Fault of Darkness
By: Jaime Elizabeth Turbett (503) 352-6711 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaime Turbett UC # 419 Pacific University 2043 College Way Forest Grove, OR 97116
Chapter 1 In the center of a cold dark alley in the city of Lakewood, the scraggly form of an emaciated alley cat picked at the remains of garbage from the nearby office building. The rain poured to the earth in torrents of icy needles. It was the end of November. Normally there would have been snow covering the streets—the rain was much worse. The roads were coated with black ice. The cooler air of the night made the road extremely
dangerous, yet people felt safe on the roads. Or as safe as they could be, nothing ever happened there. A tearing sound emanated from the brick, drowned out by the cataclysm of pouring rain. The cat yowled and scurried away as an odd-looking woman stumbled out of the black hole that violently replaced a part of the brick. The woman looked about herself nervously. She was carrying a parcel in her arms that screamed unhappily. “Shh…don’t cry,” the woman purred at the startlingly beautiful baby. She hugged the child as close to her warm breast as she could. The woman did not like the rain, but it was not her concern at the moment. It reminded her of terrible times in her past. Her concern was getting the baby to a safe and unlikely refuge—a place she would be safe from the evil pursuing her. She turned back to the portal, holding her palm out, the blackness seemingly retracted into her hand. She turned her sparkling citrus green eyes to the black street ahead of her. She tried to shield the child from the rain as much as she could as she darted out into the street.
Sounds of screeching breaks filled the air. She was past one lane, then a second; inches from the odd vehicles. Large metal objects were shooting towards her at high speed. She turned on her heels with the reflexes of a cat, and held her hand out in the universal gesture of stop. The vehicle was stopped a little too abruptly as if some type of shield stopped it from going any farther. The driver shot her a look of terror. The woman put her hand down and ran the remaining distance to the other side of the street without incident. The car had almost collided with her and the small child she carried in her sweating arms. They were coming for her. There was a small, old building amidst the many so tall and new. It was adorned with a high steeple crowned by a cross. It seemed like a building from years passed, plopped haphazardly among the tall radio towers, offices, and apartments. The woman made for this building as her life depended on it. She could feel a sickness inside her rising to the brink of destruction. Evil was coming. The woman would not give up. This evil would not find her! She wouldn’t let it. The baby began to cry again—water in her deep blue eyes. The woman took her finger and wiped the child’s eyes. She sang a melody that she knew the child would never forget. An ancient lullaby written as her kingdom fell. The child had a destiny, and the evil sought to destroy the last traces of it—sought to destroy the reality that these people in their innocence depended on every waking moment. The woman was plagued by dizziness, she felt the aversion to the evil in the pit of her stomach—too close. There would be no time to make sure the child was safe. If the woman did not leave now there would be no chance for the child to escape. In spite of the rain, the woman had no choice but to leave the child as it was, and hope to the heavens
above that she be protected by the spirits that loved her, and by the people of the time who knew nothing. The woman disappeared—simply gone, as if she had never been there. The child lay on the cement screaming and squirming in protest as only a moment ago, she had been suspended in the warm, comforting arms of the strange woman. Inside the dry and safe atmosphere of the church a young woman sat in the empty pews praying to the heavens. She was distracted by a strange noise outside the door. She looked up from her prayers, unable to cope with this annoyance any longer. She went to the doors of the church and looked outside. Instantly her eyes fell to the sidewalk. Her eyes took the shine of astonished horror as she gathered up the crying child. Immediately she took the child into the church and looked at it. She heard strange whispers throughout her head as she held the child. Lillian…if this was what was in her head it would have to be what the child was called. She seemed so angelic lying in her arms, so easily comforted merely by being held. Her tiny pale face was framed by golden ringlets and she looked up at the woman curiously with eyes as blue as the purest sapphires. The woman smiled softly as she took the child to the priests to help her get the child warm and dry. She took a moment to realize how real this was, the child was more beautiful than any infant she had ever laid eyes upon. What a marvel it was—this tiny angel in her arms. No, Kara would not let this child from her grasp. She would care for and nurture her until she became the blooming women who would go out and make her way in the world. This would be her contribution to society. She had always wanted a child of her own, and now one had been handed to her by God. Delivered straight to her arms, and no one elses.
In the alley the cat cautiously crawled out from it’s hiding place. How strange this curious woman, who seemed in a terrible hurry to relieve herself of the screaming package she carried. The cat decided it was safe and returned cautiously to pick at the trash once more. Another crashing sound drove the cat instantly back to its refuge, where it watched five dark figures appear. Their luminescent faces seemed to shine in the lights of the passing cars. “She moved again.” “Damon, I do not like this ridiculous chase, why can’t you just catch her?” “I can’t control the way she moves.” “Where has she gone this time?” “Back to the 1800s, I believe.” “We were just there!” “Idiot…” one of the others remarked. “Baldev, it is not of your business…let us follow her again...” “Odd…” “Something else to say then Damon?” Narmer paused as he turned to him—just waiting for him to say something that challenged his command. “She stayed here longer then the others.” “You incoherent fool! If you have nothing intelligent to say, then don’t say anything. She has the girl! Wherever she goes we must follow, until we catch her. Then if we did catch her…the girl is a baby we can just as easily raise her ourselves, then when she is of age she’ll have no problems with your plans my lord.” Baldev said as the empty blackness encircled them.
“Indeed. My trophy.” Their vixen watched them reenter the portal from the Limbo of the 1800s. She had fooled them for now. She knew however that one day, years from the time she had left the child—she would no longer be able to run from them. No longer would she be able to shield her from their sight. They would discover that they had been tricked. She knew, however, that she must keep this illusion they followed going for as long as she could. Protect the girl. Protect the jewel that held the key to the future of the world. No longer could she travel in the future, it would be too close to the young one, and as she grew, she herself would become even more identifiable through the fabric that shrouded the halls of time. The vixen only hoped in her heart of hearts that when the time came, the child would learn what she needed to know quickly, and not be lost to the persuasions of the time she was in. Chapter 2 Many Years Later A girl sat at her desk shivering, though it wasn’t cold at all. The apartment was actually a very comfortable temperature. She was a teenage girl; a junior in high school. The screen in front of her glowed in the darkness of the night. The sound of breathing could be heard from the top of the bunk bed behind her. This noise only caused her to be much more on edge. Her hands flew across the keys of the keyboard with the speed of one deeply disturbed. Amazingly, the quick tapping sound did not alarm the sleeping babe in the
bunk on top. Bullets of sweat rolled down her back as her intense blue eyes focused on the computer diary she kept. She made a quick glance to the clock on the nightstand beside the bed. It’s red digits read five-thirty. On a normal night she would be in bed sleeping softly, her golden tresses scattered around her face in a pleasant manner. However, for the past thirty nights, nothing of the sort had occurred. Terrible nightmares plagued her dreams—this being the thirtieth night of this disturbing occurrence. Lilly was beginning to question her sanity. After all, the same nightmare every night for thirty nights could easily cause a person to go insane—if one already wasn’t. Of course, Lilly wouldn’t dare telling anyone about them, not even her best friend. Being the head cheerleader and having nightmares like these just wasn’t good for one’s reputation. In the room across the hall her adoptive mother stirred. She looked at her own clock and crawled out of bed. Lilly could hear the wretched squeak of the faucet being turned on, and the sound of the water crashing against the porcelain. She knew her mom was getting ready for work. Lilly wished she could take a shower right now, but she was much too engaged in her dialogue with the indifferent machine, feeling the pressure of her fear constantly as opposed to randomly popping up every hour or so. At the beginning of the month the fear had been relaxed, but the same nightmare night after night can turn out to be extremely taxing. An hour passed. Lilly’s fingers were slowing. Her diatribe was coming to a close. She felt a little better, and derived a little comfort from it. However, it was only a machine. What comfort could it truly bring her? She longed for Max, or even her bestfriend Clint , to hold her shaking form in his arms and tell her everything would be all
right. No one knew anything about the nightmares but her. What would they all think if she were to tell them she was going nuts? Most likely, Max, her sports-star boyfriend, would break up with her. Her cheerleading friends would shun her to the point where being on the cheerleading squad would become pointless, and she would be the laughing stock of the entire school. She did not want to end up like her cousin, the nerd that nobody talked to. At least she knew Clint would always be there for her—he had been ever since they were diaper-mates. He was the only stable foundation she had in her life. She looked at the clock again, and the window with the view of the ever lightening twilight sky. Six-fifteen, was the number she read as she heard the knock on the front door of the apartment. She cursed at herself as she closed the diary and shut the machine down. Her soft feet padded down the hall towards the doorway. She opened the door and stepped aside to allow Clint to enter. He was all ready for school, hair all gelled, outfit perfectly black. “Wow Lilly, you look like shit.” She shot him a murderous look in return. “Clint you look perfectly spooky,” her mother said, looking on from the kitchen, “Feel free to help yourself to the coffee son. Lilly, you’re awake…you seem to be turning over a new leaf sweetheart.” Kara smiled. “Thanks Mrs. Lionne…don’t mind if I do. Your daughter doesn’t look quite ready yet.” He smiled at Lilly’s sneering face as he made his way towards the kitchen. She turned to face her mother, who held her thermos in hand, and had her suit perfectly pressed. She was ready to walk out the door. “Lilly, dear, I’m sorry I have to go to work early. Can you take care of Rachel?”
“I always do…” Lilly said annoyed. “Thanks sweetheart. You’re a gem.” She smiled as she walked out the open door. Lilly slammed it behind her. “What’s eating you?” Clint asked, sipping his coffee as he sat in the seat of the kitchen table facing the door. “Oh shut up and leave me alone.” Lilly remarked, storming down the hallway back to her room and the bathroom inside it. She lived in a high quality apartment where every bedroom had its own bath. Their apartment was two bedrooms, and it was her, her sister and her mother who occupied it. Clint watched curiously as she left the room, Lilly didn’t care. She grabbed the pile of black clothes from her dresser and stormed towards the bathroom. She slammed that door too. Rachel moved in the bed above and to the right of the door. She made a small moan as she moseyed down the ladder to the floor below. Lilly stepped into the shower after removing her clothes, instantly recognizing that the water was freezing cold, despite the fact she had turned the hot water all the way up. At this point she was too tired to care. She shivered as she stepped out, noticing in the mirror her lips were purple and her skin had a bluish tint to it. Lilly shook her head—her shower was never cold. She was imagining all of it, she thought as she dressed herself in her black pants and a black corset top. She fumbled through the supplies on the counter, finding her toothbrush and toothpaste. She brushed her teeth like normal, after rinsing she looked with droopy eyes to the mirror. She yelped in surprise at the person standing behind her.
She spun around to face nothingness. She turned back to the mirror to see that same image. It was a beautiful girl of maybe twenty-six years of age, her hair a mass of mahogany curls that fell down the length of her back. Her eyes implored Lilly to remember something she couldn’t. The natural tan of her skin stood in stark contrast to Lilly’s own paleness. Lilly stared at her in horror until she melted away and was replaced by Clint who stared at her worriedly. “Lilly. What the hell is wrong with you?” she turned to face him with irritation. “Shut-Up” she remarked as she composed herself. She took to applying her makeup. A little heavy on the eye shadow and liner, considering this to be the spookiest day of the year. She turned to face Clint and he smiled and clapped. “Awesome look Lil’, you always look best on Halloween.” For the moment thoughts of her nightmares were eradicated from her mind. She tied the golden waves of her hair back with a black ribbon and added lipstick the color of blood to complete the look. Halloween had always been her favorite holiday. “You really think so?” she said as she turned to him once again. She got no answer from him as Rachel’s face appeared from behind Clint’s leg as she screamed, it was a playful scream. Lilly ran after her as Clint stepped aside and they ran around the room. Lilly finally tackled her pinning her to the ground. Rachel’s chiming laughter filled the small room as Lilly tickled up and down her ribs. “Seriously girls; is this really becoming of ladies?” Clint asked, shaking his head mockingly as he stared at the girls with his solid brown eyes. The ladies looked at each other then jumped up and tackled Clint.
“Ah! I surrender! I surrender! Come on, Dustin and Melissa are going to wonder what happened to us.” Rachel jumped up, the energetic four-year-old she was, dressed as a princess for Halloween. Clint stood up and held out his hand to help Lilly up as well. “Do I look good too?” Rachel implored him. He smiled down at her, picked her up, and swirled her around the room, barely avoiding Lilly’s face. “You look just like a little princess.” Clint responded. Lilly smiled with inward pride, the dress being sewn exclusively by her. He held her in his arms now as Lilly strolled towards the door, grabbing her backpack from the chair. “Come on little princess. Let’s not keep queen Lilly waiting.” Lilly strolled through the door before looking back and sticking her tongue out at Clint. “I’m not a queen.” Lilly shot back. “But you might as well be.” He countered, her only reply was the frown of annoyance on her face. He was right in a way, she was probably the single most popular girl in the school. The fact that she kept friends outside of the popular crowd was a constant annoyance to some of her friends. As they passed Clint’s door, his mom wheeled out their bikes, and looked instantly to Lilly. “My goodness!” Clint’s mom remarked as he burst out laughing. “It’s all right, Mrs. Hendrick, its only make-up.” “Of course it is dear,” she smiled as she gave Lilly her bike. Quickly and playfully Lilly snatched the tiara off Rachel’s head. “Hey!” Rachel cried, grabbing at it while Lilly held it out of reach. Lilly smiled and placed the tiara into Rachel’s miniature backpack.
“When you get to school, you can put it back on.” she said with the tender loving of an older sister. Often their mother was too busy to take care of Rachel, so Lilly had to take on the job. For all this Rachel adored Lilly just as much as she did her mother. It was Lilly who was often stuck with taking care of her. Their mother had an important job, she couldn't always get out of it and sometimes they kept her late. When Rachel was sad, it was Lilly who baked her cookies to make her feel better. She smiled down at her angelic little face, seeing her sad little expression turn happy once more. “Crap, I forgot to lock the door!” Lilly exclaimed suddenly remembering. “That can’t be good.” Clint remarked. His mother had closed the door at this point. He smiled playfully at her as she hurried down the hall again to lock the door. Lilly slipped the key in the lock, when she felt a breeze disturb her hair. She looked up hearing a strange melody playing in her ears. She looked down the opposite hallway, towards the window with its tropical plant sitting upon the sill. There again was the red haired woman. It seemed Lilly was being haunted by some ghost. She felt a hand upon her shoulder and spun to see Clint. “You coming?” The music was gone. Lilly looked back down the hall but saw only the plant on the windowsill, and the sky that was gradually changing from dawn-gray to morningblue. She turned back to Clint, ridding herself of the curious feeling inside her. The feeling of something forgotten something buried deep inside her soul. It was like she knew the music, but didn't at the same time. “You didn’t leave Rachel alone there did you?” “No. She’s with Dustin and Melissa.”
“All right.” They walked together down the hall in silence, Lilly still feeling eyes upon her. They turned the corner to find their younger friends there. Melissa was kneeling next to Rachel telling her how pretty she looked in her costume. That smile of pride lit Lilly’s face again as she listened to Melissa’s compliments. Dustin stood with his and Melissa’s bikes propped against his hip. He was smiling at Melissa, the non-secret secret that he had a crush on her being quite clear to the onlookers. It was Dustin’s shyness around girls that prevented him from asking her out. Both Clint and Lilly’s bikes were leaning against the opposite wall. Clint lifted Lilly’s bike and passed the handles to her so that he might reach his own. Lilly leaned the bike against her hip as she strapped the helmet on Rachel’s head. Dustin and Melissa were already wearing their helmets. She turned around to watch Clint roll his helmet down his arm until it landed on his head. "Show off." Lilly sneered. He stuck his tongue out at her, and she did it back. His arm moved like a dart for the tail of the ribbon in Lilly’s hair. He had the ribbon in his hand in a matter of seconds and was running down the hall with it as Lilly’s hair fell against her shoulders. Her bike fell to the floor as she ran after him. Melissa and Dustin laughed merrily, Rachel was examining a ladybug crawling up the wall oblivious to this chase. Out into the hall stepped a small, skinny girl with her dark blond hair short cropped to her face, and her huge glasses obscuring her eyes. She was a bookworm, but she couldn't even claim the hot librarian look. She was ugly, the butt of so many in the popular crowd's pranks.
“Ah!” Clint yelped as he ran right into her. Lilly’s cousin was pinned against the wall, and her glasses fell down her nose. Lilly picked up the ribbon from the floor smug about nabbing Clint—even if it hadn’t been quite fair. “Sorry Tina,” he mumbled, pouting at Lilly rather than looking at the bookworm. She adjusted her glasses, pushing the bridge back up her nose, "Can we stop playing games? I don't want to be late for school." "Oh. Heaven forbid Tina is late for school." Clint said mockingly. He turned back to Lilly as she replaced the ribbon. “You know Lil’ you look better without the ribbon.” He said thoughtfully. “Whatever,” she said turning back around to stick her tongue back out at him as they returned to their friends. They retrieved their bikes and proceeded towards the elevator. Lilly looked around at her friends as she waited impatiently for the elevator to arrive. Dustin wore his trademark camouflage gear which wasn’t any huge change from the normal. He was about average size, well built, with short cropped brown hair, and brown eyes. Melissa was wearing an orange silk, button-up top that was too small for her, along with tight black pants to match. She wore pumpkin earrings which Rachel admired avidly. Dustin noticed the outfit that Melissa wore all too well. Each and every curve of her body stood prominently displayed by the skintight outfit. He also noticed the black scrunchie in her shoulder dark brown hair. He wanted to pull that scrunchie from her hair, she always wore her hair that way. For once he wished he could see it down. He was glad Melissa was friends with Lilly; it was Lilly’s love for Halloween that inspired her to
dress the way she did. Melissa was of puerto-rican decent and she had an exotic beauty to her that Dustin found irresistable. Ding! The elevator made its stop and the mirrored doors greeted them. Lilly screamed the instant they opened, and she jumped back into Melissa. There was a loud thud as they fell to the floor. Clint caught Lilly’s bike before it crashed down on little Rachel. “Jeses Lilly!” Melissa yelped. "Sorry, I didn't mean to." Clint leaned over to Dustin and whispered in his ear. "She's got a bad case of the jitters today." "Well that’s apparent.” “Hey! I thought I saw something okay!” She stated indignantly looking up to see the woman gone yet again. “You’re acting really strange Lilly…” Dustin stated worriedly. He gave her a strange look that Lilly didn’t approve of at all. No matter what everyone else thought, she wasn’t going crazy! She wouldn’t let herself go crazy! Yet even as she had those thoughts she heard that same bout of haunting music, which had so perturbed her before. She spun around unwittingly to see Rachel humming that tune as she watched the ladybug crawl around on her tiny little hand. Lilly stared at her, horrified that the music was coming from the mouth of her own sister. Thankfully nobody noticed the look she quickly hid as they boarded the elevator. "I'm just not feeling like myself today is all," she muttered, disconcertedly. Lilly grabbed at Rachel’s little hand as emotional support not for the child, but for herself. She
let the comfort of the little hand encapsulated by her own calm the strings in her heart played by her fear. “You’ve been having nightmares haven’t you?” Clint asked, starring at her accusingly as the door closed and Tina pushed the buttons. Lilly glared at him. “I’m too old to have nightmares,” she stated a little too defensively. “Then tell me Lilly, why are there bags under your eyes? Your make-up couldn’t hide that when I saw you this morning. Not to mention, you can’t really hide those bloodcurdling screams in the middle of the night.” “Lilly’s the one who’s been doing that? Holy shit! I had no idea anyone could scream that loud, I’m surprised you haven’t woken anyone in your apartment with it.” “Excuse me. There is a little girl in the elevator. Could you try not to swear? Besides my mom takes drugs to sleep, and Rachel could sleep through a train wreck in her own bedroom.” “Well you’ve been waking me up.” Dustin remarked. DING! The elevator sounded as the doors opened. It was Tina who was out first, wheeling her bike down to the main doors, sending a quick glance to the single main floor apartment as a tall boy with an untamed mass of brown hair on his head. He was a little too thin and wore glasses that made him look like the nerd he was. His fierce eyebrows fit his annoying personality quite nicely. Everyone knew Simon, the spoiled brat who had an ego that exceeded the thirty floors of their apartment building. He watched as Lilly passed, the crush he had on her was no secret either. Then again there weren't many people in the school who didn't want Lilly she was the queen of the high school class.
Lilly lifted Rachel into the child seat secured to the back of her bike then straddled the seat with a smirk on her face. Simon had already turned away and wasn’t paying attention. She began to pedal, and swerved just in time to avoid crashing into Simon. Lilly nearly ran into Tina, but using her skill she avoided any collision whatsoever. She laughed as Simon stumbled back into the wall. "Hey! No riding in the halls!" Simon yelled in his annoying voice. Lilly ignored him entirely as she passed through the sliding doors already triggered by Tina. As Tina got outside she finally mounted her bike and peddled quickly to catch up with the others. They took the paved shortcut through the forest that edged the park next door. The rest of the forest spread for miles more up a beautiful expanse of mountains. In the morning, the sunlight just barely pierced the fog that spread across the ground like a ghostly blanket. They went this way not only because it was shorter but also because it was beautiful. The dew played on the leaves, and occasionally made colorful reflections on the cement. At the very center of this path through the forest, there was a paved clearing surrounded by street lights and benches. The focal point of this being the giant fountain. The group was slowly gaining on this area. Flashes through Lilly’s head paralyzed her memory. Instead of light, she saw the darkness, with pinpoints of light surrounding her where the streetlamps would normally be. She shivered slightly, telling herself the nightmares meant nothing, and she looked to the calming waters of the fountain as they reached it. She swung the bike sideways and put the breaks on as fast as she could. There was something there in the trees and she knew it. Rachel squealed in fear at the sudden
stop, and the others stopped beside her worried and concerned at the quick stop, and Rachel’s sudden shriek. They were almost as protective of Rachel as Lilly was. In the waters Lilly saw something strange, something that shouldn’t have been there. Through the reflection of the trees she saw a shadow, a shadow that stared straight at her, with curiosity that frightened her deeply, not knowing the identity of this thing. All Lilly could see was its ghostly face, and the eyes, that deep green of emerald. The rest of it was clothed in black, and the trees hid it well. But just as the other images, it disappeared quickly. The difference was this time she saw the apparition disappear. It was a blurry flash and Lilly’s eyes couldn’t follow it. She sat there staring at the empty air now, trying to remember anything in her studies that might be able to move as quick as that. "Lilly! Are you okay?" Clint asked, stopping right beside her. Lilly started as she turned to him. He noticed how she didn’t exactly look directly at him, and how her face seemed paler than usual, as if she had just seen a ghost, or was deathly ill. She stared at him with those ocean blue eyes of hers and he knew something was deathly wrong. He didn’t have time to say anything of it as Melissa and Dustin pulled up next to them. "Lilly why'd you stop so quick, you nearly ran into the fountain!" Dustin remarked. "And with Rachel on your bike!" Melissa chimed worriedly. "Jese Lilly! You scared the bejeezes out of us." Dustin yelped merely to enhance his point. Yet as she stared at Clint she knew he saw something else, he had known her too long not to. She wanted to tell him what was happening, but she found her voice was just not there. The sight of this thing she knew was real, she knew somehow it wasn’t an
illusion, yet the possibility of it really being there denied all she knew of reason. Whatever it was had shaken her soul in such a deep manner that she found no way to put it into words. She could sense something about this form that hid in the shadows. She sensed, however strange it seemed…evil. "Lilly! Talk to us!" Melissa griped. "Lilly, are you okay?" Dustin's voice demanded forcefully. She suddenly realized that they didn't know what was going on. They hadn’t seen it, she turned to look at Rachel’s face, flushed with fear. Yet in Rachel’s eyes too she saw the same knowing as in Clint’s. “You saw it too…” Lilly whispered to her. The little one shook her head with her straight white blond hair that went past her shoulders flying about wildly. “Felt,” she replied secretively. “Lilly!” Clint yelled, grabbing her shoulders as his feet on the ground kept him in place. "I…I think so" She managed to speak audibly to the rest of them. Melissa let out a sigh of relief, and Clint gave her a look that bored through her with his strict worry. "Lilly, don't do that again. Maybe you should go home sick," Melissa had covered up that sigh with a new expression, sensing something that was not right with her. "Lilly what is it?" "There was…a thing…" "A thing, well that describes a lot." Clint said sarcastically. "God Clint could you shut up for one minute? Sheesh let Lilly tell us what she saw!"
"No it's okay I'm fine" she said, shaking herself before she admitted to them something that would require them to question her sanity. "Are you sure?" Melissa asked. "Yeah I'm fine," she answered, "Now let's hurry before we're late for school" Clint gave her an odd stare as the rest of them followed her away. Eventually he too started up again, but he knew something was wrong with her. Sometimes she wondered if he didn’t know her better than she knew herself. She walked into the school moments later, after parking and locking her bike. Clint and Lilly walked Rachel to the playground where the preschoolers met in the morning, but the only thing on her mind was that dark shadow of evil. Clint knew something was wrong, but the others were oblivious to it. "I have to stop at the office and get Mr. Hickson’s mail" she said with a tone of denigration as she left him. “All right Lilly, but we have to talk later.” “Okay, after school.” “Fine.” They parted as Lilly set on the long trek to get to the seventh floor office. Their school was unique in having eight floors The first floor had the pool, main office, and preschoolers. The second contained the gym and grades kindergarden through third. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade were on the third floor—seventh, eighth on the fourth—and then four separate floors for ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. Lilly had to walk up seven flights of stairs to get to the eleventh grade office. She asked the secretary there for the mail for Mr. Hickson who was her first period teacher. It was her daily ritual to get
his mail as she was one of the few dependable people in the science class. The secretary handed it to her and Lilly thanked her as she turned. There the eyes of another caught her own. He eyed her curiously for a moment longer than Lilly liked. The man walked in. He was dressed in a black suit, and had a long black cloak on. Something about him was strange, maybe it was the gleaming white of his skin, or the black gloves he wore on his hand. Or the way he stared at her with piercing, vibrantly green eyes. He reminded her of the shadow, but then it was Halloween, even some of the teachers were dressed up. Either way he gave her the creeps. "Bye!" She said to the secretary hurrying out the door as fast as was humanly possible. The guy was awful, just in the manner he looked at her. She didn't want to be anywhere near him. The secretary looked at her puzzled, as normally she at least gave her a chance to return the comment. Today she did not. No pleasantries were exchanged Lilly ran away. She arrived at first hour just as the bell rang and dropped the mail on the teachers desk as she walked to her seat. She sat down, the boy who sat across from her staring at her longingly. He freaked her out too. Weirdo, you’d think he’d stop looking at her that way after four years of the answer being no. He just couldn’t take a hint. She focused in on the television morning announcements “You’ll all be pleased to hear that Halloween will not be cancelled. Despite the rash of violent crime, however, there are some advisories out to all those girls out there. Police strongly advise that all girls stay in large
groups tonight, and don’t wander off alone under any circumstances. Also, do not walk the path through the…” The boy trailed off as someone that Lilly actually recognized ran onto the screen. Tim and Brian, Tim being a junior like Lilly, and Brian being a senior like her boyfriend Max. Both were two of Max’s acolytes, and followers. The usual anchors were surprised at this sudden intrusion on their show. Lilly smiled and shook her head as the events played out on the screen. “Yo! There’s gunna be a jammin’ party at the new club, Thai Palms across from Tower in the Park Apartment Complex for high schoolers tonight,” “Yeah! It’s put on by our lovely and luscious head cheerleader Lilly Lionne. Her being the most popular girl in the school, if you’re not at the party then…” “You must really suck.” Tim finished for Brian. Lilly laughed at their special emphasis on the part where they called her lovely and luscious. She watched Brian tap Tim on the shoulder, the two regular boys had run off to inform security. “Dude, we better go, I think security’s coming after us.” Brian whispered to his comrade. Tim nodded in reply, then turned back to his vast audience. “See ya there, if you’re cool that is…Geeks turned away at the door” The two boys waved and ran the other way off the screen. The security guard followed them. “You brat’s get back here!!!” He yelled at the two delinquents.
The next thing anyone knew the screen turned to static after a loud crash. The entire school was in an uproar of laughter. The teachers tried in vain to calm everyone for the rest of the class but it was to no avail. The warning was forgotten. DING!!!!! The bell rang and the class flooded out into the hallway. Lilly followed slowly shaking her head and laughing. Her head was down as her arm was grabbed and she found herself against a locker, someone’s lips locked to her own. She let him kiss her, she let him comfort her. As his hands began to travel down her side she began to resist. “Max!” she said grabbing his hands and pushing him away. “Oh come on Lilly, I can’t help it, it’s just the way you’re dressed today, it really turns me on. You know that.” He brushed her hair out of the way and leaned in to kiss her again. She wouldn’t let him. “Stop it Max!” “Lilly! I’m just trying to have a little fun!” “I’m not in the mood” “Awww, how’d you like that thing on the news?” Lilly laughed in reply. “I found it juvenille but funny.” “It turns me on when you use big words.” He said, trying to kiss her again. She put her hand up in front of her face. “Uh Uh.” She remarked, watching Tim and Brian come running at them down the hall. They had seen the little argument go on between them. “Lilly what’s with you?” Tim remarked as he joined them.
“Hey whatever, I’m going to second period, whether you guys go or not is your business.” She said, giving Max a quick kiss on the cheek as she did so. Tim and Brian gave Max a questioning look. “Boy she’s trippin’” “Tell me about it…anyway, Tim, did you get them?” Max said turning to Tim. “You bet I did.” “Good stuff dude, let’s go blow us up some toilets!” Lilly felt Brian’s eyes on her as she walked down the hall before he turned and ran off with the rest of them. It was surprising to Lilly that Max was so thick-headed he had never known that anything had gone on between them. Once when Max was on vacation Brian had come over to help her with her math homework and they had ended up making out on the couch. Max never knew. Brian was probably the smartest person in the popular crowd, Tim was just another idiot who did what Max told him to. Brian was the one actually planning things out, it was no great feat for him to keep that secret from Max. The truth was if Max wasn’t such a high status person Lilly never would still be going out with him. They had been going out for two years, and everyone thought that they would eventually get married. Lilly didn’t want to marry a thick-headed imbecile, but she didn’t want to lose her status either. So she remained with him, just riding the wave of popularity until it finally crashed against that hard jagged cliff. She hurried down the remainder of the hall as the late bell rang, and she was pronounced late for class. Chapter 3
The room was dark, though it didn’t surprise her. Mr. Thompson was a strange teacher no one could deny that fact. The desks were even in a strange arrangement. Arranged in a horseshoe around the oddly shaped room. She knocked on the door without hesitation, knowing from a barely detectable glow that despite the dark the class was still in there. The door opened as if on it’s own, but Lilly didn’t hesitate as she walked in. She began to think maybe she should have as she was pelted with small bits of foam. “Hey!” she yelped in surprise. The class laughed in response. “You’re late.” He said in a mockingly robotic voice. Lilly looked up at him he stood rigid, a Nerf gun clasped in his hands. He wore a black robe and a glow in the dark alien mask. The class continued to laugh, and Lilly too joined the merriment. Mr. Thompson looked ridiculous! “Sorry Mr. Thompson, boy trouble.” He nodded in reply looking down at his attendance sheet after raising the mask above his slightly aged face. “Your group can catch you up on the assignment there, you can go with group three.” He pointed to the back right corner. Against the cabinet behind the table leaned a statue-like man, Lilly recognized him as the same man she had seen earlier in the office and she stared at him as he stared at her. He made her uneasy, almost as if he was probing her with invisible fingers. “Who the hell is that?” she said staring at him. The people nearest to him turned around and scooted their chairs away, obviously they hadn’t known he was there. “Oh, him, sorry forgot to mention him, he’s just some student teacher or observer or something that the administration stuck me with today.”
“You sure he’s not here to spy on you and make sure the school doesn’t burn down with your candles?” one of the students asked humorously. Lilly watched Mr. Thompson shrug. “Could be.” The guy in the corner didn’t move he was a marble statue. “Enough chattering get to work.” Lilly cautiously moved to take a seat on the side of the table facing the file cabinet. She turned to face her group, keeping the corner of her eye on the dark man in the corner. “So what are we doing?” “Well we wrote about the most terrifying true experience we ever had, now we’re discussing who will read theirs to the class out loud.” Craig told her. Craig was one of Max’s friends, and Lilly knew his antics well. The other two people in her group included D.J. whose head was currently on the desk as he slept indifferent to the conversation. DJ always reminded her of a bear, his dark skin and deepset eyes added to that image, and he was always sleeping in class. The last group member was one of Lilly’s good friend’s Candi, also on the cheerleading squad. “Think you can come up with anything Lilly? So far we’re going with Craig’s killer midget story, but I seriously think that’s really stupid.” “Hey! It’s not stupid! It really happened, those killer midgets were really terrifying.” She smiled pityingly to Candi. “I think I have something just a little better then that, and more believable too.” For a moment Lilly thought back on that comment. What did she expect to tell after all, what in her wanted her to tell her nightmares. She knew she had to do it after telling them that she had something better. Truthfully that was the only terrifying thing that had
happened to her ever. That and the strange ghostly red-head she’d been seeing all morning. Her eyes snapped to the statue in the corner, he had moved. His eyebrow was raised. It was the first movement Lilly had seen out of him. He stared at her, she felt as if he was invading her very mind, and she threw up a mental shield to her thoughts without even thinking about it. After all, nobody really could read your mind. “Lilly, you okay? Focus here…” she was snapped back to reality, and she turned to Candi. “I’m fine” she mumbled in reply. Candi stared at her, almost disbelieving, but she shook it off. “Here write a few main points on this piece of paper, by the way what’s it about?” She said innocently handing Lilly the piece of paper and pencil. Oddly enough Lilly felt the words weren’t really coming from Candi. She felt as if everyone was staring at her waiting for her reply. She felt as if she were on an auctioneer’s stand, being the priceless item that was to be auctioned off. Lilly didn’t like this feeling. She turned her eyes to the paper. “Some nightmare that’s been bugging me lately” she mumbled once again. “Nightmare?! How exciting is a nightmare?” Craig demanded in a much more audible voice. Lilly felt like wringing his neck. She felt strongly that she didn’t want this to be known yet she knew she expected to present it to the class. Moments later Mr. Thompson came to them. “Have you guys decided who will present theirs?” he asked. Lilly found herself staring at the strange man leaning against the cabinet. His head was fully turned towards them now, he was watching their group, and he was watching her, Lilly was sure of it.
“No.” Craig said stubbornly “Yes we have, shut up Craig!” “He moved.” Lilly said, ignoring the both of them. “No really? Normal people do move occasionally.” Craig said sarcastically. “He didn’t move before.” “Whatever…we’re doing my story Mr. T.” “No we aren’t! We’re doing Lilly’s nightmare!” Lilly wanted everyone to shut up. She felt molested by various demons, and she was breaking out into a cold sweat. “No! We’re doing…” Lilly’s eyes snapped to DJ’s arm as it shot out from under his head and grabbed Craig’s paper. He lay his arms down once again, knowing that Craig could not get at it. Lilly stared at DJ knowing that rarely would he move while he was sleeping. True, the squabble between Candi and Craig would have been quite an annoyance to someone trying to sleep, but Lilly still wasn’t buying it. She didn’t trust her own feelings, causing discord in her innermost soul. “See Mr. T? We’re doing Lilly’s nightmare.” Candi stated giving him a sweet smile, and Craig a negative disapproving look. “Gotcha” Mr. Thompson said, slightly confused by the strange argument, and Lilly’s strange way of taking it. The readings of the other groups faded into nothingness in Lilly’s indifferent ears as she stared at the monster leaning against the cabinet. One person talked about getting lost in an airport as a kid, another talked about seeing his dead grandfather in his coffin. Lilly didn't care, she watched the man as inconspicuously as she could. His head was turned away from her, but Lilly knew the instant she turned her back he would watch her.
She felt malice from him, and did not understand the meaning of anything going on around her. She felt a poke in the shoulder. “Lilly, it’s your turn…” Candi whispered to her. Lilly snapped out of her torpor. “What? I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.” “We can tell” Simon blurted. “Shut up Simon, no one cares for your idiotic comments” Jordan said giving him a hateful stare. Jordan was one of Clint's really close friends. “I still say we shoulda done the one about killer midgets.” Craig stated, defiantly placing his arms across his chest. Lilly turned and stood up slowly, hating to turn her back to the statue leaning against the cabinet. She knew his eyes were on her now, his face lifted from it’s seeming torpor of indifference. Lilly was truthfully scared to death though she knew not what she was scared of. “We don’t have all day” Simon demanded. “Don’t make me hit you” Jordan rebutted. “Lilly you okay?” Candi whispered to her. No I’m not okay! Lilly wanted to scream it, but she knew she couldn’t and wouldn’t. “I guess you’ve all been wondering why I’ve been acting so strange lately.” Lilly finally forced out of her lungs. “Not really,” Simon said in interruption, “Ow!” he suddenly remarked as Jordan smacked him. Mr. Thompson was forced to send a frown in their direction. “Hey Mr. T! I warned him!”
“Just keep it civil.” Lilly ignored them, all of them. She knew what she was doing, and she knew that something was warning her not to do it, but she was doing it whether or not her feelings were true. “I haven’t had any real sleep at all this month. Every time I try to close my eyes and sleep I get these awful nightmares that refuse to let up," Lilly closed her eyes seeing everything just like she saw it every night, she tried not to let the tear fall from the corner of her eye, "I'm surrounded in darkness highlighted by a circle of lights that seem to be floating in the air. I can hear the sound of water falling softly nearby. I suddenly find myself in a strange dress and the ground underneath me turns to grass, but red grass. There's people screaming at me and then out of the darkness a man appears, his skin is white as snow, his hair is jet black, and he has fangs in place of canines. He stares at me, he gives me an evil grin, and I scream, the lights around me burst and I can hear glass breaking, I can see horrible things but I never remember them when I wake up, screaming and sweating profusely. Nothing this month has gone right for me, it seems to me my entire world is unraveling although that could merely be due to lack of sleep.” She gave a nervous laugh and opened her eyes. She shook something terrible, sweat dripped down her neck, and it made her shiver. The paper crinkled in her shaking hands. “Lilly are you alright?” Candi demanded, but Lilly hardly heard it. Alarms of evil sounded in her mind, she had done something wrong. Something was terribly wrong. Lilly was in trouble and she knew it, and she could do nothing about it. "Seriously? Dreams about vampires? How is that a true story? OW!" Simon remarked, moving away from Jordan this time. Mr. Thompson gave them a fiercer stare not noticing the state Lilly was in.
Her paper fluttered to the floor. She saw a flash of black cloth, and she saw the red-head. She saw the red-head shaking her full head of hair. “Lilly!” Jordan yelled. Candi screamed and moved away. D.J. had woken up at the sound of a foot landing right next to his arm. “Holy!” He remarked, awakened from his sleep of death. A loud thud sounded through the room, but it wasn’t Lilly hitting the floor. It was the observer, Lilly was now in his arms, and he was carrying her out the door. The door hit softly behind him. No one worried that the man might take her somewhere other then the office, it was the direction he was headed in. The class was in awe of the sudden movement he had made to keep Lilly from hitting the floor. No one had seen it, even Mr. Thompson stood his mouth to the floor, finally he shook off the shock and said something to the class. “Strange guy that one, he never even spoke a word to me, not even his name…” Jordan stared in horror at all these events. He had to tell Clint about this as soon as possible. He would definitely want to know this. Never had he seen anything like he had seen in the past hour, and he too was struck with a strange feeling akin to fear. Chapter 4 The chimes of invisible bells sounded and he watched as the people flooded into the halls. Like a sea of mindless lemmings. Amazing how much authority bells had in this time. It seemed everyone universally knew what the bells meant and so in this they did exactly what the bells told them to. He found it intriguingly silly that the peoples’ brains had decayed to that point.
He watched from his corner in the boxy room with tall ceilings and some strange type of floor. It was hard like wood, yet he knew it wasn’t wood. There was no way that this floor was wood. He watched her in secret as she left the medical quarters, it was his job, he had to keep an eye on her now that he knew her identity. It seemed to him, however, that she herself didn’t know who she was. Narmer would be thrilled to hear of his discoveries on this topic. He watched as she entered this room, with its countless stairs leading to countless floors. He scanned her mind for an instant, a single incoherent thought he gleaned from it. She was a cheerleader, whatever that was he did not know, she was looking for friends who weren’t really friends. He turned his eyes to these, Narmer might find them useful these people who fed like leeches on the the inequities of other students. These were the people who held the real power in the school, the top of the social ladder among the students. He found it ironic that the girl would become a part of this crowd. It also intrigued him that she was exactly the same as before, her eyes were still that impossible blue, her lips still red as rubies, and her hair, flowing down a bit shorter then before but still in golden waves that framed her face most beautifully. She wore it up now, in a black ribbon. The clothes she wore accented her hourglass figure that was just as perfect as the rest of her. Reading into the others he saw they knew nothing of how different she was, despite her outward beauty they didn’t know anything of who or what she was. She herself didn't know, it perplexed him as he stood there.
She was hungry, heading to a large room where they served food that was hardly edible. These were the only things he could glean from her mind. She sensed his presence as uneasiness inside her. She was locking his probes out unintentionally, he was incredulous that though she didn’t know anything else she could still keep him from reading her thoughts. She was conscious of the things going on around her, there was no doubt of that, but that did not invoke rebellion in her…instead there was fear. He found it incredibly strange these times the witch had brought her to. Stairs forcing you to walk in circles, and lives conforming to the sounds of bells. Indeed, strange in the most incredible way. She walked to these stairs and began to walk down them, towards the room the fetid smells were emanating from. She was frightened, she was shaking as a leaf in a thunderstorm. “Lilly!” a voice called from above on the steps. Looking up he saw the boy and found the likeness in him astounding. No. News of this would disturb his master even if the boy was only human. He now knew why the witch had brought her here. The reincarnation of those who lived with her before were here too, she had support, something to fall back on. From this young knight’s mind however he could decode anything he wanted without his presence there being noted. It seemed that as time went on the people became more stupid, all except her. Hearing her name again he noted how the witch had kept it the same, he wondered why she would choose to do this. Didn’t she know that would only make the girl easier to find? Or had her naming just been a random cooincidence, That would have to be a pretty big cooincidence. He wondered, why it had taken them so long if everything had been the same? He knew she was the one they were searching for
“God Lilly, I’ve been looking all over for you! Jordan met me in the hall between second and third period and told me what happened, and I got really worried when you didn’t meet me in front of the orchestra room on your way to gym.” Clint stated. Always looking out for her he was, yet he had no inkling of who he was. Reincarnation truly was a wondrous marvel, leaving the recipient mindless in the palm of fate. Still it would do him well to remember that Lillian had not been reincarnated, her memories were locked away, and with the right trigger, she was likely to remember it all. “Do Bass players get worried? I thought they just goofed off.” Her voice chimed as she smiled a smile he knew too well. “Generally.” He said smiling back as she began walking up the stairs again, trailing him by her side, and their watcher just a little ways behind. She couldn’t quite hear his footsteps, but he knew she sensed them. “I did go to gym, at the end of the period, to take a shower.” “You really worried me I was beginning to think you had disappeared off the face of the earth.” Their stalker smiled with how true the boy’s words seemed. “So did Jordan tell you what happened after I fainted?” Lilly’s voice chimed. The stalker was surprised, he was astonished Lilly didn’t know. He knew instantly that her mind had been blanketed by the terrible images Narmer sent her through time. He knew now how effective that tool had been, he had doubted its usefulness but he had been proved wrong and he admitted it. In no time did he sense the receiver of these nightmares till now, yet they had been to times in which she would have lived. The witch had shielded her mind from these things in the previous years, the years in which she would have been helpless. Too late to go back now, the key was lost to him besides.
“He said this really scary dude jumped over a table, and caught you before you smashed your head against the hard floor, and that he picked you up and carried you off to the nurse. He said Mr. Thompson was really stunned at how quick the guy had moved, boy what I would have given to see the look on his face.” It didn't matter, Narmer would destroy her anyway, he knew even now she would never submit to his control, but of course he could be wrong, these times certainly were strange. He laughed in a place where he assumed himself invisible, yet she heard it. She stopped instantly, bells of alarm ringing throughout her head, yes she had heard it. Clint was a few steps ahead of her before he realized. “Lilly? Are you alright?” She shrugged and quickly continued up past him. “Fine” “You sure?” “I said I’m fine didn’t I? Anyway, has anyone seen this guy since then?” “Yeah I saw him walking in the hall on my way to third period, boy does that dude need some mental help, he’s scary as hell, he’s got this strange walk, Like he owns the place or something. And he has like no emotion in his face whatsoever!” No emotion, it was true, all emotion had left him long ago. “Don’t you have third hour with Max?” the name made the stalker cringe. Jocky idiot boy not fit for the princess he used. Used for his own personal benefit, used as if she were a toy. Despicable specimen of the race of human beings. “Unfortunately yes, but he was late, as usual.” Not enough respect did he bestow on the young knight. Clint too recognized the inability in Max to do good. The potential
harmful danger that he could hold to Lilly, the threat he could pose. So very protective, and yet without the benefits that Lillian held, the boy was a puzzle to him. “How Late?” She asked. His head turned back to the jewel. She knew, she knew the circumstances, that Max was somehow connected with this dark frightening creature that to her knowledge had just come into appearance today. “About 5 minutes. Why? Is something wrong?” Clint did not recognize this danger, he did not have the nightmares, he had no knowledge of his former self, he was just a boy worried about his friend, and rightly so. “No it’s just…” they had reached their floor, he could see Max there, but Max could not detect him. Nobody could see the stalker, he hid in a world invisible to their eyes. “Lilly! I was looking for you” he said “Sure you were” Clint remarked poisonously. "Oh go find yourself some band geeks to play with." Max said derisively. Clint sneered, sending Lilly one last concerned look as he left. The stalker watched as Clint waved to Lilly and sat down by his friend, this Jordan. Their stalker went to the area besides the trash can and leaned, becoming visible to all. Listening through the din for the voices he knew so very well. So different from the others. Someone had gotten Lilly’s lunch for her, and she sat down to greedily gobble it with her hunger. The stalker scanned the minds of those around her. Candi, one of Lilly’s friends a complete and total airhead. Easily corruptible, she could be a very useful tool for Narmer. Emily, another airhead of a different caliber. She was bent on dreams of being more
popular than Lilly, she liked Max. He wasn’t sure how this could be but he didn’t care, she had set goals. She could not be as easily corrupted. Her mind wouldn’t take it so weak and fragile she was. As he went on to scan the minds of others he heard a sound that zapped his attention back to Lilly. She remembered! She remembered the song. She remembered the song of a time past, so ancient that it didn’t register anywhere in the entire world. So ancient that if written today it would be considered an original work. She knew he was watching, her mind felt his mind grasp hers. Her eyes opened and they zapped towards him in a flash. Even through his sunglasses she knew he was watching her, and he knew that this memory was not distinctly hers. He glanced around the room with his eyes keeping his head still, yet he saw no evidence of what he knew to be there. She was hiding somewhere here, he distinctly felt she was watching the both of them. The witch wanted to uncover old memories in the both of them. He would not be manipulated, and the girl had fear of going insane, denigrating all original thoughts that would lead her to truth. The witch was wasting her time. “Lilly!” Emily shouted at her from the other side of the table, trying to get her attention. She shook the sense of his eyes off, although she knew she couldn’t quite do it. Her mind told her that he was just a supervisor looking out at all the other kids. Her mind in this case was very wrong. “Oh sorry, I wasn’t really listening, what did you ask me?” She said turning her eyes back to her friends. “I asked what you were humming.” Emily said, edgy of how her friend was acting.
“Oh, I dunno, it’s been in my head all day though, it’s just kinda haunting me.” She answered. The witch, this wasn’t the only time she had tried this method to dig up the girls memories. “Witch” he whispered to the air. Answered he was by the notes of the music surrounding him as cloth. The witch tried ancient tricks, nothing would come of them. The times were too advanced for her own methods, the minds of today would not accept her tricks. “Lilly, what’s wrong? You look upset about something…” Candi said, trailing off. “I don’t know, I just need to sit down and think things over for a while. My head is swimming, but now I can’t even see what I’m swimming through.” She said, drifting off into her own little world. Her friends continued talking from that point on, but Lilly just sat there, thinking drifting, dead tired. She needed sleep, and he sensed in her mind that she had the intention of sleeping through her next two hours. Suddenly she stood up surprising her friends as she told them goodbye and strode towards him with her halfeaten lunch. Her eyes did not meet his as she neared the garbage cans. She dumped her trash in and stopped, looking up at him from her height of 5’3’’ to his height of 6’0’’. He had not expected this, her eyes burned into him with their sincerity and he looked down at her, noting her startled nature as she realized he truly was looking at her, and solely her. He knew he could not stand her gaze, too pure it was. He could not stay here. He had things to do people to see, namely Narmer, and with a final glance at her he turned, his cloak swirling at his heels as he moved away faster then she could ever hope to see.
Chapter 5 “Lilly! Are you alright?” Candi said running up to her, Emily close at her heels. She nodded in response, spooked to her inner core by the teacher she had meant to thank. “We saw that guy there, and it looked like he was ready to hurt you or something, he looked like he was so close to you!” Emily said. They were both breathless. “He spoke to me.” She said, dazed. “What?” Candi said. “He didn’t speak to anybody, not even Mr. Thompson! When he left with you he didn’t say anything just headed straight to the nurse. When you were gone he said, ‘Strange guy didn’t say a word to me, not even once.’ ” Emily said. she was still too startled to speak. “No he didn’t speak in that manner, his soul spoke.” “Lilly, you’re talking crazy!” “Lilly, that guy is weird he scares me, and half the student body, he even scares the weird kids. They’re convinced that he’s some kind of demon.” Candi added. “Yeah.” She answered still dazed by the encounter. “I’m gunna go to my class now, I’d rather go alone anyway, so I’ll see you guys later.” “Alright Lilly.” “Dustin will probably meet me, he has Military History up here.” “Alright” they said as she left them. Dustin didn’t meet her, in fact she avoided him. She felt like being alone.. She reached her desk she lay her head down and she slept and it was simple as that.
