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    C. Henderson
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Sacrum - 33. Chapter 33: Cursed

I wandered around Maratoni’s compound in the absence of Demetrius, contemplating my dream and how exactly I would go about finding the missing Carandini member. If I could just locate him or her then it wouldn’t be too hard from there. I could easily recognize them. They all shared very similar facial features, after all. The hard part was actually finding the illegitimate royal in the first place, when I couldn’t even locate a trace of the ever-elusive Dahlia.

Maratoni knew something about her—of that I was sure—but there was no way he would ever help me. It simply gave him too much satisfaction to keep me in the dark. Graham appeared to be unwilling to even speak her name, and I didn’t exactly enjoy harassing him when he’d done so much to help me already. I had to ask someone else who’d been around at that time.

As if he heard my troubled thoughts, Maratoni suddenly appeared from behind the door to his office.

“Stop lurking about,” he grumbled seeing me in the hallway.

“I’m not lurking,” I snapped back.

“You’re supposed to be hiding. That means going back in your four walls, so I don’t have to see you,” he replied, and I had to compose myself for a moment because once again, he was testing my patience. Maybe I could practice my gift on him just one time, I thought. But the mean-spirited idea quickly disappeared. I knew that Vinicius didn’t give me a gift for me to play around with it and use it on another Mentor—no matter how much of an ass he was, or how badly he deserved it.

I figured I’d barrage him with some questions instead.

“Has Vincent called? How long am I supposed to stay here?”

“Vincenzo has more important things to worry about than you being bored while we look after your safety. Perhaps you should show a little gratitude,” he pointed out with a malicious smile.

“If I’m such an inconvenience to you, why don’t you just kick me out right now? Let’s see how Vincent and his uncle feel about that. I’m sure they’ll just pat you on your back, Maratoni.” He deserved it, I thought.

“It’s Professor Maratoni to you,” he snarled.

“Expect you’ve never taught me anything. All you’ve done since we’ve met is insult and berate me. What have I ever done to deserve that?”

He shook his head, then almost as if he was speaking more to himself than to me, he said.

“You’ve been given everything. Yet still, you walk around like it’s a burden. Just like Demetrius. Where did we go wrong with you two, hmm? Vinicius and I…well, I guess we have something in common after all. We both failed as Mentors.”

And then just as quickly as he appeared, he slammed the door in my face.

Strange, I thought. Maratoni finally having some insight into his own failures. I wasn’t expecting that type of self-reflection from him. I didn’t appreciate that he roped Vinicius in the same category as himself, but it was better than his previous smug attitude.

Given everything—was I? He didn’t understand what it felt like. Nobody except the other Specials could truly relate to the kind of pressure that having the gift came with. It separated us from the rest…isolated us from regular vampires and humans. It was something we had to live up to—like a famous family name. It was a burden—Maratoni was right—that’s how I felt, and I had a pretty good hunch Demetrius was of the same mind.

I wondered if the other Specials knew yet. If they heard about my assassination attempt. And whether the Carandini’s reached out to them, looking to add yet another soldier to their renegade army.

Suddenly Maratoni caught up to me, shooting me another look of pure loathing as he held out his hand and gave me a cell phone.

“Hello?” I said into the phone.

“Dani, is everything alright?” It was Vincent.

“Everything is fine. I’m…laying low,” I replied, shooting Maratoni a pointed glance. His mouth tightened but he stayed quiet. I moved away, wanting some privacy.

“Good. Keep doing that. The compound is the safest place for now.”

“Is everyone safe at yours?” I asked.

“Safe and sound. Though the League made a nasty mess while searching the place. No matter, it will be time to move soon anyway.”

“Move, where?”

“Home,” he replied simply. I thought back to the palace Ciprian described on our drive here. Surely that was all gone. What was home to Vincent? “I’d like you to come with me, of course, if that’s what you want.”

“Vincent...we need to sit down and talk. If I’m going to commit to this, I need the full truth. The entire plan, and all that it entails.”

“I understand. We will have time to speak soon. Let me get everything into place first, and then you can have all the answers that you want, deal?”

“Deal,” I replied.

“Vincent?” I suddenly thought to ask.

“Yes?”

