Betrothed to a Stranger?

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by EpitaphQueen, Dec 23, 2012.

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  1. Thud. Thud. Thud. There was a loud pounding in her ears and her head ached. Slowly she sat up and looked down at her arms. They were covered in cuts and bleeding profusely. Wait, what had happened to her? Hold on, WHO was she?! She looked down at what she was wearing, hoping for some clues. She was wearing a red form fitting dress of a fine silk. It was so comfortable and paired with the most adorable shoes, but she wished she knew why she looked so good. Her legs were covered in bruises and cuts too and she ached all over. Slowly she pulled herself to her feet and looked at her surroundings. She had been lying in a back alley of a large store on some trash bags. Still she did not know who she was or where she was. She walked down to the end of the alley way and saw a back door that had been left ajar, so she pushed it open wider to reveal a large warehouse. 'This will have to do' she thought to herself as she laid down behind some crates. It wasn't as cold here and hopefully in the morning she could find out something about herself and maybe find a mirror and see herself for the first time. Until then, she was exhausted, so she allowed herself to drift off to sleep.
     
  2. “What do you mean, she’s missing?” Theron growled, overturning a goblet of blood with a swipe of his hand.

    “Just what I said, my lord,” answered Liam, the head of Theron’s guard. “The princess, your fiancée, she is missing.”

    “I thought I told you to supplement her guard with our own forces,” Theron said. “Nothing was to happen to her until the wedding.”

    “I sent enough to double her guard,” Liam said.

    “Then how did this happen?” Theron demanded. If there had been another goblet on the heavy, wooden table, he would have knocked it to the ground as well. As it was, he leaned heavily on the table, causing the wood to groan.

    “I am looking into it now, my lord.”

    “Could Dante or Gabriel be responsible?” Theron silently cursed the two other vampire princes. They had been his rivals since he’d taken his throne. Their clans’ power would be threatened by his marriage to this princess. He could understand why they would want her gone. In their place, he would have done the same.

    “It is possible, my lord,” Liam answered, “but, as I said, I am still looking into it.”

    “And my betrothed? Have you any idea where she is?”

    “No, my lord.”

    “You useless fool!” the prince thundered. He marched around the table and took hold of his guard’s shirt. He bared his fangs but only shoved Liam away. He drew a deep breath to regain his composure. “Keep me updated on what you find in regards to the princess’s disappearance.” He moved toward the door.

    “My lord? Where are you going?” Liam asked.

    “To find my bride.”

    “Yourself, my lord?”

    “Of course,” Theron answered with a grim smile, “I could not leave such a delicate matter in the hands of oafs like you.”
     
  3. The next night the girl was stirred by loud male voices, it seemed other people used this as a hideout as well. The dull pain in her head had faded and she no longer ached all over. Curious, she gazed down at her arms and legs only to find that all of the cuts and bruises had faded from her entire body.

    "I wonder if everyone heals this fast?" She inquired out loud.

    Her own voice startled her. It was high pitched and musical. Was she a singer then? She fervently hoped that someone was out there looking for her because she was becoming frightened now. 'Maybe if I get up and walk around something will trigger my memory' she thought hopefully. So she pulled herself up and snuck out of the warehouse, narrowly avoiding detection a couple of times.

    As she exited out into the night her stomach growled loudly. She was starving, but in a different sense, her throat felt raw and course and her stomach was gurgling in a funny way. There just happened to be a drinking fountain nearby and she eagerly took a few gulps, hoping to sate the burn in her throat.

    As the water went down it burned her throat like acid. She soon found herself in another alleyway retching up the foul substance. It not only burned going down but also coming up. As she felt her stomach empty and the dry heaves end she collapsed against the side of one of the buildings. What was going on? That water should have been good for her... Right? Now she was becoming increasingly scared and anxious.
     
  4. He was nibbling her neck and she liked it. She moaned encouragement to keep him at it but her moans meant nothing to him compared with the excited staccato of her heartbeat. When the heady scent of her blood became too much, he stopped nibbling and sunk his fangs deep into her throat. She stiffened at the pain but didn’t realize that it wasn’t just some kinky type of foreplay until it was much too late.

    Satisfied, Theron licked his lips clean and tossed the whore’s corpse aside. His eyes flashed red and her body dissolved into ash before she even hit the ground.

    Because of the threat that Dante and Gabriel posed, Liam had suggested that Theron not go hunt for safety reasons. Because of that, the prince had been drinking bottled blood for far too long. Old blood simply didn’t compare to fresh. Theron paused to savor the power fresh blood gave him before he exited the club’s filthy bathroom and disappeared out the back door into the shadows of an alley.

    Theron inhaled deeply, enjoying the sharper senses fresh blood gave him. Vampire blood was the only thing superior to fresh human blood. Vampire blood did not trigger the insatiable thirst the way human blood did and it could not replace it so the sharing of vampire blood have been elevated to being a privilege of matrimony.

    Theron thought of his missing princess and inhaled again. Vampires gave off a scent that was uniquely vampire. With his enhanced senses, it would be easier for Theron to find his bride.

    It was surprisingly easy to find her, actually. He caught the scent of a powerful vampire nearby and followed it to find a woman in fine clothes retching in the alleyway. He might have thought she was any drunken partygoer except for her strong scent of vampirism and the fact that, even bedraggled, he vaguely recognized his betrothed.

    “My lady?” he asked, approaching her carefully. “My lady? Adaire? Thank Nyx you are unharmed.”
     
