Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog 43: Who I Am

I am a hot shower in the middle of winter
I am a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers on a summer day
I am the wind blowing through hair from the passenger seat of a pick up
I am red lipstick when feeling bold
I am a good book
I am the favorite pencil drawing in a sketch book
I am bowling for fun
I am a mason jar of homemade sweet iced tea
I am the first bite of a cupcake
I am sweet scented perfume
I am a sinner with a future
I am antique treasures
I am lit fragrant candles around the bath tub
I am a 4 x 4
I am cozy house slippers in winter
I am American Muscle
I am a medium rare steak
I am the mission to find the perfect pumpkin for Halloween
I am poetry
I am a foot rub after a long day
I am pearls and lace with a little bit of camo and a little bit of mud
I am struggling conversational French
I am Dr. Pepper
I am taking a walk at dusk
I am freedom
I am blue jeans
I am a competitive match of miniature golf
I am blogging irregularly
I am the edge of a seat during a good movie
I am Thanksgiving Dinner
I am a mixed drink
I am orange
I am hand made jewelry
I am learning something new every day
I am folk rock, country, alternative, pop, and indie
I am vintage clothing
I am a fashion statement for black is the new pink
I am pinup
I am working hard, playing hard, and napping hard
I am optimism
I am an early morning with a bright eyed baby
I am the poster child for falling in love with the bad boy
I am a good girl with tattoos
I am having a past
I am a Hufflepuff
I am born in the wrong era
I am comfort food
I am Irish, English, Dutch, German, Russian, and Sicilian
I am a board game with friends
I am learning new cultures and customs
I am portraits
I am stubborn
I am a fangirl
I am making things work
I am born a dreamer and trained a fighter
I am me

Blog 42: Moral of the Story

What the Disney heroines taught me...

Ariel taught me you don't have to live up to anyone's expectations but your own
Belle taught me that everyone needs someone
Aurora taught me love will prevail
Cinderella taught me to never stop dreaming
Snow White taught me to be wary of strangers
Odette taught me there is beauty in unexpected places
Rapunzel taught me it doesn't hurt to try something new
Alice taught me to expect the unexpected
Pocahontas taught me to fight for what you believe in
Esmeralda taught me no one is better than anyone else
Megara taught me you can always right a wrong
Lilo taught me that family comes first
Jane Porter taught me to look deeper than skin
Kida taught me you learn something new every day
Tiana taught me hard work pays off
Meredith taught me it's okay to be a tomboy, too

Monday, July 8, 2013

Blog 41: Ships

So I've decided to dedicate a blog to ships!! If you don't know what that is, a ship is the endorsement of a romantic relationship between two fictional characters in a book, movie, etc. They cause a lot of controversy between fans but honestly, it's just someone's opinion. I'm going to list the movie, ship name, names of characters shipped, and I will put a <3 by my favorite of them all.

Harry Potter:
Ronmione- Ron & Hermione
Hinny- Harry & Ginny
Snily- Snape & Lily <3
Ronks- Remus & Tonks

The Vampire Diaries:
Klaroline- Klaus & Caroline <3
Delena- Damon & Elena
Aljenna- Alaric & Jenna
Mebekah- Matt & Rebekah
Janna- Jeremy & Anna
Stefarina- Stefan & Katarina

Pirates of the Caribbean:
Wilizabeth- Will & Elizabeth
Philyrena- Phillip & Syrena <3

The Fast and the Furious:
Dometty- Dominic & Letty
Hansele- Han & Gisele <3
Brimia- Brian & Mia

Michaelene- Michael & Selene
Luconja- Lucian & Sonja <3

Random ships:
Johnaby- Johnny & Baby from Dirty Dancing
Mandora- Marius & Pandora from The Vampire Chronicles (books)
Arawen- Aragorn & Arwen from Lord of the Rings
Zuki- Zero & Yuki from Vampire Knight
Gabrianna- Gabriel & Anna from Van Helsing
Grilo- Grave Robber & Shilo from Repo! The Genetic Opera
Adercy- Adam & Mercedes (Mercy) from Moon Called (books)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog 40: In Our Blood - Book One of the Lukos-Anthropos Trilogy (Part 1-5)

Liliana Vrykolakas

I was surrounded. I should have known that if I kept sneaking around I’d get caught. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of this mess and I knew damn well that no one was going to listen to anything I had to say. I had no choice but surrender or die; neither of which sounded pleasant but if I surrendered, that gave me the slightest chance to get away. I put my hands up, showing them I had no weapons, and dropped to both knees as softly as I could manage on the rocky ground. I kept my head down. Even with my hood and mask, I was sure someone would recognize me and if that happened, it would mean beheading. If I died, so be it, but I’d like my body to go back to my family in one piece. I heard one barking orders at the others before they enclosed their snaring circle of wolves in human form. Someone from behind roughly bound my hands together while another forced me to stand. I looked ahead of me, then seeing the commander. I could keep a calm façade but my heart starting racing; it was their prince.

He was a tall and strongly built man with dark hair and eyes that bore into your soul. His build was sturdy, durable, and his features were sharply defined but yet very homely. You could see a 5 o’clock shadow on his jaw as if he hadn’t shaved in a couple days. He was rugged for being royalty with his unkempt hair and dirty trousers. In my opinion, it showed how hardworking he was. His presence was smothering; nearly overwhelming. You could tell what a great leader he was just by the way he stood. He was a man that knew what he wanted and got just that. He held no remorse for me, I knew, and his eyes showed no signs of mercy. I knew from that moment on, I was dead.

“Let’s see who we have here,” he said as he brought his large hand toward my face.

I wanted to turn my head so badly and fight him with every ounce of strength I had, but what good would it do?? I’d only tire myself in the process. So I just stood there, silent, watching him with observing eyes. Just as his fingertips touched the cool metal along my cheekbone, shouts rang out and two of his men dropped. He immediately turned his attention to his surroundings and drew his sword as he ordered his men to fight. That’s when I head butted my keeper. Once he stumbled back from the surprise force, I twirled around, bringing my bound fists up in the process. I connected with his jaw and heard a deafening crack and then a howl of pain. I started running out of the clearing and into the woods where I’d have a better chance of evading. I was just on the edge of the tree line when someone tackled me to the ground. I rolled a few feet before stopping. I was face down in the dirt, making it difficult for me to push myself back up. I managed to get to my knees and as I looked over, there he was. His eyes were enraged as he stared back at me but after a second or two, there was surprise. That’s when I realized my mask had fallen off when I was tumbling. I scrambled to my feet and ran as fast as they would take me west. I dared not to look behind me both out of fear of being followed and because I didn’t want to see him ever again.

I wasn’t sure how long I ran before stopping finally to calm my heart rate.  Even as a vampire I needed rest; the physical limitations of the body rarely increased as an undead. I managed to break the bonds on my wrists, with little ease. They were tender from how tightly they were bound so I rubbed them as I kept going. It was getting dark out, nearly dusk, when I reached the city walls. I sighed, thinking about the men that had come to save me and how many of them wouldn’t make it home tonight. I followed the wall closely, my mind finally able to process what had just occurred. I was nearly captured and killed, my rescuers had been forced to put their lives ahead of mine, and I was found out by the prince of werewolves no less. This was sure to cause chaos between the two countries and it was my entire fault. I felt so selfish, childish even, for thinking I wouldn’t get caught trespassing. And for what, the best view of the sunset over the ocean?? None of it seemed worth it now. Not the view or the peace it brought me, let alone the danger is posed. I was certain I’d be locked up once I entered the city. I was a liability now. Never once had I disappointed myself so much but I was sure I wasn’t the only one who’d be disappointed in me by morning.

