A Gate of Night / Page 24

Page 24


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He didn’t leave that room until he was certain that he had me under his control and cooperation. I played the part of a student, eager to learn from the master.


Of course, the moment Kiev left and I met up with Eli for a walk in the garden, I was delighted to find how Shadow responded to him with seeming eagerness and loyalty.


“So?” Eli asked. “Have you made your decision?”


I nodded. “Yes. Let’s get out of here.”


I thought I was playing Kiev. I was a fool to think that I could win against him. I had no idea just how good a player he was. I didn’t know it then, but I had already lost before the game even started.


Chapter 34: Derek


Xavier, a man I’d trusted with my life more times than I could count, strutted toward me. He was barely recognizable, his veins sticking out of his neck as if he was about to burst, his eyes sallow and a haunting white. He had Vivienne’s back pressed against him, gripping her hair while the other arm coiled around her waist. The tension inside the room was electrifying. Currents of fire were beginning to build within my veins. I felt like I could explode any time.


However, there was a strength in Vivienne’s eyes that I’d never seen before. I was expecting her to tremble, to shake and cower at the danger surrounding her, but no, something had changed with my twin and I was left wondering whether it was a change for the good. She glanced at me and quickly looked away. A sick feeling formed in my gut. Something was wrong with her and I knew it.


Noticing that my attention was no longer on him, Xavier—or whoever had taken over his body—grabbed her by the hair and made her yelp. Considering that Ashley and Sam were still in this makeshift arena pounding on each other, it was difficult for me to focus on Xavier, but it seemed he was one to fight for all the attention he could get.


Who knew Elders could be such attention whores?


“Well, if it isn’t the king of The Shade, honoring us with his presence.” Xavier’s eyes lifted toward mine, narrowed and intimidating. He began groping my sister, never losing eye contact with me in order to taunt me with my own helplessness.


“What do you want?” I clenched my fists, praying that I wouldn’t end up exploding and burning everyone there.


“That’s not a very diplomatic way to welcome your guests, is it now, oh powerful king? I think we ought to start with the pleasantries as is human custom, don’t you?” The sneer on Xavier’s face reminded me of every psychopathic villain I’d ever seen in those movies Sofia got me to watch during the first few months of her stay with me at The Shade. I had no question in my mind that whoever had possessed Xavier was one cold-blooded murderer.


Xavier fidgeted in a seeming attempt to recall “human custom”. “So how does this actually go…” he muttered as his hand continued to violate my sister, his lips sickeningly close to her ear. “Oh yes…” He looked my way with an air of triumph. “Hello there, your highness. It is truly a pleasure to finally meet you.”


I swore at him in response. I couldn’t hide the spite that I felt toward him.


My disgust only amused him. He cocked his head to the side and hissed like the snake that he was. “I guess you’re not very diplomatic, are you? It’s always been this lovely creature in my arms who’s been the picture of The Shade’s diplomacy.” He ran his tongue over Vivienne’s cheek.


I wanted to snap his neck in two.


However, his taunts were not yet over. “Deciding not to kill Cameron paid off after all. How could it not when the message he gave was so powerful? When this beauty is within our grasp?”


Cold winds began to rush all around me. Are they trying to quench the fire? If so, they were failing at it. However, even with the power I possessed, I had no idea how to use it. It wasn’t like I could just burn Xavier. The Elder would leave Xavier’s body and find a new vessel.


“Let her go,” was all I could manage to say.


“You’re not in a position to be giving out commands here, king. I’m the ruler of this island now.”


In retaliation over my audacity, he spun Vivienne around and kissed her. I could only imagine what all this was doing to both Xavier and Vivienne. My friend’s affections toward my sister weren’t lost on me, but Vivienne had seemed to be quite oblivious after all the centuries that Xavier had stood by her side.


What does Vivienne think of him now?