  5. She allowed herself to look at the person who had spoken to her. He was handsome and well dressed, but looked like he had been recently with someone intimately. On his neck was a faded lipstick mark and his hair had been mussed up by hurried hands. His under shirt had a slightly crumpled look around the collar. Once she had noticed his collar she also noticed the blood on it and the scent it carried. She pulled her attention away quickly because it increased her hunger.

    "I... Wait, what did you just call me? I-is that my name?" She questioned quietly.

    The young girl was so tired and hungry that she could barely focus. Her throat burned like a red hot branding iron had been shoved down it. Her eyes had faded from the everyday color of red to black, the color of a starving vampire. The scents and smells of the city were slowly overwhelming her and she didn't know how much longer she could take it. The one thing that stood out from the smells of the city was him, he smelled... different.

    A stray thought pulled at her mind and she knew she recognized this man. His scent pulled at her memories and the way he held himself was familiar. If only she knew. She pulled herself up the wall slowly and waited for some kind of sign as to what was going on and why she was here.

    A sudden stabbing pain pulled at her chest. It felt like someone had suddenly stabbed her from behind. She screamed as the pain only increased. A memory pulled at her thoughts and surfaced.

    She saw a horribly vicious looking man stab her with a wooden stake. It was an ornate stake with runes carved into it with silver with a silver tip. As the stake entered her body she felt an excruciating pain all through her body and knew she was going to die. As the stake was pulled from her body she saw the blood soaked wood, but no more silver tipping. "Enjoy your last few days of life, that silver will kill you slowly bitch. Learn your place next time."

    Now she knew, the pain was the silver, working it's way towards her heart. Unable to bear it any longer she collapsed to the ground in a faint.
     
  6. “Of course that is you name, my lady,” Theron said. Her confusion was probably from the trauma the past few days had caused her. She would be herself again shortly. She only needed to be safe again and in familiar surroundings. The surroundings wouldn’t be completely familiar because he would have to take her back to his abode for safety reasons, but he would be sure that any of her servants who were unquestionably loyal would be moved to be by her side.

    Needless to say, the wedding would have to be postponed. If Dante or Gabriel had wanted to buy time before Theron’s powerful clan united with Adaire’s, they had succeeded. They would have time to make alliances and amass armies. War would come after the wedding was held, Theron could feel it.

    Theron didn’t have time for thoughts of war just then, because his bride-to-be’s face contorted in pain and she screamed. Once the scream had died from her lips, she fainted. Theron caught her before she hit the ground. She was filthy enough as it was. It was disgraceful for a vampire princess to have been treated this way. When the creatures who did this to her were found, they would be most severely punished.

    “You’ve found her, my lord!” Liam cried with joy when Theron returned home with his princess.

    “Yes, but she is ill,” Theron replied. “I will be taking her to suitable quarters. Fetch any maid who can take care of a lady. Send for all of her ladyship’s personal servants, but only those who can be absolutely trusted. We do not know yet who has done this to her and I do not care to witness a repeat performance.”

    “Of course, my lord,” Liam replied and went to do just that.

    Theron took Adaire to the chambers that would have been hers had the accident not put the wedding plans on hold. Her chambers were adjacent to Theron’s and there was a connecting door. Powerful vampire royalty were liable to have violent disagreements, if they happened to disagree, and spats between immortal vampires could last decades. The solution was that the couple would have their own separate rooms for personal space but that their rooms were close enough to never need to be alone.

    The proximity of their rooms was a blessing to Theron as he waited for his princess to regain consciousness. He could enter her room from his, away from the prying eyes of servants who were eager to paint their iron-willed prince with a heart of gold.
     
  7. Slowly Adaire started to come back to consciousness. Her body was screaming at her and the burning had increased in her throat. All of these new sensations almost drowned out the voices from around her, almost. The last words she heard were "Of course my lord." They had been spoken in a low male voice. My lord? She had been called my lady just recently. Did that mean anything to her? She thought hard about it and recalled a few different voices calling her lady, even when she was younger than them. That would indicate royalty of some kind. Slowly Adaire was trying to piece together anything she could remember, but nothing more would come to her. So all she knew was her name, Adaire, and that she might be some kind of royalty.

    Adaire realized that she was in the arms of someone, presumably the man that had saved her. She felt herself being laid down and his quiet footsteps as he left her chambers. She had wanted to cry out, to scream for him to come back and to tell her everything he knew about her. All Adaire wanted was to know who she was and why she hurt so badly. Once more her throat screamed for her attention and this time her stomach whined in pain as well. If something wasn't done soon she might starve, but she couldn't even find it in herself to open her mouth to tell anyone. Adaire had absolutely no control over her muscles, it was as though she was being pulled into a deep coma and no matter how hard she fought it she was being drug down. Slowly she drifted off once more, without ever having been able to even open her eyes.

    What could have been minutes, hours, or even nights passed before Adaire felt herself rising to consciousness again. She could hear two soft female voices discussing how best to get her washed and if it was even safe to move her. Adaire mustered up every ounce of strength she had to open her eyes and mutter three little words.

    At the catch in Adaire's voice the two women were instantly by her side and she had to no more than whisper her words.

    "Silver, inside me." She whispered before she felt herself being pulled back into the oblivion.

    The words were no more than uttered and one of the women had instantly left the room to find someone to tell. The first person she came to was the head of the guards, Liam.

    "Inform the prince that our lady Adaire needs a doctor straight away! The princess is not sleeping from exhaustion, she has silver within her body and is in a coma. If we don't get help soon she will die!" The woman practically yelled as she pushed Liam in a seemingly random direction before taking off again.
     
