Chapter 76 - Clarity
Marcus woke Rowan and interrupted her slumber. Outside the sun would be shining, but he needed her awake. Earlier, he spoke to her in her sleep, whispered words to soothe her dreams and grief. It was time for Rowan to face what the Watchers did to her and what she did.
“Rowan?” Marcus asked, and she came slowly awake. Her eyes settled on his for a brief moment and then avoided his eyes; Marcus wouldn’t allow her to hide from him.
“What did you do?” He asked, and she swallowed dryly. Marcus was unused to Rowan looking fragile, and yet her anger simmered beneath the surface.
“I killed them,” Rowan whispered, unsure how much Alena told him.
“Why?” Marcus prodded as he nuzzled her cheek, a gesture more to comfort than to seduce. Rowan tried to lower her eyes, and again, he gently prevented her from turning her face away.
“Tell me,” Marcus insisted with an expression in his eyes that betrayed his sympathy and his love, “everything,” he reminded her of her promise to keep nothing from him again.
“The Watchers knew the truth all along. They knew about the Dark One and the prophecy,” Rowan revealed, and Marcus didn’t seem surprised, but his eyes compelled her to continue.
“The Watchers sent me to find the men who raided a village in Darby, where they murdered three Watchers along with their entire families, and in return,.02 they would give us what we need,” Rowan hesitated briefly.
“They wanted the men to die in such a way that it wouldn’t look like retaliation from the Watchers. What they didn’t bother to tell me was that they already sent out word to warn these men that the Watchers were on their way.” Rowan looked less fragile as her anger, and sense of betrayal solidified.
“We rode into an ambush, and I suspected that the men with me expected the trap. We fought and followed them to an old cellar where they tried to regroup.
“Our leader decided it would be prudent if I went in first, and the rest would follow. I never expected that they would bar the door behind me or that there would be ten enemies waiting for me inside. I realized their betrayal too late,” Rowan revealed as her anger simmered from hurt to fury.
“I had nothing but my sword, and they came at me like a pack of dogs. One somehow knocked the sword from my hand. I was furious at the watchers and angered at these men who would not let up. I realized I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want my child to die.” Rowan’s eyes glowed vampire as she relived those moments, and her teeth peeked from between her lips.
“It took only a few moments to realize these weren’t bandits; they were soldiers - mercenaries hired by the Watchers to kill me. They were organized, relentless, and trained to kill. I had only one choice if I wanted to walk out of that building alive. I had to release the vampire, let my instincts rule me, and let go of everything that restrained me. They never had a chance: I slaughtered them.” This time sadness tempered the anger. Rowan lost something precious when the watchers betrayed her, Marcus realized.
“I bit one, and suddenly the world turned more slowly, and I saw everything through a haze of red. I ripped out his throat after a few hungry gulps of his blood and moved on to the next one after I discarded the first; as if he were nothing. I moved from one to the other, and in my anger, I tore into them; broke their necks, ripped off their heads, and even in this base state, I knew my rage wasn’t meant for them.
“I came to myself when Alderin barged through the door and stormed in. I would have attacked her, but I looked into her eyes and saw the horror of what I did, and I knew. They planned it all. They knew I would 'rage out' to save myself and thus prove that I was nothing more than an animal.” Rowan wiped over her face with a tired gesture as if she wanted to clear the images from her mind.
“They wanted to show the Watcher council, and me, that I couldn’t control my nature. That I, just like every other vampire on the planet, am nothing more than a monster. A ticking bomb waiting to go off; driven by my survival instinct and my urges.” Rowan sobbed, and tears streamed down her face, but Marcus kissed them away.
“No, we are not monsters. You are so young, and control will come. If you were a human woman who walked into that room, would they have allowed you to leave? Would they not have taken you down, stolen your virtue, and then killed you?” Marcus asked, and Rowan considered his words.
“They’re just like us Rowan; always fighting the animal inside. They don’t always win the battle either, and some of them never even try,” Marcus gently moved a stray lock of hair from her forehead and tucked it behind her ear.
“They make wars and call dying glory; when it’s nothing more than blood lust. They see the beast in us because it shows on the outside, but they don’t recognize the monster in themselves,” he continued, and the calm of his voice quieted her emotions.
“When they win a battle for their king, country, clan or kind, they’re heroes. When conquering armies, rape, pillage, and destroy? They still see themselves as heroes, but the people they rape, the villages they pillage and those whose homes they destroy? They see the monster,” Marcus said, and Rowan frowned as she considered his words.
“Humans justify killing and murder. We have no way to justify ourselves. We are guilty, and we acknowledge our guilt. We live with the truth of what we do and what we are, while they lie to themselves,” Marcus frowned at the memories he had of his past.
“Men who run onto a field of battle to hack each other to pieces and take trophies, rarely face the fact that what they’re doing is wrong, and those that do? They end up finding a way to die, or they hang themselves from the nearest tree,” Marcus continued, and he saw the way his words made sense to Rowan. These were things she didn’t consider before.
“We all do what we have to, to survive. You fought with everything you were because you had to live. Right now, we have a place and a purpose, but they don’t understand the danger they’re in. Even if we save ourselves and them, or even just them, they may never understand how close they came to dying, being nothing and forgotten by time,” Marcus shared his insight. He kissed her gently, but Rowan tasted Alena’s blood in his kiss, and she guessed what Alena allowed.
“You knew what happened?!” Rowan accused, and Marcus kissed her forehead.
“As if I were there with you,” he said as he stroked her sides, gentling her as if she were a nervous filly.
“Then, why?” Rowan started to ask and then stopped.
“You know why,” Marcus insisted, and she did. She needed to speak about what happened to her to work through her emotions and view her actions with more clarity.