Chapter 32

Part 1

"What just happened?" asked Lester, who was still beside me.

I gestured for Lester to walk with me. As I started moving, I glanced back to verify Stefan and Damon were following. They both had confused expressions on their faces, much like Lester.

"Mister Lester, how much do you know about vampire lore?" I asked.

"Ah, not a sodding thing would sum it up pretty accurately, I think. But it sounds like I should."

I nodded. "A family of vampires was created by a powerful witch and all the rest of the vampires in the world are descended from them. This family was originally from somewhere in Eastern Europe, but had relocated to the New World in the 10th Century before they were turned. And if Harry's story of the first Viking King is correct, it had to have been early in the 10th Century. I have only met two members of the original family of vampires, Elijah and Klaus, or Niklaus as Harry refers to him. Elijah comes across as the more civilized of the two, but make no mistake, neither of them have much regard for normal humans."

"You're saying these vampires have been alive for over a thousand years?" asked Lester.

"The correct term is undead, not alive," I said with a grin. Then my smile faded, as I continued. "But, yes, they have been around for over a thousand years. Katherine, the vampire who looks like me, is over five hundred years old."

"And how is it that you and her look exactly alike? I have known a number of identical twins down through the years and no two of them have ever looked as alike as you two."

I shrugged. "I only know bits and pieces of this part of the story. Somehow the blood of one of my distant ancestors was involved in both the creation of the vampires and a special curse put on Klaus. He is really only a half-brother of the other original vampires. He has a different father who happened to be a werewolf, so he has both the vampire and the werewolf in him. My ancestor's blood was used in a curse that has kept his werewolf side dormant. It takes the blood of one of us to break the curse. Klaus has always wanted to break the curse for once it is lifted, he will be much more powerful than the other original vampires, who are themselves more powerful than ordinary vampires. However it can't be the blood of just any member of my family, but only special ones like me or Katherine. Therefore, since we both look alike, I suspect we also look exactly like our original ancestor, too. Anyway, our blood only works while we are human. Klaus tried for Katherine's blood five hundred years ago, but she managed to get herself turned into a vampire before he got to her."

"If you have met Klaus, then he must be after your blood, too," stated Lester with a burst of logic I would have said was beyond him when I first met him. But I had come to realize he was a lot sharper than he normally let on.

"Unfortunately, he already has my blood. About three weeks before I passed through the first anomaly, he drained my blood and killed me during a ritual to restore his werewolf nature."

Lester turned and stared at me. "You don't look dead. Or do zombies come into the story now, too?"

I shook my head and felt my eyes tear up. And that had never happened when thinking about John before. "My . . . my father used a special magic spell to bring me back. But the powerful magic needed to bring someone back from the dead always comes with a high price. It required him to sacrifice his own life."

"I'm sorry, Elena."

I found myself wiping at my eyes. And thinking about my eyes made me think about Harry's eyes again. "Mister Lester, did Harry's eyes look different to you? I mean after he woke up back in the glade."

"No. Why? Do they look different to you?"

"So they don't suddenly look silver, an almost mirror-like chrome version of silver?"

Lester shook his head. "It's hard to tell in the low light out here, but I would say they are still their normal blue. Certainly, they weren't like silver mirrors from one of those bad sci-fi shows Connor is always watching," he concluded with a shudder.

I wondered why it felt like Lester had more intimate knowledge of Connor's TV-viewing habits then most bosses would know about their underlings. But before I could pursue it, I saw both Caroline and Harry drop to the ground in front of us. And Caroline quickly turned and put a finger to her lips in the universal signal for silence. They must have spotted some of the Council's men. Or knowing our luck, something even worse.

Part 2

I pulled Abby's EMD gun from my coat pocket before moving up at a crouch to where Harry and Caroline lay behind a large evergreen tree. I quietly stretched out on the ground next to Caroline. The lowest branches of the old tree were just high enough to give a clear view of the glade beyond, if you were in a prone position.

Three men had just entered the glade from the far side about one hundred feet from our position. Once they stepped more fully out into the open where the light from the quarter moon could reach them, I could see two were carrying rifles while the man in the center had what looked like a stake in his right hand and something small cupped in his left. He was staring intently down at whatever was in his left hand as he slowly moved forward while sweeping it from side to side.

Abruptly his arm stopped sweeping and was pointing unerringly in our direction. That's when I realized the man had to be my ancestor, Jonathan Gilbert, and he had to be holding the vampire compass. It still boggled my mind a little that I could have the exact same device in my pocket. It seemed like it should break some basic law of the universe for the device to be in his hand and my pocket at the same time. But then the whole idea of time anomalies should break some basic laws, too. However we were most definitely here in the Mystic Falls of 1864.

