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Chronicles of the Immortals

Chapter 1

House of Priscus



If seeing one's life flash before their eyes, happens when faced with their imminent death. What does it mean to a man who has lived forever? That is what Count Edmund Bayard saw in the flash of an eye, as the sun began to rise.

“Please..don't leave me...”

Four little words that now echoed in his thoughts so many times, for so many days. Days that would end up becoming months too many to recall, until he had forgotten the voice that uttered them. At least that is how he could live with it. Disassociating himself from the truth of the matter.

“He's gone, forever, why lament the past?” He would reason.

But this was always the alcohol talking, not the heart. After all, who needs a heart? A heart can regret, and no one lives to regret. Edmond would not regret.

“Barkeeper! I must have more wine!” Edmond would shout to the man tending bar. He was a rather big man, with thick hands and a sweaty brow. “What must one do to get some service?!”

“Now that is no way to speak to the man.” Came a sultry voice from behind Edmond. “Leave the man to tend to his customers, he can't really be bothered.”

Edmond turned around to find a pair of blue eyes sizing him up. It was just one of his conquests, so Edmond ignored him, and turned around waving his hand up in the air in an attempt to get the bartender to look his way.

“And now you are just rude! Especially when you were so sweet but a few hours ago.”

A young man came up behind Edmond and softly kissed his neck. This was met with a hiss under his breath, as Edmond gripped the young man by the hair, and in one smooth move, had turned him around, with his back to the counter.

“It would be wise young pup, to move along before I regret ever tasting such sweet wine from your lips.” Edmond grinned as he flashed his fangs ever so quickly; really just in the blink of an eye, but slow enough for the young man to see. “I will be left alone to my drink, and in peace.”

“My, but you are in such a foul mood, and here I was so looking forward to buying you a drink.”

“I can buy my own, thank you....?” Edmond gave him a blank stare.

“Ansel.” The young man whispered, “I am disappointed you don't remember. I thought you Nobles were above this type of behavior really, was he worth every coin you tossed at him?”

“I do not recall giving you such liberties, Ansel. And if I am to repeat myself once again, you will learn your place.”

Edmond raised his hand and caressed Ansel's cheek, slowly raking his long nails down his throat. Ansel's eyes betrayed his situation, as the bar was quite dark and full of customers. Ansel half expected Edmond would not cause a scene. But as Edmond dug his nails into his flesh, he quickly changed his tune.

“Yes, well please forgive me. I've had too much to drink myself.” Ansel quickly back peddled and attempted to move away. But Edmond then placed his hand behind his waist and pulled him tight against his body.

“Is that so?” Edmond now pressed one nail ever so slightly against Ansel's fair skin. A single drop of blood pooled where Edmond nicked him. Edmond's eyes darkened, as the scent of fresh blood began to alter his behavior, and he brushed his face against Ansel's cheek.

“Yesss, that was truly such a sweet wine you shared with me earlier tonight. But you must learn that there are boundaries, even a young pup such as yourself must obey. Or I'm afraid I'll be paying your parents a visit later tonight to give them my condolences.”

“P-Please forgive my impertinence Duke Bayard, I misspoke.” Ansel began to tremble as Edmond dug a second nail, and this time, a thin streak of blood began to run down his neck.

“Ohhh, now this is truly a scent, I remember enjoying. What was his name? Oh yes...Rafael. Did you like him Ansel? Did his body tremble underneath your hardened member? I recall you moaned sweetly as you drank from his neck.”

“I..I don't recall..” Ansel swallowed hard.

“Is that so? Now who is being rude? Hm?” Edmond toyed with the buckle of Ansel's belt. He gave him a slight tug, making his cock rub against Edmond's own, and this made the excited Count tremble with lust. “I tell you what - Ansel- I will forgive this conversation ever happened, if you agree to find me the type of wine I simply adore...say within a fortnight? If not, I will be looking forward to finishing this conversation.”

Edmond licked Ansel's neck with his tongue and moaned only above a whisper as he then pushed the trembling Ansel away, making him stagger and lose his balance. He collided with a young waiter, who spilled his tray of glasses filled with ale onto the floor, and all over Ansel. Edmond smiled at him and turned around, once again waving at the bartender for another drink.

If he weren't already full of sweet wine, he would have taken Ansel and dispatched him without a moment's hesitation. But he was not in the mood to spill even more blood tonight, regardless of how sweet it was. He was trying to forget.

His regret.

Within his mind, the memories of century's past rang in his ears like a fever that would not break. Upon many a scroll, ancient and now deftly hidden, Edmond would recall their writings:

Gaius had written in the scrolls...