There was no way for me to find out, because as my stomach turned, my mind warring over the idea of ending Xavier’s life, Xavier snapped his fingers and two firm pairs of hands gripped me. I would’ve fought back, but I was too stunned by what happened next.


Ashley pierced through Sam’s flesh and pulled his heart out.


The shout that ricocheted across the cave walls was a chilling sound that seemed to come straight from hell.


Xavier pulled his lips away from my sister. His eyes began to burn a bright red-orange—almost as if flames had taken over his pupils. “Now, look what you’ve done. You made me miss out on all the fun.”


I felt the blood drain from my face as Sam’s body fell to the ground. I watched Ashley for a flicker of emotion—any indication that she was still in there, that she was torn over what she had just done. Nothing. She stood over Sam’s dead body, gripping his heart in her hand, blood dripping from her fingers. Her eyes were pitch black, an indication of the darkness that had taken over her. As if that weren’t blood-chilling enough, she grinned. Maniacally.


Vivienne crumbled in Xavier’s arms. I knew she had just reached her breaking point. When Ashley sneered, I couldn’t take it anymore.


Gathering up all the strength I could muster, I hit both men holding me with my elbows, grabbed their necks and the fire just went out of control. With one loud scream, my palms burst into flames, evaporating my own tears as the two men who were holding me got incinerated into ashes.


Xavier’s eyes widened, taking on the shade of red before turning into a midnight blue. I wondered what each shade meant. His shoulders were trembling.


“How did you do that?” The hoarseness of his voice betrayed his terror. “There’s no way you could’ve… You can’t kill an Elder.”


Realization washed over me like a flood as I watched the piles of ashes that accumulated on either side of me. The Elders are dead. I swallowed hard, realizing that I didn’t even know which of my men they had possessed.


I turned toward Vivienne. When her eyes moistened with tears, my knees almost buckled beneath me.


What have I done?


If Xavier was encouraged at all by my momentary weakness, it didn’t show. He was still staring at me, white as a sheet. “It can’t be. Our kind is immortal. How is it…” His eyes slowly turned into pitch-black night.


Winds started to move all around me.


Chills ran down my spine as all the vampires possessed by Elders set their sights on me.


Before I said the word that would signal Corrine to use her powers to retrieve as many of our comrades as she could, Xavier screamed, “He has to turn back into a vampire! Turn him now!”


He threw my sister to the ground. That was when I said it. One word. “Now!”


The moment the word came out of my lips, chaos followed.


My vision blurred as the strong winds carried all the Elders right toward me in one quick swoop. It was a full-on massive attack and I had no idea how to get out of it. All I knew was that I couldn’t allow them to turn me back into one of them, because the moment they possessed me, whatever power I had would immediately belong to an Elder.


When I pictured my young wife’s face, an overpowering desire to live came over me, but should it come to it, I had no choice other than to die.


Chapter 35: Vivienne


The sight that unfolded before me was one of the most awful, breathtaking sights I’d ever seen.


Derek Novak had always been powerful. He was my brother and I knew him better than anyone else in the world, but at that moment, he was almost unrecognizable. His face took on a determination I’d never seen before.


I watched in horror as one of the vampires possessed by an Elder—Landis, Xavier’s brother—bit into Derek’s neck. When Derek pressed his hand against the man’s chest, I was sure that I was about to see one of us die—just like those two guards’ lives had ended just a couple of minutes ago.


However, as the mysterious fire once again flowed from my brother’s palms, touching Landis just as he was about to turn Derek into a vampire once again, the man simply collapsed to the ground.


Derek’s fire formed a flaming tornado. Screams of invisible—and supposedly immortal—Elders filled the air. As the lives of one Elder after another ended, Xavier, Liana, Yuri and Ashley moved away from the pack. Xavier took one look at the other three before they all disappeared. My heart sank. The Elders had taken them away from us. Hostages—people they would use against us.


I was so focused on Derek that I hadn’t noticed Corrine standing in the middle of the bloody arena, mumbling words that made no sense to me. Her eyes were as lightning, her long brown hair being blown away by invisible winds.


