Ambrogio looked distraught.
Nikolas sat in disbelief. The door had remained open the entire time, asking him, daring him, to walk out.
Yet he remained.
Ambrogio said “I am tired of this. I want to move on to another life. Another existence. Another way of being. Yet, I have enjoyed my run. Being able to work myself out of trouble, survive and thrive where others have fallen. Defeating those who would kill me. Being able to steer the course of humankind, sometimes it was successful, sometimes it was a massive failure, other times the results were so unpredictable as to end up being counterproductive. I have out smarted gods, hidden our species from humans, and adapted to change. You have no idea how rapidly things have changed in recent centuries. It is madness what humans have been doing lately”
Nikolas listened. He pondered about the idea of Ambrogio giving up. He wondered if he was not being truthful. Or that he was playing a game of half-truths and omissions. That maybe he was a pawn in a game he had no idea about.
Even in his story he had admitted to deception, that he enjoyed the game, the survival, the outwitting of gods.
He shifted his position. Reminded again of the physical wounds, the almost end of his own life.
He needed rest.
He wasn’t sure if he should leave.
Or whether the offer was a ploy.
It seemed unlikely to be genuine, mostly because nobody could prove his existence meant those who met him met their end. It means that leaving a room through an open door because a vampire says you can could mean death.
He decided to stay.
While he wanted to leave, he also wanted to help, an irony he knew was causing havoc in his mental background, and he also wanted to end Ambrogio’s existence.
He was considering the game. How the vampire wanted him to play, and what expectations the vampire had of him?
The only option the vampire was truly giving him was staying. This means the vampire was playing games. But what if he played a game the vampire did not expect?
Nikolas decided he was already dead. He knew he was protected by God, even if he died, he was protected.
He flatly stated “You are not really interested in ending your existence. You enjoy it too much.”
Ambrogio almost smiled as he said “I do want to alter my existence. I want to move on. The issue is not whether I want to move on or not, it is the place I go to next that I would like control over. Currently I am without the Silver Bow of Artemis, and even then, I can’t carry it. Without the bow, the key to where I go next remains with Hades. If I turn up at the Underworld with the bow, even 3000 odd years later, I am fulfilling the deal, my soul will be returned, then I gain options. But, even then, there is the issue of Selene. Half the story is my story, the other half is Selene. We want to be together, properly.”
Nikolas pushed “You make sense. I believe you about Selene. Yet, why now? What has changed so much that you have decided this is your time to move on?”
Ambrogio closed the door. The offer was over, a new deal was being presented.
Ambrogio walked to Nikolas. The walk was smooth, steady, athletic. He moved slowly while covering the distance quickly. An illusion of deliberate slow movement and rapid speed combined.
“Have you been watching the world change? Even in your lifetime, surely you see things changing. It is harder to see, I suppose, but you should still see it. In your, roughly forty years of living, you have seen computers rise up, travel without real restriction, food is everywhere, communication is rapid, even in your lifetime, you see change happen rapidly yet you are not even aware of how unusual it is.”
Ambrogio stood close as he continued.
“For 3000 years, for the most part, humans did about the same thing year on year. Things fluctuated, wars would come and go, technology had slight improvements. Then, about one hundred years ago, things became strange, unsettling. Cars appeared out of nowhere. Planes not long after. The two World Wars were unlike anything handed out previously, and then the nuclear weapons. But the progress, as your species call it, didn’t abate, it quickened. Viruses of destruction are made, chemicals developed, small cities turned into mega-cites, the forests disappeared, and humans lay waste to everything in the name of agriculture.”
Ambrogio looked at Nikolas, considered his thoughts for a moment, then said “Vampire are seen as parasitic. Yet in my entire existence, barring a few mistakes in population size, our numbers live comfortably within what our prey can deal with. We do not overfeed, over populate, or destroy more than we need. We simply feed and enjoy our existence.”
He sat down beside Nikolas, the chill, or absence of soul, crossed the small gap between then, sending a wave of unpleasantness through him. “You are correct in saying I do not really want to end my existence. I enjoy myself immensely. But I have seen the signs many times over the eons. I have seen the plague of mice go from being unable to move because each step squashes one underfoot, to total population crash, in a matter of days. I see the signs clearly, and humans are there now. But you have done more to the planet than just over populate, you are risking total destruction. Now, while I believe humans will survive, there may not be enough of you for vampires to survive alongside you. If that happens, my time will come, and Hades will have me for eternity.”
Nikolas asked, “You want to complete your mission for Hades before the environment gets rid of humans?”
“Precisely, and that time has come. Much like the time, all those years ago, when Artemis was offering me a deal of being with Selene without me being able to BE with Selene, I figured I may as well take the deal, then I have time to find a way to fix my problem later. The problem now is, I can’t stop humans, which is ironic given humans are nowhere near as powerful or smart as the gods are and I was able to deal them out of the picture.”
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