Chapter 1.40 – Better Days

Warning: sexual assault/abuse. Also depression, murder.

Charlotte Vatore found the girl giving birth in the grounds of the house and took the baby as her own. She spared the young whore a stint in The Tower; punishment that Wilbert Wangshaft, the village leader, deemed fitting for having a child out of wedlock.

Charlotte did not act selflessly. She had always longed for a child, but Silas would not give her one. He was waiting for the right one. A boy from good human stock that he could twist into his image. He did not want the unremarkable daughter of a common prostitute.

Charlotte convinced him that fate had brought this baby to her, that she would be no trouble and he reluctantly submitted.

And so, these vampires became my parents. They named me Lilith, meaning of the night.

I led a sheltered, secretive life. Father was the only one of us permitted to leave the grounds. I read a lot. I gossiped with the village girls who had been stolen as food. I lost myself in music. I dreamed of freedom, of better days.

Father was never very keen on me. I know exactly why he kept me around. He wouldn’t bother to mesmerise me before he drank from me so, unfortunately, I remember all of his invasions.

Eventually, I learned that my fear was what really did it for the sick monster and learned to numb myself, reducing his attacks significantly.

Mother really could be quite loving in her aloof way. But she was bound to him, he owned her, body and mind. She couldn’t help me without him knowing. Couldn’t save me, or herself.

My solace was Nathaniel.

He came by, innocently, one day to sell candles and he never left. Typically, food was female; it catered better to the desires of the male-dominated vampire world. But Mother wanted to keep Nathaniel.

A most sumptuous meal, Silas. Nothing else.

You can’t keep every waif and stray who turns up at the door, Charlotte.

But what harm could a timid, teenage boy possibly cause? Especially against someone as mighty as you.

Oh, she was good. Despite his complete lack of compassion for anyone else, Father always melted like butter for her.

I know that he could see how Nathaniel and I looked at each other. The stolen glances and touches that made my heart flutter. He’d beat the poor boy, assert his dominance.

But doesn’t forbidden fruit always taste the sweetest?

I was fourteen when the whore returned, another baby in her arms. This time, Father was delighted with her offering. This baby was beautiful, the child of a handsome noble, he was informed. This was the son that he had always wanted. The one worthy of the Vatore name. The canvas for his masterpiece.

As gratitude to the whore for bringing him this sacred gift, this wonderous gift, he slayed her.

Mercy he had said.

He would raise the boy in his own dark shadow. Caleb would be tormented until he was as much of a monster as Father was.

When he wasn’t training for greatness with Father, Caleb was doted on by Nathaniel and the female food. Or Molly and Winnie, as I called them.

I always got a beating or a draining for using their real names, so I always used their real names. I figured that if Father disagreed with me, I was probably in the right. Besides, they weren’t food to me. I was still human. Often, they were all I had.

With Father’s focus now on destroying his infant son, I can’t say I was surprised when the most esteemed of guests arrived. Father called it a great honour but I called it a case of not knowing what else to do with me. I was already unusual in that I was a female who had been raised from birth by vampires. Typically, they would only raise boys and a male vampire would just steal a pretty human girl when he wished to take a bride. And, thanks to his tormenting me, I was far too cold and numb for Father to enjoy as food.

He had offered me for marriage.

To Vladislaus.

Vladislaus was as arrogant as he was ugly. Like I was cattle at a market, Vladislaus stood before me and told Father that, as interesting as I was, I was plain, that he thought he could do better. I was never very good at biting my tongue. I told the Grand Master Vampire, Vladislaus Straud, that he looked like a constipated troll and I’d rather marry a pig.

Father quickly interjected that I was exceptionally delicious and he was confident that my edges would be softened when we were bound. Vladislaus said that he quite liked the idea of crushing me until my spirit died. He would return to his mansion and prepare to accept me.

