Damian slid his hand down Jane's shoulder as she broke their embrace and stepped through the door to the High Witches Council with Julie. He felt so useless it was killing him. And to make things worse, they were leaving him alone with that thing wearing his dead sister's face. The door was there and they already went through, so the spell worked. Why was she still here? He could see her through the corner of his eyes. The entity just stood there staring in front of it… expressionless. So still and unmoving. If he didn't know better, he could swear she was a statue. Cold and creepy. Perfect! Now she not only made him angry with her appearance, but his skin was crawling too.
He turned towards her with the intention of asking her why she was still here when the door behind him opened again. Jane and Julie stepped out with a look that he couldn't exactly put his finger on. Confused, disappointed, shocked? 'What happened? It didn't work?', Damian asked. They came out as soon as they went in, so something had to have gone wrong. Jane didn't say a word and just zoomed past Damian and down the stairs. He turned to Julie and she was looking at the entity as well. 'Why is she still here?'
'I've been wondering the same thing, but Julie, what happened? Why are you back so soon?'
'Soon?', Julie frowned, 'it felt like an hour at least. They were wasting our time talking about God knows what amongst themselves and then they said they would help us, but only when the time was right. Then they told us to go home quickly because we needed to be back here… but for what?'
'Grams isn't waking up', Jane returned. Her eyes were fixed in a state of panic and tears were streaming down her face. 'No-', she said shaking her head at the others' unspoken question, 'She's not dead, but she's isn't reacting to anything. I don't know what to do… I j-just don't k-know…'
'There's nothing you can do'
Damian growled at the entity's words. So that's why she was still here. Julie caught on quick as well. 'Grams? You're here for our grandmother?!', she screamed the last bit.
'A reaper… we've summoned a reaper', Damian said, the energy in his hands visualizing; fire this time, not ice. Julie dived for the circle and ran a hand across the connecting lines. 'GO AWAY', she screamed, 'Go AWAY!'
The entity looked up from the now disconnected lines of the summoning circle and disappeared. Jane wasn't aware she was holding her breath until a heavy sigh came out the minute it disappeared. She turned around to return to Rosalie's side and realized she was relieved too soon; the entity was standing in the doorway.
'Breaking the circle only allowed me to come and go as I please. Trust me when I tell you this isn't something you can do anything about. Whether it happens in 2 minutes or 10 days… it will happen. The sooner you come to terms with it, the better…' and then she disappeared again.
'The hell it will', Jane said getting Rosalie's spell book from the bottom shelf. 'We are not losing anyone anymore!'
The entity took up residency in Rosalie's bedroom. Sitting quietly and unmoving in the corner armchair from where she watched the twins as they came in every 5-10 minutes to check on their grandmother and change the wet towel. They'd exhausted every possible spell to get the entity to leave, but none of them seemed to work. Damian was on the phone calling all his family's allies to see if they knew of a way to get rid of a reaper, but one after the other they told him the same thing. There is no way to expel a reaper. They are neither good nor bad and only leave after they've fulfilled their job. Despite hearing this he kept calling, hoping someone would tell him differently.
It was getting on their nerves whenever the twins entered the room to check on Rosalie and the entity felt it was doing so. She took it upon herself to become invisible whenever they entered and only reappeared when they left. In doing so she wanted to show them she wasn't their enemy… but that didn't make the unpleasant truth any more pleasant. Their grandmother was going to die and there wasn't a thing they could do about it.
'Your intrusion to my bedroom is kind of pissing me off'
'It can't be helped, Rose, I'm free from the confines of the circle, but I still can't leave the house even if the girls don't know that. I didn't realize you were awake'
Rosalie turned her head to the side and looked at the entity for the first time, having only felt its presence. 'I see they made you wear my granddaughter's face. No wonder Damian's aura is suffocating this place'
'I –am- your granddaughter, Rose'
'Having her thoughts and memories doesn't make you her. I know about you reapers… my sister told me who hers looked like before she died. I realized way back then that you change your appearance to sooth the one crossing over', Rosalie looked back up towards the ceiling. 'So this is real isn't it? My time is really up'
It was more of a statement than a question really, but the entity nodded. 'It is, yes. You –are– one of the strongest witches alive Rosalie, but you especially, given your talent, know that you can't prevent the things fate has set in motion from happening. You're worried about the girls which is only natural, but they won't really grow into their full potential and be independent if they have you to fall back on. They cling onto you too tightly'
Rosalie knew the entity was right, but she had such plans for the future. Working the girls further into magic; teaching them new things and laugh as they failed trying. Hearing the pitter patter of little feet again after so long. That child was going to be a handful, she could feel it. Rosalie had been looking forward to that child more than Jane and Damian… but it all seemed so much further away now. Like a dream that is right in front of you, but when you reach for it you never seem to be able to grab it.
