Ok, I'm not even sure why I'm writing another story. I'm just so freakin' impatient for Spirit Bound to come out already. I read the excerpt like yesterday so...I couldn't help myself! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. I'm trying to make it as realistic as possible, including how (sadly) evil and cruel Strigoi Dimitri could be and even adding in Rose giving Adrian a chance (which I don't support at all). Hopefully the book will be a lot better than this.
Disclaimer: If I owned anything, Dimitri would be my prisoner.
WARNING: The letter belongs to Richelle Mead. I didn't write it. If you haven't read the first chapter of Spirit Bound, I suggest not reading this.
Everybody live like it's the last day you will ever see
Tell me, tell me, do you feel the pressure now?
DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE you've been asleep for weeks—like you're going through the motions of your life, without really living it? That's what I've been doing the past about 12 weeks; 84 days; 2,016 hours. And it's not like I'm in shock. It took at least two days for it to really register in my head that I hadn't killed Dimitri Belikov—the man I loved, the man that haunted my every breath. After I finally realized what I hadn't done—with help from the lovely letter he left me—a storm of emotions thundered inside of me. I was swelled with disappointment that I had failed. I hadn't freed Dimitri's soul that I had risked my future and life to do. Those months of practice with him had come down to absolutely nothing. Sure, I killed dozens of other Strigoi to get to him, but none of those other bodies mattered when it added up to how much strength I really had. It was my greatest challenge and I didn't pass.
Then, the relief kicked in. Dimitri—in a way—was still alive. If I hadn't known there was a way, a very long-shot way, possibly a lie, of returning him to a dhampir, this news would have frightened me. It did—but not as much as it could have. I had hope; a chance to get what I wanted more than anything: My happy ending. This practically impossible ending resulted in being Lissa's guardian and with Dimitri, both of us dhampirs. Everyone knew I was pretty realistic, so believing that those two things could happen was a miracle for me. But, if I didn't have any faith, it wouldn't happen. Holding onto my last shred of hope was all I had left.
Abruptly, a knock thumped from the door of my dorm room. I still couldn't believe I was back at St. Vladimir's. Somehow, I always ended up here again. Ironically inescapable. I leaped off my bed and swung open the door, revealing a very excited Lissa—my best friend in the entire world and the last Dragomir princess. We shared more than friendship though. I could feel the anticipation fused with worry bleeding into me through our bond. It was a long, complicated story, but after an accident that killed Lissa's family and me, somehow she was able to bring me back to life with the rarity of Spirit magic.
You see, in my world, there are two different types of vampires: Moroi—which is what Lissa is—and Strigoi. The Moroi are the "good guys" that only take some, harmless amount of blood from willing humans. They get weak in sunlight instead of incinerating like Strigoi and have the ability to control one of the 5 elements: Water, Earth, Fire, Air, and Spirit. Until recently, Spirit was basically unheard of, but it was element Lissa specialized in which enabled her to use her healing powers to bring me back to life. Strigoi are an entirely different category. It what Dimitri sadly is now. They're the sinister, twisted vampires that mercilessly kill the prey they drink from. With sickly pale skin and blood red eyes, they could easily give you nightmares. Only one of them did—and I think you can guess which one. After Lissa resurrected me from the dead, I could constantly feel her emotions like they were my own and sometimes even slip into her head and experience her life. Yeah, it wasn't a pleasant thing, but it proved to be useful a couple of times. These past 2 years have been hard and we're still struggling with all the side-effects of me being her shadow-kissed best friend/almost guardian.
Standing in my doorway, Lissa beamed and I knew we both felt that everyday relief at seeing each other. I had left for an entire month once to hunt down Dimitri in Russia, dropping out of school and leaving Lissa behind. Leaving had left physical and emotional pain to both of us. Being apart from each other was like having something literally cut off from ourselves. I would never do that to her (or myself) again. Her smile was enthusiastic and assuring. Sometimes I wondered if the bond was partially both ways. Or maybe Lissa just knew me that well. Knew that her optomistic attitude is one of the few things that can get me through these days without breaking down. That was vice versa of course, considering how with me being shadow-kissed, we could balance each other. It was that friendship and trust that kept us from turning out like Saint Vladimir and Anna. "Hey, are you ready?"
