BloodBorne Ch. 09bypurefire©
There was a light in the dark that pulled at her to approach. There was something beautiful about the light; it shone blue in the daylight, and as she approached, Xan smiled at the flecks of silver that floated within the beam of light. Immediately her thoughts went to Liam and the glitter in his eyes when he looked at her. Her stomach warmed pleasantly at the thought of seeing him. With hope, they wouldn't get into another row, which only meant that only one scenario was possible. The thought alone made her tremble in anticipation.
The sight of the crow flying up above made Xan frown. Since when did crows fly overhead in these parts? But as she looked around at the barren meadow surrounding her, she realized that she didn't know what these parts were. The area was pleasant enough; the sun warmed her and there was a subtle breeze that pleasantly bushed over the tiny hairs on her skin. Wait a minute. Wasn't it just dark? How in the hell was it daylight already? Still the blue light flashed brilliantly in the distance, even brighter than in the dark, calling her. She scratched her head in confusion as she spun in a circle. There was nothing around for miles save that blue light. Where was everyone? Shouldn't they have been keeping an eye on her? She was after all, a very valuable human.
She made a mental note to talk to the brothers the second she saw them again.
With a sigh, she headed toward the light, sure that it would take her to some sort of civilization. With hope, someone would have a phone and she could call for a ride to... to... Apparently to nowhere; she didn't know the address to the manor, nor did she have anyone's phone number. Well, this was just lovely. As she walked, Xan sighed wistfully. There was a scent of lilac in the air that reminded her of her mother. For a moment, sadness washed over her and she had to take a few deep breaths to keep from having a small emotional breakdown. It was actually surprising she hadn't had one yet, she mused; in just a few weeks, she'd been through more emotional trauma than many people did in their entire lifetime.
The crow came back, flying dangerously low over her head. While she wasn't afraid of birds, there was something oddly creepy about this one. She walked faster, finding a strange sense of safety in the blue light ahead. It was definitely because the light reminded her of Liam's eyes. She frowned when the sunshine began to burn her skin. Strange; the sunrays only seemed to intensify when she thought of the surly man. Couldn't be some kind of coincidence; she'd been in the paranormal world too long to believe otherwise.
She was approaching something, she realized with relief. A topiary of some kind. As she could only see the head, she could only guess that it was a bird of some kind. One of the larger breeds. A crane, maybe? Xan shook her head as she continued to walk. Hopefully this wouldn't become some real life, modernized version of The Birds. Her mind could only take so much.
There seemed to be a hedge of some kind behind the topiary. As she increased the speed of her walk, Xan realized that the hedge was in actuality some kind of wall. She was definitely close to civilization. She approached slowly, unsure of what would come out to face her. Her defenses were up; she balled her hands into fists and focused her mind on the possible fight ahead. The crow began to scream and she looked behind her to follow its movement. It was then she noticed wall of darkness quickly approaching her. In the dark was a fierce wind that howled in the distance.
To hell with this.
Xan ran forward, barely noticing the fact that the hedge/wall went on in either direction for miles. She only saw the opening in the center and the possibility of safety. She ran in and stopped just at the entrance and cursed in frustration. A maze. A fucking maze. Xan turned to leave, but found that the wall had closed in on itself, locking her in. There was no way out.
What the hell did she get herself into?
While she wanted to call out, something told her that the best strategy was to keep quiet. She was in a maze, which only meant that she had to find the center to get out. Hopefully, anyway. As far as she knew, she was the only person for miles. She took a hesitant step forward, half expecting some sort of demon to rush out at her, and took a calm breath when nothing happened. She continued on, turning left and going deeper into the maze. Xan looked up, hoping for some sort of sign that said "Center of Maze This Way". She only sighed when she saw the blue light. While it was comforting to know that the light was somewhere in the maze, it did nothing to calm her; she still had to walk through the thing.
Xan kept herself together as she navigated through the maze. It was simple enough to get through; the twists and turns did confuse her, but she figured she was halfway through to getting to the center. The crow still screamed in the distance, but the darkness that forced her inside the maze seemed barred from coming in. All that was left was for her to get to the center and get the hell out of here.
