Chapter One - Renaissance
"Why are you so stunning?" Helena asked her best friend, Arabella, enviously. Arabella shot her a warning glance, her golden eyes had a fiery heat to them.
"Sorry, I can't help being jealous." Helena apologized. Arabella grinned mischievously, her sensuous lips making the action deathly to any mortal too careless to look upon her at that moment.
"Don't be sorry! Thank you. I do like being complimented really, it's just you have no reason to be jealous. I may be stunning but you have the looks of an Italian, obviously." Arabella replied confidently. Her voice was husky yet gentle and soothing. She was polite and respectful, this had come from years of always being second best and a protector of monarchs and lords.
Helena turned away, embarrassed. She always felt like Arabella was telling her off. Arabella was wise, and so mature that she was in a league of her own, and that constantly seeped into her voice even when she tried to conceal it.
"When is Dad coming back?" Helena asked changing the subject.
"Soon." I hope! Arabella added silently. She'd dealt with some pretty harsh things herself but to see Helena cry, actually cry, would be heart-wrenching.
"Yeah, but when?"
"I don't know."
"I thought you knew everything!"
"Where did you hear such an absurd notion?"
"I just assumed… you always know what to do. It just seemed like everything was crystal clear to you."
"Nobody knows everything, it's impossible. Let's go back inside, your dinner will be ready in a few minutes."
"But I don't want to. I want to stay here and talk with you more. I've missed you." Helena finished. She gave one of her shy smiles that she knew melted Arabella to the core (and that was like staying alive at 230 degrees Celsius!).
Arabella looked at Helena sideways. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh. She always wondered how Helena was the only creature in all of the worlds who managed to persuade her into doing pretty much anything. The only creature who knew her moods, what made her mad, the looks, the meaning of her words. The only creature who could see through her lies.
I like it, I think.
"So who was your favourite… client?" Helena asked. She said client awkwardly, that was what Arabella called the people she protected.
"Probably your father, but if you mean my favourite time then that would be a different answer."
"Okay then. Favourite time?"
"Why? It's so old and the men back then always told their daughters what to do. It was savage."
"I agree, however … it was beautiful. It was the time when a whole continent evolved. And the outfits were just so beautiful. Everyone was so straightforward back then and they used to ride horses everywhere, and you were allowed to carry things like daggers and swords. The men were true romantics and they treated women with respect. A gentlemen meant something back then. You would of loved it!"
Helena let Arabella's words sink in. From what she said everything had changed. Men had, that was for sure, and not in a good way. In history class they had talked about how women were treated in the past, like they were below them. It was the men who went out to work, who brought in the money and they ruled the house. The women, however, were respected, even though they had no privileges they were wooed by the men. As William Shakespeare wrote in "A mid-summer nights dream"- women are meant to be wooed and not made to woo. Well something like that.
Women had doors held open for them, were given jackets when it was cold or raining, were treated low. Helena reminded herself, no she liked her life now. Helena liked wearing jeans and a t-shirt rather than some heavy dress that was done up so tight you could hardly breathe.
"It doesn't appeal to you does it?" Arabella asked her deep red lips curving into a sceptical grin. Helena shook her head apologetically.
"No it most certainly does not." Helena answered not bothering to spare Arabella's feelings. Arabella was constantly trying to steer Helena into liking history but she just didn't like it at all. She didn't see the point in learning it, it was so boring. Who needed to learn about the past when the only thing you need to prepare for was the future.
"Don't think like that. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said "The more you know about the past the better prepared you are for the future."" Arabella snapped repeating a line that she had said to herself and many others over the long and strenuous centuries. Helena turned to stare at her with wide emerald green eyes. It always shocked Helena when Arabella read her thoughts, it was another one of her many talents.
Arabella barked a laugh, well not that you can call it that. It was a cackle that mesmerized everyone even those who were used to it. The foot hounds of Hades didn't sound so deathly eerie yet the most heavenly of all sounds would never sound so pure and sweet.
