Chapter 29: The Death of a Loved One
He was playing me—I knew he was.
The sudden act of kindness and show of respect was suspicious, and while I spent hours wondering what kind of game he was trying to play at, I spent that much longer cleaning rooms and dusting off furniture.
Every single place that I stepped foot in, in this house, I was reminded of how strange and quickly things had changed. Nothing was the same.
From the mere way the others who were a part of Erebus’ empire looked at me to the way that they silenced at my presence as a sort of sign of respect made me uneasy and seemed to only distract me further.
I wanted to believe that perhaps Erebus had a change of heart, but I also recalled how desperate he was to learn more about that witch and I wondered if this was a way of him getting me to warm up to him and spill the truth.
Unfortunately, for him, he wasn’t getting anything out of me.
I wasn’t stupid nor was I blind. I hoped he got that hint when he saw that I left the blood bag he pathetically offered to me planted on his desk.
He was a monster, and he made that quite clear when he tried to…
When he tried to do whatever he had in mind that day that I idiotically revealed and confirmed Doraime’s identity.
Regardless, this wouldn’t change anything. There was so much more to her that he was so ignorant to, and he could kneel to show me respect and I still wouldn’t give in. There was only one thing he could do to make me tell him what he wanted to know: give me my freedom.
Finally, it was the last hour before my curfew. Between the other slaves and myself, the mansion had been cleaned, spotless. I had been gathering the last pair of silverware and placing them in their place of belonging when I heard a very low humming coming from the dining room. I wasn’t startled. It was so light and peaceful that I was only curious and oddly eager to see from whom it came from.
I had already made my assumptions before gently stepping into the other room and finding that I was right.
It was a relief to see her again. After all, the last time I had gotten so close to her was the day that Mardel and Zeus caught her sneaking around in the dungeon. I was worried for her. After all, Erebus did seem very upset with her. However, judging by how well she was taken care of, I knew she more than likely didn’t receive anything more than a scolding.
With a warm smile on my face and gentle steps, I emerged into the room, edging closer to her. She had been sitting in one of the chairs, coloring in what appeared to be a coloring book as she clung onto her teddy bear with her unoccupied arm.
“It’s beautiful,” I stated as I came within clear sights of the page she drew colors on. I assumed that she had been very focused on what she was doing because the moment she heard my voice, she literally jumped out of her seat, but never did she loosen her grip on the stuffed animal in her hand.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I-It’s okay,” she breathed out in relief. She studied me for a while, silently thinking to herself. I could tell that she was trying to avoid me, even before she began to gather her things to get away from me.
“Here,” I offered her my hand. “Let me help you.”
“N-No. It’s okay,” she quickly refused, shaking her head as she closed the coloring book and finished packing the crayons into the crayon box.
The minute she was done, after having taking her stuff into her hands, her soft features shifted and she seemed utterly sad.
“Are you alright?” I asked in sincere concern.
She never answered, or at least, she never spoke up. Her eyes betrayed her in every way. I could see why even if distant, Erebus knew his little sister very well: her eyes told everything.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“N-Nothing. I-I’m okay,” she lied. At that point, she avoided looking at me in the eye. Her gaze fell away, staring at the floor as she turned away from me. She mumbled, “Good-bye, Miss Hope.”
I was taken aback, and for a moment, I was hurt. I wondered just how much Erebus told her to get her to stay away from me, and for some reason, it burdened me greatly. I felt a strange, strong connection to Kevin, and to see her distance herself from me...I wanted to hurt Erebus more than I already did.
I would never lay a finger on that little girl…
Yes, I was angry and despised him. However, I knew better than to mess with his family. Even before he threatened me, I knew never to stoop that low. He didn’t have to frighten her into stirring away from me.
A heavy sigh passed my lips, a deep breath being all I needed to control my temper. I glanced at the clock hanging on the wall across from me, staring at it as the minute hand slowly struck twelve and the hour hand locked on six.
