Rahu paced around while growling in his basement. He loved his triplets but somtimes they were infuriating to him. During these times he would come down to the basement and stay there until he could handle them again. He hated he would lose all patience with them so much and Albina being nothing but understanding made him feel worse. She was dealing with the same thing and yet he would have to leave her to do it alone or ask his brother for help. He was still pacing when he heard a knock at the door. He would go get it but he knew his wife or brother would get there first even if he attempted.
Baldr answered, seeing a vampire he had never met before standing before him. The man was his same height, with red eyes and purple hair. He grinned “you are not who I’m looking for. Is your brother around?”
“You wont want to mess with him. The boys have him down in the basement again”
“can I come in until he’s calm?”
“sure, you can sit at the table and I’ll get you a drink or somthing” Stepan walked in and followed Baldr to the table. “blood?”
“please” Baldr tossed him a vial of blood “can i ask why you want to speak to him?”
“I get bored very easily and I’ve heard some stories about him. I’ve arranged a tournament. Not so devolved that it’s just an all out brawl, theres different challenges I want them to face off in. At the very end the last ones standing will fight but not before they are tested in other ways. I am hoping I can convince him like I have the others to play. If he’s really so stressed it could be a good way to relieve tension for him.”
Baldr laughed. “The only thing that keeps him calm is Albina. He’s a bit on the high strung side, especially now that he’s a dad. He has no idea how to cope.”
The sound of footsteps coming down the basement stairs let Rahu know Albina had come to talk to him. He took a deep breath and turned to face her as her foot left the last step. “You okay?” She asked as she crossed over to him.
“No, I knew this would happen, I knew I’d be a bad father.”
“Rahu.” She slipped her arms around his neck and pulled him down, letting her lips move gently against his. He groaned, lifting her and sitting her on top of a stack of boxes. She smiled against his lips and pulled back to look at him. “You are an amazing father.”
“Have I ever minced words with you?”
“That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t try at least once.”
She ran her fingers through his hair. “I mean it, you’re perfect. The boys love you.”
“I don’t see how, I always lose my temper. You would think after three years I would be used to their mood swings and messes and ability to make a mess out of anything.”
“Kids change every day. There is no getting used to anything. One minute they’re happy, the next minute they’re bawling their eyes out over some perceived injustice, but it gets better. Don’t bring yourself down.”
“Hello down there.” It was Baldr’s voice. “I was going to let you come up on your own, but I heard Albina come downstairs. You have company.”
“You could just come down here you know.” Rahu shot back in a irritated tone.
“Oh yeah because I totally want to be blinded.”
“I’ll wring your neck.”
“Albina, make him stop making idle threats.”
Albina laughed then yelled “we’ll be right there!”
“Okay” he answered then walked away. Albina pulled Rahu into another kiss. ‘Listen, I’ve told you before and I’m going to tell you again. Knowing when to walk away and let me or Baldr handle it makes you a good father. You get frustrated and angry easy and toddler triplets are enough to drive anybody over the edge. Too few people know what their limit is but you do and it’s good you walk away when you know you are too frustrated to deal with them. You know Baldr and I have it so you can get your breather and return.” he sighed and rested his head against hers “thank you for being so patient, with me and our boys”
“I know how hard you try Rahu. Those boys love you and I know how much you love them”
“I want to learn more patience though.”
“hey, this is the first time in a few months you’ve come down here. Thats pretty good” he chuckled “lets go see this guest. Hopefully the boys nap through whatever this is” Rahu carried Albina upstairs and to where the new scent was taking him. Seeing it was another male he kept Albina in his lap instead of setting her in a chair.
“Who are you?” Rahu asked.
“Now, now brother manners.” Baldr said as he took a seat. Though he was smiling, he was just as wary of this stranger.
“It’s alright, I’m Stepan, I have come to ask you to compete in my tournament.”
“Like a vampire tournament?”
“Yes, of course, how did you know?”
He sighed. “Because it’s about the only thing a vampire setting up a tournament would do. You want a show of skill, mental and physical. Most vampires do, especially one as young as you.”
“Compared to myself and others I am sure you are quite young, though there is nothing wrong with that. Age does not always breed strength. I was not born an assassin, it took me years to master everything, it turned me into a well oiled killing machine. I’m not in that line of work anymore though, I retired.”
“Then, will you use your skills and compete? It would be an honor to fight you and watch you fight.”
