This is a revision of my original story, the post entitled "silentstriders untitled story." I don't expect to really get any feed back or constructive criticism like I might hope, and even if I don't that's fine. My intentions of fixing this is to try and improve on my writing ability and to get back into the groove/habit of writing. In any case if anyone does read this I hope you find some enjoyment.
Read. Enjoy. Comment.
He couldn't move. He felt as though he was in shock and his body lay paralyzed. Even his lungs were unable to take in air. All he could feel was the fear gripping him as he wondered if his left arm was still there.
He slowly lifted it from his side to move it in front of his face. At least he thought he did. The darkness made it hard to tell and shock still numbed his mind. He wasn't sure if he could feel his arm or not. Finally, he was able to make out the shadowy outline of his hand and relief flooded through him.
His disorientation started to fade as he realized he had that dream again. He attempted to recall it, however the harder he tried the more his mind fogged over the memories. All he could recall were brief flashes that made no sense such as shouting, a sense of chaos and a feeling of helplessness that left him unable to move. There was also a moment in which he felt like he was flying, but nothing beyond that. It didn't make sense to him how a dream could feel so real, yet he couldn't remember anything substantial. The single most unsettling thought he kept after waking up was the loss of his arm.
The dreadful truth of the matter was that everything in the dream had actually happened.
Sean sat up wanting to shake the vestige of sleep from his mind and body. He wished he could remember more as much as he wished it would stop reoccurring. He felt clammy and the sheets about him were damp with sweat. There was no way he was going to find any more rest tonight, so he got up out of his bed and quickly removed his nightclothes tossing them haphazardly into a hamper next to his bedroom door.
As he entered the connecting bathroom, a shiver ran up his leg when he stepped onto the cold tile floor. A quick hop placed him on the floor mat just outside the shower stall, where he adjusted the water temperature before getting in.
As he showered his eyes wandered to the scar that formed a jagged ring around his upper arm. He traced it with his fingers, using it as though it were a focus to reflect on memories of the past. It was the only scar his body had, or would ever have, and the definitive bite that marked him as a werewolf. However, looking at the band of flesh did nothing to aid him as he intended it to. Both the dream and his past life continued to elude him, and served to feed a slowly mounting frustration.
His annoyance easily shifted over to his uncle Gregor. It would've been better if he could forget the nightmare, but his uncle insisted otherwise. The man rode him relentlessly with words meant to encourage his recollection. He believed it was a link to Sean's former life, and his subconscious could provide hidden answers to present problems. He told him it was necessary if he ever wanted to find balance between man and beast.
Sean had a lot of respect for his uncle Gregor, because of the time and attention he devoted to him. Through his guidance, and patience, he helped his nephew develop into a decent young man. Despite the positive relationship they had forged, there still existed an undercurrent of dark, inescapable, hatred neither of them could deny.
Gregor was more than just a rich, eccentric old man who lived in solitude. He was also a vampire. One that had been turned nearly five centuries ago, and hid his secret well from the rest of the world.
At first Sean didn't believe, but after seeing his fangs and how he could project his thoughts into his mind, there was no denying his uncle was more than just human. He could also lift a car as easily as a cinder block, and float through the air as though he were flying. He even went so far as to show his nephew how his skin smoked under the direct sun light.
In addition to his supernatural abilities he was also a man of superior intellect and influence. Throughout his long life he had accumulated wealth and developed many relationships with people of significant status. He also had plenty of time to gather mysterious relics of the past some of which certain circles would consider too dangerous to possess.
His most valuable treasure was his collection of books. In just this one house alone he had thousands in a towering room that started in the basement and stretched up to the top floor. It was a physical representation of Gregor's defining aspect, and that was his thirst for knowledge.
Never did he let his mind idle for long. If he wasn't researching he was doing something. If he wasn't talking or meeting with important people he was sure to be traveling. Even during the early morning hours when the sun was in the sky, or the late hours before it had fully set, he was awake and active in the recesses of the manor. It was his unnatural nature that would force him to dark places and slumber until the light of the world extinguished for another cycle. If he wasn't the creature he was he probably would never sleep.
Sean reached in front of him and turned off the water. By now the bathroom had become full of steam and he took his time standing there to enjoy the warmth. The small comfort helped with taking the edge off his mood. Initially it was the dream that had disturbed him, but now his thoughts were dominated with the fact that he was living with a vampire. His mind felt stuck in a negative mode and he was having trouble shaking it.
After he had enough of just standing there he exited the shower and stood in front of the mirror above the sink. The reflective surface was covered in a fog of moisture and he took a moment contemplating if he even wanted to look at himself right now. His mood had become very dark, and he wasn't even sure he wanted to see.
With a final sigh he swiped a hand across the mirror leaving a streak of reality in its wake. He stared at his unnatural white hair and yellow flecked eyes not sure of what to make of the face looking back at him. He narrowed his eyes and frowned with the odd sensation of how he didn't look the way he felt he was supposed to be. There were times when he considered how he felt like a stranger in his own body. It was such an alien feeling and the main reason he didn't like mirrors.
He finished drying himself and moved back into the bedroom, and got dressed. As he began dressing there was a polite knock on his door accompanied by the voice of Daniel, the butler.
“Since you are awake, sir, Master Gregory wishes your presence in the dining hall.”
Sean sighed, feeling as though he would never be able to escape the ever watchful presence of his uncle except while he slept in his secret rooms below.
He hated living with a vampire.
“Please tell my uncle I'll be down shortly.”
He didn't really want to be around him at the moment. Being physically near the man was never an easy feat for Sean. Despite the gracious hospitality and kindness that were shown to him on a regular basis, their relationship was still a strained one at best. One of the hard lessons of his supernatural life was werewolves and vampires were instinctual enemies and shared a deep, unavoidable hatred toward one another. No matter how he tried he could not completely ignore the irrational feeling he had toward his uncle.
Gregor seemed to be more in control of his own emotions, although there were brief moments when his animosity did flash across his eyes, it hardly went beyond that. Sean, on the other hand, had more difficulty keeping himself in check, especially in the beginning when he first arrived at the manor. He had improved greatly in the past few years, finding strength from his uncle's will to resist such impulses, and used that as an anchor of inspiration.
He took a deep breath steeling himself before stepping into the hall. As he closed the door to his room he whispered, "I have control over my own actions." It was a simple and common mantra he used to fortify his mind against violent urges when in the company of his uncle. He repeated the words all the way down the grand stairs stopping once he reached the large foyer. From there he turned left toward the ornate hand sculpted archway of dragons that lead to the dining hall, but, as he had done many times before, he paused to admire the craftsmanship.
There were many things in his uncle's manor that he appreciated and this archway was one of them. It was carved from mahogany and painted in very fine and colorful detail. All the dragons had valuable gemstones set in their eyes that corresponded to the color of their scales. Some appeared to be flying gracefully while others showed there claws and teeth in a menacing fashion. A few of the higher ones demonstrated their powerful breath weapons like fire and lightening. High above in the center there was one dragon that dominated all the others, Draco, lord of the dragons.
His scales shimmered between white and black and his eyes were set with identical gemstones that were of the most fantastic red, with an intense blue slash down the middle of it much like a cat’s eye. If the other dragons were of exquisite craftsmanship then this one looked as though it were alive, almost as if it would sweep down upon you if you were judged to be trespassing. The sight of the archway always filled him with awe.
“I never grow tired of it either”, Gregor said as he watched Sean examine the impressive sculpture. He sat at the head of the long dining table and gestured with a welcoming hand for his nephew to join him where a place was already set.
Gregor was a tall man, a fact quite evident even though he was sitting. He was a bit on the slim side, but still maintained an imposing physique. He wore a buttoned collared shirt made of white silk with the top two buttons casually undone, and usually enjoyed clothes of fine material. His dark hair was pushed back into a tail flowing pass his shoulders and held in place by a thick wooden ring with archaic symbols delicately burned into it. His skin was not of a pale demeanor like many of his other brethren, but was of a healthy tan color that he maintained with what he said was a simple enchantment. When he spoke his voice contained the eloquent demeanor of intelligence befitting a proper gentleman.
The most dominating feature of all was his captivating eyes. It was more than just his vampiric nature that lent power to his gaze. They were almost neon green that perhaps would've seemed unnatural on most men, but on his uncle it enhanced his commanding presence. He could make women gasp, confident men falter, and if anyone had the misfortune of staring too deeply they would find themselves overwhelmed as he threatened to possess their inner secrets.
