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Dark Lords: Book One, Shadows Chapter 22

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I hope you are enjoying Dark Lords, Book one, Shadows. If you like the story please share the link. This work belongs to me, the author, T. Masters-Heinrichs.

 

Twenty-Two

Remains

Castle Cor, New Oxford, Albion, Realm World

 

 

Alex was sitting in the chair next to his bed in Castle Cor. With a sigh, he got up and stretched slowly. His right hand kept trembling. There was weakness through his hips and left leg. The doctors seemed overjoyed at his progress during the last few days. Alex wasn’t.

There might be holes in your mind. The phrase, the words, would not leave his thoughts. Jason’s attempt to lighten the mood, had not. Sitting here in his room at Castle Cor, Alex wondered what the rest of his life would entail. There was no future for  a mechanic who couldn’t fix engines. There was no future for a stock human who couldn’t remember things. He would become a burden to his family. No doubt Mother, without hesitation, would take him. After all, that’s what mothers did.

Alex was still sitting in the large comfortable chair as the sun set. He watched the lights of New Oxford come on. He had to contact the Jules Verne. Had to back out. Twenty years of dreaming … he threw the book across the room. Damn it!

“Smarten up!” He’d said the words aloud. He suddenly heard Jack’s voice asking how long he planned to feel sorry for himself. Alex stood up and picked up the book with his right hand, it only trembled a little. He could almost see his step-father smiling.

Dale was sorting Alex’s wardrobe. If the sudden outburst had surprised him, he was too well trained to have startled. He was brushing the suede coat. Alex sighed, babysitting was more like it. The closing ceremonies were this afternoon. Alex had declined earlier, though he’d been on the guest list. Jason’s words came back to him, “Get off your arse, Treacle Head, you don’t know what you don’t know.”

“Dale?”

“Yes, sir?”

“I think I will go, after all.” Alex got up.

“Very good, sir.”

* * *

 

The Monument of Alexandria, Burning Plain, Albion, Realm World

 

 

Alex got out of the car and just stared. He’d seen the edifice, the monument, from the top of Castle Cor, but he hadn’t realized how expansive it was, nor how intimidating. The huge round building rose out of the top of the hill. It was surrounded by what almost looked like a ship’s twisted metal support ribs.

He could hear a clacking sound accompanied now and then by faint tones. Chimes?

They had been concerned with his coming, even though it was part of his scheduled events, actually he’d gotten out of three days of events. This was the last thing, part of the closing ceremonies. Three times Dani had told him that if he got tired he was to tell her and he’d be taken back to the Castle at once.

The driver had stopped below a rise. To either side of the road rose two black stone obelisks. Cut into them with laser precision were the words in old Earth English explaining the history of this place. At least, that was what Abby had said.

As the driver pulled away, Alex started up the steps. He had only taken one step when George was by his side. At least Abby had moved ahead with Keith. He’d always thought his mother was good at hovering, but these people had it down to an art.

Dale had actually accompanied them to the monument. What did Dale think would  happen, I’ll have a wardrobe malfunction? Alex eyed his Valet’s walking stick, he knew Dale didn’t need it.

“Did you know, this was built in year nine hundred and twelve?” George asked.

“Was the planet habitable then? Atmosphere?” Alex asked.

“For the Vampyre, yes, but all others were still wearing breathers.”

“Really?” Alex felt the tremor in his right hand start and shoved his hand in his pocket. They had been concerned that he wasn’t ready yet, that he didn’t have the strength. It wasn’t strength he lacked, but coordination.

Sunday had been spent with a physiotherapist and a cognitive specialist. His hand eye coordination had been checked and double checked. As had his word recognition and depth perception. He’d gone from 87% to 99.9% in only two days. Everyone was surprised by his recovery. Still, he’d been warned, there might be cognitive ‘holes’ that had yet to surface. And there was the tremor, a sense of weakness that would run through his body. They told him it was part of the healing process, but Jason had eavesdropped and overheard that the doctors had no clue why it was happening. They were also surprised by the amount of cerebral growth. Apparently his brain was on overdrive.

They were nearly to the top of the stairs when the first skull came into view. He stopped, staring at the steel ribs and the trophies hanging from them.

“These are the support ribs of a ship, aren’t they?”

“Yes, the Sol Hunter, Alexandria’s ship. The three founding worlds of the Realm, Avalon, Troth and of course Albion all have pieces of her ship.”

“I thought I heard chimes.” Alex said as the breeze whistled through the various skulls. Some were very hominid, some were from creatures he couldn’t imagine. More than a few were broken.

