Shane lay awake in the room he had been given at Duncan's house. After they had finished listening to Runi's story, it was his mother's turn to start stories. Shane watched as Runi grew more and more shocked as his mother explained that his family had always been there waiting and watching for him. When he would wake, they would spring into action to help him out how ever they could. However, they always respected the decision he made all those years ago, so they never reveled themselves. However, Runi could not escape the fact that he was the head of their family, and they would also be there to help.
The entire time, Shane and Ramon sat there holding hands, with their jaws on the floor more often then not. Finally, after Runi had been holding the wrapped bundle in his hands for over an hour, Hope finally got him to open it up and look inside.
Runi gasped again as he saw what it was, a large book. On the front was a symbol that Shane didn't recognize, but Runi quickly told everyone that is was the symbol that represented him back when he was still alive, and then for the time after he was turned, it meant 'consort to the Pharaoh'.
As he started to carefully flip the pages, Shane's mom explained more about it. The book had been started by his oldest brother, shortly after he started to learn to write. It detailed how Tumani's decision to attend to the Pharaoh had elevated their entire family from very lower farmer class, to a much higher merchant class.
The Pharaoh himself ordered their elevation, paid for all of the children to go to school, and then made sure the eldest brother had enough gold to start a merchant business. Their lives went from working fourteen or more hours in the fields, and wondering if they would have enough to eat for their one meal a day, to being able to live comfortably. The family never forgot what Tumani did for them, and have been by his side ever since.
Shane had a feeling he knew what was coming, and he was right. It was at that point that Hope informed Runi that she was descendant of the direct line of his eldest brother. The book chronicled all that was done over the years to aid Runi.
When it was getting closer to sun rise, Runi finally offered to have all of Shane's family, including Ramon come and stay with them for a while. After Shane's parents accepted, Runi did something that shocked Shane.
He walked over to Roger and Hank, spoke directly to them. "I understand that you and those like you have not been given many opportunities. Knowing this, I would like to offer all of those who look to you a spot in my House. If you are agreeable, I would ask that you and yours come out to the house that we are staying in, and make it your home as well. I would ask that you help protect it, but that is all I will ask of you. If any of you wish to join us, then that is a possibility, but all I am asking for right now is that you accept it as a place to call your own." They would have been stupid to refuse, and they proved to Shane that they were not.
So now, Shane found himself laying in bed next to Ramon, he knew it was the middle of the day because of the clock on the nightstand, but the room had very thick dark covers that slide down over the windows when the sun started to rise. He was thinking about everything he had seen and learned over the last few days. He shook his head once more thinking about how much things can change in just a few short days.
But his real issue was something was forming in his mind, thoughts about the future and what it held for him. And not just for him, but for him and Ramon. He knew he was only thirteen and Ramon fourteen, but he knew he loved the older boy. Nothing could deny that.
Finally, after laying awake in bed for more then an hour, Shane got up, got dressed, and stepped into the other room. Making sure the door was shut securely, so no sun light could get in, Shane then moved out into the main hallway.
He found himself going into the kitchen area and since no one was there, he poured himself a glass of water, then walked out the side door. Seeing his mother out on the porch Shane stopped for a moment, not sure if he wanted to be there with her. He still loved his mother, but now he knew that she was more than just a stay at home, June Cleaver, type of person. He now knew that she was someone rather powerful in an underworld society that part of him is still saying shouldn't exist.
When she saw him standing there, she opened her arms, and suddenly all the apprehension drained from his body and he ran to her arms. For many moments neither one spoke as Shane simply soaked up the love that his mother sent. Finally she pushed him back and kissed him on the top of his head. She smiled at him, and sat him down on the chair, then moved around and sat opposite of him at the small picnic table. She stared at him for a few moments before she sighed deeply. "I know this wasn't how you would have wanted to find out about the family secrets, but we didn't mean to hurt you like this. We were planning on telling you when you turned sixteen, just like we did with your brother."
"Why wait?" Shane asked which caused his mother to smile warmly.
"Would you have believed us?"
"Hell, I still don't know if I do." Shane said as he looked out over the well manicured lawn of Duncan's new house.
"It's a lot to take in, especially with the return of Runihora." Hope said in a somewhat distant voice.
"Is he really like six THOUSAND years old?" Shane asked with an air of disbelief. Hope only nodded to which Shane could only say "wow." After a few moments of thought, he asked his next question. "And we're really related to him?"
"Yes. His eldest brother was your great grandfather... many times removed of course." She replied with a grin.
He cracked a smile which was what she was going for. But then his face turned serious. "So what's gonna happen now? You know, with us... with Ramon... well... everything?"
"I don't really know." Hope replied honestly. "I can assure you Ramon will be okay. As for the rest, well, I have no idea. Our family has been preparing for this day for thousands of years, but we never had any idea what would happen after, just that something big was to come. What that means, I couldn't begin to guess." She reached over and took his hands in her own, and looked deep into his eyes. "You are so much like me it's not even funny. I can guess what is going through your mind right now, even if you don't realize it yet. I want you to know one thing above all else. You're father and I love you. No matter what the future might hold, know that we love you, and will support you as best we can. Okay?"
He looked at her strangely, but simply nodded his head in understanding. Then she grinned, turned him around, towards the door, and pushed him away. "I hear there's a full sized pool with diving boards in the back of the house. Why don't you go check it out?"
He turned his head to look at her, his eyes wide with wonder. "Really?"
"Yup. Go have fun!" She laughed as he turned, hugged her hard for a brief moment, then ran into the house, her sad smile following him in.
Shane had no idea how long he had been playing in the pool, but he knew it was the best time he'd had in a while. Not even his school had diving boards like this. Who ever built this thing built it so that the Olympics could swim here if they wanted.
He'd been just lounging in the water for a while when he felt, rather then heard, someone join him in the water. When he looked he saw the red head that he'd met last night. It took him a moment, but then his name came back to him, Duncan.
