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    Justin4Fun
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This is Book 2 of the "New Reality" Series; reading 'Re-Birth', Book 1, is highly recommended.

Re-Forging - 12. Chapter 12

The first doctor, who I finally learned was Dr. Selby, explained that they were keeping Dad in a medically induced coma for the next twenty-four to thirty-six hours to help with the swelling in his brain. They would know more once they woke him, but all their brain scans looked good, and they felt he should fully recover, though it would take quite some time. After receiving this relatively good news, I decided it would do none of us any good to simply sit in the hospital. The doctors would call me if there were any changes, and until they woke him, there was nothing to do but wait.

As we headed for the elevator, Tommy called the driver, and when we emerged from the main entrance, he was sitting by the curb waiting for us. Once we were in the Suburban and on our way to Prince George’s estate, Tommy introduced us to our driver, Frederick. He was George’s adjutant and as such, Tommy’s old boss.

After driving past the UCLA School of Law, we turned onto the famous Sunset Boulevard and followed it for about half a mile before we wound our way up side streets and finally drove through a gated driveway to park in front of a massive neoclassical mansion that, to my eye, looked exactly like the White House. When I asked Tommy and Frederick about it, they said it was not for them to say. Leonard stepped up and opened my door as we stopped under the portico.

“Forgive me, My Lord, but His Highness requests your presence in the prince’s library.”

I looked down at my tee shirt and shorts and bit my lip. “Do we have time to change our clothes?”

Leonard looked uncomfortable as he said, “He didn’t ask for Their Lordships, My Lord, just you. He is wearing something similar to your clothing, so you shouldn’t be concerned.”

I looked at Billy, then Scott, then turned back to Leonard. “His Highness can ask them to leave if he likes, but considering the day I’ve had, I will have my Steward and my mate at my side.”

James cleared his throat and, when I looked his way, said, “I wouldn’t advise rocking the proverbial boat, Gr…, er, My Lord. Prince George is the most powerful vampire in North America and is considered by most to be the leader of the Council.”

Somehow, I knew I needed to stand my ground, not only with the prince but with James as well. “Thank you for your unsolicited opinion, Baronet Warnick.” I turned back to Leonard, saying, “Lead on, Marshal, the prince is waiting.”

Neither James nor Leonard seemed offended by my curt reply. Leonard turned and led us through a massive entrance hall, then off to our right down the hall and past a doorway before stopping at the next door on our left. After a single, gentle knock, he opened the door and led us inside, where a short, slim young man with olive skin, dark curly hair, and a dark goatee stood beside a desk. He turned to watch us as we entered.

After politely clearing his throat, Leonard announced, “Your Highness, may I present Baron Gregory Fowler, Baron Consort Scott Warnick, and Lord Steward William White. Your Lordships, I am honored to present His Highness Prince George Hampton, Prince of North America.” Introductions complete; Leonard backed through the door, pulling it shut as he left.

Each of us bowed from the neck as our name was announced, except for, of course, Prince George. He examined Billy, then Scott; finally, his gaze landed on me. I held his gaze until he finally spoke. “Baron Fowler, welcome to my home.”

“Thank you, Prince Hampton. We greatly appreciate your quick response to our travel needs, and we are honored to have you host us in your home. I hope we are not causing any issues?”

“I am accustomed to hosting our nobles and their retinues, Baron. Your party is small compared to what some of the Viscounts think they are entitled to bring.” His glance quickly took in Billy and Scott; then his eyes narrowed as his gaze returned to me. “Speaking of bringing more than expected, I was quite surprised to see your Lord Steward and Consort joining us after I summoned you.”

“I hope you will forgive me for evaluating the situation and making a decision, Your Highness.” His continued stare and silence told me he expected more information. “The late hour and, more importantly, the casual dress indicated that this was a social call, Sir. Considering the reason for my trip, I assumed you would not deny me the company of those I depend upon for emotional support. If I erred, I take full responsibility.”

George didn’t reply; he simply continued to stare at me. I could sense Scott and Billy standing as firm behind me as the moment we walked in. My father had taught me to play poker years ago, and the key to winning a face off was simple; the first one to speak was usually the one to fold. I knew I could hold my silence for hours; the impasse lasted only five minutes.

“Frederick,” Prince George said in a slightly louder tone than he had been using. “Bring James Warnick to my library, tell Thomas and Leonard to standby in the entry hall, and send someone upstairs to confirm that the humans are indeed asleep.”

I couldn’t judge the distance, but I heard Frederick’s reply. “Yes, Your Highness.”

