They had lived in seclusion for millennia – and for millennia, there was peace.
It was no secret; the Council Five had always wished their family dead. All their members – past, present, and future – were monsters. As far as they've always known, there was only one way to deal with monsters; control them; chain them up and cage them for all of eternity.
They mustn't roam free.
Because the day they do will mark the end of history.
Because if they do, they will destroy us all...
It was early July in the Hawkesworth mansion.
Sunlight filtered in through the gaps of closed curtains; piercing, glaring. It brought with it a warmth that under normal circumstances would've been invigorating, but with that said, one did not simply shine its rays upon a sleeping man and expect him not to grumble.
Raimundo turned, checked his bedside clock. With sunlight this bright, he should've known that it couldn't be any later than three in the afternoon. He shielded his eyes with his arm, embracing the inviting haze of sleep just in time for Kazuma to storm the keep.
"Good morning, Young Master Hawkesworth."
A slight pause, a loud groan.
"Five more minutes."
"Young Master Hawkesworth, I must insist that you–"
"Go away, Kazuma."
He rolled onto his stomach, threw his bolster at his faithful butler. Maybe if he ignored him, he would go away.
"Ten more minutes…"
Lord, bless the poor souls in charge of waking their young masters. But of course, Kazuma was never one to be deemed a dear poor soul. Without notice, damned butler stripped the covers from his form, pulled his pillows right from under him, then opened his drapes in a motion so sudden it hurt his sensitive eyes from behind closed eyelids.
"Sir, I must advice against the usual shenanigans." Kazuma emptied his arms onto a bedside dresser. "Lord Hawkesworth is already awaiting your presence in the Grand Hall."
"What?" Raimundo shot up in an instant.
"The Lord and Lady are already expecting you in the Grand Hall."
He got up in a tangle of crumpled bedsheets and pillows, but that finally got him moving. With eyes now open and hair sticking in every direction possible, he rushed into the shower, did his tie, his uniform, that hair, all whilst Kazuma recited him his long, very long, schedule. Multi-tasking, Kazuma calls it. Time was everything to a man like Lord Hawkesworth. If Raimundo was ever to survive father dearest's intense scrutiny, he was going to have to do much, much better.
Perfection, he told himself as he approached the grand hall, nothing short of perfection.
"Oh, one last thing."
What was worse exactly? The fact that this was no longer a surprise, or that eighteen years of life and he still couldn't remember the importance of tying his shoelaces? He crouched down to rectify this, making it a point to curse the damned creator of bloody shoelaces.
No more mistakes, he told himself. Everything had to be absolutely flawless. With that in mind, he pushed open the large doors leading into the dining hall and stepped right in.
His mother was first to acknowledge his arrival.
"Raimundo! Good morning, sweetie."
Food had already been neatly arranged on the table, bacon, eggs, toast and – he could smell it – fresh human's blood. Lord Hawkesworth, naturally, sat at the head of the table, sieving through his pile of politics.
"Morning, Father. Mother."
The servants bow as he passed and Raimundo took his seat to the right of Lord Hawkesworth like he's been taught to do as his mother watched on with keen interest. She was kind, beautiful and unimaginably elegant. The perfect role model to the young girls of their generation.
"So Raimundo, I hear from your uncle that you'll be moving into the academy's dormitories soon."
"Actually mother, I'm moving in today."
"Is that so?"
She looked downcast for someone who'd urged him to stay within campus grounds. 'To become an integral part of the student body' she had said – but truth be told, Raimundo knew she was trying to create opportunities for interaction with his eligible Blood Lotus candidates.
As the descendants of the first original vampire, the Hawkesworths were practically royalty amongst their kind. Each clan of purebloods possessed the innate ability to control a single element, but the Hawkesworths of even rarer bloodline could control them all. With blood so powerful, the Blood Lotus was a magic created in order to sustain the purity of the Hawkesworths. Every generation, the Blood Lotus selected the perfect bride for each heir, and each time the magic has never failed.
