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Queen of Twilight chapter 8Chapter Eight • The Edge of Darkness
Johann yawned loudly, feeling his jaw pop. Rafael shot him a glare out of the corner of his eyes.
"What are you doing, making that much noise? Not getting tired, are you?"
"My shift's almost over," Johann muttered, sticking a finger under his gorget to scratch his neck. "I'm lookin' forward to a nice warm bed after standin' out here in the dark."
"Don't get lax!" Rafael hissed. "You know vampires attack almost exclusively at night! We must be exceptionally alert if we're to receive that promotion about which you've been whining so much recently."
"I don't whine," Johann protested. "But I do drink it."
"Pah," Rafael hissed. "The swill you have here isn't worthy of being called wine. Now the stuff the people back home in Champagne make—that's wine."
"Fancy-ass Frankland juice," Johann muttered. "I'd rather have you quote Sarafan rules to me than listen to your harping about how wonderful Frankland is."
The two men continued ar
Queen of Twilight chapter 6Chapter Six • Liquid Light
"It's dark and cold in here," Heidi complained, looking up and down the high-ceilinged hall. "And it smells funny."
"I can change the first two," Elsabett said, extending her hands up toward the torch-sconces along the walls. She concentrated, and small fireballs appeared in each one, individually shedding more light than two torches and together illuminating the hall nearly to the level of daylight. Verona hissed and drew back into a shadowy doorway.
"It's all right, Verona. It's only fire, not sunlight." The raven-haired vampress still looked distrustful, but took a tentative step back into the hall. Elsabett strode over to her mother, who was looking around in silence.
"Well, Mutti? Is it better than you expected?" she asked.
"I…Liebchen, I don't…I'm not sure what to think," the older woman said slowly. "But you're sure the Sarafan can't find us here?"
"The villagers around here have been trying to find this castle f
Queen of Twilight chapter 5Chapter Five • Moonlight
Elsabett spent most of the next month trying on dresses and ordering servants, as Vlad was unwilling to, as he put it, 'tire her out' with the art of swordplay. Kikuchi, however, was much more willing to help her train, and despite the fact that she could still understand very few of his words, she made tremendous progress. The gardener brought to Carpathia by Aleera turned out to be from the nation of Portugal, and explained that Kikuchi was able to speak Portuguese as well as his native tongue. He often served as translator, and the vampires of the castle began using him as an intermediate when studying Japanese with Kikuchi (whose given name, it seemed, was Issei. Why was his surname before his given name?).
It was early in the morning when Elsabett went to Dracula's chambers to intercept him. He was sitting forlornly on the edge of his coffin/bed, one hand pressed against his forehead. She hurried to his side and sat next to him.
Queen of Twilight chapter 4Chapter Four • Immolation
Elsabett's heart raced. "I—I am??" The other brides squealed delightedly. The Moonwitch spun to face them and folded her arms beneath her breasts.
"I know what you are thinking. She will not bear a child like the babes you have borne. You three are true vampires, and as such can give birth only to undead children. This woman carries a dhampir, who will be born alive." The three vampresses stared at her in shocked silence.
"But how can you be certain that it is—" Verona began, but Elsabett cut her off.
"I am certain," she said quietly. "I was a virgin. Vladislaus is the only man I have ever been with." The vampire mentioned suddenly burst out in triumphant laughter and engulfed Elsabett in a passionate hug. The elder brides slowly recovered from their surprise and descended on the happy pair, adding to the group hug. The Moonwitch sighed.
"I suppose it's best I be off then. But I shall return to examine her regularly. I've midwife
Queen of Twilight chapter 3Chapter Three • First Blood
The next week passed swiftly, occupied by Elsabett's exploration of the massive castle as well as her training and outfitting by her new family. Vlad was surprised to find how well she could handle a sword, and was even more impressed when she produced a handful of throwing knives and demonstrated her well-practised aim. Revelations seemed to come more often but were usually incomprehensible, slipping away from her consciousness like water between her fingers, and were sometimes accompanied by a sickness-like malaise.
'I can't be ill,' she thought, pressing her hands to her aching stomach, 'because I'm a vampire now. Vampires don't become ill. It must be homesickness. I do miss Mutti and my little brothers and sisters…but I can't visit them. Not yet, anyway.'
"When was it you last fed?" Marishka asked, quietly entering the room. "Vampires do not need to eat as often as humans do, but you should go hunting at least once a week
Queen of Twilight chapter 2Chapter Two • Reception
"Aleera, Marishka, Verona!" Vlad called as he and Elsabett landed on the rough-hewn balcony of a black spire sticking into the sky. "Come and meet your new sister!"
Shrieks of mixed joy and shock echoed from the depths of the tower as Vlad took Elsabett by the hand and led her down narrow spiral stairs. In a tiny yet lavish hall, she was greeted by the sight of three pale and slender women, one blonde, one red-haired, and one with hair as black as midnight. They rushed toward her in a cluster and scooped her up in a cold yet bizarrely affectionate vampire group-hug.
"Oh my lord, what is the occasion?" the redhead asked delightedly.
"You have not taken a bride in over a century," the one with dark hair said. "Why now?"
"Apparently, it was meant to happen," he said quietly, seeming particularly satisfied with himself for some reason. "Elsabett, allow me to introduce my other brides. Aleera the Bright, Marishka the Evenhanded, and Verona the Shadow. Thi
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