a novel by Asia Ralaia Schiegoh

"He would never allow such a thing to happen, Hel". Constantine shook his

head, sitting up from the gold-plated desk that was piled with scrolls. Many of them had spells and such craft written on the parchment, as it was all he was reading these days.

His sister followed him as he stalked out of the grand bedchamber and into the ivory hallway, knowing he was headed towards Cassandra's nursery. The baby always wailed for her father around the time he left for Hunting. "Of course he would, Kostya", she countered simply. "He would do anything for his only son. And to do it so that Dmitri's greatest plan to-date could be crushed? Father would love it."

Dismissing the slave girls from the chamber Constantine bent into the handcrafted bassinet. It had been prepared for the girl some days before the two of them sailed off for Athens, and though he had been truly delighted at the golden gift he knew somehow that Irune would have been even more so. She would have been overjoyed with the gesture of love.

His love, his Irune, now dead. Even after five months it was difficult for him to believe that she had slipped from his fingers so easily, that her life had been taken so quickly. Her mortality was fragile as ever, and each moment of the passing months he wondered why in Satan's name he had not turned her while he still could.

But the answer was evident. He was afraid to take away that special part of her.

The present came back to him once he felt a comforting finger wipe away from his cheekbone. Looking up from his aching hands that grasped the bars of the bassinet he saw the blood on his sister's thumb. For the sin of the Devil, he was weeping. The girl meant too much to him.

And Helemis, that dear sister he adored so much, embraced him then, pulling his now limp body of muscle into her lithe arms. He wept there, on her shoulder, along with his wailing child. She hushed him gently, kindly petting his curls as he sobbed, telling him sweetly that there was nothing to worry about. "You love her, little brother; I know you do. I can see it every time you hold your Cassandra."

"I swear to God, I see her every single time… every time I look into her eyes. She… she… oh, she won't ever leave my thoughts, Hel! I am unsure if I can take much more of it."

She held him tighter, emphasizing the following words. "Then let our father allow you to bring her back! Tell him the truth… do not lie say she died in childbirth, but say that Dmitri had murdered her in cold blood. Say that you very well know how the enemy will be defeated if you could bring her back, if you could revive the soul of what had made your world whole. And you must promise to vamp her once she returns."

Constantine lifted his red stained face from her scarlet chiton, staring into Helemis' silver russet eyes in disbelief. "I cannot."

"But you must, Brother! If you want him to permit such a forbidden action, then you most certainly must make such a promise. And if I am not mistaken, matrimony between a vampire and his prey is strictly forbidden… punishable by execution." Helemis held his face in her hands, her eyes softening some. "It would put the entire family into fits of despair if Father were forced to throw his only son into a daylight cell and have his newborn grandchild drowned. Do you know what unspeakable pain that would bring us all? And I… for the sin of Satan, I can hardly bear the thought."

Knowing she only spoke the truth, he sighed. "Yes, I suppose you are right. I will ask Father to allow her reincarnation, and as soon as she returns I will vamp her. For Cassandra's sake, I will vamp her mother."

I was never your average human being. Even as a baby, I wasn't just like everyone else. Why? I loved to dream. There would be times when I would sit in class and be half in reality, half in a trance, and other days where I would be in my full-fledged fantasy world.

November 1st, my birthday, was one of those fantasy days. That day I felt very refreshed and excited; the day I finally turned sixteen! All throughout school, I was thinking about how far I had come from childhood to adolescence, and how much (or little, depending on how my maturity level was at that moment) I would have to go to become a real adult in society. I mean, sixteen; that's the big break! The day you become the big 1-6 is the same day you fall into a big dream. In addition, for many people… like me, for example… that big dream easily becomes a nightmare.

That dream/nightmare is called reality.

"Don't forget to have the fries with no salt, Taeyler. I can't have that sodium all in my diet."

That could only be my mom talking, asking for impractical requests like that to be completed. What maniac goes to a McDonald's and asks for their world famous fries… with no salt? The thought was almost unbelievable, but I sucked it up and nodded, replying, "Yes, I'll remember. Oh, there's only nine dollars in here… I need another one."

"You can feed a whole family with nine dollars, Taeyler!", she scoffed, punching in grades on her computer. "Use your brain sometime, will you?"

I do use my brain, I thought angrily as I walked out of the classroom with my backpack over my shoulder. At least I don't ask for impossible stuff like fries without salt!

River Hill High; one of the toughest tech magnet schools to succeed in. Easy to get in, hard to get out. However, so far in my senior year I was doing pretty well, all A's and one C in math. I expected it after I pretty much bombed the last fifty-point test, dropping my A- to a C+. What was worse was that midterms were coming up in two days. Now was Wednesday.

Damn, I'm so close!, I thought as I hopped into the front seat of the Chrysler Town & Country amber colored van. I revved the engine and sped out of the parking lot, already in the River Hill Towne Center a few seconds later. Why's Mr. Lavatoda hating me so much anyway? Dammit…if he were a student, I swear I'd have kicked his ass a long time ago for hating on me just because my mom failed his nephew. Was it her fault that Tyler Lavatoda didn't hand in any of his projects and never did any of the drills, homework, or class work? Nope, Tyler's the real one to blame.

I hopped back in the car, with mom's "salt less fries" and my milkshake, starting up the engine. Even though I hadn't been 16 a full 24 hours, I knew damn well how drive; I had my dad to thank for that one.

The sharp turn on Route 32 was always the hardest to navigate, but I hadn't realized just how hard until now.

Pressing the gas down, I attempted to turn the wheel just in time to make it into the right lane on the opposite side of the street. Didn't that dude see the green light on my side? Either way, that Toyota 4x4 was speeding down 32 like some teenager without their driver's license. Ahem

All I remember is turning my head from the windshield to the right window, staring as this huge red truck that was inches from my door, and knowing for a quick second that I may not make it. My feet let go of the pedal. My fingers slid from the wheel. And I stared, speechless.

The driver wore a large dark hood that hid their face.

And then I saw black.

Oh my God, oh my God… what's happening to me?

I opened my eyes. It was all gone. All of it; no highway, no traffic lights, nothing. Darkness surrounded me, so black I could barely see the outlining of my own hand in front of my face. Fear surged through my body. Oh, God… what's happening?

Hands shaking, breath quickening, I wiped away the tears coming down my cheeks. Only a few, and they were cool and somewhat frosty against my skin. The entire atmosphere was cold; I rubbed my palms up and down her goose-bumped arms. My own hands were clammy, and I hissed.

Relax, Taeyler, I told myself, nervously. Just relax. Wait until morning comes, whenever the hell that is…

Then I lay still, as difficult as it was for me, felt the rumbling and jumbling of the road beneath me. A pebbly road, it seemed. Was this in the country? And the engine was (I don't know why I hadn't heard it the entire first few seconds I was worrying myself) roaring almost like truck; was I in the cargo back of it? The flooring didn't feel rough and rigged like a usual truck. Unless it wasn't a truck at all. Maybe I was in the back of an ambulance; on the floor, with a dark blanket over my body, and it was freezing cold. Oh God, I don't know what's happening! What's going on? Who's driving, anyway?

Frustrated with confusion, I slept there, in the pitch darkness. No noise came about; not the chirping of crickets or the occasional honking of traffic out my window that I usually heard when sleeping in my bedroom. It was then that I knew I wasn't anyplace near home; this atmosphere was deafeningly silent. I kept my eyes closed and my breathing level, even after the driving came to a slowing stop.