Altiere grinned at his visitor like the man had handed him the world on a platter. “It is done, I presume?”
“Yeah. Lavina is gone,” Falkor muttered angrily. “I don’t appreciate you putting me in that spot. She is family.”
“Well you should have kept it in your pants, don’t you think?” Altiere winked. “If the clan ever found out that you had relations with a woman from a brothel, do you think they’d be proud of you? You wouldn’t be leader now.”
“It is no crime to have needs,” Falkor said, anger adorning his near porcelain features.
“Lest we forget about your lovely wife,” Altiere scoffed. “She wouldn’t want to know about that whore’s child either. I’ve taken care of it, free of charge.”
“I do not care about any of that,” Falkor said, waving the man off. “I wish to be rid of that filthy wench. None of this reaches my wife.”
“You have my word. If anyone asks me…clan Gray has never had any dealings with vampires.” Altiere winked, his plan set in motion.
Dahlia held her spell book closely to her chest. “I assure you, your young majesty, this is not what you wish to do.”
“I assure you, I will have you thrown into the dungeons for an eternity if you oppose me,” Indy said, grating his teeth. “You will summon Elora.”
“I will live a life tied down to a dungeon if it meant not having to incur her wrath,” Dahlia answered. “You know not with which you are messing. Elora will show you no mercy.”
“Of course she will. She wants to bestow my family a blessing? I will shoulder that burden,” Indy replied with a simple shrug. “She finds favor with House Draknar. I see no reason she would go against us now.”
“You seek to harness her power for selfish reasons,” Dahlia responded. “Elora will not allow that. You will suffer a fate worse than death. Please, your young majesty….listen to reason.”
“I will not!” Indy cried, stomping his foot into the ground like a spoiled child. “You will be escorted to the dungeon where you will stay until you decide to listen to some reason.”
Dionysus frowned, running his fingers through his hair. “Well…this is going to be harder than I thought. I mean, I knew we couldn’t simply waltz in and demand to see Dahlia.”
“You have poor planning skills,” Lavina said with a wink. She slapped Dragos on the back. “They don’t know of me, right? So I can go in and ask to see her.”
“You can’t just ask to see Dahlia,” Sophina pointed out. “That’s suspicious. It has to be Dragos.” Sophina latched onto his arm. “But I do not wish to let him go. It’s dangerous and the risk may be too high. If you abandon your kingdom, the sentence is torture.”
“I can do it,” Dragos said, sliding out of Sophina’s grasp. “I want no child dead because of me. My job as king would have been to care for my people and make a difference. I’d still like to do part of that.”
“That means everything to me,” Lavina said quietly. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me until your brother is actually safe,” Dragos muttered. “I’m going to just walk in and demand an audience with Dahlia. You say it’s a bad idea, Dio. But I think we can say that we were kidnapped by some nefarious people from Halina trying to rescue Sophina. Sophina and Lavina need to stay far away though.”
“I need to talk to Elora though,” Lavina said. “I need to plead to her for her help. Timothy is my brother.”
“We know where the Rite is supposed to happen,” Dionysus said. “So, Sophina, Lavina and I will wait in hiding at the temple and when the Rite is ready to happen we will emerge.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Dragos said. “But please, be careful.” He turned to leave, ignoring the fallen face of Sophina. “I will be okay. I promise.”
“You better be,” Sophina cried. “We’re both getting our freedom.”
Dionysus placed his arms around Sophina, hugging her tightly. “Hey, Dragos is a tough guy. If anyone knows how to break through to the Draknar family it’s him.”
Indy crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at his brother. “So what you mean to tell me is that Sophina somehow escaped and you had nothing to do with it?”
“Yea,” Dragos said with a simple shrug. “Some loyalists from Halina seem to think that Briella isn’t their leader. I’d be a little wary of an elven servant girl taking over too.”
“Speak no more of Briella, she is the rightful leader and a beautiful woman no matter her race,” Indy said. “But fine, say I believe you…what is it you want from me?”
“I missed my Rite,” Dragos said. “I must take it before Elora gets angry.”
“Elora is probably already angry,” Indy said. “But that is no matter. I will remedy the situation by taking over as the prophesied one.”
“You can’t take over a prophecy,” Dragos said, rolling his eyes. “The blessing is meant for me. If you feel so strongly about it, then take it. But, I do not think you will be able to have her summoned without me present.”
“You’re right…” Indy smirked, suddenly having an idea. “You tell Dahlia what you just told me about the resistors. She will summon Elora and you will pass the Rite to me. I know it’s a lot to ask dear brother-but if you don’t, well, the dungeon will be the least of your worries.”
Ah, playing on Indy’s ego was always something Dragos could count on. Hell, if he took Elora’s blessing it would be a gift in disguise. Dragos didn’t want that kind of power anyway. He straightened his coat before going to the dungeon. His footsteps were loud on the stone floors -almost deafening to him. Indy had gone too far, locking up an innocent woman. Dahlia was an honest and kind person, she had no business being behind bars. “Dragos!” She cried upon seeing him. “Please, talk some sense into your brother.”
