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There was a fire in the sky, with flames of pink and red, glittered with gold as its light fell upon the darkening land. From her perch, Yue watched as the sun succumbed to the grey of twilight. She rested her head tiredly against the rough face of the castle wall, closing her eyes to listen to the sounds of summer all around her. Fireflies danced like pixies in the grass below. Nightingales chirped from their nests, and crickets answered back in higher pitches. A wraith-like wind combed through her hair, but as beautiful as this time was, she knew only death could follow.
Yue could hear the hushed murmurs of the castle’s keepers even through the double-barricaded doors.
“He will come for her soon.”
“He will leave us be, won’t he?—After he has taken her?”
“Aye but only fer a time. ‘is ‘unger is always growin’. The pact was made fer ten years, but ‘e comes two years too soon.”
Yue glanced down. The marking on her hand shimmered seductively in the pale moonlight—a beacon for the beast. She had not been eight years old when it was decided that she was the next to die, but even knowing for most her life, she was not fully prepared to be ended so soon. Yue did not accept her fate as quietly as the former sacrifices had. She had the bruises and scratches to prove it, but it was not fear that made her fight their hands when they shoved her onto the balcony and locked her out, or at least that is what she told herself.
She did not struggle because of fear; she struggled because her people were weak. For years they had been tormented by him, and for years they were too afraid to fight back. He was only a man—was he not?
The wind shifted, and Yue wrinkled her nose, almost gagging on the stench of putrid flesh choking out the soft perfume of the wild lilies. She glared over to her left, and stared into the face of the beast—the face of death.
“Hello, Yue. It is an honor to finally meet you,” he cooed as he crouched on the ledge, his glowing eyes making the mark on her hand burn. Yue clenched her fingers around the mark, and stared the beast fully in the face without fear.
The creature was not hideous. He did not have a vile, black frown, or even ridiculously long nails sharpened into claws. The beast was a handsome man with long silver hair that cascaded down his shoulders like a waterfall. His face, though plagued with dark shadows, was truly a flawless work of art. Although a brilliant red, his eyes were not threatening. They were filled with an ancient sorrow so deep that Yue found herself bewitched. He was tall and lithe, clothed in the richest of silks, and the finest of jewels despite the fact that she had expected him to own nothing so extravagant.
“You do not fright as easily as the others,” he commented with a bemused smirk when she raised her sword. He took a lazy step towards her to test her iron courage, and a wicked grin spread across his face when she did not falter. Instead she raised her sword to the level of his chest with a determined look. “Do you intend to slay me then, young one?”
“If I must,” she whispered.
“If you must,” he laughed, his white fangs glimmering with saliva. The beast turned his attention to the moon, and he rested his hand on his chin thoughtfully. “Why must you slay me, my love?”
Yue blanched, and the creature caught this slight movement from the corner of his eye. He inclined his head towards her quizzically.
“To what privilege can you call me anything but your feast, monster?!” She cried, her face blazing a bright scarlet. She was not angry. Yue was embarrassed. No man had called her anything, but hideous. She was not a beautiful maiden. Her hair was thick and coarse, the color of ashy snow, and her irises were a scary white, driving everyone away. She was wide-hipped and small-breasted, and her heart-shaped face could only be described as homely. For a person as handsome as he—even if he was a monster—to actually consider her his ‘love’, well…that was impossible was it not?
“Blood as sweet as yours does torment me, and I do admit I rather struggle with restraint at being so near you, but as weary as I am, I do not wish to waste a delicacy such as you in a five minute bloodlust.” He replied, batting his dark lashes at her. The creature disappeared in a blur, and Yue jolted back in surprise as his face appeared an inch from her own.
She tried to raise the sword to defend herself, but he grabbed her arms, and pinned them behind her back, ignoring her feeble struggles. With his free hand, the beast caressed her flushed cheek, and laughed quietly when she thrashed harder.
“Do not fret. I will not devour you as I have the others, my dear Yue. I have watched you for longer than you know, and I have come to love you. A kiss,” he said, licking his lips, “will be the only thing I steal from you tonight.”
Yue gasped quietly as his lips forced themselves on hers, but after a moment, she did not mind this. His lips were objects of bliss, tantalizing her tongue with a sweet taste she had not experienced before. They moved hers with a silent grace unknown to any mortal man. When he pulled back from her, the pain of separation was so intense she would have rather had a knife plunged through her heart.
