Interlude – Hastening the Ritual

"Doyen, Sir!"

Wanting to swear at losing concentration on the incantation he had just started, Krizodel's head jerked up to his subordinate's urgent cry from the doorway. "What?"

"One of our Sisters at Sickle Moon called. That sorceress, Sefichul, as well as the witch and the Constable and his team are there. Somehow they discovered the possessions. She doesn't know if any of them escaped."

"Call Difreid."

"I already tried. He's not answering his personal crystal and the House ones are being blocked. That's why I came to you."

That likely meant he was discovered, too. This was all suddenly falling apart!

"That damnable witch and vampire!" He threw an empty vial across the room…but it did not shatter. He spun toward the direction he had tossed it in, eyes widening when he saw who had caught it with magic. "Your…Eminence…"

"It seems it won't keep until next week." He gently set the vial down on a shelf beside him. "Start preparations. Father wishes to see our conduit beforehand. Come start her final preparations in an hour."

Krizodel was terrified. "Eminence…we did try."

"We know you did; it's just Jerron and his witch seem to have too much luck on their side. But it doesn't matter. Even without the Gods' Moon's added power, the magic that's already been gathered should still be enough to make the blow significant. We already figured we might not be able to lay out the ruination we truly wished for, that's why we did all we could to slowly build the power and made contingencies. This is one." He made a shooing motion at him. "There's much to do. Get going."

His visitor was suddenly gone like a breath of wind. Whenever Krizodel saw that, it sent a shiver through him.

The sorcerer turned to his subordinate, who had dropped to his knees in deference to the visitor. "Get up. Call the others that are already in the area for the ritual. I'll gather the Sanctum to start preparations on the altar."

"Of course, Doyen."

As soon as the man left, Krizodel walked to the platform that stood at the far side of the room. Suspended in magic, revolving slowly, was a sheathed dagger. The breaths of countless loyal doyen – the leaders of Sanctums of Sects across the world – had put their power into the blade. It had come to him, one of the most powerful sorcerers in Hagole, to carry out the ritual they had spent nearly two centuries planning.

"And here, at the end, Jerron had to find out and start messing it all up." Scowling, he reached into the magical suspension and grasped the blade. "But he'll be dead too in a matter of hours, so all his work will be for naught."

And, oh, how ironic was the conduit that would bring about his death!

Krizodel laughed, stalking from the room to go gather his fellows.

It was time to kill his favorite toy…


"Hello, my dear."

The chained woman who sat in the corner did not acknowledge the greeting. She had no reason to. She hated the speaker. Oh, she hated everyone that had hurt her since her capture…but she especially hated this one.

"Hello, Mother," came a different voice – and this one made her head snap up and a sneer twist her lips.

Across the room stood two people.

The one who called her "mother" had the relationship between them right, for she had given birth to him, but they were nothing alike. His mind had been twisted and warped already in his meager ten years of life until he happily used his fangs to rip open the throats of babes for sacrifices. She had seen him do it…

And her other visitor…he was the boy's father, but he was no man. He was Thulawe.

It was due to the boy's paternity that he did not resemble born vampires. He had pale skin, certainly, but it held an undertone of yellow that made him look jaundiced. His hair, though, was a stark contrast to hers, for it was blonde. His eyes, too, were vastly different than hers; his irises were not black but a pale, pale grey that was nearly white.

She wanted to scream that she did not consider him her son because if he had ever truly considered her his mother then he would give a damn, that he would not allow her torture to continue. But she could not speak – had not been able to for a decade, not since the god revoked in her the gift he had given mortals.

She would also love to show physical defiance to them but, since her capture, she had grown weaker and weaker. She had too long been kept prisoner – too long deprived of proper sleep and nutrition. Were it not for the superiority of her heritage, she would have died long ago since all they usually allowed her to drink was animal blood, which drained away all her strength and magic.

Not that her weakness kept them from draining her of blood every time they had some need…and in as painful a way as possible.

It was her son who walked forward, his sorcerer's robes not touching the filthy floor, being held up with a breath of air that he likely created unconsciously. "Your end is coming, Mother. When it does, everything that was set in motion when you were captured will be realized."

She sneered at him again. This child of hers might look like a child still, but there was nothing innocent about him. His father had wiped all that away before he was old enough to start using his magic. Her son had once told her that it was a pity he would not be the one to plunge the knife in her heart at the final sacrifice.

He stopped in front of her. "Three deaths…that's all it will take and the world will be ours. Isn't that grand?" He leaned toward her, grinning. "You should be proud that your blood will be ushering in the wondrous era that will follow."

Since the moment he had started toward her, she had been letting saliva gather in her mouth. Now she spit it all out, hitting him unprepared in the face.

Enraged, he slapped her so hard she slammed into the wall. She gave a silent scream, feeling a bone crack. Tears pooled in her eyes. That was one thing she hated – that despite all the pain she had endured since her capture, she had never become numb to it, despite how she prayed it would happen.

"Now, now, Son, there's no need for that." But the god was smirking, did not really look or sound disappointed in what had been done. "It's almost time for everything and, to make the sacrifice the best it can be, she needs to be uninjured for it." The god had walked forward as he spoke and lifted her face so he could look at her. "I'll make sure to send the most skilled healer to fix the damage, my dear."

She wanted to spit on him, too, but knew she would be more severely punished for that. She settled for narrowing her eyes at him. It made him laugh.

"Now, now, my dear, you make me think you do not appreciate what we have accomplished together, what we created together." He smoothed his hand over her head. "Most women would give anything to get to bed a god. But you're special and you were able to give birth to my son. You should be grateful that you will have a lasting presence in the world long after you die. Though, it's a pity you never got pregnant again, and we tried so often."

Then he leaned down and kissed her – forcing his tongue into her mouth as he held her hard against his face so she could not break away from him until he was done.

"I will miss your body, my dearest…but it must be done, so I will try not to sorrow too greatly over your death."

She doubted he would sorrow at all. He would likely be dancing gleefully as the dagger pierced her heart.