Hello, for the last time. I lied before; this is the last chapter. I thought I was going to do something else, but this is how it worked out, my original ending before I started fiddling with it to drag this out. Anywho, I'm sorry for the wait, but ... it's the last chapter, right?
And because it's the last, we now start with the revisions ... I'll be sending the revised chapters off to at least one of my betas, so ... they will be updated all at once. I'll make a note of this on my profile (the date I'm updating it all), so if you want the improved version (which may have plot changes in it), check every once in a while.
To conclude this author's note, I just want to thank my betas for all the time they've spent helping me with this; it wouldn't be nearly as good if not for you guys! One last shout out to Shane (WyrdWolf) and Alex (Empathic Life)! Visit their profiles! Do it! Right after you read and review this chapter!
One last thing before you read this final chapter ... I promised Alex I would dedicate the story to her for her birthday. So, right now, I want to write my (very late) dedication.
To Alex; for being a friend, being an editor, and being mine.
I hope you've enjoyed the story. So ... without further delay, here's chapter 20! Enjoy!
Chapter Twenty; The End is Only the Beginning
A strangled cry left my lips as I ran at Felixia.
I swung my staff at her as I sent flames running along its length. Felixia ducked, aiming her own staff at my legs. A quick maneuver on my part blocked her blow and set her staff on fire, rendering her weaponless.
With a low growl, Felixia kicked at my wrist, effectively getting me to drop my staff. Before I could pick it up, she had kicked it across the room.
Bringing my hands up to shield my body, I kicked her in the chest with a roundhouse. With a scream of pain, Felixia rapidly punched at my arms, face, and upper body. I staggered back, stunned from the blows as she jumped at me with a perfectly executed flying side kick. I dropped to the ground just in time, Felixia flying over my head and just barely touching my hair.
Smoothing down my hair as I stood, I focused on my hands and grew claws from my fingertips. I reached down and slit the sides of my dress for a better range of motion. I looked up and Felixia was staring at me, lust in her eyes.
"That dress makes you look so . . ." she started, before shaking her head and continuing with a sneer, "You look hot in that dress . . . shall I help you cut more off?"
Felixia motioned at Bronwen, who started an incantation, causing a short sword appeared in Felixia's hand.
"Not what I am used to working with, but I think I can make it work for you, Zora," she said with a smirk, moving the blade in small circles to warm up.
I frowned and asked, "What do you mean, Felixia?"
Instead of answering my question, Felixia delicately cut into the fabric of my dress, using just enough force that I was soon covered in shallow cuts that bled through the rips in my dress, staining it a darker red. I hissed in pain and anger, trying to follow her movements with my eyes, but not able to concentrate because she kept cutting me.
My laugh was cold and humorless as I said, "Two can play at this game, love."
With a sweep of my hand, a strong gust of wind roared through the center, pushing Felixia back until she was pressed against the staircase from the sheer force of the wind I had conjured.
Still blowing wind at Felixia to keep her immobile, I moved closer. A sudden shout from Braeden distracted me long enough that Felixia was able to scramble up the steps.
Turning, I sought Braeden with my eyes. I found him warding off attack after attack from Brett. I sent a few lightning bolts at Brett, causing him to lose his focus. Braeden took the opportunity to get a few good hits in and looked over at me, smiling and giving me a wink.
I assumed my love would be fine, so I raced up the stairs to where Felixia was leaning against one of the weight training systems. She smirked at me and I wondered what she was so happy about until a sharp pain in my back told me that I had walked straight into a trap. I twisted around and faced Bronwen as Felixia moved forward and stood next to her.
Scowling, I asked, "So now you two are going to team up against me?" indicated the bloody knife in Bronwen's hand.
Laughing harshly, Bronwen answered, "Do not be silly! I am not going to waste my energy this early in the game. I will just leave you two to finish this," then she walked back to her perch on the stair banister where she could watch both Braeden and I battle for our lives.
Felixia and I wove between the equipment, aiming blows at the other and blocking the other's attacks in a graceful parody of a dance.
Eventually, I cornered her and conjured up another wind to keep her in place as I summoned my staff. It flew into my hands and I sent flames running down it once again. Felixia noticeably flinched when I lifted her chin with the flat end of the staff. Looking into her eyes, I said only word.
