|Screams. Piercing screams of a female rang out shrewdly as the noise broke the silence of the domus, the place where I had lived out my last human years so long ago, and subsequently my early vampire years. A young woman, no older than twenty years, emerged into the atrium where I had been commanded to wait by my former and sadly now, current Master. The deplorable vampire’s blood tainted my human veins, ultimately preventing my escape. With these cries, my deep thoughts and calculations had been interrupted as I gazed at the star dusted heavens through the large rectangular compluvium in the ceiling.
Tears streaked down her face as she scrambled across the large room, the focal point of the domus. Her crystal-blue colored eyes locked on to mine, wide with desperation and driven by the instinct for survival. She gathered the skirt of her tattered robes in her hands, lifting the hem slightly so she could swiftly make her way to me.
I turned away from her with a heavy heart that now beat rhythmically in my chest as I cast my eyes downward in shame. There was nothing I could do for her. I vaguely remembered witnessing such atrocities on numerous occasions during this chapter of my life. So much so, that my compassion had become hardened by it, hardened for my own need to survive, which had served me well during this dark time.
“Godric,” she sobbed desperately with a Gaulish accent. My eyes widened in surprise, for it had been so long since the sweet melody of my native tongue graced my ears. I did not remember this woman, yet she knew my name. I turned back to her with a look of pity on my face, however it was soon replaced by awe and wonder as thoughts from my human life, lost in the ocean of time, conjured up long forgotten memories.
These memories were buried deep within my ancient subconscious, filed away as insignificant remembrances, but when I saw the intricate design of the tree of life tattooed across her brow, only hidden moments ago by her sandy hair, a flood of nostalgia swelled within me. Such a mark could only signify her high status as a druidess among the Gaulish tribes. Slaves from Gaul were not uncommon in the years following Caesar’s victory over my homeland, but one of her high standing was a rare sight to behold.
“Godric, I fear the demon is set upon draining me this night. Please, Godric, you must assist me. The demon favors you above all others.” A single, silvery tear fell from her cheek, reflecting the beam of moonlight visibly streaming through the compluvium.
I shook my head, trying to remain indifferent, for I had come to guard my life jealously over the centuries; such was the way of vampires. I have seen so much death in my life; even caused so much of it myself, that one mere human should make little difference to me. This reminded me of my abominable nature that I so despised, which had spurred me to the rooftop in the first place. “I am sorry wise woman,” I stated giving her the respect due her station. “But there is little I, a mere mortal, can do to help you. Your fate, I am afraid, was sealed the moment you stepped within this domus.”
She raised her head in shock, her eyes narrowed incredulously. “You would abandon a sister of your own flesh? I, who have trained you in war and wisdom. I, who have fought beside you in many a battle. I, who have slated the alter-stone countless times with the blood of our enemies in your name as I prayed to the Spirits?” She looked away, her eyes wet with emotion and turmoil as her weary lids tightly shut bespeaking the shattering of her heart.
“Sister?” I whispered stepping closer to her and searching her face. She looked back to me, her eyes wide and full of vulnerability. Of course, this woman was of my blood, yet I had only spent a fraction of my earliest existence in her company. I recalled the tenderness that she lavished upon me in those early years, as well as the brutal way in which she perished within the walls of this very domus. “Alia?”
“Yes, Godric. It is I, Alia. What magic has the demon woven upon your mind? By the Spirit of Earth we must escape this hell! Do not fear brother, I will drive the magic from your mind once the demon falls to slumber. It is true that my training was not complete, yet as you know, I stand before you well versed in the art of divinity and the elements.” She rambled with determination. “But for now you must help me Godric, for I fear that once the sun rises I will find myself a spirit among the fairy folk of the Otherworld.”
I raised my eyebrows remembering that the Gaulish people believed the fairy realm was the afterlife. I had pondered many a night when I discovered the vampire myth of fairies, how it had so closely aligned with my people’s mythological beliefs. In fact, the majority of Celtic religion during my human years, revolved around the mythical fairies and their unity with nature and the elements. For all of my years on this Earth, the two millennia that I have walked every corner of the globe, I have never found evidence that a fairy nor fae realm exists.