Rahu sighed then looked up at Albina. “What do you think?”
She smiled. “I think we should all go. We can take the boys on a nice trip and you can meet new people, maybe make friends.”
“I don’t need friends, I have you and our children.” Baldr cleared his throat. “Yes and you brother.”
He waved a hand teasingly as if having a brother was nothing. Albina laughed “I think it could be fun. It is a friendly one right?” She asked their guest “yes, of course there are bound to be serious injuries but it’s not meant for us to kill eachother. The other men brought their companions as well so you and your children will have people to watch with or just make friends with.”
“I’m for it if you are Rahu”
“alright, let our boys finish napping first. Albina and Baldr only just got them down”
“I’m fine with that. Thank you for joining. You and Albano are the ones I wanted the most. Do you know Albano Corvi”
“he served in a war?”
“yes, then I’m thinking of the right one. I would actually like to compete against that one. He might actually be a challenge” Baldr rolled his eyes at his brothers cockyness. “he served in a war?” Albina asked and Baldr said “not in this world. You wouldn’t know anything of it.”
“Oh, is he bringing anybody?”
“His mate and brother”
“cool, is his mate human?”
“was, he has given her eternal life”
“I guess I wouldn’t know anything about any of the others either huh?” Stepan smiled kindly though hesitantly, not wanting to piss off Rahu “I can answer anything about them. I’ve gathered the men and women I most admire. Even if I lose right away, this will be an amazing experience”
“I like to learn by observing, of course you are free to describe them if you wish, but I’ll know their strengths and weaknesses by watching them fight.”
“Very well, I guess I can talk about them to help pass time on our trip then.” He looked Rahu over. “You don’t seem to have any weaknesses.”
“He never does. He has the best poker face in the world.” Baldr said with a chuckle. “I mean until you get Albina and the boys involved, you touch them and it’s your funeral.”
“I wouldn’t dream of hurting your family, that would be incredibly low of me.” Stepan reassured them. “I hope to learn plenty from this experience.”
“I bet the boys will be excited to see their father fight. They’ve never seen you use your abilities before.” Albina added.
“Perhaps it will make up for my horrible behavior.”
It was about an hour later that their son’s were calling for Albina and she hurried up, Rahu following to help her get them ready for their trip. They all three smiled when they saw him and he dropped down onto his knees and hugged them, apologizing for losing his temper. He helped Albina change diapers and pack clothes for them and the children then carried their bags downstairs while Albina helped the boys down. Baldr broke away from his chat with Stepan and quickly packed his own bag. The kids looked questioningly at Stepan and he just smiled down at them.
“It’s okay boys.” Albina said, but the still stayed close to her and Rahu.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m sure they’ll warm up to me.” Stepan said.
“we dont have a lot of company over so they aren’t very used to new people being around’
“do they need to eat before we head out?”
“yeah, let me make us some sandwiches” she made sandwiches until everybody was full then walked out with everyone. Rahu, Albina and Baldr each took a boy on their shoulders. “where we are going is in this world. It’s why I came to get you last Rahu. It would have been easier if I didn’t have to get you one by one but showing up on someones door step with a group of strong vampires wouldn’t have made things go very well, not among creatures like us”
The trip was uneventful since not many creatures had the nerve to bother Rahu. The only thing that ever caused any ruckus was when one of the boys got fussy or didn’t want to listen. Albina was proud of her husband because of how well he handled them.
The place they finally stopped at was fairly big and looked like a large inn. It wasn’t the kind of place you would hold a match between vampires. Rahu looked at him and Stepan rubbed his neck. “The arena is in back, this is just a place I stay sometimes.”
“Sometimes?” Baldr asked.
“Well, a close friend owns this place and when I pitched the match idea to him, he thought it sounded cool so we got some help and had one built in the back.”
“I suspect the others are inside then?” Rahu said.
“Or out back practicing or getting to know each other.”
“Then I guess we should introduce ourselves.” They followed Stepan to the large house and he held the door open for them so they could all go in first since they had the kids. A couple of males and their mates were hanging out in the front room and Rahu came to a stop as he assessed them. “That one’s Albano.” He said, pointing at one of the males with his chin.
“He looks serious. It’s like looking at another Rahu.” Baldr said then laughed. “The other male too, a bunch of Rahu’s.”
“Let me introduce you guys.” Stepan waved to the group and they all turned and looked at the new arrivals.
“Albano, this is…” Stepan started.
