by Jane Doe
Tristan, my first in command. The man I considered both a friend and a worthy enemy. A Vampire I had once hated with every fiber of my being, only to now trust him with every beat of my heart.
He was dead.
Cold. Unmoving. Not a spark of light in his eyes.
He pushed me out of the way. He took the blow that was meant for me. He gave his life for me and its broke Freya’s spell.
Tristan loved me.
Holly’s head was bowed, her hair a dark veil that covered her face as she wept. Her hands were stained red with Tristan’s blood, but she didn’t seem to notice. She continued clutching at his shirt, whimpering, and whispering under her breath.
Without warning the blood ruby unleashed a blast of light that left me seeing spots. Holly ripped the blade from Tristan’s unmoving chest, dropping it as though it were poisonous.
Freya’s face had lost its triumphant luster, taking on a more sinister expression. It looked like her skin had been pulled too tightly over her bones, stretching across her face in a way that emphasized every dip and curve. Her cheeks were just a touch too hollow, her eyes bulged from their sockets ever so slightly. Her teeth pressed at her lips, pushing them outward.
Her eyes flickered from the dagger to where I sat in the grass, the start of some sickening plan or idea taking form in her head.
Before she could react-before any of us could react, Holly stumbled to her feet.
I should’ve noticed something off when she went silent, no longer crying or whispering under her breath.
Long strands of inky hair hung over her face, partially shielding it from view. From where I sat, I managed to catch a single glimpse of her eyes. My stomach plummeted as I took in the haunted light that filled her entire being.
Holly, the sister that betrayed me, the one I craved since I was a little girl, unleashed a wail that made my hair stand on end.
For a split second, I thought she was going to attack me. After all, it was my life Tristan died for. Never could I have anticipated
Holly charging at her own mother, grabbing onto her dress with blood-stained hands as she screamed and snarled like a wild animal.
“You killed him, you killed him, you killed him! Holly wailed, her voice cracking several times over.
Freya’s lips pulled back from her face in a distasteful sneer. “Get off of me, girl. Have some class. We do not cry over men.”
She shoved Holly away, who stumbled backwards but didn’t fall. Her shoulders were hunched as she took in breath after breath.
Bloody handprints littered Freya’s skin from where Holly had made a grab for her.
Digging my fingers into the dirt, I pushed myself off the ground and onto my feet. I inched closer to Breyona, hesitating when I caught the unearthly glow of magic in Holly’s eyes.
Suddenly, the bloody handprints on Freya’s body began to smoke.
Freya noticed the same time as I did. Her bulging eyes went wide, so wide that I could see the network of veins running across them like spider webs. Unlike normal veins, these ones were black-tainted with darkness.
“You… You dare use blood magic on me?”
She scoffed at Holly. “l am your mother.”
Holly didn’t so much as blink at her mother.
Her lips barely moved, forming words that came out as a cold whisper.
“You’re nothing but an empty vessel.”
If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I wouldn’t have known what to make of the sound. It was the crash of a vase against a hard floor. The crack of a bone snapped in two, it’s splintered echo ringing in your ears.
Only, it wasn’t a vase or a bone that created that sound.
It was Freya.
What started as a hairline crack running down her arm, splitting her pale skin in two, began to widen. Like the brittle edges of a chasm, her flesh began to crumble. More and more cracks formed, each one stemming from the bloody handprints Holly had left on her mother’s skin.
One crawled down Freya’s neck, another across her chest and cleavage. A third inched up her neck, cleaving her jawline in two.
Freya looked down at her hands and the widening cracks flooding her body, a look of bewilderment on her face.Something in my gut told me this emotion was new to her.
“What is this magic!? No! No, it’s not possible. You’re nothing! You’re not powerful enough to kill me!” She half- shouted at Holly, who stood there impassively, a look of detachment marring her face.
“I don’t have to be as powerful as you, mother. You killed him, and it’s his lifeblood that’s killing you.”
Holly’s words rang in my ears. As I stared down at Tristan’s body, noting how even in death his eyes were trained on my younger sister, I realized she was right. As disturbing as it was, there was a sick sort of beauty behind watching the Blood Witch crack and crumble like old porcelain.
It felt like Tristan was here with us, dealing one final blow before his soul slipped away.
Freya’s entire face transformed as she opened her mouth and let loose a furious scream. Her jaw opened wider than it should have, more cracks crawling up her face from how taut her skin was pulled.