She was in a peaceful place encompassed by a thick mist you breathed in with every fiber and pore, it was as thick in your bones as in your heart. There was thick damp grass under her bare feet. Everything seemed out of focus and disjointed, yet it was much better then the nightmares, indeed, where were her nightmares, they had all gone into this strange mist. She saw several images, images that she didn’t understand. A smiling woman, with hair as gold as Lilly’s, and eyes like diamonds shining by the light of a sun that couldn’t be seen. A man with brown hair and a beard hugging her form, yet not her form. The form of her younger, and another with her. These faded quickly into one figure. They were standing together on a hill the moonlight filling the sky beyond them, and he held her in his arms. They were dancing to the music that ran ceaselessly through her head. For the first time in many weeks she felt warm and safe. It felt wonderful in comparison to the terror which plagued her soul. Perhaps this was the turning point. Perhaps her nightmares had been nothing but bad dreams. She welcomed this comfort with open arms despite the strange place they emulated. She stirred and awoke to find the sun beginning to set, and herself in one of the comfortable chaise lounges in the library. She had no idea as to what had brought her here, but for the moment she didn’t care. She was draped upon this chair as a rag doll, and there was a black blanket on top of her. “Ah, so you’ve awakened finally.” Ms. Whiplesome the librarian remarked as she peered through her spectacles. Lillian wiped the sleep from her face as she replied. “Yeah I’m sorry, what time is it?” “Around 5:00 sweetie,” “What?” she answered, suddenly awake and alarmed.
“You’ve been asleep quite a while hun’. Your friends were here a couple of hours ago, they told me to relay a couple of messages to you, which I have here. Mrs. Jones your gym teacher was her not long ago, none of us had the heart to wake you.” “How did I get here? Last thing I remember was falling asleep in fifth hour.” “That eludes us all dearie. After you confided in Mrs. Jones during the end of fourth hour, she tried to go to the administration to get you excused from the rest of the day. Though even before they had approved of it some strange student teacher had lifted you up out of your seat in fifth hour and brought you here. He was the one who laid you in the chair, and placed his cloak about you." She shivered in alarm at this new fact, yet for some reason it did not bother her to the extent that it should have. She owed a lot to this dark man. “What did my friends say?” she asked quietly getting up. “Well that nice fellow Clint, he came here, with, that boy, what’s his name?” “Max?” she asked, surprised. “Yeah that’s him, and Dustin, and his little friend, and that really nice girl Tina, Clint said that your bike was waiting for you downstairs when you decided to come to the party. He said your bag was in your locker and that He would take care of Rachel, the sweet little darling…” “Anything else?” “Yes, Candi was up here before your group was ready to head home, she said that your backpack was in your locker, and…” “I don’t really need my backpack…oh sorry, go on.” “Max was going to do some homework and wait for you by the fountain.”
“That long?” “Apparently.” “Alright. Thanks Ms. Whiplesome” The prospect of Max actually doing homework slightly bothered her, but not enough to cause her alarm. “You’re welcome dearie, and you get better now, alright?” “Yes Ms. Whiplesome.” she said smiling as she left the library. She went through the door to the outside staircase. She pushed the heavy steel door open and began to head down. The fading sunlight cast an eerie glow upon the stairs through the slits that were windows. She looked up a moment and watched the red sun begin to set beneath the trees. It truly was beautiful, although she had never really noticed it before. She continued down the staircase all alone. It was strange how the images were gone. Simply disappeared as if they never really existed. When she had fainted there was only darkness around her. Then when she finally fell asleep there were only the strange and calming dreams. Maybe telling about the nightmares wasn’t a bad idea after all. She emerged into the lobby on the first floor, and headed for the doors. The janitor opened the door and she was about to say thanks to Andy, who was the normal janitor when she looked up. It wasn’t Andy; it was the mysterious student teacher. Lilly had the slight feeling that he was following her. Clint was right he didn’t have any emotion in his eyes, yet he stared at her in such a strange unidentifiable manner. Up close he looked about twenty-six years old, and his eyes were about the same color as her sparkling emerald bike. His eyes followed her as she put on her helmet and wheeled her bike to the path. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise. She looked back, brushing the hair out of
her eyes. He still stared at her and for a moment she stared back. What was it about him that made her wonder about her life? He waved his arms at the streetlights and Lilly followed the gesture. Simultaneously each and every lamp lit. Her eyes grew wide, and her mouth dropped in astonishment, somehow knowing that it was his doing that had caused this. She looked back to ask him how he had done that, but he had disappeared. Then she noticed a hand, sticking out from behind the dumpster. She got off the bike to go investigate, kicking the kickstand up with her shoe. As soon as she rounded the corner, she was sorry she had ever gotten off the bike. She gasped in sudden alarm, and nearly screamed at the sight she saw there. There lie Andy, the regular janitor, and he was dead. His head lay beside him as it had rolled off his body. She covered her mouth in fear and terror at this sight. She could not hold back the scream in her lungs so she didn’t. She did have half a mind that she was still asleep in that chair back at school, but as she realized she was standing in the pool of blood she quickly learned differently. She touched the blood that had dyed a small part of her shoe a dark red and instantly knew it was real. This time her breath was really gone. She was ready to run screaming all the way to Candi’s house, she lived right next to the school. Then she remembered what Ms. Whiplesome had said. ‘Max was going to do some homework and wait for you by the fountain’ “Shit!!” she yelped not wanting to walk through the park at all on her own. She ran for the bike in shock and alarm. She had to get away from that dead body, and she had to get someplace safe. To her surprise and terror the bike wasn’t there. Yellow eyes in the darkness replaced it. She screamed.
She screamed and she ran towards the path; it was her last resort. She ran and she did not look back, though she felt the creature on her heels. She fell to the ground, the creature had her ankle, she could see his white hand. She screamed again, at the smiling face of this devil. She took her helmet from her head and she slammed it against the wrist of the creature. “Ah!” she heard the creature yelp. She scooted away and got to her feet as quickly as she could and she ran as fast as her feet could carry her. Terrible pain erupted through her head and she heard the sound of running water. The fountain, she had reached it, but it was no use. Another had slammed her against that fountain. She looked up though her vision was blurred. She placed one of her hands to the back of her head. It was wet, and her hair was matted, she brought this back to look to see what had done such to her head and she was not surprised when she found it was blood. The icy eyed brown haired creature stared at her and laughed. Lilly tried to get up but only found she could not stand up, she was too dizzy and she couldn’t support her weight. She looked to her right to find that same angelic woman from her dream, the one with crystal eyes and long golden hair like hers. “Lilly! Run my child! Run!” The ghostly figure seemed to demand of her incompliant limbs. “I can’t!” she answered the ghostly figure. There was laughter all around her. Not just from the one who towered over her, there were more white-faced demons. She placed a hand on the fountain of which she found cracked. Slowly she came to the realization that she must have cracked the fountain. The wetness in her hair was not merely from the
blood but from the little water that trickled from the cracks. She lifted herself up with much effort and she looked around her. “Max!” she called out her voice cracking. More laughter was her only answer. She could feel the malignant electricity in the air, and it was making her quiver like a frightened mouse. “Max won’t be able to save you,” a voice said. Her head turned to see, seeing a blond haired blue eyed, white-faced demon. She could see her reflection in both his eyes, and whatever she looked, it wasn’t well. She belonged in a hospital, how much longer could she remain conscious? She most assuredly had a concussion, but it had to be worse than that. The others laughed at her helplessness. All of them, and indeed there was more than one or two. There were three around her. The black haired yellow-eyed one that had grabbed her ankle was there, along with the brown haired blue-eyed one that had rammed her into the fountain, and the blond haired blue-eyed one that looked like he could be the brown haired's twin. Suddenly one of these creatures seemed plagued by an invisible force nay, two of them. The yellow-eyed one and the brown haired blue-eyed one. As if they were having their hair pulled. Or in the case of the brown haired one, there were cuts appearing on his shoulders and face, small rocks were flying at him. “Run!” another voice screamed to her, a male voice. She tried to obey but only found herself tripping over her own feet. She looked back up at the brown haired one and saw something with her eyes that she attributed to the dizziness. The cuts healed right before her eyes. Impossible! How could this be? It went against anything Lilly had ever read in school.
“Do you really think that your invisible ghosts can damage us? We are too powerful for cheap magic tricks dear.” She turned and screamed. Black luxurious hair with red eyes. The same demon from her dreams, no this wasn’t real, this was just another nightmare. He moved his arm, the invisible things no longer plagued the vampires, instead there was a splash in the water of the fountain. She looked down at the water; they were there, the same two from her dream, the man and the woman. “No!!!!!!” the chiming voice of the woman rang. The red-eyed vampire looked down. “Not you again! I thought Baldev dealt with you and yours” “You will not have my daughter, she is too strong for you” the man said. “What can you do? You’re dead.” The amber-eyed vampire Lilly assumed to be Baldev said. Lilly had no time to let the angels words soak in. She began to back away into the other two stumbling along the way. This was too much for her mind to take; none of it could be real. “Where do you think you’re going?” The blond one asked “There is no chance of escape” The brown haired one mirrored. They had to be twins, they were each others mirror. “Ah, I see your plan, you distract me from my prize so that she may sneak away. Clever one aren’t you?” the red-eyed one said as his focus returned to me. “Baldev rid us of her image, maybe with that boy she was calling for?” she looked up wide-eyed as the yellow-eyed vampire threw Max into the fountain water. His arms and legs were bound with rope and there was duct tape on his mouth. “Clever thing this duct tape,” he said,
twirling the roll around his wrist, “shuts humans up,” He threw the duct tape into the bushes and she suddenly found him by her side holding her tight in his grasp. She could not escape he was just too strong. “I wonder if I should take you willingly, or by force.” He whispered into her ears. Just the sound of his voice so near to her ears made her shiver with a mixture of hatred and fear. “You aren’t real.” She said softly choking the words out. “Oh we are very much real, and very much alive. We have been looking for you for a while now. It’s surprising you remember nothing. Oh well better for us I guess. Now let us reintroduce ourselves though you know very well who I am.” “Narmer…” she whispered though from what hidden orifice she had contrived that name she knew nothing of. “Oh so you do remember who I am.” “Go to hell.” She spat. He laughed at her in her weakness. “Lillian DeDanaan princess of the isle what despicable manners have we learned in this new and strange time.” Chapter 6 Lilly was free of his grasp and took the opportunity to retrieve a stick from the ground. She held it like a bat ready to hit him if he came closer, though she was in no state to hit him with it. She was still so dizzy, and she was having trouble fighting it off. She faltered with every movement. Narmer's form kept moving, and she was seeing doubles. The blow to her head had not been a light one, she didn’t know how much longer she could stay on her feet.
“Take your best shot princess.” He said mockingly. Lilly felt the acute pain in her head. Her world swirled around her. She tried to swing at him, but she merely found herself back on the cement again. Pain seared through her knees as they hit the pavement. “Oh really princess, this is so beneath you, stop pretending you’re hurt.” He lifted his arm into the air, and Lilly found herself suspended in it, her feet barely touching the ground. “You’re much more then you pretend to be, there’s no way you can deny that.” She didn’t say a word, merely stared at him bearing her pain on her own two shoulders as if it were nothing. Lilly belonged in a hospital, severe head trauma wasn’t something that could go untreated. She stared at his expression, she watched it turn to some kind of pleasantness. “You are hurt, let me help you.” He placed his arm around her, his hand covering the back of her head, and she felt a strange tingling sensation throughout her scalp. Her vision began to become crystal clear, first just blurring then the distinct sensation of it being eradicated entirely, and finally, the clear picture of his face so near to hers. “Lips so full and kissable, why settle for less then the best?” He said, leaning in to kiss her. Lilly felt extreme disgust at this, she did not like this man, no matter how he acted. There was no way he had just healed her, she didn’t have a clue what was going on. She knew he was not normal, and she had the distinct impression he wasn’t a human being. He stepped back. “Oh right you are, so clever, no matter what the guise, forgive me princess that I use the powers in you to prolong the night a bit.” He smiled at her, an evil smile she didn’t like one bit. She suddenly had the impulse to run her tongue over her lower lip.
Blood, she tasted it there crystal clear, just as her vision had become. He smiled at her again. “A simple taste to forge the link between your powers and mine, so I might use you for my ends. Do not fear princess, you have not been ravaged yet.” He held his palm to her chest and a dark glow emanated from it. Lilly felt the power shoot straight through her heart, stabbing it with a knife sharper than she had ever known. She felt it pool in her bloodstream, she felt as if the blood inside was turning to ice. A poison coursing through her whole, when suddenly she let her head back and she let out a scream that would rival any banshee. She fought this dark poison that seemed as if it would kill her. Her joints became as stone, she herself became as stone. A floating stone statue, screaming to the abyss above. The pain was too high, Lilly should not be conscious this was too much for one human to bear, yet still this terrible pain rushed through her. Her eyes became blurry from the tears that filled them. It erupted from her mouth in a single culmination. A beam which shot toward the heavens, and it began to spread. Just as the poison had gone through her bloodstream, it seemed to spread across the sky. She knew that this shield would block the sunlight, she knew it and she could do nothing about it, he was using her, and still she screamed. Broken glass was launched as shrapnel all around the clearing, into the fountain. Max’s blood oozed from the cuts they inflicted, yet neither Lilly, nor this Narmer were affected, there was a shield protecting them. The poison receded, flying straight back towards her chest, the sky left black, and Lilly knew as if someone had planted the thought in her head, this was not the only place where the sky was dark. The entire whole of the earth had been covered in this dark
night. The power slammed into her chest and she fell backwards, launched out of her seeming float in the air. She fell to the ground like a rock, or a used doll. Thrown there with disregard for her feelings--her life. “No, your life matters much to us. Though yes, as we speak my forces are turning this earth to our playground, your race will be no more then slaves and food. I will rule the world. I like this time, this technology,” Lilly didn’t answer, she couldn’t answer, her head lay against the pavement, motionless, incoherent. Oddly enough, she was not dressed in what she had been. The dress of white muslin with a golden bodice billowed out around her disheveled form. Narmer had been calling her princess, and now she looked the part. “Lilly!” Max called out, the water having destroyed the adhesive bond to his face, at least enough so he could speak. Lilly did not heed his call, if one did not know any better, one would have thought her dead. She could technically move now, yet the aches in her muscles were too great to combat. She stared off into space completely falling into a catatonic state. “Lilly!” a voice yelped. Lilly used all the energy in her to move her eyes to look on the face of that golden haired woman leaning next to her. Lilly knew the shape of her eyes, the color of her skin, she knew the hair. Where had she come from, why were the others not seeing her? Come to think of it, her voice Lilly heard only in her head. No, the woman was an illusion. An illusion conjured up by a bedeviled mind to comfort her in her unbearable pain. The blue eyed twins stepped right through the woman, scattering her image in the wind. They lifted her up to her knees in front of the monster who played with her. Lilly
coughed and saw her own blood on the pavement. Her throat bled from the volume of her own screams. Narmer lifted her chin to look at him. “You are one slippery creature, we’ve been chasing you all this long while. Your beauty is undaunted by your ventures. This time you have no way of escape. It seems you are without your knight, without your witch, without your cats, what are you to do? It seems the widespread female independence of the time has stripped your mind of all rational thought. Walking through the forest alone at night… What idiocy drove you to it? You are paying dearly now for your ignorance, yet do you really deserve it, I wonder? No matter, you know nothing of your past a shame for you, such clay in my palms it’s almost too easy.” “What the hell do you want with me?” she managed to choke out in a whisper that could hardly be heard. She was still trying to force him into a rational view of the serial killer that they all knew was on the prowl. Police had been warning them for weeks. She knew though that he was so much more, she just couldn't place it. “I want you and I want your power it’s no more complicated than that.” She saw plans in her head. His plans, too terrible to put into words, and he wanted her, in all her beauty to be his queen. The images she had seen them before, all in her dreams. Lilly knew she would rather die then let him rule her. “Go to hell” she seethed, spitting blood into his face. He wiped it away with simple disregard. “Suit yourself…but you must know that I wouldn’t kill you, you’re too valuable, maybe a boyfriends death is in order.” He nodded to the other, Baldev. Narmer grabbed and spun her head around to watch in pain and terror as this Baldev sunk his teeth into
Max’s neck. Her eyes stared straight into his, watching the pain melt into blankness, as his life was drained away. The vampire looked up at her, his mouth stained with blood, and let his grasp slip, and Max dropped lifeless to the ground. He was a vampire, what else could he be, Simon was right, the nightmares, they were vampires. “No!” she yelped with little conviction in her broken voice. They laughed at her as she lunged to lay beside him, the other had moved away, and she was free to sulk. “You belong in hell!” she said looking up at Narmer, giving him a gaze that would freeze any manner of evil. “Your gaze does nothing to me princess, nothing. You have no escape from your fate.” Once again Lilly felt as if she was being lifted up into the air by an invisible force, and this time she was completely frozen in place. Yet her blood had boiled. Before she had been paralyzed something in her had stirred and awoken, and something else knew it, and this was why she now floated in the air, helpless to Narmer’s whim. “Yes, he sensed you, he sensed your powers, do you feel the hopelessness of your situation yet?” Lilly could not move to answer as she watched that same student teacher step from the shadows in the trees. It was he who had caused her predicament. The nightmares, they had been a warning, to share these had been terrible folly. Sharing her nightmares in front of him was suicide, he was a vampire, he was a spy, and he worked for Narmer. “But it was daytime!” she yelped, finding her voice clear and ringing with a sense of surprise.
“Twas that witch that laid the curse upon us, though it did not affect any other then me and those that stemmed from me there-after. He was left untouched by the curse, he has been my daytime spy.” “No!” “Funny isn’t it? You were so blind, and now it’s too late.” “No!” she screamed again. Narmer laughed, along with the others, all except the demon who stared at her with clear sparkling green eyes. His dark hair tousled yet short, a comely raiment of features on his face, all set in the white marble same as the others. Lilly felt as if she would cry… She had failed; she had been tested, and she had failed miserably to the ruin of all.” Narmer turned to this teacher, and he averted his eyes from her. “Damon have you received a communication from the General?” “Yes sir” “What says he?” “We have overtaken them” “Excellent! Go tell the General to move on to step two. Don’t mind the few that get away, we will crush them later” “Yes sir.” Damon said, as he bowed gracefully. Damon looked up at Lilly, and he began to shimmer from view. He disappeared! “No!” she screamed again, for lack of anything else to say. “Now child, will you choose to be my queen, or will you choose to die? Think hard now, for the consequences of them weigh out death. No other choice do you have but to become my queen.” He began to walk towards Lilly confidently. Damon had gone;
his spell was broken, now it was solely Narmer holding her where she was suspended. She couldn’t escape, she was helpless, yet still her defiance burned strong. “I would rather go to hell than be your queen.” she said. “As you wish” she squinted her eyes. She felt his hands on her shoulders, his breath on her neck. Then… “Bullshit!” Her eyes snapped open in surprise to see Clint wielding his baseball bat, ready to send Narmer’s head reeling on the asphalt. “You?” Narmer laughed. “Yeah. Me. Why don’t you leave her alone and pick on someone else?” Narmer continued to laugh as he grabbed the baseball bat. Both Clint and I watched as in his fist the bat split into many pieces. “Crap!” Clint said as his only weapon dropped to the ground. “You waste my time.” Narmer said, turning his attention back to Lilly. “Leave him be men, I will finish with him when I am through with the girl. Is that your knight, child?” she said nothing, only stared with fear at the face of the red-eyed vampire. “How pathetic he is…” Narmer stopped, and Lilly heard the thud, watching as a fairly large rock fell to the ground. “I said leave her alone.” Clint said angrily. He was poised in a position to fight the vampire, with his fists. Narmer held his hand up, stopping the other vampires from doing anything. Lilly was still frozen, and speechless even more so from Clint’s actions. She could do nothing but watch. Narmer slowly turned to face Clint. “You try my patience human, what do you think you can possibly do to stop me from getting what I want?” Narmer asked sarcastically.
“I can do this.” Clint said. Lilly watched in horror as Clint’s fist flew into the face of the most powerful being on the face of the planet. Narmer stumbled backwards in surprise. Lilly followed suit finding herself free of Narmer’s mental grasp. Clint had distracted Narmer. She heard the voices in her head telling her to run once again, but all she could do was watch in astonishment. “GET HIM!” Narmer screamed angrily as he realized that Clint had cut his lip. “Lilly, run! Get out of here!” Clint yelled at her. The other vampires rushed towards him. She froze for an instant, unable to react. “Go!” He yelled as the others boxed him in. She shook off her surprise and fear for Clint, to complete that which he asked. She stumbled, unsure of her footing at first, and she ran towards that forest with the mechanical instinct of a task done everyday. Ironically this was the first time she had ever gone up into the mountains, yet none of this mattered. As she disappeared into the forest Narmer’s enraged scream was let loose, and could certainly be heard for miles. She wouldn’t let Clint down, it was the only thing on her mind, to make Clint proud. To live, for Clint’s sake. He had given his life to save hers. The earth would never again see the light of day, and it was all her fault. Chapter 7 She tore up the leaves as she ran through the forest. It seemed odd to Lilly, if they wanted her so badly why didn’t they pursue her now? Lilly didn’t let herself think of it. A branch smacked her in the face, she felt the sharp pain indicative of being cut. Already she was covered in many such cuts, yet Lilly refused to stop. Lilly was running for her life with the knowledge that one person found it precious enough to forfeit his life for
her. How many friends of hers would have done what he had done. How many friends would have let her run away? She couldn’t think of her life, it depressed her to an extent she couldn’t bear. Her fear forced her to atone for a life with too much freedom. Rachel, was she all right? Did it really matter anymore? What had she done? Was this her fault, how stupid was she? Why did she feel like there was something she couldn't remember? Was it real or was she still dreaming? Lilly couldn’t feel her legs, save for the dull pain that radiated through her entire body. She was removed from it thankfully, yet still it gradually wore her down. She had no idea how fast she was running, she didn’t really know if she was running at all save for the constant battering of various branches. She was hungry, she was tired, and she was hurt. She knew that if she didn’t find help soon, she would die. At the same time she refused to stop. She couldn’t think of the past. Couldn’t think of Rachel, Max, or even Clint. Clint who had sacrificed himself for her. What had Lilly done to deserve this horror in her life? Ignored her best friend for the most part at school for the sole purpose of appearances. It hurt Lilly to think she would never hear Clint’s sardonic and sarcastic humor ever again. All those times she could have spent with him instead spent on adding lace to her reputation. Her eyes watered, despite the removal she held from the rest of herself. Lilly was a detached creature, she ran as the mechanical impulse of an animal fleeing danger. A wild horse spurred by the smack of terror. Clint had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. After Kara had officially adopted Lilly, she still had to work, to feed and clothe her. She was forever
bringing her across the hall to Monica Hedrick, the practical house-mom. Her husband worked in construction, and they just happened to have a son about the same age. Lilly had been placed in the crib with him, they had always been crib mates, always been there for each other. Clint had passed this final test, Lilly couldn’t stand his loss. Would she have done the same if the situation was reversed? Max was nothing but an expendable idiotic jock, the world had plenty of them, Clint was something much more. Not to mention Rachel, what would she do when she found that her sister was no longer there. Lilly cried out for her, cried out in vain. Thunder and lightning wracked the sky with manic ferocity. Rain began to fall drenching her in the impractical gown she wore in a matter of seconds. Her tears melting into the rain that dripped down her face. She stumbled over a fallen log, but still she pressed on. The gown was ripped and torn; the gown where did it come from? Her body was caked with mud, and scratches. Still she refused to stop and continued up the mountain with the determination of a machine. What spurred her on through the pins that sliced into her with every drop was a mystery to her. Her conscious mind only thought of the things she told herself not to, and the demand that she cease these so that her continuation through the storm would not be stalled. She screamed out in an instant of exquisite and climactic pain. The fatigued muscles of her right leg were set aflame in a sudden accident of hurry. Lilly fell to the ground, driving the branch deeper into the wound it had created. Lilly cried out again not knowing the trouble she had literally run into. She didn’t care, the pain stopped her
movement, there was no possible way she could continue. She was weak, she was dumb and she was doomed. She fell to the ground and didn't move except to scream. She was alone, deep in the forest, no one could hear her cries. Flashes of childhood in her head, curled up on the pavement, she had fallen off the merry-go-round. Clint was there, he stood by her side inquiring as to whether she was all right. Yet he saw the gash in her knee, that of which she still carried a scar. Someone had dropped a glass; it was what had caused her to spin around to see; yet she lost her grip. Falling back, off the merry-go-round she gashed her knee giveng herself a scar, and a broken ankle, though the ankle had mended, the scar had not. It had been Clint that had sought the help she required. She wanted to scream at herself Clint isn’t here!!!!!!! There was no one here to help her in this onslaught of pain. The rain was as a shredder, slicing her memories, her dreams, and her heart into slivers of paper in one single instant. If this was a dream, it was the worst Lilly had ever had, and she felt she would not wake up from it for a long time. The leaves were her pillow, the rain, and the cobwebs she had passed through her blanket. She knew herself to be dreaming when she saw the crystal clear blue eyes of a Siamese cat. Knew that she was passing out from pain. She knew she was dreaming when she heard the comforting purr, and felt the wet, yet warm fur against her cheek. A dream, yes a dream, a dream in sleep. -- o -She awoke with a chill in her bones she had never before felt. She felt herself an outcast in this environment, it closed in upon her, a bane of terror and pain. Pain, the intense and unrelenting pain of her leg, she was not in a dream she knew it. She affirmed this when she found herself gazing into the eight eyes of the gigantic spider crawling up
her chest. She screamed and jumped up, instantly feeling the slash of pain like a knifes stab, though she had managed to get the spider off her. She realized this even as she fell back to the ground. It was dark, it was cold, and it was damp. The rain had stopped, and the thunder and lightning rolled out of the dark sky as if it had been calmed by some mother that Lilly did not have. A single beam of moonlight fell through the canopy of trees, and it fell upon Lilly, and only Lilly, for who else would be stupid enough to be in the forest alone in the middle of the night. Looking at the trees, and the other vegetation about her she knew she was too far up the mountain to find anyone, even rangers or hikers. She was utterly and completely alone, and this feeling surrounded her as ice in her mind. The spider watched her; after all, it was she who had suddenly invaded his environment, why shouldn’t he be curious of her purpose. Her senses had not prepared for her survival through her ordeal. It was Lilly’s belief that she would be dead before morning. She looked around herself, noticing that the leaves were not sun bleached. She made these observations with dispirited consternation. She knew that shadows had been cast upon the sun forever, even if she didn’t know the design through which she discerned this. She felt desolate and insecure. That monster had manipulated her in ways she could not have foreseen. He had exploited something entombed deep inside her core that had resulted in the destruction of her best friend. Narmer had spoken in riddles; confused her, exhausted the few resources she had from her small education of life. Who ever would have believed that she would end up this pitiable and forlorn creature, sprawled across the ground in this bitter paradox, accosted by the monsters of fairy-tales? If
someone had told her this would happen merely a month ago she would have thought them insane and cast them off without a second thought. Stupid nerds always burried in their books wishing something like this would happen to them. Lilly had never wished anything of the sort and here she was, living a life that couldn't happen, and a story that included monsters that couldn't be real. She felt her life was a lie, some screen constructed to keep the truth from her. Truth? What truth did she mean? What truth was there to be found in these delusions, these prodding memories of her past? She lie there for a moment in the sodden piercing chill the leaves besieged by memories that she couldn't grasp. She lie there mulling over the universal choice she maintained in her possession. What use was there in living? The pain in her leg filled her eyes with immutable tears, the loss of Clint was insufferable. Images of Rachel sprung to her mind like little bunny rabbits prancing through a meadow. The tears slid down her cheek in her moment of unhelpful nostalgia. She wanted to curl up and die, or even just cry she wanted that outlet, she wanted that reprieve, but it was not hers to own. To move her leg even the smallest bit caused spasms of excruciating sensations to wreak havoc upon her. She still was ignorant as to what caused this affliction. She looked over to the spider that still spied on her despondent silhouette of what she was. Live, if not for yourself, then for Rachel was the thought that drummed through her system. She had to find Rachel, find out if Rachel was okay. Fearing the worst she allowed herself to look upon the wound. She let out a shriek at the perilous circumstances she found herself in. Lodged deep into the tissues of her leg there was a branch an inch thick. To look at the putrefied mass of pus gathered around the
wound made Lilly want to puke. Nausea raced through her head at the sight of it, she turned away, and her mind began to clear. For a moment she felt entirely helpless in the situation. The pain was fierce and unrelenting, Lilly had to do something about it or she could lose the use of her leg forever. Yet Lilly had neither the resources nor the stamina to deal with this manner of injury, it was beyond her skill and knowledge. She needed a hospital, but there was no way for her to get there, her situation was impossible. Lilly fell back, hopeless for a moment, then began to press her mind to work, work to solve her problem before it escalated into permanent damage. She knew well in the darkest corners of her mind there was no possibility of her leaving this situation without the defilement of her appendage. In fact Lilly wondered if there was any possibility that she might live through this calamity. She forced the pain to be pushed back to the back of her mind with a sheer force of will. Now that she knew what was causing it, the pain was so much worse. Finally she pieced together some form of coherent thought. If she were to remove the stick where she was she could easily die from the blood loss in the wilderness. The branch was keeping the blood from flowing out too quickly at the moment. She looked at the gown she wore. It was beautiful, but very much so out of place. It was torn and gashed in as many places as she herself was. What Lilly needed was fresh water, cold water. She closed her eyes and let herself listen to the sounds encompassing her. Running water, a brook of some sort. She heard the sound with a crystal clarity that nearly frightened her. Alas, she was too weary for insignificant discoveries to alarm her. She opened her eyes slowly and strained to see through the omnipotent darkness. She discerned in some way unknown to her a path muddled through the brush. She deduced
that it had been caused by some of the smaller wild animals traveling to the stream to drink. The next complication Lilly was left to dealt with was how she would ever manage to reach the stream, or even the path. She could not walk, she could not crawl. She looked at the ground, seeing only leaves, yet in the rump of her back there was a small botheration dulled by the dwarfing pain in her leg. She somehow managed to weave her way off of this thing stabbing her in the back finding it to be a root. Someone had flipped the switch in her mind and Lilly came up with an outrageous plan to get her to the stream. She laid down in the direction of the stream and let her bruised and battered hands grope through the leaves to find the device she was looking for. Her fingers closed, and with all the strength she could muster she pulled herself up towards the grounds handle. She groped around again, looking for another. This time the root was merely a stub, and there was little Lilly could do about it, yet she managed. The pain was exquisitely wrought now spreading through her like wildfire, yet she continued moving towards her emancipating stream. Lilly had finally reached the stream after many hours deliberation through the wet and scraping leaves and pine needles that seemed to be a rug to the forest. She braced herself against a rock. She began to think of the branch as an arrow. Lilly had seen plenty of movies where they had shown the stars dealing with arrow wounds. She began to realize the cause of breaking off the arrow first. She remembered sitting in front of the TV, groping for the popcorn and tossing it at Clint, while Braveheart played upon the screen. No. This wasn’t the time for memories.
The branch unfortunately was an inch thick, and Lilly's hands were shaking too much, she didn't have the strength. There wasn’t any way Lilly could break it. She looked around and somehow pulled herself up on her one good leg. She leaned against the rocks with her arms. She placed the stick between a crevasse created by two rocks close together. She held the base of the branch with one hand and took a few breaths. It was now or never. She jerked her leg to the side. With a snap and a lash of pain she was rid of the part of the branch that stuck from her leg. She fell back to the ground falling thankfully on a pile of soft leaves. Before she could have another thought though, she pulled the base of that stick from her leg. She screamed to the night, the night birds evacuating their perches in the nearby trees. She breathed heavily as her head fell back, and she lay there for moments with her fatigue. At last she sat up, instantly deriving that her grip on consciousness was faltering. She grabbed a paunch of the material of the dress and she ripped it away. She forced this into the cold running water and pressed this against the deep wide wound turning her knuckles white with the effort she induced. She did not know how long she applied pressure to the wound, could not guess, what was time to her now besides? She slowly let up on the pressure and slowly pealed the cloth away. Only a trickle of blood continued to emanate from the awful wound. She felt a strange tingling sensation inside of it though the pain throbbed ceaselessly. The pus had been disturbed, and some of it had been wiped aside, while still some of it festered to the surface. Much of it began to pile up to cover the wound.
Lilly pulled the dangling lace sleeves completely from the gown, and began to wrap this around the sore. She wrapped it tightly in the event it might decide to bleed again. She completed her task and in her tired pain induced haze moved to the water. She thrust this up at her face burning from the abrasions and cuts that covered it. She couldn't let herself pass out, not yet. The cold water felt oh too wonderful as it contacted this mangled mess and she lifted a handful of this water up to her lips to drink. Her eyes languidly drifted to gaze upon the dark reflection resting on the water. The moon and it’s legion of stars cast an eerie glow upon the moving stream which caused the image to drift and shimmer. Lilly could see enough to notice that she was severely maimed. She sighed and cringed and wanted to let the onslaught of pain take her out. There were cuts everywhere across her face, she truthfully hadn’t even known the distance of her escape to this forest. To inflict the extent of her cuts, she assumed it must have been further then she had originally thought. She began to do that which she could to improve herself. She slowly and methodically picked out the leaves, sticks, pine needles. Focing herself to remain concious. With disgust she even managed to find a worm squirming about through her locks and she picked this out too. Her hair was a rats nest of tangles, and she combed her fingers through her hair with stiff regard to her appearance. She questioned herself for a moment on the validity of what she was doing, who cared how her hair looked anymore? Yet still for lack of other things to do to avoid thinking about the pain she was in, and the memories that assailed her, she continued doing these small menial tasks. She tossed more water up at her face, taking another drink to quench her savage thirst. A gale of wind flew across her bare skin causing her to twitch with the giddy
shivers running down the length of her spine. She heard strange whispers on the wind as it blew her hair out in front of her face. She cocked her head at this oddity, trying to make out what she was hearing. She felt surrounded by whispers of something gone wrong. Something that had been forgotten, and should not have been. It frightened Lilly and chilled her to the bones as if the wind and rain weren’t doing enough damage on their own. She looked to the pool of water cupped in her hands, and saw with amazement as the cuts on her face seemingly shrank. She closed her eyes, not believing they saw truth then opened them again to find her face, unmarred, and unscathed. They had simply disappeared. She put a hand to the smooth soft milky surface of her face finding it to be just as it seemed. She could not hope to contemplate the whispers, and this strange healing. She dropped the pool of water and it splashed to the surface. The drops scattered in all directions revealing the shadows of faces upon the stream. Lilly was horrified by what she saw, she wished that this was all a dream, that maybe even now she was waking up, and the whispers were that of Rachel, or her mother, or even Clint, or Max. Maybe she was back in that fifth hour class still and none of this had happened. Yet the whispers as if to answer her doubts amplified in volume and persisted with deafening ferocity. They were cursing her! They were chiding her forgetfulness. She did not know what else. Mocking her for her stupidity, her neglect to heed the dreams delivered to her. Why her anyway? Why not some other random girl? She put her hands to her ears but it made no difference the whispering continued around her.
A heavy hand dropped on her shoulder, interrupting her reverie of fear. She spun into startled reactions, and pointed the stick she had pulled from her leg at the throat of an unfamiliar man who stood behind her. His hands shot into the air immediately as her chest heaved with exhaust and fear. “Please I mean you know harm. I followed the cat.” Lilly looked to the blue eyes staring at her from the darkness around his feet. As her eyes adjusted she made out the lithe and beautiful form of a apple-headed siamese. She peered at Lilly indifferently and sat at the mans heels. Why did the cat look so familiar. Lilly noticed that the cat had blood on her fur, she knew just from instinct, it was her blood. Lilly looked back up at this man. No, he wasn’t quite a man, he had to be late teens, maybe early twenties. His hair was much too dark for her to recognize if it was black or just dark brown and he was tall. He was built strongly, but not at all overbearing at all, not anywhere near it. He seemed perfect. “The cat.” Lilly whispered, the raspy sound of her voice startling her for a moment. “Yes, she wouldn’t stop meowing, and she kept disappearing in and out of bushes as if she wanted me to follow her, she also had blood on her and I knew it wasn't hers I thought I was alone up here, anyway, I couldn’t afford her giving away my position to the vampires. She's very loud" “You know they’re vampires.” “Everyone does, everyone left that is. They killed off the rebellious ones in the worst ways you can possibly imagine, but there are a few, free places that remain. Places
they cannot get to. Places so remote or unexpected, they have not yet been discovered.” Lilly stared at him with her intelligent eyes. “Who are you?” “My name is David. I was an intern before the sky turned black at a medical hospital in the nearby city…well really it’s not so nearby, I was visiting relatives the moment it turned. I escaped the vampires grasp the first time around. It’s been two weeks of this darkness if you didn’t know, I ended up in a refugee camp. Ah, but there was a disguised vampire invited among us there, and due to this they were able to overrun the camp. I am the only survivor to my knowledge; the rest of us were taken to the slave camps.” Lilly now stared at him gauging his truthfulness with her. His hazel eyes seemed to be hiding something she couldn't detect, but she sensed no lie in his statement. “Please, if you’ll forgive me for asking, but the bloody stick you have pressed to my throat makes me rather nervous and it would make me feel much better were you to drop it.” Lilly for the first time looked at her weapon. It was the exact same stick she had pulled from her leg, it was very bloody. She lowered the stick immediately. “I’m sorry” she muttered. He looked down at her, his brow suddenly furrowed with worry. He knelt down, inspecting her leg and she followed his gaze. The lace she had bandaged around her wound was stained red with blood. “This looks terrible!” he said running his hand across it. This gesture sent trills of pain through her again and she yelped at his touch. He looked up at her face. “You need serious medical attention…I assume you can’t walk either.” “No.” “Odd.”
“What” “The cat…where did it go now anyhow?” as if to answer his call the cat emerged from a set of bushes. The cat chirped a meow at him staring directly into his strange eyes. “Hold on for a moment while I go see what the cat wants.” Lilly nodded her reply not really caring whether this person returned or not. He obviously wasn't completely right in the head, he was listening to a cat. He disappeared into the copse. Moments later he did return, his mouth stained red, and shirtless. Lilly stared at him curiously. He carried his shirt in his hands as a sack, red blotches lit certain areas of it. His chest on the other hand made her blush a little, though she was pretty sure he couldn't see, at least she hoped. However crazy this guy was, he wasn't unatractive. “The cat found food. Wild raspberries. So strange.” Lilly said nothing though she did not find the cat that strange. It demonstrated some form of intelligence and if it had been several weeks ago, and someone had told her this story, she would have laughed at this too, yet it paled in comparison to the revelation that the vampires truly existed. She shrugged at him as he handed her his shirt. Greedily, she consumed the raspberries until she found herself full. Listening to a cat was a small concession to make for help. “You shouldn’t be moved, but we really have no choice. I had to sidetrack to find you, the source of the screams, but I know where we are, as a child my father brought me up into these mountains many a time. I know how to find the next refugee camp if it has not been deserted. I can only hope for my sake that it hasn’t. I assume I could carry you although we may have to stop along the way for nights of rest, I cannot carry you nonstop. What say you?”
“Please get me out of this retched place.” Lilly said her head hanging low and tears welling up again. David looked down almost as if he completely understood what Lilly was going through. He nodded slightly and moved to lift her up. He did this with little trouble, and Lilly carelessly threw her arms around his neck to stabilize herself. Blushing again, this time she was sure he saw something. He was too old for her anyway, an Intern? That had to put him closer to late twenty's than early. “Sleep and rest, you’ll need your strength when it returns to you.” He whispered softly into her ears. She noticed upon his whisper that the others had stopped, and she realized they had stopped the moment he showed up. She agreed to his suggestion emphatically, and she fell into the deep sleep of one who has lost everything they hold dear. She fell asleep watching the cat trail at his heels. Wasn't it odd for a cat to follow people? Chapter 8 Lilly didn’t know how long they had been traveling through the foliage. It was an arduous task to tell the difference between night and day. The moon was the only way to tell the difference between night and day. The sun was gone, you didn't talk about the sun setting it was the moon setting. When the moon and its stars had abandoned the sky this was how you knew it was day. The day was full of the darkness and despair from the memory of light. The night was impervious to all emotion or thought. It was unchangeable, night was what it had always been. It was cold, and Lilly marvelled at it many a time. By the darkness they rested, Lilly noticed that David seemed undaunted by the dark. David slept without fear, or disquiet; his sleep was that of the dead. The cat
continued to follow them, by darkness eluding their company to ferret out her own secret retreats in seclusion. The cat’s company gave Lilly an uneasy comfort but comfort still. Through the darkness, she was alone in her discomfort. She was left to the perdition of memories eating at her heart. This disquiet she kept to herself, and there was little conversation between the two of them. They ate food when they found it along their trail, and picked all they could when they found it. After long deliberation without nourishment, they resolved to plant one or two of the berries in the spot where they collapsed and ate enough to sustain them. David did not feed himself as she did, he did not want to waste precious traveling time, he waited until she slept to seek his nourishment. They pressed on at a strenuous pace, being watched by the many nocturnal eyes of the forest. No matter the circumstances David never seemed deterred or unhappy. Never did he complain or deliberate means of escaping the umbrage she caused him. Never was there any malice in the way he looked at her, if he looked at her. It seemed he merely watched the trail, and continued tirelessly. Occasionally he sent her a glance but Lilly couldn't read his expressions. Lilly began to develop a quiet respect for his determination and strength. When they were stopped he tended to her wound as best he could. Lilly began to notice, soon through his persistence the forest was meandering away slowly. The thickets were becoming thinner and easier to travel through, and their pace was quickening. It was then that David broke the silence of their trek as Lilly gathered up the voice to put her question to words.
“We are nearing the refuge. We will reach it before the setting of this moon.” Lilly was silenced with surprise. It was as if he knew her question before she asked it. He was only stating the truth though. It was coincidence that he had done this just as she was about to ask him. Her respect for him fumed to the surface and he looked down at her with his strange, perplexing eyes for an instant too short. “Why is it that I feel I know this place?” her soft inquiring voice cured of the gruffness it had held when he first met her. He sent her a fond smile as he answered. “We are nearing the Firmount Mall. I’m sure you’ve been there with friends.” Lilly contemplated his answer for a moment as he continued. It took her a few minutes before she pieced together his vague answers. “The camp is in the mall isn’t it?” she affirmed. He nodded to her as he stopped walking, directing his main gaze to something in the distance. She turned her head and saw it in all its glory. The mall, their rest, their release their goal, and not a moment too soon. “And not without its own obstacles either.” “What?” It was as if David was answering her thoughts. No, impossible--Lilly was tricking herself. He was just stating the obvious, Lilly caught herself quickly. “I mean, what’s wrong.” “There’s the empty plane of grass, then the stream we have to cross, and then the parking lot. That’s a lot of empty space, some of the vampires can fly, if there’s one out, and they do make rounds I’ve noticed, I watched their figures blocking the stars several times as we walked. There’s a lot of chances we could be seen. Your hair likes to play with light, and your skin is white…”
“So is yours…” “I can smear dirt on my skin,” he looked down at her with concern, “I fear your wound would become infected if we took that course with you.” Lilly stared at him a moment, contemplating his reply. “Leave me.” “I will not.” “Why?” He stopped and said nothing and Lilly stared at him inquisitively. His response was only a whisper, and it took Lilly a moment to figure out his response. “You're my patient.” “Have you never lost a patient?” she asked him in the same quiet tone.” He pressed his lips together as if she had said something wrong. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to press.” He didn’t speak a word to her, only looked down into her cool blue eyes. He gave her a soft smile to soothe her doubts. “I’m willing to take the risk of being caught.” This response held little influence on Lilly except that she knew that the vampires had destroyed Clint. She didn't know the evil things that the vampires did, David spoke of camps but she didn't know why. She didn't understand the risk involved, that David was willing to take. Still in her heart a soft spark alit into a small and fragile flame. Lilly turned her head to see the perilous route they faced. There were no trees, no bushes, save for those by the creek which they may or may not have been able to jump. Then there was the scrawny landscaping trees edging the parking lot. The expanse of the parking lot was empty save for quite a few deserted cars, but that still left the empty field. There was little cover and their journey looked ominous.
“You’re crazy!” Lilly whispered fiercely. David didn’t respond, only made to take a step forward. The cat sprang into action—it jumped forward blocking David’s path, its fur bristled, and it hissed at him repremandingly. The pair heard a disturbance of the air, and not seconds later saw the shadow that had caused it. David darted back into the trees and watched the figure alight on the roof. Lilly too, watched this with curiosity. For a few minutes nothing happened and they converged in silence. Then suddenly it took flight, but it wasn’t alone. This time there were two of them, and they were flying away from the mall. “They think it’s a refugee camp” David stated. Lilly turned back to face him. She noticed his eyes were onerous, and full of concern. “If they thought it was a refugee camp then why would they abandon their post?” Lilly hissed back at him. Lilly observed a shadow fall on his face. “I…I don’t know.” The cat shot a look at him, as if it knew something that Lilly didn’t. That was foolish thinking, cats didn’t think like humans did. However, spending as much time with this cat as she had, there was something odd about her. Either way Lilly sensed he was hiding something from her. He set her down against the trunk of a tree and hiked her skirt up to reveal her cut. “I want to check on it before we move.” Lilly nodded, her suspicions undaunted by his sudden change of subject. He avoided her gaze as he unwound the bloody gauze with deft hands. Lilly gasped as she saw it, and David moved away. “Impossible!” she yelped softly. He didn’t say a word, only stared at the peculiar wound. The broken skin around the cut glowed as if it were sprinkled with gold. This
wasn’t the most startling feature it commanded though. The wound had shrunk to a quarter of an inch. Chapter 9 Lilly couldn’t believe her eyes. This was impossible, wounds like hers didn’t heal that quickly—often times they didn’t heal at all! This was inhuman! David stared with awe. Lilly unexpectedly burst into tears and David looked up at her with surprise. “What is it?” “This is why they want me! This is what Clint died for!” A hint of recognition lit David’s eyes, but it was too quickly gone to be identified. “What's wrong?” he demanded, grasping her hands and pulling them away from her face. She was thrilled by his rough warm hands encompassing her own. It sent a detestable shock through her. She pulled her hands away from him with malevolent hostility. “What good is power you don’t know how to use? They said that I was powerful, but I couldn't stop anything.” she spat. She braced her hands against the tree trunk and walked herself up on her good leg. David stepped back giving her room. She wobbled for a moment and David moved forward to catch her as she fell. “Godammit! Why do you want to help me?” She charged him as she squirmed from his grasp with discomfort. He made her skin buzz with his touches, it unnerved her, but her on the defensive. He said nothing for a few moments, only stared at her incoherently. “Well?!” “I don’t know!” He said a little too loudly and sure of himself, “ I can tell you one thing though, in my eyes you glow with light, I can’t tell you what that means, I can tell
you that you are special.” He fell silent as he moved to lift her again. Lillian resisted, yet in the end she placed her arm around his shoulders and let him support her weight. “Can you walk then?” “I can try!” He slowly raised to his feet and Lilly raised up with him using her good leg to move. She put little weight on her bad leg as they cautiously ventured out into the field, and despite the obvious danger he moved slowly for her. As the moon was setting they had reached the stream and a definite impasse. Lilly’s leg was sore, and her eyes burned from the tears of pain. They could not make it to the bridge downstream. The stream was too wide to jump, too swift to swim, and at that moment, another shadow entered their path. David saw it before Lilly, but did not react in time. A fist came out of nowhere and David fell back as Lilly’s arm slipped from his shoulder—she fell back against a rock. The cattails deadened the fall somewhat, but still her head reeled. She saw through the cattails the fighting, but she saw little else. David broke through the wall of cattails, and he grasped her around her waist. He made a colossal leap for the opposite bank, and he made it. He lifted Lilly in his arms again, Lilly didn’t care, she was unsteady, and her vision was fuzzy. David darted for the mall at a strenuous pace. “Where?” Lilly uttered dumbly. “I’ve immobilized him, but he won’t stay that way for long.” Lilly sensed something wrong in the air. Everything and nothing, there was some warning in her mind that made little sense. They burst through the doors of Sears, the
department store, they had made it. Flash of familiar faces. Voices as a fog clouding her mind. Everything was blurred. Something wasn’t right and then there was—nothing. -- o -Strange curtains and patterns dominated her vision. She was on something soft, yet not too soft. It crinkled when she moved. Somehow she guessed it wasn’t the first time she had woken here. The crinkling seemed vaguely familiar. She was hungry, but not as hungry as she should have been, and she wasn’t thirsty at all. “Are you ready for food?” she spun her head to see David carrying a bowl of soup, his eyes instantly reflected his surprise. “You’re alive! I knew you would come around eventually.” “Where am I?” “You don’t remember?” “Where am I?” Lilly persisted finding herself irritated. “We made it to the Firmount Mall Lilly, your friends they found us, and we escaped the vampire chasing us. You took a blow to the head. It’s been a week since we got here. You’ve woken several times but you seemed catatonic, you wouldn’t respond to questions or hand movement. You would however eat, and so I fed you what I could.” “My friends?” “DJ and Alison. From them I received your name finally.” Lilly looked at his smiling face. She hadn't realized, she had never told him. She could see in the fluorescent light that his hair was black. Lilly’s heart skipped a beat, yes she found him alluring but she didn’t like it one bit. Her mind wandered back to her so called friends.
