Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
Gabriel de León is met in his cell by Jean-François the coldblood. He wants to know about the Grail and he wants to know Gabriel's story before the last of his line is gone. He gifts him with powdered blood of his maker, Margot, which Gabriel smokes, losing himself briefly, then begins telling the story of his birth and growing into a man. He has his mother's name, de León, because he's a bastard, born of a handsome drunken blacksmith. When he was eight, the Day Star died and the darkness began, and when he was thirteen, he saw his first vampire.
His sister, Amélie, and friend, Julieta, went missing and were killed by a vampire, then they returned and killed Julieta's mother. At thirteen, Gabriel axed Julieta. Amélie attacked, but when Gabriel tried to get her off, her blood began to boil. His younger sister Celene ran to get help and others arrived then and set the vampires on fire. No one knew what happened, or how Gabriel survived.
His mother was never the same after that and his stepfather's beatings and drinking got worse. When he was fifteen, his stepfather attacked, saying something about him being a bastard, and Gabriel knocked him back and cracked his head open, blood spilling across the floor. Gabriel was drawn to the blood for some reason. His mother told him something raged within him, but what, she couldn't say. Later, he went to make out with his girlfriend, Ilsa, and as they almost had sex, she told him they couldn't because she was on her blood. So he lowered his mouth down to her instead, relishing in the blood as fangs grew and he bit into her thigh. What is he? Did his sister's curse pass onto him or is he something else?
Angry men separated them and Gabriel ran home, his mother protective, his stepfather not at all. The priest came to the house then, condemning him, but he attacked him and threw him back like he was nothing. Then riders came, silversaints, and they took Gabriel away to fight the Dead. The silversaints were called that because their bodies were tattooed with silver ink used as armor against the Dead who feared it. Now Gabriel himself is covered, but the vampire interviewing him does not react to it, because God hates Gabriel now more than he hates vampires and his silver has no power.
As Gabriel travels with the silversaints, he learns about the coldbloods and that his true father was a vampire, and what he is, a paleblood. His true father was a vampire and now he has his power running through his veins. He also learned about wretcheds and highbloods. Wretcheds are vampires that are basically zombies. They were people who were killed by vampires and died, but returned after some time as a corpse and now they have no mental faculties. Highbloods are vampires who rise quickly after death and maintain their youth and beauty and minds.
The Riders arrive at the monastery and meet the blacksmith who gives Gabriel a beautiful silver sword which he names Lion Claw. He learns more about palebloods and how they heal more quickly as they age. He also gets a steed and meets a beautiful sister novice, Astrid, who is beaten by the prioress for claiming the horse he chose was hers. After, Gabriel goes to Mass where he gets his first silver tattoo on the palm of his left hand and then an older member of the silversaints is killed in the same ritualistic manner as the ill begotten son of their god in a ritual called the Red Rite. He is strapped to a wheel, ceremoniously lightly flayed and burned, then his throat is slit, and he’s tossed into the river below. His thirst for blood was overtaking his body and he chose to die a man rather than a vile beast.
Next Gabriel goes through a trial that will determine what his vampire father's line is, one of four, and the power that was bestowed upon him. The ability to read minds, the ability to control minds, the ability to control animals and to see through their eyes and a strength so great and rare that everyone fears it. Gabriel is given powdered vampire blood called sanctus to strengthen him and the test begins. A wretched is released on him, then beast dogs attack, then he's challenged to use his mind. No powers manifest however and he is declared a frailblood, someone whose father wasn't strong enough to pass down a power.
After this, Gabriel stops telling the beginning of his story and moves on to the time when he finds the Grail. He is alone now with only his sword and his horse. And then many wretcheds attack, so they run. His horse falls and breaks his leg, so Gabriel must kill him, but his sword is also broken and now she is speaking in his bloodthirst-addled brain. He continues on, kills some wretcheds and leaves some non-wretcheds to die, steals another horse and rides like hell to a town. In the town he sees Chloe, a young girl from his first days of the silversaints. She asks if Astrid is with him, but no, he says she is at home. Chloe is after the Grail and, after he laughs at her, they are approached by the Bishop of the village. He wants to talk to Gabriel, but he's belligerently drunk and a scuffle breaks out. Chloe describes him as the best of the silversaints, The Black Lion with his sword, Ashdrinker, but he's not acting the best right now. He staggers up to bed.