'Was it the summoning that did me in?', Rosalie wanted to know. The entity shook its head. 'No, but it did hasten it. I've been hovering around you ever since the girls went to Belladonna Cove to search for the keeper of prophecies'
'Were you the one that took them too? Jean and Rinka?'
'No, it was another'
'How long before you take me?'
'It's your choice whether I take you at all'
Rosalie turned around and frowned at the entity. If it was her choice, what in the hell would make her want to go at all. If she refused to go, would she stay alive?
'No-', the entity answered, reading her thoughts through her eyes, ' you are still going to die Rose. I can take you now and it'll be painless and quick, for the longer you wait, the weaker you will get and it will start to hurt. You won't be able to leave the bed as it gets worse and one by one your internal organs will start to shut down. It will be a long and slow process which, true, will give you more time with the girls, but the pain… it is not worth it, Rose. You do not want them to remember you like that'
'How long do I have to make my choice?'
'I can delay for maybe a week or two… that's when you'll start getting weaker. I must warn you though should you refuse me entirely. In the final hour when you do die there will be no one waiting for you and your spirit will be trapped here; roaming this house. It might not seem like a bad thing at this moment and it won't be…. for a while. But in the long term it will be unbearable and that's when spirits lose it. They become restless and angry and the haunting begins. Your restlessness will bring discomfort and fear into your family's lives'
'If I stay…'
'Believe me, you will not want to—'
'-IF- I stay', Rosalie started again interrupting the entity. She had already heard what was going to happen. She didn't need to hear it twice. '-will I see Jane's child born before I die?'
'No... Her pregnancy is progressing much faster than usual, but not enough for you to be present when she gives birth'
Rosalie sighed and closed her eyes. 'Rose…'
'Please', Rosalie held up her hand, 'I want to be alone right now'
Marina ruffled through the pages of the old books Iden had dropped on the table. The pages were old and yellow and very fragile. The text on some of them had even faded away with time. The ones referring to all this mate business were luckily still intact… not that they told her much. Iden's name written on the first page told her this was one of his diaries. In it he wrote about what the medicine man had told him about mates. About women born to bring back balance to the world because of their own vampiric state that made them live longer. These women were branded with the ability to keep the beastly part of their state peaceful and subdued which included the savage hunger. Finding a mate would be the most difficult thing imaginable since there is nothing -visible- to indicate or recognize the woman as such. There are two known, but difficult, ways of recognizing a mate: -1- The vampire and the woman will have an inexplicable pull towards one another. But it is hardly distinguishable from the pull of the hunger need, so very easily overlooked and blamed on the bloodlust. And -2- The blood of the woman will be poisonous to EVERY vampire. Difficult to sense because one cannot tell through the skin. The person has to be bitten (lethal), bled or hurt to be able to test the theory. If bitten, the mate will kill her vampire before even being recognized as a mate.
If by lucky chance the mate is found, the poisonous blood can be reverted into regular blood by ways of a blood ritual during and after the claiming. There is no telling when such a mate is or will be born and could be after a hundred or even thousands of years.
'Get your hands off me!'
A commotion outside the door made Marina look up from the diary. She knew that voice. How did she manage to find this place? Even Marina herself didn't know where this place was. Marina got up and ran to the door only to have it smack open before she could touch it and Binny spilling inside.
She muttered a few words, but Iden waived them away. 'If you throw another hex at me I will no longer see the use in you' He looked over at Marina as she shushed Binny telling her he wasn't joking. 'Here I am searching for a witch and lo and behold, you bring along your own', Iden addressed Marina.
'How are you this late afternoon?'
