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Forever or Never
Author's note: Well, I'm writing this based on a dream of mine..... not to mention the fact that I've always wanted to find a way to combine my favorite mythical creatures into one story :)
“Strange Nairi. On your coming of age ceremony the moon shines with a great amount of passion. The only time it did that for me was at my first Autumnal Equinox ceremony, and I can barely remember that. You obviously don’t know how lucky you are.”
“Nimue, you know mother would kill you if she heard you talking like this. Especially at a ceremony this important. Are those your sneakers!? You obviously want to be expelled from our family.” I tried to keep my cool, but I could feel my voice rising in frustration.
“At least I don’t associate with mortals in high school,” Nimue snapped. I watched as she backed away from the small stage that my mother was standing on. Mother said the opening words, and I stepped on the stage. The spotlight shone on me. It was my time to shine I guess.
“Now of age, Nairi’s magick will become stronger than ever. Nairi, step forward,” Mother commanded. I did what she asked, going through the motions that I had been trained in my whole life. “Nairi…welcome to the Xenia clan. Take your rightful place of honor with your sister Nimue and I. The royal family….is complete.” Nimue hurried onto the stage, and with a flick of our fingers, fireworks shot up. Deafening cheers rose up from the crowd.
A small tear fell from my eye, but I brushed it away quickly. Mother hated it when I showed any kind of mortal emotion. That included sadness. Slowly I backed off the stage and left Nimue and mother alone. I watched the fireworks solemnly. Eventually the crowd had cleared away, and mother and Nimue had gone home in silence. I settled down on the ground to begin my vigil. Heavy raindrops were now falling, interrupting my silent meditation. Cold winds nipped at every exposed part of my body, and it wasn’t long before I was shivering uncontrollably. Eventually I stopped trying to meditate and got up from the soaked ground.
I found the path that I had cleared many years ago, and I trudged along it. It was something I had always done, give or take the rain part. Birds were huddled under giant leaves, sweetly singing their rain songs. It was possibly the greatest thing I had ever heard. Distracted, I didn’t notice a large root covered by some damp leaves. I fell to the ground with a searing pain going up my left hand. Mud completely covered me, and my hand was terribly sprained. That didn’t stop me though, for I meditated on the ground while covered in filth.
Somewhere in the time I had meditated, I guess I fell asleep. I never really “slept”, more like I dozed. Where I came from, if you slept, you died. The rain stopped pounding against me, and I sat up. I shivered, but it wasn’t from the cold this time. Something was really wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I looked around me, and I noticed a small spherical barrier that was shielding me from the rain. Only the wind could get in, but it couldn’t get out. Circling around me, it made a sort of mini tornado. Quickly I tried to drop the barrier. When it wouldn’t budge, I realized that it wasn’t my barrier. This meant someone had been watching me, waiting to strike. Which meant that I wasn’t alone.
As I struggled against the barrier, I frantically glanced around me. A tall dark figure was leaning over the barrier, looking proudly at his catch. I strained to see the details, but the spiraling wind made him fuzzy. So I focused on doing what I do best.
I flipped the knife off of my boot and attacked with brutal force. The figure (a guy) was surprised, so the barrier he had been holding dropped. I lunged again, but he was expecting it this time. He leapt back, and then feinted hard. I followed his moves, but stayed on my toes. He caught my hand though, and he twisted it till I dropped to my knees. He leaned over me with his fangs piercing through his lips. He held my hands behind my back, and leaned closer to my neck.
In silence, I flipped another knife on my arm. I twisted free of his grip and lunged (yet again) towards him. The knife pierced where his heart should have been. The man fell to the ground without a sound. “I’ll be back for you…..” He gasped. “And when I come back, you won’t live another day of your life the same way. You’ll be the prey, and I’ll be the hunter. Just remember……..I warned you.” He rasped the last words, and I pulled the knife from his body.
