Night One: Night of Reflecting
Chains rattled against the stone floor of the chamber. The blindfold on his face did little to hinder him. His right ankle was bound by iron and a long link of chains, giving him a range of restricted movement. He knew night had finally come though, he could smell it: the warm wind from inland brought the smell of grass, livestock, flowers, garbage, coal and the one smell that haunted him the most, humans. In the day time, the wind came off the ocean, a breeze that swept up the cliff’s side to rush across the grass. The manor he was being held at sat on the bluffs overlooking the sea. He was sure the dawning sun must have been beautiful, but he would never be able to see it; not and still live as he did. The light of the sun would punish a creature such as he, but even death would have been better than the humiliation he faced.
He was a Sanguinec. A demon of the night, a fallen god, cursed to live as an empty shell. Humans had another word for his kind; vampires. Their kind was a rarity. There were only five true masters of the night: Tomas, Celestell, Luxor, Feng and himself, Cristophel. He was one of the oldest. In ancient days he was powerful. His form dominated all life before him. He walked among Man without fear. No man made weapon, magic or element could harm him. Fire trembled and bowed before his will, his to command. It was this terrifying power that had led to his imprisonment. Humanity could not kill him and he could not be destroyed by their pathetic magicians. Even sunlight seemed to bow before his full strength. And now what had he been reduced to? Cristophel hated this form, the weak body they forced him to live in.
With the help of powerful spells and magic, they placed a powerful curse upon his vampiric form reducing him to a flimsy, human quality vessel. The mark of this curse stayed with him in the form of a dark crucifix, branded into the flesh of his lower abdomen. If he so much as tried to use any ounce of power, the mark would spread, wind like an inky snake, growing and twisting around his limbs, each moment absolute agony of the highest degree. Should the mark cover even half his body he would pass out from the pain. It was a magical prison, bound by the life sacrifice of humanity’s most powerful magicians. They had him at a standstill.
Cristophel crawled to the entrance of his stone chamber. The inside was void of a bed, or any other belongings. His new masters did not feel his kind deserved the luxury of comfort. Adding to his discomfort were the shackles at his wrists and ankles. The shackles were encased lead; the metal was pure silver, inscribed with as many magical seals that could fit in the inner rim. Around his neck he wore a collar similar to the shackles. Lead, covered in silver, inscribed with seals. The shackles chaffed and his raw neck burned, but there was no way to ease his wounds. His self proclaimed masters would never take them off. They would have been fools to do so. He would snap their necks, open them up a crimson smile and dance in the fountain of blood they would create. Even if it pained him, it would be a small sacrifice to cease the breathing of those that held him prisoner, confined like an animal. He didn’t doubt though that in time he would completely lose his mind. His throat, chest and stomach all burned with hunger. His last meal had been a few weeks ago. They brought in some filthy goat for him to feed on. Its blood tasted flat and sour. He still consumed it though, with a voracity of a starving man in the desert.
The cool night air swept across his face and blew his silky strands of hair that he knew would be glowing silver in the light of the night. He usually liked his hair short but it had grown down to his knees. Cristophel crawled from the safety of the stone chamber and felt his palms touch the soft blades of grass. From the times he had his blind fold off, he knew his prison was actual a beautiful garden. The stone room was located at the back, away from the main house, near the cliff. The surrounding area was yards of grass and beds of flowers. A cobbled pathway swiveled through the garden, it lead to a small pond and a bridge. A few trees, some apple, others carrying no fruit, were sparsely placed near the cliff and around the garden. There was no fence where the earth ended; just a sheer drop and the call of the sea below.
The manor itself was huge, and styled after a Japanese house of the edo period but refurnished and touched up with modern day work; they still kept sliding doors where it led from the garden to the inside. Cristophel had never been allowed inside. Sometimes if they wanted to show him off, they cleaned him up, brushed his hair, dressed him in a silk kimono and led people to the garden to see their pet vampire in a “natural habitat”. It sickened him. They should have been cowering in his presence.
From across the garden he heard the doors slide open then two sets of footsteps. One heavy, one lighter. Cristophel knew who it was before they could say anything. He could smell their scent on the wind. Putrid humans.
Victoria Fairwen, mistress to the master of the house, Betram Hightower, was the owner of the lighter steps. He could hear her heels clacking on the cobbled path and smell the perfume that hung around her and burned his nose. Beside her, he smelled a man that carried the stench of cigarettes. His gait was slightly off, a limp. When Cristophel had his mask pulled off, in front of him stood Victoria and Betram’s top thug, Akiomora “Akira” Funei. Akira smiled at him with a dark glimmer in his eyes. Cristophel crawled backwards, pressing himself against the stone step that led to his chamber. Akira chuckled and placed his hands in his pockets.
“konnbawa, Cris,” he said. Cristophel did not greet him back.