“Rahu Lugh.” Albano said as he shook Rahu’s hand. “I know your scent, but not your face.”
“An assassin never shows his face, especially in a war.”
“You two were in a war together?” Albina asked.
“Not together exactly.” Albano answered. “They referred to him as the scourge of Italy, the darkness. I only ever smelled him. This is my mate Beatrice”
“I’m Edmond, this is my wife Freya and this young man is my son Jovani. He isn’t competing” Edmond said to Rahu and Rahu nodded “He must have a fairy as his mate. I smell demon too but the fairy is dominate”
“she is half fairy half demon but I’d also say the fairy blood is more dominate. She is outside with our girls, Fatima, and Avaset.”
Gregory spoke up now “I am Gregory and this is my mate Kifa. Once upon a time she would have never stepped into a room with this many vampires so forgive her if she startles a bit easy. She still can be jumpy at times when she isn’t just among family”
“she is a full blooded fairy, makes sense.”
“it’s nice to meet you guys though.” Kifa quickly threw in. She felt a little guilty that somtimes vampires still made her jump. “nice to meet you too” Albina said with a bright smile. Kifa smiled back and looked at the children “want to go out back with Donna? I bet Donna will paint you somthing amazing. Fatima and her husband are out there too. Have you ever seen a zombie?” the boys didn’t know what that was and though they were shy Kifa made them feel at ease. They looked at their mom who said “we will come too to meet them aswell”
“They sure are cute.” Kifa said and held out her hand to one of the boys. “Want to walk with me?” Vida looked up at his mother and Albina nodded. He took Kifa’s hand while Ingvar and Tevaugh took Albina’s. Rahu walked close to them, his posture protective of his mate and children. When the boys saw Donna painting butterflies they all took off running excitedly, reaching for them and giggling. They were introduced to everyone out back, Albina amazed that Lombard looked like a normal person.
“I really like your hair.” Albina said and Lombard smiled.
“Thank you.” The three happy little boys saw their parents talking to Lombard and came running over, Ingvar reaching for Lombard’s long braid.
“Ingvar, no, no.” Albina said as she reached for him.
“Oh it’s quite alright, our children loved my hair when they were little.” Lombard turned to look at the little boy who shyly retreated behind his mother. “It’s okay, you can play with my hair.” He held out his hands and Ingvar moved slowly towards him and let Lombard pick him up. Lombard grabbed his braid and pulled it over his shoulder, handing it to the little boy. “Do you want long hair too?” Ingvar nodded then pointed to Rahu.
“Like dad.” He answered softly.
Lombard smiled then asked Rahu and Albina “how old are they?”
“three, they are triplets”
“wow, I couldn’t imagine having three toddlers at once.”
“I couldn’t do it without my wife and brother” Rahu admitted. They all talked about their worlds and family members that weren’t there until their host, Stepan asked if Avaset and Etta would help him cook. They quickly went in and Donna said to Albina “I’m going to draw a bath for my girls. While I’m going that way I can show you where everything is incase you want to bathe your children.”
“thank you” Everybody went inside and Rahu was hesitant to but let his wife and sons walk alone to where Donna was guiding them. Albano sat down beside Rahu when he took a seat, neither were talkative which was why they were sitting on the couch together while everybody else was still talking. Baldr chuckled and soon was nudged by Biagio “they could be twins huh” Baldr chuckled a little more “yeah, so you’re Biagio?”
“yep, nice to meet someone who knows the struggle of having a brother like mine”
“What are you brats talking about?” Rahu asked.
“No doubt Biagio is filling his ears with talk of comic books and video games.” Albano said.
“Graphic novels brother and we’re talking about you and your twin. You look like two, dark brooding…”
“If you say Batman brother, I will end you.”
Both Baldr and Biagio started laughing. “Only Beatrice is allowed to call him Batman. It’s so cute how worked up he gets, I mean look at him.”
“Don’t worry, he’s not the only one. You should see Rahu with Albina. He just melts at the sight of her.” Baldr replied.
“Shall I make them dance Albano, I could do it so easily.” Rahu said as he glared at the two younger vampires.
“Oh how I would love to see that.” Albano replied with a wicked grin.
“I think perhaps we should stop picking on them.” Biagio said.
“Rahu would have us both looking ridiculous in front of everyone, then we’d never live it down.” Baldr agreed.
