Keeran sat next to the fire even though he couldn't fell it's warmth. It had been six days, almost a week since Bethany had joined them. She still hadn't broke. Keeran thought that she surely would have by now, or at least given up. No, she was still holding out. What was baffling him was how to persuade her. Bethany was one of the most determined and stubborn people he had ever met. She wouldn't easily change her mind. She was defiant, which only made the challenge that much more appealing. He couldn't threaten her. She wasn't scared of him or death. She had also been able to resist his charm. What else could he try? He could just turn her and be done with it. Well, things will definitely go one way or another.
Keeran glanced outside at the dying sun. Forty-five minutes, maybe, till it was dark. Forty-five minutes till he saw her. Keeran shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Night this evening would bring something else along with it's darkness. It had been too long, for him and his father. However, his father was stronger than him. No, Keeran would be on his own tonight. The power was pulling at him now. He could almost think of nothing else. Forty-five minutes left to wait, just forty-five. Surely, he could wait that much longer.
- - -
Mori returned her dagger into the folds of her cloak. She had just cleaned it for maybe the third time this week. She was getting restless, so she knew her twin was getting the same feeling. Mori rarely felt restless. She just knew something was going to happen. She didn't know when or how, but something big was going to take place…and soon. All she had to do was watch, wait, and keep herself busy with things until something happened.
Will walked in followed closely by Jen. He had taken off his usual brown vest and only had his coat over his arm. He had come from working. That was obvious by the smudges on his shirt, which had been white at one time, and his pants. He never wore any leather while working and he had his goggles strapped on top of his head, another obvious clue as to what the boy had been doing all day. Jen looked worried, but exasperated at the same time. Mori knew the look well.
"Will, you aren't going to look again?" she asked him. "Van Helsing and Anna…"
"Are only two people." Will cut her off. He seemed irritated. Apparently, Mori wasn't the only one getting restless about their situation. "And yes, I am going out…"
"It's a full moon!" Jen almost broke Mori's eardrums, her voice was so shrill.
"…to get some practice." Will finished as he slipped on his coat. "Really, I am."
"I've heard that lie before." Mori said as she walked over to him. Their heads whipped over to look at Mori. Neither of them had noticed that they were sharing the room with her. Will still had to get used to that. After nearly three and a half years, Jen wasn't used to it either. Only Bethany was. Logan, who was at Mori's feet, tilted his head at the two. Will just looked at her curiously, wanting Mori to elaborate. She looked at Will when she responded. "It came out of Bethany's own mouth."
Will sighed and picked up a sword. Mori took it from his hand and set it back in it's rightful place. Will just looked at her. Mori gave Will a stern look. Logan stood, sensing the tension in the room, his ears pressed forward to hear their conversation. There was no way Mori was letting this boy out of her sight. Bethany wouldn't be very happy with her if she did. Mori wouldn't be happy with herself. She had gotten enough people hurt over the years and wasn't about to add him to her list. William looked frustrated and heart broken at the same time.
"I just can't stand it. I can't stand just sitting here and doing nothing while…while she's out there."
"You're staying alive, which is exactly what Bethany wants." Mori told him gently, but she understood what he meant with all her heart. Will wasn't the only one that this had been hard on. Mori blamed herself for it, but she had to get over her own self pity if they wanted to find her partner and long-time friend. However, even though she felt it didn't mean she had to show it. "Now, don't go doing something foolish that would upset her."
Will seemed upset and maybe even angrier than before. He turned on his heel and stalked out of the room without another word. Yes he was angry, but not at Mori. He was angry at himself, for not doing anything, for Mori saying what he knew but would never admit. He needed to cool down and get his head together. He started heading back to his lab.
Mori sighed and looked out at the slowly rising moon. Jen was right, it was full tonight. Logan tilted his head and looked up at his master. Mori scratched the back of one of his ears. Logan gently licked her fingers as a thank you. The dark girl smiled softly. At least someone still liked her.
"He and Beth are so much alike and they don't even know it." Jen sighed.
