Contessa tensed when her father approached her, and then forced herself to relax. She was being silly; she had wanted this after all. She had been delighted when she finally came of age and could join her father’s covenant, but why was she having doubts now?
Kneeling, her red blond hair swung forward and concealed her face like a curtain. Her white skirt puddles around her on the marble floor, the hems of her dress had an intricate golden pattern that caught the light and caused the hems of the dress to shimmer. Her father paused before her, his red robes swaying. The gold goblet held in his hands filled to the brim with blood laced with wine. Lifting her head and straitening her back she raised her startling green eyes to meet his soul-searching black ones. After staring into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity he lifted his gaze from her and swept it around them at the crowd gathered.
"We are gathered here today to instate my daughter into our coven, if any gathered here to witness have a reason why she should not be allowed to join, please speak your peace," her father stayed where he was but seemed to withdraw from the proceedings.
After a few minutes wait her father seemed to be present again and began to speak.
"She is of age, is trusted, and can be relied upon to do what is necessary, so if we have no objections," his gaze once again swept around the room, "I will proceed without further ado." and with that he bent forward and placed the lip of the goblet in front of her mouth.
Grasping the goblet with both hands Contessa downed it in one gulp; the sweet tang of the blood laced with wine seemed to bring with it warmth, which became a burning that seared her veins. Though she knew it was coming the blazing pain surprised her and she let loose a scream before she could stop herself.
As quickly as the pain came the blazing pain left, leaving her shivering uncontrollable. It was like liquid nitrogen was being poured into her veins, freezing them and stopping her heart. Just as soon as her heart stopped it started beating again, only stronger and faster than before. Her blood forced itself into her veins, the pressure making it feel like she was being pulled apart. Then finally the pain disappeared altogether. She had fallen over some time during the process, so she sat up and once again got to her knees before her father. He placed his hands upon her head and spoke words of an ancient language.
Contessa closed her eyes and bowed her head, exhaustion almost overwhelming.
"Rise Contessa and let your coven complete the ceremony and embrace you'" he said smiling. Rising Contessa was overwhelmed by a sudden urge to run away, and it overcame her. She was a blur racing past her father and the coven, and into the dark arms of a cloaked stranger. The stranger threw back his hood, for he was indeed a man. He wrapped an arm around her and something overcame her, she was immobile. Some force making her still and unable to move. The man raised his hand palm outward; on the back of his hand was the insignia of a mage. A bright light suddenly bloomed in the palm of his hand and he hurled it at her father and the coven. They were rendered to ash, and the stranger released her and she fell to her knees staring at the place where her father once stood.
No tears came, but anger reared its ugly head and rose inside her. All of a sudden marks that crisscrossed on her skin appeared that glowed with a sinister red. It shone brightly, casting the man in an eerie red glow. He was bald with the tattoo of an eye on his forehead, his face all angles, with a mustache that many policemen would envy. Contessa ran at him, but was again held immobile by some unseen force. He walked around her slowly and examined her marks, muttering silently to himself all the while.
“My name is Leon Noble,” he said suddenly breaking the silence. He stopped in front of her and his blue eyes stared into hers, obviously waiting for her to tell him her own name. Instead of speaking she spat on the ground at his feet, and he suddenly punched her in the stomach.
“You will show respect,” he said quietly and calmly.
“YOU KILLED THEM, for no reason!” she shouted at Leon vehemently.
“You don’t know them like I do,” his eyes seemed to flare up with red light as he said this, “they, unlike you, deserved to die.” Leon said.
“WHY!” Contessa shouted again, struggling against the invisible force that bound her. Leon looked her in the eye, and what he saw there made him shake his head resolutely.
“I cannot tell you why, you are not ready for the answer,” holding up a finger warning her not to interrupt he continued, “but I will tell you this, all you have known and been told is a lie.” With that he flicked his hand at her and she was conscious long enough to notice that the in visible force that had held her immobile had vanished before she blacked out, only to awaken chained up in a cell.
