I was torn between my longing for companionship and desire for support and protection on the one hand, and a sincere lack of trust in the men before me, promising to help on the other. When the world turns to anarchy, it’s hard to trust even your next-door neighbor. But there I was in a situation I needed to trust three men that promised alliance while I was finding it hard to even read their thoughts. I sure did want their company, though. I was tired of going it alone. I had been at it for days, feeling isolated, and I knew I might not know everything I would need to know to push further. The bottom line was that I knew where I was headed and nothing was going to stop me from getting there. Not even something as unforgivable as betrayal.
I walked over to the stall were I left my book; it was still in the duffle bag. I didn’t take my eyes off of Marcus. I reached through the railing and grabbed the bag, pulling it through. Cyrus stood uneasily; I could feel how tense he was. And while I looked at Marcus, Cyrus didn’t stop looking at me. Maybe he was thinking that I didn’t trust them and that I would strike one of them, but honestly that was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t want to kill them. I wanted to kill Daniel and nobody was going to stand in my way.
I walked over to the abandoned building that appeared to be a slaughtering shack. I didn’t say a word and kept my attention on my task. I would only waste precious time by talking or fighting with them. I needed to collect weapons: anything that would help me against Daniel’s army. The slaughtering shack had plenty to give me.
“What are you doing, Trinity?” Marcus asked, confused.
I reached for the door knob and tried to turn it, but it was locked. I took a step back and kicked the door open. It swung open, hitting the wall behind it, breaking the window of glass in the door. Glass fell and shattered as it hit the floor. I stared at it for a minute, remembering the last time glass was at my feet. That time, Gerviase was the cause of glass shards being strewn around me – and one of them ended his life.
“You’re here to help me, right?” I walked inside.
The room was smaller than I had imagined. There was an old, rusted metal triangle table in the middle of the room; it reminded me of an old operating table. There was a yellow refrigerator in the corner, its door hanging from its hinges and inside it was completely empty. Sharp objects hung from the ceiling.
The others followed behind me but stopped and blocked the doorway. Their leader, at this point in time, was Marcus. They would not move without his say so, they would not strike without his orders.
I pulled my duffle bag on the table and started grabbing anything sharp that would fit inside. I didn’t know if I would need them but I didn’t want to be without something if the time called for it.
“Look. You guys have two choices: either you can help me or you can leave. It’s as simple as that.”
“You’re so sure that you know what you’re doing.” Marcus walked over to me and grabbed my arm. “What aren’t you telling us?”
I paused and looked at him. “It’s not a great feeling not knowing what’s going on, huh?”
He frowned at me. “Look. I’m sorry…”
I cut him off. “I know where Daniel is.” I pulled my arm loose from his grip. “So if you’re here to help me, great. But if you’re not, and you’re just here to kill me, you should know that Daniel wants me alive.” He looked surprised. “I know its news to me too. But since that’s where I’m going, you can make sure I get there in one piece. How’s that?” I proceeded to grab anything that was within arms length. “Now instead of talking, why don’t you start by taking anything that’ll help us?”
Marcus looked over at Jessup and Cyrus who were awaiting their orders. He nodded and they walked in. “So it’s as simple as that, huh?” I said sarcastically.
“What are you talking about?” Marcus questioned.
“You give them a little nod and they do as their told? Doesn’t that get a little old?”
He let out a breath. “Trinity, in this type of situation there has to be a leader. Without a leader there will be complete confusion. One person will want to do one thing and another something completely different. We need order. Without order there will be chaos. These men trust that I know the right thing to do.”
“And if they question it?” I raised my eyebrow. “Then what?”
“Then they will question me. This is a democracy; we’re not in an army and I am not a drill sergeant. I do the best I can in the time I have. If I think one of them has a better plan, then we will do that.”
“And what about Alex? You obey him, don’t you?”
“Yes, and Alex takes the same approach. He knows more than I do. Regardless of my affiliations with Daniel, I would follow Alex to the ends of the earth if he asked me to.” I couldn’t believe it was that simple. In this madness, they were all friends – real friends. But I still thought they should be free to make their own decisions.
“I see,” I muttered.
