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A scared child wondered the streets of London on her own. This was what she did every night, perhaps she was looking for solstice, perhaps she was secretly seeking out her parents, or perhaps it was just the fact that if she stayed in one place for too long people would notice her. The one thing she had learned on the streets was never to be noticed. Well it was okay to be noticed by the old church ladies. People like that pitied her and did nice things for her, she had learned long ago that pity was her best friend. It was the other street people that you had to worry about. Men who wanted to claim your flesh, women who wanted to use you to make money, other children who would beat you if they thought you had anything to take.

A homeless man leered at her in her flimsy dress that was stiff from filth and urine as well as many other unidentifiable liquids. With a whimper she ran across the street, nearly getting mowed over by a speeding sports car. This only served to terrify the child further and she let out a little squeak of fear and set off running down the sidewalk. On her way she stepped on a broken bottle but barely flinched as the glass tore into the rough flesh of her bare feet. She was used to pain, both physical abuse and mental anguish, as well as malnourishment.

Crying bitter tears, she moved along the street until she ran into a group of people. They were marvelously dressed, obviously upperclass citizens on their way home from the opera house. To the girl’s surprise it was a woman leading the group. She seemed perfectly comfortable with her position of leadership and strolled along, staring down anyone who had the courage to look at her. To the horror of the child, she ran straight into the legs of this beautiful woman.

Tall and imposing, she had the air of someone with obvious breeding. Long blonde hair, a glorious shade that can only be achieved through birth fell in large curls down past her shoulders and her skin was so pale that it looked as though the moon itself had blessed her with it’s milk. Huge, complex blue eyes blinked down at the filthy child that had just flung itself into her legs. The girl knew very little about angels, but she felt as if she was in the presence of one.

A man who stood, not quite at her side for that would be an affront, but slightly behind her took notice of the child. He gave a wolfish grin and staggered forth, drunkenly he slurred, “Ah, look a midnight snack. Just what I need, I’m feeling peckish.”

The woman held up her hand to silence him and he glared as though he loathed being told what to do by this angel. However, he did silence and sat rather like a pouting child who did not get his desert. She was instantly weary of him, for men like that caused trouble for people like her. Instantly, though, she trusted the fair woman to keep her safe.

“Bloody Hell,” hissed the man when he got closer, “I don’t think I’d want to drink from that anyway. She smells horrid.”

“She’s lovely,” said the woman softly, her voice was so beautiful that it made the little girl want to cry. So she did, silently and beautifully the tears of a tragic life stole down her cheeks. This made the woman smile and with a perfectly manicured finger she gently wiped the salty water from the child’s dirty face.

“Mercia,” came a nasally voice that ruined the moment, “please tell us you do not have another pet project.”

“Go on without me Emily–.”

“She’s not even one of our kind! A gutter rat and nothing more!” Snapped the man who had spoken to her before.

“Richard,” she breathed in an icy tone that still managed to be beautiful, although slightly menacing. “this is not up for discussion amongst us. Emily shall go back to her place and you shall go back to the manor and I will not hear another word about it.”

Oh, and how he looked like he would fight her on it. His teeth bared and he let out a grisly growl which she returned with a snarl, staring into his brown eyes. Finally he turned on his heel and marched away from her, long brown hair blowing in the fierce wind behind him.

Emily giggled in that annoying, high society way that so many women do and turned to her companion, “A lover’s quarrel?”

“Yes,” answered the woman in clipped tones.

“Do tell, dear sister. Indeed, do tell!”

A long, crimson nail traced down the side of her face as she thought about her answer. Meanwhile, I clutched to her dress with my filthy hands, hoping for some kind a relief. “I must confess that I’m beginning to regret ever giving him such...liberties for he seems to have forgotten his place.”

“Well perhaps,” another annoying giggle, “it’s time you remind him.” Emily batted her brown eyelashes at Mercia who nodded absently. Suddenly, she seemed to remember the girl was there and gave her an extremely patronizing smile. Cooing she said, “Have a good time with Mercia.”

