Smoke was filling the room and more soldiers rushed in, wasting no time in attacking them. They knew who he was, Raenef realized as the soldiers zoned in on him. Not that he was hard to mistake with his long white hair and blue streaks courtesy of his Methuselah Pureblood heritage.

He was aware his brothers were somewhere behind him, fighting off their own assailants, and he had to admit; Quintus’ men were smart. They’d managed to drive them apart; easier to pick off that way. A quick glance over his shoulder told him that Eclipse and Feilon at least had managed to stay together. 

There was no more time for contemplation as several soldiers were upon him. They weren’t the finest of veterans, but their sheer numbers and tenacity to attack—driven by the hard orders from their Master if the telltale blankness in their eyes was anything to go by—made them dangerous. He grabbed hold of the nearest one, sending his Mana through the man’s body, instantly killing him by tearing the very cells in his body apart. But the others weren’t backing off in fear as he’d hoped. 

They are controlled by Quintus, their natural reaction is way off.

They came at him from three sides, swords raised, blank looks in their eyes. These were not the coordinated attacks one expected to see from weathered soldiers. 

Not the attacks we have been trained to defend from. Raenef was defending himself the best he could, but he was losing ground. Killing a second one with his Mana, this one too was quickly replaced with another soldier, and the draining of Mana started to wear him down. 

 

Raenef focused on keeping them off him when a hoarse scream from behind him sounded over the clanking of steel on steel. 

“LOOK OUT!” 

Instinctively Raenef turned around, coming face to face with yet another soldier coming for him, sword drawn and inches away from his unprotected back had he not turned around. Caught off guard, and his own sword occupied blocking the other attackers, Raenef’s eyes widened in horror at the quickly approaching soldier—Or rather, boy. He wasn’t like the other soldiers; this was a mere slave, not even given armor or a decent weapon. What was odder still, was the terror in the boy’s beautiful red eyes. He doesn’t want to hurt me. That’s why he warned me. He’s fighting his Master’s orders to protect me? 

Wanting to save him or not, the boy couldn’t deny the hard order given by his Master, and the sword coming for him attested to that. With his hands occupied, Raenef kicked the boy in the chest, sending him flying into a wall where he crumbled into a heap on the floor. The boy’s blade missing him by mere inches. 

Adrenaline spiking with the close encounter to death, Raenef had no time to dwell on the boy, as his other opponents kept coming at him. Refocusing on them, he soon forgot him. 

 

***

 

“We did it?” Raenef said a little surprised when he watched as Eclipse withdrew his sword from Quintus’ dead chest. He was swaying on his feet, needing to lean on his sword to keep his balance. 

People were running in the corridors leading to the chamber they were in but Raenef knew that the Makhai, their Clan’s bodyguards, had the entrance secured. 

Hands were gripping him tightly, shaking him out of his thoughts and he looked straight into Feilon’s worried face. Feilon was their personal Makhai, lover, and best friend since childhood. Both twins considered him their older brother. 

“Are you okay?” Feilon repeated.

Raenef blinked. “I think so. You?” 

Feilon nodded and looked down his torn and blood-soaked clothes. “Pretty much. Most of it isn’t mine. Eclipse doesn’t look too well though.” 

 

As on cue, Eclipse, Raenef’s identical twin brother if not for the different hair color, walked over; Swaying on his feet and with a grayish tone to his skin that had nothing to do with the lighting in the room. 

Feilon was barely in time to catch him as he keeled over.

“I got him! Silas will be happy,” Eclipse said with a goofy grin on his face. Silas was Eclipse’s fledgling and had every reason for wanting Quintus dead. Eclipse promised him he would do everything in his power to make that happen. He always came through on his promises.

“Good for you, now hold still, you idiot,” Raenef said,  hands already pushing Mana into his twin’s body. As a Water Elemental, he could use his Mana, or life energy, to manipulate water on a molecular level. Since people consisted mostly of water, he could tear them apart or heal most wounds, depending on his mood.

His brother had sustained several serious wounds, and Raenef was sure he didn’t have enough Mana left in him to heal them completely. He looked up to Feilon, who nodded in return and called for a medic over his shoulder. 

After several tense minutes of healing, Eclipse insisted he was fine, brushing his twin away. Sensing he was out of danger at least, Raenef let the medics bandage the worst of his twin’s wounds. But Eclipse pushed them away soon afterward too and ordered them to look after the other wounded first.

“He’ll live,” Raenef said when Feilon was about to object. “He won’t be smiling when the adrenaline wears off though,” he added with a smirk.

“You’re cruel,” Feilon said, but couldn’t help but laugh. “Let’s get out of here. The fort is secured, the Praetorians will clean the place out soon. You two need to get to a medic—no, don’t even bother,” Feilon said in his big brother voice when the twins started to object.

 

***

 

The Elders had declared war on the Lucretia Clan, a powerful Pureblood Clan. Having signed the treaty, the Himura Clan had been ordered to fight on behalf of the Elders, along with many other Clans. It had been a short, but fierce battle.

 

They were making their way back out of the fort, taking stock of the injured and making sure their wounded Clan members got the medical help they needed. Raenef just finished healing one of their Makhai when he heard another person groaning nearby. He looked up as his eye caught movement to his left. 

The room was littered with the bodies of Quintus’s slaves. They’d instantly died when their Master had. But one of them wasn’t quite dead yet. Raenef walked over, intent on relieving the slave of his suffering, when he recognized it to be the boy who could have killed him if he hadn’t warned him first. 

He sat on his haunches in front of him, stroking the shaggy hair from his face. Large red eyes looked up at him from a dirty, but otherwise beautiful face. Blood was bubbling up from his lungs, and he was minutes away from dying. Raenef knew he ought to end his suffering, but there was something in the boy’s eyes that made him hesitate. 

“I’m Raenef. We ran into each other earlier, didn’t we? You saved my life…” 

The boy looked at him and nodded.

Something deep inside of Raenef stirred. Something he thought had died with Raziel. “Your Master is dead. And you are dying,” Raenef said, not one to sugar-coat things. “I could end your pain. Or… I can save your life. I can make you mine. I will look after you for as long as we’ll live.” Raenef didn’t know where the words came from. Was he really offering the boy to become his fledgling? Apart from the taboo on turning another Methuselah’s slave, it would bind them together in the most direct of ways. Was he willing to take that risk? After what had happened with Raziel? But he realized he had meant every word once they had spilled from his lips. He was willing to take that risk. Everything to keep that spark of life in those big red eyes alive.

 

The boy was coughing up more blood. Life fading fast from those enchanting eyes. The medic in him knew he was too far gone to speak, lungs filling up with blood. Taking a deep breath, apologizing to his Clan and his ancestors for what he was about to do, he cut his own wrist till it bled and held it out to the boy in front of him.

“If your answer is yes, if you want to become mine, then drink and it shall be done,” Raenef said. 

The boy looked from the blood offered, to the white-haired vampire offering it to him and back. Tentatively started to lick the blood from Raenef’s wrist. Raenef sighed a breath of relief as the boy made his choice. Gently stroking the boy’s hair as he fed, he mumbled the spell that would make him his, and seal their faiths together.