Chapter 12 - Psychotic
I take Asher’s hand with a smile as he helps me out of the car. We’ve arrived at the courthouse where the Council is meeting. Asher and I, along with Vito and some other guards, left the castle a little early so that I could look around and take in the city. He was reluctant at first but after much pleading and promising to stay by him or my guards, he finally agreed to let me come.
However, I could only roll down the window as we passed through the city as Asher didn’t want to risk anything with Blithe’s location still unknown. I understood but it was still sad to see nobody out and about due to Blithe but I enjoyed learning little facts about the buildings.
Unfortunately, Sage couldn’t come as she left with Helios this morning. They traveled back to his home in the city but he will also be here to attend the meeting. She has yet to forgive him but I’m sure they’ll be okay. It’s easy to tell how much they care for one another and although Helios has some making up to do, I know for a fact that they will be just fine.
“Stay by my side, okay?” Asher glances at me worriedly, making me nod. “I’ll leave you with Vito when I have to go in, I won’t be long.”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry.” I smile, looping my arm through his as we walk through the open doors.
Many people swarm us, wanting to greet the King. Asher tucks me into his side protectively just as a petite woman barges through, yelling at everyone to leave the King alone and that he has a meeting to get to. I chuckle at her boisterous personality, making her send me a wink before she shoos everyone away.
“Cousin.” A man calls from behind us, Vito cursing under his breath from beside me.
He’s as tall as Vito but leaner, hazel eyes with black hair and angular features. He’s dressed in a grey overcoat on top of a white sweater and blue jeans with white shoes. I then register what he had called Asher but he doesn’t share any similarity in features to him or Sage. I quickly realize that this is the cousin that angered Blithe by cheating on her, who is now on a path of destruction to find him and exact her revenge.
“Silvano.” Asher greets him with distaste, his grip tightening on me when his cousin’s eyes roam over me in interest.
“Who is this?” He murmurs with a smirk, a brow arching when I narrow my eyes at him.
“My beloved and your Queen; Ayla Romanov.” Asher emphasizes on my title and who I am to him, his voice hard.
“What a smart idea to bring her into the city.” He drawls sarcastically, making me scoff.
“Well, people wouldn’t be afraid to come out of their homes had you kept it in your pants.” I retort, hearing Vito snickering behind me while Asher smirks.
That shuts him up immediately but I can tell my comment really got to him by the way his jaw clenches tightly. He glares at me and I shrug in disinterest. I don’t believe I said anything hurtful or offensive, because of him people are getting killed and are now in hiding. Knowing that Blithe is one of the most powerful witches and betraying her trust was not the brightest idea. And now, Asher and his warriors are under pressure to stop this madness.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I think to myself.
“My King, if you would like to follow me please? They are waiting.” A man dressed in a suit interrupts us.
Asher nods before turning to me, a worried yet protective look in his eyes. I smile up at him, squeezing his hand in reassurance. Pushing up on my toes, I press a kiss to his cheek and I catch the soft look in his eyes before it’s gone.
“I’ll stay with Vito, don’t worry.” I whisper, watching as he sighs before pressing a lingering kiss to my forehead.
He sends a look to Vito who nods in response, both silently communicating with each other. Asher gestures to the man to guide him, following him down the hallway before he’s out of sight. I immediately turn to Vito with a hopeful look, pouting when he shakes his head immediately.
“The answer is no.”
“Please, Vito! I just want to look around.” I beg, trying to convince him. “Plus you’ll be with me!”
“No, Ayla. I’m supposed to –”
“Vito!” A stocky man all but bellows as he walks toward us with his arms outstretched, pulling him into a hug. “Haven’t seen you in years, where have you been boy?!”
“Yes, nice to see you again Bennet.” He smiles uncomfortably, patting him on the shoulder. “I work for the King now.”
Bennet’s eyes widen before he drapes an arm around Vito’s shoulders, pulling him down the hall. “You must tell me about it, come let’s have a drink!”
“No, I have a job to do –”
“Nonsense!” Bennet’s laughter echoes in the quiet hallway, tightening his grip on him when he struggles. “You need to lighten up, boy!”
Vito sends me a warning look just before he disappears around the corner, glaring when he catches me laughing at his situation. I expect him to be back soon, looking forward to hearing how he escaped the clutches of Mister Bennet. Besides, the rest of my guards should be around here somewhere. Sighing, I turn only to find Silvano still there.
“Come on, I’ll show you around.” Silvano nudges me with his elbow, stepping towards the staircase.
“No, I should wait for Vito.”
“I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon, Bennet is quite the talker.” Silvano rolls his eyes, as if he’s dealt with it before. “Besides, I don’t have a meeting until an hour later. Come on.”
He pushes me towards the staircase gently by the small of my back before climbing the steps two at a time. I hesitate, biting my lip as I think about whether I should go with him or stay. He turns, a lazy smile on his face as he gestures for me to follow him.
“It’s just a bunch of old people in frames and artefacts in glass cases.”
“How exciting.” I mutter in amusement, climbing the staircase after I ask one of the guards to accompany us.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be back before Vito or Asher realize you left.” He smiles gently, making me nod.
