“A Wheel that turns according to a Law.
The Cause-Effect and the Compensation.
The Beginning of a New Tide.
The Awakening of a New Storm.”
- The Prophet of Truth
Alexis couldn’t help cringe at the sound of the door closing and the following click of the lock didn’t go unnoticed.
A sigh left his lips as he took a hand to his constantly burning cheek in an almost reflexive gesture.
What am I doing?
In wide footsteps he went back to his watching post by the window.
No more than twenty-four hours ago he’d had everything planned. He’d get some rest, enough to recover his strength, he’d make his last arrangements and give the house and everything inside it to the nice lady that had worked for him for the last eight years. And, as soon as the sun set, he’d finally put an end to the suffering that had accompanied him for decades, and to which some stubbornly called life.
Everything had failed, right from the start.
Rest hadn’t come, no matter how much he insisted in lying down. Inexplicably, his mind had remained filled with her … With her scent. With her warmth. With the soft touch of her hair. The weight of her body as he’d carried her in his arms. The way her head had rested against his chest when he’d taken her from that infernal place. Sarah occupied his thoughts so completely that the sensorial overload had almost driven him mad; which he’d been trying very hard to avoid for the last few years.
And so he’d decided to look for her. He had to see her one last time and somehow demystify the unrealistic image his feverish, crazed mind had created of the woman who’d saved him from that torture.
He’d found her in that restaurant … with that insignificant, arrogant man.
His body shuddered violently, reacting to that memory. He still couldn’t quite understand how he’d been able to resist the murderous impulse that had demanded he tear that imbecile to shreds. And yet that feeling of deep aversion towards a mere Human was another proof that something was terribly wrong with him. No matter how hard he tried to tell himself that he had nothing to do with her, he’d hardly been able to just watch from the sidelines.
Then the others had arrived.
At first Alexis had thought that, in an uncharacteristic mistake, he’d been careless, somehow leaving behind a trail that could be followed. But after a few minutes of inactivity he’d started to suspect that he wasn’t their main target. Patiently waiting for a more advantageous opportunity was hardly their style, unless there was the need to avoid possible witnesses. And, in that restaurant, there had only been one Human able to call them there. All because he’d established a direct contact with her. Or more plainly, because he’d broken the Lex Regis and stolen part of her, inevitably leaving part of him within her.
He’d told himself he wouldn’t get involved in yet another mess. That he’d already seen her, as planned, and would now follow through with his initial intentions. However, against all possible arguments, he just hadn’t been able to simply leave her behind.
He’d been watching her from afar when she left the restaurant; her nervous, hurried steps making her look even frailer. He’d seen her get into the car and waited to see her drive away, but nothing had happened. Impatience had burned in his stomach when he realized she was just sitting there, completely paralyzed, allowing the enemy to get closer and closer. Even so he’d told himself that he wouldn’t interfere. She’d end up reacting! Most people were able to instinctively feel that kind of danger from afar. Surly the survival instinct, common to all animal species, added to her extra-sensory sensitivity wouldn’t make her an exception. And yet, no matter how closer the hunter got to its prey, she seemed unable to move, to the point that his impatience turned into annoyance, leaving him unable to just keep watching without intervening, like the rules dictated he should. He’d used the fact that he still owed her from saving him from that damn lab as an excuse for his actions, and had ended up swearing to protect her.
I must be truly out of my mind if I’m starting to think that I owe them anything, instead of the other way around! He grunted to himself and his gaze fell once more on the bathroom door, too aware of the woman hiding behind that frail piece of wood. And now she’s so afraid of me that she’d probably stab me in the back, if given the opportunity. I’m sure she regrets more than words can tell having ever decided to help me.
He took another deep breath and was once more annoyed with how depressed that thought apparently made him. Of course she was afraid of him, who in his right mind wouldn’t be? It was good that she was afraid, since there were more than a few reasons to justify her fear. And sure he’d saved her from a slow, painful death at the hands of the shadowy figure that had awaited her by the restaurant door. But who would save her from him?
It’s past time we put an end to this mess!, he told himself as he watched the dark figures, even darker than the night itself, closing in, surrounding his front door.