Turning her gaze away from me, Felixia quietly admitted, "I am not quite sure. After everything that has happened, I did not know where to turn. You were the first friend I have had in quite a while. With you and your companions, I felt safe.
"All of my old friends left after I revealed what my mate was. Even though I knew that you and Braeden were vampires, I could not bring myself to tell you. I did try, though. That day in the woods, I was going to tell you, but we got interrupted, and I could never find the courage to tell anyone afterward."
"But you must have known that lakia and werewolves are bitter enemies to the end! How could you just let Cif walk to his death, if you could have told us?" I exploded angrily.
Felixia timidly moved closer to me. She was able to because my concentration had broken and she was no longer being held back by the wind.
Felixia put an arm around me to comfort me. With a low growl, I twisted out of her grip and slammed the length of my staff across her midsection. The breath knocked out of her, Felixia collapsed to the floor. I picked her up with a strength I did not know I possessed and carried her to the back of the gym area where a wall of clear glass replaced the stone of the rest of the center.
With an inhuman scream, I hurled her through the glass pane of the window in a furious act of defenestration. Felixia's scream of terror brought me back to sanity and I leaned out of the broken window, reaching an arm out for her much too late, as she hit the ground with a sickening thud, and did not move. To my horror, I had killed my once-friend.
Mayhem, October 19 (11 months and 29 days)
I expected to feel absolutely horrible for killing Felixia, but I only felt a hollow sense of justice. She had withheld information that led to Cif's, and indirectly Jode's, deaths. Even though she had not delivered the killing strike, it may as well have been her hand that killed him. This is the last part of my revenge for both of their deaths. May the spirits of Jode Griffen and Lucifer Incivo rest in peace, forever more . . .
I pulled myself back through the window, not even trying to avoid the sharpness around the edge of the hole. Feeling a little numb, I looked over at Bronwen, who was staring down with a look of malicious glee in her eyes. Knowing that Bronwen took pleasure from the pain of others, I raced to the railing overlooking the first floor.
Looking down, I saw Braeden curled into a ball on the floor and Brett hitting him again and again with a staff. Braeden seemed to be hurt badly, as he was not moving to deflect the blows.
With a scream of rage as my fury let the blood power control me, I leaped over the short railing and dropped to the floor below. Brett looked up in surprise as I landed hard on my feet. Twirling my staff, I conjured a wind laced with fire and sent it directly at Brett's stunned figure.
The wind blew him back until he was against a wall, then the flames ate at his clothes and flesh. I let the flames burn out, but kept the wind making him immobile.
Smirking evilly, I stepped closer to Brett, inspecting the mostly unclothed body that was covered with small burns and patches of wind whipped sores. Of course, not all of Brett's injuries were from me. I know that wind and flame cannot produce nicks and cuts on skin, nor could it cause the missing finger on his right hand or the many bruises and welts that faintly held the impression of Braeden's sword.
Pressing my thumb against one of the burn spots on his face, I told Brett, "Stay here or you will be in more trouble than you can handle." He hissed in pain, and I knew I had gotten my point across.
I jogged back to where Braeden was lying prone on the floor. Quickly checking his heart rate and breathing, and finding him alive and stable, I let out a sigh of relief. A quick check over of my love showed minimal injuries: scrapes, bruises, and cuts, a few welts, and an unsightly gash across his cheek; nothing that he could not handle for the next few minutes.
A sharp twang! and the tsew of an arrow whistling past my head caused me to turn back to Brett, my fury back full-force.
As he nocked another arrow on his bow, I asked, "What part of 'more trouble than you can handle' did you not understand?" His shaking hand sent minute trembles down the bowstring as I continued, "I believe I was perfectly clear. You were to stay in the backed up against the wall while I made sure that my mate was alright." I cocked my head to one side as I added, "And here I thought I was going to go easy on you because Braeden was not hurt too badly. Pity. I was starting to like you, too . . . and now you have to die."