Yes she knew them but she herself wouldn’t quite call them friends. DJ was the class sleeper, and Alison was more of Clint’s friend then hers. Jordan, Alison, Clint—in school they were a trio of friends, that only occasionally involved Lilly. Max for the most part kept Lilly away from them, and Lilly let him, for her popularity. Clint and Max had a mutual distaste in each other. She had no real relationship with either Alison nor DJ, but yes she knew them. “Can you feed yourself this time?” he asked, pulling her back to reality, as he pulled a chair over to sit beside the half-bed. Half-bed, yes that’s what it was. One of the beds that the department stores displayed sheets and other bedclothes on. She nodded and he handed her the bowl of chicken noodles. She snatched it from him and greedily ate it. After she ate she found herself full of renewed strength. She threw the argyle afghan off herself revealing the white cotton nightgown she wore. Her eyes darted to David who instantly put his hands up in a defensive gesture. “I’m not the one who dressed you, don’t worry, you owe Erin for that.” “I’m not going to ask who Erin is.” Lilly answered with frustration. She pulled the skirt of the gown up to reveal her leg—fully healed. Her eyes went wide when she saw it —it looked like nothing had ever happened to it! “How could this happen?” “Someone has blessed…” “Shut up! I don’t wanna hear any blessing crap. I want to know how this can literally occur.” “There is no explanation” a woman said as she entered the room. Her eyes were a cloudy gray and her hair was of honey. She looked older, maybe 30s. She looked lovely, and all things in the room gravitated towards her.
“Lilly meet Erin, she’s been taking care of you more-so then I have.” “Yes me and the little one.” She smiled at Lilly, and Lilly caught the gray eyes of a little girl hiding behind Erin’s legs.” Lilly smiled and pointed. “Yes that’s little Tilly, she’s a little shy.” The little girl smiled and jumped up on to the half-bed. Lilly laughed fondly, already she liked Erin, and Tilly. “Tilly, is she your?” “Yes, Tilly is my daughter.” Erin smiled at her. Lilly liked Erin’s smile. It was like stolen sunshine in a dark dreary world. “Do you have a job sweetie?” “No, I mean, I did, but I guess I don’t anymore.” “Where did you work?” “At a seamstress.” “So you can sew?” “Very well I should like to think.” “Well everyone here has a job, a job in the community, to better the community, and to keep us from the vampires, some of us are in defense, some of us, your friends, are foragers, others are doctors,” she indicated David, then continued. “Some of us like me are specialty cooks.” “Specialty cooks?” “Do you fancy peelin’ potatoes?” “Potatoes?” “I love potatoes, I know almost any way to cook them, and it’s what I do here, my daughter Tilly helps me and learns the trade. It’s a family thing.” Lilly smiled, “Others
still entertain with small skits, or poetry, record our troubles, and some adjust the clothing that the foragers find to fit the people here.” “I would enjoy doing that.” “Then do it you shall.” Erin smiled at Lilly. "How do you all get everything?" Lilly asked sitting up more properly. David watched her out of the corner of his eye. Lilly knew that the mall contained a lot of stores where they could procure necessary supplies, but sometime food had to run out. "Well dearie, the power still works to a degree, they haven't knocked that all out, though we try to use as little as possible, make very little noise, very little power consumption. Also we get regular deliveries from an outside source. Most here call it The Source, but we owe our survival to whoever it is, we get regular deliveries of food and supplies. We try to stick to one part, no one really wants to be too far from anyone else." Lilly watched Erin detail everything. "Do we know anything else about anywhere else?" Erin shifted her eyes a little. "There's notes, only a select few of us are allowed to see them. With the supplies." David responded. “I’d like to walk around for a bit alone if you all don’t mind, explore on my own you know.” “Don’t go too far.” Erin stated, "And if you need anything, Look in the food court, I'll be watchin' for ya'." Lilly nodded and took her leave of them. The little girl wanted to follow but Erin restrained her. Lilly walked the one hall that the camp was contained in for a while before she finally saw someone she knew. “DJ!” she yelped.
“Lilly?” he asked, somewhat lumbering. “How are you?” “Huh?” “How are you?” she repeated. “Oh, tired.” “You’re always tired, how did you get here?” “Actually I don’t know, Alison found me, I’m not sure where, I can’t quite remember what happened.” Lilly looked at his dark face. There was a very identifiable scar across his face. “You were probably asleep.” The two laughed happily together. His face suddenly made a shift to seriousness. “What is it DJ?” He looked at her then pulled her to the side. “You know that Erin girl?” “What about her?” “She kind of scares me.” “Scares you?” “Yes, something about her, and even her little daughter just isn’t quite right.” “I wouldn’t know why you’d think that.” “Well for one reason have you seen her cat, Crystal?” “She has a cat?” “I can’t believe you haven’t seen it, that cat follows her everywhere!” “I only just woke up this is my first time out and about.” “Well anyhow, I’ve seen her like talking to the cat”
“Lot’s of people talk to their cats,” “Yeah but there’s always an unrecognizable voice in the room when she does, I think it’s the cat.” “DJ, have you lost your mind? Cat’s don’t talk! “Yeah, but it seems convincing enough to me, something just ain’t right about that family.” “You’re silly, they’re really nice! By the way, where does anyone sleep around here?” “Wherever they find an open bed.” “Oh alright, well hey, I’d love to talk to you more, I’m just really tired,” that was an understatement on Lilly’s part. “Next time we meet I’ll see if I can get Alison to come, that is if I can tear her away from her scavenging, I tell you, she likes doing that stuff way too much.” Lilly understood scavenging, only barely, she didn’t know all the details of the job, but right now she was too tired to care about any of the mindless paraphernalia of this place. All Lilly wanted was sleep. She didn’t care where it was she found it, she just wanted to sleep somewhere, so she went back to the half-bed she had awoken upon. She found there on the bedspread a little paper flower and she smiled. She knew who had left it. Little did she know but it wasn’t the first of its kind. A week later Lilly had settled into her job as a pseudo tailor. Lilly loved to play with little Tilly, it reminded her so much of her own little sister Rachel—Erin had become a pseudo mother. She saw David less often then she would have liked. She hated to admit this to herself—really she hadn’t ever thanked him though. She was working on
a pretty serious crush for the older guy. She pushed away these feelings with scorn. Her daydreams had cost her much concentration in the work she did—Lilly poked herself with the needle quite often, something she had never been clumsy enough to do before. DJ she saw little of as well, though she did discover exactly why. Alison did not like leaving her duties. She left them to bring in the materials she found and that was all, she loved to be outside, loved to thwart the vampires that indelibly passed over their heads. She liked to risk her neck with heedless attention, afterall, that was DJ’s job. DJ at all times carried a gun, he was to protect her. The guns did little but stun the vampires, for a fraction of a second and piss them off. Once thoroughly pissed, they tended to go after the protector instead of the scavenger. If the team were ever to meet a vampire in the field the protector would more often then not have to sacrifice his life. Lilly couldn't figure out why DJ had picked such a job, but then, it was like everything else, just something you lived with. It was one dark and frigid morning Lilly woke up to see David at one of the gates, it was too early in the morning for her to be woken up. The moon hadn’t even risen yet. Still Lilly was intrigued, there were stretchers outside the shop her half-bed was in. She stepped out of the bed silently and went to investigate. Alison was there, and she was holding the hand of one of the people on the stretchers. She was holding the hand of a pregnant female. A young pregnant female. DJ stood behind Alison, and in his eyes placed amidst his dark features Lilly saw he was horrified by what he saw. Lilly ventured a little closer. “They’re suffering from severe malnutrition, I can’t do anything!” David exclaimed to Alison in frustration. Lilly saw tears in Alison’s eyes, something she had
never seen was slowly decending Alison’s face. Lilly moved ever closer—her ever zealous curiosity eating her alive. David spun, and he saw her. His face was pained and strained, and he turned from her quickly, yet he did not tell her to go away. Alison looked up at her, and Lilly finally reached the point where she could see the face of the pregnant woman lying there. David had turned away lost in his ashamed consternation, he couldn’t do anything for them. Lilly recoiled in surprise and terror at the site she saw there. “Lilly…” the form spoke, it smiled, no it couldn’t be. It was impossible! No, this couldn’t be, no! Lilly screamed. She awoke in a cold sweat, she was grabbed, someone was holding her in their arms. She looked up to see David’s face. It was the exact time it had been in the dream, it was just before the moon rose. “Awful!” Lilly yelped finding her voice missing. “I know, I know, it’s all right, you’re safe.” Lilly looked up and she let herself take comfort in his arms. "Why me?" She cried into his chest. He soothed her cooed to her until her crying stopped. She looked up at him a few moments later her face in a blush her eyes sticky from her crying she wiped it away. Wishing that he hadn't seen her like that, she was weak, but he had been there. "Why are you always here to help me?" She demanded, angry now. "Truthfully, it's your eyes, they tell a sad story, and speak of so much more I can't describe, your eyes endear me to you. I feel I must know you better." She stared at him, it was so sincere, she wasn't used to guys talking to her that way. Lilly knew her eyes were
a unique color but no one ever talked about her like that. He brushed a lock of hair out of her face. "You should see Erin, she'll make you nice and warm, she'd be much better at this than I am." He said fondly. His voice, it charmed her, but she refused to admit to him that she would rather stay there with him than go anywhere else. She let him walk her to Erins and she sat in the kitchen while Erin made her some oatmeal. David left her then, Tilly slept softly on a matress pad somewhere nearby, Lilly could hear the soft breathing, whereas Erin's angora cat was curled up near the stove. It eyed her occasionally. "Erin?" Lilly asked "Yes dear?" "How come the vampires can't just walk in here and take everything away?" Lilly watched Erin, oddly enough Erin looked down at the cat who looked back up at her before she gave her answer. "It's not really something I'm supposed to discuss with others, the notes say that some of them can enter places at will but others have to be invited in. Or brought in with a human crowd, they have special ways of shielding themselves from being detected and have brought down countless numbers of camps like this one. Masquerade as an injured person then get brought in by the scavengers, once one gets in they can all get in. It's an effective method," she said stirring the large pot of oatmeal. "Either way most people who come to the camps are injured, being forewarned as we are one of the only reasons you were brought in was because Alison recognized you." She looked at Lilly, calculating her reaction. Lilly didn't react. She thought about it, all day, she thought of
Erin's words. This place wasn't without its own mysteries, the deliveries, the notes that told them the way things worked outside. She went to bed after working only to find David there waiting. "Why did you come back?" "You have a lot of nightmares." "What's your point?" Lilly asked crawling underneath her covers. "Oftentimes all you need is to know someone's there to help them go away." He indicated a recliner that hadn't been in Lilly's little corner of the outlet before. Then she looked at him. He smiled, she was too tired to argue. She put her head upon the pillow and watched as he climbed into the chair folding his arms over his chest and moving into a comfortable sleeping position. She watched his chest fall into an even rhythm like before in the forest, her heavy lids fell, and she entered a dreamless sleep. Chapter 10 Few people cared to keep track of the time, it only reminded them how long they hadn’t seen the sun—how long it had been since any of them had seen family and friends. Those who did, knew it was nearing Christmas-time, and although they had been defeated and stripped of all spirit and hope, they wished to keep some kind of tradition alive. This was an account that all those in the camp agreed with. The things of Christmas were symbols, symbols of how long humanity had endured and they filled the people with fleeting hope. The scavengers, so unlike their nature had banded together to retrieve a tree, and somehow they all managed to make it back alive and unscathed. The ornaments were made up of things that each person found, some even found actual ornaments in the
abandoned kiosks scattered haphazardly about. The ornaments too were symbols, pendants of care for other people. Each ornament on the tree was dedicated to someone else, as if they were gifts—there were not many real gifts to go around. David kept busy in the infirmary, however his time was becoming exponentially less crowded. Save for the common scraped knee and illnesses, and the occasional broken bone David was essentially becoming needed less and less. The refugees, trickled in by small numbers now, the vampires were growing stronger. The ornaments in the main were made of things that they had lost with the sun, most rudimentary and hardly recognizable. Lilly had created an ornament out of the foil wrappings of the Hershey’s Kisses she often found on her pillow, it was in the shape of a heart. It was before the mass dinner, each cook making one particular dish for the “feast” they would consume. Lilly had a little time, they had decided not to work today, and so Lilly was doing nothing. She decided that she would circle the tree and look at all the various ornaments the people had made. The first thing Lilly noticed was the sheer amount of suns. Everyone missed it, and many had turned it into an ornament. Lilly smiled remorsefully, she was about to return to her seat when she caught a glimmer of something in her eye. There was an ornament near the top—which wasn’t very far from Lilly’s reach. It was made of glass, and it caught the light exquisitely. The ornament was a snowflake, and it possessed a preternatural beauty. Lilly reached up, she wanted to see the dedication on this beautiful piece of art thrown among random pieces of trash made to look like
things they lost. A hand alit upon her shoulder, catching her off guard and pulling her from her reverie. She withdrew her hand and turned to look into the face of Alison. “Lilly, it’s so nice to see you.” “Yes it is, finally away from your scavenging, I see.” Lilly said sardonically. “Actually they won’t let me go scavenging today, they barred the doors of the complex against me.” “Seems fitting, you bring in the most valuable things from your trips out, yet you’re never around to congratulate, I wonder how many gifts you will receive.” “Gifts are scarce, there won’t be many for everyone, people will be lucky if they get one.” “I made the cute little girl a necklace from random things I found on the floor.” “You are different from most. For the most part people for Christmas always bought their gifts, the majority of them don’t know how to make a gift, and wouldn’t have the creativity to make a gift from the things available to them.” Lilly nodded in agreement, it was true. She had never once received a handmade gift from any of her friends, or even her mother. Rachel on the other hand was another story. The memory of Rachel at Christmas-time made a single tear run down her cheek. “Would you look at that? That ornament is beautiful, I’d like to know how the creator cut that glass,” she paused puzzling at it. “Eh, the person probably just found it somewhere, it’s a wonderful find though.” Lilly looked at Alison. Alison’s eyes were dazed, she really was addicted to the scavenging she did. Lilly knew then that Alison was a survivor, and no matter what happened, they would never take Alison alive. “Who made it?” Alison said, turning to Lilly for the answer.
“I don’t know.” “It won’t say, that there was brought in with the supplies this mornin’ came from The Source.” Lilly heard Erin’s boisterous kind voice. She turned around to see Erin on her way to the kitchen, carrying a giant bowl of potatoes. “Would ya girls mind helpin’ me peel these, Tilly’s gone off with some of the other children, and I’ll never get my dish done without some help.” Lilly and Alison looked at each other. Lilly smiled at Erin and nodded. “I have nothing better to do so why not.” Alison replied, tearing herself away from the mysterious ornament. They all ate dinner together, happily, satisfied or as happy and satisfied as people with no one left in the world could be. There was DJ, Alison, Lilly, and Tilly. It pained Lilly to be near the child—she was just too much like Rachel, and Lilly missed her sister something terrible. She had tried her hardest to forget anything and everything in her past. Tilly loved the beads though, and she played with them constantly throughout dinner. It was a while before Lilly noticed that the entire group was being watched. She turned around to see the piercing eyes of the Siamese cat. “That thing’s still alive?” “It belongs to David” Alison said, spooning peas into her mouth. A frown featured prominently on DJ’s face, and he mumbled something. “Why is it we even bother to keep the cats around, I mean Erin’s Crystal, David’s cat, why are they here?” Lilly wondered.
“They keep jobs just as the other people here Lilly, take Crystal, she’s a mouser, she keeps mice from the food supplies, I don’t know what Ariel does.” “Ariel?” “Yeah, David calls her something else, but no one can really pronounce it and it’s too long, so Tilly nicknamed her Ariel because she has the blue eyes of that mermaid in that film she used to love.” She remarked offhandedly. “I don’t like cats.” DJ chipped in. “Anyway, we made something for ya Lil’, DJ where did you put it?” “I have it here in our bag,” he said, keeping a watchful eye on the cat. He pulled it from the bag and set it on the table, and Lilly gasped. It was an angel, an artistic angel. The wings were made from peacock feathers found god knows where. The body was a tin funnel, which made the angel’s body unnaturally skinny, but still beautiful. The eyes were made from blue-green beads and the hair was made from some patch of plush, light, blond looking fur. Lilly burst into tears at the recognition. The angel resembled Rachel, to the finest detail, the face looked youthful and adorable and Lilly’s desire to hold her in her arms right then was overpowering. “We know how much you miss her” DJ said. “Yes, and we felt we had to make it for your sake.” Alison said, grasping her hand tenderly. It was the first outbreak of emotion Lilly had seen in Alison. Lilly stared at Alison and noticed her gaze did not shift with the sudden distraction of people starting to sing. Lilly’s face turned sour, she did not want to be here now, she wanted to run off, she wanted to be on her own for a while. She stood up and ran off in another direction. DJ moved to follow her but Alison stopped him.
“Let her go, she needs some time.” -- o -Lilly sat on the service stairs alone sobbing despairingly. What was it all for? Lilly never was a believer in fate, yet she so wanted to believe it now. It had to have happened for some reason! There just had to be reason in it, there just had to be! Her sister was gone, her best friend was dead, and everything was different, everything was dark. Change, change was a good thing right, or at least it was supposed to be? No, Lilly couldn’t believe that this change was good. There had to be some way; some way that she was still only dreaming. Some way…David sat down beside her on the stairs. He wrapped his arms around her comfortingly, and Lilly buried her face in his chest. Why fight what she felt. Lilly had always been the strong one, she had a right to break down now. It was her God-given right, and Lilly wasn’t about to run away from it this time. It seemed to her that David understood everything. He understood the agony she felt everyday. The agony she felt every time she laid eyes on a human being, and anything else for that matter. She loved him then, she knew it, she loved him for being who he was. She loved him for the warmth of his arm, and the tenderness of his touch. For his silence she loved him, and for his kindness. She had never felt that way about anyone, it made Lilly think that something in him wasn’t quite right. She didn’t care anymore. She surrendered herself to his whim. She looked up at him with teary eyes and he leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Lilly forgot her troubles and lost herself to the mysterious man. Ariel the cat watched from a place nearby, if cats could carry expressions, hers was almost smug.
Through the skylights above, the others singing at the tree could see the snow falling softly, familiarly, as if nothing had changed. -- o -A single year passed on the swift wings of happiness. Lilly was no less in love with David, if anything she was more his own. Yet the overall morale of the people in the camp was dropping drastically, it was nearing the anniversary of the darkness. They had not taken on anyone new for several months. Lilly knew the vampires had a greater grip, but she didn’t care. She was happy, why should she care about the depressing thoughts of everyone else? She woke up with a start. She knew that according to calculations this was it, this was the day that the darkness had descended upon them. It was dark and it was chilly, it was that early part of the day, a couple hours before the moon rose. She noticed a dull commotion congregating outside the room. Lilly was curious, she got out of bed and went to the entrance. What she saw chilled her bones down to their marrow. She made a small yelp and Alison looked up, there were tears in her eyes. DJ’s face was full of horror. Lilly told herself to wake up, this wasn’t real, it couldn’t be. It had been a dream before—Lilly wasn’t psychic! She pinched herself and it hurt, no Lilly wasn’t dreaming. Lilly put her hand to her mouth to stop herself from screaming in disgust and terror. “Lilly…” the young pregnant female trailed off, she was struggling to breath. Lilly knew neither she nor the child she carried would live. She could see that by her eyes —they seemed to be sinking back into her skull ever so slowly, yet she struggled to
maintain a regular breathing pattern. She was thin unto death, she had been starved, and she had been through too much strenuous activity to reach this point. “David, where’s David?” Lilly asked Alison, grasping her arm to steady her in that horrified state. “David’s been here, he can’t do anything for her, the others died moments after they came in. David went out to look for more. Lilly she has to talk to you!” “He went out!” Lilly yelped thinking only of herself. The emaciated form on the table did not even seem slightly human. Alison spun her around, forcing Lilly to look into her eyes. “Lilly! She needs you!” Lilly wormed her way out of Alison’s grasp and stumbled back trying to regain her wits. She looked to the form of her long lost friend. She did owe her friend that much respect, the respect of her company as she died. She took a few deep breaths before kneeling down beside the cot. She grasped the fragile gaunt hand of Emily Mae Reinford, pregnant and near death. She looked down at her belly. “You’re…” “It’s dead…Undernourished…like me” Her voice was as air—barely audible to Lilly’s ears—softer then a spring breeze—more fragile then the petal of a flower. She took a few more laborious breaths. Lilly was appalled by the condition she was in. She looked so different, so completely changed from the popular girl she once was—yet Lilly recognized her still. The tears began to pervade her stricken face. “I’m dying…nothing you can do…” “There’s got to be something!” Lilly exclaimed. Lilly felt Emily lightly squeeze her hand with what little effort she could spare. She smiled sadly at Lilly.
“No…” her face suddenly turned sour, as if she had something of great importance to say. She was struggling even more to breath, Lilly knew that the only reason Emily was still alive was because she was forcing herself to breath. This was it and Lilly knew it. “Lilly, great danger…They’re coming...” Emily seemed about to attempt to say more, whatever she would have said came out as a moan, and Emily’s chest settled into a stagnant position. She was dead staring at Lilly with dead urgency. Her hand slipped languidly from Lilly’s. Lilly backed away she was disgusted and repulsed by the nature of the dead body lying on the cot. She stumbled a bit as she stepped backwards, but regained her balance instantly—still she stared at Emily lying there—dead. “Lilly?” Alison inquired. Lilly turned around to look into Alison’s worried face. “No, I don’t believe it, it’s not real!” Lilly cried out. “Lilly!” Alison cried as Lilly ran from the scene. She ran though she didn't know where she was running to. All of them there knew the importance of that message, even if Emily had more to say just to Lilly, her message to the entire camp was clear. The vampires were coming, one way or another, they would get in. She was caught in the enveloping arms of a friend. Lilly let herself be wrapped in the embrace and she cried. “It’s all my fault!” “No Lilly.” Erin stated softly. “It is! Everything’s my fault!” “No Lilly, one cannot change who they are” “I’m a murderer!”
“No, the life you live is a hard one indeed, but you were born who you were and you cannot change your destiny. Learn from the past, it is your teacher, but you cannot hold it against your future, one would die if they lived like that.” Lilly looked up into Erin’s soft and cloudy face. Lilly watched as the clouds seemed to emanate from her eyes, lightning striking among them, lighting them with animosity. She saw cliffs, and grass, green, but in the thunder she saw it stained crimson. Something wasn’t right, not right with either Erin or Tilly. She knew then that neither were who they proposed to be. Somehow they seemed inhuman. Memories pressed in around her as the clouds. They accosted her unbalanced her—they were unrecognizable—someone other than herself—screaming, lots and lots of screaming. “Is she all right?” the voice drifted through the fog, awakening Lilly to her senses. To her enhanced senses. Erin sent Lilly a smile she did not receive, her suspicions of her surrogate mother were rising rapidly like waves rising against rocky cliffs. The clouds were gone, but still Erin glowed with unnatural light. Lilly stared at her without bothering to disguise her suspicions. Erin didn’t seem to notice, or if she did, she didn’t care. “She’ll be fine, death is hard to witness up close.” She answered, Alison nodded and Lilly turned to face them. Lilly tried to shake off these alien feelings inside her, yet they continued to pulse inside her despite her best efforts to stifle them. “I need to be alone for a while.” Lilly stated suddenly. “You sure you don’t want to go scavenging with me and DJ?” “I need to be alone for a while” Lilly repeated, turning her back to them as she walked away. She walked to the very edge of the inhabited wing, and she stood at the barrier that led to the rest of the mall, the unsafe part of the mall. No one was in this part,
and no one ever came here. Understandably the survivors liked to stay together whenever possible. When you were alone the darkness pressed on you from all sides, suffocating you in your memories of who you used to be, or where you would be if none of it had happened. Lilly stared at it removed from herself. She sat down as she stared out at the dark part of the mall. Everything was different now. Nothing was what it was. Emily had died coming here to warn her of danger. Alison showing emotion, Erin glowing like a light-bulb, and her lover was missing. Her lover had gone out to search for more people. A while later Lilly felt eyes upon her. She slowly turned her head to face Alison standing alone. This was rare of Alison, at all times she had DJ around her, but not this time. She carried something long covered in cloth. She moved forward slightly after she knew she had Lilly's attention. She kneeled down in front of Lilly, placing the long package on the floor and uncovering the cloth to reveal a samurai sword. “I found this in one of those antique shops. There were a few displayed in a case on the wall. I found them intriguing and I kept them. Moments ago I broke the glass to retrieve them. I felt you should have one if you were going to be off alone.” “Thank you Alison” Lilly said, reverently taking the sword and strapping it’s hilt around her back. “I checked, they’re extremely sharp.” “All right Alison.” “I’ll leave you alone now, but I thought you should know, I'm leaving, for good.” Alison turned to leave. Lilly had no doubt that Alison would make it out safe, and alive. “Alison?”
“Yeah?” “Has David returned yet?” “No, DJ is already out there looking for him and I’m about to leave myself.” Alison turned away again. Her long dark brown hair followed her. “Alison?” she turned to Lilly again, seemingly irritated. “Yes?” “Be careful.” Alison smiled and turned away. Lilly thought a moment about her once more. Somehow she felt inside her that she would never see Alison again—her feelings frightened her. Why were they so acutely different from what they were before the darkness? What was happening, and where was the danger. Lilly sat there idly staring, believing she would never see any of them again—she herself could feel the danger closing in. Chapter 11 It must have been hours later for the moon itself was setting. Lilly had fallen asleep amidst her listless stare. She had been having nightmares, but not ones you wake up screaming from. She was stirred from her sleep by light pressure on her shoulders. Lilly looked up tiredly, but instantly the tired look fell away into happy surprise. “David!” Lilly immediately jumped up and into the warmth of his arms. Pressing her body against him. She stepped back looking at him, his face was gaunt and pained. He was hiding something. “What is it?” “Vampires, they’re close, we think they’re planning something.” “But they can’t get in right?” Lilly looked up at him hopefully. He stared back at her. There was something he wasn't telling her and she knew it.
“In theory.” David remarked, under his breath. He stared at the abundant worries in her face and he leaned in to kiss her. Lilly loved his soft kisses, never the aberrant, lustful tongue kisses of Max, these were softer, sweeter. Like a butterfly alighting on one’s nose in a long forgotten spring. Sharp. “Ow!” Lilly stepped back touching her fingers to her lip. She pulled them back to look at them. There was blood there, she tasted it in her mouth. She looked up surprised, there was nothing wrong. David hadn't changed at all. “Are you all right?” David asked her. “Yeah, I guess…” Lilly stated confusedly. He wrapped his arms around her destroying any of the confusion left inside her with a laser and she looked up at him. “Come I want to show you something, do you trust me?” “With all my heart.” Lilly said adoringly. He smiled a small smile at her and grabbed her hand. He led her into the dark uncharted part of the mall, much to her surprise. She did trust him, she wasn’t about to question his actions. He didn’t look back, he seemed to know exactly what he was doing. The mall was shaped like an octagon, the larger stores being on the diagonal sides, and the small stores being along the sides in between. The camp was along one of the longer sides of the mall, starting at Sears—it cut off before reaching Mervyn’s. Still he led her down past Mervyn’s. On the left side, towards the interior of the octagon, where there should have been another store there was instead a hallway. He took her down this hallway. There were circular mirrors lining the ceiling, and long sliver windows every few feet.
The pair came upon a glass door with opaque windows along the side. Lilly’s attention was directed to the sign on the door. Peterson Memorial Gardens—coming soon. One of the windows had been broken away, and through it Lilly saw exactly what he wanted her to see. Her eyes widened to let in the irreparable beauty in the place. It was a tropical garden, and Lilly saw a beautifully plumed bird fly past and into another tree. The sounds in here were completely shielded from the rest of the mall. There was mist here, mist that came from a manmade waterfall crashing against the rocks at it’s base. The floor was essentially dirt, save for the congregation of stones that made up a path through it to the other side where there was an identical door. In the very center there was a fountain, a common decoration in malls. The plants by the broken window were browning, and dying, the others were suspended in unbroken beauty and life. They had to have grown because it was almost a jungle in the garden. The walls on the side were mirrors to make the retreat look bigger, and the ceiling was a glass dome, built to let in the sun. It was humid in the room. Lilly reverently proceeded to remove her shoes and socks, without removing her eyes from the beautiful spectacle that satisfied her hunger for life other then that of her fellow humans. She stepped to the soil as if she feared it would burn her. She shivered with pleasure as she dug her feet into the soft cool dirt beneath her feet. The stones were a form of discomfort and Lilly quickly left the path to head for the manmade waterfall and river, ignoring the sign that said stay on the path. Who was there to care? She stepped into the water and felt it brush against her skin with it’s soft caressing coolness. She turned to David.
"How is this all here?" "I reckon that while the sky is dark, and we can't see the sun, that there is still UV rays that permeate the darkness. If the sun were just gone all life on earth would end, so it couldn't just be gone. Besides I've treated a fair share of sun-burns despite the lack of sun." David smiled as he watched her turn back to take pleasure in this remarkable sight. There were sprinklings of plants and flowers in the water and all about the entire environment. There were butterflies and fireflies that caused the light to play off the dew covered plants. The fireflies swirled about Lilly, she glowed with beauty. She closed her eyes in her exquisite happiness. She had forgotten all the tribulations of her day and David moved slowly to her, joining her. She opened her eyes finding David directly in front of her. She fell back, tripping and falling with a large splash into the cool stream. David laughed fondly and her, at the way she had been disheveled by the water. Her wet hair obstructed her vision and dripped with water. Lilly shaped her face into a playful frown. She kicked his legs from under him, and he too fell backwards into the water. Lilly laughed at him—he splashed her with water. She splashed back at him after throwing her hands up in defense. They played for a while until they were so soaked and cold that they had to crawl up to the bank, collapsing with exhaustion. Both were laughing happily his was so deep and enchanting. The laughing slowly decayed into silence so they could resume their regular pattern of breathing. They lay there beside each other staring at the dark sky through the ceiling.
David propped himself up on his arm, staring into her distant face. Her breathing was slow, regulated, yet his handsomeness distracted her--pulled her eyes to his. His face was so perfect in every respect. A glimmer of sadness passed through him, Lilly didn’t understand why. He leaned in to kiss her, shivers and warmth. She felt so happy and wonderful. She didn’t want to be anywhere else. Forever always with him in his arms. So she had power, so what it meant nothing. She felt this power in her blood now, set aflame by her love for him, if she could save any moment in the world, it would be this moment with him, in the tropical garden that seemed to fit him so well. Sharp knives shredded the moment in surprise and startling suddenness. A little girls scream pierced the air with arrows of fear. Lilly sat up immediately, David’s head spun around instinctively. David almost seemed to know it was coming, yet his alarm was genuine. He pulled her up off the ground urging her towards the fountain, unsure of himself for the first time Lilly had ever seen. “David, what’s happening?” he pushed her down so that she sat on the ledge of the fountain as it gushed it’s sparkling diamonds into the air. “Lilly, I love you, I have always loved you, and I will forever. Wear this ring, keep it safe, we will meet again. You must run away from this. They don't know you're here.” He slipped a band of silver onto her finger. Her hand was motionless, that of a doll, and he posed it with ease. Lilly looked at the ring, it fit her so perfectly, how had he found it? It was a band etched with berried vines. The berries were made of encrusted jewels. It was a beautiful ring, but Lilly didn’t have time to appreciate it.
They heard another scream, this one closer, people were running. Running from the terror that pursued them relentlessly. David looked towards the entrance, he knew they were coming, he knew they intended to harm her. He knew she could not escape if she ran. Maybe had she left with Alison maybe she could escape, but not now. It was too late, he had backed himself into a corner. He looked back to her, Lilly knew his fear, Lilly knew she couldn’t run. Showers of glass rained down upon them, David moved to shield her from the sharpness of this glass. The sky was shattering, falling down, her world was crashing into oblivion. A shadow fell, and grabbed Lilly from David. David looked up at her from his back on the ground, and he watched as she felt herself lifted from the ground. He didn't look afraid, but she knew that he couldn't survive, he would die, just as the garden would die. She screamed. She was in the air, held firmly by the unidentifiable shadow. She felt the searing pain of the scratches the glass had inflicted upon her. Some of the shards were still embedded in her skin. The dark cloak protected Lilly from the air that rushed past, burning her skin as if the wind was pulling it from her bones. The shadow did not slow its speed despite her fragility. The night was calm, but Lilly was not. She was terrified. She shut her eyes tight against the stream of air. Against the vertigo that would ensue were she to open them. Lilly knew from the inhuman grasp he had on her, and the fact that he flew, her kidnapper was a vampire, and Lilly wanted to scream—she was too afraid to scream anymore.
Lilly had the sensation they weren’t alone. She refused to open her eyes, and yet through her mind she saw strange flashes of things. Black and white pictures of what was going on around her. Yes, they were surrounded in the air. There was one on each side of the shadow, then one below him too, they were other vampires. Lilly’s first thought was that they were escorts. There to make sure Lilly reached her destination indefinitely. This is what she thought until she felt the jar of collision. They battered the shadow holding her. Lilly had no understanding of this. She didn’t understand what was going on! She knew they were trying to dislodge her but she couldn’t figure out why. The shadow continued despite this battery—still Lilly felt his grip loosing it’s strength. He spoke to her then, she deduced he could read her mind as myth told. He whispered directly in her ear, so close, his voice lost on the wind. “I won’t let you fall, but you may have to fight.” Another image flashed in her mind, she saw a building. It was a large brick building, an old abandoned building, abandoned before the darkness. The vague shadow along with her and the others were nearing it. Another flash—Lilly saw a window, a thin window with broken glass, and she knew they would hit it. Moments later the remaining glass crashed about them. The shadow rolled and jumped to his feet without a moment to spare. He grabbed the colar of Lilly’s shirt and pulled her to her sore bare feet. “Grab your sword, to kill them remove their heads.” Lilly did pull the katana from its sheath, but she did not aim it towards the window. She aimed it towards the captor, he who had so swiftly pulled her away from her love, abandoning him to the vampires whim. She readied to send his head rolling on the ground when through the window a
fiend jumped at her, causing her to fall to the floor, the weapon went skittering across the room. “Lilly!” the shadow turned. Lilly was shocked to paralysis as the vampire bound her wrists and ankles. She couldn’t believe her eyes, but she knew as his dark hair spun to face the onslaught of the other two, she knew her eyes told no lie. His name drummed painfully in her head—Clint. Lilly screamed for lack of anything else to protest the situation. No, Clint was dead, yet there he was, defending her again. Although he was a bit more prepared this time. She heard something hit the floor, then saw the face staring at her. It stared at her and it blinked--its mouth was an o as if it would scream. It wasn't attached to a body anymore. Lilly screamed at it. The vampire who had bound her stuffed a sock in her mouth immediately stifling her scream. Lilly tasted the sweat in the sock, it was not new. She wanted to spit it out but couldn't and her hands were tied. “I don’t think so!” Clint yelled as Lilly saw the white streak of metal appear across his throat, the vampire’s face registered one of anger, of hatred. Lilly fell to the floor with a painful thud, and the vampire, and his head fell on top of her. Lilly stared at it appalled and unbelieving. Clint pulled the body of the vampire away and he smacked the head across the room. Lilly stared up at him with disbelief. He stepped towards her and she inched away. So he used his own speed to near her. She yelped as he removed the sock from her mouth and tossed that away with the head. Lilly saw a total of three decapitated bodies on the floor.
“You’re not real!” Lilly yelped as he pulled her to her feet against her will. He knew what a shock this was for her. He knew the thoughts in her head and he wished he didn’t. It hurt him what he saw in her mind. He chided himself for prodding that deep, and shut himself off from her. He grabbed the jeweled dagger from his boot and slit the ropes binding her wrists and feet. “I guess you didn’t miss me then.” “I thought you were dead!” she screamed. “Shut up, you’re gunna get us both killed.” He was nearing the windows he went to look out when he stepped back from it and watched a cat jumped to the edge. Lilly stared at the cat, no it couldn’t be—Ariel! None of what was happening made any logical sense. “God cat, can’t you leave me alone for once?” Clint cried at the cat. Lilly stared at Clint giving him an odd look. It was as if he was actually addressing the cat as if she would understand him. The cat stared at Lilly, and Clint spun to look at her confused face as well. He gasped, “You don’t know!” “Know what?” Lilly asked, accepting what she saw to survive. “You can’t leave by the window, I suggest the sewer.” Lilly’s eyes darted from Clint’s gaze to the cat. The cat sat on the sill washing itself innocently, but Lilly knew the female voice hadn’t come from nowhere. The cat looked up at her. “Lilly, cool it, calm down I’ll explain everything…” “Clint…the cat…” “Yes Lilly, you’re not crazy,” “Clint…the cat…”
“Chill, don’t you dare…” “Clint…it talks!” Lilly couldn’t stand these impossibilities anymore. Her head for all essential purposes shut itself down from shock. Clint a vampire, the cat she had been around for a year suddenly up and speaking English. None of it was right, none of it made sense—she fainted. Clint watched her limp body fall to the floor as the Siamese cat leapt down from the window. “Too late.” He stated sighing. He turned to the cat. “Now look what you’ve done! You couldn’t tell her sooner?” “She’s better off unconscious, she will travel more easily.” “The hell!” “You can disguise who she is by wrapping her in your cloak.” “How do you manage to be so annoying?” the cat watched with intelligent blue eyes as he wrapped Lilly in his cloak. His eyes caught on the artery in her neck for only a second when he felt the stinging sensation of scratches across his face. The cat hissed as the scratches on his face healed themselves. “What the hell did you do that for?!” “Get moving, and never stare at her like that again.” “I wasn’t even staring..” Clint said indignantly as he threw his light package over his shoulder. He started towards the creaking stairwell trailing the cat. He went out into the night air from there. He looked around carefully for anyone who might see him. “Here.” The cat stated as it stood by a manhole. “Lift this.”
“Oh yeah, I have to lift it.” Clint after placing Lilly carefully on the dark cement of the deserted road lifted the cover as if it were nothing more then a feather to him. He lifted Lilly again, and climbed down the ladder. The cat jumped from the top just before Clint lifted the manhole into place once more. The unlikely trio drifted into the sewers of Lakewood secretly, and unwatched. Chapter 12 The pungent smell of human excrement filled Lilly’s nostrils and had for some time. The smell had been what had woken her up from her faint, Ariel had gone off to search for her own food. Clint stood across from her quietly watching her from the other strip of cement. She had asked him to keep his distance until she sorted everything out. Clint was a vampire, okay Lilly could handle that. After all, he had saved her life once again hadn’t he? The cat talked, even that was believable if you disregarded the fact that it was a cat. Lilly struggled with that fact. “The cat talks.” “Yes Lilly.” Clint answered her for the umpteenth time. Lilly looked up, she didn’t need to ask again, she knew the cat talked, there was nothing she could do to deny it. Unless of course she went with her usual excuse that the whole thing was still a dream. She turned her eyes now to Clint. He looked so different to her. So changed from the transformation from human to vampire, and from friend to enemy. He wasn’t the happy-go-lucky bass player she once knew. He was upset, encased in a shell away from all prying eyes, yet Lilly saw his gloom, what she didn’t see was the cause.
“What happened to you?” she asked. She saw the glimmer of mischief in his eyes that she recognized as her friend. Still even the devilish gleam in his eye was dulled and full of contrition. “You sure you wanna’ know?” he asked her. Lilly stared at him earnestly. “Clint, you saved my life—more then once no less, listening to you is the least I can do.” There was a long silence before he answered her, the devilish gleam was gone. “They turned me into one of them so I would live in eternity as I watched the other people around me die horrible deaths, unable to escape, forever alone.” “Which vampire?” Lilly whispered reverently. “Narmer’s dispassionate first knight, Damon. He gave me this dagger to serve as a temptation everyday. Big enough to make me suffer, small enough to not be able to take off my head. I know, I tried--multiple times, they knew I would. In my suffering I was forced to drink the blood of the humans dying as the festering pus oozed from their mouths, too slowly drowning them as it accumulated in their lungs. Humans sweating to death with fever, having no other drink I watched as they were reduced to the notion of drinking their own piss. Occasionally when the maggots had reached the people before I, I had to drink the blood of the rats themselves. Happy now?” he smiled at her taking a sickening pleasure in the way her face turned green—in the way she lurched forward and spilled her guts into the river of human sludge. Lilly stared at him with rancor. “If it hadn’t been for that damn cat I woulda never gotten out of there. In those cells of ceaseless purgatory I suffered a hatred for you that was unlike anything I’ve ever felt for any creature on the planet.” Lilly stared at him,
knowing by the way he stared at her that he spoke truth. Again silence plagued the fetid air. “The cat, how could she help you escape? She was always at the mall.” “That cat has devices in her that I can’t begin to understand. She gets around Lil’ then again, how many times did you really see her around at the mall Lilly?” “I didn’t see her much at all.” “She wasn’t there, despite all the cat can do, she can’t be in two places at once. Thank god, one of them is quite enough.” “You were watching me!” Lilly deduced. “Who the hell you think brought them all the food and supplies?” “You were The Source?” “Yes I was ‘The Source’ or whatever the hell else they called me. I couldn’t let the vampires find you, or let you die of starvation. I hate to admit it, but I’m bound to you in a way I can’t control, I have to protect you even against my best instincts.” He stared at her, the fire of his hatred for her alighting in his eyes. Lilly was hurt, yes her best friend was alive—to some degree—but he had changed irreparably to become something wholly against her. The single person who could have—would have offered her comfort in this time despised her for being who she was. Lilly was humbled by his revelations and still her curiosity prodded her to learn more. “How did the cat help you escape? Will you tell me that?” “You know you have a real knack for annoying people—if you hadn’t noticed that cat is a cunning and manipulative monster. She jumped through the bars of the sliver
I glamorously refer to as a window and she told me how to get out. She’s been around ever since, always when I least want her to be. You know I think—she’s actually more annoying then you” he smiled at her sardonically mocking her bruised heart. Lilly wanted to let the tears flow down her face more than anything else in the world, and still she couldn’t. “You know I thought that cat was only another hallucination, that’s why I listened to her originally.” “We must continue.” The former friends turned to see the cat walking down the side Clint was on. She walked past him and headed in a direction Lilly was familiar with. “We’re going back to the apartments aren’t we?” “A little slow on the uptake there? That’s where we’ve been heading all along genius.” Clint retorted. “What is with the vampires, why do they want me, I mean you said they are always looking for me, but why, what’s so special about me?” “Ariel hasn’t said exactly, well she doesn’t ever exactly say things ever but I know that you have the power in you to defeat Narmer and all the other vampires too. Or something like that. They actually didn't know you were at the mall, really that place was destroyed because they found out about me.” “Bullshit, I don’t believe it.” Lilly quickly found Clint directly beside her, and he pinned her to the wall of the sewer in anger. Ariel was too far ahead to notice the plight between them. “Bullshit?! Do you have any idea what goes on outside your protected little world Lilly?” Lilly was stunned at how quick he moved, at his assertive anger against her. “Everyone on earth rounded into camps that are probably better classified as farms.
There’s the human livestock, and then the crops that feed them are grown and harvested by the pregnant ones the idle ones who aren’t working on the procreation detail. They play with humans as they see fit, and you—you in your protected little world, people willing to spill their blood for you, and you—you’re the only one who can do anything about it and you deny it! Bullshit you say? It’s bullshit that you’re the only one who can save us. That fact is the only reason I don’t kill you where you stand. Shut-up and face the world Lilly, no one can do it for you.” Finally he released her. She stumbled back as he stormed away down the cellars small service ledge. He climbed the nearby ladder where Ariel stood waiting. “You bring the cat up” Clint yelled from the top. Ariel stared at Lilly as she picked her up with one arm. It was fairly uncomfortable but it would do, she had a tight grip. She braced herself on the ladder with her knees and one hand, it took her a considerable amount of time to get up. Ariel jumped from her arms as they reached the top. Clint dutifully reached down to grab her hand and help her up. He quickly pulled her out of the street and towards the building. In silence they meandered along for some time until they found the familiar place they knew well. They were home when they stepped through the broken glass of the doors and into the lobby. Lilly gasped at the sight before her eyes. It was awful here! The chandelier that had once hung elegantly from the ceiling was now in shambles on the floor. There were glass shards lying everywhere, and when they stepped they had to be careful. There was a once glorious Persian rug on the floor, but it had been eaten away at. Everywhere they directed their eyes there was dust.
Lilly had a sudden desire to go upstairs to her old room though she couldn’t remember why. Clint looked back, he was heading for the security room tagging along the cat. The cat too looked back and started towards Lilly, and then passed her and bounded up the steps. Lilly got ready to head up after the cat. She felt her shoulder yanked back, and she almost tripped down the steps. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Clint demanded. “Wherever the hell I want.” Lilly said, crossly pulling her arm away from his. She then continued up the steps heading for the sixteenth level on which she had once lived. “You’re crazy! What if you’re caught? The vampires aren’t far!” Clint whispered fiercely. “I have the power to destroy them don’t I?” Lilly said, smugly turning on her heels to give him the equally smug expression she wore. “You don’t know how to use them!” “Bullshit, I’ll just find it in myself.” “What do you feel right now?” “What??” Lilly asked confused. “What do you feel?” “I feel I’m being annoyed by my former best friend, that’s how I feel.” Clint shook his head at her in response. “Look in you heart, you’ve got to sense what’s around you, close your eyes… might make it easier.” Lilly did what he said fancying him a lunatic. Yet as she did so she did feel something odd, and the smug look was wiped from her face. She turned her face to look up the steps.
“Evil.” Lilly stated with quiet consideration. Clint nodded with respectful urgency. “Precisely…” He seemed about to say more but Lilly cut him off with disregard. “I’m still going upstairs.” She said with soft defiance. She sped up the steps with Clint close at her heels. They reached the top of the stairs to meet Ariel sitting there washing herself. “Lilly!” Clint called after her angrily. “Let her go, the vampires will not be aware of Lilly here unless they can clearly see her through a window or near a window, or if she uses her powers. If Lilly would like to explore her old apartment then let her.” The cat stated as she bounded past. Clint crossed his arms across his chest as he watched them. “This is bullshit” he remarked to no one but the spirits in the air. Lilly quickly reached the door of 1602. She went in finding the apartment broken and mangled. The refrigerator was missing, the stove had been torn from the wall, cabinet doors were missing. She stepped to the right to enter the regressed floor of the living room. The TV was smashed on the floor, whereas the stand for the TV was gone. It saddened Lilly to see this. The couch was gone as well as the chairs. So much in the house was missing, including Lilly’s bed it made Lilly feel dejected to be in this house and to see it in it’s condition. She wanted to leave, this wasn’t her home anymore. She fell to the floor wretched and heartbroken in her misery. Her head was downcast and her hair hung haphazardly about her face. A glint of light caught her off guard and she stared at it. The wooden frame was surrounded by broken slivers of glass.
The picture inside was bent—the edges were curling outwards, but the image was irrefutably clear. Lilly peeled the forgotten photo carefully from its frame of keen sharpness. She looked at the image it held and smiled sadly. Inside her mind she saw the picture come to life. The sun was shining, they had been playing a strange game they had made up. They called it “Cat and mouse.” Rachel was the mouse, and the rest of them were the cats. The object was to catch Rachel. Rachel had actually somehow knocked Clint down, yet Lilly had been waiting behind the play structure for her as she passed. Lilly had darted from the play structure the instant Rachel had escaped Clint, and she had caught Rachel and spun her around in her arms. Melissa was staring at her, she was ready to pounce on Rachel herself when Lilly caught her. Dustin had grabbed the camera from the pouch by the picnic table and he had caught that very instant. Clint on the ground, smiling, laughing, staring up at them--Melissa in that crouched ready to pounce pose—and Rachel in the air as Lilly happily spun her around. Darkness infused Lilly’s sodden countenance and she was keenly aware of the figure standing behind her. Lilly had never been in the slave camps, she had never seen them and did not know the trials the people inside them faced. She did not wish to know really, yet in her heart she knew all that Clint said was true. She didn’t want to believe in this terrible future. She wanted to die rather then know that humanity had been reduced to mere livestock. She knew she needed to visit these places, however, needed to visit them and learn of the suffering—these were not her thoughts. She turned around and looked into
Clint’s incandescent brown eyes. They had lost their tone of honesty and friendliness, still it was the same Clint in the picture. “Stop living in the past Lilly. You need to know what goes on in those farms people have been herded into.” Lilly stared up and blinked at him despondently. “Where?” “I think we’re going to have to pay lord Crouton a visit,” Clint smiled. “Lord Crouton?” “Yeah, he’s an imbecile, yet he’s one of the upper class lords he does have his own farm after all.” Lilly smiled at him and stepped off the floor. She accompanied him to the roof. She let him wrap his cloak around her, and she did not fuss when he wrapped his arm around her waist securely. Her feet left the ground, and she closed her eyes as the two were propelled into the night air. Chapter 13 When Lilly’s feet hit the ground and she felt the cool air touch her skin—she opened her eyes. Only once these assurances were in place did she do such. Lilly knew then that she intensely disliked flight. It seemed so unnatural to her, completely inhuman. “I feel the same way.” Clint stated, reading her thoughts as he stared through the trees and prickly bushes. Lilly followed his gaze to see huts made of sticks and straw. There were two rows of these, and before Lilly’s eyes men, and boys of age stepped from the huts as Lilly heard screams of horror and unhappiness, and Lilly could have sworn that she heard moans of pleasure in some cases.