Wonderful. Now I would spend a couple of years being dined on and assaulted by a different monster. Society vampires were traditionally turned aged eighteen. This allowed them enough time as humans to pick up crucial social skills and practice restraint; both things that a vampire brain could not learn. Wildness was uncouth; it was for rogues. As I was to be a bride, my turning would take place during a glorious ceremony where guests would witness as I was fully drained and given the kiss of death. When my transformation was complete, I would have the displeasure of seeing Vladislaus naked; becoming his possession and getting to share him for eternity with his two other pitiful wives.

I was delighted by this.

Father had given me a particularly deep draining that evening, as punishment for my insubordination, and had retired to his chambers to brood.

Mother cornered me as I made my way to see Nathaniel.

She offered me her wrist. A way out.

An unbound, female vampire was almost unheard of. My fifteen year old brain buzzed with possibility: I would start my own coven, change the whole patriarchal structure! Live in harmony with humans! Change the world!

I giddily accepted her offer.

Naturally, Father knew instantly, but the damage was done. Vladislaus would not want me now. No man will.

On my sixteenth birthday, Father summoned me. I expected him to outright banish me, but instead he congratulated me. He would wish me well and allow me freedom, I just had to do one small thing first.

I had to kill Nathaniel.

If I didn’t, he would finish us both. He would rip us apart, fibre by fibre and he would make sure Mother and Caleb watched every second.

I took Nathaniel to my room. So many times had I fantasised of bringing him in here. I barely had fangs and my thirst hadn’t developed; caught in that awkward stage somewhere between vampire and human. I didn’t even know if I could drink from him, let alone drain him completely. Of course, Father knew that. It was a ruse. He could not let me simply walk free. We were both as good as dead.

I moved in towards Nathaniel, tenderly, as I had seen Mother do to him so many times before.

And he kissed me.

He held me tight against him as his mouth moved with mine. His frantic hands were in my hair, under my skirts. He pulled me onto his lap.

I had dreamed this moment. Yet, I protested.

Not now! Not like this!

Then when, Lil?

Oh my word.

I didn’t want him to ever stop. I didn’t want to think of what would happen next. Alas, even though I was apparently very plain and we couldn’t get my ridiculous dress off, he was still only a teenaged boy. It didn’t last anywhere near as long as I had hoped.

Nathaniel told me that he loved me. That he would allow me to take his life if I promised that I would preserve the lives of countless others, by whatever means necessary.

Oh, the lovely fool. I promise.

My tiny fangs broke his skin, but no blood came out. As I pulled back and tried to think what to do, I noticed flames through the glass behind him.

We looked out onto a sea of torches as villagers stormed along the pathway towards the house. Wangshaft at the helm.

Nathaniel took my hand. We ran through the house to the servant’s quarters, where Molly cut me out of my dress and blushed furiously as she found Nathaniel some clothing.

Father was a powerful vampire, but he had a huge weakness.

Winnie had found my brother, crying in Father’s chambers and under the protection of the humans, I escaped.

Winnie offered to keep Caleb as her own, raise him with his kind. I was happy to accept.

As I kissed my brother good-bye it dawned on me. The puncture wounds on his little wrist. How limp and listless he was. The tell-tale black ash around his cherub lips.

Father could not simply let me walk free.


Winnie and Molly returned to the families they were taken from. Nathaniel, Caleb and I enjoyed better days, together.

I knew one day I would lose Nathaniel, but he did not want to become a vampire. Why would he? He could see how I struggled. At first, I barely required to drink. The thirst got worse as I got older. Nathaniel would offer himself to me, but I could only take a little. He needed to be clear-headed enough to work, to keep our cover.

Caleb was growing up. From anyone looking on, his development appeared quite normal. He was fast, strong, charming and certainly not stupid. But unfortunately, emotional awareness and restraint were alien concepts to him. Unnecessary to his wild vampire brain. Unable to form bonds with anyone he hadn’t known as a human, people viewed him as disconnected and careless and avoided him.

As he became a hormone-driven teenager, he finally found a way to bond with these strange humans.

Well, half of them, at least.

