Loosely set some time after 4x01, then goes completely AU from there, so no hunters and no cure. Apologies for slight OOC, but I somehow had to get the need for fluff out of my system. ;)

The story builds rather slowly and turned out to be very long, so please let me know if you think I should continue uploading.

Rated M for a couple of very good reasons in later chapters.

I really hope you'll like it!

Oh – and I don't own TVD. If only I did.



Klaus grabbed his leather coat and fastened his time-worn sword at his belt.

"It is quite out of the question," he said calmly, without even bothering to turn around and look at his younger brother.

"I want to go with you!" Kol exclaimed heatedly. "Why should you be the only one to enjoy the Baron's lavish soirées?"

"Because, mon cher frère, I was invited to enjoy them. You were not. And this puts an end to the discussion, Kol. You will stay where you are, or you shall answer to me."

Kol cried out in frustration. Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Baron de Rais, was a living legend. A legend with a twist, Kol had to admit, but that was the basis of his appeal. He had once been by far the richest man in France, his wealth surpassing even that of King Charles VII. He had fought alongside Joan of Arc and was subsequently made a Marshall of France. As had been the case since the beginning of time, glory entailed envy, and the Baron had been at the center of some rather unsavoury rumours for many years, even more so since his wealth had started to diminish as a consequence of his lifestyle, which was one of prodigious waste . Kol was burning with curiosity to find out whether any of those claims were substantiated, and now his brother was presented with such a splendid opportunity, being invited to the Baron's Château at Tiffauges, and he declined him all his amusement.

He stomped his foot and shouted at Klaus, "I demand that you take me with you!"

His older brother smirked at him. "Behaving like an unruly youngling is not quite helping your case."

Kol winced, realizing his mistake. He so wanted Klaus to take him seriously, to let him be a part of his venturing. Whining like a pouting child would certainly work wonders.

"Brother, I do not wish to repeat myself more than I already have. You are not accompanying me. You will remain here with your sister."

"I concur with Niklaus," Elijah's even voice suddenly resonated from the hallway. Both Klaus and Kol turned to him, Klaus giving him a quick nod to acknowledge his support. Kol started to protest, but Elijah had reached him and put a soothing hand on his shoulder. "I have business to attend to, and you will need to stay with Rebekah."

Kol scoffed. "She is perfectly capable of looking after herself. In fact, I rather dread being alone with her when you are both gone. The last time you left, she started to throw the furniture at me out of sheer boredom!" he complained, sounding appalled.

Klaus suppressed a chuckle. His brother was so utterly hot-headed, and to think he had met his match in their younger sister was indeed amusing.

"You will successfully hold your own, I am certain of it."

"Nik, I don't…"

Klaus grabbed Kol's lapels and stared at him, menace almost palpable in the room now. "Should you make me say it again, I will put you in chains and bury you in the deepest pit I shall find this side of purgatory," he hissed in that eerie voice even his siblings had learned to fear. "Our father is still out there somewhere, and I will not allow either you or Rebekah to remain without each other's protection in the event of both Elijah's and my absence. You will stay together. Have I made myself quite clear?"

"So why are you and Elijah permitted to wander off with no protection then?" Kol spat.

"My reasons for doing as I see fit are of no concern to you. Suffice it to say that you will do as I tell you," Klaus replied, his tone final. Kol could see that his brother would not yield. He turned on his heel and stormed out of the chamber, slamming the door so hard it unhinged and clattered noisily to Elijah's feet.

"And you will have the bloody door mended before I shall return!" Klaus shouted after him.

Elijah smiled indulgently at the scene and winked at Klaus. "Do you think he will outgrow his adolescence eventually?" he asked, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

"If that day ever comes, I shall commence to believe in a higher power after all," Klaus replied with a mock sigh. Both men chuckled companionably.

"So why are you not taking him with you, Niklaus? It is not that the Baron would mind, would he?" Elijah inquired after a moment. Klaus glanced at the broken door and jerked his head towards the portal.

"Outside," he simply said.

When they reached the gardens, Klaus turned to Elijah, a thoughtful expression on his face. "You have heard the rumours." It was not a question.

"Yes. The Baron is said to have a fondness for abduction and torture of young ones. It has been brought to my knowledge on quite a number of occasions, and by different sources at that. Do you believe this to be true?"

"More than that. I am certain these rumours barely touch the surface of what is really happening at Tiffauges," Klaus replied quietly. "And I do intend to find out all about it," he added with an adventurous gleam in his eyes. "But this is not for Kol. I will do this by myself. If only a fraction of the whispers is true, I do not want him to see any of it. Unstable as he is, it will wreak havoc on his mind."