A moment later, Frederick knocked and led James into the library. “Baronet James Warnick, as requested, Your Highness. Thomas and Leonard are in the entrance hall, and the humans are sleeping soundly in their rooms.

The prince gave a curt nod, then said, “Remain with us, Frederick. I’ll need you in on this later.”

Frederick gave a slight bow and stepped around the desk to stand behind Prince George, who looked at James and said, “Damnit, James, you told me he was exceptional, but even expecting it, I’m quite impressed.”

James broke into a grin and took a seat in an overstuffed leather chair. “I told you, George, the fates made no mistake; the boy’s a born leader. Did he actually argue with you? I couldn’t quite hear; your household staff was getting set up for breakfast.”

The prince’s body completely relaxed, and he laughed. “He didn’t argue, James; he artfully stated his well-considered position that was in direct conflict with my request. Then he had the nerve to take responsibility for his actions.” He turned to the three of us and said, “For gods’ sake, Greg, pick a chair and sit.” Turning back to the door, he said, “Thomas, I assume you know what these boys prefer; bring them some blood.”

Scott, Billy, and I hadn’t moved a muscle; I think they were as confused as I was. I finally found my voice. “Excuse me, Your Highness, but—” As realization washed over me, I was filled with anger. My beast was screaming things that I won’t relate, but I was tempted to listen to his advice. In order to keep my control, I needed to allow him to rage; I wasn’t surprised by what happened next.

I turned my glare on Prince George and roared. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I heard the windows rattle as I roared again. “My father is fighting for his life, and you put me through some kind of fitness test?”

My eyes hadn’t left the prince, but I could sense that Scott and Billy were standing behind me, either in vampire form or their beasts just under the surface. Prince George’s eyes never left mine. I thought I saw a split second of shock when I roared the second time. Behind him, Frederick was standing, coolly ready to defend his prince. My beast didn’t back down; my beast wouldn’t back down.

As our standoff continued, I began to wonder if it would come to bloodshed. Before my beast could act, the prince shifted into his vampire form and stared into my eyes with his royal-blue eyes fiercely glowing. The prince spoke at the same moment that my beast spoke in my mind:

Prince George: “De-escalate this, Greg. Let me explain.”

My beast: ‘Another time. We’re not ready yet.’

His eyes never left mine as he slowly shifted back to human, seemingly sensing my own beast retreating to its place in my mind at the same time. We continued staring at each other for a few minutes, mutually ensuring that the other was not a threat. It was obvious to everyone that our standoff was ending; when that moment came, Billy, Scott, and Frederick all relaxed. In a show of trust, I took my eyes off the prince and looked at Scott and Billy standing steadfastly behind me. They both gave me a slight nod as if to say, ‘Anything you need.’

Tommy and Leonard knocked and came in carrying three mugs of warm blood. From how he carried it, I knew Tommy had Billy’s sheep’s blood. Of all the things to make me grin, that did it. I was still grinning when I turned back to look at Prince George. I took three steps and sat in the loveseat closest to James. I could sense Scott and Billy shadowing me and reached out to pull Scott down to sit at my side while Billy stood behind us. No one failed to notice when Tommy and Leonard stepped to stand on either side of Billy.

“Alright, Your Highness. You offered to explain. I’m listening.” I had tried to make my tone neutral, but even I could hear the harshness in my voice. I put extra effort into my smile, and it seemed to work.

The prince sat in a chair facing me across the low coffee table, set his drink down, and explained. “I’m not going to pull any punches, Greg. From what I’ve seen and heard, you prefer it that way. Yes, I did set you up, and no, no one else was in on it. I will have to ask them exactly when James and Frederick had it figured out later.” He raised his gaze to look over my head. “What about you two? When did you catch on?”

There was a pause, I assume as Tommy and Leonard exchanged glances, and then Leonard said, “When Baron Fowler basically told Baronet Warnick and me to shut up, Your Highness.”

The prince let out an exasperated sigh. “Leonard, you’ve been around me for two hundred years. When are you going to get it through your thick skull that there’s a time and place for all that ‘Your Highness’ bullshit, and this isn’t one of them.”

Another pause, “I will try harder, Your…er, George.”

I laughed and turned my head, “That goes for me too, Leonard. I’m Greg.”

The prince got my attention and added, “And does that also go for me, Baron?”

With a smirk, I said, “I suppose it does, George.”

I knew everything was fine when he smirked back. “As I was saying, Greg, yes, I set you up. The fates decided you’re a baron, but it falls to me to decide what to do with you, and I had to know what you’re made of.” I inhaled to reply, but he raised a finger. “And while I realize your emotions are all over the place right now, I had to use that to increase the pressure on you rather than coddle you and test you at a better time. The world doesn’t wait for a better time.”

