The Vampire's Sunrise
A New Dawn
“They are waiting, Lord Kirnon,” a smooth deep voice announced behind him for the third time in as many hours.
He should let them wait, the aged vampire decided. He snorted at the thought, softly so his valet couldn’t hear the sound. When the same excuses were repeated to keep him from stepping away from the large window, it had already been used too often. Kirnon rarely lingered by the window for any reason, out of a need to hunt, to entertain his clan, and out of fear he would linger too long and the sun would rise. Legends hinted that the older the vampire, the less likely they might be killed by the sun. Such stories could be wrong. No vampire he had ever met could say they knew another of their kind older than a millennia, an age he himself was nearing.
Frowning, he let his eyes focus on the glass where his reflection would be staring back at him if he were still human. His once long brown hair had been chopped short. Tonight he wore it combed back. His blue eyes rested above a long narrow nose, high cheekbones, and thin lips. He had never been a muscular man in life nor overly tall. In turn, others often saw him as weak or insignificant. The mortals he encountered tried to take advantage of him at the cost of their lives. Only his age earned him the respect of his fellow vampires. How differently would the mortals treat him if they learned he had joined William the Bastard when the mortal conquered England? Even today he could still hear the echoes of steel against steel, horses screaming, men shouting as they charged or died from their injuries. Once in a while, he could still hear the English king whisper to hold back; they would enter the battle on his say and no one else’s.
To push those distant memories aside, Kirnon looked past his own image to the city beyond. He had taken residence where the street lights were few and the number of residents who risked the night were fewer. Only when a full moon blazed in the sky above did that ever change. The vampire closed his eyes. Sometimes the moon had proven too much light for some of his kind. He loathed thinking of the names of the ones he had lost to the light of the moon. Arrogance had taken some while others had truly not understood that the moon reflected the light of the sun. There were nights he cursed their stupidity. Tonight he simply mourned their loss. Their memories had prompted Kirnon to agree to participate in what he now was trying to put off. If he left any later, he might risk being caught in the sunlight on his journey to the lab.
“Has the car been prepared?”
“The chauffeur has had the vehicle waiting since dusk, my lord,” his servant told him.
Kirnon nodded and pivoted around to see his valet. Eldon, his valet, had been human far longer than most vampires. He had lived a good sixty years before being turned nearly a century ago, so he looked vastly older than his own master. His white hair could never be tamed, and he stood with slightly bent shoulders from years of hard work as a human. He had taken to his role as valet quicker than expected. Kirnon smiled at his servant, dipping his head forward once more. The valet closed the distance between them and helped him into a tailored, floor-length black coat that hugged his body.
“I don’t see Percy,” Kirnon commented. “Where is the lad?”
“He took himself out hunting, my lord, or so the servants have told me. He left a message in his chambers nearly a week ago.”
The elder vampire snorted loud enough to be heard across the room. Long ago, the clans had agreed to not go hunting more than once a month. Some had even promised to share their prey with each other. Though humans bred quickly, they didn’t reproduce as quickly as other animals. In truth, Kirnon knew a vampire only needed to hunt no more than three times a year, but he knew he could never convince his fellow vampires to hunt so little.
“So, I’m to have no escort.”
“I thought you would prefer that way. Just in case this task fails.”
Kirnon smiled. “You’re right. Let Percy have his fun. Follow me as far as the car. You have my leave to go hunting for yourself if you need to once I’ve left.”
“Thank you, my lord,” Eldon answered with a bow.
The valet fell in step behind him as the vampire traversed the great room. He kept his apartment sparsely finished, a habit from the days of vampire hunts and other clans trying to expand their territories. He had always hated having to repeatedly repair or replace his furnishings after every attack. Such things were rare as technology had advanced to the point that there were eyes everywhere and vampires used it to their advantage. Only hunting and dire emergencies drew a vampire into a place without a camera.
