The air was cold this evening, and it was even colder inside the desolate manor despite the fire that was burning in the fire place. It was the only source of light in the room other than the moon shining its light from outside through the tall glass windows.
Two men sat in comfortable chairs opposite each other near the fire but the heat coming from the flames did nothing to warm them. They couldn't feel anything to be honest, which is why they seemed so content. They kept each other's company and save for a glance or two they hardly looked at each other.
One was a younger man in a white business suit and had short sandy brown hair. His left hand was adorned with gold rings. None were silver, which was a no no for him. He sat like he was bored to death, his legs crossed and leaning his chin on a propped arm. The older man opposite from him sat with both feet on the ground and was wearing an all-black suit. He had a thin and finely trimmed beard and his white hair gave the impression that he was older than he appeared. Both men had paled complexion and it wasn't from the cold.
"You sure you do not want a drink? I have plenty of it on hand, just say the word and you'll have some in a heartbeat," he said, taking a drink from the wine glass he had in his hand. The 'wine' was unnaturally thick and red.
That's because it wasn't wine at all, but blood. Like the aged old line went, vampires never drink wine and neither did these two.
The older man shook his head, "No thank you, Rasler. I already drank my fill. Besides, I am here on a matter of business and I would like to take care of it quickly."
"Oh you never seem to take the leisurely route, do you Nash?" Rasler sat up straight before putting his wine glass on the table next to his chair. It was indeed time to get down to business. "Then let's get it over with. Three nights ago I felt something strong overwhelm my senses, something which I had never felt before. You felt it too, didn't you?" said Rasler .
The older man who he addressed, turned his head slightly, "Yes."
"Then it is true...the Night has awoken," said Rasler.
Nash nodded, "And I doubt we were the only ones to have felt it."
"They say it's been more than five hundred years since it went silent. Now it has become active."
"Ever since the last war ended and the treaty was activated."
A history lesson that all vampire nobles knew. Europe's Dark Age had truly been a dark one. Death and destruction had been rampant and for the most part the humans never believed an outside force had orchestrated it to cover up a big conflict. The great Vampire War lasted more than a century, stopped only when there was nothing to fight for. The death of a king had stopped the war and the society he had left behind had to pick up the pieces themselves.
A treaty was soon made up where hostilities between all vampire nobles and their followers would cease effective immediately and would remain so until the time would come to revive the vampire monarchy.
It had been successful but not in the way most would think. Vampires by nature were arrogant and power hungry, the only hunger that prevailed over the hunger for human blood. The vampire nation broke up into many pieces following the treaty's adoption and with it the so called nation ceased to exist. The treaty was accepted by all parties only because they were all too weak to oppose it. Even after it was signed the peace prevailed, not out of honor to the treaty but to the race itself.
Nash stood up and turned to face Rasler with his hands behind his back. "The treaty gave us a reprieve from the bloodshed, and now to avoid a new war we must follow what it set forth on us. We will follow through with the trials."
The younger man sighed, "The trials? Do you honestly think the rest of the nobles will follow that ruling?"
"They will, for it is the Night that willed it so," said Nash humbly.
Rasler sighed, silently frustrated by this news. "Fine, but when do the trials start? I'm sure it won't take long before blood spills in the name of early advantage."
"It was never stated when, but I assume all the nobles know of the treaty and its symbolism. I suppose the fighting has already begun." Nash went back to sit in his chair.
However Rasler had a surprise for him, "All nobles you say? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is one I no doubt think has failed this history lesson."
Nash turned his head to his younger ally, "Whom do you speak of?"
"A few nights ago there was a vampire attack in Berlin Germany, at the birthday party of the Royal Highness Princess Sera. Many humans were badly injured and no fatalities were reported...any human that is." He smiled, "My people who were there reported a surge in power, like a beast awakening from a slumber, and according to them it seemed to come from the Princess."
"So that means, the late Queen's child has grown up," said Nash, his voice filled with disgust. "A child of both human and vampire is now considered a noble. At least by birth."
Instead of a similar feeling from Rasler, he was somehow overcome with amusement. "I just hope she enjoys her new status, because I give her a week before she is turned to ash."
At a school located in north-central Berlin was heavily active.
With the holiday of Halloween over and gone everyone was busy taking down the decorations and preparing for the next big holiday of Thanksgiving. A majority of the student council and volunteers remained behind as the school day ended to help finish this task.
The volunteers were few but there was one girl who was more than happy to help despite the fact that she didn't have to be there.
