Leyla had been dreaming. After the unsettling evening she had spent, sleep was the last thing on her mind, however oddly enough, as soon as she entered her room and finally was able to take a
careful look at the eccentric flower the prince had given her, her mind was shut off. Uncontrollably, her legs carried her to her bed and then she was drifted into a dream, or a nightmare.
She was standing by the high doors of a church, but it looked nothing like an ordinary one. The tall ceiling and colourful windows were similar to any other grand church, but the figurines and paintings on glasses were entirely different. Although it was dark outside, the light from numerous tall candles that were placed on walls and by the door mirrored beautifully on windows, reflecting their drawings on the ground. The pictures on them were all the same, a single rose, some were coloured red whereas mostly they were black, just like the one prince Sami had offered her.
The statues were also different. There were no crosses or sculptures of Christ, only stone carved monuments of a man who looked a lot like the prince. Leyla shivered slightly, either from the cold or the fear of what was expecting her inside. There was a chilling breeze winding around her, just like the one she had felt in Alwin Christmas party. She suddenly realised her skin was exposed to the cold as she was dressed in a bare shouldered red dress that its tightness around her breasts made breathing a difficult task. Even in this low light, she could see how exquisite it was. The fabric hugged her figure perfectly above the waist and then fell loosely to the ground. Leyla also noted a bouquet of flowers in her hand, breathtakingly beautiful red rose buds that circled a black rose in the middle. She unquestionably looked like a bride, ready to meet her future husband at the altar and bound to him for eternity.
There were several candles lining in front of her to form a long way to alter. She was conscious enough to know it was a dream and yet, she did not want to go further. Alas, she had no control over her legs that were slowly stepping forward. The whole atmosphere, wrong colouring of windows, statutes and the sudden sound of singing creeped her out. She could hear an invisible choir as if they were whispering in a low voice, all at the same time but she could not quiet make out what they were saying. It was like they were singing in a foreign language.
As she walked closer, she saw people waiting for her at the altar. She could not see their faces, nor could she tell who they were as they all wore long black robes and their faces were covered under their hoods but her heart started flapping in her chest at the sight of a man who was dressed differently. She could only see his back, but she knew that tall muscular figure that was concealed in a long black cloak. Panic conquered her as she remembered last night’s events, her upset sister and her mother’s warnings. For her, this man was the forbidden fruit, someone whom she even should not have dreamt about, “more suitable for Annie” as her mother put it, and she was told to stay away from him and convey her attention to Henry, whom her parents saw as her proper match. So why was she dreaming about this handsome prince?
Leyla tried to gain control in her dream, she struggled to stop or better yet, run away. What was she doing, in a strange church, dressed as a bride with this man at the altar? And then, he turned. She watched his magnificent profile as he revolved to face her and suddenly all her resistance was gone at the sight of those fiery eyes landing on her. She felt a hot wave spreading in her vein and something in her stomach fell.
Leyla slowly walked towards the prince, this time more willingly and eager. She no longer paid attention to other men who were standing in line with their heads down nor to the strange surroundings, her heart was now filled with delight and excitement. She knew this was a dream hence she wanted to taste the pleasure of belonging to this mysterious stranger even if it was never happening in reality. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest and the throbbing did not stop there, it went on to her belly and spread a delicious sensation between her legs that made it difficult for her to walk. Her legs were wobbling and still, she managed t keep her balance and reach only steps away from those enchanting eyes which never left her even for a second.
The choir were now chanting only a word, instead of singing a song. "Vlad,Vlad..." They were calling and calling in a quiet but strong tone. Prince extended an arm to take Leyla's hand and she took it without hesitating. She was so drawn into his eyes and melted in their honey that nothing else seemed to matter. The prince pulled her closer and then she suddenly noticed something strange at the altar, a black marble surface, like a bed but without sheets and pillow was set by the high candle sticks and four robbed men were standing by its corners. She eyed it with curiosity and suddenly dread filled her heart. Was that a bed? In the church? In presence of others? No...
