Lost: Rose

Atwood Forest is untouched by the human world surrounding it. All they know is whoever enters, never returns...

Inside Atwood Forest there are one type of prey and one type of predator. The Vampire Hunter's are a race of magically blessed men and women who hunt and kill those who stray from the vampire fortress in the west of the forest. It is known that occasionally humans venture in the forest but not once has a Hunter ever been able to successfully save a human without losing their life.

A young girl is one day found on the boarder line of the Hunter and Vampire territory. She is without food, clothes, and shelter. When she is picked up by a group of Hunter's she is given the name Rose, due to a cryptic tattoo of roses embedding the skin of her back. She is without memory of who she is and where she'd come from. Trapped in a forest where a century-long war still rages on, she struggles to find the truth behind her existence in a world where everything is not as it seems...

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10. Debt

Laylan's last sentence rang through my ears like a loud siren though in reality it was the 'white noise' that pierced my ears to hear.

"What?" I barely squeaked out. A witch? All I could remember of witches were of Laylan joking one day I'd probably make one angry because of my 'stupidity' which didn't make me to happy, otherwise I knew nothing else of them. But somehow the mention of the word 'witch' sent a crawling, bad sensation up my spine.

"Vampire's can't have children so they made a deal with a witch so they could have you..." Laylan said watching my face which I guessed was going through a kaleidoscope of different expressions.

"What did they trade?" I whispered, gripping the edge of the bed scared of his answer. But he didn't. He just fell silent.

"What did they trade?" I asked again this time slower as I looked at Laylan my eyes wider with fright.

"A life" he whispered.

"Who's... theirs?" I asked. He shook his head.

"Mine?" he shook his head again before visibly swallowing an invisible lump in his throat before turning to me.

"The witch, Agatha was her name, decided that since they were immortal and their lives weren't worth that much in her eyes she'd take the life of someone completely innocent and unconnected to the situation..." Laylan began to explain,

"A human?" I cut in.

"A Hunter" he replied.

 

I froze. A Hunter. Now my time back at the Hunters village all made sense, why they hated me. Why people feared the vampires and what they seemed to be prepared to do to keep them out of their territory.

"Who...?" I'd barely whispered before Laylan began to answer that one all on his own.

"Her name was Nicolette, she was the wife of the southern chief village of the Hunters city" Laylan replied before I'd finished.

"Though the two clans of vampire and hunters were always on edge when it came to humans, the sudden disappearance of one of their most highly, trained hunters who held great honor set the whole war thing off balance really causing the up rise in killings of both vampires and hunters. They heightened their killings of vampires even though the killings of humans hadn't changed and well... Yeah"

"So I was the cause" I spat out the spite I felt against myself like venom dripping from my rosy, quivering lips.

"No, not the cause - you were of greater importance than the war of between us and the Hunters" Laylan said. I gave him a look of doubt, just because my parents wanted a kid they decided to take some innocent woman's life, start a war and somehow I was meant to believe that in all of this: I was more important than all the terrible things that were the cost for my existence.

"That's hard to believe" I muttered. Laylan didn't say anything for a moment before closing the book, and grabbing my hand got up and led me outside.

"I want to show you something..." he said gently.

 

Walking outside into the shades of the forest I followed Laylan obediently looking at him in wonder, wondering how I could have seen him as such a cold-hearted person even if he had been partially responsible for Zara losing her arm... Remembering that sent shivers up my spine.

"You weren't born a vampire" he told me gently as we neared a cemetery. I tried not to recoil at the sudden cold of the place as the trees cleared out to show a massive graveyard.

"Who gets buried here?" I asked confused at how there could possibly be so many graves for those who were immortal.

"'Their' kind" he answered gravely,

"The human kind". I saw the tomb stones and realized as we went along these must have been the graves of all the innocent humans who had disappeared in the forest, though they had died after obviously being savagely killed they had been given a grave. How sickeningly ironic. We neared the center of the graveyard as a large white-sandstone, grave appeared before us on top of it the statue of an angel holding an infant.

"What is this?" I asked my voice catching. Somehow I knew this was going to be bad... terrible even... Something I'd have a hard time understanding was about to smack me right in the face and boy was I not prepared. Stopping Laylan's hand left my own before he used his immense strength to turn the statue towards us. A crystal on the top of the statue caught the light of the sun and beams of white-light came reflecting off it spreading it's colourful light in streams across the previously gloomy graveyard. What shocked me the most, though, was not the crystal with the reflecting lights but was written in beautiful, old-English script elaborately carved into the tomb stone that was beneath the angles figure by her feet. My name.

