The Chronicles of Koa:
A red dress. Koa would never have been caught dead in all red, but today was the day of her wedding. This wasn’t to be a human wedding, but a Netherworld wedding…a vampire wedding.
Koa scrunched up her nose as she looked down at the billowy gown, littered with crystals and black taffeta. She looked like a gothic spin on a Disney princess. Even at twelve, Koa knew she did not fit the role of such a character. She closed her eyes and tried to calm her nerves.
Koa’s stomach was filled with anxious feelings. Her small hands shook and she wanted to cry.
What am I doing here, Koa kept asking herself.
She kind of understood what was happening, but most of it still didn’t make sense to her. Koa was afraid of this dark and mysterious place, where the population was composed of creatures that would have given normal girls nightmares.
Koa was glad that her father still held her hand.
From the time that they had arrived, he had held her hand and told her to trust him. It was hard. Entering a world of nightmares would be frightening to any little girl.
Koa tried to hide her fear. She didn’t want to show her father that she was weak. She didn’t want to shame him on this important day.
I have to do this, Koa thought as she tugged at the high collar of her gown. She frowned. The lace made her throat itch.
To make father proud. Koa rolled her eyes.
Koa looked up at her father, who walked steadily by her side as they led the procession through the streets of the Central Dominance, formerly known as Lyrinia before the Great Divide.
The Netherworld was no longer at peace. It hadn’t been that way for centuries. Koa swallowed as she looked at the creatures that stared at her as she passed by.
Netherworld vamps, War-Breeders, Jems, Syths, even ghouls came out of their hiding spots to catch a glimpse at the mysterious half-blood princess.
Koa was the girl that was meant to bring peace back to the Netherworld.
Koa tried not to stare back at the horrific creatures all around. Most of all, the Scayors frightened her. They reminded her of police, always watching and patrolling. Made out of metal and Syth bodies, they towered over the crowd, with their eyes casting a green glow over wherever they gazed. She shuddered when their eyes lingered over her. Syths scared her as well. Like monks, they stayed in groups, big and bald, with black cloaks and tattoos on their white faces.
Vampire women and men stared at her. She wasn’t nearly as afraid of them as she was of the Syths and Scayors. She’d seen plenty in her years. Father had various vampires over at the manor from time to time, but none of them looked as picturesque as these Netherworld vamps.
Painted faces stared at her. The vampire women were the most beautiful women she’d ever seen, and yet none compared to her mother’s simple and natural beauty. These women were like painted dolls. Koa noticed how they seemed to be separated into groups. The red lipsticks on the left and the black lipsticks on the right. Koa didn’t know if it was simply a fashion trend or something more, but all of the women had the most elaborate Grecian gowns and jeweled arrangements in the perfectly sculptured hairdos.
They watched her, unblinking, unsmiling. She could see the judgment in their expressions.
“Father,” Koa breathed. She looked away from their dark violet or blue eyes and clutched her father’s arm.
Koa’s father, King Atticus of Elyan looked down at her. His soft green eyes that matched hers were serious today. This was an important moment. Koa was the only one that could stop the slaughter of his people.
“What is it, darling?”
Koa looked ahead at the sparkling, golden, palace before them. The golden plates along the palaces walls shimmered and reflected all light of the disc moon. Her voice was caught in her throat. Something felt odd. Her stomach was twisted with worry. She’d been gazing at the palace from the moment they emerged from the caverns. It called to her as if by magic, pulling her in like a moth to a porch light.
From the cliffs that led down to the levels of the Netherworld by steep narrow staircases, she could see the golden palace. The palace stood out like a candle’s flame in the dark.
Stretched high towards the level above, it was an enchanted place. Surrounded by black buildings and towers, no one could mistake that the golden structure was the palace that housed an ancient line of Netherworld vamps and a king that had been trying to conquer her father’s kingdom for centuries.
This was the place that would be Koa’s new home and King Greggan’s teenage son, Prince Jax would be her new husband.
Koa felt sick to her stomach. The palace was indeed beautiful, but she missed her mother more than anything. She missed the sound of her voice and her sweet scent. She missed having her mother hold her and smooth her hair whenever she was sad and lonely.
Koa stopped abruptly. Her father frowned. Everyone was watching. The guards that were leading them looked ready to seize her and force her forward.
He leaned down to her ear. “What’s wrong?”
Koa tensed. “I want to go home.”
Her father patted her hand and when one of the Syth guards stepped forward, he whipped out the Lyrinian sword with lightning speed. Everyone gasped and stepped back as the ring of steel rang throughout the air. Even Koa held her breath as her eyes shot to the blade.
The Syths were like monks, but covered in tattoos of Netherworld dialect all over their bald heads. They wore heavy black cloaks with the hoods down and carried whips and crossbows.
King Atticus’s raptor like glare burned into the Syths, warning them to keep their distance. He didn’t even have to say a word. The glow of the black blade was enough to make the large, brutish creatures rethink their actions.
Black, beady, eyes glanced down at the red glow and stepped back.
Atticus waited a moment longer, making sure they knew how serious he was. Koa had trained with that sword before. One day it would be hers.
