So here's the deal, I haven't actually been writing much at all on this story since last year (but thankfully I still have enough material to cover another two or more chapters after this one, once spell checked etc), I am currently doing my last year of school before I go to university and it is my top priority so I cannot guarantee any return of schedule to the submission of these chapters. Other than that, hope you enjoy the new chapter!
Thank you to all those who have favourited or alerted, and just on a side remark, just to let you know kidbuusister, but I cannot respond to someone without an account as there is no address to write to, but I appreciate that you enjoy the story so much :)
Chapter 7 – Voices
She opened her wings and glided down to land a little way away from the butchered bird and eyed it from a distance.
"How...very kind of you, Goth." she said, picking her words carefully. She was starving but even in her now hunger driven mind she hesitated at the idea of eating meat, even if it was that of a bird.
The last thing Amiticia wanted to do, however, was give Goth any reason to suspect she was ungrateful, she was pretty sure it wouldn't end well in that case. He probably wouldn't do anything but growl and get angry but she still found him somewhat frightening, especially after the earlier incident when he had damaged her wings. She moved closer, trying to pretend she was interested in eating the bird, but really she was just hoping Goth would fly away somewhere else so she could chuck the horrible thing away.
Unfortunately all the while she could tell Goth was watching her eagerly, did he want the stupid bird for himself? Oh how was she going to put this politely?
"Goth, you haven't eaten tonight. You're probably still hungry and I really don't want to deprive you of your food." she said cautiously, feeling as if she was flying through a rain of hailstones and trying to avoid hitting any of them.
"I have already killed and feasted on a pigeon less than an hour ago, I am quite content for now."
Damn it, she did not want the bird! So she tried again:
"No really, I won't deprive you of food, I will be fine, I haven't eaten very well for more than a week now and I can still fly, so I can easily go another week or two." Even in her mind that sentence didn't make any sense.
"You do not want the bird?" he asked bluntly, brow furrowing; this was what Amiticia feared would happen.
"No, of course I want the bird!" she replied hastily. "I am very grateful, no one has ever hunted for me before." She stopped abruptly when she noticed the grin on the giant's face, and immediately she felt embarrassed, what line had she tripped over now?
"I will admit that usually only mates hunt for one another, but you were obviously going starve if I did not intervene." He told her, now grinning at her reaction; Amiticia practically trying to hide her face. "Eat now, I am going to scout the land ahead, I will return shortly."
In a stunned silence, Amiticia watched him fly out of the building and out of sight, this time she couldn't even find her voice to warn him of going outside during the daytime. She felt flustered, sure it hadn't actually been flirtatious but the knowing grin that that had spread across his features had made her blush nonetheless.
Goth was a horribly confusing bat, she decided.
Now for the bird. Amiticia looked the dead thing over, normally it would not have looked very appetizing but her mind was playing tricks on her and somehow despite her instincts that told her to flee the rich scent of fresh meat was making her salivate. You are just hungry, she told herself, so very, very hungry.
She was torn, on one hand she was starving and there was no one around to see her commit this atrocity, she hadn't even killed the bird in the first place, but on the other hand she would be going against everything she had grown up with. Bats could only go out at night, bats could never land on the ground and so on, but there was no direct rule against eating meat, only the fact that it was such an unnatural abnormal idea it was unthinkable.
But then so had been staying underground in the burrow when Goth couldn't fly, and flying south without intending to actually roost the winter through.
It was all about survival.
This was reason enough, but then there was also a more personal side to it, a strange jealousy that Amiticia felt of all beasts and birds, and now Goth.
Goth was a bat, a big bat, but that hardly made any difference, he was still a bat just like she was. But he didn't care about going out during the hours while the sun was up, he ate meat without remorse, he hunted like an owl. Owls had eaten bats in the past right? So wasn't it only fitting that a bat should eat a bird in return?
Goth had already torn off the wings for her, the bird also lacked a head but she didn't think this mattered, the sight still made her feel nauseous. The scent of blood was thick in the air, it triggered Amiticia to instinctively be wary, but her hunger was so great she no longer cared.
Hastily she took a sharp bite and swallowed. She gagged initially but managed to force the morsel down, it was softer than bug meat but more elastic and she almost felt as if she was swallowing a slug albeit with a foreign aftertaste that was completely alien. For a moment after taking that one bite she looked around fearfully, almost believing that every owl in existence was about to descend on her for commiting such a crime.