The sound alone was deafening, sending a sharp wave of pain straight into my head. I barely noticed the difference as I slammed my hands over my ears. Breyona’s wolf was several feet away, writhing in pain as tendrils of shadow danced off her fur- covered body.
“NO!” She screeched, making a go at Holly with her arms raised and hands extended.
As her foot came down, cracks spread up her legs until her flesh crumbled in a sea of cream-colored shards, raining down into the grass. Freya screamed a second time, but this sound was one of agony. Everything from her kneecap down was gone, even the gown she wore had crumbled. Her arms went next, showering the earth and sinking deep into the soil.
She fell to her knee’s, her arms gone and shoulders quickly eroding. The screaming stopped when her face caved in, her jaw becoming just as brittle as the rest of her. Her eyes sunk into the hole in her face, followed by her nose and lips, melting into the shards of her auburn hair.
Within seconds, there was nothing left.
The Blood Witch was gone.
Holly had killed her.
She barely seemed to notice, turning so quickly her hair was ripped from her face. There was only one problem. The spot
Tristan died in was empty. His blood staining the grass was the only thing that remained.
We locked eyes, and despite everything we’d been through, the only thing that passed between us was panic. That panic quickly turned to grim realization when Breyona let out snarl that froze the blood pumping in my veins.
Slowly, we turned to face the source of Breyona’s aggression.
It looked like Tristan, blonde hair blowing in the breeze, standing on two feet as he scanned his surroundings, but it wasn’t him. The way he moved was off. Many times he’d look down at his hands, spreading his fingers before clenching them into fists.
Holly sucked in a sharp gust of air that fractured into a sob, one that caught the attention of Tristan and had him turning in our Direction. I recognized the eyes I stared into.
They were my father’s.
A deep blue just a few shades darker than Tristan’s stared out at us. With the slickness of oil, they slid to Holly’s face, registering the grief that painted her delicate features in deep shadows and sharp angles.
“What did you do, Holly?” The voice that emerged didn’t belong to either Tristan or our father. It was an amalgamation of both.
Breyona’s hackles lifted as her body coiled, seconds away from pouncing.
Holly’s hands trembled as she brought them to her mouth. Several times she mouthed the words, but it wasn’t until the last time that they finally managed to stick.
“The right thing.” She whispered.
Realizing what his youngest daughter had done, our father let out a furious roar that sent the shadows scattering in all directions.
Bats fled from the tree’s, melting into the night to escape the fury of the resurrected Vampire King.
Our father hadn’t so much as taken a step before faltering. The light in his eyes flickered, deep blue fading in and out like an old radio that couldn’t quite settle on one station. The answer drifted through my head, carried on the echo of a breeze.
Freya had bound their life forces together.
“Breyona, don’t.” I warned her, a hand raised in her direction.
Attacking him would do no good, not when he was already dying.
My father turned his head in my direction. A rueful smile crossed his face, so unlike
Tristan that I couldn’t help but marvel at the expression.
“Lola, my heir. All of the power in the world, and you’re too much of a coward to use it.”
He rasped, attempting to take a step but stumbling as he did so. The light in his eyes flickered once again, his voice growing weaker with every breath that rattled in his lungs.
He fell to his knees in the same spot Freya had been in.
“Such a disappointment.”
The light in his eyes flickered once, then twice, before sputtering out completely. Tristan, his body once more an empty vessel, fell to the ground.
Holly quickly followed, kneeling at his side. Still pale faced and trembling, a broken sob tore itself from her chest as she gingerly turned his body over and laid him flat against the earth.
“Oh, Goddess…” Breyona whispered sadly.
I didn’t fully understand why until I felt a touch at my back. The sensation of someone standing close by was like an electrical pulse to my already shot nerves. Tree’s blurred into one as I spun around, only to find myself steadied by a familiar face. Asher.My mind was so jumbled, my nerves so raw, that I hadn’t even felt the sparks licking over my skin as he approached.
He had a wound on his head that looked freshly healed. There was a lot of blood, but most of it had dried. It ran down his sculpted cheek, past his rigid jawline and down his neck. A wound like that would’ve killed a human, but not Asher.
Even wounded, the sight of him warmed me from the inside out.
That was, until a certain blonde came to mind.