Waiting until she left, Mercia kneeled down before her and lifted her chin to meet her green eyes. “What’s your name child?”

She shrugged indifferently. After all, there were so many names that people addressed her as it ceased to matter what people called her. Girl. Child. Whore. It was all the same to her now. Accepting her non-verbal answer the woman responded, “You may not have a name, but that’s alright sweetheart. We’ll give you one,” she stroked her hand through the girl’s tangled red mane. “Keaira! It’s Celtic, it means ‘little dark one’. It suits you well.”

She liked the name and decided to accept the gift that the woman had unknowingly bestowed upon her. The gift of knowing who she was, although she was still uncertain of her place in the world. “Let us get you home and cleaned up.”

Keaira froze where she stood, staring at Mercia. This wasn’t the first time a stranger had wanted to take her with them and those adventures had never ended well. Could she really trust this fair woman?

“You needn’t be afraid. Of course, I understand if you are. I want to help, to help you not hurt anymore. Don’t you want that?”

She did, more then anything to stop the pain. Sobbing, she threw herself at the woman who lifted her, with surprising strength against her chest and rocked her back and forth like a baby. Soon she was walking with the child sheltered to her breast as she headed to the manor to tend to her new child.

XxXxXxXxX

To most people the manor was an eyesore that needed to be torn down. However, to Keaira it was a beautiful building since she had lived in alleyways most of her life. The stones were old and crumbling, most of the windows were boarded up, and the gardens had grown wild to a point of jungle proportions. The building was looming and gothic, obviously beautiful when it had first been built.

Seeing the child’s awed look, Mercia chuckled and stroked a hand through her hair, “Yes, beautiful, isn’t it? My family lived here a long time ago...” she grew wistful as she looked at the stone structure, “oh! You should have seen it then! Easily the most beautiful house in all of London. After my family passed I did my best to keep it up but...” She shrugged her shoulders and set down the child, “There’s no where to start anymore, the whole thing is a mess. I could always move somewhere else but,” a small smile graced her lips, “call me sentimental.”

Taking her hand, she led Keaira up to the front door and inserted a large key into the lock, turning it to the right. The inside was just as bad as the outside, stones were cracking and there was a film of dust over everything. In the cracks in the stones grew moss and wild grass and in places you could see outside through the cracks in the wall. Keaira could practically feel the history of the place weighing on her. Oddly enough, most of the expensive furniture looked new and very clean.

Mercia led her into a small bathroom which was decorated in pure white and pink with an old-fashioned standing tub. In a rather clinical manner she undressed the girl and started a warm bath for her. Keaira whimpered slightly at the loss of her clothes, horrid memories of her twelve years rushing to her. Soothingly, the woman rubbed small circles on her back and lowered her into the water.

Suddenly she let out a disgusted noise, “Lice.”

Carefully, she went to the medicine cabinet and searched for a bottle of lice shampoo to put on the girl’s head. “Tell me, did you ever have a home?”

Keaira wanted to answer her, for she knew it was rude to remain silent. People had shook her on the streets before for her incessant staring and silence. However, she couldn’t answer the woman so she simply looked down at the odd shape of her foot underneath the warm water. Mercia did not seem the least bit put off by her silence, indeed she took it as an answer.

“You look like you’ve never had a decent meal, let alone a decent home. We’ll fix that love.” She said softly, taking out a scrub brush and setting to work. It seemed like hours she spent in that tub, occasionally interrupted by Mercia adding more hot water to the water in the tub. During all of this she felt herself being lulled into a twilight sleep until Mercia deemed her clean enough to sleep in any bed in the mansion.

Keaira could not possibly convey what it felt like to be clean. It was wonderful, she could finally see the pale skin that had been hidden underneath the dirt. Mercia led her gently into a magnificent dining room with a huge chandelier overhanging a long, mahogany table. On the table sat a bowl of porridge with peaches and cream mixed in. It was sweet and warm and filled the child with a wonderful feeling. Suddenly, she gasped and staggered out of her seat. There was a snake on the table!

