"Make haste my love," said Victor, "the dawn approaches and our enemies surround us."
"My limbs ache from your recent embrace," replied Victoria, " and this forest lends not itself to my weakness." At that Victor quickly scooped his love into his arms without breaking stride. The touch of her expensive garment was soft against his hands, her locks of curls and flapping lace gently tickled his arms. Being careful not wrinkle her dress he increased his speed, dodging past trees and over rocks.
"Our sanctuary will soon be within reach," he said softly, "do not despair, I shall be your shield."
There she lay in his arms, her angelic face glowing in the moonlight of the forest, her eyes fixed on the face of her beloved, she was safe here, his arms were her shelter.
"You shall not escape our wrath," shouted a nearby horseman, "The Brotherhood shall cleanse the earth of your pestilence, and bathe the ground with your blood."Victor continued to run at lightning speeds, all the while his beloved clinging tightly to his chest. After a few moments the sounds of the horsemen faded in the distance, and the sounds of the forest returned. The quite babble of a nearby stream, the songs of birds and crickets filling the air. When it seemed their pursuers had fallen far enough behind Victor whispered. "We are near, quickly, make for our sanctuary, I shall deal with any whom have remained to challenge me." He set her gently to the ground, glanced deeply into her stark blue eyes, and with a kiss, she was running for their home. As she disappeared into the foliage, Victor backtracked into the brush, following the scent of his enemies blood. With a flurry of strength and flashing teeth, he was upon them, tearing them to pieces with a speed and eloquence no human possessed. As soon as it had began, it was over, with not a drop of blood given to the earth.
Victor stood slowly, licking sweet red liquid from his lips, savoring the taste. It was then he heard it, the terrified scream of his beloved. With hatred in his heart and bloodlust in his eyes he ran for the cry, towards his home. He came crashing through the trees only to find Victoria splayed upon the ground, a stake through her chest and an arrow through her side.
In an instant he descended upon the men who surrounded her. Steel flashed and human voices cried but they were no match for him. Their training failed in the onslaught of his strength and his fury. With little resistance he took their last breaths and broke their bodies upon the earth'.
"My love!" he shouted, and was quickly beside her "'Twas naught two hours past that I embraced you with my blood, handed you the dark gift of immortality." he lamented, "Yet here you lie, dying in my arms. This is my doing, too long have I waited to sire you, too many years passed that I kept you bound by your mortal chains." Victoria raised her hand slightly, sweeping away the tears now streaming down her beloveds face. "Be not saddened my master, I have loved you with my entire being, and you have returned that love. My soul can now rest bearing no regrets." "No!" he cried "I will not leave you here to die." "Though you must," she replied, "I am still a weak fledgling, these wounds are mortal, and the sun is at the horizon, let me rest my love, I shall live forever in your heart."
With that she collapsed completely.
As Victor cried out the sun rose, setting his skin ablaze forcing him to retreat to the shelter of his home. As he ran, he dared to cast a final look at his beloved. Her lifeless body shimmered in the sunlight, seemingly embracing its warmth, then, in an instant, she was ash, blowing through the trees on the back of the wind.
With that Victor awoke, it was the same dream that had haunted him for more than 200 years. Sighing to himself he opened his eyes, greeted by darkness, and hard oak covered with velvet. Though the darkness muted its rich color, he could feel its soft touch upon his skin, smell its sweet scent within his nostrils, the scent of death, the scent of hopelessness.
Victor quickly moved to open his coffin, bathed by the soft glow of his antique lamps, and the blank stares of his artwork. Not a moment later the thirst began to rise, every night he awoke to it, and this night was no different. He closed his eyes for a moment, losing himself in Vivaldi's 'largo cantabile', which floated softly through his room. Moving to his closet he quickly dressed himself, a red satin shirt, brocade pants, an expensive jacket, and an elaborate cane. A bit cliché perhaps, overdone and eccentric maybe, but this is who he was, and he reveled in it. He was ready to begin the hunt.
Victor headed quickly towards the door of his Chicago suite, quickly glancing at the calendar, faded and worn, hanging on his wall. December 1987 it read. While something of a joke to him, after so many years he had given up on keeping track of the days. They were never ending darkness, blurring together into weeks, months, years... his own personal hell. "Tonight is Saturday." he mused, that would make his hunting easier, allow him to add some variety to his diet.
