(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard, and Lena was written by Sharon Lipman.)
Lena made her past the heaving dance floor and the bar, over to the booths at the back of the club, bottle of Tequila and a shot glass in hand. Ryver sat with his arm slung across the back of the tatty seat, long legs crossed at the ankle and his boots making a dent in the leatherette seat. A sly grin crept across his face as she approached. Granted, he had managed to secure one of the booths with slightly less gaffer tape holding it together than some of the others, but she still didn’t understand what he was doing back here. He normally sat at the bar where the music was louder, almost deafening so he couldn’t hear the random thoughts being spewed out by the dyed hair, colored contact-wearing clientele.
She plonked herself down next to his outstretched legs. “Why are you sitting back here?” she asked.
“I thought this was better than sitting at the bar.”
Lena felt her brow furrow. “Better for what?”
The grin on Ryver’s face widened. “You’ve forgotten, haven’t you?”
Lena’s head dropped as a heavy weight settled within her. “That’s tonight?”
Ryver took the bottle of Tequila and poured her a shot. “Yup.”
Lena downed the shot, the burning liquid helping banish some of the paranoia creeping up her spine. She looked at her friend. “Why me?”
Ryver shrugged. “Not for me to say, Lena. Who knows why the Scribe does what she does. She said it has to be you, so that’s it.”
At the mention of the Scribe, the weight sitting on her chest seemed to get heavier. She remembered the conversation when the Scribe first told her about the interview. She riled against it, but it was no use. Unlike any other order she’d ever been given, this one was iron-clad. “Do not harm the interviewer,” the scribe had said. And just like that, it stuck. The voice had been so strong, it still echoed in her ears. The order so powerful, she wasn’t even able to think about harming the damned woman.
Ryver cocked his head to one side. “She’s here.”
Lena rolled her eyes. “Great.” Then Ryver pulled himself up of the sofa, and Lena’s eyes widened. “Wait! You’re leaving me?”
Ryver smiled down at her. “Well, she’s not interviewing me, is she?”
“I hate you sometimes.”
Ryver laughed. “Now, now, Lena. Play nice.”
Lena just narrowed her eyes at her friend. She saw him frown as he looked towards the dance floor. “Well. This should be interesting,” he said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He looked back at her. “I don’t think she’s keen on the idea of interviewing a vampire,” he said, before making his way over to the bar.
Well, that’s just great.
Lena searched the dance floor, looking for the interviewer. It didn’t take long to find her. If her totally-not-goth-outfit didn’t give her away, her aura would have. Kelly was human, so her aura glowed green, but there was something different about her. Not the usual emerald green Lena would expect, Kelly’s aura burned a brilliant jade.
This woman was strong of mind and soul. Despite herself, Lena was impressed.
Kelly made her way over and joined Lena in the booth.
Lena narrowed her eyes at the pretty human sitting opposite her and smiled. The scribe never said anything about being nice to her. She never said anything about not making her uncomfortable. Lena took a swig of her Tequila. She looked Kelly straight in the eye. “So. I hear you don’t care for vampires,” she said with a devilish grin plastered across her face.
Kelly furrowed her brows as she looked at Lena. “What ever gave you that idea? Not that I ever met one in person, so you’re the first, but I can list off quite a few I like—not that you’d be familiar with them since I don’t come from here.” She then looked around at her surroundings, the noise, all the activity. “If you’re wondering why I’m at all unease, this kind of environment just gives me a massive headache, so I always try to avoid it.” She then looked back at Lena and smiled. “But a headache is what I’m willing to endure to meet with you. Do you have a problem with that?”
Lena cocked an eyebrow. She’d been coming here for so long, the music really didn’t bother her any more. The manic guitar riffs and screams from the “singer,” did Ryver a favor and drowned out the random thoughts of those around him, so he liked it here. If it gave him some reprieve, the rest of them couldn’t care less where they were. She shook her head at Kelly. “Not at all.”
“Wonderful.” Kelly smiled. “So, you’re a vampire. Were you born a vampire? Or bitten? If you were bitten, when did the transformation take place?” She cocked her head to a side as she observed Lena–tuning out the noise all around her, so she could focus.
Lena poured another shot of Tequila. She managed to stop herself rolling her eyes, but only just. She really shouldn’t be surprised at the question. Kelly was only human after all. The cinemas and book shelves were full of invented Vampire lore. She downed the shot, considering how best to answer. If Kelly was an ordinary human, Lena would laugh off the question. But Kelly wasn’t ordinary. Wasn’t from this world. How much to trust her with? That was the question. “We’re not the monsters you think we are, you know,” she said as she signaled the barman to bring another shot glass over. “All vampires are born. There’s none of this transformation business.”
