Notes: I decided to start writing this on a whim, since seeing the movie for the first time last weekend … All canon characters and basic plot do NOT belong to me. R&R. Thanks.

I got over a major muse block, and I have a little clearer of an idea of how this story will end. But it's still not definite … it may turn into one of those multi-ending stories! Who knows!

VIII: Taken

As he said Oren's name, my eyes went wide and memories that I had suppressed came back to me. For a moment I was paralyzed with fear. He had tortured me, strangled my will to live during those years of training. He had been a plague in my life that I never wished to see again. The week before I had been thrown out, he had done an unspeakable act against me and against God. It was one that I refused to tell anyone, and had buried so deep inside of myself that I had almost forgotten the heinous crime had been committed. It did not surprise me that he had turned into one of them. Deep in my heart, I always questioned whether his fight was for God or for glory and eternal fame.

"Ella?" his voice cut through my reverie, and I looked up with as neutral an expression as I could muster.

"He trained with us …" was all I said.

"Yes, and I let him fall when we infiltrated Sola Mira before it was liquidated," he responded and then mounted his bike, turning it on.

For thirty hours we traveled, heading towards the mountains, the few that remained after the war, expecting to find a new hive in the hollowed out side of the earth. As I leaned my head on his back, between his shoulder blades, my mind wandered in so many directions it was hard to keep track of what had really happened and what I fantasized would happen. He had willingly held my hand … but he would have done that when we were younger. He refused to let me out of his sight … again, not out of the ordinary. He had lost his mind when the familiar mentioned me turning … I would expect him to lose his temper if it had mentioned turning any of the other priests. It was too easy to read into any of these scenarios and see a future that I only hoped was there.

We stopped at the base of two mountains. They looked like they had been removed from some other faraway land, and magically transported to our desolate wasteland. They were dark, but random green patches dotted the sides of the ashen sides. Clouds rested towards the middle of the two mountains, sitting like a ring on a finger. The tops of the mountains looked down at us with an ominous shadow. There was sun towards the top, but anything beneath the clouds was completely dark. A very bad feeling ate at my core as my vision darkened, and not because I wished it to … the mountain was where we needed to head, but it held a very dark secret that I wasn't sure we were all ready to face.

"Those clouds are too dark to be natural," I said out loud. "They are dark, soot-filled … only in the cities have I seen smog clouds so thick."

"We have to go in …" was all he said, and then handed me a book. I frowned as did the others. "I stole it from the armory the night they held your funeral. It has and always will be yours." I took the book, and opened it. Inside were several silver crosses, each placed meticulously in their own hollowed out space, bedded in red satin. My fingers caressed the untouched metal, a shiver running down my spine. I truly felt like a priestess, though still un-marked. His voice cut through my thoughts. "I knew it was yours … only you would write your name in Greek and not Latin." A smirk tugged at the corner of his mouth.

I closed the lid and looked on the back where I had etched my name in Greek symbols. I was never very good at Latin, but Greek made sense to me … Looking up, I smiled, and tucked the thin book into the back of my belt.

"What do you propose, Priest?" Eric asked as we looked up at the sky. There were no footprints, no signs of entry … only a narrow column of rocks that led straight up.

"We'll climb, brother," he replied and walked forward, the shadow of the mountain and clouds covering him in darkness.

I decided to go last since I had never attempted such a feat before. In our training we climbed, but not like this … They had all been to Sola Mira, and by what I had heard through training, the sides were just as steep and slippery. Many times my hands and feet slipped on something the Great Vision was not equipped to detect. I drew a deep breath, taking a moment to compose myself, and continued the ascent. In that sole breath, I gathered many different tastes and smells: vampires for sure, but nothing seemed fresh, everything was stale. The air was stale, even the greenery felt stale. It was as if time was frozen and we were disturbing its slumber.

The entrance to the mountain was enshrouded in mist that hung so thick, the polluted water droplets condensed on my skin and hands. I disliked the feeling of vampire discharge and coal particles resting on me. The idea gave me a chill, and I suddenly felt very inept in the presence of all these fully trained and ordained priests.

"This way," he turned on a flashlight and guided us through the maze. It was narrow, many of them had to hunch over. It just grazed the top of my head. For at least 500 feet, we walked in discomfort until we reached an open room. It was about fifteen feet tall, but the center was solid, not like center structure of Sola Mira. Four more tunnels emptied into the same cavern.

"This doesn't make sense," Priestess said softly, "this isn't a hive … it's like a …"

"A fortress," he finished her sentence. "There isn't a single vampire track anywhere."

"But I smell them," I said softly, my head turned towards one of the tunnels. I inched closer, but his hand held me back. Giving a faint smile, I pressed forward, letting his hand slide off my shoulder. "It's cooler in this tunnel."

"Ella, please come back here," his voiced was pleading, but I ignored it, creeping closer. The air coming from the tunnel was strangely fresh, cooler, and it was not as stagnant. There was a strong smell of vampire, but I could not understand how the air was circulating, the only way was if the tunnel opened up to the other side of the mountain or down below.

The entrance to the tunnel was just my height, but it sloped and got narrower. My first few steps were timid, unsure. He stood at the entrance of the tunnel, his breath was heavy and his heart beat so loudly even I could hear it. I took a few more steps before halting. Something wasn't right … a tremble shook my very core, and before I could turn to get out of the tunnel, a clawed hand grabbed my leg and I was knocked to the ground.

"PETER!" the scream echoed so loudly off the stone walls, I heard a ringing in my ear.

"ELLA! NOOOO!"

But as he dove forward, they held him back; all four of them, and slowly the stones from the ceiling began falling. I was being dragged through the gravel floor by my leg. "PETER!" tears streamed down my face as the dim light from the room got smaller and smaller, and his face became just a shadow. "I love you ..." was the last thing I got to say before being tossed into the air and slung over the creature's back. And then we dove.