Castle Roland

Nightfall: Full Moon

by Roland

In Progress

Chapter 9

Posted: 3 Oct 16

Nightfall: Full Moon

Copyright © 2016 by Roland
All Rights Reserved

Colt and Runi talked quietly all night long. Only stopping when the call of the sun forced them to. Just before sunrise, the rest of the group returned, bringing with them three Humans who were forced into obeying by the older Vampires of the group. Runi took a brief moment to completely crush their wills and then forced them into a sleep that they would not wake up from till Runi allowed them to. After that, everyone found their beds for the night.

The next evening, Runi found Colt, Christina, and her father Daniel sitting on the porch speaking in quiet tones. "From everything that Runi has told me so far, we Wolf Folk were born for war. We're the ones that keep balance, the Vampires are death, we are life." Colt said to the others. "We haven't always been at war, hell, Runi said that the Vampires and Werewolves used to work together, get along, that sort of thing. But the Wolf Folk were always the more physical of the two."

"What Colt says is correct." Runi said as he made his presence known by walking out onto the porch. "When the first Lord of Twilight brought the Vampires together under his banner, he then sought out the Wolf Elders, and forged a pact with them. The Vampires would not attack them, and the Wolves would not attack us. With the two groups working together, the Humans were able to prosper. The Wolves protecting them from the shadows, and the Vampires subtly guiding them towards the future. It was an idealistic time, but one that did not last." Runi said the last with sadness in his voice.

"What did the Wolves protect the Humans from?" Daniel asked.

"Anything and everything. From wildlife, to other Wolf Folk, or Vampires, who had gone mad. We did not get involved in their wars, but we did make sure that the war was just between the Humans." Runi sat down in one of the chairs and continued. "The Wolf Folk even had their own unique fighting style. I am afraid to say one that has been lost, but to see a properly trained Wolf, in their War Form, using a large blade was something to behold."

"Then it looks like I have a job to do." Daniel said with a smile. When Runi looked at him puzzled he explained. "I have been trained in many different forms of martial arts, even training with those that were creating their own style. Perhaps with some study of the way the children move, and fight, I can come up with ideas on how to create a new fighting style."

"Ambitious." Runi said softly, then looked at both Colt and Christina. Christina was nodding her head quickly, while Colt seemed lost in thought until he too slowly nodded his head. "I believe they are agreeable. I will assist as I can." Runi said then stood up. "However, before we can do that, we need to teach Christina how to harness her Beast, and make it come forward when she wants it, not when it decides." He turned towards the two Wolves and spoke. "Come we shall do this in the woods, away from everyone else."

The two teens nodded and rose to follow, but so did Daniel. Seeing Daniel follow them, Runi stopped and turned. "You may not wish to see this."

"Why not?" He asked, then continued. "If I am going to learn how they move, then I need to see them up close and personal in their War Form."

"I understand your desire sir." Runi said softly. "However, during her first voluntary shift, she may lose control and have to be forced down by Colt or myself. If you are there, then you would be her first target."

"Why?" Daniel asked with a worried tone.

"Because..." Colt answered for Runi. "If she loses control, then all she will see is a Human.... prey."

Daniel gulped in fear as he saw, in his mind's eye, the fight that happened just last night between Colt and Christina. He and Christina had always been close, she learning everything that her dad could teach her, even from an early age. He wanted nothing more than to be able to help her now, but...

"I will do all I can to protect you." Runi said gleaming his intentions from the man's own mind. "I am fairly confident that if things go bad, Colt can handle Christina, while I protect you. However, there is one other thing that you must take into your considerations." He paused and looked at Christina, then back to Daniel. "Both of you need to decide this." When he was sure they were both paying close attention, he spoke again. "As with Colt, when Christina is taught to change, she will not be allowed to wear any clothing, as the shift will happen so fast, that she will not have a chance to disrobe before. Which means your daughter will be as naked as the day she was born."

Christina's blush covered her entire face, changing her normal alabaster white skin color to a deep hue of red. Daniel blushed as well, but not as deeply. He turned to Christina and spoke softly. "It's up to you sweetheart. I have a feeling that, with what is possibly coming, it will not be the last time I see it. Perhaps though it would be best if I waited."