I came across the gate and slipped inside. I threw my hood over my eyes and hurried through the busy streets, having to push past a number of men, women, and children. I ducked into an alleyway and took a very small corridor along the city wall toward the castle. Water sloshed beneath my boots as I walked along. I could smell the mustiness of the stone barrier and it was nearly sickening. Finally I came up to the doorway leading into the cellar of my home and pushed it open. Once inside, I took a breath of the cool air that smelled so much like wine infused wood. I pulled my hood down, taking in the dim lighting. Trying not to be seen, or confronted, I crept my way up the stairs to the main floor of the house. I made it to the staircase for the upstairs when I heard, “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”

I turned around with my shoulders squared, only to see my twin brother standing at the bottom of the stairs with his arms crossed. Drake was tall and lanky, much like our grandfather. His dark hair was neatly combed and he was always clean shaven which made him look younger than what he was. Given his humorous nature he was generally a serious man with a sharp wit and protective nature. His elegant features and warm eyes would cause many women to find him handsome. Now he had an amused look on his face until he saw that I was covered in dirt, sweat, and that my mask was missing. His brows drew close together in concern as he approached me. His hand touched my face, colder than ice. That’s when I realized I was trembling.

“Lil, what on Earth happened to you??”

I looked around to make sure no one could hear us before I answered him, “I was out for a walk.”

“Not just any walk, it seems. Tell me where you’ve been.”

“I was going to see the ocean.”

“Going to see the ocean?? Lil, the ocean is nearly 18 miles east of here.”

“I know that, Drake.”

That’s when it sunk in. His eyes became furious and he grabbed my arms tightly and shook me once, “What were you thinking?? Do you have a death wish?? Do you know what could’ve happened had they caught you??”

“I know the risks, I’m not a child.”

“Then what were you thinking, Liliana??”

“I don’t know, OK?? I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously I thought I wasn’t going to get caught.”

“Of course you weren’t thinking. Wait, thought you weren’t going to get caught?? As in, you did get caught??”

“I got away as you can see. Some of the men were out patrolling the border and -.”

“What if they hadn’t been?! Those monsters could have done anything to you and we would’ve never found your body unless they brought us to it!! How could you be so stupid?!”

I threw his hands off of me and pushed him back, “I get it, now will you stop shouting?!”

“No, Liliana, this isn’t like spilling wine at the dinner table it’s -.”

“He saw me, Drake.”

I could see the suspicion in his eyes then.

“Who saw you??”

“Roman…Roman saw who I was before I had a chance to get away.”

He became worried then, again, and hugged me tightly to his chest. I pressed my face against him and squeezed my eyes tightly shut. His long fingers brushed through my ratted hair, “We will not be telling mother and father of this, understood??”

I only nodded.

He escorted me to my room so that I could shower and change for supper. I peeled off my dirty clothes, shivering at the sudden cold air. I hopped under the showerhead and turned the water on full blast, letting the heat take over my body. The massage of the water jet was soothing and the steam filled my lungs; warming me to the core. I let my mind go blank; relaxing into the spray. I wasn’t sure how long I’d taken but it didn’t really matter; they would never start without me. My brother had been so kind as to lay out a dress for this evening. I was rushing to get ready but the moment I grabbed it so that I could put it on, I stopped and smiled. It was one of my favorites: a long black silk Saint Laurent gown with an embroidered bow front and draping back. It was so elegantly beautiful. I paired with it black Christian Louboutin pigalle pumps and some simple jewelry. I stopped for a second in front of my vanity mirror and stared at myself. It had seemed like centuries had gone by. I was a grown woman now; no little girl looked back at me anymore. I remembered the days when I was young when I had so wished to be an adult but now I wish I were that innocent again. In those days the world didn’t seem to bitter. Some days I’d give it all to be ignorant again. I knew better though. My family needed me to stand as one of them for together we could prevail; family first and family forever. I forced myself to look away. There was no need fussing over the past. It’s been so long I thought I’d have forgotten it by now but I suppose there’s always that part of us that wishes we could start over.

Speaking of family, there they stood at the bottom of the staircase, waiting for me. They were all talking amongst themselves happily it seemed and it made me smile. Drake was the first to notice me, and of course, announced my presence.

“Ah, there’s the lovely Lili. So glad you could join us, sister.”

I took his hand as I touched the ground floor and smiled a bit bigger, “My apologies for taking so long. Shall we??”

My father motioned for us all to enter the dining hall where supper was served.

We took our respected places at the long table and even with all of us home, it was never filled. My father, Wolfe and my mother, Elizana, sat next to each other at the head of the large table while we kids sat along the sides. My oldest sibling, my sister Ariana, sat closest to our father with her husband, Pierre. Next to her was my oldest brother, Falcon and his wife, Vanessa. Then across from them, there was Drake to my left, myself, and my youngest sibling, my brother, Raven.  When we had company, my mother would move to the other end with half of the children so that we could all equally entertain our guests. Supper started with a simple salad with clementine fruit, pecans, blue cheese crumble, and lettuce. At first we ate in silence, as always, but once the main course was being brought out, my father spoke up.

“As you all know, we have a court session in the morning, and I do expect all of you to be there. It is futile you are all present.”

He never sounded so serious about court and especially never wanted Raven there; he was far too young yet. We all knew it wasn’t a question and said, “Yes, father.”

“Liliana, your father and I need to speak with you privately after supper, dear.”

I turned to my mother with slight surprise but nodded, “Of course, mother.”

As the main course was brought out, I pondered what they could possibly want. Drake said that he’d never tell mom and dad about earlier so what could it be?? I turned my attention back to the conversation and the food; not wanting to be rude. My father smiled and motioned for us to eat. On our plates was a beautifully seasoned and braised lamb, cooked to perfection paired with a cheesy tomato risotto and a delicious red wine. I smiled softly as I cut into the tender meat and took a bite; my favorite. It came off a bit shocking to see this; it was a rarity in our household, usually saved for special occasions.

“What’s the occasion, father??”

He barely looked up at me when he spoke, “Nothing, really, your mother had just suggested it is all. Isn’t that right, honey??”

She gave me a smile, “Don’t you like it??”

“Of course I do.”

“Then eat and enjoy it; we won’t have it again until your birthday.”

I did as I was told; barely making conversation with my siblings as they swapped stories and jokes. Dessert came quickly. We were served a creamy coffee infused amaretto tiramisu. As supper came to a close, my father wiped his mouth and stood so we followed suit.

“Liliana, meet us in the study and as for everyone else, good night.”

We bowed our heads before exiting the dining hall. As everyone was leaving, Drake took my arm and nearly dragged me to the side.

“I didn’t say a word, I swear.”

“I know that, Drake, no one did.”

He looked puzzled, “Then what could this possibly be about??”

I shook my head, “I have no clue. I’m just as confused as you are. But I will tell you what they say in the morning. I’m sure I’ll be exhausted by the time we’re finished.”

“Alright then, I’ll be your wake up.”

“Good night, Drake.”

“Good night, Lil.”

With that, we parted ways; he to his room and I to the study. The door was open when I arrived so I stepped inside. I was greeted with the sight of my parents, our family portraits, and my father’s book collection. The warmth from the dimly lit fireplace was comforting and the smell of fresh cigars reminded me of my grandfather. My father was standing, facing away from the door while my mother sat in a chair next to a seat for me. Without looking at me, my father spoke, “Shut the door and sit down.”

I was puzzled by his sharp tongue but did as he said, joining my mother. She took my hands in hers like she would when I was sad and this only made my confusion grow.

“What is going on that you’re not telling me??”

My mother looked up at my dad, who stood there for a minute, then turned around to face us. He seemed stricken, grave even. His usually handsome features were filled with dismay and sadness. It seemed as if someone had died. He pulled a hand across his face, causing what little bangs he had to become disarrayed. Finally, after a long deep breathe, he spoke to me.

“Before the morning’s court, there is something you need to be aware of. You know that we have had a number of court sessions these past few months discussing the war. The council and the two families have reached an agreement of sorts,” he stopped there and leaned against his desk.

“Alright, but why does this concern me?? I’m not in power to say anything worthwhile.”

“You soon will be.”

“I don’t understand. You’re both still in reign and I’m second to last in line as a predecessor.”

My father’s sigh was heavy, harsh, unruly, “Yes, for our crown you are, but not for the crown of Lukos.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heart him right. I looked to my mother for verification and the sad smile she gave me told me that I had. I became tense, angry even, “What are you saying??”

My mother took over then, touching my shoulder for comfort, “What we are saying is that the only way they would sign a peace agreement was if we bonded the families. He has only sons and since Ariana is already wed -.”