Raimundo didn't understand that kind of logic. For magic to decide who would be occupying the other half of his bed each bed, he thought it was simply duty. His mother, on the other hand, strongly believed in its magic, often pushing him to get to know his eligible candidates. But the Blood Lotus Selection was absolute so he hardly saw the point, because interaction or not, he was to marry his selected. No questions asked. But if there was anyone who held the Blood Lotus Selection in the highest of regards, it was his mother. After all, centuries ago, it had been her who'd once been chosen.
"I should probably contact your uncle," his mother thought aloud. "Perhaps he could make your stay a little more comfortable."
"Fung is the academy's headmaster, Leanne. Not Raimundo's personal caretaker." Lord Hawkesworth turned another page, then waved over his loyal servant by the doorway. "Kazuma, see to it that Raimundo gets settled in comfortably."
"Understood, Master Hawkesworth."
"That's alright Kazuma, I can move in just fine on my own."
"Nonsense. Take Kazuma with you. He also has more pressing issues to see to at the academy."
"We just received word from our informants in Italy. It seems that the Alistairs have finally grown tired of hiding."
"The Alistair Clan is re-emerging?"
Lord Hawkesworth nodded. "Their heir will be attending the academy this fall. Our informants say he's reached the full maturity of his powers and I won't have him creating mayhem amongst our ranks."
Their heir attending the same academy as he? The descendant of Toreia? Raimundo had been taught from a young age that no good creature could ever come out from a clan such as theirs. No one had seen or heard from them in centuries, at least not until one night several months prior when the Head of Alistair had gone stark-raving crazy and donated half of his entire fortune – worth hundreds of billions – to charities all over the world. Father speculated that the Alistair heir was a screw-up and that Lord Alistair would sooner throw away his fortune than hand it over to his failure of a son.
"Father, you don't believe the Alistairs are behind this recent rise in the Heylin, do you?"
The dark expressions that followed were answer enough. Even his mother had her own theories on the matter, wearing the same look of a dark secret in her eyes. Arguably, since the dark ages, the Heylin have existed as one of the largest threats to their kind. Deranged, rampant vampires – all turned, not born – who had long lost their minds upon turning. They were the vampires that the humans knew in folklore and stories, ones that terrorised villages and hunted even the strong; wild by nature and crazed by blood.
News of their rise was spreading and people were expecting their Vampire King to fix it.
Lord Hawkesworth put his report down, looked his son dead in the eye and commanded his son, "Take Kazuma with you, Raimundo. He will handle the rest."
Raimundo hesitated and Lord Hawkesworth took the opportunity to drive his point home.
"It's one thing to be independent, son. It's another to be stupid."
"I understand, father."
That was exactly the sort of son he had raised, so very obedient. He smiled. He always did have his way no matter the situation.
She twirls, sets the rose in her hair and hums her favourite tune. She has long accepted that she'll never sound like her mother does, but so long as it doesn't sound too awful to the ears, she doesn't care. She'll live.
She really likes the campus gardens, she decides. It's nothing compared to what she's seen before but it smells like a gentle morning breeze. Like the smell of a meadow – sometimes bare, sometimes covered in wild flowers. It reminds her of her childhood. It reminds her of home.
A car pulls out on the driveway. Quite unusual for this time of day. And a young man dressed in their academy colours steps out of the passenger's seat with all the charm and poise of a noble's son. His attendant is carrying his baggage, she notes – probably another arrogant noble with nothing but his father's money and status to flaunt.
Her gaze follows him as he strides through the gardens with purpose. The academy's uniform has always looked stunning, but there was just something about the way that the young man wore them that elevated it into making a girl look twice. And as she catches his eye, she is momentarily stunned by the familiarity of his features.
She recognises this boy, she realises. She's only seen him once before but he had been one of the most handsome creatures she'd ever seen. She remembers those stunning features; how could she not? After all, she had once gotten on top of the poor boy's shoulders and stepped all over his back.
He had been an interesting boy, and she remembered him well.
He doesn't seem to remember her though. He looks her in the eye, flashes her a charming smile but never once stops in his steps.
Three years down the road and she still has no idea who he is. Apparently, it looks like neither does he.
