Watching her cry fills me with such sadness, I could never even begin to understand what she has been through. I want to hold her, to tell her that everything will be alright, but I cannot know that for sure.
“How can I remember this?” she asks me.
Father Broan’s shock therapy must have worked a little. I keep silent because I don’t know for sure if it was the shock therapy or if it is just a layer of compulsion wearing off.
Rowaelin becomes mute, she eats when she is told and she goes to sleep as she’s told. She does everything through routine, she wakes up, she eats breakfast, she walks around, she eats lunch, she wanders, she eats dinner, she showers and then she goes to bed.
She barely talks at all, she shrugs her shoulders and nods her head; she won’t even talk to me, not in English or any other language. Sometimes I catch her mumbling to herself, but when she notices me she presses her lips together.
“She needs to start talking again,” Eva says, “She is going to drive herself mad.”
“I think you’re right,” I say as we watch Rowaelin walk around a rose bush, “But what can we do?”
Eva sighs and I look down to Max who stands by me.
“Why aren’t you helping?” I ask him and he huffs.
I hear a small squeak and look up to Rowy, who holds her hand that has been cut on a rose bush.
“It’s alright dear,” Eva says, walking over to Rowaelin, “You just scratched yourself, let me have a look dear.”
I watch as Rowaelin’s eyes widen, she steps away from Eva and shakes her head. This starts a frenzy, the others seem to notice Rowaelin’s distress and try to comfort her, but they crowd her and overload her senses.
“STOP!” she screams, speaking for the first time in days, “Go away. Don’t touch me!”
“It’s alright, dear,” Eva says, stepping even close.
“Eva, I don’t think you should,” I say, but I am too late, Eva steps too close and Rowaelin pushes her back.
Rowaelin is stronger than she looks, Eva stumbles from the push and falls.
“I said, don’t touch me!” she shouts, her voice is deep and angry, it’s as if a fire has lit within her.
“Rowy,” I say, she looks to me and her eyes widen as the fire goes out, “It’s alright.”
“No,” She says, stepping back, “I want to go home, I just want to go home.”
Rowaelin pushes out of the crowd and then takes off running.
“Max, go,” I say, Max chases after her while I check to see if Eva is okay.
“I’m fine,” she hisses, “Go after her.”
I leave Eva and run after Rowaelin, I find her sitting with Max out in an open field.
“I just want to go home,” she whimpers as she sees me approach, “I want to go home, I want my mother.”
She holds her knees to her chest and whimpers as her body shakes.
“I will take you home,” I promise, kneeling in front of her, “I will take you home, I promise.”
“I want to go now,” she whimpers, “I don’t want to be here.”
I sit down with her as she holds herself as she cries.
“Let’s go,” I say, she looks up to me and wipes her eyes, “If you want to go, right now, I will take you.”
Adrian takes me home, it takes us a day and a half, but eventually the streets begin to look familiar.
“I was thinking about checking the storage unit first,” Adrian says, as he steers his car through the streets. I nod my head and he takes us to the location of the storage shed.
“Can I help you?” the woman behind the desk asks as we walk into the office.
The woman is old, with deep age lines set on her face, and there is no light in her eyes as she looks me up and down.
“My mother had a storage unit here,” I say, putting the key onto the bench.
“Come with me,” She sighs, standing, I take my key and follow the lady to a small unit.
The lady takes my key and opens the unit, inside is a small box and nothing else but dust.
“Is this it?” Adrian asks, walking into the unit and picking up the box.
“That’s everything,” The woman confirms, she turns to me, “Will that be all? Are you looking to keep the box here or are you ready to take it?”
“I’ll take it,” I say, taking the small wooden box from Adrian.
Once the box is in my hands I feel odd, like I’ve held it before. As I look at the intricate carvings on the top of the box, I realise that I indeed have held it before, the swirling vines and delicate flowers are so familiar that they call to a deep part of my memory.
Adrian ushers me back to the car and then takes me home with the help of the mechanical voice in his car. Adrian drives slowly, we pass an ice cream shop and a sinking feeling hits my stomach as the cartoon ice cream on the front window stares at me.
“Are you alright?” Adrian asks, noticing my grim expression as we leave the ice cream shop behind.
I nod my head tightly and the next thing I know, we are pulling into the driveway of the house I used to live in.
“Are you ready?” he asks.
I take a deep breath and then get out of the car, ignoring the urge to be sick. I walk up to the front door and put the key into the lock, my hands start to shake as I unlock the door and step inside.
Instantly it’s like I am reverted to an eleven-year-old girl. I take a deep breath, it smells exactly how it used to. It’s like I didn’t even leave, I almost expect to walk to my mother’s room and find her asleep on her bed.
I find a letter on the kitchen bench, it’s addressed to me and written in my mother’s hand.
I look around the room and see Adrian walking around and checking out the house, he hasn’t seen the letter. I open the paper before Adrian can, knowing that if he had seen it he would’ve read it first.
My dearest daughter,
I have missed you, I am sorry that I couldn’t protect you from the horrors of the night. Just know that I have done all that I can to save you, now that you are free, you need to find your father, he will be able to keep you safe, I know that you will have many questions, he can answer them. You cannot trust the hunters.
I look over to the hall that Adrian has disappeared down, mother’s warning seems to echo in my head.
Maybe I couldn’t trust some hunters, but Adrian seems different, he wouldn’t hurt me. I put my mother’s note in my pocket and then place the box from storage where the letter was sitting on the bench.
“The house seems clean,” Adrian says, suddenly returning to my side, “Considering that it’s been empty. You mother must have paid someone to look after it.”
I don’t answer, I keep my eyes on the box.
“Are you alright?” he asks, putting his hand on my shoulder.
I bite my bottom lip and then grab the keys that my mother had left me.
I take the smaller, unknown key and put it into the box’s lock. It fits easily, I open the wooden box and inside is a thin black chain, on the chain is a golden, coin-like, pendant.
“What is it?” Adrian asks.
“It’s a necklace,” I say, “I’ve seen this before. But I can’t remember where.”
On one side of the pendant is an etching of a snake devouring its own tail; Adrian says that it’s an ouroboros which is supposed to symbolise infinity and wholeness.
I stare at the pendant, at the snake with a ruby eye and massive fangs.
"What's on the other side?" Adrian asks.
I turn the pendant over and Adrian snatches the necklace out of my hand as soon as he sees the deep etching on the other side. The etching is of a sword with a crown as it's guard, and a fang as it's hilt.
“It’s a hunter’s family crest,” Adrian says, snapping a picture, “But it’s also a vampire’s crest.”
“How can it be both?” I ask, taking the necklace back from him.
“Well, a crowned sword is the symbol for the Cahoul family,” he explains, tapping away on his phone, “They are the oldest house of hunters. My boss, Stella, she’s the oldest, surviving daughter of the family. Her ancestor killed the old king, Dario. However, the crowned fang is the crest of his son, the new king of the vampires.”
“So what does it mean?” I ask, looking at the necklace in my hand.
“I don’t know,” he admits, finally looking at me, “I think it might mean that your mother was tangled with both the vampires and the hunters.”
“She… she wouldn’t be,” I gape, the thought makes my stomach churn.
Adrian’s phone starts ringing, he excuses himself and then walks outside. I stare at the pendant in my hand and bite my lip, why would my mother be tangled with vampires?
I stare at the necklace in my palm, contemplating whether or not to hang it around my neck.