"Of course," Elijah remarked with only the faintest hint of sarcasm to his voice, "the great Niklaus Mikaelson and his eternal quest to see every evil mankind can concoct. Because the atrocity monstrous enough to have an effect on his mind has yet to be invented. Am I not right?"

"Careful, brother. This is none of your concern."

"You are my brother. It is," Elijah stated simply.

"Suit yourself," Klaus shrugged and started walking towards the stables. His favorite horse was waiting for him. Tempest was a beautiful, tall, pitch-black Andalusian, as spirited and stubborn as his master. He was faster than any horse Klaus had ever beheld, and he had a strange air of pride about him. Their relationship was a permanent battle for dominance, which made them perfect for each other. No one but Klaus could get so much as near Tempest; the horse was utterly loyal to him despite their continuous skirmishes. Klaus had never been able to get himself to break the animal's spirit, even though it would have been easy enough for him to do. It was not what he wanted. And somehow, Tempest always seemed to know the precise moment Klaus needed him to stop fighting and join forces. Ah, how he looked forward to the ride!

"Niklaus," Elijah said behind him.

"What is it now?"

"Pray be cautious. There is something very wrong with the Baron, and it makes me uneasy."

Klaus snorted disparagingly. "You must be jesting. He is but a mere human."

"I do not have a good feeling, Niklaus. There are also rumours that the Baron courts dark magic. He is said to have a powerful warlock at his constant beck and call. Do give me your word you will be careful. Indulge me."

Klaus waved his hand impatiently. "Fine. If it means this much to you, I shall give you my promise I will be cautious." They had almost reached the stables when he addressed Elijah again. "Will you arrange the meeting with the Spanish ambassador, Elijah? You have excellent relations amongst the Spanish courtiers, which may prove of great value to us soon, as I do believe it is time to move on. We overstayed this time. People are beginning to notice, and Kol's constant rampages are becoming increasingly difficult to conceal. Spain should prove an excellent country of residence; the Reconquista keeps both aristocracy and peasants fully occupied and will presumably do so for quite some time, so we shall be able to remain fairly inconspicuous. Would you not agree, brother?"

"Indeed I would. Spain is an excellent choice, not only for the reasons you named. There are great opportunities in Spain's rise to Europe's foremost sea power, as I like to believe a great part of the world is yet to be discovered, and who but a sea-faring nation would be better equipped to endeavour such ventures? We shall be able to augment our wealth, and times are to be eventful. Haven't we always been where history is made?" Elijah replied with a knowing smile.

Klaus inclined his head in assent. "So we have. And I do share your view on the prospects awaiting us in Spain. You are a very wise and far-sighted man, Elijah, and there is not a doubt in my mind that your arrangements will prove as excellent as ever they were. Let us speak in greater detail upon our return, for I must now make haste."

He had started to saddle Tempest, who was sidling about, impatiently nudging Klaus. "Cannot wait to try and throw me off, can you, m'boy?" he chuckled delightedly at his all-too-eager horse. "Well, let us see who will be the master today, shall we? Not that there can be any doubt about that!" As if he had understood perfectly, Tempest threw his head back and attempted to push Klaus into the wall of the bay, but the Original merely laughed. "Let us get to it then!"

The brothers led their horses from the stables. Tempest kept snapping at Elijah's light brown stallion, Vali, making him neigh indignantly.

"This horse of yours is in bad need of some manners," Elijah remarked dryly.

"I would not want him any other way. He is headstrong, obstinate and willful," Klaus smiled, patting Tempest's neck, and then mounting the animal in one swift move without bothering to use the stirrups.

"Now who does that remind me of?" Elijah rolled his eyes and mounted his own horse in a more conservative fashion.

"I will see you in a few days, brother," Klaus called over his shoulder. "And by the by, Elijah – it will be you who is to break the news of our upcoming change of scenery to the youngsters this time. I am not keen on being on the receiving end of one of Bekah's temper tantrums again. It was frightful enough when she had to give up that ludicrous Italian count back in Venice… you remember she tried to stake me with his walking cane?"

Elijah grinned widely at the memory.

"I will tell them. I shall be looking forward to discover whether Rebekah will attempt to strangle me with one of her current minion's ridiculously coloured belts this time." That earned him one of Klaus' rare genuine laughs.

"Godspeed, Elijah."

"Godspeed. We shall reconvene in a few days."

With that, the brothers went their separate ways, one of them in high spirits, the other with a growing feeling of unease.