Tonight was no different than the others, the clubs were filled with the same faces, the streets filled with the same drunks, and the women were begging to taste the ecstasy of his kiss. After drinking his fill of the mindless clubers that littered the street, he began to grow weary of their taste. Dull, flavorless, without spice and without imagination. Victor began to thirst for something a bit more sophisticated, something these college aged drones could not offer him. So he made his way to Cafe Luna, perhaps he could find something to satisfy his craving there.
The moment he walked through those glass doors he knew something was different, or rather, someone. There she sat, fiddling with her long curls, reading over War and Peace, legs crossed with slender white fingers splayed across her coffee mug. She was no older than 30, dark hair, soft features, well dressed. But that was not what interested him. There was something about her, she was human, yes; yet she had an unnatural beauty. He did not sense her presence like he did the others, there was something ancient about her, something mysterious, it was not her elegant clothing or her perfect features, there was something more here, something that drew Victor towards her, something that would not let him leave.
Elizabeth was her name, and with a bit of subterfuge he convinced her to return to his apartment for a drink. He led her there, through the darkened streets, littered by the unnatural glow of the street lamps. They arrived at his home, though he was barely able to hide his desire to have her, he offered her a seat out of courtesy. After all it had been years since another had visited, years since he had conversed with others or entertained a guest. Sinking slowly into the antique armchairs embrace, she smiled as he sat besides her. "Is that Vivaldi you are listening too?" she asked, "Very good," he applauded, "Quite a gentle man he was, a bit too religious for my tastes though." He paused and glanced at Elizabeth, a quizzical expression on her face. He quickly changed the subject. Excitedly she engaged him in discussion of art and history, poetry and literature, surprising him with every perfectly placed word, every perfectly formed sentence. She enraptured him. He was taken with her melodic voice, her innocent laugh, and her breathtaking smile. So much so, that for a moment he forgot his thirst, but only for a moment.
And so the time came, and while Victor was not one to toy with his food, there was something that made him want to explain what he was, what he had endured. Whether it was the ages of loneliness that had been forced upon him, or the way she looked at him, the familiarity he found in her eyes, the understanding that seemed to embrace him. Whatever it was, in that moment of weakness he uttered words he had never before spoken. "I am a vampire, and you are to be my next meal."
Strangely enough she did not laugh, neither did she cower in fear, no, her continuance held something different...intrigue perhaps, longing maybe. Whatever it was, it was enough to stay his hand, to stay his thirst for her life blood a moment longer.
"Please," she said quietly, "explain yourself." At that a puzzled look crossed Victors face. "I tell you I am an immortal hunter, and that this room is where your life will end, and that is your response?" She paused for a moment, "I don't know what it is, but somehow I trust you, I feel like I have known you for quite some time, even perhaps...that our souls are not so different." "Soul," he scoffed, "I am damned, forsaken, cursed, my soul died with my body 276 years ago." He stared at her now, at her unreadable features. "Very well," he said resigned, "what is it you wish to know?"
"You have seen so many years, surely you must have great tales to tell, and it would please me to hear them." she said. And so he did. He regaled her with stories of wealth and royalty, with his death and rebirth, with foreign lands and foreign times, and most importantly, the death of his beloved. When he had finished, he could see she burned with questions, he could nearly smell the curiosity wafting from her.
"Your sire," she said cautiously, "the one who made you, you never knew him?" "I did not choose to be embraced," he began, "or turned if that suits you. It was thrust upon me by a vampire who sought no permission, in an effort to replenish his clan." "Clan?" She asked. "Yes, there are 13 bloodlines, or clans if you will, my sire was of the clan Toreador; a clan of artists, musicians, poets, and only the most beautiful. He was also primogen, nearly an ancient, leader of our clan and adviser to the prince." "Primogen, prince, you will have to forgive me if I do not understand such things." "Beneath your world lies another where the undead and the supernatural exist. Though monsters we may be, we are the ones who control your society, but this is not the time or place for a lecture in politics, or an extensive history of our kind. I turned my back on these secret societies, abandoned the politics of the undead, and do not wish to explain them now. Please let me tell my story." "Of course," she said sheepishly, "please continue."