Rather than reply, I paused and considered his situation. James was responsible for two thousand vampires; as a baron, I would be responsible for over twelve thousand vampires, but this man was responsible for three-quarters of a million vampires. He was right. He couldn’t put anyone in a position of responsibility without testing them, and that test had to be as realistic as possible. As I thought about it, I expected many more tests before I was done with this man.

I looked him in the eye and asked, “Did I pass?”

His grin told me all I needed, but he said, “I would give you any barony you want tonight. Does that answer your question?”

An evil thought crossed my mind, and I think he saw it. In answer to his raised eyebrow, I said, “If you mean that, then I know the barony I want.” He motioned for me to continue, so I did, “Unless you have a dire need, I want none. If I have a choice, I want to remain an unseated baron until I graduate from Harvard Law School.”

He stared at me for less than a second, then replied, “I have one condition.” Copying his action, I waved my hand. “You have my vow, Greg. I will not assign you a barony until you graduate, save dire circumstances. If something arises and I need to seat you, you will do as I say regarding taking that seat.”

I considered his words from every angle I could imagine, and they finally registered. I nodded. “I accept, Your Highness.”

George stood and said, “Even an unseated baron is still a baron and needs to have his Lord Steward sworn to his service.” Looking from me to Billy, he continued, “Are you ready to take your oath, William?”

Billy stepped forward and bowed from the neck. “I am, Your Highness, but would prefer something a bit more formal than my Penn State tee shirt.”

In the distance, I heard a bell ring just once. George smiled and stood, “Gentlemen, breakfast is served.”

“Billy, run up and get Chris and Jake, please,” I said over my shoulder.

“They’re already on their way down, Greg. I wouldn’t be much of a host if I didn’t account for all my guests, now, would I?” George said as he headed for the doorway.

We followed George to the dining room, where Chris and Jake waited patiently. Everyone waited while George loaded his plate from the buffet that was set up on the side table; then, to my surprise, they stood expectantly until I had loaded mine. George waved me to the seat on his right, and as the table filled, we all fell into a casual conversation that covered topics ranging from sports to summer jobs to hobbies to our dating lives. At first, Jake and Chris were somewhat reserved and very deferential to George; that changed when he called them on it like he had Leonard. Once he established that he was George to his friends, they relaxed and enjoyed their first meal with royalty.

The conversation eventually turned to the topic of our plans after high school. Jake shared his desire to apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point and spent a few minutes explaining what was involved in getting an appointment. I saw the wheels turning behind George’s eyes as he casually turned to ask Chris his plans. Chris and I explained how the three of us, Chris, Scott, and me, were going to apply to the same schools and hoped all three would be accepted to at least one. I know I saw more gears turning and even caught a slight grin. Chris, Jake, and I then told George about Brian wanting to go to Wharton and Josh wanting to go somewhere good to get a double degree in architecture and mechanical engineering. At this point, I noticed George looking slightly out of focus. I took this to mean he was talking mind-to-mind with someone.

When George stood, I realized that George had tactfully kept the conversation going to allow everyone to eat their fill. He explained that he and I had more business to discuss and suggested that Jake and Chris take advantage of this by going to the beach, sightseeing, or any other activity they desired. After a short discussion, Leonard took them to the beach for a morning of watching scantily clad girls and boys enjoying the sun and sand.

As we watched them leave, George gave Billy and me a look and suggested we shower and put on something a bit more appropriate. I had no idea what we were dressing up for, but Billy seemed nervous and excited. Scott and I shared a quick shower, shaved, and I started to pull on a pair of casual dress slacks when Scott took them from my hands and handed me my best suit. I sighed and pulled it on. While I buttoned up my shirt, Scott held up three ties and told me to change my eyes to green. When I did, he set two ties aside, wrapped the last around my neck, and started tying it.

“What gives?” I asked as he pulled it snug to my throat.

With an evil grin, he said, “It’s a surprise.”

Billy joined us, and the two of us heckled Scott as he dressed. As we left our room, we found Leonard and Tommy waiting in the hall wearing something I’d never seen either of them wearing. Black dress slacks with narrow red piping down the outside of the legs, a black double-breasted jacket with two rows of gold buttons and red and gold epaulets, a starched white shirt, a red silk cravat tied at his neck, and a hip-length black cape with a red liner. The black hat, I think I’ve heard it called a saucer cap, was trimmed in red and gold. Imagine a modern airline pilot’s hat.

I looked Tommy up and down, then raised an eyebrow. He shrugged and grinned, “It’s the uniform of Dracul, My Lord.”