“It was C.E. 395. The death of Theodosius I was the day our world came apart. With Rome losing one Emperor after another, it would seem the world was slowly going mad. The flames that lit the evening skies reminded me just how far we were from the gates of heaven. Perhaps the time was ripe for the gods in the heavens abandoned us. They were always quite jealous over our beauty. Perhaps the desire to end our world came with the blade that drained the last drop of blood from the veins of the one who loved our company.

Theodosius lay pale upon his funeral pyre, his mouth held the one coin to pay Charon, to cross the river Styx into the afterlife. As the mourning cries echoed in our ears, we covered our heads with cloaks, and ran to the hills in haste. What we left behind, would never be found again. My dearest Theodosius, we bid thee our fond farewell. Perhaps the price for one of us to cross will be one we cannot afford to pay. Since our kind fed upon the death throws of men.

It was always the same nightmare that fed this fever, sapping his strength in a drunken stupor that ended with the last drop of wine, and the reproach of the rising sun.

“Please Gaius don't leave me..”

Edmond felt the pressure of the sun weigh him down, taking his strength. And with hands extended into the cold morning air, he was gone.

“Antonius!”

Edmond was roused from his thoughts by the high-pitched laughter of the local barfly, no doubt reeling in her next trick for the night. He looked upon her as a specter of time that had nothing to do with the mortality of men. He would see her at one moment as a flame dancing brilliantly upon the candlestick, and in the next, the dim glow upon melted wax.

As he sipped his wine, Edmond recalled how his Coven thrived beneath the beauty of Rome. They enjoyed the night life as Rome needed no excuse to celebrate. Given their many Gods and rituals of ever sort, the event always ended in an orgy of deviancy and unbridled passion.

Having the Emperor's ear was always a plus, and he quite enjoyed the pleasure their kind brought his body. Of course, one does not kill the hand that feeds him, so they had a mutual relationship that fed upon the lust of men.

It was in Rome where Edmund first met him. His ideal had soft gray eyes the color of winter skies, and golden hair that reminded him of the wheat fields during fall harvest. The young Lord was visiting from Germania along with his younger brother. They wanted to extend their father's goodwill and forge an alliance with the house of Roman nobles. The young men spent the summer months under the protection of House Priscus, and in essence, the protection of the Emperor himself.

The system of Roman names was unique and distinctive in the ancient world. A foreigner becoming a Roman citizen took a new Roman name as a mark of citizenship. Men of power often adopted someone into their family and they in turn took their name as their own. Levon Adal was one such man. In the process, he and his brother had been sent to Gaius while they became Roman citizens.

Even though Levon came from a powerful Coven in Germania, he shed his family name of “brave lion” to become Antonius, descendant of Hercules. His body truly was built as the son of Zeus and as alluring as Alcmena, Zeus' human wife.

The Coven of the House of Adal Gumarich was as old as the House of Fabia Priscus. Both were held in high honor and prestige in the ancient world of the vampire. Equally alluring, secretive, and well known to all creatures of the night.

Edmond had taken the name Gaius Fabia Priscus because his last identity would not have found pleasure in the eyes of Theodosius, being the superstitious man that he was. He couldn't very well tell him he was a descendant of the Lord of the Underworld Hades, feared by all men. Lifeless vessels of a time when the gods walked the earth, and took human women as wives. The world of men would never accept that his name went as far back as the ninth century, and Fabia Priscus, when translated meant “very ancient wolf trapper.”



~*~



Edmond continued to think of his ideal, as a second glass of wine was poured for him.

The bartender always kept a bottle of his favorite, knowing the Count often drank to forget. He never saw the noble with his lover, though he did see him with plenty of men. He cleaned the counter and kept to his business, pouring a new glass until the Count waved him off.

Edmond recalled when Antonius became a new member of House Priscus. It was after the hounds of Germania discovered the young man's coven, and slaughtered them in one night. Antonius and his brother Gerlach, who took the Roman name Flavius, or “golden-haired,”were the only two who escaped.

They were found sitting at the entrance of the secret tunnels where Gaius and the coven would exit; nearly a mile from the city limits. They huddled together in the shadows and fell on their knees as Gaius exited the hidden tunnel; their bodies bloodied and bruised.

“Please my Lord, grant us sanctuary within the House of Priscus we beg!”

Antonius trembled in fear as the other members hissed at their request and the smell of blood.

They were already weary with the exodus of other Houses from Germania and were not eager to be burdened with the remnants of a dead coven.

But Gaius was more gracious than the members of his House, so the brothers were given sanctuary. They were only days from being granted citizenship, and the brothers had only returned to Germania to visit their father.

“We are all orphans of the world we once knew. With the decline of Rome's power, the hounds of Germania will soon come looking for us, this I know.”

“How do you know this my Lord?” Titus, his younger brother asked.