Before she could panic entirely, she felt his hand around her waist. He took her chin and turned her attention back to those bewitching eyes. Leyla trembled slightly from excitement of being this close to him, but before she could get comfortable in his arms, he suddenly tightened his grip around her waist and lifted her up, as if she weighed nothing. Leyla almost screamed but she was laid on that cold stony surface in no time and the prince was on top of her staring into her terrified face.
She heard the encouraging chants and felt tears attacking her eyes. What was going on? This was not what she wanted! Her dream had turned into a nightmare and all the excitement she was feeling a moment ago was replaced by fear. She did not want this! Leyla closed her eyes and tried to resist, but no sound escaped her lips and her limbs remained motionless, as if she had no control over her body.
She felt the first tear streaming down her face as she waited for the worse with closed eyes, but nothing happened. Slowly, she opened her lids and saw the prince smiling down on her. Unexpectedly her heart was filled with warmness, an assurance that this man would not hurt her, that she could trust him. He caressed her face with his fingertips and his touch left a trail of fire on her skin. It felt sinfully good.
Up until then, he had not said a word, but his eyes had been saying all the right things.
"Do not be scared my beloved, I will never harm you." She heard in her head while the prince kept her gaze in silence then he drew closer and his lips touched her skin. Hot blood was pumped into her veins and her body relaxed and blossomed in pleasure and passion.
"I, Vlad, claim thee as my bride, to belong to me body and soul for the eternity. You shall surrender your blood, your heart and your soul to me and I shall give you mines in return. With this kiss, I will possess your blood. I shall be a poison in your veins, an addiction that you can never quit. You shall hear my name everytime your heart beats and thrusts life into your body."
Leyla felt him whisper against her lips but her mind was drowned in such an ecstasy that she could not make out the meaning of what she was hearing, the only thing that mattered was what he was doing and it felt heavenly. She sensed a quick pain in her bottom lip as it was being caressed and kissed by the prince and suddenly felt a warm liquid mixing with her saliva. The irony taste was the familiar sign of blood but she was not disgusted or repulsed as it danced on her tongue and combined with delightful taste of prince's lips in her mouth, and aroused desires in her that she never knew could exist.
But then, he withdrew. She moaned in protest and opened her eyes, but he was nowhere to be seen. She was no longer in the church, but was back in her room, on her bed. The dream was over and the prince was gone but she felt a severe exhaustion drawing her back to sleep. She fought the urge, tried to open her eyes and search for the man who had just kissed her, but in a matter of seconds her mind drifted into another dream as if she had never made love to the forbidden stranger.
The familiar voice stopped me just before I flew out. I must be mistaken, it cant be. I turn quickly just to see him standing by Leyla's bed, his tall body covered under his black robe and his face is hidden behind a hood, but there is no error, it is him.
"What are you doing here?" I am furious, either because he has dared to walk in my beloved's room or maybe because I can see his hand approaching Leyla's hair. He takes the anger in my tone and withdraws his hand.
"I am merely here on duty, master."
I see the sarcasm in his words; of course he has never accepted me as his Lord and master. Unconsciously, I approach him. He is too close to Leyla and this makes me uneasy. He bows his head slightly to show his respect.
"What do you want?"
His lips open in a smile.
"She is magnificent. As pure as the sunshine and as untainted as the first snow in winter." I watch his hand reaching for Leyla's cheek. That is it, he has gone too far. I take his hand.
"I asked you a question. What do you want?"
I can see that my rage only amuses him but I cannot hold it down.
"As I said, I am here to attend to my duty. I am obligated to present you with the family heirloom which is a vital part of the third ritual. Seeing that you are in such a hurry, I thought you might need it soon.”
His tone is cold and sincere, just like it is expected from the head of guardian circle. After all, he has had the duty of care for me for 8 centuries now.
“Where is it?”
The family heirloom, a ten carat ruby necklace that needs to be placed on Leyla’s neck on the third ritual is being kept by him. He smiles.
“It is safely kept in London, but we both need to attend in order to claim it.” I frown, what kind of game is he playing?
“Meanwhile, I want you to do me a favour.”
I am not playing this game with him. He is obligated to give me the necklace.
