Author's Note: Thank you for your reviews. Sorry for the long wait, I sort of got writer's block. No bueno.
Whisper to my heart
When hope is torn apart
And no one can save you
I walk alone
Every step I take
I walk alone
My winter storm
Holding me awake
It's never gone
When I walk alone.
—I Walk Alone, Tarja Turunen
Chapter Three - The Escape Of The Doll
Adamantis flattened his dark eyes. Creases formed in his forehead. Crimson light poured into the bedroom. Vanessa, golden tresses pooled under her head, slept soundly, lips wired into a firm scowl. Slumber was not serene for her. It was entertaining having her aware of his disgusting desire. His own lust revolted him beyond reason.
But no man could deny her beauty; the lustrous waves of gold that cascaded down her back, the dark eyelashes that caressed her cheeks upon blinking, and the full lips colored a natural pink. Her powder blue orbs would haunt anyone's mind for vast periods of time.
Yet, she needed to die, to perish.
Threading his slender fingers through his white tresses, he trudged out of the room, confounded. Briskly passing Catty's bedroom, her thoughts were silent from sleep. Peaceful imagry of Chris fluttered in and out of focus, rooted to her mind's eye. He smirked, recalling the destruction of the foolish young man, the one whom protected Catty, eventually falling deeply in love with the brunette beauty.
Chris, whom perished under Catty's doing.
A child, a servi, bowed, matted tendrils filthy and pasty-white skin spotted with dirt and dust. "Master, you have been called to the—" Adamantis flicked his hand, signaling for the boy to leave. Once the child vanished down the corridor, feet slapping against the wood, Adamantis breezily drifted into shadow, spewing out in the night.
Bring your servant! a frantic voice cried into his head. Cursing, he whipped back around and poured into the blonde's bedroom, promising to punish the stupid boy for his forgetfullness.
"Wake up," he commanded, jabbing her frail flesh harshly.
Her eyes fluttered open, dull and drained. After slipping out of bed, she rubbed her arms and backed away, terrified of close proximity. Smirking, he grasped her wrist and they morphed into nothing more than a plume of black shadows, slithering through the crimson skies, over buildings and houses. Street lamps flickerd on and off, the electricty buzzing in the air. Gargoyles grinned wickedly from every corner.
You'll get to see your little friend again, he sneered, to which she gasped, excited.
After several more moments, they entered the room, the "meeting area". She fell to her knees once transforming back into regular form. He merely glided past her, the hem of his cloak brushing against her side.
"Bastard," she mumbled sourly, limping to her feet and trailing behind. Other Cincti members eyed her pointedly, some with want, others with sheer contempt. A curtain of blonde veiled her face as she lowered her head. Adamantis glared haughtily at Lucian, who's yellowish orbs were trained on the blonde Goddess.
Stanton formed, shadows whipping around his feet. Vanessa's eyes were glued to the curly-haired girl situated behind him. Adamantis, with a roll of his eyes, observed the two as they embraced, savoring one another's touch, realizing they weren't alone in this God forsaken slum known as Nefandus.
The Atrox is disturbed, Demetrius sent, projecting the thought into his mind.
The air thrummed with a strange tinge of malicious agitation. That same wispy vapor of shadows, hovering near the corner, sparked with outrage—a more so confused rage.
"I will convert those two Goddesses into Followers," the Atrox announced in a commanding tone, one not to be challenged. "Perhaps, if desired, members of the Cincti. I will not have them prancing about, alive and hopeful and strong with their powers still active, if not dormat at the moment. It seems as though some of you prefer them alive."
Adamantis swallowed the lump in his throat. "When, master? And... why?"
"I propose in three days, in the... Elysium Fields..."
Several gasped, stunned by the words. The Elysium Fields was not the sacred paradise of the virtuous and noble refered to in Greek mythology. Indeed, the name was derived and taken by the Heavenly myth. But these Elysium Fields were a sacred ground in Nefandus, resting far away from the forests and the houses.
It was scorched, nothing but black. Many, many centuries ago, several Daughters—including a past heir to the scroll—managed to access this world, in a brazen attempt to rescue a fallen comrade. A vicious battle had ensued between the Daughters and several rogue Followers—ones severely against the Atrox and its evil nature—against the people of Nefandus.