A grungy looking barman practically threw the extra shot glass on the table. She waited for him to disappear again before looking back at Kelly. “Drink?”
“No thank you.” Kelly shook her head. “So, tell me about how it works here. Obviously I have the wrong impression, and for that I apologize.” She tipped her head briefly but then lifted her gaze once more at Lena. “I would truly like to understand.”
Lena shrugged her shoulder at Kelly’s refusal of the shot. Guess Tequila isn’t everybody’s thing. Chewing the inside of her cheek, she thought back to the conversation with the Scribe. Whilst the stupid “do not harm the interviewer,” thing had been the only actual order, she had given Lena leave to be open and honest. It was a strange feeling. The race had spent millennia hiding their true selves. The more fantastical the rumors and legends, the easier it was to blend in. Was she really going to tell a complete stranger the truth? As she looked at Kelly’s expectant face, she realized she was going to do just that. “As a race, we hail from the Seelie Court of Faerie. Our need for human blood has become part of who we are, but it was born out of duty and honor, not malice or evil.”
“How is it out of duty and honor?” Kelly tilted her head quite curious.
Lena smirked. Yeah, the two didn’t exactly go hand in hand. “Before modern religions like Christianity and Islam spread, all humans believed in Faerie. Vampires were tasked with bringing the souls of the dying back to the Glory of Faerie, where they could rest in peace. Blood is a living thing’s life force. It’s where their soul lives. We’re honor-bound to protect the souls of the living.”
Kelly stared at her, brows creased as she tried to understand what she was being told. “So…the blood is basically where the soul is, and you, as vampires, must take that to the Glory of Faerie? Or at least used to. What does that mean? Do you drain the body of blood and take it, or what exactly?” But then Kelly saw the slightly irritable look on Lena, and she gave her an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. You will have to be patient with me. Last few days haven’t been good, but I’m trying my very best to simply comprehend. My mind may not be here at the moment, but I’m trying.”
Lena grimaced. “Used to is right. We have the power to hold a soul within us for short amounts of time. It’s like an energy that can be released.” She gritted her teeth. “Provided you don’t keep it too long.”
“And that’s where things went wrong, I’m assuming?” Kelly raised her brows.
Lena could feel the anger boiling up inside her. She knew it wasn’t Kelly’s fault, but that didn’t really matter. “Going wrong is putting it fucking mildly.”
Kelly sighed. Well, Lena had a lot of anger built up in her. “You sound like you need to vent. By all means, please do.” She made a sweeping gesture. “And you needn’t worry about what others will hear here.I will say nothing to anyone. As I said, I’m not from this world, and you’re the only person I’ll ever be speaking with, so whatever you say is safe with me.”
Lena almost laughed, Vent? Yeah she needed to vent. The whole damned race needed to vent. “One selfish bastard. That’s all it took. The House of Velgeren cursed us all because of their own lust for power. They kept the souls they’d been entrusted with. “ She downed another shot of Tequila. “They abandoned their duty. They forgot their honor. And they walked us all into darkness.” She all but spat the words at the woman sitting opposite her. “It’s because of those bastards that I’ve never even seen Faerie. It’s because of them that I’ve never seen sunlight. It’s because of them that our race is dying,” she shouted.
Kelly willed herself to take a deep breath as she tried to contain her own irritability from her own life that was threatening to bleed, once more, into an interview. None of that mattered. What mattered right now was this character, her frustrations, and what she was going through. Still Kelly sought to be reasonable and calming. “What can you tell me of the Faerie? What do legends say?” She asked gently.
Lena watched Kelly’s aura closely. She could see the colors changing, Darker shades of green crept into the brilliant jade. Something troubled this woman. For a brief moment, she wondered what it was, but then if Ryver’s experience with people’s thoughts was anything to go by,she was glad she didn’t know. So Kelly wanted to know about Faerie. Lena’s brow knitted. She was ashamed to admit she didn’t know as much as she should. She’d always dealt with what was in front of her. Not what was in the past…a past that wasn’t even her own. “There is no one left alive who’s ever been there,” she said quietly. “All we have left are The Chronicles, our history books. And the stories handed down from generation to generation.” Her brow pulled down further. She’d never really considered that she ought to know more about where she came from. She wracked her brain to remember her history lessons. “Faerie isn’t all rainbows and bunny rabbits. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, or so I’ve heard, but it could be a ruthless place. The very ground hums with magic and power. It feeds the people. It’s where every race’s magic stems from. The Holy Mother commands dominion over all of it, and her mind is very black and white when it comes to right and wrong. There is no grey. There is good and evil. There is right and wrong. There is the Seelie Court and the UnSeelie Court. Everything has it’s place, every race it’s duty. There is balance. Without it, our magic is waning.”