Sean took the two steps down into the recessed dining hall and seated himself at the table. The chairs had velvet cushion seats and were gilded in swirling patterns along their high backs and arms. They were a set of sixteen that could fit all around the long table, but there were only three present. Having the extra chair was a custom his uncle preferred as a show of hospitality in case of any unforeseen guest.
The main source of light in the room was a large ornate crystal chandelier that hung high above. It had concentric rings of mirrors cleverly placed around its layers to evenly angle the light all about the room. From the tasseled edge carpet that covered the floor to the grand artwork along the high walls that nearly touched the ceiling, it all had a rich mystical flavor that impressed upon anyone that his uncle was a powerful man.
He sat down focused on the simple meal before him of marinated steak, potatoes and mixed vegetables, and almost smiled at how out of place it seemed. The setting was more appropriate for an extravagant feast fit for royalty. It just reminded him of how his uncle had expensive tastes for some things, while others he preferred to keep simple.
“Do you want to talk about your dream,” uncle Gregor asked with his eyes keenly observing the reaction of his nephew.
Sean had just been about to cut a piece of his steak, but paused to give his uncle a brief accusatory look. The man was an extremely gifted telepath able to read people's thoughts with ease. Normally he wouldn't use his gift on an unwilling mind, but he was in the process of training his nephew and would test him now and again to ensure he was maintaining decent mental shields.
“No, I did not read your mind, nor have I been eaves dropping in your sleep. You woke up early, and are still not rested. Your eyes are distant with thought, which leads me to believe that something other than myself is the source of your agitation. What might you have me believe?”
“Please, I‘d rather not talk about it,” Sean replied without looking up from his plate.
“Fair enough, I only ask that you continue trying to remember your past for your own sake. Understanding yourself and learning to accept who you are is key to controlling the wolf and preserving your humanity. If you keep your memories buried you'll never truly know yourself.”
They had a moment of silence as they each took a few more bites of their meal. Sean didn't want to remember his dream even though he believed in what his uncle told him. The more he tried to focus on that night the less in control he felt. It was like a tumult of fear, sadness, rage and pain that threatened to overwhelm and trigger a transformation.
Daniel came out from the kitchen and kindly refilled their glasses, red wine for his master and orange soda for Sean. There was a moment shared between the butler and his uncle that made Sean think they were sharing a brief mental conversation, then he left as quietly as he came.
“Is there something going on that you don't want me to know about?” he asked with out looking up at his uncle.
“Forgive me. That was rude,” Gregor apologized. “Daniel was discretely telling me that I had a phone call from a contact of mine whom I haven't heard from in a long time. It's not certain, but there's hope he might have information pertaining to the unusual werewolf that hunts you.”
Sean looked up at his uncle hoping to hear something helpful.
“Unfortunately,” Gregor continued, “since I was not readily available to receive the call he left the message for me to call him back in about an hour.”
“What does your friend do,” he asked.
He thought a moment of how to best answer the question without getting into a lengthy detailed explanation. He had promised his contact, Adam, not to reveal anything of his identity, because he was putting himself at great risk to pass information along him.
“Well,” he began, “remember how I had told you that there are organized groups throughout the world that seek out anything along the lines of the supernatural, such as knowledge, relics or even creatures like ourselves. My contact works for one of those more powerful groups called the Veil. It is mainly sponsored through our government via hidden channels, and in my experience one of the more powerful groups. Regrettably its members are either corrupt with power or ignorant of their actions. My contact, however, does not share their general opinion, but by the time he realized their true nature he was already too deeply involved. Once a member has been initiated into their fold leaving isn't an acceptable option. My promise to him was that if he could get me vital information on that werewolf I would, in exchange, help him to safely escape the Veil.”
“So do you think he'll have something,” Sean asked.
“I won’t know for sure until I can return his call”
“How long has this guy of yours been working for you?”
“More than four years. The information he's searching for is restricted for his clearance level, but a recent promotion has allowed him more access. Despite these improvements he still has to be extremely careful and not raise suspicion."
Sean lost interest in what his uncle was saying after he realized it still be some time, weeks, maybe even months, before he learned anything relevant. It had been several years and they still had next to nothing on the creature that hunted him. He sighed lightly at the thought of how helpless he was.
“You look as though you're in need of a distraction”, Gregor said as he set down his silverware and dabbed at his mouth showing he was finished with his meal. ”I bid you to accompany me downstairs to the sparring room. Daniel has given you high praise in regards to your progress," he smiled, knowing the compliment was not lightly given, "and I'd like to see firsthand how your skill has improved with the sword.”
Not feeling particularly hungry Sean shrugged, and got up to follow Gregor as he led the way into the kitchen to an empty section of the wall. The basement door was hidden and had electronic security in addition to magical protection. Someone not familiar with the door probably wouldn't have been able to gain entry to the lower levels of the house. The secret door was only marked by the number touch pad to its left. With one hand he punched in the code and he let his other hand trace a druidic rune of peace that would briefly remove the protective ward. The magic he had instilled into the door reinforced its integrity and bound it to the fabric of space it occupied, making it extremely difficult to move unless one knew what to trace over the wall. The door released with a quiet hissing sound, and he pulled it back showing the way down to the first basement level.
They descended the flight of stairs to the first platform where there was a hall to the right and a door to the left. The stairs reversed and continued down another level to a large featureless black door that took up the entire face of the wall.
Sean had only been beyond that door twice, and never without his uncle accompanying him. It was even more heavily protected than the first door they came through and the air nearly hummed with the warning of the magical wards his uncle had placed upon it. Beyond it was a room filled with old relics some of which he was told could be dangerous if the wrong people possessed them, and other harmless treasures he kept as memorabilia from his long life of experiences. There were also two other rooms down there, one which contained many experiments that occasionally he shared with his nephew. The other room Sean had never seen and doubted he ever would. It was his uncle’s sanctuary, and where he slept, sheltered away from the light of day.
They walked through the door to the left and into a very large room with gym mats padding most of the floor. The area to their left had an assortment of exercise equipment that Sean used occasionally. The far wall was covered with a variety of different melee weapons such as swords, axes, spears, maces and different types of armor including shields. For every one of those weapons there was also a wooden counterpart that he had spent many hours using in practice. In the opposite corner from where they entered there stood four life size wooden carvings of warriors that each had their own unique appearance, an armored samurai warrior, a knight, a Viking barbarian, and a plain human size figure with a blank face and no distinguishing features.
Sean lead the way to the weapons rack and picked up one of the wooden samurai swords. He was surprised when he saw Gregor slide one of the sharp metal blades from its sheath. He looked up at his uncle with a questioning stare, seeing if he was serious about using the real blades.
“Are you concerned that I might actually cut you,” Gregor asked with exaggerated surprise, “or perhaps you are worried of hurting me?”
He put back his practice sword and stepped away from the rack to look directly at his uncle.
“Practicing is one thing, but if you're serious about using real blades, I'm not going to do this. You know how you and I can get. Maybe you can handle it but I'm not ready.” Sean could feel a bit of anger building up inside him at his uncle's proposal. How could he suggest such a dangerous idea?
Gregor laughed softly.
“This blade is not for me. It's for you”
He held the deadly end, and extended the hilt toward his nephew.
There was always a degree of tension between the two of them. The very thought of a swinging swords at each other was beginning to add fuel to the fire in his chest. His breathing was starting to get heavier.
He reached for the weapon and locked stares with his uncle. The hairs on the back of his neck were bristling and he realized how vulnerable his uncle had just made himself. All he had to do was push the sword forward and into his chest. It wouldn't kill him even if he did pierce his heart, but it would seriously maim to the point where Sean could overtake him.
The moment lingered as they both held onto the sword. It was a test. His uncle was trying to see if he could keep control over himself and not act on his violent impulse. Without looking away, he firmly gripped the sword and pointed it down to his side.
Gregor turned abruptly almost making Sean jump, ready to attack. He picked up the second sword without unsheathing it, and with one more glance at his nephew proceeded over to the wooden figures that stood in the corner of the room. He grabbed the feudal Chinese warrior by the wrist and whispered something in the language of magic. Sean couldn't make out the precise words but he did recognize the sound when his uncle used it. The words hummed with the energy of his projected will, and the figure made a cracking noise as it extended its arm straight with its hand open.
