“Courage!, to face the abysm that opens beneath the Warrior’s feet.
Dominion!, of the Strength that comes from Heart and Soul.
Faith!, in those that walk the same Path in search of the Light.
The Waning Moon in the Sky.”
- The Prophet of Truth
The first thing she became aware of was that she was still breathing. And, immediately, the world around her gained consistency in a mix of confusing sounds that left her head aching painfully. Hard … cold … pain … Sensations reached her one after the other as her mind became clearer and more alert. She was lying somewhere, in a terribly uncomfortable position, and nearby a voice kept persistently shouting in despair.
“Can you hear me?! This isn’t what we agreed on! I brought her here, didn’t I? What’s the meaning of this?”
Selena forced her eyes open and the shadowy world that surrounded her spun sickeningly. Her stomach seemed to turn upside down and, without a thought, she braced both hands against the hard surface beneath her, pushing herself up with all her strength, gasping for air.
The surface her hands touched was made of cement, hard and harsh. And she couldn’t remember ever having felt as miserable and sick as she felt now.
She only identified the urgent sound of footsteps when they were already too close, making it impossible for her to escape, even when she weakly tried to avoid the person leaning over her.
“You’re finally awake! Move!” ordered the same shaky voice that had been shouting nonstop since she’d woken up. The hand that grabbed her by her hair didn’t even allow her enough time to breathe in the necessary air to scream, and her hands fought blindly against the strength of that prison. “Stop it! Come here!” Someone pulled her up, and she instinctively took advantage of being helped to her feet to violently kick the one holding her, as she scratched blindly, trying to get free.
A growl of pain and a curse anticipated the slap that burned across her right cheek, leaving her dizzy and with her ears ringing. Pain only reached her a few moments later, and the taste of blood that filled her mouth finally granted her the impulse she needed to scream. The man holding her, however, ignored her completely, dragging her by her hair, forcing her to stand and walk. Dizzy and sick from the drugs still coursing through her veins, strength failed her constantly, and she stumbled and fell more than once, scratching her hands and knees, as he kept pulling her, forcing her to move.
“Annoying, impertinent brat! This is all your fault!”
When he finally stopped tears streamed down her face and the world was still spinning out of focus, constantly undulating, floating and unfolding around her, devoid of constant volume or consistency.
Pain made her clench her teeth, so she wouldn’t scream again, and she tried as hard as she could to stand on her own, to avoid the pain that the hand pulling her by her hair brought her every time she fell. Her face was shoved between two cold, metallic bars, and Selena held on to them, forcing herself to control her breathing.
“Can you hear me? Is anyone there? I’ve brought her as agreed!! Where’s Farran? I demand to talk with him!”
Feeling more centered, although her heart still felt like it was about to explode at any moment, Selena tried to focus her vision. Sure the bars he kept pressing her against were hurting her, but at least she was no longer being dragged who knows where …
“Is anyone there?! Can’t you hear me? I’ve brought Selena Wilson! I demand to talk with Farran!”
Bit by bit the man that had merciless dragged her there began to gain form and shape, and she immediately recognized him. John Donovan’s face was an authentic mask of anger and fear, and the hand holding her by her hair shook furiously, telling her that fear was on the winning side.
“What’s with all the noise …?” The bored sigh that reached her ears left her frozen inside and holding her breath. Without even daring to move, Selena averted her gaze towards the man that had suddenly appeared on the other side of the bars.
He was tall, with wide, strong shoulders, black hair and a young, well proportionate face. But what made her heart beat like crazy was the inhuman crimson glow of his eyes …
“Finally! Where’s Farran? There’s been a mistake! I’m not supposed to be in here!” John insisted with plain, open hostility, and Selena was sure her heart had stopped for a split second.
My God! He has no idea of whom he’s talking to …! she realized, suddenly swallowed by an uncontrollable sensation of terror, that became even more palpable when the man on the other side of the bars seemed willing to pay them attention, approaching them in a slow, relaxed stride.
“No. If anyone is wrong is you, Human scum! And yes, there’s probably been a mistake. Because miserable rats like you two are still alive!” he spat with despise and John frowned, indignant.
“You insolent brat! Do you have any idea of whom you’re talking to?” he demanded, all haughty, and Selena swallowed hard, her throat burning. Her mouth was dry like parchment and her tongue felt swollen, which made it hard for her to speak.
“John … please …”
The hand still holding her pulled her head back and shoved her against the bars again, forcing her to clench her teeth so she wouldn’t scream.
“Be quiet!” he shouted and Selena tried to breathe between her clench teeth, bearing the pain echoing in her brain. “I demand that you set me free!” he ordered again and she closed her eyes as the man on the other side closed in on them, his eyes ablaze.
