Splintered Image

from the chronicle Where Chaos Reigns

copyright 1995 by Deborah Atwood (19 Jun 95)

This is a background piece from my chronicle, detailing the beginnings of the current Prince of Boston, and her involvement in The Game. As always, comments are appreciated.


(Translated from the original Latin)

My name is Amara, and I am the historian. Both Valerie and Sara have asked me to record our story, and the Kook has agreed. Jillian says that as long as it is in good taste, it is fine with her, and as usual, Crystal does not care.

Near a century ago, in the very early 1900's, a girl with silver blond hair and ice-blue eyes was born to a mother late in her childbearing years. The child was a gift to the couple, their first child after nearly 20 years of marriage. They named her Valerie.

During her younger years, Valerie was a charming child, her hair falling in a cloud about her shoulders, eyes wide with long-lashed rims. She always seemed to be watching, always waiting. A polite child. But one day, just before her seventh birthday, she looked very calmly at her mother and announced, "My name is Sara."

Her mother, understanding that children often seek individuality in games of pretend, merely agreed. "Sara it is then." And for years after, she was known only by that name to her family, while at school the teachers and other children still called her Valerie.

As long as the child was good, she was Sara, but whenever she misbehaved, or acted in any manner her mother deemed inappropriate, her mother's strident tones rang out with her full name, "Valerie Marie Jefferson! You stop that racket, right now!" And Valerie would agree.

When she was sixteen, she met Kathryn, her classmate in home economics, and soon a good friend. Kathryn took her shopping, but Sara had no taste for fashion, and Valerie had no patience. Jillian, then, would step out and choose the clothing and jewelry, making certain that the dress was appropriate for school or church.

And when alone, late at night, Crystal would arrive. She was a dreamer, quiet, a mystic. Never speaking to anyone, merely staring silently into space while her mind spun away on its track, off into distant worlds. Worlds that sometimes the others did not wish to follow her to.

Still, together they graduated high school with little trouble, and went on to a local secretarial school. Valerie had little skills, despite my thirst for knowledge and Sara's patience for studying. As she was not engaged by graduation, she needed a profession. Secretarial school or teaching was the only answer.

She gained a job in a small office, working for several elderly gentleman. The clients found her looks refreshing, as she chatted politely with them while they waited, offering coffee. If occasionally her conversation was slightly disjointed, they forgave her. After all, no one could expect someone with such lovely hair and eyes, and such a perfect body to have brains as well. Sara seethed with the mental inactivity, while Valerie and Jillian reveled in the attention. And Crystal merely slept.

One evening a client she had never seen before arrived, tall dark and handsome, with a seductive smile and smooth hands. He clasped one slender palm to his, kissing the back lightly. "My name is Franklin Wright," he said slowly, his words dropping like honey as he looked into her eyes. "I am here to see Mr. Malgrim."

Tearing her hand slowly from his grasp, Jillian lowered her eyelashes coquettishly. She backed up slightly so she could see Mr. Malgrim's appointment book, verifying that there had been none past mid-afternoon. "I am sorry, sir, but Mr. Malgrim left early this afternoon, after his appointments were through."

"I am sorry as well." His voice was deep, and seemed to echo within her breast. She raised her eyes to meet his once more, and found him to be smiling. "But perhaps it may yet be my fortune. Are you free for supper?"

She couldn't contain a smile. "I believe I might be." It would be terribly forward of her to spend time with a man to whom she had not been formally introduced, but she was so tired of being staid. Slowly her smile grew broader, and Valerie stepped up to take his arm. "Sir, I would be pleased to join you for supper. My name is Valerie."

As they left, Jillian paused by a mirror to check her hair, but it was Valerie who was escorted down the street to a nearby restaurant. During dinner they chatted amiably, Valerie telling him about her parents, now old, and Franklin telling her about his business as he traveled across the country. Valerie enjoyed the meal, rarely eating out in these hard economic times, while Franklin merely picked at his own plate.

"Aren't you enjoying it?" Valerie asked bluntly, curious.

He smiled and shrugged. "In the summer heat I often find myself somewhat less than hungry." As she polished off the last bit of her chocolate cake, he rose, and came around to stand behind her, hands on the back of her chair. "Perhaps you would care to join me in a walk after dinner?"

