A Reason To Live
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
Dread owns her, pushing against her like an invisible windstorm. She sighs, reluctantly opening the bedroom door. The sight of her children nestled in the muscular arms of her vampire fills her heart with joy and like a veil, her worries momentarily lift and she smiles.
Eric is so tall; his large feet comically extend further than the length the children’s bed; the vampire is singing Valhal – The Viking War Song to his offspring as Tara quietly nears them, “Ask veit ek standa, heitir Yggdrasill - hár baðmr, ausinn, hvíta auri; þaðan koma döggvar, þærs í dala falla; stendr æ yfir grœnn...Urðar brunni.”
Eric’s old Norse accent is soothing, lulling his family into a serene place. He is hoping that this moment will not be the last. When he was turned into a vampire he was forbidden to see his human children grow. Now that he’s been given another chance, he so desperately wants things to turn out differently. The handsome vampire leans in, kissing his son and daughter on the head.
Jessica snuggles close to her father, her deep emerald eyes peering into his icy sage gaze; she is hanging onto every word he says. While Godric’s hazel eyes appraise his mother in a peaceful sleepy gaze.
“Make room for mommy,” Godric yawns squeezing in even closer to Eric.
Tara maneuvers onto the bed, squeezing in close to Godric, she reaches her arm so that her arm covers Godric shoulders, Eric’s abdomen, and her fingers lightly brush Jessica’s arm.
“There- I’m all settled in,” Tara says to Godric, pressing closer to him, kissing the back of his sand-colored curls.
“I was just telling the children, home is wherever we are, together.”
“Your father is right,” Tara agrees, “home is a state of mind and you are at home wherever you are because we are all together.”
Tara could feel the children’s anxiety, as young as they are, Jessica and Godric are wise beyond their years. The Vampire and Witch offspring are unique in their abilities to emotionally connect to them, they can feel the concern, the danger looming near. The entire house could feel it too, the vampires, wolves, witches.
Without knocking, Cathy cracks open the door, slipping her head in slightly, “King Northman, My Supreme, Chancellor Nora is asking everyone to the great room,” her, soft, age-worn eyes gaze directly at Tara, looking into the Aether’s eyes dissolves her worry. The old woman smiles, not waiting for a response and gently closes the door. After a moment, Tara gets up from the bed, taking Godric with her.
“Come here Jessica,” Tara says and the little girl hops off the bed.
With both of them standing in front of her, she kisses them on the cheek, “Who loves you, babies?”
“You do!” They both say in unison.
“For how long?” She asks.
“Forever and ever.” They say.
“That’s right,” she beams at them.
The twins hug their mother while she peppers them with more kisses.
Eric scoops them both of them up onto his shoulders. The children squeal in delight as their very tall dad swiftly carries them out of the room. Outside the room, he gently places his little darlings down at his feet and lays his hands lightly on Tara’s shoulder, “My home is in your arms. I need only love of my Queen and I trust only you to give,” he kisses her forehead and she wraps her arms around him. “Call me and I come, ask and everything I am is yours.” His eyes show the kind of gentle concern and she is soothed by it.
“I love you too, ya big hot Viking, now let’s go lead our people.”
In the grand hall, the vampires are grouped in the large entryway. Franklin is pacing the foyer impatiently, eager to provide an update. He refuses to speak until he has everyone’s undivided attention.
The wolves, Alcide and his father Jackson are assembled in the center of the room. Jackson spent the entire time calling every single wolf he knew. Tara counted a total of twenty-two men, including Alcide. Besides Alcide and Jackson, uttering a few words to each other, the Beta’s and Warriors are communicating with eye movements and slight hand gestures.
The witches are seated at the round table. Adorned with magical charms the fledglings nervously reciting incantations. The High Priestesses Ruby, Luna, and Sookie stand at the head of the table, grimoires in hand, proudly appraising each girl.
“Ladies,” Ruby gathers the attention of the witches, “every emotion is okay, helpful in the right situation. The dark emotions are like salt, just a pinch adds flavor, yet too many ruins the entire dish. Envy can be motivation to better yo self, when combined with being a good sport and wanting what is best for others, it can bring positive results. A pinch of hate toward an abuser can lead to freedom and a positive life with one who truly loves in a protective and nurturing way. A pinch of greed can help you to hang on to things you need for yourself or loved ones in yo care. The trick of it all is to remember what is salt and what is food; the food is love, empathy, kindness, joy, compassion, nurture, protection, integrity... the salt is envy, hate, greed, anger, sloth... If you have vastly more food than salt, everything will be alright.”
