donderdag 1 januari 2015

Bloodrage: Chapter 3


            The Elder Council nowadays existed of seven members. They stipulated the rules for the Western Vampire Community as they called it. Dragosj was president of this council. Besides, Diana and Julius, who shared the responsibility for Western Europe, there were also responsible persons for The United States and Russia. These five possessed the most influence in the council considering their territory they controlled. They had the right to veto. That didn’t always make it easy to come to a unanimous decision. Centuries ago this center of five had been enlarged with two more members. Both the Baltic States together with Scandinavia and The South European countries had a vote now in this council.
            Orlando was almost as old as Dragosj but never had as much power and influence as the chairman had. He was the American representative and called the most upon his veto among the core members. Many times this created heated discussions of which he mostly didn’t care. He stoically listened to the counterarguments to persuade him and let them know afterwards he stood by his view. However, he should be taken into account. As far as the amount of people he controlled, he had the highest score. It would be unwise to stand in his way. Dragosj was the only one he considered as his superior. His black Stetson – he never put off – and his accent, those were the only things that referred to his country of origin. It could also be that he was clever in hiding the typical characteristics of his people. He loved to cast a veil of secrecy around him and he wasn’t the one who could brighten up a whole room, contrary to the etymology of his name.
            Russia had since centuries a woman as a member of the council. Anushka also didn’t respond to the meaning of her given name. ‘Mercy’ was a word that wasn’t registered in her vocabulary. She always had been a hardliner and supporter of drastic measures against violations of the rules. The right to veto often was used to change her mind. Anushka was a Slavic beauty. With pronounced cheekbones and her mysterious, innocent eyes, she frequently wrong-footed people around her. Either she wasn’t aware of her beauty or it was her intention to come across that way. On the other hand, it was certain she would have won the prize for ‘worst dressed vampire’. Some people said she was a lesbian, but mostly this came from men who were rejected by her. The truth was she ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds and her friends didn’t care at all.
            The Baltic States and Scandinavia had chosen a real Norseman. Rolf was two meters ten tall, had the shoulders of a rugby player and muscles a bodybuilder would be jealous of. He had blond hair yellow as corn and his eyes were blue as the sky. He also smiled a lot. Obviously he was a happy vampire. His women followers could be the explanation for that, however, most of any normal man wouldn’t cope with this bunch of groupies. Rolf stayed undisturbed under it and never raised his voice. However, when he banged with his hand on the table to show his disapproval, even Dragosj was on his guard for this giant of the North.
            That Fiametta was from Italy, nobody would be surprised. She always blew into the room as a storm and could almost bring the dead back to live. But she was a deadly force to the living who stands in her way. Fiametta was well known for her first years as a vampire when she had caused many bloodbaths between human populations before she could master her thirst. She had made her mark on the vampire community in Southern Europe. Not everyone could match up to her speed, but every vampire of her region knew she would put her life on the line if someone amongst them would be in danger.
            Julius and Diana divided their responsibility for Western Europe. By the fact they had a lot to do with each other, they eventually had fallen in love. They kept their work and love affair apart, after all they were both down-to-earth people. Julius used to be called Jules when he was still a mortal and was of French origin and nonetheless he came from the country that thought they had invented ‘l’amour’, he wasn’t really a romanticist.
            Diana also had another name in her life before being a vampire. Due to her admiration of Roman mythology she had chosen the name Diana above her German birth name Brigitta. Despite many knew she named Brigitta before, nobody would call her by this name. Not only because it was the habit to be baptized in the blood with a new name, but also because Diana was rather short-tempered and would certainly punish them with a bloody death.
            Everyone had received the message from Markus and was ready to join the meeting. Considering the fact they were a modern vampire community, these meetings happened by means of a secure satellite connection. Dragosj was seated in the chair of the president and at his left side Diana had taken place, on his other side Julius who had trouble to conceal his disgust. Diana frowned when she saw him, pressing his lips together when Dragosj wanted to shake his hand, he eventually but with reluctance did.
            Dragosj descended from a very old European old and noble family. Some asserted that he descended from Vlad Tepes, the name Bram Stoker borrowed to create his novel character Count Dracula. Others claimed he was Vlad Tepes himself. Julius suspected Dragosj to have spread this rumor to grant his function still more name and fame than it already had. It was a fact he was originating from a region in Transylvania, a country that centuries ago belonged to Hungary, but nowadays it was a part of Romania. That he owned a castle there gave the rumor still more truth value. Everybody agreed that in his human life he was of nobility.
            The screens were switched on by Markus, who had taken care of the satellite connection. After that he withdrew honoring the secrecy of the meeting. All members were ‘online’ and the flat screens showed four nervous members. The news about the death of Milosj and his bodyguards had reached them and everybody knew the trust between the different regions would come under very great strain. It was no secret the relations between the seven nightwalkers sometimes were much tensed. Dragosj always had been the catalyst between them. The murders had put this fragile unity will be up in the air.