I slid the knives back into their holsters, and leaned against a tree, wary but too tired to go anywhere. “Thank you sooooo much. I was afraid that that vampire would kill me. By the way, my name’s Jill. Once human, now mutant.” A voice said from behind me. I turned, and saw a girl standing behind me. She pointed to her tiger striped tail. I rolled my eyes. Yet another mutant failure. Damn I was getting tired of those.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Just stay out of these parts. I’d rather not stay here, and you probably should come with me. If you value your life that is.” I turned, and she followed quickly at my feet. “My name’s Nairi,” I stated, trying to speed up my pace. I wanted to scope out the place, before any more vamps came.
“So where exactly are we going?” Jill stopped, waiting for me to answer. No matter how tempting it was, I wasn’t going to leave her alone out here.
“Well, I’m going to see where he came from. And if there are anymore out there. You can come if you want to, just keep up would you?” I leapt up the nearest tree, and I didn’t look back this time. I knew she was following me just by her heavy footsteps pounding after me. So I leapt to the next tree, and the next one after that. Again and again I leapt to the nearest tree to me, hearing only Jill’s feet pounding against the branches of the trees.
I finally found what I was looking for. It was a small spot of charred grass, barely noticeable to the untrained eye. Sure enough, Jill finally caught up with me, and she cocked her head slightly to the side. I ignored her ignorance and shimmied cautiously down the tree. “What…?” Jill stopped mid-sentence when I put my finger to my lips. A small fire was still burning, but it was hidden under a tarp. But still, the smoke smell was thick. The fire indicated that the vampire had been a relatively young one. They usually can’t teleport well, so the “mother” of this vampire had been visiting him. This didn’t exactly settle my nerves. “Was it alone Nairi?” Jill asked, hushing her voice so that only I could hear.
“It seems like it. Try to stay quiet though, just to be sure,” I replied. Jill nodded, and I continued to scour the area. I searched for signs of life, channeling my senses to try to find the aura of any other life forms. Other than some animals (and Jill), I found none. So I signaled for Jill to follow me. We walked until we found a place suitable for a quick escape. I sat on a small stump, and Jill sat on a low branch.
“So Jill, why are you out here anyway? Don’t you have a family or something?” Jill looked to the ground as I asked.
“No, I never have. They took me when I was a small child, and infused my DNA with a white tiger’s. Then they left. They didn’t believe that I would last a day, but here I am, sixteen years and still going strong. What about you?” Jill asked sarcastically. I could tell she was uncomfortable with this subject, so I went on to explain my family.
“Well, I have a sister named Nimue and a mother. We come from the Xena clan, and I was out here for my coming of age vigil. Well, I was until he showed up at least,” I replied, becoming bored with the subject.
“What no dad? Someone with a family like yours has to have a dad right?”
“No… he died when I was six. He was killed by a vampire. I swore from then on that I would hunt and kill them, until there were no left on this Earth. So far, I’m doing quiet fine.” I put pressure on my left hand, and flinched as pain shot up my arm.
“Are you okay? I can heal that if you want me to.” I nodded, and she got to work. She drew a circle in the ground and motioned for me to step into it. I did, and felt warm magick running through my veins. My hand regained feeling and I felt the magick flow form me into the air.
“That was amazing. How do you know about healing powers like that? I thought you said you were abandoned out here.”
“I was, but when you’re out here alone, you get bored. So you pick up on things. It’s really not a big deal,” Jill shrugged. She slid off her branch and stood in front of me. Her smile was warm, with a hint of a challenge. I smiled back at her, and pushed off my left arm to stand. When no pain went up through my arm, I smiled harder.
It didn’t take much to wipe that smile off of my face. As I heard Nimue’s voice calling to my head, my smile completely faded. Where are you Nairi? You are needed here. It vanished quickly, but the panic in her voice lingered in my mind. It reminded me of her true self, and her bloody past. You see, she’s a bloodsucking monster…. A vampyre. Jill looked up at me astonished. “Your sister is a vampyre?” She whispered.
“How do you… How did you…How the hell do you know that?!” I blurted. I regretted it, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it now.
“Like I said, when you’re alone, you pick up on things. A couple of years ago I found out how to tune into the magick system to hear thoughts. You looked out of it, so I tapped into your magick stream to see if I could sense something. Obviously, I did.” Jill’s face turned the color of a ripe tomato. “Sorry if it was wrong to do it.”
