I ran outside, the cool night air hitting me, goose bumps tingling my skin. I needed to find Naomi before she officially called the wedding off. I had no idea where she'd run off to, but I'd be damned if I didn't obey my promise to Rose.
Rose. I could tell she was conflicted with her decision, but I was unable to come up with a way to extract the truth from her. I panicked, and now I wasn't sure if I should've gone after Naomi. Rose was obviously trying to do the honorable thing, and it drove me crazy. She was selfless to the point of giving up her own happiness for someone else, even a stranger. I was a mess of emotions and had absolutely no idea what to do.
Without realizing where I was going, I had wandered toward the edge of the protected ground, literally a few yards from the wards. I sighed; maybe a good patrol was what I needed to clear my mind. I had no idea where to find Naomi and honestly, I didn't know if I'd be able to face her at this point. She most likely hated me and I wasn't sure if I could handle that. I cared about her, I truly did, but I didn't love her like I thought I did, Rose had proved just that.
"AAAAAAAAGH!" I ear piercing shriek sliced through the heavy silence. I froze, trying to determine the location of the source. "HELPPP!" It was Naomi and she was close by.
I took off towards her, pushing my legs as hard as they could go. When I finally did find her, it was too late. There were about a dozen Strigoi, marching towards the Palace. I wasn't sure whether or not to attack until I saw one Strigoi, sucking the life out of an unconscious Naomi. Her skin was far paler than it had ever been and she hung limply in his grasp, her chest barely moving as she struggled to inhale and exhale.
I threw myself into motion, going full speed ahead at the Strigoi, ripping him off her and throwing him against the protective wall that encompassed Court. The Strigoi hissed, its mouth smudged with her blood, circling me, trying to get near Naomi. I grabbed her and set her behind me, never taking my eyes off the advancing Strigoi.
I suddenly realized that I would most likely not make it out of this alive. At least I'd die protecting the ones I loved, though I knew that once I was down, Naomi had no chance. I'd die failing, but at least I'd die with honor and courage, something that I'd always hoped for.
I threw myself into action, dodging multiple attacks while trying to deal the same. I took a few blows but blocked most. I had managed to stake three, but I was tired and had already taken a few blows to the head, I could feel the blood oozing out of a forehead wound, that's when when I saw her. She was like an angel of death, charging towards the fight, stake at the ready. Rose.
I felt my heartbeat quicken at the sight of her. Beautiful couldn't properly depict her devastatingly magnificent splendor. She was effervescently gorgeous, but in battle, she was more than that. As I fought I watched her in my peripheral vision, taking in her deadly grace and lethal beauty. She was beautifully deadly, a poison apple.
That's when I saw a Strigoi sneak up on her from behind. I felt my gut twist as I tried to form the words to warn her but it was too little, too late. The Strigoi grabbed her from behind, snapping back her neck and sinking in her teeth. It happened in what seemed slow motion, but took less than a second. Rage embraced me as I quickly dispatched the Strigoi I was fighting and charged the brunette woman who was slowly sucking the life from the love of my life.
The sobbing slowly ceased, I had run out of tears. I knew I looked horrible, but I couldn't find it in me to care. I debated whether to go in my room and lay down or go patrol the wards, finally deciding to patrol. If I was going to be miserable I might as well be miserable and useful instead of loafing around like a lump on a log. I was going to appear strong and carefree no matter how awful I felt.
With that, I picked myself up and forced my legs to make their way outside. I sighed; this was going to be the worst patrol ever. I mulled over the night's events as I walked the wards, sticking close to the edge but making sure never to leave the safety of the borders. I pondered how tragic my life really was, and honestly, if I had nothing to live for, was life worth living? I had no charge; I had given up the love of my life, and no honor. I had managed to alienate my best friend, forfeited my lover, and had shirked the motto I had vowed to uphold.
"AGGGHHH!" I froze. "HELLLPPP!" Without a moment's hesitation, I took off towards the screams, thanking the Lord that I had thought to bring my stake. The plea seemed far away, distant, but not too far away that I couldn't help.
I pushed my legs harder, desperate to aid whoever was in need. I didn't know who I was running towards, or what kind of situation I was throwing myself into, but I knew one thing, someone needed help and I'd be damned if I didn't aid them. I listened for any other screams or noise to help me pinpoint the location of the distress. I sprinted along the wards, searching for Strigoi, praying that I'd make it there in time.
What I found scared the shit out of me. Dimitri fighting nine Strigoi, injured and obviously tiring, guarding a half-dead Naomi with teeth marks in her neck. I didn't even hesitate as I came to the rescue. I knew that the odds were against us, but if I died saving Dimitri or Naomi, I'd die peacefully and knowing that I'd done the right, and for me, that was enough.
I threw myself at the closest Strigoi, catching it by surprise and staking it through the back. I had already started fighting the next one when it hit the ground. It went on like this for a while. Dimitri and I fought hard, he guarded Naomi and stayed defensive while I was more offensive and moved around much more, taking on two at a time.
