Considering that I haven't updated in more than two months, I think I should post a summary of what has happened in recent chapters...
Basically, the gang are all in a masquerade ball that's designed to be a trap to capture Lucan once and for all (because he's turn all psycho and mean now). However, in the middle of the ball, Jenna has an argument with Eidan which results in her telling him to get out of her life (ouch) and giving him back the necklace he made her forty-six chapters ago (double ouch). Then she dramatically storms out of the room and because life completely hates her, she bumps into no other than Lucan, who doesn't exactly look like he wants to have a friendly conversation with her. We totally didn't see that one coming.
-in which the game begins-
the darkness said death was a good thing.
beyond it, your dreams would come true;
it is a reward for all the pain you endured.
and then he thought;
what was the point of enduring reality?
what was the harm in living a dream
when it was so much better than life itself?
Her instinct told her to run. Everything about his presence screamed danger and yet, in her stupidity and panic, she remained where she stood.
He didn't move.
Neither did she.
She saw his eyes behind the mask and found nothing but a blank canvas of blue. His eyes were cold and emotionless, boring a hole through her with a simple glance. He was winter; frozen on the spot and yet she couldn't stop shivering from his presence. But, he was also fire; from his posture, she sensed a strong anger that made her yearn for safety. He was both calm and berserk. And she felt pity for him. Pity for the victim of this curse. Jenna couldn't even think of him as human now. He was nothing but a creature of darkness. He was a lost child, searching blindly for the pieces of his shattered life, but only the darkness held his hand through the ordeal.
The curse had already ruined him. There was no cure that would save Lucan.
"It's me you're after, isn't it?" Jenna forced herself to say, surprised that her voice didn't tremble.
She wondered if he would talk. She hoped he would. If he came here today to kill her, then talking would surely buy her some time to formulate a clumsy plan of escape in her brain. She was starting to regret wearing such a heavy dress for this ball; it was practically impossible walking in it – let alone running away from a crazed prince hell-bent on killing her.
"I don't understand you, Jenna."
Jenna's eyes widened. Lucan had spoken. She didn't expect him to speak. She didn't think he could.
"You say you just want to be happy, and yet when your precious Eidan returns to you, you have the nerve to tell him to back off." Lucan smirked, looking at her with eyes that made her feel pathetic. His eyes mocked her through that mask, piercing through the indifference that she tried to keep up.
Jenna clenched her fists tighter and tighter until her nails dug painfully into her palms. She knew Lucan had changed drastically – but why? Was it really because of everything that had happened to him? Was it because he was exposed to the Dark Abyss?
Was there any hope for him?
"Is he not enough for you?" Lucan continued, walking closer to her. "I clearly wasn't enough to satisfy your needs. Now that you've had Eidan, have you realised that he's not good enough for you as well?"
Pure rage bubbled inside Jenna. How dare he say those things? She wanted to say something – anything – that could stop him talking, but words refused to form in her mind. She was useless, unable to defend herself or Eidan; and she continued to listen to Lucan's aggravating voice. It teased her, swirling around her head around and around until she was sure she felt dizzy.
"Well, Jenna?" Lucan raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to say anything? You always did use to talk too much."
Jenna remained silent.
Lucan gave her a pitying smile. "It seems that having that bastard child of yours has changed you drastically."
Something snapped inside her. Her eyes widened at his words. Before she knew it, she was pointing her gun at him.
"Shut up," she hissed through gritted teeth.
The gun in her grasp trembled, and Lucan's face was a blur in the distance. He was faceless to her now. He was nothing. He was a stranger fuelling her anger and bitterness, letting the negativity inside her build up and up until she would release the trigger.
Lucan smirked. "Touchy subject?"
"Shut up!" she shrieked. He was still smiling. She could imagine herself pulling the trigger and shooting his goddamn face, watching the blood cover that sickening snigger that just wouldn't abandon him.
"I suppose I should try to understand. I mean, Eidan did force himself on you. How unfortunate. You must have wanted something like your naïve fairy tale dreams-"
"I said shut up-"
"-where your Prince Eidan would propose to you and you would get married and live happily ever after. Instead, you got raped and he left you as soon as he could-"
Jenna pulled the trigger.