I stood, shoving her hand away, “So you thought to just pawn me off as a token of peace without my consent?? How dare you; both of you!!”

My father became angered, “You do not understand; this was the only way.”

“But to do so without even asking is preposterous!!”

“I do not need permission from you, you are my daughter!!”

“Yes, but I am also a person, not an object!! This is my life and you’ve just ruined any chance I had of being happy!!”

“You will do as I say, Liliana, no questions!!”

My heart filled with sadness, hatred, and even betrayal as I looked at them now. My own parents had decided to give me away to a man I only knew from horror stories and had almost been killed by earlier that day. Who was to promise that he wouldn’t try once we were alone or that his people wouldn’t try?? I was done for. Any chance or dream I had to be a wife to a respectable man was gone and for my parents to wait till the night before to tell me was beyond disrespectful to me and my dignity. How could they?? I sunk back into my seat, my hand going to my throat like it did when I felt vulnerable, “How could you??” It came out barely louder than a whisper, “How could you??”

I could feel the tears swelling up. I knew I shouldn’t let them, but they fell, and I sobbed into my mother’s neck as she took hold of me. Somewhere in the time I had started crying until I’d stopped, my father had vanished to his room in his own dismay to deal with his guilt. My mother stayed with me until I couldn’t cry anymore. She offered to take me up to my room but I needed to be alone. Tomorrow I’d learn all the details and obligations of my marriage. Marriage…the word seemed so foreign to me. Then to think of who my husband would be was even stranger. I wasn’t even sure how the ceremony would go. My people bit and drank from each other as if to mark their mate and we mated for life. We never gave ourselves to anyone else before marriage and never to anyone else after. I had no clue what his clan did but I did know that no matter who I was married to, I would be treated as I wanted. I guess I would see if I was strong enough, or brave enough, to tell him what I wanted to his face since he was such an intimidating man. I knew well enough that his kind could easily kill mine for they were created to control us and protect humans. As a vampire I had all the power in the world, but against him, I was nearly useless. In human form they were nearly equal to us but as wolves, they could tear me to pieces without as much as a scream from my lips.
I fell onto my bed without changing from my evening gown and closed my eyes. Even though my parents had no other option for peace from a war that had been going on for millennia, I couldn’t help but wish there was some other way. After tonight, I’d hold my chin up high and carry out my duties as a Vrykolakas. For now I would weep for myself and mourn the loss of a life that I could never have. For now I would lie awake, dreaming about it. Tomorrow I’d be alright…

Roman Lukos  

We could smell the creature from miles away. How one was so stupid as to cross onto our land, I didn’t know, but we had it cornered. As we made our way to the clearing, one by one we stepped out of the trees. The vampire stopped and looked around; debating whether to run or surrender. My lip curled at the corner. I wish it would run. The hunt gave me such a thrill but the capture was always victorious. We watched as it raised its hands into the air and dropped to its knees. They were making this too easy for us.

“Fang, Van, bind it.”

My men closed in around the vampire as Fang bound its wrists and Van pulled it to its feet. It struck me odd that it covered its face with a mask; clearly not wanting to be known. I had a feeling that meant it was someone of importance so this capture would be even more glorious. The creature stared at me as I walked forward, its piercing blue eyes never leaving me. I stopped toe to toe with it, easily a foot taller. This one was a woman for sure, or a young man, but it was hidden under a billowy cloak. I had no mercy for its kind: the vampire. They had taken too much from me and my people. Whoever this was would be set as an example and beheaded.

“Let’s see who we have here.”

I raised my hand to take off the metal mask that covered all but the eyes of the creature and just as my fingertips touched, two of my men dropped.

“Defend yourselves!!”

My men immediately went into a defensive mode, attacking whatever it was that had surprised us. Clearly we had all been focused on our latest capture that we hadn’t noticed them coming. I was busy breaking the neck of a vampire soldier when I looked over and saw the captive head butt Fang who doubled over in surprise. Then they twirled around and knocked him in his jaw; breaking it. I growled in anger and frustration when they started to run toward the trees. They wouldn’t get away. Not this time. So I ran as fast as I could to catch up and tackled it to the ground. As it went rolling, I planted my foot and stopped upright in a kneeling position. I was aimed in now; it was mine and it was dead. I saw it struggle to get up with its hands bound and smirked. I stood and started towards it, noticing now the long hair and small feet. It was a woman. I felt my foot hit something and looked down, seeing the metal mask that had once covered the face of the beast. As I looked up, she was looking at me with wide eyes. It couldn’t be…I stopped in my tracks, stunned. It was the princess. I just stared after her in shock as she ran. What the hell was she doing on our land?? She had no weapons on her, or guards for that matter, so what could it be?? My thoughts were disrupted as one of my men came up to me.

“Sir, seven of the enemy forces are dead and the rest got away. We have three wounded and two dead.”

I nodded, slowly turning my attention from the trees where the princess had disappeared into, to my soldier, “Gather our dead and wounded and let’s head home. Leave their bodies to rot.”

My men were busied with lifting our dead onto their shoulders while I knelt down next to the mask that had fallen off her face. It was made of thin steel, woven like lace. The design was so fragile; I couldn’t imagine the time it would’ve taken someone to make it. There were several details of swirls imbedded with diamond that from far away had looked like little lights when they reflected the sun. In the center of the forehead was a larger diamond which distinguished this mask from any other of its kind; this was made for royalty. Some of the trim was painted black to contrast the whiteness of the diamonds, creating an elegant and regal look. The mask only formed around the eyes, nose, and cheek bones but otherwise was a simple form of a face: rounded off at the top to contour with the forehead, then straight down the side of the face to the jaw bone and then coming out slightly to a point at the bottom of the chin. I was almost afraid to grab it now that I saw just how fine it was. I wrapped it in a piece of cloth torn from the end of my cloak and put it carefully in my bag. Who knew when I’d see her again??

As I looked over the clearing, blood and bodies covered the rock and grass like a scene from a horror film. We rounded up and started off; I didn’t want to worry about the vampires that had escaped. I was preoccupied with the thought of the princess being the one I nearly beheaded today; she was one lucky girl. If her men hadn’t been patrolling, she’d have been a goner. I’m sure she knew this. She should count her blessings.

We made it to the city in no time, even carrying our dead and wounded. My men were strong and brave; the best of the best. Tomorrow I’d find replacements for the dead, but for now, they would be mourned. My best friend, Thaos, met us at the gate with a solemn expression. He picked up pace with me easily to talk.

“What happened??”

I smirked at him; he never beat around the bush, “Vampires. We had one captured but then some of their soldiers attacked us and she got away.”


Damn it. I needed to watch what I was saying. No one could know that it was the princess or else all hell was going to break loose, “Yeah, just some peasant girl is all.”

He nodded, believing me, “How many did you get?? I don’t see any bodies with your men.”

“We left them to be eaten. There were 12 there but five got away.”

“Not bad,” he patted my shoulder and stopped me in my tracks, “I’ll meet you at the castle. There is something that needs to be discussed between you and your father.”

The look in his eyes was very worrisome for an optimistic man. I let my men continue on as I stopped to talk with Thaos, “Thaos, my friend, if you knew you’d tell me, yes??”

He hesitated, “It is not for me to say, I’m afraid; just like you’re hiding who it really was that you captured today.”

Thaos, always one steps ahead of me. I had always joked with him that he should be the prince, not I. I took my time, debating the outcome of telling him and decided that Thaos knew when to keep his mouth shut; especially on my account. He was the best friend anyone could ask for.

“Listen to me, if I say who it was, you must tell me what my father needs me for.”


I took a slow, deep breathe before continuing, “It wasn’t just a peasant girl, it wasn’t a peasant girl at all. It was Liliana Vrykolakas, Thaos.”

The look on his face troubled me. His features were filled with surprise, worry, and what seemed like relief. I grabbed his shoulders tightly, “What is it that my father wishes to discuss??”

I knew that look meant that it was something to worry about; Thaos was always too calm to worry about the little things.

“Your future wife has been decided.”

“Has been decided, as in, without my opinion?? Well who is she?? Which of the female warriors won the Rite of Dunamas?? Was it Mia??”

