Chapter 1: Prologue
Arthur Kirkland was known in the Vampire world as being someone you didn't mess with. He wasn't one of the oldest Vampires- but he was brutal and vicious. He was known for his hot temper, and his habit of not following the orders given to him by the Seethe Mistress. It was because of his supposed insubordination, that Arthur had moved from his home in England, all the way to the United States- no simple move for one of the Undead.
There were rumours, in the Underground, that Arthur had been the pirate Captain Kirkland when he was mortal, and that the reason the Captain- who was known to some as the King Of The Sea, had disappeared was because Arthur had been chosen by his maker, and had fed on his own crew. Of course, Arthur had never confirmed or denied this rumour, though he was well aware of it.
While the name Arthur Kirkland was well known amongst Vampires, it was not one most humans would know. Oh, he was known to the human world as well, don't doubt it. He was simply known by a multitude of names.
Arthur made money off the books he wrote. He'd been writing them for centuries, under various names. A multitude of books, that ranged from fantasy to historical reference books. His many pseudo names were known by Fiction Fans and Historians alike- all wanting to know more about the author behind such great works of prose, and never learning more then the few facts given on the back of the covers.
With age comes many things, Arthur had found. He retained the hot-temper he'd had as a mortal, that he was known for by other vampires, but he had learned many things, and one of them was how to blend. The first step, Arthur learned, to not being found, was not to leave a string of corpses behind you.
It wasn't uncommon for Vampires to keep humans as a sort of pet. Usually, the relationship was rather one sided. The human, enthralled by the vampire, who simply used the mortal for food and protection during the day. To feed a vampire, and keep them well fed- without killing the humans, it could take around five humans. More, if one wanted to be truly safe, though any more than five was bound to draw attention.
There were advantages to being a vampire's feeder. Despite the fact that a feeder was drained of blood, they also received some of the vampire's blood in return. This gave them health, and senses that most could only dream of. If you were lucky, and became the feeder of certain vampires, it also guaranteed a roof over your head, and money for the things you needed.
Sadly, the disadvantages were rather disastrous.
Vampire's blood is an addictive thing, and one must be slowly weened off of it if they are to ever leave their Vampiric host. This is a rare thing, as those who know of Vampires, yet are not vampires or vampire-controlled, are often killed, rather then simply released. There is also the high chance of being turned yourself. For this reason, Vampire's who keep groups of humans with them, are sometimes shunned, or viewed with a certain form of distrust.
Arthur had six humans that lived in his home with him. Mostly they were a gangle of teenagers he'd picked up off the street. He allowed them to live in his house, and he paid for their food, schooling, and anything they might need. In return, they allowed him to feed on them when he needed too, and didn't bother him while he worked.
Though to other vampires, Arthur would be seen as treating his menagerie with a cold, and distant behaviour, the truth was very different.
The English vampire cared very much for his Menagerie. They were family to him, and he made sure they were well taken care of. They were young, but loyal, and they never failed him. They might fight amongst themselves every now and again, and a few of them would rebel once in a while, but they always came back, and settled back into the house they'd come to know as home.
They all had lives of their own, with Arthur the tie that held them together.
And these are their stories.
Chapter 2: Child of the Nile
The man's eyes glowed in the dark, a green so bright, so vivid, that it entranced the young boy.
July 24th, 1999
There has never been a shortage of orphans in the world. There is always something that kills parents, and leaves children on their own. War, famine, disease, the cruelty of men.
There are abandoned and homeless children to be found in every city, in every country in the world- one simply must know where to find them. Nowadays, people work harder to keep track of those without homes. But there is always some child that simply slips through the cracks, and is left on their own.
Gupta was only six years old. His parents had died a year before, though he wasn't sure how. It was a struggled to find food, and clean water, clothes, and shelter at night. He was small, and fragile, frighteningly thin. To most, he was just one of many, another small face pleading for food or help, when there was little to go around.
He was still looking for a place to stay that night. Dizzy with hunger, and cold in the chill of the night, walking with one hand pressed against the make shift homes that littered the area. They were little more then tents or ill-fashioned shacks, but they were places with families inside. He sometimes wondered if he could slip inside unnoticed, and spend one night not alone, but he never tried. It was best not to risk it.
So he searched for somewhere else to sleep. Some place he hoped he wouldn't be bothered until he woke in the morning.
The man came out of no where. He just appeared a few feet ahead. His head held high, and a long dark cloak that fell down almost to the ground.
Gupta, frightened by the man's sudden appearance, stumbled back and nearly fell. The commotion he cased drew the odd man's attention, and soon their gazes were locked. The man's eyes glowed in the dark, a green so bright, so vivid, that it entranced the young boy. He'd never seen such a colour. The man stepped towards him, and at first Gupta thought he meant to hurt him. The young boy flinched instinctively, bracing himself for a blow that never came.
