Foul Temptations | Teen Ink

Foul Temptations

December 11, 2011
By Ellana SILVER, St. Rose, Louisiana
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Ellana SILVER, St. Rose, Louisiana
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Favorite Quote:
"'Twas not the serpent that tempted Eve, but rather knowledge itself."


Author's note: I was inspired... by motivation. Motivation to graduate, motivation to be successful. So enjoy and be entertained by what my mind came up with.

Darkness… It enveloped the secluded little village entirely, tucking it safely away in a cocoon of night. The stars above shuddered, winking at the sleeping city below. Clouds drifted lazily overhead, their fluffy white bodies languidly wandering. At the forest’s edge, a lone shape lingered. Trees would obscure anyone’s view; their dark, elegant forms were enough to conceal danger. A sharp, chill wind blew upon the sleepy town, rattling shutters of homes. Those choosing to remain outside at such a later hour shivered. Autumn was here and the tree’s leaves changed from a deep, vibrant green to the more earthy tones of orange, brown. It told a tale, those colors, one that ushered in winter with wide, open arms of welcome. For winter was coming to settle as one might tell from the smoke billowing from chimneys of charming little homes.

What usually would have been an inviting place was suddenly transformed. The dark being at the edge of the woods slid forward and unveiled himself. No longer was he hidden by shadow, but revealed now by full moonlight. A few of the populace, those bold enough to be out so late, glanced up to meet the stranger’s gaze. Those eyes… They were the color of hellfire, red and burning with an inhuman light. The word whispered through the night: Inhuman, inhuman, inhuman… It echoed like a shotgun blast, left the sleepy town and its people bewildered. Two mortals remained frozen in place near a small carriage loaded with vegetables and fruit, standing there in abject horror. They had been out late, gathering their crops before winter’s chill could tarnish their wares.

A small shriek emanated from the mouth of the woman and, almost instinctively, her husband moved closer as if the urge to protect her was becoming too strong. Something about this strange man caused the farmer to frown, a deep furrow between those dark brows. There was something here that his primitive mind could not comprehend. All the while, the strange being kept pushing onward without a care. When the intimidating form reached the couple, the stranger looked upon them. Those eyes shone beneath the moon, those hellish eyes. The farmer’s wife quivered, pressing against her husband with large, brown eyes like that of a frightened doe. In a gruff, weathered voice, the farmer spoke, “Get ‘n out o’ere. Scat.” On the last word, he spat at the figure. Indeed, the farmer was very daring.

The creature’s lip lifted in a sneer, eyes burning with unsated hunger and rage. He reached a hand to wipe the spittle away from his face as a soft growl spilled from his throat. Rushing forward with speed unknown to man, tapered digits reached out to grasp the farmer’s neck. Fingertips dug into flesh, cutting away the man’s air supply. With harsh, rasping breaths, the farmer gazed into the creature’s eyes. His face contorted entirely, fear grasping his features and twisting them to that of a terrified creature. Blood hammered through his entire body as his heart thudded at a million beats per second. The being leaned forward, canines gleaming in a flash of moonlight. Snarling like a beast gone feral, the creature lunged forward as teeth sunk viciously into the farmer’s neck, blood arcing into the air like crimson paint being splashed. It landed on the dew-damp ground, turned black by the dirt there. In one swift motion, the creature allowed the farmer’s heavy body to thud against the ground.

It flopped there uselessly, limbs positioned askew. At this sight the woman shuddered, a scream stolen from her mouth. Her eyes could not wander from her husband’s frame, settled there in rings of blood. Beneath the light of the moon, the sight seemed to be less harsh, more bearable. The only thing to desecrate the sleeping image of death was the crimson pool in which the moonlight danced, gleeful as it flickered about to death’s tune. The being turned on the hapless farmwoman next, the moonlit pale of his skin gleamed with her husband’s blood and tainted his jaw. She could do nothing but huddle inward, dropping all belongings. They were discarded as tears ran in streams down her cheeks, but he would not pity her. No, the creature before her was a being born of hell and its deepest recesses. And so she sunk down, squeezing those large, doe eyes shut tightly.