Gabriel wakes in the middle of the night to a vampire with long dark hair floating outside his window, pale and cold and gorgeous. He lets her in and gets a vampire blowjob and a violent bite. He wakes up later, summoned by the Bishop. A coach has arrived, driven by coldbloods, and one of them is Danton Voss, the Prince of Forever, son of The Forever King. Gabriel smokes some of his sanctus and goes out to meet them, thinking they are there for him, but they are not. They are after a boy in Chloe's group that left looking for the Grail.
The coldbloods do not realize who Gabriel is until he unsheathes Ashdrinker and almost kills them all. He doesn't kill Danton, but he does cut his arm off. Danton says he'll regret it as Gabriel pulls the heart out of Danton's female companion. Then he takes off after Chloe, who he finds with her crew surrounded by wretcheds. Gabriel goes to help, but they're soon overwhelmed. Then a highblood female comes to... Help? The priest in the group, Rafa, tries to banish her and Saorise the red lioness butcher comes to attack the vampire, but she bursts into red moths and flies away. Chloe gets bit, but Gabriel tends to her wounds as he is introduced to her crew, all except the boy that Danton was after. The priest tells a tale of the Grail, a prophecy, and the boy, Dior, knows where it is. And the Forever King knows he knows, which is why he sent his youngest son, Danton, after them.
Chloe talks about Astrid and how she wishes she were there to convince Gabriel to believe in the Grail and help. He tells her that they have been married for eleven years and have a daughter, Patience, then agrees to ride with them for a little while.
Jean-François doesn't like the way the story is going, how it skipped from Gabriel starting with the silversaints and meeting Astrid and now they're married with a daughter? That's not how stories are told! They take a story break for the vampire to get a "kiss" from his servant, aka he feeds from her. Gabriel feels extreme thirst and arousal, but refuses to drink from her as well.
They return to the story, back to when Gabriel was fifteen and training with the silversaints. Everyone bullies him and then he gets another tattoo from Astrid which makes him feel immense pain but also arousal because of how she looks at him. Not long after this, Greyhand, a leader of the silversaints and Gabriel’s mentor, comes in, declaring it's time for a hunt. They train some after this and we learn that coldbloods have their own rules they have to follow: they can't cross running water, can't enter without being invited, can't walk on holy ground or stand to see holy objects. The group going out on the hunt talks about how winter is coming and the rivers will freeze soon, which isn't going to be good. They also talk about Fabian Voss, the Forever King, and his seven highblood children and how they have to kill them all.
They travel to a town where they are summoned to a home to investigate an ill woman with a dead son. She has bite marks and is clearly being visited by her vampire son. They go into a crypt in search of vampires and Gabriel doesn't listen to Greyhand when he's told to stand guard and instead follows him deeper into the crypt. Greyhand is fighting highbloods who don't seem to want to hurt anyone, but then another vampire shows up. Gabriel ruins the fight and one of the vampires gets away. As punishment, he's sent back to keep watch over the ill woman.
A priest comes by to chat, but is actually thralled by the vampire son and poisons Gabriel and lets the son in through the window. There's another fight wherein the boy's father is killed by the mother for attacking their vampire son. The son attacks Gabriel who burns the boy's arm and boils his blood... somehow. Greyhand returns and kills the boy and congratulates Gabriel for doing... whatever he did. It's the same thing he did to his sister though...
Two weeks' travel later and they're back at San Michon with the boiled boy and another vampire. They strap them to a machine that pumps out their blood to use for sanctus and Greyhand and Talon discuss (in secret with Gabriel eavesdropping) the boiled boy's wounds and how they still have not healed. Greyhand surmises that Gabriel could have been sired by a vampire of a long lost bloodline, one with the power of sanguimancy, but what is that? When Talon suggests they Bridge him, Greyhand says Gabriel could be the most powerful of them all and they need to talk to Khalid, the abbot and leader of the silversaints. Gabriel runs before learning anything else.