“Wait sense something? Like what?” I asked, trying hard to get my magick wall again. “By the way, it’s alright.”
“Like a build up in your magick stream, like now. Or a presence of another’s magick.” Jill giggled slightly and her blush began to fade a bit. She looked up to the sky. Suddenly, a bird’s shriek filled the sky. I recognized the battle cry and flipped the spring locked knives and went into a fighting stance. Jill beside me readied herself to pounce. This wasn’t gonna be fun.
The bird dove quickly, almost to where I couldn’t see it. It slashed my arm, deeply enough to scar. “S***! You’re gonna pay for that you ass!” I screamed. The bird dove again, but I was quicker this time. My knife struck just above his stomach. The bird shrieked in pain, and spiraled up into the air. It must have blacked out, because it fell. It was only then when I saw his face. It was a boy. I threw my knife to the ground and took off running. Jill darted past me, and leaped into the air; catching him just before he hit the ground.
She layed him lightly on the ground, then backed away. I noticed that he looked to be about my age, maybe older. He was hurt so badly, that he was now unconscious. So I took the opportunity to search him. He had no weapons on him, but his fingers looked as if they could change from fingers to talons, which was not the best sign in the world. I was going to ask Jill about it, but she wasn’t paying attention to me; and besides, the boy was stirring.
Suddenly, the boy leapt from the ground. He couldn’t stay up for long though, because his muscles spasmed and he collapsed to the ground in pain. His stomach wound had reopened, so Jill took to mending it. She tore off a piece of her shirt and gently dressed the wound with it. Meanwhile the boy’s eyes where frantically searching around him. I addressed Jill and asked why she couldn’t heal him like she healed me.
“All beings have a presence. Whether it be aura or just their power radiating off of them, everyone has it. Mine just so happens to be power radiating off of me, just like your sister. This means that we have to hide it from everyone around us. So using a great deal of it, like I do when I heal, means that my power becomes more noticeable. So people who are searching for me have a better chance of finding me. Not to mention that it’s extremely hard on my body,” Jill explained, but she stopped when the boy tried to sit up. She pushed him back down, even though he seemed to be gaining strength.
“Where the hell am I?” He asked, trying to push Jill off of him so he could stand.
“You’re safe with us, so stop trying to run. It’s not like we’ll kill you or anything, or we would have already. Tell me your name, and why you just attacked us. Now,” I replied, searching Jill’s face. She gave a slight nod, and I listened as the boy explained.
“My name is Aiken, and as for why I attacked you, I’ll be keeping that to myself,” Aiken replied fiercely. Jill nodded, telling me that he was telling the truth, and I dropped the subject. But suddenly, we heard a rustling in the bushes behind us.
“It’s your family. Don’t worry, we’ll hide. Oh and he won’t be getting away anytime in the near future.” With that, Jill and Aiken were gone. I turned when my families footsteps got louder, and Nimue and mother greeted me by teleporting me back inside of my fancy house. The last thing I saw was Jill up in a tree, silently conversing with Aiken, as if something was terribly wrong.
Mother stood before me. She examined my body, staring at the mud and dirt that covered me. “Get changed Nairi. You look like you’re homeless.” Mother turned away from Nimue and I. I assumed that mother was in no mood for me to argue with her, so I mumbled some kind of agreement and climbed my stairs. For some reason, I hesitated at my door. I stood there, looking only at the door. I felt for some kind of presence in my room, and in finding none, I shoved it open.
I trudged over to my bed and collapsed onto it. I didn’t care that it was silk and I was still covered in mud, I just closed my eyes and embraced sleep willingly. Not five minutes later, a faint knock on my door made my eyes shoot open. I swung my legs over the side of my bed, and pulled a dagger out of my nightstand.
“Nairi……” I didn’t answer, even though I knew it was sister outside of my door. She tried again. “Nairiramonshea…..” Nimue called through my door. I shuddered at the use of my full first name. Nimue knew enough to only use it if she was in trouble, or if something was wrong. I stalked over to the door, and slowly opened it. Nimue stepped in, frantically searching around my room. I gently closed my door and looked back at Nimue.
