“Veronique?” An unfamiliar voice asked quietly, causing Myriam to snap around to the man. “Oh, my apologies, milady, I was mistaken. I saw you pacing, just as she would, around this same fountain. Sometimes I wonder…”
So this man was her father? What a pitiful excuse of a man! He was fat, his hair was receding, and that beard of his looked hideous. But then again, wealthy people could look whatever they wanted to look like. It was money that was the attraction in most cases. “Who was she? You speak of her as if she’s to be missed.”
“Oh, it is nothing to talk about to a stranger,” he smiled kindly at her.
“I have nothing better to do than to listen, good sir,” she replied with a slight curtsy as she pointed at one of the benches in the garden. “Sometimes it does one good to lighten the heart into the ears of a stranger.”
The man let out a breath and nodded. “Perhaps you’re right. Are you certain?”
“My lord, you are a master of this house, are you not? You can do whatever you wish,” she replied as she sat down on the bench and held out her hand. Oh, while she never had her mother’s training, her mother had, of course, taught her a few things about men and the rules in royal homes. Perhaps her mother had been training her in case that one day, she’d be swept away to serve herself and had wanted to make the transition less of a burden.
Myriam, of course, never wanted this life for herself. She preferred to march to her own drum.
The man took her hand and sat down next to her. “Veronique was my favourite courtesan, many years ago,” he replied as he looked at her. “I’m sorry, perhaps this is not the best subject to discuss with a lovely lady as yourself.”
“It’s flattering that you believe I’m a lovely lady, my lord,” she smiled at him. “But I’m in service of someone present at your lovely ball. There is nothing that I haven’t seen or heard before.” If this man was still so very smitten by her mother, then why hadn’t he come looking for her, and his child? She could smell a little bit of alcohol on his breath, perhaps that was the reason why he was so… sentimental. “Please continue, perhaps it will do you some good.”
“Veronique was a beautiful woman, kind, big-hearted and no task was too hard for her. She worked her way up the ranks and when she became my courtesan, my favourite, I could not help but spoil her and to spend every single minute of every day with her,” he smiled, slightly blushing. “Members of my family were quite jealous, she didn’t have it easy.”
“I bet,” Myriam smiled kindly, but deep inside, she wanted to crush this man’s skull with her bare hands. Unfortunately, she wasn’t that strong of her own. She could feel one of her amulets burn against her chest and after quickly looking at it, she wasn’t surprised. It was a son of Azazel, the god or demon of war, depending on who you’d ask. She allowed him out as not to burn a hole in her chest but kept him back so he could watch.
“What’s that on your chest, milady?”
“Oh,” she let out a nervous laugh. “I forgot that the material doesn’t agree with my body sometimes, it’s nothing to worry about, my lord. Please, tell me more about your beloved Veronique,” she put a hand on his knee and squeezed it for encouragement.
“She had beautiful dark hair, eyes, and skin. She looked like an exotic princess. A lot like yourself, but your skin is fairer than hers. Like yourself, she had a beautiful face and a great posture. She was a dream come true. I was married, of course, and for a while, my wife and Veronique got along quite well. But my wife and I were trying for another child, which would be our last, but the Gods weren’t in our favour. Instead, Veronique fell pregnant.”
“I can’t imagine that went well with your wife.” She didn’t know whether to be happy or to be angry at the fact that she was the youngest. Relieved, maybe?
“We kept it hidden for as long as we could, I promised Veronique I’d find a way to leave my wife for her, but when the family found out, they sent her away while I was out of town for business,” he sighed, shaking his head. “Ever since she left, there’s been a hole in my heart, and my wife and children weren’t able to fill it.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Myriam replied as she could see the guilt and grief written all over him.
“I have a painting of her, would you like to see?”
“I’d like that, yes,” she smiled at him. Anything to get one last glimpse of her mother. Anything. She followed him to his private bedroom where her mother’s portrait was hanging above the fireplace. She looked absolutely beautiful, and she could now see why Kol wanted her to wear the dress that she was wearing and why her hair had to be exactly like this. Myriam looked like a cheap copy of her mother’s greatness, enough to get her father to bite and for her to reel him in. “You’re right,” she said in but a whisper, trying not to allow the tears that were pricking behind her eyes. “She is beautiful.”
