Vanessa drew back the dark blue curtains and swiveled the decorative hole cap with a finger, she inserted the small key in the window shutter lock and turned. At the click, she pulled open the shutters and let the moonlight through.
A rustle came from the corner of the room where a single bed and a lot of sheets started to move. An elderly lady with white hair and a pale complexion poked her head out.
“Who’s there? Oh, Jenny is that you? What time is it dear? It’s still dark outside and Terrence isn’t home yet. What are you doing?”
Vanessa sighed audibly. It was the same deal almost every night except when she woke up lucid and then that was another story entirely. She hadn’t asked for the assignment but rather had it forced on her by circumstance and the Yarl’s man. A promise had been made; if she did well, she would be looked on with higher regards. A favor that would be incredibly useful for someone who wasn’t born into nobility or inducted into a rank of worth.
“It’s ok Aunty, you’ve slept all day through.
Terrance went out to work this morning. We have to get you ready for the dinner tonight.”
The bundle of sheets moved to an upright position on the bed and slowly a tall slim body emerged from within the folds draped in a flowery night dress. Abigail’s feet snuggled into a pair of rabbit slippers that had been waiting under the bed and she rose to her feet.
“Have I slept that long, really? And dinner you say, umm? Are we going somewhere special, oh I have nothing to wear.”
Abigail flustered on the spot while Vanessa flung open the wardrobe doors and looked inside. Abigail’s extensive collection of clothes had followed her to the Covenant, A wall to wall assortment of colors and patterns for any occasion.
Vanessa tossed her brown hair over one shoulder and picked through the rack. She eventually pulled out two long dresses, each as frumpy as the next.
“Which one of these will you wear, I think this one will bring out your eyes.”
She raised a sage green pleated dress.
Abigail cocked her head to one side and eyed the garment.
“That would be nice, but I think it needs something. Let me look for some jewelry.”
Vanessa heard the small knock at the door and placed the dress at the foot of the bed. She left the elderly lady to her machinations.
She pulled the door and open it to a young girl in black leather pants and a kiss t-shirt. Her purple eyeliner smudged at her temples didn’t detract from the numerous piercings in her ears and face. The girl placed a folded note into Vanessa’s hand and turned on high heels to walk back along the corridor.
Vanessa closed the door, unfolded and read the note.
“Who was that dear?”
“Just a friend Aunty, don’t worry now, best to get ready for tonight.”
“It’s a bit late for visitors dear.”
Vanessa put the note in the back pocket of her jeans and walked over to the vanity where Abigail was working on her makeup. She picked up an ivory-handled comb and brushed her disheveled hair.
Abigail stiffened for the briefest moment as she focussed on the vampire in the mirror and just as quickly the dim light seemed to flee her eyes. Vanessa noticed the change in her body language but didn’t draw attention to it.
“There has been a slight change of plans Aunty. We are going to meet Terrence at the house first, ok?”
“Oh that would be lovely, I’m sick of this place, there’s nothing wrong with me you know, but those damn doctors just want to poke me and test me like some lab rat.”
Vanessa didn’t respond but instead opened a small musical box on the vanity. A miniature ballerina twirled around to a delicate tune as she picked out a pearl encrusted necklace and draped it over Abigail’s neck.
Abigail flushed and murmured her delight.
Travis pulled the last sheet from the printer and added to his dossier. His digging had finally paid off and he was eager to show his finding to the Yarl.
He closed the lid on his laptop and grabbed up the black folder.
The stone-floored corridor beyond his door was deserted enabling him
to make quick time from the tech rooms he left on the lower floors, to the sprawling overcrowded ground floor foyer.
Several girls and guys with multicolored hair, spiked neck collars, and grungy clothing lounged on an expensive leather sofa in one overly decorated corner. Vast painting and ornate figurines decorated the walls and shelves. Other vampires in evening wear with bejeweled fingers and necks talked quietly to themselves at the foot of the master staircase. A sweeping statement made from oak that could hold ten people abreast and still give way to someone willing to slide down the ballastraid.
More bodies were to be seen sitting and standing engaged with glasses full of thick red liquid, whilst servant scurried around underfoot.
Travis snuffed the few invites to join in on the festivities, although there was no reason for any such celebrations. Instead, he walked over to two large doors with iron bands and wrought iron handles. A few heads turned to watch as he pushed the door.
The blessed doors from an old Roman church in the recesses of northern Germany were a blatant paradox within the old mansion, shipped over at the mansion’s construction by the founder of the building, S.L.Jolliff. The irony never diminished any vampire who touched them.
The palm of his left hand burned from the touch of the blessed wood, the sudden pain nearly causing him to drop his dossier. The smell of burnt decaying skin cloyed his nostrils as he strode over the expansive marble tiled floor. His footfall clacked like a swan out of the water, just as out-of-place as his presence within the chamber. Many of the vampires who held higher esteem had been stood around in a quiet discussion. At the intrusive sound, they turned to see who the footfall belonged too. They all dismissed him at once to be a messenger and no one of consequence.
