"Save the day, come take this all away, come on now"
Hero ~ Burning Tree Project
by Eel Nivek
• • • • • •
In the realm of the Vampires, there once existed a ruler known as the Lord. He was among the first of his kin. He had lived throughout the ages, since the beginning of time, watching mankind co-exist with the cold ones. As the ruler of his kind, he kept a watchful eye over the balance by establishing laws and executing those who betrayed the order.
He was the indisputable Lord, the King of the Cold Ones, the Ancient, and the Nosferatu. His terrifying power allowed him to keep his subjects under control. In order to ease the fears of his kind, he constructed a system consisting of clans. With this system, he ruled alongside his court, comprised of ten clan leaders, each members of the Ancient bloodline.
No one contested or challenged his place at the head. They were wary of his power and knew how insignificant and needless a rebellion would be. It would be a one-sided massacre. The ten clan leaders respected the Lord, out of fear and formality. They abided by his words and governed their kind alongside him.
However, as the years passed by, the flame of rebellion slowly began to spark. Many of the clan leaders conducted secret meetings behind his back and cursed his cold-hearted ruthlessness. They were sick of the way he condescended them, as if they were nothing but insects and toys that he kept merely for his amusement. But most of all, they envied his power. They believed it was unfair for a single vampire to wield such destructive power.
So they conspired, planning and waiting for the right time to strike. Their desperation grew once they heard rumors that their Lord was planning on taking a mate. As the Lord himself, he was powerful, but not untouchable; however, with the acquisition of a mate, the Lord would be ten times as strong and nearly invincible. They had to strike.
Calling all who were loyal to their cause, the corrupt clan leaders laid a trap. By acquiring a quantity of Sacred Tear, a liquid extremely lethal to their kind, the leaders slipped the toxic into one of his drinks, with the intention to drug him.
Unaware of what his subordinates were plotting, the Lord drank the concoction and fell into paralysis. Seeing the effects of the poison take its toll, the clan leaders immediately began the next phase of their plan. They humiliated the Lord in every respect. They desecrated the temple built through his toil. They cut several locks of his pristine, silver hair.
But they saved the worst for last. The leaders conjured up a spell so intricate and potent that they had to sacrifice their first-born heirs to produce it. Such sacrifices were needed to seal the power of the Lord. In their last act of rebellion, the leaders completed the spell and sealed their Lord's power.
The effects were instantaneous. The Lord, who bore the royal red eyes of the Ancients, found himself stripped of that rank. The color of his eyes faded drastically until they turned into a foreign blue. His once silver hair deteriorated and darkened into black, the color of poverty and filth. He was completely humiliated. He was completely human.
Wasting no time, the leaders hung up his frail body for their people to see. Their leader, the feared Lord, was not as invincible as they believed him to be. Many of their kind cried out in horror at the shame their Lord was being put through. Others simply shook their heads in disdain as they saw the end of an era.
The time of the execution had come. By now, all of their kin had heard of their Lord's subjugation. They had come to witness the rumor for themselves. As thousands and thousands of vampires crowded the palace's public square, the leaders brought the Lord out for all to witness.
He was nearly unrecognizable with his dark hair and dull eyes, but he did not give the traitors the satisfaction of seeing him angered or pained. His face was a mask of indifference, the usual condescending lord-like façade. He would not yield, even though he had been brought to lowest of lows. A pit of murderous anger boiled deep within him, but he suppressed the emotion.
The Lord looked to the skies and felt the moon's cold rays pressing down against him. He finally closed his eyes in acceptance of his fate. Although his desire to take revenge upon those who insulted him was strong, he knew his time was over. He would rather die than live as a human. He waited for the finishing blow to come, but it never came.
For no obvious reason, the public square blew up in outrage. In the midst of the chaos, he was stolen from underneath the noses of the leaders. Lightweight and nauseous, the human Lord closed his eyes once more as he let destiny have its way with him.
When all was clear and the danger to their master was long gone, the Lord's loyal servants set their master down and examined his new form. Shocked and unable to comprehend the change in their Lord's physique, two of the servants set out to find a shaman, one who had all the answers to their questions.
The Lord's servants finally found the one who could aid them, and they quickly brought the old shaman back to their master. The shaman examined the human Lord and explained that a powerful seal had been placed on him. He told the Lord that he retained only a slight amount of his original powers. Although he was stronger than a mortal, the Lord had lost the majority of his powers.
Upon hearing this, the Lord became angry. He vowed revenge on the clan leaders who had humiliated him and sealed his powers. However, as he made plans to eliminate the leaders, he discovered that his body was far weaker than he had anticipated. The Lord's body was so weak that he could barely walk without kneeling over. The strain of his raw power on his incompatible human body was too much.
