“There are many victories worse than defeat.” George Eliot
And when the door burst open, I was sure that I had finally been lucky enough to just slip into eternal oblivion. Because there, in the doorway, was my angel.
Her voice, always so passionate and lively, sounded nearly desperate. I blinked in confusion. What was Eric?
She darted forward, brandishing a sword in her right hand, reaching for me with her left.
“Eric, we have to go!”
Without hesitation, I bolted up as fast as my feeble body would allow. She gripped my hand tightly and the next second, I was being squished into nothingness.
When we emerged from the nothing, I gasped, my hand clutching my chest tightly. Metal clanged around me as she yanked me forward through the mass of bodies. We darted around a blonde man in muted black armor as he swifty sliced through a woman’s shoulder. My girl’s head swung to the left, lighting up when she caught sight of a blonde man to whom she bore a striking resemblance.
“Jason! Get father and let’s go!”
The blonde man glanced up and gave a small wave, swiftly dispatching the man he was fighting before darting into the fray in the opposite direction, cutting down enemies in his path with a joyful shout. Her head bobbed sideways, scanning for something that I couldn’t see through the pressing mass of bodies and weapons.
“Grandfather! I’ve got him!”
A dark haired man lunged toward us, stumbling backwards as a dagger I hadn’t even seen her throw lodged itself in his chest. He burst into a viscous puddle of bloody goo and my rescuer yanked me back, avoiding the splashes speckling the once pristine floor.
“Great-Grandfather!” she shouted into the masses, her nose wrinkling as again no one answered. “Niall!”
An older man with silvery hair sprung out of thin air in front of us.
“I apologize my dove. I was indisposed for a moment and could not step away.” his genteel voice clashed epically with the gore and chaos surrounding us, though he seemed to have a strange wildness about him.
A monstrous man baring fangs caught our attention as he shouted and began to charge towards us, only to be stopped cold when the goddess holding my hand shot a light out of hers. I jumped back, yanking my hand away and she looked over her shoulder at me. The pain in her eyes nearly felled me.
“Do you, Eric of the Northmen, claim your birthright to Fairy?”
I blinked at the old man with the silver hair, startled to be addressed so directly. My angel’s eyes pleaded with me, although I had no idea what she was pleading for.
“Uh-what?” I didn’t know what I was supposed to be choosing. I choose not to die. I choose to leave this horrific place. I choose…
“Eric! Make your choice!” her words sparked something in me, the memory so fresh it raced through my mind in an instant.
“I have to go get ready. I’m so sorry,” she sounded almost as miserable as I felt.
“Okay,” I know I sounded resigned, but I tried to reign it in, knowing how much she hated it.
“I promise I’ll see you soon. You know I always keep my promises, right?”
I tried to smile, but it didn’t quite reach my eyes. I closed my eyes, my body going completely still as she rolled off me. I felt bereft already and she wasn’t even gone yet.
“Just make sure you choose wisely,” she reminded me, pressing a soft kiss to my cheek.
“As long as you’re the choice, it’s one I’ll make easily.”
“I choose you,” I yanked her to me and clung to her tiny body, staring down into her brilliantly blue eyes. “I always choose you.”
She exhaled lightly, her breath skimming across my neck as she sniffed back her tears. “Thank you.”
A deafening roar tore my attention away from her and made my insides freeze as the frenzy of battle ceased.
“Fairy! How dare you take what’s mine!” the man, my jailer, stood on a raised platform at the far end of the room, glaring hatred and death at the beauty in my arms.
“Yours, Vampire?! He was mine before you ever laid eyes on him!” she spun out of my grasp, brandishing her sword and snarling at his words.
The men in armor shifted restlessly, glancing at the enemies they faced, clutching their swords tighter in their hands.
“Care to make a wager, m’lady? Or is the Fae Princess a coward?” the distinct note of sarcasm as he addressed her made something in my memory twitch, but it disappeared a second later as a collective gasp traveled through the room. I was confused again. Who was a princess? Surely not my blonde warrior, although the men in armor were all staring at her with slightly awed gazes.
“You should be so lucky, Bloodsucker. I win and I take my betrothed. You win, you get a Fairy princess cordial for the night.”
