It was a cold shivering night when Loren and five of his companion lost in the middle of nowhere in some part of Yekaterinburg in Russia.
The swift cold wind gives a chilling shiver on their skins down to their bones.
Vampires are cold-blooded and they can stand the temperatures of winter, but for tonight? I don't think so.
There is something in this coldness, something that puts his alert levels in a high position.
"Be keen in your surroundings, soldiers" he warned them.
They are currently in the middle of the ice-cold forest with horses, but even the animals are not comfortable with the atmosphere.
A few steps and they arrived at someplace where horses can't pass through.
They can't step back and return to where they came from, something is clearing all their prints in the snow, and going back will only make them more in loss to this maze-like dead forest.
"My Lord, let me transform and fly up to the sky to see where are we in this forest" one soldier presented.
He disapproved. One is this alarming feeling he has with the place, two, staying hidden in the woods would help them to plan for an ambush by enemy troops.
"We will cross this way without exposing ourselves to the enemies"
Abandoning their horses, they began to walk in the snow as the passage is getting narrower as they advance.
An hour has passed and they began to feel movements in the bushes around them.
Every one of them chases the movements bush by bush with their eyes as it glows in red to prepare themselves for a fight.
To their surprise, it was not anything like a human, werewolf, or even an animal but a doll. – a doll that moves on its own.
The doll is not as presentable as the dolls in the human towns, it is creepy and dirty especially now that it is moving toward them.
"Sorcery" muttered one of the soldiers as they see it running towards them.
He doesn't know but after seeing this doll, his worry for their safety begins to shrink and disappear from his chest.
It stopped in front of him and raised its arms while gazing up at him. It seems that the doll wants him to carry her. Now that's odd.
He picked her up like a child who wants to be carried.
"How terrible you look, strange doll. Seems like you are here in this freezing place for centuries" he spoke while looking at the doll and notices its shredding clothes and has joints that are covered with ice making it hard for the doll to move freely.
"What are we going to do with that doll, Your Imperial Highness? This place might be a home or a hideout of some powerful being. With this doll, it might be a witch!"
He placed the doll on his left shoulder sitting there as he began to examine the surroundings.
"I want to see your master. We want to seek help on how to get out of this forest" he requested to the doll.
The soldiers behind him looked at each other-- worried.
The doll didn't speak but raised its arms to point in a single direction.
"Everyone, let's go" he commanded.
No one agreed but they followed him as they walk to the ice anyway.
As they began to go near their destination, the ice is getting thicker and the temperature is dropping terribly.
Then they saw a pillar of ice. Well, actually it's not a perfect pillar shape. It seems like the lake exploded and freezes instantly to that form.
He observes the form of ice and he knows instantly that this is not a block of ordinary ice at all. It is formed with magic. They saw some light pulse inside of it.
The doll jumped from his shoulder and then run towards the highest pillar of eyes and to where the light pulse is coming from.
It stopped there and then gaze back at them, pointing to the light that has a pulse.
They all sharpen their sight and let themselves be surprised by what they have discovered.
He heard a voice from his head—it seems that it is alive and doing telepathy.
He remained clueless about what is actually happening right now.
He doesn't know what particular race this woman belongs to.
The woman in the ice is wearing a medieval gown just like the normal aristocrat is wearing in that time. She has white hair and pale skin.
Looking at her, she is perfectly sealed on that ice sleeping peacefully.
"Help me, Loren"
He was surprised even more. How does this woman know her name?
"Come and set me free"
It seems like he is being hypnotized by that voice as he began walking toward the center of the lake, out of self-awareness.
He can't hear the callout of his soldiers and thinks the time stopped around them-- he mesmerizes by how beautiful she is and on the other hand, she is waiting to be set free.
One soldier tried to step forward but a spike of ice sprouted in front of him making him unable to help and stop the Tsesarevich(Crowned Prince)
"Yes, come here, Your Imperial Highness"
He was bewitched.
He knows that but he is unable to refuse the calling. He doesn't know why. It has some impact inside of him that he can't refuse.
Then a song plays in his head.
The woman is singing in his head.
He touched the ice and it began to glow. He tries to melt it by using his own elemental prowess.
A crack from it showed and it grows tremendously until the whole pillar of ice was covered in it.
Then it breaks free.
The song stopped but he can still feel her power bewitching him.
As the woman broke free from the pillar, the whole lake that was covered in ice is bit by bit returning to its former view-- Warm and normal.
He catches the falling woman as the ice melts and jumps to the nearest landform.
They saw how fast the ice-covered place turn into a spring view-- From a place covered by snow to a warm place where the plants and trees grew to like it was not covered in winter seconds ago.
He looked at the woman in his arms.
She is breathing and sleeping.
"My lord, I'm sure that the woman is not from our race" one of his soldiers confirmed.
Yes, she is exactly not from their race.
"And not from Werewolves either" he added.
"A human? A sorceress? a witch" exclaimed his team.
He felt their worry and fear from them.
"Then let's find out once she regains her consciousness"
He looked into the doll that was clinging to the lower part of the woman's dress.
"I set your master free. Now it's time for you to show us the way out of this forest"
A sorceress or a witch, either of the two – He knows that the woman possesses incredible magic power. Somehow, he doesn't believe that the woman falls in either category.
They reunited with their horses and traveled until they reached their original point of destination -- the Deskovick Palace.
Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia***
The discussion began to rise as the door from his room opened.
At that exact point, he is carefully laying down the woman on her sleep on his bed.