Mercia looked up lazily from the wine glass that she was drinking a red liquid from. However, Keaira sensed that she was guarded and prepared to spring if necessary. Spotting the snake she laughed, a pleasant, tinkling sound. “Oh, Silas! What on earth are you doing here! He’s my pet, dear. I often keep snakes. Do you know why?”

The child’s green eyes seemed to ask even though her mouth did not, “They are the closest animals to humans. You can love them, take care of them, be loyal to them. And yet they have no trouble biting the hand that feeds them. The difference being, I like snakes and I detest humans.”

This confused the girl but she said nothing. Simply nodded and ate the rest of her food until she thought she would burst. Somehow sensing this the woman decided that it was time for her to go to sleep. Mercia sat on the edge of her bed a sung, her singing voice was every bit as beautiful as her speaking voice. Suddenly, he face changed. Her ivory teeth slid over her chin and her eyes turned a startling shade of violet. Eyes widening, Keaira found that she could not run away. Indeed, she found herself hypnotized by those eyes.

Mercia bent over and placed her fangs on the girl’s neck and let out a long sigh. Suddenly, she pulled away and her features went back to their original beauty. Gently, she planted a kiss on Keaira’s forehead and turned to leave the bedroom.

“Goodnight, Little Dark One.”

XxXxXxX

Every morning she awoke expecting to awake from this marvelous dream in the streets of London. The incident where she had almost been bitten seemed to have been wiped from her memory, it was a vague, dream-like recollection. Soon she discovered that there were other young ones living in the house, all of them were special though. She was the only completely normal child in the house without any powers.

There was Lily, who was about the most adorable child one could hope to meet. Lily could move things telepathically and although Keaira wasn’t positive, she often got the uncanny feeling that the child could read minds. Emma was a quiet teenager who had taken it up as her responsibility to watch over Keaira, whether by order or at her own accord the child was not sure. Her gift lies in witchcraft which Keaira watched with wide-eyed wonder. Erin was a child about her age who was a vampire and had been for most of her life. To be perfectly honest, Erin scared Keaira with her deep eyes that seemed to know more about the world then any child should.

Then there was Serenity...

Keaira still remembered the day that the young woman arrived, no more then a year older then herself. She arrived with Richard leading her much to the displeasure of Mercia. She had been seated, telling the children of her travels when they arrived. Before they were even in the door she gasped and leapt to her feet, racing out to meet them. Her face was flushed with anger and distaste as she glared at the child.

Serenity was reasonably clean and well dressed, unlike most children who arrived at the manor. Her long, ginger hair was tied back in a braid and her amber eyes were slightly large for her sparsely freckled face. It was hard to imagine that this tiny, slightly plain girl inspired such rage in the usually calm woman.

“A werewolf,” breathed Emma who had been stroking Kearia’s hair with a brush, “Vampires and werewolves have struggled for years amongst themselves.”

This made her frown, this was a child and she could hardly help what her fellow wolves did. Gently, she pushed herself to her feet and climbed up on the window seat to watch the three creatures in the courtyard.

“What do you mean by bringing this child here, Richard. You best have a good answer.”

“Mercia,” he soothed in that smooth voice of his, trying to placate her, “I understand how you feel but I must remind you what it is that we swear to do...”

“Don’t you dare talk down to me,” she breathed, chest heaving in anger and eyes turning a vicious yellow color. Finally, she appeared to calm herself and with a deep breath she snarled, “What’s her sob story?”

It was clear that he was biting back a smart remark but he calmly replied, “A small village in Scotland. Foolish mortals attacked her, I came in posing as a priest. They were so relieved to be rid of her that they dumped her off with me and allowed us to be gone.”

“You best not have taken any liberties...well, more then you already have.” Mercia continued in the same queer, snarling voice, “She may stay...”

Richard got a triumphant smile on his face and the child relaxed and threw her arms around Mercia’s waist, “Oh, thank you miss. I will not be any trouble, I swear it!”

“Yes,” she said wistfully, pushing the girl away as if she was a piece of rubbish that had caught on her dress, “she may stay in the shed.” With this she stood up and walked briskly towards the building.

