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I awoke to the sound of shuffling feet, soft breathing, and a cold hand playing with the hair on the back of my neck. I turned over, feeling something cold and automatically pulling back, but when he stopped, still not opening eyes, I pushed myself closer. My nose skimmed over his arm and over his shoulder, brushing over his collarbone, searching up his neck and then coming to rest with my lips against his cheek. I found his lips quickly and pushed mine to his, like glass, cold, and perfect. He chuckled, and I felt the sound rumble through the couch. I heard a few small chuckles behind us, in the dining room and kitchen, where others were looking in.
I opened my eyes and seeing nothing but the perfectness of his chest, looking up, I pulled away to look him in the eye. He looked rested, in health, as did everyone else. His eyes were like white crystal, smooth and beautiful. He smiled and pushed my lips away, and wrapped his arms tighter, so there was nothing left between us. His fingers traced up and down my back, while the other one caressed my face.
“Did you sleep well?” He asked with a playful smile.
“With you? I always do.”
Charlotte laughed upstairs and I heard her whisper down the staircase.
“Good,” He smiled, and then sighed happily. “I feel much better, I needed that. It heals you, in a way, and restores a lot of lost strength.” He laughed.
I straightened myself and sat up, he followed the movement, still holding me, rocking me, loving me. In the doorway on the floor, Peter and Eleni were sitting down, laughing quietly to each other, ignoring my little love fest over here. Others walked in and out, smiling at us, almost looking as though they felt guilty for barging in.
Alistair walked in on us at one point and actually sat down near us as we collected ourselves, or one another, it didn’t matter. He looked at us with the gentle face of a father, a gentle soul, and settler. Alec smiled at him, and truthfully, I thought there was a click between them like a kind of instant trust.
But then everyone came in and stood around, serious, some peeking through the doorway, the room too full for them to fit. “Look outside,” The Talented told us, all except Peter, who was hovering over his girl.
Alec and I looked toward the window, where the sky was dead black, like the sun hadn’t even risen yet. I pushed open the curtains, and stared at the barely visible falling snow, that was rapidly pouring from the clouds. I stared, mouth open, eyes wide.
“Today,” I said, though I knew it all along, it surprised me. “Just as I saw.”
Alec came to my side and propped open the red silk curtains. He twisted me around him, lovingly. “Don’t be afraid,” he murmured in a voice so soft and silk like it was seducing. “We prepared ourselves.”
“Yes,” I groaned. He had, but I had my doubts.
We didn’t discuss any strategies, and there was only two rules in this. Kill the enemy, and try not to kill people on our side. There was a business like aroma in the air, and it was quiet, the silence before the war.
“Try,” Alistair was telling me. “Look for a specific time, so we know when to be there, and what to expect.”
So, for two hours straight, I sat on the couch, eyes closed, Alec underneath me. He sat motionless as he waited for the signal in his head that would tell him when I saw something. Everyone was quiet too, sitting somewhere and staring, or just standing and staring outside. McKenzie and the rest of them sat around me, blankly staring and waiting.
I saw small flickers, but nothing absolutely certain. He was changing paths, and altering the future I saw with every change. Suddenly, Alec hands came down soft and they squeezed right before the vision started.
I opened my eyes two minutes later. “He’s certain,” I said to them every one held still, like perfectly pale crystal like statues. “It’s definitely today, and it looks though we’re fighting in some sort of clearing outside of town. Far away, but I can’t see anything else.”
Charlotte nodded. “We’re doing this wrong.” Everyone looked at her, eyes confused. “If we’re waiting for her to see something and then go, she won’t see anything. We should go now, make it a definite decision, and then go from there.”
There were mumbles from afar and then every single pair of black or white eyes turned to Alec and me on the couch. I shrank back into the coolness of his chest.
He nodded. “We go, now.”
