The smell of spilled beer and stale cigarette smoke assaulted her as she ducked through the darkened doorway. A few eyes turned in her direction but quickly turned away when they recognized her face. Not to mention the group of people behind her.
The room suddenly got quiet as the occupants became aware of her presence. No one was brave enough to meet her eyes, instead they stared down at their drinks or at the others with her. She took her time and looked around the dimly lit room. It seemed it was a very busy night. The bar was full, every stool taken. The tables lining the walls were packed.
Anyone else walking in to the bar would think it was the latest hip dive for the young and rich. Everyone in the room was stunningly attractive. No one in there could be considered plain, much less ugly. But there was a coldness to the beauty of the people around her, a coldness that did not go unnoticed.
She was sure that every now and then some null or magic user must have wondered in. But she was also sure that they didn’t remain long. They probably wouldn’t understand why it felt so wrong in the room. Why a shiver would run down their backs as they looked around. It wasn’t something that would be outwardly noticeable. But they would just sense that something was off. They wouldn’t understand what the chill in the air was, or why some animal instinct was telling them to run. After all, the wouldn’t recognize the predators for what they were. They had been playing this game too long to get caught, and Mia was the worst of them all.
“My lady,” a man appeared at her elbow. His eyes were down cast, but this man did so out of respect and not fear. She couldn’t smell the sour stench of fear on him as he bowed before her. Not like the others in the room. They knew exactly who she was and they knew she was definitely someone to fear. She may have been missing from the world for the last twenty-five years, but she was back now. Even with her new appearance, there was no doubt to who she was.
The man stood back up, this time he met her eyes. There was no challenge in them, just acknowledgement. She studied him for a long moment. Like most of their kind, the man was extremely attractive. His jet black hair was slicked back away from his face to expose every perfect feature, high cheek bones, full lips, a square jaw, and jade green almond shaped eyes. His warm golden skin tone gave him the look of a man that loved the sun, but the plain gray suit he wore spoke of menial labor. The suit made him stand out from the rest of the occupants in the room. The lack of color and the simple cut were out of place among the bold colors and daring styles of the rest of clientele. It was probably done so on purpose.
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with us. My master has secured a room in the back where you may speak more privately,” the man said as looking around the room meaningfully. Mia said nothing but nodded in reply. “If you would follow me, I will show you the way.”
Mia watched as the man turned and headed back towards the back of the room, where a doorway opened to the back room. She glanced back at her companions to find them waiting for her instructions.
“Ada, you and Aiden stay out here. Make sure we are not interrupted,” Mia ordered. Ada nodded with a grin on her face as she looked around the room, her devious eyes glowing as her gaze fell on one particular handsome specimen of a man. Mia couldn’t help but roll her eyes as she saw the man suddenly pale as he realized he had drawn her cousin’s attention.
“Try not to cause too much trouble,” Mia said dryly.
“Me? Cause trouble?” Ada said innocently as she smiled broadly at Mia. Mia just shook her head and turned to Aiden. The man smiled lazily at her.
“No warnings for me?”
“Don’t blow this place us,” Was all Mia said before she turned around to follow the man in the gray suit. Her last companion followed her silently. His presences seemed to cause almost as much of a stir as her own. After all, he was a legend to these people. Where people feared Mia and her family, people looked up to him. After all he had fought the Guild’s legendary Dragon Legion and survived. Not many other people could say that. Not even Mia.
“Are you sure he can be trusted?” William Gregor asked softly as he slid up to her side.
“Trust isn’t an option we have any longer. We are running out of time. With the Dragos Clan divided, we don’t have the resources or the man power to prevent an all out attack by the Rosengard Clan. The latest report said that at least two-thirds of her father’s army has already landed and joined her. No matter how we try to shut down our borders, their aren’t enough us to stop them from sneaking in. It doesn’t help that Emily is openly assisting them. If we don’t do something now, Ophelia will be ready to attack by the end of the month.”