But now that she's seen him once again, she has renewed her interest in finding out. This time, she is determined to find out who he is.
His impression of the Pureblood's common room remained the same. The furniture remained too traditional, beautiful, but Victorian. A rather odd feeling to have but this place somehow always managed to bring comfort yet suffocated all at once. He both loved and hated the place.
At the moment though, Raimundo was thankful for its existence because halfway to the third floor, Raimundo had been surrounded, somewhat ambushed, by a group of freshmen trying to gain his undivided attention. The squealing had given him a headache, and the exclusive common room had granted him much needed refuge from that.
Settling into his usual armchair by the fireplace though, all he felt in that moment was comfort.
"Kazuma, please take my items to my suite."
"Understood, Sir. I'll have everything arranged to your usual preferences."
"No need. Just leave them in the corner by the door."
After centuries of faithful service, Kazuma chose to just do, not question. He bowed and proceeded with his instructions. Of all the puzzling requests Raimundo has ordered of him over the years – asking for something he's never wanted before out of the blue, ordering his utmost discretion over the silliest of things – this one just wasn't worth fretting over.
Truth be told, it was just the simple need of Raimundo's to complete this one basic task with his own two hands, not Kazuma's.
She strode in through the large doorway with all the pride and dignity of a Pureblood, Cross Clan insignia shining on her gold cuff hair tie.
"Lynith, it's great to see you!" Raimundo kissed her on the cheek. "I trust you had a pleasant vacation?"
She laughed, neither overly graceful nor elegant despite their family's strict upbringing. "So formal with me now that you've spent your holidays with daddy dearest, Raimundo?" She dropped into the couch across from him, legs dangling on the arm rest, finger drawing traces of electricity in the air. "Really Rai, vacation just isn't the same without you."
"I could say the same to you."
They sat across from each other on the couches for a while, laughing and telling stories about times spanning from their vacation away to times from that of their childhood. Growing up, the two of them had always been close. Their relationship the very topic of envy amongst siblings. The unyielding bond and trust between them evident, yet ever unspoken.
Then suddenly, the mysterious gold in Lynith's eyes began to glow. The sudden activation of her powers often scared the hell out of the people around them, but Raimundo had seen it before and he knew exactly what it meant. "Another premonition?"
She nodded. "I've been getting the hang of it recently." The glow slowly faded from her eyes after a moment and already he could see the amusement playing out across her face. "I still can't find a way to get these visions to appear whenever I want, but when it counts I can get them to stop. Oh, and you might want to tell George Randson to stay clear of Arella today."
"Randson George? The one from the neighbouring class?"
"The one and only."
"So what is poor Randson about to do this time?"
"Let's just say that Arella will be quite busy untangling spaghetti from her hair all afternoon."
Raimundo laughed. Arella had quite the reputation regarding her explosive temper, but for as long as he's known her, Raimundo had never actually seen that infamous temper directed towards him. Lynith claimed that it was because Arella was completely infatuated by him – that much he knew – but until he had seen it for himself, Raimundo knew better than to pass judgement.
The sound of footsteps down the hallway caught their attention and Raimundo stood for the sake of formality to acknowledge the arrival of the others. Arella of course, approached him first; sakura hair trailing behind her, violet eyes filled with admiration. No doubt she had always been the most beautiful creature in school and being the heiress of the Lucard Clan, everyone knew how much Arella hoped and prayed that she would be selected by the Blood Lotus to be Raimundo's bride. He wouldn't have minded really. After all, Arella was very beautiful – possibly the most beautiful of their entire generation.
Trailing behind her with a soft thud of the closing of his book was Frederick, the perfect young heir to Althalos. "Good to see you, Raimundo," he greeted.
"Frederick. Glad to see you back as well."
It was slightly strange to be seeing the both of them arriving together. Raimundo knew how they've always bickered to no end. Already, Frederick looked as if he was holding back a snide comment or two and completely sympathetic, Lynith went forward to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"So, how are you adjusting to your spectacles?" she asked, adjusting them a little.