The men were wearing soiled tattered clothes, some of them looked extremely enticing, their chests glowing with beads of sweat—their hair soaked to the brim with it. They looked tired each and every one of them. Slowly they meandered out of the huts to stand in the center of the path between the rows. They stood stiffly as if waiting judgment of some kind. Lilly turned her head to look at Clint. He was looking away, staring at the ground. Lilly on the other hand couldn’t take her eyes from the scene. Soon there was a male accounted for from each hut. Lilly watched in horrid curiosity as white faced demons walked confidently out to inspect these humans. Two vampires to walk the row of men and boys. There were some vampires that went from hut to hut disappearing inside. Lilly watched as one of the women, clothed by a thin cloak was escorted from one of the huts. She was crying heavily. There was one old man, and one boy no more then fifteen years of age they were grabbed gruffly. One of the vampires emerging from a hut went to a cage Lilly hadn’t seen before. The cage contained a man who looked forty, he was curled up in a corner of the cage. Lilly couldn’t imagine what could do this to him. The vampire opened the cage and escorted him to a place in the line. The young boy who had come from the corresponding place that the woman had been taken from was now placed in the cage. The cage was barely wide enough for his body. The boy bent his knees to some degree and leant towards the side of the bars. He closed his eyes and Lilly watched with awe as he fell asleep like this. The square of guys moved to the next hut, save the unoccupied one which was skipped over. The screaming began again as Lilly turned to Clint.
“What the hell are they doing to them in there?” Lilly inquired urgently. Clint looked up from his trance, staring at her seriously—a look Lilly had never seen on him before. “You really wanna know?” “I have to know!” “Truly” “Yes!” “Really?” “Clint!” “Alright, but you won’t like it.” “Tell me!” “There’s no possible way it can be described. You have to experience it.” “Fine!” “Okay, but I warned you.” Lilly gave him an eye of confusion. “Take off your clothes and put this around you.” He said taking off his cloak and handing it to her as he turned around. Lilly’s eyes widened in realization of what he meant. “Lilly do it! Before they find us. Your clothes are too new, they'll know.” Lilly quickly obeyed, her curiosity overcoming the fear she had. He turned around the instant she wrapped the cloak closed around her. “Okay Lil’ this is going to take some effort on your part. Imagine the ugliest person you know.” “You mean like Tina?” Lilly smiled nervously. “Whatever, someone dull, Tina works. Imagine being Tina."
“Being Tina?” “Yeah.” “Are you crazy?” “Trust me, close your eyes and imagine being her.” “Fine, fine I’m imagining are you happy?” Lilly opened her eyes in her discomfort—she found Clint smiling at her. “Good job, now don’t lose that thought. If you do we could be in big trouble.” “Why?” “Vampires recognize beauty above anything else they recognize that. Beauty is a curse in the new world Lilly, rather then a blessing it’s a curse.” “But the guys…” Lilly trailed off noticing that he was binding her wrists together, causing the cloak to billow open quite a bit. Clint went about this work without hesitation. From the ropes around her wrist he carried it up to tie around her neck. “The guys are roosters Lilly. They are supposed to be beautiful, beautiful because they are dominant. Why do you think the idle ones are kept in cages? The men have ambition as well, this is how they drive the environment. Occasionally when there is a visiting Lord the Lord brings his most handsome ‘rooster’ to battle against the most handsome ‘rooster’ of the other lord.” He was guiding her along now through the forest to the front of the complex. “They battle to the death. He who survives becomes an inductee of Narmer’s army.” They cleared the trees and Lilly began to feel extremely exposed. “Clint…”
“Shut up bitch you don't speak my name!” He struck her across her cheek. Lilly was astonished, but she did not lose the thought of Tina. She stared at him in awe. “You! You there! What business have you with the Lord?” Lilly looked up to see the tall barbed wire gates of the complex—two guards stood on either side of the road. Clint stepped forward and graciously bowed, pulling her rope and forcing her face into the dirt of the road—Tina. “I am a humble traveler of the kingdom of Narmer, sir guard, I found this piece of shit in the forests.” He turned around to kick her in the stomach. Lilly cried out with pain —Tina. “Get up bitch!” Lilly gathered herself to her knees and cried in anguish as Clint grabbed a clump of her hair and pulled her to her feet. Lilly was beginning to doubt whether he was on her side or not. One of the guards abandoned his post and walked over to them. Clint was enjoying torturing her way too much. He lifted Lilly’s chin up roughly and inspected her. He looked down at her body and nodded. “You may pass, with our escort,” he signaled the other one and after a couple of seconds another two guards appeared to replace them. “Come, I am Terran, I shall escort you to Lord Crouton’s court.” Clint leaned over to her in a quick undetectable motion. “Crouton” he whispered in her ear. Lilly looked at him with a tiny smile. “Avert your eyes! You deserve not to look upon our countenance.” Lilly suddenly heard a voice in her head. Keep thinking about Tina, it’s working extremely well, and shield your mind for god sakes before someone realizes that we are not what we seem to be. Lilly knew these messages came from Clint. She didn’t understand what was working well, but she trusted Clint. Terran raised his eyebrow at Clint.
“This offering dotes on you.” “I offered pleasure to seduce her no more then that. I was her first. Rather amusing how the nerdy ones desire to be close to us.” Lilly glared at him with disgust but remembered instantly she was playing a part and should keep quiet and submissive if she wanted to stay alive, and keep from getting hit. They entered the courtroom without another incidence. It was a huge room of marble, headed by a short dais. There were many white faced ladies and men about, yet these were not the only ones. At the ends of the dais stood two statuesque figures with blank stares. Lilly was surprised when she realized these were actual humans, living, at least to some extent. They were mindless the void in their eyes told all, they had formerly been identical twins, with amber colored hair and light blue eyes. These were not the only humans in the room. There were others with the expressionless eyes and faces serving drinks, and many of them becoming drinks themselves. There were also people bound by chains and collars around their necks. Some of these wore clothes, some of them did not, some of them were in full view of the public. None of them breached age thirteen. Lilly was thankful she wore the cloak. On the center of the dais Lilly found something much more surprising. The person sitting at the head of the room Lilly knew quite well. Clint had never been saying Crouton, he’d been saying Crewton. Craig Crewton. The same Craig who had formerly been Max’s best friend. Candi’s old boyfriend. Lilly couldn’t believe her eyes. Craig too recognized the both of them. “Clint! Clint Hedrick, you too! Wow what a small world” his voice bellowed across the room. “You brought me a new slave! My god, is it? It is! The bratty bitch Tina
Lionne haha! I believe we’re missing a tennant in the huts. Guards take her there immediately, I should very much like to drink with you Clint.” Clint nodded and smiled graciously. He gave Lilly the most sly look as she was dragged away from the court, away from Clint, away from Craig. The guards rudely threw her in a hut stripping her of the cloak, and tossing her some ratty coverings, a skirt instead of pants. Immediately her arms flew to the coverings and she put them on as quick as she could despite their ratty appearance. She fell backwards and they laughed at her mockingly. They left her there, with the admonition through their minds that if she left the room without a vampiric escort she would find herself in the blood pool faster then she could say bobs her uncle. Lilly looked around the small torch-lit room. There was a cot in one corner, the glare off the metal caught her eye immediately with the reflection that was not hers. Yes Lilly had power, she could make herself look like another person altogether! That was what Clint had meant. Lilly marveled at this oddity until she felt the skin of another body. Lilly’s eyes snapped around in their Tina guise to look into the brown eyes of a rather handsome creature. Handsome or not he was not doing things Lilly liked. He pressed his body against her—his lips rudely accosting her, more sloppy but very similar to Max. Lilly pushed him away in an immediate reaction. There was immense resistance on the side of the male. Through his lips Lilly heard his whispers. “You've got to learn your place!” Lilly felt the hot fire spread across her cheek as he slapped her hard across the face. Lilly fell against the heavily stained dirt, she knew now what stained it. He spun her back around—still she resisted. He groped at her when
she raised a hand against him he batted it away. She imagined Emily in this place, and she knew, she knew what had happened. Anger spread through her blood like wildfire and with a burst of energy and blinding light, the approximately nineteen year old boy ended up across the room. Lilly stared at him as she backed into the opposite corner. He stared at her with wide eyes, Tina was forgotten. Chapter 14 “Holy hell!” the boy yelped in surprise. Lilly stared at him with horror in her deep blue eyes. Tina! She had forgotten to be Tina! The illusion was lost, he saw her in all her true beauty…all of it. She thought of Tina again, there were people running and yelling. The image was restored, surprising the older boy even more. Dislodged sticks were scattered about the dirt floor. The boy eyed one of the torches—his hand lashed out, the torch fell, and the sticks on the floor flared into flame the boy stamped the flame out— just as a vampire entered the room. “What in the name of Narmer goes on in here?” The boy fell to his knees and bowed his head to the ground in reverence. “Sir, we became a little too rough, we dislodged the torch from its place, and it flared. We will be more careful next time. I swear!” he said his strong male voice shaking like the timid mouse cornered by the cat. “Idiotic humans.” The vampire said, leaving in a brisk huff. Lilly stared at the boy with fear and desecration as she curled amorally in the corner, her arms tightly clenched around her knees. She stared at him with the fear of a rabbit reflected in her eyes. He looked at her with great scrutiny.
“Disguise my thoughts I can occasionally do, to weak minded vampires like our supervisors, to change my image entirely is an impossibility--what the hell are you?” Lilly stared at him unresponsive and in dire shock. “Will you answer me or must I go alert someone to what really happened?” “I’m afraid.” Lilly whispered meekly. “Fear? What the hell is that? You don’t even know what fear is! Judging by your reaction you’re new here, and new to any camp, anywhere. You don’t know fear until you’ve lived it, you don't know fear until you're stuck here everyday expected to perform expected to be entertainment, and if you don't they might kill you.” He advanced on her again. Lilly lifted her hands against him in defense. “Please! Don’t hurt me.” Lilly cried piteously, reverting back to the true image of herself. He stepped back a moment, caught off guard by the sudden change. “God you’re too beautiful to be here, unsoiled beauty--with a talent such as that— you’re not normal!” Lilly forced herself as far back into the corner as she could as he sat down beside her. “Please don’t hurt me” Lilly whispered. He turned to her now, and stared at her with a look on his face that was nearly warm, and almost comforting. “My names Mike, what’s yours?” “Will you hurt me?” “The vampires they would hurt you—I think you’re probably better off trusting me, I wouldn’t want them to spoil something as awesome as you, you have potential, I can see it. I won’t hurt you, and I won’t let anyone hurt you, at least for now. Just out of curiosity--can you mimic the image of any person?” Lilly stared at him, into his eyes,
measuring the amount of sincerity he held. She thought of him for a moment and by the change in his eyes she knew that to him she looked different. “My god! You can! That’s an amazing advantage, you could easily get out of here using it. You have a name?” “Lillian.” She said tiredly. She didn’t trust him still, and she refused to let her guard down despite how tired she was. Mike looked past her to the door, and the figure standing there. “Well Lillian, you certainly have a special talent there, and I believe you’ve got your ticket out of here.” Clint nodded at Mike from the doorway, and Lilly looked up at him and didn’t bother to read into his solemn face as he stared in Mike’s direction. “I don’t suppose you’d take me with you.” “I can’t.” Clint stated solemnly as he threw his cloak over Lilly. Lilly jumped into his arms thankfully as she pulled the cloak more tightly around herself. She buried her face in his chest from fear and humiliation of the stuff these people were forced to go through daily. “Get me out of here,” Lilly whispered close to his ear, cascading tears wetting her sparkling cheeks. “Goodbye Lillian, remember me and stay free, and may your talents one day save us all.” Clint’s strong arms held her close as the pair took to the air. It was a silent takeoff, this time Lilly wasn’t bothering to scream like before. He was happy that they were not seen, Lilly didn’t care one way or the other. Her tears were invincible to any form of happiness or joy for her rescue, or her rescuer. Lilly was cold, not just emotionally and
mentally either. Her skin was exposed to the air of the high altitude and although she knew Clint was trying to keep her warm she didn’t care. The chill ran uniform in her blood though it affected Lilly little. What reason was there for living anymore?. How could life in this world have deteriorated to this? Clint came to a balcony and he released her. She fell to her knees the instant he released her and the cloak billowed out around her surrounding her in a dark circle of emptiness. She gripped at it, pulling it more completely around her, trying to warm herself in vain as she sobbed with despondency. These people weren’t just the livestock, but also the labor force, slaves, pets, entertainment. Her mind couldn’t handle the complexity of these thoughts that whirled through her mind in a blinding chaos. She was in an abyss--an abyss of terror. Life as she had known it was gone, nothing was the same. People died and no one cared, women were put through unspeakable torture. Forever would the humans feed the vampire’s lust for blood. It was a rather foolproof system, that Lilly had to admit to herself. The children were taken from the mothers and raised to know nothing, in a generation it would be standard, no one would know that it was anything but the norm. All was lost in the chaos of the coldhearted obscurity of the hateful night. Lilly couldn’t stop it, nothing in a million years could end this humiliation and degradation of the human race. Lilly thought of the shield Mike had against emotions when she had first met him —when he had tried to do what he was told. She remembered his immediate reaction when he saw her beauty. The way he had defended her honor despite the fact that when she was ugly he didn’t give a damn one way or the other who she was. His act had
dropped the instant he saw the change and his face had instantly warmed to her. Was beauty really such a curse that it could cause so much to go wrong? The pets on their leashes of iron, those young little children, predominantly female, these were the easy ones. The moldable ones, the children easy to train and manipulate. Had they forgotten their mothers so easily? Lilly’s face flickered a small bit of emotion as she remembered her own sister, she wondered was this the fate of her sister? Or was it much worse, she was too young, yet still she could just as easily have fallen prey to their lust for blood. Lilly knew that she had to find Rachel, no matter what it took to do so. “I know that I left her with Dustin and Melissa, Lilly, but whether she’s still with them or not I wouldn’t know. I don’t even know if Melissa and Dustin are still there, if they are they would know what happened to her. Lilly I care about her as much as you do, but promise me you won’t do anything stupid.” Lilly looked up at him and his excruciatingly pale face. Clint was a vampire, and he had everything that entailed, the fangs, the face, the eyes that seemed faceted like a gem, and sparkled as such. A vampire, he was one of the enemy. He stared at her with recourse, watching and listening to her contemplating everything that had gone wrong. There was no hatred in his eyes, Lilly saw now only doleful imperviousness in the way he looked at her. In Clint’s eyes there was almost a form of tolerance, or remorse--it was a resignation of the resentment that he tried in vain to impose upon her. He just couldn’t stay angry at her, even when all reason stated that he should. Lilly knew from the look in his eyes that he was reading her thoughts and she set
up a shield against it, coating her mind in an impenetrable shell that would keep him out of her thoughts. Lilly looked around herself, trying to figure out exactly where they were. In an instant she realized that it was the balcony outside Clint’s old bedroom. In childhood they had spent many a nice day playing board games on the very spot where Lilly was crouched. Monopoly, Life, and Clue, and all the other games that kids play--those days were long gone, long lost, and she felt nothing. It seemed only natural that these memories sank the instant they surfaced. Lilly looked beyond the glass window that lined the length of the wall the balcony was off of. Through the panes Lilly noticed with surprise that everything in his room was intact, as if the darkness had never swallowed the world. There were his posters of Linkin Park, Disturbed, and System of a Down—many of them were halfway ripped off the wall, as if it was done in a torrent of frustration. Lilly found her voice was missing, she was over-stressed and so she used the only other way she knew how to communicate; she directed a question at Clint—with her mind. “How is this possible?” “This has been my retreat, usually I have the curtain closed so no one can see in, but I just figured that it might comfort you to see that not everything had been destroyed in the world.” “But how? What about scavengers?” “Oh that’s easier then you think, after I escaped I found myself a battery powered stereo, and a stockpile of batteries. I turn the stereo on occasionally and people think that
there’s a ghost here or something, either way they stay clear of it, not to mention if they did dare coming close they would find the door is sealed shut.” “You kept it nice, you kept it intact.” “So what?” “So you value something in this world.” “What I value is my peace and quiet, and I have to have somewhere to go.” “A home.” “It’s my happy thought.” “You have a happy thought?” Lilly raised her eyebrows at him questionably finally looking up at him. Clint hesitated a moment before he answered. “No not really, but hey it doesn’t hurt to try having one, you should try that yourself, it might help.” Lilly looked away, she didn’t want to respond, she knew that her happy thought set with the sun on that fateful day only one year ago. She found another happy thought and he had taken her from him. She looked down at her hand, her hand where the ring remained. It stood there resolutely unknowing of the sadness she felt. It too was beautiful, she had an impulse to throw it over the rail, but she didn’t, she couldn’t. Painfully she remembered David and how he had given it to her. “Clothes, clothes are my happy thought right now, I would find comfort in them.” Lilly sighed trying to form a crude mask to cover the sadness she carried. “Well I don’t have any girl clothes, but you can wear some of mine, I think one of the scavengers that reside in the forest collected yours. I couldn’t find them when I finally tore myself from Craig.”
“I don’t care right now, anything will do.” “All right, come into my office then.” Lilly shook her head at Clint’s dull humor. She sat on the bed as he threw at her a completely intact package of underwear, exactly her size. Lilly stared at it as if it were some fungus growing there before she tore into it with her teeth. She pulled one pair off the cardboard. He also threw at her a bra that technically belonged to her anyway. Something he had found in some dark corner of her closet. She removed the other ratty pieces of cloth she was wearing, hiding behind the cloak as she put on the underwear. She let the cloak fall off her shoulders as Clint searched through the drawers. She no longer cared about the indecency of the tasks she performed, the word modesty had been stripped from her vocabulary. “When did you find these things?” “Before I came to rescue you, the underwear and bra were the only thing I had time to find, Craig kept me too long and I knew I had to get you out of there, whether I liked it or not.” He threw to her a large black System of a Down T-shirt that Lilly skillfully caught and pulled over her head. Lilly caught Clint’s sidelong glance at her clothed quite indecently, sitting on his bed—she marveled at the thoughts she assumed were crossing his mind. She wondered for a moment how different this would be were it normal. She had never thought of Clint that way, and she knew the same went for Clint. She then considered the possibility, and probability that all her veins and arteries were clearly showing to his vampire eyes, that single word pulsed through her mind again—enemy. Ariel sat on the bed her feline eyes full of contempt for what she saw in the young knight. “Keep your fangs to yourself young one.” She quiped. Both Lilly and Clint’s eyes
simultaneously turned to see the cat, her tail swishing back and forth in an agitated gesture of feline disapproval. Lilly stared at the cat noticing something incredibly odd about the manner in which she reacted to such a small offense. Afterall, Clint hadn’t touched her, he wasn’t even near her, not even within an arms length. It vexed her although she couldn’t quite define why. “I wasn’t going to do anything cat.” “The thought was there,” “A thought isn’t an act.” “A thought is prerequisite to an act, and in your vampire mind sometimes a thought is all it takes. You really are more of a danger to her then you think.” “Stop it! This is just too weird, watching my former best friend who oh by the way is now a vampire, and a cat who just happens to have the miraculous ability to talk going at each other like wolves.” Clint smiled at her. “And you haven’t seen weirder things at our school?” Lilly thought for a moment remembering or trying to. “You do have a point there.” “Perhaps it would help if I turn on the light, just let me draw the curtains a sec.” Lilly watched, a second. The curtains were drawn before she had realized Clint had disappeared, and the light, well it was there for a second, before shorting out. Lilly stared at Clint in an estranged manner as he reappeared by his bedside table—directly in front of her.
“Ah shit, the damn bulb went out.” He smiled at her, showing his fangs, making her heart jump all the more. “Don’t worry, I have another in the closet, help me out here.” “All right, I think I can do that.” She stated, warrily watching him as he all of a sudden appeared at his closet, shuffling through boxes. “Aha here it is! Catch Lilly!” he yelped as he tossed her a bulb. Lilly watched the bulb fly towards her and she caught it all too easily by the metal part. For a moment, in her hands the lightbulb lit—then it became an explosion of tiny and painful shards of glass all over the floor. Clint stared at her while Ariel sat cleaning herself impervious to the impossible phenomenon that had just occurred only moments ago. “Forget impossible, that was fucking weird!” Clint griped. “You don’t think I know that?” Lilly stated, wincing as she pulled a few shards from her feet. “You know, shoes, and pants for that matter would really help now.” “Oh yeah, sorry bout that” he said, as he went to his drawers pulling out the smallest pair of jeans he could find. He found her a belt, although her hips were wide enough they could probably hold the jeans up anyway. He also tossed her a pair of new tennis shoes, he had found them with the underwear. He threw them to her and she put them on, wincing more as she found bits and pieces of glass she had missed. “Forget the lamp.” Clint moved back to the dresser and lit a candle sitting on top of it. There were other candles around it, the one looked like it was used the most though. “Good idea.” Lilly spat. “Although I’d really like to know what the hell just happened.” She said turning to the cat who stared straight back. “They are your powers. You should learn how to control them.” “It would be nice to know I had the power first.”
“I see what you mean about the whole cat and human fight thing, it is pretty odd.” Clint said as he leaned against the wall on the other side of the room crossing his arms over his chest and watching them astutely. Silence perturbed the air for a few uncounted memories of a second as the cat was found cleaning itself once again. “Any other powers that it might be a hazard to myself not to know about?” “Telekinesis, that’s one that even I have however small in measure, which means by logic you’d probably have it too.” “Really?” Lilly smiled. She threw her hand sideways aiming a thought at his ugly hula girl lamp. “The hell!” Clint yelped as he dodged the flying object. Lilly laughed gaily in the satisfaction of smashing that lamp, she had always hated it. “That’s not fair! That was my favorite lamp!” “I guess you’ll have to find one that doesn’t make an object out of a woman’s body then won’t you.” “Oh, don’t be so pleased with yourself, it really isn’t nice to smash other people’s possesions against walls.” “Pyrokinesis” Ariel said, speaking softly. “What?” Clint asked. “The ability to set things on fire, you may attempt this with the candle over there.” The word pulsed through Lilly’s brain again as she looked at Clint, enemy, she threw her hand palm up into the air, and with it went a blaze all around him. His screams sent her palm flying back down and with it the fire too died. Lilly stared with horror at the charred black skin as it began to fade back to the stark white it was supposed to be.
“That really wasn’t funny Lil’ You could have killed me you know!” Lilly shook her head at his sudden switch thrown. No longer did he have the sarcastic Clint sound in her voice, this was altogether different, it was fear—of her. “You learn quick.” “That’s all you have to say! Cat she nearly killed me!” “Yes, and if she had, I believe the quality of the air we breath would be much improved” Ariel snapped, Clint stared at the cat with hatred as she completely ignored him. Lilly found the relationship between them almost laughable, but she couldn’t laugh, in fact, Lilly was finding it slightly hard to breath. “If you can light a vampire on fire then you can blast that door open.” “No…I don’t think I can.” Lilly said a fog entering her mind. Clint stared at her, worried about her, she looked nearly as pale as him. “Cat perhaps you’re wrong however astonishing that might be, and she shouldn’t be doing it.” “The use of her powers tax her energy, but as she pushes it to it’s limits each time she will build up a tolerance to it.” “She really doesn’t look too good.” Lilly raised her shaking hand, ignoring the diatribe that seemed to be part of that fog surrounding her. In an instant the door was blasted against the other wall. The door broke into thousands of pieces of flying wood, one of which became lodged in Clint’s shoulder—through the wall. “Ow! That hur…Lilly!” he watched as his friend swayed for a moment and then fell face first to the floor, off his bed. “Are you happy now? Fucking nazi cat.” Clint mumbled as he went to see if Lilly still had a pulse from the way she had collapsed.
“She’ll be fine. As soon as she rests.” “And how do you expect us to travel with her passed out like this?” “You will carry her.” “I hate you cat.” “Duly noted. We must get moving.” “Nazi Cat.” Chapter 15 Clint frowned at the prospect of having to get to the others with Ariel alone to keep him company. “Where to now miss expert? Shall we go to the land of the faeries? Or maybe we could stop in Neverland and visit Peter Pan and the lost boys.” “You mock me.” “Duh. How long it take you to figure that one out?” Clint said as he hoisted his unconscious friend over his shoulder as if she were a potato sack. Ariel ignored Clint’s snide remark. “We go to find the last free surviving humans. Those you saved yourself.” “Oh yes oh venerable one, and how do you expect we get there?” “The lift.” Ariel stated simply as she stared past him. “What…the…” Clint turned around finding in the middle of his old living room a gigantic hole in the floor. The rest of the furniture that Clint hadn’t salvaged himself was predictably gone, but the hole was what grabbed his attention and animated his dormant curiosity. “Why the hell is there a giant hole in the middle of my living room?”
“Obviously the scavengers of the free peoples needed a way to get furniture down to the bottom floor quickly and efficiently.” “Yeah, obviously.” Clint mumbled to himself. He pulled on the ropes to get the platform up to their floor. It took a while for the platform to reach their floor, but there was no limit to Clint’s strength and he had no trouble. The cat stepped over the gap, no more then an inch wide. Clint Jumped to the platform for amusements sake—the platform shook dreadfully. “You should not do that, there is little holding this up.” “This thing can hold furniture, but it can’t hold us?” “If the furniture jumped then that would be a plausible refutation, however, furniture does not jump which therefore makes your argument groundless.” Clint mumbled to himself as he moved the ropes down slowly to mark their descent. Finally they reached the bottom—there was a loud thud as clouds of dust erupted from the sides. Lilly began to cough uncontrollably, she moved, and Clint shifted her from his shoulder so that she could stand on her own two feet. She grabbed at his arms as she coughed. “A mite dusty in here, eh?” Clint smiled. “Just a little,” Lilly stated after finally regaining her breath, “Do you still hate me Clint?” Lilly asked immediately souring Clint’s mood. “Oh I hate you as much as ever” he answered drawing back from her. “Maybe not as much as I hate that cat though.” He gave her a sidelong smile that she found encouraging, she didn’t know exactly why it was encouraging, but it didn’t matter. “Where did that feline go anyhow?” He asked looking around. His eyes settled on the
blue eyes staring at him from the counter where security had once sat. Both remembered Matt, and his father’s boisterous laugh at their jokes, and Clint’s bad attempts to sing some of the operas he listened to. They heard echos that seemed to arise from the very walls, echos of this different time when they were happy, when they were friends. Clint looked away. “Do you think Matt’s still alive?” Lilly uttered. “How the hell am I supposed to know?” “Hush, the club across the street is not complete without its sentinels.” Ariel hissed at the both of them. “Thai Palms? You mean the place where the Halloween party was going to be hosted?” “They wait there knowing that at some point the humans inside need to go out to search for food and supplies. Picking them off one by one.” “Why don’t they just attack them and get it over with?” “They don’t want to. They are content in leaving the place open to trap any stragglers, for every human needs companionship at one point. There aren't many humans who can survive long without interaction with another. They choose to break them down one at a time so that they might lose their hope as well as their lives as they starve to death within its walls. Clint you should be able to find some food somewhere near. It would do you good to bring it to them as they will not approve of a vampire in their midst.” Clint nodded, agreeing with the cat for once. He knew all too well what they would do to a vampire who suddenly stumbled into a place where there were enough
humans to gang up on him—even if he was their former friend. Lilly on the other hand couldn’t believe that these creatures could be so very cruel. “How do you know all this? And why would the vampires focus so much on this one place in the first place?” Ariel turned her head to stare more directly at Lilly, the girl was ignorant and not to bright. “I am small, I can hide and observe easily. They focus here because this is the last remaining in operation. The last gathering of humans in one place, any other human left free is a human on their own.” Lilly’s eyes widened. The last, there were no others, these were the last of the free people—in the entire world. Ariel nodded at her, finally the child caught on to some of this. “I found some cans of food.” Clint said, landing softly on the platform. He held two large sacks of cans that clinked together. Lilly felt a sudden pain in her chest, she knew it originated from the memory of Erin and her daughter Tilly—which subsequently lead her to thoughts of David. “How do you expect us to get past the vampires?” Lilly asked staring down as she wrapped her arms around herself. She turned to face the cat again—to her surprise she found Ariel had gone—the two former friends were alone. “Did that cat do one of her disappearing acts again? I hate it when she does that.” Lilly turned to Clint. “Clint! I don’t know what to do! I’m so lost in this world.” “Hey, don’t get teary eyed at me, at least you have powers.” Lilly looked at him skeptically. “Clint you’re a vampire, so do you.”
“Not like you do.” “Shut up! I can’t even use my powers without passing out you don’t even tire! Anyway how in hell do we expect to get past their sentries?” Clint ignored her question, walking over to the broken glass of the doors, cautiously hiding himself from the view of anyone watching. He came back to her moments later, but passed her to go behind the counter of the absent security guard. He looked behind the desk and smiled the devious Clint smile that Lilly knew all too well. She sent him a look of suspicion. “What the hell are you doing?” Clint looked up as if he just noticed she was there. “Remember how Mr. Jones used to love his operas?” “Yeah and everyone used to make fun of him for it, including you. What does that have to do with anything?” At that moment Clint lifted a stereo to the counter. Lilly stared at it not quite catching on to his plan. “It’s battery powered.” “It’s old.” “It’ll work.” “What do you expect us to do?” “Distract them. Tango dancers Lilly, tango dancers.” He smiled at her deviously as he pulled the stereo from the counter. For a moment she didn't quite understand what he was going for. Then she caught on. "That's crazy!"
"Crazy is the only thing that will work." She remembered the little lessons they had all gone to as a group of friends for Ballroom dancing. Melissa had always wanted to learn. Then she smiled at Clint. She entertained the illusion of the classic tango dancers. To herself she applied the infamous knee length gown of red silk--slit diagonally across the knees and trimmed with black lace. She added a rose in her hair to complete her look. Clint she placed in black leather pants with a red satin shirt that showed quite a bit of his chest. They walked to the doors in silence, the vampires stared at the new arrivals as Clint placed the Stereo on the street curb. He turned the volume all the way up as he pushed the play button. The piece of music that played was from Bizet’s Carmen they both knew it was the “Habanera.” They smiled at each other cleverly as they began to dance. Lilly attracted much attention—she was ravishing in the skirt, the black lace garter showing clearly on her perfectly shaped thigh. The vampires stood stunned into silence as they stared at the two oddities. Lilly knew then that their plan would work, they would tango right past the vampires and they would be none the wiser. Clint and Lilly swirled around each other. They didn’t miss a single beat as they danced. Those lessons that had been fun at one point were now finally paying off. There was a smile in Lilly's face, though her friend looked so different he was still the same Clint, crazy ideas, always making her smile. They forgot about their dire situation, they forgot about the darkness, the streetlamps lit in the area. Clint smiled back. "Just like old times." he said.
"Shh, or they might think we're real." She smiled. Lilly closed her eyes she opened them again for a moment she felt as if she was dancing barefoot on grass, then it was gone, she didn't miss a beat but Clint knew for a half second he felt the same thing. They continued to dance. The vampires did nothing more then stare. They had no clue as to what was going on. To them the two looked almost like ghosts, yet they recognized Lilly’s unique golden hair. Still they did nothing, they didn’t think the princess would be that stupid. They couldn't have been vampires long, they had to be from their time, because if they had been from times past they never would have fallen for Clint's crazy ruse. Clint twirled Lilly around and she gave the smitten faces of the vampires the most vacuous smile imaginable. She winked at them with the same vacuousness, thrilled at the way she could hypnotize them so easily. The song was reaching its end--he twirled Lilly in one last circle and then dipped her backwards so that she could face the vampires. No longer did she smile at their stupidity, an evil frown lit her face and she narrowed her eyes. Flame was kindled. The vampires were on fire, they burned as the doors seemingly opened themselves, with humans gripping onto them trying to keep them closed. Yet as the pair danced into their midst, dragging the cans as if by invisible rope they parted as if by Moses’ staff—letting the dancing couple enter, and collapse against the wall. The sacks of cans fell, and were grabbed instantly by a pair of thin human arms, they were dragged in quickly, and the door instantly slammed shut. The illusions of the garb they wore faded into nothingness. Lilly closed her eyes for a moment, exhausted from her exertions. Clint held her in his arms as she sank to the floor again. She smiled laughing, and he smiled back at her.
“Did we do it?” “Ya’ did good Lil’ couldn’ta done better myself.” With that Lilly’s head fell limp across his arm again. The people stared at the two with a combination of amazement, recognition, fear, and flat out confusion. Clint turned and smiled at them, they backed away at the sight of his teeth. One human pushed to the front of the crowd, she gasped and stared at the two. Clint smiled up at her his teeth in prominent view, why hide what he was, he knew they all wanted to kill him anyway. “Hello Melissa.” “Clint.” Chapter 16 “Tell me again how you got them away from the door I don’t quite understand.” Melissa asked for the fifteenth time. Clint sighed and paced the length of the stainless steel table that occupied the kitchen. Clint could smell the tantalizing scent of the potato soup he could no longer consume. It reminded him of the smells that came from the food court at the mall, he would sit up on the roof of the mall just smelling and listening to everyone inside. On the other side of the table, two people sat, both Clint knew well—both of whose trust he no longer possessed. Nothing out of the ordinary, of course--why would they trust him, he was a vampire right? The only way one was turned a vampire was if they conceded to the servitude of Narmer. None would guess that being turned into a vampire would be used as punishment. Clint knew--Clint knew how much he desired to eat the soup and not keel over. Clint could smell the blood in the veins of his friends and he knew his body hungered for
it. Clint knew he wasn’t human, and would never be again. Even if the sun returned to the sky Clint would never see it again. While the others rejoiced with the happiness of seeing the sun again he would be forced to retreat to a coffin, or some other place the sun would not find. The scent of their blood alone was driving him mad, this was what caused him to pace the room. Both Dustin and Melissa sat at the table staring at him. Melissa did not believe his story, did not believe that he was a friend still. Dustin believed completely that Clint told lies to trick them into trusting him again. Who better to send to destroy them than Clint? The one who had told them to lock the doors and not let anyone in as he ran out to seek Lilly—Clint their friend. Neither of them could explain the presence of Lilly, but that was the least of their concern. Clint wanted to pull the hair from his skull such was his conflict. His heart wanted to explode. He had saved his friends, and to what end? Did he save them only to later destroy him? Though Clint couldn’t help but admit how wonderful his destruction was beginning to sound. Still in his heart he felt an irrefutable desire to live, and the reason for this desire was more baffling then anything he could ever devise. Clint felt an irrefutable instinct to protect Lilly and to live to protect her. He denied it—it made no sense to him, Clint wanted death, he yearned for it. He felt his mind would fail him before he ever felt the release of death. All this time as he fought with himself the lust for blood increased. It pressed at his temples, it was a miracle he could last this long under the pressure. A phenomenon— he feared—that would not hold out much longer. It was a prolonged aneurysm that he would not die of. He could see the blood pulsing through them with any glance. He could
see it in Melissa, and in her sympathetic soft brown eyes that wanted to believe what he said as truth, but logically couldn’t trust in this. He saw the blood in Dustin’s face quite clearly, much more clearly then Melissa. Dustin knew Clint to be a traitor. He worried for Melissa’s gullibility, Clint couldn’t even catch the smallest glimmer of his former love for her. He wanted Melissa’s questioning to end so that he could perform the inevitable task of killing him. His hatred for any and all vampires, no matter who they formerly were was unforgiving and infuriating. Clint knew why the two of them had ended up leaders of the last remaining free humans. He gleaned it from their minds unwillingly. The two of them in combination with each other made an infallible team. Yet Dustin’s love for her had been destroyed by the all-consuming anger in his heart. Dustin’s only desire was to destroy the vampires as they had destroyed his parents. What made Clint think he could handle this type of existence? What made him think he could handle the suspicion and hatred he felt through the minds of those who had once been his best friends? He couldn’t stand their prodding company. With each question he lost more control of himself. He could read their minds, he knew their disbelief. His frustration was eating him alive as he had once seen the maggots do to the humans in the dungeons of Narmer’s castle. “Why is it I’m the only one being questioned!” Clint suddenly burst at the seams. “Because you’re the only one with fangs!” Dustin yelled, standing up his face red with anger. Clint refused to look upon his face. He could not look into his friend’s hateful eyes, and he could not look at the blood that filled his face lest he turn on him. “You dare to turn away from me as I scream at you!” Dustin exploded. Clint said nothing, he could
not fight this fight. “You befriend us to cause our downfall.” Clint stared at the ground as red tinted tears of frustration filled his eyes. As they streamed down his face and fell to the floor, their red color causing an indicative stain—Clint knew all the more that he was not human, and would not be again. Blood made up his sweat and tears, his body wasn’t made of seventy-five percent of water; His was made up of seventy-five percent blood. Death was the only release from this purgatory. He turned on his heels, his bright brown eyes flaring with anger, “You believe so?! Kill me then! Come on do it! Release me from this hell.” Dustin stared at Clint encompassed with the fear of seeing such anger in his former friend. He regained his senses quickly as Clint stood in final defiance of what he knew would be the next straw. Melissa covered her face and moved her steel chair back a bit as much from fear as from sadness. “No one will lay a finger on him.” Clint stood his gaze unfettered as the other two looked to Lilly in all her debilitating beauty standing with the glory of fire in the doorway. Dustin was caught off guard and he froze stupefied by her manner. Clint collapsed into his reverie and froze as much from that as from the way he had abandoned himself to the whim of another only moments ago. Was that not what Craig had done for Narmer? Melissa merely stared--her tears pouring down her face with the thankfulness of Lilly’s interruption. “Are you all blind? Can’t you see how he suffers every second he stands here in your company?” “What suffering?” Dustin demanded, regaining his words. “I see no punishment in becoming a vampire. His humanity is destroyed!
“He’s still human in some part, that’s the whole point! Can’t you see punishment in that? His body has changed, his instincts have changed, but his mind remains the same. Through a vampires eyes you are bodies. A warm thing pulsing with blood, a Sausage McMuffin even!” Dustin nodded in his agreement of what she said. “Precisely why he deserves death. He chose to become a vampire.” “You idiot! He chose to save me! In this he found the curse of vampiric blood. They knew it unwise to create an unwilling vampire. Because if you are unwilling the blood will drive you insane, you will beg for destruction, and you won’t have it. They intended to keep him locked up with tortured humans for the rest of his life. For the rest of his vampire life. They knew it would destroy him, and your attitude towards him isn’t helping at all.” Clint looked up at her with innocent and trusting eyes. Did she speak the truth? Who was she that she had the confidence to say such things of him? "Clint has all the instincts of a vampire, with the mind of the same man we knew before. If you knew nothing but that he had saved my life, it should be enough, no vampire would save the life of a lowly human but him." Dustin stared at her, his purpose utterly defeated, Melissa stared at her almost afraid of what she had become, no one could be sure what Lilly was anyway. At least they knew what Clint was but Lilly? They all stared at Lilly, they were entranced by her manner. The change in her was much more then that they saw in Clint. Lilly was not the girl they knew—at all. “I see you woke up” Clint finally stated, wiping the child-like expression from his face suddenly as he broke the moment of silence that made the air vibrate. Lilly turned to him she saw the weakness in him, she shook her head with concern. “So pale Clint.”
“No kidding” Dustin murmured under his breath. Yet neither of the two paid attention. Clint knew her meaning, even Melissa caught it. Yes his skin was paler then it should be but that wasn’t what Lilly referred to. The paleness in Clint was that clinging remnant of humanity and decency that he still held. “I’m fine” Clint said as he frowned, turning away from her to the quaking Dustin. Dustin’s eyes narrowed. “He has our trust until he proves himself unworthy” Dustin gritted through clenched teeth. “If.” Melissa whispered, staring at the table. Dustin turned to her with rancor in his eyes. He turned and stormed out the doors. “Such nobility.” The cat spoke. All looked down to it. Ariel was there, sitting on the table, her tail swishing casually off one end as if she had been there the entire time. “Cheshire cat!” Clint jumped back startled at her appearance. Melissa instantly went wide eyed. “That cat talks!” she yelped, as if the sound was choked from her. Lilly looked up smiling sardonically. “Yep. Melissa I’d like you to meet Ariel.” “She talks!” Melissa looked up at Lilly with disbelieving eyes. “Yeah, it’s pretty startling the first time, I know.” “At least she isn’t fainting,” Clint said, nudging Lilly playfully. “That’s not fair!” she turned to him, “You forget I had been living around her for a year without ever noticing anything like it. She was just a normal cat to me.” “Such an excuse”
“Quiet.” Ariel spoke “Oh shut up! You’re not the boss of me cat!” Ariel glared at him with the intense blue eyes of a Siamese. Clint sighed, “Well if you put it that way.” Ariel’s gaze cleared as she turned back to the lot of them, as if she had something important to say. “The vampires know of their dead, and they know you house Lillian.” Lilly cried out in surprise, “I shouldn’t have come! I’ve put you all in danger. It was stupid!” “Why did you come?” Melissa asked with a simple sigh in her voice. Clint said nothing, and Lilly froze, her eyes became clouded over as she receded into her deeper thoughts. Clint knew she wasn’t about to say anything, he stared at the ground. “It was Rachel. She wanted to find Rachel to whatever end.” Clint stated setting his arms across his chest. “Rachel’s gone. They took her.” Lilly and Melissa turned to see little Kevin now in the doorway. It’s amazing how so few words can affect someone so much. Kevin was about eight years old. Lilly used to baby-sit him and Rachel together, the two became extremely good friends. Lilly’s eyes turned to wet orbs welling with tears as she turned to Melissa for an explanation. Melissa stood up and walked to Lilly. She took Lilly’s despondent hands in her own attempting a comfort to no avail. She spoke softly as if to a child. “Lilly, we don’t know what happened to her, she was taken away when she followed our people out as they went for food, before the vampires cracked down on us. When they were out they were attacked. Only one of them returned to us and he was beaten and scratched, his arm was broken from a fall he had, he hardly managed to get
back. There had been three others sent with him, and then there was Rachel, we had no idea she had gone out with them until the one who came back told us that they had discovered her. They had sent her back when the vampires came.” Lilly’s eyes were glassy with wetness, yet not a single tear fell. Clint stared at her worriedly, removed from the pair of them, wary of the scent of their blood so near. “I’ve been to the camps, I was being transported to another place when I escaped the cart. Somehow through several random events I ended up here. I know what they do to people there. Rachel’s too pretty, and too young, just like I was. Still she was too old to be reared by the vampires, reared to know nothing about how things were before. Normally she wouldn’t be too old, five or six isn’t really that old. If it weren’t for you Lilly, they could have easily wiped her memory of what was. You were her hope Lilly. They could do one of two things with her. They either killed her or they turned her into a pet. She loved you more than anything else in the world. She wasn't kidnapped. She saved that mans life by giving her own up. She ran to the arms of a vampire in a state of despair, her belief was that they would bring her closer to you, no one could reason with her.” Silence descended upon them as Kevin spoke those words. Lilly’s hands slipped from Melissa’s and they fell to her side. She turned slowly, looking at none of them, not even Clint. She didn’t look at the cat who was generally unresponsive to their emotions. She walked as a zombie towards the staff bathroom. At the toilet empty of water she threw up. She immediately backed up from the bowl and into the corner laden with cobwebs—tears streamed down her face. She wrapped her arms around her knees and she hid her face—her arms shook uncontrollably.
The others stood around the open door watching her only for a moment, all but Kevin and the cat. Kevin petted the cat for a few moments before he left them. Slowly Melissa pealed away. Still Clint stood immovable. Lilly didn’t acknowledge any of them. She didn’t hone in on the feelings of those around her though she knew she could do such at will now. Her emotions imploded upon themselves. Despair and desolation frolicked through the dark and dreary meadows of her mind. She had Clint back more or less, but it was her sister she needed. Lilly couldn’t do this anymore. Lilly wanted desperately to hold her sister close and to tell her everything would be okay. Her memories of happiness wreaked havoc through her weak mind. Her heart was broken, her spirit decimated, and the thunder crashed outside. A single bloody tear fell down Clint’s face and he wiped it away as he knelt down beside her. He could feel her depression, she wasn’t bothering to shield her thoughts. He knew Rachel as well as she, he knew the pain it caused her and he felt it two-fold. He placed a hand upon her knee and she looked up at him. Her beauty was enhanced all the more even in her sadness. Her eyes were a-glimmer with the sparkling gleam of tears yet to come. Her cheek was effervescent from the tracks of the tears that had already fallen. The blush in her cheeks was maddening to him. He closed his eyes forcing all instincts from his mind as he took a deep breath and looked back to her. He was much more pale than usual, it was a bad sign, he knew he couldn't stay here long. “It’ll be all right Lilly, we’ll find her--you and me together. You’re not alone Lilly, I’m still here, and I’m still the Clint I was no matter how deep I bury it.”
She stared at his red-rimmed eyes of brown. She stared into them for a moment, she could feel the honesty he emitted. His tears were no longer water, it was blood, he was made of blood he wasn't the same. She didn’t care how honest he was, she didn’t want him around her, and she could sense the danger he posed in his current state. Her arm lashed out—she pushed him towards the other wall. Clint was startled and stunned in disbelief as she turned from him, hiding her face once again. Clint stared at her, he couldn’t believe that this was still Lilly. She turned her face to the side while still hiding it, he saw only her lips of crimson red. “Leave me be.” She whispered softly. Clint didn’t move, he was struck dumb and paralyzed. Clint had never seen Lilly like this, never had he seen her so completely abandon herself to her sadness. “Go or I’ll burn you too!” she said looking up at him suddenly with fierce eyes. Clint waited a moment before standing and leaving the room. He left with no inclination of Lilly’s intent, for once again she had cloaked her mind from him. As he passed through the doors of the kitchen she looked up impishly, all trace of tears were gone. She jumped up and made sure Clint was gone. She looked down at her hand deviously. She held his dagger, the one he kept in his boot. In a matter of seconds she had passed from despair to madness. She had stolen his dagger without his knowledge. She now placed it in her own boot. She walked briskly to the back kitchen door. She stopped for only a moment to squint her eyes at it. The lock clicked seconds later. “Lilly!” Clint yelped as he burst through the doors to the kitchen. She turned and smiled at him. She blew him a kiss as she slipped out the door. He ran at it and it
slammed shut, the lock clicked again. He stopped just in time and he beat his hands against it, denting it severely. “Goodbye Clint.” She said softly to no one in particular. She could hear his screams through the door. She stepped backward slowly watching him through the porthole in the kitchen door. She lifted her hands up and a sparkling swirling transparent shield sprang up from the ground and extended itself to the sky several feet from the actual building. It was a pink tint, and it was a box that surrounded the entire club. They would not have a problem with vampires anymore. No vampire could get in, or out. A sudden dizziness fell upon her and she felt something hit her back. She stumbled and turned around. At the other end of the alley she saw a white asian face on a black motorcycle. Clint screamed at her through the door, he would make it through that door in a matter of minutes. Lilly looked to her shoulder to see the feather embedded in it. She lifted a fumbling hand to pull it out, the point was tipped. The female vampire smiled at her. Her head was pulsing with pain, and she was finding it harder and harder to control her limbs. The motor revved and the vehicle came towards her. The vampire pulled up beside her. She wore black leather pants, a skintight black nylon T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. Lilly pushed all her weight into one side as the vampire came towards her. She fell away from the grasping hand of the vampire but she could do little else. Her hands flew up sluggishly as Lilly tried to burn her. Nothing happened, the vampire stared at her, the vampire got off her bike and walked towards her. She tried to grab Lilly by the wrist, and as she did her hand burst into flame.
The vampire screamed and pulled away. The fire was gone. The vampire stared at her with a keen loathing for what she had done, even as it healed. “Bitch!” Lilly made no response as she tried to scramble to her feet. Even in her dizziness she managed something. She stood unsteadily as the vampire advanced. Her eyes black slits—they intimidated Lilly immensely. Lilly knew she wouldn’t win the fight. She was drugged, she didn’t know if it was tranquilizer or just some random discombobulating drug. Even as the thought crossed her mind she noticed a figure she knew running to her rescue. The vampire slammed against the brick wall with the force of an unexpected blow. The expression on her face was one of stunned surprise. Alison stood ready for the vampire to come back at her, and she pulled out a sword. “Lilly get to the trees, they offer protection, I’ll be right there.” Lilly battled with the watery echoes Alison’s voice made in her head. She didn’t want to run, she couldn’t let herself run, not again, she wasn't even sure if she could make her legs obey her. “No!” she exulted with effort. Lilly pushed away the pollutant in her head with rage. She directed the flame at the vampire and she succeeded, The vampire burst into complete flame. Alison turned to Lilly even as the vampire burned. “Nice trick.” She said, raising an eyebrow, Lilly was busy staring beyond the flame at something that caught her eye. “What’s that?” Lilly asked pointing. Alison turned and the smug look on her face dropped with startling rapidity. The green orbs of a pair of eyes penetrated the flame and stared at the two of them with quiet menace.
