The Chronicles of Bloodstar Manor: Unwanted Guardian
The Voice of a Muse
"Normal"… It's never really come up as one of the many colorful adjectives to describe my day-to-day existence. Then again, even if my life ever has been normal, I wouldn't remember it, and that is just one of the reasons as to why I'm going on this rant in the first place.
The long and short of it is: I can't remember anything that happened before I was sixteen years old. I can't remember anything before the day I woke up in a hospital I didn't recognize with bandages on my wrists and a complete stranger sprawled out and dozing in the chair next to my bed.
Everything since then, though – everything that's happened in the last two years – oh yeah, I remember that. I remember that with such frightening clarity that I wish I didn't, sometimes. The last two years are all I have to really know who I am. Everything before that morning in the hospital… It's a secret that's been locked away from me, possibly forever, and although sometimes I catch myself yearning to know what my life was like before the day I woke up in that hospital bed, I have to admit that I'm afraid of the answers I might find. The scars on my wrists are the very epitome of that apprehension, and it constantly boils beneath the smooth tissue like a festering virus that will, for all I know, eventually consume me.
Cheerful way to start this, isn't it? Well, you have my most sincere apologies but there's not really a whole hell of a lot I can do about that. It's just the way things are. There's a whole other world lingering just beyond my grasp, and it's an intimate, conflicting obsession of mine that always seems to lurk on the furthest, darkest outskirts of my mind.
I know one thing, though, and that's the fact that I'm a muse. Don't ask me how I know or where this knowledge came from, because I couldn't answer you if my life depended on it. It's not like my current master found a card on me when she found me equally by some freakish coincidence in the dumpster; the only ID I'd had on me at the time was a suspended driver's license. It's still a mystery to me to this day how she of all people knew, but… Well, that's what I am. A muse. (And my master's sole redeeming factor is the fact that she knows a lot of things about nothing – this was just coincidentally one of the rare circumstances where that worthless knowledge could be usefully applied to anything.)
I hope to god you know what a muse is, because if not… Look, it's called dictionary dot com, alright? Look it up there. However, no, I am not some descendant of Zeus or any of his kids or wherever the original nine muses came from. All I know is that I'm a muse, savvy? If anything, if I had to pick anything to do with Greek mythology to help you Neanderthals understand better, the only way I can think of describing… me, really, is by telling you that I'd be most closely related to Euterpe, the muse of music.
Only I'm a guy – and quite proud to be one. (Yeah… PMS, menopause, periods, pregnancy, blah blah blah – I get enough lip from my master on how good we men have it. My only comment is that women, the lucky twats, get multiple orgasms. We men have to work at that! Ahem. Rant. Sorry, anyways…)
And yes, I actually do do my homework occasionally, thank you very freaking much.
In short, I inspire my master predominantly through the means of music; however I have managed to pluck an idea or two from things like socks and dreams about Wal-Mart over the years, as well. Yeah, creative little bugger, aren't I? If only she could appreciate that the same way others do.
My job sucks, I'm not going to lie. I wouldn't even wish it upon my arch nemesis' spasmodic and alarmingly spiteful cat. But there's not really a whole lot I can do about that, either, because my job pretty much encompasses my entire life. There's no escaping it. I work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for all three-hundred and sixty-five days in a goddamn year. Imagine that for a minute, would you, and then come back to me complaining about how much your desk job sucks and the pay blows and you work so much overtime for nothing.
Boo-freaking-hoo. I don't get paid squat. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nil. Nothing. Oh yeah, you have it so bad, uh-huh.
Well suck it up, buttercup, 'cause I have to kiss ass for free.
Anyways… My master figures that we muses are like computers. Go figure, eh? She's addicted to the things. Each of our "users" – and I just stick with the term "master" because I feel more like a slave than anything else – formats us for their needs when we meet them. Y'know, personality, the way we inspire them, so on and so forth… We essentially become the ideal muse suited to their personal requirements. Then when they're finished with us or happen to meet with an unfortunate accident that ends their life, our "hard drives" are completely wiped, and we're left with blank slates until the next "user" comes along and re-formats us upon introduction. Not consciously or anything – it just… happens.
Imagine that for a second, would ya? A human being with no personality, no thoughts to call their own really, wandering the streets without a single friggin' clue who they are, driven by nothing but the inherent urge to find someone else to own them. I don't know if I had a chance to undergo that particular experience, the whole wandering thing – all I know is that my current master said she found me in a dumpster, beat up with my wrists slit.
I know. Ain't that great?