Akira walked towards him, completely at ease. His short, dark hair was spiked, his shoes polished and his suit pressed. Cristophel looked at Victoria who licked her lips nervously. She seemed to sweat under his glare.
“Let’s not dally around,” she said in an English accent. She and Bertram were both from the United English Empire. “Hold it down already”
“Why? It can’t do much. Watch,” said Akira.
Cristophel curled his legs up to his chest and gave the tanned man a glare, bearing his dainty fangs. But Akira did not falter as he approached him and ruffled his hair. The vampire hissed, making Victoria gasp and flinch but leaving Akira unfazed.
“Come now, be a good little dog.” Akira launched a kick that hit him just at the corner of his chin.
Cristophel tasted blood in his mouth. He spit it out and snarled at Akira who gave an amused chuckle. Many of the humans dared to hit Cristophel. Unafraid because of the curse that trapped him and the pact of blood that ensured his slavery to Betram. Akira certainly wasn’t the only one that liked to kick him around. If he wasn’t getting harassed by him then Bertram’s wife, Helen, liked to take his place when she was in a bad mood. She was bitter and almost as full of hate as Cristophel was. Helen hated Victoria, who carried no shame about her ongoing affair with Bertram. The two of them seemed to be at war. Not over Bertram’s love, but his money. Cristophel found it amusing; the only joy he had left was watching their suffering.
“You shouldn’t hit him in the face. Bertram won’t be happy,” Victoria said.
“Calm the hell down, he’ll heal. By the time they display him, there won’t even be a bruise left,” Akira responded, turning back to the vampire. “Or are you saying that because you like his pretty face?” He had a look of disgust on his face.
Not all vampires were graced with beauty, but even in his vampiric form, he was strong jawed, lean and handsome. With the curse, he had become slender, lithe, with a softer kind of beauty. When humans were brought to gaze upon him, the women and some men gasped at the sight of him. Not because of what he was, but at his beauty. By moonlight his pale skin and silver locks nearly glowed. The paleness of his features made his lapis blue eyes stand out like burning gems of sapphire.
Akira leaned down and took him by the neck. Cristophel could fight back, but depraved of feedings, he couldn’t do much. He lacked the energy. Betram was too afraid to risk giving him access to a full feeding of blood, even though he was his Master. So they kept him weak. And drawing on his vampiric powers would only do more harm, so Cristophel had no choice but to endure. Akira knew this too. It was why he had an arrogant smile on his face every time he came to see him. Akira smirked, but Cristophel did not turn away. He looked at his dark eyes and could smell the blood just beneath his skin. He wanted to spill it all over the pink flowers that blossomed in the garden.
“That look in your eyes. I hate it.” Before Akira said another word, he gripped the chain around Cristophel’s neck and flung him to the ground before kneeling and pinning him down.
“You think you’re still running things vampire? You’re just something to past the time, an animal in our little freak show. There is no salvation for you,” said Akira. “You’ll spend eternity as a slave.”
The male lifted a fist and struck him. Pain shot up his nose and inched its way to the front of his head. He growled and struggled against Akira but the male held him by the chain at his neck.
“If it was up to me, I’d just bury you in the earth and leave you there. But what fun is that when you can have one of the greatest beasts to walk the Earth, as your own little pet?” he said. “You’re the lucky one Cris. It’s your other little fucking fang-friends who won’t be. We’ll tie them to stakes and watch them burn if they ever dare to cross the great council.”
Cristophel hated hearing about the council. It was they who cast the curse a hundred years ago. Of course, the magicians who did so lost their lives, but all magicians were the same to him. Trash. Give humans a little power, and they thought they thought they were gods. They had no idea what true power was till Cristophel set their world aflame.
Breath, the smell of tobacco, blew against Cristophel’s face as Akira leaned in closer.
“I hear one of you is a beautiful woman. Celestell, right? They call her the Beast Queen, the Empress of the Wild.” Akira chuckled. “I bet she has a nice set of tits. You blood suckers ever do it with each other?” he smiled. “Don’t worry, before we kill her, I’m sure they’ll let me find out how good a ride she is”
Other than narrowing his eyes, Cristophel did not treat his captor to anymore of a reaction. The remaining four vampires were all strong and elusive, including Celestell. They were cautious, unlike his former self. If they had caught any of them, he would have known. It would have only satisfied Akira to get a stir out of him. He and Celestell weren’t exactly friends, but they had a past. None of the other vampire lords approved of the way he flaunted his power and blatantly tore through human cities, attracting attention to their kind. They wouldn’t risk themselves trying to save him. Vampires had no friends, or allies. They couldn’t even trust each other.
“That’s enough. I need it. Look at my hands, my face. Let’s do what we came here for,” Victoria said, her voice wavering.
“Alright already.” Akira said.
