Three years ago. Three years ago Myriam’s family had died from consumption, the illness consuming her mother last. Her community wasn’t able to take care of her, and no man wanted to touch her because she didn’t appear clean. She wasn’t of high standing, not at all, after all, she was raised in the slums of Nice, spending her days at the beach and being taught in the ancient art of black magic. Her mother’s best friend was a demonologist, too, and Myriam loved her teachings. But alas, consumption took her also.
Myriam was determined not to allow consumption to take her and with nothing left in Nice to hold her back, she decided to go to Spain where all the big ships left for the New World. Maybe she could get onto one of those ships and start all over.
Three years of travel and doing everything she could to get to Seville faster. Sometimes she could ride on the back of a cart. Sometimes someone had a spare horse for her to use until they’d go their separate ways. She always paid them naturally, although some men just took. But it was difficult, especially once she crossed the border into Spain. She didn’t speak the language, and she was a girl alone. Myriam had managed to obtain a weapon for protection during a pretty nasty kerfuffle, but she was running out of bullets.
The world was a big, scary place, and Myriam trusted no one unless she pretended to get what she wanted, needed. And she’d pay. Sometimes heavily, sometimes the flavours were less harsh to deal with. Some men were kind. Women with newborn babies were the most generous. And sometimes even small children knew the best places to hide and be safe for the night.
Myriam did not complain. She knew that her life would change drastically after leaving, and with that, she would. She had kept her witchcraft to a bare minimum, unprotected spells and worship could lead to being prosecuted, and that would end with dire results. Although, nobody had ever successfully prosecuted a real witch. No, true witches were smarter than the regular people believed. Those who perished during the trials weren’t right in the head or dared to speak up, and you didn’t have to be a witch to do that.
She had taken her mother’s friend’s notebook with her upon leaving and it had guided her to an address in Valencia; the woman was another demonologist, and upon explaining what had happened, Gaia took her under her wing for a couple of months, teaching her more about prayers and spells, and more about demons. How easy it was to use demons and spirits to do her bidding. Unfortunately, Gaia was an old woman, and while she was exorcising a young child, the beast decided to take Gaia instead, and Myriam had no choice but to cast the demon out. The first one she’d ever evicted. She should have felt proud of herself for doing this, but Gaia’s heart gave out and she died moments later.
Myriam chose to spend a few more months at Gaia’s house, soaking up all the information the woman had left behind with a little bit of help of magic and summoned the demon who killed her mentor before binding it to a necklace of Gaia’s and wore it around her neck. The beast would keep her safe whenever she told him to do so; as repentance for possessing a child and killing her mentor.
She had the demon scout out a farm outside of Valencia to see if it was safe for her to steal a horse from there, as a test. To see if she could genuinely command the demon and trust that it would give her the right information. She managed to get the horse without a problem and started off towards Benidorm. She decided to travel to Seville the long way round, taking the coastal route, because perhaps she would find sailors who would leave for the New World from a different port.
Benidorm was full of fishermen, but they never went out further than a few kilometres out. Quite disappointing. But the fish, the food, was excellent. During one of her restless nights, she decided to take a wander into the village, careful to stay clear of drunks but never in a million years would she have believed what she saw when she turned into an alley.
The man wasn’t having sex with the woman. He was holding her as if she was something to be squeezed; his lips were on her neck, but she could see a small glisten of teeth in the moonlight and the woman was crying out in pain. “Toi! Arrêtez!” Myriam called out bravely, causing the man to pause for a moment and look up at her.
“Oh, French! Don’t worry darling; you’ll be next!” the man replied in French and continued to torment this young woman. Not wanting to be next, Myriam unleashed the demon to get the man away from the woman, and it was quite impressive to see how her demon worked. Invisible to everyone else, but she could see him. He was primarily an average guy, not one of those demons with horns and whatnot and perhaps her demon was more of an evil spirit than an actual demon.
“He’s a vampire, you need to run,” the demon said as he held the man against the wall.
“Vampires are demons, aren’t they?” Myriam questioned him as she watched as the woman got to her feet and ran off. She then approached the ‘vampire’ and looked at him. “I told you to let go of her.”
“And I told you, you’d be next,” he replied playfully. “As soon as you’ll release me, witch.”
“I don’t think so,” Myriam replied as she crossed her arms over her chest. “I haven’t encountered a vampire before… But technically they are demons.”