"That has to be my ancestor, Jonathan Gilbert," I whispered to Caroline and Harry. "He is holding the vampire compass, a device that will point to the nearest vampire, which would be you, Caroline, at the moment."

"Shit," whispered Caroline. "There's a device that identifies vampires?"

I nodded. "Jonathan Gilbert invented it. Although I'm not sure it worked until Emily Bennett put a spell on it. It has been in the Gilbert family ever since. In fact, I still have it; it's in my pocket."

"You have a device that identifies vampires and never told me?" Caroline asked incredulously.

"You knew about it at one time, back before you were turned, but Damon compelled you to forget. Once you were turned, there didn't seem to be any point in telling you. It wouldn't do you any good. If you tried to use it, it would just point at yourself."

The men across the glade had started to move in our direction and were now about seventy-five feet away.

"I need to get out of here," stated Caroline. "I'm putting the rest of you in danger. I'll lead them away and then meet you at the anomaly."

I shook my head. "The woods are full of men hunting vampires. It's too dangerous."

"Let me go speak to them. Perhaps I can convince them to leave our party alone," stated Harry with the ring of authority his voice had carried ever since he had received Caroline's blood. Of course, I couldn't be certain if the feeling of authority I got from him wasn't just some lingering aftereffect of my earlier experience. It was like some voice in my head was still shouting at me to believe whatever he said.

But we never had a chance to find out if Harry could be as commanding with normal humans. He was just rising to his feet when Jonathan Gilbert suddenly swung sharply around; the hand holding the vampire compass abruptly pointing back in the direction from which they had come.

Then I saw six extremely fast shapes emerge from the shadows in that direction. They moved so fast, I barely got a good-enough look to realize they were man-shaped before they fell upon the three men near the center of the glade. Jonathan Gilbert and the men with him were being attacked by vampires.

Quickly, I raised the EMD and fired a couple of hurried shots. The distance was pretty long and the hand weapon wasn't that accurate, the best I could hope for was to distract the vampires for a moment. The weapon wouldn't put a vampire down at this distance, but also shouldn't kill any of the humans either, if I hit them by mistake.

"Come on, we need to save them," I shouted, as I scrambled to my feet and raced around the side of the sprawling pine tree.

My shots must have at least registered with the vampires, as three of them had turned and were staring in my direction. But the other three had the men on the ground and were obviously feeding.

"No," I shouted and fired the weapon again. This time one of the vampires jerked back and then crashed to the ground, his arms and legs spasming. But the other two just broke into an impossibly fast run towards me.

In barely two seconds the pair were almost upon me. I didn't even have time to rotate the EMD the bare ten degrees necessary to get it lined up with one of them. Then, with the nearest one less than seven feet from me, I heard a single word from behind me.

"Stop," commanded Harry with the full power of his special royal gift. Instantly every muscle in the bodies of the two vampires froze. Their momentum carried them forward, but they both tumbled to the ground unable to even raise their arms to break their fall.

They ended up on the ground right at my feet, which was a good thing, because my body was frozen in place, too. I couldn't so much as twitch a muscle. All I could do was stare straight ahead to where the other three vampires also appeared to have been struck motionless in the act of feeding on Jonathan and the two men with him.

I must have been frozen for at least twenty seconds before Harry stepped forward and lightly touched my arm.

"Elena, I release you," was all he had to say before I abruptly regained use of my body. The two vampires at my feet remained frozen in place.

It was extremely disconcerting to know someone could completely immobilize me with a single word. More than disconcerting, it was hugely annoying to learn my supernatural gift had another big drawback while the gift had yet to demonstrate a single discernible benefit to me.

Forcing my attention back to the present situation, I quickly stepped around the two fallen vampires. "We need to see about Jonathan Gilbert. He has to survive tonight, as he hasn't yet married. I have no idea what will happened to me, if he dies without having children."

As I ran forward, I realized both Harry and Caroline were pacing me. Glancing back, I saw Lester, Damon, and Stefan just emerging from the trees.

Reaching the three fallen humans and the frozen-in-place vampires, I knew we were too late. The throats of all three men had been torn out and from their extremely pasty complexions, I knew most, if not all of their blood had been drained.

I fell to my knees beside the man who should have been my great, great, great grandfather. Would I simply fade away now that he would never have children?

End of Chapter 32

Author's Note:

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Duane