The Kingdom of Corentha, 2000 years ago
The subtle fragrance of orchids wafted through the hall, adding to the already ethereal feel of the enchanting looking hallway. The scent grew stronger as I drew closer to the Throne Room. Apprehension clung to me like a weight, dragging down my every step.
A storm brewed behind my moss-colored eyes as I recalled how elated the maid in the courtyard had been as she informed us that she was a part of the team that had decorated the Throne Room, early this morning, for Princess Iris’ wedding.
The sound of cheers that went up from the soldiers surrounding me contradicted the horror filled gasp that slipped through my lips.
I was sure that I had heard wrong but the smiles and hails to the new King and Queen enveloped me, like nails being driven into my heart, reaffirming what I had heard. Without thinking, I pushed through the crowd of men with one purpose in my mind; to find my mate.
The consequences for abandoning my post was nothing more than an after-thought that flitted away as quickly as it crossed my mind. If Iris, my Iris, was getting married I needed to see for myself. I was her mate! Only a few hours ago she had lain in my arms and told me that she was pregnant with my baby. We had made plans. She was going to give up the throne and we were going to run away together but now…now she was to be married?!
Something akin to disbelief streamed through me. It was impossible! She would never betray me this way! I was almost to my destination when my keen hearing picked up the sound of the ceremonious trumpets behind the large, solid, silver and red doors ahead.
I was steps away from the doors when they swung open with a flourish. The hem of a scarlet floor length tulle ball gown swept over the threshold. Caught off guard, I followed my warrior’s instincts and immediately backed away; gathering the shadows of the hallway to hide me. It was a simple trick every vampire destined for the army was taught at a young age.
I watched with growing dread as a head appeared. Auburn hair in an intricate up-do with a few loose strands framed a heart-shaped face that boasted twinkling blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across a small button nose. Blood red rubies dripped
from her ears and neck portraying an elegance only attributable to royalty.
There was no denying it anymore. The woman standing before me, arms linked with His Grace Gitto Bernadotte, was my mate. Gitto was clothed similarly to Iris in just as much splendor and elegance. A King’s crown sat on his head. My eyes quickly darted back to Iris and discovered a matching crown on her head.
The blood from my recent feed rushed up the full length of my body sending my slow
beating heart into a gallop. Icy torrents of delirious anger, insanity, and torment swept over me as I watched them smile and bow; completing the last rite of passage that would lead them to the throne. The ache in my heart intensified as they turned as one and walked back towards the Throne Room to take their place as the new King and Queen of the vampire race.
I opened my mouth to scream in defiance but a crippling pain surged over me. I fell to my knees and lost my grip on the shadows, making me visible. I was barely holding on to consciousness as the tidal waves of pain crashed through me but I managed to look up when gasps sounded a few feet ahead of me.
It was Iris. She was experiencing the same pain and had crumbled to the floor. Even though neither one of us had voiced the words to bind us together as mates for eternity, somehow, we had been bonded. In marrying Gitto, Iris had ripped apart the coils of the bond meant to keep us together.
The pain lasted for less than a minute; leaving a dull feeling of emptiness in its place. We were no longer mates. Drawing in a deep breath, I climbed
to my feet just as her husband helped her up. Our eyes met and locked. In hers, was a flash of happiness, agony, bewilderment, and finally, disgust.
The latter blew me away. I hadn’t realized that I was holding out hope, irrationally, until that moment. I had hoped that this was just a prank or, if it was real, she was under duress but that look…that look cemented everything for me. An uncontrollable, strangled, groan bubbled pass my lips as another spasm of pain rose and spread through me as the last remnants of our bond dissolved.
A smile of contempt slithered onto Iris’ lips and she rubbed her tummy; a clear slap to my face. In that moment, it became clear that I was a laughingstock. Her sneaking around, making plans, and “falling in love” with me over the last six months was all done in jest. I was the lowly soldier who fate had played a cruel joke on by making me mate to the future Queen of the kingdom.
My eyes turned red and slit-like as anguish spread through my heart at the realization of her cruelty. The
child she was carrying was Gitto’s. I had just been a comical relief from the dull routine of
her royal duties.
Iris gestured to the man by her side that she was okay and they should proceed. With purpose-filled steps and a sick look of glee, Queen Iris maintained eye contact with me as she and her King stepped into the Throne Room and the doors slammed shut.
Fury erupted in a gush, swallowing all the pain and hurt from the breaking of the mate bond. I stood there long after the doors closed. The ceremonious trumpets sounded again as heralds announced the new King and Queen. The Palace erupted into a celebration.
I stood there numb! Day had shifted to evening when suddenly I was surrounded by my Commander and three of my fellow army men. It was time to face the consequences of leaving my post without permission. They dragged me off for questioning, but I refused to
speak. Sixty days of no food and daily floggings zipped by but still I refused to defend my actions that fateful day. I was trapped in a place of unfeeling darkness. Nothing mattered anymore.
On day sixty-one, the door of the dungeon opened and I was released with a dishonorable discharge. My life as a soldier was over. I had nothing left. I was thrown out of the capital by a few men who I had trained with and fought next to on the battlefield. They left me battered and bruised, on the brink of death, at the border of the next city.
It was then that something in me broke and the emptiness within me was finally filled…with madness! With the little bit of strength I had left, I staggered to my feet. My mind steadied and focused on one goal. I would not let this stand! I would not be toyed with then thrown away like yesterday’s
After all, I was the rightful King of Corentha and before I allowed this King and his twisted Queen to rule her; I would bring the entire kingdom
to its knees.
I melted into the shadows with a dark chuckle born from hate, despair, and ridicule. A plan was already forming in my mind.
“One. Two. Three. Push!!” Searing pain tore through my body as the experiment inside of me struggled to make its way into the world. It felt like someone had set my insides on fire. I struggled to breathe amidst the anguish while hate permeated my mind and my soul. The husband that I used to hold so dear had volunteered my body for this.
Now, instead of standing by my side, he stood alongside the other scientists staring down at me from the observation deck.
To make matters worse, the doctors and nurses surrounding me appeared more concerned about the experiment’s health than mine. “One more time” they chanted.
“One. Two. Three. Now push!!!”
Summoning all the hatred and disdain that had built up over the past five months, I bore down and pushed with all my might.
There was a sucking sound and relief flooded my body at the sound of a baby’s wail ringing through the dastardly room.
In my moment of reprieve, I had focused my energy on catching my breath and almost missed the muted gasps of surprise.
My short-lived relief turned to panic until a few seconds later my snake of a husband came bursting into the room with a look of awe on his face. My panic crumbled and anger swelled in its place when instead of checking on me, his wife, he went towards the abomination. The look of wonder on his face quickly gave way to one of sly triumph as he took the child from one of the nurses.
My resentment threatened to take over and I had an urge to beat him into the floor. “This is unexpected, but promising!” he said. Laughing maniacally, my husband walked over to me and lowered the tightly bundled baby so that I could see it for the first time.
I gasped just like the doctors and nurses had only minutes ago. I glanced up at my husband and in a voice saturated with fear stuttered, “th-th-this shouldn’t be possible!” Looking up at my, with eyes only a few shades darker than my own, was a face nearly identical to mine.
As he used the security camera to zoom in on the face of the wailing baby, moss-colored eyes flashed with triumphant madness. His dream was finally a reality! His greatest creation was here and with her birth his revenge was nigh.