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Monday, 5 January 2009

The Rising - Chapter 81: Picking Thoughts

Silence washed over the lair as the Lord Chancellor stepped inside the entrance hall. He turned to one of his protectors, the bodyguard who had let his thoughts betray him on board the plane, and muttered just two words to him in a voice that was almost too low to hear.

Ten minutes.’

The bodyguard stepped back onto the wooden platform outside the main doors and jumped far into the air, disappearing into the sky above.

Ten minutes was longer than the Lord Chancellor usually spent with any clan. He hardly ever ventured outside his secure compound and when he did, everyone worked hard to get him back there as soon as they could. No one was sure exactly how old he was but he was widely regarded as the oldest vampire in the world and he didn’t reach whatever age he was by inviting assassination attempts by staying out in the open.

High above the lair, the bodyguard rose out of the chasm and unclipped a radio from his belt. ‘Ten minutes, but be ready in five,’ he said into the radio.

Understood,’ was the crackly reply.

He returned the radio to his belt and flipped his body over, free falling headfirst back into the chasm. His feet hit the wooden platform with a thump, crouching to take the impact of his dramatic landing. He got to his feet and stepped inside the entrance hall. Resident vampires closed the large wooden doors behind him.

The Lord Chancellor stood in silence opposite Marcus and Roxy, who were doing their best to hide the fear that gripped them from head to toe. He raised a white, shrivelled hand. The resident vampires followed the lead of bodyguards and filed out of the hall into an adjoining chamber.

Marcus and Roxy were alone with the Lord Chancellor. The torches on the wall and the roaring fireplace did nothing to combat the deep cold they felt on their skin. The hairs on the back of their necks stood to attention as the Lord Chancellor took a step forward. Never in the centuries of their existence had they felt fear as pure as the feeling that was making them quiver involuntarily.

Marcus opened his mouth to speak but the figure approaching him stuck a finger out from beneath his robes, pointing directly at Marcus’ face.

The black robes flowed all the way to the ground, obscuring the Lord Chancellor’s feet, so that he appeared to slide across the floor. He stopped almost toe-to-toe with Marcus. Face to face at long last with his leader, the one man he respected almost as much as he feared, Marcus was frozen to the spot. Even though they were just inches apart, Marcus saw nothing but shadows beneath the robes.

But he felt something.

He’s in my mind.

The Lord Chancellor was motionless, but Marcus could tell he was using every ounce of strength to delve into the depths of his mind. He wanted to know about what happened to Luca, his deputy who Marcus had murdered, and he was going to dig as deeply into Marcus’ mind as he could to get what he wanted.

Is this it?

Is this the end?

Is he going to kill me?

But Marcus had murdered Luca with good reason. Luca was nothing more than a brown-nose who threatened to screw up the plans Marcus and Roxy had intricately planned. The plans that would bring the vampires towards their rightful place as rulers over the humans.

The Rising.

With that final thought, the Lord Chancellor took a step back. He turned to Roxy and stared deep into her eyes, picking memories from her mind with the ease of picking low-hanging apples from a tree. Within seconds, he was finished with Roxy. As he turned away from his subjects, his bodyguards left the chamber and followed him towards the main doors.

Roxy and Marcus looked at each other with confusion painted all over their faces. The trailing bodyguard stopped and turned to face them.

The Lord Chancellor wishes to thank you for your hospitality. It is with regret that he must leave your home as quickly as he arrived. He knows that you did what you did for good reason. You are both true believers in the cause and he wants you to know that he is very happy for you to take the lead in these early stages of the Rising. He wishes you all the best for your operation tonight. You can expect to hear from him again following its success.’

Two bodyguards opened the wooden doors. One by one, the group of visitors leapt into the air and disappeared from view. Marcus and Roxy looked at each other and didn’t need to read each other’s minds to know what they were thinking.

Luca deserved to die. If we hadn’t killed him, this never would have been possible.

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