Adventuring through twisted time.
Libelle had grown into her role of being the Drake Empress; her species was one that was rare but there were enough of them that followed her. Becoming a leader had been utterly hard on her mainly because she didn’t view herself as one. Yet when her people needed her she stepped up to help them. She had learned through that time who had started the banisher groups the people that feared the Drakes so desperately it made no sense to her. Why would the sanguine family of Dracula fear her people enough to create the banishers. Well that wasn’t all true the Banishers were created to destroy the Dragons. Causing her Great uncle to fuse their souls with the riders. So the Drakes were born. Yet the death of her uncle by a banisher caused the drakes to run in fear.
That Fear was still inside of the Drakes anytime one gets close to another. There was always that fear that man or woman you were falling in love with could be the person who is just there to end your life. So when Libelle learned of the bloodline that created the banishers was still around her curiosity was piqued. She found herself watching the children of the bloodline. Wondering which one would be the weakest of them. Wondering who she could take, part of her wanted revenge after all these people were the reason her great uncle and her father were dead in a way. She landed on one, she didn’t know her name but she knew she could easily take her. She seemed to be the one who was alone a lot.
So Libelle watched her leave going for her evening walk. Libelle fell into the walk behind her after a moment. As she gained space between them, and no one else was around she let her sleep gas pass her lips and blew it in the direction of the woman. As she watched the woman waver she moved in and caught her before she fell to the ground. Libelle ran her finger against the woman's neck to feel her breathing before moving to hold her to her side. She made the short distance to the home she had been in at that moment. Once in the home she placed the woman on the ground and locked chains around her that had been blessed so she couldn’t break the bounds of the chains easily. She moved sitting in a chair and waited for her to wake from the knockout gas.
A loud roar tore through the sky. The ground shook. Artemis covered her ears as she looked toward the burning red sky. Trepidation soaked the air around her and the people with her looked to the sky. Her steadiness in the moment peculiar to her mainly because she had no clue what was happening. Yet she was commanding a whole army at this very moment.
And so, from the dark smog that had bubbled into the air came the prey. She watched as she waved her hand to her men. Suddenly, the impaler spikes went up and the ballistas fired.
And down fell the dragon on to the spikes waiting below.
With a violent jump, Artemis's vibrant emerald eyes shot open. She groaned faintly with her vision a blur and head in a daze. She tried to wipe her eyes but when the chains stopped her all she could do was groan again. For a different reason. "Again..." She scoffed to herself as she focused on the floor. Clenching her eyes repeatedly to clear her sight.
She breathed deep. Her heart racing. She still had a heartbeat. Still needed to breathe. At last, when her eyes focused she attempted to look around. Though she already had an idea on what was going on here. To be honest she was far more confused by her dream than the current situation. Her coruscating green gaze landed on her subduer.
She sat silently. Her unwavering glare studying the woman before her as she, at last, caught her breath. Her chest still rising and falling quite hard as she managed to glean at what this woman was. She sighed then. Cursing beneath her breath. "Let me guess. Count Dracula killed a great grandparent of yours or something close. And you want vengeance?"
Artemis's words came with spite but confidence too. She sucked her teeth as she looked away. "I'm sorry but you've got the wrong one. I'm no Dracula. Wouldn't this burn if I were." She touched the chains to her skin knowing full well they were blessed. Her colorful gaze never leaving that of the woman before her.
"I'm Artemis Kelly. A gypsy."
Libelle watched as Artemis jumped up, she wondered if she had been dreaming. She had often never been around long enough for someone to wake up from her knockout gas. Her eyes stayed on her. Curiosity was in full force as he watched her struggle to open her eyes and said ‘Again…’. So this isn’t the first time she has been taken hostage? Well isn’t that an interesting turn of events. The Drake wondered to herself pausing in thought as she watched the girl with steady eyes.
When her green eyes met hers, she didn’t waver in her staring. She did however stay quiet as the woman cursed under her breath. Her eyebrow raised as she spoke of Count Dracula and how she wanted to know if she was seeking her vengeance. “Vengeance is a fool's errand yet I couldn’t help myself. I had questions that you may have answers too. Instead of fighting you I figured this would be an easier way to make you talk. After all, I can’t be sure how dangerous you very well could be.”