I genuinely thought about it. "No, not really." Lissa's expression made me laugh. But I was being honest. Today was probably the biggest day of my entire life and I wasn't so sure how I felt about it. If I failed this test...I wouldn't even let the thought develop. We were just one week away from graduation and today's events could either make me or break me, literally speaking when it came to my future. Not only would I have an entire waiting list of people who would murder me (including Dimitri and my mother) but I would probably beat myself up over it forever. Now, it's not like my self-esteem suddenly deflated, it's just arrogance will only be your downfall in this. But hey, no pressure right?
Like she could read my thoughts, Lissa's features morphed into something more compassionate and kind instead of panicked. "Rose, you'll be amazing, like always. Don't even worry about it." Her words were soothing and I felt her calming thoughts purposefully pour into me. Unfortunately, they did nothing to help my nerves. If I wasn't living in a sleep, I was on the edge most days. It ached to think that my life would consist of this worry and pain all the time now. Olena's words echoed that: "It gets better, but you'll never be the same." How true that was. Ever since Mason had confirmed that Dimitri was Strigoi...well I hadn't been the same. Guilt consumed me. I knew it wasn't exactly my fault he had been turned, but if I hadn't suggested the rescue mission, things would have been drastically different. I would live with that realization for the rest of my life.
My thoughts were dark, but I smiled anyway for my best friend's sake. "Thanks Liss," My eyes wandered back to the piece of paper that burned to even think about, but it was reeling me in like a magnet. How could he still do this to me? Why was my heart being so damn stubborn and stupid? "I'll meet you on the field. I've got the handle something first." I explained but my thoughts were elsewhere. More like go torture myself.
Lissa nodded, complerely oblivious and still cheerful. "Sure, see you down there." I hated keeping anything from her. She knew about Dimitri now, including all the gory details about my little detour to Russia, and I even told her about my next big mission—breaking Victor Dashkov out of jail. He was our ultimate enemy who had commited unforgivable crimes towards Lissa and I and plenty of others last fall, which consisted of torturing Lissa and deluding his own daughter into turning Strigoi. To say Lissa was afraid of him was a major understatement. We both were terrified, but I knew I had to go through with this, had to give this crazy idea a shot. Lissa agreed to accompany on my next mission, but she wasn't too thrilled about it. That made two of us.
I watched her disappear down the hallway before shutting the door and scuffled back to my bed. I inhaled a keen breath, my fingers itching to hold it in my hands again. "Good God, I'm so masochistic." I grumbled before I read over the letter again. I was on my 6th time. It arrived at the perfect time, not that I should have expected any less from him.
My dearest Rose,
One of the few downsides to being awakened is that we no longer require sleep; therefore we also no longer dream. It's a shame because if I could dream, I know I'd dream about you. I'd dream about the way you smell and how your black hair feels like silk between my fingers. I'd dream about the smoothness of your skin and the fierceness of your lips when we kiss. Without dreams, I have to be content with my own imagination—which is almost as good. I can picture all of those things perfectly, as well as how it'll be when I take your life from this world. It's something I regret having to do, but you've made my choice inevitable. Your refusal to join me in eternal life and love leaves no other course of action, and I can't allow someone as dangerous as you to live. Besides, even if you were turned against your will, you now have so many enemies among the Strigoi that one of them would kill you.
If you must die, it'll be by my hand. No one else's. Nonetheless, I wish you well today as you take your trials—not that you need any luck. If they're actually making you take them—and I have no doubt they are—it's a waste of everyone's time. You're the best in the group, and by this evening you'll wear your promise mark. Of course, that means you'll be all that much more of a challenge when we meet again—which I'll definitely enjoy. And we will meet again. With graduation, you'll be turned out of the Academy, and once you're outside the wards, I'll find you. There is no place in this world you can hide from me. I'm watching.
