Weeks, perhaps months, passed, and I watched Sarah carefully. Though she seemed indifferent during the times Amor was in her presence, neither did she show the same resistance against him as she had done when she was still a young, new vampire.
Serin was the opposite. Sarah stayed away from him, avoiding his eyes whenever they were close enough to see each other. Serin would leer, behaviour I noted in concern.
One day, Sarah told me that she would be hunting alone. I was annoyed; I for one had enjoyed our duo hunting trips greatly, and had not considered that she would not be my hunting partner for ever.
"Lordess? Am I free to go alone?" The vampire circled cautiously around her question. Seated upon my throne, I glanced at the Vampire Staff as if to gain wisdom and reassurance. I sighed.
"You are young, yet strong. I taught you well, and you are experienced. You may hunt alone." I said finally, blandly.
"Thank you, Lordess." She bowed to me and walked awkwardly from the hall, her figure disappearing down the steps at the hall's entrance.
Abruptly I jerked off my throne. I paced towards the entrance as Sarah had just done and stared out onto the barren plains of the Under-earth. Sarah was a distant smudge on my field of vision, hurrying towards a portal stone.
I turned this way and that, observing others, and sucked in a sharp intake of breath when I saw a figure, tall and muscular, scurrying the way my pupil had just gone.
Serin. There was no doubt about it.
"What are you doing, Serin? You hunted yesterday."
Shaking my head, I did what I knew to be right, and headed for the portal stone Serin had by now reached. Tension rose inside me, and my steps quickened. The one I pursued had now transported himself away, the last flickers of black mist fading from the hillock.
I finally reached the portal stone, its top tapering into the choked atmosphere above. There were words one could use to go the way a fellow vampire had gone before, ones I had taught Serin long ago, and ones that I would now use myself.
"Stone of the Beginning, show me a path already walked." I pressed my palm to the coarse surface of the stone, and darkness grew around me.
As soon as I had regained my senses, my eyes darted around their surroundings. I was beside a small, steadfast rock with its etched 'G'. Birdsong flew to my ears, as did the whispering of trees. It was a little cold, but the air was sharp and fresh, so unlike the dark, smog-filled recesses of London city, where the race of vampires had first crossed paths with Sarah.
The last streaks of sunset were trickling away from a darkening sky. All around me lay cultivated field land, blemished with the occasional clump of woodland. In the distance a fox cried.
Silently thanking the Devil for the blessing of supernatural senses, I played my eyes across the countryside, searching for one, possibly two, figures. I sighed in frustration when I found none.
"Where are you, Sarah? Serin is-" I cut my sentence short. A frightened cry pierced the air, and fled to my alert ears. Quickly I pinpointed its source, and as I ran to Sarah's aid, I ignored a nagging thought in my mind: I was of vampire kind, stripped of useless human emotion. Why must I suffer this alien feeling for another?
Another voice called out, aggressive and savage: Serin's. I broke into a run, new dew damping my gown. The voices had come from a hoard of poplar trees, their lean branches swaying in the cold wind. I dived through, whipped a hundred times. Roots caught my feet, and I almost went sprawling. Sarah cried again, and I snarled as I reached them.
Serin had my pupil pinned to the ground. Her face was bruised, and crimson welts marred her bare arms. Though he had not yet begun, it was clear what Serin intended to do to her.
"Get away from her!" I snarled, slapping Serin hard across his face. He stumbled back, stunned by both my appearance and the sudden eruption of pain. He stared fearfully at me.
"Lordess, I…I did not realise…this is not-"
"Out of my sight, you despicable worm!" I swept down upon the vampire, and grabbed his shirt collar.
"If you ever touch her again, I will kill you with my own two fangs." I lanced him with fiery eyes, and he shuddered.
"Go." I spat, releasing him. He tossed one glance at Sarah, and fled.
"And you will never rule the Under-earth either!" I called out after him, biting down on his hope.
"Lordess…you…thank you…" Sarah stuttered, pulling her gown back down past her shins. She shivered in the cold air, touching her injuries with a grimace.
"It is a service any creature owes to kin. And Serin would have done a forbidden thing." I knelt down beside the poor, shaken girl who turned away in shame.
"You must think me vile, to have been taken advantage of in that way. And I couldn't fight back…"
"Serin has several hundred years under his belt. You are but a child still." Sarah remained forlorn, and I felt unreasonable anger rise inside me. Perhaps I had shed human defects when Changed, but my sense of morality remained.
"I believe I have something that will lighten your spirits, young one. I've finally chosen a vampire's name for you." Sarah looked up abruptly. Months ago, when I had told her that a key point of acceptance into the vampire race was renaming, she had often asked me and reminded me of the task. The name I crafted for her would be a descendant of mine, so that the blood of the monarchy might remain even stronger in the rule of its next leader. It was an eloquent, inspiring name. Perhaps better, even, than my own.
"My name?" Sarah breathed.
"I endow you with the name 'Gothina'. It will be one of power."
"Gothina…my name is Gothina…" The vampire murmured for her own sake, forcing her mind to throw away the old, stale 'Sarah'.
I rose, and smiled warmly. I held a hand to the vampire, and she took it.
"Perhaps others will give you greater acknowledgment, Gothina. I know the Devil will." Gothina hesitated for a moment, as if to decide whether she had truly accepted the Devil as her maker. Then she nodded, and whispered a word of thanks.