Tina could feel the trembling inside her soul, the fear and hope that weren't hers, but it filled her soul with anguish and longing anyway. It had been like that for seven days, since the moment that voice had echoed inside her head. The voice of Dume, as Trinity called him, her child.
It wasn’t logical. How could Trinity’s child be still alive since, according to Trinity’s story, she died in the fourteenth century? And how could she hear it in her head? It didn’t make sense, but nothing had made sense since Damon tricked her into stepping into his house. Somehow the weirdness of it all became a familiar thing. The voices in her head, the pain caused by Abbas and Damon, the strange exercise, the language classes, everything became a routine and Tina wondered if she could even be surprised anymore.
“Can you sense him yet?” Tina whispered as she sneaked around the corner and left the hallway with Damon’s study behind her. She was on her way into the kitchen for a quick snack; because of Trinity squirming inside her soul, searching and reaching out into darkness, she hadn’t eaten a thing at the tea party, the worry that Damon might notice that something was happening inside her growing with each passing day.
“Can you talk while you search?”
There was silence for a long moment, before Trinity’s voice vibrated through Tina’s head. Yes. Why?
“Tell me more about Luehhateters.”
It’s Lueeshareteers, Trinity said. If you intend to use the ancient name, at least use it correctly.
“The Bloodeaters then.” Tina could already see the kitchen door. She learned from Trinity that Damon and his ‘subjects’ were Bloodeaters and that they belonged to the Lost clan; and not just that, Damon was actually a leader of the Lost clan. “You didn’t tell me anything about other two clans.” The Damned and the Fallen. “What are they like? Are they similar to the Lost? ”
No, not really.
“Couldn’t you elaborate a little? Tell me about the Fallen, do they have the same hierarchy as the Lost? You know, the whole Great Lords, Lords, Masters and Servants thing.” Tina shook her head. Somehow it was understandable that the purebreds, Galbeliya, as Trility called them, called themselves Great Lords, but why did they called their turned Lords and Masters?
No, there are too few of the Fallen for that and they can’t turn humans into Bloodeaters. Only the Lost clan can do that. Actually the Fallen don’t drink blood either, they are creature made of energy -- they mutated somehow.
“How do they feed then?”
I don’t know. I think they steal human’s life force or something.
“What about the Damned?” Tina opened the door and after she turned on the lights, she went toward the large, stainless steel refrigerator that stood three cabinets away from the door, just opposite to the island with a stove that ruled the large, bronze-coloured room.
What about them? I don’t know much about them. Look couldn’t you leave your questions for later? Do you really have to bother me with such meaningless things?
Meaningless! “Well, excuse me for being so inconvenient after I have been kidnapped and found out that I carry another soul inside me.” Tina opened the refrigerator door and eyed the food lined on the shelves. “Not to mention that I have therapy with a monster every evening.”
You are cranky.
“Look who’s talking.” Tina straightened.
They both sighed simultaneously.
I understand that you want to know as much as you can, but as I said, I don’t exactly know a lot about the Damned. I can’t help you with that. You should ask Damon about them, Trinity broke the silence.
Tina wrinkled her forehead and closed the refrigerator. “I just want to know if they are the same as the Lost. Can they walk in the daylight? Do they have powers like the Lost, without any visible weaknesses?” She rubbed her temple before she browsed through the cabinet beside it in which Tristian kept his homemade pastries. She picked out the scones. “It doesn’t make sense. And Abbas makes even less sense. You said that you can kill a Bloodeater by severing his head, but he’s alive and he’s just a head, isn’t he?”
Abbas is different. He’s a creator, the last one of the kind, I think, Trinity said. I don’t know a lot about history. The Lost Clan’s leaders had written annals from the time the Bloodeaters broke into three clans, but I never knew how to read them and there was never time to learn. Damon told me some little things, but... I don’t remember them that clearly. You should really ask Damon about it.
“Yeah, right.” Tina rolled his eyes. Like she would ever dare to ask Damon about it. She stuffed the scones into a paper bag she found in one of the drawers. “And what do you mean you don’t know how to read? When I read that magazine yesterday, you read it with me.”
Since I’m part of your soul, I can use your knowledge.
“Oh. Can I use yours too?” Tina turned off the light and left the kitchen.
I don’t think so.
“That’s not really fair, is it?”
Trinity's presence surged forward and love and joy rose inside Tina, the intensity of them so strong that it made Tina gasp.