For a few minutes she crouched beside the dead bird, completely still. Once she was convinced she wasn't going to die from consuming the meat she considered taking a second bite, and then her stomach ordered her too and she no longer cared.
Later that day, Amiticia felt unwell, but at least the terrible gnawing hunger was gone. She made no comment on the matter, and was glad Goth had decided to wait till nightfall before continuing their journey. She had begun to feel better by the time the first stars were shining, and felt as if she could have done an endless amount of back flips in mid air, but she didn't get long to marvel this fact as Goth wanted to leave immediately.
They continued heading south, Goth seemed a lot more energetic than he had in the past few days where Amiticia had only seen him flapping sluggishly to keep up or even just gliding so as not to waste energy. Amiticia had tried gliding but her wingspan simply wasn't large enough and the wind just buffeted her around.
He flew ahead of her, not by much though, he would glance back occasionally just to make sure he was on the right route, never did he look at the stars, his interests were in what lived below. They had seen a rat a few blocks back, Amiticia had ignored it but Goth had shown extreme interest. Seemingly sensing his bad intentions, the rat had scuttled to safety down through an open gutter immediately.
He was a hunter, Amiticia knew now, not a hunter of insects like she was used to back at home, but a true hunter like a wolf or lynx. At first this information had disturbed her somewhat, as never would she have travelled with a wolf or any other kind of carnivorous creature, so why should she travel with a carnivorous bat? The answer was simple, she was scared, she didn't want to be alone nor face any possible furious owls by herself, and he seemed like adequate protection and company.
"Senorita?" he called suddenly, swinging back in lazy glide. "I have seen no other bats since I first met you." He looked around suspiciously, then half jokingly he asked. "You said you lost your colony, are we the only bats left?"
The question was preposterous and Amiticia immediately began to laugh, but it wasn't a happy laugh it was a tired hopeless one.
Nothing but human buildings and barren landscape surrounded them for miles, despite the fact that below them the streets teemed with a writhing sea of humans, the place was strangely lifeless. At this cold freezing time everything natural seemed to have curled up and died, Amiticia hadn't seen another bat apart from Goth since Nettle had charged out of the cave after Audacia…And looking around now, it really wasn't that hard to imagine that they were the only bats left in existence.
"There are other bats, just not here." She said, trying to reassure herself more than anything else. "What do you plan to do, once you return to your home and all?"
"I already answered this question, I shall retrieve my missing memories, then I shall live in the comfort of my beloved jungle for all eternity, never will I return to this frozen landscape." He replied, turning to seemingly glare at the snow around them.
"Tell me more about this jungle, are there lots of insects there?"
He gave her a weird look, Amiticia stared flatly back, as far she was concerned she hadn't said anything out of the ordinary.
"Why would you care for insects?"
"Well to eat of course."
Goth suddenly burst out laughter, the abrupt sound surprising Amiticia in the near silence of the wilderness they were now flying over.
"So that is what a little bat like yourself eats? Insects! Hah! I suppose it makes sense though, you would be unlikely to be able to catch prey on your own due to your size. I was beginning to wonder what you were actually hunting for out here."
"Hey, don't mock me. I'm a silverwing, we don't grow as big as…whatever you are. My entire colony has eaten bugs as far back as I can remember. If I grew up eating moths and you grew up eating birds then maybe that is just the way things are meant to be."
"But you did eat a bird." He replied, grinning again. "The only reason you wouldn't normally is because your kind is not big enough to catch and kill them."
"You know the birds up here in the north hate us bats, the owls would probably take any excuse they could to kill us all. We bats here generally avoid all birds whenever possible."
"You fear them?"
"Well, sort of, yes." Amiticia cursed herself for the jealously that suddenly rose up, Goth obviously had no fear of birds. " I hate owls, don't care much for birds either. They are actually the reason I got separated from my colony. Owls smoked us out and chased us. I got lost and I wasn't able to find my way back. I began to head south in hope that my path would cross with theirs before they reached our winter roost."
She took a deep breath before continuing, trying to steady her emotions before they boiled over, anger and despair having found foothold in her mind as she recounted what had happened. "I missed them though, and I have no idea where they are any more. Now I am here, my only hope now is that I can survive until the winter is over, then I will return to find them again."
