Cowritten by Lamora Giovanni aka Lamora Acardi
Cairo, Egypt 1002
The night was warm, beyond humid with the slightest hint of rain on the horizon. For several days now he’d taken to exploring the heated deserts of Egypt, perhaps in search of something that couldn’t be found. He’d been looking for an urn that had been sealed off magically by wraiths, one which hold most of his natural blood within its confines.
For a moment, as he looked out upon the night sky stars, he began to feel the hunger within himself burn at his concentration, at the delving solace that was his newly found vampiric body.
For the longest time, he awaited the woman’s departure from her home, a woman of royalty, of beauty. Only moments after the original thought of blood did she finally exit, blessing him with the first sight of her nightly tempered hair, the way it seemed to merge with the night around them, the delicate curve of her breasts only hidden by the clothing that she wore over them, a dark black cloth that stretched aimlessly from the very top of her ankles all the way up to her shoulders. Right in the middle, where the collar should have been, the cloth curved out just a tad more then it should have, arching around the fine curve of her tanned, Mediterranean toned breasts, covering what needed to be covered only with great difficulty.
She wore a white shawl with a single Egyptian sphinx on its top which he figured was supposed to help protect her. Shame, he thought to himself, silently, if only that were true. Despite this, his eyes kept flashing between her and the house. For ever morning for the past week or two, her husband had followed her out. Had come to make love to her underneath the canopy of stars outside. At first it had dawned on him how precious this might have truly been for the couple, yet they’d managed to find the one thing that Augustus had not which seemed to drive him mad. The Jovian was firm in his conquest nonetheless, awaiting that day when he could drain the two of them without the slightest worries in the world.
He moved as if on instinct, his bare feet striking against the solid stone ground beneath him. He wore but a fashionable slave’s loin cloth which barely covered his manhood from the sights of the world, but above that, his own flesh was tanned like theirs. The only thing that marked him as an outside was his hair, yet even that had been easy to mar with the mud from the Nile which easily stained it a thick black, as if dye had been coursing through the river for more then a hundred years. Almost as easily as it had been to climb free of the sand dune he’d originally been on, his foot steps became quieter, more silent as time passed and just as his prey, the woman, leaned over the threshold of her balcony, he’d made his way on it.
At first, he had no idea what he was going to do, how he was going to get her to allow him to feed. Like all his other vampiric brothers and sisters, he had the pleasuring bite, that which sent an amazing amount of endorphins spiraling through the blood stream. He could see one or two ways of doing this now, both of which seemed more frightening, more provocative at even the thought. With a grin, he moved on and eventually stood right behind her. Like nearly every other night, this night was dark and with no fires lit, it was hard to tell what lay in front of you, especially if you weren’t a vampire. As if sensing a monster behind her, the young Egyptian beauty shivered, rubbing at her sun kissed arms.
It was only then that Augustus moved forward. His flesh was cool to the touch, but he’d been in the sands long enough that it was warm enough for him to get away with it. His arms curled around her waist as he’d seen her husband do for so long, only to be met with the reassuring touch of her hands against his. ” ??? ?? ???? ?? ??????? ??????., Adjo” (Adjo, you should be in bed.) Her words caressed against his senses, but he did not reply. If he did, he would have been discovered almost immediately. In return, he simply lowered his head, brushing the softness of his lips against her neck, brushing aside the shawl that blocked his availability to her throat. She moaned in reply, turning her head just slightly so that he could reach more of her soft, pleasurable flesh. His hands moved on their own accord only after to the sides of her blackened clothing, to each shoulder that was just barely covered and without a thought, he pulled them down, just beneath the plumped mounds that were large enough to fit within his grasp.
Only at this moment did she seem to shiver in delight, her own hands slipping lower within the sanctuary of her clothing. Her splayed fingers caressed against her in instinctual fervor, a grin etching at Augustus’ lips. She couldn’t tell the touch of her husband, much less his. That grin only seemed to grow as he took one of her breasts within his grasp, massaging in gentle, passionate circles. She was undoubtedly firm, despite the instant arousal of her perky breasts. She hardened beneath his grip and with an instant reaction, pressed back against his bare chest which had hardened over his years of battle. Her back arched just slightly as if to push herself further within his grip. Finally one of her hands slipped from within the black cloth that made her clothing to grab for one of his hands, sliding it within with her hand atop.
Her moans drifted idly by as time passed, as the two came together in bonds of unattainable adultery, him with his hands and her with her with her body. His free hand took a hold of the black cloak and within an instant, his control was lost. His eyes flooded with red and the next thing he knew, his lips were colored red with her blood, his teeth locked at her throat in a vicious hold that seemed to be ripping right through her flesh like butter. The rich flavor of the crimson liquid spilled over her back, down her bare bottom as he took her with feral abandonment, the sounds and scents of their sensual actions reaching new heights. She knew by now that he wasn’t her husband. She knew by now that he was something else, something unspeakable but by now she didn’t care. That is, until her heart beat slowed and very slowly came from a raised crescendo to a thump… three seconds…. thump. Immediately the fear of death gripped her, along with the pain of her blood being fitfully drawn through her carotid artery.
