here we go again! :)
Sanctuaries is the sequel to my first story, Dungeons, therefore I would definitely recommend that if you have not already done so, please read Dungeons before starting with this fic, as it will not make much sense to you otherwise! :)
I am really, really excited to finally start publishing this sequel! Same as with Dungeons, it is entirely AU (you will remember that the first story started after 4x01 and went AU from there - Kol is still alive, there are no hunters, no ghosts, no Silas). There will be quite some fluff, A LOT of smut, and I apologize to everyone in advance for any grammar and spelling mistakes. Please be kind, English is not my first language.
The story finally turned out to be even longer than Dungeons, so I hope you will stay with me!
Last but not least, I don't own TVD / TO.
And you know what, guys? I'm even more nervous now than when I started publishing Dungeons, so from the bottom of my heart, I really hope you will like Sanctuaries!
MEHRGARH, INDUS VALLEY, 5510 B.C.
Once, before the dark endowment had been bequeathed on him, he had had a life. A home, a family. He had been a respected member of the settlement and the community. From the very day of his birth, great accomplishments had been expected from him, for both his father and mother were of a strength and health not often found in Mehrgarh. His first fourteen summers had been free from shadows or any foreboding of the eternal night that had descended upon him like a lightning out of clear skies.
That day. That ill-fated, foul day.
When the first morning light had tentatively made its way into their valley, he had silently left the house to gather with some of the other younglings. They were all proud of their settlement, which was the single most advanced village anyone had ever beheld. Where other communities lived in mere huts, Mehrgarh consisted of mud brick houses with solid walls and roofs, fighting off the cold and the heat like no other dwelling could. It made them all stronger and less prone to diseases brought by the incessant onslaught of the elements.
Their way down to the river had been accompanied by laughter and good-natured rivalry over women, strength and knowledge. But they all knew and accepted that one stood out among them, and he reveled in their admiration like a lizard bathed in the sunlight. As their leader, he would be the first to take today's challenge – he would swim to the opposite side of the stream and back. Avoiding the crocodiles they could already discern within the slowly meandering water.
Never one to hesitate, he had immediately plunged into the river, accompanied by the cries and cheers of his friends. The water had been unexpectedly cold, but he ignored that as he ignored the crocodiles. He knew no fear. He had reached the opposite shore and had made it through half of the river when it happened. A crocodile approached him so fast he had no time to even think. Its mouth opened, and all he saw were teeth. Sharp, pointy teeth that would sink into his flesh in less than the blink of an eye. He closed his eyes and awaited his fate. But he never felt the deadly bite of the animal.
When his eyes opened again, there was not a single crocodile in sight, and he could see his friends convulsing on the ground in what seemed to be acute agony. Very swiftly, he made his way back to the shore and watched the boys in astonishment. What was happening to them? He was far from feeling any pain. No, he felt strong, powerful and… superior. Very, very superior to those poor weaklings in the dust at his feet. The tension that had gripped his body in the face of certain death left him now, and at the very same instant, his friends stopped gasping in pain. One after another, they rose to their feet and stared at him in repulsion. They had all seen that he had been a heartbeat away from death, and they had also seen that the crocodiles had disappeared. And they had all seen that he had been the only one spared of the agony they had all suffered.
His fate had been sealed that day. He had become an outcast whom not even his own father and mother tolerated under their roof. No one understood what had happened, but instinctively, they all knew that it was not good. Day by day, more of the villagers turned their backs on him until finally, his father had asked him to leave Mehrgarh. He was no longer willing to live with the disgrace of having sired a monstrosity.
For many moons, he had hidden in the woods, torn between the darkest of hates and the deepest of despairs. And with every passing day, his strength had grown, nurtured by the rage that had now found a permanent home inside his heart. There were more incidents like the one that had set everything in motion, and he had begun to understand that the occurrences were in fact his to dominate. His power became such that he was capable of commanding the elements, and he decided to make good use of it. One day, he hovered in a small grove close to Mehrgarh, watching his father and mother. He had never been able to shed his yearning for his home, his family, however ill they had served him, so he came often, without being seen, to feel and behold what was lost to him. That day, he overheard his father speaking to his mother and some friends about him, voicing his relief at having rid himself and the entire village of the creature that he had once mistaken for a son. His words were harsh, belittling and humiliating, slicing him like a blade and hurting him like nothing ever had or would again. He had felt his heart turn to stone, and every kind feeling inside him finally died that day.