“Cassidy-“I stammered, struggling to find the words.
Asher didn’t mind, though. Even with the dried blood smeared across his cheek, there was a look of peace on his face that I hadn’t seen in months. He held my face in his hands, running his thumbs over my cheeks. in slow circles, a glimmer of joy in his eyes at the fact that I-that we, were alive.
“She’s dead.” He replied, not an ounce of emotion in his voice.
I wanted to ask more. I wanted every single detail up to her last miserable breath, and I was going to ask for it before I heard another familiar voice hit the air.
Giovanni stood off to the side, rooted in place and just a few feet away from Tristan and Holly. Before Breyona could approach, he walked over to Tristan’s body and sank to his knees. He didn’t register Holly’s presence, even when she let out a gut-wrenching cry.
The thick curls that fell from his head hung in his face, swaying gently in the breeze.
“Go on.” Asher whispered, nudging me towards the two of them.
A flicker of grief hid deep within the golden notes of his eyes, so buried that you’d have to know just where to look to find it, but once you did, you’d see how endless it truly was. Through a mutual hatred between two men vying for my heart, an odd sort of respect was born, one that teetered on the cusp of something more, but never had the time to make the plunge.
Only when I lowered myself to the ground, the soil and grass cold against my kneecaps, did Holly look up from Tristan’s face.
“l-l am so sorry, Lola.”
I’d never heard her voice like this before. It was unrestrained, a wound that bled and bled and bled. The words poured from that wound, mixing with the remnants of Tristan’s blood on the ground.
“She said she-she said she’d kill him if I didn’t help her.” Holly whimpered, her eyes traveling over Tristan’s smooth face, marveling in both awe and horror at the expression calcified by death’s cold touch.
“The Blood Witch said that?” Giovanni asked in a gravely voice, one thick with grief.
“No, Cassidy did. She-She was my sister, and she knew-she knew I loved him.”
Her shoulders shook as her face contorted in pain. More tears than I’d ever seen from a single person trailed down her cheeks.
When she lifted her eyes to meet my own, I knew deep in my gut that Holly would never be the same after this. She would never be okay.
“I’m so sorry, Lola.” She whispered, truly and completely broken.
There was a hole in my chest where Sean’s life had once been, and I couldn’t help but think how differently things would’ve been if it had been Asher that joined him. The wound that would’ve been left behind as half of my soul was carved from my body would be irreparable.
I wouldn’t have been able to live through that kind of agony-the same kind Holly was currently experiencing. She’s suffered enough, I decided.
“I forgive you.” I murmured, meaning every word.
There was a glimmer of surprise that crossed her face, but nothing short of a miracle could erase the pain that would follow her every singled day for the rest of her life. Her lips, glossy from tears, moved to form a response.
Perhaps she might’ve responded, but a flicker of light just a few feet away caught her attention. It was nothing more than a flash of red, like the whisper of a budding flame.
Holly frowned, reaching several feet behind her to pluck her mother’s dagger off the ground. She stared at it for several seconds, a perplexed expression quickly forming on her face. With a single trembling finger, she reached out and touched the blood ruby attached to the pummel.
With a raw gasp, she yanked her hand away.
“What is it?” I quickly asked.
Giovanni’s head snapped up. “What happened? What is that thing?”
“It’s the Blood Witches weapon. It had…it had Lola’s father’s soul in it.” Breyona replied, narrowing her eyes at the object and I didn’t blame her one bit. The thing gave me the creeps, but the way Holly was looking at it, like it was her last hope, made me falter.
“I didn’t mean to, but I think I did something when I-I pulled this out of his chest.” Holly admitted with clear reluctance. “Our father’s soul went out and…”
The longer I stared at the blood ruby, the more I noticed something different about it.
Whereas before it glowed with a light that reminded me of fresh blood, this time around, it had changed. There was a warmth radiating from its core, flickering, and waning exactly the way a flame would.
It was there, in the hollow of my chest, that I found the answer.
“…and Tristan’s went in.” Holly finished, now cradling the dagger to her chest.
I reached out for it, a slow smile spreading across my face. As Holly looked from my hand to my eyes, her hold lessened.
“I have an idea. Do you trust me, Holly?”
Slowly, like she was holding the secret to life and not a silver dagger, she placed the weapon in my hand.
“Now, lets see if we can bring Tristan back to life.”
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English