Kelly nodded. Finally, they were having a bit more of a civil talk, but she wouldn’t be surprised if Lena snapped again. That just seemed to be her nature, and Kelly wouldn’t blink an eye at it. “So, is the one thing you want most in life is to go there? To see it for yourself? To end the war you’re fighting? And for all the wrongs to be made right?”
Lena laughed. “One step at a time, Kelly. I might be Fae by birth, but I don’t believe in fairy tales!” She poured another shot and looked at Kelly. “You sure you don’t want a drink?”
The other woman shook her head. There was some human saying about taking water to horses…nope, she’d forgotten it.
“The only way we can make things right and earn the keys to Faerie is to vanquish the Fallen. We’ve been away for millennia. Some still abandon their honor and choose to fall. The Keeper of the Watch says he can’t blame them. We’re bound by rules and our code of honor. The Fallen are bound by nothing but their own selfishness. We were never meant to be stay away so long, and Kaden says he can’t blame some for forgetting what we’re fighting for. I don’t agree. I think the pricks were born without honor.” Lena mentally checked her weapons inventory. “I will see the bastards dead one day though,” she added.
Suddenly Kelly thought of Star Wars and how the Jedi lived by a specific Code while the Sith didn’t. That thought got her imagining vampires with lightsabers–or even Jedi or Sith vampires—and this made her chuckled as she shook her head but then tried to stay focused on the conversation. “Okay, so what is it that you do?” She suspected it had to do with hunting the fallen but decided not to guess this time but leave that up to Lena tell her.
Lena didn’t know what the chuckle was for, but she did know she didn’t like it. Her old friend paranoia made a few tentative steps up her spine. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Kelly raised her brows. “What’s what supposed to mean? My question or my chuckle? And if you’d like to know, I laughed because you gave me an idea of something that is only in my world. You wouldn’t understand. It has nothing to do with you or anything, don’t worry. To be honest, it’s a pretty awesome idea, but anyway.” Kelly shook her head. “As for my question, I’m assuming you don’t just sit around here all day long, so what is it that you do?”
Lena frowned, wondering whether to be insulted at the insinuation that she wouldn’t understand something from Kelly’s world. She put that thought to one side and considered the woman’s question. Lena smirked. “If I got to sit around all day, it wouldn’t be in here! Except maybe when Ryver needs a break. The, ehem, music blocks his telepathy for a little while.” She glanced over to the stage and shook her head. A girl in some impossible leather outfit and green hair was currently screaming into the mic. Lena had no idea what the lyrics were, or if there were even lyrics. She glanced back at Kelly. “I’m a Guardian. I belong to The Order of Blackwood, the royal guard. In short, we protect the royal family, the vampire population and as many humans as we can. I’m not much for court though, so I tend to spend my time hunting the fallen. Alone.”
“Well, that sounds fun actually.” Kelly smiled. She was always up for a tale of a good hunt. Her assassin character, Vixen, would appreciate it too. “So how do you go about a hunt?”
A wry smile crept across her face. Finally! Another woman who appreciated a good hunt. Every other woman she knew was too busy trying to be a lady to even consider a fight. “I’m a tracker. I sense auras. You, for instance, are human, so your aura glows green. Vampires are red. Fallen are bright white. I can sense them from miles away. They light up in my mind like a beacon. I can track them on my internal map, like you would an ordinance survey map.”
“And you seem to be the kind of person who just likes to beat them up completely before killing them, am I right?” Kelly had to smile as she leaned in, setting her elbows on the table, clasping her hands together. “At least, that’s what I would do if I had your abilities. Would really help release all that pent up frustration and stuff. So, how do you kill a Fallen? And what’s your preferred method?”
Honestly, Lena was amazed at Kelly’s interest. She didn’t look the type to relish a good fight. But then looks could be deceptive. “It depends. Since that bastard Asher announced himself leader, they’re becoming more organized, their attacks on humans and vampires less sporadic. But yes, the bastards are too good for a quick death. If I could, I’d let them all bleed to death, but with Commander Asher in charge, they rarely travel alone. More’s the pity. But you’re right. I like to be up close and personal when I do my killing. Kaden always laughs at me, but I almost never carry a gun.” She patted her thigh where one of her throwing knives was holstered. “Knives to the most damage.”
