Chapter 99 - Killers
“We were a bit ambitious,” Alena whispered ruefully as the folly of their situation sank in, and Rowan’s expression said it all.
“I hope...” She was about to say Marcus, but Alena laid her fingers against Rowan’s lips to prevent her from saying it.
“Not on his own,” Alena assured Rowan, and they knew it was true.
Time passed with no one coming near them, and their thoughts gradually moved from what was to come, to the aching hunger that became all-consuming.
They had no idea of the passage of time, and eventually, when the door opened, the Demvaren wordlessly shoved a young boy into the cell. His mocking gaze took in their wretched state, and they could hear him chuckle with glee as he walked away.
The child was half-turned and scared out of his wits. He stared at them with the knowledge of a mouse facing a cobra, and they stared at him with the hunger of a cobra facing a mouse. He cried and wailed until the dark one removed him from their presence. They weren’t desperate enough to give in to their base instincts, but he knew they would. He grinned as he winked at them.
“Too good for you?” He mocked before leaving them alone with their misery. More time passed in their insulated world, but this time, when he returned, he brought one of his soldiers.
The poor man hadn’t responded well to the turn and was nothing but a snarling menace. It didn’t take more than a moment for them to assess the situation. They took him down so quickly that their attack cut him off in mid snarl. There wasn’t much blood left in his veins.
It wasn’t enough, and they were weakening rapidly. Alena broke his neck before throwing him against the door with such violence that it rattled the frame.
“Semantics,” the Demvaren murmured as he dragged the broken, bloodless corpse from the cell, and they avoided his eyes. It wasn’t semantics to them. Killing this wretch had been an act of mercy, killing the boy would have been murder. They may entertain him, but he didn’t amuse them, and neither did the situation.
“Apart from the obvious, why is he doing this?” Rowan whispered since sound traveled in the caverns.
“We’d be much more malleable if we were starving,” Alena whispered back.
“But much more dangerous?” Rowan doubted, and Alena moved closer.
“He thinks he can handle us like he handled all our predecessors,” Alena clarified. “Our blood is the strongest yet, but he thinks we are no more than those who came before,” Alena finished before moving away.
The Demvaren fed them less and less, but still, they refused to touch the boy when he brought him around again. The boy had turned, he wasn’t as afraid, but he sensed their strength. He wasn’t cowering, but he knew he would die if he attacked. Robert smirked as if he expected nothing less of them, and Alena gave a ragged sigh as she tried to steady herself when he left them alone.
“Ten years ago, that boy would have never stood a chance, not even the first time,” Alena admitted, and Rowan frowned. She didn’t like thinking about the creature their father made Alena into in his quest to ensure their survival.
“It’s all about the boy, isn’t it?” Alena felt as if she read Rowan’s mind, and she probably did. “He’s mocking our weakness. What he sees as our humanity,” Alena realized.
“We’ve no choice. We have to get out of this place before it is too late,” Rowan agreed, and as if he waited outside for them to come to their senses, the door opened, and Robert threw the boy to his knees.
They fell upon him, and he had no time to fear or to understand that this time, he would die. He only issued one fear-filled wail that struck both of them to the heart, and the memory of it would torment them for as long as they lived.
Robert watched their fall from grace for a few moments before drawing the door firmly shut. Alena reached out and did what was necessary with that same expression on her face that must have been there a hundred different times at her fathers’ side on the battlefield. She would not allow the boy to suffer.