Archive for July, 2014

Anxiously, I pull my injured comrade over my shoulder, eyes darting from the rooftops, and to the hollow streets for the danger that was approaching. Slowly, and quietly, we stumble, looking for a building that could protect us from the elements, and undead. I pant weakly, feeling my insides turn with each step. If we got attacked now, it was unlikely that I’d be fast enough to respond, but if I left him here, then he stood no chance at all.

Chapter 5.21

I didn’t know him, and yet, I was risking my life trying to get him away from the dark, and the snow. This wasn’t like me, brave and noble, morals in tact. It wasn’t like me at all. The real me, the real Larka, she doesn’t care about anyone or anything, because in a world like this, so fragile, and chaotic, you lost everyone. Fighting against it, fighting fate, and turning against destiny was just a dream in a world that had long since stopped sleeping.

We crash through a tattered door, and I lay him down. For a moment, I just breath, before I sense the other two bodies in the room. Heart beats, frantically echoing against their rib cage, and eyes, eyes so full of fear, and dread. My fingers graze across the top of my gun, as if to reassure myself. But nothing can still the soul crushing anxiety coursing through my veins. Smoke burns my throat, as I study their faces.

“What are your names?” I ask quietly, my voice a solemn reminder of the dire situation that we had found ourselves in. Their eyes, each pair mirrored the very section we had found ourselves in, barely flinching at the sounds of the cannons being reloaded, or the screams penetrating the air around us.

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“I… I’m Cristopher, and this is Renji.” One of the boys mumbles, his eyes never leaving the blood soaked floor on which he sat. His skin was pale, and clammy, a thin sheath of sweat covering the exposed flesh. Dirt, and blood painted his face. He couldn’t have been over eighteen, barely a new recruit. How could we send kids like this out here? To certain death?  

“My name is officer Larka Godwinn, of the 124th squad to the mercenary core.” I state, more bravely than I felt. If I, even for a second let it show, how futile our escape from this hell was, it would be over. For all of us. I had seen my comrades deaths before, seen the very rug in which i walked torn from underneath me. “Where is your captain? Your commanding officer?”

“I… I think that we’re all that’s left.” The boy, not man, in the corner of the room sobs into his hands. A large cut run down his chest, with blood soaking into the torn fabric of his uniform, and clumsy bandages lay. “Everyone is dead.”

“Not everyone.” I breathe, watching the mist float from my very lips. The freezing winds outside seeming to shake the broken down building we sought refuge I’m. “We’re all still alive, aren’t we. And that’s how it is going to stay-“

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“And what are you going to do?” The all seem to scream hysterically at me, to afraid to even let themselves hope, or to think that far ahead. Had they given up already? “Forget the army of vampires, out there, stalking the streets, they have a pureblo-“

“I will not let you die.” It’s a promise that I’m not sure that is even possible to keep, but I can’t stop the words from pouring from my cold lips. What am I even saying? There’s too many. But… “Even if it takes my last breath, you will not die. I will protect you. And even if you are weak, I am strong.”

*

“The people are scared! What do you expect me to say to them, another town, another family, just laid to waste? All while you what? Sit in your laboratories, no closer to a cure than when we met, over twenty five years ago. It’s too dangerous now. For you to work in the open like a sitting duck, and for our citizens to somehow wait this out. I don’t know how much time, and resources that I can give to you when it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.”

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“I don’t expect anything of you, Mr President. And to be honest, you can say what you want, coddle them, wrap them up in their security blankets and tell them everything is going to be okay, if you so desire. At present date, time doesn’t seem to be on our side, the purebloods are making their moves, there’s civil unrest, and now of course the pressure is mounting for instantaneous action. Such is the common thread with you humans. You always want it now, now, now, now, never willing to wait. Such impatience.”

“We need it now, Aleksi.”

“And unfortunately that is not the case. These things take time, and I have spent the majority of my life working towards such a cure. But between all the mindless things that your people ask for, better weapons, and soldiers, and bigger smiles, faces you can trust, and then there’s the threats. You fear for your men and woman, protected within the safe zones that we have given to you, but what about my men, my family, my towns? You ask why I cannot just give to you our hopes for a cure, give it to mortal hands, when you know as well as I do the history that you all have with violence, and power.”

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“So you don’t trust us-“

“No, I don’t trust your right wing extremists who are quickly gaining favor with the men that you expect us to protect.”

“And those who wish to do you harm? Who hunt you, and your science, and faith? Aleksi, I have counted us as friends for many years, and I do admire your ethics, and your foolish courage. My own favor with the public falls with each death, and I fear that I won’t be able to hold the lions off forever. The humans, and purebloods want you dead, and if you stay in the open like you have, then I fear you will be made a target. You don’t trust my people with the cure, and I do understand that, but I fear that your pride will be the undoing for everything that we have strived for.”

“It is not pride, my dear friend, that is the fuel for the things that we do. If we believe that we are above this fight, then what example are we setting for the men and women we are leading into their deaths. Truthfully, it weighs heavily on my mind, and I could never just abandon my men to the fray. I’ve already lost, and given up so much for this war, and this cure: my master, my mate, my family, but I will not allow it to take my conscience to. I have however, taken a human among my ranks. He’s smart, an an idealist, and even if your humans act out their threats, I don’t believe they could kill him. So the cure will live, it will survive.”

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“And your master’s threats? What then?”

“If I can’t save him, which at this point seems truly impossible, then I’ll make sure that he faces the true death, and the implications of his crimes.”

*

I can feel their hearts simultaneously speeding up, and the cold, fearful eyes seeming to glaze over with some kind of divine reasoning. If we stayed here, we were already dead, the night was too cold, and too dark. If I died, so too would these children, these kids. That’s all they were, and how had we ever thought it was okay to send them off to war, to see the horror, and truth of our existence? How was it okay that we always let these things happen? They were just kids, they didn’t know any better than to fight for their country.

They’re just kids, just like I was. 

And I didn’t care if my comrades would die for me, I didn’t think I would care as much as I did, as I do now. 

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“It’s over… It’s all gone.” They sob, as the soldier by my feet slowly begins to show signs of life once more. “A pureblood, I saw him. It’s here. We can’t fight back. We can’t run away. We’re all going to die.” My body trembles with the news that I had been fearing, but perhaps I had sensed it coming all along. “They killed everyone. And they won’t stop… Not until every last one of us is dead!”

“We’re not going to die. But if there is a pureblood here, then we have to warn the others.” It’s not like I even know if reinforcements are coming, but no one can fight it. No one can fight death itself and win. I try the small radio attached to my belt, tying desperately to get a signal, a sign that anyone was out there at all. Run, you can’t fight, just leave. Is that what I would tell them? “Shit, no signal.” It had been a trap from the start. Some sick kind of joke. “If they just send in supply squads, then they… It won’t work.”

