Times were dark, very dark. The year was 1350, and the 100 Years War was raging all around us, not to mention the Black Death was sweeping over the villages all throughout England and France. Our living conditions were dismal to say the least, and most of the villagers were dying out as a result of the plague.
However, one night while my family sat at our old, wooden table eating the gruel and drinking what little boiled water we had, we heard the rhythmic thumping of horse's hooves on the grass and rock. My father stood from the table, and told my mother to get us, my brother Alec and I, away from the door.
No sooner had he said that, the door burst opened and three Frenchmen stepped inside. Father barely had time to go to the fireplace and pick up the heated pot, which he threw at one of the men. It hit him over the head, and he said something in French while he gripped his face as the leftover water scolded it.
Father once again turned as he went for his sword, but one of the other men lunged forward, burying his sword into my father's back, and he coughed blood in an arch on to the wall. My mother screamed and ran towards his crumbling body, but the last man grabbed her by the waist, and pulled her towards him. Speaking to her in French, my mother's eyes went wide as she screamed.
It was a blur from there.
Two of the men stood and watched as the third man, the one who had sustained the burns, got down on his knees. My mother tried to scramble away, but failed in doing so when a hand came down on her face; her upper lip split opened and blood splashed from the wound on to Alec and me.
We watched as one, and then the others took turns on her, pumping into her with harsh strokes until their needs were met and they shuddered above her.
We watched as our mother wept, and as if what they had done to her wasn't enough, they felt the need to piss and spit all over her while laughing. She turned her head towards us then, the tears falling from her eyes and mixing with the blood on her face.
I zeroed in on her face, and it wasn't until I saw her eyes open wide in surprise, and the blood flow from her mouth that I realized what had just happened.
My mother's body went slack, and I looked on as the last traces of her life left her body.
Something inside of me snapped at that moment. A flood gate opened, and I felt as if I could do anything I wanted to, to these men.
Alec gripped my hand, and brought me out of my reverie. I turned my eyes up to look at the sweaty men before me, who hadn't bothered to right their appearances. The one with the red burn marks turned his attention to me, and smiled as he spoke to his friends.
As he stepped forward, I knew in that moment I did not want him anywhere near me, or my brother. Channeling this thought I forced it out of me, and into the room. He got a few steps closer before he stopped, and gripped his stomach. He fell to the floor as he bellowed out something. One of the other men started to walk forward, and I directed those same feelings at him with a similar response, though this time he threw up whatever contents was in his stomach.
Knowing full well that this wasn't going to hold for too long, I spoke to my brother, "Father has taught you how to wield a sword, right?"
I saw Alec nod his head, and go for a fallen sword. All three men were seemingly incapacitated, and I had no idea why. I mirrored my brother and went for a sword, and picked it up.
Pure, hot rage boiled through my system. After seeing my parents murdered, I felt as if it was my duty to rid the world of these bastards.
Without thinking, I went to the burned man and stood over him. With my proximity, his pain seemed to intensify, and I looked down at him, my own twisted smile forming on my lips.
"This is for my mother and my father and for any other family you have done such horrible things to."
The sword itself was awkward for me to handle, since it was almost as long as I was tall. Grabbing the hilt, I raised my hands above my head, bringing the sword down and piercing his stomach. Blood, black in the lighting, bubbled from his mouth, and he coughed while choking on it.
Alec came over, and he had the large, square stone we used to set the hot pots on. Raising it, he brought it down on the sword's hilt, running the blade further into the man, and into the hard packed earth below him.
The man convulsed once more, and took one last shuddering breath before becoming still.
I stared down at the man. Within twenty minutes they had killed my family, and subsequently killed Alec and I. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alec move and I turned to watch him.
He knelt over one of the men, and rummage around his belt area. After a moment, I saw that he held a small dagger in his hand. Before I could say anything, Alec leaned over the body, and placed the tip of the dagger at the man's eye socket.
In a flash it was over, and the man's eye popped from his head and dangled by tendons. He repeated the action with the other eye, and turned to his ears, cutting them off close to the head, and running the dagger into the ear canal as far as his strength would allow him. He stood and wiped his bloody hands on his clothing;.
I went and stood by Alec, and together we surveyed the massacre before us. Five bodies were lying before us, the silence now bringing our attention to the outside. We heard more cries from neighboring dwellings. Taking one look at each other, we knew what we had to do, and dispersed.
We gathered the essentials that we needed, what little bread we had left, whatever containers we had that could eventually be filled with water. In less than three minutes we were both at the door, and took one last look at the scene. Without another glance back, we peered out through the cloth covered hole in the wall, and saw our opportunity to run.
