Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, its themes, settings or characters. All of it is the muse of JK Rowling, I'm merely borrowing elements to write this fan fiction. Don't sue me, you know you like this story.
Twists of Fate
Chapter Twelve: The Most Ancient Lineage of Incruentus
Deep in the heart of Romania…
Ryan approached the familiar black stone gates of his kingdom with mixed emotions. Remus had invented dear old Uncle Herman, and dear old Uncle Herman's untimely death as their alibi for leaving Hogwarts for a few days. Sirius and James were posted as Remus' replacement, and aside from Dumbledore being slightly skeptical, all was well. Remus had left Ryan several miles back as they each parted for their own stronghold, which were barely a hundred miles apart. Remus was eager to be with Mitexi and Artemis and discuss the pressing matter of Lord Voldemort's wishes. Ryan too was eager to speak with his council. Darker times were on their way, darker than he had known in his own lifetime, though his memories spoke to him of similar times.
He had taken the long walk, rather than apparating inside the kingdom, so as to survey for any damage the dark lord may have already done, just as a warning, but was relieved to find no one had yet been struck. Despite the urgency of the situation, Ryan found his thoughts always drifting back to Ginny, whom he had left not on the best of terms. The day was overcast, thankfully for Ryan, as he would have been painfully sun burnt by this stage of the journey. The dark, gothic-looking gates loomed up before him ominously, welcoming him home. The Incruentus Fortress was shielded by ancient magics of the vampire race, and blended with that of dark wizards to keep its location unplottable, and protected from prying eyes, or unwelcome visitors. Only those with vampire blood held the key into entering the kingdom, and only an exceptionally powerful wizard could bypass all the charms on the magnificent city.
None the less, the gates were guarded at all times in six hour shifts by two vampires, so that they could scan the entrants, ensuring they were not a threat to the king or his people. The vampires who were on gate duty during the day were always administered sol solaris Potion, though severe sunburn was a very common sight on these guards. It was approaching noon when Ryan finally arrived in front of the gates, and it was with a groan of displeasure that he recognized the first of two gatekeepers. His headache began before the soldier even spoke.
"State your name and business in Dol Au Cuer." The vampire said, puffing out his chest with importance, clutching his spear in a menacing fashion.
The second soldier gave Ryan an apologetic look, shaking his head as he bowed swiftly.
"My name is Artifex Incruentus." Ryan said giving the first soldier a burning stare. "And I would be your king."
The young solider shook himself, and squinted down at Ryan from his post, as if trying to determine this were true. "Prove it." He said finally.
Ryan rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Crucio!"
The incompetent soldier fell to the ground from his post screaming and writhed in pain for several seconds before Ryan released him. The vampire lay gasping on the ground for several seconds before he turned and saw Ryan standing over him, his eyebrow raised in interest.
"My lord! My lord! You have returned!" the vampire shouted with pleasure as he got to his feet.
"Yes Irrito." Ryan said rolling his eyes as he entered through the large stone gates of the royal city. "Your swiftness of mind never ceases to amaze me."
"Oh thank you my lord! You honor me my lord." Irrito said humbly as he followed Ryan, bowed low to the ground, so low in fact, that he lost balance and landed face first in the mud, yet continued worshipping.
"Arise Irrito." Ryan said in exasperation.
Irrito grinned sheepishly as he stumbled to his feet, slipping several times before standing upright again. "You are most kind my lord, even as I wallow in the mud, praising your name, all you think of is my well being."
Ryan's eyebrow twitched. "Yes Irrito, I am always concerned with your well being. It causes me many sleepless nights when I think that you are the gate keeper to our most magnificent city."
"Do not fear for me my lord! No powers of darkness shall prevail whilst I am on duty! I would be proud to die protecting you my lord. It would be the greatest honor I have ever known!" Irrito shouted maniacally.
Ryan shook his head in amazement. "Tell me, Irrito, have the leaders of the clans all gathered to be in my presence?"
"Indeed they have my lord. They await your arrival. In fact, I am to alert them immediately when you arrive." Irrito said proudly, nodding excitedly as if Ryan would dare not believe it.
Ryan raised his eyebrow and gave Irrito a meaningful look as he dumbly stood nodding at him with exuberance.