It was time for me to go to bed.
The sun would soon rise and I knew that Erebus and all others would be going to bed, and those left behind would be the day guards that roam the empty halls to protect the others that rest.
I wanted to be left behind.
Several times, as I walked through the halls of this home, I could feel the presence of another watching from the other side. I had regained the strength to control my ability, but even as I toyed with it, flickering my second sight on and off from time to time, I saw no one. I saw no one because those watching me were those that I knew were with Doraime. And, every time that I stepped foot into the hall that held the door to the dungeon, I had the urge to walk in.
I wanted to speak to her. I wanted to see what it was that she wanted and why she may or may not have been captured at her desire.
She was a very interesting person, and I knew I wouldn’t find out what she was playing at unless she wanted me to find out.
That was how all necromancers were. Or, at least, those that remained alive were. My grandmother told me that they loved to play games, toying with other people’s minds for their own amusement. Yes, they always had a plan, but they liked to have fun while achieving whatever it was that they had in mind.
Now, this idiot had doomed us all.
The heels of my shoes clicked, echoing down the empty halls as I left the dining room. I was late to curfew, but I knew no one had noticed as...if anyone had...I would’ve been found by then and more than likely have been escorted to Erebus in shackles.
The lifeless corridors could have fooled me into believing that I was alone in the mansion—there was not a guard in sight. Even as the door to the dungeon came into view, the hall remained empty—another reminder of how ignorant Erebus was.
He left an all-powerful witch in an empty room with no guard standing on the other side of what I knew was an unlocked door.
Does he really believe that the effects of the Black Lotus will be enough to keep her at bay..?
At first, I hesitated. I hesitated when I thought about walking into the room. However, once I decided to do so, I never looked back, afraid that if I did, it would be more likely for me to get caught. Often, I did things I knew I was not supposed to and I did those things with confidence because I learned that when others saw even the slightest lack thereof, they took power over you. They focused more on what you were doing and they used that insecurity that you held and their authority to break you down into nothing.
“Do what is necessary,” Doraime’s voice echoed through the dark, empty hall that followed after I shut the door behind me.
“The death of a loved one,” she added. “The little girl is the one he holds dearest.”
I knew she could not see me: I stood in the darkness while her complete attention had been drawn away for she was occupied speaking to what would appear as empty space to the blind eye.
Or, at least, I thought she couldn’t.
By the time I managed to wake my gifted eyes, there was nothing left to see: the person whom Doraime spoke to had vanished.
I never had time to wonder how she got in contact with the others on the other side without her magic. I also never got to question her for it.
“Silver,” she acknowledged my presence, turning her head to look at me.
My breath got stuck in my throat, and for a moment, I wondered if I had done right by coming in here and confronting her. I feared her with no doubt in my mind, but somehow, she didn’t seem so scary when she stood a few feet away from me, chained with little to no magic sparking in her veins.
With the fear in me quivering, I exhaled a shaky breath and began my steady movements forward, coming closer to her by the second. It wasn’t long before I was standing directly before her and we stood silent, staring at each other.
After a moment’s pause, a light chuckle erupted from the back of her throat. “I see you are...well,” she breathed out.
“Were you expecting differently?” I asked as I furrowed my eyebrows at her, narrowing my eyes on her.
“Slightly,” she admitted.
I didn’t see it before, and never did it cross my mind. I always thought that because of who my parents are, who my family is, no one would ever do me harm. People were supposed to be afraid of me because of what may happen to them if they stuck by my side. However, that wasn’t the case here.
“You brought me here on purpose, didn’t you?” I growled.
A sly smirk broke her lips, the face of betrayal surfacing. She stated, “I needed someone to rid of the king for me.”
“Rid of the king? I c—”
“Not you,” she interjected.
“My father..?” my voice trailed off. I felt my heart sink to my stomach, a sickening feeling lingering at the back of my throat in realization of how I had suddenly become a part of her game—a pawn.