“Wrong,” the vampire responded, a slight hint of panic in his voice. “We’re dead. Still technically ourselves. Not demons that you can cast out because there’d be nobody home and the body would die.”
“Are you strong enough to take him with us?” Myriam asked her demon, who reluctantly nodded. “Good. I want to test that theory. Follow me.” She walked behind her demon and the vampire, who tried to break free from the hold the demon had on him, an amused smile was on her face the entire way back to the little abandoned shack she had found on her arrival. Her horse was fastened to a pole with plenty of water and hay. She hadn’t planned to stay very long, but with this encounter with the vampire, she had to rethink her plans. What if he was right and she couldn’t cast him out because that would kill him? Could she bind him to her instead? The possibilities were endless!
She had her demon hold the vampire down on the chair as she kept ignoring his pleas and demands of being let go and took one of the books she had brought along from Gaia’s house. While Gaia had lived in Spain, she had a lot of books on demons in French, which made it easy for Myriam to understand what she needed to do. Other books were in Latin and Spanish, and she had a hard time getting her mind around that.
“Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Should I care?” Myriam replied as she sat down on a crate and started to thumb through the pages of her book. “Right now you’re my project. You’ve hurt a woman.”
“To feed. I am hungry, and your pet isn’t doing wonders on my appetite.”
“Then stop fighting,” she replied casually, not looking up from her book. She then looked at her demon. “How are you holding up?”
“He’s strong; he’s not like any vampire I’ve encountered before,” the demon replied. “He’s speaking the truth about the need to feed, too. He’s hungry, and so am I.”
“Well, good thing you don’t eat.”
“I could do with a kill or fear to sustain me. This one isn’t fearful. No, he’s… intrigued. Perhaps even… inappropriately turned on.”
“Explain yourself,” Myriam looked at the vampire, narrowing her eyes at him.
“Darling, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he laughed, shaking his head. “But likely your pet has given you some information you desire some clarification about? But can we do that in English? My French is quite poorly, you see?”
“Your French is fine, immaculate,” she replied curtly. “I don’t speak English.” He was looking at her with a big smile on his face, and she didn’t know what to say at that point. He looked so innocent, so devious and she temporarily forgot why she had brought him to this abandoned shack in the first place. She turned back to her book and read the entry it had about vampires. It was a mere paragraph, nothing more was known about them, or perhaps there was, and nobody was talking. But vampires could be killed by driving a wooden object through their hearts. They weren’t demons and not spirits, either. Something in between. Undead. Necromancers could likely manipulate them. “You’re undead,” she stated then, looking up.
“What does it matter?”
“You need to pay for what you’ve done. I am trying to figure out how to make you my servant.”
“Oh, like your little pet?” Not losing the smile on his face, he looked in the general direction he felt the pressure coming. The oppression it tried to impose on him. “What’s it like, serving your master? What did you do to deserve her wrath?” He then turned his attention back to the girl. “And what I’ve done is nowhere close what my brother Niklaus is capable of.”
“Niklaus Mikaelson?” her demon asked surprised, his control over the vampire slightly wavering. “Ask him, master Myriam, because if he is one of them, you’re in trouble.”
Myriam huffed as she shook her head. She then put her book down as there wasn’t anything of importance in it and walked back over to the vampire. “You’ve impressed my pet, is your brother Niklaus Mikaelson?”
“You have a very clever pet, witch,” the vampire smiled widely. “But not to worry, I am not anything like him. Depending on who you ask, I’m either worse, or I’m not important. What I am, however, is a friend to all the witches. I’ve spent the last 500 years travelling around the globe learning new tricks and teaching other witches and, if you so wish, I could teach you.”
“He’ll kill you,” the demon snarled. “Which is fine by me, as it’ll mean that I’m free again, but I believe you had plans?”
Myriam realised that her demon had failed to contain the vampire when the vampire rose and started to walk towards her. In a slight panic, she snapped his neck and gathered her belongings as she put her demon back into the necklace. She wasn’t sure if she had killed the vampire, but Myriam needed to make sure she’d stay away from him. Myriam hopped on her horse and galloped out of town.
She didn’t stop for the day; she kept going until she noticed that her horse was getting tired and was on the verge of collapse. They were in San Javier, and she snuck her horse into a stable so it could get its rest and decided to have a nap next to her companion as well. The next morning she was roused by an angry farmer with a pitchfork and very much heavy yelling causing all the animals to be upset. He was blocking her exit, and when she tried leaving on her horse, the man stabbed her horse with a pitchfork, making her fall off and hit her head against the side of the stable, and surely breaking something.
