They were coming. The luxury of time was over. Any day now, the Reaper Army would rise and the world Aurora loved would die. She thought of Gabriel and wondered how, knowing what they were up against, he could choose to just sit back and let it happen.
Deep down she had hoped he would come for her. She had pictured him arriving on her doorstep, his brow heavy and begging for forgiveness. But he had not.
She stroked Aurel’s thick fur and sighed. It was almost impossible to imagine that within days demons would descend upon the Earth. They would rape the land and kill every living thing upon it. There would be bloodshed, there would be screaming and there would be death.
“I have to stop this,” she whispered into his fur. “But how do I do it alone?”
Behind her the old porch sighed as Jasmyne stepped outside. “Are you okay out here?”
Aurora shrugged and stared out into the forest. “My mother was a great warrior Jasmyne. Her blood runs in my veins, I cannot let these things take over our world, but I’m just so…” She trailed off, unable to say the words.
“It’s around this time of night, when the light folds into the dark that I miss him the most,” Jasmyne whispered.
Caught off guard, Aurora turned and looked up at her. “Stefan?”
Her sister nodded and Aurora was shocked to realise that she had not thought of her brother in days. “I’ve been so busy trying to figure all this out that I haven’t thought of him as often as I should Jasmyne. I know that sounds terrible.”
But her sister shook her head. “He may not have believed in the monsters that killed all of our parents, but he was very young back then Aurora. He probably thought monsters and mysteries were all just part of the make-believe of children, but he loved you. That was real and despite what he said, he did believe in you. If he were here right now, he would want you to fight.”
“Thank you sister.” Aurora smiled warmly as she thought of her brother with his messy hair and lanky grin. “I know how much you must wish he was here.”
“In many ways he is,” Jasmyne smiled and touched her heart. “He’ll always be here Aurora. Love never fades, not if you choose to keep it alive.”
“I know you lost him, but in many ways I still envy you sister. I’m not sure I even know what love is anymore.”
“That’s why you are afraid.”
Aurora turned to her sister. “Who said I was afraid?”
“Aurora, you are the first child of a strigoi elder and a Scythian queen. You are the true leader of this family and it was wrong of me to ever try and take that from you. You were born for this battle and you can win it, but only if you know what you’re fighting for.”
“I do know what I’m fighting for. I’m trying to save our world. What could be more important than that?”
“But have you asked yourself why it needs saving?”
Aurora looked away. Jasmyne was right. Since she was given the vision in the forest all she had thought about was winning, never about why she was fighting.
“Why do we find ourselves where we are?” Jasmyne continued. “What was lost that allowed these demons to infiltrate our world?”
Aurora sat quietly and thought about what her sister was asking. “I don’t know,” she answered eventually. “I guess things just changed somehow.”
“People changed Aurora. People changed and love got lost along the way. You yourself are guilty of making the same mistake. If you can’t understand what real love is, then I fear you will not win this war.”
Aurora looked at her closely. “I thought I knew love sister. I thought I felt it, but I was clearly wrong. I just don’t know if I can trust my feelings anymore.”
“No, you confused love with need. You needed Gabriel to fulfil this mission, but you are still fighting out of anger, revenge. That’s not where your strength comes from. You said demons were the balance. If that’s true then you need to fight with love in your heart, not hate.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible when I feel so angry and so hurt. I hate these things Jasmyne. I hate them. They killed my parents, all of our parents, and now they want to take our Earth. And Gabriel, I just don’t understand how he could hurt me this way. It’s as though he still blames me for all of this. It’s not fair.”
“Many things are unfair sister, but love still exists. You feel hate and I understand that. You feel let down, but this is bigger than you. It’s not about your love for Gabriel or your hate for the Reapers. This is about the kind of love that transcends two people or even a family. This is about reminding the world about the power of love and what it can do, of what it can change.”
“What are you saying Jasmyne?”
“I’m saying the world needs a chance to remember how to love, only then can we have a real second chance. Humans have forgotten and the Earth has paid the price, that’s why the Reapers are able to breathe our air. When they remember to love all life, the Earth can begin to heal itself.”
“You must give them the chance to remember. Each person only needs to feel it for themselves, then the combined power of everyone’s love can change the world Aurora. They just need to learn how to take the love they are capable of feeling and extend it to the Earth and its creatures. You need to remember what you are fighting for Aurora. It’s for them. We are few, but they are many. Only together can we truly save our Earth.”
Aurora steeled herself. Her sister was right. If she fought with hate she would lose, but as she tried to open her heart the emotions rushed at her like snapping wolves. Anger, fear, loss. She clutched at her chest and doubled over from the pain. “I can’t Jasmyne, they harbour too much sadness. It’s all I feel.”
“Because that’s what fills your own heart Aurora. You’re attracting what you feel yourself. You have to push through it, find the love. It lives beneath the pain.”
Jasmyne took her sister’s hand and instantly the connection doubled in strength. “Feel it,” she urged. “Go deeper. That’s where real love lives.”
“I can feel everything,” Aurora sobbed. “The fear they carry in their hearts, their loss, their pain. I can feel all of it.”
“Go past it,” Jasmyne pushed. “Find the source.”
Aurora took a deep breath and allowed her heart to unfold like the delicate wings of a butterfly. Fragile and soft, she feared the pain would shred her to pieces, but as she pushed further and deeper than she had ever allowed herself, the pain subsided and something else began to take its place.
“Do you feel it now?” Jasmyne was asking. “Do you understand?”
Aurora was transported back to her childhood. She was blanketed in the pure emotion her parents had bestowed upon her. Warmth rushed through her as they enveloped her in their love.
Jasmyne let go of her sister’s hand. “They can still love sister. And so can you.”
Aurora rested her head in her hands. “The selfishness of humans caused this. They can love yes, but they need to love more than just each other. They need to love the creatures, the trees, the oceans. They need to love life in all its forms if our world is to survive.”
“Aurora they can change but it will take time. You need to give them that chance, you’re the only one who can.”
“But how do you know? Lucius said it was too hard a task without Gabriel. He said that alone I would fail.”
Jasmyne leaned in and looked at Aurora closely. “All that matters is that you fight with love in your heart. Use the balance and you can defeat them. Remember, there are many ways to be loved Aurora. Your parents loved you, your brother loved you and your sisters love you. Even the Earth and its creatures love you. Don’t you feel it? It’s there in the heartbeat of every animal from the smallest mouse to that magnificent wolf by your side. The plants bend to your will. To hell with Lucius if he says you can’t do this. He doesn’t know you the way I do. You can do it Aurora. It’s time to become the warrior you were born to be.”