Once more, the Lord looked to the shaman for the solution. The elderly man told the Lord that his body required time to adjust to the physical changes. To do so, the shaman suggested that the Lord rest for an adequate amount of time.
So the Lord fell into a deep sleep, hibernation. With his three loyal servants guarding him, the Lord slept for a century.
As the century unfolded, the vampires became more sophisticated. A new Lord, a former clan leader, had replaced the original Lord. Under his leadership, vampires ruthlessly exploited and attacked the weaker human race. Human hunting became a sport supported by the monarchy. The more "kills" a vampire obtained, the greater his or her social standing became. And due to human reproductive success and adaptive capabilities, there was never a shortage of prey.
Social standing became the great emphasis. Every vampire on the continent yearned to be a part of the royal families. Wise parents offered the services and skills of their children in exchange for being adopted into subsections of the royal families. Members of the royal families, nobles, had blood-red eyes a trait that their original Lord was most known for. The red hue was the envy of every social hag, whose sole purpose in life was securing such traits for their own families. The prestige and authority that came with the traits was unrivaled. A vampire with red eyes was automatically deemed a noble and had authority above those that did not.
For this reason, it was common to see crowds of lower-class vampires surrounding nobles, when they visited the villages, all to catch a glimpse of the ever-famed red eyes. Society was dominated by rank and prestige. Those without class worked their way up, either through honest means or corrupt exploitations. The allure of prestige and aristocracy drove some vampires mad. These power-hungry individuals committed crimes, assassinating nobles to take their places.
Corruption soon spread throughout the monarchy, but the new Lord was pre-occupied with matters that he believed were of more importance. The new Lord searched for years, using every method possible, hiring the wisest and darkest sorcerers to obtain the original Lord's silver hair, but try as he might, the effort was in vain. Only the original Lord, the Ancient, and members of his personal clan could possess silver hair, the absolute, uncontested symbol of authority.
The inexperienced, new Lord believed that if he possessed this trait his kingdom would naturally become his. He still lived in the shadow of the former Lord, whose incomparable power was still a legend that vampires spoke of from generation to generation. The current Lord despised ruling in the shadow of the great Lord Noctis L. Caelum, the Ancient. Because of this, he shirked his duties, causing the Kingdom of Pulse to wither away into corruption.
As the Kingdom of Pulse became a shadowy corpse of the greatness it had once been, as society turned its attention to status and rank, as the new clan leaders did everything in the powers to shift their attentions from the previous Lord to their current Lord, the original Lord hibernated in a crystal-stasis, waiting ever-patiently until the time his resurrection would happen.
The century came to an end.
The Lord's three servants waited once more, as they had done for a hundred years, for their Lord to recover. The Lord freed himself from his crystalline resting quarters and greeted his servants warmly. His appearance was still that of a human's, but his powers, still sealed, were controllable.
The Lord's long-awaited reunion was cut short once he learned of the dire state that his delicate kingdom had fallen into.
Something had to be done.
• • •
"Master?" The blond-haired servant kneeled respectfully in front of his Lord.
The Ancient, Noctis L. Caelum gathered his thoughts, "Where is the location of Ragnarok?" He responded, inquiring the whereabouts of his ancient weapon.
"The current Lord was unable to destroy it. Instead, he chose to give it to one of his leaders as keepsake. The clan leader, Red K. Luxil, who has an establishment in the village, Cocoon possesses it," Prompto replied. "Master, are you planning on retrieving your sword?"
The silent Lord nodded, "In my current state, I will not be able to take on all of the clan leaders, if their allegiances truly lie with the traitor. I require Ragnarok. As of now, its retrieval is our highest priority."
"Yes Master," Prompto bowed. "Shall I tell Ignis and Gladiolus about your plans?"
The Lord nodded once more.
"As you wish."
• • •
The small village of Cocoon was mostly known for its rural agriculture. To be fair, it was a village for the lower-class vampires, those that didn't have the fighting capabilities that the higher classes did. Consequently, the vampires that live in Cocoon were looked down upon. The higher classes and nobles viewed them as the tools that every kingdom had, tools that were only useful as long as they carried their own weights.
The current clan leader that presided over the region of Cocoon, Red K. Luxil, made his way into the public square, after receiving quite a shocking premonition. As the villagers started to make their own ways into the square, the pale-faced leader began his speech.
"Citizens," he paused, waiting for the crowd to hush. "Last night, I received a message from the Gods. It seems that an unknown enemy has made plans to sack my estate tomorrow night. Had the Gods not revealed the power of the enemy, the number of my current guards would have sufficed, but this is not the case. The enemy is not someone who can be dealt with so easily."
