Castle de Sauveterre, in blood’s year 1699.
The rain spattered against the window and the sound echoed in the salon, drowning out the quiet chatter that usually filled the room. The rain was pouring down and had for days, and it seemed as if God had decided to drown the city in a deluge in an attempt to wash away the filth. Filth like them.
Véronique rested her forehead against the cold window, trying to make out the contoures of the city on the other side of the wall, but the raindrops distorted her vision to the degree that she couldn’t see anything.
She felt a small satisfaction that the rain drowned out the voices that filled the place with the displeasure of the quickly approaching Gathering. The whole castle had been whispering about it for the last few months and the anticipation was so thick that one could cut it with a knife.
Véronique pushed herself away from the window with a sigh and let her orange gaze dance across the people sitting in the gloom light from the chandelier. Six months ago had the heads of House Blackwell arrived, seemingly in the hopes of forming an alliance with the heads of House de Sauveterre. As of yet it had not succeeded.
“We should not have agreed to the Council’s amendmants.” Lucius Blackwell declared as he brought the wine glass to his lips, sipping nobly of the blood he had been served. “In doing so we have been declared out birthright.”
The ten Elders had gathered in the salon, together with current rulers of the two houses, for their evening soairee. Véronique didn’t much like Lucius, seeing as he behaved as if he was still the ruler of House Blackwell, even though his granddaughter shot him irritated glances every time he opened his mouth.
“And what birthright is that, Lucius?” Magdalena de Sauveterre asked him, her orange gaze fixing him with the strength one only musters after having lived for the better part of two millenias.
Magdalena was the oldest of de Sauveterre Elders and the founder of the House, but despite her age and all she had seen did she behave with a grace few could match. Lucius certainly couldn’t.
“The fact that we now have to be civil with the lycans.” Lucius muttered with clear disdain. “We were made to rule them, not to have conversations with them.”
Magdalena shared an annoyed glance with Demetria, Lucius’s granddaughter and the current Head of House Blackwell. It was evident that she didn’t share her ancestor’s view of things and the disgusted scoff that passed her lips made it obvious.
“We all decided that it was the best course of action.” Victor Blackwell defended himself from his father’s spite. “Besides, you were quite outnumbered if I remember correctly.”
“And I do recall that the lycans were not especially enthusiastic either.” Valerian de Sauveterre said were he was reclining on a chaise longue. Valerian was Véronique’s younger brother, but he had an air of elegance about him that was strengthened by his blonde hair, chiseled face and impeccable taste in clothes.
Allmost all the Elders nodded in agreement, except for Lucius and his mother, Hecate, who seemed to be less than pleased having ended up in company with people who didn’t see things their way.
“I stand firm in my opinion,” Hecate said, “that joining forces with the Angeris Court and those damned Shadowrunners will be the end of our race.”
“And yet here we are,” Véronique added as she slowly made her way towards the assembled group, her scarlet dress emphasizing her beauty. “seven hundred years later. Stronger than ever.”
Hecate’s displeasure shone brightly in her eyes as she slowly brought her wine glass to her lips and sipped of the blood. She then slowly brought down the glass again, twisting it between her long, delicate fingers.
“You were not there, dear girl.” the Elder replied in a cold tone, “You have no right to speak.”
“Do not be so harsh, Hecate!” Kraven de Sauveterre said and sipped of his blood, “Véronique is speaking the truth.”
“Bah,” Lucius suddenly scoffed and for a moment he was the spitting image of his snappish mother. “you are only saying that because she is your descendant.”
Véronique felt frustration build up inside her as she sat down next to her brother, casually leaning towards him. “I have every right to speak, mister Blackwell.” she said firmly and looked between Lucius and Hecate. “I am a de Sauveterre and you are guests in our house, thus you should behave accordingly. The Gathering is closing in and you best remember whose hand it is that feed you.”
The whole room grew shockingly quiet and they were all looking at her with a mixture of surprise and irritation. Suddenly Valerian began laughing heartily and placed a loving arm around her shoulders.
“And that, my friends,” he said, “is why my beautiful sister is the heir to our house.”
“And with every right.” Demetria replied and raised her glass in a salute, a smile nudging at the corner of her mouth, “And it will be a delightful day when you take over as head of the house.”
“Demetria -” Lucius scolded his granddaughter, but he was interrupted when every de Sauveterre and most of the Blackwell turned and glared at him.
“I think our dear Véronique is speaking the truth,” Lucas said and looked at her, “we need to remember who it is that is feeding us.” He then looked at all the de Sauveterres gathered, “And we need to remember the Gathering is closing in,” he then casually took a sip of his blood, “but we also need to remember that anything can happen until then.”
Valerian grabbed hold of Véronique’s hand and they shared a worried glance. They both knew the pawns had been set in motion and that all they could do now was wait.