Ravyn's Nights - Book 1

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Chapter 45

Neither Sean nor Claire had much in the way of time to respond to Aidan’s words before one of Griffyn’s servants was directed to lead Claire to their quarters there for the night while Aidan moved his attention back to Sean, for the moment.

“Walk with me, won’t you?” Aidan spoke to Sean in a manner that implied there was nothing about his words to Claire that Sean needed to concern himself with. Though, it was obvious that he and Claire both were more than apprehensive about his previous statements to her, as well as the whole of these lives they were now supposedly being offered.

Sean attempted to hold his tongue as he glanced back once more at where Griffyn left the room through one entrance while Claire was led out by another servant through a different doorway. After a few more moments of warily following Aidan through the stone halls of the huge home, they finally stopped in an indoor garden of sorts where Aidan finally turned back to the man who appeared to be less than a decade older than him. Of course, age was almost an impossible thing to be assured of in a world filled with the Kindred and their blood-bound servants.

“So, you’re not a vampire.” Sean spoke up before Aidan could, though it was more of a statement than a question.

“I thought you all preferred the term Kindred.” Aidan allowed a slight smirk.

“You know of us though, and seem to do Griffyn’s bidding, despite your own apparent heritage, so you must be his gh--servant.” Sean continued, forcing himself to check his own words.

“Seems to me you would have more questions about what’s expected of your new role, rather than worrying about mine.” Aidan returned in the same unreadable tone.

“Well, it sounds as though you and I are both meant to be some sort of informants or such for the Prince, but that must mean then, that we actually would still have somewhat separate purposes, I’d assume.” Sean continued, forcing his tone to match the indifference in Aidan’s.

“Well, you do apparently catch on quickly. Always useful.” Aidan returned, allowing a wry smile before continuing, “I am the Prince’s actual informant, as you guessed. You are simply there to take care of any problems I deem worthy of the very specific ‘skill set’ possessed by your kind.” he stated simply, his tone implying there should not be any further information needed.

Sean narrowed his eyes a moment at Aidan’s words, “So, considering my ‘skill set,’” he began, repeating Aidan’s own words, “isn’t it just a bit odd that I should be expected to take any sort of directives from a ghoul?” Sean couldn’t help pointing out the obvious truth that he could easily dominate the man, himself.

Aidan just allowed an unconcerned chuckle of sorts, “I am human royalty, which means I will be easily missed if you were to ever ponder a coup of any sort. Though being a colonist of the new world, and not even a human, I’m sure that means nothing to you as of yet, so allow me to point out one other fact.” he began, his tone hardening slightly, “I am the favorite ‘ghoul’ of your 330 year old grandsire and Prince, and he is well aware that the only vampires who will be interacting with me on a nightly basis are you and your lovely wife. So, simply put, if you attempt to use any of those ‘skills’ on me, or try to alter my mind in any way, it will be more than obvious to your Prince exactly who was responsible for such an act. Remembering that may drastically increase your life expectancy here on English soil.” he added with finality.

Sean narrowed his eyes at Aidan’s words once more, easily remembering how even younger and less powerful Kindred Princes replaced their ghouls as easily as one replaced their day’s clothing, and how little they actually seemed to care for any of their servants. Sean hid his smirk at Aidan’s misplaced belief in his own importance before finally responding, “I only came here to allow Claire to at least have the chance at a better life, away from the new world, so I will take the position offered by Griffyn, for the moment. But you should be aware of one thing, yourself.” he began more coolly.

“And what would that be?” Aidan returned with another wry smirk.

That was when Sean’s own supernatural allure allowed him to easily gain eye contact. Then, regardless of Aidan’s previous warning, he spoke in that same forceful, measured tone that Haven had used on him all those years ago, “If you do anything to hurt Claire, I will make you pay for that hurt, regardless of any protection you think you have from the Prince. Your punishment would still come to you more quickly than any that I might ever receive for giving you your own.”