"Alas I require the assistance of you all, who I have governed oh so mercifully," The black-haired clan leader raised his arms to the skies. "Lend me the strongest vampires from each of your families and I will reward those that take part with wealth and power, live or die, as long as I remain untouched throughout the night."
The promise of riches brought the crowds to their feet. Each family head pounced and pushed their way to the front of the line. Everyone was more than eager to help. How could they not be when life in the current era was determined by status? The mere thought of becoming members of high society drove the peasants. No more would they have to toil. They could be dukes, duchesses, counts and countesses! They could attend the famed social balls that they had only heard stories of!
Throughout the rest of the evening, the heads of the lower class families lined up, waiting for their turns to enlist their strongest children. The clan leader, Red smiled giddily, showing his terrifying fangs. He had already recruited more than he had estimated he would, yet the lines were still long. With the number of soldiers he would enlist by the end of the night, he would be invincible. Not even the current Lord would be able to stop him, lest a robber.
When the recruitment process had come to an end, the sun had set. The confident clan leader summoned his caravan of horses to transport his new army to his estate. He watched with a uncompassionate heart as many of the families put on pathetic shows of tearful farewells.
He smiled maliciously.
If only they knew.
• • •
"Yes mother?" The pink-haired vampiress answered, inclining her head with respect to her family head.
"You are without a doubt the strongest member of the Farron family," the Farron family head replied, caressing her eldest daughter's warm cheeks. "You know what must be done, correct?"
"Of course mother," Lightning nodded. "I will do as Lord Luxil requests and become a member of his guard."
"That you will, my daughter," her mother stated. "Remember, live or die, your sacrifice will bring balance to the Farron family. Everything you do as of now will bring prosperity to our family. Your sister will have the opportunity to attend high-class faculties, where she will receive a noble's education. And I, as the family head, will be able to improve the Farron family's standing with the royal court."
"I will do everything that is in my powe—"
"NO!" her mother snapped angrily. "You will do anything Lord Luxil asks of you. If he asks you to sacrifice yourself for him, then you will do exactly that. The Farron family's future depends on the Lord Luxil's survival, not yours, understood?"
Lightning grit her teeth silently.
"Do I make myself clear?" Her mother hissed, "You will not return empty-handed. If you do, you will be disowned in an instant."
"I understand mother."
"Good," the Farron family head smiled, "Now go. It is rude to keep the Lord waiting any longer."
Lightning turned and started walking towards the large caravan. Her heart was heavy. She didn't know why, but she felt insignificant. Her mother never once thought about the possibility that her eldest daughter would never return. All she cared about was the success of the Farron family. And to her credit, her mother was doing exactly what a family head was supposed to do. Minimize losses and maximize gains. Even if she was sacrificing her eldest daughter, her mother had a valid reason to do so.
Without another second's thought, she climbed aboard the caravan. Inside the hooded horse cart, she took a seat next to the other volunteers and watched them silently. There were vampires of all different ages, even young teenagers. That was how desperate some of the families were.
Continuing her examination, she spotted a well-known figure in the far corridor.
Caine X. Royal.
Cocoon's strongest fighter was aboard the caravan. It wasn't a surprise considering he was the most qualified for the position. He was with his normal posse, a group of arrogant, obnoxious village boys, who followed Caine like obedient lapdogs. They knew that they were untouchable, above the law, as long as Caine was with them. She had to admit, she had seen Caine in combat, and he was the strongest vampire she had ever seen to grace the battle field. But that was just her. She was only a child, a newborn. From what her mother had told her, there were vampires far stronger than Caine.
She would have respected Caine's skills were he not as rash or foolish as his followers. The sight of them of chattering away incessantly was unnerving. They should have been worried about the upcoming battle, as the others were, not lazing around.
She continued to endure the weary caravan ride. As she did, she thought anxiously about the enemy she was going to face. Red K. Luxil was no ordinary noble. He was one of ten the clan leaders. He had guards who were probably the best of the best, yet he still required the aid of the villagers. The enemy was definitely not someone to be taken lightly if the clan leader believed it was necessary to be extra-cautious. If the enemy was really someone who the clan leader feared, then neither she nor any of the other villagers would be of any help.
There was no pretty way out of this.
When they arrived at the Lord's estate, she gasped at the sheer enormity of the place. It was beyond huge. To think that a single person occupied such a place, clan leaders were truly powerful beings. She didn't get another chance to admire the building's beauty. One of the biggest, brawniest vampires she had ever seen divided the villagers into groups.
"That's the Lord's right-hand man," she heard one of the villagers whisper.