His words stirred a mixture of misplaced pleasure and pain inside of me. It wasn't his first letter and definitely not his last. But sending them had become a weekly routine. I tried to not dwell too much on the threat and of course fact he was watching. It didn't surprise me—that much—that Dimitri had spies. After, with my help, he killed off his boss, Dimitri had sort of become the leader of the Strigoi at that estate. Of course no Strigoi could stalk me 24/7 on the school grounds, but that didn't rule out the numerous humans willing to do so in return for eternal life. It sickened and saddened me to think those humans would do anything for a chance at becoming immortal. They didn't understand their sacrifice.
Swallowing, I shook off these thoughts and my boiling emotions. I was already running late. Like the letter mentioned, today was the day of my trials; the tests that would make me an official guardian and earn that promise mark. Sudden eagerness bubbled up in me. I tossed the disturbing letter back on my bed and rushed out of my room. There would be no distractions. Not today. I couldn't afford them. By the time I reached the field just by the dorms, I managed to calm my hands of their trembling and caught up with Lissa. She smiled and threw an arm over my shoulder supportively. She didn't have to say anything. Her comfort was shining through her thoughts and emotions as clear enough as if she'd been screaming them. I shoved my tangled thoughts of Dimitri to the back of my mind and took in my surroundings.
For today's final trials, one of the school's sports fields has been turned into a challenging obstacle course. It was enveloped by bleachers, packed with students and even some parents that wanted to have a front row seat for today's events. Honestly, the whole place looked like some Roman gladiator arena. Banners hung from high surfaces, colorful and flapping in the wind. I couldn't get a good look, but I knew there was a specific area for the novices to wait before they took their turn. The thought of it all made my stomach twist with butterflies—but they were the good kind. I could feel the adrenaline start to trickle through me.
Lissa's voice broke through the semi-silence. It wasn't completely quiet because of all the cheering and chatter coming from the stadium. "Can you believe we'll be done with high school next week?" I could tell by her voice alone that she was having some sort of ephiphany. I let her continue. "I mean, college is like right around the corner. We're basically adults now. I can't believe it. All of this is just...happening so fast." She gave a warm smile. "But I'm glad you're here with me, Rose. Not just as my guardian or my shadow-kissed friend but my best friend. It's so amazing that we're both here again, together."
Her words were touching but I gave her a light punch before things got too mushy for me to handle. "You sound like some speech about hope or something, Liss. You're making me feel all fuzzy and nauseous as the same time." This made her laugh of course. I smiled too, but it quickly melted. Her words brought a new round of troubles to my mind. My guardian. That wasn't a fact. At one point, it was, but now it might not even be a possibility. No matter how badass I could be with fighting and protecting Lissa, Queen Tatiana wasn't exactly on board with giving me that title. Dropping out of school and running away twice doesn't help the futile situation either. Crap, I was losing my excited buzz.
Lissa noticed my transformation immediately. She frowned. "What's wrong?"
"It's just...the future really isn't set in stone, Liss."
She understood what I was talking about. She tried to appear confident, but worry was ablaze in her, as much as me. "Alberta thinks there's a good chance you'll still be my guardian." Lissa argued, as if that mattered. "And even if Tatiana doesn't want you to be protecting me, I'm sure I can convince her otherwise." I wasn't sure if she was talking about compulsion (which under the circumstances, I wouldn't have minded) or just her natural persuasiveness, but Lissa switched subjects. "Don't worry about that right now, ok? Today's your day to prove to everyone how much you derseve this."
Her words truly made me smile. After opening up about everything, I really felt closer to Lissa. It was so much easier to talk to her about things and now it wasn't just about her problems anymore. We were getting better at this balance thing. I gave her a quick hug. "Thanks," I felt the delight in cheering me up sweep over her. She was used to it being the opposite way, but loved helping me when she could. We kept walking and my old recklessness resurfaced when I said, "You're right. We'll be outta here soon and off into the real world."
