Before Odessa Ch. 01byshawnsgrl22©
I rose and wiped the blood from my mouth. I looked down at the young girl, snoring peacefully on the ground. No, I thought, she'll be fine. Probably just wake up with a bad headache. I feel better, though. Fuller. With blood in my veins and belly, my primal need has been satisfied. For now. I disappear into the night; it is almost morning.
I awake later in the evening, about four. The sun is beginning to dim, and while it's not completely gone, I can withstand it. It's a common misconceptions that vampire's can't deal with any daylight, but it's not entirely true. Daylight won't kill me, only weakens me. Younger ones might perish in the full light of the sun, but not me. Not as old as I am.
I walk through the halls of my mansion. Claire, my cleaning woman, bids me good evening and I give her a charming smile. I know that she is still gazing at my muscular legs and ass, and I smirk as I continue down the hall. Good old Claire. I don't know if she knows exactly what I am, but she's compensated handsomely to keep my house clean, and she probably doesn't care.
I shower, allowing the burning hot water to warm my icy blood, then I dress appropriately. A dark grey vest over a white collared shirt, a matching tie, and black leather shoes. Only the finest. I study my fair complexion in the mirror above the sink; dark hair, pale skin. Eyes that are normally deep and dark shone a pale brown right now, since I am satisfied. I had only been in Seattle for a couple of months, and already it was a challenge to feed. The world was changing, people were becoming less and less trusting.
I made a living from my art, my books, and for a while, my talents as a lawyer. I had enjoyed my legal career, but had to write it off about 70 years ago. I had gone by the name Aaron Hawke, and everyone in southern Florida thought he died suddenly in a plane crash. Of course, the body was never found. A job simply attracted too much attention, being around the same people every day. So, for now, I lived alone and spent my time writing, sculpting and painting. I have amassed a fortune over the years and did my best to stay off the grid, off the books.
My real, first name given was Theron, which of course, means hunter. Very appropriate for what I have turned out to be, I've often though. I've had hundreds, maybe thousands of aliases throughout my life. I can't give you the exact year of my birth, since historical events have been distorted so much. The Romans were about to conquer Greece when I was born. I remember my father, and my lovely mother, but the memories in my human mind often fail me. I was with them until I reached the age of 18, before we were sold into Roman slavery. That was the last time I ever saw them. I have been back to what I believe as my birthplace, several times. I believe I even found their graves, and of course, I have seen my name on many graves. I was named after my father.
Luckily, my slavery involved educating the daughter of my new master, Galorius. His daughter, Vatia, was lovely and kind. I never felt like a slave in their home. At least, that was until Vatia and I were discovered together. My master was furious. I was brutally beaten and sent away.
I hid in the wilderness, not knowing where to go next. It was deep in the woods where I first had my encounter with a vrykolakas, or what we now know as a vampire. The word vampire had yet to be invented. Whatever the name, it was a creature of the night. His name was Nikolas, and he attacked me one night when I was sleeping. He had never meant to wake me, yet I arose from my slumber as he began to feed on me. The following struggle left me mortally wounded. Dying, I begged him not to leave me. The details are a blur, but everything after I awoke that morning is now imbedded perfectly, sharply, in my memory. There were no fangs, no chalky skin, only the feeling that somehow, I was impermeable and fearless.
Nikolas had been raised in Sparta, and his father had perished in the battle of Thermopylae. He had been turned at a younger age, and was a true hunter of the night. His power was immense, and he was intelligent, strong and loyal. I was immediately drawn to Nikolas, and he became my friend, my family, and my teacher. Over the years, he showed me how to live, how to observe, and how to stay hidden in the shadows. He taught me to sway the minds of mortals, to read their thoughts, and to feed from them without killing them.
However, it was difficult to abandon my human life so easily. I went back to see Vatia only mere months after I was changed. I showed her who I was, what I had become. I had hoped to change her, for her to be my mate. Her reaction was that of disgust and repulsion. She cursed at me, told me I was a demon, and ran from me. Nikolas and I had to flee soon after, knowing that she'd bring the wrath of the whole city on us. He tried to comfort me, but a part of me died. I wanted my humanity back, but I would never know it again. So I wrapped myself up in the world.
We went anywhere and everywhere we wished. All over Greece, Italy, Rome, and Russia. I eventually left Nikolas, and went back to Rome, after the death of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. In Rome, I found a beautiful slave, and I knew I wanted her as my mate.
Her name was Ianthe, and she was intelligent and beautiful, wise beyond her years. She knew immediately that I was different, and it made me love her all the more. I bought her, not as a slave, but as a wife. I gave her everything her heart desired, and she was loyal and faithful. When I finally showed her what I really was, she was frightened, but it was nothing like the rejection Vatia had hurt me with. The night I turned her was unforgettable; an incredible, erotic experience. I lost her a few centuries later when we were attacked by others who suspected we were not what we seemed. I tried to save her, but I can still hear her scream as she was decapitated. We are immortal, but we can be killed. Losing her was not easy, and I wanted to die afterwards.
