Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie--
A closet never pierced with crystal eyes--
But the defendant doth that plea deny
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To 'cide this title is impanneled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eye's moiety and the dear heart's part:
As thus; mine eye's due is thy outward part,
And my heart's right thy inward love of heart.
“This is it,” Xenia announced. “It’s not spectacular, but it does its job. Come along; let my servants take care of your stallion.” She opened the giant doors that led into the gothic mansion, the interior was dark, the windows covered by heavy drapery. She listened as the human behind her shuffled alongside her, ever weary; smart human. “Are you hungry?”
“Relax, human. I’m not about to offer you blood. Are you hungry or thirsty?”
“Sure,” Carter answered, baffled. “This place is huge. How many… live here?”
Xenia felt a stab of pain in her chest. What was the question? How many live here? She sighed and stopped to face him. She eyed him curiously; when she spoke it was with a dark and pained voice. “I am the last of my kind in this town.” She cleared her throat, attempting to hide the tears that wanted to break free. “My kind has been hunted since the dawn of mankind because we are different. Come; let us go to the dining room.”
The “dining room” was what most would expect and then some. There was a huge round table with at least fifteen chairs positioned around it, a black candle sat in the middle of the table with nightshade surrounding it. Xenia walked casually to the front of the table and motioned for Carter to sit down. He complied without a word. She sat down beside him and turned to him, her eyes were vacant and blank. “What do you wish to know?”
“Why did you kill my brother?”
“He killed my King, my husband.” She paused and blinked, “he was also responsible for the murder of over a thousand vampire families. If I could do it again, I would kill him again. He declared that he was purging the world of evil, but little did he know he was a murderer.”
Carter drew his brows low over his eyes. “Don’t vampires drink the blood of humans?”
Xenia sighed; there was no point in hiding it. “Sometimes we do. But never, never without the consent of the human; there have been times when a vampire has let their bloodlust go for so long that when they did get the consent of a human, they drained them dry. Needless to say, a human’s blood is the last resort for us.”
“And do you drink human blood?”
The vampire looked away from him, instead choosing the flowers arranged around the candle to stare at. “I do not. I refuse to because… I am a Princess by birth and Queen by marriage. I will forevermore live without blood, until a time comes when a King is crowned again.”
Carter stared at her, she looked… lost. There wasn’t an ounce of the strength he had seen when she threatened to kill him. Instead she looked… almost human. Sitting across from her, he felt like she could very well be one of his kind, not a monster from myths and legends. Could humans really have twisted the truth so much so that they feared what they didn’t understand?
“I just don’t understand,” she said suddenly, drawing a frown from him. “Why must humans hate and fear what is different from them?” Xenia glared through a sheer layer of tears, “we allowed you humans to move into our town, to live amongst us, and what did we get in return?” She waited for his answer, but he gave none. What could he say? “Humans grew fearful, stupid, and ignorant. I asked nothing of them, yet they turned on us as soon as your foolish brother came here and claimed we were the spawns of Satan.”
An oppressive silence took over, Xenia sat in her chair, her back straight, as if she must keep her poise perfect. But he hadn’t missed the look of complete misery and hate that flashed in her eyes when she looked at him. Whatever their differences, he could understand where she was coming from. To lose everything that meant so much to one could destroy a person.
Just then, a servant walked into the dining room, carrying a tray of tea and several small dishes of food. The servant placed them on the table, bowed to her Queen, and retreated back to safety. Xenia picked the teapot up and gracefully poured two cups of tea for them, she passed his cup to him, and took hers. He watched as she daintily sipped on her tea, looking ever the Queen that she claimed to be. She had an air of sophistication about her, an air of Royalty, yet he also sensed her sadness and loneliness. She had mentioned that her husband had been killed along with all the other vampires.
“If you don’t mind my asking,” Carter started softly, cautiously, “why was your husband killed?”
She gave him a look that implied she thought he was stupid. “He was on the front lines, trying to calm the humans down.” She cast him a look of anger, “and your brother ran him through as he was giving a speech. Tell me, human, what honor is there when a man whom protected innocent lives, gets run through with a sword, while giving a peace talk?” She carefully set her tea cup down and stood. “When you figure out that answer, come find me tomorrow evening. I am retiring for the night.”
He watched as she walked out of the dining room, her back rigid, and her shoulders tense. He told himself that his brother did the right thing. Surely his brother hadn’t been such an evil man to brutally murder innocent beings… even if they were vampires. Could she have been telling the truth, or was she just trying to instill disbelief within himself so he would forgive the vampires, and her specifically?
Shaking his head, he sighed, and looked at the platters of food. He had no idea what they were, but they smelled delicious. He selected a dish that was obviously beef, but whatever else was in the dish was a mystery. As he ate, Xenia’s words bounced around his head, “innocent lives,” “peace talk,” “protect”. What if, by some small degree, she was right? What if the humans had acted foolish, and out of fear, killed thousands of innocent lives? The thought left him queasy, driving away what little appetite he had worked up.
Carter gently pushed the plate away from him, no longer wanting the smell or sight of it near him. He stood and walked towards the huge windows in the room. The windows overlooked the small town below, most of the cottage windows were now lit up, marking the passing of time. People would be getting up very soon to start their days. Farmers were setting off to tend to their land and livestock. Merchants would be eating breakfast at this time. Children would be getting ready to trek to school.
As he looked at the town, he felt a strong sense of sadness for the female that had lost everything that meant so much to her. She was an admitted vampire, but she hadn’t seemed violent. At least not in the sense of the myths and legends that surrounded her people. Among all the legends and myths, the one thing they had in common was that the vampires hunted humans mercilessly, feeding off of the innocent, and not caring whom they hurt.
He cast a look towards the door the vampire had left out of and felt torn. As a human he should have stood by his race without any hesitation, but how could he? If even a fraction of what she said was true, didn’t that make his race the monsters? He closed his eyes and wanted to hit something. Anything.
What if the big brother that he had idolized all his life had indeed been a monster? What if everything he had been taught all his life had been a lie? Could he live with himself, knowing that his race was responsible for the brutal murders of the innocent?