“Trinity, like I said before, we don’t want to harm you. We are, and will always be, here to help you.” Marcus grabbed a long wooden handled axe. “Where is he?”
“Um, actually Alex.”
“He’s under Daniel’s feet,” I said softly but not quiet enough that it was a whisper.
He stopped what he was doing and looked at me baffled. “What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that he has him in some kind of dungeon or chamber under where he sits. I guess to continually watch him. I don’t know, but it’s pretty sick.”
“Where are we going?” Cyrus asked as he grabbed a short butcher’s knife.
“It’s a club in Phoenix called Diavolo Della Notte.”
“Devil of the Night?” Marcus asked under his breath.
“What did you say?” I stopped moving and looked at him surprised.
“Diavolo Della Notte is Italian for Devil of the Night. I just find it strange that he would use Italian words when it’s not his heritage and you’re not Italian.”
“Not exactly true. My adopted parents where Italian,” I told him. I didn’t understand where he was going with this.
“That’s why. He knew you were brought up Italian. He chose that name so you would know…”
“That makes sense because it just opened up about a year ago. Well, it’s nice to see he’s put his father’s name to good use.” We all shared a smile.
“So he must have opened it up after they found out your location. He needed to keep tabs on you and that gave him a good front,” Jessup said from the background.
I zipped up my bag and started walking out. The men followed. I finally knew where I was going and I didn’t care what would happen to me when I got there. I wanted to face Daniel, I wanted to see him in all his glory, and I wanted to see if he lived up to the hype. I wanted to look into his eyes and show him that I was still alive and kicking harder than ever. That the men he trained for centuries couldn’t defeat me no matter how hard they tried and regardless of how many they sent after me. I wondered if he, Daniel, without his protectors, could actually stand up to me and stop cowering behind my dreams. He would have to stand up to the person that God himself had hand picked to fight him.
We had reached a large field and I stopped walking to turn and look at my three remaining protectors. They stood tall and strong, like a small army of their own, impenetrable. Whatever the outcome was, when I stood toe to toe with Daniel, I would be thankful for these three men. They wanted to stand by me and help me, even if they knew the cost.
“I want to say something before we go any further.” I looked at Marcus.
“Okay,” he said.
“I want you all to know that I am trusting you. I’m going to place my life and my family’s legacy in your hands and hope to God that you hold on tight. I pray that you are here to stand beside me and not against me. I know what the penalty is for you guys helping me and I am thankful that you’re still here. I’m thankful that you cared enough to train me and get me to this point.”
I looked down at my feet for a second. “You are all great fighters and that has been proven throughout time and history. I’ve seen it and I hope that you use that energy to help fight with me. Daniel has trained all of you. You have fought for him and now is the time to fight against him. I know that you are trained to show no fear, but, if, right now, this very second, you have one shred of doubt that you’re up against a battle that you’re going to win, then you need to turn around and walk away regardless of the orders that you have been given. I promise I will not hold it against you and hopefully in time we will meet again. But I can’t have any more people die. Do you all understand? Now is the time… This is your chance to move on…your chance to be free. I release you from Marcus’ and Alex’s hold, if those are the words you’re waiting for. I’ve said it and you can walk away.”
They all nodded, then crossed their arms and didn’t move. I didn’t need any more answer than that. They wanted to stay; they wanted to remain with me and help. I turned around with a great deal of gratitude. They just showed me how strong they really were. They knew the cost and still they were willing to die to help me.
I looked in the distance. It was quiet and calm especially considering what was about to happen. As I stared further, I knew this might be the last time I would see this world so clearly, the last chance I would hear the birds flying in the sky so freely or smell the air around me. It felt bittersweet. I bent down and took a deep breath and started to run. I knew my purpose and I was running toward my target. The men followed. We ran so fast that everything around us just faded into a blur from the corner of our eyes. We passed cars driving and people walking; we were predators that couldn’t be seen.
It wasn’t long before we reached the club. We were in the middle of downtown Phoenix where there was easy access to the freeway, there were plenty of hotels for the drunks and the club could be seen for miles. Michael and I drove past this place many times to and from his business parties and we never had a second thought about what it really was. He asked me once if I wanted to go inside. But even then I had a bad feeling about it and I always said no. I wondered if the people inside had the same feeling that I did all the times I passed it. Did they know that it was a hideout for the most vicious vampires that today’s world would ever know?
