Chapter 57 - Gathering
Catherine heard the change of sound that told her the carriage wheels were now on the cobbled stone path that led to the secluded castle keep of DunHaven. It belonged to the vampire council and was used in times of trouble to hold meetings and parties.
It was one of the most foreboding castles in the land. It was perched on a wide plateau upon the cliffs. Its high guard towers and gray walls, iron-studded gates, and treacherous surrounds all made it almost impossible to lay siege to the castle. It was so far away from most of the kingdom that it was very rarely used.
Most great decisions were made here. The crowning of kings, the death of traitors, the rules of the vampire and human alliance... It was a sacred place and ancient.
When the carriage entered through the archway, it was as if it was darker, cooler on the inside and age lay heavily upon the great stone walls.
Even a stranger could feel the hallowed air, but the austerity of the place could also tell you that it was more than a place. It had a presence of its own in some indefinable way.
The carriage came to a standstill, and she covered her hair with the cowl of her cloak. The door was opened by a liveried servant, and Catherine climbed down to the cobbled earth to be met by a man dressed just like her.
His face was also hidden by shadows, and they formally greeted each other with a low bow. Catherine followed him inside.
She accompanied him to a great room where there were many men, vampire and human alike. She lifted the cowl back to reveal her face. Catherine appreciated that this night would decide the flow of the war.
Aldrich walked over to her and handed her a glass of wine. Their eyes met briefly, and he nodded at her. She understood his message, they were ready.
Dillon made his way to her side, and he kissed her gently on her lips before he took her arm and led her further into the room.
Despite all the people there, a weighty silence lay across the assembled guests as if they were all waiting for something...
“Friends, allies, newcomers, I am Aldrich and tonight, we will decide the fates of our people,” he raised his glass, and the room burst into chaos.
Catherine briefly turned to Dillon, and as he stepped closer to her, Priest appeared by his side. Her brother briefly touched her shoulder. Within seconds she was surrounded by her men, and despite all that was about to happen, she didn’t feel afraid.
A hand slipped into hers, and Gillian leaned into her other shoulder as if she sought comfort. Catherine briefly squeezed Gillian’s hand in return.