Contessa grasped the chains and tugged with all her strength, trying to break the bolts holding it in place. The manacles chafing her wrists as she strained against them. After hours of trying to work the bolts out or break them she finally realized that her straining wasn’t having any effect at all she collapsed in exhaustion, her breathing ragged.
A screeching noise coming from the dark, damp cell across from hers ceased her breathing altogether. Pushing her red blond hair out of her eyes she stood and went as far toward the bars of her cell as her manacles would allow, straining her eyes to see into the cell across from hers. The darkness seemed to congeal into different shapes and disperse before she could register what it was.
Every so often a tendril of that darkness would stretch toward the bars of the cell only to be sent back with a screech by a burst of white light that came from the bars of the cell. Shivering she sat back on her haunches and examined her cell. The small window located ten feet above her on the back wall of her cell flooded her cell with moon light, the light only making it harder for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She finally registered the footsteps making their way toward her cell and she retreated toward the back of her cell. Torchlight flooded her cell and blinded her as the footsteps halted, and she feebly raised her hand to shield her eyes. While the person struggled with the lock she prepared herself to try and overpower the person she could now see was a man due to her eyes having adjusted to the light being thrown off by the torch. The cell door screeched open and the man placed the torch in a iron holder on the wall. Going over to crouch against the far cell wall, the chains attached to her manacles rattled across the floor after her.
Staring at her wearily the man, whose age she could now see was closer to her own, said a word in what sounded like the same language Leon had used and waved his hand at the manacles. With a flash of blue light the manacles opened and fell to the ground at her feet, the loud clang making the guy wince and glance at the cell opposite of hers. Gesturing for her to follow him he stepped outside of her cell and took the torch out of the iron holder. Still crouched she slowly moved so that she was directly in front of the opening of the cell. He made a hurrying motion with the hand that wasn’t holding the torch and she hurriedly moved out of the cell to slump against the wall beside her cell that went in the direction he had come from.
As she was slumped against the wall he shut the cell door and left it unlocked. He walked up to her and she was relieved that she had decided against trying to overpower him, because even if she had been in better condition she couldn’t have managed it. He was lean and that made him look weak, but the powerfully built muscles rippling along his arms told her that her could have taken her without breaking a sweat. He had black hair that was tied back, his eyes a startling bright blue. He said something in a completely different language that before and she looked at him in confusion, not understanding. He held his wrist out palm upward and gestured for her to do the same. Still confused she complied, and when he brushed the place where the manacles had chafed her with his hand she winced. Looking up he caught her wince even though she tried to hide it. Gesturing at her wrists he said a few words in the language Leon had used and with a flash of bright blue light the pain in her wrists vanished along with the marks the manacles had left behind.
She didn’t have long to marvel at what he did though, for the man grabbed one of her newly healed wrists and started to pull her along. Stumbling and bruising her feet she swore and tugged at the man to get him to stop.
“I can’t.” she said, gesturing at her feet.
“She finally speaks.” The man said, and he smiled at her surprised expression. Startled by his deep voice she didn’t register what he spoke and didn’t stop him from dragging her along again. When he suddenly stopped she ran into his back, while backpedaling she saw they had reached a dead end with a rotting oak door leaning against the stone wall. She walked up to it and opened it, and saw the wall threw it. Confused, she turned after carefully closing it and gestured at him and the door. Walking up to the door he touched a glyph that she hadn’t seen and opened it. The door way was now filled with blue swirling light.
“After you” the man said, pushing her toward the swirling blue light. As she tripped on the bottom of the door frame he shouted something and she twisted her body around as she was falling so she could see him.
“I can’t come with you!” he said, “but I can tell you this,” he said raising his arms to the ceiling. “My name is Rex Magure, the Magician!”
When she finally exited the portal she fell to the ground, her legs unable to support
her weight due to her weightlessness while traveling through the portal.