That night, Gabriel sneaks out of the barracks, through the privy, and to the library where he meets Astrid properly for the first time. He learns that she's a bastard daughter of the emperor and therefore a queen, but she was sent off to a nunnery. She's looking for information on the start of the daysdeath, but after some flirting, she's now looking for information on the fifth bloodline, too. Gabriel leaves for his punishment of abandoning Greyhand, shoveling shit, with plans to meet Astrid in the library again.
After weeks of training and shoveling and meeting in the library, one day Gabriel is in training and is set to a tournament. He beats everyone until Greyhand stops him from fighting with de Coste, his rival, who was injured the night he blood-boiled the vampire boy. They hate each other, but Greyhand won't let them fight. Back in the library that night, there is another person, Chloe, who Astrid has told about Gabriel and asked for her help in exchange for Gabriel's sword training. They train for a while and then return to the books, but then see a shooting star outside and know that they were destined to be here together this night. On his way back to the barracks, Gabriel spots de Coste also sneaking back in. He hides to avoid the little jerk telling on him.
When he gets to the stables, he greets Justice, his handsome horse, and starts to work, but is soon attacked by the vampire they captured weeks before, somehow released from the silver blood-draining contraption. She releases the wretcheds hanging in the horse stables to get the horses used to the monsters and they all attack and set the stables on fire. Gabriel kills all three vampires and saves the horses as the stableboys come to work. Gabriel thinks that de Coste, the little coward, set the woman loose to try to kill him. He's sent to the infirmary for a little bit and receives a letter from his little sister, Celene, who tells him all the news of home, basically that everyone's moving on without him. He writes to his mother, asking about his vampire father, and asks Astrid to send the letter for him. After this, he moves back to the story of the Grail.
The inquisitors he stole the horse from are after them now and so the crew are hiding in the woods. They talk of his sword and how there are songs sung about it, but when the minstrel, Bellamy, starts to sing, Gabriel threatens him and so he stops. They travel onward for a bit and we learn that everyone can hear Gabriel talking to Ashdrinker and that she is an enchanted sword, but not much more about her yet, other than the fact that she is currently singing disjointed lullabies to Gabriel. They are on the run from the inquisitors still and have taken up refuge against the bitter snow in a church in a deserted town. Gabriel asks about Dior and if Chloe can trust that he knows where the Grail is, but she says she needs his trust, too. And then the wretcheds come.
The wretcheds are still a little ways away, so they make a plan to fight them off. Bellamy begins singing tales of Gabriel, the Black Lion and Ashdrinker and then they talk about where Ashdrinker came from. There are many stories and songs about her, but no one knows if any are true and Gabriel constantly tells everyone to shut the fuck up, so... We still don't know about Ashdrinker. The wretcheds come and it's not a great battle. Gabriel kills many and the others do, too, but then Rafa, glowing silver with his holy faith, and Bellamy, with a torch, are overtaken. When Gabriel goes to help them, Dior gets overtaken as well, but when the vampires bite him, they erupt in silver flame. As Gabriel kneels at the priest's side, Chloe pushes him out of the way and Dior comes over, healing the wounds with his own blood. What. The. Fuck.
They're still very secretive about what just happened, but after the rest of the wretcheds are taken out, they all agree to tell Gabriel what's going on. It turns out, Dior is the Grail. The stories from long ago said that San Michon caught the Redeemer's blood in a chalice, but no, she caught something else, wink wink, in her own chalice, wink wink, and they had children. But of course this is blasphemy and caused wars. The Redeemer would never lie with a lowly mortal! Well, lie he did and now Dior is the last descendant and his blood has the power of the Redeemer.
That night, the beautiful dark haired vampire comes to see Gabriel and he lets her inside. Not long after this, Danton Voss and several thralls come rushing after the group. They flee toward a river and crash into it, but Dior can't swim and Gabriel has to go after him whilst killing thralls and fighting to keep Danton out of his mind. They manage to reach the shore, but Gabriel is pissed because Dior kept his jacket on despite it pulling him under, claiming it is magic. Gabriel is also pissed because he lost his bandolier with most of his weapons and bombs, and also his sanctus. Well, this isn't going to be good.