She sat on top of a ladder casually putting up a banner wishing everyone a happy thanksgiving, even though the holiday was three weeks away. She wore the school uniform consisting of a jacket colored midnight blue and a short slate grey skirt. Her hair trailed down her back and was slightly curled at the ends. Due to the colder weather she wore thermal pants under her skirt colored black and knee high black shoes.
Even with added warmth, Sera Reinhardt was still cold. She didn't like this time of year.
"The cold of winter...nothing to look forward to besides Christmas," she thought as she finished putting up the sign.
She started to get down from the ladder, and a boy nearly walked into her as she reached the floor. She had managed to grab onto the ladder to prevent herself from tumbling into it and kept it steady. The boy had dropped his books and scrambled to pick them up.
"Oh damn, sorry about that!"
Sera turned around and kept her composure, "That's alright. Here, let me help you." She bent down to assist and it took her only a few moments to realize that she was the only one moving. When she raised her chin she saw the boy looking right at her with an almost glazed over look in his eyes, like he was seeing an unbelievable beauty right before his eyes.
'Not again...' she thought before she stood up. Ever since she had her birthday less than a week before, Sera had been turning heads. Her beauty was mesmerizing to the other male students and it even flustered some of the girls who couldn't help but take a look at her. This had few ups and plenty of downs in her mind. What happened now was one such down.
Sera cleared her throat and the boy snapped out of his hypnotized state. "Apologies Your Highness...I don't know what came over me."
The two stood up and Sera handed back what she had gathered. "It's okay. Also, no need for titles while I am here. I'm just a student like you."
He nodded, still obviously flustered, "Got it." He then decided to try and change the subject. "How do you do it? I mean, be a Princess and keep a low profile?"
Sera humorously rolled her eyes, "Lots and lots of practice, and insisting I am no better than anyone else."
Speaking it was easy, but doing the deed was tougher than that. Sera Reinhardt was the daughter of the Kaiser, the constitutional ruler of Germany, and had been so since the day she was born. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave Germany its identity and the people chose to restore some semblance of its former glory. They did this pretty much by copying the status set by their English cousins in adopting a constitutional monarchy. While she was the princess, Sera had no real power to speak of, but her title alone commanded respect. She took liberties with that though, as to not alienate herself from her peers. Still there were times when she was met with people who grew nervous in her presence, and she willingly helped them through it.
The boy held onto his books and thanked Sera once again before walking off, but not before taking one last glance at her. Sera smiled, having expected it. When he was gone Sera returned to what she was doing. She seriously hoped that she wouldn't have to deal with something like that again.
"I don't like being the center of attention for any reason," she said in a low voice.
"We saw that."
Sera's smile returned after she heard that voice. She turned and saw her two best friends approach her. One was a short red head and the other was tall and a brunette. The shorter one was Anne Schmidt, a smart girl who despite her small stature was pretty scary when she was angry.
"Saw what?" Sera asked playfully.
"You scared another cute boy away with your...how'd you put it, your 'royal charm'," said Anne.
Sera shrugged her shoulders, "I can't help but be honest. I really am no better than anyone else."
The taller girl sighed and leaned on the locker next to her, "As humble as that sounds Sera it seems no matter how hard you try to be like everyone else people still think you're beyond special."
Anne smacked her friend's hand.
The other girl looked at her hand like she had been offended, "Anne, what was that for?"
"Because you were supposed to help her out, not shoot her down, Eve," Anne replied.
Eve Alexander was a foreign exchange student from America, hailing from a city called Crystal Cove where her mother lived. She was an athletic type and the fact that she had gone out for the track team was proof she meant business. Due to her physical build she seemed very intimidating at first glance but she was actually quite soft in demeanor...unless you got on her bad side. She wasn't much of a talker when in a confrontation, preferring to let her fists do the talking. Sera couldn't have asked for better friends.
"Anyway, I didn't scare him away. We just bumped into each other and he left. Nothing special," the princess grabbed her bag from the base of the ladder and started to walk to the school entrance.
Anne and Eve followed her out the door, and Sera noticed that the sun was almost down. That meant she had to get home soon. Still, she took her time, for as long as the sun was up she could enjoy herself.
Anne talked about how the weather had started to change and she wasn't liking it. Then she brought up something Sera hoped they wouldn't bring up. "Anyway, ever since your birthday things have gotten weird around here, haven't they?"
"And how do you figure that?"
Eve started to list off what she knew, "You got a party, said party was crashed by a group of guys who wanted you dead and yet you somehow survived it. Then the school begins to notice you more than ever before, but that must be because of the new make up or whatever you have been using on yourself-"
"I don't use that much make-up. It was a miracle that I survived at the party. As for how people have been acting around me...well, maybe I hit a mature level in my appearance and everyone has been paying closer attention?"
