Clovenwood Academy, hidden within an expanse of clustered dark forest. A stronghold, a place of secretude and a safehaven for the young and supernatural whom live within it. Broken into courts; The Night Court & The Day Court; they learn to control and harness their skills and abilities together, while battling for academic dominance. But none of this means nothing to Nathaniel Huntington anymore. Ever since the death of the love of his life, everything has lost meaning and importance. But soon,
The silvery moonlight penetrated the dark shadowy church through the high windows above. The pews, aisle and altar were illuminated, but the edges of the church remained in the dark; which made Nathaniel feel uneasy. He could feel a chill run through the place…but it wasn’t from wind, or some loss of heat. It was like a ghost had walked straight through him, chilling him to his bone marrows. This place didn’t feel right, and he didn’t feel right in it. But when he caught sight of the dark smear running up the aisle to the altar, the reason of why he was here was revealed. A sudden panic ran through him. He echoed up to the altar, but did not set foot on it, for the sight of the slumped body froze him in position. His heart clenched, twisted by the invisible hand that had hold of it, as he realised who it was. But he needed confirmation… He reached out tentatively, his hand trembling, and slowly turned the body onto its back…his back. It was him.
Nathaniel shot up in his bed and out of tortured sleep. He panted uncontrollably and sweat coated his pale clammy body and soaked his bed. The darkness around him would have been impenetrable, and he would have found himself suffocating in it, if it weren’t for his dead sight. For once, for this one occasion, he was glad that he died. Yes, the price for vision in the darkest night was that of blurred vision in the day, but he would willingly pay.
He took in the dark room around him, and his roommates in the other four poster beds. They were still consumed by sleep. Their chests moved up and down in slow rhythms, keeping in time with their slow breathing; both of which made a great envy rise up in Nathaniel. Although, by this stage he had grown accustomed to the sleepless nights, he never grew accustomed to watching others do it successfully. Sleep wasn’t a necessity for him and his kind, it was a skill learned over many centuries, and a luxury. And luxuries were hard to find since the nightmares had resurfaced.
Nathaniel could hear every droplet of rain hit every pane of glass of each window in the large room. In any other circumstance it would have been a very soothing sound, but not now. Now he wished to be out in it, with the hopes of being struck by lightening. He sighed deeply and laid back against the huge headboard of his bed in an attempt to get some sense of calm. But then, he heard the faint rustling of paper.
He shot back up in his bed and his gaze shot instantly to his left, where the noise was heard. There they met eyes which gazed back; a pair of wine ones, which glowed ever so dimly in the night’s darkness.
“Here I was thinking it was only me,” said the figure to which the eyes belonged, whom smiled at Nathaniel. “I had a slight hope that I had become too powerful to be affected charms. Oh well. The undeniable sleep charm must be wearing off then.” The figure reached out to his right and, with a faint clicking sound, the lamp on his bedside table flared to life atop a stack of parchment pages; illuminating the face of Astor.
His cheekbones jutted out from under his mystical eyes prominently, exaggerating the thinness of his face. His skin had the same chalky marble paleness as Nathaniel’s, shared by all of his kind, which also glowed dimly in the night to match their eyes. Astor’s ash black hair had been parted at his calf’s lick so that his fringe was in two separate parts, tucked behind his ears. His knees were pulled up close to his chest, on which he had an open book propped.
“How long have you been awake?” Nathaniel asked, rubbing away at his throbbing eyes.
“Never been asleep,” Astor replied. “When you weren’t twisting, you were turning. Quite a racket,”
“I’m sorry,” Nathaniel apologised, but wasn’t sure for what. It had been the nightmare’s fault, and they would never be his choice.
“You look a mess,” Astor noted as he dog-eared his current page and closed the book, placing it on the bedside table, and then turned his full attention back to Nathaniel.
“You know, sometimes I forget how much of a great brother you are,” Nathaniel replied sarcastically as he propped himself up against the headboard of his bed once again. But his sarcasm held no humour; his nightmares normally stripped such luxuries away from him.