Istantly Lissa stiffened beside me. Oops. I hadn't realized the double meaning in my words. Being "off into the real world" was a reminder of the promise Lissa made to help me with the "Victor Operation". While in Siberia a couple of months ago, I stumbled across another spirit user-shadow kissed pair and they gave me the startling possibility of turning a Strigoi back to their original form. They had told me repeatedly that this was most likely a lie that another crazy spirit user had told them, but I couldn't just let it go. This alleged "trasformer" was Robert Doru, Victor Dashkov's half brother. With help from my newly discovered father—it still made me shudder—we had found out the only person who knew where Robert was was Victor. It was a simple equation. If we wanted the information, we had to give Victor the only thing he wanted: Freedom.
I realized it might not even matter. The plan was far from foolproof. First, I didn't know if Robert even knew what he was talking about. That was kind of a big part. Second, how the hell does one stage a prison break anyway? Even if I could do it, I wasn't sure where the prison was exactly. And finally, in doing this, we'd been releasing our mortal enemy. It was honestly the stupidest and most reckless thing Rose Hathaway could come up with, but as always, I was going to give it a shot and see what happened.
I started to fix the awkward silence placed between us, but was interruped by Stan marching over. "Hathaway!" He growled but his tone shifted to horribly sarcastic. "I hate to end this fascinating conversation you two are having, but we have some trails to do. Get in here, NOW!" I gave Lissa a 5 second hug—a hug 5 seconds too long, according to the look on Stan's face before following him out to the section of field organized for the waiting novices. My heart was pounding hard in my chest, I could practically feel it against my skin. The rush was returning, throbbing through my veins. But as I took a look around at the others, sadness clouded over me. Some of my classmates were doing warm-up excercises and stretching, others whispering in huddled groups, but most of them stood with their mentors.
The teachers gave their students reassuring words of advice we all needed. The sight made my heart constrict. It felt like an eternity ago when I pictured this day. I imagined Dimitri and I standing together with him telling me to take this seriously and stay focused and calm. Alberta had been my short-termed mentor when I returned from Russia, but as head guardian, she was much too busy with other things than to come hold my hand. I was alone. Without her or Dimitri, I felt the surprising ache of lonliness spread over me. Dimitri should have been here with me. That's how it was supposed to be. I fought the coming tears and closed my eyes, allowing myself to create my own universe where he was here, only inches away. (AN: These are Mead's lines, not mine!)
"Don't worry, comrade. I can do this blindfolded. Hell, maybe I actually will. Do you have anything I can use? If you're nice to me, I'll even let you tie it on." Seeing as this fantasy would have taken place after we'd slept together and decided we could make things work, there was a strong possibility that he would have later helped me take off that blindfold—among other things. I could perfectly picture the exasperated head shake that would earn me. "Rose, I swear, sometimes it feels like everyday with you is mine own personal trial." But I know he'd smile anyway and the look of pride and encouragement he'd give me as I headed toward the field would be all I needed to get through these tests—
Damn it! How could it be even when Dimitri wasn't here, he distracted me? It was Alberta who called me, her voice ringing loud and clear. It was like a trumpet, a call to battle. All thoughts of Lissa, our future, Victor, and yes, even Dimitri perished from my mind. Everything around my faded as I strode onto the field. I think I heard Lissa shout goodluck from somwhere, standing with Adrian and other people, but I wouldn't have known. My heart wasn't shutting up for me to hear anything else. But I welcomed the adrenaline that returned, shooting through me, making my pulse thunder again. All my attention was focused on what was in front of me: the test that would finally make me a guardian.
Yeah, yeah I know I copied the end from Richelle Mead, but I really had no idea how else to do it, but I cut out Janine's part to save for later. In case you missed it, Dimitri's letter was in the actual first chapter of Spirit Bound and I didn't write it, just so you know. Anyway, is anyone else EXCITED FOR SPIRIT BOUND? Seriously, it's like having domination over my mind. Only 147 days away—Yes, I am counting.
Thanks for reading! I need at least 5 reviews for the next chapter. =)