The beast held her up as her body crumpled in his arms, and he kissed the top of her head affectionately. “My name is Alexander,” he whispered, his lips brushing seductively against her ear, “I will be back to claim you as my wife very soon. Do not forget me, my love.”
“You are going to frighten my people to death,” Yue hissed, glaring at Alexander’s reflection in the mirror when she saw him lounging leisurely on her four post bed.
She hid her silent pleasure with an unwelcoming frown and brushed through her hair in preparation for bed. Alexander had been coming to the castle every night for the past three months with a mission to “court” her. She would’ve preferred these callings at mid-day when her thoughts were more coherent, but Alexander told her that his body did not agree with the sun.
“The fools need a good scare,” he replied curtly. “The way they offer young innocent girls up to a monster. They truly sicken me.”
“They only offer up sacrifices to save our village.”
“They offer up sacrifices to save themselves,” he growled, his eyes growing black with anger.
Yue suppressed a smile. His anger amused her about as much as her own amused him. Setting her comb down, she turned and went to his side, touching his cold cheek. “Three months prior I would have believed a monster such as you could not feel such strong emotions.”
“And now? He asked with a hopeful look in his eyes as he leaned into her palm.
“Now I believe you must be the most lovable man on this earth,” she replied, and kissed him on his surprised mouth.
Alexander pulled her down on his lap, and his lips moved greedily from her lips, across her jaw, and down to her throat. “Then you will refuse me no longer?”
“No,” she whispered, and that was the only invitation he needed.
Alexander sunk his fangs into the soft tissue of his throat, and Yue moaned as pleasure rippled through her. She could hear the loud swallowing noise in Alexander’s throat as he gulped her blood down, and Yue started to feel light-headed. Black and white snow filled her vision. Her heart faltered. Her breath slowed.
“Will you devour me so completely then?” She rasped, leaning into him weakly to keep from falling to the floor. Not that she would mind if he did. Death so sweet, by lips as glorious as his would suit her just fine.
Alexander’s gulps slowed, and his fangs withdrew from her neck with a painful slowness. “Forgive me. I got carried away.” He swung her up in his arms and cradled her close to him. Staring down at her, his eyes were a violent red. Alexander kissed Yue with crimson lips, and she slumped even deeper in his arms, giving in to her drooping eyelids.
When she awoke, she was a new creature with a new, glorious body. Her skin was the color of porcelain, her hair pure white as snow, and her white irises colored to a brilliant rose.
“How are you feeling?” Alexander asked, and his face appeared above hers.
Yue did not answer him at first. Her eyes zeroed in on the vein pulsing in his neck, and her instincts took over. She pulled his neck down to her lips, and she sunk her fangs eagerly into his throat. Warm, red honey flowed into her mouth, and it seemed without end. When she was through Alexander pulled back and smiled down at her, his eyes a glassy red from blood loss.
“Come see your new home.”
Yue stood to her feet from the long velvet couch she had been lying on, and followed Alexander, her eyes rooming about the vast beauty of his estate. The castle was barely lit, with candles as the only source of illumination, but this did not bother her. Yue’s new eyes welcomed the darkness.
“Down this hall is our bedroom,” Alexander said stumbling towards that direction, but Yue came to a complete halt. She cocked her head to the side, and listened with her super-sensitive ears to the mouthwatering noise of a collection of human hearts coming from behind the closed door off to her left.
Alexander sighed softly and opened the door to reveal a crimson throne room where the people who had tried to sacrifice me stood. “I decided to end the debt your village owes to me by taking the lives of the ones who have sacrificed the innocents.”
“By God!” A man exclaimed, and their eyes fell on Yue.
She wrinkled her nose distastefully when their emotions and past injustices bombarded her mind. Alexander put a supportive hand on her shoulder, and when she glanced up at his face, she saw the raw pain in his expression, showing that he felt this as well. No wonder he had been so angry! Her people were not as she had envisioned them. They were cruel. They were heartless.
“Sweet angel! Deliver us from ‘im!!!!!” A man pleaded her, taking her cold hand in his.
“Dear Sir, you are clearly mistaken,” she replied, and grinned wickedly with glistening fangs as her gaze locked in on the vein pulsing in his neck. Alexander’s blood was delicious, but this man’s blood—despite his horrible deeds and vile thoughts—was far too tempting for her to ignore any longer. “I am no angel."