***Author's notes to the reader***
Jacquelyn's Ordeal comes to a close. It has been a long journey and I want to thank everyone who has waited so patiently. And special thanks to the one who motivated me to make a conclusion happen. Although these are the concluding chapters, to me, they are drafts that show the conclusion I had envisioned for the story. Perhaps one day I will give them the polish they deserve.
The fate of Jacquelyn was, as is ours, something we cannot control. To reflect this, there are two endings to her tale. I would like to invite you to find a coin and let fate decide which fate awaits Jacquelyn. Should the coin read heads, please read 'Blood and Light'. Else, if tails, please read 'Shadows of the Mind'
Please enjoy your ending of Jacquelyn's Ordeal.
As soon Jacquelyn she closed the door, her strength drained away. It had taken all of her willpower to keep herself upright for that final display. Her body scream at her in pain. She ached and felt incredibly heavy. Jacquelyn tried to keep her mind focused to dull the pain of her injuries, but she could not dull the sensations from the bite on her neck. Staggering slowly down the corridor, Jacquelyn tried to make her escape from the manor.
Her vision blurred for a moment and she tried to slowly shake it clear. She reached out to tried balance herself against the wall. A sharp pain in her hand stung and reminded her of the wound. Jacquelyn was forced her to pull her hand back and slump heavily against the wall. Her legs felt like straw and her knees buckled, causing her to fall forward. She knelt there, her forehead resting against the wall. Her breathing shallow as her head spun. Her awareness was starting to slip as her mind raced through her ordeal.
Jacquelyn was lost in thoughts for a moment. Images of the Count played out in her mind. The crimson flashes of those heated scenes called to her. A small smile crept across her lips as her thoughts were drawn to them. The images so very tempting and teased her. The allure of being soft and feeling warm pleasures she had never experience. Although these were not thoughts she should be allow in her mind, they drowned out the pains of her injuries. Jacquelyn played out the little scenes in her mind.
She imagined herself laid out across a soft bed. Satin sheets draped across her body, soothing her skin. The feeling of sleep was calling to her softly. With her eyes closed, Jacquelyn's sense of touch revelled in the sensations. Gently, she drew her hands up along her thighs. The feelings were incredible, a half gasp and almost a purr escaped her lips as she gently bit them. Jacquelyn let her hands glide over her body, touching softly through the satin. She surrendered herself to the wonderfully delightful feelings. It surprised her to feel Yvonne, her sister, softly stroking her hair and whispering to her sweetly. It felt almost perfect and comforting. Jacquelyn let out a content sigh and pressed her head against the hand stroking her hair. She felt it, the touch and it was so real. Her mind to a moment, lingering upon that realisation and sprung back into awareness as her eyes shot open.
Were she not completely spent, Jacquelyn may have leapt to her feet, but she was beyond exhausted. She turned and to her surprise, Yvonne was there, softly calling to her and gently brushing her hair. It brought a great sense of relief to Jacquelyn.
“Yvonne, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to hide?” she asked softly, even speaking was an exertion.
“I did, but then I thought about how you were almost defeated by the door lock last time…and I simply could not let it happen to you again.” Yvonne teased softly as she brushed Jacquelyn's cheek. Jacquelyn managed a small laugh, wincing from the pains in her side.
“Are you hurt? Can you stand up?” Yvonne asked with a voice full of concern.
Jacquelyn simply held up her palm, showing the cuts in her hand.
“I will need a little assistance.” she breathed while grimacing.
“My arm is surely broken and I might have some bruised ribs.” The pain started to make her body tense up.
Yvonne nodded and wormed underneath Jacquelyn’s good arm and carefully helped her up. It was a painful to struggle to her feet, even with Yvonne’s assistance.
“Have you ever considered the life as a slayer?” Jacquelyn asked Yvonne as she stood up again, “I could use an apprentice.”