That was almost a lie, but it was the best Sera could come up with. Luckily her friends seemed to buy it hook, line, and sinker.
She wasn't stupid. She knew why people were acting strange around her but she had to keep it a secret.
Luck was on her side yet again as the princess and her friends made it to the school's front gate and a small black car was parked just outside. If there was one thing Sera did like about her royal status, it was having a private driver to take her home after school every day.
Bidding her friends farewell Sera got into the car and dropped her smile with a deep sigh.
The driver, whose name is Joel and a professional driver despite his age being no older than twenty-five, asked, "Anywhere you want to go, Your Highness?"
Normally Sera would have wanted to be with her friends a lot longer, but she sadly knew those days were gone. Her mind was racing with thoughts about the following day and it wore her out. That and she knew if she didn't get back home before it got totally dark she'd be in bigger trouble. She shook her head and closed her eyes. "No Joel, please take me home."
Ever since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe most of the political landscape changed drastically and quickly. It took years for some to find a footing. Germany was one that took a couple years to find ground. When the Russian influence was lifted the newly reunited Germany sought to find its identity. Eventually the last descendant of Kaiser Wilhelm returned to his homeland after spending years in exile. The switch from a democracy to a constitutional monarchy took years to finalize, but by 1995 it had been done and the new Kaiser and his wife returned to Berlin.
The new royal family made sweeping changes to the country, but the first was to make the Charlottenburg Palace the new home of the royal family. It had been turned into a museum following the end of communism but it hadn't taken off enough to secure funds to keep going. So it was by luck that the Kaiser wanted to turn it into his new home.
Sera's school wasn't too far from her home and she was grateful for that. She was tired and not to mention a bit hungry. She got home just before the sun was fully down.
The palace was quiet and empty save for the servants hired to keep it orderly and clean and Sera made her way to her room, located in the East wing of the palace, without stopping to do anything else.
For those who expected her room to be lavish and royally themed would be surprised to see that it looked much like a regular teenage girl's room. The room was white on all sides, and the carpet was dark blue. Posters lined the walls of a Finnish alternative rock band and while there was a vanity next to a dresser there was little else to show that this was a girl's room. Well, except for the tall wall mirror that was hanging on the bathroom door. Her bed was big and the sheets were white and very clean. There was a tall glass door that led out onto a balcony that gave a breathtaking view of the palace gardens.
Sera tossed her bag aside before plopping herself on her bed, welcoming the soft mattress under her back. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
Then she heard the grandfather clock in her room begin to chime. It kept going until it hit six and Sera opened her eyes. The sun was down now, and night had come.
Ever since she had discovered her heritage Sera's perception of nighttime had been drastically altered. She used to not think much on it before, but now that she found out that she was a vampire she despised it. Well, she was only half-vampire. A dhampir as she was told, a hybrid born between her human father and vampire mother. A secret that had been kept from her until just recently, when on her sixteenth birthday she was attacked by a vampire and her life changed forever.
Memories of that night still haunted her and were as fresh as the rain. She wouldn't forget about them anytime soon, maybe even for the rest of her life. She got up from her bed and opened her balcony doors. Going outside she felt the cool breeze on her face and she took in the air. "I wonder if I will ever view night like I did before..."
Sera jumped at the voice with a cry. She turned to see where it came from. She saw a man in a dark grey trench coat leaning against the wall behind her. He was tall, his hair was short and black, and eyes that pierced the night with a supernatural crimson red glow. Of course, those eyes alone gave off the impression that he was a vampire. He also gave off an aura that just screamed dangerous. However, Sera wasn't frightened. Well, she was by the fact that he had caught her by surprise and nearly scared her to death in the process, but she wasn't afraid of her own bodyguard.
The princess was beside herself, "I hate it when you do that!"
Sera saw him give her a smirk like he had been amused by her outburst. He bowed his head to her, "My apologies, Your Highness."
She crossed her arms over her chest, "Mind explaining to me what you are doing on my balcony, Viktor?"
Viktor stood up straight, appearing even taller than before, "I just dropped in. I have a duty to protect you, you know."
"I don't think I need protection in my own home, but thank you for your concern," she replied before she went back to her room.
Viktor followed her, "You said something similar at the Reichstag and the end result nearly became a disaster."
She ignored him. She didn't find that amusing, not just because it was true but also because it had been her fault. A decision that almost cost Sera her life.
Viktor stopped short of actually entering her room. It was like a barrier prevented him from going any further.
