Cassandra smiled as she reappeared after talking to her family and friends about the truth she had hidden for so long and she was still feeling grateful they had accepted it and not rejected her, especially Vlad and her son who she had feared telling the most.
Now they were approaching the end road of their journey and Alexander faced his greatest challenge in facing Radrik. She still feared he would lose, but something told him he wouldn't. Not after all the battles he had been in and those who relied on him to survive, especially Tara, Prue, Lilith and Janna. No, she very much doubted he would fall to Radrik now when he had so much to lose. He had come a long way since his journey had begun and learned so much in the last year, he simply had to win.
"I'm glad things went well for you Cassandra," her lord stated as he looked up from the viewing pool as she entered the room.
"Thank you my lord so am I," Cassandra responded with a bright smile also pleased things hadn’t turned nasty as she reviled her long buried secret. "It has taken a great weight off me to finally tell them the truth," she added. "Now I can interact with them all when it is necessary," she went on with a pleased smile. "So much has happened since this all began and so much has changed," she stated with a slight sigh.
"Yes it has," her lord agreed with a nod of his head. "The war has changed due to the actions of Alexander more than I could have guessed, but I think it's for the better, especially once he begins the task of forming his alliance and bringing the various champions and organizations together to face the counter attack from the darkness that will come," he informed her with a serious look. "You should be proud of him Cassandra, he has done well," he added with a smile.
"I’m very proud and not just of him, but of all of them, even those who aren’t really a part of his group," Cassandra responded with another smile. "When this began I feared so much we would lose him, but he has overcome so much and shown how strong he can be, even showing no fear in needing others to do the job where he can’t," she explained. "The last leg of this journey is now upon them and I believe they will survive to change things even more," she told him.
"We shall see Cassandra. Although I must say I agree with you, after facing everything they had encountered I can’t see Radrik winning, but still… anything can happen so we must stay alert," her lord said in response and Cassandra nodded, knowing he was correct. Radrik wasn’t to be underestimated before she waved her hand over the viewing pool so it showed Alexander and his group and settled in to watch as things progressed.
(Kalderash Tribe, Romany lands)
Xander sat with Janna curled up next to him on one side and Tara on the other, he was nervous because soon he would have to meet Janna's father and the chief of this tribe and convince them to help him and even though he would have the help of his group he was more on edge in facing Janna's father. He doubted that he would be pleased by the fact that he had gotten his daughter pregnant out of wedlock, especially as he was the heir of a tribe they were at war with.
He knew he was close to the end of this journey, but that just made him more aware of what would happen should he fail. He believed the last fight would be the greatest challenge he would face. He knew he couldn’t use Vlad's sword to fight Radrik as everyone would believe he had an unfair advantage so he had been practicing with the sword the Valar had gifted him with, but it wasn’t the same and he missed the comforting magic Vlad's sword possessed. Lilith and Prue were discussing something with Adrian and Sir Integra while Vlad meditated. He guessed he needed to center himself after everything he had just learned. Amy was playing a game with Piper and Leo, while Phoebe and Cole were asleep as was his mother who had been depressed since Cassandra had refused to tell her the status of his father.
"How are we going to deal with Radrik, Alex? I somehow doubt he will accept one on one combat if he can help it?" Janna inquired after she leaned up and kissed him.
"I think you are right," Xander replied sighing as he turned his mind to the problem at hand. "Which is why, after I have won over your chief and your father, I’m going to ask him to summon his allies and then we are going to march on the Lavelle tribe, that way we can force a one on one combat," he explained.
"But we may have to kill members of your own tribe to do that," Janna protested. "I know Alex you haven't known who you really are for long, but you can’t simply kill them like that. They are your people, your family," she continued trying to explain as well as instill the sense of what it meant to be a part of a clan.
"Janna, most of them are as evil as Radrik. They helped him kill my grandfather and then they launched attack after attack on the other tribes. Those who refuse to obey him are prisoners and are most likely in some kind of jail alongside my father, if he is still alive," Xander responded. A part of him knowing she was right, but right now he didn’t care to much to view the Lavelle tribe as having any connection to himself.
"Alex, Janna is correct to a point," Tara joined the conversation having been listening carefully. "If you want any hope of ruling the tribe once Radrik is dead you must find another way to take the tribe which does not involve killing them," she added seriously. "If you don’t they will plan a counter which could end up with some of us dead when we least expect it," she warned him.
Xander closed his eyes and sighed, knowing Tara was even more correct. ‘Why couldn't things ever be simple?’ he thought to himself before opening his eyes again and nodding his head in acceptance of what they had said. He had to remind himself he was here to stop the in-fighting within the tribes not to take part in it.
