This post is the first in what will be an ongoing serial involving the main characters of my series, The V V Inn. Before she was the voluptuous Vivian, or the powerful Alexandria, she was Ceara, a young Irish woman.
July 23, 1451
The dying light from the sun cast an orange glow across the room, signaling my nightly hell was about to begin. Two months had past since the creature called Mikov broke into our small two-room cottage in Ireland. My husband of four years, Aidan, was slaughtered while I huddled helpless in a corner—paralyzed by my own fear.
The long-fanged monster may have looked almost human, but the blood dripping off its sharp teeth and the crazed look in its eyes certainly wasn’t. With surprising strength, it tore the limbs from my spouse and tossed the bloody remains about the room. The frozen look of terror on Aidan’s decapitated face will forever be imprinted on my mind; seared deep by the indescribable hatred welling in my gut for the vampire who changed my life forever.
“Where is she? Bring my Ceara to me,” Mikov’s deep voice boomed through the darkening English farmhouse, sending goose bumps up my arms.
Strong hands pulled me from my dirty straw pallet in the great hall, gentling when I didn’t struggle. “You know he gets worse if we delay,” the hoarse voice of Mikov’s mate, Fiona, whispered. Her breath pulled in sharply when she looked at me. “Damn you. You didn’t bathe or make yourself presentable as instructed.”
I remained silent, as I had for the duration of my capture. If that blood-sucking prick wanted to feast on me he’d have to get past the stench first.
Fiona stood straight and glared down the long room at the others; a dozen or so men and women who lived to feed the master and his fellow vampires. “If you don’t help to clean her, you will all feel Mikov’s rage. I’ll make sure of it.” She turned and stormed out, calling back over her shoulder that we had ten minutes.
I stood perfectly still, not moving to obey and unwilling to meet the eyes of the emaciated women who rose to do Fiona’s bidding. Once or twice someone tried to soothe me when I woke up screaming from the nightmares of the day my life changed forever, but mostly, the others kept their distance.
“You think we don’t know your pain?” asked a haggard-looking young woman with long black hair. “Some of us were taken as maidens, others from our husbands and children.” Her tone was soft and soothing, like a stable lad talking to a skittish horse. She held a brush in one hand and pulled the long, messy strands of my copper-colored hair off my neck and started to work through the knots with a light touch.
Two others came and removed my filthy over-dress and shift. Without resistance, I stood while they bathed me, everyone in the room quietly watching on. I stared straight ahead, ignoring the whispers and heated glances from the men. The cool dampness of the cloth soothed my healing bruises and scrapes.
“At least you’ve finally learned to stop fighting him,” my hair-brusher continued. “The ones who don’t die quickly.”
And what kind of life is this? I wanted to ask, but kept quiet.
The lavender scent of the water didn’t calm me, as it had in the past. Anger burned in my gut and threatened to overwhelm the passivity I tried to emulate. I discovered the hard way just how strong Mikov and the other night creatures were. In the end, they still got what they wanted so there was no real reason to keep fighting and injure myself further.
I needed to escape, but had yet to be allowed past the fortified walls beyond the main building. I didn’t know how much longer I could take their leader’s attentions without losing my sanity completely.
“How long have you been here?” I asked. My voice sounded harsh and unused, even to my own ears.
The women gasped, it was the first time I’d spoken since my arrival. My hair-brusher faltered in her strokes before answering. “So, your tongue does work, eh, lassie?” I didn’t respond, but waited for her to answer my question. “Three years,” she said after a moment, her fingers grazing the fading strangulation marks on my throat. “You’ll find it gets easier when he tires of you and finds a new infatuation.”
But she was wrong. He never found another plaything.
I’d heard all I needed to hear. These women weren’t like me. They were already broken. I would find a way out or I would die trying—preferably, it would be the first one.
The two bathers finished their ministrations and pushed clean, threadbare clothing over my head. One met my eyes with undisguised pity. “I’m sorry you’re so pretty.” Her blackened teeth peeked from behind a lip twisted with distaste. “It’s always worse for the pretty ones.”
And therein laid the blame of my current predicament. If this deranged monster hadn’t noticed my flaming hair and fair looks, my husband and my happy life might never have changed. A simple farm, food in our bellies, long nights making love by the fire… my heart constricted in my chest as I recalled the winter we lost our unborn child. I was only eighteen and miscarriages happened to many… family reassured us we’d have many more chances together to bring a life into this world.
They, too, were wrong.
Shoving the grief and heartache down into a tight ball in my mind, I try to clear my head. I cried the first month, every night straight. It didn’t change my fate nor did it lessen the vampire’s craving for my blood. Time to do what my folks always said when the wee ones fought and complained—God helps those who help themselves.
As the thunderous footsteps of Fiona echoed down the hallway, I knew my hell was about to begin again. Fear coiled in my middle as I steeled myself for the angry look I knew I’d see in the other woman’s gaze—she disliked her husband’s attentions of me almost as much as I did.
“Be strong,” whispered my hair-brusher. “He can only take what you freely give.”
The door swung open and I stepped forward, out of the circle of the three women whose names I did not know… ready to face my weekly raping.
This serial will continue next month.
This serial will continue next month.
~~ C.J. Ellisson ~~
Copyright © 2011 C.J. Ellisson
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.