“Love is truly the greatest weakness of all,” A voice said behind her. Mia didn’t bother to turn around. Instead she stood at the edge of the lake a mile behind Nathaniel’s house. The lake had frozen over and now all there was, was a layer of thick ice, the same ice that seemed to cover her heart at the moment.
“After all, what wouldn’t one do for love?” The woman continued as she moved to stand beside Mia. Mia glanced at the beautiful face that was so very familiar to her, after all, she had stared at in the mirror for over a hundred years. The woman’s full red lips curved in a smile as her silver eyes turned to look Mia in the eye. Her long auburn waves were pulled back in a neat bun, stray tendrils framed her heart shaped face perfectly.
“Is that what you did?” Mia asked coolly. “Is that why you killed Grandmother?”
The pleasant smile that was on her lips quickly disappeared as her silver eyes turned to steel, “Theodora had outlived her usefulness. She tried to keep something from me, something that belonged to me, something I have been searching for, for a very long time.”
“Where are you here Emily? What it is you want from me?” Mia said with a weary sigh.
“I have come because we both have the same goal,” Emily said, a slick smile sliding on her lips and she turned her gaze out to the frozen lake. “There is something we both want to protect very dearly. Something we are both willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for.”
Mia’s blood ran cold at her sister’s words. She couldn’t be saying what she thought she was saying, could she? It had to be a misunderstanding. There was no way Emily could mean Nick. It had to be a misunderstanding.
“It took me a very long time to find him,” Emily said, a dream little smile on his lips as she pulled something out of her pocket of long black coat. Mia’s eyes were riveted and the object in her sister’s hand, a simple gold ring on an old worn gold chain. Mia’s eyes followed the ring and it swayed back and forth, unable to look away. She knew this ring. She remembered when it had been new, how it had shone so brightly in the sun. She remembered when a year later it was so covered in scratches that all the shine was gone. She remembered the warmth of the ring against her palm as she held the hand that once wore it.
A single word forms on her lips, a single name that has haunted her since that day in the bookstore, a name she always struggled to remember, but a name she always forgot in the next second. The words the voice in her head said that day came back to her.
You will only find the truth you are searching for in the blood, in the blood that flows through you and the blood that flows through him. The memories you are searching for are locked in there. If you are truly brave enough to find your answer, you must unlock the blood memories you fought so hard to suppress. But I will tell you now, you locked them away for a reason. If you break that seal, you must deal with the monster you unleashed.
“Kai,” the name spilled from her lips. The reward for her breakthrough was a blinding pain that exploded in her head. A face flashed behind the darkness of her cold eyes. A face she knew she well. A face from this life, but also a face from so very long ago, when she had been a different Mia, and he had been a different man.
Hair the color of a ray of sunlight, eyes a rich gold specked with flecks of pure black. A smile that could light up even the darkness of her heart. She had given up when he found her. She had thought she would never find someone that would see beyond the monster she was. She thought she was destined to follow her father’s footsteps, to be forever alone. But then he found her and brought her into the light. He smiled at her that first day and she knew that no matter what happened to them, no matter what lay in their future, she would always fight for him, always protect him, and always love him.
A scream of pure pain ripped from her throat as she fell to her knees in the snow. She remembered now, she remembered that day, the day they came to take her back. She remembered they had come in full force. They knew she would put up a fight and they were prepared. She belonged to them, she belonged with them, she should never have left.
They tore through the village where she lived, killing every soul within it, man, woman, and child. They gathered all the magic from the deaths and they came for her. He tried to protect her. He tried to save her, but he wasn’t strong enough. Not against them all. He hadn’t wanted her to use her magic, hadn’t wanted her to risk the new life growing within her. The child they had dreamed of for so long.
But as strong as he was, he wasn’t strong enough. They killed him, in that one moment as she watched his body fall to the still earth, she realized what her father must have felt all those years ago. The one thing that made life worth living was gone, the one light in her entire life had been snuffed out. Her heart shattered and madness claimed her.
She killed them all, she slaughtered each and every one. When it was done, she stood there dripping blood in field of dead bodies. It hit her then, a pain so fierce that she was bending over clutching her abdomen and she lost the last bit of her world. She screamed then, screamed and screamed and screamed until she couldn’t scream anymore. Everything was gone now. She had nothing left.
She knew there was only one thing left for her. She went to Thea, their oldest sister and she begged for death. Thea would be the only one who would do it. She knew best what would happened if she didn’t. They had barely been able to contain their father. None of them was strong enough know to have to bind another. So she begged for death, for an end before the madness truly calmed her and she tried to destroy the world.