In their respective groups, they were herded in the palace courtyard where a stage of some sorts was set up. Lord Luxil immediately made an appearance. Flashing his brilliant, red eyes, he welcomed the villagers to his palace and praised their bravery. It was all flattery, but it seemed that the majority of the villagers bought his "sincere" words
"Now shall we have a contest of strength?" The Lord inquired, motioning for his right-hand man, the giant to step forward, "In order to assess your strengths, I will give you all a golden opportunity. The rules to the contest are quite simple. Everyone can take part, and the task is to land a blow, a single touch, on the Captain of my troops. Do this and I shall give you… the gift of the scarlet eyes."
Lightning couldn't believe what she was hearing. The scarlet eyes?! She wasn't the only one surprised. The whole room exploded in anticipation. To think that they would be able to receive the eyes of the nobility so easily!
A villager stepped forward immediately. It was Caine, and it was quite obvious, he was itching for a fight. The look on his smug face told her that he thought the task would be easily. The fool.
"A challenger?" Lord Luxil smirked at the child's overbearing confidence. "So be it."
The match began without any introductions and from the beginning it was quite clear who was better. The Lord's right-hand man put Caine in his place without using an arm. Everyone was shocked, her included, at the helplessness that Caine exhibited. Their village's strongest champion was tossed around the courtyard like a helpless ragdoll.
"Is there anyone else?"
No one moved.
"Very well. Let's move along to the room assignments."
As she was guided into the hallway, Lightning continued to stare at Caine's unmoving, battered body. To think that Caine of all people would be reduced to such a state… Lord Luxil didn't need the villagers' assistance. If anything, she and the rest of villagers would most likely be used as shields.
She was pulled into one of the rooms and assigned to watch over it along fifty other villagers. At the center of the enormous room was a dark-sword that radiated an ominous aura. By the way its jagged curves were intricately placed, she knew that it was an executioner's weapon. What malice and hatred. Who could be the owner of such a sword?
Not too long, a member of Lord Luxil's army came in with a barrel of weaponry: swords, daggers, bow and arrows, and distributed them to villagers inside. She chose a sabre and tested it out. It was both heavy and blunt. Useless. It seemed Lord Luxil truly didn't care about their well-being.
The sun had set once more. Day had turned into evening. She had stood in the same room for hours. Her legs protested at the abuse, but she paid them no attention. The fifty other villagers or so squatted on their knees to ease their aches. So far, nothing out of the ordinary had happened. If the night continued this way, then perhaps there would be no trouble. She closed her eyes and emptied her thoughts, but she was irritated by energy that pulsed out of that damned sword. The sword made her restless and uneasy. It was almost as if the object had its own conscience.
One of the villagers, a boy from Caine's posse, shook his limbs and stretched, obviously tired of waiting for something to happen. The fool walked up to the black sword and reached out to grab it, when Lord Luxil had specifically warned them against doing so. The minute his finger touched the sword's hilt, he dropped to the floor, on his knees, screaming in pain. His arm blew up in a horrifying explosion of black flames, but that wasn't all. The flames spread up, starting at his shoulder and slowly engulfing his body until he was nothing but ashes.
Everyone panicked and ran towards the walls, not wanting to be close to the cursed sword. Lightning clutched her stomach, wanting to throw up. This was the first time she had ever witnessed someone being so brutally killed. Who in the world could own such power to wield that sword? She thought once again.
It took some time for her gather her wits after witnessing that shocking death, but she did managed to calm herself. She stretched her arms and patted her face to keep herself alert. Just because nothing had happened so far, she couldn't be at ease. The robbers could strike at any moment now.
And they did.
The lights were suddenly cut off. She heard the villagers gasp and held her sabre up. Her eyes had not adjusted to the darkness yet, so she was terrified of her invisible opponent. The sound of metal tearing through flesh followed by pained screams erupted from her right. She turned, heart pounding, and hoped she could guard. The sound came again, this time from her left. Next, her front, then her back. She was surrounded by the sound of death, with nowhere to hide. Why?
Then lights turned on, and she wished they hadn't.
Everywhere she looked, from wall to wall, the once pristine, white room was covered with fresh blood. The ceilings dripped periodically and the floor was littered with dead bodies. As she tried to move, she realized that the floor was slippery. She was standing in a puddle of blood. No, the floor had become a pool of blood. It was sickening. She covered her mouth and tried not to hurl.
"Why hello there pretty," a voice teased.
She turned and found herself face to face with a blond-haired vampire, who had a long-sword clutched in one hand, resting over his shoulder. There was blood on his cheeks, but he licked it off dementedly.
"D-Did y-you?" She tried to say, but couldn't control her voice or her body.