  8. Liam was dumbfounded to hear about the silver. If the princess’s attacker had used silver, then they didn’t simply want to delay the marriage—they wanted to kill her. He didn’t bother to thank the woman for the information and instead went straight to the prince’s study.

    “My lord!” he cried. “The princess is in terrible danger! There is silver in her body! She is dying!”

    “Fetch my personal physician immediately!” Theron ordered, standing from his seat behind his desk.

    “Yes, my lord,” Liam said. He paused to bow.

    “What are you waiting for,” Theron growled. “Go! Now!”

    When Liam had left the room, Theron collapsed back into his chair and ran his fingers through his dark hair. It wasn’t an entirely unexpected move. It would be better for Theron’s enemies if his bride were to die. Still, he’d been hoping that it wouldn’t come to this.

    Liam came to let him know when the doctor had arrived, but Theron didn’t meet with the doctor until he’d been informed that the silver had been removed from Adaire’s body.

    “How is she, doctor?” Theron asked.

    “She is sleeping, my lord,” the doctor replied.

    “But will she survive?”

    “I believe so, my lord,” the doctor said. “The silver was in her for a long time, but the poisoning was not yet fatal. You were fortunate that it was discovered when it was. Had the silver been in her much longer, she would have been beyond saving.”

    “May I see her?” the prince asked.

    “You must let her rest,” the doctor said. “She is recovering from a very severe poisoning.”

    “I see,” Theron said. “Thank you for your services. I will send for you if you are needed again.” He then motioned for the doctor to follow Liam out.

    Theron then retired to him room and instructed that he not be disturbed. Once he was sure that no one would come, Theron crossed from his room into Adaire’s room.

    “I’ll sit with her for a while,” he told the women who had been watching over her and dismissed them.
     
  9. It felt like a misty fog enveloped Adaire's whole mind. Thoughts came and went and pulled briefly at silent memories, but never stayed long enough for them to surface. As she slept, Adaire became increasingly irritated and angry at herself. Why couldn't she remember? Was she some imbecile? Slowly Adaire felt the haze being lifted from her mind like a heavy blanket and with it went the anger.

    Although Adaire's mind might be slowly recovering, her body still looked worse for the wear. She had been changed into a simple nightgown of black and blue to accent her hair and eyes, even though her eyes were not visible. Her body had been cleaned after surgery and any unhealable injuries had been bandaged. Adaire's breathing was normal now and her heartbeat not so erratic.

    Adaire's mind had made the transition from a coma to a dream state. As she slept her mind wandered and did some silent piecing together. Adaire felt herself being pulled to consciousness again and feared the worse. However, when Adaire awoke she felt much better and actually smiled. It was then that she noticed the man who had saved her in a chair by her bed.
     
  10. Theron allowed himself the slightest sigh of relief when the princess opened her eyes. Though the doctor had been confident in her recovery, he’d come too close to losing her. The loss of their alliance would be the end of his rule as well as hers. The moment she was well enough, they would wed and put an end to all of the uncertainty.

    “Are you feeling better, my lady?” he asked her in his most gentle tone. Theron was not generally gentle with anyone, it was not in his nature, but he made an exception for his bride in her fragile state. “You were very ill from the silver. You must rest now. Do not fear for your people, I shall manage their affairs until you are well enough to lead them again.”

    It was a lucky thing that Theron did not have to tend bedsides often. It was rare for a vampire to be brought so low, made so weak. They were usually strong and powerful, especially those who ruled. It was the powerful with whom Theron was used to dealing and it was them who he was suited to dealing with. His soft reassurances to the princess sounded awkward and fake to his own ears.
     
  11. The words spoken to Adaire made no sense in her mind. A haze had enveloped her mind and she shook the sleep from her mind and processed his words. What people? She was a ruler? of where? Theron's words sounded fake and cold to her highly sensitive ears. "Please sir, I'm not sure I understand."

    She thought as hard as she could, but couldn't recall anything about ruling. The only memories she held were of the night someone had staked her. Gradually the burning in her throat was coming back with the memory. "I don't remember who I am. I'm afraid I also don't remember you."
     
  12. Adaire’s words were very unwelcome to Theron’s ears. Any traces of pleasantness in his expression faded as it turned severe. He stared at her in silence for a while as he mulled over what she’d said.

    “If that was a jest, princess,” he said at last, “it was in very poor taste.” Yet, he felt that she was serious. It made the situation all the more unfortunate.

    “My name is Theron Ventrue,” he said after another pause. “I am the prince of one of the most powerful vampire clans. You are Adaire Epitaph, the princess of an equally powerful clan. We are betrothed and, when you are well again, we shall wed to unite our clans and become the most powerful of the vampire clans.”

    Theron stood then and gave his princess a slight, sharp bow. “I shall send for your maids now, to look after you, and take my leave so that you might rest.” He did as he said, only staying until the servants came so that Adaire would not be alone and defenseless.

    Theron then retired to his study where Liam waited to give his report on the recent events.

    Despite the outward appearances of their relationship, Liam actually was one of Theron’s few friends. He had been instrumental in Theron’s rise to the throne so very long ago. For his efforts, he’d been appointed to the head of Theron’s guard and been made Theron’s personal guard. Not many other than Liam would have understood the true honour of the position. Liam would never be a noble, but Theron placed little importance on nobility. There was royalty, for Theron, and there was non-royalty. Honour, in his mind, came with loyalty and those he chose to honour were placed in positions close to him, noble or not. More often, the positions were not noble; for Theron did not trust nobles and thus he kept them only so close as he needed to in order to effectively control them.