She cried so hard she shook. Thea didn’t want to do it at first. She couldn’t kill her beloved sister. But Mia was too strong, her powers ran too dark, after all, wasn’t it the reason they called her the Dragon, and her people the Dragos. If Mia were to go mad and let her wraith out on the people of this world much like their father, there was no guarantee they would be able to stop her. So it had to end know.
Thea agreed but it tore her heart apart to do so. Mia watched as Thea cried as she lifted the blade they had used on their father above Mia. Mia thanked her and closed her eyes, bending her head forward in a last prayer, she asked that if he was ever born again, that she would be born with him so that they might find each other once more. A single tear rolled down her check as a pain burst in her chest. There was fire, a fiery tongue of pain that curled through her. In that last moment she saw his face once more. He was smiling at her as he often did, his hand held out to her, her name on his lips.
The power exploded from Mia in a giant wave. The trees surrounding them for a quarter mile came crashing down. The forest floor was littered with their corpses. The thick layer of ice that covered the lake shattered in to thousands of thin shards. Interspersed between them, were the floating bodies of the inhabitants of the lake who had been unable to escape her magic.
“Welcome back, sister,” A cool voice said, as her sister stepped through the debris around her. Mia watched her with cold dark eyes, noting that not even a single hair was out of place and like her, Emily was surrounded by a halo of white light.
“Why have you come?” Mia asked, her voice just as empty as her heart. The darkness she had sought to escape so long ago clung tightly to her soul.
“I have come for him,” Emily replied as she held up the ring once more, “I have come for what you took from me so long ago. He was brought to Clans for me. He was supposed to be mines, yet you took him. You took what was mines and you let him be killed. You couldn’t even protect him. You had no right to him at all and now I have come back for what you have taken.”
“Leave Emily,” Mia said as she turned her black eyes on her sister, “Leave my territory and never come back.”
“You gave up your territory when you had Thea take your life. You have no right to anything any more. You are a coward and a weakling and you always will be. You will just get him killed again. You can’t hope to protect him. Even from a woman who is so far below you it is laughable that she even dares to challenge you. You let this human life blind you. You have forgotten what you truly are. We are second to no one.”
“Leave,” Mia said.
“No! Not without him. You never deserved him and I will not let his life be sacrificed because you are not strong enough to protect him,” Emily snarled.
In a movement so quick that not even Emily saw it, Mia was suddenly at her sister’s side, her hands wrapped around her throat, her nails digging in to her soft flesh. Pulling Thea’s head down so that her ear was near her mouth, Mia whispered in her ear, “You should have let me sleep. You should have left the memories alone. I destroyed my own Clan to avenge Kai’s death. Imagine what I will do to protect it this time around.”
With a flick of her wrist, Mia tossed her sister to the ground, “Leave my territory now before I decide that the world is better with you dead.”
Emily just laughed, a loud full-bodied laugh as she looked up at her sister, “You think just because your memories have returned that you are her. You are still nothing but her shadow. You are no threat to me nor anyone else. You are weak and helpless and you will get him killed again. If you think I will allow you to risk his life again, you are wrong.”
Pulling herself to her feet, she stood tall, staring her sister down. “You had your chance with him and you failed. Now it’s my turn. Try to stop me and I will rip your world apart starting with you seer. You seem so very found out her. How do you think she’ll feel about you when I pull her eyes out and let her know this is all because of you.”
“We can play this game all day, but at the end, I will always win. I always win. As strong as you are, as strong as you were, I will always be stronger. Our father’s blood run deeper in me than the rest of you as does his madness. Never forget it. Come after one of mines, and I will destroy all of you so that nothing will be left to be reborn,” Mia said icily.
Emily just flashed a smug smile at her sister, “I will have what it mines and nothing will stop you. Be prepared sister, because I have waited a long time for this.”
With that said, she turned around and walked through the debris. Mia watched her walk away. She would be back, of that, she had not doubt. Her sister had waited over a thousand years for this moment, for his rebirth. Nothing would stop her from trying to take what she believed was her.
With a weary sigh, Mia turned away from the lake and towards the destruction of her awakening. She had no desire to return to that house, no desire to remember the happiness she had once felt there and the intense loss that still filled her heart. The soul of the man she had loved may have been reborn in to a new body, but he was not her Kai. He could never be her Kai because like herself, her Kai was locked deep within his heart. And Mia would never wish the agony and pain she suffered upon him. He, like her, has his memories locked away for a reason. She had no desire to force that pain on him. She would rather her Kai be lost to her forever than to force on him the same suffering she felt even now upon him. Let his innocence remain, let the darkness sleep. He, of them all, deserved it the most.