“This wooden golem will be your opponent,” his uncle spoke as he removed the sheath and placed the samurai blade into the palm the warrior. Its hand closed abruptly on the weapon.
He turned to face his nephew and continued. “I had used the golems in the past throughout the manor for protection. Once I activated them I left them animated, and much like a battery loses its energy so does the magic instilled into these guardians. Now, once I put them in motion, they only function for a limited duration of an hour or two. You know how much I like to keep things of magic even if it doesn't work as originally intended, so I found a new purpose for them… practice dummies.
“I can mentally command these constructs and will be able to fight you indirectly, without the risk of our enmity getting out of hand, although I feel I should still assure you that I am not trying to kill you. I warn you despite their appearance they can move quickly and their strength is greater than most men. Don't hold back any killing blows. These things can take the damage and within a few days fully restore themselves. Are you ready to begin?”
The wooden figure took on a fighting position, sword held over head with the tip of the blade pointed at Sean, and its other arm straight out in front with two fingers extended. It posed in a perfect fighting stance ready to fight. He raised his own sword vertically in front of him in a two handed style, and took a wide stance with one foot slightly more forward than the other.
“Whenever you want to begin,” he said with a bit of a snarl.
He could feel some of his animal aggression beginning to surface. He gritted his teeth and bit down on his rage. It was always harder to maintain control with his uncle present. He suspected that this too was part of a test.
The wooden warrior took the initiative and lunged, swinging the blade in a counterclockwise circle aimed at his shoulder. Sean blocked easily by moving his blade to the left to deflect the attack, and countered with a quick blow to his opponent’s head, but the warrior was quicker than he anticipated and reversed its grip so the flat of the blade ran down its forearm. It blocked him and pushed his blade putting him slightly off balance. It continued with its fluid movement, and its body went into a sharp spin, bringing its weapon around in a downward powerful arc. It was so fast that he barely had time to bring his own weapon up to block the blow. When their two swords collided, the shock of the impact sent painful vibrations up his arms.
The golem grabbed its sword with both hands and stepped forward with a lunge aimed at Sean's center. He twisted his body and sidestepped inward toward his opponent. While his blade slid down the other sword he kicked with his left foot at its forward knee. On a normal person it would've popped their knee out of joint, or at least knock them off balance, but this wasn't a person of flesh that he was fighting. His foot stung like he had just kicked a solid tree. It didn't bend unless it wanted to. Taking advantage of his failed attack, the golem let go of its sword with one hand to strike at his face with backhanded fist. Sean hooked his foot on the back of its knee so he could lean back far enough to avoid the blow entirely.
It stepped forward snapping its leg straight trying to bring Sean back up to where it could grapple with him. He didn't want to feel what kind of strength those wooden arms had, so he let go with his foot to fall into a backward roll. Before he could fully get his feet under him he thrust his sword up horizontally over his head to block the anticipated downward strike of his opponent. Once again his arms felt the impact of the weight and strength from the blow.
It lifted its blade and pulled back to swing at him while he was near to the ground and his mobility compromised. Quickly, he sprang to his feet and jumped high tucking his legs under him to dodge the low strike. As he landed the golem was already reversing its attack bringing it back in a downward arc. Sean thrust his blade out and blocked again. This time he had given his sword a steeper angle while deflecting the hit and allowed the two blades to meet further away from his body. This lessened the impact and gave room to absorb the energy of the blow.
He back pedaled to give himself time to recover and to reassess this magical construct. The damn thing was more flexible than a wooden man had any right to be and it was solid, probably weighing over three hundred pounds. It moved with a balanced, crisp speed and each strike was executed nearly perfect, allowing the golem to capitalize on its mass.
How was he going to beat this thing?
He still felt the after effects of the throbbing in his arm. If only he had heeded his uncle's warning of the golem’s strength, he could've avoided the shock to his limb. Sean only took a second to collect himself and to bring his weapon back up in front of him.
Both combatants started to circle one another in a side-stepping fashion. Sean held onto his sword with both hands on the hilt while keeping the blade parallel to his body and in front of his right shoulder. The golem also imitated the way Sean was holding his weapon. They both moved in almost perfect unison mirroring the way they held their swords and stepping at the same time. Slowly the circle they made became smaller as they gradually spiraled closer.
“Come now, Sean! This is not a human you’re facing. If you’re going to defeat it you’re going to have to invoke other aspects of your nature.”
As his uncle spoke the golem made a quick feint as if it were going to lunge. Sean kept his focus sharp and slightly shifted his blade to counter, but he did not commit himself since the golem was only feigning an attack to test his own defenses.
He didn't like what his uncle was suggesting. “Invoking other aspects of his nature,” meant a partial transformation. This was something new he and Gregor had only just begun experimenting with a few weeks ago. The purpose was to help Sean come to terms with his other self and to gradually ease him into a transformation to where he could feel comfortable and not forget who he was. He was making great progress with it as long as he took plenty of time to calm himself through meditation, but this was a much more aggressive scenario. He decided to consider, but not act on the advice his uncle gave him.
Just as they were about to make their second resolution he launched himself into a swift stabbing lunge, timing his attack precisely as the golem crossed its legs and was settling its weight on its feet. With a skilled response Sean's strike was countered, but he did not relent his offense. He threw a rapid series of left to right attacks which the golem was finding increasingly more difficult to keep up with due to its compromised footing. He was able to connect his sword to the golem’s wooden body several times.
Sean smiled with the success he was having all of a sudden. He was actually starting to get thrill out of this.
Suddenly the golem did something unexpected and lowered its defense which allowed Sean to make a very solid hit into the golem’s mid-section just below the ribs. On a normal flesh and blood opponent such a hit would have been fatal, but in this case the sword became wedged. It took him two tugs to get the blade unstuck, but by then it was too late. The golem deliberately pulled its sword back with the tip of it pointing at Sean's stomach and drove him through.
He looked down in disbelief. The pain barely even registered. He was in complete shock.
Sean stared down at the sword hilt sticking out of his abdomen. He could only see three inches of the metal blade, but could imagine the rest of it inside him and poking out his back. Time felt like it had slowed down sparing him briefly from moving forward into agony.
He didn't know what to think. His uncle had stabbed him through the use of the golem. He understood that it was the golem’s hand that had pushed the sword through him, but it was controlled by the mind of his uncle. Gregor had never inflicted such a painful wound on him before. In fact, in the past he had always been careful to pull his swings at the last possible second softening any contact with the practice swords. This… this was completely unexpected.
The golem started to slide the weapon out of Sean's belly. Immediately he felt the sickening pain shoot through the core of his body which forced time to jump start again. He tightened his muscles in his legs forcing himself to stay upright and to resist the urge in his knees to buckle. He could do nothing as he watched the blood stained blade continue to retract from the wound.
As soon as it was pulled out and away from him his legs gave way and he folded onto his knees letting his own sword fall to the floor beside him. He had to remind himself to breathe but when he felt his pain spike he understood why he was holding his breath and winced in reaction.
The golem took two steps back and took its time to circle around Sean.
“Get up Sean!” Gregor commanded. “You have suffered far worse than that fraction of a wound.”
He still couldn't believe his uncle had stabbed him, and now he was callously telling him to brush it off. What the hell was he trying to do? Sean slowly raised his head to look at his uncle with an incredulous look. His uncle just stared back at him, standing in the same spot he had been when this match had begun. The expression on his face never changed and continued to remain neutral without betraying what he felt or thought. That withdrawn attitude irritated Sean and he could feel his anger stir within him once more.
“Stop fighting like a normal person Sean, for you are anything but that. Focus on your sword and use what you are to crush your opponent.”
Sean locked gazes with his uncle as he grabbed hold of his sword. The pain on his face melted away to be replaced with narrow eyes of deadly intent. He no longer thought about the injury in his middle that was healing itself closed as he slowly stood. He felt as though he were a snake coiling, preparing itself to spring forward in a deadly attack. Gregor cracked a sliver of a smile onto his stone cold face, and that small movement set Sean's blood to boiling.
The golem had strategically placed itself between the two of them with its sword perfectly poised in front and at its center. He didn't miss a beat in redirecting his prepared attack onto the golem instead, and leaped forward swinging his blade furiously at the wooden model of a samurai. It expertly blocked and countered with its own attack to which Sean blocked as well. Sparks flew off the blades of both fighters and the ringing of the swords filled the air.