A low, gripping feeling started low in my stomach, twisting and yanking on my consciousness, threatening to undo me.
“No,” it was merely a whisper, but she heard. She turned to me, a tender look on her face.
“I’ll be fine. I promise. Then, we will go back to Fairy and live our lives the way we were always meant to,” her hand cupped my cheek and my eyes drifted closed. I’m sure I could revel in her touch forever, but then her hand was gone.
“Clear the floor!” the older gentleman she’d called Niall yelled as the men in armor scrambled to the edges of the floor, making a loose half circle around my warrior princess. Another man bearing remarkable resemblance to my goddess, suddenly popped up next to me, grabbing my wrist and pulling me back, as my body had begun moving towards her without any conscious thought.
“She’ll be fine. Trust her,” his whispered words calmed me slightly as another man, the one she’d called Jason, popped up on my other side. A dark haired man with neatly trimmed facial hair popped in to stand silently beside Jason.
His dark eyes, clouded with worry, cast over to the man holding me. They shared a nod as I saw the rest of the room’s occupants, men and women alike, gathered in a half circle around my tormentor. They all bared fangs of varying lengths, although the man readying himself for a fight were the longest by far.
The man to my left gasped and turned his head into my shoulder. I flinched away from the contact, wary of anyone but my blonde warrior goddess.
“Father! Adilyn!” Again his words confused me as the man still holding my wrist nodded and sighed.
“I saw. Rest assured she’ll be avenged.”
His arm reached around my back, squeezing the other man’s shoulder lightly in what seemed like a comforting gesture.
My eyes drifted back to the girl-my entire world-my reason for living in this hellish nightmare-as she shook her limbs out, switching her sword from hand to hand. Her small hands patted down her body, causing an odd reaction from me as I watched. My body twitched in a slightly pleasing way as I watched the flex of her muscles, the arch of her back as she stretched, the curve of her bottom as she reached towards her toes.
Any positive reaction I may have been having abated immediately as the man with fangs stepped forward, lightly jumping off the platform, stalking toward her slowly.
“Come now, Fairy princess. Let’s get on with it. I find myself a bit peckish,” he grinned maliciously.
“Fuck off, Vampire! You won’t be dining on anyone tonight,” with no warning, she disappeared from where she stood.
My feet jolted forward, immediately trying to find her. Only the man’s hand on my wrist kept me from darting into the circle. The fanged man’s glare settled on me and I shivered.
“Be prepared boy. As soon as you mature, you’re mine!”
With a distinct pop, the girl reappeared behind the man, shoving her hand forward. The roar he let out hurt my ears and as he spun around, throwing his arm into her chest, I saw the hilt of a small dagger stuck in his back. She flew backward, her feet dragging against the cold tile floor, skidding to a halt as she dropped into a crouch.
He flew at her, my eyes tracking the split second movement as he sprang toward the girl. My heart leapt into my throat as his clawed hands gripped her arms, ripping the long black sleeves and leaving long gouge marks on her tanned skin.
I could see his pupils dilate even from where I stood, his eyes instantly going nearly all black as the smell of her blood permeated the room. The assembled masses on his side shifted restlessly. He shook his head, trying to clear it as he stumbled slightly to the side.
“She’s mine! Do not move underlings!”
My blonde savior smeared her blood on her leg, before plucking another dagger from her boot. She popped away from him again and appeared a few feet behind him. Letting the dagger fly, it lodged in his back and he roared his displeasure. I heard a hiss as he grappled behind him, trying to pull it out, seeing smoke rise from his fingertips as he clutched and pulled.
“Sookie! Finish this! We need to return,” Niall, who’d been watching the proceedings with rapt attention, called softly.
Smiling with a glint in her eye, she charged towards the monster, flipping over him to watch his face as she dropped her swords to the side. He smiled triumphantly and the bottom dropped out of my stomach. I’d lose her before I had a chance to have her!
All the nights we’d frolicked together in my dreams-all the times she’d cared for me-flashed through my mind. A feeling I couldn’t identify welled up in my chest, threatening to strangle me with panic. He was a monster and I couldn’t bear it if he snuffed out the golden glowing light she’d always had.