“Because we are not being exposed by an Emperor, who is having a change of heart and religion. It is because the hounds of Germania have an ancient feud with the House of Priscus. Our very name makes them howl on a moonless night. And for werewolves, that speaks volumes.”

Even if Antonius was not a sired member of his new coven, he knew the nobles of Rome. The House of Gumarich held close ties with the House of Priscus. Antonius knew Priscus was the first Coven to hunt wolves by setting up a pit.



~*~



Gaius had written in the scrolls:

“Though it was intended to trap regular wolves for their pelts, we soon discovered we were trapping something more than wolves. This was something I preferred to leave out of polite conversations when asked about my family's very ancient name.

The werewolves were not like regular wolves, so our hunters had to improvise. We did this by digging a deeper hole in the ground and covering it with branches and leaves. But the werewolf would prove to be an animal that would learn from it's mistakes. They could leap higher than the pit and escape, so the game was on.

It was all about being ahead of our quarry as we next placed one of our own to act like wounded prey to attract the werewolves. We waited for them to get close enough to charge, then our bait would jump into the trees and watch the wolves fall into the trap.

This was not always successful as the werewolves could at first quickly jump out of even the deeper pits. Soon thereafter, traps were set with stakes buried in the base, thus making for an enjoyable viewing of the werewolves impaled upon the stakes as they transformed back to men.

It was no less than what they deserved.

The hounds of Germania had done no less to our vampire brethren. They hunted them during the day stalking them to discover their hidden coven and dragging them out to the sunlight making them weak, poisoned, and vulnerable.

They starved them of feeding on blood and watched them fight in pits for a morsel of blood in the form of lesser and weaker vampires. The pack would then kill the victor outright, less he find the strength to fight back and escape.”

Gaius reminded his Coven of their roots, and that House of Priscus was always to remain noble to their own kind.

“So we will do as any Roman house would do to a newly orphaned family member, and adopt Antonius and his brother, Flavius into this Coven. This was the expressed desire of Lord Adal and the House of Gumarich, that they become members of this house and link our two houses forever.” Gaius smiled at the two young men.

Marcus, and Titus, younger brothers to Gaius embraced Antonius and Flavius. The members bowed in respect to the new members; nobles in their own right and now brothers.

“Surely we were, -and still are- the intended targets.” Gaius spoke. “Soon we too, will find ourselves homeless, and in need of a new place to dwell. We must avoid the conflicts of this ever changing world, and let the dust settle. Germania is now set to invade Rome, and the other Houses will no doubt be sent fleeing into the East, if not into Rome itself. We have time as an ally, since the sundial never cast's its shadow upon our existence if we remain wise, and in the dark.”

At least that was the initial plan.



~*~



Edmond finished his last drink, leaving the bartender a ridiculous tip which would ensure his glass would never be empty. He hailed his private coach in the cold London air, and as the horses neigh with his presence, he gave the driver a nod to return to his Estate. The sun would soon be rising.

As a fickle cloud sent rain overhead. Edmond closed his eyes and remembered Antonius, when love gripped his heart for the first time, and rumbled down deep within his soul. Antonius was a vision of beauty, and Edmond enjoyed feeling his cool body tremble beneath his own.

The House of Priscus held high status in Rome, while Theodosius I ruled. In fact, they were an ancient House that had seen many Emperors rise and fall. Their palatial home was far from modest, and held treasures that date back to the foundation of Rome itself.

But times were changing and their world was getting smaller. Gaius knew Theodosius I would be the last, only for the fact that Titus had seen it.

The alluring gaze of the vampire would make men forget that they never aged. They were always referring to themselves as the new heirs, sons, or cousins when in fact they were one and the same.

Three brothers that wore their haunting beauty like sweet nectar to the butterflies that would land in their traps. Since they were only seen either at dusk or late into the night, they were seen as eccentric.

A noble house shrouded in mystery, with ties to the Emperor no less.

Soon Gaius would take Antonius as his new lover, and it was both accepted by the Coven and in their opinion, had been a long time since they've seen their Lord at ease. The human lovers he had were steadily aging on him, and always had to be replaced, unless people became wise.

When Antonius was led to his bed for the first time, there was a young man by the name of Octavio, who was rather unhappy to see Antonius being brought to Gaius. He, being the only human at the time, that Gaius truly adored.

Octavio was raised in the Emperor's service, and as his adviser and counselor, Octavio rose in status quickly when the Emperor brought him to meet Gaius for the first time.

The alluring Lord was spellbound by the young Octavio, who was quick to learn the nature of their host, and wise not to become alarmed. After all, the Emperor was not afraid and enjoyed the lovemaking despite the sacrifice.

But Antonius was different, he was one of like them. Something Octavio learned he would never become.

