It had been two years since Theia had seen her adoptive father or Nik, sure she heard from her adoptive father over the phone occasionally (more than that if she were honest), but she hadn't spoken to Nik since that night.
The night when she had accepted her legacy, her duty as an heir to the throne of her kind.
Her vampire kind- the very race that had destroyed Nik's family, and eradicated his sense of self with one bite from a Rogue. It wouldn't surprise her if Nik hated her with all of his being- no, she could understand that. After all, had she not once been in his shoes, when she had thought that her family had been killed off by a vampire as well?
It was a shock to her when Mieren had arrived at Rosecrest. He had not been himself, his normal cheerfulness a ghost long since past what with the melancholy aura and a steely look adorning his face. She had escorted him up to her brother's office and had sat down on the couch, awaiting her adoptive father's words.
Elijah sat in the chair next to her while Mieren had yet to sit. Her brother had a look of mild curiosity placed over his usual calm facade.
Mieren ran a hand over his face, and for the first time he looked his age.
"Nikolai is missing." He said after a moment.
Elijah ran a hand over her's when she dug her nails into the cushion of the arm rest as if to offer silent comfort.
"What?" She breathed, shock racing through her.
Mieren sighed and sat across from her. His eyes were red and she began to notice the tired anxiety that clung to the air surrounding him.
The retired hunter swallowed, "He went missing about two months ago, or at least a month before that. He was on a mission regarding the destruction of two small towns and the recent murders surrounding a larger city near them."
"The Conclave didn't think it was the work of vampires, as it appeared that the... bodies had been drunk from after their deaths." He added and Elijah's brows furrowed.
"What do they think it's the work of? The post mortem drinking could be the result of ghouls. They are native to this part of the world."
Mieren shrugged, "We don't know. We do know that whatever blood drinking is involved it's very little- which is why ghouls weren't brought into the conversation. Besides, the native ghouls to that province are more of the flesh eating type. We thought it might be insane Rogues, but whatever it is, it seems to feed more off the life sources of its victims, or at least that's what the Conclave can gather from it all."
"Were there any survivors?" Theia asked, desperate to learn anything to do with Nik's disappearance.
It wasn't like him- he was strong, he was even regaled among her kind as a formidable hunter. From what she had heard of him after that night, he had gained quite the reputation for taking on harder hunting jobs, successful in each of them.
"Children, yes. It had no interest in children, it even went so far as to lead them all out of the towns in one mass exodus of sorts. Some scouts found them all walking in the direction of the nearest city to the west."
"We found Nik's recorded residence while he was in town but there was no trace of him." Mieren revealed and a chill went down Theia's back.
"Did you find anything else?" Theia asked and Mieren pulled a box out of the bag he had brought. It was a rusty silver and the lock adorning it was broken.
He handed the box to Elijah and pulled out a wrapped weight. He handed it to Theia and she unwrapped the red cloth from its holdings.
A harsh gasp came from her when the cloth revealed a dusty Grave Seeker.
Mieren swallowed again, "It was put there purposefully. The room was clean and the bed made. The box was locked when we got to it but as soon as Hunter Cain touched it, it shattered. We think it might've been cursed, Cain fell ill shortly thereafter."
Elijah opened the box with care, wary of its contents. Inside the box were an array of papers, some of them elaborately decorated with horrific imagery. The papers that contained writing were confusing and written in an array of languages and appeared to show the coherency of a mad soul. The ink used to write those distorted thoughts was not ink at all, but blood, and from the smell of it, the blood came from someone powerful, though whether it was a vampire, he could not decipher.
"The bodies were laid out in a contorted mess in the town center. All nude, most of them already rotting." Mieren breathed, "It was not a happy sight."
It had been weeks since Mieren had sought out their help in the search for Nik and the beast he had been hunting, but the only signs given were that the beast was still travelling onward, leaving less death behind him, but still enough to leave one worried.
Eventually it became clear that the beast was coming closer to Rosecrest and the vampire occupied settlements. Theia worried over it frequently, though her primary focus was on that of Nik.
She laid down on her bed clad in heaps of blankets and pillows. It was a comfortable place to languish over her... friend? What could she even call Nik, really? He wasn't really her brother, and they had not spoken in so long that friendship wasn't really accurate.