“Sister,” I said spurred into action. “Has our Master forced his blood on you yet?”
“Yes, you know this Godric, for you witnessed the abhorrent actions of the demon only two moons ago when he forced his loathsome blood upon me. I am a prisoner of these walls, just as you are. It is no secret that he can easily discover our whereabouts no matter our location.”
“Listen to me Alia. When our Master enters the atrium do not speak. Allow me to save your life and speak on your behalf. If all goes according to plan, your life will be spared. But if you utter one word you will die this night.”
My mind was working in a frenzy that it would have never been capable of the first time I stood upon this spot. Alia’s eyes widened at the revelation of her demise and the knowledge that if she did not adhere to my words she would surely parish. I did not wish to frighten her, but I needed to convey the importance of this moment to her. If my foggy human memory served me correctly, this was the night my sister lost her life to the blood lust of our Master.
As if a surreal nightmare replayed itself yet again, our Master, known as Titus Marcus Batiatus, made his appearance as he ambled into the atrium half dressed. He casually sauntered towards us and dipped his chin wickedly, licking his lips and leering at my sister.
“Dominus,” I said looking him in the eyes. My boldness surprised him and he momentarily stopped to look at me. “A messenger from one named Pythoness has graced our domus beseeching me to deliver an inquiry to you.” This was a falsehood, but now armed with 2000 years of knowledge, I was determined to spare my sisters life. I had a long history with the Ancient Pythoness and knew that she too lived in Rome during this era.
His jaw visibly slacked in shock before he spoke. “The Pythoness honors me with a message? What of it Godric? Speak slave.” He commanded.
I glanced over at Alia. “Perhaps I should deliver the message to you, Dominus, within the privacy of the tablinum?”
Not taking his eyes from mine, he waved his hand impatiently at my sister. “You know I don’t like females anyway. Be gone girl. I only honored you with my attentions because I was curious if you were as pleasurable to bed as Godric.”
My jaw visibly clenched at his statement, but I quickly regained my stoic expression. This very inclination that the vile creature possessed had spared my sister’s virtue for the time being, which I was grateful for, but it had condemned me to many deplorable moments that I had put out of my mind so long ago. It was only a matter time before I was subjected to his attentions now that I was reliving my past.
I would be subjected to it for the remainder of my human life, which by my calculation was only a few more months based off the knowledge that my sister was destined to die tonight.
That would make the year 44 B.C. The Ides of March, alternately known as the 15th of March as modern humans called it. Then after my eventual turning, I would be forced to engage in his sick fantasies for another century to come before I beheaded him. At this point, I had been in my Master’s service for seven years, captured when I was a mere ten human years. I had already been hardened by several battles at such a tender age, but that was the life of a Gaul as the Romans marched into our homeland, the loathsome Mark Antony at their head.
Alia reluctantly turned to walk out of the Atrium, giving me one last longing glance as she departed. She knew not of the hardships I had endured for the last seven years at the hands of Titus. I took great care to spare her that knowledge, for fear it would break her heart and further weaken her spirit. As my memories stirred within me, I recalled how her presence had given me comfort during this frightening part of my life, and how I had fallen into a hopeless pit of despair after her death. That was when my reckless behavior began, when I cared not if I lived or died as I became lost in a cloud of hatred and darkness.
I followed Titus as he glided into the tablinum and stood patiently before him, waiting for his vile mouth to open to give his permission for me to speak. Oh how I deplored this. It was ironic really, I have lived as one of the most powerful beings in the world and now I stood a mere mortal, how humbling it was. However, if I valued my life at all I must play the part. As it stood, there were others who were relying on me. My sister Alia needed me to protect her, which I had so miserably failed at accomplishing the first time I experienced these events. Sookie Stackhouse was relying on me as well. Sookie does not even realize the miracle she has performed, the new beginning she has given me. She has bestowed upon me a gift I never dreamed possible, the chance to change my wicked past; to correct my shortcomings and fallacies that has damned my soul and plagued my twisted heart for centuries.