“Where am I?” she said shivering, looking around. Snow covered the ground as far as the eye could see and falling from the sky in what seemed like a mosaic pattern. Stomping her feet and rubbing her arms to regain feeling she picked at the rags that covered her that had once been her glamorous coven gown.
“You could have at least given me something decent to wear!” she yelled at the sky, her breath melting the snow that had settled on her face only to have more settle on it. Taking a step forward she sunk two feet into the ground and with every step she took she seemed to sink deeper and deeper. Trying to backtrack, her terror rising, she sunk even deeper.
The snow was up to her elbows now she realized something, her feet and the lower half of her lags seemed to be getting warmer. Swallowing her fear she kept going, the steps taking her deeper and deeper into the snow until finally she was up to her neck in it. Taking a deep breath she plunged herself all the way into the snow, submerging herself.
She shrieked when she seemed to fall into empty space, thinking she was falling into a chasm under the snow that was filled with melted snow and she was going to drown or worse freeze to death. Instead she fell to the ground with a huff, the heat melting the snow that covered her and dripping wet she stood. Looking around she noticed the water dripping off of her was being absorbed by a blue marble floor that seemed to glow with an inner light.
The walls on either side of her were Black marble with white specks of light littering its surface that seemed to make random patterns, never staying still, looking strangle a lot like the night sky. The ceiling was the more amazing of the two, you could see the snow swirling down but when it seemed to settle on the ceiling it disappeared, just as the snow that she had been standing in just moments ago had disappeared.
Reaching out to touch the ceiling she stopped just short of touching it when she heard footsteps coming her way. Turning her back on the footsteps she made her way towards the opposite end of the hall. Just as she reached the end of the hall the footsteps she had heard hastened and when she heard shouting she cursed. Sprinting around the corner she glanced back and saw three cloaked men with beards racing towards her. Speeding down the hall she slid to a stop when she noticed a thick black door with a golden knob. She opened the door and went in the room, closing the door behind herself and crouching against it held her breath listening. The group that had been chasing her slowed when they rounded the corner and reached the door she was behind and she stained her ears to hear them through the thick dark wood of the door.
“I am far too old for all of this running, you two go on ahead,” one of them said, and after the sound of their footsteps faded the man on the other side of the door stopped wheezing and became strangely quiet. Then all of a sudden there was a bright flash of light that blinded her eyes and the door she was crouched next to disappeared, revealing the man who had stayed behind standing there calmly and quietly watching her.
She retreated quickly, tripping over her own feet in the process while he stalked toward her with a menacing glare, which transformed into a sad smile.
“Child,” he said softly, “you have no need to fear me, for I would not be able to hurt one such as you.” Tears gleamed in his emerald green eyes and he turned away, striding toward a desk and laying his cloak upon the chair behind the desk. His robes, now revealed, were a startling shade of blue with a pattern not unlike the one on the black marble in the halls. He ran a hand through his black hair and then stroked the beard on his chin, and turning back to look at her his eyes looked haunted.
“What do you mean when you say you would not be able to hurt one such as I?” Contessa asked softly, pushing herself up off the floor and standing.
“There is no greater pain than the pain and the loss you have gone through these past few nights, were all that you had known and all that you had been told are revealed to be lies, and now you don’t know who you are anymore or what to do.” he says all of this softly, his voice breaking on the last word. “I am known as Quinton, and Contessa I must say you are much older than I was led to believe you would be.” He went and got his cloak and came to stand beside her.
“ H . .H .how do. .do you kn.n.ow my n .ame.” She stuttered, looking at him with wide eyes. He looked in her eyes calmly draped his cloak around her shoulders before he replied.
“I am your father.” he said.