"Terrible. It's irritating to say the least and completely unnecessary."
She lifted his chin, gave him a once over. "I don't know, it looks kinda good on you."
"Hardly, I look like an insipid scholar with an identity crisis." In the minutes that followed, he busied himself with the continuous adjustment of his spectacles, trying to push it higher up his nose while it was already close to disappearing into his forehead. Really, Frederick could be such a stiff. Everyone else saw his spectacles as a testament to his power. The only way of suppressing such dangerous abilities; a strange power of the eye that nobody can quite explain. It scared people. To a point where despite having it fully under control, Frederick had been asked, somewhat forced, into those damned spectacles and had been hating on them ever since.
Within the hour, the rest of the Purebloods had arrived; Solomon Omi, Logan Clay and then S'valia Celeste who'd apologised profusely upon learning she had been last to arrive, even if she had in fact been well on time.
"So, anything interesting happened while we were apart?" Raimundo asked.
"I have finally reached the full potential of my powers." Omi supplied.
"Yes, so I have heard," Raimundo distinctly remembered sending the Solomons a generous gift basket. "A belated happy birthday to you, Omi."
"Thank you, Raimundo."
"More importantly," Frederick interrupted, clearing his throat. "I received news this morning about a certain new comer who will be joining us this year?"
"Ah yes," Raimundo nodded. "The Alistair heir."
Raimundo had always thought the key to controlling any given situation as a leader was to maintain his calm. Evidently that wasn't the case for this situation. If just the mere mention of the Alistair heir invoked such unrest amongst the Purebloods, Raimundo really wasn't looking forward to the moment when the heir showed his face at Alyssum Academy.
"How can you be so calm about this!?" Omi exploded. Everyone knew the hierarchy of the Purebloods. Whilst the Hawkesworths were known to be sovereign, the Alistairs ranked a close second. Not just in terms of influence but in terms of power as well. Masters of the element of ice, the Alistairs may not be almighty, but their powers were truly formidable. A fully "We can't just allow some Alistair to waltz in here!"
"This is not up to us to decide Omi," Clay spoke, his frown clearly indicating his disapproval towards such an outburst. As much as he abhorred their current circumstance, he did well to hold his calm – if nothing but for lack of information on this new heir. Celeste, on the other hand, never really had much of an interest in such politics and quarrels. Growing up, she'd always had the habit of biting her nails when caught up in a tensed situation and in that moment, Celeste looked just about ready to chew her nails into oblivion.
"How much do we know about this newcomer exactly?" Arella asked, incredibly sceptical. It had been common knowledge that she'd always liked things kept in their status quo whilst this, by any standards, was definitely anything but the status quo.
"I had Kazuma check up on him before we arrived."
"Brilliant! What did he say?"
"Nothing. Their heir has erected strong barriers around himself to prevent spying from our part."
A blatant act of defiance. The others may think it was completely uncalled for, but Lynith thought it absolutely brilliant. "Smart move."
"Executed like a true Alistair," Frederick commented, "Yet, ironically, I have never actually met one."
Clay intertwined his fingers before his face. "No surprise, they haven't mingled amongst others from our society for almost thirty generations."
The others were clearly less than welcome to the idea of another Pureblood joining them than they cared to admit. Frederick who still had his head screwed on right turned to Raimundo. "So, what do you plan to do now?"
Raimundo had spent the entire morning pondering that question and had come up with absolutely nothing. There was too little that they knew, too much left to be expected. And at times like this, he turned to his cousin for her advice.
She shrugged, "I haven't sensed anything worth fretting over yet. For all we know, we could be overreacting. This could actually turn out to be a good thing."
"Then it's settled. We will all formally welcome the freshmen and our new Pureblood into the coven."
"What!?" Omi was not about to accept it. "We are deciding on this based on a feeble sixth sense? This is ludicrous!"
"We should all go prepare." Raimundo announced anyway, "This evening will be the school's opening ceremony, after which would be the opening of our château. I expect everyone to be in top form of this event. Let us do as we always do."
Apart from Omi who stalked off in a furious fit, they all agreed, albeit reluctantly.