“No acknowledgement needed, I only do my best,” Astor replied modestly, with a smile that was always infectious to Nathaniel. But not now. Again, the nightmares changed things…and Astor picked up on it instantly. His expression quickly changed to serious and worried. “It doesn’t take a Vampire to know what’s wrong, you know. It was the dream again, wasn’t it?”
“Nightmare, Astor. It was the nightmare,” Nathaniel corrected defensively. He threw his head back and sighed. “I would kill for a dream right now.”
“Really? Because I think I’d just kill for the fun of it. I’ve been so bored! But of course I’d stick to our personal rule we uphold so well: Ten toes on its feet, we do not eat.” To that, Nathaniel couldn’t help but smile, which made Astor smiled even wider. “But in all seriousness, you really should tell the Viscounts…one at least…”
“And what good would that amount to? I would explain it all once again, in horrifying detail, only to get the ‘Death affects us in many ways’ speech for the hundredth time, topped off with ‘It’s trauma, young Huntington’. I know it’s not trauma, Astor! I just know it!”
“Nathaniel everyone is worried!” Astor said in one breath, if Astor did breathe. Nathaniel could see the worry all over his brother’s face and his stationary heart felt a tinge of pain. He hated when people worried about him, he didn’t need it. He hoped all of it would have been eradicated when he was changed, but his sorry life was only complicated further. “None more than me.”
“Well then, see me lying dead and then you can be as worried as you like,” Nathaniel retorted sharply, which he instantly regretted as realisation dawned on Astor’s face.
“Oh. So that’s what it’s about this time,” Astor said. “It’s of me…dying,” he spoke as though he was working through an equation. “Okay. Fine then. I’m dying…in a dream…which isn’t real. So what’s the problem?”
“Nightmare Astor!” Nathaniel replied, irritation tinting his tone. He hated nothing more than when people did this around him, attempting to make him feel mistaken. He wasn’t. “A nightmare like before.”
“This isn’t some repeat of history! I am not her! And besides, before, we all had suspicions and there were many hints before you received yours. And I am already dead. Whoever it was who killed me must have been pretty dexterous in that little nightmare of yours.” Astor let out a slight chuckle, but Nathaniel quickly looked away from his brother. He knew his eyes would give him away…but they had already lingered too long. “Wait. How did I die?”
Nathaniel really did not want to divulge the cause to his brother. It would prove him right, although Nathaniel knew he was wrong. He would think Nathaniel foolish, but either way he would get the information from him. He was cunning when he wanted to be, and persistent.
“You,” Nathaniel began reluctantly. “You…bled…to death…on an altar…” Nathaniel waited for his brother’s laugh, and the look of victory, but neither came.
“How is that good!?” Nathaniel replied, shocked at his brother’s reaction.
“Well, Nathaniel. One, last time I checked, our kind cannot step foot on hallowed or sacred ground. And two, if you haven’t remembered, bleeding out isn’t one of our methods of death.”
“So, what, you think I’m lying!?”
“Of course I don’t think you’re lying. But you are being very foolish! You are believing in nightmares!”
“Yes well, it wasn’t stupid when it was Marcella, was it?” Nathaniel snapped angrily. Silence suddenly choked the room of words at the mention of her name. Whenever anyone spoke of Marcella it was always ‘she’ or ‘her’, no one dared speak her name. None more than Nathaniel, who felt great pain at the sound of it. Astor looked on at him. Nathaniel knew he didn’t know what to say. After all, what could be said? It would always be a tender topic, with the ability to make crowds fall silent.
“I’m, going for a walk,” Nathaniel replied, unwilling to sit in the silence any longer. “No point just waiting for the sun to rise.”
“Oh, o-okay…then,” Astor replied, but before he felt obligated to say anymore, Nathaniel was already out of bed and walking, barefoot, across the large dormitory hall. As his passed his roommates the envy and yearning for the mere action of breathing arose again. He could hear every inhale and exhale they made, which made him need to ball his trembling hands into fists to stifle the want to rip them all apart. He opened the door concealed in the wooden panelling of the walls and slipped out into the corridor beyond; but not without seeing one last worried look from Astor.