As a clan chieftain, Kirnon had enough servants willing to perform every task he could want. Other clan chiefs had hunters bring prey to them. It was their right. Kirnon did not require such devotion from his servants. He refused to force his clan to do everything for him. Perhaps that leniency caused him to look weak amongst the clans. He had lived far too long to give a damn how the other clan chieftains viewed him. Not one of them had the strength to oppose him. They were pups compared to him. Kirnon reached out for the doorknob when he had stepped close enough. Once the door had swung open enough, Eldon lifted a hand to hold the door open for his master.
Mortals lived in the building as well, but only the apartment manager knew that vampires resided there. The man did his best to keep their other inhabitants away from the apartments that housed immortals. Kirnon had bestowed his gratitude on the mortal, keeping him safe from becoming prey for his rivals. At this hour, no human lingered in the corridors thanks to carefully placed comments by the manager that drug dealers often did their business in the hallways. A vampire or two loitered on each floor, ready to sell what the addicts in the neighborhood craved. His clansman bowed their heads as he walked to the elevator.
From the first time Kirnon had used an elevator, he had loathed the blasted contraptions. The space was too confined for his tastes, even when he was alone. And the smell of their human prey lingered inside, causing his hunger for human blood to grow inside him even if he had hunted only a few hours earlier. He would take the stairs if his status as a clan chief did not require that he maintain a level of nobility. Once inside, he let his valet press the button that would tell the elevator to take them to the parking garage. An eternity later, the doors slid open to reveal a full parking garage. When he stepped out, an engine roared to life. Kirnon turned to his right as his car approached the elevators.
Michael, his chauffer, was one of the few humans he employed. The mortal’s duties included more than just driving him around. He needed someone to oversee his assets during the daylight hours when mortals in this part of the world conduct their business. Let the world think that this mortal controlled Kirnon’s fortune. Eldon opened the rear passenger door after the car came to a stop. Kirnon climbed inside and let Michael drive him into the city.
“Are you sure you want to do this, my lord?” his driver asked one more time.
“Vampires are a scourge upon this earth. Someone has to be first, and I’ve lived long enough. I can hope the clans will be more open to this once they’ve seen it work.”
They rode across the city in silence. His closest confidants had tried to talk him out of this. No matter the outcome, it would tear the clan apart. Their territory would be annexed or divided and no one wanted that. But their pleas had been heard and then ignored. His mind was made up on the matter. A thousand years walking on the earth was too long, after all. Kirnon watched the city pass by. Nearly every alley had a memory, of a successful hunt, of one true moment to himself, or of a training with Percy that had gone well. Would the clan accept the lad as their clan chief? The clan respected the young vampire; he had shown himself capable of leading when the need arose. If Kirnon had gods to hear his prayers, he would beg them to see the lad through the squabble that he had no doubt would soon follow.
So focused on Percy’s future, Kirnon had not realized the car had come to a stop until Michael opened the door. The vampire blinked. How had they arrived so quickly? He would have felt himself being pulled back into his seat had Michael accelerated too quickly. But clearly, they had arrived. He could change his mind, he could hear Percy remind him. Another volunteer could be found. No, he had never asked his clan to do something he himself would not be willing to do, and it would not begin this night. Kirnon climbed out of the car, with Michael following behind him as he walked towards a set of glass doors. On the other side, four humans in white coats stood in a row. How long had they been waiting for him?
One broke away from the rest to open the door for him. “Lord Kirnon, thank you for coming.”
All the mortals at this facility had introduced themselves on many different occasions, but after so many years of keeping most humans at a distance, Kirnon had long ago stopped trying to remember their names. They were prey, not pets. Knowing their name made them harder to kill. A name made them a friend. How difficult would it be to break the habit of seeing humans as a meal? Even though he considered Michael a friend, he still sometimes let the thought of draining the man’s blood cross his mind.
Kirnon gave the human scientist a smile and let the man guide him into the depths of the building’s basements, and into a room with no windows. Other than a bed, a chair, and a table piled high with items that he once would consider to be witchcraft, no furniture filled the room. Next to the bed, a clear bag of liquid hung from a long hook on the wall. The sole female among them hurried over to it and started attaching things to the bag.
