I find it amazing how much faith you mortals are able to place in religion, in the idea of something bigger, more powerful, ever-seeing... That is not to say that vampires themselves do not believe in religion, but they put less faith in it. I have met vampires who believe in God and the devil, met those who still cling to the ancient Greek and Egyptian gods.
Wars have been fought over religion, debates have blown up and the worst crimes committed in the name of God, Allah, Zeus.
Then there is the idea of fate, which sometimes goes alongside these beliefs. More vampires believe in fate and destiny than religion itself, and I am ashamed to admit that Paige is one of these. Both religion and fate have provided me with many interesting nights full of discussion and debate with not just vampires, but mortals as well.
Some say we live a curse, I do not see it as so. For mortals do not have the time to delve into the deepest subjects, nor can they study their own nature. They do not have the time. You do not have the time.
Perhaps you are religious, perhaps you cling to a cross in the face of danger, perhaps you have made a hard journey to Mecca.
Destiny and religion, the idea that there is a plan for us all, I do not believe in these things. They are interesting to study, they provide me with hours of entertainment but we make our own choices, our own decisions, and we must live with the consequences.
The fates do not stand over a tapestry, weaving our lives for us. How could they, with so many on the planet? How could a single being look over every one person, listen to every prayer that comes towards them?
Divine judgement, punishment or reward after death? Well, I have news for you – I am the afterlife, I am divine judgement. I am the end. For every mortal that crosses my path. And there is nothing after except darkness and emptiness.
"You cannot know Pyrites, you cannot see beyond the grave." Paige dished out her usual argument to my philosophy as she poured another glass of cold 'wine' for myself and Seth. I leapt over the bar, coming close behind her and snaking my arms around her slim waist.
I have travelled with many over my time, met with more, and out of all the vampires Paige is the only one I have ever met who could meet me in looks, intelligence and slyness. Despite her faith in destiny and faith, if I could fall in love it would be with her.
Not that she would ever return my love.
"She has a point." Seth took a sip of his drink as he looked at me, his rusty hair falling into his eyes. Though not handsome, Seth did possess boyish good looks and sometimes I found myself regretting that he was not as open as I. The same went for Paige. I had to choose two companions who I could never fuck, didn't I?
"Aw Paige, baby," I rested my head on her shoulder, pouting my lips so that they brushed against her smooth pale cheeks "you don't really see this life as a curse, do you?"
"Stuck with you horny shits?" She slapped my hands away and whirled around, her toes touching mine and her head tilted back ever so slightly. "Yes I do."
I could have kissed her.
Her hand connected with my cheek, leaving a sharp, stinging red mark. "What was that for?" I drawled, refusing to give her the satisfaction of moving my head in reaction, or lifting my hand to brush my hurt cheek and wounded pride.
"I've known you well enough to read your eyes like an open book Pyrites."
Seth laughed on his barstool as she leant against the bar, facing me with a frown. "Darling, how can I resist your beauty, your intellect, your fiery temper?"
"Try harder." She snapped back, though a soft smile played on her lips at the compliments.
We had repeated this dance many times, but it never grew old. It was true – Paige was almost irresistible. Her beauty came from her Italian heritage, the olive skin paled slightly by our gift, her green eyes the colour of grapes, her jet black hair that I had seen in many different styles and cuts, now a short crop on top of her head and around her ears.
"You can have anyone you want Pyrites," Seth reached into his pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. With the swiftness of a cat, he took one out and clenched it between his teeth, and even I barely saw the path between pack and mouth. His grace failed, however, when his lighter jammed shit. "Man, woman, vampire, mortal," he paused as I leant across the bar and flicked my fingers, causing a flame to lick his stick and light it "yet you insist on going for someone strictly girls only?"
"I love a challenge Seth. And you're still on my list you know." I winked at him, watching as he growled and pushed his stool back.
"Fuck off poof."
I laughed. "Oh I do love it when you get pissed off. Turns me on."
"I said," he growled again, and as he was about to once more spit out a vulgarity, Paige cut him off.
"Shut up you two. You know I kept you here after closing for a reason, right?"
"I wondered why we were here." I leapt up, sitting on the bar and swinging my legs. I spotted the annoyed look on her face and carried on. "Go on Paige."
"How well read up are you on vamp lore?"
"Not very." Seth admitted, lazily reaching over and flicking ash into a tray.
"Much as I expected." Paige cast him a sly smile, and without an intellectual retort to answer with, he just stuck his tongue out. "Pyrites?"
"I have mortals to entertain me." I shrugged. "I don't have time for silly superstition and prophecies that won't come to pass."