The room was lit with candles, and incense wafted throughout the bedroom in the crisp evening air. The scent of rose petals filled the gardens, as they floated upon the water fountains that crisscrossed the palatial home.

With the Emperor as a guest, along with the nobles from other covens that came to celebrate, the light scent of incense filled the many chambers. The evening's festivities had now taken a more sensual and stimulating turn.

As Antonius was brought to Gaius, he was dressed in a tunic made of gold silk and decked with many precious jewels. He had been bathed in scented water, and his body tenderly prepared for a night of pleasure.

Theodosius and Octavio were granted the privilege of witnessing the union between the two Lords. They sat in a gallery shrouded in darkness along with a group of special guests from other Covens.

Gaius was quite intoxicated with the blood of the first sacrifice, something to get the tongues wagging and the fangs itching.

Antonius smiled as he licked the blood from his lips. As a new member of the Coven, he had not been invited into the Master's bed right away. There was a pecking order, so Antonius and his brother were at the bottom of the list when they first arrived.

But Gaius found favor in Antonius, so it was only a short time before he was invited to his bed.

“We may not feel the warmth that humans enjoy between the sheets, but I assure you that no one human's flesh can compare to the blaze that burns between ours,” Gaius whispered as he kissed Antonius' throat.

Their evening meal was now an empty husk, as they shared sips of blood in the palate of their mouths.

“You taste of sweet wine young one, did this one intoxicate you with his youthful and innocent stare?” Gaius teased Antonius as he kissed and bit him playfully along his long slender body.

“He was truly a divine meal, my Lord.” Antonius arched his back as Gaius, now caressed his body with his hands, stroking his long legs and taught abdomen. He gently nuzzled his hips as his fangs began to tingle.

“Yes, and your body permeates with the lingering sweetness of it...” Gaius took his lover's cock into his waiting lips, “You are truly beautiful, Antonius.”

Antonius gently played with Gaius' hair, then gripped it with both hands and tugged it as he felt the sharp tips of Gaius' fangs.

“Ah, you are now going to sample the vintage, my Lord?”

Antonius' heart began to race, as Gaius gently nipped his cock and licked the beads of blood that came from his lover's member. It mixed with the sweet drops of his essence that pooled on the tip.

The sensual scene was making Theodosius, and Octavio, squirm in their seats. Their bodies reacting to the sexual encounter they were witnessing would not go overlooked. The other guests sitting around them began to caress their bodies, and then gently pulled them back onto an area setup just for them.

They could continue to watch the union between Gaius and Antonius while they were being serviced themselves. The nobles were picked for their self-discipline in their appetites. It would be disastrous if control were lost, and the Emperor of Rome had become a meal.

“My Lord is....so eager..” Antonius moaned and bit his lip. He gasped to feel Gaius spread him and caress the tiny spiral between his cheeks.

Gaius looked up momentarily to notice his lover's beautiful eyes, dilate and glow with passion. He adored how they changed to a glowing shade of blue that came from his excitement.

The lust of feeding while enraptured in sexual foreplay was always a rush, and Antonius was ravishing.

“You are perfect, my love, my own personal sun that shines in the darkest of night.” Gaius purred as he returned his lips over his lover's cock.

Antonius could feel Gaius breathing against his cold skin. His new lover was now in the throws of passion as he rose from between his legs, and pushed his legs towards his chest.

Gaius' emerald green eyes took the same glow as he thrust his hips forward, and pierced Antonius most deliciously.

“Ah..Yesss...I can feel you tremble within me, my Lord..” Antonius moaned as he raised his hips higher.

Gaius growled, his fangs as erect as his member as they pierced Antonius in the shoulder. His thrusts now unending as he was lost in the blood lust between lovers.

The enraptured blond flashed his fangs as his essence rose. He threw his head back crying out and erupting between their bodies.

Gaius retracted his fangs, as he pulled out of Antonius' shoulder to find his lover reaching for his own; something Gaius offered freely.

“Take me...” Gaius hissed as Antonius pushed Gaius down onto the bed, pressing his cock into his tight embrace.

“Your eyes are nearly as bright as the jewels on my finger, my Lord..” Antonius purred as he raised one of Gaius' leg and without hesitation penetrated.

Antonius was now thrusting in earnest as he felt his cock throbbing within his new lover.

Gaius was rarely one to be taken, and this made the group witnessing their union stop their lovemaking momentarily. Gaius was an old noble, truly worthy of Lordship, and the coven could not help but stop and take note of any changes to his manner. But as each coupling was experienced and grew in passion and desire, the dark haired Lord would no longer be a taker. He was being taught to give as much as he received, and it was now clear to all that Antonius was the only one allowed this privilege.

Gaius had met his ideal. Something, the old vampire would forever hold dearly.





The Immortals Chapter Two:

Exodus in Blood



Germania, the night before the invasion...