She now was holding a large dagger in one hand, and the other hand was outstretched to me. I hesitated, but took her hand anyway. Nimue guided me to my window. There she said, “Nairi something is happening. Something terrible. I think it’s up to us to stop it.” Nimue looked at me, and I saw fear and uncertainty in her eyes. She whispered words of protection, and then the peaceful scene of my room disappeared.
It was replaced by a large building surrounded by massive trees. The building reeked of vampires and human blood. Still holding my hand, Nimue led me in. The building was even larger when you were inside. One wall was completely covered in mirrors (vampires tend to be conceited). All the others were painted a plain white, and most had holes in them from vampire anger fits. The smell of blood burned at my nose, and I noticed Nimue shift uncomfortably. Just a typical vampire bar.
A breeze of power washed over me as Nimue dropped her barriers, revealing her true aura. Sometimes I forgot how strong she really was. But strong it was, and strong vampyres tended to attract unwanted attention. Still, Nimue kept going deeper and deeper into the vampire bar.
“You brought a guest. She smells….fresh,” said a voice from behind me. I tried to turn, but Nimue held me back. Instead she gave a sharp low growl and tugged me along. The voice followed. “Don’t run away. We’ve only just begun to know each other.” Bile crept into my throat and I tired my best not to attack. These places did that to me. They made me agitated, on my guard at all times. Vampires and witches never got along, so going into a vampire bar was like poison to me.
Nimue slowly turned, creeping into a confident, fearless crouch. The vampyre stood his ground, despite her ferocious gaze and reputation. A hand shoved me away and I staggered into a wall. Nimue faced me, her head hung in shame.
“Just a little. Please Nairi!” her voice was urgent. I immediately understood and brushed the hair away from my neck. The pain, blistering at first, ebbed from my head down to my neck. But it was soon replaced with a sort of bliss. I was drifting and my mind was soothed. But as Nimue pulled herself away (with a lot of force), it all rushed back. First the pain, then my thoughts crammed into my mind. My head spun, but I refused to collapse.
Instead, I watched as the other vampyre thrust his power out. I was thrust so hard into a mirror that you would have sworn I was flying. I sunk to my knees, blinking away blackness. I struggled to see as Nimue lunged, sending the vampyre flying into a far away wall. She turned on her heel, motioned for me to follow, and continued to walk. Hastily I picked up a piece of broken glass and followed shakily.
Along the way I stared at the shard, inspecting the damage to myself. My hair was matted, my clothes were ruined and my arm looked like I had just been operated on by a blind doctor. In other words, I looked like s***. Bad idea to look.
Nimue stopped in front of a table. On top of it lounged an arrogant vampire sitting with his feet dangling off the edge. A girl stood near him staring at me and Nimue with hate filled eyes. Judging by her bloodshot eyes and bite marks on her wrist and neck, she was a blood junkie. They’re humans who hang around the strongest vampires only for the blood sucking sessions. It gives them some sort of thrill or something. I never tried to understand them, and didn’t care to start now.
Since my mind was still buzzed, I took in random details that weren’t important. Like how the junkie’s hand was a keen give away for when she was agitated (it twitches). And how she stood close to her master, almost protectively. Or how Nimue’s grayish white hair and auburn eyes made her seem much older than she really is. Between the details, I managed to listen to bits and pieces of the conversation between Nimue and the vampire.
“Rookie murdered… Elders angry…. blood…” That last word caught my attention but the buzz worked on my mind until the thought was gone. And with it went my worries. In the distance I heard glass shatter ad then darkness threatened to envelope me once more. This time however, I gladly embraced it. The last thing I heard before I passed out was the junkie’s terrible, horrifying scream.
I was in a deep forest, lit only by faint moonlight. Walking aimlessly, I went deeper and deeper into the trees. Everything faded to black. Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of white light. I was nowhere and everywhere, there and not. A figure came towards me. It looked like Aiken, but his wings were black as night and white as snow.
“Aiken? Is that you?” I whispered the words, but he heard me and came towards me faster.
“Welcome to my world. Some call it the forever or never zone. I was hoping you would arrive soon. You should know better than to keep a man like me waiting. Now what can I do for you?” the man did a fancy sort of bow and I rolled my eyes. I never had been impressed with ‘gentlemen’.
