Daybreak Ch. 13bypurefire©
Nadia turned to look at Andraemalek and found him staring at her angrily. She knew that he thought that she'd given up on him and that she'd finally found a way to leave him and his life. There was no longer any life in his eyes. The black pools seemed endless and void. He didn't understand her motives, that she was doing what she had to do to protect her family. He probably never would, a fact that broke her heart. "Can I say goodbye to them?"
Zaide thought for a moment, considering the repercussions of the request. Nadia wasn't capable of escape, and he'd make sure he was in the next room in case anything happened. "I don't see a problem with that." Her request also gave him time to rearrange his plans.
"Alone," Nadia demanded, "And none of your mojo."
"Do you think I'm an idiot?"
Nadia shifted her eyes to look at the demon that was to take her life. "You really don't want to know what I think about you."
"And here I thought you found me charming."
"Just say yes, Zaide."
He smiled at her bold command as he said, "Ten minutes."
"Sixty," Nadia corrected. When he tried to argue, she added, "Grant a dying woman her last wish."
He couldn't really argue with that. It was the least he could do. "Fine. One hour starting now." Zaide looked to his followers, the witnesses to his little game. "Let's give them some privacy." He waited until the room cleared before teleporting himself out.
Nadia immediately walked to Andraemalek. Neither he nor Jameson could move, which meant that there was no hope of them getting out before her death. She reached out to touch her hand to the side of his face and did not fight the fresh tears that fell. She would never get to touch him again. "Andrae."
"How could you do this, Nadia?"
His voice was gruff, a clear sign that he fought hard to mask his despair with anger. "Baby, I'm sorry. I had to do this." Though he could not move, she still hugged him, hoping that he still accepted her love. "Please don't hate me or Jameson." This choice had been taken from his hands; the only person he should have hated was Zaide.
"I could never hate you."
She didn't say anything to his particular phrasing. "Give me a minute to say goodbye to them." Nadia didn't wait for his agreement and quickly walked to the front of the room where Charisma stood frozen. Her friend couldn't look her in the eye and it was clear that she blamed herself for what was about to happen. "Jameson is really going to need you after this. Don't let him down."
Nadia knew what she was asked. "The world needs you more than me right now. It had to be done."
Charisma found it hard to believe that Nadia wasn't in the middle of a severe anxiety attack. Didn't she understand the monumental sacrifice she was making? She was going to die and acted as if she'd only lost her favorite pet. "How can you be so calm about this?"
"It's not the first time I'm going to die."
"But no one's going to bring you back this time."
Nadia looked away for a moment. She didn't want to think about that. "I'm glad he finally found you."
"It's going to be tough for a while, but you two can make it. Please be there for him."
Charisma tried to fight the knot in her throat that signaled tears, but knew that there was no use. "Nadia, please don't do this." She wished she could have reached out to her friend; the contact could have given Nadia some kind of sense.
"It's already been done." Nadia placed a kiss on Charisma's cheek before she walked to Jameson's sullen form. He refused to make eye contact with her as well and while she understood why, she still did not like it. "Jameson, look at me."
"Please don't ask me to do anything else for you."
She let out a breath before she said, "Don't blame yourself."
The ludicrous request prompted him to look at her. "Don't blame myself?" The pleading look in Nadia's eyes did nothing to calm him. "Nadia, I've just taken you from my own brother." How could she ask him to take this lightly?
"No, Zaide is taking me from your brother." The correction did nothing to placate him, she knew, but it needed to be said. Nadia took a step forward and made sure to lower her voice as she said, "I couldn't let her grow to resent you."
"He would have chosen me no matter what you said."
The impact of Nadia's words made him stare at her in disbelief. "You knew you were going to die?" How could she know that and not tell anyone? Didn't she know that they would have done something, anything to keep her safe?
Nadia's answer was to wrap her arms around him as a show of affection and comfort. She didn't see the use in dwelling on what was to happen. There were too many other important things to be said and done. "Andrae will be understandably upset for a while. Well, a long time, but he will come back."