“So this was your punishment? Slavery?” she questioned in a hint of disbelief and pure amusement. “He should’ve killed you. He would’ve had a better chance of living if he’d hidden your body well.”
She was right...absolutely right.
“What do you want?” I spat in anger. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have the power to demand for answers, but when Doraime responded, I was also reminded that I was far from being the person in power and control in the room.
“I want Erebus dead. I want my coven’s freedom,” she said. The smirk on her face faded, and I knew then that she was utterly honest about what she claimed.
She was also a slave, in a way. In both worlds, witches were not respected. They were hated because they were feared for the simple fact that they didn’t need to touch you to kill you. They had the power to manipulate your mind and heart into killing doing the job for their hands.
“Whether Erebus is king or not, that’ll never happen,” I stated. “Not while vampires remain the dominant species.”
“That is where you are wrong,” she sighed. “As long as the king’s brother is a Seeker, we will never be free.”
It was all adding up, and the truth both angered me and petrified me.
“If you kill Erebus…” my voice trailed off.
“His brother will kill me,” she added.
Doraime’s gaze briefly shifted to a side, the reflection of another catching in her eyes. For a moment, I was taken aback—I hadn’t heard or sensed anyone come in. However, thinking back to when I walked in, I heard her speaking. Then, I was convinced there was someone here with her.
Not to the blind eye…
I took a deep breath, allowing my mind to slip beyond the nature of what I knew was around me. My body quivered, my heart dropping to my stomach as I turned my head to a side and finally saw what and who Doraime had contacted.
It frightened me that she could do this without her majic...unless the Black Lotus wasn’t working and she had never been forced to relinquish hold of it.
“You know that little girl?” she chuckled. “What’s her name? Kevin? Such a sweetheart. It’s a shame the remnant of her time will...vanish.”
With that, the two women that stood nearly identical to each other vanished along with the strong hold of their presence that revealed to me who they were.
I didn’t have time to think or dwell on what I knew was about to happen. I had to act quick, so I ran. I ran like hell, away from Doraime’s sight and out of the dungeon.
Unfortunately, as usual, everywhere I stepped there was something to question why I still lived.
“Hope?” Erebus’ voice rang in my ears as I stumbled into his chest and halted with his hold.
Being the least of my concerns, I hardly bothered to so much as glance up at him. I couldn’t tell whether or not in that moment he decided that me breaking curfew would be small enough for him to forget, if he’d ever, but I didn’t care.
I frantically looked passed him, searching the hall in hope that I’d find her roaming around as she usually does despite knowing she should not.
“Where’s Kay?” I breathed out.
“Why?” Erebus asked, his voice quivering with strong defense, but I wasn’t hearing him.
I ignored every sign and sense that I should stop and try to explain if I wanted to go through another day without being punished.
He’d be angry...regardless.
“Kay?!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I ran passed Erebus and down the hall. I turned to the following corridor, ran into the throne room where my feet suddenly froze and my breath caught in my lungs.
For a while, I couldn’t move. I stared at the innocent girl pressing a knife against the side of her neck and it was as if the world and time ran faster and all I could do was hold my breath. The haze in Kevin’s eyes was a clear sign that she wasn’t completely with here, with me, and as I stared closer at her neck, I noticed just how tightly she was being held from this world. Drops of blood slid down to her shoulders, soaking the collar of her pink nightgown.
I wanted to approach her, to pull the knife from her hand but I was afraid that if I so much as took a step forward, whatever had its hold on her would drive her to do what I didn’t want to so much as admit to myself.
“Hey, sweety,” I whispered, gulping the knot slowly forming at the edge of my throat. “Look at me.”
When I saw that she was slowly pulling back into this world, back into this plain of existence, I began to edge toward her. Her eyes slowly regained their hazel flare, and as I took the final step to near her, I heard her mumble, “H-Hope..?”
She turned her sight to me, willingly handing me the knife as I knelt before her and pulled her hand away from her neck. With this, I felt a relief like no other. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end.
