Within the confinement of the marble-covered building, Beliy Dom, the White House of Russia, I sat among the parliament members, listening without the slightest interest in their contents of the meeting.
"Grand Duchess, we would like to inform you of a few cases that you haven't reviewed from the past few years," one of the men spoke with a respectful bow. Moscow had a council with as much power as the government of a republic. The city was divided into ten districts and each elected its own council representative. Behind me was a white marble wall hung with the royal emblem of a two-headed eagle made of gold. I sat in my respective place, which was actually a throne for the Czar.
I sighed to myself, thinking of all the lineages and histories that had woven into this seat. I shifted my body uncomfortably. As the acting head of state, I couldn't really escape this horribly boring meeting.
"I have been waiting for you all to get to the point," I said at last. "My time is valuable to me if not to you, and you're wasting it."
My eyes still fixed on the view outside of the marble building, looking far across the city block to Chekhov House, which was one of my favorite places in Moscow.
"Forgive us, Your Highness," Konstantin, who was the general of our Ministry of Defense said. "I believe we're trying to get to them..."
"I'm afraid you may want to skip to the important parts before I lose my care altogether," I said again.
The pale man gave me a frown before turning back to his comrades. They shared a few whispering remarks and then turned back to me again.
"My apologies, Your Highness," he said again then cleared his throat. "As you insist, I would be brief with the issues. However, we also demand your attention for this is an important matter, not just for us, but for the whole Empire."
I tore my eyes back from the city vista. My steady gaze sent a wave of uneasiness to the men sitting around the table.
"You may proceed," I merely said.
Konstantin rose from his leather chair and went over to the other end of the room. The ceiling opened up and a large transparent crystal screen appeared. Then the light in the room dimmed down.
"We are constantly receiving rumors regarding the new creation of one of the Allied Nations," he said as he typed in several data on the transparent keyboard embedded on the table's surface. "German doctors and engineers had discovered ways to return their fallen soldiers from World War II. Under the patron of their Kaiser, they are using mechanical power and clockworks to restore the dead. These soldiers are kept alive by special stimulant gas."
I sat up, feeling rather surprised by what I had just heard.
"They refuse to disclose their motive times and times again," the pale vampire said. "But the fact that we are being threatened by their new invention is obvious. They are now building soldiers, deadlier than ever. The German Empire undoubtedly wishes to overpower the other Nations. We certainly cannot let them continue their act of treachery as it is against our agreement."
"However, Your Highness," Konstantin went on, "we have been preparing for this worst. Our Russian scientists are also conducting an experiment."
"What experiment?" I said with a curious frown.
"We call it, 'the Russian Sleep'," he said. "Our researchers have discovered a new method of improving the quality of human subjects," he went on and clicked on a slideshow. "We selected random humans and intoxicated them with an experimental drug."
Pictures flashed across the large transparent screen, showing a chamber with several humans inside. They were sleeping on metal beds and being monitored by a group of scientists through a one-way glass. There were various pipes attached to a large tube filled with a blue substance.
I watched and saw one of the test subjects started screaming as the red-eyed nurse injected something into the side of his neck. The screen flashed another picture of the improvement, showing the humans' transformation from frail and normal appearance to unrecognizable ones. Their eyes were all black with no white. Their skins were either green or blue in color. They hissed like snakes, showing their sharp jagged teeth that reminded me of reptile creatures.
"These subjects have their memories erased but are capable of following instructions," Konstantin continued. "They have developed immense strength, which is almost comparable to that of our kind. I think the humans can be a good asset to our military force if we turn them into..."
"Monsters?" I interrupted in disgust. "So the Germans are creating a new kind of monsters, and here we are trying to do the same thing?"
"Grand Duchess Anastasia," Konstantin said. "This action is necessary in order to ensure the future of our nation. No other countries dare to object to the Kaiser..."
"That doesn't mean we should exploit the humans more than we already have," I said.
"But Your Highness, the Kaiser's ambition is not the only problem now," the vampire said. "The Hunters are also our other main worry. In case you haven't been informed, our government has been in a serious struggle with their growing movement for many years. Therefore, I highly recommend this test study since it will definitely help us a great deal."
"Shut down the experiment," I said sternly, causing all the men around the table to look at me in surprise.
"But Your Highness..."
"Don't make me repeat myself, Konstantin," I said slowly, staring intensely at the council member. A long-suffering silence hung in the air.
Then with a loud sigh, Konstantin lowered his head. "Much obliged, Grand Duchess."
As everyone was still in deep bewilderment at my order, I stood up from my seat and walked out of the meeting without another word. Several other royal guards followed closely behind.
My heels clicked against the marble floor after I got out of the room through the enormous doors. Yet as I was leaving, I could still hear the disappointment inside.
"I can't believe she throws this away," one of them said in exasperation.
"Yes, it would have been better if Grand Duchess Alexandra were here instead," the other jumped in.
