I elbow Echo out of the way as he was taking his precious time to walk up the few steps that stood between us and whatever it was that I felt drawn to behind that door. I get to the top and huff in frustration when I turn the handle and realize the door was locked. I bounce nervously in place and Echo gives me a baffled look as he pulls out the keys once more.
"You ok there?" He inquires. I nod and sigh in relief when the door swings open and my feet finally make it across the threshold. I stop short as the intense need dissipates and I'm left confused as to what caused it in the first place. Looking around the room I see items much different from the ones on the lower level. While there had been numerous weapons, swords, hammers arrows and the like, there were more jewelry pieces in this area. There were a number of fur pelts and even some elongated teeth in jars in this room. The magic pulsed all aorund me in waves, making it difficutlt to dissern what lured me here in the first place.
"What is all this?" I ask, running my hand over one of the pelts. It was a dark colour, grey almost black, and it was soft against my fingertips.
"This floor houses more wolf stuff, that's why the room isn't as big and why there's alot of pelts and," He turn one of the jars over in his hand before settling it back onto the shelf. "Teeth. The room is basically off limits to anyone who isn't a wolf. We like our ceremonies and traditions."
My eyes dart to his, "So why did you allow me to come in? You could have told me that before, I would have searched for something in the other room." I couldn't believe he would just let me waltz in here without warning me first. I turn to leave but his hand wraps around my bicep, pulling me to a stop.
"Relax. First of all, you're here to help me so if this was where you felt you needed to go then so be it, Alpha gave you free rein. Secondly, if the ancestors had a problem with you in here you wouldn't have gotten past the door, the room is literally only for wolves." He shrugs his shoulders like it's no big deal.
I look away from him so that he wouldn't be able to read any expression that may show up on my face. He's thinking the ancestors allowed my presence, I'm not so sure. I'm thinking it was ok for me to get over that threshold because I was part wolf as well. I suddenly felt a thrum of power coming from a glass case further into the room and quietly made my way to it. Within the case lay a dark orb, the size of a grape, and power emanated from it. Echo looks at me with a mixture of excitement and fear before he walks over to the case and plucks the orb from it's cushioned position. I have to hold back the snarl that threatens to rip from my lips at the thought of someone else's hands on the thing.
"It's not this, is it?" His shoulders sag and the chagrin is clear in his expression. I shake off the possessive feeling that had descended upon me moments before and try to focus on the task at hand.
"What it is?" My voice comes out in barely a whisper but he hears the question just the same.
"It's called Oculus. The story goes, that it was once the eye of the first Vkodlak ever and when he died, killed in battle, his best friend who happened to be the most powerful witch in existence, placed his spirit into his eye, the only thing left of his body after he sacrificed his life to save her child."
"Morgana. That's the witch you're talking about isn't it?" He nods in confirmation.
"I knew it was a long shot that it would be for me. I mean, if the Oculus hadn't even chosen Alpha Cree to be his conduit why would it chose me?"
"Why should it have chosen him?" Though curiosity was at the forefront, the niggling feeling of another magic presence kept pulling at me. Nothing as strong as what I felt with this Oculus, but it's almost like the two items were senient beings. One saying not me and the other yipping like a happy puppy begging to be set free.
"I keep forgetting you're new around here." He sets the Oculus back onto it's place in the center of the cushion and I'm flooded with relief. "Alpha Cree is a direct descendant of the first Vkodlak, Lucien, it would have made sense for it to accept him, but no matter the wolf to touch it, it always remains dormant."
"But it's not dormant." He looks at me, confusion written on his face. "I can feel the power coming off of it, it's almost suffocating." His eyes light up in excitement.
"You mean? Has it chosen me?" It's clear he wants this to be his conduit, the reasoning behind it may not be clear but I can tell how badly he wants this. I hate to be the one to bear the bad news.
"No, I can feel the magic, but your item is on the shelf back there, it's like it has a mind of it's own and has been hounding me to tell you where it is for the past five minutes."
He dashes over to the shelf in question and I know when he's found it, hidden in the back amongst all the other artifacts, because the thing squeals in delight. He turns around to confirm his findings but I didn't expect the giant canine tooth that hung from a leather chain that was gripped firmly in his hand. I confirm that it's indeed the item and watch as he marvels at it.
My attention is once more brought to the orb, which I now know is an eye, and I slowly move my finger toward it. They hover over it for about two seconds before wrapping aroung the cool, smooth ball. At once I can feel the true depth of it's power, the warmth coursing through me causing me to gasp softly. My amazement turns to horror when the orb, which was once nestled in my palm, slowly sinks into my skin. Shock and fear consume me, prohibitting speech or any other kind of reaction as I look on in horror as the orb disappears below my skin. It's only when I see the black snake like veins moving up my arms that I release a horrified scream. Echo is at my side in an instant.
"What- what is that?" His eyes trail the black veins, which have now gotten to my elbows.
"Get it out. Get it out." I claw at my palm but the spot where the Oculus disappeared has already closed back up like nothing ever happened. "It's the Oculus, it's in my hand." Echo looks into my palm and when he sees nothing there he looks at me like I've completely lost it. His eyes go wide when he notices something on my arm. Horror fills me when I see that the black veins have not only gotten to my shoulder but the trail it left behind has now turned into some sort of weird tattoo.
Lines spiral all the way around my arm, intertwining with each other in some sort of dance I never learned the moves to. I look at Echo and I'm certain the fear I see in his eyes is reflected in my own. Heat races up my hand, trailing the path of the now tattoo and I can't help the scream that bursts free. The pain is like nothing I've ever felt before, searing me from the inside out. I try once more to gouge the death orb from below my skin but it's of no use, I can feel my energy being drained from me.
I'm dying. This is how I die.
I can feel myself being pulled into the darkness and at this point it's welcoming and I silently beg the darkness to pull me under. My eyes droop and my vision is hazy. The last thing I hear before I'm pulled completely under is Echo's gasp before he says,