The most powerful human in a millenia, captured by The Master and surrounded by lies.
|Prologue- The last Rose.
In the garden there was nothing but darkness and death. The intricately decorated fountain in the centre was still, the water having grown stagnant from neglect. A statue stood in the middle of the fountain, it was of the figure of a beautiful woman, with fierce eyes and long elegant limbs. She carried a bouquet of roses, held in a titled, jaunty fashion, from which the water must have poured when it had been well cared for. Five pathways lead away from this centre point, each one covered by a trellis archway that was strung with dead roses. The borders of the paths were defined by raised plant beds, which curved so that they formed ring after ring, spreading from the fountain. There were roses of every kind visible but they too were dead, lying sadly in their wooden coffins, whose faded carvings also depicted roses. The pathways were cracked, with stones jutting up at strange angles, alongside the weeds, which were the only living things left in that desolate place. There was evidence that the plants here had been lovingly cared for and every detail carefully chosen to match or compliment the other. Now there was nothing but decay and a silence so complete that, if there had been anyone to hear it, it would have driven them half mad in moments.
Except, in very centre ring there was one living rose, which stood out like a ruby red jewel in the gloom. It was still tethered to its dead siblings by worn garden string and the earth at its stem was littered with petals. A black tinge was creeping across each petal in turn, causing it to crumple a fall to join its fellows at the bottom of the bed. Eventually, every petal had been consumed and the rest of the plant crumpled.
The last rose in the garden had died.
Chapter one- Beginning of the end
The moon was huge and unusually bright, gilding the street in silver. The singular figure stomping her way through the night noticed none of this, she was too busy scowling down at her phone, which rang repeatedly. An expression of guilt flashed across the girl’s face before she shoved her phone back into her coat pocket and turned right into a dim alleyway, which even the light of the shining moon had not reached. Behind her, in the street she had just left, several pairs of glowing green eyes slipped from the shadowy positions they had been skulking in to follow her. Despite the lateness of the hour, Holly did not look around, the tension lining her shoulders increasing with every chime from her phone and not from fear as she walked further away from the street lights, deeper into darkness. Several other pairs of glowing eyes had appeared somewhere in the gloom ahead of her. Meanwhile, the ones from the street were increasing their pace, losing caution once they realised their prey was not paying any attention to the world beyond her feet. All of the slinking forms paused in surprise when their quarry suddenly stopped, swearing under her breath as she removed the ringing phone from her pocket.
“I left, I know, I’m terrible.” She sighed into the phone. “Look, I know I said I’d be safer this time and get a taxi but I walk this way all the time... I know, I know, I just couldn’t do it Grace. I couldn’t sit there with him grinning over at me. As if he didn’t have a black eye that I gave him. Is that girl still with him? I tried to warn her in the bathroom about what he did to me but I think I just came off mental.” Holly paused in her tirade, having become dimly aware of a low grumbling noise. The kind of growl that vibrates in your chest. “Look, fuck him, I’ll be fine. I’m just round the corner from mine...” The sound issued from the darkness again and a pair of eyes flashed barely five feet from her. “I’ll speak to you later.” Holly hung up and stood there frozen, listening intently, at last noticing the dark, hulking shapes lining the alley. Almost reluctantly, she selected the torch app on her phone and in the light that emitted she found herself surrounded by gigantic dogs. Sharp teeth and eyes glinted at her from every direction. These were no ordinary dogs; they had thick fur and intelligent expressions, the tension in their bodies giving off a wild, raw energy.
The words escaped Holly’s mouth involuntarily. A noise arose from the biggest dog, a deep stuttering grumble. If she hadn’t known better; she would have said the dog was laughing at her. They stood frozen in this bizarre tapestry for several moments, until the big one began to shudder. The movement sent its’ fur rippling in waves that travelled down the animal legs, until its’ whole body was vibrating. The dog’s legs elongated, thickening as skin burst from within the fur and then its snout shortened into a human mouth and nose. Where there had been an enormous animal seconds before, there was now a man rising from a crouched position to tower over Holly. An irritating, patronising smile lined his mouth as he looked Holly up and down.
