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Chapter 4 : Chapter Three.
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Once upon a time...
That was how Katrina’s father always started the story, even if it wasn’t a fairy tale.
There was a young man who resided as a Creature of the Night. He was misunderstood, he knew, and he also knew that would never change. He couldn’t even get a job because of who, no what, he was. He couldn’t hide it from anyone for very long. It was too easy for the Wizards; all they had to do was offer him the day shift and have him stubbornly refuse to figure it out. Even if they didn’t ask him to work when the sun was out, they’d figure it out eventually with a simple magical background check. This young man’s name was Pollock Serrano, and he was a genius.
The first time Katrina had heard that part, she’d barely contained rolling her eyes at her father. And yet, it had never failed to make her laugh as he retold it again and again. But of course, those were the better times of their relationship, before it had become so marred by him wanting to ‘protect’ her, and her wanting to rebel against that protection.
He was destined for greater work than some dishwasher at the local pub in the great city of London, a place from the past, her father had always said. It was the place his genius was born, but it never became realized until one fateful night. It had been a particularly hard night at the pub, one that made him consider the gruelling work of finding another job, when it had happened. His best friend, Henry, was across the street, walking with what looked to be a beautiful girl, and he didn’t like the look Henry was casting toward the unfortunate girl’s neck. It was true, they needed to feed, but on a human girl like that? Was Henry suicidal? If he was spotted by anyone else even in the girl’s company before she inevitably turned up dead, Henry would burn, whether her death was intentional or not.
He tried to reason with his friend, but Henry wasn’t having any of it, and Pollock left defeated. But, he would soon know that it had all been for the better anyway. He didn’t know it at the time, but the girl Henry brought home with him would be the start of his success story. Henry had come to his house later that night, begging for Pollock’s help, mumbling that he hadn’t meant to do it, that he was just so hungry, and Pollock ran quickly to help his best mate out. He’d accidentally killed the girl, having been without human blood for so long, and he needed to dispose of the body. They did so quickly and as silently as possible, and they lit a match within the room to make sure no evidence survived. Unfortunately, Henry would later be convicted anyway, because, unbeknownst to the pair of them, they’d forgotten one crucial detail: they hadn’t made sure the girl wasn’t ever coming back.
It had been later that week, at around two in the morning when the girl had showed up on his back door, begging for help, covered in blood. He had helped her adjust to becoming a vampire, and, with that change, he also made his greatest discovery: she’d been a witch, and now, as a vampire, she’d lost every single one of her magical powers she’d had before Henry had killed her. He began experimenting with various witches and wizard from around the streets of London, wondering how much it took for them to lose all their magic. Turned out all that was really needed was a single bite. It was like with the breaking of skin, the magic was sucked out and it disappeared, never to be found again.
And that’s how the War started. He’d started slowly, recruiting only those he knew he could trust, and then suddenly began to build his forces as the impact of his message rang throughout the ranks of vampires everywhere. The bloodshed was regrettable, but it was for the common good, Pollock knew. They targeted the most powerful witches and wizards first, eradicating them so they could not fight back and slowly but surely took over completely. The rest went into hiding while the humans bowed down to them, and thus began the reign of Pollock Serrano: King of the Vampires.
Katrina awoke with a start, desperately trying to grab on to the remaining bit of her dream that she spent in the company of her father. Panicked at the darkness outside, as the last memory she had was of the cloudy daylight, her fangs shot out, and she vaguely heard someone say, “Whoa, easy there Tiger!”, before she remembered. She’d been captured by the Enemy. She didn’t know why they hadn’t killed her yet, but she knew it couldn’t be good that she was still alive. She had to warn her father and tell him he was walking into a trap. She had to... then her world spun and she sank to the cold earth again, imprisoned in the cage they’d managed to create with the magic they had left, and the world went black. Katrina didn’t even wake up when they dragged in the unconscious boy just mere hours later next to her.