Uttered from her lips was a gentle prayer, one spoken softly. So softly, indeed, that one might not be able to tell exactly what was said were they human. However, the being slowly creeping toward her with impressive height was nowhere near human. In fact, her pitiful prayers only coaxed laughter from his mouth, spilling it in chilling waves that devastated the woman’s spine. The prayers continued until he reached her and even then they refused to stop. She whispered, “Amen…” before he reached out with clawed fingernails to touch nails to the delicate skin of her cheek. It was a gentle gesture, one meant to comfort, but the being twisted it into a gruesome act. Jerking her forward and to her feet, his large form pinned her smaller one against the carriage. In the night air, chill breath showed on the wind like sweetened fog.

Bending a lean form onward, his lips grazed her ear and his voice whispered, “God will not save you,” before forever silencing her life. His hands gripped either side of her head and twisted, effectively severing her spinal cord. In a matter o seconds, her lie was snuffed out like a candle’s flame. After all, he did not need to feed any longer. The farmer’s spiced blood was still hot upon his tongue, still burning his throat with its essence. It tasted of pain, anguish, and best of all – fear. The creature moved away from the woman’s broken body, her eyes shut as if in peace though her mouth remained open in a grisly scream of terror. It mattered not for he so enjoyed the gift of fear that a mortal could so easily bestow. He could taste it on their skin, as potent as an aphrodisiac.


Turning his back now on the night’s work, the tall frame moved onward, stepping lightly against the ground. The leather of his boots carried with it traces of the farmer’s blood, marking black footprints against the dirt. The night was young even though he could feel dawn creeping slowly, lying in wait like a predator ready to spring. It was a prickle of awareness against his skin and nothing more. The morning hours he breathed in, taking in the fresh smells of the chimney soot and those just rising. So engrossed was the being in his thoughts, he did not care to notice that there were mounting strangers and they were moving closer and closer. Their steps were silent against the ground, making not a single sound. No, it did not seem like these creatures were walking – they were floating, floating on air and that is what they walked on. Those movements held such grace, their hair wind-whipped about moonlit faces. Each appeared stoic, yet regal.

With a small chuckle, a lone creature appeared just behind the earlier predator. Indeed, it had seemed that predator had so easily become prey. The being’s eyes widened and then narrowed to slits before he turned silently, his tall frame still. Each muscle tensed, and the wildfire in both eyes alerted to his ability to spring. The creature in front of the pack allowed a smile, the canines sharp and evident. “Alastair,” said the being in a curt tone, one that would be used when greeting a simple acquaintance. His lip curled as he said this name and the blue of both eyes reflected moonlight with feline-like qualities.

“This business is not yours, Viciente,” hissed Alastair, words heated. It was clear that a temper most foul would rise. “Disappear, brother, and you shall not be harmed.” These words were more calm, a simple statement. A statement that hung in the air and in the ears of those who moved ever closer, their wandering steps taking them toward their leader, Viciente.

In a gentle and chastising manner, Viciente scoffed. “Not my business?” he inquired. “Why, I shall think something is my business when one of my own blood is murdering the innocent, has turned tyrant, and turns his back now even on his brother.” The dark-haired vampire stood, appearing to have all of the patience in the world. He waited simply for an answer as the last of the crowd paused, beautiful porcelain beneath the moon. His head cocked to one side, head shifting with glittering navy eyes. It was a disturbing image, one that would remind anyone who looked of a feline. “You do not deny it,” accused that soft, reasonable voice.

The eyes of the crowd, the vampires of Viciente’s line, followed their creator’s gaze to the man directly across him. The man with blonde curls so opposite his brother, the man with devilish crimson eyes. The rogue, the criminal. He would go against any rule put down and defy his creator. Those eyes that stared down the wicked Alastair were filled with contempt and hatred. The golden-haired vampire said, a smile curving pale lips, “And how can it be denied?”

