Authors: Cc MacKenzie
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Witches & Wizards
"No. Our world is in a constant state of flux. However, some of the largest disturbances are triggered by a portal. The one I witnessed in the Gobi desert had aftershocks occurring in the area for many days."
"What I do not understand," said Cristophe Pattullo in a vivid Italian accent, "Is why
"Because I, and people like me, deal in magic and we are at one with nature. Whatever or whomever is responsible for opening the portals is using the darkest magic I’ve ever seen. People who practice magic or have a latent ability are the yin to its yang, if that makes sense to you?"
"Tell them the rest," Marcus ordered in a tone that meant business.
Ezekiel shot him an impatient look but continued, "The earth’s polarity has begun to shift from north to south." He paused. "I do not believe it is a natural event."
Now Duncan frowned. "Such a thing has occurred before?"
"Yes, but long before man walked the earth. Events taking place now are happening too fast to be an established phenomenon. Sea mammals are beaching all over the planet with birds falling from the sky, thousands of fish washed upon many shores. Not to mention the changing weather patterns bringing drought to the bread baskets in the northern hemisphere and catastrophic floods with accompanying disease and pestilence to others. Great storms and tornadoes are more intense, violent, and in larger numbers than have ever been measured before."
"You are talking catastrophe, witch," Samuel Hindmarch spoke for the first time.
"No. I am talking a deliberate annihilation and extinction of the human race."
Now Saira, a vampyre medic, spoke, "But surely there are easier ways to attain that goal?"
Ezekiel met her frown with one of his own. "You mean by disease?"
"Yes, a mutation of a virus like swine flu might achieve it within a year."
He nodded in agreement. "If there was a merging of avian and swine flu along with starvation and destruction, might not the goal be achieved within months? Just look at what's happening with Ebola? And if the infection became airborne..."
The witch shrugged and let the idea, and the catastrophe to which it might lead, sink in.
"I am hearing nothing but conjecture and a ‘what if’ game. We needs
," Marcus snapped.
"I am talking probabilities rather than possibilities," Ezekiel corrected with an impatient bite to his tone. "The
is, we can do nothing about earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, but we need to be prepared for the spread of disease. This entails being ready to develop a vaccine and that means talking to Constantine Mabille."
In theory Duncan agreed. But in practice?
"You mean to bring the Precedential Elders into this? You wouldn’t last five minutes, witch" he said.
Ezekiel merely shrugged.
"I have already discussed the theory with Constantine. It might interest you to know his powers are increasing, too, as are those of all Precedential Elders. He has guaranteed my safety and is prepared to put his scientists on the highest alert to make ready a vaccine."
"Are you trying to say our Precedential Elders are capable of magic?" asked Cristophe in a disbelieving tone.
Ezekiel blinked, as if the thought hadn't occurred to him.
Yeah, right, thought Duncan darkly.
Not much got past the creature who sat before them.
"Whether they are capable, or wish to acknowledge it or not, their powers are increasing. You just have to look at them to see it."
"You’ve been a very busy boy," Samuel said in a low voice pregnant with suspicion. "Who died and made you the King?"
"You judge everyone by your own avaricious behaviour and low standards," Ezekiel growled as he stood, his patience and attempt at diplomacy plainly at an end.
The Hindmarch vampyres, never a group to take an insult on the chin, rose as one now.
"Enough!" Duncan roared and said nothing until everyone sat again.
Everyone that was except Ezekiel. His eyes were now focused purely on a Saira who was doing a stunning job of pretending he was invisible.
His head turned and those intense dark eyes met Duncan’s.
"So," he said to the witch. "You are warning us of an impending catastrophe. I'm assuming you want something in return. Nothing in life is free. What is it you are looking for from us, Ezekiel?"
"Every time a portal opens, black magic leaks into our reality and the earth responds. We need to work together to defeat whatever is coming."
"Never," said Samuel, vetoing that idea in a single word. "Your kind destroyed our future, killed our wives, took our young and stole our ancient texts. You have nothing to offer us, abomination."
As the rules governing the vampyre nation stood today, if one council member dissented, agreement could not be reached.
Ezekiel's eyes narrowed into slits.
"It is true we did plan to steal the texts and take your wives and children to make them ours. But when we arrived at Sanctuary the texts were gone, the women butchered and the children gone. The Legion were not responsible for that catastrophe and you know it." Now his eyes travelled to encompass everyone in the room. "Think about it. If the Legion had the texts then surely we would be begetting children far and wide? Who said we killed defenceless women? We have a tried a total of three times in two hundred years, with human females who were willing, to procreate. Every one perished and broke the heart of her mate. We did not steal your children. The question you should be asking is, who did?"
"You lie, witch. And just like your father you betray your kind. Begone, abomination."
At Samuel's outburst Ezekiel did not look surprised, he merely shrugged vast shoulders.
"I have done my duty." He gave a single bow from the neck turned on his heel and left.
No one spoke but all eyes were on the vampyre princes.
Duncan stood. "We have work to do, ladies and gentleman, a law practice to run." As the vampyres rose to leave, he turned to the two men who’d stood with him through the worst of times and the best of times. "We will speak to Constantine immediately. Set up a conference call."
Cristophe nodded and left with Samuel right behind him.
Duncan turned to watch his sons.
"James, I want a word."
James Gillespie nodded farewell to his brothers and moved to join his father.
