"The vampire gods must hate me," Larten muttered. Arra forced herself to turn her head to face him, no matter how painful it was.
"Don't say that," she told him, growling slightly. "The… gods… don't hate you…"
"Sure they do. They are taking you away from me."
"It's not their doing! It's… Kurda… and…. The stupid Vampaneze."
"If Darren had not killed Glalda, I would have done it. I should have done it… I should have grabbed him by the neck and made him beg for mercy as I slit his throat and let his blood spill," he muttered, a burning in his eyes.
"Larten… stop it… You're… being too… dark."
"What do you want me to do?" He snapped. "He is the reason for this." He pointed to the wound in her belly. Every now and then, he would rub spit around the sides, even though he knew it would do no good.
"Just… listen," Arra said. "Remember… to tell the Princes… to spare Darren's life."
"You can tell them yourself," he told her, still forcing himself to believe that she'll live.
"Yeah, right… This wound incurable, Larten… You and I… both know that… So, tell them. He's a worthy… vampire."
"Stop it! I do not want to hear it!" He had never yelled like that at her, but the anger was too much for him to bear. "Arra, stop talking like that! Stop talking as though you are going to die."
"I am going to die!" She yelled back, coughing after she got the words out. Blood spilled onto to the white blankets around her. Larten stiffened. "Don't believe I will survive this."
"But… You cannot. It is not possible! I cannot bear to think of it."
"Well, tough," she spat.
"Do you not care? I am never going to see you again. I will never hold you again… or kiss you… or hear your voice after this."
"Of… course I… care. But, what can I do? Besides… it's not like… we'll never… see each other again… We'll see… other in… Paradise." He scoffed at her words. "What?"
"Who knows when that will be?" He asked.
"It could be… tomorrow… for all we… know," she replied.
"It could be right now," Larten told her, a strange look in his eyes. "If I grab that knife over there…"
"Larten, no! You wouldn't!" She shrieked, bringing herself to sit up, despite the pain in her side.
"Why not? I cannot live like this. I want to be with you."
"This… is not the way! If you… commit suicide… you will spend your life… in the Lake of Souls! We'll… never… see each other!" He stopped; she had a point. It was dishonorable for a vampire to take his own life, and so, if he did, he would never see her again. He stayed silent, as he gently stroked her hand. Larten spotted a nurse walking past her bed, and he let go of her hand, and grabbed the nurse's wrist. She gasped loudly.
"Is something…?" She asked, but Larten cut her off.
"Do something!" He yelled. "Save her! You have to!"
"I'm sorry," the nurse told him, wrenching her wrist out of his grip. "There is nothing; we have tried everything…"
"You are just not trying hard enough!"
"Sir, please!" She winced as Larten grabbed her wrist again. "Please, stop!"
"Larten!" Arra screamed. "Stop it!" He didn't listen to her, and kept his eyes on the nurse, who was starting to cry.
"Larten!" Seba yelled, coming into the room. "Larten!" He yelled again when Larten didn't respond. "Let her go."
"I cannot," Larten said.
"I said let her go!" Seba strode over to him and pulled his pupil away, causing his grip to loosen. The nurse whimpered and held her hand over her mouth. "Sit down." Larten sat in the chair next to Arra's bed, not meeting anyone's eyes. He kept his eyes on his feet. When he looked up, Seba had an angry expression on his face. "You are being foolish. Extremely foolish!"
"Seba," Larten said.
"Do not speak. Larten, what is this? You have never acted in a manner such as this before."
"That is because this rarely happens to me. You do not understand, Seba. It is not only my love for her, but it brings back horrible memories of my childhood. I have seen someone close to me die, and… I do not want it happening again. It…" He wiped his tears hastily away.
"There is no way to avoid it," Seba told me, placing his hands on his shoulders.
"I'm sorry," Arra spoke up. "My cockiness… got in the way."
"Do not apologize," Larten told her firmly. "It is just not fair; it is not fair! She is leaving me… and I feel so weak. I feel weak because I cannot save her; I feel weak because I cannot compose myself."
"I have… never… seen you cry like this… I'm kind of honored it's for me…" She smiled. He smiled too, despite himself.
"Damn war. This is exactly why I left the mountain in the first place! War, death, murder! It is too much! It always affected me, knowing people who have died, but this is the worst! The woman I love…" He stopped, turning a light pink.
"You haven't…told me…that in a while, you know," Arra said. "I love you, too. And I can hang on… just a little longer. For you." His eyes softened.
