The doors pushed open and revealed a large room with a oval table in the middle. The head of the table was an orante chair, and an balding man with grey hair and a pattern so weak in the elements I almost laughed. He was a five, but he was on the low end. Maybe not even a five if you asked me. Power plays weren’t uncommon in the Venatori. And the ruling families were always getting their way.
Around the table sat each of the heads of the houses, my brother Adam sat in my father’s spot. Kai had left of his own violation otherwise Adam wouldn’t be sitting at the table. My half brother stood up and glared at me, “What is the meaning of this brother.”
I laughed. “Now you claim me.”
Adam scowled. “What are you doing here Nox?”
“Didn’t you hear? I yelled pretty loudly.”
Adam drew a gun and raised it at me. “Nox, I won’t hesitate.”
“If you interfere wih the challege issued you forefeit your life.” Mark Green said.
I shook my head. “No let my big brother shoot me. I dare you.” I said to Adam. Alex snorted behind me and I knew Ant was smirking.
Adam stared at me the gun pointd at me. He started to lower it but Matthias grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger in the span of a second. Apparently no one paid any attention to the show down stairs. The bullet topped over the middle of the table. This time Ant flung it wide with a wave of his hand. I wasn’t sure if it was my power or his own that he used. Or if it was all one and the same.
“Anyone else want to try?” I asked.
“Where do you want to do this Mr. Green?” I said polietly when no one moved. “Any special rules you want?”
There was very little movement on the councils part. The smirk on the old Cesari’s face never slipped he didn’t even really look at me. “You come with a vampire and a human. Truly tells us where your loyalties lie.” He laughed.
“My loyalties lie with the people of New York, human, dragon, therian, vampire, alien, I don’t give a fuck. But they don’t deserve to be hunted down and killed because you didn’t bother to find out why they did wrong. The humans just don’t execute, and if a cop kills someone it’s put under investigation. Murder is murder no moatter how you look at it.”
“So noble from a boy who can’t back it up.” He said and pulled out a file. “You’ve killed as many as most of us.”
I frowned, “I killed in self defense and only self defense.”
“So Emerson was attacking you.”
I nodded, “He was. He was about to breathe fire on me or my friends. I wasn’t going to let someone die like that – especially myself.”
“And what about The Dragon?” He snickered.
“You pull out the only two recent ones? What about Walker who I saved, or Trix who I caught and now use to help me do what I do best – help people.”
Alex was beside me, “Don’t talk to them, Nox, they aren’t going to listen. They are waiting for something.” He added the last in a whisper, but the Venatori still heard it.
“We are waiting for something.” Mark Green said as a pile of armed Venatori and a rune stone came into the room behind us. The guards lined the wall, and the council left – except their illustrious leader. Adam pushed past me roughly, with a whisper, “I’m sorry it came to this.” My brother didn’t hate me, no matter his pretense, but a show of hatred and threat was all he had. He wasn’t my father, siding with me could mean his death. He wasn’t my greatest fan – never had been but he at least didn’t really want me dead. I took comfort in that.
Dorian stepped into the room, “Sir, you….” He stood staring at me.
Mark Green smirked, “I did. You will witness the death of the student you raised to be like this.” He waved his hands at me like I was some sort of abomination.
Dorian noddd. He took the stone from the man carrying it. “This is the stone handed down from leader to leader. It bears the mark of the Venatori, and it keeps the shroud around, only the true leader can use it.”
I recognized the runes etched into the rock. It was just that until someone gave the rock power. Alex smirked. “So only your leader can make it work?”
Dorian nodded and brought the rock to Mark Green and it glowed red and yellow. “And so the winner of the challenge shall be the next. So have the ancient laws decreed – the most powerful of us shall make the stone glow in all it’s colors and he shall lead us into the light.”
Dorian looked at me but never brough the stone near. He purposefully kept a wide berdth from me. He knew iit had nothing to do with being Cesari. He’d seen the runes too, the one he’d given me.
The rune was placed on the table and Dorian with ease shoved it to the side. “And so shall th challenge begin. A fight to the death.”
“One question.” I said.
Dorian looked to me with a smile, “Anything goes?”
Mark Green laughed, “Anything goes. What do you think to the death means?”
“It means that you will die.” I said. Mark’s face went fiery red and he charged me physically. I laughed as I wrapped the leader of the Venatori in air. Only his head could move freely and he thrashed in the confines of the tomb he was about to die in.
I walked over to the rune stone and picked it up. It glowed like the book a fiery hot red but it also came alive with other blinding colors, gold, blue, green, orange so bright it felt almost as hot as fire itself.
I smiled at Mark as I brought the bright stone to the former leader of the Venatori. “What wha it that Dorian just said? ‘Only the true leader can use it’ Wasn’t there a little more too, ‘the most powerfu of us shall make the stone glow in all it’s colors’?” I held the stone up for Mark to see better. “Seem that your puney red and yellow are nothing.”
“How…how are you doing that.” Mark Green studdered.
“It is no longer any of your concern.” I pulled Salvation from my holster at the small of my back and I drew it along the air below Mark’s chin. Salvation was sharp, meticuolous maintained even though I never used the knife. It cut deep and it cut fast and blood splattered everywhere as the man in front of my tried to talk, but his life force was gone.
There was no movement. There was no cheers. The sound of silence was deafening. Dorian was the first too move, “And so shall it be from this day to your last day.” He bent the knee.

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