Writer Notes: Yep, it’s finally here! I’ve been working on this chapter since the time of Vivian. Yeah, that long. It’s why some of these pictures aren’t in that great of quality.
Warnings: flashback central, lots of longed-haired Latimere, plottiness, secrets revealed, switch in views, and mostly dialogue.
“Where am I?” Dahlila had to ask.
“This a realm where spirits await passage to either side. To reach this place you have to be magical. So Miss Dahlila Zarren you are special.”
“How do you know my name?” she inquired. “Who are you?”
“Once upon a time they called me Julia, the first of her name, Queen of Norreach, the most powerful woman in the realm. That was before Latimere Greenbrooke destroyed my life.”
“What?” Dahlila was taken back. “What are you talking about? How do you know Latimere?”
“How does anyone truly know him, dearie?” the queen replied.
“He came to us out of thin air.”
“No one had ever heard of the family Greenbrooke, yet it was obvious they were a powerful ally.”
“I had lived in a forced marriage for two decades. Since I was barren, my throne went to my brother-in-law, by claim of my husband. There was nothing left for me in the realm, but sadness until I faded away, but when I saw Latimere my hope was restored.”
“But I needed his trust first.”
“You see, witchcraft was a death sentence. Anyone who helped a witch was executed alongside of them.”
“So you planned to blackmail him?”
“That was truly up to him.”
“He could have turned me in.”
“But I was the last of my royal name.”
“I wonder what his ulterior motives were to let me live.”
“Maybe he didn’t have any and it was just kindness.” Dahlila answered.
Julia laughed. “If you know him then you know he doesn’t do anything without something in return.”
“As much as I tried to woo him, his interests fell to my young lovely niece, Felicia.”
“I thought we had a special connection. I thought our trust would build the foundation of a beautiful relationship, but I was wrong.”
“And my frustration grew.”
“I thought he was ambitious. The easiest way to obtain the crown was with someone who already had it on their head.”
“So I created my own plan.”
“My husband inherited my royal status. He was a brash, hardy man. I despised him.”
“So you killed him?”
“It was a part of my plan.”
“And you thought Latimere would just go running to you with open arms?” Dahlila shook her head.
“I thought he’d comfort me.”
“But he stayed quite distant.”
“Well, he’s not an idiot.” Dahlila shot.
“Perhaps not, but remember what I told you. He could be killed for keeping my secret.” Julia smirked. “The second part of my plan came months later after the king’s accident was long forgotten.”
“Let me guess,” Dahlila said. “You killed Felicia.”
“Personally? No. Latimere already suspected I killed the king so for this special mission I hired a certain kind of evil.”
“Vampires, of course.” Julia laughed. “Later I would learn the irony of it all.”
“I loved Felicia. She was like the closest thing I’d ever have to a daughter, but she was in my way.”
“I made sure Latimere saw how much I loved her. I even pronounced her my heir to the whole kingdom.”
Dahlila rolled her eyes. “Yeah, aren’t you aunt of the year?”
Julia sighed. “It had to be done.”
“Why?” Dahlila asked. “So you kill your whole family over a guy? Why in the hell would he want to be with you?”
“Love makes you do crazy things, my dear.”
“That’s not love.” Dahlila shook her head. “That’s obsession.”
“It had been over a month, but he came to me, like I dreamed he would.” Julia said. “But he wasn’t upset. He wasn’t sad. He was pleased.”
“The bandits are dead.” he said. “Felicia has been avenged.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “You found the bandits?”
“They’re dead, fair Julia.” he answered. “We can move on.”
“Is there something wrong?” he inquired.
“No, no, I’m just relieved.” It was the moment I had been waiting for. He looked at me, really looked at me. Finally.
“Tell me,” he purred. “How did it feel, killing your family?”
“What do you mean?”
“Vampires?” he laughed. “At first, I thought they had found me. I thought Felicia died because of me.”
“Why would they kill her because of you?” she asked.
“My, you are dumb and here I thought you figured it all out. It matters not.”
“Why they hunt me? Because I am one of them. They’ve been at war for sometime with the other races and called on all their banners. I refused.”
“You’re a rogue Vampire!” she gasped.
“Worse, a rogue Master Vampire.” he smiled. “An elaborate plan, fair Julia, but I wonder why did you have Felicia killed? She was innocent. She knew not of either of our secrets.”
“She was in my way.”
“How?” he asked.
His smile slipped. “And now you know why lust is a deadly sin.”
“Often times mine has been wrath!”
“Too easy, witch.” he shook his head.
“Don’t worry I’m not going to kill you. That would be much too conspicuous. ” he said. “But before the guards rush in, let me tell you. You failed Julia. I was never going to love you. It was just a fairy tale all made up in your mind. It is too bad you had to destroy your whole kingdom in the process of finding that out. Good-bye, fair Julia.”
“Guards, the witch caught herself in her own trap.” Latimere said. “Seize her. The duke has already ordered her execution for the death of his brother, the king, and his daughter, heir of the throne, Felicia.”
“I will return and I will destroy you!”
“Why the hell did you come here?” Vaiden asked. “You knew it was a trap.”
“Perhaps to save you, Mr. Steel, and Dahlila.” Latimere huffed.
“Dahlila’s here?” Vaiden couldn’t keep the disdain out of his voice.
“Not exactly.” Latimere answered. “We passed through the same gateway, but I’m afraid it wasn’t made for her. She’s here, I can feel it.”
“Are you telling me that Dahlila’s been transferred into what? A magical medium?”
“Precisely,” he answered. “I see Coastal’s lessons have not worn on you.”
Gabriel shook his head. “Julianna was prepared for you to fall for this trap. You stand there and act like it doesn’t bother you. You left High Tower defenseless!”
Latimere rolled his eyes. “My sister will handle anything Julianna can throw at her.”
“No offense,” Gabriel said. “But your sister can’t fight them all off, especially if Julianna does go there!”
“Pardon me, sir, but you’ve never met Lacarra.” Latimere huffed. “Now if we have any chance of finding Miss Dahlila and getting out of here, let me concentrate.”
“Well, you haven’t met her.”
“I think you’d actually like her.” Vaiden said. “She’s pretty hot. I mean really, really hot.”
Latimere hissed. “Gentlemen, I can hear you.”
“It was him!”
“Now let’s see magical items Julianna’s been hiding.”
“This mirror. I’ve seen this mirror before, but…where?”
“Where is she?” Vaiden asked.
“I’m not sure.” Latimere replied.
“Well, how do we get her out then?!”
“Patience, Mr. Zarren, we’re dealing with a smart enemy, but they’re not as clever as they think.”
“Ears ringing, Gregoral?” Latimere snickered.
“Perhaps, you’ve decided to come out of the shadows long enough to see what you’ve don?”
“Enough taunting Latimere,” Gregory growled. “This isn’t the seventeenth century anymore.”
“Perhaps not, but heed my words, Gregory. Julianna is lying to you.”
“I’ve know you for quite some time, Greenbrooke. You’re not trustworthy either.”
“Let me guess,” Vaiden smirked. “You thought Coastal was in love with him so you challenged him and lost your eye?”
“You don’t know how he lost his eye?” Gabriel snorted.
“There’s been stories.”
“It’s actually quite the tale.” Latimere snickered.
“ENOUGH!” Gregory roared.
“These are your last moments, bloodsucker. Perhaps you should use them more wisely than jeering one another.”
“And what do you think I’ve lived for?”
“Tell me, Mr. Zarren.” Latimere said more seriously. “Has Julianna told you about your granddaughters?”
“Or was she deliberately silent about that as well?”