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TVC II Supplemental Chapter 8 - The Initiate

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#26
"Good!" Helena exclaimed happily and clapped her hands together, eminently pleased with her own efficient tutoring. Now that she and her servant were both properly seated Helena looked over to Nicoletto. When she saw that his eyes were on the pages of the book he was holding she decided to wait for him to put it down, but after only a short moment of silence Helena's curiosity got the better of her.

"What are you reading, Nicoletto?" she asked him, leaning forwards to the edge of her seat in anticipation. Nicoletto was a learned man so she knew that this could be interesting.
 

Get of W'soran

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#27
Nicoletto raised an eyebrow. "Done already then?" he asked dryly before smiling slightly to show he was joking.

At Helena's question he shook his head "The book? Just filled my rambles, nothing interesting." he assured her, the vampire spun the book around so that the two vampiresses could see the pages, they where covered in scribbled mathematical equations with a few sketches of swordsmen, some of the sketches where only an arm and the hand holding the sword with angles marked at each bend. "It's just something I've been playing with, Altdorf has gotten awfully boring since the war."

He give an apologetic smile for it not being more interesting.

A moment later there was a polite knock on the door and a few seconds later it swung open as two attractive mortals entered, a man and woman, carrying three golden goblets filled with warm blood.

"Ah refreshments!" Nicoletto exclaimed happily

The humans set the drinks down and bowed deeply before retreating to the hallway once more leaving the vampires alone.
 

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#28
Helena had been somewhat disappointed that it was a book on fencing and other martial pursuits, and one full of complicated text at that. While she was technically a student of combat herself it was not an academic subject that interested her very much, though she always enjoyed looking at the illustrations.

Feeling a slight thirst after the recents events Helena reached out for one of the cups and drew an audible sip from it. "You may help yourself, servant girl" she said to Elanor, again in her mentoring tone, as she reclined back into the chair with the cup in her hand. She drew another sip from it, smacking her lips to savour the taste. A sense of warm familiarity suddenly found its way into Helena's mind and she sunk a little further into her seat. Her friend's company, the warm blood, the crackling fire and her living trophy sitting right beside her made Helena feel quite content despite the stressful nature of these past nights. She made an unvocalized sound of satisfaction before again sipping from the cup.

"For how long have you been here in Altdorf, Nicoletto?" Helena finally said. "And why do you have a house such as this here? Is this where you live now?"
 

Get of W'soran

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#29
A momentary tightening of Nicoletto's mouth was the only sign of his continued dissatisfaction with Helena's behaviour in regards to Elanor.

The Tilean smiled at Helena's question. "I have been in the Empire for Eight years, here in the Capital for four...nearly five years" he told her "As to this house..."

Nicoletto stood, his expression changed to one of icy disdain as he looked down his nose at the vampiress's "Of course I, Lord Antonio Falconetto, would own a home of such beauty and grace..." the vampire paused, pressing a hand to his chest as his expression turned to one of a man in pain "Fleeing from my land's invasion and enslavement by the Unholy Bloodsucking Demons of Sylvania I have found refugee in this kind city." he give a sad smile "The kind charitable men of the Empire took me, and my money, into their City...they allowed me to purchase this fine manor and have been quite welcoming at court, disappointingly to them however I am a reserved...somewhat eccentric man, although "What do you expect of a Tilean?" they say. And I do not like leaving my home too often...but I do host small events and have been lucky enough to meet many fine leaders of the Empire."

Nicoletto grinned suddenly, dropping back into his seat "And I have a different identity in each Major Imperial City, well the ones that are still Imperial except Nuln...sadly it's a lot more stressful and difficult to get by as a vampire in the City since you von Carsteins started kicking up a fuss by taking over the world." he joked.

"And the Sisterhood" Nicoletto spat the word with disgust "are getting more interferring as the days go by...they've yet to discover me due to suffering certain...mishaps with their coven members but they're getting closer every day."

Nicoletto briefly made eye contact with Elanor as he give a chilling smile "But I have a plan to deal with that particular problem."
 

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#30
Helena had listened intently to her friend's summary of his recent life and she giggled at his pompous bearing, which was something she had always liked about Nicoletto. His dramatic carriage was so detached from what was normally encountered on this side of the Grey Mountains. The little quip against the family didn't sit too well with Helena, though.