After finally deciding to move on despite losing nearly everything, the group heads to the holy grounds of San Guillaume even though Chloe wants to go to San Michon and to the library there. Well, that was a bad idea. Everyone there has been murdered and there are corpses all over the place and then the masked high vampire woman shows up, seeking Dior again, and just waltzes right through the gate. Apparently it's no longer hallowed ground on account of all the murder. She and Gabriel have a vicious fight, then Saorise and her mountain lion, Phoebe, join in, then comes Chloe and Rafa the priest. They manage to defeat her enough to make her retreat, which is difficult considering her blade is made from her own blood and can splatter and reform as she wills it, but luckily it is stopped by Ashdrinker. After some mask-breaking and stabs, she bursts into moths again and leaves, warning them that Danton isn't far behind. Oh great.
They make a plan as fast as they can. They get the priest to bless new holy water and they make bombs and fire traps from things they can scrounge. And then they come. The wretcheds swarm over the walls and attack, Danton just behind. The battle is awful and unfortunately, Rafa, Saorise and Phoebe, and Bellamy all die. As Gabriel, Dior and Chloe jump off a ledge and into a river far below, Danton grabs Dior's magical coat. Chloe lets go of Gabriel's hand and falls and Gabriel rips the coat, leaving it in Danton's grip as he and Dior fall to the river below. Chloe is lost and Gabriel drags Dior to the shore, his coat and shirt gone. But wait. He's got huge bandages wrapped around his chest. His wounds weren't that bad... Ooohhhhh. Those aren’t bandages, they’re binders… He's not a he. He is a she.
With that bombshell, it's time to travel back to when Gabriel is fifteen. He, Aaron de Coste, Greyhand and Talon are on another hunt, looking for an ancient vampire they called Luncóit, the Raven Child, also called Laure. She has been going from town to town killing all the children and now she's headed to Coste. The group goes to Aaron's mother's home where her husband, the baron, is having a party. They, minus Aaron who goes back to his nobleman ways, pretend to be staff at the party and wait for her arrival. Aaron is shitty to Gabriel as always, but tells him that his stepfather found him trysting with a peasant and attacked, killing one and almost killing the other. That is the night he found out he was a paleblood, because he survived the baron's beating. After, Gabriel tells him he knows he set that one vampire free and tried to kill him because he saw him leaving the armory, but then, the Raven arrives.
The fight is dreadful, but somehow, thanks to Gabriel, all four silversaints survive. Aaron and Gabriel fight well together and almost have a sort of kinship. Greyhand's sword arm gets ripped off, one eyeball is popped and one ear is torn off. Talon fared a little better and so did Aaron and Gabriel though they'll all have scars. A highborn follower of the Raven was killed and she almost was, too, though she is of the Voss bloodline and has hardened skin, so is difficult to kill. Making her harder to kill is the fact that she is a Forever Prince, just like Danton.
Using her powers to look into the minds of the silversaints, the vampire says something peculiar about Aaron and also something about Talon and a sister, Aoife, that was killed in the attack that almost killed Gabriel. Then she begins on Gabriel, telling him she can feel that he is drawn to her and to her blood and that they should kiss. As he's drawn in, he shoves a silver bomb into a gash in her throat and it explodes. She still doesn't die, but she's not doing so hot. Unfortunately, the silversaints were too late in getting to her and she already sent out ravens telling the Forever King plans and now, he's on his way. Greyhand has a bird of his own though, a falcon, and it kills one of the ravens, so at least they know what's coming for them.
When they get back to San Michon, Gabriel is afraid that he's going to be kicked out because of course he broke lots of rules again, but Aaron stands up for him, and he gets to stay. Aaron is going to be fully sworn into the brotherhood in the next few days and Gabriel is jealous, but proud of his new brother. He goes to the library to see Astrid and to see if he's gotten a letter back from his mother with information about his vampire father and the fifth bloodline. The letter is disappointing, but does request that Gabriel come home to visit so she can tell him in person. Astrid and Chloe have been doing more research and found out that there truly is a fifth bloodline, but they don't know much about it yet, only that the vampire was referred to as Faithless and that the page was written in disappearing ink that only shows up if you bleed on it. Yikes. That can't be good.