“Why don’t you take him to your room and show him Beatrice’s new book.” Albano waved them off.
“Alright, alright, come on Baldr.”
“Don’t think I won’t tell Albina you threatened us. Biagio, be sure to tell Beatrice so they can be taught a lesson.”
“Get before I go ahead and hypnotize you.” Rahu replied with a glare.
Dinner soon came and they all enjoyed their meal. It wasn’t until Stepan saw a few were done eating that he said “I don’t know if you want to talk about what I have planned now or after you lay your kids down for the night but I though I’d wait until they were down so we could all just talk. This is supposed to be friendly so I want to make sure its clear and established with everyone what I consider friendly or what you guys may consider friendly. I just thought it would be hard for the ones with kids if we didn’t wait unit bedtime”
“scared one of us might get pissed off and turn this thing ugly if we dont all agree on what friendly is?” Edmond asked with a smile and Stepan said “exactly, I chose you all for reasons. Those same reasons are why I don’t want anybody pissed” It was Albina that spoke now “I think waiting until the kids are in bed is better. Our boys already try to use their abilities and if they start messing around it’ll be very distracting”
“Okay, we’ll wait then. Only thing thats set is I want an intelligence type match first. Whats the use of brute strength if the opponent can outsmart. I can admit without shame I know Rahu, Albano and Edmond could wipe the floor with me if smarts and tricks played no role. No offense to you guys though Avaset, Fatima and Gregory. Undoubtedly you share the same views on their power. In any case Fatima I view you as the smartest participant. You’re very tactical and impress me in so many ways. I picked you for this because of the fact you may not be particularly powerful but you more than make up for it with your mind”
“Who do you think is going to win?” Wera, the daughter of Jovani and Donna asked Stepan. “Being fully honest I don’t know. It wont be me by any means but it’s still fun to try.”
Everyone else finished eating and Rahu and Albina took their boys upstairs and bathed them since they had food smeared across their faces and their clothes. Once they were dried and dressed they insisted Rahu tell them a story and Albina sat on one side of the large bed while he sat on the other. He liked to tell them stories about the time he was an assassin, but he made sure to leave the killing parts out and make up something nicer. Once he was done speaking, both he and Albina kissed their foreheads and left their room, leaving the door cracked in case they were needed. Baldr was waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs and took them into the den where everyone was gathered.
“I hope they’re able to rest here.” Stepan said as Rahu took a seat and pulled Albina into his lap.
“They’ll be fine, they’re pretty easy when it comes to sleeping.” Albina replied with a smile.
“Good, so the rules for the tournament.” He looked nervous that he was about to tell these vampires what to do. “Uh, no blood draining, that’s kind of cheap and if someone says they’re done then that means the match stops. You’re allowed to use any of your abilities, but no using people’s family against them, especially children and of course no killing.”
“I am sure those are the rules we tend to abide by in our regular lives.” Rahu stated. “Though I’m sure we have all done our fair share of killing and blood draining when it was called for.”
“That’s his way of saying he agrees with your rules.” Baldr added.
“Good, so everyone else agrees then?” The others nodded. “Great, I guess we’ll start in the morning with a battle of wits, after we’ve all had breakfast and coffee of course.”
Stepan stood “though my admiration makes me want to stay and talk with you all I’ll give you space to be with your families. Who wants to help me with breakfast tomorrow?”
“I will” Kifa said so Gregory decided to aswell “I’ll help too”
“good, see you bright and early” everybody shuffled into the rooms they were given for the night. In their bedroom Rahu held Albina between his legs, resting his head on hers “if things get out of hand atall you and Baldr just get the boys away understand? Do not be stubborn”
“woah, no fighting?” Albina smiled at his shock “I can be stubborn but not stupid. I can tell these are very skilled men and women. They all seem kind though so I’m not worried. That little girl Wera is adorable isn’t she?” Rahu chucked “another hint you want a girl”
“It would be fun”
“for you maybe, for me not so much’
“men will start sniffing around, undoubtedly men who wont be good enough for her”
“Rahu, how would you like other fathers to talk about your sons that way” Rahu groaned “give me another year or two. That way the boys can help me with the trouble I’ll have having girls to watch after.”
“I’m sure our girls will be strong, smart and know their worth. If you bring a girl up to respect herself she’ll chase the ones you wouldn’t want her with off herself.”