"Hey!" Duncan called out as he swam over to where Shane was standing. "Mind if I join you?"
Shane shrugged, "It's your pool."
Duncan stopped, and looked around. "Yeah.... I'm still trying to get used to that."
Before more could be said, more people came out of the changing room, to join them. Many of them, Shane had never met before, but his entire face lit up when he saw Ramon walk out. He was wearing baggy board shorts, with his hair tied back in the pony tail that Shane loved so much. Ramon dove in the water, and swam over to where Shane was standing. As soon as he surfaced, Shane grabbed him in a hug, and proceeded to lay a massive kiss on the slightly taller boy's open mouth.
Ramon was shocked, but quickly recovered enough to be an active participant for several moments of heavy duty making out. Finally though, they did break apart, only to have almost fifteen people start to cheer and applaud. Shane was blushing hard, but it got even worse when someone shouted out, "God DAMN!!!! Okay.. who else got hard watching that?!"
Shane was about to die from embarrassment, but then it got worse, as someone shouted out in reply. "Hell, I'm straight as an arrow, but FUCK that was hot!"
"What did we miss?" Runi asked as he walked in with Colt by his side. Shane was shocked to see the small boy was completely naked, although he had to reconsider calling him a 'small' boy. While his body looked like it might have been ten, his penis was definitely an older boy's. "Damn man! Don't you have ANY modesty?" One of the Hawks cried out with mirth.
"No." Runi answered seriously. "Humans hadn't invented that stupidity when I was still alive." No one had anything they could say to respond to that, and Runi simply grinned as he grabbed Colt's hand, ran and jumped into the pool.
Shane looked around at all the smiling kids, knowing that almost all of them were vampires. That was still something that he needed to get used to. Off to one side, a large man, Lugh was his name, was playing with three boys, two twins about fourteen, and one boy about ten. Shane couldn't help but smile as he heard the youngest boy squealing in laughter as Lugh tossed him high in the air, only to come splashing back down.
His smile faded though when his eyes fell on another small boy who was simply sitting at the edge of the pool with his feet in the water. It wasn't that Shane was upset that the boy was there, but he saw the look of sadness on the boy's face, and couldn't help himself. With out saying a word to Ramon, Shane kicked off the wall, and swam over to Hank.
"Come on in Hank, the waters great." Shane said as he floated there, treading water.
"Nah, that's okay." The younger looking boy said with a sad smile. "You guys have fun, I'm okay out here."
Shane moved to the wall of the pool, then pulled himself up and out, so he was sitting next to Hank. "You know, I know this kid from school who just moved here from the outskirts of Phoenix Arizona. Imagine how surprised I was to find out the boy had never learned how to swim. Being the human fish that I am, I just couldn't let that stand, so... over the next few weeks, I taught him how to swim. Now, he can't stay away from water."
Shane looked over at Hank and smiled. "I guess what I'm saying is, there's nothing wrong with not knowing how to swim, the problem is not fixing it." He jumped to his feet, and offered his hand down to the physically ten year old boy. "Come on, there's no time like the present to learn."
Hank looked at the extended hand, then up to Shane. Finally with a smile he grabbed Shane's hand, allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, then they walked to the shallow end to start Hank's instruction.
Several hours later, Hank was sitting alone on the back patio starring up at the stars. As hard as he tried, he could not remember what the sun felt like on his face, or even what things looked like when they were lit by the sun instead of moon light or artificial light.
Here he was, on the eve of the anniversary of his thirty years on this planet, yet two thirds of those were spent in darkness. Tears fell from his eyes as yet again he struggled to remember what his mother looked like. What it felt like to be held in her arms. What it felt like to play in the back yard with his toy trucks.
Part of him cried for those days to come back, and part of him knew that no matter what happened, he would never be able to go back there.
For the last twenty years he had been chasing the bastard that stole his life, stole his innocence, stole everything from him. But know that he had, and the bastard was dead, he really had no clue what to do. The worst part for him was knowing that no mater what happened, the Bastard was still around. Even though he was dead... dead dead... the bastard's blood was still flowing through his veins. He was the Bastards Childe, and nothing could change that. He started thinking yet again what it might feel like to feel the sun on his face one last time. Now that the bastard was dead, did he really have anything left to keep him around?
"You have a childe now." Runi said from behind him, causing the young boy to jump out of his chair, and spin around ready to attack. Runi simply stood there with a soft smile on his face. "Obviously you are not ready for a sun quest if you are still willing to fight."
Hank relaxed, then slumped back down into his chair. "What does it matter? Why do you care anyways?"
Runi moved to sit down opposite Hank and caught the boys eyes with his own. "It matters because you still haven't figured it out... you have a childe that will forever look to you."
"He's not gonna look to me for anything. I should never have turned him, now he's got the same taint I do." Hank said, his voice full of misery.
Runi stood there for a moment, nodding his head in understanding. "Now I finally get it."
"Get what?" Hank asked as he looked up. Runi could tell that boy was trying desperately to not cry.
"Why you hurt so much right now." Hank was about to interrupt him when he suddenly stopped. "This is a time you should listen." Runi said as he released the control he had on the small boys body. With a nod, Hank sat there to listen.
"You are one of the few that had always been able to feel their sire. Deep down inside you always 'knew' what he was doing. It's a bond that is sometimes formed between childe and sire. From what I have heard, it usually comes when the childe loves the sire with every part of their being." Runi knew he was hitting the right track as the tears started to pour from Hank's eyes.
"He... he said he loved me." Hank said through his tears. He didn't know who, but someone wrapped their arms around him, what surprised even Hank was that he didn't fight the arms, but melted into them as he cried.