Three of the Daughters had died on the field, one of which escaped. Other Cincti members had, too, fallen, under the terrible rebellion of fellow members. It was a horrible battle; a field drenched in blood and reeking of cold death.
It was a symbol of evil and good uniting under one force, one devestating force in which more than two dozen lives were lost. It was dubbed by the rogue Followers as the Elysium Fields, and dispite the distaste of its meaning by the Atrox and its Followers, it remained in place.
And it was an area no one dare venture.
"I will intiate the frigidus ignis for the telepathic one"—Serena glimpsed at Vanessa, eyebrows pinched in distress and dread—"and the blonde one will be converted into a Follower that same time, that same day. I'm certain they'll be delighted by their new lives."
Adamantis slunk into Serena's mind, observing as memories of the past surged through her. It seemed... odd. Her memories, her thoughts, were fuzzy, unreachable, except for the one she was bringing up—herself as a Witch Goddess, wicked and devious and demenetd. A being devoid of human emotions. Love. But why was her mind so chaotically untouchable? His gaze instantly shifted to Stanton, staring into space, completely lost in his own thoughts.
"No," Vanessa whispered, whimpering slightly.
"A Witch Goddess—a Fallen Goddess." Lucian was musing, enjoying the concept of a loosened, more uncaring version of the telepathic one. Demetrius and several others examined Vanessa, imagining the dark tint of evil in her blue orbs, primal and raw.
Adamantis rubbed his temples. "Three days..."
The Atrox slithered off, the tendrils whipping about; even the Cincti members noticed the shift in the atmosphere, less icy cold and thick. Serena leaned against Vanessa, breathing shallow. Followers began conversing, whispering, eyeing one another and the Goddesses. Vanessa hooked her arm around Serena's, the two clinging together.
"Come on," he order harshly, clasping the blonde's upper arm. She twisted, but immediately halted the struggle; wistfully staring at Serena before allowing herself to be towed off. The two were extremely close, the months spent together in that rotten room twisting their once fluid friendship into a solid thread of sisterhood and comradeship: as if they'd spent an entire world war together!
Adamantis enjoyed the feel of her against him as they glided through the skies; her soft blonde hairs touching his chin, the cool feel of her smooth arms. Her back pressed against his chest as he held onto her, bodies melded into shadow.
Vanessa shivered, still haunted by the Atrox's words.
He couldn't help but smirk. She could resist evil for too long. No one could.
Stanton trudged down the hallways of the mansion. He and Serena hadn't spoken a word, nonetheless even glanced at one another, after that little meeting. Both were terrified. Serena, as a Witch Goddess, a lecta, wouldn't be Serena. She'd be something dangerous, a woman wicked and desiring nothing but the life of sin and pleasure, from murder, to decpetion, to promiscuous sex.
She wouldn't love.
Sighing, he leaned against a wall, arms folded across his chest. This was something neither could evade. He could try and escape with her, but once in Los Angeles, Regulators would be relentless in their search... and Serena would not abandon her friend, her sister. Escaping, they would eventually be captured and executed, and remaining here, she'd become something that would only use him, not love him.
So either way, he'd lose her.
His fingers trembled, and his chest seemed hollow, aching. It stung, wounding his heart and mind.
"You're not good at keeping secrets," a silky voice commented.
Stanton craned his neck. Yvonne, a newly formed member of the Inner Circle—having committed even worse atrocities—, lingered just inches away, strawberry-blonde tresses pinned into a touseled bun.
"What?" he questioned, voice low and exasperated.
"I don't even need to go into your mind, which is something I'd never do, anyway," she continued, smirking coyly, "but I was just cruising through Nefandus, enjoying the sights and... You two aren't that... quiet... or sublte, for that matter." She flickere her hand dismissively. "Then again, who am I to talk. Guys used to make fun of me for it." She simpered.
Stanton's eyes narrowed. "Yvonne. You have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh, I have every idea. I know Adamantis threatened the little Goddess, and I know that you're screwing her anyway." She shook her head, as if scorning a child. "Stanton, I would never tell, but this has got to stop. Adamantis is dangerous, even you know that. If he gets a reason to destroy her, he'll go straight to the Atrox and have it done. Simple."
"I know that!" he snapped, looking away.
