Chapter 25: Sacrifices

Verena

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.

22 thoughts on “Chapter 25: Sacrifices

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  1. Dang! So the little girl is the leader, and that does answer my question on whether or not they grow up. So now, Cordelia is trapped with the vampire for whatever scheme she has cooked up. Yeesh.

    And I don’t think it makes the leader child a hypocrite because she wants to help a family she has that will most likely be temporary. If one doesn’t try, what’s the point of anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She is indeed! And yep, Verena can’t “grow up” in the conventional sense, but she has a sharp centuries old mind. I thought it would be fun to flip the whole “vampire children are so weak and can’t for themselves” narrative on its head and toss it in the bin. She is certainly a force to be reckoned with 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whoa! I did NOT see that coming, that the narrative voice was actually the “kid” all along. That’s all kinds of deliciously creepy. SO she made both the creepy baker vampire AND Mr Masquerade tall-dark-and-handsome! So many tiny plot threads suddenly coming together. Oooooooh and will she whisk Cordelia off to where Morgyn would probably be too, now?!
    *angrily takes out shiny knight’s armor*
    PUT IT ON, MORGYN. NO ARGUING. You have a damsel to save. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I’m glad you appreciate deliciously creepy! And yes, she did and she did.

      You sure seem to be putting a lot of faith into Morgyn 😀 That better be some very flattering looking armour you brought.

      Like

  3. Yeah! I enjoyed getting my teeth into this! Aww, who’s a cute little undead leader?

    On reflection, you can keep your baumkuchen at the Bloodbath Bakery, thanks. 😅

    Ooh, a dishy, human-sympathising vamp? Cordelia you alluring, unlucky bugger.

    Sort of hoping Morgyn has been emptied and dumped somewhere. Then the magic realm will implode. That could be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh that twist at the end! I wasn’t expecting to get the child’s pov, certainly didn’t expect the child to be the leader and the oldest. Darn. Idk. If I were a kid vampire I’d want to be at least a teen/YA vamp. Your story mentioned ‘cracks in the skin’. So it’s possible for Verena to get cracks on her skin too then? Bizarre. I like that my brain does not compute.

    I’m so glad to be proven otherwise of Micah. But y’know, the story just started D:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I doubt anyone asked Verena about her preferences when she was turned – and even if they did, at that age she would not have been able to make an informed decision.

      Currently Verena does not have any cracks in her skin, I guess she’s been more careful than Delphine. But it’s not out of the question for her to get them, depending.

      Haha before you start celebrating too much about Micah, I would like to point out that just because a centuries old vampire coven leader (who is desensitised to human plight) considers him soft does not strictly speaking mean he is so by human standards 😇

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had my suspicions that the narrator might be the little girl, and I’m glad it was. 🙂 I love that you made her the leader. So often it’s a broody vampire adult, so nice to see a different spin on the vampire trope.

    Oh, so she is the master vampiress that turned Micah. Haha, I was off on my guess and thought that Delphine might be the master.

    Oh, this gets interesting. I wonder how Micah will react to his master bringing him Cordelia? And I bet Morgyn is lurking around somewhere. Whether or not they help Cordelia is another story. I kind of wonder if Cordelia might have to get herself out of this one alone, or maybe the sprites will prove useful in some way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I thought it would be fun to make her the leader, a several hundred year old “child” is an interesting concept to me, but I figured it would be more interesting to make her the most powerful of them all, instead of reliant on others.

      You weren’t very far off there, Delphine is still older than Micah, so she probably gives off that vampy vibe more than him, and she is powerful in her own right, just not quite as much as Verena.

      Ooh that’s an interesting theory!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am supposed to be binging and not stopping to comment every chapter but holy shit, this was dope. I did not see this twist coming and LOVED IT.

    I just assumed Delphine was Micah’s maker!

    Ahhhhh this is so good (and so deliciously dark! I love it!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aww I enjoyed this chapter so much! Verena is so caring, tho she’s cold at the same time.
    At first I expected the voice to be the one of the dark haired ball woman, but once I saw she has a different name I giddily expected the blonde girl and was not disappointed 😁😁

    Liked by 1 person

  8. BERNARD! PAINTING!

    Wow, Verena’s really stuck in that emo postmodern phase. Dial it back, Hobbes!

    That’s a twist I should have seen coming, but didn’t because my brain was so focused on the Bernard painting. Delicious! Now I’m thinking about the physiological consequences of living centuries as a child. Presumably her brain stopped developing, just like her body did. That would explain the flat dismissal of Micah’s principles. Alright, I’m going to keep projecting my wild theories onto this girl as she develops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh. Got to make it clear it’s a flashback to Von Haunt Estate, right? I do wonder if Verena or her family would have known Bernard in her pre-vampirical time, with them all being aristocrats, roughly around the same era.

      She’s stuck alright.

      She definitely doesn’t have the mind of a child, I can tell you that much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! I would have thought Verena was much older. But now that I know she’s Victorian, I’ll be looking out for those Easter eggs. Lord knows Ferosh is more qualified but I’ll try.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clearly I lack your Von Haunt knowledge, I thought Bernard’s era was well before that, but I did look it up now and have learned the fire only happened 1898. You’re right, Verena is a lot older than that. Even Delphine is. I was going solely by the look of the building which to my amateur eye looked baroque, so I figured it would be 17th or 18th century. Though come to think of it, the version of Von Haunt I have in my save probably looks more baroque than the original. Never mind 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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