She had loved him, not as much as she had loved Elijah, but still, she had loved him.
Even when she was still living as a human, she had been enamoured with Elijah, infuriating Nik beyond words at times.
She had been raised beside Elijah for the first eight years of her life before he had wiped her memories away and hidden her under Mieren's care a year before he had taken in thirteen year old Nik.
Nik despised Elijah quietly from afar for most of the time he had known him, always polite when speaking to him in front of her, but animosity had always seemed to radiate from his voice whenever they spoke and Theia was well aware that Elijah loved those moments when he got to infuriate the young hunter.
The followers of both of them had always stayed out of the two's relationship, as if they had sensed that to breach that space was one that would set off a war.
It probably might have if anyone had been that stupid.
Yes, Elijah was set to ascend to the vampire throne- but Nik had been groomed to become the hunter's equivalent, even despite his bitten status.
By all logic, Nik should have been a pariah among the hunters- but he wasn't, or at least not from what she could gather.
Mieren had told her that it was because of his bloodline, that he came from a pure blooded hunter clan- the only one to have survived thousands of years of war between their races.
Theia knew without asking how much Nik hated the attention however, he seemed to hate anything to do with the Conclave, despite loving to actually hunt.
Adaline, one of Nik's hunter friends, had told her that his line was one that had always been looked to and that Nik bore the unwavering brunt of a painful legacy that Theia knew he desperately wanted to escape.
Elijah on the other hand, loved their line's legacy, he flourished beneath it like a true leader, that had become readily apparent to her when she had transitioned back to her true form.
She had been engaged to Elijah since she was born, just as her parents and their parents had married before them in an effort to keep the line pure and untainted by outside political agendas.
Thankfully, Elijah had always been her main focus for her attentions so it wasn't as if she was making some huge sacrifice- no, she knew they would be happy together.
But with the new trouble surrounding Nik she thought back to the white haired hunter with a biting wit and swiftly shifting moods.
Nik had loved her, of that she was sure. After all, she would have to be completely and utterly daft to have missed that (even though she had in fact, missed that up until he actually admitted it himself).
She flicked the lamp off beside her and silently closed her eyes, desperate to escape her train of thought.
A haze came over her then, warmth pooling within her and energy pulling her deeper into her mind. Her blankets began to rise up between her legs and pale hands crawled up her stomach to gently caress her heated skin. Lips kissed their way up her chest to reveal a head of snowy white hair.
"Nik?" She mumbled incoherently as he smiled against her collarbone.
"Tell me, Theia, did you miss me?" He asked, his breath chilly and sending a shiver down her spine.
He kissed his way up her throat, nipping over her jugular.
"You didn't answer my question, Theia." He reminded her and she felt him rise up to his knees between her legs. Her blankets fell around him and revealed his tall lithe, swimmer-like form to her.
The haze slipped from her mind briefly, "Yes, of course I did."
Theia shook her head, desperately trying to shake the haze out from her head, but it proved too strong and pulled her under again, the heat growing stronger and bringing her to a sweat. Nik's hand came around her neck to pull her up to meet him. He lightly nipped at her lips, leaving them pinker than before.
"Good, because I missed you." He said before attacking her mouth and leaving her witless.
His touch was gentle and sweet, like she was a treasure and she found herself going farther with him than she had ever gone with Elijah. His hands played along the lines of her body, rubbing gently circles over her breasts.
"Do you want me, Theia? You need only say yes." He urged and she released a moan at the feeling of his body against hers- the warmth clouding her mind.
She knew she would come to regret it later, truly some part of her did, but she couldn't seem to care. Not in the least.
"Yes." She moaned again and Nik sent her a truly happy smile, one she had never seen before grace his features, his eyes different from their normal pink hue.
He pulled away from her mouth to tease the skin along her throat, his hands travelling south along her body.
She bucked against his hand and moaned as she felt fangs bite into her thigh and send her spiraling into an abyss she knew she'd never recover from.
Elijah looked up from his paperwork once the scent of his sister's blood began to seep into the air. He placed his pen down on the desk and stood quickly, determined to see what had happened to Theia, who he had believed to be sleeping.