They were usually very willing; taken in by his looks and what they saw as his rebellious nature, but the way he treated those girls made me feel so ashamed. Broken dolls. He would try to feel remorse when I explained how he had hurt them and he would listen to me if I managed to intervene. But left to his own devices, he would not consider the consequences. He would always lose control.

I learned how to handle the irate fathers who came looking for him. I would tend the bruises, dry the tears and soothe the broken hearts of all the girls he left behind.

His antics took up most of my time and he became my sole focus. Time was running out; he’d soon develop his thirst for blood. I tried to explain how to exercise control, how to read people, but it was a slow process and I wished I could just show him. Pick up my memories and my understandings and place them in his head. If I could reform him he would be a great advertisement for us. The humans wouldn’t have to be afraid of vampires any longer! Even the rogue ones could be made safe.

He wanted to be the poster boy of the revolution. So he tried. He really did.

When his thirst arrived, I made him stay home. Afraid that if I let him out he’d be bringing back worse than a crying girl for me to tend to. He trusted that I knew what was best for him and he didn’t argue. I would bring him a human to dine on and I would direct him safely as he drank. I set off into the night to find him dinner, but a storm meant that the streets were deserted. It took much longer than expected.

Nathaniel was far too trusting when he offered himself. He thought Caleb would only take a bit, like I used to. That their bond meant that he was safe.

Without Nathaniel, we struggled, both financially and socially. Unable to go out in the day, I was resigned to earn money, however I could, by night. I sold all our creature comforts and I stole from the humans I drank from. The villagers became suspicious of us. We’d burn ourselves in the sunlight and spend money we didn’t have to buy food we couldn’t eat, just to keep up appearances.

Caleb knew he had done wrong but he couldn’t process it. Am I a monster, Lil? He would leave for days at a time and he’d return battered and distraught. Wild. Rogue. I suspected that he was actively trying to end his existence, but I couldn’t be sure. He had stopped talking to me. Stopped trying to change. Given up.

Nothing had gone the way I had planned in my naïve youth. Teetering on the edge of losing my own mind, I had never been so afraid, so desperate, so alone.

Exactly what a certain someone was looking for. What did I have to lose?

Even the rogue ones could be made safe.

I would preserve the lives of countless others, by whatever means necessary.

I promise.

28 thoughts on “Chapter 1.40 – Better Days

  1. Oh boy. I might need to read this again just to make sure I haven’t glossed over anything, what a packed chapter!

    Firstly, although this is barely significant, I appreciate the little touch that Wangshaft punished having a child out of wedlock – oh the irony.

    So Lilith and Caleb are technically siblings through their mother. That’s one question answered.

    Lilith obviously had a grim time growing up, not something to be wished in anyone. But it’s interesting it didn’t break her. Her “mother’s” influence must have had quite an impact, as did all the food companions.

    Aww, poor Nathaniel, I guess he got to live longer than he would have in Silas’s original plan, even got brief happiness with lilith. But damn.

    Well, I guess that’s the answer as to why Caleb still listens to Lilith as if he needed her permission for everything. Doesn’t entirely justify why she never let go of trying to control him, though – even though I can understand it more – as far as we can tell, she succeeded. While we don’t quite get told what happens next, we don’t fully need to – clearly, Lilith didn’t have her crazy mind-intruding abilities before getting involved with Seth, and we have been told one has to lose a lot of humanity to gain those kinds of powers, so I can guess how things went after that in Lilith’s pursuit of “getting through” to Caleb with Seth’s “help.”

    Obviously Lilith’s method must have worked, given that we see Caleb is capable of forming relationships now, however questionable. What’s even more interesting is that he has learned to block Lilith out of his mind, given that her intrusions would have been what instilled his “humanity” into him. I could follow that thread of thought, possibly even answer my own question about Lilith from the paragraph above, but this has already turned into an essay, so I won’t 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know its loads. Lilith is not the kind to spew her life story to others, so this seemed like the best way to do it as she holds some crucial information, being one of the last ‘society vampires’ remaining. There are so many juicy little tidbits I had to chop because it was turning into its own novel. I’ll try and get some of them in as fun flashbacks down the line. You’ve got what you need, for now. 😁

      Nothing is -ever- insignificant in AE!