That very same night, he had stood on a hill next to the river, near the village. He had looked at the nightly fires for a long while before he had raised his hands. With a deep, thundering grumble, the water had risen from the riverbed. A wave, as high as the skies, had slowly made its way towards Mehrgarh, casting a black shadow that had obscured even the moon. Amidst the desperate screams of the villagers, the wall of water had buried the settlement, washing out everything and everyone. There had been no survivors and only one witness, a man herding his goats on the opposite banks of the river.
He was standing on top of a mountain, remembering the event that had happened so many summers ago. A God amongst men, he walked the Earth alone, feared by all, hated by many. He had no equals, no companions and nothing left to do. Not long ago, he had decided to leave this life behind and make his way to a new world. A world he himself would beget, a dark, desolate place destined to house those who, like him, had wronged this Earth. But he would imprint himself on the world of the living before he moved on.
His father had called him a creature, and creatures he would leave behind. Creatures who had once been men like him, but were befallen by a curse as dark as his. Sharing his fate as outcasts, powerful but lonely.
A man turned beast, his thirst but quenched by blood, not water.
A man turned wolf, the moon his home and his disgrace.
A man turned spirit, his hands bequeathing light or darkness.
Once these creatures had met the end of their natural lives, they would join his world. They would pay for their powers just the way he had. With darkness, loneliness and eternal suffering.
After many summers of consideration, he had decided to settle his world between the two existing ones – that of the living and that of the dead. It would take all of his powers, his entire being and everything he was to create this dominion. But he had learned something during his long, cursed life. Not even he was strong enough to build an eternal world. Nature had seen to it that the only thing eternal was the world of the dead. For everything else, there had to be a counterpoint, a way to balance and destroy it should it become too powerful. Therefore his efforts would be futile if he did not leave the world with one single means of annihilating his creation, however much he loathed the thought.
But he would make it almost impossible for anyone to understand what it would take to end his masterpiece, and so many coincidences would have to come to pass that he was entirely certain eternity would not be much longer than the period his world would exist.
Looking down from the mountain to the sea that spread deep beneath him, he opened his arms, embracing the world of the living for one last time. Then he closed his eyes.
Energy burst through him, power, light, darkness. Around him, a storm began to rage, a storm so devastating it would leave a wake of destruction the likes of which no one had ever seen. Or would again. He stood in the center of what resembled the beginning and ending of all times, feeling his essence, his being drawn from him, tearing him apart and pulling him back together.
There was not a single place on Earth where the storm could not be felt. Men, women, children and animals huddled together, sensing that something extraordinary was happening. They all feared the end of the world, and none of them would ever understand how close it truly was.
The storm raged for six days and six nights.
When he opened his eyes, he smiled. He had made his way, and he would be followed by thousands over the aeons. They were all still at home in the world of the living, but soon the first condemned creatures would see what he had given rise to. A place that no one could ever mistake for a home.
The Other Side.
HAMATH, ASSYRIA, 1050 B.C.
The scribe glanced down at what he had just written. He was a man of knowledge and wisdom, highly regarded in Hamath and beyond, but he could not bring any meaning to the series of words he had been instructed to record. The king had given the orders in person, and the scribe obeyed without questioning his ruler. Still, he could not help but wonder at the strange text that was being dictated by the hooded man who kept his face hidden from the unforgiving sun.
In its core, the document seemed to be an instruction. It spoke of creatures that drank blood, of magic and of men turning into wild beasts, of golden roses and the twilight. Never had a more remarkable composition of poetry, prose and riddles been put in writing. A few years ago, the scribe had been tasked with copying the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and not even that arcane manuscript could compare to this one. At the end of the papyrus scroll, the scribe had listed a large number of the most wondrous ingredients that were apparently indispensable to complete the instructions that preceded the list.
When he was finished, he rolled up the papyrus and stored it in the wooden box his visitor had brought with him. He looked up when the man spoke once more, his voice a mere rasp.
"Have my gratitude for your services, scribe. You are widely renowned to be a man of discretion, which makes me hope I can rely on your silence in regard to what you have just recorded."
The scribe bowed and replied, "You can."
And the stranger could indeed. Not once had the scribe forsaken his self-imposed pledge of secrecy and he had no intention of ever doing so. He was, however, a very thorough man. Blessed with the rare talent of never forgetting a single word he had written, he had begun to clandestinely crafting copies of each and every document he was instructed to compose, and it would be no different with this one. Those copies were his protection, for they contained not few secrets that, in the hands of the wrong men, could bring down the kingdom. No one, not even his beautiful young wife, would ever learn of his secret library.
