Chapter 1: Beginings
*~ Part 1: Carlisle ~*
Chapter 1: Beginnings
December 5, 1778
Boston, Massachusetts colony
I remember my birth. I remember looking into my mother's eyes for the first and last time. I remember my father's murder of her in front of my newborn eyes. I remember crying for the first time when he held me in his cold arms. I remember him abandoning me in a snowy forest the very day of my birth.
No one bothered to grant me a name, so I took one for myself – Cornelia. I am a hybrid: the once-in-a-million chance of human/vampire procreation. My birth occurred on the fifth day of December in the year 1778, in an English colony called Massachusetts. The War for Independence between Britain and her New World colonies had just began there.
To my knowledge, my mother was an 18-year-old girl from Boston, who, in an attempt to flee the chaos that the fighting provoked, was sexually violated by a vampire. In the frenzy of the War, no one seemed to notice that the girl went missing during my time in her womb. I don't know why my father allowed my mother to give birth; this has always been a mystery to me.
As if fighting for dominance over my immortal half, my human hormones gave me a great burst of growth in my early life. Resulting, I aged much faster than human children did. The midwife who'd taken me in told me I had a terrible illness, and raised me with care and compassion for this very reason. However, there was a massive outbreak of smallpox in my hometown during that time, and my new mother soon took ill and perished.
I lost my humanity in the year 1785, when I reached human maturity at the age of seven. Vampire venom flooded my system, changing me into what I truly am. The pain stayed for hours – perhaps a full day, though the memory is not clear to me. I do know that I found refuge in a grass clearing in the forest, near dusk on a cool September evening. The weather didn't matter to me then; the fire was all-pervasive.
I have been told, since that time, that the experience was equivalent to what humans undergo during the transformation into a vampire. You see, I favor my father. When I stopped aging, my body system began producing venom. Human blood still flows through my veins, but the venom also sustains my life. It's almost as though life and death were crammed into one body. Resulting, my heartbeat slowed immensely that day. The venom made me incredibly strong – even stronger than pure-blood vampires. The change gave me incredible energy; I felt the need to sleep only once a week. My senses were also heightened, much like my strength. Due to my slowed heartbeat, my skin was slightly cooler than a human's. My flesh was half as solid as a vampire's, and it shimmered faintly in the sunlight. My speed was also not as great, favoring my mother.
As I said, life and death in one body.
I suppose I fell asleep sometime during the night on that September evening, long after the pain stopped, for it was daybreak by the time I awoke. The bright light warming my eyelids caused me to open them. What I beheld was something I'd never experienced before. Colors and lights danced before my new eyes, blinding me with their intense spectrum; hundreds of thousands of sounds buzzed in my ears, and fragrances assaulted my nose.
What's happened to me?
As far as I knew at the time, I'd been completely normal. Other than my rapid growth, I was completely human in appearance and abilities. I had yet to encounter any sort of supernatural elements, so the experience was strange and new to me. Nevertheless, I stood slowly to inspect the new abilities of my body. I heard the heartbeats and breathing of animals in the woods distinctly – a few squirrels, a herd of deer, and many different birds. I took a deep breath, startled by the hundreds of scents around me… fresh grass, honeyed lilacs, spicy oaks.
However, one scent stood out to me in particular. I followed the faint trail and discovered it to be a small red fox, pawing at the ground. My new instincts asserted themselves. Drink, drink, drink. Without thought, I pounced, snapped its neck, and licked at the red liquid that dripped from the fresh wound. It tasted sweet and refreshing, and it filled every one of my senses until I could take no more. I pulled away once I'd satisfied myself, and stood over the corpse.
I suddenly came back to myself. Gasping in shock, I stepped away from the broken body and blood-stained grass. I stumbled back to the clearing, disgusted with myself. What have I done? I raked my memory for guidance, and came up with a single event...
My father took my mother in his arms shortly after my birth, burying his face in her neck. Her scream of pain didn't last long as her flushed cheeks slowly drained of color.
I violently shook my head to dismiss the grotesque image, feeling my eyes swell with tears.
My hands were stained red, disgusting me further. I found that the front of my dress was also dyed crimson with the fox's blood. After a few moments of growing desperation, I began to follow the distinct sound of living water. A mile's walk revealed a small brook flowing through the forest. I rinsed my soiled clothes in the chilly water, occasionally drinking some to clear the taste of blood from my mouth. Though it had satisfied me immensely, the very thought was sickening. I scowled at my reflection in the water, noticing changes these as well.