The sound of her screams shattered the silence of the night, only to be met with a sickening crack as her neck tore to the side and free of bone and flesh, quite literally torn from her shoulders. Still, with the last beatings of her heart, Augustus didn’t reach the fulfillment he’d been looking for. He’d wanted to drain her dry before she got her words out, but even that was unattainable now with her dead. With that fateful grin of his, Augustus allowed the blood of the woman to drip along his chin, over his bare chest and her body fell from the balcony all the way to the ground beneath, a sickening thud as she rebounded from the earth. The head he held though. It would come in handy provoking the husband’s anger. His murky brown gaze fell to the opening within their home then. She’d come without guards, which meant that her husband was home.
Immediately his steps blurred and without thought, he found himself moving into the large house of the of the rich man. Just who it was, he knew not. He hadn’t payed much attention in these past centuries. He just hoped that it was somewhat with grand taste. Finally, he came upon the bed chambers just as his prey’s words came upon his ears. You should be in bed. A grin fell upon his blood stained lips once again and without a sound, he ripped through the doors, only to be assaulted by a spear that slammed into his chest, right beneath his diaphragm and lifted high into the air. He was perched against the wooden door while a man in his mid thirties, the wife’s husband, stared at him in idle confusion. “Who are you!?” He growled into Augustus’ face, but he was bleeding fast. An artery had been torn by the spear and just his luck, it’d turned out to be silver. He kicked out in an instant, sending the man flying across the room just before he pushed his legs to the door and thrust himself clean over the wooden shaft, over the clothed handle which parted his chest even more and finally to the ground.
By now the man’s face had twisted in fierce terror at the sight before him. “What are you!? Please, I have a wife and children. I’ll give you…” His words were interrupted then by Augustus’ fangs slamming into the side of his face, the surge of his blood slapping into Augustus’ mouth. Despite the fact that his blood seemed to constantly spill with each passing moment, he let it be only after tying a large strip of the sheets on the bed around his waist, around the wound that the silver had made. It was easy to get down from his pinned space on the door after the man had mocked him, believing him to be weak. Such insolence wasn’t even taken from his own childer, much less from the mouths of others who didn’t even know him. Finally his lips curled in a slight grin, his eyes darkening under the moonlight. For an instant, the faint blue glow within his gaze seemed to flicker with power. He wasn’t yet filled, even after drinking of the man and his wife. He needed more. The sound of heart beats within the home seemed to grow louder. There was a sleeping soul within the house, along with another, one whose heart sped fast within their chest, splitting fast.
He immediately moved toward the door way he’d been pinned to and throughout the home. Hand painted glyphs, along with stone carvings seemed to litter house as if it were some type of mural, though over several surfaces, candles had been lit to drip wax against the floor beneath, giving a faint clandestine lighting. Fire flickered against the walls that seemed to cave in around him, growing smaller until he had to hunch over to continue moving. Down another corridor which led deeper into the ground. Eventually he’d come closer to the sound of the heart beats, slipping beneath a trap door which shot out spikes to try and impale him. They were cautious of their children, and rightly they should have been, but they knew not of the monsters that threatened to over take them. He caught one of the spikes, taking one to the shoulder, but even so the spikes hadn’t been slipped through poison and did little to nothing to him at all.
And then… The sudden sounds of gasping took precedence at the front of his mind. Beneath him, on the ground below, underneath the trap door, a latter led all the way down to compacted rock that had been caught in place. He shifted as suddenly as he could to avoid tumbling down, breaking a limb, then grappled at the bars before he slipped right down and felt his feet thud against it. He turned his head only to be met with the brash sound of a girl speaking in Arabic. Unsure of how to process it, but understanding exactly what she said, he gave a grin. It translated to: ‘Please don’t hurt us, please don’t hurt me! My little sister is but three years of age!’ He stepped close as if thinking her words over, but in the end, his hunger, his desires won over. There was only one thing he wanted to do and that was feed. Immediately he pulled her close, using one of her hands. She couldn’t have been any older then 10, maybe 11 years of age, her scrawny, yet strong arms forcing against him, trying to keep him away. ‘Let me go! Leave me alone! HELLP!’ her words sounded abruptly, racing through the night time sky. She was more boisterous then her mother had been.. A good thing for the more she fought, the more she found that it was no use. Her kicking, screaming and all around abrupt fight came to a sudden end just when his teeth penetrated the flesh between her collar bone and neck.
She fought for the longest time afterwards, but it was no use. The figure holding her against his chest was too strong, solid like marble and extremely dense. She couldn’t win this, wouldn’t win this. She gave up as the endorphins spiraling through her began feverishly kicking at her veins, at her blood and only moments later did her throat crack against the pressure of his fangs, her neck breaking under the strain. She went still within his arms like a loose rag doll. He tossed her to the side only when he couldn’t get another drop free of her blood stream, the sound of her body breaking against the red stone walls. It was then that he noted the second heart beat had picked up pace, but there was no one in sight. He could see a stone shift just slightly, as if something were hidden beneath, also the cries of a young being hidden there. He moved slowly at first in case it was some kind of trap and even covered in blood, he didn’t seem to mind if he scared the young kid within there. He pushed the stone aside. It had been another trap door, this one made of a sturdier stone that was held by two wooden supports to keep it from crumbling in on whatever was beneath. But the sight that caught his eyes made him hold his breath. Beneath was a little girl, dark black hair, elegant and graceful in her own right. He paused…
“I can’t do this,” he uttered against the night time air that failed to get at him.. “I can’t kill you.”
