Blood and War

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Chapter 71 - Insurrection

There was an audible gasp as the people in the room realized that the thing on the ground was a head and not just any head, but the head of Aldrich.

His seal ring was forced into his eye socket, while he must still have been alive and it was the reason his head did not turn to ash.

His tongue was cut from his mouth, and all that kept the room full of men from storming was the crossbows pointed at them by half a dozen assailants.

“Sorry to disappoint you sister,” Priest mocked as he bowed in pretense and Catherine’s anger became even greater as she grasped that he had played her like a violin. Everything out of his mouth was designed to draw her into his lies.

Gillian crept against her side, tears fell down her cheeks, and Catherine’s arm automatically reached out to comfort the girl, despite her own heart tearing. Aldrich was a father, a friend and a man of honor, he didn’t deserve this.

“Where is our illustrious father, he should see this?” Priest’s voice dripped with sarcasm and hatred.

Hellenic was no match for this Halfling in evil intentions or lying. Catherine had believed every word Priest said.

She never doubted him. She needed someone of her own, and he was there, as planned. The Drake stepped forward, and Priest eyed him.

“Well, Father, so we finally meet,” Priest mock bowed again and his men snickered.

“I guess you have a purpose?” The Drake demanded coldly. He was fully in control of himself and his loathing.

He was the commander of the Griffen empire, the highest ranking vampire in the room and even though he was furious, he was not cowed.

“You’re a smart man, why don’t you tell me?” Priest challenged.

“You are the traitor in our midst,” the Drake declared quietly, and Priest laughed into the silence.

“Only a traitor? You lack imagination Father. I am not only the traitor in your midst, but I am also the Sandqvist, I am the Eastern King. I killed old Ruvic, his sons and all of his daughters with my own hands, almost twenty years ago.

Aldrich, bless his heart, didn’t mind when I went walkabout for months, even years and I always came back, eventually. I planned all of this. I orchestrated all of this...” Priest’s hand gesture at the gathered crowd was almost elegant in its mockery of Aldrich.

“I made Hellenic into my sister’s little downfall. Although I thought you would kill her and get it over with, Father.

After all, you thought she turned against you. That she slept with your enemy and told him your secrets, poor Duvic. Clueless bastard, so jealous of you and so useless.

Duvic would never have attacked you outright, he doesn’t have the guts. It was Hellenic who was going to attack you. Your adopted, prodigal son, but you ruined his plans a little by finding his weapons cache and again when you gave away your daughter.

With her alive, he could not be your rightful heir either, and he felt unmanned. She shunned him,” Priest laughed again, and the sound was chilling as death itself.

“Hellenic?” He called, and the vampire strutted into the room as if he owned the place.

Hellenic’s gaze fixed immediately on Catherine as if she were a piece of meat. He came to a standstill beside Priest and Priest casually gripped his shoulder.

Catherine felt her insides churn with hatred and disgust, but it was nothing compared to what she felt for Priest.

All she could see and think was that he killed Aldrich. Anger was a red haze in her mind, and the sorrow she felt was as dark as the sorrow she felt the day Dillon died.

All that kept her sane was Dillon’s touch. He may not be the same, but he was still Dillon. Her body and soul recognized that, and her vampire was slightly distracted with its mate so close.

“Your ambitions, unfortunately, rivaled your planning skills, my dear Hellenic,” one moment the blond vampire was arrogantly standing and the next he gripped his slit throat as Priest casually wiped the blade clean on his own cloak.

“You purebloods are never much use,” Priest commented. There were hisses and growls of protest all around the room.

“Your whore Regina, Father, she was just as ambitious, but at least she saved the day. She saved Hellenic from betraying himself. She, sadly, exceeded herself when she married you. She got less... keen to divulge your secrets and lose her life in the lap of luxury.

My men had fun reminding her that she was just a whore. She had grown gutsy. She fought for her life like an alley cat, and she died screaming your name, but you weren’t there.

You were too busy making little newborn vampires. Thought you could buy your daughter’s love?” Priest mocked, and if Garon and Darcon hadn’t stepped in front of the Drake, he would have attacked Priest. Catherine saw the sorrow and terrible anger in his eyes, and she was shocked that he really loved Regina.

“Such loyalty, pity that it’s all for naught,” Priest started to turn away. “Fools,” he scoffed as he made to leave. “No survivors,” he ordered his men, but even as Priest spoke, the side of the tent closest to the embankment, exploded open and everything happened at once.

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