“We've finally received word that Emperor Theodosius I was executed! The hedge around our old nemesis has finally been cut down, and we have the advantage!”

The roar of many a beast made the walls vibrate in the castle's keep. Lord Alaric Hildebrand had battled the vampire for centuries, and now the opportunity to root out the oldest, and largest Coven in Europe was within his grasp. His den of hell hounds was poised to rip out the throats of the undead.

“The Gods have abandoned these porcelain creatures, remnants of the demigods set free upon the surface of this world. It is time to reap the prize we've patiently waited for. We will not rest until we rid the land of their pestilence, their debauchery, and now their protector..Rome!”

Lord Hildebrand's words echoed in the keep. The attack would begin before sunrise, when the monster grew sluggish and they let down their guard. Hildebrand was not beneath killing them in their sleep, but the favors the vampire's held under the Emperor's guard kept them safe from the Kuno's, the wolf clans of Germania.

Theodosius was deep into the practice of decadent lust. So one or two sacrifices were not even a passing thought, so long as the ecstasy he felt run throughout his body was released into one of the beautiful men of the coven.

Alaric was keenly aware that invading Rome on their own would not fare well for his houses. Rome was the seat of world power that saw many an enemy trampled under it's mighty feet.

So as the last flame of a once mighty empire began to dim, Alaric sent men to infiltrate Germania's army, along with spies to scope out their Houses that no doubt had become complacent.

“Now let us give chase men! Let's send them back across the sea to Britannica, to their ancient crypts that are as old as their bones. Rome has fallen, and with it, the ones who once hunted us without remorse. We, the cursed of the earth, will rule the wilderness and become Lords once more. We do not fear the light of the sun, nor tremble beneath the gaze of the undead!”

Alaric raised his glass of ale, as the keep roared with cheers, and growls. He became the Alpha Wolf when Ludwulf the eldest died by the hand of Gaius. His was a personal blood feud.

It was one-hundred-fifty years ago, when Rome was a child in an old man's eyes. Alaric recalled when the alpha wolf, Ludwulf, was trapped in a pit while he fought off the undead hunter and his two brothers. He managed to escape only after Alaric had separated the youngest, Titus, from Gaius and Marcus.

But by the time he turned around to help, Ludwulf had received a fatal blow from the quick moving Gaius, who ended his reign by beheading the old alpha wolf.

That was over a century ago, but to Alaric it might as well have been yesterday. Alaric was the first to unite the wolves under one leader, after the death of Lord Ludwulf. The clans fell victim to infighting and the search for a new alpha wolf. Alaric was one of the last nobles existing among the packs that lived in the black forests of Germania.

The lineage of Alaric was long. The Clan of Hildebrand had it's beginnings when Lord Ludwulf was looking for a mate nearly three centuries ago. In human form, he married a young maiden from the House of Hildebrand, and she gave birth to Alaric's ancestral father. She was a well guarded secret, so negotiating her dowry came at a high price.

Lord Ludwulf was pleasantly surprised when she did transform on the night of her wedding. Ludwulf had his suspicions that she might be a werewolf, and knew if she was a dormant carrier, she might transform when they consummated their marriage. It was a bittersweet romance, as his wife birthed twin sons, but did not survive their births.

Unlike the vampire, the werewolf passed its genes through bloodlines, and usually the woman died in childbearing. This was the reason, the real mate was always male. The human wife would serve to keep his secret from the public eye, and served her purpose once an heir was born. It was extremely rare for a female Lycanthrope to be born, and such a prize was treated as royalty.

Lord Ludwulf was heard say that in his three hundred years, only two female werewolves had been born. Thus, the true nobles were now few. The aging nobles were always taking wives, and it was not unusual for them to have a small harem of brides. No doubt, to increase their chances of siring a true-blood. One like Alaric.

Unlike their nemesis, the werewolves were not as beautiful, nor as graceful, though they never lacked in handsome young ones. They were far more masculine than their effeminate counterparts, though, in strength, they were equals. The older they were, the stronger they became. There was no doubt that Ludwig had met his match in Gaius as the ancient bloodsucker was long in the tooth.

But just as Lord Gaius and his coven were said to be the progeny of the demigods, Ludwulf and his packs were the flip side to that coin. Theirs was a lineage bred in the dishonored term "cursed-man." A name that was believed to be linked to the original werewolf, Lycaon, a king of ancient Arcadia.

According to ancient lore, he was turned into a ravenous wolf as punishment for attempting to serve his own son to Zeus in an effort to disprove the god's divinity.

Such was their lot.

On the other hand, now that the world was in the grip of a new-found religion, the wolf was believed to guard the gates of heaven. So truly it was in the eye of the beholder as to whether the werewolf was truly cursed or blessed. Surely the wolf clans thought the latter.