It all happened so fast. Slumber had given way to cave little lids of eyes over deep honeys, dreams of ever stretching lands filled with sand, sand which glistened in the sun like shards of crystal. The bright blues of the sky went on forever, they never ended, certainly not so in the mind of a toddler.
This is what the world was made of, every life saw what she saw, there were no other faces of the planet, no other means of terrain. This was life.
In the depths of sleep she could feel the sun of her mind warm her from the inside out, something created by memory, something created by comfort. It wrapped her in its blanket of familiarities, soothed her still body, and cradled her with the loving arms of her mother.
Then it ended. The sand whisked away in a storm leaving for sight to be muted by the ripping terror. It blew, it assaulted her imagined flesh. The sun was soon darkened by the cloud of that wicked storm leaving for daylight to be torn from her dreams.
“Mora! Mora!” Her name, it was off in the distance, it trailed away with the gusts of wind.
Then came the soft shakes of her body. “Mora! You must wake!” The voice was familiar and whispered with a deepening urgency. Slowly eyes drifted open to reveal blood shot whites and lack of clarity. Her sister; Acenith, stood above with panic etched into her features. “Come. Come now!”
Four little feet pitter pattered in a rush along stone floors, padding quickly, Lamora’s short legs moving to keep up with the pace of tug she hand on her hand.
The chamber opened and the small delicate toddler slipped inside. Her grip tightened around Acenith’s hand, silent eyes pleading for her sister to join her, but then who would seal it?
Acenith leaned in slowly, pushing her adolescent lips to Lamora’s forehead, older dark black eyes welling with tears. “Hush now, baby, hush.” That was the last that she heard of her sister’s voice; that was the last touch of family that she ever felt.
The stone slab slid over the hole surrounding her in darkness, a deep swallowing of perpetual blacks.
Little arms of no strength wrapped about her knees while cold jagged rocks jabbed at her tiny body.
There was no understanding of why she had been placed here, no means of knowledge for why her sister had left, all she knew is that she was alone, scared, and without a doubt, alone.
Muffled sounds of screams and shouts broke through her containing, tears streamed uncontrollably while her chest heaved with the breaks of sobs.
What was happening?
What could she do? Nothing.
Nothing but sit here and wait, wait for the slaves, wait for Acenith, wait for her mother.
There was no concept of time, not for one of her age, but soon enough the slab slid open once again, letting a small stream of light pour over her shaken curled body.
There kneeled man, one she had not seen before, but he wore the dressings of slaves, so a slave he must be. Rounded honey glazed eyes peered up at him from beneath thick black lashes. Fear radiated from those eyes, eyes which entranced, and fear quickly became demolished once she realized she was no longer alone.
“I can’t kill you.” The slave’s voice rang with a foreign accent, it certainly wasn’t one of her household, but what did it matter? It was so, innocent, a voice that rang with the same helplessness that her own young one had held.
“Kill?” There it was, an angelic tone that rang outwards with question, it was so soft, so broken, so confused. She hadn’t known the meaning of the word, never having had heard it before in her three years of life.
Soft unmarked hands scrambled to pull her little body out from the hole in the wall, coming to a stand she brushed at her knees and stomach with a “yuck, dirt…” She held her hands out to Augustus, who was now at eye level with her, showing him the dust and grim that coated her shimmering olive flesh. “See… yuck.”
It was true, Lamora, even at such a young age had the ability to capture people with a single glance, nevermind when she spoke, hearts melted far and wide. There was a simple power to her, one which she had never tapped into, not yet.
There wasn’t one face she had met that hadn’t wished to die for her, not one soul she had encountered that didn’t wish to make all her dreams come true. There was something different about this child, she had been idolized by the kingdom, and loved incomparably by her parents. The golden child of these lands, the promise of their future.
Trails of tears still streaked her rounded soft face, and suddenly a gasp of air was taken. “Hurt?!” She asked with such concern while those little plump hands reached to touch his marble like torso. Her hand slid across the thick collection of blood, smearing it, spreading it.
Of course! It all made sense now, Acenith had placed her here to keep her safe and this slave had slain the beast which she needed to be saved from, and he had gotten hurt in the process!
Of course this was no slave at all, this man, he was the beast, and Lamora, Lamora needed to be saved now more so than ever.
Young minds are so easily distracted. She wondered not of her sister or parents, no, this slave, he was hurt. “Happened? What happened?” That pretty little face tilted to the side with eyebrows risen high up on her forehead.
Finally that traveling smearing hand was left to rest on the curve of his cheek, the tips of her fingers wiggled themselves in a curl of his miss placed hair. Lips pursed together in a concerned frown of sorts, she knew not the word kill but she knew blood, she knew of pain.
With a bat of those eyes Lamora took a small step closer, the blood which ran off his body began to pool beneath him, and now the tips of her toes squirmed in the once life giving fluid of her family. It was cold, icy slime touching with the warmth of her living body.
