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I'm not sure if this is going to be a lengthy short story or a novel. It might become a novel. I'm working the kinks out, of course. I started it years ago and only just recently picked up on it again. It does need plenty work, and this is only the first draft. This is one of the few stories that were born out of my head almost full-grown. It began very quickly, thick like honey, and flowed like wine, at least for a few pages.

A powerful young witch with medical issues and an interesting family history, who has vampire friends.

Blood and Soul

When Amber was thirteen, a classmate asked her if she was a witch. Without really thinking, she said yes.
Her mother, before she died, had always held truth -— real truth -— as something not to be played with. White lies, little protective lies were all right. But something that was really honest...nobody could hide a truth like that.
Amber found herself ostracized, naturally. But she had never used those powers for anything except little things. Making plants grow, or lighting candles, or healing wounded animals. Her mother had died right after Amber had manifested at age thirteen. Right before the first vampire had come to the house.
Jeanna had been very good at keeping secrets. No one outside the family and a few close friends knew about the inherited powers, or the night encounters with creatures only supposed to exist in myths. When Amber had been born, three fae women, nymphs, had come to the house with gifts. Amber's father had disappeared before her birth. Jeanna never talked about him. He was just another mystery, maybe even another myth. Like the vampires who had souls.
Three months ago, on Amber's twentieth birthday, she took lessons from one of them, on how to control her body -— to hold her breath for an hour, to slow her heart rate to almost nothing, to close a wound minutes after being cut. The vampire's name was Jack. He was one of the shapeshifter clans, and with his green eyes and blond hair he looked like a model. He moonlighted as a fashion model. He taught her how to put her powers to use.
Now, as blue moonlight covered the floor of her bedroom, Amber opened her eyes and sat up, tucking the blanket in around herself. Something was scratching at the window.
She threw back the covers and stood up, adjusting the pale blue chemise. Padding barefoot to the window, she pushed back the white curtains and looked.
There was Jack, hovering, with his ripped jeans and black t-shirt, his hair loose around his shoulders. Amber saw her own reflection in the window —- her small-boned, five-one frame, like a bird; fair skin, with her Roman nose and mouth, light-brown hair down to her waist, dark brown eyes large and sleepy. She knew she wouldn't see Jack in that ghost mirror.
She opened the window. "What are you doing here?" she hissed. "It's hard enough keeping witch-hood from the McKenzies, they don't need to see me talking to flying vampires."
"Is that your name now?" Jack asked. "I thought you would keep Jeanna's name. All the women on your mother's side have kept the Calisti name."
"I did! I mean, I am. Jack, what are you doing here?"
"Let me in first."
With a sigh, Amber stepped back. "Come in."
He dropped to her floor silently, flexing like a cat. "How long have you been living here? And this just a foster home? Come on now, Amber, you're twenty years old. You could have left two years ago."
"And go where?" Amber folded her arms. "They take care of me. I'm finishing community college. As soon as I graduate, I'll leave."
"And how long before people start finding out?" Jack sat down on the bed, bouncing a little. His skin looked death-blue in the moonlight. "Your mother hid it, but I don't think you can. You've gotten too powerful."
"I know." Amber sat down next to him. "Is that what you came to talk to me about? You sound like you found something else for me."
He shrugged. "Sort of. Yes and no. Maybe?"
"Jack." She tilted her head at him. "No games."
He leaned in close, and as his mouth opened, she watched his canine teeth lengthen and grow sharp. "I have a secret to tell you," he said in a stage whisper.
Amber frowned, suddenly tensing. A shiver ran up her spine. Premonition. Not something bad, but not something good.
Jack brought his mouth next to her ear. "Your father was one of us," he whispered.
A shock from deep inside made her numb for an instant, but she kept breathing. "S-s-so? I'm already a witch. Half vampire's not so bad."
"It doesn't work like that." Now Jack's voice had a definite hiss in it. "You're no vampire. You'll only become half if you get turned. And because you're a witch you'll still be able to change back to being alive. It's a rare gift. A neat trick."
Amber closed her eyes. Her heart was pounding. "Why are you telling me this?"
Jack's left hand reached around to cup the side of her face, long cool blue-gray fingers indenting her skin. "Do you want it?" he asked. "I asked you once before, when your mother died. I thought you were ready then. It's your birthright, as a Calisti and as an Aureas."
"Aureas?" Amber opened her eyes. "That was my father's name?"
"He was born in Rome three centuries ago," Jack said. "Full-blood. Meracus Aureas. Your mother was part Greek, part Welsh, and part Romanian. She was born in Wales one hundred years ago. You have quite a heritage."
"Please," she gasped. "Jack, why are you telling me all this?"
"Something's happening," he said, still in that hissing whisper. "We need a hybrid. We need you. They're dying."
"Us. Our kind." His cold fingers brushed her hair from her neck and she shuddered involuntarily. "Something's trying to kill us. Before your father died, he asked me to come to you after you turned twenty. He asked me to bring you into your full heritage. We need you, Amber. We need you."
"He died?" Amber swallowed.
"He was staked. A month before you were born. His body turned to dust and his soul dissipated into the ether, like always. But he is still in you. Amber. Please?"
Too much, she thought. Not now. It's too unreal. It's too real.
"Can I think about it?" she whispered.
Jack was suddenly off the bed, standing on the floor, bending over her. "Don't take too long." And he was gone. A wind that was not a wind made the white curtains on her window billow into the room, like the dress Christabel must have worn in Coleridge's epic poem. Christabel had been seduced by a vampire.
Breathing deeply and harshly, Amber got up and slammed the window shut.

