Confusion circles my thoughts as I try to understand everything that has occurred. I didn’t understand how I ended up being so lowly treated? Didn’t I belong to these people? Why were they pumping me for information?
I remember how my mother used to tell me how keeping secrets gets you into dangerous situations. She said they were blasphemous details, always cloaked in the shadows in the distance, always catching up with you. Her words had sunken in ever more when I saw them in action: accusations of cheating, of being unfaithful. But, that was long ago and those skeletons in the closet were long ago uncovered – as were my parent’s bodies in the fire.
Swallowing down the guilt, it dragged down my throat. After that moment I fully understood the seriousness of undisclosed information, yet I refused to acknowledge my folly: now I felt it choking me up as I pondered the idea. How could I have been so foolish as to withhold precious facts?
Now is the moment I stop believing in secrets. There was truth and deception, but I didn’t understand why there was also concealment?
Stretching my arms in front of me, the chains rattle. It echoes through the empty room loudly, ricocheting from the bare walls. I don’t feel the sting of the tight metal on my wrists; instead I feel the hollow misery and resentment curdling in my stomach. It was like a brewing stew with various ingredients: a tad of annoyance, detestation, longing to be free and distress.
In the barely lit room I can see the snaking chains tied to the old, battered throne sitting in the corner of the room, the yellowing pillars criss-crossing the room like mismatched jail bars, lichen growing on their stained surfaces and the hard stone floor. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it used to be an old throne room – it looked suitable enough, minus the manacles chained to a girl.
My fingernails were crusted with dried blood as I tried to grapple with the chains, wrenching at them before they cut into my wrists. I could even taste blood in my mouth – it was everywhere. It felt as if my whole body were inverted and the blood ran outside.
“Dammit,” I cursed, biting back tears.
With the chains not allowing me much leverage, I crawled back toward the throne and sat on it – it was far too ironic for my tastes: “The Princess has finally returned and been put on her throne,” they kept mocking me with. I rip another flimsy strip of material from my T-shirt and wrap it clumsily around my wrist, wincing as it tightened.
Just as I returned to trying to pick the lock of the chains with a hairpin unsuccessfully, voices were heard from behind the double wooden doors. “Princess won’t talk,” one sneered. “You would think she’d give them up instantly, knowing she belongs to us.”
“You’re getting your hopes up. The leeches have brain-washed her before we could find Princess,” she huffs.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she let them bite her! Those bloodsucking parasites,” the man half-screams. I could imagine him clenching his fists tightly, a muscle twitching in his jaw.
This was the man and woman which chained me up and have visited me every day since, the two Venetian masks they constantly wear haunting my few dreams – it’s hard to sleep while chained tightly in a sitting position as a torture method. They stop outside the door and my fingertips press into my skin hard, ready for this familiar routine.
“Get in there,” one growls, pushing something large against the door.
A wedge of light reflects against the floor as a small woman walks inside, a team of servants behind her. With their eyes cast down, all dressed similarly – in white linen robes and brown sandals – they walk toward me. The only one that repeats this visit everyday looks at me with brief sad eyes before I tense up, waiting for the tipping of a bucket of freezing cold water over my head. The chains rattle as I struggle to hug in any immediate warmth, but I don’t need to. Hot water scolds my skin until it’s painfully red, but it’s good pain. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life – its warmth seeping into my bones like oil lubricating weathered mechanical gears.
“Sorry miss,” she replies to my choked tears in a thin whisper.
They work around my chains, washing and scrubbing away the dirt from my body, feeding me a watery porridge – I’m so used to its vile taste now that I just swallow it down – and holding a small bowl of water to my parched lips.
After finishing, they scamper away and out the door leaving me with the two masked figures. Through the open eye sockets in the masks I could see stern, bloodshot eyes – muscles in their jaws twitching nonchalantly.
Something paralyzes the fear that races across my skin as my hours of torture come toward me dressed as angels with obscuring masks. It holds out its hand to stroke my cheek, lips pulled back in a sweet grimace as if their suffering from my lack of screaming. Its breath washes over my face in a cool fog, the smell sticks to my skin until I feel sickly. He leans close and whispers in my ear, “Time to see the light, Princess,” he purrs.