Viciente’s eyes hardened, the irises blue diamond as he announced, words for the entire procession, “You are accused, Alastair Dragomir, of crime. Betrayal, pointless murder. We have come to pass judgment.”

Again that wicked laughter filled the night with bursts of terror that shook mortals who were curled in the warmth of their beds. The clouds overhead seemed to darken and obscured the coming dawn, the golden locks of hair were thrown back over broad shoulders. “Fools…” whispered Alastair. A flicker of lightning arced through darkening skies, storm-clouds raging above. All were impregnated with thick drops of stinging rain. Thunder clashed with lightning in the sky, shaking the earth.

The dark-haired vampire remained stoic, but he brought up an arm, digits flexing. A mass of bodies pulled forward, toward the crazed shape of the rogue vampire. Moonlit forms converged upon him, the league of vampires clinging with tooth and nail to the other’s skin, trying to lay grievous flesh wounds. Laughter once again poured into the sky. The laughter of a doomed madman rose higher and higher until the bodies of vampires each burst into flame, spines bending as each howled agony, and became grey ash on the ground below. Sheets of rain beat down murderously and the eyes of the predator raged hellfire as he pushed forward, toward the rest of the crowd.

“Come, Viciente,” said Alastair, weaving past silent figures toward his brother. “Should this not be your honor?” The eyes of Alastair narrowed and a smile blossomed, cruel upon his lips. “After all, was it not I who killed your beloved Celeste?”

The contrasting brother stiffened entirely, entire body rigid. Celeste… She had been the love of his life – of his existence – before Alastair murdered her in cold blood, first torturing and then allowing the sunlight to gleam off of her brilliant skin. There, before Viciente could find her, she had turned into nothing but ashes. Such ashes he now wore in a small vial that looped around his neck, a sore reminder that none could be saved from his brother’s dark, bleeding wrath. With a string of recent victims, Alastair had plagued both the mortal and immortal world alike. It was time to end this, end the torrent of wrongdoings that would only continue if sibling lived.

With a sigh, the dark-haired brother shifted forward and dismissed the crowd at his back. They moved, backward, but did not completely abandon him. They could not abandon him. In short, they were of his blood and the bond of such things was always stronger than that of fear.

All stilled and all quieted. The only sound was the soft rustling of Viciente’s cloak as it was whipped by the wind, tugged away from the body of its owner as if reluctantly. From his belt, a long blade hung, sheathed in sloping silver. Runes danced across its surface, inscribed and embellished. Perhaps, the symbols of protection were strewn across the sheath entirely. In one smooth motion, he drew the blade into his hand, grasping its pommel tightly. So tightly did he grasp this sword, small rivulets of crimson fell across the blade. Blood splattered the silver, leaving a metallic taste to the night. Highlight by the blood dripping, there on the pommel, was the name Dragomir inscribed. Tracing across the blade’s sharpened tip, there would lay the Dragomir’s crest – the Ouroboros.

Alastair moved forward, his steps light and teasing. He did not seem at all to be worried of the sword his brother held in hand and his expression remained calm, but insanity burned in the depths of both eyes and was showcased clearly. His eyes bright, he approached his brother until he stood but two feet away. A grin turned his mouth as he gestured toward the sword absently. “Do you believe such a thing can harm me, brother? It is just -”

With one, quick movement – too fast for the eye to see – Viciente’s blade plunged forward, hitting precisely above his brother’s heart. The sound of piercing flesh protruded the night air, bone cracking underway as the thick silver burrowed itself deep inside of Alastair’s chest. He could scarce get a word out, wheezing softly. The sword had stopped him short, utterly. “You were saying?” muttered Viciente.

