The sun had risen, it was bright daylight outside and shone through the side of the castle that housed the human servants. Once the light hit Melissa’s closed eyelids, her eyes opened wide, memory wiped clean save for what she had been told.
She began screaming as she bolted out of bed, half dressed; down the corridors she ran.
“IT’S THE WITCHES! IT’S THE WITCHES! THERE’S ONE ON THE GROUNDS!” She cried, causing every guard to go on alert and run over to her. She simply ran from them, leading them on a wild goose chase throughout the castle. “I KNOW WHERE SHE IS, PLEASE COME WITH ME!” She pleaded.
More guards called for backup and they rushed along with her. She successfully pulled every guard from their post as they rushed down into the dungeon with her. Finally, she started to laugh maniacally, causing everyone to look at her in confusion.
“Miss…where is the witch?” A guard asked.
She laughed more. “Don’t you see it fools? I’m the witch! And there’s more of us hidden around here….you’ll never find us. We’re coming for Orielle, and now that we’ve killed nearly everyone, we will kill her. You can’t stop us.”
Those were the last words that Melissa ever spoke.
I wiped the stray blood that leaked from my ear. I wasn’t supposed to be up in the daytime, and it was showing. I moved from the wall I was hiding behind and went straight for Orielle’s quarters.
I pushed the doors open and moved inside of the elaborate bedroom. Everything was dark ebony and gold. The bed was huge and laid upon the dark velvet was Orielle’s body. There was very little that could disrupt a vampire’s daytime death; for me, the only time I awoke, was when I felt Roxanne in danger.
I was extremely careful; and to be entirely honest, I was scared shitless. But I knew this was the only way that we could have a fighting chance at getting out of here alive, and the idea of Roxanne and I moving on from this for good was all the motivation I needed.
Sure enough, she wore the necklace as she slept, and even in the darkness, it seemed alive with some kind of evil. I crept over to her and waved my hand back and forth over her face, waiting for her to sit up and grab me on some horror movie shit…but she was silent, dead.
I touched the pendant, and she still didn’t move. I gripped it tightly and closed my eyes, ready to be killed when I ripped it from her neck.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, and she still laid there. Silent. Dead.
I opened my hand to see I had successfully obtained the necklace, and it was intricate, and definitely old. As I looked down at her, a brief idea of staking her right now crossed my mind…but I knew I couldn’t. She would sense it as soon as the wood touches her skin, and before I would be able to properly lunge it in, she will have sliced my throat open.
That’s what age gets you, extreme power.
I left the room slowly, fearing that my supernatural speed would do something to stir her slumber, and I closed the doors behind me. With nobody in the corridors, I began vamping, to save time, until I reached Roxanne’s quarters. I opened the doors, and they were empty.
She was nowhere to be found.
Curiously, I went down the hall, opening door after door. Each room was empty. I continued down, came across Maria’s room. Went to the next one, and opened it to find Roxanne in her death next to her escort.
“What the…fuck…?” I whispered, going over to them. They weren’t touching, he was on his side and she was over on the other side.
“Wake from your slumber.” I whispered. As her Creator, I could disrupt such a process. She jolted awake, confused at first, until she saw me. “You wanna explain to me why the fuck you’re sleeping with this guy?”
“Bruno, I-” She looked back at him and then up at me. “We didn’t do anything.”
“That didn’t answer my fucking question.”
She looked taken aback before speaking. “You…you never talk to me like that.”
“Why. Are. You. Sleeping. With. Him.” I repeated.
Roxanne sighed. “Honestly? He makes me feel safe, Bruno. After what happened in my quarters with JongHo, I just…I never looked at it the same, okay? But Bruno, we didn’t have sex, I promise.”
I could always tell when she was lying, and I felt through our bond, that she was being honest; but the fact remained, I didn’t appreciate her in bed with another man. Period. I eased up a little. “There are other guest rooms you can have. I don’t want you sleeping with him. I understand he’s helpin us, whatever; but it shouldn’t go beyond that. Would you feel comfortable with me sleeping with Maria?”
“…No.” She replied. “But I do have to tell you something.”
“We kissed.” She admitted sadly. “We kissed right after the incident. He didn’t initiate it, and it’s my fault. I felt confused and hurt and…I wish I would have had you, but I didn’t.”
“I…don’t know what to say.” I said, shaking my head as I opened my hand, letting the pendant fall, but holding onto the chain so it hung mid-air. “I got the necklace.” I set it on the nearby nightstand and turned to leave.
