Brooke stood in front of the entrance doors, gathering the courage to reach for the handle and open them, but she felt paralyzed by the fear. It would be the first time she went out since she was a Hostess, and despite now having her master’s possession mark, she feared what she would find behind those doors once she left the safety of the Mateo Castle.
The blonde knew through some other Hosts that the creatures from the Underground used to be hostile towards them, usually trying to attack them in the middle of the street or harassing them wherever they went. Not even a possession mark could stop them — due to that, the Hosts rarely went out if they weren’t accompanied by their masters.
But Brooke didn’t have any clue where on Earth was Vanessa, and besides, she used to have a life before… well, this. She had friends she hadn’t seen in months, shops she loved to visit, places she hung out at with said friends and all that jazz. She shouldn’t be so worried about the outside world — she was exactly the same as she was before.
“C’mon, Brooke, you can do this...” she thought, pulling the handle and taking a minute to breath before she was outside.
Everything was the same: the pale light coming from the lanterns, the smell of smoke and death, creatures of the night coming and going, not stopping to look at her — by the look of it, she didn’t have anything to fear.
Brooke took one step, then another, until she was wandering in the streets with no final destination and lost in her thoughts.
She arrived at the Black Magic Market without even noticing, only snapping off her trance when a woman offered her a white rabbit by practically shoving it in her face.
Brooke had visited the Black Magic Market before; the Matriarch had taken her there on her fifth birthday, when Brooke asked why her fangs didn’t appear like it happened with the rest of the little vampires of the clan.
“You see, Brooke, the truth is you’re not really a vampire; you’re a witch, just like these people.” She motioned to the creatures around them. “Your mother gave you to us because...” The Matriarch doubted for a moment, but sighed in the end. “Well, she owed us a favor and couldn’t afford the payment.”
The little blonde frowned, feeling an itch in her fingers when they passed a woman selling all kinds of magical artifacts.
“Where’s my mama then?” Brooke wondered, looking everywhere in amusement, feeling a strange connection with every object.
The Matriarch shrugged. “We haven’t had any contact with her in years.”
Brooke stopped dead in her tracks when she saw a strange necklace in a woman’s stand, she couldn’t explain why or how, but she felt as if it belonged to her. She wanted to reach for it and place it around her neck, but she knew she wasn’t allowed to have or ask for any other gift; aunt Valeria had gifted her a stuffed bunny in the name of the whole clan, meaning she couldn’t ask for anything else — still, a voice inside her was whispering to just take it and run, run so fast that the Matriarch wouldn’t catch her, to head where the sun goes to die and...
Brooke felt overwhelmed by the sudden memory, shaking her head to try to stop it. She turned on her heel and tried to remember the way back to the castle, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Brooke?” The blonde turned around and when she saw her good friend Yvie Oddly, she couldn’t help but smile. “Bloody hell, it is you! I thought your master had already drained you!” Yvie pulled her into a hug, happy to see her. Brooke reciprocated within a minute.
“Surprisingly, my master is… She’s good. Yeah,” she admitted with a small smile, breaking the embrace. “How are you, anyway? It’s been a long time,” Brooke questioned, beginning to walk next to Yvie, who had a big basket full of all kinds of items.
“Pretty good, I guess.” She shrugged. “My shop’s going well, family’s alright...” Yvie was in silence for a moment, before she rolled her eyes with a groan. “But this fucking vampire I met the other day at Shuga’s, ugh, I feel like she’s following me, y’know? Wherever I go, she’s always there — I wanna beat her undead ass so badly,” Yvie complained, earning a laugh from Brooke.
“Who’s this vampire? Anyone I know?” Brooke inquired with an amused smile.
“Bitch, I wish it was a Mateo, I really do.” Yvie looked around and then came closer to Brooke’s ear. “It’s Scarlet Envy.”
The blonde gasped, completely surprised.
“Oh Yvie, no, you can’t get in trouble with an Envy, let alone the heiress of the clan! Don’t you remember you’re an Oddly?” Brooke scolded, Yvie groaned; she knew her friend was right.
The Oddlys and Envys were two of the most ancient clans in the Underground — and the biggest enemies since the beginning of time. It was said that Damien Envy, first Master of the clan, killed Zulema Oddly’s firstborn; the reason behind the Matriarch’s accusations were that Damien was the only vampire in his family —and the Underground for that matter— that fiercely refused to have a Host, and was known to have tricked many creatures to feed off them before.
Damien naturally denied the accusations, claiming Zulema was insane and probably sacrificed her own baby for some sort of ritual; Zulema, overtook by the rage and pain, killed him in his sleep.
Ever since then, the families swore to despise each other till the end of times.
If Yvie ever dared to touch one single strand of Scarlet’s hair, the whole clan would hunt her family down without thinking twice. Being the heiress, she was untouchable, and her family would die for her; quite literally.
“It’s not like she’s the Matriarch, yet,” Yvie replied, evading the question. “I mean, she’ll take the lead of the clan if that old hag Amaya decides to retire one day — but meanwhile, she’s just another stupid vampire,” she mocked while rolling her eyes.