Eidan was in a venomous mood. The necklace that Jenna returned to him was in his pocket, and it felt as if it was burning him through his clothes. He wanted to be angry and spiteful – and he was. He was angry at himself. Yes, he was angry at Jenna at first, but that soon subsided into anger for himself afterwards. Why didn't he just stay three years ago? Why didn't he talk to Jenna first? Why did he listen to Ethel of all people?
He sighed, reaching out for a strong drink that could hopefully cloud his senses until he stopped thinking.
But a hand grabbed the drink off him.
"Oh no you don't," Mana scowled at him. "We don't want you getting drunk and then Lucan jumping out of nowhere to massacre this whole city."
Eidan glared at her. Although she had a point, he still wished she would leave him alone to at least have one drink. Sadly, his glare had the opposite effect. The elf set the drink down and gave him a sympathetic look.
"I heard your argument with Jenna," she said. "I'm sorry about what's happening between both of you."
Eidan didn't know how to reply, therefore he only nodded.
"You're lucky Zeph took Vincent out of the room. With the way both of you were screaming at each other, I'm surprised Vincent still didn't hear."
It was hard not to wince at that. That certainly would have complicated things if Vincent had heard anything. Although, he was only three years old, so there was no doubt that Jenna would have formulated a lie to cover that up. Yes, Jenna would tell any lie so that Vincent would always be unaware of his father. No matter how much he wanted to be, he would never be part of his own son's life.
A hand laid on his shoulder.
He looked up. Mana gave him a small smile.
"I wouldn't give up so easily if I were you, Eidan," she told him. "Jenna's not completely heartless. She still feels something for you. She's just being stubborn and scared. Just… give her time."
As comforting as her words were, Eidan still had no faith in them. Nevertheless, he gave Mana a smile in return, hoping that she would kindly drop the subject.
"She still cares, you know. When Jenna gave birth to Vincent, she cried as soon as she saw him. All of us were so worried that, somehow, she wasn't pleased or something. She was crying so much. But when we asked her, she just told us that he looked exactly like you. And then she just started smiling. It was really weird. Next thing you know, she was laughing until we were certain that she had gone insane. But do you know what she said?" Mana paused, studying his face for an excruciating second.
She took his silence as an answer.
"She said she was glad she had Vincent now. Because it was like a part of you was with her."
Eidan looked down. He didn't know what to say. The thought of Jenna looking after Vincent for three years whilst he was so clueless just angered him so much. How could he have made such a horrible mistake of leaving her?
"It's still not too late, Eidan. Jenna hasn't worn that necklace of hers for three years, but she decided to wear it today. Yes, she may have given it back to you but-"
Eidan frowned. "How do you know about that?"
Grinning, Mana tapped her nose.
His frown deepened. "Seriously."
She rolled her eyes. "Like I said, both of you were so loud when you were arguing. How could I not listen in?"
"Anyway," Mana continued, "she may have given the necklace back to you but that was just her stupid act of pushing you away. It's her defences. You got too close to her, so she got scared and told you to leave her alone. I bet you that she regretted that as soon as she left. Jenna is still Jenna underneath that new haircut of hers. You just have to be patient with her."
Perhaps Eidan was just being too hopeful and naive, but listening to Mana say those things did make him feel better. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps he just needed to stop hoping that Jenna would instantly forgive him. Perhaps he needed to start over with her. Perhaps things would be okay, in time.
"Thank you, Mana," Eidan told the elf. "Um, I appreciate you talking to me and I'm really grateful that you and Zeph stayed with Jenna-"
Mana grimaced. "Just stop there. I don't need you making a speech of how awesome I am."
Eidan lightly laughed at this. It was good to speak to the elf again. It hadn't occurred to him just how much he had missed talking to her and everyone else.
Mana grinned at him. Then, her expression softened. "Don't go all martyr-like on us and think that you don't deserve happiness. Everyone makes mistakes, Eidan. You deserve to be happy too."
Surprised, Eidan could only nod.
"Oh, look," Mana tilted her head, looking over Eidan's shoulder. "Zeph and Caelum are coming over here."