On his way out of the library, Gabriel sees Aaron sneaking into the armory again, so he follows and finds Aaron and Baptiste the blacksmith making out. Ahh, the peculiar thing that Laure the Raven said was that Aaron is a boy lover. And it's true. Aaron attacks when he realizes Gabriel is outside, but Baptiste stops him and they all talk. Gabriel says he'll never tell anyone and that they should run away to be together. Their friendship and brotherhood is true now. After, they go and get new silver tattoos and prepare for Aaron to be inducted. Oh also? The Empress is coming to dinner and they're going to make a plan to go after the Forever King. And honestly? It's not a very good plan, but the silversaints drink and celebrate the night before charging away to battle.
Gabriel sneaks out that night to see Astrid, full of drink and the fear that he won't live to see another day after the violent vampire battle that is to come. Astrid offers to help Gabriel figure out his fifth bloodline blood-boiling power and then they start making out and it gets heated and bloody. Before too much more than stroking and kissing below the habit can happen, alarm bells ring out. They leave the library and find everyone shouting lots of homophobic slurs. Talon caught Aaron and Baptiste and has plans to flay Aaron at the bridge and kick them both out of the brotherhood, even though Aaron was to be sworn in the next day. Greyhand stops the flaying and locks them up instead.
Gabriel pleads with Greyhand to let Aaron join them in battle, but oh no, Gabriel isn't going. He's going to be left behind to guard San Michon because Greyhand is pissed at him and will never take him on a hunt again because, you know, all the terrible stuff that happened to him because Gabriel didn't listen. They all go off to battle and, pissed, Gabriel is left in the war room and begins punching the walls. His blood flows away and to the letter that they recovered from Laure to the Forever King and a secret message is revealed. Laure knew they'd catch her and take one of her messages. It was all a trap. The army is going to march off to a battle that doesn't exist and the Forever King is going to slaughter everyone else.
Gabriel runs to the library to tell Astrid and Chloe because they're the only ones who will believe the secret blood message. They decide to tell the Prioress who believes them immediately and sets Aaron and Baptiste free. They and a few other smiths and nuns and anyone else they can scrounge up from who was left at San Michon set out to meet the Forever King. It's a terrible, terrible plan! There's like twelve of them. Oh and it gets even worse because Laure is also there, greeting her vampire father. Luckily they are able to stop the horde of wretcheds that the Forever King brings with him and delay his takeover attempts with a massive avalanche and most everyone survives, except the Prioress and maybe a couple others. But not so luckily, there's a terrible fight between Prince of Forever Laure Voss and Gabriel in which Gabriel finds out that Laure went to his hometown and killed everyone, including his little sister Celene. This of course fills him with the rage he needs to boil her blood and turn her to ash. This also of course pisses off the Forever King who now has it in for Gabriel.
When the survivors get back to San Michon, they are followed shortly thereafter by Greyhand and Talon and everyone else. Empress Isabella gives Gabriel the title Chevalier and now, as a knight of the Empress, tells him he'll be put in service soon. He asks the Empress to grant Astrid the ability to leave the sisterhood, which she agrees to, but reluctantly, because she is Astrid's stepmother who was terrible to Astrid and her mother and the reason she got sent to San Michon in the first place. After this, Gabriel is inducted into the brotherhood and is now a true Silversaint. Aaron and Baptiste are banished, but because they also helped fend off the horde, they're not killed. As Aaron leaves, he tells Gabriel to watch out for Talon, that he felt him using his mind reading abilities on him, which is against the rules of the silversaints, and is how he and Baptiste were discovered.
Using this information, Gabriel lures Talon to the library, in the restricted area where he and Astrid usually meet in secret, but surprise surprise, it's only Gabriel there and Talon doesn't catch him doing anything wrong. If Talon tells anyone he knows of their trysts, then people will know that he's using his powers on his brothers. And also, Gabriel will reveal the fact that Talon has lost control over his bloodlust and has been killing sisters by drinking them. And he also got Aoife, the young sister who was killed the night of the vampire attack, pregnant and then he killed her. This pushes Talon into a frenzy and he tries to drain Gabriel, but luckily Gabriel told Greyhand his plan and he comes to the rescue and kills Talon.
