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Immortal Shadows

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Prelude

Demons run when a good man goes to war

Night will fall and drown the sun

When a good man goes to war

Friendship dies and true love lies

Night will fall and the dark will rise

When a good man goes to war

Demons run, but count the cost

The battle's won, but the child is lost

When a good man goes to war

Thirst courses inside inside a vampire’s mind in a way no human could comprehend. You can always try and deprive yourself from blood if your conscience affects you, but it is always there, clawing for every ounce of space in your skull. For near a thousand years, I have dealt with that wretched thrumming, and throughout that I quenched in with the blood of the sinful, the cruel, and every other human monster I could find -- right up until I met Carlisle Cullen. Human, vampire, werewolf; it never mattered what someone was. Everyone has the capacity to be a monster, but when I kill them, I feel a sense of purpose by ridding the world of monsters. I’ve found, monstrosity is relative term.

The decline away from innocence is a natural state, but to tear innocence apart has always repulsed me. Let the other monsters of this world stalk and hunt down the innocent. The most enjoyable of all hunts was to hunt down the monsters that preyed on children. They would kick and scream, and it would be all for naught. Plus, most of these so called predators tend to break something during the frantic running; although, while amusing, it never seemed like justice enough for their victims.

If I was born in this era, I’d have been driven insane. Monsters around every corner, and nothing to be done with them. I’d have been glad to be a human feeding vampire in this age though. Megan’s Law and other databases would make sorting my prey infinitely easier. Sadly, I ran into Carlisle during the Napoleonic Wars, and I’ve not drank a drop of human blood since. I will admit; I’ve killed a lot of people, vampires, and others since then.

I’ve always hated slavery. I doubt even Carlisle would complain if he knew a few slave ships headed to America disappeared in the mid-Atlantic or that a child killer died in their sleep -- hey, even I could be subtle. Sometimes purging the world of these monsters was more important than my own sadism. I had to stop things like that with the progress of human technology and the Volturi’s insistence, annoying bastards. Killing a shipful of people and returning their victims halfway around the world is, apparently, a little more noticeable these days.

A near millenia has left me with a unique mindset I think. Morality is such a subjective notion. From the Greeks, to Romans, to the European tribes, to medieval Europe, to the New World, to revolutionary France, to Victorian England, all the way up to the cradle of modernity the concept of what is moral has changed so radically that watching news programs argue about contemporary issues makes me laugh. Some things never change. Political posturing about what is ‘right’ is one of them.

In ancient Greece, relationships between men were quite common accepted. It was annoying that changed. I may not have exactly ‘dated,’ but there were a couple centuries there were my sexuality and notions of gender wasn’t exactly smiled upon; although, some other cultural changes have been kind to me. The vampire in popular culture is supposed to be a sexual being that sappily falls in love with a human teenager, and they are just misunderstood creatures of the night. I love that. In medieval times the accusation of being a vampire would have brought out the torches. Nowadays, that superstitious wariness has dropped substantially, and my fear of being detected has lessened significantly. Honestly, I’m glad that when Bram Stoker is assigned, the majority of the class will sigh and think ‘not another vampire story.’

I’m not a misunderstood love interest with a predilection for brooding. I have torn human -- and not so human -- beings, skin from muscle, muscles from sinew and bone, and limb from limb for my own amusement. To be fair I’m sure some people would consider this to be unimaginably evil, but I’ve found otherwise. Humanity has the capability for egregious evil on its own. If a pedophile cruelly uses a child for their own pleasure, is it evil to mete out justice? This doesn’t mean I believe in an-eye-for-an-eye. Rather, I have my own personal tastes for pleasure.

The carnage of my youth may have led to an inhuman level of bloodlust, but it was my first few centuries of quietly watching humanity’s cruelty to one another that birthed my interest in one of the other basest of desires; pain. Pain and blood dominated my life for around seven centuries. Pain and suffering are a universal truth in all beings in this world. All of us can and will experience it at some point, but it is pushing that feeling to its extremities where a true understanding of life can be found.

If all creatures could truly come to understand the depths of agony then I honestly believed they would not desire to inflict. Pain is a bitter but necessary medicine for the wicked, and I devoted my life to honing the skills necessary to administering it. That was, until I met Carlisle Cullen. I think the year was 1804, and I think we met somewhere north of Manchester and south of Edinburgh. I fear that I initially horrified him thoroughly, but to be honest I’m glad he pushed that feeling down and tried to befriend me. It had been ages since I had found someone so amiable to converse with.

