discussion of violence.
main characters: Heinrich, Darla
disclaimer: Heinrich (the Master) and Darla are both the creation of Joss Whedon for his series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Viktor and the Vampire-Lycan war belong to the movie Underworld.
distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, Paula, anyone else ask.
note: Set well before the series Buffy began.
Heinrich sat in his chair, a fire blazing in a pit below and to his right. The bones of a particularly annoying minion were even now blackened and cracked inside it, almost indistinguishable from the logs. He was considering the past, and the way that it would so often reach forward to strangle the future. He'd heard the rumors, that Lucian was dead. They were everywhere, whispered in every demon gathering, spreading through the darkness. Whispers that with Lucian’s demise, the Lycans would be weakened, scattered. Powerless.
There was a faint noise, the swish of velvet over stone. "Sire.”
"Darla. Come closer, my daughter." His lovely golden haired childe, a mingling of harlot, temptress, and naive child. He really didn't know how she'd managed not to learn some of the things that could be so important... He smiled at her, admiring the wine colored velvet gown, and the way it made her skin look like pearls.
She moved slowly, the obvious excuse being the length of her skirts, but part of it was from uncertainty. She was watching him from beneath her eyelashes, as if she wasn't certain what he would do. Her caution was understandable, and the fact that she managed to be careful without appearing disrespectful was a sign that she was indeed clever, and worthy of having eternity.
Gracefully, she sank into a curtsey, her skirts fanning around her like a graceful pool. She bowed her head, but the submissive pose did not conceal that fact that she was full of questions. "My Sire. I hear and obey."
Reaching out, he gestured for her to rise, and smiled faintly at her. She spent most of her time looking human, enjoying the way her pretty face made hunting easier. His face had never been much to look at even before, and he rarely even bothered now. "What questions are dancing in your head, Darla?"
"Sire, why do we avoid certain cities? We don't go into Orleans, or Geneva... there must be a reason." She looked uncertain, as if she feared the question would anger him.
"Ahhh. I was wondering how many of my children would notice that. Have you noticed any pattern to the cities that we avoid?" He smiled, thinking that Darla was one of his more clever children.
"All of them are large cities, places that would be filled with good hunting." She frowned, her fingers smoothing over the edges of her sleeves. "There are always... rumors of werewolves. A special sort, called Lycans, but I'm not certain what makes them any different."
"Yes, the Lycans. They are part of the reason why we don't go certain places. The rest... it traces back to the origin of our bloodline." He smiled, enjoying the chance to educate her. So few of his children wanted to learn the older histories.
"The origin of vampires? But... haven't there always been vampires?" She was frowning, the sort of expression that might cause a mortal woman to develop wrinkles.
He chuckled, amused that she had also noticed that. "Yes, there have always been vampires. Ever since humans first walked this earth, there have been those that hunted them for their blood. But not all vampires are the same. Not all bloodlines have the same abilities or weaknesses. Not all bloodlines have the same source."
"Different kinds of vampires? How does that connect to the Lycans?" Darla's voice was low, puzzled.
"Because the cities that we avoid are the strongholds of the Corvinian lines of vampires, whose origins are entwined with that of the Lycans. Lycans are not simply people who turn wolf like at the full moon, they are also immortal, much as we are. They trace back to two sons of Corvinus, one who started the Lycans, and the other the Corvinian vampires, some time in the fifth century. There were vampires before that, though they were not quite the same." He sighed, trying to frame his words carefully. "The Corvinians do not have minions, all of their number are as much as they began with, in that regard, and they do not bring in fools. A Corvinian stronghold will have perhaps fifty vampires, some of whom will be centuries old."
"Fifty! But so many... how do they remain undetected?" Darla gasped in surprise.
"By the use of near cowardly caution. Possibly it is an effort to hide from the Lycans, who hate them." He shook his head, not understanding the reluctance to embrace fully the darkness within them.
Darla tilted her head, careful ringlets spilling over her shoulder. "Why do they feud with the Lycan? Do the Lycan not know that we are not the same as they are?"