"Yes my lord?"
"Do you not have something to attend too?"
"I don't think so my lord." The young vampire said grinning widely.
Ryan sighed. "Think carefully now Irrito. Carefully. What were you told to do when I arrived?"
Irrito stopped grinning and began to strain to think, causing Ryan to watch him in disbelief. After several minutes he burst out laughing and jumped up and down. "I don't know my lord! This is fun! Ask me another one!"
Ryan smacked his forehead in exasperation. "Who were you supposed to inform of my arrival?"
"Oh Oh! I know this one… wait… Let me think…"
"The elders, Irrito." Ryan said through clenched teeth, beads of sweat appearing on his forehead.
"Ah of course! You are too fast for me my lord! Your mind is keener than any I have known!" Irrito said, bowing deeply again, mud sliding off his forehead.
After several moments it became apparent that Irrito was going nowhere. "Irrito?"
" Perhaps you should Inform them of my arrival." Ryan hinted dangerously, his body trembling with suppressed annoyance.
"Oh yes!" Irrito said laughing as he smacked his head. "I'm sorry my lord, I was so excited to see you, I completely forgot. LORD ARTIFEX HAS RETURNED! LORD ARTIFEX HAS ARRIVED IN THE ROYAL CITY! LORD ARITFEX HAS -"
"Irrito?" Ryan cut over him smoothly.
"Yes my lord?" The boy asked innocently.
"What are you doing?"
"Informing the leaders that you have arrived my lord." Irrito said proudly. "LORD ARTIFEX HAS RETU-"
"Yes my lord?"
"Do you not think it would be more prudent to take the message personally to them, rather than shout the kingdom down?"
"Oh no my lord, they will hear me just fine, do not worry." he assured him. "LORD ARTIFEX HAS -"
The courtyard rang with the echoing sound of a crack as Ryan picked up Irrito's discarded spear and whacked him over the head with the handle, causing the boy to drop instantly to the ground unconscious. Dusting his hands off, he placed the spear back in the young vampire's hand and stood back, marveling at his work, whistling innocently. The second soldier walked up beside Ryan, giving him a sly look before nodding in appreciation.
"A fine hit, my lord."
"Muggle combat has its own advantages too." He noted with a sly grin as he stared at Irrito lying unconscious, his tongue lolled out to one side.
The remaining guard nodded in agreement. "With any luck he shall not rouse until well after our shift is complete."
"I do hope so, Sapiens. For your sake."
"You are most kind, my lord. When he started questioning each of the farmer's cows that came through but an hour before your arrival, I'm afraid I lost my patience."
"Understandably. I have got to do something about the hired help around this place." he said quietly.
"What shall I do with the body, my lord?" Sapiens inquired.
Ryan thought for a moment. "Put him in with the cows. He will be safe from the sunlight once the potion wears off in there."
"As you wish, my lord." the second guard replied, hardly able to conceal his pleasure.
"You may thank me later, Sapiens." Ryan said noticing the soldier's enjoyment.
"Do you wish me to announce your arrival, Sire?"
"Do not trouble yourself, Sapiens. If the whole kingdom did not hear Irrito, I will be most surprised."
"Indeed. Thank you my lord." Sapiens, said bowing low.
"Good day, Sapiens." Ryan said courteously as he turned to head toward the palace.
"My lord?" the vampire asked hesitantly.
"Yes, Sapiens?" Ryan turned to inquire.
"May I leave him naked and shave his eyebrows off, my lord?" he asked with maniacal glee.
"Yes my lord?"
"Your imagination pleases me." Ryan said with an appreciative nod. "But I have to ask, why naked? You realize the cows may sodomize him?"
"Yes my lord." Sapiens replied innocently with a sly grin, an evil glint flickering through his eyes.
"Sapiens. Remind me to promote you." Ryan smirked.
"Thank you my lord." Sapiens said with a small grin as he dragged Irrito's unconscious body off to the barn.