Christina shook her head, as her face blushed an even deeper red. "No. Colt explained to me that unless we lose our modesty, we're going to destroy all of our clothing, rather quickly."

"You sure?" Daniel asked softly.

"Yes." Christina answered briskly, then turned towards Runi. "Let's get this over with before I lose my nerve."

"As you wish." Runi said then turned and continued into the woods. Secretly, he was pleased, as her embarrassment would take her mind off of what was happening, and perhaps, make this easier. They walked in silence for close to ten minutes before Runi found a suitable clearing. He stopped, then turned towards the two teens. "This will suffice." He said simply, then moved off to the side. "Disrobe." Runi motioned Daniel over towards him, then stood there impassively as Colt started to take his clothes off. Christina followed suit, although much slower. By the time Colt was completely naked, she had just pulled off her shirt, her blush going half way down her shoulders. She looked over and saw both Colt and her father were both expressionless, she sighed, and removed the last two articles of clothing.

Both teens stood there and looked at Runi, who just stared back. Finally he simply nodded to Colt, who turned and faced Christina. "Deep inside each of the Wolf Folk there is a Beast. Down in the center of your being it sits, and waits. Writhing with Rage at all the injustices that have been done to you through the years, all the things that have been done to Wolf Folk. Feel it, embrace it, call it forward, but control it. The Beast is there to help you, but you, Christina, are in charge." Colt watched Christina close her eyes as he spoke. "Reach for it, wrap yourself in it, bring it forth." Colt spoke softly, and when Christina opened her eyes they were flashing with blood red Rage. "Yes..." He spoke insistently. "That's it, feel the Rage, the power. Allow it to infuse every part of your body. Bring forth the War Form!" He cried out the last part, and it was echoed by Christina's own cry. Although hers was one of rage and pain.

"Sweet Jesus." Daniel muttered softly as he watched his daughter forcefully throw her shoulders back, head pointed towards the sky as her scream of pain turned to a howl of complete fury. He didn't even see Colt as he snap shifted to his War Form. He was concentrating too heavily as he watched his only daughter transform from a beautiful girl with long red hair, and pale white skin, to a blood red furred beast who stood easily six and a half feet tall. Her breasts were still visible under the fur, but now they were pure muscle.

"CONTROL!" Colt growled out, Daniel barely able to understand what he was saying. "You are in control of the Beast. It is there to help you, to guide you, but you, Christina, must be the intelligence behind that Rage."

She looked at him with red glowing eyes, poised on the balls of her feet, looking ready to attack. She threw her head back one more time and howled. Runi and Colt knew what she was howling for, and even Daniel had a good idea. She was howling out a challenge to anyone who would stand in her way. Anyone that would try to attack her, she was calling for them to come and try.

When she lowered her head, her pulsing red eyes met Colt's. She had to look up to meet his eyes, but she did. She lowered herself, as if to pounce, and Colt got ready for the attack. However, it never came. "Alpha..." She said in her guttural voice, then lowered herself to the ground, and offered him her neck.

"What's she doing?" Daniel asked.

"She's submitting..." Runi said with shock. "She's in complete control, and submitting to her Alpha."

Colt relaxed slightly, reached down with his muzzle, and gently wrapped his fangs around her neck. "Colt just accepted her submission." Runi's voice was full of shock. "I have only heard of, never seen, one who did not lose themselves to the Beast the first time they shifted. Her will... her inner strength, must be immense." His voice trailed off, as Colt withdrew his muzzle, then stepped back. Christina rose to her full height, and then playfully jumped at Colt. The two of them tussled in the dirt for several minutes, playing like pups. When they parted, Colt grinned a toothy grin, then spoke in a Wolfish language. Immediately, she shifted her form to her Wolf, Colt was only a second behind, then he took off running deeper into the woods, Christina right behind him.

"Wow." Was all Daniel said, and Runi couldn't help but agree.