We stopped in front of an office building a couple of blocks away. I dropped my bag and knelt down to unzip it. I pulled out a long butcher’s knife and put the blade down the back side of my pants. I then grabbed whatever small knives that would fit into my pockets. I grabbed the bag and threw it in a crowd of bushes. If I made it out alive I would have to come back for it. I couldn’t let someone off the street pick it up and discover the treasure they had found.
We started walking toward the entrance. There was no one at the door waiting to get in as I had seen in my dream: just a single doorman on guard. He didn’t look like a vampire. But really, does anybody look the part?
“Okay, listen,” I turned and looked at Marcus. “I’ll go through the entrance. Alex is somewhere underground. Try to get to him first. We’ll need his help.” Before he could respond, I started to run. I looked back before I got to the door and the three vampires were already gone to carry out their mission.
I took the hair tie out of my hair and fluffed it a bit. I needed to act the way I did for Kevin and John again. I needed to put on my sexy face and my charming demeanor and hopefully the doorman wouldn’t know who I was. If this place only let in the pretty people, then I would need to act like one, even in my leather pants and dirt-stained shirt. I pinched my cheeks. I knew as a vampire I couldn’t get my cheeks rosy but it was a force of habit.
I approached him slowly, walking as sexy as I could. He was a large man with a dark complexion and a large stomach. His clothes were all black and he even wore dark sunglasses. Now why would someone wear dark sunglass at night? That always bothered me when I was out and I walked passed somebody wearing them. It made me want to go up to people and just ask that very question: Why? But back then I was just a scared mortal.
I walked up to him, smiled and tried to flirt with him. “Now you’re not going to tell me I can’t get in, are you?”
He looked down at me and lowered his sunglasses to the tip of his nose. His eyes were dark brown and blood shot and his pupils were dilated, he must have been high on something. “Hell nah. The club is always open for a pretty girl like you.” His voice was very deep.
He unlatched the velvet rope and opened the door half way. “Well, thank you,” I said.
He put his arm in front of me blocking the entrance. He brought his sunglasses back up, covering his eyes. “You make sure to say goodbye when you leave.” I could see through his sunglasses, he passed me over a wink. I just smiled and winked back at him. Just like Jessup said: the things a woman can do.
I walked in, my body shaking and my nerves trembling. The club was just as crowded as when I saw it in my dreams. This was the perfect atmosphere for a vampire like Daniel to blend in. People were back to back, pushing each other as they danced. Girls were climbing up poles and sliding down, making the men they were with watch in amazement. Others girls wrapped themselves up in the satin sheets that hung from the ceiling and swung themselves around.
The music blared so loud it echoed off the walls making it hard for me to even hear my own thoughts. It also controlled what the girls did on the poles. They felt the music in the moves they did. All they needed to do now was start stripping their clothes off. Straight in front of me, burgundy curtains spelled out the club’s name in a perfect line on the wall.
I started pushing my way through the throng of people. I already knew where Daniel would be seated; he would be looking over his worshipers on his self-made throne. And just like in my dream I could feel the emotions of every person in the crowd. They wanted him more than anything they’ve wanted in their entire lives. They came here night after night hoping to get even the smallest type of recognition from him. They yearned for it, they dreamt of it and in some cases they prayed for it.
I looked further and there he was. His chair was large; three people could sit comfortably on that chair. It was many centuries old, made of dark marble, outlined in pure silver. The arm rests ended in a snake’s head with the mouth wide open. The back rest was a pillow made of ruby red velvet and in the center sat Daniel. He had one leg up on the chair and the other dangling down. One hand was on his knee and the other on the arm rest. He had long blonde hair that reached the middle of his back and parted down the middle. His skin was of an olive complexion, not as porcelain as mine. Maybe it was his pure blood that made him that way? And his eyes were the darkest shade of black. They never changed to blue; maybe he was in a permanent attack mode.
