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 Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress

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Zeria Iiyasei
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PostSubject: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:37 pm

So for a scholarship, I'm entering a writing contest that is due in March. It's a fantasy short story contest. I'm working on my entry, and I'd be very appreciative if anyone could offer me feedback on what I have written and what I continually add...
-Also, my apologies for the horrid formatting. Microsoft Word didn't copy paste well here.



Midnight Embrace


Another dreary night in Budapest. Another masquerade ball that she was obligated to attend. Another event she would stand alone and likely not enjoy herself. Daenaira sighed as she stood off to the side of the ballroom, surveying all with her majestic green eyes. She watched the moving bodies of those in the room as they danced, hands clasped in front of her as a proper lady should. A loose strand of golden brown hair tickled at her nose and she lifted a pale, slender hand to brush it away, tucking it behind her ear.
The gazes of people throughout the ballroom seemed to drift over her once, before going away to other things. They knew she wouldn’t have showed up if not for her title and obligation to be there. She would only dance with someone once, then claim they were not skilled enough for her. To them, she was stuck up. Though perhaps it was because she stuck out like a sore thumb compared to all of the other women in the room. They wore bright colored dresses with elaborate designs and intricate masks with big feathers or beads. She was garbed in a flowing black ballgown with crimson colored trim and her mask was very simple. Black with small beading and ribbon to decorate it so it was beautiful, and matched her dress to near perfection, but not overly elaborate.
She lifted a glass of red wine to her ruby colored lips and took a sip. It was good, but not as good as the wine she had in the cellar back at her manse. As she stood there, watching the writhing sea of bright colored fabric and masked faces, she couldn’t help but wish she were out there as well; the black rose amongst that sea of color…
“It’s futile…there is no one…”
No one who would be able to dance with her and handle it. No one who would tolerate her need to be expressive in each and every movement. She sighed and began to walk. She wanted a new spot to stand in. One that people would perhaps notice her even less. She found her spot in between two pillars, just between two different crowds of people talking and laughing over the latest gossip. In silence, she remained there, taking the final sip of her wine, before handing off the glass, and grabbing another from the tray of a masked waiter. Might as well drink if she wasn’t going to be dancing.
Meanwhile, there was a new arrival into the ballroom who seemed to captivate the minds of those he passed. A tall, daring man dressed impeccably in an elegant black suit with coattails and a dark red rose pinned to his chest. Long, pale blond hair was tied back by a leather cord and a black ribbon to match the rest of his outfit. A white mask engraved with swirling gold designs contrasted the black of his suit, adding a wonderful flare to his appearance. His emerald green gaze drifted across the room, flitting over all those dancing in the center, before scanning the areas to the sides, as if searching for a partner. Many pairs of eyes were on him as well, mostly those of women enchanted by the mere sight of him. Yet none of them seemed to draw his attention. He sighed. The women here were just like all of the others he’d met. Drab and boring. Like clones of each other.
He had begun to look for one that at least was pretty enough to amuse him for the next several months, but halted his gaze on one woman. She’d been hidden from him moments ago when his gaze had scanned over that area, but now that he could see her, he completely forgot about everyone else in the room. He could only stand in awe of her beauty and the air of elegance that seemed to radiate from her, keeping people at a slight distance. Her expression showed that she was lost in thought, her wonderfully green eyes focused on one spot in the crowd. He reached over as a waiter passed by, grabbing a glass of champagne, and continued to watch her. A set of female whispers next to him split his attention in half, allowing him to listen to them, yet continue to watch the maiden across the dance floor.
“Is that her? The countess?”
“Yes. That’s definitely her. She never dances at these events. I don’t even know why she’s here.”
“Obligation, of course. Her reputation would be ruined should she not attend.”
“Must be.”
“Why does she not dance, anyway?”
“They say that she dances with someone once, and if they aren’t to her liking, she refuses to dance with them ever again.”
“Surely there are enough men here that she could dance at least once during the night?”
“No. She’s danced with every man here. She refuses them all. Duke Juan Lerosa asked her just earlier and she said ‘Absolutely not. You cannot handle my dancing, therefore you are never to be my partner again’. How rude!”
“She must believe that she is better than all of us just because she is a countess.”
“Probably.”
A light smile curled to Jericho’s lips.
So she wants a partner who can handle her, hmm? I might have to try and pique her interest before this night ends. Besides, it should be a sin that such a gorgeous young woman should stand alone.
He followed her gaze to see what it was she was looking at, and smirked. She was watching the couple on the floor that seemed to dance the best and had the most attention. His smirk grew wider. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind now that she wanted to dance. She wanted to show the popular couple what real dancing was. It was easily read by her eyes and body posture as she bristled and fidgeted almost irritably. He watched her for quite some time, before taking a sip of his champagne, and crossing to go meet her…
Daenaira watched Baron and Baroness LeVille glide across the floor. To any other’s eyes, they would seem like perfect dancers. But to her…they were awful. They moved sloppily and let their posture drop too much. And Baron LeVille was just narrowly missing stepping on his wife’s feet. She scoffed, taking another large sip of her wine.
Pathetic. Horrid posture. Horrid frame. They will never be good dancers.
Just as she was becoming lost once more in the dance, a rich and velvety voice seemed to crawl across her skin; the soft, barely notable French accent sending a shiver racing the length of her spine.
“Why is it that such a beautiful creature stands alone this night?”
She turned to see who had interrupted her, and paused. This was a new face. Her heart jumped. Perhaps he would dance with her. She cleared her throat and gave a polite curtsy, staring out into the crowd of dancers still.
“Because I’ve no partner.”
“You attend alone?”
She nodded.
“A shame indeed. Your beauty is far more worthy than those here with partners who just show them off in falsity.”
She shook her head.
“It makes no difference. None of them dance well enough to suit my tastes.”
Jericho could only grin now as he moved closer to the beautiful countess.
“Well then. May I have the honor of a dance with such an enchanting flower?”
The sudden blush on her pale cheeks attested to the fact that he had finally broken through to the feminine inner self, getting past some of the tough exterior this woman clearly put on to be strong.
“I will warn you, sir. I am no dainty flower to be paraded about…but yes, I shall grant you a dance.”
A collective gasp arose from the crowd to see Jericho and the countess together. He smiled, satisfied at the result. They clearly were not used to seeing this woman out on the dance floor. The mass of colorfully clothed people parted like the red sea, allowing them dark couple to take the center. Baron and Baroness LeVille were there as well, glaring at the beautiful countess Jericho held in his arms. He smiled charmingly at her, and assumed position.
“Are you ready, my lady?”
“Ready as I will ever be.”
The music called out with powerful strokes. It was…the Russian Soldier’s Dance. An emotional and fast moving piece with a lot of energy to it. He saw the light in the woman’s eyes begin to burn. Clearly this was a song she liked. They took their first steps together and Jericho thought he was in heaven. She moved with poise and purpose, each and every movement perfect. Without flaw. She flowed gracefully through the slower part like a beautiful, carefree young maiden. Her footsteps were soft as her body seemed to glide across the dance floor, held within his strong arms. Then it picked up again, and her movements became powerful and expressive to match his. He felt the heat from her body as if it were a roaring fire hitting the pique of its burn. Those in the crowd were stunned by the intensity of the couple in the middle of the dance floor. They had clearly never seen the woman dance like this. Nor seen a man dance with so much emotion. Baron and Baroness Deville’s moves looked sloppy compared to theirs…
Daenaira’s mind raced. He was perfect. Not a flaw to him. Her perfect dance partner. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, her cheeks became flushed, and she put every last ounce of intense emotion into her movements as they twirled and spun on the dance floor. The final notes. The mysterious gentleman twirled and moved around her gracefully as she responded with an equal amount of passion. To her…this dance was something more. She could only explain it as if their bodies were making love. It all built into a crescendo, spinning with rapid turns and intricate foot patterns, until the last note called out, and they froze, bodies just barely touching. She breathed rapidly, and looked at the man who had been her partner. She desperately wished to see beyond the stunning white mask. To see the man who she had been searching for all her life…
Jericho finally pulled away from her as the music drew to a close, bowing low, then offering her his arm and escorting her from the dance floor. She was still flustered it seemed. Then again, she had put so much passion…so much emotion…all into her dance moves. He guided her away from the crowds of people who were now gossiping and discussing what had just happened with insane enthusiasm, taking her to the second floor, and ultimately, the unoccupied balcony.

~~

Once on the balcony alone with the gentleman who’d escorted her, Daenaira finally allowed her proper form to fall away, and let out a joyous laugh. She had finally found him! Her perfect partner! And to think, she had almost given up entirely! She spun around once, sighing and leaning against the railing of the balcony.
“That was wonderful, sir! I have never enjoyed a more amazing dance than the one we shared tonight”
Jericho smiled as the woman as she laughed and spun happily. He was glad that she’d had such a ‘wonderful’ time of it, as she’d put it. He took her hand, bowing low, his lips just grazing the soft flesh.
“It was my pleasure, Madame.”
He rose to his feet, having yet to surrender her hand.
“But it would be an even greater pleasure if you would give me your name.”
The woman answered without question, and his heart could have skipped a beat, if he actually had possessed a heartbeat.
“I am Countess Daenaira Ogruskeya. Might I have the pleasure of knowing yours?”
He didn’t even have to think. He just blurted it out for her.
“My name is Jericho Chevigne. I am a French lord, hailing from Paris.”
“You’ve traveled so far!”
“Indeed,” he murmured. “But I am finding that the distance was very much worth the chance to meet you, Countess.”
Daenaira felt her cheeks become flushed.
“Please, sir, you will embarrass me. Just call me Daenaira.”
Jericho grinned, kneeling and placing another gentle kiss to her hand. He had to keep from chuckling as he felt her shiver. He rose to his feet once more.
“As you wish, Daenaira, however I in turn expect you to simply call me Jericho.”
Daenaira gave another of her polite curtsies to him, smiling. She could not understand what it was, but she felt inexplicably enchanted by this man. This Jericho Chevigne who had swept in with his stunning dance skills and charming smile. An hour’s time passed between them of nothing but talking about their lives, until finally Jericho bowed at the waist to her, thanking her for the wonderful evening and asking to be excused. Daenaira frowned. She didn’t want him to go. She yearned to spend more hours with him. To be at his side until the ball was over.
“I must admit…I don’t want you to go…”
“Ah, sweet Daenaira, but I must. There is much I must do before this night ends”
Truth be told, his hunger had crawled back. He’d fed just before his arrival to the masquerade, but it had been a light snack compared to the feeding he now needed. Such was the life of a vampire. And he felt an ache for this woman. One he had not felt since the days of his youth, though he wished he did not have it. Not for such a beautifully wonderful creature such as this woman. He turned away from her, afraid that he would do something foolish.
Daenaira’s heart skipped a beat and she reached for him without thinking, clinging to his coat.
“Please wait…”
As Jericho turned to her, she swallowed hard, her eyes filled with a desire to know him. She did not want to let this man slip away from her.
“Please…at least let me know your face.”
Jericho’s ache increased the moment he gazed into those emerald eyes of hers. He could deny her nothing, but could only give it at a price.
“Then you let me yours. A fair trade, oui?”
Daenaira nodded in understanding, murmuring her agreement. Jericho took her hands in his, lifting them to his mask.
“Go ahead. Take it off of me”
Trembling, Daenaira took hold of the edges of his mask with a nervous, but gentle carefulness. She did not want to ruin such a well made piece. She lifted it away and she could have sworn that her heart completely stopped for a split second. His skin was more pallid than even her own, but it was flawless. Perfect. He was as handsome as she had imagined and then some. But she didn’t have long to look, for he was reaching for her mask now. She felt her breath come in shallow gasps as his cool touch brushed her skin and he began to lift the mask away as she had done for him.
Tenderly he removed her mask. And instantly he wished he hadn’t, for one glance was all it took to make him lose himself in her. She was more than beautiful. It was as though she had been hand carved by the angels themselves. Her lashes were long and dark, shielding her eyes and giving her an almost sultry appearance every time she looked downwards. There wasn’t a single blemish to her soft, pale skin. And those ruby lips were so tempting he had to stop himself from leaning towards her. He was breathless.
“Daenaira…you are beautiful…”
She began to blush and turned her head away. He instinctively reached and placed a hand under her chin, tilting her head back for him to see.
“I am no such thing, Jericho…please do not attempt to flatter me like that…”
“I do not lie, Daenaira. I would not lie to you about this. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life”
And he’d lived a very long life.
“I have never received a compliment like that before”
“Then the people around you are blind, cherie, because I cannot take my eyes off of you”
He folded her into his embrace. He could hear her heartbeat and the flow of blood in her veins. It called to him, reminding him of why he was here. Why he had even come to this place. She smelled of fresh lilacs on a warm spring day just after a soft rain. He leaned closer, their lips just scant inches apart.
“Permit me…no…order me to kiss you, Daenaira…”
Her response came as a surprise to him, albeit a very wonderful surprise.
“Kiss me, Jericho Chevigne. This I command of you”
“As you wish, my sweet Daenaira”

~~

His lips touched hers and their bodies came alive like wildfire. Her lips were soft and compliant and he found himself getting lost in her, unable to control himself. He deepened the kiss, their tongues dancing a seductive tango as her arms snaked around him and he let her body press against his. She moaned softly as he trailed down her throat, stopping just above the carotid artery. Already she was enthralled by him, so he had no need to control her further. His canines lengthened, puncturing the tender flesh. She gasped at the momentary pain, but he knew desire swamped her the moment he began to drink. Her blood lit a dangerous fire in him. It was rich, coated with some kind of wonderfully addicting taste he found himself wanting more than anything.
“Jericho…”
Her weakening voice was what brought him to his senses finally, and he closed the wounds, kissing her once more as she swayed in his embrace.
“Rest easy, my sweet. You will remember nothing more than that we shared a wonderfully passionate kiss here, then you felt tired and wished to return home”
He felt inexplicably guilty for compelling her, but knew it was necessary in order to protect himself. There were groups who would stake him in the heart should they find out of his existence. They each placed their masks back on, before Jericho led Daenaira from the building and out to her waiting carriage. He joined her inside of it, as was his duty to ensure that such a beautiful woman made it home safely after she had been his blood donor. Blood donor. He found he had a dislike for using that term when referring to the countess.
Daenaira barely comprehended the happenings around her. She could only recall the desire to go home and sleep after she had shared such a delightful kiss with Jericho Chevigne. It pleased her further to know he was sitting next to her, his body warming hers. Time seemed to move as a blur, and she found herself in her sleeping quarters, being laid gently upon her bed. Her servants came into the room, trying to shoo Jericho out. She protested, keeping a grip on his hand.
“Promise…you’ll see me again…Jericho Chevigne…”
Her plea struck deep to his heart. She wanted to see him again. Truth be told, he wanted nothing more than to spend every last waking minute with her. But dawn would come quickly, and he would need to seek shelter from the dangers of the sun. He went down on one knee, kissing her hand tenderly.
“I promise, Countess Daenaira Ogruskeya. I swear it to you on my life”
What little thing it is worth.
Daenaira smiled weakly, letting go.
“I’ll hold you…to that promise…”
“I am sure you will, milady. I am sure you will”
And just like that, he was gone. Daenaira allowed the maids to change her into her sleepwear, then drifted into pleasant dreams of what she hoped were the days to come…

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Last edited by Zeria Iiyasei on Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:05 pm; edited 3 times in total
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killthekon

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PostSubject: Re: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:02 am

This story is nothing short of brilliant Zeria. you set the scene, introduced the characters and their qualities well.

However, if I am to critique this application properly I will have to see the prompt for myself. I need to know the type of wording they used in the prompt to see if you are on the right track here.

Still, this is good. REALLY good. It looks like you have everything nailed. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:11 am

There is no prompt. It just says a short story under 17000 words that is sci-fi or fantasy. That's it.

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PostSubject: Re: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:25 am

Ah, I see...they are being very broad hmm....

well basically what they will look for is grammar (and I see no errors so far), Format (but that can't be helped here), and basically the rhetoric you use (again, which is impressive)

Zeria, I honestly don't think you have anything to worry about. You are an excellent writer and this is great. If you do make changes, I will read it as many times as you want. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:42 pm

Editing has been done and another section has been added. Please do tell me if something is off or needs fixing. Thank you.

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PostSubject: Re: Midnight Embrace - A short story in progress   Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:10 pm

Note to all, another section has been added on. Although it is short, it is still a powerful moment that I am looking to expand on if anyone has ideas to offer. =]

Thanks,
~Zeria~

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