She's been reminding me ever since how lucky I was that she happened to wander by when she did, because if it weren't for her, then I'd "most likely be of no more use than fertilizer in a nameless grave" – which she tells me is close enough to the truth as things are. Wench. Like I don't do any work whatsoever. Pfft. Gimme a break.
In any case, I lived with her and her family for a time mostly because I had no other choice, and hell, let's face it, where would I go? I had no money; I only knew my name and age because of the badly stained driver's license I had on me at the time and for all I knew that could have been a fake. There were no records of my existence in the government database, either. What else could I do? A whole lot of nothing, that's what – and living on the street after having to deal with the smell of dumpster for the next week and a half just really wasn't all that appealing.
I don't think her parents really loved the idea, having a complete stranger in the house, but they agreed. Helped me register at the local Christian high school – which my master, ironically enough knowing her take on the whole "religion" thing, attended as well – and for the next while, my life became somewhat normal. I made friends, got my shit back together, and bickered with my master like an old married couple, so says one of her comrades. In general, life was good.
Sure, the work she dumped on my shoulders was ill-appreciated, and more often than not I tended to reply to her demanding questions with a simple, rather sarcastic retort, but it was all good. And besides, let's face it, if she really wanted and needed a workaholic for a muse, she would've gotten one.
I had a place to live, at least one friend that helped me ignore the constant thought of the healing wounds on my wrists, but more importantly, I was beginning to make a life for myself again. I was building up on the blank foundation that my previous master had abandoned me with.
It didn't last, though. I've learned since then that nothing good in this world lasts.
I had to leave. Morgan, my often peevish and spiteful master, argued most admirably in my defense with her parents, but in the end, they won out. I'm not bitter, though, and I've got no plans on holding a grudge over it. With an extra person in the house, I was costing them extra money with the black hole that is my stomach, the extra tuition and basic necessities – I was consuming room they really didn't have to spare. After all, Morgan even said herself – numerous times, as a matter of fact – that they needed a bigger house, that they had too much crap, but the sad fact of life was that they simply couldn't afford to move again, or afford the price of a ritzier house.
I, however, was expendable. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that.
So where was I supposed to go? Well, Morgan had this idea. She was good friends with someone in British Columbia who had ample funds and a "ginormous and drop-dead gorgeous behemoth of a mansion."
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "How in the hell would a small-town teenager who's never been outside of Western Canada and Alaska know someone like that?" Well, don't look at me, because I haven't the slightest idea in hell how she knew this guy. Matter of fact, I still don't, and it drives me crazy every time I think about it.
All I know was that every time she mentioned him she got this creepy little grin on her face and was completely and totally disinclined to tell me why. And so, off I went.
Let me tell you: when I first laid eyes on even the iron gate in the brick wall surrounding the property, I knew my eyes were going to jump out of my head when I finally saw the house. And they nearly did. The place was freaking huge! And I marvel every day of the week that I wake up and remember that I live here, that this is my home. But that'll come later.
I met Julian first, being as he was the one who answered the door, and my first impression of this blonde Englishman was: "too happy, too polite, too English, most likely flamingly gay… Verdict? Creepy." Yeah, yeah, so I'm a little judgmental sometimes. Gimme a break, all right? He turned out to be a good guy in the end – practically the mom I, well… don't have, I guess.
Potatoe was there hiding behind his legs the entire time he was catching up with Morgan and introducing me to the house and all that. She was adorable, right from that first moment, even though she stuck out her tongue at me and ran away when I tried to get past that childish shyness of hers. I think she actually kicked me in the shin, too, a couple of days later. Thank freaking god she's not that much of a brat now, otherwise I would be having some serious words with her "mummy" – AKA Julian.
I met Artemis next, and Julian had to bring me up to her dark, dingy hole-in-the-wall that she calls a room and practically drag her away from the numerous computers piled on the counter lining one wall of her bedroom before she would even look at me. When she did, though, I have to admit that I was stunned. Brilliant amber eyes, heavily lined with smudged kohl, immediately seized my attention and for the first couple of seconds I was stumbling over my own words. I mean, I'd never seen eyes like that before in my life – er, not that I know of, anyways.
I guess that since I'm only technically two years old that doesn't count for much though, does it?
Sure, she was thin as a rake in addition to being flat as a board and there was no push-up bra in the world that would have changed that fact, but her attitude and eccentric, impish nature made up for what she lacked in "womanly curvatures." Piercings littered her face, marking her nose, both of her eyebrows, her lips, one of her cheeks, and her ears alone, hands down, would have given any airport security guard one hell of a time. She was still learning English though when we first met, so she couldn't really say much. Those eyes, though… They said more than enough.
She hated my friggin' guts, and she trusted me just about as far as she could throw me – which, with her size, was not saying a whole hell of a lot.