“You can’t honestly be serious, Delilah,” a female voice from outside Katrina’s cage hissed. “He’ll surely die left in there with one of them! You have to get him out before the monster wakes up!”
“We don’t have enough magic to create two separate cages, Carmen! And if we let him out, who knows who he is or what he wants? We’ll just have to wait until they’re both awake at the same time.”
“And if she gets out of control, Delilah?”
“I… I don’t know, alright? I just know that finding the vampire and finding the human within three days of each other can’t be a coincidence! And we can’t afford to take a risk! We still haven’t recovered from last time.”
“Just don’t forget who you are, Delilah. We’re supposed to be protecting them.”
“Says the one who took one look at the guy and knocked him out.”
“That was to protect us. Housing him with that monster is going far beyond that. It’s simply cruel.”
Katrina shook the grogginess from her vision as best as she could, trying to see who the two women talking were. Her mouth felt insanely dry, like she hadn’t had anything to drink in days. Then again, she supposed that was accurate. Who knew how long she’d been locked up in here? A horrifying thought came to her then— how long could she last without blood? She’d never had to think about it before, living the palace, having feeders around constantly, but now it was something she had to face. She doubted her captors would stoop so low to feed something they considered a monster.
Her entire body ached just thinking about it, but she knew it would do her no good to dwell on it. If she succumbed to being the exact thing they believed she was, she’d never get out of here. She needed to get out of here. She’d never taken her father and sister’s warnings to heart—she’d never believed there would actually be people in the world trying to harm her. Of course there had been an Enemy, but she’d never thought they could have touched her.
They never would have, either, if she hadn’t been so stupid. What had she been thinking? She’d been so angry after what Silver had said to her, but in reality, it wasn’t as if she hadn’t heard it all before. It was no secret to Katrina that Silver openly despised her, but still sometimes she had a hard time believing it. They were supposed to be sisters, even if they weren’t related by blood at all. And as much as Katrina tried, she never could figure out why it was her supposed sister hated her so much.
Her eyes had adjusted fairly quickly to the darkness, it was, after all, the best lighting for one of her kind, and she turned her focus stealthily towards the companion the two women had been talking about. Now that she had her wits about her, she could smell him. Katrina couldn’t remember the last time she had wanted anything as badly as she wanted to feed on the human before her. Her fangs extended and she knew she had little time before she acted on her hunger. She hissed, unsure of what she should do as her sense of morality, whatever she had left, and her insatiable need to feed conflicted. Finally, unbidden, a picture of her mother came to her and she calmed. She could hear her mother’s words as clearly as if she were in the cage with Katrina.
“Darling, it is always in our best interests to control our urges in life. It may not be easy, but it will always, always be worth it in the end.” Each time her mother said these words to Katrina, she had a faraway look in her eyes and became troubled, this reaction strange in Katrina’s mind, but she never questioned her mother.
Rocking herself back and forth and clenching her fists to keep herself from losing the calm her mother’s words had bestowed upon her until her hunger no longer controlled her; Katrina began to get a peace of mind once more. Then, with her adjusted vision, she studied the unfortunate human who would never know how close he had come to being murdered at her hand. She scoffed at herself. What kind of princess gave into desires like this? Without humans to serve under the vampires, she would not be a princess, which is why they rarely killed their prey. That was what her father had told her, anyway. Vampires depended on the humans for food. The humans might not know how much power they held over vampires in this way, but this was the raw truth. Katrina prayed they would never find out, or surely there would be blood shed by all.
Katrina dared to look again at the boy, having overcome the worst of her desires to feed. What she noticed about him wasn’t his features; to her he simply looked as all other humans looked. She never made distinctions based on outward appearance. It was more than that. She could sense a strength and yet also a major vulnerability in him when he was out cold. She could sense he had a tragic past, but then, she knew nothing about that.
