Welcome to the return ride of Vengeance! I applaud you for suffering this far. This story is the prequel to Vengeance is Written in Blood, but it's to be read after that story. I want you all to bare with me, Vengeance's first chapter was the beginning of something I had no idea what it would turn into 255 reviews and 87 favorites later. This could possibly be the same, or I could be getting worse, not better, as I try to write something out of my comfort zone for the first time. Historical writing? Pah. I'm a modern girl and this should be interesting to accomplish. I want to warn everyone who has read Vengeance, this story's mechanics are going to be a little different. I mean that I have brainstormed and thought of new aspects and characteristics for the vampires, and guess what? They most definitely do not sparkle. Anyway, there are things that I did not mention in Vengeance, so please don't be confused when Taylor starts rambling on about being able to go into the sun.

Before we start, I just want to thank you! My readers. I could not have expected the response I received from Vengeance and I want to thank everybody who supported me and (hopefully) still is! Thank you so much. -hugs- I hope you like Taylor's tale and I hope this will shed a little more light on how Taylor is the way he is and why he does the things he does!

And... Pardon the butchered French in the story. I used an online translator, and those things are supposed to be off a little. Thank you!

L'homme avec le masque blanc vous sauvera. The man with the white mask will save you.
L'homme avec le masque blanc vous aimera. The man with the white mask will love you.
L'homme avec le masque blanc vous tuera. The man with the white mask will kill you.

Every lifeless cell of his being was prepared for the task that needed to be fulfilled. The man couldn't feel the wind or the soft specks of rain falling from the looming clouds overhead, he didn't flinch at the sound of a car screeching to a halt several hundred yards away, nor pay mind to the cat hissing furiously at him as he approached the small, quaint little home, located in this friendly little suburb not far from New York City.

It was the later part of the afternoon, long before sunset, but that didn't stop this man. If a man was what one would call him. Since sunlight could still harm him in his human skin, he held faith that the shade of the clouds would protect him until his deed was done and he was gone. He looked human, walked as a human, spoke with the same tongue as any other, but he was not mortal. His tall figure was well built from his raise, his skin was pale, almost translucent in the right light, but perhaps it just looked whiter under the blackness of his hair and eyes. Those dark coal eyes were trained on the house of his destination, where the task resided.

The front door to the house was not locked. The windows were not sealed. There was little keeping him from reaching her.

A record of Frank Sinatra played softly inside, almost in rhythm with the heartbeat of the only person within the household. She moved freely through her home, humming and sometimes singing along with the record as she dusted her living room.

The tall, pale man watched her in the living room through a large window, he followed her steps with his cold, dark eyes and waited until he could no longer see her backside before disappearing from her view. She was an older woman, though not completely unattractive; one didn't have to be blessed with better vision to notice the wrinkles forming around her eyes and lips, or the gray streaks threatening her blonde hair. After observing her, he moved further into his undertaking.

The back door was not locked. The man entered soundlessly from there, with the angry cat hot on his heels. The feline made quick steps into the living room, where the humming target resided. She sounded pleasant and happy as she said, "Hello, Tabby. Didn't I put you outsi-" she cut off her sentence, realizing that something was not as it should be.

With fast steps and a quickened pulse, she made her way to the back door after walking around to the front, but the intruder fled the opposite direction into the room of which she left. Just as she closed her back door, he cut off the Sinatra record. Again, she stood stiff and silenced her own noises to listen for anything out of the usual to help her decipher what was going on. 'Perhaps it was the end of a song? A new one should have started by now. The plug fell out of the socket, it is loose on that side of the room,' her thoughts tried desperately to explain the unexplained. That was the custom of the people in this age, they were confident anything and everything could be explained with test tubes and statistics, and if it couldn't, it didn't exist or was fake. No one could simply be frightened anymore.

Too quickly for her eyes to see, the intruder moved without sound behind the target as she entered the living room again. He stood silent in the doorway, watching the woman pointedly as she looked over the record player and set the needle back on it's track. "That's odd..." she whispered. Perhaps the cat knocked it off? The classical tune of Sinatra began again, her racing heart still sprinted loudly in her chest.

The intruder took a step closer to her backside.

He acted much like a predator, and she his prey, yet he dressed in a clean, crisp suit of a dark blue that held no wrinkles. His dark brown hair to match his eyes was slicked back neatly, not a strand out of place. He looked like a regular businessman, he even carried a leather brief case.

He nearly closed in on her now, he could end her life now if he wanted too...