“I have to admit, I’m rather un- impressed.” The same dog like chuckle echoed all around her. “This is the girl who is the key to ending the war? This has to be some kind of cosmic joke.” Despite his human appearance, his body still thrummed with the chilling wildness he’d had as an animal. He looked arrogant and proud; a predator who had caught his prey. Icy fear ran through Holly, her heart pounded as though she had been running, despite the way her feet were glued to the concrete. “You don’t even know the reason why we have to do this do you?” He said, shaking his head.
“Do what?” Holly had been aiming for a brave challenge but the noise that emerged was a girlish squeak.
“Look, it’s not personal, either you come with us or we kill you.” He shook his head again and half turned to the other large figures in the darkness. “Alvis will be here soon. Do it.”
Holly knew she should try to run. She knew she should scream for help. Knew that she could call 999 in seconds, as her phone was still in her hand. Pure white panic had flooded through her and she could not move. Holly did nothing as the creatures crept closer, cutting off every avenue of escape. Instinct kicked in and forced her feet to move, away from those creeping nearest until her back hit the fence. Holly was trapped. They circled her, deadly silent now, with the grim figure of the man behind them.
“I don’t suppose you’ll just come with us?” He said with a hint of laughter in his voice. She did not answer him. “I thought not.” As though this was the command it had been waiting for, a shining white wolf leapt the distance between them, the others following suit. At the very second they advanced a dark shape dropped out of the sky above Holly and landed in front of her. The figure brought up his bare arm to catch the white one mid- air, using his forearm to bat it back with such force it crashed through the adjacent fence. She did not see it get up again.
“Stay behind me.”
The stranger commanded as he caught two others mid leap in each hand, throwing them as though they weighed nothing. Their leader swore and transformed back into a wolf, the hackles on his back raised as he growled at the man blocking Holly.
“Stand down, Erik, even with this many wolves you cannot hope to get to the girl.” Her defender addressed the largest wolf, unfazed by the fact he had been a man seconds before. The wolf chuckled again, raising his chin as though issuing a challenge and Holly’s momentary relief was dashed as she realised the man had been bluffing. The wolf let out a short, sharp bark and the pack began to creep forward again. The figure in front of Holly tensed, blocking her view of the approaching wolves in an attempt to shield her but they did not make obvious lunges towards them this time. As one unit they tightened the circle of wolves around them and as one got too close and was swiftly dealt with, another tried to slip through the gap left on the other side. There were too many of them. The man was tall but he could only block so much of Holly, gradually the wolves grew bolder and one managed to bite him, which was rewarded with a deadly fast kick that bowled it through the wolves behind.
Holly was so distracted by the wolf that had bit the man she did not noticed the gap this had created on his left side until the jaws of a wolf fastened around her wrist. It yanked Holly so that she was in a clear space away from any protection; somehow she remained upright, knowing that if she fell she would never get back up. She made eye contact with the stranger and the panic in his eyes, speared through the dull shock Holly had been feeling. Quickly, she kneed the wolf gripping her wrist in the head and stumbled back to the guy just as he shook himself free long enough to shove her roughly behind him and dispatch the one who had bitten her with another kick. They were back where they had been moments before, Holly’s back to the rough fence with the man stood before her tensed and ready. This time he was edging to the left and she realised he was trying to get them closer to the mouth of the alley, the side that lead to her flat. They moved in this crab like fashion, the pair of them breathing fast as they beat back renewed attempts to break through to Holly again. She could see him looking around, absurdly calm, calculating a way out. He paused, swearing under his breath momentarily before crashing through the smaller number of wolves to the left, dragging Holly with him. This sudden move cleared a gap as they instinctually moved to attack him or run, which the man slung Holly rough towards.
“Run, Holly. Get home!”