"There are few worse than someone who will toy with the emotions of another. When he turned you, it was done in love. But not the love of a sire to his Childe, but the love of a Childe for his sire. However, he betrayed that love. Betrayed all that he meant to you, and because of the bond you had, he was always there. Deep down inside you could never get away from him, because you loved him. And now you are worried that you will become just like him. You made a Childe, and now you are worried that you will betray him, like your sire betrayed you." Runi spoke softly, from a few feet away. When Hank simply nodded his agreement with what Runi said, he took a step forward and reached around the arms that held Hank tight, and lifted the boy's head so that their eyes met.
"The bond that was created between you and your Sire will always be a part of you, even though he has met his final death. Nothing can break it but time. However, as I have done for Duncan, another childe of your sire, I will offer to you. You are old enough to not need your sire's guidance, but if it is something you would like, I will be honored to perform the ceremony which would make you MY childe."
"Really?!" Hank asked his voice full of surprise. "You would do that? Why?"
Hank still hadn't realized that it was Hope that had her arms wrapped around him hugging him close, but he did when she started to answer. "Because family is the most important thing to Runi. However, you need to understand he has a different feeling towards family than people from this time. You helped to save Ramon, who is Shane's boyfriend, and our adopted son. That makes Ramon family to Runi. Because you helped to save him, and in that attempt had to turn him, you became family to him. To Runi, that means you are just as much family to him as I am." Hank looked from Hope to Runi who just smiled and nodded. "That means that if you'll accept me." Hope said, then paused before she was sure that she had his full attention. "If you'll have me, I'd like to be your mother."
"But.. I'm older then you are." Hank said as his eyes fell to the ground.
"I doubt that, and anyways, there is something I have learned about vampires. Just because you may have lived more years than your body says, you are still very much the age you were when you got turned. Your emotions are still that of a ten year old boy. Some of your thoughts and desires may have grown up, built the base instincts that a boy your age would have. They are still very much there, no matter how hard you have fought against them. So even though you may have experienced thirty years of life, in many ways you're still very much a ten year old boy who desires a mother. If you want, I will do that for you, and anyone else that wants it."
Hank was speechless. He honestly didn't know what to say. He had thought he was over the want or need for a mother, but deep down inside he knew what she said was true. He'd never met anyone that was turned as young as he was, so he had never had anyone he could 'compare notes' with. Yet everything that Hope said made a lot of sense to him.
Finally, he looked up into her eyes again, and nodded, before melting into her strong arms. After several minutes, he looked back to Runi who had stood there patiently and asked. "So what do we have to do, for you to become my sire."
Runi took a deep breath as he moved over and sat down at the table across from Hank. Hank took the hint, and disentangled himself from Hope, then sat up and regarded Runi, waiting to see what the old vampire had to say. "First off, the ritual I did with Duncan was slightly different than the proper one, but at the time, it was the only way I could do it. He was too far gone into the hunger for me to do it right. But, IF you agree to it, it will be done right." Runi took a moment to gather his thoughts before he continued.
"The reason I said if, is because it has to be your decision once you know the full extent of the ritual. I will be honest, I have never performed this one myself before Duncan, and I said, that was rushed. However, you need to know, there is a danger to the ritual, which is why you need to know all about it before you decide. Okay?"
Hank simply nodded and Runi could tell that he was afraid, but he also wanted to get rid of the taint of his Sire. Runi finally made the decision that if Hank wanted it, and was willing to go through with it, he would do it. He knew he could talk the boy out of it if he wanted to, but if Hank was willing to risk it, then so was Runi. "Every time you feed, you add to what you already have. That means that there will always be some of your sire's blood in you. The only way to completely remove your sire from you is to remove all of his blood from your body." Both Hope and Hank gasped at the same time.
"Won't that kill him?" Hope asked in horror.
"Yes. it would, Which is why this is a dangerous ritual." Runi then looked back into Hank's eyes as he continued to explain. "Your blood will be drained from your body to the point that you feel your life slipping from your grasp, and just as you are about to take your last breath, as the last drops of tainted blood are drawn from your body, you will take your complete fill from me. I will not stop you, no matter how much you drink, because you will stop when you no longer feel the taint of your former sire inside of you. I don't care how many humans need to die to make it so you get your fill, I will keep draining human after human to make sure you get every drop you want."
"Know this though, it will be up to you when you start to drink from me. It will be your choice when you feel he is fully out of you. When you can no longer feel him inside of you, that's when you start to drink. You only get one shot at this. So what you need to do is go, be by yourself for a bit, and really think on this. You need to decide if the risk is worth it. You could easily die during this. Is the chance of getting rid of the taint of your sire worth it? Only you can decide that."
With that, Runi stood up, walked over to Hope, and held out his hand. She took it, but before she got up, she whispered into Hank's ear. "No matter what you decide I will support you, and if you do decide to do this, no matter what happens, I will be there for you the entire time." Hank looked up and with tears in his eyes, he nodded, then wrapped his arms around her. Then Hope stood up, and walked back into the house with Runi.
Shane had watched the entire conversation with fascination. He kinda figured that vampires had special powers, but hearing about the bond between a childe and sire was still surprising. He stood there thinking about what it means to be someone who would be trapped in the body of a ten year old for so long. Could it really be true that no matter how long you live, if your body is still that of a ten year old, you will always 'think' and have the 'needs' of a ten year old? Would Ramon be like that too?
"Hey Hank? Can I talk to you for a minute?" Shane heard himself ask before he even realized it.
Hank quickly rubbed the tears away before he looked over at Shane. Even though he wasn't really in the mood, he forced himself to put on a fake smile and say, "sure."
Shane smiled slightly and as he sat down he said. "Thanks, I know you don't really want to, so thank you for doing it anyways."
Hank just shrugged and waited for Shane to ask his questions. Finally, after screwing up his courage, Shane began to ask the questions that were on his mind. "Is it true what mom said about always being stuck in a ten year old body, emotionally?"
At first Hank's eyes flashed angrily at figuring out that Shane had heard their entire conversation, but that quickly faded. Shane did have a right to know. After taking a calming breath, Hank started to nod. "Yeah, I guess it is. I mean I didn't really wanna believe it, but yeah it's true."
