Disclaimer: I do not own twilight or any of its characters, I just like to play with them to amuse myself.
I was so cold. Not that slight chill that you feel seeping into your bones when you have been outside too long, but the mind numbing cold when you can no longer feel the tips of your fingers, or your feet from the ankles down. I no longer bothered trying to shift around to increase the circulation of my blood, I had tried that already to no avail. Neither did I try to get up so I could move around so that my heart rate would increase causing my blood to pump faster. Instead I lay down on the cold, dank floor in the small space I was locked in, and I hoped for unconsciousness to claim me. Perhaps then I would wake up and find that I was in fact having a nightmare…a very realistic nightmare.
Unconsciousness did not come though…instead of the oblivion I had been hoping for I heard small sounds, high pitched and worrying. I wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me because some of the sounds even sounded like crying. I didn't want to imagine that I was not alone here, the very idea of it made bile rise into my throat. I tried to think back to how I had gotten here.
My classes on campus had ended for the day and I had headed home, unusually early for me on a week day. Normally I would be off to work at the coffee shop I worked at, but the shop was getting some renovation work done and so my boss had given me the day off, paid no less. I had not been about to argue as it would be a good chance to get some serious writing done on one of my essays.
I had been so excited about getting back to my dorm room early that I hadn't even let the cold weather get me down as I ran from one over hang to the next, dodging puddles and dripping over-hangs as I tried to stay as dry as possible. Mentally lashing myself for not remembering to bring my umbrella, I chose to take a different route that had more shops with covered store fronts, thus more shelter from the cold, autumn fall rain.
I was readying myself to dash from one awning, in front of a grocer's store to the next in front of an adult video store when I felt something hit into me hard from the side. For the life of me I couldn't remember a thing after that moment before waking up in this dark hole of a room, with stone floors, and walls. Who built this place? I think they must be from the stone ages as there is no way this sort of stone will keep the heat in, I can feel it sucking the remaining heat from my bones.
From outside the door I can hear new sounds that are becoming louder, and they seem close enough that if it is a passerby I could get their attention by shouting loud enough.
"Hello? Can somebody help me? Please!" I shout loudly, feeling my throat tighten with nerves.
Without even a second to register a response, the door flies open, banging into a wall so loudly that it sounds as if it must have broken. I look up, blinded by bright light after having been sitting in the dark for an unknown amount of time, and have to raise my arm up to block out the brightness.
I struggle to find my voice after the surprise, but just as I am about to speak up, another voice does.
"Where did you find this one?" A deep voice rumbles.
"Just out in the rain in some little town in Washington. I smelled her and knew I had to bring her as an offering." A more gravelly tone replied.
An offering? What the hell?
"I can hardly see her under all of that hair, but she smells delightful." The first voice responded as I felt something as hard as Iron clasp onto my forearm and pulls me forward. I hear myself cry out in fear and alarm, knowing that there is no point in asking for help any longer. My thoughts race faster as I feel my head being jerked backwards by my hair, and just for a second I wish that I had cut it all off rather than letting it grow long as I had.
My eyes start to focus now, and I see two hulking men before me. It is not that they are large, but they are intimidating and cause my skin to prickle in alarm. One peers down on me with an evil grin on his face, he has strands of blondish hair falling around his face, and it would have been angelic if it weren't for the fact that his eyes were so dark they seem black. For a moment I wonder if the darkness has damaged my sight.
"Can you smell that?" The gravelly voiced male, who I now can recognize as the one with blond hair asks the other.
"Is that..?" The other, a male with short dark hair asks, his coal black eyes widening as his nostrils flare.
"Yes it is….she is pure, a perfect gift for the Prince." The blond man responded, smiling at the other.
"But she is a woman, not a child….do you know how rare that is nowadays?" the dark haired man asked as the other nodded in response.
Pure…what did that mean? Was it a code word for something?
"Well, " said the dark haired man. "You better get her out of here and cleaned up before you offer her up, you're lucky she didn't freeze to death in here, she's soaked." The dark haired one said so low his voice rumbled.