"Yes they are." Mori answered with a small nod. They were stubborn and determined. It's amazing the two got along for so long without killing each other. The room suddenly grew darker and the two glanced out the window to see a large shape heading toward the village silhouetted against the moon. Mori and Jen looked at each other and then quickly ran out into the hall, Logan at their heels. They found Will doing the exact same thing they were. He had pulled off his goggles and they had disappeared into one of the pockets of his coat.
"You saw it too?" Jen asked him. Will nodded as they ran to the entrance hall. Mori then threw open the front door to let themselves out. They had no time to waste. Mori didn't know for sure what that thing was, but she had her suspicions. If she was right, it could lead them to Bethany.
"Then hurry up!"
Mori, Jen and Will got into the village rather quickly. It was cold outside, very cold. Will could see his breath making ghosts in front if him in the night. He pulled his coat closed to try and stay warm. Jen and Mori didn't seem bothered by the cold at all. Maybe they were just used to it.
"What was it and where did it go?" Jen asked as her hazel eyes scanned the square. Logan had his ears flat against his head and teeth bared. Obviously, he was feeling threatened. They all were.
"Shhh." Mori hushed her. She was listening very carefully. There, in the distance, the subtle sound of moving cloth. "He's close. I know it."
"How?" Will asked as he raised an eyebrow at her. Mori's eyes didn't even move to him when she answered.
"I've been doing this too long."
Keeran heard their conversation from his hiding place in the shadows. They were already here! My, they didn't waste time. Well, his sister never was one to do such a thing. To top everything off, they brought William! That was the entire reason he brought Bethany here, to get her away from him. Not to mention that Mori was here too. This could complicate things. If Mori and Will were here, that also meant that Gabriel Van Helsing wasn't far off. Keeran melted back into the shadows. He would fight, but not tonight. What he had to do now was deliver the news.
- - -
Bethany had her coat pulled closely around her. It was freezing and she was attempting to stay warm. It wasn't working very well. She was beginning to curse a vampire's liking to cold. She was shaking, curled up in a chair in the corner of the room. She had yet to find a method to keep warm. It was getting to the point where Beth was starting to feel that she would never be warm again. The door opened and Beth looked up to see Keeran walking through it. Great. His appearance only added to her sour mood, as did the slightly smug look on his face.
"Tired?" he asked, tilting his head at her.
"No, cold. Very cold. What do you want?" Beth retorted as she stood up on her feet. She didn't want Keeran looking down at her. There was no way she was going to face him sitting down.
"Come, we have things to discuss." Keeran said and offered her his hand. Beth just looked at it and then glanced at Keeran, one eyebrow raised. Her answer was clear on her face and it was no. Keeran sighed in exasperation or irritation. Beth couldn't tell which it was.
"Bethany, I will be taking you with me one way or another. Must you make it difficult?" he asked her.
"Yes." Beth nodded with no hesitation whatsoever. Beth allowed herself to look a little smug. She was annoying him. Good. It's about time someone did.
"Fine then. We'll do things the hard way." Keeran said. The girl gave him a questioning look. Keeran just smirked before he vanished and suddenly reappeared right behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist. He did this all before Bethany could even blink. The second she felt his arms around her, Beth struggled against him, but he refused to let go. Keeran whirled her around to face him, one arm still around her waist and the other on her arm.
"Now stop that." He told her and pulled Bethany against him. Beth still fought against him, so Keeran squeezed down on her arm. The girl winced in pain and finally had to stop struggling to ease the pain in her throbbing muscle. Keeran just smirked at her. The girl narrowed her emerald eyes at him. Beth hated that smirk. She wanted to slap it right off his face and slap him so hard that it knocked him back in time at least one hundred years! It said I got my way and I love it! She never wanted to see it again.
"That's better." Keeran said, that terrible grin still plastered over his features. He moved his hand off her arm and put his hand on her back before he pulled her closer to him. Beth tried to pull away, but his grip was too strong. He leaned down to her, but Beth quickly put a stop to whatever he was thinking.