"Whatever." Paige rolled her eyes. "And you call yourself open." Before I had time to reply she had ducked down behind the bar, allowing me to glimpse her pert little arse sticking upwards as she searched for something. Finally she snapped upwards, and quickly I looked away, catching Seth's eye. We realised at the same time that we had been looking at the same thing, and we shared the same conspiring look. Onto the bar, Paige dropped a heavy leather bound book, dust covering it, not dissimilar to the Bible I had found in the apartment a few nights earlier.
"What's that?" I could see the curiosity in Seth's eyes as he spoke and reached out to touch the book. Paige slapped his hand away.
"This, boys," she was grinning, clearly chuffed with herself "is a book of vampire lore. Very old and very precious. Older than us," she glanced at Seth, "but I cannot say the same for you Pyrites."
I waved a hand at her, glancing at the book with hunger. Despite my words, I was full of eager longing to read and devour the book, having a great love for all literature.
"How did it come into your hand?" I asked, knowing that despite what it must contain, this book was part of history – our history.
"Nicholas gave it to me." She gave his name the German pronunciation, and even at the simple sound of his name I felt a long buried desire stir inside me. "Right before he parted our company."
"Why you?" I spat, annoyed at this piece of information. I had always been under the impression that it had been I who Nicholas had been closest too.
"Don't worry Pyrites." She waved a hand through the air, bringing it to a stop on top of the book. "He gave it to me because he knew I would appreciate it the most." I opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off with a shake of head. "Oh you would read it, I know, but you would then disregard its words and put it to one side."
I pouted. She was right. Both her and Nicholas knew me too well.
"Notice of what exactly oh enlightened one?"
She sent me a lop sided grin. "Anything in here. But, and here comes the whole point of me making you two stick around tonight." Despite ourselves, both Seth and I found ourselves leaning forward, hanging onto her every word. "I was flicking it through it the other day, a bit of light bedside reading...."
Seth scoffed, the sound dying halfway at the look Paige cast him.
"When I realised that it's almost time for one of these to be fulfilled."
"Oh come on." I groaned. "You don't believe in that bullshit do you Paige?"
"Circles Pyrites." She rolled her eyes. "And anyway, this book predicted the rise of Cruentius."
"He heard rumours that these prophecies were about him and he set about to make them true." I leapt over the bar, landing just beside Seth, feeling agitated at Paige's unwavering conviction with this matter. "He carved the path himself, as we all do. We create our own destinies and fates, there is no set path for us in that book of crap."
"Almost everything in this book of crap, as you call it dear, has come true when it has stated it will come true."
"Vampires follow it like mortals follow horoscopes." I spat, beginning to pace as the fury and frustration in me rose. "They bend the words, with hindsight, into what has already happened."
I was close to slamming my fist down when Seth reached out and grabbed my arm, holding me still. He sent me a glare before turning to look at Paige. "So why are you telling us about this book then Paige?"
Paige's body relaxed as she opened the tome to a page she had marked. "Because there are different prophecies relating to the same thing, all pinpointing the time that 'she' comes to be now."
"She?" Seth asked, as I wretched my arm out of his grip and slipped onto a bar stool.
"3,000 years exactly after the first of our kind," her eyes were scanning the page "which, according to the ancient texts, is this year, a vampire will be overcome with a desire for a single girl. In the winter months, coming up the birth of the mortal's Christ, she will be born."
"That's all well and good," I frowned, as she flicked through the book. "But who is the girl?"
"According to the text, she will be stronger than her master and companions combined."
"So it's a vampire who doesn't travel alone?" Seth's mouth was set in a thoughtful look, as he gazed at Paige. I couldn't help but scoff, and both of them glared at me.
"You can't honestly tell me you're taking this seriously?" I asked, looking from one to the other. Paige ignored me and carried on.
"Everything in here indicates now Pyrites. If this is going to happen, it's going to happen soon."
"So what?" I rolled my eyes. "A strong vampire, what does it matter?"
"Because, according to this," she indicated the book "this vampire, this girl, can either bring about the destruction or salvation of her race. And it all depends on her master and his companions."
"It's getting late." I stood up, running a hand through my hair, looking at the strange glow in Paige's eyes. "Daybreak will be here soon. We'd better get going."
"We'll talk about it tomorrow, yeah?" Paige asked.
"Tomorrow." I leant forward, kissing her cheek. "Sleep well Paige."
She nodded, as Seth and I pulled on our jackets and slipped out of the bar.
Despite my deep rooted belief that everything in that book was idiotic nonsense, I still couldn't get rid of the feeling of fear that had settled in my stomach.
I started the following evening with a young aspiring actress called Bethany, who insisted on telling me every detail of every role she had ever been in. She was currently in theatre, and seemed to like talking about this, so I let her. I wasn't really paying attention anyway, my mind was on other things, dwelling on the words Paige had spoken the night before, the image of the book flashing in and out of my mind.
She droned on, and I knew I'd have to kill her soon. I couldn't stand another week of following this dull pretty creature.