“It seems like you have forgotten to whom you are speaking Simeon. You may be the head of circle of Guardians, but I am the Lord of…”
“Cut it brother…. You do not need to remind me anything. You are the lord and the master and I am required to serve you for eternity, but you need me now more than ever, otherwise you shall never get your precious bride.” He hissed angrily and then turned his attention to Leyla.
My brother Simeon used to be the master, the lord of darkness, but then he failed miserably in his task of finding a bride. His maiden never accepted the last rose and fled with another man, leaving him heartbroken. He followed them and killed the girl in his rival’s arms after making her watch her lover’s death. The court then decided to take away his title and privileges for the crime of killing his mate and he was sentenced to serve his life as a guardian to the new Lord, me, his brother. He is my only blood relative despite the fact that I have been the centre of his hatred for centuries. He has never committed a negligence in his duties to protect me, but I was aware of his true feeling, he has never forgiven me for taking his place, and now I am about to choose a bride, a task that he never succeeded in.
He strokes Leyla’s hair softly and I shiver. I do not want him to touch her but unfortunately he is right. Even though he is obliged to provide me with the necklace, he can make it a hard and lengthy process. I do not want this, I am pressed for time.
“She looks like her, you know. Just as innocent and beautiful. But they are all whores at heart brother. She is no different…” His finger travels from leyla’s hair to her neck and collar bone and she sighs. I take his hand.
“What do you want from me?”
He smiles and flashes his fangs.
“Nothing that you can not provide brother. I want you to share a little.”
My eyes widen in rage but before my fist meet his jaw, he takes my hand.
“I will have you beheaded if you touch her one more time…” I scream while trying to free my hand from his grip.
“I do not want your precious maiden, my Lord. She is too shy and timid for my taste anyway.”
I groan between my teeth.
“What do you want then?”
He releases my hand.
“I want her sister. You know that I am not allowed to seduce or hunt humans anymore, it has been centuries since I felt a woman’s soft body and warm blood, but if you hunt the girl for me, then I can use her without breaking the rules.”
I freeze in shock.
“I can not do this, it is forbidden and you…”
He moodily cuts my words.
“You want the necklace, right? Bring the girl to your cottage and leave her for me, then we shall travel to London and you will have the family heirloom in no time.”
He creepily smiles, then bends and inhales Leyla’s scent deeply.
“you better hurry my Lord, there is another man lurking around your beloved and before you know it, you might lose your love forever. There is no harm in helping your brother out after this long.”
He approaches the window to fly away but then pauses and turns to face me.
“After all, blood is thicker than water, is it not?”
Van Helsing had been riding for three days straight and only stopped for a couple of hours to reinforce. Any time he was tempted to stop to eat or to sleep, he would think of innocent lives perished every hour he was late to get to the creature, so he whipped his horse harder but England seemed too far away.
The night sky was clear but the bone breaking wind was lashing his face. He had gone numb from the cold and could feel his horse shivering from exhaustion and icy weather so the sight of a church close by tempted him to reduce his speed. He could shelter in the building for an hour and eat something while the horse rested, plus, he needed a fresh supply of holy water that he could acquire.
His sore muscles throbbed in pain as he got off the animal and headed for the front door. The building was dark, but it was expected considering that it was a small church in the middle of a nowhere. He knocked on the door, but no one answered, therefore he forced his way inside. It looked deserted, with dusted benches and cobwebs on status that indicated no one had been cleaning it for a while, but then he noticed the candles by the altar. Someone was there.
He called for the priest but to no avail, so he decided to sit in a corner and rest his eyes a little before the twilight. He sat on a bench and took out a loaf of stale bread from his bag. The bread was tasteless, but he did not care. It had been years since he had had a warm meal. For him, food had become the means for survival, just giving him energy to achieve his goal. He could not enjoy anything until he took care of the creature.
The confession booth from the corner of church attracted his attention. Uncontrollably, he got up and entered it, knowing that there would not be a priest to come and listen to his sins to forgive him. Sitting there in silence, he started murmuring words.
“Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been…”
“It has been six hundred and forty two years and three months since your last confession.”
