"How did you escape?" Elijah's voice sounded on the other end of the phone, following Misha's carefully edited re-hash of their last few days in captivity and how they had outsmarted Dominic.
"It was Klaus both times," Misha replied as he shifted the phone to his other ear, then climbed into the front seat of the Jeep, his eyes moving to the rear view mirror as he watched Damon silently signal the all clear to Kol, Caroline and Bonnie so that they could carry Klaus' body across the open field outside the cemetery to the back of the car.
"Klaus?" Elijah responded, his voice peaked with curiosity
"The one and only," Mish responded as he watched Damon helped the others load Klaus into the Jeep, "We came to find out that he's packing some new mojo in his brother's body."
"You mean, he turned?" Elijah offered, the surprise evident in his voice
"Yep," Misha replied, "And, we soon came to find out that the ability to turn back into a lycanthrop is not the only thing he's inherited from Ioan..."
"No…" Elijah gasped, remembering well his deceased brother's magical capabilities
"Oh, yeah…He's packing some serious power, too," Misha added, "So much so, that Dominic has singled him out and has already tried to kill him."
"Is he alright?" Elijah asked
"He's been dosed with wolfsbane—a very high dose—but he'll be okay. We're bleeding it out of him as we speak and if we can get to a safe place, Bonnie and I can finish the healing ritual. He may be tired and unsteady for a few days, but he'll be alright in the end."
"So you're on your way then?" Elijah asked
"I think so. We should be on the road here in just a few," Misha responded, then took a breath before asking the question he needed to, knowing that Elijah would also respond in a cryptic manner to keep Dominic's ears from picking up their actual meaning and thus saving Vivienne from having to drop the guard on their location temporarily so Misha could do a locator spell, "Are the home fires burning?"
"By the sea…" Elijah replied and Misha could almost hear his smile, "By the beautiful sea. You can see England from there."
Misha smirked to himself, then turned when he saw Damon Salvatore again out of the corner of his eye and watched the vampire round the side of the Jeep to open the passenger side door and climb in.
It seems they were ready for departure and Misha knew right where they were heading, where Elijah was…
He was at his plantation home in Virginia. The first place he settled after his falling out with Klaus in 1492 England over Katerina.
"I'm glad you all made it out in one piece. I suppose we'll see you soon," Elijah said, his words bringing a lump to Misha's throat and causing him to immediately lock eyes with Damon Salvatore, who he knew was now listening to their conversation with his vampire hearing, before his face turned solemn.
"Elijah, before we just show up at your door, there is something you need to know…" Misha said softly, his eyes never leaving Damon's, "And you need to prepare yourself and Elena..."
There was a moment of silence on the line before Elijah responded in a grave voice.
Misha swallowed then delivered the news as he watched Damon's pull his eyes away from his sadly to look out the front passenger window.
"We—we didn't all make it out in one piece, Elijah. Stefan, Kaspar and Katerina are dead."
# # # # # # #
Elena jumped, nearly dropping the blood bags in her hands when she closed the refrigerator door with her foot to reveal Vivienne on the other side, her figure bathed in early morning sunlight.
"Oh… you scared me…" Elena smiled in relief when she saw the witch
"I find that horribly ironic since you're the blood sucking monster," Vivienne quipped, giving a return smile
"Touche," Elena replied then adjusted the blood bags in her arms as she added, "What are you doing here so early?"
"I work here, remember?" Vivienne chuckled, removing the tote bag full of groceries from her shoulder and setting it on the center island, then rounding the counter to start unpacking them, "Reversing spells and preventing the demise of my vampire employer isn't all I do. Here...mail call…" she finished removing a stack of mail from the top inside of the grocery bag and handing it across the counter to Elena, "Take that up to Elijah when you go back to bed, would you?"
