Chapter 1:

Chapter One

Fragments of Red

Vampires–known to man as monsters who bare fangs in human form. Beings who feed on blood from those helpless after twilight; beings blessed with the strength of hundreds, and immense beauty lasting evermore through the powers of immortality. Decade after decade, starting in the 1700s, vampires were said to have caused massacres and “epidemics” wherever they had been rumored to roam; which spurred humanity to hunt down those suspected to be the rulers of the night. Man pursued the so-called monsters out of fear, regardless if they truly were one of the sought out beings.This era was duly noted as the ‘Crimson War’. However, this event was unmarked in history as mankind was deemed insane as they chased down a nightmare, which was unknown to be reality or false.

Centuries later, it was noted that these creatures no longer exist in modern society, though for some, the name itself of these beings still haunt them to this day.

Ray sighed as he slammed his book shut, making a noise that echoed through the vacant library, “How much more arrogant and foolish can humans possibly be? They say that humans are this world’s most powerful living creatures, yet all they do is destroy everything in sight as if they were not monsters themselves.”

The man threw his book onto the table as he grabbed his black, long coat from the chair next to it. To his right side, a hanging mirror was placed on the wall between large bookshelves filled to their brims with hundreds of sources of knowledge. He walked up to it and stared at his reflection, brushing his dark, raven-colored bangs out of his grayish, amber eyes. He then slipped his arms through the sleeves of the long coat, sliding it over his white-buttoned shirt and dark vest. Tilting his head, he pondered about the passage he had read earlier and clicked his tongue as he straightened out his collar.

“Brother, are you alright,” a voice called from above him, “You’re making quite the expression right now… Like you want to destroy this whole library.”

The grand library of Vrynlear, a ten-floor building that housed hundreds of thousands of books containing centuries of knowledge, waiting to be passed down to future generations. A circular building that only showed light from the single window at the top center of the building, where every inch below was lit by dim lanterns against the walls between the tall auburn shelves. It was late in the day, leaving very few patrons inside the library, filling the levels with musty silence.

“Clarence,” Ray called as he looked up to meet the gray eyes of his younger brother, who stood against the railing of the next floor above. Unlike himself, his younger brother inherited their mother’s dark brown hair which he had cut a bit short to his shoulders and tied back into a loose tail. He was slender, wearing a black tail-coat over his black buttoned-shirt and dark jeans. A short black cloak draped over his shoulders, highlighting the brightness of his young, graceful features. “It is nothing to be concerned with. I am just infuriated by the contents of that book over there.”

Clarence’s face twisted somewhat as he tilted his head slightly at Ray, “I would say ‘nothing’ is somewhat of an understatement coming from you, brother. After all, I can practically feel your anger from all the way up here.”

“I would rather not speak about it, it will put me in a foul mood, and we simply do not have the time for such emotions.” Ray replied as he glared at the book that he had left on the table.

The younger brother let out a sigh of surrender as the two could hear a bell sounding a clear ringing in the distance. “Looks as if we no longer have the time to relax,” Clarence said as he hopped over the railing landing next to his brother, “We’ve been summoned.”

The two turned towards the door and made their way out of the grand library and onto the streets of Vrynlear, a luminescent city home to the beasts that humans had long-since feared, vampires. The sky above was taken over by neverending night, filling the darkened canvas with endless stars and silver clouds. Trees and grass stayed in an ever-autumn-like state, living between the colors of crimson and an ashen emerald, the whole city illuminated by dim strung lights and dull lamps on the streets.

As the two walked through the streets of cottages and businesses, Ray watched as young vampires ran past them, frolicking freely with no sense of fear in their eyes; he watched the others around him talking to their loved ones and walking with each other from place to place. He smiled slightly, to which Clarence caught a glimpse of, enticing a small chuckle out of him. “That is one of the rarest expressions I’ve ever seen from you, brother.”

“Is it not normal to show happiness when viewing peace around oneself?” Ray responded calmly, diverting his eyes back on the route in front of him. “Back there… in the library... I had read a book about humans hunting down our kind. They had stopped to no end, in an attempt to erase all existence of vampires from their world. No matter what or whom their prey was, each one of them was condemned, whether guilty or not. It infuriated me to no end.”

Clarence cast his gaze to the ground as he listened. The elder brother continued to speak, with a bundle of complex emotions in his voice, “Walking through our city like this, it strengthens my desire to protect everyone here. To protect our home. To protect Vrynlear, the home that our ancestors created for us to live freely without fear.”

“I—,” Clarence started as he clasped his hands together behind his back; he looked up towards the night sky, “Understand how you feel. Though, I don’t think that all humans are as terrible as we think.”

Refusing to reply, Ray closed his eyes and jumped from the ground upwards, propelling his body to stay in flight towards their destination in front of them. His younger brother shook his head and jumped to follow after him, though flying a bit slower to stay behind.

The bells they had heard before had rung again, their chimes splicing through the air as they had gotten louder, implicating urgency. The bells of Vrynlear were uniqueas they were used to call vampires when they were summoned by the leaders of the luminescent city, the Blood Council.

Ray looked below him and saw hundreds of dim lights as they glided above them, and Clarence watched his brother with a solemn gaze as he knew why his brother had been paying more attention to their surroundings as of late. “It might be awhile before we are able to return here again. Is it so wrong to take in as much of our city before we departed, Clarence?”

