Wings flapped in the belfry above, echoing down the stone staircase of the north tower to where two men were conversing by candlelight. Shadows danced along the marble walls of the forbidden monastery’s sanctuary. A man in a black robe with its hood pulled up and over the head—revealing only a face and hands—sat a large thick book on the Bible stand of the once holy altar. He unlatched the buckles of the leather cover and turned the fragile, crackling parchment pages with care until he found what he was looking for.
“The Book of Reprisal makes it clear what needs to be done,” Ulrich Lestat said, speaking rough English words through his native Romanian tongue. He pointed a bony finger at the page titled: Lamia Interficientis. With the tip of his long, yellowed fingernail, the unholy monk ran it down the scribed and perfectly inked page. “This is what you want.”
Draven smiled at Ulrich’s hideous face—carbuncles, beak-like nose, and sallow skin—partially hidden by the habit’s hood. Among the Latin words was a sketch of a woman, penned with colored ink from the nib of a goose feather. “Vampire slayer. Yes, this is she. Having seen her face so near to me that I could have reached out and felt its creamy softness, I am certain this is the same huntress.”
Ulrich raised his bloodshot eyes and looked at the deceptively youthful man standing next to him. Clad in purple velvet and cuffs embroidered with lace, he looked like the prince he long-ago was. “Did she recognize you?”
“No, she had no idea, but I could see in her eyes that there was a spark of awareness.” Draven moved strands of his long dark hair behind an ear and smiled. “However, I cannot deny that I felt her essence radiating from within her and I rather liked it. Too bad we have to carry out the ritual.”
“Do not do anything foolish, Draven. She is not yours for the taking.”
“Alas, it is a shame that she must not be touched until the count deals with her.” Draven flipped a page. “When will Count Moldovan be here?”
“The count has already set sail and will be on the island soon. Your job is to make sure nothing happens to her, by keeping the dregs away. When the count reaches port, he will decide what to do with her.”
“What do you think the outcome will be when all is said and done?”
“As you know, she must determine her own destiny. But no matter what her choice is, the bloodline must end, and cease in its entirety. Our Master will make the final decision and Count Moldovan will abide.”
“I believe she has a daughter who is old enough to conceive and give birth.” Draven turned another sheet.
“That is true. Like I said, the bloodline must end. It carries with it a propensity for destroying our kind and cannot be allowed to continue. There are only two possible options for her, and both must follow the canon set forth in the Book of Reprisal. No matter her decision, we will be victorious.”
“I am honored to assist in vanquishing the last of the royal vampire slayers,” Draven said, replacing the leathered bat wing in between the curvature of the pages, marking the sacred passage.
Draven walked out of the sanctuary, to a window facing the manor house. He grinned with pleasure when he saw the light on in Ruby’s room. “Soon, my precious, we will meet again. Very soon.”