“Nick didn’t believe that this was the right way to go,” William reminded her.
“That’s because Nick doesn’t understand the true danger Ophelia poses. He doesn’t understand that Ophelia herself isn’t the danger we need to fear. What we really need to fear is the creature she will awaken with the amount of blood she is prepared to shed. The blood magic Clans were created for a reason and it’s time we remember that reason,” Mia said through gritted teeth.
Nick was not happy with her at the moment. He was down right furious and he had been all too happy to tell her how stupid she was being. He naively believed that the only danger was the danger that stood before them. No matter what she said, not matter how much she argued and fought, he wouldn’t listen to a word she said. So that’s why she half a country away from Stonehearth with only her cousin Ada, William Gregor, and his omega Aiden as back up.
She would have taken Marco and Delilah with her, but they had sided with Nick. They said it was more important to deal with the problem before them and not to worry about what might come. They didn’t understand that what might come, was far more dangerous than anything they could possibly imagine. They didn’t understand that true horror that was her father. They didn’t understand the monster that he has become and the death and bloodshed that would follow if he were to be awakened.
With the amount of magic that was bound to be thrown around and the amount of blood that would be shed, surely it would be enough to wake her father who had already begun to stir in his sleep.
Her other two sisters, Adeline and Daphne were already preparing for the worst. They had returned to the Dragos Clan Home and had begun preparations for what was to come. They had begun to seek out powerful healers and other A-level magic users who were open minded enough to listen to them. They hadn’t had much success yet, but they weren’t giving up. They would need everyone they could get to even give this world a chance at survival.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for their other sister, her twin, Emily. She instead seemed to be enjoying herself by driving this war forward. She was openly helping the Rosengard Clan and those of the Dragos Clan who had chosen to follow her had already pledged themselves to battle besides the Rosengards.
Mia’s hands clenched in fists. If she had time to chase after her sister, she would make good on that threat she had given to Emily a month ago. Luckily for her, Mia had her hands full at the moment.
As they reached the heavy wooden door, the man pushed it open for Mia and William. Mia entered the long hallway that was revealed through the open door. William followed closely behind her as they stepped on the side to allow their guide move in front of them once more.
He headed down the narrow hallway. Mia had to squeeze herself pass stacked crates of liquor, glasses and napkins. They passed an open door which was nothing more than an empty office as they headed towards the end of the hall.
“Forgive us for the mess. With war coming, we weren’t sure if we would be able to keep our usual supplies in stock so we decided to order in what we could,” The man explained as they yet again squeezed through a narrow part of the hall that had Mia’s back brushing against the dirt covered wall behind her.
“Luckily for me, I don’t seem to have that problem any longer,” William replied to their guide while giving Mia a pointed look. She just rolled her eyes at the reference to his nightclub that Nick had pretty much destroyed in a fit of rage when he had found Mia lying in a pool of her own blood.
“It’s not like you can’t rebuild. Besides, it could have used a makeover anyway.”
“I’ll be sure to pass along my thanks the next time I see your paramour,” William replied drily. Mia ignored him as they finally reached the end of the hall and a closed door. Mia wasn’t sure what she expected to find when the man swung the door open, but the elegant dinning room was definitely not it.
Mia stepped in the room, her booted feet sinking in to the plush deep red carpet. She felt out of place in her black winter coat and worn leather boots, among the elegance of the room. Opulence might have been a better word, Mia decided as she took a quick survey of her surroundings. Gold covered walls, thick red velvet drapes, a real dinning table made out of gold, not to mention the fourteen chairs that lined the table. Even the plates and utensils covering the table were made of gold. It was obvious the owners had money and that wanted to make sure you were aware of it.
Mia was not impressed. She was realistic, how comfortable could a chair made out of gold really be. She actually preferred the simple dinning set she had back at her apartment. Something she had found at a second hand store she had picked up for fifty bucks. The cherry wood set had been scuffed and the needed to be revarnished from what Ronan had told her when he came with her to pick it up. But she didn’t care. It was what she had needed, a place to eat. This was too much.
