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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13. Chapter Thirteen

Xavier led her out of the hall to the balcony that was made of white stone and was like the bottom jaw of an enormous skull glued to the side of the palace, with its square teeth spaced evenly in its jaw bone and crowned with a semicircle stone slab.  The expanse of darkness surrounded the palace in its forever expanding, featureless blackness. It caused Talia to stumble backwards with her vision blurring from shock. 
   Da dum, da dumda dum! 
   It resonated in her head, the continuously slamming of Xavier’s heart valves striking as they collided with each contraction of his heart. She stared at him for a long time and her mouth twisted upwards, faintly she felt the bone slide past the gum as her fangs extended downwards. 
    Xavier was watching her, his concerned expression becoming a frown, dropping off into terror. 
   “Talia?” he asked, and laughed nervously as if it would make the situation better. 
   She grinned and stepped forward, her eyes scanning over him before landing on the slight bulge of a main vein in his neck, the slight throb of it. Something must have changed in her that screamed danger! As Xavier shouted.
    “Oh shit!” 
   He darted for the door but Talia had ran forward and dragged him backwards. The force was too much and he was thrown passed her and smashed into the balcony. A snap of bones breaking immediately followed; loud, sharp, piercing through the still air like a knife. 
   He collapsed against balcony and she stared at him for a moment like it was some trick, an evil nasty trick. She wasn’t violent, not really. 
   “I’m sorry,” she whispered, as if apologising for a simple offence or had broken an ornament by accident in a guest’s house, and not the guest’s bones. Talia sat down and drew her knees to her chest. Strangely no tears fell down her cheeks and she felt detached from it like it was simply told to her and that it had no impact on her. 
   There was a gasp sounding from Xavier. She looked over to see him straining to put himself into a sitting position, his tattoos glowed a hot white and his eyes had changed to the same colour. The brightness reminded her of the fading memory of the sun, sparking a new primal fear within Talia which caused her to squeeze her eyes tightly shut and rock backwards and forwards to calm her hysteria. 
    “Talia,” Xavier said quietly. 
    She stopped rocking momentarily before rocking at a less rapid pace. 
    “Talia…” There was a sharp intake of breath. “Talia look at me, please.” 
    She stopped rocking. “I hurt you,” she whispered, and hiccupped back a cry. “I hurt you and…” She trailed off. 
    “And you liked it,” Xavier finished, watching her shudder at the thought. Sick climbed up her throat like an insect crawling and it made her gag. “But that wasn’t you, Talia, wasn’t you.” He lifted his arm and laid it on his lap like a lifeless slab of meat. She uncurled herself slowly. 
    “It was me,” Talia said quietly, but with a hint of doubt clinging to the words like how the scent of perfume clung to your skin. 
    “Come over here, I need your help,” he said, beckoning for her to come forward. She got up and cautiously walked towards him, wary of her own actions, of her own violent actions. She kneeled beside him and could see the strained lines around his grimace and eyes, the small gleam of cold sweat on his temples. 
    “Give me your left hand,” he said, and she hesitantly placed it into his outstretched hand. His warm gentle, touch sent small tingles up Talia’s arm and she felt the corner of her mouth pulled up into a small smile. “Have you always had a black snake tattoo on your hand?” he asked. 
    Her brow furrowed and she replied, “No I’ve never had a tattoo.” She looked at her hand and there it was a twisting black snake with silvery scales that gleamed, nestled in the fleshy part her hand between her thumb and forefinger. She tried to reel away from her hand like somehow it would detach, crawl away from sight, an uncomfortable feeling coursed through her and she shook. He gripped her hand tightly but not so much to hurt her. 
    “I thought you never had a tattoo as well, you have been charmed, Princess,” Xavier said, and immediately pressed his lips to the snake before she could asked what he meant. A low heat began until it seared through the snake’s shape like the slicing of a knife through flesh. Yet Talia only grimaced, there was a sort of undercurrent under the uncomfortable pain that reassured her this was for the best, an awful treatment to cleanse a more terrible infection. Xavier broke the contact and reeled back, closing his eyes.  She saw the pink skin of a burn that was beginning to heal replacing the snake. She traced it with a finger feeling the slight roughness and raises where the outline of the snake’s body had been. She heard Xavier splutter and looked up from her hand, staring frightfully at him. 
    “What’s wrong?” she asked, placing a hand on his shoulder as he continued to splutter and shake. He paused in his spluttering and spat, into his working hand, a live pale white snake. 
