Chapter Ten

Mia wasn’t sure how long she been asleep for when she was awoken by the whole house shaking. She could hear the sound of things crashing to the floor all over the house. She clutched tightly to Nick as the house let out a loud groan.

“The wards!” Nick swore as he dove out of bed, grabbing his gun from the bedside table and dashing out of the room. Mia quickly followed. She easily darted around the smashed crockery and shattered glass.

Nick ran ahead of her, his back nothing more than a shadow. Mia could hear the sound of footstep converging from all over the house as they all meet in the foyer. Nathaniel wore a loose shirt and flannel plants while Ronan was dressed in nothing more than a pair of boxers. Alexander wore an extra set of Nick’s sweats. All of them looked just as surprised and worried as Mia felt.

“What the hell is going on?” Ronan demanded to know as he looked around, still a little blurry eyes.

“Someone is attacking the wards around the house,” Nathaniel informed him.

“I thought your wards were unbreakable?” Ronan accused as he stared at Mia.

“They are. Only someone more powerful than I am could possible break the wards,” Mia informed him.

Alexander paled as he turned towards the front door just as the house let out a loud painful groan and the floor beneath their feet began to shake.

“She sent them,” Alexander moaned.

“Sent who?” Nick demanded to know.

“Her hounds, her creations,” Alexander said as he wrapped his arms around his chest. His whole body shivering.

“What the hell does that mean?” Ronan snapped as hurried to the wall of coats hanging on the front wall. He pulled out a gun similar to Nick’s from an inside pocket.

“Really Ronan?” Mia looked in disbelief as he checked the chamber to make sure it was loaded. “You left your gun in your coat?”

“It was the safest place I could think of. It’s not like you have children running around the house that we have to worry about. Everyone here knows to be careful with firearms, besides, the safety was on.”

“If I ever have children, you are not allowed to babysit,” Mia snapped just as the house began to shake again.

“What are the Hounds?” Nick asked as he grabbed his winter coat from the rack and began to slide it on.

“They are my mother’s newest creations. They are her elite soldiers. She needed an army that could hunt down and subdue her father,” Alexander said.

“What does that mean?” Nick frowned as he turned to look straight at Alexander.

“They’re all Omegas,” Mia said, looking at Alexander for confirmation.

He nodded, “They are Omegas, are they are more. These are the creatures she created with the souls of my children.”

“What do you mean they are more?” Ronan asked warily.

“By sacrificing a soul to create them, she made them different. They are strong, faster, and more powerful than an pseudo Omega. They are also blood thirsty creatures who once given an order will not stop until they are complete,” Alexander informed them.

“And she wasn’t afraid they would turn against her?” Ronan asked in disbelief.

“Not when she has the Heartstone. She turned them into mindless zombie that follow her orders alone,” Alexander said shaking her head.

“Well, we’re screwed then,” Ronan said a little hysterically.

“How many are out there?” Nathaniel asked Nick who was peering out the side window.

“I can see two, maybe three,” Nick said.

“She usually sends them out in a pack of five,” Alexander said simply as he moved to sit on the the bottom step for the main stairwell leading up towards the second floor.

“Five?” This time Mia could definitely hear the hysteria in Ronan’s voice.

Mia stood in the middle of the foyer. Alexander sat dejectedly on the stairwell, watching the front door behind her.  Nathaniel and Ronan were at Nick’s side staring out the front window. No one was watching her and that was what she needed.

While the men were occupied, Mia darted over Alexander, kneeling for him as she hissed, “What are you willing to sacrifice to save yourself?”

His eyes grew large as he stared at her.

“I can’t do this on my own. I need more power. So I’ll ask you again, what are you willing to sacrifice?”

Pulling back the sleeve of the too large sweatshirt, he held his arm out to Mia, “Take what you need. If it means my life, I will gladly give it.”

“I don’t need your life,” Mia growled softly, “I’m not my sister, I just need your power.”

“Take it. Take it all,” He nodded, gesturing to his arm.

“Good,” Mia said, a wicked smile coming to her lips as she grabbed a shard from a nearby shattered vase and quickly drew it across Alexander’s arm. He let out a his as blood began to pour from the open wound.

Mia knew exactly what she was doing, and by the time Nick had noticed the scent of the blood she had already taken what she needed. Alexander started swaying on the on the step as Mia quickly ran her finger over the wound to seal it.

Mia held herself in check, keeping her powers tightly under control as she came to her feet. The ball of blood in front of her.

“Mia, what the hell?” Nick snarled as he turned and saw her.

“Stay inside!” She ordered as she turned to the door, quickly striding forward the pulled the heavy wooden doors open. She could hear Nick coming after her but she slammed the door shut behind her, using a little bit of the blood to seal the house wards shut. Now no one could enter and no one could leave unless she allowed it. The only way anyone could do either, was over her dead body.

She could hear Nick pounding on the door and shouting for her, but she ignored him. She turned her attention to the five men who suddenly melted out of the shadows and stood waiting for her in the middle of the drive.

Mia tried to hold back that shivers that wanted to run down her body as a cold breeze wound past her. There was still snow on the ground and it was a good thirty degrees, yet here she stood in nothing more than a night shirt. She was really wishing she had stopped to grab a pair of pants and maybe some boots, because her feet were freezing. She knew she could have used some of her magic to warm herself but she knew she was going to need it all in a minute so she couldn’t waste even a trickle.

