Saltwater spray filled the air as the young man stood on the wharf, staring at the hulking ship that was to take him to his new life, the only way he felt he would be safe from those hunting him. First thing he needed to do was to prove himself useful to the captain of the ship. Though he had spent most of his life near the sea, he had not had occasion to sail. His father had been a wealthy businessman and Xavier had been his companion on many voyages to places far away to inspect his investments. One man in particular had drawn his father’s attention, and they had followed closely his efforts to find a new trade route to the Orient. Captain Columbus had already proved himself in his travels to Africa, and now claimed he had a plan to find a safer route to the Orient and was seeking support.
Xavier recalled his father listening intently to the young captain, then giving his whole-hearted support. This faith led his father to follow him to Portugal, back to Italy, then eventually to Spain as Captain Columbus sought government backing for his proposed expedition. Since Queen Isabella had finally granted her approval, so many things had changed.
Xavier’s family had been murdered, and he had been attacked. The reason he had survived was the very reason he desperately needed to get out of Europe. His family had all been killed while they slept; his father, mother and siblings were all peacefully asleep while he had been lying awake, dreaming of the promises Captain Columbus had spoken of. Noises had drawn his attention back to reality and he had crept through the palazzo in search of the disturbance. He came upon a figure covered in a dark robe hovering over his sister. When he yelled and drew attention to himself, he realized what was happening. The robed stranger struck out in fury and attacked Xavier, biting his neck and drinking his blood,draining the life from him, then leaving him gasping for breath on the cool marble floor.
It was not until he had awakened a day later that he fully realized how his life would change. So many things were different. His once near sighted vision had become perfect, the respiratory ailment he’d suffered with his entire life seemed to have resolved, and upon inspection of his home, he found his entire family dead, all lying lifeless in their beds, drained of blood. Daily since then, Xavier cursed fate he not been asleep and died with his family. Now he was suffering the curse of the vampire, as his attacker had left him to become one of the Undead, rather than bring his life to an end.
Escape was his only choice. He had tried to kill himself every way he could imagine, but each only served to bring him immense discomfort and no closer to death. It was only a few days after his family was massacred when the vampire hunters appeared at his home. He had decided to fade into the surrounding woods, hiding from the household staff, trying to keep away from any who might know him. He struggled when the thirst came upon him, and had not managed to fight it for long, so he tried to stay away from those he knew and cared about in order to save himself the grief of killing a loved one. It was late evening when the hunters appeared. They were ruthless and brutal with the staff, striking them if they did not give the answers the hunters were looking for. Anger arose in him as they continued to mistreat people he had known his whole life. Watching from the dark courtyard, the last straw was when his childhood nurse was brutalized for not being able to tell of his whereabouts. Just as he was about to burst into the palazzo and kill the hunters for having mistreated his household, flames burst from one side of the courtyard. The heat of the fire scorched his skin, bringing blisters to the smooth white marble his skin had become. Sinking away from the heat, he watched in terror as his home went up in flames. Most of the staff made it out, and he tried to reach out to his old nurse as she hobbled from the steps. The hunters gathered calmly at the doorway as he fought his new self-preservative instincts to flee, lit by the inferno behind them like demons from Hell. They spotted him as he tried to help the old woman to safety. A cry went up when they spied him and the hunters were on him swiftly. He fought against them and was able to get away, but not before he saw his old nurse through with a sword. The evil glint in her murderer’s eyes froze him to the core.
There was nothing left for him in Italy now. He had run with a newfound speed through the mountains, the forests, and along the coast, moving only at night, using darkness as a cloak to his progress. Remembering the last words he and his father had shared, he hoped to be able to sign on and sail away from this accursed continent, away to some unknown place where he could live out his existence in ignorance and solitude, avoiding any more heartache.
This brought him to where he stood now, on the harbor in Spain, staring at three vessels destined for the unknown. He prayed Chris Columbus would remember his father fondly and grant him passage.