She was so small, so easily broken if he wished; there would be no fight from something so weak, so pathetic.
Another step was taken, and without notice she wrapped both her arms around Augustus’ neck, pulling her still growing frame to his own. Lamora held so tight, as though if she held with all her might the wounds which he held, the wounds which made for this blood would close, would heal.
It had never occurred to her it was the blood of another, let alone her mothers. To such an innocent being it was his blood, he was hurt!
She nestled into his neck, taking in his scent, and then the words streamed from her mouth with such grace, such beauty, sung to whisper for Augustus and Augustus only.
“Shush now my love
no tears, don’t cry
safe in my arms I will keep you
don’t you hear this lullaby?”
She swayed from side to side as the melody swept between them; she had it committed to memory, one of the few things she could sing without flaw, the bed time soothing her dearest mother had sung to her each night for peaceful rests.
Cairo, Egypt 1002
The inability to answer the young girl’s question seemed to smolder within Augustus’ murky brown gaze. With his lips pulled into a deep frown, he gazed into the young girl’s eyes, catching and embracing all the fear within himself.
Soon, though, the fear vanished. As if the small girl didn’t realize she was set to die. He watched as she rubbed at her knees, at her stomach and the moment she looked up at him, saying the cutest thing he could of imagined, his heart melted with an uncontrollable joy.
“See… Yuck!” He smiled solemnly and reached out one of his own hands, brushing at hers with the tips of his fingers to free her from the grime and dust that had coated her hands because she’d wiped at herself.
He laughed silently inside and for the first time in centuries, in nearly a millennium, he couldn’t help but be genuine when she looked at him. Already she reminded him of his own daughter he’d sent to die when he was still a ghoul. She had such vitality, such.. a well tempered start to this wonderful life that he’d now ruined. What have I done? came the rolling thought within his mind. I have to make this right.
He reached out as if to cure the child of her tear streaked face, but in that instant her tiny hands touched at his bloodied torso, smearing the blood in. Her voice, that of a young angel rang in his ears. She thought he was hurt, not the other way around. That her family had been slain by him.
The thought alone seemed to sadden Augustus, but also placed within him a keen interest for she had said it with so much concern within her voice that he could tell that she was different, that she was one he’d like to take for himself without killing. He could teach her, allow her the proper time to become one of the Jovani. “Happened? What happened?”
Her face turned adorably and he melted not once, but twice. Should I come free? Let her know that she’s going to die? He thought he’d already bypassed such a thought, but apparently it was still there. Still in place as had been his thoughts on killing the child’s mother, the child’s father. Even her sister who lay just across the room, as dead as the sand all around them. The stones.
“Darling,” he began, bowing his head just slightly. “It was a monster, little master. But I got him good. He can’t hurt you.” His words came out before he could manage to think of an alibi and for the second time that day, he second guessed himself before slipping slightly to the side, to think over his actions. He fell to his behind, just as her hand traveled along his cheek and his own came up to rest against it, even as it curled within the thick brown of his curly hair. She stepped forward, once, then twice and before he could realize it, her tiny arms had curled around his neck with such a tender mercy and love that he lost all predatory senses.
With her nose resting at the side of his neck, her breathing regulated against his own, Augustus couldn’t quite understand the words she sung against his coldness, against the granite marble of his body. What he did know was that he was going to take her with him. Even as those words, that lullaby drifted through his senses, his fingers curled from her hand and gently moved to her neck. He lowered his guard and without threat, gently pressed a pressure point that would put her to sleep immediately within his arms.
He’d made his mind up and what was decided was dealt. He stood from his spot, carefully setting her on the bed of furs that lined the bottom chamber while he went to look for wine, any and all alcohol. After spritzing the house, even the stone chamber beneath with it, he stacked the bodies, dismembered head and bloodied door, spears.. and set it aflame.
The fire would spread fast, quick. For he’d made sure of it. He moved back down to the cellar that held the young princess and quickly wrapped his arms around her. The fire by this time had clouded the hallway up stairs, but he didn’t breathe was fast enough that the child needn’t have worried.
Eventually, on the sand dune outside of the home, the sounds and screams of several of the nearest neighbors sounded as the fire exploded into action, having been led to a chamber full of a substance that was close to gun powder in nature. The fire spread and without further cause for thought, he moved.
The next morning, the sun seemed to stream through the windows at the young girl’s face just as a servant girl walked through the door to drawl them open. She’d been placed within a box bed, four posts rising from each corner to curl close to the ceiling with carvings of several dozen child like pictures. Intricate and exotic. The mattress itself was made with the finest material, as was the purple bed sheets and comforter, the pillow and the curtains that surrounded it.
“Buongiorno, principessa. E ‘ora di svegliarsi. Il sole è fuori luminoso e la mattina è presto. Le lezioni di italiano avrà inizio in appena un’ora o due.” As if Lamora could understand this.
Whether or not the young girl could understand this, or whether she’d wake up or not, the young maiden pulled the covers free of her little body that had somehow been washed and clothed in the finest of fabric gowns in the middle of the night. It was that instant that a voice echoed down the hall, one in Arabic this time and one that the young girl definitely knew. “You should wake up now, darling. And would someone please tell
Angelina to use Arabic dialect so my daughter can understand?”
