My name is Aleron, and I was once human. Indeed, I still resemble a
human, but I feel, smell, move, and even taste like something completely
out of the ordinary, or should I say, extraordinary. I’m flesh and
blood but not much more. I have tremendous power and strength, far
beyond that of ordinary men. However, I didn’t always have these
qualities. They had an origin. And as time passed, they developed beyond
my hopes, far surpassing the abilities possessed by others of my kind. I
had a mentor- mother, who encouraged me and helped me explore the
boundaries of my supernatural abilities. Who else would be better to
teach a child about himself than the one who gave him life?
Camilia and Aknon welcomed me, the first of their two children, on the
seventh day of January in the year 1791 in the Greco-Roman city of
Alexandria, Egypt. My father held no significant political or religious
office, no positions of prestige, but he was an artisan, crafting
furniture out of anything he could get his skillful hands on.
Alexandria was growing at the time, and his art became known to many. My
mother and sister, Shani, devoted their lives to religion. Day after
day, night after night, they walked from home to home, village to
village, preaching the word of God. My father urged my mother to cease,
for the path of Christ wasn’t well received by many in Alexandria. My
mother’s family originated from the southern region of the
Carpathians. There the influence of Christ was prevalent. My father was
born in Egypt, where Islam was the dominant religion. My father defied
his faith and family to marry my mother. He brought her to Alexandria,
for he recognized their safety wouldn’t be assured if he chose
anywhere else in the region.
Despite my father’s numerous requests, my mother continued to do what
she knew to be right. My sister, albeit reluctant in the beginning,
gradually became as enthusiastic as my mother. My father gave up the
battle, for the conviction of my mother proved to be unflinching.
Life for me as a boy was anything but common. Virtually every piece of
gold my father earned and what was donated to my mother and sister was
spent on my education. It was recognized early on that I had an
unnaturally acute understanding of mathematics and science. My intuitive
understanding of trade led to an apprenticeship with a banker. However,
it was my love for history that led me to become an assistant to
historian Davila of Grotius.
After I had spent several months under the tutelage of Davila, he
recognized my yearning for knowledge of civilizations that were on the
verge of being forgotten. His confidence in me eventually grew, and I
was charged with assisting him with his research on the ancient Greek
philosopher Epicurus, the most important research Davila had been
commissioned for. My responsibilities included preparing Davila’s
presentation on Epicurus for our benefactor. This required much work,
which often led me to spend every waking moment at the library and
Davila’s office in al-Montaza.
On March 22, 1817, I left the library for a short walk to al-Montaza
Square. The night sky was clear, the air crisp, and the streets
seemingly lifeless. I remember that night well, because it was the first
time I felt Her presence. It was an unnerving feeling that became more
intense as I approached the square, prompting me to steal glances over
my shoulder a few times along the way. The moment I entered the square,
a dream state fell over me. I wasn’t asleep, but I wasn’t entirely
awake, either. My vision began to blur, and my breathing became quick
and shallow. Suddenly lethargic, I stopped and leaned against the
exterior wall of a building. I forced a deep breath and squeezed my eyes
shut. When I opened them, I saw what I thought was a specter of a woman.
I blinked and squinted to focus my vision, but it evaporated as quickly
as it had appeared.
I ascribed the vision to fatigue. I gave it no further thought until the
following evening, when I saw it again while working at my home. A
slight noise interrupted my concentration on Epicureanism, a Hellenistic
book I had been studying. I turned my head in the direction of the
clamor, and an abrupt chill withered the candle flame, extinguishing it.
I felt the hairs on my arms come to life, as the chill brushed past me.
I stood and walked in the direction of the disturbance, hoping to see
what I had felt. But I couldn’t. And before I knew it the flame had
rekindled, and I was standing in the middle of the room—alone.
I was convinced that I had been truly shaken by the unknown, and for
days, even weeks afterward I became more and more cautious. Day after
day I became more withdrawn from my friends. The incident in my home
consumed me entirely. I felt its presence, but I was not able to lay my
eyes on it. As time passed, I looked over my shoulder less and less.
Within a few weeks, the presence only lived in my dreams, and then I
finally relinquished my recollection its existence altogether.
On May fourteenth in Cairo, Egypt, I was attending the most prestigious
social ball of the year, the Promethium. The ball was held at the Cairo
Citadel just north of the Great Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.
Once a year, men of wealth and influence gathered to meet and socialize
with their peers. It was an effort to make new acquaintances that would
result in more wealth and influence. Kings, lords, landowners, and
politicians were always among the many businessmen present.
A sudden and unexplainable illness had befallen Davila, leaving him
bedridden, and I had come to the ball in his stead. I wasn’t a man of
wealth and had little to no influence, but as Davila’s personal
assistant, I was charged with tending to his affairs in his absence.
Though the men were more economically sound and politically connected
than I, I didn’t feel the slightest bit intimidated or awkward among
them. No one there knew my true social status, so often when I was
speaking to one or two, a small crowd would gather to hear what I was
sharing with the others. While in the midst of a conversation with a
rather large group, I felt that strange uneasiness that I had almost
forgotten. Though I continued participating in the conversation, I was
no longer as engrossed as I had been. I found myself looking at the
silhouette of a woman standing in the arch of the long corridor that led
to the adjacent rooms where the concubines awaited their duty.
The only women allowed inside were maids, servants, and concubines.
Concubines were confined to the adjacent rooms and never allowed in the
main hall during or immediately following an event because they were
often used for persuasive negotiations.
She was watching me, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. In my mind I
began to hear faint sounds and words spoken in a voice that wasn’t
mine. The men chattered around me, though I could no longer make out
their conversation. But I was unconcerned with it or with the men. My
thoughts were only of the woman. I turned my attention back to the group
for just an instant so that I could extricate myself from the
conversation. I searched for her through the corner of my eye, but I
could not find her. I quickly turned back, and she was gone.
I wondered if she had disappeared into the darkness of the corridor, and
I walked toward it in search of her. I entered the first room to the
left, where a naked lady was sitting in a chair, waiting. She watched me
as I took in the room and then closed the door. I then opened the next
door. A woman stood in the middle of the room. She motioned for me to
enter and take her. I closed that door as well. The unknown voice in my
head began calling out to me as I continued looking into the rooms in
When I came to the last room, I was certain she had to be inside, for no
doors remained and there was no other way out without passing the
guards, whose job was to prevent the women from leaving. I swung open
the door, but to my surprise, I saw no one. The room was empty. One of
the guards had been observing my curious behavior, and from the doorway
I shouted, “Where did the concubine go who was occupying this room?”
“No one has left the room, my lord,” he replied.
How strange, I thought, and reentered to investigate. A women’s
nightgown lay on the floor in a heap in the far corner of the room. I
reached down to pick it up. It was sheer and white with a few scarlet
drops resembling red wine smudged on it. Nothing else was in the room.
Suddenly the door slammed shut. Startled, I swiftly turned around, only
to see the hanging mirror on the inside of the door reflecting me
standing in the empty room. I sprang to the door and tried in vain to
open it, but it had somehow locked when it shut. I turned, hoping to
find something I could use to pry open the door. Instead, standing in
the middle of the room, was the woman I’d seen in the corridor. She
watched me, silently.
“Hello, my sweet,” I said.
“Hello, Aleron,” she replied in a sultry voice.
As soon as I heard her speak, I recognized hers as the voice that had
been in my head those many nights as I slept, and the voice speaking the
words I had heard moments before, while I was searching for her.
Strange. Women didn’t speak in this manner to men. Furthermore, how
did she know my name? I walked closer to her and found myself immersed
in her gaze. I couldn’t speak. I don’t know if it was her perfectly
proportioned body or her stunning brown eyes that seemed to change hues
reflecting the candlelight, but I was utterly consumed by the beautiful
goddess who stood before me. She had a petite stature, one I imagined an
Egyptian princess might possess. Her face seemed absolutely innocent,
accentuated by large, childlike eyes, even though I could sense that her
intentions were anything but. Her lips were the perfect complement to
her beautiful face. Her skin, an unblemished olive, seemed almost to
glow. She held her head completely motionless as she moved gracefully
across the room with perfect posture and preternatural precision, like a
feline fixed on her prey.