She retreated silently and slowly into a corner, away from the boy, away from the Enemy, knowing her only hope now was to wait and pray her father and his men found her soon. She could already feel the effects of not having blood for this long and she knew she wouldn’t survive much longer without it. She made a promise then and there that if she were ever to get out of this mess, she’d convince her father finally to let her taking the self-defence classes she’d been begging for. Maybe after this, assuming she got out alive, he’d see that’s exactly what she needed this whole time.
Ben woke with a start, lifting his head from the dirt floor he’d been sleeping somewhat peacefully just moments before. His dream hadn’t turned into a nightmare until it was ending, but that’s how it always was. Every time he dreamed, all he could remember about it was the end—usually either with the death of his mother or father. He felt dizzy after sitting up so fast, his eyes not adjusting as well to the darkness of the place he was in. When he felt around and tried to remember where he was, it all came rushing back to him. The vampire elite guards, Zane Vondran, the rebellion’s army, and the tough woman he’d spoken to who had punched him in the face, knocking him out, all made their way back into the forefront of his mind and he began to panic.
He shuffled around his surroundings, begging his eyes to adjust fast, but when he moved from the spot he’d obviously been thrown in when out cold, he noticed a dull hum and buzzing near to him. When he got closer, he realised the entire area he was in was surrounded by pure energy. He didn’t dare get too close, for he knew what the consequences would be if he did. He’d get fried more quickly than an ant in the sun with a magnifying glass and he wouldn’t even have a second to yell out before it’d be over. It was some serious magic and he knew it was a last defence for any group of witches or wizards as it completely drained their energy and magical properties for a good few days. He wondered if they were still recovering and how much time had passed since he’d seen the army. It felt only like it had been yesterday, but by touching his face where he’d been hit, he knew it had been much longer. It wasn’t as tender as it would have been the morning after but it still hurt badly. If he’d had to guess, it had been two or three days since he’d arrived at the campsite.
He wondered if it was any use trying to talk to any of them now. He knew he hadn’t explained anything clearly when he’d run frantically up after finding him and he honestly didn’t blame the woman for knocking him out, but the energy force field was a bit much. After all, he was sure they’d have tested him to see whether he was human or vampire, and there were no signs to him being a vampire. Ben thought about calling out to let them know he was awake, but decided against it at the last minute. He should wait to see if he heard anything first, then decide on what to do, otherwise he might make a mistake he couldn’t ever take back.
As he crawled towards a safe distance from the energy field but close enough that he might be able to catch some of what the rebellion was saying, he noticed his eyes adjusting finally to the darkness combined with the steady light coming off the energy cage, and he spotted something he’d missed before. There was someone inside the cave with him.
It seemed like ages had passed between the time he’d thought he was the number one enemy of the rebellion army and realising there was someone else inside the energy prison with him. He didn’t know who it was, but he suddenly knew that whoever it was, that was the reason he was being kept under such scrutiny, not because he was considered dangerous, but whoever else was here with him was.
Suddenly, every inhibition to be cautious and careful fled him as an overwhelming desire of needing to find out who else was so important overcame his senses. It cleared him of all reason, and before he knew it, he was moving towards the other body in the opposite corner of the room.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, boy,” someone said, and Ben jumped, nearly cursing out loud. There went the plan of pretending to be asleep and overhearing plans, though with the revelation of a new person in his cell, he’d had more of a lead as to why he was here than before.
He turned his head towards the source of the voice, but the light from the energy line made it impossible to make out more than just a shadow.
“What do you mean? Who is it?” he rasped out. His voice box had been damaged from the disuse of it for the amount of time he’d been locked up and unconscious and it was the best he could get out until he’d made more use of it.
“Don’t pretend you don’t already know,” the man’s voice called out. “Weren’t you the one who ran up to our camp and told us to release whoever it was we’d captured or we’d be sorry?”