“Yes,” he sighed happily. “Sometimes I do wonder what happened to her. Where she is now and if she’s doing alright.”
“And what of the child, my lord? Aren’t you curious to your offspring?”
“My child,” he huffed. “Would be a half breed. Son or daughter of a Medici and a whore. Had Veronique been allowed to stay I would have raised the child as my own but no, I never wondered about my progeny. I’ve had my hands full with those I already have.”
Myriam balled her fists again, silently commanding her demon to take a few steps closer to oppress the man somewhat. “I can tell you exactly what happened to Veronique du Mer,” she said as she looked at the man. “She’s dead. She died in poverty from consumption. Nearly four years ago now.”
“And how do you know this, milady?”
She took a step closer so that the firelight lit her face more. “You can see it with your own eyes. You saw it already and dismissed it, perhaps in denial. You already know who I am!”
The man looked at her in shock. “No!”
“Yes,” she angrily said as she motioned for her demon to take possession of her father. “Get his family in here. Now!” she commanded him and watched at the demon marched her father out of the bedroom. Kol was standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorpost with a cocky smile on his face. “You orchestrated this!”
“I did,” he said as he watched the demon father pass him as he didn’t exist and entered the bedroom. “As I told you, you plan, you anticipate, and you’re patient,” he said as he took the painting of her mother down. “We’re taking this, I assume?”
“You assume correctly,” she said as she started to look around for things that she could throw in the fireplace. To, somehow, diminish her father’s wealth. “He never even looked for her! For me!” she cried out loudly as she kicked over a bucket. “He professes his love for my mother, but he never went and looked for us!”
She grabbed five of her amulets and unleashed all five demons. “Create as much panic and mayhem as you wish,” she commanded. “Let the blood flow freely!”
“Uh, darling?” Kol piped up, slightly turned on by Myriam’s behaviour. “Can I make a small request?”
“Depends on what it is.”
“Have them take out the resident witch? I wasn’t aware of her during my initial exploration of this palace, but it seems like they have a tiny witch on hand and she’s about to mess with our little visit.”
Myriam scowled as she quickly approached the vampire. “What do you speak of? Surely you can take out a witch on your own with your wealth of knowledge. Why do you need my demons for that?”
“Because she’s being protected by five vampire hunters,” he replied. “Ones that were created by magic and that if you’d kill them, you’d get mad for a very long time. Niklaus suffered through the curse for fifty years, and I won’t like it to be me next.”
She could not help but let out a small laugh. “Vampire hunters? Is it even possible for a vampire to go insane? That would certainly make for an interesting study,” she mused as she glanced away thoughtfully. Shrugging, she sighed. “Very well. I’ll have them take care of your little hunters and protect poor Monsieur Mikaelson. I will make sure you won’t be scratched.”
“Darling, they’re no joke!”
“I heard you. You’re terrified of them. I’m intrigued. I’d like to see them for myself to see what you are so excitable over. And take anything that isn’t pinned down that we may be able to sell for some gold.”
“We only have a small carriage.”
“I don’t care!” Myriam blurted. “We’re taking things! You promised me! I can take what I want!”
“I did say that…” Kol ran a hand through his hair as he quickly thought of a solution. “Okay, curse the entire family, have them leave this place. I’ll compel everyone who’s not in the family and currently merely visiting and then we’ll find the ownership papers of this home and find a lawyer somewhere tomorrow to sign the entire, freaking estate over to you! A bloody palace for a bloody princess and perhaps even more properties all across the continent!” he responded. “But for god’s sake, darling, kill those hunters before they kill us!”
Myriam pursed her lips as she leaned against a chaise in the room as she eyed the vampire. “You are aware that you are no fun when you are upset. Yes?”
“There is a reason I’m upset!” He moved to one side of the room as demon father walked in with his family. “Please.”
She smiled at him, shifting her attention to her family. “There may be more supernatural creatures visiting. Ones that are not a part of our agreement,” she spoke to her demons. “Any witch, or creature of magic, that is not myself or my pet vampire here, I want you to destroy them.”
Kol growled. “I’m not your pet, Darling.”
“Oh, you truly are with the way you’re behaving now!” She released two more of her demons and kept one with her for protection as she looked at her father’s wife and three sons. “Hello, I’m your baby sister,” she smiled deviously. “Father never bothered to look for me, or my mother, so instead, I came looking for you.”