She watched as she yanked on the chains and stressed on how she wasn’t a Dracula. It was interesting to see that the blessing didn’t harm her yet her blood betrayed the words. “You may not be burned but your blood betrays what you are saying.” She looked to her fingernails for a moment before standing up from her seat for a moment. “I have met a few Gypsy in my life and some of them were off other species as well.” She said as she moved closer and lowered herself to the ground in front of Artemis.
“Artemis Kelly, my name is Libelle Ryoko. I have come to learn that your kin Dracula was the creator of the people who destroyed the dragons. The beings my people fused with the dragon spirits. Now I chained you because I couldn’t be sure if you were going to lash out and harm me. Since you know your kin made the Banishers and all.” Libelle was quiet for a moment as her eyes rested on Artemis for a moment longer.
“I guess the biggest question I have is… Why would your kin do that? I feel like I just have no understanding on why anyone would want to hurt a dragon.” Her eyes dropped to the floor for a moment as she thought more. “Have you ever met the Black Scaled Drake? Do you know what he was like?” She wondered aloud not even knowing how old Artemis really is.
Thee moment Libelle opened her mouth to speak Artemis scoffed. Looking away because suddenly she knew from Belle's first few words she wasn't going to let her go. That she didn't believe her. But then the question rose of if Artemis would even believe herself.
She looked around the room they were in. Her still steady gaze exploring the room. Listening to every word Libelle said though it didn't appear that way.
Artemis froze. Her face showing that she clearly hadn't the slightest idea at how she knew the meaning of Libelle's name. It came all too comfortably and easy for her own taste. Furthermore, she now wanted to know how in fact her blood betrayed her. Did she know what the Count himself smelled like? Her siblings and the last remaining Dracula's had long been turned. Leaving them to smell like death or other people's blood when they drank it.
Or at least that's what they smelled like to her. "How old is the oldest human currently?" She didn't answer any of Libelle's questions. Her own question was more rhetoric than anything. Her vivacious emerald eyes darting back and forth as she stared at the floor in front of her. Lost to her thoughts. "Vladimir the Impaler was what? Four hundred years ago? And we all know the last of his kin are that old. They keep it no secret that they were alive during their grandfather's reign. All of them transformed before he died. They boast about it."
She took in an audible deep breath that tightened all the features on her face. With subtly in her movement, her eyes meet Libelle's once again. "Yes, you're right. We Gyspsies can be Gypsy and another."
"However I'm human."
"So I ask again. How old can the oldest human be? I can't be related to the Dracula's when the one's left can't have children and I can't be four hundred years old."
Artemis kept her eyes on Libelle. Leaning forward as slightly as if daring her to challenge the logic of a humans mortality. Challenge her. Normally Artemis was quite endearing. She had the ability to get anyone to like her if she tried but she wasn't really trying as of right now. She was playing a dangerous game. Most of her words were a half-truth.
Yes her name was Artemis Kelly but she was born Annabelle Artemis Dracula. And while she wasn't technically four hundred years old. She was born over four hundred years ago. A hard concept to understand if she didn't explain it. She was a human that was wholeheartedly true. Except, her birth family the Dracula's had been grooming her to transform her into one of them. A sanguine.
And most importantly over everything else. She was the last granddaughter of Count Vladimir"The Impaler" Dracula. Not the myth of Sanguine that the world knew but the real human man who ruled an Empire. Controlled an army that slaughtered and ravished.
And was the one who directly murdered Libelle's Uncle.
Libelle eyebrow raised when she said the meaning of her name in German, the name her mother’s mother had. It was strange how utterly fitting it was. “Interesting, no one else has been able to put together what my name means on their own.” She muttered more so to herself, because it threw her off slightly. She wanted to present with a strong front yet part of her was tired and just wanted to understand. She had been around for a long time now, and this is the closest she had gotten to answers.
Libelle raised an eyebrow to her as she spoke of how old a human currently could be. Yet she clearly knew there was more out there or else she wouldn’t be asking such things. As Artemis seemed to be avoiding her gaze, talking about Vladimir. She gave a low hum from her lips as she picked at the edge of her dress for a moment. “Please stop trying to bring logic that you and I both know do not apply to every person. We are not all normal humans. I have watched a Gypsy disappear in front of me in the wind.” She said as she looked her over for a long moment.
