Part 1 - The Mark of Kane
Note: This chapter has been rewritten. Characters and events may not line up with the other chapters. (All chapters are being rewritten and the entire story is being edited before I update with new chapters.
A picture says a thousand words, a small snippet of a memory frozen in time. For others to one day come across and ponder over. To question what could be happening in that small moment, and who those pictured were. Some who ponder imagine a valiant and brave warrior or a fierce and beautiful queen, capable of ruling on her without the aid of a king. Few ever realize something so small could one day be far more relevant than it was at first glance, or far more important in years to come. Just like the blood contracts created by Kane, the second vampire king, almost two decades prior. The time has come for the debt to be paid.
In the English Countryside, a once thriving Tudor palace was alive with life once more. From the forgettable mirror leaning against the wall in the furthest corner filled with shadows, two dark-haired warriors appeared from the watery glass. As they did so, their attire changed, their armor became modern days clothes and jackets, and their polished swords become phones and keys. The pair soon made their way to the dusty wooden sideboard near the creaky door, both reaching out for the paper files scattered across the forgotten piece of furniture. Lucas, the older of the two, was quick to notice only six files were present. The dust where the seventh should be had recently been disturbed.
“Finnick” spoke the younger of the two, flicking his shoulder-length hair from his pale eyes, seeing the confusion to pass over his elder brother’s features. “Finnick likely has the missing file. Wyatt sent here days ago” informed Lucian, awkwardly scratching his lightly growing beard, a shadow of a smirk on his lips to think their youngest and quick-tempered brother had been sent ahead. No doubt to scoat and fetch the one Wyatt had described as fierce.
“I’m not sure if I should be thrilled Finnick is already here, or terrified about the chaos he’s causing” remarked Lucas, running a hand through his short brunette locks, he knew if Daryl was there, a joke or two would have been cracked by now. Probably some comment about Finnick finally meeting his match, at least outside the mermaid woman who’d been obsessed with him, since their meeting the previous century. “I’ve got Isolde, Alina, and Beth” commented the older of the brothers, already he dreaded what was to come with Isolde. Brandon had written she was wealthy and entitled, no doubt she would be difficult to deal with, although she seemed a perfect match for Alexander, the first Prince of Grisha.
“Mercedes, Maggie, and Aurelia are the three beautiful ladies to collect” voiced Lucian, quickly noticing that whoever had sent them to retrieve the woman, had also ensured both they and Finnick would also be meeting the woman their mother had chosen for them, so long ago. A sad twinkle fleetingly appeared in Lucian’s pale eyes, despite their mother’s death being so long ago, he still missed her, he missed her love and gentleness. The dark-haired Prince often found himself wishing she hadn’t died, if only so Kane their father could return to his old self. Even when the peaceful king hadn’t spoken a word of it, those closest to him and even some of the druid heirs could see his heart was still broken. Decidit’s death did little in the way of comfort but settled their father’s need for revenge.
“Mother would be proud” whispered Lucas, knowing deep down she was there somewhere watching over her boys and daughter. “Do you think it’s true, what father and council whisper about?” asked the older of the two brothers, refusing any sort of eye contact with Lucian, instead in focus turned to the three women he’d be retrieving. Noticing how Alina’s smile seemed to brighten his mood a little bit, the opposite of what Isolde’s scowl did.
“One of the seven being the Midnight Star?” questioned Lucian, recalling he often found himself conflicted on the matter, the council tried so very hard to keep secret. “I believe it is, Wyatt is rarely wrong, but I don’t think they’re afraid of the possible return of the druids, more of the war said Midnight Star is supposed to bring with her. Grisha has yet to heal from the last one. Another war will only add to the suffering” wisely spoke the younger prince, once again rubbing his beard, in a similar way to Wyatt.