“That is no way to treat a lady!”
Before she knew it, the farmer sank through his knees, revealing the vampire she had left holding a bloody heart in his hand. “Don’t hurt me!”
“I should,” the vampire said as he dropped the heart to the ground and moved the body of the horse to get to her. “Since you kidnapped me and all,” he playfully said as he grabbed her bag and scooped her off the floor. “Hang on tightly, little witch, I’m taking you away from here.”
He took her to a home with a view of the sea, very rich and distinguished looking, and very clean. He carefully set her down on the couch and dropped her bag next to her before reaching for a glass, biting his hand and poured some of his blood in there. “Here, drink this. It’ll heal your broken bones.”
“It’s blood,” she said as she scrunched up her nose and tried to reach for her necklace where the demon was in, but it was gone. “My necklace!”
“Relax, darling; you don’t need your pet. I won’t hurt you,” he calmly said as he set his glass on the table. “My name is Kol Mikaelson, I’m a friend to the witches, even when they’ve kidnapped me first.”
“You hurt a woman.”
“And I hurt men, too, as you have seen.”
“He wanted to kill me, why didn’t you let him?”
Kol sighed then. “Darling, I want to help you to get better at your craft. I can teach you so many things, and you haven’t deserved to die, have you?”
“I’m cursed,” Myriam said while she realised that she wouldn’t be able to run from him, not feeling the way that she felt at this current moment. Her demon had warned her about vampires, and she continued anyway. And the vampire, Kol, followed her to her next destination.
“And what makes you say that? Is it because everyone around you dies of consumption or the runs? No offence, but that’s very common in your social circles.”
“And what might that be?”
“Poor,” he pointed out. “Hygiene is hard to maintain for you poor people, and thus the illness spreads. In any case, you might not be cursed because if you were, you would have perished as well. But you haven’t. You can trust me, whatever your name is. I won’t hurt you.”
Myriam huffed then. “It’s all that men do. Hurt and take.”
“Good thing that I’m a vampire who’s been around for nearly 700 years and know better,” he winked at her before taking the glass and handed it to her. “Drink. You’ll feel better. Trust me. I have no desire to make you one of my own, and I want to help you.” When she did not attempt taking the glass from him, he put it back down on the table. “Are you hungry? I’ll see if there’s something in the kitchen. Don’t run. Please don’t run.”
She watched him walk away before reaching for her bag and turned it upside down. Had she lost Gaia’s necklace that held the demon? All that was in her purse was a change of clothes that needed washing, a few small trinkets, including that particular one of her mother and nothing else. Her books. She knew she had taken a few of her books with her when Myriam left Benidorm, but if her books were discovered, San Javier would start a witch hunt, and she merely hoped that there wouldn’t be any identifying notes in there because… Why was she so afraid to die? If she were to be discovered, then that was her fate. Perhaps it was also her fate that she was now in the company of a being that she wasn’t familiar with and had to resign to her fate.
Or maybe later run.
If this Kol Mikaelson said that he wouldn’t hurt her, could she trust him in not doing so? There was no way in hell that she was going to drink blood pure like that. If it had healing properties, then she’d believe him, but she wasn’t going to drink it straight. She saw a side table filled with alcohol on it and diluted the blood a little with one of the bottles before knocking it back, eyes shut, and if it hadn’t been for her other arm hurting, she would have pinched her nose.
And as if by a miracle she could feel the throbbing in her head reduce gradually and the bones in her arm were moving to connect themselves again. She wasn’t sure if it was because of the blood or the strong alcohol she mixed it with, though.
She took this calm to put her belongings back into her bag. “Hey, I’ve seen that before,” Kol had appeared out of nowhere with a plate filled with great smelling food. He set it down on the table and took it out of her hands. “So apart from a witch, you are also a thief?”
“No! Give that back!”
“This couldn’t possibly be yours!”
“It is! My mother was given that when her services were no longer required!” Myriam snatched the trinket back and tossed it into her bag. “That is all I have left of her, stay away from it!”
“Services? Your mother worked for the Italian royalty? What was she? Their witch?”
“What do you mean, Italian royalty?” Myriam demanded. “Are you saying that the man who impregnated my mother is a royal?”