Then she would be able to get her hands on the brothers to beat the daylights out of them.
Hadn't she been through enough? She was just semi possessed by... The maze began to tremble dangerously, making her stumble. At the end of the path in front of her, green mist began to materialize, and around it, brilliant pops of energy swirled. Xan wanted to move, wanted to run, but there was something keeping her in place. She watched in horror as a body began to form in the mist. Swathed in red, the figure approached her slowly. Fear gripped her as she realized that Sherlaine was the mastermind of whatever devious plan that took place.
"Finally, a place where we can be alone."
Xan didn't dare speak; she had a feeling that he would use whatever she said against her in some weird ploy to get her to do what he wanted.
"I'm not going to hurt you, Xan."
Yea, and she turned blue every other Sunday for kicks. Xan frowned when she realized she was able to take a step back. She retreated slowly as Sherlaine easily approached. He smiled politely at her and held a hand up in what she assumed was a friendly gesture. The move forced a sizzle of fear down her spine. Her mind screamed for him to go away, to leave her alone.
"I can't do that, Xandra."
Even the sound of her birth name on his tongue made her stomach knot in fear.
"I want to strike a bargain with you."
Yea, like she'd really do that.
Sherlaine's blue eyes glittered in amusement as she continued to retreat from him. "I don't want to kill you. You are too valuable a creature to destroy."
"And I'm supposed to let you bleed me and let out one of the greatest evils known to man?"
"If you mean Zaide, I can assure you that he doesn't want to rule the world."
"No, just kill the people I've come to care about."
"There is a lot of history you don't know about, Xandra. Zaide had no choice but to do what he had to, to survive."
"And my choice is what? To let you? To give you the opportunity to turn my already crappy life into complete shit?" She shook her head violently as she continued to step back. She glanced over his head and realized that she wasn't that far from the blue light. If she could just get passed him... "I will not be the reason your boss kills all those innocent people."
"Your valiance is quite admirable. You're quite the valuable asset."
"I won't let you bleed me, Sherliane."
"Which brings us back to my offer." Sherlaine clasped his hands behind his back as he regarded Xan. He stopped his slow advance on her, ever watchful of the emotions playing on her face. "What if I told you that I could ensure the safety of the Brethren?"
"I'd tell you that you're full of shit."
"You'd be justified in that assumption. But listen to me, Xandra. I am the only hope you have of keeping them alive."
"I'll take my chances."
"And your sister."
"Hijo de puta you stay the fuck away from my sister."
"I will not let any harm come to them if you give me your word to come with me."
"And if I don't?"
"I'll keep you here, locked inside your mind. I will haunt you and break you until you are nothing more than a shell of a human." The shock and fear that contorted her face caused a wave of desire to ripple through him. "Make your choice, Xandra."
She didn't have to think about it; she ran and backtracked through the maze, hoping to find a fork she'd neglected to consider. She ran through, panting for breath as she desperately fought to get to the center of the maze. Xan turned a corner and stopped short when Sherlaine simply walked through the hedge/wall that would have forced her to make a left turn. She quickly turned on her heel and back tracked again, finding another route to get her to the center of the maze.
Her heart pounded in her chest; she heard nothing but the rush of blood through her veins as she ran. Xan knew that if she stood still, she'd shake uncontrollably. Anxiety pushed her toward her goal, forcing her to ignore the burn in her lungs and the stitch in her side. She refused to let him run her life. She refused to be made a prisoner wherever she was.
Xan realized he was toying with her the third time he forced her off course. He was letting her know that he could do this forever, that unlike her, he was not running out of breath. She stopped for a moment, resting her hands on her knees to catch her breath. She looked at the wall of greenery in front of her, and experimentally touched it. It felt like concrete. There went any plan of pushing through the shrubbery to save time.