We didn’t lock anything, no doors or any windows, just turned off every light except for one that hung glistening over the white porch. It was just like being under Alistair’s gift. We knew what do to, and ran right through the snow that piled up to our knees. It was easy to run through, it was soft and yet it stuck to the ground. The sky was black as the clouds folded over and the snow, in thick flakes, fell from them. We ran, in an oddly formed arrow, through the covered branches and grasses. I led them away from where Olivia was, afraid for my sanity and led them through another part still leading to the large clearing I had seen.
There we waited, standing in lines, but still scrambled, with the Talented in front, me included. Alec twisted out fingers together and we kissed, passionately, as did a few other couples that had formed over the days. Peter and Eleni were the worst, and the longest. But when they departed, their eyes glistened with a light I had never seen touch her eyes. Which was nice for Alec I was sure, she hadn’t insulted him in days, though it would take her a while to make up for those hundred years.
Deep in the forest there was a rumble, and soft purring, the sound we had made when rushing through the snow.
They came with grace, with beauty strangely deformed by the thirst that glistened in their blackened eyes. Girls made up most of the party that stood before us. An easy identifiable man stood upon them, eyes strangely narrowed, and face scrunched like someone under McKenzie’s influence. His hair was just the same in my visions, his clothes had never changed, showed here with their huge rips and faded color. All were edgy, crouched in back of him, eyes wide and lips pulled up on every face. Though it was hard to make out individual characteristics of beauty among the wild group, Armando’s eyes seemed to have no trouble finding Eleni in our massive clan. She shrank back into Peter’s side and he cradled her, and moved in front of her, pushing her hair behind her ears. There were small growls on either side, then louder hisses in return. Armando crouched forward, nails digging through the snow, hair collecting small crystals from the air. Behind us, the clan rumbled their own threats and crouched as well. I stayed perfectly still and stood straight. From down below, Alec looked up at me, sensing what I was doing and his eyebrows pulled down.
I whispered low, and slowly, sank to the ground in a crouch. I saw the first vampire, near Armando, throw herself into the air and I smiled. “Now,” I whispered to Alec, and it happened.
There was no getting away from her, she had propelled herself right into the middle of our clan and almost immediately, there was a shriek, soft like bells but loud in the silence, followed by louder cracking sounds. The white ground tinting toward orange and red, then blue, beautifully glistening as her shrieking broke off mid-scream, and she melted through the ground.
Everyone lurched forward, away from the flames and then the next vampire struck and then the next. We were flying through the air, propelling then crashing. I could see faintly the small flame extended around Peter’s fingers as he fought with small female, protecting Eleni. Everyone was in pieces, and with the way our vampires were taught, it wasn’t our vampires being shredded. I lurched in and out of flailing arms and glistening teeth, and straight toward one female vampire who I planned to take off guard. She whirled around, black eyes gleaming and as she swung her arm, I bit it and she screamed as it slowly melted and fell off, leaving only clothing near the shoulder. I tumbled around her, clawing and ripping, jabbing and biting, until her porcelain face was all but destroyed and her clothes torn to pieces. The others were doing the same and as the field grew brighter with every vampire catching fire, the faces were revealed. Armando’s numbers were dropping already, and the faces of those he had bitten were deranged, eyes wide like they had taped their eyelids to their foreheads. Some of the females were so crazy with the thirst, starved for months, I couldn’t tell if they were beautified or not. I swung at anyone who came near as the black sky, clouds reflecting the flames, turned blue and then a soft yellow. Shrieks and hisses erupted from the vampires, some strangled as they burned and others out of fury and rage. Body parts covered the ground instead of snow, so many were dying. I stared back at our clan, which was a mistake, because another enemy took advantage of my distraction and wailed me so hard in the head I felt my teeth rattle. I crumbled into the floor for a minute and as she stood over me, staring down with those crazy eyes, Alec rushed in and tumbled into her at mid-flight. They wrestled until I saw his fingers jab her under the rub cage, the flames erupted in red, and the shrieks returned. But there were familiar yells too, like the others we created, as they burned.