The same two men that were in my dream sat beside him, and they looked just as Marcus had described from when he had sat beside Daniel. But they didn’t appear as casual as Marcus. They sat tall with perfect posture. They looked as if they were waiting for something, maybe an ambush. They looked ready to jump in at a moment’s notice and die for their cause. But that was their job; they sat there to protect Daniel.
I walked further into the dancing mob of people, wondering what I should do next. I knew where Daniel was and somehow that comforted me. I knew he wasn’t waiting for me, hiding somewhere to kill me. It was hard restraining myself and holding myself back from jumping onto his chair and fighting him. I had to keep telling myself that I had the upper hand now. I had the element of surprise on my side; he wouldn’t have a clue that it was me until the last moment. He was too engrossed with everybody else around him to notice a new body in his club. But this wouldn’t be the time to take him on; he had too many people protecting him. I wouldn’t be able to fight them all and honestly I didn’t want to. I just wanted Daniel.
I looked around me; I wanted another out to this room. I saw a door on the right side of the room. It looked like a staff entrance. There was my out; I would have to make it through that door without being seen by Daniel. As I started to run toward it, butterflies formed in my belly. I ran through the crowd undetected and untouched. I felt like a race car driver, weaving in and out of traffic. When I reached the door, I looked behind me and saw Daniel still sitting in his chair laughing with his followers. I pushed open the swinging door and slid through.
I entered a long hallway lit by neon lights. The walls were black and there were no doors around me. This place looked familiar. I had dreamt of this hallway before. I started to remember the dream I tried so hard to forget. I placed my hands on the dull wall remembering the blood that was dripping down in my dream. I could remember the intoxicating smell of that blood. I knelt down and placed my other hand on the black and silver marble ground that once was a river of blood, but now showed no signs of what I saw in my dream that night many weeks ago.
This was where the ghost of Lilith had come to repel me from my mission and to dishearten my faith. She wanted to frighten me so much that I would go insane like all of her other victims so many years before. Why would she bring me here? Did she know I would be here one day? Was that her plan? To scare me with images so frightening that when I entered this hallway I would want to run in the opposite direction?
I stood up and looked down one way of the hallway and then the other; they both looked the same – no ending and no beginning. But something told me to take the path in front of me. I tried to ignore the growing lump in my throat and swallow my nerves, but I had to admit to myself that I was scared. Anybody who was exposed to what I had experienced in my dream would be scared too. I shrugged my shoulders and began to run down the hallway. In my dream it had led nowhere, but there had to be something else, something I was missing, and something my fear blinded me from seeing.
My persistence paid off when I finally reached an odd, misplaced door. It was made of dark, thick cherry wood and it was solid with no framework. In the middle was the burnt initial D. This had to be Daniel’s door. There was no handle to grab, just the solid door. I was going to be able to see where Daniel laid his head. I might be able to find out what made him pulse with anger. This might help me fight him. There might be something in here that would show me a weakness of his, something he didn’t want anybody to see.
I pressed my hands in the middle of the door and pushed. I had to use a lot of my immortal strength to open it; it was power that no human would ever possess. It must have been his personal security system. There had to be something good inside; nobody would have a door so hard to get through for any other reason but to hide something.
When the door was open enough for me to fit through, I entered. The door immediately closed behind me, making a loud banging noise as it did. I jumped back from the sudden thunder beneath my feet; I hoped nobody heard it. The room was large and made of stone, reminding me of a room in a castle from a long time ago. It was lit by hundreds of golden candles. The candles were burning so long that the wax was dripping off the furniture.
There was an old, large, wooden four-post king bed against the middle of the wall covered with what I thought were black and red gothic satin sheets. Three black velvet couches filled the room. All of the furniture, from the dresser to the night stands, seemed to be things he collected throughout the centuries. In the middle of the room was a rug embroidered with his crest. In the corner of the room was a tall, empty, gilded glass bookcase.
The atmosphere of the room was dark and gloomy. Maybe he wanted to remember the past, when things were aged and medieval. I felt almost sad for all that he must remember to live in a place so murky and depressing. There were no windows to let in light so the room gave him no connection to the outside world. No wonder he was so evil; he never wanted to embrace the human world, only destroy it.