      Yes, both the babies of the village, um… ‘working woman’. Lilith’s birth father must’ve been quite the looker because as a baby she was so ugly, OMG the faces she made. 😂

      An upbringing that made her hate vampires, men and vampire men and gave her a burning desire to crush the lot of them. I relate.

      Did you recognise ‘poor Nathaniel’?

      No, correct, it doesn’t explain why she won’t get off his back. He’s clearly got some restraint now, can form some sort of relationship and is capable of feeling, however unnatural and difficult it still is for him to pick up on the feelings of others’. We cut away with a lovely shot of Seth’s face so I’m sure he will enlighten us all in his caring, thoughtful and not at all biased way soon.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, I’m assuming Seth was very “helpful” in showing Lilith how to gain more powers in order to try to get through to Caleb more directly, they probably went on plenty of murder sprees together, and she probably even found she enjoyed it to a degree – which I bet Seth would be happy to remind her. If I had to guess Lilith probably decided to abandon that while she still had a shred of humanity left in her to hang on to, whether she thought she’d been successful with Caleb’s transformation or not. Because while she may have considered her humanity a reasonable trade-off for getting his, it’s not really acceptable if neither of them have any. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seth somehow believes that he’s the one that got screwed over in the whole thing. But that’s all speculation, of course.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “Remember when we used to make love under the stars atop a pile of dead bodies? Those were the days…”
              Interesting theories. Very interesting indeed. Have you listened to Seth and Lilith’s songs? 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  2. My gods, this was dark. So that’s why Lilith is so hell-bent on keeping Caleb in check. Not only was his mind stunted in a way that made it almost impossible for him to learn self-control, but she made a promise to her first love to keep more people from getting hurt. And then she lost him to the very kid that she was trying to raise. That is horrible. Poor Lilith.

    I love how much thought you’ve put into this, with the lore about developing social skills and restraint before turning into a vampire, and that vampires can’t learn it. Which makes Caleb’s current behaviour with April very interesting. Was he unable to restrain himself during drinking, or unable to restrain himself at all? Because despite Lilith’s knowledge and convictions it does seem like current Caleb is different from the teenage/young adult Caleb who had no restraint whatsoever. He seems capable of forming relationships now, too. Perhaps it just takes much, much longer than it would with a developed human brain?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry. I know it’s dark. The whole ‘society’ was a justification for control and abuse under the guise of structure and tradition. Vampires by default are not great creatures.

      Aw thanks. I figured that to be a successful vampire you only really needed to be able to hunt mercilessly. No need for pesky emotions; don’t want to be sympathising with your prey. Indeed, it is interesting. Perhaps. He managed to block Lilith at some point and she decided to regain humanity even though she clearly doesn’t see him as fully reformed. I’m sure it’s all connected somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, don’t get me wrong! It was a very strong chapter – I ended up reading it three times just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. So many tidbits of information. Maybe I should start keeping a notebook for AE, too, haha.

        I’m sure you know exactly how it’s all connected and are going to spring it on us with a gut-punch of a plot twist at some point, no? xD I’m looking forward to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am very glad you shared this chapter. It gave quite a bit of a feel for what tragedies are lurking in Lilith and Caleb’s past.

    Lilith’s mother has apparently shown her a lot of care, under the limited possibilities she had. Trapped in a marriage with a man who controlled both her agency and her thoughts. It runs cold down my spine.
    Lilith has had opportunities to develop her humanity, even though she has been sexually and violently abused by her “father”. It requires an exceedingly strong personality.
    Lilith’s mother saves her from a violent marriage with Vlad and at the same time inflicts an eternal curse on her …. If you think that vampirism is a curse.
    I admire Lilith’s struggle to create a new world order in the sign of humanity. It is understandable that Nathaniel adores her.