Serenity was treated differently then the rest of the children were. Most were treated respectfully and Keaira was treated almost reverently. Her education was taken care of strictly by Mercia as were her clothing and lessons in manners. Although she never spoke, soon she found herself turning into quite the little lady and growing close to Mercia. Her mentor never had these lessons with the new girl though and she was provided with precious few new clothing items and the ones she did receive were ill-fitting and second hand. During meals, she sat with her head bowed on the floor and was not served until everyone else had finished. At first Keaira thought nothing of it, of course she had yet to speak to the girl.

The first time they spoke she was wandering through the courtyard in her dress, pretending that she was a maiden explorer. This was often how she survived on the streets, pretending to be somewhere else, someone else. She was moving along with her game when she saw another figure, dressed in grubby clothes leaned against the shed in the sun.

Serenely, the girl lifted her head and looked at her and gave her a warm smile, “Hello, Miss Keaira.”

Keaira felt inexplicably drawn to this girl for no reason that she could pinpoint. However, she felt an overwhelming need for human contact at that moment and gave a tiny wave. Serenity’s smile grew wider and she stood up, clothes hanging off her thin frame and made her way over to her. Holding out her hand she said, “I’m Serenity. What are you doing out here?”

Taking the hand firmly in the grasp of her two small hands as greeting she nodded towards the woods. For a moment Serenity frowned but then a look of realization came over her face. “Exploring? I bet there’s a lot of things worth looking at around here. Do you mind if I tag along?”

Fiercely, she shook her head no. She desperately wanted the companionship of the other girl, she was surprised to find that she had been lonely. From that point forward they became close friends and even Mercia slowly accepted the girl. This was only for the happiness of her charge however, and she was still wary about the girl. Serenity often dictated to people what her new friend was saying, people often appreciated this insight into the child’s mind.

Not a year after they’d met Keaira found herself having odd feelings for this girl which didn’t bother her. She’d never had an upbringing that taught her of what is the ‘proper’ relationship among girls so she thought nothing of it. Shortly after her thirteenth birthday (which was deemed the day that she’d come to the manor) she kissed Serenity for the first time. It was a chaste kiss on the lips in the fall sunlight and for a moment both she and her friend were surprised. Slowly, however, Serenity bit her bottom lip and leaned forward to press her mouth against Keaira’s. The kiss was gentle and warm and soon Serenity’s tongue prodded her mouth for entrance. Hesitantly, she granted it and soon she found a warm tongue entangled with her own. Breathlessly, they broke apart and looked in each others eyes, both grinning foolishly.

None of the other girls in the house seemed to understand the two children and their strong relationship. After a while, Mercia noticed what was going on but simply nodded to her charge and accepted it. Her relationship with her childe Richard, was far from perfect and she could hardly judge the child’s decisions.

When sixteen they grew even closer. Keaira was laid out on her bed, studying the history of the Celtics from a book that Mercia had given her. It fascinated her and she soon found herself entranced by their rituals and absentmindedly nibbling on the end of her pen. Serenity was working on the French that Mercia had begun to teach her but was really studying her girlfriend out of the corner of her eye.

She leaned abruptly across the bed and placed her hand playfully over the other girl’s book. Keaira raised her eyebrow and gave her an annoyed and disapproving look. Gently, Serenity nudged her chin up and planted a kiss on her mouth, biting her lower lip playfully. “Keaira, I want to make love to you.”

Surprised, she looked up at her girlfriend and in response planted a firm kiss on her lips. Soon the two were tangled in the sheets, Serenity on top with her surprising strength and wolfish instincts. Roughly, she pushed their body’s together, causing Keaira to let out a tiny gasp and arch up to the werewolf. Lost in passion, the two of them spent the rest of the night in bed together.

XxXxXxX

Serenity walked slowly down the hallways of the old manor, taking in the old portraits and old, beautiful furniture. She loved it here, such a history this place must have. Loping into the library, she smiled when she saw Richard sitting on one of the balconies, reading. Smoothly, she grabbed hold of the banister and lifted herself up with the strength she had, being a werewolf. Moving silently (something she’d learned upon arriving here to stay out of Mercia’s way) she snuck up behind him and jumped him, sliding up between him and his book.