Behind the campus, several acres of woods stretched out green and thick in springtime. Amber usually went there a few times a week to meditate, or try out her powers where no one could see. Lately, and more often than not, she would be unceremoniously joined by a few vampires. Not that she minded. But it was slightly disturbing when she was trying to do work.
"I don't think the history professor wants to know your 'real' reasons behind the Black Plague, okay? The books say whatever they say, and the test is based on that. It's not based on truth. Or...or whatever you say is truth."
Delia looked at her with those wide green eyes. "Come on. Wouldn't they rather know the truth?"
"They already believe they do," Amber said. "But that's besides the point. And could all of you quit trying to read over my shoulder?"
"But it's so wrong!" the short, redheaded male vampire sitting beside Delia frowned melodramatically. "Those books don't teach you anything. You weren't there."
"And I suppose you were?" Amber shut the book and stood up. "It's hard for me to believe what you say, Liam. You lie like a dog."
He folded his arms. "Civil War. Renaissance. Salem trials. General Custer. I'm not that young, witch."
"Never said you were." Amber brushed grass off her jeans. "Did Jack send you guys to pester me, or are you just doing it because you're bored?"
Delia, Liam, Toby and Elle all exchanged glances. "Yes," Toby said. Amber rolled her eyes.
"Okay. All of you, out. Just…go. Get out of here." She waved her arms. "I don't need you, okay? I'm trying to be normal, for gods' sakes."
Elle cocked her head and stepped forward, holding out her pale arms. Amber had always thought she looked like a princess from Arthurian legend, with auburn ringlets and huge dark blue eyes. She was shorter than even Amber, by an inch or two. She clasped the girl's hands in hers. Her fingers were like ice.
"I'm not sure any of us could ever be that," she said quietly. "You're Calisti and Aureas. Those names are not synonymous with normal."
"Has anything ever been normal?" Amber murmured.
Elle smiled. "Not for a thousand years."
She sighed. "Figures. So what does Jack want?"
"You know what."
"Elle…I can't. I'm sure my father was a great man. But I can't." Amber sat back down on the grass, and Elle sat with her, long white dress floating around her. "If I do that, it's going to be a responsibility that I don't want. I'm not a Buffy the Vampire Slayer type. No offense."
"None taken." That came from Toby, who was smiling, his black hair and snowy skin almost blinding. "We're not asking you to be a kick-ass hero woman. We just want you to help out a little."
"You want me to save an entire world of creatures!"
"I did say only a little."
Amber huffed. "That is not little."
Toby dropped silently onto the grass, onto his side, propping himself up with his arm. "Hey, what's the year?"
Amber looked at him. "Please, you can't be that out of the loop. It's 2019."
Toby got a thoughtful look on his face, counting something on his fingers. "So...we have until March sixth next year."
Her eyes narrowing, Amber leaned toward him. "That's my birthday."
"Indeed. Your twenty-first birthday."
"March sixth, 2020," Delia sighed, tossing back her raven-dark hair as she sat. "A gateway will open in the sky above New England, right here, and extend out into space, ripping apart the fabric of this reality and allowing the forces of other dimensions to bleed through."
"Huh?" Amber's eyes grew very wide. "Other dimensions?"
Elle looked into her eyes. "You realize, little one, that we are not from this world. We are not of the human world, and neither are you. We are here in this reality because there need to be custodians on either side, those who must keep the gateways from opening."
"Wait...stop..." Amber held up her hands. "I can't...process all this...not right now...can you just tell me what it has to do with me? Is this why Jack wants me turned? Is it my parents? Something about my family? My powers? Elle..." Her heart was pounding; she felt like she was starting to hyperventilate.
"Sweetheart..." Elle took her hands. "We need you to listen. This is your birthright. You're the only one who can stop it."
"No." Amber shook her head wildly, hair flying in her face. "No. Too much responsibility. Too much...destiny! I'm not. I can't. I'm human!"
"You're not," Elle whispered. "You're not, you're Other."
"Stop that! I'm not some fill-in line on a census survey! I haven't been normal since I was born, and all I've been trying to do since I was thirteen was be normal. Other kids don't light fires or grow plants or move things or talk to animals or…walk inside people's dreams…or…" Her hands shook. "Damn it. This isn't fair. I hate this."
"I know." Elle drew Amber to her, resting the girl's head on her cool shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"Are you?" Amber whispered.
Elle kissed her forehead. "I'm a thousand years old, remember. I've seen lots of things. This isn't the first time this has happened."
"I figured that," Amber said quietly. "But it doesn't change how I feel."
"I know. It's a lot to process. But like it or not, this is still happening."
"So…" Amber smoothed her hair away from her face and sat up. "Are you like aliens? Is that what this whole 'dimensions' thing is about?"
"No," Delia said, crouching in front of her. "We're vampires—former humans. But because we've still retained our souls, we can see into other worlds, like the ether, the umbra. Beyond the veil or the curtain. The astral plane. Call it what you will. It's a supernatural sight. It has nothing to do with aliens or outer space. All the dimensions are within this world -— this realm. There are separate realities, of course. Separate realms."
"Of course," Amber muttered. "How could I forget about other dimensions?"
"Amber," Elle warned.
"I'm sorry. Remember, I'm still trying to process."
Delia smiled. "You have full acceptance of your inheritance as a witch, you're capable of understanding that you'll live at least a century, and yet you find it unusual that worlds exist beyond this one?"
Amber sighed. "'s not that at all. I know there are other worlds. I just don't want to be responsible for every single one. That's nature's problem. And the universe. Whatever's in charge."
"Who says anything is in charge of the universe?" Delia's smile became that knowing smirk that made her eyes glitter, as if she were hiding a mystery.
With an irritated noise, Amber dropped her head into her hands, fingers digging into her hair. "You guys drive me nuts. You know that, don't you?"
When she looked up, everyone was gone. There was only the green clearing, and the sun. She lay back on the grass with a hard thud. The sky stared back.