"Why do you always insist on never listening to a word I say!" Arabella accused only it wasn't a question, and she was furious. Such a temper! Helena thought and then regretted it as soon as she felt Arabella's piercing glare all over her body.
"If you don't calm down then my skin's going to melt!" Helena informed, joking (slightly).
"Why do I bother with you? You need to learn some manners, it will be the end of you when you come to meet people of true importants. Come on it's getting dark and you've already missed your dinner."
Arabella stood and stretched in one quick and smooth motion. Helena stared at her in shock again, how was it that someone who only looked eighteen was filled with knowledge that was impossible to find in someone who was not only twice her age but of a higher status too?
"Experience." Arabella answered Helena's thoughts with ease. Helena stood, her layered black hair twisting in the cool summer wind. Helena shivered, she hated the cold mainly because it meant that there would be rain. She hated rain!
The large manor lingered in the foreground, taunting Helena with the fact that the inside was empty and cold without her father to comfort her. She looked at her bare feet as she and Arabella strolled casually toward the huge home.
When they reached the small side door that lead into the conservatory of tiled floors and tinted glass roofs, Arabella sighed, her eyes were distant and longing but her posture was stiff and extremely cautious. It was an unusual stance but one Helena was not concerned by, Arabella occasionally wondered into her memories and day dreams. Helena regarded her friend checking for any adjustments that would notify if she should run and hide from her friend or just stand there and wait for the world to collapse at her feet. Arabella suddenly shook her head and brought herself back to the world around her. She looked surprised and disoriented, but when she saw Helena she smiled wryly and gave a quick laugh that sounded like a "Ha".
"What?" Helena asked as she opened the small door and strode through into the familiar room that was saved for special occasions and formal teas.
"Nothing, just a thought that amused me." Arabella replied in a sceptical voice.
"Was it about me?"
"Yes, actually it was."
"Oh. What was it about?"
"Nothing to concern yourself with."
"Don't sulk it isn't very ladylike, and it doesn't suit you at all." Arabella's voice rang with finality, the conversation was over. Helena didn't hold all power over her. Just more than what was comfortable. Arabella grinned to herself, it was unusual for her to feel good about winning an argument but she did when the argument was with Helena. Strange how this one young girl with jet black hair and emerald green eyes could have such an enchanting effect over someone who had lived for centuries and killed mercilessly.
A short stump maid scuttled into the room carrying a tray with a teapot and three mugs on it.
"You have a guest." The maid replied in a gruff voice that was short of breath.
"I'll leave you to it." Arabella addressed Helena in a polite tone.
"Oh no, my dear. The guest is for you, or should I say guests. Three extremely handsome, male guests."
"Oh. Well, if you'll excuse me I will go change out of my hunting clothes and into something less savage." Arabella pardoned herself with a slight bow of her head (another habit that she had enlightened over the years).
Five minutes later Arabella was skipping down the wide oak stairs and into the large hallway. Her red hair was swept back into a bun and was held with two violet chopsticks. She wore a long, red skirt, that matched the colour of her hair and swayed silkily to her feet, and a white blouse that enunciated every curve perfectly. She looked stunningly casual, not over-dressed but almost as if there was somewhere very important for her to go.
Arabella sauntered into the living room at the front of the house and froze. Her gold eyes sprang open in horror.
"Hello, Arabella." The tallest of the men whispered a smile in his voice. His voice was soft and had a strange rhythm to it, it was smooth and confident. He was obviously the leader of the men. Arabella swept her glance across the room and let it settle harshly on Helena and the maid who were very curious as to what was to be said.
"Out, both of you. I don't want you to know what they have to say. And, frankly, I'm not sure I want to either." Arabella ordered. Her tone was hard and terrifyingly strong. Helena and the maid scurried out of the room with a disappointed look on their faces but a curiosity in their eyes. The double doors clicked shut behind them leaving Arabella to the mercy of the three beautiful gentlemen.