If there was anything that unquestionably set the two apart, it was a vampire's promiscuous behavior. The werewolves hunt for the one female often ended in disappointment. Therefore, it was often more than not, that a male was truly their life long companion, for theirs was an unwavering partnership.

A case in point was made painfully true with Amandus, Lord Alaric's mate of one hundred years. Amandus was brash, well liked, and often seen as lacking patience. Being the partner of the Alpha wolf, often found the young man eager to please his leader, so when the call for volunteers was raised, Amandus would be chomping at the bit to be among them.

To Alaric, it was one of his more charming traits, for a werewolf needed to be bold, without fear. Two things that were required of his men when vampires were the order of the day.

The younger man was assigned to infiltrate the Roman army, and discover where the house of these nobles of Rome was located. In the days that led to the attack, Amandus was confident the nest of vampires would be wiped out now that Theodosius was in custody, and set to be executed. But it would be his lack of patience that would cost him his life.



~*~



In the early hours of the attack, Gaius was roused from his sleep, when he heard the Roman garrison break the outer gates to their home. With his two brothers at his side, they quickly dispatched the group of soldiers and set fire to their mansion that had been their home for nearly two centuries. With Theodosius dead, the enemies of the Emperor, were out to cleanse the city of his supporters, even as the ashes of the fallen Emperor, were still warm.

In the planned sunrise mission, Amandus worked his way around the garrison, and sought the Lord of House Priscus, but found him at the entrance to the tunnels. Death found him quickly, as Gaius pushed the last of his coven into the tunnels, and in one strike, the head Amandus was left behind for his lover to find.

While most of the city woke to the sounds of Roman soldiers marching down the streets, Gaius was only concerned with his house. They took only what they could carry and some gold as they headed down into their ancient underground tunnels. They were built by his own hands centuries ago, deep beneath the surface of Rome.

They were mostly used under the cover of darkness as they crisscrossed the city, making it possible for several covens to travel secretly beneath the city. Another use for them was to move under the city during the daytime if there was a need. They were also used as private catacombs, to dispose of their meals.

With their group secured, they destroyed the entrance leading to the estate and made their escape. Gaius kept Antonius close at his side, and they moved with great speed across the evening landscape. A vampire could cover much territory with their speed and agility. They only stopped long enough to feed off their prey, and bury the evidence. At times, they would leave the corpses to the scavengers in order to hide their crimes.

These animals followed the scent of death, and more than likely wondered what to make of men who moved long after life had left their veins. But animals sensed the change and gave them a wide berth while they were in their area. But when humans could not be found to feed on, cattle and wild animal alike would sustain them until they came across a dwelling.

They were nobles and unaccustomed to living in the wild after so many decades of living a life of privilege and decadence. But Gaius and his brothers knew the countryside well. After all, they were nearly five centuries old. The Coven grew slowly in their time, and newly sired vampires were usually added in twos. It was just their way.

House Priscus had grown to be nearly one hundred strong before Theodosius was executed. This included servants, and a group of hunters, whose duty it was to bring the evening meal. The hunters were a hand-picked group of men who would scour the streets around twilight, when most were making their way home or to one of many festivities celebrated in the once great city. Their compelling gaze would rob them of their destination, and invite them to dine with the nobles. They were irresistible, with sweet words spoken to tickle their ears, and became the nightly sacrifices for the noble's intimate feasting.

But now they were on the run. There was no time to pick and choose, and if they were found outside and alone, they would inevitably become the evening meal. This group was rather large, so the hunt was done in small groups, with instructions to meet at a particular place. To Gaius, and the older vampires, it was a journey down memory lane, as familiar roads appeared, with only the landscape having changed.

Old trails became paths, then dirt roads, but it was Rome that paved them with stones. Gaius had seen many transitions in the centuries since he was first sired, but for all the changes, some things remained the same. The hills, the rivers, and the forests all had one thing in common...secrets.

Places far too old for ordinary men to recall, certainly wherever the shadows extended their lines at high noon. This is where safe houses were found, to conceal those who could not stand the sting of the sun. This warm, and often blistering drug that deadens their senses, drains their strength, and poisons their flesh needed to be avoided at all cost.

Gaius would lead his group to such places, and all would gather their strength for an evening hunt, to replenish their bodies.



~*~



Two days after Amandus entered Rome...

Lord Alaric entered Rome behind the larger armies, under the guise of soldiers. They quickly made for House Priscus and were stunned to find the palatial home in ashes. The men sift through the rubble, finding proof that the Roman garrison had failed to destroy the inhabitants. Alaric became anxious, as he picked up the scent of his mate. His men had combed the house, failing to find any sign of fallen vampires. As Alaric followed his nose, his men quickly ran to restrain him.

