This chapter starts shedding some light on the vampires of the First Generation.
| Charis was the last one to stand up from her seat at the High Council table. As usual, she took her time, her expression clearly touched by a frown. Looking up and her eyes landed on Aram’s face as he listened to Solon talking about which Senators and Congressmen they had to worry about for passing the blood donation law. It was a great step towards the goal the Council wanted to achieve. What most of its members anyway. Not Charis, although the law had merits that she simply could not ignore.|
The current agreement was that, in the US, one percent of all donated blood went to the “cold blood centers” as they were called, from where vampires were able to buy it. A lot more than that went there in reality, but it was still not enough. It was a law that protected vampires and humans alike, but now they wanted more. The Council was pushing for something unprecedented: all healthy humans would be required to donate blood at least once every three months. Such a news, should the law be made reality, was not going to get digested easily, not even after almost seven decades of peaceful co-existence and accommodation time.
Word of this had yet to make it out to the press, but it would have to do so sooner or later. And it was not going to be spared passionate controversy. She recalled the fervent protests after the law legalizing “blood prostitution” passed. It was still called that, even though most establishments didn’t deal in prostitution at all. It was simply about humans selling their blood, straight from their veins, to paying customers. No sexual favors involved at all - unless it was also the kind of establishment that allowed that. And there were. Of course for a vampire drinking blood from a living human being, was dangerously close to being a sexual experience anyway.
The law was going to pass. Charis knew that already, for how could it turn out differently? The corruption was at an all time high - it was no longer just the promise of wealth, but a new stake was also shamelessly thrown into the game: immortality. The Government was mostly under control, the press was subdued, the authorities compliant, while the humans were, for the most part, oblivious.
Aram switched to another topic. Although they had finished the meeting, the discussion wasn’t over yet. An all too familiar word spoken in an ancient accent caught her attention. Aram spoke Anshar’s name, the way only those as burdened by millennia did. They had switched to what it always came down to: their sire, their father. Livia, who had been sitting on the table, seductively leaning back while speaking to Valerius, shifted her position to lean slightly forward. The gesture was completely unnecessary for her vampiric hearing allowed her to listen in perfectly, despite the hushed tones they were using.
All eyes were next on Solon as he talked about a new lead. His tone as well as expression gave little hope of anything turning out of it, but it was still something. Like vultures they pursued any and all rumors and possibilities. The way a madman who had been roaming the desert for days, without a drop of water, was how each of them felt every day without him. Even Charis - sweet, tormented Charis. A kind soul from the very beginning, raised by her maternal grandmother, Charis had spent her human years learning about plants and how to use them to cure or ease illness. She had met Anshar through Livia’s desire for revenge - and how can anything good come out of that?
Livia was Charis’ biological aunt and had been, supposedly, wronged by Charis’ mother - that, in turn, meant that Charis had to die. It was Anshar who changed the rules of the game and, instead, decided he wanted to break the sweet child and turn her into one of his creations. But he wanted her to want it - and it never happened as was planned. A sixteen year old Charis was kidnapped from her home and kept locked up for three years in the house Anshar lived in at the time. Something for Livia to torment and a toy for Anshar’s amusement. Valerius was the only one to show her a sweeter side, even though he refused to help her escape. Their sire had enjoyed toying with her by being kind and loving sometimes, while allowing his monstrous side to surface when she least expected it to.
After three long years, Anshar became frustrated. Instead of carrying on with his plan to break her, he simply decided to turn her, out of the blue, and then he released her. A new vampire is not a creature one can just release into the world, for there is no coherent or rational thought louder than the bloodlust one feels in those moments. Charis killed. She killed her grandmother, she killed children, women, innocents and she didn’t stop on her own. She didn’t care. It wasn’t even pleasure she remembered feeling, it simply had been out of her control. He let her loose everyday to do the same until her sanity, bit by bit, started coming back to her. But it only came after the killing sprees and it slammed into her with all the weight of the guilt she felt for what she had done. She cried, she screamed, she raged until the hunger took over again and Charis fed with passionate surrender.
It lasted for a year before Anshar took pity and started training her to control it. Her maker used her weakness, the bloodlust and her guilt expertly. Yet they shared passion as well. She longed for him and he longed for her. It was still rape - just a different kind.
Livia left on her own after Charis was turned. It had always been difficult for her to share Anshar, but this time it was another of his creations she had to share him with, not some transitory mortal. She was going to return, there was no doubt about that.
After the first twenty years or so, Charis started becoming more and more like her old self with each day that passed. It annoyed Anshar that she was, for all intents and purposes, still unbroken.With Solon it created a rift, for their views on humans differed greatly. However her relationship with Valerius remained unchanged as he accepted and loved her as a sister no matter how she metamorphosed. Despite his wild and apparently immature character, Valerius was the one to care most about family, their dysfunctional, murderous family.