    Caleb starts his life under the power of violence. One can imagine that he has suffered an irreparable emotional damage that Lilith’s and Nathaniel’s care cannot erase.
    Lilith fails to prevent the disaster and Caleb predicts Nathaniel’s death.
    Caleb understands least of all the powers he contains.
    One understands what it is that rests like a shadow over Lilith’s and Caleb’s sibling relationship. Lilith’s anger and Caleb’s shame. That Caleb tries to drown out his shame by seducing girls and the enjoyment of the moment only underscores his immaturity.

    Hm! This was a long series of thoughts that are probably not very interesting.
    The only one I can not yet get hold of is Seth.
    I need to know more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your thoughts are always interesting! Your observations are always accurate and quite poetic. Nobody had a great start and so the trend continues.

      Seth will be revealed, but slowly. He’s skilled at exploring the minds of others but his own? Not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok wow. I didn’t realise I was away from the forums so long that I have to play catch up.

    Anyway I have this huge essay written here about this chapter, but I’m going to go ahead and check out the next chapter so hopefully that will minimize this this massive lug of words. Although I’m expecting it to increase instead haha. Just want to put this here first,

    Damn Nathaniel you poor soul. Am so glad the head of vamps are dead.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Whew! That got dark but I LOVED it! You’ve added so many elements of psychology and human drama and really dug into the horror genre within the Vatore back story. The dynamic between Caleb and Lilith makes so much more sense now. I can’t wait to learn more about Seth and Lilith’s history!

    Also, maybe this is because I have a thing for bad boys, but I’m really hoping Seth turns out to have some redeemable qualities and is not just a mind-raping vampire version of Will.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh yes, I’m really glad we got to see a flashback of Lilith’s upbringing. It definitely sheds a lot of light on who she is as a person. It has answered a few of my questions too. I really like Lilith, and she is a very strong person to go through everything she has had to go through. And losing Nathaniel was heartbreaking, but it explains why she is kind of controlling with Caleb.

    So Lilith and Caleb are half-siblings, that makes sense. I liked the vampire lore too, that Caleb continued to grow to an adult after he was bitten and that vampires lose some of their self-control. It explains why Caleb is a little emotionally stunted, but it seems like he has grown a little. And then what does this mean for the girls. Will they eventually lose some of their humanity, like Lilith did?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Holy ?$!&

    Okay, I see how all these characters are in shaped by their parents whether that be through their brutality (Caleb, Lilith), cruelty (April), inability (Faith), or warm/loving presence (Melinda). They ostensibly have the gift of immortality but they are still trying to patch those wounds. It’s not that April et al are young, look at Caleb and Lilith.

    I think I understand them both a little better. As always, this is a dope chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You know I’m always delighted to find that all my questions and theories I have while reading this story are addressed sooner or later ❤
    Lilith indeed had to carry a lot of responsibility and burden from already such a young age. And now I see Caleb was turned even younger than I expected, in that regard, I think Lilith did quite a great job helping Caleb to become more responsible over time, and he did quite well. It must be like working with a severely mentally disabled person, it's quite a daunting task 😔
    I can only admire her.

    On the other hand, I'm delighted to see that Seth most likely was quite a psycho already when he met Lilith 😁

    Like

  9. Okay. So much info right here… So much lore. 😀

    So first things first, the Tower. This sounds like the Tower is a prison and I guess we now know why poor Rose was in there, too. That´s just so unfair it hurts. It also means that we know even less about her life before than I thought. But then again, if she lived in a town ruled by a power abusing… mayor, I guess and in the shadow of vampires, then I feel like it´s a safe bet that her life hadn´t been very happy overall. 😦

    Then, Lilith… well. That does explain a lot. Why she´s so cold. Why she was so strong. She´d started loosing her humanity before ever becoming a vampire in the first place. *shakes head* And learn how to work with her own mind. I bet that gave her a headstart.

    I bet Caleb looking the way he does isn´t helping anything either. Why does he look so much like his sire anyway? I understand the dark form but this? Hmm, maybe its because he´d been so little.. and it makes me think about another thing. Vampires are immortal. It would stand to reason that, if a child becomes one, they would take much longer to grow up. Basically, I suspect that Caleb /is/ the equivalent of a human teenager still. Maybe his current progress isn´t even Lil´s doing, maybe he´s just finally growing up on his own.