Ben didn’t remember it going exactly like that, but he did recall something along those lines. It had been the only thing that had made sense. Either the rebellion had captured someone important or a wanted prisoner had somehow escaped from the vampire’s holding cell. Ben couldn’t think of anyone who’d warrant such a search party unless it was perhaps the leader of the rebellion, but nobody knew who that was, and if they’d been captured, the whole realm would have heard of it. It’d have been used as a tactic to scare and repress hope from the villagers, and the vampires would not have held that information back, thus it had to be someone the rebellion had captured. Still Ben could not make sense of why Zane Vondran had been with them. His head felt fuzzy, and he realised the guard beyond his prison cell was still waiting for an answer. They really needn’t have posted a guard, there was no way he had enough magic to free himself from a combined effort such as the one the resistance had put together.
“I didn’t actually know you were holding anyone hostage here,” Ben got out through his dry throat. He wished for water more than anything at that moment. “It was just a lucky guess.”
The man outside his cell laughed but offered no new information. It seemed he was done talking. Yet Ben had just one more question to ask him.
“Why don’t I want to go near it?” he asked the man, hoping for a response.
“It’s one of them,” came the response, and then all was silent once more.
The evident disgust coated around the word ‘them’ gave Ben a pretty good idea of who was in here in the cage with him, but he didn’t want to accept it. Surely they wouldn’t have locked him up with a monster—an animal who would tear his throat out as soon as it came to and realised there was blood available and he could do nothing to prevent it from happening.
A sheer panic gripped him with the news and he scrambled away as fast as he could.
“Why would you lock me up with that thing?” he hissed.
“Just in case you were working with it, boy. It was rather convenient you knew we had someone in our custody, after all. And a scarce three days after it had happened, too! It was too big a coincidence to ignore.”
“But… but I’m human. Surely you know it will rip me to shreds whether I was working for it or not as soon as it wakes and smells blood! I thought you were supposed to be protectors of the human race, not destroyers of it!” Ben responded desperately.
“We are. And you’ll have your chance to prove your innocence once the ones in charge get back from a rallying meeting to talk with you, but until then, you’d best hope it doesn’t wake.”
Ben couldn’t remember a time when he’d been more frightened for his own life. He hadn’t been in this kind of danger since his parents had died. He prayed to whatever powers there were that he’d miraculously survive this and convince the rebellion to free him from this certain death.
Ben had fallen asleep again shortly after the conversation with the guard, but forgot nothing. He’d been surprised to fall asleep at all and had been bracing himself against it, for he knew he might not wake up ever again if the monster woke before he did. He knew it was because of his hunger, it had made him weak—unable to keep his energy levels very high, and he wondered when he would be fed.
As if he’d made a wish to some sort of genie, a plate appeared before his very eyes, slid under the small gap in the energy field. He lumbered towards it and saw that it was actual food, not simple bread and water, though he was famished enough that something as simple as bread and water would have looked like fine dining to him. There was meat, though Ben wondered where that came from, as most animals were extinct now in the forest nearby, but he didn’t question it. Along with the meat, he found some sort of stew and some water.
Suddenly, a movement out of the corner of his eye attracted his attention. It was the vampire, he knew, but he was consumed with an intense sense of curiosity and needed to know who the rebellion had captured.
When his eyes adjusted to that area of darkness, he could barely make out the features of the creature inside the cell with him. Panic pulsed through his veins, and yet he knew somehow he’d have already been dead if the vampire had wanted to feed off of him. As long as it had probably been in captivity, there would have been no way for it to stop feeding before it killed him, even if the after-effects didn’t. When he tried to look for more helpful details, he stopped short.
The vampire was a girl.
Ben had always been told to protect women before himself, but he wasn’t sure his father would have considered this monster worth protecting. Yet for some reason, his upbringing still rang true within him. He knew he would never actually hear his father’s voice again, but it rang through to him now that it did matter, even if she was a vampire. He wondered if a vampire cared about honour, but he didn’t think it mattered. The simple fact that she had probably been human at one time and that she was a lady was enough for him. Without thinking, he pushed his plate towards her, ignoring his screaming insides that he was sure to get himself killed this way.