I hoped strongly that it had been Mia; we had too much of a history for it to be anyone else. I wasn’t sure I’d be happy with anyone less. She was beautiful, strong, smart, and could match anyone of us in battle. Her body was lithe and her mind was sharp. She could overpower a room by just walking through it. She was the definition of a queen and nothing less.

He shook his head, “There was no Rite this year; she’s no warrior.”

I became puzzled and even more suspicious. My temper was rising, “Thaos, who is she??”

“The same woman you nearly beheaded this afternoon, the princess of the Vrykolakas house.”

Had I heard him right?? This must be a joke. I started to chuckle but stopped when I noticed he was looking at me so gravely, too serious to be joking. My heart stopped in my chest. What was my father thinking, betrothing me to a monster?? Had I no say in the matter of my life?? Who was to say she wouldn’t kill me in my sleep or her people?? He’s grown soft and too trusting in his old age. I growled and punched the wall nearest me, the stones crumbling beneath my fist and onto my boot. Thaos did nothing but stand there, waiting for me to blow it off. I wasn’t sure this was something I could just blow off like dust from a window sill. This was far bigger than that. She was the enemy. If I married her that meant I was stuck with her. If I married her I’d have no heirs, no son to raise as my own or to teach since the races couldn’t be combined. That knowledge hit me harder than knowing that Mia wouldn’t be the woman I went home to every night. Oh gods, how was she going to take this?? I was certain she’d never speak to me again, even if it wasn’t my choice. How dare my father do this??

“When was he planning to tell me??”

“Tonight after supper when you had alone time.”              

“Does anyone else know besides the court council??”

“Your mother and I, no one else.”

“Does she know??”

He shrugged his broad shoulders, “I don’t know.”

I nodded slowly, “When will this be announced??”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“What?! Are you fucking kidding me right now?! My father gave my life away without permission to a goddamn vampire and he wasn’t going to say a word till the night before?!”

“I wish I was kidding but I’m afraid not. I’m sorry, Roman, truly I am. You always spoke about having a life with Mia like the one I have with Bianca. But now it seems as though you won’t get any of that…if anyone deserved a family, it was you.”

I nodded, clasping his forearm, “Thank you, Thaos.”

“Keep your head up, you never know, something good may come from this.”

“Is it selfish of me to wish it was happening to someone else??”

“No. Now go and be easy on your father; he’s an old man now.”

We both laughed and parted ways. I would never understand his optimism. I couldn’t keep the mood light as I made my way to the castle to seek out my father. Now that I knew how serious this was, I couldn’t pretend as if I didn’t know. I’m sure Thaos knew that when he told me. I’m not one to hold my tongue. The castle was busy for it being nightfall, people scurrying about this way and that to get their jobs accomplished. I found my father in his trophy room, sharing a glass of bourbon with my younger brothers, Kyler and Anthony.

“Boys, leave us, I need a moment alone with our father.”

They all looked at me. The boys stood without question and exited the room while my father downed the last bit of liquor in his glass before turning to me.

“Well, close the door, my son.”

I did so but didn’t move any closer to him. He set his glass on a tray and without looking at me, said, “Thaos told you, did he??”


“I figured as much,” he paused before looking at me,” Listen to me, Roman, this was the only way to bring peace between our people. This war has been going on for millennia and our ancestors fought only to protect ourselves and the humans but now it is about hatred. We would be frowned upon, my son. I wish there was some other way but you are the next in line for the throne and in order to show them that we mean no more harm to their people is by binding the two lines. Now, before you say anything, know that I am sorry for you, my son. Being the oldest holds all the responsibilities, even ones no one wishes to see out. And you know that I am old, near passing, and I needed to know before I died that you or your brothers would not have to face the treachery of this war. I ask your forgiveness and pray that this doesn’t come back to bite us in the ass so to speak.”

All of the anger I had built up inside of me was gone. My father was too right for me to argue with. Yes, I would be giving up plenty of my dreams to fulfill just one of his but it was one that our ancestors had only prayed about. If this could bring about peace for generations to come, then so be it.

“You have my forgiveness, father, without question.”

When he smiled I saw just how old he really was. Growing up, you think your father will never die but I see it in his body and his spirit. He was growing tired. I understood why he did this whether I liked it or not. I took his withering body in my arms and hugged him like I hadn’t done since I was just a young boy. He squeezed back as hard as he could manage with an affection he rarely showed. It was a moment neither of us would ever forget.

After allowing my brothers to come back in, I left without saying a word. I needed to find Mia. If tonight was the last night I was a single man, I would be hers. I found her at the training field, running. I stood and watched her for a moment; enjoying too much the sight of her glimmering with sweat. As she came around the curve, she spotted me and smiled so brightly I thought the sun was still at its highest peak. She ran right to me and wrapped her arms around my neck. I couldn’t help but smile and kiss her pretty mouth.

“What are you doing out here so late, Roman??”

“I was looking for you, actually.”

“Well, you found me, what’s going on??”

“I don’t want to talk about it right now, I just need you.”

Her eyebrows drew into a v with worry. Her calloused hand touched my cheek, “Oh, Roman…,” she then pulled me close to her and kissed me hard. I could get lost in her.

I didn’t care where we were; I picked her up and carried her behind the training center. We spent no time waiting. Even though she had no idea what it was for, she returned her love without hesitation, like it was our last time. I knew that it was even if she didn’t. I knew that I would never again get to even touch her hand and it tore me apart. I wish I could’ve spent the whole night with her but I knew I shouldn’t. If I did, I would never leave. In the end, I held her to me tightly, telling her I loved her over and over again. She never again asked what all this was about, only returned my fervor with joy. When it came time for us to part, she walked away first. I watched her with sad eyes until she was out of sight. I felt the urge to cry but I would never do that; I needed to be strong.

I walked home without any other detours and went straight to my bed where I laid, thinking about my life and how in the morning, it would no longer be mine. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, my mother was sitting on the edge of the bed, stroking my hair.

Her smile was soft, “Good morning, my son.”

I sat up next to her, “What time is it??”

“Near dawn.”

“What are you doing in here??”

“I needed to see you happy one last time,” her voice broke and a tear fell down her face.

I took her into a hug, gently rocking, “Oh, mother, this is not the last.”

She wiped her eyes carefully as though not to ruin her makeup, “It is so and you know it. Soon you’ll be marrying a woman you do not love.”

I couldn’t say anything about that to make her feel better; she already knew it was the only way. So I said the only thing I could, “I know, mother.”

We sat in silence for minutes before she broke my hold on her and stood, smoothing her skirt out in the process, “Come now, shower and change so that we can head off. The council meets at seven this morning; we have much to discuss,” with that she kissed my forehead and left my room without another word.

I took my time getting ready into my court clothes; I never liked them anyway but today they seemed extra stiff. I was ready to leave when I remembered the mask. I grabbed the bag that it was in and sighed; I guess I’d see her sooner than I had thought. After forcing myself to leave my room, I made my way downstairs. I was greeted with the sight of my parents, brothers, and even Thaos and Bianca. I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd; these people were my family and support system whom I could never thank enough.

“Good morning, Roman,” Bianca’s sweet voice greeted me.

“Good morning, Bianca. How is the little one treating you?? He should be ready any day now.”

Her smile was bright, “Oh yes, we’re all very anxious.”

She was glowing. Always a pretty woman the pregnancy only enhanced it. She was such a sweet lady at first, Thaos had thought she was too good for him; some of us had agreed. But she had stayed with him, through it all, and had proven that he needed her. When they had found each other, I had wished so strongly for a love like that. I wanted something so strong that even death couldn’t tear it apart. They were so happy together. My heart ached with the thought that Mia and I would never have that. Even if I didn’t get my happy ending, I so wished that Mia did; she deserved a great man.

My father spoke up, “Let’s leave; we can’t be late today.”