Yvonne paused for a moment and then giggled, “I am but a humble servant sister, very happy to just serve. And being a servant, I should deliver you from here.”
Jacquelyn thought about her words for a moment. One part of her mind thought back to Yvonne as her servant and the scene in the bed, with her hair being stroked. A soft blush touched Jacquelyn's cheeks. She felt a tingle in her neck and pushed the thoughts aside as they readied themselves to set off to leave the manor behind.
They passed through the silent and empty corridors at a slow pace. Jacquelyn’s injuries slowed their progress, but there was little immediate danger now. As they snaked through the manor towards the western wing, the storm continued to increase in intensity. Thunder boomed regularly, shaking the manor as the rain furiously beat upon all the windows they passed. The unrelenting winds whipped the rain so fiercely, it fell almost horizontally. It was truly a spectacle to behold and one Jacquelyn had never before borne witness.
As the storm raged against manor, Yvonne led Jacquelyn through a smaller doorway and into a small circular room. As soon they passed through the threshold, the sounds of the storm died away, as though it had spent itself. Something inside Jacquelyn stirred. There was something about this room that made her feel cold. She drew up her heavy head and slowly surveyed the room. Jacquelyn was certain that she had never been in this room, yet it looked familiar. It was a small and ornately decorated room under a domed roof. It dawned upon her this was almost an exact replica of the room in her mind where the Count had taken her to extinguish her resistance. Jacquelyn felt uneasy by being in the room. Too many things had been against her this evening and the coincidence was not welcomed.
The walls of the room, however, were not lined with windows. Instead, they were mirrored, encircling the central space. Candles along the walls illuminated every detail of murals which were inlaid in the supporting columns. A skylight in the centre of the domed roof floated above a small garden in the centre like a portal to the heavens. In the centre, the tiled floor gave way to a small amount of earth, complete with some plants, a single small tree with an arched back and a raised stone slab at its heart. Jacquelyn admired the beauty of the room for a moment. It would have been a perfect sanctuary, closed off from the rest of the world. It represented a connection to earth and nature, underneath the gaze of the heavens. Then a realisation struck Jacquelyn, it held only one entrance.
She looked to Yvonne, a little confused. “Yvonne, why have you brought us here?” she asked.
The handmaiden however, did not respond. She stood still for a moment, her eyes gazing ahead and Jacquelyn felt her body soften as she started to relax. Something was not right. She scanned the room, her senses struggling to jump back into an alert state. Exhaustion was taking its toll upon her now. Jacquelyn could see nothing that would suggest something was amiss. The room was still and empty, save for themselves. She gripped Yvonne's shoulder more firmly, but the handmaiden did not react.
"Yvonne, what is wrong? What are you..." Jacquelyn started, but before she could say another word, Yvonne suddenly fell to her knees.
Jacquelyn did not have the strength to hold her upright and stumbled forwards onto her knees. She cried out instinctively as she felt a sensation from the bite on her neck. She quickly realised that this time it was not pain but a buzz, a tingle. It felt odd, but extremely pleasant. Jacquelyn's head began to feel heavy, her thoughts feeling fuzzy as she tried to comprehend her situation. She felt a push from behind as a gust of wind blew past. It sent a shiver down her spine, as her the cold air caressed her warm skin. The wind raced around the room, extinguishing the candles lining the walls and plunged the room into darkness.
Jacquelyn listened intently as she shakily rose to her feet in utter darkness. Her heart pounded as adrenaline once again took hold, yet it did little to help her find her strength. Jacquelyn's body only just responded to the new rush, just enough to keep her going. She could hear her heart pounding in her chest, it was almost deafening in the silence that surrounded her. The sky unleashed one final flash of lightning which, for an instant, lit the room. A figure stood on the far side, across the small garden. As darkness descended upon the room again, Jacquelyn backed up slowly, hoping to find the doorway. Her back pressed against something solid and she felt her way along with her hand. Letting out a quiet curse, she realised it was the wall and not the doorway. The clouds above rode the winds and stole away as though their task was done. Gradually, the moon once again revealed itself and light flooded through the skylight. As the room became lighter, Jacquelyn could not see the figure that was there, but to her horror, she was confronted with an even more shocking sight.