Sean was like a demon with his blade, fighting as if he were possessed with only one objective in mind and nothing else mattered. The speed and strength of his strikes increased as he surged from one attack to the next. He was so intent on destroying what was in front of him that he didn't even notice how his body was gradually changing.
His muscles were increasing in bulk and definition, and where ever skin was visible the amount of hair was multiplying at a slow and steady rate. If he had half a mind to notice he would've also realized how his mouth was starting to puff up and his teeth were becoming sharper. Even the rounded tops of his ears were beginning to show a bit of a point to them.
Suddenly the golem swung its sword unexpectedly with the flat edge of its blade striking hard at Sean's wrist. His hand went numb with the impact and he lost the strength to hold onto his own sword. For the second time in this fight he dropped his weapon, but he didn't let that minor fact bother him.
Rather than make any attempt to recover the sword he grabbed a hold of the golem’s wrist and twisted. He rolled his own body so that his back was up against the golem and it could do nothing to resist the direction Sean was taking its arm. With his own shoulder pushed up under the golem's upper arm he yanked abruptly downward and a loud crack echoed in the room. The golem was not in a position to prevent Sean from wrenching down a second and final time, and the arm came off in a splintering shower of wood.
Without slowing down he continued his relentless attack and swung the now detached arm like a club into the back of the golem’s head. The thing stumbled forward losing its balance as Sean struck it again and again. Unable to resist the bombardment the golem fell hard, planting its face into the floor. It started to push up, but Sean jumped onto its back bringing his full weight to bear, pinning the golem. Crouching down on its back he swiftly twisted the sword out of the golem's remaining hand and in one fluid motion stood up and hurled the weapon like a short spear straight at his uncle's head.
The instant the sword left the tips of his fingers he regretted it. Time seemed to stretch out as he watched in slow motion the inevitable. Tiny bits of what little remained of his own crusted blood fell off the blade as it glided through the air unerringly toward Gregor. In that moment Sean completely forgot about the anger and fury that had consumed him. He couldn't breathe as he stood there frozen in horror.
Finally, the deadly end of the blade reached its destination, less than an inch away from Gregor's right ear, and slid neatly into the wall. The sword embedded itself almost up to the hilt, and neither one of them moved. Gregor didn't move a muscle. He didn't even flinch. Even the crippled golem had stopped moving and a heavy silence permeated the air.
Gregor partly smiled and said “You did well.”
The frozen spell was broken and those simple words from his uncle rekindled the fire in Sean's heart. His eyes narrowed with evident irritation as he continued to speak, nearly oblivious to what was being said.
“If I had been someone else truly intent on causing you harm”, Gregor continued, “destroying the golem would not have saved you. It's important to know who your true adversary is and not be distracted by other obstacles. However, you still need to improve on maintaining control of your transformation. You need to better manage your stress level and to keep your thoughts clear.”
Sean barely heard the appraisal with the ringing fury that still swelled inside of him. It was made even worse seeing how his uncle stood there so calm like he wasn't in any kind of danger. It was likely that even if Sean's aim had been true, he probably would have been able to dodge or deflect the sword. Uncle Gregor always had a way to protect himself. He didn't get to be centuries old without being mindful of his surroundings and having the power to keep himself safe.
It aggravated Sean how casually he took all this and his anger elevated, igniting his instincts to attack the vampire before him. His nostrils were flaring. He could feel the pounding of his heart and the rushing of his blood made it hard to hear anything. The regret he had felt only a moment before died as quickly as it had been born. All he wanted to do now was to strangle the life out of the creature in front of him.
It wouldn't have been the first time he and his uncle came to blows. There had been many times before where Sean could not restrain from throwing himself at his uncle intent on killing him. Other than the first couple of seconds of those violent incidents Sean could not remember a single thing of what he imagined to be a brutal fight. It was occasions like that when his werewolf side took over that caused him to have black outs. He couldn't recall anything that happened from that point on until he could reawaken the next day in his human form.
With a sharp growl he pulled himself out of the moment, and without thinking charged out of the room. If something else happened to him before he reached the stairs he doubted he'd be able to stop from engaging his uncle.
Gregor remained silent and stayed where he was.
Sean was up the stairs and back into the kitchen before he realized it. He stormed his way into the dining hall and with hardly a thought grabbed hold of one of the ornate chairs and hurled it across the room as hard as he could. It smashed against the wall with a loud crash. The chair exploded into pieces of wood and twisted metal. He clenched his fists and released a roar of pure frustration. The scream was part human and part animal and left an eerie echo throughout the room.
He needed to be out and away from here. He rushed to the high double doors in the main foyer and shoved them both open. The oppressive hate that he was drowning in started to lift as he ran out of the house and into the night. Part of him welcomed the relief and part of him wanted to indulge in the raw energy coursing through out his body.
He continued to run down the paved driveway and turned onto the first side path that offered itself. The late spring air blew crisp and cool against his face, and helped to wash him clean of the heated turmoil that was burning in his soul. A half moon could be seen every now and then drifting in and out from behind the massive overcast that dominated the starless sky. Occasionally a bright flash of lightening would illuminate the angry storm clouds that promised a relentless rain. Trees and underbrush were a blur to him and their details hardly mattered.
He ran, to get away from the manor and to shake off the dark presence enveloping him. He wanted to be himself again and not at the mercy of his instincts. He had been able to escape Gregor's challenge without losing himself, but the desire to change into a werewolf still clawed at him.
He couldn’t deny how he enjoyed the sensation of power he had when he transformed. It was like being supercharged with raw power. He could go anywhere and do anything. He felt unstoppable.
There was also fear. He was afraid of not having conscious control of such strength. He could easily kill or destroy just about anything in that other form, and he didn’t know himself well enough to trust what he would do.
If he wanted he could change now, and be relatively safe from causing harm to himself or anyone else. His uncle had even told him that he had to be willing to let go sometimes, and allow himself to become a werewolf. Releasing the beast from within from time to time was supposed to be healthy and normal, or so claimed Gregor, but Sean didn't think there was anything normal about it.
Other animals could smell, or sense, that he was a predator and immediately became uneasy around his presence. Most people might be fooled by his human face, but on the rare occasion where he did interact with another person they still picked up on something that made them feel uneasy. For Sean it served as constant reminder that he had become a creature outside the normal realm of reality, and he would never have a regular life.
He slowed his pace and hung his head lower as some despair crept in around the edges of his rage. He respected and even loved his uncle as though he was a father, but there was no ignoring the fact he was a vampire. Their opposing natures would always be a constant conflict no matter what they did.
It was difficult to accept this life. He had lost his childhood memories, and had to struggle with understanding who he was now. Sometimes he imagined having amnesia might not be such a bad thing. At least he didn't have the experience of a normal life clashing with the one he was living now. So whatever "normal" was, it was, in truth, an imagined concept. Whatever life he might have had with his birth parents was gone. Now he had to live as a prisoner behind magical fortifications to stay hidden from the monster that made him, deprived of an ordinary life, and devoid of contact with others he could relate to.
There were less than a handful of people that he associated with on a regular basis, none of which were close to his age. The age gap only further decreased what little he had in common with any of them. He found his thoughts drifting, and he considered what he knew about the few people that lived here with him.
There was Daniel Rosenblatt and his wife Rebecca that were loyal servants of Gregor, and whom lived at the manor too. Officially Daniel was the butler and Rebecca was the cook, but they both did many odd jobs around the place. They were an elderly couple in their early seventies who his uncle had employed almost twenty years ago. Daniel had just been laid off from his job when the factory he worked for revolutionized and replaced many of their employees with machines. The couple inquired about the job offer his uncle had. After he interviewed them and checked their backgrounds they were hired. Gradually, Gregor carefully made them aware of the supernatural world and made known what he was. His uncle had proved himself to be a respectable, good man, and surprisingly the Rosenblatts had no trouble accepting him for what he was.
The only other person who he had any regular contact with was Carols. Sean didn't know much about him since he didn't like to talk about himself. Sean knew that he was an ex-marine who was down on his luck before he came here. The man was the big, strong, silent type and was very professional when it came to his uncle. His primary job was security and he performed the duties of a bodyguard. However, with modern technology and magic combining to guard the property, there wasn't much he had to do in the way of protecting, so he used his spare time to tend the gardens and maintain the grounds. Sometimes Sean helped him and he would learn a thing or two.