And that was it. At least for now. Raimundo rose from his couch, straightened his collar. There was much to be prepared.
Time to give the black sheep his grand welcome.
"The time has come."
"Time for us to emerge from the shadows."
"I shall purge this world of its darkness. All its secrecies, all its lies."
"And why is that?"
"This world is corrupt. Our brethren has yet to be avenged."
"You, my dear, truly were born to be the Supreme."
"And yet someone has taken that right away from me."
"Who is that?"
"The man who sits on the throne of blood, the Vampire King."
"Exactly. You are the key to our clan's redemption."
"I shall complete the purge."
"Together, we shall put an end to the Hawkesworth clan."
The sun was dipping low into the horizon and deep in thought, Raimundo stood by the large closed windows watching the shades of orange darkening across the skies.
He swirled the fresh crimson liquid in his goblet. He tipped it into his mouth, savouring the sweetness of human blood running down his parched throat. He was getting impatient. Frederick had admired him for his calm but truthfully, in the time that Frederick had been absent from the room, Raimundo had already asked his servants about the Alistair's arrival so many times he's convinced they all think he was obsessing.
Maybe he was, because despite his better judgement, Raimundo asked again.
"Kazuma, has the Alistair heir arrived?"
"Not yet, Sir."
He sighed. His servant bowed faithfully even as his young master showed no indication of noticing.
Frederick was studying his books when he entered. But like everyone else scampering around to prepare for tonight's celebration, he was visibly anxious. Raimundo hadn't heard the sound of his book closing but had noticed that at some point Frederick had turned his sceptical sights on him instead.
"What is it, Frederick?"
"Alistair needs to go."
"He is dangerous, Raimundo."
A strong leader would stand his ground and make the situation, such as the addition of an Alistair, work to his advantage. A smart leader however, would find a way to avoid this entire situation altogether and get rid of their little predicament as soon as possible. Frederick could only hope that Raimundo was the type of leader who wouldn't take that gamble.
"We can't say for sure that they have dangerous intentions."
"We can't wait for them to reveal their dangerous intentions, Raimundo."
"Enough, Frederick." Yes, he knew Alistair would be dangerous and yes, he is the descendent of Toreia – Raimundo already knew all of that. Now if everyone around him could stop harping on about it, maybe he could have a moment's peace. It's been millennia; an Alistair thirty generations from the time of creation was evidently not the same as Alistair Toreia. Raimundo gave Frederick a pointed look; one that left no more room for discussion. "Do not challenge Alistair. Remember your place."
Althalos was silent, obviously unpleased. Well, Raimundo thought, he would realise sooner or later that they would all just have to get over it. He paced his way toward the fireplace and watched the flames diminish.
"There is truth to your argument though." Raimundo admitted. "We need to be cautious around the new Alistair. Right now, whilst my powers have yet to awaken, he is the most powerful of our generation." Raimundo picked another piece of hemlock wood, threw it into the fire and with darkened eyes, watched the flames engulf it whole. "Even I am not ultimate."
He fixed his gaze on the scenery on the other side of the large windows. "The sky has a wonderful colour does it not?"
"I have always liked sunsets. They remind me of our blood and our existence."
It was beautiful – a fine mixture of orange and crimson as the sun dipped low behind the murky depths of Alyssum Lake. It was somewhat reassuring. But then again, in this world of which they existed, nothing was ever as it seems.
He smiled. Something interesting was finally about to happen. Others may be sceptical, maybe even scared, but Raimundo welcomed change. But at the same time, if the Alistairs were here for trouble, they had a lot more to learn about power and authority than they thought.
He stood, handing Kazuma his empty glass. Frederick followed suit.
A new night had begun. After tonight, everything was going to change. Nothing would be the same again.
Once again, credits to CaJuN VoOdOo for the original setting of this story. Blood Lotus is heavily based on CaJuN's 'Blood Orchid', but with my twists and my story line (which will be clear as the story goes along). Thank you so much to PhoenixForce42 for being my wonderful beta-reader! Couldn't have done it without you!