“Are you alright?” Alec asked, helping me up. I nodded sand sprang to my feet, eyes wide. Three girls and a guy tackled him to the ground at my feet.
“Alec!” I screamed, panicked as the other’s clawed and bit at his neck and sides. He didn’t pay any attention until I got a hit to the gut and fell into the snow. Five men stood over me and they stomped on my hair and pinned my arms to the ground, drool spouting from their fangs. “Alec!” I really screamed now, and I heard his furious snarl and one girl went flying through the air, in pieces. I heard others screaming and being torn apart, then burned, the rock against rock tearing was piercing through my head. The men above me ripped half of my jeans away from my legs and ripped off my sneakers. One bent near my head and as I screamed, his teeth searched through my hair. I screamed louder as the other bit through my arms, their teeth the only thing that could break my skin. But blood rushed from the cuts and that was a huge problem. Others near us, looked toward the scene. Alec was hauled off toward the edge of the forest. He was screeching and hissing, snapping his fangs near their faces. He was tackled by four more and I heard horrible snapping. I could feel venom seep through my system but others came, female and distracted by their thirst, drew their mouths to the cuts and sucked everything back out. Then, a bright flame ripped through in font of me and they fell around me, burning and hissing.
“Rose!” Charlotte yelled and picked me up off the ground. She helped me up and I sprang to my feet, blood still gaping through open wounds.
I left her, surprisingly, and headed toward the edge of the forest. But a scream pierced through my concentration, one more distinct then the others. One I’d heard before. I turned, searching through bodies and flames, to see Peter crouching over Eleni, with Armando snapping his teeth in front of the boy’s face.
“Peter!” Eleni screamed in terror as the older vampire crashed into him, tearing his shirt from his chest. She scrambled to her knees and sprang forward, but was smacked down by the body part of another vampire.
“Oh, Peter!” I screeched and came to his rescue, biting through Armando’s arm. He flinched and flew away, so fast he landed in a far away tree. On the ground, Peter was breathing heavy, clutching his chest where a small flame was beginning to form. “Oh, god!” I yelled and helped him to sit and laid him in Eleni’s arms. I crouched over them as Armando flew through the flames and fighters, eyes fixed on Eleni.
I hissed, high, and pierced my teeth through his neck, I could see the venom, like acid, burn the skin and he crumbled to the floor, but he didn’t die. No flame erupted from the cut. I leaned over him and edged my fingers down…
“Oh!” I huffed as a fist flew through my mouth and threw me against a frozen tree that snapped and broke apart. This young one was again female and I bit her where I was supposed to and she crumbled to the floor, screaming.
The screams seemed to echo from every angle, but I didn’t listen to them. There was a distinct scream that held my attention again and my instinct burst apart inside me. Charlotte was screaming under four different vampires as they did to her as they did to me. I ran over, swerving through everyone, I saw McKenzie send another vampire to the floor, and Alistair came in and killed him.
“Charlotte!” I screamed once I saw how much they had gotten rid of her. She was flailing as blue flames erupted around her shoulders, scorching against her red hair. I scrambled up, punching on guy so hard I went through him and the flames burned him up. I helped her up as she screamed some more and I realized with relief the flames that were on her weren’t from the wounds she had.
I was far from done, and as the field seemed to clear out, I was able to see who was on my team and who wasn’t. I felt like a kid in gym class. McKenzie was targeting another vampire as she crouched toward her, the girl’s dark eyes frighteningly wide. She licked her lips as if her thirst was all she could think about. From near the tree I had put him under, Peter was having trouble fighting as well. He was too weak to fight for real and so he sat there, under the eyes of seven vampires, and watched them burn at his feet once he put them under. To all that needed help, I was there, but one time proved to be too great and I got caught up in something I couldn’t handle.