In a sudden burst of courage or spurt of uncontrollable fear, Brett released the arrow. I watched it, as if the world had slowed down, inching towards me. Smirking and chuckling unpleasantly, I sent a small puff of air at the arrow, minutely changing its course. It was just enough that I would not be hit, but so that I could still pluck it out of the air next to me.
Laughing outright at Brett's expression as I waved his arrow at him, I said, "You cannot win against me, Brett. If you give up now, I will let you leave and go back to Bronwen. I am sure she will not be as forgiving as I, but at least you will still be alive."
Snarling, Brett rapidly fired three more arrows at me. Dodging them with the ease and gracefulness of a dancer, I continued with a just a hint of anger in my voice, "Or you could stay and I will kill you. Good to know that I do not have to wait while you make your decision."
I examined the arrow in my hands, absently twirling it through my fingers. Suddenly, I hurled it at Brett, adding wind behind it to give the arrow more speed and power. It whirled straight into the space between neck and collar bone, effectively causing Brett pain and pinning him to the wall.
As he tugged futilely on the arrow, I walked calmly back to where Braeden was still unconscious and picked up his sword, giving it a few test swings before moving back to Brett.
He stared at me with terror-filled eyes as I lifted the sword and brought it down sharply. Just before the sword touched his flesh, Brett closed his eyes. By the time he had enough courage to open them, the blow was finished, and I was waiting for his reaction.
Judging by his lack of screams, he could not feel the pain . . . yet. He would once he discovered what I had done.
Looking only at me, Brett rolled his right shoulder, then flexed the elbow, then wriggled the fingers. He flexed his right knee, then his left, and swiveled both ankles. Using his right hand, he carefully felt his genitals, letting out a sigh of relief when he found that they were still intact. Brett rolled his left shoulder, then tried to flex the elbow on that arm.
When he could not feel the contraction of muscles, he wretched his gaze off me and looked down at his left arm. Rather, he looked at what used to be his left arm. It was currently lying on the ground next to his feet, a puddle of blood steadily forming around it.
. . . then I was fighting Brett. I could not just let him kill Braeden, especially while Braeden was unconscious and unable to fight back. Normally, I would have let Braeden take care of him, but . . . I suspected that Bronwen had been playing dirty again and had knocked Braeden out with a bolt of magic.
During the course of our fight, I had disabled Brett with Braeden's abandoned sword. He looked down and noticed that his left arm was gone. From above, I could hear Bronwen yelling, "What the hell? Augh!" disgustedly.
Brett just crumpled into himself when he realized he was missing a limb. I think it was partly a way for him to escape the pain and partly a way for him to escape me. He knew that I was going to kill him, so he was just going to take it. Brett surrendered completely after I cut off his arm.
Of course, that does not mean that I went easier on him for it. On the contrary, I think I was worse than if he had chosen to keep fighting. He really should have taken the opening I gave him. Bronwen would have made him miserable, but I do not think she would willingly kill one of her own, especially such a good agent as Brett . . .
Smirking lightly, I taunted Brett, saying, "Are you just going to give up? Are you just going to let me kill you? Like I killed your lover Felixia. At least she put up a fight. It was rather enjoyable . . . until she took an unfortunate trip out a window, that is.
"Would you like to die and see her? I am sure that she has already gone to Hell and met her werewolf mate. She does not need you anymore. You were only her support until she could finish grieving her dead bonded.
"She never loved you, and she never could love you, because she is, was, and will always be in love with that werewolf. You were nothing to her. Just something to occupy her time, for the sake of not being alone."
Something in my hateful monologue must have struck a tender nerve, because Brett looked up, snarling.
Sneering, I said, "That is more like it! Get some fight back into your body. I want a challenge, not another worthless tally on my list."
Brett's head slumped back down, and I sighed in defeat. "Have it your way, Brett. See you in Hell, love."
In a single, fluid sweep of magical energy, I completely destroyed Brett's body. All that was left were spots of blood against the wall, and an arm lying in a puddle of blood on the floor.
After killing Brett, I immediately looked up to Bronwen. She scowled at me, eyes holding a promise of her return, before she twirled her hand in a circular motion. A column of air surrounded her figure, obscuring her from view. By the time the wind storm died down, Bronwen was gone.