She sighed. "Don't get pissy with me. I'm trying to help. You need to stop with your little sessions of 'love'"—she scoffed at this, rolling her eyes—"and leave that Goddess be. An Immortal Goddess to you is better than a dead one."
He gritted his teeth. In truth, he'd rather have Serena as a Fallen Goddess, toying with him, ignoring his affections, than rotting six feet under the ground, dead and nothing more than a spirit he'd never see again.
"See, you're catching on, Stanton."
"I'll ignore her then." He shrugged.
"That's obviously not working." Yvonne snorted. "And even then, can she ignore you? Even if for the sake of her own life, she's a foolish young girl with too many hormones and emotions. Why not make her believe she's nothing...? And not just say it, as done before, but actually give live proof? A... visual aid, of sorts, I suppose."
He arched an eyebrow. "Visual aid? What does that even mean?"
"Imply that you were using her through living proof."
"You already have something in mind, am I right?" he challenged petulantly. She flipped her blonde tresses over her shoulder and rolled her shoulders into a nonchallant shrug. However, she smiled smugly. Twisting into her mind, he discovered her plans, so terribly disturbing but full proof in the end; such a wicked ache that could stab Serena in the heart without much effort on either party's part.
Yvonne touched his cheek, retracting her mind from his powers. "I'm not trying to protect the two of you. But something about Adamantis..." She scowled, maliciousness carving onto her face. Many, in fact, distrusted and despised the conniving man. "He's dangerous, and he's even more ambitious than Lambert, of all people! But unlike the treacherous Lambert, Adamantis seems to be going smoothly on with his plan without conflict." She frowned at him. "You're just helping him along, and all for a weak little Goddess."
Stanton grimaced. "She's my life."
"Oh, don't be so melodramatic." Yvonne flicked her hand dismissively before smirking grimly. "So you know the plan?"
His chest emptied of emotion, heart aching, but despite the pain splintered through him, he nodded once before trudging off; ignoring the icy pressure crushing his heart. A lump formed in his throat as he pressed into the bedroom, instantly seeing Serena perched at the end of the bed, her emerald eyes trained on the floor.
"Goddess," he spoke evenly in a commanding, callous tone.
She snapped her head up, stunned, and her eyes tightened at the cold expression on his face.
Always the perceptive one, he thought, aching.
Vanessa pressed her forehead against the stone wall, wishing to be released from Nefandus and resting in her own bedroom back in Los Angeles. The evil of the place pushed against her, trying to force itself inside her. Resisting, she crouched down, arms snaking around herself. Her eyes burned, and she could feel the hollow gape in her chest.
"Vanessa," a calm voice spoke. Catty's voice, in fact.
The blonde scoffed at the quiet tone. "What?"
"Aren't you supposed to have hope?" her once friend demanded in a hushed whisper. "Aren't you supposed to be a Daughter of the Moon, the embodiement of hope and compassion and faith?"
"Aren't you?" she snapped.
Catty sighed solemnly. "Vanessa... You need to get a hold of yourself. This is Nefandus, and sobbing and wishing isn't going to get you anywhere." She kneeled beside the blonde, once cold brown orbs a glittering and spirited almond color. "You can do much more than you think. I'll help—"
"What's your fucking problem?" Vanessa shouted, tearing away and on her feet, to which the brunette also stood. "One minute we're about to attack each other and the next you want to help me! Like your on my side, on Serena's side!" Curling her fingers into her palm, she whipped around and marched to the corner of the bedroom, feet slapping on the wooden floor. "Fuck off."
"Calm down," Catty soothed, "I can explain everything—show you everything."
Vanessa snorted. "Like I'd let you in my mind. You'd probably trap me or something, Follower." She spat the name.
"I don't need your permission," the brunette whispered dangerously. "And you have to believe that I'm still your best friend, your sister. I can't keep up with this facade any longer, especially with what was announced. My father told me, and I've already witnessed the memory through your mind." Vanessa gasped, wondering how Catty slipped into her mind without awareness.
"You want to believe me," Catty continued, inching closer to the blonde, who's eye were clamped shut as she shook her head back and forth. "But this place, this horrid dimension, has destroyed your hope—your hope in everything. Inside you, in the back of your heart, you know I'm telling the truth, you just can't help but refuse because you've become reserved, distrusting, and cold."