“we are vampires, not humans. I know there are human males who dont like no but vampire men are much less likely to accept a no and leave them alone”
“and in such a case I’m sure they’ll feel comfortable and free enough with us to talk to us about their trouble and have us help them”
“well, I still need another year or two before we try for more children. We’ve had triplets so chances are we’ll have triplets again”
“triplets girls” she giggled before continuing “with how flustered you get with the boys I can only imagine”
“I don’t mean to be testy, having children is just harder than I thought it would be.”
“I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy.”
He huffed. “Says you, the woman who can do it all. I can sneak into a castle undetected and kill a man, but I lose my temper with a small child who doesn’t know how to tell me he hurt himself. Sometimes I feel like a failure as a father.”
She moved onto her knees and kissed his lips. “Never say that Rahu. You are an amazing father and everyone loses their temper sometimes.”
“Not you. It’s like water rolling off a duck with you. It’s like negativity doesn’t even touch you.”
“What about when I was a pregnant, crying mess? I went from happy to sad to wanting to throw things at you and you were so wonderful. I’ve never seen someone so calm and collected.”
He stroked her cheek. “You’ve done something to me, made me all soft.” He sighed, a smile pulling at his lips. “How I love you. I think my heart would cease to beat if I ever lost you.”
“I love you too, with all my heart.” He crushed her to him, his lips pressing into hers. He got lost in her so easily. Everything about her was amazing, her smile, her laugh, her stubbornness. He had become so captivated by her that he knew a life without her would be more tortuous than hell. He found himself wanting to touch her and before he knew it he had them both undressed and her pressed into the mattress, his lips and hands moving over her. Every sound and movement she made drove him a little crazier and he made love to her wildly, wanting her to know how needy she made him. He collapsed next to her on the bed and drew her into his arms, both of their hearts and breathing out of control. She fell asleep quickly and he kissed her forehead and closed his eyes, following her into sleeps sweet embrace.
When they woke in the morning they could tell breakfast was already being made so they dressed and went to the very next room to check on their toddlers. All three were gone and she felt Rahu tense “calm down, Baldr probably had them or everybody else was nice enough to mind them while we slept” They walked out and Lombard said “outside with Wera, Rhetta and their parents. The boys got up and since their kids were up they opted to just watch them too”
“Thanks” Albina said then walked with her husband outside. The boys all squealed when they noticed their parents and ran to hug them. After the hug Albina thanked them too and Donna said “oh they were no trouble” Soon they were all sitting around the table and enjoying their breakfast. Stepan was beside himself with want for them to finish and begin but he didn’t dare rush his guests. He too could see they were all friendly but being in a room with all his idols was a bit intimidating.
When everyone was done eating, Albina and Baldr took the boys upstairs to get them cleaned up, Donna following with Wera while the others took the dishes to the kitchen. Everyone pitched in to get things cleaned then went back to the dining room. Albina, Baldr, and Donna came back down and told everyone they were going to take the kids outside to play. “If you need me, call for me.” Rahu said and kissed Albina before letting her go.
“So, what kind of mental games are we going to play?” Fatima asked.
“Well, I want to play a kind of mental chess game I guess you could say. Hold on just a second.” He got up and went over to a cabinet. He pulled it open and removed a box made of dark wood. He sat it on the dining room table and lifted the lid. “These headbands will let us connect psychically.” He held up the blue one. “I can create mazes, obstacle courses, stuff like that. The green ones are for you guys to compete against each other. When I compete against one of you, someone else will set up the match.”
“Interesting.” Rahu said.
“Would you like first match? You can challenge whomever you wish.”
“Shall we Albano?”
“Great, should be interesting, Loser isn’t out right away. Loser just plays the next person in this stage of it. I’m sure you guys get what I’m saying”
“Yeah, once you win you’re fine and last person to lose its over for” Fatima said and Stepan nodded. “so you two ready?” They walked out to the arena and were followed by everyone else aside from Albina, Baldr, and Donna who were still letting the children play. There really wouldn’t be much for them to watch during this anyway so there wasn’t much point in wrestling the children down just yet. Stepan explained everything to Gregory who projected it into everyones minds so Stepan wouldnt have to repeat himself. Stepans inner fanboy was going wild at the thought of these two heading it off first. Edmond was powerful two but he considered these two guys about evenly matched and above the rest. The knew the only time he would be more excited was when they fought eachother later.