Jeanna Calisti never got sick. She was made of magic, and it was very easy to control her own body, destroy the virus or infection. So when she did get sick, and didn't get better, her newly teenaged daughter had called the vampires.
Jeanna kept three books close to her. A book of shadows journal. A hardbound, dusty old tome of ancient magics ranging almost two thousand pages. And another hardcover book, just as thick, concerning history and mythology and folklore. The morning that Amber found her mother still in bed, pale and shaking, the girl ran and dragged all three books to the kitchen table. She had just discovered her power to communicate with spirits, and now she stood staring down at the silent trio.
"My mother is sick," she said firmly. "My mother never gets sick. I want at least one of you to show me how to help her."
A wind that wasn't a wind stirred over the table, and then the smallest middle book, the black unmarked journal, flew open, pages flipping wildly. They stopped almost halfway through, and there at the very top of the page, in Jeanna's careful print, was a word scrawled in red ink. Vampyr.
Amber sat down and read. The sun glowed urgently in the window. There was no sound in the house except for the faucet dripping.
Turning the last entry page, Amber flipped back to the Vampyr page and read it all over again.
Scribbled under the last entry was a phrase. Amber ran her fingers over the gold ink and whispered it. "The hour is near. Open the gates. I summon thee."
There was a knock on the door.
"You called?" a voice hissed.

