December 10 at 12:00 AM
Photo by Lebin Yuriy
Nervous chatter swirled around Vissorouy's great hall as the meeting got underway. Although more than three hundred chairs had been assembled, not one was empty; even the speakers did not have a place to sit.
Five men stepped through the cherrywood doors, followed by Lord Vangley and his family, before closing behind them. They split off to opposite ends of Melody's casket, the vampires electing to stand closer to three black boxes filled with ashes of their fallen kin.
After a moment, Claude Didier addressed the crowd. "Good evening, members of Vissorouy." His voice was soft and deep. "By now most of you have heard about the tragic loss of Brom Rion, Alexandre Hunt, William Heatherly, and Melody Rose. Before we get started, our founding father would like to speak." He nodded.
"Thank you, Claude." The elder stepped forward. As he walked to the center of the aisle, Olivia and the twins followed, hand in hand. He had expected to find mortals and everlings sitting apart, and proud that they still intermixed. "I was going to start off with an anecdote, but I dare not turn this into more of a funeral than it already is. I too share your anger, your outrage, and disbelief. But first, the burden that is mine.
"Vissorouy is a civilized society; one that defies the odds. We do so because we believe in one another. Vampires and mortals do not kill each other, for if we did, we would no longer exist as a community.
"Dionte and Deverell Vangley may have acted out of desperation, but that does not excuse them from our laws. All that I ask is that listen to the events leading up to this before jumping to conclusions.
Vangley nodded to Olivia, and the four made their way back to the front.
Accusations scorched the hall.
"Murderers," one yelled as they passed by.
"They're going to kill us all!" a lady squealed.
Already Vangley had heard enough and was ready to show the critics that he, too, had teeth. "Do any of you care to know the truth, or do you just intend to believe whatever you hear in the street?"
The noise briefly subsided.
"Tell me how two children bind together their own hands and feet and chain themselves to a fountain?" He tried looking past their scowls. "Someone left them to die, the same one who slaughtered three of our men. They would all be alive if it were not for Enura!"
The doors flew open. A woman in a black veil that extended to the floor walked down the aisle.
"Yes, Enura," Elexis approached Lord Vangley. "Something must be done about her, tonight."
"I understand your sentiment," said Vangley.
"You know nothing." Fangs protruded from her mouth. "That bitch murdered my Alexandre!"
"Our strength is in consensus. The forum will decide how to best deal with her, you can be sure of that."
"Then you do nothing?" she balked.
Lord Vangley saw where this was leading. "Let me go to her first, and seek an explanation."
"No, allow me." Elexis stormed out of the hall. As she exited, more followed until the entire hall trailed behind her.
Lord Vangley grinded his teeth together. "Come."