There was also Anna, the only person Gregor had sired. She was originally a seventeen-year-old that had a terminal sickness before his uncle turned her. He raised her as if she were his own daughter and allowed her to live the life that she would have otherwise been denied. He taught her how to maintain her discipline, and not allow her vampiric thirst for blood to rule her life like so many others. He also taught her to value life and to not squander the gift he had given her. It was one of the things his uncle seemed to be excellent at doing, to challenge and inspire people to be there best. Anna was currently traveling, and taking her time to experience the world.
When it became evident that Sean was becoming a werewolf his uncle had advised her not to come home unannounced and to keep her distance. She was fascinated Gregor would even attempt to care for a person bitten by a werewolf, and was very interested in how things would turn out. She maintained constant contact with Sean throughout the years using the phone, letters and emails. She would tell him in detail where she was and what she was doing and send him pictures of her adventures. It was one of the few things he looked forward to every few days, as though it were a temporary reprieve from his isolation.
The Rosenblatts were much older than he, Carlos wasn't a socialite, Anna was thousands of miles away, and he and Gregor could never become to close because of what they were. There was no one else in his life that was of his age or could relate with him. The rampant emotions that had engulfed him before had completely left him now and a mantle of gloom had settled around his shoulders.
He felt depressingly alone.
A rain drop hit the back of his neck, and little specks of water appeared on the dry dirt and leaves all around him. It started to lightly drizzle and the slow moving clouds promised to hang around for a while. He thought it was poetic how the weather seemed to reflect his mood.
Sean had stopped in a small clearing where the ground sloped up toward some thicker woods. He turned around and looked back in the direction he had come from. A flash of lightening silhouetted the large manor that had been his home for the past few years. Sean thought of his uncle, and what he knew of his life before he joined him in this secret world of the supernatural.
Gregor had been as straight forward as possible about what it was like for him to become a vampire in hopes that it would help Sean through his own strenuous beginning. His uncle had not always accepted what he was and in fact had a darker time of it than Sean had. His sire was a cruel and dominating vampire that only wanted to keep his prodigy as slaves or soldiers loyal to the death. He only taught Gregor what was necessary for him to know in order to better serve, and he used pain and fear as vices to control those he lorded over. Eventually Gregor rebelled and escaped, killing the monster that had called himself his maker. He only knew the essentials of how to take care of himself as a vampire, and for many years struggled on his own while he learned the intricacies of the life he had been forced into.
He had difficulty mastering his hunger for blood, but in time he learned to dedicate himself to something greater. He chose to surround himself with books, art, and people of influence, and to take an active role in the world of humanity. He felt it was far better to drink deeply from the cup of life and take risks as opposed to living forever, hiding in the darkness, protecting his immortality. It was this passion for life that gave him a powerful focus to control his bestial appetite. Of course he still felt the inevitable pull to drink blood, and he still indulged in it. It was a necessary sin that his kind had to partake, but at least in his case he had become the master of his own hunger, and not the other way around.
Sean admired his uncle's dedication of continual self improvement, and how Anna had devoted herself to a very similar path. He strived to capture for himself the passion that they had empowered themselves with, and the different ways they applied their knowledge to improve the world around them. He wished that he could follow in Anna's footsteps by traveling the world and living a life he chose, but he couldn't do so in safety. The werewolf responsible for biting him was still out there, somewhere, hunting for him. Gregor constantly reminded Sean that it was dangerous for him to go just anywhere, and it was in his best interest to stay at the manor.
Sean couldn't remember any details about the monster that had destroyed his life. All his memories were erased up until the day he awoke in his uncle's manor. He relied mostly on Gregor's recollection of that terrible night and the watered down memories he telepathically shared with him.
Sean and his mother were the only direct descendants of his bloodline, and that reason alone gave him an invested interest in keeping an eye on them, albeit distantly. On a few occasions he'd even take the evening to check on them in person, and it just so happened he was there that night.
Just before he was about to leave there was an unusual presence in the air. Something unnatural. Before he had a chance to consider it the most massive nightmare of a creature he had ever seen appeared out of nowhere and tore into the second floor of the house as if it were made of paper where young Sean's bedroom was. The sheer size and power of the creature left Gregor in shock and incapable of taking immediate action, but it was more than that. The thing exuded a wrongness about it, defiling and infecting the area all around, and it left Gregor paralyzed with fear, a sensation he was not at all used to.
It all became worse when the colossal beast held young Sean aloft near its eyes and a bright green light erupted between the two of them. Reality felt like it was warping, ripping apart, making him feel sick and twisted inside. By the time he had regained his senses the night was filled with gun fire and explosions, and the air was filled with the scent of blood and death. It was a miracle he hadn't been caught up in all the collateral damage scattered about.
Quickly he ascertained his surroundings taking it all in with supernatural speed. The giant werewolf was in the distance maliciously killing Veil agents, and more of them laid about dead or dying, torn apart and beyond saving. Even Sean's parents were dead, but that part of the memory was blurred out by his uncle, something he absolutely refused to show him.
Much to Gregor's surprise he did find his nephew barely alive lying in a bed of crushed flowers. Without wasting another moment, he grabbed the boy and ran. There was sanctuary not too far he originally intended on using that evening, but in light of the horrible attack it was far better to put as much distance between themselves and whatever intentions the corrupted werewolf had.
It wasn't long before the thing was on their trail hunting for the sole survivors of its attack and the rest of night was a frightening life and death game of cat and mouse. Gregor barely escaped with enough time to find shelter from the sun before collapsing from exhaustion.
The next evening when Gregor awoke he fully expected to find a corpse lying near him, but to his surprise his nephew was still alive. His breathing was shallow, and his heart was struggling to pump blood through his mangled body, but somehow that twelve-year-old boy still had life left in him. He didn't believe Sean could possibly survive another hour, and there was only one thing he could do to keep him from dying, and that was to turn him right then and there.
In retrospect, perhaps he wasn't thinking clearly. He had after all depleted his reserves and was in dire need of blood, and despite his discipline he was still susceptible to his hunger. The other thought driving his decision was simply how he could not allow this innocent child to die. He hoped for forgiveness before he gently bit his neck, but the instant blood touched his tongue Gregor ripped his head away spitting vehemently. Sean’s blood tasted like poison.
That was when Gregor realized why Sean had survived. He had been bitten by the werewolf, and that was the reason his arm was missing. Despite the grievous injuries Gregor knew that given enough time Sean would fully recover and become a werewolf himself.
With disregard to his nephews impending change he vowed he'd take Sean in and look after him, despite being aware of how their different natures would inevitably clash. Gregor chose to overlook the mortal enemy soon to be born, and saw an injured child who had just lost his family, and now had no one.
From that point on Sean had to live his life in hiding and under the protection of his uncle. There were a handful of occasions when they had left the manor and twice when the monstrous beast that had bit him found them, threatening their lives and causing much death and destruction in pursuit of Sean. For some reason, neither of them could fathom, it was still hunting for him, but as long as he stayed at the manor within the protective wards, he remained undetected.
There weren't many things his uncle was afraid of, but that werewolf had certainly been one of them and he had no desire of ever coming into a direct confrontation with the thing. Sean also fully understood Gregor had no intentions of allowing him the chance of encountering that beast either.
Sean feared the werewolf too, but couldn't stand to be trapped here any longer. He felt like a hostage to his own fate. If he left, he'd be in danger, and vulnerable to that giant monster. On the other hand, if he stayed here any longer something would just break inside him. He felt deprived of human contact and it was taking a toll on him. He also had to endure the constant hatred he felt for his uncle that went against all reason. That sensation alone smothered his sensibility denying him the chance to be himself. There was also the wolf in him that cried out constantly to be able to run free of this place. It was too much to bear. He couldn't stay here any longer. He had to leave, because if he didn't he'd go insane.
Right there and then he knew exactly what he had to do.
He started to walk back toward the manor with determination in his stride. He understood the risk he was going to take. He might die, but better that than to let himself go crazy by staying here. He knew how his uncle would argue against his decided course, and how he would likely point out all the reasons as to why this was the wrong thing to do.
Why did he even have to bother telling him? He could simply skip going to his uncle and just leave in the morning, right after Gregor fell asleep. Sean didn't really want to think about his decision. He wanted to act now while his commitment was solid. He'd start by packing and decide later how he would deal with his uncle.