Koa remembered the euphoric feeling of holding that hilt. The heaviness of it, and the pulsing of the power into her body. She also knew how deadly it was, and how it would not be put away until all surrounding evil was vanquished.
Koa still held her breath, wondering if she and her father were going to have to fight her way out because of her inability to accept her fate.
She flinched when her father’s glare came down on her. “Koa,” he began softly. “This is your home.”
Koa shook her head, but avoided his eyes. She looked around. The air was stale, not like the fresh, fragrant air of Paris. The sky was dark, lit only by an artificial Disc Moon that cast different colors across the land whenever the hour changed.
She missed the moon of Earth. She missed the sun, the trees, and flowers. The Netherworld felt like a nightmare that she would never awaken from. No matter what color the day was in the Netherworld, it was always too dark for her. Koa’s father didn’t understand her love for daylight.
King Atticus had never seen real daylight. The sun’s rays would kill him, as it would any other vampire, Netherworld or New World. Koa was different. She wished he would understand.
Her father gave her hand a squeeze. “You are half Netherworld vampire, Koa. This is where you belong, amongst your people.”
Koa shook her head. “I am also half human, Father.”
Atticus didn’t say anything. He looked down at her and pursed his thin lips. Koa thought of how her father looked like an Italian mobster from movies. His imposing stature and sharp features demanded respect. Most people were afraid of him. Koa could see why.
He had a look about him that was completely different from her mother’s. Her mother had delicate features. She was Korean, and had the gentlest brown eyes Koa had ever seen.
Once again, her stomach tied into knots. She tried to push down the anger she felt towards her father.
Koa didn’t like feeling that way. It threatened to ruin the relationship she had just started to develop with him. He’d taken Koa and her mother from poverty, and shown them a life of privilege and riches.
“Bring mother here, and maybe I won’t feel so homesick,” Koa reasoned, her green eyes hopeful.
Atticus shook his head. “My darling girl. You will see that this is the place for you. You belong here with your people. The treaty has already been signed.” He leaned closer to her ear and whispered. “Your mother cannot come here Koa. She is safe in the mortal world. If we do not fulfill our side of the treaty, she will be in danger. Now, is that what you want?”
Koa’s face paled. Her lips trembled. She shook her head quickly. Just the thought of someone harming her mother made her feel sick. She didn’t know what she would do if she lost that sweet, loving, woman.
She looked into her father’s eyes.
“Do you understand what I am telling you?”
Koa nodded. She understood, but she still didn’t agree with what was happening.
Atticus smiled and stroked her pale white cheek.
“But I don’t want to do this,” Koa whispered.
Atticus’s smile faded, but his eyes didn’t turn cold on her as she expected. He knelt down to her level and cupped her cheek.
“I know, my dear girl, but sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to…to protect those that we love.”
Koa frowned and rolled her eyes. She wasn’t sure what he meant by that. All she knew was that this entire ordeal was unfair, and that no one had asked her permission.
“May I?” Faun, one of the vampire women sent to dress and prepare Koa asked of Atticus.
Atticus nodded and Faun scampered over to fix Koa’s long black hair that reached the small of her back. Koa didn’t take her eyes from her father’s. She hoped that he would see how miserable she was. She tried to look as sad and pathetic as possible.
Faun glanced at Koa’s face with dull violet eyes. She was adamant about making sure Koa’s part was perfectly straight so that her hair fell in long ringlets that had taken nearly an hour to do just right. She checked that the red lipstick hadn’t bled onto Koa’s teeth or chin.
Black liner, red lips, and rosy cheeks. Koa was ready. Still, her heart was broken.
Atticus locked arms with Koa. “Shall we continue, darling?”
Koa couldn’t bring herself to look at her father again. Her eyes were burning from the tears that threatened to gush forth.
She gave a quick nod, and once again, they were walking down the black stone walkway that led to the large stone doors of the Lyrinian palace.
Koa felt her heart pattering against her ribcage. She felt like she might have an anxiety attack. So many eyes staring. So much anticipation in the air.
When Koa stepped through the doors and followed the guards through the long, brightly lit corridors, she contemplated flying away. She’d thought of it often. She could simply lift herself into the air, and head for the Gate, but visions of her mother being harmed kept her firmly planted to the ground.
Koa felt numb, like she was walking to her prison cell. She felt her eyes pool when she saw the entrance to the grand ballroom, where she would meet this mysterious prince and be forever doomed.
Koa stepped into the room, into a flood of light and decorations. Her heart thumped. She felt something she hadn’t expected. Koa’s face flooded with blood as her eyes met those of the prince.
No one else mattered. Nothing else existed as Koa’s eyes cut through the crowd and down to the set of five thrones as Koa and her father stopped before the platform.
“Princess Evina, 1st Queen Katya, 2nd Queen Lera, your highness, King Greggan, and Prince Jax, behold King Atticus of Elyan and Princess Koa.”
Koa heard the introductions but something odd was happening. She stared at Prince Jax with her mouth agape.
He was the most attractive person she had ever seen in her life. Piercing dark blue eyes, dark blood red hair and a perfectly sculpted chin and nose. Koa felt her face flush as he looked her up and down. Then, he did something that made her grin, despite her previous fears and doubts.