Their bodies smashed into ours and together we all collided into the baseboards from the combined force. My head snapped backwards and hit the ice as I went down with the rest of the heap. Pain exploded in the back of my mind, blinding me to my surroundings. I tried opening my eyes, so I could gain sight of Lynna and the others, but I found I could not mostly because the light was so bright it hurt.
What had happened? Where was Lynna? And was she okay? Did I block the damage from her?
My questions went unanswered. I heard bits and pieces of what followed. Slowly my hearing returned, and with it a string of curse words let loose above me. Someone was upset about my interference.
“He wasn’t even supposed to be there!” the rough guy from the wolves’ box angrily stated.
“You know what the board will say,” another guy spoke up, but I didn’t recognize his voice.
Ella’s face appeared in my mind. I smelled her perfume; she must be somewhere close by.
“They need medical attention,” she cried.
Who did? Me? Lynna?
I tried angling myself, so I could sense who else was hurt, but even without the use of my eyes I found I could not move much. I ended up grunting.
“He’s awake!” Coach C. exclaimed. “How is that possible in his condition?”
“Don’t move Garrett,” Ella’s voice soothed me. The pain in my head receded when she talked aloud. “Don’t move, if you can hear me, don’t move.”
I had yet to hear Lynna’s voice. I should be hearing her voice chastising me for what I did. Someone picked me up and I was placed onto a hard stretcher. They were hauling me away from the ice, away from Lynna, wherever she was.
“Lynna,” I mumbled.
“I’m going with her,” Ella answered.
“What?” It was all I got out before my head exploded again with blinding pain. But it wasn’t just my head that was on fire, it was my body. I struggled to get out of the restraints against my chest and arms. What were the paramedics doing to me? Was it the same two that tried harming me in the ambulance?
My chest and heart, my skin and bones all felt like I was being ripped into pieces. I was dying and shredding into nothing. Brightness, beyond the sunlight and fluorescent bulbs overtook my vision. It cascaded around my eyes filling me with different arrays of colors that combined to form the blinding whiteness. Even as the new light shone behind my eyes, the pain never receded, but grew worse and worse. And just as I thought I wouldn’t be able to escape the pain, it ceased. Warmth spread through my veins and my blood churned with new life.
I floated out of my body for a time, keeping pace with the glowing light. I burst out beyond the stars and stared down upon two worlds. One was shrouded in darkness and light; that world I knew was Lynna’s home. I recognized the spotty terrain on the outside from when I first visited the place. The other planet was a replica of Earth. With sudden speed, I fell into it, right into my body the day that I saw Lynna for the first time. It was the first time I had truly noticed her frail body. The first time I shared my lunch with her and she liked it. The time I tried talking with her, but she rejected conversation and moved away, completely ignoring me after a few months though I never gave up until much later. The memories sped past each other, one after the other. We grew up and I always caught her lonely face at different periods of time, but never spoke to her about it. And I ignored her until that fateful day. I was shot in the chest with the crystal shard and I expected to feel the pain begin anew, but it was not there. I lay in my body for a time until the darkness receded, and I awoke once more. This time I was in another room I didn’t recognize. It looked like an attic but had little furnishings. The bed I lay on was several generations old. The sheets were a pale grey and the brass chipped and tarnished in places.
I turned my head and caught sight of Lynna, sitting on a stool near a small window. She stared out of it into the night sky. I clearly saw the star she gazed up at from where I lay, knowing now what she stared at.
How long had I slept here? And what had happened to me?
Without turning her head, she spoke. “I didn’t expect you to awaken.” She stood up and crossed over to the other side of the bed. There was a wooden chair beside me and she sat down on it. “How are you feeling?”
I pushed myself upright. I felt pain in my chest and I gasped out in surprise.
Lynna stared at me with worry written all over her face.
I glanced down and expected to see a gaping wound in my chest, but there was nothing there. I gazed back up at Lynna, hoping that she would explain things.
“I’m sorry this happened,” she apologized.