"If you try, so help me God, I will murder you." It was obvious she meant it by the tone in her voice.
Keeran raised his eyebrows and leaned back. Apparently, she'd take more convincing. She was feisty and wild, but he liked that. The clock tower began to chime and Keeran sighed.
"Now you've made us late." He said and dragged Bethany out the door. He roughly guided her down a hallway and into another room. It wasn't easy since Beth kept trying to get away from him. Never the less, he managed to keep his hold on the girl. Keeran didn't let go of Beth till he had locked the door.
"I was beginning to wonder what took you so long, Keeran." Came Dracula's voice. Beth's blood ran cold. She didn't even turn around to look at the vampire. Instead, she took in the room to distract himself from his presence. It wasn't easy to ignore. The air was colder and Beth's stomach tied itself into knots the way it always did when danger was close. That was one thing that Dracula and Mori had in common. The air in the room changed whenever they entered and Beth couldn't ignore it.
The room looked like a library. There were books covering all four walls of the windowless, high-ceilinged room. The floor was stone and the fireplace was as well. There were two chairs and a couch around the fireplace, the couch in the center with the chairs facing inward on each side. There was a fire roaring in the hearth and it lit the small room just enough for Beth to see clearly. She could fell the warmth from where she stood and almost welcomed it. It was the only form of heat she had felt in at least a week.
"I had some trouble persuading her." Keeran answered as an apolgy. Dracula nodded.
"That would be expected. This is Bethany, after all."
Beth crossed her arms over her chest and lowered her head. She was trying to convince herself that she wasn't there. She was not alone in a room with two very dangerous vampires. When that plan of illusion didn't work, she tried to be invisible. That didn't exactly look either. She felt a hand on her arm and looked up to see Keeran. He tried to guide her toward the fireplace, toward Dracula, but Beth pulled her arm free.
"No." Beth told him in barely a whisper.
"Bethany, don't make this difficult."
"If you didn't want to make it difficult then maybe you shouldn't have kidnapped me!" Beth growled at him through her clenched teeth. The anger had returned, giving her the strength to defy him. Dracula's son or not, she would not be ordered around like a small child.
Beth turned her head away from him to tell him that she wasn't interested in anything he had to say. Keeran grabbed her shoulders and forced Beth to look at him. She narrowed her eyes at him again and fought not to blast him with her powers then and there.
"Why must you be so stubborn?" he hissed, clearly unhappy.
"It runs in the family." Beth replied. Keeran sighed and took her wrist. He pulled her across the room and sat her down on the couch. Beth sat at the far end, away from Dracula. Keeran sat at the end by his father, never letting go of Beth's wrist. She kept pulling, trying to get her hand back, but Keeran never let go. Dracula saw this and had to smile slightly to himself. The girl was trapped. It was the perfect revenge against her and her father.
"Now Keeran, you told me that they are already here." Dracula began conversationally. Beth didn't look at him when he spoke, even though her spirits lifted a little. Her friends were here, looking for her. Surely, it wouldn't be too long now.
"That is to be expected, of course." The vampire. "We have something very valuable to them. Did you avoid them?"
"Yes, I thought it'd be best." Keeran answered with a nod. "I know that stealth is key at the moment."
"Plus, Mori would've killed you on sight." Beth mumbled to herself. Keeran glared at her and the girl pretended not to notice. Her eyes were focused on the dancing flames in the fireplace. She did have to admit to herself, the heat felt nice. It was a shame that it was ruined by Keeran's touch.
"She has a point." Dracula said. He was thinking heavily by his expression. "Morianalynn is one of the best fighters I have ever seen."
"Is that her full name?" Keeran asked, sounding pleased. It was obvious that he was going to make fun of Mori for it later. Dracula nodded.
"Morianalynn Allanna Dragulia." He answered. Beth flinched at her best friend's full name. Her middle name is Allanna? She thought to herself. Oh, that's a terrible name. No wonder she prefers Mori Trice. Keeran nodded as he thought to himself.