My finger ran around the rim on my full wine glass, when I felt a pair of eyes on me. I turned my head, and caught sight of a tall, lean figure with black hair. He looked away too quickly for me to see his face, but part of me wanted to believe so much...
It couldn't be though.
He was leading a young male out of the restaurant, the type of man who was exactly his type. A crash, a cry from Bethany and I looked in shock at the table to realise I had been gripping the glass so tightly it had been crushed in my hand. Bethany's dress was stained with red wine, and cuts crisscrossed my hands. A waiter rushed over, handing me a tea towel and apologising for the soft, weak glass. I waved him away, taking the towel and wrapping it around my hand before anyone realised the cuts were healing and there was no blood.
Across the room, a blond man lifted his glass to me and nodded curtly, before downing the rest of his drink and standing. He spoke quickly to another waiter and left, leaving me to follow.
I made my excuses to Bethany, who looked upset and shocked by the whole ordeal.
"I'll call." I promised, before turning and, still gripping the tea towel with my 'good' hand, rushed out of there, determined to find at least one of the two I had seen.
Out on the street, I looked up and down, half expecting him to be waiting for me. I did not see him, and cursing I kicked the wall.
"Not used to chasing men, are you?" I whirled at the voice to see a young teenage girl dressed from head to toe in black; big black boots, tight black jeans, and an obscure black band t-shirt. And sunglasses.
Her voice had been sharp and sarcastic, and I found myself in my agitation replying in the same tone. "Nor to seeing girls wearing sunglasses in the middle of night in winter either."
She laughed, running a hand through her crimson red hair. "Got to shield your eyes when you're a vampire. Well some of us anyway."
"They don't exist kid." I muttered in reply, taking a cigarette out of my pocket and clutching it between my teeth. With the cigarette I withdrew a lighter – had to remember to use a lighter when out – and lit it.
She strode towards me, reached up and took the cigarette from my mouth, placing it in her own and taking a long drag. She exhaled the smoke towards me, grinning.
I reached out towards her, but she moved quickly away from my grasp – quicker than any mortal possibly could.
"So you are a vampire, big deal."
She tilted her head to one side, looking strangely like a child surveying something new and exciting. Slowly she lifted a hand and withdrew her eyes, and as I lit another cigarette, this time without the aid of a lighter, I stared at her bright lilac eyes. "You were chasing after a friend of mine. You seem pretty...ruffled by his presence. Why?"
"Guess I don't like vampires I don't know slinking around my city." I snapped, as she tilted her head forward and put the glasses back on.
"Yet you have not asked me my name, or my purpose in, what was it, your city?" She put the emphasis on your, and when she lifted her head her lips curled back to reveal her perfect white teeth, complete with the fangs we possess.
"Look, whoever the hell you are, between me and my companions we know every vampire who moves in and out of this city. You three managed to sneak up on us. I am intrigued. But I'm not going to play your silly games."
"You followed my friend out of the restaurant."
Frustration was clouding my mind, and like Seth was so prone to do, I growled. Animal instincts were taking over in my rage, sensing that if I had seen in there who I believed I had seen, then she would know. I leapt forward, grabbing her by the collar and slamming her against the wall. She laughed.
"Oh poor vampire, you're confused are you not?" Again her lip curled back. "Now, in all seriousness, we are here for a particular reason. I know your friend is in possession of a certain book that contains vampire lore," how would she know that, if she had not been told? "and there is a certain prophecy in that book. Not all information relating to that prophecy, however, is contained in it."
I let her go, and as she brushed her clothes I stepped back, a sinking feeling in my stomach. "You know more about it than us?"
"We do." She nodded. "I've travelled the world as you have, but unlike you I did not waste time studying your precious creatures."
"Then what have you found?"
"I looked into our lore, along with my own companions." She let out a sigh, and suddenly her sarcastic, sharp manner was gone, replaced with a kind of deep rooted sadness. "The vampire born a weakling, the girl becomes a vessel of power, destroys her master..." She waved a hand in the air. "That's all in the book. What is not, however, are the original words from Egypt, Eastern Europe, China..."
She withdrew the glasses once more. "There are three possible masters for the girl, and all clues lead to this city. These masters will fight and bicker over her, before and after she is created."
Apart from her and her companions, there were only three other vampires in the city. "You have any clues to the master's identity?"
"It's one of three, and we have the clues to all three."
Something cold gripped me, and I lifted a hand to my head, wondering if I dared to ask. "What are the clues?"
Her voice was full of sorrow when she spoke. "The God of Chaos, a servant, and fool's gold." She chewed her lip. "The reflexes of a cat, the power of control, and creator of fire."
I felt my knees buckle beneath me, felt the ground beneath them as I lifted my hands to my head. I felt her hand on my shoulder, and I knelt for what seemed like an age, wishing for the first time that I believed in a God so I could pray for us all.