For the prompt: "Legacy of Kain, Melchiah/Turel: Worship - I am not worthy."


There are stars in the roof of Turel's high tower. Melchiah reclines on one of his brother's velvet-covered couches, looking up at the intricately carved ceiling of the chamber, with its sculpted vines and numerous small details. This room is beautiful, unlike the rest of his older brother's realm. Out there amongst the factories and smokestacks lies the burning forge of Kain's great army. The yawning smelting pits and white-glowing furnaces belch out heat and smoke, the sooty forges producing not only armour and weaponry, but building materials for the strongholds of each clan. Without the smithing skills of the Turelim the war, and the expansion of the Empire, would have faltered long ago.

Turel is sat at his desk, the scratching of his quill the only sound. Behind him rise carved bookshelves of oak, filled with tomes whose covers are bound in rich leather and etched with gold. There are furs draped over the high back of his chair and tossed across the floor. This whole room is filled with an opulence that could not be guessed at from the soot and dark smoke of the factory district below.

Melchiah does not belong here. He can smell the sweet incenses the servants have left to burn, and the richness of the decanter of blood that stands on the end of Turel's desk. If he closes his eyes he can almost feel the scent rolling over him, creeping along his body like smoke. He brings with him no such beauty, no such finery. Where Melchiah walks, the scent of the grave follows him - dirt and stagnant water and burial unguents. These are his perfumes and his incenses.

"I have something for you."

The scratching of the quill stops and there's a faint clink of metal on glass as it is set down. The creak of leather and wood tells Melchiah that his brother has risen and is moving across the room towards him. With difficulty he pulls his gaze from the stone constellations carved above and turns his head. His brother has something in his hands, wrapped in silk as deep a green as the leaves of the holly bushes that scrape against the walls of Dumah's most southern fortresses.

"For me?" he replies, made stupid with surprise. Gifts are not something he can accept without suspicion. They are rare things, normally given in spite or fear when not from the hands of one of his own children. His brothers have nothing with which they are willing to part, not without a price. But Turel, he is different. There's no pity in him. Had there been pity or second-hand indignation on his part then Melchiah would have known it and denied him at once. But not Turel, no. Turel is righteous and clever, but not condescending or manipulative.

He sits up, swinging his feet down to the floor, and Turel holds out the gift, letting it lie across one of his enormous palms as with the other hand he deftly unwraps the cloth that covers it. Melchiah watches in silence, and then stills as the gift it revealed.

"I made it," Turel rumbles. "It is one of a kind, a prototype, if you will."

Across his claws lies a weapon of gleaming silver, curved and compact, a curious mechanism of bolts and levers that makes a mockery of a crossbow's bite. This weapon is deadly and terrible and as far as Melchiah knows, it is the only one of its kind.

"You made this?" he repeats, looking up at his brother.

Turel's expression is mild, nonchalant almost, as if the presentation of a deadly, precious gift is an everyday occurrence to him. "Yes. As I said, it's only a prototype, but it works. It has power enough to pierce through armour and put an end to a destrier on the charge."

"But this is..." Melchiah holds his claws a scant inch above the surface of the weapon, as though he dare not touch it.

"Modelled on those the Sarafan carry, yes. We lack the secret to the mass production of their black powders though, so there will be few of these produced." He does not add, and fewer who would need to use them anyhow. Turel may be the most honestly spoken of his brothers, but he has tact nonetheless. "I thought you might like it. Take it."

Melchiah knows the significance of this gift. No vampiric child of Kain needs to use a weapon like this. They do not flinch from the edge of another's blade, nor do they fear to use their own vampiric weapons in battle, be they claw or magic. But Melchiah is last and least of Kain's sons, and his clan follows in their father's dragging footsteps. Such a weapon as this can help them protect themselves, shield their delicate flesh from the rigours of battle.

He reaches out and lifts the gun from his brother's claws. It is heavy in his hand, stocky and compact and gleaming with destructive intent. A weapon such as this is a gift worthy of a king, and yet it has been presented to the least of them all. Had it come from any other, the weapon would have been a trap, or a poisoned chalice, at the very best it would have been a bribe. But not so with Turel. For no reason that Melchiah can see, Turel holds no animosity towards him, and no pity either. For one who has failed so often, in so many ways, this is almost an unbearable blessing. Melchiah looks up into his brother's eyes and sees the man he yearns to be. "I thank you, my brother," he says softly.

Turel nods in satisfaction, and turns away. He leaves the deep green silk lying across Melchiah's lap and resumes his place at his desk. In the soft glow of the lamp, his brother turns the weapon in his claws and watches the stars above twist in its deadly, beautiful finish.