A muskier scent permeated the hall, one he quickly recognized. Out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed a trace of white slipping away into the fourth story of the manor.
His trusted Sparrow appeared at his side then, looking dazed and surprised beneath the mask he had been able to decipher alone since childhood.
"What happened?" He asked.
"Someone, thing, caught me unaware," She replied, her short grey hair unruly- the only readily apparent sign that she had failed in her duties.
A crash sounded from within the upper stories and he sent Sparrow to look after Theia while he saw to the intruder. The one who had no doubt drunk from his sister.
Elijah traced the faint scent that clung to the intruder to the balcony on top of the roof. He cast out his aura briefly to get a sense of the intruder, but all he could grasp was the scent of sex, blood, and... mint?
"Volkov?" He voiced, his features schooling into his regular mask of calm, hiding the shock that marred his features. He stepped out onto the balcony and found the white haired hunter looking out on the garden.
Nikolai seemed smaller, more delicate, and his hair was longer. He wore a loose silk nightgown and tapped the railing with perfectly kept nails.
Elijah approached the vampire hunter with reserved caution, this was not a Volkov he knew, or thought he knew so well.
Nikolai's head bent at an angle, exposing an unmarred neck in his line of sight. The scarred brand was gone from the back of the hunter's neck- the red carnation that had been his family crest- the same one that had withered when he was bitten- removed in its entirety.
"What did you do?" Elijah asked, anger making its way into his voice despite himself.
He had never been able to keep himself in total check around the hunter.
If this was the hunter taking revenge, he had waiting a long enough time.
For a brief moment, the thought of killing the hunter swept through his mind before he dismissed it. Theia still cared for the hunter and Elijah knew that the hunter would never hurt her.
Nikolai looked up and turned around to face him, and the mask he kept so well normally slipped for a moment.
This wasn't Nikolai, but a delicate slip of a woman. She had clearly already reached maturity, but her bone structure made her appear delicate to the eyes. She was beautiful and evoked a set feeling within him, the need to protect, and a deep desire he hadn't felt in this lifetime. Not even for Theia.
Her long white hair curled in soft ringlets down her back and her lips were a soft rose petal pink. The one thing he found truly unsettling were her eyes. They were like opals and glowed like moonlight.
"What do you mean?" She asked and Elijah found himself approaching the woman.
He stopped a step away from her, forcing her to look up at him. Warmth began to fill him then, seeping from her in convincing waves. His thoughts began to feel fogged and distorted and the only clear thing he could make out was this feeling of desperate want- no, need.
She touched a hand to his face and drew it over his mouth, drawing blood when she ran a finger over his elongated canines.
The drops hit his tongue then and the haze within his mind began to rapidly overwhelm him. He tried to hold onto any semblance of reality in those moments, but the very thing he had struggled to keep caged began to claw out and take over his conscious thoughts. It was sinister, and dark, and raw, so raw.
The woman pulled back her finger and licked the cut tip, sealing the wound. She ran her hands up his chest and over his shoulders to surround his neck and pull him in closer to her.
She bit at her lower lip, pulling the blood closer to the surface.
His mind was sinking fast now and he felt his claws elongate, his arms wrapping around her waist and prickling at her pale skin.
It would be so easy. So easy to just bite into her neck and devour all she had to offer.
She leaned up to lock lips with him, pulling him ever closer, not realizing the danger she was in. She nipped at his lips with her own sharp canines, striking him with the realization that she was a vampire- though he couldn't sense her class.
His mouth opened to her and her blood hit his tongue again, this time setting off his beast entirely and in that moment, any form of resistance failed and he blacked out.
When he came to, it was to the sound of droplets hitting wooden floors. His body felt like lead and it occurred to him that for once in a very long time, he felt satisfied.
That didn't last. Not when he opened his eyes.
The room, his room, was splattered in crimson, with the brunt of it being on the formerly cream colored silk sheets. He turned his head down when he felt a weight on his chest. A mass of blood tainted the snowy color of the woman's long hair, greeting him with a grim sight as he pulled himself up, the figure dropping into his lap, where he realized he and the figure were fully nude and covered in congealed blood and angry scratches, his healed to a fresh pink and hers still an angry and bloody red. He took hold of the the unconscious woman's wrist and took the scent of her blood from one of the many cuts.