Some coins changed hands before the hooded man took the wooden casket and left without another word. Shaking his head, the scribe gathered his instruments, stowed his payment and set off towards his home where his wife was waiting for him. On his way, he could not stop repeating the strange text in his mind. What did it all mean? His curiosity was piqued, and he wondered whether the king knew what he had instructed to be written. Who had that stranger been that the ruler himself had given order to obey under any circumstances?
Later that night, the scribe was panting and moaning in the embrace of his wife, a fiery young woman with the face of a queen and the body of a goddess. He had no inkling as to why she had ever chosen him, a man in the autumn of his life, scholarly but neither wealthy nor fine-looking. Alas, he no longer questioned the Gods but accepted and enjoyed the pleasures that were bestowed on him. Her soft black hair was flowing over his groin as her lips did things to his body he had not deemed possible. He groaned in despair when her mouth left him.
"So," she purred, "what has your mysterious task been?"
"I cannot say," the scribe gasped. "I have given my word."
"I understand," she whispered, right before her hands and lips were on him again. Now her tongue made him almost mewl with pleasure. "Forgive me, husband, I was merely curious." Her mouth took hold of him determinedly and he cried out. She moved over his body sinuously like a cat, all hands and tongue and lips.
"Ah," he moaned, "it were strange words about… oh, please!"
She hummed against him. "This, husband? Is it this you desire?"
He groaned loudly. "Yes, yes! Oh, I will tell you everything if you do carry on!"
A short while later the woman left in silence, never looking back at the house that had witnessed the merciless slaying of her husband.
And that contained copies of everything the scribe had ever written.
The two brothers were standing side by side on a slight elevation in the center of the crescent formed by the lake. Elijah looked around himself skeptically. "This is nothing but a bloody swamp, brother. It is not that I mind mosquitoes, serpents, alligators and diseases, but if you plan on establishing a settlement that is to eventually include some humans, you might want to consider an alternative location."
Lifting the corner of his mouth a fraction, Klaus shook his head. "I am surprised, Elijah. My older brother, the visionary, the man with such an infallible nose for golden opportunities, fails to see the potential of this place? Do have a closer look at the promise it holds for a very rich future. Here you have the river, the bayou and the lake. It eludes me how anyone would even consider naming anything after a man like the Comte de Pontchartrain, but I am digressing. Consider this – the natives have already created a portage between the headwaters of Bayou St. John and the river which can be easily amplified or turned into a canal. As the bayou flows into Lake Pontchartrain and from there to the sea, you have an important and already established trade route right on your hands. With a larger settlement, trade can be expanded to considerable magnitudes, and I might even go as far as building a port for overseas shipping. There are herds of both Black and White witches hidden in the swamps to call upon, should need arise, and the darkness the area exudes makes it the perfect sanctuary for everything supernatural. Not to mention the legions of human dross no one is ever going to miss. Perfect feeding grounds, even for Kol. Name one thing this place is lacking."
"Dry grounds, to begin with."
Klaus smiled. His brother did have a point, but he had already considered that particular inconvenience in great depth, and he had developed a plan to resolve the issue. It was costly, time-consuming and complex, but it was not impossible. First of all, drainage would present a continual problem because of the geographical peculiarities of the region, and although Bayou St. John offered a natural drainage towards Lake Pontchartrain, Klaus had quickly understood it would not be enough to cope with the heavy rainfall he had come to observe rather frequently. Therefore, a system consisting of canals that drained into three larger outfall canals running from South to North into the Lake would need to be built – he had already designed it.
He had chosen this wild, uncivilized region for what it represented. Darkness, malice and mystery. It was him. Furthermore, they had continuously been on the move over the centuries, but they had always chosen established towns and settlements. This time, Klaus wanted to create something of his own. He wanted to build, to shape, to form. And to leave his mark. It was a notion he knew Elijah could not quite comprehend. His brother's ambitions were more mundane, centering on everything financial and political. It had made them rich beyond anyone's wildest imagination, but it could not quell Klaus' desire to create. In a few centuries' time, he wanted to look at a thriving, prosperous, dark city and know that he had been the one to bring it to life. He had seen much lesser men succeed, so why wouldn't he?
