away a little, "Hey Chris," he whispered, "Jamie wants to know if you guys wanna go naked swimming?" he asked with a conspiratorial smile.

Chris smiled and ruffled Tyler's hair, "I'll ask Trav," he replied.

Chris walked over to where Travis was talking to his brother, "Travis, can I ask you something?"

Travis turned from Troy and nodded.

"I mean over here," he said as he pulled Travis a few feet away. When they were far enough from the others, he stopped and leaned in close, "Tyler and the twins want to know if we want to go naked swimming," Chris said with a smile.

Travis chuckled a little and nodded, "I'll tell the others," he said.

Moments later, four boys and two wolves were running off into the woods at the back of the yard and disappeared down a trail. A few minutes later they were at the edge of the pool and the two wolves changed into their teen selves before jumping into the pool. The other boys were quickly stripping their clothes off and tossing them to the side. As soon as one had stripped he was in the pool seconds later. The six of them were soon having a great time splashing each other and wrestling around.

When they finally got tired enough, they got out and lay down on the large flat rock near the edge of the pool. Soon, some of the boys started dozing off in the warm afternoon sun. As they dozed off, some yellow eyes watched them from the bushes nearby. The eyes moved forward slowly, and quietly, to reveal a very large wolf coming out of the bushes. At the edge it eyed the six boys dozing away on the rock. It opened its mouth with a wolfish grin and slowly moved forward a few steps, paused, moved again, paused and crouched down a little as it moved forward. Soon, it had made its way over so that it was near to Nicky. It moved even slower as it crept up close. It seemed to hold its breath as it leaned over Nicky near his neck. The wolf lowered its muzzle until it was almost touching Nicky and then reached out and licked him.

Nicky leaped into the air in surprise and yelled, "Yaaaaa! What the fu…."

The others joined him in yelling as they all woke up, and jumped up trying to figure out what was going on. They all heard a weird sort of sound and looked towards where the sound was coming from. The sight they saw was one of the strangest sights they had ever seen. A huge wolf was rolling around on the ground and making a weird yipping type sound. It took the twins a moment until they realized that it was laughing.

"DAAAAAD!" They complained.

The wolf looked over at them and then started rolling around and 'laughing' some more. Jamie and Nicky turned into wolves and stood there growling at the larger wolf. It finally got itself under control, and with one last big wolf grin, it turned and disappeared into the bushes.

The twins turned back into their human forms, "I think it's time we headed back." Jamie said to the others.

They nodded and started walking around and grabbing up the clothes that they had flung everywhere in their haste in getting in the water. Within a few minutes they were all dressed and headed back to the house. The twins found their robes had been laid across some bushes near the trailhead. They grabbed them and went back a little ways on the trail to change.

When they got to the backyard patio, they saw the adults were all there and they seemed to be laughing at something that Eric was telling them. When they saw the boys, a couple of the men grinned at them. The twins glared at Eric when they got to the patio.

"Not cool Dad. That was so not cool," Nicky said sternly.

Eric just laughed a little more, "Maybe son, but it was funny. I think you could have set an Olympic High Jump record with your jump. Maybe you should try out, you never know. I'll just tell the coach that you do best when you're surprised. Then you could just doze off next to the high jump and we can ask your brother to lick you. That oughta guarantee at least a silver medal if not the gold." Eric said as he tried to keep from laughing at his son.

"Ha…Ha…very funny, paybacks a bitch, Dad." Nicky warned.

Eric waved his finger at him, "Never happen, you're not sneaky enough," he said.

Nicky folded his arms, "We'll see. Someday, when you least expect it, I'm getting' you back good," he warned, "I almost peed my pants."

Eric laughed, "What pants. I didn't see any pants."

Nicky and the rest of the guys turned a bit red when Eric said that; when they realized that everyone heard what he had said. The others laughed at the boy's red faces. To get away from any further embarrassment at their parents hands, the guys went inside to the media room to see what was on cable.

The guys had just finished watching a movie on cable when one of the housekeepers came in to let them know that dinner was ready. When they entered the dining room they saw the other members of their families were there and they were joined by Robert. He smiled at them as they entered the room and he stood up. He motioned for them to be seated.

Once he saw that everyone was settled he took a sip of his goblet. "Good evening my friends. Once again I want to tender my apologies for everything you have had to deal with for the last couple of days. As of this moment you can rest much easier. I have had some people take care of the damage to your house Michael, so tomorrow you can return home. For now, enjoy dinner, and we'll talk more later."

Dinner was very good and much of the time there wasn't much said because they were enjoying the meal. Once everyone was done, Eric leaned over to Jamie and whispered something in his ear. Jamie nodded and he and Nicky got all of the younger kids to follow them to the media room.