Amber jumped a good three feet. Then she rolled her eyes, threw the book down onto her bed, and made a big show of swinging her legs over the side of the bed, stomping over to the window, and throwing it open.
"No, I did not call you," she snarled. "And you stay out of my head. There is a phone in my room. With its own listing. You know how to use a phone."
Jack was smiling as he stepped down from the sill. Always smiling. "I know," he said. "But it's not as much fun as making you get all jumpy."
Grumbling, Amber stalked back to the bed, dramatically dropped down on it, and opened her book. She knew Jack wasn't buying it; and she wasn't that good of an actor —- or liar, for that matter. If she told Jack she was studying he would see right through her.
"What time did you get out of school?" he asked.
She glanced at him. "My last class ended at six, two hours ago."
"Is it always like that?"
"No. On Tuesdays I don't get out of math until ten. Why?"
Jack sat down on the edge of the bed. Amber automatically drew her legs further up. He gave her a look. She frowned back.
"The fantastic foursome came to see me today," she said.
"I know," said Jack.
"They told me about gateways, and things trying to destroy said gateways, and how it's my quote-unquote destiny to stop that from happening."
"Yes, I know."
Amber's look turned exasperated. "Why did you send them?"
"You just answered that."
"Grahh!" Amber threw the book down again, this time in real disgust. "Will you just...will you...I mean...aagghh!" She dropped her head in her hands. "Okay, then. Get it over with."
"What?" He sounded taken aback.
Amber looked at him. "Like you don't know."
He still looked puzzled.
She leaned forward. "Bite me. Turn me. Vampirize me, or whatever it is. Elle and company said that it was important I became a vampire. Or you said that. I don't remember now."
"Amber...darling…" Jack was inches away from her without having moved, his hands on the sides of her face. "This isn't a joke. And that is precisely why it's your choice."
She blinked. "What?"
He leaned back. "This is up to you. You can train for a year with your full powers, or you can pass everything up and we can try and win this battle by ourselves. We've done it before."
"But..." Her brow creased. "Have you ever had a hybrid like me?"
He shook his head. "No."
Amber considered it. "This isn't some guilt trip you're laying on me, is it?"
Jack tilted his head to the side. "Do you think it is?"
Sighing, she closed her eyes. "I don't know."
"Will you think about it?"
Amber got up and went to the window. She looked out at the sky. There were no clouds, and the blue was very deep and very bright. The sun was just setting. "I'll think about it," she said. "Do I have to go anywhere?"
"Physically or psychically?"
"Yes," Jack said. "And you have to be off the meds."
She started. "What? I can't do that! I've been on them two years. I can't just crash off epilepsy drugs."
"You can't have any man-made chemical drugs in your body," Jack told her. "We can find a way to help control the seizures. They're not generalized, right?"
She shook her head. "No, temporal lobe."
"Have you had any in the last few months?"
She bit her lip. "Two. They were complex partials. I started a fire with one of them. I think they're tied in with my powers."
He nodded. "I think we can help you with that."
"Oh, you always say that." But she smiled at him.
Jack laughed. "Amber, I'm a vampire. Things come easily. Besides, who says an epileptic witch can't control her seizures with her mind?"
"Because it's her mind that loses control, hence the seizures, hello?"
He smiled wide. "I keep forgetting how young you are. Did you know that Elle had seizures?"
Amber shook her head. She was starting to feel strange.