"So Ramon is always gonna be stuck at fourteen?" Shane asked seriously.
"In some ways, yes. Until the day he dies his final death, he will be very much like a fourteen year old." Hank stated, just as serious as he could.
"Do you think.... well... that he'll still like me when I'm old, and he's still a kid?" Shane asked, and Hank knew exactly what was troubling the boy.
"I don't know," Hank said seriously. "I don't think anyone can truly know what the future will bring. But I will say this, wouldn't you have these same questions even if Ramon hadn't been turned? Who knows where you guys would have been in twenty years even if Ramon hadn't been turned."
"I guess your right," Shane said with his eyes on the table. Hank waited almost a minute before Shane asked his next question, which caught Hank totally off guard. "Did it hurt? To be changed?"
Hank sighed and got a distant look on his face. "In a way it did, but then again, I don't remember the pain." Hank got a devilish look on his face. "Let me ask you this. Have you had Ramon inside of you?"
Shane blushed hard, but nodded hesitantly. "Did it hurt the first time?"
Shane was still blushing, he looked around to make sure no one else was around. "A bit, but he was real gentle about it, and after a bit the pain went away."
Hank sighed at the blissful blush on the young boy's face. "Trust me, I know what you mean, the first time... well it can be magical if done with the right person. The Change is a lot like that. If the person doing it is gentle, then it's not too bad. Especially with the fact that the first change must be done during the act of sex, it can be very pleasurable for the one being changed."
This caused Shane to really blush hard. "You mean that the only way to be changed is... during sex?" To which Hank just grinned as he nodded.
"But... but... you weren't having sex with Ramon when... you changed him." Shane said totally confused.
"You're right. I don't really know all of the science behind it, but the change comes as a reaction between the blood and hormones that are released during sex. While I wasn't the one that was having sex with Ramon, someone was, and when I turned him, the hormones were still flowing in what little blood he had left." Hank said, worried that he might know where this was going.
"So basically, if you were to change someone normally, you would have sex with them, then at some point, bite their neck, and suck all the blood out. Then when it's almost all gone, they drink your blood?" Shane asked trying to get a better grasp on how this worked.
"Well, cutting down to the most basic, yes. There's a lot of variation depending on who is doing it, but for the most part, yes." Hank said trying not to commit to anything.
"That's not how it works in the movies." Shane muttered to himself, causing Hank to sigh out loud. "WHAT?!" Shane asked with indigence, but a smile as well.
"Never mind..." Hank said with a grin, then leaned forward. "However, I can tell you most of the shit they put into books is just that... shit. Personally, I love the smell of garlic, holy water is what I like to give myself an enema with, and I got no trouble with walking across running water. And I just can't wait till I can take some idiots cross away from them, and shove it up their ass.... sideways." By the time Hank was done, Shane was almost rolling on the floor.
"But seriously," Hank said once Shane had calmed down. "Don't rush into anything right now. Ramon will be fine, but I can tell you he will need you, need to know that you still love him. I know it's a lot to ask, but I can promise you this next few months is going to be very hard on him. You really need to be there for him, and be strong."
"I will be." Shane said with as much conviction as he could muster. "But he's gonna need you to." He said turning things back onto Hank.
For his part, Hank just nodded. "Yeah, I know, and I'll be here for him."
Shane nodded while standing. He held out his hand for Hank to shake, however when the smaller boy took it, he simply pulled Shane into a tight hug.
"That's a nice thing your doing for him, but... I mean does it really work?" Colt asked Runi after the smaller boy explained what he had offered to Hank.
Runi nodded seriously. "Yes, I have only seen it done twice. One time succeeded, the other time did not."
Colt's eyes opened wide in shock. "Is it really that dangerous?"
"YES!" Runi said emphatically. "The one who is being 'reborn' is literally that. With what I am offering, it will completely erase his sire's bond, and replace it with mine. To do it, he needs to replace every bit of his sire's essence with mine. I know you don't realize it, but it will take SEVERAL humans that I need to drain, convert their blood, and give it to Hank, all the while he is trying to drain me dry. He is going to go through several times his own blood supply to completely wipe out his sire's essence. Then once it's almost gone, it will try and redouble the attack, because that is what this is. A fight between my blood and the blood of his Sire.
"The only reason this is even possible is because the vampire's of this time, either don't know how to properly turn someone, or don't bother to take the time and effort to do it right."
"What do you mean?" Colt asked shocked at what he was hearing.
"It's simple. When someone turns a vampire they should allow the turned to drink his or her fill. Which means they would need to have a blood source handy to refill their own supply as it is being taken by the one they are turning. This is one of the reasons that you didn't normally have those who were turned against their will. It's something that was already rare outside of Egypt in my time. Over the centuries I have watched as vampire culture slowly, but surely, lost more and more of their ritual. Honestly, most seem to have lost so much of their own culture that they have fallen into depravity."
"Why?" Colt asked now completely entranced by this 'history' lesson.
Runi sighed as he pulled his long braid from behind him, and started to take the braid out. "I could probably go into a several hours long explanation of the decline of the Vampire culture, but that really wouldn't do you much good. To break it down as much as I can, I would have to say it came from the Vampires trying to gain and assert power. The best way that some of them thought to do so was to make humans afraid of us."
"So you mean that instead of trying to work with humans, they did what they could to make humans afraid of Vampires?" Colt asked.
"Yes. The reason was that they thought that if the humans were too afraid to work against a vampire, they would fall in line. The worst thing that could happen to a human that actively worked against a vampire was to have their family turned, and released. Since no one taught them what they had to do, they basically became ravenous monsters. This happened for so long, that the half way turn that they used to make the vampires became the normal."
"But, I don't understand, whats the difference between the half way turned, and the 'right way'." Colt said as he watched Runi start to re braid his very long hair. "Actually Runi, leave it loose."
"Huh?" Runi asked not knowing what it was Colt was talking about.