“What do you mean?” One of the kids ask me, wide eyed and terrified.

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“This has been a trap from the very beginning. Whoever did this, the pureblood, he knew that it was our obligation to be here, to protect the humans. And they’ve used that against us.” I grit my teeth while reinforcing my muscles with the strength of my Lycan blood. The razor fangs edge the corners of my grim smirk, my eyes seeming to shine a little bit brighter. Already, I could feel death working its way into my finger tips. “I can’t get a signal on my transmitter, but we have to let the others know that a pureblood is here. Regular troops, like us, won’t be equipped to deal with this. It’ll be a bloodbath, which means, someone has to make it to them, one way or another.”

“And what makes you think that it’ll be so easy?” The soldier I had dragged inside speaks quietly. His voice is hoarse, and croaky, strained by his injured ribs, and broken bones. “We lost signal over an hour ago, and if they’ve gone that far, how do you suppose we go about it? Just walk outta here and tell them? In case you haven’t noticed it’s a war zone, our best bet is to hope and pray they got enough sense to figure it out.”

“Asmodeus doesn’t fight wars, his men do, so by the time that they figure it out, it’ll be to late.” My voice is low, and forceful, while I struggle to remove the emotion from my words. If I speak to hastily, to strongly, then I might scare them into surrendering them to the night. Probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea. “Look..” My voice drops again, as panic sets in my heart. “I might not be used to this type of combat, but I know how to kill, and I’m good at it. So I can get you to the edge of town, and you three can make a break for it, try and intercept the others. What good is a cripple, and two kids out here anyway?”

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“Say we get out, then what?” The young boys watch me, weakly finding their feet with a grim stare.

“Northeast of here is an old trail that they send troops through. If you keep on it for about forty minutes you should find the temporary barracks they’ll have set up. You’d find the safe zone if you kept going, but lucky for us they’ll have troops stationed on that perimeter line, and working communications.” Closing my eyes briefly, I can feel my senses sharpening still, and my claws growing keener. “Can you walk, soldier?”

“You’re really going to try this?” He asks to which I give him a swift nod. Apart from playing the waiting game, there wasn’t much we could do. We could kill every vampire here, but we still wouldn’t stand a chance against the pureblood. The only hope was calling off help, or maybe getting the top squads together who had trained specifically for trying to kill one. Either way, if he could take this with this little resistance, then what was stopping him from turning on anywhere else? “Yeah..” He sighs. “I can walk, but I doubt I can put up much of a fight.”

“Let’s go.” I order.

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I could sense them moving, and stalking us as I led the small group down the narrow alleyways. There wasn’t anywhere to fight down here, but at least it sheltered us from the terrible winds. If we were warm, perhaps we would survive just a little bit longer. Holding my hand up, I motion for us to stop, the vampire sits in the middle of the road, edging to the left of us. A limp body hangs in its talons, slowly fading away with each second.

My hand anxiously grazes the silver blade on my back as I slowly inch forward. The beast was distracted, captivated by the fading light in its arms. It’s too late for them I decide, as we inch across the open gap to the next darkened alleyway. The silver hilt of my sharpened sword screams against the exposed skin of my hand, but the pain only pushes me on, and strengthens my resolve to survive.

The wannabe soldiers are sprinting to the darkness and shelter of the impeding alley. Their anxious hearts are too loud, and the beast looks up, but I’m already charging, I can feel the darkness taking over the overwhelming urge to fight, to live, to survive. The adrenaline bursts through my aching muscles, like a bullet cocked and fired, exploding through my as I dodge the surprised hands of my enemy and strike. 

Dust begins to float through the chilling northern gusts, and then the blood. My blood splatters, frozen against the powder white snow. The sound of gunfire screeches in my ears, and I fall to one knee, breathing heavily against the blood falling around my feet. My vision dances momentarily before locking on the vampire, smiling cruelly at me from a distance.

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It moves too fast for me to follow, and it’s teeth lunge for my neck. Weakly, I turn to catch its face, my fingers tremble against it’s deathly cold skin. Fighting for the strength to burn it with all the hatred I still have coursing through my veins. It screams, and then I too scream, it’s fangs burying themselves into my wrist. 

It crushes the bones, as I burn claw marks across it’s disgusting eyes that seemed to stare right through me. Another gunshot fills the air around us, in close proximity, and the vampire spits me out, turning towards the frightened kids in the alleyway. I stumble and fall into the snow, weakly trying to pull myself together.

Except my abdomen screams with the pain of the first gunshot, and my wrist alight with the bite of my enemy. I’m not sure I can move anymore, or if my heart is even beating. It would serve me right, that the first time in my life that I decide to fight for more than myself that I’m decimated by the enemy, torn apart, and my body never to be recovered. I deserved it for living a selfish life, but they didn’t.

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I weakly push myself back to my feet, growling pitifully as I tackle the enemy biting into their neck with its wrath. Even if I wanted to die, even if that’s what a wanted a moment ago, if that was what I had been dreaming of, there was still too much that I had to do. My redemption lay, perhaps, only moments away. We crash back to the earth, and it hisses, and growls, flailing against my every attempt to kill it. I drive my hand through its chest, and crush it’s heart with the very hopelessness coursing through my dying body.

“Larka!” Someone yells, throwing an arm around my waist, to prevent me from falling into a pool of my own blood. “I’m so sorry. If you weren’t trying to protect us, then you wouldn’t have been hurt, you’re gonna get yourself kil-“

“I said that I’d get you out of this, that was a promise.” I grumble, watching the fibres of my being slowly stitch me back together. Raising my fingers to my mouth, I lick the tainted blood away, relishing, even for a moment the brilliant colours, and glow of power within it. A week that’s all I’d lasted, I smirk, but if I didn’t drink it, I’d sooner bleed to death. “If I wasn’t trying to protect you, then what possible reason might I have to fight. Is he okay?”

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“I…” The voice is weak, and I know immediately that he isn’t getting back up. It’s no longer cold, I can’t feel the snow on my skin, or the warmth seeping into my shirt. But I shiver anyway. Trembling bad enough, I can barely hold my gun, and grip it tightly. “I’m sorry, I.. I couldn’t move. I tried to, tried to shoot.. But I.. I just couldn’t…” His desperation is sicken, consuming. It sticks to the corners of my mind and lays the seeds of doubt.

My brother had said the same thing once. But I had been there to protect him from the reality of what could have happened. I’d saved him from the fate of watching, frozen limbed, while someone got killed. But this time, I was too slow, too weak to stop it from happening. Just like I had been in Ravenwood. After all my tough talk of not letting anyone die, of being able to protect them. I was in the god damn same situation. Nothing had changed. I thought I had, but nothing.