“What if I say no?” A long silence followed. I went on. “What if I say the two of us can just…run away together. Somewhere far. Leave vampire politics behind us. Leave the war behind us. And just live somewhere on a farm, away from it all.”

“A farm?” he asked in a serious voice.

“What’s wrong with a farm?” I replied. Were all Carandini’s allergic to plain things and the simple life?

Vincent chuckled.

“I’d say that sounds like a lovely dream, Dani. And though I love dreams, we still live in reality. No matter how far we run, this world will catch up to us. There is no life together until we conquer the powers that be. And there is no you and I, until you agree…”

The words stunned me into a momentary silence.

“So your feelings for me have conditions?”

“No, Dani. What I feel for you is unconditional,” he replied. “But my actions going forward are very clear cut. If you can’t see yourself as part of the picture, I will have to do it alone.”

“What if there’s another way?”

“There is no other way,” he quickly replied.

“There could be a new government. A just government.”

“Vinicius already tried that, it didn’t work. My family was slaughtered, Dani. Someone has to pay,” he replied, and with each word he sounded less and less like Vincent.

“Revenge isn’t going to bring them back. In fact, it might get all of us killed,” I replied.

“Let’s not do this over the phone,” he snapped. “We’ll talk in person. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. And then you will have to make a choice Dani.”

I stayed silent.

“Stay safe,” he added, then he hung up the phone.

It was a lot to think about. I walked back to Maratoni and reluctantly handed him the phone. Thankfully he chose to stay silent. Then I made my way back to Demetrius’ room for the rest of the night to mull it all over.

 

***

 

The next two days felt like torture as I fruitlessly sat around at the compound while Demetrius was gone on patrol most of the time.

When he was here, he seemed to be in a permanent bad mood, keeping mostly silent and staring at his chess board as if trying to figure out his next imaginary move, though there was no opponent on the other side of the table, and all the pieces were in their rightful place.

His mood rubbed off on me, and soon we were both sulking around and trying our best not to snap at each other.

Eventually he must have gotten tired of my bad disposition, because on the third night he suddenly gave me a curious look before leaving for patrol.

“You’re up for an adventure?” he asked. I nodded right away, ready to go anywhere in order to get away from the grey prison-like walls of the compound.

“If you come with me, you have to do everything I say,” he stated seriously, while watching my face for any sign of trouble. I nodded obediently.

“That includes potentially having to use your power. Are you willing to do that?” Now my curiosity was heightened. He told me patrolling wasn’t all that interesting. Why would I need to use my gift?

“I am,” I answered, ready to find out what he had in store.

“Let’s go.”

I followed him through the long hallways and into the dark and crisp night outside. There was a quiet rain gently falling from the gloomy sky.

“You’re taking me on patrol with you?” I asked.

“No, I’m taking you on a little side mission,” he replied.

“A side mission?” I asked, my curiosity at an all-time high.

“You do what I say, got it?” he said, suddenly stopping and making me bump into him. Before I answered he rolled his eyes. “You are the clumsiest vampire I know,” he bemoaned. “I shudder to think what you’d be like as a human.”

“Good thing we’ll never have to know,” I replied, and he nodded in agreement.

We made our way down into the garage where the lights of a slick black car blinked in the darkness.

“When did you get a BMW?” I asked, regarding him curiously. He didn’t seem like someone that cared about fancy things.

“I didn’t. Just don’t tell Maratoni we borrowed his. Doubt he’ll approve,” he said with an unusual twinkle in his eye. I smiled. I enjoyed this more dangerous side of Demetrius.

We sped in total silence for a good while, letting the fields outside pass us in a blur. Unlike Ciprian, Demetrius seemed to enjoy driving in the quiet—without any radio, music, or noise. I chose to stay quiet as well, as I didn’t want to get into any bad-tempered conversations. We could just sit next to each other in peace for a while, momentarily putting aside the fact that a vampire war was brewing right next to us.

After a while we hit a small road in the woods, making the car bounce at uncomfortable angles, until we finally pulled up to a chain link fence that surrounded a very large number of joined buildings.

“Put this on,” he said, suddenly handing me a grey worker’s uniform from the back seat.

“Ahh—” I uttered, confused.

“If you want to come with me, that’s what you have to wear.”