"You're just jealous that I found her. You wish you did so the Prince could get her from you and then you could possibly gain his favor. Tough shit, she's my gift, now back off." The blond man said with a grin at his companion. I would have recoiled in fear, but this whole time the dark haired on had had a grasp on my hair so tight that I had my neck craned back as far as it would go, and he only now released me.
"She'll do." The dark haired man said as he shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.
"You bet she'll do, just you wait and see. The Prince will be very pleased." The man said as he roughly grasped me by the scruff and dragged me behind him as he turned from the other man and walked away, pulling me so quickly that I could not catch my footing.
He walked for what seemed to be quite a distance, but I had spent so much time trying not to hit into walls as I rolled and grazed the dank surfaces that I hadn't really been able to judge how far we had gone or where we were headed. Just as I felt I might actually be able to get my feet under me, he stopped in front of an opulent wooden door, set into the same cold stone as the room I had been in, though nowhere near as cold or damp looking..
The door opened up, and there stood a beautiful woman with flaming red hair. Her eyes took in the man, and me in one swift glance.
"Victoria, take this woman and clean her up, be sure she looks the part of an offering. She is to be gifted to the Prince." The man with blond hair said briskly.
'The Prince?" The woman said quickly before her voice softened. "Yes, Jasper. I will prepare her with haste. The ceremony is barely an hour away. The other offerings will have been prepared and viewed…" The woman said hesitantly.
"All the more reason for you to stop talking, and to start doing. "The man hissed. "I will return for her shortly, she had better be ready. I won't have the Prince considering another offering over her, he won't be able to choose another once he sees and scents her. She will be the Prince's choice, I would stake my life on it." The man claimed.
Offering…choice…the Prince? I felt like I had fallen through the looking glass in Alice and Wonderland, except this seemed a far more horrifying, with none of the humor and bad costumes.
The man suddenly stomped away leaving me on the floor in front of the woman.
"Up with you now," she said quickly. "I had best get you ready."
"Ready for what?" I questioned, bolder now that I was dealing with a fellow woman, and not a man who was nearly a foot taller than I. "For the Princes crowning ceremony, of course. He will choose one from among the offerings of his people, just one. And she will be his." The woman said as she closed the door roughly behind me and began grabbing at my clothing.
"Stop!" I insisted as she clutched at my garments. "Please just let me go!" I pled. Her eyes softened as she looked at me, allowing me to see that they were a strange golden color.
"Dear, I wish I could, but there is no way out now. You stay and hope to be the chosen offering, or you die…there is no other option for you." She said matter-of-factly as she rent my clothing from my body. The shock of her words on me did not even phase her as she set about pushing me forcefully into a small room that I realized was a washroom before she reached over to turn on water in a shower.
"Get in." She said firmly.
"No!" I said stubbornly, refusing to make any part of this easier for her. The woman let out a huff of air and turned to me as I attempted to use my hands to cover up my bared flesh.
"Let's get one thing straight, shall we?" The woman said as she shook her head slightly, causing her long red hair to shimmer and sway. "This has nothing to do with me, I have no say. History from the very first Dark Prince has been the same. The new Prince picks his chosen one from the human offerings that his followers present to him. That offering is chosen based on many qualities...scent, beauty, allure, purity…there are many things that help the Prince find the one that will make him the most powerful he can be, but he always chooses the one best suited for him to be his. You should be trying to do everything to turn your cards to earn his favor." She stated coldly.
"If you are not the one chosen, you will become dinner, or perhaps a plaything, or even both…but the only end will be death. If you are chosen you will live to please the Prince, to pleasure him, and mostly to provide him with an heir, who will be the next Prince. That is the way it has been since the beginning of time. Now, if you want to live to see another day, do as I say as get your ass in the shower and wash the filth off of you." She hissed stepping backwards.
