FAREWELL AND HELLO
Jace was not beside me when I awoke the following night. I was alone inside the silk-cushioned coffin. I pushed the lid up and sat. My throat burned badly in thirst again, as if I never drank for a week.
I need to drink, I thought desperately. My heart pounded inside my chest. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked myself.
“You need blood, my fledgling,” he said, voice came behind me.
I stepped out of the coffin and turned to him. “Am I going to feel this always?”
“Yes… so now, bite,” he murmured and offered his wrist.
I shook my head and embraced him. Instead, I bit his lovely throat.
I swooned with the addicting pleasure sipping through my body. Familiar ecstasy rushed through me, satiating my thirst.
After ten years of being with Ceres, they came across a fifteen-year-old blonde girl.
“What are you doing in the street, lass? It is already late for you to wander around. It is dangerous for you,” Ceres said.
The blonde shrugged. “I ran away from home.”
“Let us send you back,” Jace said.
The girl shook her head fiercely. “I do not want. I no longer belong there.”
Jace knelt on one knee, meeting the girl’s eyes, “You are going home. You will live your life the way you should be—”
“You can be with us, little girl,” Ceres interrupted.
Jace stood up. “What are you saying? We cannot bring her along.”
Ceres smiled at him and then to the girl. “Of course, we can,” she said and turned to the little girl. “What is your name, lass?”
The girl smiled at her. “Angelique.”
He let me go, halting the memories.
Still overwhelmed, I said, “Why can’t I stop myself from drinking from you.”
The fang marks on his throat disappeared at once. He smiled. “You need to get ready for work.”
Oh… right, work? Who am I working for? I no longer require food and as long as there’re humans around, I can live. I laughed. “Right.” I work because I need to live so now what’s the sense? I worked to support my parents. “My parents… Can I say goodbye to them? Even for the last time?”
He nodded gravely. “Tonight, after work.”
I stared at the lighted mirror, looking at my face. Human thoughts, I was able to shut off. Then I smiled, seeing the two elongated eyeteeth, not so obvious for humans to notice. I turned my attention to my ever long fingernails. They were sharp to touch. I wondered how sharp they could be. I looked at my pale wrist, and with a fingernail, I drew a line of blood, wounding myself.
Someone shrieked. “Oh my God, what do you think you’re doing, Rhavelle Mersine?” a fellow of mine asked. It was Judith, wide-eyed, gaping.
I smiled at her and pulled her to face me. Fixing my eyes on hers, I said, “I was just admiring my newly polished fingernails, my dear.” Although my fingernails were colorless.
She smiled back. “And the color is great, crimson,” she agreed. “You are almost up. Rebecca sent me to advise you.”
“Do not worry, I’m almost ready.”
She nodded and left the dressing room.
God… her blood tempted me. I could not almost control myself. “God forbid, I do not want to kill her.”
“Kill who, Rhavelle?” Leila, another fellow of mine, asked. She had finished her song. “I am sure all of us want to. She’s a horrible old whore!”
I laughed, knowing she meant Rebecca. “Yes, she is! Perhaps, one day I will,” I agreed and left to take the stage.
Jace and I immediately left after I had one victim. He carried me in his arms but was as silent as the night.
“Are you all right, my sire?” I asked tenderly. “Is there something wrong?”
“I just worry about you. You are going to part with them for the rest of your existence. They cannot know what you are now, Rhavelle. We belong to the shadows that we cannot interact with the living. We are dangerous for them,” he replied. His voice resonated on his chest.
“I am fine, I guess. I know, they can never see me again. But I can always see them, right? Even from far away? Will you allow me to?” I said as sadness started to embrace my heart.
He took a deep breath and sighed. “Yes, but that’s all. It’s hard but you have to.”
After three hours of being airborne, I finally saw our house.
Our house suited our middle class family. It was just a two-story, plainly painted house with enough windows and doors. It was comfortable, living in there until my father lost his job as a chauffeur for a wealthy family. My mother was just a dressmaker, whom did not make much money. So I was forced to work far away from home, into a cabaret as a singer for people who wanted to be entertained.
