He reached the city limits shortly thereafter and steered his steed westwards. He skirted the edge of the city, not greeting the people he met.

The moon dragged itself across the sky as he rode on, feeling the horse grow weary as its steps started faltering.

Finally a dark mass grew out of the horizon.

He pushed his heels into his horse's flanks, pushing it this last distance.

Finally he reached the heavy gates, which were now carelessly flung open, and slowed the horse as he reached the yard.

A young boy ran out of the stable and Damian swung himself off the exhausted animal, silently handing the reigns to the boy.

He rushed inside, stalking upstairs and entered the dark library. He made his way through the room, poured a glass of dark liquid and relaxed into an armchair. The fire was crackling and dancing, as the only light in the room, painting obscure images on the wall.

He sighed as he drank of the liquid. For a moment the memory of iron taste lingered on his tongue but he forcefully pushed it away. Katherine would still be recovering.

Suddenly the door slammed downstairs and he heard his maid rushing to meet the guest who however didn't bother to talk to the poor girl, instead opting to continue up the stairs unhindered.

Damian didn't turn his head as the library was entered.

So you refused once more.

Damian snorted: I don't see why you bother to come out here every time I refuse a call from the Council, Christopher. You haven't changed my mind yet.

The other man sat in the chair in front of him: Perhaps you're right, but I do so enjoy running my head against the wall. Please at least allow me that pleasure.

Damian inclined his head in acquisition and moved his eyes back to the cracking flames.

I assume it's the same old excuse.

Damian sighed wearily: I don't like the fact that you insist on calling it that, but yes, it is.

Christopher leaned forward, into the sparse light, dark eyes glinting dangerously: Why not call it that, when that's what it is.

I will not be in the Council. I can not be trusted to make decisions of such importance.

You dwell on it too much. Many of our kind has done many things which are more grave and they have sat in the Council. You must stop hiding, Damian. You of all people should know that it does not do to linger in the past, you will only drive yourself mad.

The other man rose once more and went to stand by the bulging bookcases.

You may not want to admit it but time is passing Damian. We are growing older and the world is growing more dangerous and for us a fight, maybe even war, is not far off. We cannot expect people to stay ignorant to our existence. We have seen this happen before and it will happen again.

And would it be so bad. Damian muttered hoarsely: You and I both have seen much more than any human could ever hope to. Would it be so bad if we were to give up our existence? Have we not seen enough?

No one has seen enough for the world is ever changing. You cannot leave it one day, content that you have seen it all, for the next day, the next year, offers you new experiences and new sights and this is the privilege of our kind that we can follow the world through the eras of time, moving with it and bringing small pieces of the old world with us. We are the world's memory, the world's diary. We are the ones who will tell of the ways of the world and we are the ones who will desist when the human race falls and we will honor this world, this planet and we will never cease out attempts to make it a more beautiful place to live in. We are artists, Damian.

Even before the last word had been formed in his mouth Damian was laughing. A cold and harsh laughter which hurt the ears of whomever would hear it.

Artists, Christopher? he choked out through his humourless laughter, forcing it out of his throat painfully: We are not artists. We are murderers. Simple beasts. Feeding of other life like leeches. We are not beautiful. We are the disease of the world.

Christopher had frozen with his back turned, his dark hair framing his face when he bowed it downwards.

Is that really what you think? he asked quietly.

Damian nodded even though he could not see him:

Slowly Christopher turned; in the dim light Damian could see that his eyes were eerily shimmering, swimming with tears: Then I pity you, brother. Then I truly pity you for then you have forgotten the purpose of our presence here on the planet. Then you have forgotten that you have a purpose in this world before the end.

The other man walked towards the door but before he disappeared he looked at Damian once more: If you truly find no meaning with this life then remember that nature that you value so would never produce anything if she meant not for it to have some place in her cycle. Nature would not infect herself for nothing.

And with those words he left, the door slamming in his wake.

For a long time Damian didn't move.

The night waned and a pale dawn crept through the window and he stayed rooted in the chair.

Finally as the last embers of the fire died down and the sun played over the dusty furniture, he stood.

The entire house was quiet, sharing his need for silence.

He rose from the chair and went to his bedroom to change his dirty clothes. The bedroom, as the rest of the house, was sparsely furnitured, evidence to the fact that Damian's roots was elsewhere. He had never taken the time to decorate the house with paintings or statues. It was, after all, just a temporary home, if one could even call it home. In truth nothing had been home for 300 years.