"Given the power our family now again possesses it is only fit that we get to rule the Empire", she said in a serious tone. "I remember how much uncle Vlad would talk about the rule he would impose and how it would be better for all, both living and dead."
 

Get of W'soran

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#31
Nicoletto smiled faintly and held up four fingers.

"Perhaps my dear however that didn't work out too well for old Vlad...not only did he get himself killed by an old man on a wall but got dozens, perhaps hundreds, of us slaughtered on the walls of Altdorf." the Lahmian said with a smirk "Still Simon brought him back to fight Nagash and all that so dead isn't really dead for us is it."

The vampire leant back in his chair and folded away one of his fingers. "Then Konrad came along and made things even worst with his mad nonsense. The idiot managed to irreversibly damage your bloodline by leaving mostly only thin-bloods around after butchering his brothers."

Folding another finger he continued "Then we have Mannfred. Mindless puppet to Nagash who gets himself killed, comes back, then killed again."

With one finger remaining he added. "Now we have the Triumvirate who have outdone all three in a measly ten years."

The vampire chuckled "After how much harder your family has made it for our kind to simply survive it's good Sylvania is finally getting it's act together again."

Nicoletto closed his eyes "Perhaps they can make things better...an Immortal and sustainable government...no power struggles...the living and dead surviving side-by-side in peace. Together standing strong against the evil in this world..."

The fencing master grinned "Or maybe history will repeat itself. Betrayal and murder will follow. The Triumvirate's work will be undone by their own underlings and I'll have to go into hiding again."

Lifting his glass the vampire took another drink "I suppose we'll just have to have faith."
 

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#32
Helena followed Nicoletto's folding-fingers-led explanation of his thoughts on the fate of Helena's family but it wasn't until after he had finished that what he had said hit her. She sat in her seat quite silent, her expression blank.

"Uncle Vlad was... brought back?" she said in stunned amazement. "When? How? Where is he now?!"

If she could find her beloved uncle Vlad Helena knew that he would surely be able to get her out of all her predicaments.
 
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Get of W'soran

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#33
Nicoletto tilted his head. "I keep forgetting how little you've been informed." he admitted.

The vampire took a drink, thinking about his answer before giving it. "Ah...dead I think. I wasn't present at the time but apparently Simon found a way to bring him back to fight against Nagash but once the battle started he was foolish enough to try and take on the Great Necromancer alone and got himself disintegrated." Nicoletto grimaced slightly at the retelling "I hear it put Karl into a bit of a frenzy, he ended up trying to attack Nagash himself in revenge with Akarin, that's how the old assassin got himself killed."
 

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#34
Hearing of her uncle's new demise made Helena's eyes tear up once more, although she managed to stop herself from breaking out into crying again. It sounded like Vlad had still been the heroic figure that Helena had always known him as.

"Will he return? Will he come back to lead our family in this difficult period?" she questioned from Nicoletto, her voice trembling slightly with much anticipation.
 

Get of W'soran

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#35
Nicoletto frowned darkly into his drink. "Lead us? When has that man's leadership ever amounted to more than death and disappointment...better the Triumvirate remain in charge." he muttered.

Blinking the Tilean shook his head "Ah what do I know? I'm just an incredibly good looking fencing master." he joked with a half smile at the two vampiress'

Taking a drink Nicoletto looked at Helena "Simon keeps saying that Vlad is Vashanesh and that he is a God. Perhaps that means the First Count is still alive somewhere? Perhaps he's just got other concerns right now?"
 

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#36
"Yes, perhaps that's right..." Helena said in a slow and dreamy manner, her eyes going unfocused and vacant as she lost herself in thoughts about her beloved uncle and how he might have transcended even the immortality of undeath. She had hoped dearly that she would get to see Vlad again some day and from what Nicoletto had told her it seemed a lot more possible than she would have imagined.

There was a moment of silence as Helena remained inside her own thoughts and Nicoletto tended to his drink.

"Nicoletto?" Helena suddenly asked. "Do we know how Konrad died? No one has tried to bring him back, have they?" she said with a tone of anxiety in her voice. There was one thing that sullied the rosy memories Helena had of her days at the old court and it was the blackness of Konrad's malice. Seeing him again would be about the last thing she wanted.
 