Memories… damn it! I cursed silently. My heart ached upon recalling the past. And do not cry, Rhavelle. You will only horror them, seeing blood as your tears.
We landed silently behind a tree. I could see their shadows, moving about the house, doing human things.
“You already know what to do, my dear. Be careful not to scare them. Do not shed tears,” Jace reminded.
I nodded, trying to numb myself. “But you have to come with me.”
“Of course, if you want me to. Let’s go then.”
We knocked on the front door. At once it opened. And it was my dearest mother who came to greet us.
“Mi unica hija Rhavella!” She came to embrace me. Her warm flesh against mine summoned another pang of thirst in me. I wanted to drain her but she was my mother. Oh God, I am such a monster! She let me go, “You are cold,” and yelled, “Alfredo, Rhavella is here!”
“Mama, I missed you so much!” I said and moved to follow her inside. But an invisible barrier hit me, not allowing me to enter the house. So I am an uninvited demon now?
“Por dios por santo, mi hija, why don’t you come inside?” she said.
And the barrier was gone. I stepped inside. “Mama, I—I have someone with me.”
Jace moved to show. “Buenas tardes, señora. I am Jace,” he said respectfully.
“Oh…” my mother said and eyed me.
“Mi amigo, Mama,” I said. “He’s been helping me.”
Although still skeptical, “Come in, hijo. It must be cold out there,” she invited.
Jace nodded and stepped inside. “Gracias.”
“Mi hija,” my father said and rushed to embrace me. How I missed to be in his arms. I could still remember, even when I was already twelve years old, he would still carry me in his arms like I was still five. At fifty-five, my father still looked strong.
“I missed you badly, Papa.”
“We, too, hija. We pray every day you’ll be fine. Theresa, bring Rhavella something to eat,” he said to my mother, who left immediately to the kitchen. Then he noticed Jace. “Who are you?”
“Señor, my name is Jace,” Jace introduced himself.
“He’s my friend, Papa,” I said. “He accompanied me here to see you.”
“Glad you did, young man.” My father smiled, gesturing the sofa nearby. He sat on it. Jace moved to follow him, sitting on the opposite one.
I eyed Jace. He murmured, “It’s time,” barely opening his mouth.
But I clearly heard it. Time for them to forget me. “I’ll go see Mama in the kitchen, see what I can do to help.”
I moved, although it was hard for me to do this.
My mother was there, mixing something in a bowl. She looked up. “Oh, mi hija, you are here, why?”
I pulled a chair for me to sit and gestured her to the nearest one. “I have to tell you something, Mama.”
She sat and stared at me. “You seem to have a grave predicament, Rhavella. You can always tell Mama, you know.” You seem sick. What is going on with you? “Sorry if you have to celebrate your birthday alone, my child. Belated happy birthday.”
I nodded and sighed, afraid to meet her eyes and bend her to my will. How could I charm my own mother into forgetting me? But I did it anyway. I met her lovely brown eyes and said, “I am going away, Mama, but you know I’ll be fine. Jace will take care of me. You will miss me because you know I’ll never be back. But not to worry a thing, I’ll always be in your heart. I love you. I forever do. So now, forget that I have been around today. You are preparing food for Papa and you two are going to eat happily, cherishing your lives together…” I took a deep breath and suppressed my tears. “Continue to cook for Papa,” I said and left at once.
Jace was already outside, waiting for me. Then I burst into tears. He cradled my head and embraced me.
“That’s the right thing to do, my dear. They are at peace now,” he murmured against my hair. Then he pulled away and stared at me. “You can always see them from afar.”
I just nodded, knowing he was right. I looked at the window, seeing them eat and laugh heartily. My mortal part was now officially dead. Now, I have to live the life of the undead.
“But we will still support them, Rhavella. Their bank account will never be empty,” he assured.
Oh… I don’t know what I’ll do without you, my sire. “Thank you. Call me Rhavelle please. Rhavella is just their adoring name for me.”
Jace laughed. “Do not worry a thing, I’ll see to it. Hearing them call you Rhavella makes me adore them. They really love you, you know.”
“I know,” I said sadly. “I know.”
“Let’s go, then?”