"Maybe if we manage to take the tribe by surprise I can challenge Radrik to one on one combat for control of the tribe. Something I doubt he would refuse in front of his people," he said thoughtfully. “It would make him look weak if he did,” he added at their looks. “I think it would also be wise to send maybe Seras and Adrian in ahead of us to locate the prisoners and free them so there is no risk of them being killed or used as hostages once we make our move," he continued.
"I think that's a better plan Alex and one that has more chance of succeeding," Janna said with a pleased smile that they had convinced him to not go for an all-out attack. "What will you do once Radrik is dead and you are I charge of the tribe?" she asked, leaning back against him.
"If my father is still alive, I will give control of the tribe to him, while I continue to fight the darkness and build our alliance," Xander replied instantly. "I’m not ready to control a whole tribe Janna, I wouldn't even know where to start," he added with a shake of his head.
"And if your father is dead?" Tara asked, hating having to bring it up, but knowing she had to make sure he was prepared for that possibility.
"I don't know Tara, but I really do not think I could take control of the tribe without help and as I said we have other things to do. Remember I am also a guardian of Atlantis now as well," he reminded them.
They stopped talking as the door opened and a man entered and headed straight for them, he was tall with dark hair and brown eyes and he frowned as he noticed Janna curled up next to Xander and another woman.
"Janna, our father wishes to see you and your group," the man said, frowning even more as Janna just stared at him.
"Alexander, Tara allow me to introduce my brother Jonah," Janna said finally sighing before standing up followed by Alexander and Tara.
"Nice to meet you," Xander said before going over to wake the others, while Tara looked over Janna's brother and noted he didn’t seem too happy by what he had just seen his sister doing.
"You disgrace our family Janna with your shameful display," Jonah said heatedly. "You should know better than to act so below your station," he added.
"Talk to her like that again Jonah and brother or not we will be having a fight," Xander warned him, not liking his tone. "She can act however she likes," he added as he walked back to her side and took her hand in his.
"You have no say in this outsider," Jonah growled. "She is a member of the Kalderash tribe and her actions reflect on us. She has already shamed our family by allowing Angelus to be freed when she was ordered to make sure the curse held and she failed," he argued.
"That was not her fault, got me?" Xander growled, growing more annoyed with the man. "And if you say one more disrespectful thing about her I will hit you," he snapped, while Janna and most of their group glared at the man.
"That will not be necessary," a new voice said and they all turned to see an older man enter alongside another man the same age. Both had grey hair and green eyes, but they still seemed strong. "Jonah, you speak out of turn. Janna's actions concerning Angelus have already been reviewed and I have agreed there was nothing she could have done to prevent his release. She also went on to help destroy not only Angelus, but the other two remaining members of the Scourge of Europe, need I remind you?" he added as they came to a stop. "You should be proud of your sister’s accomplishments in helping to end their reign of terror forever," he stated.
Jonah just frowned even more before turning and storming out of them room, clearly not happy by what the man had said. Xander wondered if he would have to watch his back around him in the future before concentrating on the two men in front of them.
"I am Hallam, chief of the Kalderash, and this is Janna's father Tarrik," the taller of the two men said. "Janna has filled us in on some of your past, but I gathered she left some out," he added.
"I did," Janna spoke up, hoping this meeting didn’t go downhill when it was learned who Alexander actually was. "It was best the rest was discussed once everyone was healed and awake," she added when the chief and her father looked at her.
"Indeed, please sit and we can discuss why you have come here and what it is you want," Hallam said as Tarrik went and retrieved two seats for them and began to listen as Xander began their tale.
Cassandra looked up shortly as Tanith and Jonas returned from completing the task their lord had given them and then turned back to the viewing pool as Alexander continued to explain everything to Hallam and Tarrik. She prayed they would agree to help them instead of reacting in fear and anger due to his tribal ties.
"My lord, we have warned all our champions to be on high alert for the foreseeable future," Tanith reported as he took a quick look at the viewing pool before turning to face their lord.
"Good, I assume the First will strike once it has regrouped its forces," their lord stated. "We must be ready to act just in case they send anymore Fallen. I will have a force of guardians prepared to act should such a thing happen again. Tanith, you will lead them if it becomes necessary," he stated.
"Yes my lord," Tanith said with a nod, relieved his lord wouldn’t be risking himself once again, even as he knew what had just happened had been an unusual event due to it having been Malek who had attacked, a recent traitor who had dared to go so far as to try and kill their lord. "I will be ready," he added.
"My lord is there a chance the First may try and interfere with Alexander's fight with Radrik?" Jonas inquired.
"I don’t believe so, although we will keep an eye open just in case it does. I think though we are safe to assume it will not, due to how much they have lost since learning of Alexander and his group," their lord answered after thinking it over.