The sound of Sherlaine's laugh pushed her to keep going, to keep running. She was closer to the center, closer to the blue that reminded her of Liam's eyes. Just a little further and she'd make it. Sherlaine's laughter trailed behind her and her stomach turned to lead. He knew that she was almost there, that she was just a few turns away from escaping him. Sherlaine could have stopped her if he wanted to, but as he was preoccupied with toying with her, he let her go on. It wasn't until she'd reached the center of the maze and saw the bright blue doorway just feet ahead that he materialized in front of her. "You are more resourceful than I'd originally thought, Xandra."
"Yea, well, there's no fucking way in hell I'll ever willingly come to you." She slowly sidestepped, hoping he'd yammer on again and give her the opportunity to run for the door.
"Then I will have to keep you here until you change your mind."
Xan laughed despite the fear coursing through her. If she didn't make it to the door, she was done. "You can't have my blood if I'm stuck here."
"No, but who would protect your loved ones if you were gone?"
"I'll kill you before you get the chance!" White hot rage unlike any she'd ever known coursed through her. Xan shook from the force of it and had to force herself to concentrate on the demon in front of her before she gave into the haze. In her rage, she felt her marked arm begin to burn and tingle. She rushed toward him, bloodlust driving her to insanity. She threw a right hook, knowing that somehow, it was what he expected. When Sherlaine moved to block the move, she grabbed hold of his arm with her left hand. A surge of power she'd never felt before shot through her marked arm, and it was with that power that she was able to fling him sideways. Shock made her stand still as she realized that he weighed no more than a blip of air. Her power, however, clearly affected him, as he was visibly winded by the throw. It was when he started to rise that she bolted for the door.
Xan was tired and it seemed as if the door was quickly shrinking as she ran toward it. She realized that she wouldn't make it, and it seemed that the extreme fear of imprisonment caused another power surge, this time in her legs. She leapt for the door, using that newfound power to shoot her forward. Xan landed hard in front of the doorway, winded as she was facedown. She groaned harshly and grabbed the doorjamb of the doorway, thankful that it stopped shrinking the second she touched it. She pulled and dragged herself through it, unsure of what would happen if she gained her feet. Halfway through, she cried out when Sherlaine took hold of her leg. His hold on her was painful and his anger was strong enough to drag her backward. Xan held onto the doorframe with every bit of strength in her body, fighting to pull herself through. She was right there; she just had to get her legs through.
"I like you Xandra, I really do, but you have to understand that I will not give up without a fight. I will have you."
Her stomach clenched in fear when he pulled her back further. The surge of power reverberated through her legs once more and she kicked back, breaking his old on her. She heard his shout in protest but didn't bother to look back. She pulled herself through the doorway and tumbled through blackness, falling. Xan screamed as she plummeted; she was blinded by darkness and the only thing she felt was the rush of air on her body as she continued to fall. Maybe this wasn't the way out.
Maybe this was Sherlaine's plan all along.
"No!" Xan shot upright as she held her chest. Her heart was about to burst out of her chest, but the only thing that concerned her was the fact that she was somehow in Liam's bed. She looked around the room, at the familiar surroundings and the unmistakable scent of him, and felt more fear. Was she really in his room or was she trapped someplace else? She jumped when the door opened and stared at Liam with wide eyes as he walked in.
"Where am I?"
She looked around the room, unsure of what to believe. "Where'd Sherlaine go?"
"Hell, if I had my way."
The response gave her a small sense of security. Only Liam would give an answer like that. She placed a hand on her head and let out a shaky breath as she tried to make sense of what happened. Had she been dreaming? She had to have been; she was still in the manor. But if she had been, then it only meant... No, impossible. If Sherlaine was still in her mind, he would have only possessed her again. Why mess with her if he had more fun messing with the brothers?
"Xan?" Liam walked forward and sat on the edge of the bed. She seemed disoriented and confused. Her hand shook as she smoothed it over her face. "What happened?"
"Bad dream, I guess."
"Are you ok?" He stiffened in surprise when she launched herself into his arms. He held her tightly, running his hands over her back. Liam had seen her vulnerable before, but never like this; she clutched him to her, placing her hands on his body in a way that suggested she wanted to ensure he was real. "Xan, what did you dream about?"
