So the comments, ideas and I suppose even criticisms are all welcome.


SUMMARY

Remenants of joy and disaster eat at the souls of all men and the great Count was no different. His mind was now warped and twisted beyond reason as he had allowed the pain turn to anger which had eventually consumed him. The man was now an immortal Demon.

She awoke to the sound of the wilderness, learnt many new things, but thought she was far too late by the time the painful memories returned. The woman was brought back as a daughter of the Earth.

The time is that of Kings and Demons.

Wars, fears and tears are the companions we must accept in the very dark depths of the night...


Note: I am well aware that my grammar would make my English teacher cry out in pain. I am also well aware that you may be a bit confused by the fact I've just stolen characters, places and events from different parts of history...It is okay, I know...don't tell me!(And don't tell my history teacher either...cos he might just lynch me for the inaccuracies I should really know by now...)


1. White, Her Companion

The place was Constantinople. One of the oldest cities of prominence in the Holy Roman Empire lead by Emperor Theodosius. It stretched for miles in either direction. Four small settlements had come together for greater protection and look what had become of the innocent strategy. Inside the high stone walls resided a number of citizens and non-citizens including foreigners. Some where rich sophists tutoring the spoilt children of the elite. The clever men came from all over the barbaric empire. The most popular were those of Greek origin. Some of the populace were young and optimistic politicians hoping to enter onto the Cursus Honorum. It wouldn't be long before they found themselves pulled into the dangerous web of corruption. After all, what good was a politician if they were not crafty devils? To be dishonest was not such a bad thing, as long as it is working for you obviously.

Others were the poor plebeians simply trying to etch out a living from the meager scraps thrown to them. It was a mixture of all these people that were attracted to the old ways instead of the new. They looked to the old Gods despite the promises of the new and single God. A few of the officials themselves preached one thing and practiced another, but was not that the way with everything they said?

Some said that the old ways were dying. The days of the old temples were drawing to a final close and they would either be sacked for the wealth accumulated over hundreds of years or simply gather dust. The temples remained untouched, for now, even if the number of followers had dwindled. It was true that the new and more popular God drew the crowds more readily, but the spirit of the old ways was far from dead. There were those that still possessed the essence of the Gods they worshipped.

The sounds coming from the Plaka were animated as usual. The sounds of men bartering for the best possible deal. Pots, wheels turning, children crying, the whipping of a clumsy slave and the shriek of gossiping house servants. It was all soo alive. Beautiful despite the symbolism of the sounds, it was all alive and breathing. There was the smell of foreign spices from lands beyond the comprehension of the common man. One could imagine the colour of the fabric merchants brought from the East. Gold, reds and the deepest blues to adorn the richest households. The smell of fresh fish from the sea and the image of all their colours like jewels plucked from the sea. Animals were being herded and taken to the center for sale. The sounds of hooves, snorts or the "bah" from lambs turned in the generous spring...

The Plaka was near to the temple, but none of the vivid sounds carried over the high and ancient walls. The groves of citrus trees stretched in scattered clusters around the grounds of the sanctuary. This was the home of the Goddess born to Leto on the island of Delos. A sanctuary to the old Goddess herself, Artemis. Not Atrume as the Etruscans had tried to modify the Greek Goddess unsuccessfully. No crucifix hung on any of the walls here and no rosary dedicated to the Virgin had ever graced the hands of any who had been here. The new God held no currency here amongst the pillars of marble. The main part of the old temple held scenes of the Goddess hunting in her many forests, of the crescent moon that hung in a dark sky or the creatures she regarded as her own. Colours of indigo, red and others of the rainbow had been used to create the master friezes. The presence of gold leaf and as objects of adornment showed the wealth possessed by the servants of Artemis.

A woman walked barefoot through the groves of ripe citrus trees. The path was of limestone, worn into a smooth surface from the many pilgrims who had traveled this path long ago. She was dressed in the colour of white with a shawl of a similar colour covering her bowed head. The length of cloth brushed the warm stone as she progressed towards the heart of the inner sanctum. Passed the pillars and up the marble stairs. The huge doors were opened immediately on her approach and closed behind her with a thud that traveled along the length and width of the room she had just entered.

She did not turn around to utter a firm rebuke.

The chamber would have rivaled the ancient capital of the Persians. Persopolis held the court of the greatest kings who demanded excellence as their birth right and they were Cyrus, Xerxes and Darieous. They would have found the sanctuary of Artemis adequate if not very suitable. The heady smell of cedar wood descended on the woman from the wooden rafters high above her head. As a result of the roof, the chamber was dark and might have distressed a foreign visitor, but the woman was unmoved. The heavy incense together with the dark and cedar wood had no affect.

She continued to walk with a purpose in mind.