With all of our enemies gone, I turned my attention back to Braeden. I was worried that he had not woken up yet.
I carefully lifted his prone body with a cushion of air, guiding it out of the center and down the street towards the room where we were staying.
Incredulous stares followed us as onlookers took in the center, which was now in shambles, and our appearances; both of us had blood on our skin and clothes, multiple wounds each, and bloody weapons hanging by our sides.
. . . is it not funny how some things never work out how you want them to? I always thought that Braeden and I would bond after we got to Mayhem, so that we could have a proper vampire wedding/bonding ceremony. Then I found Jode again, and met Cif, and thought that I would be present at their own bonding ceremony. Even though I had only met Felixia, I still felt close to her, and always planned on meeting and having a friendly relation with her bonded. Brett I did not think I would ever see again after I left for Mayhem.
Now Brett, Felixia's mate, Felixia, Cif, and Jode are all dead; even my wedding with Braeden seems to be in jeopardy. With Bronwen back and hungry for revenge, I do not think that my life with Braeden will ever be complete. If we have to keep fighting her, Bronwen will slowly destroy us, forcing us apart from the constant stress of being hunted. I cannot let that happen to us!
Next time we meet Bronwen, I will kill her. There is no middle ground, no room for doubt. She will die, and Braeden and I can finally be left in peace to pick up the remains of our lives.
After I brought Braeden home, I worked on wrapping his wounds. He slept through the whole process, and I was almost finished cleansing and wrapping my own wounds when he woke.
He was very disoriented and thought that we were still in the center fighting Brett and Felixia. I explained to him that I had killed Felixia, Brett had knocked him unconscious, and then I had killed Brett before Bronwen fled. I felt no need to tell him that I did not plan on letting Bronwen live past our next meeting; I think he saw it in my eyes anyway.
Braeden tried to bring up our wedding, but I refused to talk to him about that. I did not want to get both our hopes up until after Bronwen was dead. If something were to happen . . . I cannot bear to think about that possibility. I would die if Braeden were killed, and he would do the same if I met my demise.
The only thing that I regret about today was that I let Bronwen escape. If I knew more magic . . . I will appeal to the Court for training again very soon. Hopefully within the week. The sooner I learn to control my powers, the better for everyone.
October 20 (one year)
Braeden and I decided that since none of the injuries we sustained were that bad, we will go to the Court today. Hopefully, they will allow me to train now that I have my mate next to me . . .
In preparation for our anticipated move (since it is likely we will be staying with the trainer we are assigned), I packed all my belongings early this morning. I do not think Braeden ever unpacked anything, so he is ready to leave whenever we must.
Going through my belongings to get rid of unnecessary weight, I found the tube of lip rouge that I had bought last time I was in Mayhem. I am not entirely sure why, but I put it in a safe place with the dress I had been wearing yesterday. Practically, I should have thrown them both away, but . . . something told me that they had not outlived their usefulness yet.
I have to fly. Braeden called a carriage to take us to the Court, and it has just arrived. We rented our rooms in one of the districts near the spa and relaxation center, but farther away from the Court House.
I hurriedly placed my journal and inkwell on the top of my bag and rushed out to the street. Smiling sheepishly at Braeden, who was tapping his foot impatiently and smirking lightly, I loaded my bags into the back seats of the carriage.
After everything was secure, I climbed in, and Braeden sat close to me, putting his arm over my shoulders. I felt oddly comforted by his casual display of possession over me. So I would not seem like a simple housewife, I leaned in and kissed him full on the lips.
We both sighed into the kiss and twisted so that we were facing each other on the seat. I leaned forward so much that I was practically straddling Braeden's lap. His soft lips found their way across my chin and down my neck to the hollow between neck and collar bone.
Braeden growled quietly in the back of his throat as I threaded my fingers through his hair and he bite down harshly, creating a delicious mixture of pain and pleasure to pour through my senses.
I pulled his head up and kissed him again, licking and kissing my way to the top of his button-downed shirt. Not caring about our upcoming meeting with the Court, I ripped the buttons out of their holes, tearing the fabric and leaving my love's shirt in tatters.