Akira took hold of Cristophel’s jaw between his thumb and index and flashed his teeth. One of them was gold. He released him with a push and got up so he could move around and grab his arms. Cristophel did not struggle. He knew what would be coming and there was nothing he could do to stop them. Akira pulled his head to the side, exposing the long line of his neck. Beneath his cold flesh was only a sluggish pulse. Victoria approached, small hands digging into the breast pocket of her pink suit jacket. Her skirt matched and was shorter than any business woman would have worn. Her hair was dark and curly, her lips a perfect pout. She was a bit pudgy but her figure was filled out nicely. She was the total opposite of Helen who was tall, skinny, blonde and stern.
“You’ve got him tight, yes?” Victoria said, her English accent a bit thicker with her growing jitters.
“Yes, yes, come on before I change my mind.”
The vampire knew what would come next. A flash of metal appeared in Victoria’s hand, a blade. The Englishwoman kneeled, smoothing her skirt down as if to keep her modesty intact. But her face gave away the monster inside of her. Her eyes were showing too much white, perspiration beading her forehead, mouth open and breast heaving gently as she began to pant. Her face was full of desire.
“Showing such an ugly face to me…,” Cristophel whispered.
His voice was coarse from the lack of use. He rarely spoke. The humans didn’t deserve to be graced with his words and he wouldn’t satisfy them with begging or cries of pain. This time would be no different. The vampire was tense but he didn’t bother to waste his energy on struggling. He knew what Victoria wanted. She heard his words and for a split moment, showed doubt and remorse, but it soon faded away. She crawled between his legs, a flash of silver appearing in her hand. Cristophel was dressed in a white kinagashi, an informal style of kimono; it was far easier for the humans to manage him if they didn’t have to fight to dress him in anything more. Victoria opened his robes and pressed the edge of the blade to his pale chest. Her shaky hand cut deeper than she had to. Cristophel knew it was too deep because he didn’t feel the pain right away. His blood was dark, and spilled slowly from the wound. He knew from experience, vampire blood was tart and bitter. Nothing about it tasted good, but she wasn’t drinking from him for the taste.
With lips pressed over his cut, she began to suck at his chest. Pain flared from the wound, but he didn’t react. Her tongue caressed the edges, probing the wound and eliciting sharp pangs of agony that made him want to rip the wet muscle right from her mouth. He could feel her searching, digging inside his wound; invading his body. But he didn’t scream or fight. His stomach rolled with disgust. He wanted to leave that place, think about the times where he had the freedom to roam the countryside, gliding through whole towns like the shadow of death. The pain kept him fully aware however. He could hear Victoria moaning softly, the dark blood spilling down her chin.
“Alright, that’s enough. Don’t drink too much of that shit or you’ll get sick,” Akira said.
He was right. Although vampire’s blood could have regenerative effects, increase brain activity, heighten senses, it was incredibly addicting and too much at one time, or drinking it over long periods of time would cause a human to become ill. The blood would act as a virus, breaking down her living tissue slowly. Long term effects varied. Some even became mad. Revenants who hunted down humans, craving blood. She could fall into a coma or go completely insane from brain damage. Cristophel didn’t care which number of the horrible health complications took her; he just wanted her to suffer. He wondered if Victoria was just another stupid human, addicted to power she couldn’t have. In the end, she had one Fate. And when she finally began to deteriorate, he wanted to be there to watch her slowly rot away.
The Englishwoman pulled back from him. Her eyes, hair and skin were glossy. Her lips were more flushed than before. She wasn’t the trembling addict she had been seconds before. Akira chuckled and released Cristophel. He took her hand and helped her stand before pulling her close and shoving his tongue in her mouth. She kissed him back with eagerness. Cristophel sneered, panting softly. He felt weak. On top of not feeding him, Victoria was sneaking in every so often to feed from him. If he confessed what she was doing, none of them would believe him. They would only see the vampire trying to sabotage. Plus, he had no reason to tell them, that would only help Victoria and he wanted to see the damage she’d cause later. The only thing it cost him was his pride, and they had already taken that from him.
Victoria gave a soft moan. The last thing Cristophel wanted to do was watch them suck at each other’s face. He wanted them to leave him be already. And as if they had heard his wish, Akira gave Victoria a smack on her ass, making her giggle and yelp before they both started back for the entrance to the garden. The vampire waited till their backs disappeared behind the sliding door before crawling to the still waters of the pond. He pulled the robe of his kinagashi over his chest. His cut would heal slowly but it would still be faster than what a human could do.
Cristophel touched the tips of his fingers to the water’s surface, ripples spreading softly from his touch. He dragged himself to the edge of the pond to peer in. He looked away from his reflection. He was pleasing to the eye, but at that moment, he couldn’t bear to look at himself. He felt…dirty. Dipping both hands in the water, he cupped his hands and brought them back up so he could wash his face. The clear water didn’t help wash the stain he felt was left on him. Nothing but the blood of those who enslaved him could wash away the pain and hatred he felt now.
He looked up at the moon and swore. One day they would pay.