"I have thought of everything. This area is on elevated grounds, so the required dry-pumping will be reduced to a minimum. A canal system will be necessary which you will be delighted to hear I have entirely planned out already. The settlement will be built in a crescent following the border of the lake." Klaus motioned towards the shoreline to illustrate his idea. "This is my vision, Elijah, and I am absolutely certain it will be a great success."
The older Original pinched the bridge of his nose. "Niklaus, I am well aware of how much you admire what Czar Peter is achieving with Saint Petersburg over in Russia, and it is a great feat, I will have to admit that. But may I ask what brought this up? Is it a sudden desire to see your name in a history book someday?"
Klaus shook his head. "No, it is not that. Had that been my wish, I could have achieved it centuries ago. But one day, I want to stand in this very spot, look around and see how I turned an insignificant little stretch of swamp into one of the most fascinating towns the world has ever beheld. I will walk the streets and know that this is my creation."
It was hard to imagine that this could ever be anything other than a serpent-infested piece of wilderness. Klaus granted his brother that much. But Elijah did not see what he saw. His artist's soul had already painted the pictures in his head and he could not get rid of the visions. Nothing would keep him from making his dream come true. He had nothing else, and he needed to keep his mind occupied. They had successfully evaded their father for the last three hundred years, ever since… Well, he had become so skilled in predicting Mikael's moves and in planning their route forward that this part of their lives was no longer sufficient to engage his mind to an extent large enough that it would suppress his loneliness. He needed a goal.
Elijah was scrutinizing their surroundings again, and Klaus had the distinct feeling his brother was contemplating things from a slightly different perspective now. He knew Elijah was continuously worried about him and his actions, which unnerved him considerably. But it was what he had counted on to gain his brother's support – his older sibling would be more than delighted to see Klaus engage in something other than carnage, erotic escapades or the hunt for Katerina Petrova.
"You are of course aware of the fact that this is going to draw much attention to you and might even enable Mikael to recover our tracks. Do you seriously believe this to be a wise idea?" Elijah inquired with a light frown.
Klaus gave a rather malicious sneer. "Thank you for your overwhelming confidence in my intelligence. As if I have never worked with a figurehead before!"
"My apologies, oh mighty genius," Elijah replied in a rare display of sarcasm. "Who did you have in mind, then?"
"The Governour, of course," Klaus grinned. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, was in his late thirties, had recently been appointed Governour of Louisiana for the third time and was widely reputed for having founded the town of Mobile. As an additional advantage, he was an experienced colonizer and might even be good for some piece of advice every now and then. Not that Klaus would actually require any.
Elijah gazed at his brother thoughtfully. "You have already compelled him accordingly, I presume?"
"So I have. He will do whatever I suggest. Once the feat is accomplished, he will no longer remember my existence at all and will therefore appear in every history book as the founding father of my new town."
With a sigh, Elijah took another look around. He could really not imagine anything to come from this adventurous endeavour, but if it kept his younger brother occupied, he would most definitely support the idea. His worry over Klaus had increased as of late. His sibling was finding more and more excuses to shed blood indiscriminately, and the staggering number of women who paraded in and out of his bedroom was even putting Kol to shame. Every few decades, Klaus went through a phase like this. Elijah suspected that those were the times his younger brother perceived his loneliness as particularly unbearable and if this new project kept him from doing anything stupid, fine. A wicked smile began to grace his features as a thought crossed his mind. He would indeed keep his troubled sibling focused on this task.
"Very well," he said firmly, "I am not quite convinced, but I shall be looking forward to be proven wrong. In fact, I shall make you a wager, Niklaus. Should you succeed, I will personally steal 'Eve, the Serpent and Death' for you."
Klaus' eyes widened and he gave an incredulous laugh. "Excuse me, were you not the one trying to snap my neck when I even mentioned I wanted this painting and the owner would not sell? Do you not keep lecturing all of us that stealing is beneath us?"
"And I will continue to do so. I will not pretend that my stealing this painting is any better than common thievery. But this artwork is something you want very desperately, and I am curious to behold the efforts you will put into making your vision come true with this additional incentive. I am prepared to pay the price should you indeed make something out of this… wasteland."
With a wide grin, Klaus nodded. Elijah knew his brother had always liked to witness others compromise their ideals and principles, and it was not often he had seen Elijah himself betray his steadfast convictions. "In the extremely unlikely event of my failure to achieve my goal, what will be my stake?" Klaus asked curiously. His older brother gave him a thoughtful look for a moment before he answered.