Daughter? He’d actually called her his daughter.
Morning had sprung like a sweet tale of unforgiving lonesomes, the room which Mora had been laid to rest was filled with shades of night; while outside the light called with a warm desire, a desire to kiss her young flesh.
Entering silently came a maid, her sweet steps left to make no noise, not a sound until she reached for the lavish drapes of plum purple and pulled to let sun seep.
The heated rays filled the room instantly, leaving for the walls to shimmer with a golden dance of life, a dance to awaken the sweet stolen princess.
Under those heavy eggplant blankets, ones of silk and feathers of the finest birds, a small body shifted, a small lump wiggled. Nothing was to be seen of the girl, in her rest little hands had pulled to hide her face from the world, and still she clung to the blanket, keeping tight grips.
The worker of butterscotch hair and emerald green eyes made her way to the side of Lamora’s bed, lightly pulling to remove to coverings from the small child, but much to her surprise the task wasn’t so easy.
“Buongiorno, principessa. E ‘ora di svegliarsi. Il sole è fuori luminoso e la mattina è presto. Le lezioni di italiano avrà inizio in appena un’ora o due.” She let her words caress, as if she were a mother herself, or at one point had wished to be.
If Lamora wasn’t awake before she sure as hell was now.
That lump in the bed shifted once again, and from beneath there was a delicate whisper, one which would not be heard even for the most sensitive of ears.
Slowly that blanket was slid downwards, exposing static ridden hair; little strands of raven black bangs standing on end, and a single honey glazed eye; one of deep brown, bright yellow, fascinating orange, and hints of tampered red.
Around her left eye had been long streaks of golden lines, one which no matter how hard they scrubbed had not come free. Her markings of a princess, the markings of her future, only time would release the stained paint.
That single means of sight held so much life, so much depth, a color such rarely seen in her world or theirs.
Fear rippled through her body as this strange woman looked down on her in sympathy; they stared at one another for what was longer than a breath taken.
This was not her room, not her home, and this woman, spoke not her language.
Perhaps it was all a dream, yes, a dream of monsters.
“You should wake up now, darling. And would someone please tell Angelina to use Arabic dialect so my daughter can understand?” Augustus’ voice rang from across the hall, calling to her.
Lamora lay timid for not a moment longer; she sprang from the bed, opposite to the strange woman who flushed with embarrassment. “My apologies, signora” that soft nurturing voice whispered once again, head bowed in respect.
The toddler let her back not face this strange strange creature, eyes burrowing with a sweetness, a bitterness, a confusion.
Short lingering steps lead her to the door way, once inching out of the room Lamora whipped around, long black tangled hair sweeping after the movement. “BaBa?!”
The hallway which she stood in was grand, hues of beige, white, and gold surrounded her. Lavish carvings were embedded in the moldings, the ceiling painted of vegetation stains to create murals like she had never witnessed before.
A innocent gasp of air was taken by tiny lips, shocked by the sight, fear coursing through her body.
The loose night gown of tightly woven threads swung with her small padding feet, ruffling at her mid calves.
She reached for the nearest door, rising to the tips of her toes to grasp the handle, but it was locked.
“Baba?!” She shouted down the long bend of hall, panic now coming closer to the surface.
That small girl, near infant age rushed to the next door, feet falling with an unknown grace. This door opened, and with a hard push of both hands the heaviness swayed to give entrance.
Lamora poked her small angelic face through the frame. “Baba? You here?”
There was where she found Augustus, in a room of artificial light, at a small desk. Across from him sat another man. One of ashen skin and a lanky body covered in a crimson robe. This strange man’s beady eyes watched Lamora as if she were a creature to be studied, something so alien. They judged instantly and she could feel it, she felt as though she had committed a sin and her fate was to be decided.
Mora continued through the door not bothering to close it behind her, only now she walked with caution, suddenly unsure of herself. She continued forward small tears beginning to well in those immaculate eyes.
Her hands knotted before her abdomen, fidgeting.
From afar Augustus nearly looked like her Father, the king, only he was dressed humorously; much as she was, and he was so pale.
Then her angel voice rang out in Arabic once stopping a few feet away. She realized then, this man, Augustus, was the slayer of the monster that invaded her home. Perhaps this really was a dream, perhaps this really was fiction of an over active imagination.
“Excuse me. Not mean to, to….” Her little mind struggles to find the word. “Bug.” One foot fell behind the other giving a small curtsey. “Heard my Baba.” Brows pulled together trying to keep composed, even as a single salty tear slipped over plump cheeks. “Might I find him….. where?”
She stood dangerously still, flipping between the two men waiting on an answer, growing further uncomfortable by the passing second.
Venice, Italy 1002
The maiden knew not how to make the young princess stay in the room, go to breakfast. Nor did she know how to dress the poor girl when all she could do was struggle against the sheets and blankets had covered the girl’s tiny body.
When finally the small, bed ruffled head popped out from behind the sheets, it was to the sound of the maiden’s voice as she spoke out her words and tried to free the young girl from its special hold.