The courthouse is just as Silvano described, portraits lining the walls and priceless objects protected by glass cases. Nevertheless, I stop every time I find something interesting and read the plaques accompanying the displays and paintings. Silvano brings his sarcastic sense of humor to everything, making me laugh continuously. At one point, I worried that someone would come out of one of the rooms and tell me to shut up. We continue to walk around for a while longer, joking around as I start to ease up around him.
But when we reach the deeper part of the courthouse, I shiver when I feel like somebody just touched my hair, goose bumps covering my skin as I turn to find nobody in the hall but us three. I feel cold and weird; not as safe anymore. Mumbling to Silvano about heading back, I start walking towards the staircase with my guard right by my side. But before we reach the banister, it explodes. Screaming, I’m pushed back by my guard and I stumble into a corner as chunks of stone fly across the floor.
“Ayla!” Silvano yells, running towards me.
He helps me up and the three of us start running down the unbroken side of the stairs, crying out in shock when the bottom part of the staircase crumbles into a pile of broken stones. Pulling me upstairs, we race down the hallways but the walls are being struck by an invisible force every corner we turn. I run into a room in panic and turn around to see the two start to follow me in, but it’s like an invisible force hits them and they fly back into the wall. It’s enough to create cracks in the stone and they grimace slightly, eyes meeting my terror filled ones. I move to leave the room but the door slams shut, making me scream in fright. Twisting the handle, I yell for them to help me when it doesn’t open, pounding on the wood with my fists.
“Ayla, hold on!” I hear Silvano shout but I’m distracted by the wind picking up, turning to find no windows in this room.
Suddenly, the furniture starts to float until they’re all swirling crazily, forming something like a tornado and making me look for cover. Tears are streaming down my cheeks when the wind becomes cold and I start feeling like icy shards are scraping my skin. The sound of someone laughing hysterically fills my ears, making me tremble in fear.
I stumble back into a corner, trying to teleport but failing every time. It’s like I don’t have my gift or heightened abilities anymore. Screaming in frustration, I look around for a way out, however there’s nothing but a door that offers the only way out. The noise of the wind becomes louder and louder, the feminine laugh turning high pitched to the point where it starts to hurt my ears, and the furniture starts to break into pieces.
My heart drops when all the sharp edges of the broken furniture hurtle towards me, a blood curdling scream escaping me as I curl into myself. But when I don’t feel them pierce my skin, I stand shakily, looking up to see them floating in the air in front of me. Crying out when an invisible grip tightens around my throat, I feel myself being lifted only to be struck into the wall.
The last thing I remember is the fading sound of someone talking, a hand smoothing my hair away from my forehead.
Asher Antonov’s P.O.V.
I’m itching to leave this meeting, wanting to get back to my Ayla. As much as I trust Vito, it still doesn’t stop me from worrying. Especially because Silvano is around. Clenching my jaw, I force myself to stop thinking about my cousin. The same cousin who started this whole mess. Every time I see him, I just want to beat him to a pulp for doing something so stupid.
Sighing, I tune back into the meeting only to roll my eyes discreetly when I hear them talk about how to lure Blithe out. Luring one of the most powerful witches in our realm and a clever one at that isn’t the smartest idea. Helios is in the chair next to me, bouncing his leg repeatedly which is only pissing me off more. I know he wants to get back to Sage just like I want to get back to Ayla. I still don’t like him but for the sake of my sister, I’m refraining myself from snapping his neck every time I see him.
I’m just about to say something when a loud booming sound echoes throughout the building, freezing us momentarily. Dread instantly fills me as I think of Ayla being in the building, hoping that she’s still with Vito. I never should have let her leave the castle! I think to myself. Screaming and the sound of something shattering fills my ears before the door bursts open and Silvano stumbles in with panicked eyes.
I’m out of the room in an instant, hit by the smell of her essence as I follow it. Racing down the numerous hallways, I finally come across the destruction. One of the staircases is lying in a crumbled heap of stones and as I make my way through the top floor of the courthouse, I see the walls cracked and destroyed. The sound of grunting and yells of frustration fills my ears and I turn the corner to see Vito and several guards trying to kick a door down and slamming their bodies against it repeatedly.
“What the fuck happened?!” I yell, using all my force to kick the door down. It doesn’t budge and Vito turns to me in frustration.
“Fucking Bennet wouldn’t let me leave and I guess Silvano took Ayla around the courthouse. He found me just as I reached the second floor and said she’s trapped inside a room.” He pants, cursing under his breath. “I heard her screams Asher, she sounded terrified.”
Just then, the door creaks open by itself and I immediately run in. I find nobody else in the room but my searching eyes soon land on Ayla’s body slumped in a corner. Fear seizes me as I run over, shaking her to wake her up. She doesn’t move and I check her breathing to find it labored, hearing her heart beat at a dangerously slow pace. Picking her up, I start running down the stairs and towards the exit.
But as soon as I see Silvano waiting there, I hand her over to Vito and instruct him to get the car ready, no matter how much it hurt me to be apart from Ayla. Grabbing him by the throat, I slam him up against a wall, my gums hurting as I feel my fangs ache to rip into him. Intense rage fills me and I feel like killing him right here and now.