But to my surprise, we headed for the opposite direction. “Where are we going, Jace?”
“We have to pay Gunther a visit,” he replied emotionlessly.
Damn right! To his blood-brother!
Gunther’s abode was more than an hour to reach. His house was not an old ruined castle but an astonishing elegant mansion. Three stories high, it towered over us.
“So you don’t really have to live in a rotting castle, Jace,” I remarked, still in wonder.
He smiled. “I do not want to use my prowess to acquire such things, Rhavelle.”
I was stunned. Of course power could make you wealth-greedy, too. “Oh… so he’s bad… we have to leave.”
“Too late for that. Since we crossed his territory, he already knew we’re here. Every one of us is expected to visit the Town Lord,” he explained.
Oh damn… old feudal life! “So… what if Gunther head for your town?”
“I shall pay Jace a visit, too,” the man on the front door said. “I’ve been waiting for you to come, my dear blood-brother. It’s been quite a while.”
He was a stunningly gorgeous young man. His black mane of hair suited him well. His grayish-blue eyes were alluring. Master Lionel knew quite well how to choose his fledglings.
“It’s been only a year, Gunther. You know very well I could never ignore our laws.”
“So vampires have laws, too?” I asked, unable to hold up my tongue.
Gunther laughed. “Your fledgling is quite new, Jace. Less than a week, I guess?”
“I was created yesterday,” I replied. “So what are the laws?”
He approached me, “You are such a brave little girl…” and moved to touch my face but my sire grabbed his hand. Gunther was forced to lower it down. “Why don’t you two come in for a little conversation?”
Jace nodded and we followed Gunther inside the house. It was even more elegant than the outside. Paintings that cost a fortune hung on its walls. A large hearth was there although unlit. He seemed to be alone in this huge house.
“Are you alone in here?” I asked while I sat on the couch he gestured us to.
Jace grabbed my hand, stopping my inquiry.
Gunther laughed softly. “Do not stop your dearest fledgling, Jace. Let her say what she wants to say.” He turned to me. “I am mostly alone. My fellows went out to hunt.”
“So what are the laws?” I incessantly asked.
“Mademoiselle, laws like… do not kill the innocents, just the evil doer… always pay a Town Lord a visit… just like that…” he explained.
“Oh…” I said, finally decided to shut my mouth up.
“You haven’t even introduced us, Jace,” Gunther remarked.
Jace sighed heavily. “Gunther, this is Rhavelle, my fledgling. Rhavelle, my blood-three-hundred-year-old-brother Gunther.”
Hesitatingly, I smiled at him.
Seductively, Gunther smiled back. I like your name, Rhavelle. What are you doing with my blood-rotten-castle-dweller-brother Jace? “Too much emphasize for our two-century gap, Jace.”
His conveyed statement stunned me. So our thoughts were not closed to each other, unlike me and Jace. He’s my sire, Gunther. I should always be with him, I conveyed back.
“We just visited Rhavelle’s family for farewell,” Jace said as if to explain our presence in his town.
Not really, Rhavelle. You can live here with me if you want to, not inside a ruined castle by the graveyard. “I thought you intended to visit me, Jace.”
Jace rose from the seat, still holding my hand. I followed. “We have to go. If we do not, we will not make it before sunrise.”
“You can stay here if you want to. It is safer here,” he offered. Far safer than his rotten castle, right?
Jace shook his head. “We can’t, Gunther.”
I am safe with my sire, I replied.
Gunther shrugged his strong-looking shoulders. I could say that he, too, looked strong like Jace. “If I can’t force the two of you to stay, well then, farewell for now, my brother…” He eyed me. “Rhavelle.” He sent us to the door.
I nodded. Jace lifted me up and we soared.
“You should really teach her to fly, Jace,” Gunther advised.
Jace just laughed and to me he said, “Of course, I will.”
We reached his castle few minutes before dawn. Light was already showing in the sky, invading it. We ran toward the dungeon, down to our coffin.
I only felt safe when he pulled the lid down and cradled my head on his chest. And slumber took over.
The following night, I decided not to come to work. I decided to focus on my training to become a stronger vampire.