Sera stopped when she noticed he was still outside. "I forgot about that." Not that she was going to let him into her bedroom. It was off limits to everyone as long as she had a say in the matter. Sera enjoyed her privacy and it was hard to get others to understand that. Viktor was no exception. It could be raining and/or snowing outside and she still wouldn't let him in.
"By the way, is that a true legend or just fiction?"
Viktor titled his head slightly to the side, "What do you mean?"
Sera removed her school jacket and hung it on a coat hook on her main door. "The whole 'cannot enter without an invitation' thing. Is that true or not?"
Viktor shrugged his broad shoulders, "Not too sure, but..." he raised his right hand and reached into Sera's room. No barrier to stop him. The only thing that did was his respect for the princess to not invade her privacy, which he respected. "Guess it's a fiction."
The princess went about gathering her night clothes, her intention to take a bath and have an early dinner were the things she wanted to do most. After that she would do her homework and then read a book before going to bed. Unless something else popped up...which had become something of a habit in the last few days.
Viktor stood at the balcony door, standing like he had nothing better to do than be in Sera's presence. He kept his eyes moving, not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable, though he thought that looking around her personal bedroom couldn't be that much better either it was better than just being like a statue.
Sera didn't like the silence between them, and after she sat down on her bed with her back to him, she spoke, "By the way, I need to ask. Is there something different about me that I don't fully know about?"
Sera stood up and faced him, "Guys have been looking at me funny as of late, some girls too. Staring for long periods of time and blushing whenever I got close or talked to them. They never did that before recently. Maybe you would know something, seeing as it might relate to my...you know."
She didn't feel totally comfortable talking about her new identity, but as Viktor was the only one she knew who was a vampire she felt she had little choice in the matter. Better to trust him and ask than not at all.
Good thing that he didn't mind answering whatever questions she wanted to ask. "Enhanced beauty...yes, that is something that more than likely took off after your birthday. It's a natural thing for vampires to experience, though they tend to reach physical maturity by the time they reach their twentieth year."
Even more attention Sera didn't want. "Any chance of knowing when this will stop?"
"Not sure. It can last months in a regular vampire, but there's no sure way to tell when it comes to dhampirs." Each word that came from Viktor sounded like it was coming from someone with great knowledge and experience. No hesitation in his voice, like it was right on his mind.
It made Sera feel like he had most of the answers if she ever needed them. A bit of her mind relaxed. She went and grabbed a towel from her closet to ready for her bath, leaving the door open but standing behind it out of his sight. "Anything else I should worry about? I mean there's bound to be something but…well, a heads up would be simply wonderful. You know, for future reference."
Turning his body towards the doorway Viktor calmly stated, "Change is like an unknown road, and there isn't a map for the unknown. You just have to travel it to find out."
From behind her closet door, Sera felt the air change. It felt cool, like the life had left it. It almost felt like it was sorrowful, powerless to do anything.
The silence was deafening for the few minutes it prevailed.
Sera was brave enough to break it, "I'm going to refresh myself before going to bed." Then she remembered, "Wait, was there a reason you came to my room."
Standing with his arms across his chest, Viktor leaned on the doorframe from the outside. "There is, actually. An envelope was left for you in the mail."
Why would that be worthy of mention?
"I get mail all the time. Why did this one—"
With a simple flick of his wrist, Viktor tossed the blue envelope onto her bed. It was blank but that was not the point. The point was the seal on the back.
"That's a vampire seal, that's what was so important about it."
Sera came from behind the door and picked up the envelope. It was cold and the seal on the back was red and cracked, but unbroken. The seal was that of a crow with two branches underneath it. She opened it and written in eloquent handwriting was, simply put, an invitation.
"By the order of Lord Leon Silva, you Sera Erika Reinhardt have been invited to the party of our master to celebrate his return to Europe from abroad. If you accept this invitation, please arrive at the address below after nightfall tomorrow."
'Tomorrow?! Talk about short notice, Sera thought.
"Leon Silva…he's the son of a known noble living in Bavaria. Though he originates from there he's lived here in Berlin for a while. Seems you have a date , Your Highness," said Viktor, his knowledge being useful once again.
"So this is a vampire party?"
"I would assume so."
Sera sighed, she knew what was going to have to happen. When a vampire sends an invite one does not refuse such an invitation. That was something she had learned in the last few weeks. "Good thing I never had anything planned for tomorrow." She tossed the letter onto her bed and went towards her bathroom, stopping to speak. "Thanks for the info, Viktor. I trust you'll be with me tomorrow night?"
She turned to the doorway, she could see his shadow thanks to the moonlight.
"Of course. Good night Princess," he said before he quickly moved out of the light, and into the darkness.