They walked around the huge round building.

“Are there one of these on each planet?” Alex asked, the small audio guide forgotten on his lapel.

“Yes, each world in the Realm has one, but not the ship pieces.”

Alex listened to George tell of his ancestors actions. He turned, looking at George in shock as he told of his great grand father at the battle of Avalon.

Each skull had a story, each represented a victory from the founding Vampyre families and their Servants. Some of the enemies fought had been Vampyre. Their skulls hung side by side with Lakosh skulls, Burnaku and Drezz-A-Nee.

Surrounding the Monument were more black obelisks. Each represented a ship, it’s name, picture and designation were on the bottom. All crew members, serving staff and support personal were listed along with an etching of their face and whether they had died in service or retired. Alex watched people stop and touch them. Even Abby was subdued.

George had to go off for the closing ceremonies. Dale came to stand beside him. Together they walked up to the monument. Alex hesitated by a hominid skull, like many of them, the upper jaw was broken.

“Seems brutal,” Alex said.

“I am afraid that the desecration was done long after this individual lost their head.” Dale stared at the skull and Alex could feel the anger coming off the man. “Vampyre fangs have become a commodity in and of themselves.”

Alex looked sharply at Dale. Ahead of them Abby and Keith were oblivious to the crowds on the other side of the monument. Keith was pantomiming moves and Abby was happily playing along. There was something familiar yet innocent about them that brought a smile to Alex’s face.

“You mean people break into graves?” Alex asked in a lowered voice.

“Yes, though fangs from a living Vampyre are considered of higher value.”

Abby was giggling at Keith’s words. Alex looked sharply at them, feeling a sudden chill. Dale stepped forward and motioned Alex up the Monument’s stairs.

Entering the Monument, Alex stared at the huge bronze woman. Her eyes seemed to lock on him. He moved his head to the right and then to the left. Yup, she is  definitely watching me, creepy. The effect more than the cool air intensified the chill he’d felt earlier.

Abby and Keith hurried up the steps. Dale put himself deftly between the teenagers and his charge.

“Easy there,” Dale said, “I am not as young as I used to be, Miss and Sir.”

Alex knew by Old Earth, that Dale’s concern was not for himself.

“Sorry, Sir,” both said quickly.

“I promised Alex I would tell him about the Monument.” And Abby proceeded to do just that, at about five times the normal speed of speech.

Abby stopped at the expression on the three men’s faces. “Did I forget anything?”

“Let me see if I got this right,” Alex said. “The skylight is a giant amethyst geode; thrones are brittle; someone named Kolad Kun-Hehrhun lost his crown when a sword fell on it and dogs keep carrying off someone’s heart, so now it’s encased in glass?”

Abby giggled. “Not quite.”

“How about you tell me why the banners keep getting lost?”

“There were thousands of founding families of Vampyre,” Keith cut in.

“But wars, especially the Founding War, have taken their toll.” Abby said, much slower. “Then the Second and Third War were devastating.”

“Wait, back to the Founding War. Okay? When hominids left Old Earth and came to this end of the Verse, the Lakosh went after us? Were we taking their space?”

“No, they were at war with another race and we represented an easy source of food for their troops,” Abby said, playing with a loose strand of her hair. “The early ships thought they were alone in the Universe and were unable to defend themselves.”

“So, the hominids back on Old Earth thought they were alone in the verse, seriously?”

Everyone nodded.

“Okay, what about the Banners? These are the Vampyre families that have survived?”

Abby and Keith shook their heads. “There are only twenty-one full Blood families left on Albion.”

“Oh,” Alex said. Talk about the edge. “And the Lakosh don’t attack the Realm Worlds because they’re afraid of the Vampyre?”

“Yes.” Abby said and Keith nodded. “And not just the Realm Worlds the Core Worlds as well.”

The chill crawled into his chest. Twenty-one families … he thought of the star maps, the generality of them. Alexandria was staring at him, her intensity raising the hairs on his skin. “And what’s the thing with the shield?”

“The Vampyre must honor the Oath of Alexandria. We must honor the meaning of her name. Her name is the feminine version of Alexander. That’s the Oath we have to take. The actual meaning of her name. You must know it, Alex?” Abby asked.

“No. Why?”

“Your name,” Keith said. “Alex is a derivative of Alexander. The short form.”

“Actually my name is Alexis, another obvious derivative. So what does Alexander mean?”

All three turned to look at the statue.

When Abby spoke, her voice was filled with respect. “Alexander means, defender of humankind.”

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