She obeyed swiftly, only to find her path blocked by the largest one. No longer laughing, he was bearing his teeth and growling. Holly’s heart plummeted as she glanced behind and saw that her saviour had been brought to his knees, overwhelmed by five different wolves at once. Despite the terror that was turning her veins to ice, Holly squared her shoulders and prepared to stand her ground. The bigger one was advancing again, backing her into the remaining creatures behind her, when a sudden pain lanced through Holly’s mind, causing her to almost crumple in agony. Where there had been ice seconds before, suddenly she was filled with fire; a terrible, yet wonderful, sensation of power. Holly felt infinite. The seconds stretched and slowed, she was no longer afraid as she felt the energy fizzle through her. She raised her hand, which sent the energy plummeting from her finger tips in an invisible shock wave that slammed into the stalking figures. Time snapped back into its normal speed and Holly found herself surrounded by immobile creatures, transforming back into humans as they passed into unconsciousness.
Holly stared at her own hands in shock; they had been flung a clear six feet away from her, through fences and street signs. She looked up and her eyes met those of the man who’d come to help, Holly had barely a moment to register the look of pride upon his expression before her legs gave way and she crumpled to the ground. The energy left her just as suddenly as it had arrived; leaving a numbing sensation that crept through her body as she lay on the cold concrete. Holly was dimly aware of laboured footsteps and a body half collapsing, half crouching beside her. A beautiful face appeared in her field of vision, a reluctant smile tugging at the corners of his mouth when an involuntary gasp escaped Holly’s lips. She hadn’t realised her rescuer was so attractive. Anger at being the damsel in distress again in front this guy flushed through her, beating back some of the numb sensation but she still couldn’t move. His face was filled with concern, which transformed into a pained expression as he fell beside her. He pulled Holly’s body up so that it rested in the crook of his leg in the sitting position he had crumpled into on the ground. He was panting with effort, slumping against a remaining section of the alley ways’ fence. The stranger looked down at her again, his eyes were full of tenderness and concern but the second he noticed her eyes focusing on him, the expression cleared into a stony mask.
“How do you feel?”
“Floaty.” Holly replied, smiling vaguely up at him. His body was bowed over hers in exhaustion. She frowned. “I’m sorry.”
He laughed a little, “Why are you sorry?”
“You’re hurt because of me.”
“Don’t be sorry, I came here to save you.” He grimaced again. “I can’t move you somewhere safe just yet though but I’ve got help coming.”
“But you’re 'Mr. Knight in shining armour'. No point playing superman if you can’t save the girl.” The stranger grinned reluctantly again.
“Not superman, a different kind of not- human.” Holly’s gaze fell on the immobile figures surrounding them.
“Not human like them?” She said quietly. He paused, giving her a measured look and took a deep breath.
“Not human in a different way.”
“What are they?”
“Werewolves.” He whispered through teeth clenched in pain. Without thinking, she surprised herself by bringing a hand up to touch his cheek gently. Holly did not know him but the idea of him hurting was somehow intolerable in her dazed, tired state.
“Are you okay? Why can’t we move yet?” At her touch, he drew in a sharp intake of breath. His pupils widened and set of glittering canines suddenly jutted out over his bottom lip. He closed his eyes and took several deep, steadying breaths. The elongated teeth retracted and he opened his eyes again but his body was still filled with tension.
“Lost too much blood.” He said through gritted teeth, reaching up to remove Holly’s hand from his face and placing it on her stomach. He casually left his hand covering hers, as though unconscious of doing so. Pain shot through the hand he was holding and she remembered it was the wrist the wolf had bitten, which was still bleeding.
Understanding flooded through Holly and she found that she was not afraid; it was hard to deny the supernatural when it had, quite literally, slapped you in the face. She slipped her hand out from under his and raised to his face again, holding it just level with his chin this time, her wrist bared upwards, brushing his bottom lip. Hunger filled his eyes and the glinting teeth appeared again, pricking lightly against the sensitive skin of her wrist. Holly could see his jaw clenching as he bought his hand up to clutch hers again but did not remove it this time.