"What?" Elena choked, suddenly embarrassed, "No—wait—I'm not going to his bed—"
"So…that is not his bathrobe that you're wearing?" Vivienne smirked playfully, eyeing Elena up and down as she lowered her hand, and the mail in it, to the counter
This?" Elena replied defensively, referring to her outfit, "No, I—I found it just lying in the bathroom—my bathroom…I mean…not Elijah's…"
"Mmmhmmm…" Vivienne hummed, unconvinced, her eyes dancing in amusement as they continued to study the flustered, young vampire
Then, the two women stared at each other in silence for another moment before Elena cleared her throat and relented
"God… I really suck at lying…" She admitted, letting out a long sigh and closing her eyes as a shy smile crossed her face
"Yes, you do…" Vivienne replied immediately with a smile of her own and when Elena's eyes re-opened, handed the mail across to her again
"I'll make sure he gets it…" Elena said in a low, shy voice, averting her gaze from the witch as she moved the blood to the crook of her arm and took the mail into her hand before quickly turning to exit through the kitchen door.
# # # # # # #
"You will not just believe what happened to me downstairs…" Elena chuckled as she walked through the threshold into Elijah's bedroom, suddenly slowing as she approached the bed, her eyes scanning Elijah's figure propped up among the pillows in deep thought, with the top of his phone pressed to his lips.
"Elijah?" she asked, her eyes narrowing in curiosity and her smile fading as she came closer
Elijah suddenly broke out of his trance and turned to face her, lowering the phone as he spoke, putting on a fake smile.
"I see you're back with breakfast," he said as he watched her take a seat on the end of the bed, dropping her load in the center of her lap before handing him a blood bag, which he proptly put aside-he couldn't think about eating after what Misha had just told him.
"I also brought the mail, courtesy of Vivienne..." Elena added, shifting through the stack before handing it to him a few pieces at a time, "It looks like mostly bills, but there is one envelope in here that's just addressed 'Elijah' with no return name or address," she continued, pulling out said envelope and looking at its front and back curiously before handing it to him last and taking up her own blood bag in her hand before removing the top to drink from it.
Elijah dropped the collected stack he was holding and immediately took the envelope in his hands and ripped it open with his thumb, then swallowed nervously as he pulled the one page letter from its sanctuary and skimmed over it.
The handwriting was familiar to him and he suddenly knew who wrote it.
His eyes immediately looked down to the signature at the bottom where it was signed…
'Always and Forever, Katerina'
His heart dropped.
Elijah quickly sucked in a breath and hastily folded the envelope back up and forcefully stuffed it into its envelope before bringing his free hand to cover his mouth, fearful that his grief would come suddenly come pouring out.
"Elijah?" Elena asked, her eyes narrowing in concern as she slid closer to him, sensing something was wrong, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Elijah, what is it?"
"It's from—it's from Katherine…" Elijah whispered, finally removing his hand from his mouth as he looked down at the envelope
"What does it say?" Elena asked, following his gaze
"I don't know…I can't read it..." he said, his voice breaking, "Not now...the grief is still too near."
"What?" Elena breathed, confused
Elijah sniffed, then raised his head and brought his eyes to meet hers as he brought a hand up to the side of her face, drawing her near as Elena searched his face, then offered a conclusion.
"Is Katherine… dead?" she finally asked in a meek voice
Elijah nodded solemnly and Elena inhaled deeply in shock
"How?" she asked, after a moment's contemplation
"Dominic…" was Elijah's only reply
"Dominic?" Elena retorted, "That would mean she was in Mystic Falls. What was she doing in Mystic Falls?"
"I asked to her to go back," Elijah said, the guilt and grief clear in his dark eyes, "To keep an eye on things and help your friends and my siblings…and apparently, she did. Misha just called."
"Elijah…" Elena whispered sympathetically, realizing the original's guilt and bringing a hand up to his face, but Elijah quickly caught it in his own hand and lowered it, grasping it tightly before focusing his attention on Elena intently.