It seemed the man at the table thought as much as well. He had one of the gold chair removed and sat on a rolling office chair he had probably stolen from the empty office. The amused smile gave her told her he knew exactly what she was thinking.
Seeing that he had her attention, he came to his feet in one elegant move and he walked around the table to her side.
“Amelia,” He said, his voice smooth as her name rolled off his tongue. Although the Chen clan was based in China, as a child he had been raised with his mother clan in northern Europe. Even after two hundred years away from his mother’s home, his speech still held a slight accent. It was said that there were women who had been seduced by his voice alone. Mia did not doubt it, if she were any other woman, she would have been tickled pink by the sound of her name on his lips. But there had always been someone else for her. No matter how hard he had chased her, she had never once been tempted.
“Damien,” she nodded as he leaned over, politely bowing to her as his servant before him had.
“We are honored by your presence,” He said as he stood back up, watching her with his dancing green eyes as he held his hand out to her.
“No, it is we who are honored by your invitation,” Mia replied as she laid her hand in his. He brought her hand to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss against the back of her hand. Mia felt a spark where his lips touched her skin. An amused smile lit on her lips as she send a current of magic through her hand and back to his lips.
His head quickly came up as their two magics reacted. There was a look of surprise in his eyes, but there was also a grin on his slightly swollen lips.
“I see you have grown stronger,” He remarked as he released her hand and gesture to one of the seats besides his own. Mia’s only reply was a shrug before she took a seat beside his own. Once she was seated, he pushed her chair in for her, the golden legs sliding easily across the plush carpet.
William walked around the other side of the table and took the seat across from Mia. Once they were seated, Damien once again took his seat.
“Now that we have finished with necessities, shall we get down to business,” William stated as he shifted in his chair uncomfortably. Mia tried hard not to shift on the cold hard seat. Instead she tried to sit as straight as possible, so that as little of her as possible would touch the seat. She was sure these things had been created as torture devices, because they sure were designed for sitting.
Damien watched her with a perfectly straight face, but she couldn’t help but notice the light in his eyes. He pointedly ignored William’s presence and instead turned all of his attention on her.
“There are been many rumors going around this past month as to your sudden reappearance after twenty-five years in hiding and your new appearance.” He said, gesturing to her new face and body, “There was great speculation that there was a fall out between your and Theodora, over a child, nonetheless.”
“I’m surprised your listen to such rumors,” Mia replied, her voice cold and emotionless.
“I didn’t believe them when I first heard them,” Damien said, his eyes narrowing as he sat back against the padded chair back. His hands clasped before him on the table top. “But then I remembered the stories Emily told when she came to my father’s home seeking his assistance in finding a rare artifact that had supposedly found its way in to our treasure vault.”
“And what artifact was my sister looking for?” Mia said the words, although she already knew the answer.
“She called it the Heartstone,” Damien said, “She informed us, it was a relic from the First Age of Magic that granted its owner the ability to locate any soul in the living world as long as they possessed an object that the belonged to the soul they were searching for. It couldn’t be an everyday object, it had to be something that was very important to them.”
“What an interesting artifact,” William remarked, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
He was rewarded with a dark look from Damien, before Damien’s attention was once back on her.
“He is quite right,” Mia admitted, “As interesting as this artifacts sounds, it would be considered quite useless, seeing as how any seer worth their weight could do the same thing.”
“I have ten such seers in my employ,” William snorted.
“We believed much the same,” Damien admitted, “It was why it was thrown in one of my father’s vaults and quickly forgotten.”
“So why does my sister’s interested in a useless artifact have to do with the rumors regarding my disappearance?” Mia asked as she shifted in her seat as subtly as possible. Her tailbone began to ache and her thigh was beginning to cramp from remaining so stiff so long.