"Needless to say, I never knew his name. The prince ordered his death for breaking kindred law. Kindred is our word for vampire you see. Though my sire escaped, the prince let me live, but I was forced from my home and stripped of my title. I was given no explanation of my condition, no teaching of what I needed for survival. I was made a Caitiff, a clanless vampire, outcast and left to die. Mine was a miserable existence, with immortality comes the bereavement of the loss of all those you once loved. I was forced to stage my death, for my family grew old and I showed no age. I watched the ones I loved from the shadows, as they aged, and perished. I longed to be human again, to feel age weather my flesh, to see the light of day..." His voice trailed off. Elizabeth shifted slightly in her seat. "Would you care for some water, wine perhaps?" Victor offered. "No thank you, please continue." she replied.
"No Caitiff survives for long," he continued. "They are either killed by other sects of vampires, die of hunger, sunlight, or are killed by werewolves and vampire hunters. Such was the fate I brought upon my beloved. It is a miracle I have survived this long, if you can call it that. This condition is nothing more than a curse, I am nothing more than a demon." he paused at this, seemingly lost in his thoughts.
"The girl," began Elizabeth, "Victoria, please tell me of her." Victors gaze now seemed far off, his voice weak and tired. "Victoria, she was my sunlight.", he whispered, head in hand, "In a world of death and darkness, she was my ray of hope. Beautiful as the morning sun glistening upon winters frost. Though I can not venture into the daylight, my soul and heart longs to feel its warmth upon my skin, to taste its rays upon my tongue." he paused. Then after a short silence he said, "She was my sunrise, she was everything pure and perfect in this world, and she was taken from me."
They sat there in silence for what seemed like days. "Have you ever found love again?" she asked tenderly. "No." he replied sternly, gripping his glass of whiskey. "This world holds no love for me, no ray of hope. My mistake was loving her, my mistake was thinking I deserved anything more than misery and despair. Love is murder, and history will always repeat itself." After a moment Elizabeth ventured, "Even the cruelest of monsters deserves to feel love." "Not I!" He shouted now, standing to his feet, looming over her with anger in his eyes. "I am an abomination! I feed on others, I take their lives for my own pleasure. I feel no love, I feel no joy, only hunger, only hatred!" "But this was not always so," she retorted bravely, "You did love once, you did share your soul with another." "How can you pretend to understand!" He shouted. "It was a mistake to tell these things to a human, you can never possibly comprehend who I am, what I have done. I am evil and nothing more, nothing can love me, and in return I can love naught." "Leave, leave now, I never should have brought you here, I never should have told you these things." The thirst was rising in him now. "I will spare your life for now, but don't expect a second meeting to end with such grace."
With that he opened the door and forced her through it, slamming it behind her. The sun was rising, he could feel it. Quickly retreating to his casket he laid himself to rest. "I must erase her from my mind." he told himself, "I must never make this mistake again."
The nights that followed were accentuated with routine, as Victor tried to drown out every thought of the girl he had met at the cafe. It was all he could do to forget her, yet thoughts of her presence endured, and her words stuck with him. "Even the cruelest of monsters deserves to feel love." Could this be true he would ask himself . Was there redemption for his sins, was there still a spark of hope left in his hollow shell? While this notion seemed ludicrous to him, he couldn't help but wonder. The empty streets he wandered alone no longer satisfied him. The mysterious girl had awoken something within him, something he was trying to suppress.
It was another lonely night, Victor sat in front of his easel, filling a blank canvas with color one stroke at a time. It had been decades since he was inspired to paint, and now here he sat, delaying the inevitable. When he was finished he was staring at a familiar face, a face he could not erase from his mind.
He was out of the door now, down the street, past the dark alleys and the buildings towering above him. And there she was, sitting before him as if she had never left. Sipping her coffee, fiddling with her hair, flawless and stunning.
Months passed, and every night he was with her. With every question and every breathtaking glance he fell for her. Every new experience, every shared laugh, she chipped away at his cold shell. He shared with her every experience he could offer, except when he had to feed. Despite her requests, he could not bare to show her his true face, to show her this true monstrosity. And though he told himself he would not love her, love began to build in his heart nonetheless.
