Prologue

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The vampire council didn't enjoy convening outside of their regularly scheduled meetings, but considering everything that had happened lately, Lucius found it more than important. It was imperative. The very future of their race, their people, stood on the balance and although he knew that Damian was more than capable of taking over the leadership of their clan, it simply wasn't enough. He was not of pure blood and no one other than a pure blood had ever led their people before. If Damian was to succeed to the station that Lucius had prepared him for, then they needed to ask him to do something that might risk breaking his heart.

They had to bring back Amelia.

Lucius rose from his seat and brought the council to order, his movement instantly silencing the chatter amongst the elders. "I pray the council will forgive the lateness of the hour. Unfortunately, I have some distressing news for you that could not wait. Damian, if you would bring me the files we discussed, I would be most grateful," he asked the young man standing watch by his side, ready to protect him at all cost.

Damian reluctantly crossed the room to an old desk by the far wall and retrieved a manila file of papers that Lucius had been working on and handed them to his master. He then made sure the room was secure and took his place beside Lucius' seat. The moment the double wooden doors were closed, Lucius took his seat and addressed the council. "Amelia was a willful child. She tormented me and Damian, disappearing and playing tricks. Only when she was an adult did her tricks become dangerous. I believe you all know the story of my daughter, so I will not bore you with the details. However, for the sake of this meeting, I must explain her disappearance. For a century, I have lived without my daughter. Finally tired of her confinement—which was placed upon her for good reason—Amelia contacted a Haitian with certain special gifts," Lucius recounted the tale.

"Her soul was transferred to a human body, upon her request, forever to live on until such time as she wished to return to our people," Matisse replied, slightly annoyed. "We all know the story, Lucius, and how badly affected you were by her actions."

Lucius smiled in gratitude for the obvious sentiment his friend displayed. He didn't want him to relive the memory any more than Lucius wanted to. "Please, my friend, my meaning will be clear in a moment. But you are right. This Haitian man offered Amelia an eternal life without my influence. Her soul was transferred into a human body and, even if that body died, her spirit would simply move to another body until she wished to come home again. But it has been two centuries and she has not returned, and I am not the only one who believes that this is against her will."

Lucius recalled a conversation with Damian suggesting that Amelia's Haitian man may have made a mistake in his spell. It stood to reason that after so many human lives, his daughter should become bored of the monotony and wish to return home.

Although he wished for this more than anything, he knew of Damian's resistance on the subject. Amelia had crushed his heart a million times over. Why should he wish for her return so that she could try to break him again?

"We were unable to find the truth for a very long time. It was only recently that a secret investigation into the incident provided me with new information. It seems that my daughter misplaced her trust. Not only has our witch friend spoken ill of this Haitian, she also discovered that Amelia's soul has been fractured."

A muttering of astonishment circled among the elders, who all turned their attention to the beautiful, gifted woman seated in a shadowed corner of the room. The witch woman was well known to all, but no one knew her name. Instead, they all called her Lady in respect and gratitude for using her many gifts and talents for their people, instead of against.

"Do you mean ... Sire, you cannot possibly mean that her soul is broken," Elder Nikolai said, shocked by such a revelation, sure that a broken soul had no hope of being repaired. Upon his words, the witch smiled the most beautiful smile of reassurance, and Lucius explained.

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