In the mirrored reflections, she could see the Count standing there, smiling his arrogant grin at her. Surely her mind was playing tricks upon her. Jacquelyn had slain him, even burnt body.
‘I told you Master was alive!’ the soft and docile voice in her head chirped happily.
Her bewildered sense could not fathom the reality. Vampires had no reflections. They had no soul, only a physical form. It was truly disturbing too see only his image in the mirrored reflections and not a physical form. It defied all that she knew.
“You have done very well, My little slayer pet,” spoke the Count, his voice pulled at her very being.
His image began to slowly pace towards her, moving from one mirror to the next around the walls. “By slaying My rivals, you have indeed proven to be an obedient and invaluable tool of My will.”
Jacquelyn kept her back to the wall, moving a few paces away from his image in the mirror as it advanced.
“Indeed, you have proven yourself as My greatest prize, congratulations.” His image spoke before it suddenly vanished.
Jacquelyn was on edge, her eyes darting across the room, searching for him.
“I have shall to reward My pet in the manner she is deserving.” his voice whispered in her ear as though almost behind her.
Jacquelyn whipped around to her left and was met with nothing.
Her bite tingled more intensely and Jacquelyn spun around again and this time she confronted by him. His physical form was standing no more than a few feet in front of her. Jacquelyn was caught in his gaze, feeling his will coiling around her. He extended his hand towards her and curled his finger at her. The vampire beckoned her to come to him. There was so little fight left within her now. Each moment she stared into his eyes, he was increasing his hold upon her. Jacquelyn’s body trembled as she fought with herself, her desires, her desperate need to just escape all the pain and aching. Jacquelyn took one step towards the Count and felt such a wave of pleasure and happiness deep inside her. It was only a matter of time before she surrendered and they both knew it. Jacquelyn trembled as she fought to stop herself, but took another step closer. Her hands gently felt along her hip and drew out the very last item she had taken, her fan.
The Count watched her slowly draw it and smiled in amusement, spreading his arms for her, wanting her to enter his embrace. Jacquelyn was so drawn by the thoughts of his embrace. She was tempted to feel his hands slide along her body. She needed to feel her pain replaced with electric tingles of pleasure from being his. Her mind was overwhelmed with the crimson flashes of the fantasies he instilled. She simply wanted all of the temptations he offered. Jacquelyn wanted to be His.
The images slipped away as Jacquelyn was face to face with the Count. He gently took hold of her chin, taking his time to let the feelings of his touch sink in. Jacquelyn sighed softly as her eyes fluttered with the blanketing wave of submission that enveloped her. The Count drew up her chin and gaze deeply into her eyes. She melted in his gaze, could hear his voice echoing her mind now. His other hand gently caressed her side and it made her want more. Her body and mind started to surrender to him. His gaze did not falter and the world started to fade around her, nothing mattered except for him.
The very last of her defences clung to the very last stands of her mind. Jacquelyn's gripped her fan weakly as there was no strength left in her hand. She felt along the hardened end with her thumb. Her hand rose up his chest and rested the end of her fan over his heart. Jacquelyn did not even try to hide her intentions. Her mind was open to the vampire, everything laid bare. The Count merely smiled, his arrogant all knowing grin. He was testing the very last shards of her will. Jacquelyn drew back her arm and locked her wrist. It took almost everything she had to not let her mind drift. Each thought that was pushed into her mind tempted her. She wanted to surrender to the exhaustion. She wanted to surrender to pleasure. Jacquelyn wanted to surrender to him.