Once they were gone, Robert stood up again, "If you will join me in the study, I have more news for the rest of you." He waited until everyone was standing before he led the way out of the room.

When they got to the study, they saw that Jason, Patrick and Philip were in there waiting for them. Jason smiled when he saw Chris and his parents. Robert waved to Philip and Philip asked if anyone wanted anything to drink. Robert waited until everyone was taken care of and had made themselves comfortable before he said anything else.

"Let me start with telling you that the Marks family is broken, and the few members of the clan that are left, are now far from here. I have a couple of my people making sure they leave the state. The family has also been sanctioned by the council, and as such, they have no standing. Everything belonging to Zebulon now belongs to me, everything. Also, Eric's people are getting the remaining members of Marius' pack out of state as well. You will no longer have anything to fear from them." Eric nodded in agreement to Robert's statement.

"What about those kids from across the street," Meredith asked.

Robert's smile of satisfaction turned serious, "You have my word that they will be taken care of. Eric's pack mate Cliff, who specializes in helping kids who have been hurt, is taking care of them. All of their parents were killed when they were attacked, so Cliff is looking into what other family they may have, and doing what he can to get them back to them. If no family is found, Cliff will see that they have good homes. Further, I have established a trust fund for each of them that they can use for college or anything else that they need. If they do not go to college, they have full control of it when they turn 21. It should be enough to help start them in life." he explained.

The adults nodded thoughtfully at that information. He looked at them for a moment before continuing, "For everything that you and your families have suffered through, I wish to give each family five million dollars. This is free and clear, no strings attached. I will not at any time request or require anything of you. To show you that I mean what I say, I have had my lawyers draw up a binding agreement between myself and each family," he explained.

Robert looked at Patrick, "Patrick do you have those papers?"

Patrick nodded and brought a file that he held in his hand over and gave it to Robert.

Robert took it and opened it up. He walked over to where the families were sitting and handed each family a single sheet of paper. Robert walked back over to his desk and placed the file on top of it. He turned back to the families.

He gave them a few minutes to look the paper over. When they finished he continued, "As you can see, it clearly states that I have no way of asking anything of you at any time. The money is yours completely and irrevocably. If you wish a lawyer to look it over first, I have no issues with that. Otherwise, as you can see my notarized signature is in place and if you choose you can sign this tonight. One of my staff is a notary public and he will notarize you signature. Once that is completed I will hand you a cashier's check for the full amount. I will give you my lawyer's business card; he will assist you in depositing, and even investing, if you wish." Robert finished and waited.

"Robert would it be possible for us…" Michael said as he motioned to the other family members in the room, "…discuss this among ourselves before we decide?"

Robert nodded in agreement, "I think that is an excellent idea. Why don't you go back to the dining room, we will stay here until your return."

The families, including the three teens, left the room and returned to the dining room where they began to discuss the offer in low voices. They went over the document carefully. None were lawyers, but as Robert had told them it was a very simple and clear document. They saw, that according to the terms laid out in the document, what Robert said was correct. There was nothing saying that he could renege or ask anything else of them as a requirement of them accepting the money. It did, in fact, specifically say that he could not do those things, or he would be in breach of contract and liable for twice the amount.

Robert and his people refilled their goblets while they waited for the families to rejoin them. Several minutes later the door to the study opened and the families rejoined them in the study.

"We have looked them over and although none of us are lawyers, you are correct in that it appears to very simple and straight forward and we have decided to sign," Michael stated as the other adults nodded in agreement.

Robert smiled, "Excellent. I am glad that you have agreed. You can trust me on this, as I hold with the covenant that my honor is my life,"

Michael led the way to Robert's desk and waited while Robert pushed a button on his intercom, "George please join us in the study and bring your notary book and equipment," he looked at them as he sat down in his chair. "George will be here in a moment."

Michael nodded,

Robert was true to his word and George appeared with a briefcase in his hand. He took out his book, stamp and stamp pad and placed them on the desk. Robert took a second copy of each agreement from his file and gave them to George. He handed Michael a pen and he and Heather signed both papers. George witnessed and stamped each signature, noting the information in his notary book. The action was repeated two more times until all of the papers were signed. As each family signed the papers, Robert reached into the file and pulled out a cashier's check that he handed to them along with his lawyer's business card.

"George, would you be so kind as to open the Champaign. I think this is cause for a little celebratory drink," Robert suggested.

The families smiled and nodded in agreement. Everyone was given a glass, even the three teens, although they were only allowed a small amount.