   She recoiled. A spike of adrenaline forced her to drag herself away backwards. 
   “Get that thing away!” she shouted, closing her eyes and turning her head away. There was a tiny crunch heard as Xavier broke the snake’s neck with his thumb. She opened her eyes and watched him put his hand through the gaps in the balcony and drop the dead snake. He wiped his hand on his trouser leg with a faint trace of disgust in his expression. 
    “It’s gone?” she asked, like she doubted her eyes seeing him throw it away. 
    “Yes it’s gone,” he replied, and wiped away the sheen of sweat on his forehead. “You afraid of snakes?” 

   Talia nodded and moved closer. 

   “I’m not too keen on them myself,” he said.

   He pulled back the sleeve of his lifeless arm and plucked off the black glove and dropped it to the floor. Revealed was translucent glass filled with a beautiful spider web of springs and coils, intertwined perfectly in their bright copper colour, gliding from one shape to the other like a piece of artwork. A delicate string of light blue light had been captured between the metal, clasped between its springs and tiny latches. Some of the blue light glowed softly but where there was a fracturing of the glass it was screaming a harsh glow, the coil had been bent and twisted out of shape, trapping the light to the point it would snap it. 
    “Your arm it’s not-” Talia began. 
    “Not made of flesh and bone, no I lost part of my arm a long time ago,” he replied, and felt around the glass until he felt the clasp hidden underneath, he unclipped and twisted it until the glass sprung open. 
    “I didn’t know that you had a prosthetic and it looks weird, like different to the ones back home,” Talia said, leaning over to inspect it more closely. 
    “How is it different?” Xavier asked. 
    “Well all this glowy stuff and they are made of metal and plastic, this looks like a piece of art,” she replied. 
    “The glowy stuff is my magic like nerves but visible,” he said, frowning as he reached into the inner workings of the contraption and began to pull it back into place. “I will have to visit the human realm to see the difference.” 
   “You have never went to my home, the human realm?” 
   He shook his head. “I am a bit of a hermit, never have left my house much since… a long time ago.” 
    “Except when you hang around caves, waiting for a girl to fall on top of you,” Talia said, smiling. He grinned. 
   “I guess so, and to be almost drained of blood by a vampire.” 
    She giggled. “It must be a bad habit, are you always so reckless?” 
    Xavier wound up a piece of coil and gently wrapped a strand of blue light around it. He peered closer to inspect his handiwork and smiled slightly. “I’m hardly as reckless as I used to be,” he replied, closing the glass lid over the work with a click. He muttered some words and the fractures melded together to make the glass smooth once more. 
   “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I don’t know why I did that,” Talia blurted out, feeling the disbelief of her actions being fully realised when she saw his arm fully mended. 
    “You were charmed, most likely by Darina, she wants you to lose control for some reason, remain weak. I think you threaten her in some way.” His eyes studied her like some puzzle to figure out. “Along with your bond with Matthew that can impact on you too.” 
    “I don’t threaten anyone, I just want to get through each day that’s all, be this.” She gestured to herself and sighed. 
   “Well you look beautiful Princess,” Xavier replied. 
   She laughed. “I hardly believe that for a minute.” She wiped a finger under her eye and it came back with a smudged black colour. “All my make-up had ran after crying, I probably look like a deranged clown!” 
   “A deranged clown princess perhaps that is why Darina is afraid of you,” Xavier said. “No you pull off the clown look quite well.” 
   “Oh I bet you tell all the girls they’re beautiful,” she replied, shaking her head. 
   Xavier didn’t answer straight away as he lifted his false arm and wriggled the fingers. “It still works, lucky for me or I would have had to travel across the country to find someone to fix it.” 
   “Can I look at it?” Talia said, putting her hand out. 
   “Of course just try not to break it this time,” he replied, placing his hand into her hers. The smooth glass was light to the tough with slight rough grazes where the fingerprints were usually found. She traced up his arm, halfway up the forearm, to the place where glass and metal melded with his flesh. His tattoos were more chaotic and had become tiny cracks in his skin that latched onto the limb. 
    “How did you lose your arm?” she asked. He withdrew it from her grasp slowly and cradled it to his chest. He sighed heavily. 
   “In an accident.” 
   “Was you reckless? Is that what caused the accident?” 
