The Old Country, 1789 A.D.
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
Moonlight escaped from behind dark grey clouds, the light barely denting the harshness and darkness of the shadows. A wolf howled in the distance, the howl carrying with it a soft and desperate cry from another animal. A tiny town came into view, the small cottages sitting closely together, and light spilling through the tiny windows onto the cobbled grounds.
Carter Black stood silently beside his black stallion, observing without judgment or comment. He held himself rigid and tense, his eyes darting around him. It was here. He knew it. Wind blew roughly against him, his hair falling over his eyes and obscuring his vision. Still he hadn’t moved. He held himself rigid like a bow prepared to shoot, each sound louder, each smell amplified, and each object clearer.
He sighed when moments passed without incident. His black stallion neighed in impatience, moving slightly; his hoofs sounding on the cobbled ground. Carter ran a gloved hand down his stallion’s neck, easing some of the tension out of the horse’s body. He looked up at the dark sky, bright stars shone down at him, he imagined his brother up there, staring down at him. What happened, Rowel? He asked himself silently.
“We’re sorry to inform you, Mr. Black, but in the line of Duty, Senior Officer Rowel has perished. He was slain by a vampire.”
Carter clenched his hand in a fist; his brother hadn’t deserved the fate that was bestowed upon him. His brother had stood for everything that was good, he protected and served his people with a faith so strong, and Carter had even believed him. He shook his head that faith was gone – all he knew now was revenge. He would avenge his brother’s unrightful death.
The only clue he had to go one was St. Jordan’s Briton’s Chapel, located in this very town. Rowel Black, his bigger brother – slain by a creature he believed to be a myth. Carter closed his eyes, the sorrow swamping him and nearly drowning him. His brother’s last moments were spent in this town; it seemed so sad and depressing.
“Psst,” sounded from behind Carter.
Carter whirled around and drew his sword in a split second; he glared at the shadowy figure a few feet from him. “You have two seconds to explain yourself.”
The figure only laughed, it was male – or so he thought. “You don’t frighten me boy,” sounded the figure softly. “You have a lot of nerve being out here at night alone.”
Carter arched a brow, his voice came out raspy as he spoke, “and why is that?”
“You don’t know?” Cackled the hooded figure, “There are e-evil things about at this time of night. Especially in this town.”
“Sure there is,” Carter’s voice dripped with sarcasm, “just what are these evil things you speak of?”
The figure tilted its head, studying the male before him. “You are related to that Officer that perished a few weeks ago.”
Carter tensed instantly. “What do you know of my brother’s death? Are you connected to his murder?”
The figured laughed softly, “Murder you say.” It shook its head. “It was for revenge, young man.”
“The hell it was,” he spat out. “My brother was murdered by a filthy blood sucking creature. One that deserves to die.”
“Do you even know what your blood was actually doing?” The figure lifted its arm and revealed a bony, thin hand. In the hand lay a rolled up piece of paper. “Would you care to know?”
“I know what my brother was doing.” Carter growled angrily, this man, woman, creature dared to take his brother’s name in vain. “I will kill you if you so much as dishonor Rowel Black’s name.”
“I do not fear you,” the figure said softly. “For I am not of this world, anymore. Your blood made sure of that.” Carter squinted his eyes suspiciously. “I am warning you to leave well enough alone. This will be your death as well if you meddle in affairs that are best left alone in the first place.”
“I will find the vampire responsible for my brother’s death, at all costs.” The figure seemed to slump, defeated. “Do you know which vampire I speak of?”
“Boy, you are meddling with an affair that even your blood, Demon Hunter and Vampire Slayer could not deal with.”
“No,” Carter growled out, “my brother was not a Demon Hunter or a Vampire Slayer. He was a respected Officer of the Governor.”
The figure shook its head slowly, “you have asked for your death.”
“That he has,” a female voice sounded from behind Carter. He flinched and aimed to turn around, the female chuckled softly, “if you turn around, you are dead.”
“Who are you?” he asked through clenched teeth. “And what do you want with me?” Carter felt a soft breeze pass over his neck, making him shudder. A chill ran up his spine as a small feminine hand landed on his shoulder.
“To know what you’re doing in my town,” whispered the female’s voice. “And I am that filthy blood sucking creature that killed the pathetic excuse of a human, Rowel Black. I am Queen Xenia.”
“You murdered my brother.”
“Drop the sword,” when Carter complied, Xenia relaxed and walked around to face Carter. He stared down at her with hate and hurt. Curious, she thought.
He was tall for a human, roughly six foot three, with wide broad shoulders. She tilted her head and studied his face in the dim light. He had a narrow face, with wide eyebrows that were dark black, his hair was black and nearly touching his shoulders. His eyes were shaped as almonds, set under his dark eyebrows, with piercing blue eyes. Xenia sighed, what a bummer, he had to be human.
“Why haven’t you killed me yet?” He asked curiously.
“I’m debating on that.” She said slyly. “Hmm,” she said softly, “let me take a guess: you want to kill me because you think I murdered your brother. Am I right?”
“You did, didn’t you?”
She laughed, “I killed him; yes I did. But he deserved every bit of pain I inflicted on him for what he did.”
“And what did he do?”
“Aren’t you a brave little human?” Xenia chuckled, “You want to know? We talk back at the mansion, the sun is coming up soon and I don’t feel like getting a tan right now.”
“How can I trust you?” he asked gruffly. “How can I be sure you won’t kill me before I get anywhere near your mansion?”
Xenia looked up at the black sky; her mind conjured up images she wished to be rid of. Would she kill this Carter Black? In time she would know whether she would or not. She returned her gaze to the human standing before her, “For the moment, I will not lay a hand on you.”
Carter went silent, he listened to instincts, when no warning bells went off he sighed. “Very well, but know I do not trust you.”
The vampire smiled, revealing a set of long fangs, “nor do I.” She turned and looked at the hooded figure; it seemed to shrink unto itself. She spoke to it in a soft and delicate voice; the words were in another language, one he could not understand, though they sounded lovely to his ears. The figure disappeared, right before his very eyes. The vampire turned back to him, a calculating look in her eyes. “If you’ll follow me.”