She had clearly been the source for most of the blood spilt in the room.
His memories came back to him then, meeting the woman on the balcony, tasting her blood, and losing his will to the Beast that sat well beneath his surface.
Clawing off her nightgown, leaving gashes on her unmarred skin.
Suddenly appearing in his room with the woman with no clear way that he had gotten there.
Slicing into her throat with his fangs, the blood never ending, never ceasing to flow.
Entering her surprisingly wet heat with little preparation, moans rippling into the room.
Her neck healing only to be opened once more.
Her cries, somewhere between pleasure and pain, he couldn't decipher exactly in the corrupting haze.
Orgasming, but never slowing, never stopping, something that should be beyond even him.
She had given constantly, her mouth lavishing him with sweet touches as he rode on, fully lost in the night.
Elijah ran a hand over his face before picking up the figure and applying two fingers to her pulsepoint. It was slow and quiet, but present. Her skin felt as cold as death however and she was limp against him.
He bit into his wrist, taking some of his own blood into his mouth before locking his lips over her own, letting the blood flow into her mouth. He forced her to swallow before repeating the steps two more times.
She came to beneath him, coughing lightly, blinking several times. She looked disoriented and confused, moving her head to take in the scene surrounding them.
"Hmmm." She hummed softly and Elijah sighed as he felt a burst of energy at the sound.
She turned back around to look at him, opalite eyes looking at him curiously. She sat back onto her knees, her eyes flickering pale blue.
"What is your name?" He asked her and her head cocked to the side.
"What do you want it to be?" She asked in response, his eyes narrowing.
"Are you a relation of the Volkov family?" He asked her and for a moment she appeared pained, but that quickly went away, a flawless smile making its way over her face.
"I can be anything you wish," She smiled and he sighed, sliding out of bed with little regard for modesty.
"What did your parents call you?"
"I don't remember my parents," She said, "My lady calls me Naomi."
"Who is your lady?" Elijah's eyes narrowed but she appeared little scared. She rose up to slide her legs over the side of the bed but remained seated.
Her skin was by now healed back to a radiance he had never before seen, making her appear like moonlight personified.
"Her name is Isabelle."
"Did she send you here?" His tone was calm and cool, but it was clear this was a demand.
"No, I haven't seen her since I awakened." She replied, smiling softly as if she was eager to please.
"Oh yes! She was the one that turned me."
Elijah knew that she didn't mean into a vampire by now. The feeling that he had just slept with Volkov grew and he let out a soft growl of frustration.
"Were you the one that spilled Theia's blood last night?" He asked her, stepping closer to her till he was in front of her.
Naomi appeared confused and her forehead wrinkled in pain, her features contorted into a grimace.
"Theia," She mumbled softly to herself and her form appeared to flicker briefly, appearing to shift before his eyes.
Elijah switched his approach, "Can you show me what you can do, like what you did just now?"
She beamed at him, "Yes!"
Her form shifted before his eyes, her hair shortening, her shoulders broadening and her bone structure becoming rougher and less delicate.
She stopped after a moment as his gaze travelled over her androgynous form. He was shocked, though he didn't let that shock slip onto his fair features.
"Is that as far as you can take it?" He asked and her brows furrowed.
"No, but any more and I will no longer have control, he does." She stated softly.
She nodded, "He doesn't like me. He doesn't let me out to play enough."
"I would like to meet him," Elijah breathed and she nodded again with a sigh.
Her form started to quiver again till a fully masculine one took its place.
He had never seen Volkov nude before, but he was surprisingly muscular, despite how lithe his body was- similar to a skilled athlete.
Nikolai cocked his head to the side and looked at him with a raised brow, his eyes, still opalescent, flashed pink, like an echo of his former color. His gaze travelled over Elijah and it seemed to remind the pureblooded vampire how very naked he was as well.
Volkov smirked at him and Elijah pushed him back against the bed, Nikolai's throat captured in his hand.