“Even if Vladimir was human, the information I have places him long before four hundred years ago. Dragons were around in Ancient times before they were killed and fused with their riders.” she repeated the tale her mother had told her of her father and how he came to be. “So tell me how someone who was around four hundred years ago could only be around much earlier than that? Maybe you know the answers.”
“I know the world is not often what it seems.” she shook her back as her wings came ripping out of her skin. She held her hands up which started glowing red hot. “In this world I should not be able to do the things I can do Artemis. So you see, it is hard for me to believe that you are not who I think you are. You are not human.” She shifted, stopping her hands from glowing. She reached in her dress pulling out the hidden dagger from her leg band. She took the dagger and dragged it along her hand. “Are you really telling me that you are not A sanguine like your blood screams.”
She wanted to see if she would react to the open vein of blood. She had not willingly been drank from before so if she took the bait it would lead to knowing for sure. Libelle wasn’t one to back down from a challenge so as she leaned towards her, Libelle leaned back in her blood hand between them. “Come now I am sure that my gas has made you hungry. Take a taste, I am sure you will love the taste of lingering jewels in the blood.” She hissed out towards her challenging her back.
Artemis's face might've been toneless and stone hard from the moment she processed what was happening until now. But her heart was banging in her chest. Drumming in her ears so loud it almost made Libelle's words inaudible. She took in a sharp inhale hearing her words on her grandfather being older than four hundred years old. She suddenly didn't understand. Yet. Her brows pinched together as she held on to the breath she'd sucked in through her nose. Her sharp glare glued to Libelle's as she spoke.
By now with her life with the Gypsies Artemis had met many species. Drakes wasn't one of them. So when Libelle's wings ripped from her back Artie began to breathe quite hard. And the heat coming from her hands that now glowed made her swallow hard. But her face. Her face never showed her fear. Her eyes never wavered or showed anything other than the indignation and vexation that always seemed to be ablaze at the back of her gaze.
And so suddenly, that changed. Her stone armor and fortitude seemed to crumble the moment Libelle cut herself. But not for the reasons one might think. Suddenly, she was filled with concern. She was saddened and upset she'd cut her hand just to prove a point. And though Libelle probably didn't care, she could probably even heal that was beyond the point to why Artemis was suddenly upset. She'd hurt herself because of Artemis.
Many might take that as a victory. The other Dracula's would. And maybe under different circumstances, Artemis might have as well. But she didn't. She'd been trying her whole life to come away from people hurting themselves because she was a Dracula. Or getting hurt... Because she was a Dracula. She hated that was the reason. That was always the reason. Immediately, Artemis took a piece of her fabric that flowed down from her clothes and ripped it. She took Libelle's hand carefully in one hand and wrapped it to stop the bleeding with the other. The sounds of her chains jingling as she moved. She realized Libelle could be a being that could or would heal but her muscle memory was faster than her brain.
"Life is like a flame..."
Her words were to herself even though she said it out loud. She didn't even notice she'd said her mantra. Her eyes rooted on Libelle's hand as she tied a firm knot in the fabric. The whole time never showing she wanted her blood. Because she didn't. "I'm only human." She closed Libelle's hand delicately. Her gaze now looking back at her showing a kinder look in them mixed in with the ferocity she kept at the back. "You hurt or slice me and I'll bruise. I'll bleed. You stab me and I'll die. Only The Wind can save me. But. It doesn't save anyone."
She looked away and sat back. Growling as she looked around. Artemis was raised by wolves... And sirens. Her patience was thin. Her temperament was thinner. She closed her eyes and shot a sharp breath out of her nose that cut through the palpable air. She knew what trouble her anger could stir. She wanted to avoid that. She let out a string of curse words in the Gypsy Romani tongue. Her dream suddenly making sense and telling her how she could get the answers needed.
"What do you want to know?"
Libelle watched as Artemis seemed in shock when it came to what she was. The fact her wings, and her glowing hands could scare about anyone. Yet that wasn’t her point, the point was to show that she was in fact a creature that was searching for answers and wouldn’t be bushed over. Yet Libelle truly didn’t want to hurt her. I guess time had made it hard for the Drake. Her father, her great uncle all died because they were drakes. She wanted to understand more about her people. So the first thought was to find someone who was related to the person that tried to kill out the dragons creating her the Banishers.
