Darc takes me to the north wing of Dark Academy – where polished amber stone becomes grey and dull; pretty lifeless. All colours are washed away from the rainbow. It’s almost like the world is in black and white, but the furniture and decoration is quite pretty for a demon’s haven.
Darc and I walk up three flights of steps, down a wide red carpeted hall, which turns through an arc into an open circular game room – at least, that’s what I could make of it.
It’s empty – but I hear voices through other doors connected to this lounge.
All around me, is a play room. Chess boards. Huge bean bags you could drown in. Carpet you could swim in. A fireplace you could fall in. Windows you could jump from -
Why… why was my brain focused on death so much?
Because, well, I died.
And I was only now starting to realise – my own calm? Was just shock.
And the shock was now fading, and a tremble in my hands was coming back.
Darc stands me precisely in the very centre of the room, his hands place me there, while he walks off to a small single recliner covered in savage wolf furs – and he sinks into the chair. He picks up a tea pot and pours a steaming beverage, talking – but his words are mumbles. I can’t understand him, as my mind retreats inward like I’ve been drowning in water. I almost feel wetness leaking from my ears.
That would explain why there is green grime stuck to my skin.
I’m staring at my hands, and the pale colour is warming slowly – but my veins look still. As if my pulse is still so weak, my body is also starved of any nutrition - or care. I look horrid. I -
“Yoohoo,” Darc is waving at me, trying to get my attention, “Hello, Wynter?”
“Huh?” I glance down at him, “Dead. I’m dead.”
“Revived back,” Darc corrects me, very patiently, “And technically you’re in debt – because I’m going to stop the council from sentencing you. Because I am the council, ha...ha, I’m quite funny, aren’t I?” Darc trails off, loving the sound of his own voice, “Do you feel sore at all? Your eyes wander away a lot,” Vampire. Darc was a vampire, “…and you zone out too… try to stay present for me,” he makes it sound easy, “…Wynter… hello…?”
I wish he’d stop with that condescending tone - I was just getting my bearings.
“Where are we? Where are your friends?” the voices I heard coming up here have all stopped.
“Ah, so you are aware of what’s happening... my friends... come on out, and don’t startle the poor thing,” Darc leans back in his rocking chair, sipping his tea like an old man – who looks twenty-one like me, “Stay where you are, and don’t move,” my eyes have been wandering again around the cozy room, but I glance at the almost-impatient and extremely mean sound that just rumbled from Darc’s barely moving lips. Like the kind of demon you don’t want to be friends with.
Ha… but, I’m imagining things, because now he’s smiling at me over his tea cup. Taking another sip.
I look up and around the room again.
They do exactly what Darc told them not to. I’m immediately startled by their silent entry.
I forget to inhale.
There’s four gentlemen – ahem – and they are well dressed preppy vampires, standing together.
Staring at me.
Staring at Darc.
Then staring back at me.
“Breathe,” Darc warns me – and I remember to inhale before I get dizzy.
I clasp my hands behind my back, running my fingers together while I watch the new company.
“Introduce yourselves to this… cherry,” Darc is speaking as if restrained, “Her name is Wynter.”
I wonder how I must look, when they all wear handkerchiefs in their pockets and green and red chequered socks.
I look like I crawled my way out of a swamp.
I wait for them to speak but they’re silent – still just taking us both in.
The four friends look smug - and they don’t want to speak.
“Yes, we all look similar,” Darc growls over his tea, “Black hair, pale skin. Horace has no colour to his lips, none, ever. Solomon is next to him, you see his distinct purple eyes? Fane – his ears spike, and Ash, he’s…” Darc sighs, “He’s my brother, he’s a ‘ladies’ man,” Darc’s voice gets more and more restricted.
“Is she mortal, Darc?” Ash speaks like it’s the first time – baby soft. I hate it. It’s weird and unnatural how melodic his voice is.
“Should we dismember her,” Horace whispers, his eyes asking Darc with a brilliant red sheen that glows brighter as he thinks of - of - dismemberment, “...and strip the skin –?”