Several hours later, as the Vampires sat and discussed what was going to happen next, a knock came at the door. Hank's eyes darted to the door, as his hand moved to the sword that was ever present on his back. His hand relaxed, and a grin came to his face. "Lugh... it's Hector."

Lugh grinned and moved to the door. He didn't hesitate as he opened it up to reveal a tall Hispanic teen. "Hector!" Lugh said loudly, then moved to hug the young man. Hector returned the hug and grinned.

"Rumors have been flying on the streets." He said as he moved into the room. Before he was more than a few feet into it, Connie came running around the couch and grabbed Hector into a tight hug. "Hey there girl!" He said as he swung her around. "Long time no see."

"What are you doing here?" She asked with a huge grin.

"You know me." He said as he set her down, then moved to stand in front of Hank. "I keep my ears to the ground, and hear all sorts of things." Hank stood and offered Hector his hand with a broad smile. Hector took it, then pulled the teen into a hug. He pushed Hank back and looked down at him, hands on both of the smaller teen's shoulders. "I hope this isn't inappropriate for a new House Lord."

"Never." Hank said with a smile. "Never for you." Hank stepped back and motioned to a seat. "So what brings you? We haven't seen you for almost a year."

"Well you know how I am, never stay in one place for too long." Hector said with a shrug and smile as he sat. "But when I heard the rumors on the streets, I had to come and see for myself." He giggled softly. "Lord Dayton... do you know what kinda shit storm you've caused?"

"I can only hope." Hank said with a matching grin.

"The Scavengers are in a panic, since they've heard you have Franklin staked, and he's singing like a songbird." Hank only grinned wider at that, but Hector's grin fell. "Then you've gone and took over Lord Anton's House. Hell there's talk about the Houses uniting with the Scavengers for an all-out assault."

"You think they'll try?" Lugh asked, an edge to his voice.

"I don't know." Hector said with a shrug. "I keep hearing about some secret Ancient that's helping you guys. An Ancient of immense power."

Hank grinned and looked over to where Runi had been quietly talking to Colt and Christina. Runi stood up and slowly moved towards the center of the room, eyes on Hector the entire way. "What have you heard about this, Ancient?"

Hector couldn't help but gulp in fear as Runi's eyes bored into his. "Ummm. Not much. Other than he claims to be some sort of legend. Legend or not, they're afraid."

Runi barked out a laugh, which caused Hector to relax, slightly. "A legend you say?"

Letting out a nervous laugh of his own, Hector nodded. "That's what I've heard."

Runi looked at Hank who nodded slowly. Looking back at Hector, Runi slowly walked over to the older teen, while raising his hand to his mouth, gently he pierced one of his fingers allowing a small amount of blood to well up. "You have just become a Senior." Runi said, shocking Hector with his knowledge. "This should tell you all you need to know." Runi held out his bloodied finger for Hector.

Hesitantly, Hector took the offered finger, his eyes never leaving Runi's he brought the finger to his mouth and sampled the blood. His eyes widened with shock as the taste exploded in his mouth. All he could feel from the tiny drop of blood was power. He couldn't help himself as he slid down to his knees in front of Runi, and dropped his head. "Ancient... I... I apologize... I... I… didn't know."

"Rise please." Runi said as he stepped back, Hector rose to his feet quickly, but kept his head bowed. "You didn't know, because I did not want you to know." Runi said simply, as he stepped back, and returned to his seat. "However, now that you do know, we must discuss what you will do with this knowledge."

"I have an idea..." Hank said softly, with a small smile on his face.

"Are you sure we are going the right way?" One young teen said to his lover and companion.

"While the Vision Quest did not speak much to what will happen, it was very clear on the location that it was to happen in. We ARE on the right path."

The first teen simply nodded, and continued walking through the dense woods.

"You really are evil." Hector said with a laugh.

"Why thank you." Hank said, then suddenly his grin faded. The same moment, Runi was on his feet, his face lit with a huge grin.

"Devin..." Hank said, causing Jared to snap his eyes up to meet Hank's.

"What..." Jared started to ask, but both Hank and Runi were moving up the steps before he could finish.