“Like you, I thought nothing of the artifact at first. It is well known that Emily has always been chasing after some odd thing or another,” Damien paused with a shrug, and Mia nodded in her agreement. Her sister has always been searching for something. Mia had just not realized what it was until it was too late.
“So what changed your mind?” William asked.
Damien continued, completely ignoring William’s question. “I was starting to think your sister had finally lost her mind when she insisted the Heartstone was better than even the most powerful seer in the world. I didn’t believe her at first, but then I saw the artifact in action. The Heartstone doesn’t just find a soul in the living world, it can trace that soul back to its very origin. It gives you glimpses in to their past lives and shows you important moments in their current life not to mention pinpointing their exact location.”
Mia’s body stilled as she looked straight in to Damien’s eyes. He stared right back at her. There was a challenge in his eyes now, daring her to deny what he knew was true. What he had seen in the Heartstone. She knew he cared nothing about what he had seen of Nick in the visions the Heartstone granted, instead all that mattered to him was what he had seen of her. Because where Nick had been, so had she. And the face he would have seen in the vision was the face of the woman that sat before him now. He was daring her deny who she truly was.
Mia sat back in her chair, a scowl on her lips, as she contemplated just what to tell Damien. She had eventually planned to tell enough of the truth to gain his cooperation, but now it seemed he knew more about her then she had been planning to tell him. Now the question was, what more would he ask to know. While she was thinking, she was absently spinning the worn golden band around her right thumb finger. her unconscious gesture caught Damien’s eyes and an eyebrow went up as he recognized the ring.
“So it is true then?” Damien asked as he looked back up at her, “Everything that Emily told us, it is all true?”
“Well that would probably depend on what she told you. There is the truth, and then there is Emily’s truth,” Mia said with a heavy sigh. “My sister doesn’t always see the world around her clearly. Instead she is focused more on how the world revolves around her and how she can go about getting whatever it is that she desires at the time.”
“After spending some time with her, I will agree with you. But the things she told me, she also showed me proof of,” Damien said as he leaned forward, his voice getting softer.
“And just what was it that she showed you?” Mia asked warily.
“She showed me our creation.”
Mia froze and she tried to take in what Damien was telling her. Had Emily told him everything? Had she told him about their father? About how he had killed his own daughters after he had fallen in to a all consuming madness after the loss of his wife? Had she told him how he in his rage he tried to destroy the very world he had helped protect for so long? Did she show him the destruction and bloodshed he had left in his wake? Could he truly understand the horror that was their father?
A shiver ran down Mia’s back as she struggled to keep the memories at bay. It had become so hard lately. They came to her unbidden. They would attack her in her sleep, so much so that she avoided sleep as much as possible. Any time she closed her eyes, even if it was just for a moment, the images, the screams, the smell of blood consumed her. She was thrown back in to the past over and over again. It was as if no time has passed at all. It was like she was living through the events all over again.
It had gotten so bad, she was beginning to doubt reality. Sarah had tried to help her at first. She used her skill in medicines and created a tea that had allowed Mia to sleep without dreams. But that had only worked for a little over a week. Before that, the visions had only come to her in her sleep. But after using the tea, they began to come to her in her waking moments too. She was unable to escape them.
Things had gotten so bad that Mia had begun to lock herself in her apartment. She wasn’t able to tell reality from the visions and not even Sarah could help her. She refused to see anyone, even Nick. She had honestly thought she was had finally lost in and was going to follow in her father’s footsteps. She was at her very wit’s end when it happened.
She had learned quite by accident that there was a way to cure her of the visions for a short period of time. She needed to bleed. It wasn’t enough to just bleed a little, she needed to bleed a lot. She basically had to bleed herself to near death.
It had happened one morning when she was consumed by the visions of the past. She hadn’t been able to tell what was real from what was just a memory. She had stumbled in to her kitchen looking for something, anything to make the visions stop. She had stumbled upon the kitchen knife Nick had left drying in the dish rack the last time he had been over. She had been so desperate she just wanted it to end already. In a fit of madness, she had sliced her wrists open.