He laughed coldly, something she had learned to not let affect her, “Serenity. How nice to see you.” She kissed him hard on the lips, moving her body smoothly against the vampire’s. “Very nice to see you. What have you found out?”

Pouting, disappointed by his get-down-to-business tone she drawled, “Mercia has been training her in every way possible; physical, academics, language, literature. Bloody slave driver that woman.”

“And how do you know all this, does she actually talk to you?” He actually looked interested and she flourished under the attention.

“No, of course not. The girl is a selective mute, she doesn’t speak to anyone.” She waited for him to prompt her, forcing him to come to her for the information.

The vampire bit quickly, “How did you find out then?” But unexpectedly, he figured it out before she could answer. “You made her your mate!” He let out a disgusted noise and shoved her back off him. sending her sprawling on the library floor. She probably would have soared straight into the opposite wall if she had not grabbed onto the overhead chandelier and dropped to her feet. “You idiot, werewolves mate for life!”

“Your plan is to kill her anyway,” she snapped, her eyes flashing amber with rage.

“Only if I have to! Do you think I’d risk it on that useless urchin unless she was a threat to me? Anyway, wouldn’t that mess you up for your mate to die? Catch me up on werewolf lore.”

“Initially, there would be some...discomfort. But after that the bond can be broken, only in the case of death.”

The vampire paced the dark room restlessly, mumbling to himself as he paced, “What could she want with this girl? Why invest all this energy in a street rat? Unless...but, no, she wouldn’t do that. Not to someone like Keaira.” A look of horror came over his face, “Serenity! I need you to distract Mercia tonight.”

“What? Why?”

“Just do it.”As much as she despised herself for bending to the man’s will, she did distract the older woman that night.

Swinging her hips, she walked up behind Mercia who was writing in a large, leather bound volume. She was prepared to greet her kindly, but Mercia snapped, “What do you want, girl?”

Pouting, she plopped down in the seat opposite of Mercia and waited impatiently for her to put aside her book. Mercia calmly ignored her and finished the paragraph that she had been writing. Closing the book she glanced shrewdly at the young woman across from her. Although the vampire had begun to treat her as if she was one of the house (at Keiara’s urging) she still did not spend too much time on the child’s troubles.

Politely she flattered, “Madam, I heard that you just released Emma as the High Priestess of the Blackthorn Coven.”

“Indeed, a powerful witch with nurturing instincts. She will do well in her new position. What do you want?”

She sighed, wondering how long that she was expected to distract the lady of the house, “Mercia, please. We should work out our differences, it would make thing so much easier between us and it would lessen the tension of the house. Why do you hate me so?”

“Why? Why, you ask me. Because you’re an unneeded, unworthy distraction to my Keaira. Because you’re a blood thirsty beast with no sense of self control. The list just goes on.”

“I’ve done nothing to hinder her progress!”

Mercia sighed, sat her book aside, and leaned forward to speak directly to the younger creature, “Let me explain something to you Serenity, and I want you to listen very closely. When I was first transformed into a vampire there was a war among our kinds because werewolves were trying to rise to power as their numbers grew. Before this war there were thousands of vampires, after the war there were a mere hundred. That number has shrunk even more and now lies at fifty known vampires in the world. I saw my brethren, my friends torn to pieces by your fellow beasts.”

Genuinely enraged at this point she practically shouted, “I had nothing to do with what happened in the past!”

“No, but your ancestors did. And the sins of the father become the sins of the son, or in this case the daughter.” The woman’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, “Why is it you’re trying to distract me child?”

Alarmed, Serenity leaned back as far as she could in her chair and stared with doe eyes up at Mercia, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Mercia stared coldly at the young woman and flicked her slender wrist, lifting Serenity into the air by her throat using an invisible force. Dangling, she gasped wetly for breath and clawed at the invisible hands encircling her neck but ended up making bloody streaks with her long, thick nails. Another flick of the wrist brought her closer until the two women were face to face. Realizing what she was trying to do, Serenity flailed against the tight grip but failed to get loose and ended up choking herself.