Ryan turned with a satisfied sigh and began his walk towards Dol Au Cuer; the great mountain fortress of the Vampire king. The entire city was build within the walls of the mountain to protect its inhabitants from the harsh sunlight that often plagued the area. The lower levels were inhabited by Ryan's subjects, and the utmost level was Ryan's quarters. The outer gates stood a hundred meters from the foot of the mountain, where a great archway lead to a tunnel that wound its way throughout the earthy mass. This archway was the inner gate, and every hundred meters along the tunnel, another pair of guards were stationed to maximize security.
As Ryan reached the inner gates he was met by another pair of guards, though slightly more capable than Irrito, for they merely bowed low and let their lord pass. About two hundred meters from the palace doors Ryan saw a tall cloaked figure waiting for him to catch up. Recognizing the Vampire, Ryan grinned. Palystine; Captain of the King's royal guard. Forever concerned with the lack of protection Ryan always insisted on, Ryan knew, in light of recent events, he was about due for another lecture.
One of the hardest things Ryan had to get used too once he was recognized as Artifex Incruentus was that he was hard pressed to get anywhere without a legion of body guards. He found this made simple things awkward; like taking a whizz for example. He had to entirely remodel the palace bathrooms for that reason alone. It seemed that when you were king of an entire race, your privacy is no longer regarded as something sacred. In fact Ryan was positive that his entire guard could ID him without a doubt from photos of his ass.
As he drew nearer the figure, he could see the usual frown of concern plastered on Palystine's face, and Ryan knew that in his mind he was ticking over the logistics of having twenty guards at his side at all times. Despite Palystine's overly safety conscious ways, Ryan had a close relationship with the older vampire, and held him in high regard. Palystine had been his minder from the very first day he was brought to Dol Au Cuer, and he had learned quickly that Ryan was not one to stick to rules, rather make his own and break them all the same.
"My lord, you have returned." Palystine said in a pleased voice and he bowed low to the ground. "Welcome home."
"Thank you Palystine. I had a pleasant journey." Ryan commented as Palystine took up his place at Ryan's side and walked with him toward the palace.
"I am pleased to see you are still in one piece."
Ryan sighed, "Palystine, I did not travel alone, my father went with me."
"Werewolves are not invincible either, my lord." Palystine reminded him. "If you would only let me-"
"-Set some of your blundering guards to follow me around all night and watch me sleep all day? As thrilling as that prospect is-"
"I take full responsibility for the clown incident." Palystine said apologetically.
"So you should. What kind of maniacal fool would think dressing up like a clown and standing over my bed to guard me as I sleep was a good idea?" Ryan asked in distress. "Evil I tell you. E-vil."
"Yes my lord," Palystine agreed, "I'm sure, had they have known your irrational fear of all things happy -"
"That's beside the point!" Ryan cut across him, "Never again, Palystine. NEVER again."
"Of course my lord." Palystine replied humbly, slightly downcast. "But what if you were to screen your guards, my lord?"
"Screen them, Palystine?"
"Choose the ones you desire." the elder said in a gently persuasive way.
"You mean filter out the mentally challenged?" Ryan asked stroking his chin thoughtfully, a lonesome fang protruding from his lopsided smirk. "Hmm. Your idea has merit."
"Then you will agree to having bodyguards, my lord?" Palystine asked hopefully.
"Perhaps, Palystine." Ryan replied finally. "If only to make sure you sleep soundly. I know you pace outside my door when I refuse guards. It's sweet, -yet slightly off putting."
"I am sorry my lord, but your safety is my responsibility-" Palystine reminded him.
"-But my sanity you cannot account for, I know I know." Ryan finished for him with a smirk. "Fine, arrange a time for me to meet with your guards and I will choose an assortment."
"As you wish, my lord." Palystine replied with a small smirk as he bowed. "Now if you'll excuse me, my lord. Reports have reached me that we are one man down at the border gates. Apparently Irrito has disappeared."
"I didn't do it." Ryan said quickly.
"Didn't do what?" Palystine asked suspiciously raising an eyebrow.
"Anything. Anything I tell you!" Ryan maintained his innocence.
Palystine smacked his forehead in exasperation. "Lord Artifex, you didn't send one of the first line guards flying out of the kingdom in the catapults again, did you?"
"How dare you even suggest such a thing." Ryan said in an offended tone.
Palystine gave him a hard look. "You tarred and feathered him didn't you?"
