Writer Notes: Got this filming done in a day, which is like record breaking for this amount of posing.
Warnings: flashbacks! insight, pixelated blood, threats, tears, some photoshopping for effects, pictures from past chapters, and explaining how old is old.
The beginning was sweet, filled with laughter and fun. Who would have thought where it would end?
In hindsight, there were always little hints, signs that she hadn’t changed. Sure, Lizabeth LaBelle matured under Latimere’s care. She grew smarter, calculated, and more dangerous than anyone could have predicted.
But Lacarra didn’t deny her brother happiness, as he would never do to her. She was glad for him to find pride in something, even if it was the blacken soul of a butcher to the their kind, like Lizabeth LaBelle.
She stayed aware that one day things would change. They always did. Of late, for the better, but Lacarra wondered how long their happiness would last.
She hoped for eternity. Her brother deserved to be happy, but she feared the world would soon find out whom the real monsters were. She was not wrong.
Coastal spoke softly to Latimere in Elvish, comforting him.
It was not working. Whatever spell Coastal and Gregoral had inducted was temporary. His heart needed time to heal. At this rate, he would die before that could happen.
Coastal knew this. She also knew he was out of his mind in agony. She knew there was nothing more they could do until the other spell book was found. Where had Latimere left it? And why did he have such a spellbook?
Dahlila listened to grandmother talk to this man sweetly as a lover. She’d never heard the stories Coastal said, nor in the tone she spoke. Latimere was special to her grandmother, she gathered. They were best friends for millennia. Time had broken them apart of late, but now they were together. At least for the end, if there was going to be an end.
For once, Dahlila prayed to all nine of the Elves’ goddesses that Latimere would make it. They would figure this out. Between their super powers and intellect, surely they could save him. If not for himself, for his family.
“Welcome to High Tower’s library.” Lacarra announced. “I’m sure we can find something in here to explain what happened to Yolonda.”
“It’s gigantic.” Yolonda said. “How will we ever read fast enough to find our answers?”
“Together,” Elan answered. “Nothing can stop us as long as we’re together.”
Siren Coristor walked down the main hall with dread. As she approached where her parents had lain dead, the fist around her heart loosened. They were gone. The blood washed away, only like magic could do. No one would ever know they’d been there.
But that’s not why she was there. She had to help Latimere. She couldn’t let him die. She needed him to survive if she was to take over her parents’ enterprise.
Tatiana stared at her reflection unable to believe it was truly her. She looked so young and she was in her late forty, but looked closer to her daughters’ age.
A feeling of dread filled her. She remembered what Jen the Unfavorable said about using blood magic. It eroded the brain. The darkness just grew. It took over like a cancer. Was she now a life-sucker, like Jen?
“No,” Vaiden called from afar. “You’re not. Jen was evil. She killed for herself. You took back your power that Julianna had stolen. You stopped her from hurting anyone else.”
“I took more than just my own power back.” Tatiana returned. “Look at me.”
“I’m looking,” he smirked. “I see my beautiful wife.”
“I don’t look like myself.” she said. “I mean, I do, but I look like a much younger version of myself, like when we first met?”
Vaiden turned her in the chair. “Stop overthinking it.” he said. “You bought yourself more time. Maybe by accident, but you still did. More time with your family, with me.”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” he whispered. “Be a true Shade again? Unable to feel and love and have compassion? No, I don’t want that. I want you and everything we have together. I don’t care what you had to do to defeat Julianna. She’s gone and can’t us anymore.”
She allowed the panic to retreat and enjoy her husband’s words. He was right. They were safe for now. She didn’t need to be wasting their time together, in this peace, overthinking magic.
“I love you.” she sighed.
“I love you more.”
“What do you want, Gregoral?” Vaiden growled. “You ever heard of knocking? It’s a thing in this day and age.”
“Forgive me,” Gregory seemed bothered by Vaiden’s interaction with Tatiana. Perhaps it was unsettling to see a Shade like that. “Siren has found the book.”
“Well, good, then why are you here?” Vaiden asked. “I’ll be no help since if I’m around you and Coastal can’t use magic.”
“No, there’s been another slight complication.” he replied. “We can’t open it.”
Lizabeth had been gone for decades, but word of her never left.
Latimere always kept an eye out for his prodigy. He hoped the rumors weren’t true.
That’s why he sought her out himself. She wasn’t hard to find.
She’d changed. That strange look was back in her eye. She’d gone rogue. She’d killed again. She’d built a court on fear and threat.
Did everything Latimere teach her fade away when she walked out his door?
She hadn’t come to let him reason. She’d come to threaten him.