Forcing herself to say as still as possible she watching the shadow draw closer. It was dark night, the only light came from a sliver of the moon. But Mia could see them all well enough. A couple of them she did recognize as her own Clan. But the three others were new to her. If they were Dragos, she had never seen them before. They might have been Rosengards or men her sister has just picked off the street. It really didn’t matter but knowing what kind of magic users they were would have helped. But then again, in a little bit, none of it would matter.

“We are here for Alexander Dragos,” The one that seemed to be their leader proclaimed. He was a large man, well over six feet with broad shoulders and thick legs. He was a Dragos, Mia couldn’t remember his name at their moment but she had seen around Theodora often. Probably had been one of her personal guards which would only make sense that he would be one of the first her sister turned into one of her super soldiers.

“We have no problem with you at the moment, but if you keep him from us, we will tear apart this house to get to him,” The man continued.

“I have one question first,” Mia said as she moved to stand at the end of the balcony, the ball of blood floating at behind her. From where they stood, they couldn’t see the blood, but she could tell from their twitchiness and constant shifting, that they could smell it and it was driving them nuts.

Alexander may not be one of the most powerful blood magic users in the Dragos clan, but he was a direct descendant of the originator which meant there was a great deal of power in his blood. They could sense it and they craved it.

“Then you will hand over Alexander,” The leader stated.

“We shall see,” Mia said, “Answer my questions first.”

“What is it you wish to know?” The man asked, a frown on his face.

“Why are you doing this? Is it because my sister ordered you to or because truly believe this is the right thing to do?” Mia asked, studying the man’s face closely, she didn’t miss the moment of confusion as he processed her words.

“They are one and the same,” The man said plainly, “What our master wants is what is right. I have answered your question, now hand over Alexander Dragos.”

“No,” Mia said simply as she lifted up the pottery shard she had been clutching tightly in her frozen fingers.

“You said you would have him over if we answered your question,” The man argued as he took a step forward until only to stumble back as he hit the ward.

“No, I said we shall see. And I have decided not to hand him over,” Mia said with a shrug a she lifted her other hand.

“We will not leave until we have him in our custody. If that means we have to tear apart this house and kill everyone in it, we will,” He threatened.

Mia just gave him a fake smile and nodded, “I’m sure you will try.”

“Break through the ward,” he ordered the men with him. Mia watched as they began their assault on her ward once more. She felt the wooden floor vibrating beneath her feet with each blast and power they at the ward, but it held and it was obviously frustrating them.

“Did my sister tell you what you would have to face when she sent you here?” Mia asked she lightly pressed the sharp edge of the pottery against her palm.

“She told us what you were but you are no threat to us,” The man snorted. Mia only smiled at him as she pressed the shard down in to her flesh. The was a sharp pain as blood began to well up from the cut.

The men stopped what they were doing as the scent of her blood hit them. Their eyes glowed an eerie red as they sniffed the air. Mia brought the ball of her father’s blood forward, until it hovered just below her bleed palm. They all watched silently as her blood ran slowly down her palm. Mia tilted her hand ever so slightly and a drop of blood fell from her hand and hit the orb of blood. There was one second when nothing happened, as all eyes were trained on the orb. But then the drop of blood sunk in to the orb and was absorb.

Everything seemed to pause for one long moment. Even the wind seemed to vanish as the world held its breath. Then just as quickly the world around them exploded in to white light. The men were thrown off their feet and flew backwards a good fifty feet before crashing in to the trees surrounding the drive.

Where the world has been blanketed in night just a moment before, it was now showered in pure white light, all emanating from a single source, Mia herself.

Embracing the power of their combined blood, Mia let the magic wash over her. She didn’t even bother to fight the siren song of the blood this time. Instead she let it consume her. She let the magic take her over and then she unleashed it.

The men didn’t even know what hit them. She bounded from front the porch and easily landed before one of the men, a blood blade in hand. He didn’t even see her before she separated his head from his body. The second man had enough of a warning to draw his weapon, his got in one swipe before he followed his comrade.

Mia felt blood drip down her cheek. The spilled blood poured more magic in to her. Mia felt her body begin to tingle. Her fingers, her toes, her very skin. The air around her began to spark and sizzle as the magic ramped up.

The third man had time to get to his feet, blood blade drawn. He had some skill as he ran towards her, his weapon aimed for her chest. She held her ground and a moment before his blade could pierce her chest, she brought her own blade up. The moment her blade touched his, the magic in his weapon shattered and turned to ash. He could only stare down at his hands in surprise. Mia’s blade made quick work of him. She stepped over his corpse and headed towards the next man.

“What the hell are you?” The man asked in awe as he watched her come for him. She could understand his awe. He was told he was the supreme weapon. He was faster, stronger and smarter than anyone else. Yet here she was and she was even faster then him and stronger then anything he had ever seen before. The difference was easy, he was a puppet, she was a god. Emily had taken their free will away from them and made them nothing more than walking talking weapons. Even under the spell of the blood lust, Mia was still her own person. She still had free will. She wasn’t a mindless tool. And that was what made the difference. These men could only do what Emily told them to do, while Mia could do anything she wished.

For a moment, Mia’s mind was clear enough to feel sorry for these men who didn’t even contemplate running away. Emily had ordered them to retrieve Alexander and that is what they would do until the moment they died.

The pity Mia felt was gone in the next second as she advance on the fourth man. He lifted his weapon, a broad axe made of blood. He saw how ineffective it was against her, but it didn’t stop him. He charged at her, the axe held high above his head. In the time it took him to swing the axe down, Mia had darted forward and slide her blade in to his chest and straight through his heart.