"You will refrain from continuing to search for Katerina."
Klaus' expression hardened. "Your attraction towards Katerina Petrova is one of many mysteries I have never been able to grasp. I sincerely hope that one day, you will cross the path of a woman actually worthy of your affections. Be that as it may, you are aware that I require the doppelganger to break the curse, are you not? And you are aware that I have been attempting to do just that ever since our beloved mother put my werewolf side to rest?" He glared at Elijah, his shoulders tense, his stance no longer relaxed.
"Of course I am. But if I am to act against my profoundest beliefs should you win, the stakes have to be equally high for you, brother."
After a while, Klaus' rigid posture relaxed and his face split into another broad grin. "I believe we have a wager, Elijah, and I will not fail. This will be a prospering town in the not too distant future. And I shall be enjoying your act of thievery almost as much as the painting itself." He held out a hand, and Elijah shook it with a genuine smile. His brother would be very busy indeed.
A few months later, Klaus stood at the very same spot where his conversation with Elijah had taken place, and he had to admit that even he himself was astonished at how different the place already looked. He would probably not even have had to compel the Governour, as the man had been beyond enthusiastic at Klaus' idea. With the support of the Government and an amazing financial background, things began to take shape very quickly. He made a conscious effort to avoid any compulsion, for he wanted to look back someday and remember how it had been nothing but his vision and his intellect that had brought him success. For now, the new settlement consisted of nothing but a great number of huts and hovels, but Klaus was absolutely certain that this would soon change. He could all but see how the town would look a few years from now.
As he stood lost in his musings, he felt someone approach him and turned around to come face to face with a haggard, wretched-looking man who was dressed in rags and tatters and gave the impression that he was about to perish from consumption. Klaus wrinkled his nose and raised an eyebrow when the man began to speak in a rasp.
"And who wants to know that?" Klaus replied haughtily. He hated being spoken to by this kind of scum.
"My name is Thomas Dyer. There is someone who wants to speak with you, Mr. Mikaelson, and I am to bring you to him."
With a small, mirthless laugh, Klaus replied, "Well, Mr. Dyer, I do hope you have not come too long a way, for you came in vain. I have no intention of following you anywhere, and whoever wants to speak with me will not have me summoned. He will come to me. Good day."
The man cleared his throat and murmured, "He predicted you would say that. Thus, I am to show you a gesture of goodwill from his side." The man paused, and Klaus found himself a little intrigued at the audacity of whoever had sent Dyer to him. "I am to tell you that Mikael is currently under a desiccation spell and will be immobilized for a period of between one and two years."
Klaus could not help his jaw dropping. "How…?"
"I am just the messenger. I know nothing other than what I was told to convey to you."
Immediately recovering from his surprise, Klaus shook his head. It could be a new ruse Mikael had thought up to get his hands on him and his siblings. "Convey, then. Convey to whoever sent you that if he has any business to discuss, he is to find me. I am not being received in audience like a petitioner."
Dyer looked at him for a moment before he nodded. "I will tell him so." Without another word, he walked off, leaving Klaus to stare after him thoughtfully. Mikael. He had avoided him successfully for so many centuries – the one exception was carefully locked away in the deepest dungeon inside his mind – and he knew Mikael had not come close to finding any of them for a few decades now. The mention of his stepfather had caught him completely unprepared for that reason, and he reprimanded himself for having let his guard down a little as a consequence of the relatively unthreatened period they had recently experienced. He had left Elijah behind to watch over Rebekah and Kol, and the three of them were staying in Charles Towne – what was to become Charleston in later years – as there was no acceptable settlement in the area of the new town and Klaus did not want any distractions like Rebekah's constant whining about how she missed Europe and Kol's nightly prowls that needed to be covered up afterwards.
Klaus ignored the sharp pang that went through him at the thought of his stepfather and flashed off in the direction of the small native village on the fringe of the swamp. The hunt would distract him nicely, although he would probably have to find another of these villages soon. He had already diminished the population of this one a little too ostensibly.
The next day, Klaus was just in the midst of giving some instructions to the foreman who was leading the construction of the canals when a quiet voice sounded behind him.
Upset at not having noticed that someone had approached him, he finished his conversation with the foreman before sending him away and turning around. A very old man was propped on a crutch, looking at Klaus intently. Although his body seemed rickety, there was nothing frail about him. The Original sensed that in his youth, this had been a very powerful, charismatic man. And there was something else… something he could not quite put his finger on.