And with that, we were out the door and in our carriages. Everyone sat silent for the duration of the ride, anticipating and dreading today’s events. As we came upon the council’s arena, my heart sank even deeper into my stomach and any idea I had of being gentle about this was gone. How much could one really pretend?? Trumpets sounded and we were greeted with council members as we entered the building and I could only wonder at how they were so happy given what was about to occur. We took our respected seats on the east side and waited tensely for the Vrykolakas family to arrive. After mere moments, the trumpets sounded once again, we turned to the door and watched as my future wife entered the room. Wife…what a strange word to use for someone other than Mia let alone a vampire.
One could call her beautiful; breathtaking even. She had an air about her that was both elegant and reserved yet her eyes were observant and curious. Her body seemed fragile like her mask but was full in all the right places; supple enough for child bearing. The darkness of her hair contrasted with the paleness of her skin and her striking blue eyes. Her features were subtle but defined, showing her royal bloodline well. In her world I’m sure she was sought after but a part of me truly hated her. I hated her and her kind regardless of my not knowing her or the predicament we were in. I knew I would never love her.

Liliana Vrykolakas

I didn’t sleep a wink. I had too much on my mind for sleep. Today my betrothal would be publicized and I was so nervous, I nearly felt like vomiting. For one, he was sure to recognize me from yesterday and secondly, we were meeting respectfully for the first time. He was such an intimidating man and so fierce, I wasn’t sure if he had a soft side. Not that I expected love from him but at least a mutual respect and maybe even friendship. My parents called it a marriage but I knew it was simply a business partnership.

I was already in my court clothes when I heard a knock on my door.

“Come in.”

Drake poked his head in before entering, “Oh, you’re already awake.”

I nodded, “Yes, I couldn’t sleep.”

“I brought breakfast. You didn’t drink last night so I figured you’d want to replenish before court.”

How thoughtful, “Thank you.”

After handing me the chalice, he sat on the edge of my bed while I drank. I could feel my body awaken with the new life I was pouring into it. The warmth of the fresh blood heated my body lovingly. Its thick sweetness caressed my tongue and moistened my parched throat. After several long swallows, the cup was empty, and I sighed; feeling much better. As much as it was a curse it was also a blessing in a way. It took away from us but gave so much more.

Drake took the cup from my hand and smiled, encouragingly soft, “I’ll let you alone until we have to leave,” and with that, parted.

Then I sat alone, again, with my thoughts to keep me sorrowful company. I don’t think that even being prepared for years that this day would’ve come any easier; it was very unfathomable. But was it any better to be forced into it so suddenly?? I think not. I was certain that Roman was not going to accept this and I was even more certain that he hated me. How could we even humor the idea of a life together if that was the case?? If we hated each other so much it would just turn our parents’ dream into a complete nightmare. And at that point, we wouldn’t even think twice about being ashamed. I didn’t want to let my parents down but one could only do so much against hatred.

There was a gentle knock at my door followed by Drake’s voice, “It’s time.”

I sighed and stood, my feet taking me slowly to my tragedy. Who knew how many days I had after this one?? I couldn’t help but feel like I was walking into my death.

Our carriage took us to the council chamber where outside we saw the Lukos family carriage being taken care of at the stables. My mother squeezed my hand firmly, supportively, and I smiled at her. I hope she couldn’t tell how nervous I really was. I took a deep, calming breath before I stepped out of our carriage; it would be bad enough without him knowing I was antsy. I followed my family as we entered the chamber. The trumpets nearly made me jump; so much for being calm. I had to force myself not to look over at the Lukos family table. It seemed like an eternity, the walk to our side. I stopped breathing; he was looking at me. I could feel the intensity of his stare and it made me wonder what he could possibly be thinking even thought a part of me didn’t want to know.

After we took our seats, the head of council stood up and addressed the court, “We welcome you, Lukos family, and Vrykolakas family, to the court. Today, April 30, is the day of change in our great nation; today is the day of victory. As of now, the Millennia War is nonexistent and peace is upon us,” we watched as he lifted a scroll for all to see, “this here is a treaty drawn up by the Kings and the people of the council. It reads: ‘For the people…He who bears arms against his brother race bears arms against his brother and shall be tried for treason. He who is not willing to live in peace will be cast out to fend for himself. For the families…Prince Roman is hereby King of the Lukos-Anthropos and in a month’s time shall be wed. Princess Liliana, last remaining female heir, is hereby betrothed to King Roman and shall rule at his side ahead of the Lukos-Anthropos. So is the law.”

“So is the law.”

I jumped slightly at the reverberation of a hundred voices calling back to the council. I caught myself looking over at King Roman, trying his expression. He seemed so still, like a statue, without much emotion on his face. But his eyes…his eyes were clouded as if he were in a daydream. I felt myself feeling pity for him, like I had myself the night before; pity for being forced into this life with me forever. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d had a life before this; if he’d had a chosen wife. My heart ached. As much as I pitied myself, I would do my best to please both my parents and him. We both deserved a good life, whether with someone we loved or not. I only hoped he felt the same, but if not, I wouldn’t give up.

“Proceed to balcony.”

We all stood and headed to the balcony overlooking the waiting people. I took a deep breath and reserved my emotions; a royal never showed emotion to its people. The rush of the spring breeze hit me square in the face, chilling my skin and awaking my senses. We stood aside as the head of the council addressed our people and I couldn’t help but notice how they separated themselves as if there was a wall between them. How would they react??

“People of the Lukos family, people of the Vrykolakas family, we have come to a conclusion for our unsettling lives: the Millennia War is officially over,” There was a commotion of voices both shocked and angered like we knew there would be. Once the council leader raised his hand, all went silent again, “Law 11: He who bears arms against his brother race bears arms against his brother and shall be tried for treason. Law 12: He who is not willing to live in peace will be cast out to fend for himself. Law 13: Prince Roman is hereby King of the Lukos-Anthropos and in a month’s time shall be wed to Princess Liliana of the Vrykolakas in a month’s time. So is the law.”

Chaos broke out. Our people started yelling profanities at our council and us. I felt my body tense up. How dare they defy the law?? I glanced at my father who stood without a sound along with the rest of my family. We were taught to be dignified and proud; never to be ill confident so I bit my tongue. Then there was a strong voice that rang out in the crowd above the rest; a woman’s voice, “I demand the Rite of Dunamas!!”


Roman Lukos

All was silent as we waited on the Vrykolakas family to take their seats and once they did, the head of the council stood, ““We welcome you, Lukos family, and Vrykolakas family, to the court. Today, April 30, is the day of change in our great nation; today is the day of victory. As of now, the Millennia War is nonexistent and peace is upon us,” I watched as he lifted a scroll for all to see, “this here is a treaty drawn up by the Kings and the people of the council. It reads: ‘For the people…He who bears arms against his brother race bears arms against his brother and shall be tried for treason. He who is not willing to live in peace will be cast out to fend for himself. For the families…Prince Roman is hereby King of the Lukos-Anthropos and in a month’s time shall be wed. Princess Liliana, last remaining female heir, is hereby betrothed to King Roman and shall rule at his side ahead of the Lukos-Anthropos. So is the law.”

“So is the law.”

I was hardly paying attention toward the end. It was official, my life was done for. Mia was no longer an option and neither were children. I felt my heart become stiff in my chest like ice…dead.

“Proceed to the balcony.”

I stood slowly and followed my family and friends to the balcony where my people waited. I looked at my father, now just my father and no longer the King, and I was overwhelmed with pride; I would not let his dream die before he did.

The head of the council raised his hand to address the people, “People of the Lukos family, people of the Vrykolakas family, we have come to a conclusion for our unsettling lives: the Millennia War is officially over,” There was a commotion of voices both shocked and angered like we knew there would be. Once the council leader raised his hand, all went silent again, “Law 11: He who bears arms against his brother race bears arms against his brother and shall be tried for treason. Law 12: He who is not willing to live in peace will be cast out to fend for himself. Law 13: Prince Roman is hereby King of the Lukos-Anthropos and in a month’s time shall be wed to Princess Liliana of the Vrykolakas in a month’s time. So is the law.”

I could sense the anger as well as hear it; our people were more than outraged with the new laws. The Vrykolakas family stood silent but I would not have disobedience. My Alpha instincts raged and my need to control overtook me. Just as I was ready to speak, an all too familiar voice rang out in the crowd, “I demand the Rite of Dunamas!!”