"Such treason!" Ryan gasped. "Next you'll be asking me if I knocked him unconscious and allowed his partner to shave his eyebrows, strip him naked and leave him for the cows to have their wicked way with him!"
Palystine raised his other eyebrow as if contemplating whether this was feasible or not. "I apologize my lord, I still think of you as that ten year old terror sometimes."
"Of course you do, Palystine." Ryan said sympathetically with a sly grin as he patted the captain on the shoulder. "Those were the best years of your life."
"Indeed, my lord." Palystine said with a smirk. "I best see how Sapiens is coping."
"Oh. I imagine he did quite a nice job." Ryan said absently, "That man is a genius."
"What?" Palystine asked skeptically.
"Oh nothing." Ryan said drily. "I will speak with you again later, Palystine. It is good to see you, my old friend."
"My lord." Palystine replied with a courteous bow, before he turned, still mulling over Ryan's words with a perplexed look on his face as he walked away toward the border.
Ryan turned and whistled innocently as he walked in the other direction, making his way to the grand entrance hall of the palace. It seemed an age before Ryan finally reached his chambers, and he was pleased to see that the council were awaiting his arrival. As he entered the entire room stood. The council was made up of vampires from every clan of vampires that populated the world.
"Ah, Artifex." An elderly looking vampire named Jamius bowed lightly. "Welcome home."
"It is good to see you, my old friend." Ryan replied, embracing the elder. "I trust your journey was a pleasant one?"
"Most pleasant, my lord." Jamius replied.
"Artifex." A younger vampire said stiffly, giving Ryan a curt nod of welcome.
"Ah, Demetri." Ryan said, his eyes narrowing with dislike as they fell upon the vain vampire. "I see a pointy wooden stick has yet to find its way to your heart. How… wonderful."
Demetri stiffened angrily, replying bitterly through clenched teeth. "Thank you, my lord."
"My eternal kindness knows no bounds." Ryan acknowledged with a shrug.
After greeting the remaining members of the council Ryan settled down to business. "I am sure by now that you are all aware of what Lord Voldemort has asked of the council."
"Will you meet with him, Sire?" One of the council asked fearfully.
"I am afraid there is no way around it, unless we want to be slaughtered village by village." Ryan replied in a troubled voice. "What I am here to discuss today, is where we stand in this situation."
"Is there really any question?" Demetri snorted. "As long as this war has been raging, we Vampires have fought along side Lord Voldemort. Why change that now? He offers us what the Wizards never will; a chance to be accepted, and treated fairly."
"But we are very close to having a breakthrough with the Wizards, Demetri, you know that as well as I do." And elderly vampire named Tritus argued.
"Why should we be the ones who have to crawl to them and ask for acceptance?" Demetri asked fiercely. "They have hunted us down and killed us off for generations now. Always they have loathed and feared us, ignoring our rights, treating us like animals! No, it should be they who beg us to join them- not the other way around. Voldemort will protect us, he will honor his word."
"What makes you believe that he will hold true to that promise, Demetri?" Ryan retaliated. "Tom Riddle is only out for himself in this war, and if he succeeds? Well, we will be nothing more to him than we are to the wizards right now."
"The wizards have warped your thoughts, Artifex." Demetri spat. "If you spent more time with your own kind than theirs maybe you would see how badly we are treated by the Magicians."
"I was one of them before I was one of you, Demetri, or are you forgetting?" Ryan retorted, his eyes flashing dangerously red. "And don't you dare assume I put the wellbeing of the wizards over the wellbeing of the Vampires, ever."
"Yet you want us to turn our backs on the Dark Lord and join the wizards, despite the fact that they think we are monsters." Demetri cried in outrage. "You want us to incur the wrath of the darkest wizard to walk this planet? You are a traitor to your own kind, Artifex! How can you be king over a race you do not understand? He will never stop hunting us, he will slaughter us all, and it will be on your head!"
"Or yours." Ryan said simply as he drew his wand carelessly and pointed it at Demetri before he could defend himself.