Robert stood and raised his glass, "To your families, may you never know hardship." He, Philip, Patrick and Jason held metal goblets up as they drank the toast. The toast was made.

When the boys tasted their drinks all of them screwed up their faces and stuck out their tongues, "Yeech!" They were rubbing their noses as the bubbles from the Champaign tickled their nose.

"Man that tastes nasty." Travis said as he set his glass down, the other boys followed suit.

The adults laughed. "Well, it is an acquired taste," Michael said.

"Then I don't want to acquire it," Chris replied as he kept sticking his tongue in and out of his mouth, trying to get the taste to go away.

Michael then looked at the four vampires in the room and raised his glass, "I would also like to offer a toast. A short time ago, if someone had said I would be here, in this place, drinking a toast to…people such as you. I would have called the mental hospital and had him committed," there were a couple of smiles at that, "But I would like to thank you, on behalf of my family, for protecting and saving us from a terrible fate. Thank you Robert, Jason, Philip, Patrick and Eric, and all of your people, for what you have done for us. May it never be necessary again," Michael finished and drained his glass. Around him you could hear several people agreeing with that sentiment as they all finished their drinks.

"Well, my friends, I have some further business to conclude this evening, so if you will excuse me, Jason will see you out," Robert said. "Tomorrow morning after breakfast, Eric's men will give you a ride home. Until we see each other again, I wish you a happy life."

They each shook Robert's hand and thanked him for his generous gift before they left the room. When Chris came to him, he bit his lower lip before speaking, "Sir, could I ask you something?" he asked.

Robert looked at him a moment before nodding.

Chris again bit his lower lip, "I don't know if this is rude to ask, and I apologize if it is, but can you tell me how old you really are?"

Everyone became quiet as they waited to hear what Robert said. He smiled at Chris, "Let me tell you a little story. A long time ago in England, which is where I am from, there was a very bad king. He did not follow the Code of Chivalry, as I and my friends did, and this caused hardship across England. I was one of the leaders that forced this king to accept an agreement that was better for all Englishmen. This agreement is pretty well known now, and in fact, it influenced this country when you wrote up your laws." He paused as he looked at the other adults and he saw that some were making the connection. "The king was King John Plantagenet, the brother of King Richard, Couer De Lion, or more commonly called Richard the Lionheart, and the document was the Magna Carta. At that time I was known as Robert FitzWalter. If you ever get a chance to see this document, you will see my signature on that document," he explained. All those in the room who had not known who he was stood in shock.

Robert had a twinkle in his eye as he looked at them and his accent became more pronounced as he continued the story, "During the fifth crusade, my patrol was ambushed one evening. We fought well and drove off the Saracens who had attacked us. We also captured a few of them. We planned to take them with us so that they could be put to the question about the whereabouts of their forces. During the night, as commander, I was wont to walk the perimeter to be sure all was well. I found one of my men had decided to take it upon himself to kill the captured Saracens, because he had lost a brother to them a few months earlier and his heart was filled with hate towards them. I struck the man down and called my men to me. When they gathered, I denounced the man as unchivalrous and told them all that any who molested the prisoners would be also so denounced. I then took up their guard, mine own self, and protected them in the night. There were no problems as we made our way back to our fortress. That night, I again warned all of them to not molest the prisoners. I set guard a friend that I trusted. Just after we settled for the night, we were attacked by a large force of Saracens. We fought well and for a time, I thought we would prevail, but alas it was not to be. I was felled by a Saracen arrow and soon all my men were killed or captured."

Robert unconsciously brought his hand up to his chest and rubbed it slightly before he continued. "As I lay there waiting for the end a Saracen came and knelt beside me. Behind his veil his eyes seemed to almost glow they were so bright. He looked down at me and thanked me for the care that I had shown his men, and then he asked me a strange question. He asked if he could make it so that I could return to my own country would I allow him to make it so; would I take it what he offered? I thought of my wife and son Robert, who I believed I would never see again and knowing that the Saracens were said to be skilled in the healing arts, I nodded, thinking that was what he meant. The man unhooked his veil, and then he grasped the arrow and yanked it out of my chest. I cried out at the sudden pain and then passed out. I awoke several days later in locked room. I found, to my dismay, that I was unclothed and lying on a stone slab, but I was alive. My chest did not hurt at all and when I looked there was no mark where the arrow had hit me. A short time later I heard the door as it was unlocked and opened. The Saracen came in; behind him another Saracen carried my clothes, armor and sword. Once he set the articles down he left the room, and I heard the click of the lock once again. He introduced himself as Sheik Afzal Al Aziz. He then proceeded to tell me what had happened, and that was how I was turned."