“Kind of hoping you could tell me that. After all, you seem to have an agenda of your own. Last thing I knew, I was in a vampire bar. So what exactly am I here for?” I questioned. I walked away, knowing ‘Aiken’ would follow.
“Don’t you know? This is where dead witches come. Don’t worry your pretty little head though; your visit is only temporary. They’ll be here for you soon. They’ll take you back into your world,” he paused, then continued. “Look at that, they’re here now. Can’t you hear them? Smell their potions and herbs? One more thing before you go…. Don’t you think it would be better for everyone if you stayed…?”
I jolted awake, falling off my fancy silk bed and onto the floor. Nimue was instantly next to me, urging me to take an herbal potion that she had fixed. I took it, and while I felt better, I said nothing and tried my best to look emotionless. I knew there was fear in my eyes though, and while Nimue saw it, she didn’t mention it and left me to change.
As I pulled on my school outfit, I replayed the dream in my head. But I guess it wasn’t a dream was it? Was it a prophecy? Whatever, I’m calling it a dream. It’s supposed to tell me something, right? But what?
Nimue knocked on my door a few minutes later and I opened it for her. She examined me up and down in search of a weapon, and in finding none she urged me to get packed for school. Not wanting to put up a fight, I complied, shoving books and binders into a tote bag. I slung that over my shoulder, packed up my laptop and headed for my window. I didn’t feel like arguing with mother, so I shimmied down the trunk of the oak tree close to my window. I then started the dreaded walk to school.
As I neared the school parking lot, I took in details that I normally wouldn’t have. I’m turning into a pansy. Since when do I care about my school? Still, I stared at it. It was as if I was looking at it for the first time, and I didn’t like it. The school was painted blue and silver which normally wouldn’t be bad, but the paint was chipping and fading revealing old red brick. There was a rusty plaque that hung loosely on the front of the school reading Danvour High. Founded in 1886.
The sound of a rusty motorcycle made me clear my head and turn. I faced a guy with short rusty golden hair, and deep baby blue eyes that for some reason made me want to swoon. He smiled slightly, then shoved me away from him. I stumbled but stayed on my feet, much to the boy’s surprise.
After everything that had occurred yesterday, I couldn’t concentrate very well. Not to mention the fact that I was still beating myself up about letting my guard down with the rusty haired boy. So finally when the lunch bell rang, I packed up my books and my laptop and hauled the bag over my shoulder. I walked outside, shielding my eyes against the bright noontime sun. The soft green grass looked inviting, so I found a spot underneath my favorite tree and sat under its shade.
I pulled out my laptop and began to type. It was nothing in particular; I just enjoyed the feeling of the keys on the pads of my fingers. I pulled up my story file and searched until I found my current story. I loved the way my head filled with the ideas, even though I knew the stories would never It was almost like a movie playing out in my head and I picked out bits and pieces and formed them into the story.
There was a light tap on my shoe, and I looked up lazily, expecting to see one of the popular girls who would tell me off. Standing tall above me was the guy who had shoved me earlier. But all I could see was the knife he held slightly higher than the top of my head. I ducked and rolled behind the tree, making my whole body ache. The boy chuckled at me. Warily I came out from my position behind the tree. He tilted his head towards the tree, as if daring me to look at it. I unwilling glanced at it. There, carved in the neatest handwriting I had ever seen, sat the word Evernot.
I looked up into his baby blue eyes. I saw no emotion there, but it just seemed to pull me closer to him. I somehow knew that he liked me, but not in a way any other boy had before. They were physical, only looking at the surface of me. He seemed to be staring at my soul, with his gorgeous eyes.
“What’s your name?” he asked, breaking the comforting silence. I tried to answer but the silence crept back in. I finally chocked out my name.
“What’s yours? I mean I guess I should probably know this sense we’re in the same grade and all but…” I mumbled, cursing my inability to talk to boys.
He stared at me for a while, smiled and said, “Daimek.” I repeated the name in my head, loving the way it rolled off my tongue. I smiled softly, but suddenly the knife he had held over top of my head just minutes before. My smile vanished, but if Daimek noticed, he didn’t say anything.