"Your hair. Leave it loose. It looks better that way." Colt said with a smile.
Runi smiled and nodded as he heard a few giggles coming for the other side of the room. Looking over, Runi and Colt saw that many of the people living there were watching and listening in on the conversation. Lugh smiled as he spoke. "Keep going, we're enjoying the history lesson. And he's right, the hair loose... it looks better."
Runi smiled as he stood up, and went into teach mode, his hair swaying back and forth behind him. "Right now, when a vampire gets turned, they get drained of most of their blood, and then they are given some back from their sire. But that's not the way it should be. That's part of the reason why the modern vampire only lasts a couple hundred years for the most part. Of course, some have a strong enough will to go longer, but that's the exception not the rule."
"So what is the normal way to turn someone?" One of the rescued vampires asked.
"Well, first off, in order to do it right, it can not be against the one being turned's will. They have to be just as much a part of it as the one doing the turning. Second, there needs to be an ample blood supply on hand. Because, when the human gets drained, they literally get drained. Then the vampire that is turning them needs to give them as much blood as the one being turned wants. You have to replace their entire blood supply and then some. So you need to have blood ready for the one doing the turning or else the new fledgling will kill his sire."
"So your saying that we are somehow lesser vampires than the ones from when you were turned?" Samson asked in his slow deep rumble.
Runi was trying to pick his words carefully when Colt actually spoke up. "Well, sort of, yeah." All eyes fell on Colt, although he didn't seem to notice. "When you look at the fact that vampires from this time frame don't live nearly as long, their extras are not as strong, and are harder to learn. The mind itself is weaker, it's not set up to handle as much as someone who was turned properly. There's a few other things, but does that make sense?"
When Colt was done speaking, he looked around and saw everyone starring at him. Finally his eyes fell to Runi who was looking at him with a smile. "You're right of course, but... may I continue?"
Colt blushed heavily, which caused everyone in the room to break out laughing. "Go ahead..."
Runi then walked up to Hank and spoke directly to him. "This ritual is very dangerous, I want to make sure you understand that fully before you agree. You are going to be re-born. It will almost be like you were turned for the first time again. You will sleep for three days, you will awaken just like you did the first time. You will still have all your memories, and things that you have learned, so it is not like you will have to re-learn that, but things will be a bit different for you."
"How so?" Hank asked, although Runi could see in the boy's eyes that his decision had been made.
"Well, for one, you will be my blood Childe. In practicality, there is no difference between you and Duncan. But it will be MY blood running through your veins, which means you will have access to things that Duncan does not. I will insist that you follow me as a new fledgling would his Sire, but that will not be as long as it would be for someone I turned from a human. Does this make sense?"
Runi had caught Hank's eyes and held them while he was telling Hank that he would have to follow Runi's lead as a fledgling Childe would have to follow their Sire. He wasn't sure how Hank would take that, but watching the boy's eyes, Runi knew that Hank was willing to do that, if that was a condition Runi was putting on. It was the final test that Hank had to pass before Runi would allow it.
"I can tell by the look in your eyes, that you have made your decision. However, before your family here, I wish to make it official. Hank, knowing how dangerous the Re-Turning is, do you wish to proceed?" Runi asked, again keeping eye contact with the boy.
"Yes." Hank simply said, not backing down, even though he was nervous.
"Will you swear, upon your blood, that you will follow the requirements that I have laid before you? That you will follow me as a fledgling Childe would follow his sire until such a time I deem you worthy to leave the protection of my wing?" Runi asked, intentionally make it sound worse than it would be.
Hank only hesitated for a moment before replying. "Yes, I do."
Runi then turned towards the rest of the vampires assembled. "In order for me to do this, I will need help. As you heard earlier, near the end, the very essence of Hank's sire will re-double it's efforts to hold onto the bond. The final bit that is needed to break that bond is the blood of other vampires. When I have finished draining the humans that are there, I will need blood of those who are already turned to darkness. This is not with out risk for those involved. However, I can not tell you what those risks include, nor what they will be when the ritual is happening, because I do not know."
Runi put his hands on Hank's shoulders. "I will need at least five of you, but I would like ten. Will any of you step up to help?"
Before Runi could even finish his statement, every vampire in the room, including Ramon and Duncan stepped forward or raised their hands. The quiet of the room was only interrupted by Hank's sudden sobs. He had never had anyone that was willing to do something like this for him, and for once, he was really beginning to remember what family was all about.
Runi turned him around, and gently wiped his tears away. "You're family has spoken, they will stand by your side. Once more... do you wish to do this?" Runi knew the answer, and when Hank nodded, Runi simply nodded sharply once. "Then prepare yourself how ever you wish, for tomorrow at midnight, you will be re-born." Runi announced, then turned and walked from the room.
The next night, people were running all over the place, trying to get everything ready for the ritual that was going to happen in a few short hours. No one had seen Runi since the night before, only Colt knew that he had left as early as he could and was 'preparing' the area for the ritual. He had taken Shane, Duncan, and Ramon with him.
Lugh had taken his twin sons out to 'learn how to hunt'. However, they were also getting the humans that Runi would need for the ceremony. Colt had heard him tell the boys that he would teach them 'how to figure out who were the scum that didn't deserve to live anymore', and how to 'properly go about feeding on them.' Shane had to laugh when Marco ran out of his room all dressed to go out, fighting staff held in his small ten year old hands. Shane saw Lugh melt with his love for the boy, but he still had to tell Marco that he couldn't go on this one. The boy tried to protest, but Hope quickly stepped in, and asked Marco to stay behind and help 'protect' the house. With a gleam in his eyes, he accepted and went off with his new 'mom'.
Hank had to figure out which ten members of his new family he wanted there to take part in the ceremony. Obviously Roger was the first one who he asked, and Roger agreed before Hank could fully ask him. Runi had made it very clear that Hank had to choose who he wanted, because while Runi would be his sire, he would always carry a bit of those vampires with him for the rest of his life.