“Speak slave. What of the Pythoness? What message has she bestowed upon me?” Titus said trying to act casual as he pulled a book from the shelf and leafed through the pages.
“She wishes you to present yourself and your favored boy.” Of course, this favored boy being myself, but I would not show presumption in front of Titus. He would know the meaning of the words.
“Why does she want to see you?” He narrowed his eyes.
“I know not Dominus, for I am but a lowly slave.” I smugly smiled in my mind but my face remained ignorant and boyish. The Ancient Pythoness was a valued friend, our association having stretched through the length of my vampire life, but at this point she would have never met me. She was very astute and in tune with the second sight. I could only hope that she would sense the monumental importance of our meeting and request an audience with me in private.
As I believe the modern saying goes, I have successfully killed two birds with one stone. How that is physically possible for a mere human to do, proceeds me not. But the modern humans have their ways of speaking, quite different from my time. Essentially, I have distracted my Master’s attentions from my sister, and I hope that I will be able to secure our freedom through the Pythoness.
“Ah yes, but what a delicious little slave you are.” He said stepping to me and running one of his sickly fingers across my jaw. “Very well, we shall grace the Pythoness with our presence on the morrow when I rise. Many changes are soon to come, my morsel. By this time tomorrow, I shall be rid of my most hated enemy. Rome is about to change. I know you are to stupid to understand any of these matters, but it soothes me to pretend you are worthy. Fear not ignorant boy, intelligence will come with time. Now disrobe slave, I wish to drink in your beauty with my eyes and taste your sweet blood.”
My vengeance would come soon, but it would not be a century from now.
I was trying to sleep but someone kept gently shaking me. My body felt dead to the world. For some reason, I didn’t sleep well. I was being jostled every few seconds by a warm hand on my shoulder.
“Five more minutes Gran,” I lazily mumbled as I turned over on my side and batted the hand away.
She shook me again, and reluctantly I squinted my eyes, trying to adjust them to the brilliant sunlight. My sleepy mind couldn’t comprehend why it was so bright.
I quickly sat up and realized I was outside, not only was I outside… but Sweet Jesus, I was in Ancient Rome! I had dreamt about this all night and somehow my mind had convinced itself it was all a strange nightmare. As the events of yesterday rushed back to me, I quickly realized this was no nightmare, it was my stark reality.
Last night after Godric told me to run for my life, I wondered through the Roman cobblestone streets until I came across this house… I guess it was a house. It looked more like a Roman palace. But I knew this wasn’t the case because half the houses around here were almost the same size. I must be on the wealthier side of town. I was surprised to find that I could basically just walk right in. There were so many pillars with arched entrance ways just open to the outside, nothing like the homes back in my time that were locked down and closed off from the world.
I had stumbled inside, half scared out of my mind. I was lucky because most of the inhabitants of the house were asleep. There were a few people milling about, but I avoided them as I snuck into some outdoor central area of the house, like a courtyard or something. I nestled myself behind some strange looking bushes and fell asleep for the night.
My plan was to wake up as soon as the sun rose and return to Godric, as he had instructed me. That plan hadn’t quite worked out, because I quickly realized I had been discovered trespassing.
My eyes somewhat adjusted to the bright sunlight, and I looked over at the person who had awoken me. It was a man with short dark hair. About six feet tall and dressed in Roman clothing, but not like what I had seen Godric’s future maker wearing. This man was dressed like a solider, a very well dressed soldier, maybe someone of higher rank.
He began speaking to me, but I had no clue what he was saying. It could have been Japanese for all I knew. That is when I got a brilliant idea. I reached out with my telepathy and dove into his mind.
To my delight, I could understand him. I never thought about it before but when I read people’s minds, yes it was words, but there wasn’t really a certified language associated with it. It was just as if my brain knew what they were thinking and deciphered the message for me.
