800 BC ~ Romania
"Your punishment has been decided."
In the dark Romanian castle of their beloved homeland, the royal twins, Jaegar and Jadon, fell to their knees on the cold stone floor while the remaining males of their kind waited anxiously outside the castle walls to hear the edict. Their thick black hair fell forward, shielding their terrified eyes from their accuser, as torchlight cast eerie shadows upon the dank gray walls around them.
Their accuser was The Blood of countless victims.
Each one slaughtered without mercy.
The grim face of death eager to exact revenge.
"Great Celestial Beings, have mercy on our souls," Jadon pleaded as the ghostly apparition drew closer.
"You make me sick, brother!" Jaegar spat the words, unable to conceal his rage or his arrogance.
The shadow weaved to the left and then to the right like a phantom pacing.
And then it bent into a horrible arc of darkness, dipping down until, at last, it hovered face to face with the trembling men.
Flushed and swaying, Jadon Demir reached out with a firm hand to steady himself against the ground. He cast a sideways glance at his older twin, who was now as pale as moonlight.
"From this day forward you shall be cursed! And your sons shall be cursed. And their sons after them...unto all eternity." The shadow drifted closer and a heavy mist settled on their skin. "And to make certain your suffering is inescapable, you shall be made immortal. Condemned to roam the earth in darkness as reviled creatures of the night. Forever forced to feed on the blood of the innocent to survive."
Jadon inhaled sharply, his heart pounding in his chest.
Despite his iron resolve, Jaegar collapsed on the floor.
The ghostly aberration continued: "As punishment for your unspeakable crimes against women, you shall never know the love or companionship of a female, nor shall you be capable of producing female offspring. Your sons will be born in sets of twins. Two children of darkness. The spawn of human hosts who will die wretchedly upon giving birth--even as the first-born of the first set will be demanded as a sacrifice of atonement." The phantom glowered with fury. "Failure to yield the sacrifice will be met with a hideous and terrible death!"
The damp walls of the cavern creaked as if moaning beneath the pronouncement, and the torches flickered in and out as a deep red glow consumed the once yellow flames.
Jadon Demir shook like a child unable to awaken from a nightmare. His chest heaved as he struggled for breath.
"I beg of you, grant mercy!" The words came out in a rush.
The phantom dipped and hissed, "Speak quickly."
Jadon cringed and averted his eyes. "I beseech you before all of heaven, before the Ancient Ones who came before us, and in the presence of the Celestial Gods: remove this curse upon my house and the house of my descendants."
The shadow stood still...listening.
Then all at once, Jadon's voice became a haunting song of sorrow, a sound so melodious that the room lit up, and the moon and stars dipped down to hear the beleaguered prince's words. Beneath a wind of grace and power, his plea took wings and flew....
"While I have walked among the warriors who have sacrificed our women, I have never taken life with my own hands. Although I have failed miserably to save the innocent, I have tried to convict the guilty. And while it is true, I have enjoyed the privileges of the mighty, my heart has wept for the weak. Your wrath is deserved. Your punishment is just. But I beg of you: search my heart...and have mercy upon me and my house."
Clearly disgusted, his older twin sat up and slowly turned his head to the side, his stark onyx eyes narrowing with contempt. He cursed Jadon beneath his breath and held his gaze in an angry glare.
"Remember your place, brother. That which curses us now is the blood of the slain, the wretched females we offered to the gods for our birthright: to be worshiped beside the Celestial Beings. Plead not with these inferiors for mercy. We are the strong. The powerful. What we did was justified. And I will not beg mercy of a female."
The room erupted into angry flames.
Sparks flew through the air like fire and brimstone.
A revolting abomination of heat licked at the brothers' skin, yet it did not consume their flesh.
And then the voice of the slain cried out from within the flames: "Ours was once a proud and noble race, before you led the corruption of our men beyond the abyss of evil." A blast of rage scorched the dark twin's eyes, turning his pupils from black to red as he was brought to his belly before his accuser. "In your thirst for power, Prince Jaegar, you have sacrificed the last of our females: our powerful sisters, mothers, and daughters. The keepers of the secrets of our race. You have not achieved greatness. You have brought an entire civilization to its knees! To the verge of extinction!"
The blaze then formed a halo around the body of the male who had pled so eloquently for mercy.
"And Prince Jadon, we have searched your heart and find your words to be true. You and your descendants--alone--shall be granted four mercies accordingly: Though still creatures of the night, you shall be allowed to walk in the sun. Though still required to live on blood, you shall not be forced to take the lives of the innocent. Though still incapable of producing female offspring, you will be given one opportunity to obtain a mate, and the sign of her arrival shall be heralded in the heavens.
"Though still required to atone for the sins of your people, your twin sons will be born as one child of darkness and one child of light, and you shall be allowed to sacrifice the former while keeping the purer soul to carry on our noble race."