Lost souls

Talia has to make the biggest sacrifice, abandon her humanity to become a vampire in order to save her sister. However she gets caught up in the dark side of the realm where supernatural creatures dwell and she must try to survive ...

The amazing cover is by the talented @River_Summers :)

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14. Chapter fourteen

Talia was running down the hall; regret and confusion battered her with one trying to overpower the other. She stopped lost in the halls of the palace, the windows had turned a solid black, blocking out the deadly sun’s rays and the palace was on complete lockdown. She had found out this when she tried to open a door to the outside in an attempt to escape Xavier.

   She leaned against the glass and slide down it in defeat, her head falling into hands. She wasn’t upset or angry, in fact what had driven her from Xavier’s room after they made love was the idea of happiness. Actually not necessarily happiness that was still too abstract a concept for Talia in the present moment but he was a comfort. For it to bloom like a beautiful flower but she knew it could also wilt and she could not deal with that possibility. But they needed comfort, needed someone to stop them drowning in their loneliness.

    After the kiss, he had taken her to the one of the towers that- he insisted- had the most wonderful view and that to see someone’s first reaction to its magnificence was just as wonderful. He explained as they climbed the spiral staircase that many vampires had lived so long that the view no longer amazed and it seemed as if they were just seeing a mundane view of a tired old city which failed to surprise any more. Xavier admitted he was guilty of this himself but was excited to show Talia a precious sight, to see amazement light her eyes, a moment that could not be re-created. That was true the moment was a treasure stored away in Talia’s memory now, to be reflected upon in private.

    “Talia close your eyes,” Xavier said. She hesitated and narrowed her eyes at the heavy wooden door. “Please or the surprise will be ruined.” 

   Reluctantly she followed his orders and felt the slight breeze from the outside and walked forward until he said “Stop.”

    She put her hands out to touch the smooth stone and he removed his hands. The sight was majestic with so many treasures twinkling at once she had to take her time to inspect each one individually. 

  The houses appeared as a jumbled collection of light brown squares and rectangles with smoothed down edges and corners, reminding her of the wooden square toys you had as a child which you would try to match to the shape on a board. The little rivers of cobbled streets were lined with old-fashioned looking oil lamps that were powered by electricity, showing that bizarre mix of old and new technology infused together in this place. The people appeared as funny matchstick men not quite close enough to seem real but not so far that they appeared as dots moving around on a page. The mountains appeared purple and green circling the seemingly small city like giants crouched down, ready to strike and devastate the city at the first intake of breath. Their backs were highlighted in the chaotic glow of the stars above in their individual glittering galaxies of diamonds that threw out shards of many colours; gold, green, blue, purple, yellow. The stars were chained to this endless dance. The city below almost appeared as a pool of melted gold shimmering gently, the giant’s treasure perhaps that is why they surrounded this city, Talia thought.

    She felt Xavier lean closer, his hot breath against her cheek.

    “Beyond those mountains is an endless desert,” he whispered, in her ear.

    “It can’t possibly be endless,” Talia replied.

    “Maybe not, but it might as well be.” He nuzzled her neck and she closed her eyes. “I was born in one of the desert tribes, slavers from the human world took my mother and me away to be sold as slaves in the human realm but someone helped us escape and I grew up in this city as a witch, bound for great things until I fell.”

    “That sounds familiar,” Talia said, turning round to face him, leaning against the barrier. “It seems we are all bound for greatness when born, in small or big ways until we disappoint of course then someone else is bound for greatness. It goes on and on.”

    “I think people should stop insulting the fallen, there are many of us and there are few true saints,” Xavier said. His breath slowed and he went to press his lips to hers but she put her hand up to block his advance. His brow creased and he retreated.

   “I’m not sure about this,” Talia said, her hand dropped slowly to her side. “I think you are lying or being so vague it’s hardly truth, I just know.”

   Xavier sighed. “I’m not lying.”

   “I get the feeling you tell all the girls about your escape and show them this view,” she replied, twisting a clip in her hand and it released a huge tumble of her hair and began to loosen the other clips.