"Did I kill them?" he replied with a snicker. "Oh I don't know? What do you think?"
"Stop laughing at me, you bastard!" She hissed in her anger, although she shouldn't have. She was at this man's mercy. He could easily kill her when he wanted to.
"Woah there! Retrace your claws, kitten," The blond laughed and threw up his hands in gesture of surrender, "Let's play for a while, shall we? You're a pretty little thing, it'd be a shame to kill you off so quickly."
He stepped forward. She stepped backward and tripped over a corpse. Her whole body became covered in blood. She tried to push herself back onto her feet, but slipped again.
"Hey," The blond called out, "I just let you live, and that's so unlike me, so entertain me, maybe?"
"Bastard," she cursed under her breath. She ran for the door, hoping to escape, but he materialized in front of her and shoved her to the floor.
"No, no kitten. Don't try to run away," he smirked again.
She wanted to wipe that condescending grin off his face. If only I could… A flash metal appeared before her eyes. She subconsciously dodged to left. If she hadn't, she would have been a corpse. An enormous, jagged dent was left where she once lay.
"Play time's over, pretty," The blond swung his sword around, nicking her on the shoulder.
Lightning fell to the floor once again, but this time, her left shoulder exploded with pain. She clutched her shoulder and crawled for her life. Blood spurted out of her wound, slipping through her fingers. She was dizzy. Was this it? Was this really all she amounted to? How unfair.
She continued crawling across the bloodied floor. Her mind couldn't focus on anything else but the pain in her shoulder. It hurt so much. Instinctively, she moved toward the dark-sword at center of the room. So close. She was almost there. If only she had a little more time, but she didn't. She suddenly felt the tip of a blade tear through her shoulder, impaling her. She screamed out in pain.
It was too much.
"Oops," The blond licked his lips, "I didn't think I'd miss."
She closed her eyes and tried to breath, tried to block out the pain. Using all of her might, she reached out for the sword. It reacted to her.
You think you can wield me? It spoke to her mind.
Lend me your strength. She pleaded.
You are not my master. You are not the Ancient, you are not the one who forged me. You have no authority or right to command me as you see fit.
Pleading will get you nowhere. I know who my Master is. He is here, searching for me.
I don't care if you have a Master! I will wield you!
Then you will die.
She froze. Images of the brutal death the boy had experienced earlier came rushing into her mind. The way those black flames ate away at his flesh. The gruesome images were still fresh in her head.
You cannot wield me... You are not my Ma—
I AM YOUR MASTER! She mentally screamed and grabbed the black hilt her with her free hand. Power surged through her as she clutched the sword.
The blond, who had watched the exchange unfold, dropped his sword in shock. His eyes bulged out of their sockets, "N-No way… Oi… Oi… T-That's M-Master's sword, no one can touch it but him. What the hell?"
Clutching the sword tightly, Lightning focused on wielding it. She grabbed it firmly and swung at the blond-haired vampire with all her might. Black flames shot out from the sword and snaked their way towards her target, missing, but knocking him flat onto his back.
He saw her catching her breath and realized she was losing consciousness. The battle was over. She had spent too much energy on the first swing. He closed the gap in an instant and swung his sword for the kill. In his haste, he didn't realize that was exactly what she wanted. He saw her open her eyes intently.
Shit! He stopped his attack and guarded his body instead, as she countered.
The force of the blow should have killed him, but he released his suppressed powers before the blow landed. Instead being torn to bits, he went crashing through the hallways and ended up under a pile of rubble.
Dusting off his silver hair and flashing his deadly red eyes, the once blond looked through the holes he had created and groaned. The woman had fled!
"Prompto," a voice interrupted.
Prompto looked up to see his dark-haired Master towering above him.
"M-Master?" He stuttered, rubbing the back of his head in a show of guilt.
• • • • • •
"Begin the operation."
"Yes Master," his three servants replied, going off their separate ways.
Noctis observed the front entrance of Luxil's fortress. Every entrance, window and alleyway was filled with guards. The coward must have enlisted the help of the villagers. Pitiful. No matter, innocent or not, anyone who stood in his way would be terminated.
As he stood at the entrance, with the attention of almost all the guards, he felt Ragnarok pulsing and heard it calling for him. The intel Prompto had relayed was correct. His sword was in this place. The thought of his precious weapon being sullied came to mind, and he became angry.
A group of poorly armed soldiers rushed out to take him on.
Die. He commanded, controlling their minds. Their necks snapped up in an awkward angle and their bodies flopped to the floor like lifeless dolls. In a second, he had eliminated an entire platoon of soldiers. Whether they were trained or untrained, the feat itself was impressive. To think that he had only a fraction of his normal power…
The soldiers' companions saw their comrades perish and turned in a full retreat. Noctis walked into the palace just like that.
