I start scratching at the ground, trying to pry the stones from the floor.
"Noelle!" Alex says softly, "It's time to go."
My fingers bleed against the stones but there is something there, I can feel it. I can't leave until I check.
I start using the tip of the dagger to pull the stones from the ground. When the first stone finally comes loose there are wooden boards beneath it.
Celine sucks in a breath and bends down to help me, ripping at the stones. Everyone else soon joins, pulling up the stones to reveal a second trap door. Miles pulls the chord, opening the wooden door to another hole in the ground.
I vaguely hear Alex as I jump into the hole, barely holding onto the ladder as I fall to the bottom. I don't have time to waste.
The room is freezing like rest. It's so dark I can hardly see.
A strip of glowing light illuminates the floor on one end of the room. I stumble in the darkness toward it. It's another door. I grab the handle before I feel a hand on my shoulder.
"Elle, wait," Alex is getting impatient but I can't stop myself. I don't care what kind of dangers may be waiting, I need to look.
I push the door open.
I can hardly believe its him. This has to be a dream.
What have they done to him? He's laying on a table, dull and lifeless. His skin looks like his fathers did, thin and leathery, stretched over his bones. He looks dead. It doesn't make sense.
I hear the others gasp behind me as I grab his face, touching his cold body. He doesn't feel like Phoenix. I don't sense him, the bond isn't there.
"Phoenix?" I whimper as I try to shake him, trying to stir any signs of life.
"Phoenix!" My voice is strained, desperate.
"They... they drained him," Sloane whispers, horror in her voice.
I don't think, my body moves on it's own. I pull the dagger against my hand and press it to his cold lips.
Everyone behind me springs into action. I ignore it. I can only focus on him, on his pale, gaunt face.
"Noelle, move, we have his blood, let us connect him to a line."
"Connect him," my voice sounds tortured, "I'm staying right here until you're finished."
I hear Miles sigh, he knows he's going to have to physically remove me from him until they start the iv.
"Hurry up, start the lines," Alex orders, "she's going to drain herself."
They move quickly around me, using tubes and needles, bags and tape, I barely look up.
His lips are pinker than they were before, only slightly but it's a start.
"Ok, Noelle," Celine grabs my hand, "the line has started, he will be alright soon."
For a moment the room is silent as Dannon wraps my hand, then my chest with a bandage.
"Why would they do this to him?"
"It's a fate worse than death. He wouldn't have ever died, just stayed down here, forever, in that state," Celine answers, her voice shaking.
The room spins around me. He's here, he's still alive, kind of. I need him to open his eyes. I won't believe it's real until he opens his eyes. I feel sick, my stomach knotted together as I watch him, my eyes glued to his.
The bags are getting low and his skin no longer looks sunken in.
"Lay down with him, Noelle," Celine whispers, "it will help both of you."
I move reluctantly, laying next to his motionless body. I don't want rest or comfort until I know that he is going to be alright, the only reason I do it is to try to help him.
I lay my head against his chest and close my burning eyes, focusing my fleeting energy on his skin, waiting to feel something, anything. I can't help but feel comforted just by being close to him. I grip his hand tightly in mine, a feeling I never thought I would feel again.
I drift to sleep at some point unable to keep myself conscious for one second longer.
A loud bang pulls me from sleep. I jolt up and turn to see several vampires rushing the room.
I look around frantically, Phoenix is still unconscious. It's just Celine and me.
She jumps up and starts to fight with them but there are three of them and she is unarmed.
One of them pushes past her and grabs me. I shift but it's excruciating, the wound from my chest isn't healed yet, I'm weak and slow.
We roll across the floor, a clashing of teeth, fangs and claws, each of us ripping at one another.
I'm able to howl, hoping someone can hear me.
I look to Celine, one of the vampires is badly injured but the other is overpowering her quickly. She's bleeding from wounds on her face and neck.
She makes eye contact with me, it registers to both of us that we are losing.
The vampire I'm fighting throws me forcefully against the wall, the stone cracking.
I slide onto the floor, trying to pick myself up but I can't take a full breath, my ribs burn in my chest.
I watch in horror as one of them lights a match and takes a step toward Phoenix.
I shift and scream until a blur sweeps past me. Celine runs at full speed into the vampire, flinging her cape around all of them.
As the match makes contact with her cape it ignites, instantly engulfing all of them in flames.
"Celine!" I shriek but it's too late. She's gone.
I hobble toward Phoenix but fall to the ground before I can get to him.