Writer Notes: I took the picture for this chapter in, like, six hours, but unfortunately couldn’t fathom the words in a week. Why are taking pictures so easy and writing not! Ugh, but anyhow, enjoy!
Warnings: multiple scenes (but you already knew that going into a story by MDP), backflash, blackmailing maybe, talk of regrets, snowing, inner thoughts, conspiracy theory, more arguing, blood, plans, and cause and effect.
“I have long comtemplated on events throughout time. What had I done to create such a conclusion. What hadn’t I done to create a mess. You always think of these things once everything is done and cannot be undone. It’s a struggle of wishing you had the knowledge in your youth that you do now.”
“You scared me! I thought you would never come.”
“I am here now and I’ll never let you go.”
“Sir?” Zarah stood idling. She did not know where this was headed, but she knew he was about to make a point.
“Do you have regrets, Ms. Dellawood?” he asked.
“Many,” she replied.
“Truly? You are what? Around 250 years old? Two lifetimes just about and you already have many regrets?”
“Would any of them involve your husband?”
Zarah took a step back without meaning to. “My husband,” she took a breath. “No, I don’t regret marrying him, but sometimes I wish I could have stopped him from committing treason against our former Master. Harvey was such a stubborn man though. He truly believed in his crazy ideals, but I never really did. My greatest regret is not being honest with him.”
“Aw, I see,” Latimere nodded. “But I really thought your greatest regret would have been not stopping the Vampire royalty assassination.”
Zarah was suddenly very quiet and still, the only way the undead could be, but Latimere was undead too. He knew exactly what the reaction meant. She was guarding herself.
“Oh, you mustn’t be worried, Ms. Dellawood.” Latimere said. “I know all about it. How you had every opportunity to stop your Elvin lover, Vaiden Zarren, from killing the royals. You knew they were his targets, but you just couldn’t, or didn’t want to, stop him. Was it because you loved him and couldn’t bring yourself to assassinate him like you had been ordered? Or because you were too much of a coward?”
“How dare you?!” Zarah could hardly believe her ears. How had he heard that information? Who gave it to him? As far as she knew, Vaiden was the only one who knew the truth of the matter. All the other witnesses were dead…unless he told someone.
“Is that all?” he asked. “My, such a secret that one truly keeps to death and all you have is ‘how dare you?'”
“Alas, don’t worry as I said. It is in the past that we find our regrets. It is in the future that we hope to redeem ourselves.”
It was hard for Dahlila to believe she was on Spring Break with all of this fluffy white snow crunching under her feet. It was also hard for her to believe they were playing in a graveyard, and that it was right behind Latimere’s mansion.
It was a quiet place though, peaceful almost. Dahlila couldn’t read the names on the tombstones, but she was sure it was someone important to the Greenbrookes, even perhaps their parents. But just thinking the word “parents” had her wondering about her own. She still didn’t know what was going on with her mother or where her father was. It was scary and Dahlila really didn’t know what to do or how to feel.
Delania was simpler. When she was sad, she cried. When she was scared, she screamed. When she wanted to have fun, she made snow angels.
Dahlila envied her sister for it, but she never had to be the strong one. That was Dahlila’s job. So when Delania was crying, it was Dahlila putting her back together. When she screamed, it was Dahlila’s hand she held for comfort.
So there was no room for Dahlila to fall to pieces when she needed to. She had, just a little bit, but not enough to get it all out. She was too stubborn to be vulnerable right now, when she was so lost and not in control.
But at least she found somewhere peaceful, maybe Lacarra would let her go here more often so she could clear her head, but it also put her in mind of Latimere and that night at a different graveyard. Perhaps he had a graveyard fetish. She could dig that.
Everything’s pretty much picture perfect…
…until the babysitter rings the bell for dinner.
“Really, another conspiracy?” Delania rolled her eyes. “What is it this time?”
“Have you thought why Dad may have left us here?” Dahlila asked. “Maybe he wanted us to find things out about the Greenbrookes.”
“Like what? Where they keep their security files? Dahlila, I’m sure Dad just wanted us somewhere safe and since the Greenbrookes kind of promised us their protection, Dad brought us here.” Delania shook her head. “It’s not complicated. Besides if Dad wanted us on some secret mission, wouldn’t he have told us in Elvish or something.”
“Maybe Latimere knows Elvish.” Dahlila said. “He has been friends with Grandmommy Coastal for over two thousand years. Surely she taught him a little Elvish…or maybe he already knew it.”
“Dahlila, stop. You’re just bored and driving yourself insane with these ridiculous conspiracies. Just relax. Time will go faster and Dad will be picking us up.”
“This isn’t ‘after school special,’ Delania. We’re in real danger and I feel like staying here is a trap.”
Elan Coristor would never be a Master Vampire, something that his parents and sister reminded him of quite often. He was to serve a master, most likely his sister for the rest of his life.
