The Ties That Bind

                                    By

Marguerite
Chapter One
 
   "SPLAT!" The sword sliced cleanly through the melon being used as the head of a dummy. Sunsuous lips curved into a feral smile, and a gravely voice purred, "Good!" Kristoff Valek stepped back to admire the minor chaos around him. His chest heaved with exertion, and the sun glinted off of his shoulder lenght black hair as he looked around and saw the ruins of 6 practice dummies lying in pieces around him.

He grinned gleefully and resheathed his sword with a 'CLANG!'. His hands settled on his hips, and he inhaled the crisp autumn air....a split second before the most agonizing pain sliced through his body, forcing him to his knees, gasping for breath. He threw his head back, eyes staring sightlessly at the sky as another picture flashed across his vision.....

 Jan...his fraternal twin brother...bound and gagged, his lean but powerful body arching in painful spasms as a crackling blue energy surrounded and shot through him, seemingly conjured up by....priests? He was surrounded by priests reading something from a large book. The blue light intensified and then seemed to be drawn into Jan's body. An agonizing scream ripped from Jan's throat, matched in magnitude only by the scream that clawed its way out of Kristoff. His vision cleared and the picture left him just as the priests set a torch to the bottom of the stake that supported his brothers sagging body.

With a roar, Kristoff lurched to his feet shaking his head. He stood shaking with rage, and the backlash of the psychic connection so brutally severed. He headed back toward his house at a dead run, his
only thoughts dwelling on finding his brother, the other half of himself who had always been there. He burst through the door and skidded to a stop as the realization hit him that he didn't have the
first clue where to look! Years of training telling him to stop, slow down, and have a solid plan and lead before he charged out blindly,warred with the frantic need to do something NOW! In the end...the frantic need won out and he spent several hurried minutes packing small essential items into saddlebags.

After he loaded the saddlebags,and himself onto a horse, he paused for a moment at the edge of the woods. Sitting almost as rigid as a statue, he took a deep breath,closed his eyes and cast out a tendril of thought, searching for the
strange psychic bond that had existed between the brothers since the day they were born. His head unconsiously swiveled from side to side as he searched for the faintest whisper, proof that his brother still lived.

 "Kristoff!"
 

  His eyes opened as his head snapped around. East! That's where he was! Into the heart of France. He wheeled his horse, and took off at the fastest gallop he could coax out of the beast. The horse started running to the East a mere 5 minutes after Kristoff had seen the last
part of the vision. Now he began to feel waves of pain and FEAR as his brother regained consiousness just as the flames began to lick at his body.

Kristoff held desperately to the whisper of Jan's thoughts, but then something changed. The thoughts almost seemed to detatch from themselves. It almost seemed like it wasn't Jan....but it was. Like someone or something else was channeling through his thoughts. There
was a sudden surge of anger....FIERCE ANGER! and the connection was
severed.

Kristoff almost fell off his horse as he reeled with the backlash..again. Now, absolutely frantic, Kristoff pushed the horse even harder until it was on the point of collapse. He then traded it for another at a roadside waystation, and kept going. Five days he continued this, until he was on the verge of collapse himself. On the
evening of the fifth day, he rode up to the getes of Berzie, and was almost struck dumb with the sudden clarity...Jan was here!

Kristoff couldn't feel the touch of his mind, but somehow he knew Jan was here.
He left his horse at the gates of the town, and walked in. It was barely dark, but no one was about, all of the windows were shuttered, and crosses abounded everywhere in town. Kristoff could feel the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He wandered through Berzie until he
came to the edge of the city....and there it was. The giant charred stake with the broken chains still hanging from the top.
He stood,staring, unable to quite grasp what he was seeing.

 "I knew it wouldn't take you long to get here." whispered a voice form the shadows behind him. Kristoff spun around to see a darker shadow detatch itself from the rest and resolve into his brother.

"Jan!" he gasped, taking in his brother's very altered appearance.Very pale, almost translucent skin, pale enough that the veins underneath could be seen. His thick and wavy black hair now almost seemed to writhe with a life of its own, and his eyes were almost to piercing to meet.

"What happened to you!" Kristoff whispered in shock.

 "It's too complicated to explain right now, and I don't have much time." Jan apused before his next words as if saying them was the most difficult thing in the world. "Kristoff....I need your help...desperately."

"Anything I can do Jan, I would do without a moments hesitation.You're my brother. My life is yours!"

Jan stepped up to Kristoff so their faces were a mere two inches apart. Kristoff felt a dark chill when he realized that he could
detect no breath or body heat coming from his brother. Jan studied him
intently for a moment, then sighed and whispered, "Thank you!"