“No, look at her,” Solomon, with the dark purple eyes, near black, snaps at Horace, but then exhales slowly, “Let Fane touch her and let’s see how she reacts.”
Fane – with the pointed ears, like a vampire elf – steps forward silently, not making a noise.
“May I?” Fane asks without really asking – as he comes up to me and outstretches a hand.
I turn and back up – fast.
My mind was still on Horace’s clear and distinct interest in dismembering me.
“Woah - !” Darc warns me of my mishap, but it’s too late.
I’ve lunged back too far.
My ankle hits his polished boots, and I fall backwards straight into his lap – while Darc just manages to place the tea aside, just in time. So there is no spillage.
But now, I’m on him, and two things are very wrong.
His dick is hard as hell under my ass. And it’s very obviously lengthy as it heats between my butt.
The more scary thing, is his mouth is too close to my neck now – and I feel him freeze again.
Darc clears his throat and grabs my waist, pushing me off a little rough.
I try to balance, but my tattered dress gets caught along my feet and I fall to my hands and knees.
Huffing, I try to ignore the chuckles. While down, I find another mirror – opposite me, on the ground, a small hand mirror.
I tilt my head, staring at me – and the more I stare at me the more I remember.
Not things, just feelings. In my gut.
Dread. Finality. Ending. Loss. Succumbing. Then dying.
I turn around and I glance up at Darc, who’s glaring at his friends and then trying to feign a smile for me.
Once I stand again, I back up a few steps to put distance between me and the vampires.
With my back against the wall, I pick up my tattered dress in my fingers.
“My clothes are ruined, I can’t wear this,” I speak to the fabric, without looking at Darc.
“…take it off…” Darc suggests.
Now, his true nature shines through.
As I blink and look up – I see the predator in him turned right on.
The red in his eyes shines with more luminescence, like a candle flame fuelled brighter, and his mouth curls in the corner.
My lip wobbles, I start to cry a little from surging panic.
“I-I’m dead? Why am I dead?” I whisper, “Am I in hell or something?”
“No,” Darc ignores my hysterical whimpering, answering calmly, hoping it rubs off on me again, “You’re in Dark Academy. And you can’t leave. So… you’ll have to stay,” Darc picks up his tea again, smirking over at his friends.
“…and Gorg…” I whisper.
“I told you not to worry,” Darc starts to sound annoyed.
“I knew Gorg did it,” Solomon speaks to Ash, “I told you he did it. Fucking dumb orc.”
“Fuck. Well… okay,” Ash keeps glancing between Darc and me, “Darc – you can’t stop that. Gorg took her Under.”
“...and Gorg also Revived her,” Horace adds, “Fane – go, touch her,” Horace is so mean and selfish.
“Don’t touch me,” I hold out my palm to Fane and he cringes back a bit – almost as if he’s scared, then remembers to straighten up.
What was happening?
“Listen, I can make you sleep and heal, if you let me,” Fane tries to look convincing.
“But why don’t I remember anything?” I ask all of them, “…why do you all know more than me... about me…?”
“Okay,” Darc licks his lips and stands up, seemingly done with patience, “You’re going to sleep,” he turns to me – now sinister, “You’ll need it.”
“I – don’t, no, no, I don’t,” I deny and try to argue with no facts and no memories, as Darc just approaches, snatches both my elbows and jerks me into his chest, as he leans down and tilts his mouth over mine, whispering, “Sleeeep.”
I try to deny that too.
I start to get dizzy.
I’m falling into his torso but also pushing off.
“I don’t – I don’t want to –”
“You will need it,” Darc repeats as he holds me before I collapse, smiling, handsome and perfect as he adds unnecessarily, “...we bite far too hard for you.”
I’ve already fallen off the edge of consciousness, falling deep into sleep, in Darc’s arms, within Dark Academy, with no sense and no knowledge - trapped, dead and revived in the Under?
A place demons lived.
But there was a huge chunk that still didn’t make sense.
This huge piece of me. Still gone.
What the hell was I missing?
Would I ever know who I was before I crossed that bridge? And entered the gate? And then the Academy.
I wanted to remember me. But how?