Less than a year after James had started his strange affair with Sean and Claire, the rumors of Griffyn giving his position to his childe, Hollister, did come to pass. Once Hollister came into his throne as the current ruling Kindred Prince of London, then of course many other changes occurred as well. Most notable of these changes was that Hollister wanted to have his hands on many, many businesses throughout London. And, he installed Kindred in prominent positions in each one he had his hand in. In Hollister’s mind, the key to controlling the humans was to control many parts of human life and commerce, rather than just posting blood bound spies of his own within the English Court, as Griffyn had done for so long.
Hollister had of course allowed Sean to return to running their theatre house, as he had in the past, before his punishment of isolation began. However, Sean was much more wary of ever stepping foot on his own stage for any live productions again, and even more wary of giving other Kindred roles in any of them either, for that matter.
Then in 1685 another change occurred. Charles II passed away, and when he did, he still had not one legitimate child of his own. Therefore, another throne changed hands, and James II was now their new king, after all.
However as soon as their royal lover, James II did have his coronation and became the new ruling sovereign of all of England, rather than just the heir in waiting, Hollister almost immediately summoned both Sean and Claire to appear before his own throne.
Neither Sean nor Claire had any idea what to expect from their first formal meeting with the new Prince. All they honestly did know about Hollister is that he was a fellow Toreador, and he was Griffyn’s childe. However, they did also know that Hollister was Haven’s sire as well, so that at least gave them a bit of optimism about the meeting.
As they reached Griffyn’s former throne room that evening, Hollister did turn to greet them both with a smile, which gave them at least more comfort than their first meeting with Griffyn eighty years earlier. Hollister appeared to have been in his early thirties at the time of his embrace, and had gentle brown curls that just barely reached his chin below penetrating brown eyes. He was of course very good looking as well, but that was nearly a pre-requisite for any Toreador ever embraced, in all honesty.
“If it isn’t my grandchilde and great grandchilde. Pleasure to finally make your acquaintances, at last” Hollister smiled as he actually came toward them, offering a hand to Sean to shake, and then gently kissing Claire’s own.
“Yours as well” Sean greeted him, both Claire and he offering wary smiles to their new Prince.
“So, I’m sure you’re eager to figure out whom your new Prince is and why he’s summoned you here on this celebratory evening, so please, ask me anything.”
Sean and Claire both turned to each other with a smile, neither quite sure what to make of the much warmer welcome they received on this visit, under this Prince. Finally coming up with something, Claire asked, “So, when did Griffyn embrace you?”
“Well, I was born in 1406, and 32 years later Griffyn decided to bring me into this world. So 1438” he then added, “and here we are 250 years later. How the time flies.”
“And you made Haven in…” Sean added to the conversation.
“1464, which I’m sure you knew” he answered, though with a smile, “and you two both came into the fold in… 1598 was it?” he asked them in the same polite tone.
“Yes, Haven made me” Sean offered “and I made Claire” he finished as he smiled down at her.
“A week later, I heard” Hollister returned, proving he seemed to know much more about them than they knew of him.
“Yes” was Sean’s simple reply as he looked down, well aware of the fact that most other Kindred did not approve of making another when you barely had a grip on your own new existence.
“You two really are inseparable aren’t you?” Hollister offered another slight smile, “I mean, here we are almost a hundred years later and the two of you still seem so in love” he stated in a contemplative manner as he moved to take a seat and gestured for them to sit down as well.
“We’ve had some rough spots” Claire admitted quietly as she took the offered seat, “but we’ve made it past them all” she assured as she gently squeezed Sean’s hand as he sat next to her.
“I’ve heard you’ve coped in very interesting ways at times” Hollister smiled as he reached for a drink, his eyes still watching their reactions closely.
“Um…” Sean attempted to find what response would be appropriate then.
“Oh don’t look so worried” Hollister smiled again, “I’ve been around 150 years longer than you two, and I am a Toreador. I’ve had my share of interesting trysts in my time” he assured them as he took another sip.
“I’m guessing you have a reason for bringing up our… trysts?” Sean dared.
“Very perceptive. You are my grandchilde” he smiled again, but then moved on “So, are you planning to make an appearance at the palace tonight? The other palace” he clarified with a slight smirk.
“We don’t usually go to the palace often” Claire replied with a trace of nervousness.
“But I thought you and our new king were quite close” Hollister couldn’t help moving the conversation in the direction he had planned all along. He then couldn’t help another smile at their reactions to his pointed comment “I never knew it was possible for our kind to get any paler” he had to add with a smirk.
“So, you want us to do something to James?” Claire asked worriedly.
