Forever Young

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  • Published: 22 Dec 2015
  • Updated: 27 Jul 2016
  • Status: Complete
Darla is most definitely not a human.

She's one of the Ashki, an immortal race who have lived alongside humans from the very beginning. But friendships don't survive that long, and her contacts with her fellow Ashkine people are practically non existent, humans just tiny little pieces in the jigsaw of time. And an old enemy is back, proposing changes to the way their society has run and developed, and destroying the Ashki in the process.

Now Darla must gather her friends together to save themselves and their souls. But after so many millennia, is time finally running out for the Ashki?


8. Alpha Dog

I'd be lying if I said that Kaden hadn't been acting different since he came back. It wasn't that he was particularly radically different, or that he seemed to go out of his way to change how we saw him. He just seemed different, and that was truly the only word I could think of for it.


Perhaps I should have seen it coming then, when I suggested we would take our favourite fight position - the two of us round the back, Adrien from the front and Lara coming in to end it all - and he said it was quite possibly the worst idea he'd ever heard. We were all completely confused as to why he was so against it. This attack had been his making into the first place after all.


His idea had been to separate us all. Keda would be used to it, he thought. He thought that we should all go different places to confuse her - he'd go to the south at the shore, where he had a fairly clear view of the tree from behind the rocks. I would go into our old house, because that's where Keda would probably be (although, I must admit, that part was mostly my idea, he just claimed the credit for it), then Adrien would be in the woods to the island's north, while Lara sat at the roots of the old fir tree, absorbing its power before Keda found her.


I think the only reason that none of us argued was that we were afraid to. His eyes had been crackling in that way they always did when he was passionate about something, and from past experience, it didn't end well if things like that happened.


An d so it happened that I was sitting alone again, in our old home, waiting for Keda. Repetition was boring, I'd decided. I wanted something more than this, a proper fight, my friends together again, or maybe even just a little bit of safety or security in my life. At the same time though, I felt something was wrong, and it took me too long to figure out why - we hadn't had any trouble at all with the mortals. Of course, it was always possible that they were too dumb to be able to track us, but in London especially, at least someone would have had to say something, if they recognised us. Naturally, I didn't want to have to deal with them - the brutal killing and torture of less powerful beings was never my style - but it still felt odd.


By the time I got the fear out of my heart, all I could  hear was Lara shouting. I wasn't entirely sure what she was saying, but it sounded like something along the lines of "Mish mashy far done list wash ah!" which no one should be able to make out the meaning of. It didn't sound good.


Leapign to my feet, I ran to the small crack in the stone of my home, and caught a glimpse of Lara with another figure, Keda. Even though I wasn't supposed to rush into anything I was supposed to, according to Ksaden's plan (which wasn't working anyway because of the factthat Lara was not supposed to be first target), I couldn't help my impulses. I flung myself out of the house and round to the tree.


"You finally come to fight then?" Keda taunted Lara, dancing around her in a sick sort of circle. "Finally gotten over your insufferable cowardice? Or is Adrien hiding in the shadows to come and save you because you can't save yourself, you silly little girl."


Lara yet out a yelp of anger, mouth formed in an angered O. "Excuse me, but I am not a silly little girl!" she fumed. "I was a suffragette, I was one of the first suffrasgettes, and I will not be spoken to like that by a stupid conservative girl who thinks she knows everything just because she stayed on the side of the men in power, despite losing almost all of her dignity because of it, and many times before." Keda raised her hands. "So, go on, try to hurt me. You can't get rid of me. You tried genocide, and I'm still here as far as I'm aware. So try it." Her eyes gleamed as they caught the light, and I thought I saw the faintest glimmer of a tear. "I dare you."


Keda's shoulders rolled back, and she tilted her chin up. Her hands clenched and unclenched multiple times, and just as she was about to strike at Lara I chose my moment and grabbed her by the waist, snarling. "Tip: don't try anything on us, Keda. You know how easily I can beat you in a fight."


She tried to punch me, but I shrank away from her, leaving only my leg behind to smack her in the stomach. Keda groaned, but threads of purple wrapped around my arms and I was pulled back to her, while Lara ran, hopefully to find Adrien and Kaden and not to leave me alone with Keda. "Don't try to resist, Darla," she laughed softly. "I think you know this magic."


Of course I did. I was the one that taught her it in the first place, on that harsh sandy beach in England. The mortals around us were really quite confused by it. "Fun times," I muttered under my breath. She laughed  with me, but it was more cruel, like she was really just contemplating the psychotic idea of a highly bloody murder.


