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?

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27. Bad Blood

Yet another dream consumed me.

"I'm dying," I repeated to myself. "I don't know how and I don't know why, but I'm dying and I'm dying pretty damn fast."

I turned, and I saw a pair of red eyes. Lurching towards Kay, I let out a strangled cry of relief. I wasn't dying. No, not yet, not yet. Not yet.

He lets out a breath, too, but I don't think this is purely of relief. "Darla," he whispers in my ear. "Darla, you're okay, you're with me. Keda can't hurt you here, my darling. Nobody can. Nobody can. Nobody."

Nobody. I say it to myself again, repeating it over and over again like a prayer. My voice catches, snagging like skin on barbed wire, and I begin to panic. "I can't do it, Kay," I sobbed. "I tried so hard, but I can't. What if they won't take me back, what if they hate me? What if I do as I am told and they hate me and then you hate me, what if I lose everything, what if Keda wins. She'll have me, my soul, my everything, to have for her own as she wishes. Kay... I'm scared."

I'd been like this for over an hour, according to a great grandfather clock in a corner. Hysterical, screaming, crying, curled up in to Kay's body's like a child. His words were whispered like smoke into my ear, and I was for a moment, sure that that was all he was. Red Eyes, my red eyed boy, turning to nothing but red eyes smoke as I clung to him. But after everything, despite my instincts, I found myself doubting how trustworthy he really was. And I hated myself for it, just as I hated myself for wanting to be so, so tantalisingly, beautifully close to him, to feel his touch running over my skin.

I was almost becoming worried about it.

Raising my hand, I curled it around his shoulder, holding him tighter, and he sank to the floor with me in his arms.

"Darla, love," he began, "you don't have to do this. If it pains you, if it hurts you, I'll do it myself. I'll do anything, my darling. Anything for you."

"No," I choked out. "No, no I will do it. Of course I'll do it. I - I can't let you down, Kay. I won't let myself."

There was a short, high laugh from beside us, and I turned to stare into Sarise's face. "Aw, look at that," she crooned. "Two little lovebirdssss, ssso in love. 'I can't let you down, Kay!' 'Anything for you, my darling.' It's pathetic. Besides, missss Darla, you are only our apprentice." She wrinkled her nose as if it was a profanity she had just uttered. "I, however, am Kay here's partner, and quite frankly, I should be more than that, we're it not for my senssse of true and good moral direction taking over." I didn't think Sarise's had an ounce 'good and true moral direction' in her body. "Now, Darla, if you would be sssso kind to leave us in peace for just a short while, that would be lovely. Kay here is all mine for a little while tonight. Aren't you?"

She licked her ruby red lips, and I shuddered. "Of course," I said shortly, standing up and leaving Kay's arms still open wide. "I'll wait for you two for when you are through with talking."

"Great. Now, there's a mirror just over there, I suggesssst you try and look without it smashing. You're a frightful messsss, dear."

Kay ground his teeth, clenching his fists. "Sarise, just leave her alone. Come talk to me."

As I busied myself looking in the mirror, fixing my limp, almost white hair, taking in my alabaster skin and pale, milky blue eyes, I found myself wondering yet again exactly what punishment the guards had chosen to enact upon the me that was not me. Even my skin seemed dead, as though it was hanging lifeless lay off of my bones, like there was no blood left in my body and still I bled from my heart.

"It's dangeroussss, Kay," I heard Sarise say, voice dripping with honey and a sugar sweet venom. "You can't go getting mixed up in the livesss of others when there is so much at stake for usss. I'm ssscared for you, Kay." Turning my body a little, I could see her sitting strewn across his lap, running a hand through his hair. "Oh, Darla, you aren't jealousss are you?" she asked with a laugh, upon seeing me watching.

"No, not at all," I found myself saying, forcing a smile. "You just be happy." If that was Lady Ari's influence upon my mind, then Lady Ari's influence upon my mind seriously sucked.

"Thanksss, dear," Sarise said with a saccharine sweet smile. "You're ever so kind." She turned back around, and laughed, lips almost touching Kay's, a fire burning in his eyes. She murmured something to him then, and he laughed, but pulled away from her slightly. "Now," Sarise said, making her voice louder than a thousand of them together, "what was I sssayinh?"

"It's dangerous getting involved," Kay replied drily.

"Yes, of courssse. Well, you sssee, dear, this Lady Ari you've been telling me about," my ears pricked up, "she can't really be willing to stand with ussss, can she? She made quite clear she issss with Keda, you saw that in the meeting. I appreciate that you are entranced by her - Darla, pleassse stop that, I can practically sssmell the jealousy radiating off of you - but you need to ssstop. I'm the only woman you'll ever need, dear, if only you were to realissse it. Don't you agree, Darla dearessst?"

