Roses are Red
Nurse Hilda took a look at my wound and grabbed her tools. I was lucky that she was able to stitch it up, she told me, and then went on about the dangers of leaving it open for too long. Just a warning, she also said.
“I’m going back out there,” Germaine said. “Rest up, Vampire Girl.”
As she left, Nurse Hilda glanced at me before continuing her suturing.
“You look like you haven’t slept. Or eaten.”
“No,” she argued. “You need something to drink, at least.”
She handed me a cup of water. I drank it and put it aside. “I’m a little afraid of what’s to come.”
She didn’t look up, “Why not? Fear is anticipation, the battle’s only just begun.”
I sat in silence for a while longer while she finished. The cold energy inside me was all I could feel, swirling and reaching every muscle and bone in my body. I had dropped my wand at the guard post—or left it on purpose—so I would have to put off casting spells for the time being.
But what did this mean? No more spellcasting?
Nurse Hilda snipped the extra thread. “I’m not a doctor so this’ll do. I’m going to patch you up before sending you back out there.”
I thanked her and reached for the door but it opened before I could even turn the door knob. Tristan’s face was pale with worry and anxiety. There were cuts and bruises on his knuckles.
“Are you all right? Germaine told me what happened.”
I left the nurse’s office and shut the door behind me. Tristan strode by my side as I made my way through the corridor to leave the South wing for the North where the battle was mostly happening.
We stepped into the courtyard to cut through the centre of the building. A statue of an eagle carved in stone stood in the middle of it; the symbol of the Virtuoso. The courtyard was built at the side of the building, facing a cliff that overlooked nothing but a thick fog. Growls and roars echoed from the far end—the chaos had descended onto the battlefield. Tristan waited for my answer and I avoided his gaze.
“My suture was torn from the fall but I’m okay now. You didn’t have to look for me.”
Tristan held my arm back. “Something is bothering you, I can feel it.”
I sighed and stopped in my tracks. I waved my arms as I spoke. “This whole damn thing is bothering me!”
Those last words echoed through the empty hallway. A slow clap from the other end; a woman applauding. Her ginger hair was unmistakable. Tristan and I turned our heads to see her walk towards us. As she neared, her golden eyes shone.
She was here.
“You’re much angrier than the last time we met,” the Necromancer said, stopping a few metres from us. “What? No more jokes?”
She stood with her feet apart, hands by her side with a long crooked wand in one of them pointing downwards. She did not wear a black cloak this time.
She raised her eyebrows at me and pursed her lips, “I’m not going to lie, I’m genuinely impressed. You actually survived my poison.”
I narrowed my eyes on her. I readied my stance. I felt the dark energy swirl in me but I kept it down.
“Rose?” Tristan blurted.
His eyes widened in utter surprise. At that, the Necromancer shifted her gaze at him, the sneer still plastered on her face. She raised a thin eyebrow and eyed him from head to toe.
“Hello, Tristan. I was hoping to run into you,” she lifted her right shoulder as she said, almost like a flirtation.
“We thought,” he added, his voice trembling, “Rose, we thought you were dead. You’ve been missing for so long!”
I stared at him questioningly. The Necromancer, or Rose, toyed with her long wand as she spoke, pacing back and forth.
“You’re as clueless as ever, Tristan. Your father seems to know more about what happened. Looks like you’ve been kept in the dark.”
I was beginning to realise the silence that blanketed us. The roars that were tearing through the Magic realm were forgotten.
“Go to the North wing, Heidi,” Tristan said in a low tone.
“Oh no,” Rose shook her head. “She’s coming with me.”
“Arsonion!” Tristan cried, surprising her.
She swerved and his spell missed. I pulled out my Vampire dagger from my boot and pointed towards her, thumb on the heel. Its pointed end facing directly in her face as I closed the distance between us. I swiped but she ducked, sweeping my feet. I steadied myself and booted her as hard as I could on her stomach. She fell backwards. I kicked her wand away and raised my dagger.
“Do it,” she taunted, “use your dark magic the way you did just now. That’s all you can feel inside you, isn’t it?”
I stared at her, hesitating to stab her. In those seconds she took the chance to grab my wrists and kick me back. Then she held out a palm and clenched her fist. I dropped my dagger. I couldn’t move.