Bare moments passed before Augustus’ voice had broken through, but she’d taken him to her ‘borne’ father and for that, she found differently the moment she stepped through the doors that led to Augustus’ meeting room. Of course he’d called out to the young girl. He’d saved her. Made her his daughter, his bambina. For a moment, the vampire Augustus was quite shocked when Lamora parted through the door way only for him to spot her in clear light inside the room. The windows were closed so that the only trace of visible light was coming from the candles that had been lit up about.
Baba? You here? came the sweet, angelic voice that brushed over Gus’ guest and his own senses. For a moment, he was stunned by her eyes. Never before had he seen such beautiful orbs in all his days. Not even upon his daughter all those years ago. All the time in the world couldn’t have possibly given him words at that moment for the man in the crimson robe stood to his feet and crossed the room toward the little angel, bowing just slightly with to his knees.
In fluent Arabic, the man spoke. “Dearest Mora. Your father and mother have been in the most terrible of accidents. I must apologize for bringing such bad news, especially when you’re so young. Please do make Augustus your new father.” With that said, he stood to his feet and moved free of the room. There hung a silence within the air, something that seemed to frighten and send off a tent of ambiance. Without further need for consequence, Augustus rose from his seat, dressed in an immaculate suit of furs and robe. Just like the man before him, he moved to kneel before the young girl, though unlike the man before, he reached out a hand to gently stroke Lamora’s cheek.
Though he might have heard the man before say her name, he couldn’t help the next question. “Who are you, young mistress? Could I call my daughter, or should I call you young mistress?” His words were meant to sound as loving as a father’s should, and for a moment, the flicker in his eyes might have been reminiscent of such a man, such a figure. He shifted his weight and quickly rose to his feet, holding his hand out to here. “How about you and I go to breakfast? We’ll have whatever you want, how you want it. Okay?” His fingers interwove within hers, despite the way she might have reacted to the news of the accident involving her parents. After all, she was a little girl. But now she was a Jovani and not just any Jovani, but the principessa Jovani.
With an ease unheard of, Augustus gripped the small girl’s arm softly and pulled her up and into his arms. He was strong, that much she could see, but also soft as if he would protect her from anything in the world. He shifted his weight, fingers curling within her thick black tresses. Soon, very soon they were in the dining hall in front of plates that were not yet filled. He didn’t know exactly what to say at this point, though with an affectionate grin, he lifted the drink that was set before him, naturally dark red with a mixture of healthy silver and golden hue. “So, love, what would you like this morning?”
“Ask for anything you’d like and it’ll be yours,” Augustus spoke firmly. His gaze shot about the room to the various Jovani who stood about with their eyes facing forward. When they didn’t move on his voice, he snapped his fingers and immediately they all began moving toward Lamora while Augustus watched her silently, a grin perking at his filled lips.
Lamora’s weak body was lifted with ease, with grace into the arms of Augustus Giovanni, small legs wrapped about his waist as much as they could while arms found placement around his neck.
The youthful face of a near infant buried itself within the nook of his shoulder, a hidden place where silent tears of confusion could fall.
What had that man meant of accident? Why would such a person use a term as that to one so young, accident, what had that meant anyway? To Lamora an accident was wetting herself in deep slumbers.
This slave who had saved her life now wished to speak of her as a daughter? He had not the royal blood which ran through her veins, he had not her skin, nor had he given her life.
One could see where confusion for a toddler would steam from.
So many questions ran through the silent Lamora’s head, no, she had not answered the question that had been asked of her, she let not those tears bring sound, and she had not asked of these crucial things, for how could she voice thoughts that she could not put into words.
With his hand positioned to cusp the base of her skull; fingers entangled in the mass of silken raven, they took down the hall, down a set of stairs; her small body bouncing with each step, and at the pace of which he walked it felt much like riding the backside of a galloping camel, the long tresses of her touchable hair bobbed with the motion.
They had entered a grand dining hall, one of stained wine red walls bordered in rich white moldings, the floors of marble, and down the center of the room stood a long table of mahogany; one which sat at least twelve.
Augustus continued towards the table, strong hard arms held her close, tight, protectively.
She was soon placed on the ground, the small fatty pads of her toes landing on the ice cold flooring, instantly goosebumps rippled from her calves to the length of her neck. Watered and swollen eyes flashed about the room, from face to face of those that; as far as she was concerned, were the slaves of this home.
Augustus stood there watching her, and she took her place, not at a side seat, but rather the stunning child struggled to climb into the seat at the head of the table. Little feet hung over the edge, small toes wiggling in the brisk candle lit air, eyes hardly able to peer over the length before her.
“So, love, what would you like this morning?” Augustus spoke as he slipped into the seat next to her. “Ask for anything you’d like and it’ll be yours,” His fingers snapped, the sound one of breaking glass, and with that shocking noise the servants of the room rushed to Lamora’s side.
Chubby hands balled up rubbing at those fierce eyes, pushing out all sights of extra moisture, they smeared the salty waters that trailed her cheeks, sinking the liquid to be absorbed in her flesh. The back that was slouched straightened and her rounded chin lifted in the air the slightest amount.
She demanded an attention when she wanted to, something unexplainable, yet so majestic to witness.