He squatted down and gathered my laptop in his arms. I started to object, but in one swift motion he slung it towards the tree. I watched helplessly as it shattered upon impact of the tree.
I stared at him in horror. Daimek continued to beat it against the tree until it hung in shards in his hand. He turned like he was going to walk away, but he seemed to have an afterthought and turned back around.
“Get your head out of the clouds and focus Nairi,” he yelled. Satisfied, he turned on his heel and walked away. My eyes followed him until he was out of sight. Slowly once I knew he was gone I began to pick up the pieces, until it occurred to me that bringing the pieces back to my house would do nothing. Instead, I left them there, right under that tree. Right under the carving, Evernot.
After the confrontation with Daimek, I couldn’t focus on anything. So I decided just to ditch the rest of my classes and head home. It would take too long to walk there; it was a five minute walk, so I took advantage of my new powers for the first time and teleported. Instead of landing in my house, I began to free-fall.
Instincts took over, and I began to turn in mid-air so as to reduce the damage to myself. But just as I was going to turn onto my back, I hit the ground hard on my stomach. I lied there for a while, but after a while I forced myself up and looked around.
The place was like nothing I had ever seen before. The grass was soft and inviting, but a shade of black so deep you could see the subtle blue in it. The flowers were either a sharp red, or an extremely light black. In fact, everything in this place was red, black, or gold. I began to trudge along a golden brick path, yes I know it’s from the Wizard of Oz but this was different, and when I came to the end of the path I gasped.
There in front of me stood a fountain. Its design was breathtaking, from the doves spiraling towards the sky, to the intricate symbols that flowed on the marble. The water shot up through the center of the doves, it contrasting all of the colors in the area. It was crystal blue, the kind of water you only dreamed about seeing.
Behind me, a familiar voice taunted, “You just couldn’t stay away could you? You must really find me interesting. Even when you don’t realize you are, you’re coming back to this place. Back to me,” he smiled a cocky smile and grabbed my arm tightly.
I didn’t bother to turn around, I just spat in his general area. “I’m no one’s property, so unless you would like to lose that arm, I suggest you release me,” I snarled at him. He just held on tighter with one of his wings pushing me closer to him. I flipped a knife off of my free arm and attacked. He jumped back, cursing.
“Get out of here!” I stood my ground. “Get out!” he screamed again, and a bright light enveloped me. Next thing I knew, I was back in my room, drenched in sweat. It was midnight, the hunting hour of the creatures I swore to kill. I began to dress in my hunting gear, but I noticed Nimue in a corner and stopped. She pointed to my window, an odd look haunting her striking features.
I crossed my bedroom to the window in a hurry. I threw it open, and I saw two things: I saw Daimek standing next to a baby blue Ferrari, and I saw Aiken with his wings fully outstretched and I look matching Nimue’s. I realized with a start that I had to choose one. Aiken stretched out his hand, and I took it without hesitation. He half smiled and we set off into the sky leaving Daimek alone and confused. I smiled too with the thought.
The crisp night air made my cheeks flush with color. I hadn’t noticed before how colorful Aiken’s wings were, or how powerful they were. He seemed to have no problem at all carrying the two of us.
“Do you realize what he is? What he has done in his time? Of course you don’t, you don’t know half of what I know. He is a… He’s a hellhound,” Aiken said, then waited. I didn’t need to ask who it was we were talking about, I just knew.
For a long time, Aiken’s wings beating were the only thing that kept it from being dead silent. But after a while I sucked in my pride and answered him, “So what does that have to do with me? It sounds like this is your problem. Why do you care anyway? You almost killed Jill and I, and you don’t care enough to tell us why! You’re just as bad as him!” I shouted, failing all of my efforts to keep my cool. The tension seemed to build around us. I began to apologize for losing it, but stopped myself.
Aiken shifted his wings slightly and we began to descend. As we neared the ground, Aiken wrapped his arms tighter around me. We hit the ground kind of hard, but Aiken didn’t notice and didn’t release me. He leaned in close enough to where I could feel his breath on my face. I resisted the odd urge to kiss him, and we stood there, our foreheads pressed against each other’s.
