Author's notes: Sorry its been so long between updates. Usual real life excuses! Hope you like.
(disclaimer in first chapter)
. You are sure Anita? She is coming here. To us?”
“That’s what he said. She’s attracted to your power apparently, to vampires in general he said. He also said vampires would be attracted right back…. And that I remind her of her, or something.”
I paced his office. My beast was restless, on edge. She felt threatened and I couldn’t blame her. My mind so going over and over what my mysterious visitor had said, and I still didn’t know what the hell was going on. I hated that. After Whistler had made his dramatic exit, I had headed back to the Circus and contacted Jean-Claude via the marks to give him a heads up.
“Shit, I don’t know Jean-Claude. He was old. Not a vampire, but something… I don’t know. I’ve never felt anything like that. He knew about the Slayer though. What you told me before, do you think he sent you the visions somehow? It can’t be a coincidence.”
“I do not know ma petite
. I have asked Asher and Requiem to join us. They are making discreet enquiries… if the Slayer is awakening, we must prepare.”
It took me a second to process what he wasn’t saying. He didn’t have a clue how to deal with this.
“Prepare? How? An ancient demon hunter is possibly coming back after thousands of years – it’s not like she’s going to want to negotiate hospitality!”
He spun around.
“What would you have me do Anita? I cannot sit back and do nothing!”
I took a breath to yell back, and then stopped. This wasn’t helping. I let the breath out slowly. Brownie point for me.
At that moment the door opened and Asher and Requiem walked in, their faces grim.
The air was tense with anticipation as the four of us stood in the middle of Jean-Claude’s office. I moved first, running my fingers back through my hair to get it off my face. My mind was whirling through the encounter in the graveyard and the lingering feeling of age Whistler had left around me. I realized the Asher was speaking and tuned back into the conversation.
“… and no-one knows anything they are willing to admit. I could be more explicit, but that risks questions I do not think we want to answer.”
“We do not know
the answers,” replied Requiem.
“True mon ami
. No, make no further enquiries; we cannot risk drawing the wrong sort of attention. Instruct our people to be alert for any rumours or change amongst us. If anyone disappears, I must know as soon as it is discovered. If the Slayer is truly returning, she will be coming here for a reason – someone must be calling her I need to know who.”
A horrible thought occurred to me.
“Jean-Claude – what is involved in summoning her? Do we know?”
. I know only that she will come in her people’s darkest hour, in response to their cries.”
“But which dark hour? Its not like life is a bed of roses for a lot of people – it must be more than just some people having a crappy day.”
“True. But who knows what the Slayer would consider dark? She herself is born of the darkness, if the legends are to be believed.”
“So we wait then?”
, it is all we can do.”
They had come to her family just as the sun was setting. She remembered that the sunset had been particularly glorious that day, reds and purples bleeding on into another, she had stopped her tasks and watched it captivated until father had called to her.
The Shadowmen had come to their tribe before, giving wisdom and protection in return for shelter and food. They travelled among the tribes, following signs only they could see. But this time she had had a feeling it was different. Every new Moon brought new death to the tribes of men. There was talk of a queen, stronger than all the others, who was gathering the demon tribes for a final hunt. They said that these were the last free nights men would know. The Moon shone from the horizon. It had seemed to the girl that even Moon was afraid to show herself to the demons.
She had shaken herself from such thoughts and turned to back to the camp. The night’s fire burning, a sign of defiance against the darkness and the demons it brought, had given little comfort. The men of the tribe had gathered, deep in discussion with the Shadowmen. But it was seeing her mother weeping by the other women that had solidified the dread in her core.
“Come to the fire girl, listen to the words of the tribe.”
They were the formal words of invitation, but somehow they had seemed final to her, a portent she couldn’t quite interpret.
“The demons are coming. They will destroy all the tribes of men and feast on us. The Shadowmen have a means by which we can fight them, but they ask a great sacrifice in return. The tribe has spoken. We are willing to pay their price. You will go with them.”
“Go? Where? I don’t understand.”
But it wasn’t her father who answered.
“You are chosen. We call you to your destiny. Will you fight?”
The words of the Shadowmen had touched something deep inside her. She would not disappoint her tribe. She straightened her back, looked at her father and nodded.
If she had known she mused, would she have accepted their decision so easily? Knowing as she did now how their pride and lust for power would corrupt them, would she have allowed the Shadowmen to change her?
She had walked with the Shadowmen, though they had not spoken to her during the long trek across the plains. She had walked willingly to her destiny, not understanding the price.
The cave had been dark and damp, the very air crackled with power as the Shadowmen had given her water to drink.
They had told her to stand still as they tied her to the cave floor. She had struggled against them then, trying to get them to talk to her, but they would say nothing to her, only chanted ancient words, whose meaning was only known to the wise.
Their staffs had hit the floor, beating a rhythm that reverberated around the cavern. It felt as though her heart was beating only at their command. She struggled against the ropes, but they were too strong, her struggles were futile.“Sha me-en-dan. Gesh-toog me-en-dan.”
The darkness around her seemed to coalesce, seeping out from the corners of the cave with a life of its own."Zee me-en-den."
“No, do not do this, please!”“Oo-khush-ta me-ool-lee-a”
It had been useless, her struggles. The elders had agreed the price for protection, a chance against the demons. She would not know life now, as the spell wove its magics, she understood. Death was hers.”Ba-ab-tum-mu-do-en.”
As the darkness swirled around her, the girl knew despair, as the darkness entered her body, it tore at her soul and heart, demanding her acquiescence, burning her body with pain, scorching her, becoming her.
And then it had been over. She had fallen to her knees, exhausted. She was one with the darkness now. It was done. Irrevocable.
From the depths of her being, the darkness whispered to her, speaking of death and war. Now she knew her new name.