“I can’t,” Dragos muttered. “We have to summon Elora. There’s no other choice.”
“Of course there is,” Dahlia said. “There is always a choice.”
“This is my choice then,” Dragos muttered. “You have to summon Elora.” He leaned in close so as not to alert the other guards of his impending treason. “I will handle Indy. He won’t get that power, I promise. All you need to know is that he refuses to back down and I have to speak with Elora.”
“You have spurned her. She will not help you,” Dahlia said. “You must know that. She gives no second chances. Summoning her will incur her wrath and I cannot do that.”
“Dahlia, please. A young boy is dying and a war is going to be brewing soon between the humans and the vampires in the lower lands. I know, I don’t believe it either yet here we are. A woman, Lavina Gray, was kicked out of her clan and told to kill the head of the vampire clan. They want his blood- they want a war.” Lavina hadn’t had to tell him that part, he had put together the pieces after hearing her explanation of the story. “Elora has to set things right. Who else can?”
Lavina felt a foreboding she had never experienced before. There was a finality to this moment. One she didn’t quite understand. “If only Lapis were here to tell me what was to come,” She muttered to herself.
“What are you talking about?” Sophina asked, looking up at the girl. “Who is Lapis?”
“Just a friend,” Lavina said. “Worry not about him. Why aren’t you with Dionysus? You two are not…?”
“I don’t know,” She muttered. “I like him a lot, but that is all I really know.”
“That is all you really have to know,” Lavina said simply. “There’s not much more to love than following your heart.” Lavina placed a hand on her heart. “I wouldn’t know. My clan was going to choose a husband for me but because of Timmy we kept pushing it off. I’m quite glad. Marriage is not something I think suits me.”
“Me neither. It is much to stifling to marry for traditions sake,” Sophina replied, looking around the temple. “It’s kind of creepy in here. Don’t you think?”
“Yes,” Lavina agreed. “Quite creepy. I don’t feel right being here. We don’t worship such divines in the lower lands.”
“Neither in Halina,” Sophina replied. “But then again, we don’t believe supernaturals exist there either. We are a very ignorant country.”
“We,” Lavina said, nodding her head. “You consider yourself as part of that country still? Even though they want you locked up?”
“Well…yes,” Sophina said. “I was born and raised there. I will always have a love for my country. It is the kingdom with which I have issues. Halina’s people know only of what their leadership tells them.”
Lavina opened her mouth to say more. She wanted to tell Sophina how she wouldn’t give up on her clan because of one incident. That was also her home. Her family. But, footsteps alerted them to a presence. Lavina readied a battle stance. “It’s me,” Dionysus said quietly, hands up in the air. “They’re coming, but it doesn’t look good. Dragos brought Dahlia, Indy, and Briella with him.”
“Briella too?” Sophina lowered her eyes. “Why does she insist upon inserting herself into this whole thing. Ugh!”
“Calm down,” Dionysus whispered. “This is a temple and we cannot be acting in a disrespectful way.” He placed a finger on his lips.
Dahlia stood on the platform, bowed at the statue of Elora, and then kneeled on the ground. “Oh wondrous Elora, we are calling to you to anoint Mr. Draknar with your blessing.”
Sophina watched from her hiding spot with baited breath. Part of her didn’t really think a divine could be summoned. What was a divine anyway? She was never taught of such things in Halina. Dionysus placed a comforting hand on her back and nodded reassuringly. “It will be okay,” He whispered. She trusted him and everything he had to offer. If she as with him, she knew she’d be safe.
“Lady Elora, divine of all things light, please bestow your blessing upon Dragos Draknar, the prophesied child,” Dahlia chanted. “He is ready to receive your Rite.”
It was strange what happened next- a bright light enveloped the temple until the temple was no more. The group was now standing in a completely white room with nothing to hide behind. In the middle stood a beautifully pale woman with hair as bright as the rainbows after a rainstorm. “Who dares disturb my slumber?”
“It is I, your holiness,” Dahlia said, bowing. “I am a priestess expected to contact you regarding the blessing you have promised the Draknar family.”
“Ah, is it that time already?” Elora asked with a yawn. “Yes, I did promise the Draknar family a blessing. A blessing of one child- the eldest of this generation. Yet, there seems to be a party in front of me. Who are all these people?”
“My name is Indy Draknar, your holiness.” He bowed in respect. “This is my beautiful wife to be, Briella. My brother is beside me. The rest…well, I don’t know what traitors are doing here. Resistors, you say, Dragos? You lied to your dearest brother?”
“Yeah,” Dragos said. “Because all you do is lie and scheme for power. Lady Elora, I am the eldest son and I wish to ask for your help regarding stopping another great vampire war. My selfish brother threatened to jail anyone who didn’t follow his wished, so I had to say what needed to be said to get here.”
“I can feel the darkness in all of your hearts. Selfishness manifesting into greed, a want for power, deeds done in which you cannot be forgiven.” She snapped her finger and cast down a bolt of lightning that sent the group stumbling backwards. “Indy and Briella, if it is not apparent to you why you are not going to be bestowed with my favor, the kingdom of Aguria is very unlucky. You have a lust for power I cannot fathom. You should both be ashamed of yourselves.”