"What did you do to Theia, Volkov?" Elijah growled and Nikolai smirked again, clearly feeling no semblance of danger, his skin radiating a heat outwards.
The vampire prince dropped him and stepped away quickly, his body getting hotter as the haze from the night before began to oversweep his mind, his beast closing in on him till they felt almost like one being. He hadn't noticed, but Nikolai had slid out of bed to step closer to the vampire and ran his hand down the pureblood's chest, making his skin tingle and the warmth spread. Elijah stepped backwards till his back hit the wall, sufficiently caging himself.
Nikolai leaned in closer to him and nipped at his throat, whispering softly.
"I can make you feel good."
It didn't fully register in Elijah's mind till he felt the other male wrap his hand around his length. He growled at the feeling and broke free of Nikolai's grasp, flipping their positions. His lips collided with the hunter's, nipping till he felt the other surrender to him. Volkov moaned into his mouth and Elijah felt his beast begin to win out, but he was desperate to remember this in full, to experience this in full, despite the repercussions.
The doorbell rang to the manor, with only the vampire prince's close circle hearing it. Hugo, the most amicable of the inner circle, answered the door, the majority of the manor staff currently on vacation. He pasted on a bold smile and opened the ornate wooden door.
On the doorstep was a young girl, maybe five years old, holding a stuffed bear while sucking on her thumb. When he opened the door further she looked up at him and pulled out her thumb to smile at the light brown skinned aristocrat.
"Have you seen my daddy?" She asked and Hugo seemed to shake himself out of a tizzy.
He bent down to look into the eyes of the girl (not very far, a voice sounding suspiciously like Gus teased in his mind much to his consternation).
She had long curly red brown hair falling in unruly tangles down her back, pink doe-like eyes as well as a spattering of ginger colored freckles all over her fair face. She was a cute little girl, but Hugo knew exactly squat what to do with her.
Better start with the obvious, "What's your daddy's name?"
She frowned for a moment before looking at him like he was a bit dumb, "His name is daddy."
Hugo sighed and he felt some of the others draw closer to see who was at the door.
The little girl stepped in to see who was drawing closer, with curiosity glowing in her rose petal gaze. Hugo took hold of her hand and pulled her inside the manor, noticing the tightening hold she had on the stuffed bear.
Blaire was the first to receive them, with her long flowing red locks and bright cat shaped green eyes.
She appeared confused by the sight of the small girl- Hugo couldn't blame her, they were located in a severely reclusive piece of land, far from any town or main road.
"How did you come to be here, little one?" She asked, "There isn't another house or city for miles."
The girl seemed to take in the petite redheaded vampiress for a moment and then beamed at her. "My mommy said daddy was here!"
Hugo smiled at the young girl again, "Perhaps we could help you find him. Do you have a picture?"
The girl slid a backpack off her tiny shoulders and pulled out a small hand drawn picture. It depicted a woman with yellow hair and... white eyes. To the woman's side was a man with white hair outlined in gray crayon and the same eerie eyes. The girl was between the two adults, holding their hands.
"Did you draw this?" Blaire asked the girl and the girl laughed and nodded. It sounded almost like a child of their kind- bell like.
The others appeared in the doorway to the living room a second later.
Gus, the heir to the Fitzgerald house, made his way into the room, his near giant-like frame dominating the room. His brows furrowed at the sight of the young girl. The girl smiled at him and let go of Hugo's hand to run over to Gus.
She tugged at his pants and he kneeled down to look at her. She leaned in close and he could smell the sweet scent of apples and mint.
"You're very tall." She whispered in his ear and his lips quirked at her. Her statement was said in such as way that it sounded almost like a secret, one that only they would be the ones to know.
It reminded the Fitzgerald heir of his younger sisters.
"What's your name?" He asked her and the little girl beamed.
"Holly." The girl replied, a happy smile beaming up at him. She held up her arms and Gus picked her up.
Hugo glanced down at the childish picture again then at the girl. He had only seen those eyes once before- was it possible she was some relation of the Volkov family?
He quickly excused himself and went up the stairs in search of the Lockhart prince.