"I'd love to." She rose as he pulled her chair out for her, and arm in arm, they left to go stroll through the woods, heading towards her home. "I cannot stay too late, however, or else my parents may worry."

"I would never wish to cause your parents worry," he said softly, stopping on the path once trees had enfolded them in darkness, "but I find I cannot help myself."

Slowly he bent his head to touch his lips to hers. One hand went around her, locking at the small of her back, pulling her to him. Valerie retreated with a horrified whisper, "Oh god, oh god, oh god. No...." leaving Sara behind. She tried to work her hands between them, pushing against him, to no avail. "Why?" Sara whispered against his lips.

His mouth traveled away, seeking the fine line of her jaw, then the hollow of her throat. Her blouse had become unbuttoned somehow, and it slipped off her shoulder, allowing him to caress the gentle curve of her shoulder with his tongue.

"Franklin, why are you doing this?" she whispered again, fingers tangling in his hair, meaning to pull him away but instead holding him close.

He stood slowly, and looked down at her. "Sara?"

She nodded. "Yes."

He smiled. "Good." And then he bent again to his task, not answering her question. One hand slid up her back, then around to caress a breast. Soon the shirt was off, and her whimpers of protest had turned to desire. Still scared and uncertain, she allowed him to lead her hands, placing them on his hardness, then her mouth. Then he sank to the mossy ground, carrying her on top of him. He slid off her panties, merely drawing the skirt up around her hips. His tongue never taking leave of the attention it lavished upon each breast in turn, he managed to remove his own pants and shorts, lying nude below her.

"Do you know what we are about to do?" he whispered softly.

She nodded, smiling shyly, still a little scared. "I'm about to lose my virginity."

"In a manner of speaking." Hands on her hips, fingers digging into the soft skin, he suddenly thrust her down over him, feeling the warm blood of her punctured hymen. "Ah," he breathed, smothering her cries with his lips. Warm tears fell across her cheek, dripping onto his own. "Yes, dear child, cry for what you are about to lose..." And then his teeth found the pulse beating in her neck, and sank in.

Valerie remembered nothing after that, not until she found herself standing before a tall man, blood on her hands and chin, still dripping down onto the hardwood floor. She didn't recognize the home, nor the people she faced. First there was the man, his jaw square, his expression gruff. Dark-haired and broad-shouldered, there were faint lines around his serious eyes. Standing just behind him was a beautiful woman, blond hair arranged fashionably atop her head, elegant gown sweeping the floor. And holding Valerie, one hand on each elbow, tugging them back so she could not turn loose, was a boy, no more than 15 or 16 at the oldest.

She had the vaguest of memories of holding something, something that squirmed and wriggled beneath her grasp, and sucking on it like and ice-pop. Liquid, wonderful and thirst quenching sliding down her throat. And this boy had taken it from her, taken her nourishment. Growling, she tried to turn to glare at him, one arm pulling away from him suddenly, snaking out to try to rake his eyes.

"No." The man caught her hand in his, holding it high. "Quiet, youngling. No one here has any plans to hurt you. But you can't simply run about the city killing everything in sight for your dinner."

Killing? For dinner? Valerie was bewildered and retreated, allowing Sara the chance to step forward. Suddenly calm, her hand dropped, and her entire demeanor changed. The boy let her loose and she smoothed her clothes, ignoring the spreading stains of crimson. "My apologies, sir, but it appears that I am at a loss. I do not understand of what you speak."

He smiled. "Of course not. It appears you were abandoned, and your thirst caught you unawares. Let me introduce myself." He gestured for the boy to leave, and moments later they were alone in a study, walls lined with books. "My name is Daniel, and I am the Prince of Boston. This is Tiffany Porter, my companion."

The girl nodded politely to Sara, eyes betraying nothing. "Daniel, shall I tell her the rules?"

Daniel shook his head. "I think I should handle this alone. Please leave."

Sudden hurt crashed over Tiffany's face, and her eyes dropped to look at her shoes. "Daniel?"

He caught her hands in his, cradling them near his lips. "I will be out to Wellesley shortly, little one."