“If you’re here for money, we don’t respond well to threats!” The oldest son threatened her, causing Myriam to walk up to him and pulled him down to her level. “Let go of me!”
She estimated his age and grinned as she clutched her remaining amulet that held a demon in it, she could feel its energy flowing through her. “In the name of the dark Mother Hecate, I curse you, and your progeny for eternity. You shall find misfortune wherever you turn, and everything you touch will turn into dust.” She repeated that a few times before placing the man’s hand on his brother’s shoulder who immediately dried out and crumbled on the floor, to dust.
She then turned to the youngest brother, grabbing him tightly by the hair. “In the name of the dark Mother Hecate, I curse you and your progeny for eternity. Your spouses will die fifteen years after baring you a child. One, and only one. Even when you’ll surround yourself with multiple spouses, you’ll only get the one child. I curse you.”
Myriam then turned to Kol as she sought contact with her demons who were doing as they were told. “Are you hungry?”
“Eat her,” she said as she pointed at the woman.
“Why should I have all the fun?” Myriam smirked as she then turned to her father, who was still possessed by her demon while the woman screamed when Kol sunk his teeth into her. “And you. You should have done better. I invoke the Dark Mother Hecate to curse you and your brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins and other generations of Medici. Your luck has run out. The moment you set foot outside this building, you will be chased by angry mobs of people. Forever, until you and your entire family dies. Everything you own is mine and will always be mine. Set foot in any of my property and you shall burn. I curse you!”
Bella then addressed the demon inside her father. “You will stay with him until he dies. You will report to me every month. You’re going to have them sign everything over to Veronique du Mer and her children and keep the papers on this premises until I come back to get them. Once he dies, you will protect those papers. Have I made myself understood?”
“Yes mistress, I’ll do this gladly for you. Can my brethren stay with me?”
“Once they’re done, they can stay here and protect this palace,” she nodded before looking at Kol, she was surprised he wasn’t done yet. “Anything else, Kol?”
He dropped the body on the floor and wiped his mouth. The feeding had taken his mind off of the hunters, but only for a little while. “How are your demons doing?”
“They’re dead, your big bad hunters and that witch. They did find another vampire, though, want to meet her?”
“Oh yes,” Myriam smiled as she took her painting with her and looped her arm through Kol’s. “She’s trying to escape, and right now my demons are cornering her and ushering her into the ballroom.”
“Really now? Oh, darling, we could use her for target practice for your magical abilities,” he said all happy. “But did you know, I can compel other vampires? I could have her help me compel the rest of the guests to get them out of your palace.”
“Really? You never told me you could do that.”
“Ah, that’s one of the perks of being an Original vampire, darling, we can compel the non-Original ones!”
“Well then, let’s go and check out that vampire, perhaps she’ll be able to provide us with some entertainment once you’re done with the guests.”
The vampire was screaming to fight whatever was chasing her and Myriam ordered her demons to poke her to see if she’d scream louder, her screams filling the ballroom along with those of the guests running out of the ballroom because of the commotion. “Catch them before they leave, I’ll entertain her for a bit,” Myriam said as she gently pat him on his shoulder. “And feed when you have to, I mean, take what you want, right?” She watched him go after the fleeing horde of people and how he used his speed to compel the most of them, before entering the ballroom. “Shut your mouth already!” Myriam demanded as she looked at the frightened vampire. Myriam was taller. The vampire had dark brown hair, which was messy right now but there were certainly some curls in there that weren’t natural, and her face was truly ashen. “Well done boys,” she smiled at her demons. “Care to stick around?”
“Her fear feeds us, lady Myriam, thank you.”
“Ah, stay then, feed!” She grinned as she approached the girl vampire. One of her demons was holding her back so that she wouldn’t hurt Myriam. “What’s your name then?”
“None of your business!”
She nodded then, causing the closest demon to use his energy to influence the vampire even further. “What’s your name?”
“Go to hell!”
“Oh, ma puce,” Myriam sighed as she squatted down to look at the vampire with a smile on her face. “I don’t need to go to hell, I bring hell with me. Now, tell me your name. I’m not going to ask again.”
“Go to hell!”
