"You're certain of this?"

"Ay, my lord," he nodded. "A human, in Sky Valley."

The vampire was bent on one knee in front of Nicolae, looking as if he'd climbed down a chimney in his best suit. He'd arrived only a few minutes after Nicolae had stirred from bed. A white tunic was open on him, accompanied by low-hanging tracksuit bottoms - a true abomination of modern fashion, he thought, but irritatingly comfortable. He'd sensed somebody new in the centre, and now a lowly brother had appeared before him looking furious at what had just transpired.

"You say that you were attacked? By who?" he inquired.

"A djinn, my lord," he spat, raising his head enough so that Nicolae could see his fangs elongate. "He seemed to know the girl, tried to protect her. I, on the other hand, knew my duty, my lord -," 

Oh, shut it with the "lord" crap.

"- I thought it my responsibility to end her life."

"And did you?"

"I - I," the vampire stammered, smoke still wafting from a patch on his elbow. "I was unable to...I was distracted."

Nicolae nodded. So it would be. He shrugged and gestured for the subordinate to rise. "No matter. Thank you for your loyalty."  The vampire pressed up onto his feet. "You will tell nobody of this. Understand?"

He nodded again, quickly and fearfully, an attitude that made Nicolae feel invulnerable. The cretin was an imbecile, but he had some uses. Such a shame...

"One more thing," Nicolae added just as the vampire was making his way to the escalators.

He turned with a look of unreserved obedience. A smile quivered on Nicolae's lips...

It was done in a moment, just a slashing motion through the air some several feet away, and the vampire clattered to his knees, his head falling back and widening the gaping wound at his jugular, before his weight came completely forward and he fell dead.

"Just a little insurance," Nicolae murmured to the corpse on his kitchen floor and the spreading pool of blood. "I'm sure you understand." He turned away, towards the balcony he could not step onto, but in the distance, he swore he saw two people running from the centre, one much farther ahead, dragging the other along by the hand.

His fists clenched, this will not end. Not now.

"Elias..." he said as if speaking to himself. "Are you here?"

"Oh dear," said a sarcastic, accented voice behind him. Nicolae turned to see Elias standing in the entranceway, looking at the body with brows lowered with distaste. He looked up, a wisecracking smile lighting his ageless face. "If only you hadn't eaten the cleaners..."

Nicolae rolled his eyes and headed to the bar. Whether it affected him or not, there was something about the novelty of hard liquor that made it easier to tolerate the ancient.

"I'm surprised though," Elias added, stepping dramatically over the corpse and slumping down at the stool as Nicolae slid a tumbler of whiskey across the granite to him, serving one  for himself and another for the vampire, raising it in a toast before draining it in one. "Only one dead, you must be having a bad day."

"It's starting off so," Nicolae said. He glanced up at Elias, smiling at how laid-back he was, not a conflicting emotion to harm him. How envious he was. "Did you sense her?"

"Who? The brunette you had your way with a few hours past...or the human girl?"

"You're not concerned?" Nicolae narrowed his eyes. "You know what this means, don't you? We're in danger, the plan is in danger."

"Neurotic as usual, Nic," Elias said, shaking his head and drinking.

"What do you know about djinns?"

Elias tensed, his fingers whitening around the tumbler and the playful light in his eyes muted. He set down the glass and answered coldly, "djinn: humanoids who control fire. Some say they're fire demons disguised, others, simple elementals -,"

"I mean," said Nicolae with a frustrated growl, "the djinn here. In Sky Valley."

"I'm not a registrar, I'm a supervisor...of sorts. I don't keep lists of every creature coming in and out of this place."

"Well, regardless, a djinn's in cahoots with said human girl by the looks of it. We need this issue...sorted out."

Elias sighed, knowing Nicolae's meaning with a certain graveness. "You mean, she has to die."

"One slip," he said darkly, leaning across with both hands on the counter. "That's all it could take, and years of planning this reveal are ruined."

" want to kill a member of the very species that you want to live in harmony with?" asked Elias, cocking an eyebrow.

Nicolae pursed his lips. "It's not as big a deal as you make it out to be. With our luck, she's either a hermit or a runaway pregnant girl. Her disappearance will run much more...smoothly that way.

He sighed again, pulling his hair back from his face. "Who are you going to make do it?"

"The lackey said he heard a girl talking to the djinn rather...affectionately. My guess is she's of the same race. If it's true that he's run off with the girl, not planning on ending her, and that djinn's are like most species and can sense each other, then she's the only one that can do it. I need you to find the djinn girl."

Elias laughed mockingly. "What makes you think she'll do as you say? Not everybody's terrified of you, you know? And since when do you give me orders? Does the title "ancient" mean nothing to you, youngling?" His tone was light-hearted, but deep down, Nicolae was sure he was crossing some sort of line. Ancients were, after all, the first of their kind, and ordering them around like common men didn't give him any bonus points.

"I'm well aware of your prestige," Nicolae said, "it isn't like I'd ask the same of Lady Anya -,"

"Good," Elias nodded, standing, "because if you did, she'd make you eat your own fingers,"

"Exactly, but I'm not. And you've never been one to align yourself with other ancients, have you?"

Elias raised his hands in defeat, moving towards the entrance. "Alright, fine. I'll go. I'll make it seem as if I'm being chummy to the others." He strolled down the escalator, going lower and lower from sight, each word pronounced and booming through the empty department. "Lucky for me, and unlike you, I'm not a despised, tyrannical leader."

Nicolae listened to Elias chuckle all the way down to lingerie, all the while thinking about how strange Elias must have been a thousand years ago, and about how much he hated the human race.

The End

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