"Bring one of the Humans!" Runi called behind him.

"What's going on?" Hector asked, now on his feet.

"Devin's waking!" Connie said hurriedly.

"That's great." Hector said with a smile, that faded as everyone else started to rush out of the room.

"What's wrong with that?" He asked Connie who was moving towards the basement to help bring up one of the Humans.

She turned and met his eyes. "He was only turned two nights ago."

"Oh..." Hector said to an empty room, then moved to help Connie.

Hank stopped at the door to Devin's room and turned around to everyone else. "Only Runi, Jared, and I will be in the room. Hold the Human out here till we tell you to bring it in."

Lugh nodded, then turned around to face the others as Runi Hank and Jared quickly went into the room that held Devin.

When they entered the room, Devin was motionless on the bed, just as he had been since they brought him in. "He will wake shortly." Runi said as he moved to the other side of the bed, and placed his hand on the sleeping boy's forehead.

"How... how do you know?" Jared asked softly, as if he was afraid to wake Devin.

"His mind is struggling to come to the surface, to break through the wall that was created as his body changed." Hank said just as softly, as he placed his hand on the boy's forehead after Runi removed his. Hank closed his eyes for a moment, and concentrated. When he opened them he smiled, then turned to Jared. "Bring in the Human."

"That will wake him." Runi said softly, then looked at Jared. "You do not remember your first feeding, but I will guarantee it was not a pretty sight. If you wish to remain outside as Devin quenches his thirst..."

Jared looked nervously at Devin, who began to move slightly, then looked back at Runi, determination replacing the nervousness. "I will help him through this."

"Very well." Runi said gently, then motioned to the door. Quickly Jared moved to the door, opened it, and spoke softly. A moment later, the mindless Human walked into the room, being led by Jared. Once the door closed, and Jared guided the Human to the side of the bed, they could only wait.

It did not take long, for less than a minute after the Human was brought to the bedside, Devin's eyes, snapped open. He didn't look anywhere else, but at the Human. His fangs dropped quickly, and in a flash he was on the Human, drinking greedily from his neck. In less than two minutes, he stopped, and let the Human fall to the floor, dead.

"More..." He whispered harshly, his bright amber eyes scanning the room. "More...." He said again. Faster than any of the others could move, Runi was out the door and back a moment later, not with just one, but with two Humans. He pushed one towards Hank with a rough explanation.

"You feed from the Human, allow Devin to feed from you, but do not let him drain you, he will try!" Runi looked somewhat panicked, which caused Jared to step back, and Devin made for the Human.

"NO!" Hank said forcefully as he pushed the Human behind himself. Devin snarled at Hank, and looked ready to attack, till Hank took the Human's neck, and bent it to his fangs, while holding out his wrist for Devin. Devin greedily took the wrist and started to suck on it hard. Hank's eyes flew open as he felt the amount of blood that Devin was trying to drain from him. He bit down harder on the Human and drank as quickly as he could. When the Human was dry, Runi grabbed it, and pushed the other one to Hank, who wasted no time in biting down and drinking.

When Hank let the second Human fall, he pulled his wrist from Devin who snarled, but didn't otherwise move. He stood looking at Hank, then to Runi, and then turned his full gaze onto Jared. Jared gasped and stepped back, as he caught full sight of Devin's now amber eyes. "What..." Jared started to say but fell silent as the amber eyes dimmed and turned into Devin's normal pale green eyes. His fangs retracted, and he smiled at Jared.

"Thank you." He said softly as he moved forward, and hugged his friend. He then turned towards Hank, and moved towards him. "Thank you." He said again, as he hugged the slightly smaller teen. "I... I feel... incredible."

"I'm glad." Hank said, then looked uncertainly at Runi.

"You two have much to discuss." Runi said as he stepped forward, then bent and effortlessly picked up one of the Humans. "Jared and I will take these from here, while you let Devin know what is now expected of him as your Childe."

Hank and Devin both nodded, as Runi and a very uncertain Jared dragged the three bodies out of the room.