With a soft snarl, Alastair grasped the sword’s hilt, and began the process of yanking it from his chest cavity. Blood splattered to the ground in heavy drops, but the rain from above washed it away, turning the puddles crimson with its color. Grunting, Alastair managed to get the hunk of silver from his body. He tossed the sword to the ground, falling to one knee. Blood poured from the wound even as it tried to mend itself, even as it tried to heal. Small droplets of blood fell down Alastair’s chin, staining the skin red. “Is that it?” muttered the vampire, steeling himself before rising again on two feet.

Viciente shook his head, damp midnight locks flying about the moonlit face. He looked toward the discarded sword and stepped lightly forward, grasping his brother’s shoulder. Leaning in, the vampire murmured, “Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh...” The blood from the sword’s hilt, Viciente’s blood, became illuminated, sparkling and gleaming with hints of powerful magic. Blood magic. The words next uttered fell from his lips in a strange, guttural language almost lost in time. The skin of Alastair’s chest healed, piecing itself together like glue. However, over the wound formed that symbol – the Ouroboros. Alastair could not help but watch, nearly amazed by such things. Viciente looked at his brother, pulling away to gaze into crimson depths, “Sleep well… brother…”

Eyes widening, the dawning of what had truly occurred shone through Alastair’s gaze. Bewilderment was soon followed by rage and anger as the spell paralyzed his form, leaving him staring into the stormy skies above. Viciente turned toward his second-in-command, a vampire by the name of Damien. He nodded, indicating that the body should be carried away. “He shall not see the light of day. In time, his form will shrivel, and he will be a living mummy. Remove him from my sight.” There was nothing of happiness lacing his words, only despair. He seemed to be sickened by the sight, by what he had just down. Viciente released a sigh and stepped toward his family, attempting to convince himself that what he had just done was the best for not only those with him now, but for future generations. Still a pang of guilt swallowed him whole. He could not bring himself to kill Alastair.

Dawn was fast approaching, carried swiftly into the western sky. With Alastair gone, the storm clouds cleared and the dim beginnings of light shone upon the sleeping land. All was what it was before and the mortal world, save those murdered and plagued by Alastair’s wrath, was tucked safely away from grisly sights once more. The Vampire Lord turned from the small village, never to return again.

He would go home, not to the prestigious castle they all shared but to the Earth herself… He, too, would secret himself away, go to ground and sleep through centuries. Truth be told, Viciente was so very tired of existing and pretending amongst the mortals. One order of business need be settled before he disappeared from this world, the line of succession. The one who would lead future generations would be chosen… Tomorrow. It had to be tomorrow.

Birthright

The sound of booted feet echoed throughout the paved hallway. Torchlight flickered on the walls above, casting gentle light that touched the shadows of a tall frame. The flames licked across his form gently, casting dark shadows on the contours of his face. A hard expression dominated such planes, making them appear harsh in the dim light. He stepped with purpose, knowing to whose chamber he was to go. Winter chill had seeped into the cold stones of the castle, but it mattered very little to the being moving amongst the halls tonight.

The figure’s echoing steps stopped. He had arrived plainly at his destination and fingers touched across the wooden door’s handle, pushing it inward. The locks clicked and admitted him to the chamber, stooping so that his frame would fit through the opening. The dark eyes of the creature surveyed the bedroom where medics and nurses stood. One of the servants stepped forward from the shadows, appearing disheveled and near irritation. Automatically, a name was conjured to his mind – Johnathon. It whispered through his lips and the servant’s lips grinned broadly before he nodded, and the expression returned to one of stoicism. “A girl, Lord Dmitri.”

The dark eyes light with relief, welling over. Immediately, he whispered back so as not to disturb the hush of the room, “And my lady?”

Again, that servant grinned. It was, indeed, a joyous occasion. “Lady Delilah has been moved to a separate chamber while she undergoes the change in privacy. Her birth left her quite weary, but if all goes well then she shall see the babe soon. But you, my Lord, are more than welcome to visit with the child. There,” he pointed. “In the corner with a nurse.”