“Okay,” I replied and followed his directions without anymore questions.

“Let’s go,” he said, quickly getting out after he put the uniform over his own clothes. I followed him along the fence till suddenly he stopped. He put his hands on the metal and made a big enough hole for one person to fit through.

“I didn’t realize our mission involved breaking into places,” I commented, wondering where the hell we were going.

“You gettin’ cold feet?” he teased.

“No, I just wish you told me what we’re doing.”

“You’ll see,” he replied. We snuck along the interior of the fence then turned towards a metal door in the back. Demetrius pulled out a key card and swiped it.

Inside was a short fluorescent-lit corridor which split into two directions. I followed right behind Demetrius. It was a government building of some sort, I assumed. Suddenly it dawned on me.

“We’re at the Protection League quarters,” I whispered in terror.

“We are,” he confirmed, not looking at me.

“This seems like…a deviation from the ‘keep Dani safe’ plan, no?” I questioned.

“Not tonight,” he replied calmly. “Tonight, this just might be one of the safest places for you to be,” he stated. I raised my eyebrows.

“How so?”

“Well, a good portion of the League is out searching Baritone at the moment, while another unit is going through Graham’s estate, while yet another two are searching through the Valentini Academy and your house.”

“My house?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, your house is Alaska,” he clarified with a tiny smile playing in the corner of his lips, as if he found the idea of me having a house amusing.

“Oh, right,” I said, suddenly remembering I had a one. It was almost embarrassing—it’s not like I did anything to deserve it.

“But that still doesn’t explain—what exactly are we doing?” I asked.

“We’re getting our dog back,” he said, his eyes carefully looking over the building map embedded on the wall.

“Neo’s here?”

“As far as my research shows, yes.”

“How come…I didn’t really think you cared when I told you,” I said, suddenly feeling a wave of emotion come over me.

“When you’re the master of something, you become responsible for it. We’re responsible for him now—can’t leave him here.”

“We? Technically you’re his master.”

“You’re the one that saved him first. He’s yours just as much as mine. He’s ours.”

“Like…our baby?” I teased and chuckled at the horrified expression on his face. “I’m kidding, relax.”

Suddenly there were footsteps echoing in the hallway, followed by two League officers coming from around the corner. I froze, looking at Demetrius to see how we were going to get out of this.

“What are you doing?” one of them asked, checking out our uniforms from afar and slightly raising his gun.

“We’re tech. Here to fix the cameras in the breakroom,” Demetrius replied, pointing to the badge on his uniform. The officer nodded and lowered his gun.

“You’re supposed to check in at the front.”

“We did, we’re a little lost. Which way is the breakroom? I think we passed it.”

The officer sighed with annoyance.

“Go ahead,” he stated, “It’s all the way down and to the right.”

“Thanks,” Demetrius replied, and we quickly walked away from the two vampires.

“Close call,” I said in a whisper.

“We have to get to the vet center. If he’s alive, that’s where he’ll be held.”

“Where’s that?”

“Here,” he said, pointing to a hallway on the left. We made our way down as quickly and quietly as possible. The place did seem rather empty, so Demetrius’ intel about the officers being out seemed spot on.

Finally, he stopped in front of a door and once again I bumped into him. He just gave me a pointed look but chose not to comment.

He attempted to pull the door, but it was locked.

“Will the key card work?” I asked.

“Let’s see,” he replied, pulling it out of his pocket. He put it against the pad on the door and we heard a distinct unlocking sound.

We quickly got in and closed the door behind us, then walked towards the back room.

The giant black dog was sitting in the last cage—his head down. At the sight of him alive I felt an immense wave of relief.

“Neo, hey boy,” I said, rushing towards the cage. His head snapped up and then his entire body jumped up against the cage bars, rattling them.

“Let’s get you out of here buddy,” I said, unlocking the cage. He jumped up on top of me and smothered me in wet licks.

“Alright, we gotta go,” I heard Demetrius say from behind me, but his voice sounded happier than usual.

Before we could move Neo jumped on him as well, and I nearly fell over laughing as the big dog licked on the Russian’s neck.

“Okay, alright. Get down,” he commanded, and Neo obediently listened to his master.