Turning away from the house and all those painful memories, Mia made her way deeper in the forest that backed Nathaniel’s house, deeper in to the woods, and towards the mountains that rose high above. There were secrets in these woods, secrets nobody by she remembered. It was time to reveal some of those secrets and remind the world just who and what she was. It’s time that they remembered that she was Mia Dragos, founder of the Dragos Clan, daughter of the Originator, and bringer of death.
It had been a long time since she last walked the earth. Time enough for people to forget her true nature. She was her father’s daughter. As deep as the light ran thru her, the darkness ran deeper. The world once feared her. It was time for them to remember that.
“It seems I have suddenly become very popular. I didn’t realize you all cared so much,” Mia said as she glanced up front the circle of flames that lit and warmed the cave she had retreated to. The cave entrance sat at the base of the mountains at the edge of the forest. The mouth of was actually hidden by a number of boulders. You had to know it was there to find it. Which is why the only ones who could find it were she and her sisters. After all, they had once lived in these caves right after they had first awoken from their first “death.”
“It has been a long time since I have seen you sister,” the woman Mia has once thought was her mother said as she stepped forward in to the light cast by the dancing flames. Like the two daughters she bore, Adeline Dragos had waves of the richest auburn and eyes of the brightest gray. Her face was very much a mirror to the one she had once owned.
“It’s been a long time since I have come here,” She said as she wandered around the edge of the fire, her eyes searching the shadows around them, as if searching for something familiar. If she expected to find something from their past, she would be out of luck. Any thing that might have remained from their past life had already turned to dust.
“What do you want Adeline?” Mia asked simply as she returned her gaze to the dancing tongues of flame. “Have you come as Emily’s emissary? Have you come to plead for you sister?”
“Hardly,” Adeline said with a smirk, “Emily long ago lost her way. Neither Daphne nor I have much to do with her, especially after what she did to Thea. As much as our sister had changed, she was still our sister. What Emily did to her was unforgivable.”
“Some might say that the things that Thea did were unforgivable,” Mia countered as she looked up at her sister, “After all, she sacrificed the souls of four people to bring us back to life.”
Adeline waved off Mia’s words, “She did what she had to do and you know it.”
“Is that how you deal with the sacrifice of your own children? Is that what you tell yourself to make you feel better?” Mia said icily. Adeline froze, her bright silver eyes turned into slits as she glared at her sister.
“Do not speak to me of sacrifice, not when you are prepared to do the same. You cannot lie to me. I can see it in your eyes. Isn’t that why you came here, to prepare yourself for what you are about o do,” Adeline replied coolly.
A smile spread on Mia’s lip, but it did not reach her cold black eyes.
“Do you truly feel sorry for the soul that was sacrificed to bring your rebirth?” Adeline asked, “You really shouldn’t. She truly was a little monster. There were days I wished to kill her myself. She took everything about being a blood magic user and she corrupted it. The child was born evil and I was glad when she was gone. If she had ever been reborn, I feared what destruction and havoc she could set loose on the world.”
“And your other daughter, her twin?” Mia countered. Pain seemed to flick over her sister’s face for a second before it was blank again.
“The twins were born for one reason and one reason alone. I knew when I conceived them that they would be used to bring my sisters back. I knew what was coming, we all did. We agreed the sacrifice was worth it no matter how much pain and guilt we may suffer. We all remembered who we had been and what we had to lose. Only you were born without the memories of our past. Only you were vulnerable not being able to access your true powers. It was the reason Thea kept you close, kept you home. You could have been killed so easily because you couldn’t remember who or what you were. She did it to protect you, but she failed.” Adeline said with a weary sigh as she took a seat on a rock near Mia’s own.
“I know you hated her, but everything Thea did, she did to protect the world she loved so much. She sacrificed so much of herself, so much of her humanity to give this world a fighting chance. She taught the clan to be hard and heartless because they will need it. When father truly awakens, you will need cold-blooded killers to defeat him. He is strong and ruthless. You can’t allow them to have attachments or weakness. They needed to be rid of them so they could fight him without hesitation. She was trying to create the perfect army.”
“She failed,” Mia replied flatly.
“She tried to control the human heart,” Adeline said simply shaking her head, “Nothing is controllable when love is involved. Even she had her own weakness.”
Adeline nodded, “Thea truly loved him, and had always loved him. He had loved her once too, in another lifetime. She searched the world for him, waiting for his rebirth. She thought he would be born again and they could fall in love all over again. But she found him too late and he loved another. She told me once she had planned on walking away when he first turned away from her. She had planned to let him live in peace with his mortal wife. Then she felt the earth shake as father stirred in his sleep. She decided then that there was only one way to save him. Even if it meant he would hate her for the rest of his life, it was better that way then to watch his soul burn away as a victim of Father’s rage.”
