Read Katrina, The Beginning Online

Authors: Elizabeth Loraine

Tags: #romance, #vampire, #adventure, #fantasy, #magic, #young adult, #ebook, #teen, #elves, #series, #vampire series, #young adult series

Katrina, The Beginning (3 page)

Then Father’s voice boomed.
“Ride!”

As we forced our horses
into a gallop, my senses told me the men in the woods to the right
of us, outnumbered us by ten.

“How
far?
How far were our attackers from
us?
” I asked myself. A mile maybe less, I
detected.

“How far is the Palace?” I
yelled.

“Two miles!” Father shouted
back.

“We’ll never make it;’
they’re only a mile away,”

Thank goodness we had left
the wagons in the city with the servants, who would follow us
later.

Then I realized no common
robber would risk attacking such a large party. Despite all the
care and secrecy with which we had undertaken this journey, someone
must have alerted our assailants to our presence. We must have
spies amongst us; for only one kind of human would have the
audacity to attack us —the Volator—those whose sole purpose in life
was to hunt and kill vampires. That they had picked this time to
attack, was no accident, I thought.

I could see the Palace now,
less than a mile away. We might
just
make it.

Then out of the darkness of
the woods, I detected the distinct whistle of an arrow in
flight.

“Duck!” I
screamed.

We instinctively bent down
low as we urged our horses ahead. Another arrow came from the
right, and a horse squealed and fell, the guard flying off his
mount into the ditch.

Suddenly Father, Philepe,
and Gerhardt pulled their horses up, jumped off, and ran into the
forest.

“Get Katrina into the
palace,
now!
” yelled Gunter. We galloped
by as he dismounted to follow Father.

Suddenly Nulla tripped.
Only because of my strength and quick reaction, was I able to cling
to the saddle and avoid being thrown. I clung perilously, hanging
off the side of the saddle, as Nulla continued thundering down the
road.

“Open the gate!” Quinn
yelled. He reached out to help me back into the saddle almost
unseating himself.

I had trained my whole life
to be able to protect myself, and the time had come to do it. I
pulled my body up and back into the saddle, just as the gate opened
and we galloped through. Guards, swords drawn, pushed past us,
ready to aid Father. My heart was pounding as people rushed towards
us.

“Are you all right, my
Lady?” someone asked.

“Yes. Quinn, Thomas, are
you all right?”

“Yes, we’re fine. We’re
going back to help,” Quinn panted.

“No!” Thomas insisted.
“Katrina is your charge right now. You stay here; she must be
safe.”

I dismounted and noticed
blood dripping down Nulla’s leg, an arrow jutting from her
shoulder.

“Oh, no!” I cried,
“Nulla!”

Hearing my cry, Quinn ran
over to see what was wrong.

“She’ll be fine, Katrina,”
he assured me as he looked at the wound. The wound is not deep.
Stable boy. Here. Now! Take my Lady’s beloved mare to the stable
and see to her. Take great care and report back to me.”

The stable boy nodded, and
poor Nulla limped away with him.

As if he had read my mind
Quinn assured, “She’ll be fine. Your father will be fine. It’s the
cowards in the woods you should worry about. Your father and
Philepe will show them no mercy. The only problem we’ll have is to
endure the stories of bravery Gerhardt will tell.”

I rolled my eyes and we
both had a laugh. It was short lived however, because just then we
heard the gate swing open and Father’s party gallop through, the
dust from all the hoofs making it impossible for me to see for a
moment, then I heard my father shout. “Katrina! Where is my
daughter?”

“I’m here
Father.”

He was alive. And just as
we had predicted, out of the dust Gerhardt appeared. “Did you miss
me?”

Philepe, Gunter, and Simon
were also unhurt but we’d lost four guards, two from our garrison,
and two from the palace detail.

“What of the Volator,
Father?”

Father had a shocked look
on his face. “You knew?”

“Who else would it
be?”

