Ravyn's Nights - Book 1

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Chapter 44


It took months upon months of planning to come up with, and attain a satisfactory, and hopefully safe method of getting Sean and Claire set up in a new life back in the motherland. There were several communications over several nights between themselves and Haven, as well as themselves and their current Prince, Marcus. Finally, after making several of his own communications with Jamestown’s Prince Nicholas, as well as he and Haven’s own grandsire, so to speak, Marcus informed them that a plan had been formulated and hopefully perfected.

Haven and Marcus of course belonged to the same vampiric bloodline that Sean and Claire now both shared, as well. Marcus was embraced in 1458 by a vampire named Lemuel. Then, six years later, Haven himself was embraced by another fellow Toreador named Hollister, the very Kindred whom he had gone west to meet up with. Hollister and Lemuel had both, themselves, been embraced in the early 15th century by London’s current Kindred Prince, Griffyn.

Griffyn experienced his human birth in the year 1274, and only thirty years later he was brought into the world of the Kindred. In the years following his own embrace, he acquired much power, being one of the then very few Kindred that came into their own in 14th century England amidst all the wars and power struggles among all the varied human ‘rulers.’ All the while, the Kindred moved among them, stockpiling all of their own power under the cover of those dark endless nights. In actuality, the Kindred rule had remained since long before the human sovereigns started all their petty infighting as well as their grand wars, decimating each other over and over. All the while, the Kindred remained unmoved, out enduring all of the humans who came before, and after them.

Around the time the new world was first ‘discovered’ was when Griffyn came to rule the vast Kindred domain of London and nearly all of Great Britain itself, despite who the rulers supposedly were, according to the histories written by ignorant, unassuming humans, who were not even aware of what creatures had even more power than their so-called human kings.

Griffyn had been in power for so long that nearly every Prince in the new world, such as Hollister, Marcus, and Jamestown’s Nicholas, owed Griffyn more favors than they cared to admit to, or even count. After all, it was no easy task getting his own kind, the Kindred, to all their positions of power in the new world from his own London throne, yet Griffyn did so, and they all knew they owed him for it. Now, Sean and Claire both being direct descendants of not only Griffyn’s clan, but his very own bloodline, did give them a marked advantage in moving on to a new life there in his homeland. But of course, every favor that was done would have to be paid back, and Marcus made this blatantly clear to them.

Nicholas owed Griffyn, and Marcus called in that favor on behalf of his grandsire, and Nicholas had no choice but to agree to the terms. Nicholas would provide Sean and Claire with not only a ship that could brave the expanse of the Atlantic and get them safely to London soil with no ray of sun marring their pale skin, but he was also expected to get them a blood bound crew to further guard against nature’s wrath there in the open sea. By fulfilling these two demands to the letter, Nicholas will have repaid a great portion of his standing debt to Griffyn. However, now both Sean and Claire would find themselves indebted to Marcus as well. However, Marcus had his own favors to repay to Griffyn, so he left it to Griffyn to call in that debt once the couple joined the ranks of his own England territory’s Kindred population.

Now, Sean and Claire had this thoroughly explained to them by Marcus, and were left with going on their journey while just waiting to see exactly how Griffyn would ask the debt to be repaid once they arrived in their new home. Both were a little wary of what type of favors Griffyn would ask, having never met the man, or truly, any Kindred who was nearly as powerful as he supposedly was. They hedged a bit at Marcus’ own condescension and power, even whilst helping them, and Marcus was actually two vampiric generations younger and less powerful, and most importantly, less distanced from his own former humanity: A humanity that Griffyn hadn’t truly had in three long centuries. It had been three hundred long years since Griffyn had been human at all, and this was the man they now owed. Both tried not to imagine the worst, and just hope for the best, as difficult as that would be throughout such a long and dangerous journey at all.