When Sean finally made his way to the sleeping quarters they would share in Griffyn’s home that night, he found Claire sitting at the vanity distractedly running her brush through those beautiful waist-length locks.

“So, were you told anything more since I spoke with Aidan?” he greeted her softly, closing the heavy door behind him before moving closer to her.

“Just that Mariana and Marisa won’t be coming to court with us either. They’ll be staying here, assuming Griffyn can find some use for them aside from the dozens of servants he already has.” she answered with a sigh as Sean reached her seat, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Sean sighed at that information as well before adding, “I suppose there will already be plenty of other servants at court anyway.”

“Not like our own though.” Claire returned quietly.

“It shouldn’t be too hard to replace them. The first few days may be difficult though, until we can fully establish any new bonds.”

“So we’re supposed to be servants, with servants?” Claire scoffed quietly, “I’m sure that will go over well at court.”

“Well, I’m thinking that we can still find a few close to us to bind, even without anyone, including them, knowing that they are bound.” Sean then thought on the rest of her statement, “And you were told then, what your role is actually to be at court?” he asked, forcing hopefulness into his tone.

“Please, Sean.” she scoffed as she roughly set aside the brush.

“What?” he responded softly.

“Don’t pretend you’re that naïve.” she told him with a slight scowl up at him.

“Well, if no one has actually told you, for sure, what your role is actually to be, there’s still some---”

“Please, Sean.” she repeated, “Since when do either of us actually have to be told what any human’s intentions are. They’re painfully obvious to us, just by looking at them.”

“I didn’t even realize you often used that ability.” Sean then allowed a long sigh as he looked downward before speaking again, “You don’t have to agree to this, Claire. We can find another way.”

“How will we do that, Sean? We have nothing and no one here. This is what we’ll have to do, if we ever want a chance at getting to the point of being able to make our own way in this new place at all.” Claire told him with her own resigned sigh.

“But Claire, giving yourself to him, just because he desires you…that is not something I would ever ask of you.” Sean assured, squeezing her shoulder to accent his words.

Claire just shook her head with a slight scoff, “It’s not like I haven’t had other lovers, already. If this is what I must do, then I will.” she stated simply with her own look downward.

Sean took a moment to compose himself in the face of her words before making any attempt at continuing his argument, “But those other lovers, they were all bound to you, or me, or Haven at the very least.” he had to add in regards to his own sister’s intimate moments with Claire in years past, “You could trust them, completely. And I know that’s something you need in order to open yourself up that way to…anyone.” he added quietly.

Claire allowed another soft sigh, “Then I will just have to bind Aidan to me.” she stated simply.

Sean swallowed again, “But he is already completely bound…to someone whose blood is much, much stronger than yours, or mine, or even Haven’s…” a slight pause, “There’s no guarantee that it would even work at all…”

“Even if it doesn’t,” she finally began after a long moment, “I saw his aura, it was desire he had in his soul for me, not malice, per se.”

“You’re saying you do trust him?” Sean asked in disbelief.

“He’s full of himself, and he thinks he is more powerful than he is, but what he wants from me is not to harm me, but simply to…possess me.” she explained, though softly.

Sean swallowed again, “And you would let him?” he returned in a near whisper.

Another sigh from Claire, “I would at least let him believe he could, however temporarily, if that is indeed what it will take to ensure us both that new life here someday.” a slight pause, “Because if we have to go back to the same life we already had been trying to live in the new world….that would turn me back into that shell that could barely feel anything but hopelessness, and that is something I don’t ever want to become again.”

Sean and Claire were taken to their new homes at court shortly after waking the next evening. Sean’s introduction process was lengthy and lasted late into the evening as he met with numerous people he would be entertaining with, and for. Realizing that he would be in charge of almost all of the music, prose, and even plays that would be a source of entertainment for the queen and her chosen guests, Sean swiftly discovered that this was nothing short of a dream come true for him, if only it weren’t for the ‘extra’ duties that Aidan may ask of him from time to time, not to mention the duties Aidan would surely be asking of Claire. Those two factors detracted greatly from that lifelong fulfillment of Sean’s, to put it mildly.

