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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16. chapter Sixteen

“He didn’t hurt me, he didn’t try to hurt me,” Talia said, tracing circles in the grey dirt of another jail cell floor.

    “He would have stabbed you in the fucking heart, sweetheart,” Matthew replied.

    She paused at three-quarters of a circle and quickly dashed it away to dirt with her hand. A tear rolled down her cheek. He got up and wiped away the tear from her cheek, his sympathetic expression didn’t suit his features which made her angry. She pushed him away with both of her hands against his chest.

    “You stay away from me, pretend to feel sorry for me again and I will rip you apart, burn you to ashes and scatter the ashes into a hellish oblivion!”

    He fell backwards onto the floor.

   “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he said, wincing at the sharp pain in his cut and bruised mouth that dribbled blood. The scars and bruises on his face were not healing properly. Some enchanted silver weaponry they used on him during interrogation, or so he theorised anyway, that that was the cause of his suppressed healing powers. He was just like a human and Talia felt disgusted that she had raised a hand against him at his weakest point. What was she becoming?  

    “Incy wincy spider climbed up the water spout!” he sang, his eyes wondering along the wall. His hand darted out and grabbed a tarantula clinging to the wall. It wiggled its thick hairy legs at him franctically. “Down came the water and washed the spider out!” He shoved it into his mouth and swallowed with a loud gulp. He began to sing Incy Wincy Spider again.

    “I feel betrayed Matthew and the worst thing was that he tried to warn me he was evil,” Talia said, ignoring his odd behaviour. “I thought you were evil and he explained that you weren’t, I believe that now.”

    He focused on her and his expression was serious again. “I will revenge him for you because that is my favourite slice of sweet pie and why wait till it turns cold when you can have it steaming hot.” He grinned and his mouth split to make it comically bigger.

    “I want to carry out my revenge not you,” Talia replied, feeling her certainty in revenge was growing. “I want you to help me achieve it but I also want you to step away when I make him feel every hurt he has caused me and more.”   

***

“Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile don’t forget to scream!” Matthew shouted, and cackled so loudly that the guard clubbed him over the head repeatedly till the club was splintering over his head.

    “Stop it, stop it!” Talia screamed, clawing at the shiny silver metal covering the guard’s arm leaving deep scratches on its surface. She was dragged back by her chains by other guard, who was dressed in the same slim silver armour as his partner.

   “Kane, stop now,” her guard commanded. The guard Kane slowed in his movements and turned his blood-splattered, scowling face to them. Matthew was making chocking sounds and his half-grinning skull was shrouded in shadows.

   “We must deliver the prisoners on time and mostly intact,” he explained.

   Kane spat at Matthew who growled and lunged at him only to be deflected by a punch to his jaw. Talia growled in rage which received a slap from her guard, the action almost dislocating her bottom jaw and temporarily blinded her with black flashes in her vision.

   “Not much left of the mad prince,” Kane replied, hauling Matthew up by his tattered shirt collar. “Not much to begin with anyway.” He pushed him forward and shouted, “Move!”

   They were dragged through a low-ceiling dirty tunnel filled with faeces, rotting flesh and dried blood caking the floor and walls in streaks and lumps, a small scuttling and whine indicated the presence of rats. Talia gagged repeatedly with the foul fumes stinging her nose and eyes that made the ache in her sore jaw worse. Matthew had gone quiet until a bright light expanded in front of them. He cried pitifully and she wanted to comfort him so desperately she reached out to touch his shoulder but her hand was smacked away with a wooden club.  She growled at the guard. He shoved her forward into the ever expanding light.

    Talia fell on the step and was pulled up roughly by the guard. She squinted at the light that illuminated a large round room that was like those old operating theatres with vampires staring down at her instead of medical physicians wanting to learn about the human anatomy. They were not like the vampires she had seen before who would pass for human, these were rat-like humanoid creatures with a nose and mouth that melded together to give the appearance of a snout, the males had black bristles covering their chins, the females were completely hairless, their fangs protruded over their lips making them look like they were permanently growling hungrily at the prisoners beneath them. The sombre grey suits they wore made them appear sickly pale with a bluish tinge to their snouts, eyes and ears like dusty old corpses warmed up.

    “The trial will begin now,” Darina announced, and Talia’s eyes were drawn along the lines of the vampires to the Queen sitting at the head of the room in her proud and cold form. She stood up and bowed left and right to the strange vampires. “The True Order I welcome you to oversee the trial of Prince Matthew and Princess Talia on accounts of treason and conspiracy to betray the Crown. Along with their conspirator Natasha, former assassin to the Crown.”

   Three guards appeared in front of Darina dragging a thrashing form of Natasha who was strapped into a dirty white restraint jacket and her mouth had a gag tied around it to muffle her shouts. They surrounded her in a triangular formation with a guard either side of her and one behind her.

    “Remove her gag,” Darina instructed.