Turning around, Eidan saw a stressed looking Zeph tugging Vincent by his wrist, and from the looks of it, he was swearing underneath his breath. Vincent, on the other hand, looked immensely hyper. Caelum was ahead of them, his eyes briefly scanning the ballroom as if he was searching for someone.
"No sign of Lucan anywhere?" Caelum asked as soon as he reached them.
Mana shook her head. "Not as far as I can tell."
"He wasn't outside then?" Eidan questioned Caelum – although he already knew the answer. If Caelum was here, then surely Lucan had not been found yet.
"No. I have a feeling that he probably won't enter like a normal person now anyway. He'll probably just use the Abyss and transport himself inside." Caelum sighed, reaching for the drink that Eidan has tried to drink earlier.
Mana snatched it off him.
"Mana," Caelum's glare was deadly; his red eyes practically glowing from behind his mask.
Before she could say anything, Vincent jumped out of nowhere, dragging Zeph with him.
"Where's mummy?" Vincent asked them, a large smile on his chubby face.
As soon as he asked that question, Eidan was punched with worry in his gut. He looked at all of them, asking them the same silent question.
"I didn't see her when Vincent and I went outside," Zeph said, frowning to himself. "And I'm guessing she hasn't been here either."
The worry that Eidan felt grew stronger. He shouldn't have left her alone. It wasn't safe for her to be alone.
"I'm going to look for her," he declared, preparing to shove everyone out of the way. If she was in trouble, then surely it would be his fault. He was the one who argued with her.
In the midst of his panic, he heard something that cracked throughout the whole ballroom, silencing everyone.
Jenna stared at Lucan with wide eyes. Her hands were shaking, so much that she was surprised she hadn't dropped the gun yet.
Blood spread through his shoulder, staining the immaculate whiteness of his clothes with the sickening shade of red. He didn't even blink. Lucan merely cast a glance at his wounded shoulder and narrowed his eyes at her. Involuntarily, she flinched. There was such a magnitude of rage in that one look and just staring at him made her feel physically sick to the bone.
"You little bitch," Lucan murmured. His eyes glinted and a smile crept up to his lips, sending shivers up Jenna's spine.
"You may think that just because you're older now, you're much more capable of looking after yourself when truth is, you're still the pathetic princess who can't do anything right in her life." Lucan laughed harshly, suddenly pointing a finger at her.
"Why don't you just die?"
As soon as he said those words, she gasped. Tendrils of darkness shot from the floor, engulfing her in a puddle that froze her entire body. She thrashed against her bindings, ready to scream – but nothing came out. To her utter horror, she found that her voice was gone.
Her blood ran cold. Was it because of him? Was he capable of such strange magic? How was this possible?
She was starting to panic. What could she do? She couldn't move, she couldn't scream, she couldn't do anything. The best thing to do in a situation like this would have been to stay calm and think of a plan – but all she could think of were a string of swear words and curses.
Lucan advanced on her, the blood still spreading in his arm. It dripped on the floor, following him as if it marked his presence.
Jenna closed her eyes. Behind her eyelids, she could see the old Lucan; the Lucan who went to that festival with her when they first met, the Lucan who held her hand during those awful tournaments in the Earth Kingdom, the Lucan who cried when his family died. She remembered how he used to be so polite and kind and pure, because if she was going to die at his hand right now, then she would rather remember Lucan as the prince that he was, not the murderer.
Because this wasn't Lucan. This was a monster than the darkness created.
A loud crash resounded beyond her closed eyes. At first, she winced, thinking that the pain would soon come. However, nothing came. If anything, she felt free. Opening her eyes, she found that the darkness surrounding her was gone. And there was someone in front of her.
She frowned. "E-Eidan?"
Wait. Her voice was back?
She looked behind Eidan. Lucan was on the floor, surrounded by debris. As well as that, thick vines bound him, keeping him place. Jenna looked around, soon finding that it was Mana who had done that. Behind her, was Zeph, holding an arm out to stop Vincent from running out towards his mother. Inwardly, Jenna felt a sense of relief and gratitude towards her friends. Had it not been for them… Well, she surely would not have been able to save herself from Lucan.
Her fist clenched. Perhaps he was right though. Even now, she was still relying on other people to fix her problems.
