I began storming off into the woods, when suddenly, I felt a hand grasp my shoulder. I turned to find Bryce staring at me with concern.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked me.
I nodded. "Of course, I'm not just going to let him die," I said plainly.
He nodded. "Well, then I'm going too."
Despite the anger I still felt at Silas and the others, I felt a sudden relief fill me. So I wasn't totally alone.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
He nodded. "I have some… unfinished business to complete with the bastards."
I nodded, then turned away.
"Oh, Lacia, there's one more thing," he said to me.
"What? What is it?" I asked, turning to find him an inch from my face.
And that's when he kissed me. It wasn't… a real kiss. Just a brush. But it was enough.
I stumbled backwards. "What was that for?" I demanded. But I didn't need him to answer.
I felt myself fall to the ground as a fit of coughing seized my lungs. My vision pulsated and glared red in my eyes. I couldn't think, couldn't breathe. All I could do was feel the pain. No, it wasn't painful. It was…exhilarating. And terrifying. I felt the oxygen coming to me in harsh rasps.
My hands were pressed to the ground in front of me. I was staring at them, keeping myself tied to the earth, when suddenly, the veins inside them began turning black. I felt the need to scream, but no sound came out. But, I felt distant. Did I really need to scream? Were those even my hands?
It wasn't until then I heard Bryce shouting at me.
"Lacia, look at me!" he cried, but he sounded miles away.
I strained against an invisible force to look up at him. I could only imagine what I looked like. His eyes were wide with concern.
It won't work, Shane's voice echoed in my mind. An image of him flashed painfully into the vacant space of my thoughts. I winced, struggling to keep my focus on Bryce.
Just give in. Let it over come you, another voice crooned coldly. This time, it wasn't Shane's.
And I did. The corners of my vision began to blacken. I was only awake long enough to see something grab at Bryce, but I didn't have the mind to care. And as I felt my limp body fall to the ground, I was gone.
. . .
My eyes fluttered open, but only for a few seconds, because what they saw made them rapidly fly shut. I cracked them open again. The colors were brighter, more enhanced. It hurt my head to look. But, my head already hurt anyway. I groaned and sat up. It was, in a word, dark. And yet, I could see…
What was going on?
Looking around, I saw to my left a barred cell door. And to my right… darkness. As if the room continued on in the other direction.
It took me a second to notice the other body sitting on the floor in a lump next to me. It was Bryce.
As quickly as my body would let me, I leaned heavily against the wall and stood up. My body felt so weak, as if I had a thirty ton weight on my shoulders. And my head seemed to be floating on a cloud. All that was tangible was the pain… and… that smell…
And that was when it hit me. A disgusting, metallic stench that smelled horrible even when it wasn't magnified a few hundred times. Blood. I turned towards the darkness and it grew stronger.
Where was I?
I shook my head in an attempt to clear it, and hurried over to Bryce.
"Bryce?" I called, kneeling down next to him. "Can you hear me?"
He didn't move. I pressed an ear to his chest. His heartbeat thrummed in my ear. He was still alive. For now, at least.
I took a deep breath and stood up. I started to take a step forward, but fear caught me, and I turned back to the cell door. Against the logic that was screaming at me in my head, I attempted to open it. And, surprise, surprise, it was locked.
I sighed, turning back to the darkness and walked into it. I was surprised to find a hallway that turned, making an L shape. The hallway led into… another cell. The dim, white light coming from the hallway cast eerie shadows on the walls through the bars of the cell door. The hallway widened into a room. I didn't enter; I just cast a glance into the room. And all along the walls were deep grooves in the hard concrete, like scratches. It almost looked like… claw marks.
Suddenly, I heard the snap of a chain and a growl of frustration. I took another step forward, peering into the room. I saw a man kneeling on the floor. His arms were suspended to opposite sides of the room by chains and shackles and there was one attached to the wall behind him that was fastened around his neck… like a leash. He jerked forward in an obvious attempt to break free of his chains, but they held fast. The man seemed to melt into a wolf, ripping at the chains, jumping from the wall, straining with all his might to get away, but he was being pulled in too many directions. Giving up, he shifted back to his human form. The man sat in a lump on the floor.
I took another step forward and he stirred, turning to look at me. His eyes were angry, but also sad and abandoned. Although when they saw me, they turned scared.
Likewise, I had to hold back the urge to scream.
It was Shane.
"Shane!" I cried, running over to him and kneeling down, the grogginess that hung over me seconds ago vanishing. He winced backwards, as if I would hurt him, but otherwise said nothing.
Suddenly, there was a voice from the doorway.
"Hello?" Bryce called.
I stood up. "Bryce, In here!" I called to him.
I saw his head poke around the corner, and when he saw me, he rushed over. It took him a minute to realize who I was with. He hurried over, acting much better than I felt. He immediately began studying the shackles.
"Ah, the bastards," he muttered, fidgeting with it, and seconds later, it released Shane with a gasp of whooshing air and a sigh. That half of his body collapsed into a slump on the floor, his other arm still held up by its chain. Bryce went and released the other one, and he fell to the ground, the shackle around his neck still holding on. Finally, Bryce removed it, but Shane made no move to escape.