Though she was small, and thirsty, she was faster then anything I’d ever seen before. You couldn’t see her feet as she moved, you couldn’t see anything. One minute, she there and the next minute she wasn’t. I watched with disbelief as she took down one of our own so fast I couldn’t catch it. Though that had been the vampire that had protested against this whole thing, and she had been right, I felt nothing for her as she burned.
I struck hard at this little vampire, enraged by her cruel smile. She, of course, whirled out of my way, laughing like a small child. Though she looked younger, in both ways, she looked to be around thirteen. How something could move that fast was beyond me, and I found myself staring rather then fighting. But she didn’t do anything but smile back. The armies were depleting by now, both sides weakening, as I looked around. There was nothing but fire and ash among the ground, I shuddered as Charlotte and I tore apart another one.
Though none of us expected reinforcements, another very large group of vampires marched with grace, entering the small clearing of ash, snow and smoke.
Most turned to watch, because despite the battle, this group looked important, like they weren’t here to fight but to bring news of something. There were wearing different clothing, not exactly capes but something close to it. The men were circled around a center female that I still couldn’t see. I turned and watched more closely, as most of the violence stopped, without thinking about it. The men were young, but held eyes that looked to be a thousand years old. Like they’ve seen many things, knew about things no one else in the world knew about. One member stepped aside as a tiny giggle pierced through the silence. The man that moved looked over each of us with a kind of look that cooled your entire body, made it so ice cold you shivered.
There was a lady in the middle of all of them, nearly sixty men traveled with this young woman. By now everything was still, completely quiet except for the roar of some soft flickering flames. The women held a tiny child, with eyes black, and a smile kind as she turned into her mother’s chest. As the women looked up I gasped. Her eyes seemed to sparkle with their own dark beauty, her lips were flawlessly full and yet thin. Her face so pale she was almost see through, but her features were so vivid you knew she was real. Her curly dark hair stretched down to her shoulder’s curling in with the cold, but falling gracefully into place whenever the wind blew. Her nose was even perfect, straight and thin. Her jaw wasn’t round but flat and it gave a new look about her face. I realized, with such dazzling beauty, and surrounded by a guard with a small child, that this must be Alaine. Her feet came forward and she opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. I expected to hear a glowing, silk kind of voice that surpassed any beautiful sound created by man. But she closed her flawless, glass smooth lips, and just seemed to smile at us, a smile that both fascinated and repelled. As the other members of the Guard moved over, all male, still and looking quite bored with it, I saw the rest of her body. She wore beautifully made clothes that draped over her like a colorful waterfall. Though the colors were a tint off because of the fire reflecting off them, they shaped her body so nicely it brought her stance, though casual, looking beautifully elegant. She was perfect, tall and breathtakingly stunning. Finally, and my ears pitched to hear it, she spoke to one of her Guard members. The small child in her arms struggled to get down, pointing to the ground and then looking at her mother.
I could see Celeste, too, her child, and her small plump cheeks had some sort of rosy undertone that brought out her eyes, but she turned now and I could only see the back of her. Still I knew her little face would have been like a doll’s face, so perfectly proportioned, the two looked unreal. Like they didn’t exist, like the beauty you saw proved they didn’t exist.
She spoke in such a voice, like bells and flutes intertwined, everything I placed to her voice, shimmering and golden, failed to even come close to the beauty. She spoke in a language that only increased the beauty of her tone. It sounded like Latin, and she twisted her delicate and stunning face over to the Guard she wanted. Her lips twisted over the words, flawlessly pronouncing every drop of her sentence. Her hair bounced as she looked and nodded.
A very evil looking smile spread across his face and all at once, they had decided what they were going to do. They lurched forward, hands out, fangs sharpened. Even Alaine’s fangs were perfectly drawn out, in perfect shape with the most beautiful light bouncing off them. Little Celeste took out a full grown vampire before our eyes, and like the interference never happened, the battle broke out again.