“Right on, Auntie,” Tara cheers as she emerges from a white mist, a Supremes’ way of making a grand entrance. The display of magic serves as a morale booster for her brood, “Ladies, the moment you feel your power growing it will be like nothing you’ve ever felt before.”
“Cathy, please take the children to the kitchen,” Nora says to Cathy, The Chancellor didn’t want the smaller children to hear what she and Franklin had to say. Anyone sixteen has a full understanding and control of their magical abilities, so they are required to train. A witch is never forced into battle, the training is only for self-defense as a witch is always a target for hunters.
Cathy called over the small children of the Coven- Mavis, Emma, Micky, Lisa, Cody, and the Northman twins. She lures them with the pleasant smell of warm, freshly baked sugar cookies and hot cocoa.
“Any witch who wants no part of our fight is free to go,” Chancellor Naomi states, as she observes the unsure faces, she wants to give anyone who needed it a way out, “Please know that your participation is wanted, but not required, we’d never force anyone to risk their lives. Going into battle is something that one must be sure of.”
No one stood to leave, instead, the unsure faces morph into confident, determined faces and it was just in time. King Northman and his Authority of vampires enter the room with purpose, offering no words, their cold icy gazes peering at everything yet nothing at all.
“My interrogation of the captured wolf has confirmed, the flaming retard Russell Edgington is working for the ratbag, Salomé Agrippa,” Franklin crassly announces in his posh British accent, “That stupid slag must have promised him more gaudy dinner jackets or something. Anyway, Russell and the dethroned uber bitch is indeed responsible for the bombings at Fangtaisa. The only half-witted thing she’s managed to do is align herself with imbecile wolves and Witch hunters. As you all are well aware, her goal has always been to break down the budding relationship with the Covens and Dens. By doing so the vampires will be forced to revert to the dark ages of secrecy and mistrust. The Judean whore and those inbred witch hunters are motivated by vengeance they also want their ridiculous deity to take over this world...not going to happen.” Franklin says confidently.
Tara chuckles inwardly. ‘What a butthead.’
’Hey, that’s my butthead,′ Nora chuckles, responding to her thoughts.
“We must not allow evil to prevail!” Nora calls out to the Coven and allies, “Before going out to battle a spell of fortification power-driven by the natural element of Aether blood shall be placed, this will bond every one of us, witch, vampire, and wolf, enhancing our natural abilities.”
Tara takes her place in the drawn Vesica Pisces in the center of the room and Nora tosses a handful of Dead Sea salt at Aether’s feet, “salt of the earth cleanses, heals and balances energy.”
“Water from the fall,” Naomi sprinkles the magical water onto Tara’s feet, “symbolizing renewal, transcendence, and regeneration.
Ruby cut into her hand with a surgical blade, “blood from the body represents, heart, spirit, and soul,” she circles her niece allowing her blood to drip all around her.
“Aer ignis aqua nos tuere, Isidis nomine constituit Aethere!” The Anointed sisters chanted, Tara feels the jolt of synergy, a blue ring of fire billows up and around Aether; the Coven members repeat the chant as they gather around the Supreme absorbing the energy of the elements.
Tara’s supernatural alarm starts flashing, the visual disturbances frightens her, she clenches her fists tightly, until her nails dig into the palm of her hand. Since girlhood, the premonition has always been the same; Tara prays to Isis that the vision was wrong, she did not want to be taken down to the underworld. For Aether, these next few hours would either pass as a blip in the course of her life, or they would be the final trauma that breaks her.
Quickly, she scoops up her beloved enchanted feline who is never more than seven feet away from her. “Go do your job fəˈmilyər!” In protest, Misty burrs with agitation, the black cat wants to fight with her witch, “Go protect the twins.” Tara commands and Misty complies.
“Come with me children,” Cathy says while gathering all the children from the kitchen, with a few necessities in tow, she takes them to the fortified underground chamber. Ruby seals the door with a powerful protection spell passed down to her by the late Holly Cleary.
“They have the nerve to come here!?” Nora sneers out loud reading her Supremes thoughts. A second later the lights in the house start to flicker, all of the mystical dynamism is the cause.
The wolves growl and vampires hiss sensing the presence of enemies approaching.
“Sookie,” Bill drawls, “I’d like for you to join Cathy in the safety of the bunker.”
“You think I would do that and leave my sisters to fend for themselves?” Sookie fires back.