    The guard on the left turned and untied the gag. Natasha spat at the guard to rid herself of the stale taste in her mouth. He scowled as he wiped away the glob of white spit from his cheek.

    “Inspect her mouth and tear out any object that she may have embedded in her cheeks, you cannot be too careful, she did not receive her deadly reputation for no reason. Precaution should not be taken lightly.”

    The guard was hesitant and was gentle with her when he opened her mouth and peered inside.

    “Tear out any sharp objects from her mouth I assure you that she will heal quickly and be her pretty self again,” Darina said impatiently.

    There was the sound of flesh being ripped open with the splattering of blood.The guard held up a small blade in the air to show everyone and threw it away. It clattered on the floor. Talia peered at Natasha who was choking and her face had been slashed open wide destroying her beauty, a distressing scene even if it was temporarily.

   “You fucking bitch and you lot of stupid, snivelling rats that have crawled out of the sewers to watch the show!” Matthew shouted, tugging at his restraints. “Why are we here, really?” He bared his teeth at each and every one of those vampires whose shackles seemed to rise and they lean in closer sensing his challenge.

    Darina, unfazed by his outburst replied. “This is to determine if any of you are guilty of any part in aiding the destruction of our nest in the Human Realm, if one of you or all of you had allied with the hunters responsible. It seemed rather convenient that you all survived the attack and happened to be all connected in some personal way. However much to your insistence Matthew last night that you were innocent and it was only you and your group that survived I am here to shatter that illusion. Come out dear, there is no need to be afraid.”

   The Queen held out her hand and out of the shadows stepped out a little girl, barely older than ten years old with short brown hair covering half of her face and a pair of green eyes that held intelligence beyond her years. She wore a little yellow dress and white shoes that tip-toed across the stone to Darina, who took hold of her little hand.

    “Do you think that I would not have precautions in place for her?”

    Talia saw Matthew was staring hard at the little girl who was tugging at her dress skirt.

    “Why was she in the human realm?” he asked.

    “That is none of your business brother but now you realise that if she had been killed you would have been executed for taking part in the murder of a child!”

    “I would have protected her if I had known she was staying at the nest,” he replied.

    Talia could not see Darina as a caring figure, not to even have the smallest interest in looking after a child. Darina shifted in her throne.

    “I bet your newborn thought that because this little one cannot speak yet, that she will not be able to voice your crimes?”

    Talia shook her head. “I didn’t do anything.”

    “Lies,” Darina snarled. She whispered in the girl’s ear and the girl let go of her hand and wandered back into the darkness. “I believe you all had a part in this along with the vampire Seth.”

    “No we didn’t,” Matthew said. “I would never pair up with hunter scum and I would not hurt a single hair on that child’s head. Unlike you who eats children for fucking breakfast so don’t try to act like the maternal figure, it makes you look ridiculous.”

    Darina did not answer and her lips were firmly pressed together.

    “Where’s Seth?” Natasha asked, breaking the silence. “Where is he?”

     Talia could hear the fear in her voice and she remembered him choking on the pantry floor crying out Natasha’s name in that small voice that sought for comfort in his pain.

    “You were not present at the meeting held in the nest at the time they attacked, you were with her.” Darina stabbed at finger in Talia’s direction. “All those vampires were ripe for the slaughter and I believe that our new Princess had helped the hunters that night.”

    He began to laugh. “Do you know how ridiculous you sound Darina?”

    “She is only a child,” Natasha added.

   “Have you really had no contact with hunters ever Talia?” she asked, her hands gripped the arms of the throne tightly. “Tell the truth.”

    Talia felt small and everything was closing in on her, she wanted to run away from this terrible place and never return or to be swallowed up by the ground beneath her. “Once,” she whispered.

    “No you haven’t,” he said, followed by a short laugh. “You haven’t?” He gave her a pleading look and she could not return it. “Sweetheart, talk to me.”

    “I did once but years ago honestly,” Talia replied, her eyes began to water. “I swear it was once and I didn’t believe them when I met them and left, I haven’t seen them since.”

    “You contacted them once when you was sixteen but whether you have been in contact with them multiple times is a matter of your word against mine,” Darina said.

    “I believe Talia,” Matthew said, and grinned at her reassuringly. “I have no doubt about her innocence.”

    “Maybe she is but I do not believe in coincidences very easily.”

    “I’m innocent your majesty,” Talia said quickly. “I had nothing to do with the hunters, I became a vampire why would I do that if I was with the hunters?”

    “Hunters have done stranger deeds in order to serve their so called sacred mission,” she replied, her eyes centred on Matthew. “But you are an irresponsible Prince, one who failed to use his prophetic powers to protect his people in the Human realm because of cowardice, along with bringing a potential sympathiser to the hunters into the centre of our nest. You need to be punished severely or even executed.”  