The blade shattered to ash in his hand and he fell forward in to the snow dead. That just left their leader and Mia. This man was smarter then his comrade or he wasn’t a blood letter. He had seen how the weapons had no affect on her. Instead he a thin black iron blade.

It was a beautiful piece of work and probably heavy as well. The blade was thin and delicate and the hilt a work of art. Mia had to admire the metal work swirls and intricate detail work put in to the blade. Supposedly, iron was supposed to be the only real weapon you could use against blood magic users. But the medal was so heavy that the smiths had to  get creative with their forging. They needed the weapon to be light enough to wield, yet sturdy enough not to shatter. Steel would have made a better blade, but it would have no affect against their kind.

An iron blade wasn’t as good as a blood blade, but it was best weapon you could get if you weren’t a blood letter.

The man had long enough to watch as Mia cut down his men to get a read on her. He was a little smarter then the others and waited for her to come to him. He made no move to attack, he just watched her every move.

Mia smiled at him. Finally a challenge. She had expected more from these men, but what should she have expected.They were still new at this while she had her entire life to get use to her powers. She had hundreds of years on them.

As she looked the man over, she hoped that this one at least lasted more then a few seconds. The others hadn’t. And it was such a long time since she had been able to release her true powers. It wouldn’t be such a waste if it were for nothing at all.

Mia slowly began to circle the man. He watched her, his body turning with her as she walked around him, her blade held lightly in her hand which he clutched the hilt of his own. One moment she was circling for him, the next she was darting forward, her blade held out before her. Her grin grew as he quickly knocked her blade to the side. He was better then his team had been.

She decide this was going to be fun. She attacked then, a flurry of blows from all angles, each time she swung her blade, his was there to block it. Their blades clashed, showering the ground around them in sparks.

Mia danced forward, and the man danced back. His feet perfectly placed, he didn’t slip or slid, even in the new fallen snow. He had some skill and she liked it. The fighting turned into an intricate dance. Forward, back, right then left. Her arm lifted high, darted low, swung to the side, and dropped down.

Every move she made he mirrored. He kept her blade from hitting any vital spots but blood began to seep from the thin cuts Mia blade had dealt. He began to slow while she only got faster. The more blood he lost, the more clumsy he got, while it was the opposite for Mia. The few superficial wounds she had received only spurred her on, powering her magic, making her faster and stronger.

“What are you?” He demanded through gritted teeth and Mia’s blade yet against slipped past his guard and sliced across him palm.

“You should have asked Emily that when she sent you,” Mia crooned, “She never intended for you to actually complete your mission. Alexander means nothing to her. You were just a test. She wanted to see if you would be strong enough to defeat me. And now we know, you aren’t.”

With that Mia dropped all that last barrier she had placed to hold back her power. The clearing exploded as a wave of power shot outwards. The man was thrown backwards and the wave of power slammed through him. He crashed in the large pine tree behind him. Blood seeped from the multiple shallow wounds all over his body, staining the snow beneath him red. Blood dripped down from the corner of his mouth and down his chin. His eyes were glassy as he struggled to move but realized he couldn’t. He blinked in confusion and blood began to pour from his mouth, dripping down his chin to his chest.

Mia walked over to him, kneeling so that her mouth was beside his ear. “Your death is a blessing. You are unnatural. Created from the soul of another. This is the price you pay for powers you should never have had.”

The man’s blank eyes turned in the direction of her voice. He mouth opened, but no words came out. His body shook as he choked on his own blood. Mia stared down at him dispassionately. Part of her wanted to let him die slowly, it was what he deserved for threatening those she loved. But a little voice in her head told her to put him out of his misery. He was just a tool after all. Emily was the one who should suffer. Emily was the one behind this all.

Getting to her feet, Mia lifted her blade and shoved it through the man’s chest. There was one last gurgle as blood spurted from his mouth and the light left his eyes, then he was still.

Mia turned her back on the man and headed back towards the house. Already the magic was beginning to wear off and night was returning. By the time she reached the stairs, her body had begun to shake with withdrawal. She could barely lift one foot and then the other. She knew should wouldn’t last much longer. It was always this way after used so much magic. Her body really wasn’t designed to handle that much magic.

As she stumbled her way towards the door, she could once again her Nick pounding on it. Her legs were so heavy and her eyes wanted to close but she knew she couldn’t give in just yet. She had locked the wards to keep them safe. But if she didn’t unlock them, they would be stuck inside until she either released them or died.

Dying might be coming soon enough, she thought as she forced one leg forward and then the other. The cold wind battered against her, making each step that much hard. Her feet hurt so much from the cold yet she couldn’t stop. She could give in the darkness that called to her even now.

“Nick,” she whispered through chapped lips, she needed to get to Nick. She needed to focus. She couldn’t give in just yet. Nick, she needed to get to Nick. She stumbled forward, her eyes so heavy, she could no longer keep them open. She pushed forward blindly. She needed to keep moving. So close, she knew she was almost there when she stumbled and her body went crashing to the cold wooden floor.

She forced her eyes open then, she groaned when she saw the door was so close. Just a few more inches away. She lifted her blood covered hand and reached out. Her teeth chattered as she watched her numb fingers reaching out. She couldn’t tell if she touched the door or not, her fingers had gone numb. Her eyes lids began to close again as her body finally gave out.

