Chapter Fourteen -
"I think you are absolutely insane my friend." Constantine sighed as he paced the floor in front of him. "Not but a few months ago you wanted to see this guy dead and now you want to swear a blood oath? What in the hell were you thinking?"
"This is what I want, Connie." Gideon replied taking a deep pull on the tumbler of scotch in his hand. "I can't go into the details, but you have to trust me this is the right thing to do."
"Well, it is a good thing I already had this summer party planned as a costume party, we can hide in plain sight."
"Hide what?" Gideon asked with a deep swallow, what had he agreed to?
"You really don't know what you have gotten yourself into," Constantine said as he shook his head, "The challenge he has requested and the oath ceremony is very, very old. It requires faerie magik and not just any small magik, it will require the presence of the faerie queen. I did not know such things still existed, but somehow even in his long absence he was able to make the arrangements for her to attend. This place will be filled with humans, vampires, faeries, hell maybe a leprechaun or two, the way this is shaking out." He laughed as he dragged his hand thru his black hair.
"Patience, my brother, I promise this is the right thing. I don't know how or why I have found myself in this situation but I know I was meant for it. Something's coming, something big, I don't know what but I can't shake the feeling that I am meant to be in the middle of it." Gideon sighed as he looked at his oldest friend.
"Alright, Gideon, I'm in the thick of it already, I might as well see it thru with you."
"Now, what do you know about Aidan, exactly?" Gideon asked refilling his drink. "I need to understand why he is so convinced he is in constant danger."
Constantine took a deep breath, "You have to understand the way our world was divided at the time he was thought to have been killed," he began as he entered the code to unlock his vault. Gideon following him in the room sized safe. The room was lined with shelves filled with books, scrolls, sculptures, and various other items Constantine had collected in his years.
"You were only just born into our world as Christianity was taking a hold over the people in this land. Before then magik was everywhere, you could feel it and taste it. As the human's beliefs changed the magik lost its hold and everything seemed to be in chaos. It was in the darkest part of this chaos that the vampire clans went to war. With Fey magik being weakend and the war there was a create loss to both vampire and Fey.
The different clans were forced into peace their only other option being to face utter aniolation. You see the war practically eradicated the natural born vampires."
"Wait, natural born vampires?" Gideon interrupted Constantine midsentence.
Constantine ignored his question at first, running his finger along a set of scrolls, the other finger pressed against his lips, "Yes, when you hear of the 'ancients' that is what they are referring to. The first vampires were born into this world thru magik as were other Fey beings. I don't know exactly when they stopped being born but it was this evolution in the species that forced the ancients towards turning humans. My sire was an ancient, he was the last born into his clan, he claimed he was old enough to have been witness to the rise of Romulous and Reimus." Connie sighed in disgust when he looked up and found his friend staring at him in confusion. "Romulous and Reimus were the son's of Rhea and Mars the God of War. For their protection she hid them by setting them adrift on a River. They were protected and fed by a she-wolf until they were found by a shepard. When the twin brothers grew up they decided to become kings, dreaming of a day when they would build the a city by the River Tiber. As generally happens when two men with such ambition they fought over who would be the king, neither wishing to share the throne. Romulus picked up a rock and in a fit of rage he killed Reimus. One day Romulus killed his brother, making himself king of their new city, Rome." Connie turned back to his shelf, "Ahhh - here it is!"
Constantine pulled a scroll that appeared to be leather more than paper. He brought it to the island found in the middle of the vault, unrolling it carefully on the marble surface. The drawing on the thin leather showed a crude rendering of the outlines of Ireland, Britian, and western Europe as it must have appeared to the artist who drew out the map. The lands were divided by burned in lines and slight color changes.
"You see the truce created these territories, each to be ruled by the remaining Vampire Clans. This territory," Constantine pointed to the upper half of Britian, Scotland, and Ireland, "was ruled by Aidan's Clan, until his death, he was the ruler and the last of his kind."
"So you're saying he was a king?" Gideon asked, trying hard to remember any of this from his youth, both human and vampire. So much of his early years as vampire was a haze as his own sire had been captured and murdered only a few months after he was turned. Without any real guidance or instruction his first century was a blur of carnality, crude and vile feeding binges, Gideon had lived on pure instinct alone. He was lucky not to have been caught and killed before Constantine had found him and began guiding him back to some form of humanity.
"Yes, and not just any king, but a well loved and respected king. He was fair but not weak, he allowed refugees from other territories to live in this land in peace, he was trying to keep the Fey world strong as the humans moved more and more towards their new Christian religion, their loss of faith weakening the Fey powers that held the community together."
"So what happened? If he was so revered how did he end up in that desolate place, locked there for centuries? And how had no one disturbed the area or his grave?"
"Slow down there brother, one question at a time." Constantine laughed.
"The other clans became angry with his ruling style. They refused to see the future Aidan was trying to build for them, for all of us. They believed he was growing too powerful and it was simply a matter of time before he would attack. They were too greedy to see he was building what could have been a lasting peace between vampire, Fey, and Human.
Legend has it that the other clans decided they would kill him and divide his territory amongst themselves. And I hate to say it but the strategy they pursued was brilliant, so subtle and slow moving it took years to come to it's conclusion.
They claimed be having conflict between the four remaining clans and they wanted to bring Aidan in to resolve the issue and find a new treaty. This in and of it self was not an unusual request as he was often asked to arbitrate major conflicts. They negotiated for decades, slowly lulling him into believing that he was helping to build a better world, when in fact they were just waiting for the right time to strike.
