Byron assessed his opponent.
The svetocher was fragile. She barely made it to his chest. He dominated her by his sheer size and he was not one of the bulkier Dhampirs. His build was average. What he lacked in muscle, he made up in speed. It helped him maintain his record of maximum number of fights won during his final year of training.
The svetocher stood with her hands behinds her back. She was so still that she could be mistaken for a shadow. Fifty seconds, Byron estimated. He could defeat her and win this fight in fifty seconds. He did not understand why the Dhampir trainees were forced to fight with the svetochers. They had been proven to be inferior in strength and caliber; time and again.
Yet the rules were there for a reason. And if the rules stated that a Dhampir must fight a svetocher to complete his training; he would fight. Even if it meant a short fight of fifty seconds. It was embarrassing but it needed to be done.
Byron bowed his head to the svetocher accepting her challenge. She bowed back.
Byron readied himself for the sound of the clap. His move was simple. Sweep her legs from under her and grab her neck as she was about to fall. Byron shot off his feet even before the clap ended.
He barely had a chance to focus, when he found himself falling to the ground, the breath knocked out of him. He gasped to breathe. He landed with a thud on the ground and sucked in a sharp breath. The svetocher was leaning over him with her blade poised at his neck.
Fifteen seconds, the fight was over.
The svetocher had won.
The audience erupted in a deafening applause. The svetocher stepped back and returned to her still position. Byron struggled to scramble to his feet. Once he was standing, the svetocher bowed deeply to him and turned to walk away.
Byron looked around embarrassed and humiliated. How could this have happened?
"Wait!" He ran after her. She turned to face him. "Who are you?"
She unwrapped the mask she was wearing. Purple back curls framed her heart shaped face. She blinked at him from beneath long, black lashes which fringed her almond shaped, ocean—green eyes. Her bow shaped lips were just the perfect shade of red. She was so gorgeous that Byron felt a little breathless just looking at her.
"Iva Baker," she extended a delicate hand. "From the Sandstorm Svetocher Training Academy." Her voice was like pleasant music.
Byron licked his lips nervously and wiped his hand on his trousers before folding it around hers. Unlike her delicate looks, her handshake was solid and firm.
"Byron." He stammered a little. "Er… from… The Erlington School For Dhampirs?"
She smiled at him and he felt his heart flip. She flicked her hand in a wave and walked away.
"Another one bites the dust," Cade observed. Madeleine giggled beside him. "I have yet to come across a male who is not blown away by the way she looks."
"She is gorgeous, isn't she?" Madeleine sighed. "But what is the point of looking that good when you want to do nothing with it. She does not have a boyfriend, she will not date; it is like she wants to remain single and fighting all her life."
"You wait and watch," Cade waved at Iva to grab her attention. "She will be one of those svetochers who gets married to a vampire."
"You wish," Lauren commented from behind him. "Looks are not everything. You need to have a heart. And from what I know, Iva has a stone cold one."
"Well, since you don't," Iva said catching up to them. "I wish you all the luck in the world in finding a vampire who is just right for you." She added a forced smile to her wishes.
Lauren scoffed. "Who in their right mind would want to marry the daughter of Ryland Baker?" She remarked. Iva stilled. "Didn't he murder the vampire he was assigned to protect?" She did not wait for Iva to answer.
"No," Iva said to her retreating back. "He was suspected of murder. Suspected. Never proven."
"Let it go," Madeleine said softly. "You cannot keep defending that story forever."
Grant Robinson, the dean of Sandstorm Svetocher Training Academy, leaned back in his chair and stared out of the window. He tapped the corner of the envelope he was holding, against the armrest of his chair.
On days like this, he hated the vampires. He hated their absolute authority. And he hated that as a svetocher he was bound to obey them.
The hierarchy was pretty simple. Vampires at the top followed by the Dhampirs with the svetochers at the bottom. The vampires favored the Dhampirs because like the vampires, the Dhampirs also relied on the plasma from blood to stay alive.
The svetochers wanted to have nothing to do with feeding on blood. But they were equally fast and equally strong. Definitely as strong as the Dhampirs. Hadn't Iva Baker just proven that? Yet, Iva would never become the head of security for any vampire. She would always be a rank in the security detail. Only Dhampirs were made head of security. It was the unspoken rule.
Since Dhampirs and svetochers were a mix of vampire and human blood; they were both blessed with the same abilities of a vampire. Dhampirs claimed to have better strength, better agility and keener senses because they fed off blood. It was their word against the svetochers. Often the vampires believed the Dhampirs.
Both the dhampirs and svetochers were trained to fight. After the training they went through a selection process, during which they got picked by various vampire houses to serve in their security detail. Once enlisted with the security, the svetochers stood a chance to become bodyguards or security agents basis their capability. The more preferred openings were usually assigned to the dhampirs.
The old world had changed. Earlier it would be unheard of for a vampire to engage in any form of interaction with a svetocher. But as the years rolled by, vampires had not only befriended but also married svetochers. The difference between a dhampir and a svetocher was diminishing.
But as vampires were immortal, some of the ancient ones still looked down on the svetochers. He looked at the envelope he was holding. The Hastings were one of those. They were also one of the three powerful families that governed the vampires. The Malacasters were the ruling family; while the Hastings and the Wellingtons formed the opposition. There would be new elections at the end of this year and the Hastings were hoping to replace the Malacasters.
Amelie Hastings had requested the Sandstorm Academy to send one of their best graduates to serve Royce Stanley in the frozen mountains of Ahorra. She had sealed this request with the official crest of the Hastings and marked it with a drop of her own blood.
Grant Robinson watched Iva Baker walk down the cobbled path that led to the main halls. They wanted him to send his best, is it?
He wondered how Royce Stanley would react to Iva Baker.