“It’s okay, I think... I think I understand what you are and I’m not scared. You saved me. This would help you, wouldn’t it?” She could feel his pulse thumping against her hand but still he simply gazed down at her, wearing a hungry yet wary expression. Holly met this look with steely resolve.
“Technically, you saved us both. I was a terrible knight in armour.” He said.
“That makes it your turn then. You can’t do that if we can’t move.” Holly replied resolutely. Hesitantly, as though hoping to make it transparently clear what was about to happen, he clutched her hand fiercer than before and fixed his mouth over her wrist, the teeth pricking with greater insistence against her skin. Their eyes met and Holly nodded, she was breathing fast as well now. He sank his teeth into her, the brief flare of pain giving way quickly to a euphoric feeling. Holly was dimly aware that this decision had pushed her energy-less body to its limits, the edges of her vision blurring into darkness until it consumed everything and she felt consciousness leave her body.
“The fuck Alvis?”
“James calm down.”
“Really? This is the very definition of ‘worst case scenario’ and you’re saying we should just be calm about this? How did this happen?” Holly blinked up at her living room ceiling, clearing the edges of her vision. Freezing as she comprehended the strange voices in her flat, hoping they had not noticed she was awake.
“I got through to Anya; there was an attack on the manor tonight.”
“But who would have... oh,”
“Yes, the Master orchestrated an attack against the fey; he’s taken the manor and killed hundreds of their elderly and children.”
“Why would he do that without warning you? You would have known Holly wasn’t safe; you would have been there to stop this happening... Now we have no choice.” The first voice rang with anger. Holly tried not to panic as she realised they knew her name.
“Yes.” The second voice just sounded weary. “I think that was rather the point. Two birds with one stone, as they say.” Before Holly could react a figure appeared above her, peering down at her with concern; it was the man from the alley. She hoped he hadn’t noticed her face flushing. “You’re awake.” He said simply.
“How the hell did you get in my flat?” He held up a set of keys and jingled them in answer. Holly sat up, ignoring the wave of dizziness that hit her. “Well, thanks for the save and everything but my flat mates will be home soon so...”
The other one laughed, retreating to the other sofa in the room after a reproachful glance from the alley way guy.
“Holly, my name is Alvis. It is my job to protect you. This is James; he’s here to help too.” He gestured to the boy on the sofa.
“Protect me? We would have died if I hadn’t...” Holly trailed off, her memories catching up with the rage and bringing it crashing down. “Explain what is happening. Now.”
Alvis glanced at James, who shrugged from his relaxed position on the sofa. “We don’t have time to explain Holly; you’re still not safe here.”
“Then give me the cliff notes version!” She spat, struggling to keep the hysteria out of her voice.
James laughed again “cliff notes version is this: those were Werewolves in the alley, we’re vampires who’re part of a guard of vampires who have protected you your whole life because every supernatural faction in existence is trying to either kill you or turn you and the Master would rather it was us that did that...”
“James!” Alvis cut him off angrily.
“She asked for the cliff notes!” James’ voice was exasperated but his eyes glinted with cruel enjoyment. In response, Alvis gestured angrily to Holly’s pale face.
“She’s still human James. Have some patience.” Holly vaulted the back of the sofa as he said this, retreating to the kitchen behind her where she knew there was a phone.
“You two are mad. You need to get out, now, before I call the police. My flat mates really will be home soon, if you get out before then no one but me will have seen your faces and I won’t report this too...” She trailed off, James had begun laughing again.
“Really? After what you just witnessed in the alley? After you let him bite you? If we’re mad then I’m afraid you’re part of our psychosis love.”
“I bought you here to help, not hinder this process James.” Alvis did not shout but his words cut clear across the room and silenced James in seconds. Holly had located the phone and was subtly trying to press the number nine for the third time when Alvis appeared next to her. He had moved across the room during the mere moment it took her to press the last button; the phone was in his possession within another second.
“Please.” Holly’s head was hurting again and she was afraid, all the certainty she had felt in the alley drained from her. As she spoke, Alvis’s face softened momentarily.