As I walked through and studied things more in-depth, I was amazed by all of the history that the room contained. I couldn’t even go to a museum and see this much antiquity. Even the robe that draped over the bed was ancient.
I made my way to another door; at least this door had a door knob. I twisted the handle and slowly swung it open. There was nothing in front of me but a flat wall. I followed the wall down with my eyes and at my feet and saw a stairway leading to underneath the building. My interest was piqued. I had to see where it led. It twisted and turned all the way down. If I had to guess, it was about two stories below the surface. There was no railing to hold on to, just concrete steps.
I walked slowly and vigilantly, ready for almost anything that waited around the corner for me. It was so dark, anybody could be hiding there. Finally I reached the bottom step and it was all dirt. No more tile, pavement, or rug. Just dirt and pebbles. The walls were tall and wide and constructed from dirt and stones. Torches that hung from the walls lit my path. This wasn’t a room or a chamber. Just a cold, dreary, dark dungeon.
I rounded the corner and proceeded to investigate the environment. My nerves had finally calmed down and the pit of my stomach had settled, but I still had to be prepared. I pulled the knife out from behind my back and held it in front of me. This seemed all too easy. Something had to be waiting for me, somewhere, behind a corner or beneath my feet. It didn’t matter where; there had to be somebody here with me. There were many twists and turns and openings for me to choose from but a warm familiar feeling deep inside me told me to continue straight forward. I didn’t know where it would lead me, what I would see, or who I would run into on my way, but some mysterious force pushed me forward.
Further down, the path led to a blocked wall. I wanted to stare at it for a minute, not thinking anything would happen, like a door opening or something stupid like that. I just tilted my head and stared, rationalizing my thoughts. I ran towards it, hoping that it wasn’t real, that maybe my eyes were deceiving me. But no, my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. This was a thick wall of brick and I couldn’t go any further.
I was stuck and I felt furious. I was defeated by one stupid wall. It was a dead end. There were no other paths to choose; there was no other direction to take. This was the only option and it was blocked. I reached up and banged my hands on the wall in anger when suddenly it started to spread in half. I was stupefied and I took a step back. The wall was a secret door. Whatever was behind it had to be very important, something that Daniel didn’t want anybody to see. I felt sublime. Even though it might have been a small discovery, so far I had discovered two cryptic places that Daniel was hiding.
The doors moved very slowly and very quietly. The only sound I could hear was the moving of the dirt as the doors spread open. My thoughts raced faster than my feet when the doors finally stopped moving. I took a step over the invisible line and stopped, waiting for something to happen, maybe a secret trap, like daggers flying out of the walls to come and stop whoever passed through. But nothing did. I looked behind me to see if somebody saw me but there was no one in the shadows.
I turned around and saw an even larger room, with rows of prison-like cells, about 8 feet across and 6 feet deep, with barred doors. When I looked closely, I could see that the black metal bars had claw marks. The cells were all empty. The walls were stone and brick and nothing but dirt for the ground. I stopped at one of the cells, looked closer at the claw marks and placed my fingertips over them. There were four, exactly like my nails. There had been vampire prisoners in these cells, clawing to get out. The more I looked, the more I saw the extent of Daniel’s brutality.
Suddenly in the midst of my thoughts, I heard the sound of shuffling dirt coming from the end of my path. My unbeating heart already knew who it was. It was the force that kept me walking in his direction; it was that energy that was fueling me to push forward. I felt butterflies fluttering in my stomach and I started to run to the last cell, which only took me seconds. I stopped in front of the cell, peering in. I felt helpless. I stared in and saw him sitting in the corner with his head in his lap. My mouth dropped open.
“Alex!” I yelled with excitement. I finally found him – alive! I couldn’t believe that I was looking at him, that he was close enough for me to touch once more. I had feared that I would never see him again.
He raised his head. His beautiful, long black hair was covering his face. “Am I dead?” he asked without looking at me. His voice was soft.
“No! Look up! Look at me!” I begged.
