The full-blood clans allowed the churches of the Lord to continue operating only because they couldn’t step foot inside themselves. Over the centuries of the Queen of the Night’s rule, the churches had been burned to the ground by the full-blood clan’s thralls on more than one occasion. Despite the priests being mercilessly slaughtered, humanity stubbornly resisted, rebuilding and appointing new priests after each tragedy. Sol listened to the church bells begin to chime in the distance.
The church bells are ringing. That means it’s nearing sunset soon.
Sol ignored the thick smog blanketing the city, obscuring the sunshine. He had become acclimatised over the winter to the heavy smog which was especially suffocating in the early morning. The full-blood clans had started burning large amounts of coal to prepare the city for the arrival of the Queen of the Night. She changed capitals every generation and Crowmoor was selected to become her next city of residence.
Sol could see soot coating the outside of buildings in every direction. At the highest point of the city, on a hill overlooking the harbour, an area covering ten city blocks had been demolished. Foundations had been laid down with the construction of a palace already underway. The walls were being built from ivory coloured stone imported daily from the far reaches of the empire in tribute to the Queen.
Crowmoor will be the new home of the Queen of the Night soon. Humans will be oppressed even further after her arrival. I won’t be surprised if the death squads will resume their hunt for the remnant of the resistance before she gets here to leave a good impression. Even if they don’t, the number of vampires in the city is about to dramatically increase.
Sol’s thoughts were interrupted by a click from Alaric’s window. The shutters swung outward and Alaric poked his head out to look around. He couldn’t find Sol hidden in the shadows above him.
“Sol?” Alaric tentatively asked.
“Up here,” Sol responded, reaching down to grip the top of the frame, swinging himself upside down to roll in through the window, to land gracefully on his feet behind Alaric.
“Don’t jump out of the shadows at me like that. I could have punched you in the face and sent you plummeting over fifty feet to the ground. That would've been a mess,” Alaric replied, recoiling away from the window. He spoke with exaggerated calm after flinching at Sol’s unexpected entry.
My new senses allow me to see right through his bluster. He’s trying to hide it, but he’s terrified of me. There’s nothing I can do to change that without first regaining his trust. It won’t be easy now that I’m a blood-sucking monster to him.
The sound of Alaric’s elevated heart rate pounded in Sol’s ears. A bead of sweat was forming on Alaric’s brow and it wasn’t due to the summer heat.
“I’ll be more careful next time. Now that we’re here, what’s the plan?” Sol promised, stepping away to reassure him.
Sol walked across the sparsely decorated apartment to seat himself at the familiar rickety table. That left the other chair empty for Alaric with the table between them. Alaric hesitated before crossing the small room and pulling out the chair to sit down. He suddenly unsheathed his dagger and buried it in the wood of the table, pinning a large horse fly crawling across the surface.
Sol remained unperturbed because he could see Alaric’s movement in slow motion. The fly’s wings had begun to flutter in an attempt to escape before the blade expertly intercepted its path. The dagger pierced through the insect’s midsection to pin it to the wood. The wings dramatically buzzed a few times before the fly died. Sol returned his attention to Alaric, who sat back in his chair, crossing his arms with a smug expression.
“Stop acting so pleased with yourself, Alaric. I’ve seen you do that trick a hundred times before. It always makes those small-time street thugs piss their pants when we have to do some under the table work for their bosses. You’re trying to prove a point. What is it?” Sol replied as he leaned forward, placing both forearms on the table.
“You know me too well. If you have any ideas of turning me into a blood-sucker, get them out of your head right now. I can hold my own, you’ve experienced it yourself earlier on with my mirror. It doesn’t matter how fast or strong those tainted-bloods are if they’re cowering on the floor,” Alaric aggressively stated, spitting sideways on the floor.
“Don’t worry, the thought never crossed my mind. I wouldn’t inflict this on anyone. Light, smells and sound overpower my senses. Your heartbeat and the other three people on this floor are a constant nagging in my ears. My throat feels constantly parched and I know nothing will sate it except blood. I can smell the blood seeping from your wound, but the need to sleep while it's daylight is overpowering my thirst. It's a curse,” Sol confided.
“In that case, you should know that I lost my job at the docks today. I got into an argument with the harbourmaster and punched the arrogant prick in the face. That bastard set me up. He reported me to the thralls, who then put out an order to enlist me unloading cargo ships for the new palace. The construction is behind schedule, this means Clan Sanguine needs the ships unloaded during the night or face punishment. That means the full-bloods or their thralls will be coming to escort me to the dock after sundown,” Alaric regretfully said with a heavy sigh, slumping in his chair.
“Fuck, Alaric. Why are you only telling me this now? Lord, you’re still bleeding. You'll be a walking meal ticket for them. We need to get out of here before nightfall,” Sol exclaimed, leaping to his feet and knocking his chair over backward with a bang.
“What’s the point, Sol? The thralls are already following me and if I leave, they’ll tear this place apart to serve as an example. It’s already happened to a few of the lads that tried to get away. They got dragged down to the dock regardless and kept locked up in a building on-site. At least the people who go voluntarily make it home, sometimes. The full-bloods don’t make a habit of draining the workers, but there are accidents,” Alaric said with resignation.
“You’re right. For now, it’s safer to go with the full-bloods. I’ll think of something to get you out of this,” Sol said, reaching down to correct the chair. He sat down while rubbing his hand over his face in frustration.