It was shortly after that when Anshar left on his own and, to this day, they have yet to be reunited. Rumors reached them that he had fallen under the curse of a witch, lying in a coma-like state, hidden who knows where. They made progress in finding out why and how and they also learned what to do to reawaken him. They still haven’t found his body or a serious lead to reveal where its location might be.
Charis was clenching her fists without realizing, her mouth partially open while she listened to Solon talk about a single private flight from a small town, south of Rome, to the US. It was a long shot, but for information about any flight to be absolutely out of reach for Solon and Valerius’ contacts made it something worthy enough of a thorough investigation. It was too little, yet enough to ignite hope in all of their hearts. Charis’ as well. The monster who had kidnapped, tortured, raped, turned her into a vampire and released her on her own family and on other innocents was not a person she should be harboring any good feelings for. Yet she did. She loved him just like all his other children did. She longed for him and it was more primal than hunger was.
“Fine, make it your priority. Leave no stone unturned, brother.” Aram spoke with a nod towards Solon, then his eyes found Livia. His expression wasn’t something any normal human would be able to read. It changed ever so slightly, but Charis knew what to look for and she caught it. Aram had always been in love with Livia. He was the reason Anshar hadn’t left her to die buried in the underground chamber like she had been punished to endure. Ever since Anshar’s curse, Livia had directed her passion towards Aram. She loved him deeply as a lover, but everyone knew that Anshar would always come first for her. For each of them, in fact.
The look lasted for only a second. Livia’s expression bordered on apologetic for that same amount of time. Flirtatious, apparently shallow Livia was just as deep, complex and disturbed as the rest of them. How could they not be when more than two and a half thousand years of existence and experience weighed down their shoulders. Sometimes Charis felt the years in all their faces and actions as well as on her own, while on other occasions they all seemed to fall very short of their ages. No amount of time erased passion, immaturity, desire or the propensity to make mistakes.
Aram looked as impeccable as always, his shoulder-length blond hair neatly pulled back in a low ponytail and his blue-grey suit was tailored to perfection. The Head of the High Council as well as the Head on their family had the most responsibility. He was their leader and the First Generation wasn’t an easy bunch to lead, nor were their goals easy to achieve. Basically it involved finding their cursed sire, releasing him from his curse while, in the meantime, conquering the world with minimal losses on their part. Needless to say, a very long check list was involved.
Aram was the first out the door, followed by Solon, his expression just as serious and thoughtful as always. Valerius stepped away from Livia, turning to face both remaining females. “Dearest sisters, I’d love to stick around, but I’m needed elsewhere.” His words were preceded by his usual boyish, charming smirk. The “needed” part just hinted to the fact that he was out to have fun, whether with his witch conquest or someone else. Livia rolled her eyes and he winked in return. “See you later tonight, Aram’s place?” He added as a question, but it was mostly rhetorical since they were all going to be there without a doubt. Charis simply nodded, while Livia added her signature pout to her nod and she hopped off the table.
Only such an old vampire like her would be able to manage such an action while looking elegant and seductive doing it. It was almost like she floated with how fluid the movement was. As soon as Valerius was out the door, Livia turned toward Charis. Her expression didn’t change. The past in which Livia had sought revenge, the past in which she had been jealous over the attention Anshar bestowed upon the youngest of the First Generation had been long buried.
Livia closed the distance between them until they were one step away from their clothes touching. “I don’t suppose I can convince you to come and play with me, little sister. There’s this new buffet-club opening tonight and it looks promising.” Her eyes sparkled with pleasure at the prospect as she spoke. Livia had big, light-brown eyes that hinted at a green, but never quite reached it. Her finger sensually traced a line on Charis’ left arm, from elbow to shoulder as she batted her eyelashes. The older vampire never stopped seducing, it was her second nature and it indeed made her powerful. Charis leaned in with her genuine kind smile and placed a kiss on her lips. It was just a peck and she whispered against Livia’s full, soft and cold lips. “Amber Unity charity event. You know I can’t miss it, Livia.” A long sigh came from the rejected female. She turned on her heels and spoke without looking back: “I’m out of here then, before you try dragging me to such horridly dull events.”
Charis smiled even as her sister exited the High Council meeting room. It was horridly boring indeed, but the young vampire went to many such events. The press knew her best and she made the entire Council look good. It was a double-edged sword, for that meant the High Council gained more power, more influence and were able to better manipulate the public view on vampires. Still, Charis was loyal to the Council and Aram despite her different viewpoints. They were family, they all shared Anshar’s blood and a deep connection to him and that meant that they stuck together no matter what. Besides, she had better chances of protecting what little she was able to when it came to humans if she was working with the Council and not against it.
Looking down at her cellphone, it was hard to resist the urge to call Michael and see how he was doing. No, she had to give him freedom and trust that he was enough in control of his bloodlust that he wouldn’t get into trouble. There was business to take care of first. Her high heels clicked rhythmically as she too left the room. If only the humans knew what those walls heard during each meeting. Things were changing fast and they weren’t reacting quickly enough. They were, no matter what, going to be swallowed whole.