Prologue — Destiny Unfolding (New)
~ Prologue ~
Anesa had never before been mistaken about anyone’s identity and so it would be with the girl that now entered her shop. Numerous chimes sounded as she entered, trailing morosely behind her father. The old fortune teller laid a weathered hand onto the book she had been skimming through to mark her page and peered over the desk at her customers.
The man was handsome enough with pleasantly arranged features, but Anesa only gave him a cursory glance before studying his daughter.
She couldn’t have been older than twelve years for her face had not yet lost the gaiety of youth. Her eyes though were too wise, and too lined and they seemed to hint at some tragic event that seemed to have already aged her. She walked without intent or purpose, merely following her father though he too seemed to have drifted in nearly by accident.
The two of them wandered through the store, her father stopping every once in a while to leaf through a book or remark on a handmade dream catcher but the girl only nodded blankly. She passed by armored dress forms, bows, spears, healing crystals and other oddities but nothing seemed to garner her attention until she drifted to the front counter. Here the girl’s eyes finally lit up with interest and Anesa smiled down at her kindly.
Like a moth, helplessly drawn to light, she had become entranced with the crystal ball that decorated Anesa’s counter. The old woman nodded approvingly as the girl studied the swirling depths, though she could discern nothing from them.
“Would you like your fortune read, dear?” Anesa asked kindly, though the girl jumped slightly. Her father had heard and he too approached the counter after returning the crystal he had been holding to its proper place. He nodded encouragingly at his daughter and answered for her.
“She would be honored,” he said with feeling, and Anesa knew he meant it. In her many years she had gained much respect from her people and most considered it a great blessing for her to predict their futures. Even the foreigners of which she had seen many of in the last few weeks had known of her and those that had allowed her to read their fortunes would later find her talents to be unfailing in their accuracy. She did not know what brought these two to her unassuming antique shop during this trading season but she had a feeling that fate itself had something to do with it.
The girl’s eyes were still wide with fear and Anesa felt a strange compassion stirring within her. She led her to an unmarked back room where yet another crystal ball lay waiting in its center and Anesa settled herself behind it. The silver glow from the ball cast shadows on Anesa’s face, deepening her wrinkles and making her appear even older.
“Don’t be afraid,” she whispered and the girl nodded. The cloudy contents of the ball began to swirl even faster and darkened in color. For a few moments, they sat in awed silence, though the girl could not see what Anesa could. A scene was forming in the indistinct mist though and Anesa narrowed her eyes, struggling to take it all in.
“I see much in your future, child,” she said after a short while. A future with much power and strength in it,” and the girl smiled, though she could hardly understand the old woman.
“Though not all of it good,” Anesa continued and the girl’s face fell. “I see much sadness and much loss as well, for you are marked.”
“What do you mean?”
“You are the next vampire huntress, and so destined to bring their kind to an end from this place. Your destiny has already cost you your mother at a young age, but I know you are meant to avenge her death.”
The carefully blank and unknowing façade that the girl had been careful to front had finally shattered. “How are you sure that it’s me?” she asked and Anesa smiled. It was the smile that a magician gives a prying child when asked his secret.
“Wait here,” she murmured and disappeared through the door. Mystified, the girl wondered what the fortune teller could be doing. Though everyone in her village greatly revered her fortune talents, none knew of the ways the woman had come to possess her higher knowledge.
A moment later Anesa returned with a small box that was wider than it was tall and held it out to her.
“Open it,” the fortune teller encouraged. The girl did so and gasped in wonder.
Inside was a pendant unlike anything she had ever seen. Encased in a silver setting that was lined with diamonds was a jewel, a startling shade of passive onyx, although the stone did not seem to be solid. Inside its setting, it shifted and moved almost like the crystal ball before her.
“It’s beautiful,” the girl managed to whisper. Anesa delicately lifted it from its box and as the girl held her hair, she clasped it around her neck. Almost instantly the color inside changed to a pure ruby.
“Only the next Huntress could make it turn that color,” Anesa explained, and the girl went to take it off. Anesa motioned for her to stop.
“I-I can’t, Anesa.”
“It will help aid you. Your family’s blood is especially potent, and this is reflected in the present color of the necklace. This amulet will allow you some protection, as any vampire that tries to touch you will find that he cannot. The power of your blood will be amplified through the stone. It will change colors subtly with your mood and it will also burn warm against your skin, warning you of impending danger. It is the one thing I can give,” she said.
“Thank you,” said the girl simply, taking the amulet carefully in her fingers. Her face showed no doubt now.
“It suits you beautifully,” Anesa said. “Now listen to me child. You have a great path before you. But it cannot be done alone. You shall succeed only if you are willing to trust those who have not been trusted.”
“What do you mean?”
The woman smiled, almost sadly. “This you must learn on your own, dear. There are many paths to victory. You must walk the finest line between our two worlds and not be corrupted yourself. And there is more, child, about your mother.”
The girl’s eyes widened. She hadn’t known much about her, only that she had been killed when she was very young.
“It is your destiny to defeat the Vampire that killed her, Arkadith. But you must be careful. He is ancient and Vampires have long memories, almost as long as their immortal lives. They do not forget easily, and forgive even less easily.Your identity will have to remain a secret in order to protect your loved ones. He will not be easily defeated, and he will use anyone near you in order to get at you.”
Natalya thought of her father in the other room and shivered.
“Even he cannot know about you,” Anesa said sternly. “Arkadith will target him if he can and we cannot take any chances. If he knows too much I fear for us all.
But I have faith in you. I believe you have the power within you to succeed where others have not. Avenge her,” Anesa whispered, and the girl nodded gravely. She slid the amulet beneath her blouse where it lay hidden from view and it dimmed in response. She returned to her father and he placed a hand on her shoulder, guiding her out of the shop. Anesa watched them go, the girl who was ready to confront her destiny and the old woman knew that fate had chosen well.