Around eleven Runi went searching for Hank, and finally found him sitting at one of the outside tables staring off into the distance. "It's not too late to change your mind." Runi said in a soft voice as he, too, sat down.
Hank looked over and shook his head. "No, I have to do this. Honestly, if this doesn't work... well... I think I would have to watch the sun rise. I just can't bare it anymore."
"Okay. There's a few things that you are going to need to do to get ready for the ceremony, including a full cleansing of your body. It is customary for someone to help you with this. Usually it is a close family member, mother, father, brother. Or a close friend. Do you have anyone in mind?"
"Do you think Hope would do it?" Hank asked shyly.
"Only if you call me mom," they heard from behind them, and Runi couldn't help but grin.
Hank spun around blushing madly. Hope simply walked over and sat next to the small boy, taking him in her arms. "It's okay Hank, it would be an honor to help you prepare for this. And don't worry about me seeing you naked, I've raised two boys. Three if you count their father."
Even though he was still blushing, Hank melted into Hope's embrace and silently cried. Runi took a few moments to mentally tell Hope what Hank needed to do, and got a simple nod from her before she led the boy off.
Runi was about to head back to the clearing that he was using for the ritual when he spotted Lugh and his twins heading his way. When they got close, Lugh spoke softly to Runi. "Will six good sized guys be enough?"
Runi thought for a moment, then nodded. "That will be enough. Let me show you where to bring them."
'Is this really worth it?' I asked myself as Hope... I mean mom, led me into the bathroom.
She shut the door, then I felt myself being turned around towards her. "Are you sure you want to go through this? I mean I am sure there is another way." I knew what she was doing, but how could I make her understand?
"No, there isn't. There's a taint inside of me, I feel it... It's evil. I don't know how to say it any other way than that. I mean I don't really understand it, but... well." I tried to fight back the tears, but I knew they were coming out anyways. 'Dammit, I haven't cried this much in the last twenty years, what the fuck is going on with me?!'
"How can I make you understand?" I asked out loud as I sat down on the edge of the bathtub. "Even though I know he's dead, it's like he's there, just around the corner, calling me. Tempting me to do the things that he had done. To take up the mantle that he had passed on to me. I can't handle it... It's like I'm going insane. Please, I don't want to live like this anymore... I won't... I can't!"
The last part I barely got out, as I stared at the floor in shame. There had to be something wrong with me to have the feelings that I do. I felt my head being raised and saw Hope squatting on the floor in front of me. "There is nothing wrong with you Hank. Just get that thought out of your head right now. I saw it in the way you helped Ramon, and how you have acted over the last few days." She pulled me to my feet, then started to take my shirt off.
"Someone who was full of evil like you are thinking would not have done what you have. We'll get you through this thing tonight, and then you will see that you really are a good person." Oh hell... Here come the tears again.
Nothing much registered until sometime later. Not sure how I got here, but I found myself wearing nothing but a white robe, and walking in the woods. Up ahead I can see fire light and make out a bunch of people. When we rounded a corner, I saw almost everyone that lived at the house lining the pathway. All of them also wearing either brown or black robes.
They were all smiling, and wishing me well. Hhonestly, I'm so focused on what is coming up, I doubt I would be able to remember anything they are saying in a few minutes, but it does feel nice to know that my friends, my family were there to encourage me.
Suddenly I was in the clearing. There was a large stone slab in the middle of ten burning torches, next to each torch was one of the people I had asked to stand with me. Next to the stone alter were six tall stakes driven deeply into the ground. Bound to each was a large human male, gagged and watching everything with wide eyed terror.
Standing in front of the path way that lead into the circle was Shane and Ramon. I had asked Ramon to stand in the circle, but we had to check with Runi because Ramon wasn't sure if he would be allowed, since he'd been a vampire for such a short time. Thankfully Runi had said that if I had wanted him there, then he should be there.
Shane walked up to me, and pulled me into a hug. "I can't be here when the ceremony is happening cause Runi says it's too dangerous, but I wanted you to know that I would be here if I could."
"Thanks," was all I could really make out, and he just stepped back and grinned.
"Hey, that's what a bigger, yet younger brother is for, right?"
This is starting to really get to me, I've gone so long, and had gotten used to not having a family, to all of a sudden have this many people telling me that they are family, and now brothers... 'shut those thoughts out Hank, you need to deal with whats happening'.
Shane stepped out of the way and there was Runi standing next to the stone alter, wearing a blood red robe, gold trimmed and had a bunch of different talismans hanging from around his neck, wrists, and other places.
Hope stopped me just outside the circle, and we waited for a few moments in silence. Finally, Runi raised his arms high and spoke. "Who is this that is being brought before this circle?" He stared right at us as he let his arms drop.
I had no idea what was going on, but thankfully Hope did as she took a slight step forward and replied. "I bring forward a child known to his family simply as Hank."
Runi nodded seriously then asked, "And why do you bring him before me?"
Hope again seemed to know the proper response. "We stand before you in hopes that you will bring him into the fold of your family, to make him your Childe."
"Who are you to ask such a thing from one of the Night Walkers, Human?" Runi asked in a cold voice.
I was about to say something but Hope spoke before I could. "I am his mother. I am the one who knows that he needs this from you, and that you need him as well."
My heart got warmed when I heard her say she was my mother, but I was still trying to figure out what was going on here.
"I need him?!" Runi exclaimed loudly. "I am Runihora, I am the Destroyer, I am The Defender of the Fire of Egypt, The Sentinel of Anubis, and Protector of the Dead. I am Tyranny's Executioner, and The Cleansing Fire of Night, why would I need him?!"
"Because he is one of the Young Hawks. You need him to help you defeat the evils of this world. But the most important reason is because he is family." Hope spoke loud and clear to all assembled.