Gregor remained where he was while his nephew took his rage upstairs. He sighed releasing some of his own tension that had been building during their encounter. He regretted having pushed Sean the way he had, because it seemed cruel, but he felt it was necessary. He wasn't sure how much longer the boy was going to stay with him, but he did sense an end was near. He wanted to do the best he could to prepare Sean to handle the world on his own.
He had made some milestone improvements in managing his emotions and controlling when he became a werewolf, but there were still instances in which he had difficulty. One was a classic symptom that many shape shifters shared, the closer the moon came to being full the more likely it was for the beast within him to surface. The other problem was that he resisted transforming on a regular basis, and the longer he went without changing, the more difficult it became for him to influence it.
Whenever Sean fully changed into a werewolf he became a beast operating on pure instincts with little to no cognitive thought. His transformations mostly occurred while he was under high levels of stress, and often whatever the source was, he would attack. This of course presented a huge problem if Sean were ever to interact with the world at large.
There was something about transforming that terrified Sean and he suspected it was in part his lack of memory of what happened while in the other form. He exhibited classic signs of someone with a dual personality, except in his case it was more than just a mental change. Sean was not unique in this problem for it did occur every now and then to other shape shifters. It was usually the result of some kind of trauma not unlike the near death experience his nephew had gone through. Unfortunately, during Gregor's research, the few were-creatures he'd found that had suffered similar conditions to Sean had all gone wild in the end never returning to their human form.
Another important detail that made Sean's condition different than other were-creatures was the fact that the creature that had bitten him continued to aggressively pursue him with killing intent. It was because of that he felt Sean had to remain at the manor until they could find out more about the beast.
Gregor couldn't bring himself to recognize the creature as simply an oversized werewolf. It's massive size defied reason, and the fact it appeared and disappeared without a hint of where it went only added to the mystery of the thing. The first time Gregor had seen the creature eight years ago holding Sean in its grasp, he could have sworn that the beast had used some kind of perverted version of magic. Could the creature itself be some kind of manifestation? If so then who or what was controlling it, and what was their interest in Sean? Or might it be an entirely different creature that took that as its form? The only thing Gregor was certain about was its bite had permanently changed Sean, and that he was left with many more questions than answers.
He could sense that by now his nephew had left the house, so Gregor felt secure in the knowledge that his presence upstairs would not further instigate Sean. He left the practice room and headed upstairs. Following the path Sean had taken he walked into the dining hall, and found Rebbecca beginning to pick up the pieces of the broken chair. It was a shame it had been so utterly destroyed, but not unexpected. As far as he knew no one had ever tried to raise a werewolf quite like this, let alone a vampire doing the raising. There was bound to be things that wound up breaking. The chair wasn't the first thing nor would it likely be the last.
Gregor crossed the width of the room to where the rubble lay scattered on the floor, and bent down to help the old woman.
“What do you think you're doing, sir?” Rebbecca asked with irritation. She started to pick up the pieces more quickly and putting them in the fold of her apron.
“What does it look like? I'm helping!” he said this in a gentle voice with the hint of a smile in his eyes. It pleased and amused him at how personally she took her job.
“You, sir, should stop being so silly, and let me do the cleaning.” She put emphasis on the word “me” to make sure her conviction was apparent.
“Rebbecca, I am in part responsible for this mess for having pushed my nephew's limits this evening. Besides what makes me better than you where I should not tend to chores such as this?”
“Because, this is what you pay me to do!” She said as she grasped from Gregor's hand a large chunk of wood with some gilded gold half attached and half jutting out in a twisted fashion.
He held onto the piece of debris, not relinquishing it as she stubbornly tried to tug it away from him. He moved it up higher forcing her to look up at his face.
“If I stop paying you would you then let me clean this up?” he said with playful sarcasm.
She looked back at him and some of the steel left her voice. “No, sir! Even if you somehow lost all your money and couldn't pay me another dime I'd still work for you. Being here has been one of the most interesting and best experiences I've had in all my life. Now shoo and let me do what I do before I beat you up old man.”
She yanked the piece of wood from him again, this time successfully. He allowed her the victory understanding that her pride would not let him assist in cleaning the mess. He was also impressed with the loyalty the Rossenblatts had given him and did not wish to insult Rebbecca's dedication by forcing the issue.
He simply said, “As you wish,” and rose, leaving the room to enter the main foyer.
He could feel the watchful eyes of the sculpted guardian of Draco as he passed under the archway. It was similar to the wooden golem he had just used to spar with his nephew, but the enchantment placed on this one was more recent and had many years to go before it would become inactive. It was enchanted to animate and attack any uninvited guests violating the threshold of his manor. It was one of the many defenses he had surrounding the manor.
Gregor noticed that the front doors still stood open, presumably from when his nephew hurled himself outside to run the grounds. He stepped outside onto the dais under the overhang, and did a slow scan of the night horizon extending his senses in search of his nephew. Being familiar with Sean's mind, it didn't take him long to find where he was, haphazardly crashing through the woods. He could feel his nephew's rage emanating like a beacon in the stormy night. The sensation was intoxicating to Gregor, encouraging him to go after the werewolf in his domain, like a predator pursuing its prey. It was enticing, but he possessed more than enough will power to resist the temptation of the hunt.
He turned around, heading back into the foyer, feeling confident that the wards protecting the grounds would be sufficient in keeping Sean safely within the boundaries. There had been instances in the first year during his nephews stay when he had left the safety of the manor and had caused some severe problems resulting in several people being injured and even a few unfortunate deaths. Gregor pitied Sean more than he did the hunters that had died that night. They had been cruel men with a total lack of respect toward life. In his opinion, the world was a better place without men like that.
It was a bit time consuming on his part to disguise the details of the accident and alter people's memories so as not to cause any repercussions that would bring unwanted attention their way. The true tragedy of it all was how the deaths of those men weighed on Sean's conscious. It only served to increase his apprehension to transform and make it harder to find acceptance in what he was now. If only he could help his nephew to trust in his werewolf persona, then everything else might fall into place and he could heal from his spiritual wounds.
Concern for Sean's future reminded him of the phone call he had received earlier from his Veil contact, Adam, and he felt now was an excellent time to head to the study and return the call. He left the foyer down the hall to the library, but stopped midway and pushed open the sliding doors to his personal study. The room contained shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling and the only two sections without were the doors into the room and a large bay window on the opposite side. There were two old fashioned, high back reading chairs side by side facing a wide desk in front of the window. He turned on the lights and adjusted the dial to a comfortable dim setting then closed the doors behind him.
He moved around the desk to where he had his cell phone plugged into a signal scrambler, a little box about the size of a thick hard cover book. It was a device he had picked up from a military friend of Carlos. It was commonly used in the field to keep an enemy from locking onto their signal to locate the caller or to eavesdrop on the conversation. Gregor had opened it up and reprogrammed it with his own original codes so he didn't have to worry about anyone familiar with the box compromising its security. It was a bit complicated to dissect it all and rebuild, but he certainly appreciated the anonymity it added to his life.
He scrolled down the list of numbers saved on his phone until he found Adam’s name. He was a scientist that worked for the Veil, and had been tipping Gregor off to their operations.
It was a secret organization that employed psychics and elements from the supernatural world to do various tasks of secrecy. It was something that he himself had contributed to during its earlier years when honest, decent men ran the program. During its existence it changed supervisors several times and each succession seemed to be more corrupt than the last. As the trend became more apparent Gregor had severed his ties and ceased in giving it his aid. Since then he had come into conflict with the Veil several times and had become something of a reoccurring adversary of theirs.
He hit the button to dial Adam, and listened to the phone ring three times before there was an answer. The first thing he heard was, "Is this line secured." Adam's voice sounded nervous and he spoke in a low whisper as though he was hiding and didn't want to be found.
Gregor immediately answered, "Yes. Is this a bad time?"
"No, but I need to make this quick."
"What can you tell me?" he asked in anticipation.
"That thing is somehow related to that kid it killed. He was the key they had used to summon that monster." Neither Adam nor the Veil knew that Sean had survived that night, and it was a secret he was sure kept the agency from searching for him.
"I already suspected that the two were related in some way. Can you please be more specific?" he requested, keeping his voice calm and impersonal.
"No, you don't understand," he spoke rapidly, trying to get the words out as fast as he could. "I mean that it was an ancestor of his or something. I saw a bunch of research showing family lineage and birth certificates. It began with that kid, Sean, and went all the way back to some guy named, Nicholas Thorn. He was some sort of explorer that had sailed off to discover new lands and no one ever heard of again. They think that this guy is somehow this giant werewolf they keep trying to track down and capture."
