Home > Darius (Black Dagger Brotherhood #0)

Darius (Black Dagger Brotherhood #0)
Author: J.R. Ward



My name is Darius, son of Marklon. I was sired of the Black Dagger Brother Tehrror, and born in 1618 by the human calendar. I died in 2005.

If I had a gravestone, those would be the sum of my identity descriptors and the numerical fences that corralled the events of my life upon the earth. They are at once the most essential details of my autobiography, but also the least significant things you will know of me.

Let me share with you the most important sentences:

When I first met her, I did not know she would be my one true love.

When I fell in love with her, I did not know she would bear me a daughter on her deathbed.

When I died, more than twenty years later, it would be while trying to save the life of our young. On a rainy night. When the tears I could no longer shed fell from a disinterested Caldwell sky.

Those are the real details of me.

As a keeper of diaries, I wrote down the events of my life in a compulsive fashion, even though I rarely reread them and was well aware the Chosen in the Temple of the Sequestered Scribes were doing a far better job at the recording. Looking back on it, I wonder whether I’d sensed my destiny all along and that was why I took to ink and page. In marking my present, it’s possible I was trying to take some control over the future that I could feel coming for me, the brief sunshine that was followed by so many years of dark suffering looming just under the surface of my conscious mind.

But if that was the case, how stupid. Penmanship, no matter how fine, has never been as persuasive as prayer. And prayer is no guarantee of happiness or salvation, either.

Given my grieving, you might ask if I would have chosen a different path, if I’d have denied or avoided my destiny if I could have. It would be more courageous, more admirable, to clothe myself in the armor of “absolutely not.” But that’s just an easy virtue signal—as well as a claim no one can refute because nobody else is in my head, in my heart.

The honest truth is more nuanced, more complex. In the moment my path collided with my female’s, before everything started, yes, I probably would have taken another route: If the second before we met, I would have known what I had to face, I’d have balked.

There. I admit it.

That’s just the survival instinct at work, though. Nothing more than a reflex to avoid pain that fires in a nanosecond and is untempered by higher purpose and reasoning.

It is a truth, but not the truth.

One night after I first met my female, I knew over Campbell’s tomato soup and Wonder Bread toast that I would never leave her. And even after she told me to go… and then after she died in my arms… I never left her. I’ve taken my beloved everywhere with me, hoping that through my eyes she could see the beautiful thing we made together and know our daughter is safe.

I’m a male who keeps his promises.

In my female’s last moments, when she knew she wasn’t going to survive, she asked me to watch over our daughter. She made me swear that I would guard our young. I would have done that anyway, but as it was the one and only way I was able to honor my mate, that vow became my connection to her and my reason for living.

I stopped writing anything down about my life after that night. But there were other recordings, photographs now, no longer my words, that documented my time. I amassed a collection of hundreds of pictures of our young, and I framed them so that those moments I could not be by our daughter’s side in person were preserved forever for my heart. From a distance, from the oculus of a camera lens held by another, I witnessed her maturation. Raised as an orphan, she was never alone, my loyal butler doing the daylight shift and I, myself, on the nighttime watch. Wherever she was, in the orphanage or out on her own in the world, we were never far from her.

She could not know the truth of who her father was, however. Half-breeds are rare, and although being a human is not safe, existing as a vampire is downright dangerous. Further, I always had the hope that her mahmen’s genes would prevail and she would never go through the transition.

That was another prayer not answered.

As our daughter’s time for the change approached, after years of mere worrying, I became terrified. To see any vampire through their first feeding is perilous. To get a female with mixed blood through it? There was only one male she could take from and have her best chance at surviving.

Only one purebred vampire left on the planet.

Except it was like turning her over to an undertaker. Who kept his business going with black daggers and throwing stars.

It was at this critical juncture in her life that death came for me in the form of a car bomb, leaving our daughter not just undefended, but on the precipice of a life-altering, mortally dangerous change she didn’t even know was on her horizon.

So of course, I had to find a way to come back.

When my time to enter the Fade came, I struck a bargain with the Scribe Virgin, the mahmen of the species, and I returned to the earth in a different form for a different life… with the same purpose.

And so it has been, for these most recent years, me peering through new eyes at the beautiful proof that I had known love.

Unlike my destiny, our daughter has had much joy: a King who loves her, a son to call her own, a protected home, and an extended family. Everything I could have wished for her has come true, and if the cost of such a fate required my sacrifices?

One does everything for one’s children.

Yet as time has changed her, it has also changed me. The foundational role of a parent is to usher their progeny into adulthood, to make sure they are set and settled, prepared to carry the torch forward past the lives of those who created them. Of late, I am beginning to think my purpose for her has been served—and the more this feels true, the more the pain of who I miss, who I am separated from, who I long for, is growing intolerable.

With the same compulsion I previously focused on my present, I now find myself returning to the past and reliving the origin story of our daughter. But it’s not about the young.

It’s about my female. Myself.

Through the course of my recollecting, I am compelled to get each and every detail of our love story right. I want all the words we shared relived with their proper tone and inflection. I want the glances, the touches, the heartbeats, cataloged. I want even the scents right.

I have to remember everything.

It’s the only way I can decide whether it is finally time to release myself of my duty upon the earth… and try to find my love on the Other Side.

If she’ll have me, that is.

Perhaps this story of mine will at long last lead to a happily ever after.

Or maybe I was wrong about everything.

And nothing awaits me in the Fade.





May 1981

Caldwell, NY

Darius, begotten son of Tehrror, forsaken son of Marklon, decided to drive into town the night his destiny came to claim him. Two weeks before, he had directed his trusted, elderly doggen, Fritz Perlmutter, to go to the BMW of Caldwell dealership and accept delivery of a brand-new 735i. The car had been ordered about six months before, and although vampires did not celebrate the human Christmas holiday, as its arrival date drew nearer, Darius knew all about sugarplums dancing in the head.

The sweet anticipation had been an antidote to so much dread and duty in his life, and the wait had been interminable. There had even been a delay or two, the production in Germany hitting a snag, and then the cross-Atlantic shipping taking longer than scheduled. But then, finally, the call had come in, and when Darius had returned home after a weekend away of fighting, covered in black blood that smelled like baby powder, with a gunshot wound through the meat of his upper left arm, Fritz had whipped open the back door and proclaimed that “she is being prepared and is ready to be gathered tomorrow afternoon!”

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