*~ Cornelia: A Tale of Twilight ~*
Part 1: Carlisle
Chapter 1: Beginnings
December 5, 1778
Boston, Massachusetts colony
I remember being born. I remember seeing my mother's eyes for the first and last time. I remember my father murdering her in front of my newborn eyes. I remember crying in fear when he held me in his cold arms. I remember being abandoned in a snowy forest on the very day of my birth.
No one bothered to give me a name, so I named myself.
I am a hybrid: a one in a million chance of human/vampire procreation. My birth occurred on the fifth day of December, in the year 1778, in an English colony called Massachusetts. The War for Independence between Britain and her New World colonies had just began there.
To my knowledge, my mother was an eighteen-year-old girl from a city called Boston, who, in an attempt to flee the chaos that the fighting provoked, was raped by a passing vampire. In all the frenzy of the War, no one seemed to notice that the girl had gone missing during my time in her womb.
I don't know why my father allowed her to give birth to me; it has always been a mystery to me.
As if fighting for dominance over my immortal half, my human hormones gave me a great burst of growth in my early life. Resulting, I aged much faster than human children did. The midwife who'd taken me in told me I had a terrible illness, and raised me with care and compassion for this very reason. However, there was a massive outbreak of smallpox in my hometown during that time, and my new mother soon took ill and perished.
I lost my humanity in the year 1785, when I had reached human maturity at the age of seven. Venom flooded my system, changing me into what I truly am. The pain stayed for hours... perhaps a full day, though the memory is not clear to me. I do know that I found refuge in a grass clearing in the forest, near dusk on a cool September evening. But the weather didn't matter to me then; the fire was all-pervasive.
I have been told, since that time, that the experience was equivalent to what humans undergo during the transformation into a vampire. You see, I favor my father. When I stopped ageing, my body began producing vampire venom. Human blood still flows through my veins, but the venom also sustains my life. It is as though life and death were crammed into one body.
My heartbeat slowed immensely that day. The venom made me incredibly strong - even stronger than pureblood vampires. I had so much energy; I felt the need to sleep only once a week. My scenes where heightened, like my strength, above that of a vampire. Due to my slowed heartbeat, my skin was slightly cooler than humans', but not as stone cold as vampires. My skin was only half as solid as a vampire's, and shimmered faintly in the sunlight. Also, my speed was not as great - favoring my mother.
As I said, life and death in one body.
I suppose I had fallen asleep sometime during the night, after the pain stopped, for it was daybreak by the time I awoke. The bright light on my eyelids caused me to open them. What I beheld was something I'd never experienced before... Colors and lights danced before my new eyes, blinding me with their intense spectrum; hundreds of thousands of sounds buzzed in my ears, and fragrances assaulted my nose. What's happened to me?
As far as I knew at the time, I'd been completely normal. Other than my rapid growth, I was otherwise completely human. I had yet to encounter any sort of supernatural at that point, so this experience was strange and new to me.
Nevertheless, I stood slowly to inspect the new abilities of my body. I heard the heartbeats and breathing of animals in the woods distinctly - a few squirrels, a herd of deer, and many different birds. I took a deep breath and was startled by the hundreds of scents around me... fresh grass, honeyed lilacs, spicy oaks...
However, one scent stood out to me in particular. I followed my nose and discovered it was a small red fox, pawing at the ground. My instincts told me to drink. Without thought, I pounced, snapped its neck, and licked at the red liquid that dripped from the fresh wound. It tasted sweet and refreshing, and filled every one of my senses until I could take no more. I pulled away once I'd satisfied myself, and stood over the corpse.
Suddenly, I came back to myself. I gasped and stepped away from the broken body and blood stained grass. I felt nauseous... I stumbled back to the clearing, disgusted with myself. No, no, no. I raked my memory for guidance, and came up with a single event.
It was soon after my birth. My father yanked me away from my mother and I looked back, crying, to see his head near her neck. She screamed as the color drained from her face.
I closed my eyes and violently shook my head to clear the grotesque image.
"Why?" I gasped. Even my voice sounded strange and different. I felt a tear slide down my cheek and I fell to my knees.
