Read RBC06.50 - Marcella, Vampire Mage Online
Authors: Elizabeth Loraine
Tags: #Magic, #Vampire, #Mage
“There he is. Don’t do anything, Cella, without telling us. We don’t want to make this worse by losing you too,” Richard warned.
“We don’t have much time. I’ll see you all later.”
As my new friends receded into the darkness, I could see Kaer watching them very closely. He didn’t come closer until he was sure they were inside the cottage.
As Kaer came toward me, trotting behind him was Selky, the young male unicorn I had seen earlier.
“Selky, you remember Marcella, don’t you? I need you to find the scent. We have no time to waste.”
Selky tossed his head and then walked up to me.
“It’s all right,” Kaer assured, “you can touch him.”
I stroked his face. It was so soft. His hair felt even finer than my own. “Thanks for helping, Selky.”
He tossed his head once more and then started the task at hand. Kaer and I watched as he veered from the path and began to paw at the base of a large willow.
“This is a bad sign,” Kaer said, as he knelt down and inspected the area. He picked something up and handed it to me.
“Sabine’s earring. What does this mean Kaer?”
“It means one of our own has betrayed us. Fae use the trees to move about unseen. Special large trees, such as this willow, lead to other worlds.”
“You mean they use the trees like we use the portals?”
Kaer nodded. “But only a Fae of this forest would know the magic.”
“Why would they do that?”
He shrugged. Kaer was clearly shaken by this revelation, but I had no time to dwell on it.
“So, are you saying that a Fae took Sabine, or did a Fae let someone in that took her?”
“Does it matter? They’re gone.”
“I need to get in and find her.”
“You can’t do this alone.”
“Listen, you can tell the others where I’ve gone and how I went through the tree.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. If something happens…”
Suddenly Selky’s head shot up, his nostrils flared and he bolted away.
I instinctively reached for my sword, and then I remembered that we weren’t allowed to bring weapons into Nira’s realm.
“Richard, you startled us.”
“You found something? I felt you were going to try to do this on your own and I can’t let you.”
I handed Richard the earring.
“They’re using the willow trees.”
“Use the magic, Kaer. We have to hurry.
Kaer disappeared momentarily and an opening in the tree appeared. I used my vampire vision and Richard followed closely behind me as we stepped closer. But before I could enter the opening, Kaer appeared next to me.
“Each tree leads to a specific place. It will be difficult to find it again to get back this way.”
“I know my way around Althar.”
“Willow, let them follow those that came before,” Kaer respectfully asked the tree.
I covered my outfit with a brown hooded robe so Richard did the same. Magically created steps formed inside the large tree. I took a deep breath, and started down.
Kaer reached out and stopped me, squeezing my hand.
“Be safe. Come back to me.”
I didn’t know what to say so I just nodded. He reluctantly pulled back. Richard gave him a nod and we started our journey into the underworld.
The stairway was suffocatingly close as we spiraled ever downward. Richard held a glow close to him, but even I couldn’t see very far ahead of us.
After several hours, the orange glow of the underworld began seeping up the stairs to meet us. My stomach turned as the stench of Althar hit my sensitive nostrils. The smell, transported me immediately back to my early childhood, where rats had become my first playmates, and Cain my only salvation.
My fingers pulled into tight firsts, my nails digging into the palms of my hands. This was not the fate I would wish on anyone. Cain had always told me that the goodness of my heart had kept us both from succumbing to the evil here.
Though I grew up there, I’d never had a home. Damien changed that for me.
As the stairway ended, we came into a forest of roots. This had to be in the west.
“This is Dark Lord Drakar’s territory.”
“You’ve been here before?” Richard asked, as we walked. His face was pinched by the stench of the sulfur in the air, and lack of fresh airflow.
“Unfortunately, yes, I have. A bounty hunter coming here with a prize like Sabine would go directly to his compound.”
“Is it like this everywhere?”
“If you’re talking about the roots; no. If you’re talking about the smell and the light; yes. The underworld is as diverse as upper earth. There are wide, open spaces, underground rivers, caverns, and mountain ranges. And only the very lower levels are hot.”
“So do you have any idea how we will get Sabine away from a Dark Lord?”
“None. What I’m hoping is that we can get to the bounty hunter before he gets to Drakar’s compound. And I think I know how we can pick up some time.”
As we left the root forest, I took the path to my right.
“How do you know he didn’t go this way too?”
“Because no one in their right mind would go this way; especially with a precious cargo.”
“That’s encouraging. Are you going to tell me why?”
“Because it’s where the serpent nesting grounds are.”
“How is that going to save us time?”
“Because I know something others don’t.”
“That the serpents only nest once every three years, and they were nesting just after I escaped. Cain found that out the hard way.”
Richard shook his head as he stepped beside me. “I can’t believe that you spent most of your life here and you survived.”
“That’s all I did - survive. It did scar me. But I never take anything for granted now. Like fresh air, blue sky, family.”
We both smiled and then we heard hissing and saw movement just ahead.
“I thought they weren’t nesting.”
“That doesn’t mean there aren’t serpents here. Just stay close.”
The cavern opened up, the red glow showing us areas of caves, and a craggy outcropping ahead, which the path curved around.
