ch3 - Courting Danger
I watched the lights of the city go by through the darkened windows of the car, all those people hustling and bustling around. Not one of them spared a glance as we smoothly slid through the city. I cursed my luck, after all this time, after all my care to be caught like this. But I would not go quietly into the night. I had no illusions as to what would happen to me when we reached our destination. I would be lucky or possibly unlucky to see the dawn. There are some things worse than death.
The next time, I promised myself, the next time we slowed or stopped at some traffic lights, if there was people around. I would jump, make a scene I might get lucky, attract enough attention, possibly even a police officer, in the resulting furor I might be able to slip away quietly. I cursed again I should have made a scene maybe started a fire at the diner. Taken my chances with the law. They after all were only human, easier to fool. Inwardly I shook myself it was stupid to scold myself now, wait until I was away from this cursed city. Then the self recriminations could start.
I steeled myself as we came around the bend slowing as a pedestrian crossing loomed ahead. My heart beat almost trebling, my palms sweaty. Counting down the seconds my body tensing as I prepared to leap, my eyes semi focused on the door handle. Three, two…
I never made it to one. Both Damian and Jason, almost in synchronized movement pounced on me. One heavily muscled leg thrown over me as Jason almost smothered me with his body as he tried to restrain my frantic struggles, my wrists captured almost negligently, a hand cupping my mouth in a steely grip. The car slowed further and I kicked out frantically. Damian leaned into my neck, breathing deeply, a fang grazing the tender side of my neck… “I can taste her fear its intoxicating, look at me little one”.
Jason swore and yanked my face towards him.
“Calm the fuck down, he hasn’t fed tonight and his control is slipping”.
If it was meant to quieten me, it had the opposite effect as terror overcame me. I bit down hard, tasting the coppery tang of blood, garnering an oath from Damian whose eyes gleamed in the darkness. I screamed and struggled again. Only vaguely aware as glasses in the inbuilt limo liquor cabinet began to shake and smash.
Both Jason and Damian stilled, I never saw the hand that clipped me on the jaw. My head flaring in bright pain and stars. Vaguely I was aware of Jason yelling at the driver to drive as I was pulled down.
Everything after seemed so hazy, the car rolling to a stop, manhandled out, a cape thrown over me as I was almost dragged towards a small door. Some inner instinct made me resist, but I was like a babe in their hands as they easily controlled me down narrow stairs. Jason stopping as I tripped again, my head lolling on my shoulders. A muffled argument and then I was being carried through dark, dim corridors. I could hear whispers and voices, a sea of blurry curious faces as we passed. Couldn’t they see I was being kidnapped, I tried to speak, almost incoherent mumbles. But somebody must have understood as harsh amused laughter rang out. I closed my eyes as Jason growled, a low inhuman rumble which started in his chest.
I must have blacked out, when I next awoke, it was to a pounding head and a spinning room. I was on a four poster bed all draped in black as was the walls with midnight black velvet drapes. I was dimly aware of voices muffled and indistinct. I strained to hear catching the odd words, ‘resisted…. Power… fear ….court tonight …. demand’. and then silence as whoever was in the room was made aware of my awakening.
I rolled to the side as I retched, warms hands eased me upright and a cold flannel was pressed to my neck.
“Breath deeply, it will pass”, a soothingly deep voice advised.
“Wh… where .. who …”, my words were slow and indistinct. But a low amused chuckle answered my question.
“Poor little one.…Damian should have not hit you so hard, where you are is the Circus of the Damned – The master of the city has gracefully extended an invitation with an audience of his court, as to whom am I, why I am Requiem”.
The mattress dipped as another person sat beside me, a hand running gently on my back with calming circular motions, “Here Lara sip this, it will help”, it was Jason the fink, but I felt too lethargic to object to even his objectionable presence as he put a straw to my lips and a cool sweet liquid ran into my mouth and down my parched throat.
Minutes passed in silence, only the sounds of my breathing and the occasional murmur from the men beside me, as I struggled to regain my equilibrium.
Requiem roused himself, “It is time, dawn approaches swiftly, let me look at you child”.
A finger drew my chin up, as dark unfathomable eyes looked deep into me. Vampire, something inside me screamed and panicked. But I was just too nauseous, too ill to care overmuch.
“hmmm… you will do…and perhaps it will make it easier”. He gazed at me assessing me and then nodded to himself, “now listen to Jason carefully Lara there can be no further mistakes, the Master of the city does not take kindly to ill behaviour”.
A flush of annoyance spiralled deep with me, my shoulders stiffening with anger. I had been threatened, kidnapped and knocked out and he acted as though I was a child in need of admonishment.
Jason coughed warningly, I could see him shake his head, and some of the fire left me, leaving a deep pit of despair in my stomach.
“Lara, it will go okay, just …just don’t do anything stupid hmmm”, he took both my hands, cupping them in his palms. I glanced up, angry I may be at him. But he was the only person of familiarity here, and I felt myself clutching at this faint hope of safety with him.
Seeing he had my attention he continued. “Okay you need to keep your eyes averted, head downturned. Direct eye contact with ….some of the”, he hesitated, “some of the people here could be bad, could be very bad, they view it as a challenge and you don’t want to be seen as a challenger”.