There was a flash of red light that made the council members cower away and cover their eyes with their arms. With a sickening thud they saw Demetri's shocked head hit the floor and roll beneath the table before it and its body disintegrated into dust. All that was left was a steaming pile of ashes that lay near a magnificent woven rug that covered the floor. The whole room had frozen in shock, their eyes darting from Artifex, to Demetri. Ryan's eyes were still burning fiercely red as he glared at the pile of ashes before him. Noticing the council he looked up, his eyes fading back to normal as he gave them a hard stare.
"It appears we need a new representative from the Clan of Kugai." He said darkly as he dropped to his knees to examine the dusty remains of Demetri. "Demetri was unworthy to be on the council. Treason will not be tolerated. Do you all understand?"
"Yes Sire." They replied swiftly, still in shock.
Ryan cocked his head to one side and squinted at the remains more closely. "Perfect disintegration. I'm getting better at that." he muttered to himself proudly.
After a few moments he lifted up the corner of the rug and peered beneath it. He nodded in approval then began to gasp for breath as he blew the reminisce of Demetri beneath it. Ryan huffed and puffed for a good two minutes as the elders of the council looked on in alarm, before he was satisfied that all reminisce of the traitor had disappeared. Getting to his feet he dusted off his hands.
"Right now, where were we?" he asked casually.
His remark was met with stunned silence as the council members attempted to find words. Ryan cocked an eyebrow.
"My lord -"
"Who now will represent the Clan of Kugai?" He asked cautiously.
"Oh right. My apologies." Ryan said with a small laugh as he clapped his hands together and scanned the room. "You there! Servant!"
"W-who me?" a timid, weedy little creature popped his head around the corner of the doorframe.
"Yes. Excellent. What is your position in this palace boy?" Ryan asked eagerly awaiting his answer with extreme interest.
"I- I am the assistant manager of S- Sanitation, Sir." the boy stammered weakly, having never been addressed by the king before.
"Sanitation you say?" Ryan repeated sounding pleased. "Excellent. How would you like to represent the Clan of Kugai in our little council meeting until we can find a replacement?"
"Excellent, excellent." Ryan said with a small laugh. "Now drop that toilet brush and sit yourself down. Tell me, what is your view on the Wizarding War? Who should we join? Voldemort, or Dumbledore?"
"War, Sir?" The boy asked fearfully.
"Ah." Ryan said, raising an eyebrow. "Never mind - I believe the council can do without a representative for one day."
"But- My lord?" One of the council members interrupted.
"Yes, Horatio?" he inquired.
"Kugai will be most displeased if they are not represented, Sire." He pressed urgently.
Ryan sighed in a bored manner.
"Fine. I will send word to the Kugai Clan to elect a new council member in the morning." He said finally, standing up. "Until the replacement can arrive, you are all adjourned. Except you, Sanitation boy. Go scrub my toilet."
"But- my lord-"
"No need to thank me, young one." Ryan said holding up his hand to silence the boy. "I wish to see my reflection in that stall, make it happen."
"I - Yes, my lord." The young boy said in a perplexed sort of way as he stumbled away hurriedly.
"The rest of you I will call upon as soon as the newly elected council member of Kugai arrives. Until then, you are free to roam as you wish. I trust you will all enjoy your stay in Dol Au Cuer."
"Thank you, Sire." The council replied in unison.
The council stood one by one and filed out of the King's chambers slowly until only one member remained; Jamius. Jamius was and always had been Ryan's most trusted advisor, the closest thing to a father Ryan had within the walls of Dol Au Cuer. Jamius was the oldest Vampire living within the walls of the mountain fortress, though Ryan has never really noticed his age. His long silver hair hung loose to his waist, with several braids intertwined. His crisp blue eyes still sparkled fiercely within the crinkly folds that kept them, and as he had always said; he may have been the oldest living vampire within the castle, but he could still kick Ryan's ass any day of the week. Many were foolish enough to judge the old man by his age, and it was the last mistake they ever made.
Jamius had been advisor to the Artifex before Ryan as well, and was determined to make sure Ryan would not make the same unwise decisions that his prior did. Jamius had taught him how to rule, how to deal with his subjects, to show kindness and mercy, yet not be a afraid to deal out death and judgment to those who were beyond repentance. Ryan respected Jamius more than any of his council because he was his mentor, and Jamius was the only Vampire who knew his real name, aside from one other.