~March, 1603~

The tedious, and at times more than a bit deadly, trip across the Atlantic took almost three entire months. Due to the horrendous living conditions aboard the ship, there was normally a very high casualty rate during any of these trans-Atlantic journeys. However, due to the vampiric blood running through the veins of the entire crew, a very necessary requirement for any journey wherein Kindred were to be transported across the open sea, the ship reached it’s London port with ninety percent of it’s crew still technically living, though hardly in top condition, by any means.

Upon their early evening arrival, Claire and Sean attempted to tend to those members of the crew who seemed to be the worst off, health-wise. Though, their attempts to try and see to those less fortunate crewmen were soon cut short as a lavish carriage moved forward from it’s place waiting several hundred paces inland from the port.

Claire and Sean both immediately turned their attention to the nearing sound of hoof beats. Mariana and Marisa, both also worn down considerably from the long journey, took a moment longer to notice the carriage’s approach before following their masters as they took their first steps onto dry land for the first time in nearly ninety days.

“Claire and Sean I presume?” the carriage’s driver greeted them as the horses came to a stop a few feet off from where the four of them now waited expectantly on the shore for their new lives to finally begin, hoping upon hope that this was truly the answer to end the nearly five years of darkness those lives had become.

Sean swallowed before answering, “Yes, and these are our two servants, Marisa and Mariana.” he responded hoarsely as he gestured to the young women who waited a few paces behind he and Claire.

The driver’s brow furrowed a moment as he only glanced briefly at the sisters before nodding to the servants who had accompanied him. The two handsome men, who appeared to be only a few years younger than the driver, then moved from the carriage to go and retrieve what few belongings their guests had brought along with them.

“Please, take seats inside, the servants will get your things, and then we will take you to the castle.”

“Castle?” Claire repeated in a whisper next to her husband’s ear, though despite her nervousness, her eyes seemed to light up slightly at the statement.

Sean allowed a more guarded, though gentle smile back down at her before matching her quiet tone, “it’s England. Doesn’t everyone have one?”

Claire just chuckled slightly at his statement, before happily taking his arm and moving toward the carriage doors while all four of the servants moved to secure the few belongings they had brought on the journey. Sean was still just as wary of this new life, and what exactly would be expected of them in order to repay the favor of such an opportunity, but Claire already seemed to be filled with hope about the whole of the situation, so he held his tongue about his own fears. After all, her losing that happiness that seemed to be slowly trying to break through the surface was an even greater fear of his.

Upon arriving at the castle, Sean and Claire were both left in an elaborate entrance hall with their servants and their belongings, while the servants who had made the trip from the shore to the castle with them went to announce their arrival. After several moments of looking around at their new surroundings in awe, another servant finally returned to gesture for them to follow him.

Claire smiled as she and Sean moved to do so, Mariana and Marisa taking deep breaths of their own as they also moved to gather the belongings and move after them, only to have their motions stopped by the young male servant raising his hand to stop them, “You two can wait here, and we’ll send someone to retrieve the belongings when the Prince makes his decision.”

“Decision?” Sean asked the servant worriedly, Claire biting her inner lip with a bit of the same worry as the sisters shrunk back from their previous motions with bowed heads.

“About what to do with you now that you’re here.” the servant answered with brevity as he gestured for them to follow him once more.

“But I thought that it was already decided that he would set us up with lives, here.” Sean pressed warily as he and Claire slowly moved to follow the young man with more than a bit or nervousness.

“Nothing is decided until Griffyn says the words himself. He will have to meet you before deciding anything. Now, let’s not keep him waiting.” the servant answered with what little sternness he could muster when speaking to any Kindred, having been bound to their kind for so long, already.

“Sean…” Claire whispered worriedly as Sean just squeezed her hand reassuringly before the two continued moving after the servant through even more exquisitely decorated halls on the way to the main hall where they would finally be introduced at last to the man who was the eldest member of their bloodline, and very well one of the eldest living members of their entire clan, as well.