I looked down at the face of none other than Mia, my Mia. She was looking directly at me and I could feel her need for dominance. A little flutter of hope ran through me as the head of the council motioned for the head of both families to follow him into the chamber where he slammed the door behind him. It seemed like forever before they returned and it was the first time I’d sensed any anger in the King of the Vrykolakas which meant-

“The Rite of Dunamas is a fight for power during a full moon among all eligible females to gain the respect and right to marry the man of choice. Your leaders have chosen and now it is your turn. All in favor step to the right, and all opposed, to the left.”

We waited as the people made their choice and my heart leapt in my chest as I saw the majority of both our peoples crowded to the right of the balcony which meant they would fight and that gave Mia the opportunity to win. I looked over to the Princess and saw that her mother was holding her hand tightly and her father’s hand was on her shoulder; all of their faces drawn tight in both anger and I caught a glimpse of fear in her mother. I wanted to feel selfish enough not to care that they may not see her again but I couldn’t. Many died during the Rite of Dunamas and if it was to be performed during a full moon she would never make it out since my kind were naturally stronger during that night. I couldn’t allow that disadvantage even if I wanted Mia to win. I stepped forward, surprising everyone.

“The Rite shall go on as demanded. If we are mixing the races we must make it fair. The Rite shall take place when the moon is half full so that each race has a chance to win, otherwise, it will be nothing but a murder and the Vrykolakas family will not premeditatedly lose an heir. So is the law.”

“So is the law.”

The voices of our peoples rang out in a unison agreement. I felt a hand on my arm and looked down to see my mother’s approving smile. Behind her, my father stood proud, and nodded. Thaos put a hand on my shoulder while Bianca also smiled at me. I then turned to the Vrykolakas family. They were all looking at me in shock but also respect, all except the Princess. I felt a shimmer of dominance run up my spine, my instincts telling me that she should show me respect as well. I stayed behind as the families trailed off the balcony when I noticed the Princess did as well. Our people trickled away to their homes, either pleased or not with how the day had turned out. I squared my shoulders with the Princess’s view, taking up most of her visual space so that she’d listen to me.

“A thank you is in order, I believe.”

I saw the muscle in her jaw tighten before her eyes flickered up to mine, the bright blue suddenly vicious, “I do not thank those so willing to have me killed.”

So she remembered...

“I can go to the people and the council and demand that you perform the Rite on a full moon if you’d rather. At half-mast it at least gives you the chance to win and survive; you should be grateful.”

I couldn’t tell what she was thinking; I could only tell that she was angered.

“Grateful to a man that clearly doesn’t want me to win his hand for if he was he would have demanded the Rite be cut off.”

“You are angered because I don’t want you as a wife?? Are you surprised, Princess??”

“Not surprised that you do not want me but I am surprised that you’d so easily send me to my death than protect me seeing as I’m your betrothed. I thought your people’s code was: protect thy own??”

It came as sort of a shock that she knew that but I didn’t let it phase me even though I was a bit impressed, “It is but as of yet, you are not mine, Princess.”

She was silenced but her eyes sparkled with a fierceness I hadn’t seen before in her; she did have a fighting side then. After a few moments of stillness between us, I motioned for her, “Follow me.”

Without waiting to see if she would, I started toward my seat where the bag with her mask was hidden underneath. I heard her quiet steps behind me a few feet until we came to a stop. I bent over and retrieved the bag. After reaching inside I handed her the cloth wrapped mask, “I believe this is yours.”

Her eyes and jaw softened at the sight of it; clearly this meant something to her. I watched as her fingertips gently traced the face of the mask as if it was an old lover and it made me wonder who’d made it for her, “I was certain this was gone forever…,” she looked up at me as she brought it to her chest lovingly, “thank you.”

“Who was he??”

I saw a flick of surprise at first, then softness in her face followed by tension, “It’s really none of your business.”

How rude, “If we are to be wed it is my business.”

Her eyes glimmered with that fierceness again that struck my soul with a strange feeling, “Now you are putting claim on me when only moments ago you thought otherwise?? You cannot have it both ways.”

 She had quite a tongue on her, but I could match it, “It clearly had an effect on you, much like a lover would.”

“I take it you speak from experience then??”

I was stilled.

“That woman, the one who demanded the Rite, she was yours wasn’t she?? Before all this happened.”

I felt my jaw tighten but I didn’t answer her. Damn her. I heard a soft laugh, very cynical.

“I guess we both won’t be getting the life we want.”

I felt strongly toward that; it was so true, “I guess not.”

There was a mutual silence between us about the sorrow of our situation. I got lost in my thoughts about Mia that I nearly jumped when she spoke, “Thank you, again.”

I heard her heels click on the stone floor toward the front door but before she opened it, I looked up and called out, “Good luck!!”

She turned to look at me with a look similar to thankfulness but didn’t say another word. I wasn’t sure what had just conspired but I felt as though it wouldn’t be hard to get to know her once she opened up; I imagined she was a very interesting and complex person and we had more in common than I thought. It made me a little curious as to what life would be like with her if she were to win; if was the key word because I wasn’t sure if she would even live through it. I was taught never to feel remorse or regret but a part of me would hate myself for putting her family through that. I guess we would all see come a week’s time.

Lost in my thoughts I barely noticed Mia standing with my family just outside the council doors. Once I did, I walked through my younger brothers and grabbed her by the arm. I pulled her to the side, away from my family’s ears. She was upset with me. Her eyes were stormy, her body tense, and her voice nothing but anger.

“How dare you not tell me about this, Roman?? Is that what last night was all about?? You used me.”

“I would never use you. Last night was because I knew we couldn’t be together again and I wanted you to know that I would always love you. Sure, it wasn’t that romantic, but it was honest feelings.”

“You could’ve told me.”

“You would’ve been distraught, Mia. You never would have wanted to speak to me again.”

“And you think that I’m not distraught now?? I would have rather of found out from you instead of the council after they’ve already decided.”

“Mia, listen to me, regardless of how you found out it would’ve hurt you and I didn’t want to see that look on your face, OK?”

Her jaw tensed but her eyes softened, “Listen to me, Roman, very carefully. I will kill her.”

 “Kill her? Kill her for what?”

“She doesn’t deserve to live amongst us let alone be your wife; she’s one of them.”

She said them with such hatred that I realized this wasn’t about me, it was about a vampire ruling the lycans. I was suddenly stricken with loneliness. The woman that I loved more than anything wasn’t fighting for me; she was fighting for my people. A part of me respected that but that part was buried deep. I dropped my hand from her arm and took a step back. Even now that I looked at her, she wasn’t the same woman as the night before; she wasn’t mine. I didn’t know what to say to her. It raised so many questions like how long she’d been dragging me along. I couldn’t believe it…I turned, without another word, and strode into the forest. I needed to be alone. She called after me but I didn’t look back. I didn’t know what was more upsetting, the fact that she wasn’t fighting to be my wife, or the fact that she was planning on killing my betrothed no matter what the risk. Not that I loved the princess but she didn’t need to die in vain; not like this.

Sensing someone coming up from behind me, I stopped in my tracks, and waited until the right moment. My senses soared. I could hear every little wisp of a leave on the forest floor, every flutter of a feather in the sky. I could smell the fertile dirt beneath my feet and the fresh sky above. I could nearly taste the sweat beading at my forehead and I could feel the presence of another close by. As they were no more than five feet away, I turned and came face to face with Thaos. My guard dropped as soon as I saw my best friend standing before me. He didn’t seem afraid or cautious; he knew that he could take me. Would he win?? Probably not, but he’d give me a good fight. His eyes, though, were sad even though otherwise, he seemed calm. I knew what he’d come to me about and if it was anyone else, I wouldn’t be waiting to hear it.

“I heard what Mia said to you.”

I waited for him to continue, putting my weight on one leg.

“You know that she’s only doing what she feels is right. I’m not trying to defend her, but think about it. Wouldn’t you do the same if the roles were reversed?”

“I don’t know what I’d do, Thaos, but I’d like to think I’d be fighting for her.”

“As King, your people come before you.”

“Yes they do, but not in the Rite of Dunamas. That fight is for you, not anyone else. You fight for who you want, not who you’re leading.”

“No one said she made sense, Roman.”

