Chapter 102 - Dungeons
The smell of blood, burnt flesh, rot, and misery caught in their noses halfway down the passage, and warned them of exactly what they would find.
There were few visible devices of torture, but the men, women and even vampires held in those cages, chained to the walls or hanging from their arms, had been heavily tortured. Alena saw this many times before, and Belvare knew.
“Bring back memories?” Belvare asked of her in a low suggestive voice as if she should find this appealing and she paled ever so slightly.
“Our father used to like this kind of thing,” Alena said in a neutral tone of voice and kept her revulsion firmly locked away.
“Fancy a treat?” Belvare asked of Rowan, and it took all of her willpower to keep her anger from showing as she forced the studied indifference she adopted once, in a life where she could not afford for either humans or vampires to see her as weak.
“Robert provided a meal,” Rowan declined, and his eyes bored into hers for what seemed like an eternity. Rowan found herself unable to read his expression, but she guessed his thoughts. Her denial had just challenged his authority and angered him.
“They’re sheep, my former Damphir. Ours for the culling, whether or not you’re hungry,” Belvare whispered with the edges of fury in his voice in a tone only loud enough for the three of them to hear.
“They are toys for our pleasure, and you will learn that at my side.” It wasn’t a promise, but an order. Even his gentle but possessive kiss against her temple filled her with less dread than those words.
Belvare believed what he said, and he wasn’t the first of their kind with this view, but he may be the one that brings it to pass.
One of the vampires against the wall glanced in their direction, and Alena recognized her. She wasn’t much older than Alena herself and a pureblood born from one of the more powerful, more liberal houses that would stand against Belvare.
Her father was Maxis who was once one of the bloodiest of their kind. For the murder of his wife, he took vengeance against humanity to a whole new level until he discovered that one of their kind and a man of his own house, had her slain. Rupert, his best and most loyal friend, his comrade-in-arms. The man who betrayed him and his family while pretending to lead his armies in search of the culprits.
Maxis decreed on that very same day that his house would no longer take part in the wholesale slaughter of humans and that he would no longer be a party to the genocide Rupert had planned. He made his former best friend into an outcast and opposed those who would not change their ways.
He turned his back on the life he led before and never looked back. Those who remained part of Maxis’ house and kept their bond with him, were many. His choice shocked vampire kind out of their complacency.
Against all the odds, his decision persuaded others to his way of thinking. Maxis remained powerful enough to retain his views and be a serious threat to any who tried his defenses.
Judging from this situation, Alena had to conclude that Belvare neutralized that threat. Seriana was her father’s most treasured possession, and from the looks of her, she’d been down in this hole for a while.
Alena wished she could say something to assure Seriana that they were not the enemy, but Seriana didn’t know the truth. She knew only what her eyes saw, and that was self-evident enough. They were at the monster’s side, and they were unharmed. Seriana turned her head away, and this rejection from Alena’s former friend, and ally, hurt. It made her feel sullied in a way she hadn’t experienced before in her life.
“Come, we will play with them another day,” Belvare decided, but instead of walking out, he made his way to a man that hung askew against the wall by his one arm. The human had enough of his spirit left to stare at Belvare with malevolent hatred.
Belvare said no word, he only smirked, before slowly choking the life out of his helpless prisoner with the effortless grip of his right hand.
He let go before the man could die, only to strike him with enough force that his jaw shattered and came loose. He was still alive when Belvare turned from him and led them away as he wiped his knuckles on a white handkerchief he took from his pocket. They heard him gurgle and moan as he drowned in his own blood.
Alena and Rowan realized Belvare did it to prove his power to them, and that it would be a mistake to do or say anything. They suspected that before this was over, he would force them to do terrible things to demonstrate to them the extent of his control over their lives.
He took them each firmly by the elbow, and the bite of his grip said more than words. They would have to earn his trust, and they could not afford to have any doubts. It was a simple question of the good of many over the good of one.
Victor drummed the concept into Alena since birth that in order to make an omelet, you had to break a few eggs. Rowan saw it more simply; to win a war, you had to make sacrifices. The more quickly they convinced Belvare of their ‘intentions,’ the faster they could end this.
Belvare never introduced himself, as if he knew they knew. He saw them as his property, and thus, they could only call him Sire; his way of reminding them that they were his inferiors.
He returned to his quarters and introduced them to his mistress. From the moment they laid eyes on Mariana, it was evident that she hated them, and that she was aware of his intentions.
The red glints in her auburn hair, the luminous green of her eyes, the almost shimmering paleness of her alabaster skin, the curves of her body, and the perfect lines of her face combined to make her a rare beauty, but her malice ruined the effect.
Her spite showed from the get-go as she subtly tried to influence Belvare against Rowan and Alena, but her efforts only amused him to no end. What Marianna didn’t realize in her shallow, arrogant, spoilt little mind was that unlike her, they were not disposable.