A knock at the door stirred Elijah from his haze slowly, drawing him up and out of the all consuming waves. He released his hold on the hunter and the other male pouted- a feature that he had never thought he would see on Volkov's face.
"Yes?" Elijah was glad that his voice was collected and didn't sound as wispy as he was himself in that moment.
Hugo entered without glancing at him till the door was closed. Elijah glanced at Nikolai but the male made no move to disguise himself or his nudity. Elijah threw on a robe for the sake of his shy friend.
Hugo looked shocked when he turned to face them, "Volkov?"
Nikolai nodded, "Clement."
Hugo looked unsettled before approaching Elijah with the childish drawing. Elijah looked at the drawing before glancing at Nikolai with an upturned brow.
"You have a daughter?" He questioned and Volkov looked to Hugo.
"Where is she?" He asked and Elijah looked back at his friend to answer, already pulling clothes out of the nearby chest of drawers beside the other man.
Elijah tossed a pair of pants and a shirt at Nikolai and the male nodded his thanks before sliding on the pants as Hugo spoke.
"She's downstairs with Gus." The brunet told them and waited for the two to finish dressing before showing them out to the sitting room downstairs.
The cheery aristocrat had appeared to ignore the compromising situation he had found them in, just as Elijah would trust that they all would.
Elijah found himself glancing at the snowy haired hunter several times, he was a puzzle he had never been able to decipher clearly before. But with the new changes to him, it was unlikely that he would ever be able to.
He did not abide situations such as those.
He had also never particularly cared for the hunter- no, he had loathed him.
So why am I drawn to him now?
For Nikolai's part, he just looked ahead with a blank expression, letting nothing slip through his own mask- one he had never really had before.
They stopped in the doorway to the living room.
The den was large and spacious, allowing for all the aristocrats in his circle plus those of another pureblood, rare as they were, to sit comfortably. There were two long sofas in the center of the room each sitting across from the other and a chair on either end of the empty space between them.
Nikolai was silent as he looked at the room and the others within it. On one of the couches sat Valentine Kent, one of the more public vampires- the heir to the Kent fortune dating back to the East India Company, as well as Etta Whitmore, the vampire heiress he had been betrothed to since birth. On the opposite couch sat Gus Fitzgerald and Blaire Fitzroy, cousins, while Hiro Onoe was perched as far as he could get away from Blaire- that animosity dating back to their time in the shared school for wealthy hunters and vampires where they had met the hunter heir.
Hiro's lips turned downward when he spotted the vampire hunter, as it had since they had met- but he had wisely kept his mouth shut as to not anger the prince he had sworn himself to at an early age.
Many Japanese vampires had moved westward when their last pureblood died off a decade ago and Hiro's father had arranged for the thin vampire to worm his way into Elijah's small court that had been just developing when they were children. Little known to the elder Onoe was that Hiro despised his father and had promptly sworn himself to the Lockhart prince a month after meeting him.
Elijah had not regretted his decision to accept it- Hiro was highly intelligent and proved to be more than capable of being an ally. The Japanese vampire had always despised hunters, though. Elijah couldn't blame him- it was rumored that hunters had killed off the rest of his family when Unkei Hirota's court was dissolved shortly after the pureblood's death.
The little girl was sitting on Gus' lap when she spotted her father in the doorway and popped off the lap of the tall ginger haired aristocrat and bolted over to him with a huge grin on her face.
"Daddy!" She cried, lifting up her arms in the universal 'pick me up' gesture that all young children do.
Nikolai appeared to drop the reserved look and smiled at the small girl. It was a genuine smile and none of the people present had ever seen the white haired hunter so free with his emotions before- not even around his own court. Well, outside of the occasional fight.
Nikolai picked her up and the girl curled around his waist and held onto his neck with one arm, the one that held a well-loved teddy bear, and stuck her thumb in her mouth with her other hand. She stared at Elijah with a look he couldn't quite identify but he was sure that he didn't see that expression often on the faces of children.
After a moment the girl smiled at him with approval, her light cherry pink eyes gleaming before pulling back to look at her father as he stepped into the room.
"Mama said she was going to Mos-COW." She notified and Nikolai nodded as he stepped into the room.