I scowled, he was right. He spoke again before I found anything to say, “Do you want my advice??”

“That depends…”

He smirked, “Well I’m going to tell it to you anyway.”

I sighed and found a rock jutting nearby and took a seat, waiting to hear what he had to say.

“I know you love Mia but everything happens for a reason. Do we always know that reason?? No, but it’s there. Let this path take you where it needs to go. It won’t be easy but it’s necessary. Otherwise, you’re just going to dwell on the past when all it is, is the past. You deserve happiness, my friend, whether that be with a wolf, a vampire, or even alone.”

What he said wasn’t taken lightly. Thaos never said anything he didn’t honestly believe. There was only one thing missing, “What should I do about Princess Liliana?”

“Help her.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right, “Help her?? What do you mean, help her??”

“Exactly what it means: help her. Teach her how the Rite works, the ceremonies of our people, our customs and beliefs, etcetera. She only knows what she was told by stories of war which you and I both know isn’t the whole truth. You can’t just expect her to waltz into our country not knowing how to lead our people.”

Damn him. Why did he always have to be right?? I couldn’t expect her to rule at my side without knowing the people. It might make things flow a bit more smoothly if they saw how well she was adapting and not being such an outsider. The only question was how to get her to agree to this.

“Right and you think her parents are just going to let me stride into their palace, demanding their daughter so that I can show her how the enemy lives??”

He shrugged his shoulders as if it were no big deal, “All they can say is no but that’d only jeopardize her.”

I had to laugh. Here we sat, the King seeking advice from one of his people. Needless to say this person was a very renowned medic and warrior in our city who was highly respected. If he wasn’t so damn good, I’d make him my advisor.

“Alright, I’ll do it.”

He smiled, “Don’t sound so excited.”

“Funny man, huh??”

He offered a hand which I took, gratefully, and helped me to my feet, “While you’re feeling a little spirited, let’s go test us some new soldiers.”

Even though I agreed with Thaos, I couldn’t help but wonder just what I was getting myself into with this whole, teacher thing with the Princess. I guess we’d see what she and her family thought of it and go from there. I was torn between not wanting to help her and actually doing it. My instincts told me that she was the enemy and shouldn’t be trusted but my mind told me that it was the right thing to do; even if she didn’t win. It was all such a mess…

Liliana Vrykolakas

The head of the council looked outraged while my family and I stood there silent, not quite understanding what was going on. The Rite of Dunamas, what was that, some werewolf hocus-pocus? I watched as he motioned for my father and the oldest of the Lukos famly. He took them back into the court room and slammed the door shut behind him. What was going on? As I waited for them to return I caught the Prince smiling down at the very woman in the crowd and that’s when it struck me; they knew each other. From the twinkle in his eye it seemed rather well. I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach watching them two. This Rite thing was definitely not good. When I heard the doors slam once more, I looked behind me to see nothing but anger on my father’s face.  

“The Rite of Dunamas is a fight for power during a full moon among all eligible females to gain the respect and right to marry the man of choice. Your leaders have chosen and now it is your turn. All in favor step to the right, and all opposed, to the left.”

It was a fight for a man?? But he said full moon so that means if our people chose for me to compete in this fight that I would die. It hit me hard that the majority of our peoples wanted me dead. Did they really hate us royals so much?? But the more I thought about it, I’d want the family that started this vampirism gone too. We, and our ancestors, created each and every one of them that stood before us. Who was to know how many actually had wanted it? Then I became angry. How dare they be the ones to decide my fate when I was up here, doing this for them? Did I mean nothing? This was treason!

I felt my father’s hand on my shoulder, supportively, and my mother’s hand gripping mine tightly. Just from the way they held me, I could tell they were thinking the same things. We all came to the realization that this had been a mistake. I was literally being thrown to the wolves, and for what, some girl’s jealousy?

Out of nowhere, Roman’s voice rang out, “The Rite shall go on as demanded. If we are mixing the races we must make it fair. The Rite shall take place when the moon is half full so that each race has a chance to win, otherwise, it will be nothing but a murder and the Vrykolakas family will not premeditatedly lose an heir. So is the law.”

“So is the law.”

I was surprised to hear the voices of our peoples rise up as one in response to his law. My family’s eyes shifted to him, surprised, but I wasn’t as grateful as they were. Even at half-mast I had a better chance of dying than any of the wolves. Was he just trying to make us feel better? He should’ve called it off if he was going to mess with it at all. If he was truly bound to this agreement, truly wanted peace, then he wouldn’t be letting this happen. What happened to protect thy own? My rage dwindled none as we were excused to leave. My mother tugged on my hand a bit but I shook my head no and stayed on the balcony to gather my thoughts. As I was looking out over the land, none other than Prince Roman put himself in front of me.

“A thank you is in order, I believe.”

The muscles in my jaw tightened. How dare he parade his dominance to me?

“I do not thank those so willing to have me killed,” I said, hoping he’d realize I knew who he was in the clearing.

“I can go to the people and the council and demand that you perform the Rite on a full moon if you’d rather. At half-mast it at least gives you the chance to win and survive; you should be grateful.”

That only made me angrier. He thought that I should be grateful to him for basically tying the knot on a noose? I don’t think so.

“Grateful to a man that clearly doesn’t want me to win his hand for if he was he would have demanded the Rite be cut off.”

“You are angered because I don’t want you as a wife?? Are you surprised, Princess??”

“Not surprised that you do not want me but I am surprised that you’d so easily send me to my death than protect me seeing as I’m your betrothed. I thought your people’s code was: protect thy own??”

I could see he was a bit shocked; I wasn’t stupid, “It is but as of yet, you are not mine, Princess.”

I stood silent, having nothing more to say to him. I had hoped he would leave but instead he motioned for me, “Follow me.”

He didn’t even wait to see if I would follow before heading indoors. He was trying to be rude, wasn’t he? I couldn’t help my curiosity so I walked a few feet behind him back into the court room and over to his family’s table. What could he possibly want? I watched from afar as he bent over to retrieve something from under the chairs. I couldn’t help noticing the muscles in his body tighten as he did so. Why did he have to be so intimidating but yet so handsome?? It made it hard sometimes to stand up to him. After standing, he turned to me and handed me something wrapped in a piece of cloth and said, “I believe this is yours.”

I opened it and immediately went soft. I gently traced the face of the mask that I so loved. It was the only thing I had besides memories of the only man I’d ever loved. Cain Romanov was a lover by birth but fighter by choice. He was a strong but sensitive man with a smile that could bring any woman to their knees. I had lost him in this war by a pack of wolves which was my reason for hating them. They had taken my best friend and the man who I had chosen to marry in a heartless kill. My parents hadn’t let me see his body after he was found for even they could barely recognize him. I missed him so much and I was appreciative of the Prince to return it to me; he could’ve burned it for all I know. It created a small soft spot in my heart for him.

“I was certain this was gone forever…,” I looked back up at him as I brought the mask to my chest, “thank you.”

“Who was he??”

I was surprised at first that he could tell that I had been thinking of a man but then I became tense once more, “It’s really none of your business.”

“If we are to be wed it is my business.”

“Now you are putting claim on me when only moments ago you thought otherwise?? You cannot have it both ways.”

He didn’t stop there, “It clearly had an effect on you, much like a lover would.”

“I take it you speak from experience then??”

He was silent. Good; I’d hit a soft spot.

“That woman, the one who demanded the Rite, she was yours wasn’t she?? Before all this happened.”

His jaw tightened but he didn’t answer me. I let out a soft, cynical laugh. Neither of our hearts was truly in this arrangement but could you honestly blame us?

“I guess we both won’t be getting the life we want.”

“I guess not.”

There were minutes of silence before I decided to end it, “Thank you, again.”

Without bothering to get a response, I headed toward the door to leave with my family. I wanted to spend as much time possible with them before next week. It was such a short period of time before my death but I wouldn’t let it happen easily; I would prepare myself. As a royal we were taught defensive and evasive skills so that if we were ever captured, we could get away. Just as I was reaching for the door handle, I heard Roman’s voice, “Good luck!”

