Authors: Shayne Leighton
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The Vampire’s Reflection
Copyright © 2013 by Shayne Leighton
Cover art by Shayne Leighton
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Also by Shayne Leighton
Of Light and Darkness
The Vampire’s Reflection
Dedicated to my wonderful mother for continuing to push me, and believing I can rise above it all.
And to Frantisek Mach, for believing in everything I am, and everything I could be.
And to all of my amazing friends, who have supported me from the beginning. Thank you for always standing beside me
…in time, she was able to see the large face of the moon. Silver, fading against the light of the sun, about to disappear under the horizon. But it would always come up again, she reminded herself. It always did.
The Vampire’s Daughter
Death was an expected visitor that came knocking at my door the moment I needed it the most. Death was surprisingly dependable. Death was what my life had been missing.
I will never forget my final moments as I was being ushered into becoming the thing I was never supposed to be.
The vile leech clung to me for support while the severe light from the coming morning broke through his stony flesh. I watched it rupture his wretched heart, burning his deathly skin from the inside. It was the most validating, satisfying thing I’d ever seen. He went ablaze in my arms. I felt the heat against me. We were killing each other, though I was winning. I had to be winning. I almost laughed as he suckled the life from me as though he were nothing more than a larva, starving for its sustenance. Death, at that moment, felt so undeniably good that I opened my arms wide and welcomed it.
Even now, it feels as if only a few moments ago, I was at my wedding, standing before the marble altar at dawn in front of hundreds of my subjects, about to embrace a life of love and servitude in my new kingdom and with the one I desired most. With Charlotte. I was only minutes from taking the throne. A new day. A new reign. Just like Vladislov promised me. Just like
The sun stretched desperately over the wicked spires of the Týn Church, eager to commandeer its rightful place at the very top of the atmosphere. It was where the light belonged. Night was dying a slow death beneath the onslaught of the morning. It set a gleam in my eye as I watched it through the windows, past the high priest as he rambled on. Vladislov was now deceased. I was about to have my turn with the Occult Kingdom…and with Charlotte.
But Death was the one who would deny me of all of it, for the fates had much grander expectations of me. I didn’t know it at that time, but I know it now.
At first, I hadn’t seen him enter the room. I grasped Charlotte’s trembling hand in mine as I faced forward. From the corner of my eye, I could see the strained expression on her face, the jewels of sweat forming at the base of her throat. The faint shudder of her eyelashes as she fought back tears. She didn’t know it either, but all I was trying to do was good—to rescue her from her miserable life in the darkness with those savage blood mongers. The minister droned on and on. His words melted together as I went on fantasizing about how satisfying my wedding night was going to be—exactly the fusion of passion and revenge I had been craving for nearly two decades.
was when I heard the gasps chorusing from the pews behind me. The slam of the heavy door as it swung open on its ancient and rusted hinges. I turned to look him in the eye. The bane of my existence. The leech. The dark hero. My skin burned with rage when I saw the despair in his eyes as they locked with hers. Charlotte gasped his name as I knew she would never gasp mine. That was enough for me.
I set off, down the aisle, to finish what we’d started. We ran at each other with the intention of final destruction. I knew that victory would belong to me, however, when Valek’s focus finally met the sunrise. Yet his persistent jaws locked to my throat in spite of his flesh crackling under the flames to embers. His will was strong. I couldn’t deny that.
His icy teeth buried inches into the flesh at my throat. I shoved him hard enough to knock one of his shoulders out of its socket. The room went blurry. An impossibly strong vacuuming sensation pulled at my insides, all of the fluid in my body feeling like it was being suctioned out. The empty half of myself fell completely to numbness as I continued to fight him with all my might. My mouth opened as my throat became more ravaged, like I was swallowing handfuls of sand. I heard no sound but my own, dying heartbeat. In spite of my life-force being pulled from me, I could still hear my stubborn heart hammering. A reminder to hold tight for what was to come. My fists slammed to his spine over a hundred times, it seemed. I could have sworn I cracked a few of his ribs, though he refused to break in my arms, cursed by the evil inside of him to yield against my power. But I was just as resilient. It was instinct—my last will to survive against the darkness.