“But that doesn’t mean you can go around messing with an Envy just because,” Brooke insisted, “You seem to forget the fact that if Naomi does marry that shape shifter, Kim Chi, you’re the next one in line to rule your family. You don’t plan on going to war with the Envys on your first year as Matriarch, do you?”
Yvie chewed on her lip. She knew the probabilities of her sister marrying Kim were high up in the sky and she didn’t like that; unlike Naomi, a natural born ruler, Yvie was rather the odd one out — which really was ironic considering their surname.
If Yvie inherited the clan, it’d inevitably go downhill. She didn’t have leadership skills, let alone the respect of her family. She sighed, trying to change the subject.
“Anyway, we still have to do something for your 21th birthday, don’t you dare to think we forgot.” Yvie gave her a mischievous smile, and Brooke squealed.
“Oh yes! The Mateos didn’t do anything for my birthday, just gift me to Vanessa.” She rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t feeling that well on my birthday, anyway. I had a weird feeling in my chest all day, y’know? Like something wasn’t functioning well in my heart.”
Yvie hummed. “Perhaps it's something related to the clan you’re originally from?” She offered, but Brooke shrugged.
“I don’t know much about my original family, and honestly I prefer it that way; why would I want to meet the woman that gave me away for some bars of gold and the family that didn’t talk her out of it?” The blonde complained.
She’d always have that resentment over her unknown clan; they stripped her away of her original destiny and left her to be vampire's food. Just for the fact that she ended up having a Master as kind as Vanessa didn’t mean she was any less bitter.
Yvie sighed, patting her friend on the shoulder.
“I know, Blondie, I know. Just let it all out.”
The witches carried on with their conversation, unaware of a pair of icy eyes following every move they made.
It was well past midnight when Brooke was awoken by a noise in the hallway. She rummaged through her nightstand and found a candle and a match. Lightning it, she stepped outside her room, deciding to find the origin of the noise.
There was a baby crying somewhere, but she couldn’t find where. She was walking down a dark hallway, with the only light coming from the candle she was holding.
It was strange, she thought; nobody in the clan was pregnant, or so she knew. Perhaps it was another abandoned baby that’d grow up to be a Host? A chill ran down her back, desperately wanting to get ahold of the little creature and protect them from their destiny.
The more Brooke tried to run, the more it looked like she was stuck running in circles. She was about to give up, when suddenly, she heard a laugh behind her. She turned around and almost jumped off her skin when she noticed the baby stroller behind her, illuminated by a single light.
Brooke took a step forward, peeking into the stroller, and she couldn’t help but smile at the baby looking back at her, with their giant blue eyes full of innocence and curiosity. With her free hand, she tried to reach for the baby, but she was stopped when the stroller was pulled back by someone else.
“Are you sure about this? You know you won’t be able to get her back,” a familiar voice spoke. Brooke frowned, what was the Matriarch doing there and what was she talking about?
Before she could ask anything, there were inaudible whispers echoing in the walls. The Matriarch hummed.
“Then so be it.”
A sudden cold breeze hit her, and when she tried to brace herself against it, she felt a hand wrapped around her ankle, a scream of fear left her lips as she dropped the candle, accidentally falling in her left foot. Another scream of pain arrived, but it was muffled because of the ground; she’d fallen flat in her face.
“No! Let me go!” She pleaded, but with each scream, the stranger dragged her with more strength.
Brooke dug her nails in the floor, feeling them crack under the pressure — it would probably leave a bloody mess that’d attract some vampires.
She squeezed her eyes shut, feeling dizzy and completely hopeless. How in hell had she ended up like that?
The blonde felt a hand on her shoulder that violently dug their nails into her flesh.
“Brooke?” The witch snapped her eyes open when she heard that voice. Vanessa. “What are you doing?” Her master inquired with worry while holding a torch, and Brooke took advantage of the light to look around.
She was at the very end of the West Side of the Mateo Castle, where the Hosts usually lived. Almost immediately she looked at her hands; they were milky white as always, without a single scratch. She was about to relax and dismiss everything as a dream when she noticed the flying objects around them; paintings, parts of antique armors, mundane decorations, etc.
“Am I doing that?” She questioned, afraid of the answer. Vanessa cocked a brow.
“You tryin’ to tell me you didn’t know you was making these shits fly? Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re the only witch livin’ in this side of the castle.”
Brooke bit her lower lip, the objects around them falling loudly to the ground as embarrassment washed over. Sometimes she forgot she was a witch; after never having learned a single spell or potion recipe, she guessed her magic was asleep and would never manifest.
“I’m sorry, Master,” the blonde apologized, and Vanessa loosened her grip on her shoulder, now stroking it gently.
“It’s okay, darling. It’s not your fault not knowing’ how to control your powers,” Vanessa reassured her, placing a hand behind her back and making her begin to walk next to her. “Care to tell me what happened?”
Brooke breathed in hard, as she heard the cries of that baby in her head and the words of the Matriarch replayed in her mind.
“I had a nightmare, and I guess I’m a sleepwalker. Funny combo, huh?”
But the heat in her left foot and the finger marks she found the next day on her left foot made Brooke realise it couldn’t have been just a dream.