   He squirmed like he was uncomfortable and avoided her gaze. “I lost it in an accident, perhaps you will find out why from other people’s gossip but I would rather not talk about it.” He pulled up the sleeve over it roughly and picked up the glove. 
   “Oh of course you don’t have to talk about it, I’m just really nosy like my aunt likes to remind me of all the time,” Talia said. The image of a thirty-six year old woman came to mind with a brown bob, finer pencil lights appearing at the corners of her green eyes and the slight chubbiness she always had but could never get rid of, no matter how many diets she tried. Talia’s heart felt heavy, weighed down by sadness and longing. 
    “Well I guess it’s not the worst trait to have, better than arrogance,” Xavier said. “I used to be, well I can be at times, an arrogant man.” 
    “Like Matthew,” Talia said. “He has an overinflated ego to go with it.” 
    “I guess so Princess.” 
    “Urgh stop calling me Princess,” she said, wrinkling up her nose like the word smelled like bad breath. “You’re as bad as Matthew is with his constant sweethearts!” 
   Xavier began to laugh. 
   “Why are you laughing?” Talia said, grinning but crossing her arms over her chest. 
   “I don’t know, you seem very sensitive about nicknames, I will just call you…” 
   “Talia.” 
   “Talia, okay I promise.” 
    She unfolded her arms and looked around. She looked at Xavier for a long moment. “Is Matthew going to be okay?” She almost whispered the question like it had treason dripping from every word and it was more dangerous than when she was shouting that the Queen was a bitch. 
   Xavier leaned in close and took her hand in comfort. She shivered from the warmth. “I don’t know but I do know that he will not be killed because he is too important.” 
   “Because he is a Prince.” 
   “Well that’s a factor but Matthew has the gift of prophecy, well can sort of see the future,” Xavier said, he saw Talia’s confused expression and her eyes demanded answers. “I guess you haven’t heard about it, or that Darina’s speech was a bit cryptic. Basically Matthew sees the future through a sort of distorted camera lens, at random moments he will get little ticks and ramble some ancient language, I don’t really know which.” 
    “Is that why he had been acting all weird tonight like he was very fidgety like more than usual,” Talia said, feeling a pang of sympathy for her sire. 
   “I guess so or nervous about meeting Darina.” 
   “I guess,” Talia murmured. She smiled to herself. “I don’t even know why I’m so bothered by his safety, I hate him or dislike him for doing this to me because he is a selfish, immature twat!” She still felt the pang of sympathy like the toll of a bell suddenly but she quickly drowned it in anger. “He hurt my sister and I had to sacrifice my humanity to save her from him, Matthew is evil.” 
    “No he is not,” Xavier said in a stern tone like she was a child who was convinced she had the right answer but now had to be convinced it was wrong all along. 
   Talia pulled away from him.  “He is,” she spat.
   “No he is not,” Xavier replied more forcibly. “I have seen true evil and Matthew is a parody of it.” He clenched his fists as if to prevent himself screaming at her, but this just fanned the flames of her anger. 
    “He destroyed my life Xavier,” she said, biting her lip to avoid spilling out the lists of profanities and raw feelings. “I thought I would have expected more sympathy from you.” She got up and turned her back to him. 
    “Talia!” he shouted, and she felt his hand grasp hers. “Talia I didn’t mean to belittle your feelings about him.” He gulped loudly and there were small tremors shooting through his fingers. 
    “But you did,” she stated, or tried to state but her upset caught on the did giving him a hint of her hurt. There was a tight knot in her stomach, twisting tighter and tighter until tears appear in her eyes and her fangs had pierced her bottom lip. 
    “I will get you some blood,” she heard him say in the distance, or it sounded like he was so far away and she was alone in this empty landscape. She smelt the similar copper smell smack her in the face and she took a step back to avoid a second blow. Her eyes centred on the fresh blood bag and her hand snatched it away from Xavier. The blood began to flow into her mouth and she gulped it down thankfully. She felt his warm arm press around her back and she stopped momentarily to see he had wrapped her in a warm and comforting embrace. 
    The blood bag was practically empty when she took it from her lips. The knot had loosened but she still needed more blood to sate her thirst. 
    “Where was Natasha and Seth, why didn’t they help me or Matthew?” Talia asked, feeling extremely flustered and sucked the empty blood bag in the hope of getting another precious drop. Desperate to forget the previous conversation. 
    Xavier scowled, all concern for her well-being disappeared from his features. He replied, “They sneaked off together.” 
