BloodBorne Ch. 11bypurefire©
"Liam, wake up."
The sharp slap that came from a small hand made Liam groan. Who the hell was hitting him? Why was he even asking? There was only one person alive brave and stupid enough to put her hands on him. "I swear on the old man's head, Xan, if you hit me again-"
"If you open your eyes and look at who she is, you'll clearly see that she is my woman, not yours."
Liam's eyes snapped open at the sound of Lindsay's voice. There was a rasp behind his words, a clear sign that his patience had run thin. Liam noticed that every single one of his brothers were sprawled out on the floor. Draco and Roman remained unconscious while Alauria applied the same slapping method to wake Alexis. "What the fuck happened?" He looked around the room, checking for blood or any sign of need of his abilities. There were none. Instead there was an emptiness that scared him. "Where are Arianna and Xan?" Liam didn't wait for an answer before staggering to his feet. It felt as if he'd had too much to drink.
"Did we go on a bender last night?"
Liam looked over at Draco as he struggled to sit up. There was a small cut on his cheek, but it wasn't serious enough to warrant healing. "Where the fuck is Xan?" Liam asked again.
"I don't know," Alauria replied, "You were the only ones in here when I walked in." She walked to her husband and leaned into his protective embrace. "Arianna isn't around either."
"That's because she was behind this," Alexis declared. He looked at his family, at each look of confusion cast at him and shook his head in disgust as he explained. "Don't you remember? The levitation? The black eyes?"
"That sounds familiar," Roman said. He placed a hand on the back of his neck to rub out the tension that had built from his awkward position on the floor. "Xan was standing next to her and then she started-"
"That voodoo mumbo-jumbo," Draco finished. He snapped his fingers when complete recollection came to him. "She started levitating and then we blacked out."
"I trusted her," Alexis angrily muttered, "I allowed this to happen."
"Don't blame yourself," Draco comforted, "How the hell were we supposed to know she was one of the bad guys?"
"Why are you so convinced that she is?" Alauria asked.
Andrae scowled at the woman a second before saying, "You weren't even here when it went down. Don't be so quick to defend her."
"Don't be so quick to blame her," Alauria asserted. She glanced at the brothers in the room, uncaring about their sympathetic and incredulous looks. "What makes you think Xan wasn't responsible?"
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Liam roared. He refused to believe that Xan had anything to do with what happened. Xan was the target, not an accomplice. He would know if she had anything to do with this.
"Watch your tone with her," Lindsay warned. He felt the shudder that went through Alauria at Liam's shout and immediately took offense.
Liam shook his head in defiance. "She doesn't even fucking know Xan."
"Do you?" Lindsay countered, "It's been what, a month?"
"Don't fucking start with me."
Lindsay would have taken a step forward had Alauria not held him back. Instead, he pushed her behind him, an unconscious move to shield her from his brother's temper. "You started this the second you raised your voice to my wife."
"Stop fighting," Alauria interjected. She stepped out from behind Liam and faced him head on despite her discomfort. "I never said that Xan was responsible, Liam."
"You just fucking said-"
"Yes, I know what I said. If you'd let me finish, you'd be singing a different tune."
Liam remained silent for a moment, waiting for the woman to finish her thought. It was bad enough that he was ready to kill someone, even his brother if it came to it, but he refused to let anyone malign Xan. When another minute passed in silence he said, "Well?"
"What I was trying to say was that maybe it was Xan, but not Xan." She looked at her husband and continued at his encouraging nod. "What if Sherliane acted through her?"
"Cale severed the link," Roman refuted.
"What if he only wanted you to think he did? What if he was waiting for the perfect moment to strike where it hurt most?"
"Xan was having the dreams," Andrae reminded.
"This is my fault," Alexis repeated, "I should have never brought Arianna into this."
"Lexi, you didn't know," Roman consoled, "None of us did. Lex!" He cried out for his brother as the silent leader stormed out of the room. "Damn, he's no good to us like this."
"What the hell do we do now?" Lindsay asked.
"Search the house. There has to be a something somewhere." Liam felt it was his responsibility to take over the lead until Alexis came to terms with the severity of their situation. "Drake, Rome, search the ground floor. Lindsay, go take care of your woman. Get her out of here if you need to. D., I need you to check on Xion while I take this floor."