The Yarl’s audience paid little attention as Travis knelt at the foot of a dais. An enormous throne made from entirely human bones towered above him. The back of the chair ribbed upwards like a defiant wall. The Yarl sat on the hard throne wearing a heavy fur vest made from what looked like the fur of a white animal, the fur was long and shaggy and was probably used to seeing a lot of winters. Underneath the vest was a sleeveless blue cotton robe, the same fur on the vest wrapped around his forearm and his only hand which rested on a skull armrests.
The Yarl was already a fully grown man when he had lost his hand in a fight for the earldom of his old village. Fortune seemed to smile on him that day. A few years later he had met his sire on a raid to southern England. One bright night within a forest his brothers and sister had been slaughtered by wolves the size of bears.
The attack happened so quickly that Tyr only just managed to roll off his bedding and grab his axe before one was upon him. He had taken a large rip down his chest as the wolf had sort his throat. He had battled one-handed with the wolf as its hot breath came through snapping teeth. The weight of the creature disappeared suddenly and he had stumbled to his feet to find that it had been thrown ten feet away and had been ripped in two. The bloody and mangled carcass slowly transformed back into a human as another dark figure dressed in tartan fabric stepped out from behind a tree, his hands and face dripping with dark blood.
The Yarl looked down through his braided salt and pepper beard at the small vampire at his feet. His piercing blue eyes swept to his advisor and then back at the kneeling figure.
Constantine bedecked in the green robe of his station nodded and lifted his chin to speak.
“What is it?”
Travis was having a very hard time controlling the shaking of his legs as he stood and held out the dossier.
“My lord I have something very important to show you..you see…in…in my old life…before.. um…this.”
He gestured around the throne room.
“I worked in a department of the Vatican’s research facilities. We err…we were tasked with…err…investigating the claims of…um..Eden and the children of Eden.”
Tyr lifted the stump of his right hand and slammed it down on the skull armrest.
“Spit it out boy, you jabber like a crow feasting on the field of battle.”
Travis bowed his head and trembled slightly as the Yarl’s voice boomed off the decorative walls of the throne room. Numerous faces in vain poses looked on with unblinking eyes. The congregation, however, had fallen silent and had turned their attention to him.
“Yes my lord. You see we….err…we believed that all the children of Eden were, in fact true.”
The Yarl snorted and swatted a hand through the air. Constantine looked at the young man with a faint smile.
“Myths, no more. You bore me, be gone.”
Constantine took a few steps from his position on the right of the throne and raised a finger.
“It may be prudence to hear what he has to say, my lord.”
Tyr looked bored but waved a hand for him to continue. Travis bowed his head in gratitude.
“After we decreed that those of Adams bloodline were real, we then went on to decipher the location of Eden from the Bible and other biblical documentation. After many years of studying maps of Syria and Iraq, we eventually pinpointed what we believe was the garden of God.”
The Yarl looked slightly interested as he lifted his chin from his hand on the armrest. Travis took the silence as a good omen and hurried onwards.
“There was a story that old scholars like to tell about a young man down on his luck that had stumbled upon Eden and had found the fruit from the tree of knowledge.”
The Yarl nodded his head.
“I know this story. He found the fruit and sold it for a kingdom, he died a few days later. The sultan who had brought it again sold it to a riches sultan who wanted it for his collection. He again died a few days after the exchange. Some say that the fruit was the cause and that it’s cursed. Stories for wet nurses and children.”
Travis placed a foot on the step to the dais in excitement. His mouth agape as he nodded vigorously. The Yarl’s spear came out of nowhere and stopped sharply a few centimeters from his eyes.
Constantine took the three steps down off the dais and took the dossier from shaking hands.
“So I take it that you’ve found the fruit by the looks of these documents?”
Travis swallowed hard and looked from the spear point to Constantine as the elegant figure slowly ascend the steps and handed the folder to the Viking. Tyr pulled back the spear and it snapped in on its self, folding into two pieces. After a few moments, Tyr gave the folder back to Constantine and looked thoughtful for a while.
“So you believe the Regency had known of the fruit for generations. And that they are the one who actually has it?”
Tyr raised a hairy eyebrow, the crinkles in his forehead looked like the trenches deep on the ocean floor. Travis recovering from his brush with death had taken his foot off the step and now stood firmly planted on the marble floor.
“Yes my lord. And they are about to transport it to a new, more secure location.”
Tyr glanced at Constantine who shrugged his shoulders and folded his arms over his robes.
“What else do you know?”
Travis swallowed and pointed to the folder in Constantine’s hands.
“The legends say that if you were to eat the fruit, you would become a god.”
Tyr sat straight on the bone Thorne and stroked his long beard.