Chapter 93 - Destruction
“We understood we could never have more than our love, we could never marry, and I didn’t care. The night the creatures attacked us, Frederick was at a friend’s house a few miles out of town, and he saw the smoke as our homes burned.” Lost in her memories, Sarah almost seemed to speak to herself.
“Frederick thought he could come to my rescue, but he never got past the edges of town. They took him right off his horse in mid-run. I witnessed him fall, and I saw him die as one of them ripped off his head. I froze in horror right in the middle of the road. I was pregnant with his child, but I didn’t know, not until his panicked horse ran me over and the blood came.” The sadness and pain in Sarah’s eyes nearly broke Alena’s heart. It explained why Alena sometimes thought Sarah looked haunted by something.
“I survived the massacre of my town along with four others. We witnessed the horror and death as they destroyed it all. I somehow made it to my grandfather’s farm, but I was too late. I buried them alongside the tiny thing that came from inside me,” Sarah continued with her monologue, and her guilt at surviving, when so many others didn’t, was unmistakable.
“I persevered but died inside. I lost everything and everyone I loved in one afternoon. Then my father returned and nursed me back to life. I wasn’t alone anymore; I still had him, and the thought saved me. He saw the horrors in town and helped others who came looking for their relatives to bury the dead. I could not return to that place. I even refused to leave my room. The rest of the house felt haunted by memories of my grandparents, their lives, and their deaths,” Sarah shivered as she said those words. The chill of death settled in her bones at the memories she dredged up from a past she wanted to forget, but never could.
“The creatures didn’t just murder everyone; they hacked them to pieces and severed their heads before they burned down every building. Even on our farm they razed all the buildings, killed the livestock, the pets, and the spotted owl who lived in the tree beside the barn. I had nowhere else to go, but with my father,” she glanced at Alena, half caught between the images in her head, and the present.
“Being with him started to heal my mental wounds, but then the pirates came, and it was worse, but the more I wanted to die, the more I fought to live,” she admitted, and these memories haunted her in a whole different manner.
“Three girls killed themselves, one of them by chewing off her tongue. A fourth didn’t succeed at cutting her wrists, and the pirates tortured her so badly that it took her days to die. No one tried again,” Sarah revealed, and Alena felt sorry that one person should have suffered so much in her short life.
“It was the memory of the love I felt for Frederick that kept me fighting when dying would have been kinder. He wouldn’t have wanted me to die like that or for my life to end in such a way,” Sarah said with the spark of fire chasing away the shadows.
“There was too much out there I still hadn’t seen, and as much as I ached to join Frederick in death, I couldn’t leave my father in this world alone. He needed me, and I needed him,” Sarah returned from the far-off places her mind had wandered to, and the darkness that lay there. She expended some effort to control her emotions, and her fortitude impressed Alena.
“Sorry I...” Sarah cleared her throat and seemed suddenly out of her depth as if she overstepped some invisible boundary. She heaped the dress to one side, realized it would wrinkle, and picked it up again to lay it down with more care.
“It is a pity we were in such a hurry. Those pirates suffered gentle fates for what they did.” The sound and tenor of Alena’s voice held such disdain and dislike in its slow cadence that Sarah stopped fussing with the dress. Her eyes flew across the well-lit room to encounter what her mind somehow evaded.
Alena’s eyes were glittering vampire blue, and her fangs were just visible. She appeared paler, less human and Sarah would have shivered in fear if it hadn’t occurred to her that Alena was angry on her behalf.
“Bullies never pick on someone their size,” Alena drawled with a mocking smile that seemed somehow terrifying and Sarah registered that she should experience fear, but she didn't.
A smile touched her own lips, and it held a challenge she didn’t realize. They, the humans on this ship, were under the guardianship of them that owned it and whoever was stupid enough to menace either ship or occupants would find an enemy to which there was no answer.
“I see you understand now,” Alena murmured and although Sarah saw them move like this before, Alena being on the bed in one heartbeat and so close she felt her breath in the next, was shocking. It intrigued Sarah, but not in the wrong way; she never wanted their curse.
“Just remember we’re only as strong as our weakness,” Alena reminded and left. Sarah found herself alone before she could allow the breath, she didn’t realize she was holding, escape her chest.
Sarah knew their weakness - the thing inside that drove them and could change them into a predator in an instant, yet she didn’t entirely believe Alena.
She would have if she hadn’t spied the strong emotion Alena felt before. Alena possessed compassion and a sense of honor. She would fight herself and anyone who dared imperil those she saw as friends.
Both female vampires shouldn’t find sympathy a natural emotion, not with Alena’s aloof coolness and Rowan’s hotheaded anger, but neither were anything like Sarah imagined. They changed as much as she had over these past few months.
As a child, Sarah disliked her father’s subservience. She always thought he deserved so much better in life, but he appeared to have no ambition to rise above his station.
As an adolescent, she grew to hate that in Byron. Later, on the ship Byron captained, she despised having to bend her knee to her ‘betters.’ On the pirate ship, they forced her to accept that her life meant nothing; that she was worth less than the lowest male slave. She fought them with all of her power and lost, but something in her would never allow total defeat. Her grandfather’s blood in her veins would never let her give up.
Now on this ship, with her father and them, she finally understood Byron. On the vast open seas, he was the ultimate master of his ship and his fate. On land, he had to bow his knee and gave to this previous masters the honor they demanded. It was the price he paid for his freedom and all he wanted from life.
Now, on this ship, she understood that dreams didn’t have limitations. Some people get their dreams and become content. Byron was happy, now more than ever. His life brought him where he belonged.
Sarah sighed as she admitted that she also found herself content. She belonged on this ship with her father and their vampire masters. To them, she would bow her knees, not for the privilege of them allowing her to stay on this ship, but because they deserved respect.
They chose a path they felt obliged to follow, and nothing would dissuade them from that path, not even their own destruction. They do this for those who would never understand what these people sacrificed for them and would never appreciate it.
Marcus spoke to Byron about all this before they left for the mountain, and Byron informed Sarah because he would not send her into danger without telling her the truth. Jack knew this and that, but he didn’t know everything and didn’t need to.
Byron chose the rest of the crew with care, and although they knew or suspected who the owners were, this ship represented their last chance at having a life. The owner, as well as Byron, treated the crew well, and the wages were fair. Neither money nor fear would sway those loyal to Byron, and no tall tales would leave the vessel at any port of call.