He moved his hair from his face. When I saw his eyes, I wanted to cry. His eyes were not the exquisite glowing blue eyes that I remembered in my dreams. No, they were lifeless, dull grey with black circles underneath. His face was decaying. He was not the handsome ancient creature I once knew. I could see his cheekbones protruding through his skin. His lips where not the soft shade of pink that once kissed my neck so gently, but were now gray and very dry. He was starving and weak. My heart was breaking. Daniel did this to him; he starved him and left him to die.
“Oh my God what’s happened to you? What has he done?” I said in shock.
He got up slowly. Having to push his weak body away from the wall, he almost fell a couple of times but finally got it right. Pieces of my heart crumbled with every move he made; it sounded like his bones were breaking with every step. I grabbed the bars with my hands to bring myself closer to him. I wished the walls would crumble; I wanted to hold him in my arms and carry him out.
Since a vampire’s body is already dead, it requires blood in its veins on a continual basis. Failing that, it deteriorates very quickly.
I was losing Alex.
He gently placed his hands over mine; they didn’t feel anywhere as strong they did when he held me so tightly just a few days ago. They were weak and brittle and it felt like they would turn to ash.
“You found me… I knew you would.” His voice, once majestic and strong, now sounded weak and defeated. “But you need to leave this place.”
“What? No! How do I get you out?” I demanded.
He looked up at me; his eyes were sad. “You don’t.”
“Huh?” I managed to mutter out. I thought I heard him wrong.
He licked his dry lips. “You can’t. This place is not designed for breaking out – only staying in. Only Daniel knows how. He’s had many years to make sure of that. Even with your strength you cannot break through these bars.”
“But you’re so hungry. I see it in your eyes.” I gently placed my hand on his cheek.
He closed his eyes and attempted to smile. “I’ll be okay.”
“No you won’t. You’re dying, Alex, and I can’t let that happen.”
I pulled back my arm, looking at it for a just a moment, and in that second I realized what my body held. I clenched my knife tighter as I brought my wrist down to my side. I slit my wrist fast, not even feeling the sting of the blade, the only pain I felt was the blood that leaked out from my open wound, it felt like fire escaping from an open window. I let out a low growl.
I slid my arm through the bars and put it close enough to Alex’s nose so he could smell my blood’s fragrance. His eyes turned black as he leaned closer to me. He placed his chapped lips onto my skin and began to drink. It felt like I was pouring everything inside of me into an empty cup that never would get full. Blood flowed out of my arm like a waterfall. It made me tingle as the blood exited my veins. I felt my body get weak and I thought I would have to pull away but he stopped on his own.
“I can already see the lethalness of your blue eyes returning.” I tried to smile but it came out as drained as my spirit was.
I wasn’t hungry like I thought I would be, but I started feeling lightheaded and felt like I could drop at any second. I held firmly onto the bars to keep from falling. His beautiful features slowly started to return right before my eyes as my blood settled in his veins. His exquisiteness, his dignity, and the entire splendor that he had all these years came back within a few seconds.
“Now, once again, how do I get you out!?” I ordered. I was trying to be as commanding as he always was to me.
“My love.” He paused and smiled. “I told you, you can’t. All the blood in the world would not make either of us strong enough or brilliant enough to break out of here.”
“Oh, yes it will.” I almost yelled.
“You need to recognize that this is a battle that I cannot fight for or with you. I got you to where you needed to be and that’s as far as I can go. Daniel knows that and that’s why I’m here. He doesn’t want me interfering.”
“I won’t let you interfere. But you need to get out!” I begged.
He let out a small chuckle. “But I know that if your strength does prevail over his that you will come back for me. I’ve taken you on this journey for you to find who you really are. And you found yourself. I see your strength now; you’re not that scared girl that I met that day in the woods. You’re an unyielding woman ready for anything. My job is done.”
“Alex, stop it! You’re not done! Please stop talking like that.”
“Marcus will find me, if you haven’t by then. He reached for my face. “God sent you here for a purpose and you will fulfill your prophecy. I believe in you. I always have. And no matter what, my love remains here…” He covered his heart with is hand. “For only you.” He pulled my face close to his and kissed me gently but passionately.
“Oh my God… Please stop. I can’t take it anymore!”
We broke our kiss. Alex put his hands down and stepped back, I saw the urgency in his eyes. I looked over my shoulder and was taken aback. Daniel stood before me…