"Mr. Seaton, I get no pleasure from the knowledge that people will die at our hands. One single soul, the loss of one soul is tragic to me, let alone the numbers we're talking about. But do not forget that every war worth fighting involves collateral damage. And what we're doing is fundamentally and absolutely necessary."
-Jonas Hodges, Day 7, 9:00pm-10:00pm
It was a quiet night with only a light breeze to disturb it. The new moon in the sky reflected the darkness as a figure strode purposefully towards the only light, a window that illuminated the small patch of land in front of it.
As the cloaked figure stepped into the light, he was immediately greeted by another cloaked figure. They briefly stood motionless, facing each other, before they clasped arms.
"I see I am not the only late one, Ambroise." Spoke a smooth deep voice, chuckling slightly.
The one called Ambroise nodded stiffly before gesturing for the other man to walk with him before he spoke with as smooth and deep a voice, but with more of a French accent.
"I had to attend a brief meeting with Their Highnesses. It seems as though they have detained Matthias."
The other appeared to be intrigued by this information, but before he could respond they were greeted by a beautiful woman in a revealing evening gown with strands of her short blonde hair blowing in her face.
"The Master has been waiting for you both and has directed me to show you the way." Her face was blank as she spoke and took the men's proffered cloaks.
Promptly she turned and began to walk down an adjacent hallway, her heels clicking as she went. The men followed like wraiths down the brightly lit hall.
She led them through the large mansion and down many halls before finally stopping in front of large and ornately carved doors. Without turning to face her guests, she pushed them open and stepped to the side, allowing them to enter.
The room had a large and polished cherry wood table in the center of the room with at least ten wing backed chairs, all but two of which were filled, positioned around it. At the head of the table, sitting in front of the fire place, sat a powerful looking man with a commanding presence.
At the sound of the doors opening, he directed his stern and demanding gaze upon the two men.
"Ah, Lord Jeremiah, Lord Ambroise, so nice of you to finally join us, correct gentlemen?" At the coldness and slight mocking quality of the voice, the men around the table shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
The slight boom from the doors closing caused some in the room to jump.
Jeremiah managed a weak laugh before he hastily sat in his chair while Ambroise merely nodded his head in the man's direction before taking his seat two seats down from the man's right.
"Now that we are all assembled, I shall begin by wishing you all a good evening and trust that you all had safe and secretive journeys to my humble home," The head of the table paused, allowing time for his ruby eyes to sweep the room and each of the occupants in turn, the fire light casting shadows on his face. "Lord Ambroise, I believe you have news that interests the group at large which would owe to your lateness?"
"I do. I have just come from a meeting with Their Highnesses," at this news, several members shifted once more in their chairs. "It seems as if they have captured Matthias and placed him in an underground dungeon, as to where, my sources are still finding out. The interesting part, Lord Cooper, is that he is perfectly capable of escaping, but chooses not to."
Lord Cooper folded his hands in front of him and looked at the men's faces turned towards his.
"Lords, this is most troubling news indeed. Matthias has been working closely with us as a go-between with ourselves and Victoria. He knows all of our names and faces, allowing that, if he so chooses, he could turn us in to Their Majesties."
"But he was sworn to secrecy!" exclaimed a man farther down the table. The other nobles began to mutter amongst themselves and give furtive glances towards Lord Cooper to see his reaction.
Lord Cooper smiled, albeit a little patronizingly, at the man and held his arms wide. "Why my dear Lord Aldrich that is true, but you know how these mercenaries are! They are not meant to be trusted."
Talking broke out again, but he held up a silencing hand. "Gentlemen, gentlemen, please! Do you honestly believe that I did not have a plan if such a thing as this was to occur?"
Their silence confirmed that they had believed just this, but were too ashamed to admit it.
Lord Cooper's face went from jovial to hard in a matter of seconds as the silence dragged on.
At some hidden signal, the woman from before opened the doors once more, allowing them to close behind her as she walked to where Lord Cooper sat.
Silently, she bowed before offering an envelope for him to take. Once he did this, she positioned herself behind the right side of his chair, facing out towards the rest of the room. The fire light emphasized her figure and threw the rest of her in shadow.
Lord Cooper took the time to open the already unsealed envelope and to read its contents. Once he had finished he handed it off to the woman for her to read aloud.
