• Darkness spilled into the bright sunset. Scattering stars all about. Slowly the sun disappeared behind the mountains. The moon reflected perfectly off of the lake. Everywhere I look there are trees. All but this one little cabin, with a small lake, were trees. The cabin was my home. I didn’t always live here, all alone. I used to belong to a family. Once upon a time. That was before I was taken away. Through the night, I was made invisible. Locked away from the world. The cabin was my world now. The only things from my past are Snuggles, my patched teddy bear, my mother’s locket, and a few notebooks. With them I can remember who I am. What I was.

    Footsteps came from behind me. I didn’t have to turn to know who it was. It was Alan.

    “You do know Ana that tomorrow is the ritual where all of the lost clans come together don’t you?” his voice held a nasally tone to it.

    “How many times must I tell you not to call me Ana. That is not my name” I didn’t bother turning around knowing that would only please him.

    “Yes you have told me many a time…but Anastasia isn’t what I want to call you. You’re my Ana”

    I whipped around and stood up facing him. I was furious.

    “I am not your Ana. I am no ones Ana. I belong to myself, as Anastasia”

    “You seem to not remember… I created who you are. I can call you Ana any time that I wish!”

    Without thinking my arm shot out and gripped Alan’s throat. I lifted him into the air and squeezed. This would’ve been impossible for me to accomplish before I was changed. “Think twice before you try to lower me. I am Anastasia. The only person who could say that they own me, is ME.”

    “Put me down!” Alan’s voice rasped.

    “Why? You don’t need to breathe any more than I do. But if you wish to be put down…so be it” I threw Alan into the lake and stalked off towards the cabin.

    How dare he bring up the ritual so carelessly? Since I was reborn that is all that I have been trained for. It had barely left time for me to hunt. Why did they choose me to be the one to compete at the ritual? It didn’t matter now; there was nothing I could say to make it so I couldn’t go.

    “You know Anastasia it wasn’t a good idea to expand your strength to through Alan into the river when you should be saving all of your strength for tomorrow” Gale said opening the cabin door for me.

    “Why should I save my strength when I am going to go hunt?”

    “You can’t hunt until the ritual is over. That is the rules”

    “What? I don’t remember ever hearing that” I couldn’t believe that. They expected the contestants to not feed? It wouldn’t bug me as much it would bug the other vampyres. I only need to hunt every other day, but I didn’t like to.

    “It’s a new rule that has been sent out. You need to go to wait in Alan’s office. He needs to go over the rules with you”

    “I know those by heart, I don’t need to have them read to me again” I knew that they had to reread the rules but I didn’t want to face Alan after throwing him into the lake. He was going to be so mad at me…

    “Don’t worry about him trying to attack you. He can’t and he won’t. Remember if you are not favored by his highness Alan would take you as his mate. So I highly doubt that he is going to be angry with you” Gale’s voice was soft.

    “I don’t want either of them as a mate. You know very well who I would like to be with” I wasn’t going to say it out loud for it would cause the one I wanted great harm.

    “You shouldn’t say such things out loud Anastasia. It’s dangerous” Gale’s eyes flashed with an emotion I could not name.

    “Anastasia!!” Alan’s nasally voice came from the other side of the office.

    “I…I better go. Talk to you later Gale” I turned around and walked into the office; shutting the door behind me.

    “Ana you are late. We have so much to discuss, and so much to prepare you for. Flora!” Alan shouted standing up. I noted with satisfaction that even though he had changed clothes, his hair was still soaked.

    “Her bath is ready Alan” Flora said coming in from the door besides Alan’s desk.

    “Good you may leave us now.” Alan said looking at me before heading into the room that Flora had just come out of before leaving through his office door. “Ana get into the tub this instant.” I followed him into the next room unwillingly.

    I bared my teeth at him but got undressed and sank into the tub. When I was first reborn this had unnerved me deeply. I had come from a high ranked social family. Everything about our lives had been modest. No one was aloud to see you in anything but proper attire. Bathing while others looked on had taken nearly a century to get used to. I grabbed a bottle of soap that laid on a small stool next to the tub I poured some onto a purple loofah. I worked the soap into a slather before scrubbing every inch of my body clean. While I did this Alan read the ritual procedures. I tuned back into his voice I washed my lavender rose smelling conditioner out of my hair.

    “Every clan must summit one female over 200 years of age. A wedding gown must be donned. The gown must be floor length, and within all shades of white. A veil is required. You are to be reminded that you are competing for the favor of his highness. If you are to be favored by his highness you are to be wed that very night. After his highness is satisfied the rest of the clan males are allowed to choose his bride. They are to be wed after his highness according to thy clan number…” Alan stopped reading when I stood up from the tub a grabbed a towel from a slightly taller stool that was next to the tub.

