Vampire covens don’t last forever, I’ve been around for long enough to learn that the hard way. These days, I keep my family small. Centuries of failed attempts and betrayals do that. I have learned one thing, there is a time limit on this so-called love. Affection, dedication, loyalty… they’re all fabricated constructs, a mask those who don’t have an eternity on their hands use to give meaning to their own petty, inconsequential existence.
The only exception I’m willing to make on this account is Alba. Out of my current family, she has been with me the longest, and can be considered my greatest success overall as far as my children go.
She was not the first one I made. But our arrangement was unique from the start. A clear trade. She was nothing but a blind beggar when I found her.
I picked her up from the sorry nothingness that was her existence, if you can even call it that. I gave her a life, I gave her a home, and most importantly, I gave her sight.
From there on out, every night when she could see the moon and the starts in the sky, she would be reminded that she is forever in my debt.
I do have a soft spot for Alba. She is unlike the naive ones who preceded her, and the fickle ones who followed her. She appreciates what I gave her. And so I keep giving her more, even when it’s a terrible idea.
Like that bakery I have acquired for her… she had me convinced it would be a clever way to lure in prey, keep a steady supply of blood coming in under the promise of dessert. Sound idea in theory, but I should have known better. Alba has no self-control. She’s killed every pastry chef we’ve had; the place is starting to get a reputation.
Not to mention the hiring process is tiresome. I can’t exactly go about it myself, so I have to get someone else to do the whole interview business, only for Alba to suck the life out of them within days of them starting. So the shop sits empty, most of the time.
Or take Micah, another mistake I have made in her name. Ever since Alba’s eyes could see, she took an interest in art and its changes through the course of time. Micah was supposed to be my gift to her, someone to introduce her to the art styles of the era.
In my experience, artistic folk with the ability to drown themselves in their own little world of creativity make for excellent vampires, as they naturally tend to keep to themselves. (Unlike aspiring musicians hoping to tour arenas. Terrible blunder on my behalf, that one. But I digress… a story for another time, perhaps.)
Back to Micah. A sketch artist from San Myshuno. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Turns out creativity and introversion on their own do not suffice when it comes to someone’s suitability for the vampire lifestyle. Micah still sympathises with humans. Many go through that stage in their early days, of course. I can’t say I remember it personally; I was so very young when I turned, and it happened so many lifetimes ago. But I have seen others go through it.
Still, after more than a decade as a vampire, that should have passed for him. I presume it is to do with his mishap with that girl, when he first joined the family. He carries the guilt…
He still needs to feed of course, just like any of us. But he insists on moping afterwards, or worse yet, makes pathetic attempts to limit himself to avoid killing. It makes me sick.
Infuriatingly, out of all the offspring I have created during my centuries on this earth, he is the one most naturally gifted. His vampiric powers come to him almost effortlessly, I’ve seen many spend over half a century getting where he is now. He has a gift. And he refuses to use it to its full potential. Such a waste. I hoped Delphine would invigorate him a little when she dragged him to that ball at the Von Haunt Estate…
I did not make Delphine, but we have an understanding.
She is almost as old as I am, and much like me, she came from a noble family. Unlike me, perhaps since she was older than myself when she got the dark gift, she still seems to miss the high society.
And as a music lover, she was the first to leap on the chance to attend a masquerade ball, the perfect opportunity to cover the cracks in her porcelain skin.
I can’t say I see the appeal, but balls are of course no place for someone like me. So she talked Micah into going.
It seemed to have the opposite effect on him to what I expected. He returned from the ball even more closed off than he’d been before, in spite of Delphine claiming the event had been tremendous.
And on top of that, now Alba’s come with the news that she has yet again failed to resist the call of our latest baker’s blood. Like I am in the mood to deal with that…
She did at least bring something to compensate for her misgivings, a report of a lost young girl wandering the town centre, a stranger to Forgotten Hollow, fresh and appetising.
Something worth investigating, not just for my personal enjoyment. I can appreciate that kind of blood, for certain.
But more importantly, I know it’s exactly that sort of prey that makes Micah’s restraint waver, just as I’ve seen it play out before. Perhaps it just needs to happen a few more times for him to finally stop acting like a rebellious adolescent and stop holding onto his silly notions of humanity, or whatever he’s convinced himself to believe he has left of it.
Ultimately, he can’t cling on to his childish fairy tales forever. He is one of us, and he yearns to satisfy his cravings all the same. He just needs a little push…
Of course, that means I have to restrict myself for once, that I can’t finish her.
All this work, all this effort, all these sacrifices. I go through all of it for them. It’s excruciating. I know our family will not stand the test of time. It is temporary, just like all of my past covens.
And yet I find myself trying to make the most of it, doing all these things the sake of my children. Does that make me a hypocrite?
No. It makes me a leader.