    And then we get a hint of Seth´s involvement. That´s starting to make a lot of sense at least. He did what one of her parents should have. He taught her, didn´t he? Showed her how to use her powers, how to even get her powers… so she could help Caleb. As Caleb said, there “had to be sacrifices” except they didn´t include him. They were for him, and they didn´t help any, anyway. Oh, this is difficult. I understand how Lilith would feel cheated, because she did give up a lot and still didn´t reach any of her goals. At the same time, from Seth´s perspective, he pretty much saved Lilith. Taught her as much as she could learn, gave her the tools she needed to achieve what he must have thought was a silly goal in the first place and what did he get? Scorn, probably. She did the cardinal mistake of trying to change him, too, didn´t she? Gah. Like that /ever/ works. I see Caleb and April are by far not the first trainwreck relationship around here.

    Oh, yeah. And there´s the Vlad cameo you mentioned, too. Let´s just… forget that happened, shall we? : x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lore galore. I know. I learned my lesson and I do try to sprinkle it through later chapters rather than, y’know, chucking at you from a huge bucket. 😆

      There’s a lot more to Rose’s story than what we’ve had, but yeah, The Tower is not a great place.

      “She´d started loosing her humanity before ever becoming a vampire” This! 🏆 Severe implications for trying to ‘regain what she lost’, for sure.

      Why does he look so much like his sire? Well, Silas was very quick to snatch him up with no proof of his parentage, so he clearly recognised something in him. I probably won’t elaborate on this in the story as it’s unlikely to be relevant, so here’s a fun fact for you; they are biologically related, Caleb and Silas. Well, they were. Obviously Silas is very dead now, not just sort of dead. I tend to think of Caleb as looking about nineteen, acting about seventeen, but with elements of ‘toddler’. It’s certainly an experience to write for him. 🤣 So yes, is this natural progress for a vampire turned as a toddler? Was it Lilith’s doing that helped him to mature while hindering his social skills? Or does this all have something to do with three new vampy ladies arriving on the scene? Time will tell…

      You’re getting a lot from the vagueness I’ve given you of Seth and Lilith and I really -really- want to, but I can’t elaborate any of that now, so: 🤐

      Hahahaha! Vlad’s cameo involved him being told that he looked like a constipated troll. He was not pleased.

      Like

      1. Heh, bucket. XD

        Yeah, big holes. I see ´em. Wasn´t sure if they were important enough to fill, but yep. There´s a lot of important/interesting stuff that can still hide in there.

        …yea. That can get very painful, very swiftly.

        Oh, I see. So our unnamed nobleman was a blood relation, ech? No wonder Silas was so eager to sort of “adopt” Caleb. Heh, yea. I /should/ give you props for being able to write all that awkward. Must be so much more painful to write than read. And.. dang. I forgot about /that/ part. Yeah, we´ll get to that part.

        *laughs* Oh, those two characters are really coming to life. Lilith more, of course, we did get a lot on her by now… Seth involves more guess work and I might be completely wrong about him somewhere, but… the assumptions come very easily. He sure makes a certain kind of impression.

        I bet. Even worse, she got away with it. X´D

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Big holes? 😇

          Oh my gosh. If you ever read a bit and you just want to die of embarrassment, I’ve probably already died over it a few times. I don’t know why I do this to myself. 🤣

          Do not fear! You get a lot more on Seth in book two. All the Seth.

          Like

          1. …more like one huge nothing until she got preggers and then locked up. Yep, totally lots of room to put important info in.

            Heh, I´m less “dying of embarrassment” girl and more like an eyeroll girl. You do manage to make even the awkward actually sort of funny, though. Definitely not something that could be said for the sort of guys that apparently inspired Will. ;D

            *grin* Figured we would, eventually. But you know what? The guessing game is fun too. /Everything/ about this story is fun. Except the bits that are tragic. But you know what I mean.

            Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: