I awoke. I hadn’t realised that I was fast asleep until I found myself on the chair in Tristan’s office. I scanned the dark room—how long had it been? I glanced at the clock; a quarter past two in the morning.
I turned to my right. The voice belonged to a man and it sounded familiar. My heart wasn’t palpitating so it definitely wasn’t a djinn.
A silhouette moved from the door towards me. As it neared me, the black shapeless being took the form of a tall man. He stood some metres from me as I stood up, readying my dagger.
“You’re in a dream, Heidi.”
The silhouette spoke but I couldn’t see movements on his face.
“Who are you?” I asked, gripping the handle of the dagger.
The silhouette moved into the light that filtered through the blinds from outside. The light flooded half his face, revealing the last person I expected to see.
“Dad?” I gasped and blurted. “How are you here?”
He smiled, tears welling in his eye. “My Heidi…you’ve grown so much.”
I stood up as he towered over me. He had the same face back in the Embers residence, before Robert decapitated him with the gardening axe.
“I’m in the Land of Lost Souls so I don’t have much time,” he said, his voice on a serious note. “I left you a box under the floorboards of your old bedroom.
I stared at him, taking in his words. He continued before I could ask.
“Your memory is waning, Heidi. You have forgotten what happened to your mother and I, haven’t you?”
I frowned. “But you died in the car accident.”
His lips quivered as he sighed. “No, sweetheart. That dark energy inside you—it’s shifting your memories and making you forget. Go to our house, uncover the box and tell no one. I’ve left you something for you. It’s about the history of our family.”
* * *
the house wrapped in vines and broken glass loomed as I approached it. Nothing but darkness enveloped the property, an old building that once held the memories of a family who would eventually met their fate. My memories that were hazy began to replay fragments of my childhood.
I stepped onto the porch and entered the house, the main door swinging lazily as two of its hinges broke. It clung onto the top hinge like my memories depended on it, keeping everything inside safe until I arrived to claim them.
I made my way up the stairs and into my bedroom. The dusty floorboards creaked underneath my boots as I moved. Vines crept in from the windows like dark veins. A burst of memory from my younger life that seemed forgotten as I passed the threshold; I was running for my life.
I clumsily climbed up the stairs and darted into my bedroom because it was the safest space to hide. Mom was behind me as she shut the door and asked me to hide inside the closet. She slid the door open and dropped some clothes onto my small body.
“Knees to your chin, honey, and close your eyes!”
I did as told and she slid the door close. I sniffled and shook while I heard my mother move to the door. She held a kitchen knife in her hand. She stood behind the door and leaned her weight onto it.
I stood at the doorway of my old bedroom where my mother was before my father crashed through the door and stabbed her. Sixty-eight times, they said, she was almost unrecognisable.
I flinched. My head was hurting.
I moved around the room and stood in the middle. The creaking stopped. I knelt down and turned on the flashlight that I borrowed from Tristan’s rescue kit. I placed it on the floor beside me and pried the rotting wooden floorboard with my hands. Dust shot upwards to my face when I broke it open. I coughed hard.
There was an old white shoebox underneath, just like my father said. I pulled it out and opened; a three-page handwritten letter. I moved to the edge of the room and leaned against the wall. I shone the flashlight onto the letter:
My dearest daughter Heidi,
If you’re reading this, it means that I’m no longer around. I’m sorry that I cannot see you grow up, but that has been the fate of our family. I’m writing this with Lord Voltaire beside me. He has been a good friend to me, guiding me in suppressing this dark energy that evidently gave me life. I trust that Lord Voltaire would hand this letter to you once you are old enough to understand, in hopes that the Vampires would raise you and look after you if anything happens to our family.
You must know, sweetheart, that you have the same dark energy in you too. This dark energy in us is the product of my father’s deal with Synto. I have learnt that there is a way to get rid of it. But Lord Voltaire warned me that I would not survive the ritual of ridding this dark energy.
