Chapter One: An Unlikely Alliance
For centuries the vampires and skinwalkers had been mortal enemies, forever parted by a betrayal which neither could forget. Their war had been truly great and gruesome once, but now it was far less dire. They rarely sought conflict with one another anymore, neither trespassing upon the others’ land. There had been enough death, and at one point it had seemed that both had been destined for self-imposed extinction.
This lull in animosity did not mean friendship, however, simply a necessity to cease constant conflict in order to achieve survival. Now there was a need for a true alliance, if survival was to be maintained. Both species faced a terrible threat, one far greater than vampire had been to skinwalker, and skinwalker to vampire
Michael, Prince of Hell, sat atop his stead and watched the human village be consumed by flames. The night sky was lit up with oranges and reds, intermingled with dancing smoke and the burning stars. He closed his eyes and listened to the screams that echoed through the air. It sounded like a sweet melody, filling his body with heat and power.
He nudged his raven stead, Styx, in the side so that the horse trotted down into the village. Michael wanted to be surrounded by the destruction, not simply observe it from afar. As he entered the blazing village he felt the heat wrap around him. If he had been human he would have begun to sweat, but seen as he was an Angel of Hell, he did not react to the sudden temperature increase.
He watched with detached interest as his troops raped and slaughtered the villagers, women screaming in agony as they were taken on the ground, and men gurgling on their own blood as their throats were ripped out. Styx continued his steady trot through the village, occasionally neighing in pleasure at what he and his Master were witnessing. He stilled when a young woman with long golden hair threw herself at his hooves, and begged his Master to save her from an agonising death. Michael simply cocked his head to the side and watched in mild pleasure as she was dragged away and brutally defiled and murdered by several of his soldiers.
He patted Styx’s smooth head and said, “We have made good progress, Styx. Let us rest for a while.”
Castiel Anastasii Novak was two thousand years old. He had been born a vampire when men still wore animal skins and painted pictures of hunting wild, furry beasts. His birth into the twilight of immortality had grown dim inside of his endless memories, but when he dreamed, which vampires did, he remembered a beautiful, dark haired woman singing to him on the floor of a cave, with snow swirling and wind howling outside. He supposed that she had been his mother, but he could not remember her, as she had left before he reached maturity.
Despite his extreme age, he was not, surprisingly, the oldest vampire who had ever lived. Not by several thousand years, although they did not dare speak of who the father of their race had been. His betrayal was far too great to recount.
In his two thousand years as leader of the vampire tribe, he had never imagined that they would face a greater enemy than the mysterious skinwalkers. Perhaps this rigid way of thinking had been unwise. He had to admit that it had been very short-sighted, indeed. But now he had to make the most of his rather undesirable situation, because although he had lived for two millennia, he most certainly had no intention of dying.
“Brother,” came his younger sibling’s soft voice, rousing him from his thoughts.
He looked up to meet Samandriel’s patient gaze, and he smiled, despite the strain that was evident on his face.
“Yes dearest one?” he asked.
Samandriel blushed slightly and entered the room further before he paused for a moment, and then finally joined Castiel beside the fire.
“I must admit that I am…nervous, Castiel,” he murmured, staring at the dancing flames.
“Nervous?” Castiel repeated. “Why are you nervous, Samandriel?”
His brother finally met his gaze once more, “I know how important it is that I make my new partner happy, and do not want to make a mistake that would jeopardise the alliance.”
Castiel smiled slightly, taking Samandriel’s soft hand in his, “I can sympathise. We have not yet met those who we are to wed, which makes it even more frightening than if we had known our partners for an age. Let us take comfort, however, in the fact that Michel would never have negotiated an alliance with the skinwalkers if it meant that we would be put in harm’s way.”
Samandriel nodded, and replied, “I know, brother. You and Michel are both much wiser than I, and that is why it is not your or his capabilities and judgment which I question, but my own.”
Castiel squeezed his hand reassuringly, “I do not think that it is possible for someone not to love you. You are the kindest and most loving soul that I have ever encountered. I am very confident that you will make your betrothed extremely content.”
“I have heard talk of him, you know,” Samandriel admitted barely above a whisper. “They say that he is very fierce and handsome. Many of the female vampires, despite our long feud with the skinwalkers, envy me for the fact that I am to wed one who is so… virile and striking.”
Castiel observed with affection the way his brother’s blush increased at the use of the word virile, he was a virgin after all.