Throwing open the door, Alec grabbed for my hand and led us around the side of the house. We pressed ourselves close and scurried along it, until we were facing the woods that surrounded our area. All the action was taking place in the center of the village, so we ran. We ran long and hard until our legs began to cramp, and we could no longer breathe.
Looking back in the direction we had just come from, the sounds were faint, hardly even noticeable, and we could see a soft orange glow of what could only be flames. Wanting to get as far away as we could, we ran again.
Further into the night, we slowed our journey to wherever it was we were heading, to a steady walk. We came to the edge of the forest, and saw nothing but destruction and the faint smell of burning flesh, amongst other things. The burnt remains of another village was presented to us.
In a matter in which we were not brought up, we rummage through the remains to find anything salvageable, and came back with a sack which we put two extra pairs of shoes into, a loaf of bread and a little coinage.
We quickly left the place, however, unsure if the raid party would return for whatever reason. We made our way back into the forest, and as the faint light of dawn started to peak through the forest canopy, we decided that it wouldn't be beneficial to us if we didn't sleep.
"Rather than sleeping on the ground, do you think you could climb a tree a little ways?"
Knowing that Alec had probably learned this from our father, I nodded. "Yes, I think I can I can make it up a tree."
Not wasting any time, we scaled a tree that had thick branches, and made our way to nearly the top, where we found branches that went out from the trunk in a 'v' and situated ourselves for the night, or rather morning.
As I closed my eyes, the evening's events and exhaustion finally took hold of my body, and Alec spoke to me in hushed tones, "What did you do back there to those men? They just stopped in their places and didn't fight it."
I was just as dumbfounded as he was, but I knew whatever I had done, was seemingly going to be our only defense, unless we could find manageable weaponry. "I don't know, Alec. It just felt like something I was meant to do, what I had to do to protect us. It just came out of me as a thought."
No other conversation passed between us.
I awoke to Alec's hand pressed against my mouth, a finger pressed against his lips told me to be quiet. Removing his hand I watched as his gaze shifted to the side of my head. I heard the crunching of fallen leaves underneath as people walked beneath us.
"Sir, these two villages are gone, there are no survivors. The French are determined to have all our heads with the force by which they're taking us now." I turned as quietly as I could so I could see the men below.
"Very well, then. Let's make our way back and report to the King."
"Wait, what about that coven that's north of here?"
What seemed to be the leader stopped, and took a moment to think.
"As much as I hate to think about what those…people are doing and going against the crown, there are more important things in this world right now. If they have not disbanded within the next week, we'll go after them."
The group left, and when their footsteps were out of range, Alec and I descended the tree with our packs.
"Coven, as in a coven of witches?" Alec said.
"I suppose. And if the King is trying to round them up, that must mean they're a threat. If that is the issue, then we may be able to locate them and stay with them for a little while until we can move on to a larger area and seek out a more permanent stay."
With that, Alec and I got our bearings and headed north.
Towards the end of the first day's journey, we came to a clearing we had to pass through. It was nearing twilight, but the last rays of sun were making their final efforts to shine and reach the earth. Halfway through the clearing, I caught a glimpse of something near the edge of the woods; it shone in a dazzling array of varying colors, but by the time I turned my head to see what it was, it was gone.
Alec noticed and asked, "Jane, what is it?"
I shook my head. "Thought I saw something, I must be getting tired, my eyes are playing tricks on me."
"Do you want to stop for the night, and get a good nights rest, and get an early start tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I think that would good."
We found a good spot, with a high tree and climbed it, settling in for the night. Our stomachs both gave growls.
"Alec, do we have any bread left?"
"We have half a loaf and a couple strips of dried meat left, and our water is running low."
"We should save it, incase it takes us another day or so to reach the coven, granted they're there."
We dozed off to sleep with our stomachs empty, and woke early the next morning. Descending the tree, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise up and goose pimples raise along my flesh. A grunt sounded off in the surrounding brush.
A boar came from the direction I heard the noise, and started to charge Alec and I.
The same dam seemed to burst open within me, the fear that I or someone I love was going to die. I projected these feelings towards the animal and it stopped mere feet from us and tumbled over.
Dumbfounded, Alec broke free from the shock of what I had just done again, and took a dagger from his pack and slit the animals throat, it's crimson blood staining Alec's hands and ground.
"How did you do that, Jane?"
"I don't know, I just thought that he was going to hurt us and he fell over."
"This is weird, sister. But, this may just be the sort of in we need with that coven we're trying to find."
"I can't control it. It's not that easy."
"You seem to know how to turn in on and off. Here, try it on me." Alec got up from the ground, wiping his bloody hands on his pants. "Come on, Jane. You do this to me, show those witches what you can do, we can travel with them for a week and leave them before those men come back."