They had found Amandus.

“My Lord, please....do not enter!” Egon, his second in command, looked Alaric in the eyes.

Alaric shook his head and pushed past Egon. His strength, too much for Egon and several of his men.

He made his way over the dead, and at first only noticed the entrance to the caves. As his eyes adjusted to the darkened entrance, he picked up the scent of Amandus which overwhelmed his senses. He looked up to find the head of his lover on a stake, and his body nailed to the wall as one does a pelt of an animal.

“NOOO! This can't be Amandus!” Alaric stood before the stake, and gently removed the head, and held it. He could still smell the scent of the vampire in his hair. “Gaius! You will suffer as I suffer! You will pay for this life, and I will see it done!”

Alaric began to snarl, and as he dropped the head of Amandus, his body trembled. The sounds of ripping clothes and bones cracking made his men back away. Alaric was now unapproachable, as the alpha wolf howled in anguish.

As the sounds of the screaming citizens was picked up by the transformed Alaric, his eyes turned blood red, and the fingertips of his hands broke through with sharp claws.

“My Lord!” Egon tried to approach Alaric, but it was too late. The enraged wolf leaped at the first Roman soldier he encountered and ripped out his throat with his jaws. Any man that did not hold a wolf's scent was torn asunder. It did not matter, whether it was Roman or German, Alaric would not stop until his body gave out or he was killed. His men followed the enraged Lord to the edge of the city, where Alaric picked up the scent of the vampires. They found the exits to the tunnels, noting they had all been sealed by a cave-in.

“Their scent goes in all directions, no doubt this was done to hide their real destination!” Egon shouted at his men, as they all sniffed the tunnels, and several transformed. “Take the best trackers and find them!”

Egon looked at his Lord, as the still transformed Alaric clawed the caves, until he came to the one that held the scent of Gaius. He looked at Egon, who gave him a nod. Alaric transformed back to a man and was handed some clothes.

“We will follow this scent. I am quite familiar with this bastard and his famous hidden houses. He is quite old, and still the vampire Lord of this dying empire. But, he will not be touched by anyone, but me.” Alaric's voice was low, as he looked at his men. “The sun will soon set, and they will be moving fast under the cover of darkness. They have a three-day lead on us, so we must not waste a moment.”

Egon knew there would be no turning back. He knew Alaric wanted to see the House of Priscus fall, but without their deaths, it was meaningless. Furthermore, with the death of his mate, he knew Alaric would never stop.

“You have a questioning look on your face, Egon, come on, out with it.” Alaric looked at his first in command.

“We will be crossing the wilderness, and the territories of many a Kuno, my Lord. We may have more than just a fleeing group of vampires to deal with. The nobles of the Roman territories, will not appreciate us trespassing into their lands. The vampire's scent will no doubt, be picked up by them.”

“And your point? Are we to turn tail and go back to Germania? No, this house must be destroyed. They are out of their comfort, and out in the open. Surely the noble hounds of these territories, won't begrudge us our quarry. We are also nobles, with the right to kill his particular monster. Hell, they might just get off their fat asses, and join the hunt!”

To the men it appeared as if the alpha wolf had calmed down. But to Egon, it was just an act. He knew his Lord was beyond anger, and only transformed back in order not to be spotted. He was a rather large, and beautiful specimen of wolf. But in his altered transformation, he was quite large and frightening, with blood red eyes and black fur.



~*~



It was nearly a week after Rome fell, and Gaius was leading his group towards the borders of the Roman Empire, and they would not last if they could not hunt. But smaller villages were now preferable than the larger populated provinces where the loss of it's citizens was not easily hidden from the authorities, or run the risk of being recognized.

The farmlands were more isolated, and the loss of entire families could go undiscovered for weeks if not months. Time enough for the group to be far gone.

“Gaius, we need to gather our strength,” Marcus, the second eldest brother spoke. “We risk our lives by traveling too close to sunrise.”

Gaius looked at his weary group. They were only a few dozen men strong as the House was split into smaller groups in their hasty exodus out of Rome. Gaius was fortunate, to have awakened his house as the attack was calculated to find them in their predawn stupor.

“No Marcus, if we slow down we will never make it to the border. We must find our cousins and cross into the western province. If not, the hell hounds of Germania will find us. Remember, they were there when we were flushed out.”

This was true, Gaius was not just roused from his sleep, he had caught the scent of a werewolf within the garrison. Gaius cornered the beast at the mouth of the tunnels, and with persuasive coaxing, learned he was only a scout. He left his head on a spike, and his body pinned to the entrance of the caves to let his pack know that their man was discovered. Little did Gaius know, that the death of Amandus would set in motion a vicious reprisal on the part of the wolf's mate.