“Prithee charming lady, for what reason do you come upon my noble mother’s home? Julius Antonia is most distraught to find a lady such as you within her private gardens. Likewise, you are dressed so strangely, yet most nobly and bright. I have not seen such things with my eyes before this day. Allow me to escort you back to your domus. Who is your father? I shall assist you.”
His words were foreign, Latin I assumed. But if I read his mind, I could tell what he was saying. It was amazing! He was leaning over me, and I just now noticed there was an older woman in white robes standing behind him with her hand on her mouth. His mother, I assumed.
I may have been able to read his mind but I had no idea how to speak Latin, so I couldn’t communicate with him anyways. That didn’t stop me from trying.
“Hi, My name is Sookie. I’m sorry I broke into your mom’s gardens. I’ll just be on my way.” I said standing and dusting off my pink and white checkered sundress. I had been wearing it on the rooftop in Dallas; and I guess now it was the only clothes I had. I must look strange to these people.
He stepped back when I stood, looking me over with wide eyes and confusion. He obviously didn’t understand a word I had said.
“I understand your words not. But this is not so uncommon in Rome. Your namesake is Sookie? How strange indeed.” I read from his mind while he spoke.
“Yes,” I nodded my head and pointed at my chest to indicate I was referring to myself. “Sookie.”
I smiled and held my palm out to him to shake hands. He gasped looking at my hand but took it in his a few seconds later. I was about to give it a shake, but he turned it over and kissed the back. ‘She must be noble born if she presents herself to me in such a way.’ He thought releasing my hand.
He put his hand on his chest and said, “I present myself to you lady, for I am Markus Antonius. Administrator of Italy, appointed by our noble Dictator, the great Julius Caesar.”
My eyes widened and I nearly shrieked. “Um. The Mark Antony?”
“Nay, Mark Antony.” He said with a chuckle. “Markus Antonius is my namesake. For the same Markus who was victorious leading the whole of the Roman army in conquest against the savage Gauls of the West. I stand tall knowing that I brought civilization and harmony to those tribes who now proudly call themselves Romans.”
I smiled, remembering that we learned in school that Mark Antony was the name given to him centuries later by the English. “It’s nice to meet you Markus Antonius.” I said in awe.
“I apologize for my rudeness my lady, but I have an important matter to attend. For I have learned of a most distressing plot last night concerning my liege Julius Caesar. It is a despicable conspiracy that I must put a stop to at once.”
I nodded, understanding him through his mind.
“It shames me to tell you that I cannot leave a stranger within the gardens of my mother, and I do not have time to deliver you to your domus. You must come with me to Pompey’s theater where the senate is temporarily holding their meetings. There I will put a stop to this wicked conspiracy once and for all. After, you may show me where you live, and I will deliver you into the hands of your guardians.”
“Oh, that’s okay. I have somewhere I need to be anyway. If you’ll excuse, me I’ll just be on my way.” I said smiling and trying to take a step past him. He didn’t understand me, but he knew my meaning from my actions.
“My lady. I cannot allow you to go into the city unchaperoned, for what would that say of my character?” He said grabbing my arm firmly. “I will escort you to your domus once my matter is attended. But I am afraid it is unwise for you to go within the city so scantily dressed. Although your attire is quite impressive and pleasing, the men would look upon you with wolfish eyes. As your current protector, I can not allow this. I will have one of Julius Antonia’s handmaidens dress you in proper robes bespeaking a lady of your standing.”
“Well, okay.” I said sighing. “If it doesn’t take too long.”
Less than half an hour later we were climbing the steps of a very Roman looking place with lots of pillars. It was very large. I was basically in cultural shock at the sights around me. We were constantly being greeted on our way by passerbys who bowed to Markus. I was wearing a really pretty, backless, red, and white sleeveless dress which ran all the way to my ankles. I thought it strange that I couldn’t show my legs but my back and arms could be completely bare.
On the way there, I made sure I kept my telepathy focused on Markus’s mind. He kept thinking about someone named Pythoness. He thought that if he couldn’t locate my domus, he could leave me in her care. He thought that the wise woman would make a good guardian for me, but that he would have to wait until nightfall to deliver me to her. I had no idea who this Pythoness was other than the fact that Markus consulted her regarding many political affairs.