“Nick,” his name left her lips as nothing more than a breath as she slipped in to the welcoming darkness.

“Her body’s failing,” a voice drifted in to the darkness where Mia huddled. She knew she should recognize the voice, but it was so distant and her mind was so foggy that the words didn’t make sense.

“Her heart’s slowing. Quick, she needs blood,” another voice said. No, Mia thought as the words slowly began to make sense to her. No more blood, she wanted to tell them. Blood wouldn’t save her now. It would just make things worse. The body would turn it in to fuel for her magic. It would do no good.

She wanted to tell them, wanted to say something, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t feel her body. She couldn’t feel anything. No fear, no pain, nothing, in the darkness there was nothing.

“Mia! Open you eyes!” A voice ordered. A part of Mia of wanted to respond, a part of her recognized that voice. But that part of her wouldn’t be around for much longer. Mia could feel herself drifting away. Their voices were getting softer and softer.

“Mia, baby, please open your eyes,” the words drifted over her. They made a part of her hurt, but that part was getting more and more distant. That part of her was fading away. Soon there would be nothing left. And when that part vanished, she would be free.

She could feel the tethers holding her there unraveling. Each thread snapping as she drifted further and further away. She felt so light as each thread fell away, so light and free. No human emotion held her back, no fear, no sadness, no pain. They all fell away and all there was, was this wide open space.

Yes, Mia, it’s time to come home, a new voice whispered through the darkness. Where the other voices felt familiar to her, this one she knew. She had heard it a thousand times before. It has always been there, always waiting for this to happen.

Let go of the humanity that chains you down, let go the human heart that has only brought you sadness, embrace the darkness and finally be free, the voice said. You were always meant to be here with me. Human emotions are so distracting. They pull us away from the important things. They keep us from the truth of our reality. This world was meant to be ours, and now it’s time to take it.

One by one, the tethers fell away until only one remained. But this one was different from the others. This one felt different. It was hot, almost like fire, but it burned white.  The tether pulled at her, fighting her, she tried to break free but it would not let her go. She tried to touch it, try to pull it free, but it burned her and she cried out. Her scream echoing throughout the darkness.

“Come back to me, Mia. Come on, open your eyes,” The same voice pleaded, “You can’t leave me now.”

It hurt, it hurt so much. The pain radiated from her very center where the tether was anchored. She tried to pull free from it, tried to break it, but it wouldn’t budge. The pain was unending. She screamed and screamed and screamed.

“Oh god, she stopped breathing,” another voice filled the darkness around her.

“No! I will not lose her. We haven’t found her body yet, if she does, she’s gone forever. Mia! Goddamn it fight.”

She was, she was fighting, but she couldn’t break free. The cord was wrapped so tightly around her she could escape. Freedom beckoned her, an escape from this pain, this human life, isn’t that what she wanted. To be free like she was always meant to be.

Yes, come to me, come home, the voice beckoned. And she did try, she tried to hard to get away. It hurt so much that the pain nearly consumed her.

“Step back.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to bring her back.”

“You can’t zap her with bolt of lightning. You’ll kill her for sure.”

“She’s an electric magic user, she’ll be fine.”

She listened to the voice arguing. Their words made no sense to her. Nothing made sense to her. Everything felt wrong. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.

“Nick, stop and think about this for a second. If you’re wrong, you’ll risk losing her for good. There has to be another way.”

Nick?

“If I don’t do anything, I will lose her for sure. Now get the hell out of my way.”

“Think about this.”

Nick?

“There is nothing to think about, now get out of my way before I electrocute you.”

“This is insane. What if you kill her? What are you going to do then? She’ll be completely lost to you, and it will be all your fault.”

She knew that name, but how? Why was it so familiar? What did it mean to her?

“She’s dying!”

“She’s already dead.”

“William? What are you doing here?”

It was becoming harder and harder for her to put her thoughts together. She couldn’t escape, she couldn’t get free, yet the tether that still connected her was beginning to fade. 

“Did you think I wouldn’t sense that much power being released? I’d be surprised if anyone on this continent didn’t feel that.”

“Why are you here?”

“Because I am the only one that can help you now. I knew it would only be a matter of time before she did something like this. She has no sense of self-preservation. She will run head first in to danger is she believes she is doing the right thing. She was so much better before she regained her memories. At least she used to run from danger rather than to it.”

“What can you do that we can’t?”

“I can turned her in to an Omega.”

Omega. The word drifted thru the darkness to her. It reverberated through her. Omega. What was it? What did it mean? She knew that the word should me something to it. She knew that it was something very important. Something she had known before. But what?

Why was it so hard to think?

“I always thought you were crazy, but now I know its a fact. She’s already an Omega. You can’t turn her in to what she already is.”

“Yes, Mia Dragos is an Omega, but Amelia Dragos is not. She is the by product of two powerful blood magic users mating. The body that was created for her soul, was never intended to wield the power of an Omega. It is as Iliya said, it is killing her. The only way to save her now is to turn her completely in to an Omega. The same way that you were turned and the same way that Aiden was turned. It won’t fix things permanently, but it will give us more time.”

“I don’t care what you do. I don’t care how you do it, just save her! It’s already been two minutes since she stopped breathing. If we wait any longer, it won’t matter if you do bring her back, her brain will have been deprived of oxygen for too long. So do whatever you need to do.”

“Nick, be serious. You don’t know what he is going to do. This could make things worse.”