Neither girl dared move, the flames began to die as the Asian vampire was reduced to ashes. The remaining sparks gleamed off the shining curve of a blade resting against the ground. Danger emanated from the form holding it there. Alison didn’t move her eyes from it. She merely stared warily into the darkness. Her lips moved, her voice issuing softly into the night air. “Lilly I can’t fight him, on the count of three, run.” She whispered, “1…2… RUN!!!!!” they both turned instantly to run across the street to the park and further towards the trees. For Lilly it was more a hobble, and Alison was forced to help her. Just as they reached the edge of the playground they found the vampire directly in front of them, his face showing only his passive hostility. Alison wielded her sword immediately. His reaction was simple. With a spurt of sparks and movements too quick for the eye to see—the sabre slit through the sword with surprising ease. Alison stumbled back screaming and the sabre was seen at his side as if it had never moved. Lilly looked to Alison, she wasn’t screaming in fear, she was screaming in pain, and she held her right hand with her left. Blood oozed from the cracks between her fingers. Lilly looked down at the ground finding with horror Alison’s right index finger there. The cloak billowed around him as Damon knealt to pick up the severed finger. He paid no attention to the girls. Lilly stood in awe she realized suddenly that he had replaced the sabre in it’s sheath--he was vulnerable to attack without repurcusions. She watched with disgust as he placed the digit in the pocket of his cloak. “You bastard! You deserve to burn!” Lilly channeled the power. He looked up at her with innocence in his green eyes. A fire lit there, yet Lilly was jolted with the fact that
there was fire nowhere else. Damon was not burning. Lilly’s eyes widened with sudden fear as she abandoned the futile effort. She felt pressure on her shoulders and then there was an acute sense of pain that radiated up her spine. She yelped and opened her eyes to find herself against a tree. He held her there with a single hand upon her heaving chest. He looked back at the glimmering shield that shed an eerie pink-tinted light on the entire area. Lilly was jolted with the sensation of his cold white hand against her heaving chest. She couldn't get her breath back. He turned back to her, Lilly’s eyes were slits as they cringed from the pain that traveled up her back in waves, along with the sensations his force caused in her, sensations that felt like poison coursing through her veins. She met his seductive gaze with pain, fear, and hatred. “Nice handiwork.” He said in a voice that could charm angels into dastardly deeds. Lilly puzzled at it opening her eyes only a little more. She realized in an instant that this was the same student teacher that caused her downfall years ago. “You've learned much. But you can't defeat Narmer.” He smiled at her with a smile that chilled the blood in her veins. He removed his hand from her chest as he dipped into a low bow. “Until we meet again,” he looked up at her again with his deep green eyes. Then for just a moment his gaze flickered to the ring on her finger. It was gone before she could verify what had just happened. “Adieu Princess.” Lilly did little but blink and he was gone. Lilly stared at the empty air with utter confusion. His voice cast a spell on her, hypnotizing her, pulling at her with an evil that she despised. She shook it off and went to assist Alison.
“Go away, I’ll be fine, we have to get to the trees.” Alison hobbled up to a standing position and followed Lilly into the dense copse of the mountain forest. Chapter 17 Clint made it through the door, he saw Damon before either Lilly or Alison did. Lilly couldn't face Damon, no one could face Damon, Clint had personal experience, it was Damon who had turned him. "Damon!" He screamed. He ran toward the shield full force. He was back against the wall of the club in an instant so fast, he wasn't sure what had happened. He ran at it again and was thrown back again, Lilly was running with Alison. He ran toward the shield this time he knew. He beat his hands againt the shield. He couldn't get through. He watched helplessly as Damon assaulted Lilly. Then he watched Damon leave, Lilly and Alison disappeared into the forest. He stopped beating at the shield and stood frozen. He waited for more vampires to return, but it didn't happen. Melissa and Dustin came back to the kitchen and ran out the destroyed door. "What's going on vampire!" Dustin demanded. "Lilly ran again, Damon was there, then he left." "Just left?" Melissa asked. "Yeah, I assumed he left to get reinforcements, but no one has come." "They're probably chasing Lilly in the forest." Melissa stated practically. "Yeah that's probably it." Clint conceded. -- o -It was hours later, Clint was dizzy and he was facing Melissa, Dustin, Kevin, and surprisingly enough Nate. Clint had met Nate a couple times before but he had never
really known him well, all he knew was that he was on leave from the military when the darkness covered the sky, Lilly had said something about it to him the week before that fateful day. He hadn't really been paying attention. Clint had his head in his hands, he was listening but he couldn't look at them, it was becoming increasingly harder to ignore how thirsty he was, and he knew they wouldn't be willing to give him what he needed. "I say we just kill him, he's a liability now. He can't get out, we can't live with him in here, he's a vampire!" Dustin said. "Yeah but from all sources he's been a thorn in their side since he escaped." Nate added, "There's a couple of refugees who came in a little while ago, from Firmount Mall, they say they owed their survival there as long as they did to someone they called The Source. He says he was that source." "He claims to be The Source, he can't prove anything." "He said it before they did." "He's a vampire! He could have read their minds or something!" Clint felt sick, he didn't care what happened to him as much as he hated to admit it, he felt an irrepressible need to defend Lilly, and he had failed at that. Now she was alone, and he didn't think she had a chance. "Would one of you just kill me already?" He said into his arms. "See even he says it." "I still say he's more asset than danger, he can't get to the other vampires so he can't spread intelligence, he's stuck here, but he knows information we can use." "He needs to eat." Melissa finally put in staring at Clint.
"Oh no, no way. He's way more danger, he can snap and kill all of us from the inside!" Dustin said. "I don't want to kill anyone, I just want to die." Clint said looking up for a moment instantly he turned away, his teeth bared. He made a hissing noise between his teeth. He breathed heavily. He didn't need to breath but sometimes it made situations like this easier, in this case it didn't as his nostrils were filled with the aroma of them, those people who used to be his friends. Dustin was the worst, he was angry and his scent overpowered everything it took all Clint's control to keep away from them. They watched, and Clint could smell fear. "Please just make it stop." Clint forced out. "How did you survive before?" Melissa asked. He didn't answer her, he couldn't answer her, his eyes were bloodshot, and slowly the iris was draining of its color. "I assume he lived on animals, and perhaps small drinks from people by his demeanor I assume he could never kill a person, until his eyes lose all color. For example it would be dangerous for any of you to go near him now." Clint didn't look up but he heard chairs falling. Everyone moved away from the broken kitchen door as a woman walked in like she owned the place. She was wearing leather pants and a red and gold top that showed her midriff. Her hair was the color of dried blood. Behind her followed Alison tentatively. "Who are you?" Dustin demanded, everyone else stared at her. She got in so she couldn't be a vampire, but they were all afraid of her. She walked straight to Clint, he caught a whif of her and looked up into her citrus green eyes. He gasped as she forced her wrist against his mouth. With that spiced aroma, and then the blood pulsing so near his lips Clint couldn't do anything but what was in his
nature. He bit into her wrist roughly. Her eyes flinched for a moment but then she did nothing. Her blood was aromatic, spiced, delectable, then he began to see images she was sending through it. Most times people couldn't control it but he had the sense she was. He saw fire, Baldev, rape, torture, he broke the connection and moved away from her staring at her. There was color blooming and disappearing in Clint's cheeks as they watched and he stared at the witch. He looked around at all their disgusted faces staring at him, but not hers. She stood there turning away from him as if he were nothing. He decided to hate her from that moment, who was she to walk in and force him to do exactly what he didn't want to do. "He is an asset and he is not to be destroyed." "Who are you to tell us what to do?" "The people of the camps call me Firebird." Alison looked at Arthitla for a moment but decided not to say anything. If she wanted to keep her name a secret from these pathetic people it was her perogative. "You've been in and out or the camps?" Melissa asked. "Multiple times." They all just stared at her Clint cowering against a wall was forgotten. He was trying to sort through the images he saw. The worst being Baldev. "I feel I know you..." Kevin said, suspiciously. She smiled at the young boy, waved her hand over her face and became an old hag. "You!" She reverted back. "It's only an illusion, the only one I can make, but an illusion all the same." She looked down at her wrist and took some powder from a drawstring purse attached to her
pants. She sprinkled it on the wound and it fizzed and healed leaving only a small mark of it being there. "You helped me escape!" "Yes." From that point on everyone warmed up to Firebird. Their faces were lit with astonishment, and admiration. "How'd you do that with the wound?" Melissa wondered. "She's a witch." Clint said darkly from his corner. "Caster of spells, purveyer of tricks." "She's human, powerful an ally..." Kevin said. "I must ask now if you have any food, for I have taxed myself feeding the boy." He scowled at her choice of words, he couldn't be more than several years younger than her. "Kevin, get her a bowl of soup." Melissa said, Kevin did so not taking his eyes off the woman. She had saved his life, he knew better than anyone who she was. "Wait don't kill him!" Another boy yelled coming in the room stopping dead in his tracks upon seeing Firebird, just like the rest of them. Then he noticed Alison. Clint he had been expecting, he had just learned the identity of the two newcomers. Alison was a complete surprise. In his eyes they were all together here now, and free, that was worth something. Clint looked up at Jordan. For once Alison smiled and she ran to hug her old friend. Jordan turned to her and did the same. "She's an asset, the vampire's not." Dustin stated angrily. "You can't kill Clint! He's our friend!"
"Not anymore!" Dustin yelped at Jordan. "You cannot kill the boy. He has yet to play a key role, I've seen it." Firebird said. Dustin boiled but refused to deal with them anymore, he couldn't make them hear him, couldn't sway them. Firebird had ruined everything. He stormed from the room, Melissa made a move to go after him but stopped, she would explain to him later, right now she was needed here. She turned back to them. Everyone reuniting with each other, but Clint who stood removed from everyone, fuming at Firebird. "The question remains, if Clint stays here how do we sustain him?" Melissa said, taking her seat again. "I assume one person can't feed Clint." "We the people are strong, with me you are stronger, Lilly has built a safe haven for you, we have a base for a resistance. I can teach you much, Clint can teach you much, Alison herself has learned the basics of survival. You there boy, you are military of some sort?" Nate looked up surprised, "How do you know?" "I have seen many military men from many different cultures, they all carry themselves similarly. The other boy, the one who left is he as well?" "No, Dustin's not military, but he was going to join when we graduated." Melissa responded. Firebird ignored her. "Your name?" "Nate," "What did you do." "I was a pilot." Firebird smiled. "I believe there is a base not far from here, we commandeer trucks, we might steal a plane even, as for the vampire, we find livestock, so
that not only will he have food but we might have a way to create our own you still have electricity?" "Yes." Melissa said. "I'll help feed Clint." Kevin said, in an unrelated note. Everyone stared at him in shock. "It will be a while before we get the livestock he'll need more before that." "If we can even do all these things!" Melissa said astounded. "United we can do anything." Firebird said. "I'll help Clint too." Jordan said. Looking at his friend. Clint looked at Jordan, "What are friends for buddy? Just cuz you've gone and gotten yourself undead doesn't mean you're any less my friend." Jordan said, amiably. "Where's Lilly." Clint asked glaring at the witch. She turned to him, her unnerving eyes looking straight into his so passively. "She will find her own way, but one day we will meet again. A pearl is worthless so long as it is still in its shell." "Little cryptic isn't it?" "Only if you make it so." She turned back to the soup, and Clint left the room angrily. He needed to be alone. He found a quiet corner of the club. It wasn't difficult, for the most part the people stayed away from him. She spoke of alliance and working together, but she had no idea, no one could accept Clint for what he was, even if they had years. Chapter 18 Several Hours Earlier
The warmth of the fire did little to enhance Lilly’s mood as she picked at the food Alison had given her. “You need to eat.” “It smells disgusting.” Lilly griped. “It’s only squirrel! It’s food Lilly, stop being a spoiled brat and eat whatever is available to you! That’s how you survive!” Lilly took a couple of bites at Alison’s request. It tasted as bad as it smelled. “What if I don’t want to survive?” Lilly mumbled, but Alison didn’t hear her. Lilly picked at it, slowly consuming it much to her stomach’s distaste. Lilly decided to occupy herself with thinking of other things. She stared at Alison’s hand. It still bled, yet she refused Lilly’s help in any way shape or form. Lilly put aside the wooden bowl full of squirrel. “You should feel lucky, at least it’s fresh.” “What do you mean?” Lilly asked curiously looking up. “Sometimes I can’t find anything and I’m forced to eat meat that’s gone bad already.” Lilly stared at Alison’s impassive face, appalled at this revelation. “You look so surprised.” “That’s disgusting!” “Yeah, and you would do it too if you had no other choice.” “You scavenge, can’t you find anything in the old houses?” “Not anything that isn’t covered in rat shit, and that’s not only disgusting, that’s toxic.” “So is rotten meat!” Alison fell silent.
“I’m still alive aren’t I?” she whispered. Lilly looked her up and down. Save for her appearing slightly scrawnier then Lilly remembered, and definitely much dirtier, it was still the same Alison. Her long dark brown hair and her chilling dark brown eyes still stared out. Yet there was a look in her eyes that Lilly found unrecognizable. She saw in Alison’s eyes a look of wildness that one would expect to see in a rabid animal. “All one can do is survive.” “And why can’t we fight?” Alison looked up at her, shaking her head listlessly. “You get caught you get killed, or worse. Didn’t you see what happened with Damon?” “Who was he? Why did he leave so quickly.” “How am I supposed to know? He’s Narmer’s first knight, and anyone I’ve ever spoken to considers him the most dangerous vampire of all. In fact, I've never heard of anyone surviving a confrontation with him." She looked at Lilly suspiciously, but Lilly was distracted. "Do you hear that?" Alison narrowed her eyes, but Lilly's face looked so...Alison couldn't place it, she listened. On the wind there was a lilting melody, permeating the sound of a waterfall that Alison knew was nearby. It was so hard to hear. Lilly stood up, she knew that melody, it was the same that had haunted her before the darkness covered the sky. Before she made the darkness that covered the sky. "No Lilly you can't go to it, it could be a trick." Lilly turned back to Alison. "I have to, you don't understand I've heard that song before."
"So what if you have? Doesn't mean you should go chasing rabbits!" Lilly wasn't listening she was already moving through the trees toward the waterfall. Alison followed cautiously sticking to the shadows the way she knew best. The sound of crashing water filled the air as they reached the place where the water fell down a cliff, the fall was the height of a three story building. During the days of light people would hike here just to see the beauty of this particular fall. Lilly had never been here. "Here," On the edge of the fall they saw a hole, very small that a person could fit through, a glow came from the cavern, it was a cavern behind the waterfall, but they were at the top of the fall, it didn't make sense that there would be a cavern there. Now Alison's curiosity was peaked Lilly froze listening to the dark lilting melody. Alison moved forward. "Don't go." Lilly said softly. "You brought us this far and you won't even take the next leap?" Alison wouldn't take no for an answer she grabbed Lilly's wrist and dragged her in through the tunnel. She froze when she reached the main cavern, they both froze and stared. One side of the cavern was the waterfall, but they couldn't hear it, something was obstructing the sound of the waterfall, the melody filled the cavern. Opposite from the wall there was a fireplace lit and casting the glow. The floor was soft with the multiple oriental rugs, one wall had set into it a bed with hanging curtains, done up in gold and red, nothing was wet. It didn't make sense, the dry stone was tan, and so was the woman in the center of the room. She looked oriental herself, of indian decent maybe? Different though, she stood playing the violin in the middle of the room. Her hair, mahogany curls
that hung down her back didn't move. The cave was cozy and unnerving, there was paraphernalia around that they both knew could be found in occult shops, near the bed there was a bookshelf inlaid into the stone, on it were books that looked older than their great grandparents. The woman though. She looked like she was in her late twenties, She was thin, she was dressed in a red and gold sari. She had a teardrop ruby hanging from a belly piercing, with strange tattoos on either side of her belly button. On the bow hand she had a pentegram tatoo, and all the way up her arms were vines. Finally she looked up at them, Lilly shrieked. The woman's eyes were the color of peridot, a citrus green that shone like a gem. Alison stared unmoving. "Hello Lillian. I've been expecting you." The woman put down the violin. She gestured towards a table surrounded by four pillows in front of the fireplace. On the table a symbol was carved. It was a diamond with smaller diamonds emanating from each of the four points of the large one. They were all connected. The table was bordered with vines like the ones on the woman's arms, inlaid with gems, like Lilly's ring, like the dagger in Lilly's boot. Alison moved forward to sit on one of the pillows. Lilly moved backwards. She knew this woman, this was the haunting woman she kept seeing before, before, the day that everything turned, the day her life was destroyed. "You." "There's no need to fear me, I mean you no harm, please sit and I will tell you an ancient story." "Who are you?" Alison asked.
The woman turned to her, "You may call me Arthitla. Though I have many names" Where had Lilly heard that name before? She grabbed her head. "Please sit, Lillian." Cautiously Lillian took a seat as far away from Arthitla as she could. She moved fluidly away and retrieved three cups. She retrieved the pot of water hanging in the fireplace. She scattered tea leaves into the cups and filled them giving the girls each one. Alison waited for it to cool and began to drink, it was full of spice and delicious, Lilly didn't touch hers. Arthitla moved to sit on a pillow. She took out a small silk drawstring purse. She removed a handful of gems and began placing them on the table. She put a saphire on one of the small diamonds, one opal on another, two rubies on another and a piece of topaz on the other. On the big diamond she put a large gem, it was a diamond. They sparkled in the light both girls knew intuitively that they were all real gems. "What are the elements, the elements that were once said to make up everything?" Lilly just stared. "Earth, Wind, Fire, Water." Alison answered. "And Spirit." Arthitla said looking up. She began pointing to the small diamonds and their gems. "Water," she said at the sapphire, "Earth," she said at the topaz, "Wind," she said at the opal, "Fire," She said at the twin rubies, "And spirit, spirit is the most important of all, without it nothing is connected anymore and all worlds fall into chaos. These are the elements, and the kingdoms that make up magic." She began pointing at them again in succession. "Atlantis, Egypt, Limbo, India, Eire. These five kingdoms,
their own world separate from the one you grew up in Lillian, fell, casting time, and this world into darkness." Lilly looked down at her tea and saw a flash of blood on emerald grass. That was an image she had seen before and one she wished she didn't have to. "What story?" Alison wondered. Lilly didn't want to be here, she wanted to run from the room, there was somthing wrong with the woman, she felt the heat from the fire, the heat from Arthitla herself, as if she was trying to make Lilly remember something she couldn't just like she had before, and how wonderful it had turned out last time. "Each stone represents a person, a person who played a part in the fall of the magical world, that keeps everything else in balance, this is their story. Once a man in Atlantis left his world seeking a mythical fifth kingdom for they knew only of four. He sought knowledge for the people of his land valued knowledge above all else. He found Eire, and he found the woman of the same name. He fell in love with her and they had a child who would inherit control over that world." She moved the gems as she told the story and she added an emerald to the now three stones in the middle. "The young princess growing up met a lost young boy, he was from the land of the lost, Limbo. She pulled him through to her world, and her parents concerned, bound that boy to protect her for all eternity. Wherever she was, he was bound to follow. They trained him as a knight." She moved the opal to the center diamond. "In the other two realms chaos abounded. There were two in the kingdom of fire, twins, a boy and a girl. The boy became king and the women became revered as a witch. She was gifted with a power of sight, while he was merely powerful as other kings had been, although he possesed the
key to time. In the kingdom of earth the leader saught power, he met with a demon who possesed him. Became the man called Narmer." Lilly was staring at the gems she could see it. In some she saw vague faces, faces she couldn't make out, but in the topaz she saw his red eyes could feel the evil. She wanted to turn away. She didn't want to hear more, her head was aching and she couldn't remember anything. "Once possesed Narmer believed he could conquer all other worlds and rule everything. Though again, Eire was only a myth, he did not believe it. He believed that he could, however, rule over all time. So he came to conquer India. The witch saw it, though, and with the help of her brother's advisor sent him on a quest for help from Eire. He escaped before Narmer arrived. Unfortunately while her brother landed safely on the shores of Eire, his advisor, turned. The witch was abused, and tortured, but left alive, barely, she escaped after she saw what would happen when Narmer, and his new acolyte, someone the boy had once trusted arrived to conquer this new most powerful land. Baldev." She paused for a moment as tears fell from Lilly's eyes, but she couldn't remember why, her heart cried but wouldn't reveal its secrets. "In the land of Eire the princess had grown up so lovely. She had reached the age of sixteen years. When the king landed he met her on the emerald shores, and he fell instantly in love with her, while none of the women in his own land could charm him she did it in an instant, with her eyes the color of that sapphire there." Lilly looked up at the woman. "You're that witch." "Yes princess."
Alison looked from one to the other. It was like they knew each other and at the same time Lilly still looked as vacuous as she was as the head cheerleader, Max's girlfriend. Lilly was a princess? "What happened?" the witch turned to Alison. Lilly stared into the distance. "Narmer came to Eire. He destroyed everything, the witches ingenuity reincarnated the young princess. She had secretly learned the key to time from her brother and she escaped with the baby. But it was only a baby, and not fit to fight Narmer as was necessary, so the witch left her in a time where she could grow, and the others chased her, until they realized that she no longer had the baby, it was too late, as the baby grew her powers shielded the time from being accessed until she was old enough once again. So they came here finally." "They destroyed my life." "More than once sounds like." Alison said. Lilly turned on her. "Why doesn't any of this bother you? Vampires, powers, witches!" Lilly was standing now, ranting. Alison looked up at her cooly. "Honestly? I thought life was boring before, power structures biased, you graduate, you go to college or not, you get a job, get married, or not, have kids or not, you have limited choices, I can be what I want to be, and nothing is ever boring." "But people die!" "I'm free. Why concern yourself with others?" "Because she has no choice." Arthitla stated. Alison looked back at her. Lilly stared at them the two of them, so calm and composed. None of it phased them. They
didn't understand, what she felt when she looked at those gems seeing obscured faces of people she couldn't remember. She tossed her hand across the table scattering the gems across the room, spilling her tea, the emerald flew through the air and through the waterfall, falling three stories to the bottom, Lilly watched it. "I saw faces in those gems faces that I couldn't make-out I don't want this!" "The eyes do not see what the mind does not want." Arthitla said. "What if I don't want to do it? Any of it? What if I just wanted to live like Alison What if I just want to run?" "You can run hard, people could die, if you don't climb you won't fall, but you won't succeed either, and nothing will change." Lilly stared at the witch, the witch stared back, Alison sipped her tea. Lilly heard the haunting melody press against her head and she didn't want any of it. Arthitla knew what she would do but didn't move to stop her. Alison looked up feeling some tension. She lunged forward and was grabbed by Arthitla as Lilly launched herself through the water and out into space. "She's going to kill herself!" "No." Arthitla said, undaunted by Lilly's choice. "What do we do? Now without little miss cheerleader princess?" Alison asked haughtily. "We wait, we fight, she can never accomplish anything until she conquers the darkness in herself--until they both do," she added under her breath. Chapter 19
Lilly flew into the air, she felt the wind in her hair, everywhere, up the shirt, up the baggy pants, she felt freedom. It was everything she wanted, all she wanted to remember, the air, the freedom, no fear, everything clear. The water fell around her, cold hard, painful, but it didn't matter. It would be over soon. But it wasn't. Mid fall she was caught in the arms of something. She didn't dare open her eyes to see. It touched a hand to her forehead and Lilly felt...blank. She knew her name, she knew her powers, the next thing she knew she was on the bank of a river, soaking wet and cold. She could hear an engine nearby it cut out and Lilly knew it was coming for her. She opened her eyes and saw the vampire, a female. Dressed like the one before, looked about Lilly's size. She didn't think she didn't complain, she didn't do anything except grab the sword in the belt of the female and take her head. She stared at the heinous lack of color in the skin of the fallen vampires headless body. She was offended by the vulgarity of the situation, but she knew what she had to do, the dripping oversized clothes she had from who knows where were not really very comfortable. She proceeded to strip the vampire and take the clothing. She then assumed the face of the vampire. Lilly moved to position herself on the bike, Clint had been teaching her on his old motorcycle back in June, before the darkness. Oddly enough while she remembered the random name, she couldn't remember exactly who Clint was. She remembered the motorcycle. She revved the motor of the motorcycle, she recognized the controls. She experimented for a moment before she completely got the hang of it again. She started down the road, not knowing where she was going, not knowing if she cared.
Lilly was a menace. She spent years being someone other than herself quite literally. She had found a way to cement an illusion so that it would not fade, even when she lost the thought. Whether this was a good or bad development was debatable. Lilly would not be herself, refused to be herself, for when she passed into her own form after fatiguing her tolerance to the magic, she found only a lack of hope and despair. She remembered some things, but not everything, she only remembered what she wanted to remember. Some of the things that bubbled back into her memory were things she brought up merely to torture herself. When she was pretending to be someone else those memories weren't there. Never did she stay within a vampire's house longer than her illusion could hold. Potentially if she was kept in negligence of the time or even her own state of languor, she could easily be diverted, and easily be caught. Yet if you asked her if she cared she wouldn’t have had an answer. Like her friend she was becoming completely removed from the entire situation. Alison had been the same way. Alison paid no mind to the situation she was in, Alison survived for what reason she didn’t know. She survived and was content to be living, and free. Yet Lilly was not free, she was enslaved by her hatred for herself. She spent time in the well-kept homes of the lowly lords and ladies of Narmer’s kingdom. She searched for information regarding the whereabouts of her little sister she didn't care about her proposed destiny. It wasn't hers she hadn't found it. With each passing, year, month, week, day, every minute she was finding more and more discouragement. The vampires were ubiquitous, ruling everything, she knew there were stragglers out there, they were alone though. There was electricity in places,
mostly only the grids where a Lord made his home. She knew nothing of the upper royalty, and she did have several close calls even in her perusal of the smaller homes. Her spirit was fading; she purposefully supressed her memory which slowly faded away into fog—and then to nothing. Clint? Who was Clint? Who were those people whose names buzzed around in her subconscious? Lilly was at least twenty-one years old now, and she knew it but it didn’t matter. She found it laughable to think that she would have been old enough to drink at this point. The most accessible forms of drink now were water and blood. Interesting to think that it was so rare to see any domesticated animals when before they had almost over-run the earth. Many of the old domesticated animals with the loss of their human companions just turned wild. Livestock was kept, it composed the meager portion of meat in the slaves diets, but it wasn't the massive farms that it used to be. Humans were the livestock now. Lilly found herself locked in a mentality of disbelief. She went through the things around her as a ghost. She hardly remembered what life used to be like. She slept in unsafe, yet inconspicuous places. She rested so that the next day she might continue the search for her sister in a new castle or mansion. While all other memories faded those of her sister grew stronger, David's visage was another ghost that she couldn't get rid of. Lilly did not desire to help those in need around her. She felt somewhere deep down that it was her duty to save certain ones, yet she found it impossible to act upon this quiet intuition. She watched many former friends suffer, and then die horrible, unthinkable deaths, and she did nothing. She stood by watching, and thinking, someone should stop this from happening. Yet of course, in a room full of unsuspecting vampires,
no one reacted to such things. It was entertainment to the masses of vampires. Entertainment was to watch the Lord of the House rape an unruly slave whenever he saw fit. Lilly stood by and watched thinking—that person doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Yet she did nothing to stop them. She was dead to hatred, dead to regret and remorse, dead to the world around her. In these two years she hadn’t killed a single vampire save one. She killed one who road a bike so that she might take her identity often. Other times she randomly mirrored a vampire who walked past. Still she was there, and she confused things a bit by switching identity’s quickly and simply. She had not a friend in the world. Lilly was utterly alone. In her dreams she remembered strange immitigable things. In her dreams Lilly had a family, she had a life, and she was happy. The notion of such things turned her insides to mush, turned her eyes to glowing orbs of tears. It was the old life that became the dream, the darkness was reality. She knew that she wanted to be nothing so she became nothing. Immune to the terrible things happening around her. Who was she to intervene in this world she knew so little about. Yet if Lilly had tried she could have learned much by now. She could have learned how their society worked, how things were done. She didn’t care. She didn’t want to get involved because she didn’t want to put herself at risk. Nothing could save her now. It was upon the new year that Lilly caught her first glance of an intriguing individual—one who forced her eyes to open just to look at her. She was in the house of Lord Razmond. At the moment she had assumed the identity of a vampire named
Charles. She preferred to play the parts of males they had so much more freedom, she stood in the court of the Lord, the ballroom persay as they brought her forward, bound and naked. Lilly watched Lord Razmonds eyes prey upon the tanned naked flesh of the woman who stood before him. The woman was older then Lilly, she looked about twenty-eight years old. Lilly stared at her indifferently as she stared at all such victims. The curls of her red hair that mimicked the color and thickness of dried blood fell haphazardly about her face. She was shimmering with sweat she was covered in dirt; she was no different from any other specimen brought before the lords, except maybe in her age. Most often the older ones knew not to rebel against the lords, they knew better then to challenge the authority of the vampires. They were a long ways away from the times when individual slaves might escape to the waiting refugee camps as Emily had done, as Kevin had supposedly done. “And who might this delectable delight be?” The lord spoke, surprised by the audacity in the guards to interrupt the festivity of his company. He spoke with a voice that was coarse as sandpaper. “She drugged one of your prized males, we…” the guard looked to the other beside him. “We found her in one of the huts. She was…she looked like she were casting spells.” The lord looked at the guard humorously.
“Spells? Fools, what mortal would have the impudence to do such things? And besides how did such a beautiful specimen find her way into the huts, I’ve never seen her before.” “I am no specimen.” The girl slowly looked up, her long hair framing her face in a fashion that made her look deadly, her voice sounded slightly foreign but Lilly couldn’t place it. The females of the court gasped, and one of the ones nearest the lord fell to a faint. The girls murderous eyes caught the light in a beguiling fashion with their most unlikely color. They looked like a citrus green, the color of peridot, and just as faceted as any vampires. She turned her head, and her eyes caught Lilly’s. Lilly stared back, for an uncomfortable instant Lilly could have sworn that the girl saw through her. She could have sworn the girl was looking at her, and not at the illusion that she portrayed. Her head spun, her hair flew about as she stared with murder into the eyes of the lord. “Rashka nora losna ka” the girl repeated these words over and over as she stared into the eyes of the lord. The court held it’s breath at her whispering voice, at the impudence she dared to emit. The guards were at a loss for what to do. Lilly stared enthralled by this being, never had she seen a person brought before the lord with her faculties so intact. With defiance that ran freely through her naked body. Lilly looked to the lord. He stared at his hands. Lilly’s eyes widened as she realized that his skin was slowly turning black. “What manner of devilry is this?” he inquired of no one. “It’s the witch!” another yelled, he was to the right of the lord, he was the lords advisor. He ran at the girl at a speed only Lilly’s eyes could detect. He kicked the girl
aside breaking her gaze from the lord, but it was too late, the damage was done. Lilly stared at the pile of dust that stood where the lord had been only moments before. “Bitch!” the advisor yelled as he smacked her across the face. Her gaze was no less intense. “How dare you!” He turned to the rest of the court. “I am the lord of this house now, she is the witch, the only person who can take her spirit I believe is Baldev, he will know how to deal with her.” The advisor turned he was now looking at Lilly. “You, you there, poacher, you will follow the cart which carries her there. Do not let anything go wrong or we shall have your head.” Lilly nodded absently as she stared at the woman who stared at her. “Go now! Before she does anything more!” he yelled. Lilly followed the guards as they dragged the woman out of the room. “Firebird not so tough now, eh?” one of the guards remarked. Lilly acknowledged the presence of a name for the girl and she stored it in her faulty memory instantly. “Dude, don’t anger her” the other one stated. Lilly found it amusing to see, there was a human the vampires feared more then she. Lilly watched Firebird with eyes that contained the curiosity of a savage. She watched Firebird let these others shuttle her towards the cart willingly. The court they left behind was in an uproar. Lilly gleaned from their minds the cause for such. The advisor himself had just turned to dust. Lilly stared at the woman, finding the woman was actually staring at her. It was as if time had frozen, the woman had turned, and Lilly looked down to see she was herself, yet everything had a darker tint to it. The expressions on the guards were frozen into their faces. The red-haired witch stared at her, light playing across the dark-lipped scheming smile she sported on her face.
“Dust in the wind, little one.” Firebird stated. Lilly’s wide eyes did not conceal her surprise nor her confusion. She stood staring. She shook her head, and blinked, colors were normal again, the guards were staring at her confusedly. Lilly felt like she knew the woman. “Charles are you coming?” one of them said. Lilly shook off the disorientation. She nodded, noting that the evilly smug smile still lit the woman’s face. She wouldn’t miss this adventure for anything in the world. Chapter 20 Lilly made it to the ship without any trouble, that was without any rest. She would ride along behind the birdcage they kept the woman, this Firebird in. Lilly held the strong impression that the girl could have escaped the cage at any moment, yet she chose instead to stare at Lilly with a smug smile on her face. Didn’t she know the trouble she had gotten herself into? Baldev was not a vampire you messed with. Besides that her gaze unnerved Lilly, reminded her of something she couldn't place. Baldev was one of Narmer’s first knights. He was not the highest of them, but he was by far the most vindictive towards young beautiful females. His castle held quite the collection of mindless slaves to attend to his every desire. Lilly had learned unwillingly how the did this. As a salve vampire blood could heal any human wound in an instant, if drank, it would turn them into a slave, eyes turned black and they served with mindless obedience. Then there were the others, the people they wanted to suffer, who were given a drug that turned the eyes a violet color, these were perfectly concious, but couldn't do anything to stop what went on around them, if taken off that drug they tended to die from
withdrawl fairly quickly. Lilly shivered, imagining what horrible thing Baldev might have in store for Firebird. Lilly lost track of the time they spent on the road, but they reached the port fairly quickly. Lilly knew her power was fading. She knew that she could not hold the illusion much longer. Thankfully the ship was waiting with the proper vampires to command it. Lilly commissioned immediately one of the smaller quarters. The attendants told her that she would find a coffin ready there, worthy of her status. Lilly’s status was that of a poacher at the moment. A poacher was always dressed in black, primarily black leather. They rode the motorcycles and traversed the wilderness of former cities to find those single rebels all alone. People such as Alison, the survivors, those who refused to submit for reasons they couldn’t recognize. The coffin was simple, yet it was a decent one. Lilly found it amusing that she would sleep in a coffin when she wasn’t truly dead, she wasn’t even undead. No matter, Lilly’s spirit was dead and that was all that really makes the difference between the dead and the living isn’t it? Lilly climbed into the coffin without fear or worry. To sleep in a coffin meant that out of respect the other vampires would not disturb her. She would be able to sleep in her own form and recharge her powers so she could use them again when she left. She didn’t account on spending the entire voyage asleep, but she did anyway, and the vampires didn’t find it strange at all. They expected her to sleep, she needed to be completely wary of the witch as she escorted her to the castle. -- o -Lilly awoke losing for a moment the sense of who she was. She opened the coffin and stepped to the floor. Instantly she felt she was being watched. Her sword whizzed to
the ready position only to discover there was only air. Lilly’s eyes adjusted to the dark, there was no one there. The handle moved—the door opened, and a young male vampire stepped into the room reverently bowing his head as if to apologize for bursting in. Instantly his eyes snapped up. “You dare to disturb me?!” Lilly yelped, surprised at his entrance. She had made a seconds change as she replaced the sword in her belt. The boy vampire cowered from her. “Please forgive me, I thought I saw something strange.” He remarked. “Who gave you permission to intrude on my slumber?” “Baldev did sir, the captain said we should let you sleep as long as you could, but then we got word from Baldev, He has guards waiting, you’re supposed to accompany them. Baldev says that you are to make absolute haste or risk losing your head.” “Impudent child” Lilly huffed as she stormed out of the small room. -- o -The ride was uneventful until they reached the castle. Firebird again stared at her the entire journey, as if she knew what Lilly truly was. Lilly didn’t like it but she put up with it. They reached the castle and Lilly cut the motor to her bike, staring at it in awe. “Where are we?” she uttered to the boy who came to take her bike. “Isn’t it obvious? You’re at Baldev’s castle in Wales.” Lilly was surprised to hear a name she recognized. She had known they were crossing the ocean, but to actually set foot on the land she had always wanted to visit before the darkness was jarring. For a single instant frozen in time Lilly remembered who she was, but then it was gone. She shook it away.
Firebird was released, and everyone was on their guard. The girl smiled smugly as she entered the doors. Lilly didn’t understand the joy of this girl to be taken into one of the most dangerous castles in existence, and there he was. The moment the company entered Lilly’s eye caught movement. Baldev suddenly appeared right beside Firebird. The guards released her and ran away, Lilly stayed as she was not ordered to go. Baldev’s eyes were jovially thrilled and Firebird only smirked. “They call you Firebird! What a fitting name! And you alive and knowledgeable, so enticing, they sent you to me.” He turned to Lilly. “Why are you still here? You there! Take this eyesore away and remove his head!” he yelled to someone across the court. Lilly didn’t move. She didn’t want to move. The other vampire grabbed ahold of her arms, and Baldev pointed at someone else. “You there! You take this young lady to a chamber, get her dressed properly so that she might dine with me.” He smiled evily as Firebird made a mockery of a sweet smile though she said nothing. The other vampire took her down the opposite hall the maid took Firebird. Lilly didn’t want to lose her head, she wanted to follow the intriguing girl who defied even one of the most dangerous vampires. Lord Razmond's court had been one thing, but this was ridiculous. She spun on the other vampire, drawing her sword in an instant. The next moment she used to burn the head rolling at her feet and the subsequent body. She took on the illusion of her executioner and ran down the other hallway. The maid was just about to enter the chamber Firebird was already in. Lilly grabbed hold of her shoulders, pulling her back out of view.
The vampire maid looked up with surprise and hatred, her fangs bared. Lilly smiled with the next instant resulting in the screams of her burning. Lilly took her face as she entered the chamber of Firebird. She found her dressed in a medieval style, the fabric the blood red that vampires loved, and she was staring at her. “Hello again princess.” Lilly’s face dropped with the recognition of the address, along with her mask. She remembered the witch now but this time refused to run. The heavy wooden door slammed behind her, but it wasn’t her doing. “Who are you?” Lilly stared at her with astonishment as she realized that she wasn’t messing around with her this time. Firebird sat in the chair of the wooden vanity. She took the brush from the table and began to comb her long red hair. “I am The Witch.” “I don’t understand!” Lilly uttered. “They call me Firebird here.” She said eyeing Lilly in the reflection of the mirror. "You know me as Arthitla." “What did you do to be captured?” Lilly asked, sitting on the bed as Firebird indicated she should do. Trying to force the memories back out of her head, trying to regain her peace again. “What does one have to do? One merely has to be beautiful to be brought in by the vampires. It was true what they said about me when you stood there watching, I had used charms to turn myself into a hag, and I poisoned him.” “But why?” “Because I can see.” “See what?”
“You needed me.” “What does any of this have to do with me?” “Everything!” she said, spinning around and taking Lilly’s hands into hers. Lilly stared at her with uncomprehending eyes. “You aren’t the only one to possess magic princess. Yet you are one of the few.” “Why do you turn them to dust and not burn them” “I can’t burn objects like vampires. A candle I can light. Most of what I do is charms and spells, I am the witch.” “Yeah I remember that.” Lilly said rudely. "All your stories and bull." "You never drank the tea." "What's your point?" "Fate and free-will both play an equal role in destinies, had you drank the tea you might have seen the faces." "You tried to drug me? Why didn't Alison see the faces?" "She hadn't seen them before." "Why did you come?" "Because it's time you woke up princess." "Why now?" "Because now you will have the help you need, You have guts to do the things, but due to fear you are not willing to complete the things; accepting that fear is more power, but confidence is more power than the fear, if you move with confidence you will achieve your success." "What help?"
"Your past slowly comes into alignment with your future, your absence has moved others to desperation. The world is ready for you." "Why do you always speak in riddles!" Arthitla smiled. "Baldev is coming for me." "And how are you going to escape?" "I have more tricks up my sleeve than you know young one. Go now." Arthitla pushed Lilly into the hallway Lilly tried to mask herself quickly enough as she stumbled out into the hallway. She looked up only to see at the end of the hallway he stood staring at her. His yellow eyes caught her blue and he knew. Instantly she was running for her life through the halls. She had no idea where she was going all she knew was that she couldn’t disguise herself anymore. The vampires ran as fast as she. Lilly couldn’t keep it up for long, she was dying for a breath of air. Unlike the vampires, Lilly had limits, her powers could be exhausted, she herself could tire. As her head hit the floor she knew that she was done for, she was ahead of the vampires, but she could go no further. She was grabbed away in strong cold arms. She was propped against a cold hard stone wall as the door flew open and at her. She was hidden behind the door. She made no motion, she was too exhausted, but she could see through the cracks between the large wooden door and her place behind it the warriors searching for her. “Have you seen a girl or any other vampire for that matter run past here?” “I’ve seen nothing” an unfamiliar voice stated. “Well if you do set off the alarm immediately, whoever visits you is not who they appear to be.”
“Absolutely will do.” The door slammed shut revealing Lilly sprawled against the wall and sinking to the floor. The light-brown straight hair cut just below the ears of the vampire standing in Lilly’s direct view shone in the light. He stared at Lilly with eyes the color of ice. “It’s you.” Lilly tried to gasp some retort as she sank to the floor only to be grabbed by the vampire and plopped in a chair in front of the desk. It was a cushioned chair and Lilly sank into it dully. She was as a doll, an inanimate and poseable object. Lilly gasped at the empty air for minutes on end. She did not know how long she sat there before the vampire spoke again, his eyes never leaving her form. “I’m sorry I stare, it’s just that you’re the one the prophet spoke of in the literature burned in a fire at my estate.” “What prophet.” Lilly rasped. “Don’t try to speak, you’re exhausted, I shall tell you all I know of the documents though much of it was decayed and unreadable thanks to the passage of time. A prophet named Ariyranyelar, he’s spoken of much in much mythology in many lands, but until I had found these documents there was nothing of what he spoke. I shared my discovery with no one finding there was good reason for the destruction of all documents pertaining to the prophet. It spoke of an apocalypse separate from The Bible, and centered around a spiritual realm and something about there being two worlds mistakenly molded into one. It also spoke of you. Your powers your plight. I fell in love with the land I studied it hurts me greatly to think it has been destroyed I would like to help you in anyway I can.” “Why should I trust you.” Lilly asked, her voice low yet no longer raspy.
“Does there have to be a why?” Lilly stared into his impersonal vampire eyes. What could she learn from the sparkling orbs? She couldn’t, the sparkle masked all emotion they might have carried were they human. Were they human, yes, good to remember that Lilly wasn’t speaking to a human at all and that at any moment someone could come bursting through the door from an alarm he sounded. His face went cold for a moment as he stared into nothingness. Lilly continued to stare into his face, trying to break the icy stasis it was in. She could not read the intent of his mind, he either knew how to block it or Lilly was too weak to use it. “You must go! There’s no more time to waste, they are coming for you.” “And how would they know where I’m at if you didn’t sound an alarm?” “He bloody well is the alarm!” “Who? Baldev? Narmer?” Slowly Edward’s icy eyes dropped to look upon Lilly’s regal countenance. “Poppet, you don’t have time, he’ll find you, and you won’t live through the encounter, what he seeks he finds, what he finds he bloody destroys. You must go now! I'm sorry we have less time than I desired.” “And how am I supposed to do that, it’s not like I can walk out the front door.” “Shift forms, become an animal, any animal.” “What?” “Bloody hell can’t you just do something without questioning it for once, you’re not like what the text said you to be.” “Look I don’t care about a stupid text…”
“Think of the bloody animal and change!” Lilly stared at him for a moment, stared as he seemed to grow larger in size. Or was she growing smaller, Lilly couldn’t tell. Lilly didn’t understand though, she wasn’t thinking of anything really, of Ariel maybe…then it dawned on her as her vision cleared and became full of vivid vibrant colors that meant absolutely nothing. Lilly was a cat. The door burst open and Lilly bounded into a corner behind a bookcase. She was amazed at how easily she fit in the small space. Her judgment told her it was impossible to do such, but she had done it without a second thought. Lilly couldn’t believe she was a cat. This was way out of line, this was too much. Pyrokinesis, Telekinesis, those weren’t unheard of, but to be able to become any animal on the street, no it was illogical, it made no sense. As she became aware of the cats senses melting so completely into her own she realized that there was a pungent and distinct smell on everything. A smell that overpowered the smaller ones of the individual people. She smelled preternatural flesh, this wasn’t strange, there were three vampires in the room, although the faces were somewhat obscured and beyond Lilly’s sight. She was overwhelmed by the senses of the cat, overwhelmed by the smells, including the scent of blood, this was the scent that covered everything. Her hearing was impeccable and her ears twitched to every little sound. Who the hell cared about the vampires arguing miles above her head, Lilly wanted to get out of this musty place that smelled of rats and spiders. She felt the webs brushing her shining black coat and she didn’t like it.
She began to creep unnoticed along the outer wall, better not to arouse the curiosity of the vampires, better just to go. She slipped out the door without a sound and leaped into the rafters of the ceiling so simply from the floor. The distance was at least ten miles to a cat and Lilly did it so easily so flawlessly, she felt she could rule the world. The muscles of her lithe cat body moved as if they were made of liquid steel. She could do anything, she was perfect. Her balance was unchallenged she could traverse the rafters no more then two inches thick with unbiased precision. She could shrink into darkness at whim, she was light as a feather and yet so powerful. It was impossibly wonderful to be perfection. Why had she never tried this before? Her ears twitched, and she crouched low into the shadows. Baldev, and Damon. Damon—Looking straight at her. Lilly didn’t lose her cool, she only stared with the curious yet cautious eyes of the cat. Baldev was yelling at him, but Damon wasn’t paying attention. Why was he here, if they were bitter enemies as Baldev was eluding to within his objection to Damon’s presence. It was critical that Lilly be lost in the cat’s senses, if she had yet gained control of the monstrously egotistical brain of the cat it would be a simple matter for Damon to tell she was not really a cat. Lilly wasn’t even sure she could be qualified as a human anymore after this incident. “You don’t belong here Damon.” “You lost the witch.” Damon spoke with no emotion while Baldev’s voice was full of hatred. Yet still Damon’s voice made Lilly’s head spin, just not now. Instead she puzzled at the strange words they spoke, while storing it in her memory nonetheless. “Maybe I never had her, maybe it was all a trick.” “You lost the girl too.”
“Shut the hell up! Narmer will never know she was here, never know that we were so close.” “What makes you say that?” “Because you’re too afraid to tell him.” Damon turned, Lilly could hear the sounds of his cloak swishing around him as he began walking away. The sound enticed her as a string, she wanted to chase the cloak, yet there was something else, something she had to remember. “Where the hell do you think you’re going!” “You asked me to leave I’m leaving.” “God damn you to hell Damon!” Baldev screamed with frustration. “Too late, my old friend” Damon recanted as he rounded the corner and left the scene. What was it Lilly had to remember? Why couldn’t she think of it? Why was it she heard the sound of the cloak and wanted to chase it? Another vampire approached the fuming Baldev. “Sir, we discovered another rebel, he might have helped the witch escape.” Baldev glared up and Lilly watched with the curious yellow eyes of the cat as the head rolled on the floor, it’s eyes searching for an explanation in the empty air, Baldev turned, leaving the body, and the head to rot. This time Lilly couldn’t resist the draw of the swishing noise. She followed, jumping from rafter to rafter. Baldev took his place at the head of the room. Lilly followed him unnoticed by the guards, and even Baldev himself whose cloak she chased. She looked up and nearly froze, she had enough sense to dart to the shadows where she stared at the boy on his
knees in front of Baldev. Recognize him, but why, who was he? Why did Lilly feel the pull of another mind on her own. Lilly wanted to play, what was happening to her? The boy had tousled mousy hair which obscured his eyes for the most part in it’s messy mop on his head. Yes recognize, but from where, was he once her human? What relevance did this little boy have to her? His hands were tied behind his back, with a rope red, from the blood that stained it. Lilly could smell that blood and she imagined a nice juicy rat. Lilly wanted to hunt, why was it she couldn’t move? He couldn’t be more then eleven years old. The thought randomly pranced into her head. Along with the fact that the rope around his neck was probably hurting him intensely, even if it wasn’t making him bleed. The boy looked, he too saw her in the shadows of Baldev’s throne. He averted his eyes instantly, but why? The questions were driving Lilly up a wall. Lilly couldn’t stand the curiosity anymore, she stepped from the shadows into the light, and Baldev stared at her. His eyes full of suspicion and surprise. She stepped to inspect the boy more closely. The boy thought quickly, know what or who the cat was he did not, yet he did not want to see it hurt, Rachel would’ve never wanted a poor defenseless kitty to be hurt for no reason. “Discord! There you are! I’ve been worried!” Baldev’s eyes flashed on the boy. Discord? The boy called her Discord, was he really her human then, why did she recognize his scent and not who he was, friend or foe. “He dares to speak in my presence! Narmer will hear of this, he will deal with you boy. That is if you survive the trip, I sense he had something to do with the witch.”