But more and more, he felt like such commitment of his life was to another. But Yolanda was a Human and his parents, especially his mother, did not approve. They wanted to keep the family bloodline “pure” and this meant that Siren and Elan both had to marry a “natural” born Vampire like themselves. This argument always confused Elan as his father was not natural born. He had been “turned.”
“Any news from Father?” Siren asked, but as she knew the answer.
“No, my child.” Trudy replied. “He will not speak to us as we are under Latimere’s roof. Though I know he fears for us, his agenda to refine the Vampire community is blinding him from our real enemies.”
“Much like before.” Zarah called, descending the stairs.
“Do not patronize us, Ms. Dellawood.” Trudy growled. “You will never understand the hell we suffered under LaBelle and Jen.”
“Truly because I chose the right side.”
Trudy rolled her eyes. “You speak all mighty, but without your Elf, you would have died by LaBelle’s hands or worse. You were nothing, but lucky.”
“Is that how you see it?” Zarah laughed, noting Dahlila and Delania emerging from the door. Discretion, she told herself. “I do consider myself fortunate to have such great friends as Vaiden, but it does not change the fact that you sold yourself to Jen. I wonder what you will do to save yourself this go around…?”
Elan was usually silent in such arguments, but he had enough. “Have you no humility left in that insufferable soul of yours?” he asked. “You insult my parents because they are survivors? You should sacrifice everything to save those who you love, to protect them. You spit on my parents because they did just that in the past.”
“My poor boy,” Zarah shook her head. “You actually believe that.”
“And why shouldn’t he?”
“Your family should be your security, with them you are yourself, and you should never fear them or distrust them, nor them of you.” Latimere said. “Surely, Ms. Dellawood, you have had such a special relationship before? Perhaps with your husband or with your Elf.”
“Is he talking about our dad?” Delania asked.
“Yep.” Dahlila replied. “And he’s not her Elf. He’s our mother’s.”
“Seems you hit a sensitive issue, my brother.” Lacarra laughed.
Latimere shook his head. “My apologies Miss Dahlila and Delania, but I do think your father knew Ms. Dellawood before your mother. I assumed…”
“You shouldn’t.” Lacarra snickered.
“I wonder how hurt you must be, Zarah.” Trudy said. “Your Elf picking a ‘Human’ over you? Surely you must feel betrayed, even insulted?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Zarah spat.
Lacarra sighed. “Dear brother, you should not let them be so nasty to one another.” she said. “Especially in front of the children.”
“You are right my sister.” Latimere nodded. “We will hear none of this anymore. Your rival is your own, but do not play with the honor of others when they are not even present to defend themselves.”
“Honor is so important to you? Or is it protecting the name of Lady Coastal and her blood?”
Latimere chuckled. “Child, you know nothing.”
“This argument is at an end.” he continued. “Get along or force me to bind you to your chambers. The choice is up to you.”
“Just a little farther, Vaiden.” Owen whispered.
Jay shivered. “Man, something just doesn’t feel right.”
“You dare enter the chamber of Mystic Crane!” the old High Elf exclaimed.
“I dare.” Julianna laughed. “And I also dare to take what is mine and to you, High Elf, is revenge on foresaking my family and throwing us to the wolves. But now, I am rejuevinated, fresh, and powerful. I will to destroy all that is Mystic Crane.”
“You were always foolish, Julianna, but you cannot possibly think that you can defeat us. I am five thousand years old and wiser than you by far. Hear my words, witch, you must leave at once, forget this childish vendetta, and live out your life quiet and peaceful.”
“How absurd you are.” Julianna snickered. “I will not be silent for now all the wrong doings against my family will be avenged.”
“She is so blinded that she cannot even see her faults.” the wizard laughed. “Listen, child, you cannot regain honor and respect from anyone by wanting bloodshed.”
“Oh, let them try their best.”
“Ooh, she’s pretty! Can I have her? Mother, please, can I vanquish her filth?!”
“Yes, my dear child, you may.”
“We’re too late.”
“Fairchild moved pretty fast on this, didn’t she?” Jay asked. “Cuz, it’s a mess.”
“She had help.” Vaiden answered.
“Hey, Vaiden, what’s this pile of ash come from?” Jay asked.
“Sorry I asked.”
“Don’t tell me you stuck your finger in it.”
“What now?” Jay was quick to change subjects.
“We report to Zarah and see what the Greenbrookes have uncovered for us, then we go talk to your contact. We need to move fast. We don’t know where she’ll go next.”
“What’s happening to her, Coastal?” Lewej asked.
“Exactly what I feared.”
“Julianna drained Tatiana’s power, not just to add to her own, but to regain her youth. Magic has to be even. One, who drains the power to be strong and young, can only mean the one drained of the power to become weak and…”