The world felt so much smaller than it did ten minutes ago. Eddie sat in front of me purring while Alec scratched behind his ears. “Nox.”
I looked up at Alec, “Wasn’t this a girl before?”
“How do cats spontaneously change sex?”
I took a deep breath and steady myself as I sat up. “Umbra.” I spoke slowly. “He’s. of. umbra.”
“What do you mean?”
I shrugged. “Third. Ascendent. Order’s Champion.”
“You are really articulate right now.” I glared at Alec and flipped him off. Which only made Alec laugh. “Mon Ami, if only.” His French accent was back full force. “You think you are well enough to move to a different room?”
I nodded. “Slowly.”
“Gotcha.” Alec said as he lifted me. “I could carry you.”
“You do. You die.” I said.
Alec raised his hands and backed away. “I like my undead life. Mon ami.” His smile was genuine and he moved to help me stand. “I wouldn’t have anyway. Not my position. I’m not the son.”
“Ant.” I said.
“Titles are important.” Alec said.
“Not to me.”
“Mors Praetor is a humble man. Mors Praetor keeps his word. And Mors Praetor is not one of us.” Alec sounded like he was reciting something. Before we were out of the bathroom Eddie leaped on to my shoulder and balanced easily like he was some scabby parrot. Alec laughed as he pushed the door open and we were in a clean room. “Your room?”
I nodded. Alec nodded, “You will need to bar the windows.” Alec and I walked slowly back to our room.
I took another slow breath and tried not to think about it because the panic might set in and until the hangover like symptoms were gone I wasn’t doing anything. “When I feel better.”
Alec nodded, “Yeah, I know. What exactly are you doing anyway? Your power is intoxicating.”
My room smelled like Alex – **my Alex.** I really needed him right now, but he needed to right himself first. I understood that. Self care was important.
Alec sat me down on the edge of my bed. “I’m letting go, Alec.” I said with pain. “And everything is harder. I see everything. I hear everything. Every smell rolls my stomach.”
Alec chuckled. “Much like becoming a vampire then.” He said and sat down his memories pulling the French accent out more. “It wasn’t like yesterday, but I remember it still. When Felix found me and took me as his human lover I was a soldier in the Roman Empire. I followed my orders, and I did as I was told. Until the day I was sent into to a village and saw it was nothing but women and children we were meant to slaughter. I refused, and my commander ran his spear through my gut. I made my way to Felix before I thought was my dying last breath. And that was when he made me.” He paused and looked fondly out into space, “I loved him once. I killed him to take my throne. Vincent was my brother in arms and then in undeath.” Alec paused his story and looked at me. “When I awoke vampire the world was new and bright and I could see farther than I had ever when I was human and it was a moonless night in the darkest of dungeons where I awoke. Yet I saw as if the sun were so bright.”
He laughed softly, “I don’t imagine my new sight compares to what you see, Nathaniel used to speak of colors that moved and shifted with the world. He could barely see them, but you see them in full blown color. I do understand the empty stomach. My ears picked up the sound of dripping water three rooms over and it sounded louder than a drum beside my head. And the hunger…”
“Unfathomable hunger raged in my body. Felix was there and offered me a tender young lass and I nearly killed her, but Felix was a good teacher and told me how to stop and when I let my lust take over he stopped it physically if he had to.”
“And now you swear your allegiance to me?”
“I have had many masters in my long long life and this is the first time I have willingly followed.”
“You joined the Roman army?”
“I was conscripted more than joined. It was that or die.” Alec said.
“Do not be. It lead me here – to where I was supposed to be.”
“You believe in fate?”
Alec shrugged. “I don’t know if it is written. Or if it’s just someone one’s funny attempt at bringing up words that we interpret as prophecy. Skipping the parts that don’t fit. Or losing the bits that didn’t matter. I don’t know. But I know everything I have gone through in my life has brought me to you. One lead to another, lead to another and so on until I am here. Without one I might not have found this path. Changed something simple and I’d be long since dead.”
“How did you get through it?”
“With much help. My first feeding was a god send. It helped tremendously.”
“Eddie said I must eat.”
“Maybe it is more like an embrace for you. You do call to the vampires. I imagine it is much the same for the therians not born to their curse.” Alec said. “Alex should be here soon, but I will grab something to eat while you wait.” He stood up and headed for the door. “Rest, find peace in knowing, no one will hurt you here.”
“That’s what I thought before with the Venatori.”
Alec snickered. “Mon ami, the Venatori have always hated you. Here, you are loved. And Vin is finding all those who do not. At first I thought he was a fool for doubting us, but his reason are valid and you gave him the job.”
I laughed. “Only because he was going to investigate Sage. I trust Sage with my life, so if he felt Sage was a threat – everyone must be a threat.”
Alec nodded. “Rest. I will be back with food. Everyone is here to protect you. Jae and Seraph are outside, one will come inside while I’m away.”
I shrugged as I laid down. I didn’t really care, I was getting used to all their presences now anyway. But it was Griffin who came out of the wood work. He stood in front of the curtained window and waited arms crossed and just waited. I had a feeling the man was pissed off he wasn’t with me when it happened. Failing is duty. But there it was, an immovable man and I doubt he was going to leave me alone any time soon.