"Why!" I yelled, my strange voice echoing through the trees.
Looking at my hands, I gasped when I saw them stained red. I then found that the front of my dress had been dyed crimson with the fox's blood that I'd spilt. Tears building, I ran toward the sound of water, which happened to be a small brook. Once my clothes were as clean as they could be, I drank some water to clear my mouth of the taste of blood. It was delectable and tempting, but also sickening to me. I looked into the gently rippling water and saw my reflection.
My face had changed as well. My small cheekbone were more defined than before, and my pink lips were darker. My dainty chin was sharper, and my nose didn't seem too small anymore. My skin was pale, as though I was very ill. The only thing the same was my dark gold hair, waist-length and wavy. Then, I saw my eyes.
My eyes? The hazel irises suddenly changed... around the pupils, gold poured into them like liquid topaz, tiny specks forming immediately. I looked closer in amazement, my brow furrowing in confusion.
Before I could ponder my changed eye color any longer, my sensitive smelling picked up a strange scent. As I followed it, I hoped I wouldn't attack anything again. The scent took me back to the clearing where I had laid in misery for all those days. I stopped just inside the trees and observed the three figures looming about in the bright grass. Sun reflected off their pale skin like glass, sending rays of it bouncing around throughout the clearing. Right when a gasp escaped me, three pairs of red eyes flashed around to see me. My instincts screamed for me to flee as those eyes faded to a bottomless black.
They ran over to me in unison, faster than anything I'd ever seen before.
"Wh-What are you?" I managed, stumbling back in fear.
They circled me menacingly as if I were an animal. I swallowed dryly and looked from each sinister one to the other. The tall one snarled and hissed, and the two others crouched as if to attack me.
I let instinct guide me as I braced myself, surprising myself when a hiss ripped through my throat. Then, suddenly, the tall one sprang at me. I put my hands over my head and screamed. Instead of feeling an impact, I felt a cool tingle in the palm of my hand, and heard a whooshing sound... then what sounded like a rock hitting the ground.
When I looked up, I saw a light mist in front and above me, then slowly, as I gazed about myself, it formed all around me. The man who leaped for me was now on the ground, looking rather confused. The two others slowly approached the mist. I put my hands down and crouched for attack or defense. As I did so, the mist disappeared and the two men stumbled forward as if they had been... leaning on it...?
Then, the third sprang at me, knocking me down easily, and pinning me to the ground. I found I was very much stronger than he was, so I shoved him off, feet across the grass. I jumped to my feet, but the other two grabbed me by the arms and held me so I couldn't escape. I jerked my arms and screamed, but they just smiled. The third came back, standing closely in front of me and inhaling. His scent was sweet and spicy, and he towered a good foot above my five foot three inches.
He breathed a single word in a strange language, then curled one chilly hand around the back of my neck. His breath was cool on my face as he leaned down, as if to kiss me...
Suddenly, I heard hurried feet trample the forest floor and several heartbeats approaching. The man jumped back from and sniffed the air, scowling. A wolf howled. The other two stepped away from me as panic flashed in their eyes. They ran. I smelt the air too; the scent was cherry wood and earth. Very strange, if not pleasant. I stumbled back from the remaining man, and looked curiously in every direction.
What horrible thing could possibly make them run like that? Should I be scared, too?
The vampire then grabbed me and held me firmly by the shoulders. I struggled and yelled for him to stop, but he probably wouldn't have stopped, even if he understood me. Growls and snarls lashed out behind me, and the man was suddenly ripped away from me by a brown... bear? I struggled to stay standing, and looked around to see where the man had been taken off to. I gasped when I found that it was not a bear but -
"A-A wolf?" My voice spoke the truth, but even my eyes wouldn't believe it. The large... no, GIANT brown wolf clamped its jaws around the man's shoulder, and a horrible screech filled my ears as it took off his arm and half his torso in one motion. I held the sides of my head - it felt as though it would explode. A darker brown wolf appeared as well, its teeth barred as it growled ferociously. I covered my eyes and whimpered.