"I'm not sure about that."
"No matter how he feels, his love for you will never die." She glanced at Charisma who stood watching and added, "Take care of her. She's going to blame herself for this."
"Not as much as I'll blame myself." He should have never allowed himself to become bait. He could have done something to prevent this. Selfishness was the cause; had he fought to keep his feelings under control, he would have had more room to think clearly. He would have seen this coming. He could have... "I'm so sorry, Nadia."
"Remind her that what I see can't be changed. Everyone will heal. Give it time and you will too."
"Why aren't you scared?"
"I'm terrified," Nadia replied on a slight laugh, "But who's being scared going to help?" She tilted her head to the side at the odd sound in the room. "Roman?"
"I can get you out," Roman declared as he became visible. His part of the plan was to infiltrate the compound and find the captives. He'd not only that and informed Alexis of their location, but he'd found a way back into the compound. He'd witnessed everything and would have killed Zaide himself, but the demon had his brother's powers. Jameson needed them back before the bastard died.
"No, he'll just use his powers to bring me back."
"You have to let me try."
"I won't risk anyone else getting hurt for me. You guys are about to go through enough." Nadia walked to the curious twin and took his hands in hers. She forced a smile for his benefit, because it made no sense to show him that there was a part of her that secretly wished that he could take her away. "I'm sorry that we didn't get to know each other longer."
"Let me try," Roman pleaded. He could find a way to get her out. "You don't have to die."
"There's no use arguing," Andraemalek called out, "She wants to go. She wants to leave us."
"What I want is to be with my family but I guess I'll have to settle for watching over you guys instead."
Roman wanted to argue, wanted to say more, but no words came to him. How did he tell someone that he'd only known for a few days that her sacrifice only made him love her more? She was part of his family and the knowledge of his helplessness devastated him. "Nadia..." He stopped when she pulled him in for a hug. She was shaking, he noticed, but he said nothing to it. She needed support, not argument.
"Tell Lex that his favor will be returned when he least expects it." Nadia moved to pull away but stopped when he tightened his hold. On impulse, she lifted herself to the tips of her toes and beckoned him lower. "Wait for the flash of light in the darkness," she whispered, "When you see it, take three steps forward." She stepped back and glanced at Charisma as she said, "I know they can't move, but maybe they can be moved. Why don't you go see if you can bring Charisma to Jameson? I need to be with Andrae."
Roman wasn't given a chance to answer as Nadia swiftly walked away from him. Because he wanted to make her happy, he did as he asked and pleased when he was quickly able to move Charisma to Jameson's side. "This is seriously fucked up."
"Yeah." Jameson would have nodded if he had control of his body. Instead, he only glanced at Nadia, who occupied herself with saying goodbye to the love of her life. His brother. The person he'd just betrayed. "You should go tell the others what's about to happen."
Though he wanted to stay, Roman knew that his brother's words were wise. With a nod, he shifted into his invisible form and left the room.
"This is my fault, Jameson."
Jameson shifted his eyes to Charisma and felt his heart constrict at the pain in her eyes. "No, it's not your fault."
"I shouldn't have listened to her," she pressed, "She kept telling me that I had to go, that I would save your life if I willingly gave myself up. I shouldn't have listened to her."
"Baby, don't blame yourself. We'll get through this." He wasn't sure if he was lying or if he was being hopeful. Too much was happening too fast, much too fast for him to process adequately.
"How do you know?" Charisma didn't understand how he was so sure of his words after everything that happened. They were about to lose someone they cared about because she was stupid enough to let herself become captured. What made her feel worse was the fact that she was also glad that she wasn't chosen because that meant that not only did Jameson love her enough to be so selfish, but that she'd have the time to show him that he wouldn't regret his decision. What kind of friend was she to think such things? She should have been the one knocking on death's door, not Nadia.