"What happened?" Jared asked once they were all back downstairs, all but Hank and Devin.

"I... I'm not sure." Runi said as he sank down into one of the chairs.

"What do you mean?" Lugh said quickly. "Did something happen in there?"

"Yes." Runi said as he looked around the room and met everyone's eyes. "And I have no idea what it means." Runi paused, then sighed. "As you know, normally when a Vampire wakes, a single Human is more than enough to sate the hunger. Not so with Devin. I could tell quickly, that we did not have enough Humans to truly sate his hunger, that's why I had Hank drain the Humans; while Devin drank from him. My hope, and it seemed to have worked, was that, by drinking Hank's more potent blood, it would more quickly sate Devin's thirst. It worked, but barely."

"What about his eyes?" Jared asked.

"What about them?" Lugh asked quickly.

"They're amber, not red." Runi responded after a deep sigh.

"What... what does that mean?"

"I do not know." Runi answered not used to having to admit that.

"I may know someone to ask." Hector spoke up quietly.

"If Runi doesn't know…" One of the others said, but Runi shook his head.

"I may be old, but that does not mean that I know everything." He said just as softly. "If Hank agrees, then you may ask whomever you wish."

Hector seemed confused, as he looked at the little, yet Ancient Vampire. Runi saw his confused look and asked, "Why do you look confused?" Hector seemed very hesitant to say anything, till Runi sighed and spoke again. "I know you are not familiar with me, none of you are as of yet, however, I do ask one thing. I am not your typical Ancient, one of my main responsibilities is to teach, I have always felt that the older the Vampire is, the more they know, the greater their responsibility to teach others. With that in mind, please never be afraid to ask me why I do what I do, or any other questions you may have. I will either answer you to the best of my ability, or I will tell you that you are not ready for the knowledge you seek." He looked around the room, getting nods from everyone, till his eyes fell on Hector. "Now, what is it that you wish to know?"

Hector hesitated for only a moment before he asked what he he was confused about. "Well, it's just that, everywhere else, the oldest Vampire is the one in charge, yet you, being easily the oldest Vampire I've ever heard about, seem to defer to Hank."

Runi looked around and saw many of the others nodding in agreement with the question. "The answer is both simple and complicated. The easy answer is simply this. Yes I may be older, but Hank is the House Lord, and Lugh is his second. That in itself lends to their authority. Could I take over if I decided to? Yes, but why? That leads to the more complicated answer. Since I am a Houseless Ancient, and one who does not wish to be officially a part of a House, it would be improper for me to take command of a House I am not a full part of."

"Why are you Houseless?" Decker asked. Runi was surprised that the boy spoke up, since he had not really heard the boy speak until then. Runi had assumed that the boy was naturally quiet, so asking this, was something that must have really interested the boy.

"Normally I do not speak about my past, but you all deserve to know." Runi said as he settled back into his chair. "A very long time ago, I was a House Lord. However, when I felt it time to sleep, I left my Childe in charge of the House. When I woke, my Childe would not relinquish the title of Lord, and the only choice I had was to either take my Lordship back, or leave the House and become Houseless. I could not destroy my Childe, so I left."

"Couldn't you have joined another House?" Decker asked, leaning forward in his chair. Runi felt that Decker's questions were asked, not because he wanted to know about Runi's past, but for some other reason. He was not about to probe the boy's mind though, that was beyond what Runi would do to anyone other than an enemy.

"Yes I could have. Any Houseless Vampire can petition a House Lord for acceptance. If the House Lord accepts, the Vampire in question would then be added to the House records, as a member of that House."

"How many Vampires are in a House?" Decker asked.

"Usually between three and eight, not counting the House Lord. I have seen Houses much larger than that, but remember, all Vampires need to feed, and a House is responsible for a certain area. A large House is easier to be spotted since there are more Vampires to feed."

"That makes sense." Decker said as he sat back in his chair. "So, anyone could go to Hank and ask to become a member of the House?"

"Yes." Runi said simply.

Decker sat back and smiled, but remained quiet.

"So how are things gonna be different now that we're a part of a House?" Jazz asked.