He leaned in and whispered something to her. Jacquelyn did not hear the words, but her body responded. Lust and desire ignited deep inside her and her body was in heat. She let out a quiet moan and quivered. She needed to find the strength now, the will for one final push. Jacquelyn paused as his gaze held her, mesmerising her. The burning desires she felt for him cried out to be satisfied. The soft and docile voice of herself that had surrendered whispered temptations into her mind.
Jacquelyn’s body relaxed further and her grip of the fan loosened. Her eyes blinked slowly as they felt so heavy. She was on the verge of surrender. Jacquelyn wanted to let herself go and enjoy the blank, mindless bliss. Her legs trembled and felt as though they were going to buckle at any moment. Jacquelyn needed only to push forward, to just strike the end of the fan. Just as her eyes fluttered shut she felt her strength fail her. Her hold of the fan slipped and it fell from her fingers as Jacquelyn collapsed into the Count’s body.
Jacquelyn fell to her knees and was forced to push out with her broken arm to catch herself. She caught herself before her face hit the ground, yet she felt no pain in her arm as she expected. Her heavy eyes opened and blinding white light filled her vision.
‘Perhaps I am dead…’ she though to herself.
She felt empty and completely drained. Her body ached with absolute exhaustion. The blinding light started to fade into shapes and images as she lifted her gaze.
‘We are alive,’ softly spoke her docile mind, ‘and now ready to serve Master.’
Jacquelyn heard the Count, chuckling and his form slid into focus. He stood in the shadows, just beyond the light. He waited in the darkness that wanted to consume her. Jacquelyn felt completely disorientated and her mind sluggishly tried to make sense of what had transpired.
“How…” Jacquelyn began, her mind unsure of to ask.
“Did I survive?” The Count finished her question.
He paced slowly along the edge of the shadows, as though waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Jacquelyn watched as he motioned with his hand and the curtains were drawn a little more. The light around Jacquelyn slowly began to disappear into shadow.
“I simply was not slain by you. When you moved to extinguish that last ounce of your resistance, it played a desperate last gambit. Of course, it was a valiant effort. You were able to…” he paused for a moment, thinking of the right word.
“Reclaim partial control of your mind and body. Of course, I anticipated you may try such a thing. And I set up events so that when you made that gambit, it would be confined to your mind. You, My little one, were trapped in a reality I designed.”
Jacquelyn shook her head slowly in stunned disbelief. She ran through the events in her mind. The awareness of it all almost crushing as she now realised all the inconsistencies. Worse still, was how painfully obvious they were now. It was though he could sense her thoughts and the slight break in the whirlwind when he continued.
“Yes, you are starting to put the pieces together now. Do not feel bad, you were able to surprise even Me on occasion. It was certainly amusing to watch you set fire to ‘My body’. More amusing still was that you eagerly accepted the changes in reality. Every shift in your thoughts and perspective was obeyed without question or resistance. Those little pangs in your neck...” He trailed off with a slight devilish grin.
Jacquelyn’s mind whirled and she timidly reached up to press her neck where he had bitten her. She pressed the spot and felt nothing. There was no pain, no soreness. Tearing away the makeshift bandage, she felt her skin. It was smooth, soft and untouched. Jacquelyn felt sick.
She was betrayed by herself and weakness. Her arms trembled as the strength drained away from her body and she hung her head, hair draping down over her face. She stared at the tiled floor, watching the shadows encroaching upon the light surrounding her. Each revelation seemingly strengthened the shadow as inching closer to her, despite the light.
“You should feel very honoured, Jacquelyn,” hearing her name for the first time came as a shock. She looked up at him with great effort. The realisation that he knew her name, her true identity should have disturbed her. She had become completely exposed to him.
“I went to considerable efforts to snare you in my web.” He spoke softly.