I stared at her. She looked fine; no scratches, no harm had come to her. “You seem to be alright,” I whispered.
She shut her eyes and stood back up. “You don’t understand. This should never happen to someone like you.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked her.
She paced the floor for a moment. “I would’ve been fine,” she whispered softly and sat back down. “It’s you that isn’t alright. You aren’t going to be you anymore.”
I couldn’t understand her words. They were cryptic to my ears. I felt like me still, so what was the problem. “Lynna, please explain what happened. What exactly do you mean I won’t be me anymore?”
She sighed and met my gaze. “When you thought you were saving me, and you jumped in front of the crystal shard, you died.”
I… What? I died? Me? Dead? Then how was I able to think and talk and feel pain? Dead people didn’t do those things. “How?” I stuttered out.
“The shard hit the main artery in your heart. There was so much blood, I didn’t think that I could…But I did. And now you’ll never be the same.” She only half explained things, but I didn’t understand.
“What did you do?”
Her eyes never left mine. “I broke the law.”
I frowned. “How could you break a law to save my life?”
“You don’t understand. I didn’t break human laws; I broke the Immortal Code.”
Immortal? What was she talking about?
She sighed again, but this time a tear escaped her eyes. It fell down her cheek and onto her hand. “After you fell, I disposed of the last guy and hauled you away with Harrison. You were already bleeding, and I tried staunching the flow out of your body, but it wasn’t enough. Your heart slowed, and your pulse weakened. You were so pale, and your death was on my hands. You tried saving me, from the ones who came to destroy me; but it was you who succumbed to the first death. I did what I did to rectify the situation. And I knew it would break the code, but it was the only way. I’m sure I’ll be executed for what I did. My powers will be stripped from me, but it was the only way to fix this. You are an innocent in our matters. I was careful, but not careful enough.”
I reached over and took her hand. “Lynna, I still don’t know what it is you’re talking about. Why am I alive if I died? What happened?”
She glanced up into my eyes. “No mortal could come back from an intense loss of blood that you succumbed to. I corrected the situation, by putting my blood into your body.”
“A transfusion?” I questioned her wondering if that’s what she tried describing.
“But that’s not illegal,” I began. “Surely your culture understands that transfusions are allowed. They save lives.”
She didn’t smile like I thought she would. “In the mortal world yes, but in the immortal world, where my kind doesn’t die like humans do, transfusions break the code.”
I blinked. Immortal. She believed she was an immortal. “Lynna, you can’t possibly be…a…vampire.” I stated it. They were the only form of immortals that I knew of.
She shook her head. “Vampires don’t exist, Garrett. I’m not talking about blood sucking monsters that come back from the dead. I belong to a sect of Immortals who live secretly on earth. We don’t die like mortals do. We are reborn throughout time, living in the same bodies we were created in. I am not a vampire, and neither are you.”
I frowned. “No vampire?”
She shook her head.
I breathed with relief. I didn’t want to suck anyone’s blood. “If you’re an immortal, what does that make me?”
“I don’t know what will happen to you. There are stories of what happens when the code is broken, but I don’t know if they’re true. This hasn’t been done in centuries, probably eras in your world’s timeline. The only thing I can do to help you understand us is to show you my world.”
She reached out and touched my forehead. Instantly my eyes closed. I was out of my body again, flying through the stars and once more I looked down upon the two worlds, the world of Earth and Lynna’s home. This time I sped towards the other planet and landed near the green grass where I first had the original vision. The young girl with the molasses colored hair stood in the middle of the field next to a black marbled statue. Several men and women fought in the battle against a shadow in the darkness. The vision I witnessed several months ago flashed before my eyes anew.