"You would do that for me?" He asked, shocked. She nodded. "Arra…" Tears spilled out of his eyes and dripped on her face; she smiled as she felt them. She knew it meant that he cared for her even after all these years.
"Do not argue any more, Larten," Seba told him. The nurse was still standing there, seeming unable to move. "I do not think she can bear it, either. And when you are arguing with the paramedics, you could be with Arra."
"I understand," he replied, grasping onto Arra's hand, which had become so unbearably cold. He brought his lips to it and gently kissed it. "Why is everything being pulled out for under me?" Seba led the nurse out of the room, comforting her and telling her that Larten was just going through a tough time.
"You… still have Darren, Larten," Arra said.
"I know, but no matter how you look at it, my heart can never be what it once was. It can be taped, glued, sewed together, but it will always end up breaking. I will have no expectations for happiness after this is over. You are and you will always be the only for me."
"Don't think like… you're the only… one suffering. How do… you think… I feel… dying so… pathetically… just because I… let my guard… done for one… damn…. second? I feel weak. Weaker than you feel."
"You should not feel weak. You were doing it for the clan. I am the one who is weak, because I did nothing. I watched you fight, I watched you get hurt, and I am now watching you die, and everything I say and everything I do is hopeless. No matter what happens, you are going to die," he said, taking a deep breath when he realized that he finally admitted it. During their last hour together, he had been telling himself that she would live. He knew it wasn't possible, but he had to keep believing it. He knew it was the only way to keep himself composed enough. If he had admitted to her dying earlier, he would be weeping wreck; his outside would have corresponded perfectly with how he felt inside. He didn't want her to see how deeply depressed he was right now. He didn't want her to know that he could literally hear his heart shattering every second. He didn't want her to die; that was all there was to it. If given the choice, he would have given his life up for her to live. She was young; she had potential, so much more than he had. He still did have plenty of other people, but Arra was more important than any of them. She was the one who made his knees buckle as she got closer to him; she was the one who wouldn't take crap from anyone; she was the one he loved the most. And now, she was getting ready to depart, and it killed him inside.
"Larten…?" Arra asked, bringing him out of his thoughts. "Are… you okay…?"
"Yeah," he said, pushing black sweaty hair out of her face. Before either of them could say anything else, the doors opened and Kurda walked in; he looked like a mess. His hair was matted, his clothes were stained with blood, and dark bags were under his eyes.
"What in the hell are you doing here?" Larten growled, balling his hands into fists at the sight of the traitor.
"The Princes allowed me to come in here," Kurda replied. "I just wanted to apologize. I made some horrible mistakes in my life, but this is the worst. I thought I could bring the clans together, but I was wrong. So many people have lost their lives and so many are losing their lives." His sad eyes wandered over to Arra, who looked as though she wanted to attack him, but her wound would not allow her to do so. "Arra, I am so sorry."
"Sorry… isn't… going to cut it," she told him with a menacing glare. He smiled sadly.
"I know. You know, I always had feelings for you." Her eyes widened. "There was something about you that was different, and I liked it. I was always shy and afraid of you because you hated me."
"Too… late… now."
"I would ask for a kiss, but I know that is completely out of the question. Again, I am so sorry that this has happened. Forgive me." That was enough. Larten let go of Arra's hand and grabbed Kurda by his collar. "Larten, what are you…?"
"Shut up!" Larten snapped. "I am going to kill you, you worthless excuse for a General!"
"You think you can make up for all of this? You killed her! Your 'friends' killed her! And now you think you can walk in here and confess your feelings and expect everything to be alright?" Angry tears started flowing out of Larten's eyes. "Do you realize the pain you are putting me through? Do you realize how much I care for and love her?"
"Yes, I do," Kurda replied as calmly as he could. "That was the reason I never confessed. I knew you loved her." Larten's grip on Kurda's collar loosened as he began to sob. Kurda wrenched away watching Larten as he fell to his knees and sobbed onto the floor.
"Damn you!" He yelled. Paris Skyle came in, eyes darting from Arra to Kurda to Larten. Larten saw him and immediately straightened himself up. "Sire, please, I beg you, allow me to be the one who dispose of this waste of breath." He glanced at Kurda, who looked down in shame.
"I am afraid I cannot let you do that, Larten. His fate is with the Hall of Death."