He dressed slowly. Outside the rain had stopped even though the wind was still blowing in the trees creating a rustle of the brown and red leaves decorating them.

That was one thing in the world that had stayed the same. He had lived through many ages of men. He remembered a time when there were no roads, only trails without growth. He remembered when his house had had no windows, but he had been able to feel the wind on his skin instead of hearing it beating against the window in vain.

Many of his kind deemed themselves blessed to have the privilege to witness the maturing of the world. He felt cursed. He had seen the world when it was still young and now he was forced to witness its decay.

He quickly stumbled down the stairs where the servants had drawn all the curtains, leaving all rooms in a pleasant darkness, illuminated only by a few candles.

Sighing he went to one window and lifted a sliver of one heavy black curtain. The yard was flooded with sun it seemed. His eyes greedily drank it in as it played across the leaves, the bricks, the puddles of rainwater.

But as he forgot himself and leaned forward to watch the light more freely a small strip of sun landed on his hand. The sudden pain made him jump back and with a primal growl he clutched the hand to his chest and glared at the curtain. But just as soon as the rage came it disappeared and he was left staring at the burned hand with inexpressible sadness and grief.

Finally his shoulders slumped and he resignedly made his way to the moist dungeons where he would await nightfall.

He slept through the day, tossing in the large bed he had had placed in the dungeon.

Come dusk he finally awoke feeling hunger screaming through every fibre of his being but he ignored it for now even when he knew that he had to feed again soon.

He opened the door slightly and saw the last bit of red sun disappearing behind the trees, leaving utter darkness behind. Silently making his way across the yard he softly called out for the stable boy and asked for a horse to be readied. Not two minutes later the young boy led his mare out of the stable. He thanked him silently and got onto the horse with no difficulty.

A few seconds later he thundered out the gate. But he didn't head for London. Instead he steered the mare in the opposite direction. He followed a dusty road for a while but soon even that disappeared and he continued through the dark fields, to the north.

After a while the fields also disappeared and now he was riding through sheer tall growth. He spotted the large house in the distance and directed the horse towards it.

Its hooves echoed on the uneven stones which led up to the house.

Once behind the gate he jumped off his horse and handed it over to a stable boy.

He headed for the door but before he ever reached it a figure had stepped out of the darkness.

He didn't speak, just bowed his head in greeting. Damian went to him and, taking his hand, led it to his mouth and kissed it before placing it over his own heart: he murmured quietly as the other man let his hand linger on his chest.

the man whispered and they locked eyes: It's been many moons since we last met. What has occupied you thus?

Merely my own mind.

He nodded and his hand slipped up to encompass his shoulder: Come. There are things to be discussed.

As Damian followed him down into a barely lit corridor he asked: So they are here?

Yes. Did you not know that?

I had heard it but... I found it irrelevant at the time.

The man's silver eyes roamed his face and eyes and Damian shifted uncomfortably.

You should come to these meetings more often, Damian. You would find it most... educating. was the only thing he said and Damian didn't speak again.

They entered a large room, lit by several torches. The room was scarcely furnished; only adorned by several large crimson armchairs, almost all of which were occupied.

All eyes rose to meet them as they entered and for a short second all activity in the room froze. Then the man in the nearest armchair rose to greet them and tension was broken.

Lawrence stretched forward his hand and Damian shook it silently. They smiled at each other but others waited to greet Damian so he let himself be pulled away. After the initial greetings all seated themselves.

So, Damian. Lawrence said: Have you changed your mind?

Damian could see Simeon whispering to the man he sat next to; a comparatively young vampire whose name Damian didn't know but he had a vague recollection of someone introducing him as David.

he said, his voice low but clear and strong: I have not. But I will be a part of this meeting and a few more in the future, and then he added, as if it was an afterthought: If the Council would let me.

There was scattered murmurs in the room. It was a usual occurrence that someone outside the Council was allowed to be a part of the meetings but Damian never sought the Council out unless in serious emergencies and he never accepted the offer of becoming a part of it..

He felt a hand on his shoulder and without looking back he lifted his arm to cradle it in his own. He could feel the silver eyes boring into his scalp and he could sense their approval.

Why the hesitation, Lawrence? the hoarse voice asked and Damian squeezed his hand.

No hesitation, Lucian. It is allowed. At that Lawrence glanced around the room. Unless there are any protests.

No one said anything even if Damian heard a slight movement to his right and Lawrence then nodded at him indulgently.

Have you found the killer yet? Damian questioned quietly.