“She was almost dead when I found her, I can’t wake her up and her heartbeat is slow.” I seethe, tightening my grip around his throat. “If anything happens to Ayla, I’ll throw you to the witch myself!”
“Asher, I...didn’t know...” He coughs out, a pained and helpless look in his eyes. “P-Please!”
“Asher, we need to get Ayla to the hospital now.” Vito interrupts, stopping me from beating the shit out of my cousin.
I run out of the entrance and get into the car, holding her close. Her breathing is unsteady; as if she’s fighting for it. My knuckles graze against her cheek and dread fills me when her skin is ice cold, my hands rubbing her face and arms to try and warm her up. I don’t remember being this scared, ever. If something happens to her, I don’t know what I’ll do.
“Vito, hurry!” I snarl, hearing the desperation in my voice. “I want Vivian there when we arrive.”
“Got it.” He replies, grabbing his phone.
We make it to the city hospital in a matter of minutes, Vito dropping me off by the entrance. The receptionist’s eyes widen when I enter, carrying Ayla in my arms. Telling me of the floor Doctor Vivian is on, I use my speed and run upstairs, not bothering to use the lift. The familiar auburn-haired woman is pacing up and down the hallway, her blue eyes widening once they land on us.
She opens the door to a room and I carry Ayla in, placing her down on the bed gently. I explain that I don’t know what happened and she reassures me that we’ll know soon. She tells a nurse to go get Astra; a younger witch who works at this hospital and is also one of closest friends. Her gift is being able to access memories and she is called in a lot of times when people can’t wake up and explain how they ended up in the hospital.
Very soon, she walks in dressed in casual clothes with a white coat thrown on. Her silver hair is tied in a bun, amethyst eyes glancing towards me before focusing on Ayla. Nodding at Vivian, she takes a seat on the bed beside her and places a hand on her forehead. Her closed eyelids flutter, a tell-tale sign that she’s looking through her memories.
A knock echoes in the room and I get up to open the door, stepping out and closing it behind me when I see that it’s Vito. Sighing heavily, I take a seat on the chair as he leans against the wall before me.
“I’m sorry.” He starts, guilt filling his eyes. “I shouldn’t have left her with Silvano no matter who called me.”
“It’s not your fault. Silvano should have known better than to walk around the place without heavy security. He knows Blithe is after him, we’re not safe anywhere anymore.” I growl, wanting to kill my cousin for putting my beloved in this state.
“Asher, can I speak to you in my office?” Vivian interrupts as Astra walks down the hallway, Vito assuring me that he’ll stay with Ayla.
I follow her, wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible so I can go back to Ayla. When I step into her office, I find Astra waiting for us with a worried look on her face. Dread fills me and I know something horrible has happened, making me feel like a failure for not protecting Ayla better.
“I want you to keep a very close eye on her, Asher.” Astra starts in a grave tone, standing from her seat. “Nobody was around when the banister was struck, Silvano and the guard were thrown back when they tried to run into the room with Ayla. She was locked in and frightened to death...but that’s not all.”
“Don’t tell me –”
“I saw the witch.” She confirms, a haunted look in her eyes. “Ayla didn’t because she was moving so fast around the room and probably cloaking herself, but I slowed down her memory. She was...enraged; as if she wanted to kill Ayla.”
“But, I found Ayla recently and have kept her at the castle ever since. This is the first time she traveled to the city with me, why would she want to kill her when she’s never met her?” I run a hand through my hair in frustration.
“I don’t know.” Astra frowns, confusion shining in her eyes. “But she got really close to her, Asher. She looked towards the door when Vito called for her and said something; a spell maybe. I’ll try and find a translation but until then, you need to watch her.”
“I will.” Worry coursing through my veins as I think about Ayla. “Report to me as soon as you come across anything.”
I leave the two in the office before making my way down the hall, back towards the room Ayla is in. Nodding to Vito, I open the door and enter, immediately greeted by her sitting up on the bed. Her pretty, emerald eyes meet mine, fear and confusion swimming in them. Relieved that she’s awake, I take a seat next to her on the bed.
“How do you feel, dragostea mea?” I lean over her slightly, brushing her hair away from her eyes. (My love)
She doesn’t say anything, but it feels like a punch to my gut when her eyes fill with tears and her bottom lip trembles. Her hands grasp my shirt and she pulls me forward, hiding her face in my chest as I sit down and hug her to me. A few seconds pass and then I hear her quiet sobs, tears wetting my shirt as she breaks down.
“Ayla...” I whisper, rubbing her back. “Don’t cry, angel. You’re safe now, I’m right here.”
She shakes her head, wrapping her arms around my neck and clinging to me tighter. Her entire body starts to shake as she cries harder, making me curse and pull her onto my lap. I wrap the blanket around her body, guiding her head to rest in the crook of my neck. It takes her a few minutes but she eventually calms down, whimpering when I try to pull away.
“Don’t leave, please.” She looks up at me with watery eyes, making me kiss her tears away.