I turned and looked at him with a thankful smile and disappeared. Not entirely sure of what had just happened between us; I kept a straight face as I rejoined my family in our carriage. As we were pulling away, I saw Roman stride up to that woman, and take her aside almost forcefully. They were talking heatedly as though they were in an argument. I found myself glued to the situation but was soon snapped out of it as my father spoke, “I am outraged. How dare they give power to the people? This is a monarchy for goodness sake.”

My sister was the next to speak up, “I am pleased that Prince Roman spoke up. If he hadn’t, she would surely be dead.”

“Pleased?? We shouldn’t be thanking him just yet. How do we know if she’ll even last at a half moon?? The lycans are naturally stronger in every way; no amount of preparing is going to give her an advantage except sick wolves.”

“At least he’s giving her a fighting chance. Besides, he didn’t even object to this whole arranged marriage, that’s got to give him some points.”

I was frustrated now; did they not see me?

“Stop talking about me as if I’m not here! He didn’t object to the marriage because he had no choice! And he only spoke up for it to seem as though he was trying to protect me when really he wants that stupid girl to win!”

Both my father and sister were silenced by my outrage but my mother’s gentle voice perked up, “Dear, you can’t possibly know that.”

“Oh yes…yes I do. Didn’t you see him talking with the same girl that demanded the Rite as we were leaving? They were probably lovers before all this mess the way he reacted to her.”

“Come now, Liliana, don’t be ridiculous.”

“Me? I’m the one being ridiculous? I think this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous!”

“Calm down, there’s no need to be shouting.”

“I can shout all I want to!”

She took my hand, “Liliana, your sister is right that you should be thankful to Prince Roman, regardless if he wants to marry you. He might have saved your life today.”

“Saved it? You have got to be joking. He threw me to the wolves just like you and the bloody council!”

I caught her wince at my anger but she only held on stronger, “You need to take a deep breath and think about this, sweetie. It will all turn out, I promise.”

I pulled my hands away, “Easy for you to say; you’re not the one dying next week.”

The rest of the carriage ride home was a tense silence thanks to my outburst but I could care less. They acted as if Prince Romance had done some great deed for me. The only thing that I was appreciative of was the fact that he’d given back the mask that Chase had made for me. In a way it all made me feel immature that I couldn’t handle it the way my parents saw fit. I wanted to be more like my sister who wouldn’t have asked questions and done her duty like a real princess. She had always been better at the whole royalty thing than I had. My curiosity and words usually got the best of me and had caused plenty of trouble growing up. But was it really that easy to accept one’s death? Especially since I didn’t feel like it was my time to go. I would train as father requested even if it was just to make myself feel better about walking into a death trap. Maybe I’d feel a bit better after I did…I guess I’d see after it was all said and done if I was alive to rule the wolves or if I was dead like I’d been meant to be for years. Only time would tell.

I wasted no time changing out of my court clothes and into a training uniform once we were let out of the carriage. The ride had seemed to take forever with no one talking so I was glad to be home. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing my father for training; I wasn’t in the mood for lecturing. I was surprised to see Pierre, Falcon, and Drake standing at the entrance of our training field, waiting for me. It didn’t make me happy but I was relieved. Pierre was a soldier of ours; a lieutenant nonetheless. Falcon was my father’s head commander of all our forces and Drake had been in several skirmishes with the wolves. They were just the people to be taught by; they knew exactly what to do to defend oneself against the lycanthrope.

Drake was the first to greet me, “Well, well, look who decided to show up.”

Falcon piped in, “You know women, always taking their time.”

Then Pierre, “If she is anything like her sister, I know that very well.”

They all shared a laugh and it was good to see them happy. It was nice to know they weren’t focused on my nervousness or anger, let alone my attitude on the way home. I shooed them along, “Come on now, let’s get started. Time is of the essence.”

Drake, being the comedian he was, stuck his tongue out at me, “Yes, ma’am.”

The men laughed and I couldn’t help but follow suite. Drake was my best friend for just that reason; he could make me laugh when nothing else could and I loved him for that. The combination of the three was unique. Pierre was a sophisticated man with enough etiquette for us all while Falcon was the rough-and-tough type, and of course, Drake was the comedian unless seriousness was necessary. They all seemed to work very well together regardless of their differences in nature. It was refreshing really; it took my mind off of next week. They escorted me to the center of the training field where there was a large open space; big enough for fighting and running. We stood in a circle wide enough that we each had space to move about. Falcon clapped his hands together and rubbed them; one of his many quirks that he only did when nervous.

“Well, first things first, werewolves are not easy to take down. Even some of the oldest members of our bloodline have difficulties depending on the cycle of the moon. Since Prince Roman so kindly moved the Rite to a half-moon, we have a fair advantage. The wolves cannot turn on a half-moon unless they are old and practiced; which none of them competing are. So, Lil, there are a few key things you need to know. Wolves have heightened senses like smell and hearing therefore you’ll need to be extra quiet for one. As for the smell, unfortunately there isn’t a thing we can do about that.  They do have weaknesses, though. Silver, wolfs bane, fire, and of course, my favorite, beheading. Sadly, you won’t be killing any of them so silver and wolfs bane are your only choices. Drinking wolfs bane will keep them from biting you so that’s a must and as for the silver; we’ll dip your fingertips in it so that when you attack and leave a lesion, the silver will absorb into their skin. Both will make them deathly ill and feeling of intense burning at the point of contact. This will cause them to be weakened and so you win.”

So much to take in but it was easy enough; wolfs bane and silver. Pierre took over from there, “We are going to run through some basic tactics for today and gradually build up so that you are not overwhelmed with it. If you feel as though you can continue, please, tell us so we can keep going. When fighting in a ritualistic manor such as this, you always want to be on the defensive.”

I spoke up, “Why is that?”

“Good question. When you are on the defensive you are far more aware of what is going on around you and will tire slowly. When you are on the offensive, you are more concerned with the attack and will more than likely ignore what is going on to the side. Does that make sense??”

“Yes, thank you,” oh my; what am I getting into??”

He continued, “There will be a ritual before the actual fighting begins. I suggest taking this time to size up your opponents. Werewolves are obvious as to which ones are the weak. They will be skinny with fair muscle mass; almost frail looking. They will not attack you because they are weaker than you; most likely they will fight with each other until the dominant one of them rises and will take on the rest. All of their females are trained fighters so you still have to be cautious; one could surprise you. As for tactics…,” he took a straddle stance with his feet shoulder width apart and motioned for Drake with both hands, “come at me full speed.”

I watched as Drake rushed Pierre and within seconds, even as skilled as Drake was, he was lifted up and slammed into the ground. Pierre even had time to move away before Drake had known what happened. I was impressed. Pierre went back to help Drake up to his feet and patted his back, “Good try.”

“Your turn.”

Before I knew what was happening, Falcon charged me. Instincts overtook and the moment we made contact, I grabbed the collars of his shirt tightly and pushed him off me. He didn’t go very far but it worked. They all looked at me happily shocked with wide grins. I hurried over to Falcon and offered my hand, “I’m so sorry; I don’t know where that came from.”
He hopped to his feet, “Don’t be sorry; that was amazing. You’ll be a fast learner which is good with our time crutch.”

By the time we had gone through some basic maneuvers, we were all exhausted. It was getting rather late and we hadn’t eaten all day so Falcon suggested we hunt. We all happily agreed; needing the nourishment. We delved deep into the wooded mountains of our land to find prey. Since the werewolves protected the humans from us we were forced to feed on animals. Depending on the species we could find just as much nutrition as a human but it was never as good; it was against our nature.

We didn’t waste any time finding prey, and once we had, it was almost too easy to catch. The part of feeling the life energy being drained always had been my least favorite part. After what happened to Chase I hadn’t been able to drink for nearly 17 days and even after that, it could only be from a cup; I couldn’t bear the thought of draining the blood from a living creature. Luckily I had had my family to help me get back on my feet but a part of me wishes they had just let me die. After taking my fill, my mother had always taught me to break the neck so they wouldn’t suffer. She said it was more humane to show mercy but only when the time was right. I planned on showing no such thing when the Rite of Dunamas was upon us; there was no way I was going to let my guard down. They were in for a rude awakening.