“If you do this,” he said. “If you rage war on all Misplaced Stream, if you attack me and mine, you know I will fight back.”
“But don’t do this, Lizabeth.” he said. “You can always come back to me. We can figure it out together. There’s no reason for all this carnage. Please, reconsider. I beg of you. Don’t make me fight you.”
For just a moment, he felt the old her. The sweet, gentle girl he’d helped raise into this power hungry master vampire.
“I don’t want to fight you.” she confessed.
“Then don’t. Come home with me.” he whispered.
“It’s too late for that.” she said.
“Don’t let your pride get in your way.”
“You can always stop. You can always control the beast inside you.” he continued. “You know I have for so long. I know you are strong.”
“You were always so good to me, Latimere.” she sighed. “I have always loved you.”
“And I of you.” he squeezed her tighter to him. “I will always love you, my Lizabeth. No matter the outcome. You always have me.”
Why did he let her go?
“I tried to open it.” Gregoral said. “As you can see, there’s a protection spell. Not even Coastal’s white magic can open it.”
“Why don’t I give it a try?” Tatiana offered.
“And how is your magic superior to mine or Coastal?” Gregory shook his head. “If we cannot open it, Latimere will surely die.”
“That’s not very optimistic, necromancer.” Lacarra growled. “Remember, if my brother dies so do you.”
“I’m not deliberately being negative.” Gregory growled. “Just realistic. I want to open the damn book!”
“Yes, I’m sure you want to unlock all the secrets my brother has stored away.” Lacarra muttered. “He would only keep something sealed like that to protect it from the too ambitious or those too dangerous.”
“Why don’t I open it?” Dahlila said. “Latimere put a spell on it himself, right? Which means his magic will recognize itself. I have some of his power in me right now.”
Coastal exhaled. “Dahlila…it’s too dangerous…”
“The girl has a valid point.” Gregory frowned. “Latimere is millennia older than all of us and the most gifted person we all know with magic. He would be careful to lock something this valuable so only he could access it. Her idea might work.”
“No.” Tatiana snapped, echoed by Vaiden. “Like Hell!”
“Do you want him to live?” Gregory scoffed. “I certainly do! This may be the only way!”
“We just found out Dahlila may have magic. She doesn’t know how it works. We don’t know if it will work. We don’t know what it might do to her. It might recognize she’s not Latimere and hurt her or…”
“Please, let me try! I know this will work.”
“She’s right,” Vaiden said lowly. “We need to do everything we can to save him.”
“Why?” Tatiana asked. “Not so long ago, he was an enemy.”
Vaiden shook his head. “He’s always been a family friend to my mother and me.” he said. “We’ve just been ‘estranged’ for almost a century. If the situation was reversed, he would do everything in his power to save us. We should at least try to do the same.”
“I don’t like it.” Tatiana sighed. “But if…what..Dahlila!”
“See? No harm.”
“Whoa, whoa!” Lacarra jumped up between Gregoral and the book. “My brother made sure this book didn’t fall into the wrong hands. You will not touch it.”
“What language is this?” Dahlila asked. “It’s definitely not Latin or Elvish, or anything I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s old.” Vaiden said. “Latimere old.”
“What does that mean? How old is he?” Tatiana asked.
“Super old. Older than old, old. So old that old isn’t even the right world anymore. Ancient? Primeval? No one knows exactly how old he is, not even him, so he’s my best comparison of what old is.”
“I have no reason to use that book other than to save your brother.” Gregoral grumbled. “But by all means, Coastal should be able to handle this.”
“Maybe…but this language…” she shook her head. “I’ll have to decipher it first. I could use Gregoral’s help, Laccarra. He knows more about these sort of spells than me.”
“Don’t worry, I’m watching him.” Vaiden added. “The only spell he’s working on is the one to save his own ass, which means Latimere’s too.”
“You better hurry too. He’s fading fast.”
They remember a tyrant. Someone pressing constant control on a divided table. Her power reigned supreme and no one dared challenge her outright.
They remember her power and the fear that she would use it on them. How many fell at her feet? How many undeserving of a terrible death?
They remember pain she inflicted and how she enjoyed inflicting it. The stench of rotting meat filled the dungeons. Nothing could cure it.
They remember the end. She never gave up. She never stopped. It was her downfall.
They didn’t know where she came from and the struggles that brought her there.
Why did he ever let her leave?
Her death was celebrated by so many. They remember relief and count their blessings she had not succeeded. But they don’t know what it did to him.
Additionally: Two more chapters until the end of Book 2. Comments, questions, concerns always appreciated!