Struggling to find my feet against the terrible pain in my stomach, I breathe out weakly. “Remember the mission, it’s the only thing that matters now. So we have to keep moving.”

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It continues to snow, illuminating the darkness under the street lamps, that only accentuates the violence around us. The way that blood might freeze into the snow, droplets encased with ice laying beside their felled corpses. 

“When we get to the edge of town, I want you to run.” I explain, wiping my blade clean after another bloody fight. Confusion sets into the frightened faces, of the fear of being alone, and what that might entail. “Northeast of here remember. If you don’t hurry, it won’t be the vampires you’ll need to worry about, but the ice.”

“And what about you?” They question, their faces dark, and fallen. The skin around their lips were turning blue against the pale skin, and their bloodshot eyes stood out stark against the goosebumps rising against their flesh. 

“I doubt that they’re in a rush to let anyone out of here alive, so if you see an opening, then you need to leave, and I… I’ll have to see that you make through okay.” I solemnly watch the rooftops around us. Surely one good deed was enough to spare me from an eternity within that silent, frozen prison in the other world. “If there is a pure blood in this town, then I can’t leave on good conscience.”

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“You can come with us…” They beg, and they plead with me. To be honest, they make a good argument to, if I do say so myself. I’m a soldier though, one that has fucked up enough times to know when I have to make it right. Everyone has a moment where they have to choose between fighting or running away, and looking at the road ahead, there wasn’t enough luck in this whole world that would let us all survive. 

“You think that I’d trust the death of a pure blood to you kids, yeah right.” I force the lopsided grin onto my lips, before turning onto the pavement, and stalking towards the biggest vampire that I could see. They just needed a distraction, and enough blood to dull our enemies senses. 

In the light, my blade cuts through more than half a dozen vampires, and their ash clouds the  black sky, streaked with a thousand tiny stars. I can’t begin to count how many of my own bones are breaking, as two silhouettes dart across the dimly lit street. I tremble falling to the ground, feeling a dark presence circling in on me. It’s pressure feels like a stack of bricks across my chest, and my heart rate starts to plummet.

My eyes weakly lock in on the man towering over me. His teeth gleam and shimmer, speckled with crimson blood, and flesh, and then his eyes. Like a gold falling star, crashing down to the earth in a ring of flames, his pupils almost swallow up his eyes entirely, and I’m terrified. 

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“What’s your name?” The pure blood hisses at me, tightening its iron grip around my throat. I can feel my head throbbing with each aching beat of my heart. But each time that my heart begins to dimmer, and float away, I can feel that dying strength burning deep within me.

“I suppose it would be dishonerable of me to kill you without stating my name. I’m Larka Godwinn.” I growl, feeling the darkness spread up both of my arms, and the cold touch of death in my fingertips. 

“I know that nam-” He screeches, like a thousand thunderbolts are tearing throughout his entire body. Burning, and scorching each and every dark passageway through those ancient veins, and broken lives. And then I’m falling, but before I can blink, I’m struggling for breath against the wall, not daring to even move.

“You are a curious thing indeed, my beautiful, tragic, witch.” He laughs, brandishing my own sword against my neck. And his eyes scream of murder, and violence, and destruction. But behind that anger, and arrogance I can see the ghosts of which he had held dare. Of beautiful girls, and sprawling castle that he could never own, and cascading white hair stained with crimson blood

“Were you there when he was murdered?” Surprise, confusion. “You were his brother, he would have died for you, and you didn’t care, did y-“

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“How dare you!” It screams in my face, the sharp edge of my sword, now drawing blood in a small, shallow cut across my neck. 

“Did you know how he scre-“

“Shut up-“

“For you! How even when he was being tortured and bea-“

“Stop it!”

“He still screamed your name, and begged for your life to be spare-“

“You fucking bitch, you don’t know anything!” Asmodeus bares his fangs, and growls mere inches from my face. He withdraws the blade and crashes it into the soft, pink flesh below my ribcage. “And I will enjoy this, you sanctimonious harlett.”

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Somehow, my lips curve as I watch his hatred burning beneath the surface of his skin. At the vulnerability, a huge target, circled and calculated, even harder to miss than the heart. In a way it was his heart. My fingers barely even touched the exposed skin of his hand, somehow curling around him, magnifying the memories so clear cut, and obvious.

“You were his ruin, Asmodeus, and yet, the one glimmer of hope he had at the end was that they would spare your life. Even then, he was bargaining for you, dying painfully, and yet you were all he cared about in that moment.” The blood drips from my lips, as I watch Azazel die, as I watch Arkin tear his heart out through his chest. I’m sure that he can feel it. The tremors in the earth around as as those red eyes penetrate the sanctity of our minds.

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“Asmodeus, are you there?” The voice is quiet as a whisper, and cold as ice. Furious as the raging storm, and powerful as the great river. “Can you see it? Can you feel it? Feel me?” The wind crackles around me. “Did you actually think you’d finally rid yourself of me, brother. Although, I suppose it was you who cast the first stone, who kicked the first domino and let the pieces fall. Your beautiful envy, do you still envy me, do you brother?”

“Shut up!” He hisses, throwing me with all his force into the pavement. Blood spurts from my lips with the impact of the crash.

You were everything that he hated, and yet he died for you” My head falls into the snow, blood gushing from my wounds, and staining the perfect white. If they got away then it wasn’t all for nothing, I think weakly. My head reeling with blackness.  Waking up on the other side would be the only tell if my lowly sacrifice was enough to save me from the black. “Because of you.”

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I’m alone. Perhaps there are still things in the streets, and on the roofs. Maybe there’s only ghosts, like me, like Azazel, wandering endlessly, screaming at whatever will listen. There isn’t any cold anymore, and the pain is all but a dull ache. Is anyone coming back for me? Does anyone even care at all? 

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I sit crossed legged in the middle of the room. Focusing my spirit with an act of concentration that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. If I was going to be sober, then I needed to sink my heart into it. And unfortunately, mine was. Everyone that I had lost already, everyone that I would eventually lose, and everyone that I could save, hopefully including myself, was tangled up in the idea of necromancy.

Communication with the dead.

Control of the dead.

And then of course, my eternity plans, all wrapped up in a white ball of apathy.

I wanted it, the power, and the knowledge that came with the dead, but the more that I found myself needing it, the faster I seemed to distance myself from it. The desire for blood, the need to forget had washed away with the dawn, the compulsion had definitely taken root inside of me. So at least my concentration wasn’t at all affected by the withdrawals. Just everything else.