            ‘I declare this meeting open,’ Dragosj started the assembly. ‘For the digital record of proceedings I establish every member of the Elder Council is present. The first and only subject of this meeting is the… the bloody slaughtering of Milosj and his two bodyguards. The goal is to search a solution how we can find the perpetrator and catch him alive to bring him before this council.’
            ‘Per favore? Please? Do I hear correctly, alive? When I find this guy first, I will bring you his head to question!’ Fiametta’s voice sounded as if she was physically present in the meeting room. She sounded furious and had to ventilate her angriness. ‘Do we let this happen that one of our best people is torn into pieces as a prey? Certainly not, I would say and if someone doesn’t agree, do say it!’
            Dragosj ticked with his long manicured fingernails on the lacquer of the black meeting  table-desk. ‘Fiametta, Fiametta… I do not agree. It’s very sad and I myself feel personally attacked by this murder. As you all know, Milosj was one of the candidates for the succession of President of the Council. He was also the only candidate from outside our ranks chosen by our people. That, we must not forget and we must honor that. So, before we ventilate another… opinion – Dragosj always chose his words carefully – we have to stay calm and look at things as sober as can be. It’s the only way to come quickly to a decision and a solution. Orlando, I notice you have asked to speak. I give the floor to you.
            Fiametta bit her lips. She had spoken without permission and Dragosj made it understand good and proper. She had to watch her temper and react less impulsive. Honor was one of the virtues Dragosj esteemed very highly.
            Orlando cleared his throat before he took the word. ‘The first and most important question we have to ask ourselves is: How a man as Milosj, who is one of the strongest representatives of our race and not to forget two of the best security people we have, succumbed to… well yes to whoever has murdered them? I think when we can answer this question, we’ll already be in the right direction to find the perpetrator or perpetrators.’
            ‘Correct, my dear Orlando. Your insight shows of objectivity and intelligence. I do appreciate.’ Dragosj frowned while he put both of his long hands across each other. ‘That’s why, dear Fiametta, I want if we find his trail, get him alive before the council. If there is more than one murderer, I don’t want to risk the rest of that group joyfully continues murdering. Yes, Anushka, what was it you wanted to say?’
            ‘Privyet, hello! Why do we think the murderer specifically has something against our people? It could be a coincidence he has picked Milosj. Maybe Milosj, in one or another way provoked this. We know he was the most stubborn between the hard-headed. If the perpetrator something needed from him and he didn’t get it? Has something disappeared out of his house on the Quay?’
            Dragosj consulted a paper lying in front of him. ‘It’s difficult to say because we don’t possess an inventory of his belongings. As far as his best friend could know this, nothing has been missed. But… yes, Rolf?’
            The big Norwegian had asked to speak by raising his giant hand. The hand of Fiametta, who was the smallest of the group, went three times in it. ‘Has the culprit been wounded himself? Maybe it wouldn’t be a big thing, but if we have that, we could ask our human connections.’
            A heavy sigh escaped Dragosj. ‘Alas, no, it also crossed my mind and I’ve just received the result of the blood samples before this meeting began. No strange blood. Someone else has still an idea?’
            Everyone suddenly saw there was some commotion on the screen of the representative of South Europe. Fiametta was distracted by someone who obviously besides the screen asked for her attention. They heard some fast Italian talking and waited for an explanation from the council member. Normally nobody could disturb a member during a meeting. Nobody would trespass this rule. This had to be very serious.
            ‘Presidente, president of the council, I just got the message from my adjunct that in Firenze a similar incident has occurred. A little community of about twenty of our people has been murdered during a celebration of someone’s second century day. The description of the murder scene I’ve just received is identical to the murder on Milosj and his men.’
            Julius, who had not used his voice yet, jumped up. ‘This can’t be true. They really are persecuting and killing our people. This can’t be a coincidence.’
            Diana also stood up and tried to calm him, however, she didn’t really succeeded in it. In a loud and highly-strung voice, Julius spoke to everybody. ‘We have to warn everybody. If we are vigilant, we stand a better chance to catch this monster. There’s no time to lose.’ He looked at Dragosj, knowing he had not confined himself to his competencies. He wouldn’t take a step back and he would certainly not apologize.’
            ‘Okay, Julius, you’re right. Orlando, Anushka, Rolf and Fiametta, warn everybody you can reach and that they tell it to their acquaintances too. I, Julius and Diana will take care of our region. I know we don’t have alert phases, but this should be the highest. There should also be taken measures to secure the sleeping places during the day. We must think of everything. Markus will let you know when I want to hear from you all. I declare this meeting adjourned.’
            The screens one by one became black and everybody hurried to carry out their imposed task. There was no panic yet, but it was close. Somebody was hunting vampires and they had no trace of him. That was obvious!

© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere 01/01/2015

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