By the time I looked back at my brother, a dozen of the recently possessed vampires lay all around him. The flames—along with the Elders’ shrieks—subsided.


I had no idea what had just happened, but Derek, now covered in soot, looked completely exhausted. My heart dropped when he collapsed to the ground.


I rushed past the several levels of the Catacombs that separated him from me. I knelt on the ground beside him, raising his head and laying it on my lap. He was barely conscious.


“What was that?” I whispered. “How… What did you just do? You were able to kill Elders, Derek. How were you able to do that? What happened to you?”


I probably should’ve been more concerned for his wellbeing, because he didn’t appear to be doing well at all.


Derek’s lips opened to say something, but instead tears began rushing down his face and he sobbed. “I killed them all. I killed…”


I looked around at our people lying on the ground around us. They were all moving. Claudia looked through the mass of bodies. A disheartened expression was on her pretty face, her shoulders sagging in defeat, even though most of the people there were alive. “Claudia?” I whispered, unable to wrap my mind around everything that was happening.


“I don’t understand,” she whispered.


I could practically see Yuri’s countenance reflected in her eyes. My heart went out to her. Is Xavier’s face reflected in mine? I could still feel his hand on my body and I couldn’t suppress a shudder. Once he was free from the Elder’s grasp, would I be able to let him touch me without thinking of that moment? Of that moment when he wasn’t Xavier, but instead a complete monster. The regret, guilt and depression swept over me as I recalled my missed chance to let him know how much I loved him. Why didn’t I just say the words?


I realized that the most difficult times of my life had been when I had been taken captive by Borys Maslen and that time when I had been taken by the hunters—both times were made even more difficult because Xavier wasn’t with me.


Now wrapped in my own pain, I knew I had to snap out of it or it would eat me alive, so I did what I had to do. I switched the emotions off, even if I knew that it was an entryway to the darkness. I wondered to myself what darkness Xavier had in him so as to have an opening for an Elder to take over him.


Snap out of this, Vivienne. I once again caught sight of Claudia, looking lost as she stared blankly at the people surrounding her. I couldn’t be like her. I couldn’t be a lost, whimpering little girl, pining for Xavier. I had to be the leader Xavier had challenged me to be if I was to have any chance of getting him back.


Landis was the first to sit up. He looked me straight in the eye, this time no longer possessed, his irises clearly showing.


“Are you all right?” I asked him.


He nodded, but he also frowned. “I think I have a fever.”


“Vampires don’t have fevers.” Claudia wrinkled her nose. I thought she had half a mind to break Landis’ neck.


His jaw tightened. “Exactly. It feels… strange.” He groaned as he tried to get up. “Ugh!” he exclaimed. “My head feels like it weighs a million tons.”


“Derek, you didn’t kill them. They’re all right.” I turned toward my brother, but he lay unconscious in my arms.


“They’re human,” Corrine explained.


I almost jumped out of my skin. I hadn’t even felt her approach behind me. “How is that possible?”


“Derek’s powers mixed with mine. It burned the Elders’ magic away from them—including the original curse that turned them into a vampire.”


“His powers? How on earth does he have powers?”


“We don’t have time to…” Corrine stopped her sentence short. Her eyes widened with shock. My eyes followed her gaze and found a woman with stunning silver hair standing right before us.


“What have you done, Corrine?” the woman asked. “Do you know what your intervention just cost us? Do you have any idea at all…” The woman’s voice broke.


Corrine stood to her full height before bowing her head slightly. “I am sorry. I know I have done our kind wrong, but my loyalty is to this clan as my ancestor’s was.”


“Cora’s loyalty was to the vampires!” The strange silver-haired woman attempted to keep her calm. “Do you honestly realize what you have just done? You have exposed Derek Novak to the Elders. You have made them weak and aware that they can be killed. The Elders are now out to kill him and the Guardians. Who knows what they will do once they know?”


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