“We are not safe if they knew our location,” Gaius spoke, “It is this very reason I fear that we may be all that remain of House Priscus.”

“Surely not, brother!” Titus, the youngest of the three spoke up. “I'm certain our cousins from the other houses have survived, I still sense Linde and Adal so it appears they have escaped.”

Titus was gifted as a clairvoyant child before he was sired. But when he was turned, the ability to sense the other members of their ancient coven grew. He was a very sensitive vampire that often was plagued with visions of the future.

Gaius doted over him and he was the first he woke on that fateful night. Antonius was just drifting to sleep after a night of lovemaking before Gaius picked up the scent of the wolf nearby.

Titus was just seventeen when he was sired, and Gaius allowed no one to touch him. Their Lord Father found all three brothers dying at the bottom of his trap. They had been impaled by the stakes set for werewolves.

The brothers themselves were orphans with Gaius taking the lead as the eldest at the age of twenty-two. There would be no one who would miss them in the wild, and as Lord Marco Fabia Priscus looked down into the pit, he was surprised to see three young men looking up at him.

It was a wise decision by the old vampire, who became their father. The three real blood brothers would forever share their bonds with their father and each other. When their father was killed, Gaius steps into the leadership of the Coven.

As it was with all noble families, ties and treaties were made often through a marriage of convenience, and vampire nobles were not so different. Gaius had groomed young Titus with the hope of expanding their House with one from the northeastern border of Rome. But fate would not allow that in the form of the invading wolves.

“I am pleased that your gifts have not been traumatized my brother. It is this glimmer of hope that we must hold on to. Linde and Adal will be an excellent addition to our House. Let's hope they remembered where to look for us.”

Marcus looked on as Titus embraced Gaius. He was also promised to a noble family, but that house was in Britannica; their final destination.

His was a young Lord from the House of Vortigern, an equally ancient and trusted Coven. Marcus loved Elisedd dearly and had corresponded with him recently before the attack and ensuing invasion by Germania.

Titus spoke of his cousin Linde, from the House of Thames and their Uncle Regulus, who cared for him. With the invasion on their heels, they all needed to return to Britannica, and to their ancestral home. The Coven in Rome was quite large, and no doubt at the present scattered throughout the empire.

But the borders of the Roman Empire were now beginning to fade on those territories as the new invaders were the Huns, and the wolves that preceded them. The ancient lands of Albion, now Gran Britannica, held their roots. It was their sacred sanctuary, in the houses that were now anxiously waiting for their Lords to return.



~*~



Edmund was roused from his thoughts as his private coach arrived at his estate. He stepped out and smiled at Richard, his coachman, who tipped his hat.

“Have a pleasant rest, my Lord,” Richard whispered as Edmund returned the nod.

Richard was always near his Master and knew the reasons he often drank into the late hours, for it was written on his face. Edmund never forgot Antonius. He knew the lovers his Master had were a means to keep his sanity, and quench his thirst. He never liked his new name, having fled Rome with his Master so long ago. To him, Edmund would always be Lord Gaius Fabia Priscus.

Edmund entered the grounds, which were nearly as as old as he was. There had been many changes throughout the centuries that continued to evolve around the one-time castle. The walls still had brick and stone throughout the largely converted piece of history. However, the one thing that never changed was the soil in which their granite tombs were located below the estate. The soil was kept in pristine condition. The land around them would grow, and change as man evolved through time, yet House Priscus remained trapped in a timeless, ageless cycle. The riches they had accumulated over time kept them in sync with the changing world, but they wanted to keep the world away from their small realm within the ancient castle's walls.

Like Rome, Britannica, now called England, was a new world power of the time. Not that it ever was less than powerful, for Britain had its share of scrimmages with the world as a whole. Its deep-seated roots were fought against, burned down, and even to some extent, persecuted. However the castle, and now the many faces of the estate, that are and was, House Priscus, maintained it's secret the same way it did in Rome.

Edmund walked through the main foyer, to find the halls quiet, as dawn was approaching, and many were already secured within their rooms. Most of his coven was paired off, and this brought a sad expression to Edmund's face. It had been far too long since he last felt Antonius in his arms. And even though there was always someone prepared for his bed, Edmund was never interested. If his evening included a lover and a sacrifice, he fed and disposed of the body unceremoniously, sending the vampire to find other accommodations.

The evening wore on far into the early hours, and even his earlier liaison with Ansel did not quiet the voices from the past. There was a hole in his heart, and Antonius was not there to fill it. Edmund walked into his private chambers that held his crypt hidden beneath the floor. He would find Antonius waiting for him in his dreams, where the handsome lover would often complain that it was far too cramped for lovemaking.

“Not if we lay as one, dearest.” Edmund would whisper before he closed the door.





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