Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Concilium Sanguinarius - sample chapter

Chapter one

New York City, 1999

She sat before the mirror.

The ornate silver brush pulled through her long dark hair, light from a nearby lamp catching the arabesque swirls inlayed in the antique metal, the light and shadow causing the delicate pattern to become more pronounced.

The mirror was part of an early Victorian dressing table, candles sat, unlit, on its richly varnished surface. She ceased her brushing for a moment and gazed at her reflection. How lucky, she mused, as she had done countless times, that the reflection myth was just that. How awful it would be if I could cast no reflection, if the cold mirror surface refused to hold my image. Just how would a girl’s vanity survive such a curse?

She smiled, but the expression was no more than a spectre that brushed gently over her lips. She was too preoccupied to truly smile; her heart ached too much. In the mirror her rich hazel eyes, almost imperceptibly streaked with veins of scarlet, held a pain that reflected the ache in her heart.

She turned her head and looked at the ornate carriage clock, the hands making their slow march towards the midnight hour. She gently placed the brush on the dresser and allowed her slender fingers to glide across the mirror’s smooth surface, gently brushing the reflection of the clock face.

Almost midnight. Almost a new millennium. In just fifty years she would be a millennium old herself, or in sixty-seven years if you counted from when she had received the Velvet Kiss.

She could barley remember her life before the Velvet Kiss, a life as a young maiden brought by her Norman father to a newly conquered England. She was unable to remember the name her parents had given her; indeed she had even forgotten their faces. Her memories were crystal clear from the moment that the vampire, who at that time had called herself Bronwen, had carried her over and, as was the custom for Fledglings, given her a new name, from that night she had been Danaan. To her life, albeit one of undeath, began in the autumn of 1067.

Nearly a millennium. Too much time for a human to contemplate and so much of that time spent in solitude. Oh she knew the cause of the ache in her heart; it was the dull pain of loneliness. Loneliness punctuated by a myriad of brief encounters. Encounters which, for some time, had failed more and more to lift her melancholy spirits.

Danaan looked over to the bed. Across the richly embroidered bedspread lay a girl, naked and quite dead. Death had claimed her because she had trusted someone called Juliana, the identity Danaan had adopted for the moment. If it had not been for a moment of carelessness, a lapse of reason, the girl might have distracted the vampire from her solitude, if only for a brief time.

It was unnecessary to kill. Other vampires did, but the undead varied in their appetites as much as the humans. Some vampires glutted themselves on each of their victims, but it was a choice not a necessity. The creatures only required a couple of pints to sustain their flesh, unless they were fighting injury or needing every ounce of their supernatural strength. Some of her kind took the attitude that to be immortal bestowed godhood upon them, giving them divine right to decide whether a donor lived or died, others simply did not care. Some took pleasure, even sustenance it was said, from causing the donor’s last moments to be filled with terror, whilst others filled the donor with terrible pain. Some rationed themselves with a stable of donors to save the need for repeated hunts. A few, like Danaan, felt a desire stronger than the need to feed, they desired company.

In the last days of the twentieth century many vampires haunted the S&M clubs, willing donors could always be found amongst the submissives. Danaan preferred the neo-gothic scene. She had some fond memories of the Renaissance; she had adored the gothic movement and had taken delight in the works of the pre-raphelites. Yet the melting pot of culture that was the late twentieth century, moving – as the clock had reminded her – at breakneck speed towards the twenty-first century, had created a rich vista of sub-cultures. The neo-gothics fascinated her with their heady mix of the macabre and the romantic. The glorification of the monotony of an industrial society underpinned with the bitter sweet agony of unrequited love both excited her and provided an easily accessed food supply.

Vampires were vogue within the movement. Some of the participants in the scene actually believed they were vampires. Okay, some of them were lunatics, but others were simply deluded, denying the fact that their twisted libidos had grown to associate blood with sex. Not that they were wrong, orgasm most definitely improved the crimson draft, but in a way that only a Child of the Velvet could detect.

Hell, vampires were so vogue that Danaan had once paraded herself around a neo-gothic club with her fangs fully extended. No one seemed the least bit shocked; one girl had even approached her and asked her for the address of her prosthetics company.