We were inside the forest again. I was chasing him while he was explaining our unusualness.
“You already know that Embrace—the act of creating another vampire or simply exchanging blood—severed the ability to summon each other. So that’s why we can never hear each other’s thoughts,” he said, origin of his voice was unknown. He seemed to be everywhere.
“Yes,” I replied, running everywhere, looking for him.
Then he showed up in front of me, baring his fangs. “Our somehow elongated eyeteeth or fangs will always be there, although we could hide it with our beautiful smile.” He flashed his attractive smile. Then he went off, running away.
I ran after him, chasing. “What else?”
“We maintain the physical appearance the day we die—or turned. Our hair and nails never grow. If cut, it will grow to the same length the day after,” he explained while hopping up and down the trees.
So I could never change my hair length. “I’m forever like this,” I murmured, almost to myself.
Then he clashed into me. We rolled on the ground, laughing. I was on top of him. “Our heart is still beating, but too faint for humans to feel. Have a steady slow beats, which is why we could always be mistaken as dead.”
I could feel his heart’s steady beat. It was indeed too faint for normal senses to hear and feel. “But it could race.”
He nodded and rolled over so he was on top of me. “We breathe not because we have to, but because we used to.”
I suppressed my breath. It astonished me that I didn’t even feel the painful need to take in air even I surpassed one hundred in my counting. Then I breathed again, realizing it didn’t make much difference at all.
“Our lungs no longer function the way they should be when we were still alive. The process of taking in and breathing out air only expands them but our body will not get any benefit from it.”
I laughed once again. “So I could just jump off the sea and never come out?”
He nodded, “We could hide underwater indefinitely,” and disappeared at once. “But beware of dead man’s blood.” He was already far from my reach.
I could never really surpass his speed. “But why?” I ran toward him again. “It’s still blood.”
He guffawed. “Poison to us, Rhavelle. Once your prey is dead, you have to let go.”
“Oh, I really have to remember that.”
“The longer it is dead, the more poisonous it becomes.”
“What if I drank one, what will happen?” I asked, leaping from tree to tree, still chasing after him.
“You will feel sick and will be unconscious. Only fresh blood can revive you.”
Dead man’s blood, how disgusting… “What else?”
He grabbed me from behind. “You and your master will always have an Eternal Bond, a blood-tie, wherein although you can never hear each other’s thoughts, you’ll always feel if each other’s in danger.”
I turned around and faced him. “One of the greatest things I ever heard as with our unusualness,” I whispered and bit his lips.
I savored his blood. Same kind of pleasure overwhelmed me. His lips moved and bit me. Our blood mixed up and it was another kind of pleasure coursing into me. I drowned into another memory of him.
Ceres died of coven war. She just turned the eighteen-year-old lass Angelique. Angelique then became his constant companion. After their migration, the coven was formed with Angelique becoming his right hand. But after fifteen-years of being together, an astonishing revelation shook Angelique to the core.
Jace never loved her. Not the way she wanted him to be. Not the way he loved Ceres.
I gasped, as if I needed a lungful of air. “Am I going to meet Angelique?” I asked.
“If you want.”
“I want to become your member,” I declared. “I want to fight for our territory.”
He laughed softly. “You already are, and so with all of the known vampires within this town.”
“Those who settle here. Some just passed by, relocating. Some just visit.”
“How many are known here?”
“Twelve, including the both of us,” he replied. “Now, try to hit me, anywhere.”
Oh, great, now I’m going to attack you. “When can I meet them?” I tried to punch his face but only air met my fist. He was already behind me. He grabbed my arms and forced it behind my back.
Then he whispered, “Tonight if you want to.”
I tried to break free from his grip but I couldn’t. He was monstrously strong, much stronger than me. “I could never really hit you, you know.”
He laughed and whispered in my ear, “You can if you want to.”
I struggled, forcing my wrist away but his hands would not let go. “I am just a three-day-old vampire. How could I possibly hit a century-old one like you?”
“Lame excuse. Never think of the age of your enemy,” he said and suddenly grabbed my throat and forced me on the ground.
