Pulling up to his home, Malachai couldn't help but feel a little sad that he won't be living here anymore. It helped, though, to think of the fact that he'll be moving in with the love of his life, who was only a foot away. As his reading his mind, Julius said, “ Things will be a lot easier once you're living with me, along with some of my group.” Malachai smiled at this, and said, “ You always know what to say, as if you can read my mind...” Julius laughed, “ I can't anymore, but when you were mortal I could. Mind reading is another handy skill we Vampires have, but one needs plenty of practice to keep from being discovered by the target.”
Thinking about the possibilities of such a skill, the pair got out of the car, and headed inside the house, locking the door behind them. Once the place was properly lit, they surveyed the contents, starting with the easiest to part with, the furniture. The only piece that they decided to keep was a family heirloom, an antique china cabinet from Malachai's mother's side of the family. Once that was taken care of, the small stuff was fairly simple to narrow down. They decided to move the handful of questionable boxes to the basement, since it was pitch-black even on the brightest day, capable of keeping Malachai safe during the day that quickly approached.
Once settled, Malachai started slowly going through each box, setting aside the stuff he no longer needed. While he was doing this Julius began, “ Before we get to my home, I'd like to explain, in more detail, the system we Vampires abide by. We are in groups, called clans, with a military-ish ranking system. I'm the leader of my clan, and I have the rank of Patriarch. My second in command, going by Assistant Patriarch, is Vlad. Yap is one of Vlad's three Generals, under him are five Captains, who are each in control of ten Commanding Officers. The rest are Soldiers and Minions, fulfilling any and all menial roles passed-down to them. Ranking is firstly based on age, and then on ability and battle prowess.
There's also a separate ranking system for mages, based on skill. The highest rank is High Mage, who are responsible for the creation of powerful weapons, and our rings. We currently only have two High Mages, and most clans have only five at the most. Below them are Master Mages, who mainly help train those of lower rank. Next are Expert Mages and Intermediate mages, and finally Apprentices, which are rare. Apprentices are usually those who had potential when alive, or were close to death from an incurable disease.
Finally, each clan holds claim to a different area of land, determined by the size and age of the clan itself. My clan controls most of the south-east, and is one of seven in the country. The seventh clan is only fifty or so years old, controlling only the state of Florida and part of Georgia. Since it's so young it can't attend yet, but myself and the other five leaders hold elder councils occasionally, for clan and country related issues. We console with the president on major issues, having some sway over him. We're under agreement not to 'Glamour' him, which is mind control. Now, we should take a break, and get some rest. It's a good thing there was a spare bed down here.”
After a satisfying 'nights' sleep, Malachai finished with the last couple boxes, and then started loading up what he was keeping in his car. While he did this, Julius stayed inside, making arrangements with someone to have the house cleaned up, and put on the market to be sold. Once things were in order, and the china cabinet was loaded into a truck that was just for it, everyone started towards Julius' place, with Malachai riding shotgun to make getting there easier. It turned out to be an hour drive north, well into the woods. The only things up here are castles....Malachai thought, does Julius live in a castle!?? At that he couldn't help giggling a little, at which Julius just laughed.
Malachai's suspicions became reality when, after turning onto a private drive, the road became steeper, ending at what looked to be a river. It turned out to be a moat, over which a bridge was soon lowered, allowing them to cross over. Once on the other side, an immense shape materialized out of the dark, barely visible in the headlights from the two vehicles, but unmistakable. They eventually stopped in front of a set of big double doors, and everyone exited their respective vehicles. When Malachai moved toward the back door of his car, Julius said, “ Don't worry about anything, I'll send people out to bring your stuff in. Let's head in and have dinner, everyone should be ready and waiting for us.”
The inside of the castle was well lit, a surprising fact considering there seemed to be only torches lining the walls. A short way down the main hallway, a second, smaller set of doors open outward, revealing a big dining hall, with a giant table in the middle, at which only a few people sat. Only two of them were familiar, being the sexy tiger Vlad, and the hulking Yap. OF the rest, a pair sat at the opposite end from Vlad, in heated discussion. The last, lone individual, seemed to become quite rigid when Julius walked in, as if they weren't on the friendliest of terms. Not daring to mention this just yet, Malachai headed toward Vlad, waiting to sit when Julius did, who took the end seat, the seat on his right hand side the only one open.
Vlad sat opposite him, with Yap next to him. After the waiter arrived, took their orders, and went on his way, Julius said, “ Of course, you know our two friends here. The two chatting partway down the table from us are our two High Mages, John And Daniel. I'll formerly introduce you later, during the ring fitting after your initiation test is complete. The bundle of joy at the opposite end of the table is Dac Kien another of Vlad's Generals. He's also a pseudo-adviser of mine, even though he can be a tad depressing at times. Don't take most of what he says seriously, and don't disrespect him. Anyway, after dinner we'll get you ready for the test, which will happen tomorrow, since we don't have enough time before the sun comes up.” At that dinner arrived, briefly silencing any and all conversation.