The soft murmurs of unknown language filled Tina’s head and put a smile on her face. She should probably be worried by the fact she had two voices in her head, talking, and that one of them was part of her soul, but after she got used to Trinity, her presence somehow filled Tina’s lonely existence and make her feel like she wasn’t alone anymore. It was fun having a company in her soul.
She came close to Damon’s study, the danger zone, as she called it. She wasn’t really afraid of Damon, just wary of him. That man put her on the edge, and it wasn’t because of his power that shimmered around him, his supernatural abilities or that he held her fate in the palm of his hand, it was because, despite all that, he was much too likable, so likeable that she couldn’t hate him and that she had to remind herself over and over again that he was not a normal human being.
A soft moan came through the study’s door, which had been closed on her way to the kitchen but now stood half-opened.
She frowned and was about to sneak past the door, when another moan, this time louder with a hint of a sensual note to it piqued her curiosity. She tiptoed toward the door, peeked into the room and froze; the bag of scones fell on the floor.
Damon stood leaning on the large desk behind him, with Tristian before him, Damon’s hand on Tristian’s chest, and his teeth deep in the skin of Tristian’s neck. Damon looked up, his crimson red eyes zoomed on Tina and a half-smile curved his blood-wetted lips, his canines looking like fangs.
Tina stumbled backwards, captured by that red gaze like a mouse before the snake. She couldn’t move and couldn’t tear her gaze from Damon.
Without breaking eye contact, Damon leaned over Tristian again and his canines sank into his skin.
Tristian released another guttural moan, his unfocused eyes closed, and he slumped back into Damon’s half-embrace.
Time stopped for a moment.
Damon gave Tina another half-smile, the blood dripping down his lips onto his chin, just before he raised his hand and swung it through the air.
The door slammed shut.
Tina shook herself out of her daze and rushed toward her room two floors up.
Tina, what’s going on?
Tina opened the door that should have led into her room, but which instead revealed furniture covered with white sheets that had yellowed at the edges.
She opened the next. The same thing. “Damn it!”
Tina. Calm down.
“I am calm,” Tina more hissed out than said. She opened the next door, and the next, and the next.
You are not calm. If you were calm, you wouldn’t have fallen into a ‘loop’.
The loop, the thing that kept her away from the house’s entrance. She could access and use all the places Damon showed her, but if she strayed from that path, she fell into an illusion in which no matter where or how much she ran, she was trapped in this hallway.
Tina squatted down before the opened door, her fingers rubbing her forehead. Trinity was right: If she were calm she wouldn’t have gotten disoriented and ended up here. “I just saw Damon. He was sucking blood from Tristian.”
“So! He was sucking Tristian dry.” Tina knew that Damon lived on blood and she never saw him eat any food while he was with her -- neither did Tristian or Irene, but Tina had never really thought about what living on blood meant, until now.
“But he did.” Tina leaned her side on the doorjamb. “I saw it with my own eyes.” She couldn’t understand why the whole ordeal shocked her like it had. She knew that Damon wasn’t a normal human being, she knew that he was dangerous. Very dangerous. So why, then? Was it because he was using one of his own turned as food? “But why is he feasting on one of his own? And who’s going to be next after Tristian? Irene? Me? Why isn’t he out there sucking on criminals and lowlifes?”
Father is a Gelbeliya, a Halquta purebred, he would never feed on anybody but his Beliyas, Dume said.
“Halquta, Beliyas -- What’s that supposed to mean? Can’t you use normal names?” Tina said even though she remembered that Beliyas meant Lords.
It means that the lords of the Lost Clan are spoiled and they drink blood only from those turned into Bloodeaters by the Blood Ritual. And only on rare occasion do they drink from Ishaaas, the Masters, -- Trinity pronounced the translation of the name loudly -- and on even rarer ones from Aradma, the servants, but they never drink human blood.
It’s too greasy for them, Dume added. It would give them indigestion.
If Ishaas were Masters that meant that they were the ones turned by the purebreds, too, but without the Blood Ritual, while Aradmas were the ones turned into Bloodeaters by Beliyas, if Tina remembered correctly. And Trinity had also said that among the turned only Beliyas could turn humans into Bloodeaters. It was similar to a corporate hierarchy. She found that idea amusing. They used a similar pyramid system, with the Great Lords on the top and with Aradmas on the bottom -- her lips became a narrow line -- or were humans on the bottom?
So, you see, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
“Easy for you to say; just because you and Dume say that he won’t use me as his snack doesn’t mean that... that he’s not dangerous.”