“Markus Antonius! Markus Antonius!” called a man in white robes, rushing to us on the steps. He stopped out of breath waving a scroll in his hands.
“Lucius Tillus Cimber, good morning to you,” Markus said turning to the man. “I apologize, but I have a most important meeting at the moment that requires my attention.”
I focused on the other man’s mind so I could understand what he said. “Prithee Markus Antonius, I beseech you! My matter is of the most import.” Other men in robes started gathering around us, urging Markus to listen to the man. He sighed and took the scroll from Lucius.
“What matter of importance do you present to me this day Lucius?”
I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I focused on one of the men’s minds ‘We must distract Markus Antonius for he is most loyal to Caesar. We can not allow him to intervene, for it will be murder if we strike him down. Killing Caesar is not murder. It is tyrannicide. We have every right, but we will be charged with crimes if anyone else is harmed.’
I noticed another man in what looked like senator robes narrowing his eyes as he glared in our direction before he quickly turned to go into the building. I reached out with my mind, but all I got was a foggy haze. I knew then that the man he had been glamoured by a vampire.
“I beseech you Markus Antonius.” Lucius said breathlessly. “For my brother has been exiled from Rome a year heretofore from this very day. His punishment has been dealt harshly, and I present a petition for the resolution of his banishment so he can reunite with his family here in Rome.” Followed by his words were his thoughts. ‘I will be paid handsomely for my part in this plot.’
I grabbed Markus by the arm and pointed into the building. “Julius Caesar! Julius Caesar! They are going to kill him!” I screamed, an expression of panic on my face.
He looked at me confused so I made a motion like I had a knife in my hand as I flayed my arms wildly in the air like I was stabbing someone. I’m sure I looked crazy, but I didn’t know how else to make him understand.
“No!” He yelled dropping the scroll and rushing into the building.
I stood there alone on the steps as all the men in white robes rushed after him. I suddenly realized maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me to change the past. I’m not sure I did, but the assassination of Julius Caesar was a pivotal moment in history.
I quickly scrambled down the steps and made my way back to the house where I knew Godric was. I needed to get him out of there!
Foot Notes: I thought I would include these for anyone interested. If I got any historical facts wrong please forgive me!
- Why the Roman Empire? Godric’s Brand on the back of his shoulder. It was common for Roman masters to brand their slaves like cattle. Julius Caesar invaded and conquered Gaul around the time Godric would have been made a vampire 51-58 BC. As many as 40% of Gauls were taken into slavery by Romans during this time. And boys around 10-12 years were the most valuable so they could be molded into subservient. I doubt he was much younger than 10-12 when he was captured because of his Celtic tattoos.
- The Celtic people were wanderers who spread as far east as the British Isles and as far west as the Black Sea coasts. The Celtic tribes that lived in modern day France were referred to by Romans as Gauls. Since Godric has a water elemental tattoo on his arm and a sea monster on his back I’m placing his tribe on the coast of France. His name is Anglo-Saxon/English in origin so I’m going to say he lived on the west coast of France and his tribe may have traded with Anglo-Saxon/Celt tribes across the English Channel and been exposed to their names.
- Most but not all pre-Christian Celtic religions revolved around nature and spirits rather than the worshiping of Gods. Their priests were called druids/druidesses and held a lot of power, such as prophesizing the future and being able to shape shift into animals. Their afterlife (where they went when they died) was called the “Otherworld” sometimes “Underworld” and was inhabited by fairy folk who sometimes came to Earth to try to entice humans to enter their realm. They believed it was another realm all around us but unseen by the human eye.
- Domus: An elite/upper class roman home that usually had indoor courtyards and gardens.
- Atrium: The most important room in the domus which was open to the sky through a large compluvium so rainwater could fall into a rectangular pool in the center of the atrium which was used as a water source by the inhabitants.
- Compluvium: Big rectangular opening in the roof of the atrium.
- Tablinum: Roman reference to the study or living room.
- Dominus: What a Roman slave called their male master.