“If you’re talking about Firebird, yeah I helped her.” The boy said looking up slyly as he scratched Lilly behind the ears. Lilly liked that, she began to purr her approval of this gesture. Baldev stepped forward. He struck the boy hard across the face, with a loud crack more random data registered in Lilly’s head, even as she was thrown down across the floor. The boy’s nose had broken. Yet he didn’t cry out in pain at all, no matter what his face registered. Lilly pounced forward, she made an instantaneous change from cute and lovable to prickly cactus not to be messed with. Her paw lashed out at Baldev as she hissed fiercely in defense of the boy who called her Discord “Goddamn cat!” Baldev screamed as the scratch healed itself instantly, “Take that boy and his damn cat away! Ship em’ to Narmer’s palace. ” Immediately the guards obeyed, Lilly found herself suddenly inside a sack. She hissed angrily in disapproval. She tried to claw her way out but it just didn’t work that way. She wanted the boy to scratch her behind the ears again. She wanted to be comforted. She did not like the way they treated her. She was only a poor defenseless cat, she had nothing to do with the boy really. Didn’t she? Lilly shook her head as she felt the sack jarred from side to side at a walking pace. Jarred indeed, what was going on? Lilly fought the desire to struggle intensely, she was surprised at the degree of control it took. The cat in her still had instincts—ones powerful enough to override her own senses quite completely. “Get in there boy!” one of the vampires demanded. Lilly couldn’t see anything. She felt the loss of grip on the bag. As it sailed through the air Lilly learned there was an escape. She leaped through the hole and onto the wet deck of the hold. She looked up at
the smiling face of a vampire as the bars were slammed into place. Lilly stared back murderously. “It’s all right kitty, I’m a bit scared too, but everything will be all right in the end I promise.” He scooted towards her and began scratching behind her ears. Instantly Lilly felt the pleasure that ran through the follicles of her fur, and she knew that if she didn’t stop the boy and get out of this form she was going to lose control again. She hissed and scratched at the boy’s hand. “Ow!” he yelped as she jumped back into a dark corner. “Discord, that wasn’t very nice!” Lilly stared at him from the corner, suddenly realizing exactly who he was. No longer was she impeded by the cats mind though she knew the euphoria and power she felt as a cat was definitely something she wanted to return to. Especially compared to this. “I’m not discord, no matter how much chaos I create.” The boy backed away instantly even though in the darkness he could not see who it was, he knew it certainly wasn’t a cat. “Firebird? Is that you?” he asked nervously. “No.” “Who the hell are you?!” he yelled. Lilly heard the pause in footsteps. She leaped forward, put a hand over the boys mouth and pulled him back into the shadows with her. She saw from this vantage point the vampire shrug and continue on his way. The ship was moving now. “Make an outburst again and I’ll be forced to sever the method in which you speak, I don’t care who you are anymore. I’m not who you think I am.” Kevin looked at
her with his adorably large hazel eyes. She frightened him, how was he to know who she was, he didn’t have a single clue, all he saw was shadows… “The only thing I think you are is…” his words trailed off into nothingness, as she released him. He had stepped back and for only an instant the waning light of the setting moon danced in her eyes deeper then the ocean itself. The realization hit him as he watched the pupils elongate for only an instant. He saw in shadows as the ears traveled up the side of her head, and as fine jet black fur erupted from her pores. He stumbled towards the other wall, and he watched her now fully a cat as she stepped forward across the damp boards, so daintily, so easily. She looked up as he became confined to the corner, the light shined across her feline eyes making her terrifying to the young rebellious boy. “Meow,” she said making it an impudent statement. He stared, as his skin paled, Lilly could see it so clearly through her feline eyes. Though most was in tones of gray in the darkness. There wasn’t really anything of color on the ship besides. The vampires were lighting the lanterns on board, and Lilly was tired of being herself. She turned around, stuck her tail in the air at him as she walked to the other side of the room. She felt the felines mind taking over her own, the nocturnal instincts of the cat told her even in the undaunted darkness of the continuous night, that this was the time to sleep. This time of the set moon, complete darkness this was the day. As she curled up in the corner, quietly restraining the cats desire to kill the rat that suddenly darted across her path as the vampires threw down a crust of bread for the boy. Kevin didn’t even notice, the rat grabbed the crust and ran off. “Lilly.”
Chapter 21 Lilly opened her eyes finding herself entombed in a coffin; her golden hair formed a halo around her face. Her blue eyes filled with the fear of being buried alive. She screamed and screamed and no one came. “Why do you scream?” he asked her. She spun, and found herself in a room, no, not a room, a hut, a slave hut. She recognized the voice ever so faintly in a clouded memory. She ran to the arms of the dark figure, his face immersed in darkness. It was David, but at the same time it was someone completely different, his skin tan like Arthitla's. “They buried me alive!” she yelped at the man who held her in strong indifferent arms. “Such they are prone to do, you mustn’t let it deter you.” “But I could have died.” “You are alive.” “But it was a coffin.” “Vampires sleep in coffins.” “I’m not a vampire.” “What makes you so sure…” Lilly’s face jerked up to stare at him. She lashed out at something. “OW!” he yelped. Lilly blinked several times before finding her surroundings in focus. The dank and dreary cell of a ship, a moving ship. She lunged at the fading memory of the dream. Something important something she had seen, something that
shouldn’t be forgotten. It was too late; the memory of what she had seen of his face was gone. “You bit me!” Lilly slowly directed her eyes to Kevin. With her keen ears she heard the laughing of nearby vampires. They were laughing at him, at his own cat turning against him. That’s right, Lilly was still a cat, she realized. She wondered if like Ariel, she could speak as humans did. Ariel? Who was Ariel? Lilly hated the random things that kept showing up in her head. She resented the way they retreated just as easily as they came. “You deserved it” she hissed softly so that the vampires couldn’t hear it. They had retreated; the show was over, they knew that the boy had yelped for insignificant reasons. “You were the one twitching like seizure kitty. I figured you were having nightmares so I tried to shake you a little.” “You deserved it.” “I hate you!” “Look Kevin, I don’t know you, I know your name, and I have vague feelings toward you but besides that I know nothing of you.” “What!” Cold as ice. The phrase pulsed through her head; she screamed a feline scream as he forced himself back against the wall with a start. “What’d you do that for!” “I’m sick of it! I was fine until you came, I was living a fine life, you came you and your Firebird, you came and you destroyed everything, all sanity, random thoughts pulse through my mind and I don’t have a clue what they mean. None of this before you came.”
"I only tried to save you, I see now that it was a big mistake. When I first learned you were Lilly I thought, she’s alive we’re saved! God-damn-it we’re saved!” “Nasty words are unbecoming of a child your age.” “Now you shut up! I ain’t a child either, none of us are. Isn't good to be a child in this world, and if ya' are, you learn real quick that it ain’t no way to be, or you die. Rumors say you were the only one could save any of us, we thought you dead. Now I learn you might as well be dead 'cuz there ain’t nothing you remember anyway.” “Shut up” “Why should I! Wait till Clint hears of what you become.” “Shut up” “Hell, you’re just as bad as one of them vampires!” “Shut UP!” Lilly screamed as her paw launched at his face. She saw the red treads appear on his child-soft skin and she ran to the other side of the cell. It hurt her that in this form she could not cry. She did not cry though her eyes turned wet. The dam had broken without outlet. Despair exploded in her small feline brain. “Some savior.” He said, holding his hand to his face. “I…” there was knocking on one of the walls. She spun her head to it, and noted that it struck four times. “Shut up, you’re supposed to be a cat, there’s a vampire coming.” Lilly stared at him with a start. She listened, she metal sliding against metal, and she looked up for the first time noticing a door in the cell other then the grate above. Or if not a door, there was at least a hole in the wall with bars, so that it could be slid away, so others could look in. “You in there, who the hell you talking to!”
“Who the hell you think vampire scum” “There were two voices in here. We heard them.” “Yeah I was talking to Marie Antoinette, she says that she misses her head, and wonders if you might lend her yours.” “Stupid human!” The board slammed back into place, as Kevin laughed. Lilly stared until she heard Kevin launch into a fit of coughing. “You’re sick!” Lilly whispered, once again making sure the vampires couldn’t hear her. “What’s it matter? You don’t care anyway.” He said as he knocked against the wall beside him once. “What the hell was that for?” “What do you care? It’s Simon, he was the one who warned me.” Lilly cocked her head at him with all the skepticism that a cat could muster. “You know we may not be able to burn the vampires where they stand, but there are other things we can do to fight them.” “Bullshit, why are you really here.” “Do you remember now?” “Shut the hell up, I don’t need your mockery,” “Well you’re gunna have to deal with it for the next few weeks aren’t you” “Something I’m not looking forward to. What the hell is Simon doing here?” “He’s my back-up.” “Simon? As back-up?” Lilly wondered aloud. Kevin laughed. “So, you do have your memory back then.”
“What the hell use is Simon?” Kevin couldn’t help but continue laughing. “He’s logical, and his logic helps” “He never did a defiant thing in his life, I thought we were heading for Narmer.” “Narmer and the other one yeah, Firebird never really escaped, at least not when she was said to. She got access to the registry, and switched his name out with another. She made sure he would come to this ship with me. He was supposedly caught shifting through files in Baldev’s castle.” “You planned all this?” “You’ve missed a lot.” “Why don’t you fill me in.” “Why do you care?” “How the hell should I know?!” “Why the hell should I trust you?” “I don’t know.” “When you left you destroyed a lot of people’s hope. Especially when we figured you were dead.” “I didn’t destroy anything.” “You did! You destroyed Clint indefinitely.” “Clint was already destroyed.” “And you call yourself his friend!” “I don’t call myself anything!” she hissed. “Well you should! Clint wasn’t the only one either. You killed Melissa. The only reason we’re out here is because Dustin won’t accept it. It’s no secret he’s always had a
crush on her, he never did tell her though. We lost her to a raid. She put up a good fight but they took her anyway.” “I didn’t touch her!” “You miss the damn point! You still killed her. It was because she was thinking of you that she wasn’t paying attention.” “Why didn’t Clint stop Dustin from sending you out then?” “Clint has no obligation to us.” “Bullshit.” “Bullshit my ass, the only reason he’s a part of us is because he can’t leave thanks to your little shield device, it won’t let vampires out or in. He’s stuck. Anyhow, Firebird was sent to gather her whereabouts, yet somehow she ended up in Baldev’s hands. We didn’t expect that but we adapted. Firebird hitched a ride secretly on a cargo plane.” “So you’ve only got two people, going to Narmer’s palace alone, to retrieve someone who’s probably dead anyway?” Lilly asked pitifully. “Basically yes. Are you going to help or just sit there in that dumb cat form and mock us?” “Whatever.” Kevin sighed at her response as she turned her back end to him.
So long was the voyage they made. Kevin was thinning; he was becoming little more then a stick. Of course his diet consisted of moldy bread and a little bit of rancid water. Lilly found herself giving up her control to the cat in her. She chased mice, and rats and other pests aboard the ship. She also killed and ate them. She paid little mind to
this, it was nourishment, and it was the nourishment she needed to survive. She pitied the poor boy in all his torment, but it wasn’t like there was anything she could do about it. He got sicker by the day. It was strange being able to stay in the feline form indefinitely, she assumed it was because being other people was an illusion, the cat was real. Finally they reached their destination. -- o -Kevin held Lilly in his arms, stroking her fur more to calm himself then anything else. Lilly purred with contentment, the vampires hadn’t treated her very badly at all, the ship suffered under a blight of rats. Lilly could smell his fear as they loaded him naked into the cart. Lilly noticed too Simon in the cart, he looked worse even than Kevin. He stood unhappily leaning against the bars. His bones were all too visible, and his height only made his twiggy appearance more pronounced. Lilly found it sickening to look at him; in fact, she found it sickening to look at either of them. So she didn’t. Lilly was astonished when the castle came into view. This was the area of her former home. Never had there been a castle here. This had been built since the darkness. Lilly couldn’t believe the virulent nature of this pollutant to her homeland. To her territory, Lilly reigned the senses of the cat in quickly. As she was carried through seemingly ancient halls she remained calm. She fought down the anger and indignant hatred that she felt as they traversed the corridor. She was appalled that the boys didn’t find any of this strange. Before them loomed doors that went way up into the sky, Lilly marveled at them. It was obvious to her that only vampires and maybe a team of twenty humans could ever hope to possibly open such doors. It took two vampires to open them.
Lilly looked around, noticing they had taken Simon another way. She tensed causing Kevin to grip her ever more. His wrists were bound with rope that cut into his tender skin. The scent of blood was ever so faint, but still there, the vampires too smelled it and Lilly could sense the desire in them to split his neck open on the spot. She noticed then the rope around his neck too. She pitied the poor defenseless boy as he was poked, prodded and kicked into the room. Venomous hatred surged through Lilly’s system as she set eyes upon the abomination sitting on the throne taunting some poor naked child. Lilly looked around noticing that nearly all the humans in the room were naked. She also quickly and carefully noted the man standing behind Narmer, in the shadow of the throne. She saw little more then his outline, but she knew exactly who it was, she knew from his eyes, and they seemed to peer at her from his corner. This was not strange, she noticed quickly that she had become the center of attention for most everyone. “You let him keep a damn cat!” Narmer screamed at the guards holding the ropes. They yanked on the ropes forcing Kevin to his knees. Lilly hissed at Narmer, but he paid her no mind. Still the eyes of his watcher were upon her, disquieting her in an unnatural way. “Don’t you realize the hope that provides him! Kill it kill it now!” Lilly hissed avidly declaring her hatred for his court. She focused her hatred through her eyes and she stared at Narmer. She growled as the vampires neared ever closer. Kevin shied from them as much as he could but he couldn’t for long, the vampires did, after all, hold the ropes. Narmer’s eyes caught her own, and he stared at her a moment, first registering confusion, and then awed recognition. “YOU!”
“Uh oh…” Kevin remarked. The vampires to the side lunged forward bearing their swords. Lilly leapt out of his arms doing a flip in midair, as she became herself again. Clad in the black leather of the poachers. Gasps were heard throughout the court. The court full of lovely female and male specimens at the peak of their life destroyed by dark blood. Nobody moved. “Miss me?” Lilly asked innocently defiant. Narmer stood from his throne. He placed his hand forward, but this time Lilly could see the field emanating from it. She knew he tried to freeze her in place, she knew he would not succeed as she repelled it. The rest of the court was caught like flies in a web. Lilly laughed jubilantly thrilled at her ability to outsmart him. “Stop this foolishness” the voice pounded in her head. Lilly stopped laughing. “I see you have learned much.” “Learned enough not to be caught by simple spells of yours.” “You are not ready to face him!” “I can face him if I wish, witch” Lilly stated, recognizing the voice, despite it’s only being in her head. She recognized it sounded just like Arthitla, annoying and overbearing. “Don’t be idiotic. They’re closing in on you! He’s sent for troops. Defeat those around you and run!” Lilly looked around herself realizing the truth in those words. She drew the sword from her belt, locked in combat for only a few minutes the heads of the five vampires were soon rolling on the floor.
“Sorry we can’t chat, gotta run, catch you later Ass-hole!” Lilly yelped as she ran from the room. Leaving the court stunned and speechless. Kevin too she left, but what did it matter to her, he was only a boy. She transformed herself to a cat and jumped into the rafters effortlessly. Seconds later a hoard of vampires ran by, she remained unnoticed the secret feline spy. Lilly smiled at a job well done. Chapter 22 Abandoned. Abandoned and left to his fate by the supposed savior. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to, nothing except Simon, and what an oddity that was. Simon was in the dungeon where he should be, searching for Melissa, whether he found her or not was unknown, in truth he himself could be dead. Narmer was angry after Lilly slipped from his grasp again, and Kevin was sentenced to die, die by the Sanguinary. Sanguine was the name they gave to the vampire created acid that turned every single part of the human body to drinkable blood. Kevin wasn’t looking forward to it. He began to wonder how things had changed so much. Lilly was cold and cruel, she cared for nobody but herself, this wasn’t the Lilly he knew. As far as Kevin knew, the mission had failed. The two vampires dragged him along without trouble he was destitute of any form of hope. She relaxed in the rafters contemplating a way out of this cursed castle. Narmer’s security flanked every possible exit. Nothing would leave the building until they found her, not even the tiniest insect. There had to be some way out of the castle, nothing was foolproof. She heard noises with the keen ears of the feline physiology. Vampires coming, she saw them at the end of the hall, they were carting Kevin with them. Lilly
looked around, she knew this hall led to the Sanguinary. She was afflicted with a faint pang of guilt for how she had left him. She knew that this couldn’t be what was intended, the Sanguinary led to death without escape. She couldn’t allow this to happen, she didn’t know why but she knew she couldn’t, and wouldn’t. She began to grow, and the rafters creaked with the added weight. The toting vampires stopped frozen in their tracks. The empty air of the corridor engulfed them within its midst. “Jeff…” the littler of the two said, as he looked up into the shadows. Lilly was still hidden, and she stopped the process for an instant, waiting to see what they would do. Crouching there, half cat, and half human, in the intense anticipation of the coming battle. “I heard it Joe.” The big one said, his muscles flexing as he drew his sword. “There’s something fishy going on here.” “Should I sound the alarm?” “Could be just the aged wood, better not risk it, with a false alarm we could lose our heads.” “Right.” “Best to wait.” Lilly smiled the lip-less smile of the cat’s mouth that still occupied her face. They stood there for several moments before cautiously beginning their journey again. Lilly waited for Jeff to turn his head forward again, to the way in which Joe was facing, Kevin held between them. Kevin seemed lost in his own world, he knew nothing of what went on around him, but he stared at the sword with a desire Lilly knew would come to pass.
Lilly dropped soundlessly from the rafters, continuing the transformation back to herself, yet landing on the soft pads of a cat's feet. Silent, captivating, deadly. She stood, finally, the bipedal nature of a human coming back into effect. Streaks of golden sunshine blossomed on her head. Jeff turned once more, instantly recognizing, instantly fearing the human face so close to his. “Hi.” Lilly breathed. In a single motion she drew her sword, twirling as a dancer would on a single foot. Jeff’s head flew across the hall, and hit Joe in the back. He stared at it in horror, realizing the situation he was in. Lilly smiled at him, Kevin backed to the side, finally noticing she was there. The look of hatred slowly faded from his face. He stared at the lithe body, the lithe human body that had taken the head of his friend. He was a vampire; this sprite couldn’t hurt him. Not only was he a vampire but his muscles were stronger then most there was no doubt in his mind he could defeat her, and sound the alarm. Lilly saw the alarm on the wall, she knew Joe would head for it as soon as he saw her focus waver. Lilly stared at him with catlike ferocity. She watched his eyes as he skillfully drew his sword. She noted Kevin on the floor, his wrists sliding back and forth across the blade of the fallen vampire. He was slowly hacking his way to freedom, and she finally began to realize that he told her the truth. He wasn’t a child anymore; he was a trained and experienced machine. Joe came at her; she sensed in him a confidence that was unwise. She sensed that he underestimated her and she knew she could use this to her advantage. She defended herself against his skillful attack. He was nothing she couldn’t handle. She countered his
attack with her own and they went a few paces backwards. Kevin was forced to dodge the heels of the large vampire. “Is that all you have wench?” “What’s your definition of a wench?” Lilly asked as they continued to go back and forth. It was a formal fight, as if between friends, yet they both knew that neither was their friend. He sensed Lilly was weak, Lilly sensed she was playing with him. “A bitch who don’t know her place.” “A bitch is a dog. Clearly you can tell I’m no dog.” “No but you were a cat!” “That means I couldn’t be a bitch then.” “Shut up!” “Do you fear your own demise?” “From you?” Joe looked down the hall, seeing what his eyes sought he smiled evilly. “Bill! It’s about time!” Lilly spun to face the vampire too far away for her to attack. “Ah!” she screamed as she felt the white spark against her stomach, jumping back in reflex to the pain. Cloth fell to the floor as she spun back around hatred clearly present in her face. She stared hatefully at the loathsome smirk on Joe’s face. “Now that just wasn’t a good idea.” Lilly said as she lopped his head off. The look on his face was one of clear surprise as it sat alone on the floor. She spun to face Bill, who was already nearing an alarm. She looked down as she felt a hand brush against her leg.
Kevin pulled the dagger from her boot and sent it sailing through the air fast and true. The vampire screamed as the dagger was lodged into his hand, and the siren set wailing. “You idiot! What the hell was that for, you just helped him sound the alarm! Now they’ll all be after us!” “Sorry!” Kevin yelped, turning to run the other way. Lilly ran at Bill, pinned to the wall defenseless, the dagger was lodged well, despite Bill’s attempts to dislodge it. “What the hell are you doing!” Kevin yelped. She had to give the boy credit he did know how to throw a dagger. “Sorry bout this Billy boy,” Lilly said as her sword whistled through the static filled air. She pulled the dagger from his hand in one swift motion lodging it back in its sheath hidden in her boot. She turned on her heels and ran after Kevin as he ran the other way. He wouldn’t wait for her, she knew, he was too well trained for that, especially when he had no emotional attachment to his partner. Nevertheless, Lilly found it easy to catch up with him—she found it too a necessity. She knew the vampires better then any other human on the planet. She had lived among them for so long. She knew that they would come at the two intruders from both ends, she knew there would be no escape. She grabbed Kevin’s wrist simultaneously kicking down the nearest door, and dragging him into the frighteningly dark room. Lilly didn’t know what they would find in that darkness, but she slammed the door shut anyway. She heard the sound of breathing in the room and she quickly swirled to place the dagger at the throat of whatever dared breathed the air. Meanwhile Kevin
secured a candle, and as the flame flickered into existence Lilly was faced with a decision she could hardly stomach. Blue-green eyes fluttered open nonchalantly, unaware of the peril their owner was in. A spark lit in those eyes as Lilly watched, pulling away the dagger in as much surprise as horror. Kevin stood dumbfounded and unable to speak. The child smiled, and jumped at Lilly, throwing her arms around a stone figure, burying her face into her cold breasts. Lilly stood chock still, unsure of whether her eyes told her truth or desire. Whether this vixen held a dagger in her own hand to stab Lilly in the heart when she wasn’t looking, but she had already done that hadn’t she? “Lilly! I knew you’d come.” The child said. Lilly heard the tears in the voice she looked down into the wondering eyes of the little girl, just hardly dipping her toes into the ocean of belief that she felt could overtake her at any moment. Could it really be? Could this be the one she had lost so long ago? Could this be the one she was searching for all along? Was it really possible at all? It made sense, the reason she couldn't find her sister is because her sister was in the one castle that Lilly wouldn't go. The wave washed over her as Lilly lifted her into her arms, holding her so close almost enough to constrict her breathing. The tears rolled down her face, the child had invoked the spark of life in her and it almost hurt. Almost. “Rachel! I thought I’d never find you again!” Lilly cried, as she held Rachel in her arms, no longer able to pick her up in her grown form. Lilly cried as she shook back and forth, the two locked into those tears of happiness with an unbreakable bond. Lilly cried for lost time, for the dear memories she had lost, for those she would have had.
“Lilly, you’re hurt,” Rachel said, looking at the gash across Lilly’s side and midriff. “I know I am” Lilly said, feeling the spell of fatigue cross into her mind and head. It's not too bad, it should heal itself in a couple of days. “It's bleeding, come on I’ll help you.” Rachel took Lilly by the wrist and led her to another lamp. From a drawer Rachel pulled a box of matches and set light the wick of the oil lamp sitting on the end table. Lilly marveled at how the room around her was quite suddenly filled with the light from one tiny lamp. Lilly was alarmed when she looked around and noticed that it wasn’t just one lamp. Every lamp in the room had lit, in sequence. Lilly shivered it reminded her of that first night, years ago. Rachel didn't notice, Lilly smiled, it was her sisters turn to help Lilly. Kevin’s face dropped in awe as each wick of every oil lamp in the room, the ones on the walls, the ones in the adjacent bathroom were lit simultaneously one after another the second the flame of the match touched the lamp on the end table. The room was filled with a warmth of light that served as an anesthetic to their disquieted hearts. Lilly felt as if an incipient cloud had formed in her mind, blocking out logical thought process—the process by which Kevin thought her cold and calculating. “Kevin, you should be able to find clothes in that room over there, there’s a dresser.” Lilly turned to look at what Rachel pointed at. She cocked her head at a sight she hadn’t noticed before. What trickery was this? Lilly knew the walls were stone, the floor under her feet was stone, this she knew. Yet as she looked at the wall left of the door she could not confirm it’s solidity. She stared at it, her eyes wide with wonder; it took her a moment or two to realize that Rachel looked at her in the same manner.
Kevin found it so odd looking at them. He heard Rachel tell him to move, to get the clothes he knew that they had to move, and there would not be cover here for long, yet still he was kept still, bewitched by the spell of the two of them together again. Something about the two of them didn’t make sense in his eyes, yet he couldn’t place it. Lilly stared at the wall behind him with the exact same expression that Rachel wore when she stared at Lilly. The same curiously enthralled expression of wonder. “You have the eye. You can see it.” Rachel said as Lilly finally focused on her. Kevin turned around. He saw only another stone wall, like all the others, only with a door-less arch in the center, opening into a room—more appropriately a cell. It was small, yet it looked oddly cozy. There was a fancy rug on the floor, a small dresser, a bed fit just for Rachel, the headboard and footboard had vines cut out of it, and at the top of the headboard there was a rather large emerald. The walls were hung with silks with all kinds of patterns and designs. There was a box of toys in one corner. He knew from the collar she wore that Rachel was a pet. A pet of high status too, the diamonds told him that. He looked back at Rachel with a questioning stare; something was odd about that wall, yet he couldn’t tell what it was. His eyes did not see what Lilly saw so clearly. “It’s an illusion.” Lilly’s voice whispered through the air as she turned and walked toward it. Rachel nodded as Lilly placed her hand against, and through it—much to Kevin’s surprise. In Kevin’s eyes it was a solid wall, and the fact that he saw Lilly’s hand pass through it told him he was clearly mistaken. His eyes were lying to him. “So it is in all the pet cages. It can serve as a wall though, something to do with the device in the collar.” Lilly’s eyes snapped around to see the truth she had not seen before. She had not noticed the choker that surrounded Rachel’s neck before; she had not
been looking. Lilly was surprised as she realized what it was. The collar was studded with thousands of tiny diamonds—centered with one giant diamond-shaped emerald. The emerald was the purest green Lilly had ever seen—yet it reminded her of something. Lilly gasped as she realized what the emerald was. The ownership it translated into was something Lilly couldn't process something she couldn't believe. She looked around the room with new eyes, red and gold, vines, gems, it reminded her of Arthitla's room in the cavern, there was a large ornate fireplace, the four poster bed in his main chamber was hung with red silk. There was a sitting area with a large bookshelf, rugs. Lilly couldn't believe it, the old hatred flowed through Lilly’s veins, focused into a single word that hardly passed through her lips, dripping with malice. “Damon.” Rachel stared at her as she nodded in confirmation. “Come, the bathroom, we'll wash it with cold water. I don't know if I have any bandages. I am lucky to have him for a master, he most often does not bother to pay me any attention, he let’s me be, watches me from time to time. I get my food delivered and I'm mostly left alone, I can even wander the castle sometimes.” Rachel shrugged as she led Lilly into the bathroom against the wall opposite the enchanted one. The look on Lilly’s face was one of astonished horror. Lilly could not believe the things her little sister was saying. How could she have changed so much, and yet so little. So what if her legs and arms were a bit longer, her skin was no less soft, her eyes no less sweet or kind. She was unspoiled, innocent of any wrongdoing and yet she spoke of this, this creature as if he weren’t a bad guy. Her white blond hair hung further down her back, in a braid, yet it was no less light then before, it had not darkened with age. In many ways
she was still the four-year-old child Lilly had once known—almost all save for this finite point. Lilly lunged forward, taking her sisters shoulders into her own grasp as Rachel turned the faucet on, dropping the towel she held from the sudden unexpected jolt. The pain in Lilly’s side spiked for only a moment, and the sensation disfigured her face for only a moment then passed. “He’s not your master! And he’s not a good guy!” Rachel’s face took a sudden turn, one of outrage as she pulled herself from the grasp of her crazed sister. “He never did anything wrong to me, he never hurt me, I never saw him hurt anyone else, all I ever saw him do was sit in his chair staring out the window, or reading a book, he’s very unhappy. Sometimes he watches me with a quiet expression on his face, but he isn't a bad guy to me, I've talked to others, he's one of the nicest masters ever.” “What’s your point? He’s not meant to be happy, he’s a vampire, a dangerous vampire at that! Rachel, do you know how many times I have come up against him? How can he be a good master when he's such a terrible person? He's the worst, has done the most damage! He ruined my life!” Lilly all but screamed. “No…” she said backing away uncertainly as the rushing water continued to pour into the sink. "He never hurt you. You're here." Lilly looked uncertain for a moment before she answered. “He plays with me every time I meet him! He plays then he leaves, he hurts the other people around me!” “He knows you can’t match him in skill” “What’s that got to do with anything, he’s a vampire! Narmer’s first knight, he didn’t get that title for nothing you know, he’s smart, calculating, and sadistic.”
“He’s not sadistic!” “Wake up Rachel!” Lilly yelled, suddenly realizing exactly what she was doing as she stared at her sisters wide eyes full of stubbornness that Lilly knew she herself possessed as well. She stared into her sisters eyes, the realization hitting her—she and her sister had never once before fought with each other. This argument was about a vampire, an evil vampire, a vampire that had stolen even Rachel's heart from her. Tears once again began to take hold in Lilly’s eyes as she sank to sit on the toilet. Faintly noticing the cold of the porcelain. How had evil penetrated this far, it had even sunk into the impermeable relationship she had with little Rachel. How wrong she was to think Rachel hadn’t changed at all, she took another look at that hateful emerald at her jugular. She noticed how the emerald seemed to poison the air, tinting Rachel’s skin the faintest green color with its hateful presence. “Give me the damn towel,” Lilly stated, sinking away from her sister ever more. Rachel moved away from the tub, and grabbed the towel from where it lay against the stone floor. She picked it up and thrust it at her sister. Lilly took it, and placed it against the wound. Rachel stormed out of the bathroom, and back to her own cell. Lilly fought away the tears in her eyes, trying to rebuild the devastated wall around her heart. Her head dropped as she stared at her feet. She didn’t know how long she sat there. “Go! Now! They’re coming!” Lilly looked up instantly at the sound of her own voice. Yet Lilly knew well that she hadn’t spoken a single word. Her eyes zapped to the mirror. In the mirror Lilly stared at herself as both Kevin, and the liberated Rachel climbed up through a vent in the ceiling. How could this be? Lilly stood up instantly
dropping the towel. She spun around to face the mirror image of herself. Lilly stared at the impostor. “Who the hell do you think you are?” Lilly watched the impostor smile at her. “Better run princess, they’re coming for you.” The eyes of the impostor flared at her, and for only an instant Lilly saw the sparkling green eyes. The lights went out. Chapter 23 Rachel and Kevin hurried through the vents. They didn’t really have a clue where they were headed, only that they were headed somewhere. Neither of them knew the castle well. Unbeknownst to them a snake slithered through the steel vents behind them— it was gaining on them quickly. Kevin stopped and spun to the sound of the scraping of scales against metal. What he saw was Lilly. “Lilly! I thought you were going another way out.” “You were tricked, this place can’t be safe, we have to move somewhere else quick.” “Where the hell are we supposed to go?” “I see the dungeon…well actually I smell it more then I see it.” Rachel whispered. Lilly looked to Kevin, “They put Simon down there right?” “Yeah” “Do we actually have to retrieve him?” “Yeah.” “Darn, you did find clothes for him right?”
“Yeah I did, that is assuming he’s still alive.” Lilly looked at the clothes he was holding, a dark suit, she shivered. She hated that vampire more than anything else in that moment and didn't want to be near anything that belonged to him, including Rachel. “Lilly, the grate won’t open” Lilly looked up at her sister, noticing the screwdriver in her hand. “Every time I get the screwdriver near the screw the screwdriver jumps away.” “Where the hell did you find a screwdriver?” Kevin looked up in response. Lilly stared at his big almond eyes, suddenly attentive however empty. “No, how the hell would you carry a screwdriver? The vampires would have discovered it.” “Desperate times call for desperate measures." “Whatever, here let me get past you, Rachel won’t be able to open it with that thing.” “Can I have it back then Raych?” “Yeah sure,” she said, handing it back to him. Meanwhile, Kevin and Lilly maneuvered around in the tiny space so that they switched spots. Rachel moved past the grate, giving Lilly access to it. “It’s charmed, so that the humans down there can’t escape through it.” “Don’t you know a way to get past it?” “I think so, I don’t know if it’ll work though.” Lilly stared at the grille, concentrating on it fiercely as Kevin looked about the vent. Lilly touched the bars of the grille, and quite suddenly an ice spread from where her fingers touched. Rachel gasped at the sight.
“Vent’s shouldn’t be this big…” Kevin said, going off on a tangent as Lilly grabbed the dagger from her boot. Rachel stared at the way there was ice in between the holes of the grid as along the bars of the grid itself. Then Rachel stared at the dagger, it was Damon's she knew that just by the pattern etched into it. “It’s not a vent, it’s a service access tunnel, through this tunnel you can access the pipes above you.” “You mean potentially we could be caught just because some vampires making a repair on one of the pipes?” Rachel asked, staring at her sister worriedly. “Potentially, but we won’t have to worry about it much longer.” Lilly drove the dagger into the frozen grate, smashing the thing to pieces. Shards of dangerous shrapnel flew everywhere, all ducked and covered their heads. “The hell?” they heard a faint voice from below. “What the heck was that?” Kevin yelped as the air calmed. “Sorry bout that, didn’t expect it, that was a stronger spell then I had anticipated Everyone okay?” “Yeah,” Rachel and Kevin answered simultaneously. “Might as well get going then.” She said as she jumped to the stone below. Lilly struggled to regain her balance as she landed in something that certainly wasn’t water. The fetid air of the dungeon was overpowering, and that alone nearly caused her to collapse from disgust. Kevin followed, and instantly went into a coughing fit. “Cover your mouth damnit, you’re going to get more sick here.” They heard more coughing accompany his as Kevin did what he was told. Rachel jumped, and pitched
forward. Quickly Lilly grasped her collar pulling her back up a moment before she fell face first into maggot infested human waste. “This is disgusting!” Kevin said in a voice muffled by the shirt covering his mouth. “No really! How long it take you to figure that one out?” Lilly instantly recognized the annoying pitch of the voice. “Damn, you’re still alive.” “Who the hell is that?” “I found Lilly, and Rachel.” “You found Lilly?” “Yeah, she was on the ship with us too ya know.” “No, all you had was a cat!” “I was the cat.” Lilly said. “Can we trust Rachel?” Lilly’s eyes flared with anger at the suggestion of the impudent annoying male. Thankfully the moon was rising, the light illuminated his face quite suddenly, reflecting off all the pools of god knows what else. The dagger was at his throat in an instant. “You can trust her about as much as you can trust me, of course, I may kill you just for the hell of it you annoying prick. Now shut the hell up and get dressed.” She said, pulling back as Kevin handed him the clothes. She turned on Kevin, "You knew she was here?" "Yeah. We found out only a short while ago, of course at the time none of us were crazy enough to come here, and we knew she belonged to Damon, none of us could go up
against him, Firebird got all moody everytime we suggested it, something about not being able to see." Lilly fumed angrily. She had the distinct impression that Arthitla had known all along where her sister was, even in her cave behind the waterfall. “Lilly look out!” Kevin said. Lilly jumped back, seeing the giant spider there. She recoiled, and found she had jumped back into a human body. She turned to look at the human as Kevin kicked the spider away quickly. Lilly gasped and covered her mouth at the sight of the lump of flesh she had bumped into. Maggots flowed from the hole she had made with her foot. Lilly could see them milling about in his mouth, she noticed his toes were eaten away along with a part of the foot. The human groaned. “Ah!” Lilly yelped as her gag reflexes were triggered. She could not stop herself from retching there and then. “See, she’s not invincible.” Simon stated, staring at her. She looked up at him hatefully from her position bent over. The smirk on his face mocked Lilly to an extreme she didn’t like. Her fist sailed through the air and Simon stumbled back a couple paces as it hit his jaw. “Ow!” he screamed. “Shut-up asshole.” “Lilly?” Lilly turned to look at Rachel. Unexpectedly Rachel threw her arms around her. “I don’t like it here can we leave?” Lilly held Rachel close to her, attempting to comfort her while she herself was completely out of sorts. This was worse then what Clint had described.
“It’s alright…” “Did you find out what happened to Melissa?” Kevin asked, trying to keep himself from throwing up. “Yes and no, I discovered she’s alive, and somewhere in this castle, but even if we were to find her she wouldn’t be the girl we knew.” In an instant it clicked in Lilly’s head. She knew the things done to people. She turned looking to the one window in the large dungeon. She turned her hand to it. The bars of the window blew away quite suddenly, surprising everyone near her into stunned silence. Rachel moved toward Kevin, realizing she was afraid of her sister. Lilly turned to Kevin, well aware of Rachel’s feelings toward her. She fought the tears in her eyes with the sense of purpose. She had to save Melissa, she wasn’t sure exactly how, she didn’t know the damage that could be done to her in three months, but she knew she had to rescue her, whatever her situation be. Though she knew if she was one of the empty eyed slaves there was absolutely nothing she could do. “Kevin, you take Rachel and get out of here, I know how close we are to the club, I can see the glow of the shield faintly in the distance, run there, I know you’ll make it. You have tricks up your sleeves to shield yourselves from sight, do whatever it takes, get away from here.” “What are you gunna do?” “Yes, pray tell, what do you expect you’ll do.” Lilly turned to the skeptical Simon. “I expect that you and I will search out our friend and save her.” “There’s a billion vampires out there looking for you!”
“Your point being?” “We’ll die before we find out even where she is!” “We’ll see,” she turned back to Kevin. “Go now.” “He’s right, you won’t be able to escape.” Lilly stared at him for a moment, she knew what she was doing was futile. She faintly felt the pang of guilt at the look of terror in Rachel’s eyes. Rachel herself was silent, clinging to Kevin’s arm. “I too have some tricks up my sleeve.” Lilly fibbed. “If you’re going on a suicide mission would you please leave me out of it?” Simon entered. “You’re helping me whether you like it or not, there’s even less chance of success if I go myself.” “Less? There’s no chance!” “Bull, there’s always a way.” “You’re crazy!” Simon said, looking like he was ready to pull all his hair out. “Go you two, get out of here.” “Bye Lilly,” Kevin stated as he led Rachel towards the small window, hardly big enough to let anyone through. Lilly walked over to them, helping Kevin up, and then Rachel. They were gone, Lilly knew they would be safe. “Now what the hell do you plan on doing?” Simon asked, crossing his arms as he looked at her. Lilly pointed to the lock on the door. The click echoed throughout the chamber. Lilly brushed past him. “Come on, let’s go.” “Go where?”
“To find her silly!” “You’re nuts! Bonkers!” “Too bad, you’re coming anyway.” She said as she kicked him out the door. “Hold my hand.” “Why.” “Just do something for a change, without asking why, before you get us both killed.” She felt the squeeze of his hand just as a vampire came down the hall. Simon’s eyes flared with fear. Lilly froze and gripped his sweaty hand ever more tightly. The vampire ran down the hall at them and then past them. Lilly smiled as he left hearing range. Simon stared at her. “What the hell just happened?” “He didn’t see us.” “Obviously.” “We’re invisible you idiot.” “Impossible.” “It will be if we come up against Narmer, so let’s get moving, he’s bound to come when he hears the dungeon has been broken into. “You’re nuts!” “So you’ve said.” Lilly looked at him reprovingly. “Come on I have an idea of where she’d be," Lilly said, "At least I hope." she added under her breath. Slowly they crept down the halls so as not to alert one of the lesser vampires with the sound of their feet and breathing. Lilly continued to feel disgusting wetness against her palm. Not to mention the dizziness that had begun passing through her head. It wasn’t
anything severe, but Lilly knew the dangers. They heard the sounds of the place before they actually saw anything. Simon jumped at the first scream they heard, Lilly gripped at his hand tightly, cementing her grasp by digging her fingernails into his hand. “Ow! What the hell was that sound.” Lilly turned her head to stare at him. “Don’t you recognize it?” “What are you talking about?” “Oh I forgot you’re too much of a naive goody two-shoes to know anything about the real world.” “What?” The door slammed in reply, and out stepped a vampire, adjusting and zipping his pants. Simon’s eyes grew to nearly ten times their original size. “Where are we.” “I’d like to welcome you to Narmer’s Harem.” Lilly stated as soon as the other vampire went away. “Why the hell would we be….” It dawned on him the exact reason she brought him here. “Melissa…” “Welcome to the real world genius.” “No, Melissa wouldn’t submit to this…” Lilly saw the opening, as the door began to close behind the vampire, Lilly dragged Simon in after her. They saw her there, draped across several pillows like a discarded rag doll. “My god…” Her eyes were partly open, but not all the way, but both observers could see the violet of the iris. “Her eyes aren’t supposed to be purple!” “No, it’s an effect of the drug they give her.” “They keep her constantly drugged?”
“Yeah.” Lilly said ruefully. “That can’t be good for her.” “No it can’t. If we take her away the moment the drug wears off she’ll undergo seizures, and severe withdrawl, and it’s likely she could very well die.” “You’re saying she might as well be dead because we can’t save her anyway?” “Basically.” “Then what the hell did we risk our lives for?” Simon asked, pulling away. Thankfully the room was empty of any vampire at the moment. They were all out searching for Lilly. Simon looked around, noticing the twelve other girls strewn about haphazardly. Some on chaise lounges, some on pillows on the floor, or others on the couch that went around the majority of the room. There was one even on the ottoman in the center of the room. “There’s always the chance she’ll survive, and I’m sure that Dustin would prefer we take that chance rather then have her live her life out here as a sex slave.” “Where’d you get Dustin from.” “Do you take me for some random idiot? Dustin’s my cousin you dolt, I know he’s always had a crush on her.” “Not anymore.” “Bullshit.” “Dustin loves one thing, and that’s to see a vampire die.” “Bull…..” Clouds invaded Lilly’s pristine mind. She sank to the floor, falling, she knew what it was, how untimely it came.
“Lilly!” Simon stared at her kneeling on the floor with horror though he moved to do nothing. The tiredness began to invade Lilly’s muscles a cancer that would not recede until she gave into it and let herself collapse. She couldn’t let herself collapse. There was too much to do yet. She heard the shuffling of feet, heard the faint gasp that belonged to Simon. “Lilly…” the sound zapped Lilly’s attention back to the now. Clearing the fog away like rays of sunshine. She looked up just as Melissa fell down beside her. No, it was impossible, Druggies had no control over their muscles, the drug prevented it. She knew their mind was present though their muscles were not theirs to control. This couldn’t be happening, Lilly was imagining it. Yet there she was, her face level with her own, Lilly was staring into those drug-induced violet eyes. Melissa hit the padded floor with a soft thud. Her eyes stared out into the space Lilly occupied. Lilly leaned down to her, though she herself was ready to collapse in the same manner. “Don’t give up Lilly, there’s more in you then you realize.” She whispered in a voice that was even less then a whisper. A voice comprised solely of air, lacking any spirit or fire whatsoever. Lilly hugged Melissa to her and struggled to stand up. “What the hell are you doing?” “I won’t leave her behind,” “How do you expect to get out of here carrying her? How do you expect to carry her at all? You’re both nuts.” “I can’t…use…my magic.” Lilly huffed. “No really…that’s slightly obvious.”
“We have to find…another…way out.” “Go figure, back to the vents then?” Lilly nodded, unable to exert herself more by using her voice. Oh what Lilly wouldn’t give to lie on the curtained bed over there in the corner. The soft down bedding looked so comfortable. Instead both she and her companion were hefted somehow into the vents above. Simon restored the grate… apparently he too carried a screwdriver. The cold metal against her skin awakened her to her senses somewhat, yet not completely. She lifted her head in defiance, she would not let this taxing experience take her, not at the moment they needed her most. She knew exactly where to go, although she knew the chances of them surviving the experience were less then one in a million she knew it was the way least expected, and the only way they would ever make it out of the castle. It was the only possible way they would get out of the castle alive, and however small that possibility was, it was a possibility. Chapter 24 “Lilly she’s fading fast, where the hell are we going anyway?” “Why do you have to ask?” “Because I need to know.” “Leave me alone!” Lilly said. She was lost it was true. Her senses were failing her. She couldn’t turn into a cat because she didn’t have the strength left, she couldn’t really do much of anything. She knew what she was looking for, but she couldn't remember where it was, she wanted to sleep, she needed sleep. “We’ve been going in circles!”
“I know!” “What the hell are you doing.” “Look I don’t remember where it is.” “Would you tell me what the hell you were looking for?” Lilly sighed with frustration. “I’m looking for the stone wall, one of the vents butts up to it, but I can’t focus.” “Well that does us a lot of good. You know we’re on a time frame here.” “Melissa launched herself off a couch toward where we were, and she spoke to us. Which of course isn’t possible or right, so she must have some strength left.” “Yeah but ya know, strength won’t last very long. It’s a fleeting thing.” “There!” Lilly pointed to the end of a row, she could see the stone. She was filled with the elation of satisfaction though she knew it most likely wouldn’t be possible to get through the wall with her powers exhausted. “How do you expect to get us through stone?” “I…I don’t know, I didn’t think of that yet.” “Wonderful savior you are.” “Oh shut up.” “And what’s beyond the stone anyway.” “The heart of the castle.” A wave of silence washed over Lilly—it was a tsunami of stunned doubt that stood in Simon’s face. Lilly was thankful for the silence, and she bathed in it for a moment—it was good while it lasted. “It leads to what!”
“The heart of the castle.” Lilly repeated sighing as they reached the stone wall. She sat back on her haunches, and leaned her head over to place against the stone, she didn’t have a clue what she was doing. “The heart of the castle, you realize that the acid present in that chamber would eat us alive before we even hit the blood…” “So they won’t expect us to go there.” “No really? We’d be crazy to go there! There’s no possible way we can get through that chamber alive.” “I’m immune to it.” “Sure but you know that doesn’t help me or Melissa at all.” “I can make it neutral with my powers.” “Oh really, you…You’re half ready to keel over and die!” “It’s a slim chance I know! But it’s the only chance we’ve got!” “How are we going to get out of there? How are we supposed to get in there in the first place? Do you even know?” “I had planned on blasting one of these stones through, but I don’t…” she was slipping, and Simon knew it. She was such a lazy bum, a couple of spells and she was conked out. He knew Firebird could stand much more then that. What a weak savior she was. He watched her head suddenly jerk up, and he backed up into Melissa’s body, noticing that too jerked. He looked down at Melissa. “Lilly…there’s something wrong with Melissa.” “Lilly looked down at Melissa’s body. Even she could see the white glare of the film over Melissa’s violet eyes—it occurred to her it had been the light Melissa’s eyes
were emitting that had led them to the stone wall. Another muscle jerked sending a pounding like thunder through the vent. “Shit!” “What’s happening to her?” “The drug, it’s exhausted itself, she needs a doctor! Antibiotics! Anything!” “I have tic-tacs, but I don’t think that’ll help at all.” “What? Where the hell did you get those?” “On some recent scavenge, before we left on the crusade for Melissa. There aren’t many left.” “Give them too me.” He passed her the container and she shook it. She estimated there were maybe two left. She held them in her hands and tried to imbue them with some kind of healing property, but she didn't really know what she was doing. She put the two in Melissa’s mouth, jerking her hand back as Melissa’s jaw snapped closed as her body went into violent convulsions. Noise filled the vent, a storm raged, if the vampires hadn’t noticed it already they would soon. “Do something!” Simon said, looking around nervously.Lilly looked at Melissa, stared at her old friend, as she was reduced to seizures and foaming at the mouth. Quite suddenly her body lurched, liquid spilled all over the area around her. Lilly touched the liquid and brought it to her nose. She knew what it was before it even neared her nostrils. Melissa was throwing up blood. In a last minute gesture to save her friend she grabbed her shoulders, tried to calm her mind. She had no idea if it would work, Ariel had never spoken of a calming power.
Yet still she tried anyway, and before she knew what her work had done she collapsed into darkness, falling on top of her old friend. -- o -Simon sat there alone in the darkness, just waiting for some vampire to come through and find them. He knew he should probably wake Lilly, but whatever she was doing it was keeping Melissa calm. Either that or Melissa was already dead. Yet every now and then he put his hand up to her mouth, feeling the thickness of the blood oozing from her mouth. He almost thought Lilly was dead too, but then every now and then he could hear her breathing. Something was clicking, was it a watch? Or was it a vampire coming ever closer? Simon sat up, he decided it would be a good idea to wake Lilly now. He assumed about half an hour had passed. Lilly felt jolted suddenly by the shaking of her arms. Out of reflex she slapped whatever it was disturbing her sleep. “Ow!” Lilly lifted the heavy eyelids laboriously. When she sat up she found herself extremely dizzy. She put a hand to her head. “You woke me before I was recharged” Lilly stated softly, unable to speak any louder then a whisper. She did not notice Melissa’s motionless body beneath her. She did notice the discomfort of sitting on her legs, and the wetness staining her clothes. Blood, Melissa's blood. “You mean you’re a battery now? Anyway, I had to, I don’t think we have much more time to wait for you and your damn powers to recharge.” “We can’t get out of here without them!”
“Well then, it doesn’t look like we’re going to make it.” “Melissa!” Lilly said, suddenly remembering what it was that had caused her to pass out. Immediately she scooted from Melissa’s legs, laying on her side beside her so that she could see the state of the eyes. The only thing she could see was that the white film was gone, that’s why she couldn’t see Simon. “Come on Melissa…wake up…” Lilly felt around for her hand in the complete darkness. She found the hand, gripping just as she felt a sudden spasm of the nerves. Melissa flipped over propping herself up on sweaty hands. She felt another hand against her own for an instant before she tore it away. She feared they were coming for her again. She had to escape, before they had their way with her. Her lungs heaved with the spasms of her coughs. She wasn’t going anywhere. She felt the warmth of thick liquid in her throat, she could taste the blood. Her thoughts were muted, she was dizzy. Her arms collapsed underneath her, Lilly and Simon sitting in darkness, waiting, listening for the instant they would be caught by the vampires. There was a paradox in Lilly’s mind. She knew these were the final moments, the drug would either kill her or leave her nearly dead, yet Melissa had moved, Lilly had felt the ferocity with which Melissa had snatched her hand away. “Hurry up Melissa we’re kinda in a rush.” Simon stated, blindly staring into empty space as he listened to her coughing. Melissa’s head lifted up in an instant at attention though she couldn’t see anything… Couldn’t see anything? What was going on? The darkness surrounded her, caused her insides to turn out. She felt it pulling her inflammed throat from her body. Why was her throat sore?