“Do you know, pet, what I hate about werewolves?” Mercia casually ran a finger along the marks on her neck until her fingers were covered with thick, red blood, “So hard to read their minds. They are so delivered to their passions and instincts that, unlike humans, the veil that protects their thoughts is very thick.” One finger floated around her mouth until she inserted it and sucked the blood off, “However, their blood is...” She arched her back, “delicious and intoxicating. So full of emotion and passion Don’t fret, reading your mind isn’t impossible. Simply...more difficult.”

Leaning forward, she transformed into her vampire form. Long ivory fangs curled down and her smooth forehead wrinkled. The already pale skin seemed to become transparent until Serenity could see her veins and her eyes glowed with an eerie yellow light. Slowly, she swayed, never breaking eye contact with the young girl. Mercia softly hummed, her voice light and beautiful like a spring afternoon shower. Serenity felt her eyelids growing heavy and her defenses lowering themselves and slowly she felt something foreign brush her mind.

No! She thought desperately through the fog, Think about something else, anything else! Six times six equals thirty six!

However the foreign force came back and plunged deeper into her mind, making her head pound at the intrusion. Images of her day flickered through her head quickly and she knew that soon Mercia would summon the memory of her and Richard talking and would know that she meant to distract her from the man’s agenda. Summoning all the hatred she felt for this woman who had slighted her in the past few years she managed to look past the charm to see the sharp angles of her vampire face and she soon found herself released from the choke hold and face down on the floor.

Gasping, she rubbed the abused flesh of her neck and looked up at Mercia through long, ginger hair. Candle light from the lanterns hung around study played on the sharp angles of her transformed face.

“Strong girl,” Mercia hissed, lowering herself to the ground so that her coppery breath tickled Serenity’s nose, “I’d have no problem sucking you dry. As I’ve said, werewolf blood is a delicacy that I rarely get to enjoy.” Gently, almost tenderly, she ran her fangs over the girl’s pale neck. “However, you’re up to something, and I’m curious. If you want to do this the hard way, all the better for me...”

Hatefully, Serenity lifted her face until it was directly in front of Mercia’s and spat in her face. Sharply, the older woman slapped her and, in a rage, shouted about respecting her betters. Mercia stood up and stalked over to her mahogany desk. Serenity’s human instincts encouraged her to run away, but her wolf instincts would not allow her to swallow her pride and run from a fight. Licking her hand, she rubbed the saliva on her tender throat and felt a warming sensation spreading through the wounds and soon the skin was smooth and unblemished once again. Soon the vampire returned, holding what looked like a syringe full of mercury.

Seeing the inquisitive look on the younger girl’s face she explained, “Silver nitrate.” Serenity began to struggle wildly to get to her feet but soon found herself rigid and unable to move, “Dangerous to your kind, isn’t it? Do you know what this does to werewolves? It makes their blood boil until their veins turn to ash and breaks loose. It will take about eight minutes to circulate you system, destroying everything in it’s path. You’ll be in agonizing pain until the blood carrying the nitrate reaches your brain and melts it. After that your skin will dissolve and by time the silver is through with you, ashes won’t even be left.”

Slowly and teasingly, she traced the tip of the needle down Serenity’s stiff arm and Serenity let out a little gasp of terror. Silently, she cursed Richard for getting her into this mess and wondered how to get out of this.

“I’m not afraid of you,” she lied.

“That is a problem, isn’t it?” Mercia’s eyes glowed in the dimming candlelight and Serenity could feel the bloodlust coming off the woman in waves. Gone was the calm woman who ran the house and in her place was a wild beast. Her hair was ruffled as if she’d been sleeping and blood stained her long, perfectly manicured hand. She reminded Serenity of one of those dark goddesses she’d read about like Kali or Hecate. Suddenly, a deep fear lodged itself in her throat and she found it difficult to breath. “If I add the right amount of this special brew, I can keep you alive for hours in excruciating pain.”