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I sigh, fidgeting around, and slowing my heart down to the point that I can barely tell of its existence. Coldness seeps into my limbs, and a dark, nagging presence invades the furthest corners of my mind. It was the place that she resided in, the place she called home. She shifts, lurking, moving inside..

I scowl deeply, trying not to listen to the people passing by, working, talking. There’s a deep unrest circulating the air in this town, and no matter where I turn, I can’t look away. Twinbrook had been hit, hard and fast, the rumours were in the air around me. Beneath each hushed whisper. Who had done it? Who was next?

It’s all gone.. She laughs.

“Still trying those cheap parlour tricks?” A deep voice mocks from behind me, as I turn slightly, and in anger, I’m met with cold brown eyes, and a deep scar running down an imperfect face. Ulrick stands at my grandfathers side, cold and quiet, his presence alone has stilled the room. “Come now, why don’t you give me a turn, it must be much better than sitting there pretending that you know what to do.”

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“You?” I ask, raising my eyebrows at him. My grandfather shifts uncomfortably, watching my every movement like a hawk. Of course, training on a real person, a real vampire would be a great help. But I didn’t want to do it in front of either of them, if I failed, if I couldn’t see. Then they’d know, everyone would know that I was a failure.”And see all your dirty little secrets. No thanks.”

“I’m a vampire, anything that you might imagine that I’ve done, I have done.” He says matter of factly, sitting down in front of me. Ulrick raises an eyebrow, setting the challenge as he holds his hands out for me to touch. I shut my eyes for a moment, grasping the top of his upturned wrists softly. Trying to make contact with a tiny crack in his spirit: Pain seemed easier to open than the opposite. Pain was like a dent in a piece of armor, sure, it hadn’t killed them, but it had left a mark.

After a few seconds, he laughs, murmuring the word amateur under his breath. But I’ve already locked onto the scent of it. The tiny leak of spiritual pressure, and darkness that loomed over him. When my eyes open, the room is dark, and made of crumbling wood. The smell of smoke stings my nostrils, and burns my eyes as I scratch at a door that won’t budge. Beads of sweat drip down my back as I look over to the corner, towards our brother’s darkened face. Glowing eyes meet mine, human, this is before our change, and he flies towards the door, effortlessly knocking it down.

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“I can’t protect you anymore, Viktor, you need to flee. I’ll be right behind you.” We promise, we lie.

Then hands appear, dragging us outside, holding us into dirt. A shimmer of silver dangles above our heads, as obscenities are shouted, and echo around us. Traitor, traitor!  The blade comes down, and the world shifts back into motion. Ulrick’s blurry face becomes clearer amongst the fog, and it hurts more than I thought it would. Somehow, it’s hard to separate the images from my mind. His memories, for just a moment, were my own. And all those thoughts, and feelings, were also mine. And looking at that thick and rigid scar made me sick for what they had done to him.

“Did he survive? Your brother, that is?” My words are hesitant, but I can’t stop them from leaving my mouth. It was pathetic, but I didn’t want to lose to him, I wanted to win, for both of them to know that I could do it. But when is it ever easy to explain those moments, the one’s you can’t even bear to think about.

“No.” His voice is cold, and even, maybe even underneath that seemingly apathetic tone was surprise: That I wasn’t just some kid who talked a big game. I was starting to develop it, to test it against my own limits, unfortunately, some skills can’t be tested until until the moment arrives. Like whether or not it could make a difference, to me or anyone. “Not that night, but death comes to us all. And hunters have always been a little sick.”

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“A hunter who hides a vampire, no wonder you’re a traitor.” I respond, turning my head away from his, and away from the scar.

“Larka, play nice. Try to remember that he only tolerates you out of the goodness of his heart, he really is lot more dangerous than you give him credit.” My grandfather quips tensely, watching us both curiously. I can feel his eyes on me, studying my movements still. A week ago, I’d been an addict who couldn’t hold onto a memory for longer than a second, and who didn’t want to. Today, I was so much more than that. The change in me was stronger than giving up the blood, it ran much, much deeper.

“You really do make it sound like it should be a surprise, Aleksi.” Ulrick tuts, standing up straight. His eyes dart toward the opening door with a sorry attempt for a smile. “Captain. How nice of you to finally grace us with your presence. Any word on the latest attacks?” I feel my throat tighten, I had heard that there had been an attack, but there hadn’t been much information on it. Not to people like me, the grunts. But anyone who could possibly know something held the faint air of desperation about them.

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“Stage five, Twinbrook, no survivors.” Baltezhar’s voice is grim, and lathered in the usual ice, even as he watches his son. No survivors… The words ring in my ears, and a deathly quiet silence falls across the small room. The few people inside seem to hold their breaths for an eternity. “We need to go, the war council is waiting for you.”

“Yes.. Of course.” My grandfather’s voice falters, and I can hear the bitter desperation leaking through. I bite into my lip painfully, wanting anything to be a fly on the wall in that meeting, to understand what was happening. The silence is terrifying, the not knowing who, or when, or why. All those people. Just gone. Just like that. “I think that we must all prepare for the reality of this situation.” He adds, turning back as he reaches the door. “And Larka, you should head to headquarters, it’s likely you’ll be deployed to hold the line.”

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After he leaves, the sound of a pin dropping would become the thunder. Each heart beat is loud, and distinct, and fear permeates the room. It’s a distinct smell, one that only comes through the soul crushing finality of knowing what’s coming for you. Of the fate that awaits you. The only difference is that I would be the only one to face it today. If we were lucky. But perhaps we were just kidding ourselves. No one could actually fight a pureblood and win.

I wrestle with my conscious, willing myself to stand up, to make my way over to where probably thousands of us were already awaiting orders. Where thousands of us would fight desperately not to become another statistic, another casualty of war. My mouth is dry, and the taste of bile stings my throat. It wasn’t just a mission anymore, pointless revenge. Each breath is shaky. I couldn’t stuff up this time, or it really would be death.

The true death…

A hand is held out to me, as my vision comes into focus. Golden amber eyes shine down on me like the sun, forcing me to find a smile to hide my reluctance.

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“Cas…” I breathe out weakly, trying to make my voice sound louder, and stronger than I am. “What’s with the sappy eyes? You know, us soldiers are gonna go in there, and make everything all right again?” I ignore his hand, and stand up, meeting his eyes with a determined look. “We got this. Those vampers ain’t gonna know what hit them.”

“Believe it or not, it’s not them that I’m worried about.” He replies darkly. It was the first time that he had given any indication that my continual teasing had any impact at all, and under any other circumstances, I would have used it to my advantage. But now, it all seemed so final. So irritatingly final.