I traveled back towards Sweden, then to England. In 1100 AD, I decided I wanted to sleep for a few centuries, and I laid down not long after King Henry I (Beauclerc) took the throne. Nikolas locked me in a tomb not far from his home, and promised to never stray too far. I slept until the 1500's, and I was amazed upon wakening. The world had changed so much, and I felt so much joy and excitement in all the discovery, that I damn near felt human again.
Nikolas helped me rejoin the world, and I dove into education. I wanted to learn everything I could, and know all there was to know. I was so old by now, but each time I learned something new, I felt like a child.
I came to America in the 1800s, when the country was fresh and new. I had many women, many lovers, beautiful Indian women, strong black women, pale Englishwomen. I never found another worthy to be my mate. The world was changing, and I changed with it. New things were being discovered, and people were changing, evolving, trying to stop treating each other like shit. I know for certain that some vampires, as well as angels, were behind these movements, urging women to stand up for their rights, and trying to show humanity how to love and care for one another. Others of our kind simply laughed at their stupidity, and fed from them. I simply sat back and watched, enjoying my long and lingering life. I was no longer human, but I was among them, laughing with them, loving with them. I did not suffer with them, however.
I had met many of our kind before, but did not care to linger with them. Nikolas was the only one I would ever befriend, for he was the one who created me. I thanked him and cursed him simultaneously for my immortality. However, today would be different. When I was informed I had guests, I did not expect to meet another vampire.
I came to the sitting room and found Nikolas sitting on the couch with another young man. He appeared to be no more than 19 or 20, but his presence told me otherwise. His skin was a deep bronze, and his eyes were a cold ebony as they bore straight through me. Even Nikolas seemed shaken by him, and at once I realized I was in the presence of an Ancient. With his current appearance, he must have been converted at a very young age. He may even be an Uhir, an original full blooded vampire.
My suspicions were confirmed as Nikolas introduced him, speaking his name in a language even I didn't recognize.
"You may call me Ra," the man-boy said in a powerful, deep voice, with a heavy accent that I couldn't place. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
I tentatively took a seat and, once my butler, made sure everyone was comfortable, I excused him for the night. Whatever this was about, didn't sound good.
Nikolas cleared his throat and began to speak, English, in his Aramaic lilt. "Theron, we have a situation in the East. There is a newly created youth who is turning humans, all over the place. He began in Indonesia, and is moving westward. He is turning as many humans as his strength will allow, as many as one per week."
I sat up in shock and surprise. I understood the reason for the visit now. About two years ago, I had been in India. Did they suspect me of creating such a fiend?
"Nikolas, don't tell me that you suspect me of this outlandish spectacle?"
Nikolas remained quiet, and the expression on Ra's face grew piqued at my distress.
"Theron, we are not accusing you of anything. You can keep nothing from me, be certain of that. I am here to extend an invitation to The Strigoi."
If I'd still been human, my heart may have stopped beating. The Strigoi were the small group of Ancients and Uhirs, the ones who kept the others in order. Generally, their policy was "no news is good news", so the fact that he was being invited to join their legion was disturbing.
Nikolas eyed me with what could best be described as a look of dread. Ra could read both of our intentions, and he noted my discomfort.
"Ra, may I respectfully ask why this invitation is being extended, now?" My words came out choked, meekly, as not to offend the powerful being before me. I regretted the words immediately. Ra's black eyes took on a reddish hue. Anger.
"Theron, the business of the Strigoi is held in strict confidence. I am not permitted to give you many answers right now," he told me. His expression was stoic, but his eyes still gleamed. "All I am permitted to tell you is that we may be preparing ourselves for an event. If this new vampire continues to create more of us at this rate, it can be nothing but trouble. I suggest you choose your affiliates wisely at this point."
"I understand, Sir." I took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. The choice wasn't really a choice at all. "I accept your invitation, Master."
Nikolas' look of worry only deepened. Ra smiled at me, curiously, but his eyes were still cold. We both stood and he shook my hand firmly. I felt several of my bones crack under his touch, and he was unapologetic as he turned to Nikolas and did the same.
"Theron, you have one human week to get your affairs in order before you are summoned to Odessa to meet with the Strigoi. You will leave immediately once summoned and you will remain there with us for six days. You will speak nothing of this. Is that understood?"
I nodded in agreement, and Ra turned to depart. Before he left, he turned to me once more. "If we are correct, this could be a war between us and them. You have made a wise decision."