Myriam got back to her feet and decided to try a spell on her that Kol had taught her. She reached out with her hand and imagined squeezing a heart. It was the intent that gave a spell power, words mattered, but the intent was the most important and all Myriam wanted right now was to hurt someone.
The vampire was screaming again, and Myriam just smiled as she watched the vampire clutch her heart.
“Did you just call our guest a flea?” Kol asked as he walked into the ballroom, the vampire obstructed from his view because of Myriam blocking it.
“Yes, because she’s not telling me her name,” she said as she turned to Kol and seeing him at all levels of being dishevelled, covered in blood. “Couldn’t you at least have fed normally? Or cleaned yourself up?”
“Why bother, darling?” He countered happily before looking at the vampire. “Oh, but I know her! She’s Niklaus’ little plaything! Or she was before she turned herself into a vampire and ran off! Hello Katerina.”
“Oh great,” Katerina said with a strangled voice as Myriam was still clutching her heart with her spell. “It’s the maniac.”
Myriam gave Katerina’s heart another squeeze. “How did this bitch become your brother’s plaything?”
“I told you about the curse, didn’t I?” Kol asked as he joined his witch’ side. “It requires the blood of a doppelganger, and this one here was a doppelganger of the one that the curse was bound with. Elijah had a perfect exit strategy for her, he would be able to save Katerina’s life, but she had other plans. She got her hands on vampire blood and killed herself. Niklaus would love her head on a silver platter for her betrayal.”
Myriam’s eyes grew dark then. She didn’t know Kol’s brother, she had never met him, but betrayal was never right. “Target practice it is,” she said darkly, releasing the vampire from her grasp. “Can you compel her to cluck like a chicken?”
“Unfortunately… the rumour goes that Katerina has been ingesting Vervain ever since she turned to make sure that she wouldn’t be able to get compelled.”
Myriam looked at him before looking at Katerina in disgust. “Well then… let’s see if my pets can clear her system from that…”
“Darling, you don’t need your pets to torture her. Use your magic, she’s not going anywhere!”
“Use your magic, stop relying on your pets!”
“It’s what I’m good at!”
“Exactly! They’re toi doudou!”
“Take that back!”
Myriam growled as she took a step closer to him. “Take that back!”
“Dou. Dou.” Kol laughed. “You already used some magic on her, do it again! It’s not that hard!”
“Lady Myriam,” the demon that was holding Katerina down was trying to get her attention. “She is wearing me out.”
“Then switch places,” Myriam snapped. “We’re not done here yet!”
“Yes, we are,” Kol used his vampire speed to get all of her amulets off of her and broke them all, releasing the demons in the process.
“Cochon!” Myriam slapped him in the face. “How dare you taking away my pets! You wouldn’t touch them, you said!”
“Darling, Katerina is getting away, what are you going to do about it?”
She narrowed her eyes at him as her hand shot out in the direction of Katerina and made a yanking motion, causing the vampire to slide back on her ass. “Happy?” she snapped at him.
“Ah, you can do better than that, how about inflicting some damage?”
“I’d like to keep my palace in the same condition we found it in.”
Kol nodded. “A little bit too late, darling as your fountain is now spouting out blood instead of water.”
Myriam scowled as she magically pulled Katerina along with her towards the garden while the vampire struggled against the invisible rope and being unable to scream before Myriam used her magic to throw her into the fountain and held her down. Liking the way the vampire kicked up the red water for a very long time before nothing. The monster had drowned.
Sighing, Myriam sat down on one of the benches in silence as she looked at the fountain.
“Shut up,” she pouted. “I ruined my dress!”
He sat down next to her and put his arm around her. “You know, darling, if you weren’t such a talented witch with extreme potential that I like to spend time with, you’d make a cute little devious vampire that I’d certainly love to hang around with.”
“Then take it off,” he shrugged. “This is your home now, remember, you can do anything you want.”
“I want Florence to drown in blood. No, I want the entirety of Tuscany to drown in blood. I want you to pay for taking away my pets!”
“Oh, hold on,” he held up his hands. “I only released one,” he said as he pulled the amulets out of his pocket. “I had to push you over the edge somehow. And I am sorry, but you know that I am right. You are hiding behind your demons while you’re perfectly capable of doing magic. You can do more damage with your magic than your pets.”
