Good night, good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow,
that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
The day had passed ever so slowly. Xenia hated to admit that she had lain awake for hours, counting the seconds as they ticked by mercilessly. From instinct and habit, she knew the sun would be setting very shortly. She sighed as she leaned on her thighs. It was the same every night. She would lie in bed for hours, trying to sleep, but she was always tortured with the scenes from the past.
She tilted her head and looked towards the huge wardrobe that held all her fancy gowns. She hadn’t worn one since the night Edward was murdered. What was the point? She no longer held the fancy balls, never had anyone of import visiting. Her father hadn’t even bothered to visit since the attack. He claimed it was “too dangerous” for him.
Xenia pushed off the bed and walked towards the wardrobe. Her dark red silk gown swished around her ankles, feeling cool and soft. She stopped before the wardrobe and crossed her arms over her chest to ward off the chill that suddenly crawled its way up her spine. It was here, in this very spot, where Edward had forbidden her from following him.
“But Edward, I am your Queen, I should be there!”
He had looked at her, his handsome features seemingly dark and grim. “No, Xenia.” He had picked his sword up, though he hadn’t used it in years, he still carried it as a sign of power and respect. “You must stay here in case things get violent.”
“That’s more the reason for me to be there!” she’d balked in horror. “What if you-”
“I won’t have it!” Edward had turned towards her, a furious look in his eyes. “I swore to our High King that I would protect you, not drag you with me to hell!”
Xenia had stepped back from him, her hand on her chest. In all the centuries they had been married, she had never seen him look so angry. “Please, Edward…”
“Enough!” he’d roared.
“I have experience! I know how to fight!” She stepped towards him, “please don’t leave me here… what if something happens?”
Edward reached up and cupped her face in his hands, his grey eyes were piercing and looked very sad. “Promise me, Xenia, that you won’t do anything foolish. I couldn’t live with myself.” She felt his thumbs stroking against her skin, “I’m just giving a peace talk. Nothing will happen…”
Nothing will happen, he’d said. Nothing. Xenia abruptly turned away from the wardrobe and walked away from it. Something had happened alright. She stopped at one of the windows and gently pulled the drapery away from it. The stars twinkled in the sky and the moon was full and bright. She looked down at the town center and remembered the chilling moment when her husband was murdered.
She had been standing in this very spot, watching with nervousness and a feeling of dread as Edward gave his speech. The humans had been rallying to whatever he was saying. She had thought all would turn out well, but then a new comer had come onto the scene.
The man was dressed in black plated armor, his face hidden beneath a heavy helmet. There was a battalion of men, dressed similarly, walking behind him in rows of two. Something had seemed off. The townsfolk had split apart, like the Red Sea, letting them pass without a fight. Even from a distance, Xenia could tell that the vampire civilians were nervous. The humans had seemed… indifferent.
Words had been exchanged, angry ones if Edwards’s expression was anything to go by. She had barely had a chance to process what was happening, when the man in armor drew his sword and gutted Edward, right there by the fountain. She distinctly remembered herself screaming in denial, but the sound hadn’t penetrated her brain. All she had heard was white noise and her own blood pounding in her ears. If it hadn’t been for her servants, she would have ran to the town center, and… she didn’t know what she would have done. Something stupid, probably.
It was by sheer luck that had managed to hide from the men. They had stormed the mansion, in search of any other vampires, but all they had found were her human servants that were loyal to her. Through the night, she had hidden in a crawl space within the mansion. And, with a disgusted thought, she had been safe, while her civilians had been brutally murdered. By the next night, the only evidence left was all the ash piles. She had walked among the houses and cried in regret. She hadn’t known what true agony was until that very night.
Xenia let the drapery fall back into place, trying to ignore the thoughts and memories jumping around her head. She knew now that Edward had done the right thing. She had been emotional and it would have gotten her killed. It didn’t help lessen the guilt though.
There was a sudden knock on her door, drawing her attention to it. After a brief pause, one of her human servants opened the door and bowed to her. “Your Highness, you have a visitor.”
Xenia arched a brow, “the human?”
The servant shook her head, “No, Your Highness, it is your sister.”
“Send her in,” the servant turned to leave, but Xenia stopped her.
“Yes, Your Highness?” the servant had asked in a frightened voice.
“Thank you,” she smiled, drawing an astonished look from the servant.
A few minutes later, a younger version of Xenia flounced into the room with a cheerful step. “Good morning, sister!”