Then again, back in those days, I think she hated everyone's guts except… well… the only other three people in the Manor. Okay. Never mind. So for the most part it was just me in that particular household at the time. The rest of the world could kindly go fuck itself in her opinion, and only Julian, Potatoe, and this mystery friend of Morgan's had been spared from her German wrath.
I consider her one of my best friends now, no matter how often I'd rather punch her in the face than talk to her. It's amazing how she's changed, though, even I can admit that much; she started out angry and leery of everyone – men in particular – carrying too much baggage to handle on her own, and now…
Well, the complete opposite, really. At times. She's still got one hell of an attitude on her when she's having a bad day.
The big moment was coming up. Julian, with Potatoe braced on his hip, had told me that Rori – oh, was that his name? – had been working rather studiously in the library before, and he'd been reluctant to introduce me just then. Now, however… Now was the moment that I was to finally meet the Master of Bloodstar Manor.
And the way he eye-balled me with those white-green eyes of his creeped the ever-loving shit out of me, let me tell you. I swear to god, I think my balls decided to relocate to the warmer climate inside my body the first time I met him. Of course it probably didn't help that when I first shook his hand, it happened to be as cold as ice; the way he'd held onto my hand afterwards, then slowly lifted it to his mouth for a kiss with a devilish smirk on his lips just might have had something to do with it, too, though.
That was when I was airily told that Rori was a vampire. (Yeah, like that's such a commonplace thing in today's world, I remember thinking. Of course, I later found out that it was actually true. The world is littered with all sorts of supernatural creatures – people just don't know about them, and they're probably better off that way.)
Imagine that, though – an immensely successful businessman who just so happened to be one of the bloodsucking undead. Go figure, eh? So that's what was wrong with the corporate world today. Ah well. At least he wasn't a lawyer, that's what I remember thinking at the time. I don't know where the hell that thought came from, but you know what? I'm a muse; I'm allowed to be random.
After visiting for a couple of days while I settled in, Morgan left, and I was faced with the daunting task of attempting to cope with a brutal reality. I was stranded here, alone, in a house full of complete and total strangers – all of whom quickly became the proud new owners of an invisible ID tag courtesy of none other than yours truly.
Julian: the lover of the Master of the Manor, as well as the perpetually smiling and mild-mannered schizophrenic Mad Hatter/Incubus – Cambion, technically, seeing as he's only half incubus – who can suck souls out of the living and use them as fuel to elongate his own life. Oh, right, and he has a split personality, too. Cool, eh? Not to mention he did this weird thing with some of the souls he's taken over the years and, I don't know, melded some of them with one of Rori's rings, and apparently this thing helps protect him – Rori, that is – from sunlight. The actual mechanics of the whole thing are beyond me entirely but I just thought it was kind of a cool little tidbit to mention.
Artemis: the German hacker/freelance thief who appeared out of nowhere with a recorded history of thefts and other misdemeanors longer than my friggin' arm. Also comes with a tainted black past that I don't think anyone other than Rori knows even today. He found her half-starved, going through withdrawals, and practically half-dead in the middle of winter in one of the stables, though – that ought to imply enough on its own that it is not a conversation topic to be touched upon.
Potatoe: the young girl whom Rori and Julian adopted from the streets and saved from an almost certain death; she has a mental disability as well that slows the process at which she ages in her mind. She's still a smart kid and all – it's just her emotions and mentality that tend to age slower, not necessarily her ability to learn and comprehend. Julian home-schools her for the most part.
And then… There was Rori. Rori O'fucking-Connor. What else is there for me to say about him? The man is the very epitome of the word "trouble" for me. That's all he's ever caused me, and all too quickly, I began to realize exactly what form this trouble was to come about in.
Now, this bit is still rather difficult for me, so I hope that you'll bear with me on this one, but… some shit happened that I'm not too fond of remembering, much less relaying to others.
To start, let me tell you something about this particular vampire. Rori was a libertine when he was alive, and he was a libertine after his abnormal death. He remained as promiscuous as they came throughout the years, with a sex-drive to which none could compare, and an infinite fount of lust that resided unchecked within him.
I was one of the people, probably among many, that frequently fell victim to that lust… and not voluntarily. I remember…
Christ. I can still remember the first time he appeared in my room during the night. Since practically day one I was aware of just how flirtatious the man was, how fond he was of copping feels off young men and sometimes women that he found attractive – and I suppose it was his way of froshing, welcoming me to the household, as things were. To appoint it his own personal duty to harass me as much as possible… But that night wasn't just another one of his jokes where he'd creep the shit out of me and then laugh it off.