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#37
Nicoletto broke into laughter "Konrad died like a fool. I was told that he angered his Necromancer's who decided to have a little revenge and ran off leaving him in control of tens of thousands of undead, the strain of which shattered the madman's already shaky mind. So then, drooling like the idiot he was, Konrad wandered off into the forest and got killed by a dwarf and human."

The Lahmian took another sip of blood "Died like the trash he was."

Nicoletto smiled "His greatest contribution to the world was giving Mannfred the ability to unite vampires by campaigning the fact that he was not Konrad."

He paused before adding "And of course no one wants to bring him back, not even his own mad spawn."
 

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#38
Hearing of Konrad's fate brought Helena much joy and a devilish smile to her face. There was no one she had ever known who had deserved death and oblivion as much as him.

"If only I had known that he was destroyed I could have rejoined the family so much sooner..." Helena said sadly, but she knew exactly why it had turned out that way. She had been too scared of Konrad to spy on Sylvania even from such a great distance until several centuries later, fearing that he would find her and come after her again.

"Nicoletto, please tell me what happened next. How did our family rebuild Sylvania?" she asked her friend with much curiosity. Nicoletto began his recalling of Mannfred's first steps towards reclaiming the land and he had Helena's undivided attention, keeping her on the edge of her seat with his dramatic story telling.

And so time passed and the conversation went on. Nicoletto described the return of the von Carstein family following the beast's fall and how the triumvirate was formed and how it structured the ruling of Sylvania in a way that had never been seen before. He also told Helena of his own retreat after the defeat at Altdorf and how he subsequently found his way back; she in return told him of her self-imposed exile to the north and what she had seen and learned there, so far beyond the borders of homely Sylvania. Nicoletto was careful not to reveal any unduly sensitive details since Elanor was also present, mostly silent though she was, but the atmosphere was still warm and familiar with several cups of blood being emptied between the three.

Eventually it appeared that Helena and Nicoletto had covered most of the span of time from the old days up to the present time and so the dialogue turned towards the future and what it could hold.
 

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#39
With the twos' many stories behind them Helena was starting to look a little matte as she was slouching in her seat. While the undead didn't suffer from fatigue in the same way as the living do there's still only so much stimulation the mind can take before it'll lose its edge, at least temporarily. If her body still had the compulsion of yawning Helena would have done it now.

"So, Nicoletto..." she said slowly, her eyes lifting from the table and up at Nicoletto. "What do you think will happen when this war is over? When we have conquered the empire and defeated chaos, what will there be left?"
 

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#40
Nicoletto set his empty goblet on the table and leant back in his chair as he considered the question.

"I don't really know to be honest." he answered truthfully "If we defeat the Empire and if we overcome the threat of Chaos...who can say? Perhaps your family will turn it's gaze on the other Human Kingdoms that they have yet to conquer...the dwarf holds...perhaps one day the Island of the elves?"

The Tilean shrugged as if such matters meant nothing to him. "But when the Ascendancy is complete...assuming Karl, Simon and Micrea decide on what that actually means...then perhaps we can have peace."

Nicoletto's forehead creased slightly as he frowned "I don't mean peace as in sitting in a castle feeling safe or hiding in catacombs away from prying eyes. I mean the ability to walk down the street and to not have mortals run away screaming but for them to merely see what we are and accept that...for the living and the dead to forge a new future together under the Triumvirate's leadership." he said softly.

The fencing master laughed and when he spoke his voice returned to it's usual half-mocking and joking tone "Or perhaps, more likely, it'll never be over. Perhaps the wheel will simply turn and we'll have to live it all again...Vlad's fall, Konrad's destruction, Mannfred's failure...whether from the inside or outside perhaps success will be the von Carstein family's undoing once more. Killed by mortal enemy or betrayed by immortal brethren."

Nicoletto shook his head "I don't know Helena. If all goes well I'll simply return to Drakenhof to teach fencing uninterrupted and perhaps you'll be given some Land from the conquered territories to rule and manage." he paused and tilted his head "What would you like to happen my dear?"
 