"I don't," he replied, "But we have to tell ourselves something." He wished he was able to touch her, to hold her in his arms. Jameson needed her comfort, needed to comfort her. He didn't think he could hold himself together much longer. He shifted his eyes to his brother, who was firmly wrapped within Nadia's embrace. They both cried as she placed loving kisses along the side of his face and neck. Hushed words were spoken between them, but Jameson didn't need to hear them to know what they spoke of. "I love you," he said.
"I love you too," Charisma replied. She kept her eyes on Jameson as she spoke. Nadia and Anraemalek needed as much privacy as she could give them. "I'm sorry it took me so long to say it."
"We have the rest of our lives to say it," Jameson declared. He brought his eyes to Charisma and forced a smile. It was the only move he could think of to comfort her.
* * * * *
Zaide decided to make it a show. The hall had been redecorated to look like a funeral; black rose petals were strategically placed along the red-carpeted floor and bouquets of the same flower were neatly arranged on a table the demon teleported into the room. In place of his throne was a long table. Beside it, a smaller table littered with what looked like surgical instruments stood menacing and scary with the way the candlelight bounced off the metal objects. The sight of it alone gave Charisma shivers. She, as well as Andraemalek and Jameson had remained frozen while the changes were made. Nadia had been sent away to prepare for what was to come. No one save Zaide spoke. What was there to say? Someone who was loved and cared for was about to die.
Zaide did not like seeing her near Jameson and made quick work of moving her to the far end of the room, near the table. The table Nadia was to die on. She'd tried to negotiate with Zaide, promising to stay with him and do whatever he asked of her if he'd let her friend live, but he'd made his decision; nothing would change his mind.
It only took thirty minutes to prepare the room. The dim candlelight highlighted the somber tone of the upcoming event. Had Charisma any control of her body, she would have done more than scowl at the sight of Zaide's army poised and waiting for what was to come. A gift for his loyal followers, he'd declared; they'd worked hard for him all these centuries. The least he could do was shed a little blood on their behalf.
Charisma shifted her eyes so that she could look at Jameson. Though he stared at the ground, the pure rage emanating from him was difficult to ignore. Whether he was angry on behalf of Nadia or angry at himself, she wasn't sure. Had she been able to, she would have gone to him, given him the comfort he needed. Nadia asked her to look after him and Charisma would fulfill her friend's request until her dying day.
"Everything is ready," Zaide declared, "We'll begin in a moment."
Charisma felt her heartbeat accelerate dangerously. There was nothing anyone could do to stop this. Tears welled up in her eyes and for the first time in her life, she wished that she'd never been born. And when Nadia had been brought back to the room, she couldn't find herself to look away from her. Zaide had decided to give Nadia a makeover of sorts; her hair hung in mesmerizing waves down her back and shone brightly, as if she'd just walked out of a shampoo advertisement. He'd dressed her in a long black gown; the crystals used to enhance the soft fabric glittered in the firelight.
"Lovely," Zaide praised. He ignored the low, menacing growl that came from Andraemalek as he placed Nadia on the table. "Do you have any last words, darling?"
Nadia waited until she'd been tightly secured before she said, "Your heart will be your destruction."
"I'm a demon, sweetheart. We don't have hearts." He felt his brow lift at the glow in her eyes. "A Daemis. I should have known. You really would have been fun to keep around."
Nadia's only reaction to his statement was to turn her head to look at Andraemalek. She had nothing more to say to the demon and wanted the last thing she ever saw to be Andrae's face. His expression was blank, but the devastation in his eyes ate at her soul. Had there been a way around this injustice, she would have fought for it. But as a Daemis, she saw things that could not be changed. And she'd seen her own death. She had to leave her loved ones behind. She didn't know what the High Council was about, considering they were the ones to give her the visions, but it wasn't as if she could ask. Time would answer her questions.
