When the mortals go to bed, the true rulers of the city come out to play…
“So youngster, you want to know more of our region and our holdings.”
Elanor moved uncomfortably on her chair. Thus far, this ancient sage had been kindly in his words, but an inhuman darkness shone in those hooded eyes and for all the strength and supernatural potency that had come in the days since her death as a mortal and resurrection into the sanguine fury of Vampiric “life”, Elanor knew, deep in the heart of that beast that now dwelt within her, that she was in the presence of a predator of a much higher order.
“Something I heard last night made me think – Prince Wodensen referred to ‘cities in darkness’ in a way…” Elanor paused, trying to find the right words.
“Doctor, it sounded as if it was a familiar phrase to him and it got me thinking. I’ve not left this city since my…embrace as a kindred.”
“Vampire, dear. Let us not be coy about what we have become” the sage chided gently, “Continue.”
“Well – we are so strong, so skilled, so far above the mortals that we now feed upon. Why don’t we spend more time outside the cities, and why so few travellers?”
“You are observant – it was a quote, Bishop Odo, the damned priest of Durham used it in a treatise many years ago,” The Sage seemed almost in a reverie for a moment before pulling himself back to the task in hand. “the full quote is ‘Cities in Darkness – Islands of light’ and it sums up our insular, urban lives.”
The Doctor struggled to find the right words. The cities were islands indeed, islands of light between the dark windswept expanses of field and moor. Dark expanses where other terrors stalk the night. Some talk of fierce lupines or fearsome mortals with magical powers able to unravel the very fabric of reality but the truth is that most confrontations go un-chronicled amongst the kindred. Individuals vanish and no trace is ever found. Few among our kind survive far from human habitation and progress between the cities is frequently an exercise of keeping a good speed on a main road and hoping that no accident or mishap stops the vehicle in a deserted spot.
“Well my dear, we are by nature territorial and guard our holdings and food supplies, so travelling to other cities must necessarily be cautious, but I can see no reason why you should not get out and explore the moorland…”
When Elanor had left, the Sage pulled a tome towards him and began writing. “well, her chances of survival might be slim but it will be an interesting experiment.” He murmured to himself.
“And anyway, she may as well be the first. There’s a storm coming that will destroy this whole region if it isn’t averted. No single city will be able to stop it so they’d better learn to work together again.”
As he contemplated this last phrase, and then burst into laughter at the idea of Vampires working together out of any reason but fear, a small bat that had been hanging outside the basement window fluttered off and over the city to a rooftop where it changed shape rapidly into a more human appearance.
“Ah, Balthazar. So pleasant to see you. Have you found out anything of use or will I be hunting you to extinction?” Prince Wodenson seemed in unusually avuncular mood. A mood that faded rapidly as he listened to the account of the overheard conversation.
“You are dismissed – leave me immediately!”
The Prince pondered what he had heard. The Sage was unusually well informed and that might mean…
“Some things never stay buried, however deep you place them.”
Echoes of the screams from that night, hundreds of years before, briefly echoed in his mind. The Prince sighed.
“I’d better get in touch with Odo – and Doctor Hardy as well.”
But in his heart he knew that the old order was going to be swept away, and could only hope that the younger kindred would have the strength and skill to avert the destruction of all…