Chapter 16 - More
She knew there was more to it. For reasons of their own, they weren’t telling her everything. She could understand their reluctance. They weren’t sure if they could trust her and she didn’t know if she could trust them, and it left them at an impasse.
If she stayed past tonight, they would have to decide what they wanted, and they would have to choose with wisdom. If what they said had any basis in fact and she suspected it did, then if they didn’t succeed it might be the end of them all. Which was no great waste in the greater scheme of things, but humanity would fall with more ease without vampires.
They would stand no chance against this darkling that wanted to end them. Until now, those who joined her cause to exterminate the vermin that plagued these villages were bandits, weak vampires, and the humans who hunted across the vastness of the plains to beyond the mountains. They tolerated her presence because they could not defeat these monsters without her.
She prevented them from seeing more than ‘the change,’ and in the process kept herself under such tight control that sometimes her soul felt as if it would tear from her body. She took great care only to show them what they could handle and no more.
Marcus and Alena were free to be themselves. They had no such qualms, but she would never accept her nature. Never admit that some unnamed thing in her blood made her a monster, and she would always fight both it and herself. Rowan had no concept of how to find peace with her past and her life.
Marcus became edgy, and Rowan understood his concern. The things that followed them were immune to sunlight. They never grew tired or stopped to take a break, and a whole day passed while circumstances trapped them in this cave. They lost an entire day, and they could die here without being able to anything about it.
The caves led deeper into the mountain, but they went nowhere. There was only one exit. Marcus rose to his feet when the need to do something, anything, overwhelmed him. He was unused to wasting time or waiting for death to find him.
He wandered farther into the cave and left them alone. Rowan glanced at Alena and then away. She didn’t know how to feel about all of this, or how it affected the dynamic between them, but most of all, she had no idea of how to act around Alena.
Rowan rubbed her wrist. The wound she inflicted had closed, and the scar almost disappeared. Alena watched her with absent interest. She also didn’t know how to treat Rowan. Their lives and their circumstances changed in a matter of hours. It happened so quickly, and they had no time to adjust themselves, accept, ponder, reason or conclude.
“What happened to your back?” Alena asked out of the blue. Her eyes on the small cut on Rowan’s wrist. Her wound disappeared as if it never existed. She suffered many injuries leading the life of a warrior, but none of them ever left a scar. It was part of Victor’s legacy, and the fast healing cut proved that passed to Rowan, so how was it possible for her to have a scar?
Rowan wanted to reveal nothing; she didn’t want to bare her soul to Alena, but her mind cataloged the similarities and the differences between them. The concern in Alena’s eyes made it difficult for Rowan to shut her out. Alena would not and could not understand Rowan’s reluctance unless she knew the truth. Rowan would rather not have Alena know. She didn’t want to see either pity or disgust in her sister, and she worried how she would react to either.
“I... c-cant,” The words would not come past the constriction in her throat. Even after all these years, just the thought of that day was a horror that chilled her blood even as it spiked her anger, but it was also a hurt beyond words and beyond healing.
“I did not harm you,” the words came with difficulty, and it was an admittance that she realized that someone had harmed Rowan.
Rowan nodded. Alena bore no responsibility for any of this. She had no hand in what her father did or the consequences of his actions, nor was she responsible for his abandonment of Rowan who was honest enough to admit these facts and accept them.
“Nor did I harm you,” Rowan challenged, and Alena hesitated before she nodded. She was too fond of the truth to allow herself to contort it any further and with that one small gesture, she also allowed herself to acknowledge that Rowan was as much a victim in all this as she was. This was Victor’s doing and not theirs. Her father had not been perfect, and she knew best of all the cruelty of his wrath. She saw it often when some unfortunate thwarted him.
“Tell me,” Alena asked again. If they wanted to make this thing work, whatever it turned out to be, Rowan realized she needed to make some concessions. She also understood that by answering this question, she opened the door to her past and it led to a place she would rather have avoided.