The time came when the final treaty was agreed upon, and the clans were to meet to give their oath and seal the agreement. It was only logical for the ceremony to take place at his Keep. I am sure he thought nothing of it. It is said that on the eve of the ceremony during a feast, they poisoned part of his garrison army and viciously murdered the remainder. The Clan rulers had brought their own servants, again nothing unexpected with this, but their true purpose was not to serve the attendees but to murder Aidan's staff. They managed to remove all the Faeries that were in the Keep and used their own sorcerer to spelled the building to restrict entry to any Faerie or Faerie magik not already held within."
Gideon suddenly felt very tired. He tried to shake the sight from his mind of what that night must of entailed. The sounds of screaming, fighting, begging, if ever there hell broke open to this earth it had to have on that night.
Constantine rolled the map back up, returning it to the shelf and guiding Gideon out of the room, closing the vault door behind them, resuming his story, "No one knows what happened in that throne room as the only occupants were the 5 Clan leaders. The legend goes that they poisoned Aidan first to keep him still. It is said the 4 remaining rulers divided the his territory while he was forced to watch, unable to move or speak. Once they agreed to the new territorial lines, they had their guardsmen bring in the Faerie women who had been in his service along with wife and her sisters, they were said to have violated the women in ways I won't discuss here, drained them, and severed their heads. They then placed the heads of his loved ones on the plates around the table as if they were being served for dessert. All the while he was tied to the head of the table frozen by some potion, unable to do anything to stop the unfolding horror before him. Once their 'feast' had concluded they staked him and removed his heart, leaving his body tied to his throne, the bodies of his staff posed on stakes and swords to look as though they were simply mid bow or mid curtsy. It is said it took a month before the spell holding the Keep could be broken for the Faerie King and Queen to gain entrance.
The legend says the Faerie queen, refused to simply burn the Keep down and ignore destroying the bodies inside. She ordered that each person would be prepared for a proper funeral pyre, the bodies cleaned, prayed over, and prepared by whatever family could be found. The funeral pyres burned so high it could be seen from miles away. Only the Faerie King and Queen cared for Aidan's remains. No one knew what they had done to dispose of the body, but I guess we know now they simply interred him beneath the throne room floors.
I remember being told they spelled the property to always appear to be just recently abandoned. As time passed, any human who came upon the property would simply see a decaying building, not an ancient ruin of a Keep. Whether they saw a Keep, a castle, a manor, or a shack, would depend on the person attempting to trespass on the land. Now how they kept the land from being bought and sold thru the centuries, I could not tell you, but somehow the descendants of the servants and garrison men, managed to hold it until someone worthy stepped forth to claim it. And who better than the original owner and ruler of the land?" Constantine sighed as he finished his tale, brining his fingers to the bridge of his nose trying to loosen the tension in his face.
"Sweet Mother, how is he not dead?"
Constantine rolled his head back and with a deep rolling laugh, "You see that is the beauty of it. I only learned this information about 200 years ago." He shook his head and brought his fingers up to his face, squinting his eye between his thumb and index finger, "If the other clan rulers had been a just a hair more sensitive to the other Fey in the land, perhaps someone would have warned them." His laugh renewed as he gripped his sides.
"Warned them about what?" Gideon could not help but smile at his friend's levity.
"Dragons have 2 hearts not one." They both roared with laughter.
After a few minutes Constantine's face turned solemn and he wiped a tear from his check, "I don't know if it was the poison keeping him still or simply a soul broken by all he was forced to witness, but somehow, he survived all this time. I am not sure if it was providence or if the Faerie King and Queen spelled him as they did the land."
The room grew quiet as the two men thought about those words and the torture this being must have endured for the centuries it took to free himself from the floor of his Keep.
"But why is he still so afraid? The territories have been written and rewritten time and again, I am not sure any of the original clans rulers are even still alive." Gideon asked trying to find reason in Aidan's paranoia.
"You are almost correct. There is only one of the remaining clan leaders left and there is a reason he is the only one left. I have never met Aeron and I hope I never have to, he has a reputation that makes Nero and Caligula look like shy giggling school girls."
"Shit," Gideon said, resting his head back in the chair trying to soak it all in. He did not need a lesson in who Aeron was or how far his evil could reach. Aeron was the vampire who ordered his sire's death and left him to fend for himself for all that time. Gideon also knew that Aeron's current politics had not changed much in the last millennium, he believed what was left of the Fey creatures like the Fearie were only a short rung above the human race, which he felt were weak creatures meant only for food and pleasure.
Aeron specialized in creating conflict around the world, starting wars, destructive coups, or supporting the rise of bloody dictators. He would let it all unfold beneath him and reap the benefit by the untold number of humans he could enslave and consume. He had no need for territories when he was feared the world over by vampires and fey alike.
Constantine interrupted Gideon's thoughts, "From everything you have told me about Aidan as he is today, I don't see any reason for a new feud, so perhaps nothing will come it all, who knows."
"Thanks, but we both know that is very unlikely. Aidan may not be the vindictive type, but Aeron is too paranoid to take that chance. It's more likely he believes that Aidan must have spent the last 1600 years with nothing more to do but plot revenge. The way his twisted mind works…he will want to strike first. The question is does he know that Aidan has risen?"
"I guess we will just have to wait. Although, I don't think we will have to wait very long." Constantine said as he handed his friend a new class of scotch. Saying with a sad smile, "Cheers brother." The two men drank deeply both lost in their own world of worry.