When we first met I could see myself in his eyes. At 5’5” and 120 pounds I was not the most impressive being on this world. When I became an immortal, I was about 14 to 16 years old. My human years are fuzzy, but considering my strength and talent for killing, I’m guessing I’m on the older end of that range. I remember I was turned around 1095 AD because the First Crusade had just begun, and physically I am strong enough to kill another vampire thanks to my gift. It would be nice to have a birthday though. My shoulder-length black hair had a natural twist in it that gave it almost a ringlet type curl that sweeps across my face. My eyes were the easiest to see in the reflection though, bright, shining red. I always thought it made a nice combination with my tawny skin. That and my pitch black hair made my eyes glint from under my hair in a way that was both inhumanly beautiful and simply inhuman. Sue me, I’m vain.

I made no attempts to hide what I was when I met him because I rarely let people, vampire and human alike, see me and live in general -- however, the moment he opened his mouth, I knew I could never bring harm to this man. He asked me the usual things I hear when meeting one of my own kind for the first time. How old are you? Are you all alone (this was the first time I felt genuine empathy instead of feeling like I was being sized up)? When I answer about 14 to 16 and yes, I could see compassion swell behind his eyes. That was also a first. Genuine compassion from a species that literally has to take life to survive is not all that common, but it was welcome, if not needed. After living so long without having genuine kindness given to me so freely, I had forgotten how… content, it could feel.

Then the questions start to get interesting. He asked me how old I really was, and he found the response “for a long time” to be drolly interesting. However, I had to go on to explain to him that I didn’t consider myself to be old – who would as a teenager, immortal or not – but instead considered myself to be playing with the bounding line between youthful and eldritch. My answer confused him, but then again, he hadn’t been that old back then. I may be ancient, but I was frozen at a young teenage point in life; however, at the same time, that was almost approaching adulthood in my time.

I’m always amused by assumptions though. I admit to being older than him temporally, but he insisted on an almost patronizing tone with me because of my physical age. Furthermore, it had been annoying as hell when he referred to me as ‘little girl’ once. I had no interest in going into that conversation during the pre-Victorian period, but I swear a bit of cloth and the right body structure and people will assume you are one gender or the other. Not much fluidity in their minds back then -- and still now at times sadly. However, I have never really liked classifications myself. When I was human, there wasn’t even an understanding of hygiene. However, as humans learned, developed, and created, I watched. And I learned. Classifications still do not come easily to me.

Male, female, sexuality, age; all these mean nothing to me personally. I am Safak, The Butcher of Jerusalem. Nothing more or less. However, it was an interesting talk when I tried to explain this to him. He was an intelligent and forward thinking man, but he was limited in his scope of understanding due to the time. But so was I. Hell, Mary Wollstonecraft died in 1797, and she was one of the first proto-feminists. It wasn’t until the late, late 20th century that academics had the terminology the begin discussing these topics. I am old enough to have seen and admittedly aided in the Crusades (Saladin had a good go there for a while with some extra help), meet Leonardo da Vinci, found undiscovered parts of this world, and watched countless empires rise and fall. And Carlisle had been turned shortly after Shakespeare’s time. His few centuries of biased thought probably didn’t help the conversation. However, I adored him for trying with an open mind.

For whatever reason I felt the need to explain my beliefs on morality and humanity to him as our conversation went on. I blame the urge on the compassion he showed me and his own admittance of his beliefs. It made me want to share for the first time in a long time. He may not have agreed with my views, at all, but he listened without judgement. I admitted during our long talk that his ‘vegetarian’ way of life was far better than endlessly hunting humans; I’ll admit that he was not only empathetic but quite persuasive. From there the reasonings for my belief in truth found in pain began to crack at its foundation.

I hunted the wretches of humanity, and I inflicted pain as I saw fit accordingly for centuries. However, after discovering I could live off animals, something I really cannot believe I didn’t think of myself, I realized that meant I wasn’t required to kill people to survive. This left my sadism and bloodlust without clearly defined need and purpose, and to be honest, there’s a difference in sadistically enjoying killing a monster because you have no other choice and doing the same simply for the kicks. Or maybe I grew a bit lazy? Honestly, there’s a lot to do in a world for an immortal, and not having to research if your prey is an asshole takes some time off your hands. Still, when it comes to a fight, I can be enough of a sadist to make dearly beloved, immense sarcasm intended, Jane blush… if she could.