Tapping her finger on the needle, she sent a drop of the liquid down on the girl’s exposed arm and with a hissing sound, the skin began to bubble. Serenity threw her head back and screamed at the top of her lungs as the spot on her arm felt as if it was set on fire. Tears streamed down her cheeks and fell wetly into the collar of her dress. Three minutes later, she would have handed the world over on a silver platter to Mercia.

“Please stop!” She wailed brokenly, “I’ll do anything!”

“Begging achieves nothing, child. You know what I want, give it to me and I’ll leave you alone.”

“I-I. Oh God!” Mercia grabbed her chin and forced her to look up into her eyes, “Richard asked me to distract you! I don’t know why, I swear. It has something to do with Keaira!” With a cruel smile gracing her lips, Mercia pushed down and released the rest of the liquid up and down her arm. A scream shattered her throat and she whimpered and transformed violently into her wolf form and dove beneath the desk to lick her wounds.

Free of the restrictive binding of this time, Mercia moved quickly through the history laden hallways. Rage filled her as she moved with such speed that she would have been scarcely a blur to any human who happened to be watching. When she arrived outside the bedroom of her surrogate daughter she heard noises inside, a loud crash of something heavy landing on the floor. Jerking the knob, she found that it resisted her and she kicked the door down, white dress fluttering behind her. Keaira had clearly put up a good fight, judging from the many bruises on Richard. However, his vampire strength had won out and she lay on the ground at his mercy. Mercia hesitated slightly before stepping forward, her children knew better then to disobey her. She’d found Richard when he was still a fledgling, bitten by some bar fly in a back alley. He had a lot of nerve to disobey her in such a way. Deeply into his chest, she plunged the stake and he spun to face her with wide eyes and she tried her best to apologize with her facial expression. Keaira was simply too important to let anyone, especially an arrogant childe, do anything to screw up her plans.

Something snapped inside her as he slowly turned to dust, still looking pleadingly at her. She ran a shaky hand through he black mane and felt cool tears wetting her face. Sensing her mentor’s anguish, the girl placed a hand comfortingly on her shoulder. Laughing through her tears, she affectionately cupped the girl’s cheek.

The next few weeks, Mercia was not herself. Keaira often caught her staring off into space for hours. Once she spent the entire night looking up at the milky moon with her green eyes until the sun came up. By the time Serenity told her that she hadn’t come in yet, the sun had already given her a severe burn. She seemed heartbroken by what had happened to Richard and Keaira truly felt for her. The next time she would see her lively would be the last time that she saw her alive.

It was in the early evening, twilight. Keaira was sitting in her room with Serenity, their bodies intertwined, simply being close to each other and listening to their smooth breaths. Suddenly there was a rap on the door and it opened to reveal a rather disheveled Mercia. Serenity slipped off from Keaira when Mercia sharply told her to get out of the room. Frowning, Keaira turned to look at her mentor and tipped her head in question.

“Keiara,” she whispered, “love, listen to me. Gods, you’re still so young! But you can do it, soon all my powers will be yours. Soon the kingdom of the vampires will be yours, all you have to do is accept who you are, all of who you are. Listen to me, I have to leave.”

Where will you be? Keaira asked her silently, worried because of the woman’s recent behavior that she would do something rash.

“Here,” she whispered, touching where Keaira’s heart was with a gentle hand, “My time here is done. There was a time when I was feared and worshiped all over the mortal and supernatural world. Now the mortal world has moved on to it’s latest frivolity and most of the vampires of this realm don’t realize that I still exist. Yes, my prime is over. But yours, yours is just beginning.” She vamped, “Are you scared?”

“Should I be?” Whispered the girl, her voice hoarse and stilted from disuse.

“It’s your destiny. Don’t fear, but embrace it.” Mercia sunk her fangs into the fragile skin of her child and sighed as she felt the rush of blood enter her mouth. She could feel Keaira’s every heartbeat and taste every emotion that was running through the girl. When the heartbeat’s grew rare and erratic, she pulled away and slit her wrist deeply with a silver letter opener, “Drink.”

TBC!



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