    Liam’s report was not heartening. There had been no innocent breach in security due to negligence or incompetence. There had to be a traitor within. It would take time to discover the person but Liam’s personal assistants were compiling a list of suspects as they spoke.

    “This is a disaster, Liam,” Theron said, rubbing his face as he went to sit behind his desk. He felt freer to express his true feelings before his old friend in the privacy of his study.

    “It certainly isn’t good, my lord,” Liam replied.

    “You know more of my subjects opinions, have I done something to merit this breach in trust?”

    Liam did his best to smother a sympathetic smile. Trust was very important to Theron and the fact that he’d been betrayed cut him deeply.

    “No, my lord,” he answered, “but I cannot know their feelings on your princess, nor can I know her people’s feelings.”

    “She has amnesia…”

    “Who?”

    “The princess,” Theron clarified. “I trust you will do what you can to keep it quiet.”

    “Of course, my lord.” Liam bowed and turned to go.

    “Oh, Liam,” Theron added, “you’ve handled this well…for a peon.”

    Back still turned to the prince, Liam cracked a grin. “Thank you, my lord.” Then he left Theron to his own musings.
     
  13. Theron's words stung at Adaire. He seemed so cold and calculating. Had she been that way... before? She hoped not, she believed she was a kind woman, er, vampire. As she thought this the aching in her throat became ever more persistent and one of her hand maids brought her a small bottle.

    "Here ma'am drink this, it will make you feel better." The older woman said as she stroked the princess' head.

    Trusting this woman with kind eyes, Adaire brought the bottle to her lips and drank. A tangy metallic taste filled her mouth and coated her throat. At first she wanted to spit it out, but as it hit her stomach she yearned for more. She drained the first bottle in a few seconds and did likewise to a second bottle handed to her. On the third bottle she slowed down considerably as she began to feel full. Slowly she licked her lips and relished in the first pleasant feeling she had had since she had awoken in the gutter. She handed the nearly empty bottle back to her hand maid and smiled.

    "Thank you very much, but how did you know..?" Adaire questioned quietly.

    "It was your eyes dear. They had turned a very unhealthy black. Now you look much better and your eyes have returned to normal." The hand maid commented as she sat on the edge of the princess' bed. "I am aware of your condition Lady Adaire and I would like to reintroduce myself. I am Katrina and I have been your personal maid for well on nineteen years now. I am human, I would like to make you aware of that now and I have sworn many oaths to your mother and father to watch out for you and to keep you safe until your wedding day when you and Lord Theron will become the king and queen of the vampire world. When such time comes you may choose to do with me what you will, but I hope to serve you until the end of my days miss. You have become like a daughter to me." Katrina whispered the final part and smiled lightly at Adaire.

    "What do you know of my betrothed Miss Katrina?" Questioned Adaire quietly, for she had become truly intrigued about the man she was to marry.

    At these words Katrina's eyes darkened. "From what I have heard ma'am he is a cold man who knows little of kindness. Nothing at all like you my dear. He believes in the ultimate power of vampire royalty and is not afraid to flaunt it. Whatever happens, and whatever he tells you, stay true to yourself princess." With these words Katrina stood and held out her arm for Adaire. "Now that you have some color to your eyes I think it's high time you took a proper bath and dressed appropriately. Lets beauty you up."

    Katrina led Adaire into a small adjoining bathroom and ran her bath while Adaire stood in front of a mirror. The woman in front of her was petite with black raven hair that was cut into many thick and silky layers. Her eyes had changed from black to a red that held blue sparks in them. She was pretty she thought to herself. Too bad she was a stranger to her own mind.
     
  14. Liam was almost as upset about the princess’s amnesia as Theron was. He knew that Theron was not well liked among the courts of the other vampire royals and that Adaire’s servants would probably be feeding her evil stories about his prince.

    When Adaire was herself and had her memory, Liam had hoped that she would be aware enough to sniff out Theron’s true disposition despite his determination to have it known by no one. He’d hoped that, if she could find it, they would be happy. It was all the Liam really wanted for his friend in marriage. He could ignore the political implications because he knew that Theron wanted to be able to do that and was not.

    Liam prided himself in knowing part of Theron’s background, though he knew less than he suspected, which was more than the rest of the court knew. He thought he understood Theron’s humble beginnings well enough to assume that Theron was really looking for a romantic relationship while being pressed into a marriage of state. That he’d nearly lost the princess he’d taken such pains to become betrothed to and whom he’d finally convinced himself that he could love made the guard wonder at the truth of his prince’s calm demeanor.

    Liam was confident that he knew more about Theron than anyone else and it frustrated him that others would fill the blank mind of the princess with lies about him.

    Liam really knew very little about his prince.

    Theron was thinking along a similar line. He knew how little he was liked by the nobility and by the other clans. It hadn’t meant much to him because he’d put his nobles in a situation where they could not harm him and his princess had agreed to marry him despite his reputation which would make the others clans’ threats almost nonexistent.

    The game had changed now. There was a traitor within, a traitor the nobles could use, and the princess had amnesia. She was highly impressionable now and there were enemies around who would fill her head with ideas against him, even her own servants might do so. Whatever had made her choose to marry him might not be known to anyone other than herself. She might not be encouraged to remember it even if it was. Fed on rumours and forgetting her reason for wanting to marry him in the first place, the princess might decide to cancel the engagement. There was nothing Theron could do if she chose to do so—he was not in a position where he could force her to accept the betrothal if she chose otherwise.

    Theron’s line of thought had no clear solution. He turned the problem over in his head until he had a headache. Frustrated and not able to think clearly anymore, he went to be early and resigned himself to fitful dreams.