My small cheekbones were more defined than before, and my lips had darkened a shade or two. Though my features in general were small, it appeared that my skin had tightened around my cheeks and jaw. My complexion was chalky as though I had been very ill. The only feature that remained the same was my light brown hair, falling to my elbows in thick, tangled clumps. My hazel eyes were clouded with a light honey color, forming around my pupils in golden flecks. I wondered how the color got there, and if it would eventually overtake my entire irises.
Before I could ponder my eye color any longer, my sensitive nose picked up a strange scent. I was hesitant to follow it... I didn't want to attack anything again. The scent led me back to the clearing where I had lain in misery for those days. I stopped just inside tree line and observed three figures looming about in the bright grass. Sun reflected off their pale skin as though it was glass, sending rays of light glimmering throughout the clearing. A gasp escaped me, and three pairs of crimson eyes flashed to my hiding place. My instincts screamed for me to flee as those eyes faded to a bottomless black.
Their advance was faster than anything I'd ever seen before, quickly limiting my escape routes to zero. "What are you?" I said as I stumbled back, breathless with sudden fear. They circled me as if I were an animal, their menacing snarls inhuman and terrifying. I looked to each one helplessly as two of the three crouched as if to spring.
My instincts guided me into a defensive stance, and I was surprised by a faint growl rumbling in my chest. I'm just as much an animal as they are. Then, the third one sprang at me. My hands rose reflexively to block the attack as a scream built in my throat. Instead of feeling the impact that I expected, I felt a cool tingle on the palms of my hands, and heard a whooshing sound... then what sounded like a large rock falling the ground.
When I looked up, I saw a light mist in front and above me, then, slowly, as I gazed about myself, it formed all around me. The man who had attacked me was now on the ground, which accounted for the loud thud, looking rather confused. The two others slowly approached the mist. I put my hands down and once again stood defensively. As I did so, the mist disappeared and the two men stumbled forward as if they had been... leaning on it?
The third suddenly sprang at me again, weighing me easily to the ground with his knees on my shoulders. I quickly found that my strength overpowered his, so I pushed him away with one, mighty heave. I scrambled to my feet as he regained his footing, but I was suddenly detained by the other two, who grabbed me roughly by the arms. I struggled to free myself to no avail – I stood no chance against their doubled power.
A frightened shout left my lips as the third returned, standing close enough that I could smell him. His scent was sweet and spicy. Towering above my small stature, he curled his icy fingers behind my neck, sending a wave of awareness through my body. He whispered a single word in a strange language, and leaned his face towards mine as if to kiss me. I soon discovered that his actual target was my neck...
The sound of swift feet on the forest floor alerted me to several new presences approaching. The man strafed back from me and sniffed the air, scowling. The howl of a wolf split through the cool morning air, rising every hair on my head. The two others dropped my arms and stepped away, panic flashing through their eyes just before they bolted through the trees. I sniffed the air; the scent of cherry wood and earth grew nearer as the howls grew louder. I stumbled back from my one remaining attacker, looking eagerly in every direction. What horrible thing could possibly make those creatures run? Should I be scared, too?
My attacker was suddenly swept away by a flash of brown fur. I whimpered in fear, vaguely recognizing the beast as a large bear. Growls and yaps filled the trees around me, and I realized that I was surrounded by the beasts. Cherry wood and earth. My knees trembled weakly as I forced myself to remain standing. When one of the beasts turned its head in my direction, I discovered it was not a bear, but...
"A wolf..." My voice spoke the truth, but my eyes simply wouldn't believe it. The giant brown wolf clamped its jaws around the man's shoulder, and a deafening screech filled my ears as it ripped the man's torso in half. Think, dark blood sprayed across the sunlit grass. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the horrific scene, so I clutched my ears tightly; my head felt as though it would explode. A black wolf trotted toward the carnage, its teeth barred as it growled ferociously.
As the tears, growls, and yells continued, I felt my terror build up inside me, threatening to conquer me. Stop! I sunk to the ground and covered my head with my arms, clenching my teeth together and squeezing my eyes shut. Please, stop!
After one last blood-curdling howl, silence descended over the forest.
I held my breath as I heard the heavy paws approaching me, hoping that I would somehow disappear. My heart mercilessly pounded the inside of my ribcage, echoing in my ears like a drum. It's over as soon as it began, my mind screamed, I'm going to die now!
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