We almost made our way out of the building when another League officer appeared out of nowhere.

“Who are you?” he said, and his tone was much less pleasant than that of the previous two. He also didn’t buy Demetrius’ lie about a tech issue. “We don’t have a tech issue in the break room,” he replied. That was the moment where everything would end, I thought.

The other vampire’s finger slowly meandered over to the top of his gun. We’d be taken into custody by Deadnus’ men and she would lock me up, or worse yet kill me. God knows what she’d do to Demetrius.

“Who are you and what are you really here for?” he asked.

“I told you who we are,” Demetrius answered. “Now move your hand away from that gun.” The Protection League officer didn’t want to hear it. His fingers grasped onto the weapon and pulled it out of the holster with lightning speed.

“Get down on the floor, both of you!” he yelled. Yet again I froze, not knowing what to do. However, instead of appearing to be scared, Demetrius looked annoyed.

“I told you not to take out the gun,” he said, almost as if to himself. In the moment that I thought I’d be catching another round of bullets to my body, something entirely different happened. I heard an earth-shattering scream, followed by the protection League officer folding down to his knees like a blow-up toy.

I looked at Demetrius, whose gaze could kill on sight.

“That scream just alerted every officer in this building that something is wrong,” I whispered, and the realization spread on his face like wildfire, as doors in the hallways around us started to pop open.

“Let’s go!” he yelled, and we began running for the exit.

When I looked back, there were at least seven League officers aiming their guns straight at us, and suddenly everything seemed to move in slow motion.

Bullets—a lot of them—in the air, heading straight at us as the vampires chased us through the hallway.

If we got hit, Demetrius and I would probably survive—though it would be an unpleasant experience that would render us incapable of defending ourselves until we healed.

If Neo got hit, he would most likely die.

I couldn’t let that happen. Not after everything we’d just been through. There was something stirring within me. And then a glowing light appeared in front of us, as big as a wall, and suddenly the vampires on the other side were blurry, and their bullets bounced off the transparent shield like pebbles.

Neo was safe, however every second the shield was up, I felt weaker and weaker, until there was something dripping down my nose.

“Dani!” I heard Demetrius yell, and his voice sounded far away, even though he was near me. And then I heard a litany of screams on the other end—the most unpleasant concerto of pure pain—courtesy of Demetrius. Until one by one, they all fell on the floor. When the other part of the hallway looked like the losing side of a post-war battleground, I dropped the shield. And then it all went black.

 

***

 

I woke up to a wet sensation on my face. Neo’s tongue was trying to revive me. I put my arm on his neck.

“It’s okay, I’m awake,” I grumbled. I grasped around with my hand feeling leather underneath. Then I slowly opened my eyes. We were back in the car.

“Are you okay?” Demetrius asked, his face looked concerned.

“Fine, just completely exhausted,” I replied. My body felt like it had been through countless hours of work and no sleep.

“Dani, I am so sorry. That was a really stupid idea. I just—” he began, but I shut him up by throwing my hands around his neck and hugging him weakly.

“This is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me. You have nothing to apologize for,” I said into his neck, noting how pleasant he smelled. Like a mixture of fresh air after the rain and smoky firewood.

He seemed to freeze but didn’t push me away. I let go after a while. Suddenly, I realized we were in the Carandini garage.

“I can’t take you back to Maratoni’s,” he explained when he noticed my look.

“Why?”

“Those officers saw my face. Some of them must know what we both look like, and now they know you were with me. They’ll be going back to search the compound.”

“Well, what are we going to do?” I asked, finally realizing the gravity of the situation.

“You’ll go stay with Vincent for now. If anyone from the League comes around, hide in the underground tunnels.”

“Where are you going to go?”

“I have to let Maratoni know what happened, and we’ll figure it out from there,” he stated, looking grim. I felt bad that all this was caused by me, but I had no regrets about getting Neo back.

“It seems dangerous for you to go back there,” I started but he stopped me.

“I’ll be fine,” he replied.

“Well, good thing about our gifts, right? They saved us tonight,” I stated, shuddering at the thought of what would have happened otherwise.

However, Demetrius didn’t seem to share my point of view.

