No Use Crying Over Spilt Blood

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Portal Keepers Book 2 (The sequel to 'Would You Like Brains With That?').
Danira travels back to the Realm of the Undead to stop humans being used as blood-slaves.

Cover by Zillah Designs.

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35. Murder and Hurt

 

      The ball was being hosted at one of the Vampire Lords estates. I had thought that Nevrac’s mansion was luxurious, but this was something else completely. My comment about the Vampire Lords being the equivalent of the Royals had been spot on. After not being met by the host of the ball at the front door like we usually were, we went straight through to the ballroom. From the brief glance I risked upwards when Zara, Todd and I followed Nevrac into the ballroom, I was blown away. It was like we were in an actual palace. I wondered if one of the former Vampire Lords had lived here. The crowd of invited vampires were all gathering around a stage that looked like it should have belonged in a theatre. Nevrac greeted several of the vampires he recognised before waiting near the front of the stage. I presumed that the Vampire Lords were going to make a big speech. All the vampires had their blood-slaves trailing after them and I knew immediately that this would not be a human friendly ball.

      Hearing Nevrac say Christian’s name, my heart skipped a beat and my gaze swept across the floor beside me to land on a pair of red sparkly high heels. Anger flared within me. Stupid, perfect Aurelia. It was almost impossible for me to concentrate knowing that Christian and Aurelia were stood beside me. My blood was boiling in my veins and my jaw and hands were clenched as I fought to keep calm. It would not be good to do something foolish, especially not here.

      My ears caught a familiar voice and I shifted my eyes upwards to find Pegasus standing nearby. That was weird, hadn’t Leila said in the letter that Pegasus hadn’t been invited to the ball? I noted that neither Leila nor Scott were with Pegasus.

      Suddenly there was a fanfare from a hidden orchestra and my attention was drawn to the stage. Two regal looking male vampires, both of which were immaculately dressed in expensive clothes adorned with jewels and gold had appeared on the stage. There was no doubt in my mind as to the identity of the two translucent-skinned vampires. They were two of the Vampire Lords, but where was the third? It wasn’t just their appearances that assured me that they were the vampires that I had come to this retched realm to stop, it was also that everyone in the room hurried to curtsy or bow, which was what I did when I saw what was happening.

      The two Vampire Lords smirked revealing pearly fangs as their cold eyes scanned the room. One was willowy with straw-like blonde hair that fell to his chin, the edges of which looked razor-sharp. The other had ebony skin and curly, black hair which was pulled into a ponytail and fell to halfway down his back. The blonde vampire clicked his pale, trim fingers and the two burly vampires that Aidan and I had seen at the conveyor belt walked out, dragging a beaten male vampire in between them. They did work for the Vampire Lords then. Once they were near the front of the stage, the burly vampires forced the beaten vampire to his knees. The Vampire Lords sneered at him.

      When the ebony skinned Vampire Lord spoke his voice commanded the attention of everyone in the ballroom. “This traitor has been found to drink only animal blood. He will be executed as an example to any others who aren’t embracing their nature.”  

      Without any warning the blonde Vampire Lord staked the kneeling, beaten vampire who promptly burst into grey ashes. The vampires in the crowd started clapping and cheering. The humans, however, looked horrified which was exactly what I was feeling; horror. They had just murdered one of their kind as if it was nothing. What if the Vampire Lords found out that Ferriday and Pegasus weren’t “being true to their natures”?

 

      I was wrapped in my thoughts for the whole evening. Thoughts of so many things; Ridge, my parents and Christian, Aurelia, Luca and Ferriday, Pegasus and Nevrac, Lady Prenalla, Mireille’s emerald and the Infinity Blade, the portal and Gina. So it took me a while to realise that I was alone with Nevrac back in his estate in what appeared to be his bedroom. There was a massive four poster bed, and expensive looking furniture. The colour scheme was dull, just like the other rooms. 

      Nevrac was stood barely inches away from me, staring at me with his cruel, green eyes. “I know about Ferriday.” he told me, sounding amused.

      Dismay filled me. I didn’t see the point in denying it as that would only make Nevrac angry and I really didn’t want to do that. “Please don’t tell the Vampire Lords.” I begged.

      Smirking he licked his lips. “You would be surprised how much I know.” he trailed a fingernail around the nape of my neck. “Danira, daughter of the Portal Keepers,”

      I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak.

      Nevrac laughed harshly. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell the Vampire Lords who you are. I want you all to myself.” then shrugging off his suit jacket, he said. “Undo my shirt.”