The lord could not help the smile that spread to his lips. Here was the child – the continuation of his line and the next to be the Dragomir’s head. It was her birthright. She would make all of the necessary decisions and he the preparations. Stepping toward the nurse and the babe nestled tightly in her arms, Dmitri could not help the slight tremor of trepidation that flowed through his limbs.

At his approach, the nurse glanced up almost frantically as if the man before her had given her quite the fright. She was, as all servants of the House, human. They provided fresh blood to the darker creatures, willingly, in hopes that they too would become immortal. Such requests were hardly granted, but it was not something impossible.

Instinctively, Dmitri held out his arms to receive the warm bundle from the nurse. Gently, carefully, her frail arms deposited the blanketed child in his capable hands. Almost immediately, he cradled the child against his chest and gazed upon her face for the first time. She was a small babe, with gentle scraps of hair floating about a tiny porcelain face. The warmth of the small creature within his arms was startling and her weight? Well, she was light as a feather, delicate. Instinct told him just how easily he could crush the child he was holding, but something far more soothing whispered to his mind about protection. He would protect the babe until the end of his existence came to him.

The curve of her small, cherubic cheeks made him smile somewhat. The golden of her hair was indeed that of her mother’s. The cold of his finger touched across the small cheek, fond of her already. From his lips, he whispered the name, “Andromeda,” gifting such a thing to her. It was strong, Grecian as he was. He had dubbed her “ruler of men”. Such things would be true in the future and he would live as long, he hoped, to find out. Leaning, the Lord laid a small kiss against his daughter’s cheek. It was soft against his lips, gentle, and it again reminded him of how very delicate she was. Almost reluctant, Dmitri returned her to the hands of the nurse and moved toward the door of the second chamber – there his wife stayed, struggling through the changes of vampirism. At the very least, he would be by her side until she woke.

His tall frame moved, ghost-like, toward the door. He was floating, drifting in a sea of his own thoughts even as the door opened and candlelight flickered against the doorway. In the middle of a large bed of down and feathers, the sheets pulled to her chin, lay his beautiful Delilah. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully now and so he shifted forward, toward the bed and the woman lying upon it. His weight sunk the mattress and he dragged his form into the bed with her, but froze entirely when he breathed in her scent. The scent of jasmine and lilac was smothered instead by the pungent scent of death, flowered all over his beautiful maiden. Horror and pain struck, wielding a double-edged sword and thrusting it toward his heart. A cry was stifled in his throat… She had not been strong enough to complete the transition from mortal to vampire.

Tears poured from the dark molasses of his irises, dotted across the marble of her cheek. The droplets were tinged red, raining blood upon her flesh. He squeezed her cold, lifeless body to his, the smell of true death pervading his nostrils. “Delilah,” he whispered, fingertips pressing into the dead skin. “My beautiful Delilah…” Choked tears, sobs, wracked his body as he huddled inward and spent what little time he had left with a woman he had loved throughout life and then even death. Dmitri vowed to lie there all the night, not saying a thing to any of the servants. It did not matter to them. They were human. They would mourn, and their pain would fade. But his pain was eternal.

Dmitri’s emotions were deadened as he settled into the bed next to the body of Delilah for it was a body and not his beloved lying there. He could no longer deny such a thing. A wayward thought crossed his mind, one of ending his existence utterly – sacrificing himself, but there were more important things at hand like the newborn child in the next chamber, the child who would need to be trained. Thoughts of his daughter filling his mind, Dmitri allowed himself to sink into what oblivion the vampires were allowed. There were no dreams, no laughter, and no thought. It was a simple, all-encompassing darkness that brought the end of emotion, the end of pain. The sleep of the dead. His last thought as dawn forced such a thing on him pervaded through his consciousness…

Andromeda…

Time felt as if it were moving in eternity, over and over again. Time assaulted the day, dragging it on hour by hour until the path of the sun had passed the center of the sky and carried on until it reached the horizon. The light began to dwindle, die, as day passed and night flourished. Dusk dominated the sky with its fading blue and the moon shone brightly overhead, drifting just slightly from the tops of trees. The Dragomirs awoke, stirring from their sleeps as night took precedence over the world, casting her blanket of darkness.

