Chapter One: Lady in Red
"This is barbaric."
The Magister lifted his steely gaze to Godric. His already meager lips thinned to a straight slash across in face. "You dare to question me? I am the chosen representative of The Authority for the entire province of North America."
Several long seconds ticked by in which Godric returned the Magister's gaze with equal coldness. "There is a difference between justice and torture," replied Godric.
The vampire chained to the wall let loose an insane sounding cackle. In the deadly quiet of the room it seemed to fly around the room like a frightened bird seeking shelter. The prisoner was tall and thin with black hair that was a tangled mess which hung into his face. His clothes had been torn and were blood-stained. Godric frowned. No doubt the Magister had been flaying his prisoner, not caring if his clothes were in the way or not. Even though this vampire was marked for death, he flashed Godric a crooked smile. Godric stared into his cobalt blue eyes and saw not the madness that he had expected. On the contrary, his eyes were lucid and steady and held a trace of amusement. For the life of him, Godric couldn't understand how anything in this situation could be interpreted as humorous.
"Better watch your P's and Q's, Godric, or you might be joining me," the vampire said. "I'm sort of a prima donna and I like to keep all the limelight to myself."
"Shut up!" hissed the Magister. The Magister turned his attention back to Godric. "You are here as a witness because the council decided to allow the prisoner this request due to his royal blood. I don't want or need your opinion."
"Fine," solemnly replied Godric. "But, I refuse to be a party to this travesty."
Godric turned on his heel with the intention of leaving. He couldn't stand the Magister who had yet to leave the Dark Ages behind. If there was any justice at all, it would be the Magister facing the true death. He had only taken one step when the chained vampire called out to him.
"Wait, Godric," he said. "Stay as a favor to me."
Godric turned back and asked the question that had been on his mind since he first got the summons to attend. "Mathias, why did you send for me?"
"My old friend, how can you ask that?" replied Mathias.
"We were never friends."
"Are you so sure?" asked Mathias with a secret smile that hid his true thoughts. "What is friendship? Respect? Admiration? I have that in spades for you, Godric. Surely, we must be friends."
Godric shifted his weight from foot to foot. Mathias always did have a devious mind and he wasn't sure that he wasn't playing some kind of game with him, even now as a death sentence hovered over his head. Yet, he had never felt any true animosity towards Mathias. Granted, he had been the target of his wicked sense of humor one too many times.
"Besides, my only other true friend can't be here with me," he said.
There was such a forlorn yearning in that simple statement that caused Godric to change his mind and remain. Perhaps, someone would be kind enough to grant his last wish as well when his time came.
"Very well, Mathias," said Godric. "I will stand witness by your side."
"I never doubted you," Mathias replied.
"Are you two done?" asked the Magister. "Dawn is approaching."
"I believe that I'm entitled to a last statement," declared Mathias.
The Magister twirled his cane and pursed his thin lips. "Go ahead, I never tire of hearing vampires protest their innocence until the end."
"I won't waste my time with the right or wrong of my unfortunate demise," replied Mathias. "Godric, I leave to you my worldly goods."
Godric's eyes widened as the Magister's eyes narrowed. "As a criminal, all your assets are forfeit," he hissed.
Mathias flashed that crooked smile again. "Then, it's a very good thing that I transferred everything to Godric a long time ago. All that's left for the Authority is a savings account with exactly twelve dollars and five cents."
"What? I can't accept such a gift," said Godric.
"You can and you will," sternly said Mathias with an edge of anger or hopelessness in his voice. "My executor will be in contact with you and everything is already done."
"Mathias…" began Godric.
"There is no one else," replied Mathias. "I know that I can trust you to take care of my…..treasures."
"We'll see about this," cut in the Magister.
Mathias turned to the Magister and allowed his true emotions to take over. Contempt and hatred flashed across his face. "I can assure you that my lawyers are much better than yours. There are still enough council members who won't fight the will, lest it set a precedent for their own fortunes."
The Magister snapped his fingers and one of his minions opened a case and withdrew an elaborately carved wooden stake. The Magister inspected it with a small smile.
"Alas, my curtain is falling. Time to exit stage left," said Mathias. He fixed his gaze on Godric.
"Are you afraid?" asked Godric.
"Not any more. Perhaps, I can still raise hell in the afterlife," smirked Mathias. "Promise me, Godric, that you will obey my wishes."
For some reason, Godric couldn't help but feel that Mathias was painting him into a corner, but it mattered not. He didn't have the heart to protest and he was sure that his reply was one that Mathias had expected all along.
"Such a boy scout," smiled Mathias. "No good deed ever goes unpunished. Remember that my old friend."
The Magister gave a quick nod and his minion stepped forward and plunged the stake into Mathias' heart. Godric's old nemesis and friend disappeared in a gush of blood and gore.
"If you're smart, you'll relinquish his assets," said the Magister.
Godric turned a cold gaze on the Magister. "I keep my promises."
