"Is all of that true?” I nodded, still looking towards the Mansion. I was thinking about Jay, and vague feelings of bloodlust were coming through our link. I knew he was siring now and the thought made me feel ill.
“Lee’s brother – is he coming here? Do the others know?” Sylvester pressed me, speaking urgently.
“You’re not supposed to know – any of you!” The words burst out of me, my fear and anger making me vicious. “I’m supposed to be on his side, remember? Only he wants me dead for what happened to Lee…”
“Well that won’t happen – you know it won’t… but don’t you think we should warn everyone?” I could hear the panic in his voice as his words tumbled out. “Asha we have to stop them.”
“What?” His words didn't make sense to me. There was nothing we could do.
“The siring – you have to stop it! Call Jay! If Lee’s brother gets here and realises what we’re doing… either we kill him, or they kill us. You’re going to have to decide – are you the Shadow? Or are you going to be yourself?”
Those words cut deeply. Of course I wanted to get out of this, I hated being the Shadow, I hated everything about this-but there was no choice. It was the only way it would work.
“I’m valuable!” I hissed, angry and hurt, “They think I’m with them – we need to keep that link if we want to get rid of the Council!”
“I think the break from them is going to have to come a little sooner than planned now Lee’s brother is after you.” Sylvester paused a moment then continued “They want you to destroy the mansion? Do they want proof?”
I nodded mutely. “I want to help you. If you’re not going to tell the rest of them, then let me help!” He spoke desperately.
“You can’t help – you can’t at all! This is my job! It’s my job to kill and bring down every dissenter, every enemy of the Council!” I hated it. It sounded like I actually believed in ding what the Council wanted. But I had to pretend, I had to make him see that I had to do this no matter what. Otherwise the Council would destroy us all.
“I don’t consider my life of very much significance, if any at all.” I glared at him, but he ignored me, “No listen – if they catch me, there’s nothing they can do to me that I haven’t already been through. But the rest of them, Aria… she has to get through this. Use me, Asha.”
“What do you mean?”
“Use me as proof you killed a vampire living in the mansion. It might just be enough to give everyone here time to train the new ones. It might be all it takes to overthrow the Council.”
There was a flurry of movement from the bushes as someone was coming towards us. I couldn't smell them, and I turned, catching a glimpse of blonde hair when Sylvester pulled me against his chest, into the shadows of the tree. I broke out of his arms quickly but whoever it was had gone.
"Sylvester. I am doing this so not one single one of us gets hurt. We have time. I'll go meet Lee's brother... and I'll have to kill him-before he reaches the Mansion. There's no other option. I will not see you or anyone else hurt in this-thats the whole reason I went back to being the Shadow! I didn't want to, but how else are we meant to get into the Council? How else are we meant to know what they want, how much they know?"
Sylvester just stared at me. He didn't seem to know what to say.
"As much as I hate it, I have to keep doing this. Stick to the plan. As for the siring, its too late. Can't you smell the blood? Someone was sired in the forest; that means the others are in the Mansion with a bunch of fledglings. We need to be there. Those fledglings are going to go blood-crazed when they wake up-we need to be there to help the others control them. Else everything we have done so far would be for nothing."
With that, I disappeared into the Shadows of the forest, leaving Sylvester still staring after me.
I'm sorry Sylvester. I hope you can forgive me.
I reached the Mansion, and was just about to come out into the open when I saw the group outside the door. Xavior was holding Harmony behind him while he snarled at a tall vampire, his bleached hair glowing in the little light.
Jasper. I cursed under my breath as I watched. Harmony was clearly scared. Xavior seemed to have guessed who it was and looked like he was going to attack. I made a split-second decision and pulled on my mask.
"Jasper." I called, moving to where he could see me. "A word with you."
Both of them turned to face me. Xavior was suprised, whereas Jasper grinned.
"Ah, just the lady I came to see."
I narrowed my eyes in response as we stood within hitting distance of each other.
"It has not yet been a month" I said in a low voice.
Xavior, get Harmony inside. Make sure no one comes, please. I told him. I couldn't see if he did what I asked.
"Oh I am aware of the time. However, Zelthar felt it would be prudent to keep a check on you, Shadow, as it has been so long since we had the pleasure of your services."
I nodded. "The agreement has still been broken. I was told one month. You have given me a week. I have not long arrived here and now you may have ruined the entire operation. Go. Now, before more damage is done."
"Who do you think you are talking to Shadow?" he hissed, falling into a ready stance.
I placed one hand lightly on the hilt of each half-sword. "This is my operation, Jasper. I am the one in charge, I am running this, and you are in the way. You have breached the agreement and as such, if you do anything more to jepordise the situation, you will regret it. Be sure to know, Zelthar will be most interested to hear of this already. Do not make it worse for yourself."
Jasper grinned, pulling out a pair of daggers. "Be warned Shadow. Your time is running out." He turned and began walking into the forest. I watched him go, but as he reached the edge, he wheeled suddenly, throwing one dagger at me, his face contorted into a snarl. I watched as they came towards me, judging the angle, calculating what I could do to avoid the lethal curve.