Pain. I opened my eyes and became aware of a stabbing pain in my arm. I looked down. I had landed on Tawny’s stupid antique letter opener. I yanked it out, ignoring the spurt of blood that came with it, and scouted the room. The twins were long gone. And the room looked like a bomb had hit it. Tawny was unconscious, a line of blood down the side of her face. I stepped through the wreckage to get to her. I picked her up and carried her away from the debris. She needed to come back somewhere she couldn’t do herself any damage. Nate and Trace were nowhere to be found but my guess is the lovebirds pissed off as soon as Morrigan showed up. How had I gotten here? I mean, what did I do wrong? One minute I’d been the crown prince of Persia, the next I was a vampire in the 21st century.
“Prince Asad, please slow down, you’re going to hurt yourself” my minder said.
I always liked making fun of her. Her name was Martha and she came from an insignificant little town in Northern England. What little Persian she knew she spoke terribly so she always spoke to me in English. From the age of four to fourteen I always found it hilarious to wind her up by pretending I didn’t speak English. Martha was a curvy girl with a thin face and the palace cook’s assistant Mahmoud thought she was gorgeous.
“Prince Asad, please! Don’t make me speak Persian!” she said as she tried to keep up with me.
I’d always been a fast runner, even as a human, and one of my favourite games had been “See How Long Martha Will Chase You For”. It was roughly half an hour. Martha would chase me for as long as her legs could carry her, that’s what she was paid to do. Mother had always disapproved of Martha; she never understood why Father employed a non-Persian to raise their child. Father said it was because a wise king knew about different cultures but he didn’t know much about cultures outside of Persia. I just think he had the hots for Martha.
The irritated Northern woman chased me down the same dusty market street she always chased me down. I had become a regular occurrence at the market and the vendors waved to me instead of feeling the need to drop whatever they were doing and kneel before me. The colours in the market never changed; rich purples, deep reds, vibrant oranges and yellows. There was fruit, clothes, material, jewellery, weapons, and spices, everything you could possibly need. This was the part of Persia that the crown prince was allowed to see. The slums and areas of poverty ceased to exist until I was sixteen.
The eve of my seventeenth birthday was the night I met Cassadee. She was half-Persian and the most interesting girl I’d ever met. Her hair was pitch black and her skin was very tanned. She had hips, as Mother had described them, “built for child-bearing”. She told me that the Persian in her came from her father and her mother was Egyptian though she had spent the first ten years of her life in Dublin. That night was one of the weirdest nights of my life. The two of us had ended up in my room. I felt a kiss colder than death on my chest and I blacked out.
Two years had passed and I’d had countless amounts of these weird incidents with Cassadee. I pulled my hair behind my head and fastened it into a small ponytail. I’d get it cut soon but I had to see Father. He was dying and I was heir to the throne. I slipped on the red satin jerkin Father had bought me almost a year ago and fastened the gold clasps. Father was an old man and it amazed me that he hadn’t already fallen off his perch. His dying wish was for me to be coronated as soon as possible because he didn’t want Persia to be without a leader. What a jackass.
Cassadee stood laughing in front of me. Pain raced through me. The whore had poisoned me. All those weird incidents, she just said I was tired or that I’d gotten too much sun but she’d been poisoning me and I’d let her get away with it.
“Let me guess, Egypt wants to take Persia” I spat, in Persian of course.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Asad. You were my plaything and now I’m bored of you” she said. It was the first time I’d heard her speak Persian and it cut through the air like a knife.
“Did you poison my father too?”
“I haven’t poisoned you. And your father had a problem with his heart.” She sighed and put a hand on her hip, “Asad, stop fighting it. Just hurry up and die”.
“Never” I growled and blacked out.
I woke up in Kyoto a few days later with a girl who looked vaguely like Cassadee. She had a more welcoming face, though. She told me her name was Alexia and she was Cassadee’s sister. She told me what I’d become and what I was going to have to do to survive. She gave me the name Ayumu because I couldn’t remember my real name. And for some reason I never asked her why I could speak such great Persian.