Lips pulled from a pout to the warmest smile one could dream of mustering; her head dipped and eyes dropped to the ground in an innocent respect to those that surrounded. A greeting.
Finally she spoke, with the voice of pride, pride that hadn’t belonged in the voice that it had been spoken in.
“As-salaam alaykum” Her eyes lifted as did her head, making direct contact with the gentleman nearest to her, means of sight bore deep within his own, a gaze that couldn’t be broken, she continued in her homeland tongue. “Figs and watermelon, breakfast.” Sweet as the sugarcane her ambiance filled the room, devouring each being, seeping to reach in each corner.
She released her gaze on the man letting it slide to Augustus. “Enough for two.” Her small head cocking to the right, deeply cut bangs swaying with the motion. “Eat too.” It was not a question or an offer, it was a demand.
The ‘servants’ stood firmly in place, awestricken for but a passing second, collectively they gathered their wits about them and exited the dining area, few passing backward glances over their shoulder as they left the two in slight peace.
She hadn’t let her gaze falter from her company, she looked so small there, in that chair, behind that massive table, small but strong. “Lamora.” The tips of her right hand pushed up against her chest above the placement of her heart. This was her way of giving him a title to call her by.
It was clear now he was not the slave she thought he had been, so mistress wouldn’t do and he was not her father. She was not his daughter, not today, not until the memory of her roots faded from the young mind, they would be forgotten, and Augustus would become the only father she knew, but not today.
The air here hung heavy of scents she did not know.
The means of which this home was built and dim lighting was unnatural.
The accents which warped the words of Arabic that these people spoke were gruesome.
The atmosphere that she had been thrown into felt of a thick oil, one luxurious enough to drown in…
And the taste of her lost tears still lingered of salts on divine lips.
The small child demanded respect, even at such an age. Her beautiful raven toned hair reminded him of his father’s brown curls, despite the fact that hers was black. For a long moment, Augustus sat slightly speechless as he watched her wipe the tear streaks from her tiny face.
Inevitably, he felt bad for killing her family now. She was still so small, didn’t understand the world as it was. Yet… she would in the near future. He shifted in place for a brief moment before he leaned closer to the small girl.
‘As-salaam alaykum,’ he heard ordered to his servants. Though most of the servants knew not the language that she offered them, she had looked at one who had the ability to differentiate exactly what she wanted. With a simple nod, the ghoul turned and walked away, followed by several other servants who rushed to find what the young girl wanted.
For a moment, though, the man paused with her renewed phrase, glancing toward Augustus with a look of panic. The last man or ghoul who brought Augustus food, normal food ended up in a river close to mountain fortress that they now stayed in.
However, the ghoul received a slight nod of head from Augustus, a grin parting his lips. “Of course, principessa. Anything for you.” His voice had slightly lowered with a hint of adoration, of a love that was already beginning to form and grow with the passing moments. Finally with the last servant leaving the room, Augustus and the small girl were left alone with each others company.
Those murky brow eyes of his found Lamora’s endless gaze, fingers moving to gently push back the curly brown hair that fell into his face. Within the room they were in, several pictures seemed to line the walls, several of the man that Lamora now faced, several that had him wearing crowns, had him proudly holding his sword and shield.
‘Lamora..’ he finally heard as she spoke, watching her lift her right hand to place itself right above her heart. He shifted for a moment before grinning, allowing himself the pleasure of repeating it. “Lamora… Lamora Jovani. I love it.” Augustus turned in his seat to face the small girl, gently gesturing for her to come closer with a wave of his hand. “Come here, darling. I won’t hurt you.” His voice had lowered to a distinct lull, one that called her forward and into his chest, even as she looked him over and he allowed himself to watch over her.
She was his prize, his gift… his daughter. Even if she didn’t realize it, she would indeed be his for the remainder of her life, even after she’d grown up.
Augustus flashed a grin, showing off the barbed fangs beneath his lips. Even so, the young girl probably wouldn’t know what they were regardless. There would be no harm done at all. He closed his eyes just slightly before a hum drifted aimlessly through his lips, slowly gliding about the air of the room to affectionately curl around the young girl. Such was a magnetism of its own, carrying with it the weight of vampirism.
“Lamora, you may not trust me completely right now, but eventually you will. In the mean time, this is your home and I will be your father. I’ll supply you with things your parents couldn’t afford you. I’ll give you the love that you deserve…” His words faded into a slight dulling hum that dragged through the base of the room…
The air was cold that night, wet and moist from a summer full of rain and splendid heat. From the side of the mansion came the sound of music, an air of a vitality and amusement, music that sounded as if it were from the lips of angels and the one who sang freely doubled her tone in an angelic manner, similar to that of an opera high pitch.
Bathed with a vivaciousness, the mansion had been sculpted through the night with colors of rich lavender, of princess like blues and yellows and greens, the tresses of cloth that sprang from every corner tainted in a rich incandescence that spread farther through the mansion without a care in the world.
That music seemed to grow in tempo before slowly, very slowly coming to an end, followed by a loud, brash clapping of hands.
For a moment, the sounds seemed to taper off before an older, more experienced tone took stage of the evening’s speeches.