Kristoff was about to reach out and grab his brothers shoulder to ask him again what had happened, when he noticed that Jan's eyes had gone blank and feral. "I need it!" Jan hissed, and in a movement to fast for Kristoff to follow, Jan's head flashed to Kristoff's neck, and he
felt two sharp points driven hard through the skin of his throat.There was a roaring in his ears, and his vision was going gray beforehe finally managed one last mental scream of, "JAN!" Then the darkness
claimed him.

Chapter Two

After what seemed an eternity, Kristoff came to feel an insistant nudge in the corner of his mind. He tried to ignore it, but it finally resolved into a soft whisper, "Kristoff. Get up! I need you to get up!"

 "Go away!" he thought back groggily, "I'm dead! Leave me alone!"

 An uproarious peal of laughter pierced his senses and brought him fully awake with a gasp and a lurch to his feet that sent his head spinning. His senses cleared, and he found his back against a tree in the middle of the forest. He looked around frantically trying to see something...anything as his eyes came into focus. Then his vision
cleared. It cleared a lot! It was pitch black, and yet he could see every nuance of the trees around him. He could smell every scent the wind carried. But most confusing of all, the forest around him was
alive with the sounds of heartbeats. Hundreds of them...coming from every direction. He grimaced and shook his head, trying to stop the sounds that maddeningly persisted. His senses were overloaded, and overwhelming evrything was the strangely enticing scent of fresh
blood.

While Jan had decided to go into the priesthood, Kristoff had become a mercenary, a sword for hire. The smell of blood was nothing new to him....what was new was the way his body came alive at the scent. His pulse quickened, and every nerve in his body tingled in anticipation. Anticipation of what though? Panic welled up in his body, and he felt his grip on sanity loosen dangerously. The onslaught
on his senses was almost pushing him over the edge. He gripped his head and slid down the trunk of the tree, landing heavily on his knees and hyperventilating...a wild scream trying to rip out of his throat.

 "Kristoff!" a pair of inhumanly strong hands gripped his shoulders, and forced his gaze up into the only pair of ice-blue eyes that mirrored his own. The effect of Jan's eyes boring into his own was hypnotic. His breathing slowed, and he released the death-grip on his own head. his heart rate decreased, and a sense of calm washed through his body. He stared into his brother's face, and drew strenght
from the features he knew almost better than his own.

"Jan! What in all hell's did you do to me! What happened?!"Kristoff rasped, his voice still shaking slightly.

 A shadow of sorrow, shame, and most prominently, guilt passed over Jan's face as he replied, "I needed you with me Kristoff. I can't handle this alone. I need your help!"

Kristoff knew that these words were as close to a plea as his proud brother could manage. Part of his mind, though, still rebelled, and was furious with Jan for doing this....and he still couldn't quite figure out exactly WHAT jan had
done!

Jan pulled Kristoff to his feet and quickly reached out to steady him as Kristoff reeled and almost fell. Kristoff steadied himself with one hand on the tree trunk, and suddenly was almost forced back to his knees as a wrenching pain twisted in his stomach. He doubled over with a sharp gasp, and faintly heard Jan say, "Oh God!

It is starting earlier for you. Kristoff! Drink this!" and he could barely react as Jan forced a cup into his hands. He forced his muscles into motion,and brought the cup to his lips, draining most of it in one draught.

He paused gasping for breath as the spasm eased considerably. Then he
noticed the taste in his mouth as his senses once again came alive. he
opened and closed his mouth a couple of times trying to isolate, and identify the taste...it tasted almost like....blood.

Kristoff hurled the cup away from him in disgust...and a faint lingering fear as he
realized that his body craved exactly what had been in that cup. He stared up at Jan in shock and horror. Tears of blood trickled down his brothers' face as he whispered, "I'm so sorry, Kristoff!"

Chapter Three

With an abrupt surge of energy and fury, Kristoff lurched to his feet and grabbed his brother, slamming him up against the tree behind him. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME JAN!" he shouted.Jan still watched him with the same sorrowful gaze.

 "I have damned us both Kristoff. Damned to immortality, to drink the blood of the living to survive." Kristoff stood in confusion, then a name flashed into his head from childhood fairytales.

 "Vampires?" he whispered in shock.

 "Yes."

Another thought occured to Kristoff, and he looked at his brother again, the feral smile returning to his lips once more. "Immortal?" he asked softly.

"Yes." replied Jan, a cautious smile flitting over his pale features. Kristoff released the death grip on his brothers' coat, and
stepped back. Jan straightened his clothes, and looked hard at his brother for a moment. "Come with me, Kristoff." he said quietly.

He started to walk away, and after a split-second of contemplation, Kristoff followed. They walked through the woods for several minutes, then came into a clearing with a small pond in the middle that perfectly reflected the bright moonlight. Jan stood at the edge of the
pond, looking into it, and gestured for Kristoff to join him. He stepped up to Jan's side, and looked down to the surface of the water.

