33. Mark's True colors
“Who are you?” I shout blindly in the darkness. The old ballroom now vanished from my sight. I can see nothing but darkness. I grit my teeth, now I really wish I was a vampire. But nonetheless rather than duelling on my fate, I grip the knife in my hand tightly and stay alert. I don’t know if the sword is effective against other supernatural creatures, but if this unknown attacker is a vampire then they are in for a fight.
I stay put, listening if I can hear any footsteps but I’m surprised when the silence is broken by a familiar voice. “Oh Rose! It’s been like what? A few weeks and you have already forgotten about me? I am disappointed.” My body tenses immediately as I turn in the direction of the voice. .
Behind the shadows, the intruder finally reveals itself and it’s none other than my stepmother, Jennet Gracia. She wears a red claim similar to mine, only hers is filled with symbols. The first thing I see of her emerging from the darkness is her eyes. The same odd one green and one blue eye. I get goosebumps all over me. Jennet looks much older than the last time I saw her. Her cheekbones already seemed to have been carved more inward and her hair, which was dark and most of the time tied in a bun, now has grey stripes as it falls just below her shoulders. I only find out now that she has curly hair instead of wavy.
I take a few steps back, with all the courage leaving me in a single blow.
“How did you find me?” I ask and try to keep a neutral face. I shall not let her see my fear.
She laughs at my question wickedly but before she could say anything, she starts coughing hardly. My eyes widen, is she injured? Weak? Can I overpower her?
She stops shortly, clearing her throat as he grins,“How did I find you? How wouldn’t I find you? You are moving just according to my plan.“. I stay silent and when she doesn’t see me scream or confused, she tilts her head. She stares at me darkly, wanting me to cower but I keep my back straight and face neutral.
Finally a red faced Jennet asks me, “No reply?”
I smirk. “Your lie is not worth replying to. You and I both know you didn’t expect me to come to Scarenville, your rival area. By coming here, I made things even harder for you, didn’t l?” I say lazily. Jennet remains quiet with her jaw tight. Maybe she isn’t as invincible as both of us had thought before. I take the opportunity to vex her and continue, “You see, gritting your teeth makes you older.” That seems to hit a spot instantly.
“That’s all because of you!” She snaps, venom pouring from each word. Seeing her true form for some reason makes me feel better. Finally I could say I hadn’t judged a person because of looks. Maybe I am just good at reading people.
“Me? What did silly-ole me do this time?” I ask and she scowls.
“Because of you I had to go through hell to just come here! You have no clue how much I have suffered! You don’t know anything!” She accuses me by pointing a bony finger at me.
I keep a bored expression and huff at her response. “Maybe. But I am not going back to you,” I say and that agitates Jennet more.
“You! You don’t have a choice! I’ll-”
“Oh I actually do” I state and in two clean moves I stab Jennet in her ribcage. She lets out a groan and coughs blood. I don’t waste my time on seeing this, I need to get out here.
I run into the darkness, away from Jennet and surely after a few leaps, I can finally see the hallway. Yes! Just as expected it was an illusion. From behind me I can hear Jennet chanting something and my speed increases. I need to get out of here. I don’t care about the loud echoes my shoes are causing or how some portraits seem to be smiling at me. I just keep running and when I cross several rooms, I finally see the meeting room. Yes, I can locate myself out of here. Just go straight and take a-
The meeting room opens and Mark comes out of the room. Spotting me he freezes.
“Rose… what are you doing here?” he asks, clearly confused.
I rush towards him and embrace him in a hug. Hope… something I feel after a long time.
“I don’t have time to explain. Jennet’s here… and...and...we need to get out of here” I pant out as I clutch onto him tightly.
“Okay… but how did you get out of the illusion?” he asks and tilts his head. We still haven’t broken away from the hug and I feel something is wrong.
“What? How did you know of the illusion?” I ask softly and when he says nothing I look up to see him.
He looks down at me and I feel small, even though I am just an inch shorter than him. His green eyes are unreadable just like his brother and his lips are slightly opened, and eyebrows slightly raised.
I feel like puking. I push him away from me and sneer at him in disgust.“You...you plotted this didn’t you?” I say and can’t hide the hurt laced in my words.
“The Adler’s are not faithful, are they?” he muses and before I spit at him, I hear Jennet’s annoying voice.
“Catch her, you buffoon! That wretched little-”
“Shut-up your voice is so annoying,” Mark says casually, putting his hands in his pockets. Him voicing out my opinion doesn’t improve my situation and remembering that I left the knife with Jennet I am now utterly hopeless. Nonetheless Mark did teach me to fight, there is still a little ray of hope.
“You!” Jennet points over at him, “Watcha doing standing there? Catch her!” I see Jennet limping over. Though her wound is healed, she seems to still be needing medical attention.
Mark clicks his tongue and starts to circle me like a prey. I stay alert ready to attack him the moment he attacks me.
“You won’t fight against your teacher will you?” he asks, his green eyes completely focused on me.
“I won’t unless necessary,” I reply and don’t leave my gaze away from him. I may be in the circle like a prey but we both know that I am not a prey anymore. To gain my trust, Mark gave me some really useful information and when I tried it on him, it did prove to be true so we both know I am no longer a harmless mortal. I am now a predator.
“Hmm I see. You must be wishing to go back to Damien don’t you?” he questions, smiling. I glare at him and close my hands into fists.
“No, I am not dependent on anyone. Not anymore.” I shake my head and watch him continue to circle me. Behind us we can hear Jennet cursing and honestly Jennet is now a cartoon; the main demon here is Mark as I still don’t know the reason he is doing this.
Before I could ask, he smiles dryly at me. “That’s good to hear considering you won’t be seeing him from now onwards,” he says with a smug expression on his face, and my heart stops beating.
“Oh I killed him. Why do you think I would be in the meeting room so late?” He asks with a coy smirk tugging at his lips. I really want to accuse him of lying, but there is no denying his coat is ruined, with the specks of dust apparent on his face. All the air seems to leave my body and the world seems to be moving too fast.
The knife Mark raises in his hand is covered in blood, making my breathing hitch as he takes a step closer to me. Before I can react, he shoves it in my stomach, cutting my skin open.
As I collapse onto the ground, I can’t help but think of what he’d just said, silently hoping he was lying.