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King and Consort


His face is hard to remember because he died young. In a time long ago that seems distant in the cusp of memory, in my small world, he was all that mattered, and in that world, he felt the same. Our worlds are different and strange now. For one, he doesn't exist any longer, and I am all that remains a wafting emptiness alive only in the flesh, not soul.

There were good things about him, many reiterated his qualifications: a brilliant scholar, a kind man and a good son. He'd tuck me warmly in bed, push my hair over the pillow and smile. They thought he'd be regal as a king one day, but ask them how they feel today and all of them slap tongues on fangs and shake heads in dismay. In the living room mantle, there are no pictures or remnants from his stay in our home. Like time, his face is inscrutable and tucked in shadows.

Mother said, it's ok not to remember. A son of the Kurosu clan did not feel impish over trivialities. A brother wouldn't mind being forgotten by his sole sister, a ghost does not harness power over the ones alive.

Not me, I wasn't the same. In order to fill the void incurred by his absence, I dedicated a shrine to him. On my most difficult days, there I sat and tried to remember him, his soothing hand passing over my head.

"Don't worry. It's going to be fine." Mother whispered against the ring of my ear. "Be strong, remember everything we've talked about." She held strands of my hair between her elegant fingers and looked at the shrine. "This was out of our hands from the beginning. It's a promise we can't alter even if we dare."

She resumed brushing my hair in lethargic tugs. "We're indebt by the promise made by your forefathers. Don't be scared. From here, our lives are in your hands." Lucky rubies, stark emeralds and bright jade ornaments were pinned to my hair for good luck.

"Juuri." My father hovered the hallway entrance. "The car has arrived."

The clench of her fingers on my forearm made me still on the floor. Her arms strapped tightly around my waist, and I felt her shiver against my back as she pushed her wet cheek on my shoulder. "Yuuki..." The soft croon quivered in a melody of sobs.

She stiffened so suddenly my knees trembled on the floor, firmly I was hauled to my feet. "You're all grown up now. We were waiting for this day ever since your brother died." On the carpet her silhouette swiveled into hands that wiped tears. I waited for her to compose and turned around.

"Help us live, Yuuki." Stabs of repentance and grudge anchored her tone.

My arms wrapped around her slender frame affectionately. "I will." Through the veil of her dark hair, soft ruby eyes of my father appeared. He stepped closer and offered a hand. My mother nodded reassuringly and urged me forward with a hand on my back.

He swooped the other arm around my head to kiss my pate. "Take care of yourself."

"I will, thank you, ka-chan, otou-chan."

It was no ordinary celebration. Relatives and spies hawked impatiently around our residence for weeks, all salivating for this particular event. Their morose eyes drenched with pity and scorn devoured me. My mother stopped mid center in the foyer. It was as far as she could go, and I didn't blame her. I parted an exuberant smile from my shrieking heart to my vigilantes.

"So young…" Someone whispered over my back.

"It's better if it's her."

"Tsk, tsk our family's life is on her tiny shoulders."

"Can she really do it? Ruthless purebloods, ruthless."

"…That Yuuki Kurosu had it coming."

My father cloaked me before guiding me inside of the car.

"Don't be angry, Yuuki." He whispered over my enshrouded head. "It was fated." A tear glided over the curve of his jaw as he closed the door.

Yes, it was a day fit for a funeral, but I'm being transported to meet the ominous purebloods of all time. The chauffeur's sparkling cider eyes caught mine in the mirror. He waved a gloved hand in acknowledgement and started the ignition. I glanced to my left at the window, freezing at the fleeting image of my bowing father.

This is one journey I can't do with my parents.

• * •

I've never met one, but I'm told they are ravenous demons from the hollows of hell. A deal forged centuries ago by our families is why I'm their prisoner. For the sake of the Kurosu clan, I've lived for this day and will surrender my life to the originators of our kind, the Royal Purebloods. Humans worship gods in the sky or idols, for millions of years vampires worshipped purebloods for none are supreme than those who control our lives, the kamis of vampire world.

Once upon a time, a pureblood king fell to death without an heir. Indictments floated, soon a Kurosu clan member was convicted. Previously daughters were snatched as sacrifice to perpetuate the royal bloodline, all of them after salvaging their worth in the king's eyes were killed. Every two centuries the youngest Kurosu daughter is sacrificed in honor of the murdered pureblood.

There is one exception to the curse nonetheless, a first born son can exonerate his sister. In the last six centuries, the Kurosu clan only conceived sons who married normal vampires and resumed the downward spiral from their pureblood ancestry to noble or common leveled vampires. This record of male births has ceased.

Twenty years ago, the first daughter of the Kurosu clan was born. That is me.

My qualities vary from that of my relatives. In my younger, fledgling days I stole away from home because of my abhorrence for the taste of blood. The outside world is a curiosity of mine since I can remember. My relatives pray to the moon and bask in shadows. Very few of my ancestors prefer the sun like I do. Between generations the features of my noble ancestors kept switching. Henceforth most Kurosus are celestial with fair hair and eyes, and yet like my parents, I was born with darker features, harboring an astonishing resemblance to the feared purebloods.

The chauffeur opened my door once we arrived at the palace. "Keep your head lowered." He counseled.

Restless autumn wind fluttered against my hood, nipping my skin. The long grass in the yard tickled my ankles. The scraping leaves dispersing over the courtyard instilled me with unrelieved nostalgia. Full of snow and chills, inevitable and ferocious, winter lurked high in the clouds and deep in the soil.

It's been seven years since I stepped out in daylight.

The chauffeur's trailing cloak helped guide me up the entrance. He didn't ring the bell but the door hung open by an unseen silhouette, light shot over shoes and the creature skittered back into shadows. I stepped through, suddenly burdened in the darkness. He launched solidly like a falling wall.

"You must be." The vampire peered in the cylinder of my hood, "Kurosu Yuuki."

I could only catch glues of his polished shoes and the movement of large wrinkled hands from my hood.

"Come. They are expecting you." Crossing over the burgundy carpet, he led me to halls that raced against each other. Oriental rugs, sculptures, western and eastern art danced in view. But no mirrors.

He came to a sharp halt and tossed me one careful review. "Enter here." Gliding past me, my tacit escort prompted me to a drawing room. Once he arranged me in precision, he left me in the reverberation of the closing door.

I flipped around anxiously. "Excuse me?" No response came from the other side, as it would be since he was long gone. Probably creeping behind the main door again. Oh such courtesy.

Standing in a strange room belonging to the stupendous purebloods is nerve wracking, and my heart skated out of my chest. I busied myself instead by pulling my hood, arranging my hair and swatting dusts from my coat. If my life was on the stake, I'd best look presentable and make an amiable impression. Where laws and loopholes presented, an escape plan was a must.

Wishful thinking, I'm as good a lamb to ferocious wolves.

Padding noises ghosted on smooth floor from somewhere behind. I turned and saw myself disappear in black eyes that swelled only with crimson. Its colossal frame assumed ample strength to overpower and tackle me. The wolf's head stopped directly over my chest.

A wolf.

It really was a wolf.

Then I'm a lamb. Which means I'm dead meat, literally.

"Ah." Pain lodged in the back of my head, I massaged the spot piteously. It can't be. No, it was not a wolf. A dog, yes, a dog.

Its empty eyes rode over me in fascination, and the hairy black ears angled ever so slightly at my gravitating hand. "You're a dog. Dogs don't eat people. You roll over and bark. It's your forte." I nervously stroked the pate. "Nice doggie."

The doors behind me plunged open to let several members enter. I ducked around, eyes downcast in front of the revered purebloods whose prey I had become.

• * •

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