As he stepped further down the long tunnel, the light of the torches along the wall guiding him, he decided it best to allow his thoughts to still – nothing would be gained by constant questioning. He would, he knew, gather all he needed by asking Desmond just what was going on – after he was berated for failing in his mission.
He soon met the tall wooden double doors, and sighing deeply, he turned both silver handles and pushed, opening the doors to reveal the large dark stone hall where the very Vampire he sought stood in the center, in what appeared to be deep conversation with two other Vampires, one of whom had just been inducted into the coven.
As Vincent stepped further into the hall, the doors closing behind him, Desmond turned, his long black hair swaying along his black robes. His black eyes seemed to shine with delight upon seeing Vincent, but as he neared, Vincent saw that Desmond’s eyes darkened with question.
Once near enough, the two Vampires bowed low to Desmond’s back (for he paid them no attention now that he laid eyes upon Vincent), and made their way to a door in the back of the room.
Desmond opened his arms and pressed his hands to Vincent’s arms in welcome. “Welcome back my son – I see…that you were yet again unsuccessful in gathering the woman….”
“I was,” he said quietly, trying to ignore the sting of the words “yet again unsuccessful.”
“What…interrupted you?” he asked, seeing there was clearly something more his pupil was not telling him.
“Another,” he said simply. Strange, how when he actually faced his master all the questions that had been brimming in his mind refused to surface to his lips.
Desmond’s eyes widened and then narrowed almost all at once. He removed his pale hands from Vincent’s arms and interlaced them before himself, never taking his eyes off the Vampire before him. “Another…Vampire, Vincent?” he asked, seemingly forcing himself to say the words.
Vincent merely nodded, unable to say another word.
However, Desmond’s next words were not what Vincent had been expecting. It was why he looked up in utter surprise when Desmond said, “They decide to stake their claim at last.”
“What?” he asked, forgetting his manners for the moment. Surprise and shock were all he could express then.
Desmond then closed his eyes, sighed deeply, and let a slow smile form upon his lips. He then turned away from Vincent and walked toward a worn bookshelf that seemed to be crumbling with age and the dampness of the cave air. Once just before it, he reached out a white hand and clasped his long fingers around an equally ancient red book.
He pulled it down from the shelf and turned to eye a more than bemused Vincent who had not moved from his spot along the cold ground when Desmond had turned from him.
He moved toward Vincent and opened the book, the dog-eared pages yellowed and looking brittle to the touch. Vincent strongly felt that if Desmond dared turn one, it would poof into dust.
It didn’t. Desmond’s long fingers scanned the pages with rapid ease and then, without warning, he stopped, and turned the book toward Vincent so as to let the Vampire read for himself.
Vincent looked down at the book and read the worn page that glared back up at him through faded script:
“The One: A human who shall possess the enfolding life-force that shall allow the Vampires’ existence to continue for ages….”
He looked up at his master. “That is this Jessica Landry? She looks no more than a simple human,” he said skeptically.
Desmond’s knowing smile never left his face as he continuously stared upon his pupil. “Read more, Vincent,” he said quietly, inclining his head toward the book still held open in his hands.
He obliged, although reluctantly, and continued from where he last stopped:
“….However, there is no human’s blood that shall allow Vampires to continue their existence…for if there were, the term Vampire would become nothing more than a forgotten title that this kind now wears with pride….
“She must be killed, this human…she must not be allowed to be turned into a Vampire…for if she were…the Vampire that does the deed, the Vampire whose connection to their coven is most unbreakable, shall make, not only themselves most feared amongst all covens, but the most powerful—” He stopped suddenly staring up at his master with wide, awed eyes. “Is this true?!”
Desmond merely nodded and gestured his head toward the book once more, signaling that Vincent continue.
He did so, although rather eagerly now.
“If this woman is ever turned into a Vampire, she will not allow the Vampire that turned her to rule over her as it custom with any Vampire and the human they have turned…but instead, she shall gain miraculous power and become a tyrant over the coven that took her in as their own.
“And…she will kill them—”
Desmond had closed the book at that moment and tucked it under an arm. “Along with any other coven in the vicinity,” he finished dryly. “She will not stop until all Vampires have been completely obliterated across the Earth.”
Vincent blinked. “But, master…the coven I met…they seemed quite certain her power was one that would make them live forever…not the exact opposite of that,” he said uncertainly, thinking back to the look of burning anger and certainty three Vampires shared that he had met earlier that night.
“The coven you met?” he asked sharply. “I thought you just met one.”
“There were three more. They cornered me when I tried to pursue the human—”
“They carried staffs, strange emblems on their clothes?” Desmond asked hurriedly.
“Yes, master,” Vincent said quickly, not sure what was going on at all.
Desmond disappeared from just before him and appeared in front of the bookshelf again. He replaced the book and then turned to face Vincent. “You met this coven’s longtime adversary, Vincent,” he said quietly, his deep voice echoing around the stone walls. “They are called the Favors.”
“‘The…Favors?’” he repeated, incredulous.
He nodded, his long black hair shaking just the slightest. He then re-interlaced his fingers in front of him and stepped, once more, slowly toward Vincent, however he appeared to be in deep thought as he walked.
“The Favors…a name that appears ridiculous upon first hearing it, I will admit…no, their name is much deeper than that…. They,” he said, stopping a few feet from Vincent, staring upon him with distant eyes, “are, unfortunately more celebrated than our own coven, here, Vincent. It is why…perhaps, he will not intervene in their capture of the woman. He probably believes the same that they believe – that she is a reason for celebration other than war….”
His brow furrowed. “But…who favors them more?” he asked, terribly confused now.
Desmond said, “The one in charge of us, Vincent. Yes, there is someone above us, above me, even. I should have told you ages ago, but I did not know when was the best time – you, my most celebrated son of them all….
“We do not speak of the one above us, indeed, none lower than the leader in the coven is meant to know he exists…I share this with you because I have…willingly, I admit, pulled you into something much larger than myself.
“I could not do this alone, Vincent.”
Vincent stared at him, almost scared to ask what it was his master could not do alone. “What could you not do alone, master?” he asked in a whisper of wonder.
Desmond stared at him and in the light of the many torches around the large hall, his eyes seemed to flash with seriousness.
“I could not save our kind alone.”