He paced around her as she knelt. Jacquelyn felt dead inside, his words striking to her very core. She could not find fault in anything he had said. "For you see Jacquelyn, you have been descending into your true nature. The one you have held back within yourself. You murdered the physician. You designed to kill the Lady I'll dais in a manner to make her suffer for what she had done to you. Really, you are just fulfilling what was destined for you to become." Her mind races through her memories, trying to find one single flaw, one shimmer of light to show that that darkness he explained did not reside inside her. Yet, she could not. Every word confirmed by her actions and deeds.
She looked into the mirrored wall and saw her reflection, hallow and empty, staring back at her. Suddenly the mirrors shattered. Breaking and cascading down before her in a ringing torrent. She watched numbly as her image shattered. The reflections in the shards showed her deeds. The dark and light mixed in as one. She crawled forward, tears streaming down her face as she felt just as shattered and broken inside.
Frantically, she tried to pick up the pieces. She desperately wanted to preserve the light and the good she could see in the shards, in herself. With trembling hands grasped at the last vestiges of light in her. Jacquelyn felt the shards cutting her with each fragment she touched. Blood trickled down onto the fragments, shifting and warping the images within. They changed and became crimson images of the desires she had denied herself. She watched an image of her bare self, throwing back her head, her hair fanning out. Heat. Another showed a fire burning in her eyes as she bit her lip and slowly parted her legs, deliberately taking her time to pull up her dress. Lust. A silent crimson, still image flashed on another shard. Her lips parted as her back arched and her body tensed. Jacquelyn gazed upon the pure ecstasy that only He could give her. Pleasure.
She felt his hands, gently resting on her shoulders and she felt calm inside, as though her emotions were silenced. Her eyes closed as he whispered in her ear, telling her to embrace Him. His will. She opened her eyes and the mirror was whole again, perfectly formed. Her image once against whole, but changed. She did not seek the broken girl, but His pet kneeling before Him. She was proud, certain and unlike any time before, happy.
The shadows around her were no longer dark and suffocating. They were now tinted with crimson, beckoning with promises of pleasure and adventure. It now called to her, tempting her to embrace things she would never have dreamed of trying. The moonlight shone brightly now in her vision, crisp and clear. It did not make the shadows that once she feared. Now it made the world silent and still, bathed in its light, time stood still. Each moment was immortal and hers to explore. It gave her the promises of infinite time and freedom to enjoy every moment for all its value.
The Count drew Jacquelyn to her feet and brushed her hair back away from her neck. The beating warmth just below her soft skin called to him. Jacquelyn did not resist nor flick as He ran the back of his fingers along the side of her neck. For the first time, there was something new that stirred inside her, anticipation. Jacquelyn had let go of the fight inside her being. Time slowed as the Count moved in to claim his prize. Jacquelyn's eyes closed as she waited for Him. Her mind filled with a flood of desires. The heat roared to life inside her. A deep ache, unlike she had felt ever before took hold. She wanted Him. She needed Him. Nothing else mattered except for Him.
The Count's bite set off an explosion of pleasure within her body. Jacquelyn's chest heaved as her back arched. Her legs trembled and gave way as pleasure consumed her. Jacquelyn's mind was completely overwhelmed as white hot bliss washed away every thought, every memory, everything that she was.
Jacquelyn's breath was shallow, almost panting. She was flushed and the Count could sense the changes in her body, mind and soul. Her grinned as he drew Jacquelyn by chin. Ever so gently, he brought up her chin until her gaze was upon him. Jacquelyn's expression was soft; she barely seemed to notice his existence. Her eyes were unfocused as she gazed into the space between them.
Savouring the moment, the Count did not move. He let his eyes lap up the vision of his conquest. Jacquelyn remained upon her knees, her chest slowly rising and falling with each breath. No thoughts existed for her, she merely waited for Him to give her life and purpose.
The Count's tone was so gentle, almost enveloping as he whispered to the waiting girl. "Jacquelyn, My little slayer, have you accepted your destiny?"
Her eyes focused upon His face and a shiver rippled through her body. She slowly closed her eyes and lowered her face as she scarcely breathed her reply,