Andromeda paced the layout of her office, nestled in the farthest corner of her rooms. It was a private place where only those who held invitations dwelled. The flowing material of her dress fanned out around her nimble form, sinking to the floor as gravity demanded. Clearly, the woman pacing the floor was awaiting something or – perhaps – someone. The bodice of her red velvet dress laced up, tracing across her frame gently while the skirt drifted in a million different directions, showcasing the bare skin of toned legs. She did not seem to notice the way guards posted at the door watched her every move, nor did she seem to care. That was their job, after all. Finally, a knock on the door interrupted her musing thoughts.

One of her maids entered, a girl she had fondly named Dontae. “Well, what news have you brought me today?” cooed the vampire, calm replacing the worried contours of her earlier expression. It was easy to switch from one expression to another without giving away her deepest thoughts or fears. The woman did this on a daily basis, conversing with all manner of beings. She especially hid her emotions when talking to the Council of Elders, her advisors, which happened to include her father.

“Your brother has sent word, m’lady. He cannot keep his usual appointment with you.” Dontae’s voice was soft, airy, and nearly high-pitched. It would grate on the ears at times, but Andromeda did not seem to mind in the least. Dontae was a respectable young woman with an amiable reputation, unlike some of her other maidens. Some of those were simple blood fiends, looking only to be changed and nothing more.

Andromeda kept her face schooled to perfection, smoothed. Her thoughts, however, were warring with each other. Why on this Earth would Aubrey not keep their usual dinner appointment? The two always ate together, spoke of the day, and other things. These things took her mind entirely off of the tasks of the day, settling squabbles amongst her family nobles or dealing with prisoners. It had been this way for centuries and the fact that he had simply canceled did not at all please the Lady Andromeda.

She kept this thought to herself and shrugged, resigned. “Very well, Dontae. Might you know why?”
The servant only smiled and said, softly, “Lord Aubrey is caring for an injured fawn he found on the castle’s edge today.” Her cheeks were flushed, tinted pink. It was clear that she favored Aubrey, in more ways than one.

“So a deer is more important than our usual meeting?” There was nothing cross or angry in the words. It was a simple question, nothing more.

Dontae smiled again, sheepish, though this time her eyes brightened. “Is that not an adequate excuse for m’lady?”

Andromeda allowed herself to appear slightly irritated by her maiden’s words, huffing softly. “Yes, it is more than adequate. Thank you, Dontae. Was there anything else?”

The girl nodded, pulling out a small letter. It was handwritten in an elegant script, honed from years of practice. Andromeda reached out, taking the letter from the girl’s hand silently. Her eyes wandered silently over the script placed there,

“Meet me in the Eastern Library.
- C.”

There, on Andromeda’s cherry lips, a small smile was placed. It curved the edges of her mouth. She allowed herself this simple pleasure and then gestured for Dontae to depart. As the door to her office closed, she gazed down at the handwriting, studying it silently. Oh, yes. She certainly did know the handwriting placed here so elegantly. With soft laughter, she moved from her office, locking the door behind her.

A key was placed around her neck once again, where it remained, before she began moving down the hallway. Artificial light poured from the ceiling, lighting it easily. Though the modern times had arrived, their customs would always be the same. It did not matter the century, their dress rarely changed and Andromeda could not see herself adopting the fashions of this new age.

The sharp arcs of her heels made gentle noises against the marble tiles that surrounded, glinting beneath the artificial light. Glancing about with sharp, lilac eyes, Andromeda moved swiftly into a room and shut the doors behind her. Turning, cases of books as high as the ceiling were visible along with shelves stocked with centuries of history – her family’s history. In the center of the library’s tile was their family’s crest – the Ouroboros – the serpent who eats it own tail, decorated there. Her grandfather had designed the place to his specifications, thinking only of the coming generations.