Once again she smiled, seeming to brighten the room while Sara merely watched in amazement. "I will see you then." With a spirited step, she was gone, and only Daniel and Sara were left.

"Who are you?" Daniel asked mildly, unaware of the turmoil that simple question caused.

"Valerie," Sara answered strongly, always willing to tell the simplest truth. "Valerie Jefferson, from Framingham. You said I am in Boston now?" When he nodded, she shook her head, confused. "I don't understand."

"It is quite simple," Daniel explained. "When whatever vampire who sired you was through, he left you in Boston, assuming that you would feed on the poor of the streets. Of *my* streets." His voice held a hint of steel.

"Vampire?" Valerie's hand shot to her throat, pushing Sara aside. "Oh god oh god oh god. Its impossible. It can't be." Her fingers found no wound, and her nails scrabbled painfully at the skin. "Vampires don't exist. They don't, they simply don't. It's impossible."

"Valerie, get ahold of yourself!" Her voice suddenly changed; Sara was back, and her hands dropped to her side. She glanced up to find Daniel watching her in wonder. "You'll have to excuse Valerie. She's excitable."

"I see." His tone was bland. "If she doesn't believe me, then perhaps a test is in order." He reached into a pocket, pulling out a knife. Setting the blade against his own wrist, a thick stripe of blood appeared with a single swipe of the knife. Sara found herself salivating at the sight, and watching in surprise as it slowly healed before her eyes.

"How...?"

He grasped her own wrist, and before she could protest, the knife had been drawn across and with a sickening feeling her own blood poured out. She fought the feeling of nausea, and then the sudden hunger.

"Just will it to be healed," Daniel encouraged.

She stared at it, at first too amazed by the sight of her own blood to do anything save watch. But then a sense of self-preservation kicked in, and slowly the wound began to heal. When it was merely a pink line, she looked back at Daniel and announced practically, "I'm thirsty."

He stepped to the door and motioned the boy, still standing outside, to come in. Taking the boy's hair in one hand, shoulder in the other, he bent the boy's head back, exposing the neck. Sara could see the pulse beating. As if in a dream, she took first one step, then another, until she reached him. Her tongue licked at the pulse, exploring it, feeling the speed increase as his terror started to grow. And then with a single bite, the blood began to flow, thick and warm into the cavern of her mouth. She suckled deeply, sighing when she had reached completion.

The boy was pale, eyes still wide and staring. Daniel spun him around, holding his face between large hands, eyes locking with eyes. "Go back to your post, Stanley, and forget this ever happened."

"Yeah, Boss," the boy said softly, retreating quickly. The wounds upon his neck had already healed.

"I am a vampire," Sara repeated, staring at her hands. A creature of the night, of evil. A creature that god despised.

"But always fashionably pale." Jillian's cheerful comment slipped out before Sara could stop it, and she quickly stashed the girl back where she belonged, smiling apologetically at Daniel.

"I have a place where you can stay for the day," he offered. "It should be safe. Tomorrow evening perhaps Tiffany and I can help you find someplace to stay on a more permanent basis."

"That would be lovely," Sara replied, almost mechanically. She followed him up the stairs of the house, and down the hall into a guest room with heavy shuttered windows. Sitting on the bed, she stared thoughtfully at the wall until she heard footsteps and the heavy thud of the front door swinging shut. She walked over to the window and swung wide the shutters.

The moon shone down on the street, and she stared for a very long time up at the stars. A vampire. Jillian found the concept fascinating, Sara somewhat revolting. Valerie was terrified. Who knew what Crystal thought. Were I asked my opinion, I would have found it intriguing, an excuse to live and learn forever. No one asked.

Seconds ticked by, then hours. Downstairs, in a hallway, she could hear a grandfather clock chiming out the hour. Near dawn, she suspected, and a faint glow on the horizon confirmed that.

Her fingers dug into the windowsill, holding her there even as some inborn instinct told her to flee. Slowly the light spread over the scene below her, striking her face, blisters rising on the tender skin. She watched until she could see no more, her eyes no more than hot coals locked in her skull. Tremors of flame began to lick over her, her clothes burning away from the hot flesh.

