Part 2 Chapter 16
“Wake up, buddy,” I hear a familiar deep friendly voice enter my subconscious. A voice I knew all too well, my long-life best buddy, Darrius. I can’t exactly hear much else except my weak heart beat slowly getting stronger and light fluttery breaths of a human - Jennifer.
“Will he wake up? Why isn’t he waking up?” Jennifer asks, her soft voice lulling my senses.
But it only reminds me of Isobel.
Isobel who was ripped to shreds right in front of me.
I couldn’t save her. My heart aches uncontrollably at the thought that maybe she was dead or dying.
I decide it is time to force myself to complete consciousness. My body had healed, it was time to face reality.
My sense of smell kicks in first, and my nostrils flare with the rush of sweetness that enters my blood stream. It was the smell of human blood - except it smelt... sweeter, more potent.
I feel tight restrictive pressure on my ankles and wrists.
A low growl escapes my throat and I hear Jennifer gasp and a lady call out, “Watch it, he’s senses are coming back!”
“We’ll be fine, he’s tied down enough,” Darrius growls.
Wait, so that was the warm tightness around my limbs. Ah yes - it felt like rope.
“Maximus,” Jennifer says, “Can you hear me?”
“I can hear all of you,” I growl low, trying to open my eyes but squinting at the bright light above me.
“I’m sorry,” Darrius says out from above me, a hint of sadness and regret apart of his tone, “But I have no choice,” I’m about to ask what the hell is wrong when someone forces my mouth open and shoves a vial into my mouth - then closes my mouth - making me swallow.
“See you on the other side, Max,” I hear Claudia’s voice echo through my mind. Claudia was back? When did she get back -?
I can’t dwell on small facts like that.
I was slowly losing the ability to cling to reality, to my strong sense of smell, to my enhanced hearing and sharp wit...
They had clearly done something that they thought was the only way to save me.
So how come I was falling back into darkness?
What the hell did they force into my system?
I wake up from a deep sleep, opening groggy eyes, squinting against the lights on the ceiling. My senses feel dull, something wasn’t right.
I sit upright in the bed I’m in as quickly as possible - feeling slow and sluggish. I see all my friends around me, Darrius, Jennifer and Claudia. I also spot Meredith the witch, they are all staring at me as if assessing my condition.
“How do you feel?” Darrius asks.
I can’t reply, not when I see Isobel beside me.
She is bloodied but whole once more.
I do something I haven’t done in decades - I feel emotions start to creep in behind my eyes, making them watery.
“Isobel,” I quickly turn to her and place my hand on her warm cheek, “She is alive, isn’t she? I can’t hear her heart beat but I see she is breathing. There is something wrong with me,” I look at all my friends accusingly, but my eyes rest on Meredith in the end, “I’m not up to scratch, I should heal soon - but what the hell did you guys force down my throat?” I glare at Meredith and Darrius.
Darrius is looking at me like I’m an alien or a ghost - his eyes critically looking me up and down.
“For fucks sake,” he mutters, not seeming too happy with himself, “It worked - too well.”
I see Claudia’s hand fly up to her mouth at Darrius’ words.
“Are you serious?” She asks, eyes wide, “Is he -”
“Yes,” Darrius snaps.
“What the hell did you give me?” I ask again, but I can’t growl it... I can’t - “Fuck.”
No fucking way.
It suddenly all made sense.
I was weaker, couldn’t growl, couldn’t hear heart beats and the hunger in my stomach was something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I remember waking up in a haze of fury and anger, with a need to kill all those around me. I had opened my eyes to see friends I now considered enemies. I remember the killer instinct, a part of being a vampire, totally consuming me. All while my body healed and I was still in great pain.
Then something was forced down my throat.
And I was knocked unconscious once more.
Now I could feel myself waking. I felt groggy, numb, sore. But a whole lot better than before. My limbs and stomach actually felt back in place now.
I open my eyes, just as I hear Maximus swear beside me.
“How the fuck could you?” He snarls.
“I had no other choice,” Darrius responds.
“Please, calm down,” Jennifer adds in, sounding stressed out and worried.
“What’s the problem?” I ask, trying to open my eyes and squinting at the powerful lights coming from the ceiling. A familiar ceiling. I was in my new room once again.
