Igor Bianchi lived in a small house near Damian’s establishment. I felt wrong calling it a whore house. Those souls fed a vampire for hundreds of years and he never had to bit his victims. Damian I had learned fed his minions this way. He kept his line small and mostly in Rome, though there were kisses around the world, they were run by their own master vampires. Ones that had trained with Damian and ones that knew how to feed their minions the same way. So the next time you visit a whore house think about what might be going on in the shadows. It might tempt you not to stray, or it might entice you. But either way it’ll make you think.
Igor was a fat man. Maybe fat wasn’t the right word, he was big and bulbous. Like a bear. His face was covered in a scruffy beard. His arms covered in thick hair almost like fur. I could feel bear radiating off of him before I even walked in his front door. There was the scent of damp earth on the air and it brought back bad memories.
Visions of watching my mother lying bleeding on a cave floor followed by her convulsing and foaming at the mouth in a hospital room. My only regret – not telling her I forgave her and that I loved her. I was 19 at the time, but I had gotten over her leaving me to the Venatori on a rational level. On an emotional one I still cried about it on my bad days. I had to fight to push them memories away. My shields were still scattered in my other powers. I was having a hard time controlling the cascading torrent of energy all around me and inside me. It was like letting down the flood gates and trying to put them back up while tons of water was still rushing through it at the same time.
The big man sat in a chair much like a throne in his living room, or waiting room or study – whatever you wanted to call the room. It wasn’t exactly a throne room but it functioned as one in this moment. He radiated power very much like a Damian had. Sheer brute strength and it bellowed around me but didn’t touch me. I felt pack magic keeping it away. Why was everyone trying to intimidate me?
“Why does Il Cane’s human servant come with Exuli to my home?” Igor belched out, then took another swig of his ale from a horned mug. He almost fit the typical Viking visage except we were in Italy. Maybe he had roots there?
Ryan looked at me and shrugged. He wasn’t used to being adressed. I spoke instead. “Damain has gone to America to keep the vampire line safe. He asked me to make sure Valence doesn’t take his issues out on you and yours.”
Igor stood up. “I do not fear the vampire enforcer.”
“You should. He may not be Il Cane, but he’s just as powerful. Domination and Auspex are his primary domains. He could control you before you knew it.” Valence was also a dream walker from what I understood, but less skilled at it.
Igor scoffed. “What power do you offer me Exuli?”
That’s when I felt a vampire behind. He hadn’t just appeared, but it felt like it. “He is the Ascendant Igor.” I didn’t recognize the voice. His Italian english was clipped and he was not nearly as old as Damain. He looked no older than 18, but I could feel the power.
He bowed his head to Igor and then much deeper to me. Ryan laughed.
Igor stepped down from his pedistal and approached me and form a claw and slashed the front of the new shirt away. “He doesn’t bear the mark.” Three fine red lines crossed the were bear scars that raked across my skin years before and I didn’t think as I reacted. I pushed a wall of air between us and shoved the bear king far from me.
Ryan chuckled as he hurried over to the fallen king and helped him up. “I don’t think he much liked you touching him. And you owe him a shirt that was brand new.”
Vincent looked at the healed cut and the scar across my chest and the shreaded shirt. “He’s been attacked before.” He turned to Igor with a predatory growl. “He is Ascendant. Il Cane degrees it so, and Damain felt it.”
Ryan helped Igor sit on the throne’s raised floor. The bear king growled, “Tell me boy how many times have you died?”
“None. I’m still alive.”
I felt the shimmer of shadows and shuddered and Ant stood in the shadows to my left. “You should have waited Nox.”
“Why? You made the perfect entrance.” I grinned at Ant.
He rolled his eyes. “Igor. He has averted death three times to our account. The first being his Cesari birth and the Dragons leaving him alive. This is what signaled my mother to the possiblity. For the third, he died upon the earth saving a child of Morpheus and rose from his slumber stronger and more powerful than ever. The second can be disputed – poison at the hands of his own kind, or any other number of close calls he had through his life. The vampire bite that should have killed him, or the werebear attack that killed his mother. The second has no bearing but it is there and it is definite.”
I was lost.
Ryan was standing by my side and he whispered. “Thrice he shall escape death \ and rise from the ashes a fourth. \ He shall heed the call of the dragon, \ bear the bond of the son, \ and call the moon’s brothers to arms. \ Once to challenge, and twice challenged. \ Victorious, he shall ascend.”
Ant nodded. “Yes that is the prophecy we speak of Igor. He was called by The Dragon but he broke his power over him. He has command of a wolf pack in all but name. If he called the wolves of New York City would come – each and everyone.”
“And the son? Any idea what that means?”
Ryan chuckled. “You going to admit that Ant?”
Ant sighed. “He holds me captive though he doesn’t know it and he is lenient master.”
Everyone ignored my question as Ant continued, “Mother tried for two years to break the bond he forged unknowingly. He bound the packs to him in much the same way. The dragons are at his beck and call.”
“All New World weaklings. All of you.” Igor sneered.
Damian’s Lieutenant growled and Igor rushed us. I looked to Ant and he and Ryan stood in front of me like shields. But I didn’t need their help I stopped the charging werebear in a cacoon of air and sucked the air out. He was on his knees clutching at his throat seeking air that was not there. I stepped past the men guarding me as they stood staring at the suffocating man. “Do you want to try that again?” I asked. “We’ve done nothing to provoke you. We came to help keep the vampire war from your doorstep. But we can leave if you like. I won’t come back.”
I let the air back into the mesh of air I’d used to contain the bear king. He gasped for air I squatted down in front of him. “Now, do you want our help or not?”
The bear king only nodded. I stood up with a nod and turned to look at Vincent. He was not exactly what I expected Damian’s second, but he’d do. “You can coordinate with the bears? You know the city better than I do.”
Vincent nodded. “Whatever you desire.”
I laughed. “Don’t ever say that to me again unless you truly mean it.” There was a paling of the vampires already pale skin and I rolled my eyes. “Fear nothing, I have more than enough in my bed.”
His paling skin turned a rose color as he caught my meaning. But I didn’t really want to know what he thought I meant. Sadly Ryan fell in step and said. “He thought you knew he was lying. I don’t think he realized you liked men.”
I chuckled, “And here I thought my looks said it.”
Ant sighed, “You need to change again.”