“James is it?” Hollister asked with a smirk at having the rumors as good as proven by the familiarity with which Claire had just addressed the new king of all of England “I’m sure you’ve already done plenty with him, dear” another small laugh, “and no, I don’t have any nefarious plans of regicide” he assured them as he took another drink, noting that his words did very little to relax them “the point I’m making is that two of my own line have now found a way to blood bind the very king of England, himself. I’m not angry with either of you. I’m downright impressed” he assured “and a little bit proud that the two who pulled it off were indeed from my very line, if I do say so myself” he added as he raised his glass to them.
“But there is a reason you want him bound to us, isn’t there?” Sean stated, not letting himself relax just yet.
“Isn’t there always a reason we bind them?” Hollister stated the truth they already knew “the bond is for our own protection, as it always has been. But that protection doesn’t just mean watching over us while we sleep. There are much bigger reasons to have humans devoted to us, and even larger reasons to have a king so devoted.”
“So what is it then that you actually want us to do?” Sean asked in a tone that remained cautious nonetheless.
“Well, I have some fairly groundbreaking ideas for how to move jolly old England into the 18th century. And I need people, my own people, to be the ones pushing this country into that new century. And for my most daring of ideas, the ones that would be sure to cause all sorts of tut tutting in the English courts, I need someone who the king would never go against” another smile “and that, of course, would be the two of you.”
Sean and Claire were silent a moment as they looked to one another “what kind of daring ideas?” Claire finally had to ask.
“Well you two already have run your theatre for nearly a century. But isn’t it time to provide the masses with something they’ve not seen before?”
“You want to shut down our theatre, again?” Claire asked worriedly.
“No, I want to give you a new venue, where newer, much more daring and scintillating art can be performed.”
“Meaning?” Sean asked warily.
“One of the main problems with running a city of this size is keeping my ever growing number of subjects from growing bored with our peaceful position in regards to all the wonderfully tasty humans surrounding us every night. When you’re as powerful as us, and more powerful than most of those surrounding you, and addicted to their blood… It very easily leads to… transgressions when my subjects grow weary with playing nice after so many endless nights.”
“I’m not sure how we can help with that…” Sean stated quietly.
“By giving our people diversions that appeal to their desires, and keep them from being tempted to exercise that power to satisfy those desires, to the detriment of all of us.”
“Diversions?” Claire asked for further clarification.
“You two are entertainers, and you’re Kindred. Entertain your fellow Kindred and their servants in ways that keep them from growing bored and therefore reckless with their desires” Hollister stated simply.
“Still not sure what you’re asking us to do, exactly” Sean admitted.
“Entertainment designed to titillate our own kind, as well as a place to safely quell the urges of they and their ghouls, without any of those urges ever pouring out into my streets and upon the unknowing mortals who inhabit them” Hollister clarified as best he could.
“So… some sort of theatre or club designed for Kindred and their servants to fulfill and quell their odd desires and… lusts” Claire attempted to decipher what he was asking them.
“Who better than two Kindred who already know of those desires and seem quite comfortable with their own lusts, as well as the very same two Kindred who our new king is in lust with himself?” Hollister added with yet another smile as he took a sip while waiting for them to take his offer.
“You honestly think we could run a place like that without breaking the Masquerade?” Sean asked in the same wary tone, though it was obvious he was trying to get his head around the idea nonetheless.
“I have faith in the two of you, and in your ability to keep the king from ever trying to put a stop to such a place. I’m sure he’d rather enjoy it there himself, considering other things that he so obviously enjoys already” Hollister added as he gave each of them a pointed head to toe gaze.
“We’d have to have a strict door policy, incredibly strict” Sean stated as he looked over at Claire, “as in reading every aura at the door before they ever get past it strict” he added.
“See, I knew the two of you could find a way” Hollister smiled as he stood again, “Now, go and pick a place for our new business, and then we’ll take care of all the rest” he smiled back at them before gliding out of the room, leaving them with plenty to ponder and plan.
Claire just shook her head once they were alone again “but what kind of entertainment does he even mean?”
“Well, we already know what James likes, and he’s a ghoul. And I know that you yourself enjoyed it when you walked in on us and he had that knife against my flesh” he had to remind her of the night that led to them repairing their post-Awsha relationship.
“It could have also had something to do with us not making love for a year prior to that night” she reminded him.
“I think the two of us are more than aware of what it takes to inspire desire in ghouls, and other Kindred. And what it takes to satisfy those odd desires. We’ve been driving each other mad with desire for nearly a century ourselves, haven’t we?”
“But do you think we’ll actually be able to cater to our own kind right beneath the noses of the humans we’re surrounded by? Honestly?” she asked with a bit of her own worry remaining as Sean took her hand to begin leading them out of the throne room.
“Well, we have a Kindred Prince and a human king both on our side. That’s gotta be a pretty good start, right?” he assured with a gentle kiss before they moved to head home and start planning what their new lives were to be like under this new rule that was nothing if not an interesting one to now find themselves living under.