“At least Hunter will get his best friend back” commented Lucas, recalling their younger prideful brother had been somewhat lost since the Druids had fallen into the long sleep. Although the sixth prince had accepted it had to happen, it didn’t make losing his closest friend, Malakai any easier. “Anyway, these ladies won’t collect themselves, plus I want to keep an eye on Finnick” added the elder prince, tucking the small paper files into a bag he retrieved from one of the closets. Before gently taking hold of Lucian’s shoulders and spinning him around to face the door to the foyer. A brotherly chuckle escaped from the younger prince, as he was all but marched toward the front entrance. The act reminds him of when he used to do a similar thing to Credence when they were just boys.
Elsewhere in a small town set on the Welsh borders, a middle-aged man balanced carefully on a dining chair, as he hung glittery birthday banners and decorations. A small smile graced his lips, as he thought of celebrating his only child’s twenty-first birthday. He winced a little, upon another pain shooting through his right arm. The mark on his forearm was all but glowing now as it burnt. Despite knowing what it meant, he still dreaded it, even more so upon knowing his precious daughter would go through so much stress.
“Morning papa” called the soft voice of Valentine’s only daughter, Echo. Valentine wasted little time in wishing her a happy birthday, as he pushed the pain and fear of what was to come, to the side and continued to hang the last birthday banner. Before steadily making his way down from the dining chair, and making his way over to the blue eyes young woman. His only wish would be for his late wife, Isabelle, to be there with them, but alas he knew it was impossible, as she had been killed in a devastating car accident seventeen long years prior. “You’re tattoo looks different” commented the midnight-haired beauty, something about the old tattoo giving her an uneasy feeling.
“I recently had it redone” spoke Valentine, as if to excuse why the once ordinary-looking mark, was practically glowing. His dark eyes screamed his words weren’t true, but at the same time, Valentine found himself hoping, his Echo wouldn’t question it. If only to make what was to come easier on her. “Anyway, your present’ commented the single father, reaching for the silver-wrapped present on the kitchen table, and handing the box over to the birthday girl. A small sheepish grin appeared on his lips, as she carefully opened it. Her eyes lit up like lights on a Christmas tree, to see the studded leather jacket she’d been saving, for months. “Try it on” chuckled Valentine, encouraging her to wear the jacket to work, knowing her best friend Aurelia, would have a comment or two to say about it.
“Are we still on for tomorrow?” asked Echo, her voice filled with happiness, as she put the black leather jacket on, running her hands over the studs mere seconds later. Her smile only grew when her attention returned to her favorite person, her father. Valentine, looked back at her a little confused, trying to rack his memory for the plans discussed and made sometime prior. He’d been so preoccupied with what was coming, he’d completely forgotten about the birthday dinner plans. “Dinner reservations with Aurelia and her mom” chuckled Echo, knowing her father had a lot on his mind lately, a project at work was due in a few days, plus he always said she was growing up too fast. And for the first time, since her mother had died, he was trying his hand at dating again. This time in the form of Evelyn Devitt, Aurelia, her best friend’s mother.
“It’s on my calendar, but for now shoo, you’ll be late for work” laughed Valentine, kissing Echo’s cheek before sending her on her way. The single father knew she’d walk to work. There was no denying his midnight-haired princess, was afraid of car travel. She had been since the car accident that had taken her mother from her when she was just four years old. Echo soon kissed her papa’s cheek before leaving, noticing the rain clouds hanging above, but deciding to take the risk and not take her rain jacket. If need be she’d run for cover.
The moment Echo stepped out onto the quiet street, she was instantly hit with the feeling of being watched, the feeling of eyes on her but despite her best efforts, she couldn’t see anyone there. She attempted to ignore it, opting instead to check her phone while walking down the street, a small smile reappearing upon seeing birthday messages from her maternal grandparents and a few old-school friends. Aurelia’s message was filled with jokes and emojis as was the norm for her.