"I-" she stopped when Lindsay appeared in the doorway. "What happened? How is your brother? Did he wake up?"
"No, we're going to try now," Lindsay replied, "We just wanted to make sure you were all right before we tried anything."
"I..." She knew she should have said something, but it seemed as if helping their brother was more important. She could tell them what she dreamt of later. "Is it ok if I come too?" Liam's answer was to help her off the bed before leading her to his brother's room. The three remained silent as they walked down the hall. It wasn't a far walk to Caleb's room at all, and Xan was amazed by the fact that his room did not have a real door. Though the room was filled with men and Alauria, she was amazed by the look of Caleb's room. For moment, she thought that the walls were white but upon closer inspection, she realized that they were a pale grey, set off by the black furniture of the room. Simple black and white photographs adorned the walls. Straight ahead, Caleb's overlarge bed rested between two narrow, wall length windows. To the left, Alexis sat perched on a chair, twiddling his thumbs over his cell phone. The twins stood on either side of the large armoire perched on the right side of the room. They both stared at the tan rug set at the foot of the bed. The room was quite simple and would have been her ideal haven had it not had the heavy emotions running through everyone.
It was a peaceful environment, one that seemed fitting considering the current circumstances. Xan remained glued to the entrance to the room and watched the brothers as they gathered around Caleb. Lindsay walked to Alauria and placed a tender kiss on the top of her head before looking to Alexis. "What's going on?" Xan asked.
"We're going to see if we can use Alauria to wake him."
"Is that even smart? You don't think she'd..." Xan broke off when Alauria shook her head at her.
"She'll be fine," Alexis assured. He nodded to Alauria, a signal to begin.
Xan watched in apprehension as Alauria positioned herself on the edge of Caleb's bed. She placed her hands on either side of his head, and there was a moment of silence as everyone watched her work. Xan was anxious; she hoped that the same fate didn't befall the woman brave enough to help. At the same time, she was hopeful that this would work. Endless minutes passed as everyone watched Alauria fight to mimic Caleb's powers and for a moment, Xan was sure something would happen; there seemed to be a small surge of energy pulsating through the room. Though Alauria's back was to her, she shook ever so slightly.
Xan held her breath as she silently prayed for this to work. It had to work; had it not been for her weak mind, Sherlaine would not have gotten in and would not have put Caleb in a cosmic coma. Common sense told her that it wasn't practical for her to blame herself; if anything, she should have blamed Andrae, her wonderful distant cousin, as he knew what he was getting them into. But then again, she'd been the one to ask to leave the protection of the house. Had she hardened her heart and found another way to make her sister happy, none of this would have happened.
Yes, this was in part, her fault.
"It's not working," Alauria whispered.
Xan expelled the breath she held. She didn't know how long the brothers worked to save Caleb, and she didn't care; there had to be some way to bring him back. She looked at the men in the room, watched as Lindsay escorted his weary wife out of the room and just knew that they were screwed. Short of help from Jesus Christ himself, there was nothing they could do. Xan wasn't stupid enough to say that though; the brothers were tense enough. "What do we do now?"
"We wait for Lindsay to come back," Roman replied. He moved forward to adjust the pillows beneath Caleb's head before adding, "We've already tried every trick western medicine has to offer. They only managed to give him a couple of seizures that have only made him worse."
"So why wait for Lindsay?" Xan leaned into Liam as he gently ran a hand over her back. Something about the atmosphere of the room seemed to remind her that she was still tired. A veil of fatigue settled over her, but she fought it off; she had to be awake and aware of everything that happened. She still hadn't told the brothers about her dream and feared that she would have another equally frightening encounter with Sherlaine if she fell asleep. While he couldn't control her body anymore, it was terrifying to know that he could still communicate with her through her dreams.
"We want to try some light shock therapy," Alexis answered. He remained seated in the corner of the room, observing as he rolled his cell phone in his hands. Xan noticed that through his normal stoic expression, there was an air of despair in his eyes. The weight of the situation hit her like a ton of bricks; through everything, Alexis had been the one brother to have no outward reaction to whatever they faced. To see the sadness in his eyes now...