Marcus was a primary elder, one of the oldest member of their much-feared coven, and a very powerful man.  His presence needed no annoucement.  A cloak of terror surrounded his every footstep.  Even before Ethan entered what was once a large den in the old-world, now a private meeting room in his home, he caught a whiff of the other man’s signature melevolence.  It was a menacing sensation that sent a chill up Ethan’s stiff spine.  Marcus was earlier, which meant he was much to eager to be here and that was a sign of bad things to come.

The moment Ethan’s bare foot touched the threshold to the room, the hushed tones he had heard went mute.  Stepping into the space, he immediately saw why.

Dear Carl, he said with a sneer on his face, this is the second time I’ve caught you whispering behind my back.  Why so?

Not from treachery, I can assure you, sire.  He was smiling, but Ethan saw behind the cracked expression on his pale face.  We were trying to be respectful of our new..His eyes flittered to the side briefly as his mind worked to find a suitable title for the woman he loathed..guest.  We didnt want to wake her, since she is still recovering from some very nasty injuries.

The echoes of Shay’s screams ruptured into his mind, driving Ethan in a quick rage.  He bounded forward, ready to add a second break to the fresh one in Carl’s nose, but he was stopped at the halfway point between him and his target.

Enough, prince, a well-manaceured hand flew up as a handsome man, seemingly no older than his early thirties, stepped in front of Ethan, successfully blocking his path toward Carl.  You are dismissed, he spoke toward the third man over his shoulder.

With his head at a lowered angle and with a wide arc separating him from Ethan, Carl made fast tracks from the room.  All the while, Ethan’s glare followed him the entire way until the back of his head disappeared from view.

This comes as a great shock.  Marcus’s voice called Ethan’s attention back to him.

What does?  He questioned with a raise of his eyebrow.

That you and your once beloved mentor and tutor have come to such a vicious falling out.  He spoke as he strolled back toward the table, which was lined with an assortment of rich chocolate candies and various colorful fruits.  Passing by all these, Marcus opened a clear bottle filled with a cherry red liquid and poured a half serving of its contents into a slim crystal wine glass.  He took a sip and closed his eyes to savor the taste of his drink before continuing in a voice that was only a halfbeat away from the sway of a tempting siren’s song.  I always assumed that you two, a wicked grin lifted his lips, become lovers some day.

Ethan answered while watching Marcus with a steady eye.  The elder’s movements and voice were misleading.  He was the most deadly man Ethan had ever encountered in his lifetime.  And hearing the word lover coming from Marcus’s mouth only summoned memories of Ethan’s earliest encounters with him.  They were lessons he would prefer to forget for all time.  Despite the inner discomfort and uneasiness thoughts of his childhood brought to mind, Ethan stood his ground.  Not even a single muscle flexed.  He would not permit one eyelash to falter.  He was no longer a cowering boy.  He was fearless man.  He was no where near as skilled at dark arts as Marcus, but he was no longer afraid of the cruel man who had kidnapped him from his mother and tortured him into becoming the soulless monster that he was today.

Your eyes betray you, boy.  With frightening suddeness Marcus’s melodious voice transformed into a terrifying tenor.  It sounded as if two or more persons were speaking at once, each using their own horrible octave.  Remember who I am, and remember the gift that I have given you.

Curse.  Ethan said the work in his own mind, but immediately wished he had pushed the thought away before it came to life.

Not a curse, you ungrateful bastard.  Marcus dropped the glass on the top, causing some of the crimson fluid to splash on the white table cloth.  He moved at a stalking pace over to Ethan and then grabbed the younger man’s chin tightly between the fold of his heavy palm.  Look at all that you have.  While others starve in the streets, you lack nothing to eat.  This place is filled with mindless zombies, their bodies wasted to bones and skin, yet here you stand young, strong, and viralant.  What more could you want?

Ethan silenced the answer that was bubbling to explode from his lips.

After a moment of staring down Ethan, who remained unmoved even in the clutches of a grip that threatened to crack his jaw, Marcus’s eyes, which had turned from a soft green into a glowing strawberry red, returned to their normal color.  His hands released Ethan’s chin and slid upward to cup his cheek.  For a moment, he merely stood and admired the beautiful man he had chosen to take under his wing.