Amidst her thoughts, she noticed that there was a gradual pit of black that built up behind Lucan. It was a swirling mass of black and purple and grey, like rage and pure anger merged into the most terrifying colours imaginable.
Jenna tensed, thinking it to be another example of Lucan's magic.
"Caelum," Eidan slowly said. "Stop it. This is too much for you."
Caelum? It was Caelum doing that? She looked at the god now, seeing the intense hatred in his face. His mask was now gone, replaced with the angriest and most petrifying face she had ever witnessed. With just one look, Jenna knew exactly what was fuelling such distress within him.
Celeste. This was revenge for Lucan killing Celeste.
Caelum didn't stop.
And several things happened at once.
Caelum rushed forward; he was literally a blur of darkness, a shadow flitting across the room. He barged into Lucan, throwing him into the raging mass of darkness – and then nothing. Jenna could hear Mana screaming after them, but both Caelum and Lucan had already disappeared through the darkness. Eidan cursed, running forward.
Jenna didn't know why. She grabbed his arm.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed, tightening her hold on his arm.
His eyes widened at her. He was surprised that she was stopping him. So was she. Why did she care? Didn't she tell him that she wanted him to leave her life?
Then why did the thought of him leaving her now scare her so much?
"Caelum's not going to be able to take care of Lucan by himself. He's in a human body now; if he uses too much of his power, he'll die. I can't let him go alone." Eidan tugged at his arm, but Jenna glared at him.
"Then let me go with you-"
Her grip tightened. "You will not leave me behind again."
Eidan's face softened. Just seeing that alone made her grip falter. What was she thinking? Wouldn't she just be a hindrance to him if she followed him? Why couldn't she let him just leave?
As much as she hated to admit it, Jenna knew full well what the answer was.
She didn't want to lose him again.
Eidan pulled his arm away from her. She let him, dropping her gaze. Fine. If he really wanted to leave again, then she would not stop him. He must have taken her earlier words to heart. He was really going to leave again. Fine. If that was what he-
He took her hand.
She looked up, her lips parting in surprise when she found him smiling at her.
"Let's go, Jen." He motioned his head towards the mass of darkness, as if it was the most inviting thing in the world.
Jenna couldn't stop herself from smiling. She let him help her stand up, still not letting go of his hand even when he walked towards the darkness. She would not let go either. Not yet.
She looked over her shoulder back at Mana, Zeph, and Vincent. "Take care of Vincent, please."
Mana only nodded, evident worry in her eyes. Zeph, on the other hand, scowled at her.
"You better be back," the thief barked. "I am not babysitting this kid for the rest of my life."
Jenna smiled. It was nice to know that he clearly cared for their safety.
With that, Eidan led her into the darkness. The grip on her hand tightened even when they were engulfed in the blackest of black. Though blind, Jenna could feel Eidan leading her into the right way. He was silent, and all she could hear was his breathing and the loud pounding of her own heart. It was too late for her to regret her decision now. She had decided to recklessly go with him. She would face the horrors with him.
"Are we in the Dark Abyss? Wouldn't that mean that this isn't good for me-"
Eidan interrupted her. "I don't think we're in the Abyss. This feels different. It doesn't feel… the same. I don't think you'll go mad just by being here."
At least there was that. Jenna allowed herself to be relieved about that.
All of a sudden, the darkness morphed. She could see shades of purple and grey growing more and more vivid by the second. The abrupt change of atmosphere sent her into confusion; should she panic or not? Was this good or bad? Not even Eidan knew what was happening.
Then, everything flashed and she covered her eyes, staggering back.
When she opened her eyes again, she wondered if all this was real. She was in a place surrounded by black marble walls and ornate paintings and tapestries; it was both a beautiful and haunting place for the walls gleamed so much that they resembled mirrors, and countless reflections of her stared back in awe. There she was, dressed all in white, in an unknown place of black. Beside her, Eidan softly let go of her hand. He also took off his masquerade mask, throwing it in the far corner of the room.
A whimper sounded from that corner.
"Was that..?" Jenna's voice trailed away once she finally saw a figure huddled in the corner. Eidan saw it too, for he swore out loud and rushed to the person.
"G-Grace?" he gasped, tugging at the chains that bound her foot. "What the fuck is happening? Who did this?"