Master, Ignis called him telepathically. Luxil resides on the second floor, grand bedroom. He is with his group of elite guards.
Make sure he does not leave, he replied. I will be there shortly.
Another group of soldiers, those that had not witnessed his display of power, charged at him. They were also easily disposed of. He walked up the grand staircase unhindered by the bodies that lay around him. Instead, he focused on the fortresses' interior design. The traitor Luxil had spent a fortune on ancient artifacts that were displayed all over the building. No doubt, Luxil had also spent a fortune to obtain his sword.
He forced his way into the grand bedroom and spotted Luxil cowering behind his men. The sight was truly pathetic. Luxil's men charged at him, with their weapons drawn, but he paid them no heed. He continued walking towards the traitor. As Luxil's men came inches within striking killing blows, they dropped to the floor, completely overwhelmed by his aura.
"Luxil," he called out. "What foolishness is this?"
"M-Master? H-How have you recovered?" Luxil quivered, holding onto the bedframe for support and frightened for his life. "H-How is this possible?"
Noctis walked towards the man, with his claws armed, "Is that really what you should be asking? Should you not be begging for your life?"
Terrified out his mind, the clan leader crawled his Master's feet and kissed his shoes. Trembling, Luxil bowed his head and completely surrendered himself to his lord, "I d-did not want to do it Master, I swear! That traitor, Nathaniel coerced me into doing it! I am being completely honest Master. He threated to harm the others!"
"So you chose to act base on your sense of justice, am I correct?"
"Yes Master, please forgive me! I swear on the lives of my ancestors that I did not mean any harm to you."
"Is that so?" Noctis turned to leave.
"M-Master y-you're leaving? Am I being spared?" Luxil couldn't believe his luck. Praise the heavens. "Thank you Master. Bles—URGH!"
The clan leader keeled over as his Master punctured his heart with his claws.
"Do not try to deceive me, you worm," Noctis hissed into the Luxil's ear. He pulled his hand out of the traitors flesh, watching him wriggle in pain and choking on his own blood. He had injected his venom into Luxil's heart. In a matter of minutes, the fool would be reduced to ashes after suffering from excruciating pain.
With this matter settled, he called for his servant.
Shit! Was the unexpected response.
Noctis remained unaffected as one of the walls in the grand bedroom exploded, sending Prompto flying into the ground.
"M-Master?" was Prompto's poor response.
"Explain yourself," he ordered, mildly surprised that the enemy had forced Prompto release the seal on his vampiric powers.
"Ugh… That girl, she wielded Ragnarok and used it against me."
Wielded Ragnarok? What nonsense…
"Impossible," he cursed, but he knew it was true. He had felt the sword's power being used. "Report this to the others, I will pursue the girl."
With that, he vanished, instantly becoming one with the shadows. As he used this power, he felt and saw everything that the shadows did. He spotted the girl, by a raging riverbed close to Luxil's fortress. She was limping and clutching her bloody shoulder with one hand and weakly grasping onto Ragnarok with the other.
He appeared in front of her and surprised her.
Lightning trembled and shook at the sudden appearance of the dark-haired man. In her shock, her legs gave out and she fell to the floor. The man before her was not like the others. No, he was far above anyone she had ever met. His aura radiated raw energy. It made her feel unworthy and tainted to be in the presence of one so elegant and glorious.
"The sword," she heard him say. Even his voice was as elegant and smooth as his being. She couldn't help but be swayed by the melodious, seductive tone to it. It took all of her power to refrain from kneeling over and begging for a compliment.
She almost handed over the sword, but she managed to break free from her trance. Knowing that she wouldn't be able to escape and unwilling to give her enemy the satisfaction, she tossed the dark-blade into the riverbed, where it quickly rushed downstream.
Noctis watched as his precious weapon was discarded like a child's toys. The action was futile. Now that he had seen Ragnarok, he could summon it back to him any time, but the girl's disrespect angered him. She had to die.
Grabbing her frail figure by the throat, he held her into the air and watched as her spirit and breath left her body. She struggled as best she could, but she was helpless. Her legs kicked, her hands flailed, but in the end, her energy faded and her limbs dangled loosely. Were she not a worthless commoner, perhaps he would be romantically attracted to her vivacious spirit, but that was not the case. She was merely filth.
Not wanting to give the girl the luxury of a swift death, he sank his fangs into her open wound and injected his venom into her body. However, things did not go as he planned. As he sampled her blood, he became shocked. Never before had he tasted something so delicious or addicting. It was the sweetest liquid he had ever tasted, more fine than the clan leader, Guinevere's, who was known to have the best blood there was.