Suddenly, Aiken pulled me closer to him. Our lips touched, rough at first, but the kiss softened quickly. I leaned into him, hoping he understood that it was ok. He pulled away, his face an expression of pain. I protested slightly but he silenced me. “I hate to ruin this moment, but I have to explain things. You of all people deserve that. First let me explain about Daimek. Like I said before, he’s a hellhound, but it’s more of your problem than you think. Daimek was hired to kill you. But unless he is in his true hound form, the legend can’t come true.”
“What legend?” I asked, feeling stupid.
“Well, it’s not exactly a legend; sadly it’s very true. If you see Daimek three times in his true form, you will die a horrible and gruesome death. No matter who you are,” Aiken sighed and turned away. “Now I guess I need to tell you about who I am, and where I came from. It will all make sense soon.”
“As crazy as it sounds, my story starts with Jill’s. You see, she was taken as a young child, most likely no more than three. She was taken to the Institution where she was injected with her first dose of a white tiger’s DNA. Over the next few years every day she was injected with more DNA. At five she got her strength and speed, and at six she got her tail and everything else. That was the way it went at the Institution. She was no different from any of the other children they took. Except that her body began to reject the change.” He sighed heavily, and I resisted the urge to tell him to get to the point. Long stories never did anything for me, but I settled back down as he continued his story.
“The doctor took her in. She was kept away from all of the kids in fear that she would catch a disease or something. Well, all of them but me. You see when I was ten they kidnapped me. I was from the Daganya witch clan. I was to join the ranks of the guard that year, to join my family in protecting our royal family. They infused my DNA with that of a toucan’s. Since my body was so strong and reacted well to the infusion, no diseases stuck on me. So I was actually good for Jill. The doctor liked that, so he allowed me to see her twice a day.
“We always talked about my old life. We were cautious around the doctor, but when we were sure that we were alone, we would talk openly about escaping the mad house. But after a while, we got careless about talking about it. The doctor overheard one day, and he was pissed. He told Jill that she was worthless, and that he would kill her. He beat Jill, then me, and then left.
“We planned our escape for early the next morning. Planned it very well I might add,” Aiken smiled and continued explaining, “That night I couldn’t sleep at all. In my cramped bed in the room with my five other winged roommates, I tossed and turned, and half expected the doctor to come and kill me while I was sleeping. But morning came, and I met with Jill in the training area. It was filled with tall, extremely thin plateaus. So thin, that if two people tried to stand on one, it would collapse on its self. You would plummet down into the unforgiving waters. Let’s just say that casualties were very common. Expected, even. But Jill had to cross those plateaus so we could get to safety,” he grimaced.
“Anyway, we started off. Jill leaped from platform to platform. I took to the skies, scoping the area. I didn’t notice them until it was too late. Something whizzed by my ear and Jill screamed. I spun to face them, expecting to see tranquilizer guns in their hands. Instead, I saw rifles and pistols. Not only that, but the people shooting at us weren’t the staff. They were children, just like us. The freaks had turned on the failure and her accomplice. And as Jill and I were a little too aware of, they shot to kill.
“The plateaus were getting weaker and weaker. Jill could only stay on them for at most three seconds. I spotted a cliff in the distance, and instantly knew what I had to do. It was a risk, for I had never attempted to fly while holding anyone. But if we were to survive, I had to try. I gathered Jill into my arms and flew to it, swerving to avoid the bullets.
“We made it and hid in a crevice of the cliff. The mutants with wings- the Sky Force as they liked to call themselves- were deployed and were searching the cliff. Each had his or her talons out, and each had a rifle tried to their wrist. Some gripped it in their talons, some let it hang, but the result was the same. Death to anyone in their path. We hid in that crevice all night. Neither of us spoke or looked at each other. Instead, we watched the silhouettes pass over the cliff, sucking in our breath when one got a little too close for comfort.