As I looked up into Braeden's face, glowing with need and love, something in me shut off. The little control I fought to maintain over the blood power disappeared, and I could taste the sweet, almost salty, flavor of lust; feel the engulfing blanket of love; taste the sharp tang of anger.
"Anger?" I thought, confused. A quick look at Braeden revealed that he was still as content as he had been. I puzzled over the unexplained emotion before deciding the driver must be the one transmitting.
With an eager moan, I dove back into kissing and nipping a map over Braeden's chest, from neck to navel. Just as I started stroking Braeden's arousal lovingly, something shook the carriage.
Braeden and I were thrown apart by the next quake. I landed sprawled across our bags, while Braeden hit the door with a sickening thud. Before I could ask if he was alright, the carriage was shaken again, but this time it broke into many pieces, spilling luggage and vampire onto the street.
Bronwen stepped out from behind the remains of the carriage. With a mad cackle, she waved a hand at Braeden, throwing him up in the air and spinning him around in fast circles.
Desperately, I cried out, "No! Bronwen, leave him alone!"
Still smiling madly, Bronwen turned to me, letting Braeden fall into a crumpled heap behind her as she replied, "Why would I do something like that when I have been having so much fun playing with him? And it seems to distress you so much . . . why would I give up that power over both of you so easily, only because you asked?"
"Because I will make you if you do not cooperate." To prove my point, I twisted my hands through the air, conjuring a fireball and aiming it at Bronwen's midsection.
Instead of answering, Bronwen just went back to playing with Braeden, her eyes never leaving mine. Over come with fury, I threw the fireball as hard as I could at Bronwen. She deflected it with an ease that bespoke years of magical training.
As I rushed at her, aiming to strangle her with my bare hands, Bronwen erected a solid wall of air around her and Braeden. I pounded on the barrier, knowing that it was futile, screaming that Bronwen let my love go and take me instead.
Bronwen looked over her shoulder at me, an eerie look in her eyes. "I will take you, but only after I kill your precious mate."
I could do nothing but watch in horror as Bronwen threw her hand up in the air, causing Braeden to rise just to the top of her air fort, then sharply bring her hand down, pounding my love into the street below, over and over and over.
It was like watching my heart break as she slowly killed my love. I knew I could do nothing, but I still felt like I was not doing all that I could. It was a pointless emotion, the guilt, but not one that I could banish from my heart and soul.
Bronwen's hand leveled out, leaving Braeden hovering about five feet from the ground. She slowly tilted her hand so that it was going vertically from fingertip to the heel of her palm. Braeden moved to match her stance, looking as if he were standing normally, if floating in the air.
I gasped as Bronwen moved her hand closer to her body, causing Braeden to inch closer as well. She reached out and grabbed the tattered remains of his shirt, pulling him flush against her body. They both started rising higher into the air, until Bronwen suddenly stopped them, snaking her arms around my love's waist.
Looking down at me with a grin that was purely evil, Bronwen kissed him. She touched her lips against those of my mate. I began to shake with suppressed anger, thinking that only minutes ago, I had done the same thing with Braeden.
But that witch could not just leave it at that; she began kissing down his neck, stopping to lick his jugular, before moving down his chest and stopping just above the top of his pantalon. Her eyes focused on me alone, she gripped him unforgivingly.
I could hear Braeden's gasp and grunt of pain from down on the ground. It was like torture, watching her do this to my love, my only, my Braeden.
Bronwen, stilling grasping Braeden tightly, leaned up into his neck and teased the flesh with her devil tongue. Then she bit down, hard.
As she began sucking, Braeden let out a scream filled with pain, terror, and expectations of death. I let out a high, howling cry at my mate's pain, which I as if it were my own.
As Bronwen continued sucking the blood out of Braeden, both he and I continued screaming. It was a sound that chilled all who heard it deep to their bones. It was sound filled with all the rage and fear and love and sacrifice of a pair of lovers who would never be. It was a sound that promised revenge on the one who made nightmares a reality.
Bronwen held my love on the brink of death for just an instant, before the moment came crashing down as my love came tumbling to the ground. Either Bronwen had weakened her shields, or my terror lent me strength, because I was able to push through the barrier and run to my love's side.