“Brother, I… We’ll come back for sure! No matter what.” he quickly replied as he caught up with Ray, looking at him with determination in his eyes. “Though I understand how you feel, I doubt the human-world will be anything like Vrynlear. So I also feel a bit reluctant to go. However, I know without a doubt, we will be back.”

Three nights before, Clarence and Ray were summoned by the Blood Council to the Vrynlear Hall, a grand building that held the political meetings of the city behind sealed doors. The two walked through the entrance to be greeted by overhead banners lining up the ceramic pillars, each flag representing the one of the thirteen family crests of the heads of the council.

“I wonder what we were summoned for, brother,” Clarence muttered as he looked down at the amber floor which reflected his appearance back at him. “We normally aren’t called, so I wonder if something happened.”

“Your worries are valid; however, we mustn't assume anything until we are told what we need to know.” Ray reassured as he saunteredup the stairs to the second floor. Directly in the pathway, two large doors were guarded by large stone guardians, gargoyles on either side. As the council meetings were serious, the only thing to keep guard as deliberations were held were results of the head of the council’s ability. As they approached, a seal on the door appeared as a red floral spiral, an blood insignia. The elder brother raised his right hand and released a crimson glow from it, causing the seal to gleam brightly before disappearing and opening the two extensive doors behind it.

The two brothers walked inside into the hall, making their way further into the room where five thrones seated the five highest-ranking members of the council. To their right and left were four thrones on each side that sat the others of the panel. As they reached the center, Ray and Clarence both knelt onto their right knees, dipping their heads and placing their right hands over their hearts.

“Ray V. Drossel, responding to the summons.”

“Clarence S. Drossel, responding to the summons.”

At the end of their introductions, the doors behind them had closed shut and resealed. On the center throne of the council sat a man with short jet black hair and golden eyes, his slightly aged chiseled features outlining his authority and grace as he donned ceremonial black robes, as did the others of the council. He rested his chin on the palm of his hand, and waved the other as he spoke in a deep melodic voice, “You may rise to your feet.”

At his word, the siblings stood upright and lifted their gaze to meet the eyes of the five leaders sitting at their thrones.

The woman who sat next to the man on his left stared at the two with an unreadable gaze. Her wavy, deep amber hair seemed to glisten as she lifted her head, her eyes reflecting her elegance and strength; she raised her hand, and the dark flowing sleeve of her ceremonial robes fluttered slightly. She beckoned to approach closer to the center thrones, which they had obliged, before speaking to them in a regal tone. “Ray. Clarence. The council has come to a solution of an urgent issue that has occurred unexpectedly. The answer to our dilemma requires your assistance, and that is why you have both been called for.”

“If we can be of use to the Vrynlear, we will gladly accept whatever orders that the council has decided to pass on to us,” Ray responded as he bowed his head down, his right hand still on his chest.

The woman nodded, satisfied with Ray’s answer, and she glanced towards the man to her right, who seemed uninterested. “A couple of years ago, a select group of noble vampires were sent to live in the mortal world in order to keep an eye on the development of humanity.”

Clarence’s eyes widened as he tripped over the information that had just been shared with them. Ray’s hand twitched as his expression darkened; he opened his mouth to speak but immediately closed it again as no words came to mind.

“These vampires were immediate members of the noble families that still reside in Vrynlear, and they had voluntarily chosen to reside in the mortal world for this duty. However, just a few months ago, all contact with these vampires had been severed, and all of our attempts to reach them has failed.” The woman continued, her voice cold, “Although they are not the heirs to their families, they are direct members, and thus as the council, we have the responsibility of delivering their news to their families. Due to our inability to locate and communicate with the missing vampires, we must assume that we are dealing with the possibility that they are either held captive or have been hunted down by humans.”

“That’s…,” Clarence mumbled as he turned his eyes to his brother, who was expressionless, though his eyes filled with rage.

The head of the council finally spoke, sitting upright, “Ray and Clarence, you are being deployed into the mortal world to investigate these disappearances.”

Ray trembled as he took a step forward in front of Clarence. “Our orders are to go to the mortal world?,” he inquired as he held his arm out protectively in front of his younger brother.

The gaze of the head of the council was enough of a response to know that the orders were true.

“Then let me go alone; please let Clarence stay here.” Ray said, his voice shaking as he was trying to keep calm. “I should be enough; there is no need for him to follow me.”

“Brother, you can’t! If the nobles have truly been hunted down, then the enemy is too powerful for you to handle on your own!” Clarence protested as he grabbed his brother’s shoulder with his left hand.

The head of the council nodded, “Your brother is right, Ray. You must both go. We are not aware of who the adversaries are; however, there is a possibility that alone, you will be walking straight into a trap. Clarence will go with you, thus are the orders that you have been given.”

“What sort of father and mother would send both their children to the human world knowing that they could be slaughtered!?” Ray screamed, glaring at his parents, the woman, and the head of the council; Lyra R. Drossel, and Vyn S. Drossel. “I will not stand for Clarence to go with me just to potentially get killed.”

“Ray, you are the son of the heads of the council. You are obligated to go, both as a pureblood, and as the future heir of the Drossel family. You are in no position to argue. Such is the same for Clarence. Do you understand me?” his father said, coldly.

Clarence felt Ray’s shoulders tremble as their father gave them his final word. He looked at his mother, and while she showed no emotion on her face, her eyes showed concern and empathy towards her sons. He knew at that moment that there was no way that the orders would change, just as it felt as if their fates would be sealed.