Vanessa gripped the skin over her heart, breathing unevenly. "Get out of my head." Her words were raspy and dry, and she ducked her head, a curtain of blonde veiling her face from Catty's view.
"Please, Vanessa," she begged. The blonde remained stoic, to which she sighed. "I'll show you then..."
Vanessa felt herself being tugged, an odd pressure clawing at her skull. An unwilling haziness clouded her vision, outlined by sparks of white energy, and she felt out of place, just a soul lingering out of a body. She was witnessing as Catty, pressed against a wall, swore to protect Vanessa against the vile Adamantis; the brunette and Stanton speaking quietly to one another about those they love and the charade that was builet, a maddening masquerade that hurt wholly in every part of the soul.
"We need to get them out of here," Catty whispered, voice throaty and drained of life. Stanton, toying with a necklace, merely frowned in a grim response, touseled blonde hairs hanging over his luminous blue orbs, so dull and listlessly emotionless.
Catty sported traditional, average clothing, a simple jean skirt with a double-layer of pink and orange tank tops. Her chestnut-brown tresses framed her oval-shaped face; a face pinched with exhaust and heartache.
"Of course we do," he replied, and she flinched at the lack of emotion present in his voice. It wasn't his usual deep and unintentionally sensual sounding voice, but one of lonliness, malice, and supressed rage. "But there's really no way for it to be possible."
Impossible, it was. She just didn't want to admit it, and even Vanessa knew, who observed the scene and emotions and thoughts through Catty's mind. The memory vanished, so abruptly that she stumbled backward, smacking into the wall. Catty, gliding toward her friend, towed her to her feet. A gasp escaped her mouth as the blonde's scrawny arm wound around her, fingers digging into her brown mane.
"Vanessa," Catty breathed, relieved; the once ache in her heart shattering and being replaced by a euphoric pleasantness that expanded all through her body. Embracing, the Daughter couldn't help but shed tears, the salty little streams slinking down her cheeks and dampening Catty's robe. But just as Vanessa retracted from the hug, a stinging sensation coated Catty's cheek.
"The hell?" she gasped, cupping her scarlet-painted cheek as it burned.
Vanessa, hand still raised, smirked coyly. "That's for being a mega bitch for the past weeks."
"You slapped me!"
The blonde merely shrugged and rubbed her arms soothingly. A cold chill whistled in through the open window. "What are we going to do about this situation?" she questioned grimly.
"I'm not sure yet. I'll talk with Stanton later, and see."
"Stanton," Vanessa mused, completely intrigued by the Follower who acted differently. "I wonder what he thinks about the situation?"
Serena laced her trembling fingers through her smooth curls, desperately trying to ignore the numbing ache spreading through her body. An icy pain shot down her spine, near paralyzing her. Stanton's awful words echoed through her mind, over and over, and the callous expression on his handsome, stony face haunted her vision.
Using her for pleasure, he had stated. It was realistic, seeing as she had originally egged him on. Yet, the countless encounters of tender affection contradicted this proclamation of his.
Sighing, she briskly exited the bedroom, intent on washing her gown, when she halted, mid-step. Blood drained from her face, the circulation staunching upon a sight that constricted her throat. Grief and jealousy stabbed her chest, creating a massive hole to which all her emotions spilled forth. The desire to flee erupted, but she remained rooted to the spot.
I hate this place, was her intial thought, devestatingly struck by infuriation, as Stanton's lips peppered the neck of Yvonne; the delicate flesh of that frail curve, delicious skin. The two were consumed in that moment of tender passion, a fleeting sensation for the two of them. Their fingers intertwined, eyelids cealed shut, physical contact emenating a warm glow of attraction.
Whipping around, Serena staggered into the bedroom once more, his words once again bouncing all around in her head. Despite the growing ache, she couldn't weep nor scream. Instead, she flopped down on the edge of the bed, a final conclusion coming to mind: that he, indeed, from the start, merely was using her. Or perhaps, after his plunge into the evil he had chosen, thus becoming Prince of the Night, Stanton had vanquished his human emotions and toyed with her the entire way.
And she, the foolish teenage girl, played along, cheerful and jubilant to the fact that someone loved her. It was a concept—to love and be loved in return—everyone lusted after, and she recalled her blood boiling when he'd first spoken the words.