Rose continued with a smug, “That poison could have killed any mortal within six seconds, but you survived a whole minute, maybe longer. I stayed behind to watch you. I put your body to a test—only the ones with the dark energy in them can counter that poison.”
Rose squeezed her fist as I felt my chest tighten. I gasped for air.
“Electricus!” Tristan yelled from behind, accurately targeting her.
She flinched and I was set free once again. I picked up my dagger but she had recovered quickly—she sent a blast of unseen force towards me that sent me crashing into the statue. With its sheer force, the statue crumbled into broken stones. Miraculously, I wasn’t completely knocked out.
“Heidi!” Tristan cried out as I dazed in and out of consciousness. In that state, I heard everything between Tristan and Rose. I lifted my head to witness the event that transpired.
“She’ll live,” Rose said dryly. “Maybe.”
Tristan turned to her, his ruby eyes glowering. His eyebrows furrowed and his jaw locked.
Rose scoffed. “Do you think I’m afraid of a Virtuoso?”
Tristan went silent. His ruby eyes still glowing as he raised his wand skywards. “Not, but let’s find out.”
He was playing along, I thought. That was when I noticed that his cuff was missing his Sage’s ruby.
He cast the spell of electricity, shooting lightning bolts towards her as she nimbly evaded every attack. Her movements were so nimble I thought she seemed less human and more Vampire-like. She shot back her own dark magic; orbs and rays of arcane energy but he blocked and ducked. One of her orbs escaped and landed onto the wall behind him, its arcane energy obliterating the concrete. A chunk of it was vaporised, causing a mini landslide behind Tristan.
I gathered all my energy to lift myself off the ground.
“Give it up, Tristan!” She yelled, her voice a trace of frustration.
As a reply, Tristan held up his wand and pointed towards the sky. This time, his eyes and the gem from his coat pocket glowed as he cried, “Elemento lightningus!”
Bolts of electricity congregated towards his wand and when he had gathered enough, he pointed to Rose and released a massive lightning bolt. It happened so fast that within a split second, it caught her off-guard. She was hurled back, landing onto the edge of the courtyard with the cliff behind her. Falling into the void was just a step away from her.
She slowly pushed herself off the ground despite the remnants of electricity still flickering around her. Tristan jogged over to me to hold me up.
“Heidi? Can you hear me?” His face was masked with concern. I held onto his elbows as he pulled me up.
“I’m okay,” I croaked. My back was killing me.
One day, I might get a little too old for this.
A sinister cackle from Rose. We turned to her as she stood, yellow eyes wild and bright.
She shook her head, “I can’t believe it. Tristan, you cunning man.”
I readied my stance. Rage was starting to consume me.
“This whole time, I captured your father when it was his son who is the Sage.”
Rose’s lips twisted into a maniacal, lopsided grin. She eyed him under her eyelashes, standing before him with her feet apart and arms by her side. Any residual resemblance of her human side was diminishing—her dark energy was in full control.
“Do you know, Tristan, that my whole family hated me?” She asked. “You were the only one I trusted—I never even trusted my brother.”
Tristan frowned. “Rose…what did they do to you?”
The veins under her colourless skin blackened. They travelled up to her eyes like vines on stone walls. Her golden eyes obscured. “They left me in the basement to rot because I am the product of my father’s shame. But that was before my half-sister, Delilah, tried to rescue me. She was the only true family I had after my father killed my mother. Of course, Dean had to end her life for that very reason.”
“Does Lord Voltaire know about this?” He asked, digesting every word. “Does he know what your father did?”
“Of course!” She raised her voice. “That’s why Dean raised me to be like him after he killed our whole family. He wanted me to summon him if he dies prematurely, hence why I’m here. Stupid thing is, I am still loyal to him.”
Tristan’s face crumpled, in disbelief. “Rose…I had no idea.”
“It’s too late now,” Rose shrugged. “The past stays where it is. Now, I’m planning my own future.”
Tristan and I glanced at each other. She lifted her palm and balled her fist at him.
That set off my rage.
I darted off into her direction as fast as I could, fury taking over me as I opened my arms to tackle her. The second Tristan started to choke, I threw my bodyweight into her.
Tristan’s voice faded as we hurled into the air before plunging straight down into the endless fog.