"Elena," he started, measuring his words carefully, "There is something else you should know…"
"No..." Elena whimpered softly, leaning back out of his grasp and bracing herself as if anticipating Elijah's words before he spoke them, her eyes widening in fear
"It turns out that Katherine wasn't the only casualty in Mystic Falls."
# # # # # # #
"You have to stop them," Luka said, taking a step closer to Klaus and closing the gap between them in the large, empty white room they had found themselves meeting in the hybrid's current unconcious state, "You have to wake up and tell them that they can't leave town."
"What do you mean?" Klaus asked, curiously
"Their work isn't finished. They only have but one piece of the puzzle," the hunter replied, "They have the compass, but it isn't enough. I gave Kaspar the map, but your friends didn't find the right buried treasure."
Klaus' eyes widened, "You mean the map that led us to the Gilbert House—to the journals and the compass? It wasn't supposed to lead us to them at all?"
Luka smirked and touched the side of his nose with a smile, informing Klaus that he was spot on
"The fact that it did was nothing but a coincidence," Luka continued, "I knew with a Gilbert descendant in your ranks, it would only be a matter of time before you tracked down Gilbert inventions, but the true intention was to provide you with information that would help you destroy what was trapped inside."
"The souls?" Klaus asked in an uncertain voice, "How?"
"Nature must always have a balance. What is born, must die and what comes, must eventually go. There is always a beginning and an end—an entrance and an exit…" Luka stated, then opened the front of his shirt to reveal the waving lines on the left pectoral of his chest, where the intricate tattoos that graced his body—down his arms and back—seemed to intersect, "On our last meeting, I gave Kaspar this key to help him find his way. But, he failed to realize that it was a beginning, not an end."
"I don't understand…" Klaus mused as he studied the design on Luka's chest, then his eyes widened in realization as he remembered the map Caroline and Kaspar had shown the group in the Salvatore kitchen—if one looked at it hard enough and in a more solid and technical way, the tattoo now resembled the gridlines of that very map, "Wait…this is the map they showed us. The map that led us to the Gilbert property…" Klaus retorted, pointing to the hunter's chest.
"What was the map supposed to lead them to, if not the compass?" Klaus asked
"The night my mother gave birth to us—I was first into the world, Dominic second. I am the beginning and he is the end—I am the entrance and he is the exit—two bodies and one soul—"
"Wait!" Klaus suddenly interrupted, holding up his hands and furrowing his brow, "What's with all the cryptic talk? Just speak plain English!"
"Very well," Luka retorted, "When my brother and I were transformed into the first hunters by our Mother, the demonic souls that possessed us did not just appear out of the ether—they were summoned—brought through a portal. And when they entered our bodies, they marked us inside and out so that they would always know their way."
"Your tattoos…" Klaus suddenly whispered in realization, "They're a map made by the demonic souls that possessed you…"
Luka nodded again, encouraging the vampire to unwrap the riddle
"And they're connected," Klaus breathed, "That is what you meant by you being the beginning and Dominic being the end. Your tattoos reveal the portal that Ayanna brought the demonic souls into this world—which means that his will show the way to the portal that we need to send it back."
Suddenly, images of Dominic standing over him as he lay on the ground in the Mystic Falls Cemetery the night before instantly flashed through his mind and he immediately focused on what he could remember of the markings on the hunter's chest…
"And it must be sent back," Luka emphasized, pulling Klaus out of his trance, "Once the spell on the compass has been reversed and the Dominic successfully exorcised, the soul must be sent back through the portal from whence it came. Only then will Dominic be made mortal and my human soul truly be set free from years of entrapment in that compass. So, Niklaus…" he continued as he took another step forward and placed a strong hand on Klaus' shoulder, "You know what you must do."
Klaus nodded once in acknowledgement before he felt Luka give him a stern shove against his shoulder…
# # # # # #
Klaus gasped as his eyes opened wide as he coughed, immediately struggling to sit up as he leaned on Bonnie and Caroline for support, the latter immediately hugging him in relief.