Robert paused for a moment and picked his goblet up to take a drink.

"Sir, did you go home to England?" Chris asked.

When he looked around he saw that the others had retaken their seats as he recounted his tale.

Robert put the goblet down and nodded, "Yes, I did. Once I accustomed myself to my changed circumstances, Afzal assisted me in securing passage back to England. It was a long journey, but I eventually made it back home, before the crusade was over. I told all that asked that I had to leave and convalesce after sustaining a grave injury. I settled my affairs and eventually turned them over to my son. I had confided to him what had happened to me and he told all that I had died peacefully as a consequence of the wound I had received in the crusade. I then took another name and for a time I watched over my family and descendants and slowly, over time, built up my wealth. I eventually took the name Robert Furginson and I have carried that name ever since."

Everyone was quiet as they looked at this man who, though he looked like he was in his late 30's, was in reality over 800 years old.

The silence was broken by Bryce "Whoa," was all he said.

Robert chuckled. "Yes, it has been quite an interesting life. Now if you will excuse me, I really must attend to several items of importance." Robert said.

The families all stood up, thanked him once again as they left. At the door Chris turned and looked back at Robert, "Is he still alive too?"

Robert looked at him quizzically.

"The Sheik?" Chris clarified.

Robert nodded, "Yes, he is as far as I know. I have not seen him since World War I, when I was last in that area."

Chris nodded and left the room. Jason closed the door, they walked side by side, his arm draped across Chris' shoulder as they made their way to join the rest of the family. The adults were subdued as they thought about what they had just been told.

The families stayed together in the media room and relaxed until the younger kids started to nod off, before they herded them up to bed. The boys were the last to go. Once they got up to their room, Jason made sure everyone was comfortable. Jason stood over by the windows in the common room of the suite. Chris joined him there before he joined his friends in the bedroom.

"Ja….Jason, after tomorrow, am I going to see you again?" he asked quietly.

Jason turned to him and smiled. "From time to time, now that I know you are safe. I'll check in on you, especially during baseball season, I still love the game and I want to watch you play. I'm looking forward to seeing how you do," he said as he pulled Chris into a one armed hug.

"If you ever need me, I'll be there as soon as I can."

Chris nodded and leaned against him a little and placed his arm around this waist. "I hope so," Chris murmured.

Jason turned a little and kissed him on the side of the head, "You should get your sleep, I'll watch over you. Good night Chris."

Chris nodded once again. He glanced back and gave Jason a slight wave before he entered the bedroom and closed the door behind him.

The next morning, after another wonderful breakfast, the families gathered their few belongings that they had taken with them, went downstairs and were met by Jason, Eric, Jamie and Nicky. Out front were three SUVs driven by three of Eric's people.

Eric came up to them, "My friends will see you safely home. Good bye and good luck. I have some pack business to attend to, but I did want to say goodbye first." He shook hands with them before turning back into the house.

Jamie and Nicky helped the others out to the SUVs, while Michael, Heather and Chris hung back with Jason.

Chris went over to Jason and hugged him, "Bye for now Jason, thanks for everything. I hope to see you again sometime," Chris said, his eyes a little misty.

Jason hugged him close, "Don't worry, you will. I'll come by and visit when I can. I will call before I come by the house, but you can be sure, every chance I get, I will come to watch you play, so you better practice. I expect you to make Varsity quickly, you and your friends." He gave Chris a kiss on his head before he let him go.

Jason stepped back and gave Chris a push toward the door. Chris left the house.

Michael and Heather moved up and Jason gathered them both into a hug, "Take care of him, guys. You two are the best friends a guy could ever have. I'm glad that since I couldn't be there that you were Mikey. You've both done a great job with him."

They hugged in silence for a moment more before they pulled back. All of them had tears in their eyes. Heather handed him a folded piece of paper.

"What's this?" he asked puzzled.

"That's the phone number and address for your parents," Heather explained.

Jason unfolded it and shook his head, "I can't. Thank you, but I just can't, at least not right now, maybe sometime later. Please promise me you will say nothing about this to them. They can't know. I will try to see them sometime, if I can, but they can't know. Promise me!" he pleaded.

They nodded a moment later, "Sure Jace. We won't say a thing and we'll make sure Chris and the others know not to say anything as well. You do it in your time and manner, if you can. Maybe you could think about telling Sean sometime soon though, if you can." Michael said.

Jason nodded absently as he folded the paper and put it in his pocket. He looked towards the open door, "You should get going. I'll call you when I can and come visit."

They nodded and Heather gave him one more kiss and they turned, closing the door behind them when they left.