Unable to control his desires, he sucked her dry, watching her bright skin turn deathly pale. Holding up her near-lifeless body, he knew that there was no way for her recover. She was not a noble, so she didn't have the regenerative capabilities that nobles did. Had she been a noble, she would have recovered the next day. It was a shame, really. She was quite attractive for a commoner, too.
He held the girl's limp body over the raging river and stared into her dull eyes. What despicable eyes.
"Swim," he ordered, dropping her body into the water.
If you can.
• • •
In the days following Luxil's death, the Kingdom of Pulse was invaded by the original Lord, who had surprisingly not only regained his sealed powers but had also become ten times stronger. Unable to comprehend why the seal had worn off, the Lord saw this as a good omen and struck. The current Lord was terribly outmatched. In a duel displayed for the whole of Pulse to see, the original Lord tore the traitor to pieces, limb by limb.
Once he had regained his authority, the Lord executed the ten traitorous clan leaders as well. He then assigned leadership positions to those he trusted and gave them the coveted gift: the silver hair of royalty. The new clan leaders accepted these gifts with eagerness and swore a binding oath of loyalty to their Lord. Never again would history repeat itself.
As time passed and as the Lord finally weeded the corruption out of his court, he shifted his attention to wants of his people. The people made it known that they desired entertainment. The old court had ruled it legal to hunt down humans, as long as the humans were the ones who had strayed unto Pulse. The humans were getting far too wise and less of them appeared in Pulse, causing the vampires to lose one of their greatest sources of entertainment.
Realizing this, and wanting to genuinely earn the approval of his people, even though he did not need it, he ruled that every four months or once a quarter, the court would traverse into human lands and select able humans to take part in an event, which they called the Games. In the Games, the humans would be pitted against vampire contestants, in a coliseum, where crowds of vampires would watch from the stands. The public heard of the Lord's plans and praised his genius.
All was well within Pulse until one day the Lord dropped weakly to his knees during a meeting with his three servants, who had now become clan leaders. The servants watched in shock as the seal on their Lord's power returned, changing him once again into a mortal. No one had the answer as to why such a thing had happened, except for one person.
The Lord sent his servants to fetch the old shaman that had helped them a century ago. The servants escorted the shaman as was requested. The wise, old vampire examined the Lord and immediately knew what had transpired. He told the Lord that he had been mated. The words shocked everyone who was present at the court, his servants especially. The Lord shook his head and denied the accusation, but the shaman persisted and continued asking questions. The Lord then thought of a time, a year ago, when he had injected his venom into the commoner girl, the one who had managed to wield his sword.
The shaman decisively concluded that the Lord had mated the girl right then when he had injected his blood into her body. The shaman then asked the Lord if he could feel her presence. By nature, mates could sense one another telepathically. The Lord shook his head, and then stated that the chances of the girl surviving, in her condition at the time, were next to none. So he asked the shaman what happened when a vampire's mate perished.
Gathering his intellect, the shaman explained that the reason the Lord's power had returned for a short duration was due to his acquisition of a mate, but the reason the Lord's power had been sealed was either due to the fact that the Lord's mate had perished or the fact that Lord had gone too long without the blood of his mate.
Realizing the severity of his foolish mistake and banking on the circumstance that his mate had perished, the Lord summoned his clan leaders and ordered them gather a group of suitable Brides.
Word soon spread throughout Pulse that the Lord was searching for a mate. Vampiress of all stations heard this and leapt at the chance of becoming the mother-in-law to the Vampire Ancient. Greedily pursuing the prestige and attention they would receive from being in such a glorified position, these vampiress trained their daughters, day and night, to become a Bride suitable for their Lord.
The trial soon began not too longer afterwards. Mothers attended the court with their daughters in tow and showcased their abilities. If interested, the Lord would set aside time later for further introductions. These trials continued for several months and the Lord had attempted to mate six times, but the Brides he chose were unable to accept his blood. Instead, they perished into ashes.
As the days passed, the Lord grew impatient. More importantly, his thirst for that blood continued. To quench this desire, he pre-occupied his time making forceful, hard love to the vampiress his body desired. But even love-making was not enough. Whereas he satisfied his sexual craving, he could not satisfy his thirst. His mind continued to yearn for that delicious taste. It begged him for it, but he could not comply.
That girl was dead.
And he could do nothing about it, but regret.