“You and I both know that it is nothing more than an excuse for what she did. She had other options. But instead of choosing those options, she made him immortal, she made him in to one of us.”
Adeline just shrugged, “Love makes one do foolish things. We have all made mistakes because of it. Besides, you can’t tell me that you would not do the same for your Kai. If there was a chance you would lose him forever and this was your only choice, I know you would do it.”
Mia didn’t reply because she didn’t have to. Adeline knew her well enough to know that Mia would do that and more. Mia wasn’t really criticizing her sister for what she did. She truly understood why she did it. Mia truly was no better than her sister, and that was the part that she hated. She hated feeling this way. She preferred the emptiness that had taken over her heart versus the fear and worry that would not go away.
She had come to this place to find solitude, to set her mind to right. But the only thing she found in this place were memories she wished had remained forgotten. Life had been so much easier as Amelia Dragos. Things had been so much simpler before she walked in to that room and saw the thin gold-eyed boy lying prostrate before her grandmother’s, thin cuts dripping blood down his back, fury burning in his soul.
Would it have been better if she had never learned he was there? If her grandmother had been successful in destroying his soul like William claimed? Would her life be easier if she had never known he existed?
“Death is easy,” Adeline said simply as she gazed in to the fire, “It is life that is hard. It is life that challenges us every moment of every day. I say if you are lucky enough to find something to make that life bearable, then hold on to it by any means possible.”
“What makes your life bearable?” Mia asked. A smile came over her sister’s face, a true smile.
“Waking up every morning to find that I’m not alone. Knowing that no matter how dark the world gets, that it is worth living because there is someone by my side. Knowing that no matter what the future brings I will always have now, this moment in time.”
Mia remembered that feel so well it broke her heart to think about it. She wished she could be like her sister. She wished she could believe that a love like that could conquer all. But she knew better. She knew what it felt like to have the man she loved ripped away from her. She remembered what it felt like to lose her child in the middle of a battlefield. She remembered screaming as her world was stolen from her and she had no power to stop it.
“Will you turn him too?” Mia asked softly. Her sister’s happy smile turned sad and wistful.
“No,” She said and she turned to look at Mia, “Because unlike Thea, I am not strong enough to see the hate in his eyes when he realized what I have done. I would take his life myself before I allow Father to take his soul.”
Mia nodded and looked back in to the fire, “I wish I had your strength. I lost him once, I’m afraid I could not lose him again.”
“He may be different. You two are so tightly connected, he may forgive you for what you must do.”
“No, he will never forgive me. After all, it is his grandfather who suffered under Thea’s curse. He will despise me and everything I have become. But I cannot lose him again. If I do, then there will be nothing this time that can stop me from descending completely in to the darkness. There aren’t enough of you left to stop me.”
“No, there aren’t enough of us left,” Adeline said sadly, shaking her head, “Emily was always ruled by her emotions. She never stopped to think before acting. It’s what always got her in trouble. Thea had been able to control her for a while. But her control began to slip when Emily learned that Kai had been reborn. Then she became obsessed with finding him. She would let nothing stand between her and finding him. I think in the end, it drove her mad.”
Mia let out a bitter laugh, “I don’t think it takes that much for us to go mad. After all, madness runs in our blood.”
“The darkness runs deep in our blood,” Adeline agreed, “But so does the light. We are not like other magic users, we are the originals, the Omegas as they like to call us. We will always be closer to madness then they are. We feel the magic so much more strongly than they ever will. We are a part of this world yet always on the outside.”
“No matter how long we live in this world, or how close we build relationships to people in it, we will never truly belong to it. There were times when I cursed father for falling in love and for creating us. We never fit in, we never belonged. They always saw us as gods or monsters. We were never one of them. There were times when I felt maybe it would have been better if father had been allowed to destroy them all,” Adeline admitted as she stared blankly at the flames in front of her.
“After we sealed him and we divided, going off to create the five clans, I entered a dark period in my life. I did as we agreed. I found those who could survive the bonding and I trained them, I taught them to fight, I gave them purpose. But I had no purpose myself. I let my anger and bitterness bleed over to my people. I let the magic corrupt their hearts until all that mattered was power.”
“When I realized what I had done, it was already too late. They no longer needed me and they chose not to follow me. I had created them and they had abandoned me,” Adeline said. “I keep thinking that if I could go back in time, if I could change things, I would have taught them to respect the land, respect the people, to cherish life and not waste it needlessly. I failed them, I failed us all.”