Nikolas finally spoke about an hour after Ra had left, and even then he spoke quietly, afraid that Ra might hear even then. "You understand what's happening, don't you? They're tired of hiding. They want to be seen, they want humans to know."
Nikolas was speaking of the Pervali, the enemy of the Strigoi. From what I knew, they had been disbanded years ago, in the Philippines. The Pervali had formed when several Ancients had decided they wanted the world to know of our existence. Centuries ago, an Ancient warlord named Lebbaeus began to tell certain humans of the supernatural realms. He flagrantly displayed his powers of suggestion and destruction. At first no one believed him, but it then began to catch on. His influence led to the very first vampire stories and legends, and fed into a lot of today's misconceptions. He was finally caught and decapitated by the Strigoi around the turn of the 17th century. In his wake, he left a small band of followers, vampires who use their abilities to bring them fame and fortune, who don't mind killing for a taste of blood.
Many vampires have been in positions of power throughout history; even today, many hold public offices and have been responsible for great wars as well as great peace. This can be more than dangerous, if left to the wrong hands. The Pervali were as dangerous as could be.
"Kytina Moylneux is the leader, from what we last found out," Nikolas told me.
" The psychotic Uhir that killed her brother?" I gaped. Kytina had been born in France to her father and her newly converted vampire mother. Uhir are very rare, as most often mothers die in the birthing process. Kytina had been born as a twin, but her lust for power was so great, she had killed her brother at the ripe young age of twelve, feeding off his blood. Since then, she had gone rogue, making and killing mates as if they were pets. I had never met her, but she was presumed to be very beautiful and even more dangerous. She was not very old, she had been born around the 1700's which put her at only four centuries, but being a Uhir gave her incredible, personal power.
Drinking the blood of her twin had made it even more intense, and had made her desires even darker. Kytina was often referred to as Vaduva, which also meant widow. Kytina had many victims, many names, and many who feared her. The time she spent in Romania had only added fuel to the terror and the myths about vampires. The ones like her, Vaduva and the entire Pervali, were responsible for the death of my darling Ianthe so long ago. If the Pervali hadn't created the fear in the first place, they never would have attacked us.
Despite it all, I could understand the motivations behind the Pervali's actions. Aside from the killing and the raw, lecherous displays of power, I could see that they were lonely. They wanted to be like the rest of the world, to be acknowledged. Maybe one day, we could reveal ourselves. This was the wrong way. Turning humans against their will? It was unacceptable. It was not an existence I would have wanted, had I been given the choice to lead a normal human life. Only when faced with death; then I was happy to choose the life of an immortal.
"Theron, you need to forget I told you any of this. Ra will be furious with me for divulging Strigoi information when you are not yet a member."
"Do not worry, my friend. I will say nothing. You may enchant me, if you wish."
"I will, before I leave." Nikolas stood and helped himself to a glass of wine from the bar nearby, then sat back down on the leather couch in front of me. He placed the glass down on the porcelain table and looked at me, with clasped hands and pursed lips. He was getting ready to tell me something, something serious and personal.
"Theron, after this business with the Pervali is over, I plan on sleeping. For a few centuries."
My heart sank. It would be terribly lonely for Nikolas to disappear into a deep sleep. I know I did it to him, and he probably was ready for it, but the thought filled me with dread. I smiled ruefully, a tear slipping down my cheek.
"I shall hope then, that they continue to evade us." I chuckled, and clinked my glass against his.
He smiled sadly. "I will be staying in Odessa, at the tomb of the Strigoi. There are not many places left where I could feel safe."
I leaned over and embraced him. As I pulled away, I looked into his ancient eyes, and it saddened me. I could see the age in them, the pain in them. He was older than I, and we had both seen so much. I pressed my hand to his face tenderly, feeling like a son to him. He smiled and closed his eyes, wearily. "Yes, Theron. A very long nap is what I need. I can feel it. A few hours a night just isn't enough. My body is weak. My heart is weak. The world is sick, and diseased. Maybe when I awake, it will be pure again. Maybe people will evolve." He spoke hopefully, but I felt doubtful. I had seen many centuries go by, and although the world had changed, people were still base and depraved. Nikolas may have to sleep a millennium or two to see evolution.
Sleeping, for us can be a very dangerous thing. We are basically dead. We require no blood or food, but we can be very easily killed, and our strength wanes. When I slumbered, Nikolas was kind enough to keep a watchful eye over my tomb, returning every few years to be sure I was fine. The day I awoke, he was there, waiting. I don't know how he knew; he said it was the bond between us as Master and created. I suppose I will be waiting in Odessa whenever he awakes, pulled by that bond.
Nikolas sighed. "Let's not think of such things, tonight," he said, reaching for the wine. "I say we enjoy ourselves."