Princess In The Dark

Lucia is The Princess In The Dark, a highly ranked member of a large coven of vampires. Hiding in the gloom of the tunnels under London, her only pleasure is to hunt.
She lives this life every day, and does not feel even the slightest portion of remorse or guilt for all the lives she has taken. Lucia also happens to be the only daughter of their leader, The Count, putting her in a position with many enemies and lurking dangers, leaving more responsibility on her shoulders than she would have otherwise wished for.
She then meets 18-year-old James, and begins to notice that he is different, strange... And that he is changing her in the most peculiar way...

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4. Memories

Lucia lay in her marble coffin, her eyes wide open. The lid was on the floor, leaning against it. It was dawn. The coffin was lined with black silk, and it rubbed uncomfortably against her skin whenever she shifted. She was trying very hard to resist her instincts. The rest of the vampires would be asleep by now, she knew. But not her. She was trying very hard not to pull on the lid, and drift into unconsciousness. She was not one for being unconscious, it was unappealing to her. Why lie there with no sense of where you are or what you are? Why lie there, so vulnerable, easy prey for any enemy? No. She did not want to be that. She did not want to have any weak spots. She must be perfect. Previous nights she had managed to stay awake for a small portion of time, but no longer could she fight the pressing tiredness. She must fight it now. The sun was almost up, and although her chamber was underneath it all, although it was deep below the surface of the ground, she could still feel an uncomfortable heat on her skin. It kept on getting worse, it felt as if small fires were erupting everywhere on her. She must ignore it, she thought. It wasn't real. She was underground, the sun could not reach her. Could not burn her. She had been taught by her father, she remembered. She had been taught that the only sunlight that could possibly burn her was direct sunlight, this was simply her instincts trying to force her to pull on the lid and sleep. She would not obey, she was her own and no-one elses, no matter what her father said. She was grinding her teeth together, trying to resist the pain everywhere on her skin. She must think of something else. Distract herself. She looked at the walls of her room, trying to focus on a painting. Her favorite painting. Bruegel's 'Triumph of Death'. She remembered when her father had given it to her on her first day as a vampire... Her sixteenth birthday. Her thoughts drifted to her past... What was her earliest memory? She shuddered at the thought. She remembered it so clearly that it could have happened as soon as the day before. She remembered every second, every heartbeat, every breath. She had been just a month old... And yet she was sure that, if there was ever anything, just one memory to stay with her forever, this would be it. No doubt this would be the pain and guilt she carried to her very grave. She had been cradled in her mother's arms. Her fragile, human mother whom she wished more than anything she could have protected. Whom she wished more than anything she could have saved. Past was past, but the regret would last forever...

Her mother was singing to her, she was singing Lucia's lullaby. The one that had been written just for her... "The night beneath the moon, the world a starless sky, soon you shall be free, fearing not the darkest cry. Only courage in your heart, for you shall be the Princess, the Princess In The D -" Her beautiful, cooing voice, soft as roses, was cut off by the sound of cracking wood. Through the door burst a man. A man with dark hair and yellow eyes, the eyes red with tears. He moved slowly, one hand outstretched towards them. "Maria.. " He whispered softly. "Maria, I beg you.. " Her mother instantly arose, Lucia felt the uncomfortable jolt of it run through her body as she was shifted hurriedly to her mother's other arm. The arm furthest away from the man. Her mother was trying to protect her. "No, Isaac. I am his. I will always be his. There is nothing you can do. I know you... " Tears appeared in her mothers eyes. "I know you think you love me. You're wrong. Now go. Please." Her mothers voice was trembling, she sounded like she was ill at ease. She sounded frightened. "But I want you, Maria... No matter how much my brother thinks he's claimed you. He hasn't. You're mine" His voice was flowing over with anger. "So I don't get any choice here? You claim me? Is that what you think? Well, you're wrong again, then. I chose him. I chose the better man. I chose the father of my baby. I chose your brother!" Her mother too was angry now, although a little fear still shone through in her voice. Isaac's face changed from anger to pain for just one second. Then, slowly, his face turned back to anger as he bared his teeth and hissed: "I have to have you, Maria. You have to belong to me. If you take me as yours, I promise I won't hurt that thing you have in your arms. I'll just give it back to the devil that created it. But if not... If you choose to stay with him... Then you must feel pain. Then you must feel regret for your choice. Decide." Her mother slowly put her down, kissing her forehead. Then she turned around. "No. I would rather die myself than surrender my baby. I would rather die than surrender to you."  She spat it cruelly in his face. A piercing wail escaped Lucia's lips. Isaac stared at Lucia, and then made a desperate leap for her, fangs out. Although her mother was just human, she had the reflexes needed when having to protect her baby. She would do anything for her baby. Even die for it, it seemed, as she jumped forward and Isaac's fangs cut deeply into her neck. She fell to the ground, and so did Isaac. She was lying completely still, the blood still pouring from her throat. "Maria!" he whimpered, and shook her shoulders violently. No reaction. Her head hung limply from her shoulders. "No! Maria!" He was still shaking her. No response. Lucia wailed. Isaac instantly put his head to her throat, and drank. He was trying to put his poison in her, trying to save her. He tried, even though he knew it would have no effect. He tried, even though he knew that the only poison that could change a human wasn't his. It was the one of their ruler, The Count. The poison of his brother. Her body slumped down in his arms. But he couldn't stop drinking, now that he had the blood on his tongue. Now that he could taste the richness of the one he loved, the thick red streaming from her... He was unstoppable. He just kept on killing her. Lucia wailed again and again. She had known it was her fault. But it was too late now... It was too late to change the world.

Her mother was almost drained then. One word escaped from her lips. Just one. "Gabriel!" she screamed. It was as if she had gathered the very last of her life, the very last of her power, to scream out that one name... And then she was gone. Isaac's thirst was quenched, for there was no more to drink... There was no more life to take.

She pulled on the lid of her coffin, the heat was now unbearable. The fire on her skin instantly disappeared and was replaced by a feeling of tiredness... A heavy weight on her lids. She still fought it. She kept her eyes wide open, and she also kept thinking. Her father had told her the story many times. How he had found Maria, dead on the ground. How he had hunted down his brother, and taken his life for hers. How he had let rage control him. It had scared her, then. But she understood now. After he had changed her into a vampire, she understood. He had waited until she was sixteen, so she was fully capable of hunting. Of killing. This too, she understood. And even though she was the hunter now, not the hunted, she still wished she could turn back time... She still wished that just once, she could have been prey. She wished she could have died for Maria.

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