    “Aren’t you required to leave while I dress? I thought no man was allowed to see me until the ritual?”

    “Yes Ana you are right. I will see you at the ritual..” Alan voiced starring at me as he walked backwards to the door.

    As soon as he left the room Flora entered holding a white box.

    “It’s a good thing that you have naturally wavy hair Anastasia. It gives us more time to figure out what we are to do about your make up and how you will enter instead of focusing on mainly your hair.”

    I nodded and sat down in a chair. I knew that I wasn’t allowed to work or help Flora get me ready.

    It didn’t take long for Flora to get me ready. My hair Flora left down instead of putting it up; I think she did this because my usual style was to wear it up. My eyes were done up in a deep smoky brown. My lips became a blood red. Besides my eyes and lips I had no other makeup on. It wasn’t needed. My skin had become flawless when I was turned. The gown I had ordered at a custom designer’s store was beautiful. It was my take on a gown that I had seen. My mother’s wedding gown. I remembered seeing it when I was younger, before I was reborn.

    The dress wasn’t by all means extravagant. It was quiet simple. The top of the gown had a sweetheart neckline with a corset type fit. The skirt wasn’t quiet a full ball gown skirt but lay in a medium sized circle around me; giving into a small train in the back. Detailed beading almost in the form of triangles went all the way around the skirt; on the top beading lined the sweetheart neckline continuing slightly down to my belly button. Beading lined the bottom of the top and came to a triangle point in the center; slightly below my hips.

    “What do you think Anastasia?” Flora asked me turning me towards the mirror.

    I took in everything I saw. My hair fell loosely in chocolate ringlets to the middle of my waist. My eyes looked dangerous. My normal forest green eyes were now a deep winter green. The gown hugged me in all of the right places. Around my neck my mother’s locket- which laid gracefully in the hollow of my throat. I gently lifted the hem of my skirt to look at my shoes. They were a deep sapphire blue; the heel was only three inches long, I could wear these forever and never feel the difference.

    “I look too beautiful Flora…. What about the veil?”

    “The veil goes on before you go into the ball room so you don’t mess up your hair.”

    I looked at Flora and wondered why she hadn’t been chosen. She was about my normal height with heels on; so about five feet eight inches. Her skin was like the color of the smoothest caramel. Her hair was long, straight, and a rich brown and black color. Tonight she was wearing a floor length gown that was a deep teal color. She was extremely pretty.

    “Anastasia we have to go by car so we must leave now. Are you ready?” Flora asked grabbing a smaller white box and heading towards the back door.

    “As ready as I will ever be I guess. Let us go before I decide to…. Let’s go.” I followed Flora to our black Lexus that we barely used. It was hard to look outside these windows even with my sharp eyesight because they were so dark. The dark windows made sense though. The sun didn’t really hurt us. It just made our eyes hurt deeply.

    “Would you like to listen to music Anastasia?” Flora asked from the front of the car.

    “Yes please. One of the Cds’ of Enya if you can find one. Her songs have always calmed me. I just wish she was around when I was first changed…”

    Flora said nothing. She just took out a CD from the glove box and quickly put it into the CD council. Enya wrapped around my head making it easier for me to sort through my thoughts. It would take us about six hours to arrive at the King’s castle.

    One way or another I would be getting married tonight. I wish that my father could walk me down the aisle. But that was impossible. My parents were long dead. I had been gone for thirty five years when my mother passed away. Five years later my father followed.

    No matter what happened tonight I would be marring a man, a vampyre, which I did not wish to marry. If the King did not choose me, then Alan would choose me.

    “Are there any ‘prophecies’ about this future queen Flora?” I asked quietly.

    “Yes, actually there are a few of them. Would you like me to recite them?”

    “Yes please.”

    “The vamprye who becomes one with HIS Majesty on thee night beholds a power no vamprye has beheld before. The first night she shall lie, bearing HIM a male heir. Her laboring spell will last into the night. The pain will wreck completely through her. After thy birthing by thy next crows flight, distant and near animals- mighty or lame will come to speak. Evergreens reflect through Her eyes. The molten bittersweet chocolate cascades down Her back. Her power as vast as shining skies. HER divinity enthralls our lack,” Flora said looking at me in the review mirror.

    “How true are these prophecies?”

    “They have never been wrong.”

    “Well it can’t be me. My eyes aren’t like that all, and neither is my hair,” I said harshly.

    Silence filled the air, but it never was true silence. Every forty or so minutes the CD Watermark would end, and Flora would restart it. Fifteen restarts later Flora shut off the stereo.

