The Imperial's Demise

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Chapter Five

Curt silence rang throughout the room like a church ball dangling between the confined space, pounding across the walls until it knocked them all down. The questions instilled themselves into every particle of air, the confusion searing wrinkles between brows. Disorientation was paralyzing, and no one could see through it, let alone process it. Process what in the name of heavens was going.

But neither Dominic nor Valentine seemed to be having an issue of the sorts.

They seemed to be entranced in an unspoken opposition, sizing one another up. Who was making what move first. They were in a bubble of their own, one that was soon to stretch, expand, and take over the room until it imploded.

Someone had to relent, and Dominic appeared to be the one to be the first to, leaning back in his chair and settling as to get comfortable.

“Is any of you kind enough to explain what in the name of the Seven Saints is going?” Damien pipes in, unable to stifle in the stupefaction any longer.

With a languid wave of the hand, Dominic dismisses the other imperial’s trouble, focusing in on the human leader instead, leaning back, hands relaxed on both arms of his chair. “I don’t believe I’m in favor with the Saints for my disbelief and what not,” then to Valentine, he sweeps the air theatrically, “But by all means, the floor is yours.”

Valentine doesn’t blink. Doesn’t fume. Not a muscle in her face twitches by his taunting. Instead, she levels Dominic with a thoughtful glance before switching over to Damien and offering him the most cordial of smiles.

“It’s not of importance to dwell about. Moving on to greater matters, then.”

That seemed to ease all the heads in the room, the tension going out like a fizzed candle, shoulders sagging all around.

Dominic couldn’t wait for the part that gets interesting. Sure enough, her entrance had been one he did not expect, which spoke volumes, but it is exactly what she says in this room that would truly show him what he was up against.

He watches her, then watches all the heads around the table, observing the complete trance she holds them in, until it’s broken by her direct gaze to him.

“In fact, I am actually quite pleased with your presence amongst us, third imperial.”

That has some necks snapping towards her.

Gradually, she starts rounding the curves of the table, passing by imperials until she’s modestly close enough to the intended imperial without being directly next to him.

“I suppose they hadn’t let you in on the secret of fencing if they’d let you fence your way into a massacre this far? Could be the only explanation, right?” She locked eyes with him then, a gaze unwavering and a smirk in their depth. She had the look on her face like it was an absolute delight to meet him, and even more of a delight to hand him the metaphorical gun that he shot his own foot with when he gave her that welcoming gift of a massacre.

“I await the possible earth shattering knowledge you are about to impart on me.” He returns her gaze lazily from under thick lashes as he rests his cocked head onto a languid, propped fist.

She only smiles, then whispers, conspiratorial, “You don’t actually stab your opponents to win, mighty fearless one.” She uses the title he praised himself in their private encounter against him.

A smile strains against a twitch of his jaw in a tug of war. Which should he be feeling now, mirth that she was twisting his actions around, or annoyance of such an arrangement. How dare a benign thing like her downplay his brilliance and actions in front of other worthless beings.

He couldn’t tell which was he spilling precariously into, but the sting of the thrill of a challenge dizzied him most above all. He was going to bite.

Her bait that is.

“Aha, I see. That should make plenty sense, why one would strangely switch my fencing blade for a real one, then have me slip everytime and slice throats as they groan out confessions of being spies of your own. Wouldn’t you like to impart anything upon this matter as well?”

“No, nothing of spies but something about you being fed expired blood. Could be a cause to all the conspiracies you’re swimming in right now. ”

The entire room stilled. Breaths were held, fingers froze, and a sharp wind of shock bristled through the room, carrying around what everyone had thought.

This encounter was teetering close to a dangerous zone, one where weapons could be drawn, and blood could be spilled. At least with the judgement of Dominic’s demeanor put in mind.

His face had darkened, features drawn tight. He was nothing of lazy smirks, and everything of icy focus and frost features. The amusement had been blown out of the room.

“Nothing to say? Heavens, I hadn’t meant to strike a nerve.” She blinks innocently at him, a shallow shell of mocking apology coloring her face.

Then, as if she hadn’t just stared death in the face, she turns to the rest of the imperials. For a moment, they’d forgotten they were filling in the room as well.

“Which brings me to another dilemma--well, not to me, but definitely to you it’s one.”

“Must you speak in riddles. What are you going on about?” Anastasia snaps, wanting to get this ordeal over with before Dominic’s feathers are ruffled to the dangerous point of no return.

“Patience, love. I was getting to it before you graciously interrupted me.” A sickening smile of sweetness loops Valentine’s crimson lips. Then, she continues normally to the room, all backhanded insults and deference-dipped smiles.

“As per requested, I will humble my words further and explain in simple words, for the simple minds,” she dips her head graciously in Anastasia’s way. “It is only a wonder I had, that if your source of feed is depleted, as a result of an imperial’s mishap with a sword, what are the rest of you to do? How shall you feed?”

Glances exchange between the imperials flanking both sides of the meeting table. Across one another, they exchange silent worries. Sorely, she had brought up a good point, one they all unanimously turned to Dominic to offer an answer to. One he didn’t want to offer any answers to. He was sensing her toy of the roles, switching of the tables and his chess move into something bigger than what the dilemma she’s raising questions against, this instant.

As Dominic’s awaited response is voiced in nothing, Damien rises to the plate, questioning the human’s motives. “Am I to believe you so graciously worry for us?”

From the commence of their meeting to this moment, only now had Dominic witnessed sternness from the leader as she spewed her words.

“Quite the contrary, Damien. I worry for my people, and because of the resulting present shortage of blood sources, sooner or later, you’ll ask me for some. I am merely advancing the process, is all.”

“You suggest a bargai--”, Damien starts, only for Dominic to steal the reigns of the horse directing this conversation, soon to be a proposition,

“Pardon, but it seems to me you’re the one to ask us something.” Dominic rises from his languid position in his seat, spine and shoulders straightened as a predator readying his pounce on a prey. Attention snagged, her whole body spins to center toward him, and only him.

“I’ll repeat myself once more. I am merely speeding up what we all know is bound to happen, whether it be sooner or later. I am choosing the former.”

His lips thin into sharp knives, a distant resemblance of a wide smile.

“Bold of you to assume we’ll be asking anything of you.”

She quirks a perfect brow, “That is how we do it in recent decades, yes. We bargain and be civil. Not quite certain you are familiar with anything different from barbaric bloodshed.”

“Only if it streams right into my mouth, then yes.” He smirks, glad to be swiping some of her arrogance away. She rolls her eyes, turning to resume her words with Damien, but Dominic once more, interrupts.

“You assume we’ll entertain you with something. Offer you a bargain. Beg, grovel, and plead on knees for our blood source.”

Then he’s standing up, all 6 feet looming power and dark threat. He only stands, but the cutting edge of his voice has everyone else straightening in their seats.

“Once upon a time, they might have. They still might very well do. You have some things dangling over their heads that have them cowering to every bid and word of yours.”

Then, he truly smiles. Every shine of his glamorous white teeth promising menace and demise.

That is no longer, I fear. If I sit at the head, the other end grovels. Not the other way around.”

She blinks at him, eyebrows raised, her lips set into a tight thin line. “Does rationing remaining servant blood sound as brilliant a plan to the rest of the council?”

Uneasiness snakes around the ancient beings, slimy and sneaky as it wraps around tightly coiled bodies. No one dares to twitch, much less pass a gaze to the third imperial.

“They could all object. Wouldn’t rest your case. I’m only a reason away from sending all their heads flying anyways. Then you’d be left, once again, with me. Is it simple enough now? For your simple mind?” He asks in all innocence, while she gazes in dark distaste.

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