"Do not think he has only brought pain onto you," Paris said gravely. "Many have been lost; many whom we love." A streak of pain was visible in Larten's brown eyes. "He caused the most pain onto you, I admit. You have already lost Gavner Purl, and now Arra Sails is losing her life."
"Please, do not speak of it," Larten whispered. He looked over at Arra, who was keeping true to her word, and clinging to life as long as she was able to. She looked absolutely horrible; sweat and blood were trickling down her face, and she looked as though she was going to go at any moment. But, despite of all of that, she was still the most beautiful creature he had ever laid his eyes on. He considered himself to be lucky; she was his, and no one else's. She loved him, a vampire who couldn't be deemed as good-looking, and his affections were equally, if not more, returned.
"Larten," Kurda stupidly stepped forward, hoping some words of encouragement might cheer the sullen vampire up. He placed his hand on his shoulder.
"Do not touch me unless you want that hand ripped off," Larten threatened, causing Kurda to retreat his hand quickly. "Stop trying to make amends, Smahlt. It is not going to work. You have done so much already."
"Larten, I want to help you; I really do."
"Then go die!" Larten spat. "I hate you so much. My heart is burning with passion to rip your head off right now and throw it into the stream. Let the wolves devour you. They have done more for our clan than you, a General, ever will. I will have you know, Kurda, that I would not be acting so homicidal if it was not personal. Sure, I would be angry and I would wish for your death, but I would never wish for me to the one to kill you. You brought this on yourself. Because of you, there is going to be the infamous War of the Scars!" Larten glanced over at another vampire who just walked in. "Get him out of my sight. I will be seeing his execution, and I will be enjoying every minute of it. And if you try to get out of it, Kurda, I will kill you." Kurda said nothing as the vampire dragged him out of the room. He merely looked down at the floor, blue eyes glistening as he realized just how much pain he had brought to the poor, orange-haired vampire.
"You are being a little overly dramatic, Larten," Paris said, earning a glare.
"Overly dramatic?" Larten repeated, disgusted. "No, I am heartbroken, Sire. Is this some sort of sick game? I never realized experienced love or friendship, and when I finally do find a friend who is trustworthy, loyal, albeit annoying, and when I finally do fall in love with the most amazing vampiress who ever set foot in this place, it is taken away from me." Paris stayed silent.
"Lar…." Arra started to say. He immediately dashed to her side, clutching her hand. "I… don't feel… well…"
"Arra," he said, his breath catching his throat. "If staying here any longer is painful, then leave. Let your soul emerge from your body." He couldn't believe he was telling her to die, but the only reason she was putting herself through so much pain was for him, and he couldn't have that.
"I don't want to… leave… you," she told him, tears emerging from her painstakingly beautiful emerald eyes.
"Do not worry about me. Worry about yourself." She shook her head, forcing her soul to stay with him.
"If I could… do this… forever… I would. If can… force my… soul to stay…. I… would."
"But… you are putting yourself through much pain just for my sake. I am not worth it, Arra."
"Yes, you are."
"Keep telling yourself that, darling."
"And you keep telling… yourself… that I'm…going to survive." He stiffened at her words.
"I know you will not. I have realized it, but do not expect me to come to terms with it. That will take forever, if I ever do, which I doubt I will."
"Larten… I think it's time," Arra said, looking sorrowfully up at him. His grip tightened on her hand. "My soul can't stay here. I feel it trying to escape." He put his hand over her heart, his own shattering a little more and more, when her heartbeat was slowing down.
"I love you. Do not forget that. I love you more than anything. Please, hang on, for two minutes."
"You… just… told me… to let… it go!" She growled.
"I know I did, but you cannot die before I do this." Larten kissed her gently, and was pleased when she deepened the kiss; he was not expecting such a passionate kiss from her when she was on her deathbed, but it felt nice. He didn't want to break away. He wanted to keep kissing her. He wanted to take her in his arms and into a secluded room, and prove his love for her, just as he did years before, but her soul knew it was time, and though he didn't want to, he had to agree. "Do not forget my kiss." He gently thumbed away her tears, looking deeply into her emerald eyes once more, his heart pounding remembering all the memories, the pain, the friendship, and the love they shared.
"I can never… forget that…" She smiled gently, and closed her eyes. "Goodbye, Larten."
"Goodbye, Arra," Larten said, trembling as he held her hand in his. Her hand went limp and her fingers uncurled themselves. Paris placed his hand on his shoulder comfortingly as he sobbed into his hands, Arra's lifeless body smiling at him.