As the tears, growls, and screams continued, I felt the terror and horror build up inside me, threatening to conquer me. I sunk to the ground and covered my head with my arms, clenching my teeth together and squeezing my eyes shut. Please, stop! Stop!
Voices spoke to me with words I couldn't understand, and I whimpered again as the presence grew closer. It's over as soon as it began, my mind screamed, I'm going to die now...!
A warm hand nudged my shoulder.
"Go away!" I shouted shakily, my voice quivering as I curled in on myself further.
"I... mean no harm."
Finally, something I understood. I relaxed a tiny bit, and cracked an eye to see the man who stood over me. His brown eyes looked at me worriedly, and his brow furrowed. I slowly came out of my ball, and scotched away from the man, using my hands. His skin was much darker than I was used to, and he wore no shirt or shoes, which I had never before seen on a man. He scared me greatly.
Even my own voice startled me, "Who... who are you?" I held my knees tightly to my chest and stared up at him. He sat down slowly, crossing his legs on the grass.
"My name is Lakota," he said, and a strange accent was strung in his words. "What is yours?"
I swallowed thickly, not too inclined to be friendly. "C-C-Cornelia."
Suddenly, another man appeared from the trees. He had a similar appearance to Lakota, but had longer black hair and wore a frayed shirt of some kind. He wasn't as tall and imposing, either. He began speaking in a foreign language, and I felt myself becoming afraid again. I had heard of Indians before, but no good things. They were enemies, savages. Who knew what they wanted with me?
Lakota put out his hand to silence his companion, not taking his eyes from me. "Where do you come from, Cornelia?" he asked, simply continuing our exchange.
"Uh... um," I stuttered, my entire body quivering with nerves. I wasn't much the conversationalist. "I-I hail from Boston, but..." I paused, relaxing slightly under his friendly gaze. "Can you tell me what's happening to me?" I asked him, my voice trembling.
He smiled, beckoning to the other man. "I must tell you a story..."
He went on to explain about the world I'd stumbled across. They... were destined to always be inherent enemies, and they had been since before time. I listened, with much difficulty, as he told me that he was a "guardian," a "protector" of humankind.
He was a werewolf.
Something began that day which took me several centuries to understand. I call it the "vampire magnet." The mixture of my human blood and vampire venom in my body created a pheromone-type effect, which attracted vampires. Once a vampire caught wind of my scent, they became crazed, feral, - consumed by uncontrollable bloodlust. Which, as you may imagine, made it very hard to survive.
However, this allowed me to become a natural friend to the werewolves of the Native North Americans. They protected me from them... yet, what did I do for them? This question haunted me with every death on my account.
My blood wasn't the only unique thing about me. The vampire gene I inherited from my father gave me a special ability. I have the power create any sized barrier, which appears in the form of a haze, or mist. They are impenetrable, indestructible shields. I've never been able to create a shield without the use of my hands to trace where it would go, which is the only limit to my gift. It's is a strictly physical power, though there is an element of intellectual will.
Years passed, and I stayed with Lakota's tribe for one decade. I leaned that he was the leader of a "pack" of werewolves, and the other man, Quee, was his second-in-command. They taught me the art of combat, so I could help them fight and defend. So many vampires came in those first few years, and other young warriors of the tribe changed into werewolves. I couldn't stand all the trouble I caused them - fighting, death, war.
I remember the very last thing Lakota said to me. He had made me a gift - a parting gift of sorts - and, as he gave it to me, he said, "Survive, Cornelia; that's all that matters." It was a foot-long dagger made of unpolished silver, with a carving of a baying wolf on the hilt.
Andwith that, I moved on. Not soon after, I was being so savagely hunted by vampires, I was forced to find haven with another tribe of werewolves. I found that not all Native Americans inherited the wolf gene, and it was very uncommon that I found a pack of werewolves. So, I simply tried to avoid them as best possible. I was constantly on the run; I hated this weary existence, but the vampires never failed to come. Sometimes one or two, or sometimes a whole group, what they called a "coven."