Stepan deeply hoped neither would lose their way out in these mental games because he wanted to see them fight so badly. Stepan selected a hard one and customized it to be even more so so he could really see how intelligent they both were. These guys and Fatima deserved real thought to be put into their games. “Okay, it’s ready guys” The two men slipped their headbands on, ready for whatever Stepan threw at them.
“Let’s start with a simple guessing game to get you both warmed up.” He projected a table in front of each of them and on top of each table were five cards, turned face down. Beneath those cards five different shapes were carved into the wood. “Match the cards with the shapes without turning them over.”
Both of them made quick work of the cards and he then turned them over, smiling when he saw they were all matched perfectly. “Come on now boy, give us a bigger challenge.” Rahu said and Albano laughed.
He projected them both at the base of a tall tower and they both arched an eyebrow in question. “Each floor has a puzzle and it gets harder and harder the higher you go.”
“That’s more like it.”
Albina and Donna brought the kids back in when they started yawning, wanting them to have a nap. Once they had their kids settle in, they went downstairs and Albina sat down next to Baldr. “Everyone looks like they’re expecting a real battle.” She said and Baldr chuckled.
“I know. Who do you think will win?”
“Rahu of course, or he’ll at least tie, but I’ll root for him a hundred percent.” Rahu’s lips curved into a smile and Baldr pointed at him.
“I think he heard you, he looks pleased.”
In this first round of mental prowess Rahu one by barely a second. Albano pulled his band off with a smile and nodded, Rahu nodded back and Baldr laughed saying “I think thats the dark, scary angst way of good game” Albina giggled, causing an even more intense death glare to be shot at Baldr who showed no fear at all. Fearing to speak until Rahu was looking at Stepan, Stepan finally said “Okay, you may sit with your mate now and Albano will challenge whomever he wants” Rahu walked away wordlessly, glad to be able to sit with her for awhile. Albano challenged Fatima “Stepan has spoken so highly of you. I’d like to see this brain at work” she excitedly accepted the challenge and they began as soon as Stepan was ready.
By lunch time the winners thus far that were cleared for this particular part of seeing who was better were Fatima, Albano, Rahu and Edmond. It was a late lunch but that’s just how it fell since they couldn’t really pause a match. “sorry if anybody’s overly hungry being how late this lunch is but we can break two hours before the remaining players face off.” They all agreed on the two hour lunch and went in. “who are you going to challenge Avaset?” Stepan heard her mate ask over lunch “Stepan” Avaset was hundreds of years older than Stepan but he felt confident. Smarts was somthing he was cocky about. He hadn’t worried much about loseing in this first competition. All he would have to surpass is Avaset and Gregory.
Gregory had very intelligent parents but as far as Stepan knew a majority of his efforts were channeled to resistance of attacks and strengthening his body. Only his mate Kifa was heavy into book learning. When they all resumed after the long lunch and Stepan ended up surprised at how intelligent Gregory actually was. Stepan guessed that having Kifa for a wife probably drew him more towards studies since Kifa liked learning about things. It was Avaset that lost out today. Stepan quickly said after her disqualifying match “You may go home if you wish, I’d understand but you are welcome to stay, socialize and see how this all turns out. You are still someone I think a lot of and I’d enjoy spending more time with you and your mate if you decide to stay”
“I’d really like to see how this turns out.” She replied and he smiled happily at the chance to learn more about her.
“You have a brilliant mind Stepan.” Rahu said and Stepan looked like he was about to burst from the compliment.
“Do you really think so?”
“You could use a bit of work on your focus, but your puzzles are brilliant and your mazes wonderfully complex. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges you presented, as well as getting to see how your mind works.” He stroked his chin, a contemplative look on his face.
“I know that look.” Baldr said then chuckled.
“What do you mean?” Stepan asked.
“He’s working out a strategy.” Albina answered.
“For when you get to fight him.” Baldr added. “You see, Rahu is always thinking ahead, it’s his assassin’s mind. Always plan ahead and always have a back up option if your first goes south.”
“You should do the same.” Rahu said. “You see, you have the upper hand because you got to see all of our minds at work.”
“Why would you tell me that, won’t that information effect you negatively?”
“You can have all the information in the world, but if you don’t know how to put it to use then it is simply useless. Learn from what you have seen, think about the mistakes you made and improve. A fight between two people is not just about the physical aspects of each individual, but the mental as well.”