She watched the stone strong mask that Artemis had warned fall away with the cut on her hand. She watched her reaction. It honestly wasn’t what she expected. She expected a blood thirsty being aching for a drink. So as she kept her eyes on her she realized that maybe kidnapping her was going to be pointless. Maybe she really was human despite what scent she was catching from her. Had her years dulled her senses?
Libelle was pulled back to the moment that Artemis hand took hold of her wrapping the fabric around it. She watched the care the woman changed to the floor showed her. It was unexpected. It was strange to her that the woman didn’t just lash out and attack her. Her words though seem to hold a statement only meant for Artemis to understand. Libelle didn’t pull her hand away or lash out; she accepted the help even though she knew she would heal quickly enough. She watched no reaction come from her and it confused the Drake more.
“Say I believe you, that you are human, that if I did all of the things you speak of.” The talk of the wind made her mind think upon the gypsies she had met in the past. “Why has the wind not taken you away already?” she asked as she looked her over. “Why wouldn’t it save you? For all the wind knows I am here to hurt you?” Or did the wind know she wouldn’t actually hurt the woman in front of her.
She watched as Artemis bubbled with anger letting out words she didn’t understand though she knew she wasn’t meant too. She watched the woman cave honestly quicker than she expected from the Gypsy. She opened her mouth to ask the questions but nothing came out right away. She took a deep breath in and then reached over undoing the chains as she stood up from the floor and heated water to make tea. Placing two cups on the table she sat down and waved for the Gypsy to join her.
“My first question is why?” Libelle picked up the cup and took a sip from it. “Why did your people fear the dragons and the dragon riders enough to wipe them out? I just want to understand the history that came before me. The history that took my great uncle and my father.” she said gently as she ran her thumb along the cup softly.
A very faint scoff left Artemis as Libelle questioned the wind and why it hadn't intervened. She rubbed her wrists and rose to her feet. Her eyes glanced towards the window and suddenly the wind blew. Only on her. And with no draft or breeze for it to make sense. The fact was that the wind had tried to take her the moment Belle did. Yet, Artie had her own agenda.
And so as the wind blew once again more vividly than before to take her away.
The wild child of The Wind chose to stay.
"I can leave whenever I want."
Her eyes slowly glowered back towards Belle with a challenging tone in her voice. And right before Belle's very eyes, Artie vanished. But only to appear directly behind her as she sat and rummaged around her cupboards like a noisy little animal. "I could've allowed The Wind to keep you from catching me altogether if I so wanted." She cooed a bit dangerously as she walked around to the empty chair at the table.
She pondered Belle's question. Leaning on the chair but refusing to sit. "Why does anyone in power do anything if not out of lack of understanding and fear. Or to get those who oppose them to comply... Or die."
It wasn't an answer in the slightest bit.
Just thoughts and a strong opinion. She thought about it a moment longer and still didn't answer Libelle's question.
The Wind blew again.
Playing in her hair and trying to pull her away. But she still wouldn't let it. Instead, her fire-filled green gaze burned down toward Libelle.
"Why do you believe so strongly that I'm a Dracula?"
Libelle arched her brow towards Artemis as she gave a challenge tone and before she knew it she was gone in front of her eyes. Hearing the sound behind her caused Libelle to turn around. Her mind drifted to Vega but she pushed the thought of him aside as she turned around to face her. “Cute. Just like all children of the wind but we both know that doesn’t mean anything. There is clearly something else about you.”
Her brow arched at the statement on how she could have stopped her from taking her. “Well then if you could have stopped me altogether why let me catch you?” She mused aloud for a moment but honestly she knew better, being married to a gypsy told her more than she needed to know on why they would refuse the winds' want for safety.
She gave a huff from her lips looking away from Artemis for a moment, “People in power make me sick especially those who drive a species to extinction all because they fear them. Comply or die. Such a crude ideal.” She rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms and stared towards the Gypsy in front of her. “Yet I don’t believe that is the true answer.” She said as her eyes looked over the woman in front of her. Taking in the fire in her eyes.
It was always refreshing to see a woman fight with her. “You mean besides I can smell it in your blood?” She asked as she stood up for the table. She moved closer and pulled open a secret drawer and pulled out a rolled up piece of paper. She unrolled the parchment and placed it in front of Artemis. On the parchment was a family tree. Leading down to her. “Now, do we wish to have an honest talk?” she asked as she moved back to take her seat. “Or are the games something we are going to keep playing, Annabelle Artemis Dracula Tepes?”