The woman was heading to the back of the temple where no one, but the honored were allowed. Sunlight from the warm Mediterranean climate fell upon the open slats in the roof. The sun beams fell on and illuminated the beautiful figure in white as she progressed. All the young women she passed dropped their heads in respect. Women who had not even pledged their lives to the Goddess stopped and watched. It was only when she had passed, without any acknowledgement to them that they continued in their offerings. They were going to be married soon and as tradition stated, they placed their childhood belongings and even fears for the future on an altar to the Goddess for good luck.

The woman reached three more sets of doors. Each opened and closed behind her. The last of the doors she passed led her into a garden of sorts. It was a courtyard with a large pond as the focal point. It was filled with rushes and water lilies amongst other types of vegetation. The real treasure was to be found in the presence of the exotic fish that inhabited the pool. In the glimmer of sunlight the golden and orange creatures looked ethereal as they glided gently below the surface. However, the woman paid no attention to the beauty of nature either. She walked over to a wooden bench and table. Collapsed, lacking her usual collected grace, and sat with her head held in her hands. For a brief moment she removed her hands and gazed at them with her dark eyes. They shook slightly. The dreams that haunted her were becoming more frequent and were now occurring in the daylight hours. The dream like sequences of events was becoming harder to ignore.

Then why ignore them my kit?

"Because", in her exhausted mental state she forgot to address the large wolf by thought alone.

Because what?

The sounds entered her mind with clear comprehension and yet she delayed in answering her guardian. When she did answer it was avoiding the original question. She rested her face on her hands and watched as the large animal materialized in front of her. "One day someone will see you do that and then what?"

You are talking to your "pet" wolf. How odd do you think that appears? Have I taught you nothing!

The sound was sharp and hurt her head, it was always White's method of teaching her a lesson she would not forget in a hurry. "You are not allowed to do that to me anymore", she retorted faced with her pain.

Really?

"I am no longer a "kit" of yours", she put her head back in her hands to quell the ache, "It has been years since my last lesson".

So much for you learning anything in all those years spent across the East.

"I am not inept White", she continued in a softer voice, "These dreams are destroying me bit by bit and I feel restless yet again".

You have only spent ten summers in Constantinople-

"That is a long time in mortal terms White and you know it is-"

You never age, have gifts and are therefore not mortal.

"I bleed red blood and that is mortal enough for me".

From Sparta to Ephesus to Mounikhia to Brauron to Constantinople to where now?

"I just don't know right now. Perhaps if I could sleep I might think clearly-"

Don't ignore them

"I have to", she spoke while looking beyond the wolf. They were playing over in her mind.

Why must you ignore them?

"Because".

Because what?

"They were lessons given to me that are just too painful for me to relive", the words delivered with brutal honesty that touched the intelligent creature known to her as White.

Life's lessons are all hard. Was it easy to master the gifts you possess?

"You know it was never easy for me and when do the lessons of life ever halt?"

In the past three hundred years that have passed us you have never been a defeatist. Don't start now, it would be such a waste.

The woman placed her arms down on the polished wooden surface. Her eyes followed the patterns in the wood for a few moments before she said, "Three hundred years". She looked up at the wolf, "What have I done in three hundred years White?"

Made your ancestors proud

"And who are they exactly?"

You belong to the earth and in turn the daughter of the woman that came before you.

"She was?"

Why the daughter of Leto-

"Gods have never existed White", she broke in. White regarded her through his large grey eyes as she sat on the bench. Her fingertips ran over the silver band with the intricate patterns engraved upon its smooth surface. "How ironic for me to say such a thing. Here I reside in the temple dedicated to Artemis. A Goddess". She then remembered why she had chosen to live as a priestess. To avoid the hunger, to avoid the pain and the cold bite of winter. How hard it all was to return to the civilized world. How hard it was to adapt to comething she had never known, but look at things now. Here she sat as a empowered woman.

Gods were never what the scriptures proclaim them to be. They were ordinary people that walked this earth, but people with extraordinary gifts who chose to use them for evil or good. My kit, you have never had mortal parents so stop looking for them. You have never had any parents-

"Quilter was my father", she returned sharply. The pain of family had eased long ago. She knew, but that didn't stop her from behaving like a child when she was tired.

The wolf showed his infinite patience.

You know what I mean. I was there when the ivy unraveled and there laid a babe...

"I had not choice in the matter-". She felt the wolf nudge her and she turned to sink her fingers into his thick fur. The woman was enormously grateful for his presence ever since she awoke with a start and experienced the dark and icy rain pouring down on her...

Not then, but look now. The past century has seen you travel where you wish to go and now you wish to move again. No one is stopping you.

"I hold the power now", she thought aloud.

Yes child. Now write, it will make things more clear. Let what you think flow onto parchment.

"You know more than you tell me White", she probed with the hope of an answer.

I helped you master the gifts of the five kingdoms, but some things are for you alone to grapple with. With that the large animal settled by her feet and fell into a deep sleep. It made her roll her eyes with affection at the supernatural animal. How like him to answer her in riddles. Perhaps it would help her aching mind if she did write...