She just stood there, as quiet as possible, wishing she could go unnoticed, but her hopes were quickly thwarted, when cold, long fingers grabbed her by the neck and that demonically beautiful face loomed right there, in front of her. John screamed, surprised, immediately jumping back, finally releasing her, but even so she didn’t dare move. The fingers now holding her in place were strong, and although he wasn’t particularly squeezing her, the strength of his grip was enough to cut off her air supply. The warm breath that washed over her face made her squeeze her eyes shut, as she fought the panic instinct that made her shiver uncontrollably, instigating her to flee, even though she knew she’d never make it. A knot squeezed her throat when he licked her chin and the corner of her mouth, the burning sensation she felt in the places his moist tongue touched her telling her that he was licking her where her skin had been broken.
“Who … what are you …?”
John’s shaky voice made him raise his head and the fingers holding her by the neck squeezed just enough to stop her from breathing.
“Really! This is just ridiculous. Farran’s orders be damned. Besides, once dead no one will be able to bring you back to life,“ the acid voice replied and she was suddenly freed from his iron grip.
Selena immediately backed away, panicking, stumbling on her own feet; and yet there he was again, this time inside the small compartment with them, even though the barred door remained closed. The fear that devoured her made her look around, in search of something that might be used as a weapon, but the next thing she knew he was on top of her again, his hand wrapped around her neck as he forced her to walk backwards until she hit the wall in the back.
John was screaming again, this time in terror, and by the corner of her eye she saw him escape to the opposite side, his shaking legs forcing him to squat down as he sobbed uncontrollably.
The emptiness that filled her left her on the verge of despair. He wasn’t going to help her! He’d brought her there! He’d called that monster! And now he was just going to crouch there, in a corner, with his head buried between his arms, wishing the monster would be satisfied with only her, at least enough to forget his miserable existence!
Forcing the air to slide down her compressed throat, Selena tried to focus on the beautiful, perfect face smiling cruelly at her.
“Aren’t you going to scream? Or try to escape?” he asked in a soft, lewd voice. What for? “You’re no fun at all, are you? Although the taste of fear in your blood will probably be enough to please me. Fear has always a special taste … And having two Humans at my disposal isn’t all that bad as a reward for my endurance and abstinence,” he purred, grabbing her left hand, forcing her to open her crisped fingers.
Panicking, Selena still tried to oppose his strength, which almost resulted in broken fingers, and with a knot in her stomach, she watched powerless as he licked the bloody palm of her hand. His teeth scraped against her scratched skin, making the bleeding cuts even deeper. Pain hammered at her chest and her breath caught on her throat as he pressed her hard against the cold wall, making her stand on the tips of her toes. And the complete expression of rupture that marked his young, maddened face told her beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was far from being through with her.
A scream of pain and disbelief tore her chest when he actually bit her, his teeth breaking her skin, digging into her flesh. And, unable to think coherently, she tried to push him away with her other hand. In the back John’s moaning became even more audible and the agony that filled her inside left her on the verge of madness.
The shout that echoed all around her left her ears ringing and she was suddenly falling on the floor.
She needed a few moments to realize that he’d let her go, that the monster that had attacked her was back on the other side of the bars, and that a thin, bent man with white hair seemed to be reprimanding him. Yet, as he looked her way, his eyes were as crimson as the ones from his younger companion, and Selena instinctively backed away against the wall, cringing into a ball as she hid her injured hand against her chest. And yet, moments later, they had both disappeared amongst the shadows, and the silence that surrounded her was only disturbed by John’s nervous sobbing.
Not daring to move again, but forcing herself to remain calm, she tried to get a better feeling of the situation, at least as far as her muddled brain would allow her. There were no windows in there, and the stairs on the other side of the bars told her that they were probably underground. The compartment was small, the ceiling covered by a vast net of pipes, the floor dirty and rough like sandpaper. Somewhere on the wall at her right was a metallic box, probably protecting an electrical board, and at the moment the only source of light they had came from a single lamp hanging from the ceiling, on the other side of the bars.
Selena allowed her eyes to close and took a deep breath. She was safe, for now, she thought, although she’d be much safer if she could somehow cover her wound. The important thing was not to despair. She had to be strong, to remain rational, and, for the time being, to go as unnoticed as possible … which wouldn’t be all that hard, if the idiot crouching in the corner, uninterruptedly sobbing, would just keep his mouth shut!
On the other hand the drug he’d used to knock her out still circled in her blood, stealing the strength of her legs and making her feel sick and dizzy. And so, all she could do was wait. Wait for her body to grow stronger. And wait for the rest of the pieces to make their move.