The rain outside had ceased abruptly and the dark clouds had separated in the night sky to allow the full, silvery moon shine in through the long gothic windows of the corridors. He knew that Loup-Garou all around the citadel would be tearing at their skin as he took his leisurely stroll. How they could stand the torture of holding back a transformation would forever be a mystery to Nathaniel. Stifling the temptation to feast on human blood was extremely hard enough; but to stop himself from being what he is altogether, like the Loup-Garou do, would be impossible altogether.
The wine carpet that ran down the entirety of the corridors felt good underneath his feet. It cushioned each of his footsteps the way grass used to…in the springtime…when he was human. The walls, which were covered in very regal and expensive looking wallpaper, were crammed to capacity with portraits and paintings; all in golden ornate frames.
Nathaniel tried his hardest to swerve his mind from the inevitable direction it was going…but he couldn’t. All he could think of was the nightmare. It was on loop in his mind, warping itself to become more horrific with every repeat. He closed his eyes in hope his concentration would dispel the images. After all, he did not need his sight or enhanced senses to navigate these halls. He had walked and lived them so many times over the years that their twists and turns were second natured to him. But he opened his eyes nonetheless. The images were going nowhere.
He sighed in exasperation as he ventured further along the halls, examining paintings as he passed them, until he came to a large golden framed mirror. He halted in front of it, and sighed once again.
There was no reflection staring back. After all, he had no reflection to stare back at him. It was a mere fact of his kind, but it was one, along with many others, that depressed him. The Viscounts had always tried their best to make his kind feel more normal, something which Nathaniel would always admire, but never would it be the same to him. No matter how many charms or enchantments the mirrors would have, it would never be his true reflection. No. That reflection was lost a long time ago.
Although his flesh was hidden to the reflective glass, his clothes hung in midair, as though modelled on a ghost. He wore the sleep wear of his court; the Night court. It consisted of a sleeveless black top, with silver stitching on the top right in the design of his court; a star with two back-to-back crescent moons behind it; along with grey shorts, with the same design in black stitching on the left leg.
He gazed on at his empty reflection. How he wished it to be full again, whole again. How he wished he could have the chance to be vain, to stare at himself for hours in the mirror. But all thought was soon interrupted by a faint, but recognisable noise from not too far away. The falling of a footstep.
“Hello?” Nathaniel called out into the shadowy halls. “Anyone there?”
There was no answer, which he had expected. It was not against the rules to wander the halls at night…but it was awfully strange for someone other than himself to be doing so. And since he had nothing to do and hours to kill until sunrise, he decided to investigate.
Nathaniel continued to wander the corridors, calling out at regular intervals. His senses must have intensified over the years, as the footstep he heard as loud as though beside him was proving to be further than he thought. No other footsteps had followed the first. The person was stationary, and Nathaniel could hear their soft, gentle breathing. The sound was easy to follow and, as he grew closer, the scent of the person filled the air, carried on the faint wind.
Nathaniel’s eyes snapped open wide with emotions that flooded his system, and suddenly he was transported through the past…to a memory…a happy time before…
He was there, running through the fields of vibrantly coloured violets that covered the earth as far as the eye could see. He relished the scent that clung to the sun-drenched air. He threw himself down, to lie among the violets.
“You like the smell, don’t you?” Marcella asked, her hair blowing the wind.
“It is beautiful,” Nathaniel replied, before going in for a gentle kiss. They were sitting there, among the flowers, in front of one another. Marcella gently pushed Nathaniel away, and gave him a slight smile.
“Then let me too be beautiful,” she said softly. She placed her hands out on ground, palms facing the sky. Then, one-by-one, she curled each finger into her palm, while taking in a long and deep breath. Nathaniel knew what was happening. She was choosing. A sudden, foreign wind blew through the fields, spiralling around the two lovers, carrying violets on the wind.