That's when it happened. Things had just started to look up when I was grabbed from the back. I hadn't noticed a brunette girl sneaking up from behind. I struggled for a moment, shocked at how strong she was. I was in no position to move, she had beaten me fair in square. I guess it had never really occurred to me that I could die. She sunk her teeth in and the most peaceful, beautiful bliss showered over me, my worries faded away and everything seemed to be in slow motion. I watched Dimitri stake the Strigoi he was fighting. I heard him scream my name, I tried to open my mouth and tell him I was perfectly fine but for some reason I couldn't make my mouth work. I distantly felt myself be picked up and tossed over someone's shoulder, but I didn't protest. The endorphins kept me docile and high as a kite.
"You're going to be a wonderful addition." It was the brunette Strigoi
talking. I puzzled over her words for a moment before giving up. I was in no way capable of figuring out what she meant, at least not at the moment.
We ran for a while. I wasn't sure where, but the constant jostling slowly pulled me out of the drug-induced haze. I was aware that monsters were abducting me, but she had taken too much blood, and I was too weak to move. I was trapped in my own body. Occasionally I would hear Dimitri yell my name, I knew he was close, but he slowly faded and I could tell I was doomed, he couldn't keep up with the speed and grace of the deadly Strigoi.
I felt a tear slide down my cheek as I realized I was going to die, and this time, there would be no Spirit users to revive me. Dimitri couldn't save me, and the Guardians wouldn't send a search party out for one dhampir who wasn't even a Guardian. I was going to die and I'd never get to do so much. I'd never kiss Dimitri again, or hug Adrian, or go shopping with Lissa, or make fun of Christian. I was so young, there was so much I haven't seen or done. Death was such a disappointment, full of regret. I was going to die at the hands of a Strigoi, at least I'd die for a cause.
Eventually I was thrown in the back of a dark van with my appendages bound so that I could only lie on my side and stare at the inky blackness, unable to make out anything, even with my advanced dhampir sight. I could feel myself drifting off, and as I slowly lost consciousness, I sent a silent prayer to God or any other higher power, that I'd wake up again.
Rose's face showed serenity and peace, no signs of struggle or pain. I winced, knowing that it was the endorphins but sick to my stomach anyway. Before I could reach her, two more Strigoi grabbed me, shoving me back and attempting to restrain me. I staked one quickly, it was obviously younger, judging by its sloppy fighting and easy openings. She was probably a human in her past life.
The other, however, was harder. A young, blonde girl, previously a trained dhampir, judging by her fighting style and skill level, and a very old Strigoi, was difficult to stake. I had to put all of my effort and focus to survive. The world around me faded as I focused on each move, each opening, each punch, kick, blow, dodge. It was draining. Finally, my stake hit its mark. I had won.
Immediately I surveyed the area around me, looking for Rose. She was gone. All that was left were twelve bodies, eleven Strigoi and Naomi. I collapsed next to Naomi, checking her pulse. Nothing. Naomi was dead and Rose was missing. I stood up, determined to find Rose. They couldn't have been that far off, could they have?
I raced out of the wards, desperately searching for their trail. I could see a constant splattering of blood on the ground, obviously Rose's. I followed it for what seemed like miles, but it was to no avail. Finally, I reached a trail that led to a street leading into town. The blood trail ended there. They had taken her.
I distantly felt my legs give up from under me as my chest wracked sobs over the loss of my soul mate. I knew that her cause was futile. Tatiana wouldn't send a rescue mission for one dhampir, especially not for a rogue hunter that she particularly dislikes. I had no idea where Rose was being taken, but I knew she didn't have long to live. It was hopeless. She was as good as dead.
The sobs came harder as I thought of how I'd spent my last moments with her. I'd given up on her. Twice. I was a sorry excuse for a man. I thought of her smile, her laugh, her wit and charm, her deadly grace and sarcastic nature. I thought of how much I'd miss her and the tears came harder.
I thought of every beautiful moment I'd had with her, relived them, memorized them, and stored them for later. Dreading having to pick myself back and make my way back to Court. Living without Rose wasn't living at all, it was a pathetic excuse, one that I wasn't sure I could tolerate. What was the point of living if you had no one to live for?
That's when I remembered something. Rose's loyalty to Lissa. It sent a wave of guilt over me. I was sitting here sobbing when I had a charge to protect. Rose wouldn't have wanted me to mope around, she would've wanted me to get up and go do something about it. She would've wanted me to protect Lissa. Already using her in the past tense hurt me and I faltered in getting up, squatting for a moment before raising myself up.
I was going to do something about it. I was going to bring back Rose safe and sound if it killed me. With that single thought of determination, I sprinted off back to Court, brainstorming ideas on how to get a lead on Rose's whereabouts.