Godric rode up the elevator, but his mind was still on the matter of Mathias. As soon as he had left the Magister's dungeon, he was contacted by a lawyer who identified himself as the executor of Mathias' will. It only took a quick meeting for Godric to understand the full breadth of his old adversary's generosity. Everything had evidently been transferred into his name many months ago. He found only one small stipulation in the will. All the contents of his Dallas estate and penthouse were never to be sold, given away or released for as long as Godric lived. Released. It was a strange way to word things, thought Godric. A ding brought Godric back to the here and now. He slipped his hand in his pocket and pulled out a key card. Inserting the card into a slot in the elevator caused it to rise to the penthouse level. With a whoosh, the elevator doors slid open and Godric exited to find himself in a small, but beautifully appointed foyer. Travertine marble was on the floor and a beautiful carved Chinese cabinet lay against one wall. A mirror above the cabinet was decorated with the swirling pattern of Chinese dragons. Several Japanese lithographs in stark black frames decorated the walls. Godric strode from the foyer into an open concept living area. A sunken area housed a large, plush sectional in a cream color. A modern fireplace was lit and the flames were reflected in scattered crystals that were lying in the hearth. Godric took a few steps forward and saw that the debris from several broken glasses on the floor before the fireplace as if someone had thrown them. A large bouquet of Asiatic lilies decorated the low coffee table. They were a deep red, so dark that they appeared a purplish black color. He sniffed and detected their fragrant aroma. His nose also detected something else and he lifted his gaze and scanned the room. An efficient, modern kitchen overlooked the living space. Sleek stainless steel, professional grade appliances and creamy beige granite countertops greeted his eye. The scarlet lilies seemed to be the only splash of color in the room. Everything was subdued elegance. Comfortable, yet cold. His eyes took in a bank of floor to ceiling windows that opened up to a balcony. He noticed a slot in the ceiling where shutters could be lowered to block out the sun. So far that was the only clue that this apartment had belonged to a vampire. There was a double door to the side of the kitchen and Godric assumed that this must lead to the bedroom area. At least the architect had afforded a degree to privacy in his modern plans. Like most vampires, Godric preferred his sleeping areas to be secluded. That scent caught his nose again. Sandalwood and spice. He opened the door and found a large, carved bed that dominated the room. The dark cherry wood headboard was elaborately carved in a Middle Eastern design with styled flowers and repeating patterns. A red velvet duvet covered the bed and a crimson sari-patterned throw lay across the foot of the bed. These brilliant flashes of color seemed to be the only personality in the apartment. It was oddly feminine, thought Godric. A flash of movement caught his eye and he turned to see billowy curtains blowing in the breeze. He frowned. First the fireplace was alight and now the balcony doors were open to the night air. Wasn't this apartment secured properly? He walked to the door and saw a large concrete balcony that afforded a million dollar view of the Dallas nightlights. The flickering lights rivaled the stars in the night sky. But, that wasn't the only thing to catch his eye. Striding atop the balcony border was a vision in crimson. She was turned away from him, standing on that narrow rail in her bare feet. She faced the lights of downtown and raised a glass of red wine to her lips and drank it, tilting her head back to gulp it down. The breeze lifted her dark, auburn hair so that it rippled behind her. Her svelte body wore a nightgown of red lace and satin that fluttered as if it were a living thing. Without looking back, she threw the empty glass over her shoulder where it broke into a hundred pieces against the wall. She, then, held out her hands to the side as if she were going to take flight. Or jump.
Concerned, Godric said, "Um, excuse me."
She turned around in a flash and Godric was struck by a pair of hazel eyes that went wide in surprise. Her sudden movement caused her to lose her balance and her arms wind-milled. With a cry, she fell backwards into the blackness of the night. That hadn't gone the way he had planned, thought Godric. With a leap, Godric took to the air and flew after her down the side of the high-rise. Turning over and over, he watched her falling form as he drew closer. She was disorientated and probably drunk, but she wasn't screaming. She righted herself in the air and faced her impending doom. Her arms spread out like wings, but they did little to stop her descent. In another second, he grabbed onto her and pulled her against him. She stiffened, but as Godric rose back up towards the penthouse, she wrapped her arms around him. The scent of sandalwood and sweet spice overwhelmed him and her soft, warm breath caressed his ear. He could hear her racing heartbeat and feel the warmth of her skin. Not a vampire. He was surprised how she seemed to fit perfectly in his arms. Alighting once again on the balcony, he gingerly lowered her to the floor. Her eyes fluttered open and her enchanting hazel eyes were revealed. He watched mesmerized as green flecks seemed to move in the brown depths of her eyes. Who was she and more importantly what was she doing in his apartment?
Tucking a wayward lock of auburn hair behind her well-formed ear, Godric asked, "Who are you?"
"Mathias didn't tell you?"
Godric shook his head 'no'. "Who are you?" he repeated.
Those bewitching hazel eyes stared into his and her soft lips parted revealing perfect, straight teeth.
"I'm yours," she replied.
A/N: Just a little beginning to a story that I thought up. I've been so busy lately and neglecting my other stories, but I'd rather write some good stuff that keep on writing just to be writing. But, Godric has been on my mind too much to completely ignore so we have this idea. Who is the Lady in Red? I think that she was one of the 'treasures' that Mathias was talking about. Godric did swear to keep his promise, didn't he?