“Who’s there?” Melissa asked in a rasping voice, raw for reasons she didn’t know. A boom sounded in the darkness as Lilly pressed herself against the wall of the vent in amazement and surprise., but she didn’t see it. Melissa went into another fit of coughing. “Where am I?” she asked as she spat up some more blood. She touched her fingers to the overly dark spot, on her dress, she felt the thickness of it. Realizing quite abruptly that she was moving of her own volition. Nobody was touching her. She attempted to scream, finding out she couldn’t. “Melissa, you can’t scream…they’ll find us.” Lilly pleaded, knowing instantly what she would do. “I can’t scream, my throat it’s…sore…I can’t…” Melissa commenced to coughing again, finding it hard to speak at all. She was so tired. “No wonder…you’ve been spitting up blood for the past half hour now…” Simon stated cynically. Melissa didn’t know whether they were friends or not, though the voices were faintly recognized in her mind. She didn’t know whether they were good or bad— but they weren’t touching her. She embraced the darkness in her mind, putting faith in the unseen voices she heard. “Shut up…I hear something.” All ears perked to Lilly’s revelation. There was a swishing movement of fabric against metal. Lilly’s muscles tightened, not knowing exactly what she would do if they were to encounter a vampire. “Lilly?” “Rachel??” Lilly wondered aloud, instantly recognizing the voice, however changed it was—there was still the sweet chime to it.
“Dustin sent me back to find you…He’s waiting for you. Firebird said you would head for the heart of the problem. Dustin didn’t understand what she said but…” BOOM! A single stone blew from the wall, shedding a faint and eerie light on Lilly’s determinedly haggard face. Melissa stared at the face, looking around at the eerie light that illuminated the faces around her. Simon, Rachel, Lilly, these were friends. How they had saved her from purgatory she didn’t know, but she was thankful anyway. “Where’s that light coming from?” Rachel asked curiously. Lilly stared at it, an unidentifiable shimmer to her eyes. “I don’t know but it’s not supposed to be there.” Lilly noticed something else odd about the heart. She placed her hand through the hole, feeling the static merge around her wrist. “There’s a shield here.” “For what? Everyone who gets in there is dead!” “I don’t know.” “You don’t seem to know a lot.” “Shut-up,” Melissa rasped, slapping Simon. “Hey for once that didn’t hurt.” “It has no power behind it you idiot, imagine what it’ll be like when she’s feeling better.” Lilly stated looking at him as she simultaneously wondered how she ever thought they were supposed to get through there, she certainly couldn’t carry each and every one of them through it. Put your hand in the blood, by sending a pulse of fire through it you can set a reaction that will neutralize the acid for a short time. You don’t have the power to do it
for good at this time…Lilly heard the voice in her head. It wasn’t her voice though, and it caused her great discomfort to not be the only one in her head. Who are you and why are you in my head? Well I’m certainly not there in person now am I? You again! I’m trying to save your life, hurry, I think they know, there is much commotion. Lilly nodded as the others stared at her in confusion at the way she sat there with such a blank look on her face. She placed her legs through the field, and slid down to land on her feet in the thick blood that went up to her waist. She submerged the tips of her fingers in the blood, cringing with disgust. She let the power flow through and out of her and she felt it neutralize the vicious prickling against her leg. Still a tingling remained, as if her legs had fallen asleep, but it was only on the surface of her skin. She looked up at the hole in the wall. “Melissa, help Rachel down.” Melissa obeyed and soon Lilly had Rachel in her arms, she was slightly heavier then Lilly remembered, but she supported her nonetheless. Rachel put her arms around her sisters neck, submissive to the special treatment Lilly gave her because they were sisters. She smelled the perfume of Lilly, and it brought her back to those faint, dreamlike memories of a time when there was light in the sky. “Come on down, and hurry, this acid won’t be neutral for very long.” Lilly shouted. Both Simon and Melissa hesitated. “I’ll be damned if you think I’m going down there…” Simon stated defiantly. “Oh yes you are.” Melissa forced huskily. She pushed Simon down through the hole and he screamed as he fell in the acidic blood. He coughed and sputtered as he pulled himself to his feet, Lilly stared at him, knowing that later she would have to
neutralize the acid in his mouth for good. Melissa jumped next, neither caused much splash in the blood, the blood just folded back in on itself. Lilly turned her attention to the greenish yellow light on the surface of the blood. “Disgusting…” Melissa said, looking towards the edges, where bones poured from another pipe. Lilly nodded absently, not seriously paying attention. She did locate their exit in another pipe that she knew led outside. Gotcha, we’ll move to a location to pick you guys up. Firebird noted in her head. Get out of my head! Lilly responded, frustrated with the witch. “Why is there light here?” Melissa asked, finally noticing it herself. “How is there light here…I thought you said this was the heart of the castle.” “The pipe to the outside slides down, so that the blood cascades into the fountain below the pipe. The light couldn’t come from there.” “That’s nice but that doesn’t tell us where…” “What about that?” Rachel said, pointing to the ceiling. All eyes were directed upwards. A tornado of silence whirled through chamber. “My god…” Simon whispered in a tone unlike him. Seen on the ceiling was something they all understood, and yet something too disheartening to consider as a possibility. It explained logically the shield around the chamber and yet no one wanted to believe what they were seeing. Only Rachel seemed oblivious to the billions of tiny balls of light swirling around the ceiling. “They’re…they’re…” Melissa started, unable to finish her sentence—whether from amazement, or from the ache in her throat, it was not known. Either way Lilly finished the sentence for her.
“Human Souls.” It was a frightening prospect Lilly’s tone portrayed. The vampires were powerful enough to seal the souls in a purgatory unlike anything else ever seen or heard of in any gospel text or other. The shield must have given shape and light to the formerly invisible objects. “How?” Melissa asked, suddenly launching herself into a fit of coughing. “That’s what the shield is for, it’s to seal them inside, even when the wall is breached the shield is not broken.” “Can’t you break it Lilly?” Rachel asked looking up into her sister’s incredulous face. Lilly shook her head slowly from side to side, finally gazing steadily and woefully into Rachel’s caribbean eyes. “I don’t know how, nor do I have the power now that breaking this seal would require, we need to get going, the charm I cast neutralizing the acid in this blood, it won’t last much longer. We need to get out and somehow get this stuff off of you before it goes acidic again, eating you both away.” “Why would the vampires seal the souls here?” Melissa querried, overcoming the fit of coughing at last. In the midst of this Simon had remained unexpectedly silent, he spoke now, in a tone unnatural to him “It’s almost as if the vampires are trying to hide the existence of something more, or keep them from going someplace better.” He trailed off into oblivion. Lilly and Melissa stared at him, however intelligent Simon was—never had he actually said anything as intelligent as that. “Listen…there’s a noise up there…” he said, his face becoming extremely baffled.
There was a humming that the souls emitted, as if they were a choir of fallen angels. They sang in a single harmonic voice, a single minor pitch Lilly didn’t know. Perhaps Clint would know if he were there, but then again one had to wonder if it actually mattered. Lilly felt it, the souls were trying to say something, or were saying something only they couldn’t understand them. Lilly felt something in the depths of her heart, or maybe even in her own soul. She felt a desolate disregard of any and all hope. A lamenting that filled everything around it. Lilly felt almost as if she would collapse with grief. She looked sadly down at her sister, finding her sister staring as if in a trance-like state, something was odd about that Lilly’s mind determined, and yet nothing came of it, her heart and soul were on another page. “We need to get going.” Simon said seriously trudging towards the exit pipe. “We don’t know if Dustin will be there.” Lilly said, turning around, slowed by the thickness of the blood. “Well personally I’d rather die out there then I would in here.” “Better to die than be captured.” Melissa rasped. “You should have more faith, we can’t die, if we died, then Narmer would be unbeatable.” He smiled as he let go of the edge of the pipe, letting himself slide down without them. Lilly placed Rachel on the edge of the pipe. “You be careful,” “When are you coming?” “I’ll be last down. I’m immune.” Rachel nodded as she too let go. Melissa was next. Lilly paused before she did the same. She looked back at the souls.
“I promise, you won’t be forgotten.” Lilly stated as she let go, sliding down into the abysmal unknown. She paused for a moment listening to their humming and then she felt it deep inside her, echoing through the pipe. "We know." Chapter 25 Lilly’s muscles tightened, unsure of what awaited her outside the pipe, knowing it most likely would result in death. She could feel that slight tingling increasing, feeling it seep into the wound in her side, feeling the ineffable truth of the time they had before it would kill the others. She could not be responsible for their deaths. She clenched her arms closer to her side, and pursed her legs together, making herself much more aerodynamic. She felt her speed building at an incredible rate, almost missing her cue to grab the wrist of Melissa who stared at her as she did so. Melissa stared at Lilly, with fear alight in her eyes. She too feared the death that waited them both inside and outside the pipe. So many ways for them to die, was there even a possibility that they might live? Or had Lilly estimated wrongly, they would die. “Grab Rachel’s ankles!” Lilly yelled to her. Melissa had a few split seconds in which to do so. Her hands slipped. “Rachel!” Lilly yelped looking back. Rachel looked terribly frightened, like a little bunny rabbit, Lilly knew the few milliseconds they had before they would be spat into the air, she felt it swirling around her, felt the way her belly was exposed to it. “Rachel put your hands close to your side, Play stick!” Lilly yelled, lifting her head just slightly, letting go of Melissa’s one hand and grabbing on to
her ankles. Lilly spread her arms and Melissa’s legs so that they would reduce some of the speed built up. It wasn’t enough. “I’ve got her!” Melissa rasped, suddenly coughing as the air burst all around them. Where was Simon? Lilly’s eyes squeezed closed in fear she could not deny. Fear was bad, fear was weakening, but Lilly couldn’t resist it. “It stings!” Rachel yelled as they flew through the air, unguided by anything. Lilly knew it stung, and she cringed, unable to contemplate the death they would experience through her fault. She passed out for only a moment, her body’s reaction to an anticipation she couldn’t stand. Moments later her awareness was restored and she was able to look around herself again. She landed on something soft, her memories and vision hazy. There was something going on around her, commotion. She didn’t understand, she saw faces she knew and yet she didn’t know them, she was distanced on another plane. Yet in the background she saw something that glowed positively red. She didn’t understand and she wouldn’t, yet still she wondered why it stood there unmoving, unresponsive to the peril they were in. She felt cold steel against her skin, someone propped her up on her feet after tickling the bottoms with something in a quick motion. She felt air against her own bare skin, yet she hadn’t removed her clothes had she? She honestly couldn’t remember. She blinked absently as the soft cloth carressed her all over. A sizzling sound interrupted her every thought, then there was a scream. She turned to face Simon, shoving her hand into his mouth, much to his dismay. He began to
gag as she touched that thick sizzling liquid on his tongue, neutralizing it so that it wouldn’t kill him. “Throw down the towels!” someone yelled. Lilly looked down to see the towels fading away into nothingness. Simon was coughing in the background, ever since she had pulled her hand from his mouth. Her vision cleared as she saw that though the towels burned up they did not become more of the acid blood. “Why don’t they turn to blood?” a voice she knew asked at her ears. “It was once biological material, but it’s not from an animal, it’s from a plant, it’ll burn, but it didn’t ever have any blood so it can’t turn to blood.” Lilly stated staring at it cockeyed, not bothering to look up. As she stared at the smooth metal of the floor. “Someone give them clothes please!” someone else yelled. The one nearest Lilly turned away, handing her a new pair of the same clothes she had been wearing before. “Where did you get these?” “Probably the same place you did, one of the poachers.” Lilly nodded as she slipped into them gratefully. Apparently they had cut her clothes off her with a pair of scissors. They had done the same to all of them. She turned finally to face her aid and her eyes widened with something akin to happiness. “Nate!” she yelped throwing her arms around him happily. “In the flesh.” He said reciprocating her hug. Lilly pulled away staring at him again. “I thought you weren’t going to come.”
“I wasn’t, but my girlfriend canceled on me the last minute so…I’m glad I did go too. Good thing I was on leave too.” Nate was a senior when Lilly was a freshman, they had made friends, and after high-school Nate had joined the military. “I'm glad too.” Lilly said smiling. Neither of them would admit that if he hadn’t decided to go to the party he would probably be dead. If he hadn't been on leave, he would be dead. Lilly spun away, her eyes tearing, to look around at the other weary travelers. “If you’ll excuse me I have to go pilot before we all crash. We're working with a shaky co-pilot right now.” Lilly nodded in response staring around. Melissa looked up at the mention of Dustin’s name. They were all people she knew, standing beside the tousled travelers of the pipe. Lilly deduced they had all been mobbed by the towels as soon as they fell through the door in the top of whatever they were in. She looked around at that too. It was a plane, they were flying a plane. Lilly didn’t understand how they could have created, found, or salvaged this vehicle, but it seemed to fly without problems so she didn't care, what she cared about was to find the vixen who dared invade her mind. “You live.” Lilly turned around slowly taking in the measure of the woman who stood several inches taller than Lilly herself. Lilly deduced she was about five foot eight. Her curly hair of mahogany red went down to the middle of her back. She wore the same leather pants, but her top was incredibly racy for the environment they were in. The top she wore was red—a preordained unsafe color to wear in the dark environment. There were long flared sleeves, she noticed the jeweled rings on her fingers, the fact that the top clearly showed her midriff. Her belly ring showed, hanging against her perfectly tanned
belly was the teardrop shape of a ruby red gem. Her belly button was also flanked by a pair of black tattoos in symbols that Lilly had never seen before. Her eyes were a green that frightened anyone who looked into them, sparkling with a citrine gleam. It was akin to the gleam in the eyes of a vampire, yet vampires did not have tanned skin. The exhaustion hit her immediately, Lilly couldn’t stand the overexertion she suffered under. Melissa watched her go down, her muscles unable to react to the sudden occurrence as she watched her friend’s legs fold up underneath her. Just as her muscles could not follow the action of Lilly—her eyes could not follow the reaction of the redhaired witch that stood near-by. All Melissa knew was that Lilly never hit the floor, the witch caught her. Lilly stared up into the neon green eyes of the witch who caught her as she fell. How did she move that quickly? This red-haired vixen couldn’t be just a witch there was something else about her. It dawned on Lilly, a realization, she could not grasp. Yet still it filled her with a foreboding reverence of the girl who spoke to her softly in a husky, yet comforting manner, a voice that pierced into the darkness of her own mind. Not now, you can’t black out now while the people need you most princess. Lilly felt a sudden energy charge through her nerves. She felt a warmth emanating from the arms of the tanned witch. Lilly opened her eyes to find the witch staring at her with her disquieting eyes. Instantly Lilly pushed her away, the witch fell on her back as the others stared at her as she stumbled to her feet. “What the hell are you!” “I am the one they call Firebird, known as Phoenix to others, other names to others.”
“That’s a pretty name,” Rachel stated as she helped the witch to her feet. “Wasn’t that the name of a city in Arizona?” Kevin interjected. “It’s a bird of mythology, Kevin,” Simon began, “It was consumed by fire and said to rise from it’s own ashes.” Firebird nodded in response. “I didn’t ask for your name.” Lilly stated poisonously, "I know your name witch." “Simon stated it beautifully. I am a… the Phoenix since I never did have any children. I rise from my ashes, where do you think that myth came from.” “Bullshit, I’m not going to fall for that crap, the Phoenix was a bird” “You want to know the truth?” “If you don’t tell me I’ll slit your throat.” “I’ve lived for countless years, back past the time that myth was created, the people changed, many things were forgotten, things that should not have been. The myth was changed with the passing of time.” “Bull!” Lilly said, grabbing the dagger from the floor. She lunged towards the girl who stood hapless to her own circumstances. Lilly felt the grip on her wrist as she glared back into Tina’s eyes. “Don’t Lilly, you don’t know all the good she’s done for us.” Lilly stared back at her with malice. "What the hell are we in anyway?" She asked turning away. "We modified a plane so that it would fly lower to the ground. It..." They were all launched against the wall without warning. The sparse lights that lit the small cabin that contained them flickered and burst.
“What the hell hit us!” Kevin screamed. Lilly regained a hold on herself to look into the citrus eyes of Firebird, the person she had landed against, and she stepped back immediately in revulsion. “I’ll go find out!” Lilly yelped, wanting to be away from the woman. The turbulence re-manifested itself, making it hard for Lilly to find her way to the cockpit of the machine they were in. Still somehow she made it. She threw the door open to see a gigantic window dominated by the increasingly large view of a vampire—and two heads from her past, Nate on the left, and Dustin on the right. Dustin turned his head for only an instant before Nate launched the plane to the left to avoid the oncoming vampire. “No time to talk Lilly, we have to fly this thing.” “Are we in the clear yet? How many more are there??” Nate yelled at Dustin, keeping his eyes forward. Lilly’s face took on a look of morbid apprehension. The pilots didn’t notice. “I think we're in the clear but no guarantee's with these things.” Dustin said, checking various controls and screens. “Far from it.” Lilly whispered fearfully. Dustin spun in his chair, taken aback by the beauty in the pallid face of his cousin. He knew this was not something to be marveled at, something was deathly wrong. "Well what is it?" Dustin asked. He could see the way Lilly gasped as if she were a fish out of water. Lilly could hardly part her lips for the arid climate inside her mouth. She could hardly swallow with the fear she held. “We’re being followed.” Dustin stared at her, trying to respect her judgment despite the negative readings on his scanners.
“It’s not showing up on any of the screens, Lilly, what makes you say we’re being followed?” She gave him a distant look with vacant blue eyes the color of the ocean, a dark deep blue full of a foreboding that disquieted him from someplace within. He tried to keep his breathing regulated and under his control. “I can feel him.” “If Dustin says it doesn’t show up on our scanners then it’s not there. I taught him everything myself.” Lilly turned her attention to the pilot whose eyes never strayed from the window in front of him lest they hit something in the split second in which that something became visible in the darkness. He had learned his job well. “He’s too smart for that you idiot!” Lilly yelled at him. Dustin looked at her with anger. “Nate look out!” Dustin yelped. Nate did a split second swerve to avoid the tree in front of him as simultaneously a blip appeared on one of the scanners. Yet just as soon as it appeared did it disappear once again. “Tell me that was a technical error please…” Nate groaned. Dustin looked at the scanners, then back at Lilly’s face as she stared out the window once again completely vacant. She looked as if she were ready to collapse from fear. He turned back to Nate who had returned his eyes to the window. “In any other case, I’d have to say that it was an error, but not this time, I think I’m gunna have to trust Lilly.” “He’s poisoning my mind!” Lilly screamed suddenly placing her hands against her ears, stumbling backwards into the waiting arms of Firebird herself. Lilly spun on her heels, the look on her face tell-tale of viewing a ghost.
“Dustin get her out of here! She’s distracting me!” “I’ll take her.” Firebird stated. “No, don’t you come near me, stay away stay away.” “Nate…something’s wrong.” Dustin stated. Lilly’s face zapped to the panels, her hair disheveled, the fear pulsing through her veins, nothing about this made sense, it wasn’t right. Yet as she looked at the controls, knowing that they were not acting as they were supposed to she knew what he had done. “The controls, they’re not, they’re not controlling!” Firebird moved to run back to the cabin Lilly could hear as she screamed the instruction for everyone to grab hold of something. It was too late, and yet it was right on time. They could see the shield in the mirror, and yet somehow Lilly knew he couldn’t penetrate the shield, it kept all vampires out, or in depending on the circumstances. Yet he didn’t need to penetrate the shield, he had done all the damage he needed to. Both Dustin and Nate were unbuckling their seat belts, but Lilly could see neither of them had a chance of getting away in time. She looked up suddenly to see that she had been dragged from them, she was clear of the cockpit, the cockpit which would soon be crushed on the roof of the club. Lilly watched the sparks flying from the controls, the boys desperately trying to escape their impending doom. She yanked her arms from the grip of the witch, screaming at Dustin and Nate as she leaped to her feet. As the concrete became ever so clear in the view of the window. You could see the cracks, you could see the grains of cement. There was a heart wrenching sound of metal being crushed as if it were paper, and Lilly grasped at the hands of the boys, pulling them with all her might, trying to get them away from the destruction.
Lilly succeeded in pulling them back. The plane skidded against the roof running into a block. Lilly was launched from the window. Luckily Nate had managed to level the plane when they came in for a landing, the damage to the building was minimal, while the damage to the plane was beyond repair. Lilly felt the terrible impact on her head, she felt terrible pain in her leg, and she felt the air rushing past her as she was launched from her position. She heard the commotion, yet it was distant, her vision was blury as she lifted her heavy head from the cement it had hit. She tried to move, to stand feeling the electric reaction of pain in her nerves as it wrenched a scream from her throat. She was too far for them to hear, yet looking around she knew she was still on the roof. Something wasn’t right, something was dreadfully wrong. She could feel the thick liquid slowly making a path down her forehead. She turned to see the bone that had ripped its way through the skin of her leg—and she saw the boot. Slowly her eyes traveled up his legs, his muscular—yet slight body. His broad shoulders, his face…his eyes. His searing green eyes. She felt his cold hand beneath her chin, he was lifting her, forcing her to stand. She winced with terrible pain that she dared not voice. The pinkish cast of light that the shield sent around everything lit his features clearly. Lilly could not ever remember seeing his face so clearly—how handsome he was. His dark hair falling around his face in a manner that only a perfect gentleman could pull off successfully. Yet he did—his green eyes setting off the effect. Yet he was cold, he was colder then ice, and Lilly cringed from him even as he leaned closer to her.
Leaned ever closer until his lips touched hers. Lilly’s eyes closed, she was tired, she was going to faint it couldn’t be helped, and yet, from this cold and calculating deadly thing she felt a warmth unlike any other. He kissed her and the world spun around her. She was falling, falling to the ground, her head once again impacting against the pavement, the deadly opponent no longer there, and slowly, with the kiss still warm on her lips she heard the muted sounds of others, someone had found her, but they were far away there was no evidence he had been there. Yet Lilly could feel it. She felt herself flipped, her eyes pried open as they examined the pupils. She stared at the stars in the sky far, far above, as she slid into absolute unconscious. Chapter 26 Lilly awoke on a mattress sitting on the floor. Her dreams took flight like startled doves. Lilly grasped at them trying to catch them as they flew away from her. No! They were too important. Something in them she couldn’t forget! “No!” She screamed. Her breathing was heavy though her dreams hadn’t startled her at all. It was their importance she craved. She knew them, something in them was something she wasn’t supposed to forget. Something that had been locked away from her —gone her dreams had fled to oblivion. Lilly looked up into the blue-green eyes that were staring at her, highlighted by a sliver of a window somewhere far away. Lilly stared at them a moment, her eyes getting used to the darkness again, seeing the outline of a small lithe figure sitting cross-legged on the end of the mattress. The little one’s head tilted sideways, staring at Lilly with curious peering eyes. Lilly stared at her for a moment, something about her wasn’t right.
She remembered, Rachel wasn’t only her sister anymore, she was a potential enemy. Lilly knew she’d have to destroy Damon eventually no matter how difficult or impossible—her thoughts trailed off. Lilly was confused, she couldn’t make sense of anything anymore. She moved towards her sister not expecting her to quite suddenly leap off the mattress and scurry away. Lilly sat there on her knees her head down, her waves of hair falling about her face. She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders trying to warm herself in this cold despicable world. Diamonds welled in her eyes, she heard a noise and looked up seeing first only the bright green. The tears stopped as Lilly suddenly realized something she should have seen long before. Her eyes, they told everything, and yet they told nothing. Same intensity, same but different. “You’re his sister.” Lilly stated despondently. Not sure she even cared anymore. Firebird cupped her hands around the candle she held in her hands. The flame burst up, red first, and then reverting to it’s normal color. Lilly looked at it for a moment, then looked back up at the witch. “You are his sister.” She could see the shadows playing across Firebird’s countenance. The contour’s of her face, the shape of her eyes, they were all the same. “Yes.” Firebird stated softly in the husky voice she commanded. She sat down beside Lilly and Lilly jerked away, Firebird grabbed her wrist forcefully, so similar. Lilly stared into her eyes she felt something else. Flash of a rainy night a long time ago. Lilly looked up staring into her eyes, she was warmed nestled against the breasts of the witch. Lilly stared at the witch, not understanding the memory, Firebird stared back at her with those piercing eyes that unsettled Lilly so much. She let go of her wrist. There was a
cloud in Lilly’s mind that this witch provoked more, and it frustrated Lilly that she couldn’t get through it. “I brought you here.” “Who the hell are you?” “I told you.” “You told me nothing. You’re not everything you pretend to be.” Lilly looked up at the doorway, distracted by sudden movement. His face was stern, his hair short, yet for a split second she saw something else. Shoulder-length black hair tied in a ponytail behind his head, the same big brown eyes and a suit of armor. In a flash she realized that this stern face neither had long hair, nor was he wearing a suit of armor. Lilly shook her head violently, then she placed her head between her knees. Lilly couldn’t handle all this. “You stole my dagger and you left me here to die!” He yelled angrily. Lilly did nothing but sit there curled up, staring off into oblivion. Her mind was full of half remembered pictures of an incomplete puzzle. When she looked at someone she didn’t know if what she saw was real or if it was only a shadow from an unreal past, or just an illusion meant to drive her insane. “Sir Hedrick, it would do you well to forgive her.” Clint turned to Firebird, staring at her and her seductive body clothed indecently in this dark place. It seemed to him she feared nothing, and she should fear, she should fear him. “It would do you well to shut up! God you’re almost worse than that cat Ariel.” Lilly couldn’t stand the pressure on her shoulders, too many people were depending on her. She jumped up from her spot and ran to the side. She caught herself before hitting the bars of the balcony she found herself on. There had been no door, it was a shadow.
She looked down at the floor of the club, seeing the familiar faces of people she had once known well some she didn't know at all, all milling about, feeding themselves disgusting smelling fluids from bowls some just playing with the slop, downcast faces, depression, unhappiness. Flash of green grass, people with familiar faces smiling and dancing in the slightly cold weather, people laughing, merry music, bare feet. Faces too familiar. Lilly dancing, Clint twirling her around. Face of Eire, face of a man dressed in a white robe, a little girl laughing as Lilly twirled her, their dresses swirling. Lilly fell into her memories. The light was bright and the mist surrounded them. The foreigner she had found had gone to her mother and father, they were consulting. Her parents faces were downcast when they left their hut. He stared at her dancing, Clint was dancing with her and he watched her. She was happy, innocent, but he made her feel weak. Lilly screamed as she fell to the floor, her back scratched by the cast iron bars. A couple of people looked up despondently but most just continued staring at their food. Clint was gripped by a feeling of protectiveness, and he stared at her with horror, at the strange emotions his former friend showed. The fragility of her condition unnerved him. Lilly looked up at the calm unaffected witch. Those eyes those terribly green eyes, just like his. They had been celebrating a wedding, he walked toward her when the music stopped, Simon picked up the fiddle to play another song, he bowed low at her and then she was in his arms. He was warm, strong, and handsome, he was enchanting. She watched him during the feast, she would be elligible for marriage soon, but there wasn't
anyone in her village that caught her eye. She was somewhat removed from the people, being who she was. It was so lonely. The people took their leave one by one into the night they sank into dreams, but not Lilly. She woke and watched him staring at the moon on a hill. She crept up to join him. The moon shone in the diamonds of dew sparkling on the dark grass. His warm arms around Lilly, sinking to the grass, lost in love and passion. She screamed again and fell against the cold cement floor, tears wetted her pale face. Clint’s sternness dropped replaced by worry as he moved to go forward and help her. Firebird stopped him, and this angered him. “Stop it!” Lilly screamed as she lie against the cement, curled up, lost in these hateful memories, memories she’d rather not have. Flash of clouded skies, vampires chasing her and her strong lover as they rode on a horse as white as falling snow, her horse. Needles of rain slicing into her soft flesh, her father chased the vampires. Baldev chased her father his sword at the ready, in moments her father was unhorsed, he was lying dead against the once emerald grass now stained ruby red with his blood. His eyes staring emptily at Lilly from the ground. Lilly’s screams filling the air both then and now. It was her father, he was dead, their peace was shattered. Flash of Lilly falling against the ground, her lover too far ahead attempting to turn around and come back for her. Baldev lunging towards her, The white angora cat lunging for her jugular. She saw her own blood spilling across the grass. So many screams, so much horror and terror. She screamed.
“Stop them!” Lilly screamed squeezing her eyes shut, her body affected by terrible pains from the past, as Firebird watched on calmly—holding a vampiric Clint desperate to squirm out of her arms and run to his friend. Yet she held him tightly not only with the muscles in her arms, but also with the power in her blood. How else would you hold a vampire captive? Rachel watched from behind a column. She watched Lilly, and she watched Firebird and Clint. She stared at the calmness in Firebird even as she watched her sister convulse with pain and screams. There had to be a reason Firebird held Clint away. Flash of lightning, Narmer there, Baldev dropping behind, bodies on the bloody grass, some of them framed by the red of their blood, some of them drained of it. Eire standing in a last attempt of defiance as Baldev used a dagger to spill the blood from her neck all across the green grass that was once hers. Her lover leaning over her body, the vampires after him. Lilly could not feel her own soul, it had gone somewhere, been called by someone. He picked up her lifeless body staring back at the vampires with intense hatred as he ran towards a nearby cave. In side he turned to the vampires they stared at him, wanting his blood. Flash of white light. “Make them stop!!!” Lilly screamed, tears pouring down her cringing cheeks, her body trembling with the painful memories. Others on the floor were beginning to take notice of these events going on above them, satisfied by the image of Firebird holding Clint back, and continuing to ignore the situation as best they could, cringing each time another of her piercing screams echoed throughout the club. Rachel watched Clint as he cursed at the witch, struggling to escape
her inescapable grasp. The witch did not see Rachel, Rachel fought her instincts to run to her sister now. Flash of her lover leaning over her lifeless body lying on a table, tears streaming down his face. Sounds of war outside the empty indian palace. It was growing closer, he would not leave her body. Lilly felt his pain and she screamed. Flash of him sitting by a fire in the hearth of his fireplace, her body lay strewn on a large canopy bed hung with shimmering red sheer drapes. Bedspread of red with golden vines. He stared despondently into the fire as the vampires showed up behind him. Lilly screamed, Rachel twitched. Clint yelled at the witch screaming at her to let go, even attempting to twist himself around and bite her. The others kept quiet, some stared up watching, wanting to move, but not daring to. They were all afraid of Firebird, the witch. Lilly’s screaming continued. Flash of Narmer’s teeth in Damon’s flesh as he sat by the fire. His cringing face slowly fading into his oncoming death—but it wasn’t death. Flash of Narmer giving Damon the blood from his wrist. Flash of herself as a baby on the doorsteps of a church. Needles of rain tearing apart her heart from the inside out. Firebird singing as she left the baby Lilly on the doorsteps of the church, in the freezing, searing rain. Firebird was running. Running from them. The intensity of Lilly’s screams were so high that there were people downstairs cringing, heads against some of the tables, holding their ears. Rachel couldn’t take this madness anymore, she was watching her sister fall apart. Watching her attempts to claw into the cement, and into her own head. Clint was trying harder then ever to escape Firebird but she stood as a stone, immovable, and untouched by Lilly’s pain.
Rachel ran to Lilly, grabbing her wrists away from her head, seeing the blood at her temples from the wounds her sister had inflicted upon herself, she threw them down against the cement and Lilly let her as if she were as easily posed as a doll on a shelf. Rachel cradled Lilly’s head in her lap as Firebird and Clint both stared in astonishment at the young girl who held her sister to her chest, trying to comfort her even though she was so young. Firebird did not expect this, and frankly she couldn’t see Rachel’s importance in the story, that in itself was strange. “Lilly, I’m here” Rachel whispered to her sister. Lilly moved her eyes so that she could stare up into her sisters. She was immobile as the last track of memories wracked her trembling body. She saw in her sisters eyes things she wanted to forget, things she had tried to forget. Clint as himself, on a playground all of them, her and her friends, playing with Rachel in the sunshine with golden and red leaves strewn across the wood chips. Sitting at a lunch table, laughing with her popular friends, Max by her side, everyone smiling. Being held in the arms of David as they trekked through the forest. Sitting by the fountain in the mall as he slipped the ring on her finger, looking into his eyes. Realizing that he loved her more then she had ever known when she thought he had been only a human. David was Damon, he had infiltrated the mall through her. Her body twitched in her sister’s grasp and Rachel rocked her back and forth, her own tears mingling with the dried salt on Lilly’s face. Flash of Alison’s finger on the ground, Flash of Damon’s eyes as he slammed her against that tree, knowing he had tried to strengthen her for later trials, as she felt her heart bursting inside of her. Her body wracked by a seizure that no one could control
though Rachel tried. Flash of Alison’s indifferent face hating her. Flash of Mike in that slave hut. Flash of Narmer’s evil eyes, Flash of the decapitated Andy behind the dumpster. Mr. Thompson’s smiling face, she could feel the souls of the dead swirling around her. She saw herself in those years she had killed the memories of even her recent past. She saw Clint holding her and comforting her, despite the one who’s head pressed against her own in the present. She saw the terrible things she had done in those years she had forgotten even that small part of her identity she had known since Arthitla had brought her here. Yes that was her name. Arthitla, Firebird’s ancient name, her first name, as Damayan, the king, her king, her lover, Damon, David’s. Before all the terrible events that led to the death of the family who kept the magic in all worlds intact. Yet she had not died, it was Firebird who had commanded the cat from far away, in her own country, over an alter, the room full of flames surrounding her and the dead child on the alter. The dead child, her child, her stillborn, dug from beneath the ground, before Damayan had brought her dead sixteen year old body of the time to this place. She had called the soul and Lilly’s potent blood away from her body, away from a higher power to inhabit that empty place in the body of the dead child. She saw the body of the dead child ringed in flames as Firebird convulsed and chanted in her witch-like ways, dressed in that same red and gold sari, the hem on fire, the fire spreading out of control. She saw the dead child begin to cry, she saw the dead child infused with life, her life. She saw the dead tanned skin become alive and pale, saw the ringlets of gold spread over the bald head. Saw her lips become more full, and more red as the baby screamed at this hot environment. She saw the eyes instead of the black
turn to that cursed sapphire blue. A black hole appeared as Firebird caused the flames to disappear into clouds of smoke as the fires died. She had done it, transferred Lilly’s soul from this dangerous place so that magic could live on. Lilly's soul had transformed the dead child into what she was now, what she was then, what she was always meant to be. She watched Firebird wrap her infant body in a lacy white blanket, watching as Firebird gathered her up and disappeared with her into that black hole. Lilly saw nothing. Her vision cleared and she saw the ceiling, then she saw her sister. She smiled faintly at Rachel lifting one of her hands up to touch the side of her face. She looked to the other side to see Clint. Firebird had finally released him. She sat up and found herself staring into Firebird’s eyes. Lilly couldn’t feel herself, she couldn’t feel her body, but all her senses were awake, and her throat was sore. These things she knew, however distant they might be. She knew that dried tears lined her face. Yet she couldn’t find her voice, or a coherent thought in her own head. She heard the iron of the spiral staircase pounding, knowing that it was Nate, Dustin, and Melissa who ran up the steps to find her. She looked at her leg, knowing that Clint had healed it with the blood of the vampire he was. It was too perfect and too quickly healed to be otherwise. She knew these things but they didn’t matter. Lilly could not stay here, Lilly didn’t know whether she could even live anymore or not. She knew everything, and she wished she didn’t. She wanted to go back to her normal life knowing that it would never be. She never was and never would be normal, normality was only an illusion, a fleeting one because this world wasn't real, was never meant to be, and she was the only one who could supposedly fix it, or that's what everyone else hung their belief's on. She sat up and turned to Clint.
“I’m sorry I did this to you Clint.” She whispered. Firebird stared at her suspiciously, but Lilly paid her no regard. She turned to Rachel and put her hand’s to the rosy cheeks of her sister, softened by her tears and her age. She knew that those on the steps were getting close, she knew if they reached the top she would not be able to do what she meant to. She felt Firebird’s staring at her reading her body language but she wouldn’t let her know what she was doing. The block in her mind was firm, and Lilly now knew how to control it. She knew now all the powers that ran through her veins, and to what extent they went. She would destroy Narmer, would bring her lover back. She smiled into her sisters face and her sister smiled back sweetly, happy her sister was alive. Lilly stood up and the others watched her as they sat on the floor. They didn’t have a clue what Lilly meant to do. Lilly looked into the eyes of Firebird as they widened in realization. The other’s reached the top of the steps, but it was too late, Lilly had already done it. She launched her body over the rail, and now as others stared from above, yelling at her though she couldn’t and wouldn’t hear them. She knew that they blocked Firebird from doing anything about what Lilly had done. She hit the floor with a jolt that sent several small chips of concrete flying. There were people running after her, trying to catch her, but she was gone in a flash. “Lilly!” Rachel cried unhappily. Lilly ran through the front door, out through the shield, her bare feet pounding against the tar of the street. Her arms were grabbed by two people as she tried to run to him, tried to run to Damon, she knew he was in trouble, but she couldn’t get to him, her mind was so confused with the sudden eruption of truth that she was dazed and couldn’t really get a handle on her entire environment. She looked to
the sides of herself realizing that it was Jordan and Alison who were dragging her unwillingly back to the shield. “No! Damayan!” She screamed. A shadow fell from the sky. His strong hands pushed both Alison and Jordan away from her. Lilly fell to the ground, her eyes were lost, lost to her mind, her dazed state confusing her to the point where she couldn’t see the assailant. Alison and Jordan both fell back through the Shield landing against the stone wall on their butts, staring dumbfounded at the assailant who smiled smugly back at them. “Damayan!” Lilly screamed, not realizing where or when she was. Too quickly and easily were her wrists and feet bound together by rope. Duct tape placed over her mouth, quieting her screams. Lilly’s senses returned and she looked about herself, yelped as something was ripped from one of her fingers. “Don’t worry you’ll never see him again Lil’” He smiled, as he jabbed a needle into her leg, not before Lilly had seen his face though. He made sure of that. Familiar body lifting her away, off the pavement, and into the air. Max the betrayer was taking her to his master. Chapter 27 Lilly drifted in her mind lifting a heavy head of golden waves, opening her eyes only to find that it made no difference whether she had them open or closed. She was swimming in a pool of molasses, to get a single thought to pass through was like keeping her head above that moving churning mass of sticky syrup. She felt it trying to pull her back under as she struggled to regain consciousness.
Her leg throbbed and she couldn’t remember why. She couldn’t remember what had happened, what she had done. Running, all she could remember was the desire to run —she was right back where she had started from. Where had she started from anyhow? Was there a start? Was there a middle? Was there an end? She felt the urgent desire to pull her thoughts together at the same time feeling the impossibility of it. Her muscles were physically tiring from the effort merely to think straight. What the hell happened to her? She was chasing butterflies through fog in the middle of the night, random fleeting memories of random things from all across time showed in her mind only for brief seconds. Like a brief bout of fresh air as she got her head above the water for only a few seconds before it dragged her back under—and he watched her. He sat, just a few feet off, watching her, watching spasms course through her as she tried to regain control of her senses through the drugs. He stared at the perfect curves of her perfectly pale body, but it wasn’t pale like the pale of his skin or any other vampire for that matter, her skin was alive with the blood that pulsed through it. The chains she hung from rang with each spasm and he fairly liked it. He knew she wasn’t fully awake yet, his orders were to wait until she was completely and fully conscious of her surroundings to tell Narmer. He knew too that if he touched her Narmer would destroy him just as easily as Baldev had made him—easier. Yet as he stared at her body, through the semi-sheer of the dress she wore he became more and more aroused by her. Lilly was his after-all, that hadn’t changed. Yet Lilly had never let him have her really, and he wanted her now not later after Narmer had killed her, but now.
The way she hung from the ceiling only further developed his desires. The chains were suspended from the ceiling, wrapped and fastened around her wrists binding them together so that she hung, as if she were meat on a hook. She was meat. He could sense the warmth of the blood flowing through her veins and arteries, but there was more to it. There was something else in her blood, some ancient powers that had always been there. Her ankles were bound together with rope and her dainty unmarred feet hung just barely touching the floor. He looked up seeing her eyes staring blankly at him. She couldn’t see him, the drugs still blurred her vision, she didn’t even know he was there. Yet that electric blue they had become gave him a start, and the way her pupils were so large, not only from the darkness with the effort to see, but from the drugs too. He grabbed a small flashlight from his belt, using it only as an excuse to get closer to her. He knew she was nowhere near ready to confront Narmer. He lifted her chin up roughly, seeing with his vampire eyes that her pupils were fully dilated. He saw also the fullness of the capillaries infusing her lips with that delicious blood. Lips he had kissed so many times before. He replaced the flashlight in the holster. He could not refuse this call, he forced a kiss upon her as he had done so many times before, but this time he was more exploratory. After-all, she wasn’t going anywhere, there was nothing she could do to stop his roaming hands. A spasm ran through her body, placing a kick at his knees. “Bitch!” He yelped stumbling backwards ever so slightly. He immediately advanced forward slapping her so that the blood infused her cheek so intensely. He had slapped her too hard, forgetting his vampire strength, and he watched as the chains
twisted around themselves. It took a couple of moments for her, and the chains to calm, and at that moment he heard a mumbled, forced whisper. He hadn’t been paying attention to her thoughts, and he was suddenly zapped back to his senses. “Betrayer.” Was that single mumbled word. He smiled ever so slightly. She was only a toy, a human, something to be manipulated, and eaten when you were through playing with it. Her words had no power over him, still the fact she had spoken unnerved him. The drug wasn’t near wearing off yet, and he had overestimated the dosage besides. He was lucky he hadn’t killed her the way he had jabbed the needle into her leg. He grabbed the flashlight from his belt again with renewed purpose this time. He lifted a few locks of the wavy golden hair that he found soft to the touch, and he forced her eyes open more then the slits that were there already. He could see her pupils were dilated, but that could be as easily from the dark as it could be from the drugs. He shined the light into her eyes. He felt the muscles of her eye trying to force her eyelids down again, shielding them from the sudden light, but he wouldn’t let them. He noticed the pupil decrease in size to an amount that a human never would have caught, still it wasn’t right. Ever so slowly he realized that her eyes were beginning to focus on him despite the dilated pupils. He stared into her beautiful eyes ever so curiously—the pupil shrank suddenly. Her eyes narrowed despite Max’s effort to hold them open. She spat at him suddenly and he jumped back in complete and total surprise. “Bastard!” she stated, slightly huskily, he assumed from the blood taste he had caught in her mouth when he kissed her that she had been screaming a lot. Her throat was
sore and he knew that, he could clearly catch that pain in her head. He also caught a groggy head-ache but it wasn’t something that was impairing her thoughts anymore. Max didn’t know how she was awake, but he knew she was, it wasn’t like that wasn’t clear. She was completely coherent despite the massive amount of drugs in her system, which puzzled him and caused him to curse. “The hell!” He yelped frustrated with his own thoughts. “Fate is not kind to betrayers Max, in the end you will get what you deserve.” She stated poisonously. He could smell the drugs on her breath, he could see that slight illumination of the blue in her eyes causing them to seem vibrant with electricity, yet she was talking to him, cursing him. “You’re a freak Lilly, you always were! I mean for gods sakes you hung out with those stupid orchestra dorks, especially that one…” “Don’t you dare bring Clint into this, he knew you all along, I can’t believe I didn’t listen to him. I can’t believe I was caught in your trap of lies.” “You betrayed me too!” “Oh yes it’s out in the open now isn’t it, you can see it in my head…vampire.” She emphasized the last word, making it seem all the more of a crime. “Hey at least I never cheated on you.” “Oh Bull Max, I know you had that fling with Emily…of course yours was much worse, you actually had sex with her didn’t you? That was why she was always after you.” He smiled evilly as he advanced on her again. “You can’t prove anything.” His face was now inches from hers and she could see through that superficial scowl on his face—see the truth in his eyes. It didn’t surprise her
or hurt her, she had known he was a snake all along, she just never bothered to admit it to herself. “I don’t have to!” She gathered all the strength she could from her aching muscles, powering her legs forward to kick him on purpose this time. “Ah!” He yelped, “damnit!” He stumbled backwards, falling to his knees as Lilly swung satisfactorily back and forth, making an effort to stop herself all the while smirking in his direction. She tried to use her powers to set him aflame but found she couldn't, the drugs had impaired her ability to focus in that way. “I had a horse like you once.” Lilly looked up instantly at this new voice as a chorus of whimpers alone came from Max’s mouth. Her eyes narrowed instantly as she saw the red eyes of her enemy. “Yes she had your spirit, and although it took me a long time and diligence, she was broken. Just as you will be.” He stated as he casually stepped over Max’s body. Lilly said nothing as she hung there, seething with an irrevocable anger that originated centuries ago when he had destroyed her life the first time. The scent of her heated blood filled the cell with sweet perfume that enticed the vampire. “It looks as though we have you in a slight predicament sweet princess.” He said lifting her chin so that she looked at him. She snapped at him trying to get his fingers, but he was too quick. He laughed at her. His hand unexpectedly lashed forward, grabbing her by the neck, encapsulating it with his entire hand. Lilly swallowed and registered the pain and difficulty breathing as he felt the blood pulse through the artery in her neck. Her mouth gaped open as she made faint wheezing sounds. He had stopped laughing.
“I made you an offer once a long time ago, and I’m sorry princess but that offer has left the table now. You get no mercy, and you no longer have that ring to protect you either. You are mine.” She stared into his fiery eyes knowing the truth in what he said. Knowing she wouldn’t acquiesce to his control. Knowing that what he intended to do was no longer to have her, his intent was murder. He smiled at her seeing the redness of her throat. “The witch has shown you your history too late. She miscalculated and this is it princess, this is the end of your line, the end of your rule, the end of the magic that you possess. I wanted this, wanted this disjointed world. All the power of the past, meets all the technology of Earth's future.” He leaned forward forcing his body against hers—his lips to her lips—his tongue into her mouth with still one hand around her throat, and the other behind her head, tangled in her golden locks of hair. She felt revulsion at his closeness and knew there was nothing she could do about it, knowing she was nearing her end with no one who could save her. No Clint, no Ariel, no Firebird, no Rachel, no Nate, Dustin, or Melissa, and no Damayan. This was her finale, she heard the fierce thunder sound in the sky. “You!” She yelped, struggling as she stared into his yellow eyes. She struggled against the chains only now discovering their existence. She looked up seeing her wrists chained in a manner she knew she couldn’t get away from. The hatred infused her blood with warmth as if the powers in it weren’t enough, and the scent of her blood permeated the smallest corners of the stone room. All three of the vampires were unmistakably aroused by it. Lilly was sickened, she didn’t know what she was seeing in her mind, and what was real and what was not. Nothing was clear but those who stood before her. She locked away the pain, with the fog, and the memories she would be forced to sort later.
She placed ten feet of concrete between her current thoughts and those she wanted away from her at the moment, just so she could focus in the slightest bit. She couldn’t fall into the drug haze, she couldn’t let herself, what she needed to see was what was going on now, and currently things didn’t look too good for her. She knew she wasn’t escaping the chains. Baldev smiled at the princess as she stared at him, stared at him even as Narmer’s hand at her neck forced it to lean to the side. Forced her to bare to him that precious artery pulsing with fragrant life. His nearness made her want to gag, realizing she didn’t have the strength or the air made it all the worse. She felt the hand formerly meshed amongst her wild and rampant waves of hair slowly travel down her spine to rest at the small of her back. Narmer leaned in closer to his prize, knowing this time there was nothing that would stop him. He realeased the pressure his hand had bestowed on her neck and decided if he couldn’t have her forever he most certainly would enjoy taking her life from her. He leaned in close to her neck, his mouth inches from her ears as he whispered to her. “Tonight it ends,” teeth punctured soft moldable flesh that was pale as the Irish moon. He tasted the first flood of a unique twist on the elixir he had tasted so many times. So much sweeter then any blood he had ever tasted, and the spice of those powers she possessed only added to it. He delved into this new ecstasy as he felt and heard her wince with pain. He could hear her heartbeat oh so clearly, and it pumped against his chest as if it wanted to run away at that very moment. He felt her shudder and his hand that had
formerly been at her neck now slid to the middle of her back. His other hand slid lower, and from that tastily firm bit of flesh he pulled her closer to him. The chain above snapped with the strength Narmer used to pull her to him. She was a doll in his arms. Her eyes had slid back into her head, Narmer tasted now more then before the drugs in her blood. Her arms still attached at the wrists happened to fall beyond his head to rest on his shoulders and he smiled a bloodstained smile at that particular event. The beat of her heart was becoming slower and slower, he felt it fading away. Her head fell against his shoulder. As she passed out altogether, she wasn’t dead yet though. Narmer could hear her heart persistently refusing to give up her life to him. He pulled her closer still, crushing her breasts against him yes this was nature’s perfection, and he was here to destroy it. He would be the one to crush nature's perfection into dust. The power was intoxicating. He smiled and hesitantly removed his mouth from her neck. Nothing pumped from the puncture wounds there. Her heart had stopped. Lillian, after all his chasing, and trouble, was dead. He removed her arms from around his neck, marveling at the dead weight in his arms he placed her softly against the cold stone floor. She was dead, yet her powers lived on…in him.
Chapter 28 Clint paced the room as a wild tiger in a cage much too small for his magnificence. Jordan and Alison sat watching him from the table nearby. Bowls of the kitchen slop lay before them. Still the slop was much better than what either of them were
used to. Jordan looked on his friend with pity while Alison’s eyes showed her cold nature and her keen interest. Nothing would divert Alison’s attention. Upstairs, Melissa sat trying to comfort Rachel. While Dustin assaulted Firebird with questions as to what had just happened. Firebird leaned casually against the rail, completely ignoring Dustin. He made up his own answers to the questions he asked besides. Not that they were necessarily right answers, but she didn’t have the burning desire to correct him. Instead, she watched Clint pacing. What a mad man he was. She wondered how the boy had ever managed to protect Lilly in the least bit. He was the moodiest person she had ever met. Considering she had been alive for centuries that wasn’t a small thing. Her eyes took on a look of distance as she stood up straight, listening to a sound she couldn’t quite place so well. She no longer looked at Clint, and no longer heard the sounds of Dustin’s nagging. “What is it?” Dustin asked, she didn’t hear him. She was lost in her thoughts and wasn’t paying attention. Someone was here, a presence she knew all too well. She turned around and walked past Dustin who still waited for her answer. She walked past him and towards the stairwell. Melissa sent Dustin a questioning look as he shrugged. Alison’s eyes moved and focused on a new source, one who stood behind Clint. An instant flame lit in her eye. Clint caught it, even in his distracted state. Even Jordan stared at this new arrival that had appeared out of thin air. His eyes only showed horror. The new arrival himself held his face somber and stared at the knight in a curious manner as he waited for his sister to find him. He looked up and caught her eye, she knew instantly he was in dire need of her help, just as well as she knew something was wrong.