"I heard a rumor that you brought a human here in the palace, Loren" irritable but mixed with worry the woman asked.
"Oh my!" she exclaimed as she saw the one she is talking about.
"You can drop the exaggeration, mother"
After he made sure that the woman is comfortable lying on his bed, he started to get his clothes in the closet and change his uppers.
Her mother, Empress Alyssa, will surely scold him and remind him not to act foolish as this night will be a special night in the House of Deskovick.
"I will make sure that she won't be at the party, mother. You can calm yourself"
Alyssa buttoned his polo with the worries written all over her face.
He bitterly smiled as he reached her cheeks. He is also scared for this night.
Her mother reached his hand on her face and closed her eyes, feeling deeply his touch—finding comfort in it.
"You're a grown-up man now, Loren. This night might be the last night you will be here in the palace, I just want everything to be as according to what we are expecting as possible"
This night is a special event to Deskovick's as mentioned-- the Queen of all Vampire Royalties, Elena herself will be coming into the palace all the way from Romania to pick him up.
He was chosen to be one of the Round Table of Twelve, wherein twelve knights from different elemental classes and from different parts of the world gather to serve directly to the Queen and protect the Royal Family.
And him, Loren Aramis Deskovick, Tsesarevich of Russia, son of the late Emperor will take the position of Round Table #7 or simply will be called Number 7.
He will be Her Majesty's pawn in wars he never wants to be in.
"You know I don't want to be in her wars, mother?" his cold breath reaches her mother's skin.
"This is the only way we can sustain power in these vast lands. You knew that we are not the only noble families fighting to govern this country, right?"
He removed his hand away from her cheek and turned against her. He sat on the bed beside the sleeping woman she rescued from that pillar of ice.
"Why should we concern ourselves from the Valderak? That they will steal the leadership of our family in these territories? Since we were put into power among these lands, we were able to exile all werewolves and that must never be forgotten" the volume of his voice is in control but the sharpness of his words is there.
"Protector of humans" an almost whispered but he heard it clearly.
He gazed back at his mother.
She is shaking and controlling her tears to fall down her eyes.
"You knew your father died 5 months ago because he was accused of protecting a human village, right?" her mother crying, almost shouting, grieving her loss.
"But he is preserving them to a greater cause. Preserving and protecting are two different agendas. It is similar to how the Grand Duchess of St. Petersburg is managing her blood supply, right?" He closed his fist with force as he remembers how they accused his father and get him killed without honor--- the most powerful person in this land.
His father we're nailed to a wooden cross upside down and publicly set on fire by the Valderak.
Since then, their family's reputation is in question. With the coming of the Queen of Royalties on these lands, there will only be two fates waiting for them, to be burned alive or to remain in power.
He doesn't want power. He doesn't seek it at all. He just wanted peace for all creatures-- vampires, werewolves, and humans.
He drinks human blood but in moderation. And all the blood his family and household are consuming was from the human villages they are protecting from other vampire families in exchange for their blood.
And because of that, endless battles from different families who desire to dethrone them sprout like a wisteria plant in the middle of the woods.
The only thing that is making them in the position is the geographical advantage they are in. Russia is a cold and mostly wintered country and his family together with their household is under the element of water.
But tonight, bridges and gates will be open. The ceasefire has been demanded since the Queen will be here.
The arrival of the Queen might kill them like a plant down to their roots or nourish them still.
So a single mistake might cause them their fall.
"I will go down to the throne room, my child. Make sure to be presentable and do not let that woman out of your chamber"
The door closes and the sadness envelopes the whole room.
He gently touches the woman's face as it sleeps peacefully on his bed. He saw the doll hiding under the bed and that made him laugh a little—changing his mood.
He picked it up and placed it beside the woman.
"You, guard her"
He touches its hair before turning his back and opening the door.
He glances back again.
"I'll bring honor to this family" he whispered then walk towards the hallways.
Not too long ago the trumpet made a noise and an announcement that the Queen has arrived echoed to the whole palace.
"Open the gates!" her mother shouted to the guards.
As the gates opened, the visitors came in,
With her mother, at the entrance, they welcome each one of them.
Visitors all over the regions are present, including their enemies who are governed by the Valderak.
"So, it is finally open--
Her mother shook hands with the head of the House of Valderak, Muscovante.
--your gates, without the rain of lancers made from ice or the blizzard to get our distance to your territory" smiling at them but an aura of dislike is reeking all over them.
"I am praying that the peace will not only end until the Queen leaves this country" her mother smiled at the old man giving him the same aura.
The old man offered his hand to be shaken by him but he just smiled and never touches anything.
The trumpet again roared to the palace and someone announces the Queen's arrival in the Throne room.
This will be the first time that Queen Elena will be seen in the flesh in Russia.
He approached and kneel before the Queen and everyone followed.
"You can stand now, my Knight" surprised by how she addressed him, he stood up.
He was amazed. The beauty of their Queen makes everyone left in awe.
He knew that the Queen has the ability to change her appearance from a child to a mature woman but still, she has the powerful aura of the true ruler itself.
"Welcome to the humble palace of Deskovick, My Queen"
He kissed her hand to pledge loyalty then he guide them inside the throne room.
He introduces them to his mother and Alyssa leads them to be introduced to other aristocrats.
He who doesn't like the crowd and acts like royalty to these liars gets himself out and went to the balcony.
He loves the air of this country. And it will be missed.
Little does everyone know, that a pair of blue eyes opened somewhere in the palace.