• • •
On the outskirts of a human village, a boy had managed to escape the watchful eyes of his parents. The gray-haired child heard the rush of the river and ran towards the refreshing sound. At the riverbed, he grabbed a handful of pebbles and skipped them across the surface. Enjoying the thrill of the moment, he continued to skip rocks until he spotted something unusual washed up on the riverbed.
Curious, the boy walked over to the object and realized that the "something unusual" was the body of a teenaged girl. He gasped and squatted to get a better look at the girl. What beautiful silver hair, he thought instinctively. He had never seen a girl with silver hair before.
Wondering why she was sleeping by the riverbed, he sat next to girl and waited for her wake up. Having sat next to the girl for some time now, he noticed her stirring awake. He saw her open her eyes and gasped. What red eyes!
"Hi," he chirped.
The girl didn't respond. It seemed she didn't know how to. The girl sat up, yawned and wondered who the tiny child before her was.
"What's your name?"
Name? What was a name? The girl thought, completely confused.
"Do you know your name?" The boy repeated. "Nod if you do or shake your head if you don't."
The girl copied the boy and did both gestures.
"Hey! Don't copy me!" the child laughed.
"D-Don't copy… me…" the girl repeated hesitantly, unable to pronounce her words correctly.
The pair continued to "converse" and interact throughout the evening. The girl listened to everything the boy spouted and tried to make sense of what he was saying. But try as she might, she could have been a genius and she still wouldn't have been able to decode the rapid flurry of childish gibberish that came from the boy's mouth.
"Hope! Hope!" A pair of voices called out in the distance.
"Yikes," the boy, Hope bolted to his feet, "Oh no, I forgot about my parents, they must be worried sick about me! I should head home… Do you have a place to stay?"
The girl turned titled her head, still confused.
"Come on, you can stay at my house!" He grabbed the girl by the hand and led her to his log house.
Holding the girl's wrist, Hope knocked on the door to his house, "Dad I'm home!" He stated.
When Bartholomew Estheim opened the plain wooden door to their normal log-cabin, he never thought he would get the shock of his life. When he opened the door and found his boy, clinging to the arm of a tall, silver-haired, red-eyed, teenaged girl, he nearly fainted.
"Hope!" He shouted, taking his boy away from the confused teenaged girl, "Who are you!" He demanded.
"Dad, don't yell at her! She doesn't know who she is!"
"What?" Bartholomew lowered his tone, "Explain."
Hope explained everything to his father, starting from the encounter by the riverbed to their current situation.
"Can she stay, dad?"
Bartholomew Estheim thought intently, staring at the innocent face of the amnesiac girl. If she had no place to stay, if she had really lost her memory and forgotten her identity, then their house would be the best place for her to stay. Bartholomew thought hard. A decision like this could impact a life-time.
"She can stay," he finally gave in. Nora would no doubt honor his decision, "Only until we figure things out."
• • •
A couple of years passed, and Bartholomew Estheim had yet to "figure things out." Instead, he had accepted the girl, who was now known as Éclair Estheim, as his one and only daughter. He took pride in her beauty and mannerisms, and raised her as if she was his own daughter. Neither Hope, Éclair, nor his wife, Nora objected to his decision. In fact, Éclair's addition to their family was perfect, albeit his daughter was unique in many ways like that she had silver-hair, red-eyes, impossibly long canines, and never seemed to age. He initially had his suspicions, but decided that they weren't worth the stress.
Hope had been especially ecstatic. Being an only child, he had always wanted an older sister. Éclair fit right in, playing that role perfectly. She quickly became the boy's guardian, and the two were inseparable. For that, Bartholomew was thankful.
His wife, Nora had also welcomed their new daughter, from day one, with warm arms. Nora had taught Éclair all there was to being a proper wife. She taught her new daughter how to cook, to sew and to be patient with men and their many flaws.
Éclair soon regained her ability to talk. She conversed like a normal human being, able to comprehend everything. When Hope was at school in the village, Éclair worked with her mother and father, and assisted them at their steel mill, where they made swords for the local soldiers. Éclair's unique looks earned her the attention of every local village male. Coincidentally, the number of customers at the steel mill rose, but Bartholomew was not amused. He threatened to chase away any fool who tried to make a move on his only daughter.
Despite being admired by the villagers, Éclair lived an ordinary, human life, eating ordinary human food.
Never once did she realize that she was being sought out by the most powerful man to grace the planet. Never once did she realize that she was the Bride of the Vampire Ancient, Noctis L. Caelum, the Queen of the Cold Ones…
• • •
A/N: Hey guys, I said I was going to completely re-write Caitiff, and here it is! I hope you guys liked it, I put a lot of thought into it! I had to, especially since I haven't updated this in ages. I hope you guys enjoy this and I'll write more if you guys give me the green light. Thanks!