It was one of these such nights the inevitable happened, though he hoped it would not come to this. They were leaving a performance of Manon by Jules Massenet at the lyric opera when she said the words he so dreaded. "Make me like you," she said "you should not have to face the ages of this world alone." "I can not take away your innocence," Victor replied, "I will not make you into the monster that I am." "But you are not a monster," she pleaded, "These last few months you have shown me wonders I could have never dreamt of, you have given me joy and warmth I have never experienced, my only desire is to spend eternity with you." "How can you say I am not a monster?" he said, raising his voice now. "You do not know what I am, you do not know what I have done." "But I want to know, I want to experience this world by your side." "You want to see what I see," he shouted, "you want to be what I am? Then I will show you!" Before he had finished his sentence he was turning. With lightning speed he was across the street and back, with a woman in his arms. She was screaming, crying for help, people were stopping to see the commotion. Then just as swiftly, Victor tore into her neck. The woman cried in terror as he ripped through her flesh and began to bleed her. Only a few short moments passed and she was on the ground, lifeless. "This is who I am!" screamed Victor, "I am no fairytale prince, I am the enemy!"
Then he was gone, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, fuming. Had he been justified? He could not make Elizabeth to suffer what he had suffered. He could not take her life from her. As he continued on he began to hear noises, as if he was being follow. "Of course." he thought. He had killed that woman in front of everyone. This would surely incur the wrath of every vampire in the city. He had revealed their existence to mortals, and now his life was forfeit.
He reached his home quickly, but not quickly enough, they were already there, waiting for him on the steps. Before he could flee they surrounded him, roaring, bearing their fangs, and rushing towards him. There were five of them, angry and hungry. Victor managed to break through their line with only a few scratches, coming up behind them. He decapitated one and pulled out the heart of another before he caught a shotgun blast to the chest. Victor fell back into a the car behind him shattering the windows. Quickly he regained his balance, mustering his strength he threw the car at the others, crushing one and maiming another. Before they could regain their wits he was gone, realizing if they were after him, they would surely be after the mortal he had been touting around the city.
Victor ran for the opera house with full speed, praying that she had escaped unnoticed. When he reached the opera house she was not there, but he picked up her scent easily enough, following her trail. He found her, she was safe, but there were two vampires following her silently in the shadows. They were ash before they hit the ground. She was in his arms then, clutching him desperately, tears falling over her porcelain cheeks. "Forgive me." was all he could coax from his lips, "I already have." she whispered.
"How touching." came a menacing voice from the shadows. They were surrounded, he sensed 15 others, and there were sure to be more on the way. The voice from the shadows spoke again, "By order of the prince, you are to be given final death." He could hear them growling, waiting, hoping to get a taste of his blood. "Please," he pleaded with them, "show us mercy and we will leave the city, never to return. You have my word."
"No dice." Growled a voice from the shadows.
"Then allow the girl to leave, she has nothing to do with this." "She has seen too much," the voice continued, "her life is forfeit, her blood is ours." They were closing in now, Elizabeth was clinging tightly to Victors side as he looked desperately for a way out. He found none.
This was the end, one careless mistake made in a fit of anger, and he had committed suicide, and condemned the one he loved to death. "Love" he thought, "Yes, I do love her."
It was in that moment, whether by fate or fortune, that a second party arrived. All the commotion had attracted the hunters, and they were armed to kill.
"Foul creatures," their leader cried, "your time has come, the Brotherhood shall purify you in our Holy Light, your lives will end here."
When the shooting started everything slowed to a blur. The cries of immortals and humans filled the air, accented by sounds of guns and the smell of blood.
The event wouldn't last long, soon the sounds of police sirens, and the scattering of broken feet would commence. They would all slink back to their corners and await the next night. But Victor would hear none of this, for in his arms lay the bloodied body of Elizabeth. Whether a stray bullet or a vampires claws were to blame he could not tell, nor did he care. For there she lay, even in death a vision of beauty, even lifeless her eyes still danced.
"Love is murder." Victor mumbled, and with a final glance he was gone, never to be seen again.