"Good to know." He paused for a moment, thinking again. Beth could only hope that it hurt his head and he died from straining his brain too much. "I don't think that she's that powerful."
"She is." Beth cut in flatly. She had seen herself what Mori could do and it was down right frightening. It was a good thing she was one of the good guys. Keeran squeezed down on her wrist for her comment and Bethany winced. She tried to pull her hand away, but with no success. Keeran held her still, so the conversation continued.
"If Morianalynn is here, you can be sure Gabriel is around as well. Especially since we have Bethany." Dracula said. "She is very valuable to them."
Beth shuddered when Dracula talked about her as if she was property or a treasure of some kind. She felt the tips of her fingers tingle and go numb from how hard Keeran was squeezing down on her wrist. He was probably cutting off her circulation. She wiggled her fingers to make sure that they would still move. Keeran saw this and lessened his grip, but he still held on nonetheless.
"She is quite a treasure." Keeran agreed and glanced at Beth, who glared evilly back at him. She then turned away rather sharply to show that she was not fond of him. Keeran sighed and retuned his attention to his father.
"Now, what do you know about this William Larc boy?" Dracula asked Keeran, thinking of the member of the current threat that he wasn't familiar with.
"Will's here?" Beth asked before she could stop herself, her eyes darting to Keeran.
"Yes. He is." Keeran growled unhappily.
Beth almost allowed herself a small smile, but quickly stopped. No smirking, no looking smug, no emotions tied to Will. They'd kill him for sure if they knew how much she cared about him.
"He is a scientist. His interests lie mainly in chemistry." Keeran continued. He was obviously not happy about the current subject. "William is also a trainer for the Knights of the Holy Order. He is Carl's nephew as well."
"Oh yes." Dracula answered and then motioned for his son to continue. Keeran nodded and did as he was instructed.
"William is very good at making things explode, usually accidentally. He's also very good with chemicals. When it comes to his work, he's a bit obsessive."
"What about his fighting skills? And what does he know about vampires?" Dracula asked. If the boy's strength was in books, he wouldn't be much of a threat.
"I think Beth could better answer that." Keeran said smirking and turned to her.
"But that doesn't mean I'm going to." Bethany answered quickly and glared daggers at Keeran. She knew what was going on. Dracula was trying to figure out how much of a threat Will was to him and Keeran. If Dracula had enough information to deem him a threat, Will was done for. Bethany wasn't going to let that happen. She would do everything in her power to keep them away from her Will.
"Bethany," Keeran began and squeezed down on her wrist. "Answer us."
"No!" Beth retorted with no hesitation even though her wrist felt like it was breaking. She pulled against him. "Let go of me!"
Beth jerked her hand away, but Keeran still held firm. The girl continued to pull until Keeran finally let go. Beth stood up and stumbled away from him. She held herself and turned away. She wasn't here. Everything would be fine. She just had to hold on a little longer.
"Bethany," she heard Keeran say. She didn't respond and didn't care. She didn't move at all. Her head was pounding, but she didn't let it show. Her headaches and nightmares were growing stronger since she wasn't using her powers. They were finding their way out in other ways, like in her sleep and her headaches. It felt like there was so much pressure inside her that her head was about to split open. She just had to stay calm until it went away.
Keeran sighed and stood up. He went over to Beth and put a hand on her arm. Bethany shrugged it off the second she felt him. Dracula, who had been carefully watching this, had to smirk.
"Another headache, Bethany?" he asked from his seat. She could still hear the smirk in his voice. Beth felt her stomach tie itself into a knot and she bit down on her lower lip to keep from making any noise. Truthfully, she wanted to scream. She didn't answer, so he continued.
"It's getting harder and harder, isn't it? Almost so much it hurts. You try to keep it hidden, but it won't let you forget it. You're breaking, and you know it. It's breaking your will, your body and your very spirit. But you're so stubborn it's blinding you. So, you continue to torture yourself till it's tearing you up, eating at you from the inside out." His eyes never left her back. Beth could feel it.
