Music of Souls (Chapter 3, page 2 of 2)


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Chapter 3


"Hmph! Then you should know the only way to destroy a vampire is with a wooden stake to the heart...unless of course, it is the full moon and you happen upon a werewolf. Then it is curtains for sure... and much more gruesome." The man seemed lost in introspection, as if delivering a soliloquy.

Sarah took a timorous step forward and spilled the details of their plight in one long ramble, barely stopping for breath.

Frederick appeared to be taken aback both by the story, and the speed at which Sarah relayed it.

He rubbed the stubble on his chin. "Well, it seems you have been through quite an ordeal. I suggest you accompany me home. We will procure some proper blood, and decide what to do with you."

"Victor will be searching for us."

"Not to worry, I will send notice to the Exemplars. Once they are apprised of the situation and his location, this Victor will be dealt with quickly."

"Exemplars?"

He shook his head and turned. "Let us walk... The Exemplars rule our kind. They are fair and wise. This Victor is creating vampires without permission, a crime punishable by death. Although, I suspect, if he has turned as many humans as it seems, he is too strong to be destroyed. Our strength increases both with age and with each human we turn. This madman will be stopped...one way or another.

My wife, Marie is a nurse, able to obtain blood. You will be well fed. You should not hunt until this Victor is dealt with."

"We have been hunting here in the forest."

The kind man's face held a hint of sympathy. "I mean people, my boy, people."

"Is your wife…?"

A soft laugh escaped his throat. "Unable to utter the word, are you? Yes, Marie is a vampire, been together going on two hundred years now."

Gabriel had spoken of immortality, but Jackson had not given much thought to it, until hearing these words. Did he want to live two hundred years? Like this?

They arrived at a small cottage in a clearing. Upon entering, Frederick wrote two notes, one for the Exemplars, detailing Victor's location, and one for his wife. He then instructed his manservant to deliver them.

He clapped his hands together, lifted a decanter of liquor and began pouring. "I am sorry there is no blood to offer, Marie will bring plenty home upon receiving my message."

When he began pouring the second glass, both guests said, "None for me, thank you."

Frederick continued pouring. "This will warm your blood, best get used to the taste. You will be drinking a lot once you feel the effect."

With the first sip, heat invaded the newborns' throats and bellies. It then radiated to the far reaches of their extremities. They had become accustomed to the constant chill in their bones, yet this newfound warmth elicited a welcome sensation that not only rid the cold, but also calmed the incessant craving for blood.

Sarah held a hand to her chest. "Oh my, that feels wonderful."

Frederick found suitable clothing for his guests and in turn, they each retired to the one bedchamber of the cottage to wash and change.

Marie arrived home with a box containing blood-filled vials. Frederick made introductions after embracing and kissing his wife. Then the beautiful woman, with soft almond shaped eyes waved her hand at the box. "Drink children, you must be near starvation, animal blood is no way to live." Marie and Frederick consumed two vials each, leaving the majority, which Sarah and Jackson greedily consumed. The whole time, Jackson's eyes moved from one vampire to the other. They seemed so… human.

The foursome sat, drinking whiskey, chatting as any normal adults would. Jackson felt awed by the love Marie and Frederick shared. They were cultured, not at all savages, and for the first time since his capture, he held a glimmer of hope that he might find some semblance of happiness again.

They talked through the night, the hosts educating the new vampires, and the guests hungry for stories of the couple's life; stories that would provide comfort during difficult times.

The manservant returned mid-morning with a letter. A frown rolled over Frederick's face as he read, then he slowly folded it. "The Exemplars are demanding an immediate audience. They have been searching for this Victor for some time now." The concern on Frederick's face gave Jackson pause. He instinctively wished to question the validity of the Exemplars and their power, yet felt so inadequate in his comprehension that he decided to trust Frederick implicitly, and prayed the vampire couple's sincerity was genuine.

Their travel lasted well into the evening with limited conversation. Frederick seemed guarded and pensive. Questions bombarded Jackson's thoughts, yet he sensed if he were too bothersome, their chaperone might shut down.

"Where are we going?"

"To the Norwood Catacombs, there is a hidden chamber where the Exemplars meet."

"How many comprise the group?"

"Six reside in London. I do not know how many around the world, hundreds, perhaps thousands. Legend says they occasionally all meet, I have no knowledge of where or when."

"How will they deal with Victor?"

"That depends on his strength. If they are unable to destroy him, they will assign soldiers to shadow his every move to prevent him from creating more vampires."

"And those he has already created?"

Frederick turned his head away to gaze outside the coach; the rictus on his face explained his reticence to speak. Jackson leaned forward and touched his knee.

"Are we to be destroyed?"

Sarah gasped and clasped her hands to her chest as Frederick lowered his head. "I pray they will have mercy on you for your assistance."

The gravity of the situation encompassed Jackson, his breath became shallow. "And if they are not prone to mercy?"

"We have no reason to believe they will destroy you. If they do, death will be swift and painless."

The remainder of the trip passed in silence. Jackson held Sarah's hand as a gesture of comfort. Their only hope lay in the hands of the Exemplars. No other option existed.

When they arrived at the catacombs, Frederick took the lantern from his manservant and instructed him to wait. They passed through the tunnels and arrived at a large chamber where a dais stood on the far wall with six men seated behind it. All the men were attractive, yet brooding and dark, not unlike Victor. They wore black robes and sat stone like, until the vampire in the center rose, and motioned for the three to come closer.

His voice echoed a graveled rasp, "Tell us all you know of Victor."

Jackson spoke, relating all he deemed pertinent. When he finished, the Exemplar approached them and scrutinized the two young vampires. The seconds ticked as they braced for the worse. Jackson managed to stand tall and keep eye contact, although, he was a breath away from begging for their lives.

"We are grateful for your service, you may go. Speak not of this."

As the two stepped back in retreat, Frederick spoke, "Your Excellence, if Victor cannot be destroyed, he will surely exact vengeance on this pair. I would ask that you bestow defenses upon them to thwart his inevitable attack."

The Exemplar folded his hands, contemplating the request, then turned and walked to the front of the dais. He conferred with the other five, then left the chamber for a few moments, returning with a goblet and a knife.

He placed the goblet in front of each vampire, handing them the knife. In turn, all six cut into the palm of their hands and collected their blood.

Sarah and Jackson were instructed to drink from the goblet.

"With this fortification, Victor will have no power over you. You will be immune to his attack."

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