That evening, however, she had decided to be a little more reserved. She had worn a pseudo Victorian velvet dress of rich imperial purple and kept her fangs retracted. As the city fell into its millennial celebrations she had taken herself to one of the numerous neo-gothic clubs that littered New York, a place called The Raven.

She had arrived at the club long before the crowds and had almost left as a result. The few patrons consisted of the hardcore Goths. For these being neo-gothic was not a fashion statement or a phase, but a way of life. When the scene was no longer chic they would continue to dress in black and circle their eyes with kohl, they would continue to hold true to the vision.

The club was filled with an air of pretension. The patrons either sat in insurmountable cliques or stood alone and aloof. The pretension seeped from their very pores like a sweat born of a perceived superiority.

It was often the way, she had observed, when a person found something that made them feel different from the planet’s thronging masses. It didn’t matter whether it was a fashion or style, or the ability to appreciate literature rather than being perpetually glued to mindless soap operas on TV, or even being an immortal who imbued blood to survive. Yes, there were many vampires who carried the same air of pretension, forgetting or even denying that they had once been human. It was most common amongst the Fledglings; a phase that often caused the older vampires to despair, sometimes managing to cut the bond between Fledgling and Sponsor. It was a phase that more often than not they grew out of given time, Danaan certainly had, often but not always.

Music from the eighties Goth scene pounded from speakers, spilling over the empty dance floor. The early patrons demanded that “original” gothic music was played, yet were too aloof to dance.

Yes, she had almost left; their pretension chilled her flesh more than her empty veins. Then, around ten o’clock, the place began to fill up with the crowds and the atmosphere began to change. The melancholy, often under-produced, music faded out and modern harsh chords pounded across a quickly filling dance floor.

Danaan had spotted Eternity on the dance floor. She was a pretty young thing beneath the hair, dyed raven black, and the thick kohl eyeliner. Perhaps seventeen or eighteen, certainly too young to have legally entered The Raven, too young for the scent of alcohol that lingered on her breath. It hadn’t taken long to seduce her. Another advantage of the neo-gothic scene was the willingness many of them had to flirt with bisexuality.

Danaan had crossed the floor towards the mortal girl, her movements gracefully flowing with the pounding beat. She had circled the girl, her curved hips swaying sensuously, her hands moving to the music, occasionally one of her fingers would delicately trace down the warm flesh of Eternity’s arm. Soon the movements of the two girls mirrored each other, the rest of the club shrinking away until there was just the two of them.

Eternity was enthralled by the stranger’s beauty. She drank in her long dark hair, held away from her face by ornate silver hairpins. She studied her face, the smooth pale skin and luscious lips that seemed to naturally form a slight pout.

The young mortal traced a hand lightly down her face, following the slight prominence of her cheekbone. She was so beautiful.

Her eyes lingered on her slender neck and then flowed down to her chest. Eternity drank in the round mound of her breasts, the purple dress allowing a hint of cleavage. As the flickering lights burst white for a moment she caught the subtle hint of veins, a pale blue just below the surface of the snow-white skin.

Before long they had slipped from the club unseen, Eternity’s plans to celebrate the millennium with her friends forgotten as her sexual appetite overcame her loyalties. Later, when Eternity had not arrived home and the cops had questioned her friends, none of them could remember her leaving. None of them could clearly describe the girl she had talked to and danced with. None of them believed they would recognise her again, but all agreed she was beautiful.

All vampires found that the Velvet Kiss bestowed gifts upon them. Danaan was of the line of Shang-Di, the Child of Golden Skin. He was the oldest of her lineage, a council member, and the Dark Children of his blood could bewitch the human mind, while their bite brought ecstasy. It was not telepathy as such, but they could hide themselves within a person’s memory so long as contact was limited, a simple act of smoke and mirrors, projecting images and sometimes a little more like making a voice sound different to a mortal’s perception. By touching their surface thoughts they could discern what that person was thinking, but true communication was beyond younger vampires, such as Danaan. More powerfully Shang-Di’s Bloodline could enter a mortal’s dreams, and in doing so shape their nocturnal fantasies.

It had been an easy task to distort the memories of Eternity’s friends and the doorman at the club, to make her features indistinct.

Danaan could not force her will on another however, not blatantly, although she could guide at times. Eternity had left the club willingly.