"Am I a vampire?" The words were hard to understand through lips dry and cracked. Slowly she smiled, difficult as her skin began to peel away from bone. "Not any more."

And the sun rose as Valerie and Sara smiled together at the dawn.


I must ask your forgiveness here, for my transgression. When Sara read my first draft of this portion of the story, she insisted it needed more than I could provide. So per her instructions, I have included scenes to which I was not witness, information gained through careful research and conversation. My apologies that it may not be as exact as my usual historical chronicles are, but Sara did insist.



"Boss! Boss!"

The door swung away from him, his key still stuck in the lock as Stanley yanked it open with surprising strength. Tiffany peered around Daniel's shoulder at the boy, "Problem, Stan?"

He nodded quickly, reaching out to snag Daniel's jacket with two fingers. "Boss, you've got to come upstairs. *Now.*"

Tiffany's expression darkened with annoyance at his attitude, but Daniel cautioned her to silence, merely amused. "I suspect our unusual guest has been up to more tricks," he said calmly, following the boy up the stairs to the room which had housed the new vampire for the day.

Full dark had set in, and only the light of the full moon allowed any easy sight into the room. Daniel's eyes reflexively changed, glowing red as he adjusted to the dim light.

Tiffany gasped in horror, one hand pressed to perfect lips, eyes wide and frightened. "Omigod!" She shrank behind her lover, hiding her eyes from the view.

Daniel shrugged out of his jacket, leaving it clutched in Tiffany's fingers, and the knelt before the body on the floor. A cool breeze wafted through the window, and the faint scent of burnt flesh filtered through. The clothes lay in a pile of ashes around the form, and the skin had all peeled away. The eyes were small marbles of carbon, embedded deep within her face, what was left of the lips pulled back in a snarling grimace. He reached out and pulled one shoulder gently to him, surprised that the body didn't fall to dust beneath his touch. "Strange," he mused.

"One of the guys found her lying there like that and he covered her up," Stanely explained in a rush of breath. "When I woke up he got me and brought me in to see her. Th'blanket's over there."

"Is she alive?" Daniel turned to Tiffany, who still stared in horror.

She peeled her fist from her teeth, thin rivulets of blood showing where she had bitten in her fright. "She *looks* dead," she sad flatly, shuddering delicately.

Daniel turned his observations back to the body. "Yes, but if she had died the final death, she would be dust." His voice was soft, as if he spoke to himself. Gently he slid his hands beneath the body, lifting it to cradle it against his chest. "Perhaps she's merely sleeping, and healing." Walking over to the bed, he laid her gently upon it, pulling the sheets up to cover her securely, then the blanket.

"What are you doing?" Tiffany asked, outraged.

"Letting her rest." Daniel walked back over to the window, closing the shutters and locking them securely, enfolding the room in darkness.

"Are you insane?"

He turned to Tiffany, his own expression darkening. He knew that with her heightened sense she could easily see each muscle on his face. "If she were dead, she would be dust," he repeated slowly, as if to a small child. "I have never seen a vampire die and remain in this condition. Therefore, I must assume that she is not dead and let her rest. She may be merely in torpor." His eyes glowed stronger, and Tiffany felt her will grow weaker.

"I don't like it, Daniel," she whispered, shaking her head.

Daniel motioned for Stanley to leave the room, then dropped one arm about Tiffany's shoulder, guiding her as well. "Then perhaps, dear, you should simply forget all about it." And as the door shut behind them, she did.



Crystal awoke first, most comfortable in the surroundings of the dreamworld, and I followed soon after, too curious to continue sleeping. Yet Sara, Valerie and Jillian slumbered on.

Crystal moved easily through the dreamstuff, mending the burnt and shattered cells, noting the growing thirst with only academic interest. "A new self," she mused thoughtfully. "Perhaps someone new to play with?" She reached out through the void to touch the sleeping form.

"What?" The voice resounded through the dreamworld, surprising even Crystal. "Who dares to disturb me?"

I stepped forward, speaking in my native language. "I am Amara. And what shall we call you?"

There was no sense of anything save great presence. A pause, then a sense that it laughed. "Five? Five others I see. How amusing, how very very amusing." Another pause before it began again. "The Kook will do. After all, 'tis what I am."