Stepan smiled, his face reflecting such appreciation for Rahus advice. Albinas heart warmed and she was proud of her husband for being so kind to the young vampire. Stepan cleared his throat “so I figured we could all just relax for the remainder of today.” everyone agreed and took the chance to be with their families and learn more about one another. Over dinner that night Wera and Ingvar talked happily until her tail snapped up and hit him in the face. Ingvar held the gash, sucking air between his teeth. Wera gasped and covered her mouth with both hands. “Oh no, I’m sorry Ingvar. It was an accident” She started crying and Ingvar said “It’s okay.” Wera shook her head “I dont mean to” Donna quickly got up and painted it closed before picking up her daughter and holding her.
Jovani apologized to Rahu and Albina “she really doens’t mean to. The tip is sharp and when she’s particularly happy or excited being so young she somtimes hits people since she hasnt quite grown into how long it is”
“we can see she didn’t mean to. It’s okay Wera. He’s alright” Albina answered. “I want to go to our room momma” Wera said into her moms shoulder “Wera, you dont have to be embarrassed” Donna tried. “stay Wera” Ingvar also said.
“Do you want to stay sweetie?” Donna asked and Wera nodded. Donna put her down. She hugged Ingvar and he squeezed her back.
“See, everything’s alright. Besides, Ingvar is tough.” Rahu said, giving Wera a smile. Albina laced her fingers through his. Though he was usually only affectionate toward his family, children were the one thing he had come to easily show kindness to and she was proud of him for that.
“Our boys are like their father in that respect, always able to brush off being hurt like it was nothing.” Albina said.
“He’s just infected him with his lug headedness.” Baldr said as he draped an arm over his sister in laws shoulders. They’ll probably all master his way of terrifying you into silence.”
“I should hope so, then no stranger would ever dare try to hurt them.” Rahu said with pride in his voice.
“Oh gods, can you imagine one of the, sending some weirdo away, some older man or woman come for them and then one look sends then whimpering off like a beaten dog.” Baldr teased and everyone laughed.
“Perhaps once we are home I will begin teaching them how to keep a straight emotionless stare.”
“Rahu love, let them be children, there is plenty of time for training.” Albina said with a warm smile.
“As you wish my love.” Rahu kissed her forehead.
The next day after breakfast Stepan cleared his throat and stood to address everyone “Today I want to see how stealthy everyone is. I’m going to give two bags to Kifa. One will have names and the other will have a starting place. The names have been enchanted so you can’t draw your own. This contest will have largely to do with everyones honor since we cant all see everybody all the time but I take you all for honest people. Basically the name you receive is the person you need to hit in the back with a paintball. Not the front or anywhere else, the back. Getting their back shows you were able to sneak up on them clearly. I want you all to do it without any mental manipulations. You can fly, do elemental magic and things of that sort but use your judgment on what would be cheating. As I said I see you all as people who can play a fair game without being monitored. Does anybody need me to explain how to use a paintball gun? They are already loaded so that isn’t an issue. They aren’t dangerous but be mindful of the children because they do sting”
Gregory chuckled, thinking of all the paintball fights he had had with his family. Rahu shrugged “its a gun, easy enough to figure out though I don’t really use them”
“Good, and every one is fine with Kifa holding the bags?” Everyone agreed so he finished with “theres really no limit to how far anybody can go. Once you lose both you and the victor over you just comes and sits on my porch.” Stepan fetched the bags to give to Kifa. Stepan then distributed the guns so they could all draw. Once they drew they all ran off to their starting positions. Albina was happy to see Rahu so excited to play this. He didn’t really look it but she knew him well enough to know he was excited.
Rahu stalked silently through the forest, quickly scaling a large tree and crouching down on one of the branches. He had drawn Edmond’s name and was confident he could beat him. He closed his eyes, calling on any wolves in the vicinity. He waited in silence and was pleased when two large males circled the base of his tree. “Find the one called Edmond, force him to come to me. Howl when you are close.” He ordered and the wolves took off. He was sure Edmond would be searching for his scent, so he took the dagger hidden in his boot and sliced his hand open. He was sure if Albina ever saw him doing such a thing, she would fuss over him. Even if he reassured her. He rubbed some blood on the tree he was in then jumped down and marked other trees in a pattern meant to confuse. His scent would go in many directions, winding so Edmond wouldn’t know which way to go. He climbed into a tree in the middle of all the ones he had marked ad waited. A wolf howl sounded off in the distance and his lips pulled into a smile. The hunt was on and he was ready for his prey.