Kol thought for a moment and shook his head. “Perhaps not,” he replied as he handed her the plate of food. “Would be quite the strange story for someone like yourself, raised in poverty, to find out that she’s the offspring of a duke or a prince and therefore royalty herself.”
“That sounds like wishful thinking, or like one of those bedtime stories. Fables.”
“Indeed. A more likely tale is that the man who gave that to your mother was a thief. And a good one at that,” he concluded as he pointed at the plate. “I am happy you’re feeling better. Now eat. Then you’re going to rest some and when you wake there will be another meal before I want to test your abilities.”
“I told you, I want to help you to become a force to be reckoned with, not merely a witch who does party tricks. The only way I can do that is by testing you. And perhaps start teaching you English, all this talk in French is tiresome.”
“Don’t I get a say in this?”
Kol smiled. “No. Maybe in six months.”
“You’re kidnapping me now?”
“Perhaps I am,” he said with a nod. “If giving you a clean home with good food and running water means kidnapping you, sure.”
“So I’m free to leave?”
“No. And don’t try running as I’m faster. Now eat.” Kol got to his feet and left the room, leaving her to herself. That trinket of hers was a quite interesting one. She could be royalty, one way or the other, and if she was able to control invisible pets, she was likely a demonologist. And on top of that, a witch. Not well versed in magic, but the potential was there. She was interesting, a real spitfire.
He knew that, in time, she was going to trust him and they were going to have so much fun.
Myriam pretended to be cooperative for the rest of the week, still not giving Kol her name, but he did have more knowledge than she had ever possessed. She could easily leave when he went out for a feed or brought in a new person to cook for them, but she took the time to amass her army of demons in case she’d need them. She was running out of trinkets she could bind them to, but an army of ten was likely enough for her to escape the vampire when she needed to.
But, for now, she was going to stick around and learn as much as she could because he was true to his word; so far, he hadn’t hurt her or had demanded payment for his help. Aside from feeding her and teaching her, he had also gotten her some new clothes. She felt truly clean, she could take warm baths with fancy soaps and Myriam had to admit, all of this luxury made her feel like she was a real woman.
But it was a fairytale. A fable. And bad things would always happen in those kinds of stories, so her army of demons was an excellent preparation for when things would go awry. Or, if Kol decided to be like every other man.
“How many did you summon and bind to you, darling?” Kol asked her as they were enjoying paella and a luxurious glass of red wine. “Oh, don’t give me that look, I would have done the same if I were in your position. I’m grateful that you’re not using them on me.”
“You haven’t given me any reason not to use them on you, yet,” she responded as she took a sip of her wine. “You said it yourself; vampires are fickle with fickle moods and intense emotions. It makes you unreliable, so I must prepare for that.”
“I understand that,” he replied as he looked at her. “Or you know, when you come across men who wish harm on you. But, you do know that once you’re stronger with your natural magic, you won’t need them anymore?”
“My demons and spirits can also possess people to make them do my bidding,” she told him. “You’re strong enough to fight them off, but regular men aren’t. But they are strong enough to keep you away from me when I want them to be.”
“I understand that too,” he replied, a wary smile on his lips. “But I hope I’ve shown you enough that you won’t need to use them on me.”
“Are you afraid?” she laughed. “Of me? You’re super fast and super strong, you could rip my heart out before I could even unleash one demon.”
“Afraid? No. Apprehensive? Maybe. As I said before, you have such great power inside of you, and I want you to unleash that. Not on me. But use it.”
Oh, Myriam knew where this was going. He only wanted to teach her magic because he couldn’t do it himself. “On your enemies?”
“Ah, that’s up to you darling.”
“That’s not a confirmation nor a denial.”
“Exactly,” he winked at her. “Eat up, after dinner we’re going to practice your English.”
Six months later, and they were still in San Javier. It had been the most extended amount of time she’d spent anywhere since leaving Nice, and also the most fun time. Kol was a great teacher, he was patient, on his good days, and had a vast amount of knowledge. Myriam still held on to her army of demons, but Kol had been nothing but respectful towards her. He wanted to teach her a lot in a short amount of time, and she had been keeping up with him quite well, but she was starting to feel restless.
And unfortunate for her, Kol noticed. “What’s wrong, darling?” He still didn’t know her name. It had started out as a game, but during her studies with Kol, she realised that by knowing someone’s or something’s name, it would give you power over them. How she had control over her demons as she knew them by name. She wasn’t ready yet to give him that power over her.