“Five got away, but
twenty-five or so were not so lucky. Unfortunately I don’t think
their leader was amongst them. But I assure you he’s not far, and
we’ll find him. No one is safe until we root out the traitor who
has revealed us. Now you get cleaned up and rest, because we must
report to the High Regent.”

The thought of a traitor
living among us sent shivers up my spine.

A lovely girl named
Gretchen showed me to my quarters. Several young ladies would be
sharing this large common area surrounded by bedrooms. Tall leaded
glass windows on each side of the fireplace filled the room with
light and gave the gold, overstuffed chairs and sofa a soft glow. A
round table with six chairs sat in the corner. From the high,
dark-beamed ceiling hung two iron candle chandeliers. My bedroom
was the second door to the left, and in it was a large bed with
wooden posts, lush green velvet bedding, and an eiderdown so thick
they might not be able to find me in the morning.

I heard the door to the
common room open, my curiosity revived me enough to rise to meet
the new arrival. She was stunning. Glossy, ebony hair drifted over
her shoulders nearly to her waist. Her large eyes were brown and
her skin was the color of warm sand.

“Hello, I’m Katrina Von
Dracek.”

“How nice for you,” she
said in a bored voice without looking in my direction.

“I can
see this is going to a long week
,” I thought to
myself.

“I’m Rosalinda
DiPalicio.”

“How nice for you too,” I
turned to walk away.

“All right, that was rude,
forgive me. It’s was just quite an adventure to get here. I’m
exhausted, I’m starving, and I smell like a horse.”

The tension broken, we
laughed. I knew just how she felt.

“Let’s start again. I’m
Rosalinda DiPalicio, but you may call me Rosa.”

“I am pleased to meet you,
Rosa. I’m Katrina Von Dracek, and you may call me Kat.”

“There were some delicious
morsels standing guard outside. I don’t suppose we’re allowed to
feed on anything or anyone we want to?” Rosa grinned and licked her
full lips.

“No, I don’t think
so.”

Again, the door opened and
Gretchen came in carrying a large case. She was followed by a girl
of medium height. Her blonde hair was pulled back away from a
lovely heart-shaped face, which featured a smile that seemed to
light her from within.

“Hello. I’m Eleanor
Flanery. We just arrived from England.”

“I’m Rosalinda DiPalicio,
and this is Katrina Von Dracek. You may call us Rosa and
Kat.”

“I’m glad to meet you,
Rosa, Kat. Please call me El.”

“And call me Letta, short
for Arletta,” said the girl stepping out from behind
Eleanor.

Arletta Valdesio had
traveled from Spain. She had olive skin and dark brown hair pulled
back and up in ringlets secured with a beautiful jeweled comb.
Instead of the brown I was expecting, coneflower blue eyes met mine
as we were introduced.

Gretchen showed the
newcomers to their rooms.

“Thank you, Gretchen. Has a
bath been prepared?” Letta asked while stripping off her
gloves.

“Yes, we could all use a
bath,” Rosa suggested, sniffing.

“I’ll see to it at once,”
Gretchen answered, “and then I’ll bring you some
luncheon.”

“Oh, glorious,” El cried.
“I’m starving,”

“I am, too,” I realized
then, I was hungry also.

Eleanor flopped down on one
of the chairs.

“At least I survived the
crossing. I really hate sailing. How were your
journeys?”

“We were attacked in the
forest, about two miles from the front gate,” I informed
them.

“Really? How frightening!”
Eleanor’s face showed her concern. “Was anyone in your party
hurt?”

“We lost two guards, as did
the palace, and, Nulla, my beautiful mare took an arrow in the
shoulder, but she’s going to be fine. Our forces defended and
pursued them; Father thought only four or five of our attackers
escaped.”

“Who, was it? Why would
anyone do such a thing?” asked El.

“There are many who dislike
our kind and despise our way of life,” Rosa retorted sharply, “They
seek to end our existence and take our lands, but they’re
fools.”

“It is true, men often seek
to kill that which he does not understand, and it seems, as a
species, man is always fighting someone,” I added.

