The messenger shows with more than enough Brothers to help take the scavenged weapons. He looks at me. “Keep the arrows to replenish your own stores. Our weapons maker will make arrows for us.”
I half-way smile. “Ok.”
He smiles. “Here is the list you requested from us.” He hands me a piece of parchment that is rolled up. “Take care how you speak to most of these. They are the highest ranking of the Firstlings, and Doravenour would be your best bet in finding these. They have hidden for a reason. They are hunted by the Fallen. Be careful that you do not lead anyone to them.”
I nod. “I understand. I will not seek them out until I have successfully spread the fear of God throughout the ranks of the Fallen. Can I get a list of those as well?”
He nods, then looks at the girls. “And these?”
I look back. “They have sworn to help me until I deliver them personally to the convent.”
He chuckles. “Very well. Train them well. The Sisters are eager to see how lethal your teachings are. Fare you well, Cris. Until we meet again.”
I smile and nod. “Until we meet again.”
I watch them remove the spoils of war and disappear into the night. I sit under the tree and gaze at the rolled up list. When he delivers the second list, I will have something to hunt by. I smile. The damned will surely have something to fear after this night.
The list I now hold is the Chosen Firstlings. They are the good. The righteous. The wise. And they are needed to fight the coming war. I was asked to gather them. Get them back into training for war.
And I intend to do so. But not until I get the girls to the convent. I mustn’t betray the Firstlings. Not even to their allies. I slip the roll into my inner pocket and close my eyes in thought.
Morning comes so quick. I must have drifted off to sleep. Funny, I hadn’t felt tired. Maybe it was the calm.
I am shaken awake by Sara, “I didn’t know you slept, Cris.”
I smile meekly. “I usually don’t.”
She smiles. “Come. We have a visitor. He has been waiting for you to wake.”
I look at her questioningly. “A visitor?”
She nods. “Calls himself Doravenour. Speaks with a French accent. Very sexy, tall, and dark.” She winks at me.
I rise. “And millennia older than I. He is a rare breed. Vampire, hunter of vampires. A Chosen among the Chosen.”
“Dere be ma Cherie!” That French accent and his broken English is very alluring. “But the intrusion, it was–impossible–to avoid. Savanna has fallen. All the humans were out, so all is well. The defenders abandoned the city…what you say…in de night. And the Nation has moved in lock, stock, and barrel. Washington and Arlington fell as well.”
I look at him. “All humans out there, too?”
He shakes his head. “All but those too stubborn to leave. Always a handful in every city. Would rather suffer indignity than leave their cherished city. The vampire lands end at the swamps on the borders. But extend the length of the eastern seaboard. No territory left behind, you know.”
I nod. “They blitz. They besiege. And then, they take.”
He smiles sadly. “C’est Vrais, I am afraid.”
I look at him. “What now?”
He looks away. “We focus here in the center. We try to funnel all the refugees out of this area into Underground territories. Mainly Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and on west. There, we will have to make them turn and defend their lands. Et…if possible, take back what has been stripped out from under them.”
I look away. “Then we will have to find a way to armor them rather heavily so the Suckers can’t get at their necks or use mind tricks as they tend to do. We will also have to make sure that the Harvester threat has been duly taken care of. That means making sure that they no longer have enough of a population to help their fellow Fallen.”
“Correctement.” He smiles. “Now you are thinking.”
I smile. “Always.”
He smiles back, then turns away. “I must–how you say–take a walkabout?”
I restrain myself from giggling. “Only if you are Australian. I would say spirit journey, but you probably mean go yondering.”
His expression softens. “Ah, oui. Dat is what I mean. Au revoir, ma Cherie. I will return with more news. Wherever you may be.”
I smile. “Au revoir, mon ami. Take good care and try not to be too heroic.”
I hear him chuckle. It has always been a joke between us. He is far older than I, and yet I have always kidded him about being too heroic. Mainly because he is a legend among legends. And the most feared of all hunters. Aside from McCall, of course.
I watch the Frenchman go. My immediate mission is clear. Save as many humans as I can. Those too stubborn to leave their cities will perish. That is a given. But those fleeing are to be given a chance.
Once we save them, we are supposed to turn them into a formidable army. One that will turn the Vampire Nation on its heels and force it to retreat from the borders of Underground territory. not going to be an easy task.
I look at the girls. “You heard ‘im. our job right now is to help the refugees. No hunting. Only guarding the exodus. Once we get them all across, we must be willing to train them to fight and defend. to stand their ground. We may not make it to the convent. You may have to stay and train refugees to be soldiers. True warriors.”
Sara looks at me. “What about you?”
I smile. “It was plain to me as well. I have to stay and do the same. Unless you want to go to the convent and enter their service, then come back down. If you enter their service, you will be asked to take all the women and girls with you. I will find a man or group of men to accompany the men to the missions. I think this would possibly be the best route to training. the more we train, the better an army we will have. and the best at training, by far, are the Brotherhood and Sisterhood.”
Sara grins. “I think you’ve got a great idea.”