Zaide took a moment to look at the woman in front of him. Her focus was concentrated on the half breed. Neither one of them looked away from the other and it was quite apparent that their connection wouldn't break until she took her last breath. He remembered a time when he would have felt the same, when he would not have looked away from crystal blue eyes. A vision of golden hair shining in the sunlight gave him pause and he had to take a moment to clear his thoughts before he proceeded. Zaide lifted a delicate surgical blade into his hand and raised it to begin his special ceremony, but stopped when he looked at the woman once more. "Are you ready?"
"Are you?" Nadia replied.
Zaide smiled before he looked out to his followers. "If only they all showed such courage." As a small show of praise, he ran the tips of his fingers over the lines of her face and neck, stopping at the intoxicating thrum of her pulse. "I was surprised to learn that you greatest fear was simply dying before you had a chance to pass your test, whatever it was." The feeling of her accelerating heart rate made his mouth water and his body throb in anticipation. "I originally planned on putting on a brilliant show for my people, but the memory of your blood holds me back. I should have known what you were when I tasted you the first time; blood that potent could only come from a Daemis." He slowly ran his fingertip over her raging pulse and smiled when she involuntarily shuddered. "It would be a shame to waste all of that wonderful blood." The half breed's growling was quickly shredding his patience. Zaide used his powers to put Andraemalek on mute before refocusing his attention on Nadia. As he leaned down to inhale the scent of her skin he murmured, "Just one more taste."
Charisma watched in horror as Zaide sunk his teeth into Nadia's tender skin once more. The demon held nothing back as he drank from her; his grunts and slurps of ecstasy filled her ears and made her stomach lurch. She wanted to look away but found that she couldn't; the horror of what was happening kept her riveted on the scene before her. His eyes were half opened, and it was clear, even from her place in the room that arousal coursed through him. Charisma almost expected him to rip Nadia's clothes off and take her right there in front of everyone. She hoped he wouldn't; this was more than enough for her to take.
The small tingles Zaide felt the first time he fed from Nadia became a raging fire as he feasted a second time. His blood felt like lava in his veins and his head became heavy. Distant voices, ones he'd never heard before, called orders out to him, urging him to kill her. The voices began as hushed whispers that pulled at his control, but more he drank, the louder the voices became and all too soon, he became lost in the sea of orders washing over him. They were yelling at him to end her life, to make it quick. "Quiet," he whispered. His head began to throb unbearably with the voices. These new, foreign voices were slowly taking control of him, making him want to do anything to take control of his own mind. He looked at Nadia's still body and the voices became louder still; they told him that she did not deserve to live and that she needed a swift death. "Silence!" Zaide shouted. He needed a moment to calm himself, to gain a sense of control. Staring at Nadia only made him crave; not for more blood as he did earlier, but to end her life. To kill her. Before he realized what he was doing, he altered his grip on the blade and plunged it into her chest. The second he'd delivered the blow, the voices stopped.
Charisma choked out a sob when Nadia whispered a last declaration of love to Andraemalek. Her voice was soft and calm, but it was enough to make Charisma feel as if she'd shouted. And then with one quick strike, her life was taken. Nadia only emitted a soft gasp of pain as the blade was buried deep within her chest. Charisma felt the bile in her stomach rise as she listened to her friend's last breaths. Nadia's death was quick, but it was not easy; the last remaining bits of blood on her body pooled out of her mouth and as the life slowly dimmed from her eyes, her body convulsed. Charisma wanted to scream, wanted to express her anger and devastation, but found that there was nothing. There was only silence as she watched her friend die.
A tense moment of silence passed before a blast of energy radiated out from Nadia's body. Like the day in the manor, everyone was knocked off their feet. As she hit the ground, Charisma shouted in fear. The candles blew out, leaving everyone on a void of darkness. Out of nowhere, a flash of light sizzled through the room and forced her eyes closed because of the brightness. Just as soon as it came, the light was gone.
And then all hell broke loose.
Ah, I can almost smell the anger coming off you guys.