Origins (Page 49)

"It shan’t be possible to picture this hero’s life," Lockwood continued, "but in a portrait in which Giuseppe is flanked by his two fallen sons, heroes of the Battle of Willow Creek." Damon let out a low, rattling scoff. "The portrait he paints," he muttered, "should contain the muzzle flash of Father’s rifle." He rubbed the place where Father’s bullet had ripped through his chest only a week earlier.

Mayor Lockwood looked out over his congregation. "A menace has descended on Mystic Falls, and only a brave few have risen to the challenge of protecting all that we hold dear. Jonathan, Giuseppe, and I stood shoulder to shoulder against the threat. Now we must heed Giuseppe’s last words as a call to arms."

Lockwood’s voice dragged with it the scent of smoky, blackened wood from the destroyed church on the opposite side of the cemetery. He was talking, ostensibly, about the groups of Union and Confederate soldiers who had been nipping about our part of Virginia for months, but there was no mistaking that he really meant vampires. Vampires like the ones Damon and I had been shot trying to free, like the ones Damon and I had become.

"I could do it," I told Damon. "I could run out there and tear out all of their throats before they knew it."

"What’s stopping you, brother?" he hissed. I knew his encouragement came only from the possibility of me dying in the act.

I held my breath and listened to Damon’s panting, to the droning lies rising from Father’s plot, and to some kind of clicking, like a watch or a fingernail tapping against a mausoleum wall. I wasn’t used to the rawness of my senses; the world gave me so much more as a vampire than it had as a human.

"Come," I said, putting an arm around him. "Let’s get one last look at Mystic Falls’ finest citizens."

He didn’t say anything but leaned into me, allowing me to hold him up as we moved from Clementine’s bleeding body toward the grave site. We were just at a mausoleum a hundred yards from Father’s grave when Lockwood introduced Gilbert to recite a prayer.

Gilbert licked his lips. As he read some prayer or another out loud, I noticed the clicking once more. It picked up in speed as we neared the crowd.

The clicking was now a steady, insistent rattle –and it seemed to be coming directly from Jonathan’s hand. Then, with my mother’s wings stretched wide behind him, Jonathan Gilbert consulted the clicking object in his palm.

My blood ran cold. The compass. Jonathan had created a compass that, rather than pointing north, identified vampires.

Suddenly, Jonathan looked up. His eyes locked on Damon and me instantly.

"Demon!" He let out an unholy shriek and pointed in our direction.

"I think he means us, brother," Damon said with a short laugh.