He gave me a choice and I rejected this offer, seeing that your mother was pregnant with you. I did not have the heart to leave her without a husband and my daughter fatherless. So I took my chances while Lord Voltaire and the three Sages kept an eye on me.
The memories of my childhood are fading. They said that would happen. The bigger the dark energy grows, the less you remember. It takes away your humanity and all that you love. I dread the day I forget what it’s like to be human.
But this can all end with you. If it comes the day where you have to choose, my Heidi, do what you must. My love for you is immeasurable. And if you ever decide, I will wait for you in the Land of Lost Souls.
I dropped the letter onto my lap. I sat in the dark with my legs stretched out, a flashlight shining in a small part of the room. I stared into the obscurity, recalling my parents’ faces. My father’s face came into my mind, his smiling hazel eyes and black wavy hair. I reached deeper into my memories for the face of my mother—
“I thought I’d find you here.”
I snapped back into the present. I could not see who it was but I recognised the soothing baritone of the Vampire King.
“You can feel my dark energy,” I corrected.
Lord Voltaire moved as he approached me from the doorway of my bedroom. His long black coat flowed behind him as he stood in his graceful manner. His red eyes glimmered from the reflection of my flashlight.
“You read your father’s letter?” He asked, an echo of melancholy in his voice.
“You failed to mention it,” I said. “So he came to me in my dream.”
Lord Voltaire let out a soft sigh. “Things came up, my dear Heidi. I admit I hesitated.”
“My father assumed I would die to save the three realms.”
A slight pause. Then he questioned, “Will you not?”
I let out an involuntary laugh. “I grew up thinking I had a choice. Now I realise, I have none.”
“Your father made a mistake that cost him his family. But circumstances have changed now. It’s no longer just your family in danger.”
I tried to read his face but it was obscured in the shadows. “That’s why you’re here?”
“Heidi,” he said, his voice a little shaky. “Only you can end this. The Necromancer is not as strong as what you can be, yet she wiped out most of my Vampires and half of the Spellcasters.”
I shook my head. “My father chose not to leave my mother. I choose not to leave Tristan.”
“Heidi,” his voice was more curt than before. His red eyes glowed. “This is bigger than the both of you.”
Then it hit me. “That’s why you summoned Tristan to the Underworld—to talk him into agreeing with you.”
The Vampire King grunted. His patience seemed to be running thin. “I’m not here to bargain. The Necromancer has killed half of my Vampires. You are the only one who can stop this!”
“Tristan said no, didn’t he?” I couldn’t resist a smile.
The Vampire King narrowed his eyes.
“So you take the energy out of me, and then what, Voltaire? I die and you have all of it in you?”
“You cannot control it, Heidi! It grows stronger everyday! You saw what it did to your father!” The Vampire King’s voice grew harsher as he spoke.
I felt my heart race. “Voltaire, please, I-I can’t leave him—“
“Heidi!” A frantic voice from the porch called my name.
I turned to the window to see Tristan’s dark hair and red coat walking through the front door. I was about to yell out his name when Lord Voltaire covered my mouth and teleported us out of the house.
* * *
In a split second, I found myself in the middle of an old factory. It was run down with scorch marks smeared on the ceiling and rusty metal railings and catwalks. We were on one of the catwalks, suspended above ground on the third floor.
I pulled out my dagger and pointed to his throat. Lord Voltaire was much taller than I was but at that moment, I was quicker. He raised his hands, his chin pointing outwards as I held the dagger near his jugular. His gaze fell on me as he eyed me calmly.
“Heidi,” his voice was soft again. “It needs to be done.”
My vision was blurry. I blinked the tears away. I pulled away the dagger and kept my arm loose to my side. “Please, Voltaire, I’m your friend.”
Lord Voltaire’s lips quivered before he spoke, “I know. I’m sorry.”
In his supernatural speed, he cupped my face with his slender ivory fingers but I was ready. I thrusted the dagger into his stomach and he flinched immediately. As he let go, I darted off across the catwalk towards a pavement at the third storey. I heard him yell my name from behind as I let my legs carry me as far as I could go. I looked for the exit.