"By the way, just so I know, what are your preferences. Slow death, painful death, long death, little prick of fear in your final moments?"


"I know you're just going to do what you want anyway, Keda," I alguhed dryly. "So I guess it'll have to be slow and painfully."


She blinked, plastering on her mask of innocence. "Of course, Darla. Whatever you want."


"I appreciate your concern for my wellbeing, Keda. Feel free to begin the process of killing me whenever you please." Normally, if somebody threatened to kill me, I would laugh them off. If they were mortals. They couldn't harm me enough to mortally make me die, anyway, but other immortals, especially ones more powerful than me... They could steal my soul if they really wanted to, if I let them.


Yeah, that was kind of a scary thought.


"I think I'll just start right now, actually." She snapped her fingers. Pain coursed through my veins, burning like a wildfire in my bloodstream. Maybe a scream ripped from my lips, and maybe it didn't. The words James said he used to live by - flowers on the wild only bloom with the rain - rang in my mind as I tried not to cry, every single nerve in my body on fire, a perfectly connected inferno of pure and utter torture.


It seemed fate was being particularly cruel that day. Fate departed me from my strengths, left me wandering in a field of wilted poppies, my life shattering like glass in front of me. Death's gnarled claws crept along my skin, tearing at my flesh, evil and hungry, a black hole and a wicked witch, with an insatiable need to devour my essencee, for perhaps it does really come for us all in the end. Maybe it is a black hole, sucking out all light, all life, draining the souls from anyone and everyone who dares to have even the briefest of encounters with it.


Or perhaps it was simply doing its job, trying to make the most of its cruel situation, just trying to get by on the bare scraps of its life that it never really had anyway.


I was still screaming, I think when my mind snapped back into the present and my mind's barrier broke. Darkness flooded in and out with the hauntingly beautiful symphony of a tsunami gathering at sea, sweeping through the ocean, unbeknownst to all as it rises and rises and rises, up, up, up, about to crash down and kill in the masses.


"Do you want it to stop now, Darla?" Keda laughed parasitically.


I could barely even hear her. Images flashed through my mind - Lara crying, Kaden laughing, the siege upon Troy, the deaths of all too many men.


Again I watched men with their ribs and their lungs torn out, blood soaking the grass and the mud and the hands of murderers who laughed at what they had just done, went on raiding and pillaging and killing like they didn't even know what they had done.


Then, children wailing, a blaze before me, a city consumed by hell's own rage, by the devil's mad, mad, longing for death. People stumbling in the streets, choking on their own miserable souls. They were retching, screaming, many already half dead.


At the end of it all, and it seemed fitting, there was an explosion, a great surge of light, not even enough time to scream, to duck for cover, to do anything.


All the energy just ran away from me. I was shaking, my hands barely able to stay in the same place they were unconsciously focused on, but I still managed to make Keda scream. "Stop!" she screeched. "Just stop!"


And then I was hit again, another wall of fire and water and air and earth and dark and light and everything that has ever been a part of the world just breaking me down, just destroying everything, even still as my own power was fighting it. I must have been there for simply ages, but there was still no sign of anybody other than Keda, who would not be of any assistance due to the fact that she was currently fighting me, and fighting with me against herself would probably be quite impossible. Also, she wouldn't want to.


It was the haunting cries that rang out of my mind, echoing the wails of children. It was the casual flickering of fires burning out the nooses tied around their necks, and then it was the darkness. There was just the sense of nothingness, just a pit of pity and a black hole of numbing despair.


Death was coming now once again, tearing at the fabric of life and unravelling the threads that held my world together.


The coal of Keda's eyes were bleeding, blood surging like waves in the ocean. Her face was ashen, just as I suspected mine was, while we both drained ourselves of energy, perhaps yelling, perhaps not, perhaps crying, perhaps showing absolutely no emotion whatsoever. We were vying for oxygen, fighting for air. It was only a matter of time before we were both of us to fall.


I could feel my strength dwindling, that feeling in my stomach, my gut, telling me that I was in danger, every nerve screaming at me to get away, to run even though I couldn't. With the last ounce of me I screeched, flooding the air with crackling power. Purple and red ran from me, weaving through the air like a tapestry of decay.


With the air ripping from my lungs and the words tearing from my lips, I hit Keda. all I could see were her eyes, her wicked, wicked eyes. Their steel was a dagger into my heart, and I was bleeding forever.

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