My head hit the soil. For a while, I was stunned. I shook the dizziness off and then he was gone again. “What now?” I asked, getting on my feet. Damn right, where are you now?
He stood there, near the fallen mahogany, with an axe on his hand. He grinned.
I gasped. “W-what are you going to do with that?” I asked, almost in panic.
He shrugged. “We can never grow back any severed part of our body,” he murmured, swung the axe in the air and cut off his left arm. Blood sprinkled on his face and the severed arm fell on the ground.
Oh my God! “What the hell—? Are you insane?” I asked, wide-eyed. I picked up his severed arm, his blood oozed out of it. Then as if insanity took over me, I ran away with it, laughing. “Get your arm back, Jace!” I wanted him to chase me this time.
But he didn’t. “The wound must be healed with the severed part, Rhavelle, or else it will die,” he said instead.
I turned around. Alarm was painted on his handsome face. I looked at the arm I was holding and it was slowly turning blue. I rushed back to him, replaced the arm back and let it attach itself. “I must be a fool, Jace, forgive me,” I whispered.
Gradually, the arm healed; its color came back. Then the wound line of red faded, as if it had never been there.
I buried my face on his shoulder and murmured, “I never meant to harm you, Jace.”
He stroked my hair. “I know that—”
I hit him. I punched his stomach and heard him groan in pain. “I did it! At last!”
But I was thrown away onto the ground. He rushed into me, eyes glowing scarlet. “How unjust of you? Your victim is wounded.” Then he bit my throat.
His mouth against my throat sent pleasure and pain all over my body. I knew what I did was unfair but I knew he was just taunting me.
I gasped when he let me go. Then I pulled him back into my arms and bit his throat. The metallic sweetness of his blood brought bliss all over me. His blood was so delicious to drain.
His father was on the bed, dying. He knew his father had a terminal malignant disease. All his life, he wanted to please the old man but he never even recognized his efforts. He never saw his dictator military father as weak as this. He was always the disciplinarian that his mother could do nothing about.
“M-my child,” his father stammered. “I am so sorry… for everything…”
Jace didn’t reply. He suppressed his long buried tears, knowing it was blood. It had been fifteen years since he departed their house to finally live on his own. Fifteen long years, he hated his father.
His father grabbed something from the drawer of the side table and handed it out to him. It was his toy—a wooden carriage. He was just ten when his father threw it away and destroyed it. Because he didn’t want Jace to play. He wanted him to study. He wanted Jace to be perfect. “Forgive me for destroying this, my lad.”
Jace rushed into his father and embraced him. “I have forgiven you, Father. I love you,” he murmured.
“Jacen, my lad… I only want what’s best for you. I love you, too, my son.”
He pulled away and bit his own wrist. “You have to drink, Father.”
Although horrified, his seventy-year-old father agreed.
After a while, Jace smiled, wiping the blood from his father’s lips. He stared at his eyes. “Now, Father, you shall feel well now. You shall live long with Mother. You shall always know I love you but you are never going to see me again. So now, when Mother comes, you shall embrace her and tell her you love her,” he said and left the room.
His mother rushed into his arms upon seeing him. He embraced her tightly, but not tight enough to hurt her. Then he said, meeting her eyes, “Father is well now. I love you and always remember that. You are never going to see me again but you’ll live long. You’ll miss me but you know I will be fine.” He left their house, with the wooden carriage on his hand.
He turned his father into a vampire? “My God, Jace…” I murmured upon letting him go. “Did your father turned into one of us?”
Calmly, he shook his head. “No, Rhavelle,” he said. “I merely healed him.”
I sighed in relief. “So our blood can cure?”
He nodded. “But we can never revive the dead.”
That would be horrible, resurrecting the dead. I shuddered. “I never thought of doing that. Then what happened?”
He drew his breath and sighed. “They lived for another twenty years. They are in peace now.”
I was glad for them.
“So, are you ready?” he asked.
I was confused. I frowned.
“To meet your coven fellows.”
His memories swept me away that I forgot about meeting them. “Let’s go, then.”
He lifted me and we took off.
We landed on the farthest part of the nearby graveyard. In there was a crypt.
“The coven meeting place?” I asked in confirmation.