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#41
The possible futures outlined by Nicoletto were quite exciting to think about but there was something rising inside Helena. Owning land and holding a high rank at the court was all good but there was an old wish and a desire that she had gradually forgotten about after leaving Sylvania so long ago. Now, centuries later, she could feel it returning.

“…I want to find and marry a husband” Helena said, in a way as if it was a sudden realization to her.

Lost in her own thoughts she continued before there could be a response. “I remember how my old friends used to tell me that if I just waited long enough someone would eventually come around and ask for my hand in marriage.

Helena's expression turned gloomy and she lowered her eyes. “So I waited. I saw how many unions were formed around the court. Some were malicious and told me that I was wasting time and that no man would ever want me while others were kind and said that it was just a matter of time. I waited for so long but no one would come.

Like you” Helena then said after a brief moment of silence, quickly bringing her eyes back up to Nicoletto. The question that followed was both honest and direct.

Why did you never ask me to marry you?
 

Bounce

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#42
Elanor sat quietly, sipping on her crystal glass of blood and listening to Helena and Nicoletto tell tales of the von carstein family. Much of it was news to Elanor. She realised with a shock how little she actually knew about her own people after spending so long masquerading among the humans. She even forgot how much she hated Helena in the nice warmth by the fire. It was a welcome relief from all the horror they had suffered recently. She was shocked though to hear Helena say she wanted to get married. It was hard to imagine the bloodthirsty, childlike being, walking down the aisle of a church.
 

Get of W'soran

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#43
Nicoletto smiled at his student an open expression of adoration, he really had missed the little von Carstein. It was as good a time as any to reveal the news, the Lahmian covertly tapped his ring which pulsed once but the glow was obscured by his hand..

"Do you remember when we first met my dear?" he asked Helena "Vlad asked me to become your instructor shortly after he took you under his wing."

The fencing master chuckled "You were such a fright! One part creature of the night and one part impetuous child in a mix that made one giant pain in my..." he trailed off with a grin. "You were so young, so innocent. You have grown Helena, oh yes not in body to be true, but you've experienced centuries of life but to me you'll always be partially that young girl that I had to help teach to survive."

The Tilean shook his head what he didn't say was that despite having made gets of his own Helena was the only vampire he'd ever considered to be like a child...daughter to him although he didn't realise his speech and expressions made this clear to one who was observant enough.

"Besides with my...experiences...with the Sisterhood you know at the time I was ah...unreceptive to women in general." Nicoletto's gaze shifted as the door opened and his smile became warmer "Luckily for me someone didn't take no for an answer."

Behind his guests a rather tall and beautiful vampiress who's only physical imperfection was a light scar running over her right eye, entered the room. She wore a white dress which perfectly matched the colour of her hair and she looked at the two vampiress's as before resting her bright blue eyes on Helena.

Smiling Lisette von Carstein, former Handmaiden to Isabella and a member of the Drakenhof Templars Inner Circle smiled "Welcome home Helena."
 

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#44
Helena wasn't quite happy with Nicoletto's response to her question and she continued to look at him with expectation. Nicoletto had been one of those who Helena had thought would have come for her hand in marriage during the days of the old court. She remembered sitting in her room and practicing her reaction to when a suitor would finally appear; how she would gasp in surprise and feign a blush as if she couldn't believe that she would ever be chosen by such a good man. Nicoletto spoke of poor experiences with women but Helena was and had always been a proper lady. That was the difference between me and ones like her, Helena thought to herself, shooting a thought to Elanor beside her, I am a lady and thus much more desirable for partnership.

Just as Helena was about to remind Nicoletto of this and question him further she was interrupted by the voice from behind her. Looking back she saw a woman who she swiftly recognized despite the passing of such a length of time.

"Lisette!" Helena exclaimed with surprise as she turned around so that she sat on her knees in the opposite direction from before. This was another fortunate turn of events as she and Lisette had been on good footing throughout their entire time knowing one another.

"What are you doing here?" Helena asked excitedly. "Are you a member of the council as well?"
 
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Get of W'soran

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#45
Lisette give a musical laugh as she crossed the room and hugged the miniature immortal "It's so good to see you again Helena."

Releasing her old friend she smiled fondly at the girl "I'm here to make sure Nicoletto doesn't get himself kill, you know how reckless he can be."

