The only thing of real sentiment was the cross necklace which hung around my throat, resting below the hollow of my throat. It was silver, and carved across it 'The LORD is my shepherd'

It was something that brought me solace and gave me hope, even when I felt most lonely.

The lesson eventually drew to a close, and I was allowed to dismount the chair. "I hope you learnt your lesson, Miss Evelyn" said Master Haverbroke.

"Yes, Master Haverbroke" I said robotically.

"Go, you'll be late to your next lesson" he instructed.

I turned to leave, but not before he called, "Remember, Miss Evelyn, final examinations are coming up, and they determine where you will be assigned, do remember that in your behaviour over the coming weeks"

I left feeling vexed, How dare he! I was by far the most gifted pupil at the school, and it was not arrogant of me to think it, it was common knowledge. In combat, I was unbeaten and had a natural knack for strategy and killing. It was not something to be proud of, it was a result of very selective breeding and training in my family.

The name Everlyn was legendary within the slayer families. My father had been the best and brightest, as had my mother, and their parents, etc. They had been matched at young age and their marriage arranged when they were only eighteen, they seemed to hold only gruding respect for one another.

I reached combat class exactly as the bell rang, signalling we should all now be in lessons. "Beatrice!" called Caroline.

Caroline had been my friend since joining Rowhurst, she too came from pronounced bloodlines, belonging to the Fairfax family, her father worked closely with mine. She had a mane of roaring red hair and emerald green eyes, her frame was light and agile, making her lethal.

We hugged briefly before joining the gathering on the floor. Master Scott was already handing out stakes for those who had forgotten, I bent over and extracted mine from the anklet strap concealed by my dress. Caroline did the same.

Master Scott nodded in approval before beginning. "Today, you begin training for your final examinations, taking place at the end of the month. I will be deciding pairs today in order to accustom you to different partners, you will not know your opponent during the final assessment, so this is crucial"

Caroline and I cast weary looks, we were by far the most gifted fighters, pairing us with someone else was plain cruelty.

"Evelyn, you're with Mayfair"

Richard Mayfair was about six foot, with waves of blond hair tied neatly in a short pony tail, he had removed his hat and was straightening his cravat in a rather ceremonious manor. He looked smug, thinking me an easy target. He was sadly mistaken. We all took it in turns to fight in the main arena, each pairing going ahead of mine it seemed, whether deliberate or not, I could not decipher. Caroline easily beat Nettie, who was nursing the fresh bruise on her cheek after the fight, glaring at Caroline. When eventually my own turn came, I waited, allowing Richard to enter the ring by the stairs before leaping over the barrier, landing in a crouched stance, waiting like a snake for the opportunity to strike. Richard circled, and I moved with him, giving him ample opportunity to make the first move.

He lunged forward and I step aside gracefully, he turned and tried again, each time I stepped a little out of reach, tiring him. Richard seemed to get angrier and angrier as time passed and when he ran towards me again, I only stepped aside enough to allow myself not to take the full brunt of the force, grasping his arm tightly and twisting, he howled in pain as I forced his arm back and flipped him over, leaping like a cat and kneeing him in his manhood, his eyes watered and I pushed him into the floor, straddling him and whipping out my stake, plunging it forward but stopping before I actually struck him with it.

"Enough"

I looked up to see Master Scott, who looked furious. I climbed off Richard and stepped away, bowing as was custom. I cast a slightly worried glance at Richard who had not moved from the floor. Master Scott stood over him and howled, "Are you an imbicle? Or just incapable of directing a single blow to your opponent?"

Richard groaned in response. "Get up" he snarled.

Richard did so quickly, his pain forgotten. "A girl! You allowed yourself to be beaten by a girl!"

"But sir-"

"There is no excuse, you have recieved as much training as she, and yet within seconds she had you pinned, if she had been a vampire you'd be dead!"

Richard was turning quickly crimson. "Go, you are dismissed Mr Mayfair"

He left with his tail between his legs, sulking like a small child. "Let that be a warning, to those who do not use proper technique"

"Class dismissed!"

We left quickly, Caroline and I heading towards the library to write the essays set by Master Haverbroke. We slipped quietly into the ancient hall and I groaned loudly, earning a disapproving glare from the librarian.

Caroline withdrew two quils from her satchel and a pot of ink, with enough for two. "How did you know i'd forget mine?" I asked.

"Because i've known you eleven years" she smirked.

I laughed and picked up the feather, it was large and decadent, and of course, a bugger to write with. "What are we writing about again?"

Caroline sighed and said, "go and find a book on vampires of the ancient world, we are writing about the progression of vampires from 1000 B.C to 500 B.C"

"But that's five hundred years, it'll take hours!"

"Better get looking then" she said, shaking her head. I groaned and stomped off to find the book. The rows and rows of ancient, moth eaten texts lined every wall, arranged by subject, alphabetically. When I came to the 'Ancient' section of the library, I skimmed over the titles, a few jumping out - 'Vampires of ancient Rome', 'the complete anthology of myth and legend'.

I was about to give up when I found a book which would be suitable; 'Vampires from 1000 B.C to present'

Of course, present when the book was written seemed to be 170 years prior. It took hours, and Caroline finished long before I, slipping away whilst I was writing to go back to the dormitories and get some sleep. It was midnight by the time I had finished, the candle wax dripping and running down the stem, trickling onto the table. The flame flickered and automatically, I cast my eyes around the room. It was empty of course, the librarian long ago retiring back to her bedchambers and leaving me alone in the cavernous hall.

I seemed to see shadows where there were none, it was a side effect of being a slayer apparently, you saw things that weren't truly there. However, upon hearing a clatter at the far end of the room, I immediatly drew my stake, poised for action.

Vampires could not enter Rowhurst, it was common knowledge, the place had long ago been blessed my a priest and a spell cast by a witch to prevent such a thing. Still, this did not stop me creeping with cat like tread towards the source of the noise. When I reached the source, I found a pile of books scattered on the floor, I looked up to see it was the genealogy section, where all the family trees of the most important vampiric families were kept, checking my surroundings once more, I knelt down and picked up the aging book.

The ink had faded, though it was clearly marked on the page in front of me a name which made me shudder, one that had become a living legend amongst vampires, a nightmare to slayers and humans alike; Felix Petrov.

The prince of vampires.

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