The Vampire, Lord Barkolak, looked down on the two babes at his feet. Despite the destruction around them, they were unharmed. As if reading his thoughts and seeking to disagree, the one named Kaid scrunched up his nose, his bottom lip quivering as he loosened a wail.

Barkolak tipped his head to the side, feeling completely out of his depth. Leaning down, he lifted the boy into his arms, “Shhhh,” he said, looking around the ravaged hut for something that might help. 

A soft chuckle sounded behind him, and he turned to see his wife-mate, Mora. The curve of her mouth was more smirk than smile. “He is either hungry or has shite his swaddling.”

“I…ummm…what should I do?” Barkolak asked, holding the infant out at arm’s length.

Mora rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she motioned toward one of her underlings. “Take them to the castle,” she commanded, chin-pointing to the two babes. She had not shared her husband’s dream-visions, but she’d listened to his retelling of those dark dreams.

A new moon was headed toward their planet, huge and red. It would change all life, as they knew it, opening the door to many dark creatures, unleashing the Lycan and Vampires from the constraints of moving about only at night. If they did not find a way to end the fighting–at all levels–none would survive.  Muuroon would become a cold, dead planet.

Jaw clenching, Mora looked between the twin boys–Kaid and Avon Stormcloud–as two of the lesser Vampires carried them from the hut. “Where will we find the other two?” she asked her husband. 

Barkolak shrugged. “Naamah will reveal that in time,” he said. “I know nothing but their names.  Ly’essa and An’Tigeni Rhoslyn.”

“Aye, thus be it,” Mora said, laying a hand on Barkolak’s bicep. “Though how four human children are destined to save our world, I cannot even fathom.”

Barkolak had no idea either, but he believed in the words of the goddess Naamah. She’d spoken to him–sent visions. He could do nothing but that which she’d commanded, and hope it was enough.

He had his marching orders, so to speak. He would raise the four children as his own. Teach them the ways of the Vampire. Every other year, they would go to the mountain forests where they’d find one of Gaeia’s temples. A place almost forgotten by all, where an ancient Lycan elder made his home. He would teach them the ways of the Lycan for six months, before the twins returned to Barkolak’s castle.

The directives made no sense to him. Lycan and Vampires were mortal enemies and had been from the day of their conception. Yet, as he understood it, the twin goddesses had ended their great fight. They’d cleaned the puss from eons-old wounds, and embraced one another as sisters again, the reconciliation fueled by their dream-visions. 

“Twenty-five years,” Mora said quietly from beside him as they exited the ravaged hut. “And then you will turn them?” 

Barkolak glanced around the small human village, which now lay in burning and smoking ruin. Neither the Vampires nor Lycan were responsible for this atrocity. It was the work of humans–warring factions–each seeking gold and power, and fueled by blood-lust.

His dark eyes met those of his mate, and he nodded. That was the plan, as he understood it, although it had not been spelled out for him. The twins would be turned, in their twenty-fifth life-year…but by whom—and into what—Barkolak did not know. He assumed, he’d do the turning, and the twins would become vampires.

“Twenty-five years,” he whispered, knowing that neither he nor his mate would survive beyond that point in time. He’d seen his own death—at the hands of humans—protecting his foster-children.