    “Maybe I do or you’re wrong.” He walked forward, carefully like he was testing the boundaries and Talia released the last of her hair. She relaxed her tense shoulders and Xavier moved close to her again. “I’m vague because I’m too ashamed, I do deceive people about me if I can, especially people like you who don’t know my story.”

    Talia dropped the clips over the side and ran a hand through her hair. “Was it that bad?”

   “Yes,” he whispered.

   “Tell me please.”

   “I chose the dark magic, I hurt others for my own ambitions,” Xavier replied, shuddering. “Arrogance and ambition pushed me to summon a demon, and yes demons do exist unfortunately Talia, it went wrong and it possessed me. I killed a close friend.” He gulped loudly and covered his mouth like he was going to be sick. He shook his free hand in the air to dismiss her concerns. “I can’t think about it too much or I will be sick, some protection mechanism against demon.” His chest heaved and his hand clamped harder down on his mouth.

    Talia touched his arm lightly. “It wasn’t your fault.”

   “I started it, that’s enough,” he said, slowly removing his hand from his mouth. “Do I deserve another chance?”

   “Yes, we both need somebody,” she said, admitting her loneliness that was starting to weigh her down like a lead weight.

   “I do like you Talia,” Xavier said. “I want you to make your decision about me, I don’t want to-”

   She kissed him on the lips.

  

“I should go back to him, say I went to get breakfast, maybe grab him a coffee or something,” she thought, although she was unsure about whether they had coffee here. Did he even like coffee? She shook her head it did not matter, it’s the thought that counts.

   She still sat there.    

   A long time passed and the staring-into-space routine was broken by a vampire passing by, an old woman who gave Talia a quizzical look and moved on without a single word.

   “I will never be old,” Talia whispered. She got up and leaned against the glass, her chest grew tight like her ribs were shrinking and breaking into each other.

   She thought of Ella growing up but it was difficult to picture as she would always will be eighteen in her eyes, maybe she would get married and have kids of her own one day. Talia smiled at that future until the blank green eyes of the woman she had first killed in Xavier’s home interrupted.

   “I will never be old and so will the woman I killed!” she cried, grabbing locks of her hair and yanking until she threatened to scalp herself. “Because of that witch Xavier, made me kill her!” She saw the woman’s lifeless body being unnaturally limp and heavy and her skin crawled at the thought of him touching her. Finally her sister’s blank eyes stared back at her and the smudge of vampire blood at the corner of her mouth was glaring bright red.  “Ella, oh Ella!” Talia moaned.

  She ran away from the memory like it was a beast charging after her, and swung round a corner. She saw a flash of golden hair with its spikes resembling golden knives.

   “Matthew,” she said, feeling an agonising ache in her chest that crept up her throat. She moved forward with the walls whirling past at a sickening speed that made her vision rattle about like a shaky camera. Her nails dug into the wall like an anchor in a seabed steadying her to a stop. Two wavy outlines of figures appeared as two columns in her vision.

    “Where’s Matthew?” she demanded.

   The reply was a rusty mechanical laugh that resonated from deep within the figures that regained more of their solid form; one woman and one man. “Tell me please, I have to see him,” Talia said, her voice wavering.

   “Piss off newborn,” the woman’s high-pitch screech said, along with the loud click of a lighter.

   Talia focused on the silver lighter with the tip of its tongue licking the end of the cigarette hanging out of the corner of her mouth with lips so pale they almost appeared invisible, fading into the sickly yellowish tone of her skin. The woman’s murky green eyes stared at her and glanced to her companion, a man with the same eyes, sunken cheeks and a hooked nose.

   “Hey, is that the mad prince’s newborn?” the man said, chewing the inside of his cheek.

   The woman laughed. “Oh yeah, I guess he’s finished with the humans, disgusting, fucking unnatural hanging around cattle.” She removed her cigarette and spat on the floor at Talia’s feet.

   Talia was disgusted and enraged by a stupid grin on the man’s face in approval of the act. She stood up properly and glared at the pair.

   “You’ll not do that or I will tell the Queen,” she said.

   “Ooo the Queen, what she going to do? She employs us,” the man said, crossing his arms over his chest.

   “The Queen,” the woman echoed dramatically, and cackled.