This is my home, Lynna spoke in my mind. Our world is locked in a civil war. We fight with each other. The Imperious controls the shadow people. She attacked our Empress and seized control of our home. She imprisoned her into a crystal prison that we cannot enter. Many believe the Empress to be dead, but she is alive. We fight for her freedom, as well as ours. My family is loyal to her chosen warrior, Lord Trionden. In the middle of the chaos that followed the Empress’s capture, the elders of our enclave sent me and my siblings to Earth for protection. The ones who came before us to the mortal world found that we could survive inside human bodies until we matured. We sought out discarded children and infants to use as our host body and infused our immortal essence into the dead ones. We became human to gain our freedom, but even though we possess our immortal powers they appear visibly. Our epilepsy is a sign of this condition, especially when we have no control over unleashing them in view of the mortal’s eyes.
There were others here before us, ones loyal to the Imperious before the coup. They infused their blood with the humans, forcing a transfusion of immortal blood into the living mortals. The transfusion was not successful. The mortals went mad and were driven into insanity, binding them to the shadow tree for stability. They were given names; we call them the Demyls, but they belong to the Imperious and cannot think for themselves. Only a handful of these beings survived and regained their consciousness, unbinding them from the shadow tree. One of them takes care of me, his name is Harrison, he is loyal to the Empress. After the disastrous attempts to understand how mortal and immortal blood could be combined, the experiments were stopped, and the elders of the Empress deemed them unnecessary as well as harmful to the mortal world. This was how the code was born. None of our kind has broken that code; none of us that remain loyal to the Empress.
The world disappeared once more, and I was back in what I now thought to be Lynna’s room. Her hand was white again, and she trembled slightly.
I thought about what she told me. I could go crazy from what I witnessed as a response to the immortal blood inside my mortal body. “How long does it take for the effects to surface?” I asked her, wondering how long I had my mind intact for.
“A few days. Eventually you’ll feel nothing.”
“And what will happen to me?” I queried once more.
She shrugged. “I don’t know really. You could die. You could be cast into a mental institution. It all depends on what happens. Most don’t remember who they were, especially once the shadow descends. Harrison was one of the lucky ones.”
I nodded. No wonder she was scared. She saved my life and in return I had a ninety nine percent chance I might go crazy in response to her blood transfusion. It didn’t take me long before I figured it out. Despite the high chance that I would go mental, I knew that I didn’t care much. I was myself still. I felt like myself, and I knew that would never change.
“Thank you,” I stated solemnly.
She froze in place, completely taken back by my apology.
Suddenly the door to her bedroom broke open and two younger children stormed inside Lynna’s room. They looked nothing like her, and even though they were children, they had the mannerisms of adults.
“What is the meaning of this?” the black skinned boy queried Lynna. “Do you realize what you’ve done? What will happen to us if they find out?”
The mocha colored girl crossed her arms and stared at me. “I say we end his life now. He’s going to go crazy eventually. He’s already a threat to the life we’ve built here.”
Lynna sighed. “I had no choice,” she restated for their hearing. “This was all an accident.”
“Well how are we supposed to explain this ’accident’ to the enclave?” the girl exclaimed. “You know there are no accidents, child of Deia.”
I blinked at them all. They spoke Gaelic to each other.
Lynna whirled on them. “Then you explain to our father how they attacked me in front of him, a mortal. This is their doing, they knew that he was a mortal and they attacked me anyway. Garrett only acted because he honestly thought I was in danger. He never had any knowledge of our life or our history until two minutes ago,” she explained.
The boy raised an eyebrow. “You told him? You told him about our world?”
“I had no choice.”
The kid was furious. “That’s not your decision to make, Lynna,” he said with as much contempt as he could muster.
The small girl glared at me with renewed fury. “He knows about us?”
“He will no longer be safe but hunted like the rest of us and without power that we were gifted with to dispatch our enemies. Why did you tell him?” she demanded shifting her focus onto my friend.
“It was his right to know what happened,” Lynna refuted.
“But our family’s immortal blood runs through his body, Lynna! We cannot hide that! He will be hunted.”
The boy put his hand on the girls’ arm. “There’s an advantage here for us, Kells. We could use him as bait, to catch the remaining adversaries that are after us. We all know we could survive here a little longer, undetected, if they were dispatched.”