“I know this is overwhelming. I know I am asking you to trust complete strangers but you are not safe here.” He hesitated then, a series of emotions flickering across his expression. “That instinct that made you trust me before... believe in it, Holly. You may not have known me for very long but I have known you for the whole of your life.” The world around Holly was greying again, purple stars began popping across her vision as the same pain she had felt before stabbed through her body. For the second time that night Holly felt herself collapse as the energy scoured her veins. It seemed that millions of voices were screaming inside her mind.
“It hurts” She screeched, clawing at her skull. “Make it stop. Please!” Alvis was there to catch her this time. His voice cut through her pleading and the shouting inside her mind as he repeated over and over,
“Holly, I’ve got you.”
Six of the council members had seated themselves at the table on the raised dais; the place where the royal family members of the fairies would have sat, before this place had been stolen from them.
“Won from them, Alvis, not stolen. Some of our people died in the battle for this place of power, do not diminish their sacrifice.” Alvis repressed the urge to flinch at the sound of the Master’s voice; he had not heard him approaching and had been letting his thoughts run freely.
“I meant no offense. Despite their many wrong doings against us, I won’t pretend that I feel nothing for the fey. I have known many of them a long time as a result of the alliance.” He schooled his face and mind into bland nothingness, the flush of anger retreating from his cheeks.
“You, my imperfect soldier, should not feel anything at all.” The Master took his seat at the centre of the table; in the ornate seat the queen would have sat in. “Weak.” Alvis repressed another flinch. The Master did not disguise his feelings and his face was contorted with disgust. The other council members simply sat there in silence, their expressions vacant as their bodies slumped in their seats. “So, the girl is here. At long last.”
“Erik and some other wolves ambushed her and she witnessed their transformation. I have managed to stabilise the power within her for now but it will not be long until the magic overwhelms her.” Alvis noted the smug, self satisfied grin the Master wore. This had been his plan all along.
“What a remarkably successful evening. We have captured the fairy stronghold and our prodigal girl is among us at last. Do not look so disheartened Alvis, I am sorry for the way it happened but she has grown up now. The girl is twenty one, she’s had her time as a human and you were right to believe it would lend her strength that a life among us would not. For that and you’re actions this evening you are to be congratulated. You must ensure she enjoys her remaining time as a human and feels at home among us, after all, she strikes me as one who would fight willingly for people she thinks of as family.” Alvis gave a tight nod, unsure why his insides were filling with dread. “As soon as she is lucid again, I would like to meet her.”
He measured his words carefully as he replied. “Sir, Holly has just been introduced into this world. She will be disorientated and frightened. I am not sure introducing her to the might of our ruling council would be a wise move on her first day among us. We should make her feel at home first.”
“Yes, well, it is of the utmost importance that she’s feels safe and comfortable here.” His eyes skewered Alvis. “This is a task that you must not fail. I will follow your advice and delay our meeting with her for now. All that is left to discuss is the matter of the power you must have taken from her in order to ‘stabilise’ her.”
At these words he ascended the three steps that lead to the dais and strode across the space they had cleared of tables to create a throne room. The Master held his hands out to Alvis, who took them willingly, glad to be rid of the power that had been make him feel jittery the entire meeting. His expression showed no pain as the power crashed through his limbs and into the Master, whose eyes turned a deeper shade of brown that became almost black as he was hit by wave after wave of magic. Alvis used every last ounce of his own strength not to let his knees buckle under him, his every nerve scorched and raked raw by the process. If Holly had not given him her blood he would have been unconscious by now. The Master knew what this process cost him but Alvis felt no remorse in his mind while their hands were clasped. As he released him, a manic grin twisted his carved features.
“If her blood is so potent that you were able to withstand this process for once, imagine the breadth of her powers once she becomes one of us.” With those words he turned his back on Alvis and moved to exit the room, the other members of the council standing to join him, following him like lost ducklings. Knowing this to be his dismissal, Alvis retreated to the room they had been allocated in the fairy mansion.