“Then you should be content with the fact that you shall be joined with one who is capable of such a reputation,” he laughed softly. “I have not heard of my intended, but if his brother has such a character, then I do not doubt that he has one that is equally satisfying.”
“I have heard of your intended as well,” Samandriel replied shyly.
“The women are gossiping quite a lot lately then,” Castiel re-joined, quirking a brow. “You might as well put me out of my misery and let me know the worst of it.”
“His reputation is even fiercer than that of his brother. They say that he killed many in the wars against our kind, and that he has had many lovers, none of which have satisfied him,” Samandriel’s blush somehow increased at this.
“He must be very handsome then,” Castiel mused.
Samandriel nodded once more, “They say that he is beautiful in both animal and human form. One of the woman told me that his eyes are like the forest in the summer.”
Castiel made an impressed sound, “Let us hope that both our intendeds live up to their glorious reputations. Now I think it is time for you to go to bed, dearest. I do not wish for you to be overtired when we enter skinwalker territory tomorrow.”
“Yes, Castiel,” Samandriel said, as he rose from his seat and lightly kissed Castiel on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Castiel replied, letting go of his brother’s hand.
When Samandriel had left, he allowed himself to frown at all that his brother had just told him. Michel had informed him about who their intended were, but he had not bothered to intone any details which he had obviously deemed unnecessary in their current situation. This was not to be a love match after all, but an alliance to guarantee the survival of both species.
Despite this very logical reasoning, Castiel could not entirely rid himself of the small feeling of hope that he felt that his betrothed would partially live up to what Samandriel had told him.
“Dean?” Sam said, as he entered the clearing that his brother stood in. “Why are you out here?”
Dean turned around and smiled slightly, “I’m star gazing.”
Sam rolled his eyes, “Somehow I think that is an obvious lie. You’re thinking about our meeting with our intendeds tomorrow.”
Dean shrugged, “Perhaps. It is rather strange to think that we will be mated to strangers, and not only that, but vampires. They have been our enemies for so long I cannot remember a time before it.”
Sam nodded, “I know, Dean, and I feel uncertain, too, but we must make sacrifices if we are to ensure the survival of our kind.”
“I am aware of that, Sammy,” Dean replied, sighing and running his hand through his hair.
“It’s Sam,” his brother said, rather haughtily, but then his tone softened. “I must admit that I feel more than simply uncertain. I have heard of my betrothed, however.”
Dean frowned, “Really? From who?”
“Jo and Charlie were talking about he and his brother,” Sam confessed. “They say that he is very pure. That he has never been with anyone in an intimate way before. They say that his brothers are very protective of him, because of his very trusting and generous nature.”
“You should feel reassured by that,” Dean smiled. “I think that he sounds very well suited to you.”
Sam blushed, “Do you really think so? I feel like I am not worthy of someone who has earned himself such high praise for his conduct, that even his enemies do not speak ill of him.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Sam. You’ve never been intimate with anyone unless you felt a real connection to them, unlike me, who is content with a warm body for the night.”
“Dean, do not be so unforgiving of yourself. I know that it has not been without great personal strain for you to take over the leadership of our clan since father died.”
Dean absently patted his brother’s shoulder, “Thank you for that. I can always depend on you to forgive me for all my sins.”
Sam lightly squeezed Dean’s arm in return before he spoke, “I have heard of your intended, too. Would you like to hear of him?”
Dean gazed at the moon, silver and distant in the night sky, before he nodded.
“They say that he is a very old vampire, about two thousand years old. He has seen many changes in our land, and that he is a direct descendent of the one who started their species, and whom they do not speak. They also say that he is extremely handsome, like the princes in the distant land where it snows for much of the year. His eyes are like mirrors of the winter sky. He is also very private, and that he has not had many lovers in his lifetime. His most recent having died in the last wars between our kinds.”
Dean sighed, “I suppose he sounds rather impressive. I find now that I feel more apprehensive. I still cannot fully accept that I have promised myself to our enemy.”
“His kind are not really our enemy any more, Dean,” Sam observed quietly. “Afterall the enemy of my enemy is my-”
“Friend,” Dean interjected, turning away. “I think that you should go back to the clan now, Sam. I want to run alone for a while.”
Sam wanted to tell him that he would come with him, but then he thought better of it, “Yes, Dean. I will see you in the morning. Goodnight.”
Sam turned away and made his way back to the others.
Dean took a deep breath of the night air before he shifted into his true form and took off into the forest, his thoughts filled with images of a fair skinned prince with diamond like blue eyes.