A pair of hands helped him out of his coat. Soon after, Kirnon was relaxing on the bed, his right arm exposed and fingers pressing into his hand to find a vein. He hadn’t realized a needle had gone into his hand until he felt a length of tape being strapped over his hand. The human who always did all the talking approached on his left, a huge grin on his face.
“This is completely voluntary, Lord Kirnon,” the human reminded him. “If you wish to back out, now would be the time. Once the procedure starts, we won’t be able to stop it.”
Kirnon smiled back at the human. “I appreciate the reminder, doctor, and no, I will not back out. Let the procedure begin.”
The human nodded and stepped away as Kirnon rested his head on the thick pillow they had provided. Around him, a series of orders were barked with no more attention paid to him. He closed his eyes and just listened to the voices and the footsteps hitting the concrete floor. Again, his thoughts returned to the battles he had witnessed both in life and as a vampire. He had seen more than anyone had the right to see. He should have written it all down for the sake of the clan if nothing else. If more humans learned of vampires, his words could have been passed on to their historians, so they would have a firsthand account of the events they desperately tried to learn more about.
His mind jumped from event to event until he could no longer hear the voices of the humans around him. In his mind, he could see the Battle of Hastings play out before him as if he were watching it in one a movie theater screen. He saw himself at the Conqueror’s side as the man was proclaimed King of England over Harold’s dead body. A dozen years later when a horde of vampires surrounded both him and the king, Kirnon had sacrificed himself to save the king’s immortal soul. He had given no thought to the wife and children he had left behind. William had promised to watch over them, to honor the sacrifice Kirnon had made.
He relived his entire life in brief glimpses after his turning. The only memory that played in his head that was not so short was the night of Percy’s turning. The lad had been around sixteen years old as humans counted time; to support his family he had turned to thieving. Whoring himself would have broken him, Kirnon had no doubt. The boy had chosen his coin pouch to steal, rather than another target. Had the elder vampire had believed in fate, he would have believed that was what had brought them together. Only days before a vampire hunter had plunged a stake into his valet, and he had wanted one he could train to his liking. Percy had become the most loyal of servants…
Kirnon gasped and opened his eyes to see Percy smiling down at him. He smiled up at the lad. “Why weren’t you there to escort me here, lad?” he asked.
“I couldn’t let those humans inject you with their potions without knowing for myself if it worked.”
“What are you talking about?” he demanded.
Percy chuckled. “I volunteered to be the first vampire they tried to make human again. It worked. Can you feel your heart beat, my lord?”
“I can hear it in my ears,” Kirnon smiled.
“To your feet, my lord,” the lad encouraged.
“Why when I can linger here?”
“You once told me you missed watching the sunrise in the morning. If we don’t hurry, you’ll miss it.” Percy stepped away from the bed. “I’ll get your coat.”
Kirnon pushed himself into a sitting position, waiting there until Percy returned. The lad helped him to his feet and into his coat. His legs felt like bricks as they walked from the room and through the maze of corridors to the elevator. As he entered the blasted contraption, he started sniffing. What had happened to his sense of smell? He could no longer smell the sweat of the previous passengers. He felt himself grin. Could he get used to riding in these blasted things now? Who cared if he did, he asked himself as the elevator took them from the basement to the roof.
Percy guided him through a small room to a door with a small window. Through it, he saw a light blue sky for the first time since that night he had saved his king from vampires. He had forgotten how beautiful it looked. The sun had already come up, but he could walk outside with the sun above him for the first time. His escort pushed the door open for them, letting Kirnon walk out ahead of him. He didn’t wait for the boy to come to his side. He blinked as sunlight teased his left eye. As he walked into the sunlight, he raised his left hand to block as many of the rays as he could.
“Isn’t it the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen, my lord?”
“No, lad,” he admitted, “but by God, it comes close.”
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