Van Helsing was hugely startled. He jumped and threw himself out of the confession booth. Panting for breath, he thought what he had heard, was a figment of his imagination, caused by tiredness and cold but he was wrong. A tall man escaped the chamber beside the confession booth.
“Did not you want to confess to your sins?”
Van Helsing instinctively reached for his sword on his belt. His could sense this man, although dressed as a priest, is not a church man.
“Who are you?”
He asked in a trembling voice, his eyes glued to the stranger who was recklessly approaching him.
“Do not come closer. I asked who you are, where is the priest?”
The man laughed, his pale face was now exposed under the candle lights and Van Helsing could see his motionless face.
“I am your saviour my son. I want to help you and free you from your burden.”
Van Helsing backed up a little bit, surely this was not real. He was delirious, maybe he was even dreaming.
“You are not dreaming Van Helsing.” The man was no longer in front of him but now was speaking from his behind. He turned quickly and attacked the stranger with his sword, but he was no longer there. His laughter once again echoed in the building.
“You are as naïve as ever, attacking someone who is here to assist you. No wonder you have not been able to kill the creature.”
Van Helsing froze, whoever this man was, he knew him too well.
“Who.. what are you?” He asked
“What I am is not as important as whom I can be to you, and that is a friend, an allied in your mission.”
The man was now standing steps away from him.
“What do you know of the creature?”
Van Helsing asked, merely because he wanted to test this man’s knowledge.
“I know he in in North England. I also know what village he is in now, something that can save you a lot of time. But I have some vital information that can help you kill him this time.”
“Why should I trust you? I do not know who you are. You may be one of his demons, here to distract me or even kill me” Van Helsing asked suspiciously. In a second, the man attacked him, took his neck and threw him to a wall. He groaned
“you worthless human, if I wanted you dead, you would have been worm food for a while now.”
Pain spread in Van Helsing’s head as he tried to fight the man and free his neck from his powerful fingers.
“You have done everything but you could not kill the creature, you stabbed him, shot him with arrow, burnt him, but he always survived because it was never enough. This time I am going to teach you how to aim for its black heart and finish him forever.”
He let go and Van Helsing fell to the ground, gasping for breath.
The man continued.
“You shall of course have a reward for killing the monster. Look…”
Suddenly Van Helsing’s surroundings changed, he was no longer in grey dusty church, but in a warm elegant room. It was dark, but he could see the sophisticated furniture and the bed close to the window. He visibly shook by the change and tried to stand on his wobbly knees. The stranger was standing beside him.
“Go on then, have a look. For your reward, I give you, your Charlotte.”
Van Helsing’s eyes widened in surprise, he held his breath and stood motionless. This could not be real; this man was the devil himself. Charlotte was dead, the monster killed her, he saw her body himself. This was only an illusion, but still he could not stop himself. What if Charlotte was really in that bed? Alive and waiting for him? He shakily made his way towards the bed. There was a girl under the sheets, deep in her sleep. He watched her sleeping for as she suddenly turned to face him. Her beauty seemed breath taking under the influence of moonlight and she seemed like a peaceful angel. He was bewitched by her, but she looked nothing like his Charlotte. Mesmerised, he whispered:
“No, this is not Charlotte.”
“She may not look like her, but she is just as innocent and pure as she was. And guess what? The monster wants her and he is going to take her soon, so you better hurry if you want to save her.”
The man murmured beside him. Van Helsing could not take his eyes off of her, his heart was pounding in his chest at the thought of creature touching this lovely girl. In a matter of second, he was back in the church.
“Do we have a deal then?”
The stranger asked with a smile on his lips.
“What should I do?”
“By the time you get to his location, it may be too late. You shall need my assistance to get to him as soon as possible. After that, I will reveal to you how to slaughter the beast once and for all.”
Van Helsing shook his head to get rid of his doubt. Whoever this stranger was, he could be his last hope to kill the creature. The man walked to the door and waited for him to follow. Van Helsing though, stopped. He needed to know one thing before trusting this mysterious man.
“If you know how to kill the monster, why have you not done it yourself?”
The man smirked.
“Because my friend, I can not kill my own brother.”
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