Goth expression was unreadable, Amiticia could only hope that he wasn't going to mock her again, maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to share this information with him.
"I will make a promise, senorita Amiticia." He told her abruptly. "The first owl we cross paths with next shall die and we shall feast on its flesh!"
"Err…thanks. That's uhmm...very nice of you." She said nervously, as much as she found the idea of an owl dying appealing there was little she found in the idea of eating one, the idea of eating meat had become repulsive once more now that she was no longer starving.
"It shall not be long now, senorita Amiticia! You and I shall find the largest of owls and destroy it, its death shall be glorious as us victorious!" Goth swept off abruptly ahead, seemingly too eager to wait when an owl could be so close. He didn't wait up or call for her to follow, instead he simply disappeared into the nearing forest.
Amiticia briefly beat her wings in an attempt to catch up, but quickly gave up, her muscles beginning to ache. Despite the food, Amiticia still felt weak, and ever so slowly more increasingly tired. Hibernate, her mind begged her, but she forced herself to ignore it
She was now over the forest, realizing how exposed and alone she was, she quickly dropped below the top tree level and wove amongst the branches like she had done back at Cavehall.
She sent out several echoes, searching for Goth, however hr had seemed to have disappeared. Inside the forest the world was equally dead, Amiticia didn't catch sight of any food in her quick flyby. She continued heading south, she had no idea where Goth had gone but she could only hope that he would return to her eventually, she wasn't eager to go searching for him when she had no idea in what direction he had headed, and breathing in the cold crisp air she knew he hadn't been this way.
Nocturna damnit, where was he?
Amiticia braked in mid air and hovered the best she could, trying to pinpoint the direction of the voices.
In that moment she forgot about everything, what she was doing and even who she was, she just wanted to see her colony again.
The trees abruptly cleared and there was a massive human structure, but the voices were near, and she followed them. She found their source, a small opening in the side of the building. Goth was already there, hanging above the opening with his head leaning to one side, listening. He looked up when he realized he was not alone.
"Something is not right." He told her, his voice did not sound its usual confident and arrogant tone, it was wavering. "We should fly on."
"But there are bats in there, I can hear them!" she cried when he blocked her from going in. "They might know my colony, they might even be from my colony!"
"Senorita." He snapped suddenly, baring his teeth. "My memories may be missing, but I know this is a bad place, we must fly on! We go now!"
Amiticia normally would have listened, would have been scared of his flashing teeth and terrifying eyes, but she was desperate, she had to see her colony again! She hit at him with her wings without thinking, even going so far as to claw him when he didn't move. Deciding that he wouldn't tolerate this sort of behaviour, Goth spread his wings wide in defiance and knocked her back. Amiticia whirled around in midair, momentarily out of control, but then she regained her senses and shot for the unblocked entrance to the building.
Goth was unable to stop her, Amiticia was sure he called out after her but she couldn't hear him, all she could hear was the voices of the calling bats, they wanted her here, they knew what was to happen next! She was going so fast she was unable to stop herself from crashing when the tunnel turned downwards, she slid down rapidly like a newborn, unable to stop herself she shot through a flap and out into an open space, somehow outside. There were trees and moss, and everywhere were bats! And what struck her next, but was almost immediately forgotten in her excitement, was the warmth.
"Hello!" she called to them all, as she flew past happily. "I'm Amiticia, I'm from the colony led by Santana Silverwing." All around her many of the bats launched themselves into the air to join her in her flight, whirling around her like a great tornado.
"I am…From…!" many shouted back in return, naming themselves and their colonies. Amiticia then came to realize that most of them were not actually silverwings, many were brightwings, some were of kinds she had never seen before. None however looked like Goth.
Goth...he hadn't followed her, he was still outside. Once he heard how much warmer it was in here than it was outside, Amiticia thought, he would come in immediately.
"Wait a moment." She told them all smiling, never had she had such an overly friendly welcome before. "I have a friend outside, I will get him then I will be right back." Amiticia flew back to the flap, but found it had mechanically locked itself, it only opened one way.
"Where's the way out?" Amiticia called to the circling bats, holding onto the entrance she had come through with her claws.