“I see that now,” she said as she took the amulets. “But I still like my pets, and it already hurts that most of them are staying here to protect the property.”
“Alright, let’s go home. We’ll get cleaned up, gather our stuff and head back home, what do you say?”
She nodded before using her magic to drag the unconscious Katerina out of the bloodied water. Myriam then focused as she pulled another demon out of the other dimension and bound it to her necklace, one that looked to be made with a lapis lazuli gemstone, just like Kol’s daylight ring. Katerina would never take it off if she didn’t want to burn in the sunlight. “I command you to keep an eye on Katerina. You will not influence her in any way, but you will stay with her until I call for you. Understood?”
“Thank you,” she said to the demon before snapping Katerina’s neck and stepped over her on her way to the exit. “Where’s my painting? Because that thing is coming with.”
“It’s already in the carriage, darling. Now, if I were you, I’d cast a little spell to revoke all access to this palace for vampires, it would clean her out on her own. And me, but I hope to be outside before you cast it.”
“No, the demons will take care of her. And of any trespasser, vampire or not. Perhaps when I return someday, I might, for my own protection, but until then, my demons will handle things.”
“Alright,” he said as he guided her towards the carriage. “Did you have fun, darling?”
“Best ball ever! Can we do that again someday?”
Myriam was careful indeed when picking the Vervain on their way back to Spain. She hung it on one side of the carriage to dry out the leaves faster and had made a tea from it. Kol stayed well clear of it, but he was surprised that she didn’t think the tea was disgusting. Vervain was a very acquired taste. By the time they crossed into France, she had collected all of her herbs for her powerful protection tea.
Kol believed it was time. If he was going to introduce her to his family and hopefully have his siblings take her in as she so desperately craved for a family, she needed to be even more protected, be ready for contingencies. Such as accidentally turning. In a family like his, you’d never know who’d throw a temper tantrum. He produced a page he had torn out of one of the grimoires he had found in the library in Florence and handed it to her.
“What is this?”
“It’s everything you need to make daylight rings or amulets,” he explained. “For vampires to use, but mostly for your own protection. I want to introduce you to my family.”
“Ah, fickle vampires.”
“Yes,” he let out a small chuckle. “My sister Rebekah can get quite jealous and go into a blind rage. My brother Niklaus has anger issues and me? For some reason my family makes me want to kill all the bloody time, and I’m not sure if I can contain myself around them.”
“But what if I don’t want to be a vampire?”
“You can still make use of your demons, darling. As a demonologist you won’t need magic to do so, the power is in your belief, intent, and words,” he reminded her. “And you don’t have to be a vampire, not if you don’t want to, but should something happen and you’d turn, I’d love it if you’d make the transition so we can have more parties together.”
“Can I think about that?”
“Of course, but I still want you to start making these for yourself. At least to have them to hand them to vampires who don’t have them yet. They’ll be loyal to you for giving them the gift of freedom, to walk in the sun, and they’ll protect you from other supernatural beings.”
“Like my pets.”
“Yes, but more tangible. I don’t want to leave you unprotected. Therefore, the next carriage we’ll pass, I’ll kill the inhabitants, and you’ll get their jewellery to play with. We can pick up the gemstones in Nice.”
“Nice? I don’t think I am ready to go back home yet, Kol.”
“Then you’ll stay on the outskirts while I get you the stones,” he kissed her hand. “But the sooner you have those trinkets, the better.”
She nodded then and let out a breath as she read the paper. “Should be easy enough, right?”
“Yes. I believe it won’t take you long to master it and when you do, I want to teach you how to create dark objects. Also for your protection.”
She looked at him and felt that something was off. “Why are you all about me needing to protect myself all of a sudden? Are you going somewhere? Are you leaving me?”
“No, darling, don’t you fret,” he smiled at her and kissed her. “I merely want you to be able to protect yourself in every way possible when we go and meet my siblings. No doubt what happened in Florence has gotten round to them, and it’s likely they won’t be happy about it. My brothers are stronger than I am so your pets won’t do much to them unless you get stronger ones.”
“That’s not without danger.”
“I know, hence I want to teach you how to make dark objects, and have you use your natural magic so you can protect yourself.”
“Ah, don’t worry about me, darling, I’m used to being the black sheep of the family! They’ll adore you!”