Who could call out my name with regretting?

Who would promise to never destroy me?

Tonight my head is full of wishes

And everything I drink is full of her


From "Tonight's Music" by Katatonia

Lyrics by Jonas Renkse & Anders Nystrom




Chapter Two

Beauty and Hope


In the darkness of the night, I have seen the sun — its golden beauty has burned itself upon my heart; and even in my rest, I cannot escape it. I did not think it possible, but I believe that I have finally found that which has eluded me for so long. I have found her — the woman that could set my immortal soul on fire and make my desire rage; the woman who could warm my long cold heart.

How did such a thing happen? Only by purest chance, I can assure you. I had long since resigned myself to my fate, and grudgingly accepted the cold loneliness that my existence had become. All thoughts of warmth and love had long been locked away in the icy recesses of my heart, never to escape again. But last night . . . last night I beheld such beauty and gentleness that my very chest ached with the desire for it.

Even now, I can vividly see her — as if her image has been burned into my eyes for all time. Her soft curling hair, her wide amber eyes, her graceful body . . . it was like looking at a dream come to life — my dream . . . a dream named Charlotte Elbourne.


I came into town out of boredom. Laugh if you must, but if you had hunted the same lands for over a century; you would no doubt grow weary of it too. We vampires are territorial creatures — we have our hunting grounds and we do not usually stray from them. We enter the lands of others of our kind only with their permission. As I have said before, we do not normally war amongst ourselves; but there have been feuds over disputed lands in the past. It is not something that happens very often, for the world is a large place and we are few. But when it does occur, it is one of the duties of the king of our kind to solve such disputes. But such things are usually solved quickly and if not, then painfully — for the laws of vampires are not all that different than those of the human world. However, it is the punishment that makes ours much harsher — with true and final death being the sentence for almost all offenses. It is for that reason that we try not to draw the king's attention to such trivial matters; for no vampire wishes to risk incurring his wrath. His is the final word; and more often than not, it is a fatal word.

But I digress from my tale of this past evening . . .

The hunger was building in me; I could feel it coiling in the pit of my stomach, waiting to be released. I had not hunted in town for quite a while and was looking forward to the challenge. The foolish mortals believe that their puny crosses will stop my kind; and while they will impede us a little and can cause us pain, they cannot truly harm us. Only the touch of the sun, beheading or being pierced through the heart will kill us. We need not be pierced with wood either, a good sharp blade in the chest will do just a well. But most humans still cling to the old superstitions and thus you will see crosses on every building and on almost all windows and doors; a slight inconvenience to us, but one that can be overcome — especially when the bloodlust is on us. Then — then almost nothing will stop us.

The night was still young and I was prowling the dark streets in search of prey. I do not take just anyone, mind you; I prefer to mark out my victims, stalk them silently and wait for my opportunity to strike. In my younger days, I would often take my chosen mortal out into the wilderness and have a true hunt. There is nothing like stalking prey in the wilds but the light of the moon — running them for hours, feeling their terror grow — tracking them by scent and the pull of their fear. The bloodlust grows into a frenzy that burns so hot in your veins, that when you finally do strike — it is a release so primal and sweet that it has no rival. It has been a long time since I had a true hunt . . . just the memory of it inflames me in a most uncomfortable way.

As I glided through the shadows in my search, I noticed a set of windows open to the night air. What a fool! I thought. Only a fool would leave their windows not only unlocked, but open to the night. As I inched forward towards the light spilling from the open glass, I could sense the life force of the two humans within: an old man and a much younger woman. I could feel the hunger rising at the thought of the woman's soft, pale neck and warm blood. Staying to the shadows, I glimpsed the inside of the room. The fireplace was ablaze with a golden light; there were pictures and paintings on the walls; and the furniture was old, but still quite fine. The smell of roses lingered in the air and I saw vases of the dark red flowers scattered around the room. Finally my gaze fell on the two within.

The man was indeed old and he was sitting in a chair equipped with wheels. His eyes were closed, but I could sense that he was not sleeping; and sitting across from him with her back to me, was the woman. I couldn't see her face, but I could hear her voice. She was reading to the man from a small book that she held in her graceful hands. Her voice was gentle, but not overly soft; and held a small bit of melancholy. As I watched them, I soon found myself caught up in the reading — for it was a story that I recognized from old. But it was the sad, lilting quality of the woman's voice that drew me in.