"Way out…? Way out…?" It ran like an echo, but no answer was given. Amiticia was sharply knocked aside as the flap opened, Goth came hurtling through. They both managed to avoid hitting the floor and flew up just in time, Goth perching first and then Amiticia taking a place beside him.
"See, it's not a bad place." She told him, grinning with happiness. "Feel the warmth? It's not cold here!"
But Goth didn't respond. His eyes were wide as they scanned their surroundings, he ignored the whirling bats, seemingly alone in his mind. He caught sight of something, Amiticia wasn't sure what, and let out a terrible groan.
"No, it can't be." He said, shaking his head in denial. "No…an artificial forest, like the artificial jungle…trapped eternally."
"Goth?" she asked him softly, but he remained rigid, staring off into space. Gently she poked him, and then she realized he was trembling. Bats nearby had begun to land, trying to introduce themselves, but Amiticia was now no longer interested in them, she wanted to figure out what was wrong with him, but Goth wasn't saying anything.
The bats around them were relatively quiet as well now, just the gentle murmur of a few voices every now and then. Eventually an older bat, nearing elder age, pushed himself forward.
"I am Sanctus, welcome to Nocturna's Promised Land, welcome to paradise."
"Nocturna promises, Nocturna gives." murmured the surrounding crowd, and Amiticia immediately got the dreaded feeling that Goth was going to speak up, she didn't want to be on bad terms with these bats before she had even had a chance to talk to them. She watched him cautiously out of the corner of her eye, thankfully it didn't look like he was going to be talking any time soon as he was still staring off at some indefinite point in the distance.
"I am Amiticia Silverwing." she introduced herself, and then she pointed without looking at Goth. "And he-"
"I am Prince Goth of the Vampyrum Spectrum; I demand to know the location of the nearest exit of this prison!"
So much for not saying anything.
Amiticia could practically feel the outrage of the other bats pass her in waves, what was stupid arrogant Goth doing?
She turned around to stare at him aghast. He had to know what he had just said was gravely insulting to this strange colony, right? If he did, his expresison didn't show it. Did he seriously not care that he had just upset an entire colony? Amiticia narrowed her eyes at him, was he really that pigheaded?
"This is paradise not a prison!" shouted the elder defiantly, eyes ablaze, seemingly uncaring that he was only about half the size of Goth. "You would do well not to insult our home!"
Not to Amiticia surprise, seeing at how easily offended he was, Goth reared his head back growling, teeth bared. This action caused many of the nearby bats who had been so eager to introduce themselves before to now leave rapidly, even the elder himself was looking nervous now.
"There is no way out, is there?" Goth growled dangerously. "I've been in a place like this before, I know a prison when I see one!"
The elder gave an undignified yelp and turned tail, fleeing. Goth smiled smugly, then he turned to snarl at Amiticia.
"This is your fault! I told you not to go in." he growled at her.
"I-it can't be that bad…it's warm and I know I saw food earlier." She replied nervously, for some reason she hadn't thought he would round on her.
"There is no escape from this place, your haven will become your prison! You will never see your colony or home again!" he dropped from his perch and began to fly towards the ceiling, for it was solid glass that covered the top of the room not open sky as it appeared. "Amiticia, follow!" he barked.
Amiticia followed after him timidly, watching grimly as every bat they passed dove for cover. Goth landed beside a metal grating on the wall, through it rushed air, he stared at it intently as if hoping it would burst into flames.
"I have memories of being trapped in an artificial world like this before." He told her once she had landed. "Though I know I escaped, I even remember how. But this grating is smaller than the one I remember, even if it was to fall I would never fit through."
Amiticia looked around at the surroundings below, she really wanted nothing more than to join the other bats below, eat a few tiger moths, normal food. She wanted to take a drink from the lovely sparkling stream she had seen earlier, she wanted see everything. Goth was like a deadweight, she was sure that none of the other bats would want to talk to her now because of him; she knew she would have to apologise for his behaviour, and probably several more times later on.
"We will escape, senorita." Goth said. "No one can imprison me long."
A/N: okay, so I am incorporating a few bits from the books here sort of (but just a few!), don't worry and think I am going to copy the whole of book 2 as I believe that the show deviated enough from the books that I can do the same and I want to be somewhat original rather than just copy what has already been written.