"Sure," I murmured, humouring her.

"See? Even your preciousss little Darla agreesss with me." She leaned in towards him, but he scooted away, a harsh glare in his eyes.

"Need and want are two very different things, Sarise. I'll make my own mind up about them both."

It was like I was on fire, suddenly, and I jumped, turning to Sarise. I'd been set alight by her, and it was a shock that my body wasn't crumbling into ash already. My heart thrummed, as I panicked slightly. "Girl, come here," she barked as an order, in the way that a zoo keeper might shout to his lions. "My lovely Kay here is having a bit of an isssssue about where his loyalties lie," she hissed. "He's forgetting that I am of a higher level of power to him. Don't you think he deservesss to be reminded?"

Against my own will, I nodded.

"And don't you alssso think that, despite his grand show of being in charge, that he had no right to tell you what to perform as a tassk for him? For it was me who was supposssed to do it, and yet he thought he had more right than me to give ordersss?" Again, I nodded, though my heart was screaming profanities. "Now, I reckon we should teach him a lesssson."

She pulled me around to face Kay, and pushed me towards him, laughter dancing in the air. "Come on now, Darla dearessst, teach him a little lesson about love."

I ducked suddenly, as a stream of ethereal pink light shone above me, grower darker and redder by the second. Kay was hanging against the wall, pinned there by Sarise's strange magic. His body shook and he screamed profanities, but it didn't affect Sarise, her face as stony cold as a ice battered rock. "Oh, Darla, come on," she crooned. "Give him a little kisssss there, give him a little bit of love."

But I didn't want to. Even if this was Kaden, I couldn't kiss him like this. Darla and Kaden didn't sound right anymore, didn't feel right anymore. "Do it!" Sarise shrieked, laughing callously, and I found myself forced towards him, found his lips upon mine. It didn't feel right.

I pulled myself away from him, as the light faded away. Sarise laughed. "A little lesssson about love for you too, Darla. It can easssily be twisssted into hate."

Kay grabbed my leg, and he pulled me towards the floor, dragging me along the draughty stones. I screamed, but he didn't care, as he threw me towards a wall, face first. "Darla," he snarled. "You might as well die now, save yourself from the pain. You haven't got long left, anyway. How better a way to go than dying from my embrace?" He wrapped his arms around my waist, and lifted me up.

I'd been weakened by the guards, but a bitter slice of Kaden had managed to sneak its way into my bones. He had me hanging over the staircase, but I raised my heel and jabbed it straight upwards beneath his legs. Kaden howled in pain, stumbling back as I grabbed the banister to my right, shaking and leaning against it.

"You dirty rotten bitch!" he yelled, running towards me. I didn't like his fire now. It was left alone, unhinged, untamed, and I was directly in its path. He leapt at me, but just in time I swing myself over the edge of the banister, flipping over it with ease, though my heart was still pounding. Cursing a stubbed toe, I jumped over again, landing on his shoulders.

His hands grabbed onto my legs, and he pulled me off of him, trying to through me onto the ground below, but I stayed firm, gripping onto the banister for dear life. I let go and dropped to the floor, my teeth at his ankle as I bit it. I fell to the floor in a jumble of limbs, as Kaden snarled like an unwed wolf, hungry for a little taste of blood. He picked me up off of the floor like I was a rag doll, wrapping his arms around my neck, strangling me. I was kicking and thrashing into a jarring expanse of fear and reality, but he clicked his fingers and vines of poison ivy wrapped around my legs. My strength was waning, I couldn't find the energy to fight. He held me there, all too willing to kill me. How was it that only a short while ago I had been longing for his touch, and now I was terrified of it.

Love, twisted into hate. That was the answer I knew. "If you don't let me go, Kaden," I choked out, "I will bloody well kill you."

"Oh, Darla, my dear," he drawled. "You did that a long time ago."

There was a knife in my pocket. I didn't want to, but this wasn't Kaden anymore, nor was it Kay, it didn't feel like either of them.

No, this felt different. This felt like a monster to destroy.

"No! Stop that at once!" Sarise yelled, just as I raised the knife. She clicked her fingers, and Kaden dropped to the floor, with a short puff of breath. "Don't kill him, dear. Jussst teach him a lesssson. After all, you're both frail enough already." She laughed highly. "Oh, and don't forget your misssssion. Bring your little friendssss here, to kill Keda. I promissse, you, none of you, will regret it."

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