“Would you like any?” he asked. “I’m sure you’ve been in here much longer than I have and I’m certain you’re probably quite hungry.”
He nearly smacked himself on the forehead for that comment. Of course she was hungry, and he, a living, breathing; red-blooded human being had just mentioned her need to feed to her. Was he just wishing to die?
So great was his inner turmoil that he didn’t realise for a few minutes that the vampire hadn’t responded. He looked more closely at her and saw that she wasn’t even looking at him, but rather staring at the floor of the cave intently. He wondered if she was trying to decide whether to make him lunch instead. Then he remembered another thing that he hadn’t thought of before—vampires couldn’t use real food as a sustenance. They could still taste real food and he heard that some of the royals still sat down to feasts just to have a façade of being able to be satisfied by actual food again, but they still had to feed. Even if they’d eaten a six-course meal, if they didn’t get blood, they’d still be just as hungry as before they’d sat down to eat.
“I’m sorry, I forgot… you know… that human food doesn’t exactly, er, do it for you,” he said softly. She still didn’t respond to his words, and he wished there was more light so he could read her face. Perhaps that would tell him if she planned to attack him or not. He had always been pretty decent at telling how someone was feeling by looking at the emotions they displayed on their face, though he’d never actually tried it on a vampire before. He’d have killed one before he ever let it get that close.
He’d almost accepted death when he realised the girl had closed her eyes and he assumed she was asleep again. He didn’t understand. How could she restrain herself from going after him if she’d really been that hungry? He ate the food of the plate in silence, contemplating this, thinking about who this vampire was that she could control her most basic desire to feed.
Katrina knew the only way the boy would leave her alone was if she feigned sleep. She actually would not let herself fall asleep again for fear that she would never again waken from the lack of sustenance. She hadn’t fed since the day she’d run away from the palace and she didn’t pretend to have hope that the ones who had captured her would give her blood when she knew they thought her only a creature of darkness, incapable of having actual needs.
It had been foolish of the boy to talk to her. What had he been thinking? She could read it in his face that he had regretted mentioning food to her, so at least he had some sort of sense. Still, she could not look at him and ignore what her body was demanding of her, much as she tried. The only way was to block him out completely—and it was going to take all the energy she still possessed. If she didn’t, however, and she killed the boy, she too would die at the hand of the rebellion army. Although they’d thrown this mysterious boy in her prison cell, she was sure if she were to feed off him, she’d be labelled as too great a threat to keep alive any longer. It was simply a no-win situation, but her mother’s words cemented her decision. If she died, which was what she knew would happen; she would die from lack of food, not because she was not able to control her urges.
The rebellion army wouldn’t understand her needs. They were humans after all. Her father had told her once that humans were very compassionate, sometimes to a fault, but when they looked at her kind all they saw was blood. He said it was a necessary thing that that was what they saw for it kept them fearful of the vampires which kept her kind in control. If things ever returned to the way they were before her father had gained control, her kind would surely be wiped out.
She used to wish there was some magical way her kind and the humans could live together in relative peace, but she knew now that the very idea was impossible. The differences were too great and both species thought the other had committed irreparable and horrendous crimes against them. The vampires never forgot the disdain from before her father’s reign, the stories having been passed to all new vampires since that time, but she also knew humans could never truly trust vampires what with their basic need to drink blood in the way of a utopian society.
Ever since she could remember, except those small flashes of memories she sometimes dreamed of, it had been this way and she knew that unless something turned the tides, it would always remain this way. She was comfortable and yet why did she feel such a sense of loss at the life she lived? She’d always pushed it aside or as far away from her mind as possible—after all, what good was it to dwell on things she couldn’t control, but now that she might die, she figured she might as well think of such things.
The question remaining in her mind as she fought to keep herself going was the one that’d always circled around for over two hundred years: who was right?
A/N: As always, the premise for this world belongs to JKR! I only own my plot and original characters! :) Thank you for reading, and leave a review if you feel so inclined! It always helps me improve! :D
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