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The Warmth of a Voice

Twelve nights had passed since Daphne’s betrayal came to light.

Weakness, dry lips, and a pale complexion persisted in her, demonstrating that the pain, which was still tearing her inside, was more alive than ever. Every night her body suffered the consequences of her actions.

The disruption of her senses, a result of the venom, led each of her victims to take advantage of her vulnerability.

The sharp blade of a dagger, the long, sharp nails of a witch, and the hungry fangs of a vampire pierce her skin every night. But even so, Daphne was successful in her task.

Looking now at the motionless body in front of her, her trembling hands grabbed the medallion, placing it on the dead man’s face, burning the skin once more.

The medallion fell from her hands when a high-pitched scream escaped from her throat, followed by a whimper. The poison was acting again. Red lines resembling a cobweb were visible on the surface of her skin. Once again, she witnessed that red mark begin to atrophy as the pain in her body intensified.

Unable to tolerate it any longer, her knees touched the filthy ground, her body bent in an attempt to pause her fall. Tears came again, running down over her cheeks swiftly. She did not know how much longer she could hold on. She wanted to break. She tried to surrender to give up any loyalty she still had.

Because Rothvaln wanted to do precisely that, to break her inside and strip her of her dignity. To finally make her his slave.

And as much as she wanted to become the absolute property of the King in each of those tormenting pangs, she still had the necessary lucidity to resist.

The accentuated veins began to change to a rosy color as the pain subsided.

Daphne squeezed her eyes tightly, breathing in enough air to stand up. A groan escaped from her again. Her eyes caught sight of a wound above her hips. An injury that she had not yet realized existed. There was a pool of red blood there, staining her clothes.

A piece of cloth torn from her cloak was pressed into the wound. And she closed her eyes. For a moment, she felt dizzy, drowsy.

Night after night, she did not sleep, suffering the unexplainable agony that haunted her when she least expected it. And all those wounds she had been carrying around. Her neck hurt, marked by those two points where that savage, two nights ago, had dared to feed on her.

Only an inexplicable fate could free her from that lethal bite. Her blood was apparently not appetizing. Not when the vampire began to spit and scream curses over the horrible taste of the liquid.

Daphne picked up the medallion and saw herself in a flash in that place, which she now hated more than ever. Walking once more along the same path to the residence of the King of the Demons.

Once inside, she continued to walk through those familiar dark corridors without even looking around. Nothing interested her, nothing. Not when her body kept alerting her of the wound she was now hiding behind her usual cloak.

Her face remained in the darkness of her hood, hiding the state she was in from the eyes of the onlookers. The male murmurs stopped once her presence was noticed. Rothvaln and Myron watched her from a safe distance.

Myron’s penetrating gaze scanned her face, finally stopping at her right hand. Daphne knew perfectly well what he was surveying. She felt her own blood running down her arm and finally slipping through her fingers.

Myron did not display any mocking gestures. It was the first time Daphne had seen him after the last time.

Neither Myron, Teias, Lorcan, nor James had returned to the house. They had all disappeared without a trace. And as apprehensive as she felt about her brother’s whereabouts, something told her that James was safe for now. No matter how much she hated Lorcan, she felt that at least the grey-eyed demon would somehow pose no danger to her brother for the time being. She just had to play her cards right for now. Something she had understood the night Rothvaln had become a real monster in her eyes.

“Ah, my dear,” Rothvaln said to her condescendingly. As if it didn’t affect him to see her in such a physical state. “Well?”

Daphne heard the same word as every night. Rothvaln wanted to know who was behind everything.

Before she could give any answer, her hands closed in fists, trembling, red veins came out, and as the strike of unforeseen lightning, the poison began to act once more. She groaned, drowning out the scream that she so badly needed to let out, but she knew well that she would not do that, never, not in front of Myron and Rothvaln.

Her closed eyes, her moaning, and those veins pulsing in her skin like silent killers caught Myron’s attention. “What’s wrong with her?” Myron asked, feigning ignorance, knowing full well what Daphne was suffering.

“I’m just teaching her a lesson.” With his hands in his pockets, Rothvaln gave her an empty look.

“What did she do this time?”

“She did something she shouldn’t have.”

Myron didn’t dare ask any more questions, not wanting to voice any suspicions. He knew very well why she was being punished. Gathering himself up, he sighed in boredom. And with indifference, he looked at Daphne and then at the King. “Well, this is all very lovely, but I must go. My King” With a slight bow of the head, he left.

Long minutes passed, and the poison began to dissolve again.

“You know you don’t have to suffer that torture. If you tell me who did it, you can sleep soundly tonight”.

Daphne’s vision became blurred with every second. Paleness was gaining on her, but she had to keep her composure in front of him. Not wanting to let him win this battle.

“I have nothing to say,” finally, those same words came out of her mouth again with hardly any strength, but with the decision inscribed in each one of them.

“Why are you so stubborn? You and I know very well that you will give in at some point. You are only prolonging the inevitable.”

She believed that it would never happen, but with every wave of pain that threatened to destroy her lucidity, she hesitated.

“Very well. Tomorrow again. Blake Morrison, a mortal.”

Daphne pulled herself together, watching Rothvaln turn his back on her.

Back to her home. A place that has been empty for over a week. With no sign that her brother would return, Daphne released her cloak, falling to the ground.

The unlit fireplace in her living room had a blurred image. She wasn’t sure if it was so close to her or if she had moved further away. She needed to hold on, just a little longer. Her hands, stained with her own blood, lifted her blouse, revealing the new wound above her hip. Even the blood continued to flow. She hissed in pain, then decided to get rid of her clothes and at least clean herself with the strength she had left.

The slow movements led to her shirt, finally being removed. Only when her fingers began to unbutton her trousers did the torture begin again. She repeatedly screamed in desperation, writhing on the floor.

The poison poured out, drop by drop, the burning pain that her body was suffering once again. The rain from her eyes was the natural response to her continuous wailing.

Lying on the floor, looking up at the white ceiling, she only wished that someone would end her agony because she didn’t dare to do so, no.

I can’t take it anymore- she cried out silently. The red veins became darker and darker, producing such a familiar and despicable burning.

Her body curled up in the fetal position. Between sobs, she had not noticed that she was no longer alone. Only when a pair of black and elegant shoes appeared in her blurred vision did she know that he had come for her.

“Please,” begged Daphne, with tears in her eyes. “Help me,” she implored for the first time, trying to reach for those shoes.

Her eyelids were heavy, her body needed to surrender to the darkness, and Daphne obeyed. A distant voice sounded like an echo in the depths of her mind. That raspy voice, commanding action, was vaguely familiar. The same voice repeated itself over and over again, but she couldn’t respond. She just wanted to keep sleeping.

Only when she felt her head being pushed and something tangible touched her lips, opening them forcefully, pouring a liquid that she tasted metallic, she made an effort to open her eyes just a little. Her gaze seemed lost, but Daphne could see that a firm hand held the glass in which she was now drinking.

A calm was beginning to replace the storm she had been enduring until now. As she finished drinking, she felt herself being carefully lifted. Her body reacted to the warmth of the muscles that protected her. At times she gave in to the darkness. Ultimately noticing that her bed welcomed her.

She wanted to thank him. To take him by the hand and ask him to forgive her. After all, she knew that only Rothvaln could rescue her once more from her misery.

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