It may shock people like Carlisle to comprehend my motives, but with my lifetime of experience, I find that any sensations are worth exploring. Pain happened to be one of them. The first time I saw a hint at disappointment in those compassionate eyes was when he realized I had the capability to be a class four sadist, but again, he hadn’t seen what I had or lived the hell I had.

So, I used my meals as a way to explore. However, after I took up Carlisle’s diet, I was no longer forced to hunt humans as a necessary factor of my life. Without that absolute need, I noticed a drop in some of my more sadistic tendencies; rather the frequency I indulged in them dropped. Without the need to feed and the time it took back then to find the wicked -- which was a lot without modern technology to be honest -- I found myself with more free time than I previously had. While I still am a self-admitant sadist, there’s far too much in this world to focus solely on physical sensations and exploration. That, and after a few centuries, you start to run out of crap to do to people. So, I tried to find hobbies. First, I set out travelling. I explored the world, studied its people, and discovered as many secrets as I could. After that, reading, writing, and other entertainments that drew me out of reality were appealing -- after all, once you’ve seen everything, fiction becomes another form of exploration.

Plus, I’ve come to love modern conveniences. Television, video games, hot tubs, air conditioning, pornography, Amazon, computers, and satellite telephones ranked amongst my favorite human inventions. Did I mention hot tubs? Horror, science fiction, fantasy, video-games, comics, novels, and movies… humanity has created a massive amount of escapist material that I won’t be able to go through even with my immortality. Sadly, depending on your viewpoint, I had to further dampen my sadism for the sake of exploring these entertainments. However, there is occasionally some idiot vampire that wants to test themselves against The Butcher of Jerusalem. Anyone stupid enough to try that is just begging to get their ass tortured in my opinion.

A few decades ago, I bought a massive amount of land in Canada’s Northwest Territories. I was relatively near the Denali’s, and I was able to create a place -- a compound rather -- to live. A large wall surrounds the immediate area that I live, with a significant security system. Outside of that, I have a small lake and forest in my property, but the majority of my actual living space is underground. Within the walls, I have a mansion that looks like a large Tahoe styled home above ground with an immense underground facility. Altogether, you have a great vegetarian vampire dwelling. Plus, I’ve come to love modern conveniences. Television, video games, hot tubs, air conditioning, pornography, Amazon, computers, and satellite telephones ranked amongst my favorite human inventions.

Eventually during our discussions, Carlisle noticed things about my physiology that were not typical of the average vampire. However, since he had gotten past my penchant for flaying I decided to be honest with him.

I told him of my youth in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and how being as old as I am creates a slightly ethereal appearance, like with the Volturi or Romanians. The First Crusade brought more than crusaders to the Holy Lands. Vampires in ages past were drawn to wars; wars were open season for hunting without discrimination. However, there is a reason the Volturi banned this practice -- me. When a vampire gorges endlessly, there is a miniscule chance that in their blood-fever, they might move from one victim to another without killing them. I told him about the pain while I hid myself underneath the desert sand, he understood that all too well. He mentioned that he met others as old as me, the Volturi, and I told him of my past with them.

Vampires in Central America think they created the idea of a vampiric army. They were sadly mistaken.

From about 1095 AD to 1200 AD, the Holy Lands were soaked in blood. The humans may have started it, but our kind brought the carnage to its climax. When I awoke as a vampire, I noticed my gift immediately. I had no words back then to describe it to Carlisle, but modern fiction writers have helped this type of taxonomizing. Intangibility. Astral Projection. I can move my body through other objects, and when I solidify, it pushes matter outward from mine. Makes killing vampires without gifts rather easy. Even a vampire needs a brain to move, and with my gift I can phase my hand inside their skull, re-materialize, and rip my arm out.
When I use my gift, it feels like my body cannot stay in one place. I vibrate in a dozen instances at once. Within a week of turning, my ability saved my life. Vampires had become territorial, much like in Central America today. The first group I met tried to kill me. Apparently, it is hard to kill something you can’t touch.

And so began the next two centuries. Armies would be created and decimated in a cyclical orchestra of annihilation. I never needed an army. I could wipe out a dozen vampires without a hint of a struggle. I also dabbled in balancing the scales on the human side; however, I don’t like killing the innocent. And while some may say no soldier is innocent, there is a difficult line there I don’t cross. However, some of the more… perversely brutal officers in the army? They were open game for me. Plus, moral is huge in war. Finding your officer flayed on a rack and hung by his intestines creates some desertion apparently. However, all things eventually come to a climax.

