Picking berries, it sounded nice, what could go wrong? It was a forest walk and I had five escorts. That hopefully, you know, wouldn’t hurt me. Since they were freaking vampires.
Darc, his brother Ash and their friends Horace, Solomon and Fane.
They really do look like a brooding brotherhood – an alliance of some kind.
They’ve wrapped themselves in black winter robes for the cold, I guess.
I was offered all these sinful dresses to wear but none suited my taste. I did my best to clean the tattered silver formal dress I died in – a thing from where I came from. Earth. I didn’t want to lose it.
I combed my hair through and washed my face and limbs down. I noticed in the small guest bathroom mirror, that most of my pale skin was now warm all over. My veins were too wide and too blue, however, as if underneath I was damaged, even though on the surface I was starting to look ‘normal’ again.
Now I’m treading softly just behind the five ancient vampires and they don’t seem too worried about me being isolated in my walk behind them, while they’re all shoulder to shoulder.
They talk to each other while I follow like a dog.
They don’t acknowledge me back here.
I take the opportunity to listen into their dialogue as it travels easy with the open air along this mountain path.
“The fountain of youth is lacking blood, it’s been draining out since the executions stopped as planned and the basin is now visible,” Solomon, the one with purple eyes also wears silver jewellery. In his ears, over his neck, in his nose. It looked tribal and ancient, odd, “I worry it’s all too soon, Darc.”
“I dreamed it isn’t so,” Darc always sounds slightly euphoric when he mentions dreaming.
“And I know it isn’t,” Ash adds onto the end of Darc’s sentence, and I wonder if they’re twins with the way they share a perfectly timed knowing look afterward. Not identical though; perhaps fraternal twins. Darc’s eyes were red, Ash’s a light brown – more normal.
“Fane?” Solomon asks the pointy eared vampire, who looks over his shoulder at that moment – right at me.
It’s disconcerting and catches me off guard.
Fane’s eyes are black – no distinction where the pupil starts and ends.
“She can always donate if we need a little extra time,” Fane suggests, seeing me pale, “It’s not what you think.”
I feel Horace on the edge, feel his need to look back at me next and I am immediately intimidated by his eyes roaming over me.
On second thoughts – donating blood wouldn’t be as bad as being dismembered.
“Okay, I don’t see why not,” I agree with Fane, shrugging. If I helped them, maybe I could find an ally in all of them –
Except now, with my agreeable response, they all stop walking along the garden path, turning to face me.
All are mostly impressed and maybe shocked.
Darc is the one most disturbed by my admission.
Their gazes are heavy. Unless – they thought I meant donate now.
I nervously grab my other elbow and I suck in a deep breath.
“How did you die again?” Darc asks me, suspiciously.
“I think I drowned… and was probably beaten… and…” my eyes wander – but what else happened to me? I didn’t even think –
I’m suddenly nauseous at the thought.
“I saw it happen, Wynter, you were in battle –” Solomon blinks slowly at me, and Darc hisses at him.
“Shut up, Solomon,” Darc snarls, letting that monster out for a moment, “…don’t tell her anything.”
I feel betrayed and angry at this turn in conversation.
“It was my life,” I let out my own growl, not near as intimidating as his snarl, although I do manage to sound downright bitchy, “What right do you have to hide anything from me –”
“…you have no idea what you’re talking about… Wynter,” Darc immediately reels in the monster inside and talks like a well-to-do gentlemen, with an edge. There he goes again, taunting me with my name, with that sarcasm – mostly his loose attitude, letting me know we have a past.
But he won’t tell me what it is or what it all means.
“Are you sure you want berries,” Ash asks me – and I feel it’s a strange defence of his brother.
Why did I think that…
I just nod.
I’m not sure what else to say.
Darc lunges out toward me, and I’m impressed by my ability not to flinch as he snatches my elbow and he looks at me as if trying to find any fear. He is disappointed he doesn’t find such a reaction this time. Darc tells me, “The berries grow by your sacrificial alter,” my eyes question why, and he answers me, “I thought it would be in your interest to know where you’ll eventually die for us.”
“I’m already dead,” I state, as if I know what I’m talking about, “…undead perhaps?”
“You’re alive,” Fane tells me.
“About G –” Gorg.
“Don’t start,” Darc’s hand tightens and he silences me with his red glare.
In that moment of his anger I finally get a second feeling.
To add onto the familiarity I feel for him.
I’m humoured by his rage.
“Okay,” I answer again, simply.
He probably expected a protest.
Darc turns abruptly and pulls me in front, then awkwardly unhands my arm and presses a gentle hand to the small of my back, ushering me forward, rather gently.
What the – the hell?
I walk forward, taking the lead.
Talk about a sudden change in demeanour.
“I don’t know where to go,” I accuse all of them, now that I’m in front.
“How about you use your eyes and look around you,” Darc wraps his black robe around him, shoving his hands into his pockets within as if he’s still pissed off.
Horace’s gaze to the left gives it away.
I turn and I finally see it.
In the bush, large and plentiful cherry bushes surround a huge rising temple between the trees, moss covered bronze ruins with steps leading up to a circle, a sacrificial alter at the centre.
“Go. Take a look at where you’ll die,” Darc is very insistent on this.
The others don’t refute his suggestion.
I take Darc in with his skittish, smug eyes and I wait for him to hold my stare before I answer him, “Okay. I’d love to,” I answer as if I know how to in that moment.
There is a very distinct knowing in his eyes, recognition at my tone.
But I still don’t know how I knew what to say.
I turn away, to take a look.
“What do you call this place?” I ask, as I make my way toward the first steps.
“We call it… hmm –” Darc hesitates – and that sly and smug attitude comes back in his demonic trigger happy snarl, “Distortion. Wynter. We call it distortion.”
It’s what he was doing to me.