That name wouldn't do to Artemis what Libelle might expect. While the others might smile and give a wicked laugh. Let their air of beauty melt away as they reveal their true nature as their fangs descend. Artemis, however, scowled at the name. She stiffened up completely as her fingers curled into a fist. "Tepesss." She hissed, shivering because the hiss was far to close to home for her. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath calming herself.
She opened her eyes and returned her attention to Libelle. "In my blood you say..." She shook her head and clicked her tongue. Clearly mulling things over in her head. "You clearly know a lot about vampires. Then. You should know about siring. Yes?" She didn't wait for an answer as her steady gaze stared right into Libelle's. "The Dracula's..." She evidently refused to say Tepes again."... Make their servants and slaves drink their blood. Not enough to change you because they want you weak but just enough to keep tabs on us all." She let out a huff that for a moment showed her stress before reeling that back in.
"You smell their blood in mine because I was forced to drink it when they kidnapped me."
There was no lie here. The unusual seriousness resonating off Artemis proved it. Then came the shame. Shame of the truth of having been kidnapped by the Dracula's. Though their motives for taking her were different from their motives towards their slaves and servants. "Now my uncle can find me." She stared right into Libelle's eyes again completely unaware that Belle's love was her uncle. "That should answer your question of why. With them I was stuck. Doomed to a fate that isn't my destiny and death I know isn't mine. With you as a captor finding me will be easier. Escaping maybe too." She tilted her head back and forth in thought.
"I'm playing chess." She brought this conversation right back up to her random mention of the game. "Life is a game of chess after all. I'm just trying to figure out what piece you are. You move too much to be the king and too little for the queen." She turned away from Belle and towards the window. Taking a pleasant pause to bask in the faint streams of light breaking through and breathe deep in the fresh wind.
She glanced over her shoulder with a sly smirk.
"Maybe you're a pawn like me."
The reaction Artemis had to the name did not go unnoticed to the Drake. Maybe this was the woman she needed to understand more the goal in creating the Berserkers and if there was hope to defeat them. “Well it seems that you are not as loving to your vampiric side as I may have thought.” Libelle mused and then raised a brow “Chess?”she asked softly.
It seemed the rage that threatened them both was calmed in those passing moments. “I am not one to assume I know much about any other species, yet I can never assume one is on my side since my species has been hunted to the end of its lines.” She said with clear distaste and pain in her soul. Raising a brow towards Artemis for a moment. “So they lace your blood but you are not a blood drinker yourself?” That statement itself was utterly confusing. “Does feeding blood to their servants increase life spans?”
Libelle couldn’t bring herself to understand maybe because she knew the bloodline in front of her. Yet she figured it was better she didn’t push hard on the questions at this moment. Let Artemis do the talking while she is so willing too. “Well if your uncle comes and finds you I am sure I can handle him.” Wouldn’t be her first gypsy to catch. There was that thought of Vega again creeping forward. When was the wind going to bring him home.
Focusing back to Artemis, “Well I will let you leave willingly if it's true you are not on the side of the Tepes. Maybe you prefer to help me remove them from this earth the way they did my people. Raising her brow to the metaphor that was that of a game. “I am no pawn or any game piece. I am for myself and no one else. This makes me not a pawn? I am not a willing sacrifice to be made. Nor a pain in the ass royal that uses people to not get their hands dirty.”
Libelle's eyes looked over her. “You shouldn’t accept being a pawn if that is what they have made you. Why not change the game completely on them?” She asked as she tilted her head to the side.
She was losing her patience. "I'm not a vampire." She really just said to her self because Libelle's persistence on the matter made her feel like she was talking to a wall. She took a calming breath and dropped her head as she shook it. "There's only one way for them to extend our life span which is to change us completely. And they don't want to do that for fear of us overpowering them despite them having had their power for centuries." Her demeanor changed as she spoke of her Uncle. She scoffed and chuckled "it wouldn't be up to you to decide if you can take him or not. It wouldn't be up to either of you."