“Ronan, shut the hell up!”

“Ronan, why don’t you take Alexander back to his room. He lost a lot of blood and he needs to rest.”

“Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Good, now that it’s decided, I need the two of you to hold her down. This won’t be pretty and she’ll probably scream bloody murder as her body transitions. But just remember, that this is the only way to save her.”

“Just do it.”

She felt the peace returning. The pain, the worry, the fear, it was all gone. The white tether that had been holding her back had nearly faded. Now it was only a matter of time. She could hear the voice calling out to her again, begging her to come home. Soon, she wanted to say, soon.

Nick, Omega, the words no longer meant anything to her. They were part of the different life. But that life was gone. Now, it was time to become what she was always meant to be. To be the person she have never realized she was supposed to be. Now it was time to go home.

She felt the last of tendrils of the white tether fading, she felt the darkness encompassing her, embracing her. Soon. Soon. She was almost there.

And then it came. A wave of pain for fierce that everything else disappeared. It felt like ice and fire were running through her veins at the same time. It burned so badly. A high pitched wail filled the darkness and a scream erupted from her part of her.

The tether that had nearly faded a second ago was back, and stronger than before. It wrapped around her, pulling her down. She tried to fight it, tried to break free but she couldn’t. The fire burning through her body made fighting impossible. Slowly, one by one, other tethers reached out and wrapped around her yanking her back down. Pulling her in the direction of the intense pain.

No, no, no, no, no. Her brain screamed. No, stop it. Make it stop. It hurts. Please make it stop. Please.

The screams kept coming and coming. The darkness, the sweet, sweet darkness was fading away. Everything she had fought to escape was coming back at her tenfold. Pain, so much pain. It hurt so, so much. Why wouldn’t it stop? Why? Why?!

What we as happening to her? What was this? Was it ever going to end?

“Hold on, don’t let go!”

“What’s happening to her? Why does it sound like she’s dying?”

“Because she is. In order to make the body better and stronger, you must first burn away the old one.”

“How much longer will it last?”

“Not much longer. She’s actually doing really well. Most people don’t even get this far. Most of them would have failed the transition by now. The black blood has nearly run through her entire system. Just a little bit more and it will be done.”

“You didn’t say there was a chance that she wouldn’t survive this?”

“Would it have made a difference to you? She was already dying. This is the only option we had. I figured why bother sharing the risk when you would have done it anyway. Less for you to worry about.”

“One of these days, I will kill you.”

“You can try, others have, and all have failed.”

The burning sensation had reached it’s peak. She felt like she had been burned alive. She could no longer scream, there was no longer any air in her lungs. All that was there was fire. She could see it right there, an inferno burning bright right in the middle of her chest.

She wondered if this was hell? She had been told she couldn’t die, but maybe they were wrong. Because this place had to be hell. The unending pain, the inferno of flames, this could be no other place but hell.

When she was at the point where she could take no more, the pain suddenly began to lessen. The fire slowly burning out. The pain was still there, but the fire, the burning sensation was fading. She could breath and the fire no longer stole her air. They came out in ragged gasps that squeezed her chest like a vise. But there was air, cold air that had a bite of pine to it.

Now with the fire gone, she was suddenly so cold. Her body began to shiver and her teeth chatter. She tried to curl up, tried to get warm, but something was holding her hand and legs down. She groaned, unable to even scream anymore as her throat was raw and dry.

“Mia? Mia, baby?”

Mia could hear him clearly now. She tried to open her eyes, but it felt like they were glued shut. She wanted to pry them open but she didn’t have the energy. All she was able to do was softly moan.

“Mia?”

“She won’t be able to answer you for a while. Right now, she needs her rest. Usually the process works best on children because they are so resilient which is why Emily probably changed you as a child. The older you get, the harder it is on your body. But like I said earlier, she is doing much better than I had expected.”

“Take her to your room Nickolas and let her rest,” Mia felt her hands and feet being released before a pair of arms slide under her and lifted her up. She immediately curled in to the warmth of the body that held her.  She was so cold.

“Why is she shaking?” Nick’s voice rumbled against her ear.

“She’s not shaking, she’s shivering. Her body is probably reacting to the sudden lack of heat from her transformation,” William informed them, “If it gets worst, put her in a tub of hot water or get her in to bed with an electric blanket.”

“Put her to bed, I’m sure being near the hearth will help her recover faster,” Nathaniel urged.

“Make sure he doesn’t leave. If anything happens to her, I want to make sure he’s near,” Nick told his grandfather.

“I’m sure William doesn’t mind remaining as our guest until Mia is back on her feet,” Nathaniel assured Nick.

“How little you trust me, I would be wounded if I cared. But just to assure you that everything will be all right, I will remain until Mia awakens,” William replied.

“Good,” Mia heard the words but she was no longer sure who was speaking. Her body was so tired and still so sore. It felt like she hadn’t slept in a year. And she was so nice and warm now. She burrowed tighter in the arms that held her, pressing every available inch against the body that held her.

Mia felt the arms around her tighten. She curled tighter in to them and let them carry her away. She was never sure if they actually made it to her bedroom. She fell asleep long before then. Her last thought before letting go was that she has been wrong. She has been so wrong. If she did die, there would be nothing of her left behind. She wouldn’t recognize Nick at all. She didn’t even think she would want to. For someone who was immortal, she suddenly feared death more than ever.

Mia woke to the sound of giggling.