“I just want you to be safe.” He explains.
“You just don’t get it; you don’t know me at all,” she says giving him that look. ‘I doubt you ever will...’ He knows she will not obey him; he does not argue anymore and takes his place next to his King.
‘Thank you Sookie,’ Tara said to her best friend, ‘we need you.’
Just outside, Hank, the captured V-wolf turned snitch, escaped and was on the loose. He stole some cash out of Alcide’s house; and was near the road, preparing to hitch for a ride. Through the darkness came the glow of two yellow eyes, like sallow lamplight eight feet off the ground. They moved with a slight sway as if the unseen body prowled like a big cat. The monster, though bipedal, was an expert on all fours. Should it need to run it just lowered its forepaws to the dirt and sprang away as fast as any wolf in the darkness. This was one of those times, accelerating on all fours toward a person foolish enough to be wandering by moonlight. The monster was so efficient that there wasn’t even a scream, just the running of blood and a slumped form on the ground. Absalom’s pet is a hellhound and the beast has made its first kill of tonight.
Absalom has the hellhound guarding the parameter, if anyone tries to leave, they’ll be mauled to death by her beast. Absalom granted her minions the honor of killing a few witches, she knew that they’d save Aether for her. The witch-hunters share the desire of Absalom, they too want to watch Aether suffer as her Coven is destroyed. The wolves and vampires were mere collateral damage, the deity enjoys watching the lesser beings destroy each other. Right now, the deity is hungry, and the children in the basement smells mouthwatering. She cloaks herself and searches the mansion for her dinner. The moment the demon enters the house, the lights frantically flicker until they shut off completely and everyone is in momentary darkness.
“In lumine!” The witches shout in unison turning the lights back on, no sooner had they spoke the words, the enemies fires into the house. A blinding flash came from the point where the missile struck and a white cloud rose in the air. The attack was fierce, efficient and deadly.
Naomi is struck in the face by Maryanne, she feels the pain and sees the second blow come for her abdomen.
“Oh no, you don’t whore!” Tara lashes out and hits her with the force of a hurricane, the witch-hunter is cast clear across the room which was over sixty feet. Carl, Maryanne’s brother counters, with magic, he blasts Tara with all his might which is impressive for a male witch. He is filled with envy and hatred of witches. He knows only a female body is fully in tune with the cycle of the earth and only a woman can fully capture the ethereal realm; thus, no man can ever match the power of a magical woman.
“That stung like a sonofabitch!” Tara bellowed out, holding on to her deep laceration. She used her telekinesis and flung an entire table at the man, it hit him across the face and he was out cold.
Alcide and Jackson’s men shift into wolf form ensuing in a visceral fight against the opposing wolves. Although Russell’s wolves have some advantage with having just ingested Russell’s ancient blood, Alcide and Jackson’s wolves are skilled warriors and have been in battle many times.
The witches are armed with enchanted dust; when blown into the eyes, it blinds and disorientates humans. The challenge is getting close enough to the violent, weapon-wielding thugs.
Sookie is successful, blowing the dust into the face of a man attacking her. He chases the disoriented witch-hunter outside and immediately she finds herself face to face with two kinds of danger. The hellhound attacks indiscriminately killing the witch-hunter as Sookie runs for her life, she reaches the tool shed in the nick of time, the savage is done with the witch-hunter and is after her. The tool shed might as well not be there, the hellhound crashes in like a wrecking ball.
Lafayette knew Sookie was in danger, he could smell the beast outside, so he went after her and the hunter she was chasing. Pam followed, utterly miffed that her progeny would risk his afterlife to save such an insufferable gash.
Inside the nearly destroyed she-shed, Pam spots a crossbow hanging off the wall and shoots the beast in the ass. The beast is stunned, yelping as it crashes through the opposite wall.
“Now get your sassy-ass back in the house!” Pam orders her progeny.
Lafayette rolls his eyes at Pam while helping Sookie to her feet and they all speed back into the house.
“Do not go outside, Absalom has a hell hound on the loose,” Sookie warns the others.
“I’m about to send that sonofabitch back to hell!” says Tara, recalling her time in the dark realm, and since she cannot find Absalom, she went outside to destroy the horrible mongrel.
The vampires using their keen senses make their way forward, passing by all the carnage with lighting speed, their target, Salomé.
Pam is feeling very proud of Lafayette, he is a natural fighter, she watches her progeny leaping like a panther, landing on the back of one of Salomé vampires.