All he could see were their faces. They were both dressed in black, and with their black hair, nothing except their faces reflected.Except for a few facial structure differences, he almost couldn't tell
the difference between them. With the vampire's pale skin accenting each of them, they looked more alike than they ever had. Jan turned to look at him, and the two brothers studied each other.

After a moment, Jan took a deep breath and narrowed his eyes in concentration. Almost immediately Kristoff felt the familiar touch of his brother's mind. He let out a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding as the strong feeling of completion swept through him. He was finally, truly,
reunited with his brother, the only person in the world who could ever know him completely. Kristoff reached out and placed a hand on Jan's chest, feeling the slow heartbeat that matched his own.

Since Jan had turned him he could feel more than the bond of brotherhood connecting the two of them. Jan clapped his hand over his brother's, and smiled
at Kristoff's acceptance. The two brothers broke out in grins, and Jan said with the most innoccent expression, "At least now this means you will have plenty of time to teach me to use a sword! You've been
trying to get me to learn that my whole life!"

 Kristoff's eyes narrowed, and his smile stretched even wider. "Why wait?!" he rasped. The two of them ran back to their original site,and Kristoff found his horse, and his weapons. He pulled out his
sword, and an extra one that he tossed to Jan.

Jan caught it, and stood there holding the sword, and looking awkward. "Now, brother, I am going to make a swing at you, slowly, and you block it. Alright?"

 "Alright." agreed Jan looking uncertain, but with a strange glint in his eye that Kristoff couldn't identify....so he ignored it. And swung. With the barest flick of his hand, Jan not only blocked the blow, but twisted Kristoff's sword in his hand until Kristoff almost lost his grip. He looked at Jan in shock, and disbelief for a moment,
then that expression was replaced with a predatory gleam and a wide smile of delight.

 "How wonderful, Jan! You've been practicing" Kristoff purred dangerously. He moved with the fluid grace of a jungle cat as he circled Jan and said, "Now let's see how good you really are!"

Chapter Four
 

    The two brothers circled each other, postures tense and wary, searching for the perfect opening. Kristoff lunged in low, but brought his sword in a sweeping arch over his head, aiming for Jan's chest.

Jan rocked out of the way easily, and swung his sword in a move that would have taken off Kristoff's head....if he had connected. Kristoff rolled out of the way, and with a well placed kick, knocked Jan off his feet. Both of them rolled to their feet, faster than the eye could follow. A few more exchanged blows, and they both ended up mere inches from each other, swords at each others throat.

Two pairs of ice-blue eyes blazed into each other as chests heaved from the fight. They glared at each other for a moment longer, then Kristoff let out a
chuckle, which Jan promptly answered. The two grown, immortal, men...laughing until the tears of blood rose in their eyes. They both lowered their swords, and looked at each other fondly.

"Pretty good for a priest!" Kristoff smirked, and the two men broke up into laughter once more. They were so engrossed in the
hilarity of the moment, that neither one of them noticed the movements in the woods around them. As their laughter eased once more, Kristoff looked at his brother, and saw the barest flash of warning in his eyes before he suddenly felt the tip of a sword pressed between his shoulder blades.

 "Don't move! Either one of you, or you will both wind up as pincushions!" an unfamiliar voice hissed from behind Kristoff. Jan's head lowered a little bit, and his eyes glared murder at a point just
beyond Kristoff's head. Jan's gaze slid to his brother, and his mouth opened in a silent snarl that showed Kristoff fully elongated fangs.

He heard Jan's whisper in his head, "Concentrate! We can defeat them!
You and I!" Kristoff concentrated on his brothers eyes, so full of hate, and sudden....hunger! In a sudden flash, Kristoff couls again hear the heartbeats around him. And most importantly of all...he could smell the blood! He inhaled sharply and for the first time felt sharp
canine teeth slide into place. Sharing a single thought, he and Jan pivoted in tandem, and while Jan headed for the trees, Kristoff slapped the sword out of the hand of the man behind him. With a single backhand, his attacker slumped to the forest floor, unconscious.

He turned and saw Jan battling two men at once, and one more was sneaking
up behind him. Trying to take Jan by surprise, the man raised his sword to strike him down from the back when he was suddenly lifted off of his feet by an inhumanly strong hand which promptly proceeded to crush his windpipe, and left him to die of suffocation. Kristoff looked at his brother, and saw another attacker wound in his arms with Jan's fangs buried in his throat. Kristoff suddenly thought of the first man he had simply knocke to the ground. He walked back, and picked the man off the ground just as he groaned and his eyes fluttered open. he gazed at Kristoff in terror.

 "What are you!"

 Kristoff felt his lips pull back in a snarl that might pass for a smile. "I am your death!" he whispered, and sank his teeth into the man's throat. The first rush of blood hit his tongue....and time
stopped. It was unlike anything he had ever known. His attacker was frozen in his grasp, the mouse frozen in place by the snake.

