I can’t talk, I can’t think, I can’t do anything, let alone run.
Get out, get out, get out! I want them out of my head – but I’m suffocating slowly. I can’t even send the thought their way as I stand still in the courtyard.
They’re wrapped around my whole soul.
She can’t function, get out, Solomon snarls at them – and the weight of four more demons vanquishes. The lightness returns and I exhale, You’re still too weak.
But I’m getting stronger, I can think again, I can talk again!
That’s right, Solomon purrs to me, pleasant enough – not long after trying to murder me on the temple’s alter.
I start to walk again, but I feel Solomon holding back, observing a few things first. And then, when ready, he slowly starts to take control of me.
He raises both my hands to my face, covering my eyes. My feet start to move, we start to run.
Where are you taking me? I ask him, innocently.
I’m just glad I can breathe again.
He doesn’t answer me straight away.
I feel myself running for a long while with my eyes covered.
I work out I’m not allowed to see where I’m being taken.
You need to see our real selves. I tried to kill you again to get you in here – but there’s another way in.
I’ve been running up a mountain for some time, and the sound of rushing and gushing water in a valley echoes around my ears as he explains. My feet touch slippery rocks but Solomon keeps my balance for me. I feel safe only in that regard.
I feel the running water pour over me from above. For a few moments I’m not breathing just while walking through a downpour of a waterfall.
And then we’re through.
Solomon walks me along warm rocks – air moves around me briefly, sucked out, as a heavy door slams shut behind me, bolts grinding slowly into place.
It sounds… awfully final.
Solomon leaves me.
I regain total control of my body, and I lower my hands from my eyes to look around me.
I’m ‘shocked’ is an understatement.
No way this exists.
It looks like a penthouse or a club, ripped from a skyscraper, teleported into the inside of a mountain. It’s not natural – it’s magic and it’s –
“Welcome to the Crypt,” Darc’s voice – much older, much meaner – resonates in front of me.
I can’t look at them.
I’ve walked into a place.
Darc, Horace, Solomon, Fane and Ash are all here. All six of us.
“I am the Vampire of Dreams,” Darc tells me while leaning over a billiards table to the left, looking at a pile of gold dice in deep thought. He doesn’t look at me in any fashion, but I’m certainly looking at him.
Older. Yep. What the fuck?
Not a young man, that was the distortion – but handsome fully grown demon in his prime? Yes. This is real.
“I am the Vampire of Distortion,” Solomon speaks from behind me – but I’m too afraid to look.
I force my head to turn and he’s right behind me, his nose and lips are still pierced with jagged silver ancient jewellery, stained with blood from a fresh kill. He’s much taller than I remembered and I feel like a flea in comparison.
“I am the Vampire of Destiny,” Fane is standing by a pool filled with fresh blood – and it’s boiling while he looks over it. I only see his back as well, as he’s looking at his evil cauldron or whatever...
“I am the Vampire of Death,” Horace’s mouth is full; full of an unquenched appetite. He’s drinking lots of wine from a large goblet, sitting on a throne that’s crooked but grande, in the middle of the place... with shackles on each arm and leg. Okay. Not a throne? But he’s using it as a seat.
I can’t look at any of them too long – they’re not boys anymore.
“I am the Vampire of Dishonour,” Ash solidifies into a man right in front of me, making me back up into Solomon in fright. Ash appeared from thin air. Or maybe he moved that fast?
I feel a sharp pointy bit teasing my spine after I lurched back.
I squeak in a breath, but when I look back, it’s only one of Solomon’s long sharp nails. Still not a comfort.
And then my chin, if not my whole head is grasped by Ash.
He pulls me back around to face him, pulling my head up, until I’m on my tip toes, and he’s gazing into my eyes.
“Those are just a small part of us out there, what we could make, from in here,” Ash is referring to the boys, “But all of us are trapped in here,” Ash tells me straight, his eyes are pained with betrayal, and I’m about to find out why, “You did this to us. And you’re going to let us out.”