Once they finally did arrive in that main hall, neither could help being nearly frozen in place by the very presence that emanated from their new leader, even before seeing how beautiful he was. After all, a sort of flawless beauty was almost a guarantee when it came to any member of their Toreador clan.

Griffyn dressed at the height of the day’s fashion of course, with chin-length brown locks and a deep, deep hazel to his eyes. He only looked to be a very young man of barely thirty years of age, despite having already been a third of the way into his fourth century on this planet in actuality.

Once they were guided to Griffyn’s throne-room of sorts, the servant who led them into the room immediately moved to a place with the myriad of other blood-bound servants who were stationed at the sides of the huge room just awaiting their next task. Sean and Claire both couldn’t help the urge to bow their heads in reverence to him, if for no other reason than the very effect that he had on all those around him, even without having a bond to him, themselves.

Griffyn took several painfully long, silent moments to look over them both, almost as though inspecting each of them for usefulness before even contemplating gracing them with his words. After dragging out his silence so long as to be assured that they were both intimidated even further, he finally let out an emotionless sigh before speaking at all. First, he addressed his words to Sean.

“So, Hollister’s whelp made you?”

Sean swallowed hard again before moving his eyes up to glance Griffyn’s way at last, “Hollister, he is Haven’s sire, yes?” he managed to ask, though in a small voice.

“It would be so refreshing if any of you actually bothered to study your own family tree.” Griffyn retorted with a condescending shake of his head as he glanced around the room tiresomely before returning his cool gaze to Sean.

Sean steeled himself to respond once more, “Yes, Haven is my sire.” he managed in an only slightly steadier tone.

“Why?” was Griffyn’s only response.

“Why?” Sean repeated, a bit thrown.

“Why did Haven make you, especially without permission from his Prince?” Griffyn asked with impatience to his firm tone.

Sean swallowed shakily again, Claire not able to even raise her own eyes to follow the conversation, her fear of losing this new life before she even got it, beginning to take hold. Sean then forced his answer, “My father was Haven’s servant. He killed himself, leaving Haven to take care of my half-sister. Years later, I found Haven, and my sister. I tried to save her from being violated, and her attacker murdered me. She begged Haven to save me, and he did.” Sean summarized, attempting to keep his voice steady despite the story he relayed once more.

Griffyn sighed once more before continuing in the same emotionless tone, “And why did you make her, again, without permission?” he asked roughly as his eyes moved back to Claire.

Sean steeled himself once more before speaking, “She is my wife. When she found out what I became, neither of us could bear going on without each other, so I embraced her…before I ever knew that there even was a rule about gaining permission first. It was only a week after my own embrace.” he added more quietly.

Griffyn scoffed with another shake of his head, “A week into your new life and you do that? No wonder the two of you could barely survive on your own.” he returned with a slight growl, causing Sean to look down as well, not sure what response of his own he could possibly offer.

Before Griffyn could add any further scolding, another man, nearly as handsome as Griffyn, himself, entered the room only to be distracted by the two new arrivals that now had an audience with the Prince.

“What is it, Aidan?” Griffyn turned his attention to the young man who had shoulder-length black curls and eyes the same deep hazel as Griffyn’s own.

Aidan took more than a moment to pull his eyes away from Sean and Claire, or more specifically, Claire, before managing a response, “I didn’t realize they had arrived tonight.”

“The reason you’re here, tonight?” Griffyn repeated more firmly.

Aidan once more pulled his eyes away from Claire to manage an answer, “I have news from court.” he offered, the phrasing of which could only mean the court he referred to was none other than the one belonging to England’s own royal family, or at least the human royalty who thought themselves to be in control of Britain.

“How is the lovely daughter of Miss Boleyn these days?” Griffyn asked, his tone proving he couldn't care less about the actual answer to his question, as he knew that Elizabeth and all those before and after her were nothing more than figureheads when it came to the true power the Kindred rulers, including himself, had.

“Still a virgin.” Aidan scoffed with a smirk.