When he opened his eyes and looked up again, the man had stilled and was looking around, as though he'd heard something to worry about. Moments later, Gupta found himself swooped up off the ground, held in the man's arms, and moving at a speed the six year old hadn't know was possible for a human. All he could do was clutch at the man's cloak, and close his eyes, fearing for the worst.
Moments passed and they didn't stop moving, though he found himself resigning to whatever fate might bestow on him. He focused on the feel of being held, something he'd not felt in so long- it was hard to remember his mother's touch, he couldn't remember his father's at all. The odd green eyed man's cloak was soft in his small hands, and it smelled like something sweet and warm. But the hand that touched his leg was cold beneath the glove, and the way it held him close to the man's chest, was unnerving. There was no heartbeat to be heard.
When they stopped, they were far from where they'd been. Deep into the city, where tourists often stayed while visiting from other countries, come to see the remains of Ancient Egypt, and oblivious to the world hidden from them. He'd been here only once before. When he was so small he could hardly walk. When he had clean clothes, and warm food to eat, and a mother who used to sing to him, and tell him stories.
Clutching at the man's cloak, Gupta closed his eyes, and tried not to remember those things. They were so sad, and it hurt to think of them. To remember what he'd had, and could not longer hope to grasp. The arm around him lifted him higher, and the other lifted to rub his back. The man spoke, his words were English, and far from the young Egyptian's ability to understand, but they were spoken in a voice that was deep and warm, soothing.
He looked up again, and this time, those green eyes were warm, and soft, bringing with them a wave of comfort, and the blissful dreamless sleep that Gupta often hoped for, but rarely managed to get.
Several hours passed before Gupta woke again, and he was certain he would wake to find it had been a dream. That he was asleep on the ground somewhere, cold, and hungry. But, when he opened his eyes, what he saw was not the world he'd grown to expect. It was one he'd never thought he'd see again.
The bed he was laying in was soft, and the blankets tucked around him were crisp and clean. The bed itself was large, it could have easily fit four adults, yet it held only him. The walls of the room were a pale off white, and the furniture that filled it looked new, polished cherry wood and plush seats. A large TV stood on top of the dresser across from the bed, it's screen black. Just too the side of the dresser was a door, light spilled from within it, and the sound of water running broke the silence of the room.
Climbing out from under the covers, Gupta scooted to the end of the bed, and slid off of it, his bare feet making no noise as they touched the ground. He took a moment to look around for the door that would let him leave the room, but when he reached it, he paused. Could anything really be as bad as living like he had been? Could anything the man that brought him here, really be so bad as to make him wish to live on the streets again?
“I see you're awake.”
The words meant nothing to the small boy, who had only once in his life heard English, and that was so long ago he couldn't remember; but the sound of another's voice made him jump, and turned around to face the man from before. Here in the room, shadowed by the light from the bathroom, the man's eyes still glowed that unnatural green. His cloak was forgotten, and the body silhouetted in light was slender and lean, though still so terrifyingly tall to someone as small as Gupta was.
The man was wiping his hands with a towel, and he moved forward, continuing to speak. His voice was soft, and quiet, like how one would speak to a frightened animal, “Are you hungry? You're so thin, come over here, and you can get something to eat.”
The man moved to a small table in the middle of the room, not far from Gupta, and lifted the lid off a silver tray. The smell of food filled the room. It made the little boy's mouth water, and his stomach growl.
“It's alright, come now, aren't you hungry, Lad?”
As afraid of the man as he was, Gupta could not remember what he'd last eaten, and could only resist the temptation of food for so long. He edged his way around, so that he never once showed his back to the odd man, and scrambled up into a seat. The food on the plate was unfamiliar, but it still smelled so good, and he couldn't resist reaching forward to pick up the first thing his hand could reach, and popping it into his mouth. He ate quickly, as though afraid that the food would disappear, should he stop to even breathe. He was afraid it would be taken from him.
The man sat down in the chair opposite him, and watched him silently, hands resting on the table, one on top of the other. His lips quirked up in a smile, and it was only after Gupta could eat no more, that he spoke again, “I did not mean to frighten you last night,”
Gupta blinked at him, suddenly feeling sleepy again. He felt warm, and full, and somehow safe.
“And I mean you no harm, but it seems you were all alone there, weren't you?”
His eyes were getting harder and harder to keep open, and he could only rub at them as the man stood up. Around the table the man walked, and he lifted the tired boy back into his arms, cradling him like a mother would her child.
“I've been alone for quite some time myself.” The man said, and Gupta, still not able to understand his words, melted into the soft tone they were spoken with. The longing behind them, that loneliness that a six year old shouldn't know, but that the Egyptian recognized all to well. “Perhaps, we can help each other with that?”
Gupta nodded off there, folding into the soft touch, and warm words. Missing the almost loving smile the man gave him, and how he was carried across the room, and laid on the bed, covered up again.