Beth closed her eyes and balled her shaking hands up into fists. They were also shaking. They weren't shaking in fear, but in fury. Why did that bastard have to be right?!
"Beth, what are you hiding?" Keeran asked her. Beth didn't answer. She didn't even move. Keeran grew angry at her silence.
"Bethany!" he said and turned her around to face him. She quickly pushed him away.
"Don't touch me!" Beth snapped. She couldn't hold everything in and the more she let off her anger, the easier her control would come. Keeran moved toward her and, instead of backing up like he expected her to do, Beth stood her ground. Keeran stopped less than half a foot from her. Bethany just kept glaring at him, but she had to look up slightly since Keeran was taller. If looks could kill, Keeran wouldn't have been alive much longer.
"Do you think that you'll be saved? That your friends and your mentor will just appear by your side? Life doesn't always have a happy ending, Bethany. In the end, they will assume you dead and go back to Rome."
"They won't do that." Beth answered, a dangerous edge to her voice. Green fire flashed in her eyes. "Mori won't do it. Van Helsing definitely won't do it either."
"And why is that?" Keeran demanded harshly. "They way I see it, Van Helsing is an idiot who…"
"Haven't you been paying attention, Keeran!" Beth cut a rather shocked Keeran off. She was fighting to keep her powers under control as her eyes flared from her rage. "Van Helsing is not my mentor. He's my father."
Before she could see Keeran's reaction, Bethany moved past him to the far corner of the room. It was dark. All the better for hiding the angry tears forming in her eyes. She hugged herself and closed her eyes. She didn't know how much longer she could put up with this. She didn't know how long it would be till she cracked. Beth just managed to send up a silent prayer.
Heaven help me.
- - -
"Are you sure it was Keeran?" Van Helsing asked. Everyone was sitting in the library discussing what Mori, Jen and Will had just discovered on their little trip to the village. It hadn't been a pretty sight. There had been so much blood that Jen wouldn't go near the house.
"Yes." Mori answered gravely with a shallow nod. "Positive. The girl had two bite marks in her neck that matched the girl's at the Order."
"Then he's here." Anna half added, half asked. She was doing her best to understand this confusing situation. Gabriel had filled her and Jen in with the details about what had happened to Beth and why Keeran was such a threat to them and their people.
"Yes." Mori replied again. She was obviously thinking out loud for their benefit. "The question is where?"
"He wouldn't use Castle Dracula, would he?" Jen asked as she looked up at the dark huntress. Logan had his head in her lap and she was petting him to comfort herself. Logan didn't mind at all. He glanced up at his master, sharing the expectant look Jen had on her face. Mori shook her head.
"No. I looked there the first day we were here." The dark girl said as she continued to pace and think. She had indeed searched her father's former castle. It was completely empty. She had doubted that Keeran would reside there. It was far too obvious. He knew that Mori would come after Beth. Therefore, he hid her well. Also, she doubted that Keeran even knew how to get in there.
"Do we know when he'll strike again?" Carl asked. "If we could find some sort of pattern…"
"…we could intercept him." Will finished for his uncle. Carl nodded and the two focused on Mori.
Mori shook her head no once more. She sighed and then raised a glass filled with red liquid to her lips. She needed it right now. She knew she couldn't put it off anymore because she was getting irritable. Will raised an eyebrow once he saw what she was doing.
"You drink wine?" he asked. Mori almost smirked. Poor oblivious boy.
"Doesn't everyone?" The dark girl then drained the glass of it's contents. Van Helsing had to hide his small smile from Will. He remembered when he bought that story too. Of course, that hadn't lasted very long.
"Then what does anyone suggest we do?" Anna asked, taking the subject off what Mori drank.
"We look around Vaseria and spread out from there, the most obvious places first." Mori instructed as she set the empty glass on the table with a small clink. It wasn't much of a plan, but they couldn't afford to wait around any longer for Keeran to make the first move. People were dying. They needed to spring into action.
"When?" Carl inquired. Mori just glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. The frozen ice was flooded with determination. She didn't hesitate in her response.