'Better…', Marina answered a bit short. He was Raven's brother and already proved he wasn't going to hurt her, but her trust wasn't something he was going to get anytime soon.
Iden sensed her discomfort and decided maybe this wasn't the time. 'I see we have interrupted your reading. I shan't keep you any longer', he made a polite bow and turned to Binny. 'If you know what is good for you, I suggest you keep to this part of the mansion. No one will enter here on the threat of death. Step out and I cannot guarantee your safety…. Not that I want to right now', he threw over his shoulder when he closed the door.
The minute the door closed Binny jumped up and hugged Marina. 'I didn't know what to think. Are you okay? No one called to say you were okay; I've been worried sick!'
'I'm fine! This was just an extreme way of Iden trying to get Raven here. He knew he wouldn't come otherwise… Which reminds me, how did you get here?'
'I put a binding spell on Chase. He was going to leave me behind like Raven did and I wasn't going to let that happen. This way he couldn't go anywhere without me. I didn't realize we were going into a pit of vampires, although I should’ve known. Who was that douche bag?'
'That was Iden. He's Raven's brother and also the leader of the vampire clan. He doesn't make empty threats, so be careful'
'That was the leader of the vampires? I feel dizzy all of the sudden. Can we go home now?'
'What do you mean? Are they holding you prisoner? I can call for help if…'
'No, nothing like that. What I meant was… I don't want to'
Lubinnia looked at her like her head had just sprouted mushrooms. 'I think I need to sit down… why? What on earth would make you want to stay with them? Apart from the obvious Raven'
'He's the main reason I have… want to stay! There's this thing called a 'mate'. Apparently it's quite the phenomenon in their world and, well, turns out I'm Raven's'
Apparently her head sprouted more mushrooms, because Binny kept staring at her. 'Well, aren't you going to say anything?'
'Yeah, sure. Bullshit! That's all romantic and everything, but don't you think it sounds a bit, I don't know, insane? Your destined mate is a vampire; a hungry vampire at that. Yes, I know what the red eyes mean now. Marina, I don't know how to explain it, but the way I feel right now and looking at him, my mind is screaming that he might attack you at any minute'
'But how can you be certain?'
'Because my blood is poisonous to him at the moment'
'Okay, it's reassuring that you're protected, but it only means that he can attack anyone else then'
'That's why I have to stay and accept the role of his mate. So that he doesn't need to attack people. After the ritual, my blood won't be poisonous anymore and…'
'And and what? You can feed him? Are you even listening to yourself? Do you seriously expect me to be okay with this?'
'I'm not asking you to be okay with it. I'm simply telling you what needs to be done'
'What needs to be done is you need to get the hell away from them. I don't like the idea of sacrifice, but I wouldn't mind if he fed off someone else that isn't YOU'
'That's not going to happen, because I want to do it'
'BECAUSE I LOVE HIM, OKAY! Why are you the only one that can't see that?'
'You heard me…'
'What kind of a question is that? You know we don't choose who we fall in love with. So, yes, I'm in love with a vampire, but if in doing so I can keep even a handful of people safe from him, what's wrong with that?'
Lubinnia looked the other way. This was taking a whole other turn than she thought it would. Marina was staying here willingly in the midst of danger and wasn't really listening anymore. It didn't matter how much she argued, it looked like Marina made up her mind. Her best friend was going to give herself to a vampire who for all she knew could kill her. Not intentionally, but still possible.
'What… uhm, what did that leader mean about needing a witch?'
Marina sighed. 'A witch needs to do the mating ritual so that it lifts the poisoned blood. I know how you feel about it, but believe me when I tell you I love him. And I promise you I'm not going into this blindly. I've had almost an entire day to think about it. I asked the questions I needed answers to. It won't help my case, but I'm going to be the first mate and there isn't much known about it than what's written. I need your help Binny. Will you do this? The ritual? It's something I really want…'
'So you don't know the risks involved? If it has consequences or changes or anything? You're right, that didn't help your case at all. And no, I will not do the ritual'
Lubinnia got up and closed the door behind her, leaving Marina with an empty feeling in her stomach. She expected Binny to argue and fuss at first, but the refusal, even after she explained, stung like crazy. They could get another witch to perform the ritual, but would she and Lubinnia ever get past this?