“Well you should be, cause I got a few new tricks I want to test out, and they’ll be running scared once they figure out what those are.” I force a pathetic laugh, shrugging away from his shoddy attempts at goodbye, or romance, or whatever they’re calling it these days. “We’re good at what we do, so trust us to do what we do best. Blind killing, and justified genocide of the vampire race.”

“Oh, as long as you know exactly what you guys are doing. Soldiers…” He says with a sarcastic roll of his eyes. And then he’s watching me again, with a stupid grin on his face. “Just don’t die on me, okay, soldier.”

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“We’ll see.” I respond, patting his chest dismissively.

It’s the longest walk of my life, time seems to stretch out manically. Seconds to minutes, and minutes to hours. The sirens begin to wail, summoning us to our duty. It’s kinda funny how life turns out, I think with a small smile. I had spent my youth training to join the mercenary core so I could avoid situations like this, going to war, dying like some kind of dog. I had spent my entire life trying to escape the inevitable by distancing myself from the reality of losing. Myself, maybe, or others. And yet still, somehow, I had been coerced into all of it, through duty, and ignorance.

And desire.

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For every pitiful second, I’d wanted everything I had gotten. I had wanted revenge, and had gotten bloody battles. I had wanted comrades, and had gotten just that, ones that I could trust with my life, and had. Whether it was losing, or being alone, I don’t know what scared me more. I suppose now I would truly find out.

I wait in the hall, watching it fill to the brim with terrified eyes. Of course, they probably thought that they were playing the part of the brave soldier, just like I was. But then again, I was under no illusions. This is war. This was hell. I catch a glimpse of my father walking past, his skin is pale, but his face is set, and rigid. Unlike those quivering around him, he held an air of calm, of understanding.

There’s a low howl in the air, summoning me to my ranks. My Captain’s eyes are dark, and alert, rimmed with adrenaline and dread. For us. “This is not a drill, my young comrades.” His voice is tight, and low. “Squads 38 through to 74, you will be assisting Captain Larson in the evacuation of Appaloosa Plains to the Niar Valley tunnels of the eastern districts. The mission is not over, until every soul that can be, is safely escorted to the safe zone. Squads 107 to 136, your mission is the holding of the Appaloosa line. You will assist in the evacuation efforts, but instead of guarding the safe line, you will stay behind. To make up squad numbers, for all those squads with an incomplete number of men, you will be teamed with members from the supply, and front guards. A word of advice to you all; If you see anything dead, that is not your comrade, you kill it.”

Squad 124, I shiver against myself, my eyes scanning the crowd around me. Ideally, you’d want to be in the evacuation team, guarding the place that isn’t about to get torn apart by vampires. And of course I had to go and get put on the front line. For a minute, I’m lost in thought, we all are, I can hear someone emptying their stomach, and another sobbing. We’re soldiers, I think coldly, we’re taught how to die, so why are they acting so scared. It’s just another part of the job description.

*

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A little boy cries in the streets, holding a small teddy in his arms. Most of the town had been evacuated already, but nightfall was coming fast. In winter, we didn’t have the time to mess around, because once the sun fell behind the hills, it was likely that out of the darkness, so to would something else appear. One of my temporary squad members leans forward, touching the kid’s shoulder with a soft smile.

And then the wall explodes, and the scent of fire burns my nostrils so painfully. My ribs ache with the force of being thrown through the wall, and I can’t seem to find my breath easily. However, I force my eyes open, looking for any sign of danger anywhere. I can feel scorch marks searing into my skin. One of my men is crumpled against another wall, a steal pipe through his chest, and blood leaking onto the cold pavement. Where was the boy? Was he dead too, just bait to maybe kill one of us?

I grip my knife, as a flash of darkness swoops towards me, she’s human, obviously compelled, and I want to grind her into the snow for being stupid enough to get us caught out. My hands grip onto her chin tightly, as I throw her across my body, and onto the ground. I focus my breath, touching her cheek with angry focus, forcing these pathetic ideas out of her head. She screams loudly, before her eyes roll to the back of her head, and she goes limp.

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“He’s dead.” Another man says quietly, checking his friend’s pulse. His eyes are bleak, and cold. “I didn’t think that they’d make it easy for us, but this, setting explosives on little kids, and compelling mother’s to clean up the mess? Vampire’s truly are something else.”

“Who’s they? You have any idea?” I ask shakily, waiting for my burnt skin to begin the rapid healing process. My eyes can’t even face our dead comrade. I can’t even force myself to stare in his direction. It’s just another one. Another cold body.

“Dragomir, perhaps.” The pureblood Asmodeus. “Definitely not Arkin, too controlled for him, which means it’s unlikely his master is involved either. If it was, this entire town would be a battlefront already, an outright battle royale, where he might be kind enough to turn the winning few. It’s sick. They’re sick. And I don’t know what it means.”

“They knew we were coming, that’s what it means.” I whisper to the winds. It explained why more of us weren’t sent here. They probably just picked numbers, and whoever was drawn was forced to give their life up to keeping the charade alive. My chest is tight, as I find my feet wearily. “Which means, by the end of the night, he isn’t going to be the only corpse.”

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And it’s not, he’s not. More explosions shatter the frozen skies, and fires burn away the falling sky. I can hear sobbing again, the incessant, hard to stop kind. Anyone left, isn’t getting out alive, they’re not going home. And we all know it. By the time reinforcements arrive, if they ever do, my teeth grind against each other. I can’t finish that sentence. They couldn’t just leave us here to die. They wouldn’t have just given up on us. Abandoned us.

People around me are falling, falling to people who should know better, but can’t stop it. They’re possessed with the idea of blood. Killing, and striking against their own will, and we can’t stop them. Will the safe zone survive if all it’s citizens are blood crazed, and compelled to hate? What were we even saving? Human lives are more important than ours, pathetic, dirt bag soldiers laying down their lives for the good of humanity. Is that what it was?

Just don’t die on me, okay, soldier. Why didn’t I say something back? Anything? Just kiss him, and forget this whole thing for just the briefest second? I shiver, griping my gun to the point that it hurts, and my fingers grow numb with the constant pressure. There’s only darkness now. Only darkness, and it hurts.

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Screams start, one by one. From each corner of this god forsaken town. It’s coming, they’re coming. Despite the frozen winds, and the falling snow, my skin is bathed in sweat. There’s too many questions haunting me, plaguing my mind with a touch of cruelty. I want to run, far away from where I stand, gun cocked and ready. But I can’t force my legs to move. I can feel it on the wind, stalking my blind spots, and closing in. I can’t move. I don’t know if I want to.  Don’t die on me.. Die.. Die.. It’s not them that I’m worried about… Larka.. 