"Why do I get the kid?"
"Because I fucking said so." He would never admit to the fact that his brother was far better with the child than he was. Liam was fond of Xion, yes, but there was something about his brother that seemed to work wonders with her. "Would you just do it?"
"Fine," Andrae murmured before shimmering out of the room.
Liam watched Lindsay lead Alauria out of the room before checking on Caleb. His brother seemed paler than before, but he no worse for wear. Was Xan all right? Was she hurt or simply pissing the shit out of someone? As he walked out of the room, he hoped she was somewhere in the house. Instinct told him that she wasn't, but he had to hold on hope. If Sherlaine truly did find a way to get her out of the house, she could have been anywhere in the world. She could have been in the underworld.
Liam checked three rooms before panic truly began to set in. How was he supposed to cope with the danger she no doubt faced? Sherlaine was irritatingly polite, but that out of place character trait only seemed to add to the danger that was him. Was he torturing her? Was he bleeding her, getting what he needed to wreak havoc on the world? Liam knew that the demon wouldn't kill her, but that didn't mean that he couldn't make her wish for death.
The door to the weaponry room was slightly ajar. Liam's heart rate accelerated in fear as he approached. He toed the door open and quickly surveyed the visible areas of the room before stepping in. He'd only taken five steps into the room before the dark area permeating through the room stopped him cold. Arianna was in the room and he wondered weather or not one of the room's weapons was imbedded in her small body.
Liam walked to her body and sighed in relief at seeing that like him and his brothers earlier, she was only unconscious. He lifted Arianna into his arms and continued to search for Xan. He came across Alexis on his way to the workout room and handed the sorceress to his incredulous brother and walked on. Liam didn't want to admit to himself that Xan wasn't in the house, that somehow, she'd found a way past the enchantments and left. Or maybe she was taken. It was difficult to decide which scenario was true when he wasn't sure who was in control.
"She's not anywhere downstairs," Roman announced as he walked into the game room. He'd observed Liam for a few moments before speaking, shocked at the empty desolation that shadowed him. Liam was known for his dark personality and temper, but this... this was something Roman had never seen before. "Any luck up here?"
"No, she's gone."
"We'll find her, Liam."
Liam turned to look at his brother and had it not been for the hopeful look on his face, he would have given him some choice words. "The question is how."
"We'll figure it out. We always do."
"Yeah, but at what fucking price?"
Roman looked behind him to make sure they were the only ones in the room before he said, "She's not Nadia, Liam."
The name alone sent a jolt of fear down his spine. "I won't let that happen." He refused to let her die.
"None of us will."
Liam was sure his brother meant that, but it wasn't on Roman or any of his brothers to ensure Xan's livelihood. It was on him, his responsibility to take care of her. He'd failed her this one time, but he refused to fail her again. He'd find her and then he'd kill Sherlaine for good. It was time that son of a bitch demon vanished from their lives.
* * * * *
It felt as if she was floating. There wasn't anything solid around her, no soft mattress, no hard walls, and no patches of grass. She was surrounded by black, but she figured it was because her eyes were closed. She wasn't trapped in her mind again, no; when Sherlaine took over, the sensation was comparable to being locked in a small room lined with one- way mirrors; she could see out, but no one could see in.
But this was different; she was warm, she was floating, and she had a wonderful fuzzy feeling drifting through her. Fear wasn't much of an option when she considered the sensations coursing through her body. It really was a shame that this was simply the calm before the storm.
"It's time to wake, Xandra."
She groaned defiantly, uncaring of the consequences of her actions. The floating continued for a few more moments before she felt the plush fabric associated with an extravagant duvet beneath her. So she literally was floating.
"Xandra, we have work to do."
She remained still, hoping he would leave her alone a while longer. She had to think of a plan to not only keep the demon out of her mind, but to keep her blood in her body and prevent a possible apocalypse. Her air supply was promptly cut off, and Xan reflexively reached for her neck. She convulsed as her lungs seized, desperate for oxygen. Xan's eyes flew open, only to find Sherlaine hovering over her with a knowing smile on his face. His blue eye sparkled dangerously as he slowly ran his fingertips along the length of her marked arm. She gurgled; from the lack of air or indignation at being touched by him, she could not decide.