“Well her mother was a bit of a whore, the poor girl has a reputation to live down.” Griffyn returned with a smirk of his own before quickly continuing, “So what is your news?”

“Not good I’m afraid.” Aidan returned with a slight sigh, his eyes still continuously moving back to Claire, who listened to the conversation with even more awe, inspired by the way the two spoke of the royal family as if they were everyday acquaintances, and unloved ones, at that.

“Meaning?” Griffyn returned with his continued impatience.

“I’m afraid Paul is no longer at court.” Aidan answered with a slight look down, knowing Griffyn would not be happy with the news.

“I didn’t tell him to leave court.” Griffyn responded angrily, “Bring him to me.”

“I’m afraid I can’t.” Aidan returned more quietly.

“Excuse me?” Griffyn responded in a near growl.

“He’s dead, I’m afraid.” Aidan managed.

“I assume you mean more dead than he was when I first sent him to court?” Griffyn sighed in annoyance once more.

“He was sent to accompany some noblemen on a trip as requested by the queen, and he couldn’t find shelter in time for the sunrise.” Aidan explained with his own sigh.

“Idiot.” Griffyn muttered as he thought on this new information. After another moment he finally turned his eyes back to Sean, “You’re a musician, aren’t you?”

Sean was thrown once again by that question, “I try to be, when I can. It’s more difficult now, of course.” he added more quietly.

“Well, I just got word that the queen’s current court minstrel had a bit of a tragic accident this morning.” he scoffed again at the news, causing Sean and Claire to both swallow hard as Griffyn continued, “So, apparently, I have found something to do with you, after all.”

“You want me to perform, for the royal court?” Sean repeated nervously as Claire also looked up with a bit of shock at the suggestion.

“I’m appointing you to the royal court, or rather, the queen’s nephew is, isn’t that right, Aidan?” he told the other man pointedly.

“Of course, I’ll let her know, right away.” Aidan agreed easily.

“You’re her nephew?” Claire finally spoke up, her eyes widening a bit as she looked over at Aidan once more, after having spent most of the conversation trying to avoid looking his way, as he himself could not seem to take his eyes off of her.

“How do you think Griffyn always knows exactly what the royal family is up to?” Aidan answered her with a slight grin at allowing her to know exactly what his role was, and why he held that role, as well.

“You want me to hold that position, when you’ve never even heard me play…” Sean interjected, though quietly.

“I need a member of my clan at court. And being a Toreador that already makes you more talented than any merely human artist could ever be.” Griffyn answered simply, his words almost passing for a compliment, had they not been spoken in the same condescending manner he nearly always spoke with.

Sean swallowed again before finally speaking up once he looked over at where Claire had cast her eyes downwards worriedly once more, “And Claire, she can come to court with me?”

Griffyn scoffed again, “The queen needs a minstrel, not a minstrel and his wife.” he stated simply.

“But we were led to believe we’d be together.” Sean argued, though weakly, as another wave of fear easily overtook Claire.

“One thing you’re going to have to learn is that if you don’t hear it from me, then you haven’t heard the final word on the matter. And, before you speak up again,” he began coolly, “you’d do well to be thankful for any opportunity at all, without adding your own demands to the package. You’re lucky to be getting any chance at all, and you don’t have the bargaining power to even think about turning down the offer, because you won’t get another.” he told him with finality, causing Sean and Claire to both swallow hard as they thought on his words.

“May I make one suggestion?” Aidan interjected cautiously a moment later.

“This should be interesting.” Griffyn smirked as he looked back at Aidan.

Then Aidan took a step closer to Claire as he looked her up and down once more before speaking breathily to her, “You want to be able to go to court with your husband, yes?”

Claire swallowed uncomfortably at the way his eyes moved over her, causing more than a bit of discomfort in Sean too, but forced an answer to her lips, “Yes, I’ll always want to be with him.”

“There may be one position I could find for someone such as you to fill.” Aidan told her with a slightly devious smirk and a lick of his lips next to her cheek.

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