The fact that he came in under the cover of darkness woke me from an indescribable nightmare only to throw me headlong and reeling into another. I was scared stiff, and when I first realized that he wasn't just kidding around and being playful in his own twisted way, I naturally began to fight back.
What I realized then was that attempting to resist a vampire – especially one as old as Rori – is futile, a waste of energy when you could be using that strength to hold back tears, to prevent your cries from being heard… to feebly ignore the pain. To try and convince yourself that this isn't really happening, that it's all a bad dream and nothing more and within moments you'll be awake and safe again. This was also the night when I found out that all of those stories, when they say that vampires cower before the sight and touch of the cross… Well, those stories and their authors are full of shit. Because they don't cower and they don't hiss at the cross. At all.
As a matter of fact, Rori simply laughed at me, remarked on how adorable my effort was, and threw it away.
That was the first time it happened, and no one knew. He never told the others and neither did I – I blamed my sudden seclusion and emotional distance on being homesick. That I was still adjusting to living here and the things that came with it. I didn't dare tell anyone what actually took place in that bedroom. After all, I'd just moved in, I didn't know him… How was I supposed to know that the next time wouldn't be worse?
Time passed and there was no next time, as I'd been expecting. Yue, Yami, Kali and Faith showed up at the Manor, one after the other, and life regained a somewhat distorted sense of normalcy. I was able to find some solace in the new company, because even though Artemis could speak sufficient, if dodgy English by this time, she often remained cooped up in her room, dealing with unspoken issues – carefully camouflaged demons – of her own.
But as I've already mentioned… The peace, the safety…? It didn't last.
I've been taken against my will more times than I care to count. I don't like saying "raped," because… Well, it's hard to explain, really. It's something I know I don't want, and I'm powerless to stop it from happening, but it's not very often that Rori's actually been violent in… forcing himself upon me. Granted, there have been times when his grip on his vampyric nature has slipped a little, and I've been left with wounds both physical and emotional and an immensely sore body… But it's not always like that.
He told me once during one of these covert encounters that he didn't want to hurt me, he didn't want me to be afraid that he would – get this – abuse me, all very gently with a delicate kiss on the cheek afterwards. I may not want it, and I may fight back, but there are steps that he takes as a vampire to… lessen the damage, I suppose one could say. Manipulation and some kind of fogging of the mind, things like that; something that allows the sensations of the body to override and overwhelm any sense of fear or need to struggle. I guess you could almost relate it to a telepathic drug, of sorts. In essence, as ugly as it sounds, he forces me to enjoy it.
There is still a part of me that panics when he touches me, though, when he decides to…
It's not as bad as it was then, when I first moved in, but… I've never belonged to myself. I've never been my own master – the "master of my own destiny," if you really want me to be corny about it – but I guess that's something that I've just had to get used to over time.
Things would be different if I could just blindly accept them as they were. The only problem is… I don't know. I'm more confused now than anything when he drops by for those visits under the cover of darkness. I can't tell anymore if I'm actually enjoying what's going on or if I still hate it, and Rori's just been pulling the same tricks with my head that he always has. I'm confused, and… there's…
I don't know. Something just… feels different, somehow, like some obscure thing has changed in the ten months that I've been living here. I can't say how or what or why… All I know is that it's something about Rori.
So that's my life now. A life spinning round a never-ending cycle of confusion and manipulated emotions; a life infused with the elements of a supernatural world that most probably wouldn't believe unless they saw it for themselves.
My name is Jason Vaughn Riley, I'm eighteen years old, and I am a muse. This is my story.
To Be Continued…
So, like it? Hate it? Wish it would spontaneously combust? Leave me a review and tell me all about it! C'mon, I wanna know everything! –maniacal cackle-
Okay, so, re-posting the original after all, but there's going to be a few things that I'm gonna change. For one thing, I'm erasing myself out of the story, because it didn't seem like such a big deal six years ago, but now, honestly? It just makes me feel silly, and Mary Sue-ish. Which I despise with an unwavering and positively hellish passion. So. Hypocrisy. Do not want. Say hello to Morgan. Another is tweaking little things like grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and stupid word mix-ups that I remain quite frankly amazed that no one's called me on yet, because I for one want to beat my head into my desk every time I find one of the bloody little bastards out of the sheer stupidity of it all.
I mean, really…? People will give me a hard time over calling Rori British and the fact that he's rich while being English at the same time – an undead Englishman, from England, who hoards money like a dragon, god forbid that the two traits should ever meet – but I can get away with saying that someone's pupil is "contracting" when I'm describing it as "yawning wide"? Really...? Now, maybe this is just me, but that's just silly.