“Bruno.” She called out. I turned around and she was standing up. “I’m so…so sorry.”
“I forgive you Roxanne. I forgive you, because I don’t know if we’ll make it through this alive; and I don’t want either one of us leaving this Earth thinking about an impulsive kiss.” I struggled to say through my pain, and I vamped away before she could say another word.
I ran my hands through my hair, pulling it over my shoulder as I stared at the red pendant in front of me, wrapped in the burgundy silk cloth to protect it from my touch. I pulled it a little closer, tugging at the corner of the cloth, the small movement making the ruby glint in the dim lighting of my quarters.
My new quarters.
Due to the sudden controversy surrounding the rumored witch attacks; the Elitists, and Bruno and I, as well as our escorts, were all moved to the second estate…which was in the remote, desolate, empty, secluded Koryak Okrug, in Siberia. The rest of the army was still back in the previous estate. I only knew the name from eavesdropping on conversations, and how they found these locations, I had no idea.
In the back of my mind, I knew that Bruno had something to do with this…and I was proud of him for it, because it got me the necklace. How he did it, I had no idea.
There was a knock at my door and I quickly covered the necklace and tucked it into my corset. I behaved as though I were fixing my hair, toying my fingers in the loose curls.
“Are you ready for the banquet?” Emmett asked, opening the door. I noticed he looked very dapper this important evening, in his black suit and bow tie.
I hadn’t told him what Bruno said, or that I had confessed. It would have made things too awkward, and plus, Emmett could have gotten upset and turned on us. ”I hope so.” I said, looking up at him as he approached me. He stood behind me in the mirror, placing his hands on my shoulders as he leaned down and kissed my cheek.
“You will be fine, you are almost to the finish line.”
“Emmett…” I said, placing my hands atop his own. ”What if I don’t make it past the finish line?”
He stepped aside, allowing for me to stand up. ”Then you’d better make a brilliant exit tomorrow evening, Roxanne; you are a performer, after all…and what is a performance without a grand finale?” He bowed for me to go ahead of him, and I took a few seconds to let his comment register, before I picked up the front of my dress and began to walk out into the corridor. Emmett soon joined me, leading me to the banquet hall.
There was a long table, God knows what for, since we don’t eat food; and it was bare, save for a young woman, dressed elegantly in a beautiful, white gown, who laid in the center of the table, staring upwards blankly. She was human, and my mind could only imagine the sick things she would have to go through at the expense of a now officially wacked out Orielle.
Emmett guided me to my seat, on the side of the table, in the middle. He instructed for me not to sit yet, and stood next to me. While we waited, Bruno was led in by his escort as well and they followed suit, doing the same thing.
I noticed his hair had been straightened and put into that bouffant he wore to industry events sometimes; I wondered who did that. It didn’t seem like anyone around this place had the skills to do anyone’s hair.
Next to arrive was Jason, standing tall and gliding in like the gentleman that he was. He sure was handsome, and for him to take such favor in Bruno was quite the compliment. He gave a nod to me before taking his place. The next guy was Casimiro, I had learned. I hadn’t had much conversation with him personally, but he always seemed to be with Jason.
I actually began to question how we would off him, and why he wasn’t taken care of already.
Last but not least, was Orielle, who was, even now, surrounded by guards…four of them, like the secret service or something, walked with her. I even noticed how much her arrogant, violent confidence had faltered. Her eyes twitched over at random spots in the room occasionally, and she held a shawl around her shoulders that she clutched tightly.
Clearly, the necklace being stolen was the straw to break the camel’s back.
Instinctively, I touched my breast, almost to be sure it was still there. I wasn’t sure if she would have random searches of our quarters, or if we would be relocated last minute again, so I had to keep it with me at all times. That was dangerous, though. I had quickly learned that in the supernatural world, anything goes; and I had no idea if she could sense her precious talisman when it was near.
She stood at the head of the table and nodded for us to sit, so we all did.
I looked across the woman in white to Bruno, who locked eyes with me only momentarily, before we both looked away.
“Tonight, despite the tragedies we have faced as a league; we stand strong, powerful, alive.” Orielle announced, with determination in her voice. ”It is true, we have been under attack by witches, but rather than to see it as defeat, we see it as a trial, to test out who is the weak amongst us.”
“Bruno and Roxanne, tonight you will take part in the ceremony that begins your Final Evaluation, which will take place tomorrow evening. Before Dawn, I should hope we have a new member in our league.”