I nearly froze with rage. “Excuse me?” I blurted out. Up until that point I had no trouble keeping silent, but that wasn’t possible anymore.
The two children snapped their eyes in my direction. “He speaks.”
“He understands,” Lynna sighed drastically.
“That’s impossible,” the girl scoffed. “If he knows our language then he must be destroyed.”
“Hey, now,” I began and started climbing out of bed.
Lynna moved in front of me, blocking my path to the two siblings. But they were quicker. The girl knocked Lynna aside as if she were a rag doll. The boy collided with me and pushed my body back into the wall, aiming for a blow at my head. I ducked and turned around, pinning him instead. I grasped his neck with renewed fury. Child or not, his treatment of me was unacceptable, and he meant to end my life in that moment until I counterattacked him. He struggled against the muscles in my arms, seeking to dislodge me, but I would not budge.
The boy stopped struggling suddenly and relaxed.
“Let him go, Garrett,” Lynna stated from beside me.
I noted that she didn’t plead with me, nor ask nicely. “Why?” I growled at the boy. If they meant to harm Lynna I would punish them.
“He won’t harm you,” she answered factitiously.
I relaxed my grip on the boy and let him fall to the ground.
He landed on his feet and straightened up. “He’s too far into the change to be dealt with swiftly. I thought you said you did this an hour ago?” he questioned Lynna.
“Does it matter?” she whispered.
“Of course, it matters. Everything about this situation does. Now as the family leader, I see only one course of action here. He must be killed, now.”
“I second that vote,” the girl exclaimed from his side. She materialized out of the darkness and regained her sleek composure.
“I think that is an unwise decision young master,” another voice resounded from the doorway. The man entered the room and I could only guess that this was Harrison. He spoke in a rich English accent. “If you choose to kill the boy, then you will be dealing with Lynna who made the decision to save his life.”
The boy looked upset over the man’s words. “He’s a threat, Harrison. I cannot allow him to live.”
“I doubt that decision is up to you.”
The girl stared incredulously at Lynna. “Are you serious? You would leave us if we killed this mere… mortal?”
Lynna clenched her jaw. “I am the one who should be held accountable for the events. I am the one who broke the code. Leave him out of this mess.”
“But he knows too much. He knows about us and about you! Already the change is taking hold over him! He understands our language!”
I interjected now. “I understood Gaelic even before I met Lynna!” I shouted at them.
The girl looked surprised. “How?”
“My mother taught me.”
“Is this true?” she asked Lynna for confirmation.
Lynna nodded. “He overheard me talking to Harrison on the phone. I couldn’t explain at the time.”
“See, Harrison!” the boy yelled at the man. “He is a threat to us! He should die!”
I heard the terror behind his words. He seriously was afraid of me.
“There isn’t any way around this. He will become one of them!” the girl hissed.
Lynna tensed up.
The boy turned and glared at me with chocolate eyes that smoldered like coals. “There’s only one way that we can all be protected here, especially Lynna. For her sake, would you promise to withhold all information pertaining to her world from yours? And in by doing so you will protect her from your world without ever knowing the truth about the immortals?” he asked me.
Lynna glanced at me. “Don’t.”
The girl nudged her in the side. “It’s his choice. He wants to protect you, Lynna. This is the only way he can save his life and yours.”
I nodded. “I guess I can do that.”
Lynna frowned. “Cass…don’t you dare…”
“It’s too late,” he interjected. “I’ll take that as an acceptance.” He smugly smiled.
Lynna flew across the room and threw the boy’s body into the wall. Pieces of wood drifted down to the floor from the impact. “Cassidhe Keillan Ashfir you rescind that right now! That was not an oath!” she yelled at him.
He smiled. “No. And you want to know why, Lynna? Because it will protect us all and no one will ever know what you did to save his life.” He trained his eyes on me and smiled widely. “Even him.” It was the last thing I saw before I blacked out again.
But in the back of my mind I knew the truth. I remembered it all, every single piece of what happened that day. It was all I needed.