Nobody said that he’s not dangerous, because he is. And it’s Muriel.
My name is Muriel.
“Oh, but Trinity said she named you Dume.” Tina pulled herself up.
She did, but... actually there are three of us, and my name is Muriel.
“Three of you? Umm, what?”
It’s not important right now, Trinity said. We better focus on getting you out of the loop. Unless you want to wait for Damon, Tristian or Irene to get you out?
Of course she didn’t want to wait for them. But -- Wait! “There’s a way out? Why didn’t you tell me that before?” If there was a way out of the loop, she might find a way out of the house too.
Just from the loop, not from the house, Trinity said, like she could read Tina’s mind. Search for the glitch in the walls, it should lead you to the point where you got in.
Tina, with her hands against the wall, moved along the hallway until just at the beginning of staircase her fingers slipped into what felt like water but looked solid.
That’s it, Trinity said. Just walk through it.
Tina did and she found herself at the beginning of a hallway, not the one with her room, but it looked familiar enough. She opened the first door. It was a normal-looking room. Empty. So was the second one and the third, while the fourth one had a tent inside, illuminated by the orange glow of the cage.
Don’t go in there.
“Why not?” Tina stepped into the room, closing doors behind her. “Who knows when you will have a chance to talk to Du -- Muriel again and Abbas makes our bond stronger; it might make the link between you stronger too.”
Tina, no. You can’t. Remember the pain.
“But now that you are with me it doesn’t hurt that much anymore.” Tina stepped forward to the tent. “And this might help me, us, to get out of here.” Yeah, she just needed to get out of here. And if there was a possibility to raise the chances in favour of that, a little pain wouldn’t stop her.
You won’t accomplish anything by entering the tent. Damon is the only one who can control Abbas and even he needs aids for that.
“Abbas...What is he, exactly?” Tina stopped before the tent’s entrance. She could hear the sound of television coming from inside and her heart started to hammer in her chest.
Now? Trinity said. Now, he’s only a monster.
“He’s nothing more than Damon’s tool, right? Why not try to use him; it’s not that he can hurt me, he’s just a head.” Tina slipped between the tent’s flaps. Abbas could help them, she was sure of it.
It’s too dangerous. You don’t know what he’s capable of. Listen to me, Muriel said that now, when they know where you are being held, they will get us out. We just need to wait.
“You might not be able to contact him again.” Tina’s gaze found the glass jar visible over the back of the armchair, the sight giving her goosebumps.
Turn around. Get out of here!
Maybe this was a bad idea.
The metal body slipped sideways, it leaned its metal arm on the side of the armchair and the jar turned for half a circle, the silver pupils staring at her.
Please, Tina. Listen to me. Just turn around and leave.
But there was no turning back now. The cold dread dampened her hairline and inside her she could feel her fear mixing with Trinity’s panic. She stepped forward.
Mom, what’s going on?
Leave! Please, Tina, just leave!
Tina wanted to turn around, she did, she really did, but there was something in those silver eyes that lured her closer and closer. It was like she was a moth and Abbas the light. She needed to be closer, she needed to touch him. She needed to burn herself in his light. Her fingers touched the glass.
But it wasn’t enough. Tina needed to feel his skin under her hand. She pushed the button on the jar’s platform, removed the jar and put it on the floor.
Her hands touched the grey skin, its cold and rough texture of crumpled paper so familiar under her fingers, but so different.
The red whisper crashed into her mind, shoved its way deep into her brain, into her soul, in the same moment as sharp teeth thrust into her wrist.
The pain clouded her vision and a sharp scream filled her ears. Her screams. They were piercing through her eardrums, lasting and lasting as she swam in the redness.
Warm arms circled her; they chased away the redness, replacing it with soothing grey. They held her, carried her somewhere.
A gentle kiss was pressed at her temple before she was laid down on what that felt like the softness of a mattress. She expected the arms to release her, but instead they pulled her closer and as the whispers comforted her, fingers pried her mouth open and somebody forced a warm, copper-tasting liquid down her throat.
Tina coughed and the thick liquid dripped down her jaw. She forced her sticky eyelids open, her eyes meeting green ones. She wanted to speak, to ask what was going on, but only gurgling sounds came out of her throat.
“It’s okay.” Damon caressed the side of her face before he used his hand to close her eyes and released her into embrace of the pillows. “Everything is going to be okay. I promise.”