“It’s not a gift, Dani. It’s a curse,” he said bitterly. “I have to go now.” I nodded, wishing I could ask him more, but knowing there was no time.

“Thank you again,” I said, getting out, and then taking Neo out of the back seat. Demetrius gave me one last look, then drove away in silence.

 

***

Back at the Carandini residence, I requested to speak with Vincent and Ciprian together. However, Vincent was momentarily preoccupied on the phone, which left me stuck in the dining room with his somewhat unhinged uncle.

As always, he seemed to be in a chipper mood. It was rare to see such an obvious villain be so jolly all the time. And then I wondered what it could have been about the man that provoked Graham so much, and made the calm attorney hate him with such passion.

“You brought a pet. That’s adorable,” Ciprian quipped, glancing at Neo.

“Who’s Vincent talking to?” I asked.

“I imagine he’s getting an earful about the pile of shit your little stunt just brought upon all of us,” he said in a nonchalant tone of voice. I froze, so Maratoni heard already. I wondered just how bad things would get.

“I had to save him. He didn’t deserve to be executed,” I said, helplessly trying to explain myself.

“I’m not the one who’s mad, kid,” he replied in his jovial tone. “I’m glad you actually did something other than looking around like a little damsel in distress waiting to be rescued. Although, that look does suit you…I have to say,” he teased.

“But now I got us all in trouble,” I stated, sitting down and trying to figure out how to make the situation better.

“You want to know something funny?” Ciprian asked rhetorically, not waiting for me to answer. “Greatness loves to live in contradictions.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, look at our family, for example. The Carandini line. We are blessed and cursed at the same time. Can’t be one without the other,” he said, scratching Neo behind the ears.

“You sure you didn’t bring the cursed part upon yourself?” I asked. He turned his eyes back to me. “Seems like an easy out to say all the bad that’s happened is because of some curse. Maybe you’d feel better if you actually took some responsibility.”

“Now you sound like my dear departed brother. Responsibility this, responsibility that. Is there a more boring word? Taking responsibility is for those still pretending to be good men. I gave that up a long time ago.”

“So, there was a time when you were less…carefree?” I wanted to say murderous, but I figured that choice of verbiage might offend him.

He smiled. “I know it’s a difficult concept for you to understand. You were raised by probably the most idealistic vampire that ever walked the goddamn universe. And I’m sure to you—as to many others—he appeared to be no less than the fucking sun and moon put together, with all his grand visionary ideas, endless knowledge, and the patience of a saint.” The way he spoke of Vinicius almost made me nervous. The picture he painted was too vivid—and suddenly I questioned how close he’d actually been with my Mentor.

He went on. “But goodness among men is an illusion. All men are bad. Some are just worse than others.”

“Vinicius was a good man,” I replied.

“And look what it got him,” before I could respond, the door opened, and Vincent walked in. His face was a mask of fury.

“So you got Neo back. Was it worth it?” he commented, not messing around with niceties. He went on, “I didn’t know Demetrius has such a soft spot for animals,” he said in a sarcastic tone which made Ciprian smile.

“He doesn’t,” the uncle replied, making both me and his nephew look at him. “It seems the Russian enigma has a soft spot for someone else though.” I rolled my eyes at the implication.

“He was being a good friend. He knows how much I care for Neo,” I said. Vincent didn’t look pleased.

“He’s not there to be your friend, he’s supposed to protect you! No offense Dani, but a ‘rescue Neo’ mission wasn’t on his to-do list of priorities.”

I felt myself get instantly heated.

“Yes, God forbid someone do something outside of the grand master plan that doesn’t serve your interests,” I scolded him, and he looked offended. Meanwhile Ciprian appeared to enjoy the exchange, gleefully glancing between the two of us as if he was watching a tennis match.

“Trouble in paradise,” he commented. “Now, now. We don’t have time for bickering. Especially seeing as dear golden child here just took a shit all over our timeline of events. So, let’s get down to business. I want to know where Dani boy stands,” he said in an authoritative tone of voice, losing the smile.

Both Vincent and I sat down at the table—him next to his uncle, and me across from them.

There was no more time or space for indecision anymore. This was it. I looked at Vincent.

“I need to hear your strategy. I need facts…numbers. I have to know how many casualties we’re potentially looking at—both vampire and human. I want your plan of action in detail before I give you an answer,” I said.