"How about if Lugh takes that one?" Runi said while looking at Lugh. "I am not familiar with how things work in this time, so I am not really the best person to answer that."

Lugh nodded and stood up. "The easy answer is; it won't change much. I'm sure Hank will ask you all to follow the same rules that you followed before. The main difference will be that anything you do will reflect on Hank, and the House as a whole. However, since none of you have ever been reckless, I don't see that as being an issue."

He paused and looked around while his smile faded, to be replaced with a very serious look. "Then again, things have changed more than I realized." Everyone was now looking at him intensely. "We've always had to worry about going out alone, since we always had to worry about getting attacked. Normally being a part of a House would make it so that you won't have to worry about that sort of thing again. However, knowing that the Houses and the Scavengers are working together, and they have marked Hank, well, we will have to be even more vigilant. An attack on a House member, is as good as attacking the House and the House Lord personally. You are all under Hank's protection, and if someone assaults you, Hank will have to respond."

"And with the Houses and Scavengers gunning for Hank, that means that you all have a target on your backs?" Hector asked it as a question, to which Lugh could only nod. Hector nodded to himself, then rose to his feet. "Well, it's starting to get early, so I should probably head out. I'm sure I'll see you all later."

Connie was on her feet in an instant, and walked him to the door, where the two of them hugged, before Hector slipped out the door.

"Can I see?" Danny asked clearly excited as he caught up to his sister and Colt just after he and Sheila had come home from the store. Danny had been wanting to see Christina's War Form since the night that she changed.

Chris loved her little brother, and didn't want to disappoint him. "You wanna see it too Mom?" She asked, feeling that her mom was more than a bit uncomfortable with everything.

Sheila looked uncomfortable, but then took a deep breath, knowing that she would have to get used to it. Finally she nodded, and both Colt and Chris moved around the side of the house to slip out of their clothing. A moment later, Chris led her Alpha from around the building, both of them in their War Form. Sheila knew what was coming, but still couldn't stop herself from gasping in surprise as the sheer size of the two in front of her. "Kewl…" Danny breathed out, as he stepped forward, and ran his hand over Chris's arm, feeling the bristly fur.

"Can… Can I see your claws?" He asked still in the almost trance like voice. Chris rotated her arm, so her palms were faced up, then slowly extended the claws on her fingertips. Danny was mesmerized as the claws fully extended reaching almost six inches long. "Wow…" was all he could say.

Chris looked at Colt and then in their guttural language spoke to him. Colt gave a toothy grin that made Sheila step back involuntarily. Colt then motioned for the boy to watch as he slowly shifted to his Wolf Form. Chris then picked Danny up, after retracting her claws, and put him on Colt's back. "WOAH!!!" Danny cried out as he was placed on Colt's back, instinctively grabbing the fur on the huge Wolf's neck. Chris then snap shifted herself into Wolf Form, and took off running towards the woods. Danny almost fell off as Colt took off after her, but then he leaned forward, squeezing tight with his legs, while grabbing the fur in a death grip. Sheila, even though she was scared witless, couldn't help but smile as she heard Danny's exalted cries of joy as he rode Colt out into the woods.

It was about an hour later that they returned to the house, the sun getting close to setting in the distance. When they ran up to the porch, they saw Dan Sr. standing there with a smile on his face, and knew what was coming.

As soon as Danny slid off Colt's back, the boy-wolf shifted into his War Form. For the next hour, Dan had the two spar so he could see what they could do. It was also a time for Colt to expand on his training from when he was younger. He found out that Chris was leaps and bounds ahead of him when it came to knowing how to fight, and she spent more time helping Colt figure out how to fight, then actually practicing herself.

Near the end of the practice, Runi came out, and sat on the porch to watch. Sitting down next to Danny, the boy seemed to be very nervous. Runi shot him a smile and hoped to relax him. "You think I'm gonna change?" Danny asked after a few moments of silence.

"I am not sure." Runi said seriously. "Only those of the Wolf Kind would be able to tell with you being this young, and neither Colt nor your sister are skilled enough yet to be able to know. When you get a little older, then we would be able to tell."