    “Theron…” A soft voice cut through his dream. “…Theron…” The voice called softly two more times before harshly yelling, “Get up you lazy alfe!” The last statement was followed by a bucket of icy water being upended on the poor young vampire. He sat up spluttering and shivering.

    “Wherefore was that?” Theron choked, trying to remove the water from his airways. He stopped after a moment, remembering that breathing wasn’t entirely necessary when one couldn’t die.

    “You wouldn’t get up, lad,” answered the one who had thrown the water, bucket still in hand. He barely looked older than Theron but his hair was completely white and was worn in a loose plait down his back. His features were soft with youth and his face was clean shaven, giving him an almost childlike appearance.

    Theron grumbled as he took off his sopping shirt and wrung it out. “I’m a prince,” he said. “You should have more respect.”

    “Aye,” the other answered, “but you’ve made quite a mess of things, haven’t you?”

    Theron stopped fussing with his wet clothes to stare. He wasn’t sure how he knew but his teacher was supposed to have said that Theron wasn’t a prince and rile him into reaffirming his reasons for studying what he did.

    “What are you gaping at like a dead fish?” Theron’s teacher snapped.

    “I-“

    “Don’t answer that. It seems you’ve been reading too much Machiavelli, my boy.”

    “Machiavelli’s not been born yet,” Theron argued.

    “Then how do you know about him? Don’t answer that. What I want to know is why you keep up that pretense when it is crumbling your throne beneath you?”

    “What pretense?” Theron asked. “There is no pretense. This is who I am.”

    “You’ll drive your princess away if you are not careful,” the teacher said.

    “And how am I supposed to stop it?” Theron demanded. “What am I supposed to do?”

    “Why not try wooing her?”

    “I can’t woo a woman!” Theron cried. “I don’t know how.”

    “I’m afraid there are a large number of beautiful women who beg to differ.”

    “They were humans, my food,” Theron protested. “My instincts are to lure them in.”

    “I was speaking of before,” Theron’s teacher clarified.

    “Before?”

    “There was hardly a woman at your father’s court who did not fall for your attentions. But, oh, what is this frightened look in your eye?”

    “How did you know about that? No one knows that I was born human.”

    “Why? Are you ashamed of it?”

    “You wouldn’t understand, vampire-born as you are. At court the human-borns are slaves. We are treated worse than the animals. I was tricked by that vampire-born woman. She made me believe that we would be the same once she turned me. She lied. I was less than the natural humans even, for at least they had the decency to remain what they were. I will not go back to that.”

    “But you are a prince now; surely they would recognize you for your strength and ignore your past?”

    “They hold human-borns in such contempt that every clan would ally together to depose me,” Theron answered darkly, “even those who are so kind to the humans.”

    “Then don’t reveal yourself, but use your humanity to make yourself the most exotic vampire.”

    “Exotic?” Theron nearly laughed.

    “Vampires are all so crusty and old. They don’t have the vitality of humans. It’s exotic to them.”

    “I am a crusty, old vampire,” Theron pointed out.

    “But you were human once and that gives you a life most vampires never have. You’ve seen the sun. Use it to your advantage! Woo the girl!”

    “Woo the girl?”

    “Woo her like you wooed those ladies of the court. You had at least twelve princesses at your beck and call and you weren’t even likely to see the throne, fifth son that you were. What is one more princess?”

    “My lord?” Theron startled awake and sat up to see a fragile serving girl with a tray at the foot of his bed.

    “I’m sorry!” she gasped. “Sir Liam sent me to bring this to you.” She gestured with the tray. Theron motioned for her to bring the tray closer. On it were several packets of blood for his breakfast.

    “Thank you…”

    “Eden,” she said. “My name is Eden, my lord.”

    “Yes, I remember you.” She was a poor human girl sent from a small town that lay within Theron’s lands. They had come to see Theron as their protector as well. They had begun more than a century ago to send their dying children to him because vampirism was preferable to an early death. Most of the time, Theron killed them anyway but there were a select few he could not kill before their time. He took them on as human servants and when their time came, if they proved loyal, he granted their parents wish and made them vampires. Eden would likely become a vampire.

    “You are very good, my lord.”

    “No,” he answered, “I am not good.”

    “I think you are good, and I only hope that your princess is as good,” Eden argued politely. “…My lord.”

    Theron laughed. “Humans are certainly strange.” Eden flushed with embarrassment. Theron took the tray from her and continued, “You should leave now; this is not a sight for mortal eyes. In ten minutes you may return for the tray.”

    Eden did as she was bid.

    Once the human was out of the room, Theron picked up the first packet and drained it. He could tell that Liam was worried about the traitor, sending the prince blood to keep up his strength when he’d only just fed off of a fresh human.

    He’d finished the blood and was dressed by the time Eden returned. He was sitting by the window, pondering his dream.

    “Do you need anything else, my lord?” the servant girl asked, picking up the tray.

    “No, nothing,” Theron answered.

    “If I may be so bold, my lord, is something the matter? You look unwell.”

    Theron pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered, “If even the servants notice…” He looked over at Eden. “No, I am only trying to think of a way to woo a woman.”

    Theron was shocked the moment the words crossed his lips. He hadn’t been acting himself all morning and he felt it had something to do with his dream. He couldn’t take back the words, however, once they were said. He began to not want to when he saw the warmth it engendered in the girl. It was warmth he could use to his advantage.

    “The princess?” Eden asked.

    “Yes.”

    “You should use flowers, my lord,” she said.

    “Brilliant,” Theron said, perplexed that he hadn’t thought of such a gift long ago himself.