It was too late. I was too late. He was dead. My Braeden, my only love, my mate, my other half, the one person in the world who would never leave me, was dead.
I stared at his body, numb with shock until a mocking voice brought me out of my reverie.
"At last, it is down to you and I, Zora Ink. After everything that has happened, all of the casualties on both sides, we come down to this. Any last words before I kill you, Zora? Anything you want to say to the vampire people before their heir is murdered in front of them?"
Slowly, I brought my gaze upwards to meet Bronwen's, the fury in my eyes turning the irises deep violet streaked through with black. "Die, witch."
I leapt into the air as wings erupted from my back and claws grew from my fingertips. My entire being was focused on one thing: Killing the person who destroyed my life and . . . Took. My. Mate. From. Me.
With an inhuman roar, I flew straight at the Person Who Did The Deed. Snarling, I slashed at her body, drawing several deep scores across her chest and navel. Whirling around as the Person gave chase, I threw fireballs at her, one after the other with a deadly precision. The Person Who Did The Deed fell the ground, rendered flightless by my fireballs.
I picked her up by the collar of her shirt, saying, "Did you honestly think I would let you live after you killed my mate?" as I pummeled her body with attacks both magical and physical. I let go of the Person, and she fell to the ground, unable to hold herself up any longer.
With a cold glance at the Person, I summoned a silver bow and quiver. My eyes were so frosted over that one glance could have frozen the fires of Hell. The Person shivered under my gaze, curling up in a desperate, but futile attempt to find warmth. She would find no mercy here.
I strung the bow and shot one arrow at her devil tongue. I nocked another and shot it into her black heart. The third arrow I shot through the middle of her forehead, destroying the Person's calculating mind.
Finally satisfied that the Person Who Did The Deed was dead, and my revenge handed out, I magicked my bags to a safe place and flew to the one place I could find answers.
The Court must have been surprised to see me, looking the way I did, wings and claws out with fresh blood on both.
"First, I want information. If anyone hesitates to give it to me, I will kill them. Second, nothing said here leaves this room, even if I have to kill all of you to ensure that. Third, I am not someone you want to mess with right now. Give me what I want, or you will suffer the same fate as the Person Who Did The Deed."
The Court members stared at me in shock, not quite comprehending my orders.
After a long period of silence, no one wanted to tell me what I wanted to know. So, I forcefully extracted it from their minds. It was quite painful for them, but I got what I wanted, so I left. After killing the persons on the Court, of course.
I went to the place where I had sent my bags; a small, worn down cottage in the Free Forest. Once inside, I went over everything again in my head. I had stolen from the Court the necessary information to learn how to control the blood power. I did not want to control it all the way, just enough so that I could do what I wanted when I wanted, not just when I was angry.
I had also gained information about the other kingdoms through the land, including Persaph, where my mother grew up, and was the heir apparent, until she disappeared. I also learned more about my father, some of it surprising, and some of it obvious.
I knew what I had to do.
I would become a free agent, working only for myself, and I would take my revenge on the world that gave me everything, took it away in an instant, and left me for dead. None will be spared from my fury.
The world will pay for the mistakes they made with me. Rejected because of who I am, because of what I am. Rejected mostly for the blood that runs in my veins; the blood power that would have let me rule has also cursed me.
May God have mercy on your soul, for I will show none. See you in Hell.
excerpt from A History of the Modern Vampire World
"A vampire royal fell in love with a mortal who couldn't be changed . . ."
So ... what'd you think? Please tell me in a review, because I want to know how the ending affected you personally. Were the characters well-developed enough? Was there anyone whe you wanted to see more of? Did you catch the quotes from the introduction at the end of this chapter? Were there questions left unanswered that will buzz in your mind and not let you sleep until you know the answer? What would you think of a sequel?
To conclude, please look at my profile, and go down to the section called "stories", where you will find a description of my next project, Xalvadora Jynx; Bonded of the Night. Tell me if you want to see it posted from thefirst thing I finish, or wait until a few chapters are written and post it all at once. Which would the readers prefer? I hope to see everyone on the other side of the review button and at the premiere of Xalvadora Jynx! Goodbye for now!