Nathaniel’s eyes allowed him to see the transition take place. He could see the scent of the violets being carried from the flowers by the wind. He could trace their path, as though they were specks of purple glitter, which ended on Marcella’s skin. Suddenly her skin was covered in the scent, sparkling with the glitter that covered it. She let her hands goes loose, and the wind stopped suddenly. She smiled at Nathaniel, a stunning, seductive smile and before he knew it he was crawling toward her for another, more passionate kiss.
Unlike before, her lips had a taste. He could taste the violets on his tongue, the sweet, fragrant violets, and their scent radiated off her skin, hugging his nostrils. His whole being seemed to be set on fire by the mere act she had just performed. She had chosen a scent…one just for him…
“Nathaniel,” she said, laughing as she pulled her lips away, and Nathaniel continued to kiss her cheek and neck. “Come on! Your teeth are pricking me.”
Nathaniel quickly pulled away and put his hand over his mouth. He hadn’t realised his fangs had descended. But Marcella didn’t seem to mind, in fact she was giggling at Nathaniel’s reaction. She got up onto her knees and, taking Nathaniel’s hands, pulled him up to do the same. Her hands gently stroked his cheeks, and her fingers ran through his hair.
“I’ve decided,” she said, with the shadow of a smile. She was too concerned on giving his full attention into taking in each of his features. His eyes. His lips. The lines of his cheekbones.
“Marcella, you didn’t need…”but before Nathaniel could finish, Marcella placed a slim finger against his lips, which he kissed.
“When you smell it…think of me?”
Nathaniel could only nod, his emotions were choking him of words. She had made an eternal mark of her love for him, and to that no words could compare. So he would speak no more, but express his love…with a kiss…
Think of me Nathaniel…think of me…
Suddenly he was back in the corridor, ripped from his reverie and plunged back into his dark surroundings. Suddenly his emotions were flooding his system, and he could do nothing but run. He darted down the corridor and into the next. The smell of violets clung to his nostrils, but not it used to. No, this time it stung and burned. Tears, watery blooded tears swelled up in his eyes. He knew. Somehow he just knew it could be no one else.
When you smell it…think of me? Think of me Nathaniel…think of me…
Her voice ran through his head while he ran through the corridors. He was in between two worlds; the past and the present; and could feel the wind, and taste her lips. If he could, he would echo, but his emotions were becoming so uncontrollable that he couldn’t focus. The smell brought him to the balcony corridor. He passed entranceway after entranceway that led to the balconies beyond, darting onto each to only to find them empty, until the smell to him to the last…occupied balcony entranceway.
Then, when he walked to stand in the entranceway, his whole body tensed up, like a cat ready to pounce, his throat closed up and he was frozen on the spot, trembling.
“Hello Nate.” Her voice was soft, almost sweet.
Marcella sat on the balcony handrail, her long legs stretched out from her almost seductively. Her slim silhouette had gained some muscle since they had last met, but she still remained feminine. Her piercing grey eyes shone in the dark. Her once untameable brown mane of hair had become a sleek curtain of coal black, reaching down almost to her hips. Her skin had lost some of its tan since last, and glistened almost in the moonlight. The urge to pounce her, rip out her throat and throw her from the balcony to plummet to her death was overwhelming. But Nathaniel controlled it with gritted teeth. Her purple dress, which was matched with a short leather jacket and knee high leather boots, fluttered in the soft breeze.
“I knew you’d find me, Nate,” she said softly, with a slight smile. Anger was boiling and churning inside Nathaniel, rising up through him like steam; but it was mingled, with sadness, happiness, fear…longing.
“What are you…what are you doing here?” Nathaniel said after a moment, his voice hoarse from the tightness in his throat. He had to bite back emotions. Bite back the part of him which yearned to see her ripped open at his feet.
“I wanted to see you,” she replied, innocent and angelically, with an innocent and angelic smile to match. Nathaniel’s fury was threatening to break the banks of his control.