"So close now," Cassandra murmured, a part of her wishing it was just all over.
"Yes very close to the end now Cassandra," her lord agreed guessing at what she was thinking. "Keep faith," he told her as they watched Alexander come to the end of his tale and they waited for the reactions of Hallam and Tarrik.
(Kalderash Tribe, Romany lands)
"You are a Lavelle?" Tarrik asked frowning. He doubted his daughter would have brought the man here if he was a threat, but still they were at war with the Lavelle tribe and had been for the last few years.
"I am," Xander responded, knowing he had to be careful here or he could end up in jail or worse. "But I’m not one of Radrik's men. In fact until last year I didn’t even know I was of Romany descent, let alone the true heir of the Lavelle tribe," he explained. "He killed my grandfather and may have my father prisoner and I’m here to kill him and stop the wars he has started," he stated.
"I knew your grandfather Alexander," Hallam said looking away for a few moments. "I was a young man at the time and my father was still chief. They were good friends and allies, his loss was tragic and Radrik has caused much damage in the years since," he informed them, willing to trust this young man on that fact alone. "Killing him will not be easy, many have tried," he warned them.
"We know this which is why we came here," Xander said in way of a reply. "We need to gather as many of your allies as we can so we can catch them by surprise, so that I can challenge him to a one on one and no needless bloodshed," he added. "Once I have dealt with him I will ask Vlad to retake the throne of our people and end the wars permanently," he finished.
"A tall order," Tarrik said in response. "And how are we to know this truly is Vlad Tepes?" he inquired turning to the tall Nosferatu, who smiled insanely back at him before he pulled his sword out of his long coat and placed it on the ground with his left hand on the pummel and there on one of his fingers they all saw a signet ring which had not been there before.
"That is indeed the coat of arms of our lord Tepes," Hallam said in awe. "I never thought I would live to see the day our lord returned to us," he stated, still not quite believing it was true. "We will help you Alexander and I will begin preparations," he added before getting up and leaving the room.
"Now onto personal matters," Tarrik said, deciding to deal with the fact their lord had returned later and facing Alexander and Janna. "Janna is pregnant, am I to assume you are the father?" he all but demanded to know.
"I’m and before you ask I plan to marry Janna once Radrik is dealt with," Xander replied, no longer afraid of facing this man as his tone of voice instantly wiped away his fear.
"Do you indeed and what makes you think I would agree with that? As I believe you have stated you are involved with three other girls, and being married to one of them by right of an ancient bond?" he asked, his face giving them a clue that he was angry by this.
"Father it is my choice to marry Alexander and I have already accepted the fact he is involved with Tara, Prue and Lilith," Janna interrupted him, not willing to let her father interfere with her life. "I will marry him. He is the father of my child and that is final, I will not allow you to stop our relationship," she added.
"I’m your father Janna and you better start to remember your place. You have obviously been away far too long," Tarrik shot back with an angry glare at her defiance. "Here I have final say if you are to marry," he reminded her.
"She will marry Alexander, Tarrik," Alucard finally spoke up, annoyed with the man for trying to get in the way. "Once Radrik is dead and I have resumed lordship over the Romany I will make sure of it and there is nothing you can do about it," he told the man with a glare which told Tarrik all he needed to know if he continued to push this. "As for his relationships with my daughter, Prue and Tara that is none of your business, but theirs and theirs alone," he went on. "Leave them be," he commanded.
Tarrik glared at him then at the others before nodding his head, knowing there was nothing he could do if Vlad was going to take their side and so he got up and left. Clearly things in the clans would be changing far more than anyone could have expected when their lord returned. Granted he was one of those who had believed he would never come back and the whole thing was just a myth.
"I’m sorry you had to deal with that," Janna apologized with a shake of her head, annoyed at her family.
"That's okay Janna," Lilith said with a smile. "I have dealt with worse men in my life," she added, while Xander just pulled her into a long hard kiss which she eagerly returned and Prue and Tara just smiled at her, not the least bit offended by what had just happened.
“Do not concern yourself with Tarrik. If he continues to try to interfere I will deal with him in such a way he will have no choice but to accept your choice,” Alucard promised with another insane smile.
"What do we do now?" Jessica asked, amused to see her son and Janna still locked in a deep kiss.
"We wait for a few days, while we prepare and then we will head for the Lavelle tribe and finish this journey as well as find out if my father is still alive, mom," Xander answered after finally breaking the kiss. "I'll do some sword training with Vlad to make sure I’m ready for Radrik. The rest of you should concentrate on your own skills and maybe come up with a plan B in case things go wrong," he added to which everyone nodded and broke apart to begin to prepare for the end game.