Gabriel is sent to the infirmary after this where he is met by Astrid, who isn't too happy about his asking for her permission to leave San Michon. She doesn't want to leave because she'll lose him and so the two declare their love for each other and have bitey, bloody sex in the infirmary. They keep up their meetings in secret for years and years and Chevalier Gabriel slays a lot of highbloods and stops a lot of wars and earns the love and praise of people all over.
Gabriel doesn't want to tell this part of his story any longer, but Jean-François insists he tell him what led to his banishment. Patience, he says, but the highblood won't have it. Patience he says again, and then the vampire remembers that Patience is Gabriel and Astrid's daughter's name. Only after Astrid gets pregnant does anyone realize they've been together all this time and since, as part of the brotherhood and sisterhood that they are part of requires celibacy, obviously they are both banished. No punishment though, just banishment. And now Gabriel can tell the Grail story again.
Last we left this story, Gabriel and Dior plunged into the river after Danton killed all their friends and we learned that Dior is a girl, not a boy. Gabriel asks why Dior would pretend to be a boy and she tells him it's because she doesn't have to hide and that her magic coat helped. It wasn't really magic, but when wearing it, no sleazy guys hit on her and no one told her to keep quiet. They talk about Patience a little and Dior explains that Gabriel will learn about what happens to girls as they grow into young women soon enough since Patience is now twelve. They leave the freezing river, trudge through the snowy woods and make it to a cave, Dior almost dead from the cold. Gabriel leaves Ashdrinker with Dior as he goes out for firewood and tells the sword to tell Dior stories, and she does.
That night, Gabriel awakens to a voice calling to him. He goes outside the cave and looks across the river to see the Astrid Vampire. They share their I-love-yous and she tells him that if she can find him, so can Danton, but he'll be ready for him the next time they face each other. In the morning, he and Dior set off for a town. If he doesn't get sanctus soon, he's probably going to eat Dior. They trudge through the snow and come to another river with a barge and get passage to their town. Gabriel is doing poorly with his thirst and starts getting pains from it, so Dior pickpockets some liquor from the captain to help. She offers her own blood, but oh no, that's a terrible idea. She also finds a man in the back of the boat dying from a broken leg. Gabriel tells her not to help because everyone on board will think she's a witch, but she secretly helps anyway.
They arrive in the town and go to the seedier part of it, looking for a shop that Gabriel knows of, a place run by a blind old woman and a skeleton in a wig. The old woman has sanctus and all the supplies needed to make more, but instead of money, she wants blood for payment, and not Gabriel's. She can tell there is something special about Dior, but Gabriel's not willing to give any of her blood away, even though Dior is. They leave the shop, go to a flophouse, and Gabriel curls into a ball of misery. Dior leaves but comes back later with all the supplies from the shop. No, she didn't pay with blood... She burgled them. As Gabriel starts cooking up his sanctus, the Inquisition bursts through the door. The family of the man Dior healed on the boat turned them in.
Gabriel and Dior are beaten and taken to cells under the nunnery for torture. And it's bad. They waft sanctus under Gabriel's nose and beat him with an iron-tipped whip, and who knows what terror is happening to Dior. Before the beating can continue, there's a knock at the door from a quiet nun with urgent news from another Inquisitor. Except it's not a nun, it's Dior who has murdered her captor and now both of Gabriel's with Ashdrinker. She shoves the sanctus pipe in Gabriel's mouth and they escape the church. They put on stolen nun habits and sneak away, past all the soldiers who are running to help capture them. Gabriel grabs some supplies from a shop, then they steal a boat and take off down the river.
When they finally stop, they have a heartfelt conversation about how they each were going to leave the other but then decided not to because they are friends now and sometimes your friends are your family. Dior apologizes for using her magic to heal the guy on the boat and for never listening to Gabriel when he's just trying to keep her safe. She tells a story about how she and a friend/lover she had when she was younger robbed a minister that sexually assaulted the friend. The friend killed the minister and then he stabbed her back right before dying. Dior healed her friend, but she called her a witch and had her taken by the Inquisition. That's when Chloe and the rest found her and saved her and they've been on the run ever since. That story finished, Gabriel gives Dior a new dandy outfit he gathered and then, surprise of all surprises, Jezebel, Gabriel's horse that ran away after Danton attacked last time comes trotting out of the woods!