"Her Royal Highness Queen Gabriella the Fierce and Lord Aubrey Cooper, Head of Palace Defense, wish your attendance at their wedding one month from now. They look forward to your personal appearance." She promptly folded the paper up and placed it back in its casing.
"Thank you, Yeva," Lord Cooper said curtly.
"As you just heard, my darling son is getting married and to one of the Queens no less."
"So? Is this 'get together' your way to scare us into submission and to flaunt your new and higher status?" yelled out a man to Lord Cooper's left. He had stood up and was looking around at the other men seeking assurance, but only few would meet his gaze. The others were too scared to defy Lord Cooper.
"Sit down Leroy, you're just making a spectacle of yourself," said Jeremiah from his relaxed position of his booted feet on the surface of the table and his body slouched in the chair. "You know for a fact that's not what Bartholomew meant and for God's sake, try to use your brain for once and think before you act and make a spectacle of yourself."
If he could still blush, Lord Leroy would be beet red, but instead he just hung his head and lowered himself back into his seat, trying to make himself as small as possible.
"Lord Leroy provides a valid point, Lord Jeremiah, and I would much appreciate if you would remove your boots from my table top. I'd rather it not be scratched." Jeremiah hastily put his feet down and straightened his posture.
"In answer to Lord Leroy's question, I will have Yeva explain my plans and logic behind this joyful news."
Yeva stepped out from the shadows and faced the table with her back ruler straight, arms clasped behind it.
"My Master is planning to use this alliance to gain favor with Queen Gabriella, and by default, the rest of the Queens. By doing this, they will turn a blind eye to our actions and anything Matthias may tell them since they will be inclined to give us the benefit of the doubt. With the Young Master so close to the Queen, he will be able to turn any suspicion away from us due to his loyalty and love for his father."
"Once again, well done Yeva. As you can see, this new role will allow us to implement our plan much more easily, wouldn't you agree?"
He was met with agreeing nods and murmurs.
"With the end of this war, Victoria failed to uphold her end of the bargain by not disposing of the illegitimate Queens when we told her to. It is common fact that women cannot rule a country let alone a nation of vampires, which is where we come in."
Lord Aldrich raised his hand to once again interrupt. "Lord Cooper, are you saying you were behind this recent war?"
"How astute of you, why yes I was a slight instigator and spy for Victoria's side. I even supplied her with soldiers," Lord Cooper replied jovially.
"You went against your own people?" Lord Aldrich continued, shocked.
"I went against the traitors to our great race, those who were complacent under the monstrous regiment of women. I did it for the benefit of our race, which deserved much better than those women who, as we speak, are trying to limit our power." He spat "women" as if it burned his tongue and left a bad taste in his mouth.
At the stunned silence around him, Lord Cooper smiled before standing, Yeva immediately at his side.
"On this note, I leave you gentlemen. Yeva will contact you the usual way with information about our next meeting. Good night."
With that, he turned and walked briskly from the room.
"If the Lords would follow me, I will direct you back to the entrance hall, and from there you shall take your leave." Yeva spoke once more, bowing slightly before opening the double doors all the way and allowing for light to stream into the dimly lit room.
One Hour Earlier…
Bella walked briskly down the hall, dodging her way through the mass of servants that had decided they were needed once more, with Edward's hand clasped in hers as he kept pace with her.
"I can't believe we're late. Why didn't you tell me the meeting time had been changed?" fumed Bella to her amused partner.
"Because I was only informed mere moments before you were, darling." He chuckled.
She shot him a look and huffed some more before they finally made it to their destination.
Quickly nodding to the guards to open the door, Bella walked in, hoping not to draw too much attention to herself – no such luck.
All eyes in the room swiveled to them as the doors closed behind them.
As her regal mask fell into place, Bella addressed the room in a polite voice.
"I do apologize for our lateness; I was not properly informed of the change in time and location of our meeting."
She curtsied while Edward bowed before both made their way to their seats.
Ashley cleared her throat once they were seated and brought attention back to her.
"Now that we are all gathered, let's get to business shall we?"
All heads in the room nodded in confirmation as she picked up the folder in front of her.
"As these documents state, Victoria and Matthias are the ones behind the recent battle. With Victoria dead and Matthias in custody, it appears as if the threat is over." She closed the folder with a small snap and looked in the direction of the noble across the table from her.
"Lord Ambroise, it is to be understood that you are the ambassador for the nobles with the crown?"
"Of course, Your Majesty." He bowed his head in acknowledgement.