"I doubt that most of the Lycan would know that there are more than one type of vampire. Most vampires either do not know or refuse to acknowledge that truth, why should the wolves? No, the Lycans would not ask what your lineage is, they would simply kill you. And make no mistake, a shifted Lycan is more than a match for you, my dear. Some of them even learn to draw on the power of their wolf even without changing. It is too dangerous to prowl near the Lycans, and we would receive no aid from the Corvinian covens. They hide their natures behind a mask of humanity, they slake their thirst on the blood of beasts, and they would leave any outsider to the mercies of the city, the fangs of the Lycans, the ravages of the sun. They may be our cousins, but they are no allies." He shook his head, remembering the one time that he'd encountered a pair of Corvinian vampires. He'd been surprised by them, and their attitudes.
"Our cousins? I thought... didn't you say there were different bloodlines?" Darla frowned at him, trying to understand.
"Yes, our cousins. Aurelius, my Sire, the founder of our Clan, was the brother in blood to Viktor, one of the Elders of the Corvinian line.” He chuckled a bit at Darla’s half concealed surprise. “Yes, Aurelius was a Corvinian vampire, and this was long before the Lycans and the Vampires feuded. But Viktor despised the Lycans, viewed them as lesser beasts, unable and unwilling to learn the control over their instincts that allowed the Vampires to hide. This caused a gap to grow between the children of the wolf and the children of the bat, although not everyone observed that breech."
Heinrich paused, remembering the story as he'd heard it, as he'd seen it in his Sire's blood. "Viktor left the area, seeking to quell an argument between two powerful younger vampires, an argument that threatened to expose them all. While he was gone, one of the Lycans took a vampire as his mate. The vampire was one of Viktor's children, and his most beloved daughter. When he returned, it was too late to prevent the mating, and his wrath was... great and terrible. He had his daughter chained out for the sun, and had the Lycan bound in silver chains, forced to watch the death of his mate. Lucian took it very poorly, and in retaliation, the feud began."
Darla gasped, looking up at him in shock. "This whole feud is because a father objected to his daughter's lover? All this death and destruction over a thwarted whim?"
"Yes." His lips twisted into a thin smile at her simplification.
She shook her head, long fingers tapping at the floor thoughtfully. "I'd think it delightfully amusing if it didn't endanger us. How are we different from the Corvinians, then?"
"Aurelius left in disgust at Viktor's so called punishment. He did not support Viktor's stance, and had enough power that he was not forced to simply bow and go along with it. Some of the other vampires went with him. He then cast a powerful spell, seeking to make himself and those who followed him distinct from Viktor and the other Corvinians. Possibly he struck a bargain with an other dimensional power. But this spell changed him, and all those who had followed him, changing them from Corvinians to vampires as we are." The words seemed to echo in the cavern, the crackling fire preventing silence.
"So they are our cousins, then." Darla considered things for a moment before continuing. "Are we more powerful than they are?"
For a moment, Heinrich considered how to answer that. "Each one of us is physically stronger than a Corvinian. They are still bound to a shadow of life, and are trapped by some limits that we are not. But they are better at working together than we are. More of them can gather together without open feuding than we can. I do not think our family could defeat a Coven in direct conflict, but... They cower, hiding from their foes while we simply destroy ours. We dwell in the night for blood and battle, while they pursue politics. We are stronger, but they do pose a subtle danger."
"Who would we support, if the conflict found us?" Darla's whisper was soft, and perhaps he was not meant to hear it.
"Why support either one? Let them tear each other to shreds, and we can feast on them both."
Her giggle was slightly shocked, and a bit nervous. "Why indeed... if they are not our allies, then we owe them nothing."
"Not precisely nothing, my child. Caution is in order. They may not be our allies, but they are powerful enough to merit caution. It is best to simply wait at a distance. And when they grow too weak, they shall fall." He smiled at the thought. His Sire had always quarreled with Viktor, the idea of the other's fall would be amusing.
"I think I understand now, Father." Darla looked thoughtful. "I was thinking of taking a trip... perhaps on my own?"
One hand waved through the air, a casual gesture of permission. "Of course, my childe. You should be ready to face the world without me. But do not forget the bonds of blood."
"I could never forget." She looked at him, her eyes bright in the darkness.
"Good." He nodded. "Those of the blood should have long memories."