"I would rather not hurt you, Alec."
"Jane, come on. You'll know if you hurt me. Try it."
Taking a deep breath, I released it slowly and focused thoughts of fear towards my brother. After a long moment of concentration, I gave up. "Anything?"
"I felt a wave wash over me, prickled my skin and a faint tickling sensation in my stomach, but that's it."
I shrugged. "I didn't feel particularly threatened; maybe that's where I get the potency from."
Turning, I went to grab my fallen sack, when all of a sudden I was grabbed from behind, with a dagger pressed to my throat. That triggered the flood gates to open and my brother screamed in my ear as he fell to the ground.
As soon as I realized what I'd done, I fell to the ground beside Alec. "Are you alright? What in the world were you thinking, doing that to me?"
Alec seemed to regain himself and he smiled up at me, though he still held his stomach. "Wanted to help you out…test a theory."
I couldn't help but smile down at him. "Well, now we know. Don't ever do that again, or else."
Alec sat up and slowly got to his feet. "Or else what, sister?"
I shot a look at Alec. "What are we going to do with the boar?
Alec looked back at it. "I don't have the ability to string it up, so we can either leave it here, or stay another night, cook it and get an early start tomorrow."
We decided to do just that. We built a small fire, using a rock technique our father showed us to spark a flame. He skinned the animal, and we gathered branches so we could cook small chunks at a time. Having our fill, we went to bed.
We set off at sunrise, and as we walked through the woods, I had the feeling something was watching us, perhaps following us. I scanned the area, and it seemed that whenever I turned my head, I would catch something out of the corner of my eye. I told Alec to look out for anything strange, and only once in our journey did he think he saw something,
When the day was drawing to a close, I spotted something hanging from a tree. It was circular, with a star in the center of it, and made out of some sort of pliable branch. A rush went through me as I remembered my parents talking about the witches' symbol, containing a star enclosed in a circle.
"Alec, come take a look at this."
He approached from my left and looked over my shoulder. "That, my dear sister, is the witches' symbol; were close."
We continued on in the same direction, but nothing else popped up. The day was turning to dusk when I started to give up hope, but then we heard a soft chanting coming from nearby. Alec and I slowed our walk, and stepped lightly on the leaves. When we stopped on the edge of the trees, the fading light and branches covered our bodies. From here we could see there were about ten people in a circle around a large fire, and they were all naked.
A lady, wearing just a silver crown atop her head broke from the crowd, and began to speak, "We gather tonight, to honor the Eostra, Goddess of the Dawn, bringer of fertility and harvest. Let us as one invoke the spirits!"
We watched, as the group used ancient words and called forward the spirits they worshipped. At the end, the woman with the crown passed out eggs and varying bowls of bright colors. They sat on the earth and decorated their eggs. After they were done and dried, they started to dig small holes in the ground, and bury the eggs.
Once all was done and they departed the spirits, Alec and I made ourselves known. We walked into the clearing as the group was drinking wine and laughing merrily.
"Hello," I spoke to a small group that had broken off from the larger one.
They came over, and welcomed us with open arms. "We were promised new friends and allies that would bring to us new gifts and insights to the world around us. Come, have wine with this evening and dance beneath our lunar mother."
I gave Alec a glance, and we joined them. While we didn't not shed our material skin as they wanted is too, we ate the bread and wine that was offered to us.
The following morning, we awoke to the smoldering ashes of last night's fire, and eight naked bodies surrounding us. The remaining people, a man and a woman, were standing near the remnants of the fire, talking in hushed tones and wearing what appeared to be light camisoles. When they noticed we were awake they came to us.
"I feel that you both have suffered a great deal in your young lives, and being here with us is just going to cause you more heartache. You caught us in a time of great spirituality and we welcome you. Though we feel that you are too young to be apart of us, you both have something rather unique; your aura speaks a million words to us. You are more than welcomed to join us on our journey, but you will have to part ways with us very soon."
The lady spoke to us bluntly and to the point, there was no dodging what was to come.
"We know we have a week," Alec told her, "on our way here, we were hiding in a tree and some of the King's men were there, talking about a coven, which we are only to assume, is this one."
"Then four days you may have to join us. We will be passing by a large settlement, and at that time you may break your ties with us and go your own way," the man finally spoke.
"What if we told you we had special abilities, ones that may protect your coven from disbanding?"
The man and lady looked at each other. "What…abilities?"
"When in a threatening situation, I tend to incapacitate people."
"Explain," spoke the man.
"It's easier to just show. Is there any game around here, boar perhaps?"
"Just inside the tree line, this is when they're out the most."
"Follow us then," Alec said, and the two older adults walked behind us.