Claire’s introduction process was much, much more brief, and lasted only moments. After making Sean’s introduction and letting him then move on to try and mingle with his fellow entertainers and their audience, Aidan then sent for Claire to be brought in from the outer hall where he had left her waiting earlier in the evening.

Once she was brought inside, Aidan made the simple introduction, “This is the lady Claire Beringer.” he introduced her to the nobility before then turning toward the nearest servant, “Have her brought to my quarters. She will be staying there with me.” His words were simple but left no doubt on anyone’s mind about what Claire’s role was indeed to be. The queen herself simply scowled at the fact of Aidan bringing his new mistress to court, or more precisely, bothering her with the introduction. But Claire was not his first mistress, and most doubted she would be his last, as all were quite aware of the libidinous natures of most the young noblemen of the time. After all, the practice of bringing multiple mistresses to entertain their desires while at court was not simply usual, but almost expected.

After forcing herself to unpack a few simple items, Claire soon found herself stiffly sitting at the vanity in the quarters she had been shown to once again that night. Though instead of basking in the luxury of her new living arrangements, or the very fact that she was indeed now a guest of the queen, more or less, she found herself simply staring into the mirror as the clock struck midnight. She looked into the reflection of her own emerald colored eyes as the chimes continued, just attempting to steel herself into believing that she was just as prepared to make this her new life as she had tried to convince Sean that she was the previous night.

It was less than half an hour later when she heard the door open behind her, causing her to cringe ever so slightly at the realization that the charade that was her new life, was finally about to begin, once and for all. As he entered the room, Aidan cleared his throat slightly, as Claire had not yet moved to greet his arrival.

“Most women stand when a man enters the room.” he pointed out to her, as her only reaction thus far was to turn her eyes downwards from her own reflection at last.

“I suppose I’m not most women.” she responded in a near whisper.

Though instead of her words angering him, as she was sure they would, they almost seemed to amuse him as he moved into the room and spoke once again, “That, you are not.” he amazingly agreed with her statement.

That reaction did do well to surprise her enough that she finally moved to turn her eyes back to him, “And that doesn’t upset you?” she managed after another moment.

“If we were out there, in front of my peers, then my upset would be very clear, indeed. But you and I both know all about the masquerades we both live behind, don’t we?” he stated simply as he pulled a lavishly upholstered seat up next to her own.

“You’re not a vampire…” she said slowly, attempting to make some sense of his words through her own shock at them.

Aidan simply allowed another slight smile, “This is true, but we both must hide either what we are, or where our true loyalties lie. And that is the masquerade I refer to.”

Claire swallowed again, her eyes moving over him as she attempted to uncover any deception that his aura would give away as he spoke. When her eyes told her that his words seemed sincere, she finally spoke again, “And where, exactly do your loyalties lie?”

“With your kind, of course. You already know that, Claire.”

“All of my kind do not have the same agenda though, so that doesn’t tell me a whole lot.” Claire continued in the same wary tone.

“I do not care for agendas, I simply uphold Griffyn’s because of what and who he is, and the power he has. When this dynasty falls, I intend to be aligned with those who have always had the real power in this world. And that is not my dear aunt, or any other human sovereigns. I care nothing for the human world, honestly. For it’s the Kindred world that I wish to be part of, as it offers greater riches than any that I could ever receive from my human ties.”

Claire swallowed again as she sifted through his words before finally speaking, “You want to be one of us.” she whispered.

Aidan let out a soft sigh, “Griffyn is simply keeping me bound because of my usefulness as a living member of this current dynasty. Once they fall, he will no longer continue my bond, and then, the only place I will have in the Kindred world is if I am one of them. And I know Griffyn will never change me.” a slight pause, “But, perhaps, someday, I can find another Kindred who could possibly come to value me enough to give me what he won’t….”

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