“You’re a bad liar,” I croak, trying to swallow down the lump of hope that crowds the open space in my throat. It’s so bad that I can hardly breathe, my lungs screaming for air.
“Underestimating us, Princess?” The female asks coolly, the pale lips visible through the mask a tight line of egotism.
The water still clinging to my skin drips to the floor, each one falling with a light musical chime. It echo’s off the hollow walls that encase my blood-curdling screams and plea’s of surrender. “Don’t I have reason to,” I ask coldly. “You kidnapped me.”
“You should be thanking us,” he grasps my cheeks tightly between his thumb and forefinger until it feels like he’s grasping the bone underneath. “We saved you.”
Pain flourishes in my jaw-line until it feels like it’s going to split in half under the pressure. However not before his vice-like grip is released, a hiss dissipating into the air as his cold fingers leave my flamed skin. I have to bite my tongue to make sure my scream is locked tightly behind my teeth.
“Teach her a lesson, Greg,” she sneers, taking a black leather glove off her hand slowly revealing long, spindly fingers. It looked like they were dripping blood from the fingertips. “Princess here should know what she’s been dealing with.”
“Good idea, Minerva. Help me.”
It was a change from always being so cold – the chill of the abandoned throne room, the way my blood used to freeze over like ice and the frosty temperature that swarmed my masked capturers – yet now the warmth I felt iced over, feeling like icicles were protruding from my skin. The chains tightened around me, my breath whooshing out my lungs as I felt it digging into my chest, stabbing into my ribcage like a branding iron. Blood flooded my entire body as if it had broken throughout its constricted pathways of veins. My heart sang in sync to the pounding in my ears – throbbing enough that it masked the chaste heat that spread from my fingertips and toes. Then it was gone. I was nothingness.
Was I dead? If I was, it wasn’t anything that I had imagined. Rather, my body felt light as if I was drifting to the ground like a feather, my heart slowly following behind me. The impact hit my back first, my spine curling at the pain – it was red-hot and searing, almost like a whip across my skin. Cries of agony weighed me to the floor as I struggled to rise. Red was all I saw, the bright white of death retreating. I mourned for it: if torture was all I was to live for, I’d rather slip away quickly. The Fates planned otherwise.
My body jerked awake and my back arched off the floor like I was having been pulled up forcefully from being submerged in water. Blood poured from between my lips as I struggled to cough it up. I was caught in middle of choking and retching up.
“Get up, Princess. It’s time to visit your subjects,” Minerva giggles, it’s as humorless as the depth in her eyes. The tip of her boot connects with my stomach, fracturing a rib and I grasp it with trembling fingers. If only I could clench the skin in my fists and not the fabric of my T-shirt, then the pain would dull. “Stand up,” she screams, breaking through my haze of pain. Through slitted eyes I can see the lethal whip curling around her fingers, blood leaking against the pale skin of her arm – it made my stomach turn in disgust.
I shuffle to the throne, grasping the chains to pull me up. The unused bones in my legs grind together like gnarled roots so I’m swaying violently. I dig my fingers into the concrete in-between the bricks to steady me, feeling it scrap away the skin leaving raw flesh.
“Come along.” Greg pulls me along by the wrist, Minerva joining in. Without balance I fall, the balls of my feet scrapping across the floor – stones and sharp objects cutting into my heel.
As the winding lit passageways are dragged away from me, we descend into the depth of the darkness in the labyrinth of stonewalls. Cool-to-the-touch white walls give to others with shrouded shadows latching to its surface like a muddy puddle, flame torches hanging on the wall.
Greg reaches for it and it detaches from the wall, a grinding noise of metal against brick: I try unsuccessfully to jam my fists into my ears. The pain in my back was just a white-hot ache, the rushing blood loss causing me to lose consciousness a few times. I could even feel the blood spilling over my skin, seeping into my T-shirt like a poorly wrapped band-aid and dripping down to my ankles.
I watched through narrowed eyes – tears building behind my lids and threatening to spill over – as we passed through door, after door. I clench the pain behind my gritted teeth and my muscles are tensed tightly as white hot pain jolts through my lucid limbs once again.
Finally, I was pulled through a door – the wood shuddering violently and the metal bolt drawn with quick fingers – and we climb into the towering shadows of stacks of old barrels of malting wine. The thick syrupy taste sticks to the roof of my mouth, causing me to lick my lips in desperation for more water.