“Just watch,” Jason whispered, nodding towards her.
The monster grabbed her, roaring in exultation as he lowered his fangs to her neck, licking the smooth, satiny skin. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, savoring whatever flavor he found there. As he reared back to bite, memories from my captivity began assaulting my thoughts.
He stalked toward me, fangs extended and strong pale hands slowly drawing his already unbuttoned shirt off his muscular shoulders, and my heart began racing. His lips curved into a cruel smile. He reached me in what seemed like a blink of an eye, although I could measure every movement he made easily.
His long nails scraped my neck as he grabbed me, yanking my head around roughly. He inhaled sharply, his eyes dilating immediately. Something hot and wet trickled down the side of my neck, tickling me and making me squirm. He began to chuckle, building up to a menacing laugh as he slowly lowered his mouth to my neck while I braced myself for whatever impending horror he had decided to inflict upon me.
My attention was brought back to the present when she began laughing a gloriously delightful tinkling laugh. Balling her hands behind his head, a blinding blue light glowed suddenly, and with no hesitation, she shoved it into his back.
Shrieking in apparent agony, his hands fell away from her as I watched in horrified fascination. His skin began flaking away and his face was contorted in pain as he spun around frantically searching for help that wouldn’t come. The monsters gathered around him fled, scrambling for cover as the armored men began advancing on them.
The man’s smoking, smoldering bulk cowered helplessly in the center of the marble floor as the girl crouched over him. Gripping her sword tightly, she snarled at him.
“Take heart, Vampire. At least you’ll die by the hand of royalty. But not before you suffer as so many have suffered because of you. This,” she brought the sword down on his thigh, severing it completely, “is for the terror you inspired as you invaded our home, our safe haven from scum like you. This,” her sword flew through the air, severing his other leg as he howled in agony, “is for the blood of my kinsmen, spilled for your own bloody desires. This,” she hacked messily at his shoulder as he began whimpering, “is for the lives you’ve destroyed in your quest for something that was never yours to begin with. This,” his other arm separated from his body as her sword fell again, clanging on the marble below, “is for thinking you could ever best me. And this,” she leaned over him, snarling at his pathetic cries of pain, “is for taking what is mine. You stole years of our lives and visited countless horrors onto this precious being. For that, I take what you hold most dear. Your life.”
She raised her hand, preparing to strike as he lifted his head slightly, gasping out words no one but her could hear. Her hand slowly dropped as her eyes grew wider, a flash of pain shining out as she gasped harshly.
She shrieked in pain and rage as she raised her hand to strike again. But my heart leapt into my throat as I saw a cloaked figure rush towards her from behind. Her eyes went wide as the figure scooped up the man who was no more than a torso and a head as they popped away, just like I’d seen her do.
I raced toward her as I watched her crumple to the floor, vaguely aware of the chaos surrounding me. I had to get to her, I just had to! She risked everything to save me! I pushed through the bodies that were darting back and forth, ignoring the shouts and curses flying about the room. A desperation I’d never felt, even when I’d been sure I would die by that bastards fangs, rose up in me as I tried to get to my love. Wait, love? Is that what this emotion-this need to hold her, to comfort her, to give anything so that she’d live? I slid to a stop and dropped to my knees, pulling her onto my lap uncaring for the blood slowly staining my clothes.
The four men she’d talked to, one still nameless to me, all gathered around us as the armored men shielded us from the cacophony of noises and movement around us. I heard shouts of betrayal, calling for arms, speculation about the cloaked figure, but I dismissed it all, focusing instead on my darling’s short, stuttered breaths and the slow, creeping wetness spreading from her to me.
Niall’s eyebrows lowered in anger as he gripped my shoulder hard. My hands tightened on her unconscious body, unwilling to part with my savior.
“I shall not take her, boy. We need to return. You’ve made your choice?”
I nodded, glancing at the other three men who had tears streaming silently down their faces. “I choose her. Always.”
“As it should be. Come, let’s return,” his hand tightened on my shoulder once again as I pulled her even tighter to my body. The other men vanished and with a pop, I was once more squished into nothingness.