“We all did,” Mia said, her voice soft. “How could we teach them what we didn’t understand? How could we teach them love and respect for life when we ourselves didn’t understand it. We only knew persecution and fear. We couldn’t teach them what we didn’t know.”
“When I feel the darkness creeping up on me now days, I tell myself that we were reborn for a reason. This time we must do it right. This time we must make the right choices. This time we must right the wrongs we ourselves created. That is what I believe is my purpose in this life. To protect the lives I so needlessly wasted in the past. Even if it ultimately means my death, I feel that I owe it to this world to right some of the wrongs that I have committed against it.”
“It would take more than one life time for me to right all the wrongs that I have committed. Even an immortal lifetime,” Mia said with a shake of her head, “It doesn’t matter anyway. I have no real desire to redeem myself. I tried to be that person, I tried to be a better person, I tried that life, and I failed. In the end all I did was get an entire village of innocent people killed and murdered my entire clan. I could have happily destroyed the world that day that I lost Kai and our child. I would have to if part of me hadn’t held on to that last bit of light within me. I kept thinking that if I destroyed this world Kai lived in, he would never forgive me. It was all that stopped me. All that kept me sane enough to seek out Thea. Without his memory, I would have become Father.”
“And that’s why you here? To remind yourself of that?” Adeline guessed.
Mia gave a shrug, “I don’t think I thought it out that well. Mainly, I came here to escape. When I originally lived here, there were times when I needed to be myself, when I needed to be away from the village people. I needed a place where I could just be me and not worry about what others thought. This place became my sanctuary. Not even Kai would come after me here. He knew how much this place meant to me and how much spending time here alone helped me keep my sanity.”
“What was it like?” Adeline asked as she finally turned to look her sister in the eye.
“What was what like?” Mia asked as she returned her sister’s gaze.
“Living among them, living their life, being in love and creating a new being within you?” Mia could hear the wistfulness in her sister’s voice.
“Beautiful, amazing and yet at the same time absolutely frustrating,” Mia said with a sad smile. “It wasn’t my life. When I was with Kai, everything was perfect. He knew who I was, he knew the darkness within me and when I couldn’t contain it any longer, I could go to a place where I could let it lose. When I was with him I was able to forget about my past and just live in the present. But as happy as I was with him, I always had to be careful when I was with the villagers. I always had to play a part that never felt quite right. I had to hide who I was.”
“But you still had something none of the rest of us ever had,” Adeline said. “Even for that short time, you had the one thing we always used to dream about. When we were hiding up in the mountains, stuck in that drafty castle for our own protection, we always used to create these fantasies of living a normal life and falling in love and having families. We used to create imaginary worlds were we could live in the open and in peace with the people. You had that.”
Mia tried to tell herself that she had been lucky. She had all those things that they had dreamed about as young girls living in an isolated castle high in the mountains for their safety. She tried to tell herself she should be thankful for all the precious memories she had been given because she had lived that life. But she couldn’t. No matter how hard she tried to tell herself she should treasure what she had, she couldn’t. All she could remember was the pain, the misery, the complete and utter despair when she lost Kai and their child. That was all she remembered, that was all she could remember.
It was also the one thing she could never live through again. Losing Nick would destroy the last of the light in her, the little of what humanity she still maintained. She knew he would hate her, she knew he would never forgive her for what she had to do. But if she lost him, again, she would lose herself as well. And the destruction she was capable of, was only comparable to that of her father. They wouldn’t need to wait for her father to rise for the end of the world to come, all they needed would be her.
“I didn’t come here to try to change your mind or to argue with you,” Adeline said as she stood up. “I just came to see you again, my sister. I won’t stop you from doing what you must. All that I ask is that you try to remember what keeps you in the light and to hold on to that as tightly as you can. I just don’t want to have to stand across a battle line from you.”
“No, I don’t think anyone would want that,” Mia agreed.
“Well, then I shall leave you.” Adeline said as she turned towards the cave exit. She took one step and then stopped, turning back to Mia to say one last thing, “You know, when your done thinking, you might want to return home. When I passed by, they seemed quite worried about you. You may say that you didn’t fit in back then, but I think you’re doing just fine right now.”
With one last smile, Adeline turned away and headed out as silently as she had entered. Mia watched until her sister’s shadow became nothing more than the surrounding darkness. She knew she should heed her sister’s words. But for right now, she was quite ready yet. Maybe in a day or so when she was able to settle to mind and her heart, but for now, this is where she needed to be.
Next: Chapter Nine