Danny looked more than a bit disappointed, but then perked up. "I think I'm gonna change, then I'll be able to help Chrissy and Colt."

"You know." Runi began softly. "There are ways that you can help them, even now, and even if you do not change when you get older?"

"I can?" Danny said as he looked at Runi, then out to where Colt and Christina were sparring under Daniel's watchful eye.

"Yes." Runi turned fully towards Danny and took his hand. "Your sister and Colt will end up having to fight some very dark and evil people. They will see things that people, no matter their age, should never see. They will need someone who can remind them of why they fight, and not allow them to sink into the darkness that they will experience, and become what they fight."

Runi could see that Danny didn't truly understand, so he tried it a different way. "When someone fights against the bad guys for a long time, they can, themselves be lost in the bad stuff they are fighting against. What you can do, what siblings of the Wolves have done for a long time, is remind them of the good in the world, and remind them that they do not have to become what they are fighting."

"I think I get it." Danny said after a few moments of silence. "After Chris and Colt have to fight bad guys, I need to remind them of the good stuff in the world?"

"Yes." Runi said with a smile. "They will see a lot of bad. You need to remind them of the good."

"I can do that!" Danny said excitedly, then jumped up and ran towards where Colt and Christina were sparring, and began to talk excitedly to them.

"That was a nice thing you did." Sheila said from behind Runi. Had he not known she was there, and listening the entire time, Runi may have been surprised.

"It was not something that I made up either." Runi said softly, but with a smile on his face as he watched Chris, in her War Form, reach down, grab up Danny, and swing him around while hugging the boy. "They truly will need someone like Danny to remind them, as things get dark for them. I wish I had had someone like that many years ago." The smile was gone from his face now, replaced by a haunted look that he quickly forced away as he rose and went inside.

Once he got inside, he saw Hank standing there with Jared and Devin. "Devin, I know you want to go tonight, but you need to stay here. I need your existence to be a surprise for when we appear before the Council."

Devin nodded his understanding, then smiled at Jared. "We can use the time to get to know each other better, and he can answer some of the questions I have."

"If he cannot, I will when we return." Hank said with a soft smile for his Childe. Hank then turned and saw Runi. His smile broadened as he spoke. "So we ready to go see our new House?"

"Not yet." Runi said as he turned towards Jazz who was sitting nearby. "Would you be kind enough to ask the Perrys to join us, including Danny?"

Jazz nodded stood up and walked outside. Runi turned to Hank and spoke softly, as he moved to a seat. "You should have a Bonded before we go there. Daniel would be a good choice, assuming he is agreeable."

Hank nodded, then took a seat himself. Runi couldn't help but smile as he saw Devin sit on the floor next to Hank's left leg. 'He is following the old ways, very good.' Runi said to himself, remembering fondly when he was the one seated with his Childe at his foot.

Lugh, who had walked in at the same time as Runi, also took a seat, leaving the remaining couch for the Perrys, who came walking in about that time. Runi and Hank were on their feet immediately, still following the custom of always rising when a woman entered the room. "Please sit." Hank said softly, indicating the couch. "There is something that we need to discuss with you."

Once they were seated, Hank began. "I know we have only known each other a short time, but, as you know, things are moving very quickly. You three are in the most danger out of any of us, simply because you do not have the same abilities that we do to defend yourselves if something were to happen." He saw Sheila become fearful so he tried to sooth that fear as much as possible. "Please believe me ma'am, anyone of us would sacrifice our own lives before allowing harm to come to your family. However, there are a few things that we can do to make sure that you are safer than you are now."

"What's that?" Daniel asked seriously.

"There are different levels of the protection. They all mean the same thing. No House aligned Vampire would attack you, unless they are trying to attack us. However, it is generally accepted that even in a House war, the Humans are not targeted, unless they make themselves a target." Hank explained, to which Daniel and Sheila nodded, although she didn't look very convinced.

