The plan was simple.
Lure the party into an open plain and deflect damage from the sides. The bait would be in the middle, those with the most powers would interject the situation from the side. The plan seemed simple except for the fact that Stephanie was the bait and Damien had gone missing after a huge argument between them.
Sure she was adamant in being bait, despite everyone’s concerns. Would it be any different from how she already tried to play Joan of Arc with Gilles? No, they should have expected it. Admittedly, even though all of it was expected -- it never meant that anyone would have had to accept it. With that realization in mind, Stephanie knew she had to set boundaries.
She had to outplay their markers.
In an effort to stay abreast she tried to keep tabs on everyone’s taught and feelings. When everyone seemed to drift off on their own she would go up to her room. As time ticked by she continually caught her mind to drift. Similar to the vision she had gotten prior to meeting Jayden she caught herself conjuring images and events circling Gilles. Every now and then she would be startled by these trails of thought as it would be filled with nightmarish images of strangled bodies and mutilated kids. The visions would fluctuate between faces of children she had never seen and the faces of her own that was left behind in the smoking car wreck prior to her change. They always ended in darkness with a devilish laugh that broke the suffocating silence. She would look down onto her hands - bloody hands, which undeniably clung onto a crimson heart.
Time after time she would be pulled back into reality by familiar surroundings of white fog. She would find herself sitting on the bedroom floor, arms hugging her body, swaying, with the latter being drenched in sweat. The occurrence was another aspect that made her different from normal vamps -- their skins where always cool, pale and dry. They were perfectly carved statues that would be frozen into eternity provided they didn’t die from obvious causes. Up to this day, in all the research she had done, she had never heard of any vamp that experienced hormonal outbreaks that drenched them in sweat. In fact she had never heard of any vamp that could just seemingly doze off into what she called -- sleep.
It was on one of these days, under similar circumstances - that she went back up to her room. On this particular day she noticed that her movements seemed tedious, sluggish. She knew that it was abnormal for someone like her to be tired since vamps where known to be able to stay awake pretty much forever. All the effort of reiterating situations, navigating plans and manipulating conversations had started taking its toll on her soul.
She decided to retreat.
As she sat down on the carefully selected red couch that contributed to everything within the room the melody of a familiar song started playing from her earphones. She imagined herself being back in Johannesburg, sitting in the confinements of her old house on a spring day. The memory of her past life grew into memories of her change which then brought on memories of her arrival in Venice, David and as usual Gilles. She tried to pull her thoughts away from the obvious but was again sucked back by fog. The fog evaporated into blackness and she felt her body shivering from exertion.
A powerful voice broke the silent darkness of her catastrophic mind in a sentencing manner. “We came for the girl,” a snake like figure shattered the blackness. “My name is Stephanie,” her mind started prodding, when a voice next to her replied with confidence. “She has broken no rules, what reasons have you in convicting her?”
Stephanie tried to turn her face towards Jayden, but her gaze seemed to be held within the direction of the strange being only. His facial features seemed angelic, his posture upright as she tried to assess his type of character. His gaze was held down, towards the snow as he continued his discussion with Jayden.
“It has been brought to our attention that she has operated out of the common legislation when it comes to killing our own kind.” Jayden met the verdict with somewhat of a comical assertiveness. “How would you propose someone should meet with the other if one is kidnapped after traveling abroad for the sake of gaining information about their own kind? Excuse my ignorance dear de Ville but it’s not as if humans are left with a manual stating Rules and Reg for Dummies once they have survived a change.”
The angelic figure suddenly turned his head upward in a defensive manner. Stephanie gasped as their eyes met. The figure had no pupils, no red glare as she anticipated. Instead his eyes where white, white like snow. His glare was empty, direct and accusing.
“As you know, dear Jayden, such matters can only be discussed within the parameters of open court, especially, considering the fact that it’s a matter close to some of the higher Ranke’s hearts.”
Jayden started laughing, again Stephanie tried to pull her gaze towards where she knew he should be standing, to no avail. The laughter started to evaporate within the suddenly suffocating whiteness. Stephanie tried to draw back, she tried to move but all she could see was the creature’s glare which in return was turning from snow white to a glowing red. She was focussed on his high pitched laugh that seemed to attack her from every direction when a scream suddenly pulled her back through her familiar fog. She found herself back in the red room -swaying, in her usual spot. This time, her hands where clenching her head. They were closing off her ears in an effort to try and block out the nightmarish screams and hellish laughter that still pulsated within them. Sweat dribbled from her upper lip as she was pulled back to reality by a familiar voice.
“Babe, it’s okay, I’m here.”
Shaken by the reality of the vision, she hesitates before circling her familiar phrase in her mind: “My name is Stephanie, I am … not human, I am not alive.”