Edmond had been put on guard since he knew that howl was because the wolf had spotted him which meant it was his pursuers scout but Rahu still skillfully took Edmond by surprise and removed him from the game. When everyone came back the remaining were Fatima, Rahu, & Albano. Rahu seemed displeased that Stepan had lost out “I want to fight you. I didn’t give you advice for no reason Stepan”
“But I lost”
“so, you set this up and I want to fight you. Do you two honestly care if he still fights us?”
“I don’t” Fatima said then Albano chimed in “I don’t either”
“okay, you’re still fighting us”
“wow, awesome. Well, now that we know who it is narrowed to use the rest of today to think up a strategy that would be good against your opponents. We will fight tomorrow after breakfast.”
The next day everyone went out back to the arena to watch the battle between Rahu, Albano, Stepan and Fatima. Lombard seemed tense but he had good reason. She was obviously smart and quick but Rahu and Albano were intimidating men. Albina didn’t really worry though. She knew atleast her husband would only hurt her enough to make her give up.
“So how will we be facing off?” Rahu asked.
“I think you should pick you opponent Rahu. In all honesty, I think we’re all interested in facing you.” Albano said. “Seeing your mind at work was truly amazing, I’ve never seen a process like yours and putting myself up against you physically sounds not only fun, but educational.”
“That does sound fun.” Fatima agreed.
“You set this up Stepan, what would you like to do?” Rahu asked.
“I like that idea.” Stepan answered eagerly.
“Very well, then I will fight you last. Observe us all closely.”
Albina smiled and Baldr nudged her. “Look at him being all teachery.” He said.
“That’s not even a word Baldr.”
“It is now, but seriously, look at him, it’s adorable.” Rahu’s eyes jumped to his brother’s face and Baldr started laughing. “Yeah that’s right, we’re talking about you.”
“You look great my love.” Albina said and Rahu gave her a warm smile. “There, I’ve kept him from killing you.”
“He loves me too much to kill me anyway. It’s why I tease him so much, no danger”
“shh or I might not be able to save you” The triplets all started laughing, a sound that always made their parents smiled no matter what was going on. They began, Albano and Rahu already messing up the stadium but being sure not to harm anybody there. As expected Rau took out opponent after opponent, finally ready to face Stepa. Stepan was sweaty with nervousness but eager to face Rahu and hopefully not make a fool of himself in this fight.
“Come on, don’t look so worried. Just focus.” Rahu said as they circled each other.
Stephan found himself unnerved by Rahu’s unblinking stare. He was so much like a predator, cat like in his movements. It was more than intimidating, it was terrifying. They both came to a stop and Stepan launched his attack. Rahu amazed him, seeming to anticipate his every move and moving so fast he was nearly a blur. His confidence in his abilities was amazing and there was not a hint of cockiness. Every dodge, every punch and kick, was calculated. Rahu was every bit the assassin Stepan had heard about and seemed almost God like. He found himself suddenly knocked back and into the arena wall, having faltered for just a moment.
“Guard up Stepan. Never drop it.” Rahu said as Stepan got to his feet. “Fight with confidence.”
“It’s not over?”
“Do you want it to be over?”
“No, I can still go.”
“Then fight and focus.”
Stepan came back at Rahu, thoroughly enjoy every moment of this. They sparred until Stepan was too worn and sore to continue. He thanked Rahu for teaching rather than just fighting and told him how lucky his boys were that they not only had such a strong father, but one that would be willing and actually good at teaching. Rahu smiled “it wasn’t any problem. You aren’t as bad as you believe. You have amazing potential.” Stepan smiled and they all went in to relax. Everyone spent a little over a week getting to know eachother but life did have to resume so they all went their separate ways and back to their lives.
Upon arriving home, putting their kids to bed and climbing into their own Albina asked “did you enjoy that?”
“I would do it again if asked.”
“Stepan was right you know, you’re an amazing teacher”
“at least I’ll be able to do somthing well when it comes to them”
“You do many things amazingly” Rahu kissed her and pulled Albina closer “They will be incredible boys. We will both see to that” Albina smiled and relaxed into him. Going to Stepans event had been incredibly fun and she was glad he would go again. Albina was only happier to think on how good of a father Rahu was despite his lack of patience. He loved their boys and would die for them or any other children they may have. Life was perfect as far as she was concerned and the only change she ever hoped to see was more children.
~ The End ~