Just like the man said, within moments of entering we heard the faint rustling a brush. And, just like before, I allowed whatever part of me to open and stop the boar in its tracks; Alec finishing him off.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fluttering of red material, and I whipped around as quickly as I could. I caught the faint glimpse of something black, almost like hair, and then it was gone.
"Simply wonderful. And you can only do this when you're in danger?" the woman spoke.
"For the time being, though I did try it on my brother, he said it just tingles a little and that's all."
"Marvelous." The two left us there in the tree line, once again muttering amongst themselves.
It was then decided as a coven, that we would join them, and stay with them as long as possible to protect them and help them escape persecution and burning.
Though, things didn't go so well. On the ninth day, we were crossing over a stream when we were attacked from all sides. I watched as most of the coven fell to their knees and pleaded to whatever deity they worshipped. Alec and I fought, however, he with a sword, and I with my mind.
Alec took down one, then another and I followed behind him, taking the threat down before him so he could finish them off.
Then, from behind I was struck and the world swam into inky blackness.
I don't know how much later it was, but as I came to, I could not move. My arms and feet were bound with rope, and wrapped around a large pillar. To my left was Alec and to my right the lady that had shown much kindness to us.
A man walked in front of us and held a cloth wrapped branch that was lit on fire, and as he spoke, he touched the torch to the incendiaries below us.
"These witches before us are here because they have chosen the wrong path to live in life. They are going against the Church, God, and Christianity, and must be stopped. We choose fire for it cleanses the soul and rids this place of the filth these people carry."
The fire licked at my feet, my toes darkening with the smoke and heat. Then out of nowhere my hands, followed by my feet were free and I was being tugged hard from where I was, at speeds I could never fathom existing. It took a moment to realize Alec was by my side.
A man with a red cape and long black hair walked into my view. "Children," he spoke in almost an angelic tone, "I have been watching you for almost a fortnight. I have come to realize that you both have gifts, and it is something that intrigues me greatly. I have come to rescue you from a terrible fate, in exchange for your services, I offer you salvation and many, many years of companionship and loyalty. What do you say, children, would you like to join our family?"
"What services?" I asked.
"What I am, and where I come from, we are considered the law. Every once in a while I find people who have special abilities that can help and govern our world. You will have a home and adequate food supply, and anything you will ever want."
"And we will be protected?" Alec asked.
"Oh, yes, dear one. You will be protected and you will be protectors."
I looked at Alec, as he looked at me. In unison, we dropped to our knees and pledged ourselves to the man in front of us.
Without warning, we were both on our backs, screaming our lungs into the air. Just below my ear I could feel blood dripping down my neck, followed by the worst pain I have ever felt in my life.
I screamed and screamed until my throat was hoarse and I no longer had the will to live; the pain was indescribable. The pain ran its course through my body, my heart thundered within my chest, picked up speed…so fast…thump thump, thump thump. If felt like it was going to explode from my chest. Giving a few more quick beats, my heart stopped. My lungs stopped. The pain stopped. I sucked in a lungful of air and so many smells assaulted my senses. My eyes opened and everything was clear. I could hear the water from the creek, but that was too far away for me to possibly hear.
I stood up, the movement coming effortlessly and quick. The man in red stood there, a small smile on his face. "Jane, welcome to your new life. My name is Aro, and I am part of what is called the Volturi. I have changed you to serve as part of my guard, to help govern our kind…vampires."
"Jane, I thought you'd never wake up," Alec said. I turned towards him, almost spinning too fast and falling.
"The change happens differently for us all. Alec here, he has been with us for a little over a day now, and we've been waiting for you to wake up. He has harnessed the power to cut off all sight from people and to render them unable to hear. He's been practicing on the town folk, before of course, eating them. Speaking of eating, you must be starved."
At the mention of being starved, my throat convulsed and I swallowed. "Yes, I am a little thirsty."
In a blur, Alec was gone and back with a man. Taking one whiff of the air around the man, my body lunged forward and I was on him, sucking him dry. I pulled back covered in blood. Aro went to take the man away, when I turned on him. His back arched and a scream tore from his mouth. I looked away and he collapsed to the ground. Then he laughed. "Oh yes, dear Jane, your powers too have come over with you, and a most potent one at that. Now, no doubt you are still hungry, and Alec I am sure is too since after smelling all that blood. Let us join, as a family, to take this village down and show them what creatures really exist in this world."
I walked over to Alec and joined hands with him. We both looked at Aro, and as he turned to head to the village, Alec and I joined him. Together we slaughtered the town, honing our gifts and drinking our fill.
Together, Alec and I have stood by Aro's side, and his decisions for the past seven hundred years. And so we will, for another seven hundred more.