Danaan pulled up in front of a pair of wrought iron gates some six feet high. Eternity could see the mansion beyond, set deep within the grounds. “Where are we?”

“Home sweet home,” Danaan smiled, proud of the building that she had called home for the last two years. A guard opened the gate and Danaan drove in. The guards were all human, but generous pay ensured both their loyalty and discretion. Danaan would not be without them, she enjoyed the feeling of security.

Eternity had been suitably impressed when Danaan had walked her to her car, an executive model with heavily tinted windows, but this new revelation was simply awe inspiring. She stared out of the window as Danaan drove slowly up the gravel driveway. The grounds were well kept and spoke of money. Eternity guessed, correctly, that there would be a pool at the rear of the house.

In the club she had been attracted to Danaan’s beauty and entranced by her accent, European she guessed, but impossible to pin down. Sure the car had been impressive, but she did not ever stop to consider that the girl was this rich. She kept thinking girl, but was that correct? At first she had assumed her to be around her own age, but those eyes, those deep hazel eyes, seemed ageless. It didn’t matter how old Danaan appeared to be, she was certainly a woman.
In her mind what had begun as a one-night stand, an experiment in sexual boundaries with a beautiful gi… woman, started to develop the possibilities of something more. Perhaps it would blossom into a relationship that could last a while and she could share in the apparent affluence. She was shocked by her mercenary thoughts, but the embarrassment was soon forgotten, her senses bewitched by her lush surroundings, by Danaan’s pale beauty, by the delicate perfume of vanilla that permeated the air.

A large sweeping staircase dominated the entrance hall. Either side of the stairs, adorning each banister, was the statue of an eagle finished in gold gilt. Danaan leisurely ran her hand along the outstretched wing of one of the birds, feeling the cold metal under her sensitive fingertips and remembering, for a second, finding those beautiful pieces over a century earlier. She felt a pang of loneliness, as her thoughts turned to her long life. She reached out and took Eternity’s hand, allowing the warmth of mortal flesh to push her melancholy lonesomeness away, and led the girl up the marble stairs. Eternity was shocked by how cold Danaan’s flesh felt, but after all it was winter in New York, she rationalised.

As they climbed the sweeping staircase Eternity became more and more nervous. What if she failed to pleasure Juliana? The question haunted the girl’s thoughts. She was no virgin, Carl had seen to that and several times more to make sure, but she had never slept with another woman before and Juliana seemed so confident, so experienced.

It was as though Danaan could sense the girl’s unease. She paused and offered Eternity a reassuring smile before kissing her deeply, exploring the young girl’s mouth with her tongue. As the vampire allowed a barely extended fang to graze lightly over the mortal’s lip it was as though a jolt of electricity passed through Eternity’s body, her nipples stiffened against the black PVC of her bustier even as her crotch became moist. Her nervousness was drowned within an ocean of lust. Danaan broke the kiss and continued to lead Eternity upwards.

The bedroom was absolutely beautiful, but Eternity had little time to take in the beauty. Danaan fell onto the bed, pulling Eternity onto her. The young girl had time enough to realise it was a four-poster bed with an ornate, jewel encrusted cross above the head of the bed and then their mouths met, and the room no longer mattered.

Danaan pushed Eternity’s jacket off her shoulders as they kissed, allowing it to fall from her body. Expert hands ran along the young girl’s spine, her fingers releasing catch after catch, causing the bustier to come away from her body, freeing her small pert breasts.

Fingers ran through shoulder length raven hair and nails scratched playfully down a swan neck, causing Eternity to gasp. Danaan’s hands moved further down, cupping the girl’s breasts, relishing their softness.

Eternity reciprocated, touching her lover’s breasts through the sensual velvet of her dress. But her hands moved tentatively, unsure of themselves.

In response, Danaan grasped the girl’s shoulder and, with a twist, Eternity found herself on her back looking up at the deep wells of Danaan’s eyes.
Danaan’s hand slipped behind her back and with a deft movement her dress was unfastened. She stood over the girl and allowed the dress to pool around her ankles. For a moment Eternity could do nothing but marvel at her lover’s flawless body. Her eyes caressed her beautiful face, brushing down her slender neck, pausing at the small mole just below her shoulder, an imperfection on the otherwise faultless skin that served to make the woman even more perfect. Her eyes continued to her generous, firm breasts. Her vision devoured her brown nipples, the large areolas offering a contrast to the snow-white complexion. Her eyes continued their visual feast sliding down Danaan’s taut stomach, lingering on the trim black hair that covered her pubis and then running down her long, toned legs.