I wasn’t allowed time to ask more questions; Scott and Billy ushered me downstairs, with Leonard and Tommy leading us. Rather than turning for the prince’s library, they led us to an oval-shaped room in the rear center of the house. George was standing there in a black tuxedo, red bowtie, and a floor-length black cape lined with red silk. The room was crowded with fifty or sixty vampires of all ages, sizes, and genders. Twelve men in Dracul uniforms stood at attention, creating an open path from the entrance to Prince George. I was beginning to understand what was happening, and I was beginning to get nervous.

As we entered, Frederick announced, “Baron Charles Gregory Fowler, Baron Consort David Scott Warnick, and Lord Steward William David White, to be invested unseated, Your Highness.”

Between some common sense and mind-to-mind guidance from Billy, I quickly put together what I needed to do. With Scott on my right side and Billy on my left, a step behind, we approached Prince George. Five steps from him, we knelt on one knee and bowed from the neck.

George nodded, and we stood. I took another step forward, dropped to one knee, bowed my head, and stated, “I, Charles Gregory Fowler, do solemnly swear my loyalty and fealty to Dracul: our veiled homeland and timeless realm. In service and honor, in counsel and deed, I vow to maintain a just course and to support the wellbeing of the realm. As the stars hold their courses and the rivers run to the sea, so shall my allegiance never waver. I place my destiny in the hands of the fates as they guide Dracul through eternity. In peace and conflict, I shall stand steadfastly by her side. By the sacred blood which supports all life, this is my solemn oath."

As I said the last word, George lifted a sword and tapped me on each shoulder, then said, “Rise, Charles Gregory Fowler, Baron of the Nation of Dracul.” I stood and Tommy and Leonard appeared at my side. They wrapped a belt and scabbard around my waist. George then handed me the sword he had just used. Once I slid it into the scabbard, I stepped back until I was in line with Scott. He then repeated my actions and when he returned to my side, I stepped forward and turned to stand with my back to Prince George. Billy stepped forward and knelt.

"I, William David White, do solemnly swear my unwavering loyalty to you, Charles Gregory Fowler. With body and soul, wisdom and strength, I pledge to serve you faithfully. In every endeavor, in every challenge, my allegiance shall not waver. May our bond be unbroken, our alliance steadfast, until the end of days. So say I, so shall it be."

Scott stepped up behind Billy and put a hand on each shoulder. As I tapped my sword on Billy’s shoulders, I said, "I, Charles Gregory Fowler, do solemnly accept the fealty of William David White. In granting you my trust, I vow to guide you with wisdom and to protect you with strength. May our destinies be intertwined, our fates forever bonded. Your loyalty shall be met with my leadership, your service with my stewardship, until the end of days. So say I, so shall it be."

When Billy stood, Scott and I put his belt and scabbard on him then Prince George presented him with his sword. The three of us returned to our first positions, facing the prince, bowed from the waist, and slowly backed out of the room.

The second we cleared the threshold, the small handful of observers erupted in cheers. We reentered the room and were soon having to drink toast after toast as each individual wanted to honor our new status. Fortunately, Scott had told me that we’re immune to the effects of drugs and alcohol, so the constant toasting wasn’t an issue. After an hour of having the sword hanging at my side, I realized that I no longer gave it a thought.

The toasts had been going on for over an hour when I felt a mind-to-mind connection attempting to open. I focused and opened it to find Prince George. ‘Meet me in my library. Bring only your mate.’

I quickly acknowledged and told Billy that Scott and I would return shortly. He gave me a questioning look but accepted it. Two minutes later, I knocked on the library door and entered.

“Relax, Greg. I just wanted to chat a bit, and that’s not possible with that crowd out there.”

I smiled, and we walked to the loveseat we had used earlier. George sat, and we followed his lead. George handed me a stack of envelopes, and I sat for a moment staring at them, confused. He waved a hand, telling me to open them. The first was an acceptance letter from Harvard, offering me freshman status in the upcoming fall semester or, at my choice, status to be determined based on work completed in next fall’s incoming class. There was a similar letter for Scott, with sophomore status this fall and the same conditional status for next year. Both envelopes also held a full scholarship for up to four years of undergraduate tuition.

There was another similar envelope from Harvard addressed to Chris, one from MIT addressed to Josh, and one from Wharton for Brian. Jake had an envelope from the Senator from West Virginia offering him his choice of an appointment to any of the service academies as well as letters from each, verifying his acceptance once he made his choice.