I always knew that you would grow up to become the most handsome creature to walk the earth, he said while continuing to stroke Ethan’s face.  I never thought you would become as bold as you have.  And from what I hear, you have gathered quite the reputatation as someone to be look upon with trembling.  He smiled.  It was the giddy grin of someone who was at the edge of floating away from reality and all sanity.  Ah, yes, I did make the right choice after all.  I don’t think your brother would have made me as proud as you have, my favorite son.

The rage that was boiling inside of Ethan calmed a half degree.  If he had spoke his older brother’s name aloud, which he had no right to ever do again in this lifetime, Ethan would not have been able to control the howl begging to escape from the tightened lungs.  And he would have been helpless to control anything that would have happened after that.

Marcus added a playful tap on his cheek before turning and walking back to his spilled drink.

Now what is this Carl tells me of your new conquest?  He says that you have been babbling to everyone that she will become your wife.  I’m glad that you’re doing your royal duty and trying to create a new seed to continue our bloodline, but did you really do such a foolish thing to save her life?  I’m sure she’s not beautiful enough to die for.  He stood and watched Ethan over the rim of the glass, trying to gage his temper and taking a moment to peel back his youngest son’s layered and scrammbled thoughts.  It wasnt unusual for Ethan to try to block him out.  Under different circumstances, Marcus might not have minded the deceit.  He may have even applauded the ease with which Ethan was shutting down his attempts at bulldozing past his mental shield. Today, however, it bothered Marcus much more than he had expected.  Why would you do such a silly act?  He spoke more to himself than to Ethan.  That is definitely not how I raised you.  Self-sacrifice was never one of our lessons.  Unless, Marcus filled the glass to the half way point once more then casually inhaled the essence of its contents..Not unless she’s..the one.  Throwing the drink down his throat. he slammed down the glass and charged over to Ethan.  Grabbing both sides of his head, (Ethan knows better than to resist him), and starting directly into his blue eyes, Marcus’s voice shifted as he made his demand. Open your!  Marcus pushed the full extent of his telepathic phaze to pull what he needed from his son’s burried thoughts. In a brilliant flash, he saw every event from the time Ethan had encountered Shay at the bar until now.

With one swift blow, he backhanded his son.  Blood dripped from Ethan’s cut and bruised lip, but he refused to wipe it away and he refused to let the force of the hit cause his body to fall.  Firm and solid as a statue, he remained motionless under his father’s continued beating.  Only before the very last hit did he dare to grimmace ever so slightly.  It was that one small move that saved him from another strike.  Satisfied that he had inflicted some type of pain on his insubordinate heir.

How dare you try to keep this from me?  He said while prowling around Ethan.  Don’t you know how long we’ve waited for this day to arrive?  There hasnt been one like her is far too long.  And now that you’ve come of age.  A brilliant smile lit up his regal face.  But you already know all of this, which is why you havent touched her or let Carl do his dirty business to her either.  This must be why you two have suddenly gone from friends to foes so quickly…Always a woman isnt it?  Nasty little creatures arent they?  He snickered to himself.

While Marcus continued his gleeful rant, in the deepest part of his mind, the small blackened corner he kept as his personal hideaway for times such as these, he breathed a sigh of relief.  Marcus had not discovered the other secret he had been blocking.  He and Shay had touched minds.  A fledgling bond had been forged between them well ahead of schedule.  He knew the moment that he had done so that it would be his undoing.  Even now, as every minute passed, he felt his emotions for her budding.  This wasnt the way The Order had intended their connection to be.  The ceremony was to be a simple one.  One moment of bonding would lead to the eternal blackness that they were seeking.  With his heart so close to tumbling over an unknown chasm, and he had no desire to avoid the fall.  Ethan wanted Shelise from that very first moment.  In her eyes, he saw a reflection of himself staring back.  There was hope for the salvation he had never yearned for until now.  She was his only hope for life.  He wanted to love her and to protect her at all costs, even if it meant death at the hands of his own father.

I know there’s more that you’re not telling me, son.  Marcus’s cold tone snapped into Ethan’s ear.  Believe me…I will dig it out of you..somehow.  A grim smile touched his lips.  For now, I want to see this lovely prize you have been trying to hide.

Without awaiting a response, Marcus pushed past Ethan and motioned his footsteps toward the end of the long hallway.

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