“You see,” Greg drawls on, the story brewing between his lips. Miranda twitches expectantly. “This place is a wine cellar and it hasn’t been touched for centuries. The only time it was used was during the Great War’s, but that’s another story. Just like the one where you were sitting was the once great throne of the traitor King.”
Greg continues to recite the story of the wine cellar, myself paying very little attention to his words. It slips in one ear, and out the other. I didn’t have the strength to process the information. It wasn’t until the pressure on my elbows subsided and I found we had stopped that my mind became once again active.
“And this,” Miranda gestures to a small doorway. “Is where we stop.”
I don’t have time to question their command as the door is thrown open, myself thrusted inside so sharply my shoulder blade catches on the door frame. My hair sticks to the back of my neck as something hot trickles down my spine. Inside there is only a ladder up to a trap door – an escape route? Miranda pokes my back with something sharp and I yelp. “Up you go, Princess,” she coos.
“What is up there?” I ask. “You wouldn’t let me go.”
“Get up there!” Greg stabs the pointy object until it jabs into my skin, drawing blood and without waiting to be prodded any further, I climb the ladders on shaky legs. I even manage to slip a few times and I feel their dagger glares at the base of my skull.
Managing to unbolt the trap door with trembling fingers and push it open, I thrust myself into the open space quickly avoiding the sharp jabs of the metal poker. The sounds hit me first: the terrible moans of hunger, the scraping of flesh away from fingertips against the chain-link fence and my own screams of horror.
The small space was lit by only a few torches but I could see their faces clearly – their black, hungry eyes, hair lying limp against their scalp and hands and mouths eagerly reaching for any inch of my skin; wanting to rip, cut and bite with their teeth. Raw, undeniable thirst radiated in the air like some sort of pollution.
I was separated from them only by a small square of metal chain-link fence. I was standing so close to them, without falling back down the trap door, that I could feel their fingertips grazing through my lank hair.
Yet the terror didn’t only just come from seeing these Vampires’s grappling to peal the flesh off my bones like free meat, but their faces were so familiar, yet distant – I could see them through a haze; so human and innocent in life and then before me seeing them in death. It made horror choke in my throat and the tears spilled down my cheeks, leaving silvery trails.
As fast as possible, I tried to climb down the ladders once more but I met the hot, stinging pain of the poker against my foot. I screamed and batted my fists against the floor for them to let me out, but they just kept laughing at me. It was manic and frightening.
“Let me out! Please…” I begged. Were they just going to leave me here? Let them eventually bite me, transform me into a monster?
I huddled up into a tight ball, rocking back and forth to the rhythmic laughter of Greg and Miranda at my terror. I had trusted Carlisle; yet he was still one of these blood-sucking parasites – the people I feel I must have once knew: in another lifetime perhaps? How could he have lied, especially when something pulled beneath my surface when he told me his story and I knew it to be the truth? The repulsion and disgust crawled over my skin, opening old wounds I never knew I owned as I just gave into the blood-curdling moans. Letting them take over me.
“Miranda! Greg! What are you doing, you fools? Release her!” The voice was sharp, commanding and distinctly male. It rang in my ears, temporarily releasing me from the perpetual cries of thirst.
“We were only showing Princess our home,” Miranda whimpered. I could imagine her pouting her bottom lip in emphasis and I struggled to hold back my weak laughter.
“You could have killed her!”
All I am aware of is strong arms pulling me down into the dark hole, dragging me down the ladders. I felt warmth press against my chest and I huddle toward it – trying to stifle my trembling with the stable heat source before it disappeared. To the side of my head, I am aware of Miranda and Greg being herded away by another male and then a small woman standing with her head down, hands clasped – it’s the maid that visits me every day, and she’s smiling at me!
“Girl, go get Mother and tell her what you told me.” She bows so low to the ground I fear she may fall, but before I can protest she scuttles away. Then the voice washes over me, “Don’t worry Mary-Lynette, you’ll be safe soon, I promise.” Then I was carried away and I felt myself drift off to sleep.