"Yes," he said curtly.
"As you would not follow my invitation, I have decided to undertake the strenuous journey to come to you." He looked around, nodding at the construction site. "Quite an enterprise you have initiated here."
"The Governour's honour, not mine. I am merely overseeing some details," Klaus replied automatically, making the old man chuckle.
"I may be very advanced in age, but my mind has not started failing me yet, Mr. Mikaelson."
There was something Klaus liked about this man. He showed absolutely no sign of fear or wariness, and he had a formidable air about him. Cocking his head, he folded his arms over his chest and gazed down at him.
"May I ask who you are, and how you know my name?"
"My apologies for not introducing myself properly. My name is Vicq Samedi. And as for your second question – is there anyone in the world of the supernatural who has not heard your name?"
Klaus gave him a quizzical look. "You are very obviously human. So how would you know?"
"I am human now," he simply replied with a smile.
The Original's eyes widened. What was the old man referring to? In his seven hundred years, Klaus had never encountered a case of a supernatural being who had gone back to being a human. It was not possible. Still, there was something different about this man. Could he be telling the truth?
"What exactly are you talking about?" he asked cautiously.
Samedi smiled. "Is there a more appropriate venue we could take this conversation to? I will need to sit down."
Klaus gestured towards a large group of rocks on a small hill in the distance. "Will you manage?"
"Yes, I will," the old man replied, and they began to slowly wander towards the elevation. Klaus reined in his impatience at the pace. His curiosity was piqued, and he wanted to find out what this was about. During their silent walk, he began to rack his brains over where he had heard the name of Samedi before. He had encountered so many people and come across so many names that it took him a while to make the connection. They had almost reached the rocks when the bell finally rang. And it did so loudly and clearly. Baron Samedi. A spirit worshipped by the people who believed in Voodoo, a sub-religion originated in Western Africa, imported mainly to Sainte Domingue in the Caribbean. To Klaus, all kinds of religion had always been utterly nonsensical, but he found some of them amusing. He was puzzled now and looked forward to finding out why on Earth someone would give themselves the name of what was considered the Master of the Dead of some dubious faith.
"Well then," he said when they were seated on a large rock overlooking the lake, "Baron Samedi, you have me all intrigued."
The old man grinned widely, and for the first time, Klaus saw some real power in his face. This was what he must have looked like in his youth, he thought. "You are a fast thinker indeed, Mr. Mikaelson. Not very many would have associated me with that name," Samedi replied appreciatively.
"So why would you call yourself that?"
"Because it is who I am. Or was, I should probably add."
Klaus shook his head determinedly. "I do not believe in any sort of religion, nor do I believe in ghosts, spirits and any deities. Invent a better tale, Monsieur."
"Who said anything about deities? I was nothing of the sort. I was a very powerful warlock, perhaps even the single most powerful ever in existence, and you know about the peasantry. What they cannot explain must be of divine provenance. So I was made a spirit, a God, a demon. I have lived for a very long time, Mr. Mikaelson, as you have, but I have finally tired of this world."
Running his hand through his hair, Klaus watched Samedi thoughtfully. "If I may make an educated guess, you want to die, but being a warlock, and a Black one at that, you would forever remain on the Other Side with no possibility to move on. You wish to avoid that by dying a human."
Samedi smiled and inclined his head. "As I said, you are a fast thinker. I heard many things about you, most of them rather unsavoury, but your intellect is actually what is most dangerous about you, is it not?"
"I would hope not," Klaus replied with the hint of a smile. "I have never heard of any supernatural being becoming human, no witch or warlock, no werewolf, no vampire. How is that even possible?"
"It has taken a very intricate piece of witchcraft, and it is also not a permanent state. But this is not what I came to speak to you about today. I would like to strike a bargain with you, Mr. Mikaelson."
Klaus sat back and gazed at Samedi. He was genuinely intrigued by now but also very wary. He had been offered all sorts of bargains during his very long life, and his experience had taught him to be very careful of anyone who approached him with business offers without having been invited to.
"And what makes you think I am interested in what you have to propose?" he asked nonchalantly.
"The fact that I am offering two things of great value to you in return for something very simple. Something you have done a thousand times over and that will not cost you anything. You could say I will give you the two items for free."