He nodded and guided me down.
Since we could see in absolute darkness, there was no kind of light or fire in there. We traced our way deep down, guided by the narrow walls. Then we saw the wide hallway wherein immortals gathered. Upon seeing Jace, they bowed in respect.
At once, a beautiful blonde lady with deep blue eyes approached Jace and bowed to him. “Master Jace, it’s been two days. I was worried about you.”
Jace smiled and kissed her cheeks. “Not to worry, Angelique. I am well.”
A pang of immediate jealousy stabbed my heart upon seeing how Jace talked to her. But I knew Jace doesn’t love her. But she loved him.
Since I learned how to cloak my mind, I was almost at peace, not hearing other people’s thoughts.
“I am glad, you are fine, Master. What happened?” she asked and eyed me.
Jace came to my side and held my hand. “Angelique, this is Rhavelle, my fledgling.”
Angelique’s eyes widened. “You created a fledgling? After one hundred years?”
Calmly, Jace continued, “Rhavelle, this is Angelique, my right hand.”
She held out her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Rhavelle.” I am a fifty-year-old immortal. Had been his constant company for fifty-three years.
I smiled and accepted her hand. I know, Angelique. His blood told me. “Pleased to meet you, too, Angelique.”
She glared at me and let my hand go. I can see that you’ve been drinking a lot from my master.
Yes, but I can’t help it. He’s my sire.
“I know what you are doing, Angelique,” Jace warned. “Rhavelle, I’d like you to meet your other fellows,” he distracted me. Obviously, he noticed how I and Angelique stared at each other.
Eight other immortals gathered around us.
“Introduce yourselves to your new fellow,” Jace commanded.
The man with red hair moved forward and held out his hand. “My name is Marcel, the third-in-command in this coven. It’s an honor to meet you, Rhavelle.”
I accepted it and smiled at him. “Honor to meet you, too, Marcel.”
Marcel was three years older than Angelique but he was newer in the coven. My other fellows’ names were: Erika, Amarna, Eric, Arbela, Mauricio, Simon and Andrei.
“Where is Dionne, Angelique?” Jace asked. “She should be here.”
She merely shrugged. “I do not know, Master. She’s been doing other things.”
Jace sighed. “You should learn how to subdue your fledgling. She should always be with her mistress.”
Angelique nodded. “I will, Master.”
Jace and I decided to leave for now to quench our thirst.
We landed on top of the church bell tower.
“Now, you should learn how to feed on the evil doers,” he said, eyeing the passing crowd.
“Do I have to read their minds to know if they committed a grave sin?” I inquired.
He nodded and leaped down the tower. I followed him, landing silently on the ground.
We hid behind a column upon seeing a young man with head screaming with guilt.
Oh holy goodness, that whore was great. My wife is going to kill me if she knows about this. Of course she will not.
“Adulterer!” I hissed in anger. I looked at Jace, waiting for his permission.
At once, I lunged at the man. My eyes burned in hate. I bit his throat, ruthlessly. He screamed but not for long. I let him drop on the ground, unconscious.
I dragged him to Jace’s side and bit my finger. I let my blood drop on his bite marks. Within seconds, it was gone.
“Is he going to live?” I asked my master.
He shrugged. “I hope so. If not, good for him.”
I laughed. I suddenly remembered something. “I haven’t seen you feed since.”
“I am no longer required to feed every night, my dear.”
“Oh… great… you must be really strong, my sire,” I remarked.
He laughed and lifted me up and shot to the air. “I am not as strong as you think. My own sire, Master Lionel, is already a thousand. Can you imagine his power? He’s ten times stronger than me.”
My eyes widened. “Thousand! Great! Isn’t he tired of living that very long life?”
“Not sure. But some are even twice as his age.”
I shuddered. “How old is the oldest among us?”
“We only know one. Master Stefan. Two thousand, so ancient, since the Roman Empire.”
Oh my goodness! “It’s really been a long time. Have you met him?”
“No… none of us did. Master Lionel probably but he doesn’t tell us.”
“So old…” I murmured against his chest, burying my face. “I want to learn to fly like you.”
“Of course you will.”