    “We are here Anastasia. You remember how to walk in?”

    “Of course I do. You drilled me the whole time getting ready. Hard to forget don’t you think?”

    Flora gave me a look of annoyance as she pulled onto a long drive way.

    “Hey Flora what year is this?”

    “It is 1993”

    “The month and date?”

    “September 23. Why are you asking?”

    “Two hundred years later, the day of my birthday, I am getting married to someone I do not love when I should really be dead right now. That’s all. Now where do we go?”

    “We are going to park in front of the stairway to the left. Then a servant will come out and park our car. Meanwhile I will be escorting you inside to a small little room, where I will be touching up your make up and putting on your veil.”

    “And then?”

    “Then we will head towards the ballroom. I will go through a small door on the side, while you wait your turn to enter through the big doors.”

    “Humph. Lets get this over with then.” I said as Flora put the car in park, A young man, human by the smell came and opened my door for me. I gave the man my brightest smile. Enjoying the way how I could see him blush deep red.

    “Anastasia, now please.” Flora said half way up the stairs.

    “Oh I’m coming. Just enjoying my last bit as a single, semi-free woman. Okay?”

    Flora rolled her eyes but flashed to the door and held it open for me while I walked up the stairs. I really could have run up them. But I didn’t want to crinkle the dress. Plus I was on my schedule. Not anyone else. They could hold the ball for me. On the plus, if I was late, there was less of a chance the King would pick me. Alan would probably be too furious to speak to me. Leaving the chance for Gale to ask me. That is if Gale loved me…

    “Anastasia, if you were not in a wedding gown, I would come and fight your a** to move it faster.” Flora growled.

    I grinned. Flora never cussed. When she did, it was usually towards me. It had always brought me joy.

    Another human showed us into a small room. All it had was a mirror that took up half of the back wall. And then a couch, a small desk, and a bar stool that surrounded the rest of the room.

    “Sheesh would’ve thought a maybe queen and her friend would get better accommodations don’t you?” I asked standing in front of the mirror.

    “It is only a room for us to use quickly to refresh ourselves that’s all. So no. I’m sure that there are better rooms everywhere else you look, but for the purpose its needed for. It works just fine. Now stand still so I can put on your veil.”

    My veil was an ivory color with a silver shimmer over it. It cascaded to just about where the skirt began to go out a little. On the side was beading down in the pattern that was on my dress.

    “Come on Anastasia, we must go now.” Flora said gently.

    “I’m coming… Hey Flora, if someone were to chose you, would you get married here?”

    “No, we would do the ceremony back at home.”

    “So..if the King were to choose me… I would be unable to see anyone of you guys to get married?”


    “Oh….. So only the ‘chosen’ brides will be getting married to someone tonight?”

    “Yes. Why are you asking this?”

    “Because… Well because I was curious.” I fixed an expression onto my face that I was pretty sure would give off the impression that I am bored yet somewhat excited. When inside I was very sad. There were people that I might not get to see for a very long time. If I were wed to the King. I would not get to see any of the people I had grown to like. On the bright side of being wed to the King. I wouldn’t have to see Alan every day. But I wouldn’t be able to see Gale. Would never be allowed to marry him.

    We exited through the same wood door we had entered. Flora led me around a corner that led to a small flight of stairs. Flora stopped before going up them.

    “Anastasia, just forget our entrance we made up. Just do what you think is best. A servant will come around this corner to get you when it is time for you to go down the stairs. I will see you later. Good luck.” Flora said giving me a quick hug before going up the stairs and disappearing into a small wooden door.

    Only a few minutes passed after Flora left when a human walked around the corner. He beckoned for me to come up the stairs. I picked up part of my skirt and walked up the stairs following the young man around a corner and then he stopped. Turning he bowed to me and walked back down the stairs I had just come up.

    In front of me was a beautifully crafted door. It was the only double doors I have seen in the castle so far. I would have to go through those double doors to go into the ballroom. They were at least seven feet tall. Maybe six feet wide. They were gorgeous French doors. The doors were the same color as the wood in all of the furniture that I have seen so far. They were a deep cherry mahogany. The glass was frosted with Celtic knot design all over each pane.

    Another human stood next to the doors. Why were all of the servants male? He nodded at me and opened the doors. I raised my chin and picked up my skirt again with my left hand and walked through the doors. My right hand laid lightly on the marble railing that lined the stair case. From a quick glance I could tell that the whole staircase was made of marble. I practically walked in a human speed down the stairs. The room went silent. Everyone was looking at me and my slow entrance. Even the King himself was looking at me from the other side of the ballroom from his throne.