Hank stood up, and began to pace as he spoke. "Most of the protections are short term, needing to be 're-applied'. The first one is to simply mix some Vampire blood with a meal or drink. You can use such a small amount that in spicier foods, you would never even know what you were ingesting. That needs to be done weekly."

Daniel raised his hand, much like a school child would. He spoke when Hank nodded to him. "Can this be done by any Vampire?"

Hank shook his head. "No. The older the Vampire, the more 'potent' the scent is." Hank looked over to Chris and Colt. "This is a good lesson for you two as well. All Vampires have an acute sense of smell. By 'marking' Humans, the other Vampires will smell us on them. If they know who we are, they will know who the Human is bonded to. They will also be able to smell you two, just as easily as you can smell us."

Chris and Colt nodded, as did Daniel who then asked another question, "So it's better to be 'marked' by an older, more powerful Vampire?"

"Yes." Hank said simply, then waited to see if he had any more questions. When Daniel sat back, Hank continued, "The other way is for a small tattoo to be applied on the wrist. It would be done with a special ink, mixed with our blood, and would have to be re-applied every month."

Daniel nodded, then when Hank's pause lasted too long, he spoke up. "I get the impression that there is a more permanent form of protection that you have not mentioned yet."

Hank slowly nodded then sighed as he sat down. "There is also a process known as the Bonding. There are some advantages to bonding, and some disadvantages. First off, a Bonded is able to speak for their Master."

Daniel bristled at the term, and Hank couldn't help but smile. "I dislike the term as well, but you have to realize how some Vampires come to think about Humans. Besides being our food source, they are also our helpers. Obviously you can imagine how difficult it would be for a Vampire House to survive without Human helpers."

Daniel calmed then nodded. "I understand."

"Good." Hank said then slowly rose to start pacing again. "As I said, a Bonded could be sent to speak for the Master. If a Vampire has more than one Bonded, then only the First may speak for a Master. The Human does gain some benefits from the Bonding. They are able to heal quicker, even things that are not able to be healed by modern medicine… your knees for instance."

Daniel sat back. Runi, Colt, or maybe even Christina must have told him about why he stopped fighting. After being silent for a few moments, he spoke. "What else?"

"Well a Bonded is marginally stronger, faster, will not get sick by common human illness, and they will also age slower. I have heard of Bonded who are still healthy and active past their one hundredth year. When they do pass away, it is usually very quick." Hank paused to let that sink in, then spoke again.

"There is a downside to it as well." When he saw Daniel nod, he continued. "Once you Bond yourself to a Vampire, that Bonding usually lasts until the Human or the Vampire dies. The Bond must be replenished every six months, or so. If it is not, the Bonded will lose the Gifts from his Master. If the Bond fully breaks, the Human will physically age quickly, until they either die, or reach the physical age that they truly are. That is unless they Bond themselves to another." Hank added the last part as almost an afterthought, although it was far from an afterthought for him right now, considering what was to come.

The silence stretched for several moments, then Daniel looked over at Sheila. Hank was always amazed when two people, who know each other very well, can have an entire conversation without ever speaking a word. Finally after a few moments, Sheila looked at Hank and spoke up. "You mentioned that if a Vampire has more than one Bonded, one of them is called the 'First'. What makes them different from the other Bonded, and how many Bonded can one Vampire have?"

Hank raised his eyes in surprise for a moment, then nodded and answered. "To the second part of your question, a Vampire can have several Bonded. All it takes is the ability to feed them when needed. As I said, that's about every six months, and requires the equivalent of several mouthfuls of undiluted Vampire blood." Hank paused until both adults nodded, then he answered the first part. "As far as the First goes, he or she is considered the head of the House." Hank paused for a moment trying to think how to describe it. "If you are familiar with medieval times, the First would be like the Steward of a Castle. Taking care of the more domestic details of the House, and acting as second to the Lord of the House."

Both Sheila and Daniel nodded understanding what Hank was talking about. Finally they looked at each other, then back to Hank. "We need a few moments to discuss this, as a family." Daniel said, looking from Hank to Chris, and finally Danny. When Hank nodded, the four of them stood and walked back out front.

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