She wasn't looking at Libelle at first but once her talk of freedom registered she stopped and stared. Freedom. How long had it been now since she'd had that? Her breath hitched and she found herself blinking back faint tears that formed on the waterline of her eyes. She cleared her throat like she was trying to hide her response. She closed her eyes trying to refocus again nibbling on her lip.
She scoffed. "They don't make me anything; anything but hate them!" The Wind pushed her as soon as she spoke. The force of it blowing right at her caused Artemis to stumble back a few steps and shield her face. After a moment it changed. Instead of pushing her in disapproval, it began to swirl around her. Eventually blocking her from Libelle's view. When it, at last, stopped Artemis was gently placed back on her feet. Descending from the air. She took a very deep breath and opened her eyes. She didn't and wouldn't acknowledge what just happened but there was something different in the way she looked at Libelle.
"We are all pawns in someone else's game. Just like we are all villains in someone else's story."
She licked her lips and looked around only to end up looking right back at Libelle. "The game is Fate's and everyone falls victim to it. Even the Eternal's couldn't fight their fates. Losing their lives or loves or both."
"We're playing right into the hands of our destinies. Just at destinies' own time and pace."
She stood up straight as she had been leaning on the chair in front of her. She had her freedom. The Wind was pushing her away. There was no reason for her to stay. Answers given or not. She spun on her heels and was lifted by The Wind and pushed to the door. It flung open due to The Wind who couldn't wait to get Artemis out and away. But this response from The Wind was also revealing that maybe Artemis was the cause for her own capture in the first place.
She caught the doorframe right as she passed it. Pulling herself down so her feet touched the ground. She stilled even though The Wind was whipping around her. Trying to take her away.
"Follow the sound of the drums at night. You'll find me there and maybe your answers too."
And then, Artemis was gone.
Blissfully unaware, pretty much was the only statement that could be spoken of since she hadn’t known that her Uncle was her husband, the very man she loved for many years. The very man she accepted for his gypsy nature, telling him to never give up the wind no matter how it bothered her that it would just take him from their bed. Him returning in bruises and scars always burned in her brain. “Well I don’t often make it a habit to hurt the gypsy people. So I wouldn’t want to hurt him. Just stop him if needed. I refuse to be hurt also.” She corrected her statement. As she focused on the words about how they only hand extended life was being altered. It made her want to question more but at this point her head was swirling.
The smell of the tears hit her long before the clearing of her throat. Yet as a woman who often hid her own tears she didn’t bring it up. After all Libelle clearly struck a chord. As she spoke of hating the fanged bastards that wiped out most of the Drakes, a soft smirk touched her lips. “Well there may be hope for you after all if you hate them as much as I do. Libelle didn’t move when the wind did whatever it had with Artemis she learned long ago not to get involved with the wind. Yet as she returned it seemed she was different than before. Yet the Drake of course couldn’t put her finger on it.
“I have been the villain in many stories but most strong women are also.” Libelle muttered out and then a confused look crossed her face as she spoke of something called and eternal. “Eternal?” She questioned never hearing this term in her life prior. She gave a soft scoff. “I don’t believe in Destiny, makes my hard work to push past all the crap less meaningful.” She crossed her arms for a moment as her eyes never moved from her when she was in her view.
Watching the wind carry her way, no answers given, “no answer really to be found in a pawn.” She said as she looked out the window to the sky that held a gentle glow in it. “Understood.” She simply stated when it came to following the sound of drums to find her answers. She honestly wasn’t sure if she would follow them when they came to her. She felt a bitterness inside of her for taking a gypsy hostage, even if she thought she was the one that would have answers.
So days and nights passed and Libelle spent them not like she used too in the past. She walked into the room with the child that was still a baby and smiled down at him. “My little lizard.” She said in a teasing tone as she leaned down kissing her child's head before picking him up. Rocking the infant in her arms as she moved around the home. Wishing the Wind would bring home Vega to see his child again. The fear he would never return nagged at her but the fear he was dead worried her more.
That moment the beating of drums drifted through the air and she shot her head up looking towards the window. She turned to ignore it when the beating picked up to a deafening tone. With a groan she moved through her home again placing their son back into his bed. Alerting the woman who was helping her with the child that she would be back soon. If she didn’t return she left an address where the child was to be taken.
With one last look she was out of the door way following the drums that beat loudly guiding her way. No idea what she would stumble upon.