“What!” Clint yelped as he spun around to face his nemesis quite unexpectedly. Damon refocused on the knight as he jumped back in surprise. His eyes revealed nothing to the knight except curiosity. Clint’s showed only pure bloodshot rage. Clint drew his sword and Damon did the same out of reflex. Damon’s eyes turned to Alison. Alison had jumped onto the table and looked ready to pounce on him at any moment, as if she were an animal. He noticed the others gathering around him as well. He saw the hatred in the eyes of each and every one of them. There was no doubt in his head that they would try to kill him. He wasn’t here to hurt any of them, least of all Lilly’s friends. He saw the glare from the dark-haired girl above who held Rachel who had once been his pet. He looked fondly on Rachel for only a moment. This lit a spark in the eyes of the boy who stood beside the other woman. He saw the bright edge of the sword as it slashed at him, managing to be inches from his face. Damon turned his attention to the knight, he knew from the boy’s eyes that he wouldn’t be getting out of this place without a fight. He moved behind the knight trying to end this as quickly as possible. Before Clint could react he had lost the arm which held his sword. “Ahhh!” He yelled. “Damayan!” Firebird yelled at him as she tried to weave her way through the crowd. Never had she had such problems with mortals as she did now. Damon didn’t have time to stop, Alison leapt off the table, quite ready to yank his eyes from his skull. He caught her by the wrist mid-leap and twisted her aside. There wasn’t a person in the building that didn’t hear the loud crack that echoed against the concrete floor.
Alison fell against the circle of people that gathered around him. She screamed at the acute pain from her broken arm. Jordan knocked his chair down as he got up to rush to her. “Stop this now!” Firebird yelled. The room hushed as she finally broke through the crowd. Her citrine eyes were aflame with rage though no one knew exactly who it was aimed at. There were several gasps in the crowd, they came from those who could see the two facing each other best. There wasn’t a single one of them who couldn’t see the resemblance in the two of them. Who would have supposed that the forerunner of the rebellion and the worst of all the vampires were in some way related? Firebird stared at her brother as she barked out orders to the rest, “Melissa! Get down here and take care of Alison, Jordan you can help her.” Clint stared at the both of them with eyes that pulsed with hatred. They were both evil, and both of them deserved to be damned to hell. “The rest of you go about your business and prepare yourselves, a war is coming.” Damon nodded at her “A war! A WAR! Goddamn the both of you to hell! We’re safe here god-damn-it, Lilly’s shield protects us from the vampires. You! How the hell did you get through it anyway?!” Clint yelled. “Clint, reattach your arm you look like a worm writhing on the floor there.” “You witch! It’s all your fault! I told them never to trust you!” “She’s dead.” Damon said, looking down at Clint with a solemnity that betrayed the bright green of his eyes. "And knight, I could always get through the shield," Clint grabbed his arm and held it to the bloody stump at his shoulder. Ligaments found ligaments, nerves found nerves, sometimes it wasn’t so bad being a vampire after-all, in a
matter of seconds Clint had the ability to use his arm again. He scrambled to his feet, finding them alone now in the center of the building, where everyone could easily watch their conversation from above, away from the two vampires. “What the hell is wrong with you people!” He screamed at the pair as they stood staring at each other. “Who the hell is dead!” “You well know, knight.” Damon stated not bothering to look at him. “No, I won’t believe it, and certainly not from you.” “Clint the shield will fade soon if I don’t leave now.” Firebird stated, “It’ll fade anyway, and Lilly won’t restore it, it’ll be too late, Narmer will be on us as soon as the shields down, he know’s Damayan is here, and he knows I am here, and he knows that you too are here Clint.” Firebird said, finally bothering to look his way. “I thought you said Lilly was dead! What the hell are you talking about?!” “She has unfinished business.” Damon stated. “What the hell! So what she’s a ghost?” “She’s in limbo.” Damon answered. “Limbo….Limbo, great oh that’s just wonderful…where the hell is limbo!?” “You were once there yourself Clint, it was Lilly who brought you through, if she hadn’t you would have faded, you had already forgotten everything but your name. There are ways to save those in Limbo, it is the Kingdom of air.” “I thought Lilly was the most powerful magic thingie though.” Damon raised an eyebrow at the young knight noticing he wasn’t very keen on words. “She was, and it was a much simpler thing for her to bring you through then it will be for me to bring her back.”
“You’re going to bring her back to life? After she’s dead.” Clint wondered skeptically. “I am, but if we don’t do it quickly she will forget everything, I must go to her.” “Hold it, you’re leaving us, even though you know that a war is coming?” “I have no choice, you don’t have a chance without her.” “This is all bullshit!” “Get everyone ready, arm them whatever” “Half the people here are children with no experience fighting! How the hell are they supposed to fight a fully grown vampire who’s basically indestructible unless you cut off their head, they can’t even reach their heads!” “You’ll think of something, get everyone to the roof!” “No, I’m not taking orders from you anymore!” Clint said becoming distracted by something in her face. Damon watched suspiciously. The boy was up to something, the way he watched her. He heard a distant call in his mind, he knew it was her. He turned to his sister and shot her a look, he had to go to her. She nodded at him turning away from Clint for the moment. Damon disappeared as he stepped into Limbo. “Clint I have to…” She turned around to face him and found her lips assaulted with his kiss. He held her face in his hands as he pulled her tightly to him. It was as if he would never let her go. Firebird was stunned beyond belief, there was no way she could possibly resist it. Not to mention she knew the boy was using the vampire strength to his advantage. The break of contact was abrupt as he stepped back from her. He knew at that moment that he loved her. It was as much a surprise to him as it was to her. They were
always fighting, always opposing views. In that moment through the look in his eye Clint knew he might not see her again, and he found himself unable to cope with the notion. She had always been there, and he liked fighting with her. She stared at him her sparkling eyes wide with surprise. He felt the sting against his cheek as she slapped him for only a fraction of an instant. Yet his vividly brown eyes remained on her, large and surprised just like hers. He watched her, without saying a thing. He didn’t need to say anything his eyes told it all. She moved forward in the blink of an eye, closing her eyes as she pressed her lips against his. She felt things in her that she had never felt before not in all the years of her life. Her heart was tearing in half, and both knew it. Clint wrapped his arms around her, accepting and reciprocating the kiss. Yes he loved her, and he knew from the fiery heat in her kiss that she did too. He couldn’t stand the thought of never having another fight between them. This was it, the one thing she had never experienced. No she’d been kissed before, many a time, it would be near impossible to live for hundreds of thousands of years and not have experienced a kiss. This kiss was different though. To be loved, she had experienced, to love in return she had not. Despite her sight this was one thing she could not see, could not analyze. Now she knew what her brother felt, what he had always felt. The reluctant parting of their lips was tender. She stared back at him feeling her heart leave her as she stared into his pleading eyes. Jordan watched from afar, confounded to the depths of understanding. Never had he seen Clint so weak, or vulnerable.
Firebird stared into his soft brown eyes. She knew she wanted to stay, but also knew she had a job to do. She couldn’t bear that thought of saying good-bye when she knew as well as he that they might never have a moment to themselves again. He caught the fear in her eyes, he couldn’t let go of her and wouldn’t. “Ready the troops Clint.” Firebird said in a voice that couldn’t be disobeyed. He felt as if she had brushed feathers across his cold cheeks. Yet still he held her. “Firebird…” It was too late, she had disappeared from his arms whether he liked it or not. He stood there, alone and confused. Jordan looked at his friend, realizing that Clint was hurt though he had never seen him like it before. He stepped from the shadows and walked to his friend. Clint was never serious about anything, that was until he became a vampire. “Clint,” Clint looked up at him but Jordan knew he wasn’t really looking at him, or listening to him much either. “Clint,” he repeated as he took hold of his friends shoulders and shook him. “Look at me. Buddy!” Finally Jordan felt Clint looking at him somewhat. “We have to be strong Clint, all of us. Nate says that the shield out there is flickering. We have to get ready for the worst Clint, you have to pull yourself together.” “She left,” Clint stated, finding it hard to make the sound at all. “She had to do what she had to do, you have to do what you have to. She left because she knew she had to take care of business. You do too, or else none of us have a chance, and anything she does with that bastard of a vampire will be for nothing.” Clint looked at Jordan. Then he started to see things. "No, not a bastard..." he was lost in thought for a moment. He saw things, "He stole Lilly's heart, he's alway's had it."
"I don't care who he is, I still say he's a bastard." Clint smiled, remembering the cold way that Damon had turned him into a vampire. He listened to Jordan even though he felt like his heart had disintegrated with Firebird. Jordan was right, even if Damon was their ally, had been all along didn't mean Clint had to like him. He nodded and looked at the group of people gathered on the balcony above. All watching and waiting for what he would do. Yes, he had to get them ready. Ready for the slaughter. -- o -Lilly woke up and looked around herself. She saw a world that seemed clouded and indistinct. She was lying on the floor, so she stood up. She looked down, horrified to see her own body through this clouded place that seemed lit by moonlight yet not. Everything was gray, Lilly was afraid. She couldn’t stop staring, the chain on her wrists that lay haphazardly on the ground. The puncture wound’s on her neck. The feeling of dislocation she felt at the moment. Then she saw the green eyes. She gasped and it echoed all around her though she saw no walls or anything it would echo off of. He advanced as she stepped back, she was terrified. The more terrified she became the more she forgot in her mind. Though looking into his eyes she saw only sorrow, and color, he was the only thing of color in this world. “To see you without color in your cheeks, hair and eyes is a terrible thing.” “What do you want, who are you? Where am I? Why is my body on the floor?” “You are dead.” “No, no I’m not, I can’t be dead, what’s going on, I can’t be here!” She ran away, finding herself jerked back at him as he grabbed her wrist.
In the real world Firebird sat behind Lilly, gathered her in her lap. Tears she shed, and they lit Lilly’s skin with a distant glow. Firebird felt faint, with so many thoughts running through her head she forced herself to focus on only one. She would shed her immortality to give new life to the one her brother loved. She knew now what it meant to love and be unable to act upon it. In Limbo, Lilly stared up at him with surprise and terror. He gathered her in his arms, held her tightly much to her surprise. Damon…she knew. Thoughts were coming back to her like raindrops on glass. She had an the odd sensation of being pulled away one little piece at a time. She couldn’t understand what was happening as she found herself gasping for air, sitting up in a dark room, everything from that gray clouded environment just suddenly disappearing as if it had never been there. Color coming back to her eyes, she saw around her the gloom and darkness. Firebird got up from behind her, and walked a bit away, giving Damon more room. Lilly turned to the side and saw again his beautiful green eyes. She threw her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer to him. She buried her face in his shoulder and cried, the images—memories pounding hard into her temples. “Damayan, the shield, it’s gone, and the castle is quiet.” “My shield?” Lilly managed to choke out the words. Firebird looked down at her distantly removed from the entire course of events. A curse it was, a curse to see the future, the possible futures, and be unable to stop it. For once in her life, Firebird felt helpless. “I believe this belongs to you.” Damon pulled from his pocket the ring Max had torn from her. Lilly stared at it as he slipped it on her finger for the second time.
"It was you all along...in the mall." "Yes." "You were tricking them?" "It was supposed to be a trap to catch you, but I never could resist your charms." He kissed her with that kiss that was so familiar. "You love me and you always have, and you always will." Lilly smiled remembering his words. He held her stronger but didn't say anything. "I love you always, Damayan," She whispered in his ears. Chapter 29 Lilly sat behind a concrete block with people who used to be her friends. Back when her life was somewhat normal. She couldn’t look at them the same way now. The shield she had erected around their building long ago kept flickering, and it distracted her thoughts as one or two vampires slipped through each time. Alison and Jordan were on them immediately. Lilly reflected on the remarkable team the two made, she didn’t reflect for long. She knew sooner or later the flicker was bound to be longer and therefore let in more than the two could handle. Lilly found she could not re-establish the shield. It had been so easy to throw it up once upon a time, yet now Lilly found she couldn’t even summon her powers at all. Clint was still in the club readying others for battle. She worried, sooner or later the shield would fail entirely, then it would be too late. When it did Lilly hoped to god she could throw a new one up. Clint threw himself into the preparations with more ferver than she had seen in a long time, more passion than anyone in the camp had seen in all
the time he had been there. Lilly knew that something had happened between him and Arthitla, but she didn't have time to question him about it. “It’s in your heart.” She turned to see her beloved Damayan. “What?” “It’s what controls your powers. Your heart is damaged.” “How?” “You shouldn’t be asking that of me.” Lilly nodded she knew he was right. The person she needed to ask was herself, yet she had been out of touch with that asset for so long. She knew things had changed so quickly, this put stress on her. She knew she had to get a handle on it before it handed her into deaths grip…again. "During the battle use your powers as little as possible, you will need them to face Narmer." he said quietly. She looked over at Firebird, trying to find some strength from the quiet majesty in her stance. She stood watching Alison and Jordan, ready to perform whatever tricks necessary to kill the vampires in their path. Already Jordan had a scratch up his arm that didn’t seem too deep. Not that it meant it didn’t hurt him. When Firebird had left Clint had used his blood to heal Alison’s broken arm; which apparently Damayan had caused. Lilly was a bit shady on the details of what had happened when she was abducted. The one thing she knew better then anything else was that Firebird had given up her immortality for her. She knew that if she plunged the dagger Damayan had returned to her into the heart of Firebird, she would die. Why Firebird had done that for her was something Lilly couldn’t understand. She looked at the dagger, at the pattern on the
handle that matched the pattern of her ring, she remembered something Arthitla had said, 'the eyes do not see what the mind doesn't want' or something like that. “Are you all right Lilly?” Melissa asked. Melissa sat beside her sharpening her sword with a stone. Lilly was amazed how much they had learned from books about these things, amazed that they had found the books. “No.” Lilly stated simply as she watched Firebird staring into nothingness. She knew well enough that Firebird wasn’t telling them something. She knew also that something had happened between her and Clint. The shield flickered again, this time it stayed open long enough to let more than two through. Before Lilly could react Melissa was up, jumping over the block, ready to join the fight that Alison and Jordan were already staging. Lilly watched unable to do anything as she saw the vampire ready to remove Jordan’s head. A streak of black ran across the roof, dodging everything and everyone in its path. A head went rolling but it wasn’t Jordan’s, it was that of his attacker. Lilly let out a tense breath of air. Jordan turned around white as a sheet to face his rescuer. “Thanks, I think.” Jordan mumbled. Damayan nodded as another came towards Jordan. Damon didn’t look to Jordan as he stepped to face the other. Jordan shook his head realizing his mistake. He couldn’t thank anyone. He could only hope there would be time for thanks after the battle. Lilly cringed once more as the shield flickered too quickly for another to make it through. Alison turned to send her a look full of warning. Lilly noticed Alison wasn’t unscathed, her face had a gash running down one cheek. Lilly didn’t understand the look she sent though.
Firebird had cast a spell to slow down the vampire attacks within the area that was also under Lilly's shield. The thing Lilly had never realized was that all the spells Arthitla had cast upon the vampires in the past, none of them could touch her brother, he was blood of her blood, and she couldn't stop him any more than any of the humans who tried could. Firebird turned to see a vampire who looked like he had been a boy of no more then fourteen years of age--staring blankly at Lilly’s back. He didn’t have his sword raised, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t in a matter of seconds. He didn’t though, instead he looked up at Firebird. She was ready to leap forward when the shield flickered and the vampire left. Only then did Lilly turn, hearing the shifting of the boys garments. Through the shimmering of the shield she could see the vampire flee, heading in the direction of Narmer’s castle. “What just happened?” Lilly wondered as Firebird joined her. “He wasn’t here, he didn’t expect you.” “Who wasn’t here.” “Narmer. He didn’t think these humans would have a chance, even with my help. He didn’t expect the choice I made, now he knows and he will inform Narmer.” “What do you mean.” “We had the upper hand in destroying the small army that awaits outside the shield, although no doubt he would send another.” “I don’t understand.” “This is all that stands between Narmer and complete rule of the earth. He thought it would easily be crushed, he thought you were dead. With you dead he didn’t need these
people here anymore, so he sent a small unskilled army. He knows now it will take a bit more than that to destroy us, we must prepare for the worst.” Lilly looked around at the motley crew of people who didn’t have a clue. She knew they wouldn’t survive the night. She knew that all too well, and it scared her. She knew it was her fault. “You mustn’t fear, we need you now more then ever, even though now his powers exceed yours, perhaps somehow we can find a way to destroy him, together.” “In other words this fight is hopeless” Lilly whispered, "and you giving up your immortality was useless because I'll probably end up dead again anyway." Firebird stared down at her knowing now she couldn’t lie to the young princess. “It's very near hopeless.” “Rachel come back here!” she heard a familiar voice scream at the girl who ran through the door to the stairwell. She didn’t heed him, and apparently he hadn’t known she had taken off until a couple of seconds ago. Damayan turned around to catch the leaping child. Clint was suddenly screeching to a halt as he saw that Damon held Rachel. Lilly left Firebird standing there brooding and watching those who had made the interruption. Clint’s eyes caught hers and they looked at each other longingly, but Lilly had reached the group and he couldn’t leave to see her, they were both aware of that. “I missed you!” Rachel stated excitedly, “Everyone said you were bad, but I knew and I tried to tell them but they wouldn’t listen to me.” Lilly smiled at the sight of Damayan cradling her sister in his arms. The lamps scattered here and there illuminated
Damayan’s smiling face. The people marvelled, this was the vampire they had feared, had heard of his emotionless demeanor yet here he was, smiling. “Rachel, you can’t be up here, the battlefield is no place for you.” Lilly said softly. “That’s what I tried to tell her” Clint mumbled. Rachel turned her face away from Damayan’s as he set her down on her own two feet. She stuck her tongue out at Clint and frowned at Lilly. “You think of me like I’m still a little girl!” “You are a little girl!” Clint interjected. “I know how to hold my own in a sword-fight!” “Sure you do, against a horde of vampires you know how to hold your own, when you’re less than half their size.” Clint mocked her. Rachel fisted her hands by her side and fumed at him. She loved him she did, but at the moment he was seriously bugging her. Damayan moved fluidly, moving into attack position with his sabre and headed straight for Rachel. Rachel smiled and grabbed Clint's sword as she reciprocated the fight. Clint moved to stop it then froze. Lilly and Clint stood staring at Damayan and Rachel sparring with the swords. Rachel danced away from his attacks like a professional, they were a match. They had all heard of Damon's swordplay, how it outmatched even that of Narmer, and here they watched a prepubescent girl matching him. Neither could gain any ground against the other. Clint's mouth dropped. The sabre fell to his side, Rachel did the same with Clint's sword and they bowed to each other. Rachel looked up and sneered at Clint.
“She knows how to use a sword, I taught her.” Damayan said turning to Lilly. Lilly smiled at the seductive sound of his voice. “Clint find her, her own sword” Lilly said, breaking the fire between them and the spell that Damayan cast upon her. “What?!” Clint yelped. Rachel spun smiling at Lilly, and then ran to her arms. Lilly smiled and hugged her, just like old times. "She's a better fighter than most we have, we can't let personal feelings change the fact that she has more experience than any of the people you've trained." Lilly stated sending him a look over Rachel’s shoulder. Clint shot the watchful Firebird a look before going back downstairs to retrieve another sword grumbling and sending Damayan a hostile look. “I’m glad we’re not fighting anymore.” Rachel said. “Me too hon’, me too.” Firebird watched, as she always watched, taking no part in anything, at least not on an emotional level. Kevin watched by her side, watching mainly little Rachel. He knew she was quite a bit younger than him, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t have feelings for her. He watched Lilly with her too and couldn’t help but smile. “It’s hard to believe they’re only sisters isn’t it?” Kevin breathed to no one in particular. Firebird caught it though, and her eyes lit with renewed curiosity about the identity of Rachel. She was not a part of the past, this she knew, as Firebird knew it better than anyone else. Rachel was merely a part of the present, yet she possesed a piece of the princess' heart, and she matched Damayan's skills. It was a puzzle that even Firebird couldn't figure out yet.
She looked from Damayan to Rachel, then to Lilly and back to Rachel. She heard a cracking noise and noticed immediately as the shield around them collapsed suddenly. Lilly looked up feeling the presence of something that made her sick inside. Damayan spun around ready to face anything to protect both Lilly and her sister. Lilly stood up, and Rachel braced herself. Clint burst through the door and tossed one of the swords he held to Rachel. He had grabbed the lightest one he could find yet still he thought it would be heavy for her. He wasn’t only a little surprised when she caught it one-handed. Only then did he notice the muscles that had developed in her once chubby arms. He thought for only an instant how much she had grown. Firebird came to stand beside Lilly, the shield flickered back up again. "Lilly, where did your sister come from?" "The church was telling my mom about a sweet little girl in the system, and my mom happened to meet her, so she adopted her. Soon after adopting Rachel she landed a job that took her away from us for long periods of time. Rachel didn't know her as a mother like I did." Lilly stared at the shield it went into a series of flickers faster than before. Then it dropped, completely she braced herself for battle. Firebird looked up at the head of the company who now stood along all the edges of the walls. They had surrounded them yet none made a single move as of yet. This only slightly unnerved her. Baldev who stood at Narmer’s side sneered at her just as Narmer smiled. Simon came out from behind the crashed plane where he had been sitting he stared at the army of vampires who stood shoulder to shoulder. Each and every edge of
the roof was lined with them. Simon spun to stare at all of them in turn, this wasn’t going to be at all what he had imagined. This was going to be a slaughter, and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. It was too late to run away, too late to throw in the towel. The others scattered around maybe a hundred people had similar revelations, they quaked with fear. The humans pooled towards the center as Narmer watched smiling. It was dark, despite the few lamps that flickered here and there. No longer did Lilly’s shield light the way. He looked around at his opponents, save Damayan, Arthitla, and Lilly, perhaps even the proverbial knight, this wasn’t going to be much of a challenge. Lilly stepped forward from the watchful crowd trailing Damayan who followed only at the chance that one of the vampires made a move. None of them did, he could hear the orders in his own head just as all those around could. Who would dare go against Narmer now that he had Lilly’s powers as well as his own. He looked around knowing all of them were over-confident—perhaps that might be a weakness. He hoped for too much, he knew there were too many of them that weren’t standing on the edges for them to be considered overconfident. All they wielded was a crew of motley human beings plus his sister and another vampire. Lilly stood her ground between the rebels and Narmer, and Damayan stood at her side. “So the valiant Damayan lives again, seems not so long ago I saw you blinded by love to the point where you were weak.” Damayan stared at Narmer as he turned to face Lilly. “And personally I thought you were dead.” Lilly narrowed her eyes. “You and I both know that we’re all that stands between you and complete domination of this earth.”
“To be remedied quickly I believe. You see I outnumber you about a hundred or more to your one.” “So let’s even the grounds a bit then.” Lilly threw her hands into the air as a silvery shield rose from the edges of the roof centimeters from the backs of the vampires standing there. Narmer nodded at it as he examined it. “The past is behind you then?” “It won’t impede the present.” “And what is this then?” “Only a way to keep the rest of you out, and us in. You can’t cheat by throwing one of us over the edge of the building, since we excluding Clint and Damayan here don’t have the power to fly.” “Fair enough. So this is an isolated incidence, and when we defeat you then it’s over.” “It is.” “Then let it begin” He said smiling a sickly smile as shadows came from every direction. Narmer stood by as his army lunged forward. Swords glistened in the reflection the silver light cast upon them. The light was enough to fight by, enough to see the blood flying. The vampires weren't even trying, humans were dropping like flies. The battle spread out, it wasn’t a fair fight, they all knew it. The vampires were faster, stronger, and they didn’t tire. The rebels fought with a zeal that only a man who had lost everything could achieve in that they had the upper hand, but it was too small. Lilly became lost in the midst of the battle. She didn’t know what she was doing as she
fought each new challenger, none of those who she hated most. They were novices for the most part, she was killing all she could, and unlike her challengers, she was tiring quickly. She burned them when she could but for the most part she was too distracted, they wouldn't let her think long enough to use her powers. Damayan had told her not to, but she couldn't help defend the people she loved. Kevin fought with an experience uncommon to an eleven year old boy. His hair was drenched with his sweat and it obscured his face in a manner that made him seem all the more dramatic and dangerous. He was by nature pretty good with the sword he wielded. Not to mention his hours on end of practice. Clint was having quite a bit of trouble. Narmer compensated for Clint being a vampire, Clint fought more than he could handle. He was having trouble keeping track of the blades and he too began to lose himself in the battle. At the slightest distraction Clint would surely lose his head. “It’s been a long time hasn’t it witch.” Baldev stated as he and Firebird circled one another. It seemed the two were oblivious to the carnage all around them. Firebird stared at Baldev with narrowed eyes. It wasn’t hard to tell there was history between the two. She said nothing this was the Firebird everyone knew, the silent one. Clint yelped from faraway, his other hand was gone, and he was in danger of losing his life. Clint’s sword flew out of his reach as he lay against a dead body on the ground. He stared up at the vampire in terror. Only Damayan saw what was happening to the knight, and barely that. Damayan was surrounded, he couldn’t get anywhere. “Rachel!” Damayan yelled desperately. She looked up from her perch on the body of a vampire who she’d just decapitated. She looked over and saw Clint. She saw the one
vampire readying to make the final blow, and she saw the other holding a severed hand and smiling. She ran as fast as she could across bodies fallen and falling. Faster, than anyone else could see. The sword began to fall and Rachel saw it in slow motion. The vampire holding Clint’s hand looked down at this strange little savage amazon whose face was smeared with the blood of others. He hadn't seen her coming. The sword fell and the head rolled. Rachel turned to the other vampire. She didn’t give him a chance to react, his head was gone. Rachel picked up Clint’s hand from the ground and tossed it to him. Kevin had joined them and the pair kept Clint safe as he reattached his hand. He grabbed the sword of one of the fallen vampires and jumped up. “Thank you.” He whispered to the heavily panting Rachel. Staring at her in disbelief. Rachel was having trouble breathing. Clint couldn't spare the time to figure out what exactly had just happened. “Are you okay?” Kevin yelled at her as he slew another one. “I’ll be fine!” Rachel answered back as she turned away. Truth was Rachel didn’t know if she’d be all right, she had an odd feeling in her chest. It felt almost as if her heart had stopped. She leaned against one of the concrete blocks, hiding in the shadows as she attempted to catch her breath. Something was wrong with her and she knew it, she didn’t know how much longer she could do this. At the same time she felt a pain in her chest she felt a tingling warmth spread from her toes to her head. She felt overheated, and grabbed her hair and used the mini-dagger in her shoe to cut all of it off. She couldn’t stand the heat it produced against her neck.
Sword against sword, fire against fire, sparks of hatred flew. Firebird and Baldev battled across the field. Two of equal skill with a sword, the witch and the original betrayer. His amber eyes sparkled at her just as they had long ago on that fateful night. He had caused her first death, in more ways than one. She hated him more than any other being on Earth and the other Kingdom. She wouldn’t stop this time until he was dead. Narmer reclined atop one of the taller structures of the roof. He swung his legs merrily and laughed as another human fell in front of him. The vampire who had caused the humans death saluted him as he went off to defeat another. There were too many interesting things to watch on the field of battle. His vampires, a group of them had kept Damon preoccupied although unfortunately Damon hadn’t fallen yet. Narmer frowned at this, Damon’s skills with the sword were a sore spot for him. He knew well that they exceeded his own. He preferred having Damon as his puppet to this. He had underestimated his feelings towards the girl. He knew well that with Damon preoccupied the humans didn’t have a chance. He directed a vampire to go after the human who thought herself a medic and found it amusing when she didn’t even pick up a sword to defend herself. She fell, and a tall gangly human screamed and lunged at the vampire finding himself speared by the sword. They fell together, the humans were losing. Even the vampire knight was having trouble. The vampires left standing now were the stronger ones. The humans were already tiring they didn’t have a chance. Still he watched Lilly fight with the nobility that she was born into, and a savagery that only hatred could provide.
What Narmer found most interesting at the moment though was the battle between Baldev and the witch. Despite all the other fights of the battle she had endured she seemed still full of stamina. He watched her intently with his red eyes. The way her medium toned skin gleamed with her sweat. The way her citrine eyes sparkled in her concentration. The way her hair seemed soaked with sweat or blood but you couldn’t tell the difference because both were the same color. She carried one scratch on her arm, her sleeve gone on that side revealing the tattoo of the vine that went up her arm. He knew well that the other side was the same. The fight between them showed no sign of ending anytime soon. It was indeed becoming a bore to some degree watching them dance around the roof. Ah but Lilly was getting tired, gorgeously tired. Lilly couldn’t stand much more, her muscles screamed. Her eyes became aware of what surrounded them, there weren’t many of them left. She could see clearly Nate’s dead body. Military training hadn't really covered swords. Kevin hung on just barely, Clint wasn’t tiring, but wasn’t doing too well with better swordsmen. Damayan was reducing the number of vampires fighting him ever so slowly but the speed at which he dispatched them was increasing. One vampire wouldn’t turn the fight she knew, and most everyone was dead anyway. What more was there to save? Firebird was dueling with Baldev, an odd sight on a battlefield to be sure. She saw Simon’s body speared by the remains of the plane. Dustin would never admit that he was tiring, nor that he was losing the battle, but Lilly could see clearly he wouldn’t last much longer. The kid was holding his own intestines in place. She admired his courage in lieu of his recent wound that had his
intestines ready to spill out. Dustin knew he was dying, but he wouldn’t go down without a fight. She watched distantly as Jordan was struck to the ground defending Alison, then her attention became distracted by a piercing scream. Lilly spun. No. The scream was too close, she could have stopped it so easily. Melissa formerly engaged in a fight with the twins. Amazingly she had managed to kill one of them—but the other. The other stood behind her, and had stabbed her through. Lilly ran the short distance and immediately beheaded the other twin, catching him by surprise. She dropped her sword and caught Melissa in her arms as she sank to the ground. Her hand came up drenched with the blood from the wound in Melissa’s back. Melissa reached up using a great deal of the strength she had left to grab Lilly’s shirt and pull her closer feeling the warmth of her tears against her skin. “Don’t stop” Melissa gritted through bloodstained teeth. The breath left her body, Lilly sat there alone with her friend in her lap. Melissa’s violet tinted eyes stared off into space, the pupils so small from the light of the shield. Her head fell to the side, her mouth open, the blood dripping onto Lilly’s arm. One more dead body in the sea of many. Every person who mattered to her was dying! Tears drenched Lilly’s face, making thin tracks through the dried blood caked there. She hadn’t even had the chance to do anything, she could have healed her! She could have prevented it from happening in the first place. Still she had heard Melissa’s last uttered words, however soft they were. Yet she found her legs too tired to obey the smallest command. She couldn’t stand up, she couldn’t fight. Then the stab of sharp pain in her shoulder. Three screams echoed through the battlefield. Baldev had tackled Firebird and she lay against the dead bodies already there,
but she wasn’t dead. Both had lost their swords or rather Baldev had lost his and Firebird had dropped hers. Yet now he held his hands against her throat his body holding the rest of her down. Firebird’s arm convulsed searching—searching for a nearby sword in the pile of dead bodies, knowing that if she died it would be for good. Rachel screamed, but it faded into nothingness. She stared at her hand, finding it transparent—it wasn’t just her hand. Rachel was for some reason disappearing, and it horrified her, she wasn’t even passing into Limbo, she was just disappearing completely. Then she knew, she knew exactly what was happening. Lilly knelt there with Melissa in her lap, and a knife in her shoulder. She fell face forward onto Melissa as the knife was pulled out, and suddenly it was in her other shoulder. She screamed again. Damayan was mobbed by another few vampires and he couldn’t reach her—he fought like hell to get himself out of this mess, he had to reach her. Yet he was split between getting to his sister, and the one he loved, and the fact that he didn’t have the ability to get there was crushing him. -- o -He kicked the dead body out of the way as clouds of pain filmed over Lilly’s eyes. She felt sharp pain in her ribs as he kicked her away from the mass of dead bodies. He grabbed her collar twisted it and lifted her to her feet just as he stabbed one of her legs. She screamed again. He forced her over to the lower block where Narmer sat smiling and waiting, like a child giddy at the prospect of opening his Christmas presents. He dropped her at his feet and stood to the side. Lilly now saw his face and she knew exactly what treachery was involved. He too smiled at her just as Narmer laughed,
it was Max. Firebird saw it out of the corner of her eye. She knew that no matter how much her brother fought he couldn’t get out of his tangle. “Lilly!” Clint screamed as he threw his sword in that direction. It skidded right beside her. “Pick it up why don’t you?” Max laughed. Lilly’s hand reached for the sword just as he unexpectedly moved with a vampire’s speed stabbing her hand with the knife. Lilly screamed at the sudden pain. She should have known they wouldn’t let her grab the sword. “Oops, sorry love.” He said sarcastically sending both him and Narmer into a fit of laughter. “You bastard!” Clint yelled as he picked up the sword nearest Dustin’s fallen body, lunging forward at Max’s back wielding it. Lilly looked up just in time to see Max spin around holding his own sword—seeing Clint’s head fall at her feet. She stared at it in horror. How had it come to this? She wanted the sword but the knife was still lodged in her hand. She couldn’t do anything, her muscles were so tired, why not just lie there and die for the third time in her life. Third time was the charm right would they leave her alone to die in peace this time? Firebird saw it too, and her blood was filled with rage. Her hand locked with the handle of the sword and she threw it up at Baldev’s neck. His head fell on her breast as she finally found herself able to breath again. She scrambled up, grabbing the severed head by it’s hair. She used her arm and her strength to throw that head straight at Narmer’s profile. It hit him directly in the side of his head. He looked up with a start, she was already moving. He threw his hand up and she froze. The air had gone from her chest just as Damon freed himself from his bind.
“Arthitla!” he screamed as he ran to his sister. Narmer had killed her with his powers, and she had been so close. He found himself suddenly mobbed by the group he had escaped. Lilly saw and she knew, she knew that Firebird was dead for good. If she hadn’t saved Lilly she would have been back on her feet all too quickly. She couldn’t do anything about it though. Lilly knew—she herself was dying. “Get up.” Lilly looked lazily towards the source of the voice. Her eyes bolted wide open. It was Ariel the cat sitting there, on the block, right next to where Narmer sat laughing. She knew from the reaction of those mocking her that only she could see her. She knew that voice, the voice the cat used, but it was too different. “Get up now.” She repeated. Lilly wanted to obey but knew she couldn’t. None of her muscles would obey the demands of her tortured mind. “You can and you will, I’ve sacrificed all my life, my livelihood for you. I never complained.” “Clint?” Lilly uttered the incomplete thought, but somehow the ghost caught it. “Is alive in that dimension you are seeking to reclaim.” Lilly knew then she had to move, she had to get up and still she couldn’t. There was no strength left in her limbs. “There’s plenty of strength yet untapped in you. You must tap into it now for beyond this I can help you no more. Look around you princess, see what your eyes see.” Lilly did, and saw devastation and defeat. It didn’t matter where she looked. They had done great damage to the number of vampires there, but it wasn’t enough. Still a few fought on, though Jordan was dead, Alison fought persistently wielding dual swords. Kevin fought as well, who would have thought the boy was so strong? He fought though he was near collapsing from exhaustion. There were a few others Lilly didn't know but
they were all nearing collapse. Narmer and Max laughed hysterically not bothering to look at her, knowing she was down for good, it filled her with hatred. Damayan fought courageously to reach her, but she knew he couldn’t help her. Quite suddenly Lilly realized someone was missing. -- o -Rachel stared at herself, ever disappearing into nothingness. A vampire spotted her and decided to stab her. Rachel stared at the sword. She didn’t feel it, despite the fact it went straight through her. The vampire was baffled by this strange twist. He felt nothing but air on the other side of his sword—but clearly there was a young girl there. Hidden behind the block Lilly couldn’t see her sister. She figured if she didn’t see Rachel fighting then the only alternative was that Rachel was dead. Lilly’s blood filled with a protective instinct, she would kill him now, she vowed it, knowing that her beloved sister had been slaughtered. She stared over at the knife in her hand with wild eyes. Her other hand suddenly swung over ever so sluggishly and pulled the knife from it. She wanted to scream but winced instead. Narmer and Max didn’t notice this movement, they were too busy laughing. Too bad for them. Lilly winced painfully as she gathered herself up. Slowly but surely she was rising. Firebird was gone, but her message stayed, Ariel was gone, but Lilly knew what she had to do. She would avenge the innocent life of her sister. Lilly decided to ignore the pain and locked it away as she found herself on her own two feet—more or less—once again.
She felt renewed strength quite suddenly and she felt the shock of energy run through her as she grabbed Max’s sword from his belt and sent his head rolling just as he spun around to stare at her with an expression of shock that gratified Lilly’s heart. Suddenly Narmer had the tip of her sword against his throat, seeing the determination in her eyes. This he had underestimated, he would soon remedy this, but at the moment she had him in a spot. The battlefield froze, Damayan found it easy to behead each and every one of his former assailants. Damayan strolled over to her, his enemies fallen. He stood behind her, glaring at Narmer over her shoulder. Narmer’s eyes narrowed. “And what do you suppose you’ll do with that?” “I will destroy you” Chapter 30 “Oww!” Lilly screamed as liquid steel pooled on the ground at her feet. Damayan lunged forward as she collapsed into his arms, sporting a hand singed by the melting of her sword. The blade had melted under the gaze of Narmer’s sullen face. He stared at them hatefully as Damon held her up, keeping her from falling to the ground on legs weak with pain and fatigue. “Damon how odd it is to see you so weak. It’s pathetic, and unbecoming of you. I gave you the dark blood and all you want is some pathetic human girl.” Narmer stated. He held no respect for the child, she had no strength, she couldn’t even stand on her own two feet. He had caught her from her own stupidity twice, this would be the last time. He was surprised she had lasted as long as she had. He would destroy them both. “I will destroy you!” Lilly gritted through teeth clenched with pain.
“What are you going to do? It seems the only thing you're good for is bleeding, that delicious smell, I must admit it tasted better then any other human I’ve had. Are you going to use those infamous powers of yours already?” “I will when I’m good and ready.” “You’ll use them now!” The power shot from his hand, a power only Lilly could see. The dark beam of light lanced straight for her and impacted with an odd shield of light Lilly didn’t know she had. Narmer’s eyes shot to her hand and he saw the blemish that had stopped her death. Damayan stared back at him with those calm eyes that were so unnerving in the long run. Forget his swordsmanship, he could have defeated any adversary he met with that stare alone. “Goddamn that ring. You realize Damon it doesn’t matter anymore. Your powers can’t protect her from mine anymore, your charms are useless. I won’t underestimate that damn ring again.” He smiled at Damayan as he struck at Lilly, it was then that Lilly reacted. As Alison herself was struck to the ground behind her Lilly remembered Rachel. Light shot from her hands as she regained the energy to combat him from that small fact. -- o -Rachel glared at Alison with fear as she fell in front of her. Straight over the concrete block right at Rachel’s feet. Her feet that were rapidly becoming solid again. Rachel smiled things were falling back into order. Rachel knew now what had happened, past present and future. -- o -Lilly wouldn’t be able to keep it up long, she just didn’t have the stamina left. As it was she was running on empty, and she knew that it was a fight she would fight alone.
Narmer smiled at her, knowing she was beaten, knowing that her last bit of magic wouldn't last. Lilly saw his smirk and she hated it, but there was nothing left she could do. Nothing but hope that ran in dangerously short supply. Dark consumed light, the shield was dying and Narmer held back the vampires waiting there with a command in his head. He knew he would defeat her, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to waste that beauty of hers. The dark was there, in her face and at her feet and she felt—cold. She felt cold, her feet were freezing, she found they no longer moved at all. She looked down and to her amazement realized she couldn't feel her feet, she couldn't move them, she was frozen Narmer was doing it on purpose. He wanted to preserve her, to keep her as a trophy. She looked up at Damayan terrified. “You really didn’t think I was going to kill her did you? What a waste that would be. You on the other hand are a different story. You will die, just as soon as I’m done with her.” Narmer remarked offhandedly. Damayan knew he couldn’t help her, his sister could have, but his sister was dead. Lilly felt the cold traveling up her legs, knowing she couldn’t stop it as she struggled to fight. -- o -Rachel didn’t fear them any longer. She had made her decision and realized exactly what she had to do. She felt it inside her and knew she had never belonged here. She leapt up onto the block of concrete, and attracted Narmer’s curious gaze. He saw in her blue-green eyes a lack of fear. “Rachel No!” Lilly cried desperately.
Damon stared at her, stared into her eyes, and then he saw everything, he stood, petrified with surprise. Narmer knew this was the child, the sister that meant so much to his adversary. He smiled at this sudden opportunity to destroy her with Lilly watching. With one hand still focused on Lilly he turned the other hand to her sister and sent a weak bolt that would have killed any human. He knew it killed, he had killed Arthitla with it. She stopped it before it hit her somehow, her gaze hadn’t wavered. Now a strange smile lit her cherubic face, her chopped hair fell in clumps around her face, she looked positively insane. Narmer was puzzled, but not alarmed, yet. He sent another stronger bolt. She stopped this one as easily as the first. Now she was beginning to frustrate him, and still she hadn’t moved. She just stared at him, her maniacal smile growing as the seconds passed. He sent a stronger bolt. Nothing happened, and Narmer’s blood boiled. Rachel laughed gaily. Using his mind he ordered the vampire nearest to her to take her down. Lilly was completely frozen, she couldn't move anything anymore and Narmer stopped focusing on her. She watched screaming in her head, needing to do something. Damayan just stared. The vampire lunged at her. He did not get near her, in a movement that was so quick that no one anticipated it, she turned and sparks flew from her hands. There was a loud crash and then the vampire was no more. Narmer’s eyes flew open in terror as she turned towards Lilly. She was still frozen and yet now she saw what Damayan had already seen.
Lilly felt odd, she felt strength pulsing back into her blood, she felt—warmth. She felt power return to her legs, her cuts and bruises however deep were healed before their eyes. She felt her exhaustion leave her as a bird flew from it’s nest. She turned her head surprised and confused and saw her sister standing there, like a pixie who suddenly had realized the ultimate surprise was in her hands. She was holding all the cards, and now she was dealing her hand. She lifted her own hands up and felt the power run through her, she knew she was right, there was no other way to explain it. The power shot from her own hands as Lilly’s eyes widened. It stopped a moment later Narmer was frozen just as Lilly had been a moment before. For one awful moment Narmer realized what was happening. He stared at Damon who stared at Rachel with what couldn’t be defined as anything but surprise. Lilly smiled and walked to him, she picked up his sword, it was Narmer who couldn't move now. She picked up the sword smiled and took Narmer's head. Narmer felt his heart squeeze inside his chest. Then he felt nothing. Narmer was dead. The vampires scattered knowing they couldn't defeat this new power not without their leader. Lilly turned to look at the smiling Rachel, she was glowing, and that glow was spreading outwards from her. The dead bodies below began to disappear as the light covered them with it’s brightness. Lilly and Damayan stared at it afraid of what was coming, knowing that there was nowhere to run. Lilly looked into Rachel's smile, reassuring, letting Lilly know there was nothing to be afraid of.. “Time is fixed, and now everything else has to be repaired too.” She spoke in a distant voice. “How do you know this? Who are you? How was time broken” Lilly cried.
“Well I’ll tell you this, if time were in it’s natural order, I wouldn’t be born yet.” She smiled at Lilly and winked as the light swallowed her. In that moment of realization Lilly found herself blinded, and then she felt—nothing. -- o -Lilly’s eyes were closed tight against a warm surface, firm and pleasant against her soft cheeks. Still she was afraid to open her eyes, after all, she had no idea what she should expect to see. She tried to become aware of every sensation before she dared opening her eyes. She felt a strange dampness against the soles of her feet, she felt damp fabric clinging to her skin. She felt the springy thickness of—grass, all over her! He lifted her to a sitting position cradling her against his chest. He leaned in and placed a warm kiss against her lips soft as butter. So long had he been incapable of such a truly warm kiss that he felt deep inside himself the wringing of a heart he had forgotten existed. Lilly opened her eyes in surprise to find herself shrouded in darkness on a hill. The moon her only companion save for the man who held her in his embrace. She threw her arms around his neck as she felt his skin warmed with the blood of humanity. His skin a warm bronze color that glowed in the moonlight, just like his sisters. She leaned back a moment later. “They’re all gone?” “No.” Lilly stared at him knowing he spoke the truth, knowing that if she looked into the valley below she would find them sleeping. Everyone, including Clint she knew was alive. “All live, except my sister.” “I’m so sorry Damayan.” Lilly stated, the crystalline tears welling up in her eyes for someone she had hardly known.
“She gave her life to you Lilly, she expects you to use it well.” “I know. I think I need to be alone for a bit.” she said as she ran the back of her hand across his cheek, thrilled at the warmth that was installed there. “As you wish my love.” He stated as he bowed to her. She smiled at him, letting her tears fall to join the dew on the emerald grass at her feet. She looked down, yes it was emerald, not ruby red with blood as it had been in her horrid memory. She turned and ran in the other direction until she found herself on a cliff overlooking the angry sea that crashed against its face. It was lit with a pale color she didn’t recognize. Lilly spun around and gasped, she almost launched herself over the edge at the magnificent sight she saw. There was light, light in the sky and the moon had set, and the light was rising. Dawn, the first in five years and it was a sight that jerked tears unlike any other. For so long had she lived in the terror of darkness. The light lit the clouds that seemed to engulf this impossibly green landscape. Mists, and fog, she knew these words yet they came at such surprise she almost found it irrational to let herself believe what her eyes saw. The wind swirled around her bare legs, tossing the white dress she wore this way and that. The golden bodice that imprisoned her chest was tight, making it hard for Lilly to breath in her state of surprise and so to avoid fainting she calmed her breaths and looked out to sea once more. She knew where she was, though she only remembered it in dreams of her past, and of her present. She knew who she was, knew what she had to accomplish before she could find a moment of peace. For now she let the mists hide her, let the winds surround her and play in the golden locks of hair on her head.
Alive. She had finished the first part of her journey, she had destroyed Narmer with the help of the child she knew now she carried in her womb. Lilly couldn't grasp her own destiny, or the destiny of her child. “Lilly.” She spun at the sound of the whispering wind to set her eyes on the ghost who stood there. “Arthitla.” Lilly whispered in return. She was solid now, but she knew it wouldn’t last long. She knew this was the last time she would ever be human. She had made a mistake and she would pay for it. She knew this in a single instant, information flooding into her mind just by the sight of her. Arthitla walked over to the cliff and sat, inviting Lilly to do the same. “You know your journey isn’t over.” “Yes,” Lilly remarked, “Why are you here with me?” “I am here to tell you you have to restore order here and elsewhere. It will be hard, this time those who die will stay dead. Sometimes the people who die here will come back but they will always come back as something much worse. The daughter you carry did indeed restore the order of time, something I’ve been trying to do for a long time. I didn’t see who she was, things might have been better if I had. ” “Why are you here Arthitla.” “To warn you.” “You love him.” She stopped surprised at the young queens remark. She didn’t know how to respond.
“It was a mistake, it never should have happened.” Arthitla stated, turning the other way, so that Lilly would not see the tears on her face. She felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned her head to face the child. “Love is never a mistake, this is the wisdom I give you. You sacrificed your life multiple times for the love between me and your brother, without being prompted to.” “I love him too. He is my brother.” “And was that a mistake too? Forgive me for saying Arthitla, but you deserve these last few minutes with him, not me, I know what I’m up against for the first time thanks to you. I know your time runs short, and I know you’ll be back again, but not in the same form. Go to him now, spend these moments with him, and you will always have that to treasure, no matter how deep your mind falls into the despair of his ignorance. You will always have that small light to guide you.” Arthitla stared into the blue sapphires so full of compassion and understanding. She closed her eyes once squeezing the last of her tears from them as she nodded. Lilly smiled a smile worth more then a million golden coins as Arthitla stood up and made her way down to the valley. -- o -Clint sat up in a strange bed that seemed to be made of hay sewn together in a lumpy burlap bag. He looked up to see her in the doorway, her curls of mahogany hair running tangled and yet flat all the way down her back. He saw the tracks of tears on her face though he couldn’t understand why she would be crying. He opened his mouth to say something as she lunged forward and pressed a finger to his lips…his human lips. In the next moment she engulfed them with her own, pressing with a force that weakened his very soul.
He felt her breasts as she pressed them to his chest, and he felt the overpowering love he felt for her. So he did the only thing he could do. He accepted her as he turned her over and pressed her back into the mattress himself with more kisses. Clint kissed her again as she felt the pull on her soul for more reasons then one. Clint found himself kissing only the pillow. He looked up in surprise finding Arthitla gone. He was utterly alone, he wanted to scream in frustration, but only grabbed his clothes, struggling to get them on as fast as he could he ran out of his hut. He looked up and saw Lilly staring at him from high on a cliff. -- o -She turned away and closed her eyes again, wrenching tears from them once again as she stared at the Siamese cat at her feet. Ariel wanted to cry knowing that she couldn’t. A cold shell slowly began to build itself around her heart. She would handle this just as she had every other thing that had happened in her life. Lilly looked over the cliff again, staring into the mists. The wind kicked up and swirled around Lilly’s feet and in her hair. She closed her eyes as if in pain. This was it, this was the beginning.