Duncan sat and again felt pride as his second son strode through the room. He was a fine looking specimen of his race. Strong. Vital. Except, he frowned, at the one thing that irritated him. James refused to cut his hair or be clean shaven. Instead he tied it back at the neck in a short tail and his face had a couple of days beard growth. It made him look like a rock star instead of a lawyer. And women loved him for it. Everything about James was controlled power in the way he moved like a big jungle cat and the way his violently blue eyes missed nothing as they swept over the Pattullo vampyres. Vampyres who were in a huddle, since Eleanor Pattullo had not graced the meeting with her illustrious presence, which was a stunning break of the vampyre code of conduct. With Eleanor's consistently bad behaviour, the Pattullo's had a problem. A big problem. And for the moment, Duncan was leaving Cristophe, and his sons, to deal with it.
Duncan never wasted precious time dwelling on events of the past. He put the past firmly behind him and moved forward, as did his sons. What was done could not be undone. He wished Eleanor Pattullo would put her past behind her, too. But by her behaviour the last time he'd seen her at James and Charlotte's wedding, she'd still had that hungry flare in her eyes whenever she glanced at James, Duncan doubted the day would come for her anytime soon. He thanked God James was deeply in love with his wife because a relationship between Eleanor and James would have been a fiasco. The woman was, in his private opinion, fucking hard work.
If Duncan had deep-seated qualms about his son’s wife, Charlotte, he was careful not to show it. The girl never opened her mouth and responded to gentle questioning in words of one syllable. Six months after their wedding, she still appeared nervous and highly strung in a social setting, probably because she was still human and subliminally picking up the vampyre vibe. But since she was genuinely in love with his son, and as long as James was happy, Duncan shrugged off the feeling that something was a little...
Whoever had come up with the phrases
‘Love is blind’
‘The course of true love never runs smoothly,’
were clever bastards.
James took Cristophe’s empty chair and gave all the appearance of a good son waiting patiently for his beloved father to speak.
Duncan was not fooled.
"You know I never interfere in the lives of my children," he began in a long-suffering tone, then stopped as James raised a dark brow over dancing blue eyes and bit down hard on his quivering bottom lip, "very much," Duncan snapped.
James grinned at him and then his face went serious.
"I know what you’re going to say and I agree. After what happened to Anais in China I need to bring Charlotte fully into our clan. Ezekiel is correct, I have put her life at risk."
Duncan blinked and frowned.
That was too easy.
And if James Gillespie was one thing, he was on no account
. James never made a fuss or lost his temper or argued. He simply agreed with whatever one had to say then calmly did whatever the hell he wanted to do when it suited him. And that included breaking the rules by marrying a human and not taking his wife’s vein.
Duncan’s voice went all soft and silky, "I cannot begin to describe the joy bursting in my heart hearing those words. However, I have been your father for two hundred and thirty five years, James. And may I say, I’ll believe it when I fucking see it."
James laughed in a deep appreciation of the fact that his father rarely swore unless he meant it.
"Picking up our bad habits, Papa? I’m not spinning you a line. The time is right. But I’ll need to take care. After what happened to Anais I need to stay close to Charlotte while her vampyre emerges. My yearning is becoming hard to bear. My vampyre is impatient."
"About bluidy time," muttered Duncan under his breath.
James stood and placed a heavy hand on his father’s wide shoulder and squeezed.
"Stop worrying. Everything is under control."
Easy for him to say, thought Duncan, as he watched his son stroll out the door.
Then he sat back in his chair and spread out long legs.
The meeting with Ezekiel had gone better than expected.
No blood spilled, which was always a plus in his book.
What he'd found absolutely fascinating about the meeting was not one vampyre had thought to question the identity of
was behind the opening of portals into this reality. He'd seen Ezekiel's narrow-eyed perusal of the senior vampyres sitting at the table. Duncan knew Ezekiel must be asking himself the same question.
had no one questioned the witch further?
There was only one being with the power to slide magic into the reality called Earth and that being was, as far as he was aware,
. Restricted in his movements, trapped for all time by a portal hidden and sealed from this world. Unless...
Duncan pursed his lips, he was a vampyre who'd lived long and prospered because he was a creature who went with his instincts. And his instinct for trouble ahead, and soon, was already twitching.
After Eleanor's attack on Anais in Shanghai, Duncan decided it was much better to be safe rather than sorry.
He picked up his cell to speak to vampyre medic Saira Pattullo.
"I need you and a team on stand-by in San Francisco. Take a medi-vac jet and plenty of blood plasma, too."
"Yes. Just in case."
Meanwhile in a reality only a veil away, in the great hall within the dwelling of The Maker, a night sky bereft of stars was lit by two moons. Through towering arches, opened to the elements, the sound rose of snarling hell-hounds crunching on bones, the remains of a human child, made even the cold blood in Eleanor Pattullo's veins feel as if it had crystallised with sold ice. The toddler had lived for three endless days. The child's agonising shrieks of distress as he died were still ringing in her ears. She was sure they'd haunt her dreams for eons to come. After all the scene had been deeply unpleasant. But now she put that scene aside. She knew that her own terror had saved her from certain destruction. Even now, the sheer force of The Maker's power was a ripping lash against fragile emotions... by a whip braided with razor blades.
Dressed in nothing but a sealed gold collar around her neck, eyes on the floor, Eleanor knelt next to a chair carved from black locust wood and knew the creature sitting in that chair was messing with her head. She did not have ice in her veins. Her blood was flowing through her system just fine. Her Lord and Master seemed to obtain a certain amount of entertainment by toying with those who lived to serve him.