Her dress was of another time, and it was made from the finest and most
expensive silk that I’d ever seen. Clearly, this woman had known
wealth. She couldn’t be more than twenty years old, five years my
junior. She was perfect. Inhumanly perfect. Heavenly perfect. Instantly
I was drawn to her.
Come to me, my love. Don’t fear me. I’ve chosen you above all
others. Come to me, Aleron.
She was at least six feet from me, but in the blink of an eye, I was in
her tender yet powerful embrace. What happened next, I couldn’t quite
comprehend at the time. Before I knew it, we were soaring over the
building and then high above the neighboring rooftops. Closer and closer
to the moonlight we flew. I was frightened, yet her embrace made me feel
secure and calm, like the calmness a child must feel after he has been
separated from his mother but is reunited as she guides him to safety.
“Close your eyes,” she whispered and pulled me closer to her. I
didn’t know what was more chilling, the brisk night air or her
hardened body that felt as if it were made of stone. Nevertheless, I
drew closer as she guided us to our distant and obscure destination.
After some time, we began to slow and then to descend. I kept my eyes
closed for I was uncertain of what was to become of me. I wondered where
she was taking me and why I could not resist her. I finally gathered
enough strength to utter, “Put me down at once.” Before I knew it, I
was free-falling on what seemed a bottomless journey into darkness.
Screaming, I pleaded with God to spare my life, promising to do only His
bidding from that point on. The ground was drawing closer, and I could
see it plainly. Memories and thoughts of my family, friends, loved ones,
and the various women I knew flashed through my mind.
I felt I was going to die, until something abruptly stopped my fall. I
opened my eyes and saw her holding my leg from one arm as easily as if I
weighed nothing at all. I dangled upside down, suspended in the air. I
looked up at her and saw that she was amused by my cries and prayers for
forgiveness. Then, she dropped me! My heart almost burst with fright,
but before I was able to scream, my body hit the ground.
And with a smirk she inquired, “Why do you pray for God even though
God doesn’t care about you nor your prayers?”
Completely ignoring her question, I demanded, “What manner of being
are you? Why did you bring me here?”
“Because I chose you,” she replied. “You will be my king. You will
give me what he refuses to. You will be mine for all eternity.”
Instantly she had me in her powerful embrace again. I struggled this
time, even though I wanted to be near her. My desire for her was
“Calm yourself, my love. I know how you long for me. I know what you
desire from me.”
She was right. I did long for her. Her voice was soothing and
irresistible. I wanted whatever she brought me there for. I resisted no
more and was soon calm again, wanting only to hold her close, to embrace
and love her.
As I looked into her brown eyes I closed mine and began to kiss her
lips. Unnaturally cold they were, yet soothing and satisfying. It seemed
my body heat had no bearing on her freezing touch. But however cold, I
couldn’t stop, and I didn't want to stop. I felt as if I were in a
beautiful dream. I couldn’t remember a dream so vivid in its
interpretation of human senses and desires.
I forced my eyes open to capture the moment. To my surprise, she was
staring at me. The rich brown of her eyes became a metallic copper. I
tried feebly to continue the passionate kiss, but she slowly pulled her
lips away, revealing sharp, elongated canines.
Before I could gasp she punctured my neck, and I felt pain like nothing
I had ever felt before. I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I
began to feel tears gather and fall. I used my remaining strength to
push myself away from her grasp. Then she was on me again, and darkness
fell over me. I began to lose consciousness, and I could sense only
coldness and silence, save the beating of my heart. And just before the
eclipse of death, I heard her voice for the last time through my human
ears. “Be still, my love. You’re safe with me.”
Excerpted from "Aleron: Book One of Strigoi Series" by Kane. Copyright © 2012 by Kane. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.