"May I speak, my lord?" Jamius moved forward to kneel before Ryan.
"Of course, Jamius." Ryan replied kindly. "And you know you may call me by my name, Jamius. How many times must I tell you?"
"Thank you Sire," Jamius replied humbly, "but again I remind you, other members of the council may not deem it 'proper', Lord Artifex."
Ryan frowned. "What troubles you, Jamius?"
"That was a rash move, my lord. Demetri was well liked and highly respected by his clan and many others." Jamius said in a troubled voice.
"I am aware of this, Jamius, however he called into question my leadership and motives. I cannot allow him to stir up the council and cause disharmony within my race. Surely you of all people understand this?" Ryan replied, his brow furrowed.
"Of course I understand, Artifex." Jamius replied, "Demetri's death was justified, but I do not believe it was wise. If he has already begun turning his clan against you, you may very well have finished for him what he cannot. I think that there will be a break in the clans, Lord. The Kugai are stubborn, and others more so. I fear that some may join Voldemort regardless of what you rule."
"You have heard something?" Ryan asked curiously.
"Whispers, Artifex. I fear this will not be as easy for you as it should be. The clans are tired, lord. Tired of being hunted and murdered. I fear there will be an uprising."
Ryan frowned deeply, this news troubling him.
"Thank you, Jamius." he said quietly.
"I think that the council should approach the Ministry of Magic and explain our situation to the minister. Perhaps when they know how large our force is, they will decide they would rather us be friends than foes. If some of the wilder clans see that the wizards are willing to make the first move, perhaps they will have a change of heart."
Ryan stroked his chin thoughtfully.
"If the Ministry is wise enough to take us on." Ryan said bitterly. "I hope you are right, Jamius. We cannot fight each other and fight this war also. We are running out of time, my friend."
"You are a good leader, Ryan." Jamius said with a knowing smile, and suddenly Ryan was aware of his incredible age. "Do not lose sleep over these troublesome times. I am confident in your abilities, as are the rest of the council. I am proud of you, my son."
"Thank you, Jamius." Ryan said with a grateful nod. "I will need you more than ever in these coming days."
Jamius chuckled slightly, his long grey hair quivering down to his waist. "You already know all there is to know, my lord. All you need now, is to believe in yourself, your abilities, and the right you were born into."
"I will always need you, Jamius." Ryan repeated kindly as he stood and motioned for his mentor to stand.
"And I will always be with you." Jamius said quietly, his eyes betraying some worry.
"Come." Ryan said, thinking for a moment on what he had seen in the old man's eyes. "Let us eat together, I am starving, and I saw a lovely herd of cows on my way into the city that look delicious."
Jamius chuckled. "I will never forget your father's tale of the cows you turned when you were a lad. How he handled you I do not know. How is your father?" he asked curiously.
"He is well." Ryan replied. "His packs too have been approached by Voldemort. He traveled with me until the crossroads, where he headed for Cryptus Moor."
"He will be troubled." Jamius said knowingly. "He is a good man."
"He speaks fondly of you too. He is very grateful that you took care of me when he could not." Ryan replied.
Jamius nodded. "And tell me, my son, have you found love in your travels?"
Ryan flashed a startled look at him. "Why?" he asked defensively.
Jamius chuckled. "So you have. Leena will be pleased."
"Leena? What has the old witch been saying now?" Ryan asked in alarm.
Jamius chuckled. "She wants you to marry. Feels you need a woman's influence in your life. What is her name? what clan is she from?"
Ryan looked at the floor, slightly embarrassed, causing Jamius to laugh again.
"Nevermind, if you will not tell me, Leena will. You won't get away with silence from her for very long." he said with a knowing smirk.
Ryan sighed. "Great, just great. I knew this day would come but I was hoping she'd wait until I was at least a few hundred years older."
Jamius grinned. "Leena is impatient. She worries for you, the burdens of the king are great, and she does not wish you to bear them alone. Is she pretty?"
"She's beautiful." Ryan admitted slowly, causing Jamius to smile slyly. "But she's also human."
Jamius' smile dropped. "You fell in love with a human girl?" he asked in surprise.
"She's a wizard." Ryan nodded.
"I know." he said testily. "I know…"