"Nik!" Rebekah cried joyfully, surprised to see her brother suddenly awake and his strength returning to him so suddenly
"Stop the car!" the hybrid called out toward the front, his voice cracking
Immediately, he felt the car screech to a halt as Misha and Damon looked back over the front seat to him in stunned awe.
"He's alive…" Damon smirked, "It's a miracle!"
"Barely," Klaus grimaced, looking down to the bleeding slits on his wrists before looking up again and locking eyes with Misha where the warlock now peered around his seat, "But, I've had an epiphany or a dream or whatever…and it told me that we need to turn back—that we need to go back to Mystic Falls."
"What kind of epiphany?" Misha asked, his eyes narrowing in curiosity
"Luka…" Klaus replied, swallowing back the nausea he suddenly felt come over him from sitting upright for as long as he had, "Luka came to me when I was unconscious. He said the compass wasn't enough—that to defeat Dominic we need to send his demonic soul back through a portal—a portal that's apparently in Mystic Falls and connected to the one that Ayanna used to bring their demonic souls through a thousand years ago. It turns out Kaspar was right when he told us that their tattoos were the key—they are. They're a map."
"That's where Kaspar got the map to Johnathan Gilbert's house…" Misha realized before turning to look at Damon, "He drew it from Luka's tattoos. But it wasn't the compass we were meant to find. He meant to show us something else…"
"What?" Damon asked, raising an eyebrow
"I'm guessing the way to this 'portal' that Nik is describing…" Misha replied, turning back toward Klaus, "The tattoos are connected, like two parts of the same map aren't they?"
Klaus nodded weakly and the warlock smirked
"Then they are most likely connected by one or two common ley lines that go through the town…" Misha continued, "Which means, that if we can go back like Nik said and get close enough to Dominic to read his tattoos, we can decipher them and see where the ley lines connect between the two sets of tattoos—"
"Then if we place the connecting lines over a current map of Mystic Falls, we can use the location of the Gilbert House to find the way to the second portal that we need," Caroline finished with a satisfied smile
"Looks like Elena and Elijah are coming to us, instead..." Kol pointed out and Misha nodded
"Luka is right. I don't know why I didn't think of this before…" the warlock said in a low voice, "We can't hope to finish Dominic off for good without a place to send his demonic soul where it can never return to him. We have to go back to town. We have to find that portal!"
Suddenly, he turned in the front seat and sat back down in front of the steering wheel, throwing the car into gear as he quickly made a U-turn on the deserted highway out of town.
"Whoa!" Damon cried, falling back into his own seat at the sheer force of the Jeep's movement
"Wait!" Bonnie interjected, holding onto the back of one of the seats to keep from falling over herself as she looked around the car to the others, "So what's the plan, then, exactly?" she asked, "We can't just roll back into Mystic Falls and ask Dominic to stand still while we read his tattoos."
"We won't need a plan…" Klaus grimaced again as he lay down again, propping himself on Caroline's lap, trying to keep the world from spinning as he felt the car move underneath him, "Do you know what Eidetic Memory is?"
There was a moment of silence as Bonnie contemplated this, but Caroline answered first
"It means that you only have to see something once—either through hard study or just in passing—but once it's been seen, it's committed to your mind forever. So you can see something a long time ago and have total recall for a steady period of time. It's pretty rare and not everyone has it."
"So what does that mean?" Bonnie asked, still confused
"No!" Damon suddenly cried in a surprised and amused voice, leaning over the front seat, "Are you kidding me?!"
"Wait! You didn't…" Kol suddenly smirked, looking down to his brother in complete surprise, before sharing a look with Rebekah, who now had the same look spreading across her face, then looking back to Klaus, "You mean…when he dosed you in the cemetery..."
Klaus nodded, a devilish smile slowly spreading across his pale face then brought his right index finger up to his head and tapped it against his temple.
"Yep…He stood over me for just a few seconds as my eyes fluttered open, but it was long enough to take one good look at his chest. And now, it's all up here."