Over two centuries have passed since he walked the halls of Creag Castle. As he stepped onto the end of the road leading to the castle, his breath caught. The sight of his family’s castle in ruin broke his heart. He should have kept the place in better shape. His steps faltered at the edge of the grass lawn. All that remained were the outer walls. It looked like the roof had fallen in decades ago. He leaned on the cane he always carried now, sadness filling his heart as tears filled his eyes.
Taking each step carefully, he made his way on up to the door of the old building. The wood of the door had long ago rotted to dust. He walked through it, taping the tip of the cane against the floor. The sound echoed through the ruined building, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. The place was covered in more than a layer of dust. It was obvious no one had been within the walls in more time than he wanted to think about. As he passed through the main room into what would have been the kitchen and other family rooms he noticed something moving through the rooms almost pacing him. “Hello?” he called.
“This is not a place you should be, Jonas.” The voice seemed to bring a chill to the air.
Jonas stopped where he was just inside the archway of the old kitchen. He swallowed, trying to clear the newly formed a lump in his throat. “Who’s there?”
“The only person who knew you would come here as soon as you could find a way out of that witch’s labyrinth. But why come home? You knew it would be long gone.”
“Because this place is all I have left. 257 years, 2 months and 4 days inside there with her. I needed my home. But you are right time has not been kind to it. What do you want, Raymond?”
One of the shadows at the other end of the room detached itself and came toward Jonas. Once it was in the last of the light coming through the windows, the figure stopped and pushed back the hood on the cloak he was wearing. “Well, not to live in this place again. Time hasn’t been kind here. I came to offer you my help.”
Jonas scoffed. “Last time you offered me help, you killed me and I ended up like this. Why would I want your help again?”
“Because I can give you want you need. I can give you an additional reason to go on living.”
Jonas pressed the cane against the stone of the floor and gave the top a quarter turn. He heard the tiny click that meant the sword was released and would come up unsheathed when he lifted it. “Why would I trust you? I know what you made me and why you did it. I wouldn’t be the weapon you used against your family back then and I won’t be a weapon for you know. So I think you should just leave and let me be.” He steadied himself and gave a thought of thanks that he had kept up with sword work and martial arts. He had a feeling he might have to fight his way out this time.
Raymond continued toward him, speaking as he did, “Because you’ve always trusted me. We were best friends at the beginning of all this and, well, you owe me. I gave you the gift of eternal life. The least you can do for me is help with a tiny family issue.” He sounded as if he believed what he was saying.
Jonas had to fight to keep from laughing at the other man. “No, just no. I’m not helping you with anything and I don’t owe you a damn thing. You destroyed my life and family. I told you back then I never wanted to see you again.”
Anger boiled in Raymond’s eyes now. He wasn’t backing down. “You have no choice but to help me. I made you.”
Jonas held his ground even as Raymond walked closer. “Not happening, Raymond. And this place is mine. You need to leave.” He shifted his weight, so he was standing in martial arts, ready pose.
Raymond stopped walking, almost nose to nose with him. A breath later, Jonas ducked just as a sword flashed through the air at his head. “Really? We’re going to fight over this?”
Raymond growled deep in his throat. “If you aren’t willing to help me, then I will take the life I gifted you. This has been a long time coming.” He swung again.
This time Jonas brought the sword from his cane up to block, following it up with a strike of his own. The fight was quick and bloody, at least on Raymond’s end. Jonas stepped back after only three swings of his sword when Raymond fell to the ground, clutching a gaping wound in his stomach. “Now, I think it’s time you moved on. Get up and get out or I will take your head.” He glanced at the sky, “and more importantly those clouds are thinning. It’s going to get awful hot real soon.” Jonas watched as Raymond looked from him to the sky and back.
“Take my head. I won’t leave you alone unless you do,” Raymond said, lifting his head in defiance.
Jonas glanced into the man’s eyes, ready to take the last swing and end the confrontation. He hesitated. There wasn’t anger or anything in Raymond’s eyes. All he could see in the depths of those once-friendly green eyes was resignation. At that moment, Jonas knew he held all the power. Stepping back, he lowered his sword, so the tip pointed to the ground. “I won’t kill you. There’s no point. Whatever you want me to save you from is bigger than you can handle. Why don’t you tell me what you’ve done and I will be the one to decide if I will get you out of it or let you burn. Get up. Let’s go sit in my car. As I said, those clouds won’t be hanging out much longer and I don’t want to be caught in the sun either.” He extended his free hand to his sire.
Raymond shook his head even as he took the offered hand. “After so long, how did you know?”
Jonas lead him back down the path to where his car sat waiting. The tinted windows would keep them safe enough. Jonas opened the back passenger door and motioned for Raymond to get in.
By the time they were settled and the door closed, Jonas could feel the tingle in his fingertips from the sun. “Now talk,” he said.
Raymond stared forward. “I’m being hunted. I don’t want to go into the why of it. Just know that they are looking for me and anyone I brought into this life.”
Jonas clenched his fists to not punch the man. “You mean you’ve angered someone and now they want to end your bloodline. You must have really screwed up. How many of us were there and how many are left?”
Raymond looked out the tinted window. “There were a total of nine. You were the oldest.” He paused to look at Jonas.
Jonas raised an eyebrow. “Let me guess, I’m the only one left.” He waited for a heartbeat before continuing. “What did you do, Raymond? They don’t end bloodlines without reason. Why after everything else you did to me, did you lead them to me?”
Before Raymond could answer, the glass partition between them and the front of the car lowered. A man who wasn’t his driver sat in the front seat turned to face them. “What did he do? Why he turned you.”
Jonas blinked in disbelief at the man sitting there in a crisp black suit. He had never thought he would see the man again. “Father? How?” He stammered.
“When I found out what this monster had done to you. I was angry. For a long time, I hated both him and you. Then I found myself growing old and wondering if there was a way to escape that. I found a woman who was like him. She changed me, taught me how to live in their world. I spent many years wondering where you were if you were okay.” Jonas’ father explained.
Jonas watched Raymond get whiter with each word. “But why take out his line?”
His father’s eyes brightened. “Oh, I never wanted to out the bloodline. It’s just that none of the others he turned would tell me how to find him. I knew if I went after all of them, he would come to you. And then I would find you.”
Jonas was speechless for a long moment, his eyes darting from his father to his sire and back. At that moment, he wasn’t sure who held the most risk of him not having a future. He chose to speak to his father. “Why were looking for me?”
His father looked worried and more than a little hurt. “Because you are my son, and that monster took you from me. Now that I have found you again, we can rebuild our legacy,” he said, looking toward the castle.
Jonas laughed. “That would be a negative, Father. I have lived on my own far too long to want to be tied to another of my kind. So Since if any of us get out of this car here and now they won’t live to see sunset, what do you suggest we do. I don’t want to hurt either of you. But that doesn’t mean the two of you won’t hurt me.” He sat with his back to the passenger door, deciding if a race through the sunlight might be better than staying in the car. He didn’t think Raymond would try to hurt him now, but his father had never been all that stable when he was human. There was no telling what the man would do now that he could live forever.