My hands balled into fists as I walked down the empty hall.
Strolling along the hallway of the Kremlin Palace, I could remember vividly all the events that took place in its five enormous reception halls. My family used to host elegant banquets and official ceremonies numerous times in here. Terem Palace could also be seen from one of the arched windows.Among the seven hundred rooms, one of them I recognized by heart. My hands pushed open its grand double door and then I stepped inside. The richly sculpted antique desk was set by the window. It had a large globe on one end and was usually littered with maps and papers.Behind it was a great curve-legged chair made of dark wood and painted in gold. I walked around my father's large office, taking in the unforgettable surroundings and recalling the day when I had burst into this room with my brand new China doll and asked my father to come and pl
Ostankino Palace was one of the most beautiful places outside the Kremlin Walls. Many stone mansions were made of white marbles and plaster-covered woods. It belonged to a count named Sheremetev back in the day. His servants performed plays for his wealthy friends in his beautiful Theater Hall. Obviously, the count was into classical music and dances. And that was what I was here for.After we stepped out of the car, I looked around the frozen manicured garden. Everywhere I turned was covered in deep white snow. The whiteness almost blinded me. Turning to a royal guard, I requested for a pair of sunglasses."Are you well?" Estella asked as I adjusted the shade on the bridge of my nose. Claire looked on with concerns but I just waved them off."You shouldn't let yourself weaken so much,
My eardrums almost burst from the sound of an explosion that echoed like a clap of thunders. A strong force hurled me against the wall along with various unidentified objects in the room.I collapsed onto the floor again with a thud. The stage was suddenly engulfed in flames. The chaos erupted. A few patches of flames scattered around the theater. Pieces of broken furniture laid everywhere.I painstakingly picked myself up off the floor as plumes of dark smoke thickened the hall. In the midst of havoc, I heard swift movements coming from the backroom.At the same time, a troop of royal guards burst into the theater through the front entrance. They started shouting out orders and immediately surrounding the damaged room. Then all I heard was shooting.
I woke up stiffly in the corner as the running truck came to a halt. The engine noise that had damned me throughout the restless night suddenly stopped.I bit my lips to minimize the flaring pain and forced myself to sit up. Then the heavy metal doors screeched open dryly.A burst of white light poked my hazy eyes. I winced and averted my face. My wounds had finally closed up, but the raw anguish still roamed my body like biting bugs.My silk shirt was ruined by sticky blood and now clung to my flesh. My injuries would take a few more hours in order to heal back to normal, yet I doubted that the Hunters would let me live to see another day.I heard them barking orders at each other for a few seconds before I realized what was happenin
VALERINAThose eyes.Those deep sad golden eyes were going to haunt me forever.The moment she grabbed me and kissed me, she had me deep down to my soul. Although I refused to admit that I had been claimed by this beautiful princess, I knew it was just my own denial, and I wish I could, for the life of me, escape from those eyes.But I knew it was too late.I was the moth and she was my deadly flame.Our hunters arrived at the main entrance at last. I slid down the back of my horse. Malena swung her legs over hers and jumped off gracefully. Then the stable boys came and t
AlexandraI was blindfolded and being led by Avery's gentle hand into the dining room."No peeking," she warned, sounding excited for some reason. I smiled blindly as I followed her."What are you hiding?" I asked, laughing at the amusing behavior of my lover. Then the delicious smell invaded my nose. Avery lowered me into a chair and started to remove my blindfold."Can I open my eyes now?" I said after she moved away."Yes, you may open your eyes now," Avery said with a giggle and I did.I realized then that setting before me was an elegant banque
The feeling of warmth and contentment I had from last night still enveloped me. Stretching myself on the bed, I blindly grabbed the familiar angelic form under the blanket. A smile curved itself on my lips when my eyes opened and gazed down Avery's smooth naked back. She lay on my chest with one of her hands placed nicely on my left breast."You're awake now, Alex?" her soft melodious voice said to my surprise.Her legs shifted around, brushing gently against mine as they got intertwined. I ran my fingers over her smooth silken skin. Avery slowly lifted her face to look at me with a smile. Her bright violet eyes pierced through the early dawn. I gave a sleepy smile back. She pecked me on my lips and butterfly kisses all over my face and my exposed chest. I gathered her back into me and tightened my hold around her body.
AnastasiaIt was a brisk quiet afternoon of the following day when I opened my heavy eyelids again. The light of the winter sun peered over the snow-covered horizon.The hunters had escorted me to a heavily guarded wing of the castle the night before. I was allowed to stay in a dark chamber with one arched window overlooking a large common square at the east.The chamber smelled like dead autumn leaves when I first stepped in, but it had a cozy atmosphere. I could see from the window a cluster of small stone houses below, stretching out into the dark green wilderness.The mist had cleared outside the frosted glass, but the chill hadn't ceased from the