“A shadow came close to us. We silently crept farther into the crevice, knowing this particular shadow had spotted us. Our effort to hide had come too late. The silhouette, a girl, came closer to us. She knew where we were, but she was in no particular rush. We weren’t going anywhere, and she knew it. ‘Come on out Jill. It’s you we want, not him. He is of no use to us, but you, you need us. Just like we need you,’ she taunted us. The girl stepped out of the shadows. She was higher than us, so she gracefully jumped. Her wings drafted her upward, and she angled them expertly so she would descend. She landed on the edge of the crevice.
“’Hello, Jill. Hello, Aiken. You didn’t really think you could run did you?’ she continued to taunt us as she edged forward. I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to. I hesitated, but I hid my arm behind my back and let my talons come out. Just a quick swipe of my talon, and her throat sliced open. Her blood splattered across me, Jill, and the wall of the crevice. It was over so quick, I almost allowed myself to believe I hadn’t done it. But as she fell backwards, her wings outstretched but doing nothing but hanging limply, I cried out slightly. She was my first kill. I didn’t even hear her body hit the water. But I knew it did. Jill and I found land the next morning, and she left me there. And we thought that moment was the last. Guess we were wrong.”
“I learned after we escaped that they had put a microchip into my head that makes me attack everything that they tell me to. It was activated when I made my first kill, but I hadn’t known that then. Jill took it out, but its effects are still there. That’s why I attacked you.” Aiken stared at me, searching my face for a hint at what I was thinking. He found only horror and disbelief.
“I don’t think I can believe that Aiken. I’ve been lied to many times in my life. I just can’t trust you completely yet,” I stuttered.
“Answer me this. Why would I attack you if I was sent to protect you?”
“So you’re telling me that you’re here to protect me? Even though I’ve been fighting and more importantly killing vampires since I was eight? Something’s wrong with that statement,” I said sarcastically. Aiken and I had flown back to my house and we were now, with some coaxing, conversing in my room.
“Hellhounds are much different than vampires. Their fighting style is much different. It’s more complex, one wrong move and you’re dead,” Aiken stated like it was common knowledge. “I’ve been trained to fight them so I could protect you.”
“Well then teach me. I refuse to sit around like a damn damsel in distress,” I commanded. Aiken ferociously began to pace the length of my room.
“Are you sure? It takes hours-“
“Try me. I think you’ll find I’m a quick learner. And besides, I like a challenge. Come with me to the garden. We can start the training tonight. Sounds like I might need it soon.” I had already turned on my heel and walked out of the room. I knew he’d follow, but I wished he wouldn’t. But sure enough, I heard his footsteps behind me and I cursed silently. We reached the garden and I whirled around, flipping one of my daggers off its holster in the process. He lazily knocked it out of my hand, catching me off guard with his speed and strength.
He was carrying what looked like knights armor, but it was modified to fit a woman. He twirled my dagger in his hands with grace, so much so that you would believe it belonged to him. Aiken handed me the armor and grunted something about my safety. I pulled it on reluctantly over my hunting outfit, and flipped another dagger off my boot. He shook his head. Instead, he handed me a long sword.
“Daggers won’t work against hellhounds. Even if you’re able to hit them, the next moment will be your last. Swords cover much more area. If you can handle them correctly they’ll be faster as well. Now put on the rest of the armor so I can attack you,” Aiken barked the order. I complied, even though my head wasn’t exactly in the right place to fight.
The armor fit tightly on my body. It was as if it was made for my body. I smiled slightly at the thought. Aiken attacked me head on first. I easily dodged his blows, maneuvering around him quickly. It was beginning to bore me. But as he picked up the speed, I saw why I needed training.
He stood before me one second, then the next he was behind me. I spun, swinging my sword hard enough to hurt but not to maim. I hit nothing but air. Daimek however, was up in a tree. He leaped down on me, claws morphing mid-air into claws, and I toppled over. Desperately I tried to get up, but his claws were lodged into my armor. I sliced at his feet, cutting him before he managed to get away.
He pounced again, but I was ready for his weight this time. Still, I staggered slightly and he used the moment to swipe my feet out from underneath me. I looked up at him, and he smiled. He sat himself on my chest so I couldn’t get up and slowly began to morph. Aiken was screaming, but he was too late. I gazed at the hellhound sitting atop me, then blood splattered my vision. I closed my eyes and the darkness tugged me down hard. That’s once.