“Mama! Mama! Look!” A child’s squeal filled the air followed by the yipping of a dog. “Down Spot, down!”

“Anna, I told you to leave the dog outside. Look at what he did. There’s mud everywhere. Now take him outside and get him cleaned up.”

“Spot, get back here!” The little girl wailed and something wet and cold dashed past Mia, brushing against her arm.

“Mia! Mia! Get up and help your sister catch the damn dog before he gets mud over everything,” A familiar voice ordered.

Mia forced her eyes open to find a petite fair haired woman standing above her. Her long gold blond hair pulled up at top of her head in a messy bun. Her jade green eyes flashing as she brushed mud from her skirts.

“Anna!” A scream came from the back of house.

“I swear, your father should never had brought that thing home,” the woman said shaking her head as she turned around and headed back in to the kitchen, “Mia get up and help your sister with that mongrel.”

“It’s not a mongrel,” Mia replied automatically as she pulled herself up. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and she looked around the sunlit room. The book that has been resting on her lap must have fallen to the floor while she slept. She bend over and pick up the thin tome. The leather cover was worn and cracking and the pages yellowed. As old as it was, it was one of her most treasured possessions.

A traveler had given the book to her as a child. He had been lost in a snow storm and she had found him while out gathering animals from their family traps. She had taken shelter in a cave when the storm had gotten bad. She had felt something in her chest, something was wrong. She pulled her fur cloak tight over herself and stumbled out in the storm. She found the man lying in the snow not a hundred feet away from the cave opening.

He was unconscious, she grabbed the end of his cloak and pulled him back in to the cave. It was long and hard but she couldn’t leave him out there. She could only drag him so far in to the cave, it was a lot hard to drag him on rocks and gravel then it was on fresh snow.

She knew she wasn’t supposed to use her magic around strangers but she knew if she didn’t warm him up he would die. So she used a little bit, just a small amount to create a fire.

She lay her fur cloak over the unconscious man and curled up beside the fire. She yawned, drowsy now. She was still learning to use magic and it always made her tired. She didn’t worry the fire would go out. She had used just enough magic to keep it roaring for hours. But she worried for the man. She tried to stay up to make sure he was okay, but she yawned again. Her eye lids were so heavy and she soon feel asleep.

When she woke up, her cloak was back around her shoulders and the man was now up, sitting across the fire from her, watching her through the flames. He didn’t appeared scared although he sat in front of a fire that burned with no fuel. Instead he just watched her, his golden eyes watching her with curiosity rather than fear.

“Are you the one that saved me?” He asked. Mia nodded, pulling the cloak tighter around her shoulders. “Thank you. It must have been hard for you to do it on your own.”

“You would have died if I left you out there,” She said simply.

“That’s not enough of a reason for some of the people where I come from,” He admitted sadly.

“My father taught me life is precious and it should never be wasted. If you can do something to help someone, you should.”

“Then you have a very good father,” The man told her with a kind smile. When he smiled he didn’t look so old. In fact, he looked to maybe a little bit older then her oldest sister Thea. He was also very handsome. She had not met many men, her father allowed so few in to the keep and he rarely took them down to the village, but Mia knew that this man was good looking. But all the lines on his face made him look old.

“Why are you out wandering the woods alone? Isn’t your family worried about you?” He asked.

“I was checking the traps when the storm started. My father taught us well what to do during a storm so he doesn’t worry,” She told him, gesturing to the pile of dead rabbits strung up by the cave opening.

“Aren’t you a little young to be out in the woods on your own?” He asked.

“I’m not a baby. I’m eight years old. I’ve been helping my father check the traps since I was four. I’m the only one brave enough to go with him. My other sisters won’t touch the dead animals.”

“Then you are very brave indeed,” He chuckled.

“Of course I am. I’m my father’s heir mama says. I have to brave for what will come.”

“And what is coming?” He asked as he scooted closer to the flames, holding his hands out in front of him.

“I don’t know. Mama just says I have to brave,” She shrugged.

“She is very right. The world can be a very scary place.”

Mia watched him closely. He seemed to sad to her. It was the same look father got on his face sometimes when he thought no one was looking. But Mia had seen it. She has asked Thea about it once but she’s sister had told her there father was a very powerful man and he had a lot of responsibilities. Sometimes his responsibilities made him sad.

Mia asked her then if she would sad like their father when she grew up. Thea had stopped what she was doing at looked at her younger sister. She gave her a warm smile and picked her up, giving her a tight hug and told her no, she wouldn’t be sad like that. She had her sisters and they would make sure she was never sad or alone.

As Mia looked at the man in front of her, she wondered if he had many responsibilities too. The man noticed she was watching her and gave her a smile much like Thea did. For some reason it made her feel better. It made her chest feel warm and she smiled back at him.

“Why were you out in the snow storm? Did you get lost?” She asked.

“I went to look for firewood for our campsite but it started to storm and I couldn’t find my way back,” The man admitted with a chuckle, “I didn’t realize I had wandered off so far.”

“Won’t your family be worried about you?” She asked as she glanced out the cave opening to see the storm still raging, it was completely white outside.

“Probably not, but I’m not traveling with my family. I’m traveling with my business partners. We’re headed to a place called Wintervale. We were told there was a Keep on the top of the mountains above Wintervale where any man’s dream could be attained for a price.”

Mia frowned at his words. This man was looking for her father. He was like all the other people who came to see her father, Mia thought sadly. He would ask for something and he would get upset when he learned what the price would be. Most people did. But they still paid the price anyway.

Some people asked for good things, like medicine to heal an ailing child or parent, others asked for a good crop to feed their family through the winter. But other people asked for things like gold or power. Her father could grant these things, but the people always paid dearly. They didn’t realize just how much they would lose until it was taken from them and then they got angry and say awful things to her father. But he didn’t do anything wrong. He just gave them what they wanted. They shouldn’t have asked for those things in the first place if they weren’t willing to pay the price.

Mia feared this man would ask for too much and he would hate her father and in turn hate her too. She wanted to  ask him what he would ask for but she had been taught by her parents to never do so. It was not her place to ask, so she sat there and kept her lips sealed although she very much wanted to do the opposite.

The man across from her noticed how upset his words made her. He looked down at the wood less fire and it didn’t take him long to understand why. This little girl had magic, just like the man he was seeking. She had magic too. If it hadn’t been anyone else but him to stumble upon her, she would have been in great danger. They would have seen her for the treasure she was, and instead of respecting her and protecting her, they would have stolen her and caged her.

He knew the men he travelled with were not good people, but it was safer to travel in big groups and he needed to see the man he had heard could grant wishes. He needed his help. He was desperate. He had no other choice or he wouldn’t be here.

So although he knew it would upset the girl, he had to ask, “Do you know where the keep is?”

She looked up at him with her big gray eyes and nodded slowly before turning back to the fire.

“And you know the man who can grant any wish for a price?” He asked her excitedly.

She nodded again, “He is my father.”

The man sat back in awe. He knew this little girl had to be related to him someway, but his daughter. For sure his companions would have stolen her away if they realized who she was. She had told him she was her father’s heir. Did that mean she had the power to grant wishes as well? He stared at her hungrily, could she grant his wish for him?

She seemed to here his unspoken questions as she seemed to curl in deeper to herself, shrinking away from his gaze as she curled in to a tight little ball. Her gray eyes glancing up at him fearfully before dipping back down the fire. He watched as the flames began to flicker erratically, sending sparks off in every direction.

He realized then that he was scaring her. She was afraid of him and he instantly felt bad. It was just that he had come so far and he was running out of time. He had hoped that maybe, just maybe she could help him.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, “I didn’t mean to scare you although I know I did. It’s just that I have come from very far away and I have a very important wish I wanted to ask your father for.”

“It’s not for gold or power is it?” She asked warily, still keeping her body curled as tightly as possible.

“No,” He said, surprised she had even thought about it. But then as he thought about it for a little longer he realized that there were probably a lot of people out there who had done so.

“Good,” She said with a nod, “Things do not end well for people who ask for such things.”

“No, I have come to ask for help for my sister, “He told her.

Mia knew she shouldn’t say anything. That she should keep her mouth shut. Her mother would be very upset if she learned she had even said as much as she had so far. But something in Mia couldn’t keep the words from slipping from her mouth. She had no control of them, they just spilled from her lips before she had a chance to stop them.

“What is it that you wish for?” Her voice sounded hollow and empty, the words stiff and formal.

“My sister’s daughter is sick. She was born in the spring and she seemed to be doing so well, but when winter came she got very sick. My sister and her husband were so happy when she was born because they have already lost three babies. She is the only child that has lived this long. It will kill my sister to lose another child. So I have come to ask for medicine to cure the baby.”

Mia listened to his story and she wanted to cry. He just wanted to help his sister’s baby. He had come with only good intention in mind, but even good intentioned wishes needed to be paid for.

“What price are you willing to pay for a cure?” The words were not her own, yet they were spoken from her mouth. She couldn’t stop them, she couldn’t pull them back. Whatever they had started would not stop until it was done.

“I have nothing but this,” He said as he pulled a thin book from inside his coat. “I have no money left, I have spent every thing I own on promised cures for my sister’s child, but not have come through. I am desperate for a cure, but this is all I have. This is my most treasured possession. It was the last thing my father gave me before he set out to sea and never came back. This is all I have left of him, the rest was sold to pay our debts. This is all I have to over.”

The unseen meter in Mia judged it as being enough. This book meant everything to him, it was obvious from the worn cover and yellowed pages. He took it everywhere with him. It truly was he most precious possession. And Mia was about to take it away from him.

“You payment has been deemed worthy,” Mia said automatically. The book immediately vanished from his hands. He gasped and jumped to his feet, looking around him in surprise before stopping when he noticed the book was now one Mia’s hands.

She brought the book to her chest, clutching it tightly to her before turning her eyes back to him.

“Give me your water flask.” She ordered. To surprised by what happened to truly argue, he wrapped the leather straps holding his flask to his belt. Like the book had, the flask disappeared from his hands.

Mia held the leather pouch in her hands and closed her eyes. She didn’t know what she was doing but it felt right. Opening her eyes, she carefully set the book down on the floor beside her and opened the spout of the pouch. Grabbing the little knife strapped to her leg, she nicked the tip of her fingers. Bright red blood gathered at the tip of her finger. She turned her finger over and let a single drop fall in to the filled water pouch. There was a soft flash of light and Mia knew it was done. She sealed the pouch back up and stuck her finger in her mouth.

When the bleeding stopped she turned back to the man, “Have your niece drink this and she will get better. But she must drink it all, so you must not spill a drop and you not let anyone else drink from it. It will cure you niece but it will be poison to anyone else.”