   Talia was angered and felt humiliated by the vampires

    “If you insult me, you insult the Queen,” she replied.

    “If you’re trying to be a Darina wannabe you better give up because she has no friends,” the woman said, sucking the last of the cigarette to ash.

   “I am not friends with Darina!” Talia said, repulsed by the assumption.

   “Good you learn fast,” she replied, crumbling the cigarette in her hand. “Shame you’re with the mad prince eh?”

   That was the spark needed to translate the rage into violence. Talia’s muscles unleashed the strength she had never tried or known to have, almost swatting the male vampire to the side and gripping the woman by her throat, digging so tightly her nails scrapped the vertebrae of her neck. The other hand was buried in her chest and held the cold, clammy muscle of her heart in her hands. The blood was squirting out and drenching Talia’s dress. The woman’s eyes were alive with fear. It made Talia laughed gleefully as the woman’s eyes were like those people in shock after being the butt of a prank that had made them jump out of their skin.

   “You dare insult me or Matthew and I will make you pay,” Talia whispered in her ear and pulled back to see Ella held in her grip.

    She screamed and let go of the woman after Ella’s image had disappeared. She continued to shake, cry and smile manically in between at the gasping vampire who was dragging herself away to safety. The other vampire had disappeared maybe to alert the others of Talia’s crime.

***

Talia fumbled with the key to unlock her room’s door but the key wouldn't go in. She forced the key in with a loud snap like the lock inside had broken and stumbled inside. Her mind tracked on one thought; get to the pantry. She placed the key on the side where it fell clanging on the floor but she didn’t stop to pick it up. The cool refrigerated air was welcoming and she clawed down a rack of blood bags so they fell to the floor, some splitting and painting it.

    She drank from some of the unopened bags and sat there with thoughts flitting through her head, breaking the relief of temporary silence with Ella and the nagging question of was she okay? Ella had always been her Mum’s double with her pretty fair looks whereas Talia was told she had inherited her Dad’s like his nose supposedly according to her Mum and then her Auntie afterwards.

   “Dad, you abandoned us and gave me a fucking crooked nose,” Talia thought, tracing a finger down the bridge of her nose. She heard the door open and she stared expectantly into the room, waiting for Matthew to appear.

   “Who’s broke in here!” Seth shouted, and his lumbering frame came into view with his nostrils flaring until he saw Talia sat in the blood. He regained a calmer composure and walked towards her. He stopped at the open pantry door. “Talia what happened? Are you alright?” 

    She giggled and shook her head, half-answering the question with the shake of her head and scolding herself for giggling, what the hell was wrong with herself? Going into the wrong room and enjoying the chaos? It was like she was…

   Seth had entered the pantry. He sat down beside her and was unfazed by the blood.

   Talia laughed and pointed at him.

   “What’s funny?” he asked impatiently, in that way when they had been worried sick about someone but it turns out they were fine all along.

   Talia grinned that signature Matthew smirk. “You’ll look like you had a little accident when you stand up because of the blood soaking into your trousers.” She laughed and covered her mouth to smother it when she saw Seth’s angered expression. She took her hand away and left a bloody hand print across her mouth.

   Seth placed a hand on her shoulder and leaned in closer. “You’re not him,” he said, his hand slipped from her shoulder. “You’re not him.”

   “Who?” Talia asked.

   “Matthew,” Seth replied, pausing for a moment to phrase his next response. “Tasha said that when you’re a newborn you’re dependent on your sire, like Matthew, meant to help you survive the first years of your life. You follow some of their orders even if ya don’t want to, depend on them for emotional stuff and you mimic their behaviour, all a survival thing, doesn’t make you who you are.”

   Talia glanced down at her bloody hands and grinned that smile which felt fake, belonging to someone else like Matthew. A strong desire to wash herself clean of blood gripped her suddenly and she closed her eyes tightly to avoid her stained hands.

   “Where’s Matthew? Where’s Tasha?” she whispered, keeping her eyes close and squirming at the flaky texture of dried blood.