Elora pointed to Dragos as if he was next on her list. “You have pure intentions but you are willing to toss your brother to the wolves too easily. Scoundrel or not, he is blood. Lavina, you want to protect your brother but he was chosen by me to keep you world full of light. So you wanting to stop that is incredibly selfish. That vampire has told you Timmy’s important role and yet you still try to oppose it.”
“You, priestess…” Elora’s gaze fell on Dahlia. “You brought these disgustingly dark people to me. So, you are no better than the rest of them. And you, Sophina…” Elora reached out as if to grab her but dropped her arm. “I feel worst of all for you, as you did nothing wrong. You opposed a woman who saw nothing but power in her eyes. You gave the vessel hope, allowing him to further fight the darkness within him…yet you still must be punished because it is the only way to teach Dionysus a lesson for what he’s done in his past.”
“What is she talking about?” Sophina asked, looking at Dionysus.
“I haven’t been entirely truthful with any of you,” He muttered. “But I have my reasons.” He saw the looks of curiosity on the faces of the others, but what hurt the most was the crestfallen look on Sophina’s face.
“Dionysus, I need not tell you why you’re such a bad soul. Funny you’d allow these humans to summon me knowing what that’d mean for you. I only wish you hadn’t dragged her along for the ride.”
“Elora, don’t you think it’s something that’s important if I’ve come back to you knowing what will happen to me?” Dionysus asked. “I’m willing to give my life if it means protecting everyone.”
“You wish to save a human boy who is destined to keep the darkness at bay. It cannot be done. Timothy Gray is needed to be a vessel. End of story.”
“No, please!” Lavina dropped to her knees. “I will do ANYTHING to save him. Make me the vessel instead.”
“Your hatred for the vampires would only make the darkness stronger. Timothy was handpicked before his birth.” Elora rolled her eyes, obviously annoyed. “And before the lot of you ask, I will not be saving anyone else either. I am tired of humans thinking we divines will do anything they ask of us. As for you, Dionysus…you are never going to be allowed back home- but that is not your punishment. Your punishment is that you will forever be a wanderer, never truly finding your home. Oh, and knowing that Sophina will have to suffer for centuries because of you.”
Elora shut her eyes and blue flashes of light radiated around her forehead. “There is some merit to this vampire war Dragos speaks of. It will not happen, consider that a gift from me. I will wipe the memory of the man who wishes to raise an army of darkness. Doing so will cause him to slumber for centuries, awaking when the darkness calls to him. Unfortunately, I have to coexist with the divine of darkness, so any of his agents must not be killed by me.”
“But they can be eliminated by others…” Dionysus frowned. “What are you planning?”
“I wasn’t planning on anything but you’ve awoken me and now I’ve decided that you’ll all need to learn your lesson and what better way than to save the world I’ve put so much time and effort into?” She let out a frustrated sigh. “This is what is going to happen…all of you will be cursed in some way or other. In a few hundred centuries, a new vessel will be born to do the same thing that Timothy is doing at this very moment. This child will be a member of the Gray family. They don’t have to be, but since you are so selfish to think of only your feelings rather than the fate of the world Lavina, you’ll have the pleasure of dooming your family.”
Sophina could see that Lavina was getting angry, balling her hands into fists. But even the steadfast woman knew not to go against an almost all powerful divine being. “Dragos, Briella, Dahlia, and Sophina…you will all live a life of near immortality. Hundreds of centuries will pass by until you finally realize what your true calling is. You will know when it comes. All but Sophina- your demise is Dionysus’ curse.”
“And me?” Indy asked incredulously. “Am I spared?”
“Of course not. You will be sent to be an agent of darkness, a place much more suited to your unrighteous ideals. Now, if you don’t mind I really would like to sleep again.”
“That’s it?” Sophina asked incredulously. “All this effort and suffering, and you won’t help us?”
“Help you how?” Elora snapped. “Your idea of help is sparing one life when I am trying to save many. You don’t even know what you’re asking me. A being of light must hold the darkness so that it does not overflow and plunge our world into turmoil. You have not seen the world in its dark ages. I gave up everything to make it a place worth living in now for you ungrateful humans!”
“All that you’ve done is leech from my good will. Stand aside and let what needs to be done, happen. Generations from now, you will all have to save the world from the darkness again. Here’s to hoping the centuries will help you all grow the years wiser and put your selfish acts behind you.”
“And that’s it then?” Graciela muttered, looking up at Dionysus with red puffy eyes. “I am suffering because of some ancient divine?”
“No, you are suffering to save your dimension,” Dionysus said.
“The one we’re not even able to get to? That one?” Graciela asked, wiping a tear away.
“Not even Elora could have accounted for what’s happening to us,” Dionysus muttered. He held his hand to his heart, glad Graciela hadn’t asked about what each person involved was fated to do or who he really was. He knew she would one day, but he was thankful it wasn’t right now.
“And what’s happening to us?” She asked quietly.
“I…I don’t know.”