Runi stood there for a few moments, and I could only guess what was going through his mind, but I do know the longer he was silent the more nervous that I got. Finally he nodded his head and spoke. "So be it. Let him enter the circle. However, this is no place for a human to be. Take your leave of your son, then be gone. When the sun sets three days hence, you may see him again, if the Gods so will it."
Hope turned to me and took me in a tight hug. "You'll be fine, I know it. I know your scared, but just keep in mind what you want to have happen, and don't stray from the path your heart has set. I know I can't be here in person, but I am always with you in spirit, okay?"
I couldn't speak, but I just hugged her as I tight as I could, and nodded into her chest. She broke the hug, turned me towards Runi, and gave me a little push. I slowly walked towards the alter, and by the time I got there, and looked over my shoulder, she was gone. When I looked forward again, Runi was right there with a small smile on his face. "Be at peace brother. I know this may seem strange to you, not having gone through a ceremony like this before, but I hope you will understand why I am doing it this way when it's over with. Please trust me."
I only nodded, but in a strange way his words did comfort me. It was then I realized that I actually did trust him. Runi took a step back, held his arms up high and wide, slowly spun in a circle while he was speaking to all those assembled. "Hank has come before the Circle asking to be re-born as a new Childe of the Night. He wishes to severe all ties with his Sire and replace that bond with my own. Are there any here who wish to dispute his claim to this right?"
There was almost a minute of complete silence before Runi nodded sharply. "Then let it be so. Who wishes to help him prepare for the ritual?"
Even though I shouldn't have been, I was shocked when Roger stepped forward. "I claim that right."
"So be it." Runi spoke then stepped back as Roger walked up to me, then stood behind me. I felt him reach down, and start to pull the robes off my shoulders. "Just relax bro, I gotcha." He spoke softly, and I allowed the robe to fall to my feet, not really caring that I was now standing there completely naked.
Then he led me next to the alter, and had me lay on it. The stone was cold as hell, but I really didn't care. I started to get scared when I felt him first secure my right wrist to the alter, then move to my left side. Runi must have known what I was feeling because he started to speak again, this time more than loud enough for everyone to hear. "Hank, this is the last time that you can back out of this ritual. You will be enduring pain that you have never even imagined before. We are going to bleed you dry, several times over. You will loose yourself to the blood frenzy, but you will not be able to do anything about it. When you feel that your sire is leaving you, then and only then are you to start drinking from me."
Runi paused as I felt Roger start to bind my feet to the alter. "There will be a war waging inside of you as your Sire's bond attempts to fight back. The wounds that we inflict to allow you to bleed will be kept open so that my blood may flow through you. Knowing all this, are you still willing to go through a torture like you have never known before."
By this point, Runi was standing above me and looking down into my eyes. I knew that a nod wouldn't be enough, but I had a hard time wetting my lips enough to speak. I almost laughed when I suddenly had a flash back from one of my favorite movies. William Wallace was laying on a stone slab, much like this one, he had just had his stomach torn open, and the bishop was asking him if he would simply beg for mercy. Instead of begging, William worked up enough moister in his mouth to cry out one word.... "FREEDOM!"
I almost laughed, but then I thought how he and I were in the same situation, with the same answer. He wanted freedom for his people, I wanted freedom from my sire. I knew he wouldn't get the reference, so once I could speak, I simply said. "If it means freedom from my Sire, I will do anything."
Runi sighed heavily and nodded. "Then prepare yourself, for the pain of your re-birth is about to begin."
Roger had just gotten done placing a large thick leather strap across my chest, when he started to secure my head down. I heard a lot of movement going on, but couldn't see what exactly was happening. Thankfully, Roger started telling me. "Right now, they are placing large bowls under your wrists so that you can bleed into them. Samson and Lugh are going to be the ones making sure your wrist wounds stay open. Runi said this may take as long as thirty minutes for you to go through all six men, plus the rest of us, but you won't really be aware of that. Once the madness takes you, thankfully, he says you won't remember much past that." He paused as he put the final strap on me. "Hank, no matter what happens, I wanted to thank you for helping me ten years ago, and for helping all of us stick together. I know you don't believe this, but if it hadn't been for you, I doubt many of us would have survived as long as we did."
I saw the truth in his eyes, and the tears that he wouldn't let fall. I opened my mouth to say something, but he put his finger over my lips. "Don't. Don't try to deny it, or cheapen what you did for all of us. Just take my thanks for what it is, and know that we all love you, and owe you more then you will ever know."
Roger stepped back as his tears started to fall on my face and mix with the ones that were coming out of my eyes. I laid there looking up at the stars that filled the sky, lost in my own thoughts, trying to figure out what it was that I had done to make all these people love me so much, and not really coming up with an answer.
I don't know how long I laid there just thinking, but it was the shooting star that I saw that made me feel at peace within myself. It hadn't been since the night I laid in the arms of the asshole and he told me all about the freedom of being a vampire. I still can't believe how much of a fool I was, but hell, I was only ten.
Banishing that from my mind, I took a deep breath, held it for a moment, then spoke as loud as I could. "DO IT!"
Almost instantly, I felt two sharp blades part the skin of each wrist, and screamed in pain. Runi moved so that he was standing right over me, and I heard him start to chant. A chant that was taken up by everyone else around, but I couldn't hear what they were saying over my own screams.
Through the pain that lasted who knows how long I started to feel myself start to fade. It was then that I really realized I didn't want to die, not yet. I looked up into Runi's eyes, and could only imagine the horror he saw in mine. I wanted to cry out for him to stop it, to let me live as I was, but then he leaned down and I heard his words in my head, just as clearly as I would have heard them through my ears. "Hank, this is your only chance to rid yourself of the taint that your sire is. I know you are scared, hell, so am I, but if you fight this, if you help me fight him, I know you'll make it through this. Fight the blood madness as long as you can. When you feel the bond with your old sire start to break, then drink, not before. Fight this with everything you are, and you will make it. Fight Hank, fight."