With its books piled high, this particular library had always managed to take her breath away. It was lovely to look upon, to see the old tomes with wrinkled pages standing and stacked upon shelves. As her eyes traveled across the room, she sensed the presence of another nearby, the one who had called her to this meeting place. When turning, the first thing she noticed about the figure was the golden locks that tumbled across his shoulders and down his back. Rarely, and only rarely, did the men here cut the locks of their hair. It was a mark of status, of privilege to wear the hair long. Even Andromeda’s golden curls reached past her waist, to the curves of her thighs.

When the stranger lifted his face, Andromeda very easily recognized him. He had been called Caelan for many centuries now. Caelan, the Fair One. He was not, in fact, a part of the Dragomir line. Caelan was an outsider that her family had allowed in. He was one of the luck servants, those who got their deepest desires fulfilled. It was because of his beauty that he was changed into a vampire, for vanity only. It was no secret to anyone that Caelan had been attempting to court Andromeda for decades and each time she would turn him the cold shoulder, shun him entirely. She was not one for relationships. Was it not her father who told her that such relationships, whether mortal or immortal, cloud one’s judgment?

Upon seeing him, Andromeda would attempt to be polite, especially to a guest in her household, but she did not need to be. This even brought forth a smile, teased reluctantly from her mouth. It would be rather satisfying to see him fall, a weakling, before her. However, Caelan was attempting to be his usual charming self this night. Something that Andromeda was simply sick of. “Good evening, Lady Andromeda.” His smile told of things, more intimate things than he had earned. It sent a wave of disgust through her.

However, she smiled at him as if he were one of her favorite guards. It was so easy to be polite as custom demanded it. The dim lights of the library flickered gently above them, threatening to wink out at any second. “Caelan, the Fair, why have you honored me so with your presence?”

The soles of his shoes slid against the tiles of the library floor as he moved forward, his form dwarfing hers. He stepped up to her, so close, that she could feel the soft breath of his mouth against her neck. Such things absolutely unnerved her. His methods of courting were very, very outdated, but the vampire simple refused to take no for an answer. “I simply wanted to see you.” She did not need to see the smile on his lips to know it was there for it shone in his words.

Appearing agitated by his answer, the Lady Andromeda turned from his form and began stepping out of the library. The large granite doors slammed shut behind her. There were more important things to do here than to stay and listen to the trite, pointless whisperings of a suitor.

High above, the moon paraded through the sky like a ring leader, proud in her heaven. The stars became a part of her very own celestial circus act. Pegasus, the winged horse, danced across the dark backdrop, and clouds drifted like great white elephants. Yes, even Leo the Lion purred with a contented sound as he marched into the procession. The ground below was much less miraculous, an audience to the sky high revels, and what creatures dwelled here were simply shamed. Man even paused to gaze into the night, with eyes glittering and faces lifted as if to welcome the descent of their Gods. Even with that great sky overhead, something unsettling approached with wicked intent on the Earth.

Drifting in the sea of that black abyss was a strange being indeed. It was a young woman, running for her life amongst the dead trees. Her heart beat fast in her chest as fear swallowed her every thought, drowning her entire body in a wave of adrenaline. Steps quick, she rattled through the forest as autumn spilled around her. The oranges and browns of the falling leaves did not escape her tumultuous path, crunching underfoot as she moved. Nipping at the heels of her feet was… something. A predator seeking its prey. This predator rushed forward, urged toward the life springing from its grasp each moment.

Laughter echoed through the limbs and boughs and branches, resounding in the woman’s ears like that of a long-forgotten nightmare. A small sound of terror escaped her lips as the sound of footsteps quickened behind her, echoing no matter how quickly she sped herself. In the darkness she stumbled through the forest, hoping to avoid branches that gnarled and twisted below her. Terror climbed its way up her throat and stifled the screams that would have otherwise poured from her. A dark shape materialized before her eyes, before she could chance to stop herself, and the momentum sent her flying into it. Strong arms caught her wrists, easily steeled against fragile weight.