But patience was a virtue.

Having succeeded in making her alert, the man decided it was time to make himself known. "Mary Anne Lockett. We have a few things to discuss," he announced calmly, yet stiflingly.

He was an intruder in her home, and he was only feet from her.

Mary, the target, spun around, then backed harshly into the mantel behind her with fear. "Who are you?!" she demanded in a raised voice of apprehension bound with surprise. 'How does he know my true name?' Could Luis have sent him?' she wondered internally. Her hand gathered a fire poker, a weapon that would be like a fragile stick against his iron skull, but was a better choice than some weapons a mortal could raise against an immortal.

"Please, do not be alarmed. You have no reason to fear me just yet," the man explained cordially. His coal eyes rested kindly upon her. He walked slowly over to a recliner that was a few yards away. A pale hand reached into his pocket and pulled out a golden pocket watch. He grasped the item firmly before he sat in the recliner with a comfortable sigh.

Mary's hazel-green eyes followed the pale man cautiously. Her shoulders eased but her gaze narrowed upon his figure as he sat himself in her home, on her furniture, as if it were his. His skin was so pale, his manner so foreign. She looked upon him quizzically; where she came from probably suggested that the man was not human right about now within her mind. She would figure out what he was faster than any other mortal he'd come across.

"Please, sit. This is your home, after all," he offered.

"You negate my previous question," she snapped. The tall, dark-haired intruder quickly recalled her demand moments earlier and held the signs of apology on his white face.

"Pardon my manners, my name is Taylor Halling. I wish to tell you of a few things before I do what I came here to do."

"Which would be?" She inquired mildly.

"To kill you," the man responded truthfully. Her serene composure stiffened again; Taylor Halling opened his pocket watch, checked the time, then closed the face and set it back into his lap. "Please, take a seat." He gestured again to the chair across from himself.

Slowly, with a look of fear that was trying to decide if she believed his word or not, she took the seat and rested in it. Her body was still tense, but the blood was pumping slowly; no adrenaline was developing to send the poor woman into panic or shock.

"Now, is there anything you are curious about?" the cold, mysterious man offered now. His entire attitude was very calm, pleasant and nonchalant. Everything that murder wasn't.

"Yes," she started in a shaky tone, but was trying to become calm. "Why do you want to kill me?" She asked stupidly, not knowing how else to phrase it.

"Believe, me, I don't want to, I'm rather indifferent. Your death is going to be the catalyst in a chain of events that will lead to something wonderful and very much needed. A destiny bigger than yourself, if you will."

"I don't understand what you mean. If I must die, I deserve the right to know just what my death is going to trigger." Taylor focused on her thoughts for a moment. She was thinking of how long she'd be able to buy her time from him. She knew just what he was, she knew that she couldn't run or fight him off, so instead of thinking of ways to escape, she was pondering how to make her life last as long as it possibly could.

"Of course. See, this all has to do with your family's curse and your daughter, Allison."

"You're not going to harm her, are you?" she asked with horror etched into her features. Her neck hairs must have been standing with the anticipation in her eyes. Her one and only daughter and heir to their family's throne, Allison, was the subject now. The intruder smiled to himself.

"No. Just the opposite. I'm going to keep her alive at all costs. She is the key to the curse's demise." Mary sighed in relief and leaned back, but the confused glint in her eye returned as she wished for him to go on. "Why would a vampire such as yourself be interested in my Royal Family's curse?" she asked the man now, humoring him for knowing who she truly was, a Lockett and runaway queen, as he humored her for figuring out that he was a vampire simply from looking at his immortal manner and paleness of skin. Quite a witty woman, he thought. He would feel remorse in taking her life.

"Do you know just what the curse is, exactly?" the vampire asked her. She shook her head, but the creature could feel her coolness of the subject.

"I know that every male in the Lockett family has died after King Stefan, my husband included." There was a chill through her bones and ice in her voice with that statement.

"The curse is actually a tangible being, the same species as myself, but with a cold-hearted, vengeful nature that shouldn't be allowed to roam the earth as freely as she does. She has loyally executed the tragedies that follow the Lockett family tree for the last three centuries." Taylor's tone now matched the coldness of Mary's a moment ago. Vivid and wounding memories traveled to his eyes, they vanished an instant later.

"'She.'" Mary repeated. The curse was labeled by a gender?