It felt like hours before my heavy lids were capable of lifting. Pain jabbed in every inch of my body but I pushed it away: I was in a small, light room with white washed walls and next to me was a glass of water. Instantly I reached over and drained its contents – although stale, it released my throat from its parched stronghold for a while. Scanning the room with curious eyes, I found someone asleep on a chair in the corner. Brown hair was swooped over his closed eyes, his breathing deep and regular. Something simmered underneath my skin – familiarity was it? This time I knew I had seen him from somewhere. When I was younger? The youthfulness in me told myself that my acquaintance with him was only brief?
“Awake, are we?” he asked sleepily, as if responding to my drifting thoughts. I looked toward the glass of empty water, a deep blush crossing my bruised cheeks as I think of this boy watching me sleep. He follows my gaze, “Do you want another drink, Mary-Lynette?”
Opening the door quietly, he calls someone – a servant – who comes back with a pitcher of ice-cold water. My lips suddenly feel dry and cracked as he pours it into the glass, which I instantly throw down.
“Thank you,” I croak. “But how do you know my name?”
“Everyone knows your name, Princess,” he laughs. The sound of the nickname my parents gave me on his tongue sends shivers down my spine.
“How exactly?” I question, determination lacing my voice.
He moves as quickly as a cobra and sits on the corner of my bed. A muscle twitches in his jaw, “They have been waiting for you to come home.”
I grip my fists, my bruised knuckles crusted in dried blood. Even my nails have blood in them. The idea of it makes me sick to the stomach – the Vampire’s I had saw, they wanted this. The blood. I shake the thought away. “They kidnapped me.”
The boy is silent and my heart flutters at the fear of everything being so quiet.
“Who is the Mother you spoke of when you saved me?” I asked; my brave voice leveled to a thin whisper as blood pounds in my ears as I shift to a more comfortable position on the bed.
“The Mother controls the Coven. She is the only one who can control Greg and Miranda, so their punishment is in her favor,” he responds, rubbing the flat of his hand over where my leg is under the covers.
It makes the hair stand up on my arms, feeling his contact even through the bed-covers. “Where is she? I want her to demand I leave,” I start to get up but his forceful hand pushes me back down. I bite back a scream of frustration and one of immediate pain.
“Don’t be foolish, Princess,” he grinds his teeth tightly together. “She would only demand the same information off you that Greg and Miranda were trying to get.”
“I won’t tell her,” I reply stubbornly, crossing my arms over my chest.
He chuckles – it’s light-hearted, sparking that familiarity again. The idea of me knowing him is driving me wild with desire to know. “You radiate stubbornness, even in the way your chin is set.”
My curiosity gave in before I knew it. “Do I know you from anywhere?”
The boy tenses everywhere – even the way he sits becomes rigid. The soothing motion of hand over my leg stills and a cold sweat drips down my back. His eyes are deep, yet filled with so much conflicting emotion they are almost unreadable. He curses under his breath: “Darn you people; why couldn’t you have not remembered me?”
“Remember what?” Anger boils underneath my skin like searing hot lava. The silence continues, lengthening like the shadows that creep across the floor as the sun sets – had I really slept that long? “Tell me!” I shout at this motionless figure.
A deep mournful sigh escapes his lips and his eyes never reach up from the tiled flooring. “Do you remember your family very much? Since the fire, of course.” The last sentence hung in the air like an unanswered question.
I was going to ask how he knew about that, but my patience was already pulled as taut as a wire. “Of course I can, why would you ask such a thing?”
“Can you remember a boy they adopted, but he ran away after an accident?”
The memory tugs at the back of my mind, being dragged forward. Then I suddenly remember: a young boy with tanned skin, dark brown hair and the most sincere eyes she had ever seen. Her parents had adopted him into the family when she was rather young, but she still remembered everything. But before she could react a low, predatory growl echoed in the room.
It bounced off the walls.
There on the floor sat a jet-black panther, its jewel green eyes set on me – I scream so loud my throat aches. I fist the bed sheets into my hands, pulling them up around me as if it could protect me from the panther. But the animal only looks at me with sad eyes and then the screams just cut off.
Tears spill over without thinking. “Daniel? Is that really you?”
To be continued.
1. What will Mary-Lynette think of having Daniel back?
2. What is Daniel doing there?
3. Who is the “Mother” and why does she want Mary-Lynette?
4. Why are the Vampire’s being held in the room?
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