Vincent listened carefully meanwhile Ciprian seemed tickled by my question.

“Well shit… blondie is finally growing up,” he stated. “He breaks into the Protection League headquarters and now he wants to know the plan of action. Did your balls drop tonight or something kid?” he asked, the irritating smile making a return to his face. Vincent looked tired and annoyed.

“Is the conflict with the State going to take months – years to resolve?” I asked.

“Years? No, we’ve waited long enough, kid,” Ciprian answered.

“Well, you can’t win a war overnight,” I replied, trying to read both their faces. Vincent glanced at his uncle, who regarded me with amusement. He then turned his eyes back to me.

“What do you know about chess?” Vincent asked.

“Not much,” I replied honestly, thinking back to the chess set on Demetrius’ table.

“Do you know what the Danish Gambit is?” the handsome vampire asked me, and by the wide smile and merry glint in his uncle’s eyes, I just knew that it wasn’t anything good.

Copyright © 2021 C. Henderson; All Rights Reserved.
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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter Comments

It appears that the goal is to win at all costs regardless of the sacrifice. At present, it appears that Dani and the other Specials may be the useful pawns. Will they recognize the gambit? 

The gifts appear to be a blessing and curse to the users. In the case of Demetrius, his gift achieves it goal, but he suffers nonetheless (insomnia, foul mood, etc…). There is a price to pay for its use. 

It appears that the idea of being human is a theme that repeats itself as if given a choice, Demetrius would want to be “reborn.”

Edited by J.El
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I am beginning to like Ciprian.  He seems to be a rogue on a mission to reclaim his heritage.  He is intelligent and focused on success. However, I think he is not so ambitious to want the crown.  He enjoys the prestige and freedom from responsibility too much to want to be saddled by the position.  He impresses me as more of a power behind the throne.  He wants a say, but not the work. 

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7 hours ago, drpaladin said:

The Danish Gambit involves the intentional sacrifice of pawns to achieve an offensive advantage. Who are going to be the pawns in this real life chess match?

Yes indeed, and very good question 😬

7 hours ago, drpaladin said:

I'm glad Dani got Neo back, but Demetrius' plan was foolhardy and exposed him as aiding Dani. No wonder Vincent is furious.

I agree, it wasn't exactly the smartest plan. At the same time...Dani did learn a bit more about his own capabilities because of it. And Demetrius proved once again that he has a kind enough heart by putting his life at risk for a dog.

7 hours ago, drpaladin said:

As I've said before, Dani only has one viable choice. He has to at least play along with the Carandini's and try for the best result.

It does seem like it, you're right.

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5 hours ago, J.El said:

It appears that the goal is to win at all costs regardless of the sacrifice. At present, it appears that Dani and the other Specials may be the useful pawns. Will they recognize the gambit? 

The gifts appear to be a blessing and curse to the users. In the case of Demetrius, his gift achieves it goal, but he suffers nonetheless (insomnia, foul mood, etc…). There is a price to pay for its use. 

It appears that the idea of being human is a theme that repeats itself as if given a choice, Demetrius would want to be “reborn.”

Mmm very interesting! You're right, I think from what we've seen Demetrius is the one who's certainly not afraid of the idea of "rebirth" though he doesn't believe that such a thing exists since Vinicius is dead.

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5 hours ago, raven1 said:

I am beginning to like Ciprian.  He seems to be a rogue on a mission to reclaim his heritage.  He is intelligent and focused on success. However, I think he is not so ambitious to want the crown.  He enjoys the prestige and freedom from responsibility too much to want to be saddled by the position.  He impresses me as more of a power behind the throne.  He wants a say, but not the work. 

Unlike Arani Deadnus, Ciprian does have a few likable qualities 😁

And you're right, it doesn't seem like he'd enjoy all the responsibility of being a king, but he does like pulling the strings from behind-the-scenes.

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The Danish gambit is relic, being that black can easily defend against it, and in some cases take the pawns for no cost. However in chess both opponents know they are playing, so in real life it may be an option. But, who are the pawns that are to be sacrificed? I'm not sure Dani is going to be in for a plan that simply throws lives away in the name vengeance. 