Elves raced for any exit they could find, in fear of one of Valek’s parasites hunting them. I distinctly remember loud crashing, as if the Regime palace were falling to ruin around me. I could hear Charlotte’s distant wails from the front of the chapel, muddled underneath the ensuing chaos. Charlotte’s misery was absolute music to my ears, because while she had been so at ease before this day with her monster guardian, hiding from me in the decrepit bowels of the Golden City, I had been searching for her. No building had I left unturned. I searched until I could make her mine. Foolishly believing she was my love. She was nothing but a mere street snipe, guiding me on for years—holding my heart until it bled in her hands, before she threw it to the rats and refuse and left it there to rot.
That was where my heart stayed. It is still there now.
” I heard my mother howl for me. “
My baby! You’re killing my baby!
I lay, slain, on the ground. I felt something drip onto my lips, seeping into my mouth. I couldn’t see what it was. It tasted metallic. Salty. Rotten. And as my world began to blacken, the horrid fiend clung to my throat, sticky blood—my blood—seeping through the fabric of my tunic. My mother screamed and reached for me. Finally, I gave in to the forceful tide. Death was seductive. It beckoned me under and hugged me close. It denied me oxygen, something I did not miss at all.
I could hear a pulse, or perhaps it was two—wet and gushing in my ears. It aroused a feeling in me that I could not define. Something I needed to satisfy, though I didn’t yet know how. But I could not fight any longer.
At last, I was at peace among the clouded light. My body went limp, turning in the warm, soft wave. All of the screaming and crying had faded, and I felt nothing but my arms and legs floating out around my body, unfeeling as they swam through the beauty of all the nothing. The memories of the life I had only just departed from began to seem muddy and distant.
Charlotte’s emerald eyes were the last of those muddied images to shimmer before me. They did not anger me. They did not sadden me, nor throw me into an envious fit as they once had. They merely shimmered before me as a reminder of what my mission would be, once I woke.
It might have been days I floated in that infinite abyss. Not breathing. Not moving. Not being. It might have been weeks or months. I was unsure. I did not know how much time had passed, or what the fate of my mother was, or of my kingdom, or friends. I did not care. I only waited, knowing soon, my eyes would open again.
The fire set in. It turned my calm and cloudy ocean sanctuary to ash, as my body lay chained there…incinerating. Flames ate away at my flesh. I stroked my arms and batted my legs to get through the sea of fire, but no matter how I swam, I could not resurface. I remember howling so loud, yet the hopelessness of the nothing drowned out the noise. No one was there to save me. I thought that would be my eternal prison. I was surely in Hell. And I knew who put me there.
Until finally, there was that fateful moment when everything diminished into cooling, winter snow. My flesh was whole, my body alive with a complete, new power.
I opened my eyes, and began my search for her once more.
In Plain Sight
Are you sure about this?
Charlotte shot the mental question in the general direction where she knew Valek was hiding, though she still could not see him in the snowy brush.
Yes. I am sure. You are safe. Be still.
His words dripped velvet, sweet in her ears. He seemed so close; he could have been standing right there next to her with his lips pressed tenderly against the side of her head. Her cheeks and shoulders heated with the mere vibration of his voice and she couldn’t help the release of the smallest sigh.
When she opened her eyes again and glanced around, Valek was still nowhere to be seen. Charlotte always held the responsibility of doing the hunting for him when he’d been bound by the Regime and their laws, but the promise of witnessing Valek do it for himself before her now, exhilarated her. Finally being able to see the power, the stealth, created this odd warming sensation at the apples of her cheeks and down the tops of her arms. It made her palms sweat despite the freezing air and the quiver of her bottom lip.
Valek did not have the ability to be invisible, yet somehow he was. He did not have the ability to materialize out of thin air, yet somehow he managed.
The world was quiet. Snow fell in light flurries around the clearing as Charlotte stood meekly in the center, the sky above a dismal blanket of gray. It was light out, but as she searched, she could not find the sun behind all of the cloudy winter. She hugged her arms tightly to her chest as she shivered, though the chill was not a simple reaction to the harsh, Czech January. Her teeth chattered, though she remained as still as she possibly could. Old man winter had come and killed everything she loved about her little hideaway—the waterfall she used to love to escape to when things in her magical world seemed a little too overwhelmingly out-of-the-ordinary. Though most of the forest was evergreen, the pines almost completely blanketed with snow, some of the other trees looked withered and naked in the winter wind. She hugged her arms even tighter around herself.