    “Roses!” Eden cried excitedly.

    “No!”

    “My lord?” Eden blinked rapidly, almost frightened.

    “Not roses.”

    “But they are the most romantic of flowers…”

    “I know, but it cannot be roses. Actually…” Theron took the paper and pencil that he kept at his bedside for midnight ideas, and wrote down the names of some flowers. “Go to the gardener and ask for angrec, jonquils, mayflowers, and viscaria, if he has some. I believe he will. He mysteriously manages to have all flowers at all times.”

    “If I may ask, my lord,” Eden said, taking the paper, “why these flowers?”

    “All flowers have meaning,” Theron replied. “Two hundred years ago, the bouquet would have sent a message. Now, well, even if the princess is old enough to know the meanings directly, I doubt she will remember. Which reminds me, the princess is ill, so do not linger with her once you’ve delivered the flowers. You are not well yourself. Once you’ve done this task for me, rest. You need not work the rest of the day.”

    Eden went to complete her task. She gathered the flowers from the gardener and arranged them to look pretty. She then brought them to the princess and announced that they were from the prince.
     
  15. As Adaire stepped out from her warm bath she took the fluffy white towel offered to her by Katrina. She wrapped it around her and reveled in the soft, clean new feeling. Without all of the dirt and blood covering her, Adaire appeared like a soft vision. Her pale skin glowed and her sparking red and blue eyes danced with a glow that had not been present before. Her layered black hair hung down to her mid back.

    Quickly Adaire took a brush to it, combing out all of the knots. Just as she had gotten to a particularly rough knot gentle hands took the brush from her. Katrina led Adaire over to a small vanity table and say her down before the mirror. Slowly Katrina began to remove all of the knots from Adaire's luscious hair. Once finished, Katrina took Adaire back into here bedroom and supplied her with undergarments and a dress.

    The dress itself was of a soft cashmere material. It was black, but accompanied with a blue bow that matched the blue sparks in her eyes. After Adaire had pulled on the dress she realized that it must have been custom tailored to fit her. The dress ended just at her ankles and fit her body just right. The top of the dress had been designed in the way of a corset and had a light blue see through material over it. This she chose to pair with simple black flats.

    Just as the princess had finally dressed and was ready for her night there came a strong knock on the door. Katrina rushed to open the door and in marched a small girl holding a bouquet of flowers.

    "Prince Theron sent these for you milady." She stated calmly.

    Adaire gently took the bouquet and set it on the bedside table. Surprising her hand maid, and even herself, Adaire began to name the flowers.

    "Angrecs, how appropriate. They stand for royalty and paired with these Mayflowers it is a royal welcome. And... Are these Viscaria? Th-these are my favorites... They ask a question ironically enough. I think it was," She paused for a moment in thought, "Will you dance with me?" She questioned.

    Numbly Katrina nodded at her and gestured at the final unnamed flower. "What about these ones?"

    "Jonquils? They are a request to return affections." Adaire smiled and turned back to the forgotten girl. "Please thank the prince for me, and tell him I would appreciate his company if he would have me."

    The girl curtsied to Adaire and exited the room to search for her lord, leaving a very happy princess behind. She didn't know why, or how, but Adaire had remembered something.
     
  16. Liam found his prince reclining on an antique chaise lounge in the library. The lounge was set near a large window where moonlight streamed in through sheer white curtains. The dark, heavy drapes had been pulled back to allow the filtered light.

    An old tome rested, open, on the prince’s chest. His hand rested loosely on top of it. His eyes were closed and his expression placid. He looked to be asleep.

    Liam waited a moment to see if the prince would wake. He took the time also to see the friend who had been lost in the trappings of his title. When Theron had risen to the throne, there had been no question of his suitability. It had been centuries now and Theron was still a good prince, but the role had changed him more than perhaps he was aware.

    Liam then turned to go quietly without disturbing the prince. Theron’s eyes open even as Liam turned.

    “Where are you going, Liam?” he asked. “Haven’t you a report to make?”

    “I thought you were sleeping, my lord,” Liam replied, turning back to the prince and bowing. He handed the prince a thick stack of papers loosely bound together. “This is everyone whose whereabouts are unaccounted for at the time of the princess’s disappearance.”

    “In other words, all of the suspects,” theron said, flipping through the pages.

    “Yes. I am working with the princess’s retainers to get a similar list,” Liam added.

    “This is only our people?” Theron flipped through the pages again. “What a slipshod government we run that this many people are missing at once. I want a full investigation on all of them as quickly as possible. Bring me back the list when you can tell me where they really were.”

    “It will be done, my lord.” Just as Liam was bowing and preparing to leave, Eden burst into th room.

    “I’ve been looking for you, my lord,” she gasped, out of breath.

    “Did I not tell you to take the rest of the night off?” Theron asked. “Was there something unclear about what I said?”

    “No, my lord,” Eden answered. “But the princess sent you a message and I thought I should bring it to you so that it was not lost in translation.”

    “Yes?”

    “She said that she would like to see you, if you would allow it.”

    Theron thought for a long moment. “Very well,” he said. “Liam, take Eden to her room and make sure she stays there, post a guard if you have to. Then, go to the princess’s chambers and tell her that I will receive her in the… The ballroom is set for the wedding, we cannot meet there. The throne room is a bit pretentious. The Great Hall is absolutely ridiculous…”

    “What about the garden, my lord?” Eden asked.

    “The garden?” Theron shook his head. “There isn’t enough space there. It is all winding mazes and such.”

