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prologue: lune de sang

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Comte de Saint Germain is reliable, consistent, and comforting. He speaks so politely. He has these warm, hazel eyes that match his hazel hair, and they look over with a warm gentleness. He holds himself up with assured confidence.

But if the Comte ever had one thing against him, it was this—he always knows more than he lets on.

Today, he orders a feast—a small celebration of sorts; Sebastian, ever-loyal butler, is busy for most of the day preparing the menu. Loaves of bread baked with different herbs; vegetable dishes in all the colors and tastes; meat cooked in that delicious medium doneness; dessert in the forms of small bite-sized cakes; bottles of champagne. One dish each to suit the tastes of every single one of the residents of their grand mansion.

But the mansion is nothing compared to what’s on the other side of those wooden doors. After all, the Louvre is a beautiful museum, and the refined Comte de Saint Germain couldn’t be more thankful that he has access to such a large assortment of art history right outside his door. He doesn’t always go, but when he does, he makes sure to marvel at its history and art.

Today, he knows he has to go.

His cape flutters behind him as he leaves the kitchen, and makes his way through the many doors and rooms of his mansion, footfall gentle on the red carpet.

The cozy smell of a pot of freshly brewed coffee leads its way back to Arthur’s room, where the blue-haired man has tucked himself into sheets and sheets of manuscript. Across the hall, music plays, piano keys tinkling gracefully—Mozart is making his music again; and by the sound of it, something completely new. Two artists who have made their whole lives—and their next—into their art; into making art, and then making even better ones. Both working to outdo their greatest rivals—themselves, and their historical need to prove themselves better than they have ever been.

In the training room, Napoleon narrowly avoids the white tips of his hair from being sliced by the cut of Jean’s sword. They dance like they are choreographed; but the only music is the clang of their swords against each other. Both soldiers, Napoleon and Jean are no mere acquaintances with death. They fight with resolution. In the battlefields they’ve known, there is no vampire or human, there is no woman or man. There is only winner, and loser. Only fighter. They carry their histories with them with their sword’s every swing. They make it seem like play; they make it seem so light. But the swords clang loudly, echoing in the marble walls heavy with their history.

The game room is occupied by Dazai and Isaac; they’re playing a round of chess. Without Arthur—whose only playing style is “victory”—how the game will end still remains a mystery. Not unlike these two, really; Isaac, who has devoted his entire life to science and knowledge, who has kept his heart closed and emotions sorted away into sealed boxes; and Dazai, who refuses to talk about his past, keeping to himself and hiding behind his odd pretenses of entering through windows, refusing doors. There are things they know inside of them they do not wish to speak out loud, lest they turn into reality and come back like haunting ghosts.

When the Comte passes Vincent’s room he hears Theo’s voice as well, two brothers bantering with each other. Theo, the younger one, works as an art dealer, and recently he has been running around town looking for patrons and sponsors for a possible exhibit of Vincent’s paintings. Older brother Vincent has spent the past few weeks taken up his easel from café to street to park to flower fields creating works that would meet the standards of his brother’s critical eye for art. Today, they stand across a newly finished piece, thinking about their past, working towards the future. Two brothers separated by circumstance in their previous lives, brought together by a second chance to make things right—no matter what the cost is to themselves.

Saint Germain does not get to see his last two friends; as Leonardo sits at the other end of the mansion, in the library searching for a book; and across the city, in a distant residence, Shakespeare has begun to pen another tragedy. Like mirrors of each other, they both love to observe their individual objects of interest. Lost in the unraveling of what they do not understand, of what they want to push to its limits to see how far they can go—and they are surely not afraid of restrictions of any sort.

The Comte leaves the mansion with only a whoosh of a cape and the sound of creaking doors, headed out to where fate has to take him; and when he returns, he does not make any mention of earrings, of fateful encounters in the Louvre’s red walls.

In this side of the door, their whole world’s a stage. Overhead, a beautiful crescent moon overlooks all of the players, who have in their many lives played many parts. Like how a drama unravels into a new act, someone from inside the mansion pulls at the curtains to let the moonlight in.

From the other side, two large wooden doors swing open.