Xara was her baby sister and when she said baby sister, she meant it. Xara was barely fifty years old, whereas Xenia was nearing her four hundredth birthday. “Good evening, Xara.”
Xara was a few inches shorter than herself, with short black hair. Xenia was always floored by how big her sister had become. Living so far apart from each other hadn’t allowed for them to really get to know one another, and being the Queen of these lands had always put a wedge between them. Xara had been given the freedom of growing up freely, experiencing life as it was meant to. Xenia tried to remember a time when she had been allowed to just be herself and failed miserably.
“What brings you here, Xara?”
Her sister smiled at her and tilted her head, looking too much like a puppy that it was adorable. “A couple of things, actually.” She giggled when Xenia frowned, “Oh, stop being so uptight.”
“I don’t have the time to act foolish, Xara.” Xenia crossed her arms over her chest, “Get to the point.”
“Party pooper,” she stuck her tongue out, drawing Xenia’s gaze to her mouth. Xara laughed when her sister’s eyes widened. “Yes, it finally happened!”
“When?” She couldn’t help how she sounded so lost, her baby sister was a New Blood, a newly born vampire.
New Bloods were considered “babies” among vampires because of their newfound need for blood. When a vampire was born, they didn’t need blood right off the bat. It could take years until they grew fangs and their need for blood kicked in. Xara was late by most standards, but seeing her with her fangs made her feel old, very old.
“Just a few weeks ago!” Her sister swung around in a small joyful dance. “Mom was so proud of me!”
Xenia ignored the hollow feeling when she heard the word “mom”. Xara and Xenia had been raised separately, her sister had been raised among the “common vampires” and Xenia had been raised among the “Royal Vampires”. She was happy that her sister had always had a mother, but she couldn’t be happy when she thought of hers. She had never known her mother, all she knew about her mother was that she was a Demon and had disappeared right after she was born.
With a dark voice, Xenia asked the one question she needed an answer to. “And how did Father take it?”
Xara frowned, drawing her pretty features into a grim look. “He only nodded at me,” her voice sounded small and alone.
She knew how she felt. Their father was the High King to the vampric society, he was a cruel and cold being, never showing love or kindness. He thought such feelings were useless and that he was above them. Over the years she had grown used to him, but her baby sister was sensitive and took things to heart. “It’s the way he is, Xara, don’t take it personal. You know how Father is.”
“Yes,” she sighed. “Anyway, onto more important matters.” And like that, her sister smiled, forgetting the whole thing. “The council is curious about you.”
Xenia rolled her eyes, “the only thing their curious about is whether I’m going to marry one of them to elevate them to the position of King.”
“You always think the worst of everyone!” Xara giggled, “You’re too serious. Sometimes it’s nice to just kick back and relax!”
“Xara, when you get to my age, you’ll understand exactly why I am the way I am.” Xenia shook her head when her sister opened her mouth to argue, “Don’t bother arguing. You are a child in my eyes still, and you’ve barely experienced what life has to offer you.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll just tell them what I told them last time.” Xara made a humming noise, “curious question. Who’s the eye candy downstairs?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You know, the hulky, handsome human male walking about in the foyer?”
Xenia made a groaning noise, “he’s still here?” Her sister nodded eagerly. “He’s the brother of one of the hunter’s I killed a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, my goodness! Courting danger much, sister?” Xara frowned, “but he doesn’t look that old.”
“He’s in his later 20’s.”
“How can you tell? Did he tell you?”
“No, Xara, he didn’t.” Xara frowned questioningly. “As you get older your senses will sharpen. I can smell his age, his blood gives off a very sweet, and subtle floral scent. It gets stronger as humans age. And each smell is unique to each human.”
“Cool!” There in an instant was the look of sadness. “I’ll have to inform the Council that you have a non-employed human on the grounds…”
Xenia tilted her head, her eyes taking on a hard look. “I understand, Xara. He won’t be here long enough for the council to act though. He’s here for answers, and I’m sure he’ll leave as soon as he’s got them.” She thinned her lips out, “or I kill him. Either outcome is favourable to the Council.”
“Well… I’d love to stay and chat, but I have more messages to deliver.” Her sister rushed up to her and grabbed her in a delicate hug, freezing Xenia on the spot. “Take care of yourself, and by God, don’t break any laws! Father would be furious!”
“I’m not going to, Xara. Take care of yourself.”
But even after Xara had gone, a feeling of dread and numbness spread leaving Xenia cautious and unsure. Whatever was on the horizon was coming and it was coming fast. Her destiny was still being unfolded.