The sun was very bright, searing through a gap someone had left in the curtains, causing Holly to wriggle deeper under the covers. Her head ached in a way that reminded her of the time she had sun stroke; dull sluggish thoughts trickled slowly to the conclusion that this was not the cheap tie dye duvet of her room, nor was the gigantic four poster bed familiar. Holly lowered the covers and looked around, a mixture of panic and awe washing through her heavy brain as she registered the opulence of the room.
The plush, velvet curtains draped gracefully onto dark oak floors, which were littered with rugs that would have covered the entirety of her living room at home. Except the grand bed, all the furniture looked relatively modern but it had this well made, sturdy look to it and probably would never have associated with the Ikea stuff she owned. An equally ornate painting of an exotic, wild landscape spanned the breadth of one wall, which was reflected in the similarly gigantic mirror of the opposite wall. Holly had woken up in many unfamiliar places during her life but this one was my far the nicest. Then, she remembered. She remembered the wolves, the strange men in her flat, the pain. They must have brought her here. Now that she was paying attention, Holly could hear the muffled sound of a T.V. in the next room but there was no sign of anyone moving around in there. As stealthily as her drowsy limbs would allow, she snuck towards the nearest door and opened it, only to find that it was a walk in closet. Generally, a cupboard would not have been something to be afraid of but a thrill of fear rushed through Holly at the sight of it; every rail and rack was filled with clothes that were both her style and size, there was even one filled with her clothes from her flat. They intended to keep her for a while. Closing this door, she moved to the next one and cracked it open slightly. The chatter from the telly filtered through but Holly couldn’t see anyone in the room. This room was just as grand as the one she had exited, if a little more modern.
“Are you just going to hover in the doorway, or are you going to come in?” Holly recognised that voice; it was the man who had accompanied Alvis in her flat. “Christ, your heart is going a million miles a minute. Calm down. You’re safe. Just come out here.”
“You have sort of abducted me.” She said but emerged anyway; James was doing his best impression of someone lounging on the plush sofa. Something seemed a little bit off, however, like he was working too hard to look relaxed.
“Not abducted. Rescued.” He countered.
“Where am I?”
The vampire’s lair.” He said, wearing a cheeky grin, which quickly faded as Holly’s face paled in response. “Wow, you really need to calm down. Seriously, though, this is our base of operations, that’s all. Alvis patched you up as best he could and then we brought you here. We can’t protect you out in the human world anymore.”
“Protect me from what, exactly.” She asked and James shifted uncomfortably.
“I’d rather you’d wait and just let Alvis explain. He’ll do a must better job. He’s with The Master right now.” Holly moved further into the room, in order to block his view of the screen.
“I don’t want some polished, bullshit version of the truth. I got more information out of you before in thirty seconds than I have from Alvis in the time I’ve known him.”
“In all fairness, there was a lot of fighting happening, plus you passed out. Twice.”
“But why? Why did I pass out? Why did those things attack me? Where am I? Just tell me something, please, I feel like I’m going insane.” Holly’s voice hitched involuntarily, which made her even angrier. James sighed.
“Look. I’m really not allowed to say. Be a good little human and go back to your room.” Holly didn’t move. He sighed again. “Seriously, to coin the human phrase; this is above my pay grade, I cannot tell you anything.”
James gave a derisive snort. “Sure. If he has permission.”
“Permission? So neither of you is in charge of what’s going on here?”
“Yes. I am very far down the chain of command and Alvis... Alvis is bound by other things.” Holly wanted to scream in frustration. There were three doors leading off from the room they were in, hopefully, this guy would leave at some point and she could try to escape. James chuckled “this might just look like some fancy hotel to you but this is the fairy stronghold. A place they’ve perfected and defended for well over a thousand years. Try to escape if you want Holly but I guarantee you won’t be able to. Plus, if you leave you won’t live very long. It’s not just the wolves who are after you.” He laughed again at Holly’s astonished face. “How did I know you were thinking that? Don’t worry, I can’t read minds; I’m not Alvis. It’s written all over your face, Holly. You never were a good liar.” With this final statement he turned his attention back to the T.V. and it was as though she had blinked out of existence.