"Valentina Ansel" I whispered.

"My family name was Ansel?" I asked my voice cracking as a flood of memories went through my mind, my loving parents who though on the front were the cold-hearted, royals of the vampire clan, were also the couple of which the woman showered motherly love upon me and the father held me close doing the same whilst protecting me from the evil that surrounded me.

"I was not human though" I said. It was a statement. The truth. I was not made a vampire child but a vampire who would age and eventually become immortal.

"I was a vampire..." I whispered, starting to feel sick.

"You weren't like us" Laylan quickly interjected glancing at me nervously, unsure of how I'd process it all.

"You couldn't drink blood from any animal. You neither drank blood nor ate human food, you didn't sleep, you never spoke..." Laylan was saying, and along with his words more memories were arising. Memories of pain and suffering, and an unquenchable thirst to live.

 

I was beginning to sob by the time I realized... My eyes were tearing up as I fell to my knees, Laylan reached out but I slapped his outstretched his hand away.

"Leave me" I whispered.

 

-flashback-

I woke up in pain my stomach growling as I struggled to move.

"Mum!?" I called out my voice burning my throat. The doors of my bedroom opened and my mother rushed in quickly,

"Honey are you okay?" she asked, her beautiful face creased with worry as she soothed her hand over my hair.

"It hurts mum" I whispered feeling the pain prickling through my body right down to my bones. Her face pinched up and I knew if she could she'd be crying. Struggling I lifted a hand to her cheek.

"Mum, don't worry. I'll get better" I assured her knowing we both knew it was a lie. I was going to die, somehow.

"Your father will get Agatha, honey, it will be fine" she tried to assure me but her voice shook. So unlike her usual firm, composed self. Her masked self that everyone else saw. But before me was a woman who seemed to have only one weakness... me.

 

The doors opened again and my father walked in his tall, slender frame bringing with him the cold of the outdoors. I closed my eyes savoring the temperature when it suddenly changed my eyes snapping open to meet those of a woman who followed him.

"Agatha..." my mother said, her voice firm and controlled once more.

"I can heal your daughter but this time the price will be far greater" the woman with dreadlocks falling to the ground said. Her hair was grey and her eyes were brown but shone golden in the dim lights of the room.

"What is the price?" my father asked cautiously,

"Whatever it is we can pay it" my mother added her voice snapped flippantly.

"Another's life and her own" Agatha said. I watched as my mother unsheathed her fangs and growled.

"Her immortal life" Agatha added, my parents exchanging glances.

"Her existence has been detested by many of the more powerful 'beings'..." she continued seeming unfazed.

"She will no longer be immortal" my mother said slowly turning to me she seemed so worried. I gave her a small, unsure smile.

"Who's the other person's life?" my father asked.

"The life of someone pure and innocent... a Hunter. Valentina was not born immortal, my magic though it is power, wasn't powerful enough to make her immortal. Curses have been sent towards her from other witches in envy and anger, she is protected for now. If she were immortal she would have never aged but there are loopholes" Agatha explained causing my mother to make an expression of disdain. Loopholes. Agatha had made me imperfect. Flawed. I seethed silently, angrily, how could she have made me imperfect. Did she not fear my parents?

 

"Fix it then" my father snapped angrily before leaving the room.

"Close your eyes and I will begin" Agatha said, I looked outside the window. The cold night air embedded within my bones as I slowly shut my eyes just as the sound of the war horn went off.

"Your father and I will be hunting tonight my previous rose, I will be back" my mother soothed brushing a hand through my hair before nodding at Agatha and taking off. Unsure of what to do I did as I was told, and kept my eyes shut.

"Now I want you to count in your mind backwards from 10..." Agatha said as she put her hands on my face.

'10, 9, 8...'

A shift in the air stole my breath. I did not squirm. Vampires didn't need oxygen. But then suddenly there was a burning in my chest. I kept my eyes shut even as I felt my lungs clench in pain, needing something I was physically unable to give it.

"You will wake and forget everything of your past, when you wake you will be human. A human transitioning back from vampire to human... You will not know this when you wake up. You will go to the Hunters and pay back your debt. Your life will now be their life. Only one will be able to grant you freedom... His name is..."

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