“Do you have anything else?"
"No! That's all I had time to get, and you're lucky I found that much."
"You did excellent. Keep trying to find out more, and I..."
"Gotta go," Adam interrupted and abruptly hung up.
Gregor sincerely hoped Adam wasn't in any serious trouble as he turned his cell phone off. Adam was just a scientist that worked in the research department of the Veil. He had a wife and two kids and was not particularly cut out for the spying business, but the longer he worked there the more disturbing things he'd see. When Gregor approached him two years ago, he had only to engage the man's conscience in order to encourage him to become an informant. For Adam it was an attempt at redemption for all the things the Veil had forced him to do.
He stood there for a moment to reflect on the information that had been passed onto him, and how it might help to protect Sean. Assuming what Adam had seen was correct, and there was indeed a shared lineage between the werewolf and his nephew, he couldn't help but to wonder if there might be blood magic involved.
This form of magic was talked about in whispers from those who were true participants of the magical world. It was a rare and nearly extinct practice that involved consuming the spiritual and physical essence of life. Its origins were rumored to have come from devilkin and they supposedly had used that type of magic to empower their spells. The few stories he had heard of humans attempting the dark art often wound up killing them in a backlash of energy taking their life in the process. Supposedly there were claims that if the caster used a person that was related to them by blood then their odds of successfully using blood magic went up dramatically.
He had found a couple of incomplete rituals and spells that used blood magic from archaeological digs he had sponsored, and kept them guarded in the lower levels of his manor. Most of the elders in the magical community known as the Arcanus took a severe point of view regarding the topic, and opted to have all things involving it destroyed for the betterment of humanity. If it became known that he possessed anything in regards to this forbidden art, he would very likely find himself hunted down by the Knights of Merlin and never know another moment of peace again.
Blood magic was considered evil, and doubly so if it was in the possession of a vampire, because of their affinity toward blood. It was mostly conjecture, but back in the time when magic had been an integral part of the world, during the Age of Legends, a few vampires had created havoc on a massive scale with that type of magic. Now, after the passage of time had made such knowledge become mere shadows of possible truths, people who were aware could feel a sense of dread at the thought of a vampire gifted with that kind of power.
He found the whole topic extremely intriguing, but caught himself before his thoughts went too far on a tangent. In regards to Sean and this other werewolf, blood magic was only a possibility, but his intuition told him that he was right.
There was something dreadfully evil about that werewolf, something that disturbed Gregor deeply, and he wondered often how its bite might have altered Sean into something more than a typical lycanthrope.
Aside from his psychological difficulties he seemed to exhibit all the basic characteristics of a normal werewolf, although Gregor was basing his comparison on books and notes rather than firsthand knowledge. He couldn't approach a shape-shifter and ask any of them for advice. A vampire trying such a stunt wouldn't even be able to get a word out before the matter became about teeth and nails. Trying to get a third party involved would raise suspicions and both he and his nephew's lives would be disturbed by those who thought they were trying to help, but likely would make worse an already strained situation.
The fewer of those who knew of Sean's existence, the better his chance of survival. He just needed more time to understand the nature of the beast that pursued his nephew. Unfortunately, time was running out, and this evening had been the most information he had gotten in several years which wasn't much at all.
His thoughts were interrupted by Daniel’s firm knocking on the door. He bid him to enter and the sliding doors to the study opened with the butler looking concerned. Gregor could easily see that the man was worried about something and instantly became alert for anything out of the ordinary.
"Sir, it's your nephew," he said hesitantly. "I saw him packing clothes into a bag, and he seemed rather upset. When I inquired what was going on, he rudely told me to go away."
Gregor was surprised. He couldn't truly believe the boy would be preparing to leave here so abruptly, knowing what awaited him beyond the safety of the manor. He had no possible way to defend against the beast that hunted him. He figured that this must be a desperate moment in which his nephew was crying out for attention and sympathy. He would have to go upstairs and remind him of the dire consequences should he choose to leave his sanctuary.
He put a hand on Daniel's shoulder in reassurance as he slipped pass him, "Thank you Daniel. I'll go talk with him."
"Sir, do you think that wise?" he asked as his master continued down the hall. "You know better than anyone how you both get when your emotions are running high.”
"Yes I do, but he is a boy with a descent mind and he is more than capable of resisting such impulses. I can persuade him to see reason."
Even though Gregor had moved halfway across the entry hall his keen hearing could still pick up the agreement his butler mumbled under his breath. Daniel was fond of accusing him of using what he called "Devil's Logic", which he defined as using reason to convince a person of anything.
Using his words to manipulate people's perspective was a natural talent Gregor had always had, and it only improved as he grew older. He had a very sharp mind and confidence in his knowledge about most things, which gave him the power to convince people of almost anything he wished. This ability coupled with his vampiric skills allowed him to become excellent at altering people's thoughts. However, being a decent man of good conscious he refrained from using this gift too often or without just cause.
He ascended the curved flight of stairs to the second floor thinking further on the many points he might use to calm his nephew. The first thing he had to do was to say things that would get Sean to think and engage his intellect. This would help drive him away from the emotional state he was in and force him to use his mind. At that point the rest would be easy.
"Sir," Daniel shouted up to him from the foyer, "He really is quite upset."
He heard the warning of caution underlining Daniel's words, and paused at the top of the stairs. He focused his senses forward down the hall, toward his nephew's room, and could easily hear his haphazard packing. It sounded as though he was yanking the draws out of the dresser and knocking things out of his closet. It wasn't hard to imagine the mess his room was in.
However, that alone wasn't the cause of his butler's concern. As he breathed in deeply the scents emanating from the room he quickly understood the meaning behind the words. He could smell the feral aroma radiating from the boy which more often than not had become common, especially in the past couple of years. The wall between his nephew and the werewolf had become paper thin and only seconds away from ripping through. He could taste the presence of the trespasser like battery acid on the tip of his tongue. He burned with the desire to launch himself forward and eradicate the monster that invaded his territory.
Gregor steeled himself, exerting his will, and as quickly as his own rage had flashed to life he quelled it with the discipline earned through centuries of living. He swallowed back his unfounded hatred, resisting the growl of his own predatory instincts, and let himself walk calmly forward toward his nephew's room.
He had to be careful how he presented himself to Sean. If he came across as aggressive then he would see his uncle as a threat and attack him. If he came across as apologetic or demonstrated any kind of a submissive stance, it could be seen as weakness and Sean could attack him in an attempt to take advantage of that.
The tempest in the bedroom paused for a split second detecting the watchful presence of the vampire, and then continued to tear the room apart almost as if there had been no break. Of course the boy knew he was coming. Better that, he supposed, than completely surprising him. Although either way it was likely he would lash out regardless of how he entered, and if he didn't handle the situation correctly the night might end with another bloody fight he'd regret come the next day.
He began their encounter by politely knocking on the door, giving Sean plenty of warning that he was there. The boy responded with a harsh growl and what sounded like the thud of a suitcase being hurled at the door. With a feeling of apprehension of how things were going, he opened the door slowly.
“Get the hell OUT!” Sean yelled as he threw a duffle bag from across the room at his uncle. Gregor let the lightweight bag collide with him harmlessly and fall to the floor allowing himself a second to look at his nephew. The only light in the room came intermittently from the window as storm clouds sped over the half moon hanging in the sky. He could see Sean's feral eyes reflect the dim lighting, and their luminescence was evidence of how close he was to changing.
“Daniel told me that you were packi…”
“SHUTUP!” Sean yelled with an animalistic roar that shocked both of them.
“You need to calm…”
“Stop it! Every time I try this you always talk me out of it. I can't stand it. I can't stay here any longer.”
“I am not oblivious to your feelings, but you must understand the dangers that await you if you leave here.” The tension on Sean's face was an indication of how hard he was resisting his urge to leap for his uncle's throat with hands that now had darkened nails at the end of his fingertips. “You will very likely die,” Gregor continued, but the comment did nothing to phase Sean.
“Isn't that the point in living?”
“No!” For a split second Gregor's own rage sparked at the ignorant comment, but it was barely noticeable by anyone but himself. He knew he had taught his nephew better than that and the boy's bated question came out of frustration. He recomposed himself internally before Sean could respond.