"Hello, Dartemis. Hello, Riley. Hello, Hunter. What a pleasure it is to see you again." Arabella replied, the last bit aimed mainly at Hunter whom she had become extremely fond of over the millennia. Her tone had lost its cold, hostile edge and was replaced with warmth and gratitude. Dartemis was the oldest of them (even though he looked twenty-two) and had been the one to save Arabella when she was only six years old from, what they called, the shadow moon. Riley was Dartemis's son, he had joined them after Arabella had stopped aging at eighteen, he was also one of the most skilled in physical areas of battle (after Arabella, of course).
Then Hunter. Hunter had joined about the same time as Arabella, except maybe a few years after, and was the easiest to be around. He was hilariously funny and his own sense of humour was remarkable. He was brimming with knowledge and wisdom, his logic and instinct were especially convenient in war and battle. He was also the most experienced in every criteria. And his looks aren't important right now.
"It's a pleasure to see you too. We should visit more often. However, this is a more than serious matter. Iliana has had a vision, well many actually." Dartemis answered gravely.
"The shadow moon?" Arabella asked her voice a whisper on the soft breeze.
No one replied only bowed their heads, looking grim and somewhat angry.
The large living room began to blur and spin around Arabella. The constant pristine white swirled and grey spots dotted over her vision like clouds threatening to unleash their wetness. She was breathing shallow and quick, her ears rang the most horrific noise in all the earths.
She was going to faint and she knew it! But there was nothing she could do. Her body was drowning in surreal waves of fear, horror and, most of all, hatred. The white ceiling receded rapidly and she could sense the white carpet rushing up to cushion her fall. But she never felt the carpet under her back, only something smoother and much more cushiony.
Hunter had caught her before she could hit the floor. He slid his free arm into the crook of her knee and then carried her to the corner sofa, which was of course white. Again! Arabella managed to force her eyes open. She had never fainted before! Then again she'd never been smothered by emotions that she hadn't experienced in over 3'000 years. Shocking!
"Are you alright?" Hunter rushed his voice overcome by a vivid Spanish accent, his eyes seeping with pure worry … no, more than that!
"Yes, thank you. I must have just lost my balance. Thank you for catching me though." Arabella swooned. His voice was just too seductive.
"If you say so." Hunter pressed, his carved eyebrows shooting up his forehead. He was still very concerned but there was obvious relief in his expression. Arabella flashed him one of her mortal-killing grins, that didn't quite kill Hunter but made him lose his breathe and stare at her in utter pleasure. It was his favourite smile and Arabella knew it.
Riley cleared his throat rudely behind Hunter. Hunter stood swiftly and offered his hand to help Arabella into a sitting position. She took it but instead of sitting she just stood right up. Her chin was set in a smug grin, no head-rush unlike humans. Hunter chuckled like a devious schoolboy next to her, it amused him when she showed the true potential of her immortality.
"When you two are finished enjoying each others company we do have things to discuss." Riley snapped. This was a man who never smiled, laughed or liked anyone. However, he did enjoy sticking his head up his father's rear end.
Hunter and Arabella shared a knowing glance which lasted for the duration of a nano-second. Arabella raised her sharp eyebrows impatiently at Riley, she loathed him!
"Go on then!" Arabella ordered imitating his snotty, clipped tone.
"We need you to help us. We have assembled an army of the finest, ours and not. Would you help to train them. Of course, you would not be alone. Hunter,Damon and Aonie will all help you." Dartemis replied for his son. He seemed eager and he was far more polite than his son.
"You mean… train soldiers? Only if I get a chance to fight against the shadow moon!" Arabella negotiated. Hunter tensed at her side, an usual phenomenon, nothing made him angry.
"Of course. You will all have your own field: Aonie will specialise in mental aspects;Damon in the physical; Hunter in the statistical and logical; and you will supervise over all fields. You are the most experienced in all aspects and will be able to show them things that the others could never in their entire lifetimes. You will the leader of them all."