I started to hum. I had befriended a serpent charmer who happened to have been a captive of my aunt. He used to capture young serpents and make his money entertaining travelers with them. When they got too large he would sell them off or just let them go. The stories and techniques he used fascinated me.
I continued to hum loudly a tune that I’d learned from him and four serpents rose up like cobras and swayed back and forth, their tongues tasting the air around them, the small wings on their backs fluttering slightly.
They turned and watched us as we passed, but didn’t come closer. I could feel Richard’s apprehension as we continued along. Suddenly one snapped his jaws and dropped his head, flicking his tongue only inches from Richard’s face.
I moved with vampire speed between the large beast and Richard, swaying and humming until the serpent calmed, matching my movements with his own.
I pushed Richard back with one hand. The golden male raised his head and watched again as we put some distance between us. Finally the trail began to rise and with relief we exited the nesting grounds; but not alone.
“He’s following us,” Richard whispered. “I think he’s enamored with you.”
“Wonderful. Just ignore him. Maybe he’ll get bored.”
Richard turned and looked back again. “He’s kind of cute.”
I chuckled. “Maybe it’s you he’s enamored with.”
“Maybe. Now what?”
“We shaved off at least three hours going this way, but we’ll keep going until we reach the entrance to the next canyon. We’ll wait there.
The golden serpent followed us the entire way, but when we stopped, he disappeared into the canyon.
“Too bad, I’m going to miss him.”
We found a place that while successfully hiding us from those on the trail, would allow us to see anyone coming this way.
I took out a crimson tablet and let it dissolve on my tongue.
“I forgot you were a vampire.”
I shrugged. “We are who we are. There’s no hiding from it. I love being a vampire.”
“You like the hunt?”
“I’ve never hunted.” I looked over at Richard now. He had the most beautiful copper colored eyes. The long lashes with the gentle curve of his eyebrows framed them perfectly. He seemed to be studying me too. “It isn’t about that for most of us. I love the way I feel. Strong, fast, I see better, hear better, scent easier.”
“It’s wonderful how you’ve embraced who you are. I get so tired of hiding who I am, what I am. All the magical races should be revered, honored; not feared and hunted.”
“I wish it was that way too. For me, being able to be in the upper world is enough.”
“Someone’s coming,” Richard cautioned.
“My father will pay you.” We heard Sabine say. “He’ll pay you more than anyone down here ever could.”
Surprisingly, she wasn’t pleading with him, but making a statement.
“I’m going to sell you to Drakar, along with information on how to enter the Fae kingdom. I will be well paid. Then I will contact your father.”
“I was wrong to trust Drakar.”
Sabine attacked her captor with a burst of power. He struck her hard with the back of his hand, knocking her to the ground.
Her captor strode to the now prone Sabine and as he reached down, Richard sprang to her defense, casting bolts of power at him.
I whipped around to his other side, ripping his legs out from under him with a burst of energy. He hit the ground with a loud thud.
“What are you two doing here?” Sabine asked breathlessly.
“We came to save you. But now we’re not sure you want saving.”
“Of course I did, do,” she stammered.
I saw Sabine’s eyes widen and before I could react, her captor had a knife to my throat.
“Don’t move or your friend will pay with her life. All of you will come with me. Now!” he demanded.
We heard a loud screech; the man behind me yelled and then was gone. I spun around to see him dangling from the golden serpent’s jaws. The serpent shook him twice before flying off with his lifeless prize.
“Let’s get out of here. Do you know a safe way to get back, Sabine?” Richard asked.
“How would I know something like that?”
“We heard you talking, Sabine.”
“You don’t know anything. No one would believe you anyway.”
“I don’t care about your little drama, whatever it was. But you risked everyone’s safety.”
“Like I just said; I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can we get out of here now? Perhaps the Dark Lord will grant us passage.”
“Cathos can you hear me?”
“Marcella, why are you in Althar?”
“I came to rescue a schoolmate. Can you send me back to Niranjana’s?”
“No, but I can send you back to Mormont. From there you can do as you wish.”
“Thank you, Cathos. Tell Cain and Damien I’m all right and that I love them both.”
“I will. I see three of you. Gather close.”
“What’s the matter with her?”
“I was just speaking with a friend.” I grasped each of their hands tightly, and Cathos transferred us to my favorite place on earth; Mormont Castle.
Elite Guard escorted us from the portal room.
“You’ll have to see Allwain before you can go any further. I need to speak to Katrina,” I informed Richard and Sabine.
The Guard took them one way, and I set about locating Katrina. I knew there would be two places where she was likely to be; either the stables or the training ground.
Katrina looked up as I approached. Her extreme scenting ability picked me up long before she could see me.
“Marcella, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you at Nira’s?”
“Something happened. One of my schoolmates was taken to Althar. I took a warlock with me and we got her back. Cathos couldn’t send us back to Nira’s, so I had him send us here. I sent my friends to Allwain. They’re in the lab with him now.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re all right. What are you going to do now?”
“I’d like to stay until tomorrow and then go back.”
Katrina came over and gave me a hug. “Why do I get the feeling you’re not telling me everything?”
“I don’t know everything, Katrina.” I smiled at my joke.
“Well, call me if you need me. I’m going to be going back to America soon. You’re always welcome here or there.”