Thus came Johannes. He was the first of my kind that I found with an ability, tracking. He used it to survive the destruction of his first, second, and third covens. After a time, I became his mission in life, most likely after I killed his mate. He created army after army and used his gift to find me each time. The final army he brought to me consisted of 87 vampires. Even with my gift, it was mayhem. I killed them, but they decimated several villages in the sprawling battle. I couldn’t keep the newborns off of the humans, to my genuine dismay.

When I finally killed Johannes, I found myself confronted by the Volturi. They decreed that every vampire in the Holy Lands was to be cleansed, and I was one of the chief culprits of the destruction.

Jane. I told Carlisle of her gift, and the darkening of his eyes spoke enough for me to know he saw firsthand the horror of her gift. It was the first time in my immortal life I felt pain, but the moment I became intangible, the pain went away. The Volturi and I danced like this for about a week straight. They would use their gifts on me, and I would become intangible to avoid it. I couldn’t kill them, and they couldn’t kill me.

After a time, their leaders decided to try diplomacy instead, rather, Aro decided. I showed him my memories, and he saw it all; a human life of neglect, abuse, and starvation; a life of vampirism where I never rested, always awaiting the next battle. He offered me peace. Leave the carnage and let the Volturi finish cleansing the vampires from this war, and they would forgive my transgressions. I sometimes wonder why he didn’t offer me a position with them, but if he truly can see into the hearts and minds of others, he no doubt wanted me as far from him as possible. I know his type. Dictators hiding behind white hats. Aro is a monster with an alabaster smile. If he and his ‘dear ones’ were humans, I’d have hunted them with extreme prejudice and savored every wonderful moment of it. If I had stayed with him, it’d have only been to figure out how to inevitably kill him. This truce was his way of putting distance between something that could threaten his beloved coven.

Carlisle listened to every minute detail of my story. Unlike Aro, he asked me about my reasons, drives, and desires. He wanted to understand why I killed so many. I can count those I consider friends on a single hand. And Carlisle Cullen became the very first of my friends after that day. He invited me along with him and offered to help me transition into a new way of life. I refused. He had his own life to explore, and I didn’t dare join him. I was poison. I still am to some degree. But at that time, I would have not been the company he needed, despite his desire to help me. Over the decades since he left to the Americas, I have occasionally made contact with him. The Denali coven became immensely useful to that point. They were always in the same general location, yet they had the means of contacting Carlisle.
A few years ago, after I built my house, I gave my satellite phone number to the Denalis with instructions to pass it on to Carlisle, in case he had an emergency. He is the only person to every use my phone number. He’s called a few times, and I look forward to our conversations. That’s why I’m delighted right now. My phone is currently ringing.

“Hello Carlisle, how is your family? Where have you moved to now,” I ask with genuine interest.

“Hello old friend,” he replied with a far too tired tone for an immortal. “We are living in Forks, Washington at the moment. As to how we are, that’s why I am calling. I’ve already called the Tanya, and the Denalis have declined to help us.”

“Help you?” I asked him. It is unlike Carlisle to get into trouble and unlike the Denalis to be willing to help him.

“Yes. Recently, things have been a bit on the unpleasant side, particularly for my son Edward. Would you like the short or long story?” he asked me.

“Short. Always give the short story first Carlisle. It’s more dramatic,” I replied with a bit of mirth.

“Edward is mated to a human girl. The Volturi are threatening us based on her knowledge of our kind. And a newborn army has been created in Seattle with the intention of wiping out my family,” he said with one of the weariest tones I had ever heard.

“If I push myself, I can be there in about thirteen to fourteen hours. Anything I should know or can I head out now?” I asked in a blur. Carlisle is too kind, and while I haven’t met them, I doubt any of his family have seen the damage a vampiric army can unleash.

“Yes,” he replied, “there are shapeshifters in the area. They have agreed to help us, but we cannot enter there land. You can approach from the east, but don’t cross the Quileute tribal lands. We are preparing a training session with them if you can make it.”

“I’ll make it. I’m on my way” I replied quickly as I hung up. Damn it Carlisle. What have you gotten yourself into? Shit. Well, at least it looks like I’m going to be killing some vampires sometime soon.