The Original chuckled. "If there is one thing I have learned during my very many years on this Earth, it is that nothing ever comes without a price. Timeo danaos et dona ferentes."
"I agree that it is always wise to fear those who come bearing gifts, but this is no Trojan Horse. You will understand it once I have explained it to you. Will you want to listen to my proposal?"
Klaus thought about it for a minute until his curiosity got the better of him. And something told him that there was more to this than met the eye. "I will hear you out."
"Good," Samedi said, and Klaus detected a hint of relief in his voice. It seemed to be of great importance to him. "First, I am offering you one or two years of peace. Your father has been hunting you for a very long time, if I am correctly informed, and you will be able to respire for a brief while."
Desperately fighting not to show his emotions, Klaus said sharply, "How do you plan on doing that? Your messenger said Mikael was immobilized, but you are no longer a warlock. And how would I know you are telling the truth? What proof would I have?"
Samedi nodded. "You will compel me. I immobilized Mikael before I turned human. The spell will remain solid for one to two years. You know witchcraft is not an accurate science, so I cannot tell you exactly how long the spell will last. And before you argue that all spells lose their power once the witch or warlock in question dies – I have prevented that from happening."
In a blur, Klaus snatched the old man's wrist and sunk his fangs into it. Samedi was too astonished to even blink when Klaus spoke again. "You are not on vervain. Good. And I can taste something different about your blood. You are human, but your blood is stronger than usual. I therefore assume you are indeed telling the truth. So how will you prevent the spell from lifting if you die?"
"When I die. I cast a double spell, together with another warlock. I die, he lives on. The spell will hold up."
Klaus nodded. "So what is the second item you are negotiating?"
Samedi looked across the lake, a pensive expression on his face, absently rubbing the bloodstains on his wrist. He seemed reluctant to continue, and Klaus wondered what it could be. The old man apparently knew how Klaus felt about his stepfather, so he was surprised that a year-long break from running was actually the first thing Samedi had offered. Why hadn't he kept it for last, as was usually done with the most valuable piece of any bargain?
When Samedi spoke again, there was trepidation in his voice. "I am taking a very great risk in telling you what I am to divulge to you now, but it is not like I have much to lose." He cleared his throat and continued. "There is a document in existence called 'The Original Grimoire'. It has been written a very, very long time ago, and its origins have been lost in the fogs of time. This document contains every single piece of knowledge about the creation of the world of the supernatural. How to engender vampires…"
"That is hardly of interest," Klaus interrupted impatiently, "as everyone knows how to create vampires."
"Do let me finish, Mr. Mikaelson. I was not speaking of turning humans into vampires. I was talking about the creation of vampires, the way your mother created you. The creation of Originals, if you will. But that is not all. This book contains everything. It tells you how to create witches, warlocks, werewolves and some other creatures. But it also describes every known and unknown method to kill supernatural beings, including Original vampires. And believe me, there is more than White Oak out there. Whoever holds it in his hands is the master of life and death, Mr. Mikaelson."
Klaus was stunned into utter silence, staring at the old man wide-eyed, simply unable to hide his astonishment. If this was true… he would not even want to imagine the consequences. Others would be able to create vampires with the abilities that were exclusive to him and his family. They could be killed. And heaven only knew what else was in this book.
"Who owns this book now?" he whispered, not quite trusting his voice.
"I do," Samedi replied calmly. "So will you accept my offer?"
"Why would you give this book to me of all people? Warlocks and vampires are natural enemies, and I am undoubtedly the most powerful creature walking this Earth, which should make me even more of an adversary to be extinguished. I am genuinely intrigued as to why you would even think about putting this document into my hands."
"That is a very good question. I do not believe in what the Old Witches on the Other Side call 'the balance'. It is just a lot of rubbish used to intimidate other witches and warlocks into perpetuating the feud with the vampire population and attempt to have them obey their nonsensical rules. Apart from the fact that there is not much else to do on the Other Side. Time passes very slowly when one is trapped without the possibility to move on. However, having been a warlock, I do have an interest in not seeing legions of super-powered Original vampires roam the world and extinguish my kind, or hordes of Original witches and warlocks subjugating others. And you, Mr. Mikaelson, can have even less of a desire to witness the creation of vampires equipped with your family's unique strength and abilities. As you correctly pointed out, you are the most powerful being on Earth, and I am certain you have no desire to renounce that status. Therefore, there is no safer place for this book than with you. Furthermore, a great part of the knowledge the Original Grimoire contains is written in riddles, and not even I have been able to decipher them all. I will give you no hints and no explanations. You will have to solve the riddles on your own, and it will take you decades, if not centuries."