Myriam sighed as she looked at him. “I left Nice to travel to one of the main ports in Spain to take me to the New World. Spending six months here… it’s not moving me any closer to there.” He wanted her to speak English; otherwise, she’d never learn, but she was a fast learner, and while she still made a few mistakes, she had grasped the basics, and when Myriam didn’t know a word, she always said it in French.
“And why would you? I’m teaching you all that I know, isn’t that good enough?”
“I suppose,” she replied quietly. “Perhaps it was my foolishness as a teenager that believed that going to the New World would mean a completely fresh start. That being dressed in rags wouldn’t matter as everyone else would be in the same predicament after a while.”
“You’re not dressed in rags now. You’re well fed and taken care of while you study.”
She then looked at him. “But isn’t it every woman’s fate to find a husband and make a family?”
“Your mother fell pregnant with you while she was working and you grew up without a father. You turned out alright. Women don’t need men to be worthy or to have the life that they desire. It’s out there, for the taking. For someone with your powers, it would be easy to take what is your birthright.”
“Are we still talking about the New World or something else entirely?”
“That trinket of your mother. It has been haunting me ever since I saw it, and I know it’s from the Medici family. Granted, their rule might be declining as the line thins out, but I know that 200 years ago my brothers were in their court. I might have been there briefly, out of sheer boredom, but I soon left,” he explained. “Five red balls are surrounding a golden shield with a blue ball on it, am I correct?”
Myriam nodded as she took the trinket out of her pocket and put it on the table in front of her.
Kol pointed at it and smiled. “That exact emblem can be found on buildings all over Florence and Tuscany, on any church, building or palazzo that was financed with Medici money. At the height of their power, the Medici’s ruled both Tuscany and Florence, and they had very influential friends. Especially in Florence. No one quite knows what the balls mean. Some say they represent dents in a shield. Some say they’re pills, of the pharmaceutical kind, and others believe that they are coins.”
“I always thought they were oranges.”
“It’s quite possible that that answer is correct, but we’ll never know. Even my brothers never found out what they truly represent. The Medici family were bankers and wool merchants 200 years ago when my brothers found them, and they were turned into the richest family at that point in time. They became patrons of the arts and humanities. The last one is particularly ironic seeing as my brother Nik has quite the appetite, and my brother Elijah is a maniac in his own right. The Medici’s also supported architecture and the sciences. In particular, Galileo Galilei who showed his gratitude by teaching the Medici children.”
“And you truly believe that this trinket belongs to the man who impregnated my mother and dismissed her from his court?”
“I do,” he replied truthfully and saw how her face changed. It was almost as if there was a thundercloud over her head, so much anger, so much rage, and he could barely contain his excitement. “How does it make you feel that you could have lived such a different life? You could have grown up without poverty, and perhaps your mother would have never contracted consumption if she’d been allowed to stay. My guess is that he gave her that as compensation.”
“This is nothing but a useless trinket,” Myriam scowled. “If it were possible, I’d find that man and…”
“No. I’d curse him and any of his other progeny – present or future. And perhaps take a little bit of his money to pay for passage to the New World.”
He was only a little bit disappointed. There was nothing wrong with a bit of bloodshed. “Shall we go on an adventure, darling? Track him down? Have a little bit of fun? Get your revenge?”
“We can do that?”
“Of course!” Kol replied, a big smile on his face. “And while we travel back to Italy, we will continue your studies, how does that sound?”
“But will it not take a long time? It took me three long years to travel to Valencia out of Nice.”
“We’re in San Javier. There are plenty of fishermen, and we’ll compel the one with the best boat to get us across, and he’ll take us back, too. In the end, we’ll reward him handsomely. At most, it will take us three months to get there.”
“I’m not going to spend three months at sea. How long will it be on horseback?”
“About as long, so would you rather spend it in relative comfort or severe discomfort?”
“On a boat, you’d need a lot of people with you because you need to feed, on horseback you can stop whenever you want,” she argued, a smile on her face because she’d already won and she knew it. The more people on a boat would mean the ship would be slowed down. Granted, the boat would gradually go faster once he threw his dead meal overboard, but it still would take them longer.
He relented with a sigh and a nod. “A horse-drawn carriage. I am not going to be on the back of a horse, it’s uncomfortable, and we’d want to bring some books along the way to continue your studies.”