I liked this chapter and the plot development. I also like Dani's character progression. 

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12 minutes ago, Aaron728 said:

But, who are the pawns that are to be sacrificed? I'm not sure Dani is going to be in for a plan that simply throws lives away in the name vengeance. 

Yep, I have a feeling you may be right. 

12 minutes ago, Aaron728 said:

I liked this chapter and the plot development. I also like Dani's character progression. 

Thank you!

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Yay, Demetrius and Dani finally got a chance to bond outside of controlled environments; and saved Neo in the meantime, even allowing Demetrius to share a smile in Dani’s glee. They also demonstrated to others that they are free thinkers that have priorities beyond being mindless followers.

I have no idea how Maratoni could ever expect to have a working relationship with any of the Specials when he obviously can’t relate with anyone he believes below him; even he knows and admits to failing but only blames them.

Vincent is stressed, and so too is his relationship with Dani; promises to explain more have fallen short and time is running out as too many variables are already in play. Perhaps the farm is too simplistic, but maybe Dani should be heard for other options; and winning a consensus in support.

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10 minutes ago, Philippe said:

Yay, Demetrius and Dani finally got a chance to bond outside of controlled environments; and saved Neo in the meantime, even allowing Demetrius to share a smile in Dani’s glee. They also demonstrated to others that they are free thinkers that have priorities beyond being mindless followers.

True, and that they can work quite well together in the face of danger.

Edited by C. Henderson
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5 hours ago, C. Henderson said:

Mmm very interesting! You're right, I think from what we've seen Demetrius is the one who's certainly not afraid of the idea of "rebirth" though he doesn't believe that such a thing exists since Vinicius is dead.

… or is he dead?

Edited by J.El
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This is fantastic, like reading a description of a chess game (and I mean that as a compliment!).

 

Going out on a limb here... the breaking of ancient bonds, revolution against elder Vampires - does the word Viniculum mean to you what it does to me? Lovely touch if it does!

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[ “Good thing we’ll never have to know,” I replied, and he nodded in agreement. ] Famous last words.

A Danish gambit... well... so apparently NO ONE in power is competent. One reason a Danish gambit works in chess is that everyone has finite forces and those forces follow explicit rules. Neither is the case in real life. PLANNING to sacrifice ANYTHING in the wake of such uncertainly? Is beyond foolish. It's simply stupid.

Outside of the fact that you can't really know how useful a "pawn" might be in real life? You can't know that sacrificing them will even get you anything! After a conflict has started and people have revealed their hands, maybe. But that's not the case yet, so they have no idea whether their plan has any CHANCE of working.

And Ciprian continues to showcase why he just needs to die. He says everyone is evil. And he's not wrong, that everyone has the potential for evil. But he is oversimplifying the opposite direction. And worse, he's not doing it in some overarching metaphysical sense. He's doing it to self justify selfish behavior. He is the lowest of the low. And I don't know why anyone thinks he has likable qualities. He is, hands down, the most deplorable character so far.

Yes. More deplorable than Arani Deadnus. At least Arani Deadnus has some kind of code. Some reason outside of herself for doing what she's doing. Mind you, I also think Arani Deadnus needs to die, but Ciprian is nothing but trash.

I should point out that. I'm speaking of Ciprian the person. Ciprian the character? Is actually quite enjoyable. Sometimes you just want a villain who is just that. No need for tragic explanations or anything like that. Sometimes you just want that asshole whose purpose is to be as dickish as possible until they go out in a blaze of deserved glory! (Or win in an equally epic tornado of darkness). Ciprian? Is that villain in this story.

In any event? Dani really doesn't have a choice right now. It's not even that the Carandinis are his safest options. He's made a serious of stupid decisions and put himself in a position where his options are: Join the Canadinis, fight and kill all the Carandinis right now (something he could PROBABLY do, but likely he'd kill himself in the process) or die. Because, lets face it? Ciprian is using Vincent. I don't believe for a second that Vincent could actually stop Ciprian from killing Dani if he actually tried to.