Holly stared at him for a second, studying the animal like grace of his movements; the feral energy that seemed to be coursing through his body was visible through the way he forcibly slackened muscles, though his eyes were alive and shining. James was so undeniably in- human that she feared him in a way she hadn’t with Alvis and it caused her to retreat to the bedroom quickly. The hunger she’d seen in Alvis’ eyes in the alley had felt like a door he could open and shut but with James it was woven into every fibre of his being.
Now she was back in the room and stuck there, with no entertainment for a mysterious number of hours. Holly strode to the vast array of windows that flanked the wall opposite the bed and began to try all the latches, thinking they’d be as ancient and rusting as they looked. The delicate, Victorian windows turned out to be double-glazed and thoroughly modern. She jiggled each one in turn, hoping one had been left unlocked but was vindicated in her belief that her luck would continue to be abysmal. Struck by a sudden idea, Holly went to the dressing table and rummaged through the draws, finally finding a pretty box that had been filled with hair pins. One of her mother’s boyfriends had taught her how to pick locks. The first lock she came to the pin seemed to hit a hard, impenetrable barrier, although nothing was visible when she squinted into it. The same was true for every single one Holly tried before giving up, lobbing the box of pins at the windows in frustration, causing them to explode everywhere.
The window she’d hit gave a satisfying rattle, which lead to another idea. Holly went back to the dressing table and picked up the chair, feeling the weight of it. Despite its solid oak appearance, it was very easy to lift, so Holly carried it over to the windows and, with a slight twist to add some extra power behind it, threw it in a satisfying arc. Just like the pins in the locks before, the chair seemed to hit an invisible barrier and rebounded straight back at Holly, knocking her off her feet. Un- surprisingly after the racket she had just made, someone burst into the room and came running over to her. Holly braced herself for laughter and when none came, she looked around to see Alvis, who silently removed the chair from on top of her and pulled her to her feet. His face was expressionless as Holly shot him an embarrassed smile.
“Are you hurt?” He asked.
“Are you talking physically, or about my pride?”
“Physically, I believe I can make assumptions about your pride.” There was a shadow of sadness in his features. “Holly, there is no way to escape here and even if you found a way, I beg you not to take it. You are not safe in more ways than you can imagine.” Holly was caught off guard by the sincerity in his voice. She considered him for a moment; he was tall and slim but muscular. Alvis reminded her of soldier, from his build to the way he stood with his hands clasped behind his back; she felt a blush creeping across her cheeks again.
“Can you really read minds?” Holly blurted out.
“No, James was exaggerating. I can feel what others are feeling and see it in the air around them. I have other gifts that allow me to suppress or transfer power too, which is why I was in charge of guarding you.”
“Why would being able to suppress power be useful in guarding me?” Curiosity had won over the sudden desire she’d had to escape. “I’m nothing. I’m a skint student, who works as waitress full time as well as a full time university course. I have the least interesting life imaginable and I’m no one special.” Alvis surprised Holly once again by responding with a dazzling smile. It transformed his face from that of a timeless statue to a young school boy.
“Holly, you have no idea. What happened in the alley, was that the work of someone who is ‘nothing’? You must have felt it. The power.” She remembered the way fire had rushed through her veins, how every inch of her skin burned with a wonderful, glorious energy.
“I remember but I don’t understand.” He moved closer to her, his blue eyes suddenly burning with intensity and brightness.
“It is a very long complicated story, Holly, one that I promise to tell you soon. Just know... just know that you are as far from nothing as a human could possibly be. The power within you could destroy the world twice over if you willed it. It is power that has not been seen for thousands of years.”
The fierce pride that he spoke with made it hard for Holly to continue to think of this as madness. Between that and the wolves, alongside the evidence of the way James and Alvis behaved. Coupled with the powerful sensation she had experienced before flinging several creatures without touching them in the alley; there were two conclusions left to her. A: Holly had gone insane and this was a vivid hallucination. B: This was real.