"I hate this place," she hissed through her teeth. She was losing herself in the darkness of her own mind. The wickedness she'd supressed since that fateful night stirred, a chilling tremor of various sensations erupting in her soul. She could feel the electrifying energy spiraling through her system, rewiring the mechanisms of her heart and mind.
Maybe... maybe becoming a Dark Goddess, a fallen one, was not such a disdainful thing. These useless, pathetic emotions would cease to exist, replaced by a vicious pulse of life and love for all that is thrilling, from sinful acts to constant sex—which she found she enjoyed very much. She'd be completely driven by evil, and heartache would never again lodge itself inside her heart.
"Immortality," she whispered.
She could obtain this high-ranking status, using it to her advantage, striking at every one of Stanton's weaknesses, eventually exposing him and replacing him; she, in turn, becoming Princess of the Night. To possess such devestating powers was delightful sounding.
With renewed energy, she hummed to herself while bathing that night, hands smoothing along her arms and legs. Once dry and her curls soft and bouncy, yet flowing down her back in sexy spirals, she slipped into the gown and lithely began fluffing the pillows of the sofa, knowing it'd be her bed. At the same time, Stanton trudged into the room, shoulders slouched and complexion... ill. Curiosity overwhelmed her.
"Glad to see you comprehend," Stanton sneered, eyeing her new bed.
Serena merely pursed her lips and sang little tunes in her head, sometimes imagining her cello; playing it lovingly and with talented preciseness. Stanton, frowning, continued on toward the bed, stripping off his shirt. With a roll of her eyes, she laid down on the feathery soft sofa, wrapping a silky blanket around her fragile form.
"Good night," she said mockingly.
His agitation decorated the air, to which she smirked.
Being Princess of the Night would be amazing, from the stature and power. To be in command of ever evil being belonging to the Atrox, from meager little Followers—the ones who craved a position in the Cincti—to the brute Regulators. All the terrible nights spent in Nefandus clenching her heart, and she could feel her blood scorching through her.
"Your thoughts are trivial and useless," Stanton stated from the bed, to which she perched down on the sofa, a wicked smile carved onto her face. A tremor of dread quaked in his tone, and she detected it easily. It would be simple to just deliver the information that could destroy him in a heartbeat.
"... Are they?" she whispered coarsely, a rush of sorrow slamming into her. What would Collin and Jimena think of her now, plotting to strip her ex-lover of his position and existence—for he would surely be executed—and become the second-in-command to the being she swore to destroy? She was drowning in all the possibilites, switching from Serena to the darker, sadistic version; the one desiring not to feel such pitiful human emotions. Everything about Nefandus was corrupting her soul... twisting her humanity into some icy abyss, and she felt nothing but a black void in her heart.
How was Vanessa fairing, always weaker when it came to such temptation?
Catty grinned beamingly as she and Vanessa waltzed around to room, her black robe flapping about. Old tunes billowed from some ancient records, and both girls trembled with supressed laughter as they attempted to remain in step. The once crimson light was shielded by thick curtains, unable to enter the room in which only the warm glow of candle flames licked their skin and eneveloped the bedroom.
"My father made me learn how to waltz," the brunette shouted excitedly, giggling straight afterward. "He said I should be more sophisticated!"
Vanessa shook her head from side to side. "Why did you choose to be the man?"
"'Cause I'm less girly," she responded in a high voice threaded with the rapture of the moment. They burst out laughing and twirled once more, a few steps, before both slumping to the floor, exhausted. Catty reached over and swept several strands of gold away from Vanessa's eyes, to which the blonde smiled gratefully and fell onto her back. The Follower mirrored the action.
"This is very forbidden, isn't it?"
Catty frowned. "Yeah. I'm suppose to hate you, Goddess." The faux vindictiveness brought tremors to Vanessa, who felt it to be very real, despite knowing the truth. "But I guess... I don't know what to do anymore!" She flayed her arms dramatically. "I can't keep this a secret. No way, man. But I think... I think he wouldn't do anything... I don't fucking know! With you guys becoming not Daughters in three days, I don't think he'd give a fuck!"
"What's his deal, anyway?" Vanessa questioned, rubbing the nape of her neck. "He has one plan after the other. What are they?"