Shit…

I drop to my knees, as it’s claws dance across my spine, clipping at the fabric of my uniform. The hesitation has given way to cold hard killer instinct. My eyes are keener, quickly following it’s movements, as I flick my head back, connecting with it’s jaw, and sending it crashing back. It’s natural, swinging my arm out, the short scope of my handgun locking in on the beast’s heart, and shooting.

It’s natural, and it’s the only thing I’m good at. If killing these heartless creatures is all I could do for them, for him, then I’d kill god damn all of them. The trembling stops, as I stand, shooting a target moving swiftly towards another soldier. We would have to survive until reinforcements came. And they’d have to. There was no way that they’d just leave us out here. I reload my gun, gripping one of the soldiers underneath the arm, and dragging him out of the street, and into an alleyway.

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He’s alive, but unconscious. But alive nonetheless. My eyes rim with the dark prowess of my lycanthropy, as I watch the rooftops, and street corners for any sign of danger. Nothing yet, but they’re here, and they’re still coming. It wasn’t over, not by a long shot.

But for a brief moment, a few minutes, I have enough time for a short reprieve, enough time to think out some type of plan that went beyond: Don’t get killed.

5.20.2

The first day, the anger radiated inside of me like a hive of swarming hornets, lashing out at anyone that was close enough to feel the impact. The withdrawals were only just beginning to eat away at me, and I knew that they would only grow much stronger the longer I was forced to stay inside here. There would be no epiphany. No white shining light in which I would awake from my dark comatose.

I didn’t want it, and much less, I didn’t need it.

Day two, the anger seemed to echo throughout my very being, with every whispered aftershock turning to anxiety. Painfully holding my already frantic heart under it’s dark spell. The shadows seemed darker than usual, more threatening, they even laughed at me. Cruelly miming my shortcomings, and reciting my greatest failures. How I had made so god damned many of those…

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Everything that I had been blocking, and locked away flowed back in waves, rejoicing in the freedom that was suffocating me in waves of self deprecation. With no blood to numb the pain, and no booze to hide behind, no haze of smoke to mask the anxiety, it felt like I was dying all over again.

And then the withdrawals start.

I don’t know how I survived day three, or anything past. My veins feel empty, like it’s boiling and being drained with each passing second. I want to tear at my flesh, just to see myself bleed, to see proof that I’m still alive, and that my veins haven’t shriveled up entirely. And because of this, I can barely force my muscles to comply with my most basic of intentions. Closing my fist, holding onto anything, even standing becomes virtually impossible, and waking up is just a fruitless dream.

My skin is enveloped in a  cold sweat that seems to drip without end. My eyes are shadowed by heavy black bags that make me look sickly. When was the last time I even slept properly? I can feel her nagging at the weakest corners of my brain, trying to reach into me and pull me out. I’m so hungry, but I only desire one thing. I’m so thirsty, but not even the cleanest spring water could dull the ache.

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Day four just kill me now.

Day five, I need out. I’ve circled this apartment a thousand times in search of something, anything. Surely my brother’s devil spawn minions are bored, surely they know that I’m perfect. An upstanding citizen that should be allowed out. To roam the streets, and to pitifully make it up to the guy that I had tried to kill. I was asleep, that’s what I would tell him. I scratch at my wrists thoughtlessly, it was a nightmare, and I needed to escape.

I’ll tell him I’m sorry. I’ll tell Nick that I’m fine, perfect, great. Scream it from the rooftops if I have to. I just need out. Freedom. Blood… No, I could never survive this twice. I could hide it better. It’s just a bit of fun after all. A low growl reaches from the depths of my stomach, tearing at my parched throat as I watch the pathetic little arse lickers.

You’re not going to get a promotion, I think with a cold glare, it doesn’t matter if you keep me here, Nick won’t even give you a sideways glance. There’s two of them, new recruits, I think I can take them. My hands shake, every muscle in my body seems to tremble with anticipation. I just need something, anything to save me from this tiny apartment.

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There’s a knock at the door, to which I awkwardly half stumble and run to answer. I look worse for the wear, in fact, I look like shit. But I don’t care. My guards mumble something to me, to which I ignore with a loud huff. I can’t ignore the man behind me though, less than a foot away from me as I swing the door open.

“Larka..? You look.. Are you okay?” Cassiel bumbles nervously. I wonder if he knows that the reason I’m trapped inside of my own home is because of him and his big mouth. Before him, I never had a problem, I was fine. He holds a shameful bouquet of yellow flowers in his hands, and the guard behind me has a standard issue gun in the holster of his jeans. It would take less that a second to get to it.

“Never been better.” I smirk, my grin to wide, and baring to much teeth. Despite my weakness, I swiftly steal the gun, and grab Cassiel. He was going to get me out of here, whether he knew it or not. I trap him in my arms, pointing the gun pathetically at his pretty head. “Sorry country boy.” I whisper with a soft kiss on his ear.

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“Larka! Shit, put the gun down.” One of my guards screeches much to loud for my sensitive ears. Pathetically he points his own gun at me, while his partner backs  away. I know he won’t use it though, neither of us will. He’s never killed before, and I haven’t completely finished having fun with Cas.

“Do you know who this is?” I ask, watching them almost madly. Cas knows better than to fight against me, in fact he sighs deeply, like he’s already given up, and resigned himself to his fate. Here we go again, he seems to breathe out. “Aleksi, our great hope for the cure shipped this guy in to help out, and I bet that you’d be in a lot more trouble for getting him killed, than I would be for killing you. So whatcha gonna do about it?”

“Is it true?” They turn to Cas, who sighs again and nods his head in agreement. I can see the panic etched on both of their faces. Did they really want to be held responsible for killing the cure? God no, especially not for a street rat, an addict like me. Look I was admitting it, I’m getting better, I think sarcastically.

“Bye boys.” I grin wildly, taking a step back and kicking the door shut. They’ll come for me soon, Nick probably has a sixth sense that lets him know when I’m screwing up. I don’t have a lot of time, and yet, my heart races against my entire body. Freedom, with the sun that is too bright, and the people who talk to loudly. “Don’t pout so much Casy.”

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“Don’t pout?” He huffs as I relinquish my grip on him in the elevator. “In the time that I’ve known you, you’ve punched me, choked me, and taken me hostage at gunpoint. When you said that there weren’t other girls like you, you really weren’t lying.” He sends a gust of air through his noise in exasperation. I watch the furrowing of his brows in amusement, and the tightness of his jaw. He really was quite cute when he was angry.

“Some people might find it charming. Endearing even.” I smirk, watching his reaction closely. There was something about him, something so innocent and pure that I wanted to exploit in the most twisted ways.