It really wasn’t as bad as it sounded. As a blood magic user, and a blood letter, she bled herself often enough that she knew exactly how much blood her body could lose before she was actually at risk of dying. Admittedly, she had started it with the intention of killing herself, but when she had lost enough blood that the visions began to fade and her mind began to clear, she had enough strength left to seal the wounds and used the blood to heal some of the damage she had done.
Sarah had found her in a deep sleep curled up in the middle of her kitchen floor lying in a pile of ashes. She was the only one that knew what had happened and that was only because of her sight. Mia had made her promise not to tell anyone. Sarah hadn’t been happy, but she was also the only person who could possible understand what Mia was going through and she understood that this was necessary for Mia’s continued sanity. She just made Mia promise that she would never do it again with Sarah present just in case she messed up.
Mia had agreed. Sarah had been with her just the day before when she had helped Mia with her new “cure.” The effects lasted for about four to five days. But it would be long enough for Mia to meet with Damien and return before needing to bleed herself again. At least Mia had originally hoped it would be enough. Now she was beginning to worry it wouldn’t be.
“What exactly did she show you?” Mia asked finally, her voice hoarse.
“Everything,” Damien said simply.
“I know about your mother, I know how she died and your father went insane. How he killed those villagers and how he killed all of you. I saw it all Amelia.” Damien answered. Mia looked up in to find stark fear in his eyes.
“Why? Why did she show you these things?” Mia could hear the slight tremble in her voice. William heard it as well as he darted a quick worried glance in her direction.
Although William had not seen exactly what had happened to her and her sister, he knew enough about it. Thea had told him everything when they had begun to seek a way to finally end the threat her father possessed. He was one of the few people in the world that truly knew were magic users came from.
And now it looked like there was another. At least as far as Mia knew, it was just one more. Not knowing just how many people her sister had decided to share this information with she didn’t know exactly how many people knew the truth.
Mia’s plan had been to keep as much information as possible to themselves. She hadn’t wanted to create a panic and she was sure that was exactly what would happen if people realized just what kind of threat was truly out there. Sure there would have been some none believers, or some skeptics, but there would still be enough out there would would truly believe and who would do stupid things out of fear. What she didn’t know need right now was a man hunt out on her people, just because they were blood magic users, didn’t mean they were all evil.
Mia truly didn’t understand what her sister was doing anymore. If this was all about getting Nick, why was she going around and exposing their family secret? What did that have to do with winning Nick over?
“I truly don’t understand what she is doing anymore,” Mia said with a shake of her head as neither Damien nor William seemed to have a reply for her. “Why is she helping the Rosengards? What good will it do to start a war? Doesn’t she understand just how dangerous it is? How close our father is too waking? Is she trying to start the apocalypse?”
“If our father is to awaken now, we will all die. With one sister short, we have not hope of stopping him. It took everything we had last time just to put him to sleep. We don’t have that kind of power anymore,” Mia said, her hands clenched in fists, “That kind of power doesn’t exist in this world. Not anymore.”
“But that is the reason that I called you here tonight. Such a power does exist in this world,” Damien interrupted her. She looked at him, a frown on her brown.
“What are you talking about?” William demanded to know.
“I found out something I wasn’t supposed to know. It was something Emily only told my father but that I happened to overhear. The Heartstone is a very powerful artifact, not just because it can track any soul in the world, but it can also control any soul in the world.”
“What does that mean?” Mia asked, her voice shake as she gripped the arms of the cold golden chair she sat on.
“Emily said that the Heartstone can control a man’s heart and body. If the stone were to drink of a person’s blood, the holder of the stone could control that person completely, body and soul. She told my father she planned to wake your father and let the stone drink of his blood. He would then be completely in her control and then she would finally take her rightful place as ruler of this world.”
Next: Chapter Two