Hiro looked like he wanted to say something but clearly thought better of it with Elijah in the room. The girl meanwhile talked about anything and everything to her father, (with special time devoted to her new friends). Nikolai nodded and gave the appropriate replies to her as he sat down in one of the chairs to listen to her talk. Hugo sat down next to Valentine and was rewarded with a click and a truffle while Elijah sat in the chair opposite Volkov's.
They didn't have long to wait till the young girl's head started to bob until she finally passed out against her father's neck, her teddy bear slipping from her arm. Hugo, the amicable entertainer that he was, turned to Volkov.
"Do you want to put her in a bedroom?"
Elijah kept his eyes trained on the hunter and said nothing to dissuade him.
It might prove important to keep him close- at least until he unlocked the puzzle of what he had been hunting and what had changed him so.
"It doesn't have to be now, when she falls asleep, she's out like a light." Nikolai replied back, at a normal volume.
Sure enough, the girl didn't stir, even when he readjusted her.
"Tell me, Volkov, where have you been?" Elijah asked and Nikolai sighed.
"With her mother." He said and Elijah's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
"You said you hadn't seen her since you woke up."
By now he had deduced that the girl's mother was the woman 'Naomi' had mentioned, he couldn't explain it- but he had a gut feeling this was so and he was not one to turn against his instincts.
No- that was something Volkov had always done since he had been bitten by one of the Rogues. But not before the hunter, then just a boy, had killed the Rogue himself- only after his family lay dead from that same Rogue.
Nikolai had been the first working hunter to come out of his family in three generations- he had supposedly decided when he was of teaching age to learn the hunter's craft and his parents- both rather pascifistic, the two of them having stuck to the bureaucratic side of things, well- his mother had been a hunter once before if Elijah's sources were good.
The Volkov children had taken after their mother in looks almost exactly- a result of a line that had once held metaphysical power which was apparent by their exotic appearances.
Supposedly the Volkov children had never taken to that power- but Elijah had always doubted that. Nikolai had always had a discreet pull over those he spoke to- much akin to one of his own status. The human hunters at their school had spoken of losing their will to him, or at least until one of the hunter heir's circle had put an end to that.
No one could control rumors better than those of the hunter's circle, which was why it was so surprising that none were with him now.
But he was not one to look a gift horse in the mouth if you will.
Nikolai lifted a brow at him then appeared wistful almost for a moment, "Part of me hadn't."
Hiro looked like he was going to pitch a fit from the corner of his eye and stepped toward the couch where Gus promptly threw a hand over his mouth to stop him from doing so.
He settled for glaring instead but the hunter was clearly not fazed.
"Cader has been looking for you." Blaire voiced, looking like she wanted to glare at Nikolai, but caution kept her from doing so.
"I suppose so." Nikolai stated.
"Where exactly have you been?" Elijah questioned, though it seemed more like a command.
Volkov's lip quirked into a wry grin, "You know, here and there."
Elijah quirked a brow and the aristocrats nearly shivered with the cool aura their leader was giving off. It clearly only caused the hunter amusement.
It was apparent that the hunter was not the angry teenager he had been at their alma mater. He appeared lighter, like nothing really mattered beside perhaps his daughter.
Nikolai sighed and let the smirk drop off of his lips, "Before I came here I was with Isabelle in Paris."
"You?" Blaire bit out disbelievingly.
Nikolai looked at him with a dry look, "And?"
Blaire clearly thought better when Elijah gave her a look of warning. The green eyed vampire looked away and went silent.
"I'm sure Lady Theia will be pleased." Hugo voiced and the room dropped in temperature a little further.
The lesser vampires looked to their leader. Volkov appeared amused at the pureblood's aura of cold fury. His mask was still in place of course, but it had always been relatively easy for the two of them to read each other and so Elijah was certain that the hunter knew just how irritated he was making him.
Nikolai hummed at Hugo's words.
After a moment of silence Elijah spoke and the chill abated.
"Hugo, show Volkov and his daughter to a room," He commanded and the bubbly short male smiled again and stood up, beckoning Nikolai to follow.
The hunter stood with surprising grace as he carried his daughter past the pureblood prince, only giving the latter a last upturned brow.ns 220.127.116.11da2