The Guards, some with the same bored expression, killed all the same way, fought with the same emotion on their faces. Their movement, though it was still dim out, where very distinct compared to ours. Their feet shuffled silently through the snow and every twitch was graceful, every movement had its own mark of beauty. The men, everyone around, faded in comparison to the Queen. Alaine killed too, but she chose no side. She killed who ever came near, and she seemed to always shadow the exact footing. She bounced lightly, beautifully through the crystals that covered the ground and floated peacefully in the air.
I was stunned to see her, my imagination had done her no justice. Celeste was frightening, her eyes wild in a way a child’s eyes should never be. Her smile was still childish, her expression and bouncing brunette curls, had a beautiful child-like shine to them. However, her feet and arms, the way she moved, wasn’t at all childlike, it was as perfect as ours, better. She moved with perfect coordination for an eight year old. Though she had been created long ago, I couldn’t help but compare her and her mother to the others around me.
I was completely distracted from the fight until a loud shredding sound broke through the air.
I saw Armando over Eleni again, and ran over, again the savor, and tackled all my body weight into his side. We tumbled off the field and into the brush, where I saw Alec fighting off the last vampire who attacked him. Again a vampire took advantage of this, and I was flying through the air, colliding with the burning vampire Alec just finished. But I didn’t stay down long, Alec and I locked hands and ran toward Armando and with one swing of my fist, he was in the snow.
But that kill, wasn’t ours to make. We had been joined by Charlotte, and the three of us stared down at the snarling vampire beneath us.
Someone spoke in Latin. Alec’s head snapped up to the sound of the tinkling silvery voice.
He spoke back to her, Alaine, and she frowned as he stumbled over a sentence he was trying to say. I knew he was perfectly fluent speaking this way, but Armando was distracting him. I couldn’t tear my eyes from her, couldn’t move any muscle when she was near. It was like the pull Eleni had when she used her gift, though there was nothing the Queen possessed, besides beauty that created the same alluring feeling.
She mumbled something else and her dark eyes focused on Armando. Then he was gone, and we saw him dodging through the mass of others.
Screams cut off with a strangled gurgle and hissing noises erupted from the crowd.
Alaine only looked after him, eyes glistening in brilliant blue from the nearby cluster of flames. Alec nodded at her, not trusting his voice, and she darted after him, moving faster then I had ever seen a vampire move. My mouth dropped as she fell into the crowd.
“What did she ask?” Charlotte wondered.
Alec smiled. “I explained our situation enough so she knows who’s to blame. She’s going to help us.”
“Is there a rule against this?” I asked.
He nodded. “There is now.”
We wasted no more time talking and again began our rage of fury against the other side. Again, with new enforcements, the army was completely abolished. All newborns, with the exception of a few, were lying in piles. The field was ablaze with colors, all the colors of fire.
“Oh, no,” Alec whispered as he overheard an order given to the Guard. I couldn’t quite understand the whole conversation, but I thought I picked out the word responsible.
“Responsible?” I asked. “What is she saying?”
“She believes all of us are responsible for the mess, and she says we all need to…”
“I thought she was supposed to help us, not destroy us!” Charlotte screeched, eyes flaming.
“She knows Armando is the main cause, but she knows I…” He stopped, and we both saw it.
She was hissing furiously, and pierced him hard, with enough force to kill anyone. Yet, though it was the right place to strike, no flames emerged.
“Oh!” I huffed and stepped forward. Alec caught my hand.
“You can’t, it’s forbidden, it’s her battle now, we’ve down what we can.” But I pulled away and he yelled, grumbling. I heard him behind me and quickly changed my direction, making him stumble into the nearest person. I needed to get just a little bit further…
Members of the Guards stood in front me, suddenly appearing, and blocking my path.