In to short a time, the flow of blood began to slow, and finally stopped.Kristoff dropped the body to the ground, and turned to see Jan watching him intently.

"Well?" he asked. "I take it you liked it." he walked over to Kristoff, and with one long elegant finger wiped off a drop of blood
that gone unnoticed on Kristoff's hand, and slowly sucked it off his finger. Kristoff smiled at the change in his brother. Last time he had seen Jan, he had just been ordained priest, and was oh, so, stiff and
proper. It was quite a strain for his mercenary brother to behave in front of him.

Now Jan killed without a backward glance, and Kristoff had to admit to himself....that he liked the change! He gripped Jan's
shoulder, and steered him away from the carnage.

 "So...Jan. You still haven't told me what happened to you."

 "Aaahh! Yes. I do owe you that explanation don't I!" Jan turned to
face his brother, and stared intently into his eyes. kristoff stared back, and with a sudden flash, the whole story began to unfold like pictures in his head.

Chapter Five
 
 

Kristoff closed his eyes, and concentrated on his brother's story. Shortly after he was ordained, Jan started to preach the value of thinking for themselves, and not to let the Church think for them. Those words began rebellions in small villages all over France. Started by people who were already quite tired of the Church, and used Jan's words as a catalyst.

Needless to say, the Church was not pleased. And in an act of retribution for destroying much of their hold on the people, they decided to use Jan, and fellow human being and man of the cloth, as an experiement. Using an inversed exorcism, the drew a demon INTO Jan's body, hoping that although the body would die, the demon would be trapped inside and therfore controllable.

Something went wrong. Not only did Jan not die, but he absorbed the demon's powers, and changed right before the eyes of the horrified priests. In their terror, they tried to end the whole thing by burning him. That one backfired on them too. Enraged, Jan put his new inhuman strength to good use. With a furious roar, and one savage jerk to the
chains, they snapped and he was free.

The three priests were doomed and they knew it. They were face to face with evil incarnate, and THEY had brought it about by betraying one of their own. Their faces
drained of color, and they simply stood, staring at the towering personification of hate, fury, and bloodlust as he gracefully leapt off the platform and landed in front of them without making a sound.

Jan slowly rose from the crouch he had alnded in, and took in the trembling almost catatonic forms of the three priests in front of him.One of the priests gathered himself together enough to reach out,

"Father Valek...please..." Jan paused for a brief moment wondering what the priest could possibly say that would prevent his own death.The answer of course was....nothing. The priests mouth flopped open and closed a couple more times as he searched for the words that would
ease the kindling fury in Jan's steely gaze.
"Please...in the Name of God!" Wrong thing to say. Jan's eyes sparked with lethal fury as they narrowed to dangerous slits and his lips slid open in a snarl that revealed the brand new canine teeth, sharpened to a deadly point.

He lunged, and in less than one minute, two of the priests were dead. One with his neck broken, the other with a gaping slash in his throat caused by Jan's talons. The last priest hardly seemed to notice.

His gaze was fixed on Jan's face with an expression that wavered between deathly terror and awe. Jan looked at the  remaining priest, and felt his hunger crest. He smelled the blood of the two fallen priests as it soaked into the ground. He could see it as it reflected an even deeper
red in the dancing flames. Some primal force in his body told him that the blood was what he needed. The scent was getting stronger as more of the priests blood seeped out onto the ground, and Jan began to feel the hunger reaching a fever pitch. With slow, smooth steps he approached the young priest.The boy couldn't have been more than 25.

Jan stopped in front of the boy, hoping to get some information before depriving him of life. He looked the priest directly in the
eye(noticing with detatched interest that the boy's eyes fixed themselves on Jan's and glazed over) and asked one simple
question...."Why?" The young man answered with a preprogrammed
response about the Holy Mother Church wanting to know more about Evil
and the Supernatural. And they figured that the only way to know it was to do it. The longer the explanation went on, the more furious Jan became. By the time the boy had stopped speaking, a red hazed had descended over Jan's vision. With a roar of pure fury, he grabbed the front of the boy's cassock, and pulled the young priest to him.

"Are you telling me that this whole thing was an experiment?!" he asked incredulously. The boy gulped through his quickly mounting terror, and nodded.

"Anyone could have died at any time....me, you,the people of this town, and you're telling me the Church's interest
was purely ACADEMIC!!" Jan's voice rose steadily from a low, menacing his, to an enraged roar, and the boy's stuttered excuses only served to push him over the edge.

Jan threw his head back as a nerve-shattering scream ripped from his soul, echoing pain, betrayal,and profound loss. And then in his own act of retribution and revenge,pulled the boy up to his face, and ripped his fangs into the soft skin
of the boy's throat.

To Be Continued