“You gave the same thing to Isobel too, didn’t you?” Maximus asks low and beyond pissed off.
“Why are you so angry for?” Jennifer asks, “We saved both your lives!”
I try and sit up and see Maximus sitting next to me, I reach for his arm to hoist myself up further and come into contact with skin more warm than usual. He must have a high temperature or something because his skin was never this warm, ever. Could vampires get fevers?
“Maximus, what’s happening?” I ask. People finally turn to look at me and everyone frowns.
Claudia steps forward and in doing so seems to take the responsibility of explaining what the huge deal was.
All I remember was being attacked, now I was awake again. I didn’t understand why everyone looked so nervous or why Maximus was looking more than bewildered. He opens his mouth to explain but can’t seem to get the words out.
“We brought you both back to life,” Claudia says, “But... don’t you feel different?”
“Yes,” I say, “I feel... normal. I don’t know, all my senses seem dulled like when I was a human - am I a human again?” I ask this, grinning, it’s a joke - of course I’m not human. Just to check, I reach up to feel if my fangs are still there.
Wait... what the hell? How was I human again?
“It was the only way,” Jennifer whispers, “Meredith is the best witch we could find to help us bring you guys back to life after you were both attacked.”
“Maximus,” I say, grabbing his arm and shaking him, “You said you were attacked too - did you heal on your own or -”
“They gave me the same potion,” he admits, looking shaken.
Then I realise what that means.
“Y-you’re... you’re... no way. You can’t be,” I can’t even say the words, “We’re both human again?”
“Well, not exactly,” Claudia says, “You were both never really humans to begin with, remember? You were both born vampire hunters. You’re both vampire hunters now. Ironic, huh?”
“Okay!” Maximus suddenly stands up from the bed, hands in the air, “I’ve heard enough, Darrius? Drink me dry and snap my neck, I think I’ve been human long enough. I want to be back to how I’m meant to be. Immortal and funny!”
“I would suggest waiting,” The one woman I don’t recognise speaks, she looks like a witch. Her hair is a sparkling silver colour.
“Why is that?” Maximus asks, his face going red in anger.
“You’re body just went through two transformations,” she says, “First transformed into Eddrick’s enhanced vampire being to help heal the wounds, then you were dosed up on a cure for your inevitable insanity. If you try and turn back into a vampire now, you might die in the process. Give your body time to rest. A couple of days at least, before you go ahead to willingly change back into a vampire once more.”
Everyone goes silent, waiting for Maximus to respond.
“Darrius?” He asks eventually, filling the awkward silence.
“I will turn you,” he replies slowly, a grin spreading across his face, “But for a few days, I am going to enjoy your state of weakness. With much amusement.”
I can’t help it, I start to laugh. This was actually quite funny.
“Don’t think you’re getting out of this either, Isobel,” Maximus glares at me over his shoulder, “Once I’m turned, you’ll be next.”
I instantly stop laughing.
I was back to being human and I liked it.
Maximus thought he could forcefully turn me twice?
I don’t think so.
Maximus leaves with Isobel back to his room, despite her protests of wanting to stay in her new room. But he made a good point about the sheets on her bed needing washing - because of all the blood stains.
In the mean-time Claudia leaves again to go talk to Johnathan who was still tied up. Jaime and Rafael had come to supply the blood before but had left almost immediately afterwards, Rafael looking impatient and grumpy. I think he was really worried about Jaime being a major part of the prophecy and he was on edge while staying here at the palace. He was a prince of another vampire palace, of course - god knows where it was. I’m sure he wanted to return there as soon as possible.
Leah is the last one to wake up, but before she does Owen carries her off back to their room. He said he wanted her to wake up as gently as possible with no one around. He wanted to help calm her once she realised her body was no longer that of a vampire - but of a human; the very thing she despised.
I’m left with Darrius and Meredith. Who face off against each other with tense looks.
“You’re ‘help’ is no longer needed,” Darrius growls.
“I expect payment,” Meredith replies, flicking her hair over her shoulder and tilting her head mockingly to the side, she smiles and then winks at me, “Remember what I told you, Jennifer. Ask him - you’ll have a good laugh.”
“Oh, I will,” I grin, laughing already when Darrius slowly turns to me and gives me a cocked eyebrow and a very obvious scowl.