They travel northward and cross a frozen river. Well, Dior and Jezebel cross. Gabriel, upon realizing three wretched are after them, tries to run and instead crashes through the ice. The wretched disintegrate, thankfully, but Gabriel nearly drowns until Dior stabs him through the ice with Ashdrinker. He punches through the ice, gut bleeding, cursing Dior for stabbing him, and then they rename Jezebel Fortuna and continue on toward San Michon.
Sometime later, still on their way through the frozen forest, Dior asks about Patience and Gabriel gives a few details as she falls asleep. Astrid calls to Gabriel then and they make out a little. Astrid begs Gabriel for blood and when he turns her away, needing to keep his strength, she gets upset that Gabriel is working so hard for Dior who isn't even his family. She tells him to remember why he left her and their daughter, but then Dior comes up and they continue on. They are soon chased by terrifying creatures that they can't even comprehend until they fall over a gorge. Gabriel shields Dior's body as they fall and his leg breaks in two, but Fortuna doesn't survive the tumble. Dior is unconscious but still breathing, so Gabriel sets his leg, cuts open Fortuna's belly, and shoves Dior inside for warmth.
After the sanctus has time to heal Gabriel’s leg, they set off again and finally make it to their next destination, Château Aveléne, where Aaron and Baptiste have made their home. They are welcomed with love and hugs and tears of joy and it’s wonderful, but of course that can’t last long. They dance and feast but it gets to be too much for Gabriel. This is where he and Astrid fled after they were kicked out of San Michon. This is where they were married. This is where Patience was born. He leaves the feast and goes to the cathedral to reflect but Aaron follows. They have a conversation about believing in the Redeemer and how he can allow so many terrible things to happen and still be worshiped. Aaron says it doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you believe in something. And then the alarm bells ring.
Danton has arrived. And he's not alone. He announces to everyone at the castle that he will allow them one night to hand over Dior, but he and his brood of wretcheds and highbloods will attack if they don't give her up. Of course everyone is angry at Gabriel and Dior for bringing this tragedy to them, but all Gabriel wants is for Dior to be safe. She, of course, wants to leave to keep everyone else safe. She gets angry at Gabriel for being so stubborn and then she reveals she knows about Astrid and Patience (Astrid, by the way, is currently floating outside the window, talking inside Gabriel's head). She knows why he left them at home to come after the Forever King. Dior finally breaks him down and gets him to tell the story, but to speak it will make it real.
Gabriel and his little family moved to a lighthouse surrounded by water to keep safe from vampires. Gabriel had stopped fighting, stopped taking sanctus, and had finally begun to live his life. One night, Patience stayed outside after dark picking flowers for the dinner table... and Fabien Voss, the Forever King, brought her inside. He was angry with Gabriel, not just for killing his daughter Laure but for retreating and living a life away from battle. He was sad at the thought of losing an enemy that was actually worth fighting. So he came to settle a vendetta and killed Patience. Gabriel and Astrid both attacked, but it was no use. Ashdrinker shattered against the vampire's neck, then, unphased, he threw Gabriel through the floor and down to the cellar. When he woke up, Astrid's body was next to him, but she wasn't just dead, she had become a vampire. Gabriel burned the house down, leaving his family forever at home. (Oh, Astrid isn’t at the window. She's only inside Gabriel's head. And it's tragic.)
After this story, Gabriel convinces Dior to rest for the night and to stay with him and to stay safe. He gets Aaron and Baptiste to put guards at her door and they promise to fight rather than give Dior up. Of course she immediately sneaks out through the window. She steals some dogs and a sled and sets off down the frozen river toward San Michon... and all the vampires follow. Gabriel realizes not too long after and rushes to catch up. Luckily the sun hasn't yet set, making the vampires slightly slower, so Gabriel is able to track them all down.
As the sun sets, the vampires speed up and grab at Dior, then she sets off huge bombs and cuts herself free of the sled. The bombs kill a lot of the vampires and explode the ice covering the river, causing many more to fall in and die. It's a great plan, but now, Dior is being dragged by dogs and the remaining highbloods are catching up. Then she crashes into a snowdrift and a highblood grabs her. Bloody from the crash, Dior places her hands on the vampire's face and he burns.