     The vampires of the True Order hissed until it became a low roar rumbling through the entire place and made the ground vibrate as each one expressed their disapproval

    Darina stood up. “I do not mean to offend the True Order I was only thinking of the best method in which our Prince can pay for his crimes, I know that I cannot kill him as he is one of you even if he has the smallest amount of your blood inside him. I believe the best punishment is for him to join the True order.”

    “No you cannot do that Darina!” Natasha shouted. She tore at her restraints with a renewed energy turning them into thin strips of cloth in her terror at the idea of her only child being in danger. She got a hand free and swung it at a guard’s face, hooking her fingers under the upward curve of the jawbone and removing it. She stabbed the guard behind her with the piece of jawbone through his heart.

    Darina shouted a flurry of words when Natasha stood up.

    Natasha staggered. The muscles in her legs lost all strength causing her to fall, her eyes stayed open but were like those of a corpse that had been discovered and still needed its eyes closed in respect.

   “Tasha,” Matthew called. He kicked and clawed his way free from the guards and chains but he was not as skilled as Natasha had been and he just shook violently, swearing and shouting in frustration.

    Talia had gone still watching the struggle and she couldn’t bring herself to do anything to aid it. She closed her eyes tightly and tried to think of Ella or her Aunt even her Mum when she was alive. She could almost hear her Mum singing a nursery rhyme as she fell asleep, a soft voice that soothed her nerves and nearly disguised the sound of her sire’s struggle.

    “Talia is to be trialled under blood,” Darina announced, which made Talia open her eyes to her present bleak situation.

    “No you can’t do that to her, no! Not her!” Matthew protested.

    Darina stepped forward and bent over to touch the stone floor. Her hand on contact was whipped away like it had received an electric shock, the ground shook and she moved back to her throne. There was the sliding of stone grazing against each other and a stone structure rose. It was carved with the most fantastical symbols whirling along its edge in chaotic spirals like the stars in the night sky that Talia had glimpsed from the balcony the other night. It was dull grey stone with little cracks at its top corners where scratches had been made. It was like a stone bath with the length of a tall person of just over 6 feet long and a metre wide.

    “Let me take the trial, not Talia I beg you,” he said, falling to his knees and bowing his head down. “I beg of you sister, please, do anything to me, let me do this trial. I will be the Oracle, I will do anything.”

   “Proceed with filling the vessel,” Darina said, seeing the defeat in Matthew’s eyes.

    It was when Talia heard the scrape of the guard’s shoe on the ground that she reacted fiercely to their advance. She scrambled up to her feet only to have herself restrained by strong hands locking around her arms like solid iron shackles. She tried to tear herself free of the guards who seemed to multiply to impossible numbers merging their snarling faces together that filled her vision like some mutated wolf. Talia felt her feet being lifted from the ground and she kicked out her feet in the hope of finding the ground instead of being suspended above the nightmarish bath of lurid blood. It gave the grey a sickening metallic feel to the stone like a trough in a slaughter house freshly filled with the blood of livestock.

    Darina took out a delicate knife that was the length of her thumb and pressed it gently into the skin of her pale wrist. She allowed a few drops to mingle with the rest of blood.

   “Snap her neck,” she said, stepping away.

    A big hand wrapped its fingers around Talia’s thin neck and broke it in half making the bottom half stab into her throat like a blade and sever the vocal cords, so only a gulping sound slipped from her mouth with the spittle and blood. She could feel her tendons in her hands were spasming with the pain and the urge to fight to escape, there was a loud clicking sound ringing in her ears as the bone was attempting to mend itself.

    Matthew was in her watering vision kneeling over the bath with his neck elongated and exposed.

    “Your sire makes a sacrifice,” Darina said.

    A glint of silver from a blade revealed a jet of crimson blood ejecting from Matthew’s throat as she sliced it open in one fluid movement.

   The bones in Talia’s neck snapped her head away from the scene as they healed and she howled in agony.

   She kept screaming. Denying. Until they thrust her under the blood to drown her cries. She pushed against the force like a human fighting for air, the thick metal fumes straggling her as the blood stuck to every part of her body and forced its way into her throat. She thrashed in the bath and managed to get her head into the open air for a couple of moments. A gasp sounded from her in the shock of the sharp air. And Xavier. He stood over the bath with a blank expression and a low murmur was coming from his lips.

    Talia felt a hot rage course through her and she went to reach out to him, to grab a piece of clothing or flesh to drag down to her level so she could-

    The thought was cut off as the blood morphed in front of her into long shapes of red scales and she felt the blood thicken, becoming rough in texture. It had turned into a bulging mass of snakes. Terror and survival instinct went haywire as she jolted forward and clawed the edge of the bath with her fingernails, gouging into the stone and feeling it powder her nails. Talia’s body shook with the strain of her muscles as she pulled herself upward. Yet the snakes coiled tighter around her body, their fangs sunk into her flesh and their red eyes shone with a promise of death.

    Tears ran down her face and she let go. 

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