“Becoming fast friends with each other, are we?” he asks me just as mockingly.
“What’s it to you?” I ask, crossing my arms over my chest and winking back at Meredith.
Darrius can’t seem to control the growl that slips from his throat.
“Do you need an escort out of here?” he asks Meredith, sick of her standing opposite us, looking so at ease.
“I’ll let myself out, young vampire,” she turns on her heel and starts to make her way towards the door, looking over her shoulder she catches my eye, “Stay safe, Jennifer.”
“I’ll try,” I wave just as I feel my ring start to feel a little warm on my hand - the heat gradually intensifies as Meredith gets closer to the door, “Wait!” I call out. I look to Darrius, “My ring,” I whisper, “I’m in danger - I don’t know what -”
Meredith halts and turns back to face me just as the door slams open and Caitlin comes running in at top speed. She is literally a blur and no one can see her face until she stops suddenly, short sword clenched in one hand. Her eyes red.
She glares at me for only a moment before her eyes dart to Meredith. Caitlin seems undecided about which way to go - she seems possessed.
Especially when she starts to chuckle low and it sounds like a mixture of her own voice... and a man’s.
“Isn’t this... just perfect,” she says, glancing at Meredith and me with a smile slowly spreading across her face.
“Going through your puppets again? - you’ve always been a coward,” Meredith snarls. She obviously wasn’t talking to Caitlin, but whoever was inside Caitlin.
“Say that again, and you’re tongue will be the first thing I cut out of you,” The possessed version of Caitlin turns from Meredith, towards me, “But not before I kill off your weak and pathetic prophecy girl.”
Darrius grabs my arm and pulls me firmly backwards, standing in front of me. I see him try and reach for a sword at his belt but he holds no weapons on him.
Meredith looks more worried than I hoped she would appear considering she was the most powerful witch in the city.
But obviously she had a rival for that position.
He must be the one possessing Caitlin - using her to get to me.
Meredith starts muttering words quickly under her breath, and before my eyes I see Caitlin struggle, cry out and grab her head with her one free hand. She is breathing heavily for a while, and I see Meredith closing her eyes in concentration.
“I’ve pushed him out, the link was weak,” Meredith explains, opening her eyes, looking a tad confused.
“Caitlin?” I call out, “Are you back to normal?”
She keeps her head down and starts sobbing.
“Y-Yes,” she says, head still bowed, “H-he... he’s out of my head... but - but I ...” she breaks down again, crying loudly.
“You’re okay now,” Darrius growls, uncomfortable with her breaking down right in front of us. I quickly push past him and run up to Caitlin, grabbing her shoulders I pull her into a hug.
“He’s not there anymore, it’s okay,” I say as reassuringly as possible.
“I’m sorry,” Caitlin mutters, still crying.
“Sorry for what?” I ask, pulling back and looking confused.
“N-nothing,” she says quickly, looking over my shoulder to Darrius and glancing at Meredith, “Thank you for helping - Jennifer... I need to talk to you alone about something...”
“C-come to my room and speak with me there?” She asks hopefully.
“I better get going,” Meredith says, “Increase security, Darrius - I’ll do what I can to stop Eddrick, that I promise.”
As she leaves, Darrius comes to my side and looks suspiciously at Caitlin.
“What is it you have to tell her?” He growls, a bit harshly.
“It’s just... it’s personal,” Caitlin swallows and wipes away some tears, “I just need to talk to someone.”
“It’s okay Darrius,” I reassure him now, “She’s confided in me before about personal issues in her life. Now after being possessed by someone as crazy as Eddrick I’m sure she needs a friend to talk to.”
“Thank you, Jennifer,” Caitlin sounds sad when she says this, but relieved when Darrius finally nods.
“Make it quick, I’ll go find Xavier - then I’ll come back and check on you two,” he says this firmly before he reluctantly leaves me with Caitlin.
“So, back to your room? Are you staying with Xavier?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, “Let’s go and talk there.”
As we make our way there I notice my ring still feels slightly warm against my skin - but not too bad. I just put it down to the fact that she was holding a weapon so close to me.
I wasn’t actually in danger.
The ring was actually starting to quite annoy me...
...so I just ignore it.