I am curious to see what happens now? Because if there isn't a plot twist? This is going to be a very predictable story about a foolish idiot who was manipulated by slightly less foolish idiots into a position that destroys their entire society. But I'll finish reading it regardless. Since I'm pretty convinced any actual war would be the sort that no one wins. Neither the Carandinis NOR the state can realistically win anything, as by the time the dust settled? There'd be nothing LEFT to rule/lead, rendering the entire conflict pointless.

Though.. that said? There's little evidence that the leaders of the two sides of the conflict even care. Arani Deadnus may have a code? But ultimately, she seems to care more about destroying the Carandinis than safeguarding the status quo. And similarly, I think Vincent IS fully willing to burn the world to avenge his family, without a care as to whether there'd be anything LEFT to rule in his wake.

Edited by Nightlit
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6 hours ago, AlreadyForgiven said:

This is fantastic, like reading a description of a chess game (and I mean that as a compliment!).

 

Going out on a limb here... the breaking of ancient bonds, revolution against elder Vampires - does the word Viniculum mean to you what it does to me? Lovely touch if it does!

Thank you, I appreciate the feedback.

And actually, never heard of it until now. I looked it up just now and will have to read up as it sounds fascinating! 

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Poetic words, my friend. I appreciate the time it took you to write this 🙏🏼 

Famous last words had me cackling. 

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And Ciprian continues to showcase why he just needs to die.

🤣 💀

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He is the lowest of the low. And I don't know why anyone thinks he has likable qualities. He is, hands down, the most deplorable character so far.

Hmm, I can think of a couple reasons. Villains aren't always dislikable, like you said. Unlike Maratoni or Deadnus, Ciprian has the natural Carandini charisma and a dark sense of humor that make him a lot more tolerable to be around.

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Yes. More deplorable than Arani Deadnus. At least Arani Deadnus has some kind of code. Some reason outside of herself for doing what she's doing. Mind you, I also think Arani Deadnus needs to die, but Ciprian is nothing but trash.

 I have a feeling this will be a disputed point... lol. Deadnus was ready to kill a dog out of spite. C'mon.

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In any event? Dani really doesn't have a choice right now. It's not even that the Carandinis are his safest options. He's made a serious of stupid decisions and put himself in a position where his options are: Join the Canadinis, fight and kill all the Carandinis right now (something he could PROBABLY do, but likely he'd kill himself in the process) or die. Because, lets face it? Ciprian is using Vincent. I don't believe for a second that Vincent could actually stop Ciprian from killing Dani if he actually tried to.

That's what it seems like, you're right.

Quote

I am curious to see what happens now? Because if there isn't a plot twist? This is going to be a very predictable story about a foolish idiot who was manipulated by slightly less foolish idiots into a position that destroys their entire society. But I'll finish reading it regardless. Since I'm pretty convinced any actual war would be the sort that no one wins. Neither the Carandinis NOR the state can realistically win anything, as by the time the dust settled? There'd be nothing LEFT to rule/lead, rendering the entire conflict pointless.

Wouldn't be much of a fun ending if the entire society was destroyed 😬

Quote

Though.. that said? There's little evidence that the leaders of the two sides of the conflict even care. Arani Deadnus may have a code? But ultimately, she seems to care more about destroying the Carandinis than safeguarding the status quo. And similarly, I think Vincent IS fully willing to burn the world to avenge his family, without a care as to whether there'd be anything LEFT to rule in his wake.

You're right, they certainly don't seem to care. I guess we'll have to see how far Vincent is willing to go for revenge.  

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9 minutes ago, C. Henderson said:

I have a feeling this will be a disputed point... lol. Deadnus was ready to kill a dog out of spite. C'mon.

Spite is at least a motivation. I'm sure Ciprian has killed for no reason at all than that he felt like it (which, I suppose, is technically a motivation, but I digress). Which means Ciprian still wins the asshole award.

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I suspect that Ciprian is uneasy around Dani less so the other Specials perhaps related to Dahlia. He likely sees Dahlia in Dani and may suspect that this dangerous weapon may at some point exact “revenge” on those that despised or undermined her. Dani’s sudden confidence while needed may not sit too well with Ciprian and others as it is apparent that they have little control over him and the others.

I can only imagine what the 18th birthday will unleash for Dani. The other Specials will reach 18 as well, so despite failing the trials, it will be interesting to see what happens to them as well.

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