I closed my eyes when I felt the Madness start to take hold, and my fangs exploded down out of my gums, but I fought it. I barely felt them re-opening the wounds on my wrists, but I did feel the blood start to flow freely again. I fought as hard as I could, but it felt like my body wasn't my own anymore. I was thrashing against the restraints as much as I could, and I know I broke the ones on my feet, but there was someone there that grabbed them, and held them down. I knew I was screaming, but I have no idea what I was saying, all I know is I was fighting against the madness with everything I had.
The last coherent thought I had was my sire screaming in rage and pain. I opened my eyes and saw Runi standing there, his wrist in his mouth, and blood running down his face. I barely nodded and he dropped his wrist to my mouth.
The sweet taste of blood had never felt so good as it entered my mouth, and I greedily swallowed. At that point, everything else faded out as I felt Runi's blood enter my system. I closed my eyes.
I have no clue how much time had passed, but when I opened my eyes again, I wasn't on a stone slab, but I was laying in bed with my sire leering over top of me. I was back to the night he turned me, I watched as his fangs dropped and he reared back, getting ready to sink them into my neck. This was the past, but it suddenly changed.
Instead of his fangs sinking into my neck like I was expecting, he was thrown off me, and Runi was standing there. When the asshole stood back, he looked at Runi and hissed. "He's mine!"
"Not any longer." Runi said as I watched his fangs drop and his eyes blaze red. "He asked, and I accepted. I am his sire now."
"NO!" The man screamed as he launched himself at Runi. "He's mine! You can't have him!"
I lay there unable to move as the two of them fought. I wanted to jump in there and help kick the shit out of my sire in the worst way, but I couldn't move. The scene shifted, and we were in a warehouse, the first place I found my sire many years after he had turned me, then threw me away. This was the first place that I saw fear in the assholes eyes, as we fought. Only this time, it was Runi fighting him, and I was just watching.
I don't know how many times the scene shifted, and I watched the two of them fight, but every time it looked like Runi was winning, something would happen, and my sire was able to escape.
But Runi kept at him, even though the little vampire was bleeding in countless places, he kept fighting. Time and again, Runi would have him backed into a corner, ready to deliver the killing blow, and Asshole would manage to escape.
Then something happened that really shocked me. Runi backed off, with a grin. "Well fought, well fought indeed. However, it is time to stop playing. Hank is mine."
The asshole screamed in rage and flew at Runi again, only this time he never made it to Runi. Roger was somehow there, and slammed into the asshole throwing him off course. Then Runi entered the battle again.
It was two against one for almost a minute, then Samson showed up. The asshole escaped again, but by the time we found him again, he was fighting against Lugh. Now it was four on one, then five, and six. The asshole was fighting with everything he had, but he was horribly outnumbered. The second to last one to show up in the fight was Duncan.
He didn't join in the fight. There were too many fighting as it was. He ran over to me, and held me as I watched. I still couldn't move, but when I looked up next, Ramon, my own Childe was there at my side.
I knew I was crying, although I don't know how long I had been. I looked up into Ramon's eyes and smiled, which he returned. I was just in time to look back and see Runi jump back into the fray with his long knife. He and Asshole exchanged a flurry of blows, till Runi spun around with blinding speed, and suddenly my Sire stopped moving. It was like slow motion as I watched his head slowly fall from his body. It was like something inside me broke at that moment, and I screamed.
Runi saw the horror in Hank's eyes, and felt for the young boy. He could never imagine being the one to go through this, it was hard enough being on this side of things. As soon as Hank nodded, Runi slammed his wrist into the boy's mouth, and felt him start to drink. At first Runi was shocked at how fast he was drinking. Having never done this before, Runi was suddenly worried if he could drink enough blood, and change it in his body, before Hank drew it back out of him.
Quickly he looked over at David and nodded. Quickly the boy cut the bonds on one of the prisoners and brought him over to Runi. For a brief moment David was sorry that Runi couldn't use his mind tricks to subdue the man, but Dave was strong enough to hold the man steady even as he tried to fight.
He forced the gagged man to his knees next to Runi, and with out any ceremony at all, Runi slammed his fangs into the man's neck and started to drink. He'd never seen anyone drink as fast as Runi drained that man, but within a few minutes, Runi drew back, and the man fell to the ground. "Another... hurry." Runi panted out, and Dave quickly ran back to get the next man.
In less then twenty minutes, Runi had drained all six men. The chanting had continued the entire time, like Runi had instructed, but the tension in the clearing was thick. As soon as Runi dropped the last man, Roger moved up to Runi, and exposed his neck. Lugh and Samson had stopped opening the wounds on Hank's wrist, and were now holding them closed.
Being as careful as he could, Runi sank his fangs into Roger's neck and started to drink. He was exhausted, but he didn't let anyone see just how tired he really was. With the fact that Hank wasn't being drained any more, Runi wasn't having to process so much blood so quickly. He slowly drank from Roger, then pulled back, slowly licking his lips. "Samson." Was all he said, and the huge man was kneeling next to the small vampire with his neck exposed.
Slowly, one by one, the ten that Hank had asked to stand with him, came up and allowed Runi to drink from them. The last two being Duncan and Ramon. Runi would only drink a small amount from Duncan, then Ramon, who Runi took even less from. When Runi backed off of Ramon's neck, everyone stood there holding their breath to see what would happen. Runi had his eyes closed with a look of deep concentration and strain written all over his face.
Finally Hank spat Runi's wrist out of his mouth, gave an unearthly scream, then went limp. Runi stumbled back, and was barely caught by Dave. He looked up into the older boy's eyes and gave a very tired smile. "It worked..." was all he got out before he, too, passed out.
I found myself breathing a deep sigh of relief when I got to the end of this chapter. Never knowing with Roland if someone is going to live or die, when I saw the words, "It worked..." whew, what a relief. For a tough little guy, Runi has a huge heart! It was good to hear more of the history, to see the struggles and questions young love bring about. Now, where is the next chapter so we can really see that Runi and Hank are alright?