"Why not just destroy it? And why trust me not to destroy it?"
Samedi gave him a very wide smile. "You would not. Not ever. It will make you even more powerful than you are now, although I doubt you would need to use the book at any point. But the simple knowledge that it exists, that you have access to it and that it gives you power over the creation of supernatural life – to some extent – will never let you destroy it. I am predicting you will hide this document somewhere so abstruse no one would ever even think of searching for it there. Well, apart from the fact that you and I are the only living beings knowing about it in the first place." He paused. "The Original Grimoire is the most dangerous document in existence. Yet it is the root, the foundation of the entire supernatural world. And it contains knowledge you have never dreamed of. Destroy it if you will, Mr. Mikaelson. But once you hold it in your hands, once you know you are the true keeper of life and death, it will never let you go."
Klaus frowned. "If no one but you and me knows of its existence, then there is no danger for me and my family, is there?"
"I said we were the only living beings."
Looking into the distance and trying to digest what he had just learned, Klaus ran another hand through his hair. How had he never heard of this book? Well, the secret had apparently been closely kept throughout history for very obvious reasons, but still… there had never been so much as a rumour about it. He closed his eyes for an instant and turned to the old man who was watching him patiently.
"What do you demand in return?"
Samedi kept his eyes on Klaus. "First, I want you and your family to never harm any witch or warlock pertaining to my line. Right before I lost my magic, I have seen something. A sign that there will be a moment in the very distant future when our families' fates will be joined, which was not the least of reasons why I came to you."
"Accepted, under one condition. If any descendant of yours puts my family in mortal danger, I will be allowed to defend them. Not that I can think of any way this could ever happen, but let us be thorough. Can you accept that?"
The old man nodded. "Yes."
Klaus extended his hand, and Samedi shook it. His handshake was surprisingly strong. "How do you know I will not just break my word once you are dead?"
With a smile, the former warlock replied, "Not unlike you, I have met very many people over the years, and not unlike you, I have developed a very keen instinct for human nature. There is some leftover honour in you, Mr. Mikaelson. Many centuries ago, you were a very trustworthy man, before circumstances made you lose most of that admirable trait. But not all of it. You honour your treaties with those you deem worthy."
Swallowing, Klaus asked, "So what is your second demand?"
"You will kill me."
The Original raised an eyebrow. "Interesting. Why would I do that?"
"Your killing me will guarantee my seamless transition beyond the Other Side. Humans with a record of murder and other crimes have been known to get stuck on the Other Side every now and then, and I have no interest whatsoever in that. If I am being murdered by a supernatural being, however, I will move across to the Eternal Realm of the Dead with no hindrances. And it will be fast and painless. That is my price."
Looking at Samedi thoughtfully, Klaus asked, "You are aware that asking someone to murder you is not the same as actually being murdered?"
"It is still murder. You are not defending yourself, you are not executing an act of mercy. A hired marksman, if you will. So, are we in agreement?"
Klaus' pupils dilated as he stared into Samedi's eyes.
"Has Mikael been immobilized?"
"Yes, he has."
"How long will the spell last?"
"A rough estimate would say, between one and two years."
"Where is he?"
"I do not know. He was hidden at an unknown location and is kept in seclusion. The one who brought him there is dead. No one knows where he is."
"Who spelled him?"
"I did, together with a Bennett warlock. Mikael was attempting to find traces of you, and neither the Bennett warlock nor I did take kindly to being threatened into collaboration."
Klaus cursed for a second, then he collected himself. "Is everything you told me about the document the truth?"
"You will hand it over to me in its entirety prior to my killing you?"
"No living creature knows about this document?"
"No one but you and me."
"Are there any copies in existence?"
"I am rather certain that the document in my possession is a copy, and I cannot say whether it is a complete transcript of the primordial writings. What I own is certainly old, but not old enough to be the original manuscript. I have never heard any whispers about the book anywhere, which tells me that if there are more copies, they are not in circulation. My apologies, but I cannot answer this question with ultimate certainty."
Klaus frowned but let his pupils recede. Samedi shook his head for an instant, then he gazed at him evenly. The Original looked back at the old man and gave a quick nod, holding out his hand again.
"We have an agreement."