Endless Ages excerpt 6: Love to Ashes

Vampire: The Masquerade

This Halloween we’re celebrating Vampire: The Masquerade’s 25th anniversary with the Endless Ages fiction anthology, with stories covering every era from Vampire’s 1st Edition through to the 20th Anniversary Edition.

We begin our journey with a preview of “Love to Ashes” from author Steffie De Vaan:

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Vampire: The Masquerade, to me, has always been about the curse of ashes – everything good will turn to ash in your mouth. That’s about more than the blood, it’s about company too. The cruelest part of being a vampire is that you’ll spend eternity alone. Your Sire abuses you, your childe disavows you, and allies turn against you. That’s what my story is about – a prelude of ashes.

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Rain pelted the window, and wind pushed through ventilation slits to dance with threadbare curtains. The city lights mingled with the downpour to paint the Parisian sky in a pale rainbow. The scene was lovely, romantic even, and perfect for tonight. Sephone thought she could feel her heart flutter as she studied the dark woman sitting at the room’s only desk. She hadn’t breathed in years, but now she inhaled deeply to savor her love’s perfume. Tonight was the night. The mortal at the desk tensed, eyes flitting to the corner where Sephone hid, before returning to the iridescent blue beetle in front of her.

She sees you.

The voices spoke to Sephone unbidden, but they never lied. The mortal’s conscious mind was cowed by the cloak of the unseen that draped Sephone’s unmoving form, but the animal part of her brain still screamed “predator!”

Sephone remained where she was though, mesmerized by the light and shadow playing on her love’s face. The mortal’s eyes were dark pools that held endless fascination, even if deep lines now marred the skin around them. Those lines had once been a testament to Nita’s good-humored nature, scrunching up her face whenever she laughed, but they’d long become a con­cession to the grind of years. The mortal’s cropped curls, too, had turned from black to gray. Sephone’s heart, close to resuming its beat mere moments ago, fell silent. Time was whittling away her love and death awaited the mortal – an even greater divide than the one that separated them now. Sephone shook at the prospect of losing love and hope to the unrelenting march of time, but quickly buried her anxiety under piles of denial. That loss would never hap­pen. Not after tonight.

“Relishing the view, my pet?” Yanis’ voice drowned Sephone’s senses. Sephone resisted the urge to moan, refusing to give her sire what she wanted. She struggled to keep her attention on her love – this was her big night, after all – even as the blood in her veins ran hot.

“Look at me.” Steel hid in that silken purr, removing all thought of dis­obedience. Sephone’s eyes turned to her master. Yanis was beautiful: petite and perfect, with luscious auburn curls and sky-blue eyes that made no at­tempt to hide the cruelty that governed her life. The elder absorbed the light of stars and moon, until nothing remained but what little she allowed to escape.

Yanis’ mouth quirked up in response to the adoration that was rightfully hers. “Good girl.” The approval gave Sephone goosebumps. “Now let’s fetch your prize.”

Sephone watched as Yanis glided to the mortal’s side. The dark woman’s eyes darted up, looking straight through the predator as her mind dismissed the phantom. She turned the beetle over in trembling fingers and scribbled a few words while the hairs in her neck slowly rose on end. Sephone could hear the mortal’s heart race, saw her legs coil under the table, as instinct triggered a primordial flight response. Yanis’ grip on her mind was iron-clad though, and it wasn’t until the vampire bent down and – ever so softly – caressed her hair, that the mortal’s mind finally bucked against the power. Her eyes turned wide as she witnessed the horror smiling at her, while her legs finally pushed up and away from the chair. Too late now. Yanis yanked the mortal towards her and spun her in one smooth motion to face Sephone.

Sephone walked forward, shedding her unseen cloak, with hands splayed at her side to prove she posed no threat. “Don’t be afraid, Nita,” the neonate tried to assure her love. “This is good for you. For us. You’ll see.” Her voice was not as beautiful as Yanis’, but perhaps the mortal recognized her cadence and affectation? Nita stilled as she met eyes with Sephone. Save me. Sephone would, of course. That’s why she was here.

“It will all be over soon, Nita,” she offered as she set her mouth to the mortal’s neck. “We’ll be together.” Then blood, warm and succulent, over­rode any conscious thought or compassion she might have had. Only blood remained, and a small blue beetle falling to the carpet.

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The Endless Ages Anthology is now available from DriveThruFiction!

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