We've had more important things on our minds. a voice hissed and Damian glared at Rentlow before turning his attention back to Lawrence, who was eyeing him kindly.

No, we haven't. But we're still searching. We've sent word across the country. Whoever it was, he can't hide much longer.

Damian's eyes flashed.

And what of the other problem? he questioned.

Lawrence answered again without taking his eyes from Damian's face: We still have not reached a decision.

Damian let his eyes glide over the ones assembled: No further suggestions I assume.

None other than the two you have already heard. Simeon said.

Damian looked at him for a long minute and then purposefully shifted his gaze to the young vampire who sat next to him: What are your thoughts on this subject?

The young one met his gaze and Damian was pleased to find none of the usual arrogance in his dark eyes. It was normal when one had just been Transformed that the new Nosferatu, the new... Vampire possessed a certain arrogance caused by the newly claimed Immortality. It took many centuries before those learned to bear their Gifts with a humble mind.

But even though Damian was sure he could not be more than 70 or 80 years old this one carried none of that and his voice was soft and open: I have yet to hear a council which I deem sensible or, yes, even safe for us.

Ah, a slight bit of arrogance none the less, perhaps. Or just a good portion of good common sense.

But that is not of any use to us. a woman exclaimed angrily, Delilah had never been able to control her temper: We cannot sit and wait here forever, we must send words to others that we need to gather. It is too dangerous to spread, if we gather we can gather our helpers too.

That is nonsense, another, Bastian, said: If we gather we become an easy target. If we spread we have more chances of finding people who are willing to help.

Another jumped in: It is of no use to discuss whether or not we become an easy target. No one would attack us, we have not had an serious enemy for hundreds of years. We might as well just decide how we could feed more easily.

Au contrair, Andre's thick French accent filled the room passionately: Suspicion and hatred is gathering again. It will not be long before we need to defend ourselves. We must gather and join forces.

But if we spread we will be harder to track down.

But we will be tracked down and what then?

Damian sat silently and watched the Council as all started arguing in disarray, fighting with whoever they sat next to and it seemed to him that each had their own opinion and no one was willing to compromise to reach a conclusion.

Lawrence said but even though he did not speak loudly all fell quiet and he gazed upon them with a saddened expression in his eyes.

As you can see Damian, he said without looking directly at him: It is hard to reach an agreement.

Damian nodded even though no answer was necessary and closed his eyes as he leant back into the ever-lasting form behind him whose hand was still resting on his shoulder.

For a second there was silence then Lawrence abruptly stood: The Council is dismissed. he stated in a loud voice.

All arose including but Lawrence looked at him intently. Stay he mouthed and Damian nodded imperceptibly.

All others left the room, albeit reluctantly, and Damian noticed that the young David cast more than a few curious looks at him before he closed the door behind him, leaving Lawrence and Damian alone in the room.

Lucian, you can step forward. Lawrence said and went for the large dark table in one corner of the room. He lifted a glass from it and sipped steadily as Lucian stepped out of the shadows giving Damian a small secretive smile.

Lawrence sighed and turned once more: Damian, I need you to do me a favour. Do us a favour.

he asked suspiciously.

Lawrence gave him a weary smile: Do not worry. I am not going to ask you to join the Council. Your vehemence when it comes to this matter, I must admit, bests my own. I need you to do something else for me. We are getting nowhere in our discussions. As you may have seen not one person in here is willing to budge and it is ruining the Council. The longer we take to decide the lesser our chances to survive. We need someone to help us on this matter, yes maybe even to decide for us.

He took another sip and stared at the floor. When he once again met Damian's eyes his own were burning.

Kane is in Ireland.

Damian gasped. Behind him he could feel Lucian's astonishment as well.

Yes, Kane. I wish for you to go to him, to ask him for his help, his advice on this matter. You are the only one I will have do it. You are experienced and steadfast. You will be able to make him see our side of this. Go to Ireland, Damian, and bring him back with you. I know these discussions might seem petty but our whole existence may depend on this. Go, Damian.

The last part of his speech may have sounded like an order but Damian could read the pleading in the other Vampire's face. Lawrence knew he could not make him. He turned and looked at Lucian but for once the Elder's face was closed and Damian knew that he wanted him to make this decision himself.

He stretched out a hand and touched Lucian's throat, lingering over age-old invisible scars. he said without looking at Lawrence but he could sense his relief: I will go to him and with luck I shall bring him back with me.

Lucian smiled and for a moment Damian felt as though the sun lit the room.

A.N. So sorry about the delay. My life has been chaotic.