Sara stirred then, and Valerie. Upon meeting the Kook, Valerie was intrigued, suddenly overjoyed with this new presence. Sara seemed resentful, retreating somewhat into the darkness.

"Dreamtime," Crystal whispered. "Dark dreamings of chaos..."

"Yes, little one," the Kook boomed. "Enough time has passed in dreamtime. We should be awake! *Awake!*"

Valerie sat up in bed, suddenly overwhelmed by thirst. She could smell her dinner, the rich warm smell of blood, somewhere nearby. She stood, dropping the sheets carelessly back onto the bed, drawn by the hunger, thinking only of satisfaction. Stalking quietly to the door to the darkened room, she tore it open, hinges pulling from the fragile wood, and grasped the girl who sat outside by the hair. She pulled her back into the darkness with a feral snarl and drank deeply of her blood. When the vessel was empty, she was only somewhat sated. Stepping into the hall, she breathed deeply. Kindred blood was in the air, and some mortal. And some with a rich taint to it that tantalized her senses. It was exactly what she desired.

She raced down the stairs, driven forward by pure instinct. When she reached the bottom she paused only long enough to again check the direction, then she began to stalk the scent. Moving on silent feet, she slowly traveled down the corridor, reaching one side of an open door.

Inside she could hear voices, two, and male. One scent was kindred, but the other that tantalizing odor. Smiling to herself, she quickly swung around the corner and pounced, arms and legs tangling around the stranger, teeth driving for the elixer to be found.

"Valerie!"

At the sound of a sharp voice calling her name, she stopped suddenly, head snapping up, eyes confused and hurt. Did she know this man? She merely growled and turned back to her meal.

Surprised that he had been unable to stop such a young vampire easily, Daniel stepped foward, a burst of strength rushing through him as he grabbed her shoulders and yanked her away. A thin trickle of blood slid down the prey's neck, and Valerie licked her lips at the sight. She'd had barely a taste and desperately desired more.

The man looked up at Daniel, who glared sternly at Valerie. Sighing, he looked back at his companion. "Jeff, we'll have to meet again tomorrow." He shook his hand warmly. "I am certain we can do business, but as you may notice, I have other matters that require my attention at the moment."

"Of course." Jeff stood, brushing himself off, his hair dropping to cover the already healing marks on his neck. Smiling, he asked, "Do you always have such problems with your people?"

"My people," there was the faintest of stresses on the first word, "are generally more than well-behaved, unlike others in this city. As are yours, from my observations. She is young, and needs training."

"Like any pup," Jeff agreed. "Then I will see you tomorrow."

The door shut with a final sound, and suddenly Sara was there, hands folded, expression contrite. "I was thirsty."

Daniel cocked an eyebrow. "It appears you were not dead."

"Dead?" She seemed curious. "You told me I'm a vampire. How could I die?"

"Do you remember seeing the sun?"

She shook her head, the matted and tangled silver curls covering her eyes, and listened silently as he explained what he had found. The Kook began to laugh. "A little suicide case. That explains so much. And couldn't even manage to do that right, either." Standing up, the Kook began to pace. "So, you're the Prince of this little town. What is it called? Boston? What is this, Boston?"

Daniel sighed, understanding lighting his eyes. He looked at the Kook much like Valerie's mother used to look at her daughter proclaiming that her name was Sara. Something in Sara recognized the expression as well, and she sat on the edge of his desk, calming suddenly.

"Yes, I am the Prince. And as such, you must obey me."

"Yes, sir," Sara answered softly.

"In *all* things," he warned darkly.

"Yes, sir," she agreed again.

He slowly smiled. A strange girl, and certainly one of the few members of that insane clan that he had ever met. But it appeared that she had hope, and perhaps, with time, he and Tiffany could integrate her into the society of kindred within the Boston area. In time.

And the Kook matched his smile, growing from Sara's gently upturned lips into a true grin of enjoyment. Such an adorable small town. The Prince would be no problem, and certainly no barrier to future power. And it would be the perfect setting to resume the Game.


Splintered Image is copyright 1995 by Deb Atwood. A single hardcopy is permitted for personal use only. Story may not be distributed without express permission of the author.