"Then I trust you will relay this information to the other nobles with the addition that since we are not fully clear on whether the threat has been eliminated, my sisters and I will be maintaining our war time extension of power. There will be no debate on that matter."
Lord Ambroise stood, gathering his cloak in his hand, before bowing. "Perfectly understood, Your Majesty." He turned to the other three and bowed once more. "Your Majesties."
The door closed behind him with a soft click.
Once he had left, the rest of the people in the room let out a loud sigh.
Nicole relaxed a little more in her chair, linking her fingers with Aubrey's. "I agree. Just the thought of them gives me a headache."
Ashley tsk'd at their behavior. "Ambroise's not that bad. He's always polite when he's around us; I think we can trust him at least."
"So do I, I've had my eye on all of the nobles and out of all of them Ambroise's got the cleanest slate, that includes your dad by the way Aubrey. His plans to have you marry one of us and his raising you to be a chauvinist takes away major points towards trustability." Bella nodded sagely at her deductions towards Aubrey who simply shrugged.
Edward did his crooked smile and glanced at Bella.
"Bella, 'trustability' is not a word."
"Truthiness is so why can't trustability?" She said as she stretched her arms above her head.
Just then the large grandfather clock in the corner of the room chimed ten times making Nicole stand up in alarm.
"Um, I need to go now so talk to you all later. Bye." She picked up her skirts and hurried out the door leaving the rest clueless.
Simultaneously all heads turned towards Aubrey.
"What? She promised she'd go see Naphim in her rooms since Naphim's getting discharged today."
"So soon?" asked Ashley, concerned.
"Well, for a dragon, this is pretty late. She did almost die." Bella argued.
Naphim was currently in her room which was located next to Nicole's. She was in a sitting position, being supported by the many pillows behind her. Her long green hair was in a bun behind her head to keep it out of the way of the bandages that went around her forehead and most of her face. Bandages could also be seen leading under her shirt from her arms and neck, with splotches of red staining them in select places. Her legs were bandaged as well, but they were covered by the sheets and heavy comforter.
Both bedside tables were covered with pills that she needed to take, a glass of water, stacks of books for her to read to stave off boredom, and a few plates with only crumbs left. Next to her bed was an IV stand with two bags hooked on it, one clear the other a light purple. The IVs led to her left wrist and arm.
When a soft knock was heard at her door, Naphim gave a tired "come in" and waited for the visitor to enter.
Nicole closed the door softly behind her and walked briskly towards Naphim's bed to sit on the edge of it.
"How're you doin' lizard-breath?" Nicole teased as she looked Naphim's bandages over with a critical eye.
"I feel like shit." Naphim groaned and reached for a handful of pills to put in her mouth.
Nicole picked one up and looked it, "You can swallow this horse pill?"
"Swallowed whole horses before so this is nothing."
"Way to break stereotypes." Nicole replied sarcastically.
"I know, but pillaging is so much fun."
Naphim set the glass of water and down and looked at Nicole, hoping to see a smirk or glare but instead found the most vulnerable look she'd ever seen on Nicole's face. It seems like Naphim's near-death experience had finally taken a toll on Nicole's ability to put on a brave face.
"I was so scared I was going to lose you. When I found you with all those monsters crawling all over you, I didn't know what to think." Nicole took Naphim's hand in both of hers.
"Oh Niki, look, I'm fine now! Just the fact you care this much about me is enough. I can honestly say you are one of a hand full of people who actually care about my future."
Naphim tried to put on a brave smile, but Nicole saw through it.
"Those stupid dragon elders don't know what they're missing." Nicole growled the last part.
"It's fine though, I have Xaephyn and Raina, even Fazaron cares about me so I have enough familial love in that department." Naphim patted the queen on her head, earning a glare.
"So what's this I hear about you finally getting hitched?" she asked, changing the subject.
Nicole looked surprised that Naphim even knew about it, in response Naphim added:
"The Medic Faeries love to gossip."
"Yeah, well, I proposed to Aubrey and he said yes, so we're getting married in a month." Nicole tried to hide her excitement, but her dragon could still see it.
"You have told him that if he ever hurts you, he's mine to maim?"
At this, Naphim's eyes glowed a fiery green and her canines became even more pronounced.
"Get in line. I just wish my dad could walk me down the aisle. Mordecai's doing it instead."
"What was your dad like? You haven't really told me about your human life." Naphim was generally curious since she's told Nicole practically everything about her life.
