"Quiet, please. Quiet! QUI-ET!" Goth roared for attention. "Have you all shut up? If anyone is caught talking without permission, they will become the next sacrifie to Zotz." The meeting cavern was silent. However much of an honor it was to be sacrificed, no one had a death wish.

"All right. To business. We have a Zotz convert in our midst. Chinook Silverwing, are you ready to reject the title of Silverwing and join our ranks?"

Chinook stepped forward. He swallowed. This was the big moment. "Yes," he tried to say, but it came out a squeak. He tried again. "Yes, I am."

"Repeat after me, the sacred oath. 'I solemnly swear to serve the Vampyrum Spectrum all the days of my life, never swerving, never failing. I am the agent of Zotz, a foothold of the Cause, an upholder of the Cause. I swear to live my life by the Code of Zotz. I will never break the Code. The blood of the innocent is my crown, the lives of the underlings are my glory. I will eat meat and grow strong. I swear I will give my life for Zotz. I will give my all to the Vampyrum. By Zotz, I do swear.'"

Chinook took a deep breath. "I solemnly swear..." He repeated the oath word for word, with as much conviction he could muster.

"Let it be heard today. This young bat is no longer of the name Chinook Silverwing. Your new name shall be read from the book. Voxaco!" Goth snapped.

"Yes, King Goth. Yes, yes." Voxaco scuttled forward with an enormous tome. Blowing the dust from its thick, cracked cover, he read aloud: "The Names of the Vampyrum: a royal species of pure blood and lineage." Goth stepped up to accept the thick book. Cracking it open, he laid it on a ledge of stone.

"Young bat, are you ready?" It was more of a statement than a question. Goth riffled through the ancient pages with great aplomb. Clearing his throat, Goth began the naming mantra. "Through the ancient bloodlines, life itself flows," he intoned. "From it we must pluck a single name, a pure name, one that carries no fault. That name is Vampyrum. From the Vampyrum bloodline we must pluck a royal name, one that Zotz himself would carry without shame." Flipping a few more pages, Goth bent over the tiny symbols engraved in the paper and read aloud: "Dossian Vampyrum."

The newly renamed Dossian perched proudly in front of the Vampyrum colony. He would be a good little vampire bat, and he would get honor and glory like none before him. Just think of those poor doddering old fools back at Statue Haven, he thought. Scared of us! Ha! Thoughts of revenge and hate flooded Dossian's young mind. He would see to it personally that each of those bats would pay, and pay dearly.

Froggie Vampyrum slunk out of the meeting cavern. Now that one lucky prisoner had gone and gotten himself promoted. Dossian, now was he. Practically royalty, now was he. A malicious smile spread across Froggie's face like the blood of a young rat. That could be fixed.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~

The makeshift colony of Statue Haven flew on through the silence. The cold nipped at all their wings, and each member felt the strength sapping from their bones. Yet none complained, not even a whimper. The situation rested heavily on the shoulders of each bat, cloaking them in silence.

"Mm-Mister Caliban?" a yearling bat ventured a whisper. "Can we rest? I'm hungry." Caliban's gaze softened. Of course his colony needed to eat to flee the Vampyrum.

After stopping at an old twisted oak tree, Caliban discovered he could move no more. From the rush of the escape, his muscles seemed to seize up. "Alright, people, let's bed here for the day. But absolutely NO NOISE. I don't want to hear a tick scratching in your fur. Every move we make could alert those spies to our presence." On that happy note, Caliban folded his wings and drifted into a dreamless sleep.