“Three years ago, I met the most beautiful little girl a father could ask for. Yes, I know she’s six years old now.. but what I’m trying to get at, is that my little girl is growing up so fast. Today on this October 24th, we celebrate her entry to this world and to ours. We, the Jovani who have grown from the measly number of two to 45 in the past few years now have reason to celebrate!”
With those words, the entire room seemed to explode into chaos, the sounds of cheering, clapping, some whistles and laughs. All the while, Augustus kept near the small girl, a grin at his steely lips. “Lamora, would you like to leave this place and see something you’ve never seen?”
Despite the grin, he seemed to genuinely love the young girl. Not only was this party to celebrate her birthday, but he’d gotten her a whole pile of gifts along with several other clan members and slaves. In the matter of a few years, she’d become an icon of the Giovanni, a young, and still a child, woman whom most Giovanni desired, Not for sexual reasons, but more for social advancement.
A smile followed his previous grin and just as the last round of applause finished, Augustus found himself teasing through the thick black tresses of Lamora’s hair with the very tips of his fingers, his own barbed fangs glistening in the light. She knew not what they were yet. Hadn’t been allowed to see that he was a vampire… Any time she’d asked what he’d drank in the morning, he was careful to sway from the topic.
For a moment, the Jovani vampire shifted in place before bending down to lift the tiny Lamora into his arms, despite any and all of her words against him doing so and he walked firmly through the stoned room toward a doorway that withheld so many secrets from the sights of others.
The sea of faces peered up at her, faces she knew, some of which she had never seen before. Faces that seemed to glow with admiration, adoration, those sharp eyes of the sea, they watched her as if she were the storm that raged on above their stirring waves. A beautiful chaos that they wished could be touched – touched if only to maintain and feel nature’s master plan.
Here in this room the small girl aged at 6 stood out like a sore thumb. Her golden skin gleamed as if sunshine had kissed her internally, and the rays of beaming heat radiated through the flesh that held the body together.
It was a common curiosity of her why the white ones never grew color, why only a handful of servants would play with her in the sunshine. No matter whom she asked she always had received the same monotone reply. “Not all of us are the suns children, you principessa have the gods of light looking over you.”
In the mind of a child such response seemed suitable enough; never did she know the danger.
One bright morning Lorenzo was resting in the basement, gently blowing at his flute, letting music echo to and forth. Little Lamora gripped his hand tugging with all her might. “There are things to collect, Lorenzo! Come, come now” The childish voice rang as if a new instrumental had replaced his own.
He pretended to be tugged along, laughing the whole way. “Oh my Lamora, you are soooo strong.” Perhaps Lorenzo wasn’t aware that Lamora had a knack for collecting stones by the river, or flowers in the meadow. Perhaps Lorenzo believed Lamora simply wanted to take him to snoop around the corridors she had never seen before.
Maybe, just maybe he hadn’t understood until they made it to the front door. Her small warm hand wrapped around his stone cold while the other moved to opened the entrance, the entrance to the sun filled world outside their home.
It all happened so fast.
She can hardly put the events together.
One second he was in her grasp – the next she was pinned to the door.
His fore arm pushed against her fragile neck.
His lips parted.
Next thing she knew Augustus was there and she was on the floor.
Lorenzo was gone, and she hasn’t seen him since that day.
There on the stage this is what came to Lamaora’s mind while she stared out at the sea of whites.
She blinked once, twice, three times as if trying to awaken herself to her surroundings. There Augustus’ voice rang out like an authoritative piece of vital furniture. “Lamora, would you like to leave this place and see something you’ve never seen?” Honey swept eyes looked up to her ‘father’ with slight confusion. Something she hadn’t seen before?
She could have sworn that in the last three years she had seen every nook and cranny of this place that was now her home.
“But, I have yet to open my presents….” Sulked did that bottom lip as if a leaf of the grandest sunflower prepared to catch the dribble and rain of the fallen evening. The whites, they all laughed, not a laugh at her but a laugh at how unbearably perfect their Lamora was already.
Augustus heaved Lamora up with ease despite her kicking and squirming; she was a young lady and needed not to be carried like an infant. “Put me down!” A simple shift of his arms had Lamora tossed over his shoulder, his hands gripping at her knees, and her head dangling at the mid part of his back.
With every step he took her head bopped, silk raven hair swayed. Her arms dangled uselessly; there was no point in fighting it.
Through the crowd he took her and as he did so the sea parted.
And closed again behind them.
Ooo’s and Ahh’s filled that sea, as if the wind was singing to her and only her.
The applause was the thunder to her storm.
Down a long staircase, spiraling further and further underground he took her, twisting on for what seemed like forever. “Where are we going?”
Not a word escaped Augustus’ mouth.
When the movement stopped little Lamora lifted her torso and parted her hair to let eyes open to the scene before her – behind him.
Another dimly lit room – dark and shadowed, black hidden hues casted over each deep corner to her left and right. Stoned walls lingered high, curving, arching into the dims of the domed ceiling. Collections of dark green had been bunched in the cracks and crevasses of each perfectly placed stone.
The humid air hung heavy nearly suffocating the young child.
“Where are we?” Her voice was small, skeptical – like that of a mouse placed in a maze with no cheese to be smelt.