The drive home was uneventful. At home they quickly retrieved their belongings and went inside. Travis got permission from his parents to spend the night with Chris. Each of the families pretty much stayed at home the rest of the day. No one felt much like doing anything. They saw that all the damage that had been done to their homes had been repaired and there was new carpeting and furniture to replace what had been destroyed during the attack.

What surprised them most was that with everything that had happened, their neighbors weren't overly curious. Jason came by about a week later, to tell them he was going to be out of town for a little while handling some of Robert's business and they asked him about it.

Jason laughed, "It's called Glamour. Robert had some of our clan members, sort of blur their memories a little, so that it didn't seem as big of an event as it really was. That is one of the advantages we have over you folks. It helps keep our identity hidden as much as possible."

"How come you didn't do that to us?" Chris asked, "I know you did that, back when I was nine."

Jason shrugged, "You're family. Especially since you're marked, as you are now, you and your friends that is. It's a little harder to do it on you and make it stick. The memories would resurface later, besides, I didn't want you to forget me and neither do the twins. When we do that to someone it's not very selective, it's more of an all or nothing kind of thing."

Chris nodded at his explanation.

As the summer continued, everything seemed to be back to normal. Chris and Travis became closer and enjoyed many a night at each other's house. They did their best to keep it quiet, especially at Chris' house. A couple of times, they got looks and head shakes from Travis family. That usually cooled their ardor down a little for a couple of days and they were a little more circumspect. One morning Michael took them with him to Home Depot and had a little talk with them and warned them that they need to cool it, especially with Jessie and Tyler in the house, or else they would curtail the sleepovers. They agreed, and did a better job of controlling themselves when they stayed overnight at Chris' house.

A couple of weeks before school was supposed to start for their sophomore year, the three of them and Cheryl were at the park hanging out, when a football hit Chris in the back of the head. He jumped up and picked the football up, looking around to find out where it had come from. They saw Steve Banks and four of his friends come up.

"Well if it ain't the faggot patrol and their fag hag," Banks laughed evilly.

Bryce stood up, but Cheryl grabbed his arm.

Steve saw that, "That's right faggot, let your hag fight your battles,"

"Fuck off Banks," Bryce snarled.

Steve just smiled at him, "Well faggot, you going to give me the ball back," Banks said as he looked at Chris.

Chris just held it for a few moments before tossing it back, "You're not worth it Banks. Why don't you do what Bryce said and Fuck off?"

Chris turned around and motioned for the others to leave.

Cheryl let out a shout, "Watch out!" she yelled.

Chris whipped around so fast, he was a blur, he saw the ball headed toward his head and to him it seemed like he just casually batted the football to the side, where Travis caught it.

Travis glanced at it for a moment, before he turned and kicked as far away as he could, "There, now you know which direction to Fuck off to," he said as he turned back toward them.

Bank sneered at them and made a motion with his hands. His four buddies charged Travis and Bryce. He turned his attention to Chris, "C'mon faggot, let's see what you got."

Chris looked at his friends, "They ain't gonna help you. If you're lucky, you'll walk outta here," Steve taunted him.

Chris turned back to look at Banks and his eyes got hard. Banks almost flinched at the intensity he saw in Chris' eyes, and for a moment he thought he might have made a mistake, but he saw this smaller skinnier guy standing before him and he sneered. He rushed forward intending to get the faggot on the ground and then kick the shit out of him. Instead, he was surprised as he found himself flying through the air and landing hard on the ground. He pushed himself up and turned around to look at Chris.

He stood there with his arms crossed, "I don't want to fight you Banks, so just stay down and we'll call it even." Chris warned.

Banks shook his head, "No faggot's gonna beat me," he said as he stood up.

Chris gave a little sigh and stepped back. Banks looked him up and down and then charged in swinging. Anyone who could have seen what happened would have had a hard time following what Chris had done. The only clear thing was the outcome. For a few moments, there was the sound of fists hitting flesh and several grunts. When it was over, Chris was standing a few feet away and Banks was on the ground trying to hold his nose and stomach at the same time, while groaning. The other four were not much better, as Bryce helped Travis with the last one. All five were on the ground either lying there or sitting down and shaking their head. A couple of them were just lying on the ground groaning.

Chris bent down, grabbed a handful of Banks' shirt and easily picked him up off of the ground, "Now this faggot is giving you a warning. I don't like homophobic bullies like you. If I see you bullying anyone for any reason, then I'll be back to kick your ass some more," he warned him.

Chris dropped Banks and wiped his hands off. He turned to his friends, "Let's go swimming."

Travis came over to him and gave him a sweet kiss before taking his hand and walking off with Bryce and Cheryl right behind them.

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