"Pfft please, I'm the the very definition of caution."
the Lahmian interjected.

Ignoring him Lisette continued "I'm part of no Council my dear, I'm too busy with work for the Triumvirate to be...eloping with outsiders although my lovely husband in his infinite wisdom doesn't see that this applies to him also." she added referring to Nicoletto sarcastically.

Rolling his eyes the Tilean shook his head. "She'd be of no use on your mission anyway, Lisette is about as subtle as a hungry Strigoi."

Smirking faintly at the light-hearted mockery Lisette continued "How are you my dear? I had feared the worst after your disappearance, I had thought the blood count had managed to summon some nuance of cunning and had done away with you in silence."
 

Bounce

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#46
"Greetings, uh, Lisette?" Elanor said, rising from her chair and doing graceful curtsy. Everyone seemed to know each other very well. She felt like an outsider, looking through a window at three ravenous wolves, who still hadn't quite decided if she was a wolf as well.
"I am Elanor von Rosenberg, it is a pleasure to meet you."
 

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#47
Lisette looked at Elanor for a moment before giving her a smile and returning her curtsy "Lady Lisette von Carstein or Viggiani when I care to be associated with my Lazy Tilean."

She smiled for a moment before adding "The pleasure is all mine. von Rosenburg? I haven't heard that name before...not a member of the Drakenhof Court nor do I sense the blood of our family...let me guess!" Lisette added with a mischievous grin "Well you don't look like a corpse or a gargoyle so that's Necrarch and Strigoi easily discounted" she said jokingly "And not a Blood Dragon I imagine...you don't have that dull stern expression nor have you mentioned your honour in the last 30 seconds."

"Now you're obviously very beautiful and well mannered, seemingly trained in etiquette and willing to use it so that leaves...Lahmian?"
she asked with a glance at Nicoletto before looking back at Elanor. "Are you with the sisterhood?"

She chuckled "Or did I just insult a member of the Blood Keep?"

Behind Elanor Nicoletto tensed slightly and his eyes focused on the vampiress.
 

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#48
"Servant girl, I do not believe I gave you permission to speak, nor did you ask" Helena reprimanded Elanor. She then turned back to Lisette. "You will have to forgive her. She is my new servant!" Helena said cheerfully. "I won her in a duel!"

"And please," she continued with a confident smile, "the Beast might have been violent and persistent but he was also as dumb as a rock."

"Anyway, I was speaking to Nicoletto about the old days at court and I have asked him why he never proposed to me. Perhaps you can help me make him reconsider?" Helena said with a little laugh.
 

Get of W'soran

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#49
"Won in a duel?" Lisette said with a glance at Nicoletto who shook his head slightly with an exhausted expression.

"Well that's your own business my dear but in our house we treat people like guests. After all a von Carstein should be a true aristocrat and one must always have mannerly graces." the former Handmaiden said with a smile.

She chuckled at Helena's comment on Konrad "You are quite right my dear but I was extremely concerned when you just vanished. I had to teach Konrad a bit of a lesson that I guess he didn't deserve. Oh well...hindsight."

At the last Lisette raised an eyebrow at Nicoletto "You didn't tell her?"

The Tilean shrugged "I thought I had." he said giving his winning smile which had as much effect as usual when Lisette ignored him and walked around the desk to put a hand on his shoulder.

"Nicoletto would never willingly commit to anything so intimate, you should know my dear that your old mentor is a cowardly fellow."

Nicoletto made a noise of protest but Lisette continued over him "It took me years of chasing him before I finally cornered him enough to force him to accept my hand in marriage after-all." she shook her head with a look of exaggerated injury. "Me having to ask? Can you imagine? I mean he must be blind to have ignored such grace and beauty."

Nicoletto snorted and muttered something offensive under his breath.

Clearing her throat softly she tightened her grip on his shoulder "Excuse me my dear?"

The fencing master give a weak grin "Nothing my love!"
 

Bounce

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#50
Turning to Helena Elanor attempted to mask her frustration
"My lady, how can I both ask for permission to speak and not speak without permission at the same time?"

She turned back to Lisette.
"I was brought into the ranks of the undead by a member of the sisterhood, but I have never truly been one of them. I have lived on my own for many long years until I heard about this council and decided to take action."
 
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