“Sorry” quickly mumbled Echo, upon regaining her sense of stability and realizing she was not only sitting on the concrete pavement but had crashed into someone. The items once stashed away in her bag and her phone had scattered around her, with the man she’d crashed into, a few feet before her, seemingly surprised and slightly dazed. Almost as if he too hadn’t been looking where he was going. “I wasn’t looking where I was going. Are you okay?” asked the birthday girl, seemingly forgetting about the things scattered around her, instead her attention on the handsome man she’d bowled over.
“It was my fault” responded the stranger, his words seemingly trailing off the moment his pale eyes landed on her, as if it suddenly hit him who’d be walked into, in his hurry to get somewhere. “I’m Finnick, you’re Echo right, Valentine Black’s daughter?” commented Finnick, awkwardly moving the shorter pieces of hair framing his face, out of his eyes. Without a second thought, Finnick reached to take her hands, pulling her to her feet, before helping her gather her scattered things, mentally kicking himself while doing so. The moment everything was safely stashed back in the black shoulder bag, Finnick and Echo looked at each other. Finnick with regret swimming in his pale eyes, whereas Echo with confusion, as she tried to decipher where or if she’d come across the stranger before.
“Happy Birthday” muttered Finnick, before making a quick exit, all but running around the nearest corner, regardless of where it led. Echo on the other hand just stood there, seemingly lost in thought. So many questions swimming through her mind, she hadn’t noticed the stray white husky stop next to her, nudging as if for fuss. With a small smile, Echo gently patted the husky’s head, noticing the black studded collar it war, the tag on it revealing its name to be Baron.
“Who do you belong to?” asked Echo, as if forgetting the fluffy white husky couldn’t answer it. Instead, she looked around, for anyone who could be the dog’s owner, not seeing anyone at all. The street was empty, with only a few passing cars and the bus going across the top of the road. “Alright then Baron, you are coming with me until we find your owner” voiced the birthday girl, noticing the husky followed her without any encouragement. What appeared to be a grin as his tongue hung out. Echo took note, whoever the dog belonged to, it was very well trained and didn’t seem all that bothered by others passing by. Even when she asked if he belonged to those who passed by.
“Woah, where’d you get this cute fellow from?” asked Aurelia, the moment her best friend Echo entered the bar/restaurant both worked at. Her blonde hair was in the normal beach curls, this time decorated with a flowery hair clip. Echo, on the other hand, turned her attention to the husky, to have followed her, a small smile appearing on her lips to see how relaxed and unbothered he appeared to be. Even his determination to stay at her side.
“His name’s Baron and he followed me. Can’t seem to find his owner” quickly explained the midnight-haired woman, as she walked towards the employee-only area. She’d tried thinking of something to say to her boss when it come to Baron, but nothing came to mind. Her mind was rendered blank the moment Aliyah her boss come into view, the often stressed middle-aged woman, seemed cheery that day, a rare smile on her lips, as she all but skipped down the halls.
“Happy birthday dear” spoke Aliyah, patting Echo on the shoulder, her normal greeting for any employee who worked on their birthday. Aliyah’s smile faltered slightly upon seeing Baron but soon flashed back to normal. “This one can stay with you if he behaves and doesn’t cause trouble” commented the brunette manager, before she walked away with a bounce in her step, leaving Echo and several other staff members confused.
“Guess you’re stuck with me” whispered Echo, before heading towards the locker room, quickly putting her things away before clocking in, ensuring Baron was still with her as she entered the bar area. Only she and Aurelia were scheduled to work it for the next eight hours, with the exception of their breaks, in which temporary cover had been found.
“She let Baron be out here” commented Aurelia, as if surprised by the sudden mood change Aliyah was displaying. Normally the middle-aged brunette was stressed, grumpy, and ready to tear someone’s head off at a moment’s notice. But today was different, she’d let anything pass. “My birthday she almost ripped the customers apart, and wouldn’t allow a cake. You, there’s cake, she’s happy and you get to keep Baron with you. I’m so jealous” joked the blonde beauty, petting the relaxed husky, as he settled near the end of the bar, ensuring no unwanted guests could get behind the counter. Ensuring the shift on bar duty went as smoothly as possible.