He’d fulfill his promise and protect her, and that would be the last time he laid eyes on her, that he interfered with her life. Should she be hunted again well, that had nothing to do with him. And one less Human Being in the planet could only be a good thing. Her death was nothing compared to the consequences of his continuous interference, and he knew he wouldn’t be the only one having to pay for them. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, drag anyone else into his mess, just because he felt somehow strangely attracted to that woman.
Leaving the curtain behind, Alexis stepped back until he stood in the middle of the small, stuffy bedroom, making sure he’d have enough space to freely move in any direction. Not that there was all that much space to move, but that limitation would be true for his unwanted guests as well. He took off his leather jacket, throwing it on the bed, and rolled the sleeves of his white shirt up.
Once more his mind turned to her, just to make sure she was really there, hidden in the small bathroom at his back. She seemed calmer now, but the fragments of thoughts he could capture were all still about how to escape, in a desperate search for a solution that could get her out of the frightening situation she suddenly had found herself in.
She’ll be lucky enough to leave this place alive. Which couldn’t be said about himself. His life was an authentic living hell and his still aching body had more than enough scars and wounds to prove it.
The front door was suddenly thrown hard against the wall, which left a heavy sigh on his lips. Sure that was the only way in, he’d made sure of that the first time he’d decided to make a stand in that run-down motel, a few years back. Controlling one’s environment was essential, when dealing with that treacherous bunch. He could hardly expect any kind of honor or one-on-one combats from them. But really, they could spare him the cheap intimidation techniques, like doors opening all by themselves, and lights suddenly going off.
The man that appeared at the doorway was followed by two others, and his maddened expression immediately told him that that night wouldn’t be over without some spilled blood.
“Cedrius.” Alexis recognized him. In truth it had been quite some time since he'd last seen him, and the physical differences were frightening. He remembered he had been a tall, well built man, with black hair and gray eyes. Now he looked more like an old man, and he could have almost sworn he was really in front of one, if not for the absence of wrinkles marking his strangely young skin. His back was bent and broken, as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, the face too thin, the hair now white. Even his eyes had lost their color making him look blind. “What are you doing here? Last time I heard you were somewhere in Europe.”
“And last time I heard that was none of your business, Sheqer!” Sheqer …… A light smile of sardonic amusement touched his lips. That was the worst offense that could be directed to someone like him. And, in truth, in his youth, that would have been enough to make him jump at that poor bastard’s neck. However, even offenses like that had lost their importance, after hearing them a few too many times.
“Right. On a second thought, I don’t really care. What I want to know is what made you contemplate the absurd idea of invading a territory that I clearly marked as mine. Unless you’re feeling terribly bored with your pathetic existence and have come to ask me to be kind enough and end it for you,” he calmly declared, brushing back the dark bangs that had fallen over his forehead with his fingers, trying to show that he wasn’t the slightest bit intimidated.
Cedrius’ companions took a step back, changing apprehensive glances. It was clear that they had much more self-control than their leader.
Alexis noticed the growing shadows, slowly stretching over the floor and walls of the small room and couldn’t help the excitement that that silent challenge brought him. The constant itching feeling pricking the palm of his hands and the pulsing blood coursing through his body demanded action, and it took all his self-restrain to keep his distant and uninterested appearance.
“You stole our prey, Sheqer!”
“Not really, since it was my essence you guys were following, and not hers,” he replied in the same light and unfazed tone.
“A Human? Does Aaran know you’re protecting her?” The despise with which he spat that name … better yet, the fact that he’d dared utter it, completely murdered his good humor, and a red fog started to pile up at the corner of his vision, telling him he was about to lose the frail self-control he still managed to maintain.
“That … wasn’t wise at all,” he roared, trying to keep the voice of his thoughts speaking louder than his raging emotions, and Cedrius smiled in a mad-like expression.
“You and I … No difference at all,” he declared taking a step forward, his body language screaming he was ready to attack at any moment. Alexis watched him intently, focusing on his every move. By the corner of his eyes he saw that Cedrius’ companions were also getting into the room, and he was certain that there were more, waiting outside. Havoc had been right. It would take him more than a month to put that motel back in working order.
“About that, we’ll see.”