“Move!” I yelled at them but their faces remained an empty mask. I cursed when their hands continued to force me back. They were a circle, an impenetrable shield around Alaine and Armando, unable to interfere or take any other orders. I saw them snarl at each other, and she struck him again, dodging four other attacks, but missed.
How was that possible?
This was the creator of all others, and she was failing. I knew she needed some sort of help. I looked for an entry way, anyway in, because this was my fight too. I looked around for Charlotte and once I saw her I beckoned her over. Though her eyes were wide, staring at the wall of vampires, she walked toward me. Slowly, and it irritated me. So I ran over, getting her immediate attention.
“Make McKenzie and Alistair help you…”
“No need,” Alistair came up and nodded encouragingly. “We need to help her.”
Alec’s head came up when he felt all our gifts spark up. But it worked, distracted from blindness or just going insane, five members of the Guard fell to the floor. Alaine looked over when she saw, and her eyes widened. But she snapped back quick enough to avoid getting hit. Armando wasn’t fighting her but fighting to get past her, toward Eleni, his main goal. She ripped through us shirt. By now, other remaining vampires from our army were looking in. Eleni held Peter up, halfway covered in back of him. I noticed Alec over there too, in front of everyone, crouched, awaiting the order and prepared to fight everyone back. I squeezed in through the gap in their shield and other members came to pull me out, and I saw their teeth shine, but just as quick, they too fell to the ground. Some were simply blinded, others smiling on the ground, lips curling sickeningly.
I flew through the snow, on all fours, snarling and hissing. Armando looked over but he didn’t have time to react. I plowed him over. Alaine tried attacking as we wrestled on the ground but there was no easy tries. She barked something at me in Latin, but I ignored it.
He flung me through the air and Alaine caught me, swinging me in her arms and landing me on my feet. I followed her through another attack as he wheeled toward the open gap in the wall of Guards. Alaine hissed and he turned, it started up again. He crouched and sprang, I didn’t even have time to blink.
He hit me again, and this time I really felt it. I buckled one side of a tree, and a warm liquid spread across my shirt and what was left of my clothes, from my head. The Guard had recollecting themselves and again, like unfeeling statues, surrounded the scene.
I screamed, my voice filling the one moment of silence there was, as another male vampire stood over me, teeth sharp, one of the survivors of Armando’s army.
But when I looked, there was a face buried deep in the one I was staring at, that I knew. But there was so much dizzying beauty that I couldn’t focus. I could feel myself slipping in and out of consciousness. Alec came up and went to hit the vampire near me, trying to protect me, tearing himself away from the others.
“No,” I moaned and he stopped, both vampires facing off against each other. “Protect this one.” I finished dreamily.
“Rose!” Alec said, alarmed now and rested his hands on the sides of my face. The other one was plowed into the ground by someone else and Alec immediately told them to lay off.
The world was spinning, colors were mixing together and noises were sounding as though they were far away. Armando whipped Eleni across the field, over the heads of dying and fighting vampires. I heard the sickening crunch as she collided with Alec and me. He fell somewhere underneath her, and Armando was over me. I lay in the snow, dizzy, confused, as he bent down with a sickening smile. He had a tortuous glitter in his eyes that flared the instinct to run, but I couldn’t feel my legs, under my arm, seeping into the snow, bright red colored the crystals.
I moaned as I saw others shoot across the sky, that was still bright with flamed colors, and I watched as others were abolished. That same vampire I thought I knew, he went along to destroy someone I knew was on his side. But I couldn’t think straight, I drifted once I closed my eyes.
“Rose!” Many voices yelled, I couldn’t separate them.
I was floating in water it felt like, but then as the pain under my hair sharpened, the water pulled me under with dark waves, dragging me down until there was no more light. The darkness stretched on and I lost all feeling in my body, but it was scary, nothing like Charlotte’s gift. Finally, I was completely under, the water’s surface so far above me I knew I had drowned.
Under the water.
That’s where I knew I would stay.
Saint Louis, Missouri
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