“Erebus!” Genesee came barging through the throne room, an angered look plastered on her face. She had her attention set elsewhere, but the moment she saw what would appear to her as me holding a knife against Kevin, she growled and I had already anticipated her attack before she could so much as take a step forward.
Nonetheless, she wasn’t the one I feared. The one I feared was the man who stormed in through the same entrance I did, followed by the two men that never seemed to leave him alone: Zeus and Mardel.
“What the hell is going on?!” Erebus snarled at Genesee. He hadn’t yet turned to look at me until he saw that she wouldn’t dare shift her glare from me. Then, I understood the kind of power Doraime had. I understood what she had done and why she did this.
Erebus kills me...and…
I was snatched away from Kevin, Erebus taking a handful of my hair and pulling me up to my feet and away from her. A loud yelp was ripped from my lungs as Erebus slammed me against the wall, the back of my head breaking against the wood.
“What the hell did you do?!” he snarled at me.
As much as I wanted to defend myself, I couldn’t. Not when my second sight allowed me to see what he couldn’t. Not while my second sight showed me that in the end, Imay have not been the one Doraime was after. Or, perhaps, I may have not been the only one she was after.
“Answer me!” he yelled, taking a hold of my neck and squeezing tightly as he pinned me against the wall.
I wondered why no one took Kay away. I wondered why they allowed her to stand there while they saw that she had a cut in her neck. Harmless, but the cut was there. I wondered how a misunderstanding could lead to even Genesee wanting to see Erebus kill me.
“She’s going to kill her…” I mumbled out.
Erebus’ eyebrows had furrowed but I couldn’t quite tell whether it was because he thought I was lying and my lies were making him angrier, or because he really did hear me but couldn’t understand me.
“Kay…” I cried. “Get her out!”
Whether it was the tears in my eyes or the sound of my voice, I had gotten Erebus to think outside of the anger he was feeling toward me and he glanced back at his little sister as he called, “Kevin?”
She didn’t move. She never moved.
I could see those women...the ones that Doraime had been speaking to prior to me encountering her in the dungeon. They stood before Kevin with those damned hunter’s knives that I knew would kill her. Those damned hunter’s knives that I knew would suppress her healing ability long enough for the wounds to kill her.
I saw their movement, both of them lifting their arms to throw what I knew would mean the end of that sweet little girl.
“No!” I screamed, and somehow, Erebus had let go. He couldn’t see the danger, not the way I could, but he let me go.
I had ripped away from his hold and ran with everything inside me to push Kevin away, against the wall as my back took the hits for her. I felt the knives pierce my flesh, one of which I knew had done what Doraime wanted.
For a moment, I couldn’t hear a thing. Nothing could tear me away from the deep look I had on Kevin’s eyes until I heard a scream rip from her lungs and hysteric cries broke from her lips. Tears ran down her cheeks, her eyes staring down at what I knew was the sight of two blades sunk so deep into me that they broke through the skin on my chest and allowed me to bleed the little blood that I had in me.
“Hey, you’re okay,” I tried to calm her. “It’s ok—”
Blood filled my mouth, cutting me off as it blocked my airway and spat from my tongue with every cough that I made to attempt to keep breathing.
When Kevin had finally been taking into Zeus’ arms, I was only able to glance up at him until Erebus took me into his arms. I felt him draw the knives from my back, and he laid me down as he yelled over me. He yelled, angrily, but I couldn’t hear over the ringing in my ears.
Quickly, it rang louder. It rang until I tried to call Erebus but the blood continued to cut me off.
I saw him glance down at me. He knew the knife had cut through my heart. He knew that I would die in his arms.
With the blood quickly filling my lungs, it was only a matter of time before I could no longer breathe and the fight in me had been rendered useless.
Don’t let go…
My eyes rolled to the back of my head and the darkness I was desperate to stay away from quickly devoured me.