"They were still happening after she turned. But she and Delia found ways to keep them under control psychically. And neither of them are witches. How about that?"
"How about that," Amber repeated, slightly distracted. She didn't like talking about the epilepsy. It was triggering. The sky was too blue. There were no clouds. The sun was setting too fast; she couldn't feel the heat anymore.
"Oh, damn it. Amber? Are you okay? I'm sorry. Did I trigger you?"
She couldn't answer. She couldn't look at him. She focused on the window glass. It was slightly smudged. She reached up to run her finger across one of the smudges, and it felt like forever until she touched it. The glass felt warped and shimmery.
She heard Jack behind her, which was funny because she could never hear Jack. He touched the back of her head. "Close your eyes," he said.
She managed to open her mouth. "No."
"Yes. Close your eyes. I'll help you."
No, she said, but she couldn't talk anymore. The seizure broke through and grabbed her and she stumbled backwards. He caught her and led her to her bed. When she was lying down, she curled up on her side, fetal, and shook. Her stomach clenched. Waves, waves, waves, like static energy, all over her skin. She whimpered.
Jack lay down behind her, wrapped himself around her, held her close. "Amber," he said in a voice like water, "I want you to concentrate. Listen to my voice. Imagine a door. It's very strong. It's made of heavy metals: Steel, silver, platinum. Behind that door is your epilepsy. Right, now, the door is open. It's wide open. The seizures spill through because you can't close the door on your own. But I want you to close the door. Can you close the door, Amber?"
She shuddered repeatedly, closed her eyes. The door was right there, shining and huge. It was so quick, how it just appeared, so quick. It was heavy. She pushed it. The seizure pushed back. Amber felt herself begin to cry. This wouldn't work. She wasn't strong enough to stop a seizure; she wasn't strong enough to protect a whole other dimension.
But Jack was there. He was holding both her hands as they were clasped under her chin. "You can do this, little witch. Try harder." His voice was distant, echoing down that long narrow tunnel. A part of her broke off, broke away from the electric storm, and she followed it into a deeper part of her mind. She was fine here, not trapped in her body. She felt free. She felt strong.
Push the door shut. Push.
Amber felt the bottom of the world fall out from under her, and she screamed. And she felt something give, she felt power flood into her, rush through her. And as the door slammed shut on the epilepsy, she was tumbling down, screaming silently, but then she was --
Amber gasped loudly and jerked upright, in a cold sweat. She was shaking. She turned her head. Jack was lying next to her on the bed, head propped on his hand. He smiled. "See?" he said. "That's much better."
Amber stared at him. "That was too easy," she panted.
Jack smiled. "Not for a witch like you. Congratulations."
She just shook her head. She needed to sleep. This was all too much.
"I need sleep," she said, hoarsely.
He bowed his head slightly. "I'll see you later, then."
After Jack was gone, Amber lay there, in the dark, and stared at nothing, until her eyes closed before she realized and sleep took her.

That's all so far.

Date: 2007-03-19 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh That's Lovely! Such Fun Characters! I Can't Wait To Read More! :o)

Date: 2007-03-19 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! That's the first time someone has called my characters fun. You're right, they are fun. :)

Date: 2007-03-19 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They Really Are! :o)


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