“You’re not real,” Nathaniel replied in a quiet, trembling whisper. His jaw was clenched and his hands were balled into fists at his sides. “Leave now…leave me…”
“I am here, Nathaniel,” Marcella replied in a soft quiet whisper. As though weightless, she slid off the railing and onto the ground without making a sound. She took an almost ballerina-like step toward him. “And I am as real as the love we share…”
“Then you lied!” Nathaniel growled. “You lied to us all! You let us all think you dead! You let me think you dead!” Nathaniel felt like collapsing in on himself, felt like smashing his head against the stone beneath him until he could feel no longer. Betrayal seeped into his system like poison.
“All I wanted was…” Marcella tried to reply, explain. But Nathaniel was not going to let her try to justify her actions.
“That’s what it’s always about, isn’t it!? What you want! Well then speak up! What is it you want!? To see me miserable once more!? To have me in the crumbling mess I was before, with that silver stake back in hand!?” There was no controlling anymore. Nathaniel had opened the gates, and now his fury poured like flash floods. And was just as deadly.
Marcella opened her mouth to speak once more, but closed it, thinking it the better choice. Nathaniel agreed. If she had spoken, it would have been her final words.
“So, speak,” Nathaniel said, in as calm and collected a voice as he could muster. “What is your real business here?”
Marcella let a moment of silence pass. Her eyes stayed on Nathaniel’s, looking into them with a deepness and intensity, as though looking through windows into his very core. Her eyes held something…something that the rest of her silhouette did not…but Nathaniel could not put his finger on it. Nor did he really care.
“I am here…with an invitation to extend…”
Nathaniel let out a humourless and anger-filled laugh. “You extend the invitation, I refuse, and you die. Here’s to hoping when I refuse again history will repeat itself.” Marcella merely kept her gaze. Her emotionless gaze. “How many must you ‘extend’ before you understand! I am not following you. You left us. You let us all mourn you. I will never do the same..”
“This time is different,” Marcella quickly replied. “Peer Crowendale is preparing for a full-scale assault on the Citadel.” Nathaniel scoffed. “It took a lot of reasoning and bargaining…but he has allowed me to bring you back.”
“Last time I checked, that coward Crowendale is not, and never will be, a Peer,” Nathaniel said through gritted teeth.
“Not yet, but when he was the Citadel overruled and overrun, he will take power. He will conquer, destroy and rebuild in a new image. A perfect image.” The admiration in Marcella’s tone made Nathaniel want to burst his eardrums so he would not have to hear it.
“And, what? Where would I go? Back with you?” Nathaniel laughed. “How you thought that a full-scale attack would have me running back into your arms…”
“He will tear this place to the ground, along with anyone who stays in it,” Marcella warned. But her voice soon turned back to its soft self. “Everyone here is expendable…but not you Nathaniel. Never you.”
Then it was over…Nathaniel’s control over himself was done. His anger was too much…it was turning to him feral. He knew it…he had no chance of regaining control.
“Everyone here is…expendable!?” he snapped through gritted teeth. He was grasping his jaw, which was clenching torturously, as though reforming itself. His chest shook as his breathed raggedly. He was throwing himself around the balcony, knocking himself against any hard surface he could find, in hopes of distracting himself with the pain. But it failed…and the surfaces merely smashed and crumbled on impact. He could feel it. His gums tried to fight back, but they were cutting through them. His top two lateral incisors and all his canines were returning into his gum, only to reappear moments later…sharpened…lengthened…Vampiric. Blood was filling his mouth, and the taste of his own was foul. “Astor is expendable!?”
“I did not mean…” Marcella said, trying to defuse the monster that was taking over Nathaniel, but there was no defusing now. The bomb had already well and truly exploded. And yet, she merely watched.
“Leave…” Nathaniel warned in a strained and low voice. His whole body had to shake slightly, convulsing with the change.