"I'm sure he wants Stanton dead, and his position as Prince of the Night," Catty responded, her petulant tone directed toward her father. "And he wants... other things, as well." The Daughter shifted uncomfortably. "He's just so confusing and ambitious, it's hard to keep up. I barely have time to plot anymore. The portals open tonight." She rolled to her side, staring into Vanessa's eyes. "I'm sure I can get you there... and Serena, maybe."
Vanessa pursed her lips. "Maybe...?"
"I wouldn't be able to take you, find Serena, and then leave with the both of you. By the time I would be heading to Serena, someone—Adamantis or some traveling Follower—would find out, would see my thoughts, and then there's a mad chase." She shook her head. "Too risky."
"Risky! That's all we've ever been!"
Catty sighed. "We can't be now, Vanessa. Your lives are at risk. A world without the Daughters..." Biting her lower lip, she clasped her hands together, and Vanessa noticed them shaking. "I need to get you out tonight—the both of us, actually. We need to live... You need to live."
"What about Serena?!" she demanded, jumping to her feet and glaring down at Catty. "We're just gonna leave her here?"
The brunette, sliding to her feet, fumed. "We have to! One of you has to stay alive, a Daughter of the Moon! Because I can get you out of here, it'll be you!"
"Can't Stanton get Serena out of here, too?"
"I spoke to him about it." She rubbed her temples, calculating now as she paced from one side of the room to the next. "He seemed... unsure. He wants to be with her so badly, and mean desperately... but if he managed to leave with her, their lives would be on the line. He doesn't want to live a life where he has to protect the both of them constantly. He doesn't want to watch as their caught and she's brutally tortured."
"What about us?" Vanessa hissed, eyes narrowed. "We'd be hunted down, too, and you don't see us whining about it!"
Catty grimaced. "He's blinded by love, the moron. He's too in love, to the point where decision making on any basis concerns him and Serena, always.
"... And I'll go to him." With that, the brunette vanished, dissolving into shadow. Vanessa, breathing raggedly, perched down on the bed and folded her arms across her chest. A tingling sensation sparked in her blood., the same emotion Michael once triggered. Why did it please her so much to know how much Catty was going through in order to ensure her protection and survival?
It felt so heart-warming.
Stanton, trudging down the hallway, glowered at his own feet. Not soon later, another presence filled the room, and he swiveled around, already expecting the dark-haired girl to be strolling toward him. Her lips were pressed into a firm line, dark brown tresses framing her stoic face. Dark orbs glimmered with a plethora of emotions. Heaving a sigh, he marched on over to her, to which she remained in her furious stance.
"I'm going to escape with Vanessa tonight, when the portal opens. I advise you do the same with Serena, if you want her to be the same in the next three days."
He scowled furiously. "That's suicide, for all of us. You can't expect me to—"
"I don't know. All I know is that I'm leaving, with Vanessa, very, very soon. There's no use in trying to persuade me not to." She crossed her arms, hip cocked in a petulant manner as he glared haughtily at her. "Don't get pissy with me, just 'cause I have a plan and you're too busy moping around."
"I can't just leave so easily," he snapped, "I know I'm being watched by those loyal to Adamantis. I have those who fear me, not those who support me." His eyes shifted to the high windows, stretching to the everlong ceiling of the hallway. Shimmering burgundy light spilled across the marble floor, and illuminated the darkness passing over his face. He was observing the shadows twirling through the night, slipping around pinnacles and sharp points.
"Yes!" She clasped her hands and grinned ear-to-ear. "I knew you would! You act like it's completely impossible."
"I'm acting like it's too easy," he stated in a gruff voice. "It's a terrible idea, I can feel it."
Catty frowned. "Feel it? We can manage. Trust me." With that, her form burst into shadow, seeping through the cracks in the window, and rising up above into the night. As she glided away, his voice echoed through her mind, a final thought before she kissed Nefandus goodbye.
You must know, if I had a chance months ago when the portals opened, I would have taken it... Why would I consider now? Ask yourself that, before you make your brazen move, Catty... Why would we choose now, when many chances were given previously?
She swallowed the lump in her throat, understanding lingering in her head for a short while before she regathered her courage and continued onward; ignoring the horribly sickening towers and buildings looming over her, casting an ominous glow across the area.
Was it too easy...?