"If you're done rebelling, I'd like to get to it." Sherlaine watched her struggle and writhe on the bed as her body begged for oxygen. Exhilaration coursed through him at the tremble of fear that went through her. He would have loved nothing more than to sink his teeth into her tender flesh, to taste the nectar her pulsing veins promised, but her blood was too valuable. Too dangerous. To take one drop of her blood would put him in a vulnerable position he could not afford. He opened her airwaves and watched as she sucked in a lung full of air. "Remember your place."
Xan would have loved nothing better than to tell him where he could stick his place, but the reminder of her situation kept her quiet. She took a moment to glace around her surroundings, almost impressed by the luxury that dripped from ever corner of the room. Rich burgundies and gold adorned the walls in both silk wallpaper and sconces. Sheer drapes in teal, blue and deep purple softened the fluorescent lights that threatened harshness. Xan noticed that there were no windows in the room. Nor were there any doors. Save the pile of large plush pillows on the carpeted floor, the only furniture in the room was the bed she lay on. "I want you out of my head. For good."
"And here I thought you enjoyed my company."
"Out." Xan cried out at the severe burn that coursed through her body. Starting at the tips of her toes and rolling upwards, it seared through her and stopped at her head. It felt as if her head would explode. A swollen, stretched sensation made her grab her head in an effort to keep her skin from ripping open. "What are you doing to me?" she shouted. She screamed again when the sensation comparable to pulling a large object out of a gaping wound gripped her. Her ears, nose and mouth felt jammed. The burn passed through the openings, searing her to her core. The pain intensified to unspeakable proportions before slowly fading to a dull throb that shot through every cell of her body. Xan hadn't realized she'd screwed her eyes closed until they opened at Sherlaine's command. She watched in amazement as the yellow mist she'd encountered at the mall floated above her before seeping into the demon.
"See how easy it is to be accommodating?"
Had she the strength or even the voice to speak, she would have given him the piece of her mind she usually saved for Liam. She lay back on the bed, panting for breath, waiting for the pain to fade completely. "What did you do to me?"
"I removed a part of myself from you."
"So we weren't linked?"
Sherlaine laughed merrily at her question. "You believed what I wanted you to believe." He casually sat down on the edge of the bed, turning toward her so that he had a perfect view of her face as they spoke. "If you all believed that I simply linked our minds, something I would never do by the way, and if I remained patient and laid in wait, then I had the means to gather all of the information I could."
There was much about what he said that brought several questions to the forefront of her mind. Xan decided to tackle the questions one at a time. "Why would you never link our minds?"
"Once a link is made, it is difficult to break the bond." He held his hand up to stop her when she began to speak. "It is difficult to break the bond because once the link is made, our subconscious' begin to blend together, making it increasingly difficult to separate over time." Sherliane smiled glibly as he said, "As entertaining as your mind is, Xandra, I have no desire to be part of it until your years expire."
"You mean you don't want me to know your deepest, darkest secrets." Like how to kill him, she thought. For the first time, she almost wished that they were linked. Not only would she have a means to kill him, but she would have learned his plan concerning the man she saw in her vision. His smile told her everything she needed to know.
Sherlaine casually crossed one leg over the other as he regarded the woman in front of him. She'd shifted to rest her back against the headboard as she watched him closely. There was a spark of recognition in her eyes and not one ounce of the earlier fear he found enticing. "There are certain things I prefer to keep to myself."
"What did you want to learn about us?"
"Interesting choice of words." He expected her to say something smart, as was her penchant when she felt cornered, but was surprised when she only stared at him critically. "I learned everything I could, Xandra. Even when you thought you were in control, I was there, listening and learning far more than I thought possible."
"You went through a lot of trouble to bring him back."
"Bring who back?"
"The blood-sucking son of a bitch you worked for." At the mix of confusion and amusement that lit his eyes, she continued, "You've been trying to bring Zaide back since he was taken from you." His soft laugh took her by surprise. "What?"
"The last thing I want is to bring that man back."