Kelly had to laugh. “You’re awesome! You should totally meet Vixen. She’s a human assassin who wears a vest of blades because knives are her preference.” She then tapped on the side of her head. “She’s already telling me she’d love to go hunting with you. Never hunted a vampire before, so it’d be a good challenge.” But then Kelly had to tell Vixen, in her mind, that now was not the time to start talking. Things worked differently here in this world than the worlds Vixen had been to although Vixen then went on to sulk.
Shaking her head, Kelly then focused on the conversation once more. “So what has been your favorite hunt to date?”
Lena stared at Kelly, unable to get the image of a vest of knives out of her head. She had to get herself one of those! She made a mental note to ask Mercury if he could source one. Vixen sounded like her kind of girl. “She’d be hunting Fallen, not vampires,” Lena corrected. Kelly nodded her apology
“Favorite fight?” What a question that was. There were so many to choose from. All of them finished with her going home and less scum roaming the earth. How could she choose? “I’m nearly two hundred years old, Kelly. There’ve been a few.” She continued to consider the question. In the end, she just chose one of her latest encounters. “I left seven of the scum without their heads last week,” she said with a grin.
“That’s fascinating! Now, what’s the most you’ve had to fight at one time? You may or may not have had help on your side.”
Lena frowned. “I don’t exactly play well with others, so it’s rare one of my brethren is with me.” She thought back to other encounters, having trouble stopping them from merging into one. “I suppose ten or fifteen?” she guessed.
“Impressive.” Kelly nodded, but then she sat back in her chair and folded her arms as she mulled over her next question. “Now, this might not relate to you because you’re a vampire, and I don’t know how all this works, but, has there been a time when you were absolutely terrified? If so, what caused that?” She kept her words soft and sincere but knew Lena might withdraw again or lash out. Kelly hoped she wouldn’t, but it was a risk she was willing to take.
Lena inhaled sharply as she narrowed her eyes at the woman. She could tell by her aura that she was being sincere, but it was still a difficult question to answer, and not one she would ever answer in the real world. There was only one time in her life she’d been absolutely terrified. As the memories came back, she felt the sense of loss and foreboding weighing heavily on her. “Once. When my parents died,” she whispered.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Kelly asked gently. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
Lena felt her jaw set. “Fallen ambush.”
Kelly nodded. “How did you escape?” She assumed Lena had witnessed it.
Lena winced. Survivor guilt wrapped itself around her. “I was too young to dematerialize. My Father fought bravely and told my mother and I to run. He was her true mate though, the other half of her soul. When he died, she stumbled. It didn’t take them long to reach her. She made me run.” She blinked back the blood-red tears threatening to over spill her lashes. “I hid in the forest.”
It pained Kelly to see Lena in such grief, but she was glad that she trusted her enough to show her that side of her. She wanted to reach her hand out to touch Lena’s and offer her some comfort, but she wasn’t sure how Lena would respond to that.
A lot of questions raced through Kelly’s mind, but she glimpsed at the clock and realized their time was up, and she sighed before looking at Lena. “And what happened there made you who you are today, right?”
Lena shook her head. “It’s what drives me, but Kaden made me who I am today. He took me in. He brought me up. He trained me. And he inducted me into the Order.” She narrowed her eyes at Kelly. “Of course you tell him I said that, and I will have your head, order or no.”
Kelly laughed, “I have absolutely no intention of even meeting Kaden, so your secret is fine with me. Thank you for trusting me with it though, and for opening up with me. I know you didn’t want to meet with me, but…” She shrugged. “Maybe you’d feel a little better after this, and the good news is, you never have to see my face again, but it really has been great chatting with you. Unfortunately though, I do need to go. I have another person to interview in less than an hour.” She rose to her feet. “Thanks again for your time and the talk!”
Lena shook her head at herself. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t have said half the stuff she did, if she didn’t know Kelly wasn’t even from this world. “See you around,” she said as Kelly turned to leave.
Lena watched the woman making her way across the dance floor to the door and poured herself another shot. She eyed Kelly’s unused glass, shrugged to herself and filled that too. She downed them both in quick succession. Faerie knew she needed it.
Note: Lena is from Sharon Lipman’s story ‘Bound to Blackwood’ which she hopes to have published by the end of the year. The story she discussed in this interview is not yet written. You can read the first chapter of ‘Bound to Blackwood’ on Wattpad, and you can follow Sharon on Facebook and Twitter. Also, Sharon is a fabulous cover designer as well, so be sure to check out her work!
Wattpad: Chapter One of ‘Bound to Blackwood’
Facebook Author Page: Sharon Lipman
Sharon’s Facebook Cover Designer Page: Fantasia Covers