      My hands were shaking as I lifted them to do as he ordered. As soon as I had unfastened the first button Nevrac bit me. He didn’t drink much. That happened every time I undid a button. My neck and shoulders were covered in fang marks by the time I had finished. 

      Sitting down on the bed, Nevrac leered at me with blood stained lips. “Take your dress off.”

      Tears joined my dress as it fell to the floor.

   

      I had never felt such agony before. It felt worse than when I had been sacrificed, but that memory had always been hazy for me. I hurt everywhere and I wondered if I was dying again. I couldn’t even open my eyes.

      “Hush, you’re safe now.” the voice came from far away.

      I tried to open my mouth to ask who it was but I couldn’t even do that. Then the pain became too much and I fell into the dark abyss of unconsciousness.

 

      I didn’t know how much time had gone by, but the pain had decreased to a bearable amount. I slowly opened my eyes. The light stung and I feared that I had become a vampire, but then I realised that my heart was still beating within my chest. As my eyes adjusted I saw that I was lying on a bed in a room devoid of any other furniture. Trying to sit up I cried out as pain blossomed to life within my body.

      Someone appeared at my side. Their face was hidden in the shadows. “Do you want to sit up?”

      “Yes.” I croaked my throat dry.

      Whoever it was helped me to sit up and I winced in pain.   

      “There you go, how’s that?” their face finally came into view as they sat down beside me on the bed.

      It was Xavier.

      “Stay away from me!” I cried scrambling to escape from the bedcovers.

      Spasms of pain rocked my body making my head spin. Xavier’s cold hands grasped my arms to stop me from falling off the bed. I hissed at the throbbing his touch caused. When he was sure that I was alright, Xavier let go of me. My eyes went to arms and a gasp of horror escaped my lips. One of my arms was broken and in a sling, but it was the sight of the many bite marks and bruises that shocked me the most.

      “It wasn’t me.” Xavier hurried to say. “I found you unconscious in the street yesterday. I thought... I thought you were dead.” his voice broke and he blinked away tears.

      Lifting up the duvet I saw that practically all of my body was coated in fang holes. Burns trailed up my legs.

      “You’ve got a broken rib as well.” Xavier whispered.

      That would explain why it hurt to breathe out too much.

      “Danira,” he said, stretching out to take my hand which I pulled out of his reach. “What happened? Who did this to you?”

      I eyed him warily. I couldn’t trust him, I knew that. For all I knew he had compelled me already.

      As if Xavier could read my thoughts, he said to me with shining blue-silver eyes. “I’m sorry for what I did to you. I was addicted to human blood. It made me act irrationally... I never meant to hurt you, Danira, never you, but it was all I could think about... it was under my skin and in my mind controlling my every thought. When would I feed next? Who would it be? What would it taste like?”

      I shuddered at his description. It reminded me of the nightmare where I had been a vampire.

      “Please, I just want to look after you. Who did this to you?”

      “It was Nevrac.” I answered, tears filling my eyes as the memories resurfaced. “Oh God,” a sob escaped my lips and I let my tears fall. “He... the things he did...”

      “Shh,” Xavier gently pulled me into his arms. “You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you.”

      Crying tears of grief and agony I hoped that was true but, seeing as it was Xavier, I knew it wasn’t. I pushed him away with what little strength I had, and attempted to get out of the bed. “I have to leave.” I muttered, getting unsteadily to my feet, and noticing for the first time that I was dressed in an oversized t-shirt.

      Xavier looked dismayed. “You can barely stand. Where are you going?”

      Ferriday’s estate, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. That was the plan anyway until the room tilted and I fainted.

 

      I awoke to the smell of food. My stomach growled in response and I slowly sat up. Xavier wasn’t in the room so I checked myself for fresh bite marks. There were none, which was a surprise, but a big relief.

      How much time had passed? The bruises and fang marks were only faint, and it didn’t hurt to breathe anymore, so it had to be maybe two days later. Dangling my legs over the side of the bed I examined my legs. The burns were red and sore. A memory of Nevrac holding a lighter over me surfaced in my head and I started crying.

      “Danira?” Xavier suddenly appeared and he sat down beside me. “It’s okay, he can’t reach you here.”

      I leaned against him, needing to be consoled. My chest ached as I became hysterical.

      “Hush, you need to calm down otherwise you will hurt yourself.” once I had stopped bawling my eyes out Xavier led me into the living room. He helped me to sit on the sofa before going into the kitchen and retrieving a bowl of something that was steaming and smelled really good. “Here you go.” Xavier smiled, handing me the bowl. “It’s vegetable soup. Careful, it’s hot.”

      Eating the soup, which was actually rather delicious, I inspected my surroundings. The flat was small and not very modern. There wasn’t much furniture.

      Xavier sat down beside me, careful not to jolt me. He was sipping from a mug of red liquid. “Animal blood.” he said, noticing me looking.

      “Does it help to control your thirst?” I asked, scratching at my sling.

      “Yes but it’s a constant battle not to drink human blood. I drink enough animal blood so that I am sated, but it isn’t as appetising and it makes me weaker. But after what I did to you... I vowed to never drink human blood ever again.”

      “Why didn’t you give me any vampire blood?”

      “I knew that you wouldn’t want me to.” he answered uncomfortably. “Not after the things I did to you.”

      “Thank you for the soup.”

      Xavier took the bowl from me and set it on the floor. “Is that better? Do you want to take a bath?”

      Nodding I got to my feet, wincing when I knocked my rib. “It was great, thanks. A bath would be wonderful.”

      Xavier ran me a hot bath and undid my sling to make it less complicated for me to undress. It was easier, but it still meant knocking my arm which hurt like hell. I slid into the bubbles and rested my broken arm on my chest, sighing in contentment. I scrubbed my skin as best as I could and soaked in the water until it was cold. It was when I was drying myself that I noticed that my collar was gone. Had it been Nevrac or Xavier that had removed it? If it had been Nevrac did that mean I was free? My key necklace and the emerald still hung at my neck. Scrunching my eyes against a wave of pain when I dried my legs, I wondered if I really could trust Xavier. He had broken my trust twice before, would he do it again? He seemed much more in control of himself now though. A mirror hung over the sink and I gazed at my reflection. My face seemed to have gotten off lightly compared to the rest of my body. Nearly healed scratches and bruises peppered my hollow cheeks. I was so gaunt that I looked half dead.

      Xavier hadn’t left any clothes for me, so I carefully wrapped a towel around myself before padding out of the bathroom into the hallway. Wandering around, I paused at the door of the study. I tilted my head. Something was making a low noise, almost like a hum. Water dripped from my hair and down my back as I gazed at the large wooden desk which had a small pile of books, papers and strangely, an axe on it. There was a bookcase as well, but I soon found my gaze dragged back to the axe. It seemed familiar but I knew that I had never seen it before in my life. The noise was coming from the axe. It was almost like it was calling me...

      “Nice bath?”

      I jumped and turned to see Xavier standing in the doorway, a pile of clothes in his hands. “Yes thanks,” I replied, pulling my towel closer around me when his eyes ran down my body.

      Xavier gestured for me to follow him and he led me to the bedroom. Placing the clothes on the bed he said. “These are the best I could get. They’re not very exciting, I’m afraid.”

      “They’re fine, thank you.” I smiled.

      “I’ll make you another sling when you’re dressed.”

      He left and I managed to put the clean pants, bra, jeans and socks on by myself, but I couldn’t get the t-shirt on. The oversized t-shirt I had been wearing before had been easy to slide off, but this one was tighter, making it painful when I attempted to put it on.

      “Umm, Xavier,” I called opening the door.

      “Yes?” his head popped into view and his eyes widened when he saw that my top half was bare apart from the bra.

      Blushing I said. “I can’t get the t-shirt on. Would you mind helping?”

      Xavier tried not to look as he assisted me, which I was very grateful for. It was excruciating but we eventually got my arm through the sleeve. Then Xavier fabricated another sling.

      “Thank you, Xavier. I really appreciate all you’ve done for me.” I told him.

      He gave me a sad smile. “It’s the least I can do after all I’ve done to you.”

      “Why did you move to the Castle?” I asked, brushing my wet hair from my face.

      Xavier shrugged. “It’s the most important place in the Realm of the Undead. It made sense for me to move here.”

      “Do you have a job so that you can afford to live here?”

      He gave a small smile as he replied. “I restore furniture. Fixing things was the only thing I was ever any good at when I was human.”

      Watching his face, I saw Xavier’s expression sadden. “My old owner, Ferriday, is an antiques dealer, you should contact him. I’m sure that he would be able to offer you some work.”

      Xavier nodded rather enthusiastically. “That would be good. Everything is so expensive here in the Castle.”

      “Would I be able to send him a letter? To make sure that he knows I’m alive.” I said.

      “Of course you can. I’ll get my next door neighbour’s blood-slave to deliver it.” Xavier told me.

      I tilted my head to the side. “Is that who you got to carry your letters?”

      He nodded.

      “I’m sorry about nearly staking you.”

      “It’s no less than I deserve.” Xavier replied.

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