"Well, he's partly the reason I am the way I am. He always told me to be my own woman and to never let a man walk over me, hence my proposing to Aubrey. However, back in the early twentieth-century, this is not always a good thing. He taught me how to be a mechanic, did you know that? I even worked in Poppa's shop, but he had to tell the people who came to get their cars fixed that he did it. He eventually earned the title of fastest mechanic in town, even though I was helping him the whole time."
Nicole chuckled softly to herself at some memory before continuing. "I don't remember much, I don't even know how or why I was changed, just that I was. When I left it broke Poppa's heart since I was the only one he had left. Mom died after getting cholera when I was three. He was never the same and it killed me to not be there for him. I think a little while after he had a stroke at a niece's wedding."
Naphim gathered Nicole in her arms and gave her a hug while Nicole lay there, content in just remember her "Poppa".
After a few moments Naphim pushed Nicole onto the floor and began cackling.
"What the hell was that for, bitch?!" shrieked Nicole from the floor.
"Pity party time is hella over! Now let's surf the net to see how much we can sell my meds for." Naphim whipped out a laptop from seemingly nowhere and scooted over to give Nicole some room on the bed next to her.
It was currently six o'clock in the morning if Alexander counted the number of chimes that the grand clock in the main entrance had let out correctly.
He sighed softly to himself as he checked his own pocket watch that had a chain leading to the pocket inside his coat.
Just as he was about to make his way to the kitchens to check on that day's menu, the main door opened to reveal Lord Cooper.
He hastily made his way over to take the Lord's cloak.
"Lord Cooper, how wonderful to see you, but we were not expecting you till much later." Alexander said as he bowed.
"I hope I'm not intruding, it's just that my Yeva hasn't seen Aubrey in so long and she wanted to get here earlier."
A quick glance at the blank face of Yeva proved Lord Cooper's statement false, but Alexander chose not to question as it wasn't his place.
"Lord Cooper, Ms. Yeva, if you both would follow me I can show you to your rooms – Ah! Young Lord Cooper."
Aubrey made his way into the hall, looking up from the folder he had been scanning at the greeting.
"Father!" He rushed over to clasp hands with his father before giving him a bone crushing hug.
"What are you doing here, father? I never got a letter telling us of your arrival."
Lord Cooper took in Aubrey's golden eyes and frowned slightly before giving his son a wide smile, his eyes twinkling. "I wanted to surprise you, especially after that invitation! Married, my son! And to a queen no less. I knew I could be proud of you."
Aubrey grinned even more at his father's pride and turned to give Yeva a hug.
Alexander coughed softly, brining attention back to himself.
"Ah yes, the rooms. How about after I get settled, you show me this blushing bride of yours, eh my son?"
Aubrey looked nervous for a second before recovering slightly. "Of course father."
The group made their way up the grand staircase with Alexander leading the way.
As they walked, Lord Cooper continued the discussion with his son.
"So how did you propose?"
"Um, about that father, Gabriella did the proposing."
Lord Cooper halted his steps and gave his son a harsh look before recovering.
"Unconventional, but never mind that." He threw an arm around Aubrey's shoulders and gave a little squeeze.
As soon as Aubrey left the room, Lord Cooper's loving-father mask fell and he showed his true face: one of livid rage.
How dare that woman propose to his son! No matter, once his plan is realized, Aubrey will be shown what his proper place should be and everything will be righted again.
Do you know the enemy?
Do you know your enemy?
Well, gotta know the enemy
A/N: Well apparently some people don't read the author's note and thought that I ended the fic. No! I used to write "The End!" at the ends of all my chapters remember? Just felt like throwing it in this time since I hadn't done it in a while. See the importance of reading the author's notes? Sometimes it's just me rambling but other times I put major clues in.
The song is Know Your Enemy by Green Day. Great album. The quote is from the show '24', the last season. 24 gave me so much inspiration for this fic you have no idea. Just when you thought it was over I throw you a curve ball. -evil grin-
I hope you all liked it! I'm sorry for taking so long but I've had exams and end of school activites. I figured I'd might as well update before I go see Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in concert (awesomness!!) Gosh, now I need to start the college process..kill me now.
This chapter is dedicated to TrueLove4Ever. She's the one who made me the deal that if I updated my fic she would update hers. So here it is! I've updated! Where's yours? Take that biatch!!!...........I love you! XD