Russell attacks the first vampire he sees which is Bill, and goes for his head. A sudden gush of pain jolted throughout Bill’s body and then another and that was the fatal blow, Russell kills Bill and is on to the next vampire.
Eric is seeing the perfect target; he motions forward and eviscerates Talbot. The vampires’ guts spill out with a sickening splat before Eric finishes the handy work by ripping his heart out from its cavity.
Every step Russell took rattled his bones and struck his brain; if hatred was visible the air would have been scarlet. Then suddenly movement, so much force in every blow, Russell rained blows onto Eric as if he meant to smash him into the very earth and Eric did the same. This fight looks like a choreographed dance of destruction.
Salomé fights like a cornered rat skirting to the side in one fluid motion. Franklin rotated in her direction his mallet aimed for her head, but misses, slamming into the table. His menacing eyes were a blazing red as he watches the table splinter into a million pieces. Eggs swivels in her direction and one fluid movement, he decapitated her with an arming sword. Her body denigrates as her head falls and rolls.
“For father...” Franklin says spitting on Salomé’s remains.
“Diabolus tantum victui meo necessaria!” Absalom chants in vein, the dark-lord is being held by Isis, she must acquire her prey by different means.
Tara teleports back into the house after killing the hell-hound, finding the evil deity sniffing around the cellar door, “Hey-you muthafucken, rotten - egg smelling stank ass-bitch, you been in here searching for my children this whole time?!” A string of curses unraveled from her tongue, like yarn unfurling. Tara was beside herself with anger.
“Bow down to me Aether, and I shall spare your vampire and offspring.” Absalom lied, she didn’t just want Tara dead, she wanted her hope obliterated, her body destroyed so there is nothing left to bury.
“What a shitty offer, no deal bitch.” Tara knew the evil in front of her was a lair. The one who killed her mother, her friend’s.
As the creature advances towards her, she barely notices. The only thing she is aware of is the sound of her heart throbbing. She tried to dodge a swing from its massive claws, but it struck her side and she tumbled into the wall. She could hear nothing, all was silenced, the roars from the deity, the hissing vampires, growing wolves, all inaudible. All she could do is feel. Feel the cold ground pressed against her form, the heat from the pain, and the rhythm of the drum that would signal her end. She looked upward into the crystal chandeliers.
“Shit!” Tara bellowed out, but not from the pain.
Shit is the look on the face of the woman that finally realizes what just happened. Absalom is still very powerful, but her powers were limited. She was bound to fight with her hands, Aether was relieved, inside the house of Aether, Absalom is unable to throw the dark magic force-fields that rip the flesh from bones.
We got to knuckle up the old fashion way!
Tara, recalls the spell of Azalea and begins to chant the incantation, “Nomine etiam Isidis saepe in nobis duabus animabus scarafice cor signare porta usque in sempiternum!”
Nora hears Tara’s thoughts and witnesses what just happened and she goes for it, “Go back to hell!” She screams, flying, forward knocking Absolom back into a wall.
With lightings speed, Absalom rises to her feet and flies directly to Nora, “Your soul is mine,” she drags her razor-sharp claws across Nora’s throat. The witch gasps, closing her eyes as she feels a searing pain, her very last; blood strews everywhere, the gash is so deep her head is barely attached to her. Absalom laughs as the blood drizzles at her feet, adamant her failing heartbeat would cease to beat soon. Franklin wails out in horror and he rushes forward with all his might. Absalom whips around, effortlessly, slashing his neck, she makes sure this time she takes his head. The vampire’s head falls from his neck, bursting on the floor like a melon, his body disengaging into a puddle of blood.
For a moment, time stood still, all the blood around Absalom bubbles upward, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” the deity cries out, this was not supposed to happen. She’s startled like a deer in the woods, almost toppling as she took a large step backward. The entire house quakes, fixtures tumble as people scramble to get out of the way of the falling object. The ground beneath her feet turns into a black pus-like substance, swarming around her. The bubbling crude opens like a mouth and swallows her whole like a snake does a rat. “I’ll find a way to destroy you!” she spits yellow venom from her vile mouth before she is completely engulfed by her own evil.
“Well, I’ll be damned!” Ruby covered Nora’s remains with her cloak, “Their blood, the blood of two bonded souls and one beating heart...The hell mouth is closed forever!”
Ruby’s voice snaps Tara out of her stupor and she pans around the room. She knows it’s over, but the sight of all the pain, carnage, and loss causes the remaining thread of strength fray before breaking completely. She fought to reclaim control over her body, shocked by the sounds escaping from deep within her chest.