“Makes
my
trip seem pretty boring.” Letta’s eyes widened.
“Although, I did get to stop in Paris to buy some new dresses. I’ll
show them to you as soon as my things arrive.”

I wished I could be more
excited about getting some new clothing. But most of the beautiful
dresses Father had ordered made for me were still unworn, since we
rarely had guests, and there was no reason for formal dressing.
Personally, I preferred the simple, comfortable sheaths and
leggings more suited to my training, to the constricting dress of a
gentlewoman.

“Ah, Gretchen, thank
goodness,” Rosa sighed in delight.

We all followed Gretchen
across the room, eyeing the tray of treats she had brought us for
lunch, as she it on the table. She had also brought a pitcher full
of Crimson to strengthen and refresh us and news the baths would be
ready for us by the time we had finished eating. We practically
inhaled the food and the Crimson. Then, dressing gowns in tow, we
ambled off to our baths and looked forward to resting before
dinner. I had hoped to see Quinn waiting outside the door, but he
was nowhere to be seen. I’d have to seek him out later.

“If you’re looking for your
Watchers, they are gathered down the hall, deciding watch shifts
and duties amongst them,” Gretchen informed me.

“Thank you Gretchen.” I
smiled.

After the layers of grime
were removed—which took a lot of scrubbing I might add—I put on my
dressing gown and a robe Gretchen brought in, ran a comb through my
hair, and slowly walked back toward my room. There, leaning against
the wall, was the silhouette of someone I knew well.

“Quinn!” I called, so happy
to see him.

He looked up and smiled.
Without even thinking, I ran over, threw my arms around him, and
drew him into a close embrace.

“Oh, Quinn, I missed
you.”

Quinn stiffened, I’m sure
my hug was quite a shock. He had never seen me react to his short
absence quite like this before. He grasped my shoulders and pushed
me away slightly.

“I should stay away more
often,” he laughed. “I
do
have duties, you
know.” He feigned a serious look, and then he smiled.

“Is not my well being one
of those duties?” I asked peevishly as I folded my arms and turned
my back to him.

“Of course it
is.”

He pulled me back towards
him, his arms now crossing around my waist.

“My most important duty,”
he whispered in my ear.

His warm breath on my neck
made my knees weaken. My pulse raced; more than anything else in
the world I wanted him to kiss me.

“Well, well. What have we
here?” we heard from behind us.

Quinn pushed me away so
quickly I almost fell. When I turned around I saw a man I’d never
seen before.

“Lady Katrina Von Dracek,
this is Joseph. He is Watcher for Lady DiPalicio and will be taking
the first watch this evening. I will, however, be accompanying you
to dinner, and if you wish beforehand, to the stables to see
Nulla.”

“Thank you Quinn. I would
like that and I am pleased to meet you, Joseph.”

“The pleasure is all mine”
he returned.

I hurried past as fast as I
could. Without looking at Joseph, who opened the door, I went in
and straight to my room. As I rushed through the door, I was
happily surprised to see Sarah laying out my clothes.

“Oh, Sarah, thank
goodness.”

She looked up. “Well at
least you’re clean. But we’ll have to do something with this hair,”
she had walked over, as was now lifting wet strands and shaking her
head in disgust.

“I brought those oils your
father gave you last summer. You remember he brought them back from
the Far East?”

“I do remember,” I replied.
“He had to join with Philepe and Demitrie to go to the aid of
Gomon, whose clan was in a bitter fight with a wild
enemy.”

Vampires that are made,
rather than born like us, when first created are known as
fledglings. They can be unstable, even more so if they were
unstable in their human form, or once made they had been left to
fend for themselves without the benefit of guidance and training.
This is why the making of new vampires is mostly forbidden, except
in rare circumstances. As it happened, when our group arrived to
help the Gomon, they were able to seek out and kill the made wild
creatures by beheading, the only way to ensure the creatures stayed
dead, and then the fledglings’ remains were burned just for good
measure.

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