The incredulous look in her eyes made him smile. "If you were concerned about him, you do not have to be."
"So you weren't planning on letting him out?"
"I only wanted you to think that I was."
Relief washed over Xan in waves. Knowing that she wouldn't be responsible for releasing the one demon Liam and his brothers loathed the most. Zaide killed Andrae's woman and terrorized the family. She did wonder his plans for her once he was released, unsure if he would be as civil as Sherliane. The simple thought of Zaide terrified her. "So what are you trying to release?" Sherliane only smiled at her, that glib smile that held many secrets that made fear slide down her spine. That smile told her all she needed to know. That smile told her that Zaide would have been a lesser evil compared to what he had planned.
Sherlaine stood and clasped his hands behind his back. He watched the dull flush take over her face, satisfied that her fear had returned. Eagerness made his stomach clench as anticipation rose within him. "You need to conserve your strength, Xandra. We have much to do."
She watched as he began to teleport out of the room and realized that there were still questions she needed answered. "Wait. What about me?"
"I do suppose you need provisions and entertainment." Sherliane smiled as he continued to shimmer out of the room. "I'll have things brought to you shortly."
Shortly was in actuality thirty seconds. Xan barely had time to emit a tired sigh before a large plasma screen television appeared in the far corner of the room. Beside it, a large buffet style table materialized, covered with trays of food. Pizza, pasta, steak and many other kinds of food littered the tabletop. She wished for a bottle of whiskey; nothing would be better than the total oblivion that came with extreme intoxication. Sherlaine probably knew this; why would he allow her to drink when he needed her blood clear of all impurities?
She decided to pick at the food in front of her. Xan wasn't particularly hungry, but she needed all of the energy she could conserve. Knowing what she did about Sherlaine, she wouldn't have much to spare once he was done. She delicately gnawed on a piece of grilled chicken and turned on the television. Under normal circumstances, she would have enjoyed watching the kickboxing match that aired, but the match only reminded her of Dymos matches, which only reminded her of Pogue. He would have hated Liam and most likely would have fought him on countless occasions. Not that she blamed him; as much as she fought with the man, it was a miracle either one of them still lived.
Pogue would have gotten along with the twins and her cousins. His personality mirrored Draco's while his outward demeanor matched that of Alexis. The mix created one hell of a dry sense of humor that shocked everyone around him.
Xan didn't fight the wave of emotion that came over her at the memory of her friend. What she wouldn't do to hear him yell at her for the mess she was in because of course it was her fault that she was the key to world destruction. He'd fix her with those hazel eyes of his and tell her that she was a fool for getting herself into trouble yet again. Then he'd sit her down and tell her that everything would be all right because together they would find a way to fix it. Even if he had to shift to look like her, he'd do everything he could to fix it for her and Xion.
Xan didn't wipe the tears that fell freely from her eyes. This was the first time in countless days that she'd properly been able to mourn the loss of her friend. This was the first time she'd truly felt alone. Emptiness welled inside her chest as the memory of his passing came to her. She hadn't wanted to go to that Dymos; she'd nearly begged Pogue to change his mind about participating, but like Alexis, he'd only fixed her with a look that suggested she argue no more.
And so they went to the Dymos that fundamentally changed her life. No Pogue, no fighting, and definitely no freedom. She was nothing but a tool now, a means to a bloody, apocalyptic end. If she was a braver woman, she would have taken the coward's way out.
Xan glanced at the table, at the small paring knife lodged within the small honeyed ham and pulled it out of the meat before she thought better of it. The blade was sharp, sharp enough to break open her tender flesh with just the smallest bit of pressure. She ran the pad of her thumb over the sharp edge of the blade as she asked herself if she was brave enough to do it. Or would it have been foolish of her? Would Sherlaine keep his word if she thwarted him or would he unleash his anger on the Brethren and Xion?
"It would be very foolish of you to do what I think you are considering, Xandra."
Xan whirled toward the sound of Sherlaine's voice, wincing as her hand closed over the blade of the knife. She ignored the burn that came with the piercing of the skin and tried to keep her hand still to keep the demon from seeing the damage. "It's called knocking. Try it sometime."