"Shane?" I asked quietly. He looked up at me with tired, confused eyes and struggled to straighten his spine enough to sit up, leaning most of his weight on his arms.
I put a hand on his face. He sighed and his eyes closed, as if finding comfort in the small gesture. His skin was cold and… wet? It took me a second to realize he was dripping with water. Well… mostly water….
His head drifted down. I pulled it back up to look at me, using both hands. I kept them on his clammy skin.
"It's me, Shane. Don't you recognize me?"
He just stared at me, the sadness and desolation in his eyes heavy.
"They… they've broken you…" I whispered. At the moment, the scent of blood was thick in the air around us.
He shrugged, looking away. I ripped his head back around.
"Look at me, Shane. Please tell me you remember. Please tell me you remember me!" I pleaded, my eyes starting to tear up.
He sat studying my face, as if he was trying. As if he was trying hard, as if he wanted to remember… but couldn't.
"Shane! No, please, tell me you remember! Please! Don't look at me like that! Just tell me you remember! What have they done to you? What have they done?" I cried, collapsing onto my knees in front of him the tears now rolling freely down my face. Bryce rested a hand on my shoulder.
He still remained silent. I could see the pain in his eyes as he was looking at me… as if he pitied me.
"Don't leave me alone here," I begged, "I don't want to be alone. I remember what it was like being alone. I had my father and Bridgette, but I might as well have been the only person on Earth. And then I met you," I said slowly. There was no sign of recognition in his eyes. I felt like my heart was being torn open. "I met you, and Bryce. And Brent and Seth! Your brothers, surely you remember them! And Jayden. And your parents. Willow and Silas, you have to remember them, Shane…Don't you remember them?"I whispered trying to hold back the tears again. "Bryce. Your brother. Your best friend, you have to remember, Shane!" I cried, making him look at Bryce, who only shook his head.
"He's not going to remember, Lacia. They've obviously erased his memory."
"What?" I whimpered. "But they can't do that! That's not fair! Bryce, it's not fair," I cried, collapsing onto the floor.
I shook my head. "I'm a fool. An idiot…" I whimpered pathetically. "I never should've come! God, I'm so stupid! This is so useless! I don't know where I am, I don't even know what I'm doing here…"
"Prison," Bryce said quietly.
"What?" I sniffled. God, I was a sap.
Shane's eyes widened, flashing in the dark room. "Vampires," he muttered, his voice ragged and worn, as if he had been…
I sighed. "Yeah, I kind of figured," I sniveled. I continued wallowing in my patheticness, when suddenly, the overwhelming stench of blood coiled around my nose again. I sat up.
"Are you… are you bleeding?" I asked him warily, my voice thick.
Shane looked at me mournfully, then shrugged.
I shook my head. "I think you are… how long have you been here?" I asked cautiously, wiping the tears away from my eyes, standing up.
"Nine," he muttered.
I had been walking towards him, but this made me stop. Nine? Nine what? Nine hours? Nine days? Nine weeks? How long had I been out?
I shook the thought away. The important thing right now would be to get him to stop bleeding.
I circled around him and started to study his back, but as soon as I did, I wished I hadn't. His back was covered, and I mean covered, with thin slits, dripping a deep crimson liquid. And across his shoulder line were strange symbols… like a language of some sort, as if they had carved it into his skin-
I turned around and wretched on the stone floor.
"Oh, that'll definitely improve the smell of this place," Bryce muttered under his breath, sitting down against the nearest wall, one knee propped up, an arm rested across it.
I rolled my eyes, turning back around to look at his back.
I got closer so I could look at the carvings more clearly. It was a language I had never seen before…
Suddenly, in front of me, they changed. I could read them… it was ancient Servian. I don't know how I knew that, but something in my mind knew what it was. As she read it, a voice in her head echoed the words. It was impossible to tell if the voice was male or female, child or adult. It almost sounded like many voices at once.
Come now, Lacia, dear. Join us. Crevan Masters is waiting for you, it read.
I screamed, dropping to my knees as what it said echoed in my mind. I felt as if someone had hit me. The voices continued to repeat it. Over and over and over...
How could they have known? I hadn't thought about… her in years. The nightmares didn't come to me anymore… I never told anyone. Not even Dad.
Crevan Masters, the voice crooned, but it quickly turned to a hiss. Crevan Mastersss, she waitsss for you, Crevan Mastersss doesss, ssshe waitsss...
"Lacia, what's wrong?" Shane asked, sudden tension appearing in his voice.
Bryce jumped up, his eyes rapidly skimming over the words.
"God damn it! They knew we would come here. They wanted us to find you. This was all a plan. A trap," he spat.
"Who is she to you?" I asked quickly when the voices died down, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.
His nose crinkled in response. "Why?" he asked cautiously.
"Just answer me, who is she to you?" I demanded, my voice rising.
He sighed, exasperated. "The vampires work like a beehive. That creature, that Crevan Masters," he spat, using it as if it were an insult, "Is their queen."
"What, so have you met the root of all evil?" he asked his tone sarcastic.
I didn't answer for a while, just let the horror sink in.
"Why?" Bryce started again.
"She's my mother," I breathed.