“You should already know the true answer to that,” he lectured. “Life does not seek death. To live is to embrace the warmth of life and to grow through our experiences.”
“I feel like if I stay another day here something inside me is going to break.” Sean's voice strained with the hint of a desperate whine.
“What do you mean?”
“I don't know… it's just…” he struggled trying to find the words. He put a hand to his forehead and closed his eyes tightly straining to look past the turmoil inside himself. “…what I'm becoming, what I am, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and the only way to get better is to get away from here.”
“Perhaps you have reached the limit of your tolerance for me.”
Occasionally in the past Gregor would take trips away from the manor to help give his nephew a respite from himself. Usually he used the outings to conduct overdue business meetings, and maintaining his network of contacts, but he returned as soon as he could.
“You're leaving here for a week, or so, won't fix this,” Sean snapped. “You may be gone, but your scent, your aura, that's always here. It's driving me crazy. I can't get away from you.” There was more anger in his voice than he intended. He reprimanded himself by biting his tongue. He let out a shaky sigh trying hard to suppress his emotions and readdress his uncle.
“I'm sorry I'm like this. I know I shouldn't hate you, but I can't stop it. You're the only family I have. You've taken me in, taught me things, protected me, even though it's second nature for us to fight.” His voice was just below that of yelling and came out more from between clenched teeth. He did his best to hide the violence that was twisting around inside him but his arms shook with the torrent of emotions.
Gregor held up his hand to interrupt Sean and deny him the chance of self pity. “Don't let such things as ‘our nature’ define you or dictate how you should act. Yes, we are natural enemies, but as individuals our hatred to each other is unfounded. We can rise above this. In fact, we have for more than seven years now.”
Gregor couldn't let his nephew fall into feeling bad for what he was, because down that path the boy would never find a way to accept himself, and that refusal would leave him forever torn. Gregor also understood that his will to make things work between them was an inspiration. Whenever Sean started going astray in how he thought or did things Gregor would explain the better path, and hope by his example he would learn.
“I know but I can't stand it any longer”, Sean continued. “I respect you, but every time I look at you a part of me wants to lash out. The strain is getting to be too much. I need to get away from here, at least for a while.”
He had wanted to leave several times before this, but this instance seemed fundamentally different. There was more desperation and pain behind his words, and he spoke with an air of finality.
If he could only keep his nephew here, long enough to gain information about the other werewolf it could keep him safe. They were lucky to have had that call from Adam earlier. It was encouraging and gave hope that more information would be forth coming.
“Are you aware of all the dangers that wait for you beyond the boundaries of this place? What do you think will happen to you if you left here?” Gregor wanted to steer him away from the impulses of his emotions. If he could reason with him, it would be easier to influence his decision to leave.
“I don't know. Anything. Everything.” His mind struggled with the many grim possibilities. “I know I could die or any number of bad things, but that's what my life has become. I accept that. You've given me a head start, and a better chance than anyone else in my position could ever have. I'm grateful, but I've got to face the world eventually, and this is it for me.”
“You're not ready to face the world yet,” Gregor challenged him.
“That's bullshit! By your standards I'll never be ready. I've got a good idea of what's out there. I'll stay on guard and watch my step. I'm sure other werewolves, who know less than I, have been surviving out there in the real world just fine”
“Other werewolves don't often have the one who bit them hunting them down, let alone a gigantic monster at that,” Gregor pointed out. “Besides simple vigilance will not be enough for you to survive. You will need to have something more.”
“Whatever it is, I'll take it with me!” His emotions were spiking again, and he was resisting reason. There was only one desire in his sight, and the consequences didn't matter to him. Still, Gregor would not give up on him yet.
“You need knowledge, Sean!” Gregor nearly shouted. We're facing an indomitable beast that not even I would risk confronting again without knowing more about it. If you're going to protect or arm yourself against this thing you need to understand it. Can you agree with me on at least that much?”
“Then perhaps you can appreciate that I disapprove of your leaving here until we know more and can understand…”
“Just stop for a second and look at me,” he pleaded, with an expression that combined anguish and misery. “Look at my surroundings. There isn't anything here that your presence doesn't touch. I feel like a prisoner.” As he spoke he dramatically gestured with his hands and arms, and more than a few times his feet almost left the ground in Gregor's direction.
“The only thing I want right now more than anything else is my freedom, and as long as that's the case how do you expect me to live my life. I can't stay hidden here forever. Eventually I have to face my own nightmares if I'm ever going to be free of it.”
The words collided with Gregor's wall of discipline and left cracks in the cold stone. A feeling of deep sympathy was welling up inside him. He understood that if their roles were reversed he'd probably be feeling the same way his nephew was.
They weren't that much different after all. They both harbored monstrous animals under their cloak of humanity capable of extraordinary destruction, and they were slaves to their instincts if they could not exercise control. Gregor knew all too well the power that either one of them could unleash, and the consequences that often followed from such an eruption. He intended on helping Sean avoid the same mistakes he had made.
“I'm not holding you here as a prisoner. I am keeping you safe.” He sighed, realizing his sympathy was draining him of his ability to argue. The inevitable had come and Sean wouldn't stay here much longer. “Look, I understand and sympathies with how you feel, but if you can just give me one or two more months I will know more about the other werewolf and you will at least have that knowledge…”
“No! I can't,” he vehemently interrupted, yet again. “If I stand here and let you talk, you'll find a way to convince me to stay longer, and then longer after that. I'm going to leave here no matter what you do say.”
Sean set his jaw and his face tensed. He had said all he was going to. If there was anything else mentioned against his decision to leave it was clear he was going to begin the physical argument.
When things got bad between them and they fought, Sean would inevitably transform and fight with such an elemental fury the likes of which Gregor seldom encountered. Gregor didn't have the heart to fight with his nephew again. It always pained him to do so, because it only ended after his nephew's ability to regenerate could no longer keep up with the damage he sustained, and he lost consciousness. It was never a pretty sight once it began and neither one of them could stop it until one of them fell. In the end none of the blood on Gregor's hand was his own. Under any other circumstances such a site would provoke the vampire side of him into a frenzy, but in this case his spirit was so crushed with what he had done he could do nothing but feel shame.
He would take it upon himself to clean everything no matter how much his dedicated staff insisted they help him. He was afraid if they saw, he would have to endure their look of horror and how they would forever relate that to him. Sean was blessed with not having any memory of the bloodshed. The burden was all on his shoulders.
He took the measure of his nephew one more time and admitted to himself that this was it. He could no longer keep the boy safely guarded here at his manor no matter what he said. His intentions were quite clear. He would either walk or crawl, but either way he was going to leave. For the first time in his life he conceded the victory to a werewolf and gave him a silent nod.
“So be it. I wish it were otherwise, but your conviction is clear to me.”
Sean was all set to leap across the room and attack his uncle, but after he spoke those words he was shocked and emotionally disarmed. His eyes popped open wide in surprise and his face was in sharp contrast to the threatening stance he held. Gregor had to admit to himself that he preferred the look of the luminescent eyes wide with a touch of innocence verses the narrow look of hatred. He framed the image in his mind as a sentimental keepsake.
“I hope you'll at least give me until tomorrow to help see you on your way,” Gregor asked, “besides it's never a good omen to start a journey in such weather.” He hoped he wasn't pushing things by asking that much, but he sincerely didn't want him to leave unprepared. There were still a few things he could do for him yet.
Sean’s look of surprise faded as he realized that his uncle was still asking him to stay the night. The edge of his anger had already dulled, and he had no desire of letting it build back up to where it had been. He stomped on it and wanted to end this conversation quickly before something happened to escalate the situation again.
“Fine,” he agreed with harsh finality. “I'll give you until tomorrow night, but after that you have to let me go. I don't want you trying to convince me otherwise.”
“I understand. I may not like it, but you have my word. I will not do anything to stop you.”
With that said, Gregor took his leave and quietly closed the door behind him as he went. He had to admit to himself that the boy had accomplished a lot during his stay here despite the obstacles he had to deal with. He had reestablished basic skills and knowledge that his amnesia had wiped, learned to exert his will to maintain discipline over his savage side, and had educated himself on many aspects of the supernatural world he was now a part of. When he considered all his nephew had accomplished he couldn't help but to feel proud.
He placed a lot of importance on Sean, because he was the last surviving blood relative he had. He only hoped that somehow the boy would be able to survive whatever fate had in store for him.
Only time would tell.