"The bride of King Stefan, Courtney, was changed into a vampire several years into their marriage. She claims that the man did her wrong, and she took revenge over every generation since him, unyielding to her pert desire to see blood spilled. She is a malicious, vengeance-soaked and cunning being who shouldn't be allowed to live." Taylor's knuckles turned whiter than his pale skin as he created a tight fist. "I intend to destroy her. I've been calculating a plan for the passed nine years that's involved your daughter and a vampire meeting. They'll build a bond and together that will destroy this abomination with a bit of my guidance. In that plan, your death is the catalyst, as I've mentioned."

"And why not kill this monster yourself? The desire for revenge is strong within you."

"Oh, I have tried many a time," he told her easily, "and failed in each and every instance." His dark eyes ignited in fire now. "My plans all contained the same flaw; I went for a direct approach with little mind game. This monster's entire key to survival has been mind games, it's about time I played one of my own."

"How about you tell me everything, from the start," Mary coaxed, her tone chocolaty but her body nervous and shaking. The necessary conversation ended there, but it mattered little when she died, only that she did. The vampire Taylor scratched his chin, deciding if he wanted to go into his life story. He only wanted to tell it a certain amount of times; he planned on eventually documenting it and giving it to some old civil war descendant who grew up with stories about his great-great grandfather who fought against the Yankees.

Quickly he flipped the face of the pocket watch open again and checked the time. He made up his mind as he shut it again. "Alright. You might want to go make yourself some tea, this is going to take all night." Almost too quickly, Mary stood and turned toward the kitchen. "And don't even think of calling for help. Make any sort of call or run and you know what happens," Taylor warned. "Besides, 911 and the local authorities are useless to save your life in time," he added simply. The threat was crystal clear.

The runaway Queen nearly ran to the kitchen to get away from his atmosphere. Her heart beat was racing again. Her thoughts were spinning through dozens of options, all useless and she thought of that, too.

The vampire Taylor heard the spoon making 'clink' noises against the side of the tea cup as she stirred the liquid in the other room, then some other noise overlapped the sound of the spoon. He thought her heard the dial of numbers on a telephone.

Before she had time to dial a fifth digit, he appeared in the kitchen and the phone was smashed into pieces on the floor. She screamed and backed away from him, but he stepped closer with a quicker pace.

"You think I'm going to sit by and listen to you talk about how you're going to kill me? You thought wrong!" she shouted at the vampire. Her voice was strong but she was terrified.

"I understand," the pale predator replied.

His simple reply surprised her. "What?"

"You married into the Lockett family. Though you don't share their blood, certain traits are retained from offspring watching parent, or shared from partner to partner. I hardly expected you to be idle, I counted on it, actually, because your husband or any before him would hardly be that way. Yet, woman," Her heart skipped a beat as his calm, misleading, gentlemanly composure gave way to a dark and menacing glower. His height cast a deathly shadow over her as she backed into a corner. "You've made your choice for time. Your death is inevitable and necessary tonight."

He could hear her heart trying to escape her chest. Her pupils dilated from fear, her hazel eyes within the paled, wrinkled sockets were as wide as physical limits would allow. She stared directly into his coal-colored eyes.

What she saw she would never be able to record anywhere for anyone to read.

She saw evil, she saw hell, like a colorless wasteland with a lake of ice and all hell's intensity in those eyes. Yet, she was not fearful of death itself, only of the pain and of him.

The demon before her with the face of a handsome man and flowing dark locks made her faith stronger in that moment than any other moment in her life. It finally soaked in that she was going to die, not even God could change her fate now. Her eyes became blank and she stared at nothing and everything all at once. Her delicate, shaking lips parted to let out a plead for mercy, but none came. She would die with dignity, she would not once buckle her knees under this evil creature!

Without thought and only a hardwired need for survival, she tucked under Taylor's reach and fled for the nearest exit. Her hand hardly touched the doorknob to freedom before the vampire's strong grasp pulled her hair and shoulder in opposite directions.

The woman's neck snapped under the force, so she felt no pain when his sharp, long fangs ripped into the soft flesh of her neck.

Death was hardly upon her as he drained her helpless vessel of its blood. He stabbed into her skin again and again until it seemed like a devilish beast left their mark on her neck.

After the merciful act was done, after the floor and everything he wore was painted in red, and after he dropped her lifeless corpse unto the ground with a 'thud,' he wrote the message that she would leave carefully on the ceiling above.

In dark red letters, scratched into the plaster of the ceiling with claws and written over again in the warm blood of the victim below, read the word "Vengeance."