She drew the recurve bow taunt, her arms shaking with the effort. Without aiming she released and with a twang and thwak the arrow hit the center of the target. Sighing, Contessa, who now preferred to be called Con retrieved the arrow and returned it to its quiver. Placing the recurve bow on its designated place on the wall among the other weapons and leaving the quiver leaning against the wall left the room relunctantly. Spotting her master Falon Rivit chatting with some of his collegues she ducked back into the training room and turned off the light retreating to the back of the room.
She had been avoiding him lately, because he wanted to test her aptitude for magic and she also wanted him to get her some new weapons. Con knew that wanting weapons was a petty reason, but she could not help it that she loved weapons in the same way most girls loved clothes and jewlry. There was another reason she was avoiding him and it was mostly because every time he opened his mouth he would say the same thing, and she didn't want to deal with it today.
The door opened and the lights flikered on revealing another apprentice whose name was Talson. Talson didn't have a last name and was one of the most brillient apprentices the masters said they ever had the prvilage of teaching, which made all of the other student jealose. She was taller than all of the other girls and had her long amber hair in a braid. She was half changeling, half human and she possesed the exotic looks of a fairy, which only made things worse for her. Con was her only friend, and Talson shared her love of weapons.
"Con?" Talson said, wondering why Con had been sitting in the dark. Putting a finger to her lips Con gestured for her to turn the light back off and shut the door, but it was too late and Falcon spotted her and was already heading towards them.
Falcon entered the room and spotted Con, who had given up hiding and was leaning on the wall opposite the weapons.
"Con! I was just looking for you, what a coincidense." Falcon said, expressionless. The only thing the betrayed his emotions was the runes that usually flowed in patterns above his bald head where in dissarray. "Have you talked to Quinton yet, he is the one who took you in and you shouldn't avoid talking with him about him being your father."
Con glared at Falcon and stormed from the room, her mood ruined.Falcon put out a hand and stopped her from running into two apprentices.
"Go to Quinton's office, and if you don't I will take away your wepons." Falcon said, and he released her. Sighing, Con nodded and slowly walked down the corridor until she reached a stairway and then turned and opened the familier door. Letting the door shut on its own she approched the desk where Quinton was working and stopped a few feet before it. Quinton looked up from the scroll he had been reading and stood, rolling the scroll up and putting it in his top desk drower.
"Contessa, I want to tell you why I wasn't there for you when you were younger." He said.
"Let me guess, it wasn't safe for me to stay with you, or even better you could'nt afford to keep me!" she shouted.
"No Contessa, that is not why I wasn't there. Please, just listen to what happend."he pleaded, gesturing for her to sit.
"I'll listen, but only because you took me in and I owe you that much."she said, and sat down.
17 years ago . . .
"Oh Quinton, isn't she just the most beautiful thing you've ever seen." Nelzy said weakly, pale after the difficult birth, her voice soft, and stroked her daughters face smiling.
"Yes, she is very unique." a croched pale figure hissed, never taking its piercing red eyes off of the women. "My dear, may I hold her?" it said, reaching for the baby with clawed hands.
"Yes my love, of course." she said, placing the child in its arms.
"No!" cried Quinton, bursting through the door covered in wounds, blood dripping onto the floor and staining the white carpet. It turned and hissed at him, cradling the child. His wife stood up unsteadly and stared at them confused, seeing two of Quinton, and collapsed. He rushed over to her side and cast a withdrawal on the two puncture wounds on her neck pulling out the venom, then turned around to get back his child.
The window was wide open and a cascade of water was coming in, and he rushed to the window in time to see the vampire run into the forest along with its army of bretheren. The wind and rain died down and he shut the windows, then collapsed from his wounds and his exastion at having used so much power. Trying to get up to go after his newborn baby he yelled and clutched his side to find his rib bone sticking out. Before going unconciouse he saw his wife attack and drink the blood of one of the maids and then break the window and run into the forest.
Even laying there with all these wounds, he thought, they do not compare to the pain of losing your reasons for living, your family, your love, and your baby.
Publication Date: 03-29-2011
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