I don't know how long I stayed there listening as the woman read — it seemed like hours — but it could not have been more than twenty or thirty minutes. Then as the woman came to the end of the chapter, she marked her place and closed the book. Reaching around, she then placed it down on the table next to her; and as she turned, I caught a glimpse of her face.

I felt as if someone had just plunged a knife into my chest and I almost gasped aloud at the sight of her — for she was perhaps one of the most beautiful women that I had ever seen. Her hair was dark, but the fireplace and candlelight gave it a golden glow. Her skin was fair and nearly flawless. I gazed at the curve of her jaw, the line of her cheekbone, her rose-tinted lips, and her long beautiful neck. But it was her eyes that drew my attention — they were large and luminous, glittering in the light; and like her voice, there was a trace of sadness in their amber depths. I could feel the hunger growing once again; reaching out to be sated with the essence of the woman, and it took all my efforts to throttle it back down and regain control. Afterwards, I was a bit shaken; for I had never before tried to quell the hunger and it was not a pleasant experience.

As I regained my composure and looked back into the room, the woman's eyes looked up at the window and I had the uncomfortable feeling that she knew I was there. Her expression was puzzled; as if she could sense something, but was unsure what. I knew that she could not have seen me — vampires have the ability to become almost invisible to the human eye. I was far enough in the shadows that the light from the window did not reach me; and yet, somehow the woman had sensed my presence. But how could that be? Only another of my kind could have sensed me there. So how did she know I was there — or did she? Perhaps it was all just a coincidence and she only wished to glance out the window.

I was preparing to flee, when the old man opened his eyes and spoke. "Charlotte dear, is something wrong? Why did you stop?"

"I'm sorry Father; I thought you had fallen asleep. Do you want me to continue?"

The old man pushed a lever near his hand and the chair moved a little. "No dear, that's alright. It's getting late; I think I'll turn in."

Rising she moved towards the man. "Do you want me to help you?"

The man reached out and took her hand, "No dear, I can manage." He peered intently into her face, "Are you sure you're alright, Charlotte?"

The woman shook her head, "I'm fine Father, really. I just — I just had the strangest feeling a moment ago. It — it was almost as if I felt a chill . . . like someone was watching me."

"Hmmm . . . maybe you should get to bed yourself. I don't want you coming down with something."

"Yes Father," The woman nodded. "I'll just put out the candles and I'll go right to bed."

The man pushed another lever and the chair turned, he then moved forward until he was at the open door to the room. "Make sure you close and lock the window, Charlotte. How many times do I need to warn you about leaving windows open — especially at night? It's too dangerous, you know better than that."

The chastised woman dropped her head a bit, "Yes Father, I know. It's just that it was so stuffy in here — I just wanted to get some fresh air; it's such a pretty night."

The man looked at her, "It's alright dear, just don't forget to lock it up. Sleep well." The chair rolled from the room.

The woman turned and started putting out the candles. Checking the screen in front of the fireplace, she then turned towards the window. As she closed the window and bolted the lock, she looked out into the night and her gaze was sad as she looked up at the stars. Then with a small sigh, she turned away. Blowing out the rest of the candles, she left the darkened room.


Charlotte. An old name, but it seemed to fit her. Charlotte . . . Charlotte . . . Charlotte — her name was like a charm. Perhaps if I said it enough, the power of it would draw her back into the room — back to me.

Staring into the darkened room, I imagined that I could still see her as she gazed out the window into the night. Did she know that I was there? Had she seen me? No, she could not have . . . but still, she had sensed that I was there — she had said as much — but how?

I had felt something pulling at me as I had looked at her. Had she felt it too? Of course she did — it was the hunger — yes, that's what it was. It had felt her — felt her life force — and had tried to draw her in. Yes, the hunger. But I didn't want to feed on her. From the moment that I looked upon her face, I knew that I could never feed off her — I could never take that perfect, golden goddess.

Then what was it? My emotions were all tangled together and I couldn't think straight. Was this what I had been looking for all those years ago? Is this what my heart was crying out for? I didn't know, and as I searched within myself, I could find no answers. But the one thing I was sure of was that I had to see her again. I had to hear her voice again — I had to be near her.

Charlotte, the gentle dream of my daylight rest . . . Charlotte, the fire that burns in my veins . . . Charlotte, a bright glowing sun in the dark of the night. Charlotte.

Chapter 3
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