It was then that a scream did give way, digging from her lips like a plea. That soft, dark laughter filled her ears again, but the creature’s lips before her did not move. She struggled, trying to force her way from the beast that held her in its clutches, but found that she could not escape. Instead, she glared defiantly up at her captor. His face was still in shadow, for it was indeed a man. The rigid shape of its body proved that, but the strength in his limbs told her that he was not human. He could not be. It was then that the creature smiled and jagged incisors revealed themselves, sharp and glinting beneath the pale moonlight. Another scream rose in her throat, but no sound flowed out of it. In one quick movement the being leaned forward and the fangs sank past the soft flesh of the woman’s throat, piercing the skin.

The heat and warmth of blood flowed into the predator’s mouth, nourishing his system. His skin lightened as her blood fell down his throat in great waves. In moments he had taken enough of it that she fell beneath his weight, having fainted. What held up her body now were two strong arms. The creature brought a small vial from around his neck and filled it with her blood, saving it in the pocket of dark trousers. With a thud, he released her and her body fell to the forest floor easily, dropping from his grasp. The sharp hunger gnawing at his entire form slated, the beast allowed a breath to fall from his lips. No blood stained his lips or his clothing, as he was particular. However, the bites upon his victim would alert those of the small town that she had been disposed of most viciously.

This did not seem to bother the predator. After all, human lives were near meaningless. The mortals sharing this Earth were in plentiful supply, their populace have gone from mere hundreds to millions. Their race spread across continents, contaminating the world like rats. His lips lifted in a sneer, disgusted by the thought, as he began to press forward, away from the body he had so casually disposed of. The woods were dark this hour, but he did not mind. He had eyes to see in the dark, sharper than a human’s. And suddenly the being paused in the forest, a thoughtful look upon handsome features. For one who would be watching could indeed tell of his facial features now – a sharp nose, soft locks of dark hair shorn short, the high cheekbones of a royal, wide jaw, and, lastly, the dark abyss of two eyes. Long ago, the pupil was swallowed by both irises.

Someone had whispered just now, a sweet sound that tumbled across his ears. The being’s head tilted to one side, knocking the curls of his dark hair askew. There it was again. Irial… Irial… The creature whispering said his name, softly as to beckon him forward. Such a sound was not familiar to him, the gentle tenor of another’s voice. Free me…

This brought curiosity to his mind. Those words free me stayed there like the plague, caught in his mind. Flashes of images came next from the unknown source digging its way into his mind, into the darkest recesses of his soul. Temptation flowed from the images, wrapping the demon in a shell.

A being with golden locks, the skin grayed from centuries of neglect, in chains.
Dull crimson eyes that held gentle pleas, suffocating in silence.
A flash of a woman, beautiful with lilac eyes standing at the edge of a cell. Worry paints her face.
A dark passageway, leading to a place even deeper than the dungeon, secreted away from life.

The images and thoughts suddenly pulled away, leaving Irial bereft for a few moments. He stood there, expression blank as his eyes scanned the heavens. With a shudder, he came into himself and felt his heart pounding in his chest like a ravenous beast. The woman’s face that had floated before his eyes had been his cousin, someone he had not seen in decades. In fact, childhood memories now assaulted his mind. Andromeda Dragomir – the head of the Dragomir family. He was tugged there, his body now facing the direction of the castle his ancestors now called him.

The whispers of a stranger repeated in his mind as foul temptation rose up and gripped him by the throat, calling him to the castle like the sweet words of a forlorn lover seeking attention. He would go and he would find the secrets his beloved cousin was keeping. That resolution in mind, Irial began pressing forward, leaving the trees and the dark of the woods behind. The name of the captured man flowed through his thoughts, as if it had always been there – Alastair…



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