“If I’m so powerful,” she said whilst moving to sit on the bed “then why am I not safe?”
“Humans aren’t capable of handling that kind of power anymore. It either drives them insane or kills them.” He moved the chair so that he could sit opposite Holly, his tone hardening as he continued speaking. “The only reason you have survived this long is due to the block I had placed, with the help of a fey, which mean that as long as you did not see or experience anything overtly supernatural, you could live as a human.” Holly heard the rage in his voice but she was too caught up in her own worries to question it.
“That still doesn’t explain why I needed protecting.”
“Humans lost the ability to manipulate magic a long time ago, as it has begun to fade from the world. However, through a freak of genetics, or fate, occasionally a human is born with an innate power, which will turn inwards and kill them if there is no supernatural intervention. One of the supernatural factions will try to take the child because any human that is powerful, will be even more so once turned and able to access said magic. In some, like me, it manifests in abilities like the ones I described to you before.”
“You’ve still not answered the question.” She interrupted impatiently. If Holly was going to except that Alvis was sane and this was really happening, she would need answers.
“You’re not listening properly Holly.” Alvis did not look annoyed; his expression was grim, as though he dreaded explaining this to her. “Whoever gains possession of such a powerful human, would be able to turn them. It would be necessary for their survival but it means that,”
“They would have gained a weapon.” Holly quietly finished for him.
“There are five branches of supernatural creatures and they have been at war since the first of them came to be.” He continued with a gentler tone. “The vampires reached you first. They could have taken you when you were young but it was decided that you could grow up with your family, under constant protection of course. Until yesterday, we had an alliance with the fairy people; they were passing me information to help protect you from the other factions that were trying to gain possession of you. It meant you could keep living a human life.” His jaw tightened, anger creeping into his voice now. “The wolves got to you before I could stop you seeing anything. Now you have witnessed the supernatural and I have done as much as I can to stem the flood of power within you.”
Holly felt suddenly hollow, seeing the conclusion before Alvis could say it. “How long,” she cleared her throat “how long do I have left to be human?”
“Two weeks at the most.” He shifted his chair closer and almost reached out to take her hands, stopping as he saw Holly withdraw hers to cross them over her stomach, clutching at the material of her top.
“Will you make me become a vampire then? Since the vampires have ‘won’ me.” Alvis’s jaw clenched even tighter, his brow knitting together in a frown. Holly could almost believe he felt some regret about this.
“The transition is always easier if you choose it.” He said softly.
“But either way, it will be the same result, in the end.” She asked persistently. His expression was grave as he nodded. For the first time, Holly was struck with the sudden need to be away from Alvis. She got up and went to the door of her cupboard. “I presume one of these doors leads to a bathroom?” Alvis nodded again, looking puzzled. “Then get out. I want to shower and change if I’m going to be stuck here. Thank you for answering my questions and for coming to see if I was hurt. I won’t try to escape again.” He had to pass her in order to leave the room. Alvis paused, suddenly very human as he hesitated, looking at her with worry.
“I guess, as I am your captor, you will not believe me when I say this but I am truly sorry, about all of it, really. I know you had plans. I know you finally had things figured out and I have ripped all of that away and replaced it with eternity and war.” Holly had a face turned from him, her eyes were burning and she did not want to cry in front of Alvis. Again he almost reached out to touch her but hesitated, returning his hand to his side in a tight fist. “James and I have been given a task that we must leave to complete at once. You can go where you want inside this mansion. Please respect the doors that are locked because it will be for your safety. Someone will bring food regularly.” With that he left, gently clicking the door shut behind him.
Holly heard James’s muffled voice say “how’d she take it?” from the next room.
“She’s very strong; we both know that, James.”
She clasped a hand over her mouth, masking the sound of her sobs as she trembled and slid down the cupboard door to the floor. Strong and powerful was the last thing she felt in that moment.