Eric scooped her up into his arms and she cries uncontrollably into his chest.
A few hours later...
The dawn sent shimmering rays over the docile pond, bestowing a golden path from the pasture to the horizon.
“Come here little girl,” Sookie calls out to a wolf pup running aimlessly around the parameter, “Come here little girl,” Sookie calls out again, but the little pup kept up her pace, trotting several feet in front of her.
Tara teleports adjacent to Sookie, rather startling the shell-shocked woman, “Her name is Hanna,” Tara says, placing a comforting hand on Sookie’s shoulder, “she’s looking for that vampire named Talbot. She’s hoping that he’s alive and her father Hank is dead.”
Here Tara read her mind, Hanna stops, curiosity compels the pup to look and she turns to face the witches.
“Hanna, I’m sorry, your vampire owner is dead and so is your father. Talbot was a very bad vampire, and it seems Hank lost his way, but you’re with good friends now.” Tara kneeled, extending her arms, “Come,” Tara motions for the pup to come to her.
Hanna whimpered and shook, that was her only way to remove the witch from her mind. Of course, it did not work, so the frightened were-pup took off into the pasture. Tara huffs and then teleports.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” Tara says scooping the baby-wolf up in her arms. The wolf yelps and howls as she struggles within Tara’s firm hold. “You’ll be fine Hanna; you’ll see, I know an Alpha who will take good care of you. She teleports straight to Alcide’s cabin.
A few weeks later...
Often in life, I have been called strong. Though I know they mean it as a compliment my heart sinks and there is a wave of sadness in my soul when I hear it. For what I show is a forced resiliency, a way I’ve had to be my entire life just to survive. It took everything in me just to get out of bed this morning, I shower, but I don’t groom, attempting to reverse my steps back to my bed.
Somehow, I make it over to my coven, I’m greeted by Alcide’s remodeling workers as they are busily making repairs to our severely damaged house. In the kitchen, trepidation has my stomach locked up tight, nothing getting in or out.
“Good morning, Ruby, Naomi,” I say managing a smile.
“Morning Niecy,” Ruby greets me warmly while casually sipping tea.
My eyes fix on Naomi, her emotional pain flows out of every pore. Dismay sets my face like rigor mortis, my teeth locked tight together. Naomi has taken a vow of silence and has not spoken a single word since that night. I don’t blame her, we lost so many the first time, this time only a few, but the loss of Nora was shocking, devastating. I envy the vampires and wolves. The way they cope with death is something I’ve yet to achieve. To them loss is a part of life, I have yet to accept this, to me life is sacred and should not be unfairly taken. That night Naomi cried until there was nothing left inside but a raw emptiness that nibbles at her insides like a hungry rat. for her, there was no beauty left in the world sending her plummeting over the edge and into the darkness. Hysterical sobs shook her thin frame, threatening to tear her apart from the inside.
“I don’t understand why I was chosen to be Aether ...Nora’s the one who’s the most dedicated, the most selfless, Nora was the one who defeated Absalom, all I’ve done is fail.”
“All I’ve done is fail,” Ruby repeats me in a gallingly mocking tone, “Girl, bye! You feeling survivors’ remorse. What happened-happened and all you can do now is keep it moving for the folks still here.”
“Ruby, why do you mock my pain.”
“Child, life is a pain! Anyone who says differently is lying out they ass!” She gave her a sassy eye-roll before finishing the last of her tea and leaving the kitchen.
“Tara, my Supreme,” Naomi clears her throat and lifts her gaze to meet mine, “My best friend, the woman I met as a teenage witch has always been the same sweet, carefree Nora. That all changed the moment Eric brought you to us, it’s because of you she became the dedicated, disciplined selfless witch...she became what she was meant to be. She did what had to be done,” Naomi takes a few deep breaths to keep her emotions at bay, “Tara, the coven is a balance of wood and water, Nora was gasoline and I’m her air, and you, my Aether are fire. You ignited us, don’t ever doubt that.”
I start to cry as I watched her exit the room. She walked taller; her stride was lighter, more untroubled. The weight lifted from my shoulders as if an overly large child had just leaped off after a satisfying piggyback ride. I blink toward the sun coming through the window, that brought me a day I was never promised, yet I was glad to see. I notice how the white light of the morning streams and I let the moment sink in, soothe me; this meant a new beginning was possible and possibilities meant hope.
I may not be the hero that I’m expected to be but I do the best I can.
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