“Then maybe you should kidnap them, and hold them hostage next time.” He growls under his breath as the elevator dings open. His eyes dig into mine before he looks away, stepping away from me. Digging his hands into his pockets, he pulls out his cellphone. “Your brother told me to call him in situations just like this.”

“Come on Casy.” I smile at him, looping my hand through his arm. Rolling his eyes, he pauses, waiting for me to decide what comes next. I don’t completely know what does, but I loop my ankle around his, preventing him from escaping. “Look, I just needed some air, okay? It’s suffocating in there, and they won’t let me leave because they think I have a problem. But the only problem I have is being stuck in my own apartment for a week.”

Cas hesitates, weakly struggling against me for the briefest moment. “And what kind of problem do they think that you have?”

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I press my lips to his stopping all conversations. Barely three seconds pass before I pull away again, feeling my heart press against my chest in need, and desire. It’s been so long since I’ve felt anything at all, but maybe I’ve just been locked up for to long that anything feels good. But it’s not anything, or anyone, it’s him, and Cas is like a magnet that I gravitate towards. Even when all I want to do is punch him for ratting me out.

“Give me a head start, that’s all I’m asking for. Just five minutes. Nick will already be looking for me, and you’re like his number one clue.” I plead, pulling the roses from his hands and breathing in the sweet scent. Sunlight, dirt, and roses. Almost like himself. I release him, and untangle our limbs with a satisfied smirk. “I’m going to need to need these, hope you don’t mind.”

“Where are you going?” He asks, his jaw as tight as ever.

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“To make up for lost time.” I respond, my cheeks turning a slight pink as I turn away from him. How many ways can you say that you’re sorry? How many times can you say it before it starts to make sense. I walk, stumbling on, while savoring the heat on my lips. It was different from how I remembered. More intense, like an electrocution. I really must be lonelier than I thought.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry? Uhm. No. I’m sorry, I’ve been slack.” I mumble under my breath, trying to prepare myself mentally for all the things that I needed to make up for. And all the words that would fall on dead ears that could never hear me, regardless of how loud I repeated them. That was what it was like talking to the dead, they never seemed to care enough to listen. Or maybe they did, and I was still to weak.

As I sit down in my usual spot, crossing my legs between to already aging gravestones. Even knowing why I had to be here, I don’t even know why I am. I’m free, I can go and make up for maybe kinda trying to kill Gabriel. Or I could go to a dark and dirty pub, and drink til I can’t stand, but instead, here I am. In the most pathetic place on earth. Sitting in front of my most pathetic mistakes.

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“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” I mumble, sticking my lower lip out in a desperate pout. I was all alone here, and yet I was completely, and totally nervous. To talk to the grass, and stone. I place the flowers down, and force a smile on my lips. I could already hear them chastising me for my excuses, but they were too far away now. “No mission, just… Me. Hiding away from everything, again. But it really wasn’t my fault, ya know? I had to take a hostage just to get here and see you guys.” I just want a response, the cold silence is grinding on my nerves.

Maybe all of those times that I had been drunk, or high, I had just never noticed how truly quiet that it was. Sure they’d never spoken, but now, it really did look like I was talking to absolutely nothing, that they were actually gone. A necromancer who can’t talk to the dead. A medium who can’t even summon a ghost. I cut my hand, like I had a thousand times before, and hold it into the grass.

Breathing weakly, I struggle to even clear my mind. My bones tremble distactingly, and the pain in my chest is wearing me down. “Aiden… Seth… Please.. Just tell me what to do. Just give me a sign, or something.” I whisper quietly. My heart begins to slow, and the warmth begins to burn weakly onto my skin. When my eyes open, for the faintest second, for not even a moment, I’m somewhere else. The sun is a blinding white light, and two dark silhouettes stand before me, and then it’s gone.

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I’m surrounded by graves, and my hand still drips blood. I shiver against myself with a small lopsided smirk plastered across my pale face. Wishful thinking perhaps, or the blood truly had been blocking my spiritual pressure. Or maybe I was hallucinating. As far as trips went, it definitely wasn’t the worst. Things from the other side that weren’t actively trying to hurt me.

“I’m sorry that I left without saying a goodbye.” This time my voice doesn’t shake as much when I speak, and it isn’t as reluctant. “I actually have to say it for a lot of things. And to a lot of people. But I’m sick of it, the word, and feeling sorry for myself.” I was weak, young, useless, but I could change it. Maybe. If it isn’t to late. But I don’t know if I want to. “Probably hasn’t been a lot of fun with your front row tickets to my life. I want to change, I want to be somebody, but… Every time that I get used to fact that your dead, and gone, I relive it all over again and end up back at square one. So I’m sorry that you’re watching a losing battle. But everyone is losing down here, one more won’t make a difference.”

I sit back, clutching at my ribs with each breath. It hurts. Both the withdrawals, and this. Whatever this is. And blood would end both of it. I try to think of how I could find a new doner, and not get caught. But I hesitate. I don’t know why. Perhaps its feeling my pulse in my head, scraping against each vital membrane, and knowing that to survive this twice would be hell on earth. Maybe I needed new kicks. Booze and painkillers, oxy and vicadon.

Or maybe not, I think as I hear footsteps behind me.

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“You miss them.” Nicks states quietly, and I can feel his eyes watching me from beneath his dark lashes. I wonder what he can see when he looks my way, wonder what he thinks about. My skin is pale, more so than usual, and deathly cold. Thick veins pepper the surface and cloud my eyes. They’re black and red, swirling around the lonely blue. I must look like I haven’t slept in weeks. “Should I have been there for you more? Helped you through this?”

“No, Nick, you’re not my father.” I sigh, hesitantly meeting his eyes. Shame mars my face as I wait for my hair to swallow my frame, and hide me from his gaze. If only the ground could swallow me up. Not my brother… Not even that... He couldn’t believe that. “It wasn’t your job to step in, and save me from myself.”

“It’s not a crime to need someone.” But it is to lose someone, I swallow hard, looking at the stone heads around us. “I guess this has been my life for so long, that I’ve become numb to it. I didn’t realize that this hurt as much as it did. For you. And it did. And it does.” This place was every reason why you shouldn’t care about anyone but yourself. Death makes your friends, and family casualties. And your comrades, time bombs.

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“I’m not going to do it again.” I mumble distractedly. “I mean, I want to. I really, really do. It feels like my blood is boiling and I’m suffocating every second that I don’t, but I can’t. I.. I won’t.” The thought of it alone, of blood dripping into my mouth is torture. “I wanted to be strong, like being strong would be enough to bring them back. And I wanted to forget, but I’m just so scared that I’m going to forget.”