Her words struck fear into my heart, did she say what I think she had. That I get prettied up to try and make it so some crazy man they considered a Prince would possibly find me to his liking? That it was be his personal little whore, or die? Neither choice held much appeal, but the idea of death held such finality that I slipped into the shower without another word. I washed and rinsed quickly, trying not to think about why I was here, but before I could finish and shut off the water the woman. She yanked open the shower curtain, regarding me skeptically.
"I suppose you'll do." She said as she eyed me critically. "Now hurry, I have much to do, and limited time. You're lucky I have some of the ritual gowns here, or you may have never been allowed in the door in the first place." She groused as she shook her head and clucked her tongue.
I did not have a chance to argue for she grasped my hand and towed me into the next room. Now that my skin had warmed up slightly, I realized her hands were freezing. Perhaps everyone here was as cold as I had felt earlier. I shivered as water dripped down from my hair, and the woman grabbed a towel off a nearby table and thrust it at me.
"Dry off before you catch cold. A sniffling human won't exactly be attractive." She said, her voice heavy with disdain. As I did what she commanded she moved about grabbing things in a hurry before returning to my side.
I tried my best to dry off my skin as she plugged in a hair dryer. At least this medieval place had electricity and indoor plumbing. She turned the dryer on and set to work with a brush untangling my and drying my hair. I closed my eyes as she worked and tried to go over everything that had been said. Should I believe her words? Would I really die if I wasn't chosen? My head almost hurt from the questions that filled it. I had no answers.
A few minutes later and the sound of the blow drier stopped and I opened my eyes to see the red-headed woman unplugging the machine and putting it away before she went to a cupboard and pulled out a white piece of cloth from inside.
"Put this one, quickly. Your time is almost up." She said.
I glanced around seeing no clocks to tell me how much time had passed, nor did she have a watch on. How did she know what the time was? I held my hand out to receive whatever it was that she was offering and she placed it in my hand. The fabric against my skin was rough and uncomfortable. How on earth did they expect someone to wear this without it driving them crazy?
The woman must have seen my face, or noticed that I hesitated.
"It is not meant to be comfortable. It is white to show your status as an offering, and rough to cause it to rub against your skin in order to allow your scent to become more potent to appeal to the Prince's senses. Just put it on. If you don't I shall just give you to one of the guards to have as a treat." She said coldly, her indifference caused my skin to prickle in fear so I put the garment on quickly, cringing at the way the coarse fabric rubbed against my body, irritating everywhere.
"There now, that wasn't so difficult…was it?" She asked me with a cold voice. I shook my head, suddenly not wanting to risk angering her after her threat. She turned to the door, her eyes closing for a moment as her brow furrowed. She looked at me and reached for the doors handle.
"It's time." She said as she pulled the door open, and there stood the blonde vampire from before, the one she had called Jasper. His eyes gleamed wickedly as he looked me over. In his hands he held something red colored with a chain attached. My eyes darted from his face to the object he held as he stepped forward in my direction.
As he moved he raised it and I realized that it was a red leather collar. My stomach heaved as he smiled more widely. I moved to step back, but before I actually took the step, the woman turned and whispered in my ear.
"Remember what I said girl. You want this…it's this or death, so don't be stupid." She hissed causing my flesh to rise in goose bumps. I froze where I was, but did not remove my eyes from the approaching man as he raised the collar and stepped forward to fasten it around my neck. The hide of the collar, cold against my already irritated flesh. As soon as it was clasped the man stepped back and smiled at me, then his eyes flashed to the woman.
"Well done, Victoria." He said. "When she gains the Princes favor, and he rewards me, I will see to it that you are reimbursed for your assistance." I heard a small gasp and turned my head to see the look of shock and perhaps even a little bit of joy that played over her features.
"James?" She said in a choked voice.
"James." The blond man repeated with a smile. The woman turned to me as he tugged on the collar and started to lead me forward.
"Good Luck!" She said fervently as the man pulled me out of her rooms and back into the hallway. I heard her voice trail behind me as I moved away.