    “There is beautiful courtyard in one corner,” Eden replied. “The gardener has trained some very pretty moonflowers up one wall, on a trellis or something that you can’t see. Along the other, grows a thick hedge of cereus. It’s a place most princesses would like, I think.”

    Theron let out a little sigh. “Very well, tell her that I will receive her in the garden by the wall of night-blooming cereus.”
     
  17. After Eden had left Adaire had begun to dance about her room naming off all of the flowers she could think of. Learning that she had been a lover of flowers and a floriographist had brightened her dark mood. Remembering so much about it had made it all the better.

    After a few more agonizing minutes she slowly sat down in a window seat to face her hand maid Katrina. In the midst of all of this cheering and good naturedness a thought had occurred to the young princess and she had finally had to ask.

    "Katrina?" She had waited to hold her attention fully before continuing. "Where are my parents?"

    Suddenly her hand maids face went sullen and she became very serious. "Miss your mother passed away many years ago. After losing her your father just couldn't take it anymore and he left. He left you to be in charge, without even so much as a goodbye."

    "Oh." was the only intelligible thing that Adaire could offer in response.

    "They were good people miss, they loved you with all of their hearts and took very good care of you. Your father loved your mother so much though, and he just couldn't be without her." Katrina replied sympathetically.

    "I understand Katrina." Adaire said softly with a small smile.

    Just as their conversation had come to a standstill there came another knock on the door and Katrina gave a funny look. "Now who could that be again?" She asked as she opened the door wide to reveal Liam at the door. He gave a small bow to the princess and moved into the room.

    "The prince agreed to see you in the gardens ma'am. Over by the Cereus." he said shortly.

    Katrina gave him a strange look and stepped forward. "I will take her there. I know my way around well enough to get there and I think we require a moment of girl time."

    Liam gave a shrug and stepped out of the room. Quickly Katrina turned to Adaire and, with brush in hand, began to attack Adaire's hair with a fury. She pulled it into a complicated braid which allowed her curls to fall around her face and set the braid through the middle of her head all the way around. When she was satisfied with the way the princess' hair looked she gave a noise of appreciation and took her hand. Without a word Katrina began to lead Adaire to the gardens.

    As Adaire and Katrina arrived in the gardens Katrina left Adaire to find her way. Adaire found her way to the Cereus wall and sat on the bench there. The prince had surprisingly not arrived and so she began to investigate the flowers extensively, satisfied when she knew the names of all of the nearby flowers.
     
  18. A slender man walked carefully along the top of the wall surrounding the garden. It was the garden attached to the palace of Prince Theron. Had anyone asked him why, his answer would have been simple: because he could, because he wanted to, because no one had cared to ask.

    He looked up at the moon, then down to the garden which accepted her silvery light. As he was looking at the plants, he noticed a young woman sitting among them. Curious, he cocked his head to the side to see her at a different angle then jumped down to greet her.

    He stared at her for an inappropriately long time before he said, “…Excuse me, milady, for intruding. I’ve never seen another person here in all of my…intrusions.” He grinned. “I think it’s the lack of roses…but I hear that the gardener is human-born, so I suppose it can’t be helped. Not that I dislike any of these flowers.” He went to the wall and lightly touched one of the cereus.

    “I am Ezra, by the way,” he said. “I don’t suppose you have heard of me, but I am one of the Elder Vampires. Don’t worry; I do not align myself with any of the clans so it is impossible to offend me. I come here only because my prized pupil is here. Of course, he doesn’t study under me anymore but it is still nice to see him from time to time. He’s Prince Theron’s personal slave. It wouldn’t be surprising, because he is human-born, except Prince Theron’s is the only clan to have completely outlawed human-born slavery.

    “What do you think on the subject, milady?” Ezra smiled coolly then shook his head.

    “Forgive me, milady. I do not even know if you are human-born or vampire-born. But can you tell me, is it the nobility or the royals who serve the human-borns?” Ezra laughed then.

    He abruptly stopped his laughter when he looked in the direction of the palace and saw a dark figure approaching them.

    “Ah, look the prince! Or is it my pupil? They look so alike that the prince sometimes uses him as his double. It’s impossible to tell.”

    “Ezra!” Theron barked. “You were banished from this palace a century ago, on pain of death should you return. Why do you insist upon returning?”

    “Ah! So it is the prince,” Ezra said. “You can tell by his obvious lack of anything resembling heart.”

    “Leave. Before I summon the guards,” Theron ordered.

    “Very well. I shouldn’t like to die tonight,” Ezra said. He turned to the lady and lifted her hand to his lips. “Adieu, milady.” He turned back to Theron. “Until next time, my prince.” He bowed and backed away to disappear in the foliage.

    “I apologize for that, Your Highness,” Theron said, turning to the princess. “I hope he did not disturb you.”
     
  19. The princess had just bent down to inhale the fragrance of a particularly lovely flower when she heard a noise behind her. She regained her full height before turning. She had expected her prince, Lord Theron, but was instead greeted by an unfamiliar face. The man before her stared in a most inappropriate way. His gaze seemed to penetrate her and she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as he just stared. Suddenly out of nowhere he spoke. He apologized for his intrusion, but it was a false apology upon her ears. He said something about no one coming here because of the lack of roses and the gardener being human born. Adaire had no clue what he spoke of, but she played it off as though she did.

    He introduced himself as Ezra, and the name rang a faint chord in the back of her mind. Perhaps Adaire had heard of him before the accident? Maybe. He spoke of a pupil within the castle and then spoke of him being a personal slave. It made her wonder what he had studied under Ezra. Surely a well educated man would not be turned into naught but a slave. Education was well prized to Adaire now, as she may well have to relearn everything she's ever known.