    The ballroom was amazing. To me it seemed to be like an acre. But I knew better than that. It was smaller. But not all that small. The walls were a deep brown. The ceiling looked almost like a dome shape. It was painted a cream color. Chandeliers hung everywhere. They were quiet simple in design. Yet by the reflection in the crystals. Everyone of them had to be expensive.

    “Come forward.” A voice commanded.

    Not any voice. The Kings. I made my way down the stairs and across a gold carpet that led to the throne slowly. I kept my head level to his when most other vampyres would keep their head cast downward. I challenged him with my eyes. I would give it my all to make him like me. The King would be a better life than a life with Alan. A life where I didn’t have to see my love’s face every single day.

    “What is your name?” The King asked starring at me so intently that I would have blushed if I was able to.

    “Anastasia my lord.” I curtsied and lifted my head up and smiled.

    “Is there anything special you do, or can do?”

    “I can go two full days and then a little more without feeding. My lord.” I stood from my curtsy.

    “Two full days?” The King’s eyes widened, taking this in.

    “Yes. Is there anything else you wish to ask my lord?”

    “Would you care to have the first dance with me?” The King stood and offered me his arm.

    Not a question. A command.

    “Of course my lord.” I took his arm as he walked forward. Vampyres moved away from us to create a big area for us to dance in.

    “Tell me, what do you think of me Anastasia.” The King asked putting his hands on my waist as music began to play and other vampyres started to dance.

    “You appear to be everything a King should be.”

    “What do you think of me Anastasia?” The King asked once again.

    I resisted rolling my eyes. “Other’s have said that you are truly a great King. That you are the strongest, most handsome vampyre there is,” I trailed my right hand up his arm. “And that even your human servants can feel the power radiating off of your aura. Your smile can make any females’ heart melt. That your voice is like thunder rumbling in the sky. Your strength is that of fifty men. I think they are true My Lord,” I cast my eyes down and then realized what would really stroke his ego. I made myself smile slyly and glanced up into his face. “I’ve also heard that you are…how should I put it? More than fully equipped? If you know what I mean?” I changed my smile into what one could say a seductive smile. My eyes relayed the message as well. I could see my little rant had worked. His shoulders went back more and his eyes turned into a smolder. “What do you think of me My Lord?”

    The King stared down at me at. Which I was proud to admit wasn’t far. I was six foot one in these heels.

    “You Anastasia have hair that doesn’t need the help of a curling iron to fall into velvety ringlets down to your waist. Eyes that make you feel like you are lost in deep forest. Your skin hasn’t lost its ivory cream color through the change. A perfect silhouette. Everything is proportionate with each other. Your lips are the color of fresh rich blood and they are probably the color of freshly trimmed red rose petals when there is no paint on them. To me you fit the prophecy perfectly. I think without dancing with anyone else- I think I have chosen my bride,” the King’s gaze grew sharper.

    “How can you say that when you have barely glanced at another vampire within this room?” I laughed lightly.

    “I do not need to. I have found my prophecy bride.”

    “More important than knowing if I would make you happy or not? Thinking if I am the prophecy? That would be more important to you?”

    His grip on my waist and my hand tightened. “The one who is told will bare me a son without a chance of dying is more important than anything.”

    “So that blonde of there who is getting a deep lecture about how she failed their clan-wouldn’t interest you?”

    “She might-but not like you have. I have never known a vampyre that can go more than a day without feeding.”

    “You could always make her your bride and then keep me on hand on the off chance that I am the one the prophecy speaks of. Letting me be able to roam the world as I have always wanted to do. I think that sounds reasonable. Don’t you?”

    “And let you on the off chance that I would let you out of my sight-runaway? I think not.” His tone hadn’t changed but his eyes changed emotion. They had been empty and bored before, now they resembled a true predators.

    “Why don’t you go dance with her, and then come back to me and tell me your choice?”

    The King leaned towards my ear. “I don’t follow orders. I give orders. I am going to go and dance with the other competitors but I think you know my choice. Go and dance with whom you choose. But don’t become attached,” he whispered to me before letting go of me and bowing to me. He left and started heading towards a some what plain vampyre. I was shocked at that clan’s choice. Normally clans choose one of their best vampyres to represent them.

    “May I have the honor of dancing with the chosen one?” A soft voice rumbled behind me.

    I kept my face still as I turned around and curtsied at Gale. “Of course.”

    A new waltz started up. It was soft and gentle.

    “What did you think of the King?” Gale asked looking at me carefully.

    “Well… He…is a man who needs women to...flatter him. Don’t get me wrong, he is very handsome and he certainly has a lot of power. But his overall goodness inside him and around him…falls short.”