The man just stared at her, his mouth hanging opening, his golden eyes large. She stood up and walked over to him. She placed the pouch on the cave floor beside him  and walked back to grab the book. She stood up and held the book tightly to her chest. She was not surprised to see the figure of her father standing in the cave entrance. He did not smile, but nor was he angry. He just looked sad.

“Come along Mia, it’s time to go home,” He said startling the man who quickly jumped to his feet, grabbing the water pouch and clutching it tightly to his chest.

“Yes, father,” Mia bowed her head as she walked over to the large man. He lifted the dead rabbits from the cave wall and waited for his daughter. He turned to look at the man just once.

“Treasure what you were given today and remember it always. I did not wish this gift on my daughter but she obviously believes you are worthy. Do not betray that trust,” Her father said before he grabbed Mia’s hand and walked out in to the already softening storm.

She looked back once to see the man standing at the cave entrance watching her leave, the precious medicine clutched tightly to his chest. She waved to him, he lifted a hand to wave back.

“I will never forget what you have done,” He called out to her, “I owe you more than my thanks. I owe you my life.”

Something seemed to click in Mia, as if a something had been set in place by his words. She wanted to look at him longer, memorize his face, but her father yanked hard on her arm pulling her away before she could say anything. They quickly disappeared in to the storm.

Where the book had once been that man’s most prized possession it was now Mia’s. Every time she looked at it, every time she held it, she remembered him and it made her feel not so sad. She clutched the book to her chest stood up, stretching her cramped legs.

She knew better than to fall asleep in the window seat, but it had been since a nice day and the warmth of the sun had just lulled her to sleep. She had been reading one moment and asleep the next.

“Spot! Spot, come back here,” Anna cried as the mud-covered dog came running through the den. Streaking past Mia in a brown blur before running in to the kitchen. Her mother started hollering as the dog ran circles around her, yipping excitedly.

“Anna!”

Mia let out a sigh as she turned towards the kitchen to save her sister’s dog. She had taken one step when she suddenly froze. Something suddenly felt wrong. She frowned, raising a hand to her chest and she tried to figure out what was wrong.

Mia, a voice whispered against her mind. I’m so sorry Mia. I just wanted to set you free. To let you see the world you so desired to see.

Mia began to grimace as the as a burning pain began to blossom in her chest.

I heard you crying. I heard you begging for freedom. I thought I could set you free. I was wrong. Mia could hear pain in his words. Pain for her.

Mia had never said anything, not even to her sisters. She had kept it to herself. She had been afraid there was something wrong with her. She had thought she was losing her mind when she started seeing flashes of images in her mind of people she didn’t know and places she had never seen.

Her powers were growing stronger and stronger and they scared her. She wasn’t the only one that he noticed. Her father had noticed as well. He had forbidden her from leaving the keep. He had kept her trapped in their home. She wasn’t allowed to see anyone and no one was allowed to see her. She had become a prisoner.

The burning sensation began to grow stronger and stronger. She fell to her knees clutching the book tightly to her chest. She couldn’t cry out, she couldn’t speak, it hurt, it hurt so bad.

Spot dashed from the kitchen back in to the den. He ran to Mia, and started to paw at her legs, whining. He knew something was wrong with her. He tried to help, but the pain just grew worse and worse. Mia slid to the floor, curling in a ball and she squeeze her eyes shut.

Spot began to howl and bark as she nudged Mia’s cheeks.

“Spot! Be quiet!” Her mother came storming in to the room to quiet the dog but stopped when she saw Mia lying prone on the ground curled up in a ball.

“Mia!” She cried out as she ran to her daughter. “Mia!”

“Mama?” Anna said fearfully, as she stared between her sister and her mother.

“Go and get your sisters. Tell them to find your father now!” Her mother ordered as she tired to gather Mia up in her arms.

“Mia baby, what’s wrong? Please Mia, speak to me?” Her mother begged as she dragged her daughter on to her lap and against her chest.

I wanted to save you and now I have doomed you. The voice told her sadly. I never meant for this to happen. I just wanted to make you happy. I wanted to see you smile. I wanted to be by your side when you saw just how beautiful the world truly was.

The book clutched in Mia’s hand began to shrivel and burn, yet there were no flames. The book was turning to ash and there was no way to stop it.

Mia cried as realized just what was happening.

“No, please, no,” She cried as her most prized possession became nothing more than dust.

I will find you again. In my next life, I will not stop searching until I find you and this time I will set you free.

“No,” Mia wailed.

“Mia, please tell me what’s wrong?” Her mother cried as she rocked her back and forth.

“Mother, what’s wrong?” Thea asked she came running in to the room with Anna behind her.

“Get your father! Find him and get him back here now!”

“What’s wrong with Mia?” Anna asked as she clutched tightly to Thea’s sleeve.

“Find your father now!”

“Anna come on, we need to find Father,” Thea said as she grabbed her sister’s hand and pulled her out of the room, looking back at her mother and sister worriedly before disappearing out the door.

“Mia, please hold on, please,” Her mother begged as she wrapped her body around Mia’s.

I will find you again. I won’t give up until I do. You are my life, never forget that. You are my life.

Mia screamed as the pain in her chest exploded and the mind touching her own vanished. Mia’s eyes shot open and she saw another face leaning over her, a grim smile on his lips, a blood covered blade in his hand.

Gray eyes stared down at her, gray eyes so much like her own.

“Father,” the words left her lips as nothing more than a breath and then the world vanished.

Next: Chapter Eleven

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