Grace? Grace? That was Grace? What was she doing here? And where exactly was here?
"Eidan? Eidan? Why are you here? I told you to leave the Dark Kingdom! You can't come back here!" Grace was shrieking, pushing him away from her. Jenna could see her now; she looked horrible – and that was not something Jenna wanted to think. However, Grace did in fact look terrible; her red hair was thin and lifeless, her eyes were burdened by the darkest of bags, her skin was pale and sallow and covered in the most purple bruises.
"Who did this to you?" Eidan demanded, tugging at the chain in futile. That action alone made Jenna frown. Weren't Shadows stronger than the average person? Why were those chains unable to move?
"You have to run! Just run, Eidan! Leave me and get out of here!" Grace was frantically screaming at him, kicking his hands away from the chains. "You can't let her find you!"
Jenna frowned. "Let who find him?"
Grace shook her head. "Just please go! She can't see that both of you are here too! She's got everyone she needs now! She's got me, and Caelum and Lucan here! You have to get back to the Earth Kingdom! Without you there, she can make the Air Kingdom fall and kill everyone in both kingdoms!"
She wasn't making any sense, but the more she said, the more Jenna panicked. Frantically, she looked around her, searching for whoever this woman was.
Eidan's voice was grave. "What do you mean she's got everyone she needs now?"
Grace looked at him straight in the eye. "This is a death trap, Eidan. What do me, you, Jenna, Caelum, and Lucan all have in common?"
She didn't wait for him to answer. "We're all connected to each other. Clones and reincarnations. If Celeste was still alive, she would have been here too. And with Mana and Zeph in the Earth Kingdom, she can take care of them there as well. There's no stopping her. You should never have come back here."
Eidan looked as if he understood everything. His face paled and he visibly started shaking. Jenna's frown deepened even more.
"Who? Who is going to do all this?" she demanded, feeling the rise of panic in her voice.
All three of them gasped. Jenna spun around, coming face to face with Eidan's sister, Ethel.
Ethel smiled at her brother. "So nice of you to join us again, dear brother. And you kindly brought Jenna with you! How delightful."
Jenna felt Eidan grab her wrist, pulling her away from Ethel.
"Now," Ethel began, clasping her hands together in a seemingly innocent gesture, "who wants to play a game with me?"
Psychopath. That one word rang through Jenna's mind, especially when Ethel's lips stretched into a wide smile.
Ethel stepped aside, beckoning something behind her. To Jenna's horror, Lucan appeared from the shadows, covered head to toe in blood.
Her heart stopped. Where was Caelum?
"All of you are going to play this game called 'Tag'. My dear Lucan will be 'it' and he will chase you across an endless maze. Basically, whoever he catches will, well, die." Ethel shrugged casually. "The only way to get out of the maze is to simply kill the clones."
The clones? Jenna felt her heart pounding faster and faster. The clones. Didn't that mean Lucan and Grace?
Then, the entire room started shaking. Jenna closed her eyes, half expecting the ceiling to start crumbling above them. But although the floor shook and the walls moved, nothing came tumbling down. Through the midst of it, she heard the shattering of metal and the sound of Grace gasping.
Jenna opened her eyes. Her hands flew to her mouth, containing the sound of surprise that escaped her. Beyond them were towering walls of black marble, stretching up into an oblivion of eternity. The walls were narrow, hardly having any room to fit two people in.
"She said a maze," Grace mumbled. She was standing now, the chains around her foot having been magically shattered.
"And she also said that Lucan would kill us." As Eidan said this, all of them slowly turned around to face Lucan, who was hunched over, with blood dripping from his arms, his hair, his legs. He was soaked entirely in blood.
He met their gaze. And smiled. The darkness crept around him, forming snake-like shapes beneath his foot.
The panic finally burst in Jenna. She stopped looking at him. She met Eidan and Grace's eyes.
And she screamed. "Run!"
what is the point in running
when it is death you are against with?
YAY. I finally updated... after two months. I'm surprised this story still have views considering I update so slowly these days... I am very sorry for this. I really need to start updating frequently again...
ANYWAY. Thank you for the reviews that people have given me! And the favourites and the follow alerts! I appreciate each and every one and just thank you, thank you :)