I looked at George, dumbstruck. I spent a full five minutes trying to find the words when he saved me by speaking. “Greg, you’ve entered a world so different from the one you were raised in, I’m certain you can’t even fathom those offers. For us, they’re nothing more than taking care of our own. Before you start your studies at Harvard, I’ll put you in touch with our liaison, and she will help you navigate the human education environment as a vampire. I will put you in touch with the same at Wharton to help Brian and the one at whichever school Jacob chooses.”

I finally found words. “I have mixed feelings about all of this, George. I’m humbled by the opportunity and your faith in me. At the same time, I feel I’m somehow taking something away from another student who might be more deserving of the opportunity.”

George let out a belly laugh. “Who do you think founded most of the colleges and universities in the world, Greg? Or formed the core of the US Military throughout their entire history? Played a quiet role guiding the founding fathers?”

I remembered what Tommy had said about this house. “You designed the White House, didn’t you?”

George rolled his eyes. “Hoban was a no-talent carpenter. I gave him all the drawings, convinced Washington to accept them, and oversaw the construction. When I came to California in the twenties, I doubled the footprint of the original. I’ll admit, I had nothing to do with the wings, but, as you see, I’ve adapted the concept to this house.”

I was starting to get used to odd things, and for some reason, sitting with the architect of the White House didn’t seem unusual. Suddenly, that fact seemed unusual. I laughed, looked down at the stack of envelopes in my hand, and realized what it meant. “Unless you disagree, I think it best we wait until next year. All of us suddenly leaving high school might create more questions than I’d like to deal with.” George nodded his agreement. “And all of this has me wondering, um, is there an assumption that my human friends will be changed?”

“Certainly not, Greg. Changing someone without consent or coercing them into changing is a capital offense. I’ve made these arrangements for your friends because it’s obvious to those I’ve spoken to that these humans will be key figures in your life for the next sixty years or so. If they choose to be changed, they’re welcome to take that risk. Actually, I should say that you’re welcome to do so. Just use some caution.”

“James implied that it doesn’t always work?” I asked.

“You’ve had quite a day, Greg. I’m happy to go into changing humans with you right now, but I think you have time to learn about it. If I were you, I’d join my friends on the beach for the rest of the day. Hell, I might join you myself.”

I looked at Scott to find him nodding, so I decided we should do just that. A few hours on the beach might take my mind off of the chaos of the last twenty-four hours. I contacted Billy and Tommy, mind-to-mind, and they met us upstairs while George went to the reception to diplomatically extricate himself. An hour later George, Scott, Billy, Tommy, Frederick and I were headed for the beach. As I felt the sand between my toes, I looked around at all the humans and laughed. I was certain that none of them imagined they were surrounded by vampires.

Copyright © 2023 Justin4Fun; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

49 minutes ago, raven1 said:

You have made some changes from the original, so whatever happens to Charlie will be a surprise.

Thank you for your constant encouragement, Raven. Like you say, I've made some changes. In fact, I don't know if this is even the same story. At this point, there is no guarantee that anything from the original will survive. Like my readers, I have to wait and see.

I'm enjoying the ride as much as the rest of you. 

All I will say is, hold on tight!!!

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20 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

Greg is finally beginning to realise how powerful he is.

Greg has no clue. In fact, no one does.

 

Season 1 Episode 22 GIF by Paramount+

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It is often better to be tested under stress; the reaction can be truer.  Prince George choose to do so because he understands that to be true.  But even he was impressed with how well Greg handled everything.  

Greg and his friends are set to begin their lives in service to each other, and yes, I do mean each other.  Greg may move into a leadership position, but he will serve those that he knows and protects as much as they will serve him.

Lovely little ceremony, and it made Billy happy.  

Can't wait for the next update.

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13 hours ago, raven1 said:

Although Charlie's fate has yet to be decided, this is an intense chapter with many new aspects of Greg's new world. Greg took a big risk in confronting Prince George, but in doing so, he won the respect of the prince.  The power of the vampire world is based on centuries of life during which they have gained both wealth and influence in the world of humans. Like @wenmale64, I'm also hanging on tight!  I look forward to seeing what happens to Charlie in the next chapter. You have made some changes from the original, so whatever happens to Charlie will be a surprise.

Couldn't say it any better, as Doris Day sang, Que sera, sera...who knows what's in your devious, oops...brilliant mind

 

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On 12/5/2023 at 5:33 AM, raven1 said:

You have made some changes from the original, so whatever happens to Charlie will be a surprise.

There is a lot of divergence.

On 12/5/2023 at 6:26 AM, Justin4Fun said:

In fact, I don't know if this is even the same story. At this point, there is no guarantee that anything from the original will survive.

It is and it isn't. By that I mean it is the same story but only in the broadest sense. This version is a lot better.

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