    "I believe that slavery is everyone's choice Ezra, as anything is. If it seems moral to them then they shall do what they please anyways." She intoned quietly.

    Ezra turned in the direction of the castle and asked about the approaching figure. He explained that the prince sometimes used his slave as a double and this worried young Adaire that Theron may someday use him as a duplicate for something important. As the figure approached he appeared to be Lord Theron, but Adaire could only guess. The dark figure suddenly yelled to Ezra and startled her. What had this man done that was so horrible that he was under pain of death?

    "Ezra, I do not believe the prince is as cold as you say him to be. He is a ruler, and our role is never easy." Adaire said. She did not know why she defended the prince as she did, for she did not truly know him. Something told her however, that Prince Theron could be a good man, he just needed to open up.

    As Theron commanded Ezra to leave she watched something dark flash across Ezra's face. The brief look he gave scared her slightly. As he lifted her hand to his lips she longed to wrench her hand away, but knew not to appear rude in front of her betrothed. As he disappeared into the foliage Adaire stepped closer to Theron. That man had made her quite uncomfortable.

    "No, it's fine. He just made me a bit uncomfortable is all," She smiled slightly at Lord Theron, "Please call me Adaire, Lord Theron. These titles disconcert me somewhat."

    Adaire gestured at the bench, "Would you care to sit with me?" she asked as she sat herself. She turned her full body to face him and smiled slightly. "I recieved your flowers. They were very beautiful, and had a very nice meaning." She laughed slightly, "I can remember flower names now."

    After a slightly uncomfortable moment Adaire looked Theron straight in the eye. "Theron, who is Ezra's student, and why is he your slave?"
     
  20. “Of course,” Theron said, “of course…Lady Adaire.” He sat down beside her on the bench and looked around the garden. It had been a very long time since he’d visited his own garden. He remembered a time when gardens had been the prime wooing place for a certain human prince. “I am glad you liked the flowers. I was afraid that you…wouldn’t accept them. I had been rather rude to you. I would like to apologize.”

    When Adaire asked about Ezra’s student, the warmth left Theron’s expression and he glared at the ground for a long moment.

    “Ezra is mad, my lady,” he said. “I’d ask you not to heed a word he says but you can’t remember me let alone trust me so I shall have to tell you what actually happened and hope you find the story believable.

    “A very long time ago, in an exotic land far away there was a human prince named Tavin. He was the eleventh son so he had all of the benefits of being a prince without the fear of ever having to rule. He led a hedonistic life where his only worries were what he would wear to dinner and choosing which woman would share his bed that night.

    “One night, Tavin chose wrong. The woman he took to bed was not a human courtesan but a vampire princess looking for a slave. She made him a vampire, not like us but a human-born—they are weaker than us and cannot use magic. She took him back to her clan where he became a favourite because he was so exotic.

    “Tavin lived as a slave for centuries. He was driven to despair because his weakness made him unable to escape or break free. One night, in desperation, he managed to sneak out. He could not go far because it was near dawn, so he snuck into one of the nobles’ homes. He was caught almost immediately by the lady of the house. She was a kind vampiress, though, and she agreed to hide him.

    “The princess, believing that Tavin had been stolen by one of the noble women out of jealousy, ordered all of the nobles’ homes to be searched. It wasn’t long before he was found and the kind vampiress was executed immediately for treason. Her husband, just returning from a journey, walked in the door to see the soldiers end her life.

    “Guessing at what had happened, for he was a wise elder, her husband took Tavin and fled to a remote village where they were not found. That elder was Ezra and Tavin became his student.

    “Furious at the injustice that he had witnessed, Tavin became determined to become strong so that he could overthrow the prince and rule on his own. He swore he would change the way the clan was ruled. He studied under Ezra learning magic and gaining strength until it was impossible to tell him apart from a normal vampire. He then left Ezra so that he could recruit a rebel army.

    “This is where I enter the story and I’ll have to deface myself to tell it honestly. I hope you won’t think less of me when I am done.

    “I was not born a prince, you see, but a peasant. I was actually quite happy with my lot in life until I lost my family. The humans believed in vampires in those days and believed it their sacred duty to rid the world of us. Being as poor as we were, we lived amongst the humans and they soon began to target us. We went to the prince for help but he refused us and, one by one, my family died at the hands of the humans.

    “When Tavin found me, I had drowned my sorrows so completely that I was incapable of saving myself from the impending morning. He saved my life on the condition that I would join his army and help him become prince.

    “As we recruited a larger and larger army, it became apparent to Tavin that vampires were not ready to accept a human-born prince. He decided to compromise and made me his figurehead. My job was to look good and do what he told me. To make it official, he gave me his royal name. Tavin was just a nickname he’d used since childhood.

    “With me as the face of the revolution and Tavin as the brains, we became immensely popular. Our army became too large for us to manage on our own, neither of us being soldiers, so we made Liam our general.

    “When it came time to do battle, we did well. We achieved everything we’d hoped to. The greatest loss we sustained was that of Tavin, who fell during the battle.

    “When Ezra came to see his student on the throne, we—Liam and I—explained what had happened. The loss, after everything that had happened, drove him mad. He insisted that Tavin was still alive and that I had made him my slave. He went around telling the story to any who would listen. Our government was too fragile to handle such slander so I banished him. He returns periodically and we have to send him away before he starts more rumours. The threat of death is to keep him away for as long as possible. I couldn’t kill a man for having gone mad out of grief.

    “I hope I’ve answered your questions and I hope you believe me,” Theron said. “I’d hate to have told my story for no reason.”
     
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