This is heaven, she thought to herself, but how can a woman so perfect be interested in me?

With a slow, sensual movement, practically feline in nature, Danaan lowered herself and kissed the girl again. Her lips drifted over her chin and along her neck, only stopping their descent when they reached her breasts. She teased the girl’s small pink nipples with her tongue, first one and then the other, as her hand slipped up Eternity’s short skirt and into her soaked, flimsy underwear.

My God, Eternity sighed to herself, this woman has done this before. Danaan’s slender finger had found the girl’s clitoris and had started to gently flick the delicate bud.

Before long Eternity’s skirt was removed as were the gossamer briefs. The young girl’s pubic mound was a downy blonde, which caused Danaan a brief moment of amusement as the realisation struck her that Eternity was a natural blonde. How many blondes dye their hair dark, she laughed to herself? Then amusement turned into lust and Danaan nestled her face into the girl’s crotch, her tongue lashing the clitoris as her fingers thrust in and out of the girl’s sex.

Eternity bucked wildly as she felt the orgasm build through her body, her ecstatic screams rising to the heavens. This was when Danaan made her fatal mistake.

She had a rule, never feed and fuck. Orgasm always made the blood sweeter; she could taste an orgasm in the blood an hour or two after the event. But the taste of blood during orgasm was something else again, how easy it was to loose herself within the feed.

Yet at the moment the young girl screamed her joy, Danaan could smell the sweet nectar below the skin, stronger than the erotic scent of sex, she could hear it engorging the girl’s vagina, drowning Eternity’s screams.

Danaan felt her fangs extend, she tried to stop herself but need and instinct enveloped her caution. Her fangs sank into the girl’s pudenda and the blood flowed into her hungry mouth as anti-coagulants ran along the sharp ivory.

The feel of the fangs buried deep in her caused the girl to orgasm again and again, fire burning through her exhausted body. Each orgasm enriched the blood further; causing the feed to become a frenzy that Danaan was unable to stop.

Eternity’s voice had become hoarse with her joyous cries; her eyes stared up at the silk baldachin of the deepest royal blue that formed a canopy above the bed like the richest night, though in her bliss she focused on nothing, whilst tears of ecstasy tainted her cheeks with black smudged mascara and her knuckles stained white as her hands gripped the bedspread. Then silence as blood loss caused the girl to slip from consciousness. But the blood was as rich as ever and Danaan drank until there was no more.


Danaan stood and walked from the dresser back to the bed, sitting on the edge next to the corpse. Eternity’s purse lay on the floor. In it were a couple of twenty-dollar bills that the vampire removed and placed on the bedside cabinet.

As she rummaged through the purse she found the girl’s library card. In the picture she looked like an ordinary college girl, the stylistic, neo-gothic makeup was not in evidence. She looked like a regular girl with an ordinary name, Mildred Stenbock. Danaan stroked the girl’s hair gently and said, “You know Mildred, Eternity suited you so much more.”

The vampire let out a sigh and then continued, “The saddest thing is I really think you and I might have been happy, for a little time at least. I am sorry that I took too much… at least you died in the arms of ecstasy.”

She started to pick up Eternity’s clothes, ready to dispose of her corpse. But melancholy still gripped her heart and she sat for a moment, her eyes moving for a moment to the ornate cross that she had hung above her bed for centuries. In the polished metal, distorted by the embedded gem stones, was the reflected image of Eternity.

It was true, they could have been happy. Yet time stretched infinitely before Danaan and mortals were so frail, their lives so fleeting.

She needed… The realisation crashed down in a terrifying wave… She needed a companion of her own kind. She needed to create a companion. She knew that was a dangerous path, a path she had once been convinced she would never tread. Yet the loneliness was overwhelming. Perhaps, she wondered, perhaps that is what sparked Radu to do what he did and, as she thought this, she felt that for once she understood him, only in the smallest possible way, but a little at least.

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