   “Sneaked off? Didn’t they enjoy the ball?” Talia asked. 
   He raised his eyebrows and said, “How old are you?” 
   “Nineteen why?” She moved closer to him when he shook his head. 
   “So young and so naïve,” Xavier muttered. 
   “Why am I…?” Talia paused, crumpling up the blood bag. “They snuck off together, of course.”
   Xavier grinned. “Penny finally dropped eh?” 
   “Yes, sorry for being a little bit slow to understand, I’m so thirsty,” Talia said. 
   He reached into his jacket and pulled out a fresh blood-bag. “For you.” 
   “Thanks,” she said, as she took it. “You don’t sound too happy about Natasha and Seth being together.” 
   “I don’t?”
   “No did something happen?” she asked, watching his grin grow smaller. 
   “I just think he is not good enough, I mean he is not horrible or anything quite the opposite but I believe she deserves someone less brutish and more educated.” 
    “Well if he treats her right isn’t that enough?” Talia asked. He did not answer and this made her feel annoyed. “You’re jealous of Seth.” 
    He laughed. “Jealous of that vampire, she just deserves better that’s all. I mean he had only just graced 80 years old and only learnt to read and write twenty years ago!” 
    Talia gripped the blood bag tighter which threatened to split. “No, the only person good enough to be with her is you Xavier.” 
    He avoided her eyes and said quietly. “I’m angry with myself for what I have done, I and Tasha were together for a while and if it never happened perhaps we could have been more. Now it is long gone and when I saw her tonight looking beautiful in that red dress, wasn’t she beautiful?” 
    “Yes she was.” 
    “I mean even before in the cave I never thought I would see her actually in the flesh again and I guess I felt some feelings for her, probably not true emotions but it sparked something.” 
    “I know what you mean, like if I saw an ex with someone else sometimes I would feel sort of jealous but I wouldn’t want to be with them again.” 
    “Yes I guess,” Xavier replied, staring at his gloved hand. “I didn’t mean to belittle your feelings about Matthew earlier, I know you have mixed feelings about him including anger,” Xavier said. 
    She ripped the blood bag open. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said, and put her lips over the tear and drank. 
    “I need to talk about it,” he insisted, ignoring the glare she gave him. “I‘m not saying he did not do any wrong and he is far from being an angel, even if Tasha thinks he is just misunderstood. I want to say he isn’t really evil.” 
    “Oh really,” Talia said, rolling her eyes. 
    “Yes I am because I have witnessed evil.” 
    “Is that how you lost your arm by witnessing evil,” she asked, tilting her head slightly in his direction. 
    Xavier touched his arm. “I lost my arm by becoming part of the evil.” 
    Talia threw the empty blood bag away not caring about it littering the balcony. “You are not evil.” 
    “I was and still capable, Matthew simply acts out whatever comes to his head and perhaps morals may creep in once in a while. I however, chose to be evil, practice the dark arts. You are lucky you were given a new life after your sacrifice, a chance to live through this and begin a new life, even if it is forced upon you.”  He breathed deeply to calm himself, backing away from her. “I chose the dark and it turned on me like it will on anyone who works with it, I am one of its broken toys and something that sparks old rumours and bitterness to life. No doubt people told you to not trust me.” 
    “Matthew mentioned that I shouldn’t trust a witch,” Talia said. 
    “You should follow his advice.” He bowed his head down. 
    Talia stepped forward and lifted his head up to look into his blue eyes that seemed to have dimmed in their brightness, sadness casting a shadow over them. “I make my own judgments and I don’t think you’re evil, at least not anymore.” 
   “I am broken,” he whispered. 
   “So am I” Talia said, and he smiled sadly. 
   “You’re not, hardly a crack to be seen,” he said. His voice came out thick with sadness and she was overwhelmed by it. Her heart clenched and his face appeared as tragically beautiful with its worn down planes and the tiredness appearing around his eyes. 
    “I guess I hide them well,” she said. 
   “You have hardly been with Matthew two minutes,” he argued. 
   “I didn’t say they were caused by Matthew,” she replied, his eyes widened in surprise. He straightened up, his eyes studying her face bit by bit and finally they lingered on her lips. His hand touched her hair and she shivered as his hand caressed her cheek, the warm sending small pin-pricks of pleasure through her. He leaned forward and his soft lips met hers in a kiss. 

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