“You’re not going to forget, I can assure you of that.” Nick’s face hardens, his teeth scrape against each other reliving all those memories that perhaps he’d tried to forget. “The pain might lessen, you might even get numb to it, like me, but you will never forget their faces. Regardless of how much time has passed, and how many you’ve lost. It’s etched into you, like a scar, a tattoo.”

“I just don’t understand why, about any of it.” I force myself to keep speaking, as if the dead might hear it, and respond with some divine intervention of their own. “I survived, and they didn’t, whether it was luck or fate, or whatever you want to call it. And then him. He’s a fool for inviting me inside, like I’m not everything that haunts his nightmares.”

“Cassiel?” The name rolls off of his tongue like he already knows the words on my lips. A well rehearsed speech that we didn’t know the ending to.

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“He saved my life, you know. In the hapless, seems like a bloody miracle way that he so flawlessly pulls off. He saved me. He opened the door, and invited me inside. He didn’t even know me, only saw what anyone else would call a monster, and he saved my god damn life. He hates soldiers, and vampires, and politicians, and if I asked, he probably hates politician’s daughters too. But he let me inside, when I’m everything that he hates, when I could have torn his throat out. And the other night, he let me inside again, he trusted me not to tear him limb from limb, when I’d just come from trying to do just that to someone else.”

“What are you trying to say?” The lost helplessness is evident in both of our voices. Confusion, and the questions it was obvious we’d both been asking ourselves.

“That I wouldn’t let me in. No way. No way in hell. He’s crazy.” I force a smirk onto my face trying to cover up my shameful vulnerability.

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“While I can’t argue with that, maybe he saw his sister, scared, and alone, and everything that she didn’t want to be.” Cassiel had said that she had been taken into the woods, and lost all the parts of herself that the gods allowed. Her purity, her sanity, her humanity. Did he kill her, I wonder. Was she the reason that he had poured his soul into finding a way to exorcise this world?

“I just.. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore. And it’s going to get a lot worse. Isn’t it?” My breath is shaky, but not through lack of trying. No matter how hard I hold on, no matter how deep I breathe, I can’t get enough air into my tired, dying lungs.

“Yeah. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” If… The magic word. “But Larka, when you get through this, and say goodbye to the blood for good, all those somewhat unobtainable goals of yours, are going to be yours for the taking. It seems impossible right now, but you will get stronger, I’ve no doubt about it. And all those secret training missions with your grandfather, will all make sense, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with, just like I always knew.”

“You know about that?” I ask surprised.

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“I know everything, Lark, especially where my pack is concerned. Besides, who do you think is think is responsible for stopping all of those assassination attempts on them.” He smiles weakly, helping me to my frail feet. But the meaning behind his words terrifies me. Not just my grandfather, but everyone working for the cure, for any chance at hope. The resurrection of this world hanging by a single thread.  “Go home, get clean, and realize that all of their hopes and dreams are now yours to fulfill. And Lark, the hardest part has only just begun.”

‘Which is?” I question stiffly, focusing on staying upright.

“Living.”

*

It’s the only way.

I have to ask for it.

There’s no other way it can be done.

“I need to ask a favor of you.” I ask quietly, my voice squeaks as I feel his eyes dripping over the surface of my skin, and seeing everything underneath. Our eyes matched, and seemed just as distant, as lonely, and as cold. But we were not the same. After scouring my great grandmother’s writings, I knew that this was not the man that she had married, no, he was barely the shadow of his former self.

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“Then why not ask it of my son? I’m busy.” He goes to slam the door shut on me, to barricade himself away, but I catch it. Barely.

“It’s not necessarily something that ties in with his moral code.” It’s peaked his interest, I can sense it in the slight flutter of his eyes. His blood seems to shift with the idea too. Focus.. “That, and I know for a fact he doesn’t have a fraction of your strength, especially in his current form.”

“So you need a vampire?” His eyes narrow in on me. “Now obviously you know me, and the rumors that surround me.  But I did not think that the rumors surrounding you were true. Although, smelling you, my child, it’s quite obvious.”

“Not so much. Quite the opposite, really.” I respond, as he opens the door up with a soft sigh. Obviously he was cold, and damaged, but the rumors hardly ever turned out to be entirely true. This was in fact the vampire who had stood over freshly dug graves by my side, and tried to stop the rain from crying, and who had apologized for sharing our eyes. “I’m not in the market for blood. Although, if we’re offering… No.. I’m here for the opposite. I don’t want it, but I’m not strong enough to refuse. I want to forget about it, for good, the blood, the need, the cravings. Can you do it?”

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“You seem perfectly capable at the present time to say no-“

“And in a week, or a five days, or even an hour from now, my sudden clarity, my resolve, it will wash away.” My voice is shaky. But not because of his possible refusal, but because I know it’s true. I could weaken, and I would slip. I didn’t really think he cared, but compulsion was absolutely off limits to mortals. It was probably one of the only rules that the humans actually cared about. “I need to get stronger. So I don’t care what it’ll cost me. Money, blood, anything.” Silence. “Come on, it’s for a good cause. One of the only good things that it can do. Constance would want you to help.”

“And how would know know about anything that she would want.” Shit, I think desperately. If I wanted him onside, she was not the way to go. She had been the nail in his open coffin, although, she was possibly the only thing he wanted.

“I have one of her books. Found it back in Ravenwood. You can have it. If you do this for me. If you take this away.” I state simply, refusing to break eye contact with him. This was something that I needed, and even if I had read her book, and felt close to her for a brief second, this was more important. It’s not like I wouldn’t have an eternity to spend with her anyway.

5.20.2 (18)

“I don’t want it.” He places a hand over his eye, catching the falling pieces of hair between his fingers. My teeth grind painfully over each other in irritation. My mood, and emotions were already erratic, and intense, and he was my only option. Not only was he the strongest vampire I knew, but he was the only one that I could half trust to do this.

“Your nothing like how she wrote you.” I hiss, before closing my mouth. For a moment, he’s hard to read, a mixture between pure hate, and amusement. It was hard to pinpoint what he’d rather do to me at the moment.

“Do I not live up to my reputation?” He says quietly, watching me curiously. “You remind me of her, in all of your bratty, and stubborn behaviors. She was never afraid to call me out on mine, either. Of course, she never fell as far as you have, my child, she never would have wanted to. And of course, she always got what she wanted.”

“And I’m not asking for the world.” I whisper. “I know that compulsion can’t always override someone’s deepest intentions, and I know that it could fail, that there are risks. But I also know that you do not wish to see my fall, so please. Do this for me. Save my life. Make me strong.”

“Sit down…” He whispers after a moment, before capturing my gaze. I can’t breathe inside of it. I can’t even think, but now, there’s no backing out. I was going to get strong. And next time, I would make a difference.