Soon Danton and several others are upon them. Gabriel grabs Dior's hand, realizing that he will do anything to protect her because he believes in her, and then his tattoos flare bright. Not silver like they used to be when he was a Silversaint fighting for and believing in the Redeemer, but a bright, blinding red. They stand together, ten against two. But then, it's three. The mysterious masked moth-bursting vampire shows up again and offers to help.
The three battle and then Danton gets pissed. He sends all his minions to fight Liathe, the red moth vampire, while he charges Gabriel. They fight and they are pretty well matched, but then Ashdrinker gets stuck in Danton's shoulder and then he flings her away and pins Gabriel to the ground. Just as he is about to place the death blow, Gabriel trying to reach for Danton's neck to boil his blood, Dior comes up and shoves Ashdrinker, covered with her own holy blood, through his chest. Danton staggers up and his wounds begin to smolder. Then Dior slices his throat. Danton Voss, the Forever Prince, is dead.
Gabriel and Dior turn to see Liathe fighting the other highbloods, one against ten. And then they hear a Silversaint battle cry! Greyhand, grizzled and old now, comes rushing up with some of Gabriel's old cohorts and Chloe! The highbloods, realizing Danton is dead and that their battle might not be so easy to win now, flee. Liathe asks Dior to come, that they will keep her safe, but no way! The silversaints are here! And Chloe! And now, with Dior, they can end daysdeath! They can go safely back to San Michon! And so they do.
After being excited to get to San Michon, they prepare for the Rite that will bring back the day. They have a mass, but Gabriel refuses to go and then he and Greyhand get into a fight. It starts with how Greyhand kicked him and Astrid and Aaron and Baptiste out and how Gabriel could have been the best of them all, but he got Astrid pregnant instead. Gabriel yells about how he's done so much for the Empire, but Greyhand gives him no credit, then Greyhand yells back at him about wanting credit for his sacrifices when this young girl is about to give her blood to bring back the day. And then Gabriel realizes… they're going to sacrifice Dior! When Gabriel asks if Chloe is aware of their plans, Greyhand reveals that it was Chloe's idea! She found this Rite in an ancient book in the library.
Gabriel fights Greyhand and all his old brothers who come to Greyhand's aide, trying to get to Dior, but they best him. They tie Gabriel to the wheel at the bridge for the Red Rite, although he's not willingly ending his own life, they're murdering him. They go through the same steps that Gabriel witnessed when he first came to San Michon all those years ago… Symbolic lashings and burnings, and then they slash his throat and he tumbles toward the river below…
...And is caught by moths. Liathe, the masked vampire with the powers of Sanguimancy, rescues Gabriel and heals his wounds with her blood. When he realizes he's not dead, he's pissed because he swore he would never drink blood again after Astrid. Then Liathe removes her mask and reveals herself to be Gabriel's little sister Celene who he thought he found dead in the chapel after Laure Voss killed everyone in his hometown. He's shocked because she's not an ancient vampire, she's still so young, but so powerful! And, though Laure turned her, she has the same bloodline powers he does, not the powers of the Voss line. She tells him there is much he does not understand. There is also something she does not understand. Chloe is about to sacrifice Dior!
Gabriel leaves his sister then to go into the cathedral, on holy ground, to get the Grail, something Celene cannot do. He stops by the armory on the way and loads up with all sorts of bombs and swords and then kicks down the church doors. He yells for them to let Dior go, but Chloe tries to finish the Rite instead. Gabriel kills them all, including Greyhand by blood-boiling and Chloe by a sword through her chest. Gabriel sets the ancient tome Chloe found the Rite in on fire and then he and Dior leave the cathedral to meet his sister.
The interview with Jean-François ends here, for this night, but there are still so many more stories to tell, namely the death of the Forever King, the loss of the Grail, Gabriel's travels with Liathe and the story of their blood, but those will have to wait until next time. Gabriel, of course, tries to kill Jean-François because that's what he does, kills vampires, but he doesn't succeed. That will also have to wait until next time. Gabriel looks down at the tattoos on his fingers... Patience.