“Leave…” Nathaniel warned, more fiercely. He had thrown himself onto the floor and had begun tearing at the stone. He twisted and turned and convulsed more violently…as his tendencies grew in violence also.
“I would never…”
“Leave!!” Nathaniel roared out into the night, a sound like the rumbling of thunder. All of a sudden of he was in a crawling position on the floor, baring his teeth to Marcella. Then he could no longer feel his senses, only the cold that had swept over him. And as he shot forward, he had only one coherent trail of thought: kill…rip…tear…murder…kill.
He shot forward like a bullet shot from a gun, but before he could reach her, she had already jumped the balcony’s railing and dropped over the sense into the mist that clouded the grounds every night. But Nathaniel could not stop himself…and soon he too was falling through the air, following by the rubble of the stone railing he had demolished in his path. For a few moments, he was twisting in the air as though in slow motion. But that brief moment of weightlessness, of carelessness, was soon ripped away from him when he met the solid earth hard; greeted by the gruesome sound of his shoulder smashing and dislocating.
He screamed out into the night, and used his intact arm to drag himself out of the slight ditch that had been made by his impact on the earth. He slowly, and with great reluctance from his body, rose onto his feet and stumbled around to find Marcella in the mist, which was impenetrable…even to his gifted sight. Tears, watery, bloody tears, had begun to run from his eyes. But it was not from the pain, even though it was excruciating and torturous. The tears were imminent from the moment he laid eyes on the new Marcella…the renewed Marcella… the lost Marcella…and he had kept them in, until now, when she could not gain victory from them.
The rain had begun once again in earnest, Nathaniel’s sleepwear becoming heavy with the moisture. He would have already fallen to the ground from it, if he were human. But not now. Now he ventured on into the whiteness of the mist. He screamed out into the night. He screamed out her name…something he found himself doing whenever the tears would come…or when trapped in his nightmares. He hoped his cries to pour out all the pain inside him, both physical and emotional, but of course, it didn’t.
No doubt others would have heard him cries by now and have been jolted from sleep. No doubt Astor would have recognised the pained cry instantly, and be running through the Citadel in search of his brother. But Nathaniel didn’t care. The only thing he cared about now was having Marcella’s crimson blood stain his teeth…to have his hands wrap around her throat…but now there was something else. The tears were beginning to dissolve the furious, murderous Nathaniel that was wandering the mist. Now he found himself wanting more…he wanted her touch…yearned for her kiss. Her soft, gentle kiss…the taste of violets….
Nathaniel wandered on through the mist, clutching his shattered shoulder, until he came to a clearing…where he could see her. They were mere metres apart. She stood on the edge of the forest that surrounded Clovenwood; a dark expanse of clustered, ancient trees. Nathaniel knew, if she ventured into them, and out of his sight, she would be lost forever. Unknowingly, Nathaniel found his right, injured, arm rising up, his hand outstretched to her. His tears continued to fall down his cold, pale cheeks…but she felt nothing back…for, after one last glance to Nathaniel, she was gone…engulfed by the dark forest.
“No…” Nathaniel said, in the faintest of whispers. His voice was gone…he could feel nothing…if he were human, this would be heartbreak…this would have been the end of him. He tried to rush forward, but his balance had been lost, and he fell to the drenched earth beneath.
He rolled onto his back, and gazed up at the dark sky above, and the silver droplets falling from it. His mother had once said to him and Astor that rain was the tears of Angels, whom cried for those below. But he knew this was not the case. Never would the Angels cry for him…he was lost a long time ago. His soul was nowhere to be found…he was dead…perhaps not to the eye…perhaps not on the surface…but deep inside, he was as good as.
Just as before, he wished he had a stake of silver in his hand…for then he could end it all. By simply taking it in both hands…by simply plunging it into his chest…plunging it through his stationary heart, he could end it all. All the pain…all the memories…everything would be over…he could be free.
Then, with the Angels crying from on high, and the mist slowly creeping over him…engulfing him…Nathaniel was taken by the black.