Soon, in the course of human events, the British got fed up with American freedom and decided to come start the War of 1812. After a year of the bloody conflict, I decided to travel west. Having never been out of New England, I was quite excited. In my excitement, I accidentally ran all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
The ocean air was crisp and clear, surprisingly warm for the late month. I sighed and looked out over the peaceful waters. The sun set in the west, casting it's shimmering light over the waves. I don't know how long I stood there, over the ocean, because my mind wandered far away.
"What is your name?" the woman asked, staring sternly over the half-moon rim of her spectacles. A line was perpetually between her eyebrows, and her lips were curled in a frown. However, my mother had told me to listen to everything she said... or else.
Truthfully, I didn't know my name. Did I have a name? Martha, my mother, called me "Pigeon." But... that is the name of a foul, is it not? Joshua, the boy who lived down the road, called me "Girl." That is my gender, right? So, what was my name, truly?
The only sound in the one-room schoolhouse was the chipper crackling of the furnace in the corner, which Teacher had kindled far before we students had arrived. Martha had sent me here to this tiny establishment of learning because she had too, in accordance with the Ole' Deluder Satan Act.
Even though it was mid-winter and our young nation was fighting for independence from the Motherland, the children of rural Boston were required to learn how to read. Martha had already taught me from her copy of King James's Holy Bible, but again, she had felt the need to send me here. The girls sat in the five rows of seats to the left, and the boys sat on the right. We were arranged by age: youngest to oldest, front to back. We each had our Hornbooks set on the desks in front of us, with our ABC's and our Lord's Prayers printed and mounted on the wooden faces. My copy of the New England Primmer was fairly new - used before me only eight times - since I was a new arrival.
However, none of this was of any note to me. Teacher had realized her lack of knowledge of my name when she'd handed me a paper and told me to read it. I guessed she hadn't noticed me slip into her classroom at the beginning of the lesson. I couldn't very well say that my name was "Pigeon Girl."
"Girl? Your name?" Teacher pressed impatiently.
The bigger girl in the seat behind me, who had already told Teacher that her name was Elizabeth, giggled. The smaller girl in front of me, who appeared around four years of age, looked back at me with big, brown eyes. The boys across the aisle whispered to each other.
Thinking quickly, I looked down at the parchment perched in my small hands. It appeared to be a list of births in America for that year, listed alphabetically. "Cornelia Lott Green" caught my eye because it was the longest.
"Greene," I quoth.
There was chortling from the boys side, and several older girls gasped. The girl in front of me flinched when Teacher wrapped her knuckles with her meter stick, and she whirled back around in her seat.
"Dear child," Teacher said icily. "That is most definitely your surname. I only wish for your first. What do they call you?"
I forced myself to look that scary woman right in those cold, blue eyes of hers, and stood as tall as my two-year-old body could possibly stand. "Cornelia," I said.
"My name is Cornelia."
Sometime later, I heard a werewolf transform into human form about a mile away. I didn't turn; I was tired of introducing myself. Fast steps pounded the ground until they came close, and slowed.
"You have... human blood," a deep voice said from behind.
It wasn't a question.
I nodded anyway and turned around to see a nearly seven-foot-tall Indian, who smiled brightly. I couldn't help but smile too, as a nice cloud of reassurance came over me at merely his presence.
"I am Titus Black of the Quileute tribe."
I took his outreached hand in a good shake. His clothing was that of a chief. "Cornelia." He might have made me smile, but I was in no mood to talk.
"We have peace with the Colds Ones in this area."
My eyebrows when together in confusion.
"Golden eyes," he added, motioning to his own.
That did nothing to enlighten me on the matter of "peaceful vampires", but I nodded anyway. They won't be very peaceful soon. "Where am I?" I asked suddenly.
"This is Oregon Country," he replied brightly. I'd certainly heard of it; many pioneers from the East had come there long ago. "Quileute land lies far north of here. You are welcome." He then motioned to the south. "The white settlement of Hoquiam very near, southeast."
"Thank you," I said, turning back to the sea. The sun was merely a shrinking halo of light as it dove into the sea. The man gazed with me for a few minutes.
"We will be watching."
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder, then heard him phase as he ran into the nearby woods. Going north; going home.
My heart squeezed. I have no home.