“next – no smart back chat, answer simply and don’t lie, they can tell when you lie. Address people politely and correctly, don’t struggle, don’t try and run. Don’t panic. When we go in, you must kneel until told otherwise. Make it easy on yourself and comply. Apologise where required and if in doubt beg for forgiveness. He’s a decent master, you are lucky that its St Louis you are in”
“Do you understand Lara”, the vampire Requim turned my face towards him. “You are here to answer to the master of the city and he will deem what punishment and penance must be applied”.
I blinked slowly and nodded.
“And Lara if you must cry, try and control yourself, quietly, you can go to pieces afterward, just grown some spine for a few hours hmmm”.
My back stiffened at his cruel words, and shooting him a venomous glare, I staggered to my feet. The room slowly settling on its axis again. Taking an arm each I was lead along dark torch lit corridors, my mind idly wondering at the folly of such a fire risk. All too soon we reached a pair of large ornate doors. Two men flanked either side of the doors, vampires I would guess by the frisson of fear that run down my spine as he glanced at me. Before one slipped away appearing almost immediately. “The master will see her now, he has gown impatient”.
Requiem turned me towards him, “Remember what Jason has taught you, it will save you ma Cherie”. Then in less than a breath my hands were tied with soft velvet rope and a Velvet blindfold was wrapped around my eyes.
I took a deep breath, if this was my fate I would meet it with my head high, I would not cower amongst these monsters I promised myself.
I was hustled though and dropped on the ground, Jason’s hand squeezed my shoulder gently, before he stepped away.
The floor was cold and hard beneath me, my heart hammering as I could feel myself starting to pant. Around me I could hear low whispers and the sound of rustling clothes, I could almost feel the gaze of many eyes on me.
“So this is her”. A low smooth as silk voice that slithered through my body.
Footsteps as he circled me. A hand reached out and stroked my cheek.
“Don’t touch me”, I spat out without thinking. The reaction was instantaneous, a hand gripping my hair yanking my head back.
“YOU WOULD DARE….. you a Witch that dares enter my territory without permission and hides like vermin, without supplication”. The words were spoken with anger, the heat of which rolled over me, leaving me shuddering in its aftermath.
I belatedly remembered Jason’s words, “I am sorry”, I gasped out.
“Sorry…sorry, the witch says?”, he crooned in my ear a mere whisper, his breath caressing my ear. I shivered as his words a power unto themselves seemed to lick and caress my spine.
“I have no power, I am not a practicing witch, I didn’t think it would matter”. I tried to explain.
His hand which had been caressing my neck, stilled and I held my breath as he pondered my words. “Hmm a mixture of truth and lies. But I am the master of the city and I felt you leak all over the city last moon”.
“that was an accident, its never happened before”.
“Perhaps, no matter”, he waved it off with a negligent air, “we will return to that matter at a later time….. if there is a later time”.
A small smattering of amused laughter broke out. And then was instantly cut off. I could almost feel the Masters irritation.
“So witch, tell us more about how you came to be in my territory?”
My throat closed up, I could feel my heart speed up as Jasons words echoed in my ears – ‘they can tell when you lie’.
“Start with your name, and whence you came from”.
My heart stopped, and fear took over, I shook his hand from me, struggling to my feet. “Fuck you, You know my name”. In the background I could hear objects shaking and doors slamming.
He didn’t touch me. He didn’t even speak, but his power washed over me, like a Tsunami, throwing me to the ground. My breath stolen as I gasped and choked for air.
As suddenly as it started it stopped, and I lay sobbing in a heap on the floor.
“So now you know your power matters not here, Come now witch, do not play games with me”. I was pulled upright again, into a kneeling position and my blindfold whipped off. Jason and Requiem holding me between them. Jason’s hand tightened on me in warning.
Eye blinking I took in the master of the city, slightly surprised to see it was the same vampire that I had met in the diner. Now he was dressed formally like a naughty wet dream gothic style. Skin tight leather trousers, butter soft boots and a ruffle shirt open to the waist. Eyes blank his face a mask we surveyed each other although I was careful not to meet his eyes. Until Requiem knocked my head down.
“Bon, you are learning, perhaps all will not be wasted”, he paused and strode back to a gilt and velvet throne, flanked by two fully grown wolves.
“now witch – you are allied to no coven, nor hold allegiance?”
I shook my head.
“Hmmm dawn approaches, if this matter is to be finalised. You will need a mentor that will speak for you, a master that will accept responsibility for your conduct and enforce it. If you are not allied within a coven, then somebody must speak for you… otherwise all will be forfeit”.
He surveyed the room, as Requiem and Jason in synchrony stepped back away from. “Who will stand for this witch?” His voice boomed out, echoing around the room. I realised that he must have his whole entourage here, the room was filled with people standing in the shadows. And not one person moved or spoke.
I looked around wildly, under no misconceptions of what the term ‘Forfeit’ meant. While I would meet my death bravely, I did not want to die.
I caught Jason’s eye, he at least promised to look after me. But with sad regretful eyes he gave an almost minute shake of his head, before his gaze purposely drifted to the other side of the room. I followed his gaze, landing on a figure bathed in shadow, the light catching against hair spun like gold.
My hand of its own accord reached out beseechingly “please”.
And as the room spun, the shadows deepened and I fell to the floor, darkness creeping into my vision. He stepped forward and clasped my hand, claiming me. Pulling me up and as I lifted my tired gaze to his eyes, eyes of the blue of the Antarctica, I was caught in a maelstrom, sucked down deeper and deeper, as he caught me within his gaze.
Did you enjoy....Please please please review. this has been much more difficult to write and still not sure if its coming out okay