Bruno must’ve heard the singularity in that statement just as I did, because we both looked at one another, probably too abruptly, as Orielle chuckled. ”You couldn’t have believed that I would have both of you join us? That is preposterous, I wouldn’t be able to trust that you two have eliminated your bond with one another.”
I looked down at my lap and bit my lower lip. I already knew this from what Emmett had told me, but hearing it made it that much more real. I felt on the verge of tears already, but I held them back.
“I will take the strongest to be with our league. The other, shall have the true death. Quite a proposition, isn’t it?” She clasped her hands together, “Let the celebration begin!”
Casimiro stood up and pulled from his suit jacket, a sharp silver knife. It was then that I noticed he wore a leather glove on his hand to protect himself. He carefully sliced the veins of his wrist, and let his blood course freely into the open mouth of the woman that lie on the table.
Everyone’s fangs automatically projected, although I wanted to run as far from this scene as possible. It was a frightening thought, that my mind could be so opposite of what my body showed.
He came around and did the same to Jason, who leaked his life source into the woman’s mouth. She had to have been glamoured, because she was entirely too willing.
He did the same to Bruno, but not his escort; and then came to me, and I obliged, shaking my head slowly at the woman who had no idea what was going on. Casimiro skipped my escort as well and finished with Orielle.
Once he returned to his spot, he wiped the blade with a cloth kerchief and tucked it away. ”If we have nothing else in common…it is that we were all once human. Now all of our blood runs through this pure woman; and we are as one. If you accept that we are the ultimate elite race, and humans are for nothing more than to nourish us; then please say ‘It is all I believe’.”
I swallowed hard and replied, “It is all I believe.”
Bruno did at the same time, “It is all I believe.”
“Come forward then, and bring all of our lives together in union. Drain this woman to her death.” Casimiro instructed, before sitting down. Everyone else sat down except for Bruno and I.
I had no choice but to listen and do as I was told, but to be honest, I was fucked up as soon as I heard we both wouldn’t be making it into the league. I mean, it wasn’t like we were gonna go much further than the Evaluation anyway, but damn, just to know they were fucking with my head this whole time really didn’t make me feel any more cooperative.
I was just thankful that Melissa had done her job. I trusted Rox to do hers, and I knew, after all that training, that I could damn sure do mine. But timing was essential. Everything had to be in perfect timing, there was no room for fuckups.
My attention returning to the task in front of us, I moved forward and grasped the woman’s wrist, feeling her pulse spike underneath my touch. Out the side of my eye, I saw Rox do the same and I closed my eyes, ignoring my morality for a moment and piercing her skin. I made quick work of sucking down her blood, hoping that I could finish her quickly.
The woman flinched only sightly, and the color began to drain from her face after a while. She gagged, but didn’t fight, and gasped for breath, her body convulsing. Rox was reverting back into her ruthlessness with killing, and it was then that I was reminded that she was a young vampire with little experience at controlling herself in situations such as this.
Soon, the woman stopped moving and lay there lifeless, her body sunken in, her skin pale. As the rest of the Elitists applauded us in congratulations, I hurriedly whispered underneath my breath in my authoritative tone of being a Creator; “Stop drinking, immediately.”
Rox’s mind switched back to normal and she blinked and few times before surveying the dead human that lie there. ”Do not react.” I whispered, in the same tone, and she closed her eyes tightly, feeling the binding words of my command fight against her urges, and within seconds, she had no choice but to behave as normal.
“Aedan and I founded this league, thousands of years ago.” Orielle spoke, her eyes focusing into the table. ”He…he was my Creator, and a powerful, brilliant vampire. There will be none other like him; even I cannot ever measure up to what he was, what he represented.”
We were all silent as we listened.
“I will not forsake him. We will build ourselves back up and accomplish the dream we have always desired more than the purest of blood…..to have domination over the entire human race.” She paused, clutching her shawl closer over her shoulders. She didn’t mention the necklace, I could only wonder why.
Orielle stood up, pushing her chair back. Finally she looked up at me. ”Do not disappoint me, Bruno.” She said, briskly leaving the banquet hall.
“I knew it.” I heard Roxanne whisper to herself. I glanced over to see her wiping away tears. Her escort laid a hand on her shoulder and I wanted to snap it off. He had no right comforting her, I couldn’t even believe that he was supposedly going to be “helping” us.
“The Final Evaluation will test your strength, your knowledge, and your courage against some of your deepest fears. If you refuse any challenge, you will automatically be disqualified.” Jason explained, looking at both of us. ”I hope I am understood as I will say it one more time….if you refuse any challenge, you will automatically be disqualified.”