Against the Coming Dark – Chapter One: Cressida, Part 1

The screams that echoed through the halls were boring.

Cressida Hawkins was tired of playing games. Her entire life had been spent playing one long, tiresome game. The endgame of all games, if you will. Her whims had been put aside to enact vengeance on behalf of her love. Now she was ready to see it to its fruition and devote her own life to living. Well, as much as a vampire could live, anyway. 

Was that even possible? 

Shrugging to herself, Cressida continued to pour through the old diary of Amelia Langston while some innocent was tortured elsewhere in the building. Their screams were piercing, their groans were deplorable, and all of it was simply annoying to her. 

Slamming her hands on the white marble table in front of her, Cressida pushed her chair back and stood up. Striding over to the door, she angrily slammed it shut. The simplistic nature of the other more youthful vampires grated on her nerves. Their actions were like flies buzzing around a horse, and she wished to just swat them away. They would never know what it was like to have a dedication to a higher cause. They were irritating and childish, but she was forced to rely on them for now.

Returning to her chair, she sat down and scooted in. The diary pages were dirty, worn, and full of memories. It was impossible for her to feel anything but longing for the old days when reading her sire’s words. Amelia had always been a leader, gifted in the ways of communication and discovery. She had surrounded herself with intelligent beings, manifesting stellar ideas, and creating new inventions that spurred on society – whether they knew it or not. Angry at society’s lack of recognition of Amelia, she clenched her fists and pounded her left one on the table.

“Savages…” She looked up at the ceiling. “One day they’ll know. I promise you that.”

Returning to the diary, Cressida found what she was looking for: the day she was made. Pushing strands of her straight, long chestnut brown hair behind her ear, she found herself leaning closer to the diary. The details were all from Amelia’s point of view, but she remembered it well: her death, her rebirth, the way Amelia had taken her in and shown her a world where she could be a righteous queen.

Amelia had also shown her a grand love. Prior to her death, Cressida had been a wife and mother, but her knowledge of love had been fledgling to say the least. Amelia had become her lover, showing her what it meant to experience a neverending connection of the soul, to be twin flames that moved as one. Together they had assailed wealthy vampire leaders in the name of making the world a better place. Amelia was desperate to teach the world that vampires were capable of more than bloodlust, and she was going to show it through business ventures and scientific invention rather than killing sprees. She chose Cressida to be by her side during all of it. 

Yet, there was always Gilles de Rais lurking in the background. 

Not literally, no. Literally, the vampire had been dead for many, many years. Centuries, even. However, his memory prowled around in Amelia’s mind, occupying the spaces that Cressida had wanted for herself, and Amelia had meant to see the ruin of so many because of it. He and Amelia had once been lovers, powerful and influential in wealthy circles. By day they cast their eyes on new ventures, and by night, they toasted with aristocracy. No matter what, they were at each other’s side, a fervent desire and lust to be together, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Antony and Cleopatra.

However, the vampire community had used de Rais, allowing him to be a patsy on their behalf to appease the Church. It was this misuse that Amelia had sought revenge for. It was this abuse that had brought about the SpellCasters.

Cressida never liked them. How could she? Their kind was brought about solely to destroy other vampires. Why the SpellCasters never turned on Amelia or herself, she couldn’t say. Nevertheless, she had always held them at arm’s length. It was purely a protective instinct to keep them close, so she could watch them. As long as they were bound to Amelia, they were bound to her, too.

She was also using them to afford her endgame: the destruction of Michael Hawkins.

Cressida’s pale green eyes were suddenly the embodiment of a chemical fire: bright, blazing, and dangerous. They were searing hot as she thought about vengeance. It was true, Michael was her son. Not that she loved him. After all, he was nothing compared to Amelia, and while she had only had Amelia for those brief months, her bond to Amelia was stronger than even motherhood. Her love before Amelia had been infantile and small. Amelia’s love was as if her soul had taken flight and never came back to land.

Amelia may have been her sire, but she had also been infinitely more.

Over a century had passed before Cressida had discovered the cause of her sire’s death. She had assumed a vampire hunter had found Amelia and dispatched her; it was the most obvious of conclusions. When she learned that it was Michael, her own human flesh and blood, she had fallen into a rage and fury that even the gods would have shied away from. 

Did it matter that Amelia had sired Michael? Of course it did, but it did so because it was both maddening and infuriating. He killed his own sire, the one he would have had a deep and binding relationship with. Somehow, he had turned on her, killed her, and left her remains there on that rooftop. No proper burial and no goodbyes; it was simply finality.

Lifting her hand, Cressida rested her cheek against her palm. She was tired. It had been so long since she had begun playing this game meant to rain vengeance down upon Michael’s head. First by luring Devlin Raines to that damned parking lot all those years ago, so he could witness the attack on Michael. Then by sending the SpellCasters after Michael and his lover. 

Ooh, that truly angered her. How dare he have a lover? How dare Michael enjoy some semblance of happiness when she herself had none? The sheer thought was enough to make Cressida cackle and laugh, tears in her eyes as she experienced a moment of mania, her head tilting back and a loud cry escaping her raspberry lips. Wiping away the few drops of saltiness that escaped down her bright pink cheeks, she took a few deep breaths and refocused her energy.

She was here to get a job done, not to wallow in self-pity and grief.


Published by Shanna Robillard

Wife to a northern man, mother to a four-legged beastie, and a lover of crystals and gems, vampires, fantasy, and creating stories! Shanna Robillard is the author of Beyond the Shadows, SpellCast from Darkness, and Against the Coming Dark (the Beyond the Shadows trilogy), as well as A Tale by Moonlight and The Seven Lives of May Levesque.

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