“Heidi! You cannot run from me,” he threatened, his voice bellowing through the empty building.
I heard his heavy footfalls as he chased after me. He jumped from one catwalk to another and I knew I couldn’t outrun the thousand-year-old Vampire King that had set his mind to kill me. I needed somewhere to hide.
Large two-storey water tanks were aligned in the middle of the factory. I slid myself between them to let the shadows obscure me. The old building had no lights so I could use it to my advantage. But my pulse could give myself away, especially when hunted by a Vampire— so I knew it was a matter of time.
“Many of my Vampires are dead, Heidi,” Lord Voltaire’s baritone reverberated through the building. “And many of the Spellcasters too. Imagine the catastrophe that is unleashed upon the non-magic mortals? You can save them, Heidi!”
I heard his voice get louder at the last part. I knew he was near me. I slipped out from between the water tanks and darted off the other way. I heard him change his direction as well, chasing me from the other side of the large containers. Between the gaps from one water tank to another, his tall figure moved with me, fast and nimble.
I switched my direction and ran to an area with heavy machines. Lord Voltaire’s silent hunt had me second-guessing my decisions and while he was chasing me, I was chasing time.
I crawled between the machines and found a spot large enough for me to remain hidden. Lord Voltaire climbed over the water tanks and landed on the ground with a light thud, careful not to startle me. He knew I was hiding.
“Your pulse is faint,” he said, his red eyes floating across the area.
This time I wasn’t ready.
Lord Voltaire yanked me by my jacket collar. He picked me up like I weighed nothing and pinned my wrists to my back. He pulled me out of my hiding spot as I struggled to kick his face. He then tackled me to the ground to suppress me.
“No,” I pleaded.
His red eyes dimmed as tears spilled from them. “Forgive me, Heidi.”
Lord Voltaire cupped my face with his ivory hands, his red eyes darting back and forth. It pained him as much as I felt betrayed.
“I knew this day would come yet I did not think I would take you out as a friend and protector. But this is for the sake of the three realms—there is no other way, Heidi,” he uttered as he knelt.
I could feel my dark energy swirl inside me. I knew he felt it too. He unhinged his jaw, the way he did with Dean Ryans, and his red eyes turned white. I locked my gaze with blank eyes, the dark energy in me beginning to creep up my throat. I tried to fight it but the pain was spreading.
An accurately calculated bolt of electricity shot out at Lord Voltaire, which sent him hurtling in the air before landing onto a catwalk of the second storey. I gasped for air and the dark energy returned immediately. I fell to the floor and coughed.
Lord Voltaire recovered from the spell and hissed. He stood up on the catwalk with his long blond locks on his face. At the entrance of the factory, the Sage’s ruby was shining, lighting up the dark in red. He moved in front of me, between Lord Voltaire and I.
“You found us,” Lord Voltaire spoke in a tone I had never heard from him. It was low and almost a growl.
“This isn’t the battle you want to fight,” Tristan retorted, his voice gruff and impatient. “There are other lives at stake, Voltaire! We need her alive.”
I propped myself up with my elbow as my breathing calmed. Tristan’s feet were wide apart, knees bent. One arm was waving the wand towards Lord Voltaire.
Without further hesitation, the Vampire King swooped down in a black mass and landed right in front of us. His red eyes were piercing but Tristan did not waiver. Lord Voltaire stood at least a foot above Tristan, his lean torso bent like he was about to pounce. His fangs were fully barred and veins exposed on his neck.
“Sage! You’re in my way!” Lord Voltaire, in his Vampire strength that was ten times the human’s, heaved Tristan by the shoulders and tossed him to the far end of the building.
Tristan crashed onto the wall and the concrete floor. I pushed myself off the floor to chase after him. But Lord Voltaire was quicker—he got a hold of my wrist and immediately placed his other hand onto the side of my face. I began to choke as the dark energy inside me made its way up my throat once again.
“It will be over soon, Heidi, I promise.”