In the stale darkness of the council chamber, the top floor of the stone complex, Nicolae sat up on the ledge, his fingers dreamily against the hued glass as his entourage bustled around worriedly, whispering low and viciously, some about the residents, and some about their vampire leader, no longer concerned whether he heard or not. Nicolae knew he'd been out of sorts since the night he'd managed to dream, and dream of memories he had for so long shut away. He had no doubt Silena was doing it, somehow, she was manipulating his mind, making him reminisce, as if it could change him, make him who she remembered him as. He felt his fingertips begin to burn as he felt the heat of the sun through the glass, quickly withdrawing and twisting his long legs to touch the ground, standing to address the council.
"Gentlemen," he said, smiling haughtily as he strode through the crowd they had huddled so defensively into. "I hear your concerns rather...trenchantly, and I'm here to assure you there is nothing to fear." He approached the table where crystal tumblers were stacked, and standing at either side were two of his half-Turned girls, freshly bled and quivering with pain, their skin sallow and wet with sweat as they fought the most intriguing of transformations deep inside them. Nicolae realised as he poured from the pitcher of the young blonde's blood, that just as his anxieties had increased over the days, so had his whores.
"That is rather easy for you to say, Lord Nicolae," said Sir Vralek, an incubus from near Nicolae's homeland, his accent strongly distinguishing this. "You hide up here with your silken sheets and your whores, whilst we succumb to rumours down below. Rumours that do not give us the greatest of pleasures,"
"And what sort would that be?" he asked smoothly, turning around to face them, his lip reddened by the first sip of blood, the fluid sizzling through his veins with a warmth imitating life.
"Rumours of your deposition," said McLachin, his white moustache bristling angrily,
"And rumours of a human child discovering our settlement." Vralek's pronunciation of 'human' was drawn out, slow and vicious. "Many of us wonder if it is true coincidence that the ancient Tymildra appears just as this happens. How are we to know this isn't one of Anya's tests to try and ruin our plans? Some ancient back-hand to destabilise our negotiations -,"
"Both of these matters are being dealt with swiftly," Nicolae answered, batting his hand dismissively and drinking again. "And as for our new ancient..." Nicolae bit his tongue as he thought about her and the power she'd had over him. He still didn't know if it was a challenge, but if it was, he would answer it posthaste. "She is of no concern. A curious spectator, I am sure, nothing more."
"Yet again, you ask for our trust, my Lord," said Montgomery, his voice soft and subservient, his lithe vampire body slivering forward, "but many of my associates wonder if - if you are being entirely...honest with us."
Nicolae pressed his lips into a thin line. "What ever could you be insinuating?" The vampyre shrivelled in fearfully, backing away into the crowd, where McLachin stepped forward and spoke sharply.
"Your little pet, Nicolae. She wanders in on negotiations like she is already your left hand, and traipses amongst the residents like she has every friendship and no alliance. And you do nothing to stop her -,"
"You think I do not try?" he exclaimed, quickly lowering his voice to calmness. He sighed, "Silena feels herself tied to me. My Maker's duty compels me to admit her here, and she has assured me her alliance is to me, and in turn -," he gestured to the room, " - us."
"Assurances, words, promises, all worthless in politics," spat Vralek,
Nicolae clenched his fists and felt the tumbler shatter in his hand, slicing his palm to heal moments later. Eyes glowing red, he span around to Vralek and hissed in his native tongue, "csendes! They are not simply words, they are my words, and you would do well to heed them!" Vralek's eyes were wide and fearful before they narrowed defiantly. Nicolae turned away, his coat swishing against the incubus. "I have spearheaded the negotiations for our reveal. You all grow impatient and rebellious at the first sign of altercation, but I will not be so fragile! The girl has been dealt with and plans for my deposition are being manipulated to our advantage as we speak."
There was a long silence before Montgomery asked timidly, "what do you mean, my Lord?"
Just then, Nicolae felt a presence enter the room, languishing in the shadows as if he had summoned her just by the thought of her. Perhaps he did. He smiled, and beckoned her forward, "Silena..." she moved forward into the light, dressed ready for action in cropped trousers and a flowing, embroidered blouse, her black hair twisted up in a chignon on her head. The council flinched and stood straighter, her presence frightening them in a way that filled Nicolae with a strange sort of pride and made his unbeating heart pulse as she came to his side.
"Gentlemen," he said, "allow me to explain..."