    “Matthew, urmm, Matthew’s in custody being questioned ‘bout what happened to the nest in the human realm, Tasha’s gone to see him she’s pissed off about us leaving the ball early last night, could’ve done something to help she says, but it wouldn’t have made much difference apart from putting us in jail too.” Seth sniffed loudly and narrowed his eyes at Talia. “What’ve you done?”

   “I have done nothing,” she replied, pursing her lips and diverting her gaze.

   “I smell vampire blood under the human blood, what you done?” he demanded more clearly.

   Talia tugged at a strand of her hair nervously. “I didn’t kill her, I didn’t kill her.”

   “Who?”

   She shrugged. “A woman who was just there and she was horrible to me and wouldn’t tell me where Matthew was?” Talia stood up, looking at the open door. “I need to see Matthew.”

   “You can’t.”

   “I will!”

   Talia stormed over to the door and felt Seth grip her arm tightly.

   “Let me go!” she shouted, pulling and scratching at his arms to reveal gashes in his skin that healed as quickly as they appeared.

   “You can’t see him right now, please stay, have some blood, clean yourself up, rest,” he said, carefully so he didn’t offend her and to sound calm but he had a glimmer of a frown on his face. “You’re not close to Matthew, you blame him for being a vampire, why would you want to spend time with him?”

   The question confused Talia, crumbling her fragile need to find Matthew, she was reminded he was the root cause of her misery whether he meant to hurt her or not. She struggled with her rising bitterness and desperation for seeing her sire again, and finally tucked away underneath was her feelings for Xavier. Was he wondering where she was? Was he searching for her?

   “I don’t know anymore,” she replied. “I need to leave and try to see him, I just need to do something and I have to get away.” She pulled more roughly and Seth loosened his grip.

   “Talia,” he said, and clutched his side where his shirt had gone see-through with a pus-like substance spreading a sickly yellow stain across his light-coloured shirt.

    “I’ve hurt you,” she said, recoiling from him in fear of inflicting more pain upon him.

    “No, no, I’m just going through one of those phases where you get sick then better, just a side-” Seth’s eyes became unfocused for a moment and he slipped away for a couple of seconds. “Just side-effect,” he slurred.

   “I’m making you sick, I hurt people like hurting them myself or through bad luck with you and those hunters,” she said, her heel grazed the step of the pantry.

    Seth’s eyes seemed to swell up with fear and slowly he slid down to the floor as his energy dissipated.

    Talia stopped in her retreat and rushed to his side with an urge to help him even if she blamed herself, maybe she could do something. The bottle of disgusting medicine he had before was needed and maybe he still had some stored away.   

   “Where’s your medicine Seth?”

   His eyes were blank, the light was dim in them like he had curled up deep within himself, had hid in the depths of his soul to protect himself. She shook him lightly and tapped his face to get his attention. All she got in response was a pitiful moan and a short spasm shook his body dying the sickly yellow with blood.

    “Help, help!” Talia shouted repeatedly. She laid him down on his side and saw more yellow pus and blood seeping from his nose, eyes and ears. He was moaning and spluttered out a single word over and over that broke Talia’s heart. “Tasha.”

   “I’m going to find Tasha and Xavier to help you,” she promised, slipping away from him and out of the pantry. She heard people coming and hid behind the open wardrobe door; frightened that she would be arrested for assault or attempted murder. Of course Talia knew that may be inevitable but she had to find Xavier to help Seth with some magic or medicine before that happened.

   She spied through the slit where the hinges attached the door to the body of the wardrobe as she waited for help to enter.  It was the Queen’s guards that drifted through and it was evident from the swords that were drawn that they had come to arrest her or it was an execution. The metal made her feel light-headed and the metallic smell mingling with the warm sweet sick emanating from the pantry was revolting.

   She crept round with her eyes boring into the back of the vampire’s shiny silver helmets waiting for the last moment to turn away and dart to the front door